Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Now We Wait

Max: Waiting on the ball. See, I am good at it!
(Click Max for larger view)
Posted by Picasa
"I think animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers." ~ Unknown
I went to the vet yesterday. Mom made me go potty before I went and I got to sit in the front seat of the van. I ran to the scale and sat down on it. I like to be helpful. Then I saw the doctor. He was nice, I guess. They took me to the back so they could look me over. I have a lot of little skin nodules. Mom is worried. They keep popping up, more and more. She found some more on my neck today. The vet put a very tiny needle in one of them and sucked some cells out. He made a slide and looked at it; then told Mom that he would send it to a veterinary pathologist. My mom could look at it too but she didn't want to. I think she is afraid to look because she would then know what it was. I heard her say she was worried about "mast cell tumors" and "cutaneous lymphoma". I don't know what those big words mean but she does and it makes her sad. If it is the lymphoma, there is chemotherapy like humans get but it is expensive and she knows it would hurt me and my heart is already damaged from the heartworms I had a long time before I found her. She is trying to hope for the best; that it is an allergic reaction or some other benign thing.

So, now we wait for the testing results. I got a shot of Benedryl in case it is the mast cell thing. It releases histamine that makes me itch. She is giving me the pills too. I like that because I get extra food. I also get to sleep in my big carrier with the kitties and I love to talk to them at night. That Clover is a real clown sometimes, sitting on top of the hot tub and singing. I hope things turn out OK so that Nyssa and my mom won't cry any more. But if it is bad, I know they will take care of me and love me and spoil me and when it is time they will let me go. I will make sure they know that I have had more love, joy, fun and adventure in the three years I have lived with them than in my entire life before we met.

Thanks for all the thoughts and kind words to my Nyssa and my mom and for me. They love me, and I love them.


PS: I always like to leave the vet a present in the hall. So I "pooed" three piles. I think I shocked my mom, since I also went before we left home. I love to embarrass her that way!
(end of post)

Stop! Thief!

Spread eagle squirrel on my window screen. (Click pictures for larger view.) Posted by Picasa
"A squirrel leaping from bough to bough, and making the wood but one wide tree for his pleasure, fills the eye not less than a lion, - is beautiful, self-sufficing, and stands then and there for nature. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
It's been warm here and I've left my window open a few nights for fresh air. I woke to a "scratching" sound and saw this squirrel plastered to my window screen. He was trying to walk down from the roof and get to the hanging bag of sunflower seeds in the bush. Vicki gifted me with this "bird" feeder and I've placed it inside the bush so the smaller birds could find it. A few have stopped by to snack, but now Mr. Squirrel has also found it. They are persistent. (Continued)

He grasps the limb with his back feet and the bag with his front and works the shelled seeds through the bag. This little thief is brazen. I was standing less than two feet away from him, even though I was looking through the glass and screen.

As I tapped on the window he stopped and looked right into my camera lens. Surely he will run away now! No. He simply twisted round on his branch and stared directly into my room. I thought he was going to try to come right on in!

When I tapped the window again, he scampered down the trunk of the bush and across the back yard. Max was oblivious to the whole thing. And where are those good for nothing cats when you need them? They could have at least jumped to the windowsill and 'clicked' at him; but they were no where to be found. He has been back; the seeds are slowly disappearing. Fat little thief!
(end of post)

Monday, January 30, 2006

In Remembrance

Graveyard headstone at Brutons Parish Church, Williamsburg, Virginia.
(Click picture for larger view.)
Posted by Picasa
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.
Love leaves a memory no one can steal."
~ Irish headstone
An old worn headstone in the Brutons Parish Church graveyard; its carved rose showing wear from the long years of wind, rain, snow and heat. A grave from the early 1700's, old by our standards but young compared to those in Europe. Someone's parent, child or spouse lies at rest beneath the carved stone rose, forever loved.

