Archive for the ‘Buzz’ Category

Tea with Tycho

11 September 2010

Actually, the title should be “Tea while Tycho hides under the bed.”

We’ve adopted a new kitty!

This is Tycho, who is from South Carolina and is probably a little over a year old.  When he languished, unadopted, in a humane society shelter, he was shipped to Pennsylvania along with other unadopted animals and turned over to TreeTops Animal Rescue.  One of my colleagues at school fosters animals for TreeTops, and she and her husband had been caring for Tycho for about three weeks when school started and I told my department the sad news about Buzz.  We made a date for us to come meet Tycho in his foster home, filled out an online application, and welcomed Tycho into our house on September 9th.

He’s part Maine Coon cat and part something else (listed as Domestic Longhair, but I doubt it), so he has furry paws, long ear hair, and an incredibly soft coat.  He’s also tiny compared to Buzz, just a little scrap of a thing (which is unexpected, since Maine Coons are known for being large)!  Tycho loves to cuddle, but he’s still pretty skittish around us.  He spends a LOT of time under the bed.  I was able to get a better photo there than when he was in a corner behind a chair.  But he does explore and play also!  He is very active at night.  The first night he was with us he woke us up at 3 AM with a couple of loud meows.  The second night, he discovered the TOP of the bed.  Any hand not under the covers should obviously be petting him and scratching under his chin!  Happily, he declined to sleep on my face.

We are enjoying getting to know Tycho, and it is hard to be patient.  But we know we have to let him get comfortable in his own time.  So far he enjoys our loft, has found some of Buzz’s old toys and also some items not originally meant to be cat toys.  He hasn’t clawed the furniture or had any outside-the-litter-box accidents.  And when he cuddles, he purrs and purrs.  PrRrRrRrRrRrrrRrRrRrRrrrRrRrRrRrRrRrRrRr…..

I hope Tycho will help me get back on track with blogging.  I apologize for the lack of forthcoming information!  Meanwhile, if you are curious, I have started a specific-to-teaching blog: The Virtual Image.  This is intended to be about what I am doing in the classroom, how it went, and how I might do it better next time.

Tea without Buzz

22 July 2010

One week ago, I took Buzz to the vet.  He was vomiting, and lethargic, and had stopped eating.  He’d had a vomiting episode in May, and recovered just fine.  But this was different.

The vet diagnosed Buzz as constipated and dehydrated, and took an x-ray to determine exactly how constipated.  He was disturbed by the shape of Buzz’s liver as seen on the x-ray…it was almost as if bites had been taken out of his liver.  Weird.  Buzz stayed at the vet’s office all afternoon for intravenous rehydration and the vet also gave him a steroid shot and an antibiotic, just in case.  Blood was taken for testing, but the results would not be back until the next day (Friday), and it was suggested that I might need to bring Buzz back for more hydration.

On Friday, the vets were so busy that they did not have time to call me with the test results by 11 AM, and I was nervous so I took Buzz back to the vet.  There were anomalies in the blood test results, but they were inconclusive.  Maybe it was an infection, maybe something else.  I had the option of arranging for an ultrasound, but since that would either tell us that there was nothing we could do or it would be inconclusive, that seemed pointless.  Buzz got another steroid shot, another antibiotic shot, some subcutaneous fluids, and confirmation that he was no longer constipated.  Since he still wasn’t eating, I also got some Prescription Diet a/d food and a couple of syringes to squirt diluted food down him in hopes of stimulating appetite.  If cats stop eating, their liver becomes all fatty and it is a major problem, and the vet and I wanted to prevent further complications from whatever the underlying problem turned out to be.

I spent the rest of Friday in a whirlwind of activity, as I prepared to leave town for a physics teacher conference in Portland, OR.  I did laundry, pickled a large number of cucumbers, took care of Buzz, went grocery shopping, packed, cooked, and generally exhausted myself before having to get up at 4 AM on Saturday to catch a 6:30 AM flight.  My husband drove me to the airport Saturday morning with the promise to take Buzz back to the vet later that morning.

When I arrived in Portland, I had a very upsetting voice mail.  The weird “bites” out of Buzz’s liver were lymphoma, which was filling Buzz’s chest and which had visibly spread since the x-ray on Thursday.  Our only option was to keep him comfortable as long as possible, and when he started to suffer we would end his suffering.  In Portland, and not at home, this was tough on both of us.  However, my sister-in-law, her father and his companion were all there in Portland also (SIL lives in nearby Vancouver, Washington, and FIL and friend happened to be visiting from Massachusetts).  They met me with big hugs and sympathy, and that was much better than being alone in an unfamiliar (though very nice) city.

Later, my sister in law took me out drinking, at my request.  I’ve never been particularly good at getting drunk, but I made an attempt.  We toasted Buzz, and I recounted happy/funny memories.  We went to the Green Dragon, which has an astonishing array of local beers that I had never heard of, all on tap.  The helpful bartender quizzed us on our preferences and set up two tasting flights for us before we settled on “Fearless Scottish Ale” (see reviews at

Saturday night Buzz ate a little, my husband reported on Sunday.  Encouraging!

Unfortunately, Buzz was much worse on Monday.  Wheezing and scared.  My husband left work early to bring him to the vet, and Buzz passed at 12:10 PM.  My husband called me at the conference, and I left the session I was in to talk on the phone and cry.  We both cried.  I consoled myself with doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts, which my conference roommate had procured Sunday and kindly offered to share.

