Friday, January 24, 2014

Global warming my frigid blue patookus!

Yeah. I said it.  I even stuttered while I was at it, but I place the blame for that squarely on my chattering teeth.

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a military brat/wife and have been a dependent since the day I was born.  As such I've lived in a wide variety of climates.

~I've lived in Georgia's muggy weather where it's a good idea to bring a change of clothes to work simply because the walk from your car to the front door of your office requires wringing out the now sticky and nasty garments you're currently wearing.
~I've lived in upstate New York where the autumn trees look suspiciously like a kindergarten classroom was allowed to run amok through nature with a box of crayons.
~I've lived in Guam where the constant ocean breeze makes you forget that the average temperature never drops below 80°F the entire year.
~I've lived in England where it rains for years at a time and a beam of sunshine can send the populace into a panicked frenzy because either a comet is inbound or aliens are attacking.
~I've lived in Minnesota where summer isn't considered over until there's seven feet of snow on the ground and the common rule of thumb is if students can collectively shove the bus through the snowy streets school is in session.
~I've lived in Washington where the temperature stays between 40°F and 70°F pretty much all year round, there is ALWAYS moisture in the air, and mold gets its own page in the population census.
~I've lived in Texas where I had to scrape ice off my windshield one morning to go to work and came home that afternoon wearing shorts and a tank top.

So I've seen my fair share of climates and came to the conclusion that I like warmth and sunshine; which ixnays 90% of the places I've lived so far.  Steve and I settled on Tennessee for a variety of reasons, but for me, it was mostly the weather.  We have four distinct seasons: Rain and tornadoes, August, autumn, and "man, I gotta wear a sweater today".  The most common gripe from women here is that they can't seem to keep their hair from having its own AfroParty! at random moments.  (Usually on Picture Day at school, or an important meeting/presentation, or formal dress party.)

Around here, we get antsy if the temperature threatens to drop below 50°F because we can't remember where we put our heavy coats.  Ask someone what a snow blower is and they'll likely point to a leaf blower saying "ain't that the same thing??"

That's why the folks around here chose here to settle.  Comfortable climate, trees to pretty the place up, rain in plenty when it's crop time, sun in plenty when it's summertime, winter temperatures that make anyone north of Kentucky scoff at us. We like it this way.  We're strange like that.


*glares out the window*

I just got back home from an appointment.  My car thermometer says it's 17°F out there. SEVENTEEN!!
I put water outside for the feral cats and watched it start to freeze before I could let go of the bowl!
I scraped the ice off of ONE window on my car and my fingers threatened to fall off in protest.

There's so much static electricity in the air that the cats zap each other just by getting within a few inches.  Of course, seeing two cats casually walking down the hall ignoring each other, hearing a loud KRAZAKLE,
and those same two cats landing several feet away looking like cheerleading pompoms is actually highly entertaining.

Now I'm no expert at science.  I'm probably not even scientifically literate.  And I really don't care what all the climate experts say or what all their charts and evidence says or that it's all probably completely true.

You're going to have a very hard time convincing me that we're suffering from global warming when I passed a herd of snowmen migrating south because they were giving whole new meaning to the term "blue balls".

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Little Flicker's Story...

I know.  I'm late again.  But we had some travelling to do this past weekend and it was a BLAST!!  Even Flicker didn't seem to mind the three hour drive each way, or having an entire hotel bed, blankets, and nest of pillows all to herself each day.  The hotel clerk at the front desk fell in love with her and wouldn't let us pay the extra pet fee when we discovered I'd planned poorly and we needed to extend our stay.

So.... Flicker's story.  Y'all do realize how long winded I can get when it's about cats, right??  Alrighty then. Hope you have your popcorn and caffeine pills handy.

I was able to catch Flicker on July 22nd of 2013.  Obviously, she was frightened of absolutely everything and spent the next few days huddled up on a pile of towels shivering in the cat carrier we'd used to trap her. We decided she needed to be kept isolated from the other animals at least until she'd seen a vet, and we honestly didn't have any plans to keep her long term anyway.  (It turned out to be considerably harder to find a home for an animal that is blind than I had thought it would be.) It was going to be a few days to a week longer before I'd have the funds to take yet another cat to the vet, so she got moved into a larger cage in our bedroom and I was the only person who had any real contact with her.  She was always cold, so I kept her bundled up in blankets and held her as often as I could manage.

