Thursday, September 06, 2007

Boris: 1993-2007

Boris.JPG, originally uploaded by mnemosyne_la.

Boris died almost three weeks ago, and I can't put off this post any longer. I've been in denial for most of that time, but posting it makes it real, which is why I can barely see my computer screen through the tears.

At first, we thought he just had another cold that he caught from my brother's cat, who we were catsitting for. And he probably did. The problem was, because of his kidney problems, he had no immunity left and his body just shut down.

A few days before he died, I had a very bad feeling about the way he was acting. He was by himself a lot more (which at first we thought was because a strange cat kept hissing at him in his own house) and he wasn't grooming himself or letting Keaton groom him. When I called the vet on Wednesday, they said I couldn't have an appointment until Monday, until I started crying. Then they agreed to put me on a waiting list for a faster appointment. They called the next day with a Saturday slot, and I took it.

When we got there, the vet was shocked at how bad he was. Not only had he dropped a large amount of weight (at least 4 pounds, a big deal for a 10-pound cat), he had developed what we most feared: the mouth sores that indicated that his kidneys had completely shut down. He was a fill-in vet, so he didn't know how long we'd been keeping him going -- I think he though we'd been neglecting him, at least until he read the chart and talked to some of the employees who'd been helping us through this.

I knew -- I knew -- that we were going to have to put him to sleep. I knew it on Friday. I knew it that morning. I didn't want to face it, but it was cruel to try and keep him alive when he could barely walk and couldn't eat. G. didn't realize -- he was in denial, too. But he knew when we put him on the exam table and Boris just lay there, too exhausted to keep going.

They did all of the paperwork beforehand, including the cremation request. I wish they hadn't had to shave his leg -- he always hated loud noises like that. After the shot, it took less than a minute for his heart to stop.

I had Boris for 14 years. I adopted him from the LA County animal shelter when he was a four-month-oid kitten. He was my pal and my companion through a lot of tough times, including some of the worst days of my depression.

I loved him, and he loved me. I wish he could have been saved.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Catblogging: Keaton and Baskets

IMG_1831.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

Keaton loves laundry baskets. Loves loves loves loves them. He loves to be in, on, and under them. If you're carrying one near your waist, he'll try to jump into it whether it's empty or full.

We worry about him sometimes.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Public Service Announcement

It turns out that if you're giving your cat subcutaneous fluid, and said cat decides to make a break for it while the flow is still going, the fluid will shoot out at you like a tiny fire hose until your partner turns the flow off.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I'm Back

I got myself into a corner by insisting on doing photoblogging for every post, and then being too lazy to upload pictures. So I think I'll try some just-words blogging until I have a really good picture.

Boris is still inexplicably improving. He's anemic but his behavior continues to return to normal. We had a couple of tense weeks while he and Keaton figured out who gets to be the new alpha, but it seems to be resolved now and Boris is once again king of the castle, with Keaton as his devoted minion.

And have I mentioned lately that I have the best husband in the world? Because he reads my blog AND buys me the books I beg for on it. Now I'm paging through my brand spankin' new copy of "Fitted Knits" and trying to decide if I can declare myself "intermediate" yet so I can make the puff-sleeved cardigan. (Probably not.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm not an addict.

DSCN0599, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

It's just, like, a coincidence that both of my online orders arrived on the very same day that I tried a new yarn store close to work and found the exact yarn I need for my mom's Christmas gift.

I can stop any time I want to.

Friday Catblogging: Boris' Lifelong Ambition

IMG_1895.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

I've always let Boris drink out of the bathroom sink's faucet -- it makes him happy, and it's funny to hear him sneezing as he sticks his face under too far and gets water up his nose. But though he loved to hang out in the bathtub, we would never let him drink out of the bathtub faucet.

Until we were told he was dying, so we decided to grant his last wish. Which seems to have given him the will to continue living, so he can continue drinking out of that faucet. So now we're stuck letting him drink out of the tub's faucet despite Keaton's not-so-charming habit of peeing in the empty tub.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Sweaterblogging

IMG_1902.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

I'm very, very excited that I'm tackling my first sweater. I'm doing a relatively easy one -- Stefanie Japel's the Better Sweater that I originally saw on "Knitty Gritty." Apparently, it also appears in slightly different form in her book Fitted Knits, which is ON MY AMAZON.COM WISHLIST, BIRTHDAY PRESENT BUYERS!


Anyway, it seems to be going pretty well. I have a couple more repeats to do before I put the sleeve stitches onto scrap yarn and start working the body. I didn't really do a swatch because my swatches lie. I'm hoping I don't regret it.

