Friday, December 31, 2010

A visitation

Aunt "Victoria" is back from the UK for a family visit. Her favourite nephew and niece-in-law are treating her to dinner at PS Cafe, Dempsey Hill.

On the menu tonight... fish chowder, packed with lots of veggie stuff including corn kernels, and chunks of potato and sweet potato. One tureen is practically a light meal in itself, and here we've ordered one each.

And my main, NZ lamb with sweet potato mash, charred asparagus, red peppers, on a bed of spinach, in red wine sauce. Our order-taker assured me that the mutton "smell" would be appropriately dealt with in the kitchen. Dear girl, don't you know? The smell is the best part!

The time is now about two hours to midnight. So, see you again next year! :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gifts of love

It was nice of the Sisters at Gift of Love to invite all their volunteers for a year-end thanksgiving mass and dinner. There were a lot of us gathered in one small compound (meaning their dining hall and driveway), but I suppose there must be a sizable number of us in order for each team to provide one meal a month to the aged residents there. That is, not counting breakfast, 60 meals per month based on a 30-day month average.

As always with the Sisters, the evening was a simple, no fuss event. Mass involved carol singing and communion from which I accepted the Celebrant's exhortation that "God loves you," in place of the host, since I'm not a baptized Catholic.

And for once, it was the Sisters who fed the volunteers. There were two stations of high-carb, high-protein, low veg dishes (I noticed) catered from Elsie's Kitchen. I wasn't in the mood for deep conversation with my fellow volunteers over dinner, and fortunately they didn't offer any, apart from a couple of seasonal complimentary greetings.

We ate while the residents slept. And among the beds, June went about distributing small Christmas gifts to each zoned-out elderly sleepy-head. We managed to scrape together a little something for the old folks, after all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's a plan, anyway

Casey is, of course, concerned with the results from Q-tip's scan. But neither he nor we are anxious to get anything extreme like a biopsy done on her while she can't even walk or stand properly. We'll be proceeding with her pain-relief treatment while simultaneously putting her on a diet and course of supplements designed to strengthen her liver.

At least Q-tip is getting more used to taking her meds, and she's not struggling so much now. She seems to be showing some improvement this evening. Her tail is finally up and wagging a bit. That's an encouraging sign.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


On Casey's referral, we took Q-tip to the Mt Pleasant Animal Hospital for her ultrasound scan. Yes, the kind pregnant women undergo to look at their unborn babies. Q-tip hates to be on her back, but we had to hold her in place anyway while the tech applied the gel and manipulated the scope around her (newly shaved) belly area.

The pictures from the scan were quite incomprehensible to us, so the tech pointed out the "masses" in the liver and the sedimentation in the kidneys, not uncommon in older dogs. However, the nature of the masses was still unclear. Only a biopsy could tell us for sure if they were benign or... otherwise.

Scan results have gone to Casey. Let's see what he can tell us.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wobbly-legged dog

Dr Casey saw Q-tip at last. Poor girl is tottering even more, her back hunched and every step seems to take quite an effort. Even the bathroom door curb is giving her pause as she gingerly steps over it, occasionally stumbling as her hind legs fail to find traction on the other side.

Casey's review of the x-rays confirm Dr Koh's diagnoses, though he is especially worried about the state of Q-tip's liver and kidneys. He recommends us to take her for an ultrasound scan for a better picture of her internal workings. In the meantime, he's given her a steroid shot for the arthritic pain that is probably causing the weakness in her legs.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas lunch with family

Christmas lunch, the majority of these dishes prepared by the wife. XD

The turkey (above) was a 6kg specimen. We could only finish half of it, including a whole leg which I devoured barbarian-style. The remains rest rest remains in M-i-L's fridge, to be served up again in whatever dish sparks her imagination. Honey baked ham (below right) was from the Swiss Butchery. The heavy cream we got worked well with the pumpkin soup (below, bottom right), but though we forgot to buy nutmeg powder, a few sprinkles of Italian herbs turned out to be a good substitute.

And that's why the wife gets to wear the chef's hat for this meal of the year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gross misinterpretation

It may have been well and good for the lyricists of traditional Christmas carols to have used the language of their day. But what is a modern person supposed to interpret from verse 4 of "While shepherds watched..."?

"The heavenly Babe
You there shall find
To human view displayed
And meanly wrapped
In swathing bands
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid."

Today, such lyrics would be deemed totally obscene and slapped with a Parental Advisory Warning label.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Meds taste bad

Poor Q-tip. She hates her meds. Have to pound her pills into powder, mix with water and syringe the horrible concoction into her mouth. So much spluttering and gagging, but we know it's all going into the right place. Mostly.

Also realized that it's not a good idea to get it all down too quickly. Thought that fast = minimizing the suffering. Wrong. The bubbles blowing out of her nose were not cute at all. It seems our administering a continuous flow of meds from the syringe prevented her from breathing properly and some of the liquid was going up her respiratory tract. Net effect was akin to waterboarding her with the very best of intentions.

