Sunday, April 30, 2006

What do they call non-buyer's remorse?* 

So maybe three weeks ago this Wednesday, Lorraine Powell (760/789-1758) invited Margaret Tyler's spinning class out to her place in Ramona fer some spinning and sheep oglin' and shoppin'.

And some modern art--everybody knows Barn Cats create the best modern art. (I thought at first it was a tree branch, then realised, "hey it's furry" and "there's no tree it could have come from." It must have been a huge rat and quite a scuffle to see.)

Sorry, I just thought it was interesting, so like any good Amerkin I took a pitcher.

There were some good looking (whole) animals hanging around, and I fell in love with this handsome dude.

I think it was the alfalfa chum around his nostrils that really got me hot.

But Mary-Kay had a better eye for the cuties. Check her out for gorgeous Lincoln on the hoof. I love that little lamb's locks.

Here's what her locks might look like when she's sheared and older:

Such strength and curl and sheen:

But here's the shot that really makes me wish I'd snagged some, the light catches the skin side just right:

I passed on it because I still have Eloise to tend to. And some other combing to do, but geez, pretty stuff.

Here's Mary-kay posing by her kill:

The skirting table is a construction of 2x4"s and some extra-special chicken wire (thicker and rustproof) where they shake the second cuts out of the fleeces and skirt the poopy bits out.

Lorraine brought up an interesting point: shearers shear, and the product (the FS, or the Finished Sheep) that they leave is an advertisement of sorts, so sometimes the shearing that they do is not so great for handspinners, leaving lots of second cuts.

This is of course, A Major Bummer™ as it reduces the staple length of the fiber and in the end, the consistency of the spinning. But only if you're super-anal about it. ;)

Also, Mary-Kay proudly displayed while Byron married her:

And then she laughed merrily as she watched me lock my keys in the car...but she drove me home to get my spare key.

I promised knitting and spinning, but all there is in this post is love for the Lincoln. She also has Columbians, but really, I could care less about Columbian fleece. Although I should care more, since they're a Lincoln-Rambouillet cross and could quite possibly be the Next Trendy Sheep Fiber (Finn was quite briefly this) but they feel like Corriedale to me...and Corriedale's cheaper. Spinning and knitting next post. really.

*(this entry subtitled: "Fuí el primero que dijo que el orgasmo clitoral no solo debe ser para mujeres", name the movie that subtitle came from and win 400 yards of sock yarn! Of course, if you prefer to buy it, Juno's destashing a nice lot)


Monday, April 24, 2006

Belu's Back 

Belu is back at home. Her labs are good, her stools are good (but left on the deck, not down in the yard like they should be, lazy little b*tch, but we're so happy to have her home that we'll smack her aroun' later) and she's seems to be doing well. She gets a recheck on Thursday. She left kibble on her plate though when I fed her, which is a bit worrying, but I think we've all had a bit of an appetite killer of a week.

We are so happy to have her home. Tahoe's happy too, although she hasn't opened up a can of whup@ss on him yet as is her habit. Another aberration, but I'm sure she'll make him scream in pain and fear soon and we can all breathe a sigh of relief of normality.

I feel a big void and I know that no one can replace Snowball or come close, but I can't help but think of a couple of greyhounds at the center...Nick thinks we should wait...but there's a shy girl named Dorset, or a mellow doofus named Romney. Not to mention, there are some broken leg dogs. But he is almost always right, so we'll wait. But I have poor impulse control, so we'll see.

Spinning, knitting, dyeing in the next post.

And hey, you who we met at the Emergency Vets--I'm sorry we didn't do a round of introductions, all I can remember is the cute girl who Belu didn't try to bite the nose of was named Selba (sp?). Please say howdy so I can bookmark your blog!

Thank you everyone for your comments, we really appreciate it. I wish everybody could have experienced the sheer joy of the Snowball spaaztastic thrill of being.

We are very lucky, and while it really hurts right now, we're glad we had him while we did, and it's nice to hear from "all y'all" out there...total flashback--"Thank you for your support!" (Damn you Bartles and Jaymes and your stanky wine coolers too!)


