Monday, December 27, 2010

Almost done with the Bead Embroidery Bracelet

This is one of those (hundreds of) projects that got started, and then put away and forgotten when other new projects presented themselves. I got about half of the stitching done last July, and, to be honest, burned myself out on it - the stitching goes on, and on, and on, and it feels like it is just never going to fill in.

But I picked it up on Saturday, and stitched all day long, and still felt like I was no closer to being finished, and at the end of the day I was tempted to just put all the beads away (it took almost 45 minutes to get the project set up!), but I knew that was part of the issue: when a project is such a pain to set up, it is much easier to avoid digging into it and trudging on. So I left it set up Saturday night, and there it was staring at me on Sunday, so I kept my promise to myself to work on nothing else until it was done.

I dragged my feet, though, and busied myself with other stuff (like snow! With the dogs!) and computer business, and finally started stitching around 1PM yesterday. And started to see the light at the end of the tunnel around 9PM, and actually stitched the last bead just a few minutes before midnight.

And packed up the whole thing to tote back to the shop, where I will hopefully be able to attach it to its frame and finish the edging this coming week.

This is my set-up as I started on Saturday morning - you can see the bracelet in the upper left, just as I pulled it out of the bag after putting it away back in July - less than half done, but enough of the pattern established that I had something to go on, but I also was somewhat limited by this, because, as beaders know, your stitching style and taste evolves and changes with time, so I had to go back and try hard to replicate what I had done back in July, because there was no way I was taking any stitches out!

I hope I have a finished picture of the bracelet to post before next July!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jen's Pind Linkage (JPL)

JPL (Jen's Pind Linkage) is one of my favorite chainmaille weaves. It yields such a nice, tight, spiral weave, and in my opinion works well whether done in one color, multiple colors, round rings, square (wire) rings, and more.

In this photo, you can see 3 very different JPLs I have done:

The top chain was made with 16g gold-filled (round) rings, the middle one with 18g bronze rings cut from square wire, and the bottom one is a tricolor chain in 20g rings (copper, gold-filled, and sterling),

This is another photo of the 20g tricolor JPL:

I enjoy working with color so much that I made another 20g tricolor JPL to compliment the chain-bezelled raku cabochon now available in my Etsy shop.

I chose turquoise, blue, and burgundy rings for this chain; they pull out the gorgeous colors in the raku cab.

Here's a guided tour of the creation of the 18g bronze square JPL:

Getting started: big pile of rings, and a clasp.

The weave is established, and now I just have to keep it going until I reach the finished length:

Halfway done!


Detail of finished weave:

I believe this square version of the JPL would make a great bracelet for a man - particularly if stepped up to 16g square rings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cold Connections Studio Day

We took the summer off as far as our monthly cold connections studio days, and today was our first day back in about 6 months. We have a terrific, cozy, compatible group who try to get together monthly, and make fabulous cold connections creations, and we all help each other out, and share ideas and tips. It's a lot of fun, and I have really missed it.

Today was a terrifically productive day for me - the ideas were flowing, and I completed 5 projects, and didn't leave anything halfway done, waiting for next time.

I started the morning by tackling the project I dreaded the most: I needed 2 more of these intricate copper flowers that I have used before in necklaces; this time, I wanted them to go on either side of an elaborate, colorful Dutch spiral woven necklace that I finished stitching over 2 years ago, and have just been waiting for the perfect way to finish. (And Yes, I am counting these 2 copper flowers as 2 cold connections projects, because they are a giant pain to make!) This particular Dutch spiral is very fat, and I didn't have enough of the pearls to make a full-length necklace, so my plan is to use the copper flowers to accent each end of the spiral, and then hook into the back of them with chain to finish the necklace.

The liver of sulfur patina turned the flowers almost the same color bronze as the seed beads in the spiral, and I chose 8mm round Sapphire Satin Swarovski crystals as the center of each flower, to bring out the blue in the spiral. It feels great to be clearing out the backlog of partially finished projects I have stored up! 1 down, 725 to go!!

Next, I created this copper pendant, which is acid-etched for texture, fold-formed for more texture, then cut in a crescent shape, with the top portion given a rich blue patina, and then reattached to the copper section with twisted sterling silver jumprings. A hammered sterling silver bail was then wired to the pendant, and all that awaits is the attachment of 2 sterling jumprings to the ends of the bail, and the addition of chain. I have some blue-patinaed copper chain which I plan to mix with some sterling chain to finish this necklace.

Then I moved on to this beaded, fold-formed copper pendant:

This was a lot of fun, probably because I love designing free-form jewelry. I used a couple of different shapes of blue Picasso Czech glass in this piece, and hung it from copper chain, and hope to get it up on Etsy in a couple of days.

