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One of the main tasks in this past weekend's website work session was to migrate the alpennia.com site to a new server. In order to avoid creating logistical nightmares, I won't be posting new material until my webmasters give me the all-clear that everything's propagated correctly and pointing to the right things. If I understand the process correctly, there won't ever be an interruption of being able to reach the site, but even if I were adding material to the correct, new version, people might not be able to see it yet until everything settles into place. So rather than draft things up on DW/LJ and then have to remember to port them over manually later, I'll save any substantive blogging until it's sorted out.

In the mean time...

Cats. There are new cats in my house. There are not pictures of the new cats yet, because the new cats are hiding under the furniture convinced that I'm going to do something to them more awful than taking away their previous (late) owner, invading their home with large numbers of people packing things into boxes, forcibly grabbing them and stuffing them into cages, and then driving them for an hour only to release them into a completely strange house.

I'm currently operating on the principle that they'll come out and explore when they get hungry or thirsty, most likely when I'm not around to be scary. They are ca 4 y.o. females, one black, one gray tabby (possibly sisters? I realize I never specifically asked). They arrived with names that will probably be changed as I get to know them a bit better.
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21 years is a very good run for a cat. For the last couple of years, Angel has been spending most of the time on her heating pad with regular excursions for food and foot-rubs. (I.e., she rubs; my feet.) But though she was clearly an old lady cat, she was in more or less stable health. This week, that changed. (Short version, probable digestive obstruction, but with other minor long-term issues including probably kidney misfunction.) After several days close observation, I decided it was time and took her on the one-way trip. It felt a little premature ... but then, with previous aged cats I know I've left it later than it should have been. I had a certain amount of self-pressure due to the upcoming holiday trip and not wanting to leave hard decisions to a cat-sitter. The folks at the vet's office were great. I came in all prepared to be defensive about my decision and the doctor said, "You know your cat. If you say it's time, it's time."

I spent the last hour sorting through items to be freecycled (canned food, unopened bag of dry food, unused litter, absorbent pads, recirculating water fountain after I sanitize it) and items to be trashed (box, opened food, grooming equipment, opened health supplies) and cleaning up the inhabited areas (including several stains, curtesy of this week's decline).

It's going to be a little strange not having a cat after 40 years of continuous cattedness but I'm not planning to get another one at the moment.

She was a good cat. She came to me with the name Angel and a reputation for an unfortunate fondness for small furry creatures (that were supposed to be fellow residents). In honor of that, I decided her secret true name was Melangell, after the Welsh saint whose fondness for small furry creatures was much more benign.
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It is now that Other Season -- you know, the one that isn't the Dry Season. Even without the deluge of rain yesterday (which I found extremely refreshing, despite the amount of running around outside I was doing) I would have known this because the Cat has informed me that it's time to pull out the electric heated bed. She informed me of this by taking a nap on top of the down comforter on my bed. This activity has been strictly forbidden ever since she's become rather lacksidaisical about tracking dirty cat litter out of the box. I will put up with a number of things from an elderly cat, but having urine-soaked cat litter tracked across my bed isn't one of them. *sigh* On the other hand, in general she's doing quite well for an elderly cat. Thinking on how my last burglary happened three years ago reminds me that when that one happened she was in the middle of an uneven recovery from a self-inflicted abscess on her neck and I was coming to grips with the possibility of losing her. Since then she's gone through a variety of psychological issues (esp. "The Floor Is EEEEEVVVILLLL!", "whaddaya mean I've been grooming this same spot for two hours straight?", and "cat box? what cat box? oh, I suppose it's somewhere around here"), gotten slower and creakier, and been subject to several restrictions on her allowed activities for the sake of my exasperation level. In return, I have instituted the Electric Cat Bed during the colder months and bought one of those armchair-side-desk-thingies so that she doesn't have to competed with the laptop for my lap in the evenings. We get by.
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What were the first clues? Well, the mouse droppings on the windowsill above the sink were pretty conclusive. (As a former lab animal colony worker, I know from mouse droppings.) And it also explained the little nibble-marks in two of the tomatoes in the fruit bowl (which I though had been handling damage to over-ripe spots). But the hole in my bag of bird seed and the scattered sunflower shells are pretty strong evidence as well. Oh, and the skittering sound behind the tool cabinet when I was packing the bird seed into a mouse-proof container was suspicious.

