Tag Archives: Scary boss lady

Cute

The first thing I saw on Thursday morning when I got in was Dagny. Officially it was her day off, but she had received a message in the early hours of the morning about a whelping bitch, or more accurately, about a bitch that was not whelping, and by nine in the morning, Ninja’s owners had decided that she required some veterinary assistance. For the record, Ninja is a sweet little Chihuahua with big eyes, though when she arrived at the clinic, those big eyes looked definitely troubled. Not surprising because when Dagny carried out a vaginal examination, there was a puppy stuck in the passage.  Using plenty of lubricant, Dagny managed to draw the pup out into the world. Sadly despite all her efforts, the pup never started to breathe. An x-ray showed that there was another puppy, and by measuring its skull, Dagny estimated that it might still be born normally, and so instead of spending her time off relaxing, she stayed in the clinic while Ninja’s owners gave their pet some time to try to give birth naturally.

For me this could be only viewed as an opportunity. Thursday is the day that Irene has designated that the dental room and laboratory should be cleaned and maintenance carried out. I think everything in the lab is jogging along fine, but it was only recently I realised that there were weekly and monthly services to be carried out on the dental machine and that they weren’t being done. There is a sheet on the wall of the dental room that I hadn’t noticed, and on that sheet were daily and weekly spaces for initials. Leah had been doing the checks, but in the weeks since she left, the boxes have all remained blank, and when I checked with Irene, it transpired that she didn’t know either. Most of the time in between I have been distracted by other things, but now and then my imagination would go into overdrive as I pictured the whole dental machine seizing up through lack of oiling.

Dagny had tried to call the maintenance rep, but there was no reply and so  she suggested phoning Kari Anna, who is still on maternity leave. ‘After all,’ she said with a laugh, ‘It’s not as if she will have anything else better to do.’

This proved to be incorrect. Dagny held the phone away from her ear for a moment, and even I could hear the wails of the baby from across the room. Still, the dental machine is VERY important, and Kari Anna is VERY patient, so with her help, we managed to oil the handsets. All that was left then was to oil the compressors down in the bowels of the appliance, and so, by ten a.m., Dagny and I were crawling around on the floor of the dental room, pointing a handily discovered ultra-violet light into the guts of the machine.

There was a horrible moment when Dagny thought she had been pouring oil into the air-compressor itself, but happily, it did turn out to be the correct orifice (obviously it’s very important for a vet to get the right orifice).  Finally, the oil levels were back to the right place. As we finished, I pushed myself up from the floor and stretched. I fully expected Dagny to do the same, but for some reason, she was still on the floor.

‘I’m not sure if I should get up,’ she said. ‘This is my day off. Maybe I should just lie here.’  I offered to get her one of the cushions we use for patients, but she turned it down. She checked the time on her phone. ‘Actually,’ she said, ‘I should be at the gym,’ and before I knew what was happening, she had started to wave her feet around in the air.

I was taken away from all this excitement by Wivek. Her daughter had hurt herself at school, and as Wivek had run to work (what a healthy lot of people I work with) she had no car. I drove her to the school, but happily it transpired that the injury was not as serious as had originally been thought. I arrived back at the surgery to see Ninja and her owners taking a walk down the road and I assumed all was well, but when I went back in, I discovered that they were still waiting for pup number two to arrive.

She returned from her walk, and still was making no progress, and so finally Dagny and Ninja’s owners decided  it was time to go ahead with a Caesarean.  Dagny is a quick and decisive surgeon, and so within a very short time, the gorgeous little pup in the photo at the top of the page was born. It’s always lovely to see how all the staff gather round to help when there is a newborn to be revived. Somehow, even after years in practice, there is always something magical about the gift of birth.

Ninja still sleeping while her pup begins to explore.
Ninja still sleeping while her pup begins to explore.

