24 July 2010

The End of the Jihad

Before I go any further, let me thank all of you for the kind notes and words you sent about the Garden Kitty.  I will try to respond individually, but it may take some time.  And for a lot of you, I'm not sure I have an e-mail address.  Nonetheless, we appreciated your kindness.

Unfortunately, there is more bad news. We just came back [again] from the Cat Hospital, where we said goodbye to Tess. As you may or may not know, she had been diagnosed with cancer and then a few years later, with kidney disease. This was years ago, and we were told she would probably live three more years at the most. Those of you who knew Tess, though, know that she did every single thing in her life on her terms, no matter what anyone else said/wanted/thought. So we were lucky enough to have her with us for another six years. And she had been starting to slow down over the past few months, but it seems that she failed quickly when the Garden Kitty started to fail. Either in sympathy, solidarity, or just plain old coincidence, but by last night she was barely able to move, and kept crying. I stayed up with her as long as I could, and then got up to be with her early this morning. Fortunately, the dr at the Cat Hospital on duty today arrived early, and told us to bring her up as soon as we could.

So we took her with her favorite sheepskin for a bed, and her favorite toys, and talked, sang, kissed, and petted her for as long as we could. She sneezed/sniffled a few times when the dr gave her the final injection (because she is after all, Tess!), but she was very peaceful and quiet and we feel that she finally was able to relax and not think she needed to hang on for us.

We have always joked that Tess was running a Kitty Jihad and World Domination Plan (KJWDP), because she was such a character. But even the greatest masterminds have to rest sometime, and she was very tired.

Tess was also the last kitty who remembered our Molly, so although that is a sad thought for us, we are happy that The Girls are all together again.

Once again, I am asking you to hug and kiss your family of all kinds, and to keep a kind thought for our Tess. All of this has thrown us for quite a loop, but at least we know that everyone is safe, sound, and no longer sick. The Tim, Jetsam, and I have a lot of adjustments to make all of a sudden, but we are all relieved that our sweet boy and girl are in a good place.

Here is a picture of Tess, showing her sweetness and calico-nicity. She was the best ever.  Always.

God bless you, sweet girl.  Thank you for finding us.
We love you.  Forever.

21 July 2010

Flights of Angels

Just a little while ago, The Tim and I got home from saying goodbye to our Garden Kitty.  The shock of it makes it still seem not real.

A little more than a month ago, it seemed that he just didn't feel too well. He was mostly his usual self, but had problems with the litter box and threw up pretty frequently, which for him was unusual. I took him to the vet, and she weighed him, and he had lost 5 pounds within a 2 year period, which is a lot for most cats. They did blood and urine work then, and nothing looked too much out of the ordinary. She suggested we change his food, in case he had something like irritable bowel syndrome, and if that didn't help, suggested an abdominal ultrasound. We knew it might not bring good news, but were hoping it would be something that could be treated even if a chronic condition.

By the time I took him to the vet this morning and dropped him off, he had clearly not been feeling well for a few days, and had also clearly lost more weight. He didn't seem to be in pain, which I am grateful for, but he was not his usual self. The vet called and talked to The Tim (who didn't have to be at work until this evening), and said that Garden Kitty appeared to have cancer that had spread even to his lymph nodes already. She said that if we wanted her to prescribe steroids to keep him comfortable, or anything else, she would, but that he was very frail.

There was no way we wanted our sweet boy to have to linger any longer than necessary. So we made one of the saddest decisions anyone has to ever make. We took a few of his favorite toys, and he seemed very happy to see us, and them. We talked and sang to him like he liked, and he purred up a storm. When the vet finally gave him the injection, he was relaxed and knew that we were there. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but we should all be so lucky to have our last moments be with those we love, and who love us.

So if you will, give any of your family members - of all kinds! - a special hug, pat, or kiss tonight.  And keep a kind thought for the Garden Kitty.  I know he'll miss us, but he has a lot of company in heaven to cuddle with and play with and love.  Words cannot describe how much we will miss him, but we do take comfort in knowing that he knew he was loved, and that he'll never really be gone from our lives and our family.

