Belated Bacon Powder

As some of you might have noticed, I didn’t blog last week. Sadly, last Friday I was on my way to Scotland for the funeral of my much-loved father-in-law. Among the sadness however there were some bright moments. On Sunday morning with the official ceremonies behind us, we paid a visit to the Barras Market which was fascinating. I loved it, but felt utterly out of place: a real tourist in a land I couldn’t fit into, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be a part of that culture. Still Monday brought us back to Norway and to normality, and although for a moment I felt a little homesick, the return to work steadied me, as it always does.

Now and then at work, someone will bring in home-baking, and last week I decided to take in some scones (recipe here). I took in strawberry jam, and squirty cream to eat with them, and they went down very well. Jan-Arne, of course, who is as fascinated with food as I am, said that he had heard about scones, and that he had expected them to be much drier. I suspect that whoever told him about them probably had eaten one when it was a bit stale, because of course, they don’t last long.

‘So how do you make them?’ was his next question.

I explained that you used flour and baking powder, and then rubbed in some butter and brought it all together with milk, but I could see his face cloud over, and his next question really confused me.

‘But what makes it rise?’ he said. Before I go on, I should explain that in Norway, the self-raising flour that I took completely for granted when I was in the UK just doesn’t exist here. For almost all baked goods thicker than biscuits*, you use baking power, so it seemed almost impossible that he hadn’t understood.

‘Well, the baking powder makes it rise,’ I said, and his face suddenly cleared.

‘Oh!’ A long drawn out sound. ‘That explains, it. I thought you said bacon powder,’ and he went off into his trademark giggle.

At this point Wivek arrived and asked what we were laughing about, and so we explained. ‘We’d probably all get a rise if she had used bacon powder.’ was her rather dry comment.

I don’t remember so many outstanding cases from the past two weeks. I know that last Thursday, Perle, the dog in the picture at the top of the page was booked in for a possible operation to relieve a build up of fluid following cruciate surgery, but that when she came, the situation was beginning to resolve and so the op was cancelled. That meant that my normal morning anaesthetic duties were out of the window, and as there were a few rooms that needed cleaning, I decided to get on with them. After sorting out the kennel room, the lab, and the x-ray room, I was walking towards consulting room A with my bucket, when Jacqueline, who had been clipping the claws of a dog for Marita came out of the dental room and yawned widely. It really was that kind of morning.

Of course, nothing is reliable in vet practice, and despite having hours of time in the morning to clean, I shouldn’t have been surprised when mid-afternoon, at the time when if I was working in an office I might be winding down for the last half-hour of the day, an emergency operation arrived and as everyone else was busy, I rolled up my sleeves (well metaphorically. In reality, I donned a surgical gown and gloves) and got on with it.

Thursday this week was quite quiet as well. Lucky for me, as I am trying to get up to speed on everything before I start officially consulting next week. Years ago, I was so used to my job that almost everything could be done on automatic pilot. I would say the same things over and over when I admitted an animal for an operation, and I knew exactly which drugs I would choose for a typical skin infection or diarrhoea case. Although I have re-learned a lot of things since starting work, I also (because I have done it all before) am aware of how many things I don’t remember. In the UK, it is common to have all the tablets and medicines in the practice, so if you are a bit stumped about dosages or applications, you can just pop through to the pharmacy and read the box. Here, almost all the drugs are provided via a prescription, so you have to know where to look everything up, and even when you do, it’s all in Norwegian, so it doesn’t only take a second to read, as it would have done before. No doubt once I start, it will all begin to come together, but just looking at it from the outside, it is a tiny bit daunting. I don’t really have any real uncertainty that it is the right thing to do though. It’s time I was properly back in harness.

As part of the learning process, I did get to spend some time in consulting rooms with my colleagues, and late on Thursday I found myself practising writing up the computer in Jan-Arne’s room. He had just micro-chipped a cat, and idly he started to run the scanner over his own neck.

‘Wouldn’t it be weird and alarming, if I were actually to find something,’ he said idly. Picking up one of the unused chips, still in its covering, he held it up to my back and scanned it so that the machine beeped. Of course, having seen him picking up the packet, I knew he was just messing around, but even as I watched him, I saw a mischievous look come over his face.

‘Where’s Marita?’ he said. ‘I want to see how she reacts.’ Of course, Jan-Arne in this mood is irresistible, and barely able to supress a giggle, I followed him. We couldn’t immediately find her, but sticking our heads into the prep-room, we saw Jaqueline sitting at the computer.

‘Why don’t you try it on her,’ I whispered to him, but he shook his head.

‘She’ll never fall for it,’ he said. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would really, but still always ready for some fun, I continued to follow him until he tracked Marita down, sitting in the office beside reception, looking at the computer. Sidling up behind her, he waved the microchip reader at her and ostentatiously started to scan himself.

‘Wouldn’t it be weird if I found something,’ he said, his face completely deadpan. Then without asking, he started to run the scanner over Marita’s  neck and back, and I watched as he slid the chip up into place and ran the machine over it. Marita’s face was a picture as she heard the beep, and for a moment it was obvious she really thought he had found something, but as she turned, she caught site of the package in his hand.

‘Uh!’ she rolled her eyes at him and laughed ruefully and I must confess that what impressed me most about this whole scenario, was Jan-Arnes unerring instinct for playing pranks to maximum effect. He really is a fun guy to be around.

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*I have been told by a friend from Texas, that what I call a scone is called a biscuit where she lives, and that the thing I call a biscuit, she calls a cookie, so if the whole of the recipe discussion is incomprehensible in your part of the world, I can only apologise.

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