Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Night Dog Update

Okay, so he spent his day at the vet, and these are the results:

1 - The vet found nodules on his liver in the ultrasound/sonogram/whatever, and possibly a larger mass (not clear on that bit.)

2 - They didn't bother with the Cushing's blood test, as this didn't jibe with Cushing's syndrome.

3 - The possible diagnoses include some manner of cancer or some manner of not-cancer, one being treatable and the other untreatable.  To learn more, we must consult a specialist who can do a biopsy.

4 - Nothing else looked off, so if it is malignant it's confined to the liver.

5 - The vet techs at this animal hospital are rather half-arsed and couldn't even figure out how to use a Pill Pocket treat without botching it.

So, not the greatest news, but it could be worse.  We figure it's worth looking into a needle biopsy; he's worth that much, at least, though if it proves to be the untreatable option we don't think we want to put him through too much misery for no reason.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Wait

One of our dogs has been having trouble getting around.  He has the dreaded "shepherd hips", and he's not exactly a puppy anymore, but with canine glucosamine he's been managing.

Until this morning.

My sister found him stuck outside in the rain, unable to climb the short flight of stairs to the dog door.

So she wrestled him into the car and, along with Dad (to help wrestle him out again), took him to the vet.

That was nearly two hours ago, and I haven't had a call since. (Well, the phone has rung four times, but they were all hang-ups and/or telemarketers.).

I can't decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing...

AFTERNOON UPDATE:  The dog's still at the vet, where they hope to get X-rays.  He may have an infection of some sort, which means that maybe they can do something for his pain.  Fingers crossed and we'll see...

AFTERNOON UPDATE UPDATE:  Well, he's home.  Oddly enough, his hips are crystal-clear on the X-rays: no signs of dysplasia, despite a lifetime of the "shepherd walk." Even the vet seemed amazed.  On the other paw, the trouble walking has been traced to a bad infection originating in a hind paw, which will require fairly intensive home therapy.  They also found that his liver was disturbingly enlarged, so he goes in on Friday for an ultrasound.  Otherwise, he seems to doing decently, with no overt signs of trouble (aside from those already mentioned.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Blazing Hills

It's that time of year again.  The days may grow shorter, the skies may grow grayer, the weather may turn colder, but - for a time, at least - the leaves compensate with their own fireworks show.

Now, this part of the country isn't known for its spectacular fall foliage.  Unlike back East, we have fewer "show" species.  We get gorgeous yellows and golds on our big leaf maples, but to find eye-searingly bright colors, you have to do some looking.  Which is what we did today.

Every year, we mean to go looking at fall leaves.  And nearly every year, we never do.  Things come up.  Family plans fall through.  Nobody pins down a date.  But this morning we had lighter gray skies, and many of the trees around town had been teasing us with color explosions for weeks.  Enough was enough.  Mom, my sister, and I grabbed our cameras and headed up I-90 to look for fall leaves.


Our first stop (after gas) was Rattlesnake Lake, where we bypassed the lake itself and visited the Cedar River Education Center.  We hadn't been there before, and were pleasantly surprised.  It featured a cool water feature running around and through the entire facility, a small educational center explaining how water travels from the ocean through the ecosystems, and nice views of Rattlesnake Lake and Rattlesnake Ridge. (No, no rattlesnakes - at one time, evidently,  camas plants were abundant in the area, and their seed pods rattled in a manner reminiscent of rattler tails.)  A central garden area featured rain drums, which are drums played by rain (or rather driplines) in a random fashion.

A trail near the center led by a row of old maples in their fall yellows and golds, remnants of the old company town that worked the nearby hydroelectric projects.

Inside the interpretive center were some neat displays, including this overhead root ball.  Either the illuminated portions were artistic additions, or people should reconsider drinking the water around here...

After that, we poked our way further up the interstate.  On a small side road we happened upon a beautiful stand of vine maples and some neat snags.

More meanderings brought us to this picturesque hollow stump.

Further up the way, more vine maples...

And about as high as one can go, with yet more color lighting up the alpine slopes.

On the way back home, we meandered through back roads filled with autumn's glory.  The sun finally broke through, painting the world in vibrant colors beyond my ability to photograph, let alone describe.

In a few short weeks, the color will be gone.  The grays and browns and rain-dampened greens will again dominate for the long, cold months until spring returns.  I've never minded the grays so much, being a local native.  Even so, I still enjoy this last burst of color.  It may not rank high on a national level, but it's enough for me.

Monday, October 05, 2009

And Thus The Madness Begins

This afternoon, at my workbench, I cut a length of wire.

In and of itself, not so momentous an event, but it marked the official start of the 2009 Holiday Ornament Blitz.

I'd been gathering ideas and materials since early September, but today was the first time I actually started using said ideas and materials in some concrete manner.  For me, it's a relatively early start, but I have a significant workload I hope to tackle this year, and as anyone who has ever made things for the holidays can attest, there's no such thing as starting too early.

Considering that my budget may not allow for much in the way of actual gift purchases, it puts all the more pressure on to make these things perfect, beautiful, and - above all else - finished by the end of December.  Earlier, if I can help it.  It would probably go much smoother if I had a firm plan in my mind, but I usually go into these things with only a rough idea of a concept in my head, letting the rest work itself out as material choice clashes with (in)ability and (lack of) talent.  I almost never end up with what I thought I'd end up with, though over the years I've noticed that the end results tend to look marginally better as I go along.

That simple snip of wire marked the beginning of countless sessions sitting at my workbench, fighting wire or clay or paint or beads.  It marked the start of numerous rummages through disorganized boxes and drawers and untold last-minute trips to the craft store.  It marked the first of many successes and failures and frustrations and all-around hair-pulling that somehow, impossibly, tends to resolve itself into a halfway presentable "thing" in the end.  Even though I knew from experience that the creative road is never a straight or easy one, it felt good to start down it once again.

I wonder how it'll all turn out.