Gourmet Pets

I had a discussion one day, a while ago, with some fellow cat people, about what they feed their pets, how much it cost to feed their pets and how it relates to what the people feed themselves.

As you know, I’m fairly particular about what I eat. I like to buy organic. I don’t eat junk food (usually). I like my food to be as natural and as additive-free as possible. So, for me it seemed obvious that I would feed my pet the same way.

Bazel gets Wellness brand cat food (A different flavour each day of the week – he only likes the poultry or fish ones). He gets one 5.5 ounce can per day at $1.99 per can. Then, on the vet’s recommendation, Bazel also gets a scant ¼ cup of the Hill’s Prescription Diet dry – the one that keeps his teeth clean. One bag of that stuff is about $30ish, but it lasts for months and keeps his teeth tartar-free. Teeth cleaning for cats can cost thousands since they have to knock them out to do it, so I reckon I’m saving money in the long run.

 On Sundays, Bazel gets a special treat. I get him the small cans of Snappy Tom  tuna or tuna with salmon dinners. He gets one of those in the morning and one in the evening. Each can is $1.69. They’re yummy because they look like actual chunks of fish, not all pasty like the usual cat food. (Zoom’s cat, Duncan, gets his special treat on Tuesdays)

I also always try to have some cat grass in a pot growing somewhere he can gnaw on it.  Sometimes he eat a whole bunch of it and throws up. Apparently cats enjoy throwing up cat grass. They eat it specifically so they can barf it back out. Cats are mental.

A lot of people think I spend too much money on cat food. But that cheap stuff in the grocery store just doesn’t even look like, smell like or contain ingredients that resemble real food. And yet, I know plenty of pets live long and happy lives on it. I don’t know if Bazel is any better of with his all-natural food or not, but it doesn’t make me gag when I open it first thing in the morning and that’s the important thing.

I usually buy Bazel’s food at Global Pet Foods on Bank Street. What a great place. They don’t sell animals, of course, but they have pretty much everything else pet-related you could ever possibly want or need. Lots of natural pet foods and healthy pet treats; toys, crates, leashes and other gear.  It’s also a very social place. The owner’s and/or employees’ dogs are usually there. Customer’s dogs wander in gamboling with each other. Cat people are in the cat section exchanging tips and ideas on cat toys and cat entertainment and cat food. 

Occasionally a gerbil person can be found in the gerbil section. They’re usually alone looking at blocks of wood shavings or little gerbil mirrors.

So, anyway, I’m wondering what you feed your pets? Back when I was a kid our pets foraged for food on the farm. They’d get table scraps and when (and only when) foraging and scraps were scarce they’d be supplemented with store bought pet food.

Now vets are horrified by the idea of pets getting people food. They’re horrified by the idea of pets being outdoors and eating mice or birds or plants or random bones they’ve dug up.

Of course back in the day, pets didn’t live to be 36 years old either.

I once worked with a woman called Marissa (yes, that’s her real name) who was one of those certifiable vegans who give normal vegans a bad name. She only fed her cat potatoes and beans because cat food was made from “the putrid flesh of murdered animals“.

I once had a cat named Dwight who was obsessed with spaghetti. Whenever he smelled it cooking, he’d try to dive into the pot. I had to lock him out of the room if I wanted to eat my spaghetti without being killed for my meal.

Bazel is only obsessed with normal cat things like fish and cheese. He will also happily kill me for either.

Now that I think about it, I always seem to have very aggressive cats.


Disclaimer:  I am earning no revenue nor am I receiving any gifts for mentioning any of these pet food brands or pet food shops….though I would happily accept gifts and/or revenue should they be offered.


Every once in a while, at job interviews, I’m asked what I think is my biggest flaw. I always say, “impatience.”  There are other contenders, of course, but nothing I’d care to discuss with a prospective employer.

Now, for me personally, I don’t think my impatience is a problem because I mostly feel justified in not wanting to spend a significant percentage of my time waiting. However, I do realize that waiting is part of life; that the world can’t adhere to my schedule (or any other schedule as far as I can tell); and that my impatience can impact others; so in that sense, I do see it as a problem.

