Monthly Archives: March 2013

My Wallpaper is my Mood Ring

Ever have “one of those days” at work? yup, c’mon, raise your hand, you know you do! A day when you really, really, really want to tell that annoying person where to go? Except that there are laws against that?  Or one of those days that you just can’t seem to do anything right, but it’s only 9am and you can’t go home yet?  In either case, to save me a trip to human resources, I change my computer wallpaper. One of my colleagues knows me so well, that he looks at my wallpaper to judge my mode.  If it’s a photo of zebras kicking another zebra in the face, he laughs and treads lightly. If it’s a landscape photo, all is probably good (unless it’s volcanoes). Once I think I had a lion kill photo (thank you National Geographic photography) and he just sat very quietly at his computer so he wouldn’t attract my attention. If someone is being a real idiot, it’s the penguin butt photo (from Guardian’s week in wildlife – and it was actually a frontal shot).

And when it’s a really bad day and it’s noone’s fault but the universe, I’m in need of a little cute and fuzzy. That’s when I discovered this blog about the cutest kitten in the world. Not only is she adorable (everyone in the office went “awwwww”), the photography is really nice too – crisp and clean.

However, once in awhile, everything is right in the world and I can put up some photos that sooth the soul and inspire. That’s how I found this blog on fine art dog photos and eventually, this photographer. I had the Puli (rasta dog!!!) on my computer for days! (really long time for me) because I love motion shots and this dog was great (still trying to find out how they did that one).  And then had the dog (schnauzer or poodle?) clipped like a skeleton up there for awhile too.  And for those of you who are about to complain that it was a cruel thing to do to a dog or that animals are beautiful in their natural state has never been in a barn to contemplate how to clip the hair on a horse’s butt so there is a little heart in it (just set the clippers a little longer or shorter). (p.s. “clipping” = shaving with an industrial size men’s clippers).

I love Tim Flach’s photos of equines and plan on trying some of them as soon as winter is over!!!!

Best pieces of yoga advice

  1. Your toes are just accessories, you don’t actually need them (balancing, finding your centre, avoiding windmilling your arms when in tree pose)
  2. It’s YOUR practice, do what feels organic (I’m sorry, there is nothing organic about some of these poses (king pigeon pose??), but I take your point – wiggle it if it feels good)
  3. Do not let go of the rope (otherwise things go bump and it hurts)
  4. Look at your nose, not your neighbour (especially if you have neck issues)
  5. Look at your toes, not your neighbour (you can cause temporary paralysis or at the very least, it really hurts)
  6. Wear comfortable, loose clothing, but not too loose cuz you spend a lot of time in downward dog

(and you thought yoga was for wimps!)



My mom told me to buy a hoUse, not a hoRse.

But I bought a horse anyway, and here’s why.

Winter north of the 49th parallel: that’s the top reason to not own a horse. Have you ever seen a barn at winter (and I’m not talking about those of you who are lucky enough to ride at places like the Hong Kong jockey club). If it isn’t a skating rink (slid my car almost into another car/tractor twice), it’s a mudbath (and not in a skin-cleansing way – remember what the horses left on top of the ice).

Winter north of the 49th parallel: is not a bad reason to own a horse. Owning a horse gets you out of the house. With animals, you can’t tell them to take a raincheck, you don’t feel like it today. They have to be exercised, cleaned, medicated, fed, and all around tended to. Plus, once you put on 7 layers of clothing and start riding, you warm up pretty quick. (in modern times, I have managed to reduce that to 5 layers of clothing using thermal undies.)

Injuries and vet bills: are definitely on the reasons to not own a horse. OMG, have you SEEN what animal medical costs? And this is CHEAPER than for a dog/cat? HOW much was that ONE steroid shot?

Injuries and vet bills: does have some benefits like allowing you to meet a wide range of really nice people. Let’s face it, anyone who chooses to work with animals probably is pretty nice and pretty mellow. You can’t be excited when dealing with a half a ton animal who is still trying to decide if he likes you or not AND has steel shoes. Plus there is the horse’s eye doctor, massage therapist, blacksmith (aka shoe salesman) and x-ray technician for you to meet and pay. And if your horse regularly loses his shoes or pulls muscles or has an undiagnosable illness, you get to know all these people really well.

A horse can think for himself: which is a great thing when you have issues steering a car or bike or judging distance. I have never ridden a horse that crashes into a wall. Nor one that falls over or stops running in the middle of a gallop (yes, my car decided to test my driving skills while I was on a highway).