Three weeks passed before we were able to get Flicker to the vet and by this time I was extremely concerned about her.  She didn't seem to have grown the tiniest bit, and I was beginning to wonder if she'd been separated from her actual mother and we'd just mistaken her as being one of Stain's kittens.  After all, she looked like she was maybe 6 weeks old, while the other kittens outside were obviously 5 to 7 months old.

Finally, we got Flicker an appointment to see the vet.  She did the typical exam, made a couple of comments about how cold Flicker's body felt, discovered that she could shine a light as bright as a supernova into Flicker's eyes without the kitten trying to escape, spent nearly 5 minutes "ooh"ing and "aahh"ing about being able to study the inside of a cat's eye so easily, and eventually determined that there was nothing physically wrong with her eyes and therefore there shouldn't be anything wrong with her sight.  Her theory was that there was some kind of a disconnect between the eyes and the brain, and that it was possible, albeit unlikely, that Flicker could get her vision back as she gets older.

Then she checked Flicker's teeth.

Vet: "How did she lose this tooth?"
Me: "We were wrestling a little bit and it just came out.  She didn't even seem to notice it."
Vet: "Uh huh.  And how big did you say the other kittens you thought were litter mates are?"
Me: "Six or seven months?  They're all about this big." *makes hand motions indicating animals roughly three times the size of Flicker*
Vet: "Yeah. That's sounds about right."
Me: *looks confused* (which, admittedly, is a pretty standard look for me)
Vet: "Flicker's probably 6 months old. She's losing baby teeth and adult teeth are trying to grow in."

I looked at that tiny little kitten and tried to reconcile what Dr. Wicks was telling me.  She did some more exam-type things; poking this, pulling that, mumbling about this, that, and the other.  She called in some other vets who poked this, pulled that, mumbled about this, that, and the other.  They all huddled up around Flicker and debated quietly while continuing to run their hands over what had to be every millimeter of her body.  Then they started to get excited.

I started to get nervous.

They started to get a little more excited.

I started to get this nagging urge to shove past them all and scoop up what suddenly looked like an extremely small and vulnerable bundle of fluff.

Their voices started getting louder.

I interrupted by obeying that urge.  And apparently reminded the whole lot of them that I was still there.

Then it was explained to me that based on everything they could see and feel, it appeared that Flicker has what they called Pituitary Dwarfism.  They told me that typical dwarfism in animals makes for misproportioned bodies; heads that are slightly too small, front legs that are shorter than back legs or vice versa, tails that don't grow as long as they should, etc etc.  Flicker doesn't have this.  Flicker is perfectly proportioned.  She's just not growing.

Eternal kitten!

Then they let the other shoe drop.  This is so rare that they can't tell me much about the condition except that there is a 99.9% chance she won't live anywhere near as long as the average healthy house cat.  They can't even guess at a life expectancy.  All they can tell me is that instead of the normal dwarfism where individual appendages or organs don't get enough growth hormone, Flicker's body is distributing the hormone evenly but not producing enough of it.  They believe that eventually this may lead to organ failure but they can't tell me when to expect this, what symptoms to look for, or even if this will happen at all.  What they CAN tell me is that her immune system is permanently weaker than it should be and she will always be at risk to catch anything another animal she is exposed to may have and not be able to fight it off.

That's a little scary but since all of her tests came back negative for illnesses I wasn't going to worry about it. Just means no more new animals allowed in the house.  (Steve LOVES this new rule!)  We took her home and let her have the run of the house.  (She still doesn't like to leave our bedroom...)  Everything was fun and games for just under a week.

Then she stopped playing.
And eating.
And drinking.
And got very cold to the touch.

And I got nervous.

We went back to the vet and when the staff saw me coming across the parking lot, I saw people start running off in different directions inside. Didn't think too much of it until I got inside and there were two technicians who had obviously just stuffed charts back into the pile in the back and Dr. Wicks waiting for us.  Their "oh she's back! She's so cute!" expressions instantly vanished when they saw my face and we were ushered straight into a room and I had her taken from me.  It was determined that she'd gone from 2.6 pounds to 2.2 in six days and her body temperature was at 95.1 and dropping.  There was a flurry of activity in the room as everyone who worked there seemed to want to be doing something to help and it got a bit overwhelming for Flicker and me.  Dr. Wicks had to shoo everyone out and gave me a crash course on feline body temperature and weight while trying to prepare me for what they were fairly certain was about to happen.

