Saturday, December 31, 2011

December Post

Seems like after that binging of posting in November, I couldn't manage much posting in December!  It was so full this year - Anna sang a solo in school choir, then she and Colin had a great piano recital, followed by the weekend of ballet performances.  There were church choir rehearsals, which culminated in a nice Christmas Eve performance.  We had a super holiday weekend with feasting and family.  And I created a new drink for the holidays:

The Figgy Pudding

1.5 oz mulled vodka **
1.5 oz golden rum (I like Bacardi)
1.5 oz pear nectar
0.5 oz triple sec
0.5 oz port

Shake all ingredients over ice and pour into a chilled martini glass.

** Mulled Vodka

Combine 1 cup vodka with 1 tsp of premixed mulling spices -or- 1 star anise, 4 cloves, 1/4 stick of cinnamon, a few allspice berries, a shaving of nutmeg, etc.  Let sit at room temperature for ~1 hour then drain.

Cheers, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last NaBloPoMo for the Thankful Month

This is our Thanksgiving Tree from last Thursday.  Anna made the construction paper leaves, and Colin got the branch from the tree in our back yard.  Everyone, young and old, took a leaf or two and wrote something they were thankful for.

The good health of my husband

My mom and dad.  I miss them.

For my dogs, Ruby and Gus

I am thankful for living, talking, and friends.

My wonderful family

For Life: God, Family, Friends

All my nieces and nephews - Anna, Colin, Paige, Graham, & Evelyn

For my Niece and Bro who saved me

I am thankful for the wind

For the whole world

I'm thankful for NM in July and August!

I am thankful for friends who are more like family!

I am thankful for fun!


having a great family

all our pets!

I am thankful for my family and friends

My five grandchildren

The Food

I am thankful for Harry Potter

My family's love and support

All the good food

I am happy for the rain

For a job I love

For everyone here today

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is November over yet?

I'm single this week: Anthony is in Ohio.  I need to iron 12 ruffled collars for Sugarplum ballerinas.  And catch up on some Glee.

I'll be on the couch.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mystery SOLVED

Anthony told me he heard the rooster crow over the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a good news/bad news kinda thing: it confirmed I wasn't crazy, but also confirmed that someone is crowing.

He said, "You're right, it was definitely a rooster crow, but it was soft and far off sounding."  Yes, that's it! "Anna heard it, too!"  More witnesses!  "Then she told me, Daddy, that's my phone."

She has the "rooster crow" as her text tone.  If it's in the living room and you're in the kitchen, and the windows are open, it sounds just like its coming from the coop.

Put away the hatchet!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I did today

1. Slept in!

2.  Sang with the choir

3.  Did grocery shopping for the week

4.  Made individual pizzas for everyone

5.  Helped the children practice piano

6.  Cut Anthony and Colin's hair

7.  Taught Bollywood aerobics

8.  Made chef salads with smoked turkey (yum!)

9.  Tested Anna and Anthony's chocolate chip cookies.  So sweet how he showed her all his secrets to making perfect, moist, chewy  cookies.  She was very enthusiastic.  The results were good.  I tasted at least 4 oven-fresh cookies...

Saturday, November 26, 2011


We ate dinner tonight at an Indian restaurant.  There was some fish on the buffet, so I made sure to get some for Colin since he's a fish lover.  He ate a few bites then stopped.

"Did you like it?"  we asked him.

"Yes," he said, "But it became spicy."

Friday, November 25, 2011


So often, I call owners with bloodwork results and get to say, "Everything's normal: kidneys and liver, electrolytes and glucose, thyroid level, blood count,  heart worm test..." and they say thank you, and I say, "Hey, I love giving good news!" It's so great to be the bearer of good news, the reassurer of good health.  Fortunately, that is the case more often than not.

Other times, it's not good news.  Like when I had to call a client and tell her the lump I took off her dog was not a lipoma (a benign fatty mass) but instead something sinister, so we'd better send it off for pathology.  Then the pathology came back neurofibrosarcoma, a tumor very locally invasive (so it will probably regrow) and only 5% of cases metastasize.   But we'd better take chest X-rays before I refer her for radiation therapy.  Then on today's X-rays, there are little dots all through the chest.

I'll have a radiologist review the films next week, but meanwhile, no referral is indicated.  And this brave woman, who runs marathons and hikes the Appalachian trail, hangs her head and cries.  Then says, "This is a really bad design, these dogs that live lives so short, when there are all these ugly, evil people who live 80 years."  I can't argue with that.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Menu:

Greenburg Turkey
Herb Gravy
Mushroom Dressing
Creamed Greens
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Homegrown Tomato and Arugula Salad
Marinated Homegrown Peppers
Wild Rice
Aunt Sudie's Potatoes
Roasted Acorn Squash
Brown-N-Serve Rolls
Steamed Asparagus

Dessert selections:

Pecan Pielettes
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Buttermilk Pie
Cranberry Muffins


Piano by Anna and Colin
Walking the dogs

(Colin suggests we do it all again next week)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve

Sadly I had to work today, even though all I wanted to do was stay home and cook and prepare for tomorrow's big feast.  We are looking at 15 guests this year - both our parents, despite recent health crises on each side.  My kids are pretty excited, too, and helped me chop vegetables and make pie after dinner.  Everything is done except for making the stuffing/dressing, and setting the table.

We can't wait!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Hour Colinism

I came home today and Anthony and the Manny were enjoying a cocktail together.  Yeah, really.

Then Colin said, "Daddy, why don't you open a shop called 'Big Bellied Bagels for Big Bellied People?"

Monday, November 21, 2011

It rained AGAIN today, and we are still riveted by it.  Anna went out to feel the rain on her face this morning.  I noticed lots of birds taking baths in puddles.  Then, driving home from Zumba, I was struck by this:
 A large buzzard sitting atop the old Lutheran church from the 1800s.  So Texas Gothic.    Here's his close-up:

Sunday, November 20, 2011


We really love Ikea, and went again today to get towel racks for the bathroom, handles for the cabinets, and another set of drinking glasses.  Emily came with us, and I think she may have gotten more than she bargained for -- we were there for 3 hours!  Of course, we first had lunch in the cafe, then walked the maze.  Then over the intercom we heard them paging "Shane and Nancy" to the Smaland, and Emily rightfully said, how many Shane and Nancys can there be?  (the last name matched, too).  We were close to Smaland, so I peeked in an saw their 7 year-old daughter, who I recognized from Facebook.

They live in Ft Worth and we rarely see them, but we all were at college together.  Anthony and Shane were roommates for a while, and he was in our wedding.  Before that, Emily dated Shane when she was finishing high school.

Their daughter was shy until she saw my kids, then they were immediately playing chase and whispering secrets.  Extra bonus at Ikea to see friends we haven't seen face-to-face for at least 5 years!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Hey, it's less than a week until Thanksgiving!  We are planning on having another big feast, with lots of extended family from both sides.  Today we are getting things ready - tidying up the larder, emptying out the fridge, trying to finish the bathroom remodel project.

