Saturday, March 24, 2007

Brownie update #1

Well, we spent a long time at the vet today. Apparently we were the last appointment, so we had to wait while all the ones in front of us finished up. And poor Dr. Zook. I think she's wonderful, but when she finally got to see us (nearly an hour later than our scheduled time), she had a problem cat on her hands. They really do try to take a cat's blood pressure much like a human's, but when you've got a nervous cat who is angrily yowling, it's pretty difficult. I left the room since I was getting anxious and wondered if my anxiety was affecting Brownie. When I can back in they had a towel over her head (it helped to calm her and prevent biting). Dr. Zook took blood and ran a quick blood panel there at the office. For the thyroid test, the blood gets sent out (to UGA, I think). She wasn't sure about the hypertenstion. It may be part of the hyperthyroidism. Some of the other things they look at were high. Her kidney and liver were both a little high. Dr. Zook warned me that once we get the thyroid under control, I may have a cat with kidney failure. Anyway, I'll get a phone call confirming the hyperthyroidism on Wed, and she'll call in a prescription at the human pharmacy. Too bad insurance won't cover that. I am in fear of what that will cost. In the meantime Brownie has Chinese herbs to take twice a day and a liquid supplement with amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The herbs don't smell that great, but I think she'll take the supplement with no trouble since it seems to be meat flavored.

Yes, still no pics. I have to get ready for the class I'm teaching tomorrow. As of last Saturday, no one was signed up. I called yesterday to see if I'd had anyone in it yet. I have enough to teach it. It's called "Circs don't bite", and I'm teaching how to use circular needles and double pointed needles. It's a techniques class so people won't panic when they read that a project is worked in the round.

And that's all for now, folks!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Brief update

We had a fabulous time at the Helen Black Bear Resort. We stayed in cabin 14 if you want to go look on their website and check it out. What they don't show you in the pictures is that the bedroom has a dormer window in it which faces east. There is no way to block out the light, so if your bedroom at home is like ours (very dark since I bought blackout shades) you may find it a little bright for sleeping. Even so, we slept like logs after hitting the hot tub.

I did some online research today since Brownie's eye is no better than it was last week. What I found made me call the vet right away. I've thought she may have a hyperthyroid condition since she wants to eat all the time. It looks like I'm right about that. The dilated eye may be from hypertension. Great. I have a 17 1/2 year old partially deaf, slightly senile cat who now has high blood pressure and a too active thyroid. You know what that means. Huge vet bill. We did have a baseline blood panel done 2 years ago, so I have a minimum idea of what tomorrow will cost. I made sure to go pick up my paycheck today since I'm sure Loving Touch will get a very large piece of it. However, Brownie is one of my first cats, and I realized today just how much I would miss her. Not the 2 a.m. yowling, but seeing her reminds me of her prime when she would stay out all night and bring home dead baby rabbits. How she was the terror of the squirrels and chipmunks. Frankly I think squirrels can be tricky to catch, but sometimes she would bring home 3 or 4 in a week. I always thought she would be an amazing barn cat. And even now though she sleeps an awful lot, just let another kitty bring a bird into the house and you should see how she perks up. I'll let you know tomorrow how the visit went. I will admit she does have some other bothersome/disturbing behaviors, so I do dread tomorrow's vet visit for much more that just the cost. Long term medication, monthly blood panels, the thrill of stuffing an uncooperative cat into a carrier, and once or twice they've had to muzzle her! I don't think we're at the point where it will be her final vet visit, but I am worried. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Random thought and pictures

First of all, let's take a look at the wrap I'm working on. It's on the left, of course. On the right is a sock in Jitterbug by Colinette. Jitterbug is a great, springy yarn. I'm really enjoying knitting with it.

And now some yard work. This brown, mulched area has 18 Dianthus and 15 marigolds planted in it to provide some color near the street. I'm planning to put some taller perennials behind them, probably coneflowers and lilies, facing the street to provide some visual cover for the tomatoes going behind them.

I found when I was looking at the blog that if I doubleclicked on the photos, they were enlarged to fill the screen. This gave me a way to check out the details of the cables and actually see some of the plants.

