Monday, December 29, 2008

Overly full

Sorry for the infrequent posting here, which seems to be afflicting all my favorite blogs much like a virus making the holiday rounds. Of course, it is that most wonderful time of year, when we have so much to do, so many obligations to fill, and the kids are out of school.

Also, it's about this time of the holiday week when I start to feel that malaise - after all the happy anticipation of the Christmas programs, parties, visits from relatives that I truly enjoy having around, happily planning and preparing the feasts of the day, suddenly I am faced with a mountain of new toys and clothes that need to find places to live, packing material to sort and recycle, and all these decorations that I love to pack away. It's like crashing down from a Christmas sugar high. Meh.

I do have one more celebration to look forward to: New Year's Eve. We'll be making a beef tenderloin with more tasty sides, and I think there will be another batch of shortbread tarts with lemon curd.

Also, my Italian friend wrote to me today and told me about the Christmas dinner she made for her extended family: "Panettone gastronomico with fish, insalata russa all made at home, terrina di pollo, fish ravioli hand made at home, fried fish (fritto misto), mix of vongole, cozze, fasolari, tartufi di mare, cowliflour with capperi, anchiovies, peppers salad and finally a nice decorated panettone with mascarpone cream!" Wow! I know the Italiani traditionally eat fish at Natale, wonder if I could convince Anthony? (not a chance! I'm lucky he graciously tries my lamb)

Friday, December 26, 2008

It was a great Christmas here

We had real German bratwurst on Christmas eve, eggs benedict on Christmas morning, then traditional English Christmas dinner - roast leg of lamb, mint sauce, roast potatoes, green beans, broccoli from the garden, shortbread tarts with lemon curd, etc. We were pleased to have both sets of Grandparents and Anthony's niece and nephew to celebrate with us - a full house, indeed.

If you read my dad's blog, I'm sorry but you may have already seen this. I am so glad that he caught this moment. Anna has been really interested in "The Little Drummer Boy," this year, and we practiced it a lot (like at bathtime). After our big Christmas dinner, she performed it (with spontaneous backup harmony):

I am also glad she and Colin did not ruin the moment by changing it to "...I played my BUM for him, Pah Rum Pah Pam BUM!" a substitution that always reduced them to mirthful glee!

Other great holiday Colinisms:

"Daddy, is Oma in charge of you?"

"Mommy, did you know fish have no necks?"

"Daddy, my teacher says Daddies DO, too, fart!"

Happy Holidays from Vetmommy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Images of the Season

We have so many good images already this holiday season. Here are just a few at my fingertips.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cookie Time

Since we didn't have ballet practice yesterday (yea!) we made some Christmas cookies. I made all kinds of suggestions, but the kids wanted archetypal cookies they could cut out with cookie cutters. They turned out great.

These were shortbread cookies from my favorite baking website, Joy of Baking. (I added 1/2 tsp almond extract, because almondy cookies taste like Christmas to me.) I like to cook, not bake, but this site brings out my sweet tooth. The woman who runs it has an English heritage like me, so I love her shortbreads (an entire section!), scones, muffins, etc.

Anth was inspired, too, and made us a batch of his precisely perfect chocolate chip cookies. He has gotten this recipe down to an engineering masterpiece, timed to make consistently yummy, moist cookies. One of my favorite things on earth, especially since they appear without any effort from me! Click the pic in my side bar for the recipe.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Little Ladies Dancing

Anna had her ballet Christmas recital today. I couldn't wait for it - I was excited about rehearsals being over, but also, I couldn't wait to see the show, which did not dissappoint.
Anna had three parts: a gingerbread cookie (above), a bead (below), and...

..a skater.
She's just to the left of the snowman. I loved this beautiful costume, with its faux fur trim and muff.

Curtain call (Anna is dead center).

She was thrilled to have so many fans in the audience: Nana and Grandad, Cinda and Beverly, Regina, her teacher...

Even Patches.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When it's cold in Texas

you break out all your winter gear!

Last night we were treated to some sleet, and the kids were thrilled to see it this morning. Anna said, "Colin, maybe if we both pile it all together, we can make a snowman." Poor baby. Hopefully we'll see real snow when we go to Colorado in February.

Here, Anna and Colin point out the accumulated frozen precipitate, in case you missed it.

We also caught a big opossum last night right before the cold front blew in. Anthony moved him into the shed, gave him a few dog food kibbles, and covered him with a towel when the sleet started. I drove him to the lake at midday to let him go. I intended to jog afterwards, but with the wind it was way too cold. So I sat in the car and watched the poor possum wander around for about 15 minutes while I listened to my "This American Life" podcast and Francesca whined. While I didn't feel sorry for him last month when I was beating his bottom with a bamboo stick for hurting my hen, I did feel sorry for him today. Eventually he did find a low laying area with brush and seemed to settle down. This is actually the third possum we've gotten. There was also a cat and a squirrel (oops).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Maybe NaBloPoMo isn't such a good idea if it makes you not want to post for a week...

