31 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012

2012 was filled with sorry and joy.

The biggest event, and worst event, was the passing of Miss Maggie Moo.  She had been adopted, after being dumped.  I nursed her back to health, she had one eye removed, surgeries on the other, and for a while she did well.  She learned to play and bat toys around.  Every night, she would snuggle to me in bed.  Then a tumor in her mouth grew and spread.  Eventually she had to be put to sleep while I held her.  I have had many cats and loved each of them, but she was a special little being -- she was my soul kitty.  And to this day, I don't know how I survived her death.

 But they say when one door closes another opens.

So, Anya came into my life.  Someone posted something about a 13 year old cat, with one eye (Maggie had one eye too), a tumor, an URI, possible kidney failure, but terribly sweet.  This person, however, left her at the shelter.  When I called the Los Angeles shelter, the lady said, "If the animal control officer comes in with 3 cats, she will be put down."  I couldn't sit around and not do anything, so Anya came to live with us.  She quirky, but oh so loving!  She also has no kidney problems.  The tumor is a fatty tumor and benign.  And the URI is related to herpes and is fairly easy to control with lysine.  I am very glad I got her.

And I should mention Clarissa also came into my life.  My little tortie tot has been a source of joy and laughter with her wildness, and of great pride when she won some ribbons as a cat show.  She's cute and adorable, but like all my cats, she has problems.  She was bred as a miniature and so has problems with her digestive system.  But she makes me laugh.

In terms of work, mixed blessings.  I got rehired, but I also got 6 classes, 3 different subjects, 40+ kids per class, 1/5 of which are either special ed or English language learners.  Not easy for any teacher, but insane for a second year teacher.  Supposedly this shows how much confidence they have in me, and I'm hoping this is true.

Personally,... well, I'm healthy and that's all I can say.  I didn't gain weight  but I didn't lose it either.  I was cranky most of the year from the pressure of teaching.  I have little time to relax or workout when teaching.  And when I'm not teaching, I either am bored, or sleep, or play on the internet doing nothing.  While I know I did not have much time for things and I know doing nothing sometimes is exactly what I needed, I'm very disappointed in myself.  There were things I could have done that would have improved me or my house or my cats' lives, and I didn't do them.

One important discovery came late in the year -- I received 2 very special presents.  One was a scrapbook of photos of Maggie, which I have written about.  The other is a handmade quilt with the names of all my cats.  (I'll write about it at a later date.)  Both of these presents were unexpected and have forced me to reconsider some of the things I think about myself -- namely, that I'm unlikable.

So, I have a few hours before 2013 comes and I'm planning on thinking about things and figuring out where I go from here.  In the meantime,

Happy New Year!!!

Book Review: Arctic Wargame

Arctic Wargame by Ethan Jones
ISBN:  978146815229

Arctic Wargame is an action filled thriller from a new author, Ethan Jones. The story is set in northern Canada where 2 mysteries icebreakers are seen and then vanish. The Canadian government send Justin Hall to investigate. In the process of solving the mystery, he and his team are stranded, then steal U.S. helicopters, and help repel an invasion.

The action is fast-paced and well written. The plot has several interesting turns, not the least of which is who is behind the plot. The writing itself is crisp, with enough details on military weapons to lend credence to the writing, but not too much as to bore the average reader.

Perhaps the only minor flaw is the characters do lack some depth. They are interesting people, but the author does not expand greatly on their backgrounds. Perhaps in the second book in this series? Then again, for a thriller, it's the action that counts and Jones has that down.

Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. And I'm looking forward to buying the next book in the series!   

Always Something

It seems like no matter what I do to get caught up, there's always something new that comes along.  <sigh>  I know, this is just how life is, but at some point I would like a week off of new surprises, usually of the unpleasant kind.

Just so no one worries -- nothing new today.  Yet.

I'm still in a bit of a shock over Bertie.  I love him.  And I'm worried about me having to go through the kidney failure stuff with him, Clancy, maybe Dante, and maybe Robbie, all at once.  I just need not to worry about what might happen and focus on the present.

So, the present.  Those lists I made the other day are actually proving useful.  Here's today's 'really would like to get done and is realistic' list:

  • do more laundry
  • write a book review
  • clean eyes and ears on all the cats
  • order my carpet cleaner
  • reflect on 2012 and plan for 2013
I'm also contemplating getting some quilting stuff out.  I really would like to have a hobby other than playing around on the internet or reading.  But this hobby has to be something I can stop for days and start again with no problems, and something that is not to mentally taxing for when I'm tired, and something I can do without endangering my fuzzy helpers.  I have a couple of quilts started and could work on them in here with Anya.  

