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 :)
1. It went down to 1C/33F last night. Dar and I got pelted with ice stuff while trying to wrangle Sandstorm back into the paddock yesterday. (He's quite the Houdini, that little boy.) Dar says it was hail, but I think it was sleet. Four days ago we were frying with the heat and humidity, and today I was rummaging around looking for a warm jacket.

2. We did very well at the Knitters' Fair last Saturday. From opening until about 3PM (it closed at 4:30PM), we were constantly busy. There would literally just be a matter of seconds when no customers were at our booth. The big sellers were the items that Dar had come up with - various types of hand-dyed yarns, kits for crocheting rugs, and kits for thrum mittens. Those last items were just about flying out the door, as they say. Dar had knitted up one demonstration model of the mitten, and we kept having to toss it to each other across the crowded booth, because everyone wanted to try it on. It got pretty funny. Dar will be knitting another demo mitten before our next show :)

3. [livejournal.com profile] puffgirl_two is here for a visit from Toronto. It was very warm when she left home, so she didn't pack for the sudden cold spell we've been having. Poor girl :) We've supplied socks, shoes, and a jacket so she doesn't freeze when she steps outside. The weather system is very like that in New England - very changeable.

4. OK, really (rereading that second to last sentence) - how many of you have given up on the serial comma? I just can't bring myself to let it go.

5. I'm down to 1.5 mg of prednisone a day now, and my body is not happy about this. My asthma has become very, very twitchy, and I never know what is going to set it off. Pretty much any strong scent, that's for sure. I've had to get changed out of my newly laundered pajamas, because the scent of the detergent was setting off my asthma. Perfumes, cleaners, dyes, the alpacas' urine, cat urine, some litters, wet hay, dry hay, damp grass, newly mowed grass, even mildly spicy foods, night air . . . loads of stuff. Oh yeah, and the liquid manure (a mixture of pig and turkey manure) that the neighboring farmer has been spreading copiously around his land. Oh, and dust. This is problematic because I have a dusty room. I need to dust my dusty room, but that just stirs up the dust. You see my conundrum. Although now that the farmer has quit with the liquid manure, I can open the windows; that should help with the dust. That and wear my face mask. Which I wear when I do chores now. Sigh.

6. To go along with the asthma, my body's ability to control my body temperature is just fubar. I overheat very suddenly, and it gets quite scary. It's happened a number of times - always without warning - and I'm suddenly weak and dizzy, confused, burning up, and my heart is racing. If I lie down and cool off, everything returns to normal in about 30 minutes. Conversely, my body temperature can plummet just as unexpectedly. It's been quite the ride.

7. This is in addition to the usual nonsense (pain and fatigue); it means that I'm not doing chores on a daily basis, and then it's a reduced number of chores. I'm not happy. I like doing chores. I like working outside. (OK, not in bad weather, but you know what I mean.) I love working with the alpacas. I also feel guilty as hell watching Dar do the majority of the work out there. Dar says that my body will be wonky for at least another year as it tries to adapt to the loss of the corticosteroids I've been taking. I'm trying to keep myself open to the changes, trying to adapt and roll with them, but I admit that I'm nervous about what may be coming my way.

8. OK! In more pleasant news, I'm about halfway finished with Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Let's just say that I'm inclined to adopt two more female cats and name them Esme and Gytha. I'm also anxiously awaiting the publication of Snuff. It'll be released Oct. 13 in Great Britain, but I don't know how long we'll have to wait to get it here. Not very long, I hope.

9. A little pimping before I go. Dar has become very involved with a TV review site called The Voice of TV. It was started by a young man in the Netherlands, and Erwin's done a great job of building it up. It's grabbed the notice of several of the networks, and everyone is working very hard to make this a success. Dar does a number of reviews there, and I'll be reviewing Hell on Wheels and Game of Thrones when they start their respective runs. Check the site out, please. Sign up. Hell, maybe you'd be interested in reviewing a show that the site doesn't cover yet. It's volunteer status right now, but perks include screeners for the shows and the possibility of interviews with the cast and producers. And the occasional set visit. (Dar was at the Suits set, watching the shooting, meeting the cast.) Just throwing that out there.

