27 August 2014

23 : Bees - Something Borrowed

Doing my bit for the Bees

The men of experiment are like the ant; they only collect and use. 
But the bee... gathers its materials from the flowers of the garden 
and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.
Leonardo da Vinci

With Spring only a matter of a few days away in the Southern Hemisphere, I feel as if I am doing my bit for the bees. The blossoms in our garden are blooming, welcoming swarms of bees collecting their pollen. We have spent the past few days preparing our garden for Spring; trimming back old growth making way for new.  Planting new flowers, including flowering ground covers, punnets, bulbs and flowering shrubs.

I'm reminded when hearing the buzzing of bees how important they are for us all. Bees are responsible for pollinating approximately 70 of the 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world population. It doesn't stop there, if we lose the plants that bees pollinate we also lose the animals that feed on those plants and interrupt the well oiled food chain; which would be catastrophic for the world as we know it. 

18 August 2014

23 : Bengal Cats - Something New


I've recently discovered Bengal Cats; a breed of cats that are a hybrid between a domestic cat and the Asian Leopard Cat (Felis Bengalensis). These cats were first bred in the early 1960's but not attempted seriously until the late 1970's; with the first Bengal Cat registered in the International Cat Association in 1983. The Asian Leopard Cat is a jungle cat that lives in the forests of Southern Asia, India, China, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Borneo, Java, Bali and Sumatra.

Asian Leopard Cat

Domestic Bengal Cats; named from the scientific name (Felis Bengalensis), are those that are at least four generations or more from their wild ancestors. Unlike many other domestic cats Bengal Cats are very energetic, playful and intelligent. They behave more like a dog than a typical cat and become very attached to their owners; they are extremely social and love being a part of the family, particularly with children. The breed also tend to like water and can be found jumping into any unattended water in the house, on the up side this makes bathing them easier. 

The thing that most attracted me to this breed is it's reputation for being hypo-allergenic. Although no cat is truly hypo-allergenic this one comes pretty close. Instead of the typical cat fur, Bengals have a pelt that is very short and thick, this means there is minimal hair loss and the pelt feels soft as mink. Some Bengals even have a glitter coat, this is unique to the breed and makes them appear to be sprinkled with gold. Not everyone with cat allergies find they don't react to Bengal Cats, however, I have to say I am one of the lucky ones!

I began to read up on allergic reactions to cats and was surprised to find that for some reason it is thought that the lighter the cat's coat the lesser the allergens. In addition, female cats that are desexed seem to cause less allergic reactions than male cats, particularly if they still entire. Armed with this knowledge I began to research this amazing breed of cats and went to visit a local breeder. I was astounded that for the first time in over 20 years I was able to hold a cat without itching, wheezing and suffering from a runny nose. That visit I held a huge range of Bengal's from kittens to females and entire males.

I was hooked; to have a little leopard running around our house was too tempting an opportunity to let pass. I put my name on the waiting list and kept my fingers crossed that I would be able to take home a Bengal Cat that was not only hypo-allergenic, but as a bonus also a desexed snow female. There were no guarantee's that a female snow would be born, but I felt confident it would happen.

Éowyn - so named from Lord of the Rings - was born 26 July along with her two sisters and one brother. Her father is a seal lynx point snow Bengal with blue eyes, just as she and one of her sisters are. When she turns 12 weeks we will welcome her into our home where she will become a part of the family, can't wait! 

10 August 2014

23 : Sugar is Bad - Something Old

Trying to Keep My Teeth

Unbelievably three weeks to the day after my first tooth was removed, due to decay and breakage, I broke another! At least with the first tooth I knew that it was inevitable; after all a huge chunk had broken off over 12 months before I suffered the pain of infection and decay of one of the remaining nerves. It took me a long time to come to terms with that loss. I was unprepared to lose another tooth, especially in such a spectacular fashion!

Truth be known I was eating a lolly at a child's birthday party when it happened. Yes, yes I know sugar decays teeth. However, it shouldn't really break off two/thirds of the tooth after one bite of a soft lolly!  A lolly that I quickly realised wasn't that soft after all; it suddenly was very crunchy with chunks of tooth I had spent a life time carefully growing! Gone, in an instant. The shard remains looked grim, both from what I could see in the mirror and what I could feel with my tongue. The darkened base looked suspiciously decayed and I knew its fate was sealed, I would lose this one too.

As all things like this seem to happen on a Friday night, I had to wait until Monday morning before the inevitable call to the dentist. I was kindly squeezed in that day where x rays revealed what I already knew; the tooth was gone. I was surprised that I wasn't in pain, but recalled I had recently been in pain there when my other tooth had been infected. I had put it down to referred pain and thought nothing more of it. The dentist told me that the nerve was actually exposed and was atrophied! I couldn't believe it, another one. Back to the periodontist I went. 

Surprised to see me, my periodontist was very kind and not at all condescending. He remembered me very well as my last tooth extraction was particularly difficult. Thankfully this time the tooth came out in a mere 5 minute extraction, beating the last by 40 minutes! Attached to the tooth, in one piece this time, was an abscess sac; the periodontist surmised that I actually must have a high pain tolerance. I had a really positive discussion with the periodontist and listened very carefully to his advice as to how to approach the care of my teeth from now on. After the last visit he had recommended I book in with my dentist for a full check up and organise all the fillings that were already needed for some small cavities. I now was armed with a plan of attack which was going to be another 4 visits to my dentist with two fillings booked for each visit. I had also already endured the dentist cleaning my teeth, not fun but necessary. He stressed the importance of attending to the remaining teeth first, before I spent hard earned money on new implants.

I will probably get the first implant now on this last tooth lost, tooth 44, as it is more visible than my molar. However, after losing that molar I realised how much help it had been with chewing and will definitely be going ahead with that implant too. Unfortunately none of these procedures come cheap, despite having private health insurance, and will have to be done in stages.

I have been recommended a strong flouride toothpaste from the pharmacy; also to ensure I drink more fluoridated water (not bottled) and to rinse my mouth after fizzy drinks and coffee. I learned that sugar-free carbonated drinks and fruit juice are still just as destructive to teeth as they are acidic, and the worse possible way of drinking them is sipping them slowly over a long period of time. Bingo! That's me in a nutshell. Even worse I skip brushing my teeth regularly due to shift work and fatigue, adding to the problem. I am also going to go back to chewing sugar-free gum, particularly at work after eating, which helps significantly increase saliva to reduce cavities. I may even have a go at flossing, although I can't commit to that one!

I have a long and expensive road ahead, but I am determined to not lose any more teeth than I have to. I just have to take this teeth thing seriously; when they start disappearing you suddenly realise that you lost your chance when you had it, and you don't get another.

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