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.


Sound Bites

Filed under: @ 3:26 pm

It’s coming on to spring and pushing a month since I posted an update so here we go.

As many of you know we’ve spent most of the last 2 1/2 years working to get nutrition into Chuck. I took him for a cardiac ultrasound in early 2013 because my friend the exotics vet heard a heart murmur. We tickled one of the local cardiologists (a.k.a. one of our clinical professors from vet school days) greatly by having him do the ultrasound (he’d never done a snake before) and a heart based tumor and valve failure was diagnosed. The whole purpose of getting the diagnostics done was to decide whether or not there was anything medical that could be done to get the little stinker to eat. And for a while there was. The medication worked a treat for a while, then stopped working, then started working, then stopped working again. Which is where we were when I blew pureed cat food all over the kitchen ceiling a couple of months ago.
It finally got to the point where we couldn’t keep enough food going into Chuck to maintain his hydration, let alone his body weight, and he was getting very resistant to being handled. Not a way that I want one of my pets to live. So Andrew and I took Chuck up to see my friend the exotics vet and after some x-rays and some discussion we had him euthanized.
Chuck was our longest term pet. We’d had him for just a few months under 25 years and it’s a serious bummer to lose a family member after that long.
We’re looking for a stone cutter who can make a memorial stone for us and we plan to bury his ashes later on this spring.

Andrew’s Back:
For the last month Andrew has had to sleep in his recliner because otherwise his back starts to hurt and eventually he wakes up with shooting pains down his legs. He went to see the back specialist that did his second back surgery and diagnostics were done. After an entirely wasted trip to go and talk with a physician’s assistant whose white coat still had the original creases in it about the MRI, it was decided that Andrew will get at least one epidural cortisone injection. If it works, hooray. If it doesn’t, or if it only works for a little while, then they’re going to go in with a plumber’s snake and unclog his spinal cord again. Whee. :?

I’ve spent the last six weeks trying to convince myself that it’s only February/March. The gorgeous weather has been frightfully tempting, but considering that I planted too early last year and ended up losing most of my crop of storage onions, I’m going to be completely conservative and not plant anything until after the first of April.
I also got asked to be a boards monitor on my veterinary subscription site (VIN) so I’ve been upgraded from blabbermouth member to low grade official which means basically nothing except that they pay for my yearly membership to the tune of $750 or so which is nice.

Other than that?
Working our butts off. Refereeing cats who have taken a passion for fighting with each other the little toe rags. Still LOVING the hardwood floors, and spending a lot of our down time watching Top Gear on BBC America and Bob’s Burgers.

We’re not very exciting people.



Filed under: @ 12:13 pm

Live long and prosper


and Long Life


Just maybe…

Filed under: @ 4:59 pm

Maybe it’s my natural reaction to the testosterone fueled f’ball hooting and snorting that’s been going on here for the last 2 weeks.
Or maybe, as I mentioned before, I’m really a curmudgeon. A blazing liberal curmudgeon, but a curmudgeon nonetheless.

But it was funny.

So I was just on my way back from the grocery store.
Heading south on 1st Avenue south I had in front of me a pickup truck with one of those family decal thingies. You know the ones that show each member of the family as a graduated stick figure, a pair of graduated sizes of flip flops, whatever all? Yeah. On the driver’s side back window of this particular truck was one of those family decal thingies with the family members each depicted as a graduated size of automatic rifle. On the passenger side back window there was a bumper sticker that read “Of Course You Don’t See Any Obama Stickers…. I’m On My Way To Work!”
To the right of me was a pickup truck with a “Romney 2012” centered in the back window and on either a “Free 2012” sticker with an American flag.
And behind me was a great, shining black behemoth of a Hummer. Not an H2, a Real Big Hummer.

So, as I said above, I was probably a little crotchety to begin with, but I got great joy out of opening my windows and cranking the stereo when South Park’s Uncle Fucker came up on my stereo.
Especially the “Shut your fucking face uncle fucker..” line.