I still had an hour to go, so I moved on to a project that the other girls had worked on earlier this morning - these great wine-cork pendants, which could also work as key chains. There are so many different ways to embellish these corks; everyone's looked completely different today.

I used a mixture of copper and stainless steel washers which I texturized with a hammer, a big sponge coral rondelle, a copper bead cap, and wrapped it all together with 16g sterling silver wire. It would definitely be sturdy enough to function as a key ring, but I plan to hang this one from a chain.  

Fun day! I feel so productive!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You know you are a bad, bad blogger when...

... it has been so long since your last post that you no longer remember your password. Geez.

But anyway....

I have been busy, busy; I have been on a real creative spurt since my last, and jumping from medium to medium, occasionally combining media, and have started a number of different projects, and actually finished all but 2 of them! So here's a run down of what's been going on:

I have been playing around with different color combinations, as well as different metals, in this variation of the Byzantine chainmaille weave:

This pattern is fun, easy, and so versatile, and was attracting a lot of attention in the shop, so I actually put it on the class schedule, and taught it for the first time today. I spent almost all day coiling, cutting, and tumbling rings on Thursday - I figure I cut over 2000 rings! We had a good turn out for the class, and the students chose some beautiful color combos, and everyone had a great time.

Beadweaving is one of my first loves, and it had been over a year since I did any beadweaving (other than teaching, so I was so excited to get this project started. I had all the beads picked out, and all last weekend to play with them, so I started by sketching out a crude road map, and began by stitching the clasp: I added a row of picot to the Vintaj brass ring, and stitched the bar in peyote.

I was basically designing the whole necklace around those juicy 8mm top-drilled topaz Swarovski crystals - I turned them into a ripe cluster at the front of the necklace, and then used the spiral stitch and some Vintaj chain to finish the piece. Lots of fun! Nice earthy Fall colors, too. And it's available in my Etsy shop!

But I wasn't done yet - I still had time last weekend to make this chainmaille necklace and bracelet, in navy blue and sterling silver. I love this particular weave!

I was able to snatch up this gorgeous cabochon from MAKUstudio, and while there are a lot of ways to turn a cabochon into jewelry, I really wanted to make a chainmaille bezel for this one, so I pulled the copper, burgundy, and blues from the cab with the rings,
but decided the end result was too "hard" looking, so I decided to soften it by weaving seafoam green eyelash yarn into the chainmaille, and I just love the organic look that resulted. I finished the necklace with a small, tricolored Jen's Pind Linkage chain, again pulling the colors from the cab.

Check out MAKUstudio's shop - you won't be sorry! She is a tremendously talented lady!

I had enough rings left over from the chain to make this pair of shoulder-dusting dangle earrings - and the necklace and earrings are available (separately) in my Etsy shop, too!

I was determined to teach myself the dragonscale chainmaille weave, and found several free tutorials online, and also had a pattern from an old magazine - Step-by-Step Wire, maybe - not sure. But between the 3 sets of instructions I had, I figured I was good to go.

The instructions recommended making the bracelet in 2 colors, one for the small rings, and one for the large rings, so that you could more easily see what goes where - but I didn't WANT a 2-color dragonscale bracelet; I wanted a multicolor one in blues, greens, pinks, and purple, so I spent hours figuring out how many rings of each size and color I would need, spent half a day coiling and cutting them, and got down to business.

It took several hours to get the hang of the pattern, but I finally got going, and then it just took several days to weave it up - there are a LOT of rings in this bracelet!

Love the result, and it is definitely a keeper!

And while all this was going on, I received a custom order: the lady wanted 10 pink bracelets for her coworkers, and she wanted all of them to be different, and while they were for breast cancer awareness, she didn't want any pink ribbon stuff -

So these were the 10 complete bracelets, and she was delighted, and wants to get more.

I also started 2 other projects - a  beadwoven lariat, and a purple kumihimo lariat (I am on a real lariat kick lately). These are both more than halfway done, and my plan is to finish them this weekend (MY weekend is Sunday and Monday) and then get started on a bracelet pattern I purchased from SandFibers. I want to be able to get the pattern stitched up, and then start teaching it at my shop as soon as possible. So I see a busy 2 days in my future!

But tonight is "sit with your feet kicked up" night, which is actually pretty hard for me - I like to be doing something with my hands, but this week has kicked my butt! But as you can see, I am not doing a very good job of not doing anything, because here I sit blogging - so I am done now, and am going to watch a little TV.

PS - Gumball and I popped into the vet's office to check on his weight, and he has gained 1.5 pounds! He now weighs 12 lbs, and only has to gain 2 more pounds to no longer be considered underweight. But 2 lbs is a lot, when you only weight 12 lbs - that's almost 20% of his current bodyweight, right?
This is my little sweetie right now - lying on Bailey's big bed, which he has claimed as his own, snoring after snarfing down his dinner!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm currently seeing a sadist....

