Working the night shift…
February 23, 2012

Here we are, making tv widgets.....around the clock...

Most of tend to think of people who work shift work, as perhaps factory jobs, where things roll around the clock…or maybe a 24 hour restaurant. My Dad worked over 40 years at a place that made cast iron pipe in Birmingham, Alabama. He would change shifts every two weeks as I remember. Imagine, for two weeks working 3:30am-noon, then two weeks day shift, and then two weeks 8 pm to 3:30 am….it must have been brutal, a continual sort of jet lag.

AC yes, but we didn't have a clothes dryer for years!

That was why we got air conditioning back in the day…he was trying to sleep during the hot summer months with 3 little girls running around screaming outside the windows. Yeah.

And as I’m sure some of you have noticed, I am now on the night shift. Television is also a business, like hospitals or factories, that operate 24-7. And those shifts have to be covered. So I’m working mid afternoon until after the 11 pm newscast. A man I saw at Whole Foods tonight said, “Wow, I see you on the 11 o’clock newscast. I know that’s tough.”

And while there positives and negatives  about everything…here’s the positive I have found in this move.

I have yet to achieve this look....

-I have time for all kinds of appointments! Hair, doctors, yoga class…running errands…You have good quality daytime hours to do things, and when your off hours are at night, many things aren’t open, or you don’t have the energy after work.

nap like a rock star...

Naps. I try to take a little while before I get ready for work to lie down for a little while, and maybe even take a nap…which I love. The nap is a much underrated pleasure.


-Feeding the cats. OK, that sounds truly weird, but Muffy is a grazer, and weighs almost nothing…that’s because  when I feed the cats in the morning, she nibbles and then wanders away, and Baby Girl gobbles everything she left. So now I feed Muffy several times a day, and she is actually gaining a little weight. Score!

People on the night shift. Rod Daniels(who brings in Big Pup Bandit every now and again), Kai Reed, Gerry Sandusky, Tom Tasselmyer, Jerome Chester , Sheldon Dutes…all great people I enjoy being around very much. And working on a shared project….a terrfic 11 pm newscast…is something we all share and craft together.

So it’s all good…much to my surprise, I’m enjoying being on the night shift…more than I ever thought I would. Now what has taken a beating is this blog, because I haven’t quite found the groove that allows me to do it as often. But I promise to put out a blog at least once a week. And maybe I’ll find the time to do more than that.

Someone asked had I deserted the blog for Facebook….no…but a Facebook post takes a few minutes if that, and a blog takes a block of time. If you aren’t on FB and Twitter, I encourage you to try it…you might find it much more rewarding than you think. On Twitter, I’m @donnahamiltontv, and on Facebook Donna Hamilton WBAL-TV. And it’s easy. Really.

Baby Girl Melanoma!!
March 9, 2011

Get in the cat carrier, Baby...just get in please.

I noticed this strange thing on my beloved Baby Girl’s right hip maybe a month ago…and I thought at first it was a tick….about the same size, dark brown…almost black. So I got out my trusty tweezers and alcohol, ready  to do what I had done many times before on various animals…remove the darn thing. But I couldn’t get under it…. and B to the G made how she felt about me trying, painfully clear.

I attempted this again a few days later…same results. So clearly, if this is a tick it is deeply embedded, and Dr. Donna is not gonna be able to handle this one. Or…it’s something else, like a growth. So I made an appointment with my vet one morning before work….and off we go.

The trusty Pet Taxi....Baby hates it...

Dr. Cohen looks at it and says, “It’s definitely not a tick“…..and he squeezes it a little and rubs it …here’s the weird thing…dark pigment came off on his finger. Eeuuuw. He continued, “It’s definitely a growth of some kind…good you didn’t try to remove it(true dat-could have been messy)…..but what worries me is the pigmented nature of it.” He said to leave Baby there for the day, and they would remove the growth that afternoon….”Whatever it is, it probably needs to come off.”  Poor Baby Girl.

Baby's incision..stitches come out next week....

