Saturday, July 25, 2015

Brief Update, Catwise

After Blue died last year, I was happy to stick with the four cats I had left: Ophelia, Zander, Jake and Tyler.

Since then, we've been up four, and down two. The current tally is six cats: Zander (17), Jake (15), Tyler (11), Maeve (4?), Stanley (1) and Tallulah (also 1, but three months younger).

ONE DOWN: Natasha Ophelia, 1994 - 07/06/2015

Ophelia was just shy of 21 years old when she passed away three weeks ago this coming Monday. She'd been very healthy up until her approximate 20th birthday in November. She was adopted at around 10 months old, so her November 9th birthday was assigned. For all I know, she could have already been 21.

Right as she turned 20, she began to look old. She'd already lost all of her teeth; her one eye was cloudy and the other in bad shape. She was getting deaf, but still playful. The vet diagnosed her with Old Age, said her liver was enlarged and kidneys decreasing, but other than that, OKish.

She had a steady but gradual decline from 7 lbs to three, and I don't know if she went into a coma or cardiac arrest or what, but I found her one afternoon not doing well, and of course it was after the vet closed. Given her age and increasing maladies, it didn't seem prudent to rush her to the ER to save her and give her another week or days, and after watching Blue die, I kind of knew she wasn't just sick, she was in the process.

So, I held her until she left. It took two hours for her to depart from when I found her. It was not entirely peaceful, but it wasn't as bad as Blue. She's in a tin up on the shelf next to Blue.

How we went up a few cats:

Last summer, an adult cat and three kittens appeared on my deck. I fed everyone, of course. One kitten was extremely friendly (Clancy). The other two were sort of friendly (two little black boys, Sleek and Floofy). The adult long-haired tuxedo calico wasn't having any of it. I code-named her Maeve.

A few days later, a fourth kitten appeared, a little tortoiseshell with a bad hind leg limp (Tallulah). She was the most feral of the babies.

Long story short, they sorted themselves out, and the three boys went AWOL before I could tame everyone enough to catch them; Maeve disappeared but made occasional random checks on Tallulah; Tallulah came running for food twice a day and responded to her name. After a month of patience, she finally bridged the gap and made contact, but I still couldn't catch the slippery little thing.

Then Clancy returned, and he'd grown a bit!

Or so I thought.

By the time I'd grabbed him, put him in the spare bath with food, water and litter, and spent some time snuggling with him, I realized that despite resembling the AWOL Clancy in so many ways including basic personality traits, his tail tip was different from Clancy's (I had photos). Somehow, I'd managed to grab a different kitten!

So began a couple of weeks of calls, ads, etc to try to figure out whose kitten this was. Well, it turns out, he's mine... and so he is Stanislav Katarovsky, aka Stanley.

Up by one cat.

During that time, Tallulah and I made progress, and then I finally snagged her, put her in the bathroom and Stanley in a big dog crate (which had to be moved from kitchen to living room front window to stop his consistent operatic vocalizations), and she became very sweet suddenly. Everyone went to the vet, passed with flying colors, and eventually they were successfully integrated with the rest and it seems like they've always been with us.

Up by two cats.

Mid-autumn, after a few weeks of a catless deck, Maeve shows up with a very large Stanley/Clancy clone with her. Must be Daddy, I assumed. Well, Clarence, as I'd code-named him, wasn't having anything to do with me except he sure liked my food.

Maeve was suddenly VERY friendly.

In fact, she whomped Clarence to tell him to keep away, then she DEMANDED to come inside.

Well, once in... not going back out. So since the kittens were integrated already and the bathroom was free...

Up by three cats.

Then we had to wait the requisite nine weeks to treat her fleas and/or lice, see if any FIV/FLV had brewed, see if her expanding waistline was due to consistent food or impending kittens, and meanwhile winter set in and it was COLD, and Clarence for some reason decided to stick around.

So I made Clarence a Warm Box since he refused to come in, and he somehow made it through the entire deeply frigid winter. (That box was WARM. Took a large cat carrier, lined the bottom with garbage bag then old towel then put a self-warming donut cat bed inside, then covered with an old comforter folded over several times. It was well-insulated. He came out sometimes because he was too warm.)

Up by four cats.

