Saturday, November 23, 2013

Critter progress

I came home from my job to find Captain and Baxter napping together (about a foot from one another) on the loveseat. :-) Clearly, Captain has learned not to apply the Paw of Doom for no reason, and Baxter does not view Captain merely as something fun to chase.

Baxter the Smiley SO wants to play with his kitty brothers. I thought he and Stanley were going to have a play session right after I got home, but Stanley is still not sure what to make of the dog's attention. So it wound up as a session of I Sniff Your Nose.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Baxter's Big Day

Baxter spent most of the day at PAWS, getting the Big Snip. I am happy to report that Baxter is HOME. :-) And he is sound asleep on my lap. He ate his food (1/2 the normal meal, per the vet's instructions) and has been given his pain med. He and I both take Tramadol, at least for the next 7-10 days. The neuter went well, and he is now microchipped.

He was NOT a Happy Camper while he was at PAWS, which I expected. He's very attached to his Mom, to put it mildly.

When I went to pick him up, I had a little surprise. I observed that another doggie in the waiting room looked a LOT like Baxter, and that's when I learned it was Pinky, Baxter's brother. OMG, they weren't kidding when they said he looks just like Baxter, only smaller! He looks like Baxter, but shrunk down to Mini-size (about half Baxter's size, in other words). I was disappointed to see that the doggies didn't recognize one another -- Baxter was too out-of-it from the anesthesia to pay attention, and Pinky didn't recognize Baxter because he's full of unfamiliar scents. Pinky's original foster was transferring him to a new foster mama, because she has four cats who weren't pleased at the addition of a pint-sized dog to the fold. She loved Pinky, though, and cried a bit at the transfer. :-( If not for the kitties' reaction, she'd have gladly adopted him. The NEW foster mama looked pretty enthused to be bringing him home, though, so here's hoping that this turns into a "failed foster" (an adoption)! :-)

Where Baxter is concerned, the Tramadol is not the only thing he's going to need for 7-10 days. They sent us home with a Cone of Shame. There are two problems with that. First, this freakin' thing is HUGE. Second, he had no trouble dragging it off. This resulted in my making a beeline to the PetSmart and picking up an inflatable e-collar, which he is leaving alone. I hope he keeps right on leaving it alone once the rest of the anesthesia wears off.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Well, that was quick! The first half-century

I am scheduling this post for the actual birthdate, but I'm writing it a few days after the fact because my weekend was so busy. I celebrated my 50th birthday on Friday with a big dinner at a nearby restaurant with my parents and a whole lot of friends. God bless Mark, he did a great job of hosting the dinner. We were a party of 13 in all.

Joe J. had a shirt made for me that reads "ARF" in the manual alphabet on one side, and 50 on the back. :) We are both insane and we bark at one another, and when we aren't actually barking out loud, I will spell "arf" into his hand (he's deaf-blind and communicates via tactile sign language). I think the shirt is hilarious and I can't wait to wear it.

Another classic gift I got was the tiara I'd been looking at and drooling over when Joe M., John, and I were at the RenFaire several weeks ago. :-) I came this-close to declaring the entire weekend My Birthday and wearing it the rest of the weekend. :-) But any time I plan to be Queen for a Day, that tiara is going on.

We had an unexpected visit from The Other Donna. While I was happy to see her, I was not too happy as to the underlying reason for her visit. Unfortunately, she was down here to attend the funeral of a longtime friend. :-( He was only 50 and died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm. Sigh. It was not lost on me that while I was celebrating a 50th birthday, 50 years was all he got to live, period. So you won't see ME griping over this landmark. It's a privilege, not a burden, to keep adding to the total.

So anyway, they say that the first half-century is the hardest. We'll see about that. Bring on the next half-century!

Monday, November 04, 2013

We had a great walk! Let me tell you about it! Yip! Whine!

Baxter was all kinds of happy after we took a long walk around the neighborhood. He came in and wanted to tell the cats all about it. He went and whined and yipped at Stanley, who Ignored him. Then he stood under the window where Captain was sitting, and yipped. More Ignoring ensued. Finally, he decided he was tuckered out after all that activity, and he's snoring on my lap. :-)

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Baxter vs. Captain and the Paw of Doom

Captain was lounging next to me on the sofa. Baxter, who had been wandering around the living room, decided it was time to come back to sit with Mom, and approached the sofa.

When he stood on his hind legs to look at the kitty, the sudden appearance of his head right in front of Captain's face, like a little doggy Jack-in-the-box, did not go unnoticed. Captain applied the Paw of Doom two or three times in rapid succession -- no claws, just the bopping paw. The dog withdrew, then jumped up on the sofa at the far end of the couch, well away from bopping Paws of Doom.

Now Baxter had a dilemma. The cat was stretched out on the sofa, right between him and me, and he wanted to sit with me. What to do? A tentative "Rrrff!" in Captain's direction had no measurable effect, and the dog stood there, perplexed.

