Monday, August 30, 2010

Time Marches On

I have never been a mother that laments that she can't wait for her kids to move out of the house. We've been blessed with great kids. I've never once wished I didn't have them or wanted them out of the house. That being said...
My oldest son has been living on his own in New York City since his graduation from The Decker School of Nursing at Binghamton University two years ago. It's been hard not seeing him often but I've adjusted. What made it easier for me when he went away to college and then to NYC was the fact that I had another son at home. Then he went away to college in 2008 and lived in the dorm. It wasn't too bad because he is only 30 minutes away. He's now entering his junior year and he and his dorm roommate just moved into their own apartment off campus. He's told me that since his last three months of rent have been paid in advance per the complex he might just stay in the apartment next summer and take some classes. That's a good idea, I'm mean the apt. is paid for and nothing wrong with getting a little ahead with your classes. But for some reason this is hitting me hard. I've been very melancholy and on the verge of tears several times, my shoulders are tight and it feels like something is missing in my life. I think I may have figured it out.
For almost the last 24 years there has been a child in this bedroom. First Kevin for 3 1/2 years then Cameron ever since. Now it's empty. No one lives there.
Cam has always been adventurous and wanted to be out in the world around him.
The bedroom has undergone several re decorations over the years and Cam has shared his bed with two dogs. The bed is actually my childhood bed.

Now that room is empty and I look in the door and it seems so strange to me. My children are adults. Kevin is just 17 days short of 24 and Cameron is 20. Time has flown by so quickly and my role of mother has changed indeed. (Boy is it dirty under that bed)

Now Cam is chilling in his own place where his bedroom is larger than the one he spent 20 years in at home. He has a walk in closet, his own attached bathroom and life is good. Today I've decided to get over myself. I'll let you know how that goes.

My sister's big birthday

Three Sisters
Can you guess our birth order oldest to youngest?
How come I didn't get blond hair?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is This A Trick?


Halloween candy so soon? I started seeing it in the grocery store a few weeks ago. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised since Christmas stuff comes out in October but jeez, the kids aren't even back to school yet. Plus who would buy it this early. It would never last until Halloween. Must be that's their strategy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Are You Kidding?

In June at the end of the school year I received a gift card to Barnes & Noble from my class. It was perfect for me since I love books. In Saturday's paper there was a little article about a book entitled Botanical Drawing in Color. Voila, I found what I'd spend my gift card on. The book was $24.95, I'd only have to spend $4.95 plus tax on it.

Yesterday I was going to head over to B&N to pick up the book. I had a 40% off coupon for Michael's so I could buy some good colored pencils to go with it. But before I left I decided to check Amazon. Their price for the same book? $16.49 a savings of 34% Then I noticed that it was a paperback book. Holy cats, 25 bucks for that?! No way I was buying it at B&N even with a gift card. The total price at Amazon including shipping and tax was $22.12, less than B&N retail price. In the end I didn't get the book from either place. Funny thing was the next time I logged onto the computer this was the front page story on Yahoo.

Ragweed, how I hate you

It looks like I'm going to have to move....
to get away from...

This plant is EVIL. It was put on this Earth to torture millions of innocent people, me included. What purpose does it serve except to make me miserable and stuck inside.
This time of year is notorious for ragweed allergy sufferers since this devil's spawn pollinates in the months of August, September and October. Each plant produces a billion grains of pollen a season. Ragweed likes a wet spring and summer but I don't remember it being so wet this summer, just very hot. Ragweed is wind pollinated so dry windy days are extra deadly. When the humidity reaches 70% and above ragweed pollen clumps and can't become airborne. Hhhmmm, ragweed pollen or humidity, which would I rather have. I'll take humidity for a hundred Alex. There are no areas free of ragweed plants and its pollen. The pollen has been found as far as 300-400 miles out to sea and 2 miles high in the atmosphere.
For some reason this year has been particularly bad for me. I have lost count of the days with itchy and scratchy ears, nose and throat. The thick feeling in my throat along with post nasal drip. The itchy, watery eyes and a new symptom this year; inflammation behind my eyes causing fluid to build up and press against the back of my eyes. I take Zyrtec but am losing the battle this season. Is it any wonder why autumn is my least favorite season and why I can't wait for a killing frost?
So if you don't see me around I'll be looking down
with sympathy from the International Space Station

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The World is a Vampire...

