The Miracle of Birth

A while ago, I met a man, his son and their two dogs.  I was making a fuss over the dogs, and the boy said “she’s going to have babies”.  The Kylie & Pups St. Louisdad confirmed it.  She was purebred, he said, as was the father of the pups.  So I figured daddy dog wasn’t their other dog, an unneutered male, but not the same breed.  Both dogs were about 2 years old, and after the puppies were born, the man said, they’d have both dogs neutered.  But they wanted her to have one litter of puppies – for her sake, for the kids to see.

“A Good Dog”

I didn’t say much about it, other than asking if they were breeders.  “Oh no, just she’s a good dog and we know people who’d like one of her pups.”  I agreed that neutering them was certainly a good idea.  They seemed like nice people.  They had got the female from a breeder they know who enters his dogs in field trials (she was a hound).  This guy wants to hunt with her.  She clearly was a beloved pet, both dogs were. Her people knew and appreciated her lineage even though they weren’t into dog showing or competitions.  Probably those pups will get good homes.

But what I wanted to say – scream even – was why?  why?  why? You’re not breeding her at the request of her breeder, so that her pups can add to the prestige of his kennel.  You’re not, fortunately, breeding her so you can make some extra money off selling them on Kijiji.  You are doing it so she has the experience of having puppies and so your children can watch the miracle of birth.  Nice, family-oriented ideals – but why?

Why, at age 2 with no breeding plans in his future, was the male not Penny & foster pupsalready neutered?  Why do people think it’s necessary for a dog’s fulfillment to have puppies?  And why is deliberately letting a dog (or cat) get pregnant the only way to let your children witness the giving of birth?

A dog adjusts very quickly to being neutered.  At least, it’s quick if he’s young.  When older, when used to being “Mr. Testosterone”, the adjustment can be harder.  Still, the adjustment he has to undergo is preferable to the fights he’ll get in, the roaming he’ll feel compelled to do, and the unwanted puppies he’ll create given half a chance if he is not neutered.  A female dog does not feel she’s missing out on something if she never has puppies.  There is no health benefit for her in having puppies.

Foster Pups

If it’s important to you that your children witness birth and the first weeks of animals’ lives, there are other ways of doing it.  There are always irresponsible people who let their dogs or cats get pregnant, then don’t want to be bothered with them.  Those pregnant animals end up in shelters or wandering the streets until they get picked up by the dog catcher.  In every city and town, there are animal pounds and rescue groups looking for foster homes for pregnant dogs and cats.

You can take the mother in and look after her, experience the miracle of birth and help her look after the newborns.  When they are old enough to leave their mother, the babies and mother will go into the foster/adoption system.  You can have the joy of nurturing a mother and her babies and you have a support system finding homes St. Thomas, Ontario, Aug 2010 pound sign no cats acceptedfor them.  You’ve got what you wanted for yourself or your kids. You’ve helped animals in need, and you haven’t contributed to the problem of too many pets and not enough homes.

Anyone willing to foster a pregnant animal for a couple of months can witness the miracle of birth.  Unfortunately, the supply of unwanted and/or unneutered pets so far seems inexhaustible, so finding a needy animal to foster isn’t likely to be a problem.

Contact a local shelter

If you can foster a pregnant dog or cat, contact All Breed Canine Rescue, St. Thomas Animal Control, Animal Aide or Pets/Friends 4 Life.  The miracle of birth will be just as miraculous and moving.

The dog and her 12 puppies in the top photo is Kylie.  An elderly feral dog, she was rescued by Stray Rescue of St. Louis in Missouri while pregnant for the umpteenth time.  The middle photo is of Penny who, after weaning her own puppies, nursed a litter of abandoned pups.  She, and they, were at Save a Mom Pregnant Dog Rescue in East Sparta, Ohio.  The third photo, in St. Thomas ON, speaks for itself.  What happens to the cats and dogs when there’s no room at the pound?

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 14, 2010

Corrie Street Apr. 24/16

Sophie Cat Lady

Sophie describes her future to Tim: “Be by myself, get my own place, a Sophie cat lady describes life after maddiefew cats.” Sophie cat lady. Pity the poor cats. A cat lady puts the cats’ interests and comfort above her own. Sophie doing that? I don’t think so. Sophie’s concern is pretty much all about Sophie. Looking after cats would cut into her navel-gazing time.