Anna and I at Steph's Christmas Tea

Fancy hairdo a la Stephanie

Nothing makes sleepy school kids smile like hot chocolate for breakfast!

My patients today - exhausted mom with her nursing puppy after caesarian section.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last Day of NaBloPoMo!

Whoopee for me, I did it. Feels a little like the triathlon this year, though - no one did it with me. Except Sinda! even though she got way-laid by thanksgiving.

I can't believe tomorrow is December. Here's where the roller coaster goes into turbo mode. Anna and I are in Houston, ready for Steph's annual Christmas Tea. Watch this spot for fancy photos. Although, I might take tomorrow off of blogging...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Extreme canine makeover

Unfortunately, I had to work today, and we were quite busy. I felt a little sneaky, because in addition to the scheduled surgeries, I added in my dad's chihuahua, Patches. After my dad left for his big cruise, my mom mentioned how bad her breath had gotten, and I could see it was time for a dental cleaning. I offered to take her to work the next day and take care of it. The thing is I didn't specifically discuss doing the procedure with him, and I felt a bit like I was doing something unauthorized.

I found the source of her halitosis (an abcessed molar), pulled it and cleaned the rest. She did great, and now is in recovery at my house, until I take her to Houston Sunday. I also did her toenails and anal glands, so she is like a new dog!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Rub-a-dub-dub, 4 friends in the tub!

Thanksgiving table, almost ready to go...

Anna insisted we all play Monopoly. She got all 4 railroads and both utilities, then loaded up her properties with houses and hotels. She happily bankrupted us all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Under the wire post

Tonight we are having too much fun to post - having an UnThanksgiving meal of steak, tiny green beans, roasted potatoes, and gougeres! Oh, and a few bottles of wine. More fun and feasting tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Having Too Much Fun

Every morning Colin wakes up, eyes me suspiciously, and asks, "Is Emily still here? She didn't go back to New York?" Fortunately, she is staying through Saturday.

Tonight we took her to eat some good TexMex at Chuy's. We all tried to consume our yearly allotment of queso. Anna even ordered her burrito "flooded in queso."

Tomorrow, Lisa and co. arrive for a visit, and my parents come, too. There will be lots of visiting, wine drinking, and food preparation. Then its turkey day - more feasting!

Someone at work (who doesn't spend much time with her family) asked me, "Do you really like having all those people around?" YES. It will be crowded and messy, and I'm sure we'll get on each other's nerves at some point, but to be around all these wonderful people, and to see my kids enjoying their extended family -- totally worth it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What time is it?!?

Celebrating Auntie Emily's visit here...

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Anna noticed this at the edge of the yard when she was drinking her morning milk.

He's really tiny, so I don't think he's the same possum terrorist. Anthony relocated him to a more rural area later. He said the guy at the feed store has caught two opossums and one raccoon in his havaheart trap. He shot them the next morning. Kinda havnoheart, don't ya think?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Can't Go

We had a brisk Saturday at work today. I had an emergency work-in -- an elderly lady brought in her beloved cat.

"She vomited three times this morning, and she's been in and out of the litter box, like she's trying to poop. She peed, but I think she's constipated." Sometimes cats will vomit from constipation, but when I palpated this girl she didn't have any stool in her colon.

Often owners will mistake straining for constipation when in fact their pet is straining because of diarrhea, the opposite problem. This lady was sure there was no diarrhea. Also, straining sometimes happens from a bladder infection, but again, she said the cat was posturing for defecation.

My client was so sweet, so concerned about her feline companion, and polite and friendly in that old-fashioned way. The cat was short and stocky. "Maybe I just can't feel the stool. Let me take a lateral Xray to make sure she's not constipated," I said. Meanwhile the poor cat vomited again.

Her colon was truly empty on the Xray, but there was a large clump of stool in her rectum, between the pelvic inlet and the poop outlet. So we were both right- she was constipated, but it wasn't in her colon. I took the cat to the back, put on a glove, and quickly helped the cat get rid of the two wide compacted turds in her rectum. Whew!

I gave her an antinausea injection when I returned her to the owner. "I just knew something was wrong," she said, "and I was worried about coming up on the weekend. Thank you; I am so glad to have met you!" So kind! She seemed as relieved as her cat.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Colorful character

I saw a cute little cat today. She had a sore on her side and the tip of her ear was gone.

"Was she a former stray that got her ear tipped?" I asked. This often happens when feral cats are caught and spayed or neutered; that way you can tell if the cat is altered from a distance. Sometimes the "feral" cats are so nice, they end up in homes.

"No, the parrot did that," the owner said. "She tried to get into the cage and he lopped her ear off. You have to be careful with those yellow-headed amazons. They can take your finger off!"

The cat had a nickel sized opening in her skin that had been there for about a month. It wasn't healing because of infection, and was probably due to another cat's bite. She needed oral antibiotics to heal this one.

