Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quiet Sunday

Listening to Carole King's Tapestry on the turntable and watching Arbor Boy nap on the couch after a hard day pruning fruit trees.

New dress bought happily and impulsively, soon off to Dillinger's for burgers and beer.

It's a good summer Sunday.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Worst Week

At the moment I am in the throes of the busiest season for veterinary hospitals. My unit in particular, the Isolation Unit, is seeing a non-stop flow of new patients being admitted. It's peak season for non-vaccinated animals to pick up serious infectious diseases like parvovirus, panleukopenia, and pneumonia. These diseases can be deadly, particularly to very young puppies and kittens who may not have had the benefit of their mother's milk, rich with antibodies needed to help protect them. As a result, my job is becoming increasingly stressful both physically and emotionally. Most patients spend anywhere from a week to more than a month in my unit and it's almost impossible not to get attached, especially to the animals who come in from the adoption unit who have never had the love and care of an owner.

This was by far the worst week I have had so far in my career as the Isolation Unit LVT. The economic downturn has forced us, like so many other businesses, to curb spending which means we are understaffed and overworked. It all finally took it's toll on me on Thursday. A very tiny kitten from Adoptions, named Aristotle, had come into the unit two weeks ago practically dead, but we managed to get him up and moving again. We all agreed that, while all kittens are cute, Aristotle won the competition with his big eyes and extra fluffy fur. Tipping the scales at 12 ounces, you could hold him with one hand and he would perch right there in your palm. When he got hungry he would shove his face against the bars and meow with a voice much more powerful than one would expect such a small creature to have. Needless to say, he won my heart. Aristotle, with a myriad of health problems, had good days and not-so-good days. The beginning of the week brought on some of those not-so-good days and by Thursday he weighed only 8 ounces and his big personality had subdued a bit. After placing him back on intravenous fluids and doing a series of blood tests that showed more problems looming it was decided by his doctors that euthanasia was the most humane option for him. Because the hospital was so busy, the sad task fell on me. I was heartbroken but agreed to it as I knew I would be gentle and loving through it all. I was unable to hold back my tears and sobbed as I held him for the last time.

Two days later, another of my kittens, Felix, went into heart failure and had to be euthanized. This time I held him while the doctor performed the euthanasia and we both cried for our little patient. It was my last day of work before my weekend and I was emotionally drained. Besides these little kittens that we couldn't save, there are currently a few other patients that seem to be suffering so much it's difficult to look at them without welling up.

I went to yoga this morning as I typically do on Sundays but my mind was still preoccupied with my rough week. My yoga instructor suggested to the class that we try to take whatever was on our minds and clear it away, find a way to move past anything that we were hanging on to. I immediately thought of Aristotle and Felix and what I could do to rid myself of my sadness. I don't often think about Heaven or the afterlife, what it is or if it even exists at all but I found myself imagining those two kittens in some other place, healthy and pain-free. I started thinking about people I knew who had passed away in recent years and for some reason I thought of our family friend, Annie, who passed away from lung cancer a few years ago. Annie was a close friend of my mom's; they had worked together as nurses for many years. I imagined funny, gregarious Annie scooping up the kittens and gushing over their absolute cuteness. And I made my decision right then and there that Annie would be my guardian angel for all my animals that couldn't be saved.

I'm optimistically hoping that my weeks will begin to get better but if I have more like this week at least I will have something to focus on when the job takes it's toll. As silly as it may seem to some people, it makes me feel so much better to think that their is a good soul waiting to take care of all the animals that didn't get a chance here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

O, beloved Beer Garden, where have you gone?

(photo credit: John Saponara)

On Friday evening we took advantage of the lovely weather, grabbed a couple of friends and headed off to the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. Since our move to the apartment on 30th Ave a few years ago our visits to the Beer Garden have become less frequent, and I'm truly ashamed to say that last summer we didn't make it there even once. My old studio apartment was around the corner from the Garden and Arbor Boy's old apartment was a few blocks away in the other direction so it was a natural meeting place and we spent a lot of time there. It was the best place to get a $12 pitcher of good beer, some tasty food from the grill or kitchen and just chill out with friends and a deck of cards or the backgammon board. In recent years the Beer Garden has gained a lot of popularity sparking the need for some transformations including renovations to upgrade certain features as well as an increase in prices. This is all to be expected, it's the nature of the business world.

However, our visit Friday night left me disappointed and longing for the Beer Garden I knew and loved just a few short years ago. It's no secret that Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest nights and waiting in line to gain entrance is the norm, but we decided to take our chances and made it in with no waiting and even managed to find a table (or more specifically, half a table). The pitchers are now up to $15, still a good deal for Stella Artois and Staropramen. Arbor Boy and I hadn't eaten dinner yet so we were looking forward to our favorite portabello mushroom sandwich from the grill. I encountered the first of many disheartening changes when I went to order our food. Upon arriving at the grill in the corner of the yard I was told that I should take a seat and order from my table. This was news to me since traditionally the grill was walk-up ordering and table service was only for the kitchen. But I returned to my seat and began searching the crowds for a waitress. I flagged one down only to be told that she did not take orders for the grill but would send someone our way. When no one arrived after 15 minutes I flagged a guy down who looked like he was making his way back and forth from the grill. He also could not take my order but told me my waitress could. I told him I had already been denied and he promised to send someone my way. When a server again failed to arrive I asked a bus boy who also told me to ask my waitress. We finally found a waitress who could take a grill order and happily ordered our portabello sandwiches.

By this time we had made our way through a couple of pitchers so I decided to navigate the sea of people in search of the bathrooms. I headed in the direction I knew had once had the Ladies restroom. In place of the old facilities I found the newly constructed restrooms that had been part of the recent renovation of the Beer Garden. Gone was the two stall Ladies room that tended to overflow when the crowds got heavy and soap and paper towels were a luxury rather than a basic essential. The new contruction, shiny new and well-lit, included self-flushing toilets and a bathroom attendant. A bathroom attendant. At the Beer Garden. What was going on? Where were the tiny cramped stalls that were part of the rustic charm of my Beer Garden? I made my way back to our table and relayed my tale of a new bathroom. Arbor Boy shared my shock and dismay but before we could dwell upon it our food arrived. Two mushroom sandwiches and an order of fries. Yay! I noticed right off that the sandwiches were made differently than in the past but thought little of it. The portabello was a popular grill item, a large cap thrown on the grill with a little oil and balsamic vinegar and some garlic then placed on two slices of bread that nicely soaked up the oil. These were on regular hamburger rolls with lettuce and tomato. I took a bite and immediately realized that something was terribly wrong. My whole mouth was on fire, my lips were burning. It was spicy. Really, really spicy. I thought perhaps I had gotten a very garlic-y bite but each subsequent bite added more heat to my already burning tongue. Arbor Boy finished his but I finally threw in the towel realizing that the intense spiciness would be sure to give me heartburn later.

We packed up and headed out a short time later. We all agreed that we had a good time hanging out and drinking beer but my disappointment lingered. The changes in the food, the shiny fluorescent lit bathrooms, the newness of everything. It wasn't the Beer Garden I knew and loved.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

Watching fireflys out the kitchen window, listening to the sounds of our neighbor's BBQ and fireworks going off all over the neighborhood. I do love Astoria.

Happy 4th of July!