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Big changes coming.

Which is slightly terrifying because seriously, I tend to not do well with big change. It usually engenders feelings of panic and crankiness and general flailitude in me, and this whole employment thing is no different.

But anyhow, two weeks from today I will no longer be employed. The current plan is for me to finish this semester, take the summer off, then go finish my associate’s degree in the fall. After that, I can transfer to the local 4-year university and finish my bachelor’s, and after that, presumably, I will find gainful employment again.

It’s pretty terrifying, I will admit, but at the same time I feel incredibly blessed that we’re in a position for me to do it. In fact, this whole thing feels kind of like God’s way of saying “Look, you’ve been whining about wanting to finish your bachelor’s degree for years now, lady. GO DO IT. HERE IS YOUR CHANCE.”

In less terrifying changes, this evening I will hopefully pick up two registered Nigerian Dwarf goats, both does, from dairy lines. They’ll be ready to breed next month, and I will probably breed one of them for a fall baby (and milking!) and then breed the other one in fall for a spring baby (and covering our spring/summer milk needs). Since there will be electric netting protecting the goats from predators, once they’ve taken down the brush in a significant area and created more of a pasture, I want to free-range some egg-laying chickens. Really I’m feeling rather homesteady; we’ve got three garden beds planted and one more to do, and I’ve asked the Best Mother Ever for a pressure canner for my birthday so that I can put away some of what we grow without having to pickle everything. It’s as if, since I won’t be providing for the family via working outside the home, I feel like I have to provide with milk and eggs and home-canned, home-grown vegetables.

I am, however, feeling strangely optimistic. Yes, it’s scary that we won’t have health insurance, but I am excited to take the summer off for the first time since I was a teenager. I’m looking forward to finding out what I can do and how much better I’ll feel if I don’t have to get up at 0400 every morning so I can leave for work early enough that traffic isn’t too horrendous on the way home. And I’m really, really glad that I’ll finally have time for all my zillion hobbies: spinning, knitting, dyeing, making soap, &c &c &c.

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Ponderings and Possibilities

I generally try to keep Teh Serious out of this blog. I mean, let us face it, there are any number of Serious Blogs out there where you can read about Serious Things. You can even read about Serious Animal Related things, and if you are looking for a blog that periodically does Serious Dog (and Other Animal) related things, I highly recommend For The Pitbulls over there on the right hand side of the page under “Blogroll.”

But I’m going to break pattern here to tell you that I’ve been having chronic pain issues for years now, and they finally got bad enough over the last year that I went to the trouble of finding a doctor who is knowledgeable and respectful and listens and the consensus is that I probably have fibromyalgia, which for those of you who are not familiar means I am tired a lot, I am in pain a lot, and periodically my brain is somewhere off in left field (probably because I am tired and in pain). I’m seriously pondering getting a cane because of the balance issues I have, especially when I’m tired.

I’m also VERY seriously pondering a puppy this spring. Yes, yes, I can hear you asking if I’m nuts. But this time around I am looking at a Working Dog Puppy, with an eye towards intensively training said puppy to become a Mobile Cane and All Around Mobility Assistant. It will take two years at least, because the dog will not be able to do weight-bearing tasks until his (or her) growth plates have totally fused and he (or she) has been X-rayed and verified as sound orthopedically. There is a possibility I will spend 2 years training said puppy and … have to wash the dog out of training. Which would suck.

But I have researched Service Dog programs here in Virginia, and the two that do service dogs for Wobbly But Ambulatory people will not place a service dog in a home with pet dogs. Well, that’s not going to work, since you can have my pet dogs when you pry my gun from my cold dead fingers. The one program I found that does NOT mention automatically disqualifying people with pet dogs does not do dogs for Wobbly But Ambulatory people, only people who use wheelchairs. Well, crap.

So anyway, there is the possibility of puppy come springtime. I have my eye on a couple litters of German Shepherds due this year, looking for a puppy who is bright, people-oriented, even-tempered, and confident. A puppy who wants to work with a people like Tink wants all the pillows on the futon for her own personal use. A puppy who sees strange things and thinks “Goodness, that is odd, I should ask my person what to do about this.” A puppy who will ignore all the people in the world who think they are freakin clever to meow, bark, and call to service dogs. I will also be talking to various professional dog trainers, because it is always useful to have some professional help with this kind of in-depth, complicated training.

