Friday, December 15, 2017

Ho-Ho-Holey Cow.

I was trying to sum up the past couple of weeks as foodstuffs.  Why?  By now, you should know that my brain works in mysterious ways...even to me...  I would say that it's been sliders with a heavy dose of ketchup.
Skating our way to mid-winter
As mid-winter trundles its way towards us, I have found myself woefully unprepared.  I toddled out to do chores in -1 degree F and slid my way toward the barn, having not brought out my heavy-duty treaded boots.  (Get it?  Slid?  Sliders?  Hoagies?)  I inched back in and corrected my footwear.  After all, as my dear mom keeps reminding me, 'you've got a LOT of dependents and we can't look after them for you!'  We have been the recipients of an onslaught from the Arctic which, although not unexpected for this time of year, has caught me off-guard.  The upside of this frigid weather (and there is always an upside...somewhere) is that the fireplace is back in use!
That is Slimbo's bed in the primo place
I tell you, it is almost impossible to drag myself away, but needs-must.  You know, all those dependents.
Good, but worth the effort?  The Jury is out.
Last weekend I was graced with the lovely Sylvie - maybe it should be 'blessed', as that was twice in two weeks that I have spent time with her!  She came back to her hometown to help celebrate the 100th birthday of a family friend and stayed with me until Sunday morning.  I thought I would take advantage of having dinner company by trying a recipe out of my collection of Moosewood cookbooks (my FAVORITES, all of them).  It sounded good and I had everything but the cilantro on hand.  After much peeling, slicing, steaming, cooking, and layering, a pan of Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin went into the oven for an hour.  And came out...raw.  WTH?  We figured out that I had put it into a deeper casserole than requested (I was showing off - it was my fanciest baking dish), so on went a lid of foil, up went the oven temp and onto the lowest rack it went for another 20 minutes.  It came out fine the second time around.  Still...there were so many things we'd change about it, that I doubt I will make it again.  I did find that the leftovers were better than the original go-around.

As far as the heavy dose of catch-up (or ketchup, catsup, tomato-saucey-stuff), I pulled open my sock drawer to find *gasp* one lone pair of woolen socks!  I ended up spending a good deal of time hand-washing my socks and hanging them over the heating vent to dry.  My goal is to have at least two-weeks-worth of socks, just in case.  I also decided to tackle the pantry/cat room.  For years, it has been the repository of bulk food stores, canned/preserved food - you know, everything a Prairie Farmwife from the 30s would have on hand for her family of 12.  I had everything crammed onto a five-shelf plastic storage rack, a narrow antique cupboard, and in precarious stacks in the closet.  I used a gift card to purchase a new, metal, six-shelf storage unit (the need to assemble this behemoth, I blissfully ignored) and, after struggling for a week to get the goldang thing together, I managed to shoehorn it into the space vacated by the cupboard.  I have plans for the cupboard (thanks to Sylvie) but that has gone onto The List.  All this moving around of canning jars forced me to examine my stash.  Canned green beans from 2011?  Chicken feed.  Zucchini relish from 2009?  Compost.  I managed to empty and clean seven boxes of various-sized canning jars - in excess of the two dozen of each size that I saved for...whatever.  I put them on trash-nothing!, which has, apparently, replaced freecycle in my area, and they were picked up in a day.  Boy, that felt good!  I still have to deal with everything in the plastic shelving unit, but I did discover that I have six jars of apple mincemeat (yay!) left, and the rug cleaner and floor steamer can now be stowed away in the newly half-emptied closet!  Double Yay!

All this purging left me exhausted, so I made a pot of ginger tea, took out my latest knitting, and snuggled up with a warm pup.
Double cabled headband in
Sapphire Wool of the Andes
I'm hers, she's mine.

Monday, December 11, 2017

It's all a matter of taste.

As I tossed down the chickens' "treats" this morning, I reflected on the vagaries of taste.  They attacked the pile o' stuff (bread, rice, lettuce, unknown reddish swill) with a veracity that made you think that they were starving.  Not the case, as attested to by the 50 pounds of local feed mix that they consume a week.  Ducks are more particular, it seems.  They are not interested in anything but greens.  This may be because their beaks are rounded and they have to work mightily to rip a leaf of any size into dainty bits. 

Lovey will eat just about anything.  She doesn't actually chew, she Hoovers.  Peanut Butter is a little more circumspect when there is any change to his food dish.  They are currently eating an easy-over egg for breakfast (every other day), mixed with grain-free, salmon-only kibble (in PB's case, for small breed dogs = tiny bits), topped with thawed, pre-cooked, human-grade turkey with sweet potatoes and greens.  Moistened with homemade broth (turkey at the moment).  PB gets his meals in a soupy state, as he does not drink enough water due to confinement.  Scrappy was game to try anything, although I distinctly remember his run-in with a grape - he rolled it around in his mouth for a good 15 minutes, giving me the big moo-moo eyes.  He waited until my back was turned and then spat it out into a corner.  Where it lay until Slimbo found it and batted it all over the house.  And then I stepped on it.

