Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Growing potatoes on my balcony edition

Last year when I made my herb garden, I learned that one could grow potatoes on their balcony. I didn’t get to try it out last year due to travel and balcony power washing that happened, but decided I would do it this summer. Fast forward to the May long weekend – Scott and I set out to buy some seedlings to plant this year’s herb garden and while at the store, I remembered the potato thing! I hadn’t remembered early enough to actually sprout some potatoes on my own, but fortunately one can purchase “potato seeds” (which are little potatoes that have been sprouted).

Potato seeds

Basically, you cut a bit off of the potato, put some dirt in a bag, and bury the potato cut side down.

Potato seed

Cutting the potato seed before planting

Growing potatoes on my balcony

Growing potatoes on my balcony

After about a week, you see the plant sprouting above the surface, and then you dump more dirt on it to cover the sprouts and let it grow another four weeks. And then you have potatoes!

As you can see, my potato plants are sprouting quite nicely:

June 4:

Potato plants are growing!

June 10:

Potatoes

June 14:

IMG_5865

Also, the bag that I bought to grow the potatoes in has am opening, which I’m assuming is to make it easier to harvest the potatoes when they are ready. However, such a bag also doubles as an excellent astronaut costume (as long as it is before you put the dirt in it):

Potato growing bag doubles as a spacesuit!

Since I still had more potato seeds, so I decided to get myself another bag to grow a second batch. But since the space suit potato bag appeared to be made out of the same material as Ikea bags, we decided to just buy an Ikea bag for less than $1 and cut a hole in the bottom of it!

Planted on June 4:

Planting balcony potatoes - second batch

June 10:

Potatoes
June 14:

Potatoes
In addition to growing potatoes, also picked up a bunch of seedlings to make this year’s herb garden1. For the record, this year’s garden consists of:

  • chives
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • marjoram
  • mint
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • tarragon
  • thyme
  • tomatoes
  • jalapeño
  • strawberries

Balcony Herb Garden

First strawberry of the season

Strawberries

Balcony Herb GardenDoes anyone know why this tomato is called a “mortgage lifter?”

Also, while we were picking up seedlings, we discovered that the garden store was selling  cat grass seedlings. And seedlings of variegated cat grass. And cat nip seedlings. So guess who got their own little garden?

Watson & Crick love their new cat garden

You can’t see it in the photos, but the cats are wearing harnesses and leashes because I don’t want them falling off the balcony!

I also toyed with the idea of growing a hipster garden when I saw that you could buy kale, quinoa, and stevia seedlings, but decided that the cost in money, effort, and space on the balcony would outweigh the joke. Of course, if I had, I would have to have bought the “craft” compost:Hipster dirt

Anyhoo, like last year, I’m enjoying having fresh herbs to cook with, as well as enjoying watching the garden grow! And I’m really excited to get to harvest some potatoes!

  1. I didn’t find a way to bring last summer’s herb garden inside, given that my cats would eat it all and that I really don’t have anywhere to put it all, so I had to make a new garden from scratch. []

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Kitty Dentistry

When Watson & Crick went to the vet a few months ago (because Watson had an irritated eye), the vet noted that they both had a fair bit of tartar and some gingivitis, so she recommended a cleaning1, but noted that because February is pet dental health month, I’d get a discount if I brought them in this month. So yesterday we went off to the vet’s office for their first dental cleaning2. In order to do a dental cleaning, cats are put under general anesthetic3. Prior to this visit, I’d had to take Watson in for an ultrasound of his heart, as he has a heart murmur4, but the vet said he was OK to get the general anesthetic.

