Archive | June 2017

Reflection

Sometimes, we can all use a little reminder…

“If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes. Only then would you realize how special you are to me.” ~Unknown

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Oliver’s Tumor Redux

Oliver has had a bit of a rough year.  In January, he was diagnosed with a fibrosarcoma, a cancerous tumor that cats sometimes get at their vaccination site.  There is some disagreement, but there is a body of evidence to suggest that rabies vaccines are the cause, due to over-vaccinating, and the high dose of the vaccine compared to the small size of the cat.  Talk to your vet about this – maybe your cat doesn’t need a rabies vaccine.  I wish I had known…

At any rate, Oliver had a surgery to remove the tumor, and we hoped that it wouldn’t grow back.

It did.

Two weeks ago, Oliver had another surgery, to try to get the tumor that was quickly growing back.  The vet and I had talked it over and decided, given how easily his recovery had been the first time, to go for it.

The tumor, and the surgery, was a lot bigger this time around.  The vet found more growth and spreading, and wanted to be aggressive in trying to get it all.  Clear margins around the tumor are critical to prevent its growing right back.

Oliver at the hospital, the day of his surgery

This time, Oliver had a much rougher time in recovery.  There was a lot more open wound, a lot more swelling and edema, and a lot more bleeding.  Oliver was in a lot of pain for the first 4 days.  My heart broke to hear him cry when his dose of pain medicine was wearing off.  I second-guessed my decision.  He hardly moved at all those first few days.  He didn’t eat much, didn’t drink much and didn’t pee and poop much.  I made his wet cat food into a liquid slurry to get more fluids in him.

He didn’t like his antibiotic pills, his pain medicine made him into a drooling zombie, and he hated when I tried to put shirts on him to prevent his blood from oozing everywhere.  I felt like a big, mean, jerk.

Oliver relaxing, the day after the surgery

 

Oliver two days post-op, swollen, bruised and hurting

 

Oliver 3 days post-op – lots of bruising and oozing…

 

Fortunately on the 5th day after his surgery, he was feeling a bit better.  He is getting back to his old self now.  Two weeks out, he can jump up and get around like normal.  He isn’t in pain.  He got his stitches out yesterday and is healing nicely.

 

Oliver 12 days post-op – getting a drink!

 

Oliver two weeks post-op – much better!

 

Maybe if I hide, she won’t see me. At the vet to get his stitches out.

As for his cancer?  It is unlikely that this will be the last of the tumor – it will probably come back.  Getting old sucks.  When the tumor does come back, there isn’t a whole lot I can do.  Enjoy the time I get with him and love him as much as I always have.

 

West 2016: Yellowstone Geysers

Day 8, 9 & 10, August 12, 13 & 14, 2016

Yellowstone has at least 1,283 geysers that have erupted in the park and approximately 465 of them are active in any given year. Geysers are characterized by the intermittent eruptions of super-heated water that ejects from them, with some of the water turning into steam as it hits the cooler air. They only occur where there is magma close to the surface of the earth, which is required to heat the water to the necessary temperature.

There are two types of geysers, a fountain geyser and a cone geyser. The fountain type is a geyser that erupts from a pool of water – Grand Geyser, the tallest predictable geyser on earth is a fountain geyser. A cone geyser erupts from cones or mounds of siliceous sinter – Old Faithful is a cone geyser.

Sponge Geyser – no excitement here.

 

Some of the geysers we saw were just bubbling quietly, not erupting.  Not nearly as exciting as an erupting geyser, but mesmerizing in their own right…

Aurum Geyser Bubbling

 

The Lion Geyser Group – with a mini-eruption…

 

Young Hopeful Geyser – doesn’t it look hopeful!?

 

Beehive Geyser – when erupting it sprays 200 feet in the air!

 

We also saw White Dome Geyser erupting. We were in the car driving toward it, and by the time we got there it was done. It erupts every 15 minutes to 3 hours, most commonly every 20 – 30 minutes, but we didn’t stick around to see the next one. There is only so much time in a day at such a big park!

White Dome Geyser, erupting!

 

White Dome Geyser, not erupting

We did see Old Faithful erupt twice while we were in Yellowstone. Old Faithful is located in the Upper Geyser Basin of the park and is one of the most predictable geysers there. It erupts approximately once every 65 and 91 minutes – the interval between eruptions depends on the length of the last eruption. It shoots high into the air, between 106 and 185 feet, and each eruption lasts between 90 seconds and five minutes.  What a sight to see!

