Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Then this happened

So, not how I'd planned to spend Tuesday.

I spent yesterday afternoon, evening, and overnight in Beverly Hospital hooked up to monitors, to see if my chest and back discomfort were from a heart attack.

Apparently not, as I am a free woman again.

At least the food was remarkably good, and the hospital staff were likewise.

The cats survived my absence thanks to my friend Jean's care. Peanut was the only one in the evening who dared to come out of hiding; Sally also dared for breakfast; so I suspect much of what Jean set out for the others was gobbled up by (as Jean called him) Tyrannosaurus Peanut. Perhaps that's why today he's having a bit of potty woes and vomiting. I expect his intestines will settle down now that I'm home and he's back to his usual feeding routine. Stanley's being more clingy than the others now that I've returned.

And so it goes.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

More Home Improvement!

My townhouse condo has a garage underneath. The original design of these units had the garage portion of the basement going all the way back to the rear wall, leaving one side with just stairs to the first floor and a narrow corridor running beside the garage divider wall, leading to the washer/dryer hookups, furnace, and water heater. The people I bought it from had closed off the rear part of the garage to make a small room the width of the unit and maybe a dozen feet deep from the garage end wall to the back wall, with finished sheetrocked walls hiding the concrete. They put down carpet on the stairs, corridor, and little room.

This added room makes doing laundry a lot easier since I have space for a card table to dump the laundry bag onto and to pile the laundry on when it comes out of the dryer. The room itself is good for storage, and of course has accumulated stuff, including four shelving units, over the years. Meanwhile, the carpet -- a dull maroon with rows of little gray lozenges -- has gotten shabbier and shabbier, as have the boring linen white walls and trim.

A while ago I had the stairway and most of the corridor repainted in basic white with caramel-brown trim. The room was so full of stuff, though, that I left it undone. The redone area looked a lot better, though the carpet didn't go well with the new scheme. The carpet, in fact, looked downright ugly.

So I'm having it replaced, with a tough new carpet in dark brown/black with caramel flakes. It should look great with the white walls and caramel trim. And of course, since I have to move all that stuff to clear the area for the new carpet, I might as well get the rest of the basement repainted -- right?

So over the last week or so I've been moving things to the garage -- which, of course, required moving stuff out of the garage, rearranging stuff staying the in the garage, and in general upending both areas. There've been two trips to the transfer station so far to recycle as much as I can; one big item going out in today's trash, with two more slated to go in the next two weeks; a big bag of chuckouts in today's regular trash bin; and in general a redding up and reconfiguration that both spaces desperately needed. The garage itself wanted sweeping out, and got it today.

The job isn't finished yet; I'm pacing myself, doing an hour here, a half hour there; but this morning I made a huge dent in the project, and looking at the fruits of my labor afterwards was sooooo satisfying.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Local News Update

About yesterday's fire: More bad news today.

Crews from the fire department and the town DPW were in the woods today, hunting down hot spots and taking down damaged trees. Apparently when the fire burned over the ridge from Pineswamp into the woods above Linebrook Road it was intense enough to go up some trees instead of just burning through the leaf litter and underbrush, which is what Jean and I saw yesterday.

We walked up Pineswamp around 10:30 this morning to see what we could see, and learned that one of the men cleaning up in the woods had been just struck by a falling tree and was going to be medflighted out. We saw the helicopter go over us, headed for Bialek Park (which our little side street abuts) where there's a field big enough for it to land safely, then head back away toward whatever hospital would be receiving the man. Story here:

We went up about a mile along Pineswamp, past the point we'd reached yesterday. There wasn't a massed presence of fire trucks as there had been the day before, but firemen were at work overhauling the burned area, with hundreds of yards of fire hose running along the edge of the road from the only available fire hydrant to a pumper engine serving one crew working up into the woods. There aren't many houses along there, but we could see that the fire had come within a few dozen yards of some of them.

There was some rain last night, but not enough to do much good. It was pushing 80 degrees today, with variable winds. From what we could gather, the fire crews were in there all day and expect to go back for more mopping up tomorrow.

