Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If you cant beat em

Feed em! (or beware!) disclaimer and consequences below...

Click on the image then the + to see the full size.

Its gotten to the point I cant feed the Blue Jays because the squirrels are scavenging for anything and run the Jays away from their plate of seed.

Dry leaves dont even last long on the deck, I caught one of them with a mouth full of leaves scurrying away. I suppose I should be thankful they are keeping the deck pretty clean!

Update 1/12/11 Well, that worked pretty well for about a couple of days, except, we live a block away from a State Park so, we think, that every squirrel in 50 mile radius of the house now knows that we put corn out for them so two or three become territorial over the corn & the weaklings bully the birds. The saga continues.

Update Feb 2011 ~ The restaurant is definitely closed to the cute critters. I now sprinkle this stuff

Uncle Ian's

An organic repellent. The squirrels (which are usually 4 at the most) were at last count about 30, some began chewing 6-8" gashes on the deck rails.

Back of rails.


Sorry squirrel lovers! What's next my attic?

Stocked up on it when Fred Meyer's had a sale recently. It must be sprinkled after each rain but so far so good. It is working great. I also fill a little bag of it and hang it on the bird feeder.

I had two bags of corn, returned the un opened one, the customer service lady told me her mom feeds squirrels and she has to replace her screen door every year because they chew right through it.

I had to pull the Welcome mat.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Birds of the Pacific NW

Visitors on the deck.

Varied Thrush - Thanksgiving 2010

Lady, we've got this under control. Move along now! Nothing to see here. 1.20.09

January 17, 2008

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Loving Lacey Schwimmer's henna

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bristol fans cheat the system on Dancing With The Stars

Here is a link that shows how Sarah's supporters are allegedly using a glitch in the on-line voting system to vote up to 300 times per person (?)

Conservatives cheating DWTS Voting System.

I actually like Bristol but it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out she cant dance. The story is that she identifies with the girl next door. That's cool, only thing is this is not a "Girl Next Door" competition.

Blogs, DWTS FB pages are filled with comments about how this is about who comes along the furthest and I have to agree, but in this case that individual is not Bristol it happens to be Kyle who began just as green as Bristol and is now leading a very professional/Lacey and is so much fun to watch.

Dont be surprised if Kanye shows up to snatch the Mirror Ball out of Bristol's hands yelling how Brandi deserves it!


Man Shoots TV Over Bristol Palin Dancing

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carnival Splendor the SPAM was never served

Most images can be clicked for larger view.

Contrary to what the media is reporting SPAM was delivered to the Splendor but not served. According to Carnival Cruise Line's Facebook Webpage

I heard the crew ate the same thing guests were eating and worked like crazy to try and make everyone as comfortable as possible.

I found out just what a wonderful company this is when my son fell critically ill in the spring of 09 aboard one of Carnival's ships. It was a congenital heart valve disease nothing to do with Carnival. The company flew me on a red eye so I could be by his side, they put me up in a hotel, provided transportation and meals. I dont know how many companies do that these days but I assure you, not many.

I would recommend Carnival Cruise lines to everyone. I think they handled this situation with class and Im so happy everyone arrived safe and sound.

November 12, 2010

From Carnival Cruise Line's Facebook page:

"Here is an ad that Carnival ran in today’s San Diego Union Tribute that we wanted to share with you. Thanks again for all your continued support!"

Gladys recounts her horrible experience of their cruise ship...

What REALLY happened on Carnival's Splendor last week.

John Heald's blog, Cruise Director for Carnival Splendor writes with his own personal brand of Brit humor, about the fire on The Splendor from start to finish.







The images tell the story.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Refurbishing Mid Century Hutch

What it looked like.

It was a horrible white laminate with gold-ish ribbons running through it but it is the perfect size for my needs. The 'yellow' top is only a light the previous owner had installed inside.

Began by using fine sand paper but it was taking such a long time and every time I looked at it in bright light I noticed many little spots that needed more sanding. Finally decided to invest in a BLACK & DECKER MOUSE SANDER

You have to be very careful with an electric sander because you can actually remove too much of the top layer but with patience the finished product is well worth it.