In other news, Kudzu is reopening this upcoming week. Kudzu originally opened around the time I started Agnes Scott. It was a place I roamed on weekends, especially in the fall and winter. It was in a drafty old warehouse space with all sorts of antiques to be found. I loved going there. Anyway, last year they lost their lease and closed! I was upset about it as I watched a Progressive Auto Insurance center take over the lot where Kudzu had been bulldozed. No more lazy autumn afternoons spent perusing old glass for me. Well, Kudzu has found a new home just down the street. I've heard it will be more upscale. Honestly, I loved the rickety old drafty place, but I'm sure the new one will be ok. And my friend Daphne will have a booth in the new one. She's been working all weekend to get it set up in time for this week's grand opening. I suggest if you're near Decatur, stop in. The official opening day is Tuesday.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Annoying as usual

That was the comment I got from Keith when I called on the way home tonight.

"How's Brownie?" I asked.

"Annoying as usual," he said.

Her eye was dilated again this morning, but was back to normal in just a little bit. She is her usual self, eating everything on her plate and driving Pixel away to finish Pixel's food. Howling (she's going deaf) when she thinks she's being ignored. We must remember that cats think that they're being ignored in the seconds it takes to move your hand from the tail back to the top of the head to start the petting motion over again. Cats don't like waiting. The Egyptians must have trained them to expect instantaneous gratification.

In other news I decided except for one more slightly major yarn purchase that I'm going on a yarn diet. I've got enough in my stash to knit several adult sweaters and I don't know how many pairs of socks, but a lot of those too. There is a colorway of Silk Garden by Noro that I would like to purchase before they decide to discontinue it. After that, I really want to search for a new perfume. The ones I've been using are mostly single notes or very simple blends, but I find I long for something more complex and longer lasting than the light fruity ones I've been wearing. I tried some Prada right before the holidays and debated asking for it as a gift. I need to wear it again. I was undecided as to whether I really liked it or not.

Several of the other companies are re-releasing older formulas that thankfully they have not mucked around with. I am thinking specifically of Chanel and Dior. Back when I worked at Davison's in the cosmetics departments, I liked one of the other Chanels - either No. 19 or 22. At the time you could also get Diorissimo and some other Dior fragrances. One of them I remember as a very lovely floral. I see some quality time at Sephora in my near future. I am also aware that what I loved 20 years ago can seem less than enamoring now.

Now why would a yarn diet need to be enforced to buy perfume? Frankly, my tastes don't run towards CVS and Michael's. I want quality yarn and imported perfumes. Honestly, neither yarn or perfume is cheap, and a bottle of the good perfume could cost as much as most of the yarn for a sweater.

And let's not forget that I'm not ruling out some large vet bills. Even if Brownie doesn't need the vet, Sassy will be needing the annual visit to get her refill on heartworm preventative, and Monster will need her first shearing of the summer season. I've been wondering if Monster's fur would be long enough to spin. I've been hearing that cat fur is very, very warm, and Monster's fur may be as long as an angora rabbit's. I need a space where I can leave the spinning wheel out and get better at spinning.

That's all for tonight.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pondering mortality

I found myself thinking about death today, in regards to pets. Brownie is 17 1/2, and lately she has been showing her age. Like Indiana Jones, she's had a lot of miles. I remember several years ago I had asked about a cyst like object in her back. The vet felt it and thought it would go away. About a year after that I took her in since I thought she may have scratched her eye. It had been squinty and watery since sometime the day before. I asked them to take a look at the cyst again while she was there. They called me later that day to say they had removed a BB from her. Now, if you knew Brownie, and I know some of you have heard her yowling in the background when you call, you might understand why someone shot her with a BB gun. I don't condone that in the least, especially since I got a surgery bill out of that trip, but I can understand how some ignorant person might shoot this cat who is very noisy. She used to be great at climbing up things and not being able to get down. In fact, one time she was missing for three days. It was a windy October, and I couldn't hear anything but the rustle of wind for those days. Keith and I finally thought we heard something and followed the noise. We found her stuck on someone's roof. No one was home, and we got on their deck, moved a table and were able to reach her. They were probably so relieved when they got home that the shrieking cat was gone.