And I don't think William Shakespeare would mind that I use something of his to suit my purposes.  So I can only say,

"Goodnight, sweet Garden Kitty boy, and may flights of angels sing thee to they rest."
We love you, baby boy.  Always.

18 July 2010

Coming Soon to a Blog or Ravelry Site Near You ...

My very own Stash-a-ganza! 

Yesterday I went through the old stasheroo and found a lot of yarn that a) I realized that I am not sure why I ever bought it, b) was gifted to me, and I'm only "meh" about it, or c) I know that I will just not likely ever use for anything. 

So it's all set aside from the yarn I am keeping, and as soon as I can get organized enough to have pictures and descriptions available, I'll be selling it to any interested parties.  I do have to say that even if it's stuff I'm not gonna use and therefore am selling, it's all nice yarn.  I think there just may be things that some of you would want to give a good home to ... I will likely post things on Ravelry, but will also make the info and/or list available to anyone who might have an account there.  (And really, you should because it is free, they don't bug you with advertising, and did I mention it's free?)

Details to come, but save your pennies!

In other news, thank you all for your sympathy and kind words after my last post.  My hand and fingers did in fact feel much better the next day, and I have resumed assembling the Pickle Cardigan.  It's looking better, but not perfect.  But I have so seldom done finishing, I can't expect perfection immediately.  As long as it looks acceptable at all, I'll be happy.

See you later, ducks!

15 July 2010

The Case of the Missing Brain

So I decided that this week, no matter what the weather was like, what book I was engrossed in, or what else was happening, that I would sew together the pieces of the Pickle Cardigan.   Theoretically, this means that I could knit the button bands and the neck, sew on the buttons and voila!  I would even still be able to wear it if I was somewhere where the a/c was blasting out Arctic air.


Sunday morning:  Lay out pieces on flat surface, take out Chibi needle, yarn, scissors.  Attach one of the front pieces to the back.  Quite pleased with self, even though it doesn't look *quite* like I'd hoped.  Put it away to work on again another time, since I had to get dressed to go to my Sunday shift at Rosie's.

Monday evening:  Pull out work from Sunday morning, deciding it just looks wrong.  Re-do.  Looks the same.  Back in the bag.

Tuesday evening:  Decide to carry on, and attach other front to the back.  Hm.  Looks worse.  Pulled out.  Re-done.  Still looks questionable.  Back in the bag.

Wednesday evening: Determined to get it right.  Pull out everything, and re-do it.  Twice.  Aarrgh, it still looks icky!  Back in the bag.

Just before falling asleep:  It suddenly dawns on me that the reason it looked so crappy each time was because I was doing it incorrectly!  Can visualize proper way to do it in brain, but it is late and on Thursday I will be in charge at work, so I must go to sleep.

Today:  Had a decent night's sleep.  Got to work - no electricity in the library, and bathroom toilet overflows, causing one patron to ask, "The sign on the bathroom door says 'Out of order' - does that mean we can't use it?"  Consider pushing him into bathroom and closing door, locking it.  Instead, say politely "That's what that means, you'll have to use the bathroom down the hall."  Electricity finally comes on about 11:30.  Rest of the day passes without major problems.  Get home, eat dinner, feed cats, wash dishes, pack lunch for tomorrow.  Go to brush teeth, and get two fingers caught in door of bathroom cabinet that has suddenly been repaired after two years.  Said fingers swollen and painful, causing entire hand to hurt.  Can type using right hand only, but cannot hold a needle, etc. in right hand to work on sweater, as I am left-handed.

Am trying to be philosophical by telling myself that a) tomorrow is another day, and b) fingers and hand will feel better, and I'll have the weekend to take my time sewing the pieces together. 

Also?  Hoping brain keeps hold of proper seaming technique ...

10 July 2010

Beauty and the Book

I do amuse myself (and usually only myself) on a regular basis.  Example?  The title of this post. 

The Beauty part?  Well, a couple of weeks ago, Wendy listed me in her list of people to award the Beautiful Blogger Award.  I was very pleasantly surprised, because next to Wendy and the other people on her list, there doesn't seem to be a connection with me.  Rather than wonder why I was included, I decided to just take the compliment and go forward!

