Going Vegetarian

It’s so funny that I am doing this because up until now, I never thought I could. Never imagined I could eat 3 meatless meals in a week let alone all in the same day and then wake up and do it again… and again… and again. How could I do all the insane things I would absolutely be required to do if I made this choice? The changes I would have to make were too extensive, too inconvenient, too much work. When you are bombarding your body with toxins and depriving it of nutrients with every bite of food or sip of liquid you take, it’s pretty easy to to feel overwhelmed with real change of any magnitude. Thus, I was causing my own horrible health, obesity and all the crap that comes in that package.

ME. I did it to myself. No one else is to blame.

Well…. not anymore.

It’s been three weeks since I started gradually moving over to a vegetarian/raw food/unprocessed lifestyle. You notice I didn’t say DIET. What I was doing, that was a DIET and I’ve decided, I’m just not going to eat DEATH anymore. I don’t want to DIE. Not by cancer. Not by diabetes. Not by heart attack. Not by stroke. All of those fatalities being the prime results of my previous DIET.

This is the truth. It isn’t a trick and it certainly isn’t complicated. If you eat DEATH, you will DIE. You will die horribly, painfully, and long before your time. If you eat LIFE then you will LIVE. You will live longer, live healthy, and pass away when you are supposed to. Not horribly painfully. Not from prolonged exposure to chemo treatments for cancer due to the acidic state of your body caused by a horrible diet or from 17 different pharmaceutical medications for all your other diet-caused, totally preventable illnesses.

If you eat dead things, you will steal both quality of living and quantity of years from yourself.

If you eat life, you will have peace of mind and body/soul. It really is that simple.

THE STATE OF THINGS BEFORE THE SWITCH:

I am 29 years old. I’m 5’4, and my “healthy” weight has been determined to be between 120 and 145 lbs. When I made the switch I weighed in at 204 which is the heaviest I have ever been. I was eating McDonald’s Egg McMuffin meal with a medium coffee with 7 cream and 7 sugar for breakfast 3-4 times a week and pretty much skipping breakfast the other days. On weekends I would make canned biscuits and gravy (actually made from scratch) for my husband and share in that meal. Every day I woke up I craved the McMuffin meal. No joke. It called to me. Seriously. Every time I ate one it was like a taste explosion of happy awesomeness and warm feelings all over. (Note: I have discovered in only a few weeks that healthy food doesn’t cause that sort of intensity of feelings when you eat it. It’s not what I think of as “emotionally charged” eating. It doesn’t have all the addictive chemicals of processed fast food.)

For lunch I was eating whatever fast, processed, hot meal I wanted at whatever chain restaurant I happened to be passing by that day. Most of the time it was Hardees chicken tenders and fries with sweet tea or some kind of burger or pizza or turkey and bacon sandwich. Those were he staples. I ate fries and drank some form of sugary drink 1-3 times a day. I would get half sweet half unsweet tea and think I was making the healthy drink choice over soda.  While that may be true, that was the extent of my attempt to make my meal healthier. Half sweet tea.

For dinner I would normally make meat-centric meal accompanied by some sort of canned vegetable. Think a pie graph with 75% meat, 25% veggie/starch. That was my plate and I thought “This is the healthiest meal of my day. I am eating lots of protein, which doesn’t spike my blood sugar, and I am getting in a veggie!”

So let’s recap my day of eating:

Breakfast: White flour english muffin topped with margarine (chemical laden trans fats… yay!), a slice of processed aluminum-filled cheese “product” (Franken-Cheddar), a commercially produced whole egg, a processed ham slice, and a soggy fat-drenched uber-processed franken-potato hashbrown. Topped with a horribly addictive coffee and a ton of bleached processed sugar. Wow, my whole mouth actually just filled with saliva after typing that. Sometimes I would get a medium hot mocha instead of regular coffee. That adds about 100 calories on top of the other one.

700-800 CALORIES

Lunch: Hardees 3 piece Chicken Tender meal with fries, BBQ sauce, Ketchup and 2 X half sweet tea:

950 CALORIES

Dinner and Snacks: My dinner varied quite frequently but I will just go ahead and say that I probably ate another 1000 CALORIES worth of snacks, sugary drinks and food. That might even be a conservative estimate on some nights.

That’s roughly 2700 CALORIES! I’m not as irritated about the calorie amount as I am the fact that almost NONE of that was fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, or seeds. In a good day I might have had a salad or a piece of fruit somewhere in there but those days were very few and far between.

The only good thing I can say I really had going for me was that I am still fairly young and I’m not on any pharmaceutical medications.

Now that I have all that unfortunate back history filled in for you, let me tell you about…

THE SWITCH:

So, what happened that made me decide to start making dramatic changes? I got on Pinterest and started surfing the Fitness section and there was this very basic recipe for a green drink. When I made it I was surprised at 1.) How good it tasted considering the fact that it had weird non-cow’s milk and pureed spinach in it and 2.) How many variations I could make on the recipe without detracting too much from the taste. I started with the basic recipe and then as the first two weeks passed I added several things to up the nutrition factor of the smoothie. I basically tried a few different versions of it until it tasted almost like a frozen blended coffee drink. Now, I drink it every day for breakfast. Most days my mix makes about 36 ounces. I drink 24 ounces of it in the morning and then the other 12 ounces in the mid-afternoon around 3 PM.

