Category Archives: Home and Garden

Work and School from Home: Walking Around Wallingford Part 2

The rest of my memories are in a random jumble but all show something I enjoy or find unique about Wallingford. I was going to write something about each of the pictures but I don’t think I’m going to have the energy anytime soon to think about them. So, in one big jumble, here they are (some are repeats from the first post about Wallingford):

Yard picture: Yellow rose tinged with pink.

Yard picture: Yellow rose.

Yard picture: Yellow flowers.

Wildflowers between the sidewalk and road.

Yard picture: White flowers on tree.

Yard picture: White rose with pink edge.

Yard picture: Tall white iris.

Yard picture: Large white flower in front of tiny pink flowers.

Large circular mosaic on stair langing. Circles of black, blue, green, and purple with marine motifs.

Yard picture: red and yellow tulips.

Yard picture: Bare tree, kind of artistic looking.

Trash in circular mesh tube to create wall art.

Sign on fence that says Together We Will.

Mural on tatoo place. Picture of orange striped cats.

Orange crocheted (or knitted?) swing hanging from tree.

Yard picture: columnar yellow and purple flowers on a stalk.

Small tree hung with summer colored decorations.

Front yard decorated for summer including cut-out of a turtle riding a bicycle.

Yard yard decorated for summer with turtle riding a bicycle and pinwheels in the yard.

Plants growing in old stump.

Bumper sticker on truck says "Warning: Student Driver. Be Afraid . . . . Be Very Afraid".

White yard: white strawberry bush.

Yard picture: star mosaic.

Yard picture: red fairy door.

Yard picture: red fairy door 2.

Yard picture: red tulips surrounded by purple flowers.

Yard picture: Red tulips.

Front Yard: Red tulips just starting to open surrounded by purple flowers.

Yard picture: purple iris, a smaller variety.

Yard picture: black flamingos with skeleton outlines painted on them in pink and white. RIP gravestone.

Mosaic sign that says "Seattle Mosaic Arts piecing together"

Mosaic sign that says Seattle Mosaic Arts piecing together and shows a sunset picture?

Bush with pink flowers in a median surrounded by brightly colored plastic tulips.

Yard picture: multi-colored small roses that are pink, red, and white.

Yard picture: pink rose with a yellow center.

Yard picture: purple flowers with a mirror mosaic in the middle.

Yard picture: Red rose.

Yard picture: brilliant red rhododendron bush.

Yard picture: orange flowers with yellow centers.

Yard picture: tree with fine purpleish leaves.

Church with rainbow colored steps, one color per step, and flying a progressive pride flag.

Truck with women in the bed holding signs. Trunk tailgate has a sign that says #Seattleqartineparade.

Very large rainwater tank.

Quaratine hopscotch on sidewalk.

Green house with purple stairs. The front door is glass with painted picture on it.

Poem in front yard.

Poem in front yard.

Bench with words that say "Poem bench" on it.

Sign in planter asking people to give the plants words of affirmation.

Yard picture: bright pink flowers.

Yard picture: California poppies.

Yard picture: orange tulips.

Yard picture: yellowish-orange rose.

Sign advertising four legged friend meetup for those acquiring new puppies during COVID-19 quaratine.

Yard picture: nerfgun dart next to California poppies.

Yard picture: Ceramic blue mushroom cap.

Quirky bird art on concrete retaining wall for a front yard.

California poppy mosaic on steps going up to a house.

Square mosaics of different pictures in place of cement flagstones as walking path between yard and street.

House has a mylar Minion balloon hanging outside.

Mask sign on fence that says "Not forever, just for now".

Street roundabout median with plastic tulips, potted plants, zebra on a birdbath and other quirk.

Yard picture: purple Lilac bushes.

Little Free Library with copper plate decoration.

Chalk on sidewalk that says Just Married.

Painted roundabout medan with quirky design.

Huge ivy hedge in front of a house with space cut for door and window.

Random large hook hanging off the house.

Outside house art. Metal tree triptych.

High hedge surrounding house.

Handrail covered in small coloring tiles.

Front yard growing grain (wheat?).

Picture of front of a house. Stuffed giraffe peers from the front window.

Yard picture: fringed white and red tulip.

Sign with free chained around tree.

