altivo: (rocking horse)
Starting the vacation countdown of using a vacation day every Monday for the rest of the year:

Saturday we prepared to receive a visit from Bearded Collie Rescue with Max, whom we proposed to adopt if he got along with our big retriever Red. Sunday afternoon, in the middle of a thunderstorm advisory, Mary arrived with Max and one of her own beardies, Sally. We had a nice visit, decided that Max and Red would get along fine, and signed the adoption agreement. Max stayed with us, and here he is exhausted and asleep on the kitchen floor.

Exhausted Max


Our new little boy (he is small for a beardie at just 56 pounds) will be eleven years old next month. He went through rescue and adoption once before, nearly ten years ago, and the same foster mom took care of him that time. Apparently his master has had to go into assisted living and couldn't keep him, and the woman (sister? wife? don't really know) who inherited responsibility for him really didn't want him. He is timid and afraid of noises and sudden moves, afraid to go outdoors by himself, and fearful about eating. We think he was sometimes locked out of the house in a yard, and that other dogs have bullied him and tried to steal his food. This is going to take some work, but he's worth it and deserves attention. A very sweet, gentle dog, but when he gets excited he "lights up" and bounces so we can see what he really should be like.

He's sleeping on the sofa next to me as I write this. He and Red are going to be competing for that spot, I can tell already.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
The high temperature barely brushed 80°F. No rain though, and we desperately need it.

Screech owls appear to have found another playground, but we have plenty of dancing fireflies tonight.

Indian food for dinner was good. We haven't been happy with the quality of commercial mango chutneys, so I improvised one from a fresh mango, a lime, a serrano pepper, some raisins, brown sugar, salt and mustard seed. It was pretty good. Next time, more lime, some sweet onion, and a bit of fresh ginger root should make it almost perfect. Tamarind would help but haven't found a source for it. Commercial versions of "Major Grey's" that we can get are both too sweet and too mushy.

Unfamiliar black cat chasing fireflies by the barn tonight so Gary went to investigate. Kitty kept a safe distance but didn't run away, followed him into the barn out of curiosity. This one will bear some watching. Not that we really need another housecat. It's been kind of nice not dealing with kitty litter and stuff the last few weeks...
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
You know that thing I mentioned a couple of days ago? About how my car sound system won't play MP3 CD-Rs written by either of Gary's Windows computers? It is now confirmed to exist. Hell if I can explain it, but sure enough, load the unreadable CD into either of my Linux machines and it seems readable. So I copy the files off, put in a new blank CD-R, and write them back. The new CD created by Linux is perfectly readable in the car. The former one written by Windows is still not readable.

First week of Summer Reading Club ends in a noisy flurry as 50 or so kids descend on the library for a "craft" session. I was definitely glad to get out of there and take Gary to dinner for his birthday tomorrow.

Dog has a vet appointment at 8:30 am tomorrow, so I'm about to try to get some actual sleep. Lightning bugs are flickering occasionally outside the window.
altivo: Blinking Altivo (altivo blink)
So after a discussion (with a friend who is still a friend) on Twitter about Christians who insist that they aren't bigots like those two outrageous ministers in North Carolina (or Fred Phelps for that matter,) and why I think they are hypocrites for not speaking up more loudly to condemn said bigots...

I was "followed" by several Twitter accounts that are obviously using spambots to pick up anyone who uses the word "Christian." These were "Christian singer-songwriter," "Christian father and writer," "Christian minister," etc. Each of them was following more than ten thousand people, which is pure bunk. No one can possibly keep up with that many tweets, and I'm sure they aren't reading any, other than to have a bot skim them for key phrases to which they may choose to respond with some kind of promotional junk or other.

This sort of blatantly commercial behavior from people who don't know me at all is truly obnoxious. I can see why some people lock their accounts and don't allow their tweets to be read except by confirmed friends. However, that approach is also counterproductive. I'm happy to consider new friends and acquaintances if they are sincere, but I'm really angered by politicians, preachers, merchants, and just plain trolls who follow unknowns aggressively, hoping they will automatically be followed back. All of these accounts were reported for spam. Twitter isn't as good about shutting down such accounts as they once were. I wouldn't be surprised if they accept payments from some to keep the accounts open. However, I believe the spam report still sends a message to someone that I do not approve of aggressive and essentially anonymous following. And it blocks them from reading any more of my tweets. So take that, spambots.

