Friday 28 February 2014

Road Trip #3: Freddie's Disneyland

No Pirates of the Caribbean log ride or cotton candy or Mickey Mouse parade, but the far-west beaches of Pacific Rim National Park were a veritable Disneyland for Freddie — and a lovely battery-charging retreat for his people. I won't inflict all of my photos on WWF readers, but I will split the (still quite numerous) ones I do want to share into a few separate blog posts ...

Let's go!

Here's Freddie on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. The ride was uneventful, but our return journey involved an interesting service-dog-related encounter with the Chief Steward. Stay tuned for that story in a future post!
Heavy (unseasonable) snow in Nanaimo and across the much of the Island
No snow at our destination, however!

The business signs for this little plaza between Ucluelet and Tofino capture much of the essence of the region: outdoorsyness, surfiness, grooviness.

More regional character: First Nations art, Olde English pub, Sushi bar

Thankfully, we did not need these services.

The Main Attraction!

Our "home" beach, Cox Bay — stunning in all weathers

All-weather Surfers
(Freddie was initially a little freaked out by the boards, but he got used to them.)

Inside our cozy cabin :)

Many thanks to Suzanne and Michael (and their jazzy pooches, Basie and Ella) for the recommendation of Cox Bay Beach Resort, where comfy accommodations, über-friendly staff, and good off-season deals can be found!

No WWF post of this length would be complete without some attempts at arty-farty photography. These photogenic beaches can be pretty flattering to the skills of amateurs!

Officially, the beaches of Pacific Rim Park are on-leash only — mainly because of the dangers to shore birds of charging, barking dogs. Shore bird season, we discovered, is between April and September ... so, with the go-ahead from locals (and keeping an eye out for anything other than fearless crows), we let Freddie romp off-leash.

Hard-packed sand is perfect to walk on!

Most of our walking was done on the beaches, but the forest provided nice shelter and ambience during a downpour.

The fish tacos at the Wildside Grill were yummy; the post-meal blood sugar of 20 (nasty-high) was not. I did do my best to calculate the right insulin dose (ie. yes, these things have a high carb count ... but I've been walking for 3 hours, and I don't want to O-D like I did yesterday ... best to be a little conservative ...). Argh. At home, it's easiest just to keep my carb intake quite low (a bit more challenging when eating out).

On the lighter side, can you see how Freddie is sitting on the wall? That was his choice, and he remained that way for about ten minutes. :)
No, I did not bother trying to calculate a dose for ice cream. I contented myself with the photo — and am quite pleased with the result!

 Hip, Handsome Fellows Hanging Out

Thanks to everyone who emailed me a link to the Saturday Sun article on diabetes alert dogs and the local teen who is using one. Here is the article, for anyone else who is interested.

More from the Wild Wet West to come!

Saturday 22 February 2014

A Shocking Confession, an Arduous Journey, and 3 Edible Discoveries

I have a confession to make ...

That men's gold-medal hockey game happening tomorrow? Between Canada and Sweden? I'm cheering for Sweden. OK, OK, that's wimpy. I'M CHEERING FOR SWEDEN.* Well, actually, I'll be sleeping when the game is on, but if perchance I dream of hockey, Sweden will be my team. I'm not Swedish (nor, as far as I know, is Freddie ... or Paul). But regular WWF readers will know from past posts that I like Sweden.

Paul is a fan of both Sweden and hockey, and he thinks Swedish hockey players are, in general, less thuggish and boorish than North American hockey players (although there are obviously exceptions). Add to that tendency the likelihood that Stephen Harper, Rob Ford, Christy Clark, and Justin Bieber will not be cheering for Sweden, and my choice is made. I don't see this as treason or treachery; rather, I'm providing a generous opportunity for my fellow Canadians to express their Canadian passions, not only for hockey but also for difference and diversity. Go, Daniel!

Here's a bit of yellow for the team. Note the snow in the background — Vancouver spring! No blue to be had in the photo itself, hence my font colour.

*OK, we know now that Canada won ... but still. ;-)

Moving along ... yesterday's arduous journey was connected to a Langara English Department meeting. Freddie and I travelled to the college by Car2Go. I thought I'd see how his stamina was doing after the meeting, before making the call about whether to return home by car or public transit.

As it happened, Freddie was pretty stimulated/distracted by the college and the meeting (he hasn't been on campus since August), and I thought it best to give him a run in Columbia Park then take a Car2Go. At the park, I reserved a vehicle (on my new Stupidphone), but, when we got to said car, could I locate my membership card (needed to unlock the doors)?? Crap. I'm guessing it fell out of my pocket. So ... ready or not, Freddie (with serious ants in his pants) and I would be taking public transit home.

He was actually very good on the train from Oakridge to Olympic Village (2010 Olympics, that is), but the stations were a challenge with all their to- and fro-ing. Lots of sitting out of the way and calming down ... just watching the busy world go by ...

Moving escalators still aren't on the program — especially with so much else going on in the environment. We walked past, and Freddie got praised for looking at the thing.

This shot was taken in a brief interlude between trains, after the platform had pretty much cleared. I was too focused on Freddie during the hubbub to take any photos.

