Exiting Submarine Mode

I haven’t written here in over a month – just haven’t been in the mood, I guess. Also, not a huge amount going on in the month of February.

March has been a bit different: Debbi’s been back east for the last week and a half visiting her parents (with a side-trip to Disney World yesterday and today), so I’ve been on my own at home for the first time since her sabbatical in 2011. It was pretty lonely for the first couple of days, trying to figure out what to do with myself (not that I didn’t have plenty to do).

After the first weekend it got a bit easier. I hosted Magic last Monday, went to Dana Street for comic book night on Wednesday, and hosted a poker night on Friday.

The poker night had a notable hand: In the big blind I got dealt… well, it came around to me with a single raise and I said, “I don’t have any cards.” I’d been distracted and hadn’t grabbed them from the middle, and they were sitting mixed up in the muck. Without my saying anything, people agreed I could just take the top two cards off the deck (no, I wasn’t the dealer) and play them. So I got two cards, and they were… the Ace-King of diamonds. I called the raise and saw a flop of… three diamonds, for the nut flush. The small blind bet into me, and I called, and everyone else folded. The turn and river bricked, and I got it all in on the river. My opponent thought a while and called, then mucked to my flush. He said he had a set, which was the only hand that made sense to me, other than a lower flush. He said my call on the flop confused him into thinking I didn’t have the flush, which was more-or-less what I’d intended. It was a little funny since he slowplayed several big hands that evening.

I wonder what the two cards I didn’t get to play were?

I signed up to watch some friends’ cats this past weekend, and kept plenty busy besides, reading for our book discussion on Sunday, cooking meals, and running errands. As usual I didn’t get half as much done as I’d intended. I also took Newton and Roulette in for their annual check-ups on Saturday. Newton’s down to just 4-1/2 pounds or so, but the vet says he seems happy and fairly healthy otherwise. We’re giving him more subcutaneous fluids but otherwise keeping things about the same unless things change. I’m glad he’s happy. He’ll turn 19 next month, which is just mind-blowing.

The kittens are doing well. They sleep with me every night and usually snuggle with me in the morning. I think Roulette is very gradually coming to accept them, but it’ll probably be months yet before they snooze together. All the cats were happy that it was so warm this weekend that I opened up the windows until sundown.

Today, alas, I’ve come down with something, so I had to bail on hosting Magic tonight and I’m sitting quietly on the couch (having eaten too much hamburger and tater tots for dinner). Debbi’s back tomorrow, and then things will be back to normal for a while. It’ll be nice.

Feline Integration

The kittens have had the run of the house for about a month and a half now, and things seem to be going well. There are some expected bumps, though.

Sadie & Jackson

Jackson is turning out to be the troublemaker. He’s gone behind the A/V cabinet and chewed on some of the thinner cables, breaking both the AM and FM antennae for my receiver. (It turns out those are hard to replace – no one really carries replacements!) We’ve piled empty boxes back there, but he keeps trying to get back there anyway. Then we grab him and put him in time out (holding him against his will) and he mews pitifully. He tries to force his way into our food at meal time, and yesterday stood on a spoon covered in pesto sauce while licking a plate. He likes to “help” me scoop the litter, standing in the box and batting at the scoop.

Sadie is not quite as rambunctious, and has gotten snugglier as she’s grown up. She likes getting attention in the middle of the night, which is not ideal, but she also likes to check out what people are doing. Sometimes I’ll be in the study and she’ll walk in meowing, and I think she just wanted to know where I am and make sure I’m okay. One morning she climbed through the shade in the front window to watch me leave for work.

Sadie is turning out to be a medium-long haired cat, which I would not have guessed from when she was a kitten. I’ll need to get her used to getting brushed. Jackson is definitely short-haired, and his fur is starting to soften a little. Jackson is going to be long and lanky, as I think I’ve said before, while Sadie will have a more compact body.

