Tag Archive for family

Tornados, Chickens, and Camping, Oh my!

Tornado Warning July 15, 2014 (http://rockycoastnews.blogspot.com/)

Let me start off by saying there is almost no such thing as “standard” weather in Maine. We have a saying up here: Wait a minute, it’ll change. The weather is a constant shifting force no matter what the year. Yesterday proved that as we had our first tornado warning while living in our home. One in six years? Not too shabby.

Wait? A tornado warning, in Maine? I don’t buy it, you say. Tornadoes don’t happen here. Well, darling, they do. Mostly they never make touchdown; tornadoes blip up on the radar, are recorded, and then investigated. Those that touch down average an F-1. (For a really good list of tornadoes in Maine from 1950 to 1912, go here.) It was still unnerving to read this pop up at weather.gov and to see similar on our cell phones:

AT 645 PM EDT… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN GRAY MAINE HAS ISSUED A

*TORNADO WARNING FOR… SOUTHERN SOMERSET COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL MAINE… SOUTHEASTERN FRANKLIN COUNTY IN WESTERN MAINE…

*UNTIL 645 PM EDT…

* AT 603 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO 11 MILES SOUTHWEST OF MADISON…OR 6 MILES EAST OF FARMINGTON…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO MADISON…NORRIDGEWOCK AND SKOWHEGAN.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… WHEN A TORNADO WARNING IS ISSUED BASED ON DOPPLER RADAR…IT MEANS THAT STRONG ROTATION HAS BEEN DETECTED IN THE STORM. A TORNADO MAY ALREADY BE ON THE GROUND…OR IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP SHORTLY.

IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF THIS DANGEROUS STORM…MOVE INDOORS AND TO THE LOWEST LEVEL OF THE BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. IF DRIVING…DO NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER A HIGHWAY OVERPASS. THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS AVAILABLE…SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES…EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE…LIE FLAT IN THE NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

The tornado picked up on radar wasn’t too far from us. Not to mention shortly after our phones were pinged with a note from NOAA that there was a tornado noticed on radar right above Norridgewock. At this point we were already in the basement.

I didn’t tell you? The above is the second warning we got. The first one came in at 5:30 and was only to last until 6pm. But we live in Maine. Why get in the basement? Doesn’t that seem a little….over the top?

Let me share two videos with you. The first is a clip of a neighborhood in Rochester, Minnesota, about a month after an F-1 hit. The second is an animation of the destruction at different F-cats. Maine has been recorded as having anything from F-0s to F-2s.

A reminder: F0 to and F2 in Maine. Pieces of the house gone and trees bashed around. We live in a highly wooded area, which means one thing: shrapnel. While we have no trees near enough to land on us in a clean fall, there are plenty of big pines and willows with widow makers that would probably be chucked around and our home is full of windows. Needless to say, we decided to follow the advice of the Angels of Preparedness.

I rushed out, shooed the layers into their coop, and locked it up. (People who say you can’t herd chickens are full of it.) I did a quick check on the meat birds in the tractors and raced inside. We got Christine (lovebird) under the kitchen table. Jacks (rabbit) went into the closet in his room, cage and all. Ashes and Diamond came into the basement with us where the brooder boxes and chicks already were.

Little Mister thought our “camping” trip was a blast. We read, we had snacks, played with baby chicks, watched an episode of Wild Kratts on Dada’s phone, and had successful potty breaks. (Yes, I grabbed the potty on the way down. It was purely selfish: I didn’t feel like squatting over the sump pit if I had to pee.) We got to watch the cat get into everything as he explored an area he’s not normally allowed in and Diamond enjoyed a nap on the nice, cold floor.

Might we have gone a little above and beyond? I think not. Even if we did, it was a fun experience “camping” in the basement for an hour or two.

Ashes’ Story

*** Some of the specifics might be missing, such as vets’ names, medications I forgot about, and other things that don’t really matter, but I wanted to share Ashes’ current health scare as a way to celebrate how well he’s doing right now. ***

So things have finally calmed down around our household.

In June Ashes, our 17 pound black Maine cooncat mix went in for his check up and an update on his shots. I asked one of the vets about an interesting issue: if you scratched right above the base of his tail, Ashes would go into a trance of sorts, waving his head back and forth while drooling. She thought it was odd, that she had only seen cats do that when they had a hot spot from fleas, which he didn’t. She said to keep an eye on it and to see what would happen.

