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Rocky Road

>> Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just a quick update on our newfound friend...

As you can see, Rocky came home yesterday and has settled into his new comfier life.  He's currently hanging out by himself in our finished attic, and thinks the futon is pretty darn comfy.

The results of the vet's investigations are that Rocky had a severe abscess in one front leg, his other front paw had been bitten clean through, and he had a nasty gash on his ear, along with other cuts and abrasions.  He was a mighty sick kid from the infection.  After a bunch of work, he's now had a drain put into the abscess (ew!), a big dose of antibiotics, all the wounds have been cleaned.  He's bleeding and oozing all over the attic.  I think that futon cover will never be the same again.

Oh well.

Oh, and he got neutered.  Papa is no longer a rolling stone!

I have never encountered a cat who endured all the discomfort and pain with such grace.  He lets us do whatever is needed to keep his wounds clean, and purrs the entire time anyone is even near him.  In fact, I don't think I've spent more than a minute with him when he wasn't purring.  I'm a little afraid he'll vibrate himself to pieces.

The happy boy:

He's also going to eat us out of house and home.  He eats with such frantic enthusiasm that he flings food everywhere.  The cone of shame is certainly not helping with that.

I am betting that once he starts feeling better, he may start resenting this whole captivity thing.  Maybe not.  Only time will tell.  For now, though, he's clearly thinking he might be able to get used to this new life of his.


The Rock Monster, or We are Such Suckers

>> Thursday, February 24, 2011

I was running late for work this morning.

As I shot out the front door and started down the path to the car, I heard an inquisitive and anxious little "meow?" from behind me.  Since all the felines I refer to as "mine" were inside, I was curious who would be talking to me.  It was our old friend Rocky.  Rocky is monstrously huge stray cat, who's shy, but who once upon a time must have had a home, and who stops by our house to say hello on occasion.  Because of our cat Tucker's affection for Rocky, we've sort of kept an eye on him for a long time, but he's been so skittish, and visited so seldom that we've never even been able to capture him to get him a check up or neutered.

This morning he was standing at the corner of the house with a worried expression on his face, holding up one front paw, slowly dripping blood on the snow.

Oh, jeez.  Guess I'd better send my assistant a message that I'll be late for work.

Poor Rocky.  He's usually afraid of doors and won't come near them, but injured animals tend to know when they need help, and this fellow was no exception.  He let us scoop him up and corral him in the downstairs bathroom while we assessed the extent of the damage and cleaned out the paw.

Aside from his injuries, he was looking a little rough around the edges.  He's thinner than usual, had a bunch of oldish scabs from injuries that are healing, plenty of fleas, and a lot of bites and scratches.  This is what happens when stray, unneutered tom cats make their rough way in the world, especially in this neighborhood, which is ridiculously overrun by both abandoned pets and feral cats.

That paw was looking too rough to let him back out, even though we'd staunched the flow of blood and cleaned it with antiseptic.  As I sat and looked around my bathroom, now liberally coated in bloody paw prints, my husband called our vet and made an appointment for the afternoon.  We fed Rocky, and shut him up in one of our big old dog crates with a towel, water, and a litter box, and left him to stew about his captivity.

A few hours later, I got the poor booger to the vet without incident and with remarkably little resistance. And then there was that moment.  I've had that moment so many times before.  The vet looked me in the eye, and asked point blank whether we were treating him as a stray, cleaning him up and giving him an antibiotic injection and turning him loose... or were we giving him our usual new pet treatment, complete with vaccines, thorough testing, and neutering.  I sighed.  She smirked a little as she stood there and looked at me.  As if I needed prompting, she slowly said, "Weeeell, he IS a handsome boy... "

"Oh good grief," I said.  "Might as well give him the works.  Because we need five cats."

The vet nodded in a dignified manner, but I saw her grin as she turned around.  She knows us only too well by now.  She knew darn well what my answer would be.

So, the Rock Monster is hangin' tough at the vet's as I type this.  He's got a bunch of undignified shaved spots, has had a few shots, and is, whether he knows it or not, awaiting tomorrow morning's neutering. He is also probably thoroughly regretting choosing our doorstep this morning.

I need to start selling more artwork just to cover the vet bills that result from my ridiculously soft heart.


Top 10 Reasons Holly is Glad it's Winter

>> Wednesday, February 23, 2011

1.  Winter misery makes me appreciate Upstate New York summers so very, very much.  Ah, the warmth, the sunshine, the growing things.  How delicious it all was all those months ago!

2.  Fires in our nicely remodeled fireplace/wood stove are so lovely.

Here's Pippin, sound asleep, worshipping the fire:

Here's where it starts to get tricky... I think those ARE the only two things I like about winter right now.  Hm.  Time to think creatively.

3.  The male cats, who like to spend their time frolicking in the great outdoors, are feeling fractious from being cooped up all the time.  The result is a fascinating animal behavior experiment, and since it's cold and miserable out, I have plenty of time in the evening to sit and watch it.  It turns out, to my shock and consternation, our docile and dumb girl kitty Sneakers is the anchoring personality in the household.  She spends her time monitoring everyone's behavior, breaking up fights, and defending any cat who's getting picked on.  Who knew?  Perhaps I shall have to ratchet up my estimation of her intelligence.  She may be daft enough to light her own tail on fire on the wood stove doors, but she's apparently got some spark up there.