After sanding I vacuumed the entire piece and used a tack cloth wiping the entire piece to make sure it was completely clean.

I used spray primer, it took 2 cans. Primer cured for 7 days. It is very important not to rush this, the longer you allow your primer to cure the better adhesion and the less chances your paint will scratch off.

I am using Valspar Interior Satin Finish. Foam roller, corners with a foam brush.

Round 2 - No drawer handles yet because we are in search of Mid Century (3" drill holes) ones that will match.

The inside of the hutch was painted a light sage green. I wanted to lighten the interior without having to use a light.

Feet from Lowe's. They came in blonde wood unfinished.

Update January 2015 Found fabulous Atomic 50s handles!



Monday, September 27, 2010

Ducks at the beach

Summer was really strange in Seattle this year, one day was hot the next cool, Im not complaining.

Fall is not officially here but it is already rainy and cooler at night most of the time. Last night when I took my walk I noticed it was considerably humid and warmer.

Today the temp climbed close to the 80s again. Its supposed to be warm again later this week, I hope to finally finish my mid century hutch that I sanded and primed. The primer should have cured by now, they recommend about a week.

I found these ducks swimming in salt water at the beach a couple of weeks ago. Last night there were a dozen, all together.

click, enlarge to see full size image

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Diets. I hate them all

I have an aversion to diets. When some folks go on and on about how they weight themselves, their foods...then proceed to lecture at lunch, dinner....I cringe. To me, dieting is like religion, a personal matter.

When anyone rattles off about 'weight watchers' and 'points' I just want a big piece of chocolate cake.

At a gathering, some time ago, the friend of a friend was dispensing pieces of a dessert she made. Strangely, my piece was the size of a thumb nail while everyone else's normal. This coming from someone who was far from svelte or even close to what is perceived as a 'healthy weight' herself. I almost gave it back and told her she needed it more than me but graciously accepted and later helped myself to seconds. I made sure she saw me. Not that I even really wanted it. Revenge was sweet.

Here's a newsflash, I dont need anybody overseeing, supervising....what I put in my mouth or assume they are doing what is 'best for me'. Thanks, but no.

I come from a Latin background on my mother's side. The women in my culture have curves and till my accident, weight was something I never gave a second thought to.

I had always been an avid hiker, dancer, I walked and walked and walked some more. When I lived in NYC walking from Bloomingdales to the Village was never a big deal.

I still try to walk, just not as much. While we are on the subject of walking, after my accident I've had 0 invitations to 'go walking' maybe because I cant walk as fast as others? I wonder. I dont expect people to change their habits for me but once in a blue moon would be nice to walk with a friend. Just saying. Just putting it out to the universe.

The good thing is, I have been the same weight for 4 years, which means my body must have reached a plateau. The bad is that I feel now that I am older I should rid myself of the lbs that slowly crept on since the accident.

I guess I really dont hate diets, I hate the nagging, lecturing...

Last spring while I was planning a birthday celebration for my son a friend panicked when she saw the menu included:

Ina Garten Mac & Cheese

A recipe she made at one of her parties.

Amy Sedaris cup cakes...I mean really? Its a birthday party. I am not forcing anyone to eat anything. If you dont like what I cooked please feel free to bring your own, I wont be offended, honestly. I know some folks have special dietary requirements, Im not completely insensitive. I love my friends but seriously, I just dont want to hear it constantly because it is borderline nag. Thank you.

Past couple of years my blood pressure was elevated. Maybe almost losing my son had something to do with it. You think?

Despite better eating habits the not being able to get around as well did not help so the doctor prescribed statins but they made me horribly ill, every muscle in my body was so sore I could barely walk, move, get out of the car...on top of my bad leg it was no freaking fun.

So my doctor helped me wean myself off them. It took almost a year of being off them for the horrible muscle pain to fade away! That was scary.

I have begun forcing myself to have breakfast, never being a breakfast person as I was always nauseous in the AM since childhood. I have terrible school bus memories. This was, I think, one of the biggest changes.

I am also forcing myself to have snacks, a few blanched almonds with a yogurt and maybe one string cheese. Added niacin, coq-10, fish oil as well as flax seed to my meals.

