Saturday, May 31, 2008

-- short update: duct-taping birds-nest and scrubbing floor

A short but intense thunderstorm blew through here this afternoon. Hearing about it on the radio this morning I started to get worried about the bird's nest on our porch -- finches (house finches?) have built a nest in a wall decoration that blows off in the slightest wind. So although it looks white-trash, I duct-taped the nest to the siding:
Spent the rest of the day working and alternately getting the new tile floor ready for sealing. Because the edges are rough, lots of grout is embedded and requires getting down on hands and knees to scrub.I love the new floor, soooo much better than the old crappy Duraceramic / Durastone! I'll post more pix when we're done scrubbing, sealing, and have moved stuff back into place.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

-- wine-tasting (did you know parrots like wine?)

Tonight I went with a bunch of friends to a local coffeehouse for a wine & chocolate tasting (or so they said... they never delivered on the chocolate but did vow that cocao would flow next week). Instead we tasted wines of Greece and Portugal. I'd never been to a wine tasting. I'm pretty ignorant of liquor in general. To me it either tastes good or doesn't but I don't have the "this has fruity undertones with a hint of caramel" gene that picks up slight variations in wine texture and taste. The speaker would say very sophisticated things like, "Do we have any xinomavro fans here tonight?" and "The tannins are deeper in this one" as he passed around wines.

The only undertones I detected all night was in one particular wine which I wrote down so I would never accidently buy it. "Ftelia," (which can almost be the word "fetid" scrambled) was a Greek wine with "hints of barnyard" and "undertones of urine." I wasn't the only one who thought this. "Yes, but what KIND of urine?" one person asked as they thoughtfully swished their glass. Ftelia means elm in greek, named after the vineyard because an elm tree grows there.

Next came "Crasto" or the Crusty-the-Clown wine, which was actually pretty good.
After that were the port wines.
Our table's favorite port wine was Ferreira, from Portugal. The makers infuse the mixture with brandy during the wine-making process so the alcohol content is high and the wine is sweet, good enough as a dessert by itself. Both the red and white versions were silky and delicious.
The best part was discovering Sabrina's parrot, Squakahano:

This coffee house used to be one of the area's most famous bird stores, House of Hauser's before the owners retired. It's where I bought my beloved parakeet that I blogged about recently.

How fitting that a sweet bird should enjoy the wine tasting with the rest of us.
I think parrots like wine. (Or at least this one did!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

-- kitten update (any tips?)

(older pic, her eyes are now grayish green.)

Tonight's the second night the kitten is back home and she's finally used to the dog again. Last week she hissed and spat her way into my friend's home (who graciously agreed to watch the little ankle biter while we were away), bullying my friend's gentle resident cats. They were offended by this ungrateful stranger's rebuffs and took it out on me while I crooned; my attempts at friendship ended in bloodshed. That's the night I learned not to caress growling cats thrashing their tails.

Luckily things were ok after a few days and Sita got along beautifully. My friend couldn't believe how feisty the kitten was, unusually so. Same thing our vet said. I hope this doesn't mean she'll turn into a bitchy cat but there's no way to know.

So last night we retrieved the kitten and she hissed and spat her way back into our lives, the dog drama starting anew. Many times last night I questioned my sanity. But tonight the routine has been restored.

The kitten doesn't care much for being held, she mostly wants to play.

She does get more affectionate when less confidant though, like when I take her on walks around the neighborhood, holding her in my arms. She'll lean into my face and nuzzle against me periodically as if to be reassured that I'll keep her safe. I love this and nuzzle right back into that beautiful gray fur, kissing her sweet face.

If anyone has any advice on how to socialize a cat or just be a good kitty owner, I'd love to hear any tips!

I leave you with a post my friend Paul found about another blogger's kitten travails. I laughed so hard I cried.
Kittens can happen to anyone. ~Paul Gallico

Monday, May 26, 2008

-- back home, finished The Kite Runner

I'm back home. Spent yesterday flying, finished reading The Kite Runner. What a magnificent, powerful and gripping story, I just could not put it down. The author, Khaled Hosseini, is a physician in Northern California and this is his first novel. Incredible read. I woke up melancholy this morning, all I could think of were the characters, like I stepped inside their lives and that's all there was now. I was reading it on the flight and thought if the plane dropped out of the sky right at that moment, I would have died happy having experienced it.

I found this review on Amazon, this was basically me too:

And someone else said:
"The Kite Runner" is a song in a new key. Hosseini is an exhilaratingly original writer with a gift for irony and a gentle, perceptive heart. His canvas might be a place and time Americans are only beginning to understand, but he paints his art on the page, where it is intimate and poignant." Read the full review -->

Saturday, May 24, 2008

-- graduation day!