"Yeah, I cleaned it and put some Monkey Blood on it!" Not real monkey blood. My technician informed me "monkey blood" is a country colloquialism for Iodine. Not nearly as exciting as clindamycin.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Only one way to go from here

Anna excels at school. Her last report card had all high A's, so they gave her an "I Improved My Grades" ribbon at the last pops rally. Hmph.

Everyday we get a report on her behavior, with a color coded scale. She almost always gets "blue" - no behavior mistakes.

"You know," Anthony said, "Anna's been getting some Greens."

"Yeah?" I said.

"Yeah, less than perfect behavior!" he said.

Whatever will we do!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Field Trip

I got to help with the kindergarten field trip to a local educational farm today. The weather was glorious-- sunny, cool, dry, and the kindergarteners have learn enough rules to brave the trip.

First thing we did was take a hayride to see Ostriches.

After visiting the dairy barn (by far the best part of the trip), we were ushered into the barn to watch a boring power point video of the animals on the farm. Um, we're here, so shouldn't we just go see the animals? Soon, we did, visiting typical farm animals like snakes and bearded dragons!

Then we walked around to see more traditional farm animals, like donkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, and of course, fairies.

Colin was so thrilled to have me there, giving me lots of spontaneous hugs, and also insisting on holding his buddies hand AND my hand. There was a picnic lunch, then time for posing for pictures, this one with silly faces:

It was a great cause to give up my day off.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Check this out!

My uncle's wife, Gail, competed in the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon last weekend, and she WON! Those are some amazing legs.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Answers to your burning questions

Dear readers, thank you so much for all your comments. I often intend to respond to your questions in the comment section, but then I read comments on the fly, checking email on my way out the door or at work. I answer them mentally, and intend to write the response, but rarely do. So here we go, in no particular order...

What did you do with the arugula? It was so good and I have a batch from my CSA to prepare.

Arugula is so tasty, and one of my favorite things on earth, it really needs very little done to it. At Sinda's party, I squeezed 1/4 lemon over it, drizzled generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and tossed it all together. You can substitute balsamic vinegar for the lemon. Toss in nuts, goat cheese, or croutons if you like. I also like it chopped up over sandwiches, tacos, or rolled up in prosciutto or bresaola.

Too bad that Midge couldn't come to the party. Is she anything like Midge on Mad Men?

No. She is a bird rehabilitator in Midland, Texas. Crazy about her work in the best sort of way.

What about hiring one of the teen ballerinas to shuttle Anna to these extra (ballet rehearsals)?
Great idea, except the oldest dancers at our studio are 14, and they don't live near us.

Possums are nasty. Is Chicka ok?
Yes, gracias dios. She layed low the next day - I'm sure she was sore - and since then has been perky.

Can you imagine a worse time to get a puppy than when a family is trying to settle into a new house and routine? (re: Obama)

Laura, you wouldn't believe the stupid moments people get a puppy. Like women in their 3rd trimester (this happens a LOT). Lots of people get puppies just before moving. Or getting two puppies at the same time - I always advise against this, for multiple reasons. I am hoping the Obama puppy will have a (paid) caretaker, and staff to help pick up after it. I did hear that the Bush's dog bit a journalist recently.

I am curious to know when your migraines started.

My migraines started two years ago this month. I woke up with a headache so bad I vomited. I was misdiagnosed with a sinus headache. It happened again a few months later, and again, the same misdiagnosis. I went to my regular GP, and he said, "A headache that lasts 3 days isn't just allergies. You have migraines." Thank you! Since then I've had them about once a quarter. I heard a great piece on Fresh Air about a new book called, "The Migraine Brain," that I want to order.

I'm sure you'll keep a good eye on your kitties' teeth to prevent as much loss as possible. Do you brush their teeth?

No. But I know people who do, and some even use an electric toothbrush!

Should race have anything to do with electing the best candidate?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cheers to a great weekend, snatched from the jaws of sickness

The Girls' Night was a total success. Sweeter, perhaps, because I almost missed it! Sinda made me a great new cocktail that was prosecco, St. Germaine, Lillet, and lemon twist. It was so great to see Lisa again. I was able to convince her that Arugula could be a finger food, appropriate for a cocktail party! Kris had a brush with illness but also rallied for the event, which turned into a fun sleepover, and brunch with mimosas, and 30Rock watching, and lots of gabbing, and a final El Chilito run so Lisa could get some TexMex before returning to CO.

The best news is that she is likely to return to TX thanksgiving week, this time with all her family, so Anth and Anna and Colin won't be so jealous!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Go Away

On the agenda today was a Girls' Afternoon and Night Out, with a sleepover, with a friend back in town -- I haven't seen her in over a year.

Not on the agenda, a monster Migraine. Wham!

However, I took my medicine and a two hour nap. Removing myself from all sensory input seems to have appeased the beast which was squeezing my brain. So even though I am late, I am declaring victory over this one and heading out to have some fun. I just hope this feeling lasts...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not feeling very inspired tonight

Anna says I should write about her snail. Last week she got a snail for her fish tank. She named him Alan. He died after a week, and Anna was very sad. She got a new snail and named him Jason.

