Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Chicken Show: Touching Snow

I want to preface this video with something - these hens have experienced firsts that you and I take for granted. (And by "take for granted", I mean basic necessities we may expect, like being able to walk outside our homes if we want...I don't mean we take for granted perching on hay bales or anything). They were rescued from an egg farm four months ago.

Since then, these are some of the firsts they've experience:

  • Touching the earth - these hens lived in wire metal cages so small they could not spread their wings.
  • Breathing fresh(er) air - on the egg farm, the fecal matter dropped from the cages was NEVER removed. It stood 3.5 feet high, nearly brushing the cages. The stench was unbearable. I know, I was there.
  • Perching - chickens have an instinctive desire to hop up on something above the ground at night. For 2 years, they lived in a cage and had no access to perches.
  • Nesting - I wish there was a comparable instinctive behavior in humans, so you could relate more. For a hen, nesting is VITAL to her well-being. A cage provides no nest.
  • Feeling the sun - while they lived in an open-sided shed, they never had direct access to sunlight or sunbathing.
  • Dustbathing - another innate behavior chickens engage in to reduce parasite loads.
  • Choices! - can you imagine living in an airplane, seatbelted into your seat...for two years? Probably not, but you can probably understand that your choices would be very limited. Now these hens can decide which stall to sleep in, where to lay an egg, who to hang out with,  etc.
And now, for the first time ever, these hens experienced snow! It's quite a joy to watch.

These hens are from Animal Place. (And to be clear, I work for Animal Place as their education director and am totally biased in favor of these awesome birds).

When I was in college, I was vegetarian. I ditched dairy in honor of a mother cow and her stolen baby - her bellow of sorrow left its mark. If witnessing the separation of mother from child was the norm for the dairy industry, what about the egg industry? I researched and bore witness and decided eggs were not necessary for my survival...but omitting them from my diet was a just decision and an act of compassion for the hens and rooster chicks (the 150-200 million ground up alive upon hatching). These hens lived two years in misery, driven nearly insane from deprivation and torture. That they now leap in joy, explore in curiosity, stumble forth and touch snow? What a freaking amazing gift, world.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Mina Show - The Seizure

It's been one full week since Mina had her first-ever seizure.

The seizure was a terrifying experience, more for me than for Mina. Curled up next to me, Mina suddenly arched back. She was star-gazing, her head arched back staring vacantly off into space. I thought she was choking, it mimicked that one other terrifying moment years past when I had to pull a chunk of food from her nearly unconscious, twitching form. I found nothing in her mouth.

The panic set in, my belief she was dying so entrenched that I just started screaming her name and shaking her. I was at my parents, visiting over Thanksgiving, and my dad had to physically pull me away. Mina flopped to her side, her front legs paddling wildly. And all I could do was cry her name.

It was a long ten seconds. She was unconscious during the seizure and when she awoke, it was to three of her favorite people comforting her. Confused, she could only remain on the couch. It took about three hours for her to completely recover.

I imagine if you are used to the horror of a seizure, you develop coping mechanisms. I also imagine that for many people the first time witnessing a seizure, well, it must have been my same experience - watching someone you love lose control of their bodies, spasms wracking their body.

Mina is fine now. I am left wondering what to do. She has not had another seizure. Her sleep patterns have altered since the seizure. When she falls asleep, she goes under deeper and takes longer to come out of it. I don't know if there is any correlation but it is the only odd behavior change I've seen.

I took her to the vet for bloodwork and chest x-rays (heart disease can cause seizures too). Her heart and chest look great. Her liver and kidney levels are fine. Her thyroid is low but she is already hypothyroid, on medication, and it is an unlikely cause of a seizure.

So I'm left with the unknown. I don't care for that feeling too much.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Plant Based on a Budget - Risotto with Kale

In September, I spent $300 on food. I live by myself. That's ridiculous. I decided to commit to reducing that bill and did so by 1/2 in October, spending $150 on food. I shopped at a different grocery store with a great bulk section and limited my purchase of specialty foods, like vegan 'meat', 'dairy', and 'cheese'.

This month, I'm being ever cognizant of the economic impact my food decisions have. It's amazing how we can be careless with our food dollars. It's the most empowering and important daily decision we make and too often, we make bad ones! Or at least I have, maybe you're perfect!

The genesis to a better sense of how much I spend on food comes from contributing to Plant Based on a Budget and working with the founder, Toni. In fact, she and other contributors are putting together weekly shopping lists and menus for singles, a two-person household, and a family of four...all for $25/person/week. You can check it out here.

I don't have disposable income, but in terms of my food decisions, I have been living as if I do. With the recipes I create or adapt, I'm really pleased that they are affordable, delicious and, more importantly, they enable people to eat more plant-based foods. This is a win-win.

Here's my most recent contribution - risotto with kale. Fancy sounding, but really affordable. I do a lot of cooking with my slow cooker, so this recipe is adapted for that.