For instance, I don’t like standing in lines. No one really does,  but many people just do it because they figure that’s just the way things are. Me, I’d rather leave and not purchase whatever I came in to purchase, than stand in a line for more than a few minutes. I think since  a place of business encourages lots of customers and makes their profits from those customers, it ought to ensure that those customers spend the maximum amount of money in the shortest possible time.

Instead they have one cashier on every day during the lunch rush (I’m looking at you Shopper’s Drug Mart, Hogsback). The line is 15+ people long and when I ask why there aren’t more cashiers on, they tell me (like I’m dense) “D’uh, it’s lunch time – they’re at lunch.”

Oh! Shall I come back when it’s more convenient for you?

Or the other day, we had a completely unnecessary appointment with one of XUP Jr.’s medical specialists. It was just to brief us on the completely unnecessary test they made her do a couple of month ago, the results of which are completely irrelevant. So they made the appointment  – for 11:30.

Fine. We show up 10 minutes early. (Because I always strive to be early for appointments out of respect for the busy people with whom I have an appointment.) XUP Jr. is missing school for this and I’m losing a half day of work.

By 11:45 I’m getting twitchy. By 12:00 I’m getting irritated. By 12:15 I march up to the counter and ask (as nicely as I possibly can) how much longer it’s going to be.

“Ma’am,” she says without even looking at me. “You’ll have to take a seat and wait your turn.”

“My turn,” I point out (not so nicely anymore), “was 45 minutes ago. YOU made the appointment.”

She gives me an evil glare and orders me to go back to the waiting area. I sense some sort of threat implicit in her demeanor.

XUP Jr. says, “Let’s just go. I have to be back at school for 1:00.”  I tell her, very patiently, to hang on a few more minutes. 12:30 comes and goes.  At 12:45,  I go back to the counter. Someone new is there. I ask them if they can give me any idea how much longer because we have to go.  The new guy just shrugs and says I have to wait until the specialist is ready to see us.

At 12:55 we leave.

I deeply resent when people waste my time like this. And without any explanation or apology.  Deeply. When I make an appointment at my doctors’s and they squeeze me in, I expect a good long wait. Not when a specialist makes the appointment to see us.

And there’s no way I’ll wait more than 10 minutes without a good explanation at the dentist’s or hairstylists or anywhere else where I’m paying for a certain time slot. Get organized, ya’ll!

I hate – HATE – going to spend my money somewhere and then being made to feel like I’m imposing on them and that I’d better behave and adhere to the designated herding area if they’re going to let me buy something from their one surly cashier because they don’t want to blow their profits on actually hiring staff to help customers.

I don’t like going to meetings or training sessions on time only to have to sit there for 15 minutes twiddling my thumbs waiting for the stragglers to show up before they’ll start the meeting. A couple of weeks ago I went to a training thing where I was the only one on time. Half the people never showed up at all. The rest showed up 10-20 minutes late — and we waited those 20 minutes to begin. And then, one guy showed up 45 minutes late and the instructor actually started all over again for his benefit.

I had to leave the room.

In some ways, impatience serves me well (as I tell the job interviewers). It makes me the opposite of whatever a procrastinator is. (A concrastinator?) If there’s something that needs to be done, I get it done as quickly and efficiently as I possibly can. If other people are involved, I hound them mercilessly until they surrender their part of the project. On weekends or holidays I always have to get all the chores done and out of the way before I can relax.

Oh ya, I’m a barrel of laughs.

Black Market Fat

I’m sure you’ve all been avidly following the story of Los Pishtacos – the Peruvian gang of some dozen people who have allegedly been killing indigenous Peruvians, draining the corpses of body fat and selling the fat on the black market.

Two of the gang members were arrested this week at a bus station carrying pop bottles full of liquid which police labs confirmed was human fat. Police have also recovered at least one of the rendered bodies.

The suspects claim they killed their victims, cut off their heads and limbs, took out their organs and then hung the bodies upside down and surrounded them with candles to melt the fat and letting it drip into a bucket below.

They say they got paid $60,000 for every gallon of human fat they sold (They got about one gallon of fat off every person) The say they sold the bottles of rendered human fat to cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies in Europe.

