Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dancing Queens

Man, did we have a great weekend! The highlights included TWO kinds of dancing, country and western.

OK, also Ballet. But first we went to a real honkytonk, the Broken Spoke. It was built in 1964, and has not suffered many updates at all. Plywood tables surround a narrow dancefloor, and a live band provided classic tunes - The Geesinslaws (kinda sounds like a drunkard saying "Geezers eatin' slaw"). The crowd was interesting - lots of over-the-hill couples who dourly waited with their beers for the band to start, then seriously started cutting a rug. Two separate thirty-something guys who stood by the cashier (not by the bar!), beer in hand, toes tapping and heads nodding to the music, eyes glued to the action on the dance floor but not asking anyone to dance. Oh yeah, and us - Kareen & Cole, Leah, and my clan.

Anthony, who has been anti-country for the last decade (since distancing himself from Aggieland), is ironically the only one of us with proper boots. Anna has a pink pair I got on clearance at Target that are 2 sizes too big. Colin wore hiking boots, and I wore heels. It didn't matter - there were Tony Lamas, heels, tennis shoes, and flipflops out there.

Since the band didn't come on until 9:15, the kids quickly tired out and were ready to go after a few tunes. Anthony indulged me in one 2-step before we left, but Anna came along - she held my left hand while Anth guided me cheek-to-cheek. Happy Birthday, Kareen!

Today, Anna and I went to Ballet Austin's Midsummer Night's Dream. She so eagerly anticipated this event! We got into our seats with plenty of time and read the plot summary in the program. As the lights came on and the overture played, Anna could hardly contain herself in her seat! "Oh, Mommy, when is it going to start!?! I want them to come out! I am so excited! When are they going to dance?" she said in her loud stage whisper.

Finally they did come out. It was fabulous, beautiful and also funny. Anna loved the physical comedy, and recognized some of the stuff she does in class. The whole family will have to go to the Nutcracker in a few months.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dude needs a trim

How did this hirsute guy end up on the cover of both our weekend entertainment rags, with the identical piercing, furry stare?

I like a guy with long hair, but seriously! It's not 1972 anymore. I want to give this guy some scissors for a mustache trim. Can you imagine eating with that over your mouth? Or kissing it?

Somebody's publicist is definitely earning their keep.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Glass Rod Technique

Have you ever been around a cat in heat? It is the most annoying, noisy, slutty thing you can imagine. Emily's cat Sabrina was in heat 13 years ago when I was in vet school and provided much entertainment for us vet students.

You see, cats are induced ovulators. They do not ovulate until they copulate. This is very efficient for breeding purposes, saving the eggs for release when they might actually be fertilized (and cats are certainly fertile!).

This also means cats will stay in heat for extended periods of time - weeks - then have a brief remission, and go right back again, UNLESS mating occurs.

I was presented with such a female today, driving her owner crazy with the all night howling and the sticking of her booty into anyone and everyone's faces. I told her I could make her go out of heat by stimulating her cervix with a cotton swab. This way everyone can sleep until the spay appointment (the permanent cure).

Cat sex is kinda rough. The male holds the female still by biting her scruff, and his penis has barbs (like a cat's tongue, no joke). There is a lot of vocalization, then the female turns and swats the male, hissing fiercely. She then licks herself and rolls luxuriously.

So, with my tech holding her scruff, I tickled her hind end, then inserted a lubricated cotton swab. This is called the "glass rod technique" but I've always used a swab, never something as dangerous and breakable as a glass rod! I stimulated her cervix, and we let her go.

When we did this to Sabrina years ago in her own home, she casually licked herself, then rolled, then rapidly and repeatedly twirled herself up and down the hall of our duplex. This really delighted all the students I called over to watch over a few beers. "I'm ovulating! I'm ovulating!" we imagined her crying out ecstatically.

The queen today was more reserved, since she was nervous at the vet clinic, but couldn't help but indulge in a few rolls. A good sign of successful stimulation. One client asked me if it cost extra to do this technique, but I assured her I did not charge extra - consider it included in the exam fee! It just seems wrong to charge for even simulated cat sex!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Honesty, its such a lovely word. Everyone is so untrue...

Anna told me that her school is focusing on "Honesty" this month. While Anthony was on a fruitless tech-support call and Colin left to go play with trains, Anna and I discussed this virtue. She listened really attentively, and also contributed to the conversation.

Who do you associate with honesty? Well, pretty soon we were talking about the old George Washington parable involving the cherry tree. I said, "How do you think we would feel if you chopped down one of our trees?"

"Oh, I would never do that!" Anna said very earnestly.

"OK, what if Colin chopped down one of my peach trees? How would that be?" I said.

