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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.

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!

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.

Newton & Blackjack Update

Since I know people are interested, here’s the latest news on Newton and Blackjack:

Newton went in for a blood test yesterday, a month after his last one. I got the call from the vet this afternoon and she says all his blood work is basically the same as last month, which is good! His indicators are all in the normal range or very close to it. She wants him to continue on his current regimen of drugs and subcutaneous fluids (which is a bit of a bummer since I’d hoped we could cut back on a few of them) and we’ll re-check him in 3 months if he remains stable.

He’s also gained 0.4 lbs since last time, which means he’s up at least a pound since he had his hospital stay (to about 6.5 lbs). He’s also generally happy and has some more energy lately. On the downside, he threw up this morning and didn’t want to eat his wet cat food (which he gets to give him one of his drugs in powder form), but I’m hoping it’s just a bit of an upset tummy and nothing serious. (He wolfed down the food last night.)

Blackjack has been diagnosed by his vet as having Horner’s Syndrome, and has shown the first three symptoms on that page (Small pupil size, protrusion of the third eyelid, drooping of the upper eyelid) in his right eye. I’m pretty sure he can still see out of that eye, but I’m not an expert. Right now, the third eyelid is rarely protruding, which makes us feel a little better because it looks really weird. But the eye is half-closed most of the time, and he doesn’t seem able to fully close it, so it waters a lot sometimes (he shakes his head and tears fly around).

I think he’s a little frustrated by it, but he seems to be in pretty good spirits otherwise. He’s back to taking his steroid (prednisolone) every day now, I think to try to suppress whatever’s affecting the nerves to his eye. His body doesn’t seem to have gotten any worse, and he’s been more inquisitive and even more talkative over the last week. So we don’t really know how things will progress, but at least he’s stable and happy for now.

I guess it’s not fair to talk about Newton and Blackjack without mentioning Roulette. She’s been high-energy lately, running around the house and meowing as if she has spring fever or something. She’s delighted to have the windows open and the sun streaming in in the mornings. But I think she misses having someone to play with, since neither Newton nor Blackjack is really capable anymore (though Blackjack is occasionally interested and follows her around at a slower pace).

So we’re starting to think about getting some kittens. Going to five cats in our household seems like a lot – well, we used to have four, so it is a lot – but not knowing how much longer Blackjack and Newton will be around, we wonder whether we should get some playmates (and snooze-mates) for Roulette while she’s still young enough to adjust to them (and, as Debbi says, she kind of deserves it, given the hard sell she put Jefferson and Newton through to get them to accept her). We don’t have any immediate plans, but we’re thinking about it.

Blackjack’s Eye

Blackjack can’t catch a break with his illness, despite having responded to treatment quite well. This past week we noticed that one of his pupils was more dilated than the other, something Debbi says she’s noticed before. The next day we realized that it wasn’t that one eye was more dilated, but that the other eye was less dilated, and that his inner eyelid – the one that closes sideways from the side of his eye near his nose – was partly closed.

While he didn’t seem disturbed by it all – I did some informal tests and he can see out of both eyes – we contacted his vet who’s been treating him for his lymphoma, and she said this is an indication that something may be impinging on his optic nerve, that it may be related to his lymphoma, and that there may not be much we can do. But to keep an eye on him in case he develops symptoms that indicates it might be something else.

Other than some watering from his eye, he’s been behaving pretty normally, so we’re just keeping an eye on him for now.

It’s pretty frustrating, since he’s otherwise been showing signs of getting stronger and more stable lately, and an indication that things might be getting worse is pretty upsetting. But at least he’s still happy and comfortable. He’s been cleverly finding new places to sleep in the unusual heat we’ve had this weekend (he’s the only one of our cats who bothers to find cool places to sleep – Newton and Roulette seek out the heat).

Right now he’s lying on the couch next to me while we watch an old episode of Doctor Who. I think his watering eye bothers him from time to time and he shakes his head to clear it out. But otherwise he still seems pretty happy. Hopefully this will just be a cosmetic incident for some time to come.