The Olympic Village station is still a long way from home, so I decided to let Freddie run around Charleson dog park before boarding a bus. Bad idea, sort of. The dog park was a muddy bog. One round of fetch and Freddie was in no state to be presented as a service dog. To quote a groovy Spirit of the West song, "nine miles home, and for walking we were bound." Well, a little less than that — more like 3.5 km — but farther than I wanted to walk with the amount of active insulin I had on board and only icky dextrose tabs to eat.

Oh, did I mention the shot I took in the middle of the meeting, when my blood sugar was 9.5?

I should have chowed a couple of Dex-4s early in the walk. I didn't. By the time I crashed, a couple of blocks from home, I was out of treats for Freddie, but he was too burned out from the long journey to notice my blood sugar had tanked. Fortunately for both of us, we had the good fortune of Paul riding up on his shining bicycle at that very moment. He took care of Freddie; I took care of sugar and treats.

The photo above was taken this morning. I'm not sure where that door under the frog prince leads.

This guy waiting for the liquor store to open was singing very loudly and tunelessly. Between his racket and the snow, there were no birds to feed.

And now, to wrap up, those exotic foods ...

Not so long ago, I could not have identified this vegetable in a police line-up. Holy crap, it's ugly. But it can be shaven or shredded to make an excellent pasta substitute. I tried this recipe recently, and it was yummy. (Gawd, I can't believe I just posted a recipe. So not me.)

This stuff isn't entirely new to me. I've consumed fermented milk drinks under different names, in different countries (ah, mango lassi!), but this is the first time I've bought such a thing at home. Kind of nasty straight-up, but add a little liquid stevia, a little vanilla or almond extract, and ... yum! Good for the guts, too, so they say.

A pointless aside: one of my favourite things about Liberté brand products (fabriqués à St-Hubert, Québec) is that the French parts of the labels are written in real French (as opposed to the oft-bizarre phrasings produced by whichever person in Anglophone Company X got the highest grade in French 9*). You'd think that finding a qualified English —> French translator in Canada, of all places, shouldn't be terribly difficult (I'll cut a bit more slack for imports) ... though I suppose there are all sorts of psychological/political/economic barriers getting in the way. Sigh.

*Not that I'd always do spectacularly better! My French is fluent enough that I recognize strange, unidiomatic phrasings, but if somebody asked me to translate their organic kombucha label from English to French, I'd probably suggest they hire a pro.

Which brings us to this ... another probiotic. Wow, my guts are going to be happy. The packaging/marketing of this tea concoction is über-Nofo. So's the price. But it was on sale, so I decided to give it a try. Not bad. Probably not a keeper, though.

C'est tout!

Walking With Freddie will return in about a week, with photos and musings from our road trip.

Enjoy the game (whatever it may be)!

Friday 21 February 2014

Hanging Out in the F*** It Zone

It's never much of a conscious decision, but every once in a while I realize I've been hanging out in the Diabetes Fuck-it Zone (the "D-Fiz") — known in politer circles as "diabetes burnout." I still take my insulin when I need to and test my blood sugar 5-10 times a day; I correct problems when they arise. What I don't do when I'm in this zone — because it's just too damn exhausting to sustain without a break — is all the obsessive micro-managing that diabetes invites. Testing 10-20 times a day, recording blood sugars/food intake/activity level/stress/etc., analyzing, and trying (usually with minimal success) to spot trends ... measuring, carb-counting, endlessly tweaking ... and, of course, worrying.

I realized I was in the D-Fiz this morning when I discovered my blood sugar to be 10.3 (that's about 180 for my American friends, and, for my non-diabetes-speaking friends, about double what it should be), and my reaction was, as it has been lately, whatever. Take a shot; forget about it. I think my 3-month lab work is nigh on 3 months overdue. The only diabetes-related thing that I have been micro-managing lately is Freddie's training ... but I must confess that glucose levels are not what's on my mind when Freddie and I do our BAT sessions, or even when I do scent work with him.

[Scroll down to find out where this Team Canada fan is heading at 8 a.m.]

Clearly the Fuck-it Zone is not a safe place to remain — diabetes-wise or otherwise — for very long. But I do believe it's a helpful form of respite in the Big Picture. Being a pancreas is a thankless full-time job* (I'm also employed as a thyroid, but that's a relatively cushy gig by comparison), and even though I can't take a true leave-of-absence, these occasional sabbaticals in the D-Fiz provide a kind of pseudo-holiday and allow for a recharging of the D-cell batteries (wow, that's way too many metaphors for one sentence).

*My awe and admiration go out to parents like Meri Schuhmacher (longtime blogger and mother/pancreas of 3 kids with T1D).

