Tuesday, December 30, 2008
She also wanted a cupcake maker, which is actually just a cupcake decorator. Her dad volunteered to buy her the cupcake maker so that left it to us to handle the cupcakes.
We discussed the price of refills for the Easy-Bake Oven, the amount of mess and clean-up required, and the ridiculous one-bite size of the darned things. I mentioned it was too bad there wasn't a way to use regular cake mix for it, and my brilliant daughter said, "Mom, she knows how to use the oven and the Easy-Bake cupcakes are hot when they are done so she won't be much more apt to burn herself with regular cupcakes. Why don't we just buy her muffin pans, cake mixes and frosting in the regular baking department." We ended up getting some of the cutest little specialty cupcake pans and liners as well as the cake mixes and icings with sprinkles.
Last night I heard someone on my front porch and a moment later in came Athena and Tess with a plate of cupcakes complete with icing and sprinkles. What a nice surprise. And how wonderful to share in Athena's first cupcakes. Yum!!!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Yesterday i decided to try a new technique. It was written as a bail for making pendants, but I could see applications for beyond bails for the wire wrapping technique they showed. I wanted to make a tree for hanging earrings. So i not only made one, even gave it a little nest complete with eggs.
Upon completing the bottom portion of the tree I discovered looking down at the top of it it looked sort of like a spider web (holding that idea for another day given the spider obsession my daughter has), but also really resembled a bird's nest quite a bit. With a little extra work it looked more like a nest, and a bit more work created some eggs to put in the nest. I love it. I hope you do too.
In case you wondered, the bail portion of the instructions was just for one of the leaves (legs), only doubled over and woven together at one end. I like this a lot, but will also give the pendant bail a shot soon.
I hope you like the face-lift I have given my blog. I figured it was time.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
I finally got up the energy to get back on the torch last night. Of course it all started at 11 pm. Nice time to begin when you have to get up at 7:15, huh?!! Needless to say since I started playing with fire at 11 pm I didn't get done until about 1 am. Which also means I didn't get to sleep until about 1:45 am. So I am pretty much running on 5 1/2 hours of sleep. First thing this morning I had to find the coffee pot before I could start my day. I also had to get dad up and ready for a pacemaker test at 8:30. He was in need of some extra personal care this am, too, so it was a busy morning. I am now at work, and sneaking this in. :D
Oh well, no sleep plus plenty of coffee almost equals human. At least I have some beads to show for it, and a couple of them I really like. Yea!!! A good session. I played with my EDP, since it arrived yesterday (or was it the day before, jeez, my days all run together). I also tried out the Southwest Striations Tutorial from Anne Ricketts again now that I had more of the colors in her list of suggested combos. I also practiced my stringer control in dot making and just a swirly line. And I tried out some of the 96 COE glass I got. It has to have a bit hotter flame and is stiffer than what I am used to working with. Interesting night, and I learned a lot and really had fun playing.
Here are my fabulous beads, I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed creating them. The green heart and spacer and the one with the line around it are the 96 COE glass, you can tell since it has some really odd texturing. But is was fun anyway.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The wheelchair and diaper bag and all the food and drinks for a small army had already been loaded up before I went to get her. We live about a half a block apart, but with her being a paraplegic it is far enough to need to drive there.
All the way to the antique shop / mall, she kept saying, "Grandma, we going you work?" And I would say, "Yes, Cassie, we are going to my work. The antique mall." She would say, "We not going to you house?" And I would reply, "Nope, Grandma has to go to work and you are going with me." It was kind of a monotonous conversation, but I don't think she really believed her mom when she told her she was going to work with me.
Once we arrived I got her wheelchair out and put her in it, we "walked" around to the front of the building and unlocked the front door. I told her we needed to turn on the lights and then go to the back door and bring in our things. She has been here many times before, just not with her wheelchair for so long a time. She led me to the back door and I loaded in all our things and put them in the kitchen.
I told her I thought there was a little table in the back that would fit her and her chair, and sure enough it was exactly the right size for her wheels to go between the legs of, and just high enough, too. She sat next to me at her "desk" and colored while I did the computer work I needed to do. She was so good, and funny, and entertaining. She charmed all the customers who came in, and played games with a young man who lives up the hill behind the shop. I think they both enjoyed the hide and seek, and oooh, the monster is chasing me games.
She was pretty timid about going very far in the shop when she first arrived, but by the end of the day was "running" to the back door and down the back aisle and over the "hill" (which is actually a big bump in the carpet, about 10 feet long). It made her chair go faster when she went over it, so she really enjoyed it.
She also wanted to visit my friend, Tammy, who works in the adjacent shop. And was really excited when she got to go over to see her. Friends came in to visit and she snuggled our friend Dora for a long time, and gave everyone hugs before they left.
She played with all the little hot wheels cars in our toy basket, and colored an entire coloring book with her new crayons. She had a lot of fun, kept me entertained all day, made me laugh a lot, and gave me a lot of love. In fact she had so much fun she was disappointed when we had to go home. I am sure she will be back and spend the day with me again some time.