Well, if I do, that's what I have an 8-year-old niece for, right?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Boris Has Decided To Stay

IMG_1791.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

I took Boris in on Friday to get examined and have blood drawn to find out where we stand, because it's been six weeks since they told us to take him home to die.

The vet called today and said, "I'm calling about Boris, the cat with the amazing regenerating kidneys."

His levels are still about twice over normal ... but that means that they're at less than half of what they were a month ago. Apparently subcutaneous fluid does a lot more good than we were led to believe.

Now our main concern is that he's a little anemic, so we have to give him an extremely expensive drug for two weeks to increase his red blood cells. Well, extremely expensive if you're giving it to a 150-pound human. It's only kinda expensive for an 8-pound cat.

All we can think right now is that he decided that his life is too good to leave right now. He has two monkeys to pet and feed him, he gets to drink out of the bathtub, and he has his best buddy in the whole world, Keaton, to clean him and play with him.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My ball is bigger than yours

Big Ball.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

What else would you expect from a yarn called "Magnum"?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Connemara Scarf

You know how your mom always tells you that something worth doing is worth the effort, even if it's a pain? That's what this scarf was for me.

First off, it was only my second time trying to follow a pattern, and the first one where the majority of the pattern wasn't "Stockinette stitch for 4 inches." I actually had a repeating stitch pattern that I had to follow in eight-row repeats, and it was HARD for a beginner like me to get the hang of it.

The end was worked first; I frogged that three times. That's not counting me trying to figure out how much to add so I could pick up the 25 stitches I needed to so I could knit the scarf body. Then I had trouble figuring out the pattern repeat of the scarf body, so I ended up frogging that twice before I did the test swatch you see above and got the hang of it.

The cables were the easiest part of it by far. If you're intimidated by cables, don't be. All you do is move a few stitches to a different needle, knit their neighbors, and then knit the reserved stitches. It took me maybe five seconds to get the hang of it, though I did have to keep checking if I was supposed to be holding the cable needle to the front or to the back for that particular row. And the results are pretty spectacular for something so simple.

Then I discovered that the second end that I'd knitted -- and bound off -- was too long for the scarf body ... which I had already bound off. Which is where the magic of blocking comes in ....

It took the scarf three full days to dry after I wet-blocked it in cold water and a little Euculan, but I was able to get the end to fit to the body and sew it together with my absolutely awful hand-sewing. (Not one of my talents, to say the least.)

After all of this drama, G. knew he was required to love the scarf but, luckily for our marriage, he does seem to genuinely love it. I've come into our home office in the morning to find him sitting in his bathrobe with the scarf around his neck, and he's marveled several times at how warm and soft it is. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino claims another victim.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Stashblogging

IMG_1853.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

Since I've already blogged about my current and ongoing cat issues, I'm doing Stashblogging today instead (though with bonus cat included).

Compared to some of the yarn stashes I've seen online, mine seems a little ... puny. And yet it's plenty to keep me busy for the next year or so.

The outer bag is a Ziploc XXL, which reaches about to my armpit (I'm 5'3" if that gives you some perspective). Inside, I put each individual yarn in its own baggie, ranging from 1 gallon for small amounts to 2 gallons for sweater-size amounts.

And, yes, I've added to it since I took this picture. No, I'm not an addict -- why do you ask?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

42 Days Later ...

IMG_1863.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

You may have noticed that blogging suddenly ceased. Here's the timeline:

About six weeks ago, I noticed on a Sunday night that Boris (he's the gray one) was extremely lethargic and seemed very, very ill. I packed him up and took him to the emergency vet, worried that he was having another recurrence of Feline Urinary Syndrome (where his urethra gets blocked).

The vet had much worse news for us -- not only were his kidney values off the charts, but his heart was arrhythmic. Our two choices were to check him into the hospital for a week-long regime of intravenous fluids while being hooked up to a heart monitor, or to take him home and make him comfortable.

Boris is 14. I've had him since he was a four-month-old kitten. We couldn't, in good conscience, put him through that at his age. So we took him home.

We had him rechecked by our regular vet the next day, and they had the same kidney results, though the arrhythmia had cleared up with the subcutaneous fluids they gave him at the emergency vet. (In retrospect, the arrhythmia she heard was probably due to dehydration, but we were too panicky to realize that at the time.) They gave us a bag of subcutaneous fluids for us to administer ourselves, a cream to increase his appetite, and sent us home so we could wait for him to die.

We took him home and we waited.

And we waited.

We're still waiting.

