Animal Hospital

I have NEVER wanted to be a veterinarian. NEVER. I don’t really have a problem with elderly sick human beings, but sick animals sends my stress-o-meter to outer space (because “sky-high” was insufficiently indicative). And yet, here I am.

see how the left wing is not fully unfurled? he’s on the bromeliad

The butterfly cannot fly. My son and I learned on one of my Arizona excursions, when we went to Butterfly Wonderland, that emerging from a cocoon is a precarious experience for butterflies. Although it’s “natural”, it’s not necessarily without complications and problems. My butterfly appears to have had a bit of an issue with his emergence. And I am pretty sure that he is a “he” given the source material on the internet. 🙂 And my sister (the true source). His left wing is damaged and he cannot fly. I figured this out yesterday because I kept finding him lower and lower within the kitchen, even when I’d moved him back up higher.

the lovely aluminum foil blockade – where is that butterfly????

When he landed in the kitchen sink, my husband wanted to “put him out of his misery”. I’m not sure butterflies have misery or existential despair. I rejected the proposal and told my husband to get the butterfly up onto one of the succulents in the bay window. Note that *I* wasn’t going to touch it. Eeew. It’s still all and all a bug. So the butterfly was deposited on the one non-succulent – a bromeliad that flowered beautifully last year but has done zilch since then. However that bay window overlooks both the sink and the dish drainer and I did NOT want to deal with another incidence of sink butterfly. I got out my aluminum foil and lined the edge of the window, making a barrier/landing zone for when (note: when, not if) the butterfly falls out of a plant again. He appears able to walk, and walk UP things, but the flying is not going to happen. Please – someone – how long do butterflies live??? I’m really NOT loving the aluminum foil. I’m really REALLY not loving the anxiety and stress of trying to find him when he is not visible. I went to take a picture of the lovely aluminum foil arrangement and I CAN’T FIND HIM.

i’m sleeping. i’m very comfortable.

And there is WC. Sigh. WC is old and sick. But NOT miserable enough for us to assist her on her way to her next incarnation. We are miserable enough that I personally am ready to leave her and my husband and see what my next life will be, but BC has nixed that. WC is very arthritic. Deaf. Weak. Wobbly. Starving to death (literally – her thyroid is burning food as fast, if not faster, than she ingests it. Yet she’s also extremely picky about the food as in – “yeah, I ate that flavor 30 minutes ago, what else do you have?” I’m grateful that she is still heading for the litter box, and remembering basic training, but her success rate is diminishing. We blame all the digestive upheavals on her, not BC, but I concede that might be unfair.

what? you DON’T sleep at an angle?

Every few days my husband and I say “I think she’s REALLY failing now.” We exchange sad glances, agree to wait 24 hours, and go on our way. The next day WC not only gets up on the couch, she gets up onto the BACK of the couch. She plays with the red laser dot. She yells at my husband to go sit on the couch and watch tv so she can snuggle up next to him. She is NOT ready to transition. I can’t transition her if she is still going about her daily routines, checking out events (when there is sufficient vibration or visual clue for her to know something is happening). Every day I run an analysis: am I being more cruel or more accepting? When is it abuse as opposed to loving and accepting a family member’s issues?

She might be “just a cat” to some people, but she’s our WC and we love her. That means I have to support her decision to not go gently into the night.

I still have a sweet little kitten face when I want.

Very Unexpected Visitor

Fairly certain this is a Black Swallowtail

Well. This was a surprise. I sat down to eat my lunch when a movement caught my eye. It was a butterfly. A live butterfly. Inside my house. On my grow light. 3 feet away. I did what any right-thinking person would do: called to my husband as I raced for my camera. Because after all, we know, if there isn’t a photo, it never happened.

