Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Great Horned Owl Visited!

Holly Way Great Horned Owl
The Great Horned Owl in the pine tree.

This morning, while we were having coffee before work, a Great Horned Owl visited our place. It came very quietly, because I was sitting right by the window and I didn't even notice. But eventually, I knew something different was going on outside because the blue jays started screaming and they wouldn't stop! They were screaming in the pine tree right in front of our house, next to the window we were sitting by, so I started looking around. I was so shocked when I saw that the blue jays were actually trying to dive bomb a huge owl that was calmly just sitting on one of the branches in the tree!

Holly Way Great Horned Owl
Another close up of the owl in the pine tree.

We watched it perch there and try to ignore the 4 blue jays that were taking turns flying into the poor owl's head! It was under attack! The owl noticed we were watching it and it started watching us too. Then it shifted to another branch once it noticed the quail that came out from the sage bushes (they come out each morning to peck at seed we throw out in front of the bushes). The quail apparently are not afraid of the owl. The quail are very good at spotting predators from very far away, so I'm sure they knew the owl was there. For example, there is a baby hawk that sometimes visits, and tries to hunt the quail. It sometimes perches on a dead tree in the neighbor's yard, which is kind of far away, but they can recognize it's silhouette, and they don't come out when the hawk is watching. But, sometimes the quail also rely on the blue jays to call out when there is a predator around (which they are experts at), but they didn't care about the jays creaming at the owl, I guess. I think the owl must not eat quail.

Holly Way Great Horned Owl
The owl is looking up at the pesky blue jays.

Romy had to start the truck to warm up before he left for work, so he had to go out the front door, which is under the canopy of the pine tree that the owl was sitting in. We thought that maybe Romy would scare the owl, but the owl just watched him walk out the front door, start the truck, and then point the camera and take a few pictures before going back in! We watched the owl for a few more minutes from inside, but eventually it had enough of the blue jays' attack, and it flew away! Interestingly, we saw it during the day (although it was right after sunrise), which means it was probably just finished with it's early morning hunt.

Holly Way Great Horned Owl
The owl is looking up at the pesky blue jays.

This is not the first time that a Great Horned Owl has come by here. We heard them hoot-ing almost every night in the summer and fall. One time, while I was hammering shingles onto the roof of the carport, a Great Horned Owl landed on the electric pole about 10 feet away from me. I didn't notice as I was hammering away (and I guess the owl didn't care I was hammering), until it started hooting. I was trying to finish up the last few shingles, so I stayed up there until past sunset, and it was starting to get dark, and thats when I saw it on the pole! Another one was across the street on another pole, and they were hooting to each other. I read that they do that to notify each other that they are about to take the area as their hunting territory. I watched the owl for about 5 minutes, and it was sitting watching me too. But then the sighting ended when the owls had a show down hooting at each other and the one by me flew off at the other one.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Decorating for the Holidays!

Christmas Tree Lighting
The outside x-mas tree is all lit up!

This is our first Christmas at the new house! We've never really decorated much at the places that we rented, but I really wanted to do something cool. The first thing I did over this weekend was put up the multicolored icicle lights along the roof eaves. When we bought the house, there were a bunch of small hooks on the underside of where the roof hangs over. I didn't really know what they were for, but Shelby told me that they were for Christmas lighting. Over the summer, I was using them to hang bird feeders, but now I used them to string the icicle lights up. However, the hooks didn't go all the way around the house, so I went to Home Depot and bought a big pack of the little screw in hooks and finished off the rest of the house.
Once all the icicle lights were done, I had a bunch of left over lights. I got the idea that we should decorate the big pine tree in front of our house instead of having an indoor xmas tree. Plus you can see that tree from all around, so other people will see it all decorated too. When I told Romy my idea, he said I was crazy and that it would not be possible to get up the tree and that it would be a waste of time. But I was super determined!

Christmas Tree Lighting
Can you see me up there?!I'm about 3/4 of the way up.

