Goodbye, Elrond

A week or so ago we decided that Elrond had declined to the critical point. Marmaduke came over and said goodbye on Saturday, and X2 did so on Sunday, and then we looked at our schedules and Robin’s. Ron and I took the day off, and this morning we took him for the last trip to the vet’s.

Since Eowyn’s last trip there, they’ve upgraded one of the rooms, so it’s more like a small tiled living room than an examination room. As before, the staff were all very nice.

And then we came home and everybody’s been unhappy, including Pippin (who we took with us).  I think I’ve actually been better, now that it’s done with, than I’ve been the last few days.

Monday night Ron made the comment that he figured it would be a month or less before we’d have another dog. I agreed. I’d mentioned Shiba Inus earlier in the evening, but Ron made a comment about them being small. Which is germane, because then breeds came up. Robin said he wanted friendly. I want whatever Pippin is, but since he’s a mystery, I’m pretty much out of luck. Ron brought up beagles. I found the local beagle rescue.

We looked at the available dogs, and found Polly.  We filled out the on-line adoption application Monday, were supposed to have a phone interview with “our” Adoption Coordinator tonight, but that has to be re-scheduled to Friday or Saturday due to an issue on the Adoption Coordinator’s end.

I did point out that Beagles aren’t any bigger than Shibas. Ron didn’t argue.  🙂

Another Bullet-Point Update

I really don’t mean to keep forgetting to blog, but here we go again.  Since the last post, on January 22nd:

  • I have obtained a backpack for future short trips.  The next expected one is the floodplain managers’ conference in March, which will be two nights, in Bloomington, to which I am taking Amtrak again.
  • MuseCon grid build on the 24th was not going to happen, so I stayed home and worked on things for Military History Fest. Also did not attend the follow-up on the 8th.
  • Military History Fest was the 30th through the 1st, at Pheasant Run. Yes, the weekend of the big snowstorm. In 20/20 hindsight we should have packed up Saturday night, and taken the trailer, etc. home then. But we didn’t, see the Otter Blog if you want more natter about that.
  • Biffed a curb Sunday morning of that weekend with the Kia on the way to Pheasant Run, couple days later noticed a shimmy in the steering wheel and slight pull to the left.
  • Spent the 7th baking for the Capricon Cafe. IIRC it was 3 ginormous (4x) batches of bacon-cheddar scones, and 2 ginormous batches of Heath Bar scones.
  • For future reference, that’s the basic King Arthur Flour scone recipe, using sour cream for the dairy, and 1/2 of a big GFS bag of Heath Bar chips – 5-6 cups. Bake the at the same temp as the bacon-cheddar scones, for 25 minutes (5 less than bacon-cheddar). Total: 5-6 dozen scones
  • Heath Bar scones are really really good.
  • Robin made a triple batch of banana bread (5 loaves).
  • That took 5 pounds of margarine, a stupid-size tub of sour cream, and about 4 dozen eggs, about half of a 25-pound bag of pastry flour, a big bag of bacon pieces, most of a bag of shredded cheese,  and a big hand of bananas.
  • On Sunday we moved Elrond’s crate to the living room, since he’d stopped coming upstairs, and was getting more and more fussy if he couldn’t sit on the couch.
  • He only had to be shown where his crate was once, and remembered.
  • He still prefers the couch, but now has somewhere to go when he can’t have it.
  • Wednesday I dropped the Kia off at John & Scott’s (see above).
  • One rim bent, front tires worn to wear bars, one rear tire suffering belt slippage, so since they can’t match the other rear tire, that’s 4 new tires and a new rim. I’d probably have had them replace the 4th tire anyway.
  • Also need to replace (front) ball joint, and yes, need an alignment job.
  • And the oil change I requested.
  • They won’t get the rim until Monday, which is OK, since I have Monday off.
  • Ouch. I was pretty much expecting to need new front tires, but was hoping for just those, alignment, and an oil change. I expect the bill to be $850-ish.
  • Because of a scheduling issue on the part of the hotel, I helped set up the Cafe Thursday, since I had the day off.
  • Because of time off issues as a result of the ‘flu in December, I’m not taking any time off for Cap.
  • Last time we boarded Elrond, the dropping-off process was stressful, so not taking time off means the dogs can stay at home with me.
  • The scones, both flavors, seem to have survived freezing and subsequent thawing fine.
  • I had to work yesterday.
  • Today and tomorrow I’m working on the program book for the floodplain managers’ conference.
  • Last night I got an e-mail that I’m taking to mean that the conference chair had gone into labor. This was not unexpected, and AFAIK not an emergency. Hopefully labor is done and baby and mother are happy and healthy.
  • Will be taking a break tomorrow to pick up Ron, since I took the truck after helping with Cafe setup, and Robin will be going with Dave to help unload all the A/V equipment into Dave’s locker, which Ron would rather skip.
  • On the way home Thursday I stopped at Fresh Fields, at the corner of Dundee and Milwaukee.
  • I was expecting a Whole Paycheck-style store.
  • Nope, more like Eurofresh on steroids.
  • Escaped with just pork for stir-fry, polish sausage, and thin-sliced short ribs.
  • Made rice pilaf with the pork (because there were no reasonably-sized packages of chicken thighs) Thursday night.
  • Had the polish sausage last night, and some of the leftovers diced up in an omelet this morning (2 really big sausages – about 4 average-sized sausage equivalent).
  • Short ribs are marinating, to be something like Korean-style. Which I’ve never had, thus “something like”.
  • This morning Duckon announced on Facebook that there will be no Duckon this year, but working on 2016.
  • I have my doubts they will pull off a convention in 2016, but I wish them luck. Really. I’m sad/sorry that Duck has been having problems.
  • The dogs have taken control of the couch, and are sound asleep. Unless/until I move toward the kitchen, of course.
  • And now, I think it’s time to get back to the program book.