 

The basic ingredients:

1-2 cups of coconut or almond milk (depending on preference and desired consistency)

1 large handful of spinach (about 1-2 cups, and NO, your drink will not taste like spinach)

1/2-1 frozen banana (depending on how sweet you like it)

1 scoop (about 2 Tbsp) of Milled Flax Seeds

1 scoop (about 2 Tbsp) of Vanilla Protein powder (Whey is shown but I have since tried a few other types of protein powder. Word to the wise: Gemma Pea protein does NOT go well with chocolate coffee flavor or a thicker consistency drink and is more ideally suited toward a fruit flavored smoothie with a green tea base rather than milk. Learned that one the hard way… bleh.)

To this basic recipe I have added the following:

1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

1 scoop of powdered greens (mine is alfalfa, barley and wheat grass)

1 Tsp of Spirulina powder

1 Tsp of Kelp powder

1 Tbsp of Chia seeds

1-2 Tbsp of Raw Cacao or Baker’s Cocoa (depending on taste preference)

1 packet (about a Tbsp) of instant Ganoderma coffee (or another instant that you like if you want the coffee flavor. I may be ending this as soon as I run out of these mushroom based coffee packets because most coffee makes you very acidic which is not in keeping with the purpose of this drink which is to make you more alkaline.)

1 Tbsp of Organic Coconut Oil (good fat, very filling, and I like chocolate and coconut together.)

1Tbsp of Agave Nectar (or other natural sweetener if it isn’t sweet enough. I rarely use this last one anymore because I don’t need the added sweetness as much since I have eliminated almost all processed food from my diet.)

Ice (optional)

Note: I found the majority of the powdered ingredients at my local health food store. You can also find them online but I like to sample something before I buy a whole pound of it to make sure I won’t just end up wasting it. My current protein powder and green powder I bought online at truenutrition.com. It’s inexpensive (compared to health food or grocery store prices) and very high quality.

OH, and here’s a time saving tip I have found VERY helpful: I make ziplock baggies of all the dry ingredients in my smoothie so I can just open the baggie and toss it in. It takes my smoothie making time down to about 2-3 minutes! I call them my Power Powder packs… he he he. I don’t make frozen packs or liquid packs, but I suppose you could if you really wanted to shave off the time. I reuse the baggies each week so as not to waste them. Yes, I’m proud, OK?!? I have never been so efficient in my life! Bwa ah ahhhh!! Oh, and here’s a picture of the finished product… I call it SWAMP THING! 🙂 Then, when people say “EWWWW!!! What on earth are you drinking!?!” I can say “Swamp Thing, that’s what, now mind ya bidness!!” LOL. OK, I don’t actually say that… but I have fantasized about that particular situation and role-played the conversation in my head several times. I feel prepared for when that day comes… and shuddup if you wanna make fun of me for roleplaying an awkward conversation in my head, you know you do it too!

The blender in the pictures is fairly old and has since been replaced. You will need a decent blender BUT I honestly do NOT believe you have to buy some insanely expensive blender to make this. I think there are some under $50 that will do just fine (such as my new one) and I KNOW there are some very good ones under $100 that will do wonderfully.

I read a few green smoothie books and looked at some online and one of the authors seems convinced that I just HAD to have a Vitamix ($400-$500) or a Blendtec, one of each if I could afford it. I’m not bloody rich, man, there’s just no way! Coincidentally, a very nice woman I know bought a Vitamix and gave her used Ninja Blender to me as an upgrade to my 10 year old Oster (which was doing just fine for now but kinda struggling with all the frozen ingredients on some mornings). I got a free blender that works way better than my old one did. Here’s the link where you can buy the one I was given on Amazon for less than $50. And may I just reiterate: IT WORKS VERY WELL!

OK, so that takes care of breakfast, but what about Lunch? Did I just say “Ok, super awesome green smoothie for breakfast? Check. And now I will just eat the same old crap for lunch.”? No! I go to a local super market (Dillons, if you must know) and they have a spectacular salad bar. I simply load up on veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds and then I go eat it with my husband and our work friends wherever they are eating. So far they haven’t kicked me out of Hardees, Imo’s Pizza, Taco Bell, Burger King or Korea House for bringing in my own salad but I wouldn’t suggest it if you’re not with someone who actually did buy their food there. That’s just rude. Here is a pic of my typical salad from the supermarket salad bar and also a veggie sandwich I had at one of our fancier lunch places one day. It was shockingly just as good (to me) without the meat. Their fresh cut basil fries are amazing.

If you don’t have a conveniently located supermarket or salad bar you can go to then buy one of the new insulated lunch bags and simply make yourself something wonderful at home and take it with you. I may eventually start doing this myself as I plan to gradually go all or mostly organic with my food. I have to start small and slow though or I will get burnt out and give up… because that is what I have done when I got overwhelmed in the past… but NOT THIS TIME. Like I said, this isn’t just another stupid temporary diet, this is a lifestyle change.

