June 27, 2017

Lately around the house (Fuji x100t)

I played around with my neglected Fujix100t and took it for a spin around the house starting from several weeks ago right up until Yangkyu's birthday. 

I used to love taking pictures of random daily moments. Trying to find that joy again. 

Lately around our house.

June 25, 2017

Exhausted & Guilty

Around noon today, Bartles had been circling nonstop for about 40 minutes. He has been doing this  at certain times of the day and we have no idea why -- perhaps Cushing's, perhaps UTI, perhaps dementia, we just don't know. 

I was next to him the entire time, helping him up, supporting his weak hind legs and encouraging him to at least circle while standing up. I crouch down, my hands on his hips, and he walks in circles and I follow in circles, and he falls. By the 10th time, it's tiring.

But still, I persist and continue to work with him. Part of me wonders if he needs to poop or pee and I wanted to be there to catch it so he wouldn't have a messy accident. But after 40 minutes of helping him up every 10 steps, I put him on the floor where we have wee wee pads laid out so that we can both rest. Then I go to check on the bone broth I had been simmering for about 4.5 hours and fish out bones and skin to put in a second pot to make another batch. 

I heard him crying and circling the entire time. After about 20 minutes, I went to check on him and I found him covered him poop and diaper drenched with urine. He was circling over his poop, which had covered his entire body, legs and paws. The wee wee pads were all over the place and the poop mess was on the blanket we had laid out underneath the pads. 

These types of accidents isn't new, hence the reason why I always want to be next to him when he starts to move so that we can prevent them. 

I kicked myself for leaving him today. But I was with him for 40 minutes... 40 minutes! 

When I found him, I just sort of sat there looking at the mess, not being able to pull the strength to clean it up. I was just too tired. It has been several days and nights of him just circling and crying and getting up in the middle of the night - sometimes every hour. It's been changing diapers because he leaks uncontrollably now to the point that I can't tell if he peed or leaked. I don't get enough sleep, shower properly or eat on time. 

After bathing him, I took him out of the bath and began to dry him. The entire time in the bath tub he was thrashing around, wanting to circle but couldn't because it was too narrow. When I wrapped him in towels, he had finally calmed down, and I broke down crying. 

I was tired... and he had pooped all over Piri's blanket... and that thought.. that passing thought made me feel so guilty. 

When Bartles has his bad moments, I feel terrible for him but I realize something about myself. I realize that my heart hurts double - for Bartles and for Piri. I am reminded more of Piri when things get a little hard with Bartles.

Please don't get me wrong. I love Bartles and I care for him deeply, but I think extreme stressful situations make me long for Piri more. 

I see other dog owners who adopted puppies after their sick dogs crossed over the rainbow bridge. All their pictures and stories are happy ones. They sometimes post a picture of their former dog and they say they are guilty for being so happy even though their companion is gone. 

It's not like that for me. And sometimes I feel terrible for it. 

But, is what I'm feeling normal? Or am I just really messed up? 

Someone asked me though, after hearing about all my troubles with Bartles, "Would you still adopt a senior dog?" 

Yes. Most definitely yes. Perhaps our wallets may need a break from adopting senior dogs with medical issues, but most definitely a senior dog. 

Yangkyu also asked me today, "Are you ok with things the way they are now?" I said yes, "Bartles may only have a few more years to live, but me, knock on wood, I still have such a long road to go. So when I look at it that way, it's ok. I will always have the opportunity to go out and enjoy things I can't now. But for Bartles, his time is limited, and someone has to be there for him." 

And these types of thoughts, after a long day, is what calms me and brings me back to focus.

