Silent Anne?

If we go by my actual blog posts, I'm "silenter" than Silent Bob -- he talks at least once in every movie, right?

Depending on how religiously you check here in the hope for new content, you may have seen the blog go down for a week or two. Yeah.... I think some of the posts are broken/missing and this annoys me. I had a problem a couple months back and Randy swooped in to save the day -- the database had corruption issues -- and I think that's where the missing posts went. sigh

Because of that problem, I've been even more lax at doing any kind of managing of the site. This includes figuring out why my comments are being spammed so ridiculously -- I think there have been no legitimate comments in over a year, while the spammers are just drowning my blog with spammy comments. Meanwhile, I really do want to clean it up and maybe find a better theme. The blue is just too.... bright. Too "cheery". Like a flight attendant with too much caffeine. Ugh.

So, what's new with me? Hmmm.... Well, we've been looking for a house since before the house we fled from in June. You might recall we were putting a bid in on this house, before we left town for our 20th Anniversary Roadtrip. While we were out of town, the bank who was permitting the short-sale got back to us. Apparently, their comps (comparable houses in the area) were $20k higher than our bid (which placed the price very conveniently at their list price). So, they decided to go to foreclosure instead. Meanwhile, we learned that both A/C units had been vandalized and would need replacing. We already knew that due to such a long vacancy, the pool needed some surface repairs and we were likely to lose the orange trees from lack of watering. So, we passed on that house.

Once we returned home from the roadtrip (I'll cover that in a bit), I got right back to checking out ZIP Realty for price drops, new listings and such. One of our days of looking resulted in a fall -- I didn't see a "step down", twisted my ankle and landed on my left knee, directly on tile. I didn't realize until later, I'd braced myself with my hands as well, so I've done some kind of minor (?) damage to my right hand, along the pinky side. The right ankle is the same one I broke in the car accident.

Anyway, we kept looking for houses. (The one I fell in was not good -- the pool was so beautiful, but the house itself was just not workable.) Just before I left for New York for almost 3 weeks, we toured a house in Mesa, only .3 miles from the light rail! We put together an offer and began the process. It was made much easier by a product called DocuSign. We're currently waiting on a document to show up and for the loan to come back from underwriting. Close is supposed to be on the 17th of this month -- this Wednesday!

I really hate living in this tiny apartment -- and very soon, we're going to have one more person living with us! This is a good thing, but if the house falls through, it's definitely going to be an interesting start to the new year!

So, let me back up a little bit. The Roadtrip was good, until it wasn't. We visited Randy's parents, then headed in to Canton, Ohio for my sister's wedding on the 28th. It turns out she had a cold. I caught it. It dropped straight into my chest and I was extremely worried Randy would come down with it next. We cancelled all our other planned stops and made a bee-line for home. Poor Randy had to drive the entire trip by himself. For at least the first 75% of the trip, I was knocked out with all the cold medications. I think Sirius Radio saved the day! One of the plans cancelled was a meet-up with DrunkenMonkeyKnits herself. sigh

Many blogs are personal in nature, not business-oriented. For that reason, we all choose what we are comfortable sharing about our lives, online and in the clear. Maybe it's not super-obvious, unless you've tried to leave a comment (another reason I debated dropping the whole blog is because of the spammers), but I'm running my blog on Drupal. So far, I haven't really bothered with settings like "you must have an approved account and be logged in to read posts" because I feel that's sorta contrary to the concept of a blog. Couldn't I just send emails to the people I'm willing to let read the things I don't want public?

I've been struggling with how to handle some of the private stuff I'm not sure I want "in the clear". Those who know me in person are pretty likely to know some of this stuff already. Those who don't may or may not know it. And I'm hedging my bets on waiting, rather than having stuff "out there" I can't take back (at least, not easily!).

