31 October 2008

Halloween is...

one of my favourite holidays. I love seeing all the little trick-or-treaters come to the door. The sweetest ones we had tonight were a little brother and sister, probably about 5 & 6 years old. The girl was a Chiquita banana and the little boy was a bunch of grapes. The grapes were purple balloons all blown up and attached to his clothes. And he was wearing plastic grape clusters around his neck and in his hair. He took a few minutes to explain all about his outfit to me. Too cute!

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Happy Halloween

Have a most bewitching day and night!
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30 October 2008

Absentee voting

In our state we do not have Early Voting, per se. We have Absentee Voting. There are several reasons that people can vote absentee. You have to check your reason and sign a statement swearing it is true. And there are only a limited number of reasons. Being out of town is one. Being handicapped is one. Off on military service is allowed, as is working at a place that is open 10 hrs or more on Election Day. Today is the last day you can vote absentee. All absentee ballots must be turned in by 5:00p.

This morning it occurred to me that I should take advantage of this service. I was remembering the day earlier this month when I got ill so unexpectedly and had to be hospitalised. After all this time if I couldn't get to vote for my candidate I would have been very upset. So I took myself off to the courthouse to cast my ballot.

The courthouse is the only place one can vote absentee. There is very limited parking in the downtown area. They have parking garages, but you have to walk several blocks to the courthouse. There are five handicapped parking places right beside the courthouse. When I got there, two of these spots were filled with police cars. They sure weren't handicapped! I don't know if cops are allowed to disregard the rules or not, but I made photos of their cars in the spots with their license plates in the picture. One spot was taken by a car with no handicapped tag. The other two were filled with two cars with handicapped licenses. (And if you don't know why this matters, back in February I had to get a handicapped plate as I cannot walk very far anymore. Not enough red cells to carry enough oxygen for me to breath.}

I drove around the square 11 times hoping someone would move from one of the spots. No such luck. There is a parking garage on the basement level of the courthouse. I finally drove up there and talked with the security guard. Apparently one can only park there if one works in the courthouse and all spots are assigned. The guard took pity on me though and told me to call the office of the probate court to see if they would give me permission to park there long enough to vote. So I called. They said they don't do that. But I pleaded my case and got put on hold. After 7 minutes and 39 seconds (time showing on my cell) she came back online and said they would let me do that today. Cool! I left my keys with the guard and he moved my car as needed.

The voting process itself is fairly easy. We have paper ballots that get inserted in a machine and read electronically. (Sorry the photo is blurry, but I didn't make a photo of my ballot and this is all I could find online.)

Our ballots are marked with a black felt tip marker. You connect the front end of the arrow to the back end of the arrow by whoever it is you want to vote for. Or by the straight party ticket. I am so glad I thought of this. Now I won't have to worry about unexpected illness, and if I'm doing well that day I can have some fun cooking.

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Shopping, top down in cold weather, and friends

It's kinda sad when it's a big deal to go grocery shopping. But that's what I'm going to try to do today. My white counts are still zilch, so I will go early when the stores are relatively empty. I'm stopping by Fresh Market and Publix. Luckily, they are right across the street from one another, so it's easy enough to go to both in one trip. I am behind on the the Xmas Cookie Bake-Along, a Soup Cook-Along and Barefoot Bloggers. (See what I mean about this MDS really cutting into things I want to do!)

It's 33° here right now. I haven't driven since the weather turned cold and my car is still in it's condition. Typically I can go top down when the temp is as low as 40° if I'm wearing warm clothes and have my seat heater turned on. With the low blood counts I tend to feel colder than normal, so we shall see. The sun is shining so I really hate to put the top up. Plus, I hate that closed-in feeling.

If I am not too tired after getting foodstuffs I am going to see if I can find a set of light blue scrubs. A friend on a foodie board gave me the greatest idea for a Halloween costume. I think it's hilarious. More on this later.