I slept very well last night, I'm sure you know why.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Well, the switch to propane has proven two things to me. I need a ton more practice, and I don't realize how much time has gone by when I don't have a tank freezing up on me after about an hour. I guess that means I am torching longer, but still having some adjustments to make. I did make some beautiful silvered ivory stringer, though, with some silver foil a secret santa on my favorite site, Wet Canvas, sent me. What a nice surprise, especially when I had just been given a tutorial that called for silvered ivory stringer. Coincidence? I really doubt it. Just a nice surpise. Since I had never really understood what it meant to pull stringer I was glad the tutorial had a tiny bit of info on it about at least how to begin. Pulling stringer, for you non-glass folks, is taking a rod of glass which begins from 5-10 mm in size and heating and stretching it to be in the 1-3 mm range for using in detail work, or as dots or decoration on lampwork beads.
I made one bead based mostly on the tutorial I had been gifted, with a couple of color changes to suit the colors my daughter, Tess, likes. The bead I am talking about is the bottom one in the group shot, I am also including a solo photo of the back / front side of the bead. I love it, and the tutorial was a huge help. The rest of the beads were again experimental stuff using the silvered ivory stringer, or other techniques I have been working on. Not to bad for a newbie.
Hoping to get on the torch tomorrow night. I really think I am too tired to go back to it tonight. We shall see. The new annealing bubbles in the crockpot, on high, helped save my beads today, even the giant one. Yea!!!!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Here are the latest beads I made late last week. I love using purple, I just plain love purple. I guess that's where the name "Purple Grandma" came from. :D I used not only a purple glass, but also a purple frit mix to create them. If only I had made a few more I would have enough for a simple bracelet. I am definitely going to have to try that again. I love the way the color came out.
Friday night I went with my cousin Nick to dinner, seafood buffet, at the local casino (Chinook Winds) and to see "Three Dog Night." It was a fun night, and really brought back some musical memories for both of us. Even though he is 10 years older than I am, he remembers most of the stuff I listened to growing up since he has a brother just a year younger than I am. I think I got home around 10:30 pm, and then had to repack Tess's surgical site, and eventually went to bed. I was a little wound up and hoarse from the concert.
Saturday was pretty mellow. I relaxed in the morning (thank heaven) and Athena and I cleaned out my car. Sounds simple, right. Well NOT. It hadn't been cleaned out since last spring. AND it was the only car Tess and I shared for several months last year when her existing car had died and she had none or the Jeep she replaced her car with was in the shop. To understand exactly what that means, imagine a car where everything that needed to go to her house just kept piling up, and the layer of junk accumulated along with it. Add into that mix my friend thinking I had said I needed to take stuff to recycle, rather than her understanding I had asked her to put it in the recycle bin outside, and putting it into my back seat. It took Athena and I about an hour and a half, and filled not only my garbage can, but the recycle bin, which is even bigger, over half full. Then Tess, Athena and I went to do our Thanksgiving shopping. Whew!!! We will eat well, that is for sure.
Saturday night my friend Dan had emailed and asked if I would like to go with him and a couple of other folks for dinner and to the theatre in Newport to see a local production of "Oliver." I told him of course I would. He sprung for not only the theatre tickets, but the dinner as well. We ate at a fabulous oceanfront restaurant called, "Georgie's" and there ended up only being three of us. Dan had Ahi Tuna, served sushi-style (barely seared on each side), I had blackened scallops (YUM!!!), and Jeannie had a salad and steamer clams. Dan made us each try the Ahi Tuna, and amazingly enough it was delicious. I just had to pretend it was cooked and eat it anyway. I have never eaten, nor wanted to eat raw fish, but I was surprised to find it was very tasty. I would probably never order it myself unless I asked for it to be well done, but I am really glad I tried it.
Oliver was fun to see, and I was still humming the music the next day. Dan is a director in community theater and is always interesting to go to the theatre with. He has very strong opinions on direction, and acting, and well, every facet of every production he sees. Much as I adore him I go to the theater to escape, have fun, and just be a patron. He critiques everything. Not always easy to take for long periods of time, funny though if you can keep your sense of humor. One of the actors asked if he had enjoyed the show. He said, "I enjoyed the music." His idea of the only compliment he could give. He hates the director, disliked the way she directed, disliked the casting, disliked the way the people who were acting acted, and also disliked that way too many set pieces were used. Mainly he said there were just so many opportunities for things to have been better that were missed he was just very disappointed. He knew in advance it would be that way, though so he wasn't surprised. I think the rest of the audience had an enjoyable time. I know I really enjoyed it, and actually like several of the actors and the casting. He said Joann (his late wife and my best friend) would have given him 10 minutes to rant and said that's it. Made me giggle. I also giggled when he was talking to our friend who is a drummer in the orchestra. The drummer asked for his "notes." And Dan told him he didn't really want them all, but then proceeded to give them anyway. Very funny evening. Now you know why I was tired the past couple of days and didn't get anymore beads made, or even light my torch.
