Friday, December 9, 2011

Dear Santa...

Since Thanksgiving, I've been feeling a sense of writer's block - all my creative juices have been expressly dedicated to coming up with just the right gift for everyone in my continually expanding family.  I made a few breakthroughs today and finally came up with fun gifts for my brothers-in-law (well, at least, I think they're fun), and as such, my mind feels at ease enough to share some of the things that have been making us all jolly over at the vet's office lately.

So, this is the first time in years that I've felt like writing a letter to Santa.  I can actually pinpoint the specific moment I stopped believing in the man, the legend - I was six, I had asked for a kitten for Christmas, and on Christmas morning, instead of finding a live furry bundle of joy in a box with a bow, I found instead an elaborately written letter from Mr. Claus that explained to me that he couldn't bring me a kitten for Christmas because my mother is allergic to cats and I didn't want to make her miserable, did I?

Hell, I was six.  I could have cared less if my mom was miserable.  I wanted a blessed cat.  Furthermore, if Santa was really real, he could have magicked away my mom's allergies and made us all happy.  Fifteen years later, I got myself a cat.  Thanks a lot, Santa.

Anyway, I've been more inclined to believe in the Jolly Fellow again since our local newspaper has carried on its tradition of publishing every child's Santa Letter in the newspaper this year.  This past week's edition featured a four-page spread of kids' wishes and exclamations of love for dear old Santa.  It put me in the spirit, AND it makes for hilarious down time at work.  Every few minutes, someone will grab the paper and say, "Here, here - listen to this one!" and read aloud.  Jessica even sat in on surgery the other day and read me Santa Letters while I was doing a leg amputation.  It made it way more fun.

We all thought you all would enjoy some of these gems.  Unfortunately I'm a week late and have only gotten Piney Creek's choice letters scanned, but if you want more, I'll post some next week.

These made it into our top eight - You know what, Ava?  I like watermelon and pizza too.  I hope you get your cantaloupe for Christmas.  Oh and Madison, if you get your McDonald's Drive Thru, please put it in town so we can raise our fast food restaurant count to three an I can start having McFlurries again. 
All the kids that asked for a pet for Christmas.  We should have run an ad for the Animal Shelter right under the Santa Letters.

In closing, I'm going to post my Santa Letter for all yall's viewing pleasure.  My premise is that the Man can make any wish come true, so I'm aiming high, folks.

Dear Santa,

I think I'll forgive you for the kitten incident of 1989.  I mean, I guess since you managed to send me another little brother five days after Christmas that year and eventually, I grew to like him, it's ok.  This year though, I'm really hoping you come through.  

1.  Please make Aaron Ray learn to love Gidget as much as I do.  I really want her to live with us forever, and she's much cuter now that she grew some hair.  Here are some pictures for you to see.  I know you'll agree with me.

2.  I want a couple million dollars.  I promise I'll share.

3.  I want you to bring Aaron Ray something for Christmas and say that it's from me because I have no idea what to get him and he won't tell me what he wants.

4.  Please bring this little munchkin whatever he or she wants for Christmas whenever he or she is old enough to write you letters.  Nintendos and ipods and phones and all those other toys that kids seem to want are expensive, so it would really help me out if you could just take care of all that.  He or she will be six and half months old for Christmas 2012, so you can get started on making his or her gifts now if you want. 



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hooray Christmas!

If you're trying to get in the spirit to make the inside of your house to look like this:

It helps to have the outside of your house look like this:

Hooray Christmas!!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Today is my day off.  I had intended on sleeping the morning away, but after an unfortunate turn of events last night (a nail in a tire) I was charged with the duty of getting said tire fixed.  I'm ok with that...I'll take it as a trade-off since I didn't have to change it last night out in the gale-force winds and twenty-something degree temperatures.

So, this morning, I rousted myself out of bed at my usual time, rolled into town at my usual time, and meandered my way into B&T, where Bob (the B in B&T) greeted me warmly and already knew all about my flat tire.  I can only assume my husband called him this morning to tell him I'd be in, or that someone saw ARay on the road last night fixing it and told Bob about it this morning already.  After some friendly teasing about why Aaron Ray likes to run around in my vehicle rolling over nails and such, he asked me how work was going and how my vet truck had been treating me this fall.  I told him I'd probably be in for some new snow tires soon, and with a smile, he sent me on my way - it was $10.00 to fix the tire, but since I only had my checkbook with me, he just told me to come by sometime when I had some cash.  "I don't see no reason to write a check for $10.00, Michelle." He said.  "We'll see you again soon, I'm sure."

Bob's a nice man.  What's even nicer is that he knows who I am without me reminding him.

