Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ambush Vacay

I'm on vacation. I didn't tell anyone (outside of my coworkers, who kinda need to know why my cubicle will be empty for a solid week) that I was taking it, as I didn't want to have to make plans. Selfish, I know. But you know what? Don't care. Again, selfish. Again, don't care.

I sort of had to take it, actually. I earn 16 hours of vacation time a month, and am allowed to accumulate up to 240 hours. After that, I won't earn any more until I use some. It adds up fast. I was getting rather close to the upper limit, so I decided it was time for some time off.

Friday afternoon Cheryl, a friend of mine from college, called me at work to let me know she was going to be in town Saturday. She's a substitute teacher in the Wilkes-Barre-Scranton area during most of the year, but on weekends and in the summer she travels around doing demonstrations for a company that specializes in foods for dogs and cats on a raw diet.

Yep. Raw. 90% raw meats, 10% fruits and vegetables. It purports to be what dogs and cats used to eat before they met man, and is better for them. I've seen the results. Cody, Cheryl's oldest dog, had a skin condition when he was a one-year-old. She switched him to a bones-and-raw-food diet, and the condition cleared up. Now she won't feed her dogs anything else--she owns and breeds Shetland sheepdogs now.

Anyway, Cheryl was in town with a friend/co-worker/fellow Sheltie breeder (whose name just fell out of my head. How embarrassing), doing pet food demos at a natural food store in town. I stopped by to say "hi," and pet good ol' Cody, who is 14 and 1/2 now, mostly deaf, starting to go blind (Cheryl thinks) and is still a sweetheart. Got to meet another of her dogs, Banner, and three others owned by her friend (Kim? Kelly? Dang it, she had on a name tag, even): Libby, who is Banner's litter-mate, Angel, a daughter of one of my friend's other dogs, and Bella, Angel's mother. They bring their animals with them to show folks what dogs that live on a raw diet look like. They also had a three-week-old kitten with them, not as part of the demo or pet food thing. Dexter is a found kitten, three weeks old. His mama got hit by a car, and he had no one to take care of him so Kim is doing it (I've decided that until I remember her name, she will be Kim). He needs a lot of attention right now, and a number of feedings, so he got brought along. He's a sweetie.

It was customer appreciation day at the store, which is what Cheryl and Kim were doing there. There were free samples all over the place, as well as representatives from a lot of different companies. We had some local folks with food products (I've bought the jellies of the one company when I find them at the farmer's market. Good stuff. Ever had raspberry and chipotle jam on your morning toast? Wakes you up faster than coffee), and some other folks selling good-for-you energy drinks (anybody ever heard of Brain Toniq?), food supplements featuring the antioxidants found in pomegranates, something called cell food (I think), and then Cheryl and Kim with the pet food. I didn't taste any of the samples because I had peppermint gum in my mouth, and I was sure that'd throw off my taste buds. Everything in the place was 20% off, and though the aisle of herbal remedies, vitamins, and supplements had me scratching my head, there were tons of foodstuffs I need to remember to tell my family about. They have this beverage called Dandy Blend that my parents drink, it's made from dandelion root, chicory, and a number of other herbs and spices. Tastes just like coffee, but with no caffeine. All sorts of wheat- and gluten-free things that I should send to the Virginia relations--my uncle has a wheat allergy. Something called Better'n Peanut Butter, a peanut butter substitute made from peanut flour that has 1/2 the calories and about 1/4 of the fat of peanut butter. My mom had bought something similar from another company and served it with breakfast the last time I was home. 2 tablespoons are 100 calories. Well, I'm not sure what the calories were on her product, because hers was a powder you mix with water. What I was looking at yesterday was reconstituted. Hers may have had fewer calories.

There were so many things in there that I wanted to try, but I hadn't brought much money with me. I had trouble choosing. I ended up buying some crystallized ginger, some fair-trade vanilla extract, and a little bottle of maple flavoring for Cheryl's Dad. He's a diabetic who misses being able to put maple syrup on his oatmeal. He's found if you mix a little bit of maple flavoring with some artificial sweetener you get the same taste. Cheryl has a hard time finding it where she lives. So I gave that to her to give to him.

