scarlettina: (Default)
I logged on to read LJ while preparing and eating breakfast. Suddenly, I hear a commotion and look up, out the window over my breakfast table.

Hanging from the gutter are two squirrels madly copulating. She's hanging on to the gutter for dear life with two paws while he's got his front paws wrapped around her waist, pumping away. She looks totally panicked. I wait for it...wait for it...and finally she can't hang on any longer. Thump! Down they go. They scatter to two corners of the balcony.

By now, Spanky has noticed the commotion. He's at the sliding doors that look out onto the balcony, and he's rapt. The squirrels are alternately sitting stock still and grooming themselves. I watched, then finally had the presence of mind to grab my camera and take some not very good pictures. Unfortunately, I missed photographing the aerobatic squirrel sex. This may be why my professional photography aspirations may never be realized....

Spanky on the prowl:

Squirrel, cornered:

Spanky: I don't know what it is, but it sure looks tasty:

Cat season

Fri, May. 22nd, 2009 09:45 am
scarlettina: (Spanky Spots)
It must be spring, because Spanky's found the sun:

Spanky, basking )

And for those of you who haven't met Spanky in person, here's a full-body shot so you can see his unusual coloration. Spotted polar cat )

And yes, he's chubby, but with effort (food and exercise), he's less chubby than he was three or four months ago.
scarlettina: (Spanky Dignified)
Shortly after I adopted my beloved Flatbush, I began crooning to him. Usually I'd sing to him when we were heading to the vet, but I then began to sing to him more often. Usually it was just random silliness. Eventually, however, I realized that the first lines of the Beatles song, "Blackbird" scanned really well for a typical Flatbush behavior. Before long, I'd composed a song for the cat based on that melody:

Flatbush meowing in the dead of night
Take these kitty wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for your dinner to arrive
Flatbush meow
Flatbush meow
Into the light of the dark black night

I sang that song to him his entire life: when we went to the vet, when I brushed him, sometimes before I hit the sack. It was the Flatbush song.

I spent years trying to come up with something for Merlin. Years. I felt bad that he didn't have a theme song. It was only in the last two months of his life that I came up with something that stuck. It was sung to the tune of the theme from "I Dream of Jeannie":

Merlin the handsome
Merlin the handsome
Merlin the handsome cat

He's orange
He's orange and he's stripey
He's orange and he's stripey
He does things I can't explain

That's because he's Merlin
Merlin the handsome
Merlin the handsome
Merlin the handsome cat

And so I'd found the perfect theme song for Merlin in his last days.

It never even occurred to me to come up with a song for Spanky (seen in the icon); I don't know why. But lately, probably prompted by Merlin's departure, I've been obsessing over a song for Spanky. I have two contenders, neither of which is yet fully formed. One would be sung to the tune of "Santa Baby" except that I can't get past the first line: "Spanky-doodle, I'll put some catnip under the tree for thee" (but that seems a little labored). The other could be sung to the Steve Perry song, "Oh Sherry." "Oh Spanky, our love holds on, holds on." Somehow, that seems weird.

I know that those who have encountered Spanky have seen his cranky side a little more than his sweet side. I excuse this by explaining that it's because he's old and he's spoiled. Could be he's just a natural curmudgeon. Or because no matter how hard I work at making his eyes comfortable, they never will be (he's got a chronic dry eye condition), and so he's grouchy. But he is a sweet cat and I want to have a song for him.

So, based on the above, any ideas for lyrics? Help me, LJ hivemind! You're my only hope!

LJ by sunrise

Wed, Apr. 15th, 2009 06:50 am
scarlettina: (Sunflower)
I woke this morning around 5:30 to discover a kitty cuddled in the crook of my left arm, so sweet and happy that I didn't want to disturb him. I also realized that I was awake for the duration and that the position, while comfortable to him, would last only a short while for me before it became awkward. He shifted soon enough, stood, and looked at me as if to say, "You're awake. Good! That means breakfast." I roused myself from bed, fed us both, and sat down to get a start on the day's interactivity. As I sat here, perusing The New York Times, a stream of golden-orange light spread across my desk. The sun was a big, golden beacon poking its fingers through the branches of the fir tree outside my window. It's that magic light photographers seek at sunrise and sunset, casting an irreproducible glow across everything it touches.

