Monday, April 27, 2009

Virus humor

Ron tried to tell me the other night that, because we live on this island, we should be safe from swine flu.  Right.  I passed this jewel of wisdom onto my mom, who added, "And it's not like you have any pigs there."  I laughed so hard I almost soiled myself.  That mom.  When she's on, she's on.

Speaking of pigs, I saw a woman on the side of the road the other day, almost to Hilo.  She was leaning against the door of her car, photographing three young, black pigs as they browsed through the foliage that grows thick and lush along the meridian between the north and southbound directions of the highway.  I've seen these little guys several times.  They won't stay little for long.  Anyway, this gal had one bodacious lens.  It was wildlife photography, Hawaiian style.

I ventured up into the vog to the gym today, unsure of how much energy I might have after my recent bout with whatever it's been.  Not bad.  Half and hour on the elliptical, half an hour of weights, a little stretching.  That was enough.  Stomach's a little tumbly, but OK.  Sadly, the vog followed me home.

I've got some fiction to polish, so I'll keep this short.  

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quest for ginger ale proves challenging

Last night, Ron was kind enough to make a quick run to the market to pick up some more ginger ale.  Ours was nearly gone and what we had left in the big bottle had lost its bubbles.  Flat ginger ale just doesn't cut it.  It was about eight minutes 'til six, so he busted on down to Hirano Store, near the end of our road,  plenty of time to make it before they close at 6:00 p.m.  He got there.  No ginger ale.  In fact, when he asked, they looked at him like he'd just sprouted a horn in the middle of his forehead.  Guess there's not much call for ginger ale here.  So, he headed on down the road, not to the next store at Mt. View (their prices are extortion) but the next, J. Hara.  Again, he couldn't find it, so he asked.  
"Just a second," said the clerk, who disappeared behind the beverage storage door for a moment.  A different clerk appeared. 
"I can help you," she said.  "Right over here." She proceeds to lead him to the freezer section.  "We have four kinds," she brags a little, pointing into the freezer.
"Four kinds of ginger ale?" he's bewildered.
"Oh," she says, "I thought you were looking for D'Giorno."
"Ginger ale," he repeats.
"No, we don't have that."
So on he goes, all the way to Kea'au, to Puna Fresh Foods, a much larger store.  There it was, right there in the green bottles.  Yay!  D'Giorno.... sheesh!  When he got home an hour later, I suggested he could have just picked up a can of 7Up or Sprite.  That would have been fine.  
"No, when you're sick, it's got to be ginger ale."  True dat.

This morning, I thought I had snapped the top of the creamer bottle Ron left open on the counter.  I began to shake it.  The experience inspired this re-write of the old Supertramp song, Dreamer:

Now I'm wearing creeeeeamer,
Thought I had the top fully snapped-oh no!
I say, creeeeeeamer,
Now I'm doused in creeeeeamer,
Didn't have the top fully snapped, oh boy!

It also reminded me a bit of that classic Def Leppard tune, Pour Some Sugar On Me:
I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet yeah!

I know the hot part is a stretch, but the rest applies.

Gotta go walk the dogs before it rains.  Hopps is doing much better, though I walk her separately, since she moves along slowly.  We plod, and she gets to stop and sniff whatever she wants for as long as she likes.  Doc, on the other hand, likes to motor.  He sniffs but never dottles, on a mission to move on to the next interesting part of the road.  

A hui hou.  Aloha!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Search and seizure

The latest developments in Hoppsy's health are good and not so good.  The good is that she can now negotiate the back lanai stairs by herself to go potty.  She still slips easily on the hardwood and has trouble orienting the feet on her left side, but her mobility has improved.  The not so good is that Friday night she had a massive seizure.  Right.  Not so good at all.  She had two on Saturday night.  So a quick call to the vet on Sunday got us a prescription for Diazepam (aka Valium) which is used to both stop and prevent seizures.  You wouldn't believe the hoops you have to go through to pick up that prescription, it being a controlled substance and all.  Sign in blood, names of nearest kin, physical address... OK, I'm exaggerating a little.  But it's more than picking up a scrip for Advair, I can tell you that. Long term, there are probably better anti-seizure meds out there, but in a pinch, this works well. I'll just give it to her at night, since that's prime time for her seizures right now, and just for a few days until the vet has another solution.  Last night, she rested well and was seizure free.  She rested well, so I rested well. Poor baby.  We had seizure trouble with Crawford in her final months, so we're familiar and know what to do when it happens.  Still, it's no fun at all.

