Adventures With Terrible Landlords: Windows Painted Shut Edition

October 20, 2009: Me to Landlord.

Hi M,

The man who painted the windows a couple weeks back accidentally painted all of mine shut except for the bathroom window.

Also, the radiator in the kitchen becomes quite hot to the point of being painful to touch, even though it is turned off.

Please let me know what can be done about this.



October 21, 2009: Landlord to me.

Hi Amy,
I will get the information to the maintenance guy. Are you home during the day? If not, is it okay if he comes in to do the repairs?
October 21, 2009: Me to Landlord.

Thanks, M. I'm at work from 9-5. Please just let me know when he plans on coming.

November 2, 2009: Me to Landlord.

Any word on this being dealt with?
November 2, 2009: Landlord to me.

I will be back in the office next week and will let you know then.
November 11, 2009: Landlord to me.

Sorry, the maintenance guy was there and fixed the radiator but was unable to open the windows with the guinea pig cage in the way. I am having the painter come by to open them from the outside.
November 11, 2009: Me to Landlord.
Hi M.

Thanks for getting back to me. That's why I was hoping to have a heads up about when he was coming, I would have moved it before I left for work. At any rate the radiator seems to be working somewhat better. Have the painter give me a call if he needs to get to the windows from the inside.

November 15th, 2009, 2:00 am: Me to Landlord.

Hi M,

When is the painter coming to open the windows? The only one I can open at this point is the tiny kitchen window. It's 53 degrees outside. According to my digital thermometer it is currently 82.6 degrees in my apartment. I am unable to sleep because it is too hot, I can't stand the thought of using my stove or oven, and in another 2.4 degrees my guinea pigs will be at risk for heat stroke, which will kill them. I've hacked at the windows with every tool I can think of using, including putty knives, a chisel, a workman's razor blade, a sharp serrated knife from my kitchen, and a pie server. I've come close to injuring my shoulders throwing all of my weight into trying to force them open. I imagine this would also prove a safety hazard should I ever need to escape in an emergency through the windows.

I didn't expect it to take a month to get them open again. Whoever you need to send, please send them immediately and give them my cell number. It's XXX-XXX-XXXX. I work 2 miles away and can be home in 10 minutes if they need me to move furniture. In the meantime, I'm resisting the urge to pour pain thinner down the cracks of the window frames.

G-Force Meets the 101 Dalmations Effect

I've been meaning to write this since I first saw the previews for G-Force, and was inspired to finally do so when I read this article from Slate this morning.

Remember when 101 Dalmations came out and was super popular?  Suddenly boys and girls everywhere were begging their parents for a dalmation puppy.  What's cuter than a puppy?  Yay!  (I'm willing to bet that this lead to a hike in puppymill breeding of this particular type of dog.)

Well, not long after, hundreds and hundreds of families discovered that dalmations are not always superhappyfriendly dogs, and due to their temperment as a breed don't always fit in well with families with small children.  Also they're big dogs who take time, money and training, and oh right, ARE NOT TOYS.  Hundreds and hundreds of dogs were abandoned and turned into shelters.  This happens every time someone makes a movie about a particular breed of dog, and the results are never pretty.  There were concerns that there would be an immediate demand for whatever dog the Obamas adopted.

So, now they've made a movie about guinea pigs.  Its opening sales were higher than those of the new Harry Potter.  (Why?  HP was bound to be awesome, and G-Force looks TERRIBLE.)  And now, people are buying guinea pigs from pet stores by the boatload.  The 101 Dalmations Effect has crossed the species line.

Say it with me, people:  GUINEA PIGS ARE NOT TOYS.

-They require a lot of attention and careful watching after.
-The have FRAGILE HEALTH.  Finding a proper exotics vet is not always easy, and is EXPENSIVE.  If you fail to treat an ill guinea pig IMMEDIATELY, s/he will likely die.  Failing to treat ill animals is ANIMAL ABUSE.
-Your young child cannot care for a guinea pig without ACTIVE adult supervision.
-They need a LOT MORE SPACE than the cages petstores will sell you.
-They do not do well alone and do best with cagemates.  This means MORE SPACE AND FOOD.
-Their diets are demanding, and to keep them in proper health one must do a good deal of research.
-They live upwards of SEVEN YEARS.  This is not a small, disposable "first pet" that will die as soon as your child becomes bored.  Where will you be in seven years?

AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS FURRY, PEOPLE, NEVER, EVER, EVER BUY A LIVING ANIMAL FROM A PET STORE.  There are thousands upon thousands of animals in shelters and rescues the world over who need homes.  When you buy an animal from a petstore, you sign the death warrant of an animal in an overcrowded shelter.  You know those puppy mills I mentioned?  Yeah, there are guinea pig mills, too.

And you know those shelters I mentioned?  They put down countless perfectly rehomable dogs and cats when they cannot find homes for them or run out of room to keep them.  THE SAME THING HAPPENS TO SMALL ANIMALS.

If you're considering getting a guinea pig as a pet or know someone who is, there are some important things that must be considered BEFORE bringing an innocent, living, breathing animal home.

