Once Again

Filed under: @ 6:18 pm

For the third time in four years I’m getting ready to subject myself to a week with only one hand.

My previous two hand surgeries have been carpal tunnel release surgeries. My wrists and fingers have been a LOT happier postop than they were before I had the procedures done.

This time it’s a little different. After 21 years of clinical medicine I’ve got some trapping of the extensor tendon of my right thumb (the one that lets you fold your thumb across your palm) and the flexor tendons of my middle and ring fingers (the ones that let you curl your fingers into a fist) on the same hand. Basically if I try to hold up three fingers on my right hand it ends up looking like this:

It isn’t quite Dupuytren’s Contracture but it’s close.

I am actually looking forward to this — despite the need to have my dominant hand out of commission for a week — because when you have an opposable thumb that doesn’t oppose, it’s irritating. To say nothing of ouchy!

Scheduling the surgical repair was kind of a last minute thing. I saw the hand specialist on the 12th expecting that he’d stab me in the tendons with additional steroids, like he did 6 months or so ago, and all would be good again (at least once I got over hating him for poking needles in the palm of my hand). But I seem to have found a rare specimen here. The hand specialist not only is a _very_ talented surgeon, but he is a congenial human being that seems to like treating his patients as human beings and (most importantly for me) treats me as a doctor. And on the 12th when I told him that I’d been having problems putting sutures into a cat’s skin the day before he went a little bug eyed and started talking about getting me in for surgery. Like, NOW!.
I was already scheduled to have this week off so he pushed his schedule around to fit me in. A great kindness on his part because I’d otherwise not have been able to schedule anything until after the first of the year.

So after Wednesday I’ll be stoned out of my gourd with a cast on my right hand and an absolutely BLISSFUL cat on my lap for a week. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 days getting all of the heavy work in the garden done for the year and I’ve gotten a lot of the tasks, errands, and chaos that I had on my schedule for the next several weeks out of the way. I can spend a week stoned, watching silly movies with my cat and playing Candy Crush with an absolutely clear conscience.

If only I could teach Andrew how to braid hair…..


Birdbert 2.0

Filed under: @ 10:16 am

The last time we _know_ we saw the female Pine Siskin we fostered last spring, alias Birdbert, was at our Memorial Day party on the Sunday before Memorial Day. That was the last time we fed Birdbert (at least, that was the last time we fed Birdbert her bug butter) and, as I said, that was the last time that we _know_ we saw her.

Okay so there are a jillion little brown birds in and out of our garden in a six month period and approximately a grillion of those are female Pine Siskins.

Over the summer I’ve been in the habit of making the little chirpy noise that we used with Birdbert to let her know we were bringing her food any time I’ve been around a female Pine Siskin that seems more comfortable with people than most. And a couple of times I’ve gotten a response from the bird to whom I have aimed said chirpy noise.
So can I prove that Birdbert fledged into a mature Pine Siskin and then spent the summer being a mature Pine Siskin bopping in and out of her “home” garden? I cannot.

But I like to think so.

However in the last couple of rather chilly days Andrew and I have had experiences in the hot tub that make me think that Birdbert is still around.

Last Friday we were in the hot tub and a little brown tweedlebeep flew into the grape vines. Once I got my eyes focused I realized that said tweedlebeep was a Pine Siskin. I made the little chirpy noise and the Pine Siskin hopped further into the grape vines under the arbor and sat there looking at me. The bird hopped even closer in, then sat, presumably enjoying the increased ambient temperature that exists under the arbor when we have the hot tub open, and, for lack of a better term, hung out with us for about 10 minutes. Just looking around being a bird for the most part, but several times she responded when I made the little chirpy noise at her.
Still not proof however. Once could be a coincidence.

This morning though… Again we were in the hot tub. It was chilly last night and foggy this morning and the temperature under our glass-roofed grape arbor has got to be a good deal warmer than it is outside. Into the southwest corner bops a female Pine Siskin. Who then responds to my little chirpy noise (I’m sorry, when a critter turns towards you then turns her head sideways and hops closer it is an actual response to a stimulus not just a coincidence). The Pine Siskin found herself a comfortable perch in the upper vines just underneath the roof of the arbor, proceeded to give herself a good grooming and fluffing then stuck her head under her wing and took a 15 minute or so nap.

Once may be coincidence. Twice is something more than that. :D

BirdBert 20150506-12


Another Wellman Type 1

Filed under: @ 5:20 pm

Y’all long time readers of UADN will recall my commentary about Wellman Type 1 experiences.

A couple of weeks ago I had another.

The master bathroom in our house is not a bathroom at all (at least according to strict real estate agent definitions). Technically the master bath is a “powder room” but since I hate the term and it’s me doing the writing I’ll call it a lavatory (a likewise unappealing term with its hints of air travel, but at least not frou frou and *pink*).
Anyway. The teeny little WC in the master bedroom is about 4 feet by 6. This is really a small space. There is a toilet. There is a sink. There wasn’t even a medicine cabinet until we moved in and mounted one on the wall, but since there is one now there is an equivalent amount *less* space for one to maneuver.

