Easter Sadness

This has not been a very fun Easter. My BFF, who already has one indoor pet cat, had been feeding a bunch of feral cats out of her back yard for years.  She gave them names, they had litters, kittens died, some cats quit showing up, she’d taken at least one badly injured/ill one to be put down, etc.  About the first of the year, the new management of the place where she’s currently living (for only 11 more days, thank you so much) told her that if she didn’t quit feeding them and do something about them, they were going to evict her.  (Shortly after that, they told her she had until April 30 to find someplace else to live and be moved out, but that’s a different story).

She caught as many of the cats as she could and took them to a mutual friend who fosters and adopts them out through a local humane society, but there was one she had named “Bella” who was unadoptable.  At some point early in the game, she had gotten one eye poked out, but had survived that.  One of her litter mates had been looking out for her, but he was rounded up with the other adoptables and she was left on her own.  A couple of weeks ago, Bella  showed up with a hind leg either dislocated or broken and at some point she had become incontinent of stool.  I don’t mean to pass judgment, but if it had been me, I would have taken the cat right then and had her put down.  But my BFF continued to feed her when she showed up, hoping her leg would get better.  However, as I noted, my BFF is moving to an apartment on April 10th, there was no way she could take Bella with her, and I had finally managed to convince her that Monday, we were taking the cat and having her put out of her misery — I was even going to drive.

Today, Bella showed up dragging her hind quarters.  Her back legs appeared to be totally paralyzed.  Still she managed to drag herself into my BFF’s house to the place she liked to sit.  I was having a lie-in when the phone rang at 2 p.m.   My BFF had called a local emergency vet clinic and arranged to have Bella put down, and she wanted me to drive her there.  I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and drove to her place.  She had already put the cat in a carrier, and rode in the back seat with her while I drove us over to the emergency vet clinic.  Turns out the clinic is s owned and run by a doc who I used to go to at the animal clinic where I took my cats.  But he “retired,” sold the clinic and I quit going there.  He had done mission work in Guatemala for a while, and after he came back to the US, he bought this little emergency veterinary clinic which is only open when most clinics aren’t.  Most of the vets in town are “dog” people; cats are just a sideline.  But Dr. F. is “cat” people.  He loves cats and has as many as his wife will let him have.

Shortly before we’d gotten there, some people had brought a dog in that was bleeding, and there were bloody dog prints in the waiting room because the assistant hadn’t had a chance to mop them up.  Of course, by that time, we were both fighting tears.  Dr. F was busy with the dog, and after the assistant had gotten the room cleaned up, she took us back to wait until Dr. F could see us.  I had to listen to my BFF berate herself (saying all the things I would have said but didn’t) for not having done this a month ago.  I was pretty upset myself, thinking of the animals I’d had to have put down (see “My Angels“) and how, even when you know things are hopeless and you have no other recourse, it still rips you up to have to do it.  My BFF and Dr. F. got the poor thing out of the carrier and he wrapped her in a towel and took her off to put a catheter in a vein to make things easier, but once he got her back there and turned the clippers on to shave a patch so he could find a vein, she was terrified to the point of panic and he didn’t want to terrorize her any more, so he just gave her an intramuscular injection of sedative and brought her back.  We stayed with her until the injection took effect and then he came and did the deed.

We were understandably rather subdued as I drove her back home.  We stopped off at a McDonald’s to get a soft drink on the way, and my car started idling rough and actually died on me while we were in the drive through lane.  The closer we got to her house, the more the Crayola started acting like the clutch fluid reservoir was low.  Just as I was about to turn into her parking lot, I couldn’t get it to go in gear — worked with it a minute sitting in the middle of the street and finally got it into second and made it into her parking lot.  This was concerning as I’d filled the reservoir Thursday when I’d gone to pick my car up at the brake place and this was the first time I’d driven it since.  It usually goes a while before it needs refilling.  As I mentioned, I keep a bottle of hydraulic fluid in my trunk.  I popped open the hood/bonnet, and sure enough, the reservoir was all but empty.  After I filled the reservoir, there was only about an inch of hydraulic fluid left in the bottle, so I took a detour by Walmart — which was fortunately open, and  got a new bottle and a few groceries.