Yeah, it was childish and it probably says a lot about my personality that I couldn’t deal with my frustration in a more adult manner.

But it was pretty damn funny.


A philosophical question

Filed under: @ 5:43 pm

And perhaps one that only Tony can answer, he having all those letters after his name extolling his virtues as a gerontologist, but y’all give it a try anyway.

How old does one have to be before one can claim curmudgeon status?
Because by my count as of today, January 23, 2015, I’m 46 years 7 months 2 weeks and 6 days old.
And I am officially a crotchety old crank who will be out tomorrow looking for a whittlin’ stick.

A bit of explanation.

I went on my annual pilgrimage to the uniform store in Southcenter today to purchase some new doctor drag. Unlike all three of my sisters in law and at least one niece, I do not consider clothes shopping to be a dreamy, blissful experience to be savored and enjoyed. I find clothes shopping, regardless of how regimented the clothing requirements (two pairs poly/cotton scrubs in either dark blue or grey and one white doctor’s coat), to be an enormous drag. The whole trying on a piece of clothing, finding that whatever you’re trying on doesn’t quite fit or doesn’t quite suit, then going back to the racks to browse and find something more appropriate, is a challenge (I’m built funny and off the rack clothes don’t often fit well) and a bore. The only thing that might have made today’s pilgrimage worse would have been if I had actually acceded to the office manager’s wishes and done my shopping at the place in the Auburn Super Mall (half an hour’s drive and at least 15 minutes in the parking lot and walking through the mall to get to the place) with whom the hospital has an account. Anyway, at any given time when I’m out clothes shopping I can come up with at least half a dozen different things that I’d rather be doing at that immediate moment.

So perhaps my mindset was a little poisoned in the first place. However….

On my way to the uniform store I stopped at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I did so because I was looking to purchase a single twin or full size cotton flat sheet. I’m in the middle of a quilt and have found that I need a large, single sheet of cotton fabric, ideally white. So I thought that a single flat sheet would be just about what I needed. I didn’t need a sheet _set_ I just needed one single sheet. Bed, Bath and Beyond might be a good place to find such a thing, no?
I believe the phrase my esteemed father uses is Jesus Xavier Christ.

Jesus. Xavier. Christ!
It has to have been 10 years at least since I last set foot in a Bed, Bath and Beyond. I hope it’s at least that before I do again!
How is it that I can walk into a store that advertises itself as selling bedding and spend, no shit, no exaggeration, FIFTEEN MINUTES bonking around like a steel ball bearing in a pinball game before I even find any bedding?
Towels? Sure. Bathroom fixings? No problem! Martha Stewart cat food spoons, scented candles that change scent every five minutes, gewgaws, thingamajigs, gadgets, whirligigs, widgets, gizmos, doohickeys, and contraptions, but actual bedding? Nope. That you’ve got to search for.

It really did take me 15 minutes of wandering around and marveling at the massive cornucopia of crap (jalepeno ketchup anyone?) before I found the corner of the store that had the promised bedding. I found one flat sheet that would suit and it was going to cost me $15.
So I gave up, left, and went to get more agitated by purchasing clothing.
Then I soothed my soul by going to the fabric store and purchasing a bunch of quilting supplies.

So is it me? Or is it the decline of Western Civilization as indicated by the fact that so much shit is being produced of such poor quality that so many people have to continually purchase it to keep the economy going that we might just as well fall into one giant shoe event horizon and evolve into birds?

Either way I believe there is a large rum and coke in my future this evening.


Aw Hell, diddly ding dong CRAP!

Filed under: @ 4:48 pm

I’ve already edited my previous post twice so I’m just going to start a new one.