And the toilet was old. Like probably late ’80s old. And the fucker didn’t flush worth a damn. Water consumption aside, I’d have kept the bloody thing regardless of the increased water consumption as compared to more modern toilets if it had actually worked, the main purpose of a toilet is. To. FLUSH!! Over the last 2-3 years I’ve probably flushed that damnable piece of equipment about three times as much as it needed to be flushed just to get it to do it’s job. It was, as you can understand, FRUSTRATING!

So in April when we had the Nice Ukranian Plumber out to look at the hose bib I asked him to take a look at the devil toilet too. NUP poked at its innards, flushed it and said “Whoa! That is a WEAK flush!” He then proceeded to tell me that the little holes around the under side of the rim where the water comes out when you flush had, over the years, gotten gunked up with mineral scale and that the only real practical way to address the problem was to replace the toilet. NUP is a good guy, he told me exactly which toilet to purchase to fit in the teeny little space, then quoted $500-700 for the toilet plus the labor to replace it. I thanked him and he went on his way to fiddle with the hose bib.
But inside my head I was thinking…. “$500-700! That’s INSANE! I know I can get the toilet for a couple hundred at the most and *I* can replace a toilet! It’s not that difficult! You unbolt things, replace the wax ring, bolt everything back into place and you’re done!”

(Do y’all see the foreshadowing?)

A couple of weeks ago I’d finally had enough of the toilet. Our water bills have been horrendous (okay, we’ve got a garden and a hot tub, but at least *some* of the outrageous water bill was that fucking toilet), the damn thing was taking more and more flushes to do the same bloody job, THAT’S IT!!
So we got the toilet from an unnamed big box hardware store that delivers (very important) and a new wax ring.
And one lovely Sunday afternoon I announced that I was going to replace the fucking toilet.

First and foremost I didn’t realize that I was the _only_ one of the two of us who could replace that fucking toilet. The room is approximately 4 feet by 6. Take away about 2 feet of the 6 foot length for the sink and the cabinet underneath and you’ve got about 4 x 4 feet. Take away 18 inches from the 4 foot width for the footprint of the toilet and you’ve got what, a little under 3 feet? And into this 2 1/2 foot by 4 foot space one of us was about to have to fold themselves to disassemble, remove, and replace a large, slippery, WET object with no convenient handles. Even with the best will in the world, a lot of Vaseline, and a 6 foot shoehorn there is no way that Andrew could have done the job. He couldn’t even come in to help!
Secondly, I didn’t remember that the most basic rule of any big do it yourself home project is that however well you think you’ve prepared for it, there is always, ALWAYS something that you don’t have which will necessitate at least one mid-project trip to the hardware store to fetch.

It went about as well as you could imagine.
I remembered to turn off the water then realized I was going to have to fold myself into an origami crane to get at the bolts on the seat and the tank. Once I’d gotten the seat and the tank removed (with the help of power tools and rather a lot of Language since the bolts had been stripped over the years) I discovered that the only way I could get to the bolts that hold the bowl to the floor was to lie on the floor on my side with my legs either pointed out the door or resting on the edge of the sink depending on which side I was working on. Further Language managed to get the bowl removed, I’m proud of the fact that I didn’t blorp a whole bunch of toilet water all over any of the floors, the old wax ring replaced, the new bowl placed and bolted down.

Success! Half a toilet! The hard part is over! (foreshadowing foreshadowing foreshadowing)

Additional Language was required to get the tank bolted down, but bolted it was before I realized that the old water line, which was a solid steel tube not one of those convenient flexible hoses, wouldn’t reach the new tank. I had to take the tank off so I could get the old water line off (little teeny space, remember?) so I took the damn thing off and removed the old water line.
Then I took my first trip to the hardware store. Dunn Lumber is just down the street so, without bothering to change from my grubby work clothes, I ran down to Dunn Lumber, went into their plumbing aisle and grabbed the first flexible steel water line that was the appropriate length, got some amused sympathy from the counter drone, and came back home.
I attached the new water line to the water source then put the tank back on. Folding myself into an origami crane again I lay down on my side to attach the water line to the tank only to discover that the female end of the water line didn’t fit the male attachment on the tank.
So I detached the water line from the wall (fortunately that nice, convenient, FLEXIBLE modern water line kept me from having to un-bolt the tank again) and went back to Dunn Lumber.

They were closed.

I don’t know enough Language to be able to properly express my feelings about the fact that Dunn Lumber was closed. Thank Zarquon that our local ACE was still open.
Got the new water line, attached same to wall and to the toilet tank, turned on the water (nothing leaked), flushed the toilet and all was good. Great. We now have a functional toilet in the WC (a much better term I think) in our bedroom.

The whole process took 7 hours, three trips to two different hardware stores, $75 to my massage therapist to work out the freaky ass muscle spasms engendered by having to lie on my side and work a ratchet wrench and more frustration than my current vocabulary can express.
I now know _why_ the Nice Ukranian Plumber wanted $500-700 dollars to do it.

When I was very young my father replaced a toilet in one of the bathrooms in the house I grew up in. I don’t remember much of the process except that when he was done Dad took the old toilet and chucked it over the railing of the second floor balcony to smash into a zillion pieces on the driveway. It was awesome! The part that I, of course, hadn’t remembered is that once he was done chucking the old toilet over the railing Dad stamped back into the house (thoroughly uncharacteristic for the Pater familias. My father is not one to stamp.) and told my mother that the reason he’d gone to college for 12 years was so that he wouldn’t have to do plumbing.
The man has a point. The reason I went to college for 8 years was so that I wouldn’t have to do plumbing. And now *I* know that too.

