Friday, November 30, 2007

My Pot Habit

[DEA agents, relax. I'm talking about clay pots here, not marijuana.]

I have told you before about my love for pottery, and showed you some of my collection. I have always wanted to learn how to make wheel-thrown pottery myself, but never got around to taking classes. Finally, I have taken the plunge into the world of clay. I am currently in the fourth week of a six week class at Scarborough Fair Pottery, and I am loving it.

(Clay-covered clothes are the mark of a potter.)

First of all, the people are so nice. Peggy, the owner, and Rachel, my instructor, are both very helpful, of course, but even the other experienced potters who come in to work are always ready to give a newbie tips or advice. And, everyone is so kind. They never laugh at the sloppy, goofy looking things that the new students produce. When I threw a very irregular pot, Rachel said, "Symmetry is over-rated anyway." If a piece turns out with a big wobble in it, someone will tell you, "I like it. It's organic." And, when I goofed up what was supposed to be a mug, losing half of the clay and ending up with a tiny little pot, Peggy said, "You could put paper clips in it." Isn't that a positive thing to say?

Thursday night I had a practice session (we get one 2 hour class and one 2 hour practice each week) and I actually felt like I was getting it. In fact, I was quite proud of this creation, which I think will be a cereal bowl. (It didn't start out to be a cereal bowl, of course, but that is beside the point.)

A bowl is born.

Here is the main working room at Scarborough Fair. There are eight electric wheels, which are smaller than I expected them to be.

This is my chunk of clay.

It was 25 lbs when I started, and I have used about 2/3 of it so far. You use a thin wire tool to cut off a section of clay, weigh it, and then wedge it. (Wedging is sort of like kneading, except that when you knead bread dough, you are putting air into it, and when you wedge clay, you are working the air bubbles out of it.) The clay is then placed on a bat, which sits on top of the wheel, is centered, hollowed out and pulled up into whatever shape the potter desires (or, in my case, whatever shape it happens to take.)

Here is Carol, one of the experienced potters, working at a wheel. This process is calling "pulling" the clay.

These are the other two pieces I made Thursday night. This was just supposed to be practice making a straight sided cylinder. I think it will probably become another mug.

This piece was going to be a short, wide vase, but it sort of got screwed up. Now, I think I might put a handle on it and make it into a basket. Or, maybe it is a candy dish. See the wobble in the right side? That's organic!

And here are some of the creations which have been fired and are awaiting pick-up by their owners. (None of these are mine.)

These are my first, pitiful little projects - two mugs, a paper clip holder, and two "salsa bowls." (Apparently at Scarborough Fair, anything which is not immediately identifiable is a salsa bowl.) These pieces have been bisque-fired, the first of two passes through the kiln, and are waiting to be glazed, which we will learn in our last week of class.

This is my "lidded vessel." Lids are hard. After you make the container, you have to make a lid that fits it. At first, the edge of this lid was nice and round and symmetrical, but it was too big. When I tried to trim it down to make it more balanced, I was in too big of a hurry and took too much clay off too fast, leaving me with a jagged edge. I never could make it round again. This pot is "leather hard" and has to dry to the "bone hard" stage before it can be fired for the first time.

Potters, working, talking, laughing. This is a happy, friendly group of women. From the right, Ginger (standing,) Carol, Peggy, and ?? (I forget her name.)

Is it any wonder I am having such fun? Next update when I have done some glazing!

Foreign Body Friday

Here we begin a new feature on KatDoc's World, "Foreign Body Friday." {Note to those with delicate systems: This post might be too gross for you.}

A foreign body is vet-speak for "something in the gastrointestinal tract that doesn't belong there." Since most patients with a GI foreign body require surgery, we really don't want to see a case every week
. This series will appear at random, just as in real life.

Jack presented on a Friday morning, with a history of vomiting all night long. In the first episode, he threw up a cardboard paper towel roll, and by morning, he had passed a large wad of paper towels, so when I felt a thickened loop of small intestine, I figured he had more paper towels inside him. Toilet paper and most paper towels will break down and be passed out in the bowels, so I wasn't too worried at first. Jack was alert, well hydrated, not painful, not vomiting, and had stable vital signs, so we gave him IV fluids and monitored him. By Saturday morning, he had not eaten or passed any stool. I could still feel a mass in his intestines, and he was acting a little lethargic.

