25 January 2011

If It Ain't One Cat, It's Another

One of the perils of having 9 cats is that usually at least one cat is sick at any one time.  This is especially true since I do adopt older or ill cats. 

Today's turn was Robbie, a Persian and Maine Coon mix.  He's been 'off' for several days and today, right before work, he threw up.  It was his breakfast and, based on the quantity, part of last night's supper.  Well, since he's a long haired cat, I'm thinking hairball or maybe blockage.  He got hairball remedy for supper and I have all my fingers crossed that it will do the trip.  I don't want to have to take him in for an enema or surgery.

It also became apparent to me that while I sub, I'm not going to do much art.  I don't have much time at night and the cats take priority, so there's only the weekends to do the art.  And lately, I've found one excuse after another not to do it.  So, I see no reason to keep beating myself up to do the art.  If it gets done, great; if not, so what.  I need the subbing to pay off Maggie's bills.

And speaking of subbing, tomorrow I sub for a master sergent in the Marine Corp as part of an ROTC program.  This really should be interesting.

23 January 2011


I'm somewhat upset at myself for not getting any art done, not writing sooner, and not doing much of anything except worry about Maggie.  That's basically what I've done since my last posting.  Now I said 'somewhat upset' because there's a part of me that could care less about anything else except Maggie.  So, since I have no art to write about, I'll write about Maggie.

I adopted Maggie on Oct 13, 2010 from the San Bernardino County Animal Shelter.  I actually adopted Maggie, a blue Persian, and her sister Maya, a black Persian.  Both girls were in horrible shape.  For starters, they were emaciated.  Not thin, not scrawny -- emaciated!  They looked like cats who had survived Auschwitz.  Maggie weighed 3.5 lbs and Maya 3.25 lbs.  I honestly don't know how they could walk as they had almost no muscle left.  They both had been shaved by a 5-year old, or so it looked.  In spots, whoever had shaved into the skin and down to the bone of their tails.  And to top it off, both had an upper respiratory infection (URI).  These two girls had been used in a backyard breeding operation and when they could no longer produce kittens, they were tossed over some one's fence as garbage.

Since neither was spayed, the shelter sent them to a vet for spaying, despite my concerns about their health.  The spaying went okay, but both had infected uterus' and Maya's had begun to rupture.  I brought them home not knowing whether either one would survive the night. 

With snotty noses and huge amounts of antibiotics, neither one would eat and both had diarrhea.  This meant I had to force feed both of them, which I did.  After about 2 weeks, they were perking up and were exploring the house at times.  Both were super affectionate and loved nothing more than to sit on me and be scratched.

The one Friday, Maya looked off.  Her tummy was swollen.  I took her to a local vet who thought she may have rupture an internal suture.  He did emergency surgery and found that the ruptured uterus has caused massive damage to her kidneys and urethra.  As there was no hope, she was put to sleep then and there.

Maggie was lost without her sister.  I was lost too.  But I was also determined not to lose Maggie, so I carried on the best I could.  She was still being syringe fed.  She was moved into the bedroom to sleep with me at night.  And I spent as much time as I could with her.

About a week later, she developed conjunctivitis.  This led to ulcers on both eyes.  As the cause was probably herpes, I started her on antiviral eye drops at $140 a bottle.  Then one Sunday morning, I walked into the bedroom and the right side of her face was wet.  And she was in pain.  It hit me like a punch in the stomach -- her right eye had ruptured.  After a few calls, I found an emergency vet clinic and drove her there.  The vet was wonderful, but very concerned about her weight -- 4.2 lbs.  To me it was great, because it was up!  So after a number of tests and with lots of extra warnings to me, he removed the eye. 

After she came home on Monday, I called and made an appointment with an eye-specialist vet.  The bad news was the left was deeply ulcered and she estimated we had a 50-50 chance of it rupturing.  Well, 10 days later, on a Saturday night, it rupture.  This time I drove like a maniac for 2 hours to get to their emergency eye vet clinic for a graft on the eye.  I've had blind cats before, but Maggie deserved a shot at sight and happiness.  (Okay, this is me projecting onto her, but so what?)