The next time I’m going to pay the Nice Ukranian Plumber his $700.


Another Great Pumpkin Pogrom

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:06 am

Pumpkin Pogrom 2015

Many thanks to all who participated!


Two videos you have to see if you haven’t yet.

Filed under: @ 11:56 am

_And_ they’re totally safe for work:

I know the second one isn’t real. I don’t care that it’s not what it appears to be. I’ve watched it a dozen times or more and it still makes me laugh until I cry.


Very deep inhale…..

Filed under: @ 5:48 pm

Happy Birthday! (October 2nd)
Happy Birthday! (October 4th)
Happy Birthday! (October 7th)
Happy Birthday! (October 8th)
Happy Birthday! (October 9th)
Happy Birthday! (October 14th)
Happy Anniversary! (October 17th)
Happy Birthday! (October 20th)

Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe….

October and January man! 8O


Okay, I HAVE to ask…

Filed under: @ 4:24 pm

My technician, Red, has a pair of friends. A couple who are expecting their first child.
Red was at their house the other day and she picked up a random parenting book that these friends had in their living room.

In this book there were a series of “short tips for parents”. One of which was that fathers of sons should be sure to assure said sons that their penis wasn’t ever going to fall off.

To which I have to ask…. IS THIS REALLY A THING?

Dr. Other Associate has two sons, one five, one eight. She says that her sons have NEVER indicated any concern that their penis might fall off. No male person (granted I have only asked two) to whom I have recounted this bit of parenting wisdom, has said that spontaneous penis detachment was ever a concern for them.

This is thoroughly indelicate, but not having one of my own, I have to ask those (few) male readers of UADN… Were you, as a child, EVER concerned that your penis might fall off? Did it ever even occur to you to think it might be possible? And fathers of sons, have you ever been concerned that it might be necessary to tell your child that his penis won’t fall off?

For heaven’s sake (and here my inner curmudgeon starts to speak) if we, as a culture, are at a point where a parenting book points out that we have to reassure our children that their genitals won’t fall off it’s no wonder that the world is going to Hell in a handcart!


How To Make Pumpkin Soup

Filed under: @ 6:18 pm

I’ve been on an extended long weekend this week. Note that I call it “an extended long weekend” instead of “a vacation” or “a staycation”.
It’s not a vacation because I am doing things that people, sometimes even I, don’t associate with vacating. My closets are clean. My pantry is organized. I organized the junk drawer in the kitchen fer chrissake! So calm, mundane, peaceful things that don’t require me to think much or talk to anyone besides my husband and my cats unless I absolutely want to. But things that give me satisfaction, and things that I enjoy. Especially the part about being able to take the time to cook. Also it’s not a vacation because I’m home doing these things while Andrew is growing mildew in the basement working on the FP catalogue. One cannot have a vacation during the time when one’s spouse is working overtime on a deadline.
And it’s not a (shudder) “staycation” because the term irritates me. Like “selfie” and “hoodie”, “staycation” is a fractured fragment of two words that were glued together by a generation of people who do most of their communicating with their thumbs and even though I freely admit that a living language is an evolving language, I have enough respect for English that that sort of thing irritates me.
Enough babbling.

I was puttering around the kitchen this late morning/early afternoon banging things around and started this narrative in my head. Part recipe, part stream of consciousness, and part apology to the cat for swatting him on the backside.

In a stock pot large enough to scare hell out of your husband (who has previously been subject to some of your excesses with soup) dump two Nancy’s Yogurt containers of pumpkin pulp and one Nancy’s Yogurt container of ham stock. Set the stove to “low” so that the stock will melt before the pumpkin burns.

Take a moment to wonder why the larger of the two containers contains pumpkin pulp but virtually no juice.
Open the fridge.
Mumbling all sorts of Words about cracked containers and pumpkin juice spend the next 10 minutes with the refrigerator door open moving things off of the bottom shelf of the fridge and figuring out how to take the vegetable drawer out of your (relatively) new refrigerator.
Take the now removed drawer to the sink to wash it off, not realizing that the front of the drawer isn’t water tight.
Drool about half a cup of pumpkin juice onto the floor.
Indulge in more Words while you decide that wiping the pumpkin juice up off of the floor that has needed mopping for at least the last six weeks is just putting off the inevitable.
Stop to feed the cats.
Go downstairs to the laundry room, get the mop and the mop bucket.
Pick up the cat food dishes, the anti-fatigue mats, the trash can, and the water dish.
Mop the kitchen.
Wash out the vegetable drawer into which most of the pumpkin juice has drooled. Wipe down the rest of the interior of the fridge where the pumpkin has drooled.
Realize that you’ve got the mop and the bucket both right there and that the dining room needs mopping too. Sigh dramatically then move the anti-fatigue mats and the recycling bin into the hallway.
Realize that the lazy bloody Roomba hasn’t been sweeping in the corners thoroughly and indulge in some Words while you go and get the broom and dustpan to sweep up the cat hair and shredder cruddlies that have been accumulating in the corners.
Open the blind on the dining room window and turn on the ceiling fan so that the floor will dry quickly. Take a moment to swat the cat on the backside after he claws his way up your back so he can get onto the window sill in the dining room.