Last month the doctor happily informed me my blood pressure is normal again (yes!) I was really surprised because after the loss of my Oliver that was the last bit of news I expected but there it was. Relief.

Im slowly dropping weight. I dont weight myself every day. Id rather stick pins in my eyes. The closest my 'new' habits resemble any sort of 'diet' is a modified South Beach although without so much meat, eggs...more veggies. SB doesnt allow fruit on the first week and I have a small slice of honeydew melon at dinner or lunch. Grilled fish with lemon. SB allows avocado, which I love and so on...

I have oatmeal in the morning, half an orange, cottage cheese mixed in with milled flax seed. SB does not allow cereal in the AM, that includes oatmeal. If I dont have oatmeal in the AM then my stomach is churning all damn day, there may be a possibility I will have another form of starch that is worse for me to quell that pain. Besides, oatmeal reduces cholesterol. So there.

I have cut juices as they are very high in sugars and sodas (love orange soda but never had more than one glass a day, if that. still.) I thank my friend Sara for introducing me to La Croix Lime Water, love it.

No bread and pasta for now. They will be introduced slowly in a week or so. But I am not a big fan of bread either and I love having a veggie burger with melted cheese smothered in onions and peppers. Instead of ketchup, I have salsa, which is allowed in SB. Ketchup may be introduced later. SB also has a recipe for ketchup I have not tried yet. Dont miss the bread at all.

A note about salsa. I was shocked at how high some salsas are in sodium content. I checked many and found that Paul Newman's was one of the lowest in sodium content.

Pasta, I only had it once a week, if that. My son loves whole wheat pasta, Im not crazy about it and honestly, regular pasta and whole wheat is really not that huge of a difference in nutritional content.

I have contemplated making my own but we are a small household and unless I made a lot which probably would go bad if not used right away...what would be the point?

I substitute heavy cream with Greek yogurt in recipes and so on.

I am wearing a pedometer. Ten thousand steps a day is what the doctor orders. I make a point to walk at the beach a minimum of 15 minutes a day, weather permitting. I love rain so its got to be pouring down to deter me from it.

My point is, if we make small gradual, healthier, educated changes we can still, on occasion, reward ourselves and still be good to our bodies.

I want a sign that says 'Warning Diet Police Not Welcome'

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mr. Oliver

I said Good Bye to my BEST friend today.

One year, seven months, ten days and fourteen hours ago....Christmas of 2008 my Oliver was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure.

He had 'crashed' Christmas Eve. Could have been the vintage cotton skirt he had been licking unbeknown to me, I moved a package and found a hole in it.

He was constantly drinking water so I set up a drinking fountain for him but when I noticed he was not interacting with me and he was not eliminating in the litter box I knew something had to be wrong.

After blood tests and staying at the vet for a couple of days and nights with IV fluids he came home with antibiotics and medicine.

I researched as much as I could and found out that he needed a complete diet change.

We switched all his foods to prescription and homemade organic foods which took some doing. Going organic with less chemicals (prescription foods still have chemicals in them) than commercial would be better anyway. When I questioned what type of protein he needed it was difficult getting clear cut answers from professionals. Not being a meat eater myself, I do but only on rare occasions and do not cook it at home, I shuddered at the thought of buying organic livers and worse, the smell of cooking them on my stove. But we do what we have to for those we love. Besides, cats naturally do better with wet food and a cat with CRF does better with wet than dry because of the water content in the food.

Then there was the problem of Oliver not liking it, all his life he ate wet food due to not having most of his teeth, nibbled/gummed dry & when I put the plate down for him he looked at me as if I had completely gone bonkers.

I had to be diligent in not letting the food sit for longer than 30 minutes due to spoilage. This is something else he didn't like.

In the end he adjusted and I preferred knowing what was going into his system.

The amount of holistic and regular veterinary information regarding the treament of CRF was mind boggling. The treatments, foods all depended on his BUN, Creatine...every month...which is why there was no clear cut answer.

Now that I look back at all the years I could have been feeding him better food instead of the junk (assuming it was healthy just because the label said so) I would have done it a completely different way.