Catching Up

Oops, I see its been over a month since I last posted. I blame the journal app I got for the iWhatsit (Day One). So to recap:
 Mid-September: Cleaned the dining room and the front entry. I can now use the dining room, and the doorway between the front entry and dining room is actually passable. IIRC I posted on the Otter Blog about it.
 Late September – Early October: The HVAC system at work went berzerk. It was up over 90 degrees F for a couple days. It still isn’t exactly fixed, but it is back to the same chronic state of not-quite-broken we’ve been living with for something like 10 years now. Low bid system, etc. etc.
 Various personal things were personal things. There’s been angst and ups and downs and Ron’s gotten really sick of not getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night. I suppose we should just admit than the term I’m avoiding is “insomnia”.
 Otter Necessities stuff has been happening. See the Otter Blog for that.
 Also for making chocolate babka. Or rather, marzipan-chocolate babka. Yum yum yum.
 Pippin is Pippin. Elrond is old, weak in the back end, has questionable vision, and is more or less senile. Back-end weakness means we’ll be replacing throw rugs at some date in the future, but for the moment he seems comfortable and reasonably happy, so we’ll put off the replacing of the throw rugs, thankyouverymuch.
 Been calling arborists today to see about getting the Tree of Damocles removed. The one right by the power and phone lines to the house. Fortunately, the neighbors are OK with having the work done from their side of the fence (which is only inches from the tree, at best). Yes, finally. I didn’t realize how long it had actually been since the Tree of Damocles incident.
 Guitar and banjo lessons are going well. I’m up to playing 5 of my 6 strings, and I expect to be formally introduced to string #6 in tomorrow night’s lesson. Working on learning “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”. Got the triplets (faster) down, now working on the slower bits (which involve things very like chords, except they only involve two strings at a time, not 3+, and which initially broke my brain when I tried to wrap it around actually playing two notes at a time – in theory was fine, execution not so much).
 Robin seems to be one of the more dependable employees at “his” Little Caesar’s, including understanding the operation, disassembly, and reassembly of dough-mangling machines. AFAIK he hasn’t learned to run the register/customer service yet, because he’s been too busy trying to keep up with making dough, pizzas, and doing dishes. See above, re: dependable.
 We’ve discovered that there’s a pretty good Indian restaurant 2 or 3 doors down from Little Caesar’s. Unassuming/unimpressive little hole-in-the-wall with the simple name “Indian Bistro”, but clean, the food is good, abundant, and more or less cheap. Ron and I like the Aloo 65, which I’ve taken to calling “danger potatoes”, which are bright screaming red, spicy, and served with raw onions. The (vegetable) samosas are big. Like half a pasty in size.
 Last week I was watching something Bollywood while waiting for our food. Not sure what was happening because I don’t speak Hindi (I assume it was Hindi), but I was able to identify the smart (-aleck) kid, the heroine in the form of his beautiful older sister or mom, bumbling pickpockets who were outwitted by the kid, auntie/grandma and her comic-relief spouse (gargling floor cleaner instead of mouthwatch, thanks to kid), handsome hero (possibly kid’s dad?), and the Other Woman who the hero was romancing at that point. And then there were the musical numbers. I have no clue what they were about, I really don’t know the tropes. But they rival, no, exceed, any of the big Hollywood musical production numbers.
 I think . . . I think I need to watch some more Bollywood stuff, with subtitles. I expect American pop culture is equally inexplicable if you don’t know the language.
 Saturday night we went to see “Young Frankenstein”, the musical, at Cutting Hall. It was pretty good. It wasn’t a complete re-do of the movie, but it was clearly a direct descendant. Ron, Xap, and I all want to know how in the world they were stuffing all those sets back in the wings. We’ve been back there, we know how much room there . . . isn’t. And nobody was bitten by bats.
 Saturday and Sunday we worked on garb, a vest for Xap that didn’t go quite as planned, and had the side seams and front buttons replaced with lacing. But it came out pretty well, I think. Xap did the majority of the work, I advised, did a little pressing, and some top-stitching.
 Cut a Folkwear-pattern vest out of muslin, and tried it on Ron and Robin. It fit Robin with relatively minor changes needed. Not so much Ron. Teslacon is coming soon, so I didn’t want to wait to mail-order a pattern that went larger for Ron, but Reconstructing History had one I could download, print, and tape together. Which we did. And despite adding 4″ in length, it still was too short, too tight in the arms, and needed other changes. Printed out another copy to go up one size, decided what additional changes to make, and Ron and I have been puzzling over the collar. Today, after fussing about with muslin pieces and puzzling some more over the directions, I determined that the pattern and directions for the collar are . . . pretty much useless.
 I did find one blog/review about the pattern, and the author also had collar capital-I Issues. I’m going to have to come up with the collar on my own. I think I can do it, but it annoys me.
 3rd annual staff meeting for work on Thursday. Meeting stuff in the morning, in the afternoon we’ll be seeing the a project to burn off coal tar underground/under water (I think) in the City of Ottawa, IL.
 – Posted using software from hardware