I don’t know if it’s related, but it wasn’t long after that when things got scary, and a bit crazy, around here:

At the end of August – I think it was the 26th – we woke up to a cat crying in pain every now and then and not being able to use his box. We figured it was just that he was backed up with hairballs, as that had happened before, but never to such an extent. After picking up some laxatone and administering it, he settled down for a bit. Half an hour goes by and he’s upstairs vomiting up the last THREE feedings he had. He wouldn’t let me touch him and was severely lethargic.

We brought him to our vet, which thankfully does ER visits. Poor Ashes had a severe urinary blockage. I had never in my life heard of that happening in cats, but I’ve only ever had females. He stayed for a week. It was a VERY long week of twice a day check ins, a visit with Little Mister (my two year old human kiddo), and two different catheter inserts.

Ashes finally comes home. He’s on a list of meds including Valium, which is supposed to give him the munchies. It doesn’t. He’s urinating very little, refusing to eat – we had to force feed him with a syringe for two days -, and still hiding. He did seem better than before and since he wasn’t eating AT ALL at the vet’s office (went from 17 lbs, to 15 lbs in a week), our vet opted for him to stay home unless things went downhill.

They did.

All of a sudden it came on: Ashes would go to the box, act like he was urinating WITHOUT straining but nothing was there. The box was bone dry. I brought him in again. Our vet checked him over and decided that the bladder was way too small. Something was obviously wrong. We opted for an exploratory surgery. Sure enough Ashe’s bladder had a dead spot on it that was leaking urine into his abdominal cavity. the bladder wall was super thick, which made that nasty “cancer” word come up. After the surgery he was in the vet’s for another week to make sure all went well. He dropped more weight (down to 14.7) as he still wasn’t eating there due to not being comfortable.

We finally got to bring him home. He was on a two-part probiotic, amoxicillian, prednisone, and an appetite stimulant. Pilling was originally alright, until Ashes starting getting his strength back. We also had a fake scare as neither hubster nor I knew that cats will froth a the mouth to try to remove nasty tasting items – such as the apetite stimulant he was on.

Unfortunately, even with the stimulant, he still wasn’t eating well and gave us yet another scare when he went off his food and began having severe withdrawal tremors as the prednisone dose dropped down. After another night at the vet’s, an extension of the prednisone which cause severe stomach issues, and a change from the prednisone to an inject-able anti-inflammatory that tapered off over 10 days, he’s caught a break.

Ashes is now acting like his own self again. While there will be a long time span of me being paranoid and checking his box every time I walk by, he’s on the mend. While I still get panicky about how much food he has or hasn’t eat, he’s on the mend. While I still double check any spit up with a paper towel to check for blood, he’s on the mend.

Ashes is one hell of a trooper.

Maine Environmental Board Backs Limited BPA Ban

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited we are as a family to hear about the BPA ( Bisphenol A) ban in baby food becoming one step closer to reality in Maine. This would make Maine the third state to rid themselves of this harmful chemical.

Is BPA really dangerous? Well, some say yes and some say no. I say that any man-made chemical that we don’t understand fully shouldn’t be used in mass amounts in our food sources. Given that the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has found some issues with BPA, that should help move a few people in the direction of at least thinking about the possible dangers of BPA.

Wait, you say, they only mark SOME concern at most, so I shouldn’t have to worry about it.

Here’s what I pose to you as a thought to think on: Theses tests were done on lab rats. While they are a common test subject for many reasons, they are still not human beings. Testing a chemical on a completely different species only gives us an inkling of an idea of the possible side effects. For the chemical BPA the side effects seen have been:

  • hyperactivity
  • impaired, altered, and compromised immune system and functions
  • miscarriage
  • impaired female reproductive development
  • sperm defects
  • lowered sperm count
  • chromosome abnormalities
  • chromosome sorting errors
  • genitalia deformity
  • early onset of puberty
  • impaired learning and memory
  • increased aggression
  • reversal of normal sex differences in the brain structure
  • elimination of sex differences in behaviour
  • changes in response to painful or fear-provoking stimuli

Obviously this one chemical isn’t the sole cause of theses issues, but as it can be a contributing factor, do we really want to see what this can do to us as a species in the long term? Do we want to see these chemicals entering our children’s bodies? Or to be more selfish, our own?

After the story started breaking throughout the news world, the American Chemistry Council’s Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group released the following statement:

The consensus of government agencies across the world, including the experts at FDA, is that based on the science, BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials. As recently as September, Health Canada reviewed the science on BPA and stated that based on the overall weight of evidence: ‘that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.’

It is important to allow the federal government’s regulatory authorities to make science-based decisions and not to create patchwork state restrictions when it comes to consumer products. BPA is one of the most thoroughly tested chemicals used today and has a safety track record of 50 years.

