Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Remembering my Grandma on Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

Homeowner chaos has continued here at chez Cat. It's been a whirlwind of broken appliances, idiot repair men, clogged drains, and many, MANY trips to the "home improvement" store - which I'm sort of thinking is a bit of a misnomer, at least in my case... It's more like the "home just-trying-to-get-things-back-to-where-they-were-a-month-ago" store. Seriously folks, I've had issues and problems with, literally, every single major appliance in the past month.

To be fair, the fridge issues actually would qualify as improvements, since they stemmed from the plumbers adding a new water line behind it, so I can now use the icemaker for the first time ever. It's wonderful to have ice on demand, but I did have to install a filter on the line and order a few parts to make it all work.

And I suppose the dryer problems could also sorta be considered an upgrade. That too was fallout from the plumbers since they managed to punch a hole in the duct pipe - which had apparently been installed incorrectly - so I had to spend 3 days with my head stuck in a hole in the basement ceiling trying to get that sorted out. I now know more about dryer ducts than I ever wanted to.

And the washing machine and dishwasher are both intact - I just couldn't use them for a few weeks - first because there was no incoming water, and later because the drain pipe in the floor got clogged and they couldn't drain. Still not sure if the drain clogging is somehow related to the plumbers installing new pipes, but I sorta doubt it since they only replaced the incoming pipes not the outgoing ones.

And then there's the saga of the oven. The day after the water finally got turned back on I went to cook CatMan a nice birthday dinner. I filled the oven with a lasagna, some veggies to roast, and a pie - came back half an hour later to check on it, and it was all still cold. UG! I'll spare you the details of the idiot repair people, but suffice it to say, a new range will be arriving on Thursday - along with a new freezer to replace the one that died earlier this fall.

You know, It's not that you don't expect this sort of thing as a homeowner, you just don't expect it all to happen simultaneously! Clearly, I have offended the gods.

But hey, looking on the bright side. I now have new pipes and fixtures throughout the house, a new hot water heater, a better dryer duct, a functioning ice maker in the fridge, a clear drain pipe (with improved strainers and lint catchers on the way for every drain in the house,) a filter on the bathroom sink (did I mention the water from the new pipes tasted horrible, so I had to install filters everywhere?) and a new oven/range and freezer arriving the day after tomorrow.

Whew! I won't bore you with the story of the bank freezing my business account and impounding the money because I supposedly hadn't used it enough. But if anyone out there is still using Wells Fargo, I'd move your money if I was you.

Well ANYWAY, I'm heading over to my dad's house for Christmas dinner later today, and I really hate to arrive empty handed. Since there hasn't exactly been a lot of time for shopping this season I was sitting there yesterday wondering what I could do. Normally I'd bake something, but since I don't have a functioning oven...

Then suddenly it occurred to me that somewhere in the chaos that is my basement (things are still not quite put back together after all of the repair jobs down there) I still have my grandmother's pizzelle iron. It only took a small bit of digging and, voila!

The thing is probably over 75 years old by now, but amazingly enough it still works fine. Now, THERE's an appliance that was built to last!

If you're not familiar with pizzelle, it's a traditional Italian Christmas cookie, and my grandma used to make them every year. This is my favorite photo of her.

So I spent the evening last night making pizzelle and thinking about my grandmother. She was always a calming influence in my life, and honestly, with the way things have been going lately, I could use a bit of calming! Besides, I'm sure my dad will appreciate the reminder of his mother much more than he would some store bought basket of goodies.

So I guess every cloud does indeed have a silver lining.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Cat's Feeble First Attempt at a Video Blog

Hi Guys,

Well, after my last blog post waded into some fairly heavy territory, I thought perhaps it was time to lighten things up a bit, so this is something completely different!

I've actually gotten sucked into the world of YouTube recently, and I'm thinking that I might try my hand at it, but since I'm such a Luddite, it's gonna take me a while to sort out all of the technical stuff. And since I totally suck at learning things for the sake of learning them, and I seem to require little exercises to get myself to actually do things rather than just think about them, I decided that rather than leaping into one of my many ideas for a meaningful YouTube channel, I'd just experiment with it for a bit by doing a few video blog posts.

And you all get to be my guinea pigs... you lucky devils, you!