I saw the orthopedic surgeon (AKA THHS) for another regularly scheduled post-op check last Monday (8/30). He continues to be dismayed and apologetic about the slowness with which my voice is recovering. But he DOES agree with me that there is no reason to return to the ENT for periodic laryngoscopy until I have passed the pre-determined maximum date by which this "temporary" issue should be resolved. Which reminds me, I have an ENT appointment to cancel....

But anyway, the orthopod was trying to send me on my merry way, with instructions to return in 6 months or something, when I finally managed to get his attention and ask if he would refer me to Physical Therapy, because of the persistent spasm I have had in my right neck and shoulder ever since even before the surgery, though it is much worse since the surgery.  And he was more than willing - filled out the orders, and I actually managed to get in to see the therapist THAT VERY DAY for my initial evaluation and therapy.

And may I just say (as I told her on my 2nd visit) she is mean and evil. And I am pretty sure she graduated from the Marquis de Sade Physical Therapy Institute. I have had 3 visits as of this morning, and am doing all my home exercises, and am actually in more pain than when I started PT. But she says it is a process, and we need to give it 2 more weeks.

The surgeon also said that if things didn't improve within 2-4 weeks of PT, that he wanted me to get more epidural steroid injections. Whatever - I am game. Just make it stop spasming!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gumball is something else!

My little Gumball is such a handful! He continues to thrive, even though he has lost 2 ounces since I found hiim (he needs to gain 4 pounds according to the Vet.) He initially gained 4 ounces over the first 2 weeks, but in the 3 weeks before our second appt, he lost 6 ounces. And I don't know how, since he eats like a little pig!
He continues to get stronger everyday, and manifests more and more personality.

We were on vacation in the mountains last week, and he had a great time roaming around my friends' steep mountain property, taking in the cooler mountain air. And because there were a total of 4 dogs in the house that week (Bailey & Gumball, plus my friends 2 dogs, Tai and Nummy), we had to go to extraordinary measures to ensure he got to eat his meals without the other dogs poaching them.

It still takes him about an hour to eat one meal (what with having no teeth, and no bottom jaw), so sometimes I would feed him in the guest bedroom behind closed doors, and I would kill time reading, or reading e-mail. Other times, Kathy would take him into her office to feed him while she worked on the computer - the only problem with this scenario was that she has a glass door on her office, so the other 3 dogs would line up at the door and show their intense annoyance at Gumball's special treatment; Nummy would whine, Tai would scratch the door, and Bailey would just pant and stare.

So now that we are home, Gumball has decided that he will ONLY eat when he is in the same room with me, which has really made me look for ways to maximize time-management. He used to eat his breakfast slowly in the kitchen while I locked Bailey in the bathroom with me, and I showered, did my hair, makeup, etc - and when I was finally done, he would be moseying upstairs, all full and ready for the day at work. And he would eat his supper in the kitchen while I kept Bailey upstairs in the bedroom with me, and I could work on the computer. NOW, I can't even feed Gumball in the bathroom while I shower - because if he cannot SEE me, it evidently doesn't count - so every morning this week he has ultimately only eaten part of his breakfast by the time we need to go to work, and I just take the leftovers to work, and feed them to him once we get there.

This lovely 2 day weekend has been much easier, because he is eating his meals in the bedroom while I do whatever I want, and Bailey carefully watches from the bed, waiting to pounce on the bowl if Gumball should walk away from it.

But Bailey is actualy learning, and he really understands now that he can't clean up Gumball's leftovers until I say so. And he is being a very good brother, even if it IS unintentional, for the most part.

Gumball is very hard of hearing, but he uses Bailey as a hearing-eye dog - and when he senses Bailey moving around at night or other times (whether through Bailey's thundering vibrations on the floor, or because Bailey walks close enough by Gumball's bed that he nudges Gumball), Gumball knows that I am probably up and moving, and he gets up to check things out - and he is usually right, it is bathroom time, or meal time, or something is up!

And this is the new thing Gumball started yesterday - he gets up and walks around to tell me that he wants to go out (which he has always done), and now he goes out the backdoor and off the porch and does all his business without me having to escort him. This is so much nicer for me - no more fire ant fiascos! And it shows that he is trusting the environment here, so that's good. But yesterday, after he did all his business, he wandered around the yard until he found the perfect spot in the sun, and he just plopped down for a sunbath. This was a first! His former routine was to dash back to the house as soon as he was done.