Today was the day! Mary graduated. Since she was the president of her class, she delivered a speech to her classmates (which I am including below).
The guest speaker was Dr. Fitzgerald, of Emergency Vets fame on Animal Planet. He was one of the nicest and most interesting people I'd ever met. I could have talked to him all night.After the ceremony. Is it really over? Mary and Leigh Ann in front of the fountain:
Mary's commencement speech:
It is a huge privilege for me to give the student address and I’m honored to represent our class! Today marks the culmination of many years of hard work and studying by myself and my classmates. It’s a day that seemed so far away … especially when Dr. Thomspon told us on our first day of orientation that we had 1,375 days till graduation. But we made it!

Even though it was a few years ago when we all were total strangers it seems like yesterday when we all first met at orientation. I remember when we were all given secret envelopes that contained the name of a classmate. Then we were given the task to find the person that matched the name and ask them a bunch of personal questions. At the time I was tired, thought it was a silly idea and that it was going to be the most dreadful task... until some cute cowboy named Weston came up to me and wanted to know all about me! I knew it couldn’t be all that bad!

I speak for all of us when I say "THANK YOU" to all our friends and family. Having your support and understanding was crucial to our success. I know many of you wondered what your loved one was up to... why you didn’t hear from them for months at a time and when you did they sounded beaten down and worn out. I’ll try to recap our 4 years so that you understand.

Freshman year was torture. We walked back and forth from Shands to the VAB in 90 degree weather, shoved lunch down our throats while sitting on the floor and then dissected cadavers for 4 hours. We panicked over grades and thought about how NOT to fail out of vet school. Not to mention that during our first month of school we encountered a hurricane that left many of us without electricity and water for over a week!

Sophomore year was better because the material was more applicable to real life scenarios... and there was no more anatomy! But the course load was brutal. However, we got to perform our first surgeries... granted a spay should not take 4 hours but it was a learning process.

Our junior year was hectic as we made our way through clinics. Some of you may not understand what "Clinics" means. Well, this is when we got to rotate through the different departments in the hospital and work with actual patients. It was personally my most favorite time of vet school. Here are just a few of the things we did in clinics to give you an idea of what we were up to.

On outpatient medicine we gave a puppy its first set of vaccines or gave an old dog with tons of tartar and bad breath a well needed dental.

On cardiology we helped regulate an animal in heart failure.

On dermatology we helped to resolve some of the greasiest, smelliest skin diseases you could imagine.

On surgery we got to have our hands inside an animal and assist in many different operations.

On Oncology we helped give a grieving family a few more precious months with their loved one. And we were there to help say goodbye when the time came.

On emergency we took care of animals that were hit by cars, jumped out of cars, or left in cars.

In large animal medicine, we were up all night with a horse that was foaling, then stayed the whole day after to help the newborn during its first day of life.

On large animal surgery we sifted our way through 70 feet of intestines to find why a horse had colic.

On farms we worked with dairy calves, beef cattle and even some huge pigs.

In wildlife, some of us got to work with giraffes, bears, tigers, bats and river otters.

These are just a few of the things we experienced. Clinics were great... even when you had to pull a 48 hour shift, eat stale chips from the vending machine or steal coffee from the waiting room.

The first half of senior year was spent finalizing our senior research projects and studying for Boards and then we went back to clinics and just began counting down the days till today.

During our 4 years some other cool ‘non vet related’ milestones occurred. There were 8 engagements (well, one engagement was made between two of our classmates so it’s really 9 engagements), 14 marriages, and 4 baby gators born!

We are privileged to be graduating today and becoming veterinarians... so many people dream of becoming vets but only a small portion actually make it. We have achieved our goal, and now are ready to begin another chapter. I am excited for all of our futures and the difference that we will make. I am entirely confident that each of us are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead -- even if we don’t feel like it. This is mostly because of the awesome teachers, clinicians, residents, interns, technicians and support staff that we have been so lucky to work with.

So I come from a pretty large family. All [of you] in the house, can I get a shout out? Well I hate to tell you guys but we now have 82 more family members because I consider all of my classmates extended family members. We’ve been through so much together and I’ll miss all of you. I’ll miss Greg’s hearty laugh and Kelly’s endless questions. I’ll miss watching Maite and Chris’ dance, or watching Lynn put the lawn crew "in check." I’ll miss Allison’s unique baking skills and of course whenever there is an AV issue… hearing that cumulative ‘STEEEVE’ .

I’ve had a great 4 years and am proud to be a part of the class of 2008! Thank you.