Bone Broth for Dogs (and a little something for humans too)

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a video by Dr. Karen Becker on how she makes bone broth for her dog. I meant to make some for Bartles and just got around to doing it today. I wasn't planning on making a blog post out of it but I recently had my computer reformatted (because it was slower than a turtle) and upgraded to Photoshop CC 2017 (wha? is this newness!) and added a few new photo filters from VSCO. The point being that I have found joy in taking pictures and editing them again and while I am exhausted beyond measure (I'll share in another post), I took lots of pictures of our day in making bone broth for Mr. B and our guest pups, Spootie and Clover (we always ask permission first when feeding things to our guest dogs - some dogs are on a strict diet or have allergies and can't have anything other than what they are currently eating, while others welcome us to give their dog what we make). 

The video from Dr. Karen Becker is here and for anyone who is interested in making bone broth for your dog, I highly recommend sitting through the video and listen to her give a full explanation on making it. 

We bought a 5.5 pound whole chicken from Giant. We normally get meat and vegetables for our dogs (and sometimes us, although not all the time) from Whole Foods, but we were pressed for time and so Yangkyu went over to a grocery store near our home. 

I had taken it out of its packaging and washed it under running water and realized afterwards that the stock pot was too far away for me to put it in. I am not too keen on raw chicken juice dripping all over my countertops. I also have never handled a 5.5 pound whole chicken before and while I was contemplating how to transfer this chicken to the stock pot without getting chicken juice all over, I was slowly but surely beginning to realize the uncomfortable feeling of raw whole chicken in my hands. I promptly gave a shriek and asked Yangkyu to hurry over to bring the stock pot near me before I dropped the chicken in the sink. While I was freaking out, I somehow managed to thank the chicken for playing a part in helping Bartles feel better and give him a nutritious meal. Some of our animal friends make those kinds of sacrifices for our other animal friends.

To make our bone broth, we filled our stock pot with 1 gallon of water and a teaspoon of Bragg's apple cider vinegar. If you listen to the video by Dr. Karen Becker, you'll see that vinegar plays a role in extracting all the good nutrients from the bones. That is really the goal in making these broths -- so that dogs will get the health benefit and have something tasty as well. 

We put ours on medium heat for about 4.5 hours, stirring it a few times, and the meat eventually start ed to fall off the bones. At about 4.5 hours the meat was completely off the bone (by itself while I was stirring and not me pulling it off). 

From here, I carefully spooned out all, and I mean ALL, the small and big pieces of bone and skin into another pot to make a second bath of broth. I really spent time (a good 20 minutes) fishing the bones out because it takes time to get all the pieces out. Dogs should never be fed cooked bone as it is harmful to them. So please please please, make sure you take careful time doing this. Even when you are ready to feed them, just do a double check. It is certainly better to be safe than sorry. 

I saved the stock pot with the cooked meat and broth to feed to Bartles, Spootie and Clover for dinner and also took some out for Yangkyu and I to eat. 

I filled the new pot with all the bones and skin with 12 cups of water and again a teaspoon of Bragg's apple cider vinegar (it's usually 1 teaspoon of vinegar per 1 gallon of water, but I just improvised) and it is currently simmering on low heat as I write this blog post. I will likely cook it for 24 hours. Once that is done, I will again carefully fish out any remaining bones and fragments and save the bone broth to give to Bartles as part of his healthy diet. 

As for us -- I added some vegetables (onions, carrots, cabbages, kale) with some salt and pepper and garlic and cooked it on low for another 40 minutes. I haven't had a chance to eat it yet, but Yangkyu did and I seriously heard happy grunts as he gobbled it down. Yay. So a great way to get a healthy meal for dogs and humans using one whole chicken. 

 // Stock pot on the bottom left is the cooked meat with the first batch of bone broth. Pot on the bottom right is the new broth in the making with all the bones and skin fished out of the first stock pot. Top right pot is cooked meat and broth with added vegetables, salt, pepper and garlic for human consumption. // 

Happy eating everyone! 

June 21, 2017

Travel Korea - Jeju Island, Day 3

On the third and final day in Jeju we found ourselves again waking up again at 5 am. We decided to kill time by doing our laundry at a nearby coin laundromat and grabbing breakfast at GS25, those convenience stores me and Yangkyu obsessed over the entire time we were in Korea. We had instant ramen because why not?? (and can I tell you? They have GS25 brand and flavors not sold here in the US!)

