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Monday, October 31, 2011

BOO BABY!

At last Halloween is upon us and Fall has arrived, my favorite season for obvious reasons. Mother Nature paints her landscape with colorful leaves and then spills them everywhere, the air is crispy, the sun sets earlier and then rises later and above all, there's Halloween.

Autumn is here and summer is gone and tonight's the time for witches to mount their brooms, goblins to haunt the streets and neighbors to stock up with treats lest there be tricks to pay. Are you scared yet?

To honor my favorite day of the year let's play a little 'betcha didn't know' and I'll share some Halloween facts, Jack!

For starters, betcha didn't know that over $1.5 billion is spent on costumes for Halloween each year and more than $2.5 billion on other Halloween paraphernalia. Recession? No...Monster Mash rules!

Betcha didn't know that 86% of Americans decorate their homes for Halloween! That's the Spirit, America!!

Betcha didn't know that 90% of parents confess to raiding goodies from their kid's trick or treat bags. Darn right! Me big, you little, that's the way of the world, kids! Now run your little buns around the block one more time, we're low on chocolate.

Halloween brings out the orange and black colors...betcha don't know why. Orange is associated with the Fall Harvest and black represents darkness and death. Utterly spellbinding, eh?

Here's a goodie...betcha didn't know that pumpkins are a fruit and also come in white, blue and green colors. It's the state fruit of New Hampshire and consists of 90% water...the pumpkin, not the state. Before pumpkins became the jack-o-lanterns we know of today, turnips and beets were actually the original jack-o-lanterns...and I'm betting you didn't know that either. Well, truth be told there's a story about a guy named Jack. Jack was this stingy, drunkard blacksmith who lived in Ireland. One night Jack had the misfortune of running into the Devil at a pub and legend tells us it was on Halloween night. Seems Jack had himself a little too much to drink that night and was just about to fall into the clinches of the very Devil himself when he managed to trick the Devil by offering up his soul in exchange for one last drink. Go figure, huh? So the Devil magically turns himself into a sixpence to pay the bartender but Jack takes it and puts it in his purse. Consequently because Jack happened to have a silver cross in his purse, the Devil was unable to change himself back. Jack would not let the Devil go until he promised to not claim his soul for ten years.

Negotiations went well for Jack and the Devil agreed to his proposal. Now it's ten years later and Jack comes across the Devil while strolling along a country road. Naturally, the Devil was ready to collect Jack's soul. Time indeed had come up to pay the Devil but Jack being a quick thinker said "I'll go, but before I go, will you get me an apple from that tree?" The Devil figured he had nothing to lose so he hopped up on Jack's shoulders to grab the apple. Suddenly Jack pulls out his knife and carves a cross in the tree trunk. This left the Devil suspended in the air, unable once again to take Jack or his soul. Then Jack made the Devil promise to never again ask for his soul. The Devil could see no way around this so he reluctantly agreed to Jack's request.

Years later old Jack finally dies and because of his life of heavy drinking and being deceitful to all who crossed his path along with his stingy, tightfisted ways, he was denied access to Heaven. Nowhere else to turn he applied for entrance to Hell and much to his surprise he was again turned away. The Devil was simply honoring his promise to never take Jack's soul. Jack asked the Devil where he should go and the Devil said go back where you came from. Jack soon found his way back to be very dark and windy so Jack pleaded with the Devil to give him some light to find his way. The Devil tossed a live hot coal straight from the fires of Hell at Jack. Jack placed it in the turnip he was eating so he could light his way and prevent it from blowing out in the wind.

Ever since then stingy old Jack has been doomed to wander in darkness with his lantern until "Judgment day". So Jack of the lantern became known as Jack-O-Lantern, the symbol of a damned soul.

Hope this spells things out for the rest of you....don't be stingy, drink in moderation, and for crying out loud, do not talk to strangers in the bar!

So that was Jack's story but betcha also didn't know that people also placed candles in hollowed out turnips to keep spirits and ghosts away on what they called the Samhain holiday. Samhain sounds out like sow-en or sow-in. The word we know as 'Halloween' had its origin in the Catholic church and comes from a contraction of All Hallows Eve. November 1st, "All Saints Day", is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer was officially over on October 31st. This holiday was called Samhain or the Celtic New Year...meaning 'end of summer'.

Legend claims on this day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the previous year would come back searching for living bodies to possess for the next year. Sounds like a spooky shopping spree to me. Anyway, it is believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believe all laws of space and time were suspended during this time allowing the spirit world to mingle with the living.