Pink flowering tree.

Small Mosaic in front yard.

Yard picture: red rose.

Yard picture orange California poppies.

Fire hydrant with two eyes stuck to it.

Fence with encouraging quarantine messages written in chalk.

Fence with encouraging quarantine messages written in chalk.

Yard picture: white daffodils and red spiky tulips.

Tree with hanging decorative eggs for Easter.

Picture of yard with large, maybe 1 foot high, ceramic eggs scattered about.

White daffodils laying on ground due to stems being unable to support them.

Bright pink flowers in strip in the middle of the driveway.

Yard picture: blue ferry door in tree.

Yard picture: round fairy door in tree.

Yard picture: yellow fair door in wooden electric pole.

Yard picture: toy digger in patch of dirt.

Tree surrounded by wooden rectangular supports.

Stump with pictures paint on it.

Flowering tree with paper cranes hanging off the branches.

Pink flowering tree.

Tall, and oddly shaped, cedar tree.

Seattle You are cool sign.

Yard decoration: concrete cat looking through binoculars.

Thomas Vbra studio sign on tree trunk: www.tomasvrba.com

Yard picture: masses of orange California poppies.

Yard picture: butter fly mosaic.

White Cutout rabbit underneath sign with inspiration pandemic messages on it.

Brown Cutout rabbit underneath sign with inspiration pandemic messages on it.

Rocks with inspirational sayings painted on them.

Birdhouse on top of 2 hour parking limit sign.

Painting of owl next to house.

Sign that says "Bigfoot xing".

Fence gate that says Beware of Dog with dog crossed out and Frogs! underneath.

Garden sign that says Be Happy.

Orange california poppy with bumble bee.

Bamboo and pink flowering trees.

Bamboo.

Yard picture: artist advertising painting.

Julian in master bath with his large water table.

Yard picture: pink flower.

Fireworks

Fireworks

Fireworks

Fireworks

Fireworks

Fireworks

Front yard of Wallingford house.

Yard picture: yellow rose edged in pink.

Calvin hanging out in hammock colored in blue blanket reading a book.

Calvin and Julian playing in the snow on the deck.

Sitting on the sofa enjoying the fire in the fireplace.

Fire in fireplace.

Small multicolored rose: red, yellow, and pink.

Yard picture: red flower.

Yard picture: pink flower.

Yard picture: peach rose.

Yard picture: bush with brilliant purple flowers.

Calvin and Julian playing in snow on the deck.

Work and School from Home: Walking Around Wallingford Part 1

Most work days I go for a half hour walk at lunch time. When working at the library, I had a great route that gave me hills and stairs. Our Wallingford house does not have such steep hills, which I prefer from a driving perspective, but I don’t get as much exercise this way. However, I love walking around the neighborhood and seeing all the beauty and quirk it possesses.

My Favorite House

There is one house in particularly that I love in this neighborhood. The house is light green with white trim and purple steps. The front door is glass with large whimsical flowers painted on it. I feel a little awkward taking pictures of people’s houses close up so you might just need to trust me that it’s a magical house.
House with purple stairs surrounded by trees.

The property also has multiple fairy doors next to the concrete steps and in the trees.
Yellow fairy door in utility pole.
Round fairy door, surrounded by cobble stone, in tree trunk.

Gothic-style fairy door in tree trunk.

Red round fairy door embedded in stones next to stairs.

Gothic-style red fairy door embedded in stone next to stairs.

Mosaics

I love all the mosaics I see in random spots around Wallingford. About a year ago I stumbled across Seattle Mosaic Arts and I meant to go back and take a class but never seemed to have a good time to do it.

Here’s their signs:

Mosaic on red wall. Blue background with a yellow crescent moon and multi-colored umbrellas. Says Seattle Mosaic Arts piecing together.

Two mosaics on red wall. Top mosaic shows a crescent moon and says Seattle Mosaic Arts piecing together. Bottom mosaic shows a sunset.

There are also many other mosaics around the neighborhood. One of my favorites is the stairs:

Steps with a mosaic picture of an orange poppy.

Twenty-two 12-inch mosaics with various pictures on them used to create a sidewalk path.

Colorful mosaic star with the word James on it.

