Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

April, 2015:

Election Day 2015

Today is Election Day in Anguilla. Wooo Hooo.

In the past 15 years I’ve only voted in three U.S. Presidential elections and in those by absentee ballot from a land far away. In fact, it’s hard to remember, but I think California encouraged mail-in voting even before I left the state. That means that it has possibly been decades since I had the very personal, tactile experience of walking into a physical polling place and placing my mark on an actual ballot.

Thanks to my recently conferred citizenship status, I can now vote here in Anguilla. Elections here only happen every 5 years so it was just luck that I would get the opportunity so soon. These are exciting times, indeed.

Unfortunately, I made my first mistake at 5A this morning. I was awake. I could have gotten up and been at the polling place when it opened at 6A. But I fell prey to my small island mentality. I thought to myself, how long of a line could there ever be? There aren’t that many people here, and there’s only one office to fill. Only one box to check. No complicated referendums to ponder. So I had my coffee and answered some emails and drove over at 7:45A. Wow. Cars and people everywhere. Given the number of people standing in the street talking, I thought “hmm, maybe it’s a social thing. Maybe all these people are done voting and just hanging out.” But as I drove slowly past the school and looked in to the buildings, I saw a long line of folks. So I just kept on driving and came back home while doing some math in my head.

OK, so my district is one of the larger ones with about 1700 voters. The polls are open for 13 hours. If spaced out evenly, that’s 130 voters per hour all day long. Huh. About two every minute. Huh. And then I remembered reading the ‘how to vote’ section of the elections.ai website. It refers repeatedly to The Presiding Officer. Not to ‘an official’ or ‘a polling agent’ or anything that implies that there may be more than one. Huh. Uh oh, Scooby Doo.

I made my second attempt at 10:15A. Turns out that they break up the alphabet into three different lines. Luckily I was aware that the powers that be INSISTED that my legal name in Anguilla be my maiden name followed by my married name, no hyphen. Otherwise I would have stood in the N-Z line. As it was, there were about 30 people ahead of me in my line. Unluckily, it turns out that one person enters the room at a time and completes the entire process (state name, mark roll, get instructions, walk behind booth, mark ballot, ink finger, drop ballot in box, exit). So about 65 minutes later I was done. Could have been worse, no doubt. Apparently people were camped out at 5A this morning waiting for the polls to open (dodged a bullet there).

In the States I would have a little sticker declaring “I Voted”. Here I have the time-honored inked finger to guarantee that I do not vote twice.


Time to celebrate both democracy in action and getting to be a part of it!

However, in Anguilla in accordance with section 69 (1) of the Elections Act, on Election Day no intoxicating liquor shall be sold, offered for sale, or given away at any time between the opening and closing of the polls (6am to 7pm) at an licenced premises in Anguilla….liable on summary conviction to a fine of $4,000 or to imprisonment for six (6) months.

That’s only at licenced premises, though, so I can still drink at home while I wait for the live election results to start showing up on line….inked fingers crossed for a positive outcome.



Gas Could Break the $5.00 Mark!

Ok, before you get all panicked and jump in your car to run down to your nearest gas station to fill up your SUV, keep reading.

I don’t mean that the price of gas might go ABOVE $5.00.

I mean that the price of gas in Anguilla might actually drop BELOW $5.00.

I was out running errands this morning and here’s what I found:

cheap cheap cheap


Ok, so this could be a bit confusing. I see that now.  This is a gas pump on a British island that for all I know dispenses Imperial gallons based on a display panel written in Spanish that could conceivably be showing the precio / galon in Eastern Caribbean dollars. You will have to trust me, then, that the price is actually in U.S. dollars.

So yes, even in this day and age, with oil prices being what they are, I am still paying $5.164 (coz $5.16 would be too little) US for a gallon of gas. However, we were paying $6.98 something for FOREVER. And then last fall it fell down to maybe $5.64 something. And here we are now perched expectantly on the cusp of paying less than $5.00 / galon.

Heck I drove the entire length of island just to celebrate. That’s about 12 miles, but on principle I drove it really slowly!



To Life

In my last post I alluded to some 18 yards of upholstery fabric. That has now taken on a new life. And I’ll get you a photo but first let me run a different tangent.

Many, many, many, many, many years ago (OK, 30) I met Michael when I was a brand new, baby vet, just graduated and looking for my first job. He said that he couldn’t hire me but that I could live with him if I wanted; and the rest, as they say, is history. I didn’t want to seem like a total pushover, though. So after we packed up my things and drove all the way across country to California I did hold out for a total of 10 days sleeping on a college friend’s couch before moving into Michael’s apartment. So I wasn’t actually living with him when I went off to my first day as a bona fide medical professional. That morning, when I walked out to my car I found a note on the windshield. It said, “Happy First Day Saving Lives”. (Awwww.)

Now, I am going to share a closely guarded professional secret with you. Promise you won’t tell. When I was a student in veterinary school, someone told us that medicine is a pretty good odds racket. Animals tend to get better…..and get this….in spite of us. The statistic that was quoted was somewhere in the range of 80-85% of our patients get better even if we do the wrong thing. That’s just the way Mother Nature works. On the other hand, sadly somewhere around 5% will not – even if I am the brilliant veterinary equivalent of Linus Pauling or Michael DeBakey.

That means that I truly make a difference in only about 10-15% of the cases I see. All cynicism aside, the take home message here was not to comfort us in the knowledge that we could just rest on our laurels and count on the odds to get us through but rather that because we could not know which of the cases were which that we had to give every single one of them our very best in order to guarantee that we were taking every opportunity and making every effort to impact the ones that we could. And I have never forgotten that advice not even after these long 30 intervening years. Do I always do everything absolutely right? Not likely. But I sure as hell do try.

And it hasn’t surprised me at all that people out here on this little rock will go to the lengths that they will in order to provide health and well-being for their pets. It surprised me more when the one person told me that I needed to remember where I was practicing. I corrected him immediately. My job, the only way I know how to do it, is to tell my clients what I understand and believe to be the very best course of action to take for their pets’ problems. IF that is not an option, THEN my job is to work with them to find an option that is suitable and to support them in their decisions. But my job is not to offer less from the start.

Might this particular dog or that particular cat get better with a different approach? You betcha. In fact it probably will. I already told you that. But if it doesn’t, if it’s one of the ones that doesn’t, and I haven’t offered my best, then I’m the one that has to live with that. That’s why I end up researching everything from new anti-seborrheal products to cancer treatments, having CTScans run, and battling to bring horribly uncontrolled, hyperthyroid cats back from the edge of the abyss. And that’s why a couple of weeks ago I found myself on a client’s back porch resuscitating an incredibly weak, one pound kitten. The poor little thing desperately wanted to eat but could hardly lift her head. She passed out and her heart stopped beating at least three times. Was she in the 80% or the 15%? I’ll never know. But I do know she wasn’t in the 5% because I vaccinated her on Saturday.

Thanks to her family for literally nursing her back to life. Her name is Ashes but as is the way here in Anguilla, I gave her a nickname. To me she will always be the Phoenix. And I am glad that I could be there with/for her. Because of all of the things “thatIdoallday”, it really is nice to be able to practice medicine again.

So as promised here are the new slipcovers. (all the green and the bar stools are the new bits.) Aren’t they pretty?


But here’s little Ashes, the Phoenix. She’s pretty darn cute, too.


Happy Gazillionth Day Saving Lives.