Then again, I look at the Maggie scrapbook pages and think they are sooo beautiful that maybe I could so something for my other kitties, angels and present ones.  But to do that, I would have to buy lots of bits and pieces to make them look good, and I'm not sure I want more stuff right now...

Stuff to think about as I do laundry....  More later.

30 December 2012

Poor Bertie...

Not a happy day here.

I discovered that Bertie had huge hard mats on his haunches and some on his tummy, so I am giving him a lioncut, one area at a time.  He hates sitting still in the best of times -- he's feline ADHD -- and with clippers going, he especially doesn't want to sit still.  Apparently, I had only been combing above the mats...

But that's not the worst of it.

For some time, I've noticed he drinks a lot and pees a lot.  His coat is oily.  And today, while he was complaining about being shaved, I noticed he had a small mouth ulcer.  I've wondered and the ulcer basically confirms it -- I'm fairly sure he has PKD.  PKD is polycystic kidney disease.  Cysts grow in the kidneys and eventually damage the kidneys so much that they stop functioning and the cat dies of kidney failure.  Basically it is the same as chronic kidney failure (CRF), but mechanical in nature and not old age.  It's associated with Persians, but not always.  Bertie probably has some British shorthair in him and that breed has Persian stock in it, so PKD isn't a surprise.

The bad part is Bertie isn't old.  He's only about 4 or 5 years old.  For him to show symptoms at this age probably means the cysts are already good sized.  And there's nothing I can do to stop them growing.

Poor baby....  He's a beautiful cat, although a bit strange.  He's like I said, feline ADHD and is always on the move.  He wants to be petted twice and then walks off.  He squeaks instead of meows.  He loves to eat paper.  And he has a mildly deformed backbone so he has a hump.

Unfortunately, he doesn't get along with James so we have to keep them separated most of the time.  And that's why I feel especially bad about this turn of events.  I've been working on getting him more integrated with the others so he can be loved on more...

Just not something I wanted to deal with....

29 December 2012

Weird Day

This was just a strange day.  Not sure I liked, but not sure I disliked it.  It seemed to be filled with minor, temporary problems.

Problem 1:  Clarissa, my tortoiseshell Persian, didn't want to eat breakfast.  What?!  She always wants to eat. Instead, she let me hold her which is also strange.  So, no breakfast.  She did eat some lunch but not enthusiastically.  But by supper, she was starving as usual.  What happened?  Hairball is my guess, but since she comes from inbred lines, she does have the potential for serious problems, so I was fairly worried.

Problem 2:  The weather went from warm and sunny at lunch, to cloudy and misting at 4pm, to clear tonight. I suppose we are having a storm front move through, which doesn't thrill me because of #3.

Problem 3:  Anya, my lilac point Himalayan  has a snotty nose.  She normally is snorty, but this has real snot.  I've got her on echinacea but if this doesn't clear up by Monday, she's going to a vet.

Problem 4: Not really a problem, but weird -- got an email from a cousin wondering if I'm the Linda H from Iowa.  I really don't know how to respond to it.  On the one hand, I have not reason to be nasty to him.  On the other hand, I do have issues with my childhood and I have no idea what he wants.

Problem 5: I didn't get much done.  I spent the morning chatting with friends on Facebook and the afternoon snuggled to Wendy.  I had planned on going into town but between Clarissa and the weather, that didn't happen.  Tomorrow I need to get going on doing things I want to do!

Speaking of which, I did get Olivia bathed yesterday.

She's not the most cooperative of cats.  The bathing part was okay -- a few half-hearted escape attempts, but nothing serious and no blood.  The blood came when I was blow drying her.  Since she's a Persian with long hair, I have to blow dry her or it would take 4-8 hours for her to dry.  And while the house is warm, she would get very cold by the time she was dry.  So, I blow dry her.

And she doesn't like it.  She got me a couple times with her claws, despite being trimmed.  It still took over an hour to get her reasonably dry.  But the end results were worth it -- a clean, soft, nice smelling cat!

28 December 2012

Back to Normal

I think Wendy is almost back to normal, or will be shortly.  Yah!!!  She had quite a poop over night -- long, dry and black at one end.  This, to those non-poopologists who are reading along, means that the 'bad' food has finally passed out (that was the black part).  So, she should be back to eating and pooping like normal, or at least what passes for normal for her.

And Clancy was hungry this morning.  He was hesitant to eat last night, so I crushed a treat and put that on his snack.  He then ate it all.  So, this morning, I added a tiny bit, maybe 1/4 teaspoon, of canned food on top of his ground chicken, and he quickly ate everything.  I know cats aren't suppose to get bored with food, but he sort of acts that way.

