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.
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 :)
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.
Hey, guys! I have been noticeably absent from LJ. (Or at least I'm going to flatter myself that y'all have noticed my absence.) | am just now crawling out from under what is colloquially known as The Trifecta of Suck. 1) My body is going wonky from the loss of cortisol supplied by prednisone 2) I developed pneumonia, and 3) the screen on my laptop died, so it's basically become a big, black paper weight.

I'm still waiting out the cortisol deficiency; I'm hoping that things will start to improve soon, because this can get pretty crazy without any warning at all. It makes straying too far from home, shall we say, exciting. I saw my doctor on Thursday after two weeks of violent coughing (I kept waiting for it to improve on its own), and she confirmed that it had developed into pneumonia. The whole household has been sick - and that's including one of our cats (Holmes) and Deb downstairs. |The doctor prescribed Zithromax (my very favorite antibiotic), and there's a major improvement. Still some coughing and wheezing, but much, much better than earlier in the week.

After being computer-less for many days, Dar kindly let me use her little Acer laptop. I think she kind of regrets it because it's Windows 7, and it's making me insane. Loudly insane, I might add. Just posting this is taking much longer than you'd think, because the cursor has a mind of its own, and the screen scrolls just for the hell of it (apparently). But you know - it's computer access, and I am very grateful. Really. So we're off to an Apple reseller about an hour away to buy a cable to connect my Mac laptop to an old Samsung monitor we have hanging around. It's going to anchor the laptop to one location (probably the kitchen table), but, hey - I've used a desktop computer for many years before I had a laptop. I shall survive.

I've checked out a few of the new TV shows. I am madly, deeply in love with Prime Suspect. Maria Bello is flawless as Jane Timoney, newly transferred to an NYC homicide squad. God, I adore Jane. I want her to be real, and I want to hang out with her. Please, check out this show (Thursday night, 10PM, NBC, repeating Saturday night at 9PM). It can use the buzz and the viewership. I'm afraid it's going to be another case of an excellent and critically acclaimed show being canceled because no one besides me and a handful of others is watching.

I checked out Terra Nova; it's OK. Love the dinosaurs :) Hate the stupid teenage boy subplot, but that's their main demographic, so I'll live with it. Stephen Lang - a longtime favorite of mine - is looking kind of . . . ill. He doesn't look slim as much as he looks unhealthily skinny. I hope that he's OK. Watched Person of Interest because Dar is reviewing it for The Voice of TV; I can take it or leave it. Michael Emerson is an actor who is always worth watching, and I usually like Jim Caviezel, but the story isn't really grabbing me. Checked out Suburgia (again because Dar is reviewing it) and was pleasantly surprised. I usually hate sitcoms, but this was clever and it has the added bonus of no laugh track. Also, I kinda love whoever is playing neighbor lady Dallas. Very nice job of walking a line between obnoxious stereotype and quirky individual.

And for no reason I can detect, the font size just went to gigantic, and I'm typing part of this blind because it goes off the screen. Hoping I'll be back online soon with my old mac.
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.
It's been a very busy week or so. Dar's daughter M is starting at the University of Guelph this week, and we spent a lot of last week helping her get ready and then moving her into her new apartment. She's renting a basement bedroom/bathroom set-up from the woman who owns the condo. It's a nice place, and it's close to a lot of things to which she'll need access. Of course we had a bout of horribly hot and humid weather during all of that, but she's in and settled, and that's what matters.

Dar is dealing with the empty-nest thing by working herself like crazy getting yarn/rovings/product ready for the two venues our fiber consortium will be attending this weekend. She's really turning into an expert dyer; she's taken skeins of yarn that weren't selling and dyed them in variegated fall colors. They're gorgeous! I'll see if I can get some halfway decent pictures of them. She's also been using some of that dyed yarn to knit alpaca-lined mittens, and they're beautifully soft and warm and luscious looking. Plus she crocheted throw rugs and made up kits to sell. In her spare time, you know. If the consortium makes a lot of sales this weekend, most of the credit will be due to her.

