Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Above, you see four sets of eggs. I have four hens. I don't know which egg belongs to which hen, but it doesn't matter for this bit of egg sleuthing.

I have trouble with blood/meat spots in my eggs.
Until yesterday, I didn't know if it was one hen, or two, or all four, that laid eggs with spots.
In our family, we know that the spots are harmless.

The spots are not:
*a sign of salmonella contamination
*the early stages of a chick being formed
*dangerous for consumption

What the spots are:
*a sign that the hen(s) have a broken capillary somewhere in the egg making structures of her body.
*completely edible

But why do folks care about the spots.
I thought about it the other day. Goodness knows most of the folks I know eat their steaks medium rare--blood running all over their plates. Sushi is all the rage, most of it prepared with raw fish.

So why the aversion to a spot in an egg?
I think it's because most folks are used to eggs being two colors.
A very pale yellow and white (clear). Red is not supposed to be a part of the color spectrum in eggs.

My honest opinion is that folks think that spot can only be one thing---a chick embryo. No one is eating a chick embryo. Not even me. I can see the aversion to that spot.

However, many folks that have never read anything about chickens or eggs, also assume that it takes a rooster to make a hen lay eggs. It no more takes a rooster for a hen to lay eggs, than it does a man to make a woman ovulate. Every single hen that lays eggs for mass production in the grocery store has never even seen a rooster.

If you've read this far, you're wondering if I'm okay with spots in my eggs, why do I care.
Well, we have new neighbors.
I really wanted to gift them with a dozen eggs.
I didn't want to give them a bunch of spotty eggs. They're from New York. Manhattan to be exact.
So, I collected eggs for two days from all my hens.
I broke one egg from each hen ( id'd by color, size, shape). I was hoping that at least one of my hens could be counted on to be laying spot free eggs.

Egg #1. Spot.

Egg #2. Spots.

Egg #3. Spots.

Egg #4.
I got all excited because the egg on the left was spotless. I broke open it's sister egg (egg from the same chicken, laid the day before) and it had spots.

Shoot! All four hens are laying eggs with spots!
There is no known cause for this. None of my hens is sick. They just lay creepy eggs.

I will say that I made some wonderful cookies for the new neighbors with those very eggs. I wasn't sure how friendly they'd be, as I've heard that folks from NYC aren't prone to friendliness. Boy was I wrong! Sweet young couple with two adorable kids, a golden retriever and a cat. They are actors and now producers. They moved here from NY to be closer to her family. Austin is a movie sort of town, and much closer to Los Angeles.

Maybe I'll take them some eggs anyway. I'll just give them a biology lesson. Once they taste them, they'll never be able to eat grocery store eggs again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Office Assistant Assesses the Situation

Hobbes: Hhmm, it does seem to be making a funny noise. Have you checked the manual?
Me: No. It's making a funny clicking sound when I hit "print"?
There's a manual?
Hobbes: (quiet grumbling) Sounds like a paper jam.

Hobbes: Let me take a closer look. What does the printer icon say on your computer screen?
Me: What printer icon?
Hobbes: (long sigh), it looks like a tiny printer. It's in the lower right-hand corner on the bottom of the computer---it's on the dock.
Me: What's a dock?
Hobbes: ((((much longer sigh))))

Hobbes: Okay, I hit clear. Try printing again.
Me: Okay.
Printer: Clickety, Clackity, Clickety, Clack, Clack, Clack........
Me: Maybe try turning it off and then on again. That works with the set-top box on the television when it's acting up.
Hobbes: ((Rolls Eyes))

Hobbes: I'm certain it's a paper jam. I can't fix it without opposable thumbs. I can guide you through fixing it, but only if you don't ask ANY questions. In fact, no talking at all.
Me: Ok. Thank you.
Hobbes: I said no talking.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Which McDonald's is Serving McFood Once Again

I eat at McDonald's about twice a year. Each time, it's because I'm ravenously hungry and know what to expect.
I've seen pictures and expose's on YouTube and Facebook about McDonald's food.
A hamburger and fries that sit out for months and don't ever go bad.
I know from Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, that Chicken McNuggets have 38 ingredients.
Only one of which is chicken.

So why was I taken in by the prospect of "juicy pieces of white meat chicken breast"?

