Too big and too little

Yesterday was our annual trip to the vet with our two ‘big boned’ orange cats, Alf age 14, and Louie age 3. Each of these boys is big enough that they each get their own carrier. At approximately 15 pounds each, they are ‘significant’.

We had a bit of trouble rounding thes two big boys up. They know exactly what those carriers mean: NEEDLES! Alf was put in a carrier first, and Louie second. He just started his chorus of loud cries, but Alf put his effort into escape. Which he did, and took off at a rate of speed that his girth makes should hinder.

Cat #3 is Jesse, 2 years old, small build and sleek, whose appointment doesn’t one up with the others. We could sense him smirking at the other two, but perhaps we read too much into this.

Down the hall and around the corner he went, settling down in the kitchen. He snuggled up against the dishwasher, as best as could. Silence. Perhaps he’d not be found if he could just squeeze under the front edge……

A very large orange cat, on a white floor, trying to squeeze under a stainless steel machine. This may not have a happy ending for Alf. Glenn picked him and slipped him back into the carrier, and turned around to get his wallet. That took just a couple of moments, but that was all that was needed. Ca-ching! The door popped open again.

This time wiley Alf continued down the hall in search of a better hiding place. Sadly, he dashed straight into Glenn’s legs. Back into the carrier once again. This time, Glenn had a small length of black electrical wire, just enough to secure the kitty.

We arrived at the vet’s office about half an hour late. This was not an unusual event for us. We normally try to bring the whole gang at once, even though this can have pit falls of its own! Problem is that appointments on Saturday are scheduled every fifteen minutes, as well as being at a higher billing rate.

So, not surprisingly, we were greeted with somnolent glowers as we staggered into the office with our heavy loads. A quick discussion between the vet and the clerk was had, and we were quickly escorted into the inner office.

After the usual admonishments for having fat cats, we were handed two bags of high protein dry cat food. We could feed them less of this, but they would be more satisfied, because of the protein!

Of course, we are already feeding them a high protein dry food, albeit perhaps more than they should have. So I can sense the next few months are going to be lots of fun with hungry cranky cats!

And then, the tides changed.

“We have just admitted a tiny TINY kitten, who was brought to us before the clinic opened, by some construction workers. Mommy was scared off by the noises of the equipment, but she left behind a wee morsel in someone’s hardhat. “

Would we be able to take this wee kitten, keep him warm and fed, and bring him back next week? They just didn’t have anyone that could take him for the weekend. They kindly offered to show us how to feed the wee beast, but this isn’t our first shot at the kitten game! We have done this many times before, with smaller babies than this one.

My dad always wanted me to name either one of my boys Ozymandius. I laughingly refused, but for a tiny being whose eyes have just barely opened, it seems perfect. BIG name for a wee fellow!

Of course at the rate that he’s plowing back the formula, he may not be wee for long! This evening we need to put our efforts into bathing him, and stimulating his body to uh, pee and poo. Mommy would ordinarily lick him to wake up his output nerves, but we have to simulate this using a warm, damp cloth.

Fingers crossed that this works as well as it did in the days of yore, when we cared for over 400 cats, and a few dogs, until they could be adopted out to their forever homes.


On Wednesday March 27th, I was all prepared for my meeting/appointment with the nurse/practitioner for my neurologist, Dr Dunn, at Stanford. I was in good time for this, so really didn’t need to rush!

It was raining lightly, and the only available parking spot was on the 3rd level down from ground, but at least I got a spot! I have been advised to ALWAYS use my walker, so popping the lid of the trunk was easy. I decided that this was something that was especially wise when the ground is wet.

Everything was ‘falling into place’, no pun intended, so off I went. The rain soon began to pick up, causing me to get increasingly wet, so I picked up my pace. No sooner did I do that, when


I was stunned to find myself face down on the ground. My landing was not graceful, but not a belly flop! My palms stung from being my brake pads, as I tried to make sense of my crash landing. Immediately there were a couple strong looking young men, dressed in black. at my sides, inquiring as to what happened. (I had no idea!) They offered to help me up, as each fellow took an arm and lifted me gently. A third person quickly swiveled my walker back in front of me, and I frantically grabbed for a handle. I thanked my heroes for their help, and headed into the building.

