Friday, December 21, 2007

Magic Bullett

Tired of force-feeding the cat, I called the vet about an appetite stimulant. She perscribed this stuff called "cyproheptadine". Vicki picked it up on the way home from work the other day.

He was chowing down within 20 minutes.

It turns out it's an antihistamine, and one of the side effects can be irritability. And within 24 hours we noticed he'd become fairly restless and was yowling a lot. But in exchange for voluntarily eating dry food, and significant amounts of it, we figured it was worth it. I cut his dosage in half yesterday. It still appears to be working and he's yowling a lot less. I'll try cutting it down to a once a day dose in the morning and see if that further helps his side effects while still encouraging him to eat.

We went out to dinner for Vicki's birthday the other night at a Chinese restaurant. No, they didn't sing "Deck the harr wif bar of howry -- fa-ra-ra-ra-ra ra-ra ra-ra" to us. And afterward the gang specified in my last post were over for pie.

The big Winter Walkabout starts tomorrow. My pack is pretty much packed except for food. I have the military gortex rain pants and my oilskin coat and my hat. Zero degree bag and ECWCS underwear. I'll need it all. Rain in the morning, temperatures falling through the 30's all day. Snow starting around 5:00, getting going in earnest for a few hours from 9:00pm-midnight-ish, then tapering off.

Sunday morning should be interesting if that forecast holds. This is a new experience. To wake up outside in the woods with fresh snow.

I wasn't going to bring the good camera, but now I'm tempted.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Is A Comin'

Well we got a nice snow last Saturday. We stayed in and made cookies and candy and listened to Christmas music while it snowed. Brian and Kristin came over and we had a fire and made dinner and hung out all evening.

That'll get you in the spirit.

Bart's still not eating on his own. Not much, anyway. He'll nibble on his dry food maybe once a day. He goes and sniffs at it, but then walks away. So I'm still force feeding him through a syringe. It's probably not enough, but it has stopped his tailspin weight loss.

Still, here's the main reason I'm working so hard to prolong his life for at least a little while. He's been real good for the recovering mother-in-law.

I mean... come on... look at that. What a pal! What are ya gonna do?

Ryan and I have a Winter Walkabout planned for Saturday... overnight Saturday night ... but they're talking about rain all day now. Snow would be good. Rain???? Doesn't sound like much fun. We'll talk tonight.

We're all going out to Peking for Vicki's Birthday tonight, then back to the house for Birthday Pie -- Vicki's "Cake" of choice.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bart Update


It's the worst.

He has kidney problems. Probably pretty bad. And those don't get better. We may be able to nurse him along for weeks or months or even a few years by periodically pumping fluids into him so his body flushes his kidneys out from time to time. But it's the end game, regardless. It depends somewhat on how long you want to keep playing.

He's been really good company, like I said, for Mom during the day. So I'm hoping we can nurse him past the holidays and give us a chance to assess his quality of life, our quality of life, and start thinking about when it's time to say goodbye. He is 14.

Right now we're starting with a once a week treatment. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Festiveness Abounds

Have You Ever?

This is pretty interesting, just from your own perspective. You might amaze yourself. Bold (and in my case, underline) the ones you've done.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm.
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking (if it still counts when you're drunk)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (if the renfest counts as "all day". Not saying I was great at it, though.)
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country ( I have, however danced with the two guitarists from an all-girl punk-rock band. Once again, there was alcohol inovled. But that's another story.)
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage (The Stingrays!)
85. Been to Las Vegas (through it but not to it)
86. Recorded music (not professionally)
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (every single one, baby!)
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream (for brief moments in the mountains, yes. but in genral, I take life as it comes rather than dream big)
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Winter Weather is Here - The House is Beautiful

(If you're not familiar with Jimmy Buffett, that title will make less sense than it should.)

We went and got the tree last weekend and put it in the stand. It's a nice tree. Our usual frasier fir. Smells great.

Mom is getting better and better while Bart continues to lose weight at an alarming rate. She was up most of the afternoons of the last few days last week ... all afternoon. She's noticing that she's strong enough to do some things that she couldn't do a week or so ago.

