Friday, April 19, 2013

back down the rollercoaster

I had planned my next blog post to be about spinning and knitting and some of the things I've been doing recently, but that all got knocked out the window last night. 

I found another lump on Curzon's ribcage.

This one is on the opposite side from the original one that started our journey in January 2012, on his left side and on the fifth rib from the back.  It's about the size of a large gumball right now.  He hasn't really noticed it, as he rarely notices anything until it actually impedes his movements, but I did get old-man groans when I was rubbing his side this morning so it might be bothering him at least somewhat.  And I'm not ashamed to admit, I cried again, full out shaking ugly crying.  I've done that every time I've found something new on him, or we've had a setback.  I wish I didn't do it, but I love this boyo so much that I just can't help it - my brain immediately starts going into overdrive, thinking about how I'm going to deal with it when he's gone, right down to the details of what to do with his ashes.  I hate that part of my brain, so much.  Curzon is here NOW, he loves me NOW, he wants to play NOW, there is more than enough time to figure out how to deal with his death when it happens.

My brain doesn't always listen. 

This morning I'm feeling better, not thrilled of course but better.  Who's to say that another rib tumor is that much worse than the internal tumor we already know is there?  Who's to say that the reduction in coughing we've seen is not the good sign I thought it was?  I'm not expecting Curzon to live forever, although making it to 15 was always my hope and he's just 9.5 now, but who's to say he won't run one heat in October to earn his Iron Dog after his tenth birthday?

So I will straighten my shoulders, dry off my eyes, and look forward.  Curzon's baby brother Martok comes home in less than a week, and we have a great photo shoot with an incredibly fabulous photographer next weekend to celebrate.  We have a tournament in two weeks, and while Curzon won't be racing, he will play in the Saturday night "green dog" warmup time.  We have a beach vacation in Oregon scheduled in two months, where there will be much romping on the sand and swimming in the ocean.

There's no time for sadness, only love, laughter, and playtime.  And sometimes, snuggles.

Both Curzon and Ezri are fascinated by the noisy light-up wobbly ball that I bought after seeing Martok and his littermates playing with one.  Such happiness on his face!

I suppose this is comfortable, although from this angle it looks rather ridiculous.

Looks way more comfy when you see the rest of him, and not just that chin with his tongue sticking out.

I love you, Curzon, and I will always do what's best for you.  I hope I don't have to say goodbye too soon, though, because I'm selfish like that.  Let's plan to go swimming this weekend, that's one of your favorite things.

Monday, April 15, 2013

oooh, shiny

One of the things that spinning has given me in the past year is an appreciation for pretty wood and excellent craftsmanship.  I've always loved pretty things (who doesn't?) and have magpie/dragon tendencies to collect the shiny things and keep them around to stare at the pretty.  Back in January, I finally gave in and ordered a custom Golding spindle - a Scottish thistle inset on a purpleheart whorl.  I've seen several iterations of spindles made with that inset, but never one on purpleheart, and so I talked with the creator and he made one for me, even using a two-strand silver ring instead of a three-strand one to lower the weight to be closer to my ideal.  The spindle is incredibly beautiful, with chatoyance that I haven't seen on much purpleheart wood before, and it's a dream to spin with.  In the background of that photo you can see the tiny 2" featherweight spindle made of Karelian birch that I ordered at the same time.

I've also been considering a second spinning wheel, in particular a Hansen miniSpinner which is an electric spinning wheel designed to work on regular power, from a battery, or from a car cigarette lighter socket.  With a friend who loves hers, plus quite a lot of raves on their group on Ravelry, I went up to FibresWest in Cloverdale BC to try them out in person.  I liked them just as much as I thought (or feared to), and ordered mine while I was there.  I chose a purpleheart body with a WooleeWinder flyer/bobbin setup, with the bobbins and flyer done up in maple since they're not available in purpleheart.  I will definitely be traveling with this little critter, and I've even had it set up in my office on my desk so I can spin while playing WoW (during raid wipes or long flights, etc.).

And at long last, the quilt I've been waiting to make for quite some time now has been finished, gifted, and is now being used.  My best friend loves Dr Seuss, and so several years ago when the fabric line featuring his art and designs was released, I grabbed a fat quarter pack as well as flannel for the backing, knowing that one day she'd have a baby who'd need a quilt.  The pattern is quite simple, just a block with a "keyhole" on one side that is made up of just four pieces per block.  The fabric is quite busy on its own, and so I wanted to showcase large chunks of the designs while still having some pattern and play, so this idea worked out great.

I quilted this all in straight lines, using stitch-in-the-ditch along the blocks as well as simple diagonals across all of the blocks as well.  I did all of this freehand (but not free-motion) on my Janome MC6600P, using black/white variegated Superior brand thread on both top and bottom, which provided some depth to the stitching without being distracting.  This is probably my best quilting job yet, I'm quite proud of it.

I chose a black/white chevron fabric for the binding, which had the excellent effect of appearing to be a bias-cut diagonal stripe for most of if due to the small widths that I prefer to use.  I think it looks great against that eye-searing red/blue flannel background, and should be great for little infant eyes to focus upon!