It's cold this morning. I am wrapped in fleece and sweatpants. My to-do list is long and I can feel my tendency toward avoidance beginning to kick in. I must overcome it, as one would overcome zombies at twilight, and get busy with the day.

(The reference to zombies surely has its source in "Mr. Darcy Woos Elizabeth Bennet While Zombies Attack," the Times' editorial on zombies as a metaphor for hard times. I really must read that book!)
scarlettina: (Happy Sun)
Proud of myself: I took advantage of the sun and warmth to walk up to the top of Queen Anne Hill for coffee and groceries, then walked back. Also proud of myself for getting some solid job searching done today that resulted in an almost immediate telephone interview. Fingers crossed!

Informed me: This evening, perusing The New York Times, I found two fascinating articles:
* Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory: Eternal sunshine may be just around the corner.
* Bahrain Embraces Its Jews. All 36 of Them.: Hey, it's something. I refuse to be cynical about it.

I also wish to note that I get extraordinary pleasure from watching Spanky nap in the sun. He so completely loses himself in the pleasure of it, closing his eyes, baring his belly, and curling his toes. It's hard to resist petting him when he's looking so content, but I am restrained by the knowledge that interrupting his peaceful napping will interfere with his contentment.

Speaking of contentment, congratulations to [ profile] mischief_wa on the arrival of her beautiful new daughter, Victory Dora. I can't wait to meet her!

And now, I shall make dinner for myself. Note: Keep up with the mushrooms. They are gifts of the divine.
scarlettina: (Sunflower)
1) Completed another new spiral necklace last night. Am extremely pleased. Won't post it to Etsy until after Norwescon. If you were interested in jewelry, I'm stocking up and will have it with me at the convention, so be ready. Steampunkiness is proving tougher than I hoped as I'm low on funds for supplies--and the truth is that the pieces would be pretty darn expensive; I'm guessing everyone else's budget is fairly tight. We'll see what I can do between now and Friday. In the meanwhile, I'm focusing on earrings and other stuff.

2) Had a lovely breakfast with [ profile] brumbjorn and [ profile] selinker yesterday--crepes! It was so good to see them. [ profile] selinker, by the way, has posted his comments on the Most Beautiful Fantasy Series. Go over and see what he has to say. I know at least some of you may have opinions about this.

3) My brother sent me a story about the cleaning of the Space Needle. The spectacular pictures will give you vertigo.

4) I think that Spanky's weight loss program is reaping results. He's looking a little less poochy. Also, he's become very attached to the idea of chasing jingle balls around the house. I throw them, he chases them. He sniffs them, sits down, and looks at me. I cross the room and throw them again. We're both getting exercise.

5) My propagation efforts appear to be slowly bearing fruit. At least two of the baby jade plants have tiny new leaves on them. The African violet cutting, however, is just sitting in its water, not rooting. ::grumble:: I must learn more patience.

Spring darkness

Tue, Mar. 31st, 2009 09:08 am
scarlettina: (Spanky Dignified)
It was heavily overcast and cold yesterday. Looks like it's going to be heavily overcast and cold today as well. Yesterday, I let it get the better of me. Today, I'm attempting to keep that from happening again. Still, the darkness is pretty remarkable. Everything looks like it's being filtered through a gray gauze, chilly and haunted. There's a breeze strong enough to push around my wind chimes and make the big fir outside my living room window look like it's preparing to pull its own roots from the earth and heave forward into a lurching walk between houses.

Darkness notwithstanding, the local squirrels are nesting. The house next to mine is a poorly maintained rental. For years, they've had squirrels nesting in the attic--I watch them squeeze in and out of their shelter through a hole just above the gutters along the roof. The last few days, I've watched one squirrel in particular trace a route from the hole across the roof to the neighbor's rear balcony. He then leaps from the balcony railing to the branches of the big fir. He'll return minutes later with bunches of sticks in his mouth, take his leap from tree to balcony, and trot his way back across the roof to the hole. The neighbors claim they've tried to get rid of the squirrels to no avail. No one in our building has ever seen evidence of such an effort. It's more of a property value issue for the neighbor than for us, but I admit to wondering what it's like to live in a house where generations of squirrels have been doing their squirrely business in the attic (and possibly between the walls).

