Thursday, September 24, 2009

Card Parts & Bird Sighting

How many pieces do you see?*

Seems like all I've been doing lately is cutting paper and tieing ribbons. Pictured above are the pieces needed to make 40 card kits for one card design. Granted, the *320 pieces shown above are a bit outside the norm; most of the cards I design usually have four to six pieces each, not the eight pieces needed to create this particular card. All the card stock is cut, the ribbons tied, the kits assembled, and the non-kit supplies (stamps, inks and adhesives) gathered in readiness for tomorrow evening's Stamp Camp. My partner and I will have another session on Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, the cards will be the same for both sessions, so there is no more paper to be cut, thank goodness.

Bird Sighting: I spied an unusual visitor to my Safflower Seed feeder this afternoon. I tried to get a photo from inside the house, but the results were not good (I will blame it on the atmosphere; it's gray and rainy today, but it's really an 'operator problem') which I emailed to Gardening Daughter who tentatively identified the bird as a juvenile or female Lark Bunting,

the state bird of Colorado, and normally a resident of more western and northern states. I know that I have never seen one like it here before today; it must have become blown off course during the recent storms to have arrived in my yard. It spent quite some time stuffing itself with Safflower seeds; I think it must have been ready for something to eat. I was sad to see it leave the yard. Perhaps it will visit again before going on its way.

I would welcome a more positive identification from any bird-watcher readers. Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Update on Sweetie Pie and other Stuff

To those who have inquired, thank you, Sweetie is doing much better. So much so that she is fighting me tooth and claw over every administration of topical and/or oral medication. I will have scars to prove what a dedicated 'mother' I am.

I know she's feeling better since she has been running through the house at full tilt, jumping on the other cats, and batting around everything that she can physically move. (I have a rubber stamp that states "Everything not nailed down is a cat toy." How true!) I am much encouraged by her improvement; she had been quite lethargic.

On other subjects:

Rain -- we're about to mildew, again. My rain gauge shows over 4" since 12:01 am on Wednesday. We needed the moisture, but this liquid sunshine is really putting a crimp in my yardening.

Old Friends -- I had a serendipitous encounter and totally wonderful visit yesterday with Pepper Pepper, a young man (young being relative to my own age) who I first met in 2000 and with whom, over the intervening years, I had spent a goodly amount of time. However, I had lost touch with him and had not seen him at all for almost a year. He is a photographer, poet, and multi-media artist, a very good one, I think, and a world traveler. He has a website showcasing some of his work. If you're interested, you can see it here. I invite you to do so.

Some bittersweet news is that he has purchased a property in Ghivizzano, Tuscany, Italy, and will be moving there at year end. He showed us dozens of photos of the town and surrounding areas, all of which took our breath away. I know there are many beautiful places on earth, but he has selected one that is nearly perfect for the variety of landscapes. And, here I am, with no passport! That situation, of course, can be remedied.

Stamping -- I have over-obligated myself in this area, and it's definitely affecting how much time I spend blogging and reading others' blogs. To wit:

* I am making cards for a stamp club on Saturday of this week.
* On the following Monday, I will be teaching a stamp class for 10 participants.
* My stamping partner and I are hosting a two-session Stamp Camp on Sept. 25 and 26, which calls for a lot of designing, cutting and creating kits, a total of 120.
* She and I will sponsor and donate all materials for an afternoon of stamping for World Card Making Day on October 3, for which I will design 4 cards and prepare materials for 30 of each design. I really don't mind about this one at all, because half of the cards go to the Ronald McDonald House in Little Rock, the other half to Cards for Soldiers.
* As soon as this almost back-to-back flurry of activity is over, we will begin preparations for another Stamp Camp on November 13-14, for which each of us will prepare materials for 480 Christmas cards.

That's about it! Look for me when you see me coming.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bits and Pieces: Cats

I think of my cat Sweetie Pie as still being a kitten, although she is 7 years old, the youngest and smallest of the three cats who own me. Sweetie Pie has been plagued with ear infections since she was about one year old, the cause of which is unknown; she just gets them. The other cats have had no such problems, at least to date, for which I am am truly thankful, as Sweetie Pie's visit to the vet this past Friday cost almost $100.

Usually, a week to ten days of a topical antibiotic squirted into the ear canal clears up the problem. This time, however, since Sweetie had a similar infection just this past March, the vet has prescribed an oral antibiotic in addition to the stuff in the ear.

For those folks who do not have cats, a note: cats DO NOT like to take pills -- or anything else given to them which is not to their liking! Sweetie Pie doesn't much like having a tube stuck down inside sore ears, either, but performing that task is "a walk in the park" compared to trying to give her a pill.

Gardening Daughter, who is also a cat person, said she would show me how to administer the pill, which is a bit smaller than a standard aspirin. Her process is as follows:

1. Place said cat on the floor and kneel over the cat (Note: one might want to say one's prayers while in this position);
2. Gently but firmly clamp said cat between the knees, cat's head facing outward;
3. Pry said cat's mouth open (all the while trying not to get one's hands ripped to shreds by cat's front claws);
4. Insert fingers, and the pill, between said cat's razor sharp teeth, placing pill as far back in the throat as possible;
5. Immediately remove fingers and clamp said cat's jaws shut;
6. Blow on said cat's nose (this part seems to be the key; for some reason it causes the cat to swallow);
7. Release a very upset cat.

O-K! Like eating a piece of cake, right?

Gardening Daughter demonstrated this intricate procedure for me on Friday evening, was cajoled into coming back here on Saturday to do the same, but was unable to be here yesterday evening when it was time for the pill. What to do? What to do? Sometimes I surprise myself with my foolhardy faux-bravery! Last night was one of those occasions.