I'm aware that not everyone will be able to find these ingredients - you can adapt this recipe to suit ingredient availability. For example, instead of arborio rice, use any other rice and make it a rice dish instead. If you don't have access to kale - look for frozen spinach or any fresh, dark leafy greens. I was only able to get organic kale so if you buy conventional kale, it will probably be cheaper.

Cost (note: I purchased these items at a northern California discount supermarket)
* Arborio rice: $0.75 (for 1.5 cups), buy it in bulk if possible otherwise price is much steeper
* Organic kale: $1.47 (for a bunch, they only had organic)
* Garlic: $0.20 cents (for 5 cloves)
* Bouillon cubes: 0.33
Total: $2.75
Cost per serving: $0.46


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Canine Like No Other

Twelve years ago, Mina play-bowed her way into my heart and home.

Today, we celebrate 12 years together. And, we celebrate Mina's 15th birthday. I'm sorry I missed those formative years!
Mina circa 2005, no gray hairs to be seen!
Mina used to drive me insane. I would go on walks at odd hours to avoid other people and their dogs. She never listened to me (still doesn't). Three very qualified trainers notified me that Mina was Mina and basically her sassy, bad attitude was just her.

Having a dog who resembles a Pit Bull (and in Mina's case IS a Pit Bull) toughened my then (okay mostly still) sensitive nature. Want to rent a home? Good luck! Want to get homeowner's insurance? Ha! Want to live in Denver? Don't. Want people to run across the street in fear of your 45-lb dog? Yes! Want people to tell you your dog should just die already? Good times!

Things have improved for Pit Bulls and their guardians. Mina has done her part by not eating anyone or robbing any banks. This past Halloween, 200 children flocked to my home for candy. And Mina was ready to greet every single one of them. A young girl asked what kind of dog she was and when she learned she was a Pit Bull, I didn't have to cringe. "I LOVE those kinds of dogs!" she piped up. No parents pulling their child away. No kids screaming in abject horror. Just a sweet dog meeting some sweet kids (enjoying some sweet vegan candy). No big deal.

When Mina was 8.5 years old, I brought home a 7-week-old puppy from Mexico. I planned on fostering her until she found a good home. That is, until Mina took one look at her and declared her family. Mina put up with sharp needle teeth and reveled in having a play-mate. I loved Mina even more.

Before Celeste sprouted legs 
As Mina has aged, her body has declined. And yet, I love her even more. She was diagnosed with mast cell cancer at the beginning of this year. My heart shattered, put itself back together, and was determined to get larger with the love it has for Mina. Just last night, I had a moment in which I thought my gut and heart would reach capacity, that all the joy, tears, sadness, frustration, fierceness, devotion I feel for Mina would explode forth. She leaned against me and sighed. Somehow, someway, I made a little more room in my spirit and body for this little 35-lb dog.

Mina turns 15 today. She celebrates fifteen glorious years of squirrel chasing, fence fighting, rough-housing, leash reactivity, belly rubs, awkward sleeping positions, snuggles, deep thoughts and intense staring contests. Okay, mostly I celebrate, but Mina is getting some puppy cupcakes today so she's probably happy too.

To be clear, I never once believed I could love a nonhuman the way I love Mina. When I look at her, it takes every ounce of restraint not to immediately envelop her in a massive bear hug. When I hear her searching through the house - having lost me once again - I want to rush out to her and tell her "I am here. You are here. We are here!" When I watch her struggle to jump in the car or up on the bed, a little part of my soul designated Mina cracks and re-attaches. When she picks me over barking dogs, I feel pretty honored.

I tried to grieve her death when she was diagnosed with cancer, so certain that every new tumor spelled disaster. She has 24 tumors now. They are impossible to remove and I will never put her through the surgeries - she had one when she was diagnosed, six tumors removed (several more discovered). Her recovery was slow and painful, her stoicism and pain tolerance hurt to witness. It wouldn't be right or fair. So I tried to reconcile my love with the deep grief I feel when I think of her death. I imagine her absence, because it will happen. Eleven months later, I have met with little success in terms of grieving her loss to this world. Fail!

Mina is:

  • An excellent kisser (though her breath is horrifying)
  • A board-approved Snuggler
  • Still young enough to fence fight for 5 seconds with the neighbor's JRTs
  • A fan of small dogs and puppies
  • An excellent soul gazer
  • Great at parties involving food
  • Awesome
  • Certain she can take on the 100-lb dog-aggro Newfoundland at the house on the corner
  • Proud of her ability to take on paper bags and freaking win
  • A fan of food
  • Okay with her sister but wish she'd play more bitey-face
  • Getting slow and old but still way too sassy
  • Currently okay with UPS delivery people and electricians
  • A Canine Like No Other
Love ya, Mina. I hope to achieve 50% of your patience and forgiveness. You are practically at Level 500.