Thankfully, Tim talked her off the ledge and convinced her that being happy should be her objective. Presumably, being “happy” and “a crazy cat lady” are mutually exclusive in Sophie’s worldview.

Sophie, I think, does enjoy the thought of a Miss Havisham existence, said-she-does-not-love-herlocked away from the world, mourning her lost love. Problem is, it seems she can’t be around a potential love interest without indeed falling in love.

So Sophie has got herself in the middle of Kate and Caz’s relationship, now headed for break-up. Being a mate, she tells herself and anyone who will listen. But pining away, with unsettled looks in Kate’s direction. Kate, with her own uncertainties about Caz, or marriage to her, or maybe being in a relationship at all, soon started looking back at Sophie.

this-girl-needs-to-figure-outAll this led to a big blow-up between Caz and Kate and their joint hen night being cancelled. The wedding appears to be cancelled too. Caz suspects something is going on between Kate and Sophie and warns Sophie off. But we know, and anyone on the street who has ever actually listened to Kate when the impending wedding is discussed knows, Kate has had cold feet about it since we met her. We just haven’t found out why.

Caz is a bully

you-as-a-crazy-cat-ladyWhatever Kate’s reasons, I think her hesitations are wise. Caz is a bully. She’s also insecure about herself and their relationship. Not a good combination for the person involved with her. Kate might want to talk to Tyrone about that. His ex Kirsty was a cop and Caz is in the army. Both women are examples of the need for rigorous psychological testing before acceptance into jobs which give authority, power, and access to weaponry.

stay-well-clearAnd Kate? She’s accustomed to being indulged. A baby when her mother died, her father and older brother have humoured her in her whims and wishes. So she wants Caz and doesn’t, maybe wants Sophie, maybe wants to be settled in a relationship, maybe doesn’t. Whatever Kate is doing, Sophie should stay out of it, Tim warns.

as-happy-as-maddie-didIt is good that Tim is in Sophie’s  life. Despite his belief that he is a “rubbish parent”, he gives her the sympathy she wants and the common sense that she lacks herself and is unlikely to get from her mother.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth and corgis 1953Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday today. My mother, two years older, grew up with the Queen. From her teen years to adulthood, Mom kept scrapbooks about the Queen’s life. Clippings carefully pasted in, over-filling the large pages. There was a lot of news about the Royals. Thanks to Mom, I have a pretty good record of their lives.

Mom’s scrapbooks weren’t purpose-built for a Royalty collection. But there were those, I discovered in a second-hand shop in Sussex. Scrapbooks exactly like Mom’s but with a full-page image of the Queen on the cover. Mom wasn’t the only person with the mission of keeping a record of the Queen’s life.

Their Majesties with Princess Elizabeth and Civil Defence dogProbably mainly young women, entranced by the fairy tale aspects of Elizabeth and Margaret, the two beautiful young princesses. Princesses who as children had thought they’d always be in the choir of the royal family, not among the soloists.

That changed in 1936, when their Uncle David abdicated. Their father, the next eldest son, went from Duke of York to King George VI. Princess Elizabeth, being his first born, would wear the crown after him – in time, many years down the road.

wedding 1947 Elizabeth and Philip scrapbook pageIn the meantime, she could have a life a bit outside the limelight. She married at the age of 21, two years after World War II ended, and had children. Her naval officer husband was stationed in Malta, so they lived there for a time.

Queen Elizabeth and family 1952 on Clarence House lawnHer life had parallels with the lives of women like my mother. A WWII veteran husband, two baby boom children, making a new home while keeping close with parents and family. In the magazines, you saw a beautiful young woman, impish children, handsome husband, a dog or two. A privileged version of the post-war, post-Depression life shared, or aspired to, by many.

Three Queens

George VI death headline and new queen in mourningIt all changed, too soon, for her. George VI died in 1952 at the age of 56. Three bereaved Queens shrouded in black – mother, wife and daughter. The daughter now the reigning monarch.

For 64 years now, she has been Queen. We still see photographs of her and her family in magazines and social media. We know quite a lot royal scrapbooks made by my momof detail about the lives of her children and grandchildren, but we actually know very little about Queen Elizabeth. Her life has been such a part of our history and our geography that she is familiar to us. We feel like we know her, much the same, I think, as my mother felt about her when they were both young girls.

Have a very happy birthday, ma’am.