"Look at those jokers, glued to that damn hockey game ..." 
~ (Gotta love) Joni Mitchell

By the bye, the Canadian gents won their semi-final game against the U.S. (and I say "gents" as a response to all those folks who refer to the women's team as "ladies" or "girls" ;-))

Maybe my cumulative time in the D-Fiz will shorten my life; maybe the little bit of stress reduction will lengthen it. Maybe everything will more or less balance out in the end. Or maybe I'll get abducted by aliens or vigilantes, and none of that stuff will matter ... which reminds me of a dark and funny Bruce Cockburn song. I can't find a good YouTube version (it comes from the album Big Circumstance, 1988), but here are the lyrics (mixed in with a few more pics):

"Anything Can Happen"

You could have gone off the Bloor Street viaduct
I could have been run down in the street
You could have got botulism anytime
I could have gone overboard into the sea

Anything can happen
To put out the light,
Is it any wonder
I don't want to say goodnight?


I could have been hit by a falling pane of glass
You could have had shark teeth write "finit"
We could have been nailed by some vigilante type
In a case of mistaken identity — obviously

Anything can happen
To put out the light
Is it any wonder
I don't want to say goodnight?

We could have been lynched and tarred and feathered
Been on a plane that crashed in flames
Could have done the neutron melt together
But here we are just the same!


You could have been daggered in the dead of night
You could have been gassed inside your car
I could have been walking in the open fields
And been drilled through the head by a shooting star

Anything can happen
To put out the light
Is it any wonder
I don't want to say goodnight?

Thanks, Bruce.
Hey, how come when the women's hockey team wins gold, the players are women first, and when the men win (at least silver this time around), the players are simply Canadians? Freddie calls sexism! (And doesn't expect much sympathy...)


Stop pooping on the parade, "Freddie."

But back to the business of holidays and sabbaticals and whatnot ... Paul, Freddie, and I will be taking off on Road Trip #3 this Sunday. We'll be gone for four days, sans laptop, so Walking With Freddie will be briefly on PAUSE — adventures to be photo-documented when we return.

Looking forward to some hippy-dippy, far-west-coast tranquility ... and maybe an escape from the D-Fiz, also when we return. In the meantime, look for one more post tomorrow, in which Freddie experiences rotten luck and exotic foods.

Peace, wo/man.

Thursday 20 February 2014

The Most Ambitious 60-Day Challenge Ever

I apologize (albeit with a glimmer of satisfaction) if my post title made you click. I've lost track of the number of times I've been suckered in by a wily Facebook/Buzzfeed/etc. title, only to be cursing myself, 2-3 minutes later, for having squandered time on yet another bit of cyber-trivia I really don't need or want to know about.

The 60-day challenge referred to in my post title has nothing to do with me or Freddie and is therefore, I'm guessing, of very little interest to my small (but hugely appreciated) audience. HOWEVER, as compensation, I promise that I will end this post with a more modest, but personal, 60-day challenge (roughly the time remaining before the new teaching term starts) — inspired by the lofty goals of this sign maker ...

I guess the smaller print tempers the loftiness somewhat: he/she wants to learn as much as possible. What an unusual thing to paste to a newspaper box. I didn't check the super-small print on the detachable tabs, but now I'm also wondering: is this just a low-tech version of one of those Nigerian banking scams? *

ANYWAY ... Freddie and I did more work today on our BATting average (see this post for more on "BAT"), so my photos were snapped from a limited number of locations, in those rare moments when there were no triggers on the horizon.

Peace, love, and corporate hegemony


 The View Above

Here's Freddie watching the world go by. He's managing to remain very calm when non- or mildly-reactive dogs pass; it's the ones who lunge and bark at him first who are still triggers. I think he's getting better, but it's a slow process! In BAT lingo, he's a "frustrated greeter" (a dog who really wants to engage socially, as opposed to, say, an aggressive or fearful barker). Kind of ironic — or appropriate? — that introverted moi should end up with a social butterfly!

I have no idea what these things below are. Speaking of introversion/extroversion, I like the definition that distinguishes "introverted" (which I am) from "shy" (which I used to be but am no longer) or "self-absorbed" (which, arguably, our whole culture is). Simplified, the definition goes roughly like this: an introvert is someone who expends energy through social activity and "recharges" alone (which doesn't mean that social activity isn't enjoyable), whereas an extrovert recharges through social activity and expends that energy when alone. There's probably some kind of continuum. Freddie and I are more or less equidistant from center, on opposite sides. Paul is on my side of center but closer to Freddie. :)

Ugly Skyline + Beautiful Setting = Vancouver


 Pink Shoes and a Cuppa Joe

Which brings me (in a non sequitur-ish way) to my 60-Day Challenge(s) ...

This is me, a few days ago, on the way home from Freddie's training class — subject of my first challenge.

#1: To improve Freddie's reactivity to the point that he's able to ignore (or at least not respond to) a dog barking/lunging at him from across the street

#2: To finish editing a further 100 pages of my roughly 600-page manuscript (which will not ultimately be a 600-page novel ... much culling of passages & scenes needed!)

The editing I'm currently doing is old-school: pen in hand, working through hard copy. Creating messy draft pages is so much more satisfying than cutting & pasting on screen!

If you're in Van-City today, enjoy the bee-yootiful weather! If you're elsewhere, I hope it's beautiful there, too!

*Not a banking scam, apparently. I returned to pick up one of the detachable tabs, which offers a website/blog address: (the comments posted in the Feb. 14th entry are pretty funny).