Age 6 + unripened cantaloupe
Age 7, conversations with shrubbery
Age 6 - laps, her favorite spot
Damn beautiful dog
I swear, she's a pointer!
Age 11 - perfecting her noble look
Yes, this really happened.
My favorite dog and favorite cow. Love!
Age 4! Playing with a Cocker Spaniel
Geez, you are so white.
Haha, I'm just kidding. Pit Bulls don't eat Boxers.
True story: This got stuck on her mouth and she had to go to the emergency vet. Sad.
That one time when Mina let kittens nurse off of her 
After her surgery - never again.
Old and perfect.
Has a damn meadow named after her.
Mina's victory - Celeste sitting on her
Motherfucking canine love of my life, yo

Friday, November 1, 2013

How Can You Want to Eat Him?

Nick's Tongue

I can't believe people eat animals like Nicholas. Really, I just can't. I could no more look at Nicholas and want to eat him than I could at Mina and want to eat her. I extrapolate to other bovines and other dogs, because that is how I roll.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Liveblogging Halloween 2013

I'm back, getting ready for the hordes of adorable children. Mina's ready - she's on costume 2 and waiting for kids, because then she gets cookies.

Countdown begins.

6:00 pm: I hear the first trick or treaters coming. Exciting times. First timer using a Safeway plastic bag, way to recycle and reuse, kid. 5 kids in a herd. Power ranger, witch, person with a mask.

6:07: Next group! Four kids. This is a very business like group. No shenanigans from these children. A dead cheerleader, I think, and I have no clue what the others are. Mina ignores them completely in favor of peeing on some dirt.

6:12: Solo 8-yr-old skeleton. 
Skeleton: What are YOU supposed to be? *points to me*
Me: Uh, superhero on casual Friday?
Skeleton: It's not Friday!
Me: Oh.
Skeleton: Okay, I'll take the candy now.
All I've got on is a wonderwoman top and cape and regular jeans. Kids don't appreciate workplace humor. Or probably it wasn't funny, except in my head.

6:14: Cutest 2-yr-old ninja turtle ever. I wish I had got a picture, because Mina stood squarely next to him, surveying the court, tail wagging as he gently stroked her head. Then he invited her to continue trick or treating and she was all, okay sure. But then, the leash. Sadness for all.

6:20 pm: Two kids with glasses and suspenders. What are you? Nerds. What? Nerds are awesome, btw.

6:25: Someone wearing a fake deer head, I didn't even ask. Mad artist girl is my favorite so far. Mina just likes that she gets a cookie for every kid and is encouraging more children. 

6:27: CLOWN! Normally I am a firm believer that clowns are evil, but this was the most polite clown ever, so he's okay.

6:28: First injury of the night, a cowboy trips over Mina and falls on his face. But he's okay because he just missed a house and is extra excited about getting more candy from a house he didn't know existed.

6:30 pm: half-hearted attempt at being a mummy involves wearing black spandex and half a roll of toilet paper. Also, she couldn't stop laughing at Mina in her outfit, which left Mina deeply troubled and offended.

6:32 pm: An infant dressed up as a duck. Oh, parents. If you're kid can't eat solids, don't take them trick or treating. Just kidding, because that duck was cute. I gave him a couple dum dums. Or her. Sorry.

6:45: Another horde, they travel in packs!! A toddler dressed as a dog is Mina's favorite! But the ladybug toddler is cute too. And then there was a miniature Thor, and that's pretty adorable.

None are as adorable as Mina, though.

6:53: A young girl reminds me of the bravery level required to go solo up to a person's front door. I think she's dressed as an elf, shaking like a leaf, and being so so so so brave. I used to send my dad to get my candy when I was scared.

7:09: We have exceeded the 70th kid mark, people! One kid with a spiked helmet totally fell in love with Mina and kissed her on the head and she was like "I get five cookies for that". A little girl dressed up as a princess wearing a pink hoodie proudly proclaimed THANK YOU and then turned to her mom and screamed, 'SEE?!? I SAID THANK YOU" and all was well with the world.

Mina knows where to hang out:

7:17: A witch chirped, "See you next year!!" Oh man, kids on Halloween are great because they are learning about saying thanks and the future and ZOMG CANDY capitalism.

7:21: Kid dressed as "an Amish person" (their words) carrying a maglite, no candy bag. Where do you keep your candy? In my pockets! How's that working out for you? EXCELLENTLY!

7:25 pm: Girl dressed as a witch, "Is that a real dog?" Blank stare from me. "Costume?" she adds quietly. "Oh, yes." I reply.

7:26 pm: Kid dressed as superman with a sucker in his mouth, "Can I psuehhioeah her?" Huh? "Can I psuehgehi her?" Oh, can you pet her? YETH? Yes. K. *pets Mina* Kid then tries to run across lawn and all the parents yell, "NO RUNNING" and this is good because 3-yr-olds with lollipops in their mouth definitely should not be running on my tree-root front yard.