That leaves dinner time… I still make a lot of different things for dinner and I still eat chicken or fish twice a week on some dinners. I’ve only been doing this for 3 weeks and here are a few things I have found effective when handling the “What’s For Dinner?” dilemma:

I make a pot of very hearty vegetarian soup on the weekend which I then store in a large container and eat over the course of the week. If you’re gonna store leftovers, make sure to use BPA-FREE containers. Google BPA and the health hazards caused by it.

Stock up on fresh veggies, dried beans (most cans use BPA in the lining… UGH), raw nuts and seeds, quinoa, long grain rice (NOT instant as it has a very high glycemic index and is not as good for you) and buy yourself some loaves of gourmet bread, preferably low sugar whole grain if you can get it, that you can bake in the oven. If you can make your own bread, then do that. I just haven’t gotten that far yet in my dedication to this project. The fresh baked bread goes really well with the soup and makes me wonder why I ever cared about eating meat. The soup in the picture below is one I got from the Whole Foods store app on my phone, here’s a link to the recipe, it’s called Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup.

So far I have been in the switch for 3 weeks and have lost 8 lbs, I’m currently at 196 lbs and going strong. I really don’t crave anything sugary, salty or fatty like I used to. I actually had McDonalds breakfast again last Friday and I am excited to say that it was really GROSS! Bland, mushy, not as good as I remembered.

My clothes are fitting much better and my complexion and eye appearance have improved immensely. I also have so much energy it’s ridiculous! For example: for YEARS I have had trouble keeping my house clean and my laundry done. For the last three weeks my kitchen has been wonderfully clean (because I use it more and I have more energy to make it look the way I want it to!) and I actually saw the bottom of our laundry hampers for the first time in about 5 years. I even got done with the laundry and washed the laundry bags themselves! I completely refolded all the clothes in my drawers in a new way so I can see all of them, the organization is literally like a high for me now, it’s almost a sickness I think.

I have also rearranged my living room, cleaned out my kitchen cabinets AND refrigerator, rearranged our big living room (game room), consolidated my book and dvd collection AND starting working on my “junk” room and consolidated and donated about 10 boxes of old junk from the garage! That’s a lot, and all in the last 3 weeks. It’s not a coincidence, it’s the diet or “Live-it” as my friend Leo has started calling it, and I feel fantastic. I feel ALIVE. I will write an update in another couple weeks or a month and let you know how it’s going! 🙂

I’m hoping to continue at a loss of about 2 lbs per week and maybe be back at 170 by my 30th birthday on July 3rd! I don’t celebrate birthdays but this one is kind of a milestone for me. If I can get back to a decent weight and be healthy (maybe for the first time in my life, if I’m being honest) then maybe I won’t risk wasting the rest of my life in such poor health as I did the entire decade of my twenties. I really can do this. 🙂

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Divergent: Paper or Plastic?

I have been on Goodreads.com a lot the past week because my righteous spectacular magnanimous kindred spirit friend type person, Karen Nelson, has started a new book club group that I am pretty excited about. But this post is not about that.

It’s about me perusing Goodreads and checking out the Goodreads 2011 Book of the Year Winner: Divergent by Veronica Roth. I read the synopsis and guess what? It’s Dystopian YA and even though there is only one right now, the next book is due out next Spring. Could this be the next Hunger Games trilogy I’ve been searching for? I went onto Amazon and read the first two and a half chapters and I dare say IT IS!!! YAY!Rapture! Joy! Expectation!

Here is the book description:

Series: Divergent | Publication Date: May 3, 2011
One choice can transform you. Pass initiation. Do not fail! Thrilling urban dystopian fiction debut from exciting young author. In sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior’s world, society is divided into five factions — Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) — each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a “perfect society.” At the age of sixteen, teens must choose the faction to which they will devote their lives. On her Choosing Day, Beatrice renames herself Tris, rejects her family’s group, and chooses another faction. After surviving a brutal initiation, Tris finds romance with a super-hot boy, but also discovers unrest and growing conflict in their seemingly “perfect society.” To survive and save those they love, they must use their strengths to uncover the truths about their identities, their families, and the order of their society itself.

If you are intrigued, here’s a link to the Amazon page for the book so you too can read the first few chapters and possibly find yourself a new book obsession just as I have:  http://www.amazon.com/Divergent-Veronica-Roth/dp/0062024027

Also, here’s a link to Veronica Roth’s personal blog,  veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/

Check out her November 23rd, 2011 post, “The Break Up Letter”, written to her Macbook Air, I laughed out loud about 12 times on that one.

By the way, a little more snooping around to find the pictures to put on this post and I discovered a rumor that she already has a movie deal on this first book in the trilogy. Double awesome.

SO, my real question is this: Now that I am definitely going to buy this book should I A.) Kill a tree and feel the surge of enjoyment by splurging on the Hardback copy or B) Give the greedy pigs at Amazon my money so I can download it instantly to my new (still free) 3rd Gen Kindle? BTW, if I buy the Kindle copy, I can only lend it out ONCE. How I do love to hate you Kindle.