By the time I got home, took out garbage, sorted out the Littermaid, and took a shower, I had managed to get a little emotional distance before I had a chance to get myself all worked up remembering “my angels.”  When I booted up my computer to read my blogs and comics and stuff, I had two “seller notification” emails that I had sold a book and a DVD I had listed on Amazon, so I had to pack those for shipment, print out labels, etc.  The DVD would have fit in my mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up, but the book was a hardback and wouldn’t have fit, so about 10 p.m., I ran them by the post office and dumped them in the after hours package hopper.  Not to put too fine a point on the day, when I got on the Loop access road to go to the post office, there was a cat lying dead in the roadway.

I think I need to go have a snuggle with kitties.


The Ongoing Saga of the BFF’s Computer and the Brakes

The brake place called about 1:30 p.m. to say the Crayola was ready to go home, I called my mom and she came by to pick me up and dropped me off at the brake place.  They showed us one of the front brake discs which was all corroded and scored — ordinarily they can grind them smooth again and not have to replace them, but mine were scored below the tolerance level, and they showed us one of the back calipers where the brake shoe had completely worn away and fallen off — that was where my “metal on metal” sound was coming from.  $940 bucks (£618)  later, we were good to go.  They also said that what had taken so long was that one of the parts they ordered was defective and they had to return it for a replacement.

So now, I get in the car and get ready to drive home, put my foot on the clutch so I can start it, and the pedal goes all the way to the floor with hardly any resistance.  I know what that means.  I get out, get my bottle of hydraulic fluid out of the trunk/boot, pop the hood/bonnet and fill the clutch fluid reservoir, which is empty.  I’m in the middle of this when Elvis (who is wearing his company uniform shirt with “Elvis” embroidered over the front pocket) and Michael, the manager, come walking out to see what’s wrong.  I explain to them that there’s a slow leak in the clutch line somewhere and I periodically have to fill the reservoir, for which purpose I keep a bottle of hydraulic fluid in the trunk, no biggie.  It takes a minute or two of driving for the hydraulic fluid to work back into the system before the gears will mesh again without grinding like a garbage disposal.  I have to work the pedal and run the engine and shift a couple of times before all is copacetic once more.  And guess what?  I have brakes!

As long as I was already out, I stopped by the bank to get a money order to pay my rent. (I have a thing about sending personal checks through the mail — a personal check has pretty much all the information somebody needs to hijack your bank account.  I also have a thing about saying my phone number or address in public, like when a clerk asks for that information to fill in an invoice or sales ticket, or some stores use your phone number as your account number.  These days, you never know what kind of wacko stalker psycho might be listening — you can easily look up a phone number on the internet and get the person’s address — something to think about if you’re a woman and especially if you live alone.  I keep one of my business cards handy and just let them copy what information they need off of it. )  Then I stopped off at Petsmart to get cat food and kitty litter, and then went a couple stores down to Michael’s and treated myself to some yarn to make a ruana by modifying this pattern that Soulemama showed on her blog. The yarn is a very pale light silver blue that’s about an inch away from a pale silver grey.  I think it’ll make up nicely, and the color is neutral enough to go with almost anything. (I thought about using some camel brown yarn I already had but then I thought, “How blah and run of the mill.”)   Then I went home by way of Taco Villa and got 3 crisp tacos and a combo burritofor a late lunch.

I’ve had to “ease” the blister on my foot again.  I’m particularly anxious that the skin over the blister not rupture or tear, as it covers and protects the underlying raw skin and minimizes the risk of infection.  This time it was filled with clear fluid, which I pressed out, then wiped it all down well with alcohol, put a dab of Johnson and Johnson lavender bath gel (essentially lavender scented mineral oil but wonderful!) on the bandage pad of the Band Aid to keep my skin from sticking to it and taped it up again.  It’s still sore to walk on, so I’ve been limping around on it. It’s been a figurative pain as well as a literal one.

I had to uninstall all the McAfee programs on my BFF’s computer, then I ran Malwarebytes, the Semantec antivirus off the Geek Squad website.  Then I re-downloaded the McAfee programs and ran a McAfee scan.  Then I watched a 1-hour video.  The computer did not freeze up once during all this.  I think that’s the computer sorted.

