Sunday, May 29, 2011

Really, Jeeves?

Jeeves is in the Cornell Companion Animal Hospital right now awaiting
surgery for an obstruction of the small intestine.  He should be
having the surgery this afternoon, and will stay in the hospital for
two or three days afterward.  His prognosis is good.

The first signs of the bowel obstruction showed up yesterday morning
when he puked up his breakfast.  He continued to throw up fluid
throughout the day.  We brought him to the vet in the evening when he
turned down his dinner and then puked up the dog treat that Alice gave
him to see if he had any appetite at all.  They took x-rays and didn't
find anything one way or the other.  So, they gave him fluids and sent
him home with instructions for how to treat "dietary indiscretion,"
the most likely and easily treatable cause of vomiting.  This morning,
when we gave him water, after twelve hours without, he puked it all up
about 20 minutes later.  So, we went back to the vet, where they were
able to take a look inside of him using ultrasound.  They found a
bolus in his small intestine, approximately 11 cm long with a 2.5 cm
diameter.  So, they recommended surgery.  We agreed, and they kept

We caught the obstruction very soon after it happened, so everything
should go well.  The vet seemed very positive---she thought that
getting the obstruction out as soon as possible was the very best
thing to do.  So, it's up to the surgeon and Jeeves, now.  Good luck,
little buddy.

Thursday I came home to dog sick all over the rug and in the closet and in all sorts of other strange places. I called Ryan and asked him if he had been the one to throw up all over the rug and he said, "No. But Jeeves did throw up his breakfast."

He seemed fine, so I chalked it up to a dog being a dog and bundled him and Barnaby over to the barn. He ran around and played as normal and then we went home. 

Then he refused dinner. I gave him a treat, which he took, albeit almost more out of custom more than any interest. Then he threw it up, whole. At which point I called Cornell and they said bring him in.

After many hours of waiting and a massive tornado/thunderstorm, we went home with an inconclusive diagnosis. That is to say, they looked at the radiographs of his chest and stomach and found nothing, which didn't rule out anything except something mysteriously called "mega-esophagus". Our instructions were to not feed him for 24 hours or give him water for 12. They also gave him subcutaneous fluids so he had a wobbly, jiggly, camel hump that he spent most of the evening trying to get away from. 

"It's under your skin, Jeeves. You can't actually get away from it."

The thunderstorm or the intestinal distress or the fact that it's probably hard to find  comfortable sleeping position when you have a blob of saline solution quivering like jelly sitting on your back made him restless and I don't think he slept a wink. Then, in the morning, after watching him shift his weight repeatedly trying to find a comfortable position, we gave him a little bit of water. He responded by spewing bright green (it was quite a pretty colour) liquid and undigested grass all over the carpet. I put on some pants and we packed him off to Cornell. 

Ryan sent out the above email a few hours after we'd received the diagnosis. In a way it was a relief that they found an obstruction - much worse things like cancer or liver failure had crossed my mind repeatedly. 

The surgery, that they did on Friday, resulted in the discovery of a winter squash stem. I have no idea where he found a squash stem this time of year, particularly because he has been on house arrest for the last two weeks due to a completely unrelated injury (a mysterious black eye). 

Anyway. His prognosis is very positive. He apparently tried to leave when they took him out of his crate for the first time after his surgery - which is very Jeeves. 

I still can't get the look of his little face as we stood in the hall watching him be led away. They asked us to stay until he couldn't see us anymore because it would be easier to get him to come with them. He kept craning his head around trying to see us. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sorrel Soup

I made a sorrel soup the other night. It was a recipe my mother sent me a long time ago that I had never tried, because I never got around to looking for sorrel. I bought some at the farmer's market last weekend and then realised that it grows all over the place. It is, in fact, not only a weed, but the same weed I spent my childhood smearing myself with after encountering a stinging nettle (there is no scientific evidence that it is actually effective, but to my memory, it worked. There is definitely something to be said for the placebo effect). 