Oddly enough, the living didn't care much for being possessed. Imagine that! So on the night of October 31st, villagers would put their fires out at home to make them as cold and undesirable as possible. Then they would dress up in ghoulish costumes and noisily parade around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible, in order to frighten away spirits searching for bodies to possess. Hmm, kind of like occupying wall street of the day?!

For some more trivia, betcha didn't know that the 1978 movie titled "Halloween" was filmed in a short 21 days on a very limited budget. The movie was shot during the spring so they had to fake the Fall leaves. Although the film is set in Illinois, oddly enough all the vehicles in the movie had California license plates. Spooky, huh?

Betcha didn't know that black cats were once believed to be witch's familiars and were there to protect their powers. The witch is a central symbol of Halloween. The name comes from the Saxon wica, meaning wise one. When setting out for a Sabbath, witches rubbed a sacred ointment onto their skin. This gave them a sensation of flying, and if they had been fasting they felt even giddier.

Some witches rode on horseback, but poor witches went on foot and carried a broom or a pole to aid in vaulting over streams. In England when new witches were initiated they were often blindfolded, smeared with flying ointment and placed on a broomstick. The ointment would confuse the mind, speed up the pulse and numb the feet. When they were told "you are flying over land and sea" the witch took their words for it.

Anybody know where we can purchase some of this flying ointment? Betcha don't know! Happy Haunting and Twick or Tweets to all!
Sister Very Black & Catty

Thursday, October 6, 2011

FOOT NOTES

Oops, got a few days behind in blogging again...unintentionally, of course. Okay, I'll confess! It's not my fault at all. My 'altar ego' aka my creator & typist seems a bit absorbed in the new television Fall line up...mainly DWTS. Somewhere between watching the contestants perform on Monday night and then anxiously awaiting to see who gets kicked off the dance floor on Tuesday night...well, she gets lost. Go figure this is what she wants to talk about before we get back to Carly and a 'As the Foot Heels' update.

Speaking of DWTS, awhile back we defended Chaz, feeling he might as well have a shot at the trophy like anyone else. However, I'm afraid I have to report the dude does not seem to have much in the way of rhythm. At least not in his feet anyway. In fact, he hardly moves. I'd even be concerned if his ass was on fire...seriously. I definitely wouldn't describe what he does on Monday nights as dancing. Looks more like he's the support pole for his very wiggly partner. The previous week it was his knees that held him back and obviously if he'd drop some pounds he'd not have so much trouble. The dancing would sure help him do that but one's got to actually move around in the process. I'm seriously worried for Chaz. I'd hate to think his mother's impending appearance in the audience next week is the only reason he was voted to stay but that seems to be what people think. Personally, I'd love to see Cher there but I just hope Chaz can come up with a routine he can move to so his Mom's not too embarrassed.

While I'm on a roll I might as well comment on a couple of the other contestants too. There are some good things happening and improvements noted each week. I suppose we could say it's so easy to spot the bad dancers right now and those that are really dancing and getting better are making it tougher each week to see who will win.

Now I'm sure it's no secret we need to get rid of Nancy the ungraceful...in all honesty I find that hard to watch. I just feel whenever her partner has to swing her around or dip her that he's going to seriously injure his back, tip over or drop her. Partner her up with Chaz and stop the madness. The soccer champ does so-so but she just seems to not want to lady-up enough to pull it off.

The silly male fashionista is hilarious and seems to be entertaining enough that you don't pay much attention to the fact that it's supposed to be ballroom dancing. He'd probably just as soon have a dinner date with Max as to take home any trophy for dancing.

Okay, I think that's enough of a review for now. I do enjoy the show and obviously it's not really a dance competition but rather a popularity contest. I just hope next season they find some real stars. Wonder if Betty White is available or how about Ellen...she can dance! Try Oprah or what about Tim Allen, where's George Castanza? I could think of a lot of real stars I'd rather see than this year's rather lame selection so it's too bad no one asked me.

Moving on to Carly I believe she recently shared her concerns about Mom's threat to attempt another go with the crutches. As luck would have it she almost fell when she tried using them again so that mission was immediately aborted. Luck held out again when a car race came on TV so Mom decided to remain on the couch and relax and watch it between grabbing a few zzz's and rubbing Carly's freckled belly.

Unfortunately Carly thinks her luck ran out because, much to her surprise, Dad decided to give her a bath. An unwarranted bath in Carly's mind. After all she had been a good girl, had not rolled in anything, dedicating all her free time to helping Mom get better. Carly hates getting wet and the only good part of the ordeal was being wrapped in a big warm towel and being placed on Mom's chest. Mom made sure she was dry and Carly let her know she appreciated it by licking her nose and mouth. That's a definite dog thing we cats just don't get. Anyway she hopes that's the only bath she'll have to have. Of course, I had to set her straight and let her know she doesn't have to roll in anything to be made to take a bath. See, dogs are so behind the times. Cats bathe themselves and rarely do they tolerate a human putting them in a tub of water. No way, never gonna happen...at least not without claws and a major war. Dogs just can't do it themselves and humans want them to smell nice so that's life, canines...it's bath time. It's really a small price to pay for the luxury of living indoors...think about it.