I want to listen to the BBC Radio 4 dramatization of Neil Gaiman’s novel Neverwhere, so I think I’ll do that while I wind the just-bought skeins of yarn into balls.  The pattern I plan to use is trickier than the circular shawl one.  I’m going to use size 2 (2.75 mm) needles to knit it because the yarn is not as thick as regular knitting worsted, and increase the width from 9 to 35 inches.  Since the pattern repeats across the width, that won’t be a problem.  I can get the stitch gage from my circular shawl, which is the same brand and size of yarn, and is also being done on the same size needle.

Elvis Ain’t Dead*; He’s Fixing My Brakes

The past two days have really put me through the wringer.  Tuesday, I had to go to the VA Hospital in Armadillo for an auditory exam.  This entailed a two-hour bus ride each way.  The bus is provided by the VA and I had to be at the local clinic at 7:45 a.m. to catch it.  As buses go, it’s a small one, seating only 24 people.  The heater was broken, so the bus driver passed out blankets, as it was right chilly at that hour of the morning. People made a point of grabbing the window seats at the earliest opportunity, because the seats are quite narrow, and the aisle seat is rather precarious.  Unfortunately, I had to sit in the aisle seat both going and coming.  There were 17 of us to begin with and we picked up two more along the way.  Only two of us were women and both of us sat in the first row of seats.  I had to sit next to a bearded old coot both ways and the seats were so narrow there was no way I could sit without us touching.  Even so, I only had about 75% of the seat to sit on, and the ride was rather uncomfortable.  The driver handed out badges on lanyards to all of us at the start of the ride, and collected them again when the bus returned to our local clinic.

The bus driver told those of us who had not ridden the bus before that when we got to the VA Hospital to go straight to the place where our appointments were, register, and tell them we were on the bus from elsewhere, and if they had any cancellations or no-shows, they would fit us in earlier than our appointments.  That was good to know as the bus arrived at 10:15 (one of the passengers we picked up was in a wheel chair — a double amputee– and they had to use the wheel chair lift to get him on the bus, which took a bit more time than picking up the other passenger, who was able to board the bus under his own steam).  I made it to the audiology clinic by 11:00, reported in for my 2:00 o’clock appointment.  Another fellow bus rider had an appointment at 1:45 p.m.  Less than 20 minutes later, the audiology lady came and got me and took me back to the sound suite (they’d evidently had a no-show/cancellation).  By the time I was through, the other guy had returned from getting coffee, and they took him early as well.

After my appointment, I got a “classic”  BLT and a serving of “tater salad” (which was OK but not as good as mine) from the canteen, and then headed back down to the lobby to wait until the bus departed — which was about 2:15 p.m. — for the windy, dusty, hot ride back. I armed myself for the travel and wait time with knitting and a book, and ended up knitting going, and waiting, but coming back, I dozed as much as one can hanging on to the arm rest on a bus doing 70 mph down the highway being buffeted by rather stiff cross winds.

On my way home, I decided give myself a treat to make up for the unfun day I’d had by stopping at a favorite Chinese restaurant, “The Fortune Cookie,” which is about four blocks from my parent’s house, and getting some food to take away.  As I was coming to the intersection across from the restaurant, my cell phone rang.  Since I was driving, it was in my pocket right next to the seat belt buckle and very difficult to access while driving, I let it ring.  Once I’d gotten in the restaurant and was waiting for my take away order, I checked my missed calls:  Three from my mother, and one from my BFF.  (??!!) I called my mom, only to discover she had forgotten I was supposed to go out of town, had been trying to call me all day, and was just about to put her coat on to go over to my house, convinced something terrible had happened to me.  Bless her heart.  She was trying to call me to tell me to come at 11 o’clock instead of 9:30 to “daddy sit” on Wednesday.  She called my BFF wondering if I was over there helping her pack, and got my BFF all excited.  I had four voice mails on my land line when I got home, three from her and one from my BFF.  I called my BFF and reassured her.  She asked me if I would look at her computer again.  It was locking up and otherwise misbehaving.  She wanted to bring it by Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, I went to stay with my dad while my mom was gone to the meeting of this club she belongs to.  That was, by far, the easiest part of my day.  On my way home, when I stopped to turn onto the access road of “The Loop,”  the brake of my right rear wheel made this loud grinding noise — definitely a metal on metal sound that boded ill.  I stopped at a brake place about 4 blocks from my house, and had them check it out.  It was about 4:30 by that time.  Because I had left my cell phone at home, I decided to walk home, and have them call me with the results of their look-see.  Walking home turned out to be a big mistake because my shoes rubbed a lovely little quarter-sized blister on the ball of my left foot.  Once I got home and got my shoe and sock off, I could see it was filled with bloody fluid instead of the usual clear fluid that fills a blister.  I bathed it liberally in alcohol and let the fluid out, which you’re not supposed to do, but which would have happened anyway, sooner rather than later, because of the blister’s location, so best to do it under controlled circumstances than have it rupture (and make a mess).  I put a big square Band-Aid on it and tapped the Band-Aid on.  That sucker hurt, I can tell you.  Then I sat down and had my supper of almond chicken (a stir fry with vegetables and morsels of chicken in a white sauce topped with slivered almonds), egg roll and fried wontons.  After supper, I sat down at the computer to check email.