My friend Martha (Lines from Linderhof) is going to an Ina Garten booksigning today. Having been to one of those before, I KNOW how much fun she is going to have. Ina's new book, Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics, is out and is getting fab reviews in the foodie world. There are so many great recipes in it, I can hardly wait to start cooking. First up I think will be Savoury Palmiers. They're made with puff pastry, pesto, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese and pine nuts. What could be better? I do hope Martha will share her "meeting Ina" experience with us when she gets back to her blog.
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29 October 2008

The universe smiled and all's right with the world. Wednesday medical update 10-29

Well, maybe that is somewhat of an over statement. But it's a lovely day! The preliminary results of my biopsy look good. There are no blasts floating around in my bone marrow. This is a good thing. Now we wait for the DNA and that will be around 6 weeks. Also, my counts looked good enough today that the doc CANCELLED my transfusion. That has never happened before. Typically I go and find I unexpectedly have to get a transfusion. While my counts would be low for a well person, for me they were good. I am not scheduled to go back until Monday.

So although it is quite cold here, the sun is shining and it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

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Wednesday medical 10-29 - a little nervous

This morning I go get bloodwork done, then see my doctor and get the preliminary results of the the bone marrow biopsy. While I'm anxious to find out if there's been any change, I'm also a little nervous about if there's been any change. Things may have gotten worse or maybe I will be so lucky that the treatments will have done something to improve things a little, even if we were seeing no evidence of it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Whatever we find out, I'm likely have to make some decision about how to proceed from here.

Then after that part of the appointment I'm scheduled for transfusions of one unit of platelets and one unit of red cells. That will likely keep me there until after lunchtime. After that is done, Abbey had wanted me to go to the eye doctor with her if I feel like it. Her eyes will be dilated and I'll feel better if someone is driving her. We shall see. I may be too sleepy from Benadryl. I'm keeping a positive attitude!

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My lens works!

I'm so happy. My lens is back home with me where it belongs. And it works. I was able to zoom right in and make a photo of these two ornaments that came in the mail today from my friend Al.

Dish people who collect the Fiesta ornaments get all excited every year when the new ornaments come out. This is the second year that a retailer has ordered String of Lights. I wondered if they would change anything besides the date.
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28 October 2008

The Peter Principal

Most of the time these days I don't get aggravated or annoyed with people. Everyone has their own stuff going on and they might just be having a bad day. But this day we have the Peter Principal at work in all it's glory. ("in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties")

I just called the local camera store about my lens to see if they could check with Nikon. The person who answered is the same female I have spoken with about my lens twice previously. Both times she told me the lens still wasn't back. Both the days I called were after the 13th of October. So today when I pressed her saying it was going to be 7 weeks tomorrow, she put me on hold for a bit, then came back and told me the lens was here. Not only that, she had a note on it that said she had called on 9 October and left me a message that it was back. There was no message on our home answering machine. There was no message on my cell phone. Not only that, I have called twice before today and after the 9th, only to be told it was not there. ARRRRRRRGH.

Pardon my rant. I am better now. And am about to go get my lens before she forgets she told me it was here. Then I will do a happy dance.
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photographically impaired

I miss my good lens! Click here to read about it's woes. The camera store sent it off for repair on 11 September and Nikon did agree to repair it under warranty. I was supposed to get it back in 4 to 6 weeks. Well, tomorrow it is going to be 7 weeks and they have still not returned it. I am photographically impaired! I am. I like zooming. I like the versatility of that lens. Using the 50mm makes it more difficult to get the shots I want. When I called the camera store last week, all they could tell me was that Nikon still has the lens.

Maybe I should see if I can find a good macro and start making close-ups. My friend Janet, has a Tamron 90mm which she says is spectacular. In the meantime, I will hope for a speedy return of my Nikkor 18-200.
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27 October 2008

Sweet Potato Cornbread and Sweet Potato Soufflé

Some time back I ran across a recipe posted on a foodie board for Sweet Potato Cornbread. The title appealed to me because I'm the only one at my house who really enjoys sweet potatoes plain. We get them fairly often in the veggie box, so I was thinking this could be a good way to use them. I made this cornbread tonight.

