Nico Needs You

Hot and Sweaty Greetings!

We have been without power for the last 21 hours, and may not have electricity until tomorrow night.  Am having internet withdrawals, and am going crazy not being able to access our little Cat Liver Shunt support group. (This is what happens when you have it on 24/7 – you forget your password!)

Made it to the library where they have air conditioning – woohoo, and doing a fast email grab to check and see what’s going on with the shunt babies.  Newt is fine, lounging in the cooler areas of the house.  We have iced his chicken and his ricotta in the fridge, so he’s good to go.

However, one of his new friends, Nico in the Netherlands, is in crisis.  Nico is newly diagnosed, and from the email, it sounds as if he is in a severe hepatic encephalitis episode, and the vets are having difficulty bringing him out of it.

So, dear students, colleagues, fellow shunt cat owners, friends and loved ones, please send your vibes, healing energies, Reiki, prayers, whatever you care to share to little Nico. Your support has helped several other liver shunt cats, so am humbly asking for your Love and Hope to help Nico.

Will post again, once the power comes back on, or I can rig up a hamster wheel and generate some power.

The “Tour de Fits” Continues

Newt has had a couple of half-drooly, half-normal days.  Today he has been in fine form with his spotted belly self – sleeping peacefully, foraging for leftovers, and then, eating barely half of his snackies. The last several days he’s been refusing to eat his veggies, so we’ve been back on the chicken / cheese routine, with a bit of cream he thoroughly enjoyed today. Hope that tomorrow’s fresh dose of Cheap Chicken Friday will entice his appetite back to normal.  Or perhaps I shouldn’t fret about his “diet,” as his vet did indicate that Sir Chubbs was getting rather hefty.

Work on the next project for Major Corporation has been delayed.  Again.  Taking advantage of the downtime this week to continue with other client projects, juggle in teaching a Reiki for Animals class, and force myself to try to learn how to operate the spindle. 

I mean, come on, if I can wield a skil saw and various other power tools (vroom, vroom!) surely I can handle rotating a small piece of wood to turn fluff into string. Right? Uhm … riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Part of my decision to participate in the “Tour de Fleece” (TdF) was to challenge myself.  The premise of the TdF is to spin yarn every day that the Tour de France cycles. Today we were challenged to spin something difficult, as the cyclists face the Tour’s toughest mountain stage.

My mountain?

I attempted spindling.  In public.  Invited by an expert local spinner to bring my wheel, plus “any other fiber or projects” for “show and tell” and seated NEXT TO yet another real spinner, who was pounding rapidly and effortlessly on a cute little hitchhiker. (Note to non-spinners, she was not engaged in any wrestling ring maneuvers with freaky thumbed-out dudes. “Hitchhiker” in this case refers to an adorable little lightweight, easy to transport bit of portable spinning machinery.)

Knowing how frustrated and embarrassed I’ve been with my furtive fondling of fiber, spinning alone, behind closed curtains, or under cover of darkness at the dog park, you may understand how attempting to spin, in public, in front of real spinners, no less, may have been a wee bit of a challenge for me. A veritable mountain out of mohair, if you will.

(::giggle:: Mountains out of mohairs – sorry, had to see that again!)

I didn’t “tell” much, but I certainly “showed’ how not to spindle. I flaunted my novicity. (is that a word?) Made no attempt to try to and hide the mess – err, faux yarn – under the table.  Arms flying side-to-side while attempting the long draw and control the frenzied hyper-twist without scrunching of face.  Ubiquitious swearing was limited to non-verbal expressions – merely a few grimaces and grunts. Had roving slung from shoulder to shoulder in a festive garland of spinning celebration, and luscious pooflets were flying in my wake.

I managed a whole three feet!!! Roughly an inch a minute! At this rate, I’ll have completed one spindle of yarn sometime within the next 30 years!