Jackson in the Sun Sunbeam Newton & Sadie
(click for larger images)

The kittens get along very well with Newton, and often sleep with him. I think Newton enjoys the attention, and I wonder if he was a little bored, lonely, or even feeling a little abandoned before the kittens, since he now spends time with them in group grooming sessions and seems a little perkier and happier (now that Sadie isn’t pouncing on him). I know he doesn’t like all the medicines and subcutaneous fluids he has to take, so the more innocent attention the kittens give him might make him happy. He’s also taught them about drinking out of the sink in the downstairs bathroom.

Kitten Pile

Getting along with Roulette is taking longer. There’s still some hissing, and Sadie sometimes chases her, which we can’t really tell whether she enjoys or not. Maybe sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t. Sadie really wants to be like Rou, and we often see her imitating the big cat. They don’t quite sleep together in the sun on the guest bed, but close. Jackson has tried to win her over by being snuggly like he was with Newton, but so far it hasn’t worked. But at least Roulette isn’t hiding under the bed all the time, and Debbi even saw her and Jackson playing next to each other in some brown packing paper we’d put on the floor.

Cats Together Sadie & Roulette

They’ve also been doing very well with guests: We had Chad & Camille and their kids over last weekend and the kittens were quite sociable. Today we had Subrata & Susan and their son over for part of the Super Bowl and they again were quite happy to check out everything everyone was doing. It’s nice not to have either cat running and hiding when people come over.

Yesterday we took the kittens to the vet for their last round of shots. When we were there a little over a month ago, Sadie was around 4 lbs and Jackson was a bit over 3 lbs. Jackson has passed Sadie and is now at 7 lbs, while Sadie is a little over 6 lbs. The vet thinks Jackson will be a 14-15 lb kitty, while Sadie will be 10-11. That’s gonna be a lot of Jackson to deal with!

Jackson is proofreading this post as I type, so I’ll sign off with a picture of the two of us. Carefully taken to crop out (most of) the horrible bed-head I had that morning before my shower:

Jackson & Me

Here’s to a Better 2013

Frankly my feeling about 2012 is that it shouldn’t let the door hit it on the way out.

The year started quietly enough, but in March Newton spent several days in the hospital. I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it when we brought him in, but he pulled through and is still with us today. It made for a really rough month, though.

Sadly, Blackjack wasn’t so lucky, as he passed away last month 20 months after being diagnosed with lymphoma. We don’t have any regrets about making the decision, but it made for an un-merry holiday season.

The second half of the year was dominated by my Mom’s affairs, which has been very stressful for me – and rather expensive, with three trips back east. In July I flew back to help take care of her while she was rehabbing from knee replacement surgery. This trip seemed like a big disruption at the time, but in hindsight – in contrast to what followed – I remember it as practically a vacation (albeit one where I was working remotely every workday): I had dinners with friends and with my Dad, and went down to visit Debbi’s family at their beach house three times. And Mom’s cat Maggie and I bonded in the evenings.

But this was just the beginning, as soon after I returned we decided that Mom would be moving into an assisted living home. This led to a second trip in August to take over managing her financial affairs. And another trip in October where my sister and I worked on going through her physical stuff. My uncle (who’s done this for family members himself) did give me some good advice, though, that many of the things I had to do are straightforward so long as you attend to them and don’t let them languish, and frankly he’s been right. As much as I’ve disliked having to do many of these things, I haven’t really run into any real problems in getting them done.

Anyway.

The whole year wasn’t bad. Debbi’s parents visited us in February, and my Dad came to visit in April. I got to see a lot of Dad this year with my trips back east; as I said at the end of the August trip, it was good to see him and Mom (and Debbi’s family), but the rest of the trip sucked.

And in November we expanded our furry family with the addition of Jackson and Sadie, who have been a handful but have also been a nice distraction from some of the other things going on.

So I dearly hope that 2013 will be a better year, with less stress and less sadness. I still have some worries about things I have to take care of, and I think I’m just going to be worried about Newton’s health from here on out (he will, after all turn 19 in April).

My hope for this year is that the tasks I have to accomplish for my family go smoothly, and that Debbi and I can take a few vacations. That and healthy kitties is all I really ask from this new year.