Maeve passed all of her tests. Vet couldn't feel kittens but couldn't see that she'd been spayed either. Anticipated due date passed, no kittens. Took her to the low-cost clinic for a spay, found out AFTER anesthetic and shaving (but thankfully no cutting) that she had a spay scar but no tattoo, no microchip, no ear tip. And nobody had answered the ads, nobody reported her missing...

But she still hasn't integrated. She would go after Ophelia with such viciousness I feared she'd kill her if left unsupervised. So, Maeve has been Bathroom Cat since last October.

Spring came, Clarence decided he didn't need food or a warm box anymore, and vanished. You'd think after months of daily feeding, he might just consider that maybe I was OK. (Nope.)

Down one cat.

Ophelia died in July.

Down two cats.

Zander is having a terrible time managing his kidney disease (yes, he was diagnosed last year, early stages) and metabolic issues, and he's gotten very skinny. I worry that we'll be down another cat within a year or so, but... it is what it is.

PS: Tallulah's leg injury healed up on its own, and she defied the vet's concerns that her growth plate was affected. She's just fine, the leg works, the toes have feeling, and it grew normally. She runs and jumps like a normal kitten, and she's grown into a beautiful solid little Tortie girl.

Stanley, once he became official, began to outpace Tallulah in growth. He is ENORMOUS. He is a 10-lb kitten with the longest tail. He's a total snugglebug and has expressive paws like Blue did.

I can only think that Blue sent everyone to me to fill the huge void in my heart.

I'm working full-time now at the University and I made it back to school, but I'm having serious reconsiderations about the career path. But we'll save that for another post.

SIX CATS AND COUNTING.

Feck YOU, Hackers

Yeah, I found your nasty little piece of code that you somehow inserted into MY blog in order to hijack it. Yeah, it's been deleted. So (don't pardon my French) FUCK YOU. This is MY blog. Stay away from it, or I'll hunt you down and force-feed your own balls to you. /end public service announcement

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

RIP Blue Kitty


Blogging has gone by the wayside, thanks to the immediacy of Facebook, so this post is a week old, but still as painful to write.

My beloved alleged Russian Blue kitty (Samsara's Indigo aka Sam aka Blue) passed away in my arms here at home a week ago tonight. He was not even 10 years old yet.

In November, he'd started acting "off". He was mincing his food, and had lost a little weight. I thought it was a tooth abscess like Zander had (Zander is fine, BTW, and turned 16 today). It was an abscess, but it took a second vet to find that 10 days later. The first vet missed it, did bloodwork, and discovered Blue had signs of kidney failure and was severely dehydrated. Whether it was acute (curable) or chronic was yet unknown.

We were sent home from Vet #1 with subQ treatments, special food, and a phosphate binder (Epakitin). He wasn't eating. I tried a bazillion ways to get food into him, glued myself to the internet, and finally resorted to bottle-feeding puree of Purina NF from a feeding syringe. At the beginning, he was so out of it and reluctant to eat that I was lucky if I got 5ml into him every 48 hours.

My gut said "second opinion". Vet #2 confirmed the CRF, found the abscess, gave him a powerful antibiotic shot, and then he had dental extractions December 4th.


He came home ravenous, ate more than I'd seen him eat in weeks (and more than I ever would again), and slowly but surely began to bounce back. I added two more kidney support supplements (RenAvast, Azodyl). His appetite improved. He still wasn't keen on regular wet food, so we had a round the clock bottle-feeding regimen when I wasn't at work. He began to gain a little weight, his personality came back, and he was about 97% "back".

Then at the beginning of February, the initial symptoms returned. The constant lip licking. The refusing of food. The mee-yawning (where he yawns and meows at the top of the yawn). The hunched pose. The hiding. The really nasty breath. The withered dried up puckered look. The jaw grinding. I couldn't see an abscess, but gave him some antibiotics and a teeny dose of pain meds just in case. It didn't seem to do much.

I had just paid property tax and had about $60 to my name until the next paycheck in two weeks, so I just prayed this was just a setback, and that we could see the vet soon.

And then came the trouble breathing.

Thursday Feb 20th, I rushed him to the ER vet because he was breathing funny. The vaporizer didn't help. Thank God a friend had loaned me $200 in cash because I had nothing to give them otherwise and they expect payment before services are rendered. (No Good Samaritan fund there.)