Of course the barrage of tests that no one can realistically afford began and I was just too numb to object or say anything.  I'd had her less than a month and I felt like they were taking one of my arms away when they carried her into the back for overnight observation.  After ruling out low blood sugar, they needed to run blood work but she wasn't stable enough for that, so they had to keep her.  I found out later that half of the staff volunteered to stay with her, but Dr. Wicks is ultimately the one who wouldn't leave her side.  I kept getting calls every two to three hours with updates; the first one saying she'd stabilized enough to allow for the needed tests and then more calls with result after result coming back as negative.  Then her temperature started to tank again, and I was informed that the only test remaining was for a simple infection in hopes of ruling out FiP.  If that test came back with the wrong result, I'd be able to come pick her up and take her home as there was nothing that could be done for her.

The next morning we learned that while they couldn't find a definitive infection, they did find some markers that might indicate there was one they just hadn't located.  It was decided that since it was really their last shot anyway, that they'd go ahead and treat her for an infection and see if that helped at all.  Later that afternoon, I was allowed to come visit her and she looked so frail, I was afraid I was going to break her.

This was supposed to be the point where I'd pick her up and bring her home to be comfortable as they had done just about everything they possibly could.  Instead, Dr. Wicks said she had one last medicine up her sleeve that she wanted to try because Flicker was still obviously fighting to hang on and not just giving up.  "If she isn't giving up, then we aren't giving up on her."  It meant staying another night and most of the next day while they watched her, and they were careful to remind me that this was honestly a losing fight but a losing fight they were determined to stay in until the end.

The next evening we were informed that Flicker was responding to the antibiotics despite them still not being able to find any infection. She was still in danger and could take a turn for the worse at any moment, but they could find no reason that she couldn't come home with me as long as I kept giving her the medication and kept her on a heating pad to maintain her body temperature the best we could.  Even though it was obvious she still felt like complete and utter crap, she was glad to be home and I didn't let her out of my sight for the next two days.  I even took her to work with me!

Three days later, she was released from vet care and we were told she was one bottle of antibiotics away from an almost complete recovery.

I say "almost" because she still can't seem to keep her body temperature up where it should be.  She has a heating pad under her bed that is kept on 24 hours a day unless she's curled up beside me on the bed while I stitch.  She can't be left alone very long because someone needs to be able to turn the heating pad back on every couple of hours, but this is a minor thing and we have all easily adjusted to it.

Flicker has a few oddities that we believe are side effects of her condition.  She doesn't make much noise.  She really has to struggle to get a little squeak out if she wants attention, but I've learned to identify the little cricket sound as her and seem to now be able to hear her from another room if it's quiet in the house.  She can purr like nobody's business though!  That little rattle of hers is NOISY!!

The other strange thing is her fur.  It takes forever to grow back!  At first we were worried it wouldn't grow back at all, but finally, after almost five months, her belly has peach fuzz on it again after her spaying.

Her eyes are also an unknown for us.  Some days she acts as though she can't see anything at all.  Other days she seems able to see large objects moving if the area is particularly bright.  We've discovered recently that she appears to be completely blind in her left eye and never reacts to anything on her left side unless she hears it.  But if we move things on her right side, it's a 50/50 chance that she'll see it and react to it.  This can be all sorts of entertaining when playing with a laser light.  It doesn't hurt that we enjoy setting off her laser eyes for no apparent reason.

February 1st was the date assigned as her birthday by the veterinarians so, despite still being small enough to balance (sorta) in one hand, she'll be a year old in a couple of weeks.
Her first exploration of the second level of the house. 12/28/13

She is the youngest of our fuzzies, but easily the feistiest as well.  She tends to swat and hiss at the other cats when they get too close which leads to tense relations as you can imagine.  Zippy has decided she flat out doesn't like Flicker and it's fairly common to have to break up arguments between the two.  Lea still hasn't quite figured out how to handle this odd little creature that doesn't know SHE'S the one in charge.  Jack tolerates the constant abuse he suffers at Flicker's paws and will occasionally curl up with her and bathe her.  Usually they just try to avoid the inevitable swats and smacks that seem to come out of nowhere when she's in the vicinity.