So, I made a little YouTube video describing all of the exciting things I've been up to recently. It sorta got cut off at the end... did I mention I don't have a clue what I'm doing? Well anyway, for your viewing pleasure:

Anyhoo... hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving that was (ahem) a bit more restful than mine was. Perhaps the universe just wanted to remind me that I ought to be grateful for hot water and indoor plumbing? Seriously, folks, I tried to boil water on the stove to take a bit of a bath, and after an hour of shuttling every pot in the house from the kitchen to the bathroom, I managed to get a whole 4 inches of water into the tub. OY! At least my crazy closet full of bottles of water came in handy with the water shut off for several days.

So that's the news from the funny farm! I hope my video at least serves as amusement!

Hugs to you all!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Missing the Point

Well folks, the elections are finally over and I have heaved an enormous sigh of relief knowing that the Democratic takeover of the house means that I, along with all of my self-employed friends will still be able to purchase health insurance for at least another two years.

Perhaps my anxiety over this issue is overblown, but having watched so many people being denied coverage, or being charged literally twice their monthly income for premiums, I honestly don't think so. The orange beast and his minions can still do plenty of damage, but at least that one little piece of the puzzle is safe for the moment.

Anyhow, with that knot in my stomach fairly well dissipated, my mind has been set free to wander a bit this morning. So as I was scrolling through my Google news feed, I noticed an interesting article about a house for sale in Colorado - one inspired by Henry David Thoreau's classic, Walden.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Then I clicked on the link. Good Lord! I'm pretty sure Thoreau is rolling over in his grave. Call me crazy, but somehow I don't think that a lavish $29 million 10,500 square foot luxury estate with 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms is exactly what he had in mind when he penned these words:

It just sorta makes you wonder doesn't it? How could someone who claimed to be inspired by Walden, create something which is its absolute antithesis? And even more to the point, how could the people writing articles about the place fail to notice this rather glaring point?

I dunno, perhaps it's just another example of the enormous hypocrisy and contradictions that seem to permeate our society these days. As horrifying as I have found the political divide in this country to be, one thing is sure, a lot of true colors have come to light. 

I found it interesting and sad that as last night's election results came in, there was no repudiation by the evangelical community of the politics of hate, in fact, it was quite the opposite. I've never been a Christian, so perhaps I'm missing something, but it seems to me that the current administration, in terms of both policy and personal behavior, represents the exact opposite of what I understood to be "Christian values."

I'm curious to know what those of you who are Christians think about that. Do you consider it hypocritical to see people who consider themselves to be morally superior lining up behind a racist demagogue who seems to be actively working to harm as many people as possible? Or is there just some completely different interpretation of morality at work here... one that I'm obviously missing.  

Anyhow, those are my thoughts on this November morning. Hope you're all enjoying autumn. Here's the view from a recent bike ride - and I'm thrilled to report that I'm back on my bike - more on that lengthy topic later...

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Earning my Crazy Cat Lady Status

Hi Guys,

Well, the past few weeks have been interesting and busy. I had my bike fitting/physical therapy appointment, and it was very interesting indeed. I'll write more about that saga later as it's still unfolding, but suffice it to say, my hip and knee problems turned out not to be hip and knee related after all. Turns out I have a lower back problem. Details in a future post...

But for the moment, I wanted to share with you my latest Crazy Cat Lady obsession....

It's the Kitty Cam! (For some reason that I don't understand, I had to click the play icon twice to get the video to play.)

Since there haven't been any more incidents with the (actual) crazy lady down the street, I decided to re-purpose one of my security cameras in order to better keep tabs on my little feral friend.

Try as I might, I was unable to get him to relocate from his original spot in the little un-insulated house that I initially put together for him under the rose bush next to my front porch.

I built a nice insulated house for him, and set it up on the covered back patio with a heating pad in it and everything, but I could never get him to use it. Turns out the back porch is right in the path of the neighborhood raccoons, so that might explain his reluctance to hang out there. Here's one of the little fellows truckin' it across the back yard.

I figured the raccoons were probably attracted by the bird and squirrel food that was all over the place, so I crafted a new system for feeding the squirrels and birds which keeps the food from getting spilled all over the ground. Basically I put the food in some litter boxes so they can get at it, but don't scatter it all over the place like they did with the bird and squirrel feeders. This means I can easily take the leftover food into the garage at night, and this has cut down on our raccoon visitors immensely.

But alas, my little feral friend still wouldn't go near the house on the back patio, and when the neighbor's cat (who is a bit of a pill) started showing interest in it, I decided it was probably best to just punt and focus instead on trying to make some improvements to the house that he does like.