Anyway, she's had a lot of miles and quite probably some metal poisoning from the BB. She has gone from being the terror of rodents for several houses around to looking so feeble that it would seem she would fall over when you pet her. This morning one of her eyes was dilated and would not go back to normal. What I have learned in the past is if it's not dire (like major bleeding) to wait a little while instead of rushing to the vet. I have rushed to the vet many times in the past only to get those huge bills for nothing at all being wrong with the pet. So I told myself to keep an eye on her eye and give it a few hours. Then I went to take a nap. As I woke up, I noticed that Brownie had not come in once to yell at me. She hadn't left the kitchen. And that's when those thoughts started. Was she ok? Was she still alive? Would Keith get home in time for us to inter her if necessary, and if not, what would I do with her while I waited? Luckily, she was still alive, sleeping in "her" kitchen chair. It took a little longer for her to rouse (we think she's partially deaf and can't see as well anymore), but movement around the food dish moves her into action. Thank goodness I don't have to worry about it for awhile longer. I know it's coming every time I look at her, but even though she can be a pain in the tush, I'm glad that she's still with us.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunshine Daydream

It has been one of those gorgeous days that we relish when they are here. Low humidity, lots of sun, and a perfect temperature. It was so good that Scooter had to get into his favorite sleep spot and take a nap. Just know that sneaking up on a sleeping cat is not that easy. I took about 5 shots to get the one I liked.

Of course, seeing him sleeping there made me think of sunshine daydream. This sound familiar to any of you?

It was also a great day for yarn to pose in the sun. This is Malabrigo, color Hongo, which I think has been discontinued. I just wanted to let the project get a little view time. It's going to be a cabled stole. We have one in the store that is knit up in Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande. It is so yummy, but I'd been thinking about how it would look in Malabrigo worsted weight. Here it is, in progress. I didn't use a pattern, but I looked in Barbara Walkers Treasury and decided to go simple with a 6x8 cable.

The picture doesn't show the cables very well, does it. I'll give it another go later.

This past Thursday I went to the Sewing Expo. There is a lot of quilting stuff out there, and sooo much of it is saccharine sweet. Most of the expo is dedicated to quilting, but this year there were some knitting teachers. I could take a class on Thursday since I have that day off and knew I could be there, so I took Combination Knitting with Annie Modesitt. She was a very fun teacher. I learned about this technique and gave it a try. I can see how it could change how one knits very dramatically. I'm not using it for the cable stole, but I'll definitely try it out on a stockinette project. She did teach us how to do cables without a cable needle, but I'm not too slow using one. I thought I had a time limit on the above stole, so I needed to be able to work confidently and quickly on it. Turns out I don't have the time limit, but now that I'm started, I'll finish it up the old way.

Excuse all the links, but I just figured out how to add them, not to mention moving the pictures around. I'll include some of the yardwork I'm planning to do tomorrow. Keith is going to Home Depot tonight to purchase some dirt. I may have mentioned we're raising the areas we plan to plant. Right now it looks like this. All that brown area is a thin layer of mulch. I'll dump some dirt right on top of it and after I've planted mulch again.
More later.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Wal-Mart misadventure...

or why not to use the self checkout.

Self checkouts and I don't exactly get along. I watched the Twilight Zone and think about the episode The Thing with Machines whenever I get irritated with electronic equipment. After all, who can forget the electric razor sliding down the stairs like a cobra?

It seems that sometimes self checkouts work just fine, but I've also had instances where the item I specifically stopped for is not in the system, yada yada yada. So today I decided to give it a go. My last few experiences with them had been uneventful. And let's face it, it's pretty much a non-event, just an annoyance at the delay of something that is supposed to speed up your checking out. My first 3 or 4 items were fine, but suddenly it acted like it hadn't scanned one of them. I hit the star sticker after I scanned it like I was supposed to, but still nothing. Then it acts like I want to check out, and it won't go back to the still shopping screen. I hit the star again, and apparently this time it scans my item. I look at the totals, and it scanned the durn thing twice. It won't, of course, let me remove it. I have to get a Wal-mart cashier to do that. The blinking red light goes on, and I wait for someone to come remove it. Item cancelled, I continue. I'm ready to pay, and now it wants approval again from the cashier. I go on and do the debit card while I'm waiting and waiting for the gal to show up. She finally shows, the computer lets me finish, and I load up the cart and leave. I'm pulling out of the parking lot when I remember I had opted for $20 cash back, which I had left after the long wait for a human to come push another button or two. There's no point in going back. Some other Wal-Mart customer just got lucky.

Honestly, I'm about 10% irritated with myself while the other 90% thinks it's funny. Sure, there goes my spending money, but there were people there for whom that $20 will make a big difference in their lives. I'll just have to put coffee on my debit card instead of paying cash until I get to a teller in the next day or two.

