Monthly Archives: April, 2011

Dieting Dogs, Learning Curves, Life in General

This week has certainly been a challenge on a lot of levels.  First, putting dogs on diets is trying for all concerned.  It is true that Poosa is bordering on the obese and her ribs have disappeared and she weighs 37 lbs and really should weigh more like 28, and she is not quite 6 years old and I want to have her around for lots of years, so getting her trimmed down would be a good thing.  And Chauncey, my other Cocker Spaniel, is a bit chunky at his 42 lbs. so it wouldn’t hurt him either.  Now that Dr. Nell comes to the house for Sasha I can get her to look at everyone and so we are on a mission.  Nell showed me exactly how much food each dog should have now, and I have two bowls as well, so gone are the days of just doing dry food and leaving it out all the time.  


Now, Poosa gets 1/2 cup of the dry twice a day and I also add 1/2 can of organic pumpkin to that as that is supposed to fill her up with very few calories.  Chauncey gets the same 1/2 can of pumpkin but he gets it added to 1 cup of dry.  And we now do this twice a day and otherwise, no food, although I can add a can of green beans as a snack in the afternoon if they seem desperate.  The pathetic starved looks I’m getting don’t help at all, and then to add to the situation, when I went back to my bedroom last night to check to see whether by any chance Sasha had eaten, I discovered that the cat food bowls up on my dresser were absolutely clean!  Didn’t take an Einstein to figure out that Poosa had used the cat furniture to climb up on my dresser and eat the cat food! I know Poosa loves to climb, but I really thought the top of my dresser was safe!  Ok, now we had to rearrange things so that Sasha, who isn’t all that perky at the moment, can get to the dresser without high jumps but Poosa can’t.  Having dogs on diets is definitely adding a level of complexity to my life that I didn’t really need, but there it is.


Then, Sasha seems to be having a hard time with the chemo this round even though the dosage was lowered.  Nell stopped by yesterday to give her an anti-nausea injection but I haven’t noticed any big change so far.  If Sasha holds true to the pattern from the first round, she should start perking up in the next day or two, I hope.  Needless to say, we are all keeping a close eye on her.  I’ve also had to learn more about feeding cats, so we are going to do canned cat food (much to Laoise and Thackeray’s delight, and I hope one day, Sasha’s as well), in addition to the dry, but the canned food can’t be out more than 12 hours and needs to have bowls cleaned to avoid food poisoning.  And on it goes.


I am finding that even though I’m reasonably intelligent, I am being confronted with learning curves at just about every point in my life, from how to feed my pets to how to work appliances, etc.  There are days when I just can’t deal with learning one more thing and so I wait until I can cope again.  My new washer and dryer are very lovely and in fact I did manage to master them yesterday, 5 days after they were installed, and I like them a lot, but I just couldn’t even think about reading the instructions until I absolutely had to.  The oven worked fine last night to do my Sunshine Burger, but I don’t know if I have it on the right setting or not as I’ve never had a convection oven before and so I’m not familiar with all its ins and outs, but my dinner was fine and I guess that is the main thing.  I got an electric can opener (red and very nice) since I’m now opening so many cans each day and even that nearly defeated me and that should be quite simple.  I did get it to work when I realized that the cutting mechanism wasn’t properly positioned, and it was minor, but just another example of learning curves coming at me from every angle.  I have a new touch pad instead of a mouse (well, in fairness to the system I could use both) on the theory that the touchpad will help alleviate my wrist pain, but yep, another learning curve.  The touch pad, which is a bigger version of what is found on laptops, is made to work with my wireless keyboard and it actually has much more intuitive and expanded functionality, but again a learning curve added to a coordination curve.


And I am dealing also with minor health issues, but nagging and unhelpful.  This is apparently the worst allergy season on record and that has caused my ear and sinus infections but the usual allergy medications don’t work for me or are ones I can’t take because of my thyroid, which is also out of whack, and that certainly doesn’t help.  So, on top of everything else I haven’t been feeling very well, adding to my general malaise.


