My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Odds & Ends

I'm taking a one-post hiatus from my vacation serial-blogging project to catch up on a little news, an anecdote or two, and a few non-vacation (well, not entirely!) photos I thought you might enjoy. I promise that I'll resume vacation blogging with the very next post.

Some of you have been aware over the past several months (or several thousand dollars, whichever came first) of our dog Josie's relentless, recurring urinary tract infections. We'd no sooner get one cleared up than a new pestilence would set up shop in her bladder. She had xrays, blood tests, an ultrasound and a constant series of urinalyses, cultures and histopathology followed by rounds of various antibiotics, until it became obvious that a polyp in her bladder that showed up on her ultrasound was probably the culprit and had to be removed. So three days after we returned from our vacation, Josie had bladder surgery. She did great, came home the next day, and only needed a couple of pain pills. We got her pathology report on Tuesday, and her bladder polyp/mass was a benign fibroid. We were all fairly certain it wasn't going to be malignant, but it was still wonderful to get the official good news. Josie's still on penicillin for another week to clear up the most recent, pre-op infection, then she has to have another urinalysis, then another one a month later, and hopefully that will be the end of it. The poor girl has been through a lot in the past year - she tested positive for heartworms last June and we all went through a 6-month ordeal getting that cleared up, and during that time the UTI problems became evident. She's been very brave and patient through it all, and we hope she can enjoy smooth sailing now for the rest of a long, happy, healthy life. (And we hope our veterinarian's 3-year old son will enjoy his college years at Harvard, paid for by Josie and us. LOL. Sort of.)

Josie and BW share a father-daughter bonding moment
(between vet visits!)

A few of you know enough about our TV-viewing attitude and habits to find this amusing: we were tapped last week by Nielsen to keep TV diaries for a week. This is comical because we almost never watch TV, especially during the summer, and when we do we only watch PBS, which is the only thing we can still receive through the giant, outmoded C-Band satellite dish that came with our house. We don't receive any local stations, can't get cable up here, and don't subscribe to a dish network. We used to subscribe to some C-Band channels (like Comedy Central, the only one I still miss sometimes), but when everything went digital and we didn't want to fork out a bunch of bucks to upgrade our equipment, that was that. Except for this one remaining analog PBS station which seems to be a national feed of some sort that we think comes out of NYC... but we're not sure. Anyway, imagine us being sent Nielsen TV diaries! LOL!

I think we were selected because we returned the Nielsen survey postcards we received a few weeks ago along with $2 to thank us for participating. We told them on these postcards that we rarely watch TV and the only channel we do watch is PBS, and I added a little note thanking them for the $2. Maybe that was it - maybe the thank you note impressed them. Or maybe we're one of the few households who bothered to return our postcards. I can picture some poor wage-slave in the Nielsen mail room opening ours and yelling to a co-worker, "Hey, Vern! Got a live one here! Toss me a couple of those TV diaries, would ya?") :-)

However it happened, this time we got the diaries, several sets of rather redundant instructions, and a whole $5! So I've been dutifully keeping our diary (there's one for each TV set in the house, but our other set is ancient and can only be used to watch VHS and DVDs), and this is pretty much what the Nielsen people will get to read when I return them tomorrow...

Thursday - TV off
Friday - TV off, except for 20 minutes of Charlie Rose and 15 minutes of Tavis Smiley before falling asleep (no offense, Tavis!)
Saturday - TV off
Sunday - TV off, except for 45 minutes of Nature
Monday - TV off, except for 30 minutes of Antiques Road Show
Tuesday - TV off (we like Nova and Frontline, but it's reruns now)
Wednesday - TV off

So when they tabulate our diaries and it skews the national numbers so that you see headlines bleating, "America's TV Viewing Suffers Dramatic Decline, Industry Analysts and Marketing Executives Express Alarm!" you'll know I damn well earned my $5. ;-)

Why watch the mindless dreck on television
when you can watch videos like this?
(That's BW with his arms raised.
I have no idea who that Kate bimbo is). ;-)


In other interesting what-we-got-in-the-mail-recently news:

On our way home with our last load of hay on Saturday we stopped at the post office and BW ran in to get our mail. He emerged with a befuddled look and as he got in the truck he said, "You got two Christmas cards!" Huh? Then he clarified... two Christmas cards I'd sent out (to Seattle and Arizona) had been returned with "unable to forward, return to sender" stickers, dated July 11, 2010, slapped on the envelopes.