At about 4:40, the guy at the brake place called, introduced himself as “Elvis” (What were his parents thinking?!) and gave me the bad news.  Turns out my back brakes were completely nonfunctional because, among other things, the brake cylinders were corroded to the point where they were actively leaking brake fluid, and that for some time my car had been stopping using the front brakes alone, and my front brakes were on their last legs!  Not only that but my rear suspension was pretty well shot.  To fix the brakes on all four wheels including practically rebuilding the brake on the right rear wheel would be $880.00/£580.00, and to fix the rear suspension, too, would bring the total to — are you read for this? — upwards of $1700.00/£1120!!  The car would be safe to drive without fixing the rear suspension, but the brakes have to be fixed, or it’s only a matter of time before the front brakes (the only ones still working!) give out.  The famous Toyota “Crayola”  (Corolla) is a 1987 model, and once I thought about it, in the 26 years I’ve had it, I’ve never had the brakes worked on.  Toyota claims that 80% of all the Toyotas ever made are still on the road, and it’s no exaggeration.  They’re tough little cars.  So I told Elvis to fix the brakes on all four wheels, and we’d deal with the suspension at a later date.  He’s supposed to call me tomorrow when the car is ready (they were waiting on a part, of course) and my mom will come get me and take me to pick up my car.

My BFF brought her computer by.  It keeps freezing up.  I have tried repeatedly to do a virus scan on it using Malwarebytes, a Symantec scan from the Geek Squad website and the jive version of McAfee that ATT provides free, and have not been able to complete a scan using any of them because the computer kept freezing up. Not only that, McAfee kept wanting to update and said the computer was unprotected. Finally, I got the McAfee diagnostic tool to complete its diagnosis and figured out that it was a problem with a recent McAfee update that screwed up the DAT file and that every time McAfee tried to update, it kept kicking the computer off line.  So now I’ve got to uninstall McAfee, try to do a virus scan again, and/or try to do a Malwarebytes scan again, and then redownload McAfee.  I’ve been futzing with it for hours now, but maybe this will sort it out.

As for my car, take it on home, Elvis!

*One of my favorite scenes in “Men In Black.”

A Good Day for Staying In

We’re under a wind advisory:  “WINDS…SUSTAINED FROM THE NORTHWEST AROUND 40 MPH WITH GUSTS AS HIGH AS 60 MPH,” according to the National Weather Service.  I haven’t even bothered to look outside.  I can hear the wind buffeting the house.  Thankfully, I don’t have to be anywhere.  A cold front is on its way.  Tonight’s, tomorrow’s and Monday’s lows are supposed to go below freezing.  Good ol’ wibbley-wobbley jet stream. . .

Got my rolling pin.  Nice little 10-inch wooden one with handles.  And stickers.  I hate it when they put those tacky-glue stickers on stuff.  If they are a certain kind, or they’ve been on for any length of time, they won’t peel off cleanly.  The paper tears and it takes an Act of Congress to get the “stickum” off.   I need to use up the whole wheat flour I have.  I found a recipe for whole wheat pasta I might try now that I have a rolling pin and can roll the dough out thin enough.  I’ve got that package of frozen chicken breasts the checker at WalMart seemed to think I needed. (The people ahead of me didn’t check to make sure they’d gotten all their sacks.)  I could get some carrots, and chop up an onion, and maybe some mushrooms, thaw out a breast or two and do an oven casserole with them.