He’s a sweet cat, and he really doesn’t deserve all this at such a young age.

Looking Back at 2011

2011 was a mixed bag for us, with some big highs and big lows.

The main high was buying our new house (as well as selling the townhouse, no small accomplishment in this economy). It took us about 3 months of looking, and no small amount of frustration (bidding on and not getting a house we liked, and seeing many other houses we didn’t like) before we found this one at their open house. Debbi is a believer in things that are “meant to be”, and I’m not, but this house is a strong circumstantial argument for such a thing: It’s really perfect for us in location and layout, it’s just what we wanted. And the move went smoothly, even though it took weeks after the move to get the last few items moved from the townhouse

The other high was Debbi’s sabbatical and our trip to Hawaii, where we went to Maui and the big island. This was a great trip which we’ll remember for a long time.

The low, of course, was learning that Blackjack has cancer (lymphoma). He spent 5 weeks getting radiation therapy, followed by 6 months of chemotherapy. He was a good boy through all of it, even though he hated going to the vet. He seemed to be doing pretty well, until we got back from Hawaii when we learned that he’s gone deaf, and he was very wobbly on his feet. That seems to have been the low point for him, and he’s improved since then, almost back to his old self. But we still worry.

Those were the big points of the year. We finished out 2011 with a week off from work (both our companies closed down for the holidays). We spent most of it quietly at home enjoying the house.

We’ve just about got the last room in the house, the dining room, set up. For a while it was just the room with the big tables and all the boxes we hadn’t yet unpacked. Actually it still has 2/3 of the boxes we haven’t unpacked (by which I mean “2 boxes”, the third one is upstairs in the study), but now it has a buffet tables filled with our board games, and we bought a rug for it on Saturday, so it’s looking pretty nice. The cats are enjoying the rug, since it gives them somewhere comfortable to lie where they can look into both the living room and the kitchen.

Blackjack has been doing better this week. We’ve both seen him moving around more swiftly and even starting trouble with Roulette. He’s getting more comfortable jumping, and this weekend he got a little more affection towards Debbi, which she loved since he’s her special cat. But he also likes to go into the smaller spaces in the house (the bathrooms and closets) and meow his head off. He’s always had a really pathetic meow, so when he started doing this we’d go find him to make sure he’s okay, but it seems he just likes to do it. I don’t know if he can hear himself meow, or if he has a bit of tinnitis or similar phenomenon which makes him want to meow, or if he’s just frustrated at his condition and does it to let out some frustration.

Newton, meanwhile, has a cold, and I need to get some meds for him.

Thursday we drove over to Half Moon Bay for breakfast and then went up to San Francisco for ice cream sundaes at Ghirardelli Square. We also went to Borderlands Books, but the cats were not in residence, since they’ve connected the bookstore and cafe and the cats can’t be there until they have a door between the two. Oh well!

We stayed up ’til Midnight on New Year’s, mostly watching the NCIS marathon on the USA network, including many episodes from last season I hadn’t seen. We got visits from two sets of neighbors from our dinner party wishing us a good one and saying how they were happy we’d moved to the neighborhood. We’re glad to be here, it’s nice to have friendly faces around to chat with when we step out the door.

I have a bonus day off today (Debbi’s back at work), and I plan to just take care of a few things around the house and figure out what to make for dinner. And then it’s back to work tomorrow, trying to put back together all the code I tore apart and rewrote during December. (Ahh, nice big code-rewriting projects, always fun and satisfying. But this one has been larger than any of us had anticipated.)

While I can’t say I’m looking forward to figuring out my income taxes this year after everything that went on last year (but hey, that’s why I have a CPA), I’m hoping that 2012 will be less momentous than 2011 was. On balance things are good right now, but I hope we can go a few more years without that sort of disruption again!

Well okay, another trip to Hawaii would be acceptable.