Decide you need a break because obviously your temper is a little frayed. Get a glass of water and go play Plants vs. Zombies for a while.
Suddenly remember your pumpkin glop on the stove.

After you bolt into the kitchen and realize that your glop hasn’t burned yet, stir the glop vigorously, take it off the heat, and realize that you’ll need to puree it before it can be pumpkin soup.
In preparation for getting out the food processor recognize that you still have a saucepan full of stewed tomatoes that need to be packaged up for the freezer.
Package up the stewed tomatoes. Dump the little bit of stewed tomatoes that won’t fit in the two freezer containers into the stock pot full of pumpkin glop. Antioxidants are antioxidants after all.
Put the stewed tomatoes in the freezer.
Look out the window and realize that your container plants need watering. Take a half hour to water the container garden while realizing that it’s basically late, late August and still bloody hot outside.

Wander down into the basement where the afore mentioned husband is growing mildew to discuss dinner plans.
Decide that pumpkin soup is a little too warm considering the weather and decide on pesto, brie, and tomato sandwiches for dinner. March back out to the container garden to pick basil.

Wash the basil then strip the leaves from the stems.
Put the basil in the food processor with 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil then whir.
When basil and olive oil have made a paste, add 1 cup of walnuts, 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan, and a good spoonful of garlic and whir.
Scoop the pesto out into a handy container and put it back in the now lovely clean, shiny fridge.

Scoop the pumpkin glop into the food processor bowl that has been used to make pesto and proceed to puree the pumpkin glop while you’re tidying up the kitchen.
Put the pumpkin glop back into the fridge (did you use a new, non-cracked container?) and go to the grocery store to get bread for the sandwiches. The pumpkin soup will wait for another day.


As Requested

Filed under: @ 3:59 pm

We were at a wedding a couple of weeks ago. A & E are a lovely couple and I wish them both the very best.

At the reception Andrew and I were seated with a number of other friends of the bride. Various geeks, techies, and other members of the literary nerd/gamer guild with whom I have hung for a number of years. And another woman, S, who was known to a number of the other people at the table, but whom I had never met before. We were seated next to each other and, as one does, over the course of the meal we started talking about what we do for a living.

A brief side note: If you’re ever talking with a veterinarian in anything more than an extremely casual dining experience, and especially if you don’t have a particularly strong stomach, I’d recommend you not say something like “So how do you like your job?” or “Wow, I bet that’s fun!”.
Because you tend to run across three different types of veterinarians. Those who are fresh in the field have all sorts of enthusiastic, but weird, things to say about their jobs. Those of us who have been in the profession for any length of time are cynical about humanity and have enough experience in the field to say all sorts of weird and hair raising things about our jobs. There’s a glitch in the social filter of those of us in the first two groups that keeps us from being able to easily identify situations in which some of our more interesting tales would be inappropriate. It’s just something about the nature of those of us that end up in the field.
Then there’s the third group. This group is those who have enough experience in the field to recognize a potential viper pit when they see it and have enough acting ability to be able to pull off “I’m a proctologist” or “I work for the IRS” on the fly. You’ll never know that the veterinarians in the third group are actually veterinarians, but you will be silently loathed if you happen to be a proctologist, a mortician, an IRS agent, or any of the other unappealing and potentially dull professionals that the good actors amongst us choose as their cover identities and choose to start talking about your job.
God help you if you have a sensitive stomach and you ever end up eating with a group of veterinarians.

Anyway, I was seated next to S, this essential stranger, at a rather formal wedding reception. I don’t have the moxie to be able to come up with a good cover identity and the rest of the table knew that I am a veterinarian anyway, so when she asked I told her what I did.
And I got the standard “Wow, that’s interesting/I bet that’s fun” sort of response.
Because my social filter is a tiny bit more evolved than some of my colleagues’ and I could recognize that a somewhat formal wedding reception in a hall filled with friends and family members was probably not the best place to get too weird, I prevaricated a little bit. But, as I mentioned above, I was seated at a table with a bunch of people who have known me for years and somehow the story of the woman with the gay cat came up. Which of course made S do a virtual spit take and ask “the woman with the GAY cat?!”

Neither the place nor the time was right to expand so I promised I’d expand here in hopes that she actually makes her way here to find the story.
So here goes.
Please note that when I told this to my mother she laughed so hard she had to sit down right where she was standing. You may want to take a seat.

It would have been the summer of 2001. My colleague L was a new graduate from the vet school at the University of Illinois and had done as I had — high school, undergrad, grad school. Got her degree just past her 22nd birthday then was thrown into the world of the general public which is a weird, WEIRD place to be at 22 if you haven’t done anything but go to school your whole life.
I was “in the back” that day. I had surgical procedures that had been done and then my responsibilities lay with the hospitalized patients. Which meant that I didn’t have to see appointments that day. I was sitting at the doctors’ desk in the treatment area with L when her technician, M, came back to tell her that there was a patient ready for her. The patient was a week old orphaned pit bull puppy that was coming in for a basic health check. M gave L the run down on the pup, the reason he was orphaned, how the owners had been caring for the pup, etc. When L asked what they’d been feeding the pup M told her “Her sister has a baby. She’s been breast feeding the puppy.”

