Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Book ~ "The Accidental Veterinarian: Tales from a Pet Practice" (2019) Philipp Schott

From Goodreads ~ With insight and humor, Dr. Philipp Schott shares tales from the unlikely path he took into his career of veterinary science and anecdotes from his successful small-animal clinic. Dr. Schott brings to his writing the benefit of many years of expertise. Wisdom he imparts on readers includes the best way to give your cat a pill, how to prevent your very handy dog from opening a fridge, and how to handle your fish when it has half-swallowed another.

Through these and other experiences, Dr. Schott also learned that veterinary medicine is as much, if not more, about the people as it is the animals. And he will have you laughing and crying as you embark on this journey of discovery with him. 

I like reading books about animals and that's why this one caught my eye.

Dr. Schott is a veterinarian in Winnipeg, MB.  He has advanced training in diagnostic ultrasound and for the last fifteen years has had the largest ultrasound referral practice in Manitoba.  His other special interests in practice are cardiology, oncology and internal medicine. He has also been the chair of the provincial Peer Review Committee (professional discipline) for a number of years.  Dr. Schott was named Manitoba Veterinarian of the Year in 2009 and was presented the Award of Merit by the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association in 2015.

After reading all his qualifications, you would think that the writing in this book would be stilted and super professional.  Actually it was quite the opposite ... I enjoyed his writing style as it was amusing and casual.  As a head's up, there are a couple swear words (rhymes with "it").  When he did get technical (like discussing urine or diarrhea, for example), he gave a head's up and tried to make it as interesting and fun as possible.

The chapters are:
  1. The making of a veterinarian
  2. The art of veterinary medicine
  3. The science of veterinary medicine
  4. Peculiar tales from veterinary practice

The book tells of his family moving to Canada from Germany when he was quite young.  He didn't really have pets growing up but that didn't stop his interest in them.  The book is full of stories of his experiences, some sad, most funny, of being a vet and treating cats and dogs and even a duck and a hare.  He also describes the serious side of being a vet .... why people think vet bills are too high, the high rate of suicides among vets, euthanasia of pets, why vets don't call you back right away, etc.  It was entertaining to read the stories about the animals he's helped but it was also interesting to get the scoop on what it's like to be a vet.

Dr. Schott lists one of his interests as brewing beer ... I think he would be a fun guy to sit and have a few beer with.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Book ~ "Alfie The Holiday Cat" (2017) Rachel Wells

From Goodreads ~ Alfie and George just can’t seem to keep out of trouble. So when they hear that their owners have got a new holiday home, they can’t wait to visit it and enjoy some new adventures.

But when they arrive, they don’t find the comfort they’re used to. Crumbling walls, peeling paint, dripping ceilings ... this little Cornish cottage is clearly on its last legs.

Family and friends rally round to try and save the cottage - but it soon becomes clear that the locals don’t want them there at all. It’s up to Alfie and George to make sure their family is welcomed into the village - that’s if they can keep out of the way of the nastiest cat they’ve ever encountered.

Alfie is a doorstep cat who has three families.  He lives with Claire and Jonathan and their children.  Polly, Matt and their children are their neighbours and Franceska and Tomasz and their children are former neighbours.  All three families are very good friends with each other, thanks to Alfie. Claire and Jonathan get a kitten named George and Alfie becomes his adopted father.

Claire inherits a cottage from a great aunt ... she has great memories of spending time there as a child and wants her children and friends to experience the same.  They discover the cottage is now rundown so the three families agree to pitch in money to renovate it and plan on spending holidays there for many years to come.

The wives, the children, Alfie and George spend the summer at the cottage and their husbands visit on the weekends.  As renovations are going on, the families are enjoying being by the water.  The only problem is there is a nasty neighbour next door named Andrea, who has two daughters and a cat named Chanel who are as equally nasty.  George falls in love with Chanel but she won't give him the time of day.  Andrea is determined to buy their cottage and will do anything to drive the families away.  It's up to Alfie to make sure this doesn't happen.