Thanksgiving Week Off

Apple closed down its corporate offices for Thanksgiving week – which it does from time to time, but not every year – so I had the week off. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Last Sunday, Debbi hosted a cookie exchange with some friends. So we had six guests over to exchange cookies. I tried baking peanut butter cookies on Saturday, and they came out good. Next time I want to figure out how to make them chewier, since I like them that way rather than flaky, which this recipe yielded. We had a good time having people over, and Blackjack enjoyed visiting with everyone, too. He surprised us by being able to jump up onto the counter by way of a bar stool, which was more than we thought he was capable of, in his current state.

Unfortunately, over the next couple of days Blackjack’s condition went downhill. Coincidentally, we had a scheduled check-up on Tuesday with the vet that’s been treating his cancer. By Tuesday morning he was very wobbly, having a lot of trouble staying balanced and getting up and down from things. He would jump down from the dining table and lose his footing and splat on the floor. Fortunately he didn’t hurt himself, but we were pretty worried.

The vet is pretty baffled, too. It could be that his cancer has spread to his hindquarters and is affecting his nerves. Or he could have an inner ear problem. Or he could have a problem with his brain. She noticed he had some unusual eye movements, which suggests one of the last two. But we can’t really know for sure without some expensive – and possibly invasive – tests, and even then we might not be sure, and even if we were we might not be able to treat it. So I’m not sure we’re going to do a lot more for him at this point, but try to keep him comfortable. He’s lost some more weight, so the vet put him back on the steroids he was on during his treatment to stimulate his appetite. Of course he loves being pilled.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though: Over the next few days his strength and stability came back, and this weekend he’s seemed almost back to his old self. Not jumping like he used to, but only a little wobbly, and there’s something in his eyes that seems to say that he’s feeling more his he ought to. We may be in for cycles of good days and bad days, but at least he’s having some good days, when he wants to get into trouble and isn’t spending all his time sleeping.

Monday and Tuesday I did some shopping, and hung out at home. I did a couple of Innistrad drafts on Magic Online. My draft Monday was a disaster and I got eliminated in the first round. My Tuesday draft was much better, with a pretty potent vampire deck, but I got eliminated in the second round by someone who had drafted a gimmicky milling deck. I came somewhat close to pulling it off even so, but it was frustrating, as my deck really had no way to deal with his tricks other than to kill him quickly.

Debbi took Wednesday off, so we’ve had a 5-day weekend together. We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home, cooking a 12-pound turkey with the usual trimmings for dinner. Cooking a turkey is a good way to find out how well-calibrated an oven is, I find – I have a long history of overcooking turkeys. Our oven has a built-in probe thermometer which we used, and it works well! The turkey came out just about perfect, and it and all the other food was yummy. We got some pies from Marie Callender’s too.

This weekend we’ve been doing some work on the house. Well, maintenance. We have some accent lights around the yard which had stopped working, but it turned out that they were all just burned-out bulbs and easily replaced. I suspect one of the light units themselves will need replacing sometime soon, as I was having trouble getting the bulb’s leads to connect to it, but fortunately not quite yet. We also replaced one of the bulbs in the recessed lighting in our family room. We have a lot of light fixtures in this house, so I expect we’ll be replacing random bulbs with some frequency. (Though hopefully the fluorescent lights, at least, will last several years each.)

We also bought a Dyson DC25 vacuum cleaner since they’re on sale this weekend and we’ve been wanting to replace our existing vacuum. I tried it out today and it works quite well! We also ordered a new rug for the living room. Now we just need to find the right rug for the dining room…

We’d hoped to get together with our friends Joar and Karin for a meal this weekend, but they we feeling a bit under the weather, as I’ve been since Friday, so we decided to postpone it ’til sometime later. Actually, my under-the-weatherness has been pretty annoying this weekend: Congestion, general lack of energy, like I’m fighting something off. I wish I’d either get sick, or get better. This in-between stuff sucks.

Still and all, it’s been a pretty good vacation, especially because Blackjack’s feeling better.