When M told L that the sister’s owner had been breast feeding the puppy L, and there is no better way to put this, Lost. Her. Shit. (And L, if you’re reading this, there’s no use in denying it. I have a witness after all.)
Stamping up and down in the hallway, bright red, waving her arms and ranting about how gross that was and how did they EVER get such an idea and so on and so on and so on.
This was quite possibly one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life.
M and I had only just stopped laughing when L, finished with the appointment, came stamping back, gave M one of the stinkiest of stink eyes I’ve ever seen and said “You could have told me they were from KENTUCKY!” which set us both off again.

Another brief side note: The puppy’s owner had talked her sister into breast feeding the puppy because they knew that “you can’t feed puppies cow’s milk”. Which, of course, begs the question “and so you can feed them human milk because….?”. And no, the sister wasn’t pumping and bottle feeding the puppy, the puppy was latching on after the sister’s kid had finished eating.
Also, I’d like to add that it was actually a fairly decent solution to a fairly common problem. Most orphaned puppies are hypothermic, dehydrated, malnourished or some combination of all three. This was a turgid puppy. It was like a water weenie with legs. Fat, warm, pink, and very, VERY vocal.
Regardless L did send them home with some puppy milk replacer and a feeding bottle. I think we all lost track of that puppy after that.

Fast forward a week. L was in the surgery suite spaying a German Shepherd. Because of the dog’s size and shape this is a challenging procedure regardless of how much experience one has as a surgeon so in between my appointments I was sticking close and making sure that L was doing okay.
L was doing great. I was sitting at the desk writing charts when my technician, J, came to tell me about my next appointment.
J told me that the cat was here because he was having problems with his ears. She gave me the run down on how long, what the symptoms were etc. And then she said “And I think you ought to know, she says that the cat is gay.” (record scratch)
J went on to say that she had been getting ready to take the cat’s temperature when the woman said to her “He’s gay you know.” “Not gay as in cheerful, but” (she looked around the room and put her hands over the cat’s ears, hissing) “he’s of the gay persuasion“.
“Not with other cats. Oh no. He loves birds. LOVES them….. And he’s got a squirrel friend.”
At which point J, the duplicitous bitch, put the thermometer down and said “I’ll go get the doctor for you.”

I’d had a trying week already, although I can’t remember what sort of trying it had been. J told me this, doing an impression of the owner that should have won an Oscar, and I just sat there gobsmacked. I listened to the whole thing, then put my pen down, got up from the desk and said “Oh no. That’s it. End of the road this week, I’m out of here!”
And L, from the surgery suite, hollered “Oh no! NO, NO! If *I* had to deal with the woman breast feeding the puppy *YOU* have to deal with the woman with the gay cat!”
Which left M and J both laughing their asses off.

In the heat of the moment it didn’t occur to me to wonder, but over the years I’ve come up with questions about the gay cat to which I’m not sure I want the answers.
What, and I mean WHAT, was this completely indoor castrated male cat doing *in the house* that made the owner think that he was sexually aroused by birds and squirrels?
If we assume that the cat knew he was gay (I mean, he’d have to know he was gay or he wouldn’t be doing whatever it was that let the owner know that he was gay, right?) why did the owner feel it necessary to put her hands over the cat’s ears when she told J that the cat was gay? I mean, the cat knew he was gay, he was behaving in a gay fashion (or at least what the owner interpreted as a gay fashion) so he must have known that *she* knew he was gay. Who was she protecting by covering the cat’s ears when she told J that the cat was gay?

And finally, why is it that no one tells wannabe veterinarians that people are frickin’ insane and if you enter the profession you’ll be dedicating your career to dealing with the loonies a lot more often than their pets?!

The story makes me giggle even still. Maybe the next time I’ll tell you about the woman who wanted her bitch’s ears cropped so when the bitch had puppies they’d all come out with cropped ears.


Caitlin and Cameron Sittin’ In A Tree

Filed under: @ 5:09 pm

Cat & Cam 2014

Caitlin Rachel Pomaik’ai Slattery & Cameron Phillip Hughes

Mazel tov you two! Best wishes for a long and joyous life together.
Sorry we couldn’t be there. We love you!


Panhandling in the age of social networks

Filed under: @ 5:37 pm

Two weeks ago Wednesday I removed 35 stones from the bladder of a Japanese Chin (an annoying, yappy, little brachycephalic breed that generally fall into the classification of ‘armpit pet’).

Neither the surgery, the breed, nor the number of stones that I removed were at all remarkable. It’s a straightforward surgical procedure and while 35 mineral crystals is, yes, a lot to have banging around inside your bladder it was by no means the most, either by volume or by number, that I’ve encountered so far.
Nor was the price of the surgery in any way unusual. The total cost of the procedure was around $950. That’s actually fairly reasonable considering the time the procedure took (a little over 40 minutes) and the pre and postoperative care the dog received.

No, the weird part of this procedure was the method of payment. See the owner couldn’t pay for the procedure herself so she “held a fundraiser”. Which in this day and age means that she set up a Gofundme site so she could ask friends, family, and totally random strangers to pay for what is ultimately her responsibility.
Because one of my receptionists is Facebook friends with a friend of the owner, my receptionist got included on the list of people who were asked to help pay for the surgical procedure. So my receptionist knows that the dog’s owner ended up raising enough to pay for the surgery (around $980 in fact).

