Ice Age in the refrigerator

April 21st, 2014, posted in General

My 32-year old refrigerator is dying a sad death. The freezer’s frost is creeping into the refrigerator compartment. There is a six inch frost ledge. A bottle of juice at the back of the top shelf has most of it’s cap covered by frost. I couldn’t easily move it. This frost is also melting and dripping water.

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I spent the better part of the weekend online reading reviews and going to the regular stores (Sears, HH Gregg, Best Buy, Lowes, Home Depot) to see what was on sale. I found a GE Artistry refrigerator at Home Depot that was in the display / open box area. It was only 10% off, so I asked the manager if maybe a little more could be taken off… and well, turned out it could. BUT. I’d have to pick up and install the unit *and* get rid of my current unit. (New units include delivery, installation, and haul away of the old unit.)

The manager was very nice and said he could give me 10% off of a new model for “customer satisfaction”. Turns out that there was also a special deal on that model so the total deal was 20% off.

I was shocked at how large and how expensive most of the refrigerators in the store are. My current refrigerator is 29 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and 65 inches tall.

I had to wander back to behind all of the expensive display units and try to find something that would fit. Half of the units that I was interested in were unmarked, didn’t have prices, or sizes on them. Sales people at Lowes were unhelpful. Home Depot people were great. HH Gregg people were helpful but … pushy. Sears couldn’t find any one to help.

My current refrigerator is a Whirlpool, and it’s had a good life span. My parents had a side-by-side and a French door model. Didn’t care for either of those. Couldn’t fit pizza boxes into the freezer side. (Funny what is important to college students.) I haven’t had a bottom freezer unit before. This will be an adventure.

I really liked the way the GE Artistry looks, and the discount managed to bring it down closer to the price range of the other units I was looking at (okay, still $100 more but better).

Any way, it arrives on Wednesday.

Roku and Plex streaming

April 13th, 2014, posted in Geekitude

Last November, I got fed up with Time Warner being inconsistent in their offering prices. I was told when I moved from the apartment to my house that I could keep my old plan. Great, that worked. Except when I got my first bill, i ended up with a total that was three times the amount I had been playing at the apartment. I called Time Warner several times and each time I was given a different story. Suffice it to say, that I canceled the cable subscription and kept only the high speed internet. (There isn’t another option for reliable high speed internet except DSL.)

I bought a Roku, subscribed to Netflix and Amazon Prime, and haven’t looked back.

A friend of mine gave me a video that I was watching on my little Windows laptop. An 11-inch screen isn’t exactly prime viewing. On a hunch, I figured that there had to be a way to stream from a PC to a Roku. There is a streaming media server software called Plex that allows me to stream the videos you gave me from my Windows PC to my Roku. I’m currently watching Game of Thrones on the TV by streaming it from my PC. How cool is that? There are free and subscription services. I’m only using the free service.

There is a version of Plex available for Mac, Linux, and Windows.

This is really cool.

I love the Roku.

Making cardboard dungeon tiles for gaming

April 2nd, 2014, posted in Gaming

A friend of mine sent me a link to DM Scotty’s channel, the DM’s Craft. He shows how to make all sorts of dungeon tiles with paint, cardboard (!!), hot glue, and patience. They look really good!

There is a video that shows how to make crypt and cemetery tiles. That will be useful for the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay segment of Gathering Storm that deals with the Garden of Morr. I wouldn’t do an entire map for Warhammer, but I think the area where the boss fights take place would be cool.

This will be fun!

First ride after two months

April 1st, 2014, posted in Horses

I bought a bareback pad for Kasane over the weekend. It’s a Thinline bareback pad. Fits her very well and I actually rode in it for the first time today. It was crazy warm today (almost 80F) so she was very mellow. I put the bareback pad on her and lunged. She was great, as always. She has the loveliest lope.

I got on her and we felt so discombobulated. It’s been months since I’ve been on her. We’re starting off easy at first. Light rides to get both of us in shape. It felt like she couldn’t walk in a straight line — probably caused by me not sitting straight or not having myself balanced properly. We did some basic circles and got used to each other again. I remembered where to put my legs to ask her to move underneath herself when on the circle (inside leg pushes over, outside leg holds).

Last time I rode, we had trouble with not being able to keep a steady tempo at a trot. I ended up having a mini lesson with one of my instructors which helped a lot. One of the things they pointed out then was that I tend to lean forward and gather the reins too much when she speeds up.

So we trotted a little bareback this time. Sure enough, she sped up. Not to the point where she felt like she would roll into a canter, but close. So we did some walk, whoa, half halts, etc. to get both of us relaxed and communicating better. I asked her to trot again and this time I carefully looked at where my posture was, how I was sitting. I lengthened the reins and decided that we would only ask her slow down using my seat. When I’m bareback I also have a habit of tightening a little with my legs. I took a deep breath, sat back a little more, and relaxed my legs and lower body. In like two or three steps she slowed down and then walked. I was elated. She repeated that four times (both directions) and at that point I got off. It was an excellent breakthrough after only a 15 minute ride.

Christopher Walken Dance Now video

March 18th, 2014, posted in Just Silly

This just made me happy. I had no idea the man could actually dance! Especially since I usually think of him in Sleepy Hollow and Dead Zone.

And Flying Walken!

