Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Hawaii

You know that thing where you go on vacation and then you come back and not only did all the work that you didn’t do while you were away not get done, but it seems to have made some new friends while you were gone so you now have about eleventy billion emails to deal with and decisions to make and meetings to present at and assignments to grade? That is officially my excuse for why this blog posting about my trip to Hawaii is coming 25 days after we arrived back how!

Anyhoo, I’ve managed to mostly catch up so now I’m just back to my baseline level of crazy busy, plus it is a 4 day weekend, so I have found some time to sit down and tell you all about our trip to Hawaii.  Spoiler alert: it’s amazing and I didn’t want to come home.

Sunday

We arrived in the afternoon on Sunday, after an uneventful flight from YVR to Seattle and another uneventful flight from Seattle to Honolulu. We’d booked our trip through Costco1, as it was the best deal we found, and the package came with transportation to and from the airport. The person greeting us also had leis for all, so here’s a selfie of us at the airport”

Scott and I upon our arrival in Hawaii

In what would become a theme for the trip, after a day of flying, my hair looks like crap.

The rest of Sunday was basically just getting checked into the hotel (the Aston Waikiki Beach hotel) and then wandering around to get the lay of the land. Since we got in around 2pm, which meant we didn’t have much time to see stuff before the sunset because omg, the sun sets early. I knew that Hawaii was near the equator, but I hadn’t really thought about the implications of that in terms of sunrise and sunset – it’s pretty much sun from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm every day, all year long. I’m used to living quite far north of the equator and so my brain thinks summer weather = suns sets at 9 pm, so it was kind of trippy for it to be 27°C and have the sun set at dinner time! Fortunately, it stays warm even after the sunset, so it’s still nice to wander around even after the sun goes down. If you’ve never been to Honolulu, it’s basically just all beach and open air malls, with an ABC store every 12 feet.

Monday

We decided to start the holiday off with a bang by taking a surfing lesson. As long time readers may recall, I have been surfing only two times in my life and had only managed to get to a standing position for about half a second on one of those two surfing days. And that was more than a decade ago. So I figured that an actual surfing lesson, which I didn’t do the last time, was in order. We found a Groupon for lessons through Moku Hawaii Surf Shop, which was close to our hotel, so we decided to take our lessons with them. And I’m happy to report that having a surfing lesson resulted in a much more success in the amount of standing on the surfboard! We had a fantastic instructor named Jennifer, who was the only female instructor we saw in Waikiki. She went over the safety basics and the basics of how to surf, and told us that the hardest part of surfing isn’t getting up on your feet – it’s all about timing – picking the right wave and then figuring out when to start paddling and when to jump up. We headed out to the beach and then Scott and I basically took turns getting some help from Jennifer – she helped us pick a good wave, helped us with timing when to start paddling, gave us a little push to get going, and yelled “up” to let us know when to pop up. Once we got the hang of that, she helped us with timing but without the push (which made me realize how much the push helped!). She also had a GoPro camera that was on my surfboard for the first half of the lesson and on Scott’s surfboard for the second half. She also remembered part way through my time with the Go-Pro to tell me to turn the camera off when I was just walking/paddling back out to the waves, which meant that there were a million photos of me walking/paddling back out from before she told me that, but no photos of Scott like that. We got footage of a few of our runs each, but of course none of my really good runs were captured on video!

Waiting for a good wave:

Beth surfing in Honolulu

Starting to paddle – you have to make sure you get up enough speed before the wave gets there so you can catch the wave:
Beth surfing in Honolulu

Then you have to pop up:

Beth surfing in Honolulu

First up on your knees:

Beth surfing in Honolulu

Then pop up to your feet:

Beth surfing in Honolulu

Then you are surfing like a pro:

Beth surfing in Honolulu

Until you fall off:
Beth surfing in Honolulu

We had an absolute blast! Jennifer said that most people don’t last the full two hours, but Scott and I did. I credit all the hard workouts we did leading up to our trip2.

The water was pretty shallow and the reef was very sharp and what with all the falling off and getting knocked about by the waves, I managed to rip up my foot pretty badly:

My foot got wrecked by the reef when we surfed

It looked worse in person than that photo, if you can believe that.

