What a Difference the Internet Makes

My lifetime friend and her husband are coming to visit in August.  We are so looking forward to it.   Usually when she comes we provide her with a list of all the things we need from the city. The list is about 90% foodstuffs.    I love to cook and enjoy making all sorts of ethnic cuisines.    Many of the recipes I use call for ingredients that I can’t  find locally.   Not all the ingredients of the recipe but there is usually one or two things that you just don’t see on the grocery shelves in southwestern Montana.    Some of the things have been spices; other times it is an ingredient.

This year I don’t have a grocery list for my friend.   It seemed  strange, and so  I thought about it.   What was different?

  • We have a new grocery store in town.   This grocery is a sort of hybrid store:   Part locavore featuring local produce, meat and dairy, Part exotic specialty ingredient store, Part “Whole Foods”, Part general grocery.  Not very big, but I do lots of shopping there.
  • You can get more grocery ingredients via the internet.

This is one of those examples of the world getting smaller.   We all travel more and further and expect to see some of what we see away from home, now days at home.      We use the internet to reach out to places far from home when home just won’t do.     I had not realized that until now what a difference these two things made in my life.

To Wash Eggs or Not to Wash Eggs


I recently found this article  and saved it for later to write about.  Today seems to be the right time to do so.

Why American Eggs Would Be Illegal in British Supermarkets and Vise Versa , from Forbes online.

It is definitely worth taking time to read even if you an experienced chicken wrangler, a foodie or just interested in food safety. Our food system is so hard to understand sometimes.   Why are there some things that are banned in other country’s food chain and not in ours?  This makes it even more confusing because what you hear might be true in Canada, but not south of the border in the good old US of A.  This article really sheds lots of light on the egg industry and what works; two completely different protocols.

In this country we often think of eggs as a vector for food borne illness.   I hear people say they are worried about farmer’s market eggs sitting there without refrigeration.   I have had social acquaintances comment that they would rather eat grocery store eggs than mine.   (Because????  Factory farms are cleaner than my little coop with my backyard chickens.)

Some of the highlights on this side of the pond and that are as follows:

  • In the UK they vaccinate all their chickens for salmonella and it is practically non-existent; in the US we generally don’t.
  • In the UK it is illegal to wash eggs, and in the US it is required.
  • In Europe eggs are store at the grocery on  a shelf near baking supplies, and the US in a refrigerated case.

I hope you will take a few minutes and read the full article it is well written and it is enlightening about the pros and cons to each.   There is no one right answer that is for sure.

I use a combination of both with my flock.   My coop and facilities are clean and my hens lay clean eggs.   I elect not to wash them and leave the natural antibacterial coating on the egg.   I store my eggs in the refrigerator, unless I plan to make hard boiled eggs.   In which case I will leave the eggs my hens laid  in a bowl on the counter for 3 or 4 days and they are still not as stale (easy to peal) as grocery store eggs.  I would never do that for eggs that I was unsure how they were handled.

It is like all foods and food borne illness know the risks and be smart in the handling and preparation of your food


Tireless Volunteer – Spay Neuter Advocate

I have a friend who is a tireless pet lover who puts an unimaginable amount of effort into Spay Neuter Awareness and Clinics.   Just last Saturday Ms. L  was the lead volunteer in pulling together a Spay Neuter Clinic in here in southwestern Montana.  She managed to fill the schedule completely with 90 animals and was distressed that she had to turn 35 cats away because they could not handle any more.   You may think that this is nice but it will drop off, but she has been at this now for several years.   Hosting multiple clinics a year.  This is the second clinic already this year.   For some reason the need for this service never seems to taper off.   I often wonder how it can go on like this, but sadly it does.

Ms. L  is a master recruiter of volunteers.   Except for the vets in the spay neuter clinic is staff by 100% volunteers.  Clinics are often held in school gyms and empty buildings.      Experienced volunteers are often the vet assistants, but it takes so much effort by tons of people from check-in the minute the pet walks in the door until the last one is returned to its owner at the end of the day.   Ms L.  has no shame she will ask everyone for help.   She knows many folks say yes to be there as a volunteer and then fail to show up because something better came along.  She is always looking for a volunteer and there is always plenty to do when you show up.