4. Fuzzy Muppet socks.  They make my feet happy.  If you don't know what I mean by "Muppet socks", take a look at the ones I have on right now:

What else can you call those other than Muppet socks?  Honestly, they look like they're made out of the hides of retired Muppets.  I have dozens of pairs of Muppet socks.

5.  I am developing an even greater appreciation of the stubbornness of mold.  Since we largely heat with wood and have been too lazy to buy a humidifier, it's so dry in our house that I can't wear my contacts for more than 10 minutes before they start to irritate me.  My nose is dry, my skin soaks up gallons of lotion daily.  And yet, despite the lack of airborne moisture, my favorite wooden chess set, which to my knowledge has never gotten wet or even damp, randomly started sprouting a fine fuzz of mold.  ??????  Dang, that mold stuff is impressive.  My house is now both an animal behavior experiment and a fungus experiment.  Yay for science!

6.  More animal behavior fun:  When you leave Simon the Basset hound indoors for too long and don't give him enough exercise, every once in a while he just snaps.  I call it Frapping ("FRAP" = Frantic Random Acts of Play).  It could also be referred to as going bonkers.  He will spontaneously jump up from in front of the fire, and rip around the house full speed, catapulting off the furniture, sliding across the wood floors.  He does it all with this maniacally joyful expression on his face, with his tongue flapping out the side of his mouth, and his long ears flying wildly behind him. 

Frapping is hard to photograph, but here are two random shots of him spazzing in our upstairs hallway. They give you some idea of the ridiculousness of it.

Sometimes he inspires Pippin the cat to join him and it becomes a great barky game of tag.  His glee is contagious.  And people wonder why I don't have a television! 

7.  Because if I'm going to get all this snow anyway, I may as well gloat over the citizens of my neighboring upstate cities.  "Oh yeah?  Your winter has been miserable this year?  Well ours has been worse!  We've had even more snow than you have!  And therefore Syracusans are even tougher than [insert citizens of neighboring city here]!"  Oh, we Upstate New Yorkers are a weeeeird breed.

I swear this has been the view out my bathroom window for most of this winter:

8.  Speaking of bathrooms, winter makes me exceedingly appreciative of indoor plumbing.  Every single time I send my poor dog outside to do his business in Arctic temperatures and gale-force winds, I am grateful that I don't have to do the same.

9.  I am, honest to goodness, one of those weird people who actually likes driving in the snow.  No, really, I do.  I drive an awesome all-wheel-drive car with Nokian Hakkapelitta snow tires.  I would argue strenuously that they are the best damn snow tires EVER.  And driving in snow and ice is more interesting than driving on dry pavement - it keeps my commute from getting boring.  Now if only everyone else on the road drove sanely in the snow, I'd like winter driving a whole lot more than I already do.

Random history lesson of the day:  Per Wikipedia, "Hakkapelitta" is a Finnish word, that was used to refer to light cavalrymen in the service of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).  Who knew?

10.  I don't have to feel quite as guilty when I spend a weekend sitting inside doing artwork.  Because, after all, no matter how "nice" it is outside, it's only comparatively nice.  It's nicer, than, say, the prior weekend when it was -17 with the wind chill and snowing like the Dickens.  But 25 degrees outside can only ever be comparatively nice.  It can't be that gloriously intoxicating way-too-nice-to-go-inside-other-than-to-use-the-bathroom kind of nice that we get during some Syracuse summer days.

Which leads me back to #1 on my list.  Oh, how I appreciate Syracuse summers right now!!!


New web site

>> Sunday, February 13, 2011

My weekend project?  Create myself an art web site.  Nothing fancy, very basic flash site, but at least I can direct people to it when they inquire about my art.

Check it out, if you feel so inclined:


Planning a High Peaks Vacation

>> Thursday, February 3, 2011

The last two summers, my husband and I spent a week in the north-easternmost part of Maine.  We love it there, up near Cobscook Bay.  But we also felt like it might be time to change things around a bit this year, and do a little less driving for our vacation, too.  We are allegedly on a quest to become Adirondack 46ers, but are a miiiiighty long way from accomplishing that task (like, 43 peaks away from it).  So what better than a high peaks vacation for 2011?

Our friend D is a 46er, and will undoubtedly be assisting us in our planning.  But I'd love to gather advice from other folks who've done some of the high peaks as well.  We are thinking of camping for a week at the Adirondack Loj Wilderness Campground, which would be a nice central spot with access to lots of high peaks hikes.  Plus, it has showers, and a week of climbing high peaks in August sounds somehow more appealing with a few showers thrown in.  That, and having a central base means we don't have to hike a week's worth of food and gear with us at all times.

Any of my readers have any favorite high peaks hikes that start from somewhere near Adirondack Loj?  Tips for stringing a few mountains together into a day hike?


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