Tag Archives: do not want

An Irony

We got up at 6:30 this morning and left Ashland before 7 AM. The drive through Oregon was beautiful, if waterlogged; the drive through Washington was beset by somewhat inexplicable and unexpected traffic in odd places. We listened to an audiobook that turned out to be quite good, and the most annoying thing was that though we’d left plenty of time to make it to Vancouver by dinnertime (we were supposed to eat at their house), the traffic gods and border crossing people had other plans in store for us.

Though belated, we made it into Canada and to our hotel, which we discovered upon exploration of the immediate vicinity is essentially Little Saigon. I think I counted more than 15 Vietnamese restaurants on either side of this street along the few blocks we explored. The smells coming out of them were absolutely delectable. The unfortunate thing is that I’m allergic to Vietnamese food.

We found a Indian-style Chinese place instead. It was pretty good.


Things I did this weekend that I have never done before

In no particular order:

I drank mint tea made with just mint and water (it was pretty good!)

I went naked in a hot tub, and also I bruised my butt while moving from one seat to another in said hot tub.

I curled my hair using this tutorial and it turned out pretty well. I only left it in for a couple of hours; now that I understand the mechanics a bit better I know how to get better results (like leave it in longer next time).

I accidentally used rolled barley instead of rolled oats when making a blackberry crisp. It was much crunchier than expected, but still edible.

I ate Salvadoran food.

I watched Robin Hood: Men in Tights and wondered why Cary Elwes doesn’t always play comedic dashing fantasy men because he’s good at it.

I accidentally ingested some rancid Grape Nuts. I do not recommend this.

Leah and Simon should ask us to housesit more often. Next time, though, maybe leave a warning label on the Grape Nuts.

What can happen in 90 seconds

Some time several months ago, Dan and I were at the feed store where we buy our cats’ food and litter when we came across a rainbow-striped cat harness with leash. Since for the first time we’re living in a house with a big fenced yard, we had started to talk about the possibility of trying each cat, one at a time, on the harness outside for a couple of minutes to see how they liked it. Both cats are avid watchers of what we call the Kitty Show (aka watching out the various windows and sliding glass doors and looking at all the wildlife that traipses through the yard) so we thought they might like to try some (brief, supervised) time outside.

Neither cat seemed to enjoy the experience overly much during the couple of initial outings, so we kind of forgot about it for a while. Then, January happened, and it was warm-ish and sunny and didn’t rain for nearly a month. We thought it might be fun to see if either of the cats was interested in outside time again. One day in mid-January, Dan put the harness on Loki and brought him outside the back door. Somehow, the cat managed to wriggle out of the harness, knock over several yard tools, run through a leaf pile, and hightail it back in the house, seemingly within the blink of an eye. All told, he was probably outside for about a minute and a half.

A few days later, Loki started scratching.

He scratched, and he bit himself, and he started pulling fur out of his back. He was acting like he had fleas, though I couldn’t see how he could possibly have them, since we’d been in the house for months with nary a sign of fleas anywhere. I checked him for flea poop and monitored Robin but I couldn’t find any sign other than Loki’s obvious discomfort. I found one flea in our bed early on, but neither Dan and I nor Robin seemed to be getting bitten at all. We realized that he must have picked up a flea during that 90 second jaunt outside (in January) (in barely 60 degree weather). We’d never had to worry about fleas at all in Denver, since there aren’t really fleas in Denver, and the cats were always indoor-only there. But squirrels and neighborhood cats run through our yard all the time, so I guess somehow there was a flea that managed to get on Loki during that minute and a half. Eventually, we decided that we’d just treat them both for fleas and be done with it, so we got some of that Advantage stuff and dosed both felines, washed the bedding and the rugs and vacuumed the carpets, thinking that would be the end of it.

It wasn’t the end of it. He kept scratching and digging. I didn’t see more flea poop on Loki, so I brought him in to the vet thinking maybe he had a flea allergy and he’d need a steroid shot to feel better. The vet found flea poop that hadn’t been there when I’d checked, gave him the shot, and told us to give him another dose of Advantage and flea powder the carpets in the house. So we did.