First and foremost: My 85 year old father in law has re-entered the dating scene after almost a year of being a widower. After a Christmas Eve dinner of an enormous mixed salad and warm rye bread with butter he said to me: “Margaret, my profile on the dating sites mentions that one of the things I’m looking for in life is a good loaf of rye bread. I think that this one was it!” :D
I’m touched! Even just telling people about it makes me tear up a little bit.


The Fish Pot Store (I wish I remembered the name, it was a cool spot) in Salt Lake had a pond-urn similar to what we wanted to put together only bigger. I do love water lilies.

Fish Pot Store Lily

Fish Pot Store Lily

And I couldn’t for the life of me get close enough to this bougainvillea bush behind the Fish Pot Store to get a shot of the sulphur yellow butterflies that were flittering about in it, but it’s a cool bush anyway.

This, according to the dudes at Koolau, isn’t a water lily. God only knows what a “Yellow Snowflake” is, but it’s pretty and it blooms like crazy.
yellow snowflake

And if you should ever happen to be at one of the Costco-s on Oahu and see some of this stuff I’ve got two things to say. One: Buy it! It’s SERIOUSLY YUM. And two is: SEND ME SOME! Andrew also notes that it makes a great mixer with vodka, but my take on it is…. why mess it up with vodka?buy me some!

Okay. Really. I think I’m done now.

So where the hell have you been?

Filed under: @ 4:24 pm

I hear y’all asking.
But wait! Margaret, weren’t you going to post some Hawaii photos? And haven’t you been back for almost a week? And WTF happened with the New Year’s party?

Okay, long story short.
We went to two different Costco-s three separate times in the space of four days.
We cooperatively served Christmas dinner to sixteen people as a part of which I prepared five loaves of rye bread and ten of the most enormous twice baked potatoes that I’ve ever seen. Seriously, each potato had to have weighed something like two pounds.
We drove to two different Koolau Farmer’s Garden Supply stores, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and back and forth all the way across the island to Kaneohe in an attempt to find what we’re now calling The Fish Pot Store which turns out to have been in Salt Lake, home to the only ice skating rink in the Hawaiian islands. (Although as it turns out the flagship Fish Pot Store is in Waimanolo which is on the windward side of the island and would have been much easier to get to if we’d just given up in Kaneohe and gone to Waimanolo, but we were determined to find the one in Salt Lake. It was a long day.) We finally purchased a fish pot, unearthed the old one which had a whacking great hole in the bottom, seated the new one, filled it with fish and a water lily (although the dudes at Koolau said it wasn’t a lily, but a “Yellow Snowflake” whatever that is) and then found out that the bloody thing leaks. Or at least if it doesn’t leak it sure takes up a lot of water, but since neither of us have been up for any prolonged conversations over the last four days we’ve not called to Hawaii to find out if the new fish pot has stopped taking up water.
We had two days of bloody hot with no wind, four days of pounding rain, and relatively decent weather for the rest of the time.
We finally got to take a ride across the Kawainui Swamp which is a lovely bike and running trail across a protected wetland but was a “swamp” before it was a “protected wetland” so it will always be the Kawainui Swamp trail.
We returned the (partially) volcanic sand that my sister found in the donation bin at the Goodwill in Bellingham in a bottle marked “Aloha Maui” to a beach on Oahu. We’re figuring that Madame Pele will be mollified and if she isn’t…… well, it wasn’t us that took the sand from the islands in the first place. It isn’t *our* bad luck.
And we bought the family dinner at the best Chinese restaurant in Kaneohe which had excellent food, but was seriously the loudest place I’ve ever eaten and yes, I’m including the Des Moines Anthony’s Home Port in that list.
I got thoroughly hooked on Candy Crush, got eaten by only one vampire cannibal mosquito from the black lagoon, and no sunburn. There was a lot of loud, a lot of laughing, a lot of argument, and some tears (some bittersweet, some not).

Then we flew across the Pacific, both unknowingly incubating a rampaging case of Sisteritis or Transmissible Airportopathy, and one or both of us has been feeling like death warmed over ever since.