Happily, both kitties did just fine under the anesthetic, but while Watson just needed the cleaning, poor Crick needed some more extensive work. Apparently one of her front canine teeth5 was fractured! The vet said that it can happen from a cat running around and crashing into stuff or sometimes just from jumping and landing too hard. And Watson does like to chase Crick around, so I could totally see her knocking into something as she was running away from him6 She also had a resorptive lesion in one of her premolars – basically, there was a hole in the enamel that is just asking for bacteria to get in and cause an infection. The lesion was just below the gumline, so you wouldn’t be able to actually see it. Both of the bad teeth were on the same side and the vet said that you could see there was more tartar build up on the opposite side, meaning that she’s been eating her food on that side of her mouth because her bad teeth were probably hurting. So poor Cricky required an extraction of the canine and a crown amputation of the pre-molar.

Since the kitties had been under general anesthetic, they spent a few hours in the vet’s office to recover. Watson had his cleaning first and apparently once he woke up he was distraught and inconsolable until he saw Crick. I’m not sure if he was just scared to be alone in an unfamiliar place while he was feeling all weird from the anesthetic or if he was worried about his sister. He is a scaredy cat, so it was probably the former.

Watson says, The cats each had a different reaction to the anesthetic. Once Watson had calmed down because he could finally see his sister, he had the typical reaction of just wanting to sleep. Crick, on the other hand, was bouncing off the walls. Even when I picked them up, Watson was just chill in his cat carrier on the way home (he usually spends the whole time in his cat carrier crying about the injustice of being in a cat carrier), but Crick was super fidgety. When we got back to the condo, both cats were happy to home, but were very upset with me for not feeding them immediately. They hadn’t eaten since dinner the previous night (since you have to fast before you go under anesthetic because anesthetic can make you barfy) and they weren’t allowed to have food until 8 pm so that all the anesthetic would be out of their system, and we got home around 4 pm. The cats spent a lot of time standing around looking at their empty food dish and then going to the kitchen to stare at the cupboard where I keep their food.

CrickCrick also has drugs she has to take for the next few days. Buprenorphine (an opioid for pain) and metacam (an anti-inflammatory). Her first dose of metacam isn’t until tonight, but she has to take her opioid every 12 hours and she absolutely hates it! I have these little pre-filled syringes that I have to squirt in her mouth, but she tries to keep her mouth shut and hide her head in my lap. I try to tell her it will make her feel better, but she just wants to say no to drugs. Fortunately, I can just squirt the metacam onto her food and apparently it just has a little bit of a sweet taste, so it shouldn’t turn her off the food. The trick will be to watch her eat and make sure that Watson doesn’t try to steal her drugged food!

The good news we got at the vet was that both kitties have lost some weight! Both of them need to lose a few pounds – when we were at the vet a few months ago, Watson weighed 12 lbs and Crick was 14 lbs, so I’ve been making an effort to weigh their food so they aren’t getting too much, to take away leftovers (as Crick would feast on Watson’s leftovers – hence why she weighed 2 more pounds than him), and bring out the laser pointer at least once a day to get them running around. When Scott’s over, he plays with them several times a day with the laser pointer, so that’s helped for sure! Watson has lost more weight as he occasionally chooses to eat a bit less and he chases the laser pointer more. He’s down to 10.8 lbs and Crick is now 13.5 lbs.

Anyway, the kitties both seem to be doing well, so while I’m down $1300 (eep!), at least I know that everyone has a healthy mouth!

  1. And we know that dental health in humans is important to overall physical health, so why wouldn’t it be the same in cats? []
  2. At least their first one since I’ve had them. []
  3. There is one company in Vancouver called Meow Maids that will come to your house and clean your cats’ teeth without putting them under, but when I emailed them they very curtly told me that they don’t travel to New Westminster (because I suppose a 30 minute drive is just insurmountable). And then ignored my follow up email asking if they knew of any other companies that would provide such a service in my area. I know a lot of people love Meow Maids, but I have to say, I was not impressed with their rudeness! []
  4. I was told that Watson had a heart murmur when he had his two week-post adoption check up at a different vet, but at that time there was no need to further investigate it, as we weren’t doing anything else. This time they wanted to check it out before they put him under, but said it was just a few little abnormalities and he should be fine under anesthetic. I honestly have no idea if this kind of thing is just a cash grab, but I couldn’t put him under and not have done the ultrasound, because what if something happened while he was under and I hadn’t done the test first?? []
  5. Does it strike anyone else as funny to think that cats have canine teeth? []
  6. It also made me think of something Cath said about her cat having a messed up tooth: “She was probably trying to eat a brick or something.” []

