A Soapbox Moment (Warning: Long Rant Ahead)

This is Ernie.  Isn’t he gorgeous?

Ernie is a fine testament to why I despise most of the human race.

I was on my way to work Tuesday morning, in the midst of a torrential downpour, and I almost plowed right over him because he was out in the highway.  Unfortunately sights like these aren’t uncommon in rural West Tennessee, so I really didn’t give it much more thought than I do every time I see a dog out roaming.  Which is on a daily basis.  But then later that same day I was coming back up that same highway and saw him again, only this time about a mile farther up the road.  He was just trotting along the highway but stopping to watch every car that passed.  It was then very clear to me that he needed help.  I drove just a little way past him to a road where I could pull off and turn around, but I didn’t even have to turn around.  As soon as he saw me pull off and stop, he came hauling ass to me.  That was what he’d been waiting for.  Someone to stop.  Someone to help.  Someone to SEE him.

He had on a collar, but of course there were no tags and no ID.  Hoping with all that I had that he had someone looking for him, I loaded him up in my car and brought him home.  I could NOT leave him there.  I took him to the clinic to have him checked for a microchip (of course there wasn’t one) and to get something for his fleas and ticks, and I put his pictures all over Facebook on the shelter’s page, the vets’ pages, a county-wide lost and found page.  The only responses I got were from people who live in the area where I picked him up.  They all said the same thing…”He just appeared here about a week ago.”  Y’all, dogs don’t just appear.  They don’t just *POOF* materialize from thin air.  This dog was dumped.

D and I have talked about it before, and we’ve agreed that we would not take on another animal for several reasons, so knowing that we couldn’t keep him I began trying to secure him a rescue.  I didn’t even try to find him one around here.  The good ones are ALWAYS stretched to the max, so I knew it would be futile.  I know from volunteering with a few of them and from doing volunteer driving on transports that a lot of rescues down here transport to other rescues up north where the overpopulation isn’t as huge of an issue as it is here in the south.  So northern and eastern rescues are where I focused.  I emailed six lab and golden retriever rescues (since he looks to be a cross between those two breeds) that I was familiar with and knew to be reputable, and within 24 hours I had responses from three of them agreeing to take him.  I talked with all three, picked the one I liked the best, checked them out thoroughly to be sure there weren’t any issues I wasn’t aware of before I initially emailed them, read reviews from adopters, called their vet, and spoke with other rescuers that had worked with them in the past.  No one had anything but outstanding things to say about them, so I am now officially fostering Ernie for House of Hope Animal Rescue in Elkton, Maryland.

“What is this ‘neuter’ thing you speak of?”

He can’t be transported until two weeks after his vetting is completed, and that’s all scheduled for next Thursday, so he’ll be with us for at least three more weeks.  During that time, he’s learning apparently for the first time in his life what it’s like to be a family dog.

He never gets tired of chasing that which is thrown.

And he has taken right to life as an inside dog.

We’re working on crate training and trying to nix some counter-surfing and food-stealing issues and working on using our inside voice (MAN, he is VOCAL! haha), but other than that, this boy has impeccable house manners.  He’s gonna make someone an amazing companion pet, and I’m so happy to be a part of that process.

People, please.  If any one of you reading this don’t have your animals spayed or neutered, do it.  If you’re considering adding an animal to your family, look to a shelter or rescue, NOT a breeder.  If any of you are forcing your animals to live outside alone and secluded from their family, bring them in where they belong.  If you see an animal in need, for fuck’s sake, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT because chances are no one else will.

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Food for Thought VI (Fourth of July edition)

My favorite part of holidays is always just the family get-togethers, and part of that is because I love cooking for everyone!  I’m still trying to convince my family that you do NOT have to have meat and dairy in a dish to make it tasty!  I proved my point x 4 last Saturday at our Fourth of July cookout.

Corn and Black Bean Burger from Food52 (full recipe in link) – These burgers had the PERFECT texture to them.  I added cayenne pepper and hot sauce to mine when I was mixing it up too.  And I think they would have been even better if I’d used chipotle too.

Coleslaw – Nothing special about this one.  Just used a regular ol’ recipe for coleslaw but used eggless mayo instead and WHAT A SHOCK… no one knew.  haha

Boozy Baked Beans by Cookin’ CrunkIf I’m being completely honest this is the first time I’ve ever made baked beans.  My mother-in-law’s are kind of famous, so she always makes those, but she’s not exactly feeling up to cooking these days.  And they have animal product in them.  While these were REALLY good (yes, everyone said so!) they weren’t that thick, sweet baked bean that I’ve been missing since going veg.  I really want to ask my MIL for her recipe so I can adapt that, but like I said, that’s always been her thing and I don’t want to make it sound like we don’t think she’ll ever make them again or anything, so I’m leaving that one alone.

Black Bean Brownies by Chocolate Covered Katie (full recipe in link) – These are f’ing amazing, y’all.  No other description is needed.  EFFING.  AMAZING.  They were half gone before I could even take a picture!

Food for Thought V

Some new ones and some old favorites!

Hippie Loaf from happyherbivore.com (full recipe in link, also found in Happy Herbivore Cookbook) with mashed taters and Lick the Spoon Golden Gravy from Plant Hungry (full recipe in link) – Southern comfort food at its finest.  I’ve used both of these recipes several times but the good ones are worth coming back to over and over.

Cauliflower Manchurian from Everyday Happy Herbivore – This really wasn’t anything that ever jumped off the page at me and said “MAKE ME!” but I accidentally bought two heads of cauliflower at the grocery (#herbieproblems) so I had some to play with.  It was pretty damn good!  Excuse the shitty presentation.

