Friday, February 17, 2017

Hail seitan

I have a different schedule this semester, which allows me to be home on Thursdays. Since I had finished my grading for the week earlier than expected, I had the afternoon to myself and decided to get a jump on some of my weekend kitchen chores. I needed to make dog food and seitan--neither of which I really enjoy making, so I planned to get a big batch of each made yesterday.

We've been having a lot of work done on the house for the last couple of months (everything takes FOREVER, because contractors--UGH!), so generally when I'm home during the day, he's either here working, or I'm expecting him (I'm often stood up). I knew I was going to be alone in the house (love that!), so I took some caffeine (a rare treat for me these days), played my Pandora Prince station way too loud, and spent the afternoon cooking, dancing, and singing badly.

I use the seitan recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. Isa has another seitan recipe posted on PPK here, but this is not the same as the one in the book that I use. I've found that for me the trick to making seitan is making sure I always keep prepared veggie broth in the fridge. The broth needs to be cold, or the gluten gets far too sticky, and it's quite frustrating to get started and then realize that you have to halt everything, because you don't have cold veggie broth. After I get the seitan prepared and simmering, I make up the veggie broth for the next batch, and seal and refrigerate. Then I always have it on hand and ready to go. I make a big batch of it--one bag of Bob's VWG makes 2.5 batches of the recipe, which is almost six pounds (14 cups). I package it up in 1, 2, and 3-cup containers and freeze it. There's a pretty strong expectation that once I make a new batch of seitan, shepherd's pie (my husband's favorite dish) with spicy cashew gravy will follow within the week. I've been craving jerk, so that will be coming soon, too.  
Kneaded, forming equal size pieces to simmer
Seitan (front) and dog food done cooking. Seitan has to stay in pot until it cools.
Seitan chopped, measured, and ready to freeze.
Dog food ready to freeze/refrigerate.
The very helpful cleanup crew
Veggie broth; ready to refrigerate for the next batch of seitan.

As I was snapping pictures, I took a quick shot of my very favorite kitchen tool--this little Ninja chopper. I picked it up a very long time ago at Target, and they still sell them for under $20. I use this every single day. It's powerful, easy to clean up, and has saved me so much time. Almost every dish I make starts out with finely chopped onions, garlic, and/or ginger. Though I have a big food processor (the Ninja blender/processor system, which is also fantastic), it's a real pain to get that out to mince a few cloves of garlic or an onion. This little thing sits on my counter, and I can do a 30-second rinse, and re-use for the next item. It's powerful enough that I often use it to make oat and almond flours as well as to completely pulverize the very crunchy cat kibble (for our toothless cat Daffy). It is seriously the best $20 I've spent.

I should add that I'm not compensated in any way by Ninja. I don't blog reliably enough to roll that way, nor could I live with myself if I sold out like that. I just really love the product and think for anyone who cooks, it's invaluable. When my last blender died (A KitchenAid, who I contacted to get it repaired but got no response from the company at all. They don't support their products, I don't buy them any more). I did a ton of research and went with the Ninja system for the following reasons: their chopper is awesome; we have a Shark Ninja vacuum that has put our old Dyson to shame (will never buy another--the parts are poor quality that need constant replacement), and they offered a lifetime warranty on their products if purchased through the website. I've been so happy with all of their products and customer support, that I purchase the Ninja duo system for my daughter for Xmas. They now only offer a five-year warranty rather than lifetime, but that's still quite impressive.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Poppy in Proximity

We lost our beloved cockatiel Franklin several weeks ago.  He was an old guy when we adopted him several years back, and this wasn't a surprise, but nonetheless a heartbreaking loss. While we've all grown attached to him, Poppy was his best friend and has suffered the greatest loss.  Poppy's parents, aunts, uncles, and Franklin were all quite old, and Franklin was the last of Poppy's flock.  We've had Max and Elvis (I have to point out that they came with these names--not my choice) for a couple of  years, and they came older and very pair bonded. They kept to themselves and didn't really mix into the existing flock. They never fought--just lived separate lives and spoke different dialects. I knew Poppy was going to take that last loss hard.  I've worried quite a bit over the last few months as I've seen the inevitable signs that Franklin was getting older and weaker. We went to the vet a couple of times, as he was losing weight, and each time, there was nothing wrong other than he was too thin and an old guy. Cockatiels can take loss so hard, that I really worry whenever one of them goes that the others will become depressed and/or ill.