Clearly my cat is allowing her reputation to be besmirched.
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Yesterday evening, the cat informed me that it was winter now and she would greatly appreciate it if I would get out the electric heated cat bed, thank-you-very-much. I still haven't made the time to clean out and check over the heater before firing it up for the season. But the bedroom closet clean-out is completed. I gave up and installed the new shoe rack up against the back wall of the closet, even though that makes it harder to get at. Similarly, the hard-sided suitcase returned to live back behind the hanging clothes, even though it cramps the room. All that's left is to find good homes for a sack of assorted costume items that I'm getting rid of, a large multi-pocketed garment bag, and a large duffel bag (both of dark green nylon canvas).
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I have come to a compromise with my cat about the proper use of a lap when seated on a recliner chair. My theory is that it's for a laptop computer. She disagrees. So when I was perusing the Fry's insert on Friday and spotted an on-sale cantilevered computer tray I capitulated. The computer is now a little on the high side for comfort, but I no longer have to keep shoving the cat off my hands as I type.

I validated the altered pants pattern on a pair of shorts yesterday but haven't started cutting out the pants fabric yet. The living room is still a bit of a mess what with the sifting and sorting process. It has occurred to me that I could greatly reduce the volume of the fur stash by picking the items apart and discarding the coat-guts that I won't be using. That would free up a bin or two. And there are a couple of bundles of cut-out and semi-assembled medieval garments that never went forward because I decided I didn't like them for me, that could be passed on if completed. (Or maybe passed on semi-completed, but that's less likely.)

I did go out and see Becoming Jane, which I'd tried to see on Friday (but got off on the timing) and then had as a fallback on Saturday in case we didn't make the timing for Last Legion. It was a pleasant enough costume flick with excellent visuals, but unsatisfying in some ways. I guess I can understand that some people figure a brilliant, talented, and personable young woman who doesn't marry -- especially one who wrote so ably about affairs of the heart -- must have suffered some tragic heartbreak to turn her to a single path. (Stephanie Barron, in her "Jane Austen mysteries" has taken a similar tack, giving Jane a hopeless romance with a mysterious adventurer.) But I can't help taking it as an insult to all the women across time who simply decided they didn't need marriage to live a complete life.

I spent my lunch hour today talking to the bank about an equity line of credit -- partly with the painting job in mind but partly with the thought that it would be useful to have it set up in case ... well, in case. I'd only meant to drop by and make an appointment, but the person in charge of that topic was available so we got down to specifics. I think he was delighted to be dealing with someone who actually wanted to know all the details about how the process worked -- what the benefits were and where the pitfalls were -- although he didn't quite get the notion that I only wanted to spread out the cost a bit, not to artificially defer it. I'll be going in again tomorrow with a couple of supporting documents and I'll get a much more specific notion of the pluses and minuses of that option so I can compare it with my other option(s).
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How does a cat who is now entirely indoors and who has no contact with other cats and who has been completely flea-free for over a year suddenly acquire fleas? Eggs don't lie dormant that long. Well, ok, "entirely indoors" except for being allowed out on the deck on occasion. I suppose....

I managed to get rid of several pieces of excess furniture through freecycle this week and am contemplating finishing out the evening by disassembling one or both of the old couches enough to get it/them out the back door. I've been stalled on the list of house projects for the last month or so due to other busy-ness and it's time to get back working on things. Of course, getting the couches out means I'll need to schedule the Big Trash Day.

Oddments

Jun. 24th, 2007 11:03 am
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The squirrel follies seem to be in ratings week this morning. To visualize this properly, you have to know that my deck (off the 2nd floor kitchen) has a railing about waist high with posts that rise to about head-height (the builder was planning to trim them to just above the railing but I said to leave them in case I wanted to use them as an anchor for something else at some point ... but I digress) with a variety of trees snugging up next to the railing on the other side. So I'm sitting having breakfast right next to one of the posts when there comes a violent rustling in one of the trees at the other end of the deck and suddenly a squirrel pops out onto the deck floor. Just about nose-to-nose with a very interested cat. The squirrel does one of those teleportation things up onto the deck railing and runs like mad ... straight at me. Says me to squirrel, "Did you really want to do that?" Squirrel teleports to top of post and we have a brief and amicable stare-off. Squirrel then does a backflip into the apple tree and scampers off. Cat stares longingly.