 

 

 

 

Metzenbaum Meltdown

It’s been a week of instrument incidents this week, at least on Tuesday anyway. I didn’t sleep well on Monday night, and by nine o’clock on Tuesday morning, I confess I was wafting round the practice, trying to be all efficient. It wasn’t easy. Somehow the standard tasks of ensuring the rooms were well stocked with needles and syringes seemed unusually complicated. I thought I was finally getting into my stride though, as I emptied the instruments from the autoclave, put them away, and packed up a raft of new kits for sterilisation.

Irene came into the room at this point and started to chat. My brain being otherwise occupied (the routine tasks were taking up all of the limited space in my one cylinder brain) I looked at her vaguely and failed to answer to her satisfaction. She looked at me with narrowed eyes and her head on one side.

‘Are you tired this morning? You’re not usually this quiet. I went to a concert last night. I’m tired.’

I admitted that I wasn’t at my best. My inclination was to remain silent, but it seemed impolite. ‘What concert did you go to?’ I had to try to appear normal at least. She named a singer I had never heard of and I tried to carry on the discussion as I set up the autoclave to sterilise the instruments I had just packed.

The autoclave has something of a pre-set routine. When you first switch it on, it automatically says that the door is open, and the locking mechanism doesn’t work until the programs become available. So I meticulously emptied the outflow, ensured the distilled water was topped up and then, to pre-empt the frustrating period when the door won’t lock, I carefully pushed the door to and set the locking mechanism in place. With a sigh of relief that everything was beginning to settle down, I turned my back as the machine began to run through its program. Irene had continued chatting, but now she was looking at me with a very confused look in her eyes.

‘So what’s in the autoclave?’ she asked. I frowned at her for asking such a crazy question. Obviously the packs I had just set up so carefully, but her eyes weren’t looking at me. They were directed towards the neatly stacked rack with the kits all neatly packaged in their white paper parcels. I had just set the autoclave off on its hour long programme with nothing inside.

All day long, I seemed to be all fingers and thumbs. There had been a spell lately when it seemed I was unable to do the simplest task without dropping something on the floor, and on Tuesday the effect was magnified. Opening up some suture material while Dagny was operating, I thought that rather than risk handing it directly to her from the package, I would drop it on the instrument table. Of course, it flipped out of my hands and missed by several inches. Somehow, every needle I used became detached from the syringe. I spent so much time running in and out of theatre to get new ones that I began to worry that someone would comment. It was a relief therefore when Dagny, usually so efficient, managed to drop the straight scissors from her kit. I retrieved them and offered to get a new pair.

‘I’ll need some Metzenbaums anyway,’ she said ‘you can just get some of those and I can used the curved scissors for everything else.’ Metzenbaum scissors are long slim scissors designed to cut delicate tissue. I collected a pair from the instrument cupboard. Once again, Dagny being occupied with her operation, I decided to drop them directly onto the instrument table. I should have known better. They too slipped to the floor with a clatter that seemed so loud in the quiet operating room. Fortunately, Dagny was not in Scary mood (in fact, she has been so unscary lately, that if I didn’t know how much she loved her nickname, I might feel the need to change it) and she just laughed and asked if we had another pair. At this point, Magne, ever the gentleman obviously felt that he should join in with this game of throwing things on the floor and dropped the chuck-key of the drill. Really I didn’t feel so bad then. The final flourish occurred as Dagny was stitching up. As she went to set the scissors back on the table after cutting her suture material, she misjudged it and the last pair went toppling to the ground. She completed clipping the line of sutures using a scalpel blade. Obviously the idea of asking for yet another pair seemed too high a risk. After all, judging by earlier events, I probably would have stabbed her in the toe.