Update, April 20:

Update on the DPW worker the tree fell on while cleaning up after the forest fire:

I went to the town transfer station yesterday and was talking to the attendant. Turns out he was right there when the tree fell on the guy. Says he got hurt pretty bad: broken shoulder, ribs, leg, and a lot of skin on his arm and side ripped off. But should recover, or at least survive.

He also said the homeowner whose blown-away kindling started it had been taking down trees in back of his property and had six burn piles of slash set up ready to light. I guess we should be grateful he didn't get any of them started before the wind grabbed his fire and sent it into the forest.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Local News

So, this happened in my area today:

I came home around 2:00 p.m. from various errands to find the air around my condo smoky and nearby Pineswamp Road blocked off to cars other than residents'. My friend Jean was talking to a neighbor when I pulled in, and she told me the smoke had been even more intense earlier; she and I strolled up Pineswamp to see what was going on.

We watched for a while from the same place that the photographer was standing when he took the shot of the line of fire trucks along the edge of the woods, in the slide show at the bottom of the story. Lots of smoke up on the hillside in the woods, and we could see bursts of flame whenever the wind gusted, as the fire advanced along the ridge. We watched for over an hour, chatting with neighbors, hearing the State Police helicopter flying overhead.

By the time we left, things seemed to be getting under control despite the difficulty of fire fighting in the thick woods, with only one (I believe nonfunctioning) nearby fire hydrant on the Pineswamp side of the ridge, though there was a water source on the other side. Lotta lotta woods in my town, and they're tinder-dry right now despite recent rain, so this sort of thing does capture one's attention. We should be getting some showers overnight, which hopefully will quench any hot spots the firefighters may have missed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


New mattress! Got a new mattress yesterday!

I'd been waking up with an aching back for a while now, so off I went on Monday to the local mattress store (The Mattress Firm, successor to Sleepy's) to check out what I could find. Tried several, starting with the firmest (red-color-coded), since I'd been sleeping for years upon years on a firm mattress, but found what seemed most comfortable in the next level down (orange-coded).

Boy, I gotta say, that company does customer service well. Not only was the delivery on time -- a bit early, in fact -- but I could track the truck's progress on a handy web page, see exactly where it was and get a 30-minute window of when I'd be seeing them, got a confirming call from the driver as they were setting out from their preceding stop. The delivery of the new and removal of the old was fast, efficient, and tidy.

So, last night I finally slept on my gigantic new mountain! Oh, yeh -- my 20-year-old mattress was about a foot thick. This new one has gotta be half a foot thicker (and you wouldn't believe how much thicker than that some of the high-end mattresses at the store were!) and getting into bed -- a bed almost a hundred years old, made in a time when mattresses and box springs weren't nearly as plump -- was its own little adventure. And off to dreamland.... with the usual couple of awakenings for bathroom runs, of course....

I noticed during the night and in the morning how much more I was sinking into this plush-top mattress than my very firm old one (which was firm even in the mild trough that had developed over the years). I noticed it retained somewhat my body's impression when I arose. Oh, no! Had I made a terrible mistake?

Well.... No. No, I don't think so. Because when I crawled out of bed this morning, found my footing way down there and stood up....


No aching back. No aching hips. Even my grumpy knees felt better. No feeling tired despite the night's sleep. Best night's sleep I'd had in, well, I dunno how long.

The salesman had said (and the promotional literature did too) that back sleepers need firmest, side sleepers need softer, and front sleepers need softest of all. I start my nights on my side and often awake to find myself on my back, pinned down by Schooner. So... maybe all those years of thinking I needed a firm mattress, I was wrong?

We'll see if it still works as well over the 120-day trial period The Mattress Firm offers -- yes, four months!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The morning Squash report

So far, so good. He ate his supper with Miralax sprinkles, gobbled it all down, and had a good breakfast too. So far I haven't heard or seen any vomit. He’s bright, chipper, and energetic.