If you watch Whale Wars on Animal Planet you'll recognize
the title of this post and can guess what my topic is.

Whale Wars follows the Sea Shepherd as they try and stop the Japanese from killing whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary located down by Antarctica. This whale sanctuary was established in 1994 with the goal to ban commercial whaling. Twenty three countries agreed to stop whaling there. Japan opposed the sanctuary. They get around this banned activity by saying that they kill whales for research purposes and formed the organization JARPA, Japan's Scientific Whaling Research Program. They have a fleet of six ships, four harpoon ships, a processing ship and a security ship prowling this sanctuary in the name of research.


I abhor whaling. I don't understand why anyone would want to kill one of those gentle giants. As an animal lover I find it reprehensible that these mammals are being slaughtered in our oceans. I suppose you could call me a hypocrite because I'm a meat eater. I enjoy beef, pork, poultry and seafood but I cannot eat veal or lamb. Again call me a hypocrite.


I do understand the whole concept of hunting as long as people are doing it for food and not just sport. In my little corner of the world we'd be over run with white tail deer if not for hunting. Do I eat venison? No. When I see a deer in my backyard looking at me I can't imagine killing such an innocent creature. I'm a huge proponent of animal rights and hate to see and hear about animals being mistreated and abused but as far as a food source, I can't be a vegetarian. I just can't. I eat animals that are raised for human consumption. Does that mean I don't care about animals? No. Call me a hypocrite.
Whales have been hunted for centuries by many nations and yes I understand that it's part of their heritage and culture but most modern day countries have put an end to it. In colonial days the United States did hunt whales. The first ships left Nantucket in 1712 in search for the sperm whale. This was the whale of choice for the spermaceti, a waxy oil found in the large head cavity of this whale. The oil was used for lighting, lubricating oil, candles and the bones were used for household objects and whalebone corsets. Whaling declined in the 1850's with the invention of the oil well. Oil was pumped from under ground, refined into kerosene and other oils which in turned caused a reduction in the demand for whale oil. The U.S. officially stopped whaling in 1940. Some nations still whale today, Japan being one of them. I'll concentrate on Japanese whaling because they seem to be in the public eye more than others.
Japan began hand harpooning whales as early as the 12th century. I'm sure it was very dangerous for the hunters and I'm guessing that sometimes the whale won the battle. Not so today.
These look like some sort of weapon on an air craft carrier but they're not...

they're high powered harpoons used for impaling whales. They have four large hinged barbs behind an explosive harpoon head, are six feet long and 120 pounds of steel. They also use fragmentation harpoons that send shards of metal into the whale's body, severing major nerves and arteries. Believe it or not these don't always do the job.

If the whale is still alive they will shoot it with a high powered rifle. I saw on an episode of Whale Wars a whale being shot multiple times before it finally died.

It's a messy way to kill something and hardly humane.

After the whale is dead it is roped by the fluke and dragged up a slipway into the mother ship, a technique first used by the Japanese in 1925.

Once inside it is butchered and packaged all in the name of "doing research". Now you tell me what kind of research needs to be done on a dead whale that can't be done on a live whale. Supposedly they determine the age and diet of the whale. Baloney! You can find out everything you could ever want to know about all different kinds of whales on the internet.
To give you some background on the modern history of whale meat; after WWII whale was the main source of protein for the citizens of Japan. People couldn't afford beef or pork and whale became a common meal. Today you can find whale meat in restaurants and in cans on the grocery store shelves.

Many people are strongly against the practice a whaling such as Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd. The leader of Sea Shepherd is Paul Watson one of the founders of Greenpeace who splintered off from the group in 1977 due to a rift in ideals. Watson thought they weren't doing enough to save whales and started his own group, Sea Shepherd, a more radical sect. They have two ships, one originally was called the Robert Hunter that was later changed to the Steve Irwin in a fitting tribute of Irwin's commitment and conservation of animals everywhere. Their newest ship is named the Bob Barker; Barker of The Price is Right is a huge supporter of animal rights and donated 5 million to the Sea Shepherd organization to purchase this ship and help with the cost of their helicopter. I don't really think that Sea Shepherd is doing a whole lot to discourage Japanese whaling. They are certainly out numbered and out powered by the Japanese whaling fleet. It seems like they're like a pesky gnat that won't leave them alone but they still get their job done. I admire the passion of these crew members who dedicate their lives to the protection of these beautiful, social creatures.