I was having a craving for fried chicken yesterday.
Real fried chicken.
Fried by someone else because I haven't mastered it myself and I hate cleaning up afterward.
The last place I ate real fried chicken was in New Orleans.
Best. Fried. Chicken. Ever!

Today was one of those ravenously hungry days and there was McDonalds, right in my grocery store parking lot.
McD's has had a cluster-bomb ad campaign regarding their new and "only available for a short time" Chicken McBites.
The commercial has a picture of their product, similar to the one you see below.
What you don't see in the commercial, is that only 3 out of the whole box look like that.

About a 1 to 1 ratio of chicken and breading.
Tasty enough, I guess.
Isn't fried chicken, but I knew that going in.

Here, a 3:1 ratio of breading to chicken.

I broke this one in half to show you the tiny center of the McBite. The whole thing was as big as a dried apricot, but only had a wee bit of chicken. Ratio, 4:1.

Here, there is only a sliver of chicken. It's hardly recognizable.
Ratio 10:1.

I'm guessing their definition of "lightly breaded" and mine are wildly different.
After I ate about 5 pieces, I decided to sacrifice the rest and separate the breading from the chicken to show just how little chicken is actually in the McBites.
Wasn't happening.
The breading and the chicken were somehow fused together.
Not sure I want to know how.

So, in conclusion.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
I should have known better.

PS...The fries were marginal too. Maybe next time I'm ravenous, I should just wait it out and eat a banana at home.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thundershirt Update

The good news is, we got some rain.
A lot of rain---2.5 inches!

The bad news is, Smokie is among the 20% of dogs for whom the Thundershirt does not work.
She still got on my bed, above my head, next to the headboard.
She weighs 55 lbs.
She doesn't really fit above my head next to the headboard.
She decided that wasn't safe enough and hid in Lee's closet on top of shoes and hangers and a jumprope.

I think my next step is some form of doggie herbal sedative.

So to recap:
Rain good.
Thundershirt bad.
100% money back guarantee, great!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Will It Work--Thundershirt?

Smokie is 5 years old.
She used to be fearless.
Nothing bothered her.
Now she spends too much of her day hiding under James' bed.

Once she hit about 3 years old, she started getting sketchy about thunderstorms.
Then she found that explosive sneezing (hello Lee) was a little more than she could handle.
Following that, it was the placing of a trashbag into the trashcan that sent her running.
Lately, it's the sound of large trucks outside that put her under James' bed.
The vacuum cleaner has always been her undoing.

Because we've been under a severe drought, Smokie at least got a reprieve from thunderstorms.
According to the weather predicting folk, we're still under a drought. We have gotten wave after wave of lovely, soaking rains this winter. Don't know what the weather-guessers have to say about it, but it means one thing---thunder.

A few weeks ago, a large, noisy storm blew in the middle of the night.
Smokie lost her mind.
My bed is exactly 6 inches off the ground.
She got UNDER it.

The next storm came and I gave her Benedryl ahead of time.
Didn't touch her terror.
She hid behind the toilet.

Yesterday, I gave in to advertising and bought a Thundershirt.
It's supposed to provide calming relief for dogs that are afraid of just about everything.
Something about pressure points and swaddling.
Beats me.
At $40 and a money-back guarantee (45 days), I decided to give it a go.
It's supposed to rain today.

I'll let you know how it works.

First I have to convince her that the sound of velcro won't kill her.
Yes, velcro is how the thing goes on/off.

Wish us luck.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Boy and a Girl

Nathan Cox
In June, this boy (ND), our nephew, will marry this girl (JH).
They have graciously invited us to share in their joy and celebration.
I absolutely cannot wait.
Well, I'll have to wait, but I don't want to.

This boy, I have known since he was tiny.
Since he was cute and sweet and had devilish temper tantrums.

I haven't met this girl.
I've heard wonderful things about her.
I can tell she makes this boy, wildly happy.
That's good enough for me.

I was thinking the other day, what an amazing blessing it is for her to be marrying into this family. They love each other. Her in-laws (in-loves, as I call them) love her. They think she hung the moon. This whole family, that I was blessed to marry into myself, is fabulous! How many folks can say that? How many folks can love and be loved so much by their in-laws?
Not many, I'd guess.

