Archive for the ‘Ponderings’ category


July 5, 2009

I have a dilemma, but first I have to make a confession. No – I’m not “Out Of Toilet Paper,” but I have become “One Of Those People.” I’ve been one for about 6 months now and, I have to say, I think it’s been a change for the better. I’ve always been very fond of food and mindful of what I put into my body, but I’ve taken it to a new level. I’ve sworn off bizarre, unidentifiable chemicals including high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and anything partially hydrogenated (this one mostly for it’s inability to commit to either being hydrogenated or not). I’ve also been doing yoga at least weekly, joined a local CSA, and all but stopped shopping the middle aisles of the grocery store. I’ve learned the value and the better taste of organics (the eggs are great – so full of character!). DH has always wanted a ranch/farm and I think this may be the slow coming together of what we both want. (Let’s not get too carried away – I still oppose having anything to do with cattle.)

In an attempt to avoid being dubbed the judgmental, self-righteous food freak, I try to keep this all to myself. I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what I should and should not be eating even when labels aren’t available. (When in doubt, stick with the veggies, be leery of the sauces, and never drink the major-brand sodas.)

For a while, I gave myself a pass to use up all the old “stuff” in the pantry. In the beginning, it was pretty easy – these were the things I’d been eating all my life. Then it became more difficult. As I’d eat, all I could think about were the possible effects and the unknowns of what I was eating. So I stopped eating them. I hunted for “approved” and acceptable products to replace the old ones.

Now for my dilemma. I still have a corner of the pantry with a stash of “prohibited” products and there’s a food drive going on at work. I’ve been torn about tossing the canned goods (how wasteful!) vs. donating them to a food bank (2nd class nutrition?). If it doesn’t meet my standards and I don’t want anyone to have to eat food that could be so potentially bad, but I also understand that  some people would be grateful for the offering. It’s an ethical debate for me. If someone who can afford the choice willingly chooses one of my “prohibited” products, I don’t begrudge the decision. To be forced to eat such things out of necessity or desperation is deplorable.

So what’s the solution here? I could really use the pantry space and the cleared conscience. Can just leave them on the side of the road and hope someone else will find them a good home – Maybe the ASPCA?


Seed Money For Peace of Mind

May 11, 2009

I’ve been informed that no matter how poor one might be, economically speaking, rolling pennies is a waste of time. I’ll have you all know that I find value in such activities, not for the monetary value, but because it’s a cathartic activity.

Until recently, I rolled my saved change regularly to deposit into savings. Since my bank will no longer accept my rolled change, I’ll have to find another activity offering mind-numbing stress relief.  Since I also enjoy shelling peas for the same effect, I’m guessing I’ll be preparing more recipes including peas. Peas don’t leave my hands smelling of metal so I guess there is that added benefit . . . although, if smell was an issue, I would have taken up shelling vanilla seeds instead.

What do you do?

March 16, 2009

When I was 12, my parents bought me Dalmatian mice for Easter. We already had family cats, but these were to be MY pets. My parents were careful to pick out 2 females (Fribble and Dribble) as they tend to smell better than males and they can’t reproduce. Or so we thought. Several weeks later, I had a litter of the cutest baby mice. Intent on not allowing this to happen again, I picked out 2 females early and kept note of them (unlike some animals, it’s easier to pick out the gender of the babies than the adults). When the babies were of the right age, I took the parents and all but the 2 earmarked babies and sold them to the pet store for 50 cents each. Cha-Ching!

The problem was solved, at least for a few more weeks, when sisters were revealed to be brother & sister, now proud parents to a new litter of baby mice, and the same dilemma staring at me. This time I was smart and picked out only 1 female baby and kept her with the mother. I had outsmarted the mice. Or so I thought. Did you know that siblings can mate to have a baby that will then mate with its mother?

I can now look back on my Greek tragedy of mice and laugh. At the time, I was quite frustrated that the odds never seemed to be in my favor. As should be expected, the blood lines grew closer and the resulting mice had some issues. For example, they vibrated – quite literally, vibrated. When you held them in your hand, they shook. It was actually kind of cute. That is until the growths began. Apparently, inbreeding may also cause cancerous tumors. At 12, I had no budget or concept of vet care for mice and they seemed to be feeling just fine otherwise so I pretended nothing was wrong.