A big bunch osorrel leaves, stems trimmed off.  Wash well as for spinach.
Potato scrubbed but leave skin on.  Chop into cubes and  parboil or put in microwave for 4-5 minutes.
Bunch of spring onions chopped fine including greens
3 Cups of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons Olive oil
Nutmeg, salt & pepper

Heat oil, medium, add onions and sorrel leaves
, stir and cook for three minutes till leaves turn bright green.
Add potato, vegetable stock, cook for about 6 minutes or until potato is fully cooked.
Grate in nutmeg
Leave to cool a bit and blend til smooth, return to pan to heat through if necessary.
Taste, add salt & pepper to liking.

Has it's own flavor, doesnt taste like anything else.

Oh I also added a large pinch of dry mint with the potato & veg stock.

enjoy elaine

It's a teensy bit poisonous though, do you shouldn't have gallons of it. And the nutmeg is key! I used regular onions instead of spring and started the onions first - before adding the sorrel. In the future, I would leave the onions in longer to get them to sweeten up a bit more as a counter to the sour sorrel, although that wouldn't be necessary with spring onions.

I had it with two whole grain Ryvita crackers with some peanut butter. So satisfying.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Electrical Fire

Today my office mate stood up in shock saying, "There's something burning in here!"

We systematically and quickly checked all the sockets and found nothing. Next, I ran downstairs and checked the kitchen. The smell was stronger downstairs but there was no discernible source. I decided, after looking in the other downstairs rooms, to call the maintenance manager.

While waiting for him to come and see what he could do, I checked the Norwegian Ugly Man's office. He was on the phone. He looked up at me and held his nose to indicate there was a bad smell. His door to the outside was wide open.

The maintenance man showed up and I went upstairs to my office. It then occurred to me that 1)The smell was much, much stronger downstairs. 2)He works downstairs. His office door was wide open. 3)He works in an office that was full of a smell (I mean a BAD SMELL, a GET OUT OF BUILDING! smell, a Chemicals! Burning! Don't breathe it in or you will suffer irreparable damage! smell) of an electrical fire and he did NOTHING about it, failing to alert the others in the building (me) or call the people who could potentially prevent our deaths.

Another flag for you, Mister Norwegian Ugly. Although, I am surprised that my office mate was able to smell the burn smell above the mold smell in our office.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yay! I had a root canal!

Yesterday I had the third root canal attempt done on the cranky, nasty, MEAN tooth that has plagued me since it decided not to grow into the nice little gap that its predecessor had left for it and rather grow sideways, along the gum line, hoping to never see sunlight. It had to be tortured into submission by way of a tiny set of chain links bolted to it that was gradually shortened every few weeks, link by link.It recently decided to exact further revenge by abscessing.

I am terrified of the dentist. I have that thing where going to the dentist makes you scared and nauseated, then you lie in the chair and they say open your mouth and you have to fight back tears of absolute terror and repress the urge to scream (which is not easy with your mouth open). I have been focusing on trying to be a more responsible person though and that means things like going to the appropriate medical person when in severe pain. So, instead of ignoring the pain in order to avoid going to the dentist, I went to the dentist. Shaking and sweating all the way there. I had a bit of concern when I described the pain and they wanted to see me immediately. I started to try and say things like,

"Well, it isn't that bad. Maybe I just have a really low tolerance for pain..."

"Can you come in at 2:30 today?"

I went (see "responsible person") and they did some x-rays, after which the dentist walked in and said, "Well. You have an abscess. You have a couple of options. One, we can remove the tooth."

At which point, the room started spinning and I'm sure a look of horrorfear slid across my face and I probably stopped breathing.

"Or we can do a root canal."

To which my reaction was actual relief, then horrorfear, then the room started spinning.

"I'll take the root canal" I whispered.

"That's what I'd recommend."

But he couldn't actually do the root canal because the tooth itself is so damaged and full of ill will that it has "calcified" which means he couldn't actually get to the root canal.