The first thing I did was to put a big piece of plywood sticking out over the edge of the porch to make the area a bit more sheltered by giving the area a "roof." I secured it by setting three large heavy cinder blocks on the part that's on the porch so it can't cantilever over the edge.

Next, I stuffed some straw behind the house, and on the side that butts up against the concrete to insulate it from the cold. Then, I put a flat piece of wood on top of the house, and on top of that I put a square section of a bale of straw, with some Styrofoam and a few bricks on top of the straw to secure it. Finally, I piled up another section of straw on the exposed side of the house, and wrapped some bird netting around it, tucking it under the house to keep it in place.

He happily slept there during our first snow storm of the year, but I still worried that he was cold, so yesterday, with another storm on the way, I managed to get the heating pad from the house he wouldn't use to fit inside of this house.

I worried all last night because he got a little spooked by my disrupting his space and wouldn't actually go back in the house, sleeping in the straw in front of it instead. But then the snow started and voila!

I will sleep much better tonight knowing that he's warm and dry.

So that's the crazy cat lady report. Blogger seems to be having some sort of an issue displaying photos and videos, so I hope you can see my Kitty Cam videos! If not, I guess you'll just have to use your imagination.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

First World Problems...

Sometimes I feel like my life is one giant problem solving exercise. As I write this I feel guilty because I know full well that in the broad scheme of things, the sorts of problems I'm dealing with are just plain trivial compared to what the vast portion of humans on this planet have to contend with.

Nevertheless, whine I will...

Sooo… I've been having sleep issues recently. Mostly my back hurts. I fear that this is due to my beloved waterbed not providing adequate support.
I've been able to mitigate the problem somewhat by putting a flat pillow under my rear end at night, and even though it makes my back feel better, it's a bit awkward - especially when I need to roll over or change position. I think part of the issue is that little Smoky loves to cuddle with me at night, and since I'm a side sleeper, one of his favorite spots is right in front of my tummy, sort of in the crook that's formed between my legs and torso.
This is all good and well, but it adds a good 15 pounds to the portion of my body that's already (ahem) the heaviest bit, causing my rear end to sink further into the waterbed.

Anyhooo… I've been pondering trying a different sort of mattress, but honestly even those ship to your home foam mattresses aren't cheap, plus... they sound like they'd be pretty hot and sweaty to sleep on. My parents have an air mattress which they love, and this seemed like it might be a good alternative, so when I saw someone listing a $2400 sleep number bed on Freecycle, I jumped at the chance.

Since I didn't want to go through the hassle of draining the waterbed and all that just to run the experiment, I set the thing up in the basement and have been sleeping on it for the past week.

First thought: Holy Moly - somebody actually paid $2400 for this thing?!? Seriously, it's basically just a bunch of layers of foam with an air mattress (well, two air mattresses, one on each side) sandwiched between.

I think if one wanted to create a DIY sleep number bed, you could pretty much buy all of the components (air mattress, foam layers, bed frame, etc.) for a few hundred bucks. You wouldn't get the fancy remote control feature, or the "wrapper" to hold it all together and make it look like a normal mattress, but um... I'm not really sure that's worth a few thousand dollars, especially since I don't have a sleeping partner who might want a different firmness.

But more to the point, I haven't found the thing to be very comfortable. I've tried all different settings, and it basically feels either saggy and unsupportive making my back hurt, or hard as a rock causing shoulder pain. And the foam layers on top are uncomfortably hot, plus they mash down over the course of the night and are pretty much useless by morning.

Sooo…. back to the waterbed I go. I think I'm gonna try folding up a blanket under the sheets in the area where I need more support, and see if that little hack won't do the trick.

In the meantime... the weather has turned cool the past few days, so I decided I'd make soup. I have a habit of saving vegetable scraps, chicken bones and the like in the freezer until I'm ready to make soup, so I went to retrieve some soup makings and....

Well, let's just say this portion of the post should be titled "Death of a Freezer." Yup, I opened it up and everything was still cool, but definitely defrosted. At first I thought maybe the plug had just come loose, but no... the power light is on, and I even tested the outlet to be sure... it's just dead. UG.