As soon as I began the check in process in, I the tears began to dribble, feeling such a fool! Handing me a tissue, , the clerk said that she would like to give me a ride up to the third floor for my appointment. “No, that’s okay, I’ve got my walker.” I reached for it, but only air greeted my grasping hand. I was already slightly dizzy from the the jostling my brain got in my tumble, so swiveling my head around in search of my walker wasn’t helping. That, and my head was full of grey fuzz for some reason!

‘Someone’ gently grasped my flailing hand, saying “its okay, I’ve just put your walker over her by my desk”. I’ll keep an eye on it for you, while my colleague takes you upstairs.

Tears dribble again, as I close my eyes in resignation. I hear myself thank her, as I’m whisked off to my appointment.

The thought occurs to my slightly addled brain that I’m just playing a part in a carefully choreographed piece……. but reality soon nudges me back, as I hear the clerk tell me that she is placing me in the waiting room, where I can easily hear my name being called. I remember smiling wanly at her…..

“I’ll take you to see Jean Mi now, ”

At once, I am facing Jean Mi. Small thoughts sneak into my mind, this is like a flashback, in a PTSD case…….

“Hello, ordinarily I’d ask how you were, but I already heard.”

“Yeah, dunno what happened, but I made a fool of myself in the parking lot your!”

“But you’re okay? Did you hit head?”

No, but my palms and my torso hurts, so I’ll probably have some interesting bruises in a while. No matter, that’s not why I’m here! Can I please, PLEASE stop taking the Aubagio? Actually, I already did. Damned pills gave me brutal diarrhea!

Yes, there are some issues with this medication that were mentioned by other patients. But that being said, it is still considered to be well tolerated, and very effective in patients with remitting relapsing disease.

At this point, I would like to go off ALL these damned drugs, but she (Jean Mi) would hear none of that. She said that I was far too young for that, and there were lots of options for new meds. Especially, one that was just approved by the FDA last night. It is made by Novartis, the company that makes Gilenya.

At that admission my ears perked up! My beloved Fingolimod, now called Gilenya! I had to go off of this well tolerated drug only months ago. I had been on this drug for many years, from the very beginning of the drug trial, right through all the initialing every corner of the trial paper work. It was felt by my doctors that the combination of my age, and the length of time I was on that drug, made we a risk for PML. That is a big nasty, fatal brain disease that no one every recovers from. So, when I was told to stop taking it, I did as I was told!

Glenn went ahead and contacted our insurance to see how amenable they were to the price of this wonderful new med. Their response was not encouraging: they would not discuss it with him, saying that they preferred to discuss it with my doctor! So, for now, I wait, fingers crossed.

Stay tuned…….

Atmospheric River

Or so says the weatherman! We have been warned that we may get the equivalent of a month’s worth of rain in just twenty four hours! In other words, DELUGE. In preparation, the authorities have drained a ‘significant amount’ out of the local reservoirs in order to forestall the likelihood of overflow.

The birds in my backyard are celebrating the rainfall, as well as the large feeder that I try to keep continuously full. We have a well populated hedge across the back, which acts as an immense green bird condo. I would definitely never consider cutting this monstrous greenery down, despite the constant flow of dead branches it drops I like to think of it as my daily exercise plan, raking these cast offs into piles.

I wish I could share the sound of this storm with you. The moaning of the wind is ominous, and brings to mind how powerless we all are in the face of whatever Mother Nature choses to dish out. California is nice, when it is nice ….. weather wise. At the moment, it is somewhat intimidating, with the threat of flooding and damaging winds. Having lived here for five years, we aren’t that easily intimidated, especially since we experienced lots of scary weather back in Canada. I guess we’re ‘old hat’ when it comes to nasty storms. What with ice storms, tornadoes, and deep freezes, we’ve seen it all.

My exotic collection of backyard birds: little grey dudes

I love my birds. Listening to their incessant chatter cheers me. I like to think that they are constantly conversing about how lucky they are to have a constant reliable food source!