Day 13, and I've hit the NaBloPoMo wall.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sorry, good-bye.

One of our good clients, who uses her own money and time to rescue lots of cats, dropped off 3 kittens for me to see today. They had been examined earlier in the week by another doctor, who diagnosed ringworm and a mild upper respiratory virus, as well as general unthriftiness.

Since then, one of the kittens had died, and the rest got worse. The mom, who only weighed a little more than 4 pounds herself and was "wild as a hare," had abandoned the litter in a move for survival. Not a good sign.

The kittens were in a pile. Two of them were scrawny, emaciated and dehydrated. Their little noses were so clogged with snot, they were breathing open-mouthed. Cats make really thick, impenetrable mucus, and they cannot blow their noses. They looked at me with distant, goopy eyes and mewed weakly. Their skin was patchy with hair loss and crust. Their bottoms were soiled. One of them had crackles in his tiny lungs, the other I couldn't hear lung sounds at all. When I put them down, they huddled again in a pile.

There was one orange kitten, though, who was sitting up, meowing and sneezing, snotty-nosed but quite full of personality. He weighed 1 pound, while his littermates were just 0.5 lbs, and his temp was normal when theirs was very low.

I applied saline to all of their noses to loosen the snot, gave the failing ones some subcutaneous fluids, and called the client. "Do everything you can, if you think you can save them." Oh, boy. I wanted to save them, but I really felt like even if I did a lot for these guys, they would die on me. I told her that they were suffering. "What should I do?" she asked. I told her she should let the two failing ones go, and focus her efforts on the perky "red-head." She agreed.

I gave the little kitties a sedative, and they huddled by their big brother and fell asleep. Then I overdosed them, and they died peacefully. It made me sadder than I thought it would. I can fight a lot of ills, but these two had too much going against them (pneumonia, virus, fungal infection), and no reserves to shore up their immune system. I knew it was the right decision, but I still hated it.

The little orange kitty got nebulized (a treatment with aerosolized medications) and a new antibiotic, along with his previous medications. He'll pull through, and I'll see him for a recheck in 2 weeks. He is a survivor.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

'Possum Problem

Twice Anthony has had to chase an opossum out of the hen house after midnight. Saturday night I was still up when we heard for the third time the unhappy clucking of the chickens.

I was walking down to the chicken yard while Anthony got a flash light when the clucks turned into screams. I ran but I couldn't see anything. When Anthony got there, we saw that Chicka the China was hunkered down in the hay, bleeding from her ear.

The problem with the opossum is that it plays dead when Anthony first pokes at it to get it out of the chickens' hutch. Then it hisses and shows its mean teeth (like an R.O.U.S.), but can't figure out how to get out. He keeps getting stuck in the corners. This time, in addition to the PVC pipe Anthony used, I had a bamboo stick to help steer it out of corners, then away from the house. We didn't want to kill it, although I deeply considered it after seeing my bleeding hen. I beat him on the butt repeatedly with my stick, yelling, "Get out of my yard and never come back!!!" In the adrenaline rush, I got a big scratch on the back of my right hand that I did not even feel at the moment.

I do not trust that I was fearsome enough to keep the opossum from coming back, however, so I have borrowed a "Have-A-Heart" trap from work. Hopefully next time we will catch him and relocate him.

Retelling this story at work, a coworker asked me, "Do you say 'opossum' or 'possum'?" I say Opossum, unless I am talking pretty quickly, then I revert to the southern Possum. However, others had not even heard of Opossum.

"Maybe the 'O' is silent?" one asked.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Odds and Ends

1. The police stand-off was still on going when I went to bed at 11 pm. All quiet when I got up at 6 am.

2. Colin still loves his fish. He said, "I want them to kiss me good-night." I told him fish don't do that. He put his fingers at the top of the tank, and the dalmatian mollies pecked at his fingertips.

3. I exchanged a pair of wellies (rubber boots) for a bigger size for Colin today. They are making my kitchen smell like a tire store.

4. For her bedtime story, Anna chose to read the newspaper tonight. She wanted to read about Bush showing Obama the White House, and also read about a kid who was injured by a bomb in Bagdad, and how children in Austin placed 700 little red flags on top of piles of dog doo at the city park to draw attention to the disgusting fact that most dog owners do not pick up after their dog.

5. Something really funny happened at work today, and I thought, "That's it! My blog post for tonight." Damn if I can remember it now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stand Off

I live in a quiet suburb, on a sleepy little cul-de-sac street. Which was blocked off by 6 cop cars when we drove home from ballet today.

They let me pull in to my driveway but would not tell me what was going on. They did tell me to go in the house and stay inside. I called the police non-emergency line, and got the same thing. "We can't tell you what's happening, but we have it under control!" If you say so.

Fortunately, another neighbor called to tell me that my neighbor across the cul-de-sac has an adult bipolar son who was acting in a threatening manner, and was apparently in a room with a weapon. While we ate dinner, we could hear the police bullhorn saying, "You have to come out. You are not in trouble. We want to get you help. You need to come out now."