Poppy and Franklin
 I was very concerned that without Franklin, Poppy would fall into loneliness and despair. He never seemed to like Max and Elvis, based on the disdain he showed them, so I didn't really see him integrating with them.

Elvis and Max
I have curiously observed Poppy's overtures at friendship over the last couple of weeks.  The first couple of weeks after his loss, he was quite depressed and stared at the wall a lot. He completely ignored Max & Elvis. I started spending a lot of time with him--singing and playing (which is mostly letting him pull on my nose ring or assault my face in various other ways) to cheer him up.  He started by watching them intently, sticking about three feet away from them (they previously usually stayed on different sides of the room).  He has progressively edged closer and now hangs within about a foot, sometimes less, of them.  Max & Elvis are rather strange, and they hang out in spots
Elvis, Max, Poppy (far right)
in the room that the other cockatiels never went.  Despite living in that room his whole life, Poppy has never played in the rabbit/guinea pig hay or the rabbits' box village, but suddenly he's just casually "hanging out" there by Max & Elvis.  They aren't yet including him, but they don't chase him away either, so the relationship is progressing slowly but positively. I've noticed a few times in the last week, that Poppy has made some slightly bolder advances--joining in when Max & Elvis "sing" with me (which is a different dialect from Poppy's repertoire) and even eating greens from the same plate as them.

I find this most interesting, because Poppy is a very confident, arrogant bird. He was raised with a loving flock that all took good care of him. He's always been cage free and feels like he owns the room.  The other cockatiels always catered to him ("the baby") and let him be the boss; he was a spoiled brat.  I didn't think he would humble himself to try to ingratiate himself into the other flock, but he most certainly is doing so. He's going about it in a very deliberate, conservative manner, and it's quite impressive. His need for connection is apparently more important than his need to be the boss, and he's playing a very different role than he has in the five+ years he's been alive.

I am planning to adopt some cockatiels, as soon as the right ones come into rescue.  It's rare that I only have three cockatiels.  They seem to prefer being in groups of 6-8.  I didn't want to take any chances on stressing Franklin, so I couldn't adopt anyone while Franklin was getting weaker.

For now, I've been spending extra time singing with Poppy. He really enjoys singing loud duets and taking turns repeating each other's tunes.  He is a little rude and domineering about it, frequently cutting me off in the middle of my turn, but in fairness, I'm a pretty awful singer. We both prefer his voice.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sharing a photo of Sophie...

Dej took this photo this morning.  Sophie looks quite angelic.

Friday, June 10, 2016

There's no sunshine when he's gone

Ivan, the cat who started it all, died very unexpectedly Wednesday. We did not know he was sick until I came downstairs Weds. morning to find him lying in his box, looking "off".  I picked him up and he was limp with some yellow fluid around his mouth. My mom came to get us and rush us off to the vet, as I was too upset to drive safely and really needed to hold my baby.

His blood work was good and his heart was good, so it was tough to determine the cause of his obviously critical condition.  Our option at that point was to drive him to Madison for an ultrasound, which was not an option for me. He was in absolute agony, stressed, and I couldn't leave him like that for several more hours. My primary vet was not in, as he had been in the hospital the previous week and was still home recovering.
  They called him, though, and he volunteered to come in, and do surgery on Ivan. It was the best option for quickly figuring out what was going on and potentially repairing it. I will forever be grateful to him for coming in when he was feeling so poorly. I have serious trust issues and was falling apart over my baby, and I trust Dr. Mark implicitly. He is the only one who could have given me the comfort and assurance I needed to survive this without second guessing myself for the rest of my life. I'm fine with all the vets at the clinic, but he's been with me through so much for more than twenty years. I can count on one hand the number of people who I trust to that level. He's been with Ivan since the beginning, and even my grouchy Ivan trusted him and allowed him "touch privileges" which were accorded to very few people.

He had been given pain meds, so we had lots of time to snuggle and cuddle before the doctor arrived. I gave him hundreds of kisses on his little face (one of his favorite things since he was a kitten--he'd close his eyes and lean into the kisses; he even used to approach me and make a kiss noise, requesting his face kisses) and left him on the surgical table.