Butterfly mosaic tile.

Flower mosaic tile.

Stair handrail covered in mosaic tile.

Mosaic mirror made with reflective mosaic tiles in the middle of purple flowers.

Signs

There are many, many, signs around the neighborhood but below are some of the more unique one.

One of the first COVID-19 related messages that popped up was a quarantine hopscotch on the sidewalk. The chalk writing says “Days in Quarantine Hop-Scotch”.
Sidewalk with chalk writing and numbered boxes.

Sign on fence says "Together We Will" with smaller, hard to read, writing around the bigger letters.

The fence below has multiple messages that says things like:

  • Take care of one another 🙂
  • One day at a time . . .
  • Love one another
  • You are loved
  • Not one Not two Together
  • It’s ok to cry
  • this too shall pass
  • We all have each other

Fence with encouragements written in chalk.

Another section of the sign:

  • Community is everything
  • Enjoy what you have!
  • Share a message [arrow pointing down to chalk]
  • Love = Soup [heart] XO
  • Spread community
  • Bears in windows

Fence with encouragements written in chalk.

One of my favorite signs is a “Beware of Dog” sign with dog crossed out and “frogs” inserted below.
Wooden fence gate with Beware of Dog sign. The word dog is crossed out and below it says "Frogs!".

Crossing sign with a picture of bigfoot and the text "Bigfoot Xing".

Wood in the shape of a T. Across the top it says "Be Happy".

Wooden sign with words in blue and green that says "Seattle You Are Cool".

On one of the “walks” Julian and I went on we went pass this sign. It says, “Our plants love receiving words of affirmation. Please share some freely with them as you pass by! TY!”.
Raised garden bed with sign in it.

There are several places where poems have popped up. Here’s one:
Poetry Proclamation
Clearly these are stressful times
So why not try and bust some rhymes?
As long as you are staying home
Why not give the world a poem?
This one’s here to get you started . . .
Don’t be shy or chickenhearted.
Imagine it’s a gift for others,
Children, grammas, daddys, mothers!
We’re all in need of fun distractions,
Kindly deeds and interactions.
So this is my shout out to you,
Friends and neighbors old and new!

Sign that says Poetry Proclamation.

This isn’t a sign as much as it is adding art to covered up windows/doors while the business is closed.
Picture of building with doors and windows covered by plywood and artistic orange cat heads drawn on the window coverings.

And in honor of when Calvin starts learning to drive . . .
Bumpersticker that says "Warning: Student Driver Be Afraid . . . Be Very Afraid".

Persimmon Trees

Our Seattle house has four Fuyu-style persimmon trees. This provides more fruit than five people can eat in a reasonable amount of time. I assume there are many ways one can preserve persimmons. However, it was December and I didn’t have a lot of time to deal with them. I found a blog post implying that one could freeze persimmons whole without first having to extensively prepare them. So, that’s what I did. I set them out on cookie sheets, froze the persimmons till they were hard, then transferred them to gallon zip lock bags for long-term freezing. Fortunately, we have an extra freezer in our garage.

This worked much better than I expected. It turns out that if you run frozen persimmons under warm water, their skins are really easy to peel off1. Once thawed, the persimmon is very pulpy, more like a ripe Hachiya persimmon. Now to figure out what to do with them . . .

Back in December, I made Jaeger’s mom’s Persimmon Pudding recipe which was good. Today, I decided to try to make persimmon muffins. I looked up persimmons in my trusty baking books but couldn’t find any appropriate recipes. Of course, I could have just searched the internet for persimmon muffin recipes, there are quite a few. However, I decided to adapt a King Arthur Flour recipe instead. I reasoned that persimmon pulp is somewhat similar to ripe mashed banana so I might be able to convert a banana recipe for persimmons. It seems to have worked fairly well. Here’s the recipe.

  1. Kind of the reverse of blanching tomatoes to remove their skins.

Garden, 2014

Today I made my annual pilgrimage to The Flower Bin. This year I’m trying:

  • Heirloom Pineapple Tomato
  • Lemon Boy Tomato
  • Heirloom Black from Tula Tomato
  • Sun Gold Tomato
  • Super Chili
  • Genovese Basil (2)
  • Columnar Basil (2)
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Borage

The Pineapple, Lemon Boy, and Black from Tula are all beefsteak tomatoes. I’ve never grown beefsteak before. Generally I haven’t had a huge amount of success with tomatoes so I decided to go all out and try even more tomatoes. I have managed to grow the Sun Gold before so hopefully we’ll get at least some tomatoes.