Something I can talk about is our Intentional Community, or IC (pronouned eye-see) as we call it. We've been debating whether to keep the name of the IC independent of the dome we hope to build (yes, it seems that most if not all of the domes have names!). So we tend to refer to it in the abstract as "the IC". We're adding another member to the IC at the end of the year, which I'm really excited about. We're hoping, if the house ends up being ours, to develop a garden and perhaps, eventually, a tilapia pond!

I've been actively planning to return to school in the Summer of 2011, to get my Master's in Architecture. With everything else on my plate right now, I'm feeling a little crammed just trying to study for the GRE. I'm also not 100% positive of my reasons for going back to school. I'll be the first to admit, I feel a little "worthless" at times -- worth very little and a drain on the household economy. So, I think the idea of going back for a degree in something I really do want to do and being willing to go back to work and "bring home the bacon" is appealing to me. More importantly, I don't want to be one of those people who just sit around and let life slide right past them, while they whine about life not being great and feeling depressed.

The question has been raised: did I quit writing for the right reasons? Did I quit because I wanted to? Or because I lost faith in myself? Did I allow Clarion West's rejection to dictate my future direction? Do I still really want to be a writer?

Which brings me to the GRE exam. It's $160 -- a lot to spend on just an exam, if I'm not fully committed. And right now, I don't think I am. With the possible move and settling into a new home, the addition of an IC member, the stuff I really don't want to talk about here, "in the clear".... plus some of my other personal projects, I just don't think my focus is on taking the exam this month or even next month -- only to have to turn around and put together an application package.

To this end, I'm going to focus on

  • getting us in a house (one way or another)
  • getting my D&D character sheet files finally cleaned up, so I can publish them on RPGNow.com
  • cleaning up my blog theme
  • a knitting needle inventory idea
  • the lace pattern I have been futzing with for 3 years now
  • a couple other pattern ideas
  • perhaps getting my short fiction published?

Once I've dealt with some of these things and "cleared my deck", so to speak, maybe I'll focus on my first novel and the rat's nest I made of the ending, so I can finally get it onto a publisher's desk!

But for now, I'm not making any more claims. I've made too many and I'm starting to feel buffeted by my own winds of change.

RIP Gabriel

We knew it was coming. We've been telling ourselves this for a while now.

"You know, he's an old boy."

"Eight's up there for a ferret."

"The day is coming..."


Last night was that day. I think Gabriel had a seizure -- maybe a stroke? It left him really "not there" and his body just twitching away.

He'd been sick about a week ago, doing some similar things. I thought maybe we were seeing insulinoma and began doing Karo syrup cotton-swab rubs on his gums when he looked "dazed" or "spacey". I spent about a full day with him, when he was not doing well last time. I gave him sub-cutaneous fluids as the veteranarian's people taught me. Randy has said those fluids probably saved Gabriel's life.

I say I just did what I had to do. I try not to think about the process too much -- it squicks me out. The actual doing doesn't -- maybe because you only do it when you must and that means a ferret's in trouble and there's no time for the squicks?

So, back to last night. Similar signs of not doing well. I had Nick haul out the bag of fluids and the container of sharps. We warmed the fluid in my heating pad -- that's one "home appliance" which has been really busy lately (more on that in a later post). Once it was warm enough, I gave him enough to create a lump about the size of a medium gumball, right between his shoulder blades.

Meanwhile, he just deteriorated as the night progressed. I spend so much more time with the furbabies that I think I come to The Decision more readily -- I 'd say it's perhaps because I hate to see them in pain, but that has reverse implications I don't agree with. I knew, watching him in Randy's arms, what we'd be doing on Saturday. But I waited for Randy to speak first; I just hate sounding so "blood-thirsty" and ready to "kill".

"Parents" of furbabies understand what questions and doubts go through the mind when The Decision must be made. It's easy to fool myself and think, "Oh, a little longer and he'll snap out of this."

I sat up with Gabriel all night. Randy took turns cradling him as he could, but he's been through a lot this week too -- and not had as much opportunity to sleep as I have, so I let him sleep when he did. I should have slept. A smarter person would have -- there was nothing I could do.