10. I made it to ten! Bed time for this Bonzo. I hope that y'all have a great weekend ahead of you.
[livejournal.com profile] darlong and I received an anonymous gift, and I want to thank whoever it was very, very much. The box contained two huge bags of black tea (Black Forest and Chocolate Cream!) from Through the Looking Glass in Shelbyville, KY. They each smell insanely good, and we can't wait to try them.

Really, it was very generous of you :) Thank you!
Happy Birthday to the glorious [livejournal.com profile] gatezilla!

Here's to an exceptional day for an exceptional soul :)
I've been in the worst mood today. Tense, blue, monosyllabic. I don't know what the problem is, but I'm hoping that a decent night's sleep will take care of it.

Crazy wind today. The blowing snow was so bad that the province closed some roads to travel. Last night it sounded like the roof was ripping off the house; it turned out to be the patio furniture making a break for it across the deck. As I was getting ready to rescue a chair, I jumped out of my skin when something large and black started battering against the glass door trying to get in. It turned out to be the cover to the BBQ grill being thrown up against it :) Freaked the hell out of the cats, too.

I had to take the car into the garage this morning because it's been making this awful noise around the wheel well, and it's been getting worse. So off I drove in sometimes white-out conditions; there were several times when I had to come to a dead stop because I couldn't see the end of the hood of my car. Fun trip. Then I had to leave the car there, because the mechanic said it was too dangerous to drive it back home - not because of the weather but because a wheel bearing was just about sheared through. (The earliest we can get it back is Tuesday.) One of the young mechanics gave me a ride home in a company truck (4-wheel drive and higher visibility, yay!), and I learned all about the dangers of raising Black Angus cattle. Mean suckers, apparently.

[livejournal.com profile] sffan is visiting, and when I got back home James and Amber had stopped by, and then Deb came in, and all I wanted to do was crawl into a nice dark hole and hide away. Being an introvert is tough at times. Since no hole was available, I stayed in my room most of the day, popping out every once in a while just to test the waters. It really was better for everyone that I stayed by myself :)

SF, Amber, and James helped us with chores, for which I was grateful because it was nasty windy out there with deep drifts to battle through. SF and I did the suri boys and Conclusive while stamping down snow and fighting the wind. Both water buckets were barely visible under all of the snow drifts, and when I cleared the snow away I saw that the water was absolutely black from all the dirt and mud that the wind had picked up. Poor alpaca babies. The highlight of chores, though, was when I was cutting through the twine to open up a new bale of hay, and sliced the hell out of my thumb. I didn't think it was as bad as it turned out to be, but SF noticed the blood all over everything so she got Dar to patch me up. It turns out that I barely missed slicing my tendon. I have this big bulky bandage on my right thumb, and being right-handed that's led to some interesting moments. Hopefully I can unwrap it tomorrow.

And now I'm going to exacerbate my foul mood by watching Dr. Zhivago on AMC. I hate that movie, and yet I'm compelled to watch it. I think it's the time period that I like. I hate, hate, hate, hate the soundtrack and a lot of the acting. I'm a masochist, what can I say. Maybe I'll just mute the sound.
I got the most adorable virtual gopher in. the. WORLD. from [livejournal.com profile] gatezilla! Thank you so much, sweetie! OK, so when I build my glass-enclosed pool for my virtual otters, my little virtual gopher can dig a tunnel down to visit them. I have it all worked out. My virtual world is a very happy place.
I got another baby otter! Baby otters are not solitary critters, so this is perfect!

Thank you, anonymous gifter :)
OMG! Someone gave me a virtual baby otter! I LOVE baby otters! squeeee!

Thank you :)
Thank you for the Hanukkah card, [livejournal.com profile] caerwynx! It made it here yesterday, and Sol is now happily overseeing the goings-on from his spot on the mantle :) Since I completely spaced on how early it comes this year, Hanukkah will be represented by the little menorah-antlered reindeer. Yay and Oy! I guess that would be Yoy!
I'm somewhat dyslexic, and I looked at this icon several times before I got it. Bwah!