Slimbo gets a half-can of wet food and a couple of handfuls of grain-free, indoor cat, kibble.  He is adamant about both.  Only Rachel Ray's Indoor Cat kibble and only Friskies (with gravy/sauce) wet food.  He could live on their turkey in crab sauce.  OMG.  I get the dry heaves just typing that.

The llama prefers graham crackers over just about anything, with apples coming second.  Norman feels the same way, but requires his apples sliced into bite-sized pieces.  Linden will inhale apples, Grahams and pumpkins.

If I had to list my favorite sandwiches, they would be (in no particular order), PB, pickle and mayo; warm, sliced hard-boiled eggs with salt and mayo; hard salami with pepper jack cheese (grilled); and grilled cheese with pickles.  The best of all - a pastrami Rueben on rye, with coleslaw and grilled.  My arteries are very thankful for my GF status.

What rings your Pavlov's bell?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Delusional Dog Mom.

Yes, yes.  I know it's been all about dogs for weeks.  Welcome to my reality.  Four long weeks have gone by with Peanut Butter in lockdown.  He has been exceptionally good about it, and for that I am thankful.  Besides the initial vet and specialist costs, there have been laser treatments and an amazing amount of gear that has been necessary to keep him safe and non-bouncing.  I expect him to require private school at any moment.

There is the ramp.  When I pulled it out of the box, Slimbo shot out of the living room like a cannonball.  Peanut Butter has had the same reaction - like it's radioactive.  Lovey just looked worried, which has become her permanent state of mind.  There is the booster seat.  It is strapped onto the front passenger seat of the car and it allows PB to ride to his countless laser treatments firmly and safely clipped in place.  It also allows me to tuck a large fleece blanket around him and it's high enough that he can see out of the window.  I tried putting it in the back seat, thinking it would be safer - I am mimicking child seats, as I have no experience in momhood - but there ensued much howling and yipping as 'mom' was further than six inches away.  Then there is the sling.  Since I have to carry him everywhere and he is a chunky monkey, this has saved me some wear and tear.  However, the sling is made for a maximum of 15lbs. and he's 19lbs.  We manage with a little staggering on my part.

Monday morning was his evaluation with the new vet and I was there, rose-colored glasses firmly in place, babbling on about how great he was doing, how hard it was to 'keep him down', blah, blah, blah.  We have been there so often, that PB has his own fan club.  The vet smiled, nodded and then took him for a walk.  Without me.  At first I was bothered by this, but, in the instance of PB, it is better to get his 'mom' out of view.  He is very protective of me and will carry on if strangers get near or between us.  Unless they have treats.  When she came back, the verdict was that he still has a way to go.  I removed the rose-colored glasses and pulled out my checkbook.  Six more weeks of treatments (mercifully, only one a week), Cosequin daily ($special$...of course), and a very tightly managed schedule of physical therapy to bring him back up to normal function.  I hope he/we can maintain his/our patience with this extension.  He longs to be Peanut "Full Speed Ahead" Butter again.  We all long for that.

Meanwhile, there are the other kids to consider.  Lovey should be renamed Velcro, as she is curled in a tight bundle next to me at every opportunity (when Slimbo is not in possession of the spot), her little brow creased with worry lines.  Lovey misses her playmate and I am a sorry substitute.  She keeps trying to get Slimbo interested, but he's having none of it. 

Me?  I'm running on Plan Bs.

Monday, November 27, 2017

It took a village.

I was afraid to say it out loud before the weekend, but I managed to get away for two days.  That's right.  I feel the same way.  But, as in all things in my life, it was NOT straightforward.

Before I can leave my crew for even an overnighter, certain things must fall into place.  My sister, Auntie Con is my steadfast (and adored) house/farm sitter.  She cannot come to me unless my other sister, Auntie Baby, can cover the nonagenarian parental front, which Auntie Con covers with great skill, patience and compassion - it's like two full time jobs.  Auntie Baby must come from her home (and full-time teaching job) three plus hours away.

Then, I must have someplace to go - someplace that I can reach by car within the time restraints.  I drive a ten-year-old car with occasional (okay, constant) issues.  It must be on a weekend because I have almost no vacation days left and I am reserving those I do have because, you know, veterinary issues often arise.  I am lucky to have such a BFF as Sylvie, who did not blink when I invited myself for Thanksgiving.