I had convinced myself that Dr. Nelson would repair him--after all he was healthy, with good blood work, and only turned 12 last month.  They quickly found the problem. Ivan had colon cancer, and one of the tumors had burst, leaving the colon wall open. There was nothing in the world that could be done to fix my little boy.  They did offer to bring him out of anesthetic, so we could say a final goodbye, but I couldn't even consider putting him through that terror, pain, and confusion, only to euthanize him after. While every fiber in my body ached for one more round of snuggles and kisses, it would have been supremely selfish.

I've loved Ivan since the day he was found newborn, abandoned in a driveway, on May 9, 2004.  He was my first cat, and the bond we shared was profound. Ivan always kept me in sight. Wherever I was, I could almost always count on finding Ivan somewhere within range--he may be hiding, but he was always close and watching. He had intense needs for cuddles, and if given the option, would be touching me 24 hours a day.  As long as he was touching me, he couldn't be happier.  He spent most of the rest of the time being grouchy and complaining. He loved his sisters and Mark and was extremely affectionate with them too.  Being the center of someone's universe is a huge responsibility and could be exhausting and even frustrating at times. It also means that he was a huge part of every second of my existence, and I'm absolutely lost with him. I look for him 100 times a day and am currently on my third day of a cry-induced migraine.

At this moment, life without him seems unfathomable. I will adjust eventually, but he's been my faithful shadow for 12 years, and I feel incredibly incomplete without him.

He always held my hand while he slept.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Happy birthday; "love's too weak to define just what you mean to me"

The semester is officially wrapped up and done, both for my classes and the high school classes I was working with.  I do have one remaining high school student who is "flexing" her semester through the summer to finish up some work and her project.  That's only one student, though, so it's not a ton of work for me.  I do have to finish up the website my college students started but couldn't find time to finish. It's very needed and for a local non-profit, so I don't want to leave them hanging. Right now, that and gardening are my top priorities.  I'll be really glad when that's wrapped up, so I can focus more on the garden, and a couple of classes I purchased but haven't yet had time to take.

We're in the midst of several painting projects in the house, and we have several more large repair projects that we need done over the summer, but are unqualified to do the work. We had a really good guy for a couple of years, but though the quality of his work is still outstanding, he flakes and can't be counted on at all anymore. I'm not sure what happened to him, but it's really a bummer.  I have a couple of numbers to call, but I haven't been able to make myself do so yet. I really need these projects done, but I hate phone calls and I hate start out with new people. Every day I try to make myself call, but the last couple I tried didn't turn out well, and it's just so incredibly stressful to interact with new people and to allow new people (non veg.!) in our home.  I would pay so much for a reliable vegan carpenter/handyperson! I anticipate this whole situation will be my "fly in the ointment" all summer.  It's so annoying to have a long list of jobs (at least three weeks of work), money to pay, and be unable to find appropriate help.

Over my long blogging absence, our Fergus bunny finally succumbed to one of many ailments he was getting pounded with. He was quite old and as often happens with the very aged, he started to get one illness after another.  We thought he would pull through the last one like he had all the others, but the little guy was just done. Fiona, his loving partner of 7 years, and I cared for him until the end. He was such a fun little guy and a great partner to Fiona. She lived without a partner, for the first time, for about a month.

I'm lucky to have a close friend with a rabbit sanctuary, so Fiona had a series of dates with some dapper rabbits of a variety of ages and sizes, and we were able to find a partner that was a good match.  Ferrero was her last of four or five dates, and they definitely had the best chemistry. I think she would have been happy with any of them.  She's a very chill rabbit and seems to be quite social with other animals of all species, and I've never seen any sign of aggression from her.  However, when the intent is to keep the rabbits in the same room for the rest of their lives, I'd like the rabbits to actually enjoy and not simply tolerate one another.

It took a little longer to get Ferrero moved in than we initially anticipated. We knew he had some health issues (neutering! and an ear amputation), but there were some complications/infections, and that added a little time to his recovery period. It was rough seeing her so lonely during those weeks. Her activity level dropped, and she was definitely depressed.  I gave her a large stuffed teddy bear, hoping at least having a soft body to sleep next to would help.  Finally Ferrero moved in, so we split the room in half, and let them interact that way while I was not in the room, with free access when I was there to observe.  After a several days of watching closely, I slowly extended their time out to include unsupervised time.  After a week, it was clear that they were not having any issues at all and really, really wanted to be together, so we removed the barrier, and they've been happy together since.

