exploring, preserving: past, present


Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, or Where’s the Upside in This?

Three weeks of interrupted sleep. Grumpiness. Aches and pains all over. Bleary, red eyes. Itchy skin. Sneezing. Scratching. Hair loss. Yuck. Great way to start a “Saturday Upsides” post, right? Well, all those symptoms are actually exhibited by one of our dogs. Well, and some of them by her owners (lack ofsleep, grumpiness) because she’s been keeping us up with her symptoms. Before I get into that, let me make some introductions….

Our home life is a very comfy one, shared with two quirky and spoiled dogs named Selah and Belle.

Selah is a grey and white Shihtzu who has spent all but eight weeks of her nine years with me. Belle is an all-white Bichon-Lhasa cross who has spent 3.5 out of her 5 years with us. They both love table scraps, can be very smart, but hide it well.

We just realized that for the past three years in a row, Belle has become ill every November. Each time, it’s felt like it has snuck up on us over the span of two weeks of her giving us more cuddles, whimpering at night, starting to scratch her ears and sides more, culminating in a trip to the vet to figure it out.

Normally, Belle’s a shy and skittish dog around new people and things, so when the first symptoms of illness came on (cuddling and whimpering at night), we just chalked it up to her wanting to be close to us more. Three years ago, the vet said the scratching and bumps on her skin were probably diet-related, so we cut out everything from her diet except special kibble for allergy-prone dogs.  That seemed to do the trick, and life calmed down (including her scratching and whimpering).

A year passed, then (again in November, but we didn’t figure that out then) the symptoms set in–more cuddling, more whimpering, and finally bumps and scratches and waking up at night to her desperate attempts to get relief by scratching and thumping on the floor (yeah, that’s always fun to wake up to at 3am!). Took her to the vet again, and the vet thought it might be parasites or yeast growing on the skin, so she gave us a special shampoo for her. Calm returned, scratching and whimpering stopped, restful nights again (ahhhh).

Well, here we are in November again. Just finished taking Belle to the vet…again. Our vet said “hey did you know this is the third year in a row you’ve come in November? I think she’s got fall allergies!”

After doing a battery of tests to confirm it’s nothing internal (and we got the all-clear that everything’s working fine internally), the final conclusion is that “it’s in the air”.  Yup, Belle’s got allergies. And it’ll happen every November. So if we pro-actively feed her a pill from the beginning of the month through to the end of November, none of the symptoms will return.  That’s it. Phew. And it only took three years to figure out.

So, in about two weeks, Belle will be back to her usual calm, cuddly, now-predictable self. And we will too. ‘Til then, I get to enjoy an unusually cuddly dog seeking relief from her itchiness and giving me extra kisses even after the baths she despises so much. Because she knows we’re only trying to help, and relief will come.

Join Bonnie at Recipes Happen and others every Saturday, blogging about looking for the “upsides” in everyday life. Happy Saturday everyone!



Saturday Upsides–Kitchen Mistake turns into Positive Partaking of Peach Preserves

My former English teacher would be jumping for joy at the title of this post.  😉

Well, I spent some time this week preserving a case of peaches. Peach preserves in light syrup are my husband’s favourite pick, and they come in a close second to my favourite–pear preserves.

Peaches in hot water, to make skin easier to remove.

All was going pretty well according to plan, except it was going too slowly. Too many peaches to peel quickly, too many things happening all at once in the kitchen. Ultimately, I ended up having my last batch of jars of preserve come out of the hot water bath too early. How do I know this?  The happy little “ping” sound of metal lids creating their vacuum seal just didn’t happen. Even crossing my fingers that it would happen overnight in the cooling process didn’t work.


So much effort, and now I had two quarts of peach preserves that couldn’t be stored for the winter.

Because I had spent so much time and effort preserving them, I was frustrated. But then our two Chinese girls who are staying with us (attending university) came into the kitchen and oohed and aahed at the jars. They asked lots of questions about how to make preserves, and kept saying how beautiful they looked. We ended up opening one jar and sharing big bowls of peach preserves right then and there–yum.

Sure, I knew that the contents would be good for a few weeks if stored in the fridge. My feelings of frustration were more about the amount of time and effort put into food storage that was supposed to be for winter.

What was the “upside”? Instead of having to wait a few months, I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with our two girls, and learned how much they love peaches and pears (and get them very rarely in China). Love it.

Which only makes me want to preserve more peaches and pears…for more conversations like the one I had this week with them!  🙂

Happy Saturday–and keep finding the positives! Join Bonnie and others by writing Saturday Upsides posts each Saturday!