Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pyewackit Goes to the Vet

I wanted to tell you a bit about our senior cat, the Infamous Pyewackit. He is an apple head Siamese...that is, the old time seal point before the brains were bred out of them . He is very intelligent and quite wily. He will be 13 years old on May 1st. The kittens know who is boss, and it isn't any of them. He is beloved by BatGirl, the crazy calico who only comes in to eat and sleep and momick Pye. Okay, now for Doctor John, to momick is to handle and caress and just in general annoy the receiver of the's a southern word that we heard all our lives. Use it in a sentence? Okay, "Sandi will you quit momicking that cat and let it be?" I think my Grandmother may have been the first one I ever heard use it, followed shortly by my Grandfather. My mother was just as apt to come take the cat away from me and tell me to go play and do as I was told and stop momicking that cat! Okay, so we're clear on the word.Now as for Pye...he's been paying special attention to his ears lately, the constant cleaning of lobes, ears turned down sometimes, just acting as though they bothered him. I spent a couple of days trying to look into them without success. He would run into any room that had an open door and hide under whatever furniture he figured I couldn't get down to. That's most of it. Saturday and Sunday we noticed he wasn't playing with the kittens, and worse, wasn't avoiding BatGirl's constant loving routine.

"I think you may have to take Pye to the Vet, " Mac said Sunday night. I noticed the use of the word "you" right away. I had already decided that we were going to have to head towards Sandy Memorial (the animal hospital) and was just trying to figure out how I was going to get Pye into the carrier. I set the carrier out where everyone could see it, so that it didn't come as a surprise to anyone (Pye) who might go hide under furniture. I placed the hated garden shoes next to it, Pye's favorite things to fight with, then I left it open and the kittens played within it's confines quite enjoying themselves. Pye watched suspiciously. But he didn't run. He attacked the shoes, ignoring the carrier. So the next morning, after coffee, I stood the carrier on it's end and picking up the persnickety Pye, eased him feet first into the cave of the carrier and quickly slammed the door shut. He began to howl immediately. I interpreted his words to be : You will pay for're going to be very very sorry...

So, Mac put the carrier in the front seat of the truck, next to me, buckled him in and told us to have a good trip and be careful. I shot him a look as the howling reached a fever pitch. I cast a glance in Pye's direction, reached out to touch the cage...I mean carrier...and he hissed at me. Alrighty's going to be like that. It was going to be a long trip.

So we arrived at the Clinic and Jean, she of the infamous sign above the business end of the clinic (Don't Place Animals on Counter, Receptionist Bites) signed us in. I told her that Pye had been "using his words" all the way here and that I hoped Dr. Lawhon would not have any trouble with him. "Oh, he has his assistant with him, they'll manage okay, " Jean assured me. "Do you want him to get his jabs today?" I agreed that we may as well kill two birds with one stone (at which point Pye shot daggers at me from his eyes...I swear that cat speaks English). We were first up and after a short wait Dr. Lawhon and his elderly assistant entered the exam room. The assistant held in his hand the dreaded nail clippers. I cringed for Pye. This was not going to go well. I told Dr. Lawhon that I was afraid he might have trouble with the big lug, but he told me not to worry, they had controlled far worse hooligans than the Dreaded Pye. I opened the carrier and he came strolling out as though he hadn't a care in the world, and tossed a "kiss my derriere" look in my direction. The Elderly Assistant looked at Pye, stroked that big apple head and said "Look here Old Man, you not going to give me any trouble and this will be over and painless in a minute." He took one of Pyewackit's paws into his big old paw and proceeded to clip his nails with no trouble! I didn't have to lie down on him to hold him still, nor even hold him by the scruff of the neck. I was humiliated. Then he held his head up for Dr. Lawhon to look into his ears and Dr. Lawhon agreed he had an infection, but no mites (after examining the gunk he had swabbed out of his ears under the microscope. Here I was, thinking that this huge (17 pounds, 14 inches high) cat was going to have to be sedated, and he was being a...well pardon the pun, a pussy cat. We exchanged glares as I told Dr. Lawhon rather apologetically, that the cat was making a liar out of me. He simply laughed.