Anybody need an extra set of gently used towels?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yay! Anthony's home

I was gone last weekend for the Dental Forum, came home late on Sunday, then Anthony left early Monday morning.  We spent about 9 hours together, most of them sleeping.  He finally came home tonight.  We are all glad.

I'm gonna go hang with him on the couch.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Hen Talk

Three of the chickens were out when the kids and I got home this afternoon, which means it's time for another wing trim. (BTW, no more cock-a-doodle-doos heard.)  We trim our chickens' wings so they don't fly out of their little enclosed yard behind the shed, because otherwise they invariably ruin the garden with their raking feet.

Colin really loves the chickens, and volunteered to help me catch them because he's "the best chicken catcher."  He also claims they understand him.  Colin also feeds the chickens for me everyday.  It's the one chore he doesn't complain about (now that we moved the feed onto the porch and out of the shed where we rarely find snakes.  Colin is afraid of snakes.)

He is really fast at catching those chickens, who very much do not want to be caught.  He holds them lovingly like a baby as we take them to the picnic table, then holds their body while I extend a wing and trim the long feathers.  He has a name for each of them (Goldy, Big Blacky, Copper, Reddy).  He looks like such a farm boy with his flock.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I saw two dogs today with very advanced periodontal disease -- caked on tartar, receding gums, mobile teeth, death breath -- all the things that make a normal human pull back with horror.  It gives me itchy fingers, because I can't wait to get in there and CURE that disease.  Teeth will be lost, but domesticated dogs don't need teeth to live, and besides, teeth that abscessed aren't being used to chew anyway.

For both cases, I sat down with the dog's owner, listing the reasons its important to restore good oral health (for pain relief, for heart health, for longevity), and going over an itemized estimate - preanesthetic bloodwork, IV fluids, anesthesia, X-rays, local dental blocks, extractions.  Bone grafts to preserve jaw strength after the teeth and infected bone is removed.  Suturing the extraction sites so that they heal with a simple incision instead of a big hole that has to fill in.  Antibiotics and pain meds to go home.

It's not easy to do it well, nor is it cheap.  It is going to take several hours of my time, and technical support, and a lot of good equipment.  It will make a huge difference in their quality of life.  Sometimes I want to help these dogs so badly, I wish I could do it for free.  I said that to one of the owners who said, "No!  I want you to stay in business so you can take care of my dogs!"  I so appreciated this, especially since I know the estimate was much higher than he anticipated, and he'll have to do some "juggling" to get it done.     And I was so pleased that both procedures got scheduled.   Good oral health, here we come!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Keep falling on my head

One thing I don't like about the clinic where I work is the lack of windows in the back where I spend all my time.  Today it rained, solidly from about 10 am until noon.  A group of us when up front to gaze out at the soggy scene.  Raindrops and and puddles and dark skies.  It was a great sight.

After nearly a year of drought, we are stopped in our tracks by precipitation.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Harvest

I know we're having an Indian Summer, but I'm a little embarrassed by this haul I got from our garden today.  Please note, this does not include the prolific basil or any jalepenos.  This is just the bell peppers, tomatoes, and anchos/poblanos that were easily reached.  That's what 82 degrees will get ya!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Musing in Maryland

Right now I'm in the Baltimore airport on a layover. I'm eating some crab and shrimp at a local restaurant. It's reminding me of the time when I worked at Ft Hood. I met people from all over the country then, including a big huge army guy who had a cat that he loved. He was asking me what cats could eat. Specifically, could they eat some human food?

"That depends," I said. "They shouldn't eat a lot of things like butter, or bacon fat."

"What about crab?" he said.

"Crab?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'm from Maryland," he said, "and I love crab. Sometimes after I go home I bring some crab back and I share it with my cat."

Suddenly I got a vision of this big, huge guy sitting at the table sharing his crab with his cat. And I thought, crab is mostly protein, a little bit of fat. Perfect food for a cat. Plus the thought of him sharing this delicacy with his cat, who is also from Maryland, was too much to bear.

"Yeah, there's no problem with that," I said.

And I stand by that statement.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

While I've been at the Dental Conference, I've been keeping in touch with my family with Face Time every night. The kids respond so much better with video, and it's great to see their gorgeous faces.

That's all I've got for now. Been in lectures all morning, all afternoon, and this evening. Starts again tomorrow at 7 am. Damn Nablopomo.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I had a great day today at the dental conference. In my lab I learned how to make an incline plate-- its an orthodontic appliance to move out canine teeth that are erupting too close together so they hit the hard palate and cause trauma and pain. Then after some lectures I went to dinner with two other ladies who are also vets from Austin. We all left our kids with our husbands and were enjoying a night out. After we even went to a restaurant that just serves desserts, called Finale!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here in Boston!

I am here, in the lobby of my hotel because this is where the free wifi is. I don't understand why the most expensive hotels also charge for Internet. If I'm paying this much they should throw Internet in, too. Can I get an amen? There was a large and delicious selection of hor doevres at the opening reception, enough to fill me up for dinner. I said hi to some friends, had some FaceTime with the family. Time for bed -- orthodontics lab in the morning!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Tomorrow I'm going to Boston for the Dental Conference.  It's my one big business trip of the year.  Unfortunately, Anthony can't go with me, so I'm traveling alone.  I enjoy traveling on planes alone; I just get immersed in my book.  Three full days and evenings alone will be different.  I always have a good time, though, learn something new, and get enthusiastic about my special quirky interest.

Next post will be from the road...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Simon & Martin

Paul Simon was great, btw.  ( But since nobody commented here or on Facebook I guess none of you care!)  His band large and talented, and they all had great voices.  Paul played lots of old 70s stuff, lots from Graceland, and all my new favorites from the new album.

I loved the big, complicated, jamming pieces, but was most impressed when Paul Simon took the stage and sang "The Sound Of Silence,"  just his voice and his beautiful guitar.  Anthony recorded it on the iPhone (isn't it amazing how now that everyone has this ability no one seems to care if you record these events?), and hearing it later I realized how much Anthony and I were singing along.  I think I sang "backup" on all his songs, but I couldn't hear myself.  It was loud.  But I guess my neighbors could hear.  Anthony said the grumpy old guys next to him groused, "You'd think they could just listen and not sing along!"  Sorry, neighbors, we sang, and danced, too.

***Watch this space for future video upload.***

Monday, November 07, 2011

Eye of the Beholder

I'm still teaching my Bollywood class on Sunday evenings, and still really enjoying the music and the exercise.  I have a group of regular students that I look forward to seeing, and I also love seeing new students of Indian descent smile when we dance to a tune that's familiar to them.