Andrew’s eldest sister and her husband joined the chaos on the evening of the 23rd. They’d been in North Carolina visiting the newest grandbaby (yes, we’ve got another Great Nephew on the ground, Liam Kai born in late November to Andrew’s nephew Sam and his wife). They’d been in Washington DC visiting the two older grandbabies (Ward and Beccah, now 5 and 3, children of Andrew’s oldest niece Julia). And they’d been in California visiting some of Danny’s family. Which means, by my count, they were in four different time zones and at least six different airports in the space of three weeks and when they got to their home in Kona on the 26th they both came down with the raging funk which they’d so generously shared with the rest of us. Or maybe just Andrew and I. Again, we don’t know because neither of us has been able to talk for the last three days without barking up a lung first.

Our flight hit the ground at 10p.m. on 12/28th and we were home and in bed by 11. I was at work at 0900 on the 29th. Andrew was feeling funky, but went out to get groceries for the party anyway.
I was at work at 0700 on the 30th, but Andrew was feeling funky enough to cancel our NYE party which turned out to be a good thing. I got a call from Andrew at about 3p.m. on the 30th. He was funky, having problems breathing, and he’d been running a fever all day. Since Andrew’s bout of The Funk last January turned into pneumonia and his lungs still haven’t fully recovered, I’m a little Extra Sensitive to fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing. I bolted out of work and took Andrew to the local ER where we spent the next five hours arguing with Dr. McBabyface, the ER resident, who was convinced that he was going to admit Andrew for observation overnight.
As it turns out, Dr. McBabyface lost that argument, but we didn’t get home until after 10 and I wasn’t in bed until after 11.
And I was at work again on 12/31st at 0700.
We did have a short day, but since my last client was one of those partially intelligent, partially internet researching whackitrons with a vicious cat, I didn’t manage to chuck him out of the building until half an hour after we’d closed. I went home, put on my jammies, and I haven’t been out of them since.
Our NYE was celebrated with delivery pizza, orange juice, ginger beer, and the Mythbusters Mega Marathon and ended at 9 p.m. when I fell asleep with a cat poultice on my chest.

Since we’ve spent the last three days doing nothing but sitting in our jammies watching Mythbusters, The Simpsons, The Ricky Gervais Show, An Idiot Abroad, listening to the radio, or sleeping, I think we’ve finally convinced the cats that we’re not going to be leaving again anytime soon. Pogo, in fact, has gotten confident enough that he is actually not glued to my lap at the immediate moment.
We managed to get our suitcases unpacked today and (miracle of miracles) I actually got the laundry done.
We haven’t opened any of our Christmas packages and we’ve been subsisting mostly on ramen (which both of us crave when we’re sick), orange juice, chewy ginger candy, and leftover pizza and manapua.

A STELLAR beginning to 2015. I’m not so naive as to say “It can only get better from here”, but just for any of the fates that are listening, I’d sure appreciate it if the rest of January went smoothly.


Frog and Toad Again

Filed under: @ 5:40 pm

So here we are again. It’s 80 odd degrees with mild humidity and wonderful offshore winds. At least there are first thing in the morning. Right now (about 3:30 p.m.) there’s not a breath of breeze and the only moving air around is coming from the ceiling fan.
Also there’s a serious barn-funk that has been pervasive for the last 24 hours. I’m not sure where that’s coming from, I think it’s the new cover for the gas grill that we all chipped in to purchase for Tony’s 85th birthday. Andrew claims that the grill cover smells like vinyl to him which either means that we’re not smelling the same thing, or that this new vinyl grill cover smells like the southbound end of a northbound cow and no one notices it but me.
Me being a little sensitive about the scent of cows.