They both enjoy working on their bunny construction projects--putting doors and windows in very specific arrangements in a series of cardboard boxes and tubes, and then arranging the boxes and tubes in very specific ways that I don't really understand.  There is apparently a system, though, because if I move something, they make a point to hop over and rather rudely slam the box back into its designated spot. I swear there's a bit of an eye roll when they do it  ("Fucking dumb human. Clearly the Amazon box should be next to the Shark box, not the small box!").

Fiona has always had a raging sweet tooth.  They both loved their sweets (fruit and the sweeter veggies).  You could use Fiona to accurately rank the glycemic index of a grouping of fruits and veggies.  She will eat them always in order of most sweet to least.  While Fergus enjoyed his strawberry tops as much as Fi, he would mix up the order a bit--some strawberry tops, some greens, more strawberry tops, more greens, etc.  Not Fi. She eats from sweet to bitter--she even eats her mixed greens in this order, picking out the purples first, then moving to spinach, etc.  All that is to say that I think she's been a bad influence on Ferrero.  When he first came, he ate his greens, then his strawberry tops. I've noticed a gradual change, and the last couple of weeks, he eats all his strawberry tops before the greens now.

He's a sweet little guy, and I love him, but he's still warming up to me.  When he arrived, he had been through so much--brought into a shelter as a stray with a host of physical injuries, surgeries, medications, transferring homes--he's had a rough time.  He moved into yet another new environment, with a new person, and I had to give him antibiotic injections. He had no trust in me, so it was pretty brutal. He would run and try to hide in the corner, while I had to grab him and inject him between the shoulder blades.  He would cower and lean away like I was abusing him. I felt awful.  The injections are long since done, but now I have to build trust, as I violated it right off the bat.  He likes my feet, and headbutts my feet and legs a lot. I talk to him and and am slowly earning his trust as the food lady.  He's not really excited about my hands, yet.  We'll get there.  Slowly.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


...And now you're gone and I just want to be still
So silent, I'll just let my senses sleep

It's gonna be so hard to hear my voice
If I ever learn once more to speak
I'm so lost, no one can find me
And I've been looking for so long
But now I'm done
I'm so low, solo, my name is No One

Monday, February 08, 2016


Obviously, I've continued to struggle with keeping up my blogging.  In the three months since my last post, the husband and I have each had a birthday, we survived another holiday season, one daughter graduated from college, and the other turned 16.  I'm on the second day of the new semester and thought I better blog now before the homework starts rolling in and I am snowed under with grading.

Breanna (Brea) the puppy:

Brea is seven months old now.  She was spayed at the end of December, and we enjoyed one night where she was exceptionally quiet and mellow.  She rebounded from the surgery quickly, and by the next day was already tearing around like the insane little pup she is. She and Froggie have continued their very sweet relationship.  They are inseparable.  She's grown quite a bit (we had to move her up to a larger collar and a larger diaper size) but is still much smaller than we had expected her to be.  She won't grow much more at this point.  We have gotten really good at changing diapers on a constantly moving puppy!
Sophie, Brea, Froggie

I am trying to train her to use potty bells, as she is able to hold it somewhat, but to a very limited extent.  It would be nice if she could let us know when she needs to go, rather than sticking to an schedule of putting her out every 90 minutes or so to try to catch it.  She was initially quite afraid of the bells, but after two months, she is no longer afraid, so I'm trying to get her to interact with them. She doesn't really like the idea at this point, but I think she'll catch on eventually.



Dej's graduation was long awaited, and we're very proud of her. She ended college on a very high note--good grades, a strong work ethic, a completed internship, good connections, a love of learning, and a passion for her future career.  Now she's working on the very difficult task of finding employment.  It's a rough time of year, but she's committed and will find something.

Sadly, we have discussed changing her name on her application materials.  We still live in a world in which her (ethnic-sounding) name significantly impacts her ability to find a job.  I hate giving in to that, and I'm glad the final decision is hers. I wouldn't want to have to make that decision.

Dej's boyfriend got her this sweater for Xmas.
Another reason I have a hard time blogging is that some stories are not my own to tell, even though they may monopolize my life, thoughts, and energy.  One of those stories has been behind significant changes in our lives.  Dej and her long-term partner split up earlier last year.  He has been part of our family for a long time, and this has been a difficult adjustment for all of us.  They continued living together until her college graduation. It made more sense to share expenses and keep the animals intact until we reached a point where they could deal with moving and selling the house.  The split was hard on everybody, though at this point, they have both moved on and are involved with other people, M & I (and my parents) are still kind of sad and struggling with it.