What do YOU think? Shall I kill a tree or support Greed?

1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a Nerf War.

OK. SO this is somewhat random. It seemed almost too vague to put on the Awesome List, so I will just go on about it a bit and that should cover the subject in an acceptable manner. So here goes.. I have recently discovered Etsy.com (which I may very well actually write an Awesome List article) and I have also recently become friends with a girl who writes Steampunk fiction novels. Now, I have been obsessed with the show Firefly for quite a while as it is most surely the best show that has ever been on television. I would not normally make such grandiose statements and now that I’m thinking about it, I will definitely be adding it to the Awesome List.

SO, the style of dress and weaponry and the general feel of Firefly is the best audiovisual way for me to describe my idea of what Steampunk is. Lite Steampunk anyway. If you’ve never been graced with the splendiferous jewel of genius that IS Firefly, then just think post-apocolyptic space pirate cowboys. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s the coolest thing ever. I want to go to there.” And you would be correct. If you were somewhat confused by that jumble of imagery in your head and hadn’t yet made it to that conclusion, don’t worry. I know you would have reached that conclusion eventually cause you’re just cool like that I reckon. Let’s go on.

I used to play with Nerf guns with my 5 year old nephew until he moved away, which made me very sad. I miss him terribly. I miss having someone to have Nerf wars with. The great thing about Nerf guns is that they have the cool factor of guns without the murderous psycho life-taking crap factor of guns. Also, most children that love nerf guns are young males, usually with some form of ADHD, and I can’t think of anything more fun than unleashing a butt load of Nerf arrow fury out on some annoying overly energetic turd that pokes me in the shoulder fifteen thousand times to get my attention while I am trying to have a conversation with his mother or sisters. Don’t worry, I’m not going to procreate. The children are safe.

We have established that I love Nerf gun shoot outs and Steampunkery. So here is what the combination of those things looks like:

THIS:

     

                                                                                                      

PLUS THIS:

EQUALS THIS:

  

And if you add a steampunk chick to it, it looks something like this:

 

THAT IS ALL. AND… YOU’RE WELCOME.

 

 

A Credit Line With God

Note: I wrote the first half of this several months ago and saved it back because I didn’t feel it was complete. I could expound on this even more, but something in me just wanted to leave it the way it was. It’s just a thought I had one day that came back to me again recently. 

As an apartment manager who sees people’s credit scores on a daily basis, it seems like I’m always using this to assess people, to lay bare their strengths and weaknesses as if payments and monetary assessment is the best way of seeing them for what they truly are. There are those that have rough credit history that aren’t bad, fickle, irresponsible, undependable types. I’ve taken chances on people who have had amazing rental and job history but no credit history to speak of. They continued to pay their rent perfectly on time and I continue to stand by them and do everything I can to keep them as residents.

Maybe they were married to that type of person. Maybe they just had a rough go of it for a while with their health, their vehicle or their life. Regardless… not all these people are bad, and not all people that pass my credit checks with flying colors are infallible. I deny people on a weekly basis that I want to give a second chance to. I approve people on a weekly basis that my gut tells me are going to not only trash their apartment, but also skip out on their lease.

Single mothers are my Achilles heel. I always want to feel bad for them because my mother was at one time in the same boat. I remember one day, after I got off the bus from school, I came into her bedroom and sat down next to her on her bed. Her face was red and swollen from crying all day. She had been in bed for days. Depressed. Downtrodden. I had heard her on the phone earlier that morning talking to someone. She said she only had $10 to her name. As a 10 year old I was afraid and I didn’t realize the weight of my care, the burden of my existence. I put my hand on her shoulder, “Mama, are we gonna die?” I asked her. This of course made her cry all the more. She grabbed me and pulled me under the covers with her. She looked at me as if I were absurd and comforted me with words I knew she didn’t believe, “Oh, we’ll be fine. Of course we won’t die.”  Every time a single mother comes in desperately seeking a new refuge for her and her children, my brain has to keep my heart from wandering back to that afternoon with my mother.This is my half vulcan half betazoid struggle.

As all of this swirls around in my brain it makes me think What if? What if we are all building a line of credit with God? What if every scrap of goodness or badness added to or took away from our line of credit with him? Based on what I have, though I am still considered young, would I have enough credit to buy anything he has in store for me?Let me clarify one thing about my beliefs: I do not, in any way, believe that the only reward for goodness is getting to go to heaven. I don’t want to go to heaven, I just don’t want to die. If you think about it, that is the underlying fear for the entire human race: Nonexistence. Nor do I believe anyone will be burned forever in some imaginary lake of fire that some sadistic God keeps stoking 24-7 in an attempt to scare us into obedience to Him. I’m sorry, but an imperfect human being is not capable of this level of sadism, how could a perfect one be? I DO very much believe in a creator that made us. Apparently, I just give Him a lot more credit than most.

