Friday, January 21, 2011

Hitchhiker and the Saga of the Astro Van Fan

In 2010 I was having considerable problems with the fan in my 1998 Astro mini-van (I hope to get a new car this year).  It worked sporadically. I stopped by my mechanics  (Kal-Tire)  in early summer and he said that the fan was getting stuck and he showed me where to thump it on the dashboard to get it going.  Certainly this was a quick fix - he also showed me where to thump it when I opened the hood - in case I couldn't get it working with simply slapping my dashboard.  Anyway, this thumping the dashboard worked until December.

I had this rubber mallet in the car and while driving I would reach over and bang the dashboard (above the passenger seat) and get the fan working to deliver the much needed heat.  Well, while parked one very cold December morning (-20 C)  it finally stopped and no amount of pounding the dashboard with the mallet would get the fan started.  So - I popped the hood and took my trusty mallet in hopes of banging on the actually fan unit. 
Upon lifting the hood, there sitting on the engine block staring back at me, was this little field mouse.  I am not afraid of mice, but it did startle me only because I was not expecting two little black eyes to stare back at me from under the hood.  Before I could react and grab it, it scuttled deep into the engine.  I noticed it had made a little nest in air intake - so, I took out all that stuffing from the part.  I thumped the fan component with my rubber mallet and voila!, the fan started working.

When I gpt back into the car, I happened to glance into the back of the van where the dog crates are set up and noticed that one of the dog blankets had been ransacked by Ms. Mouse and another little nest had been made.  I inspected said nest but could not find any babies. I threw out the nest.

Despite the cold temperatures that day, I ran the van through a car wash.  Yes, it kind of froze up, but I was able to tug the doors opened.

The following day, I again made my way to town for work and once again the fan stopped working.  No amount of banging on the dashboard would get the fan working. I attempted to pop the hood and give the fan component a good smashing, but the hood would not pop.  Oh great - either hood mechanism was frozen or it was broken.  I decided it was time to go to the mechanic.  I stopped by and told them either my hood was frozen or the popper was broken - the mechanic came out and I tugged on the "popper" - nothing happened. He tugged - nothing happened.  I suggested it was frozen and he would put the van into one of the bays for a good hour, let it thaw and then pop the hood and get the fan going so I could at least have a warm drive home.  I made an appointment to have the fan replaced - and then went to a restaurant to eat some lunch and kill time while the van was thawing.

After an hour I returned to the garage where the mechanic came out and he was laughing.  He says to me that after 30 years of being a mechanic you'd think he would know how to pop a hood of car.  All this time, we had been trying to pop the hood by using the emergency brake release.  The reason he tried to use it was because he saw me  reach for it to try and pop the hood, and he just assumed that was the hood release.  I've popped the hood on that van numerous times, and why I had the "brain fart" that day (and him too) was just hilarious.  So - it was not frozen or broken.  Anyway - turns out he had time and replaced the faulty fan (the bushings were wore out) and I no longer have to smash the dashboard to get heat.

The mechanic did not see any signs of Ms. Mouse - but he did remember working on my old Econoline van back in the 90s and taking apart the air filter and finding it stuffed full of dog kibble.  The mice are very industrious at our house and they sure love our vehicles.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Potato Soup Recipe

Here's my recipe:

This is a meal on its own - serve with some crusty bread or and tossed salad.

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 to 3 shallots chopped
  • 1 cup of celery chopped
  • 1 cup carrot chopped
  • 1 cup of turnip chopped
  • 2 to 3 cups of diced turkey kabosah (very garlicy)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 to 5 cups of peeled and diced potatoes
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 3 tbsp of white flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sliced green onions for garnish (optional)
  • shredded cheese (I used the nacho cheese stuff)

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium to low heat.  Add shallots, celery, carrots and diced kabasah.  Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are tender (about 6-7  min). Add  broth, water and potatoes.  Cover and cook about 25 minutes until potatoes are tender. 

Whisk four, sour cream and milk until smooth and stir into hot mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mash the soup to thicken.  Add more milk if needed.

Serve garnished with sliced green onions and a little shredded cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.

Thankfully, I have Netflix!

I had plans to go to work today, but Bogart still wants to lick his incision and so he has to wear the evil cone.  I will not leave him alone with that thing on.  In any case, it's -36C with the windchill (that's -32.8 F).  You know COLD!   It's the wind - obviously blowing in from the arctic.

I've straightened every closet in the house and tidied up the clutter.  I've updated my website and taken care of personal correspondence.  I am going to make a pot of potato soup too - however, that's only going to take about an hour of my time.

Thankfully, I signed up to Netflixs and can stream movies to my PC (hook it to my TV to watch it on the bigscreen).  What will I watch today?  Comedy?  Thriller?  Horror?

Tried watching "Sleuth" - the original, but, it was just too silly for me. 

Made the BEST poatote soup. I've never made it before, but, oh my - I think I made a winner!

