Archive for February, 2012

So Much To Say, So Little Time

February 28, 2012

There’s so much animal news, and so little time. 

Some sad, some troublesome, and some hopeful.

On the sad front, I haven’t written about Jopty the Gerbil’s demise, Alice the Cat’s demise, and Gladys the Guinea Pig’s downhill slide that will probably end later this week. 

Troublesome news, as always, regards the springtime, or in this case, the unseasonably warm weather, causing cats and dogs to go into hormonal happiness.  Surging hormones once again brings roaming, yowling, fighting, attacks, and unnatural accidents, as we might refer to as “HBC”, or “Hit By Car”. 

A bit hopeful means that animal people are acting to resolve animal welfare issues.  Like shelters cooperating together to get appropriate treatment for animals, transports to relocate adoptable animals to new areas that have openings for new adoptees, and people working together to get aid for animals that need help.  There’s a case of galloping demodectic mange that has turned very problematic, and I hope to get aid to the animal before the owners, mere children, get evicted and slip away into the night.

So there you see that it’s not for a lack of topics that I haven’t been writing, but for lack of focus and hope.

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Out of the Mouths

February 18, 2012

I’m in a unique position in that I’m involved with several businesses having to do with animals.  I work for a veterinarian’s office here in this little town, and the BabyBoy is the groomer for Sugar’s grooming business.  I consider myself sweat equity at the grooming business even though mostly what I do is the banking and ordering and taking photographs.  I’m at the grooming business for a bit in the morning (sometimes) before I go to work, at lunchtime, then again after I finish at the veterinarian’s office.  At the vet’s office, we refer people to the grooming business for grooming and boarding, and at the grooming business, we refer people to the vet’s office for vaccination updates and medical issues that are noted during the grooming/boarding session.

Last week a six-month-old West Highland Terrier named Louie was at the groomer’s.  I saw him at lunchtime.  His grooming session was finished, and he was playing with some of the other dogs in the lobby area that the dogs use for playtime.  I went into the cat room, which is next to the lobby foyer, to tidy up and check on Gladys the Guinea Pig whose cage enclosure is with the cats, and I heard Louie’s owners come in to pick him up.  I heard a man, a woman, and a small child, all very happy to see Louie.  The child was chattering away, although I couldn’t hear what she was saying.  Louie went home and all was well.

*****

The next morning a man called to make an appointment for his Westie who could not use his left rear leg.  He said that he had let the dog out earlier that morning to go to the bathroom as usual, but had not stayed with the dog, and when he went to let the dog in, the dog was on three legs.  The man brought the dog for an appointment, and, yes, it was Louie.  An xray revealed a broken leg.  I called the BabyBoy while the dog was in xray, and asked if he was limping or favoring his leg during the grooming, and had the owners commented on his leg?  He confirmed what I already knew.  The dog was fine when he went home.

Louie’s leg was repaired and splinted, and he was due to come in one week later for a re-check.

*****

The following week, the man and a little girl brought Louie back for his re-examination.  The little girl was a darling little child, perhaps 2 1/2 years old with the face of a cherub.  She chattered away to me, while the owner and the vet examined the dog on the table.  The owner and the vet were engrossed in conversation over the dog, and did not hear the child say to me, “Daddy hurt Louie really bad.”

 

In Which William Starr Basinger Meets Margaret Roane Garnett

February 12, 2012
 Y’all will remember that Sugar’s great-grandfather is William Starr Basinger who wrote a book about his personal reminiscences of his life.  He was in the Savannah Volunteer Guards, and was sent to Virginia during the Civil War.  I’ve scanned 10 pages recounting his trip to Virginia and how he met his beloved.  (Left-click on any image to enlarge.)

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The Enigmatic Brazilian Woman, Part II

February 8, 2012

This is my sister-in-law.  She is bright, and funny, and generous.  She’s the one who made a special 4th of July weekend for me as my college graduation present last year.  She’s laid-back, and hard-working, and beautiful.  She’s loyal, and thoughtful, and spunky.  And she’s got aggressive bone marrow cancer. 