The gang leader, one Hilario Cudena, says he’s been making a nice living off this little enterprise for over 30 years. [Hello……. Hilario? Right away this name would make me suspect a big old prank — if it weren’t for the actual mutilated, fat-free body they found]

And there is a lot of scepticism around this case – mainly because no one can figure out why there would be an underground market for human body fat when there are literally tons of people eager to donate – for free.

Certain manufacturers of soap, lipstick, and eye makeup get fat from rendering plants and animal carcasses (swine, cattle, poultry) and combine it with discarded cooking grease.

Among some of the animal-derived ingredients in cosmetics are:

  • Arachidonic acid, a liquid unsaturated fatty acid taken from the liver, glands, and fat of animals, is used in skin creams to soothe inflammation. 
  • Hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizing factor, is found in umbilical cords and the fluids around the joints.
  • Monoglycerides/glycerides, stearic acid, and oleic acid can all be obtained from animal fats
  • Placenta polypeptides protein contains waste matter eliminated by the fetus
  • Gelatin is an animal-derived protein produced by boiling skin, ligaments, and/or bones with water (There’s always room for Jello!)

Anyway, none of this stuff costs anywhere close to $60,000 a gallon. Also, rendering humans seems like an awful lot of work to me – all that killing and hacking and sawing. All those candles. How do they keep candles lit for hours outdoors anyway? If they have candles that good, maybe they should be selling them. Because I’d totally buy candles capable of burning outside and hot enough and long enough to melt my fat. Wouldn’t you?

And, if they’ve already gone to all the trouble of kidnapping and killing people and taking out their organs, why not sell the organs? They’re worth a hell of a lot more than $60,000.  In fact, by 2008 figures, a fully-harvested human can gross $250,000 on the Black Market. And no pricey candles to buy.  A good, sharp knife and a Playmate Elite lunch cooler is your entire overhead.

Cosmetic chemist and writer, Amanda Foxon-Hill was quoted as saying;

 If there is a modern day market for human fat, it’s not in mainstream cosmetics. But I would think that the only marketing angle you could put on this is that, you know, capturing something other than the chemistry of the oils, when people search for exotic oils from either the Amazon or the outer regions of the globe, they’re looking for something that they can market as a special angle and have special properties.

Kind of like in Fight Club, where Brad Pitt makes fancy soap with fat stolen from liposuction clinics.

Another theory is that European cosmetics manufacturers are buying the fat for research. They’ve been doing stem cell research for its value in cosmetics and stem cells are extracted from human fat. Usually this fat is legally obtained from hospital scraps, but there have been problems with these tissues being contaminated with infectious viruses, bacteria, HIV, fetal bovine serum (FBS), and various enzymes, which can cause allergic reactions, illness and death. And who wants any of  that from their lipstick, am I right?

Still, why would European cosmetics manufacturers pay huge amounts of money to some creepy gang of killers in Peru when I’m sure lots of local people would happily volunteer for free liposuction?

My personal theory is that it’s either a PR hoax by Tourism Peru to discourage overweight tourists from visiting their svelte little country or some sort of bold statment fromPETA to encourage people to buy cruelty-free cosmetics.

It Must be Great to be a Guy?

Since the other day I talked about how wonderful it is to be a girl, I thought that today I would talk about how great it is to be a guy.

Right away I encountered a big stumbling block since I’m not a guy. So I had two choices: a) either ask a bunch of guys what’s so great about being a guy; or b) just imagine what might be great about being a guy.

The first option seemed like a lot of work to me, so here’s what I think maybe makes guys happy to be guys:

