I was getting ready for bed, just checking LJ, and suddenly the Post an Entry popped up. Weird. OK, I'll give. Just a short one, though. Maybe with numbers.

1. Definitely with numbers.

2. I've been waiting to post something good, because I don't want to come on here just to post rants. Still waiting :)

3. Wait! I heard from Immigration. Or Dar did because I was out running errands when they called. They said that my application is in process. That's it. It's been 18 months since I sent my latest application in - you might remember that someone from Immigration had called to tell me that I was here illegally and had to start again (headdesk x 1000) - and all I get is "in process." Dar said that they probably really called to see if 1) I were still alive and 2) if so, if I had given up and gone back to the States. So, I don't know. I'm taking it as good news.

4. Many baby alpacas born. Two of them were miracle babies. One other died, and it broke our hearts. Two, possibly three, left to go. One, possibly two, will be born tomorrow because they were medically induced today. It's been a very weird year for everyone and their alpacas. We all suspect it's due to the extremely long, hot summer.

5. We've been in coat and jacket weather for a few weeks now. I really hope we're not going to jump from summer into winter over the course of a month.

6. I've discovered that I'm a very good salesperson for our alpaca products (yarn, hats, scarves, mittens, lots of kits). It turns out that I enjoy talking about alpacas. Who knew? Heh. Plus it just supports my belief that most people are pretty nice. I've had the two top sales days at our booth at the farmers market. But then I've also had a day when I've only made three sales. Now that the weather is cooler, more people are thinking about warm clothing and/or knitting. We fit that bill nicely.

7. Dar has become a master of the dye pot. I'm dead serious. She's developed a way to get various shades (depths?) of the same color on a skein of yarn. It's a beautiful effect. And her variegated dyed yarns are luscious. We have the dyed yarns right on the end of our shop that's nearest to the corridor, and they pull people into the shop like a giant magnet.

8. Considering that I work (volunteer) at a television review site, I actually don't watch much TV. If it weren't for AMC and HBO, I'd probably just tune in to the MSNBC political news at night. And Up With Chris Hayes on weekend mornings.

9. Pixel is getting very round. She looks like a Kliban cat. She's still my baby girl.

10. Now I'm going to bed. Night-night, guys.

I'll save the not-so-good stuff for another day. Aren't you the lucky ones :)
Wow. I'm watching the men's team gymnastics on Canadian TV. China v. Japan. Those guys are crazy good.

Anyway. There's too much to catch up on. It's been brutally hot and humid, but we've had a break these last few days. We worry a lot about the alpacas, but so far they're dealing with it. We spend hours every morning making sure that they all have cold water to drink, their pools are filled, and everyone has been sprayed with a hose to their hearts' content. That last is the real time hog. Some of the alpacas could be (and have been) sprayed for 30 minutes at a time. We don't begrudge them a minute of it, either.

I'm only good for the morning chores. The heat and the sun put my lupus in overdrive, and I'm out of it for the rest of the day. Dar is out there, though, for as long as it takes. Because of her chiari, heat and humidity can be deadly for her. I worry about her a lot, and she did have a few days where things got scary for her. I'm so ready for summer to end.

We have seven crias running around out there being all sorts of adorable. Unfortunately we lost one. Ripley's little girl Inara was born septic, but the vets didn't pick up on it and prescribed the wrong medicine for her. It actually made the infection stronger and spread farther. She died three days later. Dar worked tirelessly to save her, and the little cria fought as hard as she could, too. The vets felt terrible. We don't blame them for this. It was a tough call. They're having a rough year, too. They said that there have been an unusually high number of problem births across all species this summer, and we've certainly seen it on our farm and our friends' farms. Welcome to the new climate, guys. We still have six more births to go. Or is it eight? We're hoping for the best, of course.

Our fiber collective rented a stall at the very popular St. Jacob's Farmers Market, and we've been there for a month now. It's going pretty well, considering that we're brand new and we're selling nice, toasty-warm alpaca products in record-breaking heat:) We get a lot of people stopping in, and we do the education thing about alpacas and their elite fiber. The word is spreading; people are promising to come back when it gets cooler, and I believe them. What is selling well are the yarns that Dar has hand dyed. They pull a lot of people in. The knitters that come by are all squeeing over our products and telling their friends about us. I see some impressive sales coming up in the fall and winter.

I have fun while I'm there. I love talking about alpacas; for as strong an introvert as I am, I'm quite happy to chat up complete strangers about our herd and our products. Plus I'm meeting some interesting people from around the globe. Seriously, St. Jacob's Farmers Market is a very, very big tourist destination. It's a long and tiring day, but it's more than worth it.

I'm woefully behind in posting pictures. My new (refurbished) laptop is wonderful, but it's running the latest version of Mac OSX. Which is good, really, except that none of my camera software is compatible now. Being a newfangled machine, though, my laptop has a memory card reader. Yay! Except it's a bit more complicated to keep track of things, and I'm only motivated and alert in the morning. Which is when I run errands or do the alpaca chores. Hence - I am woefully behind in posting pictures :) I'm trying to catch up with it all, though. And I will.

