Barn cat on back_0104, originally uploaded by maystone1.

She's a charmer but also shy around people. Loves the other animals, though.



More barn cat. What can I say? She's adorable. )
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_0979
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.
While I'm waiting for my battery to run down so I can plug it in and while I have a stable internet connection - a little catch up on what's been happening.

We spent many, many hours in the local ER (spread across two days), because Mark had intractable head and neck pain for a week prior to getting medical attention. Of course thoughts went to meningitis, stroke, aneurysm, brain tumor , all the bad stuff. It turned out to be a subluxated disk (C2?) from coughing so forcefully when he had a cold a few weeks ago. The disk was pressing on a nerve which in turn became more and more inflamed. He was put on a short course of high dosage prednisone, and it's mostly cleared up. There were some other health problems found during various exams and tests, and the bottom line is that he really, really needs to start taking care of himself. We'll see if that happens.

As that was happening, Dar got a call from her son that Little Cat was very sick. (Dar rescued a very fragile Little Cat when she was practically a newborn and nursed her to health. Little went to live with Dar's son a few years ago when we had so many cats that she just couldn't handle it.) It seemed at first as if Little (an indoor/outdoor kitty) was hit on the head; she had a big lump on top, and a few days later she became lethargic. Then the bump started to ooze pus. Then she went blind, lost her sense of smell, and started a manic pacing around the house. Off to the emergency vet went Dar, Oliver, and Little Cat; Mark (who had to drive, because I had to stay home to do chores) slept in the waiting room. It turned out that she inhaled the larvae of a bot fly; the larvae usually hatch and work their way out of the body by boring up through the skin, but occasionally they get lost and end up in the brain. (The vet said they've been seeing a lot of cases of this in urban areas, so please be advised.) High doses of prednisone for Little and sedatives so she could sleep; she's improving daily. We all really thought she was going to die.

Happily for us, [livejournal.com profile] sffan was visiting, and she saved our butts frequently over the week. She pitched in for chores like she did it for a living, and that helped us out tremendously. Our friend, Skye, also volunteered to drive up and help us (me) once SF had gone back to Toronto. Poor Skye - she was going to a benefit dinner immediately afterward, but it was raining while we were doing chores, and she left here with soaking wet jeans.

I realized at one point that I was the only around who could drive. If I took a header (and I was feeling poorly, too, at the time), we were sunk. Mark was too sick; Dar has a fused neck and is legally blind; Deb was gone (as were our friends down the road), and SF doesn't know how to drive. I told her that the next time she comes to visit, I am dragging her to an empty parking lot and getting her behind the wheel. She doesn't have to be a great driver, but if she's here during an emergency (and let's face it - we have a lot of those), then I want her to know at least how to accelerate, brake, and basically keep the car on the road. She unenthusiastically agreed :)

We spent about three days in the beautiful glow of autumn, and now we're on to winter. This is completely unfair, and I hate it. I was hoping to get out and take some pics of the foliage, but the week was taken up with medical emergencies. By the time that all settled down, the rain and high winds moved in; now almost all of the trees are bare, and we're trying to remember where we put our winter work clothes.

I'm down to 1/2 mg of prednisone; I'll be done completely with it in 3 1/2 weeks. Yikes. I take 1 mg every other day now, and on those days when I take none, it feels . . . scary is probably the best word. It's been a lately ineffective talisman, and I've hated the side effects, but it's also been a bit of a security blanket, because maybe it will start working again, and I'll start to feel better. I know that's not going to happen, but you get these irrational hopes, you know?
'
I told you that my monitor died, right? I'm using an old Samsung monitor hooked up to my laptop. That's working out OK, and I'm getting spoiled by the large screen and large font. However, just to add to the mess, my internet connection is now ridiculously unstable. I keep the diagnostic window open all of the time so I can tell if I've dropped the connection or if everything is slow (or not loading at all) for some other reason. While I've been writing this, I've been watching the button next to the Internet line flicker merrily back and forth between green and red. Mostly it's stayed green tonight; I think because the winds have died down. I don't know; I'm just making stuff up as I go along. Some days I can barely keep a connection, so if I'm not commenting, that's the reason.