Since Thanksgiving is a holiday and Auntie Baby was planning on coming up anyway, one piece of the village was in place.  Auntie Con was more than ready to hand over parental care duties for a brief respite and she loves my crew.  Two down, one to go.  I go in to have my oil changed and....iffy ball joint and transmission issues.  At this point, I sat myself down and had a heart-to-heart with me.  I decided to rent a car - damn the expense, full gas tank ahead! - because I was going to see Sylvie, no matter if retirement is starting to fade into the future...

In an email exchange with my friend, Marianne, I asked her if I could park my car at her farm so that the rental place could pick me up.  I did not want to impose on my elderly neighbor, who would have to drive in the dark.  Without batting an eyelash, she offered her car so I wouldn't have to rent one.  Let me interject here that I covet her car - a Mini Cooper Countryman.
I didn't have a chance to take a picture of hers - but
you get the drift.  Cute, ain't it?
When Wednesday morning came around, I was hardly believing that my village was still intact and that I would be going to see Sylvie.  Then I trotted out to dump the compost, slipped on the frosty grass and twisted both knee and ankle.  As I sat on the ground, checking for broken anything, I decided that, as long as I was able to walk, I was going.

And I went.
I didn't sleep ALL the time... I got
chauffeured around.

We saw the ocean.

One of my favorite SoPo parks.

Their new guest quarters that are so
completely cozy and comfortable.
It shows what a good friend Sylvie is, when someone horns in on a family dinner, then spends most of the time sleeping.  Not only did she take me in and feed me well, but she clothed me, too!  I didn't have to raid my favorite Goodwill in South Portland because she handed on to me such a splendid array of garments that I am set for the year!  She is a peach.  She also inspires me to bring order to my life, so I also came home with some ideas on how to whip myself (and house) into shape.

I almost didn't mind that Monday came so fast...almost.
Someone was very happy I was

Friday, November 17, 2017

Two Alarm GF Bagels.

A rushed breakfast this morning, as I had to skedaddle out the door at 7A with both pooches in tow for our trek to the City.  I thought it would be kind to bring Lovey along, seeing as she is usually left behind to fret and we are only in the vet's office for a grand total of 15 minutes.  She whined coming and going.  Two solid hours of whine.  GoD only knows if she kept it up as she was guarding the car - looking all Gangsta, in her saggy grey hoodie.  Better she stays somewhere she feels secure, without adding to the stress of two bouts of rush hour traffic with her lunatic mother.
These bagels are from my very favorite local bakery - local meaning less than three hours away.  They have the BEST GF bread I have eaten.  It is almost like bread!  Unfortunately, they are a good hour+ away and not in a direction I travel often.  I was thrilled, however, to chance upon them in the indoor farmers market in the Capitol Concourse, during my Wednesday trot to the state library a few weeks ago.  This Wednesday, I dutifully trotted back, going through high-level security each way, to stock up.  In our state, I think the security is there mostly to protect them from their constituents - whom they ignore completely until they are up for reelection.  Every time I go through, the half-pound of metal in my ankle sets off the alarm and I am wanded within an inch of my life.

I was, unfortunately, disappointed in the bagels - a little heavy on the vinegar - but their bread makes the scrutiny all worth it!

Monday, November 13, 2017


Peanut Butter is making progress!  When he lifted his leg to pee on a weed this weekend and didn't fall over, I was beside myself with joy!  Apparently, I need a life.  Also, apparently, I need to really keep an eye on him - since he's feeling better, he also feels he does not need to be in a crate.  I finally put his halter on so I would have something to grab onto while he tries to make his escape - otherwise, it's like wrestling with an eel.

Lovey, meanwhile, not only has lost the fun of having a playmate, but has the additional burden of having to wear her hoodie sweatshirt.  Because of her rather odd physique (deep chest with slender-ish everything else), her hoodie is stretched and sagging around her knees within 10 minutes of putting it on.
Waiting outside PB's jail cell.

Oh, mother.
It was a very frigid weekend (ergo, the hoodie sweatshirt - I didn't do it because I was THAT kind of a dog mom.  Really.  Honest.) so my time outside was fairly limited.  Instead, I focused on the Unlist and hand-washed 9 pairs of socks, vacuumed, swept, straightened, cleaned bathrooms, made soup (I'm working my way through my Moosewood cookbooks), made chili and cornbread, baked a big pan of brown rice, and made more headway on clearing out the UCG (unknown canned goods) that are cluttering my canning shelves.  I also forced myself to go to the Laundromat.  I think my sense of dread comes from all those years of living in apartments and, consequently, all those mind-numbing hours sat in dreary, linoleum-floored rooms, watching my laundry go round and round.  It makes me feel like Ratso Rizzo.  However, my washer cannot handle a load of area rugs and the sofa covers.  So, off I went.  It was a great way to get some quiet knitting time in - there were only a handful of fellows (who, I noticed, crammed six loads of dirty laundry into the cheapest/smallest washer they found.  No sorting of darks and lights to be seen.)  I distributed my laundered rugs over the deck railing when I got home, as I am too cheap to ante up the cash for their dryers.  Plus, I can only stand being there through a wash cycle.
Quiet time
I did feel very virtuous, though.  Lots more things mentally ticked off the Unlist. 