I hopped across the street to G&B oil after that to talk fireplaces with Travis, who greeted me with a handshake and told me his dog was doing just fine after I had given her vaccines last week.  "I'll be in to see you again soon, though I guess.  I forgot to bring my cat in when I brought my dog."  I told him I'd be glad to see him whenever he came back.  Ben who works at G&B, who I know from church, hugged me on my way out and said he and Kay (his wife) hoped to see me at church on Sunday.  I told him we'd be there.

I left with a spring my step, feeling that I had friends all over town (or at least that section of Hwy 21).

Then I went to the register of deeds and asked if I get a copy of my Marriage license.  "When did you all get married again?" Debbie asked me.

"June before last," I replied with a smile.

She handed me my copy and asked me to tell Aaron Ray she said hello.  I hadn't reminded her who I was either.  She just knew.

This is a small town.  Well, as it turns out, my small town, now.  My kids will grow up here and everyone will know who both of their parents are.  We'll go into the grocery store, down the street, or even three counties over, and people will remember me and tell me how their pets are doing, and ask what Aaron Ray is up to these days.  It's a magical feeling, especially during this wonderful time of the year, to know you have a hometown and that people know you and genuinely care about how you're doing. 

I hope you all feel that way this Thanksgiving and Christmas, too.

photo credit

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I suwanee!

Depending upon where one lives, one can call it something different:

foul language

Also, depending on where one lives, one can use such words in different contexts.  My parents grew up above the Mason-Dixon line, and therefore, the idea of swearing was not only a common mode of communication, but the use of a swear word was commonly defined by Webster as, "the act of declaring something as true."

"That pie is effing delicious!"  is just something you say.  You're not denouncing the pie, you are declaring it to be truly wonderful.  Ask any Yankee.  They'll understand.

By the time I was in middle school and had moved down south to North Carolina, purely by listening to my aunts/uncles/grandparents/parents speak, I had accumulated a repertoire of curse words that would make any sailor jealous.  For instance, I had no idea that the word "bastard" was considered "foul" until one of my 7th grade classmates informed me that I wasn't supposed to say that word in common conversation. 


Anyway, all it did for me was create a dialogue that was formed in my mind, which was then translated into southern-appropriate speech before I spoke.  Only on very rare occasions did I slip (ahem, calling our 9th grade teacher an asshole.  I still maintain that he was.  Unequivocally.).

At any rate, around here, people occasionally cuss, but they do it like my husband does - in a whisper:

"So as it turns out, that woman was a real bitch."

Or, they fall back on the list of words that can be used to express one's dismay without offending their grandmother:

queer (pronounced "qwar" meaning: strange, odd, freak-like)
hateful (southern for bitch and/or asshole, as in "you are just the hatefullest man.")
sam-hill (southern for hell, as in "what in the sam-hill?")
tarnation (see above)
suwanee (apparently saying "I swear!" is also faux pas.)
blessed (southern for f******, which I find to be a very ironic use of the word.)

And of course, the only time your granny will be alright with a person saying "damn" is if they're referring to a Yankee.

Well, I spent some time pondering this geographical use of cuss words when ARay and I went to a high school football game on Friday night.  The parents/spectators were into this game, and where I was used to having my dad with me at any kind of sporting event (read:  my soccer/basketball games as a kid and/or my brothers' hockey/soccer games growing up) and hearing all kinds of expletives, I was shocked to hear nothing untoward at this particular game.  Everyone was keeping their mouths clean.  It was hilarious, since most of the already listed words were being used in the most oxymoronic ways:


"What in tarnation?!?!  What is this, a football game or a dad-blamed hoedown???"


"Shoot.  I dunno about that there boy-cheerleader.  That seems mighty qwar to me."

See what I mean?  Culture shock will get you whether you're on a different continent or just 45 minutes from the nearest metropolis.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What a dog will eat...

Dr. T:  "So is there any particular reason you brought Lexie in to the office today?"

Client:  "No, not really.  I mean, sometimes she has diarrhea and sometimes she's constipated, so I'm a little worried she might have worms."

Dr. T (mid-exam):  "Okay.  Well we can check a stool sample for intestinal parasites here today.  How is she doing otherwise?  Any vomiting?"

Client:  "No, no vomiting."

Dr. T:  "What kind of diet are you feeding?  Does she get table food on a regular basis?"

Client:  "No, no table scraps.  I mean, well...there isn't anything this dog won't eat.  Wait!  No, actually, the only thing I've ever seen her spit out is a 2 days dead bullfrog."

