Wednesday, 21 May 2014

How to Succeed at College ... Freddie's Way

1) Check your p-mail before you get to class!

2) Choose eco-friendly transportation!

[This is Doggy Ride Redux — replacement of v.1, below, which was evilly stolen back in March. This new one gets much more securely locked up in the parkade, with wheels removed and locked to my bike!]

3) Find a relaxing route!

[Freddie and I have a great route to school — once we get past the steepness and busyness of the 4th and Arbutus area. It's quiet and shady ... not many cars, in part thanks to traffic diversions such as the one below.]

4) Don't go to class hungry!

[Here we have my post-breakfast, mid-journey blood sugar. A bit high, but considering I still have several kilometres of dog-hauling to do (some of them uphill), I'm not taking any extra insulin at this point!]

5) Go to school with friends. They make it easier and more fun!

[This is true. My highly scientific studies show that students who sign up for classes with a friend or who make friends in class cope better when the going gets tough.]
6) Dress for success!

[This is true, too. Doesn't need to be fashionable or expensive, but dressing  for class they way you'd dress to go out with a new friend helps you feel like what you're doing is worthwhile and important.]

7) Get to know your campus resources ... 

[Freddie made sure to get on Security Officer Nathan's good side his first day at college — it wasn't hard.]

 [Secure bike parking!]
[Library duck pond!]

"But why can't I go in??" says Freddie.
 ... and rules.

[Personally, I would like to ride my bicycle down one of the A-Building hallways on a Thursday afternoon when no one is around, but whatever. More importantly, Langara College needs to update its dog sticker to say "Service Dogs"! They do have nice service dog posters inside, however.]
8) Find out your instructor's office hours, and use them!

[I made Freddie include this one.]

 9) Know where all your things are!

[Here we have Freddie's office crate, aka my desk. For logistical reasons, Freddie and I moved into Paul's office last summer ... so it's our second family home. Those tidy piles of books and paper will deteriorate as the semester progresses!]
10) Stay hydrated!

[You can't see the water dish, but it's there.]

[OK, this one's mostly mine, too.]
[Unless you're Freddie, in which case, resting and daydreaming are often appropriate.]

[Freddie's eye view of English 1107]
Studious Feet!

12) Studying is hard work. Plan for rest during your school day ...

... and recreation!

13) Go to school with friends (it's worth repeating)!

[This is Freddie's good friend and next-office neighbour, Greg. Freddie and Greg make each other a little crazy ... but in a good way!]
[Heading home for the day with best-pal Paul! Some days, Freddie and Paul get to leave early, while I slave away for another couple of hours. :-)]

14) Classrooms are stuffy. Spend time out in nature!

15) Meditate and reflect ...

[Tai Chi in Q.E. Park! Freddie and I pass by these folks on our way to school.]

16) Get a good night's sleep!

I wanted to add "Do your homework!" and "Follow the @#$% instructions!" 
but Freddie said this is his list, and I can do my own if I want. So there.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Cops, Critics, Cancer ... Close Encounters at the Kits Dog Beach

This morning Freddie and I had our first encounter with the City's Animal Control forces. I'd been hearing about these draconian dog cops ever since Freddie came into our lives ... commiserating with disgruntled dog people over the fact that summertime rules banish dogs from "their" beach between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., collaborating on wet winter mornings to set our pooches free on the empty human beach, prohibitions be damned. But today was my first face-to-face meeting with an Animal Law enforcement officer.

And ...?

She was peachy. Granted, Freddie and I weren't doing anything wrong. It was 9:50, and we were leaving the dog beach; Freddie was wearing an up-to-date licence tag (the main thing she was checking); I had a leash in my hand and poop bags in my pocket. Phew! Who knows what would have transpired if I'd been violating any of the rules (I suspect my wallet might have been lightened in the process), but, in any event, this particular Animal Cop seemed to be a dog lover. She greeted Freddie cheerfully and let him rub his sandy, seaweedy flanks against her legs. She told him he was a good boy, then she wrote down his name and licence number and wished us a good day.

May all our encounters with the Law be thus!

Green Canopy 1
Green Canopy 2

Back Lane Mural

Our second dog-beach meeting was with The Georgia Straight's longtime theatre critic Colin Thomas, who, on the surface anyway, is an über-nice guy. Years ago, I used to cross paths with him at aerobics classes, and over the past few months I've been seeing him regularly down at the beach, along with his devoted sidekick, Enzo.

We usually say hi and have a brief chat about dogs or the weather, but this morning I finally decided to let on that I know he's the Colin Thomas and to convey my appreciation for all his entertaining and insightful theatre reviews over the years. He thanked me heartily. We chatted about the Vancouver theatre scene for a little while, then he mentioned having seen the Dog Cops earlier and expressed sympathy for their thankless work of dealing with people who, for the most part, don't want to see them.

I'm glad I remembered to thank "our" cop!