Kitten Distraction

The kittens have been a nice distraction from Blackjack’s passing. They’re getting big so quickly! A about two weeks ago we started letting them out of their room to start exploring. First we let them have half the upstairs hallway and a bathroom, then the whole upstairs (guarded by a baby gate and a human sitting at it at the top of the stairs). They loved chasing each other back and forth through the hall and bedrooms, and they explored the bathrooms, and the beds, and various other things.

A melancholy moment was when Sadie went to the laundry basket where she’d encountered Blackjack before, and we’re pretty sure she remembered him and was looking for him, as he was the first kitty she’d really met. I like to think Sadie and Blackjack would have become friends, had things gone differently.

Anyway.

Last weekend we opened up the whole house to them (except for the study and the laundry room). They careened down the stairs and suffered a major traction loss when they got to the hardwood floors downstairs, but since then they’ve loved it! Jackson likes hanging out under the Christmas tree (and we have to stop him from chewing on it), and they both like to scale the cat tree.

I think it took the better part of the two days last weekend for them to finally calm down enough to sit and snooze with us. At times we’d see Sadie walking around looking absolutely exhausted, but she was still so excited that she didn’t want to sleep because she might miss something! But eventually they napped: Sadie sleeps loafed up on a couch cushion, while Jackson sleeps on his side with his legs sticking out. And then they wake up and do it all over again.

Lick Time
(click for larger image)

We still put them in their room overnight or when we’re leaving the house (and sometimes just to give the big cats a break from them), but they’re totally looking forward to being out all the time. And we’re being really careful when we go outside when they’re out to make sure they don’t try to dart outside.

The big cats are doing okay with them. There’s been some hissing. Jackson seems to back off when hissed at, he doesn’t want to get smacked down. Sadie, though, runs after Roulette and paws at her even when hissed at; I think those two are going to have to throw down at some point. If Roulette would just smack her a couple of times that might resolve things, but so far she hasn’t. Sadie has even tackled Newton on the couch a couple of times!

Roulette ran upstairs the first few times we let them out, but now she stays downstairs and is usually either under the futon, or on the back of the couch, watching them. Newton followed them around a little, but now isn’t very interested unless they disturb his sleep. Jackson likes to go sleep with him sometimes, and he gives Newton a bath when he does (Newton has mostly stopped grooming himself in his old age). One time I heard Newton meow, and I went over to find him ready to jump off the couch, while Sadie was upside-down, on her head, back to the couch cushion looking at him. “Extreme kitten flirting” I called it.

Snoozing with Newton Snoozing with Michael and Newton

Debbi’s started giving all four cats wet cat food together as a treat, and they’re all pretty accommodating. Jackson is a bit of a bully trying to get the others cats’ food, and Roulette is torn between wet food (her favoritest thing) and staying away from the kittens – the food wins. To her credit, she’s also played with Debbi and the kittens when Debbi brings out a toy, so she’s starting to get used to them.

Who's That? Sitting with Debbi

The kittens’ personalities are slowly emerging. Jackson is full of energy, is easily distracted, but is also the snuggler when he finally winds down. He’s also got the extra-loud purr. Sadie paces herself a little better, isn’t quite as aggressive, but also interacts with the humans less. I think she’s still trying to figure out how to get people to love her. I hope she becomes more snuggly because she has extra-soft fur which is great to pet.

The kittens have been a lot of work, but they’re also a lot of fun. They keep themselves entertained a lot, and then crash and hang out with us for a while. The big cats are still not too happy about it all, but I think they’re slowly coming around.

Hi there!

Remembering Blackjack 2003-2012

Debbi says that when she went to get Blackjack and Roulette she knew Blackjack was the cat for her. I think she got Roulette partly because Roulette seemed to like me, but Blackjack was the cat for her. She wanted a black cat, and he played hard and seemed to like people. He came with his name, while Debbi came up with “Roulette” to match him.

Blackjack was a little sick as a kitten, but got over it. Then he became all kinds of trouble! He was bold and liked to check everything out. And after he played hard, he crashed hard and slept hard. He just kept going until he was done, and then he climbed somewhere he felt safe and zonked out.