Thursday, thank goodness, was much more relaxed. Dagny’s sister-in-law brought in her lovely little dog (that’s him in the picture at the top of the page) to be castrated. In contrast to Tuesday, theatre was a hive of extreme efficiency. I’ve never seem Dagny operate so swiftly. So much so that I barely had time to stabilise the anaesthesia before it was time to switch the machine off. I spent the rest of the morning discussing some modification of the anaesthetic regimes with Wivek, who is thoroughly knowledgeable in this, as with so many other things. We want to be sure that the patients are as comfortable and as safe as possible during surgery, and so we are reviewing the analgesic (pain-relief) protocols. When all is said and done, however many times you throw your scissors on the floor, in a good veterinary practice the well-being of the animals always comes first.

A Little Bit Crudie?

This week saw my return to work after three weeks off following my operation. I was delighted to be back. There is so much more humour at work than on the Jeremy Kyle Show. Having checked all the other rooms were stocked, I found myself in Magne’s, where as happens every now and then, he asked me a question about an English word he had come across.

‘What does crude mean?’ he asked.

I found myself wracking my brains over that one. It definitely depends on context. Crude oil and crude humour are rather different. Both imply that the things they describe are unrefined, but that word carries almost as many difficulties. We discussed crude oil (because that one was easy to explain) and of course, being me, I had also to try to explain crude humour. ‘A bit rude’ doesn’t really cover it. Finally I think I got through when I told him that farting jokes would be a good example.

Of course, none of this got us any further with translating his medical text. I asked him if he could clarify, but when he said ‘it said that the cells were crude or something,’ I was more confused than ever. Finally he found the text and it described the cell collection technique he had used as ‘a crude method for detecting oestrus’ so finally we were able to get to the bottom of it.  As ever though, Magne, when presented with a new word, and especially one attached to humour, was unable to drop the subject. He spent the rest of the morning asking me. ‘Is that a bit crudie?’ ‘Is this a bit crudie?’ Of course Scary Boss Lady then wanted to know what we were talking about. She asked me whether my humour in this blog was a bit crude, so I pointed out that mostly I wasn’t crude. I was just rude and mostly to her. She seemed happy with that.

Thursday morning’s computer check revealed that I had a patient coming in to see me at 9a.m. Lucy was to have her claws clipped under sedation. Her owner had asked to see me… the first time that has happened here. I was delighted, especially as Lucy is such a lovely dog.  It all went very well. My only failing was to forget to ask to photograph her before she went to sleep. She was just waking up when I took the photo at the top, but I think she’s gorgeous.

Despite being very happy to be back at work, there were some complications. I’m not supposed to lift anything for six weeks so I had to ask other people to do all my heavier tasks. Gerd carried the water distillation container, Marita carried the reagent box from the blood biochemistry analyser, Irene carried the big soap bottle and put away all the dog food. We have a new nurse as well who started on Monday, Jacqueline, and she helped too. She’s been in the practice before, and so she knows her way around. Really I was very well looked after. Despite all this, I found myself quite sore by lunchtime on Thursday. Realising this, Dagny sent me home. She keeps trying to pretend that she is only worried that I will take more time off, but really I can see through the disguise.  I was hugged by Marita and Jan-Arne too and Irene wished me ‘God bedring’ (Get well soon) before I left. Really it’s lovely to be back.

Ye Crowlin Ferlie

This week’s picture is of Daisy, a West Highland White terrier who came in yesterday morning to be inseminated. I have seen cows inseminated before, but never a bitch, so I was interested to watch Magnificent Magne as he took a swab to check if Daisy was ready, and looked at the sperm under the microscope to see whether the sample was healthy. Apparently both were good enough. Daisy’s mum used to come in for Magne to inseminate her as well, so her owner told me, so obviously it’s a successful technique. Hopefully in 63 days or so, there will be some more puppies as beautiful as she is.

The microscope in the practice does get very well used. Far more so than any practice I worked at in Scotland. I was very interested when Jan-Arne called me over to look through the lens a little later to show me a blood-sucking louse. For some bizarre reason, when he showed Irene, she said ‘Awwwwwww’. Obviously her idea of cute differs slightly from mine.  I wonder whether this extends to her taste in men.