7:37 pm: "Is that all you have?", an affronted child asks. "I can take it back, yes?" "HAHA JUST KIDDING" the kid yells back. Geez.

7:51 pm: Times are a changing for Pit Bulls. A girl asks to pet Mina. After I say yes, she asks what kind of dog Mina is. Her friend pipes up, "She's a Pit Bull" before I can say anything. The other girl gazes up at me, smiles, and says "I LOVE those kinds of dogs". The other girl tells me about her companion Pit Bull and how she looks like Mina but is bigger. Five years ago, I don't think this interaction would have happened. I would probably not allow Mina to come out of the house on leash to interact with the kids. She would have still dressed up, but I would have kept her away from the kids out of fear the parents would get upset. Now, in this neighborhood in Grass Valley, CA, I don't have that fear. Mina goes out and says hi, I pull her back in if the kids don't want to interact, and let her get pet if they do. She thinks it's a win-win - attention from little people (her favorite) and a cookie aftewards. Good times.

8:08 pm: So many children. So many.

8:13 pm: We just hit the 200th kid. Cray.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nicholas is Handsome


I'm not even lying, Nicholas is super handsome.

I met Nicholas when he was less than a week old. He was stolen from his mother. It's normal business on a dairy farm, maternal deprivation. To sell milk to you requires stealing milk from him. Can't have a calf drinking his own mother's milk!

He was bought at auction for $15, tied up outside of an apartment complex in Berkeley, and left with hay.

You do know what a day-old calf needs, right? His mom and her milk! Ruminants, like cattle, cannot consume hay at such a young age - literally, they cannot do it.

Nicholas spent several weeks in my office. It was the middle of winter when he arrived so darkness enveloped the sanctuary each morning when I would arrive for work. I would creep into the office and step carefully, quietly over his snoozing form. I made his bottles and fed him his milk, admired his soft down fur, and wished with all my heart that he could have his own mother. She should be raising him.

For the next four years, Nicholas was a terror. Not in an evil way, just in an I-Am-A-Teenager-Forevah way. He would kick his heels up and race towards any human he saw. Sometimes he would randomly kick out his back leg, and then flee the scene in joy. Humans were more toys than "someones".

It has only been in the past two years that he has come into his own sense of maturity. It takes bovines nearly five years to reach their adult size. They remain "babies" for 1-2 years, enter their teens for the next 3-5, and then calm down.

If he had been raised by his own mother, he would have learned respect a lot sooner. No human can replace a bovine mother and teach what needs to be taught.

When Nicholas and the other cows are in the pasture near the parking lot at the sanctuary where I work, I will slip into the meadow and find Nicholas. He will be eating grass and will pretend he does not notice me. Some mornings he will lift his head and acknowledge me, other mornings he won't. I lean into him and rub his neck, his back, the inside of his fuzzy ears. Some mornings, Nicholas will walk away - food is more interesting. Most mornings, I will know he accepts my presence when he leans, ever so gently, into my body. Peace.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Celeste Show: Catch That Treat

Celeste will catch this cookie

 Celeste loves food like whoa. There is no food she will not try at least once, often twice just to be sure.

This is one of her favorite peanut butter treats. I couldn't catch any action shots of her snapping up the treat, but this photo captures the essence of Celeste - obsessed, focused, weird.

I love her for it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Mina Show: Need and Growing Old


Mina needs me like a fish needs water.

This is not my ego piping up. It is simple fact.

I do not think I was the first person to ever show Mina love and a kind touch. I like to think this, because the alternative is unbearable - three long years as a breeding machine without any human kindness. That is unconscionable. So I believe that someone liked her enough to rub the space between her eyes, to scratch the arch of her neck.

In recent years, Mina's need of me has grown, almost exponentially. Her faculties, on the other hand, have declined. She will sometimes race from room to room, panicked nails clicking on wooden floors. She will investigate every nook and cranny, confused as to my "sudden departure". Finally, she will pop her head into the spare room (the office) and find me typing away. Her body will relax, she will hop up on the sofa, and curl up into a Mina-donut.

There are times when I find this comical. Mostly I am filled with great sadness and a strong, fervent desire to hold Mina close to my heart so that our breaths co-mingle and we are deeply connected. She does not care for this, so I do not do it.

Mina is approaching her 15th birthday, 12 of them spent alongside me and 6 with Celeste.

Because I am human and can ponder the future, I will sometimes find myself imagining life without Mina. The space she occupies in my heart is egregiously large, painfully so. It is a tangible thing that presses against arteries and veins, pinches nerves. The absence of her is virtually unimaginable, but I try to fathom it anyways.

I don't know the why of my relationship with Mina. It is different than my bond with Celeste. It is even different than the friendship I shared with my first dog, Juju (who Mina slept next to for one night). It is different than my relationship with most people, because it is a sure, certain thing. There is no doubt, no fear of a friendship ending with Mina. Whatever our relationship isn't, it IS unconditional. She forgives me my impatience and sudden bursts of anger. I forgive her her sassy fence fighting and unyielding stubbornness.