(click the thumbnails for larger images)

Blackjack also chose Debbi as his human. He would often nuzzle at her neck while kneading her and purring, something we called “giving her wuv”. He only did this for me once, when he was a kitten and she was visiting her family back east and had left them with me. But otherwise this was something he saved for her.

I think he had designs on becoming top cat when he came to my place, but Jefferson knocked him off of that idea promptly. Then he and Newton started fighting to see who would be second cat. We called them the “silent wrestlers”, as they would struggle on the floor without meowing or yelping. I’m not sure who won that struggle, since when Jefferson passed away we think Roulette moved from being bottom cat to being top cat, without anyone putting up a fight.



Blackjack was a very demonstrative kitty: He would often fall asleep on the floor, and then eventually end up lying on his back, exposing his tummy for everyone to see. We think he meant he was happy and comfortable with us. He was also very strong, being 14 pounds of pretty solid muscle, with powerful hind legs that could let him leap sideways quite some distance from a starting position. He had the most pathetic meow, sounding like someone was torturing him, when he was perfectly fine. Since he was all black, he could meow without us seeing his mouth open, which was pretty weird at times.

Like I said, he was a trouble-maker: He was a shoelace chewer. He liked to eat vegetables: Corn, frozen peas, and he’s gnaw on banana peels. Once he went deaf he got even pushier at the dinner table, trying to grab our food, and of course saying “no!” to him would have no effect! He would sometimes pull out one of his nails grooming himself, with just the quick sticking out from his paw. The nail always grew back, but that was kind of strange.

He and his sister wrestled and chased each other a lot. When they started chasing each other upstairs at the townhouse Debbi would say, “The elephants have been released!” Blackjack would often play harder than Roulette really wanted, and she’d meow in protest until we separated them. But he didn’t bite or otherwise cross the line.


Blackjack was – along with Newton – our social cat. He’d hang out when we had visitors, and as recently as last month he was up on the dining room table checking out what we were up to when I had friends over to play Magic. When our friends Lisa and Michel brought their daughter Isabella over, he was the one who eventually went over to check her out. She sat down and he sniffed her from toe to head, with her looking a bit startled by it all. Then he decided that was good enough for him and he left.


He would find strange places to sleep: Under the shelves in the closet at the townhouse. Under the desk. In the laundry basket. Places where it was hard to spot him because he was all black! He liked sleeping under the Christmas tree, too. He also discovered the heating vents under the cabinets in the new house, and enjoyed sitting in front of them last winter; he’d usually be in front of one every morning when I came down. He liked looking out the window, and was more curious than agitated when we got outdoor feline visitors (whereas Roulette would go nuts over the intruder).

And of course he would play: Jump after toys, run up and down the stairs. My Mom gave us a two-foot-long tube with fleece on the inside, and I could get him to run back and forth through it for quite a while. And then he’d get tired and he’d sack out inside it. Like the other cats, he enjoyed being carried outside, but he was especially aggressive about trying to eat grass if we put him down, so we usually didn’t.

I wanted to end with what I think is the quintessential Blackjack picture. He was still young when Debbi took this picture with her phone, but it captures his innocence and curiosity. He still had his whole life ahead of him and he was ready to enjoy every minute:

Goodbye, fella.

Goodbye, Blackjack

We had Blackjack put to sleep today.

He never recovered from his downturn shortly after Thanksgiving, and he just spent most of his time sleeping, usually in the laundry basket. He seemed confused and disoriented, and blood tests from Monday came back showing he had elevated white blood cell counts (probably fighting something off, as he’s been congested), but also plummeting red blood cell counts. The vet said we could run tests, but it could well be his cancer has gotten into his bone marrow or even his brain, and we knew if that was it then we weren’t going to treat him.

Wednesday Debbi called to make an appointment for this afternoon to bring it to an end. He continued to go downhill, and at times we wondered whether he would even make it to today. I think he last ate on Thursday night (some wet food). We ran out of the antiviral meds we were giving him for his eye lesions and his eyes were regressing (his right eye was all gunked up this morning). Thursday night I came to bed after Debbi has fallen asleep, and he wasn’t in the laundry basket. I looked around and he was lying outside the litter box in the study. I brought him back to the laundry basket, but he got up and went back and lay down in the litter. I tried putting him in a soft cat couch in the room, but he ended up lying under the desk instead.

