Thursday, October 30, 2014

Going Out on Broom Stick!

Tomorrow is my last day and I plan on wearing a witch hat all day!  I don't have a broom stick, but if I did, I'd ride out of work on it!

I am at a spot where all my work is just about tied up and the group I was helping out had me going all day piling stuff on so I'd be able to leave things clean.  Two co-workers took me out to lunch.  If I get the job I interviewed for, I'd be very surprised.  The more I work with the group, the less of a fit I think I'd probably be for that position.  A decision is being made tomorrow and today I was asked if I would be willing to extend my contract for them. Kinda makes me think that's because I'm not a contender for that job.  An extension is impossible based on policy, but at least that little exercise let me know where I stand.  On the very outside chance I get an offer, I will be very skeptical and will be asking why.  I know that sounds weird, but I just got the vibe that I was short on some very important qualifications.

I did say that if I was offered an extension that I'd take it only because they hope to have a different position open later on that I think I'd be a fit for (and it involves the type of work I am doing now).  That might have been a subtle way for me to let them know that I'm not sure the job I applied for is right for me.  And that's the way I am -- I will come out and ask something directly only if I know the person is comfortable answering me.  I just didn't think the guy wanted to come out and tell me that he didn't want to hire me for the job.

Two people asked me to do special tasks tomorrow before I go that I think I can fit in.  Then I have to clean out my desk -- which I never really put anything personal into because of the temporary nature of this gig.  There are a lot of people I'll have to go around and say goodbye to and the group is taking me to lunch.  I gave a gift of pre-cooked bacon to a colleague I've worked with a lot. We are lunch buddies and he always eats bacon.  There's often a candy bar too.  We did a lot of writing  jobs together and he always adds commas when he edits my work. So I made him laser printed wrapping paper with bacon, candy bars and commas.   The woman who hired me is a foodie, so I went to the pasta store and got her a bag of noodles.  I wrote her a note to go with it.

I had a good year at this job and am fine leaving now because it's on a positive note.  It will be nice to take a break and The Big Guy needs some attention right now which I am looking forward to giving him.   I really can't wait to sleep in on Monday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dog Days

My days and evenings have been so busy now that my contract is winding down and my dog is on a special diet.  An exploding inbox added on top of that and I am buried!  That's why I am missing blog postings.

I started a batch of dog food in the pressure cooker and took the dog for a walk. Don't you know I turned on the wrong burner?  There was a saute pan on that burner -- but rather than ruining it, it made it possible for me to wipe some dark spots off of it!  I then made dinner and let the pot cool before pouring in a can of chub mackerel.

The food comes out quite wet, but I include the juice for flavor and because it has extra oil and nutrients in it.  I'm using whiting filets, white potatoes and yams.  This is a novel source of protein the dog has not had before.  I am adding other oils and a few spices but a lot of the omegas come from the mackerel.  If you feed this, you'll want to give some form of calcium. I'm just going to grind up a pill or two and mix it with each container as I thaw it. I hope TBG finds room in the freezer for it!
Here is one batch that should last us about five days.  Once I pour it in her dish, I add in some nutritional yeast flakes.  This made of all human grade ingredients from the supermarket and we could eat it too -- if we wanted a really yucky meal!  She is getting a multivitamin with each meal, which she likes quite a lot.  We're also giving her my flax/chia seed with coconut oil and herbs treat at night.  While I feel bad because she isn't swimming any more and her fun time is limited to walks, I don't feel sorry for her otherwise because she loves this food plan.
She has worn the doughnut since Saturday and has basically been unable to lick her to spots.  We've been cleaning and spraying them twice a day.  She gets the Burt's Bee spray and powder at lunch.  The areas are crusting over but she will have to be treated for at least a week or more. 

We are just about out of the prescription anti itch/cortisone pills so we will need to get more.  She has also gotten free of her doughnut twice.  It's going to be important that she not figure out how she did it (it's been an accident both times).  Should she have access to these spots to lick, we'll be in trouble.

