Sewing is Good for the Soul

I visited my sewing machine today. It’s been a bit lonely lately, I’m sure. There it sits on that lovely custom sewing table day after day, and it can’t even enjoy the view from the window because it’s turned toward the opposite wall. I’ve been doing some quilt related things recently as I hinted here, but they don’t really involve that “hands on” time with the sewing machine and fabric.

It all started with making the bed. Confession time: I’m not a bed-maker. I never have been. Why make the bed when you’re just going to get in it later and mess it up? ITMan doesn’t care one way or the other–he’s not a bed-maker either–so we get along fine. When we get out of bed, we just pull up the covers a bit, and go on about the day. Shadow loves that especially in winter since he can go burrow under the covers and sleep when he gets cold during the day, and Patches sometimes makes his bed there as well on top of the feather duvets. Read More

Love Match

Shadow’s found his perfect mate:

Shadow getting cozy with the heater

It’s not even like it’s that cold in here today, but he certainly thinks it is since he’s hugging “his” heater! And look at that tummy, all healed up and covered with fur again after his surgery in December. Life is good!

Taking a Breath

The manuscript for The Book is D.O.N.E. Done! I finished writing and drawing diagrams and editing photos today. I do still have to complete three of the quilts (they have been started, but my editor said that it would help them if I finished up the manuscript so that they could get that asap, and the quilts could come later). I also have to separate out the text and pictures and diagrams into separate files and such, so that it’s in the right format to submit, but I’m going to take a break for a few days, and finish that up right after Christmas. I can look at the text one more time with fresh eyes after I’ve been away from it for a few days and give it one more editing run through.

Whew! What this all means is that I really did know exactly how long it would take me to finish all of this. I told the editor around the first of November that I could have everything done by the end of December, and that’s exactly how it’s turned out. I had it figured that there wasn’t a lot of time for anything but working on the manuscript and the quilts; no lunches with ITMan or friends, no breaks for casual shopping, not a lot of reading for pleasure (and I miss my reading!), none of those extracurriculars.

Other than that, it means that now I can take a small breath, try to catch up a bit and make Christmas as close to normal as it can be at this point. ITMan and I are going out shopping tomorrow and Monday to see what last minute small things we can pull together for each other and the kids, and get the food shopping for Christmas done. I might work in some Christmas baking on Sunday and Monday as well, and then I do have to make Christmas Tree Bread dough on Tuesday and shape the loaves on Wednesday, because it’s just NOT Christmas without it.

Right now, I’m headed to bed early, to read the book that’s been on my bedside table since I bought it in Houston. It’s a new book about Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey, one of my favorite authors, and it’s been sitting there calling me since the end of October. I’m sure Shadow will join me there (he’s still doing well, and we’re all looking forward to Monday when he can have stitches removed and get rid of the collar), and Patches may even deign to share me and the bed with him for a bit. *sigh* It’s the little things.

Edit: And for any of you who have been reading since last year, I did (finally) update the Christmas Tree Bread recipe post with pictures of the bread, such as they are. Maybe I can remember to get even better pictures this year!

He Lives, He Purrs, He Plays

Warning: If you’re squeamish at all, you might want to skip this first bit, and come back in two or three paragraphs.

At one week post-op, Shadow looks as if he’ll survive the whole ordeal. It was not an easy week mind you. Aside from the “normal” recovery issues like meds three times daily, almost constant observation, and little sleep for either one of us, Thursday night he woke me up from a sound sleep and tried to jump off the bed. I barely caught him before he went, since I thought jumping off of my rather high bed might be pushing it a bit on only day three after surgery. His flying leap turned into a somewhat controlled tumble with my help, and then he proceeded to throw up blood all over the bedroom floor. And I do mean all over.

I think I must have lost two years of my life right there. Just barely awake, all I could think of was that he was just one step away from death since he was vomiting huge amounts of blood, so I called the vet in a panic at 3 a.m. It turned out to be old blood, really dark in color, probably left over from the surgery. If I’d been a little more alert, I might have realized at least that much on my own and not panicked so badly. The vet said not to worry too much, if he was otherwise acting okay and didn’t continue vomiting. Um, was he okay? Heck, I didn’t even know at that point. I looked around, and sure enough, he was acting pretty darn fine considering the state I was in. He probably felt a lot better after getting all of that out of his stomach. On the other hand, I needed a drink. Or a Prozac.