Also, this picture is awesome:

Beth surfing in Honolulu

After our lesson ended, we spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach. It was at some point on this day that I said “Let’s send for the cats! I want to stay here forever!” Sadly, the reality of not having jobs there or a place to live there or the necessary citizenship to do that quickly quashed my dream, so I had to just make do with 6 more days.

Here’s a video of me surfing (you really only need to watch the first couple of minutes – after that it’s just me sloooooowly walking back out to sea as I didn’t know I was supposed to turn off the camera!):

And here’s Scott – this video actually includes him surfing twice:

Tuesday

We had so much fun surfing that we decided to do it again the next day. Since we’d taken lessons from Moku, we were able to get a discount on renting boards the next day. We were just going to rent for a few hours, but they gave us the whole day, so we spent the day surfing, then lounging on the beach, then surfing, and repeat.

We also tested ou snorkelling gear3 in the hotel pool.

Wednesday

We rented a car for a couple of days because we knew we wanted to check out more of the island – and because I wanted to go swimming with sharks and you have to go to the North Shore to do that. So Wednesday we drove around the island, including stopping by the beach at the Turtle Bay resort to do some snorkelling. The water was pretty murky, but we still managed to see some cool looking fish. Sadly, there were no turtles!

We also managed to find Ted’s Bakery, which my friend Heather had recommended that we check out. They make some pretty fantastic pie:

Ted's Bakery - pies

Thursday

Thursday was the day I’d been waiting for since we’d decided to go to Hawaii – swimming with sharks! When my sister went to Hawaii ages ago, she did this and it sounded so cool that I wanted to do it too! We found a Groupon4 for a trip with North Shore Shark Adventures, but then I discovered that if you book directly with them online, you get the same price as the Groupon, so I just booked directly. The concept is simple – you get on a boat, go out to a place where there are sharks, and then jump in a cage that’s floating off the side of the boat and snorkel while you watch the sharks swim all around you. Apparently the sharks are attracted by the sound of the boat because they go out to an area where people fish for crabs and the sharks have become accustomed to the crab fishers dumping their used bait out of the crab traps there, so the sharks hear a boat and think “dinner time!”5. The sharks in the area are mostly Galapagos sharks, with some sandbar sharks. I totally thought that Great White sharks were common in Hawaii, but the crew told us they are not.

We were supposed to be on a 10 am trip, but we got a call from the company a day before saying that forecast was for really choppy water so they were going to cancel the 10 am trip, but we could go on the 7 am one instead. Despite this meaning we had to get up at like 5 am to make the drive from Waikiki to the North Shore, we decided to do it ‘cuz we really wanted to swim with the sharks!

Here I am on the boat:View from the shark boat

Here’s the cage:

Shark diving cage

And here are some of the freaking sharks, as seen from the deck of the boat:

Sharks!

There were 12 people on the boat who wanted to go in the cage, along with some crew members, and a few people who were just along for the ride. So one group of six went first while the rest of us watched and then the second group of six took a turn after. Here’s the other group after the ropes had been loosened to allow the cage to float a bit away from the boat:

Shark diving cage

While the other group was in the cage, one of the women popped her head up and asked the crew “What’s the little shiny silver shark?” One of the crew members said “Is it about this big [holding his hands about a foot apart] and kind of pointy?” When she replied “Yes”, he said “That’s a barracuda. You should watch out for that. It can get inside cage and it will bite”.

After the first group’s turn was up, we got to go into the cage. I was the first one in our group to get in the cage. It was such a cool experience! The sharks were so beautiful – so graceful swimming by, all around and beneath us. Some of the Galapagos sharks were quite big – the biggest one we saw was probably 10 ft long. I really, really wished I had a Go Pro camera of my own as  it would have been amazing to capture it! I wasn’t scared of the sharks at all – there was no way they could have gotten into our cage and they really seemed pretty docile. I mean, I wouldn’t have wanted to stick my hand in their mouth or anything, but being in the cage felt totally safe. The barracuda showed up while we were in there and honestly, I was more afraid of him, because he could totally have swam into the cage and taken a bite! And he just sat their next to the cage, staring at us with his cold dead eye. I found this photo of a barracuda on Wikipedia and this is just what he looked like:

Great Barracuda close-up, western Puerto Rico

Scary barracuda is scary!