Not even Romy could discourage me from decorating the tree. I dragged him to the store where I bought a lighted star for the top of the tree. Then I went upstairs to where our rock climbing stuff is in the closet, and pulled out my climbing harness, carabiners, and a bunch of webbing. We put the ladder up the the tree trunk and conveniently, it was high enough (13 feet) to reach the bottom branches. I started climbing, and as I went, I moved the webbing up the truck. There were a lot of strong branches, so I really didn't need the webbing, but it was really nice to have it at the top where I rested and hung off it while I positioned the star at the top.

Christmas Tree Lighting
On my way down.

Once the star was on the top, I connected it to the string of LED lights and threw them down to Romy, who was on the ground ready to start whipping the lights around the tree. It was a lot harder than I thought initially to get the lights to wrap around the tree, but we did the best we could given the branch pattern of the tree. I like how it turned out!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away....

I don't often post on the blog, yet I do enjoy looking back at the entries to see what we were doing. I realize that's only a small glimpse, and it's always Jenn writing. I think I may attempt to write more so in the future there's a more complete story. And so, onward! What prompted this entry was seeing a Gif of a Star Wars recap. It's that there Gif below.
This got me thinking - the Gif would probably not make too much sense to someone not familiar with the story, but for those who are, it's cute. I used to watch the original Star Wars movies often. I read many of the books, played video games, just generally immersed myself in another world. It took me away to a fantasy realm where ridiculously neat things were possible. I liked going there, even if for a short time, and I thought I would always have the same obsession or draw to it; I thought it a permanent thing. But I haven't watched it now in years. I still know the story, the characters, the plots, and, in the better stories, the double meanings ans symbolism. I've tried to revisit it actually. I read a novel somewhat recently, but the magic I had known previously was lost. I really tried to get into it, but the story was just not consuming. When I was younger, I could never understand certain older folk who took little interest in new movies; it was all the same thing they would say. They'd seen it before. I couldn't believe them at that time - how could you have seen a new movie before? But I realize now they were right. New movie, but a rehash of an old story. Let the mild gloating commence from those certain older folk. And so what this Gif that I just watched has done for me is made me realize (or re-realize and cement) that life keeps moving on. It's a progression. And I don't think it's a good thing to stagnate in one stage of it for too long. Progress onward, find new things, learn stuff and try stuff. I guess everything really is temporary if your timescale is long enough.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Finally, We Have a Memory Foam Mattress!

The day has finally come! Ever since getting some awesome memory foam pillows (it always starts with the pillows. . .), which were awesome, I was obsessed to find a whole memory foam mattress. However, when I found out how much they cost, I thought, craigslist? But buying used mattresses is kind of weird, so I forgot about my idea for a while. Until...

Nature's Sleep St. Bart
The mattress came in a modest size box, but weighed a ton!

Until a Groupon popped up in my e-mail where there was a deal on buying a memory foam mattress online at Nature's Sleep. It caught my eye so I opened it up. It was a deal for 75% off any memory foam mattress on their website! So I read some reviews to see if it was good or not, and they all seemed positive. Most people gave the mattresses five stars. So I went for it and bought the Groupon!

Nature's Sleep St. Bart
Inside the box was a tightly rolled mattress!

I bought the Groupon on a Saturday morning. I ordered the mattress on Saturday night. Then it got shipped out on Monday morning, and Tuesday afternoon it arrived! Woah was that fast! I thought it would come in two weeks. It came basically in two days! What's interesting is that I never thought a whole mattress could be shipped by FedEx. So I took a bunch of pictures of the unrolling and plumping-up process!

Nature's Sleep St. Bart
The mattress came out of the box tightly rolled up in plastic.

First I had to drag the box from the front door to the bedroom. This was like dragging a dead body, but I muscled through it. Next I carefully cut the box open to reveal a rolled up mattress! The one I ordered was a queen size "St. Bart" which is an 8 inch mattress that is semi-firm.

Nature's Sleep St. Bart
After cutting the outer plastic, the mattress started to expand all by itself.