As I end here for now, I will definitely be thinking of machines. I'll have to work on my self service checkout vibe. Otherwise, my hairdryer may be gunning for me later, and I've gotten used to being able to have straighter hair when I want.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Quick Trapping Update

I found out where "Red", the cat I caught on Mon night, lives. He is supposed to live 2 houses down from me. I found this out when I saw Rosa talking to him as she was walking her dog. Red was still hanging around my house. I told Rosa about accidently trapping him. She said he's been missing for about 10 days! I know he hasn't been missing. He's been hanging out with the cat family I've been feeding. According to Elizabeth at LAP, he's a well cared for senior citizen. He's also an only cat in a household with a cocker spaniel and toddler. No wonder he's left all that to hang around on a deck with other cats, lounging in the sun and eating delicious kitten chow.

Also about the cats, Brenda, whose deck they live under, asked yesterday what was I feeding them. Now I may not have mentioned this, but when I first noticed the kittens and asked Brenda about them, she had been feeding them bits of human food and giving them water. When I first took this on, I had plans of finding homes for the kittens. This didn't work as the person who was the most likely candidate quit returning my phone calls and emails. That's what started me on this TNR. Anyway, Brenda plans to take over feeding the cats. Honestly, as I've mentioned before, I think she likes to watch them, but was reluctant to take on the responsibility of them. Now that 2 have been spayed & had their rabies shots, she's more willing to take them on. I'm just so thrilled to that I found LAP, and it's not costing me $100 to have the work & vacs done.

No trapping for a couple of days due to various conflicting schedules. I have the traps until next Thurs., so I'm trapping again Sun. & Mon., depending on how cooperative the cats are.

See, no knitting this time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Mistaken Identity

I have to say that Lifeline Animal Project is pretty wonderful. The cat I trapped yesterday, well, it turned out to be someones pet. LAP called me immediately to let me know that it had already been neutered, and he was happily eating a can of Fancy Feast! Of course I ran back, picked him up and released him almost as soon as I opened the van door!

I must admit that I had my doubts about this cat. I was looking to trap 2 specific cats, and this one didn't look much like either one. However, yesterday I convinced myself that it must be one of the ones I wanted, or even it wasn't, it would need to be neutered. This morning I knew for sure that it wasn't the dad cat since he was over here rolling in the catnip and scrapping with Grey.

Keith is such a doubting Thomas too. When I catch a cat, the first thing he asks is what if it's someones pet? This is a difficulty for me. How can I tell if a cat is a pet if there is no collar or tag? I'm not about to pick up and check a strange cat for surgery scars. And none of my cats, who spend most of their life sleeping on my bed, sofa or kitchen table, have collars or tags since they are rarely outside. Their life as naked cats is ending. True, they barely wander at all anymore, but what if they did? Petsmart, here I come.

Anyway, I'll be back to trapping this afternoon. I still have 2 feral cats (that I know of) to go, and I'd like to get them altered before kitten season is in full swing. 2 cats are easier to catch than another whole litter of them.

Monday, March 5, 2007

1 down, 1 to go

Thank goodness for all the information available and a little more experience. I set out the first trap at 2:00 p.m., and I now have the dadcat. Tomorrow he gets neutering and his rabies shot. I can then release him back to his home on Wed. I have to keep him 24 hours after surgery, so I may keep him until Thursday morning. Right now he is not happy about being in the trap, but that's not stopping him from chowing down on the food I put in with him. He's got food and water until midnight, when I have to remove it so he'll be ready for surgery tomorrow.

Keep your fingers crossed I can catch the cunning kitten.

More later...

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Trapper Eve

It's a new month, and time to rent traps again for TNR. Keith and I woke up around 3:45 am on Saturday morning. We lay in bed, wondering why we were both up when we heard it again. The yowl of a horny male cat on the prowl. We listened to him as he probably sprayed the tires of our cars, rolled around in the catnip for a bit, and wandered off. Poor guy, I've spayed his girlfriend. Now, it's time to get him. Tomorrow I'll go rent a couple of traps and see if I can get him and the cunning kitten who has eluded capture. This time I'll take pictures.