The Rest of the Weekend

“The Rest of the Weekend” sounds a little odd, since the weekend ended with set construction, but that was the big event for the weekend.
 Friday night I had to use up a hour of comp time, somI got home early. We hit several thrift stores looking for black dress slacks and/or a black suit coat for Ron, but struck out. We ate dinner out, did a little more shopping and home to order finger- and thumb picks.
 Saturday morning Robin was gone to work for Modelmaker at the Farmer’s Market before we woke up. We got breakfast, then went to Men’s Wearhouse, to get a pleated-front dress/tux shirt, black bow tie, and get Ron measured so we could order a Prince Charlie jacket to wear with his new kilt.
 Wow, that was a fail. We got the shirt and bow tie . . . And more. Let’s see, the shirt needed studs and cuff links, and here’s amp norther set of nifty cuff links on sale.
 A vest; and dress slacks, which are being tailored (in for a sheep…). Then I found nice blue linen semi-casual short-sleeved shirts on sale, so we got Ron one. And then I called Robin, who confirmed he could use a new nice shirt, so one for him, too.
 Bow ties: one in a plaid that’s an almost perfect color match for Ron’s kilt. And this orange one with blue dots would look really good with Robin’s new shirt. Ties are buy one, get one half-off, so what else looks nice? Yellow paisley, that’s what.
 Men’s Wearhouse didn’t have Oxfords to fit Ron (really wide), but there’s a place just across the street that has extended widths. So now Ron has, after umpty years, a nice pair of dress shoes. And a new pair of the slip-on loafers he wears most days.
 And I even succumbed to the lure of shoe-shopping. They pair of nice but not actually dressy shoes liked best didn’t come wide enough, and the >$300 ones were way too rich for my blood, but I did find another very comfy pair of OMG they actually fit me women’s shoes I like. But they didn’t have the brown I wanted, so I don’t actually have possession yet. But soon.
 Did some more shopping after that, a little for fi pun, but also a new battery for Otter’s UPS, and a second UPS to use at events. Then back tomexchange the battery for one that’s actually the right form factor, oops.
 Home, where I decided to practice guitar in the air-conditioning, and work on the MuseCon program book once it hopefully cooled off in the afternoon/evening, except I was ambushed by a nap, so not so much program book got done as I intended, what with all the shopping We hadn’t planned on to start the day.
 And we did order a Prince Charlie jacket. So Imsuspect Ron will be the best-dresses cast member. Which was really an excuse for the good clothes he needed anyway.
 Sunday was also not quite according to plan, which was breakfast, then home to work on the program book by me and Otter stuf by Ron until evening and set construction.
 The problem was the piece(s) of breakfast that utterly jammed in the lap band constriction, to the point of not even water going down. So off to the surgeon’s office at the St. Alexis hospital in Elk Grove, where one of the Physician’s Assistants was doing rounds. She pulled fluid out of the band, allowing the traffic jam to un-jam, then re-filled it, mostly.
 My upper digestive tract and throat were/are Very Annoyed, so liquids/very squishy food until tomorrow. So that meant a stop at the store for soup, etc.
 I did get a fair bit done on the book, but not quite ready for proofreading yet. I don’t have rehearsal tonight, so I should be able to finish it off.
 Dogs are pretty much recovered from the excitement last weekend, although still a couple/few days of antibiotics left. Elrond woke Ron up early this morning, almost making it up onto the bed (thunderstorms), and after Ron boosted his back end up, he later snuggled up to me. So I had both dogs. At least this time they were both on the same side of me.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Mostly Weekend Natter

