Category Archives: Off Topic

Meet Tank, source of much joy and noxious odors

About a month ago we adopted a kitten.  Tank    When we adopted him he was only 3 weeks old and weighed about 12 ounces.  They had named him Tank and we thought name fit him perfectly because Tank has no fear.  Despite his size Tank can take down our 11 month old dog – who outweighs him by 20 pounds – and can climb anything.  I love him, boys love him and even my husband with allergies likes him.

Here is where things get hairy: Tank came to our house and immediately proceeded to go #2 on our off-white carpet.  We noticed that he had the most severe case of the kitty-trots.  The smell cannot be described by written word, you guys just have to experience it personally.  An emergency trip to the vet, tests and specially prepared meds for a small kitten,  prescription kitty food and a week later he still had the trots.  He started using his litter box but with emergency visits to our carpet.

So off we went to the vet again; an overnight stay, lab tests with clean results and a new perscription kitty food later back home we came.  The results are so so at best.  Mr. Tank should be named Mr. Skunk.   My sincere apologies for the way this post is going but I must tell you his gaseous excretions are constant and deadly.  Our carpet is a lost cause, he still has the trots and I am at a loss as to what to do and what to feed him.

I refuse to take Tank back to the shelter as we love him very much and Louis – our dog – has bonded with him as though Tank is one of his litter-mates.  But my sanity and my nose are suffering.  When we have people over you can hear us often say “that was not me!”   I smile while I type this but I assure you this is no joke.  If you are a cat owner and you happen to read this post please share your kitty-wisdom with me.   Many thanks for any suggestions you may have.  One final note on Tank, he is putting on weight and in general seems very healthy.  I leave you with a video of  Tank & Louis at play:

Click here to watch Tank & Louis at play

On a yarn related matter, watch out for a blog give-away next Monday.

Crazy mom

I vacillate between keeping this blog focused only on fiber related matters and writing personal entries.  I have some pending entries as old as the blog.  Maybe one day I will release the hounds, but today I had to post about this:

Some of you may know I have two sons, ages 7 & 5, and they have allergies.  They are life threatening such that we have to carry epipens with us.  These are the kind of allergies that make their lips balloon up and their breathing stop.  They are severely allergic to dairy and all tree nuts.

This summer on a late afternoon I had both of the boys with me as well as one their friends over for a play-date.  My husband was out of town for work so I decided to take the kids to a neighborhood restaurant.  Their grown up food is pretty good too so it was an easy choice.  I just wanted the kids to eat well and have a good time with their friend.  We have been there before – quite a few times – but I did my usual explanation about the kids’ allergies and how their food had to be dairy and nut free, and how these were life-threatening allergies (really, I added, they are serious allergies).

Spaghetti and meatballs came and I noticed that kids’ pasta had cheese on it (I specifically requested that our waitress remind the chef to hold the cheese given the kids’ allergies).  As a result their pasta had to go back.  I hated to do this but the alternative was not acceptable.  Dinners came back, everybody ate and everyone was OK.

At this restaurant kids meals come with soda/juice and desert.  Since the restaurant usually does not have anything that is dairy-free my kids usually have fruit for desert.  This is why I asked our nice waitress for some fruit but she told me they now had fruit-ice, something like sherbet.  Kids were excited and I was happy.  I asked her to please ask the chef and read the label to make sure there was no dairy or nuts in the fruit-ice/sherbet.  She came back and told me that they had checked and all was OK, the desert was definitely dairy and nut free.

So like the idiot that I am I trusted our waitress (and the chef), and ordered fruit-ice for everyone.   Desert came and my kids tasted their sherbert and then half a spoon more and the coughing started.  It was as though their throats were itchy, they kept coughing and making this throat cleaning like sound.  They were also nauseous.  I called our waitress and asked her if she had really read the label and she said she was sure it was all OK.  I paid and we left right away.  I wanted to get the kids home or to the ER to make sure they were OK.

In the car things got worse quickly.  I called the restaurant while driving and doing my best to calm down my 7 year old; he kept coughing, crying and asking me “are we going to die mama, are we?”  At this point I am trying to keep calm but feel like my body is on fire with fear and panic.  I am frightened for my kids and I am angry, both with myself for being such a fool and with the staff at the restaurant for their carelessness.  In the midst of this mayhem I explain the guy on the phone who I am and ask him to get the sherbet container and read the ingredients to me.  After a few beats he starts reading and the 2nd (or may be 3rd) ingredient on the container is milk fat!  Milk fat!!!   Milk fat = dairy.  So easy, so simple, so unbelievable.  I was in shock, I hung up so that I could focus on driving and get some help.