  1.  Guys get to pee standing up. This has to be the #1 advantage from a girls’ perspective. Of course girls now have products to help them do this as well. And, while I’ve never tried them myself, I’m thinking it’s not quite the same thing.
  2. Guys’ haircuts are cheaper. I don’t understand this. Even in the same salon, a guy will pay half the price or less for his hair cut which might be just as complicated (or even more so) than his female counterpart. AND, women have hair forever, while after 30 or so guys lose all their hair and never have to pay for a haircut again.
  3. Guys always think they’re attractive. A guy can be old, overweight, have no hair and be wearing sweats and an old baggy t-shirt and flip-flops with his gnarled yellow toe-nails curling over the edges of both the flip and the flop; and  he still feels perfectly confident in his ability to pick up a hot 20-year-old chick. And, if the chick turns him down or gives him a dirty look, it’s because the chick is obviously a lesbian. No self-image problems for guys.
  4. Guys never have to wear panty-hose, bras or make-up and they don’t have to wax their genitals — unless they really want to. All this has practically become mandatory for girls. And whose fault is that? Stupid girls!
  5. Guys’ friendships are far, far less complicated. Guys have friends like kids have friends. They see someone around their age in the same place they’re at and say, “Hey, wanna play?” And BAM they’re friends. When it’s time to go, they just leave and then maybe get together some other time to do something they both like doing.  They can argue about sports. They can be at each others’ throats at work. They can be after the same woman, show up somewhere in the same sort of clothes, say outrageously rude and insensitive things to each other – and still go play golf together. Male friendships are one of the great mysteries of the universe.
  6. Guys’ sexual relationships would be equally uncomplicated if it weren’t for women. Guys don’t actually need to know the name of their partner to enjoy themselves. They probably don’t have difficulty focussing on the act because they’re worried about whether or not their partner will want to see them again; likes children; believes in large weddings.
  7. Guys are held in the highest esteem if they can cook even the most basic thing; have done laundry at least once in their life; know how the vacuum cleaner works; have done dishes more than once a year; or volunteer to “babysit” their own kids. Girls really have to stop gushing over stuff like this. Really.
  8. Guys get to canoodle with soft, curvy, cuddly, sweet-smelling girls instead of hairy, scratchy, stinky guys. (If they’re so inclined, of course).
  9. Guys can hop out of bed and be ready and on their way to work in 10 minutes – 5 if they don’t shave. They can have a shower in 2 minutes (unless they take an extra minute or two to enjoy some extra-vigorous lathering)  Then, they dry off, throw on a pair of trousers, a shirt, choose between their black shoes or their brown shoes and they’re done.
  10. The 10th thing isn’t really an advantage as far as I know – more of a puzzle. There was recently a brief discussion on Mayopie’s blog about this, but they didn’t come close to a satisfactory conclusion. So, I still want to know — Why does it take guys so long to poop? They go in there with their magazines, books, newspapers, snacks, or whatever and emerge half an hour later. Is their intestinal tract that much longer? Do they not process fibre efficiently? What? Women are in and out of there in a couple of minutes – and that includes unfastening, refastening and readjusting all their various items of clothing.




Other People’s Lives

Do you ever feel like everybody else must be living a way more exciting life than you?  It was bad enough when it was just friends and coworkers who always seemed to have crazy stories of their adventures to share, but now I have an entire blogosphere of people talking about all the wonderful, amazing and astonishing ways they spend their time.

And don’t other people always seem to have an awful lot more time in their day?

During the week, my life pretty much consists of sleeping, having a couple of meals, working and getting stuff ready for the next day. Weekends are largely taken up with household chores and running around doing errands. If I’m lucky I get to squeeze a bit of socializing in there. Sometimes the socializing has to be done in conjunction with chores and errands. (i.e.: “Hey wanna come over for dinner? I have to cook for the kid anyway and to work up an appetite you can lift the furniture so I can vacuum under it!!”)

 After my exhausting weekend, I go read some blogs and find out other people are having parties every weekend or going to parties every weekend or hanging out in clubs on weeknights, going to concerts, plays, galleries, festivals and other events. Or they’re busy saving the world by going to protest marches or knitting sweaters for the homeless. Some even have time to write books, paint pictures, play in bands, sing in choirs, perform with mime troupes,  take classes or build stuff.

And then there are the mommy bloggers who not only have a household to maintain and kids to raise, but also seem to find time to have home businesses, chair committees, bake pies, have piles of fun with their hubbies and extended families — and still find time to blog!

And what about those bloggers who are always talking about the trips they’re taking?  Some people are off on one sort of vacation or other 4 or 5 times a year. A weekend in New York, a couple of weeks in Rome, a few days in the Caribbean, a week at the cottage, business trips to “the coast” and a quick trip or two out of town in between —  just to unwind.

In case you haven’t noticed, I almost never blog about how I spend my time. Because … well…who cares?  Would anyone want to read about how I tried to get into my workplace with my MetroPass instead of my building access card this morning? There I was wondering why the door wasn’t opening, when “D’uh!” It hit me! Har har har. I was using the wrong card. Ah me oh my. Poor dopey me. Did the Commissionaire and I ever have a chuckle about that one. Yup. And what a great blog post that would have made!