This means that the target for 90% of her ire defaults to my arm.

But she still finds time to bully the big cats too.

She just thwacked Jack and he's wondering what to do now.

You gotta admit.  This little girl is living up to the nickname our friend Rona inadvertently gave her.  She is definitely "Cuteness Overload".

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Introducing the Ferals...

Anyone who has read this collection of babbling for any length of time knows that my cats are an important part of the family. That includes the ferals outside, much to Steve's dismay.  I've been getting requests from people to tell their story since I'm gonna give blogging another shot.  So here goes...

Just remember.  You asked for it.

As seems to be our pattern, when Steve and I buy a house, there always seems to be a resident colony of cats attached.  Our current home was no exception.  At the time of purchase, there was one female that hung around the property and three males that hung around her.  I cannot seem to resist putting food out for the ferals when they come to the door asking for it.  This drives Steve absolutely insane but he lets me do it anyway and contents himself with threatening to thin their population down himself on one of his days off when I'm not looking. (He would never actually do this! I don't think....)

Well eventually the female, a dark tortoiseshell dubbed Spook, produced a litter of kittens that lived long enough to venture out and let themselves be seen. Two tortoiseshells and two blacks. Now I'm a bleeding heart when it comes to cats of all types, but I can run numbers pretty quickly and I know EXACTLY what happens when a colony of cats is allowed to flourish while a human steps in to keep nature's dangers out of the way.  As much as it kills me I do my all out best to avoid interfering with natural selection however, when you live in the suburbs, there isn't a whole lot of natural selection going on.  Lots of roadkill opportunities, but not many predators. This means that a litter of two females and two males is going to explode into a triple digit population within a few years if I don't keep myself in check.  So I keep my contact to a minimum as much as possible.

I watched Spook teach her kittens to hunt over the summer of 2010 and claim our backyard as her territory. As sometimes happens, she and the male she hadn't chased away by now decided I wasn't all that bad and got more and more comfortable with coming around me and eventually she let me pet her.  This was about the time I realized she was pregnant again... and really unhealthy.  I had no choice but to call Animal Control and they agreed to come pick her up that afternoon.  Not a good day for me. I chose not to inform the officer of the four young cats hiding under my deck when he was there.

The five remaining animals in my backyard earned themselves names. Smoke (the adult male),
I promise Smoke is alive in this picture!
Stain and Splotch (the two tortie female kittens), and Spooky and Boo (the two black male kittens).  Smoke hung around for the next couple of years and I suspect sired a couple more litters while he was at it, but his visits got fewer and farther between. I haven't seen him since spring of 2012.  Splotch was afraid of everything that moved and never became social to anyone that I know of.  She was chased off by Stain within months of reaching adulthood and only came back once every few months or so to beg for food.  I saw her once just this past fall, actually.  Spooky and Boo stayed with us for nearly a year, but never got terribly social to anyone and I believe they went off to find their own territory.  That left Stain.

Stain was a dark tortoiseshell who became very social to me, but not to anyone else here. She was an amazing huntress and I would often find her leftovers on my deck when I went outside to put food out.  Thanks to her, I know what the inside of a squirrel looks like.  And birds.  And chipmunks.  And frogs.

*cough* anyway.....

Stain's first litter arrived sometime in 2011.  The only kittens we ever saw were a black male, a solid gray male, and a diluted tortoiseshell female.  By the time these made it to adulthood, it was only the black "Shadow" and the female "Pandora".  These two wanted nothing to do with people of any kind for a very long time and Pandora is so good at hunting she didn't even come up to get food, but eventually Pandora came around and now comes when she hears me call her.
Pandora feeding that litter she's carrying.

Shadow also appears when he's called, but only if he knows there's food waiting for him.  He's a big coward and gets bullied by other cats on a regular basis. He always runs back to our yard and scrambles to the top of one of our dogwood trees where he yowls in terror until Steve goes out to rescue him by chasing off whatever tomcat is sitting at the base of the tree trying to figure out just what is WRONG with him.  It'd be sad if I wasn't laughing so much.

