Day One of a Plant-Based Diet

Today’s the first day of eating nothing but plant-based food for thirty days. I’ve been a vegetarian for about eight years, and then turned to veganism not too long ago. So although I eat a lot of fruit and veggies, I am sure that I indulged way too much in my favorite vegan junk food. I’m looking straight at you Beyond Meat! Though I’d always tried to balance the amount of processed foods I ate with more healthy foods, I no doubt overdid it with the delicious brands of vegan ice creams, vegan pizzas, vegan burgers, vegan sausages, vegan corndogs, vegan chicken nuggets, vegan….I think you get the idea. 

In 2006, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. The first seven years were pretty hard, but the last eight years have been quite bearable, without any serious flareups, until recently. I believe food is the medicine that could keep our bodies in optimal health. I’m hoping the negative effects I’m feeling from my disease will motivate me to stay on course and eat strictly a plant-based diet. I didn’t weigh myself before I started. This is more about feeling better than losing weight, but yeah, I’m hoping for that one too. 

I have a pre-planned list of recipes I jotted down from a plant-based cookbook written by Dr. John McDougall, The  McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook, I have that should cover me for a couple weeks. The fridge is stocked with all the healthy deliciousness of natural and unprocessed foods.  The key is staying organized and having a meal plan. 

Today’s meal was a simple carrot, celery, kale, and noodle soup, and black bean sloppy joes over roasted potatoes.

One day down. Twenty-nine to go. Easy peasy. 

Rogue Gets Adopted!

There’s nothing better for an animal shelter volunteer than seeing a long-term resident find his/her furever home. A loud and chaotic shelter is no place to call home, though it is better than the streets. The dogs get warmth from the cold, daily meals, and medical attention. Still, there’s nothing like having a family to take you in and love you as their own.

This past weekend, Rogue, a pit bull mix who’d been at the shelter for over six months, finally got his chance to know what it means to be a member of a family. It’s fitting that Rogue’s new name is Chance because he’s getting the chance not all homeless pets get, especially pit bulls. That’s what makes this adoption extra special.

Pit bulls are the most likely dogs to be killed in shelters because of the unfair and discriminatory stigma placed against them. But Rogue, as well as my pit bull baby, Phil, are loving and loyal dogs who deserve to be saved, too.

Whenever a dog that I spent extra time with at the shelter gets adopted, I move on to another one, because there is always another dog in a kennel, waiting for a home.

Will there ever come a time when a homeless dog will be adopted and he/she will be the last one? And that all the other kennels in the country will be empty? Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but maybe not as much as you may think.

According to Statista.com, over 63 million households in the U.S own at least one dog. That more than covers the approximately 6.5 million companion animals that, per ASPCA, enter U.S animal shelters every year. The more people who choose to adopt over breeders and pet stores, the less animals would be killed. It’s an easy concept to understand, yet so many people still don’t get it.

In the meantime, the lucky ones like Rogue will enjoy their new lives and their second chance at life.

Author, Chris Pavesic, Visits my Blog

Please welcome author, Chris Pavesic, to my blog. She is sharing a Butternut Squash soup recipe that can easily be veganized with plant-based butter and vegetable broth if, like me, vegan is your thing.  Chris is also talking about her books, Starter Zone and Traveler’s Zone. 

from Chris Pavesic  My sister-in-law Breen loves to cook and occasionally works her magic in my kitchen. Just the other day she prepared one of our family favorites. We thoroughly enjoy a bowl or two during winter as lunch or dinner. For me the pepitas make this dish a hit. I love scooping them out one at a time with a spoonful of soup! Roasted Butternut Squash Soup 4 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-in. cubes 2 tbsp. olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 2 tbsp. unsalted butter 1 onion, roughly chopped 8 cups chicken broth 1 tsp. dried thyme Pepitas (Shelled pumpkin seeds) Preheat oven to 400° F. Place squash on baking sheets; avoid overcrowding.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt the butter.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Pour in the chicken broth and add thyme.  Bring to a boil. Remove the squash from the oven and add to the broth.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Using a regular or immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Serve warm.  Top with pepitas if desired. Why not read a good book while you enjoy your soup? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles?  In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure. In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world. Time to play the game. Traveler's ZoneAbove the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults. What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion. The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings. A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun. The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock. The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late. The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all. But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

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Starter Zone

Traveler’s Zone

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. Learn more about Chris on her website and blog. Stay connected on FacebookTwitter, and her Amazon Author Page.    