She married my ex-husband’s brother years ago, so I’ve probably known her for at least twenty years.  She had a less than perfect childhood, scarred by a cheating father, and she felt robbed of a happy family life.  When she married into my in-laws’s family, she thought perhaps she would have that big happy family at last.  During a 4th of July family dinner in 2010 at my father-in-law’s house, he began to criticize me, and he told me that the biggest regret that I had in my life was dropping out of school in 1978.  I told him that I hadn’t dropped out, but simply run out of money after 4 years and no degree, and I reminded him that, at that very moment, I was back in college.  Then he began to criticize my son, his own namesake.  Did I mention that my FIL was drinking?  He probably doesn’t think that he’s an alcoholic, but he certainly does drink every day.  I left the dinner and went home.   My FIL has never called nor written to apologize for his behavior.  For Thanksgiving later that year, my daughter called me to invite me to his house.  I declined, because the invitation didn’t come from him. 

My SIL and her family went to the Thanksgiving dinner, and she took a day out of her trip to come see me.  We met up, and went shopping, and out to lunch. 

At Ruan Thai Restaurant for my birthday in 2010. She said that this was an awful photo, but I think she's adorable.

We were having such a good time, and didn't want it to end, and we continued to eat. Fried ice cream! Add the letter "n", and you have "friend ice cream."

 

I’ve never had a girlfriend in my adult life like the ones you hear about.  No one to invite me over for dinner, or out for shopping or a movie, or even to a Tupperware party.  But my SIL, who had traveled with her family for 8 hours to be in the area for a so-called “family” get-together, made time to be with me.  Then this past year was the epic “I am a college graduate” blog post about our trip to Savannah.  She planned that and paid for it all, and I am deeply indebted to her generousity. 

She was diagnosed the week before Christmas, and has had two rounds of chemo.  Her hair is gone, her strength is failing, but her spirit is good.

Y’all think good thoughts.

The Enigmatic Brazilian Woman

February 7, 2012

Who is this mysterious woman?  And why should you care?

Miz Florrie’s 99th Birthday, Or In Which I Learn Soul Cooking

February 5, 2012

Miz Florrie’s daughter Rose called me two weeks ago to remind me that her mama’s birthday was on February 2, and that there was a par-tay to be had on Saturday, February 4, 2012, at noon.

The last party that I went to at Miz Florrie’s was back in July, 2011, right before Sugar bought the grooming business and I became sweat equity.  Rose had told me the party was on July 4th, but when we showed up, she said the party had been two days before on July 2.  Something about the 2nd and the 4th of the month gets switcharooed in that family.  But it hardly mattered that we were two days too late, there was still food available.  Most of us probably can’t fathom that kind of cooking on that grand a scale.  At least I know I can’t, but that was before I met Rose.

It gets even more amazing than that.  Rose cooks from scratch. 

So now the stage is set for a birthday extravaganza for Miz Florrie’s 99th.  I had told Rose that I’d be late because I had to work that day until noon, and secretly I knew that there would be food still available.  I was a bit concerned when I got to Miz Florrie’s house, and there was only one car there – Rose’s car.  I thought I’d slipped into a Twilight Zone episode and mixed up the 2nd and the 4th of the month thing.

When I rang the doorbell, Rose called for me to come in and said that they were just talking about me, although my ears had not been burning.  Rose was in the kitchen with Rachel, who once went with Rose’s son Kenny, and Rose said that Kenny letting Rachel go was the biggest mistake he ever made, and when I saw Rachel in action in the kitchen, I knew why.  Also, in the kitchen was teen-aged Eula, who was Rose’s oldest brother’s youngest daughter, plus a girl of about 7 or 8, whose name I have already forgotten. 

I got there about 1:30 PM, and they had been working in the kitchen since 10 AM.  Rose had done cooking and domestic type work for many years, and should actually be retired, but when someone needs for her to help, like eldercare or babysitting, Rose is there.  Rachel has cooked in restaurants and grocery store kitchens, plus catering and domestic work, her whole life, and I watched her open two institutional-sized cans of green beans with a butcher knife.  I am in awe of her skills.  Rachel and Rose are the stuff, and pretty soon Eula and Little Bit will be able to take over in the kitchen.  Rose anticipated that the meal would not be ready before 4 PM, because there was still serious chopping and mixing and preparation to be done.

Miz Florrie was in her bedroom, dressed up in anticipation of the big day of the family coming.  I visited with her a bit, and she said that she’d be out in the living room soon so I went back to the kitchen.  I watched Rachel cut bell peppers into impossible small pieces using only a small knife and no cutting board.  We sat at the table and Rose cut onions for what she called a “vej-a-bull” salad.  On the table, there were several cans of tuna, several bottles of barbeque sauce, a bowl of raw chicken parts, several cans of evaporated milk, a bowl of hard-boiled eggs, and other assorted boxes and bowls, including a box of band-aids. 