We were leaving and Dr. Lawhon handed me a bottle of ear drops to put in Pye's ears twice a day for the next four days. He had already applied them, and showed me how easily this could be accomplished. Yes Doc, from your mouth to God's ear.

That night I prepared for combat. I approached the beasty with calm deliberation and told him in no uncertain terms that these drops were going into his wee ears or I'd know the reason why. On seeing the medicine bottle in my hand, he immediately ran to a room I had neglected to close off and ran under the bed. Drat! I called Mac into assistance when Pye had forgotten that there was business at hand and sauntered into the living room without so much as a by your leave. Mac pounced, picked him up and held him close all the time calling out "now now" I managed to get the meds in one ear before Mac was forced to release the sudden typhoon he held in his arms. "I don't know, I think you're doing something wrong, " he said. "At this rate we're never going to get those ears well." Yes, I was doing something wrong alright. There was one to many people in my medical practice.

This morning, Pye was sound asleep on the arm of the sofa. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle of medicine and quickly threw myself over him and managed to get both ears medicated before he could escape. I'll have to come up with a new plan for tonight. I don't think he'll be quite so easy to catch next time.
Pye, sniffing at the garden shoes he has just beaten into submission...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Byetta Diet

Okay, so I've already fallen off my "POST DAILY DIET" but then, that's how most of my diets end up. I'm making a concerted effort here, though. I'm going to tell you all about what's been going on in my life the past few weeks. It's called Byetta. Now, most of you know that I have some, we'll call them, health issues. You know, for my entire life I was always what I considered healthy. I never came down with colds, never missed work on account of illness (in fact had 60 days built up even after I'd taken six weeks off to get Mac back on his feet after his open heart surgery) and was just in general a happy healthy girl. I could get in a tussle and come out of it with nary a scratch or even breathing hard. Then all of a sudden it was diabetes, heart trouble, RA and that pesky broken neck. But I pulled though it all with a lot of determination and loads of prayers!

Baby Sister came over one day and I told her that she looked better than I had seen her in long while. She had more color in her cheeks, her eyes twinkled and she'd lost what looked like thirty or more pounds. She told me that her doctor had changed her from Insulin to Byetta. She said that her blood sugar had been in better control than it had in ages and the bonus was that she had lost the weight she'd put on. She explained that it made you a bit nauseous so you should eat within a few minutes of taking it, but the plus side was that your hunger was gone, you didn't want to snack all the time. WooHoo...sounds like a plan. I'd been unable to take off the extra 20 pounds that I'd packed on after my neck surgery. My blood glucose levels stayed high no matter how much sugar and bread I cut out. I haven't had real sugar in years, I'm a Splenda girl all the way. I only eat whole wheat bread and limit my fat intake. I have what they call Brittle Diabetes. So anyway, I talked to Dr. Moyd about trying the Byetta to see if we could bring this problem under control. He agreed to let me try it.

I started the Byetta about three weeks ago. I was startled the first time I checked my glucose level and it was 111. It hadn't seen numbers that low in years. I had struggled to get those numbers down to no avail. I danced through the house on a cloud holding the meter in my hand and taking it to show Mac. It's been pretty much that way ever since. It's just that little bit of gagging that keeps me out of the kitchen, away from the pantry and with one eye on the bathroom door. Yes, there is that little side effect that is warned about in the literature. But I've lost ten pounds and can we all spell HAPPY GIRL? Well I for one know that I'm totally in love with my new diet buddy. Okay, so it's not pleasant. But I can live with it. Better yet, I can LIVE with it! Now if they'll just come up with a treatment for the RA that doesn't make me sick we're in business!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Farmer Takes a Cat