Unfortunately, the detente with Peanut seems to have suffered a setback; he’s back to being wary of Mr. Grumpy Face, who’s back to staring at him, and has returned to lurking in the basement. Hopefully this will wear off along with the smell of the vet’s office.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Squash Survives

So, here's the scoop on Squash. What the x-rays showed was probably fecal matter and gas. His bloodwork was perfectly fine, and his teeth aren't all that bad considering his age. He got a large dose of subcu fluids plus an anti-emetic/anti-nausea shot that should be good for 12 hours, by which time hopefully tonight's dose of Miralax in his supper wet food will have moved the problem along.

He's to have a once-daily dose of Miralax for a few days, then every other day for a couple more. Till now he's been getting a mix of different dry kibble at lunch, pate canned at breakfast and supper. The canned will continue; his lunch will be primarily Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Veterinary Digestive Fiber Diet, plus a bit of dental and Calm. The vet is very positive about Royal Canin -- not only healthful but highly palatable.

I'm told he behaved pretty well at the vet's, only dinged the vet once, and missed her eye -- and that was from panicked flailing, not aggressive intent. He was delighted to get home, of course; skittered around for a bit, then camped out in the basement in his usual perch. He emerged at suppertime, ate every bit of his meal, and so far as I can tell still hasn't vomited three hours later. He returned to his basement lair till just a few minutes ago, when he scuttled over to my recliner. He's now lying contentedly behind my head, purring and looking very much like this:

Another Feline Medical Crisis

Squash is at the vet's. I'm waiting to hear back what they find.

He's been vomiting, unable to keep food down, since yesterday. He's otherwise his usual self, but within a short time after he gobbles each meal it comes back; he also vomits bile. He's 15 years old.

This is the cat who hasn't been to the vet's for so long they had him in the inactive file. He's been impossible to catch, carry, and put into a carrier for many years. I lucked out this morning, caught him on a bit of furniture at just the right height to lull him with skritches, then get him under his elbows, scoop him up, and hurry to the top-opening carrier I had ready to stuff him into. Managed to do it despite the flailing with only one minor wound, too.

I've given the intake person all the info. Now I wait while they slot him into the schedule, work him up, and see what's going on. Maybe it's just constipation. Or maybe it's a tumor. Whatever it is, he'll get what he needs -- even if what he needs is the last sleep.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fun With My Smartphone

I've got a smartphone. Of course. Doesn't just about everyone, these days? Not that I ever use it for anything other than occasional phone calls, or reading a book from my Kindle library when I'm waiting somewhere, or once in a blue moon sending a text to the barn manager about my horse. Most of the time it's shut off and lurking in the bottom of my purse, just like a dumb phone. Yes, I'm a primitive -- still have a landline for my primary phone, fercrissakes.

But I have found a new use for it. I'd been wanting to have a music player for entertaining myself while taking walks when my walking buddy isn't available. I'd even picked up a low-end MP3 player but hadn't gotten around to trying to download my iTunes library onto it from my computer. Then my walking buddy suggested I use my phone for a player, as she does.

So I tried syncing my Android phone to one of my computers to get my iTunes stuff onto it, and couldn’t get my device driver to download. Bummer, right? But as I was about to give up, an errant finger swipe launched an icon called “Amazon Appstore” and what did I see? A menu of stores, the second of which was music. I pursued it further and whaddaya know? Every frikkin CD album I’ve ever purchased from Amazon, for years and years and holy crap did I actually buy that?!? was right there in the Amazon Prime cloud, just waiting to be downloaded into my phone! In a few minutes I went from nuttin’ to 650 tracks on the thing.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to play what I want, when I want, from the mammoth pile of possibilities. Oh, and make sure the generic earbuds I have lying around somewhere will work with the phone.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Fun With Horse Manure

Note: If discussion of horse manure bothers you, stop reading.

So Ben was actually still un-mud-rolled when I got to the barn despite the last few days of record warmth, unblanketing, and vast swaths of paddock filth uncovered by the melting of snow.

Unfortunately, the back of his butt and hindlegs and the underside of his upper tail were caked with crud from his unfortunate habit of releasing dribbles of liquid poo whenever he produces manure balls. This is not a sign of disease, especially at times of changeable weather; a certain fraction of horses simply are prone to it, and do or do not respond to various management practices to try to control it.