But now I follow that class with Zumba on Monday mornings, taught at our local rec center by my long-time friend Regina.  Our lives have moved in parallel paths for decades now:  first college choir, then vet school, then moving to the Austin area, having babies -- now teaching ethnic workout classes in our 40s!  She has a terrific class on Mondays with women of all sizes and ages, and there are some good dancers in there.

A few times Regina has let me jump in to lead a song or two.  That's when I notice that the lights in there are really awful.  My skin looks so ghastly white, with blotches, then I notice the permanent wrinkle in my brow, and my pot belly...  Blech!

There is a friendly woman who usually takes a spot next to me.  She is older, and doesn't jump around or grind her hips, but she is moving (slowly) the whole time.  "How are you?" she asked me between sets.  "You just look so perfect, with your blonde hair, and your smooth skin, and your cute figure.  You know what you look like?  You look just like Barbie.  That's what I'm going to call you: Barbie.  'Cause you just look so perfect." And she does, every week.

What?!?  I am no Barbie doll.  My boobs sag, my waist is not narrow, I'm getting jowly, and my skin is not smooth or perfect.  My hair is a sweaty, frizzy, blonde mess.  But I realize I look in the mirror and see my imperfections and loss of youthfulness (especially under those lights) -- but to her perspective, I am still  youthful, and jumping around with enthusiasm even if I can't roll my hips and shake my booty at the same time (like Regina).

When we're 13 we wish we were 17, and when we're 40 we wish we were 25, and when we're 70 we wish we were 40...  So today I tried to be happy to be fit at 41, injury-free and able to dance with abandon.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


My kids are "into" Manga, a Japanese animation.  They watch a lot of the cartoons on YouTube - most are in Japanese with subtitles.  I love them being interested in another culture.  Anna has even learned some basic Japanese words, and she can sing the entire theme song to one of the shows with a dead-on accent.

However, a lot of the characters have high-pitched syrupy baby voices.  And now my kids are talking to me in baby talk.  And I cannot abide baby talk!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Going to Graceland

I'm going to the Paul Simon concert tonight with Anthony and a work friend.  She is a serious Paul Simon fan - she's seen him live at least 6 times before!

I grew up with the harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel.  I just about wore out my cassette tape of Graceland in high school - it was in constant rotation in my Jeep as I drove around Midland.  His new album released this year sounds good, too - there's even an Indian influenced song!  Should be a good time.

Friday, November 04, 2011

My Ranking

Anna and Colin are at the age where they love to go to work with me.  Before they were too little to keep themselves occupied.  Later, they may be too disdainful of the whole thing.  But now they love it, they love holding court with all the people I work with, seeing the cute animals, snacking in the break room.

Colin went with me a few Saturdays ago, and wandered up front, petting dogs and chatting with one of my clients.  "My Mom works here," he said.

"Oh, really?" she said.

"Yeah, she's the second best vet here," he confirmed.

Apparently, since my name is listed second on the door, he decided I was second best.

At least I'm not the fourth best.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


Ah, the weather is glorious at last, and all the windows are open, letting the fresh air in.  But today I heard a sound from the back yard that chilled me.

The sound of a "cock-a-doodle-doo!"

People who are long-time readers of this blog or know me in person know we have a small backyard flock.  Hens are allowed in our little burg, but not roosters.  We have a lot of old hens, and added two chicks this spring, hoping that by the fall they would start laying.  After a long, hot, dreadful summer without eggs, the days are now cooler but shorter, so we still have no eggs.

But maybe we now have a rooster.

I inspected the flock, and the pullets (nearly grown hens) don't look like roosters, except one has a raised tail.  We can't have a rooster.  Even if he is gentle (since Colin has been lovingly carting them around for months) the noise would be intolerable to us, never mind the neighbors.

A friend of mine recently raised a passel of hen chicks, and one turned out to be a rooster.  She slaughtered him, believing in knowing and raising your own meat, but cried the entire time.  She did say he was good eating.  I don't know if I'm strong enough to kill my own chick, not if my children aren't starving.  Plus, the two chicks we got in the spring are very attatched to each other.

My hope is that, in the absence of any male presence, one of the old hens has gotten butch.  Apparently this does happen.  It could still be noisy, though.  So far, it wasn't very loud and it was just once, in the afternoon....

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Here's another Halloween post

This is my Grandmother, Dulce Maria.  She's in her 90s but has the spirit of a 6 year old girl.  She is a 5'2" dynamo of energy, the life of every party.  She put this on and prowled around the senior center where she lives and WON the costume contest.

Everyone who lives this long should live life with so much zest.  Thanks to my mom for sending this excellent photo.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Corpse Reviver

Here we are, Saturday night at a neighbor's Halloween party.  We partied all weekend - neighborhood kiddie parade Sunday afternoon, kid Halloween party Sunday evening, trick-or-treating last night.

So, the title is in regards to this blog.  Can someone who only posted once in October post every day in November?

NaBloPoMo.  We shall see.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pacific NW

All of hot August we looked forward to our vacation planned the last week of September in Washington State.  My cousin was getting married, and we made plans to extend our stay to 10 days.  The trip did not disappoint.  The weather was cool and showery up there, while it continued to be in the 100's down here in Texas.

There was a blue color I had not seen in so long, a lavender-grey-blue, in the moist clouds, in the mountains, even in some of the spruce trees.  Ten months with no significant rain and soaring temps have left Texas brown, yellow, and washed out of color, like an over exposed photograph.  We spent many days happily tramping around in the drizzling weather, not getting soaked but definitely rehydrating!

Notably, it did not rain on the days that we went hiking.  It did shower briefly before the outdoor wedding, then stopped, so we could all enjoy the garden ceremony.

It is so nice to drink coffee and hot tea when its cold and damp.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Someone's seen too many Geico commercials

Colin:  Mommy, what is the world's most dangerous animal?

Me:  Uh, hippo?

Colin:  What?  Gecko?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

This Fall

Its a whirlwind of back-to-school activity around here.  Colin, who had been dreading school since the first day of summer, is on track to have a great year.  No complaining about going to school, homework, or his teacher - in fact, the opposite (touch wood).  Yesterday he brought home an exemplary progress report. (note: we are half-way through the first 6 weeks already!)

He is, as always, fascinated by weapons.  Which I took as a sign of doom until several thoughtful, intellectual guys I admire (including my husband) told me at that age, they were too.  It's the testosterone, apparently.  Recently, he's interested in WWII Japan, as in Pearl Harbor and my reading Unbroken.  He asks, "Why did Japan bomb all our ships in Pearl Harbor?  Why did Japan want more power?  Why did Hitler want to rule the world?"  Good questions, son.

Today he came home with a Pearl Harbor book he purchased with his own funds from the Book Fair (for me to read) that answered some of these questions.

Then he asked me, "Mommy, were you born in 1914?"


"I mean, 1941?"

No, Grandad (my dad) was born in 1940.

"OHHhhhh! So he was 1 1/2 at Pearl Harbor?"