Oh, and let me clarify. These Christmas cards had only local postmarks - dated Dec 16, 2005!

You don't think I'm just going to let that slide, do you?

I took them to the post office on my way to town yesterday and politely requested an explanation (I was polite because it wasn't our post office that had postmarked them almost 5 years ago, and wasn't our post office that had sent them back to us on Saturday with zero explanation). Our prankster postmaster Scott wasn't working yesterday, so it was his wife Pat who was tending the post office (yes, it's a small town so it's a family-run thing!). Her eyes bugged out when she saw the year on the postmark, and she had no explanation other than they must have been stuck in a drawer somewhere all these years. She photocopied the envelopes to give to Scott so he can see what he can find out. As she handed back the envelopes, I asked her, "Can I have a refund on my postage, since I paid for services that ended up not being rendered?" I was being facetious, but she said, "Sure, I can do that!" And darned if she didn't hand me seventy-four cents for the two wasted 37-cent stamps (kind of makes you nostalgic to see that postage rate, huh?)

If Scott provides a blogworthy explanation, I'll share it. But meanwhile, between the Nielsen people and the USPS, I'm a whole $7.74 richer! If this keeps up, I'll have Josie's vet bill paid by 2015! (Just in time to get some of my 2010 Christmas cards back in the mail!)


Okay, that was a lot of words to read. How about more photos?

We saw, for only the second time in the 18 years we've lived here, a male Lazuli Bunting out our kitchen window earlier this week. Unfortunately, he was only there about 30 seconds and my camera wasn't handy so, no photo. But here's a great photo I found on this website called (it's in Hebrew so I haven't a clue what it says but they have nice photos!)...

There are also some really awesome pics of Lazuli Buntings here.

And I thought you'd like to see the crib of Martha Stewbird, one of our resident Barn Swallows...

Note how she has added a dramatic touch to her decor with a turkey feather! It's harder to see, but if you click on it to view a larger image, you may notice that she's also installed area carpeting and bedding of fine, imported (from the barn floor) Mocha mane and tail hairs. There's also a fly on the side of the nest, but I don't think that was one of Martha's decorating touches. The guano probably is, though! ;-)

And since they received the most comments and adoration on my last post, here's a "Kissy-Cow & Friend" encore presentation...

Kissy's friend, although the first to greet me,
didn't go for public displays of affection.

Kissy-Cow joins us and sizes me up

Kissy-Cow earning her new name

And finally, because I missed Wildflower Wednesday yesterday, here's an attempt I made this spring at an artsy-fartsy shot of a wee Yellow Violet (for you, Susan - a Viola adunca) ;-) viewed through a hole in an Arrowleaf Balsamroot's giant leaf...

Nobody sees a flower, really - it's so small -
we haven't time, and to see takes time...
~Georgia O'Keefe

Peekaboo, shy little violet!

See you next time when we'll be visiting Bah Hahbah! :-)


  1. I'm so happy to hear that Josie is all better now. What a fiasco for all of you! How horrible that she had to go through heartworm, too. Poor girl is quite the trooper!

    That's hilarious about the Nielsen diary. We watch a bit more TV, but I'd be fine without one. Mike, on the other hand, loves his sports (I say BAH to that!). It's one of the few things we don't have in common, but I guess he can't be perfect like me, right. :D

    As far as the cards being returned to you, a ginormous WTF for that! lol At least you got your money back and yes, perhaps this is the beginning of some good financial luck. Pretty soon you might even be able to send Josie to Harvard!

    Great pictures, as always, and I'm amazed at how many beautiful birds & flowers you find around your area. You're so lucky! I especially love the last shot- very creative! On a side note, have you ever thought about getting a Flickr account? I have a ton of fun with mine. :)

  2. Love that you're taking a vacation from your vacation (haha). This is a long post, so I'm going to work from the bottom up:

    The artsy photo of the little orchid is v. cool; I wonder who munched out that perfect little window for you in the Balsamroot leaf.