Submission for Moody Monday topic "black and white". (end of post)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Still Life

Nyssa, October 2003. Visit to Sewanee. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own. ~ John Berger
A warm autumn afternoon with a gentle breeze; the college campus appears deserted save for the bicycle parked, leaning silently against the stone wall. The lone figure a girl, resting under the massive archway, is totally engrossed in her book, oblivious to the beauty of the gothic buildings and the surrounding woods. She is lost in the book, in the story of lands and people far away. This is peace.

Submission to PXITE for "Open Challenge". (end of post)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sport: Basketball

Basketball (Macro shot) (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Cinderella goes to the ball, and takes it to the net! Girls rule the court!" ~ Basketball T-shirt
Basketball was Nyssa's sport in high school. She started playing in junior high but didn't get much court time. It took almost the whole season before she attempted and made a basket. But she loved the game. Then in ninth grade there were not enough players on the varsity team so the junior varsity girls played their game and then had to play the varsity game as well.

The girls always seemed to love the game more than the boys; they always played with passion. This could make for comic plays. One of the team members, (Leah) let a girl get past her with the ball. She ran down the court as fast as she could and just before the opponent made her shot, Leah literally launched herself in the air and tackled the girl; both of them falling to the floor. Of course she was charged with a foul but the girl didn't score and then missed the free throw. Sometimes it felt like the girls spent more time on the floor diving for the loose ball than they did dribbling and shooting. The guys? Oh, they were in to dunking and slashing and shooting 3-pointers, but let a ball roll across the floor and they stood there like statues watching it roll out of bounds. The boys played to impress each other; the girls played with heart to win as a team.

Submission for MacroDay topic "sport". (end of post)

Maxwell Collects

Max: Collector of toys (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"The fidelity of a dog is a precious gift demanding no less binding moral responsibilities than the friendship of a human being. The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be." ~ Konrad Lorenz
If Max could write, I think he could write a "true" story of his life that would chill us to our bones. His life on the street is long gone and now he enjoys the same comforts of dogs who have always been well cared for. I think he appreciates these comforts more than dogs who have always had them. Take his toys. He loves toys, especially the latex squeaky ones; especially balls. His football was "loved" so much that it had to be tossed out. This is his current collection with the favorite being his basketball. Since basketball is Nyssa's favorite sport, this pleases her.

Max has not re-developed any ascites since fig season is over. We have also banned his rawhide chew bones for this reason. He had a recurrence of his inner ear problem a couple of weeks ago that left him looking quite drunk but a couple of days of quiet rest and reduced activity seems to have been all he needed. Since Max is a rescue dog we don't know how old he is. By the vets calculations he is at least seven, maybe eight. In the last two weeks I've started feeling several small nodules in his skin; on his sides, his belly and one on his back. Max will be going to the vet on Monday so we can check these out. The rapidity with which they came up is frightening. Of course since pathology is my business, I tend to think of all the bad things it could be. They are too hard for fatty tumors and my main concern is the mast cell tumor. He has too many to ensure adequate resection and chemotherapy doesn't usually work. I hope it is something else. So while he doesn't like to ride in the car and he doesn't like to go to the vet he does like to sleep in his big carrier in the sunroom with his toys and the company of the kitties. He will have this pleasure tomorrow night. Keep your fingers crossed.

Sending to Carnival of the Dogs hosted by Mickey's Musings. Max loves to play with the other dogs there. (end of post)

Friday, January 27, 2006

"Vanity, Thy Name Is Cat!"

Oh, "Vanity" thy name is CAT! (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Cats are the ultimate narcissists. You can tell this by all the time they spend on personal grooming. Dogs aren't like this. A dog's idea of personal grooming is to roll in a dead fish." ~ James Gorman
A cat is the definition of the word "vain". He sits for hours washing his face, paws, behind the ears, between the toes, the back, the belly and the behind. Here Mr. Rhett uses the mirror over the bathroom sink to check out his fur in those "hard to reach" places. He primps longer and more often than most teenage girls before a date. Does he have a secret date and I don't? He's probably wanting to take Sophie to the Carnival of the Cats at (UPDATE) TBIFOC this Sunday, or perhaps there is an animal dance at Friday's Ark. We'll have to check that out and see.