On days like today, the light is just odd enough to make Spanky's thick coat look almost supernaturally white. His coat is so soft that it's always a temptation to the touch; today, it's that much more so.
scarlettina: (Sunflower)

In other news, I keep standing over my plants saying "Grow! Grow!" as if I expect them to spontaneously sprout right there before my very eyes. I actually started an experiment last night with the jade cuttings. I picked up some Roottone which is an anti-fungal growth hormone that's supposed to help cuttings root (according to some Web sites). I brushed some onto half the cuttings I took and left half the cuttings to scab over (the way other Web sites say you should). The ones upon which I put the Roottone already have little roots sprouting. The others have scabbed up. I'm supposed to leave them both for another day or two before putting any of them, hormoned or not, into soil. It's hard being an obedient gardener because, of course, I want it now, dammit! But I shall persevere.

I also remembered why I didn't pick up sun/shade bulbs last night: one package costs $10. Another time, perhaps. Wish I had the ground space for sunflowers!

Merlin's ashes

Wed, Mar. 18th, 2009 10:09 pm
scarlettina: (Merlin: Nap rays)
I received Merlin's ashes today. They came in a pretty little gray urn covered with black speckles. My original plan had been to scatter them from the balcony over the back garden, but the urn is tightly sealed and several attempts to open it failed. It's currently sitting on a window sill where the sun will bathe it each day. It's heavier than I expected, especially for something so small. I don't know if I'm going to keep it there on the window, or attempt to open it again for scattering. Part of me feels as though it's gruesome to keep the ashes; part of me doesn't want to let them go. I'll figure it out, one way or another.
scarlettina: (Trouble get behind me)
I was going to write a bio/tribute to my recently-deceased kitty, but I can't bring myself to do it somehow. Instead, I'm going to share a picture of him as a kitten with his best pal/sire-substitute Flatbush and leave it at that.

All ears, he was, when he joined the household, an orange, stripey ball of fluff. Wasn't he sweet? For years he was Flatbush's cat. It was only after Flatbush passed away that he became well and truly mine.


Wed, Mar. 4th, 2009 09:39 am
scarlettina: (Merlin: Nap rays)
[ profile] oldmangrumpus came by last night after work. We reminisced about Merl a little bit, then went to dinner at Stell's for burger-y things. It was comforting to have company.

I want to thank everyone for your support these last two weeks. I'm so blessed to have friends like you all. I want to thank especially Mr. Grumpus, [ profile] ironymaiden, [ profile] markbourne, [ profile] e_bourne, AEH, and [ profile] herself_nyc for support above and beyond the call.

The doorbell just rang. A messenger brought a beautiful arrangement of white daisies from the Cat Clinic of Seattle, which cared for Merlin and still cares for Spanky.

I should be receiving Merlin's ashes in about two weeks. My plan is to spread them from the balcony here since he enjoyed sitting out there, walking along the railing, and watching the birds and squirrels and trees.

I want to post a little bit of biography about Merlin within the next day or so. I want to scan and share a couple of photos that not many people have seen. It's way to share him one last time.

Merlin, 1991-2009

Tue, Mar. 3rd, 2009 04:24 pm
scarlettina: (Trouble get behind me)
The vet, when I arrived, told me that at best he had a week. Merlin took some time to sleep on my hand. I held him, and then he was gone.

scarlettina: (Merlin: Nap rays)
Just spoke with the vet. Merlin's anemia is worse. He's more hydrated and he's continuing to eat, but not only is the anemia worse but his white cell count is up, too. I'm beginning to wonder if I should have put him through this in the first place. If I bring him home, it's subcue fluids and injected meds every other day, powders in his food and pills down his throat daily for the rest of his life. Does that make sense? Is it kind to him?

If all this hand-wringing seems overwrought, consider that I've known him longer than virtually every friend I have on the West Coast. He's been a constant companion.

