Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How do the elderly afford their pets?

Few people doubt the affection and happiness that comes with having a companion animal. The health advantages of lowered blood pressure when stroking a pet are well documented. 
All kinds of medical interventions are available to give our dear companions a long and healthy life. 
But little is said about the cost of keeping a pet when one is living on a fixed and limited income.
 First is the cost of food for the pet. Our local Meals on Wheels provides daily meals for elderly in need but found that many were eating only half their meal and sharing the other half to their pet because they did not have the means to buy food for the pet. (I understand that Meals on Wheels now will provide donated pet food to those who need it.)
Then there is the yearly registration and vaccinations. I've read that some vaccinations can be given every other year. And we found a Veterinary mobile clinic which gives vaccinations and registration at about half the price of our usual vet clinic. 
Lastly, there is the problem when they get sick. How does one afford veterinary care for a sick pet? We ran up a $500 veterinary bill for our cat yesterday and are not sure if the treatment we gave him is going to cure him or not. We have the money to pay it because JMM is still working but when he retires, $500 will be a good chunk out of our retirement income. 
I am wondering how does one afford companion animals in retirement?

Monday, May 27, 2013

My sweet LuckyDuck

LuckyDuck came into my life most unexpectedly 10 years ago.  I was visiting my Aunt Lillian who lived the tiny East Texas crossroads of Etoile. It was a cold and rainy November day. I was in her meticulously clean kitchen, when I heard a tiny mewing sound coming from outside the back door. I looked out and there were two tiny kittens. One was grey and white and the other was all black. Of course, I brought them in, warmed, dried, and fed them and immediately fell in love with them. I named the grey one RagMuffin and the black one LuckyDuck. They were both lucky because I just  happened to be there and hear them. 
However, it seems thatLuckyDuck's luck may have run out because I am almost sure that he has become diabetic. He hasn't eaten since Thursday and has had very little water and he throws up anything that he tries to eat. He is very lethargic and I know he is dehydrated. I call him my Buddha cat because he is always so mellow and peaceable. Like Ferdinand the Bull, all he wants is to quietly smell the flowers. ..and eat dry cat chow and lots of it. Which inevitably has led to him being obese. I have tried to get him to eat Fancy Feast and the dry weight loss chow but he wouldn't. I should have tried harder I guess. 
We will take him to the vet tomorrow.  If he is diabetic, we will most likely euthanize him. I will miss my sweet LuckyDuck. It is going to be a long day tomorrow. 

Our Resident Raccoon

We have a resident raccoon who takes care of all our food waste. It all started with JMM trying to outwit the raccoons. No matter what he did, the raccoons would get to the seed in the bird feeders. Gradually, JMM realized that he was not going to win.  Then we watched a mama with her 4 babies come to eat some cat chow I had scattered by the back flower bed. They were so cute and obviously the babies had been told to stay right with mama.  We both became so enamored with them that JMM built a feeder platform for them on a low branch in the live oak tree. Every evening, he takes any food scraps we have out for them and they are nearby waiting for him. He taps the tree twice to let them know that dinner is served.  I have a birdbath where I keep clean fresh water for them.  I know they wash there because there is almost always dirt in the water the next morning. It is so much fun to watch them play and climb the trees.  
Just today as I was sitting in the shade of the trees reading, a single rather grizzled raccoon came trundling up beside me on his way to climb the tree to wait for JMM to bring dinner. He looked over at me with his dark eyes and masked face but he was on a mission and wasn't to be deterred. Evidently not only does the early bird get the worm but also the early raccoon gets first dibs on dinner. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Slow Love by Dominique Browning

Do you ever read a book and realize that the author has written what you have been thinking but you had not been aware of thinking it?? That is just what happened to me when reading Slow Love. There are differences in our circumstances but the learning to slow down and love life is exactly the same. I doubt if I would have appreciated the reality of this book when I was 20 years younger. Maybe it is just something you learn as you get older, maybe it is wisdom.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

6 Tablespoons softened butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries

Streusel topping
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Add vanilla. 

In a small bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. 

Mix half the flour mixture into the butter, sugar, & eggs mixture. Add half the milk and mix well. Alternate flour and milk additions. Gently stir in the blueberries. 
Fill greased muffin tins or muffin liners. (Batter is very thick.)

To make streusel, stir all topping ingredients together until well mixes. 
Sprinkle the topping over the muffin batter. 

Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are lightly browned. 

Makes 12 muffins. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

400 PPM

It has been 3,000,000 years since there has been so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The big brains have outwitted themselves and the course is now set.  It has been so beautiful. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher

Wow! What a book! Just when you think you've got a handle on the situation, another layer is pealed back and you get a closer look and things aren't quite what you thought. 

I've been a Dreher reader since Crunchy Cons and BeliefNet. I knew he could write but this book takes it up a notch or three. Man can he ever describe a place and a way of life!  (However, I wonder if my family would be so happy with me if I so clearly put our family out in the open the way Rod has.)

The Little Way had me in tears and it had me nodding my head up and down in agreement and it had me so aggravated with Rod that I wanted to shake him and tell him to get a grip. 

It is partly a cancer saga, partly a coming home saga, and partly a family generational saga.  But that doesn't really describe the depth and reality of it; it is soul searching. Well, worth reading and I'll bet once you pick it up, you will read it cover to cover  within 48 hours. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day Goes Awry

Well, this day has not gone as planned at all and that's not such a bad thing. I had scheduled too many things to begin with and was dreading being on the road going and doing all day. So when things didn't pan out, it was a relief. Such a relief that I went back to bed and took a sound sleep nap. 

The first change of the day was a call from my hair salon informing me that my hairdresser, Diane, was ill and wouldn't be in today.  Fine, I will reschedule.  I look like a shaggy dog but that is one thing I don't have to do today. 

Next I got an email stating that the voter registration training that was scheduled for tonight in the previous email will actually be next Tuesday, sorry for the inconvenience. No problem, I would just as soon not go anywhere from 6-7 tonight because we are having a cold front moving through and it is raining, windy, and cold and who on earth has ever heard of a cold front moving through the Texas Gulf Coast in May??

Last, I was supposed to make Cod Chowder for dinner and I called myself and cancelled that too, just because I want to cook even less than usual.  

So right now I have a cat and a quilt on my lap, the radio is on and Talk of the Nation is talking, I have a good book on the Kindle (The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult) and I have a banana to eat. It's a good day after all. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Letters from the Hive by Stephen Buchmann

Letters from the Hive

I found this charming book very interesting and informative.  For example, I had no idea there were many prehistoric cave paintings depicting ancient honey hunting. But once you look at the figures, it is obvious what they are doing. The book takes you back through the history of honey hunting and bee keeping. It takes you on treks through Maya villages in the Yucatan peninsula, to Nepal, Australia, and India to learn the history and current practices of bee keeping and honey harvesting.  I also didn't know the prominent place of bees and honey in many ancient creation myths. The book has an interesting section on the many types of honey. Did you know that certain types of honey can be toxic, such as honey from azaleas or the yellow Carolina jasmine?Honey figures prominently as a medicinal not just in ancient times but is currently used in the dressings on burn patients.  Two of the most fun chapters were on cooking with honey and making (and imbibing) mead.  Lots of references for further information. 
A pleasant, informative, good read.