I’m saying “what do we do with it?” since it’s going down to single digits again tonight. Obviously we can’t put it outside. My husband is saying “the cat will get it”. I’m thinking no way am I letting the cats get it. It didn’t look great – either it was starving or burned itself on the grow light or a cat had already gotten it. It didn’t look very stable once it tried to move. It moved off the grow light at some point and was between the planters. Maybe dragging a wing? a foot? NOT flying.

first round of feeding the butterfly, when I began to worry it was drowning, not drinking

So of course we tried to feed it. 🙂 I feed everyone and everything, even unexpected butterflies. Unfortunately I had no rotting food (that’s what my search turned up for ‘what do butterflies eat?’ but I did have a pear with a little brown spot. We put some sugar water, small pieces of the pear, and ultimately, some pomegranate nectar in a plate. The butterfly was still staggering, now back behind the planter. I pushed the plate near it, locked BC in the basement, and went back to my lunch

I got up to check on it and couldn’t tell if it was drowning in the sugar water or drinking it ecstatically (watch the video – you’ll see what I mean). In case it was drowning, I put a bit of paper towel near it so it could get its footing. I know NOTHING about butterflies other than that they are pretty and I like them. 🙂 It didn’t seem impressed by the paper towel…

having dined, returned to the grow light (see the added nectar in the dish)

After lunch I checked again. The butterfly was out of the dish (so it didn’t drown) and back on the grow light. I grabbed some catnip-flavored greenies, put them down in front of the basement door, and released the kracken! I mean BC. 🙂 Who devoured the greenies. I fed BC some wet cat food while I worked the daily crossword puzzle, then grabbed more greenies and BC. While BC protested vociferously (apparently she does not like being carried about) I took us both upstairs, where I strewed a trail of greenies from the top of the stairs to my office. 🙂 I’m hoping the butterfly decides/is able to fly higher. If so, I can move the plate of nectar out of cat-reach. (Although I’m not really sure where such a place might be.) Because I’m going to be very sad if my husband proves correct in this instance.

yay for the distraction power of greenies!!! and the lure of my desk

Actually – it was my day for visitors. It was raining/snowing this morning so I did not go out for my morning walk. When I pulled up the shade downstairs, I discovered my frequent morning walk companions had NOT been deterred by the weather!

I know they do a lot of damage, but I still feel delight seeing them

Check The Size

Yes, but is it waterproof?

My husband needed a new pair of sneakers. Oh wait – using the word “sneakers” signals my decrepit old age. 🙂 Let me start again. My husband needed a new pair of athletic shoes. To me that implies he was doing something athletic. He wasn’t. He wanted footwear that wasn’t sandals, wasn’t boots, wasn’t dress-wear. (/me whispers: sneakers). I made sure he knew how to access the coupons on my big shoe-store account and off he went. He says he’s very happy with the new footwear, but I have my doubts. Although it isn’t all the things it shouldn’t be, I can’t believe that (1) this is the correct fit and (2) that it will be at all comfortable for walking of standing. 🙂

I Think This Is A First

Flowering vinca 🙂

Look! Purple flowers!!! I’ve had vinca vines many times in the past. I like having them trailing down from hanging pots, swaying with the breezes. I like them in my big planters lined on the front walk, ‘connecting’ lawn to flower. In all that time, however, I don’t think I have ever had them flower. I’m guessing that is because I usually don’t buy them until sometime in May, which might be past their flowering time. This year life continues to be ‘different’. No – this has nothing to do with the pandemic. This is about the seasons.

Dusty miller, vinca, mint, jasmine, and other stuff. dianthus???

The past winter was very mild. Other than some crazy cold days in February, it wasn’t that cold. I have been amazed at how many of my plants wintered over on the porch. Even my rosemary, which doesn’t make it onto the porch, survived. And thrived. Usually it hangs in there until February, then one night it will throw up its metaphorical arms and die. Not this year. I have all sorts of things coming back, which is great! What’s not so great is that for many of them I have no idea what they are. 🙂 Ah, the perennial question: Are they weeds or are they flowers?

dianthus? thyme, sage (ignore the little sign – it’s sage, not savory), vinca

Some things are recognizable- jasmine, vinca, dusty miller. The herbs: lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, lemon balm. LOTS of mint. I think the dianthus is back. But there is a lot of green that I’m not recognizing.

Amazingly healthy rosemary, mint, and green stuff.