    Kissy Cow is adorable! I'm with you in hoping that they are loved companions rather than future dinner items :(

    Martha Stewbird does have a special flair for home decor; I love what she's done with the place! She's probably expecting a visit from that dapper Lazuli Bunting and wants to make a good impression!

    As for the Chirstmas Cards from Christmas Past...maybe something for the twilight zone, but maybe they fell behind something that was only recently moved/swept behind.

    And with the postal refund and all the money from the Nielsen people, you sound like you're rolling in it...that's too funny about the Neilsen people...I've always wondered where those polls came from. We don't have a TV, but if we did, I'm sure that PBS would be the only station we could stomach too.

    Yaaaaaay!! For Josie. That is fantastic! You'll have to let us know how you're celebrating the good news. I hear you on the vet bills...I can't say how many times I wished that I had a vet in the family. Thanks for all the's always fun to get a glimpse of your wonderful Wyoming life.

  3. Molly - Josie is a tough little cookie indeed. The staff at the vet's office all adore her, but we've all had enough of that being her home away from home!

    I LOL'ed at your second paragraph about Mike's "imperfection!" I have to confess that I can relate somewhat. We were diehard NFL football fans till everything went digital and we had to make the choice between pulling the plug or paying to keep up with technology. We went through a little withdrawal, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared (especially since I'd been a fan since third grade!) Now and then on a good Autumn football watching day, or when I hear of an especially exciting game, I'll still get a little twinge, but most of the time I don't even think about it. And I don't miss the commercials at ALL!

    I also LOL'ed about sending Josie to Harvard! I can just imagine her majoring in belly rubs with a minor in bowl-licking. :-)

    We do have a lot of lovely birds and incredible wildflowers here. Thank you for your kind words about my artsy-fartsy shot! :-) Funny you should mention Flickr, because I just set up an account last weekend and uploaded my max MBs in one day with some of my vacation photos! Then I couldn't figure out how to post them to my blog except as an automatically published, one-photo post! THAT won't do. I didn't have time to figure it all out so I returned to Photo Bucket. I did like how fast the photos uploaded to Flickr, but was frustrated that posting them wasn't easy to figure out. If you want to email me some pointers, please do! (Though it will be another 3 weeks before I can upload any more photos there!)

    Rose - A vacation from my vacation indeed! :-) Mehitable days keep happening and require blogging about, so vacation needs to step aside from time and share some space with current events! :-)

    I wondered who munched out that little arrowleaf window myself!

    I love your theory about Martha Stewbird and the dashing Mr. Bunting! (I wonder if MR. Stewbird knows there's hanky-panky going on in the hayloft?) ;-)

    As for your theory about the cards from Christmas Past, if you're correct I'd say the USPS needs to do spring cleaning more often! It makes me wonder what else I've mailed that never got to its recipient. Or what got mailed to me that I never got! AHA! That must be what's happened to my Publisher's Clearing House check that Ed McMahon kept promising!

    I think you're quite right about what your TV would be tuned to if you had one! I think you'd enjoy some of the PBS programming. In the cold weather months, there are four or five shows a week we usually enjoy watching. But I honestly don't know how anyone can watch any television during this time of year... don't they want to be outside, especially in cool of the evening? Don't they have decks to stain then? :-)

    A vet in the family - brilliant idea! I wonder how we could get one of those?? :-) I'm not sure how we'll celebrate, but we have talked about taking the girls and a picnic lunch and spending a day hiking in the high country during BW's vacation the last week of August! Or we could take Josie out to Harvard and let her sniff around and see if she wants to go there with all my new free money! (Especially now that I know where Ed McMahon's check is hiding!) ;-)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. (Sorry...repasted the comment)

    True enough...never thought of all the other stuff that may have gone missing in the post.

    A day hike in the high country sounds fab.