And while she's been busy as a very busy thing, I've been kind of laying low for the past few days. Oh, I did a lot of driving and moving and helping with M, and I've been looking after Deb's cats while she's been on vacation, but I've also been having some serious asthma attacks, so I've been keeping away from the barns and also away from the kitchen where Dar is using all those dyes. I had a bad scare a few days ago, and since then I've just learned not to push myself too hard right now.

It seems that prednisone was masking a few health issues that I thought were under control - asthma being one of the big ones. Now that I'm nearly off the pred, I'm having to get control of the asthma again. It hasn't helped that the air quality has been awful recently (smog, we still have it), and the surrounding farms have been harvesting (grain dust)and then laying down liquid manure (very stinky chemicals). Plus lots of rain and moldy grass and hay everywhere. So - it's not surprising, just annoying.

I don't think I'm going to survive the election season in the US. I'm a news addict, in case you didn't know, and since we got our internet back, it seems I spend every spare minute glued to twitter, reading scores of links about issues national and international. I scare myself sometimes, but I'm rather well informed :)

I need another book. More Pratchett, definitely. I've finished the first three Discworld books, and now I'm rereading some of the Watch series just for fun. I need to get to a Chapters and find something new (to me).

The new TV season is nearly upon us, but I'm not all that psyched for it. There are a few shows that I want to check out (Person of Interest, Prime Suspect, Terra Nova), and one that I'll be reviewing for The Voice of TV. It's a new show on AMC called "Hell on Wheels," which makes me laugh because [livejournal.com profile] cajoje had said that her fantasy roller derby name would Helen Wheels. Heh. But this is not the roller derby show I was hoping it would be; it's a post-Civil War revenge Western that takes place somewhere along the laying of the transcontinental railroad. Sounds interesting, and being as how I was brought up with cowboy shows on TV, I love me some Westerns. I'm hoping it will be a good fit.

And now I must hie me to bed. It takes me - without exaggeration - 35 minutes to get to bed. There are routines (flossing! meds!) and traditions (cats. must. have. catnip! omg!) And the washing and the brushing and the getting of water and . . . by the time I hit the sheets, I'm kind of wired. May an easier sleep be yours, my dears :)
1. Still no internet at home. The tower was repaired last Monday, so the problem is with our site, and it requires a company tech to come out to fix whatever it is. (We suspect the ancient modem.) They refuse to send anyone out for - "optimistically" - two weeks. Can you believe this crap? Deb was on the phone for a long, long time trying to get around the bureaucracy but with no success. We're hunting around for a modem on our own - also with little success. Deb has a friend who does freelance tech stuff (he'd helped us out once before), but she can't reach him. I'm hoping he was on vacation and will be returning tonight. Because this is ridiculous.

2. It's been beyond frustrating trying to keep up with things with no internet, especially out in the boonies. We had a tornado warning in our area last Wednesday. Normally we'd be tracking the radar online, but instead we had to rely on the national weather channel, which was pathetic. There is no local no TV, no daily paper. The "local" radio got their information from the same place we did: the national weather service. Even they (the nws) have admitted that they're not very good, and they're working with very outdated equipment. So we packed up our necessaries and kept a lookout for funnel clouds in the distance. Until it got dark, and then we just took it on faith and called it a night. We found out that a tornado touched down about 10 miles from us, but thankfully everything really nasty passed us by.

3. Dar's daughter, the Divine Miss M, is starting university in a few weeks at the University of Guelph. That's about an hour away. Because she's somewhat older than the traditional students (she's 20), and because she has various health issues, she wasn't going to be staying in a dorm. Dar knocked herself out trying to track down housing for her, and she finally found the perfect spot: a private home right next to the campus - like right NEXT TO the campus. The woman also had a gluten allergy, as did the other young woman who was going to share the rental basement apartment with M. The owner and Dar hit it off big time, everything was set, the woman wanted some recipes for M's favorite food, she was so excited to have M move in there . . . two hours later she abruptly backed out of everything. So all this week we've been traveling around Guelph trying to find an apartment for M. And Dar found one. This morning. It's great; M loves it; it's right on the bus route and across the street from her bank and a big, beautiful Zehrs that carries gluten-free food. We move her in next week.