I picked her up that evening…she was a little sad and still a bit woozy, but otherwise fine(nothing seems to dent Baby’s appetite-that girl can eat!)….and it was yesterday that Dr. Cohen called me with the biopsy results. Benign melanoma,(have you ever heard of that on a cat?) but some of the cells in one part of it were atypical. Not good. But the doc had removed a wide margin of skin around the lesion, and all those margins were clear. He said, “Keep on eye on that area  in the future and let me know if anything appears anywhere else.” He was actually amazed that I found that one, because Baby is, as he referred to her, “heavily furred“. Yeah she is, Baby doesn’t fool around when it comes to fur…she’s all in.  So just a heads up to pet owners…it sometimes pays to do the thorough petting session. And B to the G sends her furry love….

Everyone’s a comic…..
December 15, 2010

I'm sure there was a huge laugh when this was written....

I work with a lot of people here at WBAL, some of whom are very funny indeed, and some who fancy themselves so…you know what I’m sayin’. So it didn’t surprise me much when this anonymous note showed up a desk a this week. What the note refers to is the refrigerator, door and dishwasher that are in my yard that make me look like…well…Fred Samford does come to mind, or the Clampett family perhaps.

Anyway, just so you know, they are all off today to the Salvation Army, to live again hopefully….because they all worked quite well, but are no longer needed. And the kitchen is ALMOST finished….a little strip of granite that was somehow left off the template is coming today, the range is in(Oh, JennAir did the controls have to be so complicated?), and the new stainless French door frig, which spent last night in my entry way, and the new dishwasher…. will be hooked up today.

I love these knobs, and they look great on new cabinets.

The the “fun part” of putting everything that has been residing in the living room, back into the kitchen, and no doubt getting rid of some stuff along the way. Oh, and the knobs above are something I’m resusing….I loved them when I bought them(and they weren’t cheap) and still do. A little recycling. Something old, something new.

First Christmas with Spencer...

And I haven’t done any decorating at all..yet. It’s gonna be a hectic weekend getting everything together, just in time for Xmas. Whew! But my sweet daughter is excited about her first Christmas in her own apartment, with Spencer of course. She got the little tree at Target….and says Spencer loves the tree(a little too much).

The Cat Warmer….or, heating a cold stone floor….
November 5, 2010

Damn papparazzi...stop bugging me...

OK, I told you we had the BGE energy audit done a month ago….with all kinds of recommendations for sealing and covering and insulating and thus and such…sigh. But we did ask. And we’re doing quite a few of those things, especially the sealing and the insulation.

One problem area we have is the family room, which is built over an uninsulated crawl space off the basement. That room, which is so lovely much of the year, is co-o-o-old in the winter, because the space underneath the floor is uninsulated. I wish we had radiant heat under the slate floors..but… we don’t. End of story. Enter the cat warmer…I mean, the Rug Buddy-here.

We bought ours for about $275....

The Rug Buddy goes underneath any area rug, (on top of a rug pad), and you just… plug it in. It’s like a safe, silent, invisible portable heater….and can be used on top of any surface…stone, carpet, vinyl, etc. And I have to tell you, it has really taken the chill off that room. Will it save on our energy costs? That remains to be seen, I hope so….but Baby Girl, my little  furry heat seeking missile adores it. Where do I find her stretched almost any time? That’s right, on the Rug Buddy. They might market even more of these items if they sold an alternative version called the Cat Warmer…just a suggestion.

Have a great weekend everyone…cook something delicious, do something fun, play nice and don’t throw rocks. And come home safe…’cause we miss you.

Bad Muffy!…or, whose feathers are those?
September 21, 2010

Muffy, captured on a, what green eyes you have!

Many of you know Muffy…my lithe, snarky(complains if I pet her more than 20 seconds) little calico cat. She’s about 8 years old now… a truly finicky eater…when I put down her wet cat food, she sniffs it and waits expectantly for the topping that’s not really good for her…a sprinkle of dry food.

B to the G, watching tv...

 She gets it(of course) and will then eat… only a few bites. If I’m home with Muffy on a Saturday, I feed her  little spoonfuls all day long…it’s really the only way to get some food  into her, because whatever she leaves, Baby Girl, who’s furry body is as solid and round as Muffy’s is long and lean, eats whatever she leaves.