Finally, I coached him a little, but he got the idea. He leaped up to the sofa back, and in that way, walked the length of the sofa to me without coming near the cat or the Paw of Doom. I hoisted him down and bingo. He's now sitting with me. And the cat is Ignoring him. :)

Intruder! Intruder! Oh, wait, it's just Dad!

We just had ourselves a little bark-fest in the living room. Mark was kneeling by the drum table at the front window, updating the lamp's timer for EST. Baxter woke from napping beside me, did not immediately recognize Mark as the person who was kneeling on the floor, and had a barking fit. He didn't stop until Mark came over and let Baxter sniff his hand. Baxter dropped his ears and stopped barking the moment he realized it was just Dad after all.

Captain remained curled up at the other end of the couch throughout all this, though he was giving the dog a "You've gone totally bananas" look. So I'm thinking that Captain is not particularly unnerved by the dog. :-)

As one of my FB friends puts it, "Intruder! Intruder! Oh, wait, it's just Dad." Yeah, that about sums it up. LOL.

So, what is a Chihuahua/Corgi mix called?

I have been googling a bit for photos of Chihuahua/Corgi mix dogs, just to see if my instincts regarding Baxter's heritage are correct. Yes, some of the pictures I have found have resembled him quite a lot.

I have also discovered that there are multiple names for this particular cross-breed. My personal favorite is Chorgi. I have also seen Corchi, and the most popular one appears to be Chigi. I think I'll stick with Chorgi, lol.

I am not happy that the designer craze has taken over the dog-breeding world. However, I say that if you really want a designer dog, make a beeline for your nearest shelter or rescue, and find one there. Not only did I get Baxter from a rescue, but Karla got a Puggle (pug/beagle) from a local shelter, as well. Adopt, don't shop.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baxter is making progress

Watching Baxter start to gain confidence that he is really HOME, is like watching a curtain slowly draw back from his Real Personality. When we go on walks, his tail is normally up and waving now. And these last two times, instead of being reluctant to leave the house, he's been speedily walking and sniffing everything in sight. :-)

He follows me around like a little shadow now. Wherever I go, he goes. When I sit on the sofa or loveseat, He hops up next to me. We had a moment tonight when I was watching the Phantoms online, and he was clearly bored of sitting on the sofa... and yet he wouldn't leave the sofa while I was sitting there.

He is such a great little dog, and very well-mannered. Someone clearly spent a lot of effort training him properly.

Oh, and tonight, we had the first couple of encounters with Captain. He and Captain sniffed noses right next to me, and Captain was OK with that. Later, Captain was facing the other way and Baxter sniffed his rump. He studiously Ignored this, though I could tell he wasn't particularly enamored of the canine greeting. Stanley responds similarly -- he is OK with sniffing noses, but he'd rather not have similar attentions paid to his opposite end.

Critters. :-) Endless entertainment.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Piecing together Baxter's story

I finally had the chance to read over the paperwork with Baxter's history, or what little there is of it.

Seems "Baxter" was a name assigned to him at PAWS, which explains why he occasionally seems to take a moment to respond to it.

He was brought in as a stray to ACCT, the city shelter, on 10/7. I am taking a guess that he was found with the other dog that PAWS said was his brother, because of the names the two dogs have. PAWS told me that Baxter's brother was named Pinky. Well, Baxter's intake paperwork at ACCT calls him "Brain". As in, "Pinky and the Brain". I am extrapolating some details, but my guess is that PAWS left Pinky's name the same, but changed Baxter's name, when they pulled the two of them out of the city shelter.

So I don't exactly know WHAT name my little guy grew up with. But he recognizes Baxter well enough that I'll keep that name. Not only has he been stressed enough already in the past 22 days, without having to learn a new name, I now THINK of him as "Baxter". So Baxter he will remain.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spoiled already. That was fast. :-)

Is there, like, a world speed record for spoiling a critter?

We have discovered that Baxter only wants to eat his dog food if there is a slice of turkey lunchmeat shredded up and mixed in with it. This was determined on Friday.

So, we dutifully mixed in a slice of turkey lunchmeat on Saturday's and Sunday's dog food. This morning, I thought, "Let's see if he'll eat less of the turkey." I only shredded up HALF a slice of turkey.

Baxter ate half the food, then came over to give me Sad Eyes. He persisted in Not Eating, so I broke down and shredded the other half of the turkey slice into the remaining dog food.

Me: "Is this more to His Highness's liking?"