On Thursday, Jan-Arne came in in his pyjamas again. He actually admitted this time that they were his pyjamas. Obviously an eleven a.m. start is too early for him. I went into the changing room a few minutes after he had left and found his trousers decorating the floor and his boots haphazardly strewn . This amused me, so I took Irene to see, then asked him if he thought we were his servants. I threatened to take a photo, and he rushed to tidy them away. ‘Otherwise my mother will say I’m just the same at home, and Steinar (his partner) will as well,’ he groaned.

Still, he made up for it easily by bringing in the biggest Suksess Cake I’ve ever seen. For those of you not in Norway, this is a delicious cake with an almondy base and a sweet creamy yellow topping. It’s definitely my favourite Norsk cake. When I asked Jan-Arne what the success was that we were celebrating, he replied that the success was getting the calories out of his house. A few of them are undoubtedly now in mine. Still it was worth it. And just in case that wasn’t enough, at the meeting yesterday, everyone was handed an advent calendar. It seems that Scary Boss Lady really is into Christmas.  It all looks veldig gøy. I wonder how many dogs will enjoy the tree.

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Julebord

Saturday night was the Julebord (Christmas Party). It was held at GamleVærket in Sandnes, and happily Charlie and I were able to book a room to stay overnight, which made for a very relaxing evening.

Per Egil serves Karl with a second glass of sparkling wine. From left to right - Wivek, Jacqueline, Magne, Jenny and Karl.
Per Egil serves Karl with a second glass of sparkling wine. From left to right – Wivek, Jacqueline, Magne, Jenny and Karl.

For me this was a very special event as it was my first Norwegian Julebord and though there were some similarities to those I have been to in Scotland there were also some major differences. I have a suspicion that  J.R.R. Tolkien must have been to a Norwegian Julebord just before writing the dwarf party scene in the Hobbit. Very early on, it became apparent that throughout proceedings, people would randomly burst into song for no obvious reason, prompting everyone else to join in. Each of these rousing choruses culminated in a toast, which certainly got the event going.

Unlike the often uninspiring turkey dinner that is generally served in the UK, there was a huge buffet of traditional Norwegian Christmas delicacies, including ribbe, pinnekjøtt and lutefisk. I have  mentioned ribbe before because we usually have it on Christmas day and it is a roasted pork joint with delicious crackling. Pinnejøtt is a kind of dried, salted lamb. But for me, the lutefisk the most interesting offering. For the uninitiated, lutefisk is white fish which has been slowly dissolved in caustic sodium hydroxide until it becomes gelatinous. Yum! Actually, this was my first experience of lutefisk, and when combined with chunks of bacon, mushy peas, and a delicious cream and mustard flavoured sauce, it was quite delicious. I would definitely have it again.

Jan-Arne goes in for a romantic nibble on Steinar's ear.
Jan-Arne goes in for a romantic nibble on Steinar’s ear.

Dagny’s husband Sondre had brought his guitar, and he was mostly in charge of the entertainment. Per Egil (Irene’s husband) was first up. He shared a very baaaaad sheep joke with us. Charlie also had to talk. Happily, he is almost always prepared for public speaking and was quickly ready with a joke.

Sondre really enjoyed Per Egil's humour.
Sondre really enjoyed Per Egil’s humour.

Jan-Arne got up at this point to take Steinar to work as he was due to work the night-shift. For some reason, their departure was marked with a song, to the tune of God Save the Queen, which roughly translated as “The old people are going home now”. I’m not sure her majesty would approve.

After a rousing rendition of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, some musicians very kindly came in and gave us their Jærsk version of King of the Road. Quite appropriately, this was all about a farmer and his enormous tractor. I couldn’t follow all of it, but if it was completely accurate, I am sure there must have been a mention of slurry in there somewhere.

For some reason, at this point all the women whose dresses had been bought by their husbands had to stand up and give a fashion parade. Irene, Dagny, Marita and me all had to give our version of the catwalk strut. Irene was definitely the most assured.