See? I often feel like poor old Emily Bronte who lived almost her entire life in the same house in which she was born. She rarely spoke to anyone outside her immediate family. Went to school only for a brief stint.  Lived a short, dull life and yet managed to produce a novel. And not even a novel about how lame and boring her life was – nope. She produced a pretty freakin’ amazing novel, actually.

(Not that I’m comparing myself to Emily Bronte in the literary sense, [not even a little bit,  because she’s one of my literary heroes]  just in the writing-stuff-in-an-excitement-vacuum sense)

So, anyway, now you know. That’s why my blog posts are about a lot of random stuff instead of about what I’m doing. But please, ya’ll, keep writing about your own raucously zany lives so I can live a raucously zany life vicariously, through you.

And if you’ve never read Wuthering Heights, why not give it a whirl?

Blather and Prattle

I’m pretty sure we all have at least one person in our lives with Communication Addiction Disorder (CAD)  — except we usually call them “people who talk too much”; “people who like the sound of their own voice”; crashing bores, rude, annoying, etc. Turns out they have a “disorder”. (Doesn’t everyone?)

Approximately 16% of the population has CAD and approximately 84% of the population suffers from CAD. Ha ha.

Here’s how to identify someone with CAD:

  • Whenever you see them, they’re talking.
  • It’s almost impossible to contribute to any conversation in which they’re involved.
  • Any story you might try to start to tell, they will interrupt with an even more amazing story of their own.
  • All of their stories involve excruciating detail about everything and many digressions.
  • They talk almost exclusively about themselves and are very self-absorbed.
  • They voice an opinion about everything and at great length.
  • They spend a lot of time on the phone.
  • They love meetings.
  • They tell you things you already knew and/or which they already told you.
  • They like to manipulate you into siding with them against other people.
  • They do not listen to what other people say.
  • They always behave as if they’re under incredible stress or pressure and tell you how much stress and pressure they’re under (at great length).
  • They tend not to speak at a normal conversational speed – they either talk especially quickly or especially slowly.

(Hmmm. I think I may have the written version of CAD. I promise I’m not as verbose in real life as I am in the blogosphere….Please, someone back me up.)

Anyway, these people are extremely annoying and difficult to work with. I have no idea what they’d be like to live with and have no intention of finding out. I find it’s most often women who have this problem and, in my experience, very often women in managerial positions.

That doesn’t mean you should assume that my current manager has CAD and that I’ve been furiously researching the topic so that my head doesn’t explode the next time I’m cornered by her. No. Not at all. This is purely an academic exercise. Yes indeedy.

So, why can these people never shut up? According to experts it could be any or all of the following:

  • They’re controlling people who are personally out of control.
  • They have low self-esteem/are insecure or have extraordinarily high opinions of themselves.
  • They have anxiety issues.
  • They think they’re smarter or more experienced than everyone else.
  • They feel more important when they’re the ones doing the talking. They equate talking with power.
  • They equate silence with ignorance.
  • They talk to figure out how they’re feeling or what they believe and simply can’t just think things through like normal people.
  • They need to be the centre of attention.
  • They believe people are fascinated by what they have to say.

Anyone with CAD has surely been told more than once that they talk too much but still can’t stop themselves. They can’t stop because they don’t really believe they have a problem or that their excessive talking is causing social rejection and professional suicide. They are “talkaholics”. It’s a condition more difficult to overcome than chronic shyness.

So, that’s nice, but it doesn’t help me people who have to deal with people with CAD. Experts suggest trying any or all of the following:

  • Set a time limit before the conversation begins. Say something like, “I’m sorry, I only have 5 minutes before my next meeting.”
  • Be “rude” yourself and interrupt, saying something like, “Wait a second, I’d like to respond to something you said just now.”
  • Say things like, “I don’t think I need all the details right now. Let me just understand the salient points to begin with.”
  • If all else fails, excuse yourself and say you have to leave. And then leave.

Of course the best thing is not to have people like this in your life. They can suck up hours, days, weeks, years of your life while chattering pointlessly on and on and on and on and on…..