Sad but not too sad news: our dear old cat passed away this morning, probably of kidney failure or perhaps a diabetic coma. Her 19th birthday is only nine days away. That's really old for a cat, and she was never more than a wisp of one. Her decline in the last year or two has been painfully obvious, and we tried all the natural remedies we thought might help, but at that age I wasn't about to put her on insulin therapy or anti-arthritics just "on the chance" that it might help. It might have just hastened her demise too, or caused her unnecessary discomfort. She gradually slowed down, eating less and less this year even when we tried coaxing her and feeding her by hand. Yesterday she was almost unresponsive but still tottering around. At dawn she was nearly comatose but responded to touch by trying to raise her head and rub against you. At noon she had gone. We will miss her, but she had a long and rather adventurous life filled with affection and friends (including several dogs more than ten times her weight.) Goodbye, Tikki. We celebrate your life with a smile and hope you find playmates and styrofoam peanuts to chase beyond that fabled bridge.

Stuff

Apr. 19th, 2012 10:27 pm
altivo: My mare Contessa (nosy tess)
Took dog and sole remaining cat to vet today. Cat was due for vaccinations, though at age 19 it hardly seemed right to put her through that. She has lost more than a pound since last year, and in spite of our efforts to keep her stuffed with food. Now just four pounds. I think the most she ever was came to under eight, but four! She's truly just skin, bones, and purr now. But she still gets in laps and purrs.

The dog was the larger bill, even though he needed no shots since he had those last fall. He had blood drawn to check thyroid, since he's on daily medication for it and hasn't been rechecked for 18 months. More blood for a heartworm test. Thyroid prescription refilled, and a year's supply of heartworm preventive which is really outrageously expensive. I looked at what's in it: ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate, the two cheapest deworming drugs used for livestock, both of which are long out of patent and widely manufactured.

Weather was mostly unpleasaant, gloomy, chilly, and drippy. Tess was unhappy about not going out to the pasture, but she hates being rained on. Tomorrow will be busy, but should be better overall.

Except Gary's going to Indiana in the morning. I used to revel in being alone, having hours to myself. Now I dread it. What changed? When did it change? I don't even know.

Frigid-air

Feb. 11th, 2012 10:22 pm
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
"Colder than a well-digger's ankle" was what my father used to say, but my maternal grandmother was more blunt about it: "Cold as a witch's teat." We've had much colder days here, in fact, and sometimes strings of them that lasted a week or more. But after an abnormally warm and dry winter like this one, a couple of nights of single digit temperatures really can feel extreme.

The horses and sheep don't seem bothered by it, but I sure am. I'm cold, cold, cold, even sitting eight feet from a blazing woodstove. The other end of the house is only to be visited by gritting my teeth and hurrying through it as quickly as possible. (May be as cold as the mid 50s there, I suppose, but in contrast to the area around the stove it feels like the seventh circle of Dante's Inferno. (Yes, in the famous allegory the worst part of Hell was cold misery, not fire and brimstone.)

Quite possibly this feeling is amplified by the fact that I'm alone overnight for the first time in months. It used to be a weekly occurrence for Gary to stay overnight at his mom's place in Chicago, but this is the first time he's done it since at least last spring. Changes in his class schedule made it more practical for him to go in for a day and come back out in the evening.

So... this weekend I'm on barn duty both days, plus had the usual weekly shopping to do, and a guild meeting to attend. Mind, I'm not complaining about that, it's no big deal, but with the cold temperatures it just feels like one. Tomorrow is probably going to be a day for making soup or something. This should be an ideal opportunity to shop for a Valentine's gift, but I have no inclination to leave the warmth and go out anywhere.