Or maybe I’ll chicken out, because raising a puppy, let alone one you want to be skilled enough to handle public access, is a full-time job in and of itself. We shall see, gentle readers. But there is the possibility of vicarious puppy in your future, and I wanted to warn you in case you can’t handle the cute.

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Actual Conversations That Happen in This House

Daniel: Get off the stove you daft beast!
Me: Just let him lick the roast.
Daniel: No!
Me: It would make him so happy if you let him gum the roast.
Daniel: He is not going to gum the roast.
Me: It’s raw! You’re going to cook it and that will kill the bacteria!
Daniel: He does not get to gum the roast. Just no.
Me: Can he have a teeny piece of it then?
Daniel: Fine. He can have a teeny piece of roast.
Me: It really would make him happy if he could gum the roast.
Daniel: I love you.
Me: Is that “I love you even though you are badgering me about letting the cat gum dinner”?
Daniel: Yes. Yes it is.

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I am a productive beast. In other news, winter is coming.

Yesterday Daniel and I met up with Christine and a couple other people at the Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier, the former home of James Madison (the founding father and former president). We got to watch Border Collies move sheep around, and shop fiber! Daniel, who toils not with fiber neither does he spin, was along to make sure I did not come home with an angora bunny. I want one so badly. Apparently you do not have to comb the fiber off them, but can instead just shear them every three months. Since the fiber goes for $9/oz, roughly, it is extremely economical to have your own bunny if you want angora fiber. But, y’know, I do not need more critters, or at least not a bunny who requires keeping clean and some minimal grooming to avoid mats.

Anyway, I managed to get out of there with merely eight ounces of Blueface Leicester wool top for spinning, in mixed white and brown which should produce a lovely yarn in a manly color that I could conceivably use to knit something for my beloved if I were the kind of person who ever finished a knitting project. But given that I had just acquired eight ounces of alpaca fiber (also in mixed browns and greys) the week before at the state fair, bringing me to a total of one pound of spinning fiber in the last week, I thought I’d better actually get back to spinning, with the end result that I finished two bobbins of purply stuf that Mom likes and plied them for my first ever two-strand plied yarn. Go me! It’s currently drying in the bathroom along with a skein of single-spun white wool which I will dye at some point.

Fall is approaching rapidly. Jeremiah Swakhammer is still awake and moving around, but we shoveled a lot more leaves into his pen to give him a nice insulating blanket for when he decides to go down for the winter. The possums and the raccoon or raccoons (it’s hard to tell if we have more than one coon) are snarfing down dry food in massive quantities on a nightly basis. Romeo and the Patriarch, two of the local toms, have been spotted, and Dreadnought continues to come back. The girls are still the only ones we see in person; Briar Rose has yet to bring us any kittens although the Havahart trap is standing ready.

We’ve decided on a general area for next year’s garden and picked out a chicken coop that we just need to order, Daniel has started a compost pile, and we’re working towards readiness for spring planting and spring chickens. Wood has been split and stacked for winter, the days are noticeably shorter and cooler now.

There will be pictures of all this busy-ness at some point I’m sure, but for the moment I’m too lazy to even do lazyblogging. Which is pretty damn lazy.

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Game-scouting camera: coolest invention ever.

The camera works fantastically but heavy rain has kept my primitive satellite internet from staying up long enough to get the best of yesterday’s pics uploaded last night. Flickr Uploadr is working them now, and I have made myself mildly late for my morning routine to post them just for you!. You can see the night-time pics are all grainy black and white, but they do show you a nice view of the plastic pan lid that serves as a water dish, the aluminum pan that holds the dry cat food, and the legs of the rocking chair and the regular chair, plus the little table the food pan sits under. All that stuff is sitting about six feet away from the camera. If you’re looking for an easy way of taking your pictures at a party or event you can check out inflatable photo booth enclosure with led lights.

A grainy black and white photograph.  A tabby and white cat, Noodlehead, stands with body three quarters to the camera but face directly pointed at it.  Because she's too close, the infrared flash has blown out all detail of her face and chest except her eyes with their enormous pupils.

I’m not sure what attracted Noodlehead’s attention; the camera makes no noise but does have the infrared flash on it as well as a blinking red LED and a green LED that lights steady when it’s taking a picture. It clearly didn’t startle any of the animals, there were four separate possum incidents and a raccoon as well as Noodlehead, Grace, and Briar Rose. What I find kind of neat is that their eyes brilliantly reflect the infrared flash, just as you’d expect with a regular flash.

