Sunday, October 27, 2019

Chugging Along

First off, let me say that there aren't any fires near me yet, and I still have power, so clearly I am living the golden life here in California. The winds have been really high for the past twenty-four hours, but Frankentree (held together by a steel bolt through the trunk) still hasn't fallen down next door so obviously I have no tree prognosticating ability.

The feral cats are settling in now that they have the run of the whole house. Contrary to my expectations, they are both fine with the dogs, fine with the other cats, fine with the new Roomba, and fine with being inside. What they're not fine with is me, yet again proving that I'd make a terrible Disney princess. Gin starts growling the minute I enter any room she's in. Tonic just skitters away. I do hear them playing during the night, though, so I think they're doing okay.

The new Roomba is probably cursing its luck in being sent here, but it really does cut down on the fur tumbleweeds blowing around the place. The first time I deployed it, it had to return to its fainting couch twice to recharge before finishing. That day it also hogtied itself with sisal unraveling from a cat tree, and had an existential crisis in my bedroom, so it felt like I had just adopted another special-needs pet that needed constant monitoring. Since then it's been doing better, and only got stuck once today when it pushed the bathmat around and blocked the bathroom doorway so it couldn't leave the room.

The big dog and I have been running a few times a week. Using the track across the street has really cut down on the number of times I trip over cracks in the sidewalk, though it's probably a little boring for the dog. My average time has been dropping though I still have a long way to go before I make a 10 minute mile. Maybe I should have started training before I hit fifty. Eh, whatever.

And finally, National Novel Writing Month starts on Friday. No, I don't have all the scenes mapped out yet. I was planning on getting that done this weekend, but I've spent a bunch of time working or thinking about work. Jokes on them, though, because maybe I'll get the plot done during the work week!

Guido and Georgie, not wanting to hang out together, but both too stubborn to move.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


Now that it has cooled down a bit (okay, in the last week it's been 99 F for a day, then two days later we had 45 minutes of thunderhail, and there was a baby tornado, but I'm averaging it all out and calling it autumn), I'm trying to get back into running.

Running when it's dark at 6am has traditionally been a problem for me. I mean, I've tripped and banged up my knees in broad daylight, so you can imagine what I'm like when it's dark out. But I think I've solved it because now I have a headlamp and I've figured out how to get onto the track across the street, so the tripping hazards have gone way down.

I also joined an app called Charge Running, which has scheduled runs during the day. You can join a run and the live coach will guide the workout and give you feedback on how fast you're going and how far you've gone. It helps keep my workouts a little more interesting and I don't procrastinate for 45 minutes trying to figure out what to listen to.

The problem with running in a group (virtually) is that it makes it clear how slowly I run. Sure, Jeff points out that my 13 minute miles are barely faster than a walk, but there's nothing like finding out that someone else's "conversational" pace is faster than your "hard enough that you can barely go that fast for 30 seconds" pace. Not that I'm comparing or anything.

The other thing I've noticed is that I'm truly terrible at taking selfies.

I'm not sure what it says about me that it's not the running that makes me feel old, but the inability to take a picture with my phone...

Ripley sleeps through all my workouts. He probably has the right idea.

Sunday, September 22, 2019


Autumn officially starts tomorrow. That should have been a clue.

This should have been my next clue:

(Ripley's back in a onesie because he keeps overgrooming his shaved skin.)

But no, I made hearth bread this morning, earlier than I normally make bread since I was planning to take a loaf along to my writing group meeting at 11am. I threw everything together, kneaded it for eight minutes and left it to rise.

An hour later it was just barely bigger and that was when it really hit me. It was too cold to make bread in a hurry. (I turned the oven on for a few minutes to heat up the area and the second rise went better -- the bread was fine in the end.)

Anyhow, even though it's currently nearly 10 pm and it's still in the 70s, winter is on its way.

Monday, September 16, 2019


I got some excellent news today. Turns out Ripley's lung mass was not a tumor, but an abscess, probably caused by something he inhaled, like a foxtail. That was my secret hope when the initial aspirate came back with just a bunch of necrotic cells, but it still seemed very unlikely given that he's 14 years old.