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My New Bar Cart

Because of the state of the world, I decided I needed a bar cart. Ok, that’s not actually true. I actually decided I needed a bar cart because my friend Amy has an awesome bar cart and I was super jealous and also because I was sick of storing my booze in a broom closet. I’d been looking for one that would meet my needs1 for a while and finally found one that I liked, and then it went on sale for 50% off and so it was totally a sign that I needed to buy it.

Naturally, the kitties were very eager to help me build it:

Kitties helping me build my bar cart

Watson says, “My claws don’t count as a “sharp” instrument, do they?”

Here are the kitties doing a thorough inspection to make sure all the parts were shipped to us:

It was a little complicated to put together – this is clearly not an IKEA piece, but hopefully that means it will actually last a long time! Thankfully, Scott came over to put it together with me!

And here it is in all its splendour:

My new bar cart

The part at the bottom fits my wine collection as well as some short bottles of booze, like Cointreau and Chambord. The cart doesn’t actually even fit all my booze – well, it would if I put some bottles on the top, but I want to make sure that the cats don’t plan to go up there (so far, they haven’t). For the moment, my lesser used boozes are on the top shelf of my broom closest and the other shelves of the broom closest can now store other stuff. Hooray!

To celebrate, some wine may have been enjoyed:

Watson and a wine bottle

Crick is my dinner companion

  1. Translate: one where I am reasonably confident the cats will not knock over all the bottles. Not that my cats knock things over very often (certainly they break stuff much less often than I do), but I feel like if they were to knock anything over, I wouldn’t want it to be bottles of booze. []

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Happy adoptiversary to my kitties!

Three years ago today I adopted my little fuzzballs, Watson & Crick. When I first got them, they were very much people cats, but they’ve gotten even more cuddly and affectionate. Crick started out as a kitty who would like to be curled up next to me on the couch or in the bed, but now she’s a full on lap cat, who will sit on my lap when I watch TV and who more often than not curls up on my chest to go to sleep at night. Watson still likes to sit just out of arm’s reach and meow at you because you are not petting him when you sit on the couch, but now he’s willing to curl up next to me on the couch or the bed and on the weekend he even sat in my lap while I watched two full episode of The High Man in the Crooked Tower! I was in heaven!

In honour of their third adoptiversary, I bought the kitties a cat house that looks like a shark because that’s hilarious. Here’s a video of them checking it out when I first gave it to them:

I like that they politely took turns getting into it. Much unlike their cat tree situation, where Watson inevitably attacks Crick if she sits on any level of the tree, even though he only ever wants to sit on the very top.

So far, Crick seems to like the shark more than Watson, as she spent a fair bit of time hanging out in there:

Cat in a shark

Watson went back in again after that, but quickly got out once I started taking pictures:

Cat in a shark

Happy adoptiversary, my sweeties! You make my life better every day!

Watson on the small cat tree

Crick

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My 21st birthday is old enough to go out drinking

40 anos UniritterSo today I turned 401. It seems pretty hard to believe because I don’t feel a day over 26 and I’m pretty sure I don’t look a day over 35! But the calendar tells me that it was, in fact, 40 years ago that I came into this world. I’m so lucky that it’s 2017 and we have the technology to keep people of my advanced age alive!

Birthday festivities started on Monday when some co-workers surprised me with a birthday cake and diet Pepsi (clearly, my co-workers know me well!). I was lured to this surprise by a meeting invitation, so I showed up ready to talk about the health care IT adoption and instead was greeted with singing and cake! Yesterday, my team took me for a delicious sushi lunch! Last night, birthday wishes started coming in from friends who live in the future (i.e., Australia and Japan), where it was my birthday already.