Pandora is just the opposite.  She's not afraid of anything and is the undisputed queen of our yard, having ousted her mother from that position in the hierarchy.  She's very effective at keeping random ferals from trying to move into the area and when she turned up pregnant, she decided that even Stain needed to find somewhere else to call home.

In April of 2012 she produced a litter of SEVEN kittens, though we suspect she stole two. Four solid grays and a tortie... pretty standard for her family line so far.  Then there was an orange tabby and a lilac point siamese.  Arrurr???  We ended up having to take the kittens away from Pandora because she insisted on trying to keep them right on the deck and my Mother-in-law's dog insisted they were toys. We could only do the guard and fend off thing for a week or so before losing our collective patience with the situation and introducing an indoor cage to house the babies in.
Kitten Caboodle

Fortunately, Pandora was social enough that she came right in with them and as soon as she understood she wasn't getting the kittens back, I got her to the vet and got her spayed.  Woohoo!  No more fertile cats in our yard! (Side note: The litter of kittens we brought in were all adopted out to family members, coworkers, and friends.  Jack and Zippy ended up staying with us.)

In June of 2013 Stain appeared out of the blue wanting food.  Of course, she had four kittens in tow.  A solid gray male I now call Slater, two dark tortoiseshells I refuse to name, and a runty little diluted tortie.  Awesome. Three more females.  I had no intentions of inviting any of them to stay, so I pretty much ignored them when I was putting food out. It was a couple of weeks later that Sarah asked if anyone had seen Stain since she'd brought her kittens to the house.  None of us had, though we'd seen the kittens.  Three of them were always the first into the food dishes and the runt occasionally would be up on the deck nibbling, though she was usually by herself in the grass.

Remember what I said earlier about natural selection?  I refused to get involved beyond making catfood and water available.

A couple of weeks after that, I heard Mom and Sarah talking about something they'd seen in the backyard and it had Sarah really upset.  Apparently Mom's dog, Cloudy, had been out in the yard and of course all the kittens scattered for the fences as usual.  All but the runt.  Mom said she just sat in one spot out in the middle of the yard while Cloudy charged her at an all out run. Now Cloudy never intentionally hurts the cats.  She just wants playmates.  She was expecting the kitten to turn and run and play tag to the fence like her siblings had.  She certainly didn't expect to quite literally bounce off of the kitten, so she was probably as startled as the kitten was.  Mom said the kitten fell over, then got back up, and slowly stumbled away from Cloudy and toward the fence.  She said the kitten was skinny as could be, and tripped over things in her path without attempting to go around or over them.  She must be really sick, and is certainly close to starvation.

Natural selection.  Not getting involved.

Now while I won't do anything to stop Mother Nature from reclaiming a sick animal that would have died anyway under the same circumstances if born in the wild, I'm not fond of the idea of my children stumbling upon the carcass of a species they consider pets. This meant it became my duty to keep an eye out for the poor little thing and go looking for her when the inevitable happened.

And this is what I was doing one bright sunny afternoon when she turned her head toward the window and caught the light in her eyes. No metallic gold, flash of green, or devileye red.  Her eyes reflected an opaque baby blue.

Wait. What?  THAT'S not normal.

So I sat there and watched her.  And watched her.  And watched her.  For about an hour.

She would sit still for extended periods of time staring in the same direction.  Her ears would flick to one side suddenly and her head would turn.  She'd sit there staring in that random direction, still not moving.  Her ears would flick to another side and her head would swivel.  This went on for nearly twenty minutes before she slowly stood up and picked her way clumsily through a patch of ground she'd covered repeatedly over the previous few days.

I decided to go outside and test a theory.  Now I'm no hunter, but I've watched enough wannabe hunting programs and movies to know that when sneaking up on something, you do it downwind.  Took me a while to figure out just which way downwind was.

Ahah! Got it! This way!
*takes a few steps slowly and as quietly as possible*
*wind changes direction*

Lots of trial and error later, it became stupidly obvious that I wasn't gonna outsmart the wind, so I resorted to just trying to be as quiet as possible while sneaking up on the kitten. I got within arms reach before I messed up and she heard me.  She panicked and bolted about ten inches away from me to the edge of the patch of ground she was always on.  Then she changed directions and began following the outline of where I'd seen her moving before and made a beeline for Steve's shed, where she dove under it and stayed hidden for an hour or so.