Submission to PhotoFriday topic "vanity". (end of post)

Hide and Go Seek?

Scarlett: "There is that Willow. She bugs me! I'll hide here. Maybe I should jump her. No, she weighs a gazillion pounds and would crush my little pear body flat. I'll keep quiet. What was that flash? Oh, no! She's taking pictures again! Willow will find me! Stop it!"
(Click pictures for larger view)
Posted by Picasa
"Friendship between cats can exist, but more or less in the same way that it can exist for a not very sociable man who spends his time in provoking others, and who, when asked why he does not have any friends, replies: "I would like to have them - but they are so ignoble!" ~ Paul Leyhausen
So it goes between Miss Scarlett and Willow. Scarlett really dislikes Willow, avoids her if at all possible. Willow, on the other hand, annoys Scarlett; perhaps it is on purpose, perhaps not. She might just want to be friends, but I doubt it. Of course Scarlett is at least partially to blame; she has been so "Don't touch me" and "Don't even look at me" with Willow it has now become a game. How far can Willow push Scarlet, disturb her, get in her space before it happens; before the nuclear meltdown and the screeching, hissing, growling fit commences? Willow doesn't really know, but when it happens its truly entertaining and Scarlett usually has two or three cats watching her one kitty show. At least in this instance, Scarlett kept her cool and just hid in the cat tree. Willow became bored with the whole thing and left. Now Scarlett just looks annoyed with me pointing the camera at her. I think I'll go now, that look is a bit threatening.

Scarlett: "And just what are you looking at now?"

Ok, I'll go over to see the other animals at Friday's Ark and then Sunday I'll visit the Carnival of the Cats hosted this week by (UPDATE) TBIFOC. You can come too if you'd like, Scarlett.

(end of post)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Crazy Cat Nut

This would be me. (Click all pictures for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Cat people are different to the extent that they generally are not conformists. How could they be with a cat running their lives?" - Louis J. Camuti, D.V.M.
I usually only blog about one or two cats at a time, but in reality we have six; seven if you count Maggie, but she belongs to my parents. There are a few bloggers out there who reside with even more than we do. Today I decided to do a review of our cats with links to some of their individual stories. So enjoy.

Mr. Rhett
Mr. Rhett is Mr. Personality, a real "Babe Magnet" , his story is here and his terrible encounter with the Old Navy attack bag is here. His current lady love (long distance) is Sophie, a lovely dark gray beauty.

Sir Nicholas Alexander (Nicky)
Nicky's story is here. He props and sleeps on his back and keeps Mom's feet warm. He is so shy. Of all our cats he is the most handsome. He and sister Willow are ragdolls.

Miss Clover
Big marble blue eyes, Clover also has a computer mind. Hard to believe but true. She is my opera star, singing loud and long in the bathroom. She loves to hide in boxes and under the covers. I wonder if she knows how different her eyes are?

Lady Wilhelmina Abigail (Willow)
Willow is the Queen of the clan. Nothing bothers her, she comes and goes as she wishes. She sleeps where she wants, eats when she wants and plays tricks on the others. She is a big fluffy mass of cat, completely laid back; plods along, never runs.

Miss Chloe
My proper Siamese with crossed eyes, all hairs in place and refined at all times. Right, in your dreams. She can go nuts and run amuck along with the best of them. She looks like an airhead but you won't hear any wind blowing through these ears.

Miss Scarlett
The one cat fight show, Scarlett is a snarly as her namesake yet easily intimidated. It is how she reacts to being teased that is so unique to her. Sometimes she personifies her famous namesake, just as Rhett does his.

This review will be heading to Friday's Ark but if they only take animals "two by two" someone's going to have to learn how to swim. There are always a lot of gorgeous cats at the Carnival of the Cats hosted this week by (UPDATE) TBIFOC.