I am now supposed to list 10 interesting things about myself, and then pass along the award to others who deserve it.  So take a seat and prepare to be interested/fascinated by 10 things that are all about me:

1.  People who work with me, or spend time with me, often think I'm a total extrovert.  In reality, I am a true introvert.  Those who truly know me do not find this surprising at all.

2.  Though I am somewhat conservative in my own personal behavior , I am a bleeding heart, extremely leftist, socialist liberal when it comes to the rest of the world.  My personal behavior is often affected by my desire to be left alone by the rest of said world.  I know, is a puzzlement.

3.  In those quizzes where you choose to live either near water or mountains to determine your personality, I am stumped.  I do not care to give up one for the other, thank you very much.

4.  If I had an unlimited amount of money, I would collect all the homeless and abused animals in the world and let them live happy, lavish lives.  I am often truly depressed that I cannot do such a thing.  It's quite possibly the only time I obsessively wish I had money.

5.  I love to write.  Letters, stories, whatever.  Typing is OK, as far as wanting to get the message across, but I also truly love the physical act of writing.  And handwriting is fascinating to me.  This comes in handy working in historical settings, where "old" handwriting often needs to be deciphered.

6.  I have many acquaintances, but very few friends.  And those few know that I am unlikely to call them on the phone, as that is my least favorite form of communication.

7.  Unlike most people, I never had a burning desire to own a home.  I only thought it was a good idea when The Tim pointed out to me that if we had our own house, a) I could have whatever pets I wanted, and b) there would be more room for Christmas decorations. 

8.  I think of myself as a spiritual person, and regularly converse with my preferred form of deity.

9.  I am completely happy knowing that I come from a family that is truly, weirdly, crazy.  Fact is, we are happier than most "normal" families we know, or that I hear about.

10.  This one is a One Degree of Separation Interesting Thing:  My niece, Julie, is nominated for an Emmy!  She is the Senior Producer listed in the nomination for Top Chef as a reality show -go Jules!!

And now my choices for passing the Beautiful Blogger Award.  When thinking about it, I realized that these are people who regularly seem to find beauty in their everyday lives, without worry or apology if no one else "gets" it.

Now, before signing off - it's time for the Book part of this post.  I really do wish that I had more than one copy to give away, but Three Bags Full will be finding its way to Kim's mailbox soon.  And by "soon," I mean whenever I can make it to the P.O. without heat stroke ...

Have a good weekend, everyone!

08 July 2010

Moving Right Along ...

Yes, I'm miserable in the heat we have been having.  But you knew that, and [unfortunately] talking about it changes nothing.  So I'm moving on, and thinking thoughts of fall and winter to keep me going.

Which has - believe it or not - gotten me to start thinking about things I'd like to knit for fall and winter.  For instance, it would be nice if I could actually have these knit and ready to wear when the weather gets really cold.  So maybe I could start them soon, right?  I mean, I have the yarn.

Yeah, well, the road to hell and all that ...

I have started a new project, though, which so far is going quite nicely, thank you very much.

This is sock #1 of the Dublin Bay Socks, using some yarn I have had for a long time.  As a matter of fact, it's the Parrots colorway of some yarn from Black Bunny Fibers.  (I bought this when Carol first started her Etsy store!)

(Were there enough links in that paragraph?  Discuss.)

I am enjoying the pattern and the yarn, and am nearly finished to the heel of the first sock.  These will be for me, which is also exciting, since, for all the socks that I knit, I rarely keep any of them for myself.  I also have a couple of other things in mind to do, it's just a matter of deciding what will be next.  Or seeing if something new and shiny distracts me altogether!

Oh, and remember the sock project that I was keeping in my locker at work, and would knit from time to time at lunchtime?  Behold, the Locker Socks!

I love how these turned out!  Now I just need to decide if The Tim would like to have them, or if they will be a holiday gift.

As you can see, I have made knitting progress in spite of spending most of my spare time whining.  I wonder if I could call it multitasking?  Hm.