I've been up since 4:45 this morning. It is now 5:38. When most people are still snoozing in their nice warm beds, I am up, showered, hair washed and bright eyed at (looking at clock in corner) 5:39 in the morning. What (you might ask) has me up and about so early? Why (I hear you pleading) am I annoying the world with an early morning posting? Well, two reasons. One reason being that I have it on good advice (David McMahon at Authorblog) that one should try to post on a daily basis. The second reason is Mac's darned cat. Well, not a cat yet. Still a kitten. And hey, if the kitten annoys me, then I (in turn) will annoy anyone who gets in my way. Sonny Boy, who is a Russian Blue, (and who should have had a home by now but anyone who wanted him couldn't get SLED or FBI clearance to please Mac) gets in these contentious loving moods...he runs through the house and into our bedroom and takes a running leap to jump into the middle of the bed, turns his motor on and then proceeds to head butt Mac till he's awake. Then there is much tussling and playing going on while I, the innocent bystander...or layabedder...get pelted with the fall out of such love and devotion. I toss and turn while they wrestle and play. I lie there and think about how good a cup of coffee would be. If Sonny were any good, he'd sprout thumbs and go turn the coffee pot on for me. But no. Still the laughing and playing go on and then Mac gets the bright idea to teach "the baby" how to play vigorous games of catch foot. So, now I'm up. They make me sick.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

I love to cook and bake. My kitchen is one of the happiest places in our home, because I'm always "inventing" new recipes to try out on Mac. Okay, he's the only other person who lives here, and so of course I have to try these things out on him. I made a new coffee cake the other day, just throwing in this and that and covered it over with slivered almonds (or slithered almonds as Arianna would say). Evil Sister and hubby were coming over and so I took the unusual opportunity to serve it to them. Tea for me and ES and coffee for Mac and ES's hubby. Okay, now I've never baked anything that turned out so well that the guinea pigs...(sorry, guests) asked for a second piece of it after only a few minutes. It was a first, and pleased me no end. My Aunt Florence (Merriman Sellers) used to say that she loved my grandmother's coconut cake because it "leaves a good farewell taste in your mouth ." So, I suppose this coffee cake left a good farewell taste in every one's mouth. The only problem is, I didn't bother to write anything down and to repeat the process will be purely hit and miss.

Now, hit and miss is apparently the way I cook and bake, anyway (as I discovered this morning). I have long been a fan of my neighbor Joanne's nice big fluorescent light that hangs in her kitchen. It gives enough light to see and makes the work area cheerful. My kitchen, on the other hand, is sort of dim and not enough light comes in because we face North. Craig, Joanne's hubby, told me he was going to put a light like hers in our kitchen. Being a licensed electrician he is our life saver around here. Anything we need done electrically that man is never to busy to come see about it. He loves his work or he loves us, we don't know which! He won't take a penny for anything he does. He says it's because he wants to keep in good with his computer man (Mac) so I guess it's sort of a reciprocal thing with us. Well, yesterday afternoon they came over and put in the light. It is about five feet long and 3 feet wide. It brightens up the room like someone turned on a soft white sun. He and Joanne put it in together...they make quite a team. Afterwards, we sat down and had coffee and the rest of the almond coffee cake. I was so happy to be able to see in the kitchen. We spent the rest of the day planting trees.

I got up this morning and flipped on the light, turned the coffee pot on and looked around at the bright kitchen. And saw disaster. Spots and stains and little tiny globs of what I don't care to even hazard a guess, was on everything. It had apparently been on everything for a while. I had just not been able to see it because of the dimness of the kitchen. Now I love dirt. I just don't love it in my kitchen. My wiping down of the cabinet doors and work areas apparently hadn't been such a job well done. I should be embarrassed to tell you this, but I told you I'm not normal. I've been cleaning since 7 am. Every cabinet, every door, every drawer, every surface. The floors will be next. And the long handled swiffer duster will be getting a workout on the top of the cabinets. Thank God I'm not tall enough to see up there. I think I may want my old light back.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome to Boggy Gully Farm

I followed my friends to find out what super hero I am...get me with my big afraid, be very afraid...then go to M104 (look at my blog role) and see who you are...I'll try to put the link in when I figure out what I'm doing wrong!!!
Now, back to my real life...