His breakfast is now fully eaten, and he is parked next to me on the sofa with his head on my lap. He has barely been here four days, and we are already catering to his whims. Pampered pup. :)

Oh, and His Royal Smileyness has discovered the joys of rolling in the grass. :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Finally, some HAPPY news to report :)

On October 19, PAWS, the rescue from which I got Mini, had their annual big fundraiser, the Mutt Strut. I walked it in honor of Mini's memory. I asked Mark to go, too, but he had made arrangements to start cleaning out his mom's house with his sister. I warned him that he was leaving me unattended among a bunch of adoptable PAWS dogs, and that I wasn't responsible for the consequences. :-)

After visiting all the vendor booths and walking the course, I stopped by the tent where the adoptable dogs were returning. I loved them all, of course. And then I saw this little smiley face.

I was trying to get a picture of his widdle smile, but the photo doesn't really do it justice. His name is Baxter, he is a 6-year-old Chihuahua mix, and every time someone paid him attention or petted him, he had a happy little doggy smile on his face. I was hooked. I filled out the adoption application on the spot. Then came the agonizing wait to be approved.

When I got home, I called Mark and let him know that I had, in fact, met a dog that I wanted to adopt. He wasn't looking to add a dog to the family, especially not so soon after Mini, but he agreed to let it happen.

PAWS called me on Tuesday and we made an appointment for Thursday, October 24, for me to see Baxter. At least, that's how they phrased it. So I was more than a little surprised that they were about to let me take Baxter home on the spot. If I'd known, I'd have had a carrier ready for him. I would have had a leash, too; fortunately, PAWS has leashes and collars coming out their ears, so they were able to give me one. As it was, he wanted to sit in my lap while I was driving home. Oh, dear, lol. See, this is WHY I insist on using a carrier to transport pets in cars. I kept shifting him to the side when he started climbing in my lap. Eventually, he parked himself between the two front seats and rested his head on my leg, and that's how we drove the rest of the way home. :-)

Captain and Stanley were wary, when they saw a new dog come in the door, but not hostile. This is the two of them taking a look at the dog (out of the frame and on a leash). Captain (orange) has got his Kitty Glare firmly in place. Baxter has respected The Glare, and has not tried to interact with Captain yet at all. This is good, because I'm 99.999% sure that The Glare is a big bluff and Captain is a big wimp. Baxter, however, doesn't have to know that. ;-)

Baxter did sniff noses with Stanley, at which time I discovered what PAWS meant when they said he was "rude" with cats during his cat-compatibility test. Baxter sniffed a few times, then got over-exuberant and shoved his whole face into Stanley's face. Stanley responded by doling out one bop upside the dog's head, and Baxter immediately backed up. The next time he went to sniff Stanley, a few hours later, he stood somewhat back and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d his neck way forward to reach the cat. He wasn't going to risk getting too close again, lol! They've sniffed noses a few more times in the ensuing three days, and there have been no more bops, nor any need for bops.

Since Thursday, we have been reaching landmarks gradually. I have been able to leave Baxter and one/both cats unattended on the sofa when I have had to use the Smallest Room in the House. No growls, hisses, nor hostilities have ensued; they have all ignored one another. Yesterday, Baxter went on a walk with his tail horizontal, instead of drooping down; tonight, that tail was up and waving like a banner. SomeDoggy is getting happier. I also got the first full-fledged belly display a little while ago.

And of course, there are the little smiles that made me melt into a puddle of mush in the first place. We are starting to see those, more and more. And that makes ME smile.

So as you can see, we finally have got GOOD things to report, after having multiple losses in a row (Mark's mom and Mini on 9/22, and three weeks later, Mark's aunt, who was my MIL's older sister). No one can replace those loved ones. But happy events can help turn our attention toward LIFE instead of bereavement. So Baxter, in his own little way, is providing some much-needed therapy. We're all good for each other. He gets a new home and lots of doting to make up for the loss of his brother (who was surrendered along with him but was adopted by someone else), and he makes us smile. Winning. And I will gladly take those WINs any way we can get them.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tough Morning, Improved Commute, and Government

Monday morning was the first "normal" day that we had since my mother-in-law and Mini passed away. All last week, Mark was off from work and we were doing funeral-related things, so our regular schedule was entirely disrupted.

But this morning, when I got up and Mark was at work, it was the first time that I had to confront the changes to my normal routine. Ordinarily, I'd have started my day by getting up, walking the dog, feeding the dog and the cats, and then eating breakfast. As such, I was really feeling Mini's absence, and I greatly missed the fact that I won't be walking and feeding her anymore. My little Munchkin Pup. I really miss her a lot.

Later on Monday, I drove to Chalfont for a sign language lesson. I am tutoring a blind couple, one of whom is also suffering from hearing loss, in sign language. As a result, I rediscovered the fact that the *fastest* route suggested by the GPS is not necessarily also the *shortest* route. The GPS's suggested route involves using the Blue Route, the PA Turnpike, and Rt. 309. It's about 38 miles to go that way. But because we were using Rt. 309 on Friday, for an entirely different reason (driving from the cemetery to the funeral luncheon), it occurred to me that I might be able to make an adjustment to my Chalfont commute. On my way home, I decided to use Rt. 309 to get all the way into the city, eliminating the use of the PA Turnpike and Blue Route entirely. Well, what do you know? Using Rt. 309 all the way into Philly cut 7 miles off the distance. It did take about 8 minutes longer, but I ran into a little bit of slow traffic on the way home. I would be willing to bet that if I hadn't encountered that one stretch of congested road, the time differential would've been negligible or even come out in favor of the Rt. 309-oriented commute.