Zulu Records

Kitchen Corner

Coach Dad

Now, yes, our third encounter involves cancer — specifically, the trials of a Dogfriend from our old neighbourhood who's been living through a C-word horrorshow for the past couple of years — but, when Freddie and I spotted him and his frisky little Staffie terrier climbing the grassy hill at the end of Arbutus, it was clear his health is on an upswing. His hair was thick and wavy, his face vibrant, his legs strong. He confirmed that his latest prognosis is excellent. Phew!

(Freddie managed to stroll past this tied-up pup this afternoon with no kerfuffle at all!)

I was happy to have run into our old Dogfriend — for the predictable reasons, but also because, not five minutes after wishing him a good day, I saw a young boy (9? 10?) getting out of a car with his parents, and it was depressingly obvious from his appearance and the things his parents were saying to him that this kid was going through chemo.

So not fair. To say the least.

Whoever the kid is, I hope he, too, will come through with an excellent prognosis and return to the beach in full force to practice basketball and pull-ups and fly kites with his folks and his friends.

Speaking of Parental People, Freddie took his grandfolks to a new (to us) dog park on Mother's Day — Everett Crowley Park in the Champlain Heights area. (Actually they took us; neither Freddie nor I did a scrap of driving!)

Here's Freddie watching as Mom takes avant-garde 3-second videos with her iPad ...

I'm bummed that this huge, off-leash park isn't a bit closer for us to get to. It's meadowy and deciduous, offering a nice contrast to Pacific Spirit.

Oh, well ... this is hardly a dog deprived of recreational opportunities!

Stay tuned for our next post, in which Freddie will travel to school in his bicycle RV and help teach an English class on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

WWF's First Product Review: Tutti Gourmet!

OK, I'm straying a bit from Walking With Freddie's usual fare in this post ... but what the hell. It's my party, and I'll write about food products if I want to. :)

So, without further ado ...

a product review!

As a follow-up to my first mention of yummy Bana Krisps*, the friendly folks at Tutti Gourmet in Hudson, Quebec sent some samples of their gluten-free biscotti for my consideration. Disclosure: these friendly folks — Cara and Michael, whom I don't know personally — did send me free food, but they are neither paying me for this endorsement nor threatening to abduct my dog if I don't say nice things!

Now, I'm a fan of biscotti with my morning coffee, but, for a Type 1 diabetic who tries to keep carbs to a minimum and who no longer eats wheat products, the standard baton-sized, gluten- and sugar-laden biscottus (that's the singular of biscotti, right?**) that cafés store in big glass canisters just doesn't work so well. Yeah, I know I could deal with the size issue easily enough, but there's still the ingredient problem.

I've tried various rice flour baked goods in recent years, and the adjective that comes most readily to mind for such products is mealy (which of course makes me think of mealy bugs ... eww).

Enter Tutti Gourmet's two-bite biscotti. There is rice flour, yes. But it's tastily tempered by organic coconut flour, arrowroot powder, and tapioca ... not to mention the other groovy ingredients in the four varieties: almond, pistachio/cranberry & anise, orange & chocolate (my fave), and chocolate & almond. The carb count is about 7g per biscuit — about half a unit of insulin's worth, in my case, and definitely "shot-worthy" on those mornings when I'm hankering for a little something yummy to dunk in my coffee.

Which reminds me ... biscotti are designed to be dunked, and Tutti Gourmet's product holds up exceptionally well in a hot beverage. No disappointing disintegration or sludge at the bottom of the cup.

Gratuitous photo of Leah, Kali, and flowers at the dog beach!

Oh, they're also free of other common allergens out there — the biscotti, that is. And Leah. I won't speak for the hypo-allergenic qualities of Kali or the flowers. :)

In the interest of giving the most impartial review possible, I offered my Tutti Gourmet biscotti to Paul and various non-diabetic, gluten-tolerant friends. Given a choice between high-quality wheat flour biscotti and Tutti Gourmet's products, I sensed most of them would probably opt for the traditional recipe. However, all agreed that Tutti Gourmet biscotti are really tasty and way better than other gluten-free products. Paul says, "These are by far the best gluten-free baked goods I've tried" (and he has tried quite a few!).

Freddie says, "They don't smell as good as day-old tripe, but for human food they're not bad!" (The bag he's sniffing above is empty, by the way. No biscotti left inside, just crumbs ... hint, hint.)

Blood sugar-wise, Bana Krisps are still the better snack choice for me — impressively short ingredient list, wheat-free, low-carb, über-tasty — but woman cannot live by Bana Krisp alone. Especially if — like right now — her blood sugar is trending low. Bring on the Tutti Gourmet biscotti!

Here's a nice young Italian-Canadian man going out for coffee and biscotti with his nonna.

Buon appetito!

Next post, we're back to walking with Freddie!

* Since I mentioned (in my previous post) being impressed by the error-free French on the Bana Krisp packaging, I'll just add here that I was a teeny bit bummed to find a noun/modifier agreement error on the biscotti ("votre boissons préférée"). Zut alors! But I've seen much worse.

** Hmm ... according the Wikipedia entry on biscotti, the singular is biscotto ... but it comes from the medieval Latin biscoctus, meaning "twice-cooked/baked." So my guess wasn't completely absurd!