I think I'll sleep on the sofa tonight rather than alone in the cold bedroom. Well, not entirely alone, since our dog Red stays right with me wherever I go, but he's not snuggly. He's a welcome presence, but he doesn't get up on the bed with me the way the old two did. At least it will be warmer out here and I can easily add wood to the stove as needed.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
I had to put together a guild newsletter first, so today's installment isn't ready to be posted, and I'm going to have to go to bed shortly. But I should be able to double post tomorrow to make up for it. Things are moving along, nearly all the important clues have been exposed, and they should all be on the table by Tuesday, I think. Then comes the task of sorting the real information from the red herrings, so to speak.

I'm thinking seriously of doing some illustrations for this on my own. I know I can do it. But those will have to wait until the 50K word goal line has been crossed.

Horses and sheep are not pleased with the switch back to standard time. By their way of looking at it, it just means that meal times are coming an hour late. I can't blame them. They made such a vocal fuss tonight at about 5 pm that I went ahead and did evening chores 30 minutes earlier than I had planned. Once they all had food, things quieted down nicely enough.

Moon is not yet full, but very bright. It got so dark by 5:15 that I was glad of the moon to show me the way back to the house after the barns were closed up. Strong southerly wind is keeping the temperature well above what it was Friday night as well. Made an apple pie this afternoon and we are about to "test" it. ;p

OK, see you tomorrow with Roth's analysis of the situation, and then some surprises from the police.
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
Sneeze, sniffle, sneeze...

Feels like allergy mostly, not a cold, but this time of year I think allergy is unlikely. Oh well.

I will do the Nanowrimo thing again this year. Mostly because an idea did hit me this morning and i like it. More about that in a day or two after it gets rolling...

Meanwhile, here's a photo of the dog and cat sleeping together.

Red and Tikki


Oh, and some "traders" (by which I mean "dirty thieves") at CBOT dropped leaflets onto the Occupy Chicago demonstrators that clearly show just who is waging class warfare on whom, and what the arrogant and self-conceited assumptions really are.

Read it here if you can stomach it.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Miktar's Altivo)
That is the question. Do I need yet another novel manuscript to procrastinate polishing? Probably not. But it's also hard to think of missing out on the fun. Well, I have until Tuesday to decide.

Monday is "story hour" day at work, but I didn't think to offer to appear as Argos the Werewolf or anything, so I probably won't bother with costuming. Or maybe I should take just the head and slip it on without warning... Hmmm.

No frost last night, though we seem to have gotten close. Should be close again tonight. This time we have the woodstove going. Nothing like the storms out east, though. Certainly no snow in the immediate forecast for us.

We went this morning to the Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill over outside Belvidere because they were having an open house and Gary wanted to see the equipment. He took some photos, so if anything interesting was among them I may post tomorrow.

Duck is still laying an egg a day. Number 23 arrived this morning. I'm guessing that she will clutch any time now and may not start again until spring. Certainly the days are getting significantly shorter, and that should shut her down.

Cat is sleeping against the dog's belly for warmth. So far he hasn't objected. We'll see how long that lasts.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Tonight we watched the DVD of Bitter Lake, the furry/fursuit movie that was released at EF this summer. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but overall I have to say it is well done. I'm sure the production had a tight budget and very limited shooting schedule, but on the whole it is professional and easy to watch. Some glitches in the fight scenes and a few lines delivered a bit too unrealistically can be forgiven in the context.

The story is almost Shakespeare-like in subject and character, if not in language. It's a tragedy that could have been developed a bit more given time, but the concept is whole and effective. Well worth seeing if you haven't yet done so. And if you see it on DVD, don't skip the "Behind the Scenes" selection.

I won't deliver any spoilers beyond saying that the furry nature of the characters didn't seem to stand for a lot. The story might as well have been told with humans in the same sort of medieval setting. This doesn't detract from the eye candy of the sets and backdrops or the fursuits themselves, however. Rating: three and a half apples. Higher on production values, lower on writing.

A typical Monday otherwise. Too long, too dull, and too much of a letdown from the weekend.