I was only planning to stop by and say hi, but wound up hanging out with Cheryl, Kim, and the animals all day. Helped out a little bit (a very little bit--mainly background stuff, aiding little kids who wanted balloons, giving the dogs water, taking them for walks, finding ticks on them (!!!That made me a little itchy), helping pack up), talked and visited a whole lot. I can't remember the last time I saw Cheryl. It's been years.

I have pictures of everyone, I'll download 'em to Flick'r just as soon as I get them off my camera.

Came home around 6:00, caught a look at myself in the bathroom mirror. My face was very pink. That's what I get for standing in the sun for four hours (their station was outside, what with the animals and all). It's gone tannish now, and probably will be back to normal by Friday. The cat spent the evening sitting next to me on the sofa, sniffing my shirt all over--four dogs she didn't know, one she might vaguely remember, not to mention the kitten. Quite a bouquet.

And that was Ambush Vacation, Day One. Day Two has been quiet, consisting of me, knitting needles, a sofa, and a TV. Don't know what I'm doing tomorrow. Which is kinda the point of not making plans.

Edited on 10/17 to add: Emailed back and forth with Cheryl last night. Her friend's name is Kim. So the name fell out of my head and reinserted itself, and I just didn't trust it.


Just Me said...

Wow... I am so green with envy I am nearly speechless. I wouldn't begin to know what to do if I had an entire week to myself. I think my head might explode.

Enjoy yourself!

Hmmm... wondernig about that raw meat diet. I wonder if it would help Knucklehead's chronic sinus problem.

G said...

Enjoy, V.

What's chipotle? Sounds like something hot.

Just Me said...

Yes, G, they're hot. A chipotle is a smoked jalapeno. I've never eaten one.

I'm the only Mexican food fan in my house, so it's extremely rare when I get to eat it. We have Taco Bell, of course, but REAL Mexican food is so much better!

--V said...

JM: Not having an animal on a raw food diet, I really don't have much first-hand information on it. But what they kept pointing out to people on Saturday was that there's a lot of corn and other grains in most pet foods, and dogs and cats are primarily carnivores. They don't need all those carbs, and it's probably the reason a lot of older pets develop diabetes. Doesn't a corn allergy cause sinus problems?

G: Thanks! I am enjoying it. I think today I'm heading out to another town to go to a little yarn shop there. The lunchtime crafting group I belong to is always singing its praises, and I've never been there. Buses don't run over there on the weekend.

And yes, chipotles are hot. The jelly (or jam, I can't remember which it is now) has a nice zing to it.

Just Me said...

At the risk of being a party pooper, didn't you mention several posts back (when you were either cleaning up for your mom's visit to see Cirque, perhaps?) that you weren't going to buy any more yarn?

Or is that no longer valid now that you have more closet space?

Just asking...

--V said...

*Puts fingers in ears* Lalalala I can't hear you!

Yes, I did say that. I have since used some up and given some away. And I have more closet space. Heck, I have a whole room devoted to my craft stuff now.

G said...

It's a law of nature: Yarn expands to fill the space available.

Grudgingly, a couple of years ago I agreed to give over the sunniest bedroom to Mrs G's three knitting machines, yarn shelving and assorted cabinets full of related junk.

I haven't seen a finished garment come out of it yet.

--V said...

Does she buy yarn just so other people can't have it? Does she go in and thumb through every craft book, leaflet, and magazine she owns, pet her yarns, sigh, and put it all away? I do. Same with my embroidery stuff and my beads.

I have problems deciding what I'm going to do with the various bits of my stash sometimes, 'cause unused supplies are full of possibilities. Once you commit them to one particular project, though, there go all the other possibilities.

Hi. My name is Vee, and I hoard things.

G said...

That is exactly it, in the first paragraph there.

Just Me said...

Your walls will say, "Wow! Who knew there were so many different kinds of yarn?"

I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.