Then Carly goes and gets lizard breath...yes, caught herself a lizard which Mom didn't approve of because lizards kill bugs. Then to top things off it didn't even taste good so she spit it out. Carly...such a dog. What else can I say?
Good Night...Sister Very Catty

Monday, October 3, 2011

AS THE FOOT HEELS....

Poor Carly's recent stroll was jeopardized when they took Mom along with her wheeled cart...read on...

Hi Sister, it's me Carly. I thought I'd write and tell you about Mom's latest adventure. Yesterday after dinner and, of course, my dinner treats, we all went for a walk. Well, to be honest Dad & I went for a walk like we often do and my human Mom tried to go on her wheelie thing that she kneels on. She didn't do too good. The first part was uphill and she was slow. I was trying to sniff everything and Dad usually keeps up with me at a good clip but my Mom was so slow we had to keep waiting for her. I didn't mind though because it was nice to have her along. We got the mail which is a short block away. After that it was downhill for awhile. She could go faster but her wheels kept hitting the little rocks on the sidewalk. Each time it jerked the handles of her kneely wheelie thing and almost threw her to the ground. After several such incidents she decided just to cut the walk short and go home. Dad didn't want to leave her to go home by herself so we all came back. I wanted to walk more and was disappointed but they gave me a treat when I got home, just like when I walk the whole way so I'm okay with that. Mom was awfully tired when we got back. She used to walk a mile or so with me so I think having this foot kasd has really zapped her strength. I hope she builds it up soon, I like to walk with her. Carly.

Dear Carly,
Well, bless your tiny buns for trying to take Mom along. Unfortunately my best advice though would be to leave her at home. The longer she keeps weight off that foot the better she'll walk with you in the future. Future being a couple months away yet so you hang tight with Dad until she's capable of rejoining you on the walks. It's all for the better, trust me. Maybe if you gave Dad some treats for taking you on more walks you could get away with more serious sniffing adventures. I know Mom misses the walking but perhaps she can watch you guys from your upstairs look-out post.
Now tell me you didn't get a chuckle out of seeing Mom when her wheelie thing hit the skids because of a tiny rock in the road. From my wise cracking view I see that kind of funny but would not have been had it taken her over the handlebars...so again I suggest leaving her in the window!
Sister VC

Sunday, October 2, 2011

THE WOES of TOES

For today's blog why not see if I can make anybody queasy out there while I describe more of the saga of the rebuilt foot. Surely you all would enjoy visualizing this so let's test your imaginations.

The day of the visit to the doctor's office finally arrived and anticipation was high. Our gal, Carly's Mom, put on a brave face, anxious to shed the "rags" and take a look at her foot for the first time. Luckily being a nurse she can handle this sort of visual, but we heard hubby didn't fare so well.

First thing was the removal of the double layer of Plaster of Paris, lots of cotton, and the ace wrap splint she's had on since surgery and at last our patient sees her new arch and straightened foot and is absolutely elated. Hubby sees it and is positively nauseous. Poor guy either lost it at the sight of the six incisions ranging from about 2 inches to about 6 inches or somewhere along the 80 staples giving the foot a rather zippered appearance. There were the two little ones, each about 2 inches long, one just behind the inside ankle and one about 1/4 the way up to the calf (those apparently for harvesting bone for the fusion of the front of the foot and lengthening the heel cord(Achilles tendon). The biggest one ran from the bunion straight back along the side of the arch to just short of the ball of the heel. One was similarly located along the little toe side of the foot with the other 2 incisions between and running parallel with those 2. All 4 big ones look parallel, kind of like a cat scratch, a very large cat. Are we grossed out yet?

Meantime, back to the toes, they are quite porky looking by now and extremely bruised so most likely a pedicure would be a major waste of time. This is to be expected though and the doctor thought everything looked good. So next up it was staple removal time and again hubby held her hand while looking another direction. I do believe he probably felt them more than she did. Following this procedure new x-rays were taken, all looked good so next step was the fiberglass cast. Our star chose a bright shade of orange, probably to match the color of her VW bug which she can't drive for awhile. She'll be wearing this cast for about four weeks and then return for more x-rays. This particular cast is what they call a "diabetic cast" which means it has twice the padding of a regular cast to prevent forming blisters.