There has been very little construction here for nearly a month, which has both an upside and a downside.  I’ve had a lot less to deal with and fewer people in and out, which is the good part, but there are still lots of little things to be done and while the end may be in sight it is still a long ways down the road.  This past week did see more electrical work completed so that my septic tank is now properly wired but the outside box for the yard lights which was also supposed to have come into the house at the same time as the septic wiring, hasn’t yet, and I don’t know why.  And I don’t have an outside light by my bedroom door so now that weather is slightly better so that Chauncey likes to explore his yard for hours in the evening, I don’t have a light to help me see from my bed when he returns.  Minor little thing but aggravating, but all my outside lights are at the painter’s and only the front door got a cheap substitute so we could pass the electrical inspection.  Hopefully all the outside lights will be regularized soon.


Last week also saw more plumbing with lots of digging to get the water pipe up to the size required for my sprinkler system and I also now have a main water shut-off in the house, something I have wanted since I moved here nearly 5 years ago, so that is all good.  I can actually see an end to the plumbing aspect of all this because I think all that is left on that front is testing the aforementioned sprinkler system, but I’m not sure about that.  There could be other things as well.


And Leigh is back on Monday, according to the current plan, so the pace will hopefully pick up so that I get baseboards so I can have my books and dvds back from storage and I get my new front door and maybe the glass cabinet doors for my kitchen.  I’m also looking forward to having actual closets with shelves and doors, and to getting my garage cleaned and organized, but that is a lot more complex than it sounds and I know it won’t all happen overnight.  And eventually all our cat walks will be re-installed and the cats will certainly appreciate that.


Anyway, that’s the update on this end.  It will all sort eventually and if some things actually reach completion that will help.  The school year is winding down so I only have another 7 weeks I think it is of Study Zone and fewer for Student Link.  Our weather is sort of warming up–yesterday was beautiful and I could even have the windows open, and I’ve put away my fleece on the theory that it is not right to be wearing fleece at the end of April, so I sure hope the trend continues.  I hope this finds you well and happy wherever you are this day, and I’ll write more later as the saga continues.

Sasha, Existence, Depression, Life, Etc.

Another week has gone by.  The biggest event was Sasha’s second chemo treatment which went much more easily than the first one.  Fair Isle Animal Clinic gave us a room for the morning and I was able to hold Sasha all the time except for the two actual treatments when her oncologist held her and she burrowed her head into the oncologist’s shoulder and was ok.  Sasha therefore got lots of loving and I know that made a difference.  Her anti-nausea medicine is now in a form where I just have to rub it in her ear and that is much more pleasant for us both and much more effective as well, so she is eating just fine so far.  Next chemo will be May 6th, as long has her blood work is good.  We are now half way with just two more treatments to go.


No real construction this week so nothing to report there.  Leigh will be back from visiting her mom on Tuesday and then things will move forward again.  But the electrical inspection did happen this past Tuesday and of course passed just fine.


My son, Eric, ran a 50 mile endurance run yesterday, the Zane Grey 50 in AZ, and he did very well.  It was apparently hotter than last year and so more of a challenge, but he tweeted that he ran a smart race and that should help him in his training for his next 100 mile race, the Bighorn in mid-June.


Otherwise, life continues.  I’m fighting with depression yet again–sort of a constant with me, I know.  Can’t decide what to do with the day, and wondering about the big existential questions.  As I tweeted this morning: does existence need to be justified?  If so, how?  If not, why?  But I suspect, as my therapist keeps reminding me, this too will sort and pass.  That’s this week’s update and I promise more news and photos and good cheer in the next post.  Hope life is treating you all very well indeed.

Spring Break and Other Oddments

Sasha is helping me quilt.

I haven’t posted in awhile I know but I have lots of pictures and things are progressing.  I now have bunches of cabinets in my kitchen and I also have a convection oven which I used for the first time last night to warm up my Tofu Scramble with mushrooms which I’d made the night before.  I’m not entirely clear on the racks and pans, so I think I need to read the book more (although it has very little info) or wait for Leigh to get back to help me as she is an actual cook, but I did have a lovely hot dinner and I liked the effect of the oven baking on the food.  It had a different texture.  Not sure how to describe it, but then I’m not a cook or at least not yet, but it was even better than it had been fresh the first night.  And as far as my kitchen and cooking go, I’m planning to make the carrot ginger soup I did ages ago again tonight now that I have a place for my Vitamix and I have a pantry with pull out drawers so I can find things, etc.