I’ve got to go to the post office Monday to pick up my package of printer ink cartridges.  I’ve been unable to shake this bout of staying up til 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning and sleeping until 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon.  It’s just a natural biorhythm for this night-WOL.  Somehow I slept through the doorbell Wednesday and I was out of pocket Thursday so I missed the two attempts at delivering it, so I have to go to the post office to get it.  However, now I can start listing books on Amazon.com again as I’ll have sufficient ink to print postage/mailing labels and the “sold” emails and the copy of the labels that I keep as records.  I’ve decided that any books I haven’t sold by the time I end up having to move in with my mom will go to “Friends of the Library” — unless it’s only a couple of boxes of them.  I need to get to the point where I can sequester the ones I want to keep from the ones I want to sell.

Monday, I need to call the consignment shop , as well, and see if my desk has sold.  I’m almost afraid to call for fear it hasn’t sold yet.  If it has, I won’t get the money until next month — they only write checks once a month.

Think I’ll go watch some TV.  I need to watch what I’ve recorded and delete them as I’m getting tight for storage space.   I’ve recorded some “Morgan Freeman – Through The Wormhole” episodes, and a couple of movies.   I think I’ll hot up a frozen dinner — I’ve got a couple I need to eat before they “expire.”  I’ll make some “rosemary loaf” toast to go with it, and maybe some hot chai tea — make it good and strong and put a little almond milk in it.  Yeah.  Think I’ll go do that.

Here We Are at Hump Day

. . .Which is Wednesday, the middle of the work week.  If you make it to the end of Wednesday, you are “over the hump” and from there, it’s “all down hill” to the weekend.  Yesterday, I made a double batch of biscuits, tried using a bottle for a rolling pin, and decided I need to get a rolling pin, instead of flattening out the dough with my hands.  The hard decision was, do I get one that is simply just a wooden dowel, or get the kind with handles?  Handles won.  I also made a loaf of rosemary bread with rosemary.  I think I like it better without. I think I’m also going to get a bread slicer guide.  Next month.

I’m also in the middle of washing two loads of clothes — Right now I need to take the load in the washer and put it in the dryer.

It’s later and I should have taken my bath before I washed the load of sheets and towels, but didn’t.  Instead, I had some biscuits and yogurt and read my blogs.   Now the clothes are dry, and I need to make the bed.  But I really need to wash my hair.  Guess I’ll go do that and then make the bed.

I started my circular shawl in the two shades of teal.  These pictures don’t do the color justice.   The pictures look way more blue than the actual colors are.

IMG_0874 IMG_0876
dark teal

Light teal





These swatches are more what the colors look like.    Once I get to a certain point, I’ll have to finish my baby circular blanket because I’ll need those needles to go any further.

Stream the BBC Radio 4 Dramatization of Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was a TV miniseries, a book, and now it’s being dramatized by BBC Radio 4, with a cast that includes Anthony Head, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Christopher Lee, and Bernard Cribbins, among others.  The first of 6 episodes is now available for streaming from the BBC Radio 4 website here.  The first episode is 1 hour long.  Each subsequent 30-minute episode will be available once it has aired on BBC Radio 4.  You audiobook lovers, you Neil Gaiman lovers, you adventurous folk, and you who want some time away from the boob tube, go check it out.

Photograph © 2013 BBC Radio 4
Photograph © 2013 BBC Radio 4

Here’s Your Complimentary Ticket to The Liaden Universe

If you’ve never heard of the Liaden Universe or Clan Korval,  or if you haven’t read Sharon Lee’s and Steve Miller’s Agent of Change — the book that started the ball rolling — but you like space opera, action, adventure, great world building, and well-rounded and original characters, boy, did you luck out!   You can now download Agent of Change  for free from the Baen website here — it’s available in every e-reader format known to man — just take your pick.  Even if you don’t have an e-reader, you can still read it on your computer.  PC versions of  Kindle e-reader software as well as software for the other e-readers are available on their respective websites as free downloads.  Here’s your entrée into the Liaden Universe on a silver platter.  And not to worry, if you like this one, there a lot more where it came from.