Anna's having a great year scholastically, too.  This year she has stepped up the seriousness in ballet and is taking classes THREE days a week.  That's a lot of schlepping back and forth to the ballet studio.  However, Anna has her eyes on the prize:  if she can keep it up for about a year, her ballet teacher may let her graduate to pointe shoes.  I love her teacher, for keeping the bar (barre?) so high, and requiring commitment as well as strength and technique before taking this step.  I thought Anna would become bored with the more rigorous, technical classes, but she confessed to me yesterday she likes them better than her regular class.

She and I have also been singing in a church choir.  It's a small, adult choir, and Anna is BY FAR the youngest.  It's very informal, but I can see her learning so much being there.  Also, I realized how very much I missed singing this way.  For a person who spent at least an hour (often more) nearly every day in high school and college singing formally in a choir, getting back in touch with this part of myself has been so rewarding.  I don't have time to sing focused daily like I used to.  But a few hours on Wednesday evenings and then "performing" on most Sundays is great.  Getting to share that joy with Anna - and now Emily!- is awesome.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

There's only one thing that's as good as BACON and that's BACON!

Last Saturday I was not working, so I cooked my family a nice breakfast.  I pulled out that package of Niman Ranch Bacon and made eggs from my hens.  I like to cook the bacon in the oven, but it takes some minding, and turning.  The last time I put it in the oven, I forgot to set the timer.  My nose reminded me to check, too late.

"Damn it, I burned the bacon.  Anna!  Open the back door!"  I took the smoking pan out to the patio and let it cool on the grill.  I came in, steaming myself.  "I've been working on that bacon for 20 minutes!  I can't believe I let it burn!"

I looked at Colin, and his face crumpled.  Then he ran into his room, crying.  Crying, because of the loss of bacon.  I think I yelled something about me being the one who was working so hard on it.   But he couldn't hear me over the wailing.

As it turned out, a few minutes later I checked on the bacon, and only the ends were burnt.  I broke them off and put the extra crispy bacon in Colin's breakfast taco.  He found some solace in that.

Anna ate the burnt bits despite the carbon texture.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School

Colin brought home a worksheet about himself.  Here are some highlights:

My favorite place is New Mexico.
After school, I like to play vido games.
My pet peeve is Toby.
When I feel sad, it helps to play piano.
If I could change my name, I'd call myself Ash.
I wish I were as tall as myself.
I'm good at math.
If I could rule the world, I'd give candy.
My favorite possession is my fish.
If I lived in another country, I'd like it to be Cloudcroft.
On my birthday I'd like to give donuts to my friends.

Anna brought home a computerized reading assessment.  Seems she reads on a 11.5 grade level, and we should be sure to have her check out books at that level to keep her challenged.  Sheesh.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Summer, the school vacation, is nearly over for us.  Summer, the season, has lodged itself here and won't be leaving anytime soon.  Our part of Texas is in a severe drought, and its been over 100 nearly every day since the end of May.  It's awful; we hide inside the air conditioning from the sun all day.

My children, my parents, and one of my sisters are cooling their heels in Cloudcroft, NM.  We video chatted last night and they were wearing hoodies.  The humanity!

I told my kids that they needed to get their rooms in shape, because I was going to clean them while they were gone.  I spent the past day and a half in their hovels, and confirmed that they are terrible hoarders!  I threw away a bunch of paper and plastic junk.  Also, there are four boxes in the attic full of stuff I am betting they will never ever miss HOWEVER if they specifically ask for an item in one of those boxes, I will retrieve it for them.  After 6 months, I am sending the boxes to Goodwill.  Unopened.

Do you think they'll notice something that is missing from their tidy rooms?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Question

Most pets come to the vet hospital brought in by the "lady of the house."  She often brings her young children with her.

I won't lie.  There are some children we dread.  But most are shy.  I usually try to engage them all - the shy ones with what I'm doing, and the poorly mannered ones with stickers and coloring books.

My favorite are the precocious ones, they might be a little shy but are very enthusiastic about their pets, and happy to talk to me.  Like the little 4-year-old guy I had today with his two young kittens.  He remembered that last time I showed him the proper way to pick up his kittens (support them under the hind legs, don't pick them up by the arms).  He also remembered that I let him listen to the cats' hearts with my stethoscope, because he scooted up on the exam table, getting in position nice and close for the stethoscope hand off.

At the end of the visit, I asked Mom if she had any questions, and after I answered her, my little friend said, "I have a question for the vet."  Big, long pause.

"How do you keep them from getting upset when you pick their boogers?"

Mom and I squelched giggles but agreed it was a good question.  Certainly, one I've never been asked before.  I told him I didn't think you could keep them from getting upset, but if you sneak up on them with a soft tissue, you can probably get them off.  Besides, cat boogers aren't as big as ours.

But, apparently they are big enough to flick across the room at your baby brother.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Scenes from a Cell Phone

Here is a boy who hates to go to Costco with his parents.  Even if there are lots of samples.  Doesn't he look miserable?  This is actually his least favorite part - when his dad browses for wine.  Even if there are cheese samples right next to it.
He also refuses to let me take any pictures of his adorable snaggle-toothed grin.  His last upper central incisor FINALLY fell out, and the results are adorable, temporary, and not yet captured on film.

 Here is beautiful Lake Pflugerville!  It is so hot here, and this is the closest thing we have to a beach.  100 degrees doesn't feel quite as bad when you're in the water.  Anna and Colin are the 2 figures on the left.
Today was Toby's first day to go swimming!  He was so much fun.  Slightly apprehensive at first, then enthusiastic and overwhelmed!  Then palunk-palunk-palunk-palunk, he was swimming.  Toby seemed to think he could walk on the water.  But unfortunately, he is not Jesus Christ, he is Toby Sebastian.  Still, his front legs kept plunking above the water, making him sound like a paddle boat.  Then, exhausted, he'd let me hold him suspended in the water, and he'd rest his precious head on my shoulder.  He is so sweet.  After an hour, he finally figured out how to dog paddle streamlined, without lifting his forelegs above the surface of the water.  By then, he was tuckered out!
We can't wait to take him again!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Ode to the Tomato

Homegrown Tomato,
How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways we've eaten them:

Caprese Salad
TexMex Salsa with homegrown jalepenos
Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salsa
Tomato and Cheese Sandwich with Truffle Oil
Pasta Pomodoro
Migas and Huevos Mexicana
Pasta with Olive Oil, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic
Spicy Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda, Tomatoes, and Basil
Moussaka (Homegrown eggplants and tomatoes)
Arugula salad
Tomato and Cucumber salad

I now realized that I haven't made Panzanella yet!  Better get on it!  This is one part of summer I don't ever want to end!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

True Grit

After watching me do so many triathlons, Anna has really wanted to join in.  The age limit for the Danskin is 14, but for the Pflugerville Triathlon it's 10.  After her birthday this year, Anna insisted she wanted to sign up.  I warned her the training would be tough, but she was quite determined.