Great Room with Sasha and Thackeray

Meanwhile, on the construction front it has been a quieter week as Leigh, my fabulous contractor, is on vacation visiting her mother in Florida.  This coming week will be even quieter, I think.  But the plumbing for the rebuilding of my home is nearly complete.  There is just some water meter stuff outside to finish to be sure there is enough pressure for the fire sprinkler system.  But I now have a pump installed so there is hot water at all faucets right away instead of having to run tons of water waiting for it and that is very nice indeed!

Great Room with Sasha up high

The electrical is likewise coming along, although there is more of that to come.  I now have all my track lights up, and I have something called an “L-Pad” in my bedroom so that I can adjust the volume of the bedroom speakers separately from the living room and that is quite fantastic.  And all my outlets are functional which is a plus.  Gary, my electrician, will be here tomorrow fixing the panel cover and hopefully hanging the outside lights provided the painter is done with them as the electrical inspection is scheduled for Tuesday.  After that, there is still the matter of digging up my septic tank to get the pump and alarm for that properly wired and then there are some electrical anomalies which need correcting so it will be awhile longer on the electric, but it is chugging and the main thing from my perspective is that everything is functional!



Great Room with an island of cat furniture!

There is still, of course, a lot of finishing to happen with baseboards and framing windows and making shelves for closets and hanging closet doors, but that is something which can just happen at its own pace.  I have everything out of storage that I need.  Once a few pieces of baseboard are installed I can get my books and dvd’s back but we don’t want to fill those cases while they still have to be moved.  Otherwise, I pretty much have everything here and it is all settling in.  I discovered that the gorgeous enormous cabinet on my quilting counter is big enough to hold all my weaving yarn and that was a big discovery and really helped things to settle down nicely.


Speaking of weaving Charlotte, my loom, had a project on her (hand towels) when I had to send her off to storage last December and I worried about how that would affect the yarn on the loom, but there was no choice.  Well, Charlotte is a real trooper since she came back and I opened her up and it all looks just fine.  I haven’t yet done any actual weaving, but I’m hoping to get to that at least to try it out today or tomorrow.

One of the first quilts I’ve made in 4 months!
Poosa finally figured out how to get up on the counter!
The bench has since been moved!
Kitchen area of Great Room

I have been quilting, catching up on the quilts for island newborns and young siblings, and I made three quilts last weekend and hope I may manage 2 or 3 this weekend also.  I have the tops for two dinosaur quilts for a newborn and his two year old brother nearly done and the backs are washed and ready to go, so once I get showered and moving for the day, that is on the agenda.  Then maybe tomorrow and Tuesday I’ll get the other one on the docket done, for a little girl born last week.  I’ll be caught up then although there are another 4 which will be needed very quickly, a soon to be born with an older sister and brother, and a first daughter soon to be born, but so far, I haven’t heard of their arrivals so I’m not yet overdue on them.

Sasha in all her glory!

Sasha got a week’s reprieve on her second chemo.  Her vet, Dr. Nell, came out on Wednesday and took blood and urine but the oncologist had already decided to wait a week.  Her lab results were good, and we will now do it again this Wednesday with the plan of having her second chemo on Friday.  Meanwhile, I’m having some trouble with her peeing on my bed and there isn’t a clear answer about that, whether it is old age incontinence, or a behavioral thing with Thackeray and Laoise harassing her, but needless to say it is troubling and annoying.  Last night I went to go to bed only to find it wet.  I stripped it all down and remade it.  I’ve gotten, thanks to Amazon.com, another waterproof mattress cover so I can now just swap out and I’ve also ordered a waterproof pad to put on top of things so if she has an accident in the night it might not soak through to my bedding.  And last night I brought a litter box back into my bedroom.  Sasha likes my room the best now, since our incarceration earlier, and so this way she has a box close by and doesn’t have to brave an excursion into the Great Room if Thackeray is on the prowl.  As someone who lives in fear and doesn’t like to go out my door even, I can sympathize with Sasha’s need for security and having a litter box in my bedroom is a small price to pay for her security.  I will now see if this makes a difference.  Right now she is sleeping on my bed, naturally right next to the waterproof pad rather than on it (although she was on it all night) and so I should be able to monitor this to discover whether it is incontinence or behavioral.