I cropped the photos so you don’t see the 2 huge bags of potting soil and the huge bag of top soil. I’ve been buying more planters and pots. 🙂 I bought seeds again this year, knowing even as I did so that last year’s didn’t work all that well. Actually, my cosmos and zinnias did – I sowed them directly into the beds. I’m going to try again with radishes. I was unable to resist picking up 2 Romaine plants. 🙂 I really need a “support group” but I want the one that tells me what I’m doing is natural and healthy, not the one that tries to help me quit.

Obligatory cat photo. 🙂 You can actually see her little face for a change because of the sun!

A Minor Disagreement

My meetings started at 8:30 am this morning – scheduled to go until 2pm. I managed to get my phone out from under BC, but at 8:30 we were still disputing to WHOM the keyboard belongs. Sigh. By 9am thank goodness she decided she didn’t want it anyway. WC, however, made sure that the 9am call knew that she was being starved. 🙂

More From My Office Mates

Making sure the laptop doesn’t go anywhere, and absorbing any heat discharge

BC wants it known that she works VERY hard. She does many important tasks while I work at my table. First she helps make sure that all my calls can start properly. She ensures this by walking between me and the camera so that everyone can see her sleek black side. The other day I was on a call, using my cell phone for audio, the laptop for video. My coworker began laughing and said “I have to stop you and ask – Is your cat sitting on your phone?” Sure enough, BC was indeed on the phone. Holly, still laughing said “All of a sudden your voice got very fuzzy and I heard a loud purring.” 🙂 I guess BC likes Holly. It’s not all fun and games and office meetings. Sometimes BC helps take care of household chores, like the laundry.

Well, SOMEONE needs to mind the laundry.

WC is still with us, although we had a bit of a scare this week. She wasn’t eating and wasn’t meowing and wasn’t coming downstairs to watch TV, pressed against her daddy’s side. She is better but still has NO interest in helping with house chores or doing anything to assist me while I work. No, her contributions still consist of coming down the hall and almost into the room where I’m working, and making sure that every single person on the video conference can hear that she is HUNGRY!!! Do you UNDERSTAND? I AM HUNGRY. I guess when I reach WC’s age I, too, will have retired. 🙂

BIG kitty yawn!!! It’s EXHAUSTING taking care of the clean laundry!!!

But There’s Nothing NEW

She is managing me as I work.

I’m impressed by the bloggers who still manage to find interesting anecdotes and photos to share. I have lots of thoughts in my head, but nothing ever seems urgent enough to overcome the winter/covid/lockdown lethargy that possesses me. It was rather fun to have a major snow storm, especially as the teenager who lives next door dealt with the shoveling (yes, we loaned him our snow blower to do 5 houses on the block). Neither my husband nor I had to go out so that was also good. But now I’m over it. We had snow a week later and honestly – boring. I want to say something like “either snow a substantial accumulation or don’t bother”, but I want to be very, very careful what I wish for. Because it takes a LONG TIME for the snow to melt, and it’s not so pretty anymore.

It snowed.

There WAS a plus to the big snow storm. As I checked in on the neighbor to make sure he knew that he could use the snowblower, his little sister came to the door as well. 🙂 You remember her – she’s the one who greeted me on my return from a long, hard day at the office with “Can I have a hug?” *huge smile* I adore her and miss our baking sessions. Maybe we could bake with masks on? Anyway, she came to the door and told me she had a gift for me. She then presented me with a gorgeous eye glass case that she had made for me. Can my smile get any bigger? What an absolute joy!

The most beautiful eye glass case!