Dr. T:  *uncontrollable laughter*

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

As Promised:

We played cowboys and Indians at work yesterday.  I was not nearly the best dressed, but I was the most comfortable!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Gratefully, fall is upon us.  With fall in full-swing, I find my husband otherwise occupied a lot of the time.  For the past several weeks he has been out of state on trip after trip, spent weekend after weekend at fairs, dairy judging competitions, and who knows what all.  I, on the other hand, have been home, cleaning the house in between emergency calls, entertaining friends and planning an occasional excursion to Galax here and there so I can search the racks a Wal-mart and Kato for decent clothes to wear.  My poor wardrobe has dwindled down to just jeans and scrub tops since I haven't been to an actual department store in an actual city for...well, a really long time.

Anyway, it's not so bad.  What I do find to wear is fantastically cheap, which makes accepting how hard it is to keep anything looking even half-way presentable after being washed a couple of times (or even worn a couple of times) a little bit easier.  Not to mention, just being in Wal-mart gives me a chance to peruse my options for upcoming birthdays and Christmas.  Having young nieces allows a gradual introduction into the ever-so frightening world  Toys, in every color, shape and genre...and all made out of varying amounts of plastic.  Friends, let me tell you, its a scary place.

First of all, let me introduce you to the girls toy aisle.  It's very easy to pick out.

I don't think I've ever seen so much pink in my entire life.

Keep in mind, I'm looking for appropriate toys for 2, 3 and 11 year old girls.  Here were some of the toy options that jumped out at me:

First of all, there is Disney everything.

Now they make infant versions of the Disney Princesses I loved growing up.  Check out the baby Ariel in a bikini top.

Second of all, when did toys start looking so possessed?

Hello soul-less eyes.
Third of all, where did all the slutty dolls come from?  Did we have these when we were little?  I mean Barbie isn't all that wonderful, but seriously?:

She's even named after a stripper.
Why, hello there goth doll with crazy tights and a miniskirt.  I blame the vampire movies for this one.

Then there's the boys aisle.  I didn't bother to take a full length picture of this one.  You can only fit so many weapons and evil-looking men in one cell-phone picture.  Basically all the toys that weren't geared toward infants or toddlers were geared toward killing something or someone.

I don't get it.  My children will be playing with dog toys and blocks.  I'll make sock dolls if we have girls and dress them in my old scrap clothing from Wal-mart that fell apart. 

Anyway, since I had the weekend off and Aaron Ray had planned to go to a cattle auction in Blacksburg, I thought it would be a good time to re-visit my old vet-school stomping grounds and eat some good food from restaurants I miss ever-so-much.

As it turned out, it was below 30 degrees, snowing and raining and exquisitely cold.  I spent most of my time bundled up and cringing every time I heard my husband bid on something.  I mean, I understand that you need to buy good cattle to have good cattle, but man, I was really glad when things started going over our price range.  I was especially grateful when he quit bidding on the hogs.

Cattle auctions are fun though.  We went to the dairy heifer auction too, and these fellas talk about those heifers like they're just the best, most gorgeous women in the world.  It's almost a little ridiculous.

At any rate, it's been a fun weekend, we're safe at home now, I'm catching up on laundry and regretting that tomorrow is another workday.   Hey, at least I get to dress up for Halloween!  Pictures to come.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Educational post: How you shouldn't use a machete

Ya'll have read some of the stories I post on here - crazy, unbelievable - all true.  Today, let me tell you about a couple of cases that have come into our office due to improper use of one, rather tricky, tool/weapon:

The machete:

photo credit
Ok.  It's slightly less dramatic when you see one like this:

photo credit
People use machetes around here mostly as tools, but...let me tell you about one situation I had to patch up where the question of its usage might have raised a few eyebrows.

Imagine, riding through the pasture adjacent to your dairy farm in an old white Jeep Cherokee.  You're checking on your cows and looking to see if cow #657 is still limping or if the vet did a good job when she trimmed her feet last week.  You think you've found the cow you were looking for and are following her slowly in the Jeep, encouraging her to walk, when all of a sudden, you feel the Jeep forcefully rolled forward a few inches.  You stop, look around; see in the rear-view a huge Holstein bull sniffing around your bumper.  You gun the engine a little bit, honk the horn and move along, thinking the bull was just curious...

...but then you notice the cows starting to edge away a little.  

You look out passenger's side window's and don't see anything, then look over on the driver's side and see him - 20 yards away, pawing the dirt, turning his head toward the ground, his eyes rolling around in his head...

You gun it.

But he comes after you.  

After several turns through the pasture, you get mad.  Like, fighting mad.  But how do you fight a 2200 lb bull?  You look for your rifle in the back seat, which (thankfully) appears to be missing...then you notice in the floorboard of the passenger's side - a machete.  

You don't think.  You just jump out of the truck, wielding your weapon, yelling at the top of your lungs, and you throw it, intending to hit him square between the eyes.

You miss.

It hits low on his right rear leg, just above the hoof...and it manages to slice through an artery.  So, you call the vet, tell her you have a bull that has a cut coming in and herd him into the trailer.