Last night I finished the arms of my Summer Tweed sweater, Basil. All I have left to do is the "finishing". This is where I sew all the pieces together, then wash the sweater. I am somewhat reluctant to do this as I'm planning to take a finishing class at the end of next month. On the other hand, I really want to wear this sweater. I really love the silk/cotton blend. While I think about it, the sweater pieces are resting in the yarn closet. I'm starting to find the yarn closet really scary. I've reached the point now where I don't/can't remember what all is in there, so I see yarn and think, oh yeah, what about that project.

I've pulled out the yarn for a project I bought last May, but was not ready to tackle yet. It is a cable/lace tank top from the spring/summer 06 Family Circle Easy Knitting. I've got the experience now with some basic lace and a lot of cables. I will start that top in a day or two. In this past week I've finished Keith's first sock (see yesterday's post), ripped out a sock that didn't fit, started a new sock for me, finished the sleeves on the sweater, grafted a scarf for a customer and taught the cables class at work. I decided to take a quick break and do something very easy and use up some of the "what was I thinking?" yarn in my stash. I have one ball of sport weight Saucy cotton yarn, so I decided to knock out a stoma cover. I'm a little fuzzy on this. I thought it was for tracheotomy patients, but I think it's for laryngectomy patients. Regardless, they are covers for people who have had holes cut into their throats for medical reasons. The Atlanta Knitting Guild collects them for Grady Hospital. All a stoma cover is is a small bit of knitting, worn sort of like a bib, to cover the hole. One thing I do like is being able to use a hobby that usually brings me relaxation to do some good for the world. AKG has a lot of knitting charity projects. Last year I did 7 chemo caps for the store where I work. I've not done any yet this year, but the year is early. What is amazing is how many people feel that way too. We have women come in with 20-30 chemo caps that they've knitted or crocheted. That's so wonderful, and every little bit helps - whether it is one cap or 20. We get an incredible amount of single caps too. It's a great way to use up that last ball of yarn or try a new one out.

Sorry to go on and on about knitting.

The other major thing I'm about to tackle besides cat trapping is prepping the garden beds. I've been lazy the past couple of years, and my puny tomato plants proved that. I'm thinking of installing some tall perennials near the street and extending my veggie garden. We're planning to raise the area instead of digging in this lovely red clay soil. That means a trip to Home Depot to pick up some soil. In my old garden bed area, I just have to add some amendments and dig them in. (I get to learn about soil testing.) Keith wants to use the rototiller, but it's a small enough area that I think we can tackle it with garden forks. That would also replace going to the gym since turning a 12'x12' area with forks while adding compost and amendments would work both arms and legs. This would also be a workout that can be accompanied by a cold beer or cider. I have to work out what we're planting this year. Probably some of the staples we always have good luck with - tomatoes, beans, cucumbers.

Poor Keith. He's still in bed. Yesterday he spent 3 hours meeting with a prospective client. Then he went to work, and I had told him that he had dinner duty. I knew I would most likely be later than normal, not to mention tired, and sometimes he heads home early on Saturdays. You have to remember that a lot of weeks he works 6 days, so he's allowed to have a short Saturday. One thing about giving Keith dinner duty is that at least 50% of the time that means pizza. Last weekend he cooked up a pork loin and made a huge salad, so the times it's not pizza it's usually quite healthy. Last night ended up being jalapeno poppers, salad and pizza. hmmm. See, we do need to turn that garden bed with forks to work off dinner!

Sassy's barking to come back in. She thinks if she's outside for more that 15 minutes we've forgotten her, so she starts woofing. A gentle reminder that she's not an outside dog, in spite of incredibly lovely weather, but should instead be sleeping on her pillow where she can keep an ear open for the sound of cat food in the kitchen. After all, she won't let anyone, cat or human, near her dish, but the cat dishes are hers too. The vet has gently suggested that we feed her green beans for lowfat fiber and to fill her up along with smaller portions of dogfood since she looks somewhat like a seal. You know it's bad when your neighbor, who has known her since she was a pup, says "Sassy, you're looking a bit fat." Actually she's lost some weight due to green beans, smaller portions, and going to walks/runs with Keith. That said, she wants in, and who am I to disobey the whims of a pet?

Faithfully serving the domestic pet overlords...

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Sock time

Hi family & friends,

Above is a sock modeled by Keith. It's custom fitted to his foot. He picked out the colors and asked for the different colored heel, toe and cuff. I'll have to cast on for the next one pretty soon.
More later.