Also, I got virtual fruit from [livejournal.com profile] llaras! Thank you, honey. From one fruit to another :)
Had a nice visit with [livejournal.com profile] sffan this weekend. Also got a close look at her mutant blood cells. Seriously - she has something remarkably resembling a Romulan Bird of Prey circulating around there. It's nothing more than an indicator of food allergies, so no big worries.

Dar also appears to be allergic to wheat now and possibly all gluten. That makes two members of the household. Guess we'll all be going gluten free; it's easier and more fair. Rice cakes for everyone!

I'm still smelling burning plastic at varying degrees of intensity. It's been weeks now, and it's nothing I'm really going to get used to. I'll be calling the neurologist tomorrow. He said to let him know if I developed any new neurological symptoms, and I'd say this qualifies. In fact, another bout is hitting now. Joy.

Without really intending to, I've started rereading The Lord of the Rings. I initially just wanted to read the section on the race to the bridge in Moria, but then I got caught up in the story again and went back to the beginning. Thanks to the movies (which I adore almost beyond description), I can now read the sections with Sam in it without wanting to throw the book across the room. Obsequious little toady. OK, I guess I still have to work on that part.
I just got the word that [livejournal.com profile] sffan came through her surgery beautifully. She's back in her room on a morphine pump (yay!), and she's asked for her cell phone and iPod. She should be out of the hospital on Friday afternoon if everything still continues to go well.

More updates when I get them.
OMG, I was just at my home page/user page/thingie, and I saw all of these virtual gifts languishing there unremarked upon. Thank you so much [livejournal.com profile] llaras, [livejournal.com profile] gatezilla, and [livejournal.com profile] sparky77! I really need to get out more in LJ.
I haven't posted an update in ages. I've either been very busy or very tired. (As in I've spent the past few days mostly asleep.) Lots going on, have gone on. Big news of this week is that my lovely babykins [livejournal.com profile] liquidize is here to visit for a week.

See? Here she is with Dar. )

I have to go to bed now, because I have to get up early tomorrow. I have been reading even if I haven't been commenting. I'm hoping that I'll get both the time and the energy for a big ol' post very soon.

Night y'all.

Dee Saffron_0139, originally uploaded by maystone1.

This is our friend, Dee, and Saffron, a premature cria born on her farm. Saffron was found near frozen to death in a puddle of mud on a very rainy, cold day late last week. Her mother had already given her up for dead and wandered away. Dee and her daughter Adria rushed the cria into the house, soaked her in hot water to raise her body temperature, and started the many procedures that you do to keep a fragile cria alive. They've tried to reintroduce the baby to her mama, but each time mom just kicks her away. Saffron now stays in the house with Dee and Adria.

She's still weak; her blood sugar crashes rapidly and repeatedly. She has to be fed every few hours, so Dee sleeps on the couch, and Saffron sleeps on a blanket on the floor propped up with pillows. Dee and Adria had to be in the area today, so Dee wanted Dar to check Saffron out for her. They bundled her into the car, and this afternoon we had the pleasure of visiting with them all for a little bit. She's a beautiful cria - I mean exceptional. I'm a newcomer to huacayas, but even I could see that her fleece is just extraordinary. She's bonded with Dee and vice versa.

It's 50/50 whether or not she'll survive. If she can make it through the next 72 hours, she has a very good chance. Keep fighting, Saffron!

Cria in the house. )
Dar had to rush back to Cape Breton this afternoon. Her dad's biopsy reports are in, and the news is worse than she thought it would be. Her dad called this morning to say that the oncologist wants to meet with her and her dad tomorrow, so we flew around like crazy people today getting her out of here in time to catch a 5PM flight out of Toronto. I worry about her. She took a couple steps back in her health today. The stress isn't helping of course. Good thoughts, guys, please.