Rachel directed Eula on how many cups of milk to make the pudding for an elaborate dish called a “Punch Bowl”, that was actually made in not one, but two – you guessed it – punch bowls, made up of layers of sliced yellow sheet cake (yup, homemade, baked in a catering-style aluminum foil pan), pudding, bananas, strawberries, and whipped topping.  I was beginning to believe that we were going to be eating dessert, a rice dish, and some chicken, when Rachel opened the oven door.

Inside the oven were two more aluminum foil pans covered with aluminum foil.  The one on the top shelf had a picnic ham, garnished with pineapple slices and cherries, and the bottom pan was full of ribs.  The ribs were just that, ribs in the pan covered with aluminum foil, and the juices were cooked out of them, bubbling hot, and Rachel exclaimed that she was not going to pour out the juices, because that would be perfect to take home and make some collard greens, and she worried that she would have to pour them down the drain.  She commanded Rose to hand her some hand towels, and she pulled the pan out of the oven, commanded Rose to close the oven door, and then she maneuvered the pan and poured the juices into the rice pot, then commanded Rose to open the oven door, and slid the pan of ribs back into the oven without losing a drop of juice or a single rib. 

Rose continued to work on her vegetable salad, and then her potato salad, and another rice dish using jasmine rice.  Rachel started another pot cooking with the green beans and some meat for seasoning, and then she made a masterpiece of a macaroni and cheese dish.  She took yet another aluminum foil pan, filled it with cooked macaroni, still steaming hot, sprinkled three packages of shredded cheese over it, poured three or four cans of evaporated milk over that, and poured several beaten eggs over everything, covered it with more aluminum foil, and slid it into the oven, along with another aluminum foil-covered pan filled with chicken parts. 

I was in awe.  I make spaghetti in a small electric cooking pot made by Procter Silex, and pour ready-made Newman’s spaghetti sauce over it and call it done. 

There were still the bottles of barbeque sauce on the table but Rachel wasn’t having it.  She was going to make her own.  I headed to the local store to get mustard, ketchup, and a bag of ice.  When I got back, she mixed the mustard and ketchup and vinegar and a bit of brown sugar, and tasted, and mixed, and added, and mixed, and tasted, until she was satisfied. 

The birthday girl was sitting in the living room, just beaming and enjoying the day.

When Rachel asked Miz Florrie what she was doing, she replied, "just chillin'." Note her rhinestone-embellished rose-colored glasses. The epitome of chill. Also note the inkpen secured in her braid. The woman loves to keep an inkpen handy.

 Those ladies in the kitchen continued working until everything was done, somehow magically all at once.

Barbeque ribs.

Barbeque chicken.

Baked ham.

Hopping John (a great recipe here, although Rachel used some kind of small red pea/bean.)

Jasmine rice with seasonings.

“Vegetable” salad, with macaroni, peppers, onions, tuna, and hard-boiled eggs, and mayo-based dressing.

Baked macaroni and cheese.

Potato salad.

Green beans seasoned with pork.

Punch-bowl dessert.

Sweet tea and lemonade.

Rose works her magic.

Rachel works her magic.

 
And the birthday girl works her magic…
 

Precious Paisley the Problem Cat

February 3, 2012

It doesn’t take long for the word to get out. 

A few weeks ago, the BabyBoy, who is a groomer at the local dog grooming salon owned by Sugar, got a phone call from a woman about her problem with her cat.  It seems that the cat didn’t want to use the litter box.  Why she called him, I don’t know, but perhaps the word was out that he’s a friendly, helpful sort, and she was clearly desperate.  When he told me about the desperate woman, he also said that she was old.

Now, BabyBoy is young, so “old” can have a different meaning for him than it does for me.  Heh. 

He made some suggestions about what to do about the cat and the problem.  The woman called him again the next day, with the same problem, and he made the same suggestions, and then she did the unthinkable. 

She showed up at the grooming salon with the cat, and gave. her. up.  BabyBoy called me, a bit rattled and confused, because, really, why would you just show up somewhere with your cat and say, “here you go”, or something along those lines?  After I finished work at the vet’s office, I went to the grooming salon to meet the cat. 