Abdominal X-rays were taken Friday and Saturday. Before I show you the films, here's a review on how to read X-rays.

In X-rays, air is black, bones are white and the soft tissues (organs, muscle, etc.) are various shades of gray. Metal and mineral densities (bullets, lead sinkers, coins, rocks, etc.) are even whiter than bones. My standard positioning for lateral (side) view X-rays is to put the dog's head on our left, his tail on our right, with his back at the top and his belly at the bottom of the viewer. Are you with me?

Here is Jack, laying on his side. You can see his backbone running across the top of the X-ray. At the upper left corner, you can see a triangular wedge of black, which is the air in his lungs. You should also see his rib cage. Superimposed over that you can see some large, black, gas-filled "sausages," which are dilated bowel loops.

If you look closely, and if you have a good imagination, you can see two roughly circular areas, one over the lung and one over the backbone. This is the end-on view as you look down the tubes of the dilated bowels. This is what we call "an obstructive pattern." Something is blocking the flow, and gas and fluids are backing up behind that obstruction.

Move to the bottom right hand corner of the X-ray. Do you see a wide, gray, hazy, semi-circular tube shape? Here is a close-up of that area:

See it now? (It helps if you sit back from your monitor as you view the X-ray.) That is our foreign object. We describe it as "soft tissue density." (Not metal, rock, bone or air, but something in between.)

For those still having trouble, I added some indicators:

This is our patient, recovering after surgery to remove his GI foreign body.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."

It was NOT more paper towels. It was, in fact, a sock. In retrospect, given Jack's love of sock-eating, I might have been more aggressive with this case and taken him to surgery Friday afternoon instead of waiting till Saturday morning, but he fooled me with the paper towel history.

Cloth objects are potentially life-threatening. The sock or hair scrunchy or pot holder or beach towel (all things I have taken out of dogs) gets stuck to the mucosal lining of the intestine, and begins absorbing the fluids. Now, it refuses to move along, and if it stays in one spot too long, the tissues begin to die. I worry more about socks than I do about TV remotes and popsicle sticks when it comes to GI foreign bodies.

I also have a photo of the sock. Before you scroll down to see it, I should remind you that it spent 36 hours in a dog's intestine, and it is not pretty. Be sure you really want to see it before proceeding.

. . .

I'm not kidding. This thing is gross. Are you absolutely certain you want to see it?

. . .

This is your last warning. Don't blame me if you lose your lunch after viewing this photo.

. . .

OK, here you go. One GI foreign body, specifically a sock, removed from the small intestine of a young Standard Poodle:

I told you it was nasty.
You should be glad you don't have
"smell-o-vision" on your monitor.
It smells worse than it looks!

The take-home lesson here is "Socks are not toys."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bird Feeding, part 4

Edit: Sorry, I haven't been in the blogging mood lately. I even forgot Toxicology Tuesday this week, a first! I had a post prepared, but it completely slipped my mind. You'll get that one next week. Here's an "ant" post on bird feeding that I have been sitting on for a while, to tide you over. I have a new feature to share with you tomorrow, and up-coming, a post on my latest hobby.


primary birdseed is black oil sunflower. It is smaller and easier for the little birds to open than striped sunflower, and is high in oil. Fat is a very energy-dense nutrient, and essential to winter bird feeding.
You can use many styles of feeders for black oil - tube feeders, platform or hopper styles, you can even scatter it on the ground, but my favorite feeder is this Magnum feeder by Birds Choice. It holds five pounds of seed, so if I am going to be away for a long weekend, I don't worry about the feeders all running dry at the same time.

All types of little birds and woodpeckers can cling to the mesh of this feeder, and cardinals do occasionally perch on the wide seed catching tray. I used one of the original designs of this feeder, when it was two pie pans and some screening, but the newer model is superior in construction. Unfortunately, you can't take it apart, so scrubbing the inside is a little difficult.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Toxicology Tuesday, November 20

Are you doing any holiday baking this week? Be careful where you leave those yeast breads and rolls to rise, until you answer this question. Is bread dough

Toxic or Not?