I let the vet go back to bed, and cleaned up the mess. I’ve never been sooo glad not to have carpet in my life. He also managed not to hit anything important, like upholstered antique chairs, bedskirts and the like, and the only thing I had to wash was a throw rug, so the only casualty was a good night’s rest and my peace of mind. Oh, and the two years of my life that are now gone from the fright.

Even though the vet said he was probably not going to die any time soon, I took him back to the clinic on Friday since he hadn’t started eating yet after the surgery, and his wound was still leaking a bit of fluid as it had been all week. I thought it would be best to let the vet look him over before the weekend, in case there was anything else we needed to do. He still wouldn’t eat, and was terribly thin though he was acting normal otherwise, and he even started purring that morning while he was in my lap. I came home from the clinic with even more meds for this cat than I did right after the surgery.

The vet was concerned that if he didn’t start eating soon his liver would shut down, and then he really would have big problems, so he gave us a liquid medicine to coat the stomach to cut down on irritation, as well as two different recovery diet type liquid food things, and instructions to force feed him those if he wouldn’t eat anything else. I was also to give him the anti-acid tablets again that he was on before the surgery.

He turned up his nose at both the liquid diets just like I knew he would, and still wouldn’t eat his regular canned food, though he might have eaten the normal dry food that he wasn’t allowed to have. I finally resorted to canned Albacore tuna mashed up with lots of water, which he ate pretty happily and then licked the bowl clean. The tuna was the turning point, though I did give him a couple of syringes full of each of the liquid diets since he was surely in need of the calories and nutrients at that point.

Shadow was much improved even by Saturday evening. He actually brought his favorite toy to me and wanted me to play fetch with him just like a normal day. I didn’t throw it very far, though he looked rather put out about that, like I wasn’t putting enough effort into the game. He looked pretty funny with his cone around his head and his toy in his mouth:

Shadow playing fetch

At this point, he’s eating normally and putting some weight back on already, and acting like his usual self mostly, except that he still has the collar around his neck and it’s driving him nuts not to be able to wash and scratch normally. The collar comes off on Monday when the stitches come out. I truly didn’t expect him to be so well recovered by now, and I don’t think the vet did either, since he told me it would be a week or two after the stitches were removed before he would be running around and jumping on furniture, but here he is, doing just that. He’s obviously not ready for the Kitty 500 just yet, but I doubt his convalescence will save my Christmas tree from harm this year.

Shadow: 5 of 9 left to go

Poor Shadow is really not the lucky cat, I tell you. Or I’m not the lucky owner, or something. Or maybe it’s that we both really ARE lucky, since he may have survived yet another life-threatening crisis. It seems we’re doing this far to often though, and he’s burning up those nine lives faster than the norm, considering he is only three years old.

He’d been vomiting since Saturday evening, and I took him in to the emergency vet on Sunday for meds. We’d been through this back in September, and the symptoms looked rather the same, so I really thought that it was time to do some more serious testing in the way of bloodwork and x-rays to try to figure out what is really wrong, instead of just calling it gastritis and moving on.

The vet didn’t want to do bloodwork and x-rays on a Sunday because she said it was so expensive, and that since he looked in very good health despite the vomiting, we should try medication first anyway. So after far too many hours in the clinic, an antibiotic shot and a shot to stop the vomiting, we head home with anti-acid tablets as well. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much improvement, if any at all, and he was still vomiting Monday morning.

Back we went to the vet clinic. This time, bloodwork and x-rays commenced right away, and the results weren’t pretty. The bloodwork was just fine, but the x-ray showed that he’d swallowed a needle, of all things, and it was somewhere in his digestive system, but the vet couldn’t really pinpoint where. Surgery was the only option at that point.

He had the surgery very late Monday afternoon, and was home Monday night. It seemed to take forever for the anesthesia to wear off, and I was really worried that he’d take a tumble down the stairs on top of everything else, so we were all on cat watch by turns while we tried to get dinner. He did finally settle down a bit, but after a while I figured that what he really wanted was his heater, so I took him upstairs and he crashed for about three hours, soaking up the heat.

Shadow post op

His incision is 4-8″ long; I haven’t really had the heart to look too closely, but they did have to just go in and look around until they found the needle, so it’s got to be pretty big. They also found that the thread was still attached to the needle, and the thread was actually wrapped around the back of his tongue! Considering all that, it’s amazing that he’s lived over it.