Yesterday we went looking for garden fertilizers not common to most. We needed Aluminum Sulfate for the blueberries most desperately. Our house sits in the middle of what was once a cow pasture and the soil doesn't hover around 7+ alkalinity, it hangs onto 7+ with a death grip...well, death for acid loving plants, anyway! We heaped in the cotton seed meal and mulched 2 inches deep with pine straw, but still it keeps creeping back up past the 7 mark. We watch a show produced here that is called "Making It Grow". It is presented by Clemson University (all dirt roads lead to Clemson) as an educational show for gardeners. Rowland and Amanda do a great job of answering any query you might have about any plant you might have. Then there's Webby Debby who runs the live link online chat during the show and for awhile after. (The older shows can also be seen weekly on RFD a new network we have discovered.) But I digress. We learned from Rowland that the best and quickest soil acidifier (and longer lasting) is Aluminum Sulfate. So we headed off to Hartsville yesterday to try to locate a few bags. I called the Mayor's office in Hartsville to ask which nursery they might have nearby where we could check if no one else had it.

The Mayor's secretary was so nice. She gave me the name of the Boggy Gully Farms. Boggy Gully Farms...the name just rolls off the tongue and is such an inviting mind picture. I knew I would be visiting there whether they had any of Mac's magic elixir for the blueberries or not. I just had to see this place. I called and spoke to Shirley Best, the owner, who told me that they didn't really carry fertilizers. I asked if she had any pomegranate bushes and nearly fell over when she said yes. We've been looking for replacements for ours for ages! I told her we would be seeing her sometime late morning, and she gave me directions to her door.

Okay, it was a great trip. We went to Ace Hardware where we found the Aluminum Sulfate, then to Lowe's for Spragnum Moss...had to go by WalMart for the weekly cat food fix, then off we went to Boggy Gully. It was 11:55 in the morning when we arrived. Shirley immediately began apologizing for the "mess" the place was in. What mess? It was a shrub and tree farm. There was no mess. There was heaven. I was hooked. We walked amongst the many plants she had for sale and my eyes lighted on the double bloom knockout roses. The picture showed a deep red. I asked how much for the roses and she told me ten dollars. I pulled two out of the crowd and Mac took them to the truck. He had already picked out three pomegranate bushes and know she was showing us the Paulownia Trees she had for sale. They are more commonly known as the Empress Tree and are extremely fast growing. Shirley explained that they grew ten feet per season. Okay, I was impressed. I was impressed with the tree, the nursery, and Shirley's knowledge. We talked about the lovely pond that is a part of the nursery grounds, and her Koi. You all know by now how wild I am about Koi. She always worries that the Cranes or the Otters are going to get them, but so far, so good.

Okay, I've yapped enough about this delightful place that I am going to becoming a frequent visitor to (unless Shirley gets tired of the sight of me and bans me). I'm going to give you her website address so you can see for yourself! To visit Shirley and Mike's place just go to and you won't be disappointed. Check out the Paulownia trees. Amazing!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Morgue Drawer

A group of us girls got together last night, leaving husbands and lovers to fend for themselves where it came to scavenging for food, drink and entertainment. Waitress not included. It's been a while since we were all together swapping war stories from the line of duty. It felt good to be in the company of women. I'm sure men can appreciate this, it's not much different from their poker nights, only we have no cards or chips, we expend no money only laughter. We try to keep things light for the fun of it and occasionally dark for the fun of it.