When I look into her amber eyes, I see someone looking back. Someone who is trying to comprehend me in perhaps the same way I her. Someone who gets jealous and angry and can be ugly. Someone who gives so much love and hopes for a little in return. Someone who loves to sniff a blade of grass for fifteen minutes longer than any rational dog should. Someone who can't race around the backyard with her sister, but who will still play bitey-face in the morning.

Someone who curls up next to me and sighs the sigh of someone who has come home.

The Mina Show: Offended Fairy Princess

Mina getting ready for her fifteenth birthday. Coming to a theater near you on November 5th.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Orca Moms Are No Different than Cow Moms

If you haven’t had an opportunity to see Blackfish, a documentary exposing the dark underbelly of SeaWorld and other marine parks that exploit orca (and other nonhumans), I encourage you to watch it on CNN on October 24th.

Orca develop lifelong social bonds. They stay with their family pod forever. There is no empty nest syndrome, no teenage Orca going off to explore the ocean currents. The pod they are born to is with whom they will die. It is the Orca way…and for decades humans disrupted that familial tie by stealing babies from their families and putting them on display for human entertainment.

Read more

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Mina Show - Every Morning

This is the morning routine. Every morning. Visit boss lady Kim, get cookies. Good times.

The Mina Show - I Do Not Fetch

Seriously. Sometimes Mina is all into toys and sometimes she looks at me like I'm a freak. Mina turns 15 on November 5th. She'll have a party. She never says no to cake.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Carter Show - Waiting for a New Home

Carter is available for adoption.

This is a letter I wrote to Carter's adopters. He had an adopter but it didn't work out, so he's still available...and you can still get this letter if you adopt him!

Dear Carter’s Adopters,

You’re welcome!

You have just added to your life one of earth’s greatest dogs. I’m not even kidding.

Dog social? Check.

Loves human contact? Check.

Thinks kids are neat? Yep.

Pretty darn smart? When he feels like it, yes!

Pouty face? Definitely!

Ready for play but easy to calm? Yes!

Carter is going to bring you joy. Like, a lot. I’m not talking run of the mill joy, I’m talking capital “J” Joy. He will make you laugh when he chases his own tail. He will bring in the hilarity when he blindly (literally!) runs zoomies around your yard. He will love it if you giggle with kindness whenever he runs into something (it really does make him feel better if you make light of his vision-shortcomings). He will make you sigh contentedly when he curls up in a large dog-donut at your feet. And yes, short-term, you will laugh uncomfortably when he air humps near you. Don’t judge, he just can’t help himself. He’ll get over it, so you can too!

Carter will remind you what it means to be lovingly patient. You will find it hard to be frustrated when he runs into things, because he will still tilt his head to where he thinks your face is and gaze fondly at you. You will chuckle when he bumps into your favourite potted plant for the fifth time in a row, because that is just how he does what he does. You won’t hold it against him, because there is an endearing bumbling childishness to his fumbling through this world.

Carter will teach you all about comfort, because he is into it. And sure, he’ll splay belly up on the patio for a warm sunbath...but that’s because of the sun, not the patio. Carter knows how to take advantage of dog beds, sofas, and human beds. He prefers TempurPedic, in case you wanted to stock each room. Carter does not realize he is 80 lbs and so you might want a King sized bed to share with him. Just a suggestion. When you want to know what it means to enjoy a connection with someone else, scratch him right under his collar. I am pretty certain “heaven” for Carter might just involve a full-time neck masseuse. Probably true for many of us, yes?

Carter may not be young, but he has lots of life to live. He may not see through his eyes, but his heart is clarity embodied. He is gentle intentionally and yeah, sometimes he is going to run into your legs and you are going to just cry. But you know, that’s part of adopting one of the greatest dogs on earth too.

So, thank you. After six months, I have come to know Carter. I love him dearly. I want you to love him dearly too, but I have a feeling you already do...I mean, you ARE adopting him!

Be honoured. Enjoy. Share your world with a really epic dog. He’ll share his with you too. He’s generous like that.


PS: Carter likes his picture taken. You can cc me anytime.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Focaccia Bread

Once upon a time there was a Pit Bull about to turn 15 and she really wanted some focaccia bread. An evil lady (me) made focaccia bread IN HER SLOW COOKER and only gave the almost-15-yr-old Pit Bull one bite.

Mina was sad.

You can still enjoy the recipe here.

I would like to suggest to you that investment in a slow cooker is an excellent idea. With fall here and winter close behind, I take my lazy-cooking game up a whole new level. My slow cooker * provides me with delicious, nutritious meals that I only invest a minimal amount of time into creating.

My favorite cookbook is The Vegan Slow Cooker. You're welcome.