Sunday I relaxed as much as possible early on, caught up on some TV I had recorded, and got organized for Cassie to come to my house for the day. Then I drove Tess to work at noon, and took Cassie with me to "Granny's Attic," the antique mall I work at. She is so cute. She sat on the front counter while I talked to my bosses about things needing done, and she was a bit shy to begin with. I asked her if she would like to sit on the floor and she was happy to. Lori gave her some fruit flavored licorice, and she was interested in things in the various cases nearby. I asked her if she would like to crawl around, and she said, "I can go for a walk?" I told her sure, she could go wherever she wanted to. She said, "Come on Grandma, you follow me, I'm walking around." So I followed as she scooted along the back aisle, she looked down the center aisle and I told her she could go clear to the back door if she wanted. She got side-tracked in the "book nook" and was absolutely fascinated by the cook books. She is such a foodie. Dale asked her what she was cooking, she thought about it for a minute and said, "Fish." She doesn't even like fish. Too funny!!! She eventually let me read her a children's book, and then crawled toward the back area. Lori asked her what we were going to do when we went home. She said she no go home, she go Grandma. Lori asked what she was going to do at Grandma's, and Cassie said, take a baff, eat nunch, and cut bangs. Lori said she had cut her own bangs, and Cassie asked her to cut hers, too. So off they went to get the scissors and cut Cassie's bangs. They look great. Lori even thinned them a bit to fluff them up. She was a happy girl. Lori took her to pick out a teddy bear, and Dale let her choose what she wanted from our kids toy basket. She came home with crayons and a teddy bear, and was very happy. We played a lot while we were at my house. She didn't like "I Love Lucy" because it was in black and white, but was very good (as usual). At four we went back to pick up mommy from work, and went to the grocery store to buy dinner for a couple of nights. We both got frozen pizza for last night since it was on sale and it was what Cassie wanted. Tess is making her famous taco au gratin potatoes for both families tonight. So, BONUS, I don't have to cook!!!
Dad was so tired he ate pizza and wanted to go to bed at 6 pm. I did dishes and cleaned up a bit, then I fell asleep trying to watch some more recorded TV last night. Woke up to change Tess's dressing at 8 pm, finished watching the show I had slept through, and then started another show only to sleep through it, too. I finally gave up and went to bed at 12:30 pm when I woke up the last time. Guess those nights out really took their toll. It probably didn't help that I had hurt my back helping to lift dad after he fell on Friday. Tess and Eric each got under an arm but still weren't able to pick him up. He is fine, just a bit sore and always a bit pokey after he does this sort of thing. I am sure in a day or two he will be completely back to normal.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I haven't been on the torch enough this week, but have been having a bit of shoulder and neck pain so have been trying to take it easy. I think holding my hands in the air unsupported causes a bit of strain in the shoulders. I think my neck is from the high in the air monitor at work. I will have to stay off the computer and see if that helps. Not mine here at home, but the one at the antique mall. Oh well, need to work on jewelry making anyway. Have a lot to accomplish before the weekend following Thanksgiving. Big open house and my jewelry will be featured.
I ordered some glass and something called Japanese Annealing Bubbles last night. The bubbles are supposed to help my glass cool slower so I will lose less beads to cracking. Yea!! Can't wait for them to arrive. I also bought a BBQ tank of propane, which means essentially I will be able to torch for longer periods without the danged thing icing up like the little "cans" of MAPP gas do. The downside is I will have to take the tank in and out of the house for torching, going to need to figure out an easy way to transport it, like a little set of wheels or something with a handle. Don't want to hurt my back carrying it, also trying to figure out how to avoid transporting bugs in and out of the house along with it. Ought to be interesting. I also need some sort of mount for my torch now that I won't be clamping the MAPP can to the table with the torch attached. Have a couple of ideas, but will work more on that this weekend.
My latest beads featured a couple of experimental things that really didn't work out too well. The off mandrel stuff really needs to be done using a kiln. The rest of it worked out okay. I added a second photo a bit closer up of the best beads. You can click on the photos and get a bit closer view.
Part of why this post took me so long to get around to involved what I was doing last weekend. I went to the Oregon State Elks Soccer Shoot.
I got up in the middle of the night (6 am) and dragged along my oldest grandaughter, Athena, to watch my middle (hee-hee just typed that word with a “d” as the first letter) granddaughter, Wednesday, compete and win the state championship in her age division.
She scored higher than the boys in her age division and the one above hers, but could only compete against the girls in her division. She has a brand new soccer ball, a fancy T-shirt, and a first place plaque for her trophy wall. She is amazingly athletic!!! What a fun and exhausting time we had. Here is photo evidence.
Hoping to be back sooner next time.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I made one enormous kind of rectangular bead with neon green from ASK, and it was a giant fat rod which kept trying to crack on me. However once I kept it from shocking it melted right down and was pretty easy to shape. I flattened the sides then thought it would be fun to encase it in some clear green in the same shade. So of course I had to round it back up some and then square it off again. I added some of the flame kissed orange frit I had and voila you get the bead on the left. For the rest of the night I worked on some basic things I had been doing. A leaf green heart with the same frit, a couple of leaf green spacers, one with frit, one plain. Then I threw in a clear heart with frit, and then two clear drops. Playing with the clear glass is fun since it is so hard to tell if I have it hot enough or not. Until it starts to droop I really can't see the red hotness of it.
Enough jabber, here are the beads.
Tess is recovering from her surgery of last Tuesday. She had a pilonidal cyst removed from the tailbone area. She has had recurrent infection in this area for over 9 years now. The surgeon would have hospitalized her the day before surgery but there were no rooms available in our tiny little hospital. Fortunately he does 6-8 of these surgeries a year and felt it would be fine for her to be admitted just prior to the surgery. She was in agony for several weeks before surgery and will be in pain for some time to come. Hopefully the worst pain will be over within the next week or two. He told her she will still have a hole on Christmas, and possibly as long as until St. Patrick's Day. It will all depend on how quickly she heals.