We were doing hamburgers and GS was doing her world famous slaw. I was amazed because she was actually making it in front of us so we could all steal the recipe if we were so inclined. I was. I did. I will. I told them about a house that had burned nearly to the ground on my way out to her house. It struck me as suspicious...but that's the cop blood, you see. Everything is suspicious. So GS told me that there had been a few suspicious fires in town, and that I could be right about the house. Everyone was moving around the kitchen, breaking up lettuce, slicing tomatoes, GS was now making chili so those of us so inclined could have a Carolina Classic hamburger...chili and slaw with a healthy slice of Vidalia onion. Turns out we were all so inclined. She cut the potatoes to fry, and looking around at our bounty, said "Wendy's doesn't have anything on us, girls!" Asking me if I wanted a soda, she directed me to her fridge. "I put some diet cokes in the freezer."

I walked over to the fridge, pulled the freezer drawer out and grabbed a coke. I heard one of the girls say, "did you intend to put a morgue drawer in your kitchen or was it a happy accident?" Every one broke out laughing as GS shook her head and told us it had not even occurred to her until it was set in place. After that several of us begged her to tell us the story of the night she got pinned in the Morgue.

The Morgue in the old hospital was more like a walk in closet with four odd looking drawers inset into the wall. It was old, having been an afterthought years ago when the hospital was first built. The only other people (other than the resident dead) that entered on any kind of frequent basis were the Medical Examiners and family members there to identify a loved one, or view a loved one who had passed in the hospital. One of the drawers, the bottom drawer on the left had long been in need of repair, but administration had done nothing about the repairs in the six months since the request had been made. There was now a trick to pull the "Resident of the drawer" out into the light for viewing. In the room was a tall metal trash can, you had to open the door out, pull out the drawer and quickly kick the trash can under the drawer to support it and keep the body on the tray of the drawer from tumbling onto the floor. The ME's had become so used to doing this that it was just second nature, open door, pull drawer, kick can, support tray. See? Easily done.

So this one night when GS was the ME on call, she had to go down to the Morgue to do the paper work on a body that had just gone down from upstairs. The family would want to "view" her, she knew, and she needed to get all the paperwork in the system. For some reason, the "Residents" were always put in feet first, rather than head first which made it difficult to read the toe tags. You had to pull the body completely out to read the information. GS said she groaned when she saw which drawer her patient was in. She expected the worse. She got it.

"I opened the door, " she told us, "and realized that the body within was well over three hundred pounds. At first the tray refused to move. I had one leg cocked to kick the trash can under the tray when it rolled out, but the tray still refused to move. Instead of looking to see what might be holding it, I just gave a hard jerk on it and suddenly it began to move. It picked up momentum and before I could kick the can under it to support it, it came off the track and pinned me to the back Morgue wall. I couldn't lift it. I couldn't move it. I began to wail hoping someone would hear me. After a bit, I gave that up and decided to save my voice for when I might hear someone coming down in the elevator. I figured that someone would miss me eventually, or the family would be escorted down to view the body and that I wouldn't be here long. I was in there for an hour before I heard the slightest sound other than my own breathing. I began to yell, "hello!!! hello!!!" at the top of my lungs.

The young ME was now thankful for the sweater that she had pulled on before going down to the glorified closet. It was cold in here. Of course, it needed to be cold, but she was afraid she was going to freeze to death before anyone came to her rescue. It was the elevator she heard that sounded like an angel skidding to a stop. She heard a voice singing a gospel song and so she began to shout, "in here, help me please!" She saw the young man in the huge mirror that hung on the morgue wall and showed the outside hallway. He stopped, took an earbud from his ipod out of his ear and stopped. His eyes were wide and his mouth hung open in shock as though he had awakened and found himself in the midst of a horror movie. The ME, whose voice was now raw and wispy from shouting for over an hour, again called out, "Hello!!" She could hear the young man clearing his throat. He too seemed to have lost his voice. He turned all around trying to locate the voice. He began to stammer back, "hello, where are you?" He turned into the Morgue and seeing her there against the wall, ran over to try to help her. It took three men and a jack to free her from her chilly prison, but they finally managed to get the tray back on the tracks and into the drawer. "You know it was about a month before I felt warm again. And it was the impetus for building a new morgue. And high time, too!"

