Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy birthday old girl!

She was inaugurated on March 31, 1889.

What else happened in 1889?

In January Coca Cola Company was incorporated in Atlanta (it was a different name back then).
In February the Dakotas, Montana and Washington were admitted into the union.
Just two weeks before Dame Eiffel was inaugurated, a German by the name of van Zeppelin patented his "navigable balloon".
In April the George Washington Bridge linking NJ and NYC opened.
In May, Bayer Aspirin was introduced.
In June the Canadian Pacific Railway is completed from coast to coast.
In July the WSJ began publishing.
In August the first ship-to-shore wireless message received in the US.
In September Nintendo company was founded.  It made playing cards.
In October the Moulin Rouge opened in Paris.
In November was the debut of the first jukebox (in San Francisco).
In December a Gilbert & Sullivan play opened in London.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The latest kitty escapade

Yep, I know.  Not a travel story, nor travel photos.  But I think this was funny enough to share.  Funny now, that is.  Not so funny when it happened (Friday).

I have two kitties named Cecily and Ophelia.  They are sisters and I got them as "rescue cats"; someone had left them as wee babies in a box at a veterinary hospital.  Very sweet girls, I love them to bits.

Above:  bravely looking to see what is outside.  They are indoor cats only. 

A few years ago, I discovered that Ophelia had CRF (Chronic Renal Failure).  She has been on a special diet and special meds since that discovery.  Six months after that, we discovered that she also had HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy).  She is now on heart meds.  Young kitty - 7 years old only.  Both diseases are incurable but if you are lucky they are manageable. This will shorten her life, but she is stable and comfortable and has already outlasted what is expected of this combination.

Miss Ophelia, ready for her closeup. 

Very recently we found that her blood pressure was rising, which is a side effect of the kidney issues. 
I can't begin to tell you the experiments with the RXs and the number of vet visits.  She even has a cardiologist! 

One med tried for a while.  Too much, BP too low.  Tried another.  Another vet visit with BP check.  THROUGH THE ROOF high.  Ouch!  I decided to have a home vet visit because it has to be less stressful than collecting her to go to the vet, right?  I wanted a true and correct blood pressure reading, as we felt the vet visit was enough to cause stress and artificially raise her pressure.  This sentence is key to the story. 


The home vet and I plotted carefully what to do.  I should mention here that this kitty is *very* gentle and  friendly but painfully shy.  Were she a person, you'd think of her as a Victorian grand dame.  High maintenance and prone to fainting fits (OK, OK, not fainting, but under stress she will hide and won't come out).  She has an uncanny sense when something is different and if it's time to go to the vet just one look in her direction and it's under the bed. 

Da girls. 

The plan was for me to arrive at home ten minutes before the vet, pretend that "nothing was going on" and once I picked her up I'd put her in my office.  I'd let the vet in the house and Ophelia would be in my office with nowhere to run and hide. 


It was all going perfectly.  I got home from work, did my usual puttering around, kitties followed me.  I casually reached down to pick her up and carried her into my office and closed the door.  She was on alert because the door was closed but sat on my lap purring and preening.  I saw the vet arrive and park and I got up to exit my office.  Ophelia clearly wanted to follow me but I made it out without her.

I let the vet into the house.

I walked upstairs, vet following me (in retrospect I should have asked for her to remain out of sight until I got into the office myself).  I opened the door.  A moment of hesitation and I think my cat saw the vet.  Were it not for that I think I would have been OK.

My cat shot between my legs like a greased eel, and made a beeline for the bedroom adjacent where she likes to hide under the bed.  OH NO OH NO!  I followed her.  She ran all the way under the bed and into the hall.  The vet was still standing there blocking the stairs.  She ran back into the bedroom, wide-eyed and  panicked.  I was there.  She ran back into the hallway and SAILED through the banister and landed on the stairwell.  This was easily a 5 foot jump.  Easily.  She landed and didn't slow down.  She raced through the house and finally his under the couch.  Oh No! 

Before following her downstairs I had the presence of mind to close both bedroom doors but I left the office door open.  We both tried to coax her out, the vet on one side, me on the other.  She ran into the kitchen.  Then she ran upstairs.  I expected this and was very glad the only open door was the office.  Her sister had followed her up the stairs, also very confused.  It was mayhem.  Ophelia ran into the office and under my desk, her sister in hot pursuit but at the last minute Cecily turned around and left the office.  I went in and closed the office door behind me.  MY blood pressure was probably sky high as well!

I finally coaxed her out from under the desk and held her in my lap.  I calmed her down a little and then called the vet to come in.  As soon as she did, Ophelia started wriggling, her eyes bugging out.  Nonetheless the door was closed, les jeux sont faits!

I let her down and she made a beeline for the desk.  I didn't know a cat could become one with a computer tower. 

Ophelia on my deck. 

