Saturday, June 30, 2012
"Many things make a photographer, but in his case, it was more about need than want. He didn't really see or process things unless he could photograph them. He saw the world through that lens. For most people, something doesn't exist unless they see, hear, smell, or taste it. For him it was almost the opposite - nothing was real unless he captured it on his camera." ~Harlan Coben, Stay Close
My DSLR came back from its rebuild (after an unfortunate encounter with a bottle of water) this past week, and I have definitely been enjoying the return of my friend:
My DSLR came back from its rebuild (after an unfortunate encounter with a bottle of water) this past week, and I have definitely been enjoying the return of my friend:
My mom in the camera store, as I tested it out to make sure it worked.
Brin on his couch.
Viktor, who has at least learned to sit on command.
Illegal dump site near my house
Sava, strange semi-feral cat
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I’ve been trying to find homes for the kittens that were dumped on our land back in April, but have had very little luck. We’ve adopted out just ONE of the five, so we still have Mama Cat and four babies. It’s much easier to adopt out little kittens than full grown cats, and unfortunately our remaining four – at roughly four months of age – are getting pretty grown up looking. They’re probably going to be remaining with us.
There’s a local facebook group for buying/selling/giving away/getting pets. I joined it simply so that I could have another place to post pictures of my kittens. I’m certainly not the only person on there hawking free fuzzy felines – and quite a few people prefaced their posts with comments like “my mama cat done had another litter.” Dude. Spay your mama cat. Like yesterday.
There are also TONS of people who use this group to sell their “purebreds” – I put that in quotes, because a good half of those listed don’t come with papers, and many that do are CKC registered. Not that papers – especially CKC papers – are worth all that much, as plenty of exposés have shown that many "registries" will register ANYTHING as long as you've got the cash. What’s the point of a “purebred” dog anyway? OK, if you’re planning on showing it, I can understand. If you’re looking for a dog bred for particular traits (ie, border collie) because you require a dog that has those traits (ie, you need a dog to herd your sheep), I can understand. If it’s just going to live in your backyard or sleep on your bed, is your “purebred” black lab really going to be a better dog than the average black lab mix down at your local pound?
I shared the following graphic on the group after reading about one too many litters of kittens and purebreds lacking papers:
And this was the only response I got:
That is so wrong in so many different ways, I don’t even know where to begin.
Meanwhile, there was another fellow who was a member of this facebook group, who would post comments periodically to the effect that if people would get their pets spayed and neutered, there wouldn’t be all these pets being advertised, and our local animal control wouldn’t be over run.
Group members began discussing how they should complain to the group admin and see about getting him banned. Yeah.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Back in April, my mother contacted a local well driller (who happens to live fairly close to our land) regarding drilling her a shallow well. He said yeah, sure, he’d do it. And we waited, and waited, and waited. By May, my mom was calling him daily, leaving messages on his machine and with his wife, and we would stop by his house and his shop on our way to or from our land. He was constantly full of excuses for why he hadn’t gotten out there yet. Finally, by late May, we had a well drilled. But just that – a pipe in the ground with no pump, tank, or plumbing connecting it to the house. But not to worry – he was going to do that, too! In fact, he had the pump and the tank, he just… had a bunch of excuses as to why he couldn’t get to it right away. Well, our 1906 bungalow didn’t have plumbing in May, so it wasn’t really urgent. However, by late June, the plumbing was almost completely finished (the bathroom sink has to be moved because it was installed in the wrong place, but other than that, kitchen and bathroom plumbing are installed and ready for water).
We still have no pump or tank, so yesterday we stopped by the fellow’s shop to see what was up. Apparently back in May the well had collapsed. He needed a special tool to fix it, but he didn’t have that tool. He had called a person he knew who had one, but they’d never gotten back to him. But hey, if we wanted a much more expensive deep well, he had the tools to do that. Oh, and his mama cat had kittens, and he was going to shoot them.
What. The. Fuck.
Apparently, someone had dumped some stray cats out by his house. We’re certainly no stranger to that phenomenon, but at least when that happens to us, we take responsibility for the critters to make sure they don’t reproduce. Well, he figured they weren’t his cats, so it wasn’t his problem. But now there are too many of them, so he’s going to have to shoot them.
Dammit if we didn’t say we’d take them. I mean, you can’t shoot kittens. Of course, they’re feral, so they’ll have to be trapped (and they’ll probably be totally unadoptable), and we don’t have them yet. We’ll have to see if he traps them like he said he would, or if he just shoots them.