Chest x-ray clear. Blood work awful. Oxygen tank helped some, but in their opinion, he was shutting down and might not make it through the night.

Their offerings: either hospitalize him in oxygen ($400) until we could see our vet in the morning if we wanted another opinion, or put him down.

I chose door #3. Take him home and see what happens.

He made it through the night. My vet (#2) echoed the idea that he was shutting down and waited for me to give the go-ahead for the goodbye shot.

Again, I opted for door #2, asked for a strong antibiotic shot instead (in the event it was an infection, which both had said it COULD be but probably wasn't). I wasn't going to put down my beloved soul mate knowing there might be a 0.00000001% chance it was curable, so we got the shot and went home.

He didn't change all weekend. Didn't get better, didn't get worse. My last ditch effort was to try steroids in case it was asthma (which, given how filthy I discovered our main living area was when I cleaned it that weekend, was likely, along with other symptoms he'd shown over the years that I'd blown off as nothing). Monday, he got steroids.

Tuesday morning, he was still the same. I figured that by Wednesday, he'd either be responding to the steroids, and we'd all be breathing better... or he'd be dead (if he really was shutting down).

When I got back from work Tuesday, he was in worse shape. That's when I knew. So I just gathered him in my arms, sang to him, held him, told him what a wonderful cat he'd been, and loved him until he departed. There was no time to get to the vet. Which was good because he didn't have to die in a cold sterile room, but bad because I couldn't get him relief from the respiratory distress.

I'm still in shock, and I can't understand why the remaining four aren't the least bit bothered by it. I still have Ophelia (19), Zander (16 today!), Jake (14 on 3/23) and Blue's litter brother Tyler (9), but they're unaffected.

I'm both upset with them about that, and envious that they can go on without the devastation I'm enduring. The house feels incredibly empty without him; I'd never realized what an enormous presence he had. He filled the whole room with his charisma and personality. He loved me like no cat has ever loved me, and I returned that love with an obsessive passion myself.

He was my most beloved cat, my heart cat, my bottle-fed baby orphan, my Little Blue Kitten.

Once upon a time, I had what looked to be a bonafide Russian Blue.

I will never be the same. Rest, my beloved, and return to me when you are ready.

Monday, February 10, 2014

In a Bind

Yes, I still exist. Pardon my abruptness, but let's just get right to the point.

I'm still only working part-time. Granted, it's permanent, and it pays REALLY well, but while it covers the basics, there isn't enough of a cushion for Unexpected Expenses.

I've had a few lately.

First, I had to go on a payback plan for the property tax that had a small delinquency left over from when I wasn't working. Out of the five installments that are spread out over the next four half-year due dates (the first paid when I signed the agreement), Installment #2 is the trickiest. Three months in which to save up the installment PLUS the half-year amount--equal to two month's wages. (I can swing the July payment in five months and next February's in seven, but three months, after paying last July's taxes plus an installment in October? Seriously?)

I was close (no Christmas for me this year), but then the cat got sick, and what was supposed to be a minor financial ding turned into ever-mounting costs as surgery, supplements, special food, etc was added in.

Bye-bye, property tax money.

To avoid saying "hello foreclosure on the house in which I grew up over the mere sum of $2,000", I need to generate some cash fast. I've managed to save up a good chunk of it again, but I am still going to be short on Friday without a miracle.

I know my fundraiser (link below) is asking for the full amount, but as I've gathered some, I'd be happy if the $462 I've collected could increase to $1,000.

So I'm putting it out to the blogosphere to ask for help. Please share, contribute what you can, and if you prefer to send directly to paypal, my email addy is in the fundraiser story. The details of Blue's illness are in there, too. He's holding his own, but we have to fix this problem.

I'm not asking for much, just a few hundred total to bridge that gap. Every five, ten, and twenty dollar contribution helps.

Thanks in advance!

http://www.gofundme.com/SavetheMewCrewsHome

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Moved Feed From Google to Bloglovin.

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/9005511/?claim=ujgrdeukbpq">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

If you're using Google Reader, it's going bye-bye in a few days. If you're looking for a great new feed reader to use, that will import your Google feeds nicely (even for people like me with dinosaur computers), try Bloglovin.com.

The only reason this post exists is to allow me to claim my blog there. Laterz...

