Friday, October 31, 2014

Live Blogging Halloween 2014


I'm Mina.

I'm a freaking skunk. And tonight, I'm live blogging Halloween 2014 IN THE RAIN.

7:16pm: Guys and ghouls, you may not know this but Swedish Fish are the next big thing. A black kitten and a teddy bear both declared, "I got a whole package of Swedish Fish. A whole package!" A whole package, according to the minion, contains like 5 swedish fish.

7:09 pm: A blue fairy has a deep discussion with the minion.
Minion: Hi! Which one do you want?
Blue fairy: *stares at bowl*
Minion: *points at lollipop* This one?
BF: No.
M: *points at Smarties* This one?
BF: No.
M: *points at nerds* This one?
BF: No.
M: *points at sour patch kids* This one?
BF: *proudly smiles* Yes!
Everyone is happy. Except me, because blue fairy didn't pick me.

6:59 pm: Zombie police officer did not arrest me for smelling bad. She didn't eat me, either.

6:48 pm: So far the most hilarious part of Halloween 2014 is the puddle in front of the minion's house. Many children have faced the puddle and have failed to successfully cross the puddle. I applaud the puddle.

6:27 pm: Guys and gals, ghosts and ghouls, this is possibly the most boring Halloween ever!! Usually by now th...oh wait, hold on. Okay, a cowboy just told my human minion (in a high pitched timbre), "You have a PUDDLE in your driveway. DID YOU KNOW THIS? You should do something about it." Haha, minion got schooled!

6:13 pm: An oversized superman toddler declared I was a DOG in a high-pitched squeal. I agreed. Then his mom kept telling him not to jump in puddles, "No! No! No puddles!" I agreed.

5:54 pm: Everyone wears masks. No one pets me. This is a day of great mourning and sads for me.

5:45 pm: No one pet me this time. NO ONE. What is wrong with these kids? Also it took a ghost 25 seconds to decide between pink nerd and purple ones. Then he grabbed the pink ones and said "purple!" Was he colorblind?

5:08: Four adorable kids arrived. I mean, I guess only three were adorable. One didn't even acknowledge my presence so obviously something wrong with him. The little princess proclaimed me a SKUNK! and then pat me on the head. That was cool.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

Leading environmental organizations continue to ignore one of the largest contributors to rain forest destruction, water and air pollution, desertification, climate change...why?

Find out why by supporting efforts to release the ground-breaking documentary Cowspiracy to a wider audience!

Consider contributing to the campaign to get Cowspiracy to a wider audience!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Larb Salad - Veganized

A local Lao restaurant Panoy Bistro in Grass Valley offers many delicious vegan options on their menu. My favorite is their vegan Larb salad, a mixture of sweet and spicy.

Larb is a meat-centric dish, normally containing minced meat and fish-based sauce. It is the national dish of Laos. I was craving the dish and found a few recipes that I veganized, closely duplicating the restaurant version (for a fraction of the price).

This is one of the easier ways to adapt your diet to be more plant-based - pick some of your favorite recipes and have fun creating plant-based/vegan versions.

So here is my veganized version of Larb salad!

Sauce Ingredients
1/2-2/3 cup fresh lime juice (2-4 limes)
1/4-1/3 cup fake-fish sauce(You can make your own vegan fish sauce. Here's a recipe. If that is too expensive or time-consuming, I would suggest mixing 5 parts water to 1 part soy/tamari sauce + 4-6 crushed garlic cloves and reducing over medium-heat until extra took mine about 15-20 minutes.)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp chili-garlic sauce (available in most supermarkets)

Other Ingredients
5 oz extra-firm tofu, small cubes (about the size of your thumbnail)
2/3-3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 tbsp thinly sliced serrano chili
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup mung beans (optional, but not)

1. Whisk together the first four ingredients.
2. Bring vegetable broth to simmer in large sauce pan over medium-heat. Add cubed tofu. Simmer until liquid reduced by half, stirring occasionally, 10-12 minutes.
3. Add green onions, sliced shallot, and chili to sauce pan. After a couple minutes, add sauce from step 1. Stir until liquid is almost all reduced, another 5-10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat.
Option 1: Cool off until room temperature or in refrigerator, then mix in cilantro, mint, and mung beans.
Option 2: Immediately add in cilantro, mint, and mung beans. Serve warm.
If you made it too spicy, add additional lime juice to cut the heat.