O.  No.  It was Paisley. 

I’ve been worried about Paisley and her owner, the purported old woman, who is indeed old.  I know them both from where I work at the vet’s office.  I was surprised last year when ancient Mrs. PaisleyOwner got a kitten.  The kitten turned into Paisley, actually a very nice cat, but she has skin allergies.

More importantly, Paisley is allergic to fleas.  Mrs. PaisleyOwner would call the vet’s office from time to time to report that Paisley was losing her hair, and sure enough, when Paisley would come in for a visit, she would have fleas, and her skin would be scabby and flaky and dry, and her hair was falling out.  She generally would get an allergy shot, and by the time the office visit was over, there was no money left for flea prevention.  So the cycle of flea reproduction would continue, and Paisley never really got better.

Cats that do not use the litterbox are not doing it to piss off their owners, although folks will call our office to report that their cat is messing with them, and just peeing and pooping outside the box to make the owner mad.  Well, not really, but inappropriate litterbox behavior generally indicates to a medical issue, like a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, diabetes, etc.  If a medical issue is not found, then perhaps your cat really is trying to drive you insane.  In my mind, if I were crawling with fleas, I’d pee outside the box, too.  Now there’s a desperate cry for help.

So anyway, here was precious Paisley, dropped off by her owner, an ancient lady with a cane.  I asked the BabyBoy if he got her to sign off that she was relinquishing the cat, and he said that he couldn’t talk to her because she was crying.  The owner, not the cat.

After the crying owner left, the BabyBoy found fleas on Paisley, so he gave her a bath, dried her, and settled her into the former cat room where Errol the Feral, Gerald, and Car E. used to live and had since graduated to a larger room.  She ate well, drank well, and USED THE LITTERBOX well.  She looked really content in her bed on the wide windowsill in the afternoon sun.  I used a tube of Advantage Multi on her to make sure that she continued to be flea-free for a month.

Believe it or not, she is actually contented, no matter what her expression might tell you.

The next morning, BabyBoy called me to report that Paisley had licked a raw spot on her left side about the size of half your palm.  I’d had such faith in Paisley, because I was convinced that she had temporary insanity caused by fleas, and now she was doing some kind of OCD Lady Macbeth behavior. 

Two days went by, Paisley was still doing okay and still using the litterbox, and had stopped the OCD stuff, and then her owners showed up.  (Insert ominous movie-music here.  Or a drumroll.  Or whatever works for you to show imminent doom.)  I have not mentioned yet that Mrs. PaisleyOwner has a traveling companion, a male counterpart who I believe is not Mr. PaisleyOwner, but is Mr. MainSqueeze.  Heh.  Life is funny like that.  So.  They had actually come to pick up Paisley’s crate, which had been left behind in the tearful aftermath of dropping her off, and they had gotten their senses together enough to visit Paisley and pick up the crate.  They petted her, and oohed and aahed over her, and then they put the open crate in the floor and said, “Do you want to get into your box and go home?”  And Precious Paisley walked right up to the crate, and BabyBoy thought, *she’s going to go in the crate*, and Paisley looked in the crate, and turned her head and walked away, turning a cold shoulder.  She had things pretty good the way they were going. 

After five days, Paisley stopped using the litterbox.  So I gave her another litterbox, this one filled with traditional clumping litter, and put it next to the original litterbox with pine pellets (which break down when wet and turn into mulch and is purely awesome).  She started using the box with the clumping litter, plus I sprayed the room with a pheromone spray which helps to calm cats.  (The pheromone spray is completely odorless, and comes in a spray mist or a plug-in diffuser and is the answer to a lot of problems that cats have.  Google it, really.  It’s a fascinating concept that actually works.)

Sugar wanted to take Problem Paisley to the vet for an exam, and I argued with him – ohyesIdid – that Paisley needed time at the cat spa and sabbatical resort to unwind and regroup.  Leave her alone with some benign neglect since her fleas were gone.  He wanted the licky spot on her side to be examined, but I argued that it was not infected, so let’s don’t throw money at the problem.  Then he wanted to know what the plan was for Paisley, although clearly I didn’t have a plan past eat/drink/pee/poop. 

After ten days, Paisley’s owners showed up to reclaim her.  They paid her bill.  And lived mostly happily ever after.  I suppose I should go see them with a monthly flea treatment, because flea eggs hatch out in less than a month, and I feel like I should reach out to these folks who just wanted a nice cat, and we all could use a little love and support from time to time.

Because really?  That cat’s gonna ix-nay on the itterbox-lay if she gets infested with fleas again.