Ben's been dribbling for quite a while. I've tried some possible remedies in his feeding program over time, to little avail, and now have started him a couple of days ago on Sand Clear, a psyllium supplement that hopefully will absorb the excess liquid his digestive system is producing. Various horseperson friends have offered various suggestions; if the Sand Clear doesn't work I'll move on to the next one. Sometimes nothing works and one just must keep on cleaning the mess. At least it's not so visible from a distance on Ben, since he's a manure-brown bay; on a light chestnut or gray it's sadly apparent.

Anyway, we shall see if anything helps. But today was so warm I decided to wash as much of the filth off as I could. So I put rubber gloves and big sponges in a bucket, ran hot water into two plastic gas cans I keep for bringing warm water to the barn, and went to the barn. I set up everything in the aisle of the four-stall part of the shedrow, led Ben in to the crossties, and set to work sponging at the mess.

Yup. It was just as disgusting as you're imagining. I kept at it, though, spent probably an hour working on his butt and legs and tail, and by the time I was done the caked-on filth was pretty much removed. Oh, he's not really clean-clean; what he desperately needs is a full bath with horse shampoo and multiple rinses; but he's way better off than when I started. And happily there was no sign of scalding on the skin underneath the crud.

I finished Ben off with a good full-body currying and brushing, which he loved, combed the dreadlocks out of his mane and trimmed the scraggliness off it, and returned him to his paddock to resume noshing on his lunch hay. Then I cleaned up the work area, put my equipment back in the car, and took stock of myself: Clothes, skin of lower arms and shoes spattered with manure-infused scrubbing water, and a lower back aching and complaining from all the bending and reaching. And it will all be to do over again, I'm sure, the next time it's warm enough.

But it was worth it.

Friday, February 24, 2017


My washing machine died. Semi-full of a middling load, including towels. Died at the first spin cycle, so when I went to check on it everything was soapy-waterlogged. Ran a rinse cycle, came back to find it still unspun. I wrung out about half of the load as best I could and started it in the dryer; wrung out the other half (with the towels) and left it draped on the washer to drain as much as possible more out of the stuff while I wait for the poor patient dryer to extract the water from the first half.

I put in a call to a local repairman, but while waiting for a call back then thought, well, this thing is 20 years old and I've more than got my money's worth out of it, so called the local appliance store, where I've bought other items and been happy with them. They said the earliest they could install a new purchase would be Tuesday. That's not so bad, so I drove over, checked out what they had, and wound up buying a new top-loader on sale for a darn good price. It's not top or even middle of the line but it's an American-made Maytag, it's small enough to fit in the spot where the old machine lived, and since I don't want or need all the bells and whistles of a higher-end machine it will do just fine for me.

The salesman said it sounded like it was the transmission that blew out, that it would have been hard to find parts to fix my 20-year-old machine, and that 20 years was a good run. He said washers these days probably only last about ten years, but in ten years I'll be 78 and I daresay the health of my washing machine will be among the least of my worries.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ah, Valentine's Day

Oh, good grief, they're at it again: The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is running those ads for Valentine's Day, where gorgeous young women get all hot and sexily bothered when their man gives them a gigantic four-foot-tall (and damn near as wide) teddy bear. They snuggle up to it, wriggling seductively, with smoky-sexy eyes....

Yeh, right. A normal woman's reaction to being handed one of those things? "Just where the HELL do you expect me to PUT this?!? Bend over, HONEY, and let me see if it will fit!"

Friday, January 27, 2017


What the...? I have Twitter account, almost never used. I get emails from Twitdom offering me links occasionally to the tweets from one or two people I follow (not always by any means) plus suggestions of who Twitter's algorithms seem to think I'd like to follow.

Lately there've been a lot -- a LOT -- of them that are clearly from right-wing tweeters, even though I don't follow anyone like that. Makes me wonder if there's some sort of propagandist push going on.

Or maybe I'm just paranoid?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Veggie Boys, sunbathing

Squash, brother of Pumpkin, has taken to living in the basement thanks to torment from his former best buddy Peanut, with backup bullying from Schooner and Stanley. He's actually been quite happy down there and thoroughly enjoys my visits to bring food and water, clean his box, or just schmooze in passing in and out of the garage. But he does miss me.