Friday, April 21, 2006

The Elephant 

We thought we would have a lot more time to tiptoe around the elephant in the room, but this "elephant" turned out to be more of a bull in a china shop, if you'll pardon the clichés.

September 1st, I wrote this:
Remember, way back when I was employed and I mentioned I was in love with someone I worked with? Well, because Nick is an understanding and patient man, he's allowed me to bring this object of my affection into our home:

I love everything about this dog but his silly name: Snowball. retch.
He's a total goofball, who doesn't look much like a greyhound at all but has the tattoos anyway.

La Mesa hasn't changed its doglaws, and we are still renters, so he's "just" a foster, but he'll probably be with us for a long time, because he's not your "typical greyhound" that your "typical adopter" will be seeking (like Jasper) and I love love love him, so his leash may have to be pried from my snot&tear-stained-tissue-filled hand when the time comes.

Early Thursday morning we pet Snowball and told him how much we loved him and what a good brave dog he was while the vet pushed a sedative into his veins and then, a lethal dose of barbituates. He would have been nine years old next month, according to his ear tattoos.

The tumor on Tuesday, the 18th, a week after first appearing.

Last week, on the 11th, Tuesday afternoon, Snowball apparently pulled a muscle in his rear left leg playing in the yard. Usually I can rub out muscle pain, but this just seemed to get worse, and Wednesday he didn't want to put any pressure on it at all.

We called and got the nearest vet appointment for Friday afternoon. That evening I noticed a lump near his stifle (knee) about the size of a quarter and maybe raised a centimeter.

Thursday morning we called to see if they had a cancellation and we could get in sooner. They did, but by the time we saw the vet it was about the size of a half dollar and protruding a little more. She said, "This doesn't just happen over night," but it did. Radiographs were taken. Shadows looking like vapor at the swollen area meant that there were holes in the bone, most likely osteosarcoma. I asked about his treatment options and Dr. Lewis said that the cancer has almost always already metastasized by the time a tumor is discovered and most dogs don't live even a year after amputation, as little as two to three weeks..."Well, what's the next step, then?" I may have asked if there was a chance it could be anything else. It could be fungus, which would be treatable, relatively not a big deal. Blood was drawn and Nick and I crossed our fingers for fungus.

On the 18th, Tuesday morning, fungus was ruled out. Tuesday afternoon I spoke with the head of GAC: bottom line was that they wouldn't support amputation and chemo as options, not because of the money but because of the history they'd seen with other dogs in his situation. And because of Snowball's simply terrible balance with four legs, I didn't like the idea of amputation either but we at least wanted to speak with a vet face-to-face about all his treatment options objectively.

Wednesday morning I signed papers to adopt him so we could take more control over his treatment and get a second opinion. We have gone to Dr. White of Valley Veterinary in Murrieta before and trust him to be completely honest and objective about all options. Even if we were just going to hear the same things from him.

Wednesday afternoon, Nick and I were stealing some sleep when we awoke to the sound of Snowball screaming in pain. He was down in the yard and had apparently fallen. I couldn't find a break, but the leg with the tumor was clenched like a muscle spasm and the tumor was now about ten centimeters in diameter. Because of its size it almost seemed to have flattened out, but it was probably two centimeters tall.

Nick carried him upstairs and placed him on a dog bed. I gave him a Rimadyl for the pain. We hung out for a while and I left to mail an order. Nick says he tried to get up when I left and cried because he couldn't and had tried to get up too quickly.

Later he was able to get up more slowly and hopped six hops into the living room before collapsing and dragging himself the rest of the way. Usually, he would sleep at least sixteen out of every twenty-four hours, just like the whippets, but he just couldn't get to sleep, he was panting in pain and couldn't get comfortable.

We moved him from room to room so he could be with us and I kept giving him peanut butter kongs to distract him. I brought him dinner in bed with more Rimadyl and his appetite was still good. We gave him Tylenol PM (the ingredients are safe for dogs but the dosing is larger) hoping he could just go to sleep and be out of the pain for a while, long enough to take him up to Dr. White.