So after a night of not sleeping well on the dreaded sleep number bed, I spent the day yesterday hauling defrosted meat and other stuff out to the garbage. Grrrr…. Honestly, a lot of what was in there is stuff that doesn't really need to be kept frozen - I was just trying to extend its shelf life by keeping it in there (flour, bread, cheese, spices, etc.) So it wasn't a total loss, but still... I haven't decided exactly what to do about it yet - it wasn't a very expensive freezer, I think I paid $200 for it 10 years ago. If I do replace it I'm thinking of going with an upright model, since I'm just not organized enough to keep stuff from getting buried in the bottom of the thing when it's just one big space.

Side note here... do NOT, under any circumstances, perform a Google image search on the phrase "death of a freezer" unless you want to see some really gruesome stuff. Apparently prepositions are lost on Google, so what you get is not (as I was hoping) some funny or ironic take on the Arthur Miller classic "Death of a Salesman." No, the images you will see are more like "death IN a freezer" - and that's as much of a description as I'm gonna give you!

OK... 'nuff said, just consider yourself warned...

ANYHOW, on top of all that, I've been having bike seat issues again... so bike rides have been more trauma than fun recently, and I really, REALLY need to deal with some homeowner stuff like getting some big dead branches trimmed out of my tree before winter, and some lingering plumbing issues, and... and... and... Gah!

So I've got a bike fitting scheduled with a physical therapist who specializes in working with cyclists, and I'm hoping that she can help me sort out the bike seat issues, and I'm getting some estimates on having the tree trimmed, and I've been researching pex vs. copper pipes...

Honestly, though, I can't help but think that all of the other stuff would feel less big if I could get the sleeping thing sorted out. So I think I'm gonna focus there first. Are there any other side sleepers out there? I'd love to hear what works for you.

But... whatever else may be going on, Jasper is doing much, MUCH better. The litter box is out of the living room, and his peeing is almost back to normal - so I really don't have anything to complain about.

So tell me, how do you keep things in perspective when you are beset by problems that you know are really not that big of a deal?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kitty Update and Thanks

Hi Guys,

OK, first of all I wanted to thank everybody for all of your kind comments on my last post. Sorry I didn't respond individually - I was a bit overwhelmed.

Long story short, Jasper managed to avoid surgery for his urinary blockage - but just by the skin of his little pee-pee. He ended up spending a total of about 10 days in the kitty hospital, and while he's not back to normal yet, he's been home for about three weeks, and is much improved. He's still sporting a crazy haircut from where they shaved him for IVs and blood draws, but he's getting back to his normal little self.

The whole process was somewhat nerve-wracking because his status just kept changing from hour to hour. It would look like he was getting better, then he'd take a turn for the worse. They had surgery scheduled three different times, but then each time about an hour before the surgery he'd manage to pass a bit of urine and they'd call it off again. It didn't help that he kept chewing his way out of both IVs and catheters despite the cone of shame, and each time they'd call me (usually at around 3 in the morning) for permission to re-insert whatever he'd pulled out. I can't help but think that all of those re-insertions of the catheter helped to add to the cycle of inflammation that's made it so hard for him to recover.

They ended up breaking that cycle by putting him on a whole slew of drugs - anti spasmodics, muscle relaxants, and pain killers. When they finally decided it was safe to send him home with careful monitoring, he was so doped up that he could hardly walk, and I seriously thought that I might lose him simply from all of the downers he was on. I was soooo thankful when he was finally off of all the drugs.

So we still have a litter box in the middle of the living room - which I'm not thrilled about.

But it does make it easier to monitor his peeing, plus it did prevent him from having any accidents on the rugs or furniture. Hopefully as he continues to improve, we'll be able to move it out of the living room and eventually get back to normal with all the litter boxes in the basement.

The other part of this little adventure that we've been dealing with is diet. The vets want him on a prescription diet. Now, I know there are mixed opinions out there on these sorts of diets - some folks say that since the prescription foods contain byproducts, it's better to just feed them an all wet food diet of premium canned and raw foods. But, since that's basically the diet he was on (except for a small amount of his brother's dry food which he'd eat if I let his bowl get empty) when all of this started, I'm following the vets' advice and going prescription. It took a while to find one that he would eat (Science Diet is blick, according to Jasper) but fortunately he likes the Royal Canin Urinary SO (but only the paté - the chunks are yucky.)

The more challenging aspect of feeding has actually been Jasper's brother Smoky. The vets said it would be fine for Smoky to eat the prescription food, but he won't go anywhere near the stuff. Have I mentioned that the Smokster is the pickiest eater on the planet? It's virtually impossible to get him to eat anything but dry food, and even there he's ridiculously picky. In fairness to the little guy, I think he has some dietary sensitivities, because when I offer him something new he usually eats it happily and then barfs it all up a few hours later.