Friday, May 17, 2013

New Obsession

Hey, yeah, I'm still alive. Facebook has swallowed me whole.

No, that's not the new obsession. 

It's Zentangle®.

Visit the link to learn more about it. Let's just say that for the moment, I am so consumed by it that I haven't touched needles in awhile. Well, that and I was working two part-time jobs there for awhile, nothing like 10a-10p to keep you from doing much else other than sleep/work/sleep/work.

Now, I'm back down to one part-time job.No, I didn't get the other less-appealing part-time second job I was agonizing over in the last post. All that agonizing, and they pretty much suddenly ended my contract with the temp agency without so much as a warning. (That the supervisor purposely avoided me every time I tried to sit down and have a chat with her should have told me something. Face it--they were just using me, they weren't interested in hiring me on, they just smooged me to keep me doing their dog work until they got their quotas met.)

But it's all good. I'm focusing on being the best department secretary I can be, at the university. And I LOVE IT. I mean, for a job. It's not my life's passion, but it's a great job. It pays very well, there are perks, and the only downside is that it's not full-time so I don't get health benefits.

But it's a start. Foot firmly wedged in ye olde door. It's all--why do we say it's all uphill from here? Wouldn't it be easier if the trip was downhill? Uphill requires slogging along with effort.

Whatever. It's all UP and GOOD from here.

Anyway, I may blog more, but I'll likely be over at the new blog, The Wranglin' Tangler. My two main obsessions are horses (wranglin') and art (tanglin'/Zentangle). So I combined them. We'll see how long this lasts. I might just merge everything into one blog, because separate blogs for each interest gets unwieldy.

Yes, I still freak over fibers. What I foresee is that once I have tangling firmly under my belt, it will spread into my other artistic forays. I have hazy visions forming in my mind about that.

So ends the long drawn out saga of Estate, poverty, and job seeking. There is just one small thing. Hold me in good thoughts next Wednesday. They're auctioning off the Albatross, and I really hope they get a good enough price that I'm forever released from my dealings with Filthy Turd Bank.

See you in Zentangle-land. Or here. Depending on what I need to post.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In Most Ways, Life is Better Now

My, how things change.

I have two jobs. Both part-time. I finally got IN at the University—yay me!—and I LOVE it there. Started after Thanksgiving. I'm a secretary in one of the departments and my bosses are professors. I'm immersed in academia and I could not be happier.

Except if it was full-time with benefits, but other than that, I LOVE it.

The other job is a temp job I took at the end of September out of sheer desperation. I was down to $15. I mean TOTAL. Then the temp agency called with a short-term project. Catch: it's a 20-minute drive away. I wasn't sure I'd have the gas to make it up and back for a week. Thanks to the kindness of near-strangers, I was able to make it there and back and survive until the first paycheck. Short-term turned into longer-term, and if I can just make it to mid-February, I'll have fulfilled the 500-hour quota and I'll be able to be hired away permanently.

And therein lies the rub.

My current schedule is, I work at the University 10-3 M-F. I leave the University, swallow a sandwich on the drive to Job #2, and work there from 4-ish to 10ish M-Th. (I was going M-F, but I couldn't hack it. I made the decision to forego the extra net $30 and just have Friday evenings free.) Then I drive home, bleary-eyed and tired, after 10.5 hours of work with no real break, at 10:30 at night. I snuggle with the cats for an hour or so, then sleep, then get up and do it again.

Even with two full weekend days to "rest", I am, in a word, exhausted.

I think about knitting, weaving, painting, dyeing yarn, creating art. But I'm too tired to lift a brush, a heddle or a knitting needle. Even on weekends. If it weren't for needing clean underwear, I wouldn't even bother with laundry. No, don't ask what the house looks like.

My Facebook time has decreased considerably. I skim. Heck, I even quit playing FarmVille. Not for good—I don't think—but I simply do not have time to manage seven or eight or however many farms they're up to now AND work two jobs. And sleep.

The rub is, do I WANT to be hired in permanently at Job #2?

Job #2 is, well, it pays a bit above minimum. Job #1 at the University pays twice that. I really don't NEED Job #2 to be able to live, but my thinking has been, keeping Job #2 speeds up how fast I can get out of debt and regrow my savings and maybe improve my life.

Except, as tired as I am, is that really an improvement?