Someone asked me recently, when I was taking a chance on someone with a recent behavioral pattern that had been undependable and shaky, whether or not this person really deserved what I was doing for them. Did they deserve the kindness, the effort, the risk I was taking on them? In that moment, the very audacity of that question gave me pause to reflect on its arrogance. I have asked this sort of thing so many times to myself and others in the past. Does this person DESERVE the kindness that is being given to them? If they squander it, will it have all been for nothing? Will it have been a waste of time on the giver’s end?

I didn’t help this person because they have always been a good person. Quite the contrary, more often than not, this person has treated me coldly when I have reached out for their affection or friendship. This person has made bad decisions that have hurt me and my family repeatedly. So why would I yet again help a person who has the potential to disappoint and fail us all? I have asked myself this question not only regarding this person, but as regards many people I have tried to help in the past. The only answer I can come up with is that I didn’t help them because they deserved  it, I helped them because it was within my power to do so and because it made me happy to be of that much use in the pursuit of  someone else’s happiness and well being. Helping people without expecting payment or good karma or being protected from any sort of badness that might befall me because of my good deed is the only way I want to help people.

I loathe the thought of being the kind of “tit for tat” person that would only help someone else if they owed me something in return or if they got something tangible out of it. That cowardly spirit of interaction with others is based solely on fear and selfishness and I don’t want to be any part of it. I would rather have my heart broken and my kindness mistaken for weakness a thousand times, than be the sort of person who closes off to the possibility of doing anything that does not directly benefit them in some way. If I think about myself being that cold and uncaring, it literally makes me shudder. This is what humanity is, we are not simply moist robots. We have the capacity to be so much more. So what on earth are we so afraid of?

Now, if I, a fallible, imperfect human being, am capable of this, then surely a perfect, all-knowing, all encompassing creator is capable of so much more. If we aren’t simply looking for where we stand to benefit by obeying Him and instead look at our lives, our relationships with our Creator and with our peers, as something MORE than a way to gain something for ourselves, only then can we be free of the slavery to the notion that all actions MUST have an equal reaction or that all good deeds must be rewarded by an equal payment. The satisfaction of being useful should be enough. Being needed IS being loved. I can’t state it more plainly than that. So obviously, doing things for others is a way of fulfilling their needs and thus gaining love. They don’t have to verbalize that love, it is implied by offsetting their need. Seeing someone else breathe easier knowing that they won’t have to continue to deal with a certain hardship should be enough for us, shouldn’t it?

Everything I am saying finds its origins in the pages of the Bible, so obviously none of what I am saying is new or in any way original. Sometimes we are so bombarded with thinking and actions that are opposite of the absolute perfect truths the Bible lays down, that we need a refresher course. I’m not trying to beat anyone over the head with this, it is only in an effort to keep you from making the same mistakes over and over again and questioning why you feel so empty. It is a simple fact: there is more happiness in giving than in receiving. The spirit of the world is teaching us the opposite of this and it is making us empty and unsatisfied to the point that we need to be doped up in order for us not to strongly consider ending our lives out of despair.

To be a whole person that doesn’t live in constant fear and sadness, in emptiness, you must find a way to love and be loved. That means letting yourself give and opening yourself up to others without expecting anything in return, without expecting perfectly equal compensation. Better yet, it means expecting no compensation at all.

Just a thought.

 

A Warning to Animal Lovers with faint hearts and/or small bank accounts

I have a LOT of pets. Inside ones. Outside ones. In the past year it seems like I have taken almost every single one of them to the vet for SOMETHING. It’s weird, when I was growing up we had lots of dogs and a few cats and I never remember them being taken to the vet for anything, but then again, they never lived very long because they got hit by cars and shot by neighborhood juvenile delinquents (who shall remain nameless) and mauled by large neighborhood dogs or died during pregnancy complications. Good grief, that childhood pets health question just kind of answered itself! We didn’t taken them to the vet because they all either disappeared or died violently. Ah, such warm childhood memories.

I’m groggy this morning due to a midnight trip to the emergency vet with one of our cats. He was blocked, just as the other one had been less than a month ago. We spent over $1k on that blockage, and now with this one they are saying it is possibly not only a blockage, but kidney problems as well. It’s worse for me this time because I actually like this cat. His name is George. I finally broke down and applied for a Pet Care credit card so I don’t keep having to drain our bank account to pay for vet expenses. Good grief, I don’t think I can take much more of this. The best news I’ve gotten was about the Care Credit Card, if we pay our balance off in 6 months then we don’t get charged interest! OH JOY! All I keep thinking is, how in the world can these things keep happening? We feed our pets high quality food, we monitor their health and give them supplements as needed, we don’t let them run around all over tar nation getting killed and disappearing. Something’s got to give!

Since November of last year, we have had TWELVE vet visits due to catastrophes. That doesn’t include multiple litters of kittens we had to buy supplies for, wean and adopt out over craigslist, bag after bag of expensive healthy food, dose after dose of flea medications and multiple groomer appointments at $30- $40 per dog each time. That’s just if they’re HEALTHY!

Nov 2010: Kitty, our Pomeranian pooch. Impacted anal glands. They gave me medicine, one of which had multiple doses in a large syringe. I promptly took her home and a few days later proceeded to overdose her with that poorly packaged medication which required a trip to the emergency vet and an $80 call to the animal poison control hotline, because OF COURSE, it was on a Saturday. That’s TWO and that’s just the beginning.