So basically, using Rt. 309 means a shorter distance, no Turnpike tolls, no dreadful traffic patterns at the Turnpike entrance and exit, and NO excruciating off-ramp going from the Turnpike to the Blue Route. That has got to be the worst freaking exit ramp I have ever encountered in my life, and I deal with PennDOT's handiwork on a regular freaking basis. Yeah, methinks Rt. 309 and I are about to become very good friends, lol.

Finally, here is what I have to say about the governmental shutdown:
"But I fear that in every assembly members will obtain an influence by noise rather than sense, by meanness rather than greatness, and by ignorance and not learning, by contracted hearts and not large souls. There is one thing, that must be attempted and most sacredly observed, or we are all undone. There must be decency and respect and veneration introduced for persons of every rank, or we are undone. In a popular government, this is our only way.” -- John Adams

Sunday, September 29, 2013

It has been a really dreadful week

It's taken me a week to work up enough energy to write this post. Even then, I still feel so blindsided by life that I am copying, pasting, and editing something that I wrote to one of the mailing lists a few days ago.

The long and short of it is that a week ago today, both my mother-in-law and my dog passed away. We had our hearts broken twice in the space of one hour. Here is the timeline.

On Friday, 9/20, we got a call from my sister-in-law (my husband Mark's sister). My mother-in-law's health, which previously had been pretty stable, was suddenly failing acutely. Hospice, which is a service dedicated to end-of-life care, had been consulted and a hospital bed was being delivered to my MIL's house that afternoon. This all started happening so abruptly, everyone was blindsided, even my sister-in-law who lived nearby and saw her daily.

During the course of the same week, my little elderly Chihuahua, Mini, started showing signs of a reduced appetite. But until Friday, every time she seemed uninterested in food, I found something different that she WOULD eat.

Friday night was the time that I couldn't get Mini to eat anything but some nutrient gel from a feeding syringe. So it was time to see the vet.

We visited my mother-in-law on Friday night, and she was lucid enough to know everyone who visited. If we spoke to her, her responses were clear and made perfect sense. But her breathing was terribly labored and she was incredibly weak. It was clear something major was wrong.

On Saturday, 9/21, I took Mini to the vet. He diagnosed an infection and gave me meds, plus an even more potent nutrient gel to feed her. Then we went to see my mother-in-law; she slept through most of the visit thanks to the meds she was on. They'd had to provide morphine as she was getting extremely agitated and increasingly confused, trying to get out of bed even though she hasn't been able to stand unassisted in about seven years. She couldn't get comfortable and she was really having a hard time, so the meds were a necessity, but sadly that meant we couldn't really interact with her anymore.

On Sunday morning, I got up to find that my dog had taken an abrupt downturn. But I was able to get food and medicine into her. We went to Mass. Upon coming home, we saw that Mini was even worse, so we headed to the University of Pennsylvania emergency vet clinic.

At about 2:05 PM I was in a consultation room discussing Mini's condition with the vet, wile Mark remained in the waiting room. She said an emergency bloodwork showed Mini was in acute renal failure, and there was no real hope for Mini to have any more quality of life. As this news was being broken to me, Mark appeared in the doorway, and I gestured for him to come in. He said "Mom died." His sister had just called; my mother-in-law had just passed away at 2 PM. So of course we hugged as I reacted to this sad news.

Then I gave the vet a quick explanation of the fact that we actually had TWO family crises simultaneously: my mother-in-law's failing health and the dog's extreme sickness. I swear, I thought the vet was going to burst into tears right in front of me. Here she was, most likely doing the hardest part of her job (telling a pet owner their beloved pet has no hope), and suddenly she was witnessing the pet owners getting a massive amount of OTHER bad news right at the same time. God bless that nice vet -- it was clear that she cares a lot about both the pets and the people who come through the emergency clinic.

But the fact remained that there were no medical answers for what Mini was going through. So we made the merciful decision to have her put to sleep. Mark and I were with her right through till the end.

But between 2 and 3 PM on 9.22, the world lost my mother-in-law, a sweet, kind, loving woman, someone whose devout faith made her en even NICER person. And the world also lost a tiny little bundle of pure affection. I don't think I know which end is "up" right now.

Mark made me smile, though, when he said, "I bet Mini waited until Mom went first, so she would have a lap to sit in." I just bet she did. My mother-in-law loved people and animals, and Mini took her calling as a lap dog VERY seriously.