Veterinarian's Oath:
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

-- just before the ceremony

It was almost 90 degrees out and pretty humid, I was about ready to jump in this fountain.

Friday, May 23, 2008

-- veterinary awards ceremony

Tonight was the awards ceremony. Mary won an award for the most compassion exhibited for the animal-human bond, and she also presented her class's awards for professors and other classmates:Here's Mary and Leigh Ann (far right) getting the awards ready to give away. Leigh Ann won the award for best personality!Believe it or not, it's actually difficult to find a vet with great personality and compassion, the world is lucky to receive these fine vets. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

-- climbing the walls (literally)

Went rock climbing today for the first time ever! Mary & Leigh Ann:Mary and I:
Here's the gym manager showing us how to tie knots and hook up the safety harness:
Leigh Ann is like a spider speeding up the walls!
The toe-holds are marked for difficulty level so you can plan your climb based on skill. I like the holds that are cupped so you can get your whole hand in there and grip:
The gym has two types of climbs you can do -- with the rope or free climbing:
Taking a break:
Leigh Ann started eyeing the cave hill. "Let's roll down!" This was the best part!
Leigh Ann free hanging from the giant uvula rock and me off to the left trying to stick to the walls:
Your hands can really hurt from gripping so hard!
This rocks!

-- hip hop dance class and the rest of my day

Mary and Leigh Ann in hip hop dance class.

I love to dance and came along to see what an actual class is like, since I often dance to exercise at home. Class began with manic-paced stretches leading into a tortuously-long string of situps and then the moves began. The instructor, or dance nazi, barked out instructions while flowing across the floor in a set of incomprehensible moves that we were supposed to mimic in real time. I was as graceful as pirouetting elephant.

Then we went back home and ate dinner. Here's how easy it is to give a dog a pill - Mary just threw it on top of the food for the dog to unknowingly suck down.
Then it was time to open presents.
One of the things I'd gotten her were a set of antique veterinary syringes (yay eBay!). It wasn't until she opened this that I realized why my luggage took so long to go through at the airport. Definitely not a common item among travelers.
I am having a blast!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

-- funny conversations, overheard

Having spent the day flying and overhearing cell conversations, nothing trumps this post from my buddy Kyle:
I'm in george bush international airport in houston waiting for a flight to phoenix... [snip]

there's a really large and really irate woman sitting across feom me who is providing regional entertainment to gate 43, shouting into her cell phone "JOSH IS GOING TO HAVE TO GET ON HIS @)!;@!!@ KNEES AND BEG #!@;!;?,!) FORGIVENESS!! HE IS GOING TO LAY ON THE OFFICE FLOOR AND WE ARE ALL GOING TO TAKE A @!#?$;@ @$#,?;@ ON HIM! IT'S THAT @$!#?!'@'RS FAULT WE GOT THE 1.2 RATING AND THAT #$()@",?ER IF GOUNG TO $(!#?!@ing

she seems completely oblivious that everyone is canted about 20 degrees in her direction.

Ha! That wins hands-down but if anyone has any other funny overheard cell conversations, LMK. I still love overheardintheoffice and I'm picky about talking on the phone in public. There's not much that I need to blab away about at the grocery store or bank, it can usually wait until I'm someplace quiet where I don't feel like I'm being rude.


Followup update: Kyle has another post on his site about an overheard conversation at a wedding. Omg, this is too much!

-- shouldn't salt be pure white?

That's all I'm asking.

-- almost there

Dan outside our connecting flight's propeller aircraft.

-- cake alert for coworkers!

I just landed in Atlanta and realized i left a piece of untouched cake in the fridge. If u work w me and c this, it's in the container labelled "meatloaf."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

-- tribute to Dr. Mary, congrats on graduating!

This post is for my best friend Mary who is graduating from vet school.

I'm packing now!The most important things are done....

Mary decided to go back to school 4 years ago to be a vet and this weekend she graduates. I can't think of a better person to be a vet. She has a natural way with animals. Here she is with one of her dogs, Neo:And also with Rissa, her beautiful samoyed:
She worked her a$$ off:

Here's her first spaying with her friend/colleague Leigh Ann; they are holding up the ovaries (Leigh Ann's on the left, Mary's on the right):
She took me on a tour of her school; here we are in the horse fridge, where horse cadavers hung from hooks awaiting student dissection:
No animal is too big to love:

Her sense of adventure has made this entire process look easy but I know it hasn't been. Here she is in Scotland:

And on a trip across the country last year, with her sweetie:
This last pic is special... NOW WE'RE EVEN!
See you soon!

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