So, still in pain, prescription for antibiotics in one hand, phone number for an endodontist in the other and a little dizzy from oxygen deprivation, I drove home and cried for awhile.

The next day, I took a bunch of ibuprofen and called the endodontist for an appointment.

Yesterday was actually the second trip to the endodontist who had the same issue as the dentist and had informed me that I would probably need surgery.

"Yeah. Well. We'll try again. But, there's so much calcification in there...."

The good news is that despite everyone's skepticism and the general stubborn nature of that stupid tooth, she managed it and I don't have to have surgery.

Which is why I'm excited that I had a root canal.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deep Freeze

I really want a deep freeze.

We've decided to buying a pressure cooker for this summer, which will help, but I really want a deep freeze. 

I eat a lot of frozen fruit this time of year (a favourite breakfast/snack: frozen peaches and blueberries with yoghurt, nuts and ground flax seed), because I really want to eat fruit and nothing is in season yet. I'd like to freeze my own fruit this summer, but there just isn't room in our freezer.

Last summer we picked peaches (among other things) at Indian Creek Farm. We kept intending to freeze some but ate them all up before we had a chance to prepare them. I mentioned this to a friend who scoffed: "Indian Creek is not organic - they spray everything". 

I came to the conclusion a long time ago that organic is pretty much meaningless to me, as far as labeling goes. It's nice that our CSA farm follows organic practices - which is more interesting to me because what they do contributes to the overall health of the land they are farming, rather than their resistance to using pesticides - but I'd pick local over organic any day. Give me a "conventionally" grown peach from 3 miles down the road over an organic one from California. Our CSA, incidentally, is not certified organic. 

It's also nice that I have the option of choosing a local peach though. There is so much good food, so near by and yet, I can't fit it all into my freezer! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Norwegian Ugly

Several months ago, I overheard a man in my building complaining about a student who wasn't just ugly, she was Norwegian ugly.

I wasn't entirely sure what he meant by Norwegian ugly, but it sounded to me like he was personally offended by the fact that she had the nerve to be unattractive, in addition to being a poor student.

This man is also morbidly obese. The bathroom is directly below my office and I can tell you that he either needs more or less fiber in his diet, but the amount that he is getting is not right. Once, I was leaving work and I caught him shuffling out of the kitchen, towards the bathroom, gripping his trousers around his waist, apparently having preemptively started unbuttoning them. The top of his underwear was visible and the bottom of his pendulous stomach, peaking out from bottom of his polo shirt. I looked shocked and then I looked away and he mumbled sorry and scuttled (as well as he could) into the bathroom.

Just now, I overheard him in the kitchen (he's got a loud voice, so it's fairly easy to echo-locate him as well as hear and understand what he is saying, no matter where you are in the building) talking about Ron Paul. Someone walked into the bathroom and turned on the fan before I could figure out whether he was supporting or denouncing him. I found myself making an effort to hear him because I really wanted another story.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tonight's dessert

Tonight I melted chocolate chips and poured the result into Jersey cow yogurt from Meadow Creek Farm in Interlaken.Yum.

Yesterday, I went on the first trail ride of the year. I took Ruby. Here is a blurry picture of us:

Last night, among other things, I went to the Shop for an espresso and looked at my friend Ken's artwork.

Right now, a huge ant is frantically trying to escape Barnaby and Jeeves is nursing a black eye from an unknown source (we spent all morning at the vet...).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mother's Day conversation.

I talked to my mother on Mother's Day. Two of my parents neighbours have been diagnosed with something life threatening (congestive heart failure, metastasizing cancer) and my father's long time friend has to have a stent replaced.

The neighbour that has cancer has had a crappy time of it. Her son died of cancer several months ago, somewhat unexpectedly and she didn't tell anyone about it until she flew into a rage at my mother, lashing out because no one had asked her about her son. No one had asked, because no one knew - she hadn't told anyone that he was dying.