Mom had been watching this from the deck and when we looked at each other, we blurted out at the same time,

"She's not sick; she's blind!"

This isn't natural selection anymore in my book.  I'm not about to let an animal starve to death in front of me when it's probably otherwise perfectly healthy.

Mom helped me the rest of that evening and the next morning, and by the afternoon we were able to lure her into a cat carrier with a generous amount of meat and clean water.  It wasn't a moment too soon either, because it was beginning to rain and we'd been promised a deluge that threatened to last a few days.

As it turned out, the rain did last... nearly a week. Our backyard, and the debatable shelter under Steve's shed, flooded into a small lake that took almost four days to drain enough to see the ground again.

But that's alright.  The kitten had gotten her ticket onto the ark.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

No Pain No Gain. *mutter* Masochist...

Welp, the day is just about over but I figured it'd been a few days and I should probably put SOMETHING up here.  So I spent the last couple of hours watching a room full of 3 year olds at church and racking my brain for an idea of what to blog about.

I could go all philosophical about why siblings are apparently forbidden to get along for more than 4.9 seconds at a time.
I could try to puzzle out how my teenager can be sleeping and can't hear either parent bellowing at her from five inches away from her ear, but a cellphone on vibrate in another room will have her upright and alert faster than a politician can sidestep a yes or no question.
I could post more pictures of a certain wolf that may or may not be finished yet. *cough*
I could post the promised pictures of Flicker... if they didn't keep sneaking onto Facebook instead of waiting to debut on here.

While I was running the various possibilities through my head, one of the little girls asked me to pick her up and hold her.  She was tiny, so why not?  I reached down and gathered her up into my arms, then straightened up.

...and about died.

I forgot I'd been to physical therapy again this morning.


See, I have been in pretty constant pain for going on three years now and I've seen several doctors about it.  I've gotten a whole slew of diagnoses and what seems to be completely random treatments ranging from "it's stress; quit your job" to "take all of these pills three times a day and if you're the slightest bit functional let me know so we can up your dosage".  One doctor put me on anti-depressants to counteract all the painkillers I was told to take everyday whether I was in pain or not.

Wait... how is this a good idea???

So my latest doctor took a good look at my recent history, all the meds I'm taking, and *gasp* the CT scans and MRIs that were done.  He promptly took me off of every medication except when I feel I need to take the painkillers one at a time ... wait for it ... for pain. (Whoda thunk?)  He then set me up with a physical therapist and sent me on my way.

My physical therapist is awesome.  Her name is Charity and I'm already very fond of her.  She doesn't take guff from anyone and doesn't buy anyone's excuses for why they can't do the exercises she assigns.  The first time I saw her, she sat down and went over my medical chart, asked some questions about where the pain was and what triggered muscle spasms, and then stunned me.
I mentioned that it's believed I have EDS, although it hasn't been officially diagnosed by a geneticist yet.  She asked me to do a couple of basic tests for the condition, watched me do what was requested, and then ripped up the sheet of paper she'd been making exercise notes on and started over.
She knew what Ehler-Danlos Syndrome is.  *faint*

The first day of therapy was a little daunting, I'll admit.  I had no idea what to expect and had heard so many horror stories involving pain, exercises meant to cause agony, pain, forced contortionism, pain, misery, and the occasional twinge of pain that I was ready to bolt for my life within seconds of signing in.  Charity handed me a strip of green rubber and had me doing repetitions of various stretches to test all the muscle groups in my back, neck, and shoulders.  When I'd finished those, she put me in traction for ten or fifteen minutes and then sent me home.

That's it??  That was fun!  I feel great!  Let's do it again!!

Next appointment rolled around and I went to see Charity with a big grin on my face, all set to conquer my pain with another round of stretches.  Finished the exercises I'd been given the first time and let Charity know I was done.

"Great!  How are you feeling?"
"Fine.  What's next?"
"Anything hurting?"
"Nope! Piece of cake!"

Can I just say one thing?  There is nothing quite as disconcerting as seeing a woman you have just entrusted with putting you back together transform from Florence Nightingale to a Spanish Inquisitor right before your eyes.  Apparently, telling a physical therapist that you have completed their exercises and can still move is akin to looking a ticked off Silverback Gorilla in the eye.

I had inadvertently issued a challenge.