Until she finds a permanent job and knows where she will be geographically, it doesn't make much sense to get her set up somewhere with her dog and four cats, only to have to move again when she gets a job.  So, she moved back home right before the holidays.  I spent a few months in extreme stress over the chaos of fitting all of her stuff, her animals, and all of our very big personalities and moods into our house.  It has turned out so much better than I had anticipated.

We're really enjoying having her back home. It was great to have so much time together over the holidays.  Integrating the animals hasn't been nearly as painful as I thought it would be either. There have been some spats and a little more territory urination, but it's been shockingly smooth for the most part.

The biggest loss for me has been my workout room.  That has been my joy, my sanctuary, and now it's her bedroom.  I now work out in the living room.  I miss the padded floor, the privacy, the neatly organized weights/videos/etc.--my little sanctuary.  It's not the end of the world, though, and when Dej is home (she's spends a lot of time in Michigan with her partner), she works out with me, which is really cool!

Back to School:
Still inseparable.
Today is the first day of the third week of my semester. Typically I hit my groove and settle into the semester around the third week, but the flu hit our household last week (horrible timing!), and I had to cancel a day of classes and spend a few days in bed.  This has kind of thrown me off, and I feel a little behind and out of sorts yet.  I think once I get through next week, I should be settled into the routine nicely. All three of us got it (Dej was in MI with her boyfriend, so she missed it), so I'm hoping we have our major illness out of the way for this year.

Campus is very different, with about 1/3 of our already very small staff gone.  It's still rather depressing and hard to come in.  Everyone is still walking around looking/feeling rather shell shocked.  It's such a tragedy to see first hand the devastation that Walker has inflicted on the state's educational system.  

In addition to my full-time teaching, and the local high school class I'm working with (I did give in and agree to do the grading as a volunteer; there's just no one else to do it.), I agreed to help out with two online computer science classes for another high school in the state.  With all of the teacher cuts throughout the state, many districts have been forced to purchase online curriculum from virtual schools in other states (mostly Florida, which explains the nauseatingly poor quality of these courses).  Many schools have no computer science or foreign language teachers, so to fill in the curriculum gaps, they bought these really bad courses, enrolled students, and then subsequently realized that the courses are not good at all; there are underlying technology problems; the students still need a human to answer questions (especially in a programming class!), grade their work, and provide feedback.  This is the role I've taken on.  I truly don't have time, but I know that I was their very last hope, and I couldn't walk away from the poor kids, who are stuck in a class they've put so much time into.  It's created a lot of stress, because it's one more thing that I'm perpetually behind on.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Breanna joined our family on October 2.  We met her the Sunday before but needed a little time to get the house puppy ready, so we endured five very long days of anticipation--waiting for her to come home, after meeting and falling in love with her.  She's about four and a half months old and weighs around 13 pounds.  She's part worm, I think, as she only stops wiggling when she's sleeping.  Her mom was a white pitbull (maybe pit/boxer mix?), and we're pretty confident that her dad was a German Shorthaired Pointer.

Puppies are new territory for us.  We typically adopt senior dogs, as that's my real passion. I love the seniors and can't abide the thought of these poor older animals being dumped in their golden years.  We will continue to adopt seniors going forward. This was a one-time deviation. :)  L & Mark have been campaigning for a puppy for years.  They love the older dogs, too, but craved the energy and exuberance of a puppy.  We've had a lot of losses lately (as you tend to when you adopt senior/special needs animals), and our remaining three dogs are all over ten, so the idea of adopting a dog we wouldn't be losing in the next couple of years held some appeal.  I could use a little break from terminal illness and death.  M & I are also at an age where we're still young enough (theoretically, anyway) to keep up with a puppy, but probably wouldn't be up for doing so as we get older and don't have any kids at home.  All of those factors, coincided with a special needs puppy.  I wouldn't take a healthy puppy, because they are easy to place, but a disabled puppy is not so easy, so that seemed quite fortuitous. M was still in England for our initial meeting, but we knew they would love each other and had no concerns there.