(end of post)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Front Door

The Front Door (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Sometimes in life, you find a special friend. Someone who changes your life just by being a part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can't stop. Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it. This is forever friendship. When you're down and the world seems dark and empty, your forever friend lifts you up in spirit and makes that dark and empty world suddenly seem bright and full. Your forever friend gets you through the hard times, the sad times and the confused times. If you turn and walk away, your forever friend follows. If you lose your way, your forever friend guides you and cheers you on. Your forever friend holds your hand and tells you that everything is going to be okay. And if you find such a friend, you feel happy and complete because you need not worry. You have a forever friend, and forever has no end." ~ Unknown
This was my favorite shop in Columbus. Nyssa and I had many Saturday outings here for lunch. We saw the gift shop grow and expand and the addition of additional eating space at the back of the building, naturally named "The Back Door". This was Nyssa's first work experience, waitressing on Saturdays and in the summer. (continued)

The food was fabulous, simple but good; the specialty was homemade chicken salad sandwiches on Minnonite made buns and served with a baked potatoe salad like no other. The soups were wonderful, creamy, a special one each day; asparagus, cauliflower& cheese, potatoe, mushroom, broccoli & cheese, and tortilla. Of course there were salads, my personal favorite was the Chef Salad with grilled chicken strips and Cheesy Parmesean dressing. Then the desserts, all homemade with names like Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, the basic chocolate pie with a hot peanut butter sauce drizzled over the top; and my favorite, Caramel Almond Delight, a light almond flavored mousse pie dripped in caramel and topped off with sliced almonds and coconut.

The heart of The Front Door was the owner, Donna S. This was not just her livelyhood, it was her calling. She stocked her gift shop with interesting and inspirational items and loved to showcase Mississippi artisans. She greated everyone with a smile, a kind word and a hug. She loved to host the Red Hat ladies monthly and catered parties all year round. Donna loved people. Donna loved God. The combination was amazing, she touched peoples lives each day; she lived her faith. Perhaps this is why we became good friends. We laughed together, cried together and I always knew that when things got really, really bad I could pop in and get a hug. This wasn't always an easy business, she struggled financially at times but always had a smile and kind word for her friends and customers.

I left Columbus in June of 2004 and when my house finally sold in November, I made my last trip back to move the rest of the furniture and sign the closing papers. In the five days there I saw her several times. We ate one last meal together, chatted about Nyssa, she shared her dreams of selling the restaurant and moving to South Carolina with her daughter and son. But she wanted the next owner to have the same vision of service; they would have to see its purpose as she did. We hugged and cried a little and I left.

It was the 8th of May, 2005. The call came from my former lab, cryptic message from Fred "Dr. P call me as soon as possible, it's important." What could it be, papers for a lawsuit served, the lab closed, the building burned down? I hate those kind of messages. Reluctantly, I returned her call and it was none of the above, but was the worse possible news. Donna, my friend, was dead, a sudden heart attack. Her neighbor heard a noise and checked on her and she was gone. Nyssa had seen her in March on her spring break, but all I had was November. I couldn't believe it, it still doesn't seem real that her bright smile and sparkling eyes are gone.

I haven't been back to Mississippi. I don't know who owns or runs the restaurant now. I hope it is still open. I hope the owner "feels" the place like she did. I hope they have her vision and her ability to touch those who visit there, Columbus needs a place like that. Life there will not be the same without her. My life is better, forever changed by knowing her. Goodbye for now, my friend. I will see you again someday and we'll share a sweet tea and maybe you'll give me that recipe for Caramel Almond Delight.
"The front door of a friends house is always open." ~ Unknown
Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "door". (end of post)

Grandmother's Clock

My grandmother's clock. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"The hours of folly are measured by the clock, but of wisdom no clock can measure." ~ William Blake (1757-1827)
My grandmother's old clock stands in the front foyer marking time, chiming on the quarter hour its usual melody. As it winds down the chimes sound more and more slowly until it stops. I always here the chime in the night and count. How wonderful to count three and know there are several hours still to rest. But at times when the clock has almost run completely down it will start its chime; gong..gong ..gong....gong ..gong and slowly keep going; ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen. Then I am awake. In its demise the clock gongs as long as possible, then a final deep reverberating gong fades slowly into the night.