Fortunately the real spinner was too engrossed in her smooth flying finish to even notice the pesky novice peering rudely over her shoulder, trying to figure out just HOW in the nine hells she made it look so .. so .. so easy!  Did not drool on any of the real spinners’ yarn, or accidentally kick any of the other spinning wheels in residence. No real spinners or knitters were whacked with the wayward flying spindle.

And no one pointed and laughed! Well, I think I did hear some stifled laughter when I gasped in astonishment and blurted out that the last couple of inches actually looked like something resembling YARN!

Woohoo, yay, me!

Additional difficulty – carting the wheel up and down stairs, across a hot parking lot to knitting meeting, then back again. No luck with the first possible modern, temporary replacement part needed, but many words of admiration on Virginia’s elegance and beauty.

Not to mention a delightful discussion of how one spotted runty little tabby cat has continued to enrich my life with  new and interesting paths and people.  And poofs. Soon to resemble something akin to yarn.

Rat Tails and Weasels

We have a new adoption to celebrate! Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I made the rash decision to adopt a new family member. Like everyone else in the family, she is in need of some TLC and special care.

Now don’t fret, thinking I’ve gone round the bend.  Cat Daddy and I would never adopt an animal without the other’s consent.  Rather, this beauty has arrived to hopefully help in the quest to promote cat liver shunt awareness, and Collie rescue.

Newt is having a good day, and thoroughly enjoyed the photo shoot.

Please meet Newt’s newest friend:
Newt's First Spinning Wheel

I think her name is Virginia.   Will write more about her later, as research yields answers to our mystery reel

Still quite gobsmacked that she is here, along with her companion weasel. No, silly, not a real weasel, but rather a “reel” weasel.  Click reel, actually – also known as a yarn weasel, for measuring yarn. (Pictured on right, with Newt’s rat tail)

Below – Newt posing with Wheel

Below: The partial flyer, with bobbin and whorl

Tour de Fleece? More Like Tour de Fits!

First, let me assure you that I am quite happy that Newt is feeling better, in spite of what you may read in the following paragraphs. Thrilled, in fact.

We revel in the “good days.” Whenever our naughty little boy gets into mischief, it makes our heart sing – and makes damage control that much easier to perform!

Still on standby for the next big project for Major Corporation.  Fine, more time to try and organize my spinning.  I usually am hesitant to block out wait time (unbillable) for projects to land, but this one is worth the gamble.  Two months, reasonably close to home, same great Team I’ve successfully worked with before, so I’m waiting.  The demands and stress of this type of work are difficult enough, so having a great Team certainly helps make things much more tolerable. A bit impatiently, but I’m waiting.  Injured finger is almost back to normal (many bits left unsaid in a previous post about biting the hand that feeds you – use your imagination!) so am trying to be a good girl, stay away from the computer and do something else. So let’s work up our courage and face our spindle fear, shall we? I mean, I am supposed to be on a Tour de Fleece Team, and it would be nice to actually spin something, instead of just cheering on the rest of the team.  Just Spin It! (with apologies to the famous shoe company for stealing their slogan).

Am simultaneously encouraged and disheartened. Missed the spinning meeting on Saturday. Remembered at the last minute, then got stuck in dreadful traffic. Sunny and hot here today, so I planned to re-wash the Chiengora. That sounds sooooo much more enticing and exotic and expensive than dog hair, don’t you think? I believe that it smells like dirty dog.  Cat Daddy, on the other hand, simply said “I don’t see a problem, it just smells like The Dog.”

Oh, great, does this mean that other people think that The Dog stinks?!?! 

Newt LOVES the smell of The Dog, as evidenced by his frequent burrowing against his soft, silky fur, freshly bathed or not.  Come to think of it though, for someone with a predilection for stinky shoes and sweaty feet, not to mention for the first year of his life having carrion breath that could knock a buzzard out of the air at 100 paces, his sense of polite aromas could be a bit … skewed.