I tried to negotiate for a bargain on the well in exchange for relieving him of his cat problem. No dice. Why would he do that when he could shoot them for free?
What an ass.
In addition, I’ve made an informative facebook “cover” (for those of you with the timeline feature), which contains information on why spaying and neutering is important. The small-sized version is below. The full-sized version (which is the correct dimensions for a facbook cover) can be downloaded by clicking here. Please feel free to use this as your facebook cover and help EDUCATE people on the need to spay and neuter.
Myth: A female dog/cat should have one litter of puppies/kittens before being spayed in order to prevent health problems.
Fact: There is NO medical evidence to support this. In fact, females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier than those that are spayed later in life. Spaying a female dog or cat at a young age can help to reduce the risks of pyometra (a potentially fatal infection of the uterus) and breast cancer (yes, cats and dogs can get breast cancer).
Myth: Children should experience the miracle of birth.
Fact: OMFG. I heard people tell me this as they brought in litters of kittens back when I worked at the pound. They couldn’t find homes for their little miracles of birth, so they brought them to us… but apparently they weren’t interested in showing their children the miracle of death. (At the time I worked at this particular pound, it was a high-kill shelter run by someone who did not like cats; I’d say roughly 95% of cats/kittens that were brought in were euthanized within a week.) If you want to teach your children about the miracle of birth, you should also teach them about the miracle of responsibility – or be prepared to teach them the hard lessons of what happens if you drop them at the local pound.
Myth: If I spay/neuter my pet, it will become fat and lazy.
Fact: Pets get fat and lazy for the same reason people do: too much food and not enough exercise. If you feed your pet the correct amount of food and give it plenty of exercise, it will stay lean and full of energy. Keep in mind, however, that the metabolisms of all animals slow with age, so your ten year old dog will not be as active as your six month old puppy, whether it’s been fixed or not.
Myth: It’s not natural.
Fact: Domesticated dogs and cats aren’t “natural” either. Neither are laser eye surgery, heart transplants, blood transfusions, plastic surgery, hair dye… Additionally, dogs and cats are incapable of having a sexual identity. Just because you’d feel like less of a man/woman if you were “fixed” does not mean your dog/cat will. Dogs and cats do not suffer any sort of emotional reaction to being spayed/neutered.
Myth: My pet lives inside, so I don’t need to get it fixed.
Fact: Male dogs that are fixed before puberty won’t lift their leg and pee on your furniture. Male cats that are fixed before puberty won’t get in the habit of spraying (on your furniture!) to mark their territory. It is easier to break pets of these habits if they have been neutered. Female dogs that are not fixed have a “period” just like human females, which can be very messy; spayed female dogs do not menstruate. Female cats in heat can be incredibly annoying. They meow incessantly while in heat, and will often pee/poop outside of the litter box. Spayed female cats do not have this problem. It is easier on both the animal and its owner to have your pets fixed! And besides… your animal only has to escape once in order to mate.
Myth: I’ll find good homes for the puppies/kittens my pet has.
Fact: Really? Have you ever tried finding homes for pets – much less *good* homes? It is very, very difficult to find people who are both willing to take in a puppy or kitten and who are willing to provide it with a good home. We’ve been trying since April (when the Mama and her five kittens were dumped at our land) to find homes for five adorable, friendly, and playful kittens… and so far we’ve found a home for ONE.
Myth: I have a boy dog/cat, so I don’t need to get him fixed.
Fact: Aside from the hormonal problems of leg lifting in male dogs and spraying in male cats, how do you think female dogs and cats get pregnant? It ain’t immaculate conception, folks.
Myth: My cat/dog (or cat/dog that was dumped at my house) is pregnant, so I have no choice.
Fact: Just like humans, a pregnant cat/dog can be aborted. The vet performs the spaying procedure and abortion simultaneously.
Myth: It’s too expensive to get my pet spayed/neutered.
Fact: There are plenty of low-cost spay/neuter facilities across the
although if you live in a rural area you may have to drive a ways to reach one.
Trust me, it’s worth the drive to a low-cost clinic or the cost of doing it at
your local vet if you can avoid the cost of vet care and food for
puppies/kittens! This tool from the HSUS can help you locate your nearest
low-cost spay/neuter clinic. You might also try asking your local vet if he/she
has any state vouchers for low cost spay/neuter surgeries. Many states have
these programs, but you usually have to ask the vet about it. (Vouchers are
limited, so it’s generally not something clinics advertise.)
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
It's been raining for a few days now due to Tropical Storm Debby. It's no where near as bad in my part of South Georgia as it is in down North Florida, where my friends in Lake City and Live Oak are experiencing some major flooding. Our flooding is pretty minor in comparison. Still, the "road" to our land has flooded again, and large chunks of our land are under 4-6 inches of water.