Incidentally, the bull is back in business.

photo credit

So.  Story number two.

This time of year, there are many migrant workers that flood our county, cutting pumpkins from their vines and starting to cut greenery for Christmas (I saw a load of pine boughs go down the mountain last week - what the heck!?!?  It's not even Halloween!).  What tool do people use to perform such tasks?   

Yep, you guessed it, a machete.

Another thing people do this time of year is let their dogs roam loose, free to run and play in this beautiful weather, free to eat whatever deer carcasses people leave after hunting, free to get underfoot and run between the trees while workers are trying to greenery.

Enter, energetic, 100 lb black lab that came in with a dishtowel precariously taped across the top of his head.

Remove dishtowel and see a 6" diagonal slice cut through the skin all the way across his head.

At least machetes make a clean cut.

photo credit

In closing, my PSA for this post is:  please be careful when using your machete.  You never know what kind of damage you might end up doing while working/in a mad rage.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A tiny vent...

The whole point of "rescuing" an animal is to give it a better life than it had before you "rescued" it.

That is all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The medical professionals...

So, for the record, I'm not the only one who attracts the crazies that come in to our office.  Last week, Karen (the newest addition to the team!), came up to me, barely able to contain herself after hearing this one:

New client:  "I have a question.  How can I learn how to spay and neuter dogs and cats?  Can I be trained for that here?"

Dr. W:  "I'm sorry, what do you mean?"

New client:  "You know, spaying and neutering.  I would like to learn.  I mean, you don't have to be a veterinarian to do that, right?  I can't imagine something like that requires a license."

Dr. W:  "Actually, yes, you do have to be a doctor in order to perform those procedures.  As a matter of fact, both spaying and neutering are complicated surgical procedures that can only be performed by veterinarians."

New client:  "Oh well that's just a shame.  There are some really talented people out there who could do things like that for free, since there's such a need and all.  I'm a RN.  I feel confident that I could perform those procedures."

Dr. W:  "Hmm.  Well that's nice.  Ok, is there anything else Fluffy needs while she's here today?   No?  Ok,  Megan will check you out up front, thanks!"

And also for the record, I know several RNs and other medical professionals that would never assume such a thing, a general rule, the medical professionals are the worst clients.  I do my very best to be a patient when I'm my doctor's office, but people hardly ever extend the same courtesy to us, as veterinarians.   

What's that saying again?  Oh yes, "A doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient."

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Aaron Ray:  "Oh hey, just in case you find them and are wondering, I put some testicles in the fridge."

Michelle:  "Um, like my fridge?  The one I put food in?"

Aaron Ray:  "Yeah."

Michelle:  "Well.  I'm sort of ok with this, but why couldn't you have put them in your fridge in the basement?"

Aaron Ray:  "Because I haven't gone down to the basement today."

Michelle:  "Uh huh, I know it's just so hard to walk down one flight of stairs."

Michelle:  "Wait, why did you bring home testicles in the first place?"

Aaron Ray:  "Because I castrated a bull calf today."

Typical Agri-Science-Teacher-husband-and-Mixed-Animal-Veterinarian-wife conversation while watching TV on a Saturday night.  What do normal people talk about, I wonder?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is it the weekend again already?

I can't believe tomorrow is Saturday.  It seems like just yesterday, my dearest friends from my formative years (aka middle school and high school) were here, having made the beautiful trek up these lovely mountains for a quick visit.  It was magical, wonderful, and gave me a fantastic excuse to actually clean my house and cook up a storm.  I loved it.  Loved. It.  

Many pictures were taken; much fun was had by all.

Photo Credit:  Allison
George and Bella are still wondering why we can't have these ladies around all the time.  I think they enjoyed all the giggling.

Aaron Ray is much disappointed that "the hairless wonder" didn't get adopted forthwith.  I haven't told him this yet, but the little munchkin's joi di vivre makes me laugh on almost a moment to moment basis.  I think she just might have to stay...unless she doesn't get over this peeing in the house business.  Not to mention the waking up to whine and cry at 4:30am weirdness.  I can't handle that crap.

Homegirl enjoys sitting in laps and watching TV
Unfortunately, this coming weekend won't be nearly as fun as the last one - I'm on call, and I've already received ridiculous call #1 for the evening.  First, let me tell you exactly what you would hear if you called our vet clinic right now:

"You have reached Twin Oaks Veterinary Hospital.  Our office is now closed.  Our regular office hours are 8:30 am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday, and 8:30 until Noon on Saturdays.  If you have a veterinary emergency, you may contact Dr. Michelle Tompkins at (phone number)." 

No, I'm not giving you my phone number.

Anyway, I wonder which part of that message prompted someone to make this (clearly an emergency) phone call:

Client:  "Hi, is this Dr. Tompkins?"