Anyway, do please send some prayers my family's way. We could all use it.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

A Brace for Everything, and Everything in its Brace

I have amassed quite the collection of medical supplies over the years. Knee injuries have inspired me to procure some knee braces (with open patella, thank you very much) in the event that either the knee is hurting, or I've aggravated it severely in some way. I've had a couple of near-redislocations over the years since the first, disastrous injury; when that happens, the knee is sore as sin for several days thereafter. Anyway, I have a couple of kinds of knee brace as a result of this.

Then there are the carpal tunnel symptoms. Result: two wrist braces for when THAT acts up.

I had some serious repetitive-stress injury pain in my elbow about three years ago. I STILL don't know what was causing it, but in the weeks before it finally cleared up, an elbow brace proved to be helpful.

I *still* have serious pain some days in my thumb area (the region between the wrist and the first thumb joint, in both hands. Hello, thumb splints. That seems to help.

Finally, I have been experiencing chronic ankle pain in the past few months. It's actually a part of the reason that I went back to the gym, as I was concerned that the extra poundage was the source of the ankle pain. Well, some of that poundage is gone, and all the walking I've been doing has surely strengthened the muscles somewhat by now. But both ankles do have an extensive injury history, so I've come to the conclusion that this soreness might require a bit more effort to resolve than merely losing weight (which I'll continue to do anyway). So now I have invested in two neoprene ankle braces. I'll wear THOSE on the treadmill and on painful days, and see if that helps matters any. Can't hurt, might help.

But the long and short of it is, I have more freaking braces in this house than the nearby pharmacy. Good grief, lol.

NASA TV, Dark Tower, and Teaching

Tech rocks. I was just able to watch NASA's latest launch online with their app. The rocket might have been visible in the SE sky, but light pollution like we have in the city leaves me thinking that we'd have been hard-pressed to see it, at best. So I figured that I *really* wanted to see the launch, heading to the Internet was my best bet.

In other news, I have finally gotten around to reading Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. I started the fourth book last night. I am kicking myself for coming so late to the party, starting the series ten years after SK completed writing it. On the other hand, I was very glad indeed to be able to *instantly* start reading the fourth book, upon reaching the stupendous cliffhanger that ended the third book. Fans who read the third book at the time of its publication, and then had to wait in suspense for the next installment, must have been tearing their collective hair out. I had no such issues, as all I needed to do was tap a couple of Nook menus. Bingo! Instant book. (Which I was then up into the wee hours reading, because I was DARNED if I was going to be able to sleep until I saw how the story played out.)

Still more news: I am a sign language teacher again! My previous student, a deaf-blind lady, had to put her lessons on hold because of other things going on in her life. But I recently became aware that a local couple (a deaf-blind lady and her hearing blind husband) were about to lose their sign language teacher because of things going on in HIS life. I offered to pick up the lessons where he left off, so now I have a pair of students. It's a heck of a long drive, but I don't mind. I think this can be a benefit to all three of us. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A reality program I actually LIKE

I actually found a reality show I like: I ran across Extreme Weight Loss a few weeks ago. No backbiting or drama -- just a person working hard to take back their health. I feel like if THEY can accomplish the things that THEY are doing, then I can certainly reach MY goal.

I even caught myself tonight using an expression that someone used on the show recently. A local guy from Voorhess, NJ was doing a stress test, to determine if he was going to even be able to take part in the program, and he said, "It doesn't matter WHAT they set this machine on, because I'm gonna KILL this thing." Tonight, when I started getting a little muscle tighness while on the treadmill, I said the same thing: "I'm gonna KILL this thing!" and I completed the session.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stepping it up

I finally resumed going to the gym in June. It was the day after Father's Day when I decided that enough was enough, and it was time to return to the healthy habits that were successful for me a few years ago. The excess pounds need to go, ASAP.

Today, after successfully keeping up a workout regimen 4-5 days a week, I have decided that it's time to go one better. The gym where I go has two levels of membership; currently, I have the lower-level membership. It lets me use their equipment any time I want, but that's it. Tomorrow, I am going to upgrade so I can have access to their trainers. It's not like I plan to train for the Olympics or anything, but my intent is to get fit, and it's not going to happen by sitting on my rump.

Good-freaking-bye to excess pounds. Out they go!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My life as a Nook owner.

I am the happy owner of a first-generation Nook ereader device. I opted to purchase a Nook, back when they first came out, because I already owned a few dozen books from, a site that was owned by Barnes and Noble and whose books could be read on the Nook.

In order to read my content on the Nook, I had to transfer my books onto a micro-SD card and install that into the Nook. Done, and done. I can now read said books on my first-generation Nook.

In recent weeks, however, I have had some issues with the charging port of the Nook. It's long past its warranty date, and I saw a back-to-school sale on the Nook SimpleTouch with Glowlight. So I thought I'd better procure a backup device, and I went for it.