The rain has subsided (mostly) and been replaced by warm, sticky air, high cloud cover and occasional vog.  I took a cruise down to J. Hara store the other day and, as I was descending the hill, saw the road disappear into sulfur-dioxide obscurity before me, thick, brown-tinted fog the likes of which Steven King could have a field day.  I imagined some multi-tentacled creature lurking in there, ready to wrap it's sticky arm around my car and pull me into its lair. Crunch outside with a soft, meaty center (that would be me).  Yikes!  I turned around.  It occurred to me, after all, that I can get two large Coronas at Hirano Store, closer to home with no need to venture into the smokey unknown.   

Winnie (above) says, "Aaaaa hui hou!  Aaaaaaa-loha!
A hui hou.  Aloha!  

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hopps is better, air is worse

OK, so you know how I was bragging about the beautiful day in my last blog entry?  Well I'm afraid I must retract that.  It was nice that morning until about 10:00, then it started pouring.  It's been raining ever since.  In fact, it's been since January.  December maybe.  Who knows.  It's been raining forever.

I took Hoppsy to an orthopedic dude over in Kona on Wednesday.  Coincidentally, he once worked at the clinic in Englewood, Colo. where Doc the Doctor Dog had his shoulder fixed.  Besides the trauma of a three-hour car ride, she did pretty well.  I was fully prepared for her to undergo what's called a myelogram, a procedure that requires general anesthesia, in which die is injected into the spinal chord, then X-rayed to see where there might be a blockage of neural transmission.  After examining her, however, the vet decided that the procedure would not likely show us anything definitive.  What we really need is a CT scan.  He's trying to get one of the local hospitals to let him use theirs.  Meanwhile, he's doubled her dosage of prednisone and prescribed a pain med compatible with steroids.  The higher dose makes her insatiably thirsty. This in turn generates an excess and urgent need to pee.  It's called polyuresis, or something like that. The drugs also make her a bit spacey, so she gets up, drinks gobs of water, walks a few wobbly steps, then pees wherever, thinking she's gone far enough to be outside.   Needless to say, we're doing lots of laundry, washing rags and rugs and towels.  The vet wants to keep her on the high dose for three days, then taper off.  He says these are common side effects of the medicine and we just have to tolerate it for a few days.  No biggie.  After what we went through with Crawford, I'm not a bit squeamish about any canine excretions or fluids.  Poop?  Pee?  Drool?  Bring it on!  

Today is her second on the high-powered anti-inflammatory and she is actually doing a little better.  I would have been happy to report that she was no worse, since every day for the past week she's gotten tippier.  Today, she's actually gone down the back steps several times on her own to pee outside and is better able to get herself both down and up from the floor.  Still, she's panting, unsettled, somewhat spacey.  I get that, having spent four icky days on prednisone myself last fall for asthma.  One more day at full strength, then we can back off a bit to a dosage with fewer, or weaker, side effects.  Poor baby girl.  She is frustrated with all this.  It's come on so suddenly and she has always been such a busy, active girl.  

It rained all day.  Now, the wind has stalled and the vog has quickly settled in. While the nasty air bothers me, Abner here remains unfazed.  Ron says it's survival of the fittest.  I say the fittest are those with enough cash to get the hell out of here.  He actually laughed.  That's progress.  

A hui hou (hack, hack, choke, caugh, gag). Aloha!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A little sunshine, happy critters, one gimpy girl

Great news!  The sun is out, shining like the burning ball of radiation that it is.  Harley, for one, is loving it!