This made two servings and cost me about $1.70 per serving for a total of $3.40 for the meal. Your costs may vary dependent on availability of ingredients. I always have extra ingredients, so I will make this salad several days in a row with the fresh ingredients.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

3 Signs Your Dog Loves Wearing Scarves

Have you ever wondered if your dog is obsessed with fashion scarves? Probably not. But if you have, here are three signs indicating your dog's love affair with scarves. These could be signs for celebration or an intervention. You decide.

15-yr-old Mina demonstrates.

1. Wears the same scarf but in different styles
It's never enough to wear a scarf in one manner, a truly scarf-obsessed canine enjoys a variety of styles with her scarf. For example, Mina uses a fancy knot looped around her neck in one shot, then brings that sucker up over her head in the next. One, a dapper scarf for a jaunt around town. Two, concussion treatment?

2. Modifies facial expression dependent on style of scarf
A dog who loves scarves knows to project the emotional intent behind the scarf. Mina understands this blue bandana in a puffed up bow warrants a big 'ol Pit Bull smile. This is not a serious scarf, this is a drive-with-the-top-down scarf.

3. Expects a B&W sophisticated version of every photo
The self-respecting scarf-loving canine has certain expectations when it comes to the final product, including a mandatory B&W version. Mina is either channeling her inner Audrey Hepburn or someone's grandmother.

Whether Mina loves scarves is debatable. She loves me. She loves cookies. So the combination of the two certainly creates an atmosphere in which wearing a scarf is the least of Mina's concerns. I think Mina appreciates being the center of attention too. Scarves give her that platform. Mina wishes all dogs could wear scarves, but her sister Celeste disagrees...she'll be featured soon with 3 Signs Your Dog Hates Wearing Scarves. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Mina

Grim-faced Mina. Maternal Mina? Don't mess with me Grandma Mina.

Mina is tolerant.

True story!

When I lived in what I fondly refer to as the Halfway House, one of my neighbors had a 3-yr-old toddler. Sometimes I would let Mina wander around the front fenced in yard of the apartment complex. She liked sunbathing by the fence while I read books.

Me reading books and Mina sunbathing are common themes in our 12 year relationship.

Mina loves children. I cannot understand this fascination, given how shy Mina started when first rescued. Her trust and tolerance of children have never been in question (mainly ever since a 3-yr-old cowboy chased her around my parent's house - uninvited - one Halloween and Mina didn't eat him).

When Mina sees children, her demeanor changes. I find it weird to ask parents if I can take pictures of their kids with my dog, so I have no photographic evidence of Mina's love of children. This bums me out. Trust me, it's real.

Anyway, back to the neighbor kid. He was not taught how to properly interact with dog. The first time Mina met him, he swung a real life hammer at her. The kind of hammer only adults should use. It missed and I flung myself protectively over Mina, heaving her in my lap and explaining quickly how much Mina hates being hit by hammers.

He respected this, dropping the hammer. On his foot. Okay, so their first meeting didn't go great but future interactions went better. He learned to hold his hand out first and scratch her chest before petting her back or head. He learned not to tug on her tail or drape himself over her back.

Mina loved it. She loved this kid and his attention and even his tail-tugging, back-draping, hammer-swinging ways. However, I was thankful when they moved because they still let him play with that hammer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Mina

I see the Year of the Scarf as a way to remember my dogs while they are alive. In remembering, I honor my interpretation of their stories. I hope they don't mind.

This is Mina's confident pose with an orange and purple hued scarf. She would wear this to a job interview and nail it. The interview, not the scarf.

Mina has not always been brave.

True story time!

During my university stint at Davis, I lived in a big house (five rooms, big by my standards). There was a glass table with chairs on the front porch. I enjoyed sitting with roommates and drinking a cup of coffee.

It seemed important for Mina to be with me at available times. I brought her out with me, her to lay down and me read a book. I was stupid. Mina's world involved safe zones - my room, the living room, the kitchen. Not the upstairs bedrooms, the dining room, and assuredly not the front porch.

I looped her leash around the table, settled into a chair and began reading.

Mina was horrified. I cannot fully express how troubled she was by this movement away from safety into terrifying new worlds. So of course she reacted poorly. Upon feeling the restraint of the leash as it tugged against the glass table, she balked. Leaping away towards the front door, I could only gasp in shock as my book and table disappeared...the book flopping uselessly to the ground, the table a little more dramatic.