Answer: Toxic

Most of those who commented on this week's post correctly identified bread dough as a potential GI
foreign body. As the dough continues to rise in the warm, moist environment of the stomach, it expands to the point of abdominal distension, and may result in bloat (GDV: Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, a life-threatening complication), or possibly even rupture of the stomach. Signs of GI obstruction include active vomiting or non-productive retching. Remember, though, obstruction is not the same as toxicity (poisoning.)

Many of this week's comments also mentioned the aroma of baking bread, which results from the ethanol produced when yeast ferments. A sufficient quantity of unbaked yeast dough will cause alcohol poisoning, and therein lies the toxicity problem.

Signs of ethanol (alcohol) toxicity include
alterations in blood chemistry, ataxia (stumbling and incoordination), depression and abnormal mental status, seizures, coma or death.

Treatment involves removal of the dough by cold water gastric lavage ("pumping the stomach") and supportive care, with IV fluids, monitoring cardiac status, and drugs to control vomiting or seizures, if needed.

Recovery takes 12 to 24 hours, but the prognosis is good with prompt treatment.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Places Where There Were Birds

Holly and I visited Crooked Run Nature Preserve this weekend. It is our usual Sunday morning excursion, at least in the fall and winter. While it started out slow, it turned out to be a pretty good walk.Of course, I have little photographic proof, so you will just have to believe me that these photos are of places where we saw and/or heard birds today.This part of the outer loop trail, where it joins the gravel road, may not look like much, but it was the birdiest place of the day. Along this short section of trail, we had 4 woodpecker species (3 Downies, 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and at least 4 very active and very vocal Northern Flickers), chickadees, titmice, White-breasted Nuthatch, many cardinals, Blue Jays, a Great Blue Heron flying off the estuary (right of the photo), White-throated Sparrows, and an unconfirmed Fox Sparrow, along the road's edge.There were 4 flickers, a White-throated Sparrow, a cardinal, and a Northern Mockingbird in this one tree.
A Belted Kingfisher flew across the estuary right here, just before I snapped this picture.
One of three bird blinds along the estuary. There was a Great Blue Heron and a Belted Kingfisher here. Honest.
Old birds' nests. There were birds here last season.
There were no birds here, I just liked the color of this little tree/bush.
Here is an actual bird, one I heard before I saw it.
And here is the enlarged photo. Does anything sound worse than the croaking call of a Great Blue Heron?

Trip List:

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Great Blue Heron
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Northern Cardinal
Northern Mockingbird
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay
Cedar Waxwings
Eastern Towhee
White-throated Sparrow
Fox Sparrow (I'm pretty sure, but it flew away too quickly)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Today's The Day!

The Ohio State Buckeyes are ready to trounce the Michigan Wolverines! Are you ready for some football?

Even the red maple in my front yard has finally turned scarlet, just in time for the Big Game.

Don't call me between noon and 4pm, as I probably won't answer.

Updates at the end of each quarter.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
1st quarter: Michigan 3, OSU 0
Halftime: OSU 7, Michigan 3
3rd quarter: OSU 14, Michigan 3
Final: OSU 14, Michigan 3
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Way to go, Buckeyes!
We're Rose Bowl-bound!!

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Football craziness is over.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog posts.
Thank you for your indulgence.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Countdown to Michigan: Day 1

Hang on, Sloopy - Tomorrow's the big day!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Countdown to Michigan: Day 2

"If you can't be an athlete,
be an athletic supporter!"

Go Bucks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Countdown to Michigan: Day 3

Look out, Michigan!
Saturday is coming, bringing Buckeye Fever!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toxicology Tuesday, November 13

During Michigan week, you just know we have to talk about BUCKEYES. We already know they are the greatest college football team in the world, but are they

Toxic or Not?

Answer: Toxic

Most cases of buckeye poisoning involve livestock, including cattle, sheep, pigs and horses, which graze on the young sprouts and leaves of the trees when other forage is scarce. Not every animal which eats the plants shows signs of poisoning, however. The buckeye seed or “nut” is toxic as well, although not to squirrels, which will eat them when more favored foods are not available.

The toxic element is called aesculin, and poisoning affects the nervous system. Incoordination and staggering, weakness and trembling, dilated pupils, depression or hyperexcitability, coma and death may all result from buckeye poisoning. GI signs are also common: dogs may have severe gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea), while horses exhibit colic.