During surgery she was of course unconscious and hospitalized for nearly 40 hours. She was only released then since I would do her packing and dressing changes. I have some medical experience since I have had some horrendous wounds myself. I have cared for others in nursing homes, and taken care of post-surgical patients, too. I care for dad and his urostomy needs, too. So the doc figured it would be just another day for me. NOT!!! I was not really prepared for how enormous the wound woud be. Imagine a golf ball sized chunk being removed with an opening about the size of a quarter showing, elongated somewhat, but about the mass of a quarter. I have to look inside the wound, and then fill it with roughly half a 4x4 square of damp gauze. Sounds fairly straight forward doesn't it. Not so much when you are hearing your daughter cry as you remove the old one, sterilize your hands, dampen the new one, and then pack it into the wound.
I have to "pack" her wound every morning and every night. It is a very painful thing for her to endure, but at least it should end the problem once and for all. There is still a bit of infection, but he said considering how infected it was when she came in it is no wonder. He says the wound is granulating just fine which means it is healing. He doesn't want her on an antibiotic since that could cause a resistant infection. Better left alone so long as it continues as it is. Who knew being the mom to a 29 year old would mean nursing duties??
Monday, November 10, 2008
Well, I thought I would try something completely different last night. Stick to one color, and try encasing a little more. I am getting a bit better at the stringer control, not the encasing so much as just figuring out how much heat it takes to melt.
Here are the beads from last night. I was planning on trying to get on the torch during the day and see if the daylight made a difference in what I made. Coming down with a cold blew that all to hell. Oh well, at least I did fire up the torch once I got dad off to bed.
I started out by making a giant cobalt blue tab, encasing that, melting it in, then squishing it, and turning it pretty rectangular. I felt like I was creating some sort of ice sculpture. The blue kept flashing through the clear as I rotated it. How fun that was to see. Then I made two little spacer beads cobalt base with clear coating . . . on the same mandrel. Maybe not such a smart move for someone who is just starting out, but it seemed to be okay. Of course when they had cooled I discovered there is a crack in one of them. The last thing i tried was a big disk with white dots around the edge. Of course by the time I got the white stringer out the bead had cooled so much it shocked and a chunk popped off when I flashed it into the flame to start reheating it. Naturally I tried to move it away from the edge of the table and burned my finger. Not badly, but it hurt for about a half hour even in ice water. No pain now, I think I killed the nerve or something. Oh well. The beads are pretty cool. The bad bead ended up off mandrel and interesting, of course it also ended up broken!!!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Well, after I finally got all the errands of the day out of the way and got dad off to bed I fired up the new tank of MAPP and made another 8 beads. That seems to be about the limit of me holding my hands up in the air. Only one cracked, and I knew when I made it that was likely. As I was winding on the glass it called out to me, “Make a shell, make a shell.” So I did, but I knew the lip would be thin and probably crack. It did, but oh well, I will superglue it and keep it anyway. It was really fun, even if it didn't end up looking exactly like a shell. I will give it another try probably need to at least get a crockpot or start socking away the bucks for a kiln.
If you want to help me get there faster I will gladly send you my Paypal address and you can contribute to the "Buy Rita a kiln fund." I will not only be eternally grateful, I will send you a heart in your choice of color.
Scroll down to see the beads from days three and four.
Nothing spectacular, but need to document what I am doing so I can look at the improvements over time. I really like the burnt blue bead from night 3, even if it is burnt. Night four I ran out of gas and the torch was too hot to change the tank.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
1. Once upon a time I was employed by a logging company as a landing chaser. I unhooked the chokers (cables that drag the logs up or down the hill) on the landing where the loader operator loaded them on the trucks. Of course all of this took place after I used my hatchet to remove small branches, and larger ones I removed with the chainsaw I toted around all day. Yikes, I was a burly girl. I was also 21 at the time.
2. I was the prep-cook/back-up cook at the world famous Pixie Kitchen during my late teens. I made the salad dressings, angel food cakes, thousands of squares of garlic bread, breaded fish, shrimp, etc., and cut up hundreds of chickens every week. All for a whopping $1.40 an hour. Jeez, I worked for peanuts. Of course it was 1969-70 at the time.
3. My first job was at a 19-cent hamburger stand, which also had bumper cars and go-carts. I eventually moved up to the go-cart track and sold tickets. I was all of 15 at the time.
4. I didn't finish high school, but got my GED before my class graduated. I finished what the tester said would take us two days in a little over two hours with the highest scores she had ever seen. No wonder it didn't really affect me to have no real diploma . . . when you are brilliant it just shines through.
5. I absolutely hate parsnips and rutabagas. I discovered accidentally that I like turnips. I figured if I hated the other two I would hate them too, but surprise I like them pretty well.
6. I grew up with a mom whose mother boiled everything to death, so had eaten very few "odd" things until I grew up. Among those things was anything ethnic (except Irish) except for the odd Chinese food dinner. My mom always insisted on American. I remember one birthday my folks told me I could choose any restaurant I wanted and I chose a Japanese place in downtown Portland. Much to my surprise the Japanese food was only served upstairs and the American downstairs. My dad told my mom if she wasn't adventurous enough to share our Japanese she could eat downstairs alone. She did, and i don't think she spoke to him for several hours afterward. He said it was my birthday and if I wanted Japanese he was going to see that I got it.