Ummm. I'm watching very little TV during the summer. I don't go to the movies. I'm not reading that much right now. Man. What the hell do I do with my time? Ha! Seriously, I have no idea. It just seems to go screaming by.

I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I usually don't; I'm not much of a fan for the big productions. (Hate Superbowl half-time shows. Hate!) Then I discovered that a lot of journalists I follow on Twitter were posting very funny comments about the fail that was the NBC commentary. One woman in particular (Laura Seay @texasinafrica) covers the news in Africa - which is a continent, not a country, right? - and she was having a verbal stroke over the misinformation and blunders and borderline racism of some of the commentary. It was pretty entertaining. And educational.

Oh! Somewhere, somehow, the chemicals in my body went waaaaaaaaaaaaay out of whack. I spent a couple weeks with my tongue swelling more and more until I couldn't really bite down because it was covering my bottom teeth. Then it started to hurt a great deal; it felt as if it had been burned with blowtorch and then sanded with grit. It was also an ashy red. Very unpleasant. Along with that, I've had a metallic taste in my mouth for months now. Dar figured out that I had a folic acid deficiency. I started taking 1000mg of folic acid daily and another 600mg in my multi-vitamin. Tongue goes back to normal. Yay! Metallic taste completely takes over my mouth to the point that most foods make me gag, and I can't sleep because of the terrible, constant, overwhelming metallic taste in my mouth. Dar figures out that I now have a zinc deficiency because I'm overdoing the folic acid. Now I'm cutting back the folic acid and taking zinc, but there is a prominent warning everywhere zinc is mentioned that I could throw off the copper in my system. I'm afraid to look up what those side effects will be :) So I need to make an appointment with my doctor to get some blood work done and find out just what's what with my blood composition. The zinc is helping. I still can't eat most foods, but the metallic taste is more muted. I'm thankful for that.

There's a lot of stuff going on, but it would take too long to go into it tonight. I'll try to get it out here, but the weather needs to cooperate. In the meantime, here I am, surrounded by cats. Just the way I like things.
This one wasn't a surprise in so much as we knew the mom was pregnant, but we had no idea she was ready to give birth so soon - or so quickly. I was watering the girls (giving them showers, filling their pools and water buckets) when Dar came over and said simply, "Her water just broke. I'm going for the birthing kit." And there was Michaela on her side, legs stiffly out in front of her. In the 45 seconds that it took for me to turn off the hose, put it down, and walk over to her, the baby's foot was already out. Unfortunately you're supposed to see both feet and a nose, so Dar helped turn the baby, and he just slid out. He's a gorgeous boy (I know I keep saying that, but he really, really is), and he was up and walking in about 30 minutes. He could only manage to walk backwards for a while, so that was frustrating for him and adorable for us. He finally got that all straightened out, and by sunset he was sprinting around the paddock.

We've still got a slew more to go, and I'm here by myself at the moment, which makes me very nervous. Dar had to set up our product at St. Jacobs Market this afternoon, so that left me to keep an eye on things. I hate being the one in charge during birthing season. I've had two births happen on my watch, and both of them were tragic and horrible, and both crias died. I have good reason to be fearful. But it's late in the afternoon now, and no one was looking particularly ready to give birth, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everyone just chills until Dar is back in a few hours. But just to be on the safe side, I'm going out to check on them now.

I still need to load the camera software on the new laptop (the media drive was stuck until last night), but I'll post pictures as soon as I can.
Both Miss M ([livejournal.com profile] darlong's daughter) and I have birthdays in May, so Dar bought us tickets to see 42nd Street at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The tickets were for June 2, and when she gave them to us at the end of May, I knew that date meant something else. It finally hit me that one of the members of our alpaca fiber consortium was having an open house, and they'd asked me to take souvenir pictures of visitors posing with our friends' alpacas. I had to cancel out on them, but Dar had bought the tickets many months ago; the Shakespeare Festival tickets sell out early.

The play was a lot of fun, and they did a great job of transferring a sprawling Busby Berkeley musical movie onto a small stage with only a dozen actors. We had third row seats on the side, which is the best of both worlds: We were up close and personal with the actors, and I could see parts of backstage, too. I love being able to watch what's happening off stage - or at least that bit of it available to that sight line. Partway through the last act, I realized I could also see the conductor stationed at the back of the theater - so that was fun, too. I know; I'm a freak.

The bad part about sitting so close to the stage was that I'm sure they saw me nodding off and falling asleep briefly several times toward the end of the first act. I'm still having a bad time with fatigue, but I really thought having a bunch of people energetically tap dancing about 12 feet away from me - with an orchestra going full blast - would have been able to keep the fatigue at bay. But no. In addition, fighting off fatigue brings a lot of nausea with it; I'm not sure why that is, but it's what happens with me anyway. I took some meds during intermission, and that did the trick. I still felt as if I should have hung around and apologized to the actors.