The shot, which wasn’t cheap (and neither was the vet visit) didn’t seem to give the cat any relief. He was starting to look all manky and bald on his back. We dutifully flea powdered all the carpets. Then one day I had gone into the bedroom to fold laundry on the bed, and I watched in horror as three adult fleas emerged from the fluffy, down-filled spread we had on the bed, the one thing that we hadn’t washed when we washed everything else because of the down filling. ARGH. It was disgusting, to watch the fleas come out to try and feed on me. I killed them all and immediately dragged all of our bedding outside and threw up in my mouth and then I threw the spread into the washing machine and washed it on hot. I’m sure the fluffiness will never be the same, but I’ll never be the same after seeing those fleas pop out from between the fibers of the fabric cover.

All of the bedding got washed again, and we vacuumed and flea-sprayed down our mattress and the bedroom rug again and the furniture in the living room. And Loki went after Robin.

We’ve had Robin now for over 14 months. During that time, we’ve had periods of time where the cats ignored each other or seemed to have interest in one another but generally left one another alone. We’ve also had times during which Loki goes after Robin ever chance he gets. Those times seem to coincide with stress, and I think the stress of having fleas for the first time in his life must have been more than his poor little walnut brain could handle, because since the flea problem started, Loki has been more vicious in his attacks. We’ve tried the things we’d learned second-hand from an animal behaviorist – praising him when she walks through the room and he doesn’t chase her; squirting him with a water bottle when he’s considering going after her; isolating him in a room when he does chase or attack her. Until the flea problem began, Loki seemed to be getting it through his head that his predatory behavior toward the other cat was unacceptable. But once that began, all bets were off.

The day we washed and vacuumed and sprayed everything again, it was sunny outside and I’d gone out to pull some weeds when I heard the telltale yowls and screams of a catfight. I ran back in the house to find that Loki had cornered Robin behind the bed in the spare room and was going at her singlemindedly. She managed to get away; he chased her. I had to throw a book at him to distract his attention enough to get him away from her and I shut him in the laundry room. She seemed rattled as usual but we didn’t notice anything amiss until the next day when she hissed and cried anytime she was picked up, and started obsessively licking a spot on her side. Of course, it was a Sunday, so no vets were open and we decided we’d watch it to see if it abscessed because we didn’t want to have to bring her in for another expensive trip to the vet if we could help it. We went online and ordered a plug-in Feliway diffuser to see if that would help with the aggression, thinking at the very least it couldn’t hurt.

Days passed, and her sore spot, a tooth puncture, didn’t seem to bother her anymore. But it developed a lump, so we knew she needed antibiotics. The vet scolded us for not bringing her in sooner, shaved the area, removed the scab, and flushed the abscess, telling us to keep an eye on it. That was on Thursday last week. By Sunday, the weird spot on her skin that we’d thought was just dark skin (she is, after all, a spotted/striped cat) opened up to be a large draining sore and of course, it being Sunday again, no vets were open. We called an emergency vet service in Santa Rosa asking for advice, and the lady told us to keep her from licking the spot using some sort of a cone collar. We put the cat in her carrier and drove her with us to Santa Rosa to keep her mind off the sore spot (instead, she protested the injustice of her confinement in the carrier and her transportation in the car) while we looked for a place that would sell us a cone. Instead, we found a donut-style inflatable collar at PetCo and when we got her home we put the thing on her.

She has never looked so pathetic.

Sunday night, after wobble-walking around and learning she couldn’t eat or drink out of her normal containers, Robin bravely emerged from her perch on the refrigerator to hang out with us on the couch. Loki was resting on the back of the couch behind us. When he saw her coming at him with that giant thing around her neck, he instantly attacked, and it was all we could do to get them apart as he chased her through the house. The poor thing couldn’t jump up to her normal safe places or protect or defend herself with that inflatable donut around her neck, and he managed to get a ton of fur off her.

He spent the night in the laundry room with his litter box and his food and water, while we cried and petted poor Robin in her donut and tried to figure out what to do next. We can’t let him keep attacking her (it’s not fair to her to have to always be afraid of being attacked) and we can’t stand the idea of giving up either of the cats (though honestly, we’re more likely to find a home for Robin if necessary; she’s sweet and loving toward people and she’s less than two years old. Loki is seven, great with people, obviously very aggressive and territorial toward other animals, and he’s already bitten a human once (me).) Sunday night was mostly sleepless, as pathetic donut Robin slept between us in the bed while I woke up every time she moved, afraid she’d be able to maneuver around the leaking donut (it had sprung a leak during the fight) and lick the open sore on her side.