The rest of the pictures show how the unpackaging process went. It was surprisingly fast! The whole thing plumped up in less than 5 minutes, but the packaging said that it will take up to 24 hours to fully plump up. It came with two sheet already on it. There is a covering that goes over the foam, and then there's a removable velvet cover that zips on and off. I can't wait to sleep on it. I am not even sure if I should put some sheets on it or not, but I think I will.

Nature's Sleep St. Bart
The mattress was actually folded in half! LOL!

Nature's Sleep St. Bart
Now its lying flat, and its time to cut open the plastic covering.

Nature's Sleep St. Bart
With the packaging cut open, it started sucking in air very fast!

Nature's Sleep St. Bart
All done!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Romy's PICC line and Appendix Goes OUT!

Over the past few months, Romy has been healing up and the surgeon finally scheduled his surgery to remove his appendix. A while back in late April, the PICC line that Romy had up his arm was taken out, after he no longer needed the antibiotics.

Romy Hospital
That's Romy's PICC line in his arm when it first went in at the hospital.

That's Romy's PICC line in a ziplock baggy.

I had to drive Romy to the dreaded hospital super early the day of his surgery, like 5 am! He got checked in, and then I was told I could wait in the hospital waiting room until he was done, or I could keep calling back to see when I could pick him up. I opted to go to school that day and get some work done, and I would call around noon to see if he was done. So that's what I did. When I called back at noon, he was actually done with surgery (that was fast!), and the man at the desk told me to come by if I wanted.

When I got to the hospital, the nurses took me to the recovery room where Romy was dosing, and getting over anesthesia. He looked so funny, and made silly faces when I took a picture of him. He was supposed to be getting lunch (gluten-free), but like usual, it was totally late. After an hour later, when it never came, the nurse gave me a coupon for $20 to go to the hospital cafeteria and bring him some food. Could you believe that!? The nurse was so nice, the food staff still as incompetent as ever! I got some soup and odwallas, and some fruit, and we ate lunch. Once the nurses saw he could eat, they got him up and walking, and then sent us home. We were out by 3pm!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Romy's Appendix Ruptures: Day Seven

What a day full of drama. I guess it never ends here at Alta Bates hospital in Berkeley. If you were in disbelief of what happened over the past few days, you will flip out over the last day at the hospital.

We were hoping that the insurance would get its act together so we could leave today. They did actually get everything ready on their part, however, before Romy could be discharged, the way he would get his antibiotics had to be arranged. We were told yesterday that Romy could go into an outpatient infusion center and get his antibiotics injected each day he needed them. However, because it being around Easter and stuff, the infusion center was closed, and the outpatient idea wasn't going to work. The only option we had was to get the PICC line in. We were really avoiding this because Romy didn't want a catheter shoved up his arm and to his heart, especially if he only needed it for a few weeks. But, I guess this was our only option, unless we wanted to stay in the hospital even longer. . . .

The nurse ordered the PICC line team to come by Romy's bed whenever they were available. Apparently, the PICC line team is in high demand and isn't available without prior arrangement. We were told we were "very lucky." Whatever.

Romy Hospital
This is the breakfast meal that finally came. Rice Crunchins!

It was still morning, but Romy's food was a bit late to arrive, as it normally was late because of the gluten-free allergy. When it did eventually come, Romy was napping, and I was bored, so I started looking at the breakfast. It was some General Mills Rice Crunchins cereal and milk, with a banana and juice. I flipped the cereal over to look at the list of ingredients. I was absolutely horrified when I read down the list. The cereal contained barley malt extract, which contains gluten! I notified the nurses right away, who contacted the dieticians. We informed them that barley malt extract contains gluten. They were very puzzled and seemed genuinely unaware of this fact. The dietician told us that they thought it was the only breakfast cereal that was gluten-free. The packaging does not indicate that it is gluten-free. Rice Crunchins is not gluten-free!

Romy Hospital
Rice Crunchins has barley malt extract, which contains gluten!