Quick note on the previous post: it was actually written on Friday, although not posted until Saturday morning.
 Titanic Natter
 That clarified, Friday’s dance rehearsal went reasonably well. I’m one of a grou in a line (or two) behind the people actually dancing, doing some very simple steps. The choreographer has not, IMO really grokked the whole edge-of issues relating to the platform(s) we’ll be on, but they’ll get resolved some way/how.
 Ordered my shoes and Ron’s kilt Saturday morning, both were delivered yester, yay! We need to make a longer sporran hanger, butthat’s well within our capabilities. We also . . . bought a sporran. Yes, I know, but it has decent fur (although only rabbit), and a proper metal cantle, which I have not obtained any of or designed for yet. And it was on sale, <$30. So worth it on the time vs. Price curve.
 Spent Saturday morning and early afternoon working on the MuseCon program book. Then a MuseCon meeting at 2:00. After the meeting we hit Guitar Center to see if they had any thumb picks that would fit Ron better or allow more adjustment than the one he has. Nope, same brand as what he got from Sam Ash. A clawhammer (banjo technique) video did follow him home, though. On-line shopping is probably the next step in the thumb pick quest.
 Sunday I intended to spend the day on the MuseCom book. The dogs changed those plans.
 Canine Chaos
 While I was in the shower Sunday morning there was a noise you don’t want to hear if you own huskies: the scream/squeal. Elrond had gotten mad at Pippin. Robin is adult/alpha enough they broke it up when he yelled and intervened.
 Pippin seemed fine, just pawing at the right side of his muzzle – I actually suspect bee sting rather than a result of anything Elrond did.
 Not sure what the cause of the altercation was. Robin had already picked up Elrond’s uneaten breakfast. He ate very little dinner Friday night, and his abdomen seemed tight to Ron, but not sore. His previous UTI symptoms have been not eating, soreness, and grumpy, so Ron and I took him to the vet.
 Urine test didn’t show anything, but if we caught a UTI early enough it wouldn’t. Briefly discussed X-rays to see what’s up with the possible tumor on his spleen seen last year, but since at 14 we wouldn’t put him through surgery anyway, we decided to try a course of antibiotics for the possible UTI.
 Got home, and Robin said Pippin had a very sore ear. Right ear was grungy, left ear was very messy, with blood, and definitely painful. I figured it was an ear infection (Eowyn got them most spring/early summers, so I know what they look like), so off Pippin and I went, back to the vet’s. Ron had a migraine, and Pip has no trouble getting in the car, so Ron stayed home.
 Not ear infection, just normal/grubby ears. And a hole in the left ear. Just about the size to be from one of Elrond’s canines (we’d mentioned the squabble when we had Elrond in), which was bleeding/draining. No stitches, just a cleaning (and since we were there, the annual blood draw for his epilepsy meds), home with antibiotics, drops, and anti-inflammatoryies/painkillers. And the observation that he can be a drama queen.
 Huskies, in my experience, are either incredibly stoic, or drama queens. And the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Actually, the husky scream/squeal mentioned above is only bad when coupled with other problem noises. Other times it’s just a sign of drama.
 Ear is much less painful now, I can look and Ron applied drops last night with only an annoyed reaction.
 Eventually I did get some work done on the program book.
 Learning Guitar
 Flailed away at my guitar on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. Working on playing single notes to start with, hopefully as I do more my left ring finger will gain some more flexibility and chords will be less intimidating/difficult.
 Picked up an ebook about classical guitar, which explained that The Rules of classical guitar are only nylon/gut strings and other XYZ instrument characteristics, only this way of sitting, holding, hand positions, blah blah blah fishcakes. Yeah yeah, whatever. And I’m going to do it on my improper steel-stringed guitar anyway. (Although I do understand some of The Rules have Reasons, some are purely arbitrary, if not downright snobby). As long as I like how it sounds, I don’t care if it gives the purists conniption fits.
 That said, the book in question assumes a little more ability to find particular notes than where I’m at yet, so still working from another very-beginner book. But at least as of last night I could produce not-un recognizable versions of “Jingle Bells” and the basic/simplified melody of “Ode to Joy” – of which I un-simplified a couple bits, because I grok sixteenth notes, thanks.
 My mandolele called out to me Saturday night after I decided I’d passed the point of useful practicing on my guitar. So I spent some time with it, playing stuff I already know for ukulele. All chords, which is another reason to not start guitar with chords, I don’t need to get the two sets of chords confused.
 Today (Tuesday)
 Taking a day off. I just finished dishes, now editing this entry, which was mostly written yesterday. Robin is cleaning up the living room, prepatory to the Cleaning Fairies’ visit later this morning. When he gets on a roll, he does a good job.
 And Robin’s working on emptying the big freezer so it can be defrosted. Yesterday he plugged in the smaller one in the basement, and transferred some things to it. Other things were taken out to eat this week. And he’s declared that we’ll be eating sides/vegetables from the freezer.
 Now to work on the MuseCon book.
 – Posted using software from hardware

Life with Dogs; and Ice Cream

At about quarter to four this morning, Elrond was making a strange noise in his crate. Ron turned on his iFlashlight, and found Elrond apparently bonking his head into the back wall of his crate.

