Of Cats and Catkin

It was another beautiful day in Amsterdam. Although the Summer Solstice does not occur until June 21st, Memorial Day (May 30th) is the traditional start of the Summer season. For me, the Summer starts when the hedges need their first cut and the Black Walnut trees flower. There are both Maple and Black Walnut trees in back of my house on Grove Street. While the Maple tree puts out leaves in early Spring, the Black Walnut waits until late Spring, a welcomed occurrence my first year here. I thought I had a bunch of dead trees I would have to cut down but discovered they were just late bloomers!

As I took on the arduous chore of trimming 50 feet of hedges, I noticed the Black Walnut trees had not only produced their compound leaves but also their male flowers called catkin. The Black Walnuts produced by these trees feed the local squirrel population. A large brood of squirrels live in a hollowed out tree across from my house in the wooded area bordering the south side of Green Hill Cemetery.

For me Summer started today May 25, 2011.

After trimming the hedges, I watered and fertilized them along with the flowers.

I made the mistake of letting the cats out on the balcony while I was watering the flowers. One look was all it took, the cats wanted out!

Spike is trained to walk on a leash, Lee…not so much. They usually just want to explore around the house and eat some grass. Spike likes the little walkway along the house. He hides in the hedges and watches birds.

They both like to sniff the hedges. Lee sticks close to the house and gets spooked easily by cars, noises and people. He can wriggle right out of the harness.

Now it’s time for some Motrin and a hot shower before these old bones start to stiffen and ache!

Categories: Amsterdam, Pets, Photography

Tying Up Loose Ends

I realize I have not posted here since last weekend, so I thought I would catch up on a few things. My cat Lee had extensive dental surgery on Monday.  An earlier post Pet Dentistry describes the genetic predisposition for bad teeth. The surgery went well but Dr. Murray was unable to remove the ear polyp due to its position deep in the ear canal.  All six teeth and a canine tooth required surgical extraction followed up with injectable pain medication twice a day for three days.

This is Lee on drugs after surgery on Monday.

Here is the dental chart with all the work that was done.

The cat is almost back to normal but will be eating soft food for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday April 12, 2011, I attending the City of Amsterdam budget meeting at City Hall and listened as department heads presented their budgets to the Common Council.  Here is a short excerpt from that meeting discussing the City’s promise to help Centro Civico with construction of the East End park. It was taken with the iPad2.

Thursday I took two Babka Breads and a fresh Kielbasa (from GWIB coffee house) down to my Dad in Hudson and spent the day with him.

Friday I baked a delicious buttermilk blueberry crumb cake.

Today I tried my hand at making fresh Italian sausage.

I have been trying to keep busy and not think about the enormous increase (37%) in water utility fee that was proposed by the City Controller, or the 16.2% tax increase passed by the Amsterdam City School District.

One unit in Amsterdam currently pays $352.89 for water, $267.47 for sewer and $217.56 for garbage annually. A 37% increase will bring water rate alone to $483.45 for one unit.

There has to be a better way than placing the burden on the backs of Amsterdam property owners. These elected officials need to do some real work and STOP SPENDING our money! Privatize the damn golf course so it can at least make money rather than siphon funds from the city. That water bill alone would be a big increase in revenue, aside from the salaries, insurance, capital expenditures and operational costs that the City continues to shell out. This is a sport enjoyed by an elite few that should be bearing the burden of its operation, not the taxpayers!

From a Daily Gazette article dated March 28, 2010 by reporter EdMunger:

The golf course needs upgrades for drainage, clubhouse improvements and cart paths that could cost as much as $400,000.

The city has spent roughly $46,000 each year during each of the past two years to accommodate the golf course’s cost of about $660,000, according to the city’s draft budget and the Golf Commission’s budget request.

Categories: Amsterdam, Cooking, Pets, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,


Categories: Pets, Photography

Pet Dentistry

Cat lower canine tooth with decayed root

I found this little present on my living room carpet Monday morning, prompting me to find out more about pet dentistry. I have raised many cats throughout different phases of my life and consider myself an OK pet owner.  I bring my cats to the veterinarian for neutering, vaccinations and emergency treatment but never thought about cat dentistry. I never had a cat lose a tooth until this week.  I currently have two cats Spike who is 7 years old and Lee who is 6.  Lee was an afterthought, a stray that I took in when he was just a few months old living under a shed in the apartment complex I used to live in. He was infested with ear mites and a little undernourished but with a couple of trips to the vet and some good food, he evolved into the 16 1/2 lb butterball he is today.

In fact Lee is first to remind me when it’s feeding time and I have to feed Spike separately or Lee will eat his food too. Lee has shorter legs and is more solidly build than Spike who is longer, leaner and has a totally different personality. Lee will run and hide when company comes while Spike is more social. When there are no strangers in the house Lee rules the roost, demanding all the attention.