Later yesterday afternoon, I was walking around the backyard with both dogs, and Gumball started circling around a spot where he clearly intended to lie down in the sun again, and I walked toward him and stuck out my foot to stop him, because he was going to end up in one of the fireant beds I had coated in pesticide, and I just wanted to move him a few feet away. I certainly wasn't going to kick him; I wasn't even going to touch him - I was just using my foot as a roadblock (he is so tiny, I didn't want to bend over, because I am so lazy! Why bend over when I can just direct traffic with my big foot?) But he yelped and jumped backwards about 3 feet when my foot was still 12 inches away from him, so I feel like it is very likely he has been abused in the past.

Today he is still refusing to eat unless I am in plain sight, and he has just come back from him morning sunbath. Bailey even stayed out in the yard with him while Gumball lay in the sun, only Bailey chose a nice shady spot, because it is already 90 degrees out there!

I am glad Gumball is getting stronger, and more independent, but I cannot get over how much he has altered my routine - I have a hard time finding time for blogging and other computer work, let alone time to create!
And he's no cuddly lap dog, but he's happy, and it sure is funny to watch him do his little "I'm hungry" dance - it reminds me of the old Little Friskies commercials (I think it was Little Friskies, anyway, and am too lazy to look it up) where the cat did the cha-cha-cha while his Little Friskies was being prepared, only Gumball hops from foot to foot, and turns around, and jumps up in the air - it's a hoot!
And I found out the secret of how Gumball's bed kept getting moved while we were up in the mountains - everyone up there was blaming everyone else - Kathy said John did it, John said I did it, I said Gumball was doing it, Kathy and John both said Bailey was doing it - but no one ever saw it happen. We would just come home in the evening, and Gumball's bed would be 10 to 20 feet away from where we had left it - sometimes in a completely different room!

Last night, while I was watching TV and doing chainmaille, I heard Gumball "digging" in his bed - he has always done this, sort of his version of turning around 3 times before he lies down, only he would take both his front legs, and stand halfway in the cut-out "door" of the bed, and just dig at the cushion with his nails, like he was trying to make a nest. But I crept to the edge of the bed to watch without him seeing me, and he was actually using that digging motion to drag the entire bed to a new spot. Last night he moved it 3 feet away from where it had been (and consequently into the middle of the floor), and then got in it and went to sleep.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I just returned from a week at William Holland Lapidary School, where I took my first Silver class.

So. Much. Fun!!

Had a great teacher (Hi, Bill!), and completed 4 projects, and have 2 partially done.

The class was structured such that we had lecture Sunday night for a couple of hours, and then started work bright and early Monday morning. There were 2 mandatory projects, and once we successfully completed those, we could move on to an independent project of our own design.

This bangle bracelet was our 1st mandatory project, and was a great teaching project and a good choice for a 1st project, because while it taught us a lot of metalwork techniques, believe it or not, this gorgeous bangle required only 1 solder! So we spent a long time prepping the piece - twisting the wire, hammering it, etc - and then got it set up for the solder, and although the teacher had demo'd it for us at his workstation, since it was each student's 1st time soldering, we were all a little nervous and unsure, so we would call him over to our workstations when we were ready, and then he would help each of us individually.

And it is a truly stunning bracelet!

The next mandatory project was a ring - the teacher had many cabochons to choose from, or we could use our own. I had taken a few with me, but once I saw this turquoise cab (made by my Silver teacher, who clearly has talents extending far beyond Silversmithing), I heard it calling my name, and decided to use it for my ring.

The ring was a very difficult project; many, many solder joins, as well as the other metalworking skills required to create it.

It took me most of 3 days to finish the ring, although I was able to jump around and work on my other 2 projects while I was waiting for equipment, or otherwise needing to wait before proceeding with another step on the ring. So it actually probably took only a total of a day and a half to finish the ring, not counting the interruptions and waiting.

And after making all these solders, and having the ring actually fit, and the stone stay in its setting, I had a lot more confidence in my abilities, too! And I later learned that my ring would have been a whole lot easier to do if I had chosen a cab with even dimensions, instead of this irregularly cut one - but I always go for the asymmetric stuff!

Getting these decorative balls in the shank of the ring was a pain!

Back view of the ring, showing my blatant rookie mistake: the back of the ring had to be stamped "sterling" before the shank was soldered on, and I placed the stamp in such a position that the solder flowed right over the "ster" in "sterling". So I guess my ring is just "ling"?

This was a project we were shown to use up the excess wire left over from the bangle; I only had enough excess to make a small pinkie ring!

And this is my big masterpiece - I am so pleased with the way it turned out. I used my own dichroic glass cabs, and designed this pendant to hang from an Omega or from a hard collar, and with a lot of direction from the teacher, it all came together very nicely!

I also started a 2nd pendant, and reticulated the silver links for a bracelet, but I couldn't finish either before I had to leave. And it will be awhile before I can finish either of them, because silversmithing is expensive! I want to order all the tools and equipment (not to mention, silver) that I need to start doing it right away, but lack the necessary fundage.