7. I was absolutely obsessed with the Beatles as a young girl, and a friend and I could sing all their music in harmony. I still love their music and think it some of the best stuff ever written.
I am going to put out this challenge to a few of you. Tell us what you think we don't know, or you think we need to know about you.
I will be adding two more as time allows.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
My friends on Wet Canvas had been encouraging me to attempt making my own lampwork beads. They gave me all sorts of hints, tips, and love. They even (Maggie) sent me some tools and glass. I told Maggie I was planning to fire up the torch I bought last year by the end of October. What with the making of Halloween costumes I wasn't sure I would be able to hit my self-imposed deadline. But, at 10:30 pm on Oct. 31, I put the fire to my hothead torch and began melting glass. I spent nearly two hours on the torch, and repeated the process last night. I love the heart beads, especially the ones from last night. The swirly bead in yellow transparent over a white base with the red frit is probably my favorite. It was really fun to make. Back sooner with more beads. The bottom photo is of the beads from my first night's glass melting. The second night I actually managed to make a round bead.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
This story began in April of 2007. I am posting it in my blog since I was asked by a friend whether my cats were indoor or outdoor. There is no short answer to that question, so here it is. I hope you enjoy my writing style. I couldn't help but laugh at it myself, so I hope you find it entertaining.
After much soul-searching, many nights of waking at 3 a.m. and not getting enough sleep, I made the decision to move in with my aging father. I did not come to this lightly, nor without thinking through all the ramifications of combining two households. This was no easy feat, and brought much anguish not only to myself, but my two nearly 10-year old indoor cats.
To give you a little background on my male cat, Baby, I have to start at the beginning. When we first met he was a mere 6 weeks old. He was brought to my home unwanted and, I believed, unloved. Needless to say, that didn’t last long. I am a sucker for helpless little furry things, feline or canine, especially furry, helpless little kittens.
My daughter, Tess, had promised a co-worker she would take a kitten when her cat gave birth. I told her I didn’t want a kitten, but she begged and begged and finally won. I agreed to take in a kitten. Make that ONE kitten with capital letters. Little did I know that was the last argument I would win for a while.
My daughter went to visit her father on the 4th of July and “rescued” a kitten from his unloving home. The poor little thing had tried to use the fireplace ashes for his litter box. Unfortunately the fire had just gone out, and the ashes were still smoldering. He had tiny little burned feet. I made room in my home and heart for a tiny tiger-striped lover named, aptly enough, Tiger. I believed he was the only kitten we would be adopting. Meanwhile Baby and his litter-mates were entering this world.
Baby was supposedly a girl kitten. Tess’s co-worker obviously had some difficulty with sexing kittens. (Boys look like a question mark and girls like an exclamation point. I have never forgotten those descriptions,. Take a look some time, it is true.) I had completely forgotten about the expected kittens by this point in time and had settled into a nice routine with one kitten and an older cat. Tess came into the house on August 15, 1997, in a big hurry and thrust a kitten at me. Her explanation was mostly incoherent and involved her having promised her co-worker, weeks ago, she would take this kitten. I asked her if she was out of her mind to which she replied, “Isn’t he cute?” He was so tiny, and she didn’t have time to take him back right then, so I asked what his name was and she mumbled something in Greek. (I later learned it was Ares.) I wasn’t quite sure I remembered her mumblings later on, so I started calling him “Baby,” due to his diminutive size. Okay, so I fell helplessly in love with him in about two minutes. He was a tiny white kitten with just a halo of orange around his tail and ears. He was part flame point or some other oriental mix, loud annoying Siamese voice and all.
The reason I didn’t want another cat, any other cat, was because I already had a cat, Prometheus, a large adorable, insatiably curious 14-month-old half-Tonkinese fur person. Prometheus was probably the smartest, most annoying cat I have ever known. He wanted to be everywhere you were, and involved in everything you did. He knew doorknobs were what opened doors and constantly tried to use them. He would happily grab the end of the toilet paper in his mouth and TP the hallway from the bathroom to the living room. Once he got his head stuck in a plastic grocery bag and panicked. He ran around and around the house fleeing from the flapping plastic bag. I finally captured him and removed the object of his terror. He immediately ran back to the bag, stuck his head through the hand-hold and started running again. Obviously he had turned terror into a game of his own device. He was the only cat I ever had who jumped from the floor to the top of my bedroom door to my stomach in a single motion. Oooof!
Prometheus had already taken Tiger under his wing and immediately became obsessed with Baby as well. Prometheus took his job of nurse-maid seriously. He literally nursed both kittens until they were nearly as large as he was. He thought he was their mother. He was a loving, friendly, outgoing cat who immediately attached himself to cat-lovers and cat-haters with equal abandon. Tiger and Baby, since Baby was his best friend and adopted litter-mate, were the exact opposite. They were afraid of everyone and everything, from visitors to hailstorms. Tiger was so afraid he would hide either under the bed or in the closet for hours following either of these occurrences. He was afraid of loud noises, kids, men, and just about everything.