Irene, effortlessly glamorous.
Irene, effortlessly beautiful.

Then it was the turn of the husbands who bought the dresses to talk about the occasion. When asked the theme he had considered when buying Irene’s outfit, Per Egil stated he had been going for the ‘F****** Sexy Look. I was a bit worried about Charlie at this point, because I had a suspicion that he very likely had no memory of buying my dress. It was a couple of years ago, and just after Christmas in the sales. Still, he managed to hide his amnesia well by saying he just felt it was important that I did not outdo him for glamour. He then stated that unfortunately, as it was me he had to contend with, he had failed in his objective. In Glasgow, I fear this might have raised a chorus of gagging noises, but happily for me, Norwegians are far more romantically inclined and instead everyone said ‘Awwww……’

 

Charlie McGurk, King of Glamour
Charlie McGurk, King of Glamour

Christmas is a time for the giving of gifts, and so now it was time for us all to play the klinikk version of pass the parcel. Instead of music, the package started with Magne, who had to pass it to “a lady beside him,” who then had to pass it to “the person who was sitting furthest away.” The first few directions were innocuous, but gradually the theme descended towards more personal things. The final few were decidedly risqué. I really want to know how Kari Anna knew that Dagny’s husband was “owner of the biggest dick,” though not perhaps so much as Dagny wondered…

Suspicious Boss Lady.
Suspicious Boss Lady.

Of course, no Christmas party would be complete without some dancing, and so at this point everyone had to dance around the mulberry bush, or as they would have it here, the enebærbusk. I suppose that given the fact that one of Norway’s most popular Christmas songs states that the celebrations can’t begin until the floor has been washed, that a dance involving ironing the clothes and cleaning the windows would also be still all the rage.

Per Egil showing off his moves.
Per Egil showing off his moves.

Happily Jan-Arne returned in time for dessert. I particularly enjoyed the multer (cloud berries) with cream. Jan-Arne managed to pull one of the tiny Christmas crackers that was attached to the kransekake, and to my surprise, there was actually a hat and a joke inside. Jan-Arne seemed to enjoy the rice porridge with raspberry sauce best. Fortunately he didn’t get called out to any calvings with his crown on.

Jan-Arne on call.
Jan-Arne on call.

The evening was drawing to a close now, and people started to depart, but a few stout-hearted and dedicated partygoers continued down into the main bar area downstairs where a band were playing.  Charlie, still swirling around in his kilt experienced some most enjoyable Norwegian sexism in action. Apparently not only was he accosted many times to be asked what he was wearing underneath, but he also had his bum felt a couple of times. I think it rounded off the evening well.

Anyway, for those who have reached this point, thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. And for anyone who is interested, I will attach a few more photos below. Maybe some of them will be a little more flattering…

Per Egil and Charlie.
Per Egil and Charlie.
Me and Charlie
Me and Charlie
Kari Anna
Kari Anna
Jenny and Karl
Jenny and Karl
Jan-Arne
Jan-Arne
Steinar
Steinar
Wivek
Wivek
Jacqueline
Jacqueline
Kari Anna, Jacqueline and Per Egil singing.
Kari Anna, Jacqueline and Per Egil singing.
Marita and Renso
Marita and Renso
Gerd and Magne
Gerd and Magne
Jan-Arne goes crackers.
Jan-Arne goes crackers.
Dagny handing out a final gift of chocolate before leaving.
Dagny handing out a final gift of chocolate before leaving.
Who knows what's under there?
Who knows what’s under there?

Co-Operation

Tuesday morning began well with Dagny and Magne operating to remove the most enormous piece of detached cartilage I have ever seen from a dogs shoulder joint. It went so smoothly that I had a good feeling about the remainder of the day. Reality reasserted itself when I went through and carefully laid the dog in the kennel… and stood up, bashing my head off the door of the left upper kennel. Instinctively recoiling, I ricocheted and thumped the other side of my head on the door of the other kennel. It was that kind of day.