Check this out for more information on whaling. There's an especially good post dated March 12, 2010 entitled Whaling Business Jolted by Enemy Within
To read more on the Japanese postition of whaling go here.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Gentle Giants

One thing we do frequently while on Cape Cod is go whale watching. I've probably been about six times. We've seen whales each time, sometimes more than others but we've never been disappointed. We went on the Portuguese Princess this past July and it seemed like it might be our first dud of a trip. For the longest time we saw nothing.
Suddenly there she blows!

We saw a mother humpback and her calf swimming along side of the boat. The naturalist on board knew the calf was about 6 months old. Females are pregnant for 11-12 months and give birth in January. At birth the calf is 10-20 feet long and weighs 1-2 tons depending on the size of the mother. Mom provides a thick rich 45%-60% fat milk the consistency of yogurt for her calf and it drinks about 100-130 gallons per day. All that milk causes the calf to put on 100 - 200 pounds a day. Mom and baby stay together until she returns to the breeding grounds but some will follow mom. The males play no role in parenting.

When a whale dives down it leaves a smooth spot on the water surface called a footprint. Humpbacks are mammals and breathe air but can dive for 6-7 minutes and for deep dives be down for 15-30 minutes at a time.

You can tell when the whale is diving, the last thing you see is the fluke (tail) in the air. Researchers can tell different whales apart from each other by the markings on their flukes. The naturalist was able to identify 5 of the 12 whales we saw. There's a data base to check so they can be identified wherever they swim. Male humpbacks grow to 40-48 feet, females grow larger 45-50 feet. Both sexes weigh anywhere between 25-40 tons at maturity and eat one and a half tons of food a day. Humpbacks are baleen whales as they have no teeth unlike the sperm whale who has a mouthful. Male humpback whales sing to attract females for mating.
Want to hear some whale songs? Click here

Our whale watching trip left from Provincetown out on the tip of Cape Cod and headed out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary , an underwater plateau in the Gulf of Maine. This is a popular feeding ground for whales who need to stock up their blubber for their migration trip to warmer waters in the fall.

These videos were taken by my son Cameron on his cell phone. This is three humpback whales that were swimming along the boat when they turned and swam toward us. I'd be lying if I didn't think of that famous quote, "we're gonna need a bigger boat". If you listen carefully you'll hear some one's camera beeping because the battery was dead. That would be mine. If you could have read my mind your ears would burn.

Whales are indeed gentle giants. They communicate with each other, live in a society together, are curious and peaceful. Their only real threat is that of man. The humpback whale is endangered.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Anyone for a giant turkey leg?

My big dog Cody had his surgery on Monday morning for his ruptured ACL. He had to stay in the animal hospital over night and came home late yesterday afternoon. When the doctor got in he found more damage than expected; the cartilage was badly damaged and good bit of arthritis had settled in already. Unfortunately we had to delay the surgery because of the oral surgery he had on July 7. We didn't want that infection to travel.

Yesterday Cody was groggy and pretty much out of it. He has two fentanyl patches on for pain as well as oral pain medication. We went to three different veterinarians before we decided on which surgery to have done. One option was the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, TPLO for short, which involved cutting the bone, a metal plate and screws. The estimate for that was between 3200. - 4200. DOLLARS. On top of the 705. we'd already spent. Not that my dog isn't worth that to me, he's priceless but all three vets said that when one ligament goes the other one follows quite often. I wasn't surprised by that statement because I've had another dog that it happened to, about a year apart. That's a lot of money if it had to be done twice. Our other option was the Estracapsular Stablization (ECR). We came to the conclusion since Cody is about 10 years old, not a working dog or frisbee catching dog, the ECR would be fine for him. The TPLO is like the Lexus of the repair and the ECR is like a loaded Honda Accord. Both are nice cars, get you from point A to B but one is much more expensive than the other. The surgery and treatment we chose was about 2000. total. Again I love my dog and it wasn't just about the money. We couldn't see doing that huge surgery on him.

He came home from the vet with two fashion accessories; a cone for his head so he can't get at the staples and the sling above. While the cone is an annoyance, he hates the sling. He's going to have to get used to it because he needs to use it with his physical therapy. Recovery time start to finish for this operation - four to six months.