Old Faithful Geyser

Interestingly, Old Faithful was once used as a laundry. In 1882, General Philip Sheridan’s men were stationed in Yellowstone and they used to throw their dirty clothes into the geyser, to be ejected clean with the next eruption (I am not sure what happened if you didn’t catch them before they fell to the ground though). Apparently linen and cotton clothes came out just fine, but wool clothing got ripped to shreds. Don’t try this when you go folks…  I have a feeling this type of behavior is frowned upon…

Next up – Mud Pots!

 

Spring 2017 Book Blog

I’ve been listening up a storm – lots of time as I walk with an audio-book on my iPod.  Here’s a couple of books that have made their way into my brain.

The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff – 5 stars

This is a novel that is based on the true story of Lili Elbe, a woman who began life as a man.  Then known as Einar Wegener, he grew up and married, having a successful career as an artist, before deciding to undergo one of the first sexual reassignment surgeries in the world.  The novel is largely told from the perspective of his wife, Gerda Gottlieb, who supported Lili’s transition to a woman.  The novel explores the emotions of both women, as well as the social stigmas and struggles of the era, although I do believe it glossed over that a bit.  Although the novel masterfully explored the story, there are many gaps in the story, due to the fact that Elbe’s medical records were destroyed by bombing during World War II.   The Danish Girl was made into a movie in 2016 – I want to check it out!

At the Water’s Edge, by Sara Gruen – 3 stars

Part ghost story, part search for the Loch Ness Monster, At the Water’s Edge is an interesting novel about a couple whose marriage is tested when Madeleine and her husband Ellis have a falling out with Ellis’ rich father.  In order to restore the family honor, the two, with a friend, embark on a trip across the Atlantic in a Navy warship in order to find hard evidence of the Loch Ness Monster…  Are you still with me!?  At any rate, Ellis is a drinker, and well, he does what drinkers do – he destroys the relationship with his wife.  I wanted to like this book more since it is by the author of Water for Elephants, but it just fell a bit flat for me.  There is a lot of suspension of disbelief required, and it just doesn’t get there for me.

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee – 4 stars

I thought a long time about whether or not I wanted to read this book.  Like so many, I grew up with the magic of Atticus Finch and his children, Scout and Jem.  I grew up knowing that there were people in the South who did the right thing, when racism was rampant and segregation the law.  I heard the rumors about the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, where Atticus is revealed to be racist as well.  Could it be true?  Dare I find out?  Well, the answer is not so simple.  It is wrapped up in time, and place, and the law, the constitution and whatever else goes into these things.  People today would say that he was.  But I learned it is also a story of coming of age, and learning that our parents are not so perfect as we want them to be.  They have opinions that are flavored by the world they grew up in, right or wrong, and flaws and shortcomings, just like everyone else.  And this is as much a story about learning to break away and truly see our parents as it is about race.

2014 Argyle Pinot Noir

I was craving a Pinot Noir.  It has been raining, and somehow a white wine didn’t seem fitting.

According to the winemaker’s notes:

Argyle Pinot Noir is an honest representation of the Willamette Valley. Fermented entirely in small lots, and blended for purity, it toes the line between red and dark cherry, while offering spicy forest floor and hints of black tea. The palate is lively and graceful, building density and focus as the silky tannins build into the long, energetic finish.

All I know is that this is a great wine, I’m tired, and it hit the spot.  Happy Father’s Day everybody!

 

West 2016: Yellowstone Hot Springs

Day 8, 9 & 10, August 12, 13 & 14, 2016

Mom and I spent three days in Yellowstone National Park, touring around and seeing geothermal features, wildlife, architecture, lakes, rivers and waterfalls.  Rather than trying to do them chronologically, I am going to just do posts for each area of interest within the park, plus some posts for specifics.  Who knows where this will lead! Hang on for the ride!