Baked in a cast iron skillet and turned out on a small Fiesta pizza tray.

It is a lovely colour and we liked it OK, but I will probably not make this particular recipe again. I'm glad I tried it and will likely try adding sweet potatoes to my regular cornbread recipe. The biggest problem for us is the ratio of flour and cornmeal in the recipe. Traditional southern recipes for cornbread use little to no wheat flour. The texture is very different. Tonight's bread had a very smooth, almost cake-like texture. We prefer the more coarse texture of a recipe that is mostly cornmeal. But in case anyone else would like to try it, I will post the recipe as I got it and note my changes.

Sweet potatoes from the veggie box

Baked and ready to mash. I use my paternal grandmother's potato masher. IMO, this style works better than any other.

Juicing an orange. I love this Braun juicer. First saw it years ago when Ina Garten used it on The Barefoot Contessa on FNTV.

Equal parts flour and cornmeal. I was afraid we wouldn't be too happy with the texture.

The cornbread batter. The addition of the sweet potatoes make it a lovely colour.

Sweet Potato Cornbread

1½ cups yellow cornmeal
1½ cups white flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
½ cup milk
1 cup frozen corn (thawed)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. In a mixer, cream butter until fluffy (about 1 minute). Add brown sugar and mix briefly. Add eggs, orange juice, sweet potatoes and milk. Mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in corn.

Coat two 9-inch pans with cooking spray and pour batter into them. Bake about 20 to 30 minutes until firm or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before serving. Makes about 16 slices.

1. I halved the recipe to make this a better size for our family.
2. Omitted the cinnamon, cardamom and corn because I didn't want those flavours in the bread to go with the greens tonight.
3. Southerners bake cornbread in a cast iron skillet. Preheat the skillet on the stove and add a tablespoon of oil. Pour the batter into the hot skillet so that it will have a nice crust. Then place the skillet in the preheated oven.

I had some sweet potatoes and orange juice leftover so I made a little sweet potato soufflé. To the mashed sweet potatoes I added the oj, a beaten egg, a little milk, salt, and some sugar. Put it in an individual Fiesta pie baker and topped it with pecans and a little brown sugar. Then dotted with butter and baked it along with the cornbread. It was delicious!

The cornbread and the soufflé. Yellow and orange food are really set off by the sapphire Fiesta.
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Cooking up a "mess o' greens"

How very Southern. But then, so am I.

Members of the cabbage family have been cooked and eaten for centuries. Romans brought them to Britain sometime around the 4th century BC, and the British later brought them to the Americas. Greens as Southerners know them now, originated in slave kitchens in the 19th century. (Amazing the history trivia you can remember from college.That 4th century BC thing should be in Trivial Pursuit.)

When it's time to eat greens, a fair-sized quantity is picked and it's referred to as a "mess o' greens". The exact amount that constitutes a "mess" depends on the number of people being served. Typically greens are cooked slowly in water with ham hock or a piece of salt pork for a long period of time until they are very tender. The accompanying liquid in the pan is known as "pot likker", and is a delicacy to be consumed. Greens are served with hot cornbread that's been cooked in a cast iron skillet. The cornbread is used to soak up the pot likker. Often sweet potatoes and some sort of field peas are also served. Pass pepper sauce to season the greens. (Pepper Sauce is hot pepper flavoured vinegar.)

Any greens in the cabbage family that do not form a head are called greens, including but not limited to, beet greens, collards, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip greens. Although greens are eaten year-round, in the deep south they are at their best in January, February and March. My grandfather always said that collards need to be in a good frost before they are harvested. (I used to wonder if putting them in the freezer for a bit would accomplish the same thing, but he didn't think so.) My grandmother used to cook different sorts of greens together if there weren't enough of one kind to feed everyone. Her most common combination were mustard and turnip greens, but I've seen her put chard in the pot with those. And if there were small beets or turnips attached to the greens, she would dice them up in the pot, too.