By 10 am we had washed up, semi tidied our room - dirty towels in one corner on the floor in the bathroom, empty bottles rinsed and stacked near the kitchen sink, bed unmade but sheets on top of the bed instead of half falling off or entirely on the floor (do you do this? We know the room gets cleaned but we hate leaving it in an unruly manner) and packed our car to hit a couple more sightseeing spots before heading back to Jeju City for our flight back to Seoul. 

On day 2 we were at Cheon Ji Yeon waterfall, and day 3 we decided to go to Jeongbang waterfall right in Seogwipo City, which was a blue beyond blue and so breathtaking to view.

Jeongbang waterfall is a popular tourist spot and while there was a crowd when we got there, Yangkyu and I were still thanking our lucky stars that it wasn't overly crowded - something we did not take for granted the entire time we were on Jeju Island.

There is a legend where Seogwipo is said to have gotten its name from this waterball. Emperor Jin of China (259 BC - 210 BC) sent his servant, Seobul, to find magical herbs on Mount Halla (Hallasan), which promised eternal youth. Seobul failed to find this herb but came across Jeongbang Falls where he left his mark on the stone, "Seobul Gwaji (which means "Seobul was here). While that writing is not there for tourists to see, there is another inscription on the wall that says, "Seobulgwacha."

I love these kinds of legends, stories and folklore. It is one of the best parts about traveling.

After Jeongbang waterfall, Yangkyu and I decided to head back toward Jeju City and stop at a place that Yangkyu thought I would enjoy. We had originally planned on going to Sung San Ilchoongbong, but we were afraid that we would not have enough time and decided (regretfully) to pass on it this time around (if we are ever back in Jeju Island, we will definitely be making the hike up).

We arrived at a place called Seongeup Folk Village which was very similar to Jeju Folk Village, which we went to on day 1 of our trip. The biggest difference was that real residents actually live in here.

With the help of government assistance, this whole village has been preserved and renovated to meet the needs of residents while keeping to the traditional rock-walled, thatched roof architecture of homes. Some modernized additions to the village include souvenir shops, restaurants and parking lots but for the most part the village sticks to what it would have looked like many years ago.

The village itself is surrounded by a fortress wall. You are free to walk around and view on your own. There are some houses which are for exhibition purposes only. When we were there, there were a number of school children who came with a guided tour. I also noticed some reviews of other tourists who visited Seongeup Village who weren't all that impressed. We enjoyed the leisurely time and appreciated the authenticity, and also the food.

Yangkyu and I decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants in Seongeup Folk Village. We had an amazing meal of mackerel along with fresh side dishes of various wild greens found up on the mountains. It was comfort food at its best and very Jeju-isque (making up words here because I can't find existing words to describe how pleasant dining here was - very country just doesn't cut it).

When we were there, we noticed that this restaurant mostly had business by partnering with tour companies. They hosted one large parties at a time and we were the only ones who came on our own. While the owners (husband and wife who cooked and served - no other workers present) were busy entertaining the large number people in the tour groups (we witnessed two while we ate), they were still attentive to us, making sure we had enough side dishes and asking us if the food was to our liking. They also sold dried wild greens for people who wanted to take it home to make side dishes on their own.

I also eavesdropped on an interesting tidbit. People of Jeju Island put dwenjang (or fermented bean paste) in everything to add flavor. This is because when MSG was popular in mainland Korea after the war in the 60s, it was hard to ship it over to Jeju at the time. And so, people relied on bean paste instead. It probably worked out better for them in the end, as MSG is incredibly bad for your health, and fermented bean paste is natural and healthy. We noticed in our seaweed soup there was fermented bean curd in it (I normally don't make mine with fermented bean curd).