Not only is he still alive six weeks after he went into acute kidney failure, he seems to be feeling a little better than he did six weeks ago. He finally started eating again on a semi-regular basis last week (no more force-feeding -- whoo-hoo!). A couple of days ago, he decided that my knitting needles were his personal play toys.

So now we don't know what the hell to think, and neither does our vet. His tests show that he has very little kidney function, but he seems to have decided that kidneys are for OTHER cats, not for him.

In other words: the crisis is over. I will be posting a memorial to him someday, but not quite yet. Soon, but not yet. And I can get back to blogging now that I don't have to worry every single day that he's going to die the very same day that I post a cheerful knitting picture.

Oh, crap, I just jinxed us, didn't I?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's here! It's here!

IMG_1780.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

I got the yarn that I'm going to use to make my husband the Connemara Scarf from Sknitty.

Actually, I've started making it -- I'll talk about my Adventures With Cables next time. I'm keeping a list of how many times I've already frogged it and/or started over.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

We know who fathered Anna Nicole's baby.

Because, really, how could we all have gone on living without having that little mystery answered?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

MISSING: Feline Dim Sum

Keaton has this strange habit. He has a secret stash of toys that he keeps somewhere behind the couch. We found this out the first time the cleaning people came by and he immediately pulled toys out from there to make sure the cleaning people hadn't TOUCHED HIS STUFF!!! He had toys in there that we haven't seen in months.

I made him the Kitty Egg Roll from Knitty and he played with it for about ten minutes.

Then I went into the other room for a bit. When I went back, the eggroll was gone, never to be seen again.

I suspect it's in the secret stash, just waiting to be played with when we're not home and can't interfere with the dire plans he has for the catnip inside that eggroll.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Catblogging: Bestest Buddies

IMG_1770.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

We were worried at first about bringing in a new kitten after our cat Natasha died of cancer. After all, Boris (on the right) was already 13 years old -- how on earth was he going to adapt to having a bundle of energy around all the time?

As you can see, the answer was, "Pretty damn well."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Turns out ...

That getting a root canal sucks. Big time. Especially when it takes four hours.

Luckily, I have my Tylenol with Codeine, so at least I'll be able to sleep tonight. Ow ow ow.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Catblogging: Keaton Loves Yarn

Keaton exploring my stash, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

I know, who'd'a guessed it -- a cat is fascinated by yarn! But he really does drive me nuts sometimes, especially when he gets a running start and dives into my lap to attack whatever it is I'm working on.

He's gotten yelled at enough times that he doesn't do that very often anymore. Now he just sits at my feet staring at the lovely, lovely yarn as it snakes through my fingers and dreaming of the time when I will put it back in the box so he can open the lid and play.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I love my boss

I've been working a temp job since right before Thanksgiving and I have to say, I really like it. (There's talk about hiring me on permanently -- we'll see what happens.)

I told my boss that I've taken up knitting, so she brought me a few skeins of yarn that she found in a thrift store. Cat toy yarn! Whoo-hoo!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Cat Food Blogging

NB_VenCatBagsth, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

Let me tell you about Boris, who we love dearly, but who has been referred to as "The Pukenator" since he was very young.

A couple of months ago, the puking got abruptly worse. Instead of vomiting once or twice a month, he was throwing up three times a day. I got worried enough over a weekend that I insisted that we bring him in to the (incredibly expensive) emergency room at Animal Specialty Group. He was dehydrated enough that he ended up spending one night there and one night at our regular vet's office before we were able to bring him home.

But he kept puking. So we took him back to the vet and spent another $1,000 getting him an endoscopy to see what was wrong. Turns out Boris has feline inflammatory bowel disease, which is more of an annoyance than anything else unless it goes to long, in which case it can turn into cancer. Which freaked us the fuck out, because Natasha died of cancer only a year ago.

There really isn't any reliable treatment for it, other than putting the cat on steroids. The vet suggested that we might want to consider putting him on a "novel protein," basically a form of protein that he wouldn't have encountered before so he wouldn't have an allergy to it.

We were putting it off, but then we found out that Science Diet (which was what he was getting) was one of the brands that had been recalled. Yes, he was getting the hard food, and only canned food was being recalled, but it finally made it worth it to me to switch him to a new food.

It seems to be going okay -- he's definitely enthusiastic about the change, which may be why he threw up a little bit this morning. But we'll give him some fluids tonight and keep going on the switch.

So if you ever wondered what Dick Van Patten has been doing with his life lately, I can tell you: he's making cat food for cats with allergies.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Demon Spawn Kitty

IMG_1757, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

You will notice that I have a lovely cast-on, but the yarn has somehow become detached from the needles. Let me explain ...