And Charity accepted it.

With zeal.

I'm assured that the first set of exercises I'd been given were simply to pinpoint exactly where I needed the physical therapy and what muscle groups were causing the problems.  Now that this has been accomplished, the real exercises have begun.

That's what they call them.  "Exercises".  I call it legalized torture.  The kind that violates the Geneva Convention on every level.

I mentioned this to Charity and she about suffocated from laughing.  When I asked why this was so funny, she pointed out that she was freshly back from deployment.

I am not comforted.  I have to go back on Friday.

And she was rubbing her hands together and cackling to herself when I was leaving this morning....

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Stitching appears to be the hobby that stuck.

Of all the oddball ideas I've come up with in my life to keep me occupied for weeks, months, or years at a time, the only one that has actually produced something tangible to show for that time has been my cross stitching.  I suppose one could argue that the kids fall into this category, but since I can't just put that particular "hobby" down and walk away for years at a time claiming I'm in a funk without people with shiny bracelets showing up with extended reservations to their facilities... well, you get the idea.

I have been stitching for more than two decades now (ugh, I'm old!) though I didn't start keeping track of anything I was working on until 2000 when I put together an online journal of sorts on my website SapphireDreams (another "hobby" which is now horribly out of date and neglected).

Remember how I said I suffer from Startitis? Yeah...

Since the last time I posted anything here related to my stitching, I believe I've completed three projects and will hopefully be completing a fourth in the next couple of days.

I managed to finish this screen capture from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life".  The chart was released by a company called Pinoy Stitch and (as of 4 Jan 14) is available here.  This was a gift for our head pastor and I think he liked it.

The next project that was completed was for our other head pastor (who happens to be his wife) and quite honestly scared me to death at first. Specialty threads, beads, treasures... What in the blazes was I getting myself into?? But I must say, I'm fairly proud of the finished product: Mirabilia's Cinderella.  One of my favorite things about this one has to be the custom dyed linen I used. Sassy's Fabbys is my go-to company for fabric and when Lauren found out I was trying to get a particular look out of this, she took the time to experiment with colors until she found a unique dye we both fell in love with. She called the settled upon color "Dark Tropical Rain".

Of course, I couldn't resist stitching up a gag gift of sorts to go with the first two.  Pastor has a tendency to randomly strike a pose and quote Underdog during sermons, so Steve and I tracked down what we thought would be a good picture and had it charted out by a kind stitcher who offered his services. The fabric it is stitched on is actually a bright yellow, despite what the photo claims.

And I whipped these out in about a month each! Cuz I'm just that good!

*dodges an entire lightning storm*

Alright, ALRIGHT!! Uncle, already!

*pats out sizzling hairs*

So it may have taken a couple of years to get those finished.  What's your point? At least I got them done in a shorter period than it's taken to do this blasted wolf.

The infamous wolf that I started stitching September 6, 2009.  I really intended to have it completed by that Christmas.  Then I discovered that it used 3.9 million colors.  Or maybe it was 65 colors.  Close enough for government work. Add in enough confetti stitches to make the Super Bowl victory parade envious and I didn't stand a chance. But I was too stubborn to sit back and consider that I was about to start what most cross stitchers dub a BAP (Big A** Project).  What could possibly go wrong??

So now it's 2014.  More than four years since I started Mystic Stitch's Call of the Wild and I swear there's a light at the end of the tunnel!!

My goal is to have the last stitch put in by Monday.  Today is Saturday.

Anyone else suddenly hear thunderous laughter??


It's not my fault that stitching takes forever around here! I have furry speedbumps that materialize in the middle of my projects every time I sit down.  And if I'm lucky, they just snore and shed all over everything.

But usually, this is what happens...

Now that I truly understand what a time commitment BAPs are, as well as the constant booby traps provided by my cats, I have accepted that there are just some things I cannot expect to accomplish and move on.

My next project...
Night Moves by Heaven and Earth Designs

I'll see y'all in March...



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another new year. Another attempt at keeping up with ... life?

Yeah, yeah.  Here I go again.

Steve tells me that I have no excuse for not getting back to blogging.  I think I have a perfectly good excuse.  I suffer from a terminal case of Start-itis.  Lots and lots of starting new things or restarting not so new things.  Not nearly as much following through.

