The Story of Zig

This is Ziggy.  His full name is Zigfried Albert Phinneus.  He came into our lives during October 2007.  In a moment of incredible love, utter weakness, and perhaps, slight ignorance, Will said to me, “Let’s go to the SPCA.”  (Will has since learned never to say that to me because now he knows it will always result in another animal entering our home).

When we met, Ziggy was known as “Cage 86.”  He had been picked up as a stray, wandering the city with a red nylon collar on, but no tags.  No one had come to claim him at the pound, and so he was put up for adoption.  We took him for a walk, and when we went to put him back in his cage, he simply wouldn’t have it.  Every time I tried to close the door, he ran back to me.  I knew he was mine.

He came home with us.  He was a chubby, filthy little creature.  He couldn’t have been on the mean streets for too long – he had fat to spare.  Little Sausage was his nickname.  And, lord, was he dirty.  A bath, and a visit to the groomers soon remedied that situation, and my little, white, fluffy angel appeared.

As his true outside appearance became visible, so did his rather . . . umm . . . “headstrong” personality (i.e. he’s a bit of a jerk).  He doesn’t show much affection, but on the rare occasion that he gets so excited that he forgets himself, he’ll give me a kiss.

He’s dumb as a doorknob, but clever and cunning when it comes to food.  He has a gargantuan appetite and guts of steel.  He can eat anything.  And he does.  He loves to dig up carrots from the garden, or steal peas off the vine, and come sauntering out proudly, with his prize between his teeth.  He pulls loaves of bread off the kitchen counter and devours them in minutes.  Not even a sealed plastic container can stop The Zig.  He’ll chew through it, leaving a scene of carnage, bits of plastic strewn all over the floor.

The best thing about Zig?  Nothing phases him.  He doesn’t know the meaning of “grudge” or “depression” or even “pain”.  He’s the happiest dog I’ve ever met.  Not the friendliest, but certainly the happiest.  He’s got a bad back and bum hip, which means he’s in pain most of the time.  Regular trips to the chiropractor help somewhat, but it never completely goes away.  But he’s happy nonetheless.  Zig is the best example I know of living in the moment.  And that moment is always complete and perfect unto itself.  Got a treat?  Excellent!  Don’t have a treat?  Still excellent!  Everything is perfect just as it is in Zig’s world.

Sugar and Bread

I’ll start with SUGAR. For the past month, I have cut out refined sugar from my diet.

I’ll admit up front, it wasn’t for health reasons; it was for vanity. Adult acne, to be specific. In my 20s, I thought, “For sure by the time I’m 30, I’ll stop breaking out like a teenager.” Then I found myself at 36 thinking, “For sure by the time I’m 40, I’ll stop breaking out like a teenager.” It is not fun to be battling wrinkles and acne at the same time.

I always suspected that my skin problems were related to my diet, but I honestly didn’t think my diet was that bad. Yes, I have a voracious sweet tooth, but I don’t eat that badly. It’s not like I’m overweight or anything. But I’ve tried so many other things (facial washes, vitamins, supplements, etc.) that I thought perhaps it was time to take a closer look at how what I’m eating might affect my skin.

I made three changes: cut out refined sugar, cut out refined wheat and eat more salmon. I decided that I could still have honey and maple syrup, as they are minimally processed sweeteners (and seriously, how could I keep bees and not eat honey?) But white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, coconut palm sugar, agave, white flour, and anything else highly processed had to go.

I added salmon because I don’t eat a lot of fish, and canned salmon is relatively inexpensive and easy to eat for lunch.

It worked. I noticed a difference after three weeks. It’s been nearly six weeks now, and I haven’t had a single blemish.

The funny part is, when you cut out refined sugar and refined wheat, you’re not left eating a whole lot of processed foods. I’ve always wanted to move to a more “whole foods/real foods” based diet, but it seemed nearly impossible. But just by avoiding these two items, I’ve had no choice but to eat real food.

Which brings me to BREAD. I bought a bread machine from Value Village about a year ago, tried it two or three times, and gave up. The bread wouldn’t rise, or it would rise too much and collapse. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon this recipe that I finally had success using the bread machine. The title “Throw Away the Bread Machine Instructions” is what caught my eye, and it is totally foolproof. Since using this recipe, I’ve never had a failed loaf of bread.

I started making my own bread so that I could control the ingredients. I was really tired of buying a loaf of bread, and scanning the ingredient list and seeing over twenty different additives, when I knew that it only takes five ingredients to make a loaf of bread.

The problem I’ve now run into is gluten. This fabulous recipe mentioned above uses white flour, which is jam packed full of lovely gluten. But I want to cut out refined wheat, and eat more whole foods, which means I’d like to make whole wheat bread. Whole wheat flour has gluten, but it also has the WHOLE wheat berry, not just the endosperm like white flour, so it’s trickier to bake with because it is more dense and has more difficulty rising.

So I bought gluten.


I’m currently fiddling with the recipe. Last week, I tried all whole wheat flour and three tablespoons of gluten. Very dense loaf. Not awful, but not as good as I hoped it would be. Today, I’m trying two cups of whole wheat flour and one cup of white, plus two tablespoons of gluten. Also, substituting honey for the two tablespoons of white sugar. Fingers crossed this works out!

After years of avoiding it, I’ve decided that this will be the winter that I learn to cook. Properly. Now that I have a child to feed, I can’t very well rely on peanut butter toast and an apple for supper (and by peanut butter toast and an apple, I mean popcorn and cookies).

Have a great week!

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch


What is your least favorite personal quality in others? Extra points for sharing your least favorite personal quality in yourself.


My word, I am finding it very hard to write today.  Fair warning:  this blog post is completely uninspired.  Today is one of those days when practicing the craft is a chore than one needs to push through, instead of a pleasurable activity.*

[*Growing up, I took music lessons from the age of 5 to 15.  I practiced constantly, like I would get home from school and play music until supper time, and then play more after supper time.  I bloody loved it.  One day, after taking home first prize in a competition, an adjudicator asked me how much I practiced during a week, and I was stumped.  “Half an hour?”  I replied.  It never occurred to me that I was always practicing.  I just loved playing music.]

My least favourite personal quality in others is arrogance, and boy oh boy, have I encountered arrogance in my line of work.

Arrogance abounds in the theatre, crossing all streams of professions, be it designer, director, or actor.  Mostly, I’ve encountered arrogant actors, male and female.  One actor I worked with was so concerned with himself and his image that he spent 45 minutes in rehearsal one day examining how he should pick up a fork that was lying on a table.  Forty-five minutes on picking up a bloody fork!  Plus, he insisted on talking soto vocce during other actors’ scenes, when he was supposed to be acting silently in the background.

Another actor I worked with forgot all her lines in Act One during a preview (yes, ALL HER LINES!), leaving the rest of us to scramble as she improvised her way through, and instead of apologizing for it, used it as an excuse to get her own private dressing room.

This is Canadian regional theatre; it’s not like we’re working on Broadway or the West End.  At first I was shocked, now I just shake my head and laugh.  Who do you think you are?  We work in CANADIAN REGIONAL THEATRE.  We’re ALL small potatoes.

For extra points, my least favourite personal quality in myself is my eagerness to please people and have them like me.  I have no backbone.  I hate confrontation.  I’m a terrible leader because I don’t want to piss anyone off.  I’m a total chicken shit.  I am a negative person by nature, and I view the world as a dark place, glass half empty.

(I’m much better at pointing out my inadequacies than I am at finding my strengths)