Ricky Finds a Home

Last July my dog, Phil, suffered from liver failure. The situation was touch and go for a horrible two weeks. But, against the vet’s grave prognosis, my baby survived. He’s twelve, and though I know he won’t live forever, I was completely unprepared for losing my dog. My baby. My sidekick. The face that makes me smile even when I want to cry. The eyes that watch my every move, because his world revolves around me as much as my world revolves around him, maybe even more so. 

During that miserable time of not knowing whether or not Phil would turn that miraculous corner to recovery, I was consumed with the idea of losing him. I didn’t eat. I cried when I held him and buried my tears in his fur. He seemed to know his precarious situation, but never gave up.  I love him so much for that. 

But all through that time and after, I only considered my loss of losing him. What I would have done. What my life would be like, while never considering his loss should something happen to me. I know he waits for me when I leave the house, as all dogs do, but how would they feel, how would they react, if we never make it back home to them? 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since last month, when a neighbor passed away suddenly. She had a dog, Ricky. We used to walk our dogs together, along with another neighbor and her little dog. The woman’s parents could not take Ricky, he didn’t get along with their own dog. This woman had no brothers or sisters. They didn’t know a lot of people who could, or would, take Ricky in. He went with a family friend, but that didn’t work out. 

I volunteer at a shelter. I’ve seen many dogs come to the shelter in the way of Ricky’s predicament. Through no fault of their own, they lose their owners to death, and there is no one to take them in. So these dogs, used to living in a home filled with stability, love, security, now come to a shelter filled with loud chaos and uncertainty. Even the best shelters are a scary place to a dog who has only known a house as a home. 

Luckily, Ricky didn’t have to meet that fate. My neighbor with the small dog took him in. She had the intention of keeping him, but two dogs were a bit too much for her. But she was determined to keep him until she could find a home for him, which wasn’t hard at all because Ricky is adorable. 

Last week, Ricky went to his third home in less than a month. This was a friend of a friend, so my neighbor passed Ricky off confident he would be well-taken care of. I often wondered for those weeks that my neighbor had him what he was thinking. Did he think his mommy would come for him soon? Was he waiting for her? Did he miss his home and wonder why he was moving to different places? We avoided walking Ricky down the street he used to live. We didn’t want to confuse him.  

But then on the day he was leaving, I took Ricky for a walk and thought maybe it was the right time for him to say goodbye to his old home. We walked down his street. He definitely knew where he was. He lead me straight to the familiar place, sat down in the driveway, and stared at the house. He didn’t try to pull me to the door, which I was glad for.

Ricky’s mom’s name was Tracy. She didn’t die at home, but if spirits find their way back home no matter where we pass, maybe she was there to see him one last time.

I hope so.

I thought about Phil, remembering what I went through when I thought I was losing him, but we need to consider what our furbabies go through when they lose us. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about Phil going to a shelter or being shuffled to three different houses. He has an uncle and aunties who love him, and who he loves, especially his uncle.

Uncle is his favorite. 

Phil and uncle

Going Vegan

I’ve been a vegetarian for over seven years, a change in my eating habit that was fairly easy to make. Especially since the last seven years have brought many new meatless products so good they make giving up the real thing feel like you’re not giving up anything at all. But making the change to go completely vegan was more of a struggle for me.

For a long time I thought it was good enough that I ate “mostly” vegan and that the cheese pizza or grilled cheese I occasionally ate wasn’t incredibly harmful because I wasn’t eating meat. What a ridiculous thought.

Even though I’ve watched pretty much every vegan documentary available, Forks Over Knives, What the Health, The Game ChangersCowspiracy, and a few others, it wasn’t until I watched Earthlings that everything changed. I could no longer make what I thought were harmless exceptions to my diet. I was going full vegan, and I was going all the way. I bought a vegan leather jacket, as well as vegan leather handbags, and cleared my closet of anything that was a result of animal cruelty. I was thankful that my favorite pairs of Converse Cons were vegan. 

Going vegan, you are consciously deciding to no longer take part in the torture of the living beings, brutally slaughtered to end up on someone’s plate. 

Eating a compassionate diet, a diet not comprised of the suffering of any life, has helped me to find my inner calmness, even during these unstable times of a deadly global virus and thousands of domestic terrorists trying to overtake the U.S government.

As I watch these disturbing and violent clips, I turn to veganism and the vegan community to remind me that there are people who empathize with the pain and suffering of others, and are activists in trying to stop it. We need a world filled with more people like that. 