This is the fourth in Alfie series (there are currently five in the series) and I liked it.  Though it's part of a series, it works as a stand alone.  It is written in first person perspective in Alfie's voice.  We can see the conversations he has with other cats.  Plus he understands the conversations of humans around him (rather than "blah blah blah blah blah Alfie blah blah blah).  Though he can't talk back to them in their language, he does try to communicate in cat-talk and expressions.  As a head's up, though the story is about cats, it does have mature themes.

I look forward to reading others in this series.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Hilton Garden Inn Winnipeg South, Winnipeg, MB

I've been in Winnipeg since Tuesday and my home away from home was the Hilton Garden Inn.  Apparently it's been open for about a year or so.

There was a tuck shop in the lobby for snacks

Here was my room ...

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza, Winnipeg, MB (Taylor Avenue)

I had supper this evening at Carbone Coal Fired Pizza.

Pizzas are baked in a coal oven at 850F and take five to seven minutes

Snow Maze, St. Adolphe, MB

I'd heard about the Snow Maze last month and it was something I wanted to do during my time in Winnipeg.

It is in St. Adolphe, about 25 kms south of Winnipeg.  It is a km-long labyrinth of snow and they hope it will officially be recognized as the world's largest snow maze (the record is currently held by the Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, ON).   The walls are hard-packed snow that are nearly two metres tall.


It was cold when I arrived so I bundled up.

Admittance was $12.

And there it is!

Montana's BBQ & Bar, Winnipeg, MB

I had a late lunch today at Montana's on Sterling Lyon Parkway.

I sat in the dining room side

I ordered the Buttermilk Country Chicken Plate.  I'd had this at another Montana's last year and liked it.  This time it wasn't good.  The cornbread was a bit dry. The chicken was overcook and a pretty small piece (especially compared to the picture in the menu).  The mashed potatoes were okay.  The gravy had a funny taste.  I wouldn't recommend you get this meal at this restaurant.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Prairie Ink Restaurant, Winnipeg, MB

I had lunch today at Prairie Ink Restaurant in Grant Park Mall ... it is in McNally Robinson Booksellers.

The desserts looked amazing!

I ordered a Jerk Chicken Burger (minus the lettuce and onions) and my side was a West African Peanut Soup.  I'm not a fan of soup but this one was good.  The Jerk Chicken Burger was really good, though there was lettuce on it which I picked off.  The jerk sauce had a bit of a bite which was nice.  I'd get it again.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Book ~ "Look Alive Twenty-Five" (2018) Janet Evanovich

From Goodreads ~ There's nothing like a good deli and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World famous for its pastrami, cole slaw and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, the only clue in each case is one shoe that's been left behind. 

The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it's a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they'd better figure out what's going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum. 

Stephanie works for her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, and Lulu is a former 'ho who works with her.  As usual, they have a couple people they have to track down who didn't show up for their court date.  In the meantime, Vinnie's boss has ended up with a deli when someone defaulted and Vinnie convinces Stephanie and Lula to run it.  Unfortunately the last three managers have disappeared while taking out the garbage ... all that's left behind is a shoe.  Lula suspects it's aliens that are taking them.

Wulf, a magical character, is somehow involved.  He is a cousin of Diesel, another mystical man who keeps popping in and out of Stephanie's life (I find the Diesel and Wulf storylines dumb).  The Wulf character could have been deleted and the story would have ended the same way.

Stephanie and Joe, the police officer, are still together and seem to be in a committed relationship.  Ranger, her former colleague, is still hot and lusting after Stephanie and she doesn't act very committed to Joe around him, which is tiring.  By now, Stephanie should have picked one or the other ... but why should she when all both seem to want to do is get her into bed (neither takes her out on dates)?  And why does Joe trust Ranger around Stephanie when she can't trust herself?!

This is the 25th in the Stephanie Plum series and I've read them all.  I liked this one better than the last few.  As in previous books, Evanovich continues to follow her formula:
  • Stephanie is lusting after Morelli and Ranger ... check
  • Lulu talks about food all the time and gets offended when someone refers to her weight ... check
  • Stephanie goes home to mooch meals from her parents ... check 
  • Morelli just wants to have sex with Stephanie ... check 
  • Ranger calls Stephanie "Babe" and just wants to have sex with her with no commitment  ... check 
  • Ranger has one of his employees tail Stephanie to keep her out of trouble ... check

Having Stephanie and Lula work in the deli was amusing.  There wasn't a lot of Grandma Mazur or Stephanie's parents in this one which was a nice change.  It's written in first person perspective from Stephanie's point of view.  I thought the ending was pretty convoluted.  There is some swearing and adult situations.