My knees being in a somewhat less than desirable condition, I am not able to kneel on the floor (not if I wish to rise again without crawling to a heavy chair and pushing myself up with my arms), so I substituted the top of my higher-than-usual bed, where I could stand and just bend over to do the deed.

I placed said cat on the edge of the bed, rear feet hanging over the side, and gently leaned my body down upon hers to (Hah!) immobilize her -- I can think such foolish thoughts, sometimes! I pried open her jaws and threw the pill in, then clamped her jaws and blew on her nose.

There followed the immediate escape of said cat, with said pill lying nearby on the bedspread -- not even the least bit moist! Said cat was now sitting on the pillow on the other side of the bed sending stares at me that would melt the Polar Ice Cap! "Sweet kitty! Good girl! Come to Mama." Hah!!

After a small runaround, and much sweet-talking, said cat is once more under my control (Hah!, again!) This time I wrapped her body in a crocheted afghan in an attempt to entrap her feet. Once again I pried open her mouth and inserted the pill. I didn't get a chance to clamp her jaws shut before the pill, this time bitten in half and rather moist, was deposited on the bed and she was out of the confines of the afghan and gone.

Did I give up? Pat, the foolhardy? No, sirree!!

Ah! Enlightenment! A bit of information given to me by the vet tech who delivered the pills finally worked its way to my conscious mind. She had told me that the pills were "chewable" and I could break them up and put them in Sweetie's wet cat food. My cats don't eat anything but dry food, so that wasn't an option, or it would have been exercised with the first dose.

Chewable? That means they can be dissolved, right? So... I took the remaining portions of the pill, dissolved them in warm water and sucked them up into a small (needle-less) syringe that I had on hand. (No, I do not now have, nor have I ever had a drug problem. I think the syringe was a leftover from administering liquid medication to a long ago deceased dog. Thank goodness, in this case, that I am a pack-rat. It took me a while to find it, but I did find it!)

Said cat was captured, again; again wrapped in the afghan, jaws pried open, syringe inserted into mouth, and --- with one plunge, the now liquefied medication was administered, and swallowed.


Since there are seven more doses of this medicine she has to take, guess what system I'm going to use tonight?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is the 75th anniversary of my birth. I think that sounds better than saying "I'm 75 years old." Most of the time, I don’t feel my age, and my friends and family say that I definitely don’t act my age. I am greatly enjoying my second childhood, and am thankful to the Good Lord for allowing me to live and enjoy more than my alloted fourscore years and ten.

(Edit [since I am more awake]: as was pointed out in the comments by my blogger friend, rhymeswithplague, I should have said threescore years and ten. )

I don't put a lot of emphasis on birthdays, gifts and/or hoop-la after one reaches, say, 10 or 12 years old. I had a birthday party when I was 10 (during which I dropped my cake, upside down, on the floor) and didn't have another party until I was 50. That occasion was just a gathering for family and very close friends, but I did receive a beautiful floral bouquet and a Julio Iglesias record album (I had a crush on Julio at the time.) My children surprised me with a large, formal party when I reached the ripe old age of 65 (a good half of my church congregation attended) but the intervening years have been party-less, thank you very much.

For the past 10 years or so, my children have pestered me about birthday gifts. "What do you want? Would you like an XXX? Blah, blah, blah." One year, I wouldn't allow them gift me with a new lawnmower (too expensive, I said) and so they gave me a plastic pink flamingo, which has been the subject of many jests (to those who may enjoy having them as part of your yard décor, way to go! They are “not my thing.”) That event taught me a lesson. Since then, when asked, I usually mention that I'd like to have a specific thing to eat or drink, or some trinket -- just so it's something I don't have to dust.

However, at my family birthday supper the year I turned 73, I told them that I had decided what I wanted for my 75th birthday, should I live that long, and they could start making plans to make it happen. And, sure 'nough, they did!

Some time within the next few weeks, Good Lord willing, I will be experiencing my first, and probably only, HOT AIR BALLOON ride!

(image, Wikipedia)

The event was originally scheduled for this morning, with lift-off at sunrise, which would have been lovely, as it is officially my birthday. I’ve been up-and-at’em since about 3:15, awakening before the alarm went off. At 4:30, I was dressed, had fixed my second cup of coffee and was just ready to “fix my face” when I got a call telling me that, due to an atmospheric disturbance in the area, this morning's flight has been scrubbed, and will be scheduled at a later date. I’d been checking the local weather radar on my computer every few minutes since I awakened and was anticipating the call, so I was not surprised, and not overly disappointed. Better safe than blown into kingdom come! I have something to look forward to: an extended birthday celebration.

This afternoon, we will have a family gathering to celebrate the day with homemade-from-scratch German’s Sweet Chocolate cake with the traditional gooey, caramelly, coconut frosting. Elder daughter, at whose home this will take place, is an awesome cake maker!

In the meantime, I think I'll go back to bed, or at least take off my shoes and lean back in the recliner. At my now "advanced" age, I need all the beauty sleep I can get. Then, when it's daylight, and if the atmospheric disturbance doesn't cause it to rain here, I'll do some more yardening.

It's Labor Day weekend; y'all be careful out there!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Bird in the Hand is Worth... many in the bush?

(click on photo to enlarge)

My apologies to my neighbor, who may have thought I was trying to be a Peeping Thomasina, but this was the only angle from which I could capture these birds. I had to stand inside my den and peer through a (really needs to be cleaned) glass door to take this photo. Underneath the scraggly vine is a small 'trash tree' that needs to come down. While it's ugly, the small birds found it the perfect perching place. At one time, I counted 22 birds on the vines.

I believe these to be sparrows of some sort, but they haven't been around all summer, having just arrived in my yard since it has turned cooler. They have a sweet, brief chirruping song, and they talk to each other a lot.

It's a real pleasure to have them here, for however long they may stay.