I know this is silly to many, but if my cats are okay, I'm okay.  They are my emotional anchors.  No matter how awful a day I have at school or how upset I feel, all that melts away when I hug or groom one of my cats.  To me, they are special little people that love unconditionally.

Well, enough soppy stuff and now to figure out what to do today.  Last night I was sure I would go to Palm Desert, but this morning, that seems a lot harder to do.  I'm lazy.  Another problem is a trip down there will mean I get little else done -- it's ~1 hour each way.  I also discovered 20 loads of laundry in the closet while looking for something.  I should do some laundry before I run off and play.  Maybe go into town and see what the fabric/craft store has for scrapbooking?  I know I have to go somewhere -- I need lysine for Anya's eye (she has herpes and the lysine stops it from doing damage).

27 December 2012


Despite my worries, things for the most turned out okay.

Wendy seems to be doing well.  She's still not back to regular pooping, but she's not throwing up either.  I'm hoping that over night we will have results.  (Yes, a cat mom looks forward to poo sometimes.)  She's just a precious girl.

I got several things done from my lists.

  • bought groceries
  • cleaned windows 
  • vacuumed and swept floors
  • wrote one review
Not too bad, considering my energy level is 0 and Facebook chatting is a major time consumer.  But about the chatting, it's nice to talk with people on different continents, so it's well worth the time.

There is a bit of bad news.  Clancy, my conundrum kitty, is having one of his spells.  He didn't want lunch and was drooling a bit.  He seemed to want supper but didn't eat it.  I think he has a mouth sore from the phosphorus build up.  (He has chronic kidney failure.)  I gave him some Maalox to help the stomach acid, so maybe by bedtime, he will eat.  He was doing well until someone didn't make food for a week... 

Assuming tomorrow's weather is okay, I think I might head down the hill to Palm Desert and buy what I need to bind Maggie's scrapbook pages.  I worry that they will be damaged laying around.  And I have my list of stamping things to buy also.  I might also stop and shop for clothes, if I have to go all the way into Palm Desert, instead of just on the edge.

Review: Jack Shadow

Jack Shadow by Graeme Smith
ISBN:  978-1-927476-70-3

Jack Shadow is a very interesting and surprisingly complex novel. I'm not sure even how to describe it, but to say it was about a man named Jack whose job it was to nudge history according to the plans of someone. But when Jack cheats, the future gets, well, complicated.

The writing is a delight to read, if you like quirkiness. The plot is, well, not sure what to think. Like Graeme Smith's other book A Comedy of Terrors, it started off light. Then it got very complex in spots but I only noticed the complexity after it got complex so I did get a bit lost.  The characters are not the warm and fuzzy type, but each is interesting in their own way.

I will have to re-read this sometime and honestly, it is good enough to take the time to re-read it.  )

What to do?

Now that I'm all rested, I need to do something useful so that at the end of my break I don't hate myself for not doing anything.  But the problem is what to do?  I have so many things I can/want/need to do, I'm not sure where to start.

Well, they always say a list is good.

Things I need to do:

  • groom/bath Olivia
  • buy some late Christmas presents
  • vacuum/sweep the floors
  • buy groceries
  • do laundry
  • get the oil changed in my truck
Things I should do:
  • groom/bath Clarissa and Isabel
  • get lesson plans ready for school
  • buy some clothes
  • buy some shoes
  • write a couple of reviews
  • add more books to LibraryThing
  • clean my truck
Things I want to do:
  • clean the window in the bedroom
  • bind Maggie's scrapbook
See, my 'need to' and my 'should' lists are a lot longer than my 'want to' list in large part because I've forgotten how to have fun?  Or I've re-invented myself so many times I don't know who I am? Or I'm depressed?  Or all of the above and then some?

I do feel pathetic.  I have time off and money to buy/do things.  But when someone asks "what do you want to do for fun?", I have no answer.  I think I should have an answer.  I think most people do have answers.  Maybe others don't either -- I don't know.  Maybe that's why places like Facebook are so popular -- it is a great distraction from actually living a life.  And this may fall in the same category, but I do hope me writing does help to clarify things for me, so maybe not.

Well, off to do a bit of cleaning -- get the window cleaned and vacuum.  Then maybe the stores will be open.

26 December 2012

Almost Over...

Well, another holiday season has come and is almost gone.  Sorry, but -- YIPEE!

I know I don't have the proper holiday spirit.  I think it has to do with me working until a few days before the big day, being so tired I can barely function, getting sick, and not finding chicken thighs at the store.