Today I treated myself by not having to set my alarm, since I have today off. I woke to find a bunch of birthday wishes from my Ontario peeps, who also live in the future (just not as far in the future as Australia or Japan) – including the first ever text that I have received from my mom! I spent a leisurely morning enjoying coffee and some French toast and then did some planning for the birthday party I’m having on the weekend. As per my usual party MO, there will be enough food for at least three times as many people as will actually be at the party.

Right now I have some tradespeople installing some new shower doors on my tub, since the ones I had previously got broken2, so I guess my birthday present to me is that I will no longer have to take showers with a cheap shower curtain duct taped to the frame of the old shower doors. #Adulting The cats are trying to decide if they are more curious or scared by all the noise – Watson has just come out from under the bed, where he’s been since they got here, so I guess curiosity is winning. Crick ran under the bed at first but soon came out to see what was going on, though she’s tending to stay close to me. Ooh, and just as I was typing that last sentence, one of the tradesmen ripped a piece of paper packaging and Watson bolted back to the bedroom!

Tonight I have not one, but *two* hockey games to play, which makes me a happy camper. And my new boy is coming to watch my hockey games, also making me a very happy camper indeed!

All in all, although I am a less than 14 hours into this whole being 40 thing, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as I was thinking it would be – but probably because I still kind of don’t believe it’s true!

Image Credit: Posted by Thainá Gaieski on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

  1. For my American friends, the legal drinking age here in BC is 19, so my math in the title is actually correct. In two years, my 21st birthday could go down to Seattle to go drinking. []
  2. For the record, it was not me who broke them! []

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Happy New Year!

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Blogging at 30,000 ft

The following was written on a plane earlier today.

I’m on my way home from my whirlwind Christmas holidays and realized that I have to do 9 blog postings in the next 2.5 days to achieve my goal of publishing 116 blog postings in 2016. So I figure I better get writing! I have a few year-end blog postings that I typically do that will fill out a number of these, including:

  • Year in Review
  • Items I Knocked Off My List of 101 Things To Do List
  • Books I Read in 2016
  • New Foods and/or Drinks I Made in 2016
  • How Did I Do on My 2016 Goals?
  • Goals for 2017
  • Favourite tweets
  • Nerd Stats 2016

So I just have to write all of those, plus this one, and mission accomplished!

I guess before I get cracking on writing all of those, I can tell you about my whirlwind Christmas holidays! We arrived back at my sister’s after our four days in NYC on the night of Dec 23. Happily, we got in earlier than expected, as we had whizzed through security because we got TSA-Pre clearance so we made it to our gate before the previous fight to Toronto had left and we were able to get three seats on that flight. This meant that we got home before my niece and nephew had gone to bed, so I didn’t have to wait until the next morning to see them!

The next day was Christmas Eve and we woke to pancakes that were made by my nephew, Thomas. He got a cookbook from the school library on the last day of school specifically so he could make those for everyone and they were delicious (I should add that Thomas is 5 and a surprising good cook (and baker) for his age.. with a wee bit of assistance with the stove part). After that, we mostly just lounged around, though I did wrap my presents and about eleventy billion trips were made to the grocery store for various things that we remembered we needed (as the stores would be closed the next day!), each thing being remembered only after the last shopper had returned to the house. I should note that I didn’t make any of those trips because it was cold outside and I am a delicate west coast flower. Christmas Eve dinner was a cornucopia of appies – crackers and breads and spreads and jalapeño poppers and shrimp thingys and chicken fingers and various things wrapped in various pastries and we were all stuff to the gills will deliciousness.