The Borage is an experiment. It may, or may not, help reduce hornworms with the tomatoes.

I’ve grown the rest of the herbs before. Columnar basil is my go-to variety for seasoning basil and the Genovese is for pesto. The Chocolate Mint is for random recipes calling for mint. I’m going to see if the mint will grow in a container1 outside the basement window well. I have dreams of being able to smell it while I work but we’ll see.

The Super Chili is Jaeger’s. It’s my current favorite chili for Indian food. We actually still have a huge quantity from last year stored in the freezer.

  1. Always, always plant mint in a container or future home owners will assume you were senile.

Twenty-Eight Meals

Starting in January I will go from 20 hrs/week to 32 hrs/week. I’ve been 20 hrs a week ever since Calvin has been born and I’m definitely ready to increase. However, the work reason I’m increasing is we’ll be doing a major migration of the integrated library system (catalog) next fall and I need to work more to get ready for it. My tentative idea is to get up around 6 each day, work until it’s time to get Calvin up. Then I’ll take a break for breakfast, drop Calvin off at school, and then work some more until it’s time to pick Calvin up. In addition, I plan to stop doing regular work on Sunday and instead switch back to a traditional Monday-Friday schedule1.

My biggest concern at the moment is where I’m going to fit household tasks in. Right now, Monday is my “day off” and I use it to pay bills, balance the checkbook, run household errands, etc. I’ll be switching that to Sunday. Right now, after I finish work on Sundays I usually sit down and prepare my menu for the week and then go grocery shopping. This takes a ridiculous amount of time. I can easily spend an hour meal planning and then a couple hours shopping. In preparation for my hours increasing, I decided I should see if I could streamline meal planning and shopping.

This weekend I came up with 28 meals that I hope can be repeated without wearing them out too fast. You can see it here. I also wrote down every single ingredient needed for the meal and then sorted the ingredients by location in the store2. This way, when I’m making my grocery list, I can see what ingredients I need to buy for the week and put them on my list in the correct order. Since I grocery shop on Sunday, I have each week go from Monday-Sunday so I always have ingredients for the current days meal on hand3.

I’m not sure if this menu plan will work out or not. Nor, am I sure what this will do to our grocery bill. However, hopefully my scheme works out well.

  1. This will actually be the first time in my professional career where I don’t work Sundays. I started working most Sundays as a reference librarian to compensate for never working Saturdays. Others viewed Sundays as less popular to work because you only work 4 hrs so you had to make up the additional 4 hrs some other way. As a result, the other librarians were very amenable to me never working Saturdays since I took the dreaded Sunday rotation off everyone else’s schedule. When I transferred to IT, I was use to working Sundays and since we’re closed Sunday mornings, it was a great time to do server maintenance
  2. The Indian meals use a huge number of spices so ingredients list looks intimidating but most of them are relatively fast to put together. Since Jaeger likes Indian food so much I have a special spice carousel dedicated to Indian spices.
  3. Worst case, this allows me to wait to grocery shop till Calvin is in bed. I used home delivery for a while but had trouble getting my orders in. I’m not convinced I want to go back to home delivery, sometimes I had trouble getting them to delivery exactly what I wanted, but this meal plan should make it easier either way.

Monthly Update

The past month has been very busy.

Camping
In late August we went camping and setup at Difficult Campground which is close to Aspen. It had fairly small campsites, our extra large family tent was difficult to fit, but was a nice campground. There was a small stream that ran behind our site which I thought Calvin would get into but he pretty much ignored it.

Saturday, we got up, ate breakfast, and then headed out to Crater Lake in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. We made good time since Jaeger carried Calvin most of the way. Calvin spent a good amount of time complaining about how exhausting it is to be carried. Then we let Calvin walk and ambled for another mile or so before stopping for lunch. Given how long it had taken Calvin to walk a mile, we decided to carry him back. We had taken the bus up and we didn’t want to miss the last pick-up at 5pm.