Corrie Street Apr. 17/16

Medical Marijuana

It’s been like time travel, hearing Izzy and Gary and now Anna freak out about marijuana and drug dealing and the slippery slope. ReeferReeferMadnessPoster-wikipedia madness! Over a bit of weed.

Where have these people been, I’ve wondered. Have they not heard the debates of the past how many years about the medicinal uses of marijuana, the legalization, the dispensaries where people with prescriptions receive their allotted dosages? Marijuana is talked about a lot in media and general discourse, but as “medical” more so than “recreational”.

With her chronic illness and high levels of pain, I would think Izzy would know all about what is au courant in the medical community for long term pain relief. And, at least here in North America, that’s medical marijuana. I’ve even seen posts on social media recently about its value for chronic pain relief for your dog.

And Izzy hadn’t discussed its possible benefit for her with her doctor? Instead she went to a decidedly sleazy bar and met a guy who sold her oregano. Good heavens, I had no idea that old trick could still work on anyone.

Izzy holds up tiny bag of marijuanaThen Gary gets her some. Problem solved, until she needs more. The next lot that Gary buys is way stronger. Tell your friend to use less, the guy warns Gary. Ya think? The teeny-tiny amount alone ought to be a clue. Izzy heeds the warning, but whatever else is in it is very powerful and she is totally disoriented by it.

Anna walks in, of course, and sees the state of Izzy and the evidence ashtrayin the ashtray (and presumably the smell). Off she goes with Jake, telling Izzy she’s in no fit state to care for a child. Until she sorts herself out, Jake will not be back.

So later in the week Izzy does what she should have done in the first place. She goes to her doctor and asks about a prescription for medical marijuana. The doctor turns her down as not qualifying for some reason. Now she will have to turn elsewhere for pain relief, in other buzzed out Izzy tells Anna it was different beforesleazy bars or with other high-powered opiate prescription painkillers.

Presumably we’ll be crawling into the underbelly of illegal or legal drug use along with her in the search for pain relief. It’s a real story about a real problem. If the writers had simply turned events in the plot around, it would be more believable. It should have started at the point it ended at this week, with Izzy asking her doctor about medical marijuana as an option for her.

Titanic: No greater love

Among the bodies found after Titanic sank was that of a woman, clinging to the body of a Great Dane. Ann Elizabeth Isham had a seat in a lifeboat but was told dogs on Titanic deck, including a Great Dane typeher dog was too big to come with her. So she jumped back on board the ship. They drowned together.

This is one of the stories told in a current exhibit about the people and dogs of Titanic at the Widener University Art Gallery in Chester PA. There were at least twelve dogs on board. Three survived. Small dogs, they were carried in bags or wrapped in blankets and, held on laps, they didn’t take extra space. Astonishingly, a Pomeranian was refused entry on the rescue ship Carpathia. That, after he and his mistress had survived the night on a lifeboat. Mrs. Martin Rothschild raised such a fuss that her little dog was allowed to board.

Dogs were 1st class passengers while cats were crew, on mousing detail. There is a story that one cat saved a man as well as herself and her kittens. She was on board from Belfast to Southampton where she disembarked, carrying her kittens off one by one. A man, debating whether to seek continued work on the ship’s journey, saw the cat leave and decided he too should stay ashore.

Happenstance, loyalty and sacrifice

The tale of the Titanic is filled with happenstance, loyalty and sacrifice. Ida Straus was in a lifeboat when she realized her octogenarian husband wasn’t allowed on. “Where he goes, I go” she said and stepped back on the ship. They died together.

Quigg Baxter rowingQuebec Shamrock hockey player Quigg Baxter was on board with his mother and sister and, without their knowledge, so was his girlfriend Berthe Mayné, a Belgian cabaret singer. He introduced Berthe to his mother and sister as he put her in the lifeboat with them. He drowned.  Berthe later returned to Belgium and told stories of her doomed Canadian beau but nobody in her family believed her. After her death, they found a small box filled with photos of Quigg and his love letters to her.

A Canadian businessman, Capt. Arthur Peuchen, survived but later wished he hadn’t. A yachtsman, he got on a lifeboat with women and children to safely row it away. Back in Toronto, he was scorned for having survived. He retreated to a logging camp and horse farm in Alberta, haunted by survivor guilt. He died in 1929, a double survivor I think; of Titanic, then of societal opprobrium.