Buzz was six years old, a sweetie, and a dummy.  He was extremely tolerant of squeezing and hugging, and adorably was nearly mute.  Where some cats I have met are very vocal, the most Buzz could usually muster was a barely-audible squeak.  The one exception was when I returned him to the vet to get his stitches out after he was fixed (one testicle wasn’t descended and they had to cut in to get it out).  He uttered one loud and long “MEOW” as soon as he realized where we were.

Buzz loved to be given fresh water.  He didn’t drink water to excess, he just liked it fresh.  Either of us walking to the kitchen would be followed and squeaked at as we approached the sink.  Filling Buzz’s water mug held his attention, and he would often perch on the kitchen step stool and lean out as close as he could to the sink.  He never figured out that he could leap up to the counter and get to the sink himself.

Buzz was not effective at killing mice or scaring them out of the house, though he did catch a few.  He would bring them to the living room to play with them.  Still, my husband trapped significantly more mice than Buzz caught in the six years Buzz was with us.

Buzz was, like most cats, adorable.  We named him Buzz for the loud purr that, as a kitten, seemed extraordinarily loud to come from such a little cat.  He didn’t stay little for long.  At his peak, Buzz was a 15-pound lazybones.  He wasn’t obese, just big.  Here he is, being extra adorable, last summer:

Buzz was born to a feral mother and landed in the back yard of friends of ours in the spring of 2004.  They took him to the vet and arranged for his socialization, and we were pleased to be the lucky family that gave Buzz a permanent home.  Buzz was truly a lucky cat, and we were lucky to have been his family.

I miss Buzz!

Queensland Blue

2 November 2009


This is a Queensland Blue squash, which we got (of course) in our CSA share.  This particular one seems more green than blue, but I was able to get the blue tinge in the photo by using bright overcast daylight lighting.  This photo does not show the size well, so here is the squash with the universal squash size indicator, Buzz:


He’s clearly thinking, “another squash? Gimme a break!  I’m trying to nap here.”

I decided to make soup with this squash, and I found a recipe on Messy and Picky’s blog. Picky (the author of this particular post) neglected to mention that the seeds are very tenacious in these things, and I think he grossly underestimated the time needed in a 400-degree oven to become soft.  If that was 40 minutes, I’m a shoe.  Here are the chunks before cooking:choppedQB

In turn, I neglected some of the steps in the recipe (stopping to take photos of chopped veggies) and I used an immersion blender instead of a food processor for pureeing.  I have done the food-processor method, and I have done the blender method, and I can tell you that getting hot pureed soup all over the kitchen and oneself is doubly bad: both painfully hot and tedious to clean up!  The immersion blender is AWESOME (thanks mom and dad!)!!!!

Finally, I topped my soup with some toasted seeds from the squash and from the pumpkin I carved earlier (see previous post).  My husband is not a big soup fan, but I LOVE soup, and this stuff is indeed delicious!


French toast, Japanese vocabulary

2 March 2009

We’re having another snow day today.  And it is still snowing.

This morning I made French toast for breakfast.  Where I live, every time there is a snow storm in the immediate forecast, people crowd into grocery stores en masse.  It’s amazing!  The joke is that everyone has to buy bread and milk and eggs before the snowstorm…but why?  Clearly the food of choice during a snowstorm is French toast!  So I made some this morning:


Mmmmmm, with New York grade A medium amber pure maple syrup from the Edwards’ farm.

I was going to just wait until it stops snowing to shovel, but the shoveling guy who has been here before came back asking another $10 to shovel.  I figure sure, and I will shovel again this afternoon (only it will be less work) once it’s over.  I’m a sucker for stimulating the economy these days.  Over the weekend I spent a bunch of money (well, less than $100) at, where you can buy all sorts of Japanese items.  I bought some flash cards for learning nouns and greetings, and some notebooks with red and green transparent overlays and some red and green pens and highlighters which are study aids.  You write your vocabulary words with red and green and then you can quiz yourself by blacking out either the English words or the Japanese words with the overlays.  The asian markets aren’t doing well either, and stimulating the world economy can only be good for our economy, right?

I’m up to lesson 15 in the My Japanese Coach program, and I can put together a few simple sentences.  I almost had the opportunity to practice when I was in Chicago–as I was going through security in O’Hare, there were a couple of Japanese women ahead of me.  They were having a lot of trouble understanding the TSA person’s instructions, particularly when the TSA person told them they had to have their boarding passes in their hands when they walked through the metal detector.  Luckily, I had my boarding pass in my hand, and I was able to point at it, helping the Japanese women understand what they needed.  At that point I could have said “Kyou wa getsuyoubi desu” or “Watashi wa onna no hito desu” but to say “Today is Monday” and “I am a woman” seemed pretty lame, so I kept quiet and just pointed at stuff.

By now I can tell you in Japanese that Buzz is a cat and Buzz isn’t energetic.  Here he is in a typical non-energetic pose:


Buzz-san wa genki dewa arimasen. Kare wa neko desu. Buzz-san wa doko desu ka?

One of these days I will figure out how to put the kiragana in on the computer, but for now all I can do is scan.

Keep warm!