The bus took us back down to Aspen where we got a snack and wandered around a bit. It turns out none of us had been to Aspen before which was weird since I thought Jaeger had been everywhere in Colorado. I decided it was basically a snootier, smokier1 version of Boulder. I also took the opportunity to stop by their county library and quiz the local staff on how they liked their ILS (catalog system).

Sunday we ate and then went and visited a ghost town. When we arrived, we were the only people there but as we were leaving a lot more people stopped by. I don’t think Calvin understood what a ghost town is. Jaeger took Calvin up the gondola while I spent a couple of minutes working and then we ate lunch and headed back home.

This was our 2nd successful camping trip of the summer. The prior year we hadn’t gone camping at all due to moving and our fear Calvin would continue his trend of waking up screaming in the middle of the night. However, this trip, and the previous one, all turned out good without any nighttime scream (by Calvin anyway).

Basement Refresh
Since I’ve started working in the basement, its problems have been bothering me more and more. We had water stains on the ceiling tile and the paint was desperately in need of being refreshed. Jaeger was pretty ambivalent given he rarely goes into the basement but I got a bee in my bonnet to fix it up better.

The ceiling tiles were a problem. They’re drop ceiling but in a style that no one seems to carry anymore. After looking at a lot of options, I decided my best plan would be to try to get matching paint and paint over the old water stains. I stopped by Kwal Paint to drop off a ceiling tile for matching and to pick up sample paint colors for the walls.

Jaeger didn’t like the existing tannish color so I picked up two blues, a light yellow, and a light green. Then I got some foam core and painted each with the proposed color and took them down to the basement to look. The light green look dreadful, I thought the yellow was ok, but Jaeger didn’t like it, and the darker blue was too dark. So, we decided on a light blue that has very slight greenish hints in it.

Over Labor Day weekend I feverishly painted everything, including redoing the trim. I discovered many crimes against drywall during that weekend. There’s so many it’s hard to start. Among other things whoever had painted the tan color had decided to save time and just paint over nails instead of pulling them out, filling in, and then painting. Also, it turns out one of the color combinations had been a nice cream colored wall with purple trim. That must have been fascinating.

Eventually I got everything repainted and then I moved the furniture around. We had a cubicle area that had been working as a storage unit but I got most everything thrown away, given away, or stored in the garage or a large white garage-style cabinet we bought. In addition, I changed the layout so my treadmill desk faced the window directly. All-in-all, I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I finished cleaning up the room scant minutes before our Megafest visitors arrived.

Megafesting
Yanthor and Anya came over to our house last week and we took time off to fest. We played a lot of games, watched one movie, and ate good food. Saturday was Jaeger’s birthday so I made two types of ice cream and German Chocolate Cupcakes 2. It was lots of fun and very relaxing.

A Night Out
Jaeger convinced me to call our babysitter for her to take care of Calvin Wednesday night while we went out to a restaurant to celebrate Jaeger’s birthday. It was sprinkling when we left and I debated whether I should take my light rain coat or the Gore-Tex. I decide on the light rain coat, a bad choice as it turns out.

We went to eat at Moongate, which is located in downtown Boulder. I had hired the babysitter till 10pm so after dinner we decided to go out and walk to the other end of the Pearl Street Mall. By that time, it was pouring. Jaeger wanted to stop by GoLite to get another shirt and by the time we got there, our clothes were dripping. Little rivers were running down Pearl Street Mall, it was amazing. Jaeger bought a shirt and we continued on to the Boulder Bookstore where we picked up several used juvenile books and Jaeger bought a tour guide to Beijing and Shanghai.

We sloshed back to our car, getting even wetter, and arrived back home a bit earlier than we planned.

Flooding
The rain continued to pour. In the middle of the night I groggily thought that maybe I should check the sump hole in the basement but couldn’t convince myself to get up. The next morning I woke up and padded downstairs to the basement to start work for the day 3. I started to walk to my desk and felt wet squishy carpet beneath my feet. I called Jaeger down and we started to assess the situation. Our sump hole does not have a pump, which I had been vaguely aware of and was on a list of things to deal with someday, and was overflowing. Jaeger bailed it out, into the nearby toilet, to a reasonable level and then we went up to have breakfast and consider the situation.