Since it's basically the same story over and over, I stopped buying these books a long time ago and now borrow them from the library.  It's a mindless familiar read.

Best Pizza & Donair, Winnipeg, MB

I had lunch today at Best Pizza & Donair on Pembina Highway.  It's not a fancy place and I'm okay with that.  I was here before in late 2017.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Book ~ "Put Your Hand in My Hand" (2018) Harvey Sawler

From Goodreads ~ "Put Your Hand in My Hand" is the personal, lyrical story of the relationship between one of Canada's most beloved singer-songwriters and his daughter, a talented musical artist. 

Gene MacLellan's contribution to the Canadian songbook is legendary. He penned top-forty hits, including "Snowbird," "Bidin' My Time," and "Put Your Hand in the Hand," and his compositions vaulted the careers of international stars such as Anne Murray. 

In 2004, his daughter Catherine, a Juno award winner, three-time Canadian Folk Award Winner, and two-time ECMA winner, released her debut album to critical acclaim. As the story's principal narrator, along with biographer Harvey Sawler, this memoir paints an intimate portrait of a complex man whose words and melodies left us wanting more than he was able to give, before he took his life in 1995 at the age of fifty-six. Includes song lyrics and a colour insert of family photos.

Gene MacLellan (1938 - 1995) was a Canadian singer-songwriter from Prince Edward Island.  He wrote Snowbird made famous by Anne Murray and Put Your Hand in the Hand made famous by Ocean.  Elvis Presley, Lynn Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Joan Baez and Bing Crosby were among the many artists who recorded MacLellan's songs.  While he enjoyed writing and sing songs, he wasn't crazy about the limelight, preferring house parties.  He committed suicide in 1995.

Catherine MacLellan is a 40ish Canadian folk singer-songwriter, based in Prince Edward Island.  She is Gene's youngest daughter and was just a teen when her father passed away.  In 2017, she made an album of Gene's songs.  This album was tied in with a show she wrote based on her father's life and music.

This book is about Gene and Catherine and how she is remembering her father.  There are interviews with Catherine and her mother, Judith (Gene's widow) plus her father's friends and singing partners.  There are photos of Gene and his family and friends, along with photos of his songs (some which have been published and some which had not) along with parts of his journal in Gene's handwriting.

The book is written at a high level with not a lot of details. Gene's mental health was discussed here and there. It would have been interesting to have touched on what was going on at the time that made him take his life (it seemed like his death was mentioned in passing).

Cafe Neon, Toronto, ON (Wallace)

I had lunch today at Cafe Neon (on Wallace Avenue, west of Lansdowne).

I ordered a Neon Burger (with no onions or lettuce).  I made it a combo by adding fries and a Diet Coke.  I got the burger cooked medium and it was a good burger.  The patty was juicy and flavourful.  I've had it there before and liked it.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Book ~ "Whiskey and Gunpowder" (2018) Liliana Hart

From Goodreads ~ Something old,
Something new,
Something borrowed,
Something ... bedazzled?

In twenty-four hours, Addison Holmes will be a married woman. Maybe.

A week to plan a wedding in the south is not for the fainthearted but Addison (along with the help of her neurotic mother, unreliable sister and unpredictable Aunt Scarlet) are determined to pull it off.

There’s just one problem. Okay ... two problems.

Problem #1: The preacher is missing.

This seems like a bad omen to Addison and all the best investigators she knows are taking part in the pre-wedding festivities (that’s code for drunk).

That leaves one man for the task: FBI Special Agent Matt Savage. But Addison isn’t sure he’s the man for the job. She and Savage have a complicated history and Savage could make the preacher disappear forever if it served his own agenda.

Problem #2: Rosemarie Valentine is in charge of booking the bridal party for a spa day. Enough said.

Addison Holmes is a former high school history teacher who is now a working at her friend, Kate's detective agency.  She and Nick, a police officer, recently got engaged and he wants to get married in a week's time.  So Addison has to solve her outstanding cases so she can take off for a few weeks on her honeymoon in addition to planning her wedding.  Not an easy thing to do but she does have the help of her best friends, Kate and Rosemary, her mother and her great aunt Scarlett.