I made it back to the library this week to pick up more books on my “want to read, too cheap to purchase” list. Thank goodness for the library. What a brilliant innovation!!! 🙂 While reading eBooks I came to several conclusions. I’ve already ditched the author who never lets her characters be happy. The relentless misery and disappointment is too much for me. I’ve decided I’m also bored when the main character is YET AGAIN considered the main suspect. Enough already. We know it’s NOT you so it’s boring to read all the details implicating you and the hostility of the ones suspecting you. Yawn. I’m also tired of books that start out with the protagonist breaking the law deliberately even though they are in law enforcement. I couldn’t make it past the first chapter. I don’t know if it was the writing or the “here we go again” feeling it evoked, but it’s taking up room on my iPad at the moment until I figure out how to delete it. I don’t mind obvious plots – I’m very happy reading “chick lit” where you KNOW who ends up together (unhappy girl runs to wherever, swears off men/that man, meets man/remeets that man, sparks, misunderstanding, fight, reunion, happy ending) if the characters are likeable and believable. I treated myself to a big THICK book a few weeks ago – Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson. This is Book 4 of the Stormlight Archive series. My son got me started on it and I love it. The books are a few inches thick, *grin*, and you do have to like sci-fi. I look at the book and I don’t start it, I just sort of drool. It seems that there are at least 3 years between the publication of each book. If I read it NOW, that will be good, because I remember everything (okay – a lot) because I just read the first 3 books all fall. But if I read it NOW, I’ll have to wait 3 years to find out more. If I wait to read it until Book 5 is out, I can have the pleasure of re-reading books 1-3 and then 4. 🙂 I do that with another series – reread the entire series start to finish when the latest book is published. Those are much shorter books, however, and I’m sure that they are in the “teen novel” genre. I don’t care. I love Elantra.

And snowed.

We have still not braved going out to dine indoors at a restaurant. As stir-crazy as I feel at times, it’s still not worth the possible risk. What we did instead was have a friend come to dinner at our house. Rather than eat in the snow on the deck, we ate inside. We sat at opposite ends of the nearly 9 ft. long dining room table. I had an exhaust fan pulling air out of the house in the sun room, and a fan in the dining room pushing air out of the dining room (or such was my theory/hope). We had a fantastic dinner – my husband made what is now my all-time favorite dish, some French chicken recipe. It was wonderful to see our friend, who we’d not seen in months. We talked and talked and talked. Absolutely great.

3 cheers for teenagers with snow blowers!

This past weekend was the NFL Superbowl. It was also the first time in over 25 years that I was NOT throwing a Superbowl party. I’ve mentioned this in years past, how this might be our premiere party each year. We have to move out the living room furniture, we set up 2 TVs, TONS of food, dozens of friends. It’s always a wonderful wonderful time, no matter how uninteresting the game. I’ve been a bit bummed about no party – difficulty wrapping my head around that. On top of that I had some health problems. I mentioned my costochondritis. Not only did I have that, but apparently at the same time I contracted shingles. Well NO WONDER I’ve been exhausted all of January. Just as both of those appeared to have loosened their grip on me, my back went out the way it has not done in years. I don’t remember the last time I got “stuck” and had to call for my husband to help me move. I spent the day with my back packed in ice and popping ibuprofen. Thank goodness it cleared up very quickly. That meant I could think about a Superbowl zoom get-together. Cheers for my friend Pam who refused to let me wallow in self-pity. She kept nudging and suggesting things to do. I got my sister signed on board (as she is the one with the zoom account that can run for more than 50 minutes) and we did indeed have a virtual party. I made up Superbowl bingo cards (can’t start playing until after kickoff, and only words that are used in commercials or during the game broadcast) and sent them out to everyone. We had folks logged in from Florida, NC, Delaware, NJ, Ohio, and AZ. 🙂 We all shared views of our party food and drinks. For most of the game people stayed on mute but when something major happened we’d text and chat. 🙂 It wasn’t the same, but it was fun. It’s good to have family and friends. 🙂

BC with her absolute favorite prey – the cloth butterfly. It appears regularly by my bed, delivered overnight to the sound of hunting meows.

The rest of life is pretty much as it has been. Sandwich making twice a week. Working from home. I took a new role at work, which contains all of what I used to do and then some. That means I’m in a LOT more meetings. I also appear to be on the 2-person committee of people expected to create a virtual “water cooler conversation” in text channels. Although it can be a bit annoying when the other committee member nags me to figure out what to do, it can lend itself to some very fun activities. I spent several hours photo-shopping our VP into “Where’s Waldo” type scenarios, and onto Mount Rushmore, into a suit of medieval armor on a horse also wearing medieval armor, and more. Today was turn our VP into an emoji. This is because I got tired of the other committee member saying last week “What do YOU want to do, Ahuva?” I replied “*I* want to be on vacation in the Caribbean”. Sigh. But today’s pictures did seem to bring a lot of enjoyment to the team, including (or maybe especially??) our VP. 🙂 Success!