Dr. T:  "Yes, can I help you?"

Client:  "Um, yes.  I have a couple of questions.  How much does it cost to get my dog's tail docked?"

Dr. T:  "I'm not quite sure, I'm not at the office right now so I can't look up any prices for you.  Call back tomorrow after we open and the receptionist can help you."

Client:  "Ok, well I have another question.  Can I my dog get its shots while its there for surgery?"

Dr. T:  "Yes.  We can do that."

Client:  "Ok.  How much does that cost?"

Dr. T:  "Well that depends on what shots it needs.  How old is your dog?"

Client:  "Oh, I have no idea."

Dr. T:  "Ook.  Well, for a shot that protects against distemper and parvo along with some other viruses, it's $28.  If your dog needs a rabies shot, it's an additional $10.  If you have any other questions, you can call back tomorrow."

Client:  "Oh wait, I have one more question.  Can you give me papers for my dog when I come in?"

Dr. T:  "You mean, like, registration papers?"

Client:  "Yeah."

Dr. T:  "No ma'am, we don't have anything to do with that.  I don't know how you can get your dog registered.  I assume it'll be with the AKC"

Client:  "Oh, what's the A...K..........what is it?  The AKP?"

Dr. T:  "No, the A-K-C, like the American Kennel Club."

Client:  "Oh, ok.  What's the phone number for that place so I can call them?"

Dr. T:  "Ma'am, I have no idea.  I don't have any idea what you need to do to register your dog.  You can look it up on the internet or call your breeder."

Client:  "Oh.  Well, alright.  Thank you."

Will someone please explain to me why I can't be a hateful person (that's southern for b****, fyi) and cut someone off when I figure out they're just calling to waste my time instead of having an actual emergency?  This is becoming a real problem of mine.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Home for the deaf, dumb and disabled

Well, not really.  More like, neurotic, three-legged and...bald.

Forgive me.  Lets start this over:

On a daily basis, I'm confounded by the limitations of my job.  I see patients every day that are owned by people who have no capacity to take care of them.  Even as reasonable as the cost of care at our office is, people still struggle to address basic needs.  Thankfully, I've grown a thick skin over the past year and a half, otherwise, as all you who know me know, I would already have a house full of misfit, yet beloved animals.  Animals can't help who they belong to.

Lately, my thick skin has become thinner and I can't help but cuddle every adorable little puppy, kitten and sick, hurting animal.  You should hear me examine a cow, I'm sure I sound ridiculous with my "Easy momma, whoa now." speeches.  I even talked nice to an equine was a donkey though, and that doesn't count.  Not to mention, I almost bought a mule.  Seriously?

Anyway, today was a crazy busy Saturday.  We were moving through patients as quickly as we could (which was not quick enough for some people.  I mean, if you come to a walk-in only clinic on a Saturday morning, what do you expect??), and I come to a check-in sheet that I thought would be simple and easy:  "vet check dog found on road in Lansing last night."  We see these all the time - good Samaritan brings in dog to be examined, checked for internal parasites, and given its first vaccines.  No problem.

When the client came into the room, she gently set a cat carrier on the examination table and said, "I have no idea what to do with this dog.  I've never seen anything like it.  I don't have much money, but I couldn't just leave it there."

Enter: heart meltingly sad little dog.  75% bald, the other 35% that had hair was matted up and attached to several parts of her body and didn't allow much movement.  Her poor little feet and ears were completely enveloped in smelly nasty hairy mats.  Pathetic.  But then she wagged her bald rat tail and licked my hand.

Forgive my finger in the frame.  

The client proceeded to explain to me that she couldn't afford much - she drove here with her gas tank on empty and she was hoping she wouldn't have to put the dog in the shelter.  I, knowing how full the shelter was and how much I love a project, (stupidly) told the woman that I would take the dog in (where was my thick skin this morning?!?!).

"Like, to your house?"  She asked.

"Yes, to my house."  I responded.  Aaron Ray doesn't know about it yet.  Don't tell him.

So, a couple of hours later, after we closed, I sedated this 7.5 lb. munchkin and shaved what was left of her hair off.  Jessica, in between laughing at me, ran a few tests on the dog while I prepared to give her what may have been her first bath.

Well.  As it turns out, homegirl comes with a whole posse of carpetbaggers.  Meet, Sarcoptic Mange:

(Which, incidentally, can transiently live on a human and cause an itchy rash.  Lovely.)

So, little friend got a lime-sulfur dip and now smells like rotten eggs.  Dang.

Whilst drying my new project, I also found out that among a yeast infection and bacterial infection of the skin, along with her scabies, she also has a corneal ulcer in her right eye, luxating patella in her right rear leg, moderate dental disease, is a little deaf and may or may not have intestinal parasites - I can't tell for sure yet because I'm fairly certain she's constipated.