I fell asleep next to him in bed, waiting for him to fall asleep, listening to his panting. Around three-thirty in the morning, Nick woke me up and told me Snowball hadn't been to sleep at all. He was in pain, and we knew this was probably the first step in a descension of quality of life. If you've ever met Snowball you know what a great happy friendly doofus he is. Was.

He liked to shake stuffed toys and socks so vigorously they'd fly out of his mouth and hit the ceiling fan, land behind the tv set, on top of bookshelves--we would find toys in the most improbable places. He'd fling them and then pounce on them like a puppy and shake them like a terrier with a rat. He'd make happy grunting groaning noises when you rubbed his ears, especially knuckle rubs and when you scratched under his chin he'd stretch out his neck for you to get a full scratching stroke going. He loved back and butt scratches; he'd roll over and kick his legs up in the air in joyful ecstasy and he loved to play tug and growled and barked around the stuffie in his mouth like he really meant to rip your face/hand off but I could give him smooches on the snout while we tugged.

There's a part of me that wishes we'd held on, because there's so much I miss about him and want more of but I know it would have been a series of adaptations to the pain, not the happy gamboling boy who made sure I knew when it was time to get up and feed and skipped and hopped around me and fell over (even before the cancer appeared he was graceless and clumsy, we were both in an almost constant state of tripping over each other) and walked up the back of my legs on the way to the food bin. It wasn't until nearly three in the afternoon that I realised I hadn't fed Tahoe and Belu breakfast. No Snowball to tell me to do it.

After we came back from the Emergency Vet, around five thirty in the morning, we fell into bed exhausted. I woke up around eleven and knew I should get up and shower but I didn't feel like it. I did anyway. I've never felt so empty or numb or bone-tired in my life, and then I'd be crying again with the acid grief filling up my throat and sinuses, even sourness to the tips of my ears, over something so stupid and small like all the white hairs of his all over the laundry I was loading into the washer. And it was silly because there I was sobbing in the laundry room when if he'd been alive I probably would have been yelling at him, "I'm right here, I'll be right up, STOP WHINING!" Because he couldn't see me when I was in the laundry room he always stood above on the deck and cried until I came back up. It was so irritating.

I just wanted to sit and not think. I just wanted to feel Snowball's fur in my hands again and smell his warm smell. The moments between the vet pushing the sedative and him completely relaxing and pain free and the lethal dose and needing to leave our dead dog behind were too short. If there's any "benefit" to cancer it's that you are supposed to have more time, but this thing came at us so unbelievably fast, the tumor grew impossibly quickly. We were supposed to have a lot more time.

Later that evening, Nick said the magic words, "six pack" and I said, "kitchen sponges" and we set off to procure our dual solutions to our pain.

We were gone for perhaps fifteen minutes.

When we returned he started handfeeding Tahoe and I was tossing kibble to Libélula when I saw a prescription bottle lying on the living room floor. I have to admit I pretty much panicked. I checked, and yes, it was the bottle that Snowball's Rimadyl had been in, perhaps fifteen chewable doses, that I'd stupidly left on the counter next to his thyroid medicine by the coffee maker. It was empty.

I called the Emergency Vets to see what we should do, what they would do--I wasn't even sure if I should really be panicking. They said they'd first induce vomiting and then "other courses of treatment." I fired up the ol' internet, and we poured an ounce of hydrogen peroxide down Belu's gullet to induce vomiting. She threw up bile, but no tablets and none of the dog food I'd just been tossing her. Guts of steel.
The internet offered no useful info about Rimadyl toxicity, just the standard cautions to keep the meds out of reach to avoid overdose. Yes, thanks.

I called the Animal Poison Control helpline and realised I was just wasting time, they would charge us $55 to tell us what we already knew: she had to go to the Emergency Vets.

So, for the second time that Thursday, we went. She'd had the pills in her for perhaps a half hour. They took her, induced more vomiting, gave her charcoal, drew blood for a baseline and set her up with intravenous fluids to help flush her kidneys. She has to be there three days. We get her out Sunday.