I'm hoping that AMC will rerun the opener for The Walking Dead before the next episode airs on Sunday. I missed a lot of it because I was exhausted and not feeling all that well; it was hard to concentrate, and I kept muting it when there was screaming - which was pretty frequently. I did like what I saw, though. Oh - I tried to post a link to a youtube video, but I couldn't get it to copy. Please do yourselves a favor and seek out "The Walken Dead." A little bit of genius, that.

And that's it for the highlights. I hope that life has been dealing well with you. I know the answer is "Not so much" for a few of you, and you're in my thoughts. I had this small epiphany this morning; I realized that I no longer ask that things go better with me (us); now I just ask that they don't get any worse. I think that's some kind of growth. Acceptance, perhaps. Or maybe desperation? Ha :)

Pix rovings_0655, originally uploaded by maystone1.

Pixel knocked over a bowl of alpaca rovings ready to be weighed.



Upstairs Cats, Downstairs Cats )
1. I'm watching Cloverfield for the billiontyth time. I deeply love that movie, and yet I couldn't tell you the name of one actor in it. Because there are no actors - it's a documentary, see?

2. My right ring finger has an infected hangnail. Or space where the hangnail was before I pulled it out. I will never learn.

3. Rocky cat is doing better, thank the powers (and Dar). He had bronchitis or maybe pneumonia; his breathing was terrible, and he was coughing up phlegm. He was lethargic, and wheezing, and not eating, but he's much better tonight. I was a little worried last night and this morning that it was getting worse again, but I think it had to do with the rain. I know that it makes my breathing worse. But the rain stopped, and I haven't heard him wheezing in hours. He's been in my room where I have the space heater going, and I think the warm, dry air helps him, too. Right now he's gently snoring :)

4. I haven't seen Dar since Thursday, but she's been online updating everyone. The doctors and nurses are very impressed with her progress. Yay! She even got out of bed for a bit today, which is just remarkable. Her epidural stopped working, so she's on a pump with Dilaudid. I hope it helps. I'll be seeing her tomorrow for a little while.

5. It was a miserable weather day today. Rainy and cold and windy. The driveway and lane to the paddocks were literally sheets of ice. I crept down the laneway to do chores. Then the rain turned to wind-driven ice pellets. Ouch. It finally turned to snow, and that actually made everything easier.

6. So we finished chores. I had some leftover pasta, took a shower, got into my jammies, and suddenly - out of nowhere - I remembered that I forgot to secure the pitchfork and the heavy rake in the boys' tent when I finished in there. If a couple of the boys got rambunctious and knocked them over and stepped on them, someone could get seriously hurt. So I climbed back into my snow pants and sweater and coat and barn boots, grabbed the flashlight and off I trudged. Fortunately, when I got there the tools were upright, and the alpacas were mostly settled in for the night. Until I barged in :) Then there was a lot of humming and "are you gonna feed us now?" stuff going on, but they quieted down pretty quickly.

7. Now to put some ointment on my finger, bandage it up, and call it a night.
1. We bought our Christmas tree today; it's sitting out in the hallway defrosting. We'll be decorating that bad boy tomorrow. I think. It's a bit of a miracle tree since it took Dar and me about 10 minutes to pick it out, get it trimmed and wrapped and stuffed into the trunk. Which first had to be de-iced before I could open it. Usually Dar takes at least 30 minutes to find a tree she likes, and there's much hauling up of trees and turning to get all angles and determining of the straightness of the trunk. Today? Second one we saw. This miracle was most probably helped along by the fact that it was -8C/20F, and Dar didn't have her hat or gloves :)

2. I got a little more Christmas shopping done today, but the rest is going to have to wait until next week. I can't shop online because I don't have an active credit card. I canceled my US one because they were changing their policy, and Canadian credit cards have insane interest rates so I didn't apply for one here. (They just don't have the population numbers it takes to force competition.) It'll all work out, I'm sure.

3. I have no icons and I must scream. (Harlan Ellison reference. Anyone? Anyone?) I lost my hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of icons when my hard drive died; I only have the ones that were active in my LJ account back when I had the extra icon package. I'm grateful for those, but none of them were holiday or season specific. I tried searching for icon communities on LJ, but it returned a grand total of 25 communities. That's craziness! So how do you go about searching out icon communities these days. I used to get lists of hundreds of communities, not these paltry few. I'm lost; I admit it.

