Thursday, February 22, 2007

Three words you don't want to hear


Mellie had her ultrasound appointment yesterday at the Veterinary Referral Center in Malvern, Pa. They were very nice, and gave us the results right away. She has a gastric tumor, inoperable, and the prognosis from chemo is "pessimistic." The report talks about "lymphadic invasion" and "lymph node metastasis." Since making her ultrasound appointment I've been trying to prepare for the worst. Can you ever be prepared?

We see our family vet tomorrow, but have already made the decision not to put her through drastic treatments with little or no chance of success. She will be happy and comfortable as long as we can make her so, and when she takes a turn we will know what to do. Sounds like I am cool and confident and in control, doesn't it?

I'm not.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Blankie Update Friday

Yes, I finally have progress to report on the Mitred Square Blankie: six squares. That might not seem like much, but it's a whole lot more than I have been doing for the past month or so. Since the progress is just one step above pitiful, I couldn't shoot it laying on the floor so you could see the whole thing as though I took pride in this week's work. No indeed. Instead, here is Emma (a.k.a. Memmie, Schmemmie, Mimi, or "Stop jumping on Grammie") laying on the sofa, saying "Look at the pretty blankie I am wearing." Either that, or "Get this freaking thing off me." One or the other....I'm not sure which.

The reason I did some blankie knitting? It was a reward for finally, finally assembling the pink sweater and bonnet. The fact that it is for a baby shower next weekend was a bit of an incentive. Yes, I am also making a matching blanket, but we'll be lucky if it is done by the time the baby arrives. Especially if I reward myself for small accomplishments by NOT working on the blanket.

Anyway, here is a shot of the sweater and bonnet. I blocked it, and it is drying near the pellet stove. God bless the pellet stove. Without it we would all be freezing our buns this winter. Truly, this is the only warm room in the house.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Beef Stew and Sunbathing at the Museum

Yes, that's right. Beef Stew. I know I have not partaken of animal flesh in many years ("no food with a face", "nothing that had a momma"), but a cold, snowy day somehow seems like the perfect day for a crock pot full of beef stew. Warms the heart, and makes the kitchen smell heavenly. Or it used to, anyway. Today it's tomato soup and string cheese.

I'm off from work today with Mellie - she has not had a good morning, and my boss isn't at work today, we're not open to the public today, and there's nothing pressing to do (or at least nothing any more pressing than usual) and I just can't leave my Mellie. I've taken off so many days the past few weeks for Mellie that Dad said "your hind end would have been out the door if you worked anywhere else." He's probably right, and that is why I stay where I am. My boss understands, her boss understands, and Pat and Elizabeth, who have to pick up the slack when I'm not there, both understand. I'm very lucky and I truly appreciate it.

Speaking of work, I took these photos a few weeks ago and am just now getting around to posting them. I work in a glass museum, and this is the view from the Bottle Room into the courtyard of the museum.

Hey, what's that in the courtyard?

Yes, it's a squirrel sunbathing on one of the glass sculptures in the courtyard.
Mind you, there is no access to the courtyard except through the museum, so the squirrel has to work pretty hard climbing trees, scampering across our roof, and back down some trees in the courtyard just for the pleasure of sunbathing on the glass sculpture. I guess he has earned the rest.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Who cares about a stupid glass when the bowl looks like this:

Yes, that is indeed a very nearly empty bowl. This morning the bowl held a generous portion of ground chicken (sauteed to perfection), some noodles, about 20 dry crunchies, and about a cup of chicken broth, and Mellie ate all but a few little crumbs of it. You may think I'm crazy for being so excited (and I won't deny it) but this is the first time she has cleaned a bowl like this in many, many weeks! Before her stomach issues, a meal wasn't over until the bowl was as clean and shiny as when it came out of the dishwasher.

I saw our Vet last night while picking up meds for Mellie, and was glad that we have an ultrasound appointment on the 21st at the Veterinary Referral Center. He even knows the two doctors we will be seeing. That made me feel a LOT better.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dry Run and High Hopes

Melanie update: She has been doing better the past four days...eating most of her breakfast each day, only refused dinner one day, and has slept through the night every night since Wednesday - hallelujah.

Yesterday we took a dry run to the Veterinary Referral Center in Malvern, Pa. Look at the beautiful building...I expected an emergency/critical care center to look white and sterile and, well, depressing. This place is the exact opposite. Beautiful building, lovely piece of ground, welcoming foyer with marble and tile & such.