I have a day-long test in London (Ontario *g*) tomorrow. I've been trying to get to this for over a year now, but it's had to be rescheduled for one reason or another. It's a neuropsychological exam that will 1) set a baseline for my cognitive functioning (over two years after lupus has been chipping away at my brain), and 2) pinpoint particular areas of concern. You know, of all the losses that lupus has brought me, it's my loss of language and memory that affects me most, bothers me the most. I used to be an educator. I used to be able to play with language as easily as I breathe. I hate having to struggle to find common words now. I used to do amateur theater; there's no way I could memorize lines now. Or learn a new language.

Anyway. Being the weird thing that I am, I actually enjoy taking these types of tests, so I'm not nervous at all. I'm looking forward to the experience. I am not looking forward to the 2-hour drive in the driving rain that it will entail - especially since I can't take my usual meds to help me stay sharp because it will affect the outcome of the tests. I think I'm going to take something short-acting just to get me there in one piece. I've had enough experience with the London medical system to know that nothing starts on time anyway. It'll be good.

And speaking of good - I got a llama mug in the mail today from [livejournal.com profile] caerwynx! Thank you so much, my friend. It was a little miracle in two ways. First, I received notice yesterday that I had "an item" waiting for me at the post office. For that reason I drove Mark into work this morning and kept the car so I could get to the post office. If I hadn't done that, I don't know how we would have managed to get Dar on that plane today. And second, that silly llama face makes me grin every time I look at it. And that really is a miracle these days. Much love to you, honey.
Sees-cret message to [livejournal.com profile] sparky77: we got your package today. Thank you so much! I wasn't expecting two boxes, so it was an even better surprise. (You probably told me that you were sending two kinds, but I forgot. With me, every day is filled with wonderful surprises! Wheee!) We fell on them like ravenous, chocolate-scarfing wolves.

Pixel hit send on that last post. It's OK - it was getting long.

There was a wedding rehearsal Thursday night for Dar and [livejournal.com profile] sparky77, [livejournal.com profile] sffan, [livejournal.com profile] vampirefan, and [livejournal.com profile] lunda. Afterwards the rest of us ([livejournal.com profile] skripka, [livejournal.com profile] finitejester37, [livejournal.com profile] janeeyre17, [livejournal.com profile] inalasahl, [livejournal.com profile] justblue0162, [livejournal.com profile] emungere, and sweet [livejournal.com profile] puffgirl_two) met up with them at a Lebanese-Italian restaurant for a rehearsal dinner. Tamarind Margaritas!

Friday was more shopping. More hours spent walking around a mall, but at least we all found what we needed. The wedding was on Saturday but not until 7PM. Dar and I decided to explore the neighborhood; we walked out of the door and into the prep for a parade. Woot! Turns out we were there on the opening weekend of the annual Stock Exhibition and Rodeo. There was a long, long parade with literally hundreds of horses and mules. There was a mule train! And marching bands. And at least a dozen entries for various branches of the Cowboy Church. The parade went on for hours and was lots of fun.

The hotel was right across the street from the Convention Center, and at the center that weekend was . . . a national cheer leading competition. The hotel was filled with young girls in various styles of short-skirted uniforms, most in pony tails, all ranging in age from 8-14 or thereabouts. Very cute group, but all of us were hesitant to take any pictures lest we look like stalkers. Such is the sad time we live in, eh.

The wedding itself was a joy. It was a perfect blend of formal and relaxed. The bride's gown was simple and elegant with a red waistband that flowed in back down the train; her bridesmaids wore red and carried beautiful cloth red fans instead of flowers. The groom was dressed in his black tux and his groomswomen wore the same style of gown as the bridesmaids except in black, and they carried black fans. The bride and groom also sported Rocket Dog sneakers - hers red, his white. The vows were original and delightful and so them. I remarked to Dar (who had been asked to read a piece as part of the ceremony) that I loved the laughter throughout the ceremony. It was delightful and charming and just . . . joyous.