Sooo… this is sort complicated, but Smoky's favorite brand, Evo, recently was discontinued and we'd been searching around for a replacement. The one he decided he'd eat was Blue Buffalo. That's all well and good EXCEPT that when the vets interviewed me about Jasper's diet they said they'd seen a huge incidence of urinary blockages in cats eating... you guessed it, Blue Buffalo! Oy!!!

So I had decided to take Smoky off of the Blue Buffalo since I didn't want to risk any more problems - and we'd found another brand that he would eat... which was working OK while Jasper was at the hospital. But as soon as Jasper came home, instead of being happy to see his brother, Smoky became utterly convinced that Jasper had been replaced with some evil zombified replica, and he refused to go anywhere near him.

And of course, I couldn't leave Smoky's food out because I couldn't risk Jasper eating any of it. So the little Smokster was decidedly unhappy about the situation, and he basically went on a 4 day hunger strike. Seriously, I could not get that boy to eat ANYTHING, even solid white albacore, which is his favorite treat. I was really starting to worry that I might have to haul him off to the vet too. So finally, in desperation, I tried (you guessed it) Blue Buffalo, and he happily started eating again. Whew.

But... the situation was still really difficult because Smoky is a nibbler, and every time he'd get hungry he'd have to cry for me to put food out, and then I'd have to stand there and watch him eat, and take the food up as soon as he was done... and this was like every 2-3 hours including throughout the night. Oy.

Then CatMan found a brilliant techno-solution. Believe it or not, there's a company called Sure Petcare that makes feeders for this exact situation. It's actually rather amazing, but they have this contraption that scans the cat's microchip, and will only open the bowl for approved pets. I really didn't think it would work, but amazingly it did!

Here's Smoky happily eating out of his feeder.

He still won't put his front paws on the little mat where they're supposed to go, but he doesn't seem to mind stretching a bit to get to his food. The thing wasn't cheap, but compared to the $8000 we just spent on Jasper's hospital stay, it was a bargain!

So.... my plan is to slowly start adding small amounts of a vet approved brand of dry food to Smoky's Blue Buffalo and see how he tolerates it. I'm really thankful that he's not the one that has to be on a prescription diet, because that would be almost impossible.

Anyhow, that's the news from the funny farm. Hope you're all happy and well, and enjoying the waning days of summer.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Well, this Sucks

Well folks, it turns out my little Jasper kitty's urinary problems (which I whined about in my last post) weren't an isolated incident after all. Somehow I had a hunch it was gonna turn out this way.

So a week ago I noticed that there were footprints in Jasper's litter box, but nothing left behind to show for the visit. I also noticed that Jasper was acting kind of anxious and restless, and licking his little pee-pee an awful lot. So I followed him downstairs the next time he went to the litter box, and when I saw him squatting there for over ten minutes without producing anything, I knew it was an emergency that couldn't wait.

So I scooped him up and off to the kitty ER we went. Turns out he had a urinary blockage. They catheterized him and he got to spend two nights in the kitty hospital. When he came home, they told me to expect that he'd have some irritation - but on day two, irritation turned in to inability to pee once again, so back to the ER we went.

Long story short, he's been in the kitty hospital ever since, and will most likely have to have surgery tomorrow.

At this point they don't think he has a physical obstruction, it's just that they can't seem to break the cycle of inflammation so that he can get the urine out. We were all set to do surgery today, and then the vet called and said that he had peed. Alas, it appears that it was sort of a one and done thing, because he's been straining and unable to produce urine ever since, so now we're on for surgery again.

It doesn't help that despite the cone of shame, he's managed to pull out both his catheter and IV twice. Today they set us up in a private room hoping that he'd relax enough to urinate more freely. The counter had a hole drilled in it with a trash can below it, and around the opening was some sort of a metal ring. Well, guess who stuck his little head in there looking for an escape route, and came out with the ring stuck around his neck.

Fortunately it came off easily, but he's been quite the little pill. At least his little spirit isn't broken.

I'm not entirely sure I can say the same for mine... or my bank account for that matter! We do have kitty insurance, but we blew past what it would cover on the first hospital stay. Thankfully, I do have money set aside for these sorts of things - so I'm really grateful to be able to make decisions based on what's best for him rather than on what I can afford. But holy kazoli! I feel badly for people who don't have the resources to care for a pet in this way, and are left with no other choice but euthanasia.

