Category Archives: pets

Looking Back, Looking Forward, A Glance Askance.

Look, guys! A post! I’m writing a post!

I was going to post some highlights from 2013, and don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a “bad” year, but when I thought about the moments that really left an impression on me, it turned out that many were, well, not what you’d call highlights. And the happier moments seemed a little wan, comparatively, in the shadows. So, on to 2014. Ad astra per aspera.

Resolutions: I’m not a fan. Oh sure, let’s set lofty goals. Through fault of our own or not, we falter. And we feel bad. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. If the dawn of a new year is what it takes for you to stop smoking, then go for it. I know a number of people who have, through hard work and determination, lost those extra pounds (and kept it off, which is really the hardest part and makes dieting look easy). But I haven’t made any resolutions in years. Tell people that, though, and they think you’re a party pooper or a slacker. So here. Here are my reasonable-utions for 2014:

IMG_1183

  • I will re-think—and complete—one particular home décor project. See this canvas? It’s 36×48 and it’s one half of a project that I started in 2005. And by “started,” I mean I bought the pair of canvases, printed one sheet of inkjet decal paper, realized how much ink it ate up, and set the project aside. For eight years.
  • I will reclaim our basement. See all that junk* behind the canvas? The basement is overrun with stuff. In part because this condo has a lot of square footage, but almost none of it is storage space. And in part because I run a business out of the house wherein I sell stuff. And that stuff takes up what little storage space there is. So in 2014, and I’m aiming for January with this, I will try to pare down the excess stuff. I’d say “we,” but this is pretty much my stuff and my responsibility. Craigslist, thrift store donations, private sales via a new, as-yet-to-be-created Instagram account, whatever it takes. I just want it gone.
  • I will finish refinishing our TV trays. 2013 was unofficially the year of Keeping The Dining Table Clean, and we’ve been successful, but we’re still in the habit of eating weeknight dinners off of TV trays while sitting on the sofa and watching an episode of White Collar. However, our trays have been undergoing The World’s Slowest Makeover. What should have taken a few afternoons has actually been on hold for months because I ran into some trouble with the paint I was using and its utter lack of adhesion to the base coat. I’ve since determined that spray paint is really the way to go with this, but as January isn’t really ideal weather for painting outdoors, this project will have to wait a bit longer. However, it will get done.
  • I will not buy any more sewing patterns for my own collection…unless I sew at least 2 things from patterns that I already have. HAhahahahaha. That’s funny.
  • We, collectively with the aid of our almost-too-laid-back vet, will “fix” our darling Ghrey Kitteh’s rather horrifying bouts of atopic dermatitis (eczema). I am determined that she will not feel discomfort any longer than is necessary for us to make adjustments to her care. I realize that we don’t really have much control over this, but I can pretend.
  • I will say “please” and “thank you” when appropriate. I will not return a personal compliment with, “Oh, no, my hair is a mess and this shirt is a terrible color and…” blah, blah, blah.
  • I will not feel guilty about blogging five times a year instead of the old five times a week. If you’re that interested in what I’m up to, you’re probably following me on Instagram anyway.

There are probably a whole lot of other things that could/should go on this list, but I’m trying to keep expectations low. So, how about you? Resolutions or not?

*Not technically junk. But seriously, when you own eight dining chairs but only keep four of them around the table on a daily basis—because if I wanted a dining table that sat eight people all of the time, I wouldn’t have bought a table with an extension leaf—where do you store the other four chairs?!

1 Comment

Filed under life-threatening clutter, pets, sewing

Bad Idea. Very Bad Idea.

I have a 1954 issue of American Home that I plan to scan for posting, right after I erase the pencil scribbles left behind on EVERY SINGLE PAGE by a child with anger management issues.* And so, I erase. Turn the page, erase. Turn the page, erase. Turn the page…

WTF? Live burros? That can’t be right. Read with ever-widening, incredulous eyes. Snap a quick pic of one portion for a friend whom I know needs the smile, and will totally understand why I think this is hilarious. Decide it needs to be shared more widely via Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. Today, it’s time to share the ad in its entirety. Most of the offers are benign, but I think they set off quite nicely the outrageous idea that some homemaker might buy a live burro or alligator to have around the house (sorry, no refunds or exchanges). If you’ve been to any shopping mall ever, you know that Spencer Gifts is still around. I guess we were a less litigious community back in 1954.

click to inflate

*Kids are kids, and kids “draw” on stuff. I know this. My concern isn’t the amount of scribbling so much as the placement, usually blacking out faces or obliterating animals. Creepy.

Leave a comment

Filed under advertising, amusement, pets, vintage

Why am I up?

Why am I up?