After lunch, we strolled around a bit more and began to look back on all the sights and places we saw on Jeju Island. We didn't want to go back but our time was nearing to head back to Jeju City.

Before leaving, we did end up making a new friend (here he is again). A cute white dog (Yangkyu said Piri sent him us to us as well). I spent a good 20 minutes hanging out with him.

At first when we spotted him, there was a bunch of school kids that came and overwhelmed the poor dog. The kids were excited to see him and so they were all up in his face, screaming, saying hi, asking for his paw. It was so very frustrating and sad to see. The adults didn't discourage them or teach them the proper way to greet a dog even though the dog was cowering - his tail between his legs, ears down, hiding inside his dog house (which the kids kept hitting and pounding for him to come out) and even growled at one point. The growling didn't phase the kids and they kept at it. It got to the point where I yelled in English, "You're scaring him. Stop! Just stop!" I tried to speak as much Korean while I was there but found that when I'm in a state of exasperation or couldn't find words easily, my English just came out naturally.

After they heard me, some adults slowly began to take the kids away and distracted them so they can be lured away from the dog. One of the children was a special needs child and the adults needed more creative ways to get him to stop hitting the dog house and throwing sticks and rocks at it and trying to grab his ears and tail (they weren't putting all that much effort until I showed my frustration). After they had all gone, with two kids remaining, I approached the dog at his level and gave him my hand to sniff. Oh, he was such a good and happy dog. He came to me with his ear perked up, tail wagging and he sniffed and licked my hand the entire time we were together. I gave him lots of ear and neck scratches and I didn't want to leave (I always get like this... I wanted to bring him home).

He is a country dog and lives outside in his dog house and he smelled of urine. I don't doubt that his owner (who I saw later - he was an elderly gentleman) took good care of him, but I just wished he was more proactive about kids overwhelming him. I imagine that happens on a regular basis every time school kids come on a tour.

Unfortunately after this incident, we had another experience that didn't make us feel very good. We had arrived in Jeju City with a little bit more time to kill before heading to the airport and so we decided to go see a place where you can make rings. But before getting there we ended up seeing a dog cafe. I read about dog cafes before leaving for Korea and decided that we wouldn't go there because there was a lot of talk about resident cafe dogs being mistreated and not well taken care of. These were testimonies from former people who used to work there asking people not to patronize the cafes if they cared about dogs at all. I didn't want to pay and support this type of business and so we had agreed on not going, but we happened upon on in Jeju City and curiosity got the best of me, but I regretted going literally the moment I stepped inside.

This particular dog cafe sold dogs that didn't even look older than 12 weeks. If that wasn't shocking enough, a lady inside the cafe told me that I should adopt one of the dogs. She had adopted from this cafe. I was so puzzled and confused but told her that I am not from here but I have a dog at home that I adopted - a senior dog. She kind of didn't understand me and nodded and said, "Oh I see." We left as soon as we got there.

These dogs that didn't even look old enough to be separated from their litter were being sold. I didn't understand how she could ask me to adopt them. Later Yangkyu's brother explained to us that the concept of adoption is varied in Korea. While there is a strong movement in Korea to educate people in adopting dogs rescued from horrific situations, some people think that buying a dog is adopting as well because they are giving a home to a dog that doesn't have a home. Back in Seoul, we continued to not patronize dog cafes but did happen upon a cat cafe. We'll talk more about that in a later post.

Our flight back to Seoul was a peaceful one. We arrived at night and spent time with Yangkyu's brother family recalling all our experiences. They were not only helpful in planning our trips for us but also eager to hear all about our trip and wanted to see all the pictures we took. It was fun to not only sightsee but also share our thoughts with someone who were all ears and curious to see our take on things (aka  - a foreigner's take).

We are back in Seoul now. Our next post will be about palaces and traditional villages right in the heart of the city.

I hope you'll come back for that story.

Thanks for reading.
 // Travel Korea : Jeju Island, Day 2

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