I never did get to see The Hunger Games, and I had no interest in The Avengers. I did some digging around spoilers for Prometheus, and based on those I'm going to skip seeing that in a theater, too. I'd get too drawn into it if I saw it on a big screen, and I know that there are some scenes that I really do not want to have to watch or even sit through. It's easier to distract myself if I'm watching it on TV. Honestly? I'm not sure I could sit through a movie anymore. I tend to catch movies when they're finally released to HBO, but I find I have to watch it several times because I'm called away by something else - or I fall asleep. *hangs head in shame* Based on what happened at 42nd Street, I'd probably fall asleep in the movie theater, too. I am no fun anymore.

I finished The Lost City of Z a while ago. It's a great read, and I highly recommend it to you all. I can believe that Doyle based his Lost World characters on the real-life adventures of explorer Percy Fawcett. On the other hand, I just finished Redshirts, and it was a struggle to get through it. I ended up scanning most of it for anything interesting. It's got a good premise based on an in-joke with Star Trek fans since the show first ran in the '60s, but Scalzi (the author) can't deliver on it. I know I'm in the minority here; it's getting loads of good reviews.

I still have my Rachel Maddow book waiting for me, but it's going to be a busy summer. I'm not sure I'll be able to dig into something that's going to require some close reading. Not only do we have a hundred million babies coming (or maybe it just feels that way), but we also have a number of shows to do. The consortium has rented a booth at the big St. Jacob's Farmers Market; it'll be staffed three days a week, so we'll be rotating through shifts there, plus there a few other venues we're booked into this summer.

We're expecting record-breaking heat and humidity for the next few days. It's not a great time for the babies to be born; they're in as much danger of dying from heat as they are of dying from cold. So of course we can expect a few them to be born in the 100+ degree weather. Because that's just how our girls roll.
that's sure what it sounds like out there. And according to [livejournal.com profile] darlong, that's what it felt like, too. Tons of damage everywhere. She and our friend Skye had to wear bandanas over their noses and mouths while doing chores because the dust and dirt was being blown around relentlessly. Deb has damage to the mill. In Kitchenere/Waterloo (biggish urban area 25 miles east of us) easily ten traffic lights were blown off their lines. Either dangling into the intersections or just dropped onto the ground. Trees down everywhere. Surprisingly, we didn't lose power, but I had the bathtub filled just to be safe. Crazy, crazy weather.

I had 2 1/2 hours sleep last night, so I've too loopy to do much of anything today except page through the internet and stare into space. I'd have been a danger to myself and others if I were out in all of that strong wind, so I stayed in. And did not sleep. *headdesk* I'm sure a lot of you know how you reach that tipping point where your body just will not shut down. Yeah, I waved at that as I zoomed by at around, oh, 7AM.

Anyway, this is not a posty post because - loopy. But it is pic spam of our tent boys. I took these a few days ago. I don't know - are three pics equal to a spam?

A few of the boys )
There is snow everywhere; the sunshine is streaming in around the edges of the window shade in my room, and the Rocky cat is snoring happily next to me on my bed. CBC Radio 2 is playing a lovely assortment of choral music; I'm trying not to nod off to sleep amidst all of this contentment.

I've just come back from spending a few hours in Lancre with Granny, Nanny, Magrat, "our Shawn," and a truly vicious horde of Lords and Ladies. That's it for unread Discworld books in the house. Now what do I read? I have a gift certificate to Amazon.ca, but I'm having a lot of trouble deciding on what to order. Top choices: Catching Fire (the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy), The Lost City of Z (a true travel/adventure book about an expedition to the Amazon), or any number of still unread Discworld books. You see my dilemma. Of course it's not as though I get this one choice and then will never be able to order any other book ever again in my life - ever. But that's how it feels when it comes time to place an order. I don't have this trouble in an actual bookstore, only online. And that is why I am considered to be a classic neurotic. (I do love the classics.)

I have a job. Or at least a job title. I'm now Executive Producer at The Voice of TV. Dar is an executive producer, too; we have different specific duties but identical general ones. My stuff doesn't actually kick in until the new site is launched in March, at which time I'm supposed to be a liaison with various networks and studios, scheduling set visits and interviews and such like. I'll also continue with reviewing and editing. It is a nominal salary for the time being, but that's fine with me. It's interesting, and it keeps me off the street corners.

I'm reviewing The River on ABC right now. Have you seen it? I like it, but then I like horror stories. This show is not a gore-fest, for which I am very thankful, but it has a wonderful eeriness, and they make great use of sound and all of those multiple camera angles. There are some squeamish moments for me - it takes place in the Amazon, so there are big bugs. Do not do big bugs. But other than that, I'm enjoying it.