Except keep him from being alone. And that was what I did. I knit and listened to an audiobook. I read from the paper version of the same book, when I was cradling him. When I thought he might slip towards sleep, I laid him in our "quarantine cage" and went to spend a little time with Rowan and Nick. When I returned, he was just as I'd left him and I cradled him to me again.

I watched the clock. The vet opened at 8am. At 7:30am, I asked Randy if he wanted me to go in alone or to go with me. We arrived at the vet's at 8:04am. Dr. Funk remembered Gabriel -- he's the one who neutered our big boy when we adopted him in 2008. Dr. Funk agreed it sounded like a seizure. He saw the continued signs of how it had ravaged our furbaby's body and agreed Gabriel has had a good and full life. Why put him through more? I adore Dr. Funk for being so kind-hearted and caring so much about what's best for the animals -- sometimes aggressive treatment isn't the best answer.

Gabriel slipped into peace and across the Rainbow Bridge this morning, in my arms. We brought him home for the remaining five to say good-bye to. We also gave the cats a chance to recognize a change in "the roster" -- and for the humans to come to terms with the new loss.

We'll have his ashes back in a week or so and then I'll have nine little ferret urns on my desk.

goes away to cry a little more

Ramblings of a Woman in Pain

First, before I forget: Sam is home safe and sound. Once again, the amazing people of our neighborhood came to the rescue. I messaged the woman who handles our neighborhood "mailing list" and she sent the message out early Wednesday morning. By about 5pm, we hadn't heard anything, so we printed off a poster and were in the car to go to Kinko's, when my phone rang. A neighbor's kids said there was a "weasel" in their yard and she remembered the email she'd just read. It was a long shot, but she called us.

Their dog had scared Sam behind some large sheds and other things. We got to him and I finally coaxed him out far enough to scruff and drag out. One of the children was kind enough to bring him a small cup of water. It was so sweet watching him hold this cup steady as Sam drank and drank and drank from it. They were all very excited to have been part of this rescue. I'm very thankful for them. I don't know if they might stop by here, but if they do: You guys are a gift and a blessing -- you took a really crappy day and gave it a bright spot we really, really needed. Thank you.

Pain. If it's not the pain in my heart from losing Horatio, it's the pain in my "sacroilliac joint". Monday's injection seems so far away right now -- and yet, it also seems really scary. I'm going to be on an x-ray table and they will use a dye contrast to make sure the needle is in the right place. Once it is, they will inject some anesthetic/numbing "stuff" (like my technical medical terms?) and some cortisone/steroid. I may be in some increased pain for a little while after -- oh fun! -- and then hopefully things will improve. It looks like I'll have a journal/log to fill in and take back to my doctor at my next visit, to reference how much better things are (or not).

In the meantime, I'm trying to do the exercises the physical therapist gave me to do, but it sure feels like things are hurting more and more. Is it because of the exercises? I'm trying not to think of that and just keep doing them.

Where's all the money going? Does it seem to you like there's just never enough money to go around any more? Of course, in my case, it could be the almost-constant stream of co-pays for doctors and physical therapy and such. I've got great healthcare insurance through Randy's work, but these co-pays are just nickel-and-diming us to death! I'm pretty sure that my physical therapy after the car accident had no co-pay...and now it's up to $15 a visit.

Knitting. sigh Did you just sigh with me? Hehehe. I swear, sitting down with a complex lace pattern and an audiobook is my sanctuary and my sanity right now. I'd really like to squirrel away a little money to hit the thrift shops and find an easy chair and ottoman or footstool to put in my bedroom. I need a cozy corner to curl up in, when the rest of the house is just too much for me to deal with. I want a light coming over the chair from behind and a little table beside me to put my drink on. I want a little "arm rest table" for my pattern to lay on, in a read-able position. A foot-rest for my feet and a spot for my yarn to sit quietly while I knit. Oh, and a place to plug in my iPod, if it needs juice while I'm listening.