He had always loved tuna, salmon/fish foods and turned his nose up at most anything else. I admit that I caved in too easy. I think I could have given him fish as a treat now and then just not as often as I had.

After he was diagnosed with CRF I was advised to stay away from fish because cats with CRF require a diet low in phosphorus.

At first he let me know he was not pleased with me. Sniffing the food, whipping his head around complaining under his breath, turning his back to it.... But I had to change his diet if I wanted him to get better. So for better of worse the 'piggy' in him finally gave in and he learned to love chicken, turkey...

I cant help wonder if feeding him foods with fish had something to do with his developing CRF. When I adopted him I was told he had already suffered a couple of urinary infections. After he was with me I caught two right away. He also had terrible teeth, he had to have almost all of them removed.

Despite those issues Oliver always looked much younger that he was but after he was diagnosed his little body began showing signs of deterioration. Also his hearing and sight began to be affected, I believe the disease aged him rapidly.

In the beginning he had to have subq fluid treatments to hydrate his little body once every 2 - 3 weeks, then once a week. The vet taught me how to give him the treatments at home.

First time I gave him the treatment I was a nervous wreck and he dug one fang into my hand but instantly I could sense he felt bad, I think he had been poked and prodded so much at the vet's that he was over it. I purchased a muzzle he wore without any complaints. Some folks do the treatments in the bathroom, some do it on a table. We began in the bathroom with a towel on my lap the bag hung from the shower curtain. But I wanted to keep the procedure as normal as possible.

So we moved to our special spot in the livingroom and he would climb on my lap, I would adjust the muzzle and the treatment would begin. Later on I doubted he would have bit me but it helped calm him down so he wouldnt move during the procedure. Usually Oliver got on his back and loved me rubbing his pink tummy but while he wore the muzzle he knew we were not going to do that and the tummy rubbing became a reward.

Checking his gums for color, blood tests, weighing...became a routine. Eventually I noticed that he needed once a day subq treatments. He was a trooper. But I knew the dangers of daily subq treatments. Water can eventually build around the heart, lungs...and this is when I began to try to prepare myself for the inevitable, specially since he was now 22 years old. A younger kitty may have had a better chance but my little guy's odds werent very high.

The past few months we were going through 3 - 30lb bags of litter a month - 2 multiple cats and 1 crystals. I even mixed it with natural wood pellets to make it last longer but I knew that the rate water was leaving his little body couldnt be good.

Besides hygiene issues he began having balance issues, I noticed he wouldnt jump up on the porch chair as much, when he climbed the stairs he had to lie down to take a rest at the top. When he stood up from lying he wobbled a bit. The last day of his life he barely touched his food and I could hear a wheezing in his breathing.

My son told me he was coming home in a few days from overseas and I was hoping Oliver would be able to see him.

The last couple of times I gave him the subq treatment his skin felt so thin and tough. I couldnt feel any muscle and I could see the outline of his hips and spine.

When I drove Oliver to the vet I did with the assumption that he would possibly get a shot to improve his appetite...but when I asked the vet if Oliver was suffering and he said yes, although it was breaking my heart I had to do the right thing.

I almost brought him back home so I could say good bye all night long, hold him in my arms...but that would have been selfish of me.

*~The beginning of my life with Mr. Oliver~*

aka The BEST cat in the World.

August of 95 I took a friend to an animal shelter in St Petersburg FL to look for a kitty of his own, that's where Oliver found me. As we were looking with my friend this cat stuck his paw out of his cage and touched my face, then he gave me his pink tummy to rub. It was love at first sight.

Resistance was futile.

For better or worse.

The last time we had a cat was home in NYC in the 70s. The loss of Ebony, our first cat when my son was a baby, was so traumatic that it took many years before I considered allowing another feline in my life. The memory of rushing in downtown traffic in a taxi to the Animal Medical Hospital with my cat crying in my arms was something you never forget. My cat had been misdiagnosed with hair balls when in fact he had an obstruction in his bladder. I cant begin to imagine how painful that must have been.

While my son was growing up we had turtles, fish, birds, a ferret we named Mimi. This little guy was so full of personality you had to have a heart of stone not to like him.