*Thanks, mom!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Mina Show - Laundry Assistant

 The Mina Show: Nothing says "folding laundry" like a 35-lb Pit Bull nestling on top of socks and shirts and dish towels.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Violence for Sale, Cognitive Dissonance Hard at Work

Yesterday I went to the Whole Foods Market in Napa (where my parents live) and discovered the store plastered in sale signs promoting dead chicken flesh.

One of the entrances was covered in so many signs, you couldn't even look inside - there must have been 50. I'm not exaggerating. Another 40 poster sized signs were taped to the outside of the building.

Standing outside, a man wasting time in a chicken suit.

Inside, little outlines of chicken feet walking you to their dead corpses.

Every ten minutes, a woman screeching on the speaker about the $5 sale on dead chicken bodies. And it wasn't merely a "hey, we got a sale" it was literally 1-2 minutes opining on the wonders of dead chicken bodies and, hey world, did you know you can stick dead chicken parts on salads, in sandwiches, and enchiladas? The world's mind is collectively blown to learn this apparently novel information.

On their facebook page, the Whole Foods Market Napa held a contest about why the chicken crossed the road. This is the winning comment, ".because it saw no cars were coming but was sadly mistaken and now it's on my dinner table perfectly seasoned with 365 spices and garnished with organic veggies. How's that?" 

This is telling, to me. The chicken is an "it", an inanimate object. She was not rendered unconscious with gas and her throat slit, no she was hit by a car. And because humans do not appreciate the simple taste of raw or unspiced dead animal flesh, this person had to spice up the meal in order to enjoy. Oh, but organic veggies! How's that? Totally disconnected from reality.

Now if the Whole Foods Market Napa treated all of their sales with such gusto, perhaps I would be slightly less bothered (but only slightly).

Like if the sale of avocados they recently had involved a dude dressed as an avocado outside the store, or little miniature avocado trees leading you to their fruits. Or a little guacamole making session that ended with you getting five avocados for five dollars. Or, you know, a little FB contest on who could make up the best avocado theme song.

But they didn't do that. In fact, if you walked into the Whole Foods Market Napa on the avocado sale day, you wouldn't even have known where to find the avocados. There was one small pile-up hidden away...probably because they weren't going to make money off of selling hella expensive fruit for so cheaply.

Cognitive dissonance is a powerful psychological barrier to a big 'old reality check. It allows people to see a dude dressed up as a chicken, virtual suicide "food" - the chicken is telling us to eat him! It allows people to see little outlines of chicken feet walking them straight to their dead bodies and not be bothered.

We don't need dead chickens to survive. Not eating them will not end our lives. We will not be entering a barren wasteland where the only food available is tasteless and bland. There is no logical or rational or emotional reason for eating chicken....people just like how it tastes and they've been eating dead animals for years. That's it! That has never been a very good reason to continue a practice that involves the unnecessary stealing of another feeling, thinking being's life.

I'm not surprised by Whole Foods Market Napa choice to rabidly encourage people to eat dead chickens, but I still found the experience jarring, uncomfortable, and deeply disturbing.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fried Wontons

I love fried anything. These fried wontons courtesy of Plant Based on a Budget are delicious and easy to make...and, to make a lot, you don't require many ingredients so it keeps costs down. I made these with a couple of awesome people, and after seeing the preparation work...I really believe this is a recipe that is best done in a group settings. We had two people filling the wontons and one person frying them up. Made it go fast and smooth. Also, delicious.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Potato & Chickpea Tacos

I'm really excited to be a part of Plant Based on a Budget's team of recipe makers! It's a great resource for affordable, delicious, and compassionate vegan recipes. 

I've never paid much attention to my food bills. Not because I'm independently wealthy (not on a non-profit income) but mostly because I grew up as an entitled white kid who never had to worry about food. It was always there, and when I wanted more, I just had to ask and bam! more would appear.

Recently I've really had to look at where I spend my money. Well, it's more like recently I've forced myself to be better at spending my hard-earned income. I spend too much on food. I won't even write how much I spend, because it's embarrassing and borderline offensive.

Right now I'm only blogging every other week for Plant Based on a Budget (PBB) but I hope to increase that to once a week. I've been inspired to be more frugal and, more importantly, simply cognizant of how I spend my money.

My Potato & Chickpea recipe, for example, only cost me $1.92 for two tacos. And, the recipe I made lasted me 1.5 days (two lunches, one dinner).

I believe what we choose to eat is the most self-empowering act we can take. It's one of the few things in life we have utter control over, and what we choose to eat impacts others - nonhumans, humans, our health, and the planet's health.

When you make different food choices (for example, I'm vegan), you become a role model for that dietary or lifestyle choice. You have the opportunity to inspire other people to try different things (like, go vegan!) and learn to make different (and hopefully better) food choices.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

This Person Thinks I Should Die!

A real comment! Geez, why?