Lately I've been putting his food dish near the top of the stairs instead of at the foot before closing the door to let him eat in peace. Lately he's been lurking at the top of the stairs at mealtimes, even venturing a few feet out into the living room, before scuttling back when he spots one of his enemies.

And last night, very late, while I sat reading in the living room recliner, while Schooner and Peanut slept in a cozy lump in the recliner in the front dining area, I looked up from my book to discover Squash in the middle of the room, looking longingly at the tinfoil I'd just removed from a (damned good!) chocolate gold coin.

I knew what he wanted. I wadded up the foil and threw it and he gleefully chased it, then returned to demand more. We played that game a few more times, then, visibly gathering his courage, he scurried up onto the recliner, stretched out behind my head, and shoved his little skull forward over my shoulder for skritching.

We enjoyed some together time before his courage tank ran dry and he scuttled back to his basement refuge. But this morning he came a little way out again at breakfast, and I'm hoping that he'll gradually rejoin the upstairs life, though I suspect he'll never again really trust the dire Peanut.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

Alas, Pumpkin

I brought Pumpkin in to see the vet on Saturday, concerned because he seemed even thinner and his appetite had become increasingly erratic; then too, there’s the frequent vomiting. Turned out he’s lost about another pound from his already scrawny weight a couple of months ago; he’s down under seven pounds now, skin and bones, and he ought to be closer to ten. They managed to draw blood for testing despite his near-collapsed veins, and then Dr. Montesano and I sat down to discuss where to go from here.

It’s more than just thyroid that’s the problem; given the improvement in his coat, it’s not likely even primarily thyroid right now (depending on the blood results). Most probably it’s some kind of gastritis or inflammatory bowel disease, perhaps even gastric lymphoma, which would have to be confirmed by biopsy. We’re not going to do a biopsy, of course, let alone chemotherapy if it is lymphoma; we agree given his age and condition it’s palliative care only, and we’re looking at months, not years, and quality of life at this point.

So what to do? The vets and I had previously discussed steroid treatment but been reluctant given his heart murmur; steroids could push him into congestive heart failure. But that treatment could shrink an inflamed and thickened gastric lining, help him to absorb nutrients better, in fact it’s part of the suite of treatments for lymphoma anyway, so what the hell? I could give him a daily pill or he could have a shot good for a month (though if anything went wrong there’d be no way to take it back); I said go for the shot.

He also got a dose of mirtazapine (Remeron). In humans it’s an antidepressant; in cats it stimulates appetite while helping to suppress nausea, a half-pill every three days. A short while after I took him home I offered him food – and he devoured it, as much as I thought safe to give him. He wasn’t too keen on supper but ate more small meals in the evening. On the vet’s advice that at this point it’s calories calories calories we need to worry about, not balanced nutrition, I’d stocked up on baby food, those teensy Fancy Feast cans, and some deli sliced chicken breast on the way home, and he liked what I offered of that.

Sunday he ate eagerly, again frequent small meals. He was more vocal than usual, a bit more charged up, but those are known side effects of mirtazapine, and overall he was doing way better, behaving normally, snuggling up to me. Success! For however long, success.

Dr. Montesano called earlier this morning for mutual updates, while slugabed me was still transitioning from awake to get out of bed. Mine: as outlined above. Hers: His thyroid and other blood levels looked good. Keep on as planned, his next dose of mirtazapine due tomorrow.

Then I went downstairs to feed breakfast. And a lethargic Pumpkin wanted none of it. Nothing I offered tempted him. At all. Not even deli chicken. Nope nope nope.

God DAMN. I called the vet’s office, was able to speak briefly with the vet before she went into surgery. Could be the mirtazapine has worn off already; could be.... Well, the plan is to watch him, see if he’ll feel like eating later. If he doesn’t by this afternoon, give him his next dose a day early, and let her know what’s going on by tomorrow.

And if he still won’t eat? Quality of life, not length, will determine what comes next.