4. I love alpacas. And cats.

5. Speaking of cats - while we were out running errands this morning, I stopped at my favorite pet supply store in Elmira. It's independently owned and carries a funky array of top quality cat foods. The nice thing is that they frequently sell sample bags so you can try a smaller amount before you invest in a full bag. I bought four different kinds along with some super catnip that the guys love. I walked into the house with the pet food bag and Pixel went nuts! I thought it was the catnip, but no . . . she was trying to claw her way into the food. So I opened up the Orijen "biologically appropriate dry cat food," and all three cats dug in. This one had, among other things, chicken, turkey, chicken livers, eggs, and russet potatoes. Sounds good to me.

6. I can't believe that the year is almost over. It seems that just when I'm getting used to writing one year, we forge on ahead to the next. Slow down, time, OK? I remember my parents and aunts & uncles always talking about how quickly time passes the older you get, and I didn't really get it. Now I do. It's just zipping, guys.

7. And the day zipped by, too. Night, all.
I didn't really choose to wake up, because I'd only been asleep for 2 1/2 hours, but apparently my brain (maybe my nervous system?) had its own agenda, and sleep was not on the list. I read. I went online and read some more. Finally around 5AM I started to fall back asleep. At 5:28AM Rocky woke me up by trying to scratch a hatchway through my bedroom door. Go away, Rocky. Almost fell asleep again when the cat fight brought me up and out of bed in a rush.

You see, we have this orange cat that roams around the area; he's not a stray, because he looks fed and groomed, but he's definitely an outdoor cat. He comes up onto our deck either late at night or early in the morning and taunts our three cats. They freak. I mean yowling and screaming and then Holmes gets aggressive and Rocky reacts and Pixel hisses and all three have huge tails and ruffled fur and it's a mess. This morning Dar was already up and trying to intervene - without getting herself slashed - but by the time it was over Rocky had one of his fangs torn out (or broken out) of his mouth. Blood and unhappiness. He's been laying low most of the day on my bed; I've been giving him attention and wet food since he's having trouble eating the dry stuff. Poor Rockula.

Then it was time to run some errands. I gather all of my stuff - water bottle, grocery bags, list, purse, iPod - throw it in the car, start to back up onto the road and then pull right back in because I have a flat tire. Who gets a flat tire in their own driveway? That would be me. I was all set to change the flat (heaven knows I've done it before), but I was saved by Deb's daughter's boyfriend. It turns out that my tires are so out of alignment that the tire - which is only a year old - was punctured by its own steel belt. There was some minor drama about finding the lug key, but that was resolved, and I toddled into town on the little donut spare tire that seemed barely big enough to keep that side of my car from scraping the ground.

Along the way I passed two different dead raccoons on our road (poor creatures), and one of them had a very active crowd of turkey vultures working on it. I had to nudge my way past them, because they were not giving up their roadway buffet. I made it to the garage, but I had to wait, of course, because I didn't have an appointment. Happily, I had thought to bring a book. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman. It's a reread, but it's been years since I've read it, so it's all pretty new to me. The upside of having memory problems :) I was there over two hours, but at least I left with a new tire and appointment next week to get the tires aligned. (In the meantime, I'm hoping not to drive that often.)

Then on to the farm store to pick up some stuff for the alpaca's barn. By this time I'm literally reeling from fatigue. I have to pick up soft wood pellets (35 lbs.) and Stable Boy (50 lbs.); they're each used on the floor of the barn to absorb liquid and help tamp down the smell. For some reason known only to the manufacturer, the bags for the soft wood pellets are made of what for all intents and purposes can be described as tissue paper. The bags split very easily, and it's the usual routine to lift and replace several bags because as you start to put it in the cart the contents start to spill out. So got that done. I have a shopping carriage, and I drape the heavy stuff across the little seat where people put their kids. Or their purses. The Stable Boy is on a high shelf, but that actually works to my advantage because I don't have to lift it. Dusty as hell, though. Oh, and I picked up a large bag of rabbit pellets; the alpacas love them. Head to the cashier - who is new - and do the dance of trying to find the damn UPC codes. Another new helper, trying to be, well, helpful, comes over, lift the 50 lb. bag so the cashier can get the code, and then drops it into the bottom of the carriage. *head desk* Then he races off to help someone in the rear of the store, because he is helpful. The cashier asks if I want to wait for him to help me load the stuff into my car, but I just want to get home. I did manage to wrangle it out of the carriage and into the trunk without hurting my back or dropping it on the ground and splitting it open. Yay!