As I mentioned, the water was pretty choppy and eventually it got the better of me and I totally puked from sea sickness right in the cage! So gross! But I did feel better after losing my breakfast, so at least there’s that. (I also found out that several other people also got sea sick while we were in the cage – they were just puking off the side of the boat!) As much as I hate puking, it was totally worth it to see those sharks!

Also, while I didn’t have a Go Pro to capture this, some other random people who did the same dive as us on a different day did and put it up on Youtube. So check out this video and imagine that Scott and I are in that cage, because this is exactly what it was like:

After we finished with the sharks, we decided to head back to Turtle Bay for more snorkelling and lounging on the beach. Still no turtles!

Later that day, we hit the Dole plantation. We decided to go on the aptly named “Pineapple Express” train that goes around the plantation and features a narration that tells you about how the Dole Food Company is the most successful and generous company on the planet, pineapples are the greatest food ever to have existed and probably can cure cancer, and James Drummond Dole could walk on water6.

Tickets fo the Pineapple Express

 

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We did get to see some cool stuff, like how pineapples actually grow on bushes on the ground – I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I’d kind of assumed they grew in trees, like coconuts!

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I also didn’t know that pineapples aren’t native to Hawaii – they were brought there from South America in the 1500s.

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In addition to pineapple, the Dole plantation had a bunch of other stuff – sugar cane, lemons, limes, avocados, cocoa, coffee, coconuts, bananas, etc.

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After we finished our Pineapple Express trip, featuring the musical stylings of a band that was willing to record a song called “Pineapple Express”, we checked out the shop to get some delicious Dole whip, which is basically like ice cream except that it’s made of pineapple instead of cream. I have to admit, it was pretty delicious. We also stayed for a pineapple cutting demonstration, during which the demonstrator took about 20 minutes using a special pineapple cutting knife while repeating “So easy!” over and over and over again. I will admit that it looked pretty cool when she was done, but I don’t think I’ll be adjusting my pineapple cutting ways.

How to cut pineapple

Scott as a pineapple

Scott is a pineapple

After we were full of Dole whip and indoctrinated into the cult of Dole, we decided to try to find a waterfall that you can hike to at the Waimano Public Hunting Area. I was a wee bit concerned to start a hike that starts with a sign that says I might be hunted with a rifle, a shotgun, a handgun, a knife, a spear, and/or a bow and arrow (should I be mistaken for a pig or goat of either sex).

Waimano Public Hunting Area

Also concerning were the angry looking clouds in the sky and, not fancying the idea of driving all the way back to Waikiki in soaking wet clothing, we decided to just snap this pic of us with the scenic background and head back to the car without getting to our destination. I guess this is why they say don’t go chasing waterfalls.

As usual on this trip, my hair is a mess. But I had to fight off sharks and a barracuda earlier that day, so I guess it is to be expected.

Friday

On Friday we jumped on the city bus and headed to hike Diamond Head, which is a 300,000 year old crater.

Diamond Head hike

It’s not a super tough hike, thought these stairs at the top were not my favourite:

Diamond Head hike

but they get you to pretty cool views;

Diamond Head hike

Diamond Head hike

I don’t know what that lighthouse is called, but I’m totally adding it to my upcoming blog posting “Dr. Beth’s Worldwide Lighthouse Tour”7

Diamond Head hike

Since we’d already paid for a day pass for the bus8, we decided to head to the other side of town after our hike and checked out what was going on over there. Highlights included, this turtle who was hanging out in a fake pond by a restaurant:

In a fake pond by a restaurant

these beautiful birds that live at the Hilton:

and possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten:

Possibly the best ice cream I've ever eaten

It was surprisingly difficult to find ice cream in Waikiki. You’d think there would be an ice cream shop on every street corner. But you’d be wrong. We had to go all the way to the other side of Waikiki to find it.

waikiki map

Another reason we had decided to go to that side of town was that every Friday night the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has a fireworks show. So after strolling around to see the various sights and eat the various ice cream that was on the side of town, we strolled over to the beach to watch the fireworks.

