Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't Mess With the Pug

The good news is Tex is doing incredibly well, of which I am so very grateful. The bad news is with all of the attention on Tex, both Maggie and Tom have been acting out. I've really made an effort to ensure that neither of them feels neglected - constantly resorting to "good dog!" and tummy rubs. Quite frankly it's been exhausting.

Tonight Maggie and Tom got into a battle of wills, which culminated in a food fight. Unfortunately Maggie was on the losing end, as you can see from the photo (in case you're wondering, that's an open faced peanut butter cracker stuck on her back).

I'm pretty confident that in the big scheme of things, this has to amount to some really bad karma. Be afraid Tom.......very afraid.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Different View

My recent knee injury was an eye opening experience, providing me with a very different view of life. For some reason, as soon as people saw the crutches / cane they went into special needs mode.
There was the young soccer mom who stopped me on the street, moved in very close and spoke in a loud voice "good for crossed that street all by yourself!" The people at museums and train stations who charged Tom full price and insisted on giving me the disability discount. The custom agents who whisked me to the front of the line and stamped my passport, without the usual round of questions.
I confess, I found the whole thing to be very disconcerting. Tom on the other hand loved it, and has decided that travelling with a cane is the only way to go.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I have a theory - the true test of a couple is the ability to travel with each other - let's face it, road trips can either make or break a relationship. I actually love travelling with Tom, while we occasionally struggle over the day to day issues of domestic life, we always seem to get our act together when we hit the road.

90% of the time Tom is a street smart, road warrior - the other 10% of the time he seems to channel Chevy Chase - making our life seem more like a "Vacation" movie. Case in point, our recent trip to Germany. I should have known Tom was heading for a CCE (Chevy Chase Episode) - in hindsight all of the signs were a harbinger of things to come. It started in London; he somehow made a local call that ended up costing 18 pounds, and while crossing the street he looked the wrong way and if I hadn't grabbed the back of his jacket, he would have ended up as road kill. At Napoleon's Tomb in Paris he couldn't figure out how to use the automated teller and ended up buying 12 tickets instead of 2. Anyway, you get the general idea of where things were going.

By the time we reached Germany, well, he was in full blown CC mode. It started when we checked into our uber-cool hotel room, in which the bathroom (adjacent to the living room) had glass walls. Have I mentioned that in addition to being a germaphobe, Tom has serious issues with privacy? This post modern configuration just about sent him over the edge and also meant that anytime he wanted to brush his teeth or do his business, I was sent to get ice.

Things really got crazy when I was reading a guidebook, wondering out loud if Salzburg was the home of the Vontrapp family. Instead of hearing "Sound of Music", Tom somehow got the crazy idea that it was my personal dream to visit the "Cinderella" castle. Before I could figure out who was on first, Tom had rented a car, determined to find the perfect German castle.

It didn't take long for us to get lost, which meant we stopped numerous times to ask the locals for directions to the "Cinderella" castle. The problem is, in Germany there are hundreds and hundreds of castles, which resulted in everyone we talked to sending us in a different direction. Did I also mention that in Germany people drive really, really fast?

Driving on the Autobahn was mayhem, and on the way to the Bavarian Alps, we somehow ended up in Austria. I mean, we weren't just lost, we were in the wrong country!

The final straw was when Tom got a ticket for speeding - which in Germany is damn near next to impossible - but as the police officer explained, we were in Austria now.

To make a long story short, what was supposed to be a 3 hour round-trip from Munich took 10 hours, and by the time we made it to the castle (8.00pm) it had been closed for 4 hours. Tom had a look of sheer determination as he drove past the un-manned security gate, on a "pedestrian only" path, up the mountain, towards the castle .

Somehow, we ended up alone, on the front steps of the castle. It's a miracle we didn't get arrested - but it was rather romantic. We kissed on the steps of the Neuschwanstein Castle, and then started the long drive back to Munich.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tex Update

For all of you have been asking for a Tex update:

The night before taking Tex in for surgery we did all of his favourite things; made pancakes, went for a walk, barked at the neighbours cats and read his favourite bedtime story.

In spite of our best efforts, the following morning was seriously out of control.
Like most couples we handle stress very differently – I channel my inner hippie, walking around saying things like “hello sun, wow, I’ve never noticed how beautiful that tree is”, covering both pugs in kisses – Tom turns into a bitchy drill sergeant, ordering the pugs to get with the program, making small kids and old ladies cry. Of course it doesn’t help when I tell Tom to reign in his aura and project positive energy.

By the time we arrived at the vet’s office both dogs were a wreck - Tex was having a nervous breakdown – and Maggie decided to make it her personal mission to traumatize all of the poor dogs coming in for surgery, bluff charging and talking trash.

Just as I was patting myself on the back for being the strong one, the wind beneath our wings, the vet technician pointed out that I had my dress on backwards. Not a pretty sight.