The mess of greens being cooked today are collards that came in our CSA veggie box. And it just so happens that collards are my favourite type of greens. The fresh picked leaves filled up my kitchen sink. Now my grandmother always maintained that any greens had to be washed three times to get rid of all the grit. Whether or not they really need washing three times, I can't swear to, but I do it that way in her memory. To wash greens, fill the sink with cold water and swish the greens about. Remove the greens, drain the water, rinsing out any sand in the bottom of the sink, and repeat.

When the greens are clean, tear them into bite-sized pieces, discarding the tough ribs, and put them in a large pot with cold water. Greens will cook way down. A pot that is overflowing with raw greens will often cook down to fill the pot only about 1/4 full. Collards are sturdier and don't cook down as much, so my very full pot will probably wind up being around half full when the collards are done. Now I do not use ham hocks, salt pork or other such animal products, so when I cook greens I add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the cooking pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, uncovered, till greens are tender. For collards, they probably need to cook at least an hour or so. Season with salt after the greens have been cooking about 30 minutes.

Looks like too many collards to fit in the pot:

But it doesn't take long for the greens to start cooking down:

And finally, dinner: a nice serving of collards, cornbread and sweet potatos. Manna from heaven to a southerner.
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Monday transfusion, High Hopes, and sleeping through the day

Ever the optimist I went off this morning with High Hopes. (We love that song here. Abbey and I were singing it last night when she stopped by and I gave her my rubber tree plant for her apartment. Said rubber tree is named High Hopes. And yes, I've always talked to and named my plants.) I was only scheduled for a CBC, not a type and cross. When the results came in, my platelets were way low. I had to go back and get the type and cross. (We're up to two sticks now.) After that was done it was upstairs to the outpatient blood clinic to get the transfusion.

I honestly don't know what I would do without HemiSync music and meditations. (For my TMI friends who are reading, I use DEC and Anti-Aging CDs the most, but a lot of the Human Plus ones are good, too.) The nurses there are very nice and give me a few minutes to listen to HS on my iPod and get off in a zone before they put in an IV. Today was probably the easiest IV stick I've ever had. (But I still got stuck THREE times today - not that I'm counting. LOL.)

Again I got Benadryl in the IV and it totally knocked me out. I woke up enough to get in the car and come home, but it's a good thing Mike drives me to these things. I came in the house, lay down on the sofa and promptly went back to sleep. So here it is 7:30 at night and I've slept throught the whole day. Sigh. Now I know I will likely be awake too late tonight. Ah well. Veggies cook as well in the dark as they do in the day. As soon as I drink a cup of tea, I'll get started on those.

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Monday medical 10-27

This morning I go get blood tests and see the CRNP who works with my doctor. If my counts are too low I will need to get a platelet transfusion. I don't feel like they're horribly low, but I've been wrong on that before. Could be on the edge. If I don't have to get a transfusion, I'm going to come back home and spend time in the kitchen. Veggies from the last CSA box need cooking, plus there are all the pears we brought home from the farm. If I get transfused I'll be too sleepy from the Benadryl to function for several hours. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

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26 October 2008

Saturday, at the farm, I think it was...

a most beautiful day.

The hill across the creek from the log house in the late afternoon sun. We don't get a lot of different colours in the autumn here, but the hill glows with golden beauty.

Pears! Do we have pears! There is a ancient pear tree outside the back door of the log house. The last few years the pears have not produced well at all, but this year we have a bumper crop. We brought about a peck home with us, but there are lots more to come. Carnac The Magnificent sees Pear Crisp in the very near future.

This year for the first time we also have crabapples. Both of the Prairie Fire trees were covered with blooms this past spring. And this is what has grown since. As the trees are loaded, I think every flower made a fruit.