Oliver gave me fifteen years of love and happiness. I was blessed to have him in my life.

He was 7 years old then, had been living with an older lady who, the shelter assumed, was going into a retirement home. He had not been fixed and the shelter took care of that. When I saw him after the surgery he looked so pitiful! His golden eyes half closed.

When he recuperated and I was able to bring him home he adjusted quickly. At first he walked around with his cotton tipped tail flying high, examining every little corner of the 600 foot place until he looked up at me approving of his new digs, certainly better than the one at the shelter, he settled down and ate his first meal.

Welcome Home Little Man!

Inspector Oliver. I think this place will do.

My son was 23 and on his own. I had two jobs, volunteered at my community radio station, had a pretty busy social life and traveled often. Having someone depending on me was not in the cards, or so I thought.

I think I can get used to this!

They didnt allow cats in my condo and I had to figure out a way of keeping him in stealth mode, for the time being anyway. My buddy lived in the same building, we were partners in crime. Some years later we found out we were hardly the only ones with cats in the complex.

Oliver was not a vocal cat in his younger life, thank goodness! he became so as he grew older to communicate with me. Specially when I had to separate him from the office/studio area here, he was not happy about that but I had to keep him separated from the vintage and designer duds. He had the rest of the house to himself, but he didnt care, he just wanted to hang out with me.

The front window of the condo facing the hallway of the complex leading to the elevator had to be blocked with the Victorian china cabinet. A few times he managed to sneak in and I found him sitting on the window waiting for me.

I handcrafted a ledge so he could get his sun at the back window by the water, we lived off Tampa Bay, and covered the glass with reflective film. He could still see the sky, birds flying by....

I had to dispose of his litter by taking it to the dump because the building maintenance was known to go through the trash. Later on my mom 'paid' the manager to keep our little secret. Vet visits were made quietly in my backpack till we were safely out of sight in the car.

Oliver loved listening to music, particularly the music of Widespread Panic. Im not sure if it was because he liked the vibrations of Dave's Schools's bass but it was the oddest thing, whenever I played WP he relaxed right next to the speakers. Sometimes I would pick him up and dance around the room with him in my arms. He was a pretty easy going cat, his vets loved him they always said how they could always do anything to him.

When I was hit by a car in 1999 I had an awful long hospital and physical rehab, months! I worried sick about Oliver. My son and my friends looked after him during that time. There was really not much to do, just change the litter box, feed him....pet him a little...cats are usually pretty self reliant, right? Except Oliver has always been a very social cat. He has never been a shy one. He never hid under furniture when company came, Oliver was right there at the door ready to greet everyone. I knew he had to be very lonely.

I will never forget the day I came home. As my son helped transfer me from my wheelchair to my bed Oliver saw me, the look on his face when he realized it was me almost made me cry. He jumped up on the bed and rubbed himself against me harder than he ever had, he kept going back and forth jumping like a puppy and making whimpering sounds.

They say cats have no feelings and are indifferent, they are so wrong. I had never seen so much love, relief, happiness...in that little face.

From that day he never slept anywhere else except right next to me watching. He'd wake up in the middle of the night and check up on me to make sure I was still there. He crept up my back, touching me with his little paw falling asleep again reassured it wasn't a dream.

Oliver seemed to always be happiest next to us. Anywhere. If we were sitting on a chair, he'd sit by us on the floor and extend his paw just so he could touch our feet. If I was in the tub, he'd climb up on the toilet and wait for me to finish. As I was getting ready for work he'd sit there gazing at me adoringly. He was my little man.

In 2000 he finally earned his very own sunny window. I no longer had to worry about anyone reporting us to the condo association. Not only did he have a window but he also found little 'gray toys' that ran around pretty fast with long tails that he could chase, play with, some of them were very tasty.

Athens, Georgia 2000

One day I was at the front of the house and heard him making weird noises, that chattering cats make when they stalk prey, this was the first time I'd heard him do that. I noticed a snake had managed to find its way into the dining room, Oliver had chased it up into a wind chime. I'm guessing the snake thought that it was a tree.

After that the chattering became more frequent with all types of flying insects, specially moths. He had found a new language.