    And I know what you mean about "not missing the commercials" I think when you have a TV around you just get used to all brash racket and tackiness of the horrible commercials and phony-looking people (not to mention network TV news readers (double yuck!)'s like you get de-sensitized to it.

    It's been years since we've had a telly, but I remember the first time I was exposed to TV after being away from it for several struck me as such a brash invasion of my personal space--really obnoxious (I'm talking about commercial TV I don't think PBS would have made the same impact)

    Now, if it ever comes up, I tell people that getting rid of the TV is something I couldn't recommend more; it has been a huge quality of life improvement for us. As you say, there may be some withdrawl at first, but once you experience the peace, there's no going back. I wonder if you have a similar experience?

    Anyway, have a great weekend, and don't spend all that moolah in one place! (just messin')

  6. I just didn't get enough of your fun self today Laloofa - so I came to your blog for more! Loved the UPS comic! That just seems like the kind of thing a blogger has in a file somewhere waiting for the perfect place to insert it. The Nielsen Diary Story was a perfect setting for it! Why would they do Nielsen Diaries in the summer anyway - nothing good is on!!!

    You would have had a perfectly good story to tell with Christmas cards being returned 7 months late, but 5 years and 7 months late is just absurd. Here's hoping for a fun Scott story to follow up!

  7. Rose - Honey, we are peas in a pod! I couldn't agree more. If I'm in a motel, just before bed I'll flip through the vast number of cable channels and always conclude (unless I stumble on The Daily Show or Colbert Report!) that there are a bazillion channels and not a thing worth watching.
    And I seriously can't understand people who leave their TV on 24/7, whether they're paying attention or not, at home or not. Don't they know those things suck a lot of electricity? Can they not bear to be alone with their thoughts? I like to play music sometimes while I'm cleaning, but more often I enjoy silence. As BW and I like to say, "There's nothing wrong with quiet!" :-)

    And yeah, commercials are all of that. Loud, brash, jarring... and manipulative, controlling reinforcements of behaviors and perspectives I think we'd do well as a society to examine and change. But I know there are very few people standing on this particular soapbox. So thank goodness, I guess, for Tivo! (And PBS!)

    When I was a kid, my friends all watched Dark Shadows and Lost in Space after school. My mother wouldn't let me. Unless it was awful outside, I had to go out to play (and if it was awful out, I was encouraged to read a book). Trouble was, all my friends were inside watching those shows, and when they'd finally come out to join me it was always to reenact what they'd just watched! Being clueless, I had to play the corpse (Dark Shadows) or some hapless alien dispatched early in the reenactment (Lost in Space). Perhaps this early experience is partly responsible for my attitude toward most TV. But to this day, I do prefer to go outside and play or read a book! :-)

    I suppose TV is like anything else that hooks you and gets you habituated... if you think about giving it up at all, you think it would be too painful/inconvenient/hard to live without. But once you do, you find other activities (or foods or whatever) to take its place that are just as (or likely more) satisfying, experience benefits you never realized, and as you say - you never look back. The trick is recognizing what those things are we're better off without and actually taking that step. Habit and de-sensitization are such obstacles to that! We can be shackled by them so easily.

    As for spending my moolah, I plan to go to a neighbor's today to watch QVC and use my money to order crap I don't need. (Ha, you're not the only one who can mess, ya know!) ;-)

  8. Jo ~ Oh, you're too sweet! You got an awful lot of Laloofah during our fun phone call yesterday, no one could blame you if you'd had quite enough! :-) But I'm glad you came by the ol' blog for another hit. LOL

    You're on to me! I have indeed had that UPS cartoon in my stash for quite a while, though whether to use on my blog or for something else appropriate I wasn't sure. I think that cartoon came out around the time UPS men were tagged as "sexiest guys" by some magazine or something. I should remember the specifics better, lord knows BW reminded me of it enough at the time! LOL!