Okay, maybe the last one is not earth shattering to some, but since I make the kitties' food using chicken thighs, it is a major problem.  If you don't think so, read the previous post about Wendy.  Anyway, in an effort to make room for the hams and whole turkeys, they don't stock chicken thighs.  So I had to make due with the chicken 'Griller Pack', which had 3 legs and 2 breasts.  With cat food, the muscle meat to bone ratio is very important and chicken thighs are almost perfect in that respect.  This 'Griller Pack' probably is off, and if it was a matter of life-or-death, I'd calculate the ratios, but it is close enough for a few days.

Fingers crossed for Wendy...

Speaking of her, she had a good day.  No more vomiting, but then no poos either.

Anyway, back to the holidays... I guess I get tired of the sales and the faux cheer people have.  Christmas in its non-religious version should be about giving special present to special friends.  It's not a contest as to who gave whom the most or the best.  I want my presents to be special to the people that I give them to.

And therein lies my problem.  I barely had time to pick out a few nice presents for a couple of dear friends.  Two of my closest friends will have to wait a bit for their presents.  (I'm shooting for the Eastern Orthodox Christmas!)  It's all rush, rush, and rush.  I'm a slow person I guess...

So, maybe once the holiday madness leaves, I can finally finish my Christmas shopping for this year.

Wendy's Food

I was hoping to wake-up this morning, feed the cats, have a nice breakfast, and then relax before doing something moderately useful.  My plans never work out...

I went to let Wendy out only to find she had thrown up food last night.  Sigh...

Maybe I should explain.  Wendy is my white Persian who was scheduled to die at the shelter 21 Dec 2011.  I adopted her the day before.  She came home, thin, with persistent diarrhea and a pink tail.

Wendy on her first day home, with her pink dyed tail.

She could not keep food down and if she did, she had diarrhea.  A trip to the vet showed she had no blockage (good) but had signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (bad) and the beginnings of megacolon (very bad).  The prescription food didn't work either, so I put her on raw food that I make myself.  I also discovered that she's allergic/intolerant of beef, lamb, rabbit, or any non-poultry meat except salmon.

And for the last year, she has thrived.

Wendy all healthy and relaxing on the table.

Until someone got terribly busy and skimped on the food.  Okay, it was me, and I'm terribly annoyed at me.  The last week of school before Christmas break was a nightmare -- I was sick, I had major tests to give, the students were crazy, and the world was ending.  So, I fed her some canned food and some plain raw turkey, with no supplements except for pumpkin.  (The pumpkin helps her keep regular in the poo department.)

Graphic Details Forthcoming

Well, with Wendy, if she doesn't get the right food, she has issues.  Since what she threw up was undigested food and it happened 3-4 hours after dinner, I think this is an owner created mess.  The issues I created this time is I think she's somewhat backed-up in her intestines.  Her poos have been larger in diameter than normal, which means the megacolon is lurking.  She's also not pooing daily, which means things are moving slowly.

The alternatives of her developing another food issue is unthinkable.  But honestly, if it had been a food issue,  the food would have reappeared earlier -- not 4+ hours later.  Fingers crossed!

Wendy has become my snuggle kitty.  There is something magical about her -- if I just look at her, and I really mean look, not glance, I feel happy and get teary-eyed about how precious she is.  I almost wonder if she's a gift from another special kitty I had....

Wendy after a bath -- all sparkly white!

25 December 2012

A Very Special Gift

A very dear friend of mine created a scrapbook of one of my cats.

Miss Maggie Moo was a rescue Persian.  She had been used as a breeding queen and then literally dumped.  When I adopted her, she weighed 3 lbs, had huge cuts on her skin, and an infected uterus.  She then lost an eye to herpes, and had to have 2 corneal grafts on the other eye to save it.  She lived with me for 16 months, but in the end, her body was too damaged to survive.  She died in my arms.

And despite all the abuse she had suffered and all the pain she went through to save her eye, she never stopped loving me.  The night before she died, she curled up to me as if to say goodbye.

Maggie was very special.  And Cynthia captured that in the pages she created.

If you would like to see all the pages, plus more of Cynthia's outstanding work, she has a blog at:

Back, Again

Seems like every year, I start blogging and then stop, only to restart again next year.  Well, I can't break the tradition, now can I?

Actually, this year has been very stressful and I do need to find a way to relax.  I'm hoping that writing here will help.  I do find it therapeutic to write as it forces me to really understand my feelings and the 'why' behind them.  I wish I could do this in the morning before I go off to work, but I'm not getting up any earlier.  So, I'll try to write when I can.