Now am attempting to watch "Silent Running" a 1971 science fiction flick starring Bruce Dern.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 Breeding Plans

After much waiting and planning I have finally determined my breeding plans for 2011.  I expect "Sparkle" to go into heat any day now and we will be using Madeline and Geoff's lovely boy "Gambler".  We are going to try the fresh chilled semen route and with a transcervical implantation.  Fingers crossed!

And then "Lola" - I expect her to come into season around May and once again we are turning to Madeline and Geoff for their lovely boy "Smoke".  This breeding may be a natural as I hope to drive out to beautiful BC.  Anyway - this one is much longer into the future.

I am excited about these breedings and think the pairings will produce lovely puppies. 

For detailed information go to my website

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Serendipty of a Poop Grass Mass

I am writing this post in hopes that others might see the same symptoms in their own dogs and save themselves agonizing time.

Bogart exhibited an illness on Dec.21st - he had an extremely bad case of explosive diarrhea (literally painting the walls).   subsquently he was quite lame and the lameness travelled from limb to limb.  He was still eating at this point - and not refusing food.  I watched him closely   - he did not have a fever and did improve, so I did not bring him to the vet.  By Dec. 24th he was eating again and no longer had any lameness.

Jan. 4th.  Bogart did not eat his breakfast.  Not a biggie for me, since often a dog will skip a meal.  I had business in town to attend to and returned home around 3 pm.  I found a small puddle of vomit that consisted of just yellow bile on the floor. Again - not a biggie for me, sometimes a dog (or cat) has an upset tummy.

I offered Bogart some food and he ate a small amount, but he was very restless.  Pacing and panting.  This was certainly something that alarmed me - I was thinking bloat.  Apart from pacing and panting, he was not exhibiting any other bloat symptoms, so I just watched him.  At 6 pm he vomited at my feet.  The vomit was just food.  His anxiety subsided after this and he laid down to sleep.  A couple of hours later I offered him some water and a bit of food - he ate a bit, drank a bit and then became restless again.  Around 9-10 pm he vomited again.

He had no fever.  I watched him closely all day Wed.  I would offer him water, he'd lap a bit.  He vomited more on Wed.

I admitted him to hospital on Thursday since it was clear he was not holding down anything, not even water.  He was put on IVs and monitored.  He continued to vomit anything given by mouth while in hospital.

Friday we did an ultrasound that showed he had some kind of mass just south of his stomach (sorry - I don't know the technical terms).   Also, it showed a mass on his spleen.  So - on Friday afternoon - Bogart was prepped for surgery.

The mass in his gut turned out to be just poop and grass.  His intestines were bunched up - why he could not pass this stuff remains a mystery.  The surgeons were able to "milk" the mass up and into the stomach and remove it - so there were no incisions into his intestines - just one into the stomach.  He also underwent a spleenectomy (I am awaiting the pathology report on that mass).

It took about 1 hour before he woke up from the surgery.  I was on pins and needles because he would not wake up.  He was breathing so shallow that he was not blowing off the sedation.  All I could think of was the movie "Coma" at this time.  Finally, he opened his big brown eyes and acknowledged me and I knew that he was awake.

Bogart stayed in the clinic for another 2 days and I brought him home on Monday...but...his incision was not healing.  He was leaking a pink tinged fluid and had a fever of 103.2 F.  I brought him back to the clinic where they swabbed his incision and did cultures as well as a ultrasound to determine if he had fluid building up in his abdomen.  All tests pointed to just normal post leakage and most likely him licking his incision.

And now 1 week 2 days later his incision is looking much better.  There is still a bit of spotting, but, for the most part the incision is dry and the swelling is going down.  Bogart's appetite is increasing and he's once again begging for pets and belly rubs.

Bogart was not amused with having to wear an e-collar and did his best to crash around the house or just sit there and pant....making me feel even more sorry for him.  He is also sporting one of the worst hair cuts ever - it just about killed me to watch his beautiful coat being cut off - but, hey, he can grow another one.

The serendipity of this entire story is that I would never have known he had a mass on his spleen had it not been for this episode.  This poop/grass mass might very well have save his life.  Here's hoping!

I'm Still Here

Yep - I am still alive.  What's been happening, you might wonder?  Well, since my last post the following:

  • I became a great Aunt for the 2nd time in December.
  • I learned that I am to become a Great Aunt for the 3rd time in May (and it's a girl)
  • We put in new laminate flooring in the kitchen and family room (it's gorgeous)
  • I had my family over for the Christmas holidays and I had one gorgeous tree (see photos)
  • Sadly Kimberlite's Indian Summer (Marley) beloved boy of Scott and Bertha passed away in December.
  • I slept through New Years 2011
  • I haven't been outside since Thanksgiving because it's been too cold
  • Lola passed her eye tests and her hips are normal and her elbows are normal
  • My boyfriend, Bogart, was terribly ill last week and had to have emergency surgery - but he is recovering (poop and grass stuck in his gut).

We are gearing up for breedings in 2011.  I am anticipating Sparkle going into season any day now and will have further information on her upcoming breeding soon.  We will be breeding Lola on her next heat too, which I anticipate happening around May.

My tree

Happy New Year from Baby Puddy!
Bogart (my boyfriend) sporting his new hat.