Do you know someone with CAD? How do you cope?

It’s Wonderful Being a Girl

It’s Wonderful Being a Girl was the name of the small, outdated pamphlet the girls in my Grade 4 class were given along with “The Talk” and “The Film” of the same name presented by a specially contracted public health nurse.

But don’t worry; this post isn’t going to be about That.

No, I thought with all the stuff that sometimes makes being a girl irksome, a reminder of all the great things about being a girl would be nice.  And by “irksome” I mean stuff like The Topic about which this post is not. I mean irksome stuff like the annual girly probings and compressings; or stuff like brassieres and pantyhose; or stuff like waxings and pluckings; or having to pay 4 times as much for a haircut; or uncomfortable shoes; or having to do all the housework; and so forth.

So, without even any further ado, here are some of the things that make being a girl wonderful:

  1. Girls have a longer life expectancy. This isn’t necessarily all that great in and of itself, but it does mean girls get our pensions longer; sort of making up for all those lower salaries they got all their lives.
  2. Girls understand the concept of conversation and are able to fully utilize it. Though it may seem, on the surface, like idle gossip, girls are actually sharing valuable and useful information; solving seemingly unsolvable problems; resolving childhood issues; and, venting pent-up negativity and frustration so they don’t have to go beating people up, driving hot rods too fast; getting disgustingly drunk and peeing on things; storing stuff up in their blood pressure or going on killing sprees.
  3. Girls get a more varied wardrobe. A closet full of just pants and shirts would be sooooo boring. Also, girls get to wear lots of accessories, hair colours, hairstyles, hair do’s and make-up to disguise/enhance their appearance.
  4. Girls have relatively controllable body hair. Can you imagine having to deal with ear hair, back hair or.. ugh… face hair? I know it’s normal for guys, but the idea of hair growing out of my face totally freaks me out. I actually have nightmares about it. But guys live with this every day! How? They have to shave their faces once or even twice every day! Otherwise their entire face gets consumed by fur. Arrgghhhh! Of course, some of them just give up and let it grow. And then only their eyes are visible. And then food and snot, spit and/or other bodily fluids (depending on their inclination) gets stuck in their face fur. Seriously! Nightmare!
  5. Girls don’t have dangly bits they have to constantly clutch and worry about. I think it’s a big design flaw to have a person’s most vulnerable and delicate bits just hanging there on the outside of the body at a level even with raised knees, children’s hard, exuberant heads, unfriendly dog jaws and sharp table corners.
  6. Girls don’t get nocturnal emissions or spontaneous public erections. Because that’s just weird.
  7. Girls (while we’re on that general topic) can get laid, generally speaking, more easily than men. Girls don’t usually have to sell their souls, surrender their dignity, resort to underhanded methods or fork out a lot of money to get sex. It’s never that important. Sure, some girls will do some of that to get love (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), but that’s more of a long-term investment.
  8. Girls can cry and be affectionate with humans of the same sex without being mocked or having their sexual orientation questioned.
  9. Girls usually don’t have to lift heavy stuff. Guys seem to enjoy lifting stuff for girls, so unless girls like lifting stuff, girls never really have to. [Anecdotal evidence: One day I had a big armchair delivered and there was only one guy in the delivery truck. I offered to grab the other side and help him lift it, but before I could put that into practice, a whole flock of neighbour guys appeared and volunteered to do it. I’d never even seen most of these guys before. Where did they all come from? How did they know that something needed to be lifted? Do they have some sort of scanner in their home that alerts them? It was odd, but very convenient.]
  10. And finally, of course, there’s The Thing. The super secret Thing to which all girls become privy at a certain age and which they will never, ever reveal to a guy no matter how close or intimate. And of course I won’t reveal it on my blog either, even though doing so would guarantee the biggest blog sensation ever to hit the Internet. Even though doing so would mean my blog would be talked about by millions of people around the globe. Even though it would mean fame and untold fortune. Because doing so would also mean my life would no longer be worth living, which I’m sure my girl readers can understand and appreciate.

Thank you.

Accidental Humans

Recently, at the Ottawa Bloggers’ Breakfast *** the talk turned, as breakfast conversation so frequently does, to accidental pregnancies.