Perhaps in my spinning paranoia (spinanoria?), my olfactories are playing tricks on me, trying to convince me that the freshly cleaned piles of fluff smell dirty, when really they don’t.  Whatever.  I’m the one who has to spin it, so I decided to wash it again this morning, with a vinegar rinse, then set it out to dry. The torrential rains on Saturday, and my busy day yesterday meant the fluff stayed safely inside on the makeshift drying racks.  I use the term “safely” quite loosely.

It seems that SOMEONE had other plans for my precious piles of plucked fluff.  The culprit decided to redecorate the house overnight in a faux sheep shearing slaughter scenario.

Cat Daddy asked this morning if we had hosted the SMMA last night (Sheep Mixed Martial Arts), as we have a terrific trail of terror leading from the drying racks, throughout the kitchen, filling the table, my office, spiraling around the living room, covering the couch, meandering down the hall, and ending with a whimper in Newt’s Room. Yes, I’m sure it was him, as he greeted me with a gleeful grin this morning, and waved those delicious pink footie paws at me – complete with shreds of cheingora still clutched between his long lizard toes.

What, you mean your cat doesn’t have its own room?  Technically, the room was supposed to be my studio, but when Newt began to need to be isolated for feeding, that was the logical choice.  Add a litter pan in there, and suddenly, it’s no longer mummy’s garishly painted studio, it became “Newt’s Room.” Hence the bright orange Dog Rug, specially knitted to match the lime green, purple and orange hues of Newt’s Room. Newt has his meals in there, and the rest of the time, he and his One True Love lounge in and out, joined periodically by the Dog. Yeah, I know that One True Love also had HER room (which used to be my library), but apparently, the blankies and sunshine are better in Newt’s Room. 

Are you noticing a theme here?  Not only are the felines plotting their world domination, they are slowly and steadily taking over all the corners of our home which were previously allocated for ME!

So fine, take over the house, you ungrateful fuzzybutts, but leave my fleece alone! 

Have you ANY idea how difficult it was to wrestle – errrrr, wash – the Dog to get that should-have-been freshly cleaned fiber, then put up with Cat Daddy’s joyful teasing about setting up the Cheingora Laundromat in “his” kitchen for the fiber prep, then have the neighbors pointing and laughing at me chasing drying piles of puff escaping across the windy lawn (and fighting the birds for it, no less!), then MORE of Cat Daddy’s howls of laughter as the makeshift drying racks were moved into the kitchen for safekeeping and to finish drying during the rains?  And when I FINALLY worked up the courage and decided that my precious camel-coloured cheingora could be sacrificed upon the alter of the dreaded Spindle of Doom, (yes, I had nightmares last night about spindling!), I awake to …  to … to …

Words fail me.

Perhaps the Universe has a really sick sense of humour?  Instead of spinning, maybe I should sweep it all up, chuck it into alternately hot and cold water, agitate the stuffing out of it and turn it into felted cat toys. 

Except that I may have found a wheel, within my limited budget, assuming I that want to experiment with repairing it.  May go for it.

Along with Newt’s artistic redecorating endeavors, anything to keep me from actually spinning!

Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You

Pookie is back to normal; yay!

By the way, you readers are starting to freak me out a bit

Seeing how I’m all shy, anti-social, quiet and all that – not to mention fiercely private! – it has been a bit disconcerting to see how many subscribers and readers that Newt has accumulated.  The mind, it BOGGLES! What began as a slender Hope that perhaps by posting Newt’s journey, other cat liver shunt parents might find comfort in knowing that they are not alone, has morphed into a strange hodgepodge of the mundanity that is our life. Why on earth would non-cat liver shunt people be interested in Newt? (Let alone my mis-adventures in knitting?!?)

I mean, he’s overwhelmingly adorable and all, but, seriously?  Why are you guys so interested in string and chicken, anyway? There’s tons of fab knitting and crochet blogs out there, innumerable cat blogs, a staggering amount of recipe and cooking blogs (well, okay, I’ll concede, most of them are not related to cooking for CATS, but still!),  and, blogs by holistic practitioners and “normal” writers abound.