Actually, he was burying his rabbit. A real rabbit. A real, dead rabbit. A real, dead rabbit that he’d brought into the house put in the back of his crate, and covered up – the bonking of the head into the wall was a side effect of pulling the blankets over the rabbit.  It had been dead long enough to be stiff, and when I commented that Eowyn would have eaten it, Ron said its face was gone.  But it hadn’t made a mess in the crate (or anywhere else in the house that we saw).

Ron kept him (and Pippin) out of the crate while I fetched a garbage bag, and then Ron was cruel, mean, and heartless, and stole Elrond’s rabbit (ie: took it out to the wheelie-bin). Then we closed up the crate and went back to bed for a little while. Sleep was done for, though (the first alarm goes off at 5:30).

We may be a little strange. Instead of getting upset about a dead rabbit in our bedroom, we told Elrond how clever he was to catch a rabbit, and apologized for taking it away.

We’re actually not sure if Elrond caught the rabbit or not. Another plausible scenario is that Pippin caught it, but lost interest when it wasn’t any fun to play with any more (ie: died).

A little later we had Robin wipe down the inside of the crate, and the dog blankets from throughout the house (because if you’re going to wash one or two dog blankets, you might as well do all of them) were put in the washer with a slug of bleach.

In other doggy news, Elrond likes his canned food. After a day or two we did have to get him a new bowl, which wouldn’t slide around so much. One of these, from . . . wait for it . . . Crate and Barrel. Yeah, that store’s been a habit lately.  Its a nice bowl. I’m thinking I might get two or four (they sell four-packs at a slight discount over four individuals), since the Roscoe dinnerware doesn’t include serving bowls, and this is a reasonably similar shape.  They’d replace the big Corelle bowls that didn’t get packed up with the other Corelle, because sometimes big bowls are useful. There’s also a 12″ version, which I think is too big, and a couple other sizes that are deeper.

Oooh, hey, I just found a couple platters that would go with the Roscoe (discontinued, I suspect the Roscoe line is a replacement), in pale blue and coffee brown.  Decisions decisions . . . the blue was on sale. I got both. The Corelle platter can be packed up once they arrive.

So, on to ice cream. I found a recipe for coffee coconut ice cream not too long ago, and it sounded good – I love the smell of coffee, and I like coffee ice cream, just not coffee as a beverage. It used coffee, raw sugar, and coconut milk. At Eurofresh last night I found coconut cream, which is thickened, sweetened coconut milk. The recipe seemed light on the coffee, so we used two 15-ounce cans of coconut milk, and IIRC about 12 ounces of coffee (about the tasty liquid/cream proportions of the beer ice cream), some vanilla, and a tiny bit of salt. The coconut cream was sweet enough that sugar was unnecessary

Unfortunately, as freezing started, the coconut oil separated and was forming globs on the surface. So we added egg yolks and cooked to make a custard. We mis-remembered the beer ice cream proportions and only did 4 yolks instead of six. Chilled over night, and this morning it had separated again. I think at this point we’re abandoning it to Robin to remove the solid coconut oil and have the liquid as creamed iced coffee. I would have thought that 4 egg yolks would have been enough to emulsify a quart and a bit of liquid, apparently not.

Next attempt will probably be coffee and standard coconut milk, plus sugar. A couple-few years ago we made ice cream with mango nectar and coconut milk (roughly 50-50), and a good shot of lime juice, and it was trouble free. And yummy.

There may even be coffee ice cream waiting for me when I get home tonight, since Ron has the day off. He and Robin were going to the storage locker this morning to shift some things around, and then AFAIK had no plans for most of the day.

Flatware, Rock River Trip, Dogs, Etc.

We went to Crate & Barrel and looked at flatware on Friday evening. Nothing quite did it for us.

Sunday morning I found a manufacturer’s name on the flatware we have that we like, and started searching. Checked the manufacturer’s website and couldn’t find it. After plowing through many pages of pictures of Reed & Barton flatware at, I found the pattern: Newport Beach. Confirmed suspicion that its been discontinued.

Meanwhile, Robin had sorted all our flatware, and inventoried the Newport Beach. The good news was that to have settings for eight, we were only short one dinner fork, one knife, and two “soup” spoons (we never use them for soup, usually just for serving). Replacements had all those pieces, so rounding out those was cheaper than buying new flatware. Unfortunately, we don’t have a meat fork, ladle, pie server, or larger serving spoons, and the price for those was more than I wanted to pay.