Anna sucked in her breath and shook her head, saying, "Oh no!"

It's funny, when I asked her if she knew who George Washington was, she said, "Our president." I think she was confusing our first president with our current president. Unfortunately, I do not think our current or immediately former president epitomize honesty.

We talked some more about George the "father of our country", where to find his likeness, how he became the president, what he did before the war, and how our country was founded. What I have to Google now is Anna's questions - how many people voted for him (well, he got 100% of the electoral college's votes), and when/what did he die of? (December 14, 1799, aged 67, of laryngitis/pneumonia/blood letting)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Photo update

We were eating at our favorite local Thai restaurant Saturday night, and on Anna's 5th bite (she's very sure that's the one) she said, "Ow!" and Anthony plucked her front tooth out!

She was so chuffed with herself, and for the rest of the evening did a little dance in her chair. The waitresses all came over to make sure she was OK, then congratulated her, too.

The chicks keep growing (and peeping). They still could fit into a teacup, but are getting primary feathers on their wings and tail. Even at this tiny age, if we put them in the dirt, they scratch and eat tiny ants! It is very difficult to take a photo of them, because when I squat down they try to run under me like I'm a momma hen. We keep them in a bird cage on the porch, and at night they snuggle together in a little 4 inch pot Anthony put in there. They are so cute! In a week they'll be gawky teenagers. When they are nearly full size, we'll put them down in the chicken yard with the old girls, who will peck them mercilessly. There really is a pecking order, and most of it has to do with seniority. Still, these little chicks are very lucky, to get to live outside, to scratch and eat bugs, and never have their beaks cut off, which is the fate of most caged birds that give us eggs or meat. Those birds are packed 5 to a tiny cage too small to properly turn around, and never get a ray of sun or breath of fresh air. Sorry, I don't mean to be too soap-boxey, but it is a shame the way we treat most animals that we eat.

But, these girls will be happy hens and lay some tasty, healthy eggs!

Friday, September 21, 2007

New Chicks

Yesterday, Anthony took Anna to go get some new chicks to add to our flock. Our old hens just don't lay 'em like they used to, plus we find their numbers diminishing (down to 4 old hens).

They picked out two adorable wee chicks who adorably say, "Peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep."

Anna sat with them in her lap in the car and said, "Daddy, aren't they cute?"

The chicks said peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep.

Then Anna said, "Daddy?"

Peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep

"All this peeping is getting kind of annoying."

Peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep peep

Pictures soon....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Super Simple Meme

Google your name (or a variant of it) + "needs" and see what strikes your fancy.

Here's what I got:

Vet Jenn needs help!!!

Jenn needs a horse.

She needs another ultrasound.

Jenn's experience was extremely beneficial.

Jenn the vet has agreed to speak at our event.

Now you should try!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Weekend Recap

We worked outside a lot this weekend, even though it was very hot. We mowed and edged and mainly worked on the garden. We only levelled 2 more of the flagstones, making it a total of 4 now that are perfectly levelled and ready for mortar.

Here's the garden after we pulled up the spent tomato plants (leaving two tomatoes with fruit still on them: Mr Stripey and that wonderful variety, Juliet - it was the first to produce in May and is STILL going strong). Also out are the dried, spindly remains of the eggplant and cucumber vine. As sad as I am to see the bounty of summer go, and am so excited about the big patch of Arugula Anthony planted for me, as well as mesclun, broccoli, cauliflower, and red and green cabbages. (wish you were here to help me eat 'em, Mr Man!)

The flags and pinwheels are to keep the birds from eating our newly sprouted seeds. I cannot wait for these tasty greens! They are so easy to grow, and for a salad, just walk outside, pick a few fresh leaves, rinse them, and go! Always fresh, super healthy, and no bags in the landfill.

The soil is still to hot for our spinach and butter lettuces, so Anthony employed some child labor to start some seeds that will sprout indoors until we get some permanently cooler weather.

Gardening is so hilarious!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Black and White

All my surgery patients were black and white, today. Mostly kitties, and one border collie. Two of the kitties were mine. Time for the snip-snip and the clip-clip.

It's always a little scary working on your own pets. A neuter is no big deal, but a spay is an ovariohysterectomy, a big surgery with an open abdomen. These procedures, fortunately, went fine. As long as I didn't think about it being my personal cat, I was a calm, efficient surgeon.

I also did declaw both kittens. I realize this is controversial. In fact, in England it's banned. The vets I worked with there as a student thought it was horrible, and they could lose their liscense doing it.

The very first vet I worked with did declaws in a very cruel manner, and I swore I would never do it myself. However, after learning the proper technique (not that barbaric one) and with the benefits of multimodal anesthesia, I do not hesitate. My cats will never go outdoors, and my couch is made of leather.