4. I'm almost off prednisone, and it's a mixed blessing. Less drugs, more pain. Manageable but still . . . Also, that what-I-thought-was melanoma turned out to be a strangled blood vessel. Ewww. Looks like an alien bug bite, but I'll take it over the alternative.

OK, gotta run. Have groceries moldering in the trunk while we ducked into McDonald's to grab some online time. I hope everyone is well and rides out Irene safely!
I don't know why, but my asthma has been pretty aggressive lately. Between the bouts of not breathing so well and then the following hyper jitters after using a rescue inhaler, I've been kind of preoccupied. So again - failing at email and LJ and other internet communications. My apologies.

I really just popped in to spread the word about this LJ entry. It's about the London riots, and it's written by a woman who was a member of the underclass, and who is now a Tory and an educator working with those same class of kids. It's an eye opener. I'd recently read the statistic that 17% of British youth (teens through early 20s) had never had a job, but I didn't grasp the reality behind that. She spells it out. I think it's worth reading.
Well, according to a pair of starlings trying to build in a nest in our barbecue I am. I feel pretty bad about it, too. They had quite the stockpile going there when I cleared it out today. We'd been watching them for a few days now, flying in with beaksful of straw and hay and grass. The hood is down on the barbecue (which is on the deck right outside the kitchen), so they've been crawling in under the vent. Dar had cleaned it out a few times, but then we got busy and ignored it for a few days. I didn't want it to get so advanced that the female would actually lay some eggs there, so I cleaned it out this morning and put the cloth cover on the unit. (There's so much vegetation in there that we'll have to burn it out to get it really clean.) Very unhappy starlings! I feel like a monster, and I hope that they find a more suitable site very soon.

We have three crias on the farm now. The third one (from another of Deb's huacaya girls) was born this afternoon; it's a cold and windy day, so the baby had to be dried with a blow dryer and rubbed with towels and outfitted with a cria coat. Dar had to help with the birth again, but the little boy is extremely strong and vigorous. He was up on his feet within 20 minutes! Mom wasn't that interested in him at first, and I had to lure her back into the barn with him by feeding her alfalfa bits. They finally bonded, and he's nursing like a champ. For now, his name is Harley.

Our little suri girl, Buffy, is a week old now. Her little huacaya pal, Ezra, is five days old. Yesterday they discovered how much fun running is. It's like a light suddenly goes on, and zoom - they're off! God, they're so adorable at this age. You can see them tearing around the paddocks, in and out of the barn, followed by two anxious mothers moaning the alpaca equivalent of, "Stop that! You're going to hurt yourself!" I expect that Harley will be joining them very soon.

In less adorable news, my car is on its last leg/cylinder/tire. There's so much wrong with it that when I drop it off at the garage tomorrow, I'll be asking for a priority list of what we absolutely need to fix and what we can continue to put off for a while or until we can get another vehicle. It's a 2002 Mazda with over 160,000 miles on it, so it owes me nothing. But still, it's my baby car, right?

I finished reading Game of Thrones last night. I wanted to go into the last two episodes of the series knowing what was coming. Yow! I plan to be impressed with how they're going to do all of that in two episodes. I really loved the book, and now I have to be on the lookout for the next book in the series. I'll tell you, if I had had an e-reader, I would have downloaded that sucker immediately. As it is, I'll have to wait for a few days.

So You Think You Can Dance is back on TV! Yay! This looks like an extraordinary year, and I'm especially impressed with the female dancers. They're usually overshadowed by the boys, but this year they can more than hold their own. And if nothing else, Cat Deeley is back on my screen, and that's cause for celebration right there. Why she hasn't won an award for best host(ess) is a complete mystery to me. She's Cat Deeley, people!