This morning, Muffy gets out. I really try to avoid this, as we have lots of birds around our yard, and Muff is quick as lightning, and moves on little silent feet.  But she is fast and can dart around your legs quicker than you can yell, “ Muffy, no!” And all my usual tricks to lure her in are to no avail.

Here, kitty, kitty, kitty......

 Usually shaking the dry cat food container will do it, or clicking my nails on a window or calling her name(ok, that almost never works)but none did it this morning…Muffy had birds on the brain. So I chase her around the yard for a while…she coyly lies on her back and rolls around but as soon as I get close….whish…she’s gone.

GET over slippery

She runs about 10 feet away and commences the seductive come-on sequence…repeat.  Finally I give up, because I have to go to work so I can afford to buy you nice cat food, you little….

Meow...let me in...and then clean the window...

I come down later, and sure enough, she’s at the back door, wailing as though I was the one who put her out in the cold(emotionally speaking). Please.

 And then… the worst of all, I find feathers in the yard. Muffy, what have you done?

Evidence of Muffy's perfidy....

No lifeless body, so I’m hoping …hoping hoping… this one escaped…. a few feathers lighter, but a wiser bird. Oh, Muffy…I can’t be mad at her, because it’s just what a cat does, you know? And you’re right, I have to be even more careful not to let her out…but, there it is.

Baby’s on Prozac….
July 20, 2010

She looks so sweet...doesn't she??

Well, it’s finally come to this…Baby Girl…alias Baby GagaB to the G…is on drugs. I went to a place called Professional Arts Pharmacy a week or so ago, to pick up a prescription of Prozac, for Baby.  It was recommended by my vet for a “little problem” we’ve been having for a while now….Baby relieving herself  in unexpected places(though after a while it’s expected and you look for it). She had several nooks of which she was very fond….a cabinet by the television, any bags left on the floor-danger zone(sorry about your messenger bag, lovely Jennifer)….our shredder at one time, though it did fall out of favor. And I tried everything…all the kitty feel good products of sprays and little scent balls that plug-in(and aren’t cheap let me tell you) that are supposed, to let Baby know that all is well. Not.

The first thing the vet asked me, was what I had already asked myself….what’s changed around the house(nothing)...has anything or anyone new been introduced(no)…is anything causing Baby stress(are you kidding? After I die I want to come back as Baby!)…in other words, she’s just acting out…cause unknown. But as we all know, this is a situation that causes a great deal of stress in the house, as you have to leap of top of a “situation” before it has a chance to cause permanent damage. Luckily we don’t have carpet(oh, the horror of that…I truly feel for those of you with carpet and this issue), and a stone floor is pretty easy to clean, but still.  Just, no.

Liquid Prozac for Baby Girl....

So finally(after a checkup that revealed no physical issues) the vet suggested trying Prozac, saying that it does help cats about  90% of the time(evidently there is quite a big club of us inappropriate-peeing-cat-owners…I know of  two others here at WBAL, whom you would know, but want to remain anonymous). And the people behind the counter at Professional Arts Pharmacy..they evidentally compound a lot of drugs including liquid Prozac for animals….assured me lots of cats take it. I know it takes weeks to take effect, whether in animals or humans, but I will say Baby hasn’t had an accident in almost a week….I’m ecstatic and I’m giving her much love and praise. and I think something else may have helped…when we went on vacation for 10 days we sent Baby to boarding school.  The  Kitty Castle(here’s a link) is run by some extremely nice women…cat people, obviously. Baby loved it, and I loved not worrying about what she was doing at home while I was gone, and she had no problems while there, and used only her litter box…I think the change of scene helped create a break in the bahavior. Maybe Baby Gaga needed a holiday too!

Kitty Castle...boarding school for Baby Girl...

Baby also now  has three litter boxes to choose from in the basement, with 3 different litters…. I know, I know.  The extra litter box(one more litter box than you have cats-)was a suggestion from animal behaviorist Mark Katz from Falls Road Animal Hospital, so maybe that is also helping. There is a great article I found that you might find helpful…here’s a link.