Geothermal feature is the name that encompasses all of the hot water ‘stuff’ in the park.  Within that large grouping, there are:

  • Geysers – They are the most famous features, because they erupt!  Some of them regularly, some rarely.  Water in a geyser reaches temperatures of over 400 degrees F!
  • Hot Springs – These are hot water pools where the water circulates to the surface, steams and cools down, and then sinks back down to the bottom to be replaced by new hot water.  This convection process never allows the water to get quite hot enough to erupt.
  • Fumaroles – These are the hottest features.  The water is so hot it flashes into steam before it has a chance to pool.  They make hissing noises from the steam and gases.
  • Mud Pots – These are hot springs that have a limited water supply and are very acidic.  The organisms that live in them create sulfuric acid which breaks down the rock into clay, giving the mud look.  These smell like sulfur.
  • Travertine Terraces – These are found at Mammoth Hot Springs.  Thermal waters travel through limestone, with lots of carbonate. Carbon dioxide is released at the surface and calcium carbonate creates travertine, which gives the terraces the chalky white rock look.  They are unstable and change frequently.

Hot springs are the most common features in the park and we found lots of them!  As we made our way around, many areas have boardwalks where you can get close to the springs in a safe environment.  People were respectful and careful, and fortunately in control of their children – I can only imagine a toddler running and tripping here!

There were lots of different colors – oranges and blues and more subdued grays – of course I loved the more colorful ones best!

 

A gorgeous blue spring – Blue Star Spring!

 

The water is so clear in some of them!

 

Several of the springs are located in close proximity to one another.  We found the “Land of Lost Hats” right near the Old Faithful Geyser.  Don’t try to go get it if it flies off your head!

The orange is caused by the micro-organisms that live in the hot springs

 

I call this the Land of Lost Hats. It is windy here, and if you lose your hat, you aren’t going to want to go in after it…

 

Me with one of the many hot springs near Old Faithful

 

Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the most famous springs in the park – it combines blues with bright oranges.  It is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world!  The blue is caused by the reflection off of particles in the water.  The oranges are caused by microbial mats.  Interestingly, in winter the microbial mats are more dark green, as the ratio of chlorophyll to carotenoids changes with the seasons.

Grand Prismatic Spring

 

An unfortunate dragonfly in Grand Prismatic Spring

 

Me with Grand Prismatic Spring – one of Yellowstone’s most famous springs

Grand Prismatic Spring is a popular area – expect waits for parking in the summer.  You also get views of the river and several other springs, making it worthwhile to stop and wander around.

A hot spring near the river

 

Hot spring water flows into the river

 

I loved the gorgeous bright blues!

 

Firehole Spring is located off of Firehole Drive, a 3 mile detour from the main road that has a lake and several geysers and springs.  It also has the oranges and blues in abundance.

Me with Firehole Spring

You could probably spend years looking at all the springs and never see them all.  Not to mention you might not be able to identify them later when you look at your photos!  I was fascinated though – comparing all the shapes and colors, and watching the steam rise up from them.  What a sight!

 

Girls Soothe the Soul…

Last weekend I headed down to Seattle with an amazing group of women, to meet up with even more amazing women (about 12 in all), for a night of fun girl bonding at my friend’s condo in downtown Seattle, complete with a spectacular rooftop garden.

The Seattle Skyline and the Big Wheel from the roof

We had dinner at Black Bottle, which was delicious, and I had a wonderful artisan cocktail called a Rootstock – and I have no idea what is in it because Black Bottle doesn’t have a current menu posted on their website.  Oh well, just keep it in mind if you find yourself at Black Bottle.  YUM!  The food was excellent too – small bites to share. I had deep fried olives, ahi tuna, hanger steak, fire blasted broccoli, salads, calamari, and whatever else got passed around.  All the dishes were awesome!

My Rootstock cocktail – delicious!

After dinner we headed back to the rooftop garden to drink sparkling wine, and yes, there *MAY* have been a bottle of Fireball passed around…  We laughed and there was silly lip-syncing going on – Rent! anyone?  I swear that wasn’t me – I don’t even know the soundtrack to Rent.  Or Moana…  And anyone who knows me knows that Karaoke is not my thing…

The weather was beautiful, although a little cool, but you can’t beat a night like that in Seattle in early June.

Space Needle Selfie

 

Me with the Space Needle

 

The Space Needle in the lowering light

Sadly, my girlfriend is moving away next month, but hopefully we can still keep up a girl’s night tradition.  Girls really are good for the soul…

 

The Space Needle after dark