After a day of worry, the vet called to say that due to another emergency (a cat fell out of the 9th floor of a high rise), Tex’s surgery had been bumped to Wednesday.

The good news is he’s home with his family this evening. The bad news is we get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Paris Tips

Tom and I love Paris, one of the world's great cities. Here are a few of our favorite haunts:

Even though the Louvre is a must do, I prefer the Musee
d'Orsay. For a special treat go to the Centre Georges Pompidou for lunch.

Favorite market - Marche d'Aligre
If you're looking for a taste of the real Paris go to Marche d'Aligre. This market dates back to 1643 and appeals to locals from all walks of life. Go early as vendors start closing around noon.

Best haunt for fashionistas - Nina Jacob
One of the few places you can find affordable, local design. Word of warning, Nina's is not for the faint of heart. The first year we went, Nina loved Tom so much that he made her cry. The second time we went, Tom commented that the jacket I was trying on made me look fat. This infuriated Nina, who immediately kicked Tom out of the store. No kidding.

Cool hood - Marais
I love hanging out in Marais. It's one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris and home to many talented artists and designers.

Best local eats - Chartier
An early 20th-century workers canteen that has retained it's atmosphere. Expect to share your table with the locals and get there early as it's always packed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Texie Baby

This is going to be a big week for Tex, as he is having back surgery this Tuesday. Tom and I delayed it for as long as possible, hoping it wouldn't come to this - but after seeing a canine neurologist, we both think it is time. Prayers and good karma would be greatly appreciated.

Pancakes for Maturos

We take our pancakes seriously at the Ryan's house - ensuring that even Tex and Maggie get in on the action. This recipe is for our dear friend Maturos, who is going to school in Australia and suddenly has a craving. It was voted one of the top 10 Martha Stewart recipes of all time, and our little family has been enjoying it for years:

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups of buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle
1 cup fresh blueberries (optional)

1) Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons of melted butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to media lumps.

2) Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Brush griddle with either melted butter or bacon fat.

3) Pour 1/2 cup of batter on griddle and scatter with berries. When pancakes bubble on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Broadening My Horizon

One of the great things about traveling with my guy, is Bulleted Listthat we have very different interests. The end result is each of us experience things we wouldn't normally choose to do (they don't call me the Queen of Museums for nothing), and as an end result we both broaden our horizons.

Case in point, while in London, Tom took me (and his irritating friend Quatchi) to Greenwich:

A view of Tom and Quatchi through the telescope that marks the prime meridian. They are slightly in the Western Hemisphere.

The Prime Meridian - dividing the east and west hemispheres. Note that Quatchi has a leg in both hemispheres. This was very important to Tom.

Nothing like a cold beer to end a perfect day.


For the past week, Tom and I have been in Europe, a 10 day journey that will take us to London, Paris and Munich.

As much as I love it here, I was sort of dreading this trip. The main reason for my hesitation was the fact that I would be in London during the election. It just felt wrong for several reasons - Tom, Tyler and I are all big fans of Obama–not to mention that poor Tex and Maggie have been forced to watch hours and hours of political coverage over the past few months- well, it just seemed wrong that the Ryan’s would be on three separate continents instead of celebrating together.

In hindsight, being in Europe when Obama won was an incredible blessing. It was very moving to see how big this election was for the world – like America, almost all Europeans were dancing in the streets.

In a strange way, it feels like we have all been liberated from the dark cloud of the Bush years. I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a new international consciousness - a return to rational thought, compassion and a kinder, gentler world.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This I Know For Sure

Maybe it’s just me, but this election seems to get stranger and stranger. What I find most troubling is how down and dirty things are getting – especially people who use the name of God, yet display very unchristian like behavior. Sorry folks, but the means do not justify the end.

It’s made me think about my own beliefs and values. This one’s for you Tyler, a list that will hopefully help you separate the freaks from those who actually have something to offer:

  • Fear of hell, fear of retribution and fear of judgement - Faith should be about love, not fear

  • Beware of people who are preaching salvation, talk is cheap, instead look to those who live by example

  • Don’t look for lightning bolts and signs; let the beauty of everyday life be your miracle

  • Question everything and trust your intuition, if it feels wrong, there's a reason

  • Do not be mislead by people who think that God only speaks to them - god speaks to all people - Muslims, Christians, Buddhist, Hindus, Jews, etc.

  • Love is sacred and comes in many shapes and forms.

  • We are not here to exert our dominance over other living creatures. All things are connected and our very survival depends on our ability to protect the natural world.

  • Use your intelligence. Case in point, the amazing theory of evolution, which if anything should make one believe in a higher power.

  • We are not here to judge, the only thing we have control over is our own behaviour.

  • Be humble and cultivate kindness, wisdom, compassion and integrity. Give people the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions.

  • God helps those who help themselves, take responsibility for your actions and happiness.

  • Be wary of those who use God to minimize the role of woman.