We have an appointment for Mellie for an ultrasound on February 21st (the first available time slot) and having never been there, we wanted to see where we were going and make all of our mistakes without a sick dog in the car. It was only 50 miles or so, and took about an hour and 15 minutes, so that's not too bad. (I'd drive straight through the the Mayo Clinic if they would take care of my sweet girl.) They are so nice there. They refer to Mellie by her name, not as "the dog" or "the animal", and they said that she would only be away from us for about 20 minutes while they do the ultrasound. It's non-invasive, will not hurt her in any way, and will give us some much needed, highly anticipated information. Can you tell I'm anxious? If the vet performing the ultrasound suspects "the c-word which I cannot even THINK about let alone speak of", we will be able to meet with an oncologist that same day. Also, to our great relief, within an hour of the ultrasound, our home Vet will have a full report. Ain't computers amazin'!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Zero Squares and a Happy Birthday

Yes, it is Blankie Update Friday, and for yet another week I have no squares to report. But hey, it's only 5:45am - don't give up hope. Who am I kidding. Maybe NEXT Friday.

On the up-side, it is Mom's birthday, and she is [cough, cough, sputter] years old today. Happy Birthday to the best Mum in the world. Love you lots. Especially the way you continue to try and (gently) make me see the practical side of things. It's really very cute.

"I reject your reality and substitute it with my own". I saw this on a t-shirt once, and am considering having it tatooed in bold letters across my forehead.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Scrappy Hat

Yes, I have been working on something besides the Mitred Square Blankie and the Pink Baby set. In my defense, I am running out of yarn for the pink set, and am waiting for an order to arrive, and I simply am not up to making any decisions about which sock yarn to use in which spot for the mitred square blankie. Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway, here is a picture of my sweet Melanie (a.k.a. Mellie, Mellie Vanellie, Smelly Mellie, Miss Grumpus, and Grumpy McCrankypants) modeling the Scrappy Hat (pattern is here) I finished a few days ago.

Mellie is doing OK - we had xrays repeated today, and there is a definite mass at the base of her stomach. Our Vet (super great guy - love him, love him, love him) suggests waiting for a bit and treating her conservatively with meds as the surgery would be intensive/invasive. We have a lot to think about. Not today, though..."I can't think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow." Scarlett O'Hara

Back to knitting (something which I have a smidgen of control over), I used Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks for the hat, 65 stitches on size 7 needles. The next one I will make a bit smaller, I think. Yes, I WILL me making more - it was lots of fun, and who wouldn't like a scrappy hat as a gift? These are the colors I used.

After working on the hat for a bit and doing a color change after three rows, leaving two tails to be woven in per color change, I remembered something I saw on Knitty Gritty about color changes using a Russian something-or-other method. Sorry, my mind is mush and I don't remember the name of it. Anyway, I tried it, adapted it a bit, and came up with the following, which reduces the number of ends to weave in by half. I'm absolutely positive that other knitters (possibly EVERY other knitter) out there has already figured this out, but it was cool for me, and gave me the feeling that I could look at a problem and come up with a solution, and have it work out well, unlike sitting here crying, watching a sick dog and not be able to fix her boo-boo no matter what you do. But I digress...

Step 1, thread a darning needle with the color you would like to add to your knitting. Insert the needle into the core of the yarn for a bit. I would load the needle with about 2 inches work of yarn, but that would depend the yarn you are using, I guess.

Step 2, insert the tail from the previous color into the "noose" you made with the new yarn.

Step 3, pull the needle out of the core of the yarn.

Step 4, smooth out the bunchie-ness, and voila, end is neatly woven into the yarn.

I apologize if this is so basic that you think I am an idiot for being excited about it, let alone taking pictures of it and putting it in my blog.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Wellness Report

Mellie is doing better. She had a great day yesterday, she's doing OK today...much better than Friday. I took a couple of pictures of her for the blog, but she just looked too sad in them, so I'm not posting them. I'll wait until she's feeling better. My sister and I are taking turns staying at home, basically watching Mellie sleep. As long as she's napping, she's comfortable. She took some warm milk & baby cereal this morning, with her pills crushed up in it. She is such a sweetie.

Here is a picture of me holding Mr. Darcy, getting ready for his "special treat" a.k.a. nasty medicine. He really doesn't mind it all that much. It smells like ripe bananas, and once he gets some in his mouth, he sucks it from the eye dropper like a little baby. He is doing much, much better. The wheezing and sneezing has stopped, but we're still giving him his antibiotic twice a day. There's not too much left in the bottle, and I'd rather err on the side of too many days of meds rather than too few.