Monday we brought her back in to the vet. They shaved more of the area, washed out the open sore, and gave us more antibiotics. And we talked to the vet about what we might do with Loki. He gave us a prescription for kitty antidepressants, saying that a couple of months on the pills might help change his brain chemistry so he’s less likely to see Robin as a threat or prey or something to be aggressive toward. And supposedly, they work best in conjunction with the Feliway diffuser. Meanwhile, during the time Robin’s open sore is healing and she’s wearing the donut collar, we’re going to keep them separated 24 hours a day like we always have when we’ve not been in the house. We’re trading off keeping her in the back of the house (with food/water/box and a bed and toys) while he’s in the main part of the house with us, and keeping him in the kitchen/laundry room (with food/water/box and a bed and tons of Kitty Show to watch) while she gets to have time with the humans. Maybe after she’s healed up and she’s had a full week on antibiotics, we can try heavily supervised time when both cats are in the same physical space. And by that time he’ll have been on the antidepressants for several days.

I don’t feel great about medicating Loki, not only because we’re messing with his brain chemistry (urgh) but because getting him to take a pill is not easy. And he has to take them every day. While he’s taking the antidepressants, we can’t be away for more than 24 hours because if we have a hard time pilling him, anybody he doesn’t know as well is going to have a BITCH of a time doing it. He bit me bad enough to give me nasty scars on my hand back in December during one of their fights, and I feel like approaching his mouth is just asking for trouble, but so far it’s gone OK as we’ve caught him sleeping and he’s not aware enough to put up that much of a protest. I’m hoping to find some pill pocket treats that might make things easier for giving him the daily pill, but that’s more money spent. And if giving him a pill every day for two months makes it so both cats can live in relative harmony without having to rehome one of them, it will be worth it.

A one sentence review, after viewing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Why did we need another Forrest Gump in which Brad Pitt reprised his character from Meet Joe Black?

Justifiable Homicide


One of the stipulations for getting to live in this big (mostly) empty house is that Dan and I agreed to help my mom out with some of the major projects that need to be accomplished to make the house sale- or rentable. Since we had no furniture, internet, or television for the first week+ we were here, we spent most of our time working on the first big project, which was to paint my sister’s old bedroom. Somehow, back in the early ’00s, my mom took leave of her senses and let my sister paint her bedroom red with black trim. The worst part is that the large built-in book case/desk units in the room were also black, which meant a lot of small fiddly painting, and because the room was mostly red and black, we knew that it wasn’t a matter of just a simple coat of paint.


We knew it was a big job, so we decided to consult an expert. A friend of mine worked for an independent paint store for many years, and knows more about paint and the paint business than anyone else I’ve ever met. I sent her an email describing the situation and asking for recommendations and advice, and she wrote me a novel in response that outlined all of our options and choices, with helpful commentary. The first thing we had to do when we got here was to check how many layers of paint were on the walls, since I knew there were at least three and maybe as many as 7 or 8, depending on how many times it had been painted since the last time it was stripped. (The house is pretty old, with at least 3 owners prior to my mom, so it was possible that we’d have lots and lots of old paint to deal with.) My friend had given me a plethora of options for paint stripping, so we were prepared to have the room closed off for many days while waiting for a stripper to do its job. When we did a bit of chipping away, however, we discovered some faux wood paneling on some of the walls covered with three layers of paint, so we knew stripping wouldn’t be necessary.

Giant ball of used tape!

The second thing we did was to go to the Ace Hardware in town, where my mom said was a list of all of the various paint colors she’d used in the house in the past 20-odd years she’s been here. We decided to use the same color on the walls in the bedroom as in the hallway and living room (“Powdery mist”, aka a light tan color) and all the trim in the same color (“linen”) as the trim in the whole rest of the house. My friend had told me that if we didn’t need to strip the paint, we would for sure need stain-blocking primer to help cover the black and red, and Ace was kind enough to tint it for us to match the color we’d eventually paint.

So once we’d bought the tape our friend recommended (“The green stuff is cheaper and if your project is going to last a week or less, don’t bother buying the blue stuff”) and taped everything off and put down plastic, we began by priming all the red walls and all the black trim. And then we started on the first black built-in. Only a few minutes into our project, it was clear that Laurel was going to have to die for her sins. Painting every surface of every cubbyhole in that built-in was absolute torture – we had to do it all by hand, sharing the same bucket of primer, Dan doing the above bits (and only getting a little bit on my head), me doing the below bits (and cursing at the tedium).

2 coats of primer on walls, one coat of primer on built-in

Trim primer’d, walls/built-ins painted

It was toward the end of the first coat of primer on the first built-in that we began to plot our revenge. And then we started on the second built-in, which has a desk and an underside that I had to lay on my back to reach, while primer dripped on my face, and the murderous fantasies began.

