Wednesday, April 28th, 2010


Filed under: behaviourism,Plume,Poupoune,psychology,surprises,training — alison @ 07:17

Plume and I went to school for the first time last night. It was everything I’d hoped for, though I might wish their expectations weren’t so high. Between now and next Tuesday we need to have push-ups (sit-down-stand) with both hand signals and verbal cues, which means we need to practice at least 50 times. Also we need to learn to play dead. And on walks we need to practice dogs sitting nicely beside bosses. And we need to practice our recall. I’d already been working on recalls, but I didn’t have the whole thing: the dog doesn’t get the treat until you’ve touched their collar. So we’ve been practising that this morning.

We have six weeks of this but the fee would have been worth it for just this course. I learned how to walk Plume on a relaxed leash. She’s a puller, so one of the first things we got her was a Halti collar (basically a bridle) so that we could walk her comfortably. Last night I learned how Plume could walk on an ordinary short leash with an ordinary collar without pulling. And this morning that’s exactly what we did. Crikey. We aren’t perfect yet, but the goal is so close as to be looming over us.

Twelve years ago I took Poupoune to a local dog school that used dominance psychology and praise. They gave me big leather gloves to handle her with. She hated class. Last night Plume started barking as soon as she got to class. I was told to move her away from the distraction. I did this several times until there was nowhere else to go, and then we had to stand and watch some very distracting exercises with dogs running back and forth demonstrating recalls. The instructor showed me how to give her a treat every time something exciting was about to happen so that she’d turn to me when the action started instead of jumping around and barking. This kind of behavioural work is exactly what I had been hoping for.

But walking without pulling… that’s just… crikey.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

scrambled eggs for Alston

Filed under: Alston,children,food,how to,recipes — alison @ 22:12

Scrambled eggs are so simple that most people don’t know there’s a way to make them. I have often seen people break eggs directly into a hot frying pan and stir frantically until they had a pile of tough, dry crumbs. This does not produce a yummy meal, but scrambled eggs can be very yummy.

1 tbs milk or water per egg
Butter to taste
Salt and chili (not cayenne) powder
Cheese (optional)
Heavy frying pan (use a cast iron pan for more nutrition unless you can taste the iron)

Melt butter in the frying pan on medium-low heat.

Beat the eggs and milk or water gently with a fork. You aren’t going for perfect uniformity and you certainly don’t want froth.

Pour the eggs out into the frying pan… and don’t touch them. Not right away. If you want you can lay thin slices of cheese in the liquid egg at this point. Let them cook gently until the bottom 2-3 mm are set. Use a spatula to gently push the set egg into a heap in the middle of the frying pan, letting the liquid egg flow back out to set. Continue until all the egg is set.

Sprinkle with salt for taste, chili powder for looks.

Eggs cooked this way will be soft and delicious. If soft eggs aren’t your thing, put a lid on the frying pan and leave it off the heat for a few minutes to let the eggs continue to heat.

Eat with hot buttered toast and maybe ketchup. Ketchup sounds scandalous, but scrambled eggs are comfort food. If you loved them with ketchup when you were a little kid, then let yourself enjoy the ketchup now.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Logement à louer – now with pictures!

Filed under: being a landlord — alison @ 06:58

UPDATE: rented!

*** *** ***

A day late and a dollar short, but the apartment will be ready for occupancy December 15th. Pass it on.

4 1/2 metro Beaubien
available December 15

Google Map of the neighbourhood.

  • One double bedroom and an open living room & kitchen. About 55 m2/600 sqft
  • Very bright 3rd floor of a triplex.
  • Balcony in front and back.
  • Very spiffy new kitchen and bathroom with lots of storage.
  • New front-loading washer and dryer.
  • Stove and fridge.
  • Newly varnished hardwood floors and lots of original 1929 details.
  • Quiet street with big trees and non-metred parking
  • Six minutes on foot from Metro Beaubien and 3 minutes from Parc Marquette.
  • Grocery stores, pharmacy and a bakery with good bread around the corner.

Please, no smokers.

kitchen - yes, those are solid wood cabinet doors

kitchen - yes, those are solid wood cabinet doors

to make room for more storage, we replaced the tub with a glass shower

to make room for more storage, we replaced the tub with a glass shower

that's a full cabinet over the sink; more solid wood doors

that's a full cabinet over the sink; more hardwood doors

original 1929 china cabinet in the corner of the salon

original 1929 china cabinet in the corner of the salon

might be the bedroom

might be the bedroom

might be the office

might be the office

new front-loading washer and dryer

new front-loading washer and dryer

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

watercress soup and (leek) quiche

Filed under: diabetes,food,how to,Montréal,recipes — alison @ 22:25

This week we went to Sami Fruits, a wholesaler/retailer of fruits and vegetables with an almost exclusively foreign-born clientèle. We love Sami Fruits. When we have guests from out of town we try to take them there because we think they’ll love it too. As usual we bought more vegetables than would fit in the fridge. I was watching the leeks (12 for $2.99) wither on the counter and thinking I should make leek and potato soup forthwith, but I had bought watercress for soup too and watercress goes bad if you don’t use it right away.