Another squirrel (or maybe the same one) is currently sitting in the birch tree, just in tantalizing distance from the cat, nibbling on seed-thingies. Another is checking the ripeness of the green almonds in one of the almond trees. I haven't quite figured out whether the squirrels actually find unripe almonds nutritious or whether they just nibble at them reflexively all through the season out of habit.

I day-tripped to Crown Tourney yesterday and did the butterfly thing -- if I take a chair, then I'm much too inclined to plunk it down and stay in one place, and one of the benefits of daytripping is doing a lot of circulating and talking to different people. That I did in abundance. Saw the brothers and all the usual suspects. In addition to general schmoozing, I offered the leftover games booklets from the Games Tourney to the Princess, since she's very interested in promoting games in general and she was delighted to take them off my hands to pass out. I've been drooling over [livejournal.com profile] acanthusleaf's jewelry for quite a while, but nothing had ever quite grabbed me by the throat, although I was quite enamored of the little "hat jewels" she makes and had talked a bit about maybe getting something in that line. Well, I've also mentioned to her in the past that I'm quite fond of emeralds (#1 they're green; #2 they're my birthstone) -- not necessarily the top-quality ones, but I quite like the low-grade ones as well. And she has kept pointing out that they're enough more expensive than the usual run of stones she uses (e.g., in the garnet range of prices) that they're hard to sell. Well, this time she pulls out a little box with four small round emeralds -- just perfect for the corners of a hat-jewel -- and they grabbed me by the throat. So it'll have a square garnet in the center and a pearl drop. Now I need to think about what sort of 12th night dress would go well with it.

In the end, I decided to bug out before evening court, since it was shaping up to be long and late as usual and the peerages that I knew and cared about had been taken care of earlier in the day. So I even got home before dark and got a rather good nights sleep ... interruped only somewhat by vivid dreams of hordes of cockroaches in my house. Not sure what that's a metaphor for.
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Just saying: I am occasionally reminded that the primary function of cats is to be a hair-generating factory. I have, however, discovered a very efficient new tool -- a rubber-toothed "curry brush". It sheds out the guard hairs very efficiently and cleans up easily without clogging up with hair too much.

A question for LJ paid users: I've been trying to figure out if there's a way to search for multiple interests with boolean-type expressions. I can't find any way using my current account (free), but I don't know whether there might be other functions that are only visible if you have a paid account. (Although one might think if they were a selling point, they'd be included in the FAQ on features of different account levels.) This isn't anything to do with the recent account-deletion kerfluffle, just a question that's been nagging me for some time.
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One of the many delightful side benefits of it being warm enough to have weekend brunch on the deck is that it comes with a show: The Squirrel Follies. Since the deck is on the second story, I get a tree's-eye view of some amazing games of tag. (And, occasionally, some slightly more x-rated bits of the show.) The cat is equally enthusiastic about The Squirrel Follies. (Much more so than she is about Late Night with Jay Raccoon or the Possum Letterman Show, which we sometimes watch through the living room door.)
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The cat is once again going through skin issues -- "hot spots" which she licks and bites neurotically until they go into bald patches. This time I'm trying a topical remedy that's supposed to combine soothing qualities with an unpleasant taste. It certainly smells strongly, although I'm not sure this is an advantage, since it won't discourage licking and biting if it overwhelms her nose just from the fumes. I had a dream last night in which I acquired two new kittens -- one a sort of sandy puma-color and the other an orange tiger. I have reassured the cat that I intend no such thing in waking life.

iTunes and the less furry software )
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There seems to be some axiom that the best way to get something done is to add it to an already busy schedule. No word back from the lawyer about his bill. I haven't had a moment free to check back with the credit union about whether they've successfully retrieved my money from the CD. There is a temporary truce with the cat: she gets confined to the bathroom when not directly supervised. Having line-of-sight to the cat box, she seems to manage to remember to use it about 80% of the time. (And if I tuck a "puppy training pad" under the front of the box, I'm hoping it will save on some of the "not quite all the way" clean-up.) I was feeling guilty about restricting her movements, but since she was already restricting her own movements to the kitchen counter, it isn't that much change. And she's back to eating heartily now that the food is up off of the evil vicious floor. We went to the vet today after work for a regular check-up and he concurred that there didn't seem to be anything in particular wrong with her except the behavioral stuff.