Her baseline was good, her second blood results are good. Apparently there can be a delayed reaction, so we aren't completely in the clear yet, but we're feeling relatively sunny about the whole thing. She owes us the equivalent of a ten year old light-duty pickup, but that will come out of her allowance.

We were almost 100% positive that Tahoe didn't get any Rimadyl--Belu never willingly shares any yummies with him, so even though we weren't there and didn't see, we didn't have him hospitalised as well. The stress of it would probably do him more harm; he is of a completely different nature than our Weasel. We did go to the vet though the next day (Friday) and did a blood panel, but it was a part of his necessary yearly physical anyway. We were told that if there was anything of concern they would call us, and so far, no news is good news.

So, we've gone from crammed feeling three dog household to just an empty messy shell with one depressed whippet.

Tomorrow Belu will be back though and that will help.
The hole Snowball has left is huge and while Belu has helped distract us, there's not much that can be done, we just have to wait for time to pass and the comfort of distance and human memory. I'm glad that we adopted him. We'd known that we would but we had thought it was going to be precipitated by us moving north, not this. I wish we could have had more than seven and a half months of silly Snowball time but I'm glad for what we had, and I'm thankful we'll have more Weasel-time and my mistake and her pigginess weren't fatal.

Some of my favorite pictures of Snowball, they've been posted before so they may look familiar.

with Jasper, former foster

goodbye bedshark. we miss you so much.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gardening around the elephant in the room. 

I bought packets of seeds
a bag of soil
packets of soil and partitions of plastic

persian garden cress,
thai green lettuce,
rosette green tatsoi,
osaka purple mustard greens

chadwick cherry tomato



chamomile & calendula & st. john's wort

dark opal purple basil,
genovese sweet basil,
fino verde basil,
persian anise basil,
cinnamon basil,
greek basil,
lemon basil
and holy basil

new mexico sage, victoria sage and garden sage

sunflower of mixed colors and hopi black dye sunflowers

maroon coreopsis, parker's variety yarrow, bronze fennel, orange safflower, hopi red dye amarinth, french bocade marigold, unwin's mix dahlia

cherimoya and kumquat and avocado

Thyme and oregano, rosemary and mint already sprouted in small containers.

I'm tearing up the yard; I've built a chicken wire cage for compost. I have forty pounds of kentucky bluegrass and fescue seed.

I have a black thumb. I hope some things survive.

I wish I had a real elephant, that would be some good stuff for the yard.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fitness & Fiber 

April is Autism Awareness Month!
So I guess it's high time for a recap of the Autism 5K last month.

And I ran the Carlsbad 5000 on April 9th so I wanna talk about that too.

Interspersed will be piccies of fiber for variety.

Anyone want to run the La Jolla Half Marathon's 5K on the 23rd? It's supposed to be quite pretty.

The Autism Run

I wrote this recap awhile back.
The Race for Autism was fun, and a good fitness wakeup call. Nick had been sick and I used it as an excuse to stop running as well, so we hadn't been running for at least a month before. We were shocked that we were able to even run the first mile. Then we walked for a quarter mile, ran a quarter mile, walked a quarter mile, ran, walked, ran, walked, etc. and ran across the finish at just under 35 minutes which was quicker than we expected, but still a bit laggard at this pont if we're to run 13.1 miles by September 17.

5Ks should be a good fun speed checkup, plus there's a ton of them esp. in April and May. Of course, I'm not running 5K straight through yet, and don't think I will be by the Mud Run and Carlsbad 5000 next weekend, but it'll be a fun time nonetheless. [Didn't do the mud run, and didn't run straight through the C5K]

Anyway, the Autism 5K was a fun event. There were a fair amount of participants, but we missed out on meeting up with Nancy and her family--we trotted past them at the start though, heading toward the bib pickup after the race started across the Cabrillo Bridge.

A mound of recently dyed superwash and merino/tencel. Getting ready for spring-themed spinning.