Job #2 is also hard on me physically. Vocally. I've been assigned to a multitude of projects, but the majority of them have involved my calling people for seven hours straight (when I worked almost full-time there), giving the same repetitive spiel or survey, and we all know what that does to my voice. I am having issues now. I see a doctor Thursday. I've spoken with the higher-ups. Hopefully, I'll move into projects this week that are email-based, not phone-based.

The only reason I'm staying on at Job #2 is because they have a position called proofreading. Which I apparently can't do as a temp. But I've passed the test, so if/when an opening arises, I could be hired. And they get to work from home. Which I could do. Because then I wouldn't have to drive back and forth. It would also save gas money.

I just don't know if I can keep this up until mid-February and 500 hours without negatively affecting Job #1. When I get too tired, I become less effective and my intuition falters. I am not as alert or quick. And as a secretary, with a new semester approaching, I need to be ON TOP of things. And there is no guarantee there will even BE an opening for a proofer at that time. I don't know how long I might have to drive back and forth and do God knows what before the position I seek becomes available.

Never mind trying to play with a horse. Or do art. Or deal with the bank. We won't talk about how the bank changed the locks on my house without informing me of it, and blew the ONE potential sale I finally got. I had an interested buyer, but the lock change made them wonder if I was in foreclosure, and they lost interest. Let it be known: Fifth Third Bank plays nasty games, keeps you dangling, lies about not getting paperwork then backpedals when you point out which page said "missing" paperwork is on, finds endless loopholes to use against you so they don't have to take a deed in lieu, allow you to short sale, give you modification, or work with you in any way. They are cheating me out of MY equity, and they deserve to go down. Let it be known, Fifth Third Bank is a bunch of cheating, lying SCUMBAGS, and they should be boycotted.

Oh, well. Karma's a bitch, and I'm looking forward to hearing about their karma. One day.

But as far as everything else goes, I'm happy. I have one job I love. I have another job that helps. I have healthy cats, one who turned 18 this fall, and a healthy horse, and I'm alive.

I'm not knitting a whole lot, but I'm alive.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Redundantly Alive

I go for months, don't I? Then I post something like "I'm still alive".

Well, I am. 

Not a whole lot happening.

House #2 STILL on the market. It's a race to the finish line—will I sell it, or will the bank get it? Stay tuned...

Horseplay continues. I'm hanging in there with the horse. He had a leaser; she fell off a different horse, broke ribs, laid up, had to unlease; got another leaser, who after a month wanted to move him to some strange barn closer to home and "retrain" him (excuse me? Whose horse is this?) to do what she wanted (barrel racing), but then might be going to some foreign country to stay with her beau for a month, so that fell through (thankfully).

After a stellar session with my horse last week, another fascinating session with a mare in training, and my first unplanned experience giving a riding lesson, I've decided this IS where I want to be. So no more leasers unless they behave; all I need is one winning lottery ticket or a good job and I'll be set.

Sold some yarn to Australia and Japan—the nice thing about yarn? It's light. Shipping costs are very low. Makes me glad I didn't pick ceramics or jewelry as a paid hobby.

Cats are fine. Zander has some weight loss issues, but the vet's tests showed a NORMAL thyroid (explains why the old vet's thyroid meds failed) and diagnosed a food allergy. He was down to 7.2 lbs (on a long cat). Steroids and food change boosted him to 9.4. He's off the 'roids and holding steady at 9.2 which is skinny but less dead-cat-warmed-over than he was. (I'm glad he's off the 'roids. They made him a bit too... uh... affectionate, if you know what I mean.)

Still seeking employment. What's that myth about going out and getting any old job, even a low-wage at McD's? Have you tried applying at McD's lately? It's not what it used to be. No longer does one walk in, fill out the app, speak with the manager, and get the uniform and a schedule. Nope. Nowadays, you apply online, you wait for them to call you, and if it's a big box store, you do an hour-long computerized personality assessment that isn't as easy to pass as you'd think. Then, rumor has it from people employed by Big Box Store, you go through three rounds of interviews before they hire you. For a low-wage job running a cash register or restocking laundry detergent.

I only had to go through one round at the University for high-paying jobs (that I didn't get).

And that's how the skein unfurls. Oh. There's still a bit of knitting. I've taught a few classes locally but haven't knit much this summer. Too sticky and hot.