My new device arrived today. It's lovely and portable, and of course all my B&N books came right up when I logged into my B&N account. However, I discovered a few things that will ensure that I keep my first-gen device as well.

1. First-gen devices have a daily free article, as well as a link to a free weekly ebook on Free Fridays. There is no evidence that the newer device has access to that content. (It's probably available on the Nook tablet, but I already have an iPad so I didn't spring for the tablet.) And even though the newer device has a microSD slot, it isn't able to read my content off the card I already have.

So I will now proceed to make use of the features on BOTH devices: the touchscreen, integrated light, greater portability and reliable charge port on the newer Nook, and the free daily/weekly content and the accessibility on my first-gen Nook (whose third-party cover has a built-in light). I shall call this a WIN on both counts.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The latest

It's been a relatively quiet few weeks. We did get some concerning news concerning my mom's eyes -- she was diagnosed with the early stages of an eye issue for which there really isn't a treatment at this time. However, God willing, it will be a stable condition or at least will progress at a snail's pace. She's had eye issues her whole life. She doesn't need this now. :(

Fortunately, we have a couple of relatives who are also dealing with said eye issue. One, we knew about. The other reached out with advice after seeing me post something on Facebook about "a relative" (not specifying that it was my mom). We hadn't even known he had the same diagnosis, so that was a surprise. It was also good to hear from him. This family is small enough already -- we don't need it to get smaller by a lack of communication between people.

Starting on the day after Father's Day, I've resumed the regimen of exercise and calorie counting that I had success with three years ago. Meanwhile, three of my friends joined Weight Watchers not long after that, so now the four of us are acting as a mutual admiration society. I think we ALL have the capacity to knock off the unwanted pounds, plus improve various bloodwork numbers, as needed. I'll have to make sure and report progress as it happens. :-)

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Red-Tailed Hawks are here!

Well, South Philly officially has red-tailed hawks. I confirmed this today while I was out walking the dog.

The first thing I noticed was an unfamiliar rasping songbird call. It sounded like the combination of "reeee, reeee" and running one's fingers along the teeth of a comb. I can ID a lot of birdcalls, but this one was new to me so it caught my attention. Then I realized there were NO OTHER birdcalls nearby. At all. That's VERY uncharacteristic for that intersection. The closest normal birdcalls I could hear seemed to be coming from at least half a block to a block away.

So I looked up and saw a hawk on a lightpole. I had to zoom the iPhone camera to get a recognizable image, so sorry about visual noise.

Shortly after I took the first images, I saw the bird that had been making the rasping call. An irate mockingbird started buzzing the hawk. I think they have a nest in one of the nearby trees, as it alternated between rasping in the trees and flying at the hawk.

When I turned my attention away from this interaction, and toward picking up after the dog, the hawk flew away. I didn't see what direction it took. But I will be on the alert from now on for absence of songbird calls (except for hostile calls), since that was my first clue that something was going on. If I notice that again, I'm going to start looking around to see if a hawk is around.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We had a grand anniversary

Mark and I spent a lovely (and HOT) day in DC for our anniversary. We visited two I'd the Smithsonian museums. We started with the National Museum of Natural History, where we saw the INCREDIBLE gem and mineral display. OMG. I could spend a month in there. Some highlights:

The Hope Diamond

The world's largest flawless quartz sphere -- P. S. Peek-a-boo! :-)

Just WOW

Then we walked to the National Museum of American History, to see their coin collection, which is a hobby of Mark's. unfortunately, only a fraction of the collection is on display, because the building is being renovated. But we did see their most renowned items -- they picked and chose the top attractions for people to see. 

They also had a display of the First Ladies' gowns, and various china patterns used in the White House. So we did get to see SOME interesting things there. 

Now, after having gotten plenty of exercise walking around DC, we're headed back. Yep. It was a great day. :-)


Taking the Metro to the Smithsonian!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

[Insert Unprintabilities Here]


Son of a @(#*$&@#(*$&.... there is a scratch on my new car... I am so freaking aggravated. At least it's not in a hugely prominent place, but still... It's the first owie on a new car, so painful wound is painful.

[End Rant]

I fibbed, I'm not done ranting yet. ARRRRRRRRGH

OK, I've vented. At least I've vented as much as is possible at this hour of the night. No sense pitching a full-blown tantrum over something that's not a medical emergency. It's just OOOOOOO how bleeping annoying!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Happy 10th Bloggerversary!

While most people celebrate May 5 as Cinco de Mayo, I have a completely different reason for marking this date. It's the anniversary of my blog.

And today's even more special, as I have been blogging for ten years, as of today. Wow -- time sure does fly!

Even though I have started recounting some of my tales on social media, I still do make time to post on here at times.

It's been relatively quiet in the past few weeks, though, so there hasn't been a lot to recount.