Great Room showing quilting areas



So that’s the update from this end.  When Dr. Nell was out here she also checked on Thackeray’s eye, which is all healed up, and Chauncey’s ears (still need drops), and then she looked at Poosa who needs drops in her right ear and then Dr. Nell took blood from Poosa to see if there was a reason for her overweight status (there isn’t–her blood work came back fine), so now I have the unenviable task of trying to limit food for Poosa.  Gads that is a challenge, but we shall see if we are up to it as she is not quite 6 and so loosing some weight so we could at least find ribs would be a healthy thing.

Kitchen with new range hood, oven, pantry

This week will see school and hence tutoring resuming so I’m going to be busier than and my Spring Break ended up being a break only for about 3 days, but still it was a break and I will hope the resuming of tutoring goes well.  My antibiotics finished up this morning and the left ear still isn’t what it ought to be, but I’ll be seeing my doctor on Thursday and meanwhile it has at least gotten to being only annoying instead of painful.  I am trying to put together a submission of some of my haiku for an anthology for women haiku poets and that submission is due by next Friday so I need to get on top of that.  Our weather continues cold and rainy but there were some lovely sun breaks and Friday especially saw lots of sun.  Hoping this finds you all well and happy and on the path you have chosen.  Until the next post that’s it for now.

Bell Curves and Normalcy

Bell Curves:  Is that how normalcy is defined and is being normal all it is cracked up to be.  Now with Sasha’s cancer I am confronted again and again with the fact that my world view is vastly different from the majority and in fact even than most minority views.  There are, of course, other vegetarians and vegans.  There are lots of animal rights activists.  And there are plenty of folks, even if they aren’t in the majority, who hold all life sacred.


But I don’t know of any others, and I’m sure I just haven’t found them because I can’t be the only one, who would say that humans have no more (nor less) right to consideration than any other species, that the lowly slug (not sure why I pick on them except that I personally love slugs and snails and I just read a book about snails) has just as much right to life and consideration as I do.  As a result, I think that Sasha’s cancer should be treated just the same way I would treat my own should I develop it.  I expect that doctors would react to her as they would react to me, answering concerns, etc.


However, that isn’t how the world operates.  No matter how sympathetic and wonderful vets may be, the system is set up so that there aren’t emergency pagers for a particular vet, but rather for a clinic, which is lovely, but not what Sasha and I both need.  Pets are treated differently from people.  Humans are considered to be more important than or better than other species.  If I am sick I can call my doctor’s office and get a message to her one way or another depending on whether it is during office hours or not, and that message will get to her in a timely fashion even when she is on vacation.  But with Sasha, the clinic would do no more than leave Sasha’s vet a message and I still haven’t gotten a call back.  Sasha, thankfully, is not so wobbly today and moving well although I have yet to see her eat, which isn’t to say that she hasn’t, just that I haven’t seen her eat, but the fact is I called and was told flatly that Dr. Nell wasn’t in yesterday so I’d either have to wait or deal with someone else.


I don’t know.  I just know that I don’t think humans have any more right to live on this planet than any other species and in fact, given the way humans in general are treating Mother Gaia, I’d say we have much less right to be here.  I would never put myself above another species and I know that makes me odd, but there it is.  I will take my oddness every day of the week, but there are times when I get confronted with how far out of the norm I am that I feel isolated and lonely.  I would like to find more kindred spirits, more who would understand where I’m coming from.  Lacking that, I find solitude a very acceptable alternative.  This weekend I will be by myself with my special lovely family and I won’t have to talk with or interact with anyone, so my very strangeness, out of the bell curveness, won’t be an issue.  Certainly Chauncey, Poosa, Laoise, Thackeray, and Sasha are happy with who I am and what I believe and that is more than enough for this weekend.  Such are my thoughts for today.