So I'm sitting around the other day and look over and Keaton comes trotting over with something in his mouth. I suddenly realize it's my circular knitting needles, which I have finally managed to cast on without it being too tight.

He actually chewed through the yarn and took the needles out of my knitting bag, which I had foolishly left open.

I ended up frogging it and buying new yarn to make this goddamned hat with, because the wool/soy silk yarn I was trying to use was just too much of a pain for this project. Circular knitting sucks!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Squid Phone Case - version 1.0

Squid Phone Case, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

Here's my squid-shaped cell phone case, about 3/4ths of the way done. I still have to knit down the flap to the point where I want the eyes to be (probably about 3/4ths of the way through that hot pink section), make the buttonholes, and sew on the buttons for the eyes.

I have to say, this was often a pain in the butt to work on, and I messed up many times (note that my squidlet only has 4 tentacles instead of 6), but it was still a lot of fun to make and I learned a lot. I'll probably make a second one another time and see if I can figure it out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Catblogging: Keaton and Boris, Sittin' in a Tree ...

UPDATED: Blogger somehow managed to delete a picture from my computer when I uploaded it to use here. So I'm not going to be uploading to them until they figure out what the hell is going on.

Keaton cleaning Boris, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

A year ago, we lost our younger cat, Natasha, to breast cancer. Yes, cats get breast cancer, and it's extremely nasty. It's much more common in cats that are unspayed or spayed late (as Natasha was). Yet another reason to spay your cat, as if you needed another one.

Boris, who's now 14, became very mopey and clingy, so we found him a kitten to play with -- Keaton. Boris was, to say the least, not terribly thrilled at first, especially when Keaton gave him a cold. But Keaton decided from Day One that Boris was his best friend in the whole world and he wasn't going to let Boris pretend otherwise. Slowly but surely, he won Boris over.

This picture is of one of Keaton's biggest victories: he's grooming Boris. Boris would never groom Natasha, or let her groom him, but Keaton just pins him down despite his protests and starts licking his head. Now Boris is a very well-groomed senior cat.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The iPod Case

Well, I wasn't happy with the way my keyhole scarf turned out, but I'm pretty darn happy with my iPod case. I made it out of leftover yarn from the Jester scarf. If I ever do get around to making a skinny-scarf version of the Jester, I'm going to use a little of that yarn to put some fringe on the iPod case. Maybe even a strap, but I've gotta think about that -- the wool seems a little too stretchy to handle that well.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Catblogging: Keaton Loves My Purse

Keaton Loves My Purse, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

I'm having a hard time typing this because Keaton has decided to stand directly in front of the monitor so he can admire his picture. He's very vain.

We're constantly surprised at what a big boy he's become from the scrawny kitten we adopted back in August. He's a little wild, but we love him anyway.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The scarf from Hell

This scarf is pretty much a textbook of beginner's mistakes:

- I forgot to count the number of rows I did of the Fun Fur at the beginning, so I had to guess at how long to make the other end ... and I guessed wrong. (Why didn't I count them? Have you ever freakin' tried to count rows of freakin' Fun Fur?) I'm hoping that once I fluff it out, the problem will be less obvious.

- I used needles that were too big for the Lion Brand Suede that I used for the main body of the scarf, so it's much looser than I wanted it to be. Remember, kids, if the yarn says to use a 9 and you use an 11, this is what you'll end up with.

- I dropped a stitch (actually, I was CONSTANTLY dropping stitches, though I caught most of them) in the second part of the Fun Fur and only discovered it after I had cast off. I faked it up and tied it off to some neighboring stitches, so hopefully it won't come loose.

- I somehow kept adding stitches by mistake when I was using the Fun Fur because it was so hard to see what was the yarn (the tiny thread part) and what was just a big clump of fur. And this is supposed to be easy to use for beginners? Yeah, right.

The keyhole turned out pretty much okay. I'll probably need to reinforce it. Still, this whole stupid scarf was the project from Hell, but I was just too stubborn to frog it and start over.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My poor deformed squidlet

It turns out that I read the instructions wrong, and now my poor squid-shaped cell phone case only has two tentacles on the first row instead of four. Poor little guy is a mutant squid.

I'm going to finish what I have just out of sheer stubbornness, and then I'll try it again now that I understand better what the pattern actually means.

Learning curve, I guess.

Monday, March 05, 2007

What to make next ...

Hmm. I finally got to the point where I can make the keyhole part of my ribbed keyhole scarf, so I'm almost done with that. The cell phone case is going to take a little while longer, but I feel like I've made pretty good progress with that.

But I'm going to my knitting class tonight and I can't really work on my keyhole scarf there because it's an outside project. So the question becomes ... what to make next? The ABC Hat? The Connemara Scarf for my husband?