A horse can think for himself: but you may not always agree with the decision. Like when I ended up behind the saddle (on the horse’s butt) and she decided I really didn’t belong there. The people watching said I flew at least a meter over her in the air. Or when a horse decided at the VERY LAST MINUTE to skid to a dead stop in front of a jump….and I went over anyway. ouch. (look out for good sales on painkillers and muscle relaxants)

Spring, Summer and Fall anywhere: good reason to own a horse. Riding in shortsleeves with the wind in your hair (under a safety helmet, of course) is amazing. It’s the ultimate stress reliever and relaxation and just plain fun! I love riding in the field with Monarch butterflies fluttering around and swallows swooping and diving.

Spring, Summer and Fall anywhere: can test you and your horse. In spring, your horse will go crazy after being cooped up all winter. He starts thinking: “OMG WHAT IS THAT SOUND!? oh, it’s a bird. OMG, WHAT WAS THAT?! It was the tree moving in the wind. I’M SO OUTTA HERE! because I’ve never seen an umbrella before”. Your horse will calm down just in time for the bugs and flies to come out in the Summer and for him to spook and run away from that.

Cuteness: top reason to own any animal.  Yes, my horse is cute. Totally and utterly cute.  When he grows in his winter hair and his main grows long, he looks like a big furry llama (in a good way). Everyone loves him and when he begs for treats, you hear “awwww” all around. I love seeing him at the end of a long day. Just being there gives my spirit a lift.

Cuteness: only goes so far. My horse decided to shed all his winter hair….in December, then re-grow it, then shed it again.  Last year, he decided to keep the last batch he grew until he was sweating just standing there (it was May/June already). When you de-shed your horse (see other post here), you need special implements (a Furminator is flipping $70+!!!! and isn’t even available in this country!) and still the fur goes everywhere. Hint: keep your mouth closed during this process. However, when you clip (shave) your horse, it’s even worse. I didn’t know hair could get in my underwear through 3 layers of clothing.

He loves you: best, best, best reason to be owned by a horse. I’m pretty sure my horse has some feelings resembling affection for me. He does look up when I call his name. He does tentatively take a step in my direction. He certainly has loads of patience when I ride him. Once or twice, I’ve even heard him nicker at me. And he puts up with all my photography attempts.


As a kid, I wanted to be wonder woman or an archeologist. For some reason, digging up old bones was so cool to me. Then I discovered how poor archeologist (or more correctly paleontologists) were – or worse, how much time the spent applying for grant money!  But I still enjoy a good dinosaur exhibit and the one currently at the Royal Ontario Museum is quite good. Not only did they manage to make it adult AND kid friendly, they did it with all the same things.  So, you don’t have lofty academic explanations that read like a textbook “….and something-something-saurus was a nocturnally active carnivore whose bipedal structure enabled enhanced visual capacity ….” (yes, I just made that up) next to brightly coloured, low to the ground for the ankle biters, big letter signs saying things like “som-thin-saw-rus liked to eat nuts and berries” (note, this is a different something saurus than the adults were reading about).

No, really, the ROM exhibit was both informative and entertaining and in such as way that the line up of Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic actually made sense. The information signs were digestible and to the point, the interactive screens actually worked and didn’t lock you into a 5 minute video! And the screens where dinosaurs reacted to you moving (can we say xbox?) were neat!

It’s on until March 17th (oops, should have posted this earlier) and here are some teaser photos:

T-Rex, I believe? Small Dinosaur T-Rex rival

Chinese New Year re-visited for meat eaters

Meat is a big thing in my family. Not only is food a central focal point for social gathering and bonding (how can you get into disagreements when your mouth is full?), there has to be meat – lots and lots of protein. In fact, in the current generation and the previous and the one before that, there is only two vegetarians and one is for religious reasons and the other medical.

So, due to various reasons, we ended up having a second family Chinese New Year dinner (see post of first one here). I only took photos of two dishes because then the food was served and eating was priority. One dish is very traditional – roast pork. I don’t mean traditional in the mystic more years than anyone can count Chinese tradition – I mean traditional in that anytime the family gets together to eat Chinese, someone has brought the roast pork. And we never cook this one ourselves (we have pig like qualities when it comes to quantity of food, but we don’t have the equipment or room to cook one; not to mention the last time I cooked crackling, the thing almost broke my teeth).

Roast Pork

The best part about roast pork is the crackling. It’s like a potato chip with the fatty goodness of a big roast. yum!

We (meaning my uncle who is a chef supreme in my family) did cook the chicken and mushroom dish. These mushrooms we call “doung-go” (that’s as close as I can get to the phonetics) – they are the dried shitake mushrooms (and just think how confusing that was for me growing up). The mushrooms and chicken are cooked separately:

Chicken CookingThese are dried shitake mushrooms that have been soaked overnight and then cooked down in water and seasoning (oyster sauce, soy sauce and hoisin)

Both are seasoned with similar ingrediants: dark soy, hoisin, oyster and soy paste and after both are cooked, they are combined for a delicious dish, proving that fairly ordinary looking components combine so their sum is greater than their parts!

Chicken and Dungoo