Friday, December 23, 2016

That Giving Spirit

So I've been accumulating this massive pile of begging letters lately as multiple charities forage for those end-of-the-year donations. I've been tossing the envelopes onto one corner of my desk, and today I decided to excavate the tell.

So many worthy causes... so comparatively little available to give them... what to do?

Start by sorting the unopened envelopes, discarding the duplicates, into three broad categories: animals, people, nature. Pull out the ones I've given to in the past and set them aside as already vetted.

Take the likely candidates among the rest, pull up Charity Navigator online (making an online donation to them while I'm at it), and investigate each candidate. Firm rule of thumb: Got to be using over 80 percent of moneys received for programs rather than fundraising or administrative. Winnow them down to...

Eighteen total charities to give to. Pull up Quicken and start making out checks to print (thank heavens I don't hand-write checks any more!); print three at a time, sign, match to solicitation, stuff envelope, stick on stamp and return address label. Update Quicken on two other computers (yes, but it catches errors now and then, so it's worth it). Update 2016 financial Excel worksheet.

Finally, after a couple of hours -- done. Ready to drop in the mail and go forth to help homeless critters, homeless people, hungry people, poor women needing a micro-loan to get out of grinding poverty, natural resources to preserve, and so on. Over 900 bucks out, mostly in $50 gifts, and well worth it all.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ah, Holiday Memories

I was chatting the other day with a friend about memories of childhood Christmases, specifically that old standby stocking stuffer: gold coins. Yep, those thin disks of chocolate, pressed into the shape of coins, wrapped in gold-toned foil, and tucked into tiny nets. There they were on the big morning, in the long red stocking, with other little treats and tschoschkes, and the inevitable tangerine down in the toe.

So when, a day or two later, I was shopping at Rite-Aid and spotted them on a holiday display, in a surge of nostalgia I bought a wee bag and bore it home in retro glory. Should I wait till Christmas morning to enjoy my chocolate memory?

Oh, hell no. Of course not. So last night I cut open the bag, spilled the coins out into my eager hand, and settled down to indulge myself. Carefully I peeled the foil away, expectantly I bit into the fifty cent disk....

It tasted terrible. Absolute worst low-end-chocolate horrible.

And so did every one of them, but I ate them anyway, because after all, they weren't that great but they were chocolate.

I guess nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.

Friday, December 9, 2016

My Exciting Life

Yesterday in proofreading, just three jobs:

1. A viciously contentious arbitration over the firing of a racist employee. 258 pages

2. A densely technical deposition of a professor who wouldn't stop answering the questions he wanted to rather than what had been asked. 307 pages

3. A civil but wall-to-wall, long-paragraphed deposition of a psychiatrist in a defamation case related to the Jeffrey Epstein sex slave scandal. 172 pages

Total for the day: 737 pages and melted synapses.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Words to live by

Saving one animal won't change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.

Same for one human.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

More Fun at the Vet's

Today’s vet report: I took Peanut to the vet at 10:30 this morning to see why his pupils are constantly hugely dilated, no matter how bright the ambient light is. Since his bloodwork needed to be fasting he got imprisoned in the half bath while the others gobbled breakfast, which pissed him off. Mr. Grumpy got released; discovered NO BREAKFAST! and stalked about muttering; hissed when I picked him up and swore mightily when I stuffed him in the carrier.

His mood at the vet’s went downhill from there. The vet and her assistant had a hard time of it, even with a burrito-forming towel, even with cat-handling defensive gloves up to the elbows. No one got hurt, blood got extracted, and his indignant eyes got examined despite his furious physical and vocal protests. The vet had wanted to check his blood pressure, but given how worked up he was it would have been futile to even try.

So what was determined in all the sturm und drang? The vet believes there’s a partial detachment of the retina in one eye, though both pupils did react somewhat to light during her exam. We need the bloodwork to confirm it but she believes he’s likely hyperthyroid; among its other effects, it raises blood pressure, which stresses blood vessels, including the tiny ones between the retina and the back of the eye, causing leaks that put pressure on the retina and can detach it.