You'd think a list like that would slow me down...

But all I did was go to Wal-Mart and buy her a puffy pink jacket.

I am such a sucker.

Anyway, anybody have any ideas for names?  Jess and I were going through all the old woman names that would fit perfectly:  Myrtle, Petunia, Maude, Ethel, Fannie, Mamie...I just can't pick one.

Oh, and if anyone wants to give this girl a wonderful home after I get rid of her scabies and skin infections and her hair starts to grow back and her ulcer is gone and she's not constipated anymore, let me know!  I need another dog like I need a hole in my head.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Michelle:  "Hey, sorry I couldn't answer the phone earlier, my hands were covered in chicken."

Allison:  "Alive or dead?"

Michelle:  "Chicken breasts.  The kind you eat."

Allison:  "Oh.  Well, I just wanted to make sure."

Michelle:  "I understand."

The pumpkins are ready.  Have you bought your Alleghany Co. pumpkin yet?

My husband is not home, which means I spent a significant amount of time making Thai food for dinner, and then I spent an even more significant amount of time cleaning my house, which makes me feel all fuzzy and complete inside.

Do you ever get that feeling?

Anyway, the only thing left nagging my subconscious is what to do with all the eggs in my refrigerator.  We went on the Annual Family Camping Trip this past weekend and we inherited all the eggs that weren't cooked for breakfast...approximately 4 dozen beautifully farm fresh eggs.  I've hard boiled eight.

Any suggestions about the rest?  Want some eggs?  Come on over.  Help yourself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This is how rumors get started:

I've always clung to the idea of a small town, mostly due to the fact that my childhood was ridiculously fragmented from moving around all the time.  I simply adore the idea of knowing your neighbors, stopping and having a conversation with someone in the grocery store; recognizing every face that drives by you on your way to work in the morning and smiling and waving.  The south does this better than the north, I think.

But there's a dark side to this small town, Mayberry-esque world, and it is:  the rumor mill.

Too dramatic?  Oh, I think not.

Around here, everybody knows everybody...but not just that, everybody knows everybody back to their great-great's and also knows their second and third cousins...and worst of it all, if something even slightly untoward happens within a three county radius, someone who knows your husband's uncle's cousin's wife, who just so happens to live next-door to one of your co-workers, will have been there as a bystander...and will be spreading the word of what happened in no time flat.  In short, there is a "six degrees of separation" principle around here, and with each degree of separation, the story of what happened gets a little more twisted, like an amped up game of telephone.

That being said, I've always been immune to this small town rumor mill thing.  I've been secretly a little grateful that everyone I meet doesn't already know my sordid family history or who my last ex-boyfriend was (and who broke up with whom)...all they know about me so far is that I'm "that flat-lander that married Johnny Tompkins' oldest boy and works with Nash over at Twin Oaks."  I liked it.  It was nice.

Until Monday morning rolled around.

After a lovely weekend at home that consisted of a lot of lounging around and going to church, I was flabbergasted by the first co-worker I saw when she hurriedly asked me if I had been in a wreck over the weekend ("wreck" is southern for car accident, fyi).  I must have looked a little pathetic, in my very confused state.  I even walked around the vet truck once to make sure there weren't any new dents or scratches that had given her that impression.

From there, I walked into the clinic and was bombarded by concerned faces and questions, "Lori told us you were in a wreck on Saturday!"

So then I went to talk to our office manager, Lori, who told me that our groomer, Tammy had told her about it.

I walked across the building to talk to Tammy, who told me that one of her grooming clients had called her over the weekend to ask if I was okay after she heard about my accident over her police scanner.

When Tammy told her client that she didn't know anything about my being in an accident, her client informed her that one of the vets had been in a wreck this past weekend, and that the report over the scanner was about a vet truck that had been rolled into a ditch with an unconscious woman in the driver's seat with the last name Tompkins.

I'm pretty sure they don't release people's names on the radio, but that's beside the point.

I was feeling pretty defeated by all the information that was circulating around about me.  I was even questioning whether I had done anything while I was driving this weekend that would make someone think that I was driving drunk, but as far as I knew, my vet truck had been sitting in my driveway for 2 days.

So.  I went back into the clinic and told Julie, the veteran and master and commander Technician, all about it.  Thankfully, she was able to set me straight and explain to me how the misunderstanding must have begun, since she was present for the actual accident that didn't involve me at all (see, what'd I tell you?  Six degrees of separation).

Apparently, a very inebriated, older woman had been driving a corvette and rolled it into the ditch in Piney Creek (45 minutes from my house) on Saturday afternoon.