Couple of weird things though, and since this was only my second 5K I don't know if they're normal:

  1. was all the iPods, like people running in pairs with iPods on. I hope they were at least listening to the same playlists.
  2. people threw their watercups all over the ground, sometimes just steps after the table. I mean, c'mon, that's just not nice. It's a little waxpaper dixie cup, would it kill you to hold it 'til you run past the waste can? it wasn't an olympic competition or anything.
  3. walkers. Seriously, if you are walking the 5k from the start, then don't start with the runners (and don't headstart either, you cheaters ;P), you just hold the pack up (some of the course parts were really narrow so three people walking abreast were a slow-moving roadblock). As I said, this is only the second race I've been in, but I'm sensing a theme here: each one's had a published delayed start for walkers that the walkers have completely ignored.
    Kind of fun weaving in and out though.

A bit of bombyx silk I dyed to sell as handpainted sliver but wasn't happy with the way much of it turned out, so I'm spinning it up without really knowing what end use it will have.

There were a bunch of photographers there and I wasn't thinking or I would have smiled more. I definitely won't wear those trousers to run in again (I had something in a front pocket that skewed the trousers and made it look like I had a pinga) and need to work on my running form. Good pic of Nancy at the finish though.

At the Carlsbad 5K, I remembered to smile when I noticed them, but I'm not photogenic at the best of times.

Some of the spun bombyx plied over a core of superwash thick and thin yarn.

The Carlsbad 5000

Nick got sick again, so I ended up running it for the both of us. I waffled about going at all for just a few minutes too long and ended up missing the women's start at 10.20 and must have just missed the walker's start because by the time I got there, they had the start taped off and just a guy with a cellphone hanging out.

So I hung around for an hour, with Nick's chip on my left foot and my chip on my right foot and waited until 11.30 so I could run with the Elite Men's group.
Yeah. I felt kind of awkward; I totally stuck out.
I had way more leg hair than most of them.

I let the crowd clear out when the starting gun fired so I wouldn't be in anyone's way, then I started. It wasn't a huge group but I waited maybe a halfminute, a minute or so before starting out myself and it's strange because my chiptime and the clocktime are exactly the same on our race results. Is that right? Am I missing something?

I plied the silk with the superwash, then plied it again in the other direction creating some loops from the first ply and binding them with the second ply. I alternated plying angles and speeds to keep it random--in some places it's coiled, in others it looks like fishnet, some loops, and some sections where the silk stuck out enough to ply back on itself like little shiny two-ply flags or tags. I plied it again in the other direction and repeated the randomness, sometimes pushing the previous plies around to lock them down a certain way.

The Carlsbad 5000 runners take themselves pretty seriously. People go there to break world records so there weren't any weaving walkers blocking the course and I didn't notice any iPods in the group.

I started last, but I didn't finish last, so that makes me happy. Not to make it sound like I beat any "Elite Men" though, there were other people running in the group who had obviously missed the other start times too, but I did wait and start last.

I also did a personal record for me, at 29.58 (I think my time at the Revlon thing was 33 minutes?) which I'm okay with and looking forward to improving as I get fitter.
I ran the first two miles, walked a tenth, ran for a few minutes (five? I need to get a watch), walked another tenth or so, ran, walked a tenth, ran the last quarter mile and sprinted like hell the last tenth for the finish (I heard people laugh. I think I probably (definitely) need to work on my efficiency of movement. I heard the announcer say, "Uh, way to work on that speed, good job!" as I akimbo'd toward the finish line.)

Anyway, it was NOT a flat course, at least a third of it was what I might define as a gentle slope (but another third was gentle downhill slope and the rest flat, so I guess it was pretty flat). It blows my mind anyone was able to run it in 13.15, let alone that it was the fifth fastest time at the race on record. Crazeeeee.

So with just under 35 minutes at the Autism 5K and just under 30 minutes at the C5K, if I take five minutes off my running time with every 5K, I'll be breaking world records in no time.