I know this is gross and uninteresting to some, but healing this condition is the focal point of our lives right now.  If it gets worse, she'll need a lot more drugs and it will cost a lot more money.  Our hope is that we can handle this on our own.

On a non-dog note, I am working very hard to tie up loose ends at work.  I am just filling in for another department so I probably shouldn't care so much.  However, I might have a chance at a placement with this group.  Since it's not a sure thing, it makes it hard to get motivated.  If the good work I am doing doesn't lead to a placement, I have made up my mind to take this bank off of my list of potential employers as I move forward looking for my next opportunity.  Once I am out of that environment, I will probably be much less inclined to go back.

Friday is my last day.  After that, I'm doubling up my vigilance on  hot spot control!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Well-Fed Weekend!

We were well taken care of by friends this weekend. I didn't have to make dinner once!

On Friday, we ate at one of our many favorite cafes.  On Saturday, we were made mussels over at Jim's house.  Tonight our friends Bill and Paula had us over because he wanted to try his new recipe for St. Louis ribs out for guests.   Boy were we lucky. The mussels were great.  The ribs were the best we've had outside of a restaurant -- and better than many we've ordered as well.

Since Jim and his wife drink, we brought a few bottles of champers and she had one for the evening too.  Three adults drank three bottles.  Mussels, bubbly and good company -- who could ask for more?

Bill and Paula don't drink so I brought her over hand painted tile refrigerator magnets.  They weren't my own work -- they were a very nice set we found at the Tulip Festival in Albany this past summer.  I departed with an arm full of magazines, a new prescription spray to try for hotspots and a cast iron Golden Retriever door stopper.

Whatever happens or not with work is fine by me... the important thing is that I have the most awesome friends and once you're that lucky, the rest will work itself out.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Doughnut Head

We are really struggling with hot spots.  Teddy got her cone off on Tuesday and it was evident on Wednesday that she managed to start another hot spot.  The one on her face has healed and the cone had a lot to do with that.  The problem was that when I put it back on her, she became noticeably depressed. We felt really bad for her.

Petsmart has these inflatable collars that are about 15 bucks more than the plastic E-collar most people use.  This was almost 40 bucks but there was a 20% off sticker because someone had previously tried it on.  She seems to be doing better with it but as you can see, she is not thrilled.  At least this has a more "pillow" type feel to it and it's not as clunky.  We had a fine walk in it this afternoon.

This is one of her new hot spots.  We are cleaning it with a vet-prescribed wash and letting that dry before applying Gold Bond powder.  In between, I am using a hot spot spray by Burt's Bees.  We are lucky that it was caught early and that while it is big, it is not a violent red oozing scab.

While I know this is not a "dog" blog and this topic probably bores a lot of people, it's a big deal for us.  Treating these kinds of skin conditions can get very costly.  I am hoping that we can avoid the vet as we did with the last one.

The bottom line is that we need to get to the root of the problem.  This may be a seasonal allergy or it might be an environmental irritant.  It doesn't seem to be food but I am keeping her on the novel fish based diet for another few weeks.

Tomorrow we are rinsing the upstairs hall rug she hangs out on.  I've used a lot of spot cleaners on it and maybe those are irritating her skin.  We just don't know!  We'll also wash the cover on the big bed that she sleeps on.  Maybe there's a fungus or bacteria on that.  Who knows?

We're just doing all we can to avoid another round of antibiotics --  but we are on the oral cortisone/anti itch prescription -- which I also hate to use.  I may also resort to letting her hair grow completely out and not take her swimming.  Maybe having a longer coat will shield her skin from irritation.  At this point, I am willing to try almost anything!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dinner Soup

One way I can get five veggies a day into our diet, is to throw everything into a bowl of soup.  This was made with chicken, carrots and potatoes roasted on Sunday.  Then I used the stock I made, along with some from a box.  The stock and broth were pureed with three tomatoes and simmered on the stove while I cooked up some barley.  It all got tossed together with some baby spinach and shredded cheese.  And what bowl of soup would be complete without a hunk of crusty bread and a glass of wine?