We did not pick any of the crabapples yesterday, but I'm thinking maybe next Sunday if the weather is nice.

Amazingly through all the neglect this year, the pepper plants are still producing. We picked a grocery sack full of the different varieties, including these.


Autumn is when the various sages really shine.
Pineapple Sage - the hummingbirds love these and were zooming around from plant to plant.

Narrowleaf Garden Sage - loved by butterflies and bees, some of these flower stalks are about 18" tall.
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Sticky Cinnamon Buns

Both of my two favourite recipes for breakfast rolls start with the Ice Box Roll dough my maternal grandmother used for all her rolls. Years ago I updated the dough recipe for the breadmaker and it works like a charm. I use it for dinner rolls as well as breakfast rolls. My grandmother preferred the Parker House shape for dinner rolls, but cloverleaf, hamburger or hot dog buns, monkey bread, etc., all work equally well. For these Sticky Cinnamon Buns I adapted a recipe I got from my neighbour before I had children, so I've been making these some 25 years now.

We made the dough Thursday night and put it in a gallon Ziploc bag in the fridge till Saturday. Then yesterday morning I made the Sticky Cinnamon Buns. Forgot to make pics until I already had the rolls in the pan ready to go into the oven.

And here they are ready to come out of the oven.

Turned out on a small Fiesta pizza tray. (I'm going to be so glad when the Square Fiesta comes out, as some of my favourite baking pans are vintage square ones.)

Sticky Cinnamon Buns
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon instant yeast

Pour milk in breadmaker pan. Add sugar, salt, oil, flour, baking powder, soda and yeast, in order given, ending with the yeast. Set breadmaker to dough setting and start.

When breadmaker is finished, remove dough and turn out on floured surface. Knead a couple of times and shape into ball. At this point you can either shape the rolls for baking or put in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator. Dough will keep several days in the fridge.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup chopped pecans
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a 9" cake pan combine 1/4 cup butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Place in oven to melt.

Meanwhile, roll dough out to 12x18 rectangle and brush with 2 Tbsp. butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over dough. Roll tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the long edge. Cut into 16 slices.

Turn off oven and stir mixture in cake pan. Sprinkle pecans evenly over the bottom of the pan. Lay rolls, cut side down in pan and brush tops with remaining butter. Cover and let rise till doubled.

Bake at 375ºF for 25 minutes or until browned. Invert onto large platter, being sure to scrape all the yummy goodness out of the pan and onto the top of the rolls. Cool slightly before serving.
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25 October 2008

New Fiesta Colours

Besides the Square Fiesta that has just been announced, there are three new glaze colours this year. Marigold (in honour of Fiesta's 75th anniversary) and Ivory were introduced at the Housewares Show in Chicago in March. Now, just in time for Thanksgiving the newest colour is Chocolate.

Select Chocolate shapes include: the traditional size Mug and oversized Java version, Oval Platter, various size Bowls, Luncheon, Salad and Dinner Plates, large and small Disc Pitchers, Salt and Pepper Shakers, Individual Oval Casserole, and Gusto Bowl.

While I wouldn't set a whole table in this glaze, it will be nice to have some pieces to mix in for autumn table settings.
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Square Fiesta

Fiesta was first introduced in 1936. It's an art deco icon. In 1986 Fiesta was reintroduced. The line is lead-free and Made in America. HLC has done many things to keep competitive. The latest iteration is square Fiesta. This will be in addition to, not in place of, round Fiesta. I'm really liking the plates, but not sure about the holloware. Here's the press release:


New shape is center stage at New York Tabletop Market
October 22-24
41 Madison, 16th Floor

Newell, W.Va.—(October 20, 2008)—The Homer Laughlin China Company™ is extending its iconic line of dinnerware with a new youthful shape: Square. Featuring the same sculpted art deco design by Frederick Hurton Rhead, new square shaped FIESTA Dinnerware complements the brand’s traditional [round] place settings and assorted contemporary glazes.