Sporadically checking the internet, I learned that we were pretty lucky with our very minor water problem. All the creeks and rivers in our area were completely out of control and real deep flooding was rampant in the rest of Boulder (Gunbarrel is slightly elevated and isn’t in the path of any major bodies of water). The sheriff requested that everyone stay home.

At first, one side of the room seemed dry so I was hoping we could just move the big stuff to that side and only dry out half of the room. However, after a deeper exploration it became obvious that everything was at least a little wet. Jaeger and I pulled everything out of the basement and piled it haphazardly in the living room, family room, and garage. I spent the rest of the day letting Calvin watch DVDs while I used our carpet cleaner to pull the water out of the carpet. Right before supper time I had gotten the carpets to where they were still damp but much dryer. Our next step was to roll the carpet up, pull out the carpet pad to discard it, and then drape the carpet to let it finish drying.

I went upstairs to make supper and just as I finished, the power went off. However, I already had supper cooked so we found our camping lanterns and had a pleasant meal. Then Jaeger went down into the basement. Our sump hole had overflowed again and all the work I had down during the day had be cancelled out. Jaeger and I spent probably a half hour bailing the sump hole till it was at what looked like a safe level. About in the middle of our bailing, the power came back on. We pulled the carpet up and draped it over random things in hopes it would start drying during the night. Jaeger and I took turns waking up every two hours to make sure the sump didn’t overflow again. Surprisingly, it started going down during the night. However, we did get woken up twice due to emergency flood warnings (that weren’t actually in our area).

Friday morning everything was complete chaos in the Boulder and large surrounding areas. Evacuations were being attempted all over the place and it was obvious that we were very, very lucky. We decided we needed a sump pump so I called a plumber and was put on a list to be called when they could start getting places. He told me I should probably get on a second list given the demand. I decided not to because at that point our sump hole looked reasonable and I decided there were probably other people that needed it more than we did.

I used the carpet cleaner to suck a good portion of the water out of the carpet pad and then ripped it out and put it by the trash to be thrown out later. During this process I had one of the basement mysteries revealed. The basement has uneven floor. However, in random spots it would have a weird bump in the carpet. Neither Jaeger nor I could figure out what the bumps were. We were half afraid they were rodents that somehow had gotten trapped under the carpet. Well, when I pulled up the carpet pad, it turned out they were loose remnants from a prior carpet pad. For some reason, when the newest carpet pad was put down, they didn’t bother to clean up the random pieces that were littering the floor. Really odd.

With the carpet pad gone and the carpet suspended and having fans blowing on it, there wasn’t much left for me to do other than occasionally make sure bad things weren’t happening with the sump hole. To my surprise, around 3pm, the plumbing company called back and told me someone would be there in 10 minutes to install a sump pump. That was way quicker than I expected. However, perhaps we were one of the few people they could actually get to.

The plumber arrived and told me a full install would take three hours, which he didn’t have. However, he could install a temporary solution and come back next week to finish up the job. The full job will cost around $1200 but we’re lucky because we already have a sump hole. The prior lady he had just visited didn’t have a sump hole so it was going to cost her $3000 to get a solution. Anyway, this type of scenario isn’t particularly common in Gunbarrel but Jaeger and I felt we should go ahead and get a pump anyway as insurance.

At this point, the carpet is mostly dry. However, I’m not sure yet whether or not it’s salvageable. I’m letting it dry today and we’ll see what the situation looks like tomorrow. I’ve been cooped up in the house since Wednesday evening and church was canceled today (the church is in a bad area) so I’m considering a visit to the library today. I haven’t heard what conditions the roads are in yet but I think a roundabout route should get me there without any problems. Worst case, if it starts raining, we head back immediately.

Anyway, it’s been very adventurous.

  1. Boulder is pretty rigid about allowing smoking in public so it was disconcerting to be sitting outside the cafes in Aspen and having to dodge the smoke.
  2. We had just finished a cake I had made a month prior so Jaeger didn’t want another full cake to deal with.
  3. I usually work a little bit before breakfast which allows me to get the prior day’s emails out of the way. Then I take a break to eat and take Calvin to preschool and then resume.