He stayed there until yesterday when Debbi brought him downstairs when she got home from work and put him on the couch with Newton. He snoozed there until it was time to go today.

We went to my office’s holiday party last night. Usually for these things we get home late (we got back around 1 am), and we’re tired but we know we can sleep in and have a quiet, restful weekend. But this time I knew we’d be having a terrible day today and going to bed wasn’t the relief it usually is.

This morning he was wheezing every time he breathed. Just before it was time to go Debbi was holding him, and I suggested she take him outside, since he always enjoyed the outside. When I looked out on them next she was picking him up from the lawn. She said he’d merped at her and wanted to get down, and then he ate a few blades of grass, something he always tried to do when we put him down outside.

Debbi gave Roulette and Newton a chance to say goodbye – Newton licked his head – and then we went to the vet where our wonderful doctor put sedated him (probably the best sleep he’s had in a couple of days due to his breathing problems) and then did the deed. She told him he was a tough guy and that he beat his lymphoma. And maybe he did, but he just couldn’t catch a break: He went deaf, lost his sense of balance, lost his powerful hind legs, stopped purring, stopped giving Debbi kneads-and-nuzzles (what we called “wuv”), developed eye problems, lost a bunch of weight, and finally just spent all his time sleeping. He was a cat who was full of life and energy and mischief, and seeing him diminish like this has been terribly hard.

This is extraordinarily hard on Debbi, because Blackjack was her special kitty, the one she immediately knew was the cat for her, and the one of our adult cats who bonded entirely to her. It wasn’t fair to her, and it wasn’t fair to him. She’s been a great mom, and has done everything he could have asked her to do. The doctor said he had a good quality of life these last two years because of what she’s done. Two years is the life expectancy of a cat diagnosed with lymphoma if given treatment, and he didn’t quite make it, but almost.

Debbi’s been stronger today than I’d expected, while I’ve been weepy and sentimental. We sat on the couch for a while, and Newton climbed in my lap while Roulette curled up next to me. Even the kittens seemed to sense that something was wrong, though I don’t think they have any idea what.

I think Blackjack would have liked the kittens, and certainly after how he harassed Newton and Jefferson when he came into the household he deserved to get harassed by some kittens. He was more curious about them than Newton and Roulette have been, for the few days between when we got them and when he started his final slide.

Blackjack was a little shy of nine and a half years old.

I’ll write a less sad remembrance of him tomorrow, but I had to get the sad stuff out of my system first. For now I’ll leave you with the last Blackjack picture:

The Big Cats

I wrote about the kittens, so I also wanted to update how the big cats are doing.

I’ll start with the bad news, which is that Blackjack has not been doing well. He’s been gradually going downhill for a while now, but right after Thanksgiving he had a big slide: He doesn’t jump anymore, he seems disoriented and unbalanced, and he spends most of his time sleeping. Debbi took him to the vet this morning and they’re running some tests, and gave him a vitamin shot, so we’ll see. He might have something treatable, or his cancer might finally be catching him. Or, we might never know, since we’ve already decided we’re not going to run invasive tests on him, since anything we find is probably more than we’d be willing to treat at this point.

Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to be in pain, and he’s still eating, drinking, and using his litter, and he sometimes comes out to say hi. But it’s been a hard week.

Newton, by contrast, has been getting better recently. Well, sort of. He went in for some blood work and had lost a little weight, which surprised me since he feels heavier and more solid to me. His hyperthyroidism has been improving, but his kidney values are off a bit. So we’ve cut back on his thyroid meds, but are giving him subcutaneous fluids an extra day per week. The doctor said we want to treat the symptoms, but we also want to treat him, and he seems to be feeling fine.

Really: He’s up and about more often, he’s curious about things (he wants to go into the garage lately), he walks around meowing and demanding that we put water in the sink for him to drink out of, and his appetite is fine. He even chased Roulette off the couch recently, although he doesn’t move so fast anymore so she got away easily. He’s no spring chicken, but at this point I could almost believe he’ll outlive us all.