Next came a mammary tumour, which I had seen on the computer. I confess I had expected a dog (I saw the operation, and didn’t check the species because mammary tumours in dogs are incredibly common, and in cats incredibly rare). Again the same pattern, the operation itself went very well. I was doing this one on Magne’s behalf because he was running slightly behind schedule. As I inserted the last stitch, stripped my gloves off and walked out of theatre to wash my hands, Mobility Magne rushed into the room, brandishing a cat cage at arms length.

‘Can you do something with this,’ he gasped, before disappearing. I confess, I was somewhat surprised, but as the most disgusting stink assailed me, I realised that the cat in question had deposited something utterly rank in the cage. Luckily I have a strong stomach, so without further ado, I cleaned up the mess. Being a vet really is a very glamorous job. I am reminded at such moments, of James Herriot, comparing his vocation with that of a small animal surgeon and humorously self-deprecating as usual. He mentions that after his operations, “the final scene would have been of Herriot the great surgeon swilling the floor with mop and bucket”. Well even though I now work in small-animal practice, it’s not so very different. ReMorseful Magne (see what I did there) did proffer a partial explanation later when he told me that the awful smell was literally making him gag.

In the afternoon, I had a cat spay booked in, but somewhat to my surprise, two turned up. The owners, after being told by Magne that I sutured very beautifully, had asked that I be allowed to spay their cat, but they seemed confused when they arrived and saw only me. They had been expecting Magne to supervise. Fortunately at this moment, the man himself turned up and smoothed everything over. The highlight of my afternoon however, was when Irene was attempting to shave up the second spay for me. Because most cats here are spayed midline, she needed to be reminded of the landmarks I use when deciding where to incise. She had the cat laid out on a chair and seemed to be paying close attention as she felt around for the bony protuberances of the hip and thighbone. Finally, she found what she thought felt right.

‘Am I in the right place?’ she asked. Rounding the corner of the table to take a look, I was somewhat surprised to see her eyes were close to shut as she concentrated fiercely on what she was feeling, and that one of her fingers was on the shoulder and the other somewhere on the neck.

‘Um… well it would be if the cat was the right way round.’ I commented with a giggle. Fully expecting her to join in with my hilarity at this very funny joke, I was amazed when she opened her eyes wide and looked mortified. She really hadn’t noticed.

‘This stays strictly between us.’ Red-faced, she tried to silence me, but unfortunately nothing so amusing ever stays private here and she did continue giggling at herself for at least half-an-hour, so I guess she must have seen the funny side. I fear she may try to get her revenge by commenting to mention the very loud fart I let out when I was bending over to clean the floor in room B last week, but of course everyone will know that couldn’t possibly be true. I could never be so crudie.

Thursday morning began with a Caesarean. Dagny and Magne again, working as a team. Magne did the first part of the operation while Dagny revived the puppies, and then Dagny took over to stitch up. There were four healthy puppies, which is always a lovely event. Dagny had only had two hours sleep, but was still working as efficiently as ever. I have a feeling that her amazing cheekbones can get her through almost anything because she looked as good as ever too. Fortunately after the operation, she was able to go home and get a couple of hours sleep before the lunchtime meeting.

This weeks picture shows Wivek operating. It doesn’t get much more glamorous than this.

Jan-Arne and the Well Preserved Eye

Intravenous catheters can be frustrating things. When I was working in the emergency clinic, almost every patient we admitted had to be put on a drip, so back then I got quite good at inserting them. Nowadays it seems a bit more hit and miss. There’s a definite pattern though. If I’m on my own, generally I can get them in without too much problem. Under the benevolent gaze of Magnificent Magne or Jan-Arne, it’s usually not too difficult. But both Dagny and Wivek make the thing look so simple that I seem to go to pieces whenever they are watching. Dagny doesn’t even have to be watching. She only has to be in the room for the difficulties to take effect.