“The new shape addresses the needs of a growing consumer segment that cannot be ignored,” says Rich Brinkman, FIESTA Dinnerware. “Younger as well as new, edgy consumers desire unique shapes, sizes and colors that speak to their personal preferences, as well as stylized home decors.”

The company is unveiling Square in eight contemporary colors at New York Tabletop Market, 41 Madison Avenue, Wednesday, October 22 thru Friday, October 24. Look for FIESTA’s new shape in the following glazes: Shamrock, Ivory, Sunflower, Tangerine, Scarlet, Peacock, Cobalt and newly introduced Chocolate. “Additional core colors will be added to the offering in 2009,” he says.

Debuting at the FIESTA showroom on the 16th floor in Square is a Dinner, Luncheon and Salad Plates, and 19 oz. Bowl and Mug, as well as a full FIESTA line of dinnerware and accessories.

Despite square silhouettes, pieces maintain a strong relationship to the company’s established ‘round’ deco offering; coupe shape and height remain the same, along with the brand’s signature concentric rings.

Homer Laughlin’s artisans rounded the edges of the Square designs. “The softened look not only helps to maintain brand continuity,” says Brinkman, “but allows the complimenting intermixing of the two different shapes.”

Softer too are the bowl and mug. “Both are square at the base and round at the top for the obvious reason”, says Brinkman, “as practicality, functionality and ease of use have always been trademarks of the FIESTA brand.”

“Softened does not mean downsized,” says Brinkman. Scale is the only lingering difference between FIESTA’s now two shapes. “Each square plate was designed a bit larger than its round counterpart,” he says. The Dinner Plate, for example, is ¼ inch larger than the round version. “Again,” he says, “to allow decorative layering of the two shapes.” Mug and Bowl are equally more generous as well.

Square FIESTA will be available at major department stores and online in March 2009.

MSRP: Suggested retail price is as follows:
Dinner Plate $18, Luncheon Plate $16, Salad Plate $12, Bowl $12, Mug $13.
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Are You a Witch?

OK. The last one for tonight. I like this one best anyway.

You Are 65% Witch

You've got some pretty witchy stuff going on.

Even if you're not a witch, you've got to admit that you're a little freaky.

You have a strong independent streak - social norms be damned. More power to you.

Luckily, the time when you would have been burned at the stake has passed!

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The Jack-o-Lantern Quiz

When I have insomnia, I tend to surf the net. Another seasonally appropriate quiz:

What Your Jack-o-Lantern Says

You tend to be a very dramatic, flamboyant person.

For you, Halloween is another chance to perform.

This Halloween be something completely unusual... and shock everyone.

The candy you should give out: mini chocolate bars

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What Classic Halloween Costume Should You Wear?

A seasonally appropriate internet quiz

You Should Be a Mummy

You are seen as exotic and mysterious. You keep people guessing.

You see Halloween as a time that you can defy expectations and show a different part of yourself.

You love to try to surprise people. You enjoy being mysterious, especially on Halloween.

You enjoy breaking taboos and challenging what people are comfortable with. If that's scary, so be it!

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24 October 2008

Friday transfusions

Luckily my IV held up OK, so I did not have to get stuck again this morning. My hip is pretty sore from the bone marrow biopsy, but it's not unbearable. I had Benadryl and slept through most of the morning's activity. Both units of red cells were extra full, so I got more red blood than usual. We got home and when I went to get out of the car I was bleeding from the IV site. My bandage was soaked. But by now we have learned not to panic. Not looking at it I applied pressure while Mike went to get new bandage supplies. He cleaned it up and rebandaged. Now I seem to be fine. Sleepy, but fine.

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Lost time...