Now have to take it slow and easy. Drip rather than squirt. But, really, the process is traumatic for both patient and administrator. After her ordeal, we give her a little pet cheese snack to make it go down better.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sick as a dog

Q-tip is looking unsteady on her feet. Took her to the vet for x-rays, blood testing and eye testing. Vet suspects arthritis in her lower spine and some liver problems. Came back with an armful of meds for her. Let's see... painkillers and anti-inflammatories; liver supplements; eye ointment; a joint rub; oh, and a top up of heart meds for Mimi too.

Whole visit cost over $600 for everything. Guess we won't be giving anything to the kids at the orphanage this year.

Trying to make Q-tip eat all her meds with the least of trauma, that's when the fun begins.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fauna of Hua Hin: Bonus Pictorial

One of the guard cats of the Baan Manthana Hotel

Elephant ride. Hua Hin Hills Vineyard. That's not us. It was too hot to do anything else but nua in the shade and take pictures of other people courting heatstroke.

Butterfly in the parking lot. Hua Hin Hills Vineyard.

Dog and owner. Hua Hin beach.

Pony ride. Hua Hin beach.

Dog sits on the railway tracks. Hua Hin railway.

Mynahs taking a bath. Hua Hin Railway Station.

Weird-looking birds (anyone know what kind they are?) Hua Hin Railway Station.

Butterfly that picked my ripped abs t-shirt to take a rest on. Hua Hin roadside.

The other guard cat at the Baan Manatha Hotel.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bangkok 2010, Day 6

Good morning from the 47th floor of the Centara. What a view!

The brekkie buffet does not disappoint. Breakfast options from all over the world. Bacon is a staple food, apparently.

Another Doi Tung caffeine fix. Chatuchak market.

Coconut ice-cream. I remember raving about Chatuchak last year. This year, after walking in circles, zig-zags and crisscrosses for seven hours straight, the charm has worn off a bit.

No visit to Bangkok would be complete without a rousing welcome by the red-clad contingent.

A simple dinner in Patpong. The Tip-Top does a good and reasonably-priced pineapple rice and things.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hua Hin - BKK 2010, Day 5

The Royal waiting area as seen in daytime.

The Baan Manthana Hotel (exterior)

And now we're in Bangkok. The Centara at Central World, to be precise. Got ourselves upgraded to this plush Executive room. If we had more TV channels and free wi-fi, we'd never leave this room. Ever.

Maybe except for a visit to MBK...

...for duck noodle soup with jellied blood cubes.

And a root beer float. Happy food.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hua Hin 2010, Day 4

We know enough about Chat Chai Market to actually sample the wares and do some serious shopping.

We're back at Market Village...

...doing more damage to cheesy Italian food at The Pizza Company.

On to the CICADA Market (open Fri-Sun) to shop with the young, arty, trendy, hipster crowd.

June gets the honour of being the first customer of the day at this stall.

Some local talent. Maybe someday they'll be famous.

A parting shot. Getting here was a LONG walk from Market Village as we discovered.

No way we were going to walk back. A songthaew drove us back to civilization where we refreshed ourselves with coffee at Doi Tung. Click the link for more info about this Royally-sponsored social enterprise project.

A very simple dinner back at the Hua Hin Seafood Restaurant. And one very rare shot of the two of us together!

Last stop... Hua Hin Railway Station. This is the fancy Royal waiting area.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hua Hin 2010, Day 3

Finally! The beach! Unfortunately, June is attempting to recover from something she ate that I didn't, so I'm left to my own devices this morning.

Thankfully, she's feeling a little better in the afternoon.

Better enough to split a quatro stagioni, that is! Too much Thai food, what can I say?

Da Mario Pizzaria for wood oven pizza by the sea.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hua Hin 2010, Day 2

Armed with a list of local produce to buy, we recce Chat Chai market in the morning.

This vendor strictly enforces a no-fly zone around her merchandise.

Just what we're looking for: preserved seafood.

The Baan Manantha Hotel serves the same complementary brekkie every day. I'm not complaining, though -- there's bacon!

To get to Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, we take the daily shuttle from Market Village, Hua Hin's largest and most up-to-date shopping mall. It's about a 2km hike from our hotel.

Local wine under the Monsoon Valley label comes from here, Hua Hin Hills Vineyard.

Only baby grapes are on the vines. Harvest is long over.

It's really too hot to frolic among the vines, so we cool off at The Sala...

...sipping [home-made] grape soda.

Seafood pasta for lunch.

Sunset at the fishing pier.

Dinner including a lovely filler-free oyster omelet at the (hey) Meekaruna! Asked for a lemon juice, got a lemon sorbet instead. Delicious!

Dropped in on the Grand Night Market next to the Grand Hotel & Plaza.