The bride and groom each had a cake. Hers was covered in cherry blossoms and topped with the Chinese symbol for double happiness. (<lj user=kernelm is Chinese, in case you didn't know.) His was a smaller cake with the symbol for Serenity on it. The tables were clothed in red and white. It all was beautiful. We had to fly back Sunday morning at 5:45 AM. When we got back from the wedding, I didn't even bother trying to get any sleep. I changed into my travel clothes, packed my bag, and just relaxed until 4AM when we had to leave for the airport. (Maddie and Dar managed to get a few hours sleep in there.) A few of our friends were leaving at the same time, so we shared a taxi van. Delta once again changed gates without an announcement, and once again we almost missed our flight. They did it again at the Atlanta airport, but this time we were on to them. We took another taxi across the border in Buffalo. I was more nervous about trying to get back into Canada with my screwed-up passport, but it all went smoothly. Mark met us in Kitchener, and we were back home by about 6PM. It was a 14-hour trip from Fort Worth to Kitchener, but it was worth it.
OK, get all your "ho" jokes out of your system now. I'll wait. :pause: Aaand we're back.

We went to Fort Worth, TX to celebrate the wedding of [livejournal.com profile] virtualinsomnia and [livejournal.com profile] kernelm, who'd met online as Firefly fans, fell in love, and happily decided to marry. ([livejournal.com profile] kernelm also spent some time at our house in Kitchener while he worked on some life direction changes.) They'd set aside a block of rooms at the downtown Hilton for the rest of us Browncoats flying in from all over the US and Canada. Great hotel, really. It had soundproofing. I can forgive a lot if there's soundproofing, but there was nothing iffy to forgive here; we had a marvelous stay. Unlike the Millennium Hotel in Buffalo where we spent Wednesday night. We got to listen to an episode of Law & Order that our neighbors had on in their room. When they turned it off before the episode was over, Dar was tempted to call out, "Hey! We were listening to that!" Heh.

Dar, Maddie, and I were all able to go because Dar found a great deal on plane tickets. The reason they were such a great deal is that they left early in the morning and had a lay-over in Atlanta. We were flying out of Buffalo rather than Toronto thanks to the antics of the Underwear Bomber and the very strict international flying restrictions that ensued. Mark had to work, and the friend who was going to drive us to Buffalo got a job (yay!), so we hired a driver to take us across the border on Wednesday afternoon so we could be at the airport bright and early Thursday AM.

As you may recall, I'm having some issues with Immigration and their screw-up of my paperwork. I was nervous about crossing the border, although I figured it wouldn't be a problem getting into the US since I have a US passport. And it wasn't a problem. The border guard spent all of her time questioning our driver. Ha!

We spent the afternoon at a mall right next to the hotel; I needed a top, Maddie a jacket, and Dar heels. We took a hotel shuttle. It was large mall. The largest mall in the northeast. We were tired already, and we trudged back and forth, back and forth trying to find what we needed. After several hours, Maddie needed to sit down and get something to drink; Dar went with her. I had a few tops to try on. What I heard Dar say is that they were going to the first place on the row that had someplace to sit and drink. What I did not hear her say was that they were going to come back and wait for me outside the store. It took me less than two minutes to realize that the tops were too small, so I was in and out of the dressing room in a snap and walked out to look for Dar and Maddie. I never found them. I hit all the places where you could sit and drink. Nothing. I retraced my steps several times. Still no one. I was exhausted and cranky, and I didn't have a) a cell phone, b) the number of the hotel or the hotel shuttle and c) any US change for a public phone. I had to walk back to the hotel - and it was brutally cold and windy - and if I was going to do that I needed to do it now before it got dark. I thought maybe the two of them had gone back when they couldn't find me, either. So off I staggered into the freezing twilight, only to find that Dar and Maddie were not back at the hotel.

About an hour later I got a call from Dar asking where the hell I was. That's how tired and upset she was, because obviously I was on the other end of the phone back at the hotel room. They'd been looking for me all this time. Had had me paged in the store and in the mall. Had talked to the security guards. One clerk started trolling the dressing rooms expecting to find my dead body. Yeah. We now have agreed to repeat back to each other what the plan of the day is, just to avoid something like this in the future :)

So we managed to get a little sleep before heading out the next morning. Pretty smooth flight to Atlanta, but we almost missed our connection because Delta changed the gate without an announcement.
I wasn't sure what to expect of Fort Worth, but I was happy to find that it was a lovely town (at least the small part of it that we saw) populated with friendly and helpful folk.

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