That is, until one day, I came into my room to find only 1 live mouse. Distraught and on the edge of tears, I went to my mother and asked the obvious question:

Me: Mom, what do you do with a dead mouse?
Mom: I don’t know. What DO you do with a dead mouse?
Mom: Oh. Leave it alone and your father will take care of it.

Not long after, the other mouse died as well and my father disposed of the body. I cleaned out the cage (which was actually an aquarium with a screen held onto the top with a brick that only once fell in, miraculously not killing any of the scrambling babies). I didn’t get any new pets after that, but resumed my role sharing the family cats and dogs.

Flash forward to this year when, in January, my sister K came to live with us. She brought with her a monster named Tubby, an adorable little puffball of a blueberry dwarf hamster. I refer to Tubby as a monster because she would do anything in her power to eat anyone who came near her. Just walking past her cage caused her to stop what she was doing (most likely rummaging or running in the loudest wheel ever made) and literally lunge and grasp at you. If anyone tried to hold her, well, let’s just say you became an instant hamster launch. Those teeth are sharp and she seems to have a taste for blood.

If you wear really thick gloves, she can almost be held, but she’s not going to let you pet her under any circumstances and God help you if she gets away and can see skin. If you give her a sunflower seed, you might get a single head pet in before she pitches the seed and attempts to rip off your hand. I’ve half-joked that she’s a zombie hamster bent on eating human flesh. It’s only a half-joke because there’s a strong possibility I’m right and the zombie effects are just slow to show when infected by a dwarf hamster.

So for months now, Tubby has existed in our house. Sitting in a cage in the basement, being looked at occasionally, and allowed to “roam” via the hamster ball (or the ferret puzzle, as I like to call it – Blue would love to sample a hamster, but luckily hasn’t mastered the ball lock as of yet). K longs to get another rodent – one that can be held and might allow for cute cuddling or at least interactions that don’t involve a suit-of-arms. Alas, our house is at capacity for animals and none of us has the heart to feed the hamster to the ferret. (To be honest, I’m not sure how that would work anyway – remember the cricket?)

A couple of weeks ago, K went away for the weekend leaving Tubby with ample food and water. Upon her return, she noticed something wasn’t right. On Monday morning, she came to tell me there was something wrong with her hamster. She said Tubby’s eyes were puffy, she didn’t eat all weekend, and she could hold her. I searched desperately for the right thing to say. I told her I was sorry and that there’s not much you can do for a sick hamster. She went back to her room and I continued getting ready for work.

I was in the bathroom drying my hair when I see K in the doorway holding something. I turn off the hairdryer and look at her cupping Tubby in her hands. This thing looked BAD. Its hair was a mess (Tubby used to clean non-stop and had the fluffiest, shiny coat). Its eyes were swollen almost shut and looked “goopy” and it wouldn’t really walk. I tried to find something to say to K, but nothing was good enough. She was on the edge of tears and all I could think was “Please God, don’t make me touch that thing.” I sucked it up, stifled my mother’s voice in the back of my head (“What DO you do with a dying hamster?”) and touched the oozing creature while trying to console my sister. I had no idea what might be wrong with it, but it was obviously quite ill.

Throughout the day, the symptoms became more apparent. In addition to the other issues, if you put Tubby on the floor, she would walk in circles and fall onto her side. (It was really hard not to laugh at that one. Nature can be cruel and the other kids are gonna laugh whether they should or not.) DH did some research and found the symptoms to match those described by many other Internet users. We had a diagnosis – Tubby had a stroke.

According to Google, the prognosis for a hamster after a stroke isn’t great. They have to be handled with great care, being fed and given water frequently immediately afterward. Even then, more strokes are likely and the care will not get easier

K continued to nurse Tubby (who could now be held with no threat of bodily harm). She gave it food, but it would only eat if forced and drinking was difficult. By Friday, Tubby had basically stopped eating altogether and was obviously not getting better. Tubby was going to starve to death and we were being forced to watch. This was more than I could handle and I know K wasn’t doing so well either.

K packed up a box and we headed to the vet who diagnosed Tubby with a respiratory infection and agreed that she probably did have a stroke. She was clear that we could treat the hamster with fluids, antibiotics, and syringe feedings, but even then, the prognosis was NOT good. With tears in our eyes, K agreed with the vet when she suggested euthanasia was the best option. It wasn’t an easy decision and many will laugh at the somewhat extreme measure for a hamster, but neither of us could bear to watch Tubby die in such a horrible and painful way as starvation.