Glass shattered everywhere. This did not endear the table to Mina. She planted herself at the front door, staring intently at the doorknob, waiting for me to get a clue. No one was hurt but it was a reminder that Mina missed out on so much the two or three years spent in a garage (or some other dark, confined space).

Mina aged perfectly and confidently. Mina at 15 is different than Mina at 4. I love senior Mina more than is probably physically possible. I loved junior Mina but it came with a lot of fears and struggles and concerns. We stuck through it, though. Super glad about that.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Celeste

Can you summon words for those ears?

I have seen those ears for nearly seven years. They looked the same in puppy form.

Celeste suffered from severe ear infections the majority of her life, leaving her sensitive about ear-touches. Sometimes I accidentally elicit a squeak from her if I handle her ears the wrong way.

Even during her darkest moments, her ears scabbed and painful, Celeste would let me tend to them.

Her ears are what the velveteen rabbit would feel like. Dog ears are like that but Celeste's especially so.

True story time. Two years ago, Celeste fancied herself a war mage. Sighting her quarry - a jackrabbit - Celeste tried her Barbed-Wire-Be-Gone spell and misfired, crashing wildly into the jagged metal. Unperturbed, Celeste only ceased her pursuit because of my panicked screams. Then she insisted on walking the two miles back to the car, despite my attempts at carrying her.

The wounds were clean and so bled profusely, inspiring a deep fear of blood loss and imminent death. In me, not her. She needed ten stitches to her chest and four stitches to her paw. She was cool with the pain meds.

She still chases rabbits but is more responsible around barbed wire.

I am grateful her ears were left untouched. They are perfectly wild.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Mina

Everything with dignity. This is Mina's motto. Primarily because I inflict many indignities upon her. For example, The Year of the Scarf.

Some may think she looks grandmotherly in this photo. Untrue. Mina is ready for a convertible ride down to a beach where she may fling her front paws dangerously in salt water.

Senior Mina carries an air of dignity and cuteness with her at all times. A fine line to walk, for sure.

Junior Mina never did. She was a rolling, frothing, bowling mass of muscle and thoughtless intent. My dad likes to share a story of walking Mina at the local park years ago. She weighed 48 pounds. He had a black belt in karate. And she dragged him down a hill. I think there was another uncontrollable dog with a mirthful guardian. Nothing bad happened.

Another true story. Junior Mina had a hard head. Senior Mina has the same hard head but uses it appropriately. Junior Mina believed all creatures had heads like cement. She greeted me daily with a leap to my face, her rock-solid cranium crashing into my less rock-solid face. One bloody nose and black eye later, I devised a strategy.

Before leaving for college classes, I would steal with me one of Mina's favorite toys (she had more than one). This was not so traumatic for Mina, thankfully. Upon my return, I would offer the sacrificial squeaky toy in lieu of my face. Mina loved this game. Her favorite toy AND person showing up at the same time? Nice!

To this day, Mina greets my return home with a squeaky toy in mouth and a happy grin on her face.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Year of the Scarf, Celeste

I don't know about this, guys and gals.

Mina is included in this photograph as a small right ear in the bottom left corner.

Celeste turns seven in May. I adopted her as a puppy from the streets of Mexico. Literally, the streets of Mexico presented me with an adoption contract and I signed on the dotted lines. If only.

Dogs accept punishment (scarves, e.g.) for cookies. Celeste prefers an off limit approach to her ears but for a cookie? Wrap a scarf around her head stat! She did not paw or shake or generally act horrified. Instead, she stared with great intensity at the cookie which is located two inches above the camera. I wanted you to believe she loves cameras.

She does not. Cookies make cameras appealing. This is one reason why dogs are great. Wearing scarves is another. Rampaging across a meadow in glee is an additional one.

The Year of the Scarf.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Year of the Scarf

2014 is Year of the Scarf, Mina and Celeste style.

Mina is now 15 years and 2 months old. She is living with cancer and has been doing so for more than a year. Two months ago, she had her first ever seizure. So of course 2014 should be the Year of the Scarf - frivolity and adorableness wrapped in a 35-lb Pocket Pit Package.

Celeste will be featured as well. She is far from thrilled about scarves. Trust me, you'll see.

I treasure the string of moments spanning into days spreading into months with Mina. Magical, I'd say.