She hung in there on our training sessions, too, even after we decided that she had really outgrown her bike.  At first she insisted she loved it and didn't need a new one; by the time she was OK with replacing her bike it was too late.  In May, she didn't walk during our local 5K at all except at the water breaks.

Her confidence held until 2 weeks before the actual event, when she started to get cold feet.  Plus we didn't train as much as we'd like those last 2 weeks, due to Choir camp and a visit to Nana and Grandad's place.

Since she is so small, and we were planning all along to do it together, the race organizers said she should just go in my wave (40-44 year olds).  Unfortunately, since this event has all the men go first, then the women go youngest first, oldest last, we were in the water in one of the last waves.

Also, the wind that morning was wicked and strong.  The swim is nearly a half mile, out and back.  The waves had white caps coming towards us.  Fortunately, we had done a swim in this lake on a similar windy day.  Still, it was tough.

We started, Anna bravely plunging headlong into the waves.  Around us, many people were literally bailing, crying out panicked for help, hanging onto the kayaks steered by lifeguards, who brought them back to shore.  Anna didn't notice, but she did hang on to my arm twice while coughing, and took a break at the outermost buoy.

We were some of the last out of the water, onto our bikes.  The bike ride is 14 miles, and is Anna's weakest event.  We had practiced the hardest 12 miles of the course, but not with this kind of wind.  Anna complained of tired legs on mile 2.  She was afraid she couldn't finish the course since she hadn't actually done 14 miles.  I explained to her that she had done all the hard hills before, and told her about a friend who had done a 150 mile bike race, 75 miles per day, even though he'd only practiced 20-30 miles a day before that.  She quietly absorbed this and kept pedalling.

The bike course was basically a big square, and the second leg of the course, the one with all the hills, is the one where the wind was straight in our faces.  It was so strong, some gusts stopped Anna dead in her tracks going up hill.  Then she fell on mile 5, bloodying her knee and elbow.  She cried on the side of the road for a little bit, then got back up on her bike and kept pedalling.  Poor little thing, she had to pedal continuously.  There was almost no coasting on such a little bike.

Finally, we turned the corner, making our head wind into an easier cross wind.  "Mile 7!"  Anna said triumphantly when she saw the sign.  "Halfway done!"  Then, quickly her face started falling, "Oh, only halfway done..."  I assured her that the worst was behind us, the rest was nearly flat.  She was silent, got a determined look, and kept pedaling.  It was a look she kept for the next 5 miles.

At the end, an inconsiderate cop tipped us off that we were the last competitors on the course. ("Hurry up!")  "Oh, Mommy, I think we're the last.  I didn't want to be last."  I assured her that at least she was still going, and I was proud of her.  She was so tired and spent, but I really wanted her to have a successful finish.  Soon, a race volunteer pulled up behind us on his bike, and confirmed that we were both competitors, and radioed back that he had the last two competitors and was bringing them in.  He must've seen how dejected Anna was about this, because he told her, "I'm sorry it took me so long to get to you, but I was dealing with two people who dropped out.  Otherwise I would've been here sooner.  You should be proud that you are finishing.  I can't believe you went all that way on that little bike!"

The bike ride took us 2 hours.

We came into the transition area, which was busy because many competitors were finished and were exiting.  Some race volunteers helped escort us through to the portopotties then out to the run course.  Many people saw me and my little athlete and cheered, which gave Anna a burst of energy.  We started out running, then walked for the vast majority of the 3 mile course.  The wind was hot and the sun was intense.  There were two water stops on the way with great volunteers who had waited for us and encouraged us to finish.  Anna looked up at me as we started mile 3 and said, "Mommy, thank you so much.  I couldn't have done it without you.  I really wanted to quit, but I'm glad I didn't!"  I was glad, too.  I know she was too small and young to have self motivated herself to finish, but with very little encouragement from me, she found the strength in herself to push on and make her goal.  We fantasized about the post-race meal we had planned. "I'm going to have THREE pancakes!"  she said.  I assured her I didn't know anyone who deserved 3 more than her.

Finally, we could see the end in the distance, then we recognized the specks that were Anthony, Colin, and Emily.  Colin ran with us for a while, and Emily helped us over the finish line.  Anthony recorded the happy event.  Anna was elated, exhausted but happy.

She ate all 3 pancakes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Addition

For Anna's 10th birthday, we told her she could get what she's been begging for forever - a dog of her own.  Specifically, a golden retriever.  Since then we've been working with Gold Ribbon Rescue, getting approved, then waiting for a match.

As it happened, they got a mom and a litter of puppies.  "They are 95% Golden Retriever!" they told me.  "Are you interested?"  Hmm, not sure how they came up with that percentage, but we were mildly interested.   There is a new DNA test available to find out what breeds a dog is made of.  Its quite accurate on mildly mixed dogs, not so much for very mixed mutts.  I asked if I paid for the test, could we DNA test the litter?  They decided yes, and I met the mom (a Golden looking sweet female, but only 40lbs, muzzle too short to be all Golden Retriever) and the adorable fuzzikins that were her litter.  I drew blood from one of them, and sent it to the lab.

Three long weeks later, the results came back -- 75% Golden Retriever!  Of the grandparents, 3 were purebred Goldens, and one was a very mixed mutt, with markers for Basenjis, English Wolfhound, Spinone Italiano -- but none of the breeds I wanted to avoid.  With summer vacation upon us, we knew there would be no better opportunity to get a puppy.

I mean, how could you resist this?

 Anna did not actually know she was getting a puppy until we actually went to pick him up.  It was love at first sight!
 She has named him TOBY, and he's won all our hearts.  Well, Francesca (my 5 yo catahoula) is still a little grumpy.  And Anna is learning just how much work a new puppy really is.  We've had him for 3 weeks now, and he's grown quite a bit from these pictures.
 But he's still very precious!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

My Hands Hurt

On Sunday I did the Danskin Triathlon again, along with my sister Emily and a thousand other women.  Its hot here in Texas, so we start early.  I was driving to the event at 5:30 am.

I could see a large, slow animal crossing the road ahead of me.  It was a turtle, in my lane, 3/4 of the way across a divided 4 lane road, and there were a couple more cars coming behind me in the lane it was approaching.  I slowed to a stop and waited for the cars to pass, then hopped out to help the turtle.

It was a snapping turtle.  He was about 18 muddy inches across.  I nudged him with my shoe, but he only moved 2 inches.  I knew if I picked him up on the sides, he could reach around and bite me.  So I picked him up in the back 1/3 of his body and hauled him to the safe grass.

As soon as I hefted him up, he pulled his back legs in and swiftly scratched me.  I fairly tossed him into the grass and hurried back to my car.  Sure enough, I had a deep bleeding scratch across each of my last 3 fingers. I'm sure he thought I wanted to eat him.  Oh well.  Hopefully the lake water was cleansing.  I finished the Tri at 1:47, 2 minutes faster than my best time ever.