I'm gearing up to review Game of Thrones when it returns April 1. I guess that the producers are sticking with GoT as the series name; the actual second book is Clash of Kings, and the whole story series is A Song of Ice and Fire, but I think most viewers haven't read the books.

Next up for reviewing is Missing, again on ABC; it stars Ashley Judd and Sean Bean! And you'll never guess what happens to Sean Bean's character in the very first episode. He gets killed! No, really! Hahahahahaha. That's no spoiler; it's built right into the story line, btw. But just the thought of Sean Bean's character being killed again . . . I just have to watch this show. And they're going to have to update the Sean Bean Death Reel.

In not so amusing death news, the oldest alpaca on the farm died on Jan 31. Daniel belonged to Deb, and he was one of the top alpaca studs in Canada. He'd been sick for a good part of the winter, but Dar nursed him back to health. We were all breathing sighs of relief that he was back to his old grumpy, adorable self when he suddenly just dropped dead. We think it was a heart attack or stroke. The only good news is that he went very quickly, and he went while he was grazing in the winter sun. We miss him terribly. As does our white suri boy, Ozzie, who lived in the paddock next to Daniel, and who was his best friend. After Daniel's body was taken away, Ozzie paced the fence line, crying. Dar let him into Daniel's paddock; Ozzie searched around Daniel's little house for him, and then sniffed out where Daniel died. He spent some time there and then went back to his own paddock. You cannot tell me that these aren't sensitive creatures.

The rest of the alpacas are doing well. It's been a relatively mild winter here, for which we're thankful on the alpacas' behalf. Most of the adult females are seven or eight months pregnant now, and Dar said she's seen cris movement in some of the pregnant moms. We should start seeing babies popping out in late May.

I haven't even picked up my camera in weeks. It hasn't been the greatest winter for me as far as health goes. I went completely off prednisone in late November:just in time for the cold, windy, wet weather to kick in. My joints were not pleased. Then I got hit with the world's longest lasting cold last month. It just finished with me a few days ago. Not that health was the only reason for not using my camera. The battery is going on it, and it's not working all that well. I really want a new camera, and I'm hoping to get one in a few months. I'd like to go back to a smaller Canon. We'll see.

And that's about it for now. Oh, hey, I just realized that I do have one more Discworld book squirreled away: Wintersmith. And The Walking Dead compendium, too. I can has books! To read, it is good.

The rest of the alpacas are doing well.
I never thought I'd get to the point where I'd only be posting every few weeks, but here I am. If thoughts could flow from my mind onto the screen, I'd have been spamming y'all from here to hell and back. Instead I wait for the confluence of time, energy, and a working internet connection. Tonight the stars, as they say, are aligned.

I think I mentioned that the screen on my MacBook is kaput. It's a stylish deep black, which is lovely but hardly functional. I have an old Samsung monitor hooked up to it; the down side is that the connecting plug falls out if I breathe wrong. Some days I swear I'm just going to Crazy Glue the damn thing in place, but then my rational side takes over, and I pick up the stupid plug from off the floor and reinsert it. Along with this comes my "now you have it, now you don't" internet connection. I keep the network diagnostics window open so I can watch the internet connection button flicker merrily back and forth from red to green. It kind of drains the fun from the whole internet experience sometimes, but, as my journal title declares, I am an internet junkie :)

I think I've also mentioned that I was writing reviews for Hell on Wheels for The Voice of TV. The series ended its first season a week ago Sunday, and it feels weird not to be filing a review on a Monday morning. It was scary to leap into review writing, but I ended up enjoying it. It was the one form of writing that had always given me trouble; I'd end up writing a recap instead of a review. I hate not doing something simply because it frightens me, so I took the time to study a raft of different reviews by writers I admire and took that leap of faith. It worked out pretty well, I think. My reviews didn't have a huge following (usually around 185 readers), but one of them was Tiffany Vogt, who is a bit of a big deal. That's flattering. Next up is Game of Thrones. Yay! The tricky part, having read the books, will be avoiding all those, "OMG, guys, wait until you see what happens next!" moments :) I may end up doing The River, too. It's a mystery/thriller/supernatural story by the people who brought you Paranormal Activity.

Oh! I got my brother addicted to The Walking Dead! For a while I was getting frequent emails titled "TWD Stupid Question of the Day." Heh. He went out and bought the first trade, but he's watching S2 on Comcast On Demand, and they're slowly doling out the episodes. He should be just about at the mid-season finale, and I'm dying to hear his reaction. That was one hell of an episode, even if you knew what was coming.

Speaking of scary stuff, I've been watching the GOP primary race. I . . . it's insane. I'm all bruised from my jaw hitting the floor so often. I've become a serial sputterer. I'm just holding on to the thought that the audiences at those debates are an extreme subset of average Republicans, and the majority is not fooled by those hateful idiots running for the nomination.

