Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Sam

Today is the 11th anniversary of Sam's adoption from the Kenton County Animal Shelter.  He was found beside a road with a female dog about the same age.  They were about 2 months old.  The shelter called them Mork and Mindy and, while Mindy was adopted, Mork sat in the shelter for over three weeks.  He had enormous paws and I think most people were afraid he would grow into a huge dog. 

I had been looking for a dog for months.  Our previous dog/child was a Snoodle named Widget and was with us for 16 years.  Jeff and I adopted her a year before we got married and it was heartbreaking when she died.  So, I was very particular about getting a new dog. 

Sam was exactly what I didn't want.  He was likely to grow into a big dog with a lot of shaggy hair to aggravate Jeff's allergies.  But, once I saw him, I couldn't forget him.  There was just something about him that said he was the right one. 

When Jeff and I were dating, he wanted to get me a stuffed bear.  We looked at the display and he told me to look them over and pick out "the one with the magic."  So, I picked Bernard, our first "child." 

Sam, too, was the one with the magic.  Jeff and I brought him home from the pound 11 years ago today and waited for the girls to come home from school on the bus.  Ally was 10 and Kate was 8.  We stood in the driveway with Sam on a leash and the girls couldn't believe their eyes as the bus rolled down the street.  We had a new family member. 

Andy continues to improve.  He's decided that, while he likes the special moist food and licks it off my hand, he's not too keen on the medicine and struggles when I give it to him.  He's well enough to be feisty.  He hopped around the house a bit this morning.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Things have been wild around here this week.  We got Kate all packed and took her to Centre on Wednesday morning.  The college was great and the transition was far less traumatic than I anticipated.  Kate and her roommate seem to be hitting it off and her room -- although small -- looks lovely.  She's got several days of orientation before the rest of the school arrives on Sunday.  Last night, they got together in small groups and had dessert at their academic advisor's home and discussed the book they all were asked to read over the summer.  Kate seemed to enjoy it and she's very impressed with her advisor, Barbara Hall. 

Kate in her dorm room
When we got home from Centre on Wednesday night after dropping Kate, I found Andy the elderly angora rabbit lying prone in his cage -- still breathing, but obviously in distress.  We weren't sure what to do, but after making some calls, we found an emergency vet across town who deals with rabbits.  So, we loaded Andy into the car and took him to the animal emergency room. 

The diagnosis is that I inadvertantly poisoned him when I gave him a treatment for mites.  I gave Genny the same dose and she's fine, but Andy is old and thin and frail and it wreaked havoc with his system.   

Sick Andy -- he's looking a little better now

The emergency vet put him on IV fluids and several other medicines to keep his digestive system moving and to avoid other complications.  The next day, he was slightly better and I went across town to get him and take him to his normal rabbit vet.  He stayed one night on IV fluids at his normal vet and I brought him home yesterday night. 

When I picked him up yesterday, he still looked pretty sick and they sent practically the whole hospital home with him.  Here's his routine for the next week:
  • Liquid feedings 4x a day
  • Antinausea medicine 2x a day
  • Liver medicine 2x a day
  • Antibiotics 2x a day
  • Sub-cutaneous fluids, 100 ml, once a day
This morning I woke up at 5 am for some reason and couldn't get back to sleep, so I finally got up and started my day.  I fixed Andy's liquid food, which looks a lot like baby cereal except green.  He was enthusiastic about eating it.  In fact, he ate two spoonfuls out of the spoon in addition to the 12 cc I fed him from the syringe.  

I was a little nervous about the subcutaneous fluids because I've never poked anyone with a needle before, but the veterinary assistant had showed me how and I didn't have any trouble with it.  Andy didn't seem to mind at all.  He sat in my lap and let me stroke his ears while we waited for the 100 mls to drip in. 

After he had been fed and had his medicines, I sat with him in my lap and stroked his head and ears and he went to sleep.  I had never seen him sleep before with his eyes closed -- I don't think rabbits usually do -- but I took it as a sign he was relaxed (or dopey with medicine).  He purred every now and then, so I don't think he was in distress.  Rabbits are harder to read than dogs. 

I wouldn't have wished this to happen in a thousand years, but there is a bright side to it.  Andy is giving me someone to fuss over and care for in this difficult transition when my girls are leaving for school.  Andy is warm and snuggley and he needs me right now.  That's a good feeling. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Waiting for Transformation

The Black Swallowtail caterpillars have formed their chrysalises (Well, three out of the four have.  The smallest caterpillar is still in the mason jar eating parsley.).  Two of them intelligently attached themselves to a stick I provided for the purpose.  The third attached himself to a stalk of parsley that has since wilted. 

I read that they need room to spread their wings when they emerge, so I took the small sticks (and parsley stalk) out of the mason jar and taped them to a larger branch that I stuck in a vase.  That way, when the time comes, they'll have plenty of room and won't be stuck in the mason jar.  I've got a butterfly net and I figure I can catch them and release them outside. 

Strangely, the first caterpillar made a brown chrysalis and the other two made green ones.  I don't know why they're different colors. 