On the medical side of things, since I've stopped taking the evil metoclopramide, my blood pressure has returned to normal. My last pressure was 126/80, and that's just about perfect for me. If it continues to stay good, I can try quitting my anti-hypertension meds. That would be wonderful. I'm getting ready to drop down to 4.5 mg of prednisone daily. I've never been able to get lower than 4 mg, so the next few months should be interesting. My doctor and I have been working on some pain control, so I'm trying to be optimistic. Watch me try! Try, mays, try. Heh.

Almost time for Game of Thrones. Yay. Time to get out the headphones. Yes, really. Otherwise I miss some of the dialogue, and I don't want to have to blast the TV.

Hope you're having a good one, guys.
Well, shearing weekend came and went. There were scattered light showers throughout, but the really big rains held off until all of the alpacas were finished. I didn't get to spend any time with the alpacas, because I was relegated to kitchen duty for both days. It was miserable - tiring, stressful, long hours - but someone had to do it, and Dar was needed for the medical stuff. Maddie was a great help, and [livejournal.com profile] sffan, bless her, came in from Toronto to help with the set up and the shearing. I'd been dreading it, but at least it's over. This week we'll be helping out with our friend Dee's shearing weekend; this time I'll be on the skirting tables separating out the good fleece from the bad. Boring and tiring but not stressful or long hours :) And I want to help her; she's always been here for us.

It's been a tough couple of months, guys. Since mid-February when Dar's health really took a scary downward slide until now, I've been pushing myself a lot. It's had a cumulative effect on my health, which was already taking a hit from being weaned off the prednisone. (I'm halfway finished with that, btw. Another four months should do it.) I wasn't sure I was going to make it through shearing, but I did it; I'm kind of proud of myself for that. I also slept 12 hours last night :) I haven't done that in ages! And I'm heading to bed early tonight, too. Heh.

Just to add to this, I found out five days ago that I was on a dangerous medication. I've been taking this drug called metoclopramide for over two years now. I wasn't even sure why I was taking it; I thought it was for nausea caused by prednisone and plaquenil. I finally got around to checking it out online, and found out that it was supposed to be prescribed for no more than twelve weeks! Big ass FDA warning on it and everything. And I've been on it for over two years. It has some dangerous and, in some cases permanent, side effects. (I think it's the cause of the bad tremors and uncontrollable high blood pressure that I've been experiencing.) But the big bad side effect is Tardive Dyskinesia, which causes uncontrollable facial contortions, protruding tongue, and violent head jerking. It's incurable once it's contracted, and its chances of happening increase the longer you're on the drug and the older you are. The real kicker is that the symptoms don't always appear until after you stop the drug, because up until then the med masks the symptoms. Fiendish, eh. The side effects from withdrawal can take several weeks to appear, and in most cases last for several months. I've already got a few of them after five days, and I'm just hoping like mad that I escape the big one. The fun never stops. I'm just thankful for the internet, because this obviously slipped through the cracks with my multiple doctors; if I weren't able to look it up for myself, I'd be in even worse shape.

Oh, and I cracked another tooth. Ha! I'd had a tooth bisected back in the late '80s. I was getting a lot of work done at a dental school, and I believe that they did the bisection more for a teaching enterprise than anything. The cubicle where I had it done was overflowing with students, and there was someone taking pictures of the whole thing throughout. At one point I had to hold the mirror so the photographer could get a better shot :) Anyway, I was left with half a tooth; I'm not surprised that it finally bit the dust. So to speak. I have a sliver of tooth left along with its filling. The nerve is dead, so I'm in no rush to replace it or have it fixed. I blame stress (my jaw has been permanently clenched for months now) and Sjogren's Syndrome (another autoimmune disease I have) which is infamous for causing tooth damage. I expect that in a few more years I'll have a mouth full of jagged, broken teeth, whereupon I shall hie me to Hollywood and hire myself out for horror films or period British pieces where they need toothless hags for colorful background characters. A star at last :)

I never got the chance to take any pictures during shearing, but if the rain ever lets up I'll try to get some pics of the absurdly adorable, newly-shorn alpacas. The huacayas especially look ridiculous with their skinny little bodies and their big poofy top knots. I can't help but giggle when I'm around them - especially the macho males. I've seen miniature poodles that look tougher! Poor babies :)

OK, to bed with me. Busy day tomorrow. I know that some on my flist are going through bad times right now, and my heart and thoughts are with you, my friends.
[Poll #1731036]

I'm in need of comfort food, which for me is mushy.