Terrible news.  A home highlighting project attempted Friday morning has gone horribly wrong.  I've got this Bozo the Clown meets Bride of Frankenstein thing going on there.  Not good. Hats.  Now that's an invention I can get behind.  Where do I send my money? 

My poor little Hoppsy is struggling these days.  She's had shaky back legs for months.  Years even.  They've never bothered her.  Vet couldn't find anything wrong.  Now, her back legs are stiff when she walks.  Worse is what's happened in the past few days to her front legs.  About a month ago, she developed a stutter step.  We thought she was doing this to adjust to the weird gait of her back legs.  Now, however, her front left paw is dragging slightly on the ground and occasionally knuckling over, tripping her.  This just started.  We were at the vet last Wednesday hoping for a definitive diagnosis of arthritis, which we didn't get.  She started taking prednisone, with the hope that whatever was pressing on whatever was due to inflammation and would shrink to improve her symptoms.  No change.  In fact, she's noticeably worse.  So now this new dragging/knuckling development will have us back at the vet tomorrow morning.  I'm not sure how much they'll be able to learn.  There is no MRI for dogs in the state, although the vet did say on Wednesday there's a Hospital on O'ahu that has recently been accepting pets.  That, however, would require a plane ride.  I've done lots of research on what might be causing this and none of it is good.  It's likely emanating from her Brachial plexus, cervical spine or cerebellum, with the likelihood of a tumor in either of those locations.  Of course, I'm just a layperson with a computer doing medical research (a very dangerous beast), so I really have no clue.  Could be a benign tumor.  The would be the best case scenario.  Still, she's hanging in there, as they all do.  She's my girl.  And she still chows down like there's no tomorrow, gooses the kitties, licks their faces after they eat and tries to steal their food, takes her brother chewy bones and loves me more than anything or anyone in the world, so that's heartening.  Here, Hoppsy and Doc pose for the camera.  Actually, they think I have a biscuit for them.  I don't know why.

Speaking of things heartening, I happened upon a website for an amazing place in Montana called Rolling Dog Ranch.  Check it out.  Watch the video.  They take in disabled and handicapped dogs, cats and horses, then care for them for life if needed. So awesome and inspiring.  Someday, I'll send them a big, fat check.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A day about town

King Kameha was looking particularly regal today, don't you think?

I saw a great bumper sticker out and about this morning.  It said, "Don't believe everything you think." Something to ponder, eh?

Hoppsy and I returned to the vet for some X-rays and hope for some definitive answers to why she is walking so oddly.  Her gait is all out 'o wack.  It's as though her back legs have only one slow, stiff speed and her front legs must stutter to maintain the pace.  It also seems that her hips or lower back are sore, since she now hates when I try to feel anything back there or massage her.  X-rays were, unfortunately, inconclusive.  She has an arthritic spur on one of her vertebrae which could be the cause, but only slight signs of any arthritis anywhere else.  So, we're trying some prednisone (yuck!) for a few days to see if she responds.  It's a powerful drug, not to be taken lightly with nasty side effects if taken long term.  I took it for four days to get control of my asthma last fall.  Hated it.  Hope she tolerates it better than I did and it helps shrink whatever swelling she has.  The vet also found one of her many lumps to be suspicious, so a biopsy was taken and sent to a lab.

While Hoppsy was being radiated, I went to the farmer's market to pick up some local honey, a couple of chicken musubis, some papayas, bread and best of all, Kamuela Strawberries.  They are excellent, almost as good as those I grew up with in Oregon.  Today, the berries you buy in the market are much like the tomatoes, their flavor pale and watery.  These taste like strawberries.  I think they're growing one of the older varieties here, not the new-fangled, hybridized berries they grow nowadays, bio engineered for extra yield but failing to resemble good, old strawberries in all ways but color and shape.  It's amazing to me that they grow so well here.

Tonight, grilled cheese with tomato soup.  It really doesn't get much better than that.  Not on our budget, anyway.