OK, complete change of subject. I need suggestions on what to eat for breakfast. Dar has been reading a few studies that are linking gluten to autoimmune diseases including lupus and Sjogren's. Every morning I have one whole wheat English muffin: half with peanut butter and apricot or peach jam, and half with veggie cream cheese. Here's the deal: I need to get a decent serving of protein and fiber; it has to be filling enough to counter the nausea that comes with my morning meds, but not so much that it gives me nausea from having eaten too much. (The reason why I do half peanut butter and half cream cheese is that too much of either gives me nausea.) Oh, and I've reached the point where swallowing even tiny pills is difficult, so I chew almost all of my meds. That means that breakfast has to be able to cancel the bitterness of the pills. So - what do you think? Also, keep in mind that I'm in a rural area; salsa is considered exotic.

The cats are fine. The alpacas are mostly fine; it's been terribly cold and windy lately, so we have coats on a couple of the more vulnerable ones, and we're terribly worried about Daniel, who is the oldest alpaca here. Dar is doing her best; he gets better then relapses a bit. He's not having a good day, but we're hoping he starts to bounce back tomorrow. And speaking of bouncing - or not - Dar took a bad fall on the ice a few days ago and bruised her tailbone. Scared the crap out of me when I looked out the window and saw her lying on the laneway. Damn ice. Damn winter. Just a few more months, and things should start to improve. We can do this!
1. Oh, this is so not going to be in chronological order. Or any kind of logical order. Here we go.

2. We have snow. We have single-digit temps out there (celsius). Winter is well and truly here, no matter that we had a lovely long wait for it. I didn't miss having to shovel out the gates into the paddocks so we could actually feed and water the guys.

3. Daniel, the oldest alpaca on the place, is not doing well. We moved him into a pen in the mill until this terrible cold spell passes and also until he starts to recover from his ills. The vet has been out and done blood work; the best guess is that he has a stomach ulcer, but we suspect that he also has a problem tooth, and he most certainly has arthritis in his neck. (Alpacas have long necks; this is no small problem.) Dar has been doing her medico thing, and this afternoon during chores Daniel looked much better. Poor old guy. He's a particular favorite of all of us. He's 16 years old, which is nearing the end of an alpaca's lifespan, but we're hoping he's around for a while yet.

4. Christmas was achieved; it was a low-key affair but nice. I wasn't feeling very well, so that put a damper on it for me. Lupus has just been kicking my butt for the past few months, and on top of that I had an infected finger. Dar had to lance it Christmas night (it was not a simple process) and then again the next night. Happily that time was a lot less bother and mess.

5. Dar knitted me a pair of alpaca slippers for Christmas! They're so freakin' soft and warm - I can't even begin to tell you. I'm wearing them now. Over my alpaca socks. The rest of me may be chilled, but the feet . . . they are doing fine.

6. Maddie gave me a gift card to Chapters, so I hightailed it down there yesterday and finally bought a copy of Snuff, Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld novel. Love. Love,love,love.

7. HBO has been rerunning Game of Thrones. I don't why they're cramming it all into a few days this week, but I'm happy to rewatch it whenever. I've been reading about the upcoming release of the DVD and Blu-ray sets and OMG! I want. I really, really, really want. Now you have to understand that I'm not a DVD person. I don't watch DVDs as a rule, and I think the last one I bought was Firefly. No, wait - Lord of the Rings. That came later, right? Anyway, the point is that I want this set, and I want it for the extras - which is also a crazy departure for me. But I saw a teaser bit about the background of two of the religions in the story - The Seven and The Old Ones - and it was unbelievably gorgeous. And that's just one tiny portion of the background included in the set. I just really want to get my hands on it. They'll be released in March, and the new season starts on HBO in April. My spring is booked up :)

8. I discovered last week that I had been driving around with no oil in my car. At least not enough oil to register on the dip stick. I've been driving for *breaks out the calculator* 46 years, and I've been a car owner for almost all of them; I have never done anything like this before. I was mortified. Still am.

9. The kitties were remarkably good about the tree this year. I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's become old hat to them. It's funny: last year Dar was sick, so I did all the tree trimming. This year I wasn't up to it, so she did it all. Balance is the key, eh.

10. We got our tree the Sunday before Christmas at a florist in town that hangs the trees from the ceiling. It was (is) a very pretty tree, but we felt more like we were ransoming it than buying it. "Here! Here's your money! Now cut that poor tree down!"

11. In addition to other health problems, I had a severely swollen left knee last week; Dar was concerned that it was a blood clot, which scared the crap out of me. Lupus also brought with it a moderate case of APS (antiphospholipid syndrome), which carries a high risk of blood clots and stroke or heart attack. Happily it turned out to be a problem with my lymphatic system instead. Dar's son, Oliver, is going for his doctorate in osteopathy, so he worked on me while he was here at Christmas. Right away, he saw that my pelvis was out of line by at least two inches. Really, it didn't surprise me; I've been out of whack literally for decades. I need to continue treatments, but that's easier said than done during the winter. We'll see how it goes. The good news is that Oliver got things moving and the swelling has gone down.