Early on Tuesday morning, Dagny had all her kit laid out for an operation and (tactfully) wasn’t watching me in my attempts, but stood chatting to one of the other staff. The dog was a dachshund, and its legs were so short, that even after I had shaved quite an extensive area of its foreleg, its body hair was so long that it obscured almost everything. With shoulders that were becoming decidedly tense already, I selected the smallest possible catheter and took aim. Slipping the stylet through the skin, I was encouraged by seeing a tiny droplet of blood moving up into the breach. Quickly, I slid the needle a nanometer further in… and the bleeding stopped. I had gone right through. Trying to keep my breathing steady, I withdrew a little, but it wasn’t to be.

I decided at that point upon a tactical withdrawal. Often it is better to start again with a fresh catheter, which can’t be blocked and hasn’t been blunted by its first traverse through the skin. Selecting a slightly bigger catheter (sometimes this works better as they are less flexible) I set the tourniquet back in place to raise the vein and once again tried heroically to keep the hair out of the way with the final two fingers of my left hand whilst still stabilising the vein between my finger and thumb. This time, the catheter went into the vein, but when I tried to slide the sheath down off the stylet, it just bent. Through all of this, Dagny had been carefully not watching, but I could tell she wanted to get on. I confess I was relieved as she finally elbowed me out of the way and did it herself. A few moments later, with the catheter triumphantly in place, she looked around for the laryngoscope so that she could put the tube into the trachea for the gaseous anaesthetic but it wasn’t there. Ever efficient with her cleaning, Irene had already tidied it away.

A little later, and another dog, this time a little pug dog (or mops, as they are called here). This one was having its corneas treated with the cryoscope. Marita came into the room and began to ask Dagny about the freezing effect, and how strong it was. Ever the scientist, Dagny thought it would be a good idea to try it on herself. She held it against the back of her hand for a moment.

‘It’s not sore,’ she announced airily, and moved the tip to a different place with a smile.

‘Ouch!’ A moment later, she was staring at a white mark on her skin- ‘Okay,’ she admitted ruefully, ‘Maybe it does hurt.’

Jan-Arne managed to injure himself this week as well.  On Wednesday, he had taken a biopsy and opened up the small container filled with formaldehyde that would preserve the sample while it was sent to the laboratory. With an aim that he presumably couldn’t recreate, even if he tried, he managed to drop the sample into the pot in such a way that some of the formalin splashed up into his eye. After much salt water washing, he was packed off to the doctor’s to get it checked over. Fortunately there was no permanent damage.

He has though, been evilly trying to tempt me with birthday cake all this week. He brought in the leftovers on Tuesday. Heroically I managed to resist. I’m not really sure how many birthday cakes one person needs, but he seems to have been very well supplied. Then again, he’s so generous to everyone that he deserves good things in return.

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The remnants of the cake were still there on Thursday, but I confess I found it much easier to abstain. Also, someone had brought in a pack of freshly baked boller. Boller are widely available in Norway. They are a kind of sweet bread roll or bun, often with raisins or chocolate chips inside. These ones had bits of Smash: chocolate with caramel and salt. After taking one and eating it, Irene announced that she had discovered a new taste sensation. Jan-Arne and I, both foodies, were looking at her very intently.

‘I had a piece of the boller with a bit of cucumber,’ she said, with wonder in her voice. ‘It was lovely.’

There was wonder in my head. Specifically I was wondering whether such a combination could possibly be delicious or whether Irene had finally lost the plot. I hadn’t come this far with my resistance to eating extraneous sweet things lightly however, and somehow I managed to curb my enthusiasm towards this idea.

‘You could design a new boller,’ Gerd offered. ‘An Agurk Boller.’ (Agurk being Norwegian for cucumber).

‘A Cucumboll?’ suggested Marita.

‘What’s English for boller?’ Irene asked.

‘Bun,’ came the reply.

And so the CucumBun was born. At least it will be, when someone takes the time to make it.

 

Todays picture is Chika who was in for her first vaccination.