If you are wondering about her blood pressure, you are on the right track.  After extracting her from the wedge between the wall and the tower, we were able to take her BP.  The funny thing is, after all of that, once we got her out and she realized she was not going to be Kitty a l'orange or Kung Pao Kitty or anything, she calmed right down.  No fighting the cuff, nothing.  She was quite still and in fact I merely petted her as we did this, no holding.  We took 6 readings, each one slightly lower.  Her heart rate was in the normal range as well. 


The funniest comment came from the vet. She said when Ophelia jumped from the hallway, through the banister, to the stairs below, it was "graceful and perfectly executed". 

Ophelia NOT under stress.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jour du Macaron - US Style

Today is the day Pierre Herme in Paris has set aside at the International Macaron Day!  In honor of that I will gobble some macarons.  It is rough, but someone must do it.  I made two pilgrimages yesterday so that I could do this today. 

Yesterday was a busy day for me.  First, the ritual "first pedi of the year" which I always do the weekend spring commences (I give my tootsies a rest all winter, no nail polish)  Now, I have purple toes - and I walked around in flip flops all day yesterday! 

Second:  two separate visits to local macaron purveyors.  This is not easy to find in metro Washington DC.  As it happens, one outlet is near my salon, so before I got the pedi I wandered down to the Wine Cabinet and picked up a box of Michel Patisserie macarons. 

Then, off to Patisserie Poupon on Wisconsin Avenue in DC.  I had to park over 8 blocks away which was great as it was a beautiful day (and indeed, yesterday was the last day of winter wasn't it?).  The flowers that are already blooming are a sight to behold.  Magnolia trees, cherry blossoms in all their pink glory, a wide variety of flowers - not merely pansies - I was amazed at how pretty it all was, this last day of winter.  I only bought a few macarons at the Patisserie.  They didn't seem to have the selection that Michel Patisserie had. 

I couldn't wait for today, I scarfed three of the eight yesterday (lemon, coffee, and raspberry).  Today I have five left, and here are some photos.  I also noted that Michel's had a much better presentation.  The little pebbly green one is the one I bought at Patisserie Poupon.  Not the same effect.  Michel's macarons were also much, much better.  Maybe Patisserie Poupon was having an off day but their macarons looked listless and just weren't all that tasty.  The lemon one wasn't bad, but I am not even sure what the green one was.  Not pistachio as I expected (unless it was so faint as to be undetectable).  Not mint either. 

While the Michel macarons are not quite Laduree or Gerard Mulot quality, they are nonetheless very good and a good compromise when you need a quick fix and are not in the middle of a quick weekend in Paris.   See:

EDIT:  I just bit into Michel's Passionfruit macaron.  Just as good as the ones in Paris!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Day

I don't actually have any photos of St. Patrick's Day parties or people dressed up like leprechauns or whatnot.  So I searched my flickr photos for a few cheery photos which had a lot of green in them.

This one shows grapes before they will be made into wine.  Not exactly an Irish kind of drink but what the heck.

A tulip photo, and how apropos is this - green AND orange!

Green door, in Provence (Isle s/Sorgue) and again, very apropos:

An awful lot of green with an orange Monarch!

And last but not least, oranges which have green leaves of course.  This was taken at Mercato Centrale in Firenze.  Also not Irish.

I did find a few Ireland photos, taken 11 years ago, that might be worth a look here.

This one was taken at a bar somewhere on the west coast.  Probably Galway.  I believe that was the path to the loo.  It does have the requisite beer sign, so you know this is a true St. Patrick's Day post!

This was definitely Galway.


Friday, March 11, 2011

And now, Japan

In Japan, there are five classical elements.  Earth, water, fire, air, and heaven or "void".  Three of them have rebelled today (yesterday in Japan).  Earth, water, and fire.  It wasn't even a month ago and Christchurch suffered a devastating earthquake. And today I woke to the news of Japan's tragedy, of an even worse magnitude. Tsunamis to boot. The nuclear reactors of three plants may be at peril and with them countless more people. 

Thinking of Japan today.  The iris is the symbol of hope.  In the days to come we can hope that they can contain the damage and that there are few aftershocks and that things do not get worse. 

Where will they go from here? 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Small and White, Clean and Bright...

I spent a very rainy Sunday going through photos from last summer.  Dad and I hiked at Schynige Platte and at the end of the hike (or the beginning, depending on which way to decide to go first) is an astounding Alpine garden.  They have Alpine flowers from all various altitudes and care for them so that they thrive despite being "out of their element".  While in the Berner Oberland we managed to spy some Edelweiss, which is a very elusive flower.  We mostly saw it in flower boxes outside some restaurants, but this photo is taken in the garden.  Here is the link to the garden, too.

The sign relates to other flowers near the Edelweiss. 

Blossoms of snow...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Random photos of March past

Other photos taken in early March of previous years...    nothing too exciting or colorful, just random.  Early March is not a particularly colorful time of year but the buds are stirring!  By late March things are picking up... 

2005, Mom and Dad in Florida:

2007, Hilton Head, family and friends:

2008, Savannah, Georgia:

2010, Meadowlark Gardens:

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