Ms. L  is an educator.   She will talk with anyone about the value of spay neuter.    She has gone to county commissioner meetings, met with mayors and representatives ensuring they understand the benefit of supporting spay neuter efforts in their area.  She knows that excess pets is a problem not just in her area or county, but the neighboring counties and national as well.   She will go anywhere to talk about the cause.   I have see her use every avenue to get others to understand the value of spay neuter.    Look for her on radio, Facebook, and any where else that will let her in to share the message.

Ms. L  is not afraid to finish up any encounter with  an ask….ask for your help.    You decide how you wish to help, but she wants you to help. There are many ways to help.   One of them is economic .   It costs to host a Spay Neuter clinic.   They hate to turn anyone away because they can not afford it.   You can donate to pay for the spay neuter of pets for those who can not afford them.    It also helps when they secure a grant to have your funds as they are often asked for an equal match to be raised on a local level.

Ms. L has one more clinic to plan and hold yet this summer.   That means there will be 270 less horny animals running around making more animals who will likely never all  likely find a home.  She is a animal lover and a hero.

Adopted Adult Cat Adjustments – Week One

Our new cat observes the world.

Our new cat observes the world.

Our new 11 year-old cat is adjusting to our house.    We have allowed her time on whatever terms she chooses and most of the time it  was sitting up high in a closet watching the world.  We reminded ourselves she was deserving of time to adjust.   Imagine if you were 40 years old  and had lived in the same place since your childhood, then suddenly you went to prison, and when you were finally released you did not go home, but went to a foreign land.  This is the human equivalent of what happened to our cat.     She had spent half of her expected lifespan  in one home, with one set of people.    She had spent the last five months in a shelter, where the routine was likely very consistent, the noises likely very routine but nothing like living in a house.      Now she was living again in a house with the sounds of appliances, toilets, showers, a dog, stairs, people, the howling wind,  and so much more that we take as normal, but nothing like she remembered.

Now that the first week is gone and we are starting to ask more of her.   We pick her up from  her safe zone and take her with us upstairs, to the office(which is in the home); in general we take her with us where we go.    Once you  pull her out of her spot of observation and hold her she is full of purrs seeking attention.   She is calm and cuddly.   Sometimes she will sit in the living room with us for several hours and other times she only stays a few minutes.    She has become less wary of our dog who seems to sense her feelings of not being sure of what is all going on.   It is a slow process,  but I try to imagine what my life would be like completely uprooted at this point.   It would be hard.

What we have discovered with about her:

  • She likes to sleep.  Lots more than any of our prior cats.  At least that is how we remember that.
  • She eats very little.   Not since our first two cats has that been the case.
  • Declawed cats like the most sand like litter possible. (We had never had a declawed cat before)
  • She loves to purr at the drop of a hat.
  • She loves to look out the windows
  • Despite what the owner claimed, that she lived with dogs and was ok with them. So far she is VERY wary of the dog.
  • She likes human companionship but hasn’t figures how to do that comfortably.
  • She isn’t  clingy.
  • She has confirmed that the ideas we have for a cat name work for her.

We really believe she was a great choice for us .  Eleven is a great age for a cat.   They know the score and know what they like.   And we are pretty sure she likes us, but isn’t going to show us her cards until she is sure is staying.

Season of Smoke

Smoke and Fire

Smoke and Fire

It is here, the season of smoke and forest fires.   For awhile we had thought that fire season was going to come early fortunately it was a false alarm.    It is now late July and the fires are popping up all over.   Humidity levels have dropped to the single digits creating tinder dry conditions.  We are starting to be able to smell smoke in our homes though fires are miles in the distance. We worry with each dry thunderstorm about the lightning strikes that smolder for days before becoming a  full-fledged fires.   It is all being driven by the winds of summer.  The sky’s are turning into smoke.    The sun this afternoon was  hidden behind a screen of smoke, peeking out in time to set.   Tonight’s moon came up orange.   This season and many of the fires will last until the snow flies.

It Is a Conspiracy

I try to avoid rants.   In general not one wants to listen to someone go on a bender, but I ask your patience on this one.