Because I’m sick with a cold, and occasionally awaken because my nose is running or my breathing is labored or I’m coughing. Or any combination/all three.

Because one of my smoke detectors has a sporadic low battery chirp, but I can’t tell which one without getting out of bed and standing in the stairwell, by which point I may as well get the spare batteries and a ladder and change the damn things, but then I’d be AWAKE. The chirp inexplicably stops during daylight hours. This has been going on for three nights.*

Because I’ve never been able to find the switch that turns off my brain, and its chatter is deafening.

Because the ghrey kitteh thinks that my sole purpose is to provide a lumpy surface upon which she may sleep. And she is kind of heavy.

*Since I’m fully awake anyway, I finally did this. Turns out the batteries in the chirping smoke detector test at full strength, so I put them back in. The chirping has stopped, for now.

Leave a comment

Filed under pet peeves, pets

Deep Thoughts: Scaredy Cat Halloween Edition

People talk about something or other “scaring the shit out of” you. Does it ever work in reverse? Because the whitishy kitty just ran OUT of the litterbox and up the stairs past me, with his tail all apouf. The aforementioned poo is in its rightful place.

1 Comment

Filed under amusement, pets

Bunco!

click for more photos

Bunco is my very first foster puppy from PupSavers (where he is listed as Tripp, but that sounds too soap-operaish to me). He is 2-3 months old, and an Aussie cattle dog/probably blue heeler terrier mix. He wants to say “hi” to EVERYONE! He’s teething right now, so doesn’t do much more than chew his toys (and nap), but he does like to play chase in the yard for full minutes at a time before conking out.

THE FULL STORY: On Tuesday night I picked up two pups to foster, but that quickly turned out to be beyond my first-time puppy caring skills (and mere two hands plus lackluster ability to only be in one place at a time). Lucky for me, my fostering friends who turned me on to PupSavers in the first place hustled right on over to soothe my nerves, assure me that I could do this, and take the zanier of the two pups off my hands. They immediately dubbed her Houdini for her wily escape skills. No barrier is strong enough to keep her from snuggling with you!

Some of you know that my household comes complete with cats, and although I was near tears a couple of times at the start, I assure you this is hardest on them. The Siamese started venturing out last night, and is now fairly comfortable wandering around, cautiously, in areas that he knows the puppy can’t reach. The tabby has come downstairs a couple of times to sniff things out, but runs off when Bunco tries to sniff back. Neither cat seems to be settled enough to eat, but they do lap at a bowl of water I brought upstairs for them.

NOTE: Bunco is so named because I think the one spot on his back makes him look like a die. Bunco, a game of luck played in teams with three dice, was imported to San Francisco as a gambling activity in the 1850s, where it gave its name to gambling parlors, or Bunco parlors, and more generally to any swindle. After the Civil War, the game evolved to a popular parlor game. During Prohibition, Bunco was re-popularized as a gambling game and often associated with speakeasies. Law-enforcement groups raiding these parlors came to be known as “Bunco squads.”

9 Comments

Filed under cute and fuzzy bunny, pets

Lightning

Lightning wasn’t my cat, he was Nick’s. Well, Nick’s and Linda’s and Athena’s, but Athena is in Spain, and Linda moved to San Francisco, so Lightning became Nick’s to feed and house, although he was still everybody’s to care for.

I first heard Lightning called by name last year (in March, as a matter of fact), when Nick wrote to me about how he wound up with Lightning in the first place:

My cat Lightning… he always smells like dirt. Not in a bad way, I guess he smells more like a dusty barn, which reminds me of home. I always pick him up, hold him in my arms like a baby and put my nose into his chest and sniff him. He’s a big old cat… about 18 pounds and all muscle. I was working in a steel mill in Stockton, Ca. His mom was a shop cat and she caught pregnant. Me and Larry (another guy I worked with) built her a house out of a cardboard box and lined it with rags. We also covered the outside with plastic so the rain wouldn’t get it wet. Anyway, she really liked us and she slept there while she was pregnant. We would feed her and watch out for her. She had her babies and they hung around for a while but all of them left. One night I was on the pay phone outside of the shop talking to my little brother and I kept hearing this really loud “meow!!!” Sure enough there was one of her kittens sitting under a car in the parking lot just meowing his head off. I spent about an hour trying to coax him out, and when I finally did I bought him some milk out of the vending machine and fed him, he fell asleep in my lap. I left him on my desk until the end of shift, put him in the car, and drove him home.

Originally we thought he was grey, but once Linda washed him up we realized he was white. Me and that cat… boy we sure are close.

Nick told me that when he would “boom out” on a job for weeks at a time, Lightning would disappear too, only to come home an hour or so after Nick did. Frankly, can you blame him? Nick gave him milk, and Linda scrubbed him clean in a sink full of water. Both are gestures of love, but to a cat, one is tasty and the other is… a sink full of water.