Walls painted, trim primer’d

We ended up doing two coats of primer on everything, to ensure we wouldn’t have to use a ton of (more expensive) paint, and then we did two coats of paint. So we painted each and every one of those built-ins over and over and over and by the last time, we had all kinds of elaborate torture situations dreamed up, and decided that my mom and the friend who helped her paint deserved horrible, horrible death as well. Finally, after working on it for several hours a day together, we finished the last touch-ups on the trim five days later.


*Dan wrote the above poem using the fridge poetry. It really says everything that needs to be said about the sucketry of the paint project.

So how is Petra?

Monkey asked a few days ago how Petra was (in response to my “things I am thankful for” post, I believe, where I wrote “healthy pets”).

The thanks I was giving was for Loki being healthy. Petra is still sick, and while we have been treating her for a serious e.coli infection, which it’s possible it’s all she has (and if that is the case, she’ll have cheated death 3 times!), it’s not likely. She’s rallied a bit and put some weight back on now that we’ve been giving her lots of wet food and kitty treats. The past few days it’s been cold, and Petra never acts like she feels very good when it’s cold outside. She’s always been kind of standoffish in the winter; we think the cold makes her stump hurt. So it is difficult to tell how much of it is that and how much is that she doesn’t feel good because she’s sick.

We have been continuing to give her subcutaneous fluids and antibiotics and a potassium goop shot into her mouth via large syringe (which she Does Not Like), and recently added a 1/4 tablet of Pepcid AC to help keep her stomach feeling OK so she doesn’t puke up as much water. There has still been some troubling behavior, and she finishes the current round of antibiotics on Wednesday, so that’s when she’ll be going back in to the vet for a recheck.

There is a test that will tell us definitively whether or not Petra has cancer. It is very, very expensive and invasive and is something we just aren’t willing to put her through. Because if she does have it, all we’d do is continue what we are doing. And if she doesn’t, she’ll get better.

The in-between is really frustrating, though. Our holiday travel plans (which we hoped would include going out to California for Wombat’s birthday and staying through Christmas) are still on hold until we know more for sure. Neither of us wants to leave a very sick kitty, even with offers of assistance that have come from more than one place. If she doesn’t have much longer, we want her to be in her own space and stressed as little as possible, not upset that her humans are gone or being in someone else’s space.

I’m desperately homesick right now; we haven’t been to California since May (the longest I’ve ever gone since moving here) and I miss my family and our friends in California fiercely. I am going to be so, so incredibly sad if we can’t go for Christmas. And I feel guilty that I’m thinking about that rather than thinking about what is best for Petra. But damn, it’s really hard for me right now. Good thoughts appreciated. And for any of you reading this who might reasonably expect a knitted gift from me this year, know that Petra seems to be infusing them with extra love and attention. The past two days she’s been curled up in my knitting and it may never look the same.

Petra: likes and dislikes

Things Petra likes:

Sunny spots
Warm spots
The water from a can of tuna
one particular brand/flavor of kitty treats
very small pieces of turkey bacon (sometimes)
being held
being held like a baby by Dan
throw rugs (for flopping upon)
being petted backwards
having her left ear scritched (she doesn’t have the left back leg, so she can’t scratch her left ear!)
licking plastic (mmmm, plastic)

sitting in unusually shaped containers
warm soft things, especially if they smell like Dan

playing in bags
playing in boxes
sitting on paper
string toys

snuggling with Loki
warm days
watching squirrels and birds on The Kitty Show (aka when the back door is open or when she climbs up in a window)

the blue chair
moths, mostly to meesh at, sometimes to hunt
reflections or flashlight or penlight on the wall

bathing Loki’s head for him
seeing what Dan is doing at the kitchen counter or sink (I hold her up for this)
sniffing flowers and greens
sniffing things in general
fresh water

drinking out of the glasses that the humans are using

the bird that lives at Dan’s parents’ house

Things Petra tolerates:
being held like a baby by me
dancing around the kitchen with me
being bossed around by Loki

Things Petra Does Not Like:
Taking pills
being jabbed with a needle every day
Flying Kitty
cold weather
being sat upon by Loki
when Loki bites her stump
when her stump has phantom limb pain
the cat carrier
riding in the car, especially on the highway
when there are no rugs to flop on
loud barking doggies
sitting on laps (she seriously Will Not Do This unless she is scared shitless)
sitting on most furniture
being on our bed