Okay. All very well and good. Except, and you knew that this was coming, when the owner came to pick up the dog on the day of surgery she said that she could only pay us $400, she didn’t know when she’d be able to pay us the rest, and it was going to be around the end of September before she could even consider a payment plan on the rest of the bill.
Our office manager is a wonderful woman, a passionate animal lover, superb at her job, and NOT one you want to get crossways with. Since the receptionist had, happily, let us all know about the Gofundme appeal before the surgery the office manager knew that the dog’s owner had enough money to pay for the surgery. And while the office manager didn’t tell the dog’s owner that she knew about the Gofundme site, nor did she say any of the snarky things that all of us want to say, she did give the dog’s owner a flat, fishy, stink eye and told her that she had to pay the rest of her bill by the end of August and that she was going to get an imprint of the debit card which was going to be run on August 31st if the bill wasn’t paid by then.
At which point the dog’s owner started in with the expected wailing and rending of garments about how she didn’t know how she was going to purchase groceries or pay her rent or…… which was, of course, ignored.

The drama isn’t over of course. There’s still an outstanding balance on that account and the client has been marked as “no service” until the bill is paid. We won’t know how it ends until the bill is paid in full.

But that’s the reason I won’t ever donate to a Gofundme site or, with very, very strict exceptions, to any Kickstarter campaign. And that’s the reason I don’t ever give money to panhandlers. I have absolutely no idea what this dog’s owner did with the vast majority of the money she raised for her dog’s surgery — the dog whose medical condition she exploited for the purpose of coaxing money out of soft hearted strangers. I don’t really care what she did with the rest of the money she raised. Whatever she did it was reprehensible because she lied to the donors about how she’d spend their money.

I guess I should be sorry for her because she doesn’t have friends or family from whom she can borrow money when she needs it (and y’all know if you really need money you can ask us, right?). But instead I’m just pissed because she lied to me.



Filed under: @ 5:38 pm

Just this.

If you see such a petition, fucking SIGN IT!


Hot may have its uses though

Filed under: @ 3:43 pm

It’s still stinkin’ hot, it’s just less stinkin’ hot than it was a week ago.
However, as cranky and stressed out as that tends to make me about our water supply..

My record earliest tomato was Tuesday July 10th 2007. Tomorrow will be Thursday July 9th 2015. And tomorrow I will have ripe tomatoes on my vines.

I also have two, count ’em, TWO melon vines that have set fruit (one Moon & Stars watermelon and one Tigger melon) and….

knee high!!

My corn was, in fact, knee high on the _first_ of July.


Summertime and the Kitties are Silly

Filed under: @ 6:20 pm

Okay, for the record I seriously dislike that song. It’s supposed to sound slow and lazy like a summer day, but to me it sounds lugubrious like a summer song as interpreted by Marvin the Paranoid Android.

That having been said, it’s hot.

Like 92F hot. Way, WAY to hot for this early in the summer in Seattle.

And the cats, being cats, are sleeping in the stereotypically feline abandoned positions one expects of a piece of well aged roadkill. Case in point this afternoon, may I present Flitter:

Dead Flitter

Dead Flitter

Now for the sake of orientation, that’s Flitter lying lengthways along the back of my recliner. With her left front leg, holding on to the bannister that runs the length of our living room, supporting her head. And yes, she was asleep.
This is from the top down.

Also dead Flitter

Also dead Flitter

There’s about a 4 inch gap between the edge of the recliner and the bannister, and there’s a 3 foot space between the top of the bannister and the floor.

At my youngest and most flexible I don’t think I could have slept like that without suffering permanent cramps.

Cats are non-Newtonian fluids.


The Miracle Nut

Filed under: @ 9:49 am

Coconut oil is trendy right now. I think Dr. Oz recommended it for something. I don’t know what made it start to trend, as it were, but coconut oil is BIG in terms of sovereign specifics. If you’re itchy — use coconut oil. If you’re constipated — use coconut oil. If you have indigestion — coconut oil. You get my drift.

Of course, since it’s good for people it must be good for pets, no?

And so I had the woman whose cat had fleas and flea allergic dermatitis who was smearing her cat in coconut oil to keep it from licking. Just for the record, if your cat is licking at her skin a lot, smearing her in something gooey isn’t going to make her lick less.
And I had the dog who had a hypersensitivity to malassezia (a common dermal yeast) whose owner was putting *four tablespoons* of coconut oil on his food twice a day. It didn’t help his skin, but it sure made him develop a raging pancreatitis and, because of that, diabetes which eventually killed him.
I have an online veterinary buddy who had a client that was smearing coconut oil on their cockatoo who was feather picking. Much like smearing it on a cat, smearing coconut oil on a parrot who is determined to traumatize his own skin isn’t going to make that stop either. (Although we have another online veterinary buddy who, having heard that story commented “Hm. Coconut oil, a little salt and pepper, a hot skillet….” which, veterinarians in general having a sick sense of humor, broke us all up and made us admit that yes, in that case the coconut oil would probably have stopped the cockatoo from feather picking.)