Not a vet truck, or even a young veterinarian, but a corvette.  While Tammy's grooming client was obviously confused, basing an entire rumor off of one word seems to be a stretch, even for concerned citizens that listen to their police scanners with religious impetuosity.

But now what this really means is, that concerned citizen has more than likely been telling everyone all over the county about it saying something like, "You know that new vet that works with Nash that's married to that Tompkins' boy?  Well, she was passed out drunk in the middle of the day on Saturday and rolled her vet truck into the ditch!  Can you believe that?  And I always thought she was so nice, too!"

And I don't even drink.  Go figure.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering...just like everyone else.

Our principal came into our calculus class that beautiful fall day, and the words he chose to break the news to us are ones I'll never forget, "An amazing thing has happened."

Still, to this day, the way he chose to use the word "amazing" gets me thinking.  I wrote all about it in my journal from the silly, teenaged, over-romanticized perspective I always used to write about boys, my friends, and the "gross injustices" I felt put upon me by my parents, but, when I read back over that journal entry today, ten years later, just as I do every year on this date, some nuggets shine through.  Like, feeling the eerie air-silence deep in my bones at our little private school that was just miles from Greensboro's international airport.  Like, those hours in the auditorium where we all prayed, out loud in our separate groups, for our country, those that were the most affected by the tragedy, and, in my small mind, my beloved friends that were like brothers that could be called off to war.  Like wondering what all of the worlds combined voices of prayer sounded like to God.  Like, when the USAF plane flew over the soccer field at lunch time a few days later, and we all stood and stared at it, children in our school uniforms, as if a ghost had cast a shadow overhead.

There is so much to remember, so much I'd rather forget - the images playing over and over on TV today are the same ones that made me physically ill that day...and still do; the feelings of despair and helplessness, the bitter after-taste of which I can recall all too well.  It's a hard thing, this tragedy, and someday when my children and grandchildren ask me about it, I fervently pray that they will have no experience that they can call to mind that compares to that day.

I will never forget.

God bless America.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"I see dead people."

"I have a question.  My kitten sometimes bats and chases at things at night...and I go to look to see what she's playing with...and there's nothing there.  Do you think cats can see ghosts like people can, sometimes?"

I can't quite remember what my response was.  Something like "mumble...mumble...(disguising laughter)...I don't really know."

Photo Credit

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Test your veterinary knowledge!

Ok friends!  This is it!  Your chance to "be" a vet!  Tell me what this is and what's wrong with it:

Ok, so that probably wasn't fair, but I'm sure it would have been valid on the exam for my radiology rotation during 4th year of vet school.  Was anybody right?

Meet "Turkey".  He's a pet of some goats who belong to a great client of ours.  Go figure.  I guess turkeys don't make good bedfellows for goats though, since, apparently, one of the billys stepped on this little (big) feller and broke his leg.  As it turns out, x-raying and performing surgery on a 35 pound turkey is somewhat similar to a 35 pound dog.

Turkey, Dr. T and Dr. Wilson, soon-to-be vet #4 at Twin Oaks!  Go Hokies!

 Next time anybody has any turkey problems, just let us know.  We're on it.

Monday, September 5, 2011


It's so foggy, you can't even see the mountain today.
Come, on.  Really?  I've been run ragged by on-call the past two gorgeous, beautiful, spectacular days and didn't complain, knowing that I would have Labor Day off to enjoy.  I was so looking forward to today: being productive, spending time outdoors, playing with the dogs...but no.  Definitely not.  It's too rainy for such things.

Even the geraniums are droopy today.
The only thing today is good for is sleeping.  Naps on rainy days are the greatest.

I would post a picture of me napping...but guess what?  There isn't one because I can't fall asleep.  It's ridiculous! 

So then, I drug (dragged?) my half-awake self off the couch, drank a pot of coffee and decided to go to Lowe's Hardware and do some home improvement shopping and get some little projects done around the house...but guess what (again)?  Home improvement costs money...and I'm being a super-careful budget-er lately...and I have not budgeted cute home accessories into my expenses this week.  Which begs the question, what the heck am I supposed to do with myself now?  I should have just let Jess take the day off and taken call today too.  It seems that vetting is the only productive thing I can manage to make myself do.


Hope you're having a more fulfilling labor day.  I'll be better tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

See! I told you so.

Remember when I told you I couldn't grow plants?  I wasn't kidding.  See?

I am bad at this.

I am, however, pretty good at growing dogs (no matter how crazy they might be - someone asked me recently how much crack I fed the pups every day...):

Beautiful, sweet, obedient Bella-girl.

Michelle: "George, can I take your picture?"  George: "No thanks, I'd rather lick my penis."
George: "Well if  I have to, ok.  Since Bella did it."