Somehow, all this chrysalis making seems like a metaphor for what's going on in my life.  Things are changing all around me.  The girls are leaving home and my life will never be the same again.  A twenty-one year chapter of my life is closing ... or at least becoming more peripheral.  Things are looking kind of bleak and unsettled. But we all know what happens to butterflies.  They transform.  The chrysalises don't look too promising, but here's hoping. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Black Swallowtails

Phil, the caterpillar

Annette's adventures with insects have inspired me, so when I found these little guys munching on my fennel and parsley I decided to bring them in for a better look.  It turns out that they're Black Swallowtail caterpillars and will someday look like this. 

I found at least six of them and brought four in to help me work.  Over the last few days, they've been crawling around their jar by my computer, eating all the parsley and fennel in sight, and growing like crazy.  They also generate a prodigious amount of caterpillar poop.  

I don't feel bad about keeping them captive because the birds apparently think these guys are a smorgasbord.  According to one web site, only one in a hundred lives to become a butterfly. The chance of a bird opening the door, flying down to the basement and unscrewing the lid to their jar is very remote -- so these caterpillars have it made.  When I went out to look for the ones I left behind, they were gone.  ** playing taps **

Charlie the caterpillar crawls on Ally's finger
while I clean the endless caterpillar poop out of their jar.
I'm interested in seeing them make their chrysalises.  They're almost 2 inches long now and they should be ready soon.  

In other news, I finally got off my butt and sewed together Kate's long-awaited navy- blue-school-sweater-that-would-have-been-a-different-color-if-we'd-know-it-wouldn't-be-ready-until-college.  All it needs now are the buttons and, miracle of miracles, it looks like it fits!  I'll have her model it for pictures once the buttons are on.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rambling Update

Just a quick update.  Yesterday was a beautiful day -- mild and low humidity.  I wish I could have been outdoors more.

The basement clean-up continues.  I've got things generally organized into piles: papers, housewares, clothes, etc.  I'm so close to getting it under control that I can almost taste it.  Yesterday, I went through a bunch of my old papers from college.  I found a book of poetry that I wrote back then -- wow, there was so much fire and passion.  It actually wasn't half bad stuff ... and, no, I'm not sharing it. 

Kate's friend in South Korea, Sarah, has a mother who knits.  When Kate was staying with them this summer, she told them all about our angora rabbits and that I spin the wool.  When Sarah's mother expressed an interest, Kate said I'd be happy to send her a skein of the yarn.  :O  So now I'm spinning Andy fur in the evening.  It's actually fun -- I haven't been spinning recently and I'm enjoying getting back into it. 

My knitting projects are languishing.  My second Mizar sock is just at the start of the heel.  It requires some tricky analysis to divine the pattern at the point where it goes back and forth rather than in a circle -- so I stopped there and haven't picked it up again.  The Kernel Scarf is less demanding, but long, and so I pick it up and do a few rows every few days.  Unlike most knitters, it's odd for me to have more than one active project on the needles.  I like to complete things before I move on. 

All the pieces of Kate's navy sweater -- the one that was supposed to be a school sweater for her last year of high school -- are completed but I can't seem to get motivated to sew them together.  I'm afraid they won't go together properly and/or that they'll be the wrong size when they do.  I've got to bite the bullet on that one. 

Yesterday, I also dried a bunch of tomatoes in the oven.  They were so lovely on the rack that Kate took a picture but my battery was dead so I didn't get one.  Now I need recipe ideas for what to do with dried tomatoes!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thankfulness Catch Up

I've been remiss in posting -- everything has seemed so overwhelming around here.  The basement is still in disarray and the focus on the basement has meant less attention given to the upstairs cleaning.  Still, I know I have a lot to be thankful for. 
  • First, I'm thankful for my husband.  Two reasons in particular spring to mind. 
    1. A friend of mine was telling me about her husband's less than enthusiastic response to her getting a job ... not because he wanted her to stay home, but because the job she took didn't make much money.  First, this guy clearly doesn't understand today's job market. Second, he especially doesn't understand how difficult it is to get a job when you've been out of the job market caring for children for 20 years.  Third, she doesn't need to work at ALL to support the family -- he makes more money than God -- and she already has plenty to do around the house and supporting him in his job.  In short, I'm annoyed with his lack of supportiveness for her bold move back into the working world.  That being said, I'm thankful for my husband who acts as if my stupid little $18/hour job is the only thing keeping the wolf from our door -- which it is clearly not.  He makes me feel like I'm making an important contribution anyway. 
    2. I asked him to take the trash to the curb yesterday as he was running late and rushing out the door.  He was annoyed and I retracted my request -- but when I went out later I saw that he did it anyway.  Thank you!  
  • I'm also thankful that some of the saucer magnolias that Kathryn and I attempted to root have actually put out roots!  It's been a month now, so I checked them today.  Of the ten sprigs, four died completely, three are still green but have no visible roots, and three have visible roots! 
  • Last (for today) I'm thankful that Nancy had meditation at her house last night.  First, because my house was too disasterous for company to come over and, second, because I really needed that quiet time of contemplation. I felt a lot better afterward.