After migas, a beer, and a nap, I had to teach my evening Bollywood class ( I couldn't find a sub).  I kept it low impact.  After the last student left, I started the lock-up process, and ran into the bathroom before driving home.

The lock stuck, and I couldn't get out.  I locked and unlocked, tried again and again, and couldn't get out.  I tried not to panic.  My phone and all my stuff were still out in the studio, all the students were gone, and there wasn't anyone in the whole shopping center who could even hear me yell.  Anthony wouldn't even expect me for another half an hour, probably wouldn't worry for an hour, then might call me and I couldn't answer -- maybe he'd call the police or come looking for me?  I kept working at the doorknob, and eventually broke the handle off, cut my hand, wiggled at parts inside - still couldn't get out.  Then I found a bobby pin, and was able to laboriously use it to unscrew the long two screws.  When I finally got the last one out, the knob fell away, and I was free.  I was trapped for about 30 minutes.

I had a nice glass of wine and a good sleep after that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Flavah

Work has been busy.  I was late coming home Saturday afternoon, and so I called.  Anna was at ballet, Anthony was working on the solar panels, so Colin answered the phone.  That is still a new thing in our house, kids answering the phone.  Colin is particularly precious.

After we established where everyone was, I asked him what he was doing.  "Making my lunch," he said.  That boy is always hungry.  What are you making?  "A sandwich.  It's raisin bread, and butter, and those round red things, you know?"  Um, no, you mean strawberries?  "No, Mommy, those round things, you know, that are red, they are like, you put them on, um, you know..."

After a few more minutes of this, he remembered what they are called.  Pepperoni.

"You are making a raisin bread and pepperoni sandwich?" I asked.

"Yes, Mommy, I made a new flavor," he said.  "It's delicious."

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Lookee here

Its the first tomato of the season!  A Porter, a small, pinkish, reliable producer.

I picked this one on May 1, 2011.  It was 91 degrees.  A few minutes later, a cold front came through, and it plunged to 66.  Today it was rainy and cold, in the 50s all day.  I loved it -- we need the rain, and I opened up the windows to air out the house.

Still, a tomato, already!  Eat your heart out, Colorado and Maine!  (jk!)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Lesson of the Grasshopper

Thanks for all your kind comments.  I really do have a great job, even if it is stinky and messy and exhausting sometimes.

There was another super-cool case last week I have to tell you about.  The Tuesday I was so busy with surgeries, my co-worker saw a cat who was gagging and had a change in her voice.  She was hoarse and vocalizing a lot.  She wasn't eating and was quite dehydrated.  She had a full work-up (bloodwork, Xrays, etc) but nothing was obvious.  Her signs were so non-specific - did she have a gastrointestinal problem?  a tumor in her oropharynx?  a neuro issue?  She was sent on IV fluids to rehydrate at the emergency clinic, then back to me the next morning.

She was doing better, but definitely hoarse.  "MRAHhhh- Owwhh," she rasped at me.  The plan now was to anesthetize her for a complete oropharyngeal exam.  Once morning appointments were over, I gave her an IV sedative, then grabbed a laryngoscope to anesthetize her.

These exams usually reveal nothing, then we have to refer them for endoscopy or CT for a more thorough look.  If we do find something, its usually a tumor - unhappy news.  However, as soon as I peered over her epiglottis, I knew there was SOMETHING!  "She's got a foreign body!" I hollered.  "Quick, someone get me a swab!"  Under a large clot of mucus, there was something crossing horizontally over her larynx, under one laryngeal fold and over the other, like a toothpick skewering an hors-d'oeuvre.  I grabbed it with a hemostat, and revealed........

a Grasshopper leg!  A disarticulated leg, in its full chitinous spiny glory.  It looked a lot like this:

Except it was more yellow.  It was incredible.  We all did some high fives.  I called the owner, and she was relieved to have an answer and that the ordeal was over.  The kitty must've caught the insect while hunting, then go this appendage stuck.  Grasshopper's revenge!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Last week was a pretty amazing week at work.   Hectic, but one that makes me so happy to be a vet.

On Tuesday, we had a full schedule, but I saw an emergency before I got started on surgeries - a very sick pit bull who had not eaten anything since Thursday, and had lost a lot of weight.  The owner told me he had taken this dog in 3 months before from his dad who had passed away.  He loved the dog, a last living remembrance of his dad, but he didn't know any vaccine history.  However, one feel of his abdomen and I knew:  this dog didn't have parvo, he had an obstruction.  He needed an expensive surgery, and I knew this owner had money issues - he told me when I walked in the door.   We called a charity clinic, and they said maybe they could work him in the next day, but by then the dog would be dead. I pared down the estimate as much as possible, and took $100 off the top (we're allowed to do that once every few months), but it was still too much.  One of our hospital managers raided our charity fund, and that lowered it to a level the owner could make a deposit and then leave held checks for the rest.  We were on!  We were going to save this dog's life!

I put the dog on fluids to rehydrate him before the surgery, and then got started on getting my scheduled surgeries out of the way.  Meanwhile, a hypoglycemic puppy was rushed to the back.  I was giving orders for the technicians who were taking care of her while I was pulling a tooth, just until the other doctor could see her... but clearly that was not going to happen in a timely manner, so when I was done I took her case over, too.  I placed an IV in her tiny vein, gave her a dextrose injection, and watched the limp deflated puppy come back to life.

Then a technician told me about a case that was dropping off for an afternoon appointment -- it was a cat who could not pee.  Seriously??? This is a medical emergency, not a case that can wait until the late afternoon slot reserved for it.  Sure enough, this male cat had a total obstruction.  So, as soon as I finished the current surgery, we anesthetized him and I started the procedure to catheterize his urethra and relieve the obstruction.

An hour later, he was still stuck.  I had tried 7 different kinds of catheters and many techniques with no progress.  For the first time in 16 years I was unable to get the catheter in.  I called the specialty surgeon, and he said yeah, if you can't get it catheterized with all that you've done, something is wrong.  He needs the surgery to open up his urethra and turn it into a short, wide one.  He said he could see the cat immediately.  I had to call the owner and admit defeat, and explain that her cat needed a surgery done at the specialty hospital, and could she please pick him up and take him there now?  She was disappointed but came and got him.

Finally, after one last spay I was ready for my big exploratory on the pit bull!  I opened his belly and found that most of his small intestine, which is supposed to look like a flat, pink hose instead looked like a bloated swollen purple summer sausage.  I found the obstruction and removed it - a pungently rotten corn cob.  Unfortunately at least a foot of intestine in front of the obstruction was dead - it was blackish purple and was not squeezing and moving like the rest of the intestine.  I removed the dead section, but the proximal portion was dilated about 3 times the distal portion, and I have to connect these two ends perfectly so that they seal and don't leak, because that would cause peritonitis.  To fix this, I have to cut the healthy, skinny end at a steep diagonal, until the two circumferences are equal.  With my assistant holding the two ends, I suture them back together with tiny knots all the way around.  As I am finishing, the proximal edge of my anastamosis is starting to look purple.  I am so worried that it has lost its blood supply and is going to die.  Its not leaking, and most of it is moving with normal peristalsis, except for this one bit...  Now we've been working on this dog for nearly 2 hours and his blood pressure is dropping.  I decide the repair is good enough, flush and suction  the belly, then close him up.