A month ago I ended up in the emergency room.   I accidentally whacked my thumb with an 8-inch chef’s knife  when making dinner with my husband.   The details aren’t important, but I ended with a deep cut that would not stop bleeding, no matter what we tried.   I was worried my husband was going to call 911 and we would add an ambulance call to what could be an expensive excursion, and so I agreed to go the ER and have it stitched up.

I spent less than an hour there from the time I got out my car in the parking lot until we were headed home.   It was  a slow night in the ER.   My cut was ultimately glued shut and I got a tetanus shot.

I recently got my Blue Cross/Blue Shield explanation of benefits for the event and was flabbergasted at the cost.     So the I called the hospital and asked for an itemized copy of my bill to explain how so much money was spent.

I get that there is a certain amount of overhead you are expected to pay for when you enter an ER.    You pay to have it there when you need it.   In all honestly the ER usage fee was big, but it did not send me in to orbit.   What sent me into orbit is that my tetanus shot was $367.50   Had I known this is what I was going to be charged I would have refused and gone to see my primary care provider or the Urgent Care clinic when it opened the next day.

I am lucky I have health insurance, but I pay dearly for it.    My health insurance premium cost each month is more than my house payment.   I am lucky I can afford both and don’t have to make the decision roof over my head or health insurance.   Everyone complains about the high cost of health care.   Some say  the insurance companies are the problem while others claim  the medical providers are the problem.   I don’t know which it is, but I felt I had an obligation to call our the hospital and ask they make and adjustment for the obscene charge for the tetanus shot.

I called the hospital and I got the song and dance about how there is overhead required to keep an ER available especially in rural areas. I agreed and told her I was not debating the ER charge, nor the wound repair kit charge of over $300 (even though all I used was two small packages of 4x4s, one bottle or sterile saline and a tube of wound super glue.)   I want the hospital to admit that a tetanus for $367.50 was excessive and to make an adjustment.   I got nowhere.

I next headed off the BC/BS.   I was going to report fraud.   I got the most amazing song and dance there I had ever heard of.   They proceeded to tell me they negotiated fees and agreed to honor them.   If they called the hospital out on a previously negotiated fee the hospital might drop out of network and then it would be nearly 80  miles for the thousands folks in my area to drive to the next in-network hospital.   The customer service person suggested I might ask the hospital to resubmit the charge for the vaccination as preventive services rather than medical treatment.   I would get better coverage on preventive care and my portion for this would be less.    I was moved to laughter and told her the last I checked a vaccination was preventative and they should not need a hospital to tell them that, and the problem was we were all being ripped off, not what my portion of the co-pay was.

This same insurance company had previously questioned my health care provider about the necessity of a migraine prescription.  It wasn’t some off label use nor over use.   They just did not like how much it costs and questioned if another less expensive option was available for my use.   It is easy to pick on a single health care provider or an insured who actually puts out the money that keeps them in business.   Heaven forbid that we question some hospital, like they are a sacred cow (cash cow).

Several days later I am no further along in this quest of trying to make someone give a rip about  exorbitant fees being charged and make an adjustment. Tonight I don’t see how I can fix this solution.   The hospital wants their money and they are not changing their mind.    BC/BS doesn’t seem to want to rock a boat that works for them.

Maybe all that is in it for me is a lesson, never ever go the local ER if it can be avoided.  It was a very deep cut and it would neither stop bleeding, nor stay closed.   I now wonder if I had given it another hour so or possibility  gotten creative at home if I could have avoided the visit.   I know the next time I will think several times and several times more before I walk into an ER again.    You are over a barrel and the local hospital knows it.   Urgent care here closes at 6pm.  There no other choices after hours in the area it is them or the highway literally.  Next time for me it might just be the highway.

For those of you who read to this point, thanks for your patience.   I hope that if you need to use your local ER you are a little more prepared than I was for how it all works.

Life’s Challenges

6a00d83451c5ac69e200e54f535e658833-800wiTwo of my cousins recently were blessed with grandchildren.   Each of the children were born with conditions that will provide their families with so many challenges.  Some short-term and others long-term.   In these circumstances there is so little you can say or do, and yet there is so much you can do.    If you are geographically close be there to provide support and respite for them and the family.   If you are not in close physical proximity, be there for them spiritually.  These challenges are often so hard for us to understand, and we ask why.   Answer may never be apparent to us, but that should not stop us from taking action.