Lightning was an outdoor cat, obviously. A white outdoor cat. With pink ears and a pink nose, exposed to the sun all day. Now you and I, we know about UV rays and SPF and all that. But I dare you to explain it to a cat. Over time, Lightning developed skin cancer. The vet was able to surgically trim Lightning’s ears a little shorter to eliminate some of it, but not all. Ointments were prescribed, but anyone who’s had a cat knows how futile that endeavor is. And, after being able to roam around his whole life, keeping him indoors would kill his spirit, if not his body. So the cancer spread. By January, he was pretty sick. His nose was always running, and his ears had become a mass of scabs, which itched, so Lightning would scratch at them, thus continuing the cycle. Every day was a fresh wound. But those were “cosmetic” problems. Nick wrote,

Lightning even looked a little more bright eyed than he has in the past few days… I don’t get him. He’s definitely sick, sicker than I’ve ever seen him, but he likes to be petted and his purr-box is running strong! […] Yesterday, it was just me, Lightning, and Thumpkin in the house. We all split a can of tuna fish… It was purr-box and drool city, yo!

He didn’t go outside anymore, by his own choice, but preferred to spend his days on the back of the sofa or easy chair, or, if the dog was in the house, safely behind the television. His nights were spent curled up on Nick’s bed.

Nick warned me, before I was to meet Lightning in person, that he looked “gross.” In my head, I was picturing a white cat whose ears were covered in scabs. And that’s exactly what I got, although the reality of it was nonetheless startling. He was white, except for where blood had recently dripped or spattered. His nose looked as though it had melted somewhat. His ears… his ears. Wow. They were black with layer upon layer of dried blood. They looked sort of like marshmallows that have caught fire during toasting. And left to burn. I’m a cat person, but Lightning was difficult to look at, let alone think about developing a relationship with. And yet, within a very short time, he captured my heart. He was clearly nervous about this New Tall Animal in his house, but he slowly approached me and let me pet him (although nowhere near his tender ears, which was, frankly, fine by me). Wow, was he ever soft. Like rabbit fur. In a minute, he was quietly purring. I spent the weekend skritching him and avoiding his head bonks, in part because I didn’t want to accidentally reopen a wound, and in part because, well, euw. Nick tried to clean up Lightning with a warm washcloth. Lightning, of course, would have none of it.

Like Nick said, Lightning’s purr-box was strong, and his eyes were bright. It was easy to forget that this was merely the surface effect of a cancer that was ravaging him from the inside. I pleaded for Nick to take him to the vet for more ear trimming, but Nick, living with this day in and day out, knew the reality of the situation. I was convinced that an Elizabethan collar would protect Lightning’s ears long enough for the wounds to heal properly, and stop the constant bleeding. When the steady blood loss started to physically take its toll on Lightning, Nick went out on a fruitless search for a collar in the hopes that my crazy idea might have some merit. Hearing that he couldn’t find one, I went on my own search, but was sorely disappointed in the available options. Plastic cones that would cause an echo and hinder Lightning’s ability to duck behind the TV weren’t what I had in mind. Soft collars that were, in my opinion, too thick and padded, like wearing a life jacket around your head. Perhaps appropriate for a large dog, but not scaled well for cats. So I decided to make my own. I must have been in JoAnn Fabrics for an hour, selecting and reselecting my materials and plotting a pattern in my head. I spoke with the gal at the cutting counter, and together, we revised my idea once more. Finally, armed with ripstop nylon, Peltex, fleece binding tape, and Velcro, I set off to make The Perfect Collar.

I did the best I could, but I still haven’t figured out how to cleanly machine-stitch along a bias. And two layers of fleece, two of nylon, and a heavy-duty layer of Peltex make for some wonky seams. Still, when all was said and done, I thought Lightning would approve. Okay, I thought he’d hate it, but if he only knew the options, he’d have to change his mind. Maybe Nick could add some patches or studs to “coolify” the collar to better match Lightning’s tough-guy stature. I popped it in the mail on Friday, for Monday delivery

On Saturday, Lightning stopped eating. He took up residence in a cardboard box left in the living room. He was having trouble breathing. He soiled his box. Nick found him a new, clean box, and said Lightning was just skin and bones when he transferred him. By Sunday night, Nick had to make a very difficult decision. At first, he wasn’t going to tell me, but he knew I’d be upset, and I’m sure it helped him to share the burden. Together, we wept.