I managed to make this quick dinner after a chat with a recruiter over a job that pays a lot more than what I am making now, but is certainly not a sure thing and a subsequent three mile walk and a romp in a field with the pup.  Being honest with the recruiter, I told her I was very close to getting an offer for full time from the bank I am with now (the prospective position is also with a bank), but I still don't know for sure.  Meanwhile, I am working along in the *new* department and establishing ties with the people there.   One of my most favorite people in the department I was in is retiring at the end of the year.

A month ago, my cubicle neighbor's contract ended and it killed me. I formed a great working relationship with the guy and I liked him so much that it was hard to see him go.  Now this other guy is retiring, which means I am ready to move on.  It will be nice to have a new set of colleagues to slip into if the position I have been primed for comes through.  It's funny how after many years of working in a small company and being a bit intimidated about starting over again in a larger environment, that I've managed to make so many great work buddies.  It's only been a short while here but I've seen people go already that I miss a lot. Environment and relationships at work are just as important to me as pay.  I am hoping it all works out for the best!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Another Strange Meal

I make strange meals, and I know it!  This is a dish that had it's first odd start by me cooking the eggplant in advance by peeling it and stuffing it inside a chicken while I baked it.

Then I had a spinach salad (vinaigrette and all) that I didn't get to eat at lunch. I dumped it in the food processor with a bit of stock and wine and that was the basis for the topping the pasta.  I had sauteed mushroom and onion and then dumped in the pureed salad and heated it up. 

I had thought to give the salad to the pup then I thought that it made more sense for us to still find a way to eat it.

As for non strange stuff... Teddy got the cone off today and she was ballistically happy about it. I made up a word in that sentence but it described her bouts of bouncing and cuddling and bouncing some more when I freed her.  Even though it was drizzling, we took a nice long walk on the bike path.

I had a phone interview for the position I am now under consideration for.  It lasted six minutes.  The manager who I had already interviewed for had called the recruiter in advance.  The next step will be another call from them in the next few days.  So I should know if/what I am being offered.  There is work being lined up for me next week which should mean something as my contract is up on the 31st. I signed up to enter a chili cook-off in November, so I hope to be around to have a shot at that.  For me, it always comes back to food!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Winning Small Battles

I think we are winning the battle of the hotspot this time around.  With the cone on and religious cleaning and powdering, the spot has shrunk.  Teddy is under-stimulated as there is no rigorous exercise to be had when you are a dog wearing "The Cone of Shame."  I am feeding her a novel fish-based diet which she is loving and the small flax/chia seed/coconut oil chews I made for her are a new favorite thing.  I hope the cone can come off tomorrow -- we'll wait until the evening to see how the spot goes over night.  If she scratches it again, the cone will go back on until the sore is more than completely  healed.  That might sound a bit cruel but if we treat it, it doesn't seem to bother her too much and we're almost through a sore without having used a course of antibiotics.

I'm on to another phase of finding a new job tomorrow.  I had a phone interviewed scheduled with the bank this morning but their recruiters are overwhelmed and it had to be rescheduled until tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I've already met with and interviewed with the actual department manager -- we did it that way for expediency.  While this is nothing I'm going to count on (so many other promising situations have fallen through), I think it's a sound prospect.  This would be a new and slightly different career path that I had not anticipated but that is OK. IMO, you will server yourself best if you are open to the opportunities that come our way and if you welcome the chances that you might not have originally envisioned for yourself.  I think that is the best way to grow professionally. I'm not one for having a grand plan/career path charted for the future.  I'm one for grabbing an opportunity and running with it.  That's a swell way to get ahead as far as I'm concerned.

I think I've given myself a small challenge to no longer feel I have to cook and clean and cram everything that needs to be done into my spare time. I got tons of stuff done on Sunday, but I was miserable and tired when I was done.  I didn't enjoy much of the day at all.  The cooking was swell to start, but it was too much work.  My goal, other than finding another gig, is to learn to relax more.

Well readers, do you think I can do it?