In general it is not a bad thing to be in Hawaii in late December. In practice, being on the windward side of Oahu when the First Family is in residence can be a little trying.
There have been rather a lot of identical shiny black SUVs with tinted windows and dudes in sunglasses driving them. However so long as one sticks to walking instead of driving the traffic is pretty tolerable.
In fact this morning the traffic was pretty damn amusing actually. I woke up at what my brain was telling me was 8:30 which really meant that it was 630 and only barely sunrise. My back was stiff and the bed was hot so I got up and went for a walk along Kailua beach and into Lanikai whereupon I was rapidly overtaken by a hoard of running elves. There was some sort of parent oriented fun run going on and while all the adults and mobile kids were dressed as elves (all in variations of striped stockings, red fuzzy hats with elf ears, red t-shirts, bells, etc.) the stroller contingent was pretty much uniformly kitted out in brown tutus and fuzzy mittens and socks. I think they were supposed to be reindeer.

We celebrated Tony’s birthday in true Lenzer style last night with those so inclined indulging in an orgy of cippino and garlic pesto bread and those of us who are piscid intolerant inaugurating the grill with some seriously yummy steak (and garlic pesto bread).

Since Andrew’s bicycle blew a tube when we went to inflate the tires two days ago, today we took the bike to the repair shop and then went to The Mission House Museum which was quite interesting. Tomorrow we’ll either take a bike ride along the Kawainui swamp and go birdwatching, or I’ll get some garden work done for Tony and get eaten alive by mosquitoes.

And I am planning on getting around to posting some of the photos that I’ve been taking, but right now the photos are on one device and I’m typing on another. This is Andrew’s laptop and since I don’t currently have easy access to my e-mail, the photos are gonna have to wait. Perhaps tomorrow. Or possibly later today, but Andrew has to be awake first.

Eyup. Big bunches of excitement when you go traveling with us boy howdy!

But we’re having fun.


Irony X 3

Filed under: @ 9:05 am

I was at the dentist last week. After I left her torture chamber I stopped at the Yak in My Socks to get something vaguely edible before I went to work.
At the drive through in front of me was a car with a bumper sticker that read: “Know your farmer, know your food!”
Which made me smile for the rest of the day.

And two days later I was picking up some snake snacks at our local pet store.
Y’all may not be familiar with Bully Sticks. Bully Sticks are…… Well they’re penis jerky. Dried, desicated steer penis in attractive (?) flavors and formations for your dog to chew.
So I’m at the pet store getting mice and kitty litter when I see the display of (I swear I’m not making this up) organic, grass fed, free range Bully Sticks. They even had the USDA organic certification on the label.
I don’t have a dog so maybe I’m missing something, but if you’re giving your dog a penis to chew, what difference does it make if it’s organic?

And the third I found just yesterday. Driving along in “downtown” Kailua, I noticed that in the parking lot for the McDonalds there are two spots designated “for drive through customers only!”
Which also made me smile.


To the best story goes the best care?

Filed under: @ 9:08 pm

Matt, having extensive experience in emergency medicine, probably knows the answer to this, but he probably can’t tell me. When you enter the realms of emergency medicine they probably make you take an oath not to reveal Certain Workings of the average ER on pain of being transferred to the maternity ward or something.

So since the genesis of this story begins with Chuck’s heart murmur, y’all will have to excuse me while I lay down some background.

Chuck, who will be 26 next spring, has never, EVER been an easy feeder.
About two years ago Chuck started in on one of his prolonged fasting periods. We’re familiar with them and they’re not unusual for male Ball Pythons so for a while we just ignored it. When the fasting had gone on for what we deemed long enough we started to assist feed (basically dip a dead mouse in olive oil and shove it down the snake’s throat…. isn’t veterinary medicine glamorous?).
Chuck, usually a fairly placid and phlegmatic snake, resolutely refused to be assist fed. We’d get the mouse partway down his gullet when *YACK* back it’d come.
So I took Chuck to my buddies at The Bird and Exotic Clinic of Seattle. In short order Tracy diagnosed a heart murmur, Dan ran his ultrasound over Chuck’s chest, we all agreed that Chuck’s heart looked a little enlarged and I arranged with a cardiologist friend of mine to do a cardiac ultrasound. For what it’s worth, if you want to make a veterinary cardiologist happy, ask him to do an ultrasound on a species that he’s never examined before. Toby was enchanted to be asked to do an echocardiogram on a snake.
So Chuck has been on heart meds ever since. Sometimes the medication works and he eats, sometimes it doesn’t and he won’t. When Chuck won’t eat voluntarily we tube feed him. We both realize that this is a failing proposition and Chuck’s end will come sooner rather than later, but for right now, tube feeding it is.