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Yes, it's possible to be too nice

Yesterday at the winery, I made the mistake of telling a woman how cute her granddaughter was, how adorably precocious, what a great kid.  The youngster was a delight.  She and I enjoyed talking about Hanna Montana and singing B-I-N-G-O.  The grandmother was understandably proud, but once the topic of the youngster was exhausted, she launched into her own diatribe.  Now I'll admit she was a very nice lady.  But the moment I opened the door to conversation, she burst through it like a levy break, her life story gushing forth, a torrent unleashed.  She relived a tragic injury of years ago, elaborated on the gory details of a long and painful recovery, told me how her children coped, enunciated specifics about each and every family member, how often she visits them and for exactly how long, the divorce, she's a writer(isn't everybody?), loves where she lives, doesn't need much money but has all she needs to visit her children and grandchildren whenever she wants, yada yada yada yada yada...... 
'I'm not lonely," she said (oh really?), somewhere in the middle, after which she went on to describe a hermit-like existence in the rainforest, describing every board foot of her odd, little hovel, how it was all so perfect, yada yada yada yada and more yada.  Finally, she left. I walked to the back room.  I must have looked like I'd just been hit with a stun gun on full power, eyes bugging, nostrils flared, tongue hanging out. (OK that's a teensy exaggeration.)  My co-workers gawked.
"My ears hurt.  I think they're bleeding," I said.  That drew some hearty chuckles.

Today, Ron relinquished various bodily fluids in the interest of advancing medical science at a local medical lab.  Then, we high tailed it to I-Hop for some grub.  I had a short stack of some alternative, high fiber, low fat healthy pancakes, with nuts, whole grains, seeds, twigs and other crunchy debris.  Sure, I was skeptical, but they were very good.    Of course, these colon blow flap jacks were served with butter and whipped cream. You can put butter and whipped cream on a 2x4 and it will taste delicious.  Actually, the menu calls it, "whipped topping," whatever that is.  I mostly skipped that, opting for the maple-flavored syrup.  I doubt I-Hop serves the real deal, straight from the tree spigots in Vermont.  Still, it all made for a mighty tasty combination.  Oh, and the coffee was great.

Today is Friday, a weekday, but you'd never have known that with the traffic and crowds we battled in town.  Sheer madness, I tell you. Like Christmas during the Clinton Administration.  Bumper to bumper, wall to wall.  Good thing we fortified our systems with carbs and caffeine.  Now, I'm zonked.  Tomorrow's another day at the wine factory.  Another day, another dollar.  Actually, it's another day, another $56, before taxes, not including tips.  Hardly worth the aching legs and sore feet.  I'm filling in for a co-worker who's going with two other associates to the Kona Chocolate Festival.  What's wrong with this picture? I'm too nice, I tell ya. It's a curse I've born my whole life.

A hui hou.  Aloha!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Open mouth. Insert foot.

Sometimes, after doing so many tastings and answering so many good, bad and stupid questions from tourists, I blurt.  Stuff just comes out, like a burst of hot steam from Old Faithful.  Yesterday, a man was looking at our cigars.  We sell Kauai Cigars.  It was a wet, gloomy day, as has been the case most of the last three months, with emphasis on the wet.  So he asked, "How do you keep them humid?" I couldn't help myself.  I replied, "You're kidding, right? It's like 80-100 percent humidity here all the time." It sounded glib and maybe even a little condescending. I wanted to take it back as soon as I said it.  His wife laughed.  He did not. Instead, he looked at me like I'd just stepped on his toe.  He cleared his throat.
"How do you keep them the proper 70 percent humidity?" he rephrased.  Now he was the one condescending.  I mumbled something about selling them so fast we don't have to worry about that, they're fresh and probably would benefit from a humidor if you weren't going to smoke them right away, people really seem to like them. Whatever. 

Today, it's raining.  I think it's also safe to say it's humid.  This is air fern heaven.  It's fern heaven, period.  

I'm working extra days this week.  That should make my feet scream and who knows what might come out of my mouth.  Who even knows.  

A hui hou.  Aloha!,