Romy doesn't have Celiac's disease, he is only gluten-intolerant. But, can you image that this stupid hospital has been feeding Rice Crunchins as the gluten free meal to the whole hospital!? This is not only an oversight on the part of the dieticians and the hospital staff, but it is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS to those who come to Alta Bates with Celiac's disease. We notified the nurses, who by this point were probably very used to us calling them, and they sent the message to the dieticians. After a few hours, the head dietician and a trainee came by to Romy's bed and were all crazy nervous and extremely apologetic. They seemed unaware that barley malt extract contained gluten. They told us that when they got our message, they had to go on the internet to check if it was true or not, and then realized that it DOES contain gluten. WTF!? Why didn't they do that before they decided on serving it? We then made a formal complaint, but who knows how far that will go. The dieticians said that they will initialize a large scale check on all the gluten free meals to check if they were indeed gluten free, and train all of their staff 'again.' Who knows if they are even competent enough to do that.

Romy is clearly grossed out by the PICC line.

This is a cartoon of how the PICC line goes in.

After all of this food drama, the PICC team finally came by. They asked me if I wanted to watch or not. I did want to watch after all of the previous experiences we've had here. It seems like somebody always has to watch to make sure things go right. However, I quickly got the feeling that the PICC team was very competent and good at what they did. The team consisted of a guy and woman, and a cart full of supplies and an ultrasound machine. They informed me that they needed to make a sterile area around his arm, so I had to step back as far as I could and wear a face mask too. First they hooked him up with all the EKG probes, to measure his heart beat, and then they got the ultrasound ready and something to do with a magnetic pickup which would see where the tip of the catheter was going inside his veins.

The team then put out a bunch of blue cloth blankets on top of Romy, which were the "sterile field." The blankets were sterile and then they rubbed the sterilizing stuff all over their arms and skin that was exposed beyond the blankets. The woman then monitored Romy's heart, and the guy began to inject the tip of the catheter into the side of Romy's bicep, and then into his vein. The team was so hysterical. The woman kept commenting about Romy's beautiful EKG, and if it was a fancy art piece in a museum. She was so serious when she said it. Then we watched the magnetic pick-up weave its way up Romy's arm as the guy was shoving the catheter into a tiny hole he punched through Romy's bicep. I was worried I would get a little sick, but it was like watching a funny movie. At one point Romy moved his hand onto the blue blankets so he could get a better look at the monitor, and the woman yelled out, "Don't touch the sterile field! The sterile field!!!!!" Romy was soooo confused and then she told him to put his hand back under the blanket. Without skipping a beat, she was back to complimenting and admiring Romy's beautiful and strong EKG signals. The guy got into it to, and then all of a sudden the catheter was in place, and it was all over. The guy counted 13 cm of line sticking out of Romy's arm, and then snipped it off, and attached an end to it that could be used to inject the antibiotics. He tested it out with saline fluid, which Romy said he could feel as a cold sensation. Then they removed the sterile field away, and gave him a few instructions, and left.

The really nice Japanese man gave me the flowers his family sent to his room, because he said, "At least I can truly enjoy them." We are finally home!

After the PICC line was in, Romy felt weirded out by it, but we were quickly distracted by the discharge operations. Once the hospital and insurance were notified that we were all set to go, it was amazing how quickly they rushed us out of there! Literally within a few hours, I was getting the car from where I parked it, and waiting for Romy who was wheel chaired out of the hell hole, and into the Subaru. But before we got out of there, the funny Japanese man next to Romy's bed insisted that we rob the room of hospital supplies. He told us to take it all, because the hospital has already charged us for everything we see in the room. Then he pressed the nurse call button and told her he needed a brand new package of latex gloves. The nurse looked confused but went to get them for him. When she came back with the gloves, the Japanese man handed them over to Romy, and said, "Here you go, you can use these." Hahahha! Then he told me to take the flowers that his family gave him the night before, because he thought I would enjoy them more outside of the hospital. He said it was too dark in the room for flowers anyways. What a nice man!

We then drove the 15 minutes home, and that was it. For the next few weeks, I will need to give Romy an IV of antibiotics, and he will have to come in a few times to get checked out to see how his appendix is healing. At some point, the surgeon will remove his appendix. Tomorrow, a nurse will come by and teach me how to inject Romy with antibiotics.