12. I got drunk three times over the Christmas holiday, and each time it was from eating some of Dar's baking. Ha! She makes rum cake and "boozy balls," which are like rum balls except made from an Irish liquor called Poteen. Damn that stuff is powerful. The first time I got looped, I was only licking the bowl, and it snuck up on me :) The other two times were from the rum cake, which I clearly need to stay away from. Not that that's going to happen :)
We had an open house at the mill today. It was sunny but very, very cold. I was giving alpaca tours wearing a winter coat and hat - and I still froze right to the bone. I lasted four hours, then my asthma kicked in and my body started to shut down (lupus weirdness), so I gave up and went into the house for the rest of the afternoon. People loved the alpacas! Sandstorm and Samson were particular favorites because they're adorable and they're very friendly. They must have had their pictures taken a hundred times today. Little stars, that's what they are.

I have no recent pictures of either of them (of course), but I do have:

Cosmo looking adorable.

Pix pillow wand_0910
Pixel looking adorable. That yellow wand under her hind foot is her favorite toy in the world. The World. It cracked me up that she fell asleep kind of clutching it.
I kinda sorta have my internet connection back. If I'm online in the living room, the connection to the network will wonk out every once in a while, and I'll have to reset it. I keep the network diagnostics window open all of the time now, to make the whole process easier. If I'm in my bedroom, I have to pretty much contort myself to keep the laptop in line with whatever connection voodoo is making its way here and in a position where I can see the external monitor. So far it's working.

For the first time in over two weeks I went outside to do the afternoon alpaca chores. It's amazing how quickly I can get out of shape. The good news is that I made it through without triggering an asthma attack - and that hasn't happened in months. I'm very psyched about it all. Plus it was great to see the fleecey guys again. They're still goofballs :)

I watched Terra Nova last night, and I was bored, bored, very bored. And I'm pretty sure that they recycled the sound effects from Hitchcock's The Birds. I'll probably not bother to try to catch it again.

In my romp through the Discworld, I've just started on Witches Abroad. God, I love those old ladies. And Magrat :) This is my eleventh Discworld book, and while not strictly in order for all the written material, I'm reading the different serials in order, i.e. the witches and the watch series. Then I'll go back and fill in where I can when I can.

And now I'm going to watch Glee. I know. I can barely believe it myself.
I miss taking pictures. When I'm outside, I'm too busy to lug my camera along with me. And when I'm finished with whatever it is I'm doing, I'm too tired to go in and get the camera. I need a smaller camera, methinks.

The last of this season's crias was born this morning. Ariel (daughter of Angelica) is just amazing: very bright, very active, and very big. She was 21 lbs at birth (big for a huacaya), and she's covered in dense curls. She looks like a little lamb. This is one of Deb's alpacas, and she thinks that she has another champion in Ariel; I think she's right.

We've added a dozen alpacas to our herd. They're not ours, but they are agisting at our place, so we're responsible for their upkeep and their health and happiness. We aim to please :) It's 8 adult females, 1 girl cria, and 3 adult males. Very nice looking alpacas, too, even if they are huacayas rather than suris. They had been agisting at a large farm not too far away, but they were in with a herd of 140 alpacas. They had no shelter except run-in sheds (3-sided), and they were fed from a big feeder out in the middle of the field - regardless of weather conditions - that was replenished once a week. Needless to say, they are loving it here at Chez Serenity :) The first two days they barely left their barn, just kind of hung out chowing down on the hay manger. Then they wandered around more and discovered that they'll get daily showers while I fill their buckets and pools. Yup, very happy 'pacas. And their owners are pretty happy, too, because now they can be hands-on with their guys. They hadn't seen them up close in over a year; today they came over and read the alpacas' microchips to figure out who was who. Dar's got some of the new names memorized, but I still only know that the baby is named Bella. Oh, and I know the boys' names. It's a work in progress.

And that's pretty much it. The sun is doing me in, but that's just something I have to deal with. Oh, it turns out that Dar really did break her elbow! There were more x-rays done last week, and it shows a fracture along the forearm right near the joint. She has an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow to see what can be done about it. Yes, the fun never stops around here. We're all hoping that it won't require surgery, so keep some good thoughts, please.

And now to bed. I'm still behind on everything internet-related. I look at it, and I just . . . sag. It's not that I don't want to write/reply/comment, it's just that effort seems monumental most of the time. In fact, I'm writing this instead of doing any of the other, and I'm . Losing words. Time to quit. Argh.
Hey! How the hell are y'all?

1. Fatigue is my reason for not updating. Guilt is my reason for updating now.

2. I finished A Dance with Dragons two days ago. I've been reading the Song of Ice and Fire books for months now; it seems very strange not to be reading them still. I like the latest book, but I agree with whoever it was who said that he needed a good editor.