I have to figure out what's right for him.

I'm going to log off, take a long hot shower, and think this through. I have an appointment with the vet at 3 PM.
scarlettina: (Are we there yet?)
LJ communities: I just unsubscribed from three Doctor Who communities this morning, and my flist contracted like an accordian. Amazing. It's been a long time since I was deeply invested enough in the show to care what the fan wank was all about or to read fanfic or harvest new icons--I barely use the ones I have. I figure that if I want those things, I know where to look. I don't need to scroll past pages and pages of it every single day. I'm wondering how long it will be before I come to that conclusion with regard to Ghost Hunters and GHI. It's a wonder that I haven't gone looking for Big Love or Chuck communities. Or maybe it's just a sign of sanity.

Writing: Yes, it's me writing about writing. I know, you're shocked. I've started working on the novel again. This morning, in what could be the Best Possible Timing Ever, [ profile] kateelliott posted about writing the wrong words. Why the best timing ever? Because she talks about writing through scenes that aren't working, writing placeholder scenes to be filled in later, and so on. One of the things that's kept me stalled, I've realized, is writing a scene I just don't wanna write. I shall put a placeholder in and move on.

I've been writing a long time but I tend to take long hiatuses. I think it shows. I posted a while ago about not being good at being a beginner. I titled the entry with a quote from Richard Bach: Learning is remembering what you already know. Every time I start writing again, I have to remind myself all over again that I've actually done this for a while and that between the experience and having, ya know, edited some books, I know something about the process. But it always feels like learning all over again. That's one reason for writing every day: reinforcing and expanding the knowledge. Yeah, yeah, I know. Obvious. It's me, remembering what I already know.

The day: I'm supposed to hear from the vet today about Merlin. I'm worried about the test results. I'm worried about the money this is all going to cost. I'm concerned about whether or not I made the right choice. I'm Jewish: worrying is genetic. Also, when you don't have kids, what you worry about is your pets. I'm also concerned about Spanky. He's fallen very easily into the role of only cat. He acted like a pouty three-year-old when Merlin came home from his vet appointment last week because Merl didn't smell right. I can only imagine what Merl's imminent return will be like.

I hope this was all worth it. I hope it makes Merlin a little healthier and gives him more time. On the other hand, if his tests show that improvement hasn't been what we'd like and may never be, then the choice will be easier. But this stuff's never easy, no matter what. My sleeping and eating patterns are telling on the stress. ::sigh::

Books: I've been reading "The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marraige" by Daniel Mark Epstein and am nearly finished. It's a fascinating, deeply research book that reads like a very good novel. I've been loving it. I've just started reading "The West Wing: The American Presidency as Television Drama," a collection of essays about the show. Interesting stuff so far (I've read the introduction and half of the first essay), though I've found few observations that I haven't made myself about the show at some point. Still I expect it to be fun. And I've so many other books on the "To read" pile. I need to get cookin'.
scarlettina: (Merlin: Nap rays)
Saw the boy twice today, once in the morning, once in the afternoon. He's in a small kennel at the hospital, with one paw taped up to keep an IV in his leg and stable. He looked sad. He's eating, though, and drinking. When I'm there, he makes a point to arrange himself so that we can do what we do at home: He uses my hand for a pillow. Saturday morning he climbed onto my shoulder (he's in a top tier kennel) and perched there for a while--no such behavior today. He's having blood work done today, the results of which should come tomorrow. We'll see what happens from here.
scarlettina: (Default)
Did I get anything done this week? Gee. I feel like all memory of the earlier part of the week is just gone. Vanished. Blown away like smoke.

I'm looking around the house and trying to figure out how I washed dishes and watered plants and applied for jobs and fed myself. I feel so disjointed. Stress has never quite done this to me before: make me feel like I've lost time somehow.

I think the fog is lifting because I made a decision and am getting care for Merlin. It's taken care of, so I can focus on other things. I didn't realize I was feeling that way until I got home about 45 minutes ago, sat down, had lunch and read the news a bit. There will be laundry, linen changes, and Spanky-brushing.