I, at one time, had a roomer. She was loud, and walked like a herd of elephants. Tiger often hid in my bedroom, and rarely came out. One day, when the “kittens” were about two years old, the roomer found Tiger laying in the living room. She spoke to him, and he didn’t budge. She discovered he was dead. She later told me what had happened, and I feared she had done something to him, since she wasn’t especially fond of my cats. A short time after she told me about it, I was in the kitchen lighting a candle when I heard a funny noise. I turned my head toward the living room just in time to see the changer on the CD player going out and back in, and I saw Prometheus jump back, totter a couple of steps and fall over. He died shortly after, despite my attempts at CPR. I locked Baby in my art studio and made sure there was no way the CD player could ever kill again. It was a short in the electrical system. It gave a whole new meaning to the words, “Killer music.” My heart was broken, and so was Baby’s. He was more than a little psychotic after all this happened. He was afraid of virtually every loud noise, and every stranger who entered our world. He was however more attached to me than he had been.
I spent a lot of weekends with my best friends, Joann and Dan. They were the original owners of Prometheus, his siblings and their mother Dusty. Their hearts were heavy for me as they shared my grief. They had two cats, Tweety - named this because she looked like Sylvester, and Koala - Prometheus’s little sister from the next year’s litter. They encouraged me to take her home with me. She had always been more attached to me than to them, and Tweety made her life miserable. I told them it was too soon, but I would take her when I was ready.
A couple of months later I had surgery and was really depressed while I was convalescing. My roommate took it upon herself to go to Joann and Dan’s and pick up Koala. I was not thrilled she had taken it upon herself to do this, but I was as happy to see Koala as she was to see me. Fortunately we eliminated the annoying roommate shortly after.
We settled into a love hate relationship. Baby loved Koala and she hated him. After about a year she would stop hissing at him at least part of the time if he came near. After the end of the second year of their cohabitation she would occasionally allow him to be on my lap or the bed at the same time she was as long as he didn’t touch her. Now after seven and a half years together she puts up with him. Most of the time she doesn’t growl or hiss. Sometimes she even rubs her head on him, or lets him rub his on her. And occasionally she even plays with him.
Baby started to try to control my life when he was around three. He suddenly decided he was the alarm clock. He usually goes off about five minutes before the alarm is due to ring. He turns immediately into a snooze alarm, but with a much more annoying rate of return, and he refuses to turn off and let me go back to sleep. He had also started telling me when to go to bed. I paid attention to his annoying instructions for a while, but after a few months I decided to stay put in the living room until all hours of the night. I don’t think I really won, I think he just decided it wasn’t worth fighting over. Besides, if we went to bed later it was a lot more fun to chase Koala out of his favorite spot on the bed. She was a lot crankier when she had been asleep for a while. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he had a concept of days off and how much I would enjoy sleeping in once in a while. His annoying Siamese-type voice can be painful first thing in the morning.
My cats are not spoiled. They are just well-loved, and seriously pampered. They have their own kitty drinking fountain. Koala is obsessed with running water, so the fountain is the perfect solution. The water runs down a little slide in the front. It is filtered and has a reserve tank, which means they have plenty of fresh water for a day or two. They sleep on my bed, and now they have two slaves, my Dad and me.
In preparing to move here, I knew the toughest part would be moving the cats. We were only moving 12 miles, but it was a much larger move emotionally for all of us.
Dad moved into the smaller of his two bedrooms, and the cats and I were moving into the larger bedroom. In a bedroom roughly 11’x11’ larger is a term I use loosely. I was trying to prepare for the immediate necessities. I had purchased two cat carriers and had left them in the house for two days. The front of the carriers were open and I had placed an article of my clothing in each one, hoping for a friendly welcoming smell. Baby immediately went into his to “check it out.” Koala avoided both of them.
I spent the next couple of days figuring out what I needed to take with me right away. I still own my home, and plan to keep it in the family. I packed my clothes, jewelry, and laptop computer. The Mac and the rest of my stuff will have to come as I have time and room. I, a confessed packrat, have to eliminate a lot of my stuff. I plan to keep my art supplies, my pie bird collection, my Noah’s ark collection, and my favorite books. I have no idea what else I will bring besides photos, DVDs and CDs. I will probably have to get a storage unit to be able to sort through things and try to sell the stuff I won’t be keeping.
My ex-son-in-law, Brian, helped me get my “immediate needs” moved. This involved moving my dad into the smaller bedroom and into a hospital bed. We gave Dad’s mattress and box springs to my youngest granddaughter, Cassie, and rearranged the larger bedroom to give me the most usable space. I had to make room for my bed, a computer desk, and my drawing table. I wanted it to seem like more than a bedroom, and feel like I had a little of my own space. To accomplish all of this, I needed help. My daughter, Tess, moved the furniture around while Brian and Kori (Tess’s step-sister) and I loaded my bed and other things into Kori’s minivan. I also knew this was the time to pack up the cats, their drinking fountain, their cat food and litter box. After they had left with the bed and the rest of the stuff, it took me about half an hour to coax Baby out of the closet. I figured he would be the tough one to capture, so I talked to him in the bathroom with his crate. He walked right in and I quickly closed the door. I thought I had it made. Koala, the easy, friendly, affectionate cat would be a piece of cake. NOT!! I took Baby’s crate to the living room, probably not such a good idea. He immediately started meowing, and he never stopped. For nearly a week he didn’t stop. Koala, sensing there was something to be afraid of, tried to escape me. However, she is a sucker for petting and scratching. I grabbed her and started to cram her into her carrier. She became a bundle of legs. Straight out to the sides legs. Legs that refused to get through the door to the carrier. Then she scratched me and escaped. I tracked her down after chasing her around the kitchen for a few minutes. I then grabbed her front feet in one hand, and her back ones in the other. I flipped the crate on end, and unceremoniously dropped her into the crate head first, along with my arm. Somehow I accomplished this unscathed, and she joined in the caterwauling (now I know where they got that word). I toted the litter box and both crates to the car. I talked to them, rather loudly so they could hear me, all the way to my Dad’s house. Twelve miles is an awfully long distance when you have two cats screaming in discord.