Two hours later, its quieter but apparently still not resolved. It is nice to know that four other neighbors called me to find out what was going on. It's kinda like a bad TV movie out there right now. I hope it is resolved quickly and uneventfully.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Because there are not enough animals in this house

A friend is moving, so we got her tank and put it in Colin's room. He is SO happy. Stacy and Luis even delivered it and set it up for us!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Ballet Blues

Anna loves ballet. She has several parts in the upcoming Christmas show. One thing I love about her ballet studio is that the young students are very prepared for the performances. There are students of many levels doing different choreography at the same time during the show. There isn't a teacher up there prompting them with the steps.

All this preparation takes time, though. In addition to regular class on Mondays, there are a lot of weekend rehearsals. Today she was scheduled to be there from 2:30-3:30 to practice the Gingerbread cookies' tap routine, then from 4:45-7 for Act 2 run-through. Fortunately that got shortened to just 5:45. And also she doesn't mind staying at the studio between rehearsals as long as I pack her a snack and a book. That's good, because going back and forth 4 times would add up to over 2 hours of driving.

There is another long run-through tomorrow, too.

I may be a little tired of the driving, but Anna isn't tired of ballet. If she was getting burned out, I would cut it back. She seriously loves going, and beams when she's performing on stage. It's great exercise, and the extra rehearsals don't cost us extra in tuition. Driving her there is the least I can do.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Anna is tickled that Obama has promised his daughters a new puppy.

There is a note on my desk tonight:

Dear Mommy,
May I Please have a dog. I would take care of it mostly.
- Anna

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fill in the blanks

The other day as I was getting ready to head out the door to work, Colin asked me, "How do cats mate?"

My children know the basic biology of where babies come from, but I wasn't ready for a huge discussion.

"What do you mean?" I said.

"You know, like how bugs mate. How do cats mate?"

I said, "Well, the male cat gets on top of the female cat..."

I paused, not sure what level of detail was going to be needed.

"And the female cat pushes the babies out, right?" Colin said triumphantly

Yes, son, exactly.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On Hope

Tuesday night the kids knew something was up because we were watching TV before they went to bed. They tried to stay up, too, but we sent them to bed. Anna kept coming out for updates. She wanted to know for sure when Obama won, so she could do a victory dance.

She was asleep when we went in to tell her he was called the winner. But the next morning, it was her first question. I told her that he'd won, and people all over the country were dancing.

Anna ran in to tell sleeping Colin. "Guess who the new president is?" Colin said, "Varack Ovama?" YES!

Anthony had stayed up until 2am watching the reaction and chatting with Jessica, our former babysitter who just started Law School in Chicago (you must read her post about being there). Anthony was in a daze, happy, relieved, and amazed by the spontaneous outpouring of people in New York, Washington DC, LA, and even London, Australia, etc.

This election night has been so unique. I remember in 2000 being amazed the winner still wasn't certain the next morning - in fact we didn't know for a month. And I was surprised by how depressed I was when Bush was reelected in 2004 - not that the alternative choice was that great. Then Bush declared he had a mandate to push through his policies, capital that he intended to spend. His hubris was nauseating.

This time around was different, and not just because my candidate won. McCain gave a gracious and moving concession speech, and reminded us of the old honorable McCain we admired before he embarked on a Rovian campaign. Obama's speech was also moving, especially since he said he would listen to those who didn't vote for him. It wasn't a gloating victor's speech, but a uniting, positive vision for the future. Then, the spontaneous outpouring of celebration. We were proud of our country, for electing a black man, for taking a positive step in the midst of so much bad news, for the respect the two opponents showed each other. For, despite recession, war, and partisan divisions, daring to hope.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hi Mom!

This was my patient for today. She's the mom of my cats, Fratello and Sorella. She's only 3 years old, but had terrible periodontal disease. She had some pain while chewing (a subtle sign her owner noticed), and an area with gum infection over one tooth. However, Xrays revealed that she needed 4 molars pulled! Poor baby. She looks so much like my cats - tiny and soft like her daughter Sorella, but with the same markings and whiskers as her son Fratello.

I hope they didn't inherit her dental genes...

Monday, November 03, 2008

I love the Italians...

Happy Election Day on Miercoledi, tutti!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Daylight Savings

Thank goodness daylight savings finally ended so we could "fall back." The days are getting shorter, and it's been far too dark in the mornings. As I recall, they extended the beginning and end of daylight savings to stimulate the economy (since people tend to shop more if it is light at the end of the day). Thank goodness that worked!

We had an extra hour today, a worthy extravagance on such a beautiful fall Sunday. However, it seemed to melt away like an extra pat of butter on your hot morning muffin. Anna and I went to the bookstore then Petsmart to get some new fish, then she had another extra ballet rehearsal. Colin and Anthony dug out weeds in the front yard. Hanging laundry. Grilling steak and veggies. New bottle of wine to try. Halloween candy to plunder.