Well, there was ONE big thing. Mini had to have some teeth extracted. I hated to put a 13-year-old dog under anesthesia, but there really was no alternative. She came through the process well, and is now inhaling canned food like it's going out of style. I had to give her kibble to Karla and Al for their dog, though, as the vet said not to give her crunchies anymore.

There is one issue that's concerning me some, though. Her back legs occasionally act up now. If you ever see the leg-kicking reaction when you find the dog's "tickle spot" on the belly, that's what Mini looks like she's doing. It tends to be worse in the morning than later in the day.

However, her zest for life is still exactly the same, as is her appetite. And she's still the boss of the much-larger cats, lol. So I think that whatever comes up, as long as she's got that "I love life" attitude, can be gotten through one way or another. Fortunately, she's pocket-sized, so carrying her on the front steps if her legs act up is not an issue. And a lot of the time, she can navigate the steps just fine, though I give her a little "help" with the leash just in case.

Other than that, let's see, what's been up since my most recent post? Well, I'm still teaching sign language to a deaf-blind friend whose hearing is deteriorating. I think I'm going to have TWO students soon, as her friend has bought the book we're using (The Joy of Signing). That's the only sign book she could find from the National Library Service for the Blind that is available in braille, so she borrowed it. Fortunately, it's a book that's readily available in print, so we are both able to use a version of the same book.

Oh, and I have gone stark raving bananas buying Kia-related items to match the car. You know you've crossed the border into obsession territory when you order a mug SPECIFICALLY because it's the same blue as the car.

So for the time being, that's all the news that's fit to print. Happy 10th Bloggerversary to me! :-)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


The novacaine from the root canal has worn off.

The good news is the dentist was great and I didn't feel any pain at all during the procedure. But they warned me that there'd be soreness once the anesthetic wore off, and they weren't kidding.

Come on, NSAIDs. Do your stuff. Not looking forward to the next few days if this level of discomfort keeps up for any length of time.

I just keep reminding myself that there are a lot worse things in the world to deal with. But tooth pain still sux.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam

I see some headlines on my cell phone, indicating that the white smoke has been released. That was quick. I wonder who it was. I suppose we won't be waiting much longer to find out.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Over the weekend

Over the weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of wishing one of my oldest friends a happy birthday.

That is a pleasurable moment under any circumstances, but it was all the more so this time because next month will mark 25 years since he nearly died.

Then he spent weeks in the hospital, partly in ICU and partly in a regular room, before being able to come home. Nor was he out of the woods even then. The condition with which he was diagnosed had, at the time, an average survival rate of 22 months from time of diagnosis. So we were all too aware that we were still at risk of burying a beloved friend way too young. The first half of that year was a blur... I distinctly remember having random crying fits on most days from April until at least June. Probably more like "sometime during the summer" was when the crying fits became spaced farther and farther apart.

Well, our friend is still here. Not everyone responded to the meds available back then, but our friend did. And now there are even more effective treatments available.

Happy birthday, "Mavi". We're all thankful to God you're still with us.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thank you, Grape; Welcome, Skye

Now that I've finally uploaded some photos from my camera to my computer, I can make this post.
Thank you, Grape the Neon, for your many years of faithful service to me and to others, 1997-2013.

And welcome, Skye the Kia Rio. I am looking forward to teaming up with you.

I have ranted at least once on this blog that I am frustrated with the lack of color variety in cars these days. Everything seems to be black, white, and various shades of silver/grey. The most colorless place imaginable these days is a parking lot full of cars. I compare that to my childhood memories of a time when cars could be found in every shade under the sun. There were dark, light, pastel, and metallic versions of every color. I miss that, Now, the most common non-greyscale color seems to be red. Other than that, good luck finding a car with an actual color except once in a while.

Therefore, when I had the option of choosing a version of this car in black, silver, or blue, I went straight for the only one whose hue was a shade that can be found in the rainbow.
So I'm pleased to be brightening up the world a little bit, as well as having a vehicle that I'm not constantly afraid might need to be towed at any moment. The world has become a better place for me this week. :-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I invested in a light tent and lights, so I can either A) take better photos of my jewelry or B) enlist the help of my sister-in-law, an accomplished photographer, in taking better photos of my jewelry.

What a light tent does is help diffuse the light on an item, so that it's shining evenly instead of harshly on the item being photographed. This really helps the item look better and helps the colors appear more true in the photograph, both important factors when one is trying to present one's items for sale via an online photograph.

Some of the images on my site came out nice. Others need better lighting. Period. Well, now I'll be able to do that.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

We had a productive day around here

Mark spent the day studying his rump off for his certification test. He was at it from before I got up, and he kept at it right through until dinnertime. He uses the dining room table, which makes me doubly glad that I cleared my crafting materials out of the dining room and into the studio. I, meanwhile, did a heavy-duty sorting of beads today, plus some serious jump ring construction. Oh, my hands. My fingers are going into rebellion now, lol. Naproxen, here I come.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Prepping for possible consignment sales

I have sorted all my existing jewelry, separating out the ones that either fit Valentine's Day or fit the Pantone Spring 2013 Color Wheel. To my pleasant surprise, the vast majority of what I've made already fits the Spring Color Wheel profile.