By this time I thought it would be nice to find him a companion. A pretty Siamese kitten found us one cold winter night but Mr. Oliver was the king of his castle and the 'roommate' didn't last very long. A few scraps, bruises later (all from her as he had been declawed by his original owner) and I had to find her another home.

He managed to wiggle into my son's heart. The mere mention of my son's name and he'd stand at attention by the door or at the top of the stairs waiting for him tail swishing excited side to side.

With my son he would wrestle and play 'rough', my son would let him bite his hands and do all sorts of fun things boring mommy wouldnt.

Athens, GA 2005.

Yes Mal spoils me. You wish you could have a shaggy purple sofa!

He liked baths. He also loved riding in the car. We burned thousands of miles together up and down the E coast. He traveled in his carrier with my finger touching his paw. At rest stops he'd walk on his leash and use the litter pan in the back of the Jeep which I cleaned after each use.

When my son and I drove to Seattle in the moving truck Oliver lounged the entire journey on the dash. Truckers got a huge kick out him. I swore he had been a dog in another life, he would even listen to me when I told him to do certain things like if I called, he always came and when I said 'stay' he would. Most cat owners will tell you they have a mind of their own and dont listen to anyone but my boy listened to me. They say dogs are man's best friend but my cat was the best companion ever.

In Seattle WA 2006 on his favorite chair.

Halloween in Seattle 2006.

I am a good boy mom!

Inspector Oliver still at your service 2007.

Home from the vet listening to Mal on the phone May 2009.

In his favorite chair on the deck 6.4.2010

He had been feeling pretty lousy the past week or so, sleeping with his back to me, turning his face when I asked for a kiss. Didnt have as much interest for the deck, he'd go out for a few minutes then back to his bed. There was a time he'd spend the entire day outside.

Clear signs he had lost interest in life; not cleaning his beautiful fur or taking care of his sleeping area. I gave him a couple of baths when it was warm but did not want to take the chance while he was feeling so sick. I did wash his face, paws...with a washcloth and I could tell it made him feel much better. His eyes began looking sunk in. Treatments, prescription foods...were no longer helping him, he was drinking a lot of water again, I was changing the bowl 2 - 3 times a day. I had a pet fountain for him as well but he seemed to prefer the water from the faucet in the bathtub so when he couldnt climb in on his own I helped him. He had lost 5 lbs. As terrible as I felt, as much as I wanted to keep him around and knew how terribly lonely I would be without him, I knew it was time and I couldnt be selfish, I couldnt let my friend suffer. I warned my son he may not make it home in time to see him again.

Today he kissed me and I am convinced he was telling me Goodbye.

I held my sweet boy in my arms as the vet administered the dose. He loved to hear "Momma's good boy!" so as he was leaving I told him what a good boy he was and how much Mal and I loved him. I kissed his nose as I had so many times in the past my heart shattering into a million pieces.

The vet checked his heart and said the words Ive been dreading to hear since his diagnosis in 2008 "He's gone."

No matter how much you try preparing for this moment nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING at all helps the pain. My son says he is now dreaming his cat dreams.

The worst times are when I get up in the morning and when I go to sleep at night. He was always there to greet me, meowing his little 'Momma Im hungry' and not asking for much more than love now and then. Always patient, never pushy. He could never sleep in his bed if I was anywhere near him. He always needed to know where I was and came over to lie next to me as I watched my favorite shows. I could always count on his company. If I was not feeling well and I wanted to be left alone he respected that and watched for signs that told when I was again ready. Lately he seemed to need to be next to me more than ever. If I had known we had so little time together I would have spent the last couple of weeks by his side 24/7.

This house is very empty without him now but I know I did the right thing. A huge piece of my heart is gone! I wonder if I was truly worthy of his unconditional love.

The thing that keeps me from breaking completely is knowing he is no longer suffering and a glimmer of hope that some day we will re unite on the other side. I will be looking for that cotton tipped tail waiving high waiting for me so we can put another million miles behind us.

Seattle 2005.

Someone once said that a good death was not about when or how; its about knowing love.


These things helped us a lot with our CRF kitty and my research for better nutrition and well being.

Feline CRF Website

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.