I really can't help narrating.  It's a problem, I know.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Today was a typical Monday.  As usual, one (or more) of our clients asked incredulously, "Is it like this every day, or is it just a Monday thing?"  These days, I answer with a smile and say, "Who knows."  I think it's safe to say that our vet hospital may be the busiest on the planet.

This particular day followed the pattern of most Mondays, except that almost every client I saw had his/her/their own interesting diagnosis for their pet before I even got a chance to look at their animal.  If I had just left the diagnosing up to them, I would have had to think a lot less, but most everything I saw would have gone home sicker than when it came in.

Client 1: "My dog is really sick.  He hollers every time I pick him up.  I think he's bloated and probably constipated.  I'm pretty sure he's got something stuck in his intestinals somewhere."   
Dr. T's diagnosis:  back injury

Client 2:  "My dog is poisoned.  He started vomiting last night and I just know my neighbor poisoned him."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  pancreatitis

Client 3:  "I think my cat is trying to pass a kidney stone."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  urinary tract infection

Client 4:  "I'm pretty sure my cat is pregnant, and it must be making her have allergies or something.  She keeps sneezing."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  Not pregnant.  Upper respiratory infection.

Client 5:  "My cat does not have fleas.  But he keeps pulling out his hair around his sides, the backs of his legs and he's got dirt that looks like pepper flakes all over."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  Flea allergy dermatitis

Client 6:  "I have this heifer that went blind yesterday.  Do you think something knocked her in the head?"
Dr. T's diagnosis:  Lead poisoning

Client 7:  "My wife says her dog is limping.  I think he's just being lazy."
Dr. T's diagnosis:  Cranial cruciate rupture

Friday, August 26, 2011

Up late at night...remembering...

When I was younger and some of my closest friends and I lived in the same neighborhood, we used to have silly parties and get-togethers in honor of fun and random things.  Like: it happened to be nine o'clock on a Sunday night and the lights were about to change to a blinking yellow light instead of a red/yellow/green one...or, it snowed four inches and school was out (even the local Chinese restaurant wouldn't open - "Snow too big!" they'd say)...or, the power was out for five days in the middle of a muggy Greensboro month of May, and we went to the manicure place (even though they had no electricity) so we could get our nails done before That Thing in The Spring (aka "Prom" at our very tiny private Classical Christian School).  Or, it was a late summer night, just before a thunderstorm, and we were sitting out on Carrie, Ginna and Lucy's back porch, giggling uproariously at who knows what (thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Clement for pretending not to hear us) and jumping a little when the loud thunder cracked, and I'd chuckle thinking about Mr. Clement's cautious reminder typed and taped to the phone: "do not use phone when lightning".

I'd always feel safe and well sheltered though, there in the city, tucked under the porch eaves, sitting on a rocking chair and feeling the cool air blow as the hard rain hit the hot pavement.  Here though, on top of this mountain, teetering on the Eastern Continental Divide, it feels a little different.  Almost like I'm closer to where the lightning meets the sky, instead of the other way around.

All this extreme weather has put me on alert lately (earthquakes?  hurricanes? terrible storms? it makes me wonder if we're going to take a trip soon), so it wasn't hard for George to get me out of bed tonight with his howling and whining right after a stormy downpour started.  He was freaking out because he was stuck in his kennel on the front porch, where I had put him for safekeeping since I neutered him yesterday.  Aaron Ray gave me a hard time today for complaining about having to leash train a dog at eight months old (imagine walking a 50 lb. yo-yo) just so I he doesn't run loose and bust open his incision.  My astute husband told me that if I didn't want to go through all this trouble, I shouldn't have neutered him...but I think I was right when I loftily informed him that, "this hardship lasts only a week, but castration lasts a lifetime."  Its a truth I feel deep in my heart.

At any rate.

I shuffled George into the dog/laundry room and gleefully went out on the porch to sit and watch the storm.

Let me tell was a rattle-your-insides, heart-in-your-throat, jump-out-of-your-skin, doozy of a storm.  Here, I've got a snippet for you (and yes, I thought of the "do not use phone when lightning" warning the whole four minutes I used my cellphone to video it):

(I don't think you'll be able to fully appreciate this cinematographic masterpiece unless your volume is turned all the way up...the storm was pretty loud.)

I mean what I say about everything feeling different around here, though.  Storms are not just a good excuse to stay up until two o'clock in the morning; in these mountains, cattle die under trees after being struck by lightning and vets have to go out and examine them for insurance claims.

My boss lost 26 cattle that had been struck under one tree in a storm not too long ago.
Heavy winds and hard rains can wipe out acres of those lovely amber waves of grain.

Photo Credit
Little lost momma cats turn up on doorsteps sopping wet with their baby kittens.

This place lives or dies by the weather, which is a hard truth for this city girl to learn sometimes.