05 July 2010

May and June Book Report

As I mentioned in a previous post, I really haven't read as many books as I usually try to during the past couple of months.  I was busy catching up on magazines, and just trying to slog through the heat and humidity we've had around here lately (and are still having). 

Anyway, here are the things that I finished during May and June.

Three Bags Full : A Sheep Detective Story, by Leonie Swann.  I had been wanting to read this book for a while, and finally got a copy. The story takes place in a small town in Ireland, where a shepherd has been murdered, and everyone is wondering who the culprit was. The townspeople of course have their theories, but the focus of this book is the decision by the sheep in the late shepherd's flock to band together and try to solve this murder mystery.

The sheep were very fond of George, their shepherd, and cannot believe that anyone would want him out of the way. Each member of the flock has a place in the story, and helps to eventually figure out not just what happened, but why. They also make it possible for the townspeople to learn of their results.

I liked this book; I found the idea of sheep "detectives" to be one that would either fail terribly or be enjoyable, and in my opinion book falls into the latter category. The observations of the animals about various human characters, and the descriptions of the sensory information that could be transmitted to the flock without the human even knowing it were things that appealed to me. I was amused that the primary female sheep detective was named Miss Maple, and that the black sheep was Othello. The overheard conversations had by the human characters were true examples of comments people will make when they have no reason to think anyone important is listening.

I will admit that I took a long time to read this book, partly because I was enjoying it so much, and partly because I would only sit down to read it when I had time to read more than 10 or 15 pages at a time.

I think that Swann does a good job of making the characters lively and alive, and the dialogue was often pretty amusing. This is not an intense, literary work, but I found it well worth reading.

The Code of the Woosters, by P.G. Wodehouse.  Actually, I listened to this from an audio version of this produced by the BBC. Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia assigns him to go to an antique store and pooh-pooh a silver cow creamer, hoping that the store owner will mark down the price so her husband can buy it. Needless to say, Bertie runs into trouble, in the form of Sir Watkyn Bassett, who is also interested in the cow creamer. And of course, there is a mixup so that it appears that Bertie was trying to steal the cow creamer.

Through a series of events that only occur in Bertie Wooster's world, he is also planning a visit to the estate of Madeline Bassett, who is engaged to his friend Gussie Finknottle [editorial note: best character name ever!], to provide moral support for Gussie. Once again, misunderstandings and ridiculous situations ensue, with Bertie right in the thick of it, and Jeeves once again coming to the rescue.

I am familiar with this story, but hearing it again was just as entertaining as it was the first time. Wodehouse has created characters that never cease to amuse me, living in one of my favorite time periods. Normally someone like Bertie Wooster would really irritate me, but he is just so happy with himself all of the time, and lives such a "jolly" life, it's hard not to enjoy his antics. Plus, he has friends with such stupidly great names, i.e., "Stinker" Pinker, who are also for the most part pretty worthless, and often make Bertie look like the brains of the outfit.

The only TV dramatization I've ever seen of these stories had Hugh Laurie as Bertie and Stephen Fry as Jeeves. No matter when I read the stories, or hear them, those two will always be in my head as those characters.

Everyone needs some Bertie Wooster in their lives every once in a while, if you ask me!

Just Take My Heart, by Mary Higgins Clark.  Another Mary Higgins Clark entry, this time intertwining two womens' lives in a way that I didn't really expect. Emily Wallace is given the assignment of proving that the husband of a rising Broadway star killed her. The story of the victim and her past as well as that of Emily come together in a very interesting manner. Emily has her case all figured out - or so she thinks. Along the way, people and circumstances start to worry her, and she is no longer 100% convinced that the defendant is guilty.

In the meantime, Emily's personal life is getting weird, thanks to her creepy next-door neighbor, who is spying on her.

As with most of Mary Higgins Clark's books, the story develops for most of the book and then things start happening all at once right at the end.

If you are in the mood for a creepy and entertaining story, this one was a good read as far as I'm concerned.

The Three Weismanns of  Westport, by Cathleen Schine.  This was another book that I had read reviews about, and thought might be fun to read. I found a copy at the library, and snapped it up off the shelf before anyone else could get it!