If you’re interested in giving veganism a try, since 2014 there has been a non-profit organization that encourages people to go vegan called Veganuary where people pledge to go vegan for January and longer. Veganuary | Home | The Go Vegan 31 Day Challenge

The Year We Never Saw Coming

As we wind down another year, a year I’m sure no one was anticipating when they clinked champagne glasses at the countdown to midnight, ringing in the year 2020. Celebrations erupted. It was 2020! The start of a new decade. 

There’s so much to be excited for when a new year begins. We wipe the slate clean from the previous year.  Tell ourselves we’ll do better. Right our mistakes. Change our ways, if that’s what’s needed.  The resolutions begin, and we jump into January ready to take on the new year with so much promise, so much hope.

And then Covid stops us in our tracks and changes everything. 

I thought I rang in the New Year in such a lame way. I was sick as hell. Spent the night on the couch, barely staying awake to watch the ball drop. Turns out,  being sick was the most accurate way to start the year that would be 2020.

I think about those whose lives were taken by Covid-19. What their New Year resolutions were? Did they have expectations or goals for 2020? A new job? A promotion? Getting pregnant? Becoming engaged? Getting married? Maybe someone had become a grandparent for the first time, and 2020 was going to be all about loving that new child and building memories with him/her. 

As I write this, the U.S confirmed death toll is 302,141 people. Those three hundred thousand people can no longer build memories with their loved ones, they have now become memories to their loved ones. 

No one can know for sure if those people wouldn’t have died of other reasons in 2020, but Covid made sure that they did. The horrific fact is, the dying is reportedly not even close to ending. The casualty predictions are dire. Vaccines have been approved, but many thousands will die before the vaccine becomes available to them. 

Two weeks ago, I recovered from my case of Covid-19. I was ashamed that I got it because it made me feel irresponsible when I thought I was being cautious. I’m not an anti-masker. I avoided large gatherings. But I still got it, and I can only hope I didn’t spread it to anyone else. My case was very mild. I’m lucky and grateful for that.  

As this disastrous year comes to an end, I hope for a new year of recovery, healing, and as much peace as we can achieve. 

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Photo courtesy of Scrolldroll.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is going to be a strange Thanksgiving for a lot of people. For those of us who have decided to spend this day of thanks apart from the very people we are most thankful for, I know it’s hard, but hang in there. This is all temporary and soon we will again be joining our friends and family at the dinner table, sharing good food, good conversation, and lasting memories. 

The key is to live to see another day. Survive until we have a vaccine. I write those words as I am in day 13 of having Covid. I was one of the lucky ones who suffered only mild symptoms, and during this time I’ve been thinking about all of those who lost their lives to this virus. Why do some survive while others don’t? I wish that weren’t so. 

So although this Thanksgiving I’m not with all of my family, I do have much to be thankful for. I’m still here.

Since I didn’t get to shop for my usual Thanksgiving favorites, I will celebrate and give thanks this holiday as I tear into a delicious vegan pizza. Because why not choose cruelty free when you can?

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. Stay safe. 

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I Can’t Wait Till You’re Gone, Donald Trump

It’s been eight days since the U.S presidential election has been called for Joe Biden, and Donald Trump has yet to concede. Though the election hasn’t been certified, the norm is that the losing nominee concedes so that the winner can begin the transition into their future presidency. 

A lot is at stake during the transfer of power between presidential administrations, mostly in the national security of this country. A president-elect has to be prepared to keep the country safe during the transition, and in order to do that, he needs to know all of our threats. He needs to be privy to all classified information. He needs to see the daily presidential briefs, something Donald Trump is blocking Joe Biden by not conceding. 

Regardless of whether Trump concedes or not, Joe Biden will take the presidential oath on January 20, 2021, and become the country’s 46th president. Say what you want about Hillary Clinton. I know she was a flawed candidate, but she conceded the day after the 2016 election. She lost to a smaller margin of votes in the key states, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, than Trump lost to Biden, yet, she didn’t sue the states. Plus, she won the popular vote by over 3 million votes, yet she still conceded immediately. 

Yet, here we are. Donald Trump won’t concede because he claims to have won the election, but widespread election and voter fraud stole it from him. He has no real proof. His legal team is losing in court, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from losing his mind on Twitter and tweeting how he has won the election by a lot. 

I thought the liberals were supposed to be the cry-baby snowflakes? Donald Trump is the biggest baby. He didn’t get the name Toddler-in-Chief for nothing. He earned that title. 