Dare I mention DDT, Silent Spring, and the countless years that people were told that the toxic chemical was safe for them?

But the FDA says it’s safe. The FDA even banned BPA from sippy cups and bottles.  So, if it’s harmful enough not to be in bottles and sippy cups, why are we still allowing the FDA to claim that we should be able to consume products that have been carried in BPA plastics and BPA coated cans?!

Canada has even gone so far as to ban BPA.

Europe started the process back in 2010:

In an open letter to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), a group of 60 scientists and health campaigners from 15 countries said they feared exposure to the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) could damage health, particularly among vulnerable groups such as babies and pregnant women.

I think that, given the unknown effects of BPA in teh long term, there’s really no room for discussion as to whether or not this toxic chemical that other nations have already seen fit to do away with should be tossed like an old hat in the States as well. We, as parents, need to make sure our voices are heard on this. With current politics only looking at finances and gun control, we need to be the keepers of our food supply and make sure what we are feeding our families is safe – Safe for us, future generations, and the environment.

 

 

Musical Moments on the Homestead

One of the best things about having family visit are the hobbies and interests that can be shared by the group. When Isaac, Joe’s brother, visited the day after Thanksgiving, he brought up his guitar. In what’s becoming a tradition around here when Isaac stops by, we spent a few hours on Thanksgiving weekend as a family singing random songs – Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Boston, and a little country. Vaughn absolutely loved it and was rocking out to the music. While I didn’t get any footage of that, I did sneak a bit of Joe (one the left) and Isaac (on the right) singing “Amanda” by Boston. I stressed that I shot this without them knowing, so it’s raw. You can hear my son playing at my feet, and our lovebird singing with the boys.

It’s amazingly homey and I love it.

 

I promise that next time I’ll try to get a cleaner, less candid video. (I say this just to appease the boys.)

Project Nursery Is Finished!

Part of the reason for the silence on our blog the past two months has a lot to deal with the fact that we’re expecting our first child (due on Nov. 7th). In order to prep the room we chose for the nursery, a lot of fore work had to be done, in large part due to the fact that it looked like there was a broken floor joist that needed to be sistered somehow to a stronger one.

Knee-wall above the stairs. (Oh, and Belle helped with a lot of this.)

To do the work on the floor, we had to remove the knee wall that went around the top of the stairs. I was ecstatic to find that my idea of this area originally being a loft was spot on when we uncovered dowel holes for the railing underneath the wall. What I wasn’t impressed with finding were that these walls were just one inch by one inch posts with cheap paneling thrown up over it. That seems like a safety issue to me.

Here you can see where the railing from along the loft area originally was.

I’ll make the longest stage of all this work into the briefest possible description I can, as it took a long time for the Joe and I to do, especially with my slowly receding lack of mobility. We had to pull up the carpet and sub-floor, which meant taking out the hallway wall as that wall had apparently been put up after they worked on the floor.

Pulling up the plywood underneath was a pain as it kept splintering and coming out piece by piece. However, the beauty beneath was well worth it! Even though the boards are relatively beaten up and the paint is wearing off, we were both happy to see wide pine board underneath the plywood. Once these boards were revealed, we decided that there was no way we were putting rug back in the room, especially after what Joe found when he got into the floor itself to check the joist: there are actually two layers of pine board that make up the floor. This is in the older part of the house (1920s) and once again proves that modern day designs have nothing over the longevity and planning of the older ones!

After prying up a few boards, Joe was able to peer in and figured that it looked like the joist had been worked on at one point, but to figure out what had been done and how to go about adding more support in the floor itself would be a huge undertaking and would possibly risk ruining the floor. We decided that it would be in our best interest to go with our back-up plan of putting in a column off the stairs to help support the floor. Needless to say, it’s a good thing we had already worked on fixing around the stairs way back when.

Once the floor was supported, Joe went on to build the knee wall, hallway wall, and install a door, which was something the room never had previously. Everything came out wicked! While it was definitely a learning process, things went much more smoothly than I thought they would.

While all this was going on, we decided to remove the rest of the cheap paneling in the room and paint over the horsehair plaster. We were blessed with receiving some left over paint from some friends of ours that just had their first child this summer. All we had to do was buy trim paint.

Needless to say, this is all “old news.” For those of you that know us in “real life” or that have friended me on Facebook know that the “nursery” is no longer the “nursery” and is not Vaughn’s room.

Seeing how this is also the first update in a very long time, I’ll leave you all with this wonderful smile!