Gary has spotted a cat on the shelter website that just possibly might be our "disappeared" Rickitoo. He plans to run over tomorrow and see if he can find out. How the cat got picked up 20 miles from here is hard to fathom, though he was excessively friendly and bold and had in the past jumped right into people's cars. If he did that at some neighbor's place he might have gotten a free ride.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Well actually Sl 1 as to p, k2, * yo, k2tog rep from * until 2 sts remain, k2... Next 2 rows, Sl 1 as to p, k to end of row.

A very simple lace pattern scarf. I want to get it done by Tuesday morning. So...

Cold last night, but no frost here. Sunny today, which is a nice change, though it was still chilly. Supposed to make 70s (F) the rest of this week, and remain sunny which should be nice.

Guild newsletter done and sent out. Gallery show judged and at least theoretically ready to hang on Tuesday. I think, just maybe, I'll find a little bit of relax time coming somewhere in the next couple of weeks. Maybe. If nothing else goes wrong and nothing new comes up. Gosh, I won't know what to do with myself.

Tess got to go out and eat grass yesterday and today, so she's happy and not yelling at me whenever I pass by. Red, however, is as usual not convinced that he got enough for dinner so he's following us around with pitiful/hopeful looks. He's supposed to lose a little weight, but I don't think he has. He did, however, learn quickly how to recognize an apple peeler by sound or sight. He promptly plops in the middle of the kitchen floor and each time I step over him he reminds me "All your apple peels are belong to me" or something to that effect. Hmm, now I wonder if he's actually a piggie in dog's clothing.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
At last, this whole nagging project is done. It has taken about ten months, though admittedly I wasn't working at it steadily. I would become disgusted with results I considered inadequate, and stop work for weeks on end. It was a "learning" experience (sarcastic euphemism, but also true.) Anyway, here is the pile of twenty finished squares that will go to the appropriate ten people this week.

All done!


Half of the total squares were worked in some shade of purple, my least favorite color. Definitely had enough of that.

In other news, Gary found someone with a single female Khaki Campbell duck in need of a home with other ducks. We drove up to a farm near the state line this morning and brought her back. He was nervous that our elderly drake might not accept her, but within five minutes of introducing the two, she was following him around everywhere and both seemed quite pleased. She had been living with chickens, and the chickens kept picking on her. Reputedly, she lays up to six eggs a week. We shall see.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Farewell, Simon. Gods, I hope you aren't hurting any more and can run and play again whether there are sheep to chase or only balls.

Farm dogs in 2000


Shown here in 2000, when he was still young and bouncy, Simon is in the center. On the left is Sunny, who was already about 15 years old, and on the right, Simon's best buddy Tee who died of cancer at age nine, damn it.

Very well done, boy. That'll do.

Simon, sweetie, I already miss you so much I can't stand it.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
But before you say "Aww, the poor sheep" I'll add that they are always much happier once it's over. It only takes Tom, our shearer, about four minutes per sheep to clip them down and trim their hooves. Most of the time spent on the process goes to setting up his equipment, dragging the sheep to him one by one, and breaking down afterward. At least this year the day we'd arranged turned out to be cool instead of 90F, which made it all much easier. And in spite of that, I feel exhausted, but that's probably lingering effects if this nasty virus, too.

Gary is off to a performance up in Wisconsin and won't be back until late. I'm here alone with only the dogs for company in the house. Horses and sheep are all bedded down and shut in since more severe thunderstorms seem likely later tonight. Now I need to go put my clothes in the washer, because they're all covered with sheep grease. Really. Our sheep have a significant percentage of Merino bloodlines, and Merinos may make fine wool but they are slippery as a proverbial greased swine.

Oh, yeah. I saw a huge rabbit outside the library windows this morning. It was about 8:40, just after I got there, and I was pulling interlibrary loan requests when I noticed the movement out in the park. I thought it looked like a rabbit and of course he froze when I looked directly at him, but I spotted him under a bush about 100 feet from the window. After a minute or two he took off again and headed right toward me. Big bunny, not a wild cottontail. About the size of a New Zealand, and solid chocolate brown, so surely an escaped pet from somewhere. He seemed right at home out there in the park, though, and is certainly big enough to stand up to most stray dogs and cats. I'll have to watch for him now.