Christmas Day was as Christmas Day should be – awaking early to see what Santa had brought for the kiddies and what everyone had gotten for each other and the biggest winners of the present getting were my niece’s three guinea pigs and my cats. That is not to say that the rest of us were deprived, as we spoiled each other rotten, but the fluffy members of our family got some pretty sweet gifts. My mom made fritattas and a hot potato salad for breakfast (I was supposed to help, but she got up at the crack of dawn while I was still in dreamland1, so my contribution consisted of the sophisticated work of toasting English muffins and crumpets.). My sister made an amazing turkey dinner and for dessert we had individual-sized banoffee pies made by my mother and I (I actually did help make those!) and they might now be on my list of top desserts ever2. There may also have been a PokéWalk3 before dinner for my niece, my nephew, and I, as I figured that I should probably leave the house at least every other day. It was cold, but worth it.

On Boxing Day, we were supposed to go to my Aunt Wendy’s place for an open house, but a combination of icy conditions and that fact that all of us had a pretty nasty cold (that we didn’t really want to give it to the various babies who would be there) kept us away. Boxing Day consisted of lounging, building Lego things, playing various games, and eating our weight in leftovers.

On Dec 27, my mom, sister, and I went to the spa for pedicures (a Christmas present to us from my mom), followed by lunch with my Aunty Eileen and Aunty Lynn. That evening me and Nancy met up with Dr. Dan, Rick, and Rob, another guy we’d all gone to high school with that Dan keeps in regular touch with but who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. We stuffed our faces with Mexican food, drank margaritas the size of our heads4, and then went to another restaurant and stuffed ourselves with more drinks and desserts.

Yesterday Nancy, Jeff, Madeline, Thomas and I went to see Rogue One. I won’t say any spoilers in case you haven’t seen it yet. My mom is not a Star Wars fan, so she stayed back at my sister’s house and made a trip to the bakery, because clearly we hadn’t food shopped enough! That evening, Sarah and Dave and their munchkins came over for dinner. Their munchkins seemed to have a pretty fun time playing with Madeline and Thomas and I had a pretty fun time catching up with Sarah and Dave!

At some point in all of that, Nancy, Jeff, my mom, and I found time to watch the first season (all 10 episodes) of The Man in the High Castle5. Or as we called it “The Man in the High Tower”, “The High Man in the Castle”, “The High Man in the Dark Castle Tower”, and “Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick Holder”6. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out. I can’t wait to watch season 2, which I only just learned existed yesterday.

And now, it what feels like a blink of the eye from when I left, I’m on a plane back home! It’s always so sad to say good-bye to my family, but I am excited to see my kitties. I have a suitcase full of presents for them.

  1. You may notice a trend in this blog posting of my being a lazy SOB on my holidays. []
  2. Alongside chocolate amaretto cheesecake and espresso cupcakes with mascarpone cream. []
  3. Where one goes on a walk for the expressed purpose of catching Pokémon. Yes, I am still playing PokémonGO. []
  4. That may have been just Dr. Dan and I. []
  5. A TV show on Amazon Prime that is based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, in which the Nazis and Japan won WWII and the story is set in a post-war America in which Germany and Japan control the eastern and western parts of North America, respectively. []
  6. For some reason we kept screwing up the name of the show. It started with someone accidentally calling it “The Man in the High Tower”, and then we all started screwing it up like that and it escalated from there. []

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Merry Christmas!

From my two cats who look most unimpressed with a Pikachu in a Christmas hat!

Watson and Pikachu

Crick and Pikachu

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Festive!

I put up the Christmas tree last night!

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It pretty much looks like last year, but if you look closely I have a few new inhabitants, including this S’More who is baking that my Aunty Eileen gave me for Christmas last year:

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This blue house I picked up while I was in St. John’s:
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And this mommy and baby kangaroo that I bought in Australia1:

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And, like last year, the cats are a big fan of sitting on the tree skirt:

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I guess that’s bound to happen when you have a velvet tree skirt! So soft!

  1. I couldn’t find any Christmas tree ornaments when I was in Hong Kong, or I would have gotten one there too. []

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Cats

Crick

Watson