Of course, I had a little helper when I was spending the better part of a week on the couch hand-stitching the binding...this is actually one of my favorite pictures of Curzon I think I've ever taken.  He was making sure there was extra love and naps put into every stitch!

And of course, the very-important label on the back.  My friend had not chosen to reveal the name of her son before he was born, so since I gave this to her at the baby shower, he got a generic nametag.  I thought about putting "Loki" on there, as that's what I had been calling him in place of his real name (he was due April 1, so I found that fitting), but decided in the end to go with the boring version.

And in closing, a most awesome picture that Chris took of Curzon and I at his first laser treatment a week ago.  He tweaked his back about a week and a half ago, probably from overenthusiastic (on my part) yoga ball work, and our teammate and veterinarian Nicole was happy to give him an adjustment, massage, and a red laser treatment to help him heal.  He's had 3 treatments so far with 2 more to go, and I think it's helped a lot - he certainly seems happy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

life without Phoebe, almost two months later

It's been almost two months since Phoebe went to her new home, and the changes in our household have been dramatic.  Before I get into them, however, I will note that Phoebe is doing very well in her new home, she's loving being an only dog with a fenced yard and two people to fuss over her.  She has several chairs to sit in, windows to watch the squirrels through, trips to quilt guild and other fun events to socialize, and soon a visit from grandbabies to entertain her as well.  Phoebe has never had it so good, and her new owners just adore her.  I'm so happy that it's worked out so well, it's a much better situation for everyone involved.

Jadzia has shown the biggest change, which I was expecting but not quite in the magnitude that has occurred.  The stress of living with Phoebe was apparently far higher than we realized, and now that the little dog is gone Jadzia has just blossomed into an active and interactive dog again.  Instead of spending her evenings hiding in my office, she snoozes and plays in the living room with us, and for the first time ever she's chewing on the antlers that litter the living room.  Jadzia is not nearly as anxious as she was, and in fact when her last scrip of clomapramine ran out we elected to not refill it, and she's doing just fine without it.  She's gleeful at times, bouncing and capering about the house, jumping up for hugs and bringing us toys, and it's a delight to see.  I do feel a bit sad and guilty now, for not realizing just how much Phoebe had affected her behavior and quality of life so negatively, but at least things are much better for Jadzia now and we are enjoying her newfound happiness right alongside her.

Sadly, we still can't leave Jadzia and Ezri in the kennel outside together while we're gone, however.  Phoebe was apparently not the catalyst there, it's your bog-standard bitch disagreements that end up with both of them with little bite marks where they've been tussling.  I'm pretty sure Jadzia barks at something, keeps barking and won't shut up, so Ezri tries to shut her up and assert dominance, and bam they scuffle.  So in the interests of keeping everyone in one piece, Jadzia is still spending her days in her crate inside the house, where I think she's happier anyway without having to worry about things outside of her control.

Curzon is still being his amazing self, despite the new tumor that appeared in his chest in January and may be growing over time.  We've had a rough couple of weeks, mostly unrelated to the tumor, with a kennel cough scare from a tournament with infected dogs, goopy eyes that are itchy and bothering him, and a slightly tweaked back last week from overenthusiastic yoga ball practice.  He's had his days of being off his food, mostly involving refusing any chicken meals and preferring beef instead, so we're currently running two different flavors for most meals (beef for him, something else for the girls).  Even when not wanting his real food, however, Curzon has been happy to have other things to eat so overall he's doing just fine.  And as of this morning, we're at several days of eating a full meal of something every time, so that's fantastic.

Thanks to our teammate who is a vet, Curzon's back is healing up nicely after a chiropractic adjustment, massage, and ongoing red laser therapy.  When she checked his back at practice, the pain reflex was so strong it almost made me cry - and he was still trying to run and play with that much hurt!  Last night and this morning showed no pain reflex, just some residual stiffness in his back, so that's very exciting for us.

Two weekends ago we got our first taste of spring, with sunny weather in the high 60s, so off we went to the park to play in the water.  They had such a good time romping around, although the winter (and possibly the city) have changed the main part of the creek so that there's not a good deep swimming hole anymore.  Oh well...

Things have been quiet and amazing in our house recently, I can take the dogs out to the backyard and play chuckit for fifteen minutes and never say a word, but that's soon to change.  Two weeks from today Chris and I will be flying out to Chicago to pick up the newest member of our family - Ignited's Order of Kahless, call name Martok.  He is a blue merle border collie, likely a smooth coat, born from a Singed x Fetch litter on February 27, 2013.  Singed is Ezri's older 3/4 sister (and Indigo's littermate), so Martok will be Ezri's nephew!  There are six puppies in the litter, two boys and four girls, and both of the boys will be coming to Seattle to live - which has meant a new friend for us!  We will actually bring back both of the boys when we go to Chicago, as the other boy (who will be called Sirius) is going to someone without the extra vacation day to travel to get him.  Hopefully that will make the plane flight easier on them both, but we will see!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

trip to is wonderful

As promised, I'm finally making a post of photos about our trip to Ireland back in February.  We decided to go on rather short notice, as Chris was asked to go for work and so I took the opportunity to go with him and take my second international trip.  We spent our time in the city of Cork, in the southeastern part of Ireland, and it was a lovely time even with the limitations of the weather and offseason.