 

 

Next one was in the spring of this year. We heard a crazy ruckus on our back porch at two a.m. so I fled to the sliding door and saw two giant dogs attacking my cat Stella, who I’d had for about 10 years and who had NEVER had any real health problems other than being a little overweight. They had mauled her pretty badly. At first I saw nothing and was relieved because I thought both my outside cats had gotten to safety before the two brutes hurt them. She was black and so blended in with the night. I finally saw her, lying there and crying faintly. I brought her inside, hoping she would be ok. She died in my arms about 6 hours later and we had to take her to my vet to be cremated that morning because her body had stiffened and started to decompose. I gave her to the vet in a  cardboard box, wrapped in one of our blue towels. As I handed the lady the box I broke down in tears and we both left and took the whole day off. It was the only time I ever saw my husband cry. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” played on the radio as I bawled all the way home and to this day, whenever I hear that song, that horrible morning, handing my sweet little Stella’s body wrapped in a blue towel and placed in a box to my vet, paying the bill and then running out to my car. The sadness and tragedy of it all, comes screaming back to me. It’s a pity because it really is too beautiful a song to be marred by such vivid sadness. I loved that little cat so much. She was given to me by a new best friend, who is now my oldest best friend. I gave her to my sister and then traded back for her a few years later due to my sister’s boyfriend’s cat allergies. She stayed with us all of our marriage up to this point. Rest in peace Poopie cat. That’s THREE.

 

 

Next comes a litter of 3 kittens. Two of them had very bad (and very disgusting might I add) eye infections when we found them. Their eyelids were literally turning inside out and completely swollen. I felt unprepared to deal with it so I took them to the “inhumane society” where I was informed that the moment they took them in, they would put the two little sick ones to sleep to keep down any risk of their infections spreading to the other cats. So I gave the stone hearted hag at the desk a “the HELL you WILL!” death glare and took them home in a huff. I stopped at my pet store and got a small tube of ointment for about $20 and over the next week I washed their eyes and put that magical goop on them twice a day. They were completely healed and ended up all finding very good homes. OH, I did take them to my vet before I took them to the humane society, but they couldn’t really do anything other than charge us for a litter wellness exam, which they would have had to set up for another day. They weren’t really open due to training clinics being held that day and I wasn’t about to pay for that yet and I wasn’t patient enough to wait, so I declined at the time. BUT, I still took them in, so that bloody well counts! That’s FOUR.

 

Next was in June. The General, my youngest and most evil of cats, got a UTI and had to be taken to the vet and prescribed antibiotics. In August he had to be taken in again and treated for another UTI. Same protocol as before but different antibiotics this time. That was on a Monday. At the end of that week we had to take him to the emergency vet at 5:45 pm because my vet closes at 5:30 pm. We got home and he was acting crazy, walking around freaking out, hissing and attacking his crotch with unbridled fury. We didn’t have a referral slip from our vet so we had to pay an emergency charge at the emergency clinic. That time they said he was blocked and needed to be catheterized and kept at the clinic for a few days. THAT’S SEVEN!

In between those visits I adopted out YET ANOTHER litter of kittens from the feral mommy cat we’d been feeding and had finally had enough. I contacted SAAF house and got her fixed after catching her in a live animal trap and listening to her attack the cage and his at me all the way to the stupid clinic! She is now putting on weight and we only still call her mommy out of habit. No more babies for you, cat hooker!! That’s EIGHT!

In October we had a beautiful Saturday and we all spent the day outside playing with the dogs and working on yard work, clearing out a tree that had fallen in the yard. Our dog Boo overexerted himself and messed up his back. We thought he was just sore but his stiffness and inability to climb stairs or get up on the bed continued for 3 weeks so we had to take him to the vet where they told us one of the discs in his back is messed up and prescribed him lots of pain meds. We will be taking him back for another check up and possible med refills next week. That’s TEN!

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, the visit I first described is what prompted this post. We had to take George in to the emergency vet last night, which we paid nearly $500 for, and now, today, we took him in to our regular vet to continue treatment and diagnosis and God only knows what that is going to cost. OH, and he may have kidney disease which will probably be either insanely expensive to treat or KILL HIM. Yay for free cats…. And That’s TWELVE!

I am tired of writing this now and badly in need of curling up n a ball and sucking my thumb for the rest of the day so I will sum myself up as quickly as I can by saying this: The next time you get offered a FREE pet, don’t be an IDIOT and think it’s actually free. Even if you feed the poor thing crappy walmart junk pet food and never take it to the vet, it will cost you money and break your heart. And if you take care of it properly, it will cost you TONS of money. If you have to adopt a cat, get a female and get her fixed ASAP. They have less health problems than males do. And whatever you do, don’t keep your animals outside so they can get lime disease or mauled to death by some moron’s escaped giant dog that breaks into your yard in the middle of the night!

October, please end already.

It’s been over two weeks since my last confession… oh wait, I’m not Catholic. Let me try again.