There was a small blister sighted at casting time so now hubby has the dubious chore of keeping a close watch on the fat little piggy's to make sure this one heals properly and no new ones crop up. So Carly's Mom figures that if hubby shows no signs of horror on his face when he views her toes, then all is well. She is much more comfortable with this footwear than the previous "rags". Carly should have no problem seeing her coming or going with that fluorescent shade of orange either.

Now Carly's recent note tells me that the day they left for the doctor she was quite concerned since they were gone several hours. Fortunately her wait paid off since when they returned they brought lunch with them and shared it with her. Carly happens to like people food. She was concerned over this new thing on Mom's foot though as it was such a weird color, very hard and quite scratchy. It appeared to be shorter and now Mom's toes stick out of it but you can see it coming for about a half a mile. She also overheard Mom mention she wanted another attempt at using crutches again. Poor Carly wanted to know how she can help should Mom tumble. Carly actually thought she could try and catch her so I had to tell her the truth...run the other way and don't look back.

Now the story goes hubby took Carly's Mom on a short trip to the store. The knee walker came along to escort her in and it turned out to seem like miles and miles before she ever got back to the car. While everyone else thinks nothing about the quick walk from the vehicle to the front door of the store, our one foot wonder winds up with muscle spasms in the back of the right thigh before she ever gets there. A couple of elderly customers in the store thought the knee walker looked wonderful and like a lot of fun but little did they know it comes with Charlie and his horses!

Carly also tells me Mom attempted to weigh herself the other day. Not only can the woman not manage to balance long enough to see her weight, hasn't it occurred to her that her bright orange cast probably adds several pounds so why even go there? But we do thank her for that comical visual.

Okay, more tomorrow on 'As The Foot Heels'!
Sister VC

Saturday, October 1, 2011

MORE FOOT NOTES from Carly

Happy October to all and a big welcome to Fall! Always happy to say good-bye to summer...less hairballs for me and less messes for you humans to clean up.

Today's blog we're going to explain a bit about this amazing foot surgery done on our canine friend's human. In a nutshell her foot is now full of metal plates, screws, nuts, bolts. We never saw the 'before' x-rays but we sure got to see the 'after' ones. If I was more technical I'd add them to this blog but that's not gonna happen. Besides, I don't think you'd believe it even if you saw it.

Picturing the top of the foot, imagine metal plates running the length of each toe. So in the x-ray it looks almost as though she has metal instead of toes. Now that was freaky enough but then you see the side view and we're talking a pile of screws, long screws in a heap under the skin. Meet the new arch! Holy crap, no wonder she kept needing stronger pain killers. Seeing those x-rays curled my paws right up.

She is not exactly sure what will happen with all this metal just yet. The doctor hasn't mentioned removing it and the hardware is mainly in there to hold together broken bits or dysfunctional joints until they fuse together. She tells us that a mended fusion in a bone is the strongest part of a healthy bone so after that happens it will be the fusion that holds the bones together, not the metal. The doctor also took bone from the back of her heel to pack into the fractured areas to fuse them.

I might also note that Carly's Mom is a nurse so she has a better understanding of what's going on here than us lay cats who are amazed at this stuff. She was aware that she had broken her foot before and knew there were misplaced bones that eventually caused the arch to fall, which caused her a lot of pain in walking. While it's quite painful post surgery, it's nothing like it was before. The arch of her foot feels like a pin cushion and the pain across the top of the foot feels like a hot poker. But on a good note she has hope that once it heals she'll be able to walk without that horrible ache or worry that the tissue covering the fallen arch will give way. In truth she was facing amputation without this surgical procedure. One podiatrist even told her that without correction she could just treat it indefinitely and just never walk on it again. She sure didn't see that as an option.

So yes, the x-rays made her foot look like a mass of metal. The long bones of the foot each have a little plate and a couple of screws. The bones were broken and healed crooked such that the second metatarsal fracture fragment was attempting escape. The mess of steel on the big side is a plate above and below with screws through all of the little bones of the mid foot to rebuild the arch which had completely fallen flat and produced what was called a rocker bottom foot or "Diabetic Charcot" foot. Can you imagine walking on that foot? The doctors that saw her couldn't believe she'd been walking on her foot and determined she must have a high tolerance of pain. Just writing this tells me that I do not!

Following surgery she was sent home with what Carly termed "rags" on her foot. The rags were actually bandages and a splint to hold her foot in place until time for it to be put in a cast.

Okay, that's all for tonight. Tomorrow we'll bring you up to date with the trip to the doctor to remove those "rags"!

Good Night!
Sister Very Catty