Long Monday

May. 9th, 2011 09:34 pm
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
But what Monday isn't long?

More threats of thunderstorms in the forecast, but it remained dry as a bone all day and so far tonight.

Gary added fish to one of our aquaria on Friday, and one of them was dead this morning. He called the pet shop and they said they would replace or credit it but he had to bring back the corpse and a water sample.

So we did that tonight, and they did give him a credit for the fish but tested the water and said it was "off the scale in the low pH direction." So they sold him test strips and buffering powder.

I'm dubious. Our tap water goes through a water softener and ends up loaded with sodium carbonate, which should be plenty of buffering against acidity. He replaces a third of the water every month with distilled water which tests absolutely neutral. We tested the tank when we got home, using the new test strips (I did have some but they were getting old) and it came out to a pH around 6.7 or so, which is low but certainly not "off the scale." All other factors were within acceptable ranges.

Anyway, he can get his replacement fish on Friday when he goes to rehearsal quite near the shop. And I think we'll look for another dealer for the future.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
It didn't amount to more than splatters. And tonight at sunset the sky looked fit to dump a foot of snow on us. If the temperature were ten degrees lower, I'd be expecting it. It's hovering right around freezing though which is really too warm for any accumulation.

Full day back at work, full desk waiting for me. Got most of it cleared but I'm really tired now. I should take some of those extra vacation days ASAP. April means it's really time to start planting lettuce and peas, too.

Gary set up some agility/obedience jumps in the arena to work with Red. He was surprised (and so am I) to find that Tess took interest in the proceedings and seemed quite excited or else offended by it. She started stomping around and rearing up until he decided to quit working with the dog for now. We'll have to try it when I'm there to watch and possibly distract her. Tess is fairly well trained as a riding horse, but I've never been one for jumping. I wonder now if someone jumped with her in the past and this reminded her of it. We know she's not particularly bothered by the larger dogs. She doesn't like little noisy ones, though.

Gary also made sweet and sour cabbage soup for supper, which is always good. This time he used our home grown tomatoes from the freezer, and fresh lemon juice, so it was nice and tasty. Lots left over too, which is always a plus. We have room in the freezer for it.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to sleep the night through for the first time in almost a week. Certainly feels like it right now.
altivo: Commission line art colored by myself (cs-tivo-color)
Bad news: I still have the cold. Skipped work today, got little done other than trying to sleep (fail) and trying to breathe (obviously I'm still here, but it wasn't pretty.)

Good news: We took Simon to the vet this afternoon. Gary was all doleful about it and sure she would say he couldn't be helped, but I had better expectations and I was right. She checked him over and agreed with my assessment that arthritis is what's giving him the most discomfort right now. That can be treated to some extent, with one of several prescription drugs. So we came home with a two week supply of Rimadyl, and some of another painkiller to use as a temporary bridge, because he has to be off regular aspirin for a week before he can start the Rimadyl. We used Rimadyl with an elderly golden retriever a few years ago and it really did help her for a while. The drug is fairly expensive, about $3 a day, I think, but I can cover it for now and if it works for him I think we can get a paper prescription and use that to order it from a mail order vet supply for a lower price.

Oh, and Simon is getting around quite well today. Still slow and with a limp, but getting up on his own and moving about. I think the cold snap last week probably aggravated his arthritis. I'm afraid he probably won't be with us by the time winter rolls around again, but I want to make him comfortable while I can. He's still waggy and eager for attention, and very eager to eat his food, so I don't think his quality of life is that bad yet.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
And it's been cold enough to restart the woodstove. We hadn't had a fire in a month, but I've got one going tonight.

Poor old Simon is getting really shaky on his feet. He's 15 years old now and has a number of problems but the most significant seems to be arthritis. He still wants to eat and get attention, but he's not really interested in play. He will walk on a leash, but very slowly. We've been trying to get him to walk some because he's just not getting enough exercise. The more he stays still, the stiffer he gets, but if we keep him moving at regular intervals he seems much better. Still, we're both worried about how much longer he can last.