Lee (captured in the two above images), has always had bad breath, not just fishy cat breath but stinky breath. His teeth have always had a yellowish color. I never worried too much about this thinking it was just another genetic difference as the shorter stature and different personality traits.

Lee on the left, Spike on the right

I began to do some research about feline dental problems and found out that cats get gingivitis just like people do but their teeth do not decay the same. Tooth decay in cats is in the root of the tooth and most often goes unnoticed until it is too late.

Tuesday evening, Lee and I paid a visit to the Country Valley Veterinary Clinic at 5877 Route 30 on Amsterdam’s South Side where Dr. Crystal Murray did a full exam.  Not only did the cat have severe gingivitis but also an exposed nerve in an upper tooth where the enamel was worn away, a heart murmur and ear polyps in the right ear that will require surgical removal. The ear polyps are uncommon but are seen mostly in strays with severe ear mite infestations. The symptoms mimic an ear mite infestations with frequent ear scratching and head shaking. The polyp can also have a brownish discharge that mimics ear mite exudate. I  always wondered why I could never get rid of this cat’s ear mites despite what brand of over the counter medication I tried.

I was really impressed with the service I received from the Country Valley Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Murray and her staff took time to explain procedures and answer any questions asked. Country Valley Veterinary Clinic is a welcomed addition to our area giving pet owners the freedom of choice.

An appointment was made for Lee to have both the ear polyps removed and the necessary extraction of decayed teeth. This would have to be done under general anesthesia which could pose a risk to cats with a mild heart murmur. In addition to the pre-operative blood test and mouth x-rays, Dr. Murray asked if I wanted an electrocardiogram done to see if it was safe to put the cat under. At this point I had to ask for an estimate because it began to sound expensive. I had the choice to do nothing and hope for the best, pay for an electrocardiogram that could rule out doing any of the procedures or just do the procedures and hope for the best. I chose the third option. Lee goes in for the procedures mid April.

The question of whether not preventative dentistry would have helped remains a mystery. I’m sure it wouldn’t have done any harm, had I known about it. There are cat teeth cleaning kits that can be purchased with pet safe toothpaste and a mini brush but have you ever tried to brush a cats teeth? I have trouble just getting pills down their throats without getting shred to pieces from their claws. A professional tooth cleaning from a veterinarian or a veterinary dentist (yes they exist), requires general anesthesia and can cost about $100. I get my teeth professionally cleaned for less!

Categories: Amsterdam, Pets | Tags: , , , ,

Cabin Fever?

Stuck in the house because of all that snow? With more snow expected tomorrow, some of us need a little diversion to spice up our winter hibernation. For me, baking is a way out of the winter funk. My 140 year old house on Grove Street came with a nice kitchen that has lots of room for baking.

My Dad also likes to cook and we send each other recipes that we have tried and liked. We both get inspiration from Cooks Illustrated and I still rely on books like The Joy of Cooking and the Fannie Farmer Book of Baking .  There are the family recipes handed down from my Polish Grandmother and even some recipes from my Mom like her chocolate cake with maraschino cherries and walnuts with cream cheese frosting. We just call it Mom’s Chocolate Cake. Of course I have to send Dad photos of some of my better efforts.

Glazed Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Walnuts

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

When all the baking is finished, its time for some TV.  Although we have hundreds of choices on cable, you may not want to pay for the premium channels. Today we have another choice in the form of internet streaming devices. If you have a new HDTV or Blu-ray player, you may have this service built in. For those that do not, or want more of a selection than the built in devices offer we have independent devices like the Roku or Apple TV. Being a Mac person, I have the Apple TV which is a little bigger than the size of a deck of playing cards and comes with a wireless remote. This device connects wirelessly to your internet cable service through a wireless router. You plug the HDMI cable into your TV and that’s it (It also has optical audio output to your stereo receiver). You can stream movies from Netflix, music and movies from iTunes or YouTube and view them on your big screen TV in HD. You can stream media directly from your computer or iPhone/iPod through this device. The Apple TV also has the capability to stream a slide show of your favorite images complete with music and transitions.

The Apple TV has no hard drive and does not store media, it just provides streaming capability through an interface that is familiar with those who have worked with Apple products.

The menu provides descriptions and ratings of movies along with a brief preview. A Netflix subscription for streaming media is only $7.99/month. iTunes charges for movie rentals (usually $4.99) and TV shows (.99 cents). There is no charge for Podcasts, YouTube, internet radio stations and media already stored on your computer.

Priced at just $99.00, the Apple TV is a great little device that will have you glued to your TV for hours.

Once you are recharged from all the good food and entertainment, it will be time to get back out there and shovel the snow again!

Categories: Cooking, Media, Pets, Technology

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