Yet again, my hair is craptacular! Given how much time we’d spent in the ocean on this trip, I’d pretty much given up hope that I could do anything with my hair by this point.

We followed up the fireworks display with a meal at Morton’s steakhouse, which was super freaking delicious. We were also somewhat amazed that we could walk into a restaurant on a Friday night without a reservation9.

Saturday

On the advice of my uncle Harry and my friend Sarah, neither of whom have actually been10, we visited the USS Arizona Memorial. The USS Arizona is one of the ships that was sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbour and it still sits where it sank, with the 1,177 who died that day still on the ship. In addition, some of the survivors of the USS Arizona have decided to have the ship as the final resting place of their remains when they subsequently died, making it both a memorial to those who died in the attack and an active military cemetery. When you visit, you first watch a movie about the attack on Pearl Harbour, complete with footage of the attack and some explanation of how and why the attack happened. Then you go on a navy boat to the memorial, which is basically a platform that sits astride the remains of the ship.

USS Arizona

The white structure in the background is the memorial, as seen from our boat as we headed towards the memorial.

 

USS Arizona

Parts of the remains of the ship.

 

Oil still leaks from the USS Arizona

Oil still leaks from the ship, more than 75 years later.

 

USS Arizona

There were some divers going into the water near the ship. I’m not sure what they were doing.

 

Divers at the USS Arizona

Divers in the water near the oil leaks.

 

USS Arizona

Names of the men who died on the USS Arizona are written instead the memorial

It was very sobering to see so many names – 1,177 men died just on this ship, let alone all the others who died in various other parts of Pearl Harbor that day – and to think about how young they all were – just boys, really, and their ship was sinking, and then exploding, before they even knew what happened. Today, there are only five remaining survivors, ranging in age from 94-96 years old.

After the navy boat brought us back, we wandered around a bit to see the other things that were around, like this nuclear torpedo:

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

And read the various signs with more information about the event:

Pearl Harbor

After that, we headed back to Waikiki to do more wandering around, eventually hitting Duke’s for dinner:

Drinks

Delicious drinks at Duke’s

and then stumbling upon a hula show that was going on at the beach:Hulu show on Waikiki Beach

Sunday

Sunday was our last full day on Oahu and we decided to spent it at Hanauma Bay, a beach on a bay that was formed by volcanic activity about 32,000 years ago, It became a very popular tourist destination because of its beautiful beach and amazing marine life, with about 400 different species of fish living there. They state has turned it into a nature preserve and when you first get there you have to watch a movie that basically just says “Don’t touch any of the living creatures, including the coral. Hey, did you know coral is alive? Well, you do now, so don’t touch it!” Then you are allowed to head down the hill to enjoy the beach.

Hanumba Bay was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, which is saying something because I loved pretty much everything about this trip. But the snorkelling here was amazing! The water was so clear and there were so many different kinds of beautiful fish! I was really regretting not having a GoPro while snorkeling here. You can see some of the types of fish that we saw on this Hanauma Bay Education Program Fish Identification Card – ones we saw included Bluespine Unicornfish, Bird Wrasse, Hawaiian Sergeant, female Spotted Boxfish, male Christmas Wrasse, Moorish Idol, many types of Parrotfish and tonnes of Reef Triggerfish and Convict Tang. There was also a giant purple fish that I think was a type of Parrotfish and it was so big that you could actual hear it eating when you were underwater with it!

I found this video on Youtube from someone who had a similar experience – it’s a different colour of fish, but you can see what I mean about hearing the fish eating:

Apparently there are sometimes reef sharks in the bay, but we didn’t see any. I would kind of loved to have seen one because sharks are awesome, but even knowing that there has never been a shark attack in the bay and reef sharks don’t feed on humans, I may have freaked out if I’d actually seen one because OMG SHARK!

We basically spent the whole day there, alternating between snorkelling and lounging on the beach. On one of our later times out snorkelling that day we finally saw the second thing (other than sharks) that I wanted to see in the wild: a turtle! We were just snorkelling around on the opposite side of the bay than we’d been before and Scott called me over to where he was and pointed down into the reef. And there was a beautiful green sea turtle, just swimming around and eating from the reef! Again, I was kicking myself for not having a GoPro! I did find this photo on Flickr of a turtle that looks just like the one we saw:

Sea Turtle @ Hanauma Bay

I spent a bunch of time just swimming around following the turtle – he was just so cute11!