Chuck has refused to eat now since mid-June and we’ve been tube feeding him a revolting slurry of warm pureed canned cat food mixed with this horrendous powdered stuff called Carnivore Care. Tube feeding what basically amounts to a tube is really pretty easy. You make up your horrid slurry, fill a 60cc catheter tip syringe with it, attach an 18 gauge red rubber feeding tube, shove the feeding tube down the snake tube then fill the snake with the slurry. Easy peasy. Except when it isn’t.

Something went wrong with our feeding efforts today. The canned cat food we’ve been feeding the cats (and thus the snake) recently is (ergh) a little chunky. I thought I’d mashed up all the chunks, but one apparently got through and was craftily big enough to fit into the syringe, but not big enough to fit all the way down the feeding tube.
So we’re about 15cc into feeding when SPLORTCH!
The feeding tube disconnected from the syringe and the pressure I’d been applying to the syringe resulted in me firing pureed cat food and Carnivore Care *everywhere*. All over Andrew (he was holding the snake), all over the stove, the ceiling, the cupboards. The syringe wasn’t completely empty and Chuck hadn’t had near as much slurry as he needed, so we rolled our eyes, said a few Special Words, and re-attached the syringe to the feeding tube to finish the job.
Okay, NOW we’re done.

Andrew went to put the snake back in his tank and mop himself off (he was _drenched_), I went to grab rags and buckets and was presently standing on a chair in the kitchen mopping the sludge off the ceiling.
Andrew came in, sans pureed cat food, with the mop. Much frenetic cleaning.
Andrew had to move my chair to mop so I got down and was wiping down cupboards when I noticed more glop on the ceiling. I asked Andrew to shove the chair back to me so I could finish up.
“Okay, but be careful, the floor is slippery!”
So standing on a chair on a wet kitchen floor with soapsuds running down my arm and pureed cat food glop dripping from the ceiling I suddenly started to laugh.
Andrew asked me why I was laughing.
“Understand that I don’t *want* this to happen, but…. what do you suppose the reaction would be in the ER if I did fall off this chair and crack my head and when they asked me what had happened I said ‘Well, I was cleaning up the ceiling in the kitchen after I’d sprayed pureed cat food all over while trying to tube feed my snake…’ I mean, especially if you brought me in covered in pureed cat food and me with glop in my hair and (ecch!) in my EAR….”

Which got us both to wondering.
Sure if you’re in a car accident and break your arm you’re going to get care at the ER. They’ll be efficient and so on, but you know the attitude would be something along the lines of: “meh! It’s just a car accident. It’s just a broken arm.”
And the guy that comes in after having been “baking an apple pie in the nude and I slipped and fell on the apple but my hands were covered with butter and the apple was slippery and….” is going to get a LOT of attention from the ER nurses, the on call proctologist, and any random intern that happens to walk past. But probably, people being people, the ER staff is probably going to make you wait if for no other reason than they’d have to stop laughing before they could attend you. And probably at least _some_ of the wait would be what we tend to call a “stupid tax”.
But what happens with the person who has injured themselves in some spectacularly weird, and yet verifiable, way that isn’t a result of stupidity?

And I really _didn’t_ want to fall off that chair and crack my head on the soapy floor, but I’d probably have gotten a _lot_ of attention if I had.

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