Now I have 3 appointments who have been waiting for me; they did not want to reschedule or see the other doctor.  This is extremely complimentary, but also very stressful, because I hate that they waited for so long (over an hour), and it means more work for me.  I finally finish the last appointment at 7, an hour after closing.  I send the pit bull to the emergency clinic for overnight care, asking them to please keep costs as lean as possible, and explaining the less than ideal appearance of the gut at the end of surgery.  The doctor there seems to have a poor opinion of my decision to leave gut like that in the belly, then breezily says, "Well, I guess if it (the intestine) dies, you can open him up again tomorrow."   Sigh.  I really really don't want to do that, but I will if I have to.

The next day the pit bull is back in our hospital, and his belly hurts but he's eating, and his temperature stays normal all day.  No vomiting.  I send him home with some donated medications and a prayer.  I called him twice the next week, and he was still eating and keeping it down.  Apparently everything must have healed back together after all.  The referral surgeon called to tell me the cat had a long 1.5 inch section of his tiny urethra that was impacted with grit.  There was no way he could have been catheterized, and surgery was his only option.  The hypoglycemic puppy went home and so far, with small frequent meals, has not had a recurrence.  What a great, but exhausting, day to be a vet.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This blog is not dead!

I've just been writing other things.  Specifically, papers with titles like Surgical Extraction of an Upper 4th Premolar in a Dog or Endodontic Therapy of a Fractured Maxillary Canine Tooth in a Dog.  Riveting stuff.  I am required to write four journal-quality papers on some of my cases for the Fellowship in Veterinary Dentistry that I am pursuing.  They were due on April 15 for pre-approval.  Can I just say, writing these things so far away from school was painful.  I'm far from school in years and distance, and these things needed references!  Anyway, I worked on them for months and months.  They needed medical records, photographs and Xrays attatched, and had to be submitted on 5 different CDs in separate folders.   I got it done.

I hope they are good enough.  Four veterinary dentists will review them, and they need to get a 80% to pass.  My mentor (the dentist now in residence at Texas A&M vet school) said he did not pass the first time he submitted.  Fingers crossed!  Then, I can submit a large packet of my case logs, CE hours, equipment, library, etc etc, in July.  If that passes, then I can sit for an exam!

Loads has been happening around here - Anna had a birthday, both kids had a great informal piano recital, Anna did her fourth Royal Academy of Ballet graded exam, Anthony put in a fabulous summer garden, and we've been pre-approved to adopt a dog from the Golden Retriever Rescue group.

To be continued...

Monday, March 21, 2011

I love the ShopVac. And Anthony.

Did you know that if a brand new, unopened bottle of ultra-concentrated laundry detergent falls off the washer while the first load is going and I am jogging, and if the cap breaks, all the contents will efficiently empty itself onto the floor, coating the ENTIRE floor of my laundry room with a 5 mm thick ooze?

As I stepped into the laundry room to change out the loads, I discovered that, because it was quite SLICK!

120 loads worth of ultra-concentrated laundry detergent.

Fortunately, my husband is quite handy with the Shop-Vac (love that thing! it really sucks!) and a Squeegee.  It took hours, but now I have the cleanest laundry room floor EVER.  You could eat off of it.

Also, small silver lining - not a bad smelling mess to clean up.  "Its better than cleaning poop," Anthony astutely observed.  Indeed!  Then he went outside and readied the recyclables.  Awesome.

Monday, March 07, 2011


In addition to all the other things taking up my time, keeping me from posting, I have been volunteering at our elementary school.  The first year I did this, I was directed to the teacher workroom, where I sat in a windowless space and cut things out, or stapled things together.  Thank goodness I brought my iPod!  Although several teachers breezing through stated their appreciation, I only lasted twice.   Surely, I thought, there was a better use of my time and talents.

Then, Colin's first grade teacher approached me about coming once a week to help her students take AR tests.  I eagerly agreed.  I loved it, showing up and taking students 2 or 3 at a time to the computer lab, then to the library to get new books.  Colin loved it, too, showering me with hugs when I arrived, and trying to gross out his friend F. by kissing me on the lips!  I got to know lots of the students in his class, and they still wave at me in the halls.

This year, I signed up for a reading program that helps slow readers gain more "fluency."  Once a week I meet with two students, 30 minutes each.  They read a short piece aloud for 60 seconds, and we count how many words they can read, plotting it on a graph.  Then they practice reading aloud with a tape (the woman on the tape has a strong Minnesota accent - they think it is so funny), then answer some content questions.  After that, I time them again.  Of course their word count is higher, sometimes much higher, and then they graph that.  They can see their improvement that day, and over the weeks.

They are supposed to meet with volunteers 3 days a week, but the librarian tells me often the other volunteers don't show up.  I can't imagine not keeping this commitment.  I have one girl then one boy I work with.   I like them both, but I am especially fond of the little girl.  She is chatty, and tells me about playing with her cousins, her dreams, her mom leaving on a trip.  I have to direct her back to the work, although I love talking with her, too.   "Next week I'll wear the new shirt my mom got me in Vegas!  Then you can see it," she told me.  OK, see you next time.

But then, I got an email this week from the vice-principal, telling me I would have 2 new students starting next week.  The girl is moving to a different reading program.  I suspect she needs a more comprehensive program than this one.  The boy is moving to a higher level  at a different time.  I am a little bereft about not seeing the little girl again!  We didn't even get to say goodbye!  At least I know that I will see her sometimes in the halls, and I will get a special smile and wave.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Anna got a special card for her special boy friend at school, the one who got her a tiny box of chocolates and a tiny Teddy bear last year.  We asked Colin if he wanted anything special for anyone at school, and he said, "Why?  Valentine's Day is for showing the people in your family that you love them."

Sigh.  Does he really have to grow up to be a sullen teenager who dumps us for his peers?

In the end, he made small handcrafted valentine's for his classmates (with help from Anna and me), then made 2 big decorated cards with envelopes for Zoey AND Janna!

When I got home from my jog around the foggy lake, this message was on my home answering machine:
"Jenn.  I left my Valentine's day cards in my mom's car.  And I need them.  (pause)  Bye."