First Possum:
First Possum.  A skinny possum walks under a rocking chair, stretching its pointy nose to the aluminum cake pan full of dry cat food.

A skinny coon stands next to the feeding dish, looking just over the camera's left shoulder, as it were.

Second Possum, affectionately named “Pudgy Possum” because he’s clearly been nomming quite a bit of cat food:
A fat possum wanders away from the camera, body at a three quarters angle to the camera.  Be grateful I didn't upload all the pictures of possum butt that the camera got in the half hour he was on the porch eating.

Third Possum:
A skinny possum approaches the feeding dish from underneath the rocking chair.

Fourth Possum, note Noodlehead in the background:
A very nice profile shot of a possum headed toward the camera with head turned to keep one eye on Noodlehead, who has evidently just told the possum to get off her porch and stop eating her food.

Five Oh Five Feeding Time:
A woman in a robe, pajamas, and an ankle brace, seen from the waist down as she crouches on the porch to put wet cat food on a plate.  She is just completing a pet on Grace, who is eating from the plate but is mostly unseen due to Noodlehead being in the way.  That's me!

Grace notices the camera:
Grace, a mostly grey and yellow tortoiseshell cat with a little white, crouches at the wet food plate (hidden behind the water dish) and looks straight at the camera, eye lasers engaged.

For the amazing photo booth, we would like to thank Inside Out Booth. Their state-of-the-art photo booths have everything you need to make your party or event one to remember. They will explain everything, and they will customize anything to make your event amazing.

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Well that’s a relief.

News the first: Daniel’s visa has been approved! Excitement abounds in these parts, and we’re setting an actual wedding date and working out his plane ticket and everything.

News the second: Emmett (Astute) and Zeke (Intrepid) came through neutering just fine, and in fact appear to have not noticed they had surgery. Ah, the boundless powers of recovery of kittens! They go home this weekend, starting with Zeke on Saturday and then Badger on Sunday morning and Emmett, last kitten standing, on Sunday afternoon, which means this evening I need to do one more photo shoot.

They’re such amazing little guys, really. Emmett of course has been a non-stop purrbot from day one, but Zeke and Badger have gone from being little balls of hissy hate for all things human to enthusiastically curious and friendly and adorable kittens. Although they are looking much less kitteny already, these days they look more like little miniature cats. And while I can’t wait for life to return to semi-normal here, I’m going to miss the little buggers. Emmett is the very image of his mama Emmaline, only with the coloring of Romeo (with added tabby stripes–will he grow out of them? I don’t know.), right down to the adorable wee back-curved ears that look a little like devil horns. Badger is a small pile of stripey, fluffy, snuggly goodness, with the most amazing long eyelashes and of course adorable white toes in front. Zeke is just more of a handsome bastard every day, his straight profile and larger ears very reminiscent of the build of an “Oriental” body-type breed like the Siamese or the Cornish Rex, but covered in a soft, long coat that features Bengal-type stripes and spots.

I’m hoping their new owners keep me posted as they grow into adult cats, and I get to see them become huge and indolent beasts who take over their new households with rampaging demands for love and playtime.

News the third: the Best Mother Ever will be here today, hooray! Because now that we know when Daniel will be arriving, we can do actual wedding stuff.

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Kitten update, again.

Emmett (Astute) and Zeke (Intrepid) go in to get neutered this week, the scarf sale topped off funds enough for it! Yay! There’s still three left if you feel the urge to own one! I drop them off Tuesday night, they get snipped on Wednesday, and I pick them up on Thursday, vax’d and neutered and ready to go. Badger needs to go in to get vax’d, the little bugger can’t get neutered because one testicle hasn’t bothered to descend yet, but his new person has graciously agreed to take him anyway and we will work out the neutering later. Hopefully I can set up times to get the other two boys into their new homes this weekend, too!

This weekend won’t be a moment too soon, I’m really fond of the little hairy buggers, who have gone from being little fearful feral beasties to small cats who purrbomb you the minute you step into the room, seriously. I am so proud of how they’ve come around!

Next up, getting Emmaline spayed and continuing the quest to integrate her into the household, and figuring out how to get a pregnant cat to a friend of mine in Illinois. No rest for the wicked! Oh, and Daniel’s interview is Thursday, and school starts the 19th, so life is about to get really, really exciting on top of the usual cat- and dog-related excitement. Wish me luck!