She came home and was doing well, and even adjusted to life in a plastic cone.  There had been a chance that the retina was detached, but it became obvious that she had sight.  And then deja vu.  On the day before an appointment with the eye vet, Maggie started to act  like she was in pain.  Then there was a lot of fluid from her eye.  The bottom line was the graft had perforated for some reason -- probably because the blood supply didn't penetrate it fast enough.  So, we were back to the question of blind cat or another graft.  The eye vet worked with us on the money side, so we went for a second graft.

When she came home with her new graft, she was basically blind.  The vet had sewn part of her eyelid shut to help support the graft.  She had tons of mucous in the eye.  She was in pain.  She also needed various eye drops about 15 times a day.  Plus she had to keep wearing that cone.  The end result is Maggie got depressed, very depressed.  If she was human, she would have killed her self.  You could just see the spark of life draining out of her.  My vet, who does alternative medicine at times, estimated Maggie's life force at 30% or less.  Maggie was giving up and didn't care if she lived or died.  But I cared!!!  I wanted her to live so I could spoil her.  The only thing I knew to do was try Bach Flower essences.  They don't make any rational sense, but I have used them before on depressed cats with success, so I tried them on Maggie. 

And they worked!  A few days after beginning to use them, Maggie perked up.

Since then, Maggie has gained weight -- all the way to 5 lbs 2 oz.  She tiny and I don't know how much she'll ever weigh.  She still won't eat on her own, but she will eat chunks of raw beef.  She grooms herself.  Her coat is slowly growing back in.  She plays with balls and mice like there is no tomorrow.  She even bops all the other cats and dogs, because she is the queen of the house.  And best of all, she can see -- the second graft is healing well and we are down to only 3 eye drops per day.

Unfortunately, she still has minor problems.  For example, she was eating a lot for a while because her system wasn't processing it well.  Once her digestion became more effective, it slowed down.  She kept eating and ended up get backed-up to the point of vomiting.  We have now settled on the amount of food she needs to slowly gain weight without digestive problems.

But every time she has a minor problem, I panic.  I go into 24hr worry mode.  I know it's not healthy or productive, but it's hard not to obsess over her.  She is such a joy in my life!  She has also made me seriously question the importance of a lot of things in my life and even what I want to do with my life.

12 January 2011

Where's the Art?

Well, I haven't written for 5 days.  I also haven't done any art.  Not exactly what I had planned for this year.

This weekend, I was exhausted.  Saturday, I got up, ate breakfast, and had a nap.  Then in the afternoon, we went shopping in Palm Desert.  Sunday, I got up. ate breakfast, did some cleaning, and then had my nap.  By Sunday afternoon, physically I could have done some art but mentally I was still tired.  On Monday, we had an eye vet appointment in Upland for Maggie, so that took most of the day and we had to celebrate the report on Maggie's eye.  Yesterday, I subbed in a special education classroom and came home tired and late.  Today, I subbed in a middle school and came home utterly annoyed and exhausted.

Now, the question really is: what was I expecting?  I know subbing isn't easy -- I have to get up at 4:30 some days, students aren't always cooperative, and I will be on my feet all day.  Is it realistic to expect myself to come home, do art, attend to my cats, and interact with hubby and friends?  I want to believe it is, but I'm beginning to suspect that it's not. 

What is the solution?  I can't quit subbing since it's the source of our income and if  I ever want a full-time teaching job, I have to keep in the 'business'.  If I knew eBay was back, I could cut down on the subbing -- maybe to 3 days a week -- and sell the art to make up for the lost days.  Unfortunately, I don't think eBay is doing well, at least for art.  I have tired selling art online, in galleries, and at art shows and nothing works well.  So, I'm stuck subbing which means I won't get a lot of art done.

The subbing assignment for tomorrow should be easy although it will be boring.  (It's special education for the severely handicapped.)  I should come home more relaxed and less tired than normal, so maybe -- just maybe -- I'll be able to do some art. 

Okay, since I really only need 1-2 hours and the chickadee will be done, here's my goal for tomorrow:  I will work on it for 1 hour.

07 January 2011

The Perils of Substitute Teaching

For the last two days, I've been substitute teaching.  On these days, I get up at about 5am so I can feed everyone, including Maggie who is still eating off a syringe, and arrive at the location on time.  Today, I had to be at the school at 7:30am which is nice since I didn't leave home until 6:45am.  Some of the middle schools require subs to show up at 7:15am and most are further away, so I have to leave at 6am.