There is no specific antidote. Like many poisoning cases, treatment is limited to decontamination and supportive care.

A fact that is well-known to Ohio State fans was not documented in any of the literature I read. Ohio Buckeyes, while toxic to many species, are, without a doubt, absolutely FATAL to Michigan Wolverines!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Michigan Week: 5 days till D-Day

It is the most important week of the year, the week leading up to the most important football game of the season. You can keep your college bowl games and professional play-off games and even the Super Bowl. For me, the Most Important Game of the Year occurs on the third Saturday of November... THE Ohio State University Buckeyes versus the axis of evil, the Michigan Wolverines. So, bear with me this week, it is going to get ugly.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Along the "All-Wild, Up-Geo, Edge-Person" Trail

Holly and I took a nice walk at the Cincinnati Nature Center this morning. We took a round-about route, following parts of several different trails, as we enjoyed the day.

We started from the auxiliary parking lot along the All-Persons' Trail. This level, paved path is geared towards those in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, or with mobility issues, but it shouldn't be overlooked just because you don't have any physical limitations.

A quick stop at the bird blind revealed Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Downy Woodpecker, and White-breasted Nuthatch in under 2 minutes. My photos of same were all out of focus, as the darned auto-focus opted to stress the
importance of the background trees and bushes rather than the little birds in the foreground. (Maybe I should read my camera's manual.)
Leaving the bird blind, we passed this field, a great spot for sparrows. I can usually count on pishing out White-throated, Song, and Field Sparrows here, as well as Eastern Towhees. Not today. Still, the view was great, especially with all the dried flower heads of the goldenrod and this old log cabin in the background. The cabin is not part of the original property, but has been brought in, presumably for educational purposes. I am of two minds about the cabin. I don't see what it has to do with native Ohio flora and fauna, nor is it part of the Krippendorf legacy, but it does present some nice photo ops.

We picked up the Upland Trail behind Lotus Pond, then turned downhill along the Wildflower Trail. Usually, I hike up this trail after walking along the valley, so going downhill gave me a new perspective.Wonder who is living in this hollow log? Looks like a good place for woodland elves or forest gnomes.Approaching the valley floor...This field is where I first heard Blue-winged Warblers, in April of 1994. It was the first time I learned to identify birds by their song. "Bee-buzzz." No more warblers now, except Yellow-rumped, till next spring.Next, we merged onto the Geology Trail, and followed it along Avery's Run. There are two places where the trail crosses the stream, and there are large limestone boulders to use as stepping stones. In wet weather, these can be very slippery, and even when the water level is low, as it was today, the surfaces are irregular and the rocks sometimes wobble a bit. I have gotten into the habit of letting my dogs go free at the crossing places, to keep from getting pulled at the wrong time and losing my footing. I know that I have Holly under as much control with my voice and hand cues as I do with a leash and collar, so I take a chance on getting caught with my dog off-lead. [This is totally against CNC rules, and I do not recommend you do it. If I get caught, I will get busted by the Trail Police and have to make my own excuses. Don't use "But, KatDoc does it" as your excuse, OK?]

Looks like the old pump house has a new roof. This stone building is all that remains of a time when the Krippendorf's water supply was pumped up to the house from Avery's Run.
The only problem with going downhill at the Cincinnati Nature Center is that eventually you have to go back UP. I thought about trying the Limestone Steps, but opted to continue along the trail. There is a trickle of water at the two little falls, but rains in the next month or so should make them more dramatic.Finally, we have no choice but to go back uphill. Oh, Holly - can we make it up all those stairs?Thank God for benches in strategic places!Edge Trail encircles Powel Crosley Lake, and features a boardwalk, a marsh, and a bird blind. Unfortunately, it is the only trail many guests ever walk. I wish more people would branch out and try some of the other trails. The lake view is beautiful in autumn, even though the light was terrible today.We ended up back on the All-Persons' Trail as we headed back to the car. A Carolina Wren in the tree next to my car surprised us as we got in. Other birds from today's walk include Red-bellied, Pileated and Hairy Woodpecker (a 4 woodpecker day is always good), Canada Geese and Mallards, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays and goldfinches.