The theory was posited that most of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the accidental pregnancy. We took a quick survey around our table and, indeed, I believe everyone at the table had begun life in a not entirely planned manner.

We decided right off the bat that the term, “accident” was not a nice way to refer to a human life, so we chose to call ourselves “surprises” instead.

And really, an “accident”  is something completely unforeseen and unexpected whereas pregnancy should be assumed as a distinct possibility if a fertile male and fertile female engage in sexual intercourse without adequate contraceptive protection.

Anyway, a surprise baby can occur in a variety of situations. Sometimes, the surprise is so great and so unmanageable that the surprise child is given up for adoption. And, at the other end of the spectrum, a surprise can occur when a couple intends to have a child sometime and then finds that sometime is actually now.

That’s what happened to me. We’d been planning for a summer baby, which we would start working on right after we got back from our winter vacation.

We spend that winter vacation in Tobago. It’s a small island with not much going on, so after a few weeks we got adventurous and decided to spend a day hiking through the rainforest. Around noon we happened upon a small waterfall. It had been a long, tiring morning. We were hot and sweaty and miles from another human being. So, we cast off our gear and plunged into the water.

Of course we’d packed protection against snakes and protection against bugs and protection against the merciless sun and we even had food and water to protect ourselves against hunger and thirst.  We were well protected for all eventualities — except one. And there we were in a very exotic and romantic place with only SPF 15 and Deet for protection.

We had a winter baby.

My own conception was much more prosaic, but also not quite planned. When my parents were dating, they were both still living with their parents and several siblings each. It wasn’t often they had a house to themselves and when they did, I understand they took full advantage.

Sometimes they only had a few minutes. Like this one time when the two of them were over at my dad’s for Sunday dinner. His brothers were in their rooms doing whatever it is young boys spend so much time doing in their rooms. My mum and dad were helping his mother in the kitchen when she realized she needed more butter and popped out to the shop to fetch some.

In those few minutes, my dad managed to distract my mum from peeling potatoes long enough to impregnate her — with me — right there in my grandmother’s kitchen!


They did manage to get married in plenty of time for me to be born “on the right side of the blanket”… though it was a noticeably skimpy blanket.

So, anyway I thought about doing a poll just to see how many of us were surprises, but the variables are so great that I don’t think a simple button-clicking poll would do it justice. It’s not just a matter of planned or unplanned. We’d have to also know, for instance:

  • Were the biological parents a committed couple or just a couple of horny teenagers who couldn’t figure out how to unroll the condom?
  •  Did the biological parents keep and raise the baby (you) together?
  • Were the biological parents planning on having children together anyway?
  •  Were you the first child, a second/third/fourth/etc unexpected child or maybe a late-in-life surprise?
  •  If you were planned, did everything go exactly according to plan?
  •  Do you even know if you were or were not planned? (Apparently, not everyone has had this discussion with their parents. Maybe you could go and call mom right now and ask. We’ll wait.)

Accompanying anecdotes would also be great.

And how about your own kids? If I had to bet, I would say that for various reasons, our kids, overall, were probably  less of a surprise to us than we were to our parents. At least the conception part.  Every day after that is just one happy and sometimes not-so-happy surprise after another, isn’t it?


*** If you are an Ottawa area blogger and would like to take part in life-affirming conversational topics like this, please send an email to: bloggersbreakfast@gmail.com with a link to your blog and you’ll be added to the mailing list and kept informed of upcoming Ottawa blogger events.

Ethereal Light Emanation

In response to yesterday’s post, a couple of people said (more or less jokingly) that maybe the dogs are seeing my aura and that maybe I have an odd aura or something. Which started me thinking about this whole business of auras and pets being “in tune” with stuff like that.

First, let’s see if we actually believe that such a thing as auras exist. Do people walk around with some sort of energy field around them or is that just a bunch of new-age hooey?

Well, if you’ve ever walked into a room where 2 people have been fighting or having a very serious conversation, the second you walk through the door and without even looking at the people in the room, I think you can feel the tension or heaviness. What’s that if not you sensing these people’s energy?

When you meet people, part of what attracts you to or repels you from a particular person is the unexplainable “vibe” you get from them. True?

And, if you’ve ever watched a person die, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that between that moment of life and death, something vital disappears. 

