Thursday, April 30, 2009

More on Chicago

Our weekend in Chicago was fabulous. The weather was glorious, except when it was pouring with rain! The people were friendly, the city was clean, the public transportation excellent, it wasn't too expensive, and the food... sometimes I felt like all we did was walk, gawk at the beautiful architecture, and eat wonderful food.

We stayed at the adorable Drake Hotel, which was recently refurbished with a huge luxurious bathroom. Also, happened to be ACROSS THE STREET from the building where our friend and former nanny Jessica lives. She is there going to law school. She hadn't changed much - she was still bubbly and enthusiastic and brainy, and so happy that we were in her new city. She took us on a brief walking tour, and then we went to AVEC. The wait was about an hour, but we spent that time talking and enjoying a new Portuguese wine.

The restaurant is small and narrow, with a kitchen smaller than my own. We ordered six plates, and every dish was original and delicious. There was a local tossed salad with pickled onion-hazelnut oil vinaigrette, a brandade - a little pot of butter and fish and potatoes that was transformed into a warm, creamy spread for toast, a house-made sausage served with potatoes, onions, and big sprigs of fresh cilantro, a flat bread oozing with taleggio cheese and truffle oil, prosciutto-wrapped sausage stuffed dates, and my favorite - a homemade twisted pasta with lamb shoulder, dry crumbly cheese, and preserved lemons. Oh, we polished off a bottle of another new and wonderful Portuguese wine.

The next day Jessica gamely stood in line with us again at Hot Doug's, a place we'd seen on Anthony Bourdain's show. Its rather embarrassing how long we stood in line, even when it rained and we had no umbrellas, just for hot dogs. Hot dogs and all kinds of inventive housemade sausages. And the promise of french fries, made with duck fat. Doug himself took our order, and he was so personable, and obviously loved what he did and that you had stood in line so long for his creations. (Other staff members could be heard to mutter, "Raining again? Good, I hope they ALL GO HOME!") The fries were wonderful, not to die for, but so delicious with flakey sea salt, and I ate my whole basket.

This is the mural in the bathroom there:

We also ate at Cafe Iberico, a Spanish tapas bar at Jessica's suggestion (really good sangria - fruity and NOT syrupy). We stopped in a local spot to get a bite before we saw BLUE MAN GROUP (loved them), and I got "Chili 5 Ways" as in chili, on spaghetti, with cheese, beans, and onions, and Anthony got the largest gyro known to man. We walked through two neighborhoods from there to Cafe Lula. I read a lot of reviews on this place, but when I read the review by Ira Glass (!) I knew I had to eat there. No matter what that man says, he makes his subject so engaging I am buying it, even if its in print. I even like his pledge drive spots, and I HATE the pledge drive.

Ahem, pardon that digression! Cafe Lula was great, small and local. We ordered a cheese plate that had just 2 cheeses, and the better of the two cheeses came in two wafer thin slices, but it was so intense and flavorful I mostly forgave their stinginess. We loved our wine from Argentina, and had an amazing pasta with butter, cinnamon, garlic, and feta cheese. Really inventive and yummy.

Anthony was sad to see me go - he stayed there all week for training - and I was sad to leave, too. We didn't accomplish much but had a fun time with each other, and Jessica, and Chicago.


So many toes!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I Heart Chicago

The "Bean" - coolest piece of art I've seen in a long time

Waiting in the rain with Jessica for Hot Doug's

Duck Fat Fries. WOW.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weekend Getaway

Anthony and I are going to Chicago for the weekend, thanks to my parents and his employer (he is staying for a conference).

Anyone got any sight-seeing or restaurant suggestions?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Break a Leg

Anna's class did a little play on Friday. I missed it due to work, but Anthony video'd it for me.

It lasts 9 minutes, and has its foibles. The casting was done by drawing names out of a hat. Anna didn't get a speaking role, but then "Coach Lee," vomited during lunch the day before. The teacher tapped Anna to be the last minute understudy for the role. She did great, and I was happy for her.

There were two narrators, but the narrator for the last 2 acts got cold feet, so the first narrator was pushed back onto stage with the script to read.

But the funniest was the "Police Chief." Just as they are about to solve "They Mystery of Pine Park," he turns around and stage whispers, "I gotta go to the bathroom!" But the show must go on, so he wiggles, and stands pigeon-toed, and twists the hem of his shorts, then leans over.... and loses it. Poor guy. His mom grabs his hand and marches him off-stage. The rest of the cast stares, then plods ahead. When they find his missing badge, one guy says, "Here's the police chief's badge, but he's not here..." and he stuffs it IN HIS CROTCH.

Now you know why I can't post the video here. CLASSIC.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Left Chops

I got an urge to cook lamb for Easter, so I invited some friends over, and ran to HEB on Easter-eve. They had a few chops in the refrigerator case, and a few in the butcher case. At $10.99 per pound I decided to be picky - lamb chops are basically tiny ovine T-bones, with a sirloin side and a smaller tenderloin side. Some of their chops had hardly any tenderloin left and so were hardly worth buying.

I waited for the nice butcher lady to come over and pointed out which chops I wanted, plus took 2 of the packages from the shelf. They had 2 big loins in the back that hadn't been sliced yet but I didn't have time for that since Anna had a party to be at in 45 minutes. I took my chops and my other groceries, and as always, did self check out and used my own cloth bags, although I did put the chops in a plastic bag since they were a little moist.