So you get the idea. Coconut oil is a panacea. It’ll cure everything, improve everything, stop male pattern baldness, improve your sex life, make you lucky at the craps table.

I don’t know why, then, it amazed me when I had the following exchange with a young woman who had brought me her grandmother’s morbidly obese Pekingese. Boo Boo had gained 10 pounds in the last year. The dog went from 15 pounds to 25 on a frame where even 15 pounds was, to put it nicely, generous.
I told the granddaughter and her grandmother that the dog was morbidly obese and that they were feeding it to death. The dog *has* to lose weight or he’ll die, and he is beyond the point where an over the counter “weight control” diet was going to help. I told them that if they wanted the dog to lose weight that he had to start on a prescription weight reduction diet, cut out his table food habit, and start going for several short walks every single day.
The granddaughter, a woman in her early 20s or so, looked at me with a straight face and asked:
“So would adding coconut oil to his food help?”

I am rather proud of myself that I neither broke out laughing or stared at her with my jaw dropped. Nor was I sarcastic when I explained that adding pure fat to food that was designed to make the dog lose weight was probably going to work at cross purposes to our desired goal.

A miracle nut, or a miraculous nut. You decide!


The Saga of BirdBert

Filed under: @ 10:20 am

We have had an insanely busy couple of months at work. This is a good thing, but it leaves me a little flaky by the end of the day.

So when I passed by the reception desk on my way between appointments and my receptionist said to me “I don’t want to tell you what’s in back.” it was with a sense of doom and despair that I went back to the treatment area to find out.

What I found waiting for me was a shoebox.
A little, pink, child’s shoebox.
And inside the shoebox was a pair of what Andrew and I refer to as “tuft heads”. Tuft heads are hatchling birds of any species who have just enough feathers to be recognizable as birds and not animated disembodied scrotums (which, you have to admit, a featherless baby bird _does_ look like). It turns out that a dad and his little girl (could you get any more stereotypical) had brought the shoebox with the tuft heads to the front desk and said “We found these when we were out walking, can you take care of them?”.

Tuft head #1 was rather squashed and bloody. I didn’t have any reservations sending that one on to the next life.
But tuft head #2 was uninjured and squawking and I hesitated…. and was lost.
Most wildlife rehab facilities don’t have the time or the resources to spend on orphaned songbirds. I knew that the local rehab would likely euthanize the little brute if we got them involved.
And Andrew and I have raised and rehabbed more than our share of baby birds so…. so……

I called Andrew.
“Tell me I don’t need to bring home a squawking little tuft head!”
So he did.

I told my staff that *I* didn’t have the time to raise the tuft head and was just about there with the syringe full of euthanasia solution when my tech, Red (her nickname), piped in with “I could help you raise him!”
And that was that. You get a bunch of animal people together and throw a helpless little squawking thing with fur or feathers into the mix and you’re going to end up with some sort of baby to take care of. It’s just the way those things work! Since Red was going to volunteer her time and since we have a garden that is fairly ideal for a suburban bird habitat the deal was made. Red would hand raise the baby until he was big enough to graduate into a flight cage in my garden and from there into the outside world.
When I got home that evening I told Andrew that I didn’t have a little squawking tuft head with me…. yet. Then I showed him a video (which I can’t, for some reason, figure out how to upload) of BirdBert feeding and he was lost too.

At first BirdBert (Red called him “Gene Wilder”, but I like BirdBert better) shuttled back and forth from work to Red’s house in a cardboard box. Then he got too big for the box so Red went and got a little Habitrail habitat for him at the pet store. BirdBert would eat a mix of our canned, high powered recovery diet mixed with a bird micronutrient supplement every half an hour or so from about 5 a.m. to about 8 p.m. then he’d shut down for the night. The whole no night feeding routine being one of the major benefits of raising baby songbirds.

I was on my way home from a garden date at Susan’s about 10 days later when Red called to tell me that BirdBert was getting a little friskier than she thought she could handle with her limited space and lack of experience. When I got home Andrew was in the garage building a bird condo. :-)
Red showed up about an hour later and we installed BirdBert in his new quarters.

For the first week or so BirdBert would shuttle back and forth to work with me, spending any daylight hours I was at home in the bird condo. Gradually, as BirdBert required feeding less often, BirdBert graduated to spending the day at our house in the bird condo, with Andrew coming upstairs to feed him once an hour, and spending the nights in his Habitrail in my office (the cats were FASCINATED).
BirdBert got bigger, got better at flying and would spend days when I was at home beetling about the garden with me but would still spend nights shut up in the bird condo.

The first night we left BirdBert’s condo door open I was pretty much convinced that we’d get up the next morning and find BirdBert remains on the back porch. We have raccoons that frequent our garden overnight and BirdBert is still not real good at keeping himself off the ground. We got up the next morning and… no BirdBert.
I was trying to be very optimistic about the whole thing. BirdBert is a wild bird and _had_ to be given the chance to be a real grown up adult and if he got eaten then he got eaten and…. Until about 2p.m. when I was planting peas and BirdBert chased me down in the garden and danced around in my pea patch squalling for a snack. At which point I burst into tears. Feathery little idiot!