The appointment was at noon on Monday. Late enough for Nick and I to talk, and grieve a little, and secretly harbor just a small flicker of hope that the vet would offer a viable alternate plan. Late enough for Nick to do the same with Linda. Late enough for Nick and Lightning to spend some time together. Late enough for the mail to arrive. For which I’m thankful, I suppose. I think it would hurt that much more to come home from the vet’s office and see that last-ditch effort to stall the inevitable.

The vet agreed that it was time. The staff treated both Nick and Lightning with care and compassion. Lightning went out snoring and, finally, without pain.

If only they could take away the pain left behind.

3 Comments

Filed under doctors and dentists, friends, pets, sewing

love

I haven’t written in a while. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already noticed this. Not that my blog was ever “about” anything, but I’ve felt as though I have even less to add these days. I’m picking up the odd design job here and there, and busying myself with jewelry-making in between. I’ve been experimenting with new materials, since, outside of the pet tags, nothing seems particularly popular with the masses. And the dog tags? I don’t make a dime on them. Even if I kept the “profit” portion of their price for myself, it would be tough to live on $2 a month.

My usual flurry of Halloween activity was tempered this year. Halfway through my second costume, I just gave up. I didn’t care about it. I was relieved that I already had one finished, but to be completely honest, that one wouldn’t have come together without the dedicated assistance of Megan doing my hair at the last minute. (I did have a great time helping Megan and Joe decorate for their party, and while I know they think that I was doing them a favor, it is I who really appreciate spending all of those days with them.)

In August, I finally started sewing Butterick 4790. I bunged up my sewing machine, and spent hours/days trying to figure out how to affordably fix it. Finally, with some ingenuity (and a metal kebab skewer) I was able to clear out enough thread from the innards to start sewing again. My (single) costume dress was back on, and it came out rather well if I may say so myself (very forgiving material) but that Walk-Away dress is still unfinished. And will likely remain so. I love the chrysanthemum fabric I chose for the front panel, but I went too cheap on the wrap-around solid, and I just don’t want to work with it. Even if I liked the fabric, I am faced with stitching on 300 yards of bias tape. Ugh.

Yesterday, things were picking up. I successfully made myself a cup of tea, AND drank it before it got cold. I’ve been typing out, longhand, a 13-chapter story, one chapter at a time, for a friend, and I managed to find an entire chapter already online. Copy-and-paste! I finally got myself started with my Blue Book, so I could be an informed voter AND still vote early. The beads that I had ordered specifically for an exclusive bracelet design being sold at an online shop FINALLY came in. I swapped some good email with a potential client, and worked on a business card design for another. I cleaned up a section of the kitchen, which has become my cluttered food-prep-and-jewelry studio.

And then the tape came loose. Megan called. In and of itself, unusual. The middle of the afternoon only made it more so. It turns out that their oldest, tiniest, sweetest cat was sick. Very sick. Always plagued with respiratory issues, Wheezer’s breathing had been getting more labored. She had just taken him into the vet, and some cells had been swabbed for testing. He was scared, not feeling well, test results weren’t back yet, and Megan and her husband were supposed to be leaving for vacation on Friday morning. Assuring them that staying home wouldn’t help our dear fuzzy friend get any better, I agreed to stay with him in their home so he wouldn’t have to be kenneled while they were gone. I was nervous about the possibility of the prognosis being Not Good on my watch, but I love that little guy like my own and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him (and my friends). Besides, the vet have given three possible diagnoses, so statistically, things would probably be okay. I’d pick up some meds and take care of whatever needed caring.

A few hours later, Joe called, and the bottom fell out. He and Megan had gone back to the vet’s to pick up our little pal, but the vet had assessed the situation with more observation and test results, and my friends had a very difficult decision to make. It wasn’t so much a choice as it was a necessary kindness, but that doesn’t make the pain any easier to swallow.

Too soon, I am again left with a hole in my heart that aches for my friends’ loss, knowing that there isn’t a damn thing I can do. This time, that loss feels more personal, because of the relationship that little Wheezer had with everyone who ever walked into his house. Every person he ever met was his best friend, and possessed his most comfortable lap in which to sleep. His only emotion was contentment. I am consoled by the fact that his last weekend was spent in a houseful of hands ready and willing to pet him, an assortment of laps to test, and that so many people, though they didn’t know it, got a chance to say good-bye. I am glad that I stole a few minutes to laugh and play with him on Friday when I should have been setting up more décor, and glad that he slept at my feet, wheezing of course, when the party was all over.

Wheezer brought love with him wherever he went, and no matter how much he gave away, he always had more. His capacity for love was bigger than his physical size. It filled him, spilled out, and if you sat still long enough, it would fill you, too. I hope I can learn from him.

6 Comments

Filed under blogging, cute and fuzzy bunny, friends, Halloween, jewelry, pets, sewing