The assignment was "Roving Substitute", which translates normally to mean I get to the school without any idea of what subject(s) or what teacher(s) I'm subbing.  This position is used to fill in for a teacher who called in sick that morning or for a teacher whose classes have a reputation for problems.  Occasionally, this can also mean there is no specific assignment because the school had enough subs show up so you fill in period by period where you are needed or as a second teacher in a classroom.

Today was a bit different.  The school was having departmental training sessions, so in the morning, I taught English II and in the afternoon Biology.  The nice thing was the teachers had notice of this training so the two teachers I subbed for had prepared nicely -- instructions, seating charts, materials.  The bad parts were the kids knew about the absences so some came in 'excited' to have a sub and most of the students were sophomores. (Remember, sophomore literally means "wise fool".)  The morning went well -- most students worked and no one caused problems.

The afternoon I knew was going to be interesting because the teacher had warned me about her challenging 6th period.  Compared to other classes, 6th wasn't all that bad.  The real problem was most students didn't want to do anything.  Okay, I can live with that.  The problem is they then get bored and start doing things -- usually stupid things.  One girl decided not to work and instead make cell phone calls.  Students are allowed to have cell phones, but not allowed to use them in class -- school rules.  She refused to put it away, started talking back to me, and then walked out of class early.  She left me no choice but to write her up, so now she'll get suspended for a day.  I really don't understand what goes on in some students' brain!

But overall, it was a good day.  Most of the classes were fine, most of the students were okay, and I ended up working an extra class, so I get an extra $15.

Unfortunately, I've come home exhausted both days.  Part of the problem is I'm just not used to getting up so early.  Over Christmas break, I started getting up at 7am, so 5am is a very rude shock.  Another part of the problem is I'm not used to being on my feet all day.  Again, it was Christmas break -- this time my lack of movement.  And still another part of the problem is the stress of subbing.  Remember, I go into classes not knowing if there are sub plans, if the students are nice or out of control, or sometimes what classes I'll be doing.  Then I have to deal with up to 45 students in a class, many who don't want to be there.

Needless to say, I haven't done any art.  I'm not happy with that.  I had visions of doing 1-2 hours when I got home or in the evening, but it's not happening.  I am hoping that given time, I'll adjust enough to the subbing that I will be able to do art at night.  Until then, it looks like I'll be doing my art only on weekends, when there are a hundred other things to do.

And now, off to bed!!!

05 January 2011

Just Not a Good Day

I got up this morning all bright and cheery, and I should have gone right back to bed!

First annoyance -- Isabel, my silver Persian, won't eat.  She has decided that Maggie's food is so much better than hers.  To get Isabel to eat, I now have to put a spoonful of Maggie's food on it to give it some flavor.

Second annoyance -- Hubby suggests we go down to Palm Springs to get some parrot pellets and a few items at Trader Joe's.  Fine, but let's go soon.  So, he reads for a while, walks his dogs, and then gets changed and ready to go.  In the meantime,

Third annoyance --Robbie, my Persian/Maine Coon mix, is really looking pathetic.  His right ear is horizontal and he's scratched it badly.  So, as much as I don't like to drive to my vet in Big Bear in the winter, I make an appointment.  This then leads to...

Fourth annoyance -- Hubby and I have a tiff.  It's not really a fight out loud, so much as both of us are angry at the other.  Fine, he stayed home, I went to the vet.

Fifth and biggest annoyance -- Robbie has ear mites.  Now, if you don't own cats or dogs, this means nothing.  What it means to me is that I now have to treat all my cats -- all 9 -- plus hubby's 2 dogs for ear mites.  This is just going to be so much fun and for 2-3 weeks!

Sixth annoyance -- I was suppose to substitute tomorrow and have Friday off to take Maggie to the eye vet.  That is now changed to work tomorrow and Friday, with the eye vet on Monday.

So, no, I haven't had a good day.  Yes, I understand a lot of these problems are minor or my own creation, and if my attitude was better, they wouldn't be so annoying.  I'm just really annoyed at myself for letting all this distract me and not get any art done.

04 January 2011

First Steps Back

This starting back doing art and selling art is a real challenge.  It's been two years since I've done much with PayPal, eBay, or my website, so I've forgotten much of what I used to know.  I suppose over time things will come back.