And so that's the story of the Morgue Drawer...line of duty stories? I have a million of them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Effects of Hibernation on the Human Psyche

I really need to apologize to all my friends. I've been away for two weeks and I don't really know how to explain to you where I've been. The only way to say it is I've been in hibernation. I'm not sure how it happens, just that it happens around the time the Groundhogs start making their way into the news. Something happens to me. I know that it is seasonal, but it's not depression. I'm so very rarely depressed that I'm sure there's something abnormal in that, as well. I feel the need to burrow down into blankets and sleep. It's something I try to fight, but in the end, I just give into it and let the bear in me take over. I can feel the deep chill of winter and the only cure is a warm quilt and plenty of sleep. It's as though my energy is sapped and I can barely put one foot in front of the other. I've walked in here and looked at the computer and my mind just locks down. I want to sit down at the keyboard and write my heart out but my heart is not in it. But it's nearly over. I know that the hibernation period is about to break and I will be so glad when it's behind me. It's something I've dealt with for years. No one has an explanation, no doctor knows the cause. But I left my burrow today and looked out over the landscape. I didn't see my shadow, so I know it won't be long before I'll be happy to be among the living again. And visiting my friends will be first on the agenda.

Monday, February 2, 2009

She's All That

Our son and DIL recently bought their first house and spent most of Christmas moving in. This will be the fifth move for them since they got married, and the third move for Arianna, their daughter. While Arianna was simply thrilled to be moving out of the apartment and into a house with a yard and a room bigger than a breadbox, it wasn't without its turmoil. First there was the clearing out. She had to go through her things and learn to discard things that while important to her heart, were definitely outgrown. There was one box for the attic, another box for the Goodwill, and a box for just plain trash. It was explained that if it only has three wheels, it has to go. If it is missing any major part (like a battery cover...duct tape does not count as a cover) it has to go. If it has an odd odor because it's been left out in the rain one time to many, it has to go. Anna said it seemed everytime the "got to go " box got full, it would mysteriously lose about half its contents when her back was turned. Before it was over Arianna was banished to Aunt Debra's so that the job of seek and discard could go on unabated.

So, the move was accomplished by the time school had closed for the Christmas break and Arianna had said goodby to all her school friends. She would be starting a new school in her new neighborhood when the break was over. The good thing was her cousin Zach would be in her school, though not in her same grade. The bad thing was this was her third "new school" and she told me she was going to miss her friends. I reassured her that she would be making new friends, and that now she would have friends that she could carry with her through adulthood. I knew what she meant, having been "the new girl" so many times myself. And of course her daddy knew the feeling...military kids learn to adjust much earlier than regular kids. (And here you were thinking all kids were regular.) Being the "new kid in school" can be a daunting experience. You go in a stranger amongst kids who have gone thru school together since nursery school, cliques have already been formed and it's hard to break into the inner circle. I knew what Arianna was about to go through, but I knew too that she's a self confidant little girl who could work through the difficulties.

Arianna called us Friday night. She was at her Aunt Debra's and said she was feeling lonely for her Grandpa (no, my feelings were not hurt) and wanted to talk to him. I asked her why she was at Aunt Debra's and she told me that her Mom and Dad were having Date Night. I had to laugh...Mac and I have Date Night every Friday, too. So I put Mac on and he chatted with her for a bit and then he put me back on with her. I asked how school was going and she told me fine. She began to tell me about this "mean girl" in her class. She said this girl wouldn't talk to her, openly snubbed her and had told her that she (Arianna) thought she was "all that". I began to laugh and told Arianna, "well, you are all that, so what seems to be her problem?" She asked me what I meant, and I told her that in case she didn't know it she was smart as all get out, pretty as doll and had a great personality to boot. "You're all that! And apparently she knows it, and she's jealous of it. So, don't worry about what she has to say, you just keep on being you. Don't change just because someone says something about you that's unfair. Next time tell her, yeah, I am all that. Smile and walk away. " It may not make her a pile of friends, but it'll nip peer pressure in the bud if she learns that lesson early.