    I sure thought those returned cards were absurd too! I haven't seen Scott yet, and I'm betting he doesn't have a good explanation, though he may come up with an obnoxious yet amusing one, and if he does you bet I'll share it! :-)

  9. Good to know we're kindred spirits on the TV thing.

    When we were couldn't keep us in of you we would have made great neighbors...all the other kids would come out from watching TV and have to catch up on what we were up too! :)

  10. Rose - It would have been great fun to have been your neighbor! Your 'hood sounded like fun! :-)

  11. OK-I'm getting called out on your blog for flower namus infringement. Got it.
    I'm waaaayyyyy behind on reading your posts. This one is fun. I'm so glad that Josie has provided your vet's son w/education bucks...yikes. What a sweet shot of her and BW. I hope too that she is done with medical crapy-ness.
    Was that one of my 2005 Christmas cards? Just checking. I doubt it, you usually send me nice newsy check-ins at holiday time.
    Please tell the Nielson people to contact me. I too would be an ideal diarist for them. It has been at least 3 full months since I watched any TV at all. The only station I get with my rabbit ears and essentially useless "digital box" is CBS. I am thankful however because CBS includes Amazing Race, Survivor(OK-a pathetic indulgence) NFL football and the NCAA March madness basketball tourney. I am such a girlie-girl!!
    Please do tell Martha that a splash of color can be just the thing that turns super into superb.
    Maybe she can snag one of those blue bunting feathers....On to the next chapters....

  12. I'm glad Josie is feeling better! Ellie had chronic UTIs for a while, and we put her on prescription food and that seemed to clear it up. I hope Josie is home free from here on out!

    I've been watching more tv lately, but it's always pbs. I love antiques roadshow, and masterpiece mystery (after nature) is my new fav. Rod likes all the home improvement shows (he wants to be Norm Abram when he grows up). Your tv log is admirable!

  13. Sue - "Flower namus infringement" - ROTFL!

    You're (were!) waaaayyyyy behind? Ha, I've got you beat on waybehindedness! ("Wordus inventigorum"). ;-)

    Josie's not quite done yet. She had a follow-up U/A yesterday and the vet said while she couldn't see any bacteria and all else looked good (you know, for urine!), there were more inflammatory cells than she expected. She thinks it's a normal post-op inflammation (apparently bladders take a long time to heal because they're constantly working - rather like a UPS man I know!), but doesn't want any bacteria to get a toe-hold in the meantime. So... another 2 weeks on penicillin. Josie now hates me, because when I gave her her afternoon dose yesterday, I told her it was her LAST ONE! Then the vet called... *sigh*

    Nope, wasn't one of your Christmas cards (a fact I'm sure you sleuthed out easily enough, given that you didn't live in either Seattle nor Arizona in 2005 - as far as I know!) ;-) I'm hit or miss with Christmas cards - when I do them, I try to make them newsy, and then there are the years I skip them altogether!

    I'm glad you're another TV minimalist! (But "Survivor?" Blech, how I detest that show!) We watched "Amazing Race" a couple of times several years ago and found it pretty entertaining - but then, I'm a globetrotter wannabe! (I'd have sucked at that race, I would have wanted to linger and explore - not gallop off to the next thing!) I never did get into watching basketball, despite getting to go to a Pacers playoff game in 1987 with Billy Knight (a then recently retired player) in his vain attempt to turn me into a fan. An interesting experience too long to tell here, but suffice to say it didn't convert me - though I admit I'd always enjoyed our high school bb games!

    Your advice to Martha cracked me up, but I'll try to pass it along with a straight face. ;-)

    Mary - Thanks for your Josie well-wishes! I sure hope this last round of antibiotics will do the trick. We'll find out on Aug 10. I don't know what the next step is if she's still showing signs of inflammation... send little Charlie to Oxford or Cambridge instead, I guess! (GULP)

    I'm not surprised you're a fellow fan of "Pibs!" I usually find "This Old House" interesting when I think to watch it. Given that you and Rod are actually fixing up That Old House of yours, I'm sure it's an especially entertaining and instructive show for you. (And Rod should be well on his way to channeling Norm Abram!) :-) We have yet to watch Masterpiece Mystery. Maybe when the days are short and the evenings cold, I'll tune in and watch. Are you guys still watching "The Civil War?"

    I'm heartened that we're not alone in our zero-minimal television-watching, and will try to get my new best friends at Nielsen to send you all TV diaries of your own! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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