Yeah, I could take an extra 24 hours like these...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaBloPoMo -- again?

It is November 1st (must remember to give dog her heartworm preventative) and the first day of NAtional BLOg POsting MOnth.


Do I want to do this again? I am always glad to get started, and glad to complete it, but the reality of the chore that posting every day for a month really is -- I start feeling it by day 10, and it doesn't let up. I know my loyal readers like it, and I like the discipline of it, but after ending such a busy month (and completing 'PoMo the past 2 years), I am feeling a little dread.

Anyone with me?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Goodbye October!

Where did this month go? It was far too busy. Yesterday I drove to Texas A&M and spent the day with my dental mentor at the vet school.

I had not been to the vet school since I graduated 13 years ago. I got a little thrill pulling into town and seeing all the big familiar buildings. Inside the vet school so much was the same, for example the art and posters on the walls were exactly the same that were hanging when I was in school. Back then I hardly noticed them. Also, it smelled exactly the same. However, I think they moved every single department in the small animal clinic, and now have expanded with a big ICU. Also new: there is a small room totally dedicated to dentistry. This is a great improvement, since when I was in vet school, we had about two hours TOTAL in dentistry education, and there was no dentist on staff.

It was a very educational day for me. I got to see a root canal, a mandibular fracture repair, and this little ferret, who had fractured a tooth extracted:
He's getting a dental X-ray.

Some fun pictures from the clinic today:
A flying monkey, a la Wizard of Oz.

She's a turtle!

Uh, self-explanatory.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photos for You

For Lisa, my Farmers' Market haul:
OK, the pumpkins were previously purchased and are there just for decoration. There is a small watermelon, that Colin picked out but was a total DUD, completely unripe. The ugly pears, just 75 cents each, are delicious, and there were 5 but Colin totally consumed on while we walked, leaving only a small marble-sized core which contained the seeds. The fresh green beans were steamed and tossed with leftover pomodoro sauce, and eaten with a yummy risotto ai fungi made from just one of those huge portobellos. The yellow tomatoes tasted better than the red. Not pictured: Berkshire pork, used to make potstickers (see the food blog).

For Melissa, my new purse:

It is beautiful and I love it. I just wish it was a smidgen bigger.

And now, some early Halloween pictures!
Anna is the Lilac Fairy (from Sleeping Beauty -she's the one who changed the curse from Aurora dying at the needle prick to sleeping until a prince kissed her). Repurposed ballet costume with perfectly matching $6 fairy wings.

And Colin as Peter Pan. He is as thrilled with his homemade costume as I am. Is Peter's sword supposed to be a Light Saber? Oh well!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Not the way I would write the ending

Last week a long time patient of ours was finally euthanized. It was time - past time - but unfortunately when he crashed his usual doctor was out. When his kidney values reached astronomic levels, another doctor had to tell his owners it was time. "But you don't know what he's been through! You don't know what he's come back from!" they countered. True, but when the kidney levels are that high, there is no recovery. Of course, you could tell that from looking at the poor cat, but the owners, blinded by love (in this case, literally), could not see how dire it was. Finally, they permitted a swift, peaceful death, even though it was about a week too late.

A dachsund is on my schedule; "dragging back legs," is the complaint. It's an eleven year old dog who hasn't received any veterinary care in over two years. Even worse: he has a history of back problems, and hasn't been walking since the day before. And had been wobbly on his feet a few days before.

Here's how spinal injury in dogs works: a disk from between the vertebrae protrudes and puts pressure on the spinal cord. The disks of a dachsund are more brittle so it happens frequently in this breed. The resulting pressure and inflammation makes the cord swell. Since the cord is in a confined space (the vertebral column), it cuts off its own blood supply. No blood = no oxygen = cord death. Time is of the essence. When they're wobbly, you can reverse the swelling with steroids and rest. The longer they are down, the more likely they are to need surgery, and the worse the prognosis.

With a history of previous episodes, this owner knew time was an issue. And despite her elaborate show of tears, it was obvious to me and the staff that she had long given up on this dog. I mentioned surgery ("I can't do that!") and medical management (he still had a chance), but she sobbed and said, "I think we're just going to have to let him go."

Poor dog. He had periodontal disease, large fleas trucking across his body, and now back pain and paralysis. A fast painless death wasn't the worst outcome, I supposed. She signed the paperwork like a heartbroken soap star, then handed him to me, saying, "We're doing the right thing..."

I couldn't tell if it was a statement or a question. I didn't reply. As she gathered her purse, dabbing her eyes, she spotted a folded newspaper on the bench. "Can I take this?" she asked, clear voiced, indicating the crossword. Sure. Could you work a crossword the same day your dog died? I couldn't.