At my clinic, the cats getting a declaw get an oral dose of anti-inflammatory pain reliever, and a morphine injection before we even start. The morphine blocks the pain receptors before they are even stimulated; the NSAID does likewise and prevents postop swelling. Before I cut, I block the cat's innervation to the paws with long-acting nerve blocks, again before pain receptors are engaged. These injections last far longer than your dentist's nerve blocks. Then we also place a fentanyl patch on the cat, which transdermally delivers opiods to the cat for the next 72 hours. After we're done, we give another morphine shot.

The cats are pretty blissful postoperatively.

My sweet, spoiled kitties also did manage to follow the rule about employee pets - the one that says they are always the ones to have special problems. They develop cardiac arrhythmias, or buck anesthesia, or have a bleeder you have to go back and get, etc. My kitties, both of them, decided to pull the bandages off their paws after recovery.

The answer to that is a kitty straight jacket! (works a lot like bundling an infant)

Sorry for the crappy cell phone picture. That's Kareen holding Fratello.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Almost as stinky as Krispy

I did not shower this morning, since I took Francesca dog on our usual jog after dropping the children off at school.

I did not shower later in the day, since I helped Anthony move 4,350 lbs of rocks for our new walkway. This wasn't lots of rocks, either, but a few huge, heavy flagstones. Placing them in a pleasing way on the curvy path was like a large, laborious, sweaty jigsaw puzzle. (Ah, ah! No peeking! We still need a few more stones to fill the holes, and we need to level them all. THEN I'll show it to you.)

Rest assured, tonight's shower was lovely.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Overly long vet story about corneas

Last week I had a recheck appointment that I was pretty nervous about. I had been treating a young dog with a corneal ulcer for a long time, and everyone's patience was wearing thin.

It started back in July when the poor dog got stung by a bee or wasp. Her face swelled to comic proportions. It was very itchy so she scrubbed her face. Shortly after the owners got home from work they rushed her to me with a fat face and a red, swollen, squinty eye.

I put a small amount of a fluorescent dye in her eye. The dye will stick anyplace the corneal epithelium is not intact, and then it will glow under a black light. Sure enough, she had a glowing green circular defect on her cornea.

Corneal ulcers are quite painful. They cause squinting, tearing, and light sensitivity. They are slow to heal, since there is no blood supply to the cornea. The cells get their oxygen through diffusion through the air. This unfortunately leaves injuries like this ripe for infection.

I gave the dog an antihistmine shot, pain reliever, and antibiotic drops for her eye. A week later at recheck, the defect no longer stained, but this sweet husky mix had become extremely head shy! She did not want her eye examined or stained, and was very proficient at tossing her head away and squeezing her eyelids shut. Fortunately the ulcer appeared gone.

However, about a month later her owner brought her in for squinting and eye pain. Now her eyelids were all stained from the tears. The ulcer stained positive again. Why it came back, I am not sure - maybe it didn't heal completely in the deeper layers, or maybe her eyelashes irritated it. I could also see that it had become an indolent ulcer.

This sounds like an ulcer with an attitude, but it really refers to the way the epithelium rolls up on itself at the edge of the crater, instead of covering across the top of it. The treatment is to numb the eye, debride the edge with a sterile swab, and perform a keratotomy. With a tiny needle, the veterinarian makes a series of cuts/scratches in a grid pattern over the ulcer; lines crossing from the normal corneal epithelium to the ulcerated across to the normal epithelium on the other side. It seems counterintuitive to "scratch" the injured eye, but it leaves a path for the cells to grow across.

In theory, you can do this in an awake animal with a numbed cornea (and I have done it before). However, this girl, even with a mild tranquilizer, was having none of it, and was tossing her head forcefully while I had a needle very close to her eye! I debrided it but could not get the keratotomy done. I gave the owner two choices: I could anesthetize her and do it properly, or they could resume the drops and recheck in a week to see if debridement alone would work.

The owner complained a little about how much this whole ordeal was costing him, and opted for the latter. As you can guess, at the one week recheck, she still had an indolent ulcer. I could see the lip of epithelium floating on top of the ulcer, refusing to heal.

Again I recommended anesthesia and keratotomy. The owner agreed, saying, "Yes, do it, if its going to work."

Ah, well, yes, its supposed to work, its always worked for me before, but nothing is guaranteed in medicine. Now I was feeling a little performance anxiety. Would this owner be so understanding if my treatment failed?