It’s the Weekend, People!!
June 11, 2010

Muffy "rubbing out" my new cat mint!

OK, this has to be a quickie folks…it’s been a busy busy day but I feel bad if I don’t say a little sumthin-sumthin on Friday, as it’s my fave day. This will make you laugh….a very nice neighbor of mine had brought over two plants from his garden that I had admired, and one of them was cat mint.

So this morning I dutifully put it in the ground, and watered it well. I walked by about 30 minutes later and Muffy had discovered it. And not just discovered…..while she often likes to roll in the dusty(thanks Muffy), she was simply delirious with pleasure over this addition to the garden. Now I know why it’s called cat mint…but I need a new plant.

This weekend I’m giving a little dinner in the garden in honor of this year being  the 50th anniversary of  To Kill a Mockingbird ….with pimento cheese, friend chicken, collard greens, grits and sweet tea, of course. One must have sweet tea in the south. We’ve had an assortment of animals named after characters in the book over the years…a dog named Scout, cats named Calpurnia, Atticus, and Jean Louise….oh, and a bird named Boo. I’ll take pictures and share next week…and it looks like it will be southern-hot this weekend.

say it with me now....oooohhmmmmmmmmmmm....

Thanks for all the birthday wishes…I do appreciate each one:)…..and now, this picture is your moment of zen…a little water feature I made out of a copper fire pit on a stand…just add rocks, a pump from the Depot, and water of course, and listen to the burbling water…..ahhhh, so nice, oui? Don’t throw rocks, play nice and come safe this weekend….’cause we miss you.

Adventures in Babysitting….Spencer and me
March 30, 2010

Spencer says....where's the food, lady?

This past weekend…ok, Saturday night, not the entire weekend….I had my first assignment of babysitting my grand-cat….my daughter’s beloved rescue kitty Spencer. This was a big deal…I did not want to screw up. And she is understandably more concerned about Spence these days, as she just learned he has feline CRF…chronic renal failure. The vet told her, “Spencer will not live a normal life span.” It was a real kick in the head….she just adopted him in January, totally fell in love, and now this. So he went home with a prescription diet which cost loads of money of course, and a $300 vet bill. Yeah.  So that’s that…though right now Spencer seems happy and feels good…she just hopes she will have him for perhaps a few more years if all goes well.

You see why she was loath to leave him, but I assured her I have cared for many cats in my day, and was totally up to the assignment…so I decided to stay in her apartment Saturday night…brought in some carry out for dinner, watched Kentucky get their kotuckus handed to them on a platter, turned off the lights from 8:30 -9:30 as per Earth Hour, petted Spencer a lot and just hung out. Her little abode is so cozy and has such a pretty view over Roland Park….though I found outright away why she has a sleep mask on her nightstand….it is bright in there at night with the general glow from all the lights out there. Sleep was….intermittant…Spencer likes to walk all over you a lot, and jump on and off the bed all night, and occasionally nuzzle your armpit for a pet. Maybe she’s used to it.

A pot of green tea, an almond croissant and it.

Sunday morning I went for a walk, and ended up in the Chocolatea  Cafe for a bite of breakfast…such a cute place.  Ordered a pot of decaf Sencha green tea, which comes from the region near Mt Fuji, an unbelieveably good almond croissant, and read a little  Washington Post someone had conveniently left behind.    also does hot breakfasts with eggs and waffles….I didn’t realize that until I saw someone else’s order go by. And while the website doesn’t say it’s open Sunday mornings, it is. Oh, and they do sell some fabulous looking chocolates!

Cute interior of Chocolatea...

Odds and ends department….I was excited to hear from Marshall Chapman, the singer I wrote about last week….she said, “I’m so glad you love my song “Leaving Loachapoka”!
Thanks for the mention.
Love on …

And regarding school lunches and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution program to bring some nutrition sanity to the lunchroom…Diana wrote, ” Hi Donna,
Hope you and others can take a moment to check out the blog by a teacher who wishes to remain anonymous regarding school lunches. What she is doing is right in line with Jamie Oliver. I hope this will get other people involved in doing the right thing for our children called Fed Up With School Lunch…here’s a link. 