So now what? Well, Pumpkin’s T-4 test results have come in, and yup, he’s hyperthyroid, so we’re going ahead with the methimazole gel; my local pharmacy can compound it for me and it should be available Monday or Tuesday. I’ll start using it on Peanut too while we wait for confirmation.

Hopefully treatment will reduce Peanut’s aggressive moods as well. Come to think of it, Pumpkin’s been crabby towards his brother Squash since he started losing weight, so maybe it will help him on that, too. The vet also told me about a dry food Royal Canin makes, a formula that’s supposed to help calm down stressed-out cats, yet is safe for all cats to eat. She’s going to try to get me a sample bag to see if it will help Peanut.

The vet still wants to see Peanut again, try to get a better look into his eyes than she was able to this time, which will likely require some sedation. I’m not looking forward to it.

Here’s a photo from back in July that shows Peanut’s pupils as they were then – already somewhat dilated. At this point they’re even bigger, only a thin ring of iris visible around the black of the pupil.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Poor Pumpkin

Pumpkin endured another trip to the vet yesterday, to see why he continues to lose weight. His appetite is somewhat erratic but he does come faithfully to every meal and eats his wet food, or at least a modestly decent amount of it; he's gone right off dry food. His behavior is normal but he vomits a little yellowish fluid pretty much every day. So the poor little guy got stuffed into the carrier despite his struggles and protests and delivered into the cruel veterinary hands.

Vet: Pumpkin! He's such a handsome little guy, I love him so much!

Pumpkin: You're gonna rend me limb from limb and eat me!!!!

They took samples of blood and urine, checked his vitals, and so forth, and then Dr. Corbett and I discussed possible diagnoses of the skin-and-bones Pumpkin, who's shed a pound plus since his last exam and is now under eight pounds (when he was fat he weighed in at 18 pounds). We had a further discussion by phone this morning after initial blood work results were in. Conclusion:

We don't know!

The trouble is, his symptoms and test results conflict. Symptoms of weight loss but normal energy: look like thyroid. Test results: Not so fast; the thyroid value is in the gray zone, not clearly off; one white cell count is slightly elevated, suggesting something inflammatory; with the weight loss and erratic appetite that looks like inflammatory bowel disease -- but he's not having diarrhea, just normal BMs. He does has a new finding since his last exam -- a heart murmur.

So now what?

It could still be thyroid. Dr. Corbett's going to send a blood sample for a T-4 test, which might show it -- but Punk's previous T-4 in May was normal. If it's abnormal now we'll start thyroid medication. There are pills, liquid, and special foods, but knowing Pumpkin, the pills or the liquid are most likely no go. I brought a can of the special food home to try and he rejected it. That leaves another possibility --transdermal methimazole, a gel you rub on the back of the cat's ear twice a day.

Or maybe the T-4 is still normal. Then what? Despite the lack of diarrhea it could still be intestinal inflammation, and one treatment would be steroids -- but the heart murmur makes that dauntingly risky.

Dr. Corbett is frustrated! She so very much wants to help the little golden guy. She's planning to do research over the weekend to see if she can figure out exactly what's going on and what if anything we can do about it -- keeping always in mind we're dealing with a 15-year-old feline with a heart murmur here, who shouldn't be put under anesthesia. At least his teeth are reasonably good, not much tartar and not much gingivitis; surprisingly good, in fact, for an old guy like him.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It All Adds Up

How much proofreading of transcripts do I do? How much have I done over my career?

I started doing this full-time in 1987. Page totals vary quite a bit from day to day, week to week, but 400 to 500 pages per day isn't uncommon, more is not unusual (998 in one day is my peak in the last decade) and I normally work at least six days a week, pretty much every week all year. And I've been doing this for call it 29 years.

So figure, say, 2000 pages a week to be conservative, 52 weeks a year -- that would be 104,000 pages per year. Rough estimate total for 29 years?


I wish I hadn't figured this out.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

It's Project Time Again

The painters are coming tomorrow. They'll be doing selected walls and woodwork on the first and second floor and in the basement. I've been moving stuff off and on since yesterday to clear their way; still have to vacuum the cleared areas tomorrow, and move the first floor plants in the window seat area -- that'll be done last thing -- so it's all GO for Monday morning.