Bart is not eating at all anymore. We checked his mouth. His teeth are still there. I bought some Eubanuka Maximum Calorie soft food for "Nutritionally Distressed" cats, and I'm force feeding it to him through a syringe. Still, it's only 1.5 tsp per syringe, and he's only getting 4 or 5 a day. Better than nothing but it won't do the trick in the long run. He's been good company for Mom in the house while we're at work. Hate to see him starve to death. He's going to the vet in the morning. I'm hoping all he needs is his teeth cleaned.

We had ice on friday and friday night, but it was drivable in town. We went to the Unrath's Christmas party and had a great time talking with friends we don't see very often. Their house is always so nice, and they're great hosts. It's a good mix of people. And I had to have a drink of Bob's "shrub" -- which I have taken up making myself. If you want it for Christmas this year you'd better make it now. This was a year old and had cleared nicely.

I put the tree lights on Saturday and I've been tinkering with the Polaroid TV trying to get it to get enough of a signal to get the digital "all weather" channels from our local NBC and ABC affilliates. I had turned the antennas on the roof last weekend and they still worked fine with the Vizio TV, but the ice kind of changed that. I actually went up on the roof Saturday to re-position them to point where they used to... not the smartest thing to do with the roof in the condition it was, but I knew that I could probably easily scrape a path up to the antenna and stay on my hands and knees on the rough, if wet, shingles.

Folks, do not try this at home. I am a trained professional :-/

First I tried throwing salt up there to see if it would just melt me a path. I was up on the ladder slinging salt all the way up to the top of the other side of the house from the deck. But it didn't seem to do much. I went up with the scraper and my Leather Man® tool. If it can't be done with my Leather Man®, it can't be done.

The ice came off in large, flat sheets as I carefully scraped the shingles while not lifting them (cold shingles break easily). And I made it to the top and successfully re-pointed the antennas. Somewhere in there I lost my ice tool and I got to see excactly what would happen to me if I managed to slip and fall on the icy surface. There would be nothing to stop me before I hit the ground, save a good solid thumping by the pine tree on that side of the house on the way down. I probably would have skittered an additional 15 feet down the ice-covered grassy hill in the yard. And on a cold, icy day, there's virtually no one to hear you scream.

Knees and shoe-soles were enough to hold me up going up, but going back down for some reason required more surface area contact, for which I employed my bare hands. I had to stop several times and warm them up under my arms as they got painfully cold. And I had wisely salted the wooden ladder steps and top so I was able to get down safely and ponder the risk I had just taken and just how wise it was. I should've gone in and played "Careful Man" on the guitar... if my fingers would move.

But the IU/Kentucky game looked great in HD for Mom (not that she would have cared, but I do!), who flipped back and forth between that game and the Mizzou/Purdue game. Basketball. It's the Indiana State Religion. Kinda like Texas and Football.

Saturday night we had sleet and freezing rain all night, including "Thunder Sleet". Brian asked if that was some new hard rock band. I said "yes, they do a lot of Christmas songs." There were about two inches of "frozen stuff" all over everything Sunday morning.

I got all of the Christmas decorations down from the attic and then went out and chipped Vicki's car out and took some food Vicki had prepared and a Nativity set over to Brian and Kristin's. They were coming back from Las Vegas last night. Picked up a few things at the store and came home. Vicki was putting up decorations -- something I'm usually more involved in. But it was still up to me to deck the actual hall with the holly garland. We have a good 50 or so feet of it that drapes down one side of the hall, across the front and up the other. It's quite festive. This year Vicki took a string of lights that didn't go on the tree this year (smaller tree) and put it on our separator screen between the breakfast area and the living room before putting the normal garland over it. It added a splash of pizzaz, for sure -- kicked it up a notch, as they say.

We thawed the turkey broth made from the Thanksgiving turkey and added some carrots, corn, celery, and frozen noodles and made a really nice Turkey soup for last night. After that I had some "online" shopping to do, and it was time to clear the cameras's memories. Vicki was pooped and passed out on the couch. Mom rested in bed. And we all turned in for real around 10:30. So none of the cookies I'd planned on baking got done.