“Now, if we can just get the homeowners to put in fountain, one that is plumbed in so it is constantly being refilled with fresh water. That birdbath is nasty! “

Feeling a bit shaky about this whole thing

Living in a home that was built in 1980 is fine. Living with bathrooms of the same age is NOT fine! We always knew that we’d have to gut and replace both bathrooms, but we had no idea that it would involve such a huge cash outlay for basic bathroom equipment.

The last bathroom contractor that went through our home pointed out that ceramic tiles might not be an ideal choice for the floors,  given California’s well deserved reputation for earth quakes.  He suggested that even a small jiggle could cause cracks.  He felt that linoleum would be a better choice.  Since the array of patterns is quite astounding now, so we could have tile ‘look’ without the worry of damage in a shift.

We hadn’t thought of that possibility, given that we are not native Californians.  But honestly, the only tremors that we have ever FELT were not while living down here, but  in Ottawa, the valley of which also lies on a fault!

Down here, there is the constant worry about THE BIG ONE.  Referring to a monster quake, the seismologists say that we are ‘due for one’ any time now.  We have earthquake insurance, so we are supposedly well protected.

The first quote we got for our bathroom remodeling was for $50,000.  WOW!  And that’s just for labor!  The materials like the new counter and new shower tiles are over and above that.  Since we want a large shower, it will need to be a custom design with all ceramic tiles, and a curb-less design for handicapped accessibility.  This means that the floor will have to be leveled properly, to ensure that the water drains.  I will also require several grab bars, as well as a shower seat.

I wish that I felt complete confidence in the contractors we have interviewed.  My fear is that we sink all this money into this project, and could potentially end up with a mess!

At one point we went to a fairly high end plumbing supply store, and looked at their assortment of products.  We had no problem finding several models that we both really liked, but Glenn felt that these items were fairly pricey as well!  So now what?  I want get things going on this project, especially since last week I fell out of our current Tardis shower stall, and did a face plant onto the floor   OUCH!  I hit my teeth and my nose, and my nose for one is still sensitive.  From the little I recall, I was probably bending over to pick up my shampoo,  The latch on the stall is weak, and wouldn’t stop me from this sort of elegant manoeuver!

Job one has to be the master bath.  Secondary would be the guest bath, especially since I’m still debating about what sort of style I’d like for there.  I know that the freestanding tubs are all the rage right now, but I think that this more specifically refers to the master bathroom.  As far as I am concerned, there will be NO tub in the master bathroom.  Just give me that luscious big shower stall, and I’m good!  I’m still debating about heated floors in the master bathroom, but I fear that would necessitate the verboten ceramic tile flooring!

Winter in California

To be sure, this is NOT winter by the definition that most Canadians would relate to.  This is like at very, very wet spring that I remember from days gone by!  Of course, no smart Californian complains about rain, EVER!  This state is famous for it’s months long droughts, so rain is not only welcomed, it is revered!  I know it must be hard on those suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but luckily I’m not one of them.

After this wet season comes sunshine, and almost simultaneously, HEAT!  I don’t mind postponing that for a while.  Meanwhile, my gardening plans are happily whirling in my mind.  I have ordered a couple plants off of a website, something I hardly ever do!  One is a vine that will make my hordes of birds very happy:  a bittersweet vine, which produces copious clumps of brightly colored berries!

Now all I have to do is figure out where to plant it.  Since our fence that divides our front from our back yards is begging to be on our to do list this year, I can’t plant the vine there.  I could plant it in a pot until the new fence is installed…… but that might jinx our fence rebuild!

Or, I could plant it on the back of our unit, but that would make it lose a lot of the visual value for me!  I love to watch the birds on the various treats we provide in our yard, but the back of the house is of no use to me as far as a viewing standpoint goes!  Perhaps our upcoming master bathroom reconstruction should include an added window on the back, so I could see the feathered appreciation?  Sadly, that budget is already stretching us, so I don’t see that I’d get a lot of support for that idea.

So that decision is on hold for now.  The plant hasn’t arrived yet, so I still have time to wander around the yard and imagine the best placement.


OOPS! I’ve done it again…..