Flooded areas of our field
Flooded areas of our field - luckily the house and the Spartan are on the high spots.
Unfortunately, the Spartan has sprung some leaks, so I'll have to do some roof patching when the weather clears.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
One of my favorite things to eat is something I refer to as either "beer cheese" or "chechil" - a smoked, salted cheese popular for consumption with booze in the former Soviet Union (like peanuts in the US). I posted something the other day on facebook about how I really wished I had some chechil, and one of my former students from Kyrgyzstan responded that she was coming to the US, and she would bring some, and mail it once she got here. A week later, I had six packets of chechil; I'm now down to three and a half :-)
There was a period of time in Kyrgyzstan where I ate mostly chechil and twix, and drank mostly tan. Today I treated myself to my favorite Kyrgyz snack:
And in case you're wondering, the cat scratch is healing up nicely:
Sunday, June 17, 2012
And insanely enough stitches come out on MONDAY. As in tomorrow.
Friday, June 15, 2012
So you remember how Mama Cat was staying at my house both before her spay surgery and afterwards for recovery? Well, last night was supposed to be her last night at my house. She had been sleeping next to my pillow; Mochi and Charlie were sleeping together at the foot of my bed. Every morning, as soon as I'm awake, Mochi leaps onto my chest, like he's just so overjoyed that I'm awake. He did that this morning at 8am, right after I'd turned my alarm off. Mama Cat, being right next to my head and all, thought she was under attack. Her response was to lash out with her razor sharp claws. She missed Mochi and snagged my lip. If it had caught me pretty much anywhere else, it wouldn't have been too bad, but my lip? Her claw sliced right through it like a hot knife through butter, and blood exploded all over my bed. I staggered to the bathroom, and saw that there was a gaping hole from just above my upper lip, all the way through to the bottom of it. Blood was going everywhere. I called my mom and asked her to come pick me up and take me to the ER. Then I passed out. A couple of times. (I'm definitely not someone who could get shot or stabbed and keep on fighting!)
Luckily (?) this happened fairly early, so the ER was not crowded. There were only two people in there ahead of me when I arrived, although by the time I left the lobby was packed. Even so it four hours to get in and out. Sigh.
Four stitches later...
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
As you may or may not know, I have done a lot of traveling in the former Soviet Union (even though only my trip last year to Ukraine is chronicled on this blog). During my very first trip to Russia, I was introduced to kefir, a beverage similar to buttermilk. (Wikipedia has a pretty good article on kefir.) Until recently, I never saw it in the US (it seems to be a new health-food fad, even though it's been a staple on the shelves across the former Soviet Union for ages). While I can actually find it in the grocery store nowadays, it's just not quite the same. Then I learned that I could grow my own. Kefir is grown by immersing kefir grains in milk and letting it culture. You can buy kefir grains online - I buy these. They start off tiny, and only make about a half cup of kefir, but within a month you have enough to make several glasses of kefir a day. I've found that keeping the kefir grains in a tea ball works quite well, and makes it easier to drink the kefir without accidentally downing any of your grains (you can tell if they get in your mouth because they're rubbery and chewy).
This is how the kefir grains looked when they arrived.
This is how they looked when I first put them in the cup (before I started using the tea ball).
Kefir! Yes, I know, it looks foul, but I promise it isn't.
When I was living in Kyrgyzstan back in 2008 I discovered a beverage called tan (pronounced tahn - it does not rhyme with suntan). It is similar to the Turkish beverage Ayran, and I often described it as being vaguely similar to carbonated buttermilk. It sounds gross, but I loved it. It's tangy, it's a great thirst quencher (it's sold fresh on the side of the road in Bishkek during the summer months), and it is also the world's best hangover cure. Seriously. If you're drunk and you drink some before you go to bed, you'll be fine when you awaken. If you neglect to do this and wake up in the morning hungover, drink some and it will ease your pain. Believe me, we tested this a good bit back in 2008 and again this past summer in Ukraine. You can get tan with dill, tan with dill and cucumbers, tan with mint, etc. My favorite variety was tan with dill.
There seem to be three bottles of tan and two bottles of kefir on this table.
I learned a few weeks ago that tan was simply kefir + selzer water + salt, and waited eagerly for my kefir grains to grow to the point that I had enough to make myself a decent batch of tan... and finally I have been able to recreate this wonderful beverage in my kitchen. I use one cup of kefir, slightly less than one cup of seltzer water (spring water, sparkling water, soda water, gassy water, whatever you want to call it), about half a teaspoon of salt, and a few sprigs of fresh dill. Stir and chill. Yum!