The drawing and painting seems to have come back fairly quickly.  I've started on an oil painting of a mountain chickadee, which I should finish tomorrow.  I've got the drawing for a short-eared owl, also in oil.  And I'm in the planning/drawing stages for a western grebe in watercolor.  The painting has gone well, although my biggest challenge is the tubes of oils are dried shut.  I almost totally mashed one using pliers to get it open and at least two colors are totally dry.  Guess I don't really need burnt umber!

One big adjustment is that hubby is home.  Before, he was out driving a truck and I was all by myself.  While I know this is my own paranoia, I feel like he's watching me and trying to figure out if I'm working hard enough.  After all, this is a big gamble since I'm not substitute teaching (which is 'sure' money) and have gone back to doing art (which is not 'sure' money).  The effect so far is that I'm working harder.  In theory, he should be able to take over some of the cooking and cleaning chores so I will have more time to do art.

Another big adjustment is my cats.  Last time I was doing art, I had 4 cats.  And now, I have 9, including one who is on fluids 3 times a week and one who needs to be hand-fed.  Overall, they don't create problems, except that I want to spend some time each day playing with each one or brushing them or just lounging around with them.  The only other problem is Robbie has decided my studio is his favorite room so he's moved in.  All my paintings will be easily identified -- his cat hair goes straight to wet oils!

I'm actually fairly happy with how things are going.  It also feels so good to be back painting.

And now, off to finish the grebe drawing....

03 January 2011

What's This?

Hmm, I woke up this morning, looked out the window, and... what's this stuff?  SNOW!!!  I know it was cold enough last night to freeze, but it's so rare we get cold and wet to make snow.  It's only a light dusting so it probably will be gone by noon, but it looks nice now.

01 January 2011

New Year, New Me

Welcome to 2011!!! 

I have a few modest hopes and some resolutions for this year, so that when I look back on it, I won't feel like I've wasted a year.  2010 was not a good year.  I lost 3 cats, am still unemployed as a teacher, and didn't do any art or math.  It's so depressing to look back on, that I'm more than eager to move forward.  My motto for this year is "Be a doer, not a talker."  So here are my resolutions for 2011:
  • Work through Weil's 8 Weeks to Optimum Health This is a very simple and comprehensive plan to get in shape, eat better food, and take care of myself.  It covers mind, body, and spirit.  I've worked on it before, several times, and have made it to week 4 and then quit.  I can't remember why I quit every time, but I did.  It probably had to do with the exercise or meditation parts.  Anyway, for week 1, the big things are to walk for 10 minutes a day, eat salmon and broccoli twice, and do some simple breathing exercises.  It really shouldn't be too hard to do, except..yep, coming up with excuses already!...it's cold outside for the walks and hubby isn't helpful on the eating healthy part (cake with ice cream is a balanced meal is his book!).  I have the salmon, bought some broccoli, and will go for a walk when I'm done here.  I really need to make this a priority as I'm getting older, I'm getting fatter, and I'm getting more depressed over everything.  If I don't start doing some exercise now, in a few years I'll probably need knee replacements and I don't have health insurance because I don't have a full-time job. 
  • Pay more attention to my cats.  I am guilty of spending all my time on those cats who are sick or have problems and then ignoring the healthy ones.  I also tend to cut corners and, say, not clean litter boxes as I should, which is now leading to some problems.
  • Spend 30 minutes a day cleaning.  I know this doesn't sound like much, but (a) I don't have a lot of extra time between subbing, art, and cats, and (b) I also know that if I'm consistent it will help clean up this house.  Hubby is not good at cleaning or putting things away, so I need to train him better!  I also think having a nice environment will improve my attitude.
  • Spend 1 hour a day doing art.  This is one that scares me. When I'm subbing, I come home tired and cranky, and the most I feel like doing is reading.  I'm really going to have to push myself sometimes, especially at the beginning now, to do this.  But if I don't do the art, I can't sell the art.
I'm hoping after a couple of months, I will have improved my attitude and life will seem better.  Towards the end of 2010, I literally was living for my cats.  That's not healthy, but when one hates her job, her house (because of clutter), and herself, living for one's cats is better than the alternative.

Now, off to take my walk.  I suppose hubby will want me to take a d-o-g.  Groan...