Peanut Butter goes to his third vet this afternoon for evaluation as to whether he is a candidate for laser treatments on his back.  I am putting on my Pollyanna glasses for this - he has come quite a way with just confinement and he is young.  I am for anything that will hasten his recovery.  The only appointment this vet had available was at 1 o'clock.  It is in the city, so there was no way I was going to drive in (1 hour), then drive home (ditto), then drive back to the city (ditto2), then drive home, you get the drift.  Feeling like the mother of an infant, I picked up a booster seat for the car and a portable kennel for the office.  I really don't know how women can manage all that paraphernalia - and carry their baby.  I got as far as the office garage (after making four trips from house to car at the get-go) and was stumped.  Luckily, the building super appeared and saved our bacon - he schlepped the kennel upstairs and pushed all the buttons and opened the doors (also turning on the lights).  Then he made a second trip down to retrieve the blankie and leash that I forgot. 
Portable Stir.
I'm hoping the treatments do their job.  I'm too old for motherhood.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How to put the challenge into your day.

Tuesday morning started out with everything going for it.
Good book, a variety of knitting,
pumpkin spice coffee.  Heaven.
When I schlepped the goober outside for his early morning constitutional, I noticed - to my horror - that his back end was having trouble maneuvering.  As soon as the clock struck 8, I put a call in to my vet and they squeezed us in at 10.  This produced a flurry of emails with my office nobs (one of whom dislikes dogs) wherein I stated confidently that I would be in directly, following the dropping off at home of PB.

Oh, ha.
What a pair we are, waiting
for the neurologist and a couple
of ibuprofens
The vet took one look at PB and declared "you need a neurologist!"  I scooped him up and trotted out in the direction of my car.  Before I reached it, I managed to trip over an uneven patch and had gone headlong - hanging onto PB for dear life until just before impact, when I sort of slid him forward.  I did manage not to injure him further, but my right knee received the brunt of the impact.  As did my best pair of jeans, dammit.  I gimped him to the car and then gimped back into the vet's office to pay.  They took one look at my knee, sat me down and started to work.  If you're going to take a header, it's better to do it in proximity of people with medical knowledge.  We joked about how vet wrap is to vets what duct tape is to farmers.

After taking off the sticky wrap that
was to make sure the vet wrap
didn't slip.  She is nothing if not

With my knee firmly bandaged, I hobbled back to the car and we headed an hour west to a veterinary specialist.  By the time we pulled into the emergency entrance, the shock had worn off and my knee was throbbing.  And I was getting the little brown stink eye from PB.  Long and painful story short, he was diagnosed with invertebral disc disease and I received an ice pack and two ibuprofens.  And a sizeable bill.  I was happy they didn't charge me for the ice pack or meds.  My only two options, according to them, was to keep PB in strict confinement, on pain meds, for four weeks OR get an MRI done with surgery to follow.  Hmmm.  $168 or $7000+?  Let me think about it - for a nanosecond.  They felt we had caught the problem quickly enough that there was a pretty good chance (65%) that the confinement would work.  By the time we got out of there (after a blow by blow stream of emails to the office, whether they gave a damn or not), we didn't arrive home until 3 o'clock.  We were both exhausted.  I gave PB his pain meds (liquid - citrus flavored.  Why? Why not liver?) which he hates, swaddled him in six fleece blankets and put him in his crate.  I was about to self-medicate, since it was 5 o'clock somewhere, but remembered I had to vote.  This is a small town.  Had I sashayed into the polling place, the Election Ladies would have had their antennae going and the fact that they detected Sauvignon Blanc at 3:30 would have raced through the town like wildfire.

I voted, did my chores and fixed an extra-special doggie dinner.  Then I fixed an extra-special Doggie Mommie dinner that only required one glass.  Sleeping was a little rough, as I kept turning over the fact that I chose the cheaper way out than what may be better for the little guy.  By 2 o'clock, I gave up and got up.  I had pretty much decided that I would find a way to pay for it.  I was not going to have PB end up paralyzed.  He did seem a little, tiny bit more steady this morning, so that gave me a boost.  Then, as I rehashed the day with our office building super (he and his wife have 7 dogs and are super-rescuers), he mentioned laser treatments.  Apparently, there is a third option that has proven highly successful in the treatment of IDD.  At a fraction of the cost, with no meds.  I will be consulting with a third vet tomorrow.  Geezlouise.