I guess the jewelry supply vendors are following the Color Wheel, too, and are selling supplies that they know will be popular in the upcoming months.

There are a couple of older pieces that I will re-do, however, now that my style has evolved somewhat. I can see a different way to highlight the attributes of the stones, and I think it would be even more favorable to make the pieces in the way I'm imagining them now.

When that's accomplished, I will head out to the Avenue, to the two places where I discussed selling items on consignment (or, if I can negotiate it, selling the pieces to them outright).

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Christmas Tree is down

Well, another year, another end to the Christmas season. We de-decorated the tree, and only discovered ONE stray ornament on the floor that the cats stole. Everything else was present and accounted for.

I spent the majority of the afternoon making earrings. The pulled hamstring was bothering me, so I thought that a treadmill session could wait one more day.

Now I've earned a visit to Facebook.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Captain and Mini -- Laughing My Head Off

I tempted fate when Captain and Mini, who've had little border wars sometimes, both walked within arm's length of me at the same time. I scooped them both up (well, I scooped tiny Mini up and I scooped up big Captain's front half, leaving his hindquarters sitting on the floor) and cuddled them both together and gave them both smooches at once.

Mini licked Captain. As soon as I put them both back on the floor, Captain ran a few steps away and vigorously groomed the spot on his flank where the dog had licked his fur. "EWWWW.... DOG COOTIES".

I got the Flat-Eared Glare from Captain when I burst out laughing.

One HUGE chore has been accomplished

It took me three days, but I did it. Every last pair of earrings and every single necklace is now attached to a jewelry display card and, in the case of the necklaces, inserted into a resealable clear bag. Next up: sorting what I have so that I can ID the items I have that match up with the Pantone Spring 2013 color wheel. This month, I intend to show my wares to two specific places, one of which already offered to take my spring things on consignment, and the other one who will decide whether to take my things on consignment or not. I also am in discussion with someone for a custom-made necklace for a birthday gift. Progress is good.

Mini and Stanley need an interpreter

Mini and Stanley like one another, but they don't understand one another. Mini doesn't speak Cat, and Stanley doesn't speak Dog. It's funny to watch them try to interact.

When Stanley wants to play with the dog, he will gently bop her nose. Mini wags her tiny tail at Stanley. He bops her head. Mini wags her tiny tail. Another bop. More wagging. Stanley is utterly perplexed by the concept of tails waving in the air in a friendly fashion. Cats who lash their tail from side to side are doing to as a warning, not as a greeting.

Stanley just can't seem to figure out how to get Mini to join in playing with him. When he bops Captain, Captain understand that it's time to play Chase My Brother or Wrestle My Brother. That's when we see two stripey critters careering about the house and up and down the stairs. Mini doesn't do chasing and wrestling. She does cuddling and licking. She appears to think that gentle bops on the head are some form of cat greeting, hence the wagging tail in response.

Crazy critters. :-)

Friday, January 04, 2013

Doctor's visit

I got my bloodwork results today. Some numbers improved slightly, the ones that were in the normal range last time are still in the normal range, and one number deteriorated. My BP was great but my weight shifted in the wrong direction.

So we're attacking the issue several ways. One, with the new year, comes a new dedication to counting calories and daily treadmill time. Two, I got one med tweaked in the hopes of getting my cholesterol the rest of the way back into line. It was soooo close to being in the normal range -- how aggravating that it didn't improve that last few points, grrrrrr. Oh, well. NOW it's gonna improve, 'cause I'm going to be eating better PLUS taking a stronger med. Goodbye, last few extra points of cholesterol. You're going away. and not a moment too soon.

Oh, and I got clearance to start donating blood to the Red Cross again, yay! :-) So today had some positives in it.

So freaking help me, every freaking number on that bloodwork is going to be in the right range by the time I'm done working on it. Funky numbers are no longer to be tolerated.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New ideas -- easier said than done

The jewelry-supply sites where I purchase my materials all send out newsletters. Today, I got a newsletter from one of them offering a class in making jewelry with steel wire. There is a HUGE gem show in Tucson every year, where there are also many classes related to gems and jewelry-making; that's where this class is being offered.

Well, I can't afford a trip to Tucson any time soon, but just learning that there is such a thing as steel wire to work with piqued my interest. That might be an interesting addition to what I make.

Ha. Good luck FINDING steel wire to buy. So far, that project has been a bit of a bust. Even the sites that list it in their catalog are flagging it as being out of stock. I'll have to keep looking. Maybe the holiday rush obliterated the stock of a lot of sites.