BirdBert has continued to learn how to be a big bird. BirdBert flies pretty well, still spends more time on the ground than I think is entirely safe, and has graduated to only chasing us down and squalling for a snack 2-3 times per day. It seems we’ll have an imprinted wild bird living in our garden this summer.
Considering the fauna that I might be bringing home from work I figure that a single small bird is probably of minimal impact.

And once I figure out what the HELL I’m doing wrong with the photos I’ll post more photos of the little jerk. But until then y’all will just have to make do with BirdBert in the bird(Bert) bath.
BirdBert Bath


SOMEone up there thought that was funny…

Filed under: @ 8:36 am

Yesterday we had to have the plumber come out.

We had to have the plumber come out because for some bizarre reason the hose bib on the front of the house developed a GREAT ENORMOUS LEAK over the winter and every time I turned the water on half of it came out the hose and the other half came out of everywhere else.

Enter the nice Ukrainian plumber. He’s a good guy, he’s done a fair amount of work for us, he’s good, he’s not horribly expensive, and he’s reliable. I like him.

Also we can talk tomatoes, edged weapons, and Subarus while he’s here so I’m never *too* put out when we have to call him.

NUP was done with his work yesterday morning and came into the house to get paid. I wrote him a check and on his way down the stairs he noticed, for the first time, the snake tank in the living room.

“What’s in there” he asked “a turtle?”

“No,” I replied “that’s Sally.”


“Yes, Sally. Salisbury Snake.”

It was then I realized that NUP is one of those folks who is a little wiggy about snakes. Always being eager to reduce peoples’ anxiety about reptiles I went over to the tank and started to unearth the snake so he could touch her and find out that instead of cold and slimy, snakes tend to be warm and dry.

“Is she dangerous?”

“Oh no. Sally is a Ball Python. They’re a small African constrictor. They eat mice and they’re very placid, even tempered snakes.”

At which point Sally, whose flowerpot I had just picked up, reared up and bit me in the hand. 8O
And since I had skipped work on Monday to go see the hand specialist and have a couple of tendons injected, that particular hand has been a little inflamed and the blood vessels somewhat larger than they are usually.

Which meant that when Sally nailed me in _exactly_ the spot that had been injected four days ago, I started bleeding like a stuck pig.
I don’t think I reduced NUP’s anxiety about reptiles at all.

It was, however, a decent reminder that I needed to go to the snake snack store and purchase a half dozen mice.


Dear William Shatner

Filed under: @ 4:17 pm

Because of timing, placement, and personality you will always be the focus of my first Geek Girl crush. I have you and the crew of the Starship Enterprise to thank for introducing me into a genre that has provided me friends, family, and an awful lot of fun throughout my life.
Nothing will ever change either of those two facts.

However, as an adult, an organic gardener, an environmentalist, and a married woman, might I just invite you and your $30 billion Kickstarter campaign to fuck the hell off.

Washington has a reputation for being a damp state. We are, that’s true. Usually. But this year with more than 40% of our watersheds facing drought conditions what in the name of almighty Zarquon makes you think that NOW is a good time to start looking to our water to solve California’s problems?
What makes you think that ANY time is a good time to start siphoning water from the wetter parts of the country to solve California’s problems?

The solution to California’s drought is not, as it were, income redistribution. The solution to California’s drought is thinking outside the box. Want to start a Kickstarter campaign? Great! Start funding for desalinization plants. Start funding to promote real changes in the auto industry, in reducing America’s oil habit, in helping to slow global climate change. Use your celebrity to promote real change at the root of the problem.
Don’t prostitute yourself for the purpose of putting a bandaid on a traumatic amputation man!

And you and your dusty Californian friends can keep your desiccated little fingers out of my water supply!


Ah feckit, I can’t remember what number we’re on. Veterinary medicine is cool.

Filed under: @ 5:41 pm

So Margaret, what did you do at work today?

Bobo Before

Bobo Before

Bobo After

Bobo After

Nuff said.

GOD that’s satisfying!!


Well that was entertaining!

Filed under: @ 12:54 pm

Some years ago I posted my resume on a couple of different veterinary job seeking sites. I don’t know whether I should go and somehow de-activate those postings or whether, through some sort of computer glitch, they just got reactivated or something, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting a number of inquiries regarding open jobs.

Since most of them have been from corporate practices or head hunting sites and I’m NOT going down that road again, I’ve been ignoring them/shredding them/deleting them.

Except yesterday.
Yesterday I was on my way out the door to go grocery shopping when the phone rang. Caller ID showed that it was a veterinary hospital, granted one that I didn’t recognize with an area code that I didn’t recognize, but it was a veterinary hospital so I picked up anyway.
It was a practice owner in northern California. She’d seen my resume online and she was very impressed and she was wondering if I’d be interested in the position she had open.
I apologized and said that I wasn’t really looking for a position, especially not one in California.
She said that she’d read my resume and she was really interested in talking to me.
I reiterated that I wasn’t looking for a position that required me to move out of state. Then she dropped…

“But I’d be willing to start you at $130K per year.”

!oink! 8O

Not pulling up roots and moving to a city and state where I have no family and no close friends. Not willing to go through the chaos that moving house would entail. Really not willing to move somewhere where the cost of living is doubtless higher than where I am now.
But damn that’s a lot of money!
I’m either hot property or she’s desperate or both. Not sure which, not sure I care.

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