Titanic 100 years later

painting by Willy Stower sinking of TitanicThe Titanic specials for the 100th anniversary taught me a lot about the ship and our folklore about her. The hubris believed to be shown by the claim that she was unsinkable: the Captain and ship designers never said that, only the media did. The image of frivolity we see in the band playing as the ship listed and sunk: those musicians willingly gave their lives, knowing the value of music to keep others calm and provide solace for those facing death. Engineers accepted death to stay below trying to save the ship, then just to delay the sinking to save as many other lives as possible. The Captain hadn’t run her at full speed. He knew the danger of icebergs. On his final voyage before retirement, he went down with his ship.

Unfortunate timing of events coupled with miscommunication led to the disaster. The errors were not having Titanic ship in a bottleenough lifeboats and not enough practice at loading those they had. But, faced with disaster, people did the best they could. I hope Titanic is protected effectively now and left as the burial ground she is. Let her remain a testament to the power of the sea and the sacrifice of so many.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog Apr. 19, 2012 (2 comments below) 

Corrie Street Apr. 10/16

Family Stories

Different family stories told in Monday’s episode. First, Kylie at family stories kylie-pulls-out-a-dress Freddie’s house, sorting his late wife Sadie’s clothes for the charity shop. There’s a dress he doesn’t want Kylie to pack up. It’s long and silver and sparkly. He wants to keep it for the story in its fabric.

freddie tells kylie about sleeping-beauty-1973In 1973, as a surprise for her 21st birthday, Freddie took Sadie to London, to the ballet in Covent Garden. Going there was a dream she’d long had. He borrowed a suit from a friend. Sadie packed a skirt and blouse. “I had no idea how dressy the ballet was.” In London with only an hour before the performance, “cursing like a navvy,” Sadie went dress shopping. They had little money left. It second-hand-shop-in-sohohad been spent on the tickets, trains and a b & b.

Sadie found her dress in a Soho secondhand shop. She could then enjoy every minute of Sleeping Beauty. Freddie wants to keep the dress, a reminder of that night of elegance and magic. Of his Sadie’s dream come true, of his dream come true in freddie says it is the people you lovesharing his life with her. The silly little rows don’t matter, he tells Kylie, it’s the people you love and those who love you.

Contrast that evocative story of a marriage, embodied in a dress, with the Platt family in real time. Freddie drives Kylie to the hospital when she checks her phone and find many messages. Sarah is having her baby, early.

Platt family’s silly row

Platts all-you-care-about-isA family argument has been brewing in the waiting room, and it explodes with their arrival. Kylie and Freddie stay out of it, as do Todd and David. But Gail, Audrey and Nick don’t really need anyone else for a good fight.

call-yourself-a-birthing-partnerGail is the worst of the lot. She turns on Kylie for letting Sarah down as her birthing partner. She pouts that it should have been her. “Oh yes, if she’d fancied giving birth in a multiplex” – Audrey’s little dig at Gail for being at a movie when she was needed.

Nick tells his mother this isn’t helping Sarah, and comes under fire for halfway-across-the-countryhow will he be helping when he’s moved halfway across the country. He says who could blame him, “try and be 35 with your mum breathing down your neck.” Gail’s answer? “Try it when you’re nearly 60.” Audrey sputters with astonishment.

My husband said it reminded him of a time when the Platts were discussing some trashy family, and David said “we are that family.”

Roast Guinea Fowl

Hi Dorothy, from time to time I´m going through your web site. You are doing a great job to cover all fields and sharing with other people. I also checked the part with the recipes and decided that one is missing, so listen:

Roast Guinea Fowl with Vegetables and Rice

roast guinea fowl Gesell-photosYou need:

for the meat –
* two guinea fowls, each ca. 1 to 1.2 kg
* fresh garlic
* groundnut [peanut] oil
* beer
* salt
* pepper
* curry powder
* red sweet pepper powder

for the vegetables –
* potatoes
* sweet potatoes
Tilda rice Ghana Gesell-photos* carrots
* zucchini
* tomatoes
and what else you like

for the rice –
* 400 grams basmati (Tilda if possible)
* 720 ml water (180ml per 100 grams rice)
* salt
* two big spoons butter

for the joy –
5 to 7 friends to be invited for the dinner

How to prepare:

guinea fowl over veges-Gesell-photosTake a mortar and grind salt and plenty garlic until you get a smooth paste to an amount of 50 to 60 grams and apply it to the chicks.