Upon arriving I shut both cats in my room while we carried in the rest of the things I had brought. I put their litter box in the bathroom and when everyone had left I let them out. One at a time, I showed them the litter box, food and water. I had put the litter box in the bathroom, right next to my room. I put the food and a water bowl in my bedroom in case Baby was afraid to come out. Koala immediately started to wander around her new abode. She found my Dad entertaining and a gentleman. She figured out right away she now had two adoring humans to do her bidding.
Baby was a different story. He was terrified. He hid in my bedroom under the dresser for the first several hours. His terror was verbalized periodically in tones loud enough to wake the dead. When Dad went to bed at 9 p.m. I thought Baby would realize it was quiet, and he would feel free to explore. Wrong. He was still terrified. He came part way down the hall, and did a u-turn into the bathroom. He immediately opened the cabinet under the sink and disappeared into a plumbing access hole behind the shower. He never came to bed. I slept kind of restlessly from midnight until around 2 a.m. in spite of the meowing. Then it got worse. He carried on so much I gave up around 5 a.m. and got up. Me, who usually stays up until midnight and gets up around 8 a.m. By the time I had made coffee, I noticed the meowing had stopped. I thought, finally, he is going to settle down and adjust to his new home. I had the day off. I was so tired from all the meowing I fell asleep sitting in the living room. So did Dad. He said the cat didn’t bother him, but I can’t imagine he got much more sleep than I did. By the time I went to art class that night I was more than a little worried about him. I hadn’t seen him all day. I was really starting to worry. My friend asked if he could have gotten out some way. I was pretty sure there was no access to the outdoors.
Baby WAS outside!!! He did get out through the plumbing access. I lured him out from under the mobile home’s skirting at around midnight. I fumbled around in the dark, cut my hand, and I had to go back inside and find a flashlight. They should have named it a flash dark, it was so dim. But I did manage to find a little spot I could get a hand hold in, and finally managed to pry up a spot I could reach him through. And guess what? He started the whole thing over again as soon as I got him inside. Do you know any sure cure for an insane cat? I put a 31 pound bucket of kitty litter in front of the cabinet door. I figured I would go to Ace and buy hooks to latch the cabinets in the morning. Guess again. He meowed even worse all night. He meowed so loud I thought I would lose my mind. He also became interested in the washer and dryer. Sometime around 5:30 a.m. I gave up and got up once again. He was finally starting to explore his new home, but he was very vocal about it. He was looking under the kitchen sink for an escape route. Sometime during coffee making, and eating breakfast he managed to push aside the bucket of kitty litter and, once again, escaped.
I went immediately to Ace Hardware and bought hook and eye latches with little snap down things to prevent the large white pain in my butt from escaping. I took off for work, worrying about how I would lure him out this time. The only thing I could think of was albacore tuna. It worked. He loves the juice from albacore tuna, and I lured him out during the daytime. We were headed for the front door when the neighbor called to me. Between struggling with a squirming cat, fighting off the shredding claws, and desperately trying to keep him calm, I lost my grip. The only thing that stopped him from disappearing under the trailer was the albacore tuna which he stopped to eat. I once again grabbed him, and headed for the front door while informing him of the necessity of getting inside. He no longer had his access to the great outdoors. I might have latches on the bathroom cabinets, but he was still meowing. My next plan was to find something to calm him down. I got on the Internet and checked out herbal remedies, and “Googled” moving with cats.
I bought an $18 bottle of herbal calming drops at the pet store, and he went to sleep along with me. BUT, he started incessantly meowing at 4:15 a.m. I gave him another dose of his “medicine,” but it didn’t work, so I had to come up with some other solution. First I tried shutting him in the bathroom, the object of his obsession. Unfortunately, it is right next to the head of my bed so his volume was enough to kill me. I then tried shutting him in the coat closet in the living room and he was still so loud I couldn't sleep, even with earplugs. I finally gave up around 5:30 a.m. and got up. I was not functioning very well at this point. Exhaustion was really beginning to take its toll.
I wrote an email to my friends and asked the following: Do you know any way to silence an insane cat, or do I just need earplugs? I think I had had a total of about 11 hours sleep in the past 72 hours. Somehow that is not on a par with my usual 7-8 per night. Is sleep deprivation terminal? He is now obsessed with the dryer vent area.
He had discovered a new exit. The dryer vent hole, I didn’t even think he would fit in the hole. He shredded the vent and out he went. By now I had run out of new ways to fool him into coming out. The neighbor’s cats were circling around the spot I had pulled him out of, and I was seriously starting to think he might have to become an outdoor cat. Don’t ask me how, but I tricked him into coming out without tuna.