It isn't the first time I've had Ross and his son in to paint; I've been redecorating in stages for months -- just too much crap to move for me to get the whole place done at once. Monday/Tuesday's project in fact has expanded since I had Ross in to discuss plans for the upcoming work. I decided to add one small stub wall in the living room, but doing it required moving a four-shelf glass-front bookcase (which is why it didn't get done along with the matching wall on the other side of the doorway in the previous paintathon).

So I moved all the tschochkes sitting on the shelves in front of the books; moved all the books; took the bookcase apart and moved it; then stepped back and looked at the wall (end wall in the living room). And looked at the other four-shelf glass-front bookcase, and the three-shelf vertical glass-front cabinet with all the DVDs and more books, sitting against that wall. Thought about how I'd really like to get that wall painted someday, too.


Sighed, and got to work clearing all that stuff out of the way so yet another wall can get done.

Three-quarters of my living room is now cluttered with moved stuff. There are more clumps of moved stuff in the basement and upstairs. It will all have to be restored to its usual place when the painting is done.

But it's gonna look GREAT.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Yet More Fun With Technology

I work at home, proofreading transcripts for court reporters, receiving jobs via email and returning the corrections pages ditto. I print out the files, do hand corrections, then scan PDFs to send back. This requires computers Internet-enabled and printer/scanners, and being OCD about backup I always have multiple systems.

My primary scanner, capable of producing good-quality 30+ page correction files that yet don't break the MB bank, has begun misfeeding pages erratically; could be wearing out on me. So yesterday I trundled off to Staples and bought a new HP all-in-one; got it home, installed it -- and the damn thing had a printhead error. Had to drive back to Staples and swap it out for a replacement.

The replacement installed just fine -- but when I tested the scanning function, the files it produced were monsters, and no amount of tweaking the settings brought down their size to anything remotely useful for emailing corrections. GRRRRR!!!!! Also GAH. I went back to using the dicey scanner for the work I had to get done yesterday, with no problems (could be the particular paper on the misfed pages rather than the ADF, maybe....) and went to bed mulling over technology options.

So this morning I've been shuttling around various elderly printer/scanners. First, I moved the old Canon Pixma in the upstairs office from my main Win7 computer to the elderly XP computer -- and it wouldn't install, probably because the XP's no longer online so I couldn’t download updates for the software. Oh, well, if I run a long USB cable I can still use it off the all-in-one Win7 where it formerly worked from.

I put the disappointing new HP printer/scanner in its place on the Win7 and it prints fine but still produces monster PDF files, sigh, so that was basically a waste of money and effort.

However, where the Canon now sits (hulks, really; it’s big) was an aged HP 4500 all-in-one, twin to one I had downstairs as part of my work complex surrounding the living room recliner where I work now (sitting in an office chair upstairs for too long bothers my left hip and leg, sigh). Yep, on little side tables, to my right are two laptops (a Dell and a Gateway) and to my left are two printer/scanners:

One, the Lexmark scanner that does good work but might be slipping on page feeding; doesn’t print except when the printhead decides randomly it can work after all; turn off the machine and next time you power on it’s “There is a problem with the printhead” again. The other, a newish Brother, prints fine but doesn’t hold much paper; scans well but only takes up to 20 pages in the ADF.

Across from me on top of the low cabinet where the old CRT giant TV used to live (upgraded to a flatscreen on the wall, woohoo!) are two more printer/scanners. One’s an Epson that no longer scans but prints fine. The other used to be the HP 4500 that was moved from a left-hand table over to there to make room for the Brother when I brought it down from the upstairs office, where it wasn’t getting much use. Alas, that 4500 decided to stop printing AND scanning and take up life as a plastic cinder block, so it will shortly be taking a trip to Staples recycling. I’ve put its twin in its spot. The twin is working fine in both functions, hurrah!

So I now have, here in reclinerland, three working printers and three working scanners (out of four machines) running off two laptops. Because I never get rid of technology that still functions for something.

So, got it all straight, class? There'll be a test later!