On the way home, I notice that the buffet is over and there is nothing but a bloody splotch in the road now, and the buzzards are all flying around overhead. Damn, they're efficient.

Got home, dropped everything off at the barn. Tried to put the trunk back in order but gave up. Got something to eat, headed into my room and thought I'd get some sleep. But. The phone rang off the hook. (I wonder if there are people reading this who don't actually get the reference there?) Dar was there to answer it (and she's having her own day, by the way), but I never did get any sleep. And now it's going on 10PM, and I'm wide awake again.

And that was my day. How was yours?

Holmes_0368, originally uploaded by maystone1.

The very handsome Holmes staring at the birds outside of my bedroom window.



My room is the happenin' place for the kittehs. )
I am out of practice with this updating of the LJ thing. I was commenting to my friend [livejournal.com profile] sffan that I think about updating every day. I'll start writing the post in my head, and then when I think of typing it all up, I feel overcome with fatigue. Yes, it's been that bad at times. But today I slog onward! Slog, mays! Slog!

The latest cria count is twelve babies under four months old, and two more due any day now. Cinnamon Girl (our pregnant suri) gave us a fright over the weekend with constant moaning and continued rapid, labored breathing. We were out there checking on her every few hours, but the crisis seems to have passed as of yesterday. We're thinking that the cria was in the wrong position but has since righted itself. Octavia (Deb's pregnant huacaya) is at an astounding 390 days of gestation. (Alpacas run around an average of 345-355 days.) We're afraid that this is going to be a very difficult birth for her. The other girls who have gone over 360 days have all had to have human intervention to get their crias delivered. We just have to wait and hope.

I'm . . . unsettled. I hate what is happening back home with the rising anti-Muslim demonstrations across the US. I remember the Civil Rights movement, the violence and hatred that surrounded it. I've read about the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII; I know that my German-American family was investigated at that time, too. Scapegoats. Bigotry. They're always with us, but I never thought to see that virulence again in my lifetime. How naive was that, huh? There's a massive demonstration planned for 9/11 at Ground Zero. It's going to be terrible. It's as if this mosque that is not a mosque has become the crucible into which all the hateful elements have been been poured to seethe and finally erupt. I have no idea what to do; I feel so helpless.

See? This is why I don't update that often - and now I bet you're thankful :)

OK, let's talk cats. We have three (Rocky, Holmes, and Pixel); they were indoor/outdoor cats at our last place, but they're indoor only now. Bring on - - - The Orange Cat From Across The Street (screw proper capitalization)! Orange Cat has been traipsing around the property since the snow disappeared, but OC (unknown gender) stayed out in the fields or the empty paddocks, in sight of the alpacas (and causing them to alarm alarmingly) or lounged under the bushes in front. The past few days, though, OC has taken to coming up on the porch and peering in through the door, or - better yet - climbing the screen door. This apparently sets Pixel off into a frenzy of defensive cattishness with much hissing and poofing of her ginormous tail. I have no idea what OC is up to, but Dar is wondering if OC is a pregnant female looking for a place to have her litter. Like maybe on our back porch. Kitties! Oh dear God! I am helpless in the face of kitties, and we have our limit now. Please don't let it be kitties. I'll keep y'all informed.

On the health front, I'm still dealing with frequent, rolling bouts of massive fatigue. Very strange. More worrisome is that my eyesight is getting noticeably and speedily worse. I haven't been able to get in again to see the ophthalmologist to whom I was originally referred; I've called and I've stopped at the office in person - it's impossible to get his secretary to give me a freaking appointment. I'm going to see my PCP in two weeks and get her to refer me to a different ophthalmologist, one who I'd seen several years ago. I'm hoping to get in to see him pretty quickly, too. I don't ask for much, do I? Heh.

Dar is still getting chemo for her low iron. It's not as successful this round as it was initially, so she has to go back for a fourth session next week. The nurse said it could be because she was sick with a bad cold for over a week, and that could have suppressed her bone marrow production of red blood cells. Or it could be that the bleeding in her stomach has worsened. I'm at the point where I say we get in the car and drive to the States to get it seen to, because the doctors in this area have been dicking around for over two years now.