 

A lot has been going on here lately. I’ve been riding steadily about 3 times a week and it is helping me more than I ever dreamed it could. I feel like I am getting back to a part of myself that was lost for so long. Despite several stressful situations in my life, I actually feel happy. It’s an odd sensation. I actually walk out my door in the mornings and in the place of what I used to smell, things like dew and fresh cut grass, now I just smell horses. In spite of the fact that I live 10 minutes away from where I ride, he always seems to be with me. Or rather, they all are. The very essence of them courses through me until my heartbeat sounds like hoof beats and every over grown field of grass I pass makes me sick with the absence of them there in and the waste of grass and perfectly good pasture, all that precious life source murdered by the blades of a mower.

 

Watching people and animals I love deal with sickness and strife has sort of been the theme for this month. Two of my cats have urinary tract infections, one of which has cost us over $1000 this month alone. Good grief, it’s hard just typing that. Needless to say our bank account is running low and we are all feeling the pinch. My poor husband has been monitoring everything the cat eats and drinks and the three meds they have given us to put him on. The vet looks at us with these eyes that say “You’re a gold mine.” All while saying things like, “Once a male cat has been blocked, he will probably keep getting blocked frequently for the rest of his life unless you buy him high priced food, which will really only lessen his vet trips, not eliminate them all together.” I don’t even like cats.

 

My dog, Boo, has a new ailment where his whole body stiffens up as hard as a board and he cant get up on the bed or climb any stairs and just isn’t himself. It makes us so sad to see him. He played a little more than usual on Saturday so we are trying to chalk it up to soreness from that. I’m still praying that’s what it is. Also, our cute little Kitty dog is losing her hair and we don’t understand why. The only possible diagnosis I have found online is called Adrenal Sex Hormone Responsive Dermatosis. Yeah, I know. It’s not fatal; it happens mainly in Spitz breeds and basically just means that she is losing hair around her neck, the base of her tail, her hind legs and chest. It’s heartbreaking to see her but she seems perfectly healthy, as if she doesn’t even have a clue she’s losing her hair. Because of the stupid cat’s UTIs, we don’t have money to take the two animals I actually love (yes, I said it, let’s not lie to ourselves) to the vet for their own ailments.

 

My husband has been dealing with his blood disorder and the horrible pain and exhaustion that come from it. His doctors say he shouldn’t be in pain from it. That answer is getting tired and annoying because they don’t see him in pain every single night and weekend like I do. They don’t see his eyes red and sagging from exhaustion and pain as he tries to feign health all for the purpose of remaining a good employee for our company. I wish they could live with what he lives with for just one week and then tell me that what he’s feeling has no correlation with his red blood cell count or size. He recently saw yet another new doctor who may have him do a sleep study. She was very surprised at the lack of oxygen in his blood and didn’t understand why the ingrates that saw him before tried to say he has arthritis. He’s not 50 years old, morons. Get a clue!

 

My father’s car broke down and so now his visits have shortened to only once a week because he’s driving his truck now and can’t afford the gas money. He has bummed money from me and my little brother a couple times already. I can hear the depression in his voice since he has been stranded at home and it breaks my heart. I am grateful not to have him surprising me at work every other day, but sad too because I know he really needs someone to love him. He has run off all the women in his life by being intolerable and my sister and I are pretty much all he has left. I still feel sorry for him though, no one should have to deal with old age all by their self. It just seems wrong.

 

To top all this off, I never get to see my mother and I miss her terribly every single day.

 

I haven’t written anything since I started riding and I don’t really know if I want to either. I have a few stories that are unfinished but the telling of them seems boring when I could be out riding. I don’t want to continue with the writing of my landlord story because quite frankly, I often have to get into cranky mode to make it as funny as it should be, and I don’t have the energy to be cranky for long enough periods of time to make anything come of it. I get interrupted constantly at work so as it turns out that is also not the ideal place for me to write. I know, how dare my work try to interrupt me by making me work! The audacity! The nerve!

 

The only thing really getting me through this is getting to see my little sister fall in love with horses, see my husband crack a smile now and again and give me wonderful hugs, and of course, our amazing October weather. October has always been my favorite month just because of the weather and in that regard, it has not failed me. I am just writing today to say that I’m still here and I am trying to hang on until all this drama passes. Someday again soon, after all the stress of current predicaments subsides, I may find the energy to continue writing. Today’s post is just an awkward update. Sorry for that. I’m hoping things get better very soon.

Our First Week with Sundance

Hello all. I realize I haven’t written anything in almost a week. Sorry about that. My mission to lease a horse so I can ride every week met with great success last week and I have been having way too much fun with it; I am starting to wonder if my health insurance covers equine therapy visits. Heaven knows it is doing much more for me (and My family) than any kind of man made antidepressant ever could.

I rode three times last week, on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I visited with Ashlee, the owner of Sundance, on Monday night after picking Heather and Kate up from a ball game at the high school where they had to take pictures for yearbook. The place seemed to be a little far out but in all reality it is only 10 minutes from my house. The owner of the horse is not the owner of the property, but he was there too. His name is Mitchell. I have to say, I feel so fortunate to have found such wonderful people to get back into this with. She is a 20 yr old trick rider and owns three of the horses on site and he is in his 50s and has been around horses his entire life. I know I will be able to learn a lot from them both.

