Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Cone-Headed Dog - and his trip to the vet.



Poor Seth - affectionately known as Seffers. He has had it really rough lately. After his abduction and trip to the pound, we've had to keep him on a short leash. Literally.

At first we left him tied up all day, as he likes to make his rounds. The mean neighbor keeps a shed and pen full of hound dogs. He's got a puppy mill, and he didn't put it up by his house, it's built against our fence line in the back where Seth patrols. This is very efficient. He doesn't have to hear the dogs bark, or smell them, or even go back to feed them anymore, as they are all now automated in their cages. It's only we who get to hear them and smell them, and chase them off when he lets them go for a practice hunting run. Ah, but I digress. It was on one of Seth's rounds at the back of the property that the mean neighbor Shang-Hai-ed him.

These are the events that add interest to life. What else would we talk about if it were not for the challenges? I mean besides vacations to the seaside, nightly feasts, and how unusual and utterly delightful it is that we never have any problems...

After a few weeks, we found that we could let him go, but leave his rope trailing behind him, and it seems to be enough to keep him close to the house and out of danger's way. But we do tie him back up whenever we leave the house, and we are gone a lot.

His range has been reduced, and because of longer times tied up, he's developed spots where his skin is getting rough and irritated. On top of that, he's begun to worry them.

Right on top of his head, just above his ears are the worst two places. I don't think they are mites, as he does not seem to be trying to scratch IN his ears, just on top of them. So we are treating the spots with ointment, and we fashioned a cone for his head.

So far it's lasted 24 hours, and it's made out of poster board we pulled out of our home schooling material pile. Even if we have to make a new one every day, it will still be cheaper than having to purchase a cone, I'm sure.

But oh, the indignity!

UPDATE - After rising this morning and seeing the cone still on, AND in good shape, I began patting myself on the back for being so ingenious. We changed the cone and saw his ear wounds were improved, and continued patting ourselves on the back for being ingenious.

Then the new cone was torn off in a frenzy of unbridled passionate digging about the head with natural paw daggers, and I realized we cannot beat this thing. So we took a trip to the vet.

Mind you, there is no money for this. But the thought of dying from long-term scratching, and slowly bleeding to death brought many memories of my own health troubles to the forefront, and off we went packing.

Poor dog has a yeast infection in his ears, and what I thought was mere fleas all this time, is really very itchy skin. Nary a flea on this dog, amazingly enough. I can no longer affectionately call him a flea-bitten mutt. He's as flea-free as they come.

So we left the office well over a hundred dollars in the hole, and armed with sprays, drops, a steroid-injected dog, and instructions to improve his diet and try to find what is not agreeing with him. Ouch!

Despite it all, he's still out there scratching, but we have already lost so much time just standing there attempting to prevent him from scratching, that we've got to let it go and hope the drugs do the trick here very soon.

If you think about it, send a little prayer for Seth's skin to settle down. I know it's a small thing, but having suffered at the cruel hands of yeast before.... well, I'm sure you know how much he'd appreciate being well.

So yeast is not 'in your head'. Let's hope it's only in your bread.



Sunday, September 19, 2010

All Hail the Cake Fairy!


Oh, NO! Not a Bridal Shower Game!

It's that age-old groaning response you hear in the powder room, out of shot of the harried party organizer. C'mon, ladies! Where's that sense of adventure? Well, I love the challenge of making things fun, and I think this one does the job pretty well. So if you are ever asked to come up with a game, give it a try before you run off whimpering behind the punch bowl.

You can call it whatever you like, but I revamped it for this housewarming party by calling it the "Cake Fairy Game". Pretty creative, eh?

When you do this for bridal showers, it's easy to choose the main character - it's the bride-to-be. And her silent cohort can be chosen in any variety of manner, just making sure they are one of the best bakers in da' howz, but it's best to not let on to anyone what is about to happen. They might run. And I don't recommend tackling in party attire.

For the housewarming party, I handed out 3 by 5 cards and pencils to everyone, with instructions to write their names and an estimation of how many hours a year they might spend baking from scratch in the kitchen. No one knew why, other than we were going to play a game.

It was impressive, and dare I say uncanny, how much discussion can take place concerning that simple instruction, but after about 5 minutes I had all the cards in.

The one with the highest estimate of hours was bestowed the honor of the Mute Chef.

The one with the lowest estimate of hours was transformed into the Cake Fairy.

Then they were given their props, and let in on the parameters of the next 20 minutes of their lives. Once the chef hat was on, our chef protagonist became mute, much to her chagrin.

The Mute chef is not only forbidden to speak, she may not make hand motions, nor impart any help whatsoever to the Cake Fairy. The Mute Chef is only to follow commands given by the Cake Fairy.

The Cake Fairy is to instruct the Mute Chef how to bake a cake... ~ from scratch.

Without a recipe, by the way. She does no work herself. She's a fairy, Silly. The Cake Fairy simply commands, and the Mute Chef obeys.

Generally, a bride-to-be has little experience baking from scratch, so the game is hilarious, especially if she enjoys hamming it up.

The Mute Chef is about dying the whole time because she knows just how badly this cake is going to turn out, and there is nothing, NOTHING she is allowed to do to divert the disaster, except participate in creating it.

In this case our hostess, for whom we threw the housewarming party, had no experience baking from scratch either, so it was just as fun.

Here she is, thoroughly enjoying waving her wand as she issues commands like royalty.

I always bring a box of pantry items, in case the host home is short on anything. I throw in necessary ingredients for basic cake baking - plus some extras to throw them off. It's much more fun to see them try to figure out just how much corn starch goes into the bowl.

Both times I've done this game, the cake was amazingly edible, despite the lack of experience, and we wrote the recipe down on a card, for future posterity, as the cake was being put together.

Make sure you do this game first, as the cake will need to bake while the rest of the party is going on, and then you can eat it at the end. Or feed it to the chickens, whichever seems most appropriate at the time.

Yup, now that the cake is in the oven, they'll need to make frosting, too.

It was really good! This one ended up being not real sweet, with about half the sugar a cake would normally have, and the frosting was more like a drizzled icing. I think we have a new chef on our hands!

All hail the Cake Fairy!