Gifts to practical, frugal, ethical people who don’t want more crap

Oh Christmas, how you fill my memories and continue to taunt me… this was a draft post from the Thanksgiving era and I figure I ought to finish it! Merry Christmas to everyone. Isn’t it great to have a fun holiday with family and then sleep in REALLY late at home the next day with no commitments? Our part of the country was surrounded by terrible weather, but we escaped it and timed all traveling perfectly. There was quite a bit of beautiful snow today at home, but I stayed inside in my jammies the whole day.

This post at The Simple Dollar is very close to my own thoughts on how-to-buy-a-holiday-gift (for me, anyway). You may not even need to read it now, but for anyone who cares, there you go. Except if you care, you already know this about me, and if you don’t care, you were the person who bought me purple plaid pompom slippers and animal-tested soaps that give me hives. (Those gifts have been rehomed.)

I fight an ongoing battle against clutter. I think most Americans, as consumers (and relatives of consumers in the holiday season), have this battle, but many don’t acknowledge they should fight it! I guess it’s not for me to say you can’t have a house full of stuff. But I don’t even WANT a house full of stuff and I still have it.

In the past couple of years I’ve focused on getting rid of things I don’t use and simultaneously not buying things I don’t REALLY need or want. And honestly, there aren’t a lot of things I really want. I know I live a lavish lifestyle compared to most of the world population, but overall the economy would tank a lot faster if it depended on me as a consumer.

Anyway, I love lists at Christmas so I can give exactly what a person wants, and to avoid those awkward conversations about returns. It’s a shame people put up with clutter no matter how well-intentioned the gift. And thank you, almost everyone, for not getting me random things. I am in love with my slippers (the sustainably-made ones I requested) and my new camera, and I’m also in love with not having any returns nor in dusting knicknacks. Except maybe that candle. Somehow I get a candle every year.

I suppose I sound ungrateful to some. Truly, if someone could help me purge a bunch of my belongings and find homes for the stuff that persists as clutter, I would be ecstatic. I may never tame the clutter monster but I am eternally hopeful.

The things that made me teary this year? (Rare, I know.) My brother and his wife surprised me with a special dish at Christmas dinner, because they felt bad that I always ate only the side dishes. (We are eating the leftovers of the veggie pot pie today! And shame on the bulk of the family who didn’t even try it. There’s no excuse like it being ‘weird’ like some of the ethnic foods I bring to family parties.) And my 10 or 11-year-old cousin asked for donations to animal shelters instead of toys, which my mom and I provided along with gifts for her.

Dec. 31 petition deadline for Indiana Pet Friendly license plate

Tired of all those In God We Trust plates? No specialty plate that appeals to your convictions? Join me in petitioning for an Indiana license plate that supports spay/neuter for low-income residents’ pets. Spay Neuter Services of Indiana (SNSI), a local organization which already does this great work, is applying for the license plate, which would support more of this subsidized-surgery-funding statewide. They need 500 signatures to be considered for the plate.


SNSI also sponsors low-cost spay/neuter a couple times per year without the income restrictions. We actually used one of their certificates to get Walter fixed a couple of years ago. They also sell the cool Peace Love Spay Neuter shirts.

You can click here to get the info and print a petition. They need actual, hand-signed signatures mailed to their P.O. box by December 31. The petition is presented to the BMV who decides if the plate will be issued. A spay-neuter plate has been attempted in the past unsuccessfully, if I remember correctly.

Note that signing the petition is a ‘pledge’ to purchase one of these plates at a $40 premium to the normal plate fee, $25 of which goes to the S/N surgery subsidies. (However, I don’t think anyone beats down your door to compel your purchase of the plate!) If you’ll be seeing me this week, I have a copy on me, so feel free to sign it and I’ll send it in for us.

Welcome to the hospital, pop. 5


Arliss, who had her incisors removed less than two weeks ago, had another surgery Monday when an abscess popped up at her one-week checkup. Now there’s a hole in her face (‘marsupialized’) that we are flushing daily to get the gunk out and hope it heals from the inside out. Meanwhile she won’t eat so I’m syringing food and pain meds. I tend to panic when bunnies don’t eat (it warrants panic, actually). We are having lots of cuddle time even if she’s pissed about it, and it’s gratifying when she laps up the liquid food from the syringe. Poor thing is hungry but it hurts her to eat.

MEANWHILE, foster Jolene came down with one heck of a URI this weekend so she’s on antibiotics, but she’s SO congested she’s not eating either! At least I think that’s why she’s not eating. I had her in the bathroom tonight after David’s shower. He thought I was nuts, but I’m hoping to steam her nose open. She sounds terrible. Acts hungry when I syringe her food too, but it’s a slow process because she panics when she stops to breathe around the snot. I think the nebulizer is next.

Vegas has been on antibiotics for her snotty nose for weeks and is not sounding particularly better, but at least she’s acting great and eating on her own.

Of course Casper’s on quite the regimen now too, but she’s eating and holds still for fluids, plus I finally learned to stuff pills down her throat, so she’s relatively easy. Feeding her four times a day is hard on the work schedule, though.