Anyway, this girl, is from the Portland area. Her family and most especially her father, are still there. She and this boy are getting married in Oregon, even though they live in Missouri.
I grew up in Missouri. Been there, done that.
I've never been to Oregon.

A wedding and a vacation all in one trip.
I haven't hit this jackpot since my own niece got married to her beloved in Hawaii, where they lived at the time.

So, let me share my excitement with you!
The wedding will be at the Otter Crest Inn.
The vacation will be the Oregon coast with many other points of visit.
Lee is going to try to swing a visit to the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton. Luckily, he knows some folks that know some folks. Touring Nike isn't normally allowed.
The rest of the trip has yet to be determined

property map
Map of the grounds at Otter Crest

inn at otter crest
View of the Otter Crest Inn.

Harbor Seals
Pearl will be in heaven!

A friendly local.
Gull on balconyNature trail
A walking path in old growth forests.

Tide Pools
Tidal pools!
We won't be anywhere near our room during low tide.

A view to the North. Stunning!

otter crest beachSunset on the beach

The beach.
I'd venture to guess no one will be getting in the water.
I think the water temperature is in the 50s.
I know the average high temperature during June is 65*

Living room area
A room we'll probably seldom be in.

Crashing Surf
I can't wait to hear the sound of the waves crashing!

balcony view
A great place to watch the sunset with family and friends.

A beautiful place to begin a new life together.
This boy and this girl have lovingly invited us to witness this beginning.
Can't wait!
Otter Crest Beach

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Breeding Low-Rider Cats

In my previous post, I gave all the hairy details about the dumping of and rescuing a stray cat.
He is now neutered, immunized, de-parsitized, and been given a clean bill of health.
That day at the cat spa (where I told him he was going) set me back $110.
All so there wouldn't be umpty more kittens born this year.

I listed him in the lost/found section of Craig's List and immediately got a hit from a woman who unknowingly gave me the information I needed to find out more about her.
Good thing, too.
She's a cat breeder AND a dog breeder.

Her website says she only breeds a few times a year. She has 3 female cats and 2 male cats.

Kittens will run you $200-$300 a piece.

Mutt puppies (Sheltie-Corgie X) will put you back $400!
The dog breeding thing is just stupid, and fodder for another post.

What's so special about the kittens, though?

This is what's so special about the kittens.
They're low-rider cats.
Not my word. The word of the folks that name breeds of cats.

Here's the low-down (pun intended) on
Munchkin cats.

Evidently, they are fairly free of problems relating to their unusual body shape.
Geneticists say they are no different from Bassett Hounds, Dachshunds or Corgies---meaning they don't suffer from dwarfism.
In fact, they don't suffer from spinal troubles the way the dogs do.

Aside from the fact that the lady is a breeder, what's my beef with her?
Punett's Squares are what's wrong.

Remember Punett's Squares from Biology class?
Here's a key for todays lesson:

"m" equals a normal cat, like most of us have.
"M" equals a munchkin short-legged cat.
Remember, each animal on the planet imparts 2 genes to each offspring.

The top two letters in the square are one parent's genetic (
Mm) ability to produce kittens and the left side is the other parent (Mm).
In the Square below, both parents are short-legged cats, but have the ability to produce a long-legged variety.
Stay with me.

Mating two standard munchkins:

A litter with two munchkin-looking parents, Mm x Mm, have the chance of producing these kittens:
50% (Mm)-short-legged, 25% (mm)- normal looking cat, and 25% (MM) non-viable--meaning DEAD!

1 normal looking kitten.
2 Munchkin kittens
1 dead kitten

If you're still with me, you might be wondering why
this woman
was interested in my normal size stray kitty?
I honestly have no idea.

If she bred him to one of her munckins, she'd end up
2 normal looking kittens (mm)
2 Munchkin kittens (Mm)

Which makes her life easier?

Having a litter of four kittens,
two short-legged (@$200-$300 apiece),
one regular size kitten that she probably has to
try to give away
and one dead kitten.


Having a litter of 4 kittens,
two short-leggeds
and two regular kittens (which she'll need to get rid of).

My guess is that she'll go with the first litter.
I can't get rid of my one stray cat.
How can she get rid of two regular size kittens
from each litter she has?

So, Biology lesson away.

Playing Russian Roulette with kitty genetics seems like a
horrible way to
make a buck.
Needless to say, I didn't respond to the breeders email.