I’m sure that the thread was the major part of the attraction for him, as he just has this “thing” for threads and strings and things like curling ribbon, and we’re always very careful to keep these things away from him, but obviously not careful enough this time. I know where he got the needle and thread; the needle was a beading needle with nylon bead thread attached so it had to come from my beading table in the back room. So I’m feeling the guilt about all this, that I wasn’t diligent enough, though ITMan was kind enough to say that if it hadn’t been a needle, it most assuredly would have been something else at some point, because that’s just how this cat is.

His recovery is likely to be long and demanding. Trying to sleep last night was no picnic for either of us, and he actually looks worse today than he did last night. I’m beginning to think that I should just plan on sleeping when he does really, so that I’m awake when he’s moving about, or trying to anyway. It will probably be quiet on the blog for a bit. He’s really not out of danger yet either, I suspect; after a major surgery like this, I know that there are so many things that could still go wrong, but I’m hoping for the best. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to be diligent, and keep track of your needles and threads, right? Wish us luck, and keep us in your thoughts.

Patchwork Times–Book Report, Car Dealers and Climate Control

After a pretty productive week last week on The Book, I feel like this week may get away from me entirely until Friday. The minutiae of at least two weeks of life is condensed into this one week, with “something” to do each day. I did manage to finish one of the biggest projects in the book over the weekend, and I’ve made great progress on the next biggest. Once these two are out of the way, I’ll feel a lot better about how quickly the manuscript will get done.

ITMan and I spent the entire day today (and I really do mean the entire day, from 7:45 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.) dealing with car maintenance. Both cars needed their winter tires put on and oil changes, as well as a couple of smaller fix-its and warranty repairs, so we just used his day off to get it done. It might not have taken quite so long had the service department not lost the keys to the Mustang. Yes, they LOST the keys and the transmitter to my car somewhere in the service area. Good thing I had a spare key with me. They didn’t find it until we’d been gone a full hour; they sent me home with a brand new key and transmitter, but now I’ll have to go back at some point and have the original key, and my other spare, reprogrammed since I guess they won’t work now that the whole system has been reprogrammed. Sheesh.

Despite being in the Ford dealer’s waiting area all day, I got a surprising amount of work done on The Book. I took the laptop with me, plugged in to their power and did drafts of the instructions for two of the quilts in the book, so it wasn’t a completely wasted day like it could have been. The trip back over there to take care of the key mess will be wasted time, but at least it’s not a “have to do right now” thing…

Backing up a bit: Sunday was the day to head to the Holiday Bazaar in Heidelberg, and shop for foody gifts to mail back to family in the States, but the entire thing was really just a bust. The vinegars and oils that we usually send back won’t be going this year, as the vendor was all out of the good stuff before we got there. I’ve no idea what that means for the family Christmas boxes, and I don’t even really have time to think about it too seriously at the moment. I’m waiting and hoping for inspiration to hit.

Then on Monday I had to be a nice Mommy and take Guitar Girl back to the bazaar, since she worked all weekend and wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. It was a bust the first time around, but maybe I spent more time just perusing the aisles on Monday (since I knew there wasn’t any of the “must buy” stuff there anyway), because I did find a couple of other cool things, including these:

Wonnie slippers

Woohoo! Slippers that you put in the microwave and then put on your feet! Awesome! I used them this evening, and they are perfect. Though I LOVE my quilt studio, it has absolutely no insulation up here and it’s freezing even now (and it’s not even deep into winter here), so my feet are always cold (and don’t get me started on how bad this room up here is when it’s windy outside. brrrr.). The radiators are so weak and wimpy up here that they don’t even deserve the name, so there’s no such thing as climate control here unless you count slippers, socks, sweaters and scarves.

The Wonnie slippers have flax seeds and herbs in them so they smell nice when heated, and are wonderfully soft and soothing. You can’t walk in them, so it’s a sit-and-relax type of thing, but I did figure out how to run the sewing machine at the right speeds for machine quilting with them on. So I now have another climate control option for my feet!

Here’s Shadow’s version of climate control:

Shadow's climate control

He’s always been a chilly little thing, and since there’s not an ounce of fat on him he has no insulation. What he’d really like is my lap 24/7, but failing that, he camps out by this space heater that’s sitting by my computer chair all day long, as long as it’s on. He turns over once in a while, to roast the other side evenly. We’re both a little warmer now, at least!