Once my patient was under, I debrided her eye then cross-hatched the ulcer in a keratotomy. I pulled up her third eye lid, looking for foreign objects like plant material, and examined the edge of her eyelids looking for errant eyelashes, anything that might keep the ulcer from healing. At the last minute, I rolled her lower lid out a bit and tacked it with two stay sutures, just in case all that squinting she was doing was brushing her fur across the eye, hindering the epithelialization. The sutures looked almost like two fallen false eyelashes. "See you in a week for a recheck," I told them.

So, it was with a little trepidation I went into the room. I wanted this dog to heal as much as she did and her owner!

I was pleased with her appearance when she greeted me. No squinting, and the tear staining was starting to fade from around the eye. She didn't fight me too much for the fluorescein stain. "The moment of truth," I thought to myself, as I swung around with the black light.

Complete success! Nothing stained; there was just a shiny, happy cornea. "Hopefully I won't be seeing you all for a while!" I said, as we said our goodbyes. Whew!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Anna and I do W.A.R.

I am so proud of my little Anna! She and I did the Women's Adventure Race today. Long time readers of my blog will remember that Emily and I did this event two years ago, twice. This year they encouraged mother-daughter teams, and Anna has been dying to do an athletic event with me. This was the perfect opportunity.

The race course was a 1-mile jog, followed by a short swim, then another 1-mile jog. Interspersed in the jog were "mystery events" - anything from tossing a rubber chicken through a hoop, playing croquet, or solving a math problem. This was great for my little sprinter - Anna can do the distance but needs lots of breaks to keep firing her bursts of energy.

There also is a costume contest, and Anna suggested we be "colors." I executed the crayola costumes, and I was thrilled with how they turned out. Unfortunately, this year there were many clever costumes (pirates, The A-Team, Pink Ladies, and even Paris & Nicole) and we did not win a prize. Also, our camera was not cooperating so this picture just as we finished is the only one Anth got on our camera (hopefully more to come from Oma's camera). We had just finished the obstacle course, so our crayola hats are a little wilted. Many people had nice comments on our costume, including one lady who said Anna was such a cute crayon, she almost wanted to break her! (To which Anna said, NO!) Please click for more detail (like notice the trouper of a dad to my right, with one twin in the stoller, one behind him wailing, and the baby in the Bjorn).

Here is a picture of our hats, after the shower. We had a great day, marred only by the fact that they ran out of the promised post-race burritoes before we got one (don't ask - it still raises my blood pressure). We had a really great time, despite the 97 degree temps. We'll definitely be back next year, hopefully with more friends, and with our own food.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Colin is devastatingly cute and grown up with his new, short-boy haircut. The long 70s look was great while he had curls, but since he seems to be growing straight hair now, its better when its shorter and shorter. Plus, he is so gender-conscious in everything! It's all boy/girl, black/white, ying/yang with him. And, of course, everything boy is better. If we weren't careful, I'm sure we'd have a little male chauvinist piglet on our hands.

He's also very tender-headed, so the minimal grooming is appreciated, also.

He is very difficult to photograph, moving precisely when I press the button, or pulling some crazy "fat turkey" face. He is always game to pose while holding (terrorizing?) the kittens.

While Anna is extremely gifted linguistically, Anthony and I have always joked that Colin speaks English as a second language. (Don't ask me what the first was). I have written down some of the adorable things he's come up with this summer:

"That he do." ...we hear this one frequently

"Shoes is a great place for your feet."

"Nice potty you got there, Daddy!"

"He didn't PATCH, Mommy." ...referring to an egg

"Goodnight. Now go out, Daddy. This is my bed....but I can share!"

"This is a boy train. You don't need tickets." ...referring to my Highlander

"My penis is folded the wrong way."

"Stinky cheese makes me feel yummy." Amen, brother!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Home improvement

Here is the pathway that we dug out, finished just as the big fat drops started falling.

Today Anthony got a load of "road base" which is really just granite dust. It will be the layer underneath the large flagstones that will one day form our new walkway. The kids very enthusiastically helped him to unload the stuff, which looks a little like cake mix but is MUCH heavier.

Plummer butt!

For some reason, Anna likes to wear one of her knitted hats while helping us do yardwork.

If only you could hear the happy shrieking!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Still here!

I got a call from NYC tonight complaining about my lack of posting! Yeah, I understand; I feel the same way when I check my blogroll and no one has posted.

What have I been doing? Well, lots of landscaping. I'm pleased to report this weekend we chiseled out a space in our hard Texas soil for a nice future curvy pathway in our front yard (watch this space for a future photo; I'm currently on the laptop due to my computer having problems).

What else? Working, herding kids, two cats, and a catahoula (who requires jogging a few times a week); I cleaned and organized my pantry (woo-hoo!), and every night I read a tiny bit of Harry Potter -- I hate for it to end!