We solved that by going back to Crate and Barrel, and experiencing quite a bit of frustration. Maybe I should have sucked it up and paid for the matching pieces. The two basic buy-single-piece open stock flatware patterns Crate and Barrel carries don’t include pie servers and ladles. What the flippetty-flip-flip?!?

Looking at serving sets for other patterns, they were all missing various things. So I got a couple serving spoons and serving fork in the “Fusion” pattern (brushed and round end, so clearly not-matching the Newport Beach flatware), and finally found a pie server and ladle not part of any other pattern.

Meanwhile Ron was looking at teacups and saucers for an Otter Necessities project.

And we forgot to get a couple-few more large dinner plates, oops.

Backtracking to Saturday, after the MuseCon meeting, we went to a party at a friend’s. We took not-Guinness ice cream, which was pretty good – made with the Guinness-like stout or porter we got at Emmett’s a couple-three weeks ago. Robin spent most of the day at Northwestern U. at a German immersion day.

Monday and Tuesday (as in two days ago and yesterday), I drove all over the Rock River floodplain, between Moline and Rock Falls, although mostly in the 25 miles-ish closer to Moline.  Including driving there and back, we put over 500 miles on the pool car.

Monday started with extra excitement, when the SUV my co-workers from Springfield were driving blew its transmission about 25 miles south of Moline. It actually all worked out OK, as I got there at the perfect time to pick them up (in relation to the tow truck having finished loading up their truck). I was driving a Taurus wagon, so there was enough room for the three of us and our belongings, and we didn’t have to either go back to Moline to pick up another vehicle or take both of them to Sterling (our end-point) yesterday. But somebody did have to drive up to Sterling from Springfield yesterday to retrieve them. Why Sterling? So that my co-workers could wait at our office at Sinissippi dam. (OK, actually Rock Falls, but even though the office for Sinissippi dam is on the Rock Falls side, everybody in our department says “Sterling”) Which didn’t actually turn out to be necessary, but it was a good plan.

Monday was craptastic weather for inspections – snow, sometimes heavy, and fog. Not great for visibility. And lots of time in/around swamps and sloughs. Cheery . . . not. Yesterday was still chilly, but at least it was sunny. Things looked better, although in part that was because we were on the higher sides of the river. But even the harvested/tilled fields looked better in the sun.

Yesterday was Cleaning Fairy day, so I got home to a clean house. Yay!

In minor bird-nerdery, over the two days I saw, in particular, a juvenile Bald Eagle, what I’m pretty sure are American Wigeon, a flock of American Coots (more than one of my co-workers has ever seen in one bunch), American White Pelicans, and lots of terns/sandpipers, Great Blue Herons, generic ducks, swans, Canada Geese, and assorted Little Brown Birds (see above re: swamps and sloughs). The pelicans and coots were at the dam. The pelicans are big. I thought they were swans until I saw the long bills.

Upset tummy today, I think its complaining about insufficient fruit/vegetables Monday and Tuesday, hopefully not something I ate.

Pippin snubbed me, as expected, last night, but not too much. Then he and Elrond were clearly happy to have everybody home, so they spent most of the night playing, with Pippin frequently attacking me and Ron.

Which reminds me, I think it was sometime early Saturday morning that Elrond fell off the stairs, which are open on one side for about the bottom 2/3. Fortunately, he landed on a pile of coats that have crawled out of the front hall closet. He couldn’t get out, because of other things in the way, and probably the mushiness of the pile, so he was happy when Ron found him and dug him out, but was apparently comfortable, as he wasn’t any more stiff than normal.  That explained why Pippin had been restless – I think he was checking on Elrond and/or trying to apply a clue-by-four to me. Yes, the coats are piled back up. Just in case it happens again.

Still Here, Been Busy

If you read the Otter blog you’ll understand why I haven’t been posting here much. Busy busy busy, making all the things.

Survived the trip to Springfield. In was dull. Monday I go to the Quad Cities area, another overnight trip, to inspect various things in the floodplain of the Rock River. Because I love the Rock River study so very very much, yes I do (yes, it was the reason I’ve went to Springfield twice this year already).

The preserved kumquats are sitting on the kitchen counter, doing whatever it is they do. I don’t think “fermenting” is really accurate, I don’t think anything could actually ferment in that much salt and acid.

Last week the salad bowls (and a set of bamboo salad plates that went with one of them, which I’d forgotten about) went to their new home. A week ago today I got home and found Ron and Robin busily engaged in packing up the “good” Noritake stoneware. That and some of the mugs and things we’d packed previously are now in storage. Still haven’t put down the new shelf liner yet.