So Thursday was the vet appointment. Wednesday was banner painting for their incoming highnesses. Tuesday was teaching medieval handsewing techniques for Province of the Mists A&S night. Wednesday lunch hour I met with the roofer to take measurements and specifications and he got me a job description and price quote by e-mail Wednesday evening which I had a chance to review and accept on my lunch hour today. I've come up with a list of flooring companies to check out (storefront, not random individuals, since I haven't succeeded in getting any personal recommendations) but I'm not sure when I'll get to the next step. Saturday is Mists Investiture and Sunday is Halima's memorial service, which pretty much fills up the weekend. And I have to start putting together a presentation for the performing arts symposium next Saturday (something on playing the harp for medieval/renaissance dancing).

I knew May was going to be heavily scheduled -- and I should have known that a heavy schedule attracts yet more commitments.

Tired

May. 15th, 2006 11:22 pm
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As if to thumb her ... um ... paw, at my last post, the cat has been energetic this evening and has ventured away from her kitchen counter perch to make some valiant attempts at lying on the laptop. Then she hopped over to the sewing table and peed all over some mending. I can't take this much longer. I'm getting really tired of mopping up cat urine three times a day. Have I mentioned that the kitchen counter is grouted tile? Have you tried mopping up cat urine from grouted tile? That you plan to prepare food on? (We will leave, for the moment, my opinion of an interior designer who would make a kitchen counter out of grouted tile. These aren't your nice big 4x4" tiles with little tiny strips of grout. No, these are 2.5x2.5" tiles with big wide strips of decorative grout ... that have gradually been eroding over the years.)

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours composing a strongly but diplomatically worded letter to the lawyer who handled the partnership dissolution. I pointed out that his billing statements had a different (higher) hourly rate than the signed contract, hence I was sending him a check for the correct, lower amount. And I questioned the plausibility of him having spent almost twice as much time on my case after the completed documents had been handed over to me than he had spent in researching and preparing those documents in the first place. I then went on to request further explanation of a number of line items on the statement: phone calls on days when my phone log shows no calls, time spent reviewing a memo regarding someone whose name I don't recognize (and this was after he had completed all my paperwork), time spent consulting with his associate (after all the paperwork was complete) when all of the work was being billed at the primary attorney's rate rather than the associate attorney's rate. Things like that. The kicker was the phone call when he asked me, "What was it I'm doing for you again? And could you fax me a copy of the contract -- I can't seem to find my copy." He billed me for that call. I figure that at some later point in the process I'll be sending copies of the correspondence to both the agency who referred me to him and to the bar association.

And then this morning when I was getting cash from the ATM I noticed that my checking account balance was $5000 less than it should have been. Turns out that instead of making a single transfer of $5000 into a CD as requested, they did it twice. (That was what I suspected when I saw the amount of the discrepancy.) So they're working on sorting it out. I'm going to want to spend that money before the 6 month term is up -- got redecorating to do.

Tired. Definitely tired.
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At some point in the next few hours SK will show up to help me try to make the Surviving Garments interface behave the way it's supposed to. In the mean time I've started putting together a work-around that isn't as powerful (or nearly as elegant under the skin) as the envisioned goal, but that will work for the immediate purposes. And, after all, this is going to be an evolving project, so it doesn't matter if it "isn't right yet" ... right?