Here is a family shot of the bunnies. Left to right, it is Sunshine, Little Boy, Mr. Darcy and Momma Bunny.


My niece used to work at a Vets office, and a local shelter brought a rescued rabbit in to the office to be "showcased" to the patients, and hopefully be adopted out. Her ears were a little chewed, and her feet were raw and sore, but she was doing great, and everyone had high hopes that some kind soul would come in and see her and take her home. Well... those hopes were dashed one morning when the bunny (hereafter referred to as "Momma Bunny") was not alone in her cage. There were three tiny additions. You guessed it, Little Boy, Mr. Darcy, and Sunshine. The males were snipped.... fixed.... rendered unable to reproduce.... do you get my drift? NO MORE LITTLE BUNNIES, thank you very much. My niece brought them home, and we ended up with them when she went off to college.

Well, Mellie is still resting comfortably at my feet, so I'm going to post another picture, this time of my nephews. Well, not nephews in the Webster Dictionary definition of the word-- they are the sons of a very good friend, so I'm an honorary Aunt. That's the best kind, though...right? I mean, blood relationships determine "Aunt-ship" and neither you nor the child has any say in the matter. Now an HONORARY Aunt, that's something special. Anyway, here are Zach and Danny wearing sweaters I knit for them from Zoe Mellor's book Adorable Knits for Tots. I switched the colors on the sweater on the cover to make it more boy-ish.

I'm off to work on the Scrappy Hat, and watch Mellie sleep, of course.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Blankie? What Blankie?

Yes, it is Blankie Update Friday, but I have no progress to report.

This week started with a sick rabbit. Mr. Darcy has been wheezing and sneezing. Trying to get a liquid medicine into the right rabbit (there are four rabbits), twice a day, which takes two people to do, and my sister leaves for work before the sun comes up and I (normally) get home from work after the sun goes down... You do the math. He has been surprisingly good about it, though.

On Tuesday I got a call at work from the Nanny (she comes three days a week and walks the dogs at lunch time) that Mellie, my 9 year old Brittany, who has had on-going issues with a sensitive stomach, has had a flare-up. I raced home to get her into the Vet before he closed the office for a week. He's fishing in the Florida Keys this week. It is a long overdue and well deserved vacation for him. He's the best Vet in the world, and I love him and trust him completely.

Wednesday, I went in to work for a few hours, came home to check on Mellie, and she vomited two blood clots. I placed a panicky, tearful call to the Nanny (who also happens to work at the Vet's office - she is his "right hand man", assisting with surgeries, doing xrays, etc.) and she calmed me down. Love her, too! She suggested crushing Mellie's pills and mixing them in a little liquid to make sure they are dissolving and coating her stomach. Mom came over and walked in the door as I was on the phone with the Nanny, so she calmed Emma and Tara until I got off the phone, then calmed me, too. I have the best mom in the world. I am so lucky and love her sooooo much.

Thursday, Mellie was doing much better, had a good night's sleep, but I didn't want to leave her, so I took her to work with me for a couple of hours. That's right - she's my little working girl! I wouldn't have gone in at all, but some work that I was supposed to have had LAST WEEK never arrived, and it was emailed it to me 11pm on Tuesday night, and needed ASAP, of course. That's right, a week late. But she did not provide the required materials - I was supposed to run out and get them. What's that saying... "Lack of preparation on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on my part." Yeah, right. So Mellie and I went off to work, and thanks to Bev for getting the materials and Pat for making thousands of cuts into thick matte board with a big old honking papercutter whose blade is getting very dull, the job was done by 1:oo-ish. Big hugs for Pat and Bev!

That brings us to today. Blankie Update Friday. As good as Mellie was yesterday, she is 10 times worse today. She had a very, very bad night last night, and doesn't want any parts of her crushed up pills, even though I mixed them in warm milk (her favorite) and added a little honey (yummm, tasty). It is 7:00am, and all I can do it sit and watch her.

What little knitting I have gotten done this week has been on the pink baby blanket. As much as I have been frustrated by the endless, repetitive lacy pattern, and the miles and miles of pale pink fingering weight yarn, it has been therapeutic this week to have something that required a little thought, but not too much. I picked up the Mitred Square Blankie once or twice, but choosing the next color to knit was just too much for me. I have trouble making decisions on the best of days, let alone while sitting here watching a sick dog, feeling like I am neglecting the other two, feeling like the worst dog mom in the world because I can't do anything to fix my sweet Mellie.