The vet was incredibly considerate and I give her a lot of credit for the amount of care she gave to K and to Tubby. Through the entire visit, she held the frail, sickly hamster in her bare hands. She never judged (that we could see) and even when we left, the front staff was somber and considerate.

On Friday, March 13th, Tubby was laid to rest, to suffer no more. In her passing, I like to think that she joined the mice from my childhood answering my question from so many years ago.

No More Crocodile Tears

December 13, 2008

While showering this morning, I spotted a notice on my shampoo bottle which stated “This finished product not tested on animals.” While I’m not a huge fan of animal testing, if ever there were a place for the practice in the development of products for humans, I think the final one would be my preference (as opposed to all the previous versions that *didn’t* make it to market).

Absolutely Excruciating

October 15, 2008

DH shared the following story with me. We’ve checked Snopes and not found anything definitive on its authenticity as of yet, but false or not, it’s still something to which I’m sure we can all relate. It hurts me to think what these parents and kids must be thinking.  For those of you who may not have read it, I highly recommend Freakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt. It’s a quick, easy, thought-provoking read and contains an entire section on the impact of a name on a child and society.

An educator friend of mine forwarded me this gem via email.

How would you pronounce this student’s name: “Le-a”?

Leah? NO
Lee – A?  NOPE
Lay – a?  NO WAY
Lei?  Guess Again.

It’s pronounced “Ledasha.”  Oh, yes, you read it right.  This child attends a school in Livingston Parish, LA. Her mother is irate because everyone is getting her name wrong.  If you see something come across
your desk like this, please remember to pronounce it correctly.

When the mother was asked about the pronunciation of the name, she said, “The dash don’t be silent.”

How to Piss Me Off

July 28, 2008

Let me catch you coaching my daughter on the not-so-fine points of cheerleading when I come to pick her up from camp. There’s a special place in hell for the person who turns her into one of the girls I hated in high school.

More Stuff I’ve Learned (and things the public needs to know)

July 14, 2008
  1. It is officially cheaper to buy a gallon of milk than it is a gallon of gas. I’ve decided to sell my car and buy a calf. It will be cheaper to fill and will likely be a faster means of commuting to work than sitting in traffic. If I keep it in the garage, the HOA will never know.

  2. Women – Bras are underwear and therefore should NOT be intentionally displayed to the public. (I already knew this one, but after my recent visit to an amusement park, thought it desperately needed repeating). A cami (or camisole) is not an adequate substitute for a top when used as a standalone article of clothing. It is an item to be layered under another top. The only caveat to this rule is if the cami comes with a “built-in” bra (sufficient to meet the individual woman’s needs) or is worn with a strapless (and functional) bra. I saw entirely too many people wearing camis as tops displaying bra straps used as coordinating colors. Again, bras are underwear. In this lesson, I would especially like to call out a woman I saw this weekend who was not only wearing a cami with a bra underneath, she was also quite large (obese) and her bra was *completely* ineffective. So ineffective that it was obvious it was many sizes too small and her nipples were visible above the top edge. Lucky for us, she had that micro-cami to hold everything in check — at least until she moved. Scary.

  3. Men – boxers are underwear. I don’t want to see your underwear. Pants have WAISTBANDS that should cover the waistband of your boxers. The waist of your shorts/pants should NEVER fall below your boxers and especially should not be suspended below your butt as a means of displaying said boxers. If the print is that great, buy it in a shirt.

  4. I learned that I still don’t like amusement park rides that plummet. This includes roller coasters. I blame my father who introduced me to my first roller coaster (and I mean FIRST EVER of any size, speed, or age category) by putting us in the first car of the Rebel Yell at the age of 9.

  5. The calf/shin muscles that are sore after spending 3 days walking around an uphill-only theme park (I kid you not – I think they flip the park periodically throughout the day so as to maintain the constant uphill walk) are the same muscles necessary to operate the bass drum when playing Rock Band. While not a sport, I’m definitely feeling the burn in my legs from playing that game and had to stop after only a few songs last night. Being the trooper and music-enthusiast that I am, I powered through. It only took 4 tries on Enter Sandman to wrap for the evening – note that I only failed out once. Get off My Lawn!!!! continues to rock (the family band)!

  6. Bald eagles are absolutely enormous. I knew they were big (I’ve been told by others), but seeing them up close was an amazing experience. They are absolutely beautiful creatures.