The final product - yummy tan. I recommend breaking up your dill into smaller pieces than I did here though.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Mama Cat is getting spayed tomorrow. Mama and her (now weaned) babies currently live in the A-frame building out at our land. While the road is flooded, we only go out there once a day, so, since Mama is getting fixed tomorrow, I brought her back with me to my house. (Besides, she can't have food and water after midnight, which would've been hard to arrange in a small building full of hungry and thirsty kittens.) This means that she got to meet Charlie and Mochi this afternoon.
Charlie didn't like Mochi at first, but they have since become good friends. All of the cats at my mom's house are used to dogs, and are always playful with Mochi when I bring him over for a visit. Poor boy thought he had a new friend coming into his house; but after he got hissed at and smacked, he's been staying out of the way.
Charlie doesn't know what to make of Mama Cat. She's always flirting with the boy kitties who come to my window and door, but a girl cat? She fluffed her self up and began stalking. Mama, for her part, did her best to ignore her. (BTW, before you ask, the art stuff in the pictures below is not mine.)
Mochi, staying out of range of trouble.
Friday, June 8, 2012
I used to walk Mochi down my street, over a block, back up the next street over, then home. I would do this twice a day. There are some nice older folks on one end of the next street over, and a guy about my age with the sweetest pit bull on the planet. Yes, my mom has three pits, all of whom are - for the most part - quite nice. But none of hers are *sweet* like this one. Every time Mochi and I would walk by he would come running out, wagging his tail, then roll over at my feet and squirm, begging me to rub his belly. Belly rub complete, he would then play with Mochi until we had walked past his yard, then he'd return to his front porch.
The other end of the next street over has a house I refer to as "the trash house" because the yard is always piled full of trash: actual garbage, cars on blocks, rotting furniture... you name it, you can probably find it in their yard. The thing is, this house is a rental. In between tenants, the landlord comes and cleans up the place and removes all the trash from the yard. And yet the landlord somehow always manages to rent the place to the same sort of folks: always white, always very trashy.
The two people who live there currently are a man (probably in his forties) and his nephew (in his twenties). Pretty much any time I walked past, they would be sitting on their front porch.
One day, the older of the pair was out there by himself, and he came down into the street to talk to me. You know how some people just give off a really, really creepy vibe? Well this fella was vibing away. *shiver*
"Thas a purty dawg yew got there."
"Now, lemme ask you somethin.' My nephew - he'sa boy who's always sittin' up there on tha porch wi' me - he's real shy. He wannida know if you was seein' anybody."
I totally lied: said I had a boyfriend, and then skeedaddled.
About a week or so later, as I was once again walking Mochi around the block, I got to meet the nephew. He came ambling out to meet me.
"I jus' got me a new tattoo."
"Um..." Mochi and I began walking faster.
He stepped in front of me, then turned around to show me the grim reaper on his back. "See my new tattoo?"
"Um...." I half nodded, stepped around him, and continued walking on with Mochi.
He started walking next to me. "I might be goin' back to jay-el."
"Oh?" Kept walking.
"This time it might be fer ten years. But that ain't nothin.' I already done five."
"Mmmm." Almost past the house...
"They made me do one a them lie detectors. I didn't do so good."
"Come up on the porch a second. My uncle, he wanna show yew somethin.'"
Something about the whole situation made me feel like I'd end up sliced into pieces and shoved into a burn barrel if I went anywhere near that porch. "Nope, gotta go." I jogged off with Mochi.
I haven't been back on that street since. Although I do miss playing with the pit bull down at the other end of the street.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Remember way back when I wrote about Charlie's super picky palate? Well, it's funny - we got to the US and I immediately went and bought a bunch of expensive canned food for her to taste. She didn't like ANY of it. Granted, that fancy shit she was eating in Korea had whole shrimp, whole baby octopus, and nice chunks of fish in it, unlike this canned mush they sell here, so no wonder. On the other hand, Charlie *loves* Walmart brand dry food. Dry food is better for them, is cheaper, and results in a less stinky litter box, so this is a win all around.
Then there's Mochi. He gets fed one of the Walmart brand dry dog foods. Take a look at how that works out:
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Okeedokee. Since I’ve been encouraged to keep blogging, I’ll see what I can do. It’s not that I haven’t been doing things over the past month or so, it’s just that I haven’t blogged about them. This post will be low on writing and heavy on the photos. Enjoy!