But hopefully my pal MAK (aka Glenda the Good Witch) will perfect the spell she is working on for me, and I will soon have money growing on trees, or something like that.

A girl can hope, anyway....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Neurapraxia & Paresis, or Why I Still Can't Talk

Remember back to before I found Gumball, and I had to have neck surgery, and I was left horrifically disfigured (according to Rosie Perez), and then the doctor got concerned about my persistent hoarseness, and referred me to the ENT?

Well, I finally got the appointment with the ENT, and boy, did I have fun! A week before my appt, they sent me an eight-page history form to fill out, as if I was signing up to receive a lifetime of ENT care from this dude - I absolutely cannot believe the unbelievable lengths they went to to ask me all sorts of absolutely, positively, irrelevant questions, for someone being referred for a post-op complication. But I filled it out.

So then I get there, and they want my picture for their electronic medical record (this, right after they photocopied my driver's license to insure I wasn't committing insurance fraud). So I refused - which I'm guessing from the look on the clerk's face NO ONE has ever done before - but could she not see?: I am horrifically disfigured - just ask Rosie Perez!

So, after waiting 30 more minutes, they finally called me back, and demanded that I step on the scale - again, totally irrelevant to the reason of my visit. Then the tech starts going through the 8-page history with me, because poor girl has to enter it into the electronic medical record (EMR), and she doesn't understand any of the big words I used! So sorry, little untrained technician, that I called my hernia repair a "herniorrhapy", etc, etc - because this part took another 30 minutes. (And the ENT really didn't need to know about my hernia, or my hemorrhoids, or my hysterectomy. Good grief.)

So tech girl finally finishes, and tells me not to worry, because my surgeon refers "tons" of people to this ENT for this very problem. HOLD THE PHONE - he told me I was only the 3rd one in all his years of having performed the surgery to ever develop the problem in the first place, and now there are "tons"?!?!
So I gave her my MOST sarcastic voice, and said, "My, THAT'S reassuring."

Then the ENT arrives (with tech girl in tow), so I took that opportunity to ask about the tons of referrals he's allegedly receiving from my surgeon for this "unusual complication". And he repeated the stats from MY surgeon - that I was only one of three. I bet tech girl invites me to her next Christmas Party!

Then he reaches behind himself and grabs a brown bottle with a long nozzle on it, and rolls closer to me and starts to aim the bottle at me, when I pipe up and say, "You DO realize I'm allergic to that". For I knew it was lidocaine, which I am very much allergic to -so much that I had listed it as #1 of my allergies on page 6 of the 8-page history form. So he leans around me to where tech girl is scrolling through my EMR searching for the allergy portion, which she displays, and he stares at it like it was some lie I'd pulled out of my ass just to screw up his day. Then he started to interrogate me in this patronizing voice, trying to determine whether in fact I was truly allergic to lidocaine, or maybe just didn't like the taste of it, or what, exactly? Seriously - what do I gain by being allergic to the most commonly used topical anesthetic? But I gave all the correct answers (whew!), and he put the bottle down, and I told him that my other doctors dealt with this by using marcaine or carbocaine, usually.  He says he doesn't have anything except lidocaine.

So he whips out the laryngoscope (basically, just a much shorter version of a colonoscope), and tells me that when he was a resident, he had to perform this procedure on himself numerous times without anesthesia, and it really isn't that bad.

And he passes me a hand mirror, and shows me how to sit so that I can watch the whole thing on TV. Woo-hoo!

And he starts passing the scope up my nose and down my throat, and of course I'm coughing and gagging and tears are streaming out of my left eye, and he is assuring me that all this is normal, and giving me little instructions like "cough," "swallow," etc - in between all my coughing and gagging. And all the time, he is narrating this like it's the "It's a Small World After All" Ride at Disneyworld. "and here on the left you see your normal left vocal cord," etc.  And all the while he is calling out stuff for tech girl to enter into the EMR - sounded like a few big words, too - so no telling what really went in there.

But alas, while I have no vocal cord polyps or nodules, my right vocal cord is about 99% paralyzed. Not 100% - he saw a minute amount of movement. So the technical term for what I have is (extreme) right vocal cord paresis (weakness).

And this paresis is due to intra-operative damage to the right recurrent laryngeal nerve, probably during some cauterization of some bleeding during the surgery.

And then, having given the tour and determined the source of my problems, he removes the scope. And I choked out the words "you DO know I'm a physician, don't you?" Well - seems like in all those 8 pages of history, THAT never came up. So he says "No", and then asks what type of physician I am, and then asks if I have ever seen a laryngoscopy before (yes).