But it’s not just people that have this energy field – all living things are surrounded by some sort of energy field. The expert aura people believe that children under 5 and animals are naturally able to see auras. (Adults can teach themselves to become more sensitive to auras and learn to see them.)

I guess it would explain why children often seem to dislike people for no particular reason or seem to “know” when things aren’t right. There have been lots of stories, too, about pets being able to sense illness in their people.

  • Epilepsy.com says that dogs can often predict when their person is about to have an epileptic seizure.
  • Studies have shown that dogs are able to warn their diabetic people when their blood sugar is too high.
  • 60 Minutes did a thing on dogs being able to sniff out cancer in humans.
  •  And there are other stories of pets being particularly snuggly or unusually calm and gentle when their person is sick or very sad or upset.

I don’t know; maybe this is all more about scents than sense. Maybeillness giving off smells that trigger a response in pets. Or maybe part of it is that pets are able to see or sense when their people have something some sort of energy/chemical alteration.

What do you believe? Is there such a thing as auras? Can you sense auras if even you can’t see them? Have your pets or children ever exhibited any aura-sensing abilities?

I’ve noticed my cat, Bazel won’t leave my side whenever the pizza stone comes out of the cupboard because he knows there will soon be cheese flying around. He sure loves cheese. Yup.

Marley, Barkley, Rover, King, Prince, Duke, Fido, Rex, Bowser and ME!

Okay, here’s something I’ve been kinda wondering about for a long, long time and I’m hoping this vast network of bloggers, blog-readers and friends, family and acquaintances of bloggers and blog-readers can answer for me.

It’s kind of ridiculous. And I probably shouldn’t even be wasting your time with this. So you can leave now if you want.

Okay, if you’re still here, then here it goes…

As you know, I walk a lot. On my travels, especially my early morning travels, I almost always encounter dogs.  Small dogs, medium-sized dogs and big dogs.

Whenever I encounter a big dog something weird happens — well not “whenever” as in always, but most of the time… almost always. The dog will suddenly see me, freeze in his tracks and stare at me like I’m the most absolutely bizarre and completely unfathomable thing he’s ever seen in his entire life.

The faces of these dogs — every one of them – says “total bewilderment” loud and clear.  I can see their big doggie brains working furiously, trying to figure something really important out.

Sometimes the dog will cock his head to the right, very, very  slowly. Then he’ll cock his head to the left, very, very slowly.  His eyes are wide and puzzled. His expression is utter befuddlement. It’s unmistakable.

It’s most strange.

If the owner isn’t paying attention, he’ll try to get the dog to move by tugging on the leash or  urging the dog on; but the dog won’t move; won’t take his bewildered eyes off me.

If the owner is paying attention, he gets just as befuddled as his dog, except because of his dog, not because of me. I think.

 Sometimes the owner will just laugh. Sometimes he’ll say something like, “What the hell are you doing Fido?”

Sometimes I ask the owner or even the dog what the dog is doing. The owner just shrugs. The dog just keeps staring and looking bewildered. Neither of them have any idea about anything.

Sometimes, if the owner looks chatty, I’ll tell him that big dogs do this to me all the time so he won’t think there’s something wrong with his dog. One dog owner thought his dog looked hypnotized. More than one dog owner has said he’s never seen his dog do that before. And then they look at me quizzically. 

None of the dogs have ever made any attempt to approach me. Even when I speak to the dogs, they just stand there and stare.

And they keep staring until I’m out of sight. (Okay, I’m assuming they stop then, but who knows? I turn around every once in a while to see if they’re still staring and they always are. Eventually I can’t see them anymore, so I figure if they can’t see me anymore they stop staring.)

Anyhow, what do you reckon is going on here? What should I do? How do I answer the burning questions behind these poor mutts’ eyes?

I should point out (and perhaps those who know me can back me up) that I do not look or dress in any particularly outlandish manner. I never wear sparklers on my head or strobe lights on my clothing. I don’t walk around juggling cats or dragging silent vacuum cleaners behind me (Because that would be puzzling to a dog, wouldn’t it?) And, as far as I know, no part of me emits high-frequency whistling noises.

Thank you.

 PS: I do not have this effect on any other living creature.