This person is a dumb-dumb head. That seems like a healthy, rational response to someone who wants me dead. Do people even think when they write tripe like this? Do they lack the empathy gene? The spelling gene?

Dear Defender of the Children,

Please do not have children to defend. Or, if you do, please try not to teach them it's okay to wish death on someone for having a 15-yr-old dog with barely any teeth.


Any breed of dog, or any other pet designed to kill, responsible for the deaths and maulings of as many children as the pit bull should be exterminated permanently. Furthermore, any person harboring such an animal should be tryed as an accompless to the crime his dog commits and both be put to sleep.
Defender of the children

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Police Shootings of Dogs

Mandatory reading for police agencies interested in addressing this issue - The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters

Half of intentional shootings by police are of dogs.

Alabama: Once again, witness statements don't corroborate officer accounts. But hey! Who cares what the witnesses say? A 3-yr-old Pit Bull was loose on his own porch when animal control arrived, then asked police for back-up. Witnesses claim the dog was not aggressive, begged officers to leave the dog alone, and called the guardian on cell phones trying to get the guardian out there. To no avail, officers shot the dog three times, killing him.
Alabama: A loose dog, described as a German Shepherd, "charged" at people. Officers arrived and shot the dog with a tranquilizer that left the dog confused but still conscious. He ran off and nipped a child, then returned back to his home. When he charged at an officer, the individual shot him with a gun. Animal control sedated the dog, the guardian arrived, and the dog was taken to a vet hospital.
Alabama: A K-9 officer sick and tired of the crappy training techniques took his frustration out on his handler, biting him in the leg, then aiming for his head. The officer promptly shot and killed the dog. 

Arizona: Hopefully this group of folks learn never to call cops when dogs are fighting. An officer immediately shot a German Shepherd that OTHER people had successfully separated from another dog with, oh I dunno, a SPRAY OF WATER. The dog was killed.

California: In a gruesome video that went viral, a Rottweiler is brutally shot by police for no other reason than being a dog. The guardian of the dog was arrested for no other reason than being a person videotaping police activities (a legal activity). 
California: An elderly Cocker Spaniel was shot by an officer responding to a burglary call. The dog has been left with a bullet fragment near his spine. The officer did not have permission to be in this man's fenced yard.
California: In a horrifying case, officers lie about the circumstances of a German Shepherd's shooting. Officers claim they "shook the gate" before entering a yard without permission, having arrived an hour later than their expected appointment. Security footage show officers arriving to the home where they were going to discuss the family's runaway teenage son. They are seen immediately entering the property (no gate shaking).  The smart officer calmly exits the yard when he notices a Pit Bull approach, correctly reads the dog's behavior, and gets out of the property. Soon after the German Shepherd shows up and runs towards the other officer. She does nothing but immediately shoot him. He runs off. Animal control takes him to a veterinarian where they say it will take $7,000 to fix him. Police initially offered to pay the bill but after hearing the price, told the family to "just get another pet". They would not let the family seek medical treatment until the family showed them the dogs' licenses. In fact, they waited FIFTY-FIVE MINUTES before letting the dog go to a vet. Nice!
California: A dog described as a Pit Bull was shot and killed after he attempted to protect his guardian from being arrested. 

Idaho: A dog running loose "charged" an officer, who shot the dog multiple times. The dog died. The dog was described as "aggressive", but in this article, people heard rumors that the dog was aggressive. Witnesses felt the safety of humans was not taken into consideration when the officer shot the dog five times. 

Illinois: Officers kicked in a door during a daily "war on drugs" and shot the man's dog, described as a Pit Bull, for DARING to react to strange people with weapons busting down doors. The epic battle netted 3.2 grams of cocaine. THUS THE WAR ON DRUGS ENDS. Finally.
Illinois: I love the title, cuz it's true - "Cops Shoot Family Dog Just Because". In 2012, officer spent 20 minutes in front of a man's home in response to a "dog at large" (not a dog eating everyone call). They hung out with the loose Cane Corso for 20 minutes and are seen on security footage not being bothered by the dog. And then one of them up and shot the dog three times. Pretty sure they still have jobs.

Indiana: A Rottweiler was shot dead for "running at" officers who were attempting to arrest the guardians of the dog.  

New Jersey: A chained Pit Bull was shot and killed by police after police pursued a teenager into a fenced backyard. The teenager was bitten once by the dog, released the kid, and then charged an officer...who instead of removing himself from the situation promptly shot the chained dog. The dog was most likely left without medical treatment where he died.

New York: Oopsies! Officers raid the wrong apartment and shoot a man's beloved companion dog, then leave the apartment in shambles with blood-stains all over the place. Good job, coppers! WAR ON DRUGS FOR THE WIN.
New York: Officers hanging outside of someone's basement door acted surprised when a dog living in the basement came out. The dog bit a police dog. The attempts made to separate the dogs were so massive that nothing happened. The dog was shot and killed. Despite what sounds like a massive mauling if you believe the news report, the police dog suffered a nip. Whoa. Other witnesses claim the 10-mos-old Pit Bull was attacked first.
New York: A dog described as a Pit Bull was shot and killed after the dog "charged" at an officer. The dog bit two people, causing minor injuries. 