As I said it has been a while and I can write about this in a somewhat calm manner.  Kids are OK and I will spare you the details about the aftermath.  I did call the restaurant and talked to the manager/owner a few days later.  I did not raise my voice, I was not rude, I did not request a refund.  I asked them, pleaded with them, to educate their staff and to take the necessary precautions so that what happened to my kids does not happen to others.  The gentleman on the phone was mostly quiet.  He did not have much to contribute other than a brief apology and a comment about how they had talked to  their staff so that this would not happen again.  He asked how the kids were and I could hear the relief in his voice when I told him that they were OK (problem avoided, they are not dead, yey).  I was not reassured.

We will not be going there again as I don’t believe that the restaurant did much to train their staff on how to properly read food labels and/or how to work with people with allergies (this is what I believe and I admit I am biased).  Maybe I expect too much and we should not take the kids out for food.  I know that I will be asking a lot of questions the next time we take them somewhere and I will ask for ‘the container’ so that I can read the ingredients list myself.  I will be “that crazy mom” and I welcome the title.

Thank you for listening.

Almost there

I am almost done with my 30 posts.  Technically speaking this post should be the last one but I am going to go on until the end of the month just to lock it.  Especially given that I have already given away 1/4 of my promised funds. 

In the interim, I have been doing some research in order to figure out where to donate the remaining amount and some of the information I have found has left me astounded.

By doing simple research online one can learn quite a bit about charitable organizations.  What astounded me was the financial disclosures made by some of these organizations.  Here is an example, a small local charity that has approximately $5M in contributions paid its executive director $140K a year.  That is a 3 percent expense right off the top.  Does that seem high to you too?  Their overall rating is one out of four stars, not surprising. 

While I thought the above example was bad, I found another Seattle charity with annual revenues of $1.7M that paid its executive director $105K.  That is almost 6 percent and here is the kicker this charity had a $130K deficit at the end of the year!  I am blown away.

Please don’t get me wrong, I think these folks should be compensated for the work they do but I think if the organization is running a deficit and the director is being paid 6 figures there may be something wrong.

But then I found that organizations like the above two were in the minority and there is a large pool of great charities out there.  So I am still deciding and I will most likely stick to local charities given that we have limited funds and I think our donations would make the biggest impact with small charities.

And, my friends have thrown down the gauntlet once again.  I have been told if I can do a blog entry everyday for another 11 months they will multiply their pledge by five and then find corporate donors that will match their donation.  While I would love to do this I doubt I have the stamina.  Can you imagine, a readable, somewhat interesting new entry every day for another 11 months.  My head hurts just thinking about it. 

Well, rain is back in Seattle.  But we had a great summer so I am not complaining.  Plus rain makes Deb happy and a happy Deb is a good thing.

Hope to you see here tomorrow.

Pretty soft things & A Request for Help

I have been taking photos of Classic Elite’s Alpaca Sox , which means that I have to handle all the hanks, see the new colors and appreciate the feel.  This is usually when I get in trouble with stash related issues.  This time no such thing.  I did pick a hank and put it away into a basket intended as a house warming gift.  Hah, how is that for not feeling guilty!

And, of course, there are some new colors.  Here is my favorite and it happens to be a solid color.  We call it Velvet Plum and it is lovely.  Velvet like Plum I would rather wear this color near my face so I would most likely opt out of socks and go for a hat or a scarf but that is just me.  Of the new multi-colors I think the Moss-Malachite Deep Mossy Greens & Lapis Blues and Lapis is lovely.  And then there is the rather unique Fall/Winter color line that we have named “Please name this color.”  What is my name?  That concludes the yarn related portion of this post and I go on to the next topic where I ask for your help.  :)

I need to come up with Halloween themed snacks that are healthy and fun for kids.  Minimum baking and cooking would be great.  A smoking bowl full of eyeballs would be lovely but how can I achieve that with healthy food that is actually edible?  Anything gruesome and/or funny and edible would be great.  And one final note, no candy allowed.

Hope you are all well and knitting and crocheting with a smile.  And, hope to see you here tomorrow. 

A Race!

And an early entry.  I have no t-shirts (lol), so with no planning and/or training I signed up for the Alki Beach Run 5K.  Check-in is at 8 AM and the run starts at 9 AM this Sunday morning.  I forgot most of these things start early in the day. 

I plan on “running” a really bad time.  Possibly stopping to chat with people, take photos and get some fish and chips to eat during the race.  If you feel like hanging out with me please sign up and let’s do it together.  It may be fun and the weather is supposed to be good.

I promise to post another entry with much more knitting content.