Mix the spices with the groundnut oil and the beer. You will need it to pour on the chicks while they are roasting.

Set the chicks on the rack which fits in the oven and you need an oven veggies-in-roaster-Gesell-photospan to set below the rack and fill it with all the vegetables I have written and more if you like. Soft vegetables like zucchini can be added later because they are done faster.

To prevent the vegetables from burning, pour groundnut oil on the oven pan before you set the vegetables in.

guinea-fowl-veges-in-oven-Gesell-photosWhen every thing is set, you start the oven at 160°C [320˚F]. It might be necessary to rise the temperature up to 180°C. One has to watch. Don’t forget to pour the spices, mixed with beer and oil, over the chicks as they are cooking. After 70 to 90 minutes everything should be ready.

[ds – great oven design! In ovens with racks attached to the walls, you need to pull out both racks at once to baste – carefully, with oven mitts. Or maybe put the birds on a separate rack on top of a deep roasting pan?] 

Rice:

To prepare the rice you melt the butter in a pot and fry the washed rice until it is glassy.

frying-rice-Gesell-photosBoil the water with salt in a different pot and pour it over the rice while it’s still on the hot stove.

adding water to rice Gesell-photosLet it boil for one minute on high temperature and stir it around. Then lower the temperature to the lowest point, take a cover that fits the pot exactly and close it.

rice cooking Gesell-photosLet it simmer for 18 minutes and don’t open the cover before the 18 minutes are over.

Now you can serve your guests and remember the guinea fowls of Tamale. Greetings from Germany.

Yours, Helmut

roast guinea fowl dinner Gesell-photos

My friend Helmut and I met years ago when we both lived in Tamale in Northern Ghana. I think the first guinea fowl I ever ate was made this way, at his house there, made by him or the cook he learned it from. Helmut sent me the recipe last month, then cooked it at home in Germany and Helmeted_guinea_fowl-steve-2007-wikicommonsdocumented the process. Danke schön, Conny, the photos are great.

I asked about substituting chicken since it’s easier to get here. Needs to be dark meat, he said. Guinea fowl of New Brunswick, beware!

Corrie Street Apr. 3/16

Early Baby

Friday, Sarah in the flower shop with Todd then a follow-up scene with Sarah, Todd, Tracy, David and Mary. Sarah might have an early baby, five weeks early.

todd-brings-sarah-teaTodd sees Sarah struggling to pick up dropped bags at the bus stop when she returns from a shopping trip to town. Seeing she looks exhausted, he takes her to the florist shop for a cup of tea. There he says that people seem to have forgotten that Bethany wasn’t the last child born in the Platt family. There was their Billy as well, the baby who died soon after birth. But he doesn’t forget, he tells Sarah. He’d be 11 now, nearly 12, Todd says.

todd-talks-as sarah-shows-painTodd breaks off his speculation about what Billy would be doing, if he were alive, when he notices Sarah’s discomfort. No, it’s not what he’s saying, Sarah says, it’s the baby – he’s coming. Too early, like Billy.

Skip through a few scenes back to the florists. Tracy is there and is horrified that a moaning pregnant woman is in the middle of her retail space, putting customers off. In comes a customer, Mary, looking for a small conversation piece for an occasional table.

tracy-upsells-flowers-to-mary“How much are you thinking of spending – 20, 30? I could do something amazing for 40,” Tracy says over the wailing of Sarah.

I’m not a nurse, but I’ve seen a lot of telly

But Mary’s attention is on the medical emergency in front of her. She’s not a nurse but “I’ve seen a lot of telly,” she assures Sarah. She calls for towels and hot water and begins rolling up her sleeves. She wants to locate the baby’s head, she informs Sarah. The want-you-to-breathe-deeplyambulance siren can be heard, just in the nick of time.

It’s nice for the characters and viewers to take a moment to remember baby Billy. Also nice is a very funny moment of an unsympathetic Tracy totally unflapped about Sarah possibly going into labour right then and there.

Tracy shifts to her best sycophantic ‘are you being served?’ routine. That her customer was Mary – what could be better? “You owe me 40 quid,” Tracy tells the moaning Sarah when she early baby - david-holds up hand and says-she-was-gonnarealizes she’s lost a sale. Of course she claims the top end of the amounts she suggested. Mary had totally forgot about her floral conversation piece and was much more concerned about the living, breathing one about to have a baby.