The Day After Pi Day

Yesterday was pi day (3/14), wherein I learned that:  (a) according to the rest of the world, a Yankee is someone from the United States,  (b) according to the people in the southeastern United States (Dixie), a Yankee is someone born north of the Mason-Dixon line, (c) according to people born north of the Mason-Dixon line, a Yankee is someone from the northeastern United states.  (d) according to the people in the northeastern United states, a Yankee is someone from Maine, (e) according to someone from Maine, a Yankee is someone who eats pie for breakfast.   Also, πr² is wrong.  As any child of the South knows,  Pi r roundCornbread r².  Now that we’ve got that cleared up, we’ll move on to other news.

This: ………………………………………………is now this:

The office reading nook
The office reading nook


The roll-top desk is now at the consignment store, and the office seems so much roomier.  The consignment store guy assures me that people are always wanting desks.  Hopefully, it will sell soon.

I started listing books, DVDs and VHS tapes on Amazon this week, and so far I’ve already sold nine items for a grand total of $48, which I still don’t have in my little hot hands yet.  Of course, that $48 is gross.  I’ve spent a good $45 on postage and another $20 on sticky labels to print out the postage on and $60 on two extra large black ink cartridges for my printer.  If I keep my Stamps.com membership, that’ll be another $16 (a month).  I joined Stamps.com because when you join, you get a free USB powered postage scale and free “supplies” — a sheet of labels for every kind of postage you can print off their site. Of course, the Amazon website is set up not just to monitor your inventory, but also to print packing slips for each item, as well as postage, so I could have just bought postage from Amazon (the buyer pays postage), but I didn’t have a postage scale, or a source for the shipping labels.  Be that as it may. The main thing is, the nine things I sold are nine things that are not in my house any more, which is the whole purpose of the exercise.  I’ve already listed 198 items, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m still culling and listing my paperbacks.  I haven’t even started in on my hardback books yet.  What’s going to be tricky is finding packaging material to ship the hard back books.

I finished my nine blade circular shawl — it was a proof of concept (the original pattern had 10 blades, and I modified it) , and it turned out nicely.  I ended it with a purl row (it’s knitted in stockinette), then a knit row, then cast off.  I used up all the glitter yarn I had, and bought a skein of regular blue that was compatible.  That was as big as I wanted to make it, and I finished the last row with that little bit of yarn you see below left.  I had to knit really fast to make sure I got to the end of the row before I ran out of yarn.







The original 10-blade pattern is here, and the modified, 9-blade pattern is here.  The purple yarn looks pink in the picture, but it’s a nice mulberry in real life.  I’ve got a bunch of skeins of  a light and dark shade of teal I might make one out of.   It might be fun to make one out of yarn scraps.

I’m making a baby blanket from the 10-bladed pinwheel pattern, and broke one of the points of my size Clover #2, 48-inch, double pointed bamboo needle.  Unfortunately, my set of Denise interchangeable needles only goes down to size #5, so I had to order another one.  Amazon didn’t have it in stock at the time, and I had to order it from somebody else.  Can’t do any more on the baby blanket until I get another needle.

Last week, I went to Whataburger on my way back from the post office to get some fries and a drink, and I got one of those “if you fill out the survey, you get a free Whataburger” cash register receipts.  The deal is, you have to order their “#1” which is a Whataburger, medium fries and a medium drink, but all you pay for is the fries and the drink.   Went back earlier this week to get my free Whataburger and got another of those “free Whataburger” receipts.  Went back Wednesday to get my free Whataburger, and got another of those free Whataburger cash receipts!  Talk about hitting the jackpot!

Well, now that I’ve finally gotten the roll-top desk out of the way, I think I’ll turn my reading chair around and watch a movie on DVD.

A Friday Smile

This is such an amazing video for so many reasons.  The Chantays‘ hit “Pipeline”  debuted in December of 1962.  They were contemporaries of the Beach Boys, and bring to mind Frankie,  Annette, and Gidget, when the beaches of California were the places to be for good clean fun in the sun, a girl who wore a two-piece bathing suit was considered daring, and The Great Kahuna had principles after all.  And then, on February 9th, 1964, things changed.

BTW, among the many who have covered this song is Lawrence Welk