It was a pretty dramatic situation. She was screaming at my mother through her closed door about how she wanted nothing to do with her or anyone else in the cul de sac. We talked about it a little during this conversation. My mother said she didn't mind that it had happened because she understood that people might need to behave badly when they have terrible things happen to them. Although the situation was distressing at the time, she was glad that the neighbour felt comfortable enough to scream at my mother and call her lousy things.

Adult Prom

If a New York time trend piece is to believed (and it probably isn't), people who are no longer in high school are attending "adult proms". Well, I guess only women are, because they only interviewed women for the article.

I went to prom my junior year in a borrowed dress and my boyfriend's Dodge Neon. He really wanted to go - he had gone the year before (he was a year older than me) and had had a blast. All I remember from the evening is eating strawberries at Margo's house beforehand, standing in line to check my coat behind two girls discussing whether or not they should "do it" with their dates (they didn't feel like it, but they felt it was a breach of etiquette not to put out after he'd spent all that money), standing in line to get our picture taken and standing in line to get my coat back.My limited memory of this event has nothing to do with alcohol (my boyfriend, at the time, didn't drink and I had limited access to alcohol and also was fairly unaware as to its abilities improve an otherwise tedious situation) and mostly to do with how unmemorable the evening was for me, the prom was the awkwardness of the forced romanticism, the terrible, terrible (terrible!) music and a Mean Girl atmosphere..

These women, trying to "re-create one of the best times of their lives" baffle and depress me. For example, I enjoyed college, but I'm not really interested in recreating the best times I had, not just because of the legal implications,but also because of the fact that as fun as it was, there are other things that interest me more. I guess what I'm asking is, don't these women have better things going on in their lives?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rampy pasta and lentil salad

I've not posted anything food related in a while, so here goes:

On another note:

Last night I experimented with ramps. I thought, originally that I felt like having one of our brothy asian style soups (it's a component of our repertoire - tasty, savory, usually spicy broth poured over raw or barely cooked vegetables and then, possibly, a poached egg, lovingly added to float on top of everything) but decided that, since it was my first time cooking and eating ramps, I wanted to do something a little more classic and something that would feature the ramps more, seeing as I wanted to determine what there actual flavour was.

So I put a pot of spaghetti on and while waiting for the water to boil I washed my ramps and separated the leaves from the bulb ends. I sliced the bulbs up and tossed them in a pan with some olive oil (rather more than I might have otherwise - I intended it as a dressing for the pasta), oyster mushrooms (sliced to be a similar size to the ramps and at ratio of 1 to 1, mushrooms to ramps), salt and pepper. I took the leaves, rolled them up and sliced them into ribbons. Then, when the pasta was drained and returned to its pot, I poured the sauteed ramps and mushrooms over the spaghetti (and scraped out all the olive oil with a spatula). Then I added the ramp greens and tossed it all together. Yum. Sweet and woodsy but nice and mellow oniony too.

For protein, and before I made the spaghetti dish, I threw together a lentil salad. I put green lentils on to cook until still firm (cooked all the way, mind you, just not falling apart) with a bay leaf. While this was cooking, I diced a small onion fairly finely (I wanted them to be at least similar in size to the lentils, but still wanted actual pieces of onion, so I refrained from actual mincing) and put half of it in a bowl (the rest went in the fridge). I squeezed 2 lemons into the onions and also added 2 cloves of crushed garlic and salt and pepper. I let that sit while the lentils finished cooking, then I drained the lentils and added them to the bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. Tossed it all together and let it sit while I made the spaghetti dish.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hurried Bees

There are news stories every day about the rainy spring we've been having. Unfortunately all the rain means the farmers are behind on just about everything (including horse farmers - all the ponies are suffering from scratches that we have only just got a handle on -because we had a few days where the mud started to dry up - and thus haven't gotten them fit enough to jump yet, let alone go to a horse show). Our CSA has not sent us a start date because they do not know when they are going to actually start.