Submission for LensDay topic "clock". (end of post)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Caterpillar Questions

Caterpillar on a journey. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"When I was a girl I would look out my bedroom window at the caterpillars; I envied them so much. No matter what they were before, no matter what happened to them, they could just hide away and turn into these beautiful creatures that could fly away completely untouched." ~ Carin Fisher, from "Patch Adams"
Fuzzy caterpillar
Going somewhere slowly,
Coming from some place else.
Stops to nibble on a leaf
Then inches off along the edge of the driveway.
Where will you spin your chrysalis?
Where will you sleep safely 'til time to wake?
What colorful butterfly will you become?
Would I know you should I see you again?

Submission for Photo Tuesday topic "insect". (end of post)

Happy Birthday, Baby Brother!!!

Stephen: First week home from hospital, screaming.(1962) Posted by Picasa
"Little Johnny's new baby brother was crying and screaming up a storm. He asked his mom, "Where'd baby brother come from?" His mother replied, "Heaven, Johnny. He came from heaven." After listening to his baby brother's wailing for another few seconds Johnny shot back, "WOW! I can see why they threw him out". ~ Unknown
Nine years and nine days after I was born, my baby brother arrived. There was no way to know ahead of time if it was a boy or a girl. I saved all my allowance and bought my sibling-to-be one of those stretchy one piece sleepers. It was a red and white stripe in the newborn size. That way a boy or a girl could wear it. Mom was so big, Grandmother was sure she was having twins. She crocheted two of everything; blankets, booties, hats. Mom had a C-section, two weeks early because she was so very uncomfortable with all the kicking and she really, really was huge! I got to stay off of school and spend the morning playing checkers with my Great Uncle and Aunt. Dad called and said it was a boy, Stephen. My baby brother was here. Notice, I didn't say "little" brother; because he was never little. He arrived at 10lb 8oz, two weeks early. He was so long his feet squished up flat against the bassinet so his head could fit in. The red and white sleeper? Forget it! He was born between a 3mth and 6mth size. It wouldn't fit around him, wouldn't snap and was too short.
(The Story Continues)

Above he is three months old and his mouth is still open. He didn't eat formula very long. He had to have his baby cereal, two cups every morning as soon as he woke up. As soon as he could pull up, he would rattle and shake the crib and yell. Stop a while and listen and then start again. I had used the crib for two years and it was in great condition. After his tenure, the thing had to be dumped. Each morning Mom would find him sitting on top of the wadded up crib sheet (the form fitted sheet he removed from the mattress), with his sleeper and diaper removed. Just sitting there naked in the pile. Mom says that was always just lovely!

I must save a few sibling stories for later. We had eight years before I went to college to compile a whole book of them. And now we are all grown up, well at least most of the time. I wanted to put one of his new photos taken in Munich with his Wagner puppet doll but I'm not sure if that is allowed so this very cute shot of Nyssa and her favorite uncle will have to do. ("Wagner puppet doll" looks very strange in print, hmm!)

Anyway, today is his birthday! He is 44 years old or as I like to say, "He's celebrating the 14th anniversary of his 30th birthday. Speaking of 30th birthdays reminds me of his when I ..... Well, you'll just have to come back to check that out and if I don't post it soon enough to suit you, remind me in a note. And Stephen, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! and IT WOULDN'T HURT YOU TO LEAVE A PITHY COMMENT ONCE AND A WHILE!!!

If you would like to see where he is going to be performing, when and which opera you can visit his website here. He has pictures and excerpts of his operas and you can read it in English or in German. He will be performing in The Flying Dutchman at "The Met", but not until 2010.