So then he proceeded to outline the 2 possible surgical repairs of this condition (neither of which would be considered until after the normal healing time has expired), and neither of which sounds like fun. In one, I have to go into the hospital for outpatient surgery, and they would pass the endotracheal tube down my throat, and I guess a laryngoscope, and visualize the cords, and then he would inject Restylane (the collagen-like substance that women (mostly) get injected into the wrinkles on their faces) into my poor paretic right vocal cord, thus plumping it up and allowing it to meet the left vocal cord in the midline, so that normal sounds can come out of my throat. There was no discussion of complications, or how often I would have to have this done (I know women who use Restylane have to keep getting the injections in order to keep the look they achieve with it). - no discussion, because it isn't time yet!

Option number 2 is also outpatient surgery - and had a really long name, but basically it involves going into my neck surgically from the front (he thinks he could use my horrific Rosie Perez scar, though, instead of making another horrific scar on my neck) and then inserting a piece of Gortex right next to my poor paretic right vocal cord, thus pushing it over to the midline. Permanently, I guess. Again, no discussion at this time, because I still have lots of healing time on the clock!

The technical term for my condition, in the ENT's professional opinion, is "neurapraxia," "an injury to a nerve that interrupts conduction causing temporary paralysis but not degeneration and that is followed by a complete and rapid recovery" ("rapid" being an extremely relative term). The recurrent laryngeal nerve, according to the ENT, regenerates at a maximum of 1 mm per day, and the damage is approximately 70-80 mm from my vocal cord, so it could be as few as 70 days (from the surgery) until it heals, or it could actually be up to twice as long as that, if I am a slow nerve regenerator. 70 days would be on Sept 2; but that is the best chance scenario. 160 days is December 1.  He wants to see me back for a repeat laryngoscopy (without anesthesia!) on September 13. But here's the deal, if I am still hoarse (even if I am somewhat better) on September 13, he will do the scope again (oh joy) and then tell me that I still have a bunch of healing time left - and set another re-scope date. So I am going to watch this thing, and if I am not 100% back to normal by September 13, I am going to reschedule the scope date again, and again, and again, until it is past December 1, and then he can take another look.

It was really a pretty traumatic procedure for me, and I'm sure he has bills to pay and all, but I cannot see what I personally have to gain from being scoped until the time is up. Plus it ain't free, even though I have insurance! And I will ask to forgo the mm by mm detail of my throat's anatomical structure on the next scope, which should make the procedure last about 25% of the total time it did this time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gumball is Home

We ran ads, put up flyers, left flyers at all the vet offices in the area, and did a few more things, and no one has stepped forward to claim this little guy. Which just dumbfounds me - I wish he could just tell me where he came from, and what he's been through. He is SUCH an angel.

As small as he is, he is able to jump up on most of the furniture - and acts like he has always been a furniture-sitting kind of dog. Certainly, at the very least, he was a well-cared for, inside dog.

After 2 weeks with no responses, I took him to Bailey's regular vet, who did a thorough exam, and agreed with the vet from the animal hospital - he had been well-cared for, lots of money had been spent on his surgeries, and he is in excellent health, other than being underweight.

She (Bailey's vet) estimated, based on his current body weight, that he had been on the run for about 4 months when I rescued him, because he was just over 25% below his normal body weight. And therefore, he needs to gain 4 pounds. Which I could easily gain in one day, but not so with poor Gumball.

She wants to start him on Rimadyl because of his severe arthritis (you can hear the bone-on-bone grinding noise from one of his hind legs/hips when he walks, and his gait just in general is "arthritic") - but Rimadyl is more expensive than I can afford (even though she tried to break it down for me, and told me it was only 46 cents a day). That didn't really change anything because I can do math, and 46 cents a day is still basically $170/year. So I did a little research when I got home, and learned that while dogs canNOT take ibuprofen, they CAN take enteric-coated aspirin, which is also an anti-inflammatory. And they can also take glucosamine chondroitin - and so I started him on both of these, for way less than 46 cents/day. Just started them yesterday, so I don't see any changes yet.

We went straight from the vet to PetSmart, which was having a going-out-of-business sale, and I let him try out a few beds, and he picked his favorite, and so I bought 2; 1 for home, and 1 for work. And we also bought a nice sturdy set of pet stairs, so that he can get up on my bed (and down) without being lifted (and without jumping off the bed, which can't be good for his arthritis). The little guy really doesn't like to be lifted - I'm sure it hurts his arthritis. But he wants to be right by my side.

At home he is fond of claiming Bailey's giant bed - which of course peeves poor Bailey. But Gumball only does this during the day - at night he sleeps in his own new bed.