So what has happened in my life since I completely bombed on my last attempt to do this regularly?  Welp, I decided that the job I had at the beginning of 2013 was not for me and moved to another job I enjoyed considerably more.  Eventually though, it became clear that juggling a full time job with children who were in school was harder than it looked and I was tired of missing out on their activities.  But I didn't leave without learning something!

What did I learn from these two jobs?  I learned that there will ALWAYS be fresh fodder for shows like "Maury" and "Jerry Springer".


Like the driver who needed me to call a tow truck because his car was stuck... on the hood of another car. He couldn't explain how he'd gotten on top of the other vehicle, but he was absolutely certain it was NOT an accident so he didn't need to speak with claims.
Oh! And he couldn't get out of the car, because it was rocking back and forth and might slide off and down a cliff.  (!!!!!!!)
To top it off, he wouldn't give me permission to call emergency services.  He wanted a tow truck.  NOW!

No lie.  This call happened.

Then there was the poor guy who walked into the hotel and quietly asked for a room:

Me: No problem! What kind of room would you like?
Him: An empty one.
Me: *blink*  Is this a problem you've had before?
Him: Kind of.  I came home from work early today to surprise my wife.  I surprised her boyfriend instead.
Me: *twitch*


So now I'm staying at home again.  Let the OCD meltdown begin!!!!

The family is doing well, considering the following....

~we have a teenager living in the house and speaking to her is closely akin to waking up an Alaskan Grizzly in the middle of January.  I like to live dangerously....

~there is a 7 year old little girl who considers the word "No" to be a vulgarity and seems to believe that she is more than capable of raising her little brother without our help, up to and including doling out punishments she deems him to have earned.  We are tempted to hand over the reins and go on vacation....

~there is a 5 year old little boy who spends all his free time exercising, lifting weights, and running laps around the house, and who has recently discovered that he's stronger and meaner than both of his sisters.
He also got a bunch of baseball equipment for Christmas.  And a set of Nerf guns.  And Nerf arrows....


We also have 4 cats living here.

Lea will be 8 on April 15th and is the oldest, and the queen.  She is particularly fond of whomping Jack constantly to remind him of her rank.  When she isn't abusing him, she's generally sprawled out in most inconvenient places throughout the house in positions that can only be described as having been thrown unceremoniously out of a moving vehicle.

Jack will be 2 years old on April 9th.  He still behaves very kittenish and regularly turns the house into his own personal demolition derby while he asserts his dominance over his sister, Zippy, and she promptly puts him right back in his place where he belongs. He's probably one of the biggest cats I've ever owned, despite not having an ounce of fat on him and he's also one of the smartest, despite nearly choking to death every other day on strings and pieces of plastic wrap or bags. *rolls eyes*  But, he's my big baby and I can never manage to stay mad at him more than a couple of minutes.

Zippy is a trip.  She is Jack's littermate and sweet as can be as long as she's not possessed at the current moment.  She gives whole new meaning to that theory about cats having random number generators in their heads that force them to run in one direction until they bounce off of something and rattle the numbers around to get a new direction.  But once she decides she's going to sleep, she just sorta.... falls over.

Then there's the newest addition to the menagerie.  Flicker's birthday has been estimated (and therefore assigned) as February 1st of 2013 so she's about to be a year old. Imagine our surprise to learn this little detail after taking her to the vet in October to ask if she was old enough to be weaned. Long story, lots of tests, and an entire veterinary staff wrapped around her little paw later... it's determined that little Flicker has Pituitary Dwarfism which is extremely rare.  We can't even guess her life span, much less the health issues she will more than likely face throughout her life.  She's a doll and everyone who meets her just adores her.  Oh yeah.. she's blind too.  But she's not letting that stop her!


I suppose Steve is probably right.  With this collection all under the same roof, I guess I should be able to come up with SOMETHING to write about once a week....


*sigh*  I gotta go.

Heather's squalling about Hunter backseat playing her computer game.
Hunter's decorating the carpet with diced playdoh, and muttering about his Hulk action figure needing something to smash.
Sarah's locked in her room with the iPod and laptop again.
Steve's downstairs making himself lunch.
And Jack just shot past me like a bullet after something crashed downstairs and Steve let out a rather impressive string of insults at the top of his lungs.

Yep..everything's pretty much normal.