I then sequestered him in my bedroom for the next three nights.
While I was checking out the information on moving with cats I had read about a product called Feliway on the internet. "They" said it was practically foolproof, and a sure cure. After paying, gasp, $39.95 for it. I actually got 7 hours sleep. The next night however was a different story. He let me nap until about midnight, then slept until 4 a.m., at which time he turned into the alarm clock again and meowed a lot so I put back in the earplugs. By 6 a.m. I couldn't even doze through his meowing with the earplugs. My Dad had gotten up and had turned on the heat (about 75). Sooooo, I got up.
My former son-in-law, Brian, was going to repair the dryer vent on his day off. I really wanted to let Baby out of my bedroom, but I couldn't let him out until his escape route was blocked. I had bought one of the metal vent pipes and a big PVC flange, so Brian would have a choice of products to use. What the heck after the $40 Feliway I figured it was only money. At this point in time I just wanted the madness to end. Hopefully he would leave the dryer vent alone. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!! I never realized how important sleep was.
Amazingly enough, I got home to a quiet house. I let Baby out of the bedroom, and he immediately jumped behind the dryer. He pawed at stuff and meowed a lot. He then sounded like he was having difficulty getting back to the top of the dryer. I figured if he was stuck it was his own fault. Eventually he came to the living room to look for me. He pawed at the cabinets under the kitchen sink, and disappeared in there. Little did he know there was no way out.
He came to accept the cabinets in the bathroom were not available to him and left them alone (most of the time). He was finally only checking the dryer vent about once a day. I don’t know if he thought it would revert, or if he thought I might change my mind. He was captive and adjusting. Well, one of us was.
He now lets me sleep until about 6 or 7 a.m. I just might survive this move after all. Now I have to figure out how to get enough sleep in six to seven hours. Guess I will have to try going to bed earlier. I really hate the thought, but I guess I could learn to do it if I have to.
Two weeks into my captivity and I am afraid I may survive. I am devising an escape plan. Koala doesn’t think it will work, but I have to try it! Don’t tell the natives, they think they have me whipped into submission.
The next installment of this little tale finds us as we are now. Koala is an outdoor cat, due to her refusal to use the kitty litter box. Instead she has been known to use the corner in the hallway, or one of my shoes. So needless to say she is now a strictly outdoor model unless some unknowing idiot lets her in. Baby is an indoor / outdoor model. He spends most of the night in. From around 10 pm until about 6 am. He then insists on going out, and I enjoy sleeping enough to let him. He comes in and out all day, if I am at home it begins at around 11 am and continues in about 10-20 minute intervals until bedtime. I gave up, he won the great indoor / outdoor war. I enjoy sleeping enough to realize I just can't force the issue and survive. He is currently sitting in my comfy chair and gloating.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Last week was dad's latest doctor's appt., an ordeal as usual. It isn't that he is a problem, or that the doctor is a problem, just the logistics of getting the two together. We have a horrible old cobbled together wheelchair ramp. It is too steep for him to walk down, even on a good day, and so steep he has to go down it backwards or fall forward out of his chair. Tess came over to help get him out to her car, mine is too low to the ground for him to get in and out of. She nearly kills herself getting him down, and he can grab onto the rail and help slow the rush to the bottom. Getting into the car is tough since the old legs don't bend as well as they used to, and her seats are so high. They are leather, so it is hard to get him positioned in a way he is comfortable, but we eventually managed it. Then when we get to the doctor's office it is just him and me, and they won't help me, even to open the door. I use their wheelchair (read that as really crappy, but I can't lift his home chair). After the appt. is the really hard part. Getting him back in the house. By the time we get back home he is so tired he can barely manage to stand long enough to get his butt in the chair. So Tess comes over and we push/pull him up the ramp, and then struggle to get him over the raised area by the door. She pushes, I pull, and dad struggles with the door jambs. Eventually we manage it, and all three collapse in a heap inside.
The good part of the appt. was the clean bill of health, and the fact he doesn't have to go back for another three months. He gave us some new psoriasis medication, and says I am doing a great job following my instincts on his skin care. Whew!!! I told the doc the dermatologist wasn't helping at all and I was tired of trying to do what he said was right when there was no improvement. He said I was right. Trying a variety of other solutions made more sense than using something that did no good. Yea!!! The new meds are working better, and the non-prescription I started him on is helping too.
The print shop part of my work has traded ownership today. The antique mall part will trade on the 27th. I am in a weird sort of limbo, not knowing where or when I am working, but knowing as of the first of November I will be putting in more hours and being paid more for at least a quarter of my job (one of my jobs). I am also working on a line of jewelry for the shop, the new owner is fixing up a rotating Timex case which lights up and will hold a variety of my jewelry in a prominent position in the shop.
I am nearly ready to start using my lampworking torch, and making my own melted glass beads. I can't wait to begin!!! Of course I will need tons more glass and have months of practice ahead of me, but i am planning on getting going soon. The only serious thing missing from my arsenal is a kiln. The one I want costs about $800. Yikes!!!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Then of course we had another 4-1/2 hour drive home, but you know what? It was soooo worth it. We laughed, told stories from our misspent youths, and just plain had a great time together. How fun it was!!!
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