1.) Cage Space.  (see As I mentioned before, guinea pigs are social, herd animals and do best in well-matched pairs and groups that CANNOT BREED.  Are you prepared to build a cage that will take up a minimum of 7.5 square feet in a prominant place in your home?  Do you know how to determine a guinea pig's sex so that you do not accidentally house a male with a female and end up with many, many guinea pigs?

2.) Vet Care. (see  There are a multitude of health ailments that can affect your pet.  Do you know what symptoms to look for?  Guinea pigs are prey animals and are experts at hiding symptoms of illness until it is too late.  Do you have access to an exotics vet who has experience with cavies and knows which antibiotics are safe for your pet?  Can you afford emergency vet care for all of your animals should they all suddenly come down with mites of respiratory infections?  Will you have the time and patience to treat your animals with life saving medications multiple times a day?  If your animal is unable to eat, are you willing to handfeed him?  Find a good vet before you need one.

3.) Diet. (see Guinea pigs have special health requirements.  They need access to food and water constantly, or their digestive tracks will stop working.  They need proper amounts of clean, fresh vegetables, and it takes time to learn which carry inmortant nutrients and which have too much sugar and should be fed sparingly as treats.  Quality pellets must lack harmful, cancer causing chemicals, baked bits and seeds.  They need some form of grass hay, such as Timothy hay, for fiber content and to keep their ever-growing teeth down.  If your local petstore does not carry quality foods, are you prepared to order from a catalog or website and pay shipping for better, more expensive foods?  Not to do so would be the equivalent of feeding your child lunchables and fast food daily because you can't be bothered to cook a proper meal.

And finally,
ADOPTION AND RESCUE. (see  Pet stores sell sick and missexed, mill-bred animals and dole out oodles of bad information.  Backyard breeding (which yes, includes "just one litter for the kids") comes with high health risks for the mother pig and babies.  And again, there are so many animals in shelters.

If there is a pet store in your area selling guinea pigs, I PROMISE there are guinea pigs in need of rehoming.  Search the following places for an animal who needs a forever home:
-your local shelter or animal rescue
-local bulletin boards, such as those at super markets
-friends and family

See?  This is not as simple as going to the store, buying a $20 animal and a $45 dollar cage and calling it a day.  That's what I'm saying.

Piglove: Wash Everything Edition

Yesterday evening was Pig Wash Day at the laundromat, the event in which I take all the deliciously urine-soaked towels and fleece the pigs live on and throw them in a super long, super hot load with vinegar and deodorizing detergent and hope for the best.  When I open the dryers, I pretend I'm not greeted by a puff of pee steam.

Pig Wash Yesterday means Clean Cage Today.  I stopped at the pet store on the way home from work to pick up a double-wide Pigloo in pale green with sparkles, in anticipation of tonight's fluffy, clean bedding.

The evening rolled through first washing the dishes, which had taken over the counter and had started calling me mean names every time I came into the kitchen.  It was so wonderful when they all hushed down to drip dry.  I also took down the kitchen trash, which contained some geriatric apricots that were the brand new home of a batch of fruit flies, and as much of the recycling as I could carry with one hand.  At that point it was cool enough to hit the streets, so I went out for a run, which was delightful and left me salty, sticky, and longing for a hot victory shower.

It made sense to clean the cage *before* washing up, so I piled the pigs into their carry cage and went about my business.  Normally I rotate between washing the cage with white  vinegar one week and Nature's Miracle the next.  Tonight was a vinegar night.  The process of cleaning the cage generally takes about ten minutes, so I didn't think much of giving the girls a single dish towel that was on hand instead of their usual 3 or 4 hand towels, which were all still buried in the pile of clean pigstuff.  I swept up the poos and trampled hay (anyone have a garden that could use some AWESOME fertilizer?  It always seems like such a waste to throw this all away).  I rolled up the fleece, and then each of the squashed, dirty towels, depositing all in a garbage bag, tying it tight and setting it aside for the next Pig Wash Day.

And then I saw them.  Little black fruit flies.  Everywhere.  They were in the base of the cage (which is made of coroplast), and all over the wall.  *Poof*  They were everywhere.  I couldn't figure out where they'd come from.  In an attempt to kill them off in droves I reached for the Windex and sprayed the bottom of the cage, then all over the wall, then the base of the cage again, wiping them all up as I went, sure that that must have eliminated the majority of them.  Normally I would never use Windex on the cage, but I felt this was a special occasion.  Then I noticed a concentration of them in the corner of the cage, all bunched together.  I sprayed the windex into the seam of the cage base and whoosh, out washed a tiny river of twitching, dying fruit flies.  They were living IN THE COROPLAST.  OMG GROSS.  All I can imagine is that some of the apricot fruit flies moved away from home after college and thought that the corner of a pig cage where the most poops collect would be a great place to start over.  I continued to spray into the corner until they stopped washing out, and gave the next corner over the same treatment.  By now the cage had been completely scrubbed down about three times.