His better condition unfortunately has come with him meowing at 3 am again sometimes, which isn’t so welcome. But oh well.

As for Roulette, she’s about the same. She’s been a bit more spastic recently, running around downstairs and playing more often. She’s still very wary of the kittens, but not as much as she was.

I don’t know if it’s the kittens, or knowing that something is wrong with Blackjack, or sensing Debbi’s sadness about him, but she has been sleeping with us at night more than she has in a long time. That’s been pretty nice. We were sitting on the couch yesterday and every so often she would get up, walk over my lap once, and then go back to where she was sleeping. I guess she’s just checking on us.

I’m just hoping she’ll adjust to the kittens and be a good big sister to them, because I think they’ll have a lot to offer her, though I bet she wouldn’t believe that if we told her!

And Then There Were Five

Our big excitement this weekend is that we added two new members to our feline household!

We’d been thinking about getting some kittens for a while. While we did already have three cats, Newton is elderly and Blackjack is slowing down due to his lymphoma. Roulette is 9 years old and still active, but she seems to be getting a little bored without another cat to play with. We know that integrating new cats into the household will take work, but certainly we would look at getting new cats if we ever got down to just Roulette, and it seemed to make sense to get Roulette used to them while she was still young enough to make the adjustment.

So Saturday we went to the Silicon Valley Humane Society. They have an amazing facility over in Milpitas (the outdoor dog exercise areas alone are impressive!). We weren’t set on getting kittens immediately, but we were open to it. We met a couple of 4-month-old brown tabby cats who were very nice, but the ones that won my heart were a pair of 2-1/2 month olds, who we ended up taking home that day.

We spent an hour in a whirlwind of activity preparing the library for them while they sat in their carrier in the bathroom, and finally we were ready to let them out into the room that will be their home for a few weeks. They’re both bundles of energy, and they spent an hour chasing each other all over the room when they emerged.

The boy with the gray tabby pattern we’re tentatively naming Jackson, although we’re still mulling over that one. He’s a very high-energy kitty, and is very snuggly when we first go in the room after some time away. He’s also quite meowy and has a loud purr motor which engages whenever you pick him up.

The white girl with the orange tabby markings I think we’re going to call Sadie. She’s a little more subdued than her brother, but only because I think she paces herself better and isn’t as aggressive. But she can still keep up with him and rarely gets overwhelmed. She enjoys burrowing under the blanket on the chair in their room.

They’re going to stay in their room for at least a couple of weeks. We put up a baby gate at the door to make it easier for us to get in and out without risking them dashing out (Jackson already tried to escape once before we got the gate). Blackjack and Newton have both seen and sniffed at them through the gate, but seem mostly uninterested. Roulette is quite agitated as she knows there’s something there, but I don’t think she knows what. We introduced her to them through the gate tonight, and she didn’t hiss, but she didn’t approach them, either. I think it’s going to take her a while.

It’s a big step for all of us, but it’s a step we knew we’d be taking eventually. And the timing works out because I’m off work for a week, and Debbi for half a week, and then we have Christmas break in a little over a month. So we can spend lots of time with them.

Wish us luck that this integration goes as smoothly as getting Jefferson and Newton used to Blackjack and Roulette did!

From Santa Cruz to Crate & Barrel

I’ve had four of the last six days off. Well, two of those were the weekend, of course, but I took Wednesday and Thursday off to both catch up on some things and to have a fun day off since I haven’t taken much vacation time this year.

Debbi took Wednesday off and we decided to drive down to Santa Cruz and then up the coast. We had breakfast at Stacks in Campbell, and then drove down to Santa Cruz. We passed to small traffic jams on the way, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad.

In Santa Cruz we went to the Museum of Natural History, which is small, but hard to beat for the $4 admission. Plus it’s near a nice beach which you can walk to while your parking pass is still good. Then we went into downtown for lunch, dropped in a couple of stores to shop, and visited The Penny Ice Creamery, which a cow-orker recommended and which was very tasty!