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Tuesday round up?

The Three Musketeers all visited the vet yesterday, Emmett (Astute) and Badger have had stuffy noses and runny eyes. Zeke (Intrepid) just had light nose crusties, but I figured whatever the other two had, well, he probably had it too. The vet diagnosed your average viral URI (Upper Respiratory Infection) with secondary bacterial infection, so now twice a day I am squirting Clavamox down kitten throats. Woo. Luckily they are young enough to be forgiving, and have forgotten about it 10 seconds later.

I’ve had a request for Jeremiah Swakhammer update, so here you go: he is being a turtle. This means I see him about twice a week; I just drop off the salad and it gets eaten or it doesn’t. Meanwhile, he shuttles between the two hides I made (one of which he enlarged) and a place in the compost pile in the middle of his pen with occasional stops for a dip in his pool. Truth to tell, he’s the least troublesome of my current inmates, and I find I’m really fond of his quiet non-demanding lifestyle. The most care he requires is some chopped salad and the occasional batch of slugs, snails, or worms tossed into his pen, plus a light spray-down to keep his place moist. Compared to the rest of the beasts here, that’s fantastic. Oh, and he ate the leaves on his cantaloupe vine and then dug up the stem and stomped it. Right, message received: no more canteloupe vines for you, Mr. Swakhammer.

Meanwhile, Emmaline started aggressively attacking the resident cats in an attempt to bogart all the food. I realize she grew up under circumstances that make guarding food sources seem quite urgent, but still, that behavior isn’t going to fly. I moved her to the bathroom, and she proceeded to remove some of the linoleum. I have ordered her a cat cage to live in while I figure out what on earth to do with her. It’s kitten season so I suspect the odds of finding her a great home where she can be a single cat, or even a multi-cat home that free feeds from a couple widely-separated stations, are slim to none. I hate to send her back outside, but she was admittedly pretty happy there. Unfortunately she also appears to be coming into heat, so she can’t go outside for another couple weeks anyway until after she’s been spayed. Meanwhile, she’s living in Zille’s crate. Zille is not amused.

The rest of the Usual Suspects are having a fine old time now that the weather has cooled off enough for extensive dog-play outside and for me to have windows open in the house; the cats love to sit at the screens and sniff the great outdoors. I’m chugging along, Daniel’s interview is in 9 days, school starts in 2 weeks, and there’s wedding planning to do. No rest for the wicked!

Have a happy link, via Rinalia at For the Pit Bulls: three stray dogs who were adopted by soldiers in Afghanistan thwart a suicide bomber; one dog dies in the blast and the other two get homes in the US with grateful soldiers.

Oh, and my spamtrap for the blog here has evidently decided that EVERYONE with a website link is a spammer. If you comment and it seems that nothing happens, please be patient, I’ll release your comment from the spambucket as soon as I can!

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I thought of several titles for this…

…but all of them would have gotten me a bunch of google hits I did not want.

I was having horrifying muscle spasms in my back and shoulders last night, so I tried to take a nice relaxing bath. Tried.

First the Three Musketeers sat on the edge of the tub and stared at me. Then they batted at the water. Then Astute and Zeke (the artist formerly known as Intrepid, his new people have selected a new name for him) decided to try to snuggle.

It did not end well. How I avoided getting scratched I do not know, but I did get both boys out of the bath water before they drowned. They proceeded to deluge the bathroom. Badger, bless him, just sat on the edge of the tub and hung his front paws down to soak his adorable white toes. I guess he wants help keeping them clean.

I have now moved the kittens to my bedroom. The only problem is, it makes me afraid to go to sleep. I am writing this the night before; if you don’t hear from me again it’s because the kittens got me.

EDITED TO ADD: I ended up having to sleep on the futon. See, Tink and Roo both have to sleep with me, and we ended up with a situation where Tink wanted to play with the kittens. Zeke (formerly Intrepid) was being cute and playing with Tink, but this meant there was a lot of bouncing going on from beings of various weight classes. Meanwhile, Badger and Astute wanted to play with Roo, who wanted none of it. They cornered him under the bed and laughed at his hideous noises of disapproval. I gave up and moved into the living room with Tink and Roo and just hope my bedroom survived the night.

Meanwhile, this post from a totally different Roo over at This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things totally made my morning already. And it’s only 0430.