And at some point today, possibly before SK shows up (if the bathroom becomes available in time) I'm going to shampoo the cat. Yes. Shampoo the cat. The flea collar isn't working well enough and she's being driven crazy. On top of which she's getting patchy fur, possibly as a reaction to the fleas, but I think more likely that she's just grooming neurotically and wearing her skin raw. (It doesn't help that, with the warm weather, she's decided to shed massively all in a lump. I've bumped the hairball medicine up to daily.) In any case, I have to do something for the poor dear, and for all the trauma, I've found that flea shampoo is quite efficient at the task.

The cat has lately taken to living on top of the scanner/printer which, with all the shedding, is not doing my hardware any favors. It's funny how she gets fixated on hanging out in one particular spot for a week, and then the next week it's a different particular spot. I shall have to post my theories of cat-ionic reactions that explain this sort of behavior.
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Unresolution: In 2006 I will endeavor to spend at least as much on my own dental work as on my cat's. Unfortunately, she has a significant head start. The broken tooth (right upper canine) did have to be extracted. *ouch* It's always hard to tell how much a cat is in pain. The pain-killer the vet gave me says, "twice a day, or three times if the pain is severe." Ok, Angel, meow twice if it's at least an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. But since the main thing she was peeved about last night after coming home was not being allowed to eat anything, I figure the drugs were working nicely.

In the mean time, I got the "feline hobbles" treatment in the kitchen yesterday evening while making mini plum puddings for 12th night gifts. I ended up with a rather improvised recipe since I didn't have enough currants and dates to stick to the original recipe. It came out something like this:

Ad Hoc Plum Pudding (based on a 16th c. recipe)

Cream 1 c. butter with about 2 c. brown sugar
Beat in 8 eggs
Add lots of ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and somewhat less of cloves
Stir in all the currants and chopped dates available. Then proceed to add other available chopped dried fruits and chopped nuts until it looks like enough.
Take from the freezer a couple of the leftover loaves of bread from the collegium dinner. Trim off the crusts and process into crumbs in the Cuisinart.
Into the above mixture, stir in bread crumbs until it looks about right -- about 8 cups.
Cut cheesecloth into double-layer squares about 4" square. Place 1/4 cup pudding in the middle of each square, gather the edges into a little "purse" and wrap and tie with carpet thread.
Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Add 8 puddings at a time and boil for about 12 minutes. Drain, trim the cheesecloth to leave about a quarter inch above the gathered tie. (This means people will be able to unwrap the pudding without needing scissors.)
Makes slightly over three dozen.
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It's being a disorganized week at work. Half the staff seems to be on vacation (including my boss) and they're doing disruptive things like updating computer operating systems, resulting in entire days when I'm calling tech support every hour describing yet another program that isn't running correctly now. (To say nothing of reconstructing my desktop and all my shortcuts.) Fortunately, a lot of the plate-clearing I did before vacation is still in effect so I'm almost a step ahead of the game at the moment. (Then one of my co-workers is going off on parental leave and I'm going to inherit his hairiest investigation.)

House stuff: I'm sending off two packets of mortgage documents today. The actual loan offer arrived while I was away (and then had an alleged "return by" date that was also while I was away, which I presume won't screw anything up). I've marked it up for the lower amount and sent it off, but my rep says they'll write out a new one with the new amount just so it's all neat and tidy. The other next step is getting the title issues sorted out, for which I'm waiting to consult with my title company rep.

The cat is having some annoyance from a chipped tooth which means more vet appointments. I'll see how much pushback I have to give them this time to get only the one tooth taken care of and not buy the entire Feline Dentistry Program that they tried to guilt me into last visit. I'm also starting to think she has some sort of dermatitis reaction to the once-a-month flea treatment I've been using. Since I've used up the current package (and since she's all indoor now) I may just go back to shampoo as needed. Oh joy ... wet soapy cat.

The Big M

Dec. 2nd, 2005 09:48 pm
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Today, after much getting my act together and making sure all necessary data was available, I took the first concrete step towards taking on a mortgage. Family members know the whole backstory, but for the rest of you ... Read more... )

Horrible dream last night about bad things happening to my cat, all connected with the wound she had back a month ago. Fortunately it was one of those dreams where the inherent logical problems made me realize it was all a dream and I could just let it go.

The weather remains coldish, but it looks like it may not rain for the jaunt to SF tomorrow.

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