Our drive up the coast was uneventful, other than looking around to stop at the few beaches I wanted to drop in on. I remembered doing this same drive 13 years ago when I got my car, and stopping at several beaches which were clearly visible from Highway 1, and this time we stopped at some other ones. We particularly enjoyed seeing kitesurfers at one beach:

We also stopped at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and saw a couple of sea lions from a distance, and visited Pebble Beach (no, not the one with the famous golf course).

We should’ve brought some water bottles with us, but otherwise it was a nice drive along the coast seeing some sights we hadn’t seen before.

Debbi went back to work Thursday and I worked on stuff at home, such as mowing the lawn. I also took care of some of my Mom’s affairs – such as cancelling her cell phone contract, since she doesn’t even know where her cell phone is at this point; if she ever needs one again, a prepaid phone will probably be the way to go. I’m constantly surprised at how many details there are to take care of, yet how most of them are not too hard individually – they just add up over time. Managing my own affairs is hard enough!

I ran a couple of errands for my own, and left lunch a little too late, settling on buying stuff for PB&J sandwiches at home.

Friday I had a 1-day work week, and Debbi and I went to Cascal for dinner. Yum!

Over the weekend we worked on some home projects. It started with a trip to the vet with Blackjack, who has been breathing more audibly lately and one of his eyes has been getting gunked up. We got some drops for his eye, and some blood work done (which came back the same as his last tests). We’re always worrying that his next symptoms might be the other shoe dropping, but so far it’s all be pretty little stuff (though the vet visits get expensive). He and Newton have both been doing pretty well this summer.

We went by Crate & Barrel to buy some new drinking glasses, and ended up also buying some wine cabinets, which we’ve needed for a while. (The old Ikea bookcase currently holding our wine is not in great shape.) We also tried to go to Ikea, but couldn’t find a parking space! Or, rather, we could, but only a lo-o-ong way from the front door, so we gave up. We went back Sunday morning and bought some shelving for our dining room, to store knick-knacks and other things that don’t currently have a home. I put it together and then we unpacked two of the last boxes remaining from our move. Almost done! I think we have 3 or 4 boxes in the study yet to unpack, but at least 2 of those are old gaming materials that I can’t quite decide to get rid of.

So a pretty productive weekend all-in-all. We finished it by grilling steak & baked potatoes, and playing a round of lawn bowling.

It was back to work today. Hard to believe fall has arrived already!

One Cat, Two Cat

Saturday we took Blackjack and Newton in to the vet.

For Newton it was a 3-month blood test, to see how he’s been doing on his range of medications. The outcome was that all his numbers are basically the same as last time, no better no worse, which is good news, I guess. Except that his white blood cell count was elevated, which probably indicates some kind of infection. So he’s on a round of antibiotics (yay, another twice-daily medication to give him) for a week and a half, and then we’ll have him retested. On the bright side, he’s up to 7-1/2 pounds, from a low of 5-1/2 when he was hospitalized.

For Blackjack, Debbi wanted him to get a physical since he hasn’t been getting the full work-up at his clinic for his cancer treatments. Our regular vet looked him and said he looks really good. He’s at around 13-1/2 pounds, which is a pretty good weight for him. His Horner’s syndrome receded as quickly as it arrived, and he’s jumping around more than six months ago. So maybe he’ll be with us a while yet.

The unfortunate punctuation to this trip is that Newton peed in the carrier on the way home, getting himself all wet. Plus he’s been having problems staying in the litter box when he pees. It’s a vexing problem. I have a couple other ideas of things to try, if our latest trick (puppy training pads) doesn’t work.

Unfortunately I wonder whether Newton is reaching the point where he’s living too long. It’s nice having him around, but he’s gradually becoming no-longer-the-same-cat-I’ve-known, and I wonder if he’s really still happy. But he’s still eating, he still prowls around the house at night, and he’s been enjoying the brushing I’ve been giving him recently. So it’s not time yet.

No news about Roulette this time around. I think she just slept on the couch the whole time the four of us were gone. I imagine she briefly cackled “The whole house is mi-i-ine!” after we left – and then fell asleep.