Breanna's foster mom brought her, and things went well, except for Froggie's strange inappropriate social skills.  He demands that other animals play with him by barking relentless at them, and if they continue to ignore him, he charges them and smashes his flat little face into their flank.  It's rather odd. He doesn't mean any harm, but it can be obnoxious and off putting to other animals.  It was so obnoxious, I had to repeatedly send L to take him upstairs, so we could talk without his constant interruption. I was anticipating some major work on getting Froggie to socialize in a less offensive way and also anticipating some jealousy issues, since Froggie still thinks he's my conjoined twin.

L & I went to pick her up from her foster home in Rockford the following Friday, with M still in England.  She was snuggled up in her blanket in L's lap, when about seven minutes into the car ride, her nervous puppy diarrhea hit.  It was a very long, smell, messy ride home.  We arrived home, with all three of us covered in shit and stench. We got cleaned up, did laundry, and gave Brea a bath.  As soon as she dried, we took the pack for a nice long walk.

After we returned from the walk, the Froggie issue resolved itself perfectly.  He decided that he would be her playmate, best friend, and protector from that point forward.  He doesn't mind sharing me or his toys with her, so there have been no jealousy issues to navigate. They are the cutest bonded pair!  They play and wrestle endlessly, they snuggle up to sleep, and I have to be somewhat alert, because he takes his job of protecting her seriously, and I've seen him get snappish with strangers who try to touch her.  We're working on that.  I love how they love each other, though. They are the oddest pair.  She is quickly getting bigger, so I worry a little bit about my tiny old man, as she continues to play roughly with him.  She gets along with all of the other dogs in our family and extended family, but Froggie is clearly "hers".  The other dogs are not nearly as playful or tolerant of her roughhousing, so she doesn't find them nearly as interesting.

We're in the midst of potty training, and while she's definitely progressing, we have a long way to go.  One of the big unknown factors is how much bladder/sphincter control she will ultimately have, as her back end didn't form properly.  She's missing some bones and muscle function back there, but we don't yet know the full extent.  She wears diapers in the house, and we do positive reinforcement only.  I am planning to add bells and try bell training, so she can ask to go out, but we have some concerns that any bells we put up for the dogs will end up being used as cat toys.  We'll see how that goes...

Breanna's foster mom runs the rescue organization, Mending Hearts, and she chose the name, because it meant "strong", and little Brea has already overcome quite a bit of adversity and progressed beyond expectations.  Foster mom was advised that Brea should be euthanized. It's not a name we would have chosen, but she came with it, and it works.  She knows her name and comes when called (usually--she's in the Terrible Two phase right now), but she most often gets called Brea.  We seem to end up with nicknames for all of our animals.

She's curious, energetic, happy, fun, and a little bit naught--all of the things a puppy should be.  It's been fun watching her grow and mature just in the 2.5 weeks we've had her.  She's learned so much, so quickly, and it's really intriguing to watch her little brain develop. I will be glad/relieved when she gets past the stage of trying to chew and eat absolutely anything that fits into her mouth.  She loves to play outside but can't be left unattended for even a minute. I have removed rocks, sticks, wood chips, various plant stems and pieces, countless leaves, poop, and other questionable objects from her mouth, all picked up while I was standing right next to her.  She's quick and curious, and requires constant attention.

She's 4.5 months old now, and as soon as she gets a little bigger and stronger, we'll have to take her in to get spayed.  I'm pretty sure that's an overnight recovery, so I'm already dreading having to leave my baby.

I can't help but think about how much Damon would have loved her.  He would have adored playing with her and Froggie! They would have been the cutest group of best friends.  I wish she could have known him.

I finally caught up on grading, which is why I'm finally able to blog.  It's been a very busy semester, and I have hard time allowing myself to blog (or do anything else online) when I know I have a queue of student assignments waiting for grades.  I have a batch of group projects and presentations that still need to be graded, but those just came in today, so as long as I get those done by the weekend (which I will), they can wait a bit.  I'm going to try to get my midterm grades entered tonight (two whole days early!), instead of two hours before the deadline.

Monday, October 05, 2015

3 Down; 1 To Go

So my husband is in England for another week.  He has already been gone for three weeks. He's working as an intern at Great Dixter gardens, in southern England. I don't normally share on social media when he (or we) are gone, because it's just not smart.  He was gone quite a lot this summer, but I don't generally like to mention it for security reasons.  I've asked him more times than I can count if he would refrain from posting on social media until he returns.  As he prefers to live update his friends and strangers to every detail of his travel on multiple forms of social media rather than waiting until he returns, there's really no point in me not mentioning it here.  I'm not thrilled with his decision to make this trip (he is very aware of this), but he chose to do it, and I have no choice but to accept it.