This past Saturday, Trump supporters went to D.C for a Stop the Steal march, even though nothing was stolen from Trump. You have to own something before it can be stolen from you, and Donald Trump never owned this election, he never won it. 

Still, tens of thousands of people showed up flaunting their Trump merch–hats, T-shirts, shorts, flags, and banners.  But no matter how many Trump flags they wave, Trump still lost the election. That won’t change. Ever. 

His followers stood out there waving their Trump flags, while Trump played golf. He is literally on the golf course as the tense partisan divide in the country mirrors that of the Civil War, all the while a deadly out-of-control pandemic looms in the background, and Donald Trump is doing nothing about it. Except golfs. That’s what he does. 

 Donald Trump is a useless POS.  The sooner he’s gone, the sooner we can bring some kind of normalcy and decorum back to the office of the presidency. He’s been an embarrassment for far too long. The only reason he wants to win so bad is because he knows the legal battles that await him the moment he is no longer the president of the United States.

I think Donald Trump will find his legal troubles are a lot harder to fight without the Office of Legal Counsel’s protection of “you can’t indict a sitting president” shielding him in court.  As a private citizen, I hope Donald Trump will finally be held accountable for all the laws he has broken.

I think we will soon find out why he never did release those tax returns. 

I can’t wait till you’re gone, Donald Trump. And I know I’m not the only one. 

Below is my favorite parody video made about Trump and all his cronies. God, I hope this comes true. 

Rogue, A Shelter Dog

I volunteer at an animal shelter, so I’m obviously a big advocate for adopting over shopping for a pet. There are millions of loving animals who need homes. And since I have a pit bull mix who is the sweetest hunk of love you’ll ever meet, I, of course, advocate for pit bulls. 

Don’t believe everything you read or hear about this misunderstood and misrepresented breed of dog. Pit bulls make wonderful companion dogs. They love their humans and are very protective of them. They’re goofy. Love to cuddle while licking your face off. You’ll never be lonely because they follow you everywhere you go. 

There’s a pit bull mix at the shelter who I’ve been spending some extra time with. He’s going to be a great dog for the person who decides to take him home. I’ve been working on commands with him, though he gets impatient after a while because when he’s in the play yards, he’d rather play. His name’s Rogue. He’s young and has a lot of energy to exert.

We go on walks. He’s a great walking partner, although recently he got spooked by some Halloween decorations. It was quite funny. We were walking along the sidewalk and then he just came to a dead stop. I didn’t at first know why he had stopped. I looked down at him, and he was staring at something behind me.

On the front lawn of a house were huge blown-up Halloween decorations. One was of a Frankenstein-like monster and the other was of a huge black cat with a moving head. I’m pretty sure this was the one that stopped Rogue in his tracks. The cat was in attack position. 

Rogue wouldn’t budge when I tried to tug him forward. But I couldn’t blame him. If I were a dog who didn’t know what the heck Halloween decorations were, I’d be terrified too of something that looked like a giant cat. So we walked across the street and continued on with our walk.

Rogue was happy because we didn’t see anymore scary Halloween decorations. 

If you’re looking for a pet, please consider visiting your local animal shelter. And while you’re there, please don’t pass up a dog just because it’s labeled a pit bull.

The Spooky Month

Fall is my favorite season. October, my favorite month. And Halloween, my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving being a very close second). It’s not because of the candy. I don’t eat much candy anymore. It’s not even because of the costumes. I don’t dress up much anymore.

After a summer season of sweating beneath a blistering hot sun, I’m always ready for the crisp, cool weather and falling leaves that Autumn brings.

I like the month that starts the cold and gloomy season, that darkens the days at early hours and makes a person want to be inside more than outside. Lives calm down. The hustle and bustle of summer settles. The long sunshine days dissolve into short shadowy days.

The season is a reflective time. October is my January 1. My brand new start. My time to finish the story, or stories, that’s been living inside my head for too long. My time to look back on the year and decide if I’m where I want to be.

At no other time during the year am I most inspired to write than now. I can be my naturally-inclined hermit self without the weighing guilt of wasting away a sunny day. The story I’ve mostly wanted to write during this time is, of course, a scary, horror one.

I started to write a ghost story almost twenty years ago, but I didn’t finish it. I still have it, and I intend to take a long hard look at it at some point, but other stories needing my attention always seem to come first. I’ll get to it, eventually.

This month, naturally, puts me in the mood to write spooky. October is all about the spook. I watch scary movies. I read scary stories. I decorate my house, inside and out, with scary decorations. All of this because I like the scary season, yet I’ve never completed one single scary story.