Early in May I went down to
to hang out with some good friends of
mine who were in town to celebrate both a birthday and a baby shower. Lake City,
Me, with friends M and C
At one point we went to a brand new “Japanese” restaurant in
called Yamato. I put that in quotes because anyone who knows anything about
either Korean or Japanese will recognize that as Korean script. The “sake” on
the menu was soju and bekseju. There was also galbi on the menu. Hmmmm. The
food didn’t taste either Korean or Japanese to me (I had the scallops and they
were incredibly rich and wonderful) – it tasted more like a Korean/Japanese
fusion with an American twist. I hope they stay open as the food was
scrumptious… And it’s Lake City .
I doubt the owners expected anyone from Lake City to walk in and be able to read hangul. Lake City
The cover of the menu at Yamato: 100% Korean text
Several days later, Mom and I took a trip to
to visit the Georgia Southern Botanical
Gardens, a small but beautifully landscaped garden near the Statesboro,
Southern campus. Unfortunately, the day was overcast and dreary (although
luckily for us it didn’t rain), but I was still able to get some good photos.
Very pollenated bee atop a passionflower
And because you know that animals play a huge part in my life:
Mom and I decided to take another day trip – this one to
had my camera – my lovely and expensive DSLR – in my purse with my Brita water
bottle. Which I had, in my hurry to get out the door, not closed properly. The
entire contents of the bottle had emptied themselves onto my camera on the
drive to Jekyll
Island, GA. ,
and by the time we arrived, it was dead. Jekyll Island
I’d brought my point-and-shoot with me to
, so I was able to take
photographs. The point-and-shoot is a top-of-the-line point-and-shoot, and it
is useful in a lot of scenarios, but being forced to make the switch was rough.
The remainder of the pictures in this post were taken with the point-and-shoot. Jekyll
Then of course there’s The Old House (mom’s 1906 bungalow). She’s in the process of having some contractors do some work on the kitchen, bathroom, and master bedroom. In theory, she can move in once those three rooms are taken care of.
Progress, I swear! Left: paneling removed; Right: sheetrocked
Unfortunately, with the contractors tramping in and out of the house, we had to move Mama Cat and her kittens out of the master bedroom and into the A-frame. It’s a much smaller area, but it has three levels, giving the kittens a lot of new things to play on.
We’ve had a spot or two of car trouble. Not with *my* car (the one which shall soon be moving to
with me), but with my mother’s two vehicles, a 1997 Ford Escort and a 1984
I’m working on convincing my mother that she needs to buy a two or three year old light truck, since A) I will be taking the only reliable vehicle (2003 Toyota Echo) to Orlando in August, and B) a truck could get in and out of flooded areas much better than a car.
Flooded areas? Well, our “road” floods if we get a lot of rain, and this was the result of Tropical Storm Beryl:
Left: The "road" Right: Mom, wading down the road
However, the blackberries have loved all the excess rain, and are plump and juicy:
This past weekend I drove to Live Oak, FL to attend the wedding of a good friend from high school. I hadn’t seen her in ages, and I wished that we’d had more time to catch up, but weddings tend to keep the bride busy. Still, she looked great, and was positively glowing.
A and her husband C
Yesterday, mom and I drove to
to take my DSLR in for an estimate. I had
to leave it, and am still waiting to hear how much it’s going to cost to fix it
– or if it can even be fixed. After dropping off my camera, we decided to go
and check out two parks located right next to each other: Jacksonville,
FL and Betz-Tiger Preserve. While sadly devoid
of tigers, the area was a lovely marsh park. As soon as my mom buys herself a
truck (hint, hint), we can come down here and go kayaking. Pumpkin
Hill Creek State
Hunters hunt in the pineforests out by our land. We often come across the remains of their handiwork – but usually what we’re left is nothing more than a skeleton and some entrails. Most people around here do seem to eat what they kill. But not all. Take a look at what was waiting for us the other day:
Some asshole shot it, took the head (“Lookit what I done kilt - I’m a man!”), and left the body to rot. It was already noticeably rotting by the time we got out there, or we would’ve been tempted to try and salvage some meat. As it was, what a complete waste, and so disrespectful to the hog. If you’re going to kill it, eat it. Also, please don’t leave carcasses in the area where we normally let our dog run free. We can’t now, because he would love nothing more than to roll in some rotting pig juice.
And lastly, my little garden is coming along quite nicely. I’m planning to add some Mexican Petunias either this evening or tomorrow. They’ll go in that little bare patch on the left. And of course, I still need to dig out and mulch the rest of the bed.