Later the same day, I heard the distraught voice of a client, bringing a limp animal into the clinic. I quickly ended my appointment and helped carry the patient to the back. I saw a beautiful bird dog, blue mucus membranes, warm and robust but unresponsive. We intubated, administered CPR, oxygen, epinephrine -- it was too late. Her body temp was 96 - whatever had happened was too far gone; her brain was dead. She looked familiar, then I realized I'd seen her for a simple ear infection two weeks before. I remember how sweet she'd been, lifting her muzzle up to me, her hindend wiggling. Her distraught owner said she'd been normal all day when she left for an errand. Two hours later, she found her unresponsive, curled up on the bed.

There was no outward reason for her to die. She'd had a normal exam (except for a minor ear malady) two weeks prior. It was beyond explanation. Although I wish I knew why she died, I was relieved the owner declined autopsy -- I'm no pathologist, my schedule was full, and it doesn't change the outcome. A beautiful, beloved companion was gone.

Sometimes people hear of my job and think that caring for my patients at the end of their lives is the worst part. They are wrong. Helping my patients have a calm, peaceful end to their suffering can be very rewarding, although it is always gut-wrenching. When the end comes too late, or too soon, with contrived emotions or lack of caring, then it is unsettling. Losing a pet always feels painful, but these three in the same week all seemed so wrong, in so many ways.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Actually, I've done a lot of stuff since these pictures...

But the pictures of my NYC trip still need posting. Meanwhile, I've been working, driving to ballet, and visiting my other sister, parents, and family in Houston. Let's take a trip down memory lane...

Here's the boatload of beautiful appetizers we ordered at Buddha Bar...

The sisters' brunch! Erin, me, Emily, and Liesel.

At the farmers' market: lots of apples and heirlooms.

Amazing crepes made on the street while you wait!

After the thrilling performance of Wicked. Note how I coordinated my sweater to my musical...

Beautiful sunset on the last night from Emily's apartment. In the background is the Hudson River, in the foreground is Ground Zero.

Last night! What a wonderful trip! Salute!

View all my NY pictures here

Monday, October 13, 2008

New York State of Mind

My last day in New York was also fabulous. We talked to the kids on iChat, went to Emily's quaint church, then had an amazing and cheap lunch at a street fair - crepes with goat cheese, arugula, tomatoes, garlic, and turkey. Also could not resist some Thai food - $3 for stirfry or pad thai! We went to MOMA but unfortunately were too late to get in to see the Van Gogh exhibit that day. It was the only disappointing moment of the trip. So, what's a girl to do? Might as well shop.

Macy's gives out discount shopping cards to out of state guests, and I found 2 skirts and a pair of pants, especially after Emily graciously accompanied me to the petites department (nearly an entire floor!). One of the cashiers that helped us at the end was like a miniature Gilda Radner (her name was, no joke, Aswilda). I found a great pair of pants with a tiny hole in them. She tried to find me a replacement in my size in the back storeroom, and I could see her looking demonstrably sad and shaking her head from across the floor. "You've waited a lowng time," she said on her return, "So I'm just going to discownt it. I'm not even gonna ask. I'm just gonna do it. Let them come ask me!" She was hilarious.

We made it back to the apartment just in time to catch the brilliant end of the sunset from Emily's apartment windows. Then we had dinner at Patsy's, an established Italian place "Frank Sinatra made famous." I was a little worried when Emily pointed out the old career waitstaff and I noticed the established clientele, but after my first bite of salad, I knew we'd be OK. Rustically torn arugula, endive, and radicchio in a perfect vinaigrette -- mmm. I swooned when I tasted the Penne alla Vodka - perfectly al dente pasta, delicately creamy tomato sauce. Our waiter murmured his approval of everything we ordered. For entrees, Emily got stuffed chicken breast, and I had rack of lamb. It was heavenly. I sucked every little bone dry, then mopped up every bit of sauce.

We took a slice of cheesecake home (so tall! so eggy!) and shared it with another friend of Emily's who met us for a last glass of wine. We were very sad to see our fun weekend end. Our adventures were as perfect as the sunny, cool weather. Still, this morning I was up early, catching a cab back to JFK while Emily got ready for work.

I picked the kids up at school, and they were so excited to see me. Anna noticed my new purse immediately. We talked about how she missed me SO MUCH MORE than the week she spent in Houston. Now its back to work, school, routine, and they all seem to appreciate my role a little extra now, and I certainly appreciate them letting me go have this little adventure in the big city.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New York, New York, Is Everything They Say, and No Place that I'd rather be. Where else can you do a half a million things, all in a quarter to 3?

After an amazing morning in surgery Friday, I took the afternoon off and flew to NYC, FINALLY, to see my sister who moved there over a year ago. My family, driving me to the airport, was demonstrably sad about my departure mostly because they all wanted to go with me. I understand; it's hard to be the one left behind.

Emily took the train out to meet me at JFK, then we took a taxi into the city. We went directly to our restaurant in the trendy Meatpacking District. Although it was after 10 pm, fashionably dressed hipsters were just starting their night. I felt a little shabby in my tired makeup applied 13 hours earlier with flat airplane hair, pulling my rollaway suitcase, but I was very happy to be there. Emily had called earlier to make a reservation and was told that she didn't need one. Now there was a roped off entrance with a guy at the door and a list; anyone not on the list had to wait in the line.