Finally I was ready to spread out the fresh towels and fleece, position the pretty double-wide Pigloo between the blue and purple smaller ones, and fill the cage with pigs.  They always treat a clean cage with the curiosity of travelers who have just stumbled upon a delightful new planet.  Each Pigloo must be entered and marked with one's urine, and then the food must be found.  It makes the unpleasantness of cleaning up after them totally and completely worth it.

I returned to the carry cage to retrieve my pigs.  Brogan was first out, and she got right to business exploring.  I reached in next for Lieb, who pulled her signature Houdini and dodged my hand.  I reached for Sass instead and...SQUISH.  Her entire belly was soaked with pee.  They'd pushed the hand towel to one side and she sat in the back of the carrier for about 20 minutes longer than expected, absorbing a puddle of someone's pee, possibly her own.  Great.  Awesome.  Fantastic.

After fishing Lieb out of the carrier and returning her to her cage, I picked up Sass with one hand, grabbed a ten gallon bucket and the bottle of Bunny Wash in the other, and plunked her in the tub.  I ditched my running clothes and filled the bucket with warm water, then picked up the soggy pig, looked her right in the buldging, horrified red eyes and told her, "This is love, Wee One.  Pure, unadulterated love."  I proceeded to bathe her in the bucket, for which she was rather well behaved despite her terror.  She's actually quite long when she stands on her tip-toes and can just barely reach the bottom (but I held her butt up with one hand for the majority of this procedure).

As I have no hair dryer, we finished up with a few towel rubs to get the worst of the water out of her fur.  I turned off the air conditioner so she wouldn't catch a chill, wrapped her in a pig towel burrito and covered her with one of the smaller Pigloos, hoping she would be either patient or scared enough to remain in her personal steam room until the towel had soaked up the rest of the water.  Unwilling to watch her most assuredly shrug off both the Pigloo and my advice, I returned to the bathroom to wash first the bucket, then my running clothes, then the tub (which kinda needed it) and finally, gloriously, exhaustedly, myself.

It is now after 11 and I have yet to eat a proper supper.  This is love.  Pure, unadulterated piglove.

What has 9 toenails and a...

That would be me.  I have 9 toenails.  At long last, the nail on my left big toe completely detached a couple days ago.  At the bitter end it was hanging on by just the crease on the left where it curls below skin level, so I messed with it until it came off.  The last few nights I was sleeping with a sock on that foot so the nail wouldn't get caught on my sheets, which felt super weird and could be painful, and was wrapping it with a bandaid during the day for the same reasons.

I gotta say, it feels much better now.  On Saturday I found myself surrounded by a swarm of small children and was suprised how much of a relief it was to know that none of them could accidentally step on my foot and rip the nail off, which tends to be incredibly painful.  There's a weird arc across my toe that's indented a bit, and I wonder if it's a new, thin nail starting to grow back, but maybe it stopped short and got dug in where the front of the old nail was still attached.

Here's hoping it works itself out.  I'll be watching it with great curiosity.  This will also not stop me from painting the other 9 some pretty shade of red this summer.

Hanover Twp Women's 5K. Woot! First 5K.

Saturday morning I ran the Hanover Township Women's 5K, which was the graduation race for my women's beginning running class. Allow me to share.

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The high after that race was epic. I was grinning from ear to ear all morning, and would just start laughing at anything. After taking myself out to lunch I stopped by my friendly local running store for a badly needed new pair of running shoes. And the afternoon nap on my living room floor was also pretty epic.

Old School

I was just thinking about the year at school when they replaced our mini milk cartons with plastic milk pouches.  It happened somewhere between 3rd and 5th grade.  Two students came around a week or two before they made the switch, and demonstrated in the middle of math class on a pouch of water the proper way to stab it with the straw.  I remember wondering how they picked which kids got to skip class and give the demonstrations, because I was a little jealous.  If you didn't put your thumb over the end of the straw, milk would squirt everywhere.  The pouches looked like the one in the picture, except there were no pretty images printed on them.  There may have been some generic black print indicating the skim and 2% milk, but the chocolate you just figured was chocolate because it was brown.  I remember people drinking all their milk and then blowing the bags up like pinwheels, and spinning them on them with the straw poked all the way through.


The continuing foot-related adventures of...

"As the bruised skin underneath the nail starts to heal, separation of the toenail from the nail bed may occur causing the toenail to fall off."

Soooo, yeah.  Totally losing a nail.  I bruised it, get this, because I was wearing snug shoes and my toenail was too long.  The first what-to-do article I read about bruised toenails starts off, "If you're a runner, chances are you'll deal with a bruised toenail or two at some point in your running career."  [here.]

Sad thing is, this isn't even from running!  I'm sure the running doesn't help, but still.  Does that count as irony?  Alanis?

So, the back half of the nail on my left big toe has officially pulled completely away from the cuticle, and now hovers over the skin.  The front half is perfectly fine, attached and normal looking.  The back half is a tannish color and gets soggy when I shower.  I am resisting the urge to mess around with it because I'd be ok with it staying attached for a while.

It takes between 4-6 months for a toenail to regrow.  Expect updates.