I had to wait until Thursday to ride again but I ended up coming out on Wednesday to see the horses again and talked to Mitch for about an hour. Turns out he has several (10 or so) other horses on site and is a breeder and farrier. I will also probably be able to keep a horse there with him when I decide to buy my own. In all honesty, I’ll probably just end up buying either Sundance (if he becomes available in the next year or two) or one of his as yet untrained horses. No, I’m not crazy, the one I might want is just unbroken right now as he is only 2 years old, but he will be trained by Mitch in another year or so. He’s very small, probably only end up being about 14 hands high, and I think I would like a smaller horse. Mitch says his sire had a very good and gentle head on him, very even tempered, and he will be a good “grade horse” which basically means he isn’t a pure breed, he is a mix breed. This also means that I probably wouldn’t be able to register him. For me though, not wanting to show or compete or breed, this is not such a big deal. An unfancy horse tends to have an equally unfancy price tag.

Thursday’s ride was difficult, almost discouraging. Heather and I went out and Ashlee and Mitch were both there. She helped me saddle and bridle him. He almost wouldn’t go at all for us and when he did walk a bit ended up just heading back toward the barn. It was difficult to get him to obey for me and Heather. Ashlee was of course able to get on and make him to do cartwheels. I blame that on my unfamiliarity and inexperience.I’d say one of the best parts of the afternoon was giving him a bath. I’m sad to say that I’d never given a horse a bath before.

I came out Saturday, fighting the discouragement from Thursday and determined to try again when it would be just me and him, and it was much better. Mitch told me the best way to get him out of that default to the barn mode was to work him out for a good long time around it. If he associated the barn area with work instead of rest and being unsaddled, then he wouldn’t be so anxious to get back to it. He called it reverse psychology and it worked well. I practiced weaving him in and out of some trees and we followed the same course each time. Then I took him through the barn out into the main part of the yard where he was hesitant but a little bit curious too. It was a very educational day and I loved every minute of it. I only rode him for about an hour or so. On our way back to the barn from our short trip out into the main yard, we got stopped by three kittens crossing his path. They were all looking up at him, playing and mewing. He watched for them and waited until they were out of the way before proceeding.

After I unsaddled him, brushed him, gave him his treat apple for a good session, I ended up talking to Mitch for another hour. We leaned on the fence overlooking the pasture with his other horses in it, mostly mares that are intended for the purpose of trail riding. They were all kind of huddled in a big group by the fence. The smallest one came up to me and put his muzzle in my hand. I didn’t have any food for him but he kept rubbing his face in my hand. I kind of fell for him right then. He’s supposed to be black but looks almost brindle from being out in the sun. His hair is black with caramel brown tips. He has a white blaze down his face and his muzzle was a little sunburnt. I petted him for another 10 minutes or so before heading off to work to get some rent checks deposited. As I got in the car my hands were filthy and it made me smile. There’s something so calming about a well earned pair of dirty hands. I know it’s silly, but this will be a novelty to me for a while. When I got home Heather was upset because she hadn’t gotten to go riding that day. I told her we’d go back tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and I waited what seemed like FOREVER for them both to wake up. I made breakfast and took a shower, then we left and got there around 1:30 pm. Sundance was fidgety today. The flies were driving him crazy, then we put the bit in his mouth and due to needing his teeth floated, which should happen fairly soon, he had issues with it the entire time we rode and was being a bit difficult again as he had been on that first day. He kept stopping and heading back to the barn and just being, well, a little stubborn. Mitch and a couple of his friends were cutting down trees in the other field and all the horses were whinnying about it. This may have had a little to do with his apprehension as well. My husband really liked him which was an important goal accomplished for me. I want him to know that when I’m there, I will be taken care of and not in danger.

We had a good time. Heather got to run a little on him when she turned him back toward the gate. We walked out to see my little sweet 2 yr old prospect again but he was way out in the field. When we got to him he wasn’t quite as friendly, maybe a little concerned about Heather and Matt because he’d never seen them before and we were all three out there, so that might have made a difference too. I’m looking forward to building a friendship with this little one over time too. Mitch says he can get started on breaking him if I want. I know it’s probably silly, but I want to call him Skydancer. I was crazy about Rainbow Brite when I was little and my favorite character was a girl called Stormy that was in charge of the winter weather. She had a purple horse with light purple main and tale and a lightening bolt on his forehead and that was his name: Skydancer. Here’s a clip of them giving Rainbow Brite some grief when spring rolls around.

 

Yeah, OK, I probably won’t call him Skydancer, after all, I’m not 8 years old anymore. I don’t know what horse I will end up with. I’m pretty content riding Sundance for now. He’s a good horse, and I’m so very lucky to be able to ride him and let him teach me to ride again. Let’s just hope I can lose some weight with all this moving around so whatever horse I do choose won’t end up sway backed from carrying my big fat butt! 😛 I will post something non-horse related this week… or at least soon. Bye for now!