(end of post)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Dying Boxwood

Dying boxwood, weakened by disease. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"The greatest weakness of all is the great fear of appearing weak." ~ Bossuet
This group of boxwoods are on a side of the house not visible to the street. Last summer they were all green and healthy looking, home to beneficial spiders and lizards. I don't know when the changes took hold, but now this one is almost dead, its branches weak and splitting and the leaves a yellow-brown color. This boxwood is now so weakened that it would be easy to pull its roots from the ground. Whatever has destroyed this bush is now moving on to another down the line.

Submission for Moody Monday topic "weak". (end of post)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

This Line is Busy!

The Birds (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
Birds on a powerline,
Black specks against a gray sky
Hundreds gathered here.

Birds on a powerline,
All facing one direction
Together braced against the wind.

Birds on a powerline
Remind me of the Hitchcock movie;
Strange ending, unnerving.

Birds on a powerline,
Some arrive, others depart
Squawking "This line is busy."

~ srp
These powerlines run about four miles from the beach. Around here the birds have favorite corners and buildings to perch on. The Lowes home store is a favorite as is Pizza Hut after 11 AM. On this day birds perched on this power line for several blocks. I couldn't get them all in the picture. If these lines had been closer to the ground I would have been walking very quietly and quickly away. Did these birds watch Hitchcock's The Birds?

(end of post)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Rubber Ducky

Rubber Ducky (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
Rubber Ducky
Rubber Ducky, you're the one,
You make bathtime lots of fun,
Rubber Ducky, I'm awfully fond of you;

Rubber Ducky, joy of joys,
When I squeeze you, you make noise!
Rubber Ducky, you're my very best friend, it's true!

Every day when I
Make my way to the tubby
I find a little fella who's
Cute and yellow and chubby

Rubber Ducky, you're so fine
And I'm lucky that you're mine
Rubber ducky, I'm awfully fond of you.

(from Sesame Street)
This tiny two inch rubber ducky sits out on the sink in the bathroom. I have no idea where it came from or who it actually belongs to. Nyssa, perhaps or something Mom put there for Nyssa but then forgot she did it. He is too small to take in the bath so he sits day after day a little reminder of childhood.

Submitted to Macroday for topic "bathroom". (end of post)


A single rose (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"A single rose can be my garden...a single friend, my world." ~ Leo F. Buscaglia (1924-1998)
A single perfect rose. What joy to have a garden filled with perfect roses and yet a single rose given in love by a husband to a wife, or a child to a mother means more to that wife or that mother than all the perfect roses in the world. Such power in a single object? No, the power is in the love behind it.

Submission for PXITE topic "single". (end of post)

The Sloth

Clover: "Why are you bothering me now? Ah yes, more little cameras. Go away!"
(Click pictures for larger view)
Posted by Picasa
"Ask for no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away." ~ Ray Bradbury
Clover can sleep anywhere. Sometimes she likes this cube bed, although Scarlett keeps it for herself at night. I don't know how it got on the floor of the sunroom, perhaps an altercation on top of the hot tub knocked it off. But here it is upside down with a cat in there, and not a very happy one I might add. Nyssa would just say she is being her totally snarly self, mad at the whole world.

But let me let Clover tell you in her own words.......

Clover: "...mumble, mumble....snarl....mumble....snarl. I am just trying to get a little nap here! If I sleep on the bed I have to share the space with Chloe, same thing with the bean bag up there. This thing was on the floor, no one was in it and it is too small to share so I thought just maybe everyone will leave me alone. No such luck! If it isn't that fuzzy thing Willow or nosy Rhett it's you! I am going to ignore you. You are not here. You will go away. You are getting sleepy, s-l-e-e-p-y. Your eyelids are h-e-a-v-y. No, I guess those are mine. Ignore her, yes, there's the ticket. Zzzzzzzzzz."

Well, there you have it. She's out again. I was just trying to see if she would feel better in the cube right side up, but perhaps it would just be better to let the sloth sleep.

Rhett over at No Deep Thoughts was trying to figure out how Clover did it, so this is for him. I'd better let her picture go to the Carnival of the Cats hosted by Meryl Yourish this week, or Clover will be nipping at my toes again.

(end of post)