North Carolina: Incoming Winston-Salem police chief announced his arrival by shooting at a family's dog and shooting a woman in the leg instead. And while his fellow officer immediately went to the victim's aid, radioing for help, police chief had to make an important phone call first! The dog was not injured. District Attorney says it was a-ok for the police chief to shoot one of his nonviolent citizens!

Ohio: A dog being watched by a friend escaped his yard and got into a fight with a chained dog. Police arrived, maced dog, and then shot him when he wouldn't stop fighting. He was taken to a veterinarian.
Ohio: A police officer responded to a request to remove five "feral" kittens from a woman's property. He told the woman the kittens would most likely be euthanized and she "consented" (which how could she, given they weren't her cats?) and the officer proceeded to take out his gun and shoot all five kittens with a gun. The kids were a little traumatized, but the city is standing by their officer. AS USUAL. The Ohio SPCA politely requested that the police officer be fired.
Ohio: Three dogs running loose were cornered by police. The officers, AS USUAL, claimed the dogs became rabid maniacs and were just about to rip out their throats when they just had to absolutely shoot two of the dogs! They died.

Oklahoma: A Boxer was shot and killed for barking at a police chief. Seriously. The dog was shot and killed for barking.

Pennsylvania: In 2011, a 17-yr-old Pit Bull known to be friendly and sweet was shot from a police van by officers. The dog was shot twice by an officer inside the van. Another officer exited the van and shot the dog again. The city stands by these two officers, even while settling a lawsuit filed by the guardian of the geriatric, non-threatening, non-violent dog.
Pennsylvania: A loose Pit Bull was shot and killed. One witness claims the dog was not being aggressive, while other witnesses claim the dog was aggressive. No one was bitten or attacked.

Tennessee: A police officer was fired for shooting a dog he had accidentally run over with a vehicle. The dog, a miniature Schnauzer, was paralyzed and in severe agony when the off-duty officer made the poor decision to shoot the dog in the head...then bury his body in the woods. At least he did not try to claim the paralyzed dog tried to drag himself over and maul the officer.

Texas: A German Shepherd was shot in the neck on his own property by officers illegally entering the dog guardian's property...looking for someone who did not live there. Feet away, a terminally ill child was playing...the officers could not see the child and discharged their weapon multiple times into a non-violent dog near a child. Police are defending themselves!
Texas: A Boxer was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer, because geez, these weirdos carry loaded weapons while hanging out with their wives. The off-duty officer claims the dog mauled like everyone within a 50-mile radius while the Boxer's guardian says, uh, no he didn't have time to and the man shot the dog as he fled the crazed copper. Who knows. Apparently everyone was bitten, so I guess there's some evidence out there that the Boxer was a marauding mauler.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Carter Show

The Carter Show: The woeful episode involving a veterinary check-up.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Celeste Show

Was it a set-up? Or did Celeste really sleep with the bear? AND LIKE IT?

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Mina Show

Mina is late to work. She falls asleep on her purse. Will she get fired?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Carter Show

Episode featuring Carter's tongue and a totally appropriate "hey girl" look. He may not see you, but he SEES you. If you know what I mean.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Carter Wants a Home

Favor, all y'all!

Would you please share Carter with your social networks? Your friends, family, colleagues?

Carter is the easiest foster dog I've ever had.

He loves people. 

He loves short, outdoor play sessions followed by snuggle time and a nap.

Recently, he sniffed noses with Mina and all was well with the world.

Carter would like a person works part-time (or full-time!) at home. He does not have separation anxiety, but he enjoys life most with his people. And virtually anyone is welcome to be 'his people'. He is very open and flexible.

Carter is blind, and he does not give a damn. His person should not care, either, and should talk to him in a silly voice when he bumps into things so he knows bumping into things is, like, the coolest.

Carter is seven, and so what? Mina is 14.5 and plans on living another bazillion years, what's it to you? 

Carter does not want 1.5 hours of exercise a day. In fact, he would like 15 minutes if he feels like it. He enjoys free time in a safe backyard and loves stretching out in the sun, sometimes on patio furniture, so accept his love.

Carter weighs 75 lbs and everyone but me thinks he is a chunky-monkey, so maybe he can weigh 70 lbs. I dunno. He loves his daily ration of food and also feels strongly that cardboard boxes and tennis balls are the best toys. Carter is cheap to please!

Carter wants his forever home. Give it to him, dammit.

The Mina Show

an intense episode in which Mina faces near starvation but finds solace and nutrition in a bowl of vegan dog food. Street dog Celeste lurks off screen

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Celeste Show

The pre-season cliff-hanger finale...did Celeste kill the mole or not?