Needless to say, since my life is over scheduled already, inheriting his chore load makes life nearly unmanageable.  It's quite stressful to say the least.  I'm incredibly grateful to my parents, who have filled in and helped with L's school transportation and other instances where I simply cannot be in two places at one time.  As my body is a giant asshole, it has decided that now is the perfect time to crap out on me and start failing and having issues.  This has slowed me down quite a bit, I know that my stress levels are high and my quality sleep is really low, and that tends to exacerbate any existing conditions.  It's very frustrating that it's doing this when I can least handle it!  It's really my own fault, I guess, because if I could learn to keep my stress levels lower, I probably wouldn't be struggling with health issues.  I am not good at lowering stress.  I've tried biofeedback of various types and meditation and failed miserably at both.  I am the worst meditater in the world and have just given up on trying.  Sleep and meditation continue to elude me--I repeatedly fail to do either effectively.

On the up side, the girls and I have enjoyed lots of spicy food in his absence.  We all love hot chilies, but he can't handle that much spice, so I normally cook to his tolerance level.  His trip coincided with peak Habanero and Scotch Bonnnet season, and I had a bumper crop in the garden this year, so I've been making everything better by adding roasted Habaneros/Scotch Bonnets to our food.  It adds such a rich, smokey flavor.  I processed a ton of them this weekend, cleaning, roasting, dicing, and freezing, so I have a good supply to get me through the winter.  I'm hoping to harvest another big batch next weekend and make some salsa.

Jezebel and I just returned from the vet, where we had to schedule yet another mass removal (Friday).  She is the queen of weird growths on her body and has had several removed.  So far, they haven't been malignant, but each time I find a new growth, it's terrifying, and I can't sleep until I get results. This one is weird, according to the vet.  He's not sure what to make of it, but is leaning towards a gut feeling that it's benign.  I'll take that, as I really need the comfort right now.  Poor Jezi will have stitches again!  **Update:  I started this post over a week ago.  Jezi had her mass removed and it was weird but benign.  So relieved!

Froggie has a suspicious small lump near where his last malignant tumor was removed, but aspiration revealed no cancer cells.  We're watching it carefully, and I'm trying not to obsess about it, but I admit that I'm still quite afraid it's an early malignancy, and there aren't enough cancer cells to show up yet.

Our new puppy will be moving in with us this Friday.  I'm really excited but a little nervous, too.  It's been a long time since I've had a puppy.  Jez was a little over six months old when we adopted her, and she's over ten now.  This pup is only 3.5 months old.  She is full of energy and as sweet as could be.  My family has wanted to adopt a puppy for some time now, but I really feel strongly about adopting senior animals, who are much harder to place than puppies.  This little girl has some special needs and would not be very easy to place, so she seemed to be a good compromise.  The family gets the puppy they wanted, but I don't feel guilty for taking an easy-to-place animal.  Another huge benefit is to Jezebel, who has never had pups but has always been an incredibly maternal, nurturing dog. She cares for all of the animals in our house (real and stuffed) with such tenderness, that I've often felt bad that she didn't get to be a mom.  I think the puppy will make her very happy, and the puppy, being so young and abandoned by her dog mom, will be glad to have another dog mommy to snuggle with.  Breanna is a pit mix, just like Jezebel.

We met Breanna (her foster mom named her) yesterday, and have been missing her since she left.  We will pick her up Friday night and bring her home for good.  Between now and then, I have to get the house put back together (from some construction/repair projects that are wrapping up), puppy-proof for her safety, and work on making some modifications so she can get around easier.  Her back legs didn't form properly, nor did her sphincter muscle, so she has some problems with her back end and mobility.  She is able to walk and run (though it's a decidedly unique gait), but is more prone to slipping, falling, and having her legs give out.  I need to configure the house so she can tear around like a little maniac (she was awesomely high energy yesterday, running around and exploring) without worrying about her injuring herself.

We will have to potty train her, though she may still have issues due to her deformity.  I've ordered some washable diapers for her.  I hope she is able to not have to wear them for long, or at least not full time, but I don't know how that will play out in the future.  We will figure it out together.  It will be quite an adventure, and Friday feels way too far away.