A few days ago, I fell, this time off the end of my driveway!  It’s easy to forget about the little  drop  off that decorates all of the driveways in this park, but if you do, it is at your own peril!

I popped open the trunk in order to retrieve my groceries.  Having pressed the OPEN  button, I instinctively stepped back wards, in order to accommodate the swing of the hatch.  THAT apparently was my most grievous error.

My heels registered the edge of the drop, but my brain did not.  WHAM!  Down I went, not just onto my butt, but the velocity of my tumble pushed me onto my back and head.  Momentarily stunned, it was several seconds before I uttered some coarse descriptors.

Apparently my strenuous verbal offerings drew the attention of  nearby neighbors.  A small clutch of concerned folk rushed over, repeatedly asking me if I was okay.  Within minutes the panel had decided that a call to 911 was warranted.  It seemed to me that within seconds a fire truck appeared!  I was able to explain to the paramedics that I was uninjured, but nevertheless I was assured that an ambulance was on its way.  Again, I protested, saying that I was NOT in need of a hospital, so they reluctantly cancelled the ambulance.  The paramedics handed me a disposable cold pack, in case my head hurt.

After all the assembled folks had wandered off to resume their afternoon duties, I became aware of a quickly increasing bump on the back of my head.  My local friend Cathy immediately contacted her home care worker Albert, who is technically known as a Home Healthcare Aide.  By this time I had made my way back into my house, and was slowly rocking, taking comfort from my legacy of the rocking motion bringing great comfort.

When Albert arrived, he was quite dismayed at the size of my significant bump.  When he gently placed his had over the mass, he was unable to cover it entirely.  He strongly urged me to go to the nearest emergency ward, and get it checked out.  His pleas fell on stubbornly deaf ears.  He departed momentarily in order to fetch a large cold pack from his car.

When exhaustion overcame me, I took on the task of ensuring that the welcome relief from the icy cold pack would not slip off my head as I nodded off.  Truly a feat in pillow engineering, as the smooth plastic case naturally wanted nothing to so with my pointy head.  Eventually I managed, with the help of four pillows to wedge support around this large rectangle of relief, and got some fitful sleep.

Lacey however decided that 530am was a fine time to start nudging me with her wet nose, while uttering her guttural canine complaints.  I struggled into a sitting position, causing me to swoon and swerve.    My body  also realized that it was high time to deal with more pressing matters, so I stood and headed to the bathroom.  THAT is when the entirety of my injuries became crystal.  Two steps forward ended up throwing me headlong into some bags of donated clothing.  At least it softened my landing, but the reality of it sent me into a panic.  I really didn’t have any idea of which way was UP!

My sensible friend Karen called our shared neurologist, Dr Dunn, to bring him up to date on my status.  He immediately insisted that I go straight to the nearest emergency department.  Get in line, I already have several well meaning folks telling me what to do. Through determined negotiation, Karen managed to cross out ’emergency department’ and insert ‘urgent care’.  The reason for this was purely a matter of the wait times for these facilities:  the first will take all comers and usually means wait times of many hours, but the latter is for less dramatic (and time consuming) injuries, with much lower wait times.

A born organizer, Karen told me the time at which she would pick me up for this appointment.  As luck would have it, I was able to get right in to see one of the doctors.  After a quick but thorough exam, she determined that I did not need any of the available scans.  My bump, although much decreased in size, did manage to impress her, as well as the numerous abrasions on my scalp.  She pronounced mine to be a “severe concussion”, and told me what else not to do:  NO extreme sports, like mountain biking, or downhill skiing,  no trampolining or jump rope.  In other words, give your poor old brain a chance to heal its bruises!   No driving your car,  at least for this week.  Your judgement might be slightly off while your brain recuperates!

Well, at least I am blessed to have good friends and neighbors, especially since they all know that Glenn is in China.  Both Albert and Karen have offered rides, and neighbor Craig has offered to take Lacey on her nighttime walks since she gets along beautifully with his dog.  Directly across the street Chris has sternly told me that I am NOT to try taking groceries into my house on my own, that he would be honored to help me out!

WOW.  I had no idea!