Supreme Nachos using the Quick Nacho Cheese from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean –  I threw this together one night when I was just craving junk food, and I swear it’s the most satisfying meal I’ve had in a long while!  Tortilla chips, cheese, pinto beans, fresh guacamole, salsa, Tofutti, black olives, green onions, jalapenos.  And beer.  WIN.

Caribbean Chili from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean – I’m usually not a soup or chili in the summer kind of person, but I saw that this one had pineapple in it, and I just happened to have pineapple as well as everything else I needed, so I couldn’t NOT make it.  It was REALLY good!  I loved the sweetness of the pineapple and brown sugar combined with the heat.

And then there was the Tempeh Shepherdess Pie from Veganomican (full recipe in link).  Y’all, it tasted amazing, but it was NOT a pretty dish.  LOL  I took a picture, but now I’m all, “Dude, I can’t post that.”  haha  Just check out the link from another blogger.  She made it and hers was way prettier than mine.

A Fourth to Celebrate (And a Mother-in-Law Update)

Happy Belated Fourth, y’all!  I hope everyone had a safe and fun-filled holiday.  We had the best one that I can ever remember having.  For starters, it’s been a solid 10-15 degrees cooler this year than what we’re accustomed to.  We were all actually chilly sitting outside lighting fireworks Friday night.  The truck on the way home said it was 59 degrees out!  That’s just nuts for Tennessee in July!

We didn’t know till fairly last minute that we were going to be doing anything on the 4th, so we didn’t even hit the fireworks stand until about 10:00 that night.  By then they had everything marked waaaaay down, so we all pitched in and got $100 worth of stuff, which actually turned out to be quite a bit considering how cheap we got it all.  That was all we did that night.  Well that and we threw together plans for a big cookout the next day.  That was when we truly celebrated the holiday.  Family, food, alcohol, and cornhole–that’s how we party up in here!  We do that a few times a year for various occasions on D’s side of the family, but this time was extra special for a couple of reasons.  First, my parents came too!

D and his niece grilling

Cornhole!

My Dad and D’s niece’s dogs

Can I just say how much I HATE that high-waisted shorts are back in style?  According to my 14-year-old niece anyway.  If those are in style, I will just have to be out of style.

And the second reason this holiday was special… well, that brings me to the mother-in-law update part.  She finished her chemo and radiation back in May.  She’s been going back for checkups periodically but wasn’t scheduled to have any more scans until August.  They said she would have too much dead tissue and scarring from the radiation for them to even really tell how effective her treatment was.  Well last Monday, while they were on vacation in Colorado visiting their oldest grandson, she went to the hospital with severe stomach pain with violent vomiting and diarrhea.  They thought it was her gallbladder, so they did an ultrasound, and on that ultrasound they saw something suspicious.  They did a CT scan to check it out further, and they found masses on her liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and the main artery running from the heart to the leg.  They kept her one night to get her rehydrated then they released her to come back to her oncologists in Nashville.  They admitted her on Thursday, and they were under the impression that the team would be in to consult with her on Friday, but then on Friday afternoon they found out that since it was a holiday weekend they wouldn’t be in until Monday.  So she pretty much said, “It’s a holiday for me too!  I’m going to the house!”  It was about 9:00 Friday night when they got back home, thus explaining the last-minute fireworks and BBQ plans.  I don’t want to sound negative, but ,guys, it doesn’t sound good.  We don’t know how many holidays we may have left with her, so we wanted to at least make this one fun before she goes back into the hospital tomorrow.  But no matter what they say, we ARE NOT GIVING UP.  We know of too many people that have had successes using unconventional treatment methods, and she’s ready to start trying some of those if western medicine says they have nothing else to offer her.  I ask for all of your prayers and good thoughts.  We should know more in the next few days.

Getting Back Down to Business!

A few days ago, I was bored at work at home, on my own couch, on my own time, definitely NOT getting paid *bats eyes innocently* … so I sat down and hammered out my training plan for the next 23 weeks.  Yes, I realize that’s a ridiculously long training plan, but I have proven time and time again that the second I stop actively training for something I become a lazy sack of shit.  If I don’t have a workout to cross off of a calendar hanging on the refrigerator, I just don’t do it.  Wanna know how many miles I ran in June?  Huh?  Do ya?  13.5.  THIRTEEN AND A HALF!  And until Monday, I had been to the gym ZERO times since before vacation.  It’s time to get back on track.

When I wrote in “St. Jude Half” on December 6th and sat back and looked at the monster that I’d just created, I got nervous.  I ain’t gonna lie.  This is the most challenging plan I’ve ever taken on.  It’s running four days a week, Crossfit two days a week (one day will be a two-a-day with running in the morning and Crossfit after work), and two rest days with the option of doing easy biking on one of those days.

I started the plan on Monday, and so far that’s as far as I’ve gotten.  haha  That was a Crossfit day, and that first workout after six weeks away was PUNISHING.  The weightlifting portion was back squats (3 reps at 80%, 3 reps at 85%, and 3 reps at 90% of max), then the metcon included 3 rounds of 30 wall balls and 3 rounds of 30 GHD situps.

For someone who hasn’t done a single squat or crunch in weeks, my legs and abs are trashed.  I was supposed to have run some easy miles since then, but that requires moving, and I just still really can’t do that yet.  But you know what?  It feels really damn good to hurt like this again!