Decisions, decisions. I guess it'll depend on what yarn I like at the store tonight.

UPDATE: It turned out they didn't have the Debbie Bliss yarn I wanted for G's scarf, so it was the ABC hat after all.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

My Old Job

There's something satisfying about finding out that someone who only met your old boss once took an instant dislike to him and now refers to your old boss as "Schmuck Boy."

That's all.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Swag from Joann Fabrics

Swag from Joann Fabrics, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

So here's what I got for under $50, with only three items not on sale:

- Solutions box for small items (crochet hooks, buttons, darning needles, etc.)
- T-Pins, for blocking
- Circular #6 knitting needles, 20"
- Circular #7 knitting needles, 29"
- Darning needle set from Clover (comes with a cool little storage tube)
- Straight #5 knitting needles, 13" long
- Straight #6 knitting needles, 13" long
- Straight #7 knitting needles, 9" long
- 2 wooden buttons (so I can use 1 to finish the iPod case)
- Set of 3 crochet hooks (G, H, & J)
- Double-point #3 needles
- Double-point #6 needles

Not pictured -- a "Cow Tail" candy, which I think may be a really long, skinny piece of caramel. At 39 cents and 110 calories, I figured it was worth a try.

So now I'm fully prepared for my next four or five projects, except for yarn.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm So Pathetic

I've been sitting at my desk at work all morning trying to get through the morning so I can run over to Joann Fabrics and get 40% off all of their knitting needles. Plus I've fallen in love with some amazing yarn from Fabulous Yarn and am seriously contemplating spending $70 on it.

Addiction is a sad, sad thing.

Friday Catblogging

Keaton and His Nemesis, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

The Friday Random Ten always exposes my extreme lack of taste in music, so I'll go with Friday Catblogging instead. Here's Keaton finally being allowed to play with the completed Jester scarf, which was his mortal enemy the entire time I was making it.

Yeah, I know -- cats and yarn, the classic combination. It's still annoying when he insists on jumping into my lap and trying to eat the knitting needles.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Confessions of a Yarn Snob

This recent knitting binge isn't the first one I've ever tried. I've attempted to learn it, on and off, ever since high school (which was, um, longer ago than I care to admit). That's not even counting my brief, sad flirtations with crochet, all of which ended up with triangular swatches.

But I discovered something interesting this time around -- it's a lot easier to knit with expensive yarn than it is with cheap yarn, which is what I used every other time I tried to learn to knit.

Cheap yarn sucks. It doesn't stretch, it feels rough in your hands, and it's hard to see what the pattern is that you're making. It's not fun. And what's the point of working with something that's not fun?

The Jester Scarf was a joy to make, because the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky that I used was so easy to work with, even as a rank beginner. It was soft and stretchy, very forgiving but shows the pattern off in a really amazing way. Even the iPod case I made with some of the leftovers looks great.

Right now, I'm working on a keyhole scarf with some Lion Brand Lion Suede acrylic yarn that I bought at Joann's, and I just don't like it. It's hard to work with, it doesn't give, and my pattern is looking pretty weird because when it stretches, it doesn't bounce back.

Yes, I'm only on my third knitting project, and I have already become a yarn snob. Natural fibers only for me, thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Jester Scarf

IMG_1679.JPG, originally uploaded by Mnemosyne_LA.

I'm not sure why I'm calling this my Jester Scarf -- I think it's the colors. I took some knitting lessons at Sit n Stitch, a needlework store near me, and the instructor came up with this simple pattern that has a really cool raised effect in the middle.

It's basically:

Cast on 30 stitches
Knit (garter stitch) 6 rows
7th (and all other odd rows): K5, P20, K5
8th (and all other even rows): K30
Continue until you get the length that you want, changing colors as you please. (Yes, the stripes are uneven on purpose.)
When you get about an inch from the end, knit (garter stitch) the last 6 rows. Cast off, block, and fringe as you please.

I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky, which turned out to be $16 per skein. Yes, I am apparently a yarn whore. I didn't think to save the labels, so I'm not sure exactly what colors they are. The flash blew them out a little: the purple and red are a little darker in person, and the green is a little softer.

Overall, a good first effort, IMHO!


Okay. Clearly, I'm not cut out to be a political blogger. I don't have the patience to sift through the web and find interesting stories.

So while I may end up going off on my little political rants occasionally, I think this is going to turn into more of a "day in the life" sort of blog. Pictures of cats, lists of the knitting projects I'm working on, stuff like that.

Hopefully that means I'll get around to posting more than once every two years.