3. Now completely enthralled by Terry Pratchett's City Watch series. Just finished Night Watch this morning, and I'm ready to pick it up and read it again. BUT . . . I have THUD! sitting here, luring me in. I love his writing, love his outlook on life and the whole ball of wax. Basically, I want to immerse myself in the Discworld and leave everything else behind for a while.

4. We named the newest cria Dexter, and he's doing very well. The next youngest, Cosmo, has an ulcerated eye, so we're giving him eye drops twice a day. Actually, Dar is giving him the drops; I'm corralling him and holding him still.

5. Speaking of Dar, she tripped on a mat in the girls' barn last week and dislocated her elbow. She thought at first that it was broken, but the news was better, happily. She's still sore and babying it, but she's much improved.

6. Two of our yearling boys (Samson and Tango) had to be moved out of the girls' barn because they're maturing and incessantly harassing the open females. I doubt that they could impregnate any of them, but it's annoying as hell and why take chances. There was a little shuffling around trying to find the right place for them, but we ended up putting them in the paddock next to Hannibal and the older suri males. Holy crap - I thought Hanni and the other guys were going to seriously hurt themselves trying to get at the boys. The testosterone was off the charts with those guys, and at one point they started attacking each other. They finally calmed down, but we had to stay there for a while to be sure no one was going to be injured. Meanwhile Samson and Tango were pretty much oblivious to the Macho Fest after the first few minutes. They started to neck wrestle each other and play bite each other's heels - none of which was helping to settle the older guys down. Males.

7. The weather finally broke. It's positively cool tonight, although today was dreadfully humid. In fact, we haven't had a break from the humidity for weeks now, but at least for tonight we don't have heat added onto it. No major thunderstorms, either. We had a few showers today, but we're still pretty dry hereabouts. I think there's a ban on open fires, too.

8. LJ is still being wonky for me, but at least it's letting me in. Not all of your updates are showing up every time, so I do a lot of refreshing. I'm just grateful that it's back in whatever form it is.

9. I really have to close my bedroom windows. Yay! Pixel is enjoying the cool breeze, but I'm more of a wimp. Have a good one, guys!
I just got into LJ. I'm guessing that there are still people who are locked out, mostly because I don't want to believe that I was the last one in :)

Huh. Lady Gaga is performing on So You Think You Can Dance as I type this. It's the first time I've seen her perform. OK, she's good, but I don't get the adulation. But then I'm old. And speaking of SYTYCD, I am loving this season. Melanie! Marko! Sasha! Tadd! That's my top four, and I'd be happy with either Melanie or Sasha winning. No, I take that back. I think Melanie should win. Did you see that leap she did last night? It literally took my breath away. The courage and passion that took - it boggles my mind.

We had a surprise baby yesterday. Conchita had a little boy! It didn't seem like she was in labor, so Dar and I took off into Waterloo to run a bunch of errands. We were about 15 minutes away on our way home when Dar got the call that a new cria was seen in the pasture. Uh-oh! We zoomed home to find this lovely brown baby boy. It was a hot and humid day, and he was dehydrated but otherwise OK. Dar got him back up to speed with liquids, and today he's nursing like a champ and trotting around checking everything out. I have pictures which I will try to post.

We got the heat wave up here, too. That surprised my brother; he thought we never got hot weather. Ha! Would that it were so. With the humidity, the temps were around 100 each day. Most of the time we had at least a breeze, sometimes a wind, but then there were the calm days when it was just grueling to move. Doing that many days without access to a/c took a toll. Dar (who has chiari) was having some brutal headaches due to the humidity; I was having a hard time dealing with the heat because of lupus. But we did it, and the alpacas made it through, too. Today was massively humid, but at least it was mostly cloudy so the temperatures didn't go as high as they could have.

Don't I lead a fascinating life?

I'm about halfway through A Dance with Dragons. It's certainly the darkest of the books, and I find that it can't be the last thing I read before I try to go to sleep. I switch over to the City Watch books from Terry Pratchett before I nod off, because I'd rather dream of the Night Watch than the Night's Watch. Although I would kill for a collaboration between Pratchett and Martin on a crossover between those two groups. Vimes and Carrot on the Wall! Nobby, Colon, and Sam! Gaspode and Ghost! C'mon - it's perfect :) Seriously, I wish I had my writing joint back, because that would make for some great stories.

I just heard tonight that HBO will only commit to 10 episodes per season because of the intricacies of the production. My heart sank. There is no way they can do the series that slowly. The stories expand and intertwine and diverge and add so many new characters that it will take a decade to get even most of it in, and there is no way they can follow the arcs with Arya and Bran over that length of time. The young actors are going to age way past the point that they continue to play those characters. Ah, it makes me sad.