The characters in the title are a mother and her two grown daughters, all of whom move to a cousin's house on the beach in Westport, Connecticut when various things start to go wrong in their lives.

The book starts when Betty Weismann learns that her husband Joseph has plans to divorce her and marry his younger assistant. Betty and Joseph have been married for 50 years, and at first, Betty doesn't believe what she is hearing. But soon enough, it's all too clear that Joseph is in fact ending the marriage. While things are being straightened out, she is forced to leave her New York City apartment and take refuge in a house owned by a cousin who swoops in to help at just the right time. Her daughter Miranda, who had been a very successful literary agent, sees her business fall apart when one of her authors admits to making up the information in his memoir. The other daughter, Annie, is a librarian who is drowning in debt, and is coming close to losing her apartment. She sublets it and heads to Westport as well, to join her mother and younger sister to be sure that someone "responsible" is there with them.

The book covers a year in their lives, and reveals each character's hopes, dreams, and flaws. The cast of supporting characters are very well-drawn, and for the most part, believable. There are some very funny parts, but in the end, the book is rather sad, in the sense of evoking a what-could-have-been feeling.

The characters of Joseph and his new wife Felicity, are not as well-developed and as a result, Joseph seems like a wuss and Felicity like a golddigger. Which may be the point, but I wished a couple of times that I could have some clue as to why they acted the way they did.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and found aspects of the story ones that seem to be sadly played out in real life for too many people.

Two of these were library books, and one was a downloaded audiobook, so the only book that is up for grabs is Three Bags Full.  Let me know by the end of the day on Thursday, July 8, if you are interested.  I'll do some name pickin' out of a hat or something if more than one person would like it.

04 July 2010

In Congress, July 4, 1776

"And for the support of this Declaration,
with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,
we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

02 July 2010

Long Weekend!

Hooray!  A three-day weekend!  And tomorrow at least is supposed to be somewhat reasonable in the weather department, so I shall enjoy it while I can.  'Cause then, if the forecast is correct, it's all downhill ...

We have no particular plans, which is fine with both of us.  In May and June, we had an unusual (for us) amount of traveling and visiting, and though it was a lot of fun, it's nice to have this weekend to ourselves.  There's a good chance we may go to the shore tomorrow for the day, which will only be the second time so far this year we have been there.  The last time it was just too hot to be pleasant, even there, unless you were literally standing in the water.

This has been a weird week, in the sense that it feels like a little bit of everything happened, emotions-wise.  I guess that's bound to happen every once in a while, but this time I was taken by surprise, I must admit.  Next week will be weird at work, since practically everyone I know will be taking the week as vacation.  It's already quiet, with a lot of the scientists on field study trips. 

In knitting news, I finally had the chance to go to the Thursday Lunchtime Knitting Group at work, and it was great.  Though I was the only one who actually ate lunch - everyone else just knitted the whole time.  I think they are in jobs where they can eat at their desks while working on something, and I can't do that.  Anyway, I've started the Dublin Bay Socks, which I've wanted to make forever.  So far I have the cuff and 12 rows of the leg knit.  I think I "get" the pattern though, so I shouldn't have to slowly count every stitch of the pattern rows, though I hope I don't get too confident, and realize inches later that I've screwed up ...  Anyway, once I have a chance to get a picture, I'll share it here so that you can be as up-to-date as possible, which I know is of the utmost importance to all of you ...

I know I didn't post a book report for May (because in the whole month, I read only ONE book - geez), but I've decided to combine my reports for May and June, so I'll be posting that soon.  Not that I read many more books in June, but at least there will be books instead of book, you know?  I had a period of catching up on magazines, and so most of what I've read lately has been in that form.  Which I enjoy, but every once in a while I get behind, and then there's a stack of them.  God forbid I recycle them without even looking at every page, so then it's time for magazine-o-rama.

Also, Wendy was nice enought to tag me for an award, so I'll post about that soon as well. 

In the meantime, I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend, whether it's two days or three!

"Well Wilbur, a three-day weekend sounds like a good idea to me."