So, why are you peeking in Newt’s windows?  And why are you emailing to ask for more info on ME?!?! I’ve never been much of a navel gazer; heck, I can’t even SEE my belly button!  (Well, maybe now that gravity has taken its toll, it IS easier than it used to be!)

Nevertheless, don’t bite the hand that feeds you

You guys are awesome!  I never imagined that random electronic scribbling about a runty, spotted, spoiled, tabby cat with a rare condition would *ever* generate so much interest. So, if rambling tidbits about holistic health care for animals, random cat-food recipes, and basic knitting and crocheting projects all bundles up with our story about little lion-hearted Newt makes you happy and helps to promote awareness of liver shunts in cats, who am I to argue?

Relax. Yeah, Right!

Wrapped the last project for Major Corporation, yay!  Have a couple of days to “relax” before the next one hits.  This one is scheduled to run for two months, so, trying to hurry and catch up before heading back into the fray.

Top of the list, Schnookie Snurfing, of course.  I miss having that spotted belly to snurf at will, and those darling pink footie paws waving at me from wherever Newt happens to be lounging. Have some other accounts that I want to try and wrap up as well, plus am still desperately searching for the shaman’s drumming CD that I wanted to share with a friend.  I KNOW it’s got to be here .. somewhere.  Am embarrassed that it’s taken so long. And I can’t even use clutter as an excuse, everything is pretty well organized and in its place. It’s probably hiding in plain sight, as the router software CD was, when I had to do an emergency network repair.

Note to self, never again should I be allowed to repair the network, or do any other computer repairs, until at least four days after completing a major project.  My aging brain does not recover as quickly from the long days as it used to, and is prone to making strange errors.  Cat Daddy said toward the end of this last effort, I was speaking German to him!  Uhm … das ist nicht sehr gut, ja? 

Needless to say, tearing the entire software library apart, ripping out all the computer cables, running back and forth between systems, all the while muttering obscenities (in English, German, French, Spanish and Klingon) on the first day after wrapping the deadline was rather amusing.

For Cat Daddy and The Dog.

I, on the other hand, was far less amused – particularly when I looked yet AGAIN where the router software was SUPPOSED to BE, and discovered, much to my bemusement, there it was … right where it belonged, hiding in plain sight.


Not a great start for “relaxing.”  Toss in the fact that Newt is having an odd spell the last couple of days, and I’m not doing much resting right now. 

Newt’s drooling.  After the last few days of him behaving oddly, he began slightly drooling this morning. He also refused his breakfast of chicken and cheese.  He’s been mildly off his feed for the last couple of days. Eating some, but pickier than his norm, and not clearing his plate. So, we resorted to the old standby of chicken morsels, and added a pinch of shredded cheddar.  Worked last night, but not this morning.

He’s been looking tired, and he’s been half-crouchy, and not lounging in his normal spots. This time around, he seems to prefer the floor, under the bed, or the annex box, where has gathered together some plastic bags for a nest. I haven’t the heart to take the bags away from him, as he seems so comfy there. In other words, he’s not seeking warm spots as in a usual episode.  Now it seems like he’s wanting cooler places to hang out.

Another shunt cat seems to get episodic during the heat.  Cat Daddy agrees that possibly it may be affecting Pookie as well, as we’ve had three days in a row of 100+ degrees.  The air conditioner has run non-stop (poor Dog, with his thick, hairy fur coat) to help keep the house cool.  Aside from giving Newt an ice pack for a nest, I’m at a loss as to what else to do for him.

Anyone else’s shunt kitties seem to go episodic during the heat? If yes, what do you do to help them? We’ve already been direct dosing the meds, offering enticing morsels for him, and keeping things quiet so he can relax.

Me, on the other hand? That’s another story!