Emily said she'd called and gave her name. He couldn't find her name on the list (of course) so sent his buddy inside to check the master list. He came back out and said nothing and kept working the line. I caught his eye and said, "Did you find us on the list?" He nodded silently and let us through the ropes.

Inside we checked my bag and waited again at the hostess stand. Emily was annoyed because although the place was hopping, there were available tables. "It's just this New York game they play," she said. "They make you wait so it seems like they are more important and in demand." But soon we were led to our table.

The Buddha Bar is this cavernous dark space, huge by NY standards, with a 17 foot Buddha statue at the end. The walls are painted black, the lights are low and most of them red, and Bollywood techno was blaring. Behind the long bar were tanks of illuminated live jellyfish. It was so dark we had to move our one table candle closer to read the menu. I loved it.

Emily suggested we just order a bunch of appetizers, since it was late and that was the best thing on the menu anyway. So we ordered fillo wrapped shrimp, spring rolls, and sushi. Also a bottle of wine. "And for your entrees?" said our waiter. "Oh no, we're just having appetizers." The waiter, shocked, pulled back with his hand on his chest. "I don't know if I can do that! Let me go check!" Emily was fuming. "Seriously?!? He thinks after all that we ordered we are going to eat entrees, too?"

The waiter returned and said if the chef, very serious about his cuisine, had seen the ticket with just appetizers he would have torn it up. But! he assured him that we were very nice ladies, and he granted an exception since we were ladies. Then he brought the bottle of wine, showed it to Emily, then ran off with it. "Now you see it, now you don't," I told Emily. When our waiter finally returned with the wine, Emily teased him that she thought he wasn't going to let her have it. "Well, this is a nightclub," he said. "I don't want to be opening it in the aisle and jostle someone." Some nightclub - almost no bar, no dancing, just tons of tables with people eating dinner. In Texas we call that a restaurant.

The food arrived, and it was beautiful and everything tasted exquisite. We agreed the best was a yellowfin-jalepeno roll. Finally we got a cab and went to Emily's apartment. It is beautiful, with parquet floors, marble in the kitchen and bath, and huge windows overlooking Ground Zero. Just past the financial district, you can see the Hudson River. It is amazing. Emily made me play Dance Dance Revolution before we went to bed.

After a lazy morning we met some of Emily's coworkers, another pair of sisters, for brunch. These girls were so nice, and they obviously thought a lot of Emily. The food, again, was so good. I got a mushroom omelette with a mixed greens salad. The salad was so fresh and tasty, but then I found a paper towel mixed in with the leaves, wilted in the vinaigrette. I told the waittress, and she promptly apologized, removed it, and brought us a free creme brulee french toast! My meal was free and at least 3 people apologized.

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and in the 60s. We went to Emily's office and to the farmers' market. There were bushels of apples and lots of grapes, unlike the current market in Texas. Also, TONS of heirloom tomatoes. Don't worry, I took lots of pictures. We each got a cup of apple cider, and it made you weak in the knees. It wasn't too sweet or too cinnamon-y, just concentrated appley goodness.

We changed into bike shorts and Tshirts, walked past Ground Zero (nothing to see but a fence around a huge construction zone) to the Hudson River Park, where we walked along the river. Many families were out, enjoying the green space and sunshine. At the pier, the parks department was offering free kayaking on the river. We put on lifejackets and scooted barefoot on to kayaks. The river was a little choppy and it was only about 0.25 seconds before our butts were wet. However, it was so nice to paddle around in the very protected area between the piers, I could see why Emily often does the kayaking. Also, in a city that sucks you of money at every turn, it was FREE!

We had to hustle our cold wet butts back to get ready for our evening out. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant, Ciro, which was great and I would have liked to linger and order more courses, but we had to get to our show. Emily got tickets to Wicked, a musical about the Wicked Witch of the West (as in Oz), and it did not disappoint. The singing was so good, but also the costumes! The dancing! The set! Really worth it.

After walking around absurdly bright and crowded Times Square, we hailed a cab to take our tired feet home. Today shouldn't be as busy, but should be just as fun. I'll let you know...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Too busy to blog

I haven't even sat at my computer since Monday night. Tuesday was a marathon - busy work day with just 2 doctors and a in-house seminar, then rush home to Open House at the school, brief stop at our neighborhood National Night Out. Then it was a late dinner watching the debate; I fell asleep on the couch as soon as the analysis started.

Above, Colin shows me with a magnifying glass a cool glycerin bubble thingy. Below, Anna shows me a puzzle in her classroom. Obviously, I met them there in my blue scrubs.

Anna's beautiful artwork. I am so glad that my children really love each other.

Today they had an early out, so we went shoe shopping, shopping at Central Market, feeding the ducks, playing on the playscape - beautiful, crisp, sunny, fall day!