Here’s a video from someone who was smart enough to bring a GoPro with them while snorkelling there (this is pretty much exactly what my day was like, except for the soundtrack):

Also at the beach were a whole bunch of cats, who apparently live, feasting on garbage and having somewhat of an uneasy truce with a bunch of mongooses.

At one point, Scott was petting the kitties and a little kid who was probably three or four years old and had clearly paid attention in the “don’t touch the wildlife” video admonished him “Don’t touch them!!!!!” Of course, not touching the feral cats is probably more of a safety rule for you rather than the cats, but he didn’t end up getting bitten or scratched, so I suppose we’ll call that a win for all.

Monday

And just like that, the trip was over! We got one last morning in Honolulu, where I snapped what is probably the nicest photo I took on the whole trip, and from the restaurant in our hotel, of all places!

View from the restaurant in our hotel

On top of being a super amazing awesome fun time, my trip also allowed me to knock two items off my 101 list: #1 – Cage dive with sharks and #91 – Go to Hawaii. And as soon as I hit publish on this posting, it will put me 1/6th of the way towards achieving my 2018 goal of having “published at least six [blog postings] that are long form  (minimum of 3000 words).”

In conclusion: A++, would Hawaii again.

Image and Video Credits: The barracuda photo is from Wikipedia and the Green Sea Turtle photo posted by FHKE on Flickr with a Creative Commons license. All the other photos are mine or Scott’s. The two surfing videos are mine and Scott’s and for sources of the other videos, follow the links to YouTube.

  1. I’m reasonably sure that I’m slowly drifting towards an entirely Costco-based life. First it was just for food… then clothing… and now travel! []
  2. I told my trainer for January & February to give me a training program that would help me with surfing and/or looking good on the beach. So she gave me some crazy tough workouts and I think it really helped! []
  3. Which we bought at Costco (of course) before we left Vancouver. []
  4. Are you sensing my cheapness? []
  5. Apparently some companies will chum the water to attack sharks, but it’s controversial as it can affect shark behaviour and even lead to sharks equating humans with food, which is not a good thing. []
  6. Honestly, the whole time I kept thinking that the narration should have been done by Troy McClure. []
  7. Note to self: write that blog posting that you’ve been meaning to write since forever called “Dr. Beth’s Worldwide Lighthouse Tour”. []
  8. As a day pass is the same price as going somewhere on the bus and then returning, we decided just to get the pass to get to the hike and back, and then use it to travel around town some more. Because frugality. []
  9. Not something you can really do in Vancouver. []
  10. Though Sarah did plan a visit for her parents when they were in Hawaii and thus was able to give me detailed instructions of how to get there, get tickets, etc. []
  11. I’d also stalked some fish throughout the day – I’d find an interesting looking fish and then just follow it around to see where it would go. It got me wondering what the fish and turtle think about all these snorkelers – do they just think we are some weird looking fish? []

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Happy 4th Cativersary, Watson & Crick!

Can you believe I’ve had my kitties for FOUR YEARS? I totally thought it was just three, but when I went to get the link to the blog posting from when I got them, I saw that it was FOUR YEARS AGO! So I’ve had these little fuzzballs for more than half their lives. Well, if you count in conventional years. If you count in cat years, I’ve not had them that long, because according to the Internets, cat years work like this: their first two years of their life = 25 years, and every year after that = 4 years. When I got them, they were 2.25 people years, which is the equivalent of 26 years old in cat years. And in the 4 people years since then, they’ve only aged 16 cat years. Cat math is weird.

At any rate, every day I’ve had these cats has been the best. They are so loving and so funny, and even though Watson can be an asshole sometimes and Crick will claw the shit out of you if you piss her off, I wouldn’t change a thing about them. Best. Cats. Ever. I mean, look at these guys:

Watson & Crick in bed

Watson

Me & Crick

Watson & Crick

Crick

Watson

WatsonCrick

Crick

Crick

Cat line up

Watson & Crick on a pizza box

I love you, my little muffins!