Some of the cases Addison has outstanding include a wife who suspects her husband is having an affair because he takes their dog for a walk for a couple hours three times a week and is gone for a while and a preacher who has a stalker.

It was a light fun book to read.  It is written in first person perspective from Addison's point of view.  I liked the writing style ... it was amusing.

This is the sixth book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  Though it is the sixth in the Addison Holmes series (I've read them all), it works as a stand alone.  I'm assuming this is the last of the series since everything had a conclusion.  It was a fun series and it's good that the author chose to end it while it was still enjoyable.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Book ~ "Best Seat in the House: My Life in the Jeff Healey Band" (2018) Tom Stephen and Keith Elliot Greenberg

From Goodreads ~ For 15 years, Tom Stephen had the unique distinction of being both drummer and manager of the Jeff Healey Band. The dual role was fraught with conflicts of interest. One minute, he was leading the debauched life of a rock musician; the next, he was disciplining the band for the havoc they caused. 

But few knew or understood Jeff Healey - a national icon and one of the world’s best blues guitarists - better. Funny and loyal, with a luminous mind and staggering talent, Healey was also provincial, stubborn, obnoxious and antagonistic. 

This book explores both sides with honesty, clarity and humor and reveals what life for the band was really like: Jeff challenging ZZ Top to a bowling competition - and winning; Bill Clinton inviting the band to the White House, and enjoying a special audience with Queen Elizabeth II. To say nothing of the legendary guitarist’s interactions with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Keith Richards, and more ... Tom Stephen was there for it all. He believes that young fans deserve to experience Healey’s brilliance - to understand the complicated man behind those timeless sounds. Best Seat in the House offers an authentic perspective that fans won’t find elsewhere. 

I was a fan of the Jeff Healey Band and saw them many times in the late 1980s/early 1990s in local bars like Grossman's and Albert's Hall.  So I thought it would be interesting to read this book.

Jeff Healey (1966 - 2008) was a Canadian blues-rock and jazz musician, born and raised in Toronto.  When he was a year old, he lost his sight to cancer. His eyes had to be surgically removed and he wore prostheses.  He started playing guitar when he was quite young and developed a unique style (playing with the guitar on his lap).

With bassist Joe Rockman and drummer Tom Stephen (the author of this book), he formed The Jeff Healey Band in the mid to late 1980s.  They released their first album in 1988, which produced some hits and won awards.  Around this time, they were the "house band" in the Patrick Swayze movie, Road House, plus they recorded the soundtrack.  They released more albums over the years to some success.

But Healey's interest in blues and rock 'n roll  and touring began to wane and the band eventually broke up.  Healey opened a bar at Queen Street W/Bathurst with live music  (I'd been to it lots of times) and starting moving more into jazz.  He passed away in 2008 from cancer.

This book is Stephen's experience being not only the drummer in the Jeff Healey Band but also the band's manager (which did cause friction at times).  It tells the stories of the band living the crazy rock 'n roll lifestyle ... booze, drugs and women ... what happened after the band broke up.

I liked this book.  I found it interesting to get the behind the scenes stories of the band's experiences on the road, the pressures and temperaments, why they made the decisions they did, plus meeting famous people like the Rolling Stones, former President Clinton and even the Queen. 

Before the band broke up, there was tension between Healey and Stephen and after the band broke up, they pretty well stopped speaking (though Stephen says he doesn't know why Healey shut him out).  There is bitterness between Stephen and Rockman and Stephen and Healey's widow.  Whenever I read /biographies and autobiographies, I usually take them with a grain of salt because it's coming from one person's perspective.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Toronto Rock 14, Georgia Swarm 9, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON

Gord and I are season ticket holders for the Toronto Rock lacrosse team games ... the Rock is a professional lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).  This is our sixth year going to the games and our fifth year having seasons tickets.

The Rock were hosting the Georgia Swarm ... the Swarm had beat Toronto in their first home game last month.  Coming into tonight's game, they were tied for first place in the eastern division.

Scotty Newlands sang the American national anthem.

Students from Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School sang the Canadian national anthem.