Other things. I drove Dar to a nearby farm to check on a pair of alpacas who had been doing poorly in early spring. What a cool place it turned out to be. The couple who live there love animals, so they have their own little menagerie. There were the two alpacas (who are doing very well now), two llamas (one of whom seems to be pretty pregnant, much to the surprise of the owners), a donkey, a pony, pigs, cattle, chickens, two farm cats, a newly adopted quartet of the cutest kittens ever, and an older girl dog named Spot who has the patience of a saint. One of the kittens took to Spot like a magnet to metal; at one point the kitten had wrapped all four of her legs around one of Spot's front legs, and used it to hoist herself up enough to chew on Spot's ear. Spot just kind of sighed and took it. BTW, Spot looks to be a beagle/basset hound mix. Kind of soulful-looking and low to the ground. It was adorable. All of the animals are well cared for, and outside of the alpacas who have their own fenced-in enclosure next to everyone else, all live peaceably with each other. It was fun to visit.

And what the hell is going on back in the States? I've been following things pretty closely, and I can barely believe that things have come to this pass so quickly. I don't understand why the Democrats won't stand up to the Republicans. The conservatives have trashed the country that I knew, and they seem intent on bringing it to a total collapse. Why won't someone stop them? There are still a few moderate Republicans left, and even the bluest of Blue Dog Dems should be sicked and frightened by the rapid attacks - and victories! - against women's rights, workers' rights, and the basics of a compassionate civil society. I'm heartbroken.

OK, now I have to shake this off somehow. City Watch to the rescue, I think. I just bought Jingo. Maybe I'll just leaf through the book and find the pages that have Lady Sybil in them. Truth be told, she's my favorite character of them all. I adore her, and I cherish Pratchett for bringing her to life.

Yup, that's the note to end on. (On which to end, OK?) Heh.
We've finally had some warm weather, and that means filling up the pools for the alpacas. Most prefer just to get sprayed with the hose, but we have a handful who are just fools for the pool.

Surf's up! )
Still no internet at home. I'm at the library with Maddie, who has to do some online stuff for her university registration. The internet guys were calling Deb this morning, so hopefully things will move along.

In other news . . . omg, guys. There were two crias born yesterday. Deb's girl, Mayo (she didn't name her) had a little girl, now named Maggie. She needed a little help, but everything went pretty well. Mom and baby are great.

Our poor Delilah went into labor at the same time; four hours later Dar called the vet because Delilah just wasn't progressing and was obviously in a lot of pain and distress. The vet finally showed up (he was on another emergency call) and discovered that the baby was really out of position. He reached in and all he could feel was a neck. (He should be feeling feet, legs, and a head.) He had to turn the baby around in utero, and then pull him out. Really rough on the mom and the baby. He's a beautiful jet black boy, but he had a shaky start, obviously. He couldn't nurse, so Dar was checking on him every two hours. About 11 PM she went out and found him bleeding out! His umbilicus had ruptured and he was barely alive. She got it tied off, but he's still so weak. She's been out there every 90 minutes, feeding him and giving him fluids to try to build up his volume. He's doing a little better, but she's still not sure he's going to make it. Poor Delilah is frantic; she knows something is very wrong, but she can't do anything except stay by him and cry. (Yes, alpacas cry in their own way.)

Dar says that if he makes it to 24 hours (around 3PM today), that his odds of survival greatly increase. God knows, that she's doing everything in her power to keep him alive. There's no such thing as an alpaca blood transfusion, so it's up to his own system to make up the blood volume. He's so little guys, and so very sweet. Good thoughts will be much appreciated. For him and for Dar, both.

In still more alpaca news, the people who bought most of Deb's herd of huacayas will be moving them today. We were expecting them on Thursday, but they called the morning and told her about the change of plans. On one hand it'll be nice to have fewer animals to take care of, but on the other . . . I'm really going to miss them. We all have our favorites among them, and their leaving is going to leave a big hole in our lives.

And now I have to get back. Just need to do a quick run to the store to do some major chocolate shopping. We hope to be back online pretty soon. Hope you all are doing well, my sweets.
1. Yay, NY! It wasn't a landslide by any means, but you pulled it together enough to do the right thing.

2. We have no internet at home and probably won't for several days yet. (We've ducked into a Starbucks for internetness, but my battery is dying!) The modem is fried; no tech service on the weekend, and they'll call on Monday. Which means we'll probably see someone around Thursday.

3. I could make you laugh at the incredible number of things that have died or are in the process of dying in my car. My favorite was, after just getting out of the garage (for $700) the day before, the alternator died as the car was pulling into the driveway. Happily, we've met someone through a friend who is an out-of-work, very nice guy mechanic. He fixed the alternator (and will work on the rest of the list) at a fraction of the cost.

4. No new crias. We have four who are racing around the paddocks like they have rockets on their butts. They are very, very fast. And simply adorable. Two more crias due; actually they're overdue.

5. Deeply immersed in the Song of Ice and Fire stories. Deeply.

6. That should do it for the quick update. Hope to be back online by next week. Think good internet thoughts, please.

Ezra and Harley_0134, originally uploaded by maystone1.

Ezra (left) is a week old; Harley (right) is two days old.

Cria madness! )

August 2015

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