Chris flew out on Monday and I followed on Thursday, each arriving the day after we left, so Saturday and Sunday were our days spent doing touristy things together.  This is the river that flows through the city of Cork, taken from one of the bridges we crossed as we wandered around.

We visited the Cork Butter Museum, where we learned about the butter industry in Ireland and how it changed in the mid-1900s with the advent of Kerrygold and other brands.  This is a display of some of the many individual dairy brands of butter available in the 1800s in Ireland, all of which joined together to make a single high-quality brand of Irish butter for export.  Sadly, no taste testing was available.

Saturday afternoon we took the bus to Middleton, where we toured the Jameson distillery, which was very interesting and very cool.  The copper pot still in this picture is one of the original ones used for decades/centuries before they built the new modern facility, and it's enormous.  While I don't drink alcohol, it was pretty neat to learn about the whiskey making process and the differences between American, Scotch, and Irish whiskeys.  Plus there was a stag party in our tour group, with the groom-to-be dressed in a cow costume and carrying a frilly pink handbag, so that was pretty entertaining.


Chris got invited to join the small group at the end of the tour who got to taste all three types of whiskey and thus become official Jameson Whiskey Tasters.  Pretty neat!

On Sunday we took the bus out to visit Blarney Castle, which was lovely and very interesting to walk around and enjoy.  This photo is of the Poison Garden, seen from one of the castle windows above.

The castle watchtower, as seen from one of the arrow slits in the main castle building.  You can see the moat just past the watchtower.

Spinning while I waited for Chris to finish up what he was doing at that point in time, whatever it was.  The portion of the castle visible behind my hand was added on in the 1800s and was more of a manor house than a castle, which was destroyed by fire unfortunately.

We also toured the grounds, including the gardens and the rock fell, as well as walking around some of the mysterious and ancient spots known as the Witch's Kitchen and the Druid's Cave.  This is me walking up the Witch's Steps, where legend has it that if you go up the stairs with your eyes closed and focus on a single wish, the witch will grant it as payment for the firewood she collects every night.  Yes, I made a wish...

This is the cathedral near the hotel where we were staying, which was very beautiful and lovely to walk past every day.  Lots of goldwork to catch the sunlight.

On Monday while Chris was working, I took the train to Cobh (formerly Queenstown) in order to visit the Titanic and Lusitania memorials and go through The Titanic Experience.  The town was gorgeous all on its own, however, and I had a good time looking at the lovely painted houses and doing a bit of shopping in the shops that were open.  I also had an incredible cup of hot chocolate and a scone that morning as I waited for the museum to open, as well as a lovely lunch at the Titanic Cafe after I went through the museum.

The Titanic Experience in Cobh is housed in the original building of the White Star Line offices, where those who boarded the Titanic bought their tickets and waited for the tenders to take them out to the liner, which was moored out of sight in deeper water.  The museum experience was very well done, smaller than the traveling exhibits I've seen before but full of information and presented in an interesting yet respectful manner.  It was an experience to walk the same space that so many had walked who were lost on that fateful voyage, and to see the ruins of the dock and the photos that show how things looked a hundred years ago.

After lunch I walked up the steep hillside to see the cathedral that looks out over the city, which was incredibly beautiful.  I loved the ironwork on this door, so intricate and clearly made by hand with love and attention to detail.  The interior of the cathedral was phenomenal, with an inlaid mosaic floor that had Celtic knotwork flowing throughout the entire building.  I did not see a gift shop, unfortunately, so I have no photos or postcards of the interior, but it's well worth the visit should you ever be in Cobh.

Tuesday I took a bus to Kinsale, noted as a very "foodie" and tourist-friendly town on the seaside just about a half-hour from Cork.  The harbor was full of boats, mostly shuttered for the winter, but still pretty especially with the early-morning sun rising over the harbor.  This was also my one encounter with an automated pay-for-use public toilet, which was interesting yet a brilliant idea.

The city castle in Kinsale is now the home of a winery (IIRC), but as it was February and not tourist season it was still closed for the winter.  The details on the castle were very lovely, especially these windows, and I wish I could have gone inside - maybe next time!

I walked from Kinsale out to Charles Fort, which was a very long walk that was broken up by an interaction with an adorable JRT out for a walk with her papa who jumped right up in my lap as I sat on a bench.  Very different looking dog than Phoebe or other JRTs I've known in the States!  The fort was okay, but very bare without a lot of stuff to look at, but it was interesting to read about the history of the site and the roles it had played in various wars.  This is a traveling apothecary/surgeon chest from the 1800s, which I found pretty neat.

Our last full day in Cork was spent visiting Chris' company worksite there and getting a tour, followed by relaxing and a nice dinner out as we prepared for the long day of travel to go home.  I thoroughly enjoyed our trip, and I hope to visit Ireland again.