Xap and X2 were over Sunday (inventory for Otter Necessities), and we fed them lunch (pot roast). In the evening we were discussing plates, and Ron and I both were thinking that it would be nice to have some full-sized dinner plates for guests, serving, etc. So we went out and got 4 of the “Roscoe”dinner plates, in yellow. I debated if we wanted the off-white, so the plates would be shades of grey, but Ron and Robin pointed out that the off-white is still too close to the white square bowls, which is why we got various colors to start with. The big plates aren’t available in the light blue, so we got yellow.  They’re parked on the top shelf of the cupboard, to discourage everyday use.

Ron was also looking at flatware, but I didn’t see anything I liked. Not that we actually need new flatware, but our collection is kind of motley. We have two patterns, one of which I do like but have no clue where it originally came from (handed on from family), plus assorted odds and ends.

Speaking of flatware, Sunday morning I made the mistake of actually looking at the organizer in the silverware drawer. What has been seen cannot be unseen, so when lunchtime came, most of the silverware was in a (mostly-sorted) pile on the counter, and the organizer was in the dish drainer, looking much less scary. It isn’t a good fit for the drawer and has been hacked down to fit, was cheap to start with, and is getting pretty old, so I need to stop at the Container Store and see if I can find something better (not much to choose from at Crate and Barrel, I looked when we were there for the plates).

Elrond hasn’t been wanting to eat lately, unless/until he gets yogurt on his (dry) food. Robin theorized that he doesn’t like/is having issues with crunchy, since he hasn’t been happy with dog cookies, either. I was at the store for more dog food yesterday, and got him some canned food and chewy treats along with another bag of dry food. The new food and treats are a success so far, so the new meal plan is canned food in the morning, and dry with yogurt in the evenings. He’s between 13 and 14 years old, so he’s earned the right to be fussy about food.

I’m Back

So, that was the last couple weeks.

Surgery was a week ago today. I took Thursday of last week off for the clear liquid diet and other surgery prep that was more comfortable at home.

Surgery was initially scheduled for 12:30. About mid-day Thursday the hospital called and moved me up to 9-ish – a change in exact time was expected, and earlier was fine with me, less time to wait. Then later in the afternoon they called again, back to noon. (with arrival times 2 hours pre-surgery). Ok, whatever.

About 7:00 Friday morning, while Ron was out getting breakfast and I was packing up my CPAP and change of clothes, the phone rang. My gut said it was the hospital again. It was. Could I be there at 8:00?  Yeah, I can. Fortunately, Ron was about a block away, so we finished packing up and off we went.

Blah blah blah surgery prep. What do they do with your arms during surgery? I wondered, as gurneys are narrow and if they’re operating on my abdomen, my arms can’t be on my tummy. Good question (and the operating table is even narrower) – they go straight out to either side. I remember getting onto the operating table, getting my left arm (with IV) on the extension, and I have a vague memory of doing something with my right arm, and that’s all she wrote.

Then I woke up really really sore and nauseous. Laproscopic abdominal surgery means your whole abdomen gets inflated, which makes your chest and shoulders sore. Eventually better living through chemistry helped, and they moved me up to a room, IIRC about 2:30. Pain makes me nauseous, so pretty much the rest of my Friday was napping, feeling queasy, and playing with the hospital bed trying to get comfortable. With the bonus excitement of having to stand (and not barf) for an Upper GI X-ray/CT scan/Whatever it is. Thank Ghu the radiologist was fast. The nurses would have liked me to get up to walk Friday evening, but going to the bathroom and back was the best I managed (being flattish helped the nausea).

Sleep, hah. My CPAP thinks I got at least 4 hours Friday night, it must have been in tiny chunks. About 5 am Saturday I got disconnected (IV  from power outlet, my calves from anti-clot massagers) enough go to the bathroom, and did go for a walk.

Ron came back. Mid-late morning I made the switch from injected to oral pain meds. Robin came for a visit. I had a bunch more mini-naps. Late afternoon I finally got sent home (I think my nurse actually delayed a bit at the end so she could get me a dose of pain meds just before going, giving us time to get the Rx filled).

Ron dropped me off at home, and went out in search of my prescribed liquid pain meds (basically vicodin syrup, aka the red heavy-duty cough syrup without cough supressant). Fortunately, the Walgreen’s he tried (after our usual CVS failed) had it, and the pharmacist stayed late to fill it. Which reminds me, I owe the store a thank-you note.

Saturday night was a bit better for sleep, but not much. Sunday night we got it set up so I could reach my CPAP controls myself, and just plain healing made it easier to move and sleep.

Every day gets slightly better. Tapering off the pain meds during the day, which is the nice thing about liquids. Today is the last day of liquid diet, tomorrow starts “week 2”, which is a slightly thicker diet, then another week of still squishy. Yeah, getting tired of drinking mostly everything (Jello at VS – woo!), but at least since the surgery I’ve got more flavor choices. And starting tomorrow I can have mashed potatoes among my mostly-thickish liquids.