It snowed last night. The winds have been ungodly strong and relentless for days now (although fortunately we haven't had the tornadoes and extreme weather that the southern US has been suffering). My body is rebelling - all my nerves are frizzing and zapping.

If I had a food replicator, I'd have a big ol' mushy piece of tiramisu sitting in front of me.
It is in no way, shape, or form looking like spring around here. We had an unannounced storm last night that dumped a load of wet yet drifting snow which then proceeded to freeze. Had to shovel out all of the paddock gates in order to feed the alpacas. Yeah, that was fun this morning at 6AM 7AM. Today was gray, cold, and windy with flurries. And I didn't intend to post about this at all, but LJ started it :)

So I saw Dar today at the hospital. She's doing really well! She's having a much easier time getting in and out of bed (and anyone who's had abdominal or OBGYN surgery knows what a challenge that is), and we even went for a walk around the ward. Which is very large and rather labyrinthine. And about every five steps I'd hear her say, "Don't touch that, Lee." Heh. I didn't have to be told, and I was, in fact, walking with my arms crossed. What can I say - I'm a tactile person :) And very nosy curious.

They're starting to talk about releasing her to go home. Starting to talk. There's no firm date or anything, but it's on their radar. The big sticking point is her nutrition; she's eating clear and some semi-solid foods but not in amounts enough to give her everything she needs for good health. She still has a TPN (total protein & nutrition) line into her jugular, but it's leaking and they need to try to place it somewhere else. They're working on that, and we should know more tomorrow. But the good news is that she's making lots of progress on her recovery.

I mentioned this on Facebook but not here: I broke an upper molar two days ago. It tingles a little, but so far no big time nerve involvement. It gets dicey when I'm out doing chores in the cold wind, but I wear a neck warmer and pull it up over my mouth; it helps. I have an appointment with the dentist a week from tomorrow. It's not considered an emergency, and like with so many medical personnel in Ontario, dentists are over-booked.

OK, who else hates Daylight Savings Time? I appreciate the extra hour of light in the evening, but my body gets all out of whack for about a week. And then I get all anal about keeping track of time: I keep subtracting an hour so I'll know the real time. I got into this habit when I was a kid with insomnia. I'd wake up at 3AM - the Witching Hour - and then start doing the math. Is it really 3? Or is it 2? And it's only 3 in my time zone. That invalidates it, right? I mean, it's not a universal constant. And what is time anyway? I was a weird kid. I got very little sleep last night - like 3 1/2 non-consecutive hours - and I should go to bed, but the time change has me all whirly. And I have to get up early tomorrow, which in reality is even earlier than it says on my clock. See what I put myself through? Anyone want to switch brains with me?
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.
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.
1. If the deserved firestorm of outrage over the rape and beating of Lara Logan can be sustained and carried over to the lesser known women in our world who face such things just as a matter of course. I can't bear what is happening in Sudan (particularly in Darfur), Afghanistan, Congo; the word needs to get out. Doctors without Borders have the facts; they're there trying to help the victims, the survivors. Someone needs to hear them, give them air time, stop. this. It drives me to depression and deep guilt that I'm not doing anything - something - to try to help. We're women. These are my sisters; I can't ignore them.

2. Then I watched Frontline; the program was on women being sold into sexual slavery under the knowing eyes of their governments and judges and police. What their lives are like. How many never make their way to freedom. What can I do? What can I do?