And again I'm back in the badness. Really, the main saving grace of these days is looking out my bedroom window and seeing the crias being crias. They play, they run, they bother their moms (and the other crias' moms), they snooze. If I had the right equipment, I'd set up a cria-cam so you all could share in the fun. And it's not just the crias, to be honest. Several times over the weekend I'd just wander out to the barn to hang out with the girls and the babies. I was telling Dar that I wish we could put a cot out there or a folding chair, but there's not enough room to stash something like that in the barn right now. We're rather overflowing with alpacas, and that's not a bad thing.

Jane_0565, originally uploaded by maystone1.

I saw my Janie Poo at the shearing today! She remembered my voice and came running over when I called her. There was much petting and cuddling but unfortunately not much picture taking. Most of the time she was meowing for me to pet her tummy or pick her up, so that didn't leave a lot of opportunity to use my camera. She looks great! No Chloe to be found, which was sad. I hear that she sleeps the morning away, and by the afternoon there was way too much going on for her to venture close if she were up. Next time I go over there, it will be less hectic, and I hope to get better pictures.



Cat tongue! )
1. Buffy is being rerun from the beginning on MuchMusic (Canadian MTV). I know! I forgot how cheesy some of the first season eps were: praying mantis teacher, Moloch demon loose on the internet, killer dummies. But the good episodes are still great, and omg how I have missed Giles :) I still love this show. Now if they would rerun all of Angel, I'd be deliriously grateful.

2. I watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox yesterday. Perfect movie! Why didn't it win an Oscar? Was it even nominated? I loved Ash. Hell, I was Ash! Yes, I used to spit when I was a kid (when my parents couldn't see me), because I thought it was cool and made me look tough. I watched too many Dead End Kids movies, I think. And I was the weird one who didn't really fit in with my family. I did not, however, wear a cape or an old sock as a bandit cap. Oh wait, I did wear a cape for a while. But still - no sock on my head. Really, folks, if you haven't seen that movie, please, please, please make a point of doing yourself that pleasure.

3. I was having a "woe is I" moment a while ago. I'm exhausted, there's no part of me that doesn't hurt or burn, I was starting to get teary. Then Pixel jumped on the bed, bounded onto me, and proceeded to give my face a thorough grooming, purring like crazy thing all the while. She's snoozing next to me now; Rocky is asleep at the foot of the bed. Everything feels better. Cats are good.

4. No Supernatural for me tonight. I've heard it's about zombies, and I don't think they'll be able to restrain themselves from going all Gorefest 2010, and I just don't want to watch that. Someone let me know when they get back to plot, OK?

Pixel_0486, originally uploaded by maystone1.


Holmes_0218, originally uploaded by maystone1.

We actually have three cats - Holmes, Rocky, and Pixel - but Holmes is difficult to catch for a picture. I snuck up on him while he was asleep.

I ventured outside today in the wind and the cold to truck along with Dar while she gave the alpacas their afternoon treat. She makes a warm mash out of (among other things) oats, flax, molasses, vegetable oil, and drenched beet pulp. Most of the alpacas loooove it, and it's good for them especially in the winter months. It keeps their fleece and skin moist, and the beet pulp ups their caloric intake and helps keep them warm. Which they need now because it's freakin' freezing out there. Actually it's well below freezing, but you know what I mean. The cold wind has the both of us feeling aching and chilled even in the house. Old bones :)

Did I mention that we undecorated the tree earlier in the week? Well, we did. And it's still standing happily in the corner where it probably will stay until spring. My friend, Karen, said she would decorate it with hearts for Valentine's Day, and I think that's a swell idea. I'm sure that the cats will love it, too. It really is a pretty tree, and it's still hanging on to its needles, so it's not as if we have a naked tree lounging in the living room. I think it's rather pretty, and Pixel in particular seems to like hanging out behind it.

Anyway, with apologies to [livejournal.com profile] cottonmanifesto who has had it up to here with winter:alpacas, cats, and wind-blown snow )

Pixel_0103, originally uploaded by maystone1.

All she wants is to be left alone in her little sink. But no.


Blown snow_0069, originally uploaded by maystone1.

Snow from the laneway in front of the mill being cleared.



One more snow and two cats. )

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