My stomach looks like a war zone. 8 various small holes with steri-strips (fiber packing tape for people), one larger bandage over my belly button, several sets of staple holes, and an array of bruises. Lap-band and fill port installation, hiatal hernia repair (should reduce reflux problems), umbilical hernia repair, bruises around most of the incisions plus extras from some of the blood thinner injections, which were every 12 hours in the hospital, once a day at home, last one tomorrow, yay.  Ron says its much easier to do on me than it was to do them to himself. I had to do one myself, I can believe it.

Pippin and Elrond are going to be sad next week when I go back to work. I can’t say I’m thrilled either, but I think physically I’ll be ready. Although waking up still tired is no fun, its getting better – I’m not waking up nearly as sore, at least.

Been knitting a lot. Coloring/playing with markers requires more leaning forward, knitting I can lean back on the couch. Yesterday I finally started working on the Windycon book again, will do some more on that later today, and the pocket program.

I think it was Wednesday that we noticed Elrond was off, took him to the vet, he has another UTI. Last time was just before Ron’s surgery, when Ron was getting ill just thinking about the protein shakes. This time is just after mine. I’m wondering if Elrond fussed himself sick both times. He’s doing better now, though. Another win for better living through chemistry.

And now I should probably go for a walk. Which, BTW, is/was the main solution for the chest/shoulder soreness from the surgery.

Flailing Through Scheduling, Plus Frivolous Natter

The Flailing and Scheduling Part

I did get surgery preliminarily scheduled late Friday afternoon, as well as a pre-surgical visit with the surgeon. Yesterday I got confirmation of the date (Friday 11 October), and hopefully got pre-registration with the hospital sorted. Still waiting to get pre-surgical testing scheduled, which I want to do before scheduling a final visit with our family doctor.  I’m fine with the people in the St. Alexius/Alexian Bros. facilities, but scheduling and registration involves stupid amounts of time and (imagined) flailing to get things done.

Friday I also found out that I’d be getting a CPAP, as I do have minor sleep apnea (avg. 9.1 episodes/hour). Picked that up Monday, fought with the mask Monday night, gave up (on Ron’s advice) at 2 am Tuesday, and didn’t sleep well the rest of the night. Last night Ron re-fit the mask to me, and things went better. I made it until 10 minutes before the first alarm, when the call of nature won over sleep.

A Not-Quite Rant

Yesterday I was looking for advice on how to be supportive, for a parental unit that expresses support badly. Found lots of patient support, and nothing to point parental unit at.

I also found lots of blogs and websites from the Healthy at Any/Every Size and Fat Acceptance camp(s), some of which really pushed my buttons.  The cherry-picking, distortion, fear, etc. about bariatric surgery was amazing.

Fat-shaming, body-shaming, weight discrimination, clueless insensitive medical professionals, they all exist, no question. Our society has serious body-image issues, on both ends of the spectrum. I can’t and won’t argue if somebody feels healthy and that their life is what they want it to be even if their body shape is not the supposed ideal.

However, *I* do not think that *I* am healthy at my size. *I* do not think that *my* diet has been healthy.  I really wish the extremists  would do me the courtesy of letting me deal with *my* concerns about *my* body and *my* behavior like an adult.

They sound, as it seems to me, like the anti-vaccine extremists – lies, damn-lies, junk-science, etc.

Thank Ghu none of my friends or family seem to be that flavor of difficult person, so I’m just going to skip the rant, and go on to…

Natter of a More Frivolous Nature

We’ve been watching NCIS the past few weeks. I love Abbey. And Duckie and Ziva. Gibbs, McGee, and Duckie’s assistants are pretty good, too. In the early seasons I wanted to slap DeNozo on a regular basis. He’s still an annoying git, but not quite as bad.

Sunday Robin and I braved Ikea and procured more DVD shelving, which Ron and Robin assembled and filled.

As a reward to ourselves for braving Ikea, Robin and I stopped at Dick Blick. We got Copic “art” markers. At age fourty-mumble I have regressed, and am coloring. Still learning to stay inside the lines.  Also shading. When painting miniatures, you start with the darker colors and shade going lighter. With the markers its bass-ackwards, as you start with the light colors and work to the dark.

Did I mention that Pippin broke Ron’s nose a couple weeks ago?  They were playing, Pip whacked Ron in the nose, there was a sickening “crunch” from around his septum, another one when he straightened his nose out.

The joint supplement (a chondroitin formula) Elrond has been on since late June/early July seems to be doing him good, and he’s feeling even more frisky now that we’re into fall weather.  If you recall, he was very sick at the beginning of July. What didn’t process in my very upset brain at the time was that he had a urinary tract infection.  Since the antibiotics cleared that he’s been fine.

The amigurumi rabbit I was working on still needs back legs and a tail, because I’ve been doing leatherworking and the Windycon program book.