Even though there was no please or thank you in that awkward message, I gladly brought him the cards.  Because I love him.  I love my whole family!  We'll be celebrating with sweet, spicy Thai food tonight.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Luscious Lemon Food Porn

 After much research, I found Whole Lemon Tart at Smitten Kitchen.  Boy, did it fit my requirements for finding the ultimate recipe for my lone lemon.  She actually calls for a Meyer Lemon, but a small one, about 60% the size of mine.  And it uses the entire lemon - rind, pith, fruit, juice - everything but the seeds.

I'm not much on desserts, but I do love pastry.  I even made the tart crust myself and left it in the freezer overnight.  Then I finished the pie today, and prayed that it would not disappoint my very high expectations.
 It was splendid!  We all loved it!  Sweet but not overly so, and fragrant as the blossom the lemon came from.  "I've had this before!" Anna said, but I think that is because it is so similar to the lemon curd I usually make - its really just lemon, eggs, butter, sugar.  A little flour for the crust.  Perfection.
I also made Lemon Vodka -- super easy, just add rind only in little strips to good vodka, agitate once a day for about a month.  Fabulous for martinis.  I like mine with half lemon vodka, half Hendrick's Gin.  The last little bit of juice I used in my sauce for Provencal Chicken.

It was a good day in our Ikea kitchen.

Unidentified floating objects

Thirsty Colin asked for some of my water. I passed him the bottle and said, "Try not to get any backwash in it. I don't like floaters."

He took a swig, looked at it, then handed it back with a sheepish grimace.

"Did you get floaters in there?"

He said, "Only four."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Solo Uno

Last year we had BUSHELS of Meyer lemons.  It was grand (as Uncle Ken would say).  I made batches of lemon curd, lemonade, lemon vodka, and preserved lemons.

Then we had a long, HARD freeze.  When we planted the lemon tree, we put it in a protected corner of the house, and Anthony vowed not to treat it specially.  I half heartedly draped some sheets around it, but it got bit.  Many lemons froze and rotted.  I prayed.

In the spring, Anthony trimmed back the damaged tree.  In the summer, it made many sweet, frangrant blooms.  But I did not see any fruit set.  I decided it would be a recovery year.

In the fall, Anthony brought me two large "limes" that some neighborhood kids found and liberated from the tree. (I know Stephanie understands my pain) Apparently they were in the back, about at child eye level.  They were far too green to ripen, and were picked in a way they tore the peel, guaranteeing spoilage.  The stages of grief:  first I cried, then I got angry.  Of course, no one admitted to being the picker.  I called ALL the neighborhood kids over (they were playing kickball outside).  I told them, "If you see ANYTHING in my yard: peaches, limes, lemons, flowers, leaves --- DO NOT PICK THEM!  Come and ask us first!  When you pick things off our plants, it hurts them.  When you take things off our trees, you are stealing.  Don't pick anything!"

"Yes, ma'am!" they all earnestly said.  I put one green lemon on the counter, and one in the refrigerator crisper.  They both stayed green as they quickly rotted.

But then!  Around Christmas time, a lone Meyer lemon revealed itself with its yellow hue!  I left it to ripen unmolested, then picked it (properly) before the first baby freeze of our mild Texas winter.  It smells heavenly.

So, if you had ONE Meyer lemon, what would you do with it?  I am not a big fan of lemon bars, and its not enough to make lemon curd.  I want some peel to make a small batch of lemon vodka, and I can't waste the pulp and juice.  So many recipes called for just using that divinely scented peel (a great option last year), but those are out - I need at least half the peel for vodka, and I'm not wasting the insides on lemonade.

There it is in all its golden massive glory, next to a puny store bought lemon.

I hope we get more citrons next year.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Itinerant Blogger

I used to be unable to go more than a few days without posting.  Now I'm too wiped at the end of most days to get a round tuit.

Anthony is gone for his second entire week this month.  I get a little extra energy when he is gone, enough to make sure I get up early to put the kids on the bus and do all the little chores that we share, only to find there is nothing left at the end of the day.  Here's some things I considered blogging about, briefly.

I was off on Saturday and we had a great day where we all hung out in our pyjamas until about 3 pm.  It was a rainy day and by then the cooped up kids were a little stir crazy, so I took them to the rec center where they both ran/walked 3 miles!  Then we were back home for more family time.  We accomplished nothing but hanging out together.

Yesterday at work I had one of those experiences that was "only in the life of a vet."  My first afternoon appointment was a home euthanasia (an 18 year old cat in heart failure.  Still feisty!  But suffering, it was time to go).  That was followed by a scheduled c-section on a tiny Yorkie with 4 puppies.  As luck would have it, the Manny came by with both my kids right after delivery (he had a gig to go to) and the mom's owner is actually a co-worker, so Anna and Colin both got to hold the little newborn pups, squirming with tied off umbilicus cords, smaller than Anna's big hamster.  I heard someone speak recently about polar opposites (good/bad, heaven/hell, light/dark) and how some cultures don't think of it as an either/or, that life really is about embracing the pull of both.  Having a day of immediately experiencing death and birth, and seeing your kids in a different setting than you usually do, can make you feel pretty philosophical.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Year

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Taught Bollywood Aerobics!  So much fun!
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I resolved to buy myself no new clothing until my birthday, and I succeeded!  Then I bought a great dress for my birthday party, and then I didn't really think about it much.  I haven't come up with any resolutions this year.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, not this year.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My sweet great Aunt Sudie passed in November.  It was expected, she was ready, and it was still such a loss.
5. What countries did you visit?
Chile and Argentina!  We've been watching the photos on our screen saver.  What a memorable trip!
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
More organization, more free time (ha!)
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
My 40th birthday was fabulous - what a party!  Exactly as I wanted it.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Helping two friends finish their first triathlon this year (Luis and Sandra).
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not making the minimum case requirements for the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry.  Still a work in progress. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing more than a cold, touch wood.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new kitchen!  From Ikea!
12. Where did most of your money go?
Food.  Travel.  New kitchen.
14. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I've Got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas.  I don't love it, but it was everywhere.
 15. What did you get really, really, really excited about this year?
Emily moving back to Texas!  Sadly, a few months later my other sister Stephanie left for California.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading.  Cooking.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being stuck in traffic.  Picking up the kids' things.
18. What was your favorite TV program?
19. What was the best book you read?
Cutting For Stone by Abraham Vergase.
20. What was your greatest musical discovery?
All those great Bollywood tunes!  I have a great playlist.
21. What did you want and get?
A new kitchen!
22. What did you want and not get?
Not much.  New carpet?  (its an area of contention between Anthony and me)
23. What was your favorite film of this year?
Toy Story 3.  It clobbered my heart.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I was gifted an amazing Scrub + Massage.  I could have used one every month.
25. What kept you sane?
Regular exercise.  The wonderful support staff at my clinic.  Red wine.
26. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
You can be a generous, quiet, kind person and leave a huge impact on friends, family, and your community (see: Aunt Sudie Pearl)
27. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Bring it on!  Bring it on!  Bring it on!
Ab to Forever! and Ever!"
(its Bollywood)