And I had my top-down root canal on Monday, courtesy of friends Halcion and Valium, so I don’t remember a darn thing after they let me snooze with a blankie and neck pillow with the lights off, and I never did find out if they put a cadaver graft in there. Guess I’ll find out next week at the recheck. The Darvocet made me sick so I’m limping by on OTC stuff. And I broke some of my Frankengum stitches already. In an odd twist, I am flushing my surgery site with Chlorhexidine, the same stuff we’re using on Arliss’ abscess.

I’ve been so confused by all the pet medicating I keep forgetting to take my own antibiotics.

If the bunnies would just start eating on their own I would seriously cry with relief.

The happiest of reunions

…is when you see your dog for the first time after she’s been at the hospital for 36 hours!

I took Casper to the emergency clinic on Sunday morning after she’d been up all night vomiting and squatting in the yard. It seemed a little strange to me that she walked in on her own and yet needed to be on IV antibiotics and fluids for so long, with lots of bloodwork, urinalysis and culture, ultrasound, and radiography. I felt badly that she was so sick but I wasn’t even sure she needed a vet yet (and I should have taken her sooner!). After 24 hours her fever was gone and she was able to keep food down, so she was released to me that night with four medications, fluids to dispense at home, and a bunch of special food.

Besides a raging UTI, poor Casper is in chronic kidney failure; her kidneys have less than 25% functionality left. If we can maintain her fluids and diet and prevent UTIs, she may have months or years left. But we really don’t know.


The time she was gone was very hard for me, especially going to work. Of course she’s acting totally normal at home now. She doesn’t seem sick at all. In fact, eight hours after she got home, she found two-day-old frozen puke in the yard–her dinner that didn’t stay down before she went to the doggy hospital. She ate it. That’s the Casper I know.

I’m just beginning to learn about her renal failure care, and we have lots of checkups in our future. It’s good to have her home, shaved belly and all.

A ‘review’ of sorts on Indianapolis Veterinary Emergency Clinic, near I-465 and Emerson Ave. on the southeast side: They were very thorough and the doctors seem very competent. I didn’t think my initial technician visit was very clear (she took a brief history and took Casper away and apparently the vet did bloodwork and urinalysis on her without me even seeing the her first, waiting forever for an update; I expected to talk about what diagnostics would be performed or what her initial exam revealed before getting too far, but the work done was appropriate). There is a lot of bureaucracy around phone calls and contacts and visiting hours and discharge appointments, but it seems important given the number of patients they are managing. Fortunately they gave me a handout about what to expect in contacting them and hearing from them, and my questions were always answered… I just got worried more than once when I didn’t get update phone calls when I expected them. They communicated well with my personal vet (who did take initiative to call them when I talked to her) and provided me with copies of Casper’s diagnosis and treatment and test results, and sent copies to my personal vet as well. Overall it was VERY expensive but I feel we received excellent care. I just wish all pet owners could afford to do this detailed work. It’s comforting to know they are also a specialty/referral clinic so ultrasound interpretation and technology were advanced.

BTW, I’ve also had good experiences up at Circle City if you are near the NW side, though I’ve only been there with rabbits. For small animals, this is the ONLY emergency place in town. My experience with their specialty service was also good (also with a rabbit, a coronary ultrasound, I think).

All she wants for Christmas is no front teeth


Arliss has been sick lately. A few hundred in diagnostics and supportive care early this week didn’t turn up much more than the dental disease we knew about and dehydration, but now she was needing tooth trims every six weeks or sooner, so it was time to ditch the incisors.

Over four years ago she had one removed, and I commented how she would hopefully not need trims in the future. Well, we got through the meantime with fewer-than-annual trims, but suddenly she was having problems, so there ya go. I let that vet back then talk me into just removing one tooth, and I guess four healthy years aren’t so bad.
Well, now it was time for the other three to go, this time with a different vet. A few hundred more bucks, and she came home today looking rough (the first picture) but at least is eating on her own. The vet did find some pus down in the lower root area, which mirrors the problem four years ago. Hopefully her flushing it well will prevent further abscessing. The vet suggested something like that probably happened from an impact or fall, and I was thinking how she used to geronimo off the closet shelves in my old house…

We had some serious bonding time today when I discovered they’d forgotten to take the catheter out of her leg and I had to do it! I had a hard time getting the bandage off and I’m sure it hurt to be moving that thing around, but she put up with me. I gave her good pain meds and she’s resting somewhat comfortably now. Arliss will be ten in a couple of months and has been pretty healthy over that decade, and I’m hoping this will be the last major thing for the rest of her life. Her molars and bloodwork look good, so I’m hopeful. The vet said as we were leaving today she hopes we can make her “one of those 14-year bunnies!”


Walter took this opportunity to ask for a belly rub.


I am not responsible for that window trim color, which looks worse in person. Let’s just leave it at that. (You may remember our house painting argument history.) But did you notice my cascading flowers are still doing great on December 4? And that orchid just below grew all those buds in the last two weeks. Who says there’s no global warming…