Anyhow, the surgery is called a perineal urethrostomy, or PU for short. Basically, they remove the penis and shorten the urethra, creating a much wider new opening through which he can urinate - sorta like a kitty sex change operation. It's not minor surgery, but there is over a 90% success rate, so I'm hopeful - "hopeful" being a relative term. I still have a knot in my stomach about the size of Cleveland.

So I'll keep you posted. If anybody's got any spare healing vibes they can send our way, we'd be grateful.

Heavy sighs all around...

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Revenge of the Flies? ...and Random bits of Insanity

Well folks, the past few weeks have been, ummm... interesting.

It all started a few weeks ago when, after a bike ride, CatMan noticed a bug bite that just looked a bit "off."

He didn't think much of it at first, but after a day or two when it didn't get better, he finally when to the doctor... whereupon they took one look at him and nearly admitted him to the hospital! Apparently that red streak is bad news - it means that there's an infection that is heading toward the nearest lymph node where it can quickly become systemic and lead to sepsis. After some bloodwork they determined that it hadn't yet spread, so he got to go home with some hefty antibiotics, and he's now doing much better.

Fast forward a week or so, and we went for another bike ride... after which I noticed a strange bug bite on my leg. It was only about the size of a pencil eraser, but it had an odd dent in the middle. After CatMan's experience, I decided to watch it closely, and by the next morning it looked like this.

By that evening it had swollen up more (the yellow is magic marker so I could judge if it was growing)

And by the time I went to the doctor a day or two later it had progressed to this vision of loveliness:

Holy Kazoli! So I'm on hefty antibiotics now too, and CatMan and I are left scratching our heads trying to figure out what the heck is going on!

I mean, up until this whole little adventure started to unfold, neither one of us had ever considered that something as trivial as a bug bite could get infected to the point where it would require anything more serious than some antibiotic ointment. Then suddenly within the span of a few weeks we both end up with serious infections from bug bites?!? It all strikes me as a very odd and disconcerting coincidence.

To make it all the more puzzling, neither one of us has any idea what bit or stung us. In both cases we didn't notice the bite or sting as it happened - only later. And in both cases it either went through our clothes or somehow got into our clothing. Yikes!

It sorta has us wondering if there's some strange new insect out there carrying an infections bacteria or maybe we've karmically offended some force in the insect world. I suppose we'll probably never know, but we're both just hoping to avoid any further encounters.

Anyhoo… to make matters stranger, I was walking my neighbor's dog for her when she was out of town a few weeks back, when suddenly this woman a few houses down came running out of the house and started screaming a pile of obscenities at me, accusing me of having an affair with her husband. She had a truly bizarre litany of accusations dating back at least TEN YEARS! WTF!?!?

It totally freaked me out, so I called the cops who said there's nothing I can do other than avoid her. So I called my neighbor (the one whose dog I was walking) and she promptly erupted into "Oh my God... she did the exact same thing to me!"

Good Gawd! I mean, I think this woman probably has serious psychiatric problems, but I really don't relish the idea of ending up on the receiving end of her psychosis. So I've installed a security system and rearranged all of my routes so I never go past that house anymore. So far the only things the cameras have picked up are the comings and goings of the neighborhood cats, and an occasional raccoon.

Oh, and speaking of cats, my sweet Jasper kitty got sick.

We think it was just a bladder infection, and he's much improved after a round of antibiotics... but both his bloodwork and an X-ray turned up some somewhat concerning things - like he may be in the early stages of kidney failure and his bladder seems very oddly shaped. At the moment we're just keeping an eye on him and we'll do further tests if he starts to show any more symptoms... but honestly, it just makes me sick to my stomach to contemplate having to get back into sick kitty land. Sigh.

And don't even get me started on the insanity unfolding on the nightly news. Lordy! It sorta feels like the whole world (nature included) has gone stark raving mad.

OK, perhaps that's venturing into hyperbole just a tad bit, but I do admit I haven't exactly felt either centered  or gounded lately.

In other news, my little feral friend is doing well.

He's a boy, BTW - and while he still has to hiss at me every time I bring him food, he lets me get within a few feet as long as I don't look directly at him and move very slowly.

But craziness aside, CatMan and I have been riding up a storm and having a great time, so I'll leave you with some slightly more positive photos from recent bike rides:

Hope you're all having a wonderful summer, and staying clear of biting insects, crazy neighbors, heat waves, fires, floods, and random infections!