Done Diana, done…and it is thought-provoking reading. Thanks.

And Betty wrote, “My friend and I were talking about your blog and she mentioned that you were “fond” of a fat free peanut butter. She said you thought it was great and I should find out b/c she knows I love peanut butter. Would be great to save calories!”

Actually Betty….that is Jennifer Franciotti who digs the  low fat(not fat free)peanut butter …I just texted her for the answer…she says it is called Better ‘n Peanut Butter….she gets it at  Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and  it has 2.5 grams of fat and 100 calories a serving. I asked if it was actually better than peanut butter….she replied, “Well, it’s better than nothing.” But she likes it….

Baby GaGa…..fu-fu-fu-furry face fu-fu furry face
February 17, 2010

Baby GaGa....refusing to even look at me....

You can see in the picture Baby Girl has adopted a certain disdain for me…fewer loving looks, a couple of actual growls when I try to comb her….she hasn’t started doing anything too terrible like peeing in a secret place, but still. And now, she demands to be called Baby GaGa…simply refuses to answer to anything else. Sing it with me now to the tune of Lady GaGa’s song….fu-fu-fu-furry face, fu-fu-furry face….underneath all that fur…nothing but ice.

Spencer...lapping up the good life...

What has happened? I believe she knows about Spencer, my daughter’s new rescue kitty…he’s so cute, so lovey, so well-behaved…could she have heard me talking about him? I know she suspects something…perhaps she has smelled him on me when I come home. The smell of a strange perfume, kitty lipstick on the collar…I’m quite sure she is suspicious, and has grown quite cold.

Cat yoga....hold that pose....

I’ve suggested kitty yoga to her….other cats swear by it and say it has helped them find their equilibrium in troubled times, but so far she won’t even try a downward dog, much less merudandasana! Actually I have trouble with that one too. What will placate baby? Perhaps some of that expensive cat food Spencer gets from his indulgent owner….you know, the 89 cents a tiny can stuff. I’ll get some today, and tell Baby, sorry, Baby GaGa…that she’s the only cat for me, that my time with Spencer meant nothing to me, please forgive me my  dalliance. I’ll let you know if it works.

I’m not the only one with a problem pet….and we’re looking for a place to lunch!!
September 23, 2009

Baby Girl pondering where to pee next...

Baby Girl pondering where to pee next...

Gentle blog readers….now is your chance to help out a fellow reader, and get a laugh at the same time. Remember the cat Dolce, who will only drink from the faucet, and who was, for a while at least,  on kitty prozac? Well, Dolce’s owner Katrina wanted to commiserate a little about cats who occasionally…ummmm… “act out”, like my Baby Girl…’s her email.

Natures Miracle...problem solver...

Nature's Miracle...problem solver...

Hi Donna, Hope all is well on your end! I saw your post on Baby Girl, and it made me think of my sweet little Dolce. She too had a peeing problem, and the Nature’s Miracle  stuff works like a charm. Dolce felt it was necessary to pee all over my fiancé’s new luggage right before we left for a trip. Thank you Dolce. 

Anyways….I am writing to see if you can help on a location for my bridesmaids luncheon. Our wedding day is 4 ½ weeks away, and I need a cute place to take the girls after our nail appointments. Any suggestions?”

I’d like to add that Dolce survived the incident ,thought I’m sure a few choice words may have been uttered. Oh, and Katrina says she’d like to keep the lunch downtown Baltimore, as the mani’s and pedi’s are in Canton. So…any ideas out there? Cute places for a girl’s lunch? (I’m not a big lunch person…I get a salad everyday and eat at my desk…I know, so dreary.) Right off the top of my head, maybe Helen’s Garden in Canton. It’s a cute place, and they have an interesting menu, even at lunch…an almond crusted tomato sandwich with portobello, chevre, pesto mayo and roasted red peppers sounds divine. And you probably couldn’t go wrong with Pazo…I’ve never been there for lunch, but it’s always so pretty and chic, and the food is very good. Or for something historic Baltimore(and I have never been there..only seen pictures and read about it)…the B & O Brasserie  in the new Hotel Monaco looks to be like a cool space. Gonna check it out next week…