Dr. N.A.N.'s Blog

News, views, and how the world skews from San Antonio, Texas

Archive for January, 2008

Driving in Neutral

stick shift

A former beau used to chide me for driving on “fumes”. For me, it was all about getting the maximum number of miles out of one tank of gas—you have to realize that in the early ‘80s, I was driving a 1976 (or so) four-door, light blue Peugeot 504 that looked pretty rugged.  It had a steering wheel on it the size of one of those exercise balls people roll around on. This was obviously before power steering. It was a four-on-the-floor with well over 85,000 miles behind it.

I actually learned about gas conservation back in the seventies when my father would drive me around town in our vintage 1970 Mercedes 280SE (yes, he still  has the care and it still runs!)

M-B 280SE 1970

At the time, we were living in Colorado Springs, in a neighborhood located on the side of a mountain. Thus, a good outing for him was to put the car in neutral after backing out of the driveway and letting the car coast down our street, slight pause at the stop sign and then left and down for several more blocks. He was especially pleased if he could make it out of our neighborhood and onto a major thoroughfare without ever putting the car in gear.

This driving strategy has stuck with me. If you drive with me in the city, you will notice that I have multiple sections of any route planned so that I may take advantage of the hills. I have it worked out so that I can throw the car into neutral and coast for at least several blocks on any given drive. I’m especially proud of my route home from the east or northeast side of town. Once I hit the top of 25th st., I pop the car in neutral and let her coast down to my alley. If the planets are aligned, I can turn right into the alley without stopping and continue coasting up to my garage door. I know that I should buy a lottery ticket when I can have the garage door open just in time to pull the car in. I don’t think anyone should have to pay more than $.60/gallon for gas…

An odd life

resize_img.jpgThis will be short because I have to go to bed and get up early tomorrow.   Something I loathe especially when it is dark outside and just 19 degrees above zero.  But, I do it because I love my part-time job at All Feline Hospital.

You might ask: What am I,  a musician with limited experience outside of academia,  doing working for a vet’s office?  I’m not sure. I do know that I was a client long before I became an employee at AFH and never really considered working or even volunteering there because of the regular heartbreak.  After certain events in my life, I needed to bring in more cash.  So, I asked my friend/owner/veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Arnold if she needed any help in her feline-only clinic. She was very kind to offer me a part-time job doing whatever.

Since starting work there, I have learned how to work the front desk, the back desk, answer the phones, hassle people for money, send them to collections if necessary and a whole host of other interesting things. I learned quickly that I could also satiate some of my lifelong fascination with medicine, only on smaller creatures.  This job has helped me develop my speaking skills, my interpersonal relationships, my ability to “count a drawer” and many other things. It has also allowed me to witness first class veterinary care up close and personal. What will I do if I ever move away? How will I find a good doctor for my furry children? The other part of this situation is that I really like ALL my co-workers. Each one of them brings something unique to their job and even in the worst of times, can make me laugh or forget my troubles. I know I will never replace this kind of working environment. So, everytime I go into work I am in a good mood. Can you imagine actually liking your job?

Pièce Monter

Can’t very well do an entire post on the elusive dessert without showing a picture!

Piece Monter

Finger-Lickin’ Good!

Aaaahhhhhh!

More Songs About Buildings and Food

Berthillon PARIS — Today, I was able to spend some “me” time along the rue Saint Louis en l’Isle. This street is part of one of the islands in the Seine, sort of in the middle of the city. I came to know this street (and the island) when my family and I used to rent an apartment here. To me, this street has some of the most amazing shops in Paris. The best ice cream and sorbet can be found at Berthillon, whose primary location is on the island. Even in the middle of winter, you will find a line that circles around the block–people patiently waiting to buy some of their amazing confections. (Perhaps akin to the line outside of Target when Wiis became available.)La charlotteA little further down, there is a tea room called La Charlotte de l’Isle. The owner is a chocolate artist of the first order. When you walk in, you are greeted by the rich smell of dark chocolate. She makes all kinds of figurines, cakes, cookies, and other structures from chocolate. Occasionally, she’ll add in candied fruit or almonds. The reason for my visit today was to pick-up a pièce monter for a party. I learned that pièce monter means something that is built in stages. So, the creation was tall, with each “floor” made from almond cookie dough rolled thin, baked and then molded to form half cylinders. The occasional section was dipped in chocolate. (If I were faced with a “last meal”, a pièce monter would be my request!) Besides ordering a piece of pièce, we frequently will stop in for chocolat chaud. This hot chocolate is NOT made from Nestlés powder — instead, our hostess melts chunks of chocolate with cream or half and half, and then serves it with a side of water.Also along this street is my favorite jewelry store. Thelma isn’t a store where you would go to buy a diamond, but a lot of the jewelry is handmade with crystals and other semi-previous stones. Without fail, I visit the shop once per trip to Paris and inevitably I buy something.If you keep walking down the street, it opens up into a bridge that connects the two islands. Cross the bridge and you are at the back of Notre Dame. Today, the tour line was too long so I just stood outside and took some pictures. I did go into another church (much smaller and less ornate) along the same street to light a candle. Similar to visiting Thelma, I always try to visit one church to light a candle. Thought it’s gotten to be such an expensive habit that I no longer light a candle for everyone on my prayer list– one has to suffice.