Do you think Randy would geek my imaginary easy chair out with speakers right by my ears, so I didn't have to wear headphones? *grin*

Hey look, it's 1:45am. I managed a whole hour and a half past the dosing time for my vicodin. I'm going to celebrate by taking a shower. If I'm hurting then, I'll take it and head to bed.

(I heard that laugh.)

RIP Horatio Sheridan

Gods, I'm so tired of writing these good-byes. Yes, another sweet ferret of ours crossed the Rainbow Bridge sometime Tuesday evening. Horatio has been acting oddly since we lost Sebastian. We weren't expecting him to be the ferret we needed to cradle and cuddle through Seb's death.

Horatio has been stumbling and wobbly, tired and lethargic. Some advice has suggested he was having a glucose problem, but I just wasn't sure. I've snuggled him extra, loved on him and watched him play with Samuel and Raphael (though not as much as he used to).

During a late round-up, Nick came to us with the news that Horatio was dead. I hate that he keeps finding the babies like this. Horatio was cold and stiff, gone maybe 6-8 hours we're guessing. I don't know why he died, I just know I've got another hole in my heart... and soon, another urn on my desk.

Horatio "shares" with me

We did an abbreviated version of our usual wake, bringing the babies out one at a time to sniff their cage mate and brother and recognize he's gone. After just updating a profile tonight to say we're down to seven ferrets, suddenly it's only six.

And then the double whammy hit. We can't find Samuel. Randy remembers seeing him at the door when he came home late tonight. He remembers "toeing" Sam away from the door... but we can't find where he's hiding since then. I only hope we can find him in time to let him say good-bye to Horatio.

I hate to say this, but I've realized that as much as I love my ferrets, I can't adopt any more. This just hurts too damn much, coming one on top of the other like this. I'm going to love the ones I've got, to the very last one. But right now, I don't see me adopting any more.

Horatio, love, you've broken my heart again. I hope you're at least happy over the Bridge, my sweetling.

RIP Sebastian Donovan Ferret


Today we said good-bye to Sebastian. He was diagnosed with massive tumors in his abdomen which had been pressing against his intestinal tract. A barium-contrast series of x-rays proved he had no blockage (like a piece of rubber or some such thing) in his GI tract. Our vet felt that operating, while an option, would only buy us a couple months, putting Seb through much pain and discomfort for very little return benefit. We elected to take him home and spoil him rotten. That was February 23rd. The vet said he didn't expect Seb to last a month.

Sebastian's GI tract with barium, 15:12

He was right. Last night, Sebastian just seemed to be so wasted away, both physically (which has been painful to watch) and finally, mentally. He licked at some guacamole (his favorite food) but didn't really seem to care much any more. Instead of trying to run off with the chip and guac, he walked a few inches away (without the treat) and just sacked out. The tumors were obviously pressing and making things uncomfortable. He would wake up and pee almost immediately -- no matter where he was. He clearly hated this, but had no strength left to do otherwise.

This morning, we took him in to the vet. We weren't able to see Dr. Funk, but one of his colleagues was just as kind to us. She administered the shot and he was gone in less than two minutes. I'd even say he was gone in under a minute. He just took a couple last breaths and was gone.

We brought him home, as we've learned to do, and I gave him a bath. Since he couldn't bristle his fur and fluff it dry, I used my hair dryer on the "cool" setting, to fluff him dry again. It was hard seeing how this once-vibrant and feisty ferret had been whittled down to barely skin-and-bones by that fucking disease called cancer. I'm so sick of cancer stealing from me and mine.

We called Rowan, who knew we were going in today, and he came up to sit with us and cry. When all the animals and the humans had been given a time to say good-bye, I collected a small snip of fur for Rowan and put it into a glass vial.

We are having Sebastian cremated, like all our other ferrets have been. But I know he's really no longer here, but across the Rainbow Bridge, frollicking and nipping the toes of all the ferrets who have gone on before.

Sebastian, we'll see you again someday.