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NaBloPoMo – Day 18 – Cat Toy Basket

So this is something that I did eleventy billion years ago and never got around to blogging about: I made a fabric basket for the cats’ toys! You may remember that back in the summer, Cath, Steph, and I took a sewing class and learned how to make tote bags. Well, we enjoyed it so much that we went back again the next month and took a class on how to make a fabric basket. I had decided that I wanted to use mine as a toy basket for the kitties’ toys – my cleaning lady always puts all the cat toys into one of the many cardboard boxes I have around the condo (because my condo is heaven for kitties and they love them some cardboard boxes), but I thought it would be nice to have the toys in something nicer than that. So when we got to the class, I originally picked out these fabrics:

Fabric
But then it turned out that the one with the kitties on it wasn’t the right kind of fabric for this project, so I chose a different kitty-based one:

Fabric

I saw that another woman in the class chose the same pink fabric with cat faces on it and I asked her, “Oh, are you making a basket for your cat’s toys too?” and she replied “I am now!”

Anyway, here’s my cat toy basket in all it’s finished glory:

Cat toy basket I made in sewing glass

Haven’t done any other sewing classes since then – I got busy with teaching this semester and Cath was busy with selling her house, buying a new house, and moving. But I really did enjoy it, so perhaps I’ll have a look at what classes are being offered once the course I’m teaching is over. I still really want to do the class to learn how to make zippered pouches.

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NaBloPoMo – Day 17 – Cat Photos!

Went to the gym after work today for the first time in more than two weeks – I’d put my membership on hold for two weeks as I was away for a week in Squamish doing data collection and then away for a week in Washington for a conference – and then I’ve spent most of my evening uploading photos to Flickr because I hadn’t uploaded photos for ages and I have ever so many. Anyway, now it’s nearly 11 pm and I’m still not done uploading photos and my brain is too tired from a hectic week of work to think of anything good to blog about, so instead I give you these pictures of my adorable cats!

Watson

Crick and I Snapchatting to Scott

This is what I see when I open the bathroom door

Watson on the fridge

Crick in a laundry basket

Me & Crick

Watson

Watson & Crick on a pizza box

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NaBloPoMo Day 5 – The Forgotten Suitcase

I’m heading out on a trip to Washington, DC for a conference and since I’ll be there for a week, I decided that I’ll need to take my comically large suitcase and not just my carry-on, because I don’t travel light and I like shoes. The suitcase in question is the purple suitcase that I bought when I was in Ireland to fit the painting that I bought in Ireland – so it’s pretty big. It’s so big that I often get comments on how damn big it is when I travel with it. Plus, if I actually fill it all the way up, it goes over the 50 lb weight limit, so it’s a bit impractical in that sense. Anyway, I went down to my storage locker to get said suitcase and discovered that there was a blue suitcase in my storage locker, in addition to my purple one. It’s a more reasonable sized suitcase and all I could think where, “Where the hell did this suitcase come from?” It had my luggage scale in the front pocket, which I typically bring with me to make sure I don’t go over the 50 lb limit, so that, combined with the fact that it was in my storage locker made me reasonably sure it was mine, but why could I not recall where this suitcase came from?

Then it hit me! I bought it for my trip to Australia last year because my flight between Sydney and Byron Bay had a restriction on the size of checked bags and my comically large purple suitcase wasn’t allowed. Leave it to me to entirely forget that I bought a suitcase – a suitcase, mind you, that I would have looked at every day of my 19 trip to Australia and Hong Kong!

Blue suitcase

Note: any would-be robbers who had designs on robbing my place while I’m away: my big strong boyfriend will be housesitting and cat-sitting. And he’ll be backed up by my two fierce kitties and my three vicious attack frogs!

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Happy 6th Birthday, Watson & Crick

In honour of the sixth birthday of my little fuzzballs, I give you this video of them chasing a laser pointer. I accidentally filmed it in slow motion, which means that the times when they sit and stare at the red dot seem even more absurdly long than in real life, but the parts where they chase and jump are hilarious – I especially love the sound!

The kitties were spoiled today with new toys and some special treats – though I’m not sure any toy can be more appreciated than a box!

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Crick enjoying the new box

Watson in a box

Happy birthday, fuzzballs!

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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, "What up, girl?"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