It's so strange after being anesthesised. (sp?) Part of it is the Versed, but I really have no memory of of things from noon yesterday until I work up just before midnight. Everything seemed to go well. Now we just wait for results of the bone marrow biopsy.
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23 October 2008

Off to see the wizard...

Well, it sounds better than off to do medical stuff all day. I'll be at CCI this morning getting the platelet transfusion and at the hospital this afternoon having the bone marrow biopsy.

Hope everyone has great day! I'll be sleeping through most of it.
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22 October 2008


I am owned by a wonderful red tailed parrot, aka an African Grey.

Meet Picard, whom I affectionately call Pico.

Picard came to live with us as a weaned baby. His hatchday is 7 November and he will be 11 this year. Parrots are fascinating and African Greys are particularly so. Not only do they speak parrot, they speak human. Picard's human speech is mostly English, but he also has a little French. And he doesn't just "parrot" things. He carries on conversation with me.

There is a lot of controversy in the parrot world about whether as a responsible companion you clip their wings or you let them be flighted. For most of his life, Picard has been flighted. Early on I came to the conclusion that for us it was not right to take away one of a bird's most basic rights and survival skills. If you have a flighted bird in your home, you have to take some precautions. At first is can seem like a lot of trouble, but soon becomes second nature. These are the two most important things.
!. Doors. Never ever ever stand in a doorway to the outside with the door open. When you go in and out, open and close the door fairly quickly. We have put screen doors on all our outdoor door openings, too.
2. Ceiling fans. If your bird is out of its cage, ceiling fans must not be running.
One of my favourite things that Pico says to people is, "I can talk, can you fly?"

Pico's cage is in my office/library. (This was a mistake that will be rectified when we build the new house at the farm.) In the family room he has a boing. (A boing is a spiral wire, covered with thick cotton rope. It hangs from the ceiling. Picard's is about 5' tall & 2" diametre.) Most days when I am home I open his cage door in the morning and just leave it open as long as I am home. He can get out to play on his cage top gym or he can fly. Normally I can hear him fly and know to expect him. When he flies, it is normally to his boing. But sometimes he misjudges things and he will land on the floor. This embarrasses him. Seriously. His little face is blushed if he gets caught on the floor. And he is so embarrassed that he won't talk. A few times Picard has been temporarily lost. Seriously. If he is on the floor he will not make a sound. And that brings me to another precaution with flighted parrots. Walk softly. It would not be good to step on a parrot.

Why I am making this post: A little grey bunch of feathers with a red tail and a somewhat red face just came walking from the hallway into the family room. We have wood floors and they don't give the best traction. Besides being embarrassed, if Pico is on the floor, he has to walk pigeon-toed. I am sitting on the sofa watching Countdown and have watched him walk all the way to me. When he got here, he ducked his head and sheepishly picked up one foot, indicating he'd really like me to pick him up. I do love this bird. Now he's on his boing, whistling and talking to me.

Picard is not the only parrot who shares his life with us. We also have Sunshine, a sun conure. The scientific name of sun conures translates to "miniature macaw of the sun". Sunny truly is beautiful with his yellow, orange, emerald and sapphire feathers. I don't have a close-up photo of him online, but here's a pic of Pico and Sunny bird at the farm.

Sunshine does not speak English as much as Picard. He has a few words, but he mostly whispers them. However, Sunny is a fabulous watchbird. I always know when Mike gets home, because Sunny starts squawking like crazy when the garage door opens. Many people can't live with sun conures because of the squawking. Sunshine doesn't squawk too much, and it's nice to have a watchbird. Squirrels or wild birds by his window will also set him off. If by chance Sunshine does go on a squawking binge, Picard soothes him by saying, "Calm down Sunny bird, it's all right. Calm down."

Sunny bird is a lot of fun and very playful. Abbey used to have a little electric train that he would sit on and ride. Now Sunny is flighted, too, but he rarely ever flies. I do not know why. Oh, and Sunny turned 11 this past summer.

I love parrots and am glad to spend time with these two.
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