We get up about every 3 to 4 hours during the night for potty breaks, because he's a small dog, and also an old dog, and just can't comfortably make it through the night without going. He WAS holding it all night when he was sleeping in the crate, but after the 1st week (probably as he was gaining strength) he let me know that he had NO intentions of spending the night in that crate. And since I have to get up myself every 3-4 hours during the night, sadly, I just now have added in throwing on shoes and  taking him downstairs and out into the yard. And then back upstairs again. He is actually walking all this way himself now - I rarely need to carry him, but all this extra activity for ME at night is making it very hard for me to fall back to sleep, so I am basically tired and sleepy all the time.

I see improvements in him everyday, and after the 1st 2 weeks, he has become a regular eating machine.

After the vet told me he needed to gain 4 pounds, I started to feed him much more often, so he's eating what seems like a huge amount of food, with real gravy for even more calories, about every 3 hours. And it seems like the more I feed him, the more he wants - it's gotten to where every time I take him out he comes back in and starts doing the little "feed me" dance in the kitchen, hopping around the spot where his bowl goes while I fix his special food. Another thing that peeves Bailey greatly. (the special food, and the frequent feedings)

The basic routine is eat (which takes almost an hour), then sleep for 3-4 hours, then potty, then eat, etc., etc.

But when we get up in the middle of the night for potty breaks, I am not giving in to his demands for a meal after every potty break - although he is certainly asking for one. I'm going to run him over to the vet in a couple of weeks to check his weight - I sure hope he's gaining. I thought he was BEFORE I took him to my vet, because he was so much more active, and his eyes were brighter, he was more alert, and he looked more filled out than when I had rescued him. But at the vet visit, he had actually LOST almost a whole pound from what he weighed the day I picked him up - do you remember me half-joking awhile back that when they weighed him at the animal hospital he was so flea-infested that I was sure 1 pound of his body weight that day was fleas? 

He sort of reminds me of the "Doomsday Machine" from the classic Star Trek episode of the same name - which was basically just a giant maw that ate everything in its path                                                                                                                                                                          

and even tried to eat the Enterprise!

The only difference (well, maybe not the only one) between Gumball and the Doomsday Machine is that it takes Gumball almost an hour to eat each meal, since he doesn't have any teeth and no lower jaw. He has to work the food into the back of his mouth and down his throat with his tongue, and he makes a big mess, and he may take a long time, but he sure is determined, and he loves eating!

The day before we went to the vet, I had given Bailey a big marrow bone, and Gumball stole it. The vet said that Gumball remembers eating solid food and chewing bones, and that it is OK to let him have the bones (even though he can't chew them), so now he has them, and he licks and licks them, and just has a big old time. And as long as it makes him happy, I'm OK with it.

Of course, Bailey is not pleased with all the bone-stealing, even though I immediately give him another one. Bailey, of course, devours them in a matter of minutes, and I'm sure he doesn't understand how Gumball can just casually spend days savoring one. So Bailey has gotten in the habit of waiting until Gumball gets out of his bed, and then Bailey "sneaks" over and steals the bone. And I can tell every time he's done it, because he sort of ducks his head and tries to hide the fact that he has a huge, re-stolen bone in his mouth.

This is Gumball's favorite spot at the shop - in his bed, staring at me. He spends most of the day there (with frequent meal and potty breaks), but if I have to be up and wandering around, he follows me like a baby duckling, And if the store is full of customers, he gets confused by all the legs, and will start running around trying to find my legs.       

Yesterday was a very busy day at the shop, and so Gumball was excited, and running around trying to keep track of me.  I even left for an hour to run errands and pick up lunch, and when I got back, Gumball wasn't in his bed, and my employee told me he had wandered through the store in a continuous loop the whole time I was gone, looking for me.

I had picked up Chic-Fil-A for lunch, and I went into the backroom to fix Gumball his lunch, so he could be eating while we ate out front, and before I even put his bowl down on the floor, my loyal employee had started hand feeding her chicken nuggets to Gumball - she was breaking them in half, and dropping them in his mouth like a baby bird, and he was in 7th heaven. So then he completely refused to eat his own food, and when her nuggets were gone, he came over to me and started begging for my chicken. Which, naturally, I gave him.

So now we have created a tablefood-begging monster.

And this is my little sweetie sleeping on the job.

After he finishes his meals, he usually sleeps for 3 or 4 hours if we are at home, where there are no interruptions. At the shop, if we are having a slow day he'll sleep that long, and then wake up, go potty, and demand more food. But if a customer comes in, he wakes up, and usually goes over to greet them.

So, it is now too late to make a long story short. But Gumball seems to be thriving, and seems happy, and is here to stay.And Bailey is still jealous and pouty, but is doing much better.

And I need to take this opportunity to give a huge shout-out to Jan from Heartworks. She is a very special lady, and a very talented graphic artist, and she did something incredibly nice for me, and so thoughtful. She'll never understand how touched I was. You guys take a few minutes and check out her beautiful work - and trust me, she can do incredible custom orders!