There will also be a second visit to see Merlin. Saw him this morning and he looked sad. The vet said he's been eating very well, which is a good sign; he's just not happy being confined and hooked up to an IV, which I totally understand. I spent nearly a half hour with him, petting him and singing to him. I'll be seeing him this afternoon again, and bringing him some turkey breast because he loves it. The vet office is closed tomorrow, so I won't see him again until Monday. I'll be there early.
scarlettina: (Merlin: Nap rays)
Merlin's still with us.

I had an appointment with the vet at 2:30 today. [ profile] markbourne came by to drive me and Merlin there, and to keep me company. Merlin started the day well, eating and drinking. He settled down for a while, looking tired and walking wobbly. When it came time to go, he fought getting inside the carrier (which he's never done before), squirmed his way past me, then ran to the food and water bowls and had a pretty substantial lunch. It was at that point, despite being prepared for the worst, that I decided that that was his declaration. He wanted to fight.

He's been admitted to the hospital at the Cat Clinic of Seattle. He'll be there until Tuesday. I'll hear then whether or not treatments have worked. As [ profile] bravado111 said to me in Chat, time will tell.

I want to thank everyone for your supportive comments and phone calls. I can't tell you how much it means to me. I'll continue to post reports as I get them. Here's hoping this is the start of a new chapter.


Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 10:48 pm
scarlettina: (Merlin: Nap rays)
So here's where we're at. Merlin is here at home tonight. He's been interested in food and company but nothing else. He was wobbly most of the afternoon. Right now, he's upstairs sleeping. I have an appointment with the vet tomorrow afternoon. I want to see how he does tonight, what he's like in the morning. Sometimes he seems to be telling me he's ready to go. Sometimes he seems to want to stay. I want a clearer message from him. If he wants to fight, I'll fight with him. If not, then I'll let him go.

[ profile] ironymaiden brought Chinese food over for dinner tonight and then she took some pictures of me and Merlin together. After that, cats in laps, we watched a couple of episodes of Planet Earth until her C came to pick her up.

I don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight. I'm hellaciously tired, but I can't imagine slumber.

Merlin diagnosis

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 10:01 am
scarlettina: (Merlin: Nap rays)
Just got a call from the vet. She says he's got advanced kidney disease. Despite the meds and the fluids, his numbers have gotten exponentially worse. She says that more meds and a 5-day hospital stay are the only way to get him better ($1,100, not including follow-up meds), but there's no guarantee, at this stage, that such measures will work. As soon as she started talking about my considering his quality of life, I knew what this all really means. I think it means we've reached his last days.

So now I have to consider all of the following:
1) What sort of life do I want him to have in his last days: strange surroundings, needles, meds, or home time.
2) Can I afford hospital treatment?
3) Based on his behavior the last few days, I'm wondering if he's ready to go. I'm wondering if I'm ready to let him go.

I have always believed that quality of life is far more important than extension of life. This is a core issue for me. If he can't be comfortable and happy, then what's the point?

As he sits there, curled up in a patch of sun, skinny and dehydrated despite the fluids yesterday, I see both sides of the question. There's nothing like a patch of sun to rest in, especially when you're old and tired. He's been so listless lately, and at the same time so insistent about cuddling with me. He's also a last link to someone I loved down to my bones.

I can't be selfish about this because it's not about me.

I need to think.
scarlettina: (Sunflower)
Spanky is sitting on the living room floor, humming in a menacing fashion. Sometimes he's not menacing; sometimes he sounds like a little old Jewish man grousing about the kids on his lawn. Sometimes he sounds like a toddler whining, "Mommy! He's touching me!" All this mishegos because Merlin wants to sit a foot away from him in the same patch of sunlight.

Two inches of snow coats the balcony railing outside, even as the sun shines from a sky that is half deep blue and half threatening clouds. Right now, warm, gentle sunlight is streaming through all of my windows. Every living thing in my house (save Spanky) is basking contentedly. As noted above, Spanky's kvetching.

I'm supposed to attend a job-searching support group this morning, but I'm waiting to see how much of the snow will melt off before I attempt the outdoors. In the meanwhile, chores both on paper and around the house need addressing.


scarlettina: (Default)

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