Cat5 Update

Cat5 had her annual physical today. She’s doing a lot better. She had been at the point where she was throwing up 4+ times a day. The Prednisolone has been a miracle drug for her. To my knowledge, she’s only thrown up once after the first couple of days of being on it. She also gained one pound! This may not sound huge but she’s been losing weight steadily for the last year. Now she’s at 10.4 lbs.

We were gone over the weekend and I noticed when we got back that she looked a lot healthier (sometimes living with a cat it’s hard to see the change until you go away). Anyway, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic than I have for a while.

Ongoing, the vet would like to see if I can drop the Prednisolone to every third day. If that doesn’t work, my impression is we just maintain her at every other day indefinitely. This isn’t as bad as it sounds because since I just rub it into her ear, it’s a pretty painless application for everyone involved. It’s also not a terribly expensive drug and can probably pay for itself in my decrease of buying rug cleaner 🙂

Vacation

On Friday Jaeger and Calvin left for New York City to visit Jaeger’s sister as well as doing some site-seeing. Originally, I was planning to go with them. However, 3 plane tickets are more expensive than 2 and I didn’t think all of us would fit in Bethany’s apartment, at least not comfortably. So, I told Jaeger that if he didn’t mind, I’d prefer staying home. To my surprise, he agreed. As a result, the last couple of days have been the first time, since Calvin has been born, that I’ve been by myself and didn’t really have anything scheduled that I needed to do. It’s been very, very relaxing.

I spent a fair amount of time pottering around in the yard. As I’ve probably mentioned before, our yard was loved by someone at one point but it’s gotten completely out of hand. The cat mint, which was planted on purpose, is particularly problematic. I’ve lost count of the number of hours I’ve spent yanking every shoot I can find out. I’ve been trying to get as much of the root structure as possible but it’s wily, and there’s a lot of it.

I was also planning to start digging a 4′ x 6′ x 2′ hole for a sandbox I want to get for Calvin. When Jaeger was growing he had a sandbox that was about 3′ high but 2′ of it was sunk into the ground. I was planning to do something similar for Calvin’s sandbox. However, only a couple inches down from where I was hoping to put the sandbox I struck large tree roots. Given how many trees we have on our property, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. The spot I chose is still the best spot for a sandbox. There’s nothing worthwhile there at the moment and it’s nicely shaded for hot summer afternoons. So, I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I need to talk to Jaeger about it. I suppose we could still do a 3′ high sandbox there, we’d just have to provide a ladder or something.

The project I did successfully complete is assemble our planters. Our house has a small deck at that back that goes down to a large concrete pad. The pad use to have a hot tub on it but neither Jaeger nor I wanted to deal with a hot tub so the prior owners took it with them. However, that leaves us with an awkwardly big piece of concrete. It’s not particularly good for outside dining or playing because it gets full, very hot sun1. To add insult to injury, it’s the only place that gets full sun that good enough for tomatoes and herbs. So, we bought a couple planter kids from Naturalyards. They aren’t cheap but they were relatively easy to put together and I think they look nice. I haven’t figured out what we’re going to do with the rest of the space yet.
planters

I went shopping on Sunday and spent way too much money of books and also bought some clothes. The rest of the time I’ve gone for walks, read, or watched DVDs. Jaeger and Calvin should arrive back from their visit tonight. It’s been very pleasant being by myself but I’m ready for Jaeger and Calvin to come back now.

  1. We have yet another spot on the side of the house, next to where I want to put the sandbox, that works better for dining.

Another Cat5 Update

Cat5 is still having problems. The feces problem has decreased, somewhat, but she’s still throwing up all over the place. Then, last week, Jaeger noticed that she had gone back to grooming herself raw. This time it was two places on the inside of her leg.

I took her to the vet again and he examined her and pondered. On the plus side, she’s still not constipated. That’s a major improvement over last year. Also, the places she’s over grooming means that her bottom isn’t particularly bothering her which is also a good sign. Our previous vet in Longmont did a lot of tests that ruled out some of the other possibilities. So, at the moment, the vet is leaning toward thinking she might have allergies of some sort that is causing her skin, and possibly bowel, problems.