Unloading my bags at home, I realized I had only grabbed "my bags," and left my meat at the self-check-out. Breathless, I ran in with my groceries and dialed the number on the receipt. "Hi, I was just there, at self-check-out, number 8, and I left my meat. Is it still there?" No, it wasn't, but if I came back and picked out something of similar size they would honor my receipt.

Yikes! I quickly told Anthony about my crisis, and he said, "Go, just go back and get your meat." I ran out and left him to unload the other groceries and get the kids ready. They still hadn't located my meat when I returned to the store, so I went back to the butcher case.

In the interim the store had gotten MUCH more crowded, plus everyone was buying seafood (?) and so I had to wait and wait for help. Finally the same nice lady came up, and I told her my situation, and asked her to slice the whole chops in the back of the case. She took them back to get cut, which took forever; I had to watch 3 other people get helped while I waited for my chops. In between the other clerks would ask me if I'd been helped, and I said, "Yes, I'm just waiting for them to cut my lamb chops...." and twice some guys came and asked me how thick I wanted them, then finally FINALLY I had a huge package of beautiful custom lamb chops. Of course, it was my stupid mistake to leave them at the check-out and I was so thrilled that HEB replaced it for me so quickly. I know in other countries I'd be forking out the dough for more chops. We were able to get Anna to her party just 5 minutes late.

The next day, after they were grilled, they were SO worth it. See the food blog for more info. (Finally posted there, Steph, just for you!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mini Recital

Although they've only been taking lessons a few months, Anna and Colin's piano teacher had a mini recital today. At first I thought, what is she thinking? But now I realize: she is getting them used to performing in public, for new people. Unfortunately, this recital was at 10am, right in the middle of my surgery schedule, so I missed it. Anthony recorded it, so I (and you) could enjoy.

I really think this is the best Anna has ever played Bach's Minuet in G:

That moved me to tears!

She is pretty used to performing, though. Colin was a little more nervous, and made more bobbles, but over all recovered well. Here's the Can Can!

Bravi! Bravi!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Swollen Tooth

That's what my appointment book said. Swollen tooth. Ha, ha.
Teeth don't get swollen, gums do. Was the tooth exploding? I chuckled to myself, thinking either the client or the receptionist got it wrong.

Then I met the cat. And saw this in her mouth:

Poor kitty. Her tooth was swollen. She had a huge resorbtive lesion on her upper fang. Its a process in which the tooth starts to destroy itself from within, eating through enamel and dentin until the sensitive nerve pulp is exposed. The root of the tooth is replaced with bone. No one knows why this sometimes happens to a tooth. It occurs in people, but not nearly as frequently as it does in cats. We do know it is extremely painful.

If nothing was done, eventually enough architecture would be lost that the crown of the tooth would fall off. Then the remaining root complete its resorbtion, like a ship sinking beneath the sea after a cannon volley. But who knows how long that would take? I aim to end animal suffering, and I am sure this cat woke up in less pain than she was before dental surgery. I "amputated" the crown of this tooth then covered the area with a sliding gum flap. It will heal within days.

Usually the lesions don't get this big. Normally its a small spot we find at the gumline. Regardless, there is nothing to stop the process. The only treatment is extraction, or amputation in advanced cases. Elsewhere in her mouth I extracted another, less affected small molar, and amputated two premolars.

The client was relieved. I showed her the Xray, which revealed how far gone the tooth really was. "That is so cool!" she said. Most people say "gross," or "I don't really see anything." I think missed her calling for a career in medicine!

Thursday, April 02, 2009


We are noticing some effects of the recession at my vet clinic. Mostly in the form of huge holes in the schedule, great blocks of time with no appointments in them. If it's slow enough, we send a doctor and a technician home. Recently, I have had appts at the beginning and the end of a shift, so no such luck for me. Then the next day may be overly full and we are running like the proverbial headless chicken.

Fortunately, I am not seeing people putting pets to sleep because they can't afford them. When there is a medical emergency, people are still finding the funds for treatment. But it seems like we are doing less elective stuff, and seeing fewer puppies and kittens.

I was pretty excited last week to see a new patient, a cat just adopted by a family 2 months earlier. She was on the appointment book for a check-up and tapeworms. However, when she arrived, my observant receptionist ran her back, saying, "I've got an emergency!"

I pulled a limp cat out of a carrier. Blue lips, dilated pupils, no heartbeat. The owner said she'd been howling in her box on the short 5 minute trip to our office. We attempted some CPR, then I tried to give her an intracardiac injection of epinephrine. I could not find her heart because her chest was full of clear fluid. She had sub-clinical heart failure, and had filled up with plueral effusion. The mild stress of the car trip had pushed her over the edge.

Breaking the news to the owner was terrible. She was completely unprepared. She thought she had killed her new cat by bringing her in for a wellness visit. I told her the cat was in heart failure, had been for a while, and would certainly have died regardless within the month. After talking with her about the signs which cats are so good at hiding, she realized the rapid breathing in a weird posture the night before and the cough three days ago were not due to hairballs, after all. She felt a little better about the situation, but I still felt terrible sending her home empty handed. We all felt sorrow the rest of the day for not even getting a chance to know or treat our new patient, but even more for the family's loss of their newest member.