RIP Theodore "Snaps" Ferret

Why is it that, even when we know death is coming, we're still not ready to lose the one we love?

We had to make The Decision -- the one all pet owners are aware of and dread -- today, for Theodore. This boy has had a really interesting life (and we're sure we didn't know the half of it!). He was found, running the streets of Savannah, GA by a gal by the name of Melanie. Her friend Julie had a ferret that wasn't doing well after losing a companion ferret. Julie took this friendly, curious boy in and named him "Snaps". He was a great comfort to his new ferret friend, Ginger until she passed on and joined her ferret companion Fred.

Julie knew she couldn't adopt again, but he deserved a chance to play and have much more ferret fun. So she made a different tough decision: to give Snaps a home with more ferrets.

That's where we came into this amazing boy's life. I remember the day I met him -- he almost lept from Julie's hands, he was so excited to meet new people! And he's always been like that. What surprised us most was that he bonded with Maya, our first re-homed ferret who'd been brought to our vet's office, having been found wandering the streets of Savannah. It seemed they either knew each other or were able to communicate to each other about their free-range lives before us.

When we lost Maya so suddenly on my birthday in 2007, I thought for sure we'd lose Theo soon after that. We all spent a lot of time with him, cuddling him and making sure he knew how loved he was. He pulled through her loss.

Then, he started having seizures and my research told me he had insulinoma. This meant we had to make sure his blood sugar didn't drop too low and be ready to treat a seizure with a little Karo syrup rubbed on his gums. The seizures were terrifying. A couple of them were so bad, I wondered if The Decision was close at hand. But each time, he pulled out of it and was back to his bouncy, playful self.

Oh, he was older. And it showed in the less frequent playful periods, but when he played, he played. And when he slept, he was so sacked out, he'd sleep himself into a crash. So, our vet said to wake him and feed him "gushy food" (usually a mix of Gerber baby food and feline a/d) to prevent the crashes.

Then, earlier this year, I noticed a knot or a lump on his belly, near his penis. I was worried his "boy mechanics" were being tied up and causing problems, so we took him in to see Dr. Funk again. Without anesthesia and surgery, he said it would be hard to be sure, but he felt confident it wasn't interferring with the internals much. It grew rapidly -- I mean scary-fast. Today, after he was gone and there was just a body there, I felt around and it was about the size of a large walnut or bigger.

I think all pet owners question all their decisions when there's no clear-cut right or wrong to follow. We work from our hearts and from what we believe we can read in the eyes of our beloved pets. I chose, with Randy's agreement, those several months back, not to pursue removal of the tumor because it would require anesthesia. My reading and the knowledge of vets past and present has led me to believe that the older ferrets just don't do as well coming out of surgery. Something about the anesthesia just messes them up and some just fade away. So, we decided to pass on the surgery and give him as many love and treat filled months as we could.

That came to an end today. We're not sure exactly what changed, but Randy found him huddled up in a corner yesterday weaker than a new-born kit. With supportive care, he curled up for sleep. Sixteen hours later, he still had little to no mobility. Holding him, he was constantly shivering/shuddering. And his eyes, normally bright and attentive, seemed glassy with pain to me.

We scheduled with Dr. Funk and this tough street-smart ferret hung on, even in pain. When he was gone, it was just like a light had left the body and the shell was dark. We brought his body home to let all the ferrets say their good-byes. It's a step which is so important to our pets. Considering how social ferrets are, I believe it would have been cruel to not bring Theo's body home for this good-bye.

Once the good-byes were all said, we returned to the vet's to give over Theo's body for cremation. It's a private cremation, so we'll have his remains back with us soon.

Theodore will be joining his first companion, Ginger, his second companion Maya and other cage=mates Elijah, Octavia and Zoë. Theodore never knew Kittanning and Maxwell, but they'll be there to greet you. Remember Nana's Wheezy and Mousey and Huskers, too! You'll have so many friends -- remember Heinlein-kitty? -- just have fun and we'll see each other again, someday.

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