Regarding this small crisis, I read this article in the Ithaca Journal today and had to laugh because of the line (emphasis mine):

More rain could also result in scabby apples and hurried bees trying to pollinate flower blossoms. 

True to form, the Journal doesn't add any context to that, so all we are left with is the scratching of our heads and muttering to ourselves, "Aren't bees rather usually in a hurry? As in Busy-As-A...."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paleo Diet

The Kitchn featured a thing on some people doing a Paleo diet barbecue. I responded to someone a few months ago on facebook regarding my take on how idiotic the Paleo diet argument is. It's a little trite, but it gets my point across, mainly that using the argument that we should all eat like cavemen for some as-yet-unexplained-clearly-to-me reason is silly reason as it has no bearing in science or fact. Also, on a pettier note, Paleo dieters are smug. Like pregnant women
"This diet suggests that we should all eat like "cavemen" (I assume they mean homo sapiens during the Pleistocene era). The idea is that all of them lived on a specific diet (a ludicrous idea - considering that at this point, humans were scattered all across Africa, Europe and Asia - hardly likely that we were all eating the same food) and therefore, if we all live on this specific diet, it is "healthier" and more "natural". That specific diet is low-fat meat, nuts, fruit and vegetables, no legumes and no grains. This is because of the suggestion that we only started eating legumes and grains after the advent of agriculture - something I find hard to believe, considering we would have had to have eaten them before agriculture - why else would we have started cultivating them??

Humans were probably scavengers and definitely omnivorous. Our teeth are a great clue as to what we were eating - you don't develop large molars for high meat diet, you need them for breaking down fibrous plants! Look at a dog's mouth - known omnivores - and compare to ours and to a horse's mouth. Not to mention that it is VERY HARD to catch an animal without a gun. So hard, in fact, that lots of hunter-gatherer tribes developed interesting ways of deciding who owned the food. For example, someone kills a deer, they get part, but the man who made the arrow also gets a part as does the leader of the hunt...etc... a typical diet more likely consisted of lots of what was "gathered" combined with occasional meat. But once again, this absolutely depends on where one was. People of Scandinavian descent have a much easier time digesting milk and dairy than people of Asian descent due to available diet. Another thing to remember is that there are differences between humans then and humans now - not enough to warrant speciation, obviously, but we see changes in things such as aforementioned digestive enzymes and the intelligence not to follow fad diets.

There are more reasons I could go into, but that's the gist of it. Eat a high protein diet if one find that it is best, but rationalising it with science one barely understands makes for a weak argument."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Disgusting Scenario

My dogs will eat sick. They aren't picky: they'll eat their own, they'll eat each others' and I'm sure, given the opportunity they would anyone's that happened to be presented to them.

I asked Ryan today, why is it that they don't have the same aversion to vomit that we do and he responded,

"I don't know. They're more practical, I guess."

To which I responded,

"Are you saying that there is a circumstance under which you would eat sick?"

He shrugged. Then I asked,

"Say you were on a desert island. You'd been there a month. You have access to running water, but no food. A ship shows up to rescue you and two people come in a dinghy to bring you back to the ship. One of them is made seasick by the dinghy and upon landing, before they can say or do anything, they vomit in your lap. What would you do?"

He said,

"That's an excellent scenario."

And then kissed me on the cheek and went to work. I called out to him,

"But you never answered."

"Yes, Alice. Under that circumstance, I'd probably eat vomit."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Arguing on the Internet (redux)

Broke a personal rule today. Regretted it.

I don't regret it because I was called obnoxious (yes, someone on the internet called me obnoxious - I think that's like what, OT I of the internet?) but because these things are so pointless (see above). I was called obnoxious after I made a point about how people take themselves too seriously and how if everyone took things less personally, we'd all be much happier, in general.

I am aware of the irony of posting the above mentioned sentiment in an anonymous comment section.