3. Dar's stomach is giving her a lot of trouble today, and I'm pretty worried about her. What can I do except worry and keep a close eye on her? I want to do more, make it better.

4.My visa is up on May 31. No more extensions. This is it. We haven't even made it past step one before hitting a wall. If I end up back in the States, I'll be homeless, unemployable, without health care, and destitute. Oh, and chronically ill. I have no idea how it's going to turn out.

5. I was an officer in several unions during my working life. My first paid job was typing up the meeting notes for my dad's machinist union; they insisted on paying me union scale. They won my heart right there. I stand in solidarity with the workers and students in Wisconsin!

6. I'm so tired, and I could stand to get just fifteen minutes pain-free and feeling vibrant again.

5.
This cold spell has to break. We're around 0F/-17C right now, but that's not factoring in the very strong arctic winds that are making those temps plummet when it touches your skin. And of course, it's just going to get colder as the night wears on. So far so good with the alpacas; they need to hold it together for another few days, and then we're supposed to be warming up. Still below freezing and still with strong north winds, but it's got to be better than this.

No word yet on a surgery date for Dar.

I started counseling today after several false starts. (I don't have a scheduled life; things change frequently and randomly.) I like her, and I think that we can work together. Had one "Aha!" moment toward the end of the session. I love those.

No pictures from me in a while, I know. My hands are in bad shape lately; I'm hoping that as the fierce cold departs, so will the pain and stiffness and cramping.

Does anyone else hate having long fingernails? I can't stand it. Mine have just popped up above the skin line, and they're making me crazy. As soon as I sign off here I will be chopping them back.

Pixel is asleep on my cell phone; it's right under her butt. If I get a call, it's set to both ring and buzz (because I have no idea at all how to change any of the settings.) I thought very very briefly about calling my phone just to see her reaction, but that would mean. Funny, but mean. And I love my kitty too much to be mean to her. But my phone number is 912-555-0303 if anyone wants to give it a try. Kidding!

Stay warm, my lovelies.
So we're going to get that megastorm that's threatening most of the States and eastern Canada. We've been getting snow every day, even if only for a few hours, and it has accumulated. We've got some very impressive drifts from the strong winds that we get almost daily, too. But this is going to be the first big snow dump of the season. None of us are looking forward to it.

Because we're on a farm, we don't have city water or sewage. We draw our water from a well on the property, and the pump runs on electricity. If the electricity goes out because of high winds and/or heavy snow (or a car running into a pole), we lose not just our lights and appliances but our toilets and our water inside - and outside. No water in the sheds or the barn, either. That's a lot of alpacas to water by melting snow in front of the propane fireplace. So we're going to hope very hard that we don't lose electricity or at least not for very long. We have access to a generator, but the best thing would be for everything to just stay on. Please.

We started to get the alpacas ready for the storm. I hauled extra hay and straw out of the barn, and Dar hoisted the bales into the appropriate shelters. (I don't have the muscle strength any more to lift hay bales into the loft in the suris' little house.) Tomorrow we'll do a little more: make sure they have deep bedding and that their water buckets are all clean. (Not that we let them get dirty or slimy, but we don't want to have to clean them during the storm.) I want to gather all of the snow shovels inside, too, so we don't have to go trouping through snow drifts to find them.

I'm not looking forward to carving my way through the drifts. My hips are so bad now that I can't really lift my legs that high; I lose my balance pretty easily, and I'm snow blind - I lose my depth perception and sense of perspective when I look at an expanse of snow. Not exactly cut out to be Nanook of the North anymore :) I'll be OK once the snow is packed down. In a perverse way, though, I'm kind of looking forward to getting out in the middle of things. When I was younger and living in the city, I would always take a walk during a big snow storm. Even as a kid, my parents would have to rein me in during the big storms. Hell, even the little ones. I looooved walking in the snow. Maybe I just used it all up. Heh.

Anyway - busy day tomorrow, and it's way past my bedtime. Good-night, my lovelies, and stay well during the storm.

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