One problem I have with Five is it’s extremely hard to give her medicine. She’s not a particularly smart cat but is pretty good at detecting medicine when it’s hidden in anything, including the pill pockets. I have about a 50/50 success rate when I try to brute force the pill down her throat. In addition, previously the vet prescribed a sticky gel (like hairball medicine) that you try to put in the cat’s mouth so they’ll lick it off and swallow it. I tried using it a while ago and got a little bit on the side of her jaw. Five completely ripped out all the hair on that side of her jaw. It looked like someone who had tried to shave for the first time. Completely bare skin with little red nicks all over. It was really, really disturbing. So, I stopped giving that to her.

With allergies the vet said he was thinking about trying to give her something like cortisone. This sounded like a good idea to me because back when she was doing very poorly last year, the Longmont vet had been giving her injections and that seemed to help more than anything else we tried. I mentioned that and our new vet said he was hesitant to give actual cortisone injections because apparently it can push a pre-diabetic cat into full diabetes and, unlike people and dogs, it’s hard to tell when a cat is pre-diabetic. He admitted that his opinion might be a little skewed because this is what happened with his own cat. He gave the cat a couple of shots of cortisone, triggered diabetes, and now has to give his cat insulin for the rest of its life. However, I can barely handle Cat5’s needs at the moment and I don’t think I could deal with her being diabetic.

In the end, the vet prescribed a gel solution of Prednisolone (0.1 mL Gel twice a day to start with and gradually decreasing if everything goes well). Given my experience with the last gel-like substance I was a bit leary. However, this is a different consistency and you apply it to the inside of the cat’s ear. Apparently the odds that she’ll over groom that part of her anatomy, at least to a harmful level, is low. Though, of course, I’ll monitor her closely to make sure there aren’t any problems. The vet also instructed me to try to avoid touching it and use gloves when I’m giving it to Five. It must be absorbed via the skin and the vet wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get an inadvertent dose of it. Fortunately, due to Five’s variety of messes, I always have massive supplies of latex gloves on hand1.

I’m feeling slightly hopeful that this treatment might actually work. I’m definitely atopic and, given how many skin problems I’ve had, it just make sense that Cat5 would follow in my footsteps. So, now we’ll just wait and see. I really hope this somehow magically fixes all her problems . . .

  1. It doesn’t matter how careful I am. If I don’t have gloves on I always manage to get some of the mess on me.

Masala Crêpe

On Jaeger’s first trip to India he encountered Dosas and became infatuated. Upon returning home he described them to me and I attempted to make some. Unfortunately, having never had dosas myself, I had only the vaguest idea of what I was doing. However, I found a recipe which made a huge amount of batter. This was fortunate as I wasted more than 1/2 the batter before I realized it was absolutely essential to use my cast iron skillet, not my non-stick skillet. However, I still had some trouble as my cast iron skillet has sides and is smaller than the traditional skillet for dosas. In spite of all this, I think I got the general idea even if it needed a lot of refinement.

Eventually, Jaeger found an establishment in Denver that served Dosas and took Calvin and I out to try them. They were pretty good. Then, a bit later, a restaurant opened up in Boulder that makes dosas so my enthusiasm for doing it myself waned.

Last year, we moved from Longmont down to Gunbarrel. Unfortunately, the stove that came with the house was a glass-top electric stove. I have not been impressed. It probably took me the first 6 months just to learn how not to burn pancakes. More disturbing, using cast iron skillets is not recommended for glass-top stoves. Up in Longmont I prepared more than half the meals we ate in my cast iron skillet and have profoundly felt the lack of it since. The one redeeming value the glass-top stove has is it’s attached to a convection oven that I love.

I did try to make dosas, from a pre-made mix, a couple of months ago and it was a disaster. I blame having to use my non-stick skillet. So, today instead of dosas, I made Masala Crepes. For some reason I can make crepes perfectly fine in my non-stick skillet, I’m not sure why. Maybe the egg makes it stick less? In any case, I used Jaeger’s mom’s crepe recipe and substituted some of the wheat flour for chickpea flour. I should have put some fenugreek in it too but forgot. Then I filled the crepes with “Mrs. Joshi’s Potatoes with a Fresh Coconut-Lime Sauce” from 660 Curries. It’s obviously not authentic but does provide the general feel of a Masala Dosa.