At least there was some sun today, even though it was unpleasantly chilly. Gary had to take his car in for service this morning, so we stopped into the Tractor Supply Co. across the road from the Ford dealer to look at baby ducks and chicks. Now that we're down to just one duck, and that one male, he's thinking about getting some new ones. They did have Rouen and Pekin ducklings, and those were really cute, but we would want a good egg producing breed. Apparently they can get Khaki Campbells or Swedish for us and those are both egg producers. The minimum special order is just two ducks, and we'd probably get six or so. Ordering on our own from a supplier, the minimum order would be 15 ducklings, which is really too many for us.
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
Despite two snow days, no backup at work. This is probably because everything else stopped as well. No mail, no colleagues putting things on my desk, almost no inbound e-mail as all the other libraries in the system were also closed much of that time. It did seem peculiar. I can't think when I last had two snow days in a row, but maybe never. Blizzards seem to have a propensity to hit at the beginning or end of weeks rather than in the middle.

Roads were still not ideal. In particular, IL-23 was only a lane and a half wide in several places along the way, with seven feet or so of snow piled on the other half of the northbound lane. This makes travel into a sort of game of "chicken" to see who will yield. I did not care for it.

Leftovers for dinner, which was fine, as we did plenty of cooking while Gary's mom was here. He took her home today and found that neighbors had cleaned her steps for her, though the street was still snow-filled and almost impassable.

Red got scolded for begging at the table during dinner and had to wait in his crate until his own dinner was ready. He wasn't pleased, but after eating he eagerly climbed onto the sofa with me again and fell asleep with his head resting on my lap. This in turn made it difficult for me to move, so I fell asleep too for a while. Woke up with cramps and one foot asleep. The other foot has a big blister from a wrinkle in my sock while I was shoveling snow so I ended up hobbling around like someone much older even than I am.

Last week's Sunday paper had an ad in it for a "free" bottle of Coffee-mate(tm) but you had to go to a web site to get the coupon. The web site, however, said you couldn't claim the coupon until 9 am PST on Friday. OK, I actually remembered this morning and tried. The web site had crashed due to overloading of course. They had posted a message saying to try later. Tried later. It redirected to a Facebook page that stated you must "Like" their page in order to receive a coupon. Right. Obviously they are using the new privacy violating features Facebook has added, the ones that give them your private information if you "like" their page and also post to all your friends walls the fact that you "like" their product. I have already deleted my Facebook account months ago because of this sort of crap. I did not "like" their page. Instead I went back to their web site and sent them an e-mail telling them I do not care for such sleazy tactics.
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
Still too cold. At least I got some weaving done today, not enough but some. Gary moved some more snow out of the way, so we have decent paths cut to nearly everywhere we need for now. The only real issue is waste removal from the barns. We normally spread it on the back fields but unless he cuts a swath back there the wheelbarrow isn't getting that far for a while.

Back to work tomorrow. As it happened, I didn't go today. Director called early and said that the road between me and work was closed due to drifting snow, and since I only go in for four hours on Thursday as a rule, I needn't come. I accepted the offer, though I could have gotten there by a more circuitous route. As is usual for rural environments, the 15 miles would have become about 21 or so. I have personal days and a floating holiday available though, so I'll suggest that she charge it to one of those.

Took Gary's mom in to Woodstock this afternoon to get her prescriptions refilled at Walgreens. While there I checked out their offering of plush for Valentine's but found nothing irresistible. No ponies or other equines at all. No big cats. Too many bears and monkeys with goofy faces. Hence, no money for Walgreens. Though one of my favorite ponies came from there three years ago, They've not had any more since then.

After dinner tonight, while I was reading, Red got onto the sofa next to me and snuggled up for about an hour. Tikki, the elderly cat, got into my lap and spent a while licking the top of his head, which he did not resist, before moving to the other end of the sofa. Unfortunately, no photos, as Gary was busy trying to explain Facebook to his mom, who was having trouble grasping the idea of all that "stuff" just sitting there forever, getting bigger and bigger. We didn't get into the privacy issues and all those other complicated aspects.

Tired. Very tired and still sore. Must... zzzzzzzz

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