Mark wandered by, complaining that having diabetes is very boring because you can’t eat cake and cookies. It’s true, and I can’t do anything about it, but I can make an alternate rich baked treat. Quiche to the rescue of both the leeks and my beloved! To be accompanied by watercress soup!

Watercress Soup
2 large bunches of watercress
3 small potatoes
(other vegetables you might have on hand: spinach, carrots, celery, parsley, zucchini, rutabaga)
garlic and a little fat for heating it
2 or more cups vegetable stock (I use vegetable bouillon cubes)
1 or more cups soy milk

Cut the bunches of watercress in half at the elastic, separating the stems from the leaves. Chop the stems small, chop the leaves big. Prepare all the other vegetables. You  can leave the skins on the potatoes. Divide them into soft (watercress leaves, spinach, zucchini) and hard (watercress stems, potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, parsley).

Heat the garlic in a little oil or butter. Before it browns, add all the hard vegetables and cover with stock. Cook until soft. Add the soft vegetables and cook a little more. Spoon most of the vegetables into the food processor or blender. Process or blend. Put back in the pot. Add the soy milk. Thin with more water and soy milk as desired. Heat through.


Basic Quiche
1 10-inch uncooked pie crust in a flat-bottomed pie dish
As much grated cheese as you think is nice (I seem to think about 7 oz is nice) (for the leek quiche I used cheddar and mozzarella, but whatever you like and have on hand will work)
Vegetable filling
4 eggs
1 cup  milk

Sprinkle a little more than half the grated cheese on the bottom of the pie crust. Fill with vegetables. Mix the eggs and milk and pour over the vegetables. Sprinkle the whole with the remaining cheese and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest 5-10 minutes and enjoy.

Leek Filling
5 leeks
8 oz mushrooms
Olive oil

Trim off the toughest, darkest green ends of the leeks. Wash the leeks by cutting down through the leaves towards (but not through) the bulb and root, exposing the insides of the leaves so you can rinse them under the tap.

Slice the leeks thin. Slice the mushrooms thin. Chop the dill fine. Heat everything in a little oil until soft.

(You really can use anything for the vegetable filling. Another great version is fresh sliced tomatoes sprinkled with basil and black olives. The same formula but completely different, especially if you use feta or goat cheese for the cheese.)

Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup butter
3 T ice water
1/2 t salt

Make the pastry dough the usual way: stir the salt into the flour, cut in the butter (I use a food processor, but a pastry cutter is better), stir in the ice water, form into a ball and refrigerate. If you’ve thought ahead, wait four hours. Otherwise use it whenever you need to.

Try rolling it out, but whole wheat pastry dough doesn’t roll out as well as white flour pastry dough. Rather than working the pastry dough with a rolling pin forever and making it tough and getting frustrated, content yourself with rolling out smaller pieces and patching them together in your pie dish. It’s fine.

Friday, November 27th, 2009


Filed under: aging,being a landlord,death,family,illness — alison @ 16:12

I went to the Stade Olympique yesterday for my H1N1 vaccine, my first-ever influenza shot. I’d never bothered before because it had always seemed like too much trouble and I wasn’t in a risk group. But for H1N1 they’ve made it really easy and I’d taken the day off work anyway so I could do it whenever and wherever it was convenient.

I still had to think about whether protecting myself against a deadly strain of influenza virus was really something I wanted to do. A likely outcome is that I will have a longer old age, which is not something I necessarily want. (Healthy but not particularly long would really be the ideal for me.) But another likely outcome is that I will not be a vector transmitting H1N1 to other people who might actually be gunning for that long, productive life but who might not be in a condition right now to be vaccinated: small babies, for instance, can’t be effectively immunized against influenza. My friend with cancer, who most definitely wants to live, may get only limited protection from a vaccine and is largely dependent on the people around him to not transmit it to him. The girlfriend of the woman who is dying of lung cancer in the apartment upstairs will not be able to point the finger at me as being the one who infected her with her final illness. And I will not interrupt the old ages, happily surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of my old relatives.

So I got the H1N1 vaccine and will get the seasonal flu vaccine when it becomes available. If I ever decide my old age is dragging on too long there are ways around that that do not involve making other people sick.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

How to deal with Asperger syndrome at work

Filed under: Aspies,blogs,Mark,work — alison @ 05:39

The always-delightful Penelope Trunk is writing a series this week. I think it’s going to be about how to deal with work when one has Asperger syndrome oneself.

I showed the first article to my beloved.

“Yes, I’ll get to it. It’s in my blog reader.”
“You follow Penelope Trunk?”
“Of course. She’s the idealized version of you.”

Interesting. That was a nice thing for him to say, right?

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