I apologize for the length of this post, and I feel pretty certain it rambled, and I repeated stuff. I had a really rough night; didn't sleep much at all because of a headache that wouldn't respond to any medications (all of which should have made me sleep) - so between the headache & not sleeping, I can't concentrate well today. I have tried to reread this post for editing purposes, and I can't even concentrate enought to do that - sorry!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A finished project

I finally, finally finished this kumihimo necklace - it is gorgeous, and it was a lot of fun to make, but I am NOT a knitter (not that there was any knitting involved) - it's just that I have always been fascinated with this "eyelash" yarn, so I used 3 different colors of it in this necklace (which contains between 18-20 different fibers altogether) - and I quickly learned that after every single half kumihimo stitch, I had to take the beader's awl and tease out all the eyelashes, or else they ended up woven into the inside of the rope - which pretty much defeated the purpose. So I would do a half stitch, then spend 15 minutes teasing out fibers, and then do another half stitch, etc., etc - After about 2 hours, I would toss the thing down, and would take me a week or 2 to get up the courage to start it again.

Sorry - everything looks yellowish in this picture with the mannequin. She is too large to fit in my photo tent, and the light in the room where she is is terrible (or maybe she has jaundice.....)

This rope is the perfect way to show off this huge lampwork bead that I have owned for almost 3 years, and had NO idea how to use - the rope is thick enough to support it while keeping it from sliding around, yet very lightweight - everything just worked out perfectly in this design.

And sometime over the next couple of days I will try to catch everyone up on Gumball, who is doing well!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Look at Lil' Gumball now

This is Gumball this morning - he is filling out, and his eyes are bright and shiny, and he runs up and down stairs, and jumps up on the furniture. And is housebroken - Yay!

He still sleeps a lot, but not the 23 hours a day he was pulling last week. He eats like it is going out of style, and makes a gigantic mess, since he has no lower jaw: he picks up the food by swirling his tongue at the bowl, and a good bit of it hits the floor. Sometimes HE cleans this up, and sometimes Bailey does.

I am hoping to find a home for him, because he needs a lot more one-on-one love and attention than I can give him everyday - he'd be so perfect for someone retired who wants something to take care of. And he is just a sweet lovey boy.

And if no one steps forward, then I guess he is already home.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just another Sunday - NOT

We slept a little late this AM, and once everyone had had morning pees, and poops, and breakfast, and the little one had had his meds, we all headed upstairs. I was going to start beading, but that was over 4 hours ago, and here I still sit on the computer. You guys know how that goes.

Somehow, the little dog and I made it upstairs before Bailey. The little one, who I have re-named Gumball, because I didn't like Gumbo as a name for him, decided he wanted to sit on the bed, and tried unsuccessfully to jump up there - he had no chance, even in perfect health, to make it, IMO, but he keeps surprising me everyday with his improvements. But I lifted him up, and he ran up towards the pillows, and settled right in.

Bailey soon bounded upstairs (he had been thoroughly checking the kitchen floor for any spillage Gumball might have left, and then thoroughly cleaning it up for me, which takes awhile, because Gumball makes a big mess for a little dog!)

And in case you can't tell from this picture, one of these dogs is happy, and one is giving his very best pout! How DARE I share my bed with another dog.

As it turns out, they were both basically sitting in my way, so I eased onto my spot, and just shifted Gumball a few inches to the right, and Bailey moved himself to the end of the bed, out of my way.

Gumball saw where Bailey had gone, and I think I may have accidentally elbowed Gumball, and he hopped up and headed down to the end of the bed near Bailey. And in case you can't tell, Bailey is now REALLY unhappy. But they both stayed there for a couple of hours, until I decided we might as well take a pee break.

When we came back inside, Gumball, who is now pretty enthusiastically bounding up the stairs, headed straight for Bailey's super-deluxe lambswool bed behind the chair (pay NO attention to all the dog hair and the scuffs on the wall - that is Bailey's interior decorating style) - and he is still there, napping.

He spends a lot of time napping -after all, he is 105 years old in human years!

But all Bailey noticed was MY empty bed, so he hopped right up with his Baby, and chilled out. For awhile - then I accidentally touched him with my foot, which is a big no-no, so he jumped down to get into his bed, and discovered the interloper!

He gave it a little thought, and then headed over to this bed - which used to be his bed before I upgraded to the deluxe.

I hauled it upstairs this morning for Gumball, but Gumball had bigger ideas - and went deluxe.
So this is another patented pouty face from Bailey.

And now Bailey is up and growling at me because he wants to get in his own special bed, and it is occupied. But he is so sweet and so docile that he would never tried to evict Gumball! But he really wants ME to take care of it!