Sometimes that tricky butterfly manages to hide safely under the couch.

Not Ready for Reality

flowering succulents

Oh man, it’s January in New Jersey. We still have a pandemic. It is glorious sunshine out there but you can’t fool ME – I KNOW that we’ve reached our HIGH temperature for today. It may LOOK lovely out there but it’s 37 degrees but will FEEL like 30 degrees. Ugh. Too cold for a walk even if I could. And I can’t because I injured my back a week or so before Christmas. I have no idea how I did it, when I did it. I became aware of someone stabbing a knife into my side repeatedly. I looked to stop them but didn’t see anyone but myself. There was definitely someone sticking something incredibly sharp into my side. Turns out I seem to have an absolutely text-book case of costochondritis. If you follow that link, you will see that the authors had an interview with my then-future now-current self and got the description for the ailment. 🙂 If you are not into links, the short story is that my rib and its associated cartilage had a parting of the ways (for no discernible reason), and I need to wait until they decide to get back together. My brother-in-law (retired doctor) diagnosed me and told me to take it easy and rest. No problem, I thought. It’s the time of year when not much is happening. I’m not doing much. So I kept on walking my mile on my treadmill each day and, yes, sad to admit how stupid I am, kept doing my little try-to-get-started arm exercises. Well. It turns out that walking and arm exercises move your rib cage. I kept that up for 5 days or so after my diagnosis until I nearly passed out from pain New Year’s Eve day when I went to make the sandwiches for the soup kitchen. At that point I decided that maybe walking was NOT such a brilliant idea. Hey – you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!!

kitchen bay window full of happy succulents

I’m doing much better, I am happy to report. Last night I actually managed to sleep in my BED, instead of the reclining chair. There is only ONE position where there is no pain, which gets a bit much for all the other parts of my body, but I did make it through the night, thanks to the ever-present heating pad. The cats have been quite considerate and both they and my husband allowed me to sleep late – all the way to 9:30 this morning!! Even better – the coffee was still hot when I got downstairs. 🙂 That is one of the most wonderful things about working from home – my husband brews the coffee every morning. Even when I get up early to do the sandwiches, when I come home he has made enough that there is hot coffee waiting for me. Ahhhhh.

WC on Red Couch – All is Right in the World

White cat is doing well also. As with so many things now, having an appointment with the vet is a production. Two pages of questions to answer about the pet, waiting in the parking lot in the car until you can bring your pet to the door. You hand over the animal and go back to your car. You will field calls from the doctor as your pet is examined. Finally you are allowed to pay (I forgot to ask if my husband had to give that over the phone or if they allowed him in to pay). I had a day full of meetings and I was still not lifting any weights (see above – care and treatment of costochondritis) so my husband took her in. Another mark on the plus column for working from home. Yes WC is old, arthritic, kidney issues, thyroid issues caused by the kidney medicine but for being 18+ years old, she’s in good shape. The doctor told my husband that WC was sitting in the doctor’s lap and that WC is a “beautiful cat”. Note to my sister: Maybe if YOU told WC she was beautiful she’d stop tormenting you. *grin* WC was probably frozen in fear. Unlike my dogs, who loved the vet, none of my cats have ever been able to relax and go with the flow. I’ll never forget the time one of my girls turned and sank her teeth into the vet. He had to pause the exam while he got stitches.

Soaking up the sunshine

I may be going stir-crazy by having to stay home and inside so much, but the succulents seem to be quite happy. I brought in as many as I could fit in the kitchen bay window. On gray days, which are VERY frequent in NJ in the winter, I turn on the grow light at the top of the window. On sunny days they get a few hours of direct sunshine. They are flowering and thriving. It does give me joy and satisfaction to see them all snuggled together, very green, very happy. Once a week I try to get them into the sink and give everyone a good soaking. Three of them are quite heavy so they don’t always get the sink-treatment. Even so, they look happy to me. 🙂