(yeah, I know it doesn't work that way)

I ended up with 37.5 meters of grape-vine tendrilly yarn. I have a larger quantity of green superwash and silk, I think it will look quite cool done up like that.

Next events on the event wishlist:


Monday, April 03, 2006

Coincidence? Or a vast bureaucratic conspiracy? 

So I get called jury duty.

Nick has two cases in court the same day too.

We're both getting ready together and he says, "If it's Blah or Blahblah, get yourself excused."

One of his cases is supposed to go at 8am.
No one leaves the jury room for selection until 9.30 at the earliest, so I'm sitting there bored and ticked, because this is time he could have been sleeping, since he worked all night and will have to do it again that night (And again has court the next morning), but of course, his second case is scheduled to go at 1pm, so no rest for my bunny.
I haven't a clue why no one gets called out until an hour and a half after the reporting time; I mean, do we really need to hear a "Rah, rah, you're such lucky Americans with the right and privilege of jury service" speech from a judge and watch a video version of the speech and basic social studies "This is your brain on the Justice System" recap then sit around for an hour? There has to be a better system for processing all potential jurors.

Anyway, I finally get called to go with a group just before noon.

We wait in the hallway for a while. A bailiff comes out, "Everybody gather around [simple instructions follow regarding seating order and a preprinted jury questionaire]."

We wait in the hall for a while more. Then we're called in.

The judge does his "Hi, I'm Judge So-and-So, here's the purpose of the jury in this case" rah rah speech.

He has kind of a meandering style, you know, he's showing us he's just zis guy y'know, so we don't get to the "Does anyone here know the defendant?" type questions for a while.
No one admits to knowing the defendant, so nobody raises their hand.
Anyone know the D.A. or anyone who works for the D.A.'s office? No? Good.

He takes fifteen minutes to explain the charges that have been filed, and I zone out because he started the spiel with "This case is The People v. Blahblah" so I'm just waiting to get kicked out.

Eventually he's done and asks if anyone in the jury pool knows a member of law enforcement, and this description can include even IRS agents. I raise my hand as do about seven others. It takes a little while to get to me.
"Ms. Spaaz?"
"Yes, sir, er honor?"
"Um, my husband's a CHP officer and he's going to be testifying at this er, thingy."
The jury pool explodes with laughter, I shrug, the judge asks me to repeat myself.
"He, um, told me the two cases he had today and this is one of them, I think he was one of the arresting officers or um..." (I am very well-spoken in front of a stern man in a black dress).

He tries to make a joke out of it, "So you'd be unable to believe anything he said was the truth?"

And I smile, but really, this bothers me and what I want to say is, "This is a man whom I fell in love with because I'd never met anyone more honest and honorable and still haven't. If he says she's a crazy drug-addled hag, she's a crazy drug-addled hag."

But I didn't want to taint the jury pool, so I just said, "Er, the opposite way really."

Which is good, because usually when I start waxing rhapsodic about Nick and all his virtues I bring his dick, its talents and dimensions into it, which would be embarrasssing for Nick as he entered the courtroom, what with the jury craning their necks to see if he had specially fitted pants, carried it in a shopping cart preceding him, or even just walked with the bowlegged saunter that physics demands and all. (He does the latter)
And that probably wouldn't have been appropriate.

The judge told me I was excused.
I said, "Thank you, sir, offic--, er, your honor."
And skedaddled back to the jury room.
About an hour later everyone who hadn't been called yet was allowed to leave.

So that's out of the way for another year or so.

I did nearly finish the back of the Sleek Cabled Raglan and finished rereading Good Omens for the bajillionth time (funniest. book. about. the. endtimes. ever.) and got a good chunk of Practical Demonkeeping read.

Thanks everybody for the comments on the sweater, I really appreciate it!

I leave you with a knit-spotting excerpt from Good Omens:
She'd stopped reading the kind of women's magazine that talks about romance and knitting and started reading the kind of women's magazine that talks about orgasms, but apart from making a mental note to have one if ever the occasion presented itself she dismissed them as only romance and knitting in a new form.


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