The other good news is that he's been doing really well -- his energy level is good, he's been eating well, and he's even been pooping normally (TMI?). He follows me around the house while I'm doing things and comes to the door to greet me when I come home -- all normal Ripley behavior

Now I just need to figure out how to keep him from inhaling anything else...

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Fingers Crossed

The lung tumor has been removed and I have all my fingers tightly crossed that Ripley heals and we can then start him on something for his GI disease. (Steroids inhibit healing, which is why surgery had to happen first if it was going to happen at all.)

Surgery was Wednesday, he came home Friday afternoon and seemed to be doing really well until today. I'm more than a little worried that he was worse today than yesterday, but he did eat some today and he had enough energy to blast off the couch when I tried to medicate him this evening, so... again, fingers crossed.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of Ripley in his new career as supermodel. He's rocking the post-surgery onesies.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

There Can Be Only One

I swear I've been making jokes about this for the last five years, but it's starting to look like Effing Scooter, the cat who pees on everything, is going to be the last of my vet school bottle babies to survive.

Guido has been in remission for almost a year now, but I can't imagine that's going to last forever.

This week Ripley, my little dog in a cat suit, started acting funny. He's had what I assume is IBD for a while, and though his symptoms have been pretty well controlled through a special diet for the past year, it's only a matter of time before that explodes into full-blown GI lymphoma. So that's what I was expecting when I took him in on Thursday morning.

But since Ripley also occasionally eats plastic things, we decided to take an x-ray to see what was going on.

And there on the edge of the film was a mass in his lung.

So then we went off to UC Davis to find out what was going on. Let me tell you, it's pretty weird to go back to the teaching hospital you graduated from ten years later as a client. Parts of the hospital have changed, and the largest part of the parking lot now has a building on it, but the exam rooms still have the same pale green tile on the walls that probably already looked dated in the 1970s. Nothing like a few flashbacks to really make your day.

A bunch of tests later, we had a list of bad things:
- IBD/lymphoma (lymph node aspirate non-diagnostic)
- lung mass (aspirate non-diagnostic)
- red & white blood cells in his urine (nothing growing on culture)
- a few nodules on the liver (meaningful? could just be age-related)

Basically all the parts of his body seem to be competing for the title.

One of these things could be making him feel bad, but maybe it's something else entirely. And he might be able to live with all those things for a year or two without any of them impacting his quality of life.

Anyhow, he spent a night in the hospital (and developed a heart murmur and a weird rhythm that also got checked out) and he's feeling better. He's getting antibiotics. If he continues to do well over the next week, he's going to have surgery to remove the lung mass. After that he can go on steroids for his IBD/lymphoma as needed. Or he might crash and burn. Only time will tell.

For now he's back to following me around and keeping me company.

When the apocalypse happens I'm pretty sure the survivors are going to be me, Effing Scooter, and the screaming conures.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Welcome to the Hall of Judgment

I still have two feral cats in my bathroom. Every evening I bring my laptop in and sit on the floor and either work or watch a show while I try to get them to maybe consider that the person who brings them food and fresh towels is not as evil as they think. Mostly the only thing that happens is that my butt gets sore from sitting on the hard floor, but I have been able to reach over and slowly touch both of them a few times. They weren't exactly happy about it, but they put up with it.

While baby Tonic will often look at different things, generally I get two hours of Bathtub Gin giving me the most judgmental stare in the universe.

Is that scene really good enough? Really? Are you sure?

Yesterday I sat in there and watched some art detectives show. (Was the random ugly painting on slats of wood done by some famous Flemish painter I'd never heard of? I keep trying to imbibe culture but honestly I'd rather put a picture of dogs playing poker on my wall.) After an hour I'd bored them both to sleep. I think that's a good thing since it means they aren't completely freaked out by me. I decided I'd had enough culture and turned off the show and now I'll never know if the ugly painting was an expensive ugly painting or not.

In other news, I just found out that the Hubbard squash I have growing in the garden is supposed to be about twenty pounds when fully grown.

The squash that may take over the world

I may not need to leave my house for a while after that thing is done.