Roof fixed

March 11th, 2014, posted in General

Just an update on the roof situation and the water in the crawl space. The HOA did indeed send a very nice man from Ark Roofing over to look at the roof. It was fixed today (before we get more rain tomorrow). That was a relief.

I’ve also been pulling water out of the crawl space using a bucket. Sigh. Over 7 buckets of water, so maybe 6.5 gallons. I hadn’t though to check under there until my neighbor mentioned it. Yikes. This won’t be easy to fix. We’re supposed to get a lot of rain in the next few weeks. I’m going to be under the house a lot.

Roof leaking

March 8th, 2014, posted in General

It rained a lot on Thursday and all day Friday. Inches of rain and some ice. West of me, like out of the barn, there were trees down and power outages. It poured and poured.

Thursday night I could barely sleep because I kept hearing the rain and thinking it was Kiesha purring. The water rushing through the gutters sounded like Kiesha when she was about to hack a hairball. That noise instantly wakes me up. I kept thinking I heard something hitting the ceiling in the attic.

I didn’t look up at the bedroom ceiling on Friday morning. It was dark from the rainclouds outside when I woke up. Saturday morning though, I sat and stared at the ceiling and saw the water stains. Said a nice spring of explicatives.

Water damage spot above bed

Water damage spot above bed

Water damage spot to right of bed

Water damage spot to right of bed

Water damage spot to left of bed

Water damage spot to left of bed

Roof and exterior repairs are supposed to be handled by the home owner’s association. Interior damage should be handled by my home owner’s insurance. This is my first test of the HOA, and honestly I’m impressed with their response. Leaving a message on the emergency line actually resulted in a returned call within a few hours. The nice lady said someone from a roofing company should call me back in the afternoon.

My insurance agent also called me back. We are going to coordinate repairs.

The roofing guy was supposed to call me today, which he didn’t. If I don’t hear from him tomorrow then the HOA will get a call.

Kinda annoying that he didn’t call because I stayed close to home all day. Of course, with the power out at the barn and trees blocking the road out there I couldn’t go to the barn any way.

It was gorgeous today and in the 60s. I ended up going for a 4 mile walk (and realized just how much out of shape I’ve gotten since the car accident).

Distractions

March 7th, 2014, posted in Archaeology

I was hoping that gaming and stuff might provide some distractions and instead I ended up signing up for a free class at Coursera called “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets.” It looks awesome.

I’ve always wanted to take classes in archaeology and never had the chance when I was in college. I’m looking forward to this class, even if I am starting about a week after the class officially started. I have some catch-up work to do.

Trying to cope with an empty house

March 5th, 2014, posted in Cats

When I came home on Tuesday after saying good bye to Kiesha, I slept for most of the afternoon. There is something healing about sleeping after feeling so depressed and upset. Although the empty bed and no kitty to greet met at the door was hard.

The house is empty now. I felt like I had to make it look different so I wasn’t going to be looking for her every where. I got rid of the litter boxes and cleaned up the food dishes. I even hung two new lights in the kitchen and outside the front door.

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Once the stained glass light was up in the dining room, I fell in love with the way the stained glass lights look. I’ve replaced both lights in the kitchen now.

Dining room light with dragonfly motif

Dining room light with dragonfly motif

Kitchen ceiling light

Kitchen ceiling light

Pendant stained glass light over sink

Pendant stained glass light over sink

I don’t know if it is helping but it gave me something to do with the rest of the evening so I wasn’t sitting around expecting her to jump in my lap.

Good night, Squeakitty

March 4th, 2014, posted in Cats

I stayed home with Kiesha on Monday. After Sunday evening, I was worried about her. She still was not eating, although she did lap up liquid from some wet food. My regular vet was unavailable, so I made an appointment for 10:00 on Tuesday morning. I did take her in for fluids on Monday afternoon because she had been throwing up so much. She was a little dehydrated, so the fluids helped her stay comfortable.

She looked so small and uncomfortable Monday evening. I gave her some wet food with gravy in a bowl on the bed. When I checked on her a little while later, she had curled up with her rump in the wet food bowl. She had never done anything like that before. On Monday night, she slept at my feet instead of under the covers. My poor kitty. I could feel the bumps along her spine under my fingers when I petted her. She purred a little, but mostly she would move away when she started coughing.

I wanted desperately to cuddle with her over night because I knew what was going to happen when we went to the vet’s in the morning. She squirmed and complained if I picked her up, so I let her sleep where she wanted to instead of pulling her up next to me. I loved on her in the morning and stayed in bed with her as long as I could.

She went into the cat carrier without too much fuss. Curled up and was quiet during the entire drive. We had had an ice storm the night before, so the drive out took longer than expected. I talked to Squeaky on the way out, in part to keep myself from crying.

I kept telling myself that Kiesha was going in just for an “evaluation,” to see where we were with the tumor’s progress and what it meant for her outlook. Except I knew that I was not going to be bringing my kitty home with me.

There comes a point when you have to let a kitty go, and today was that day. She was so good and purred when I cuddled with her. The vet couldn’t get over how much the tumor had grown and also commented on how Kiesha’s coat, muscle, and overall demeanor had gone downhill. The tumor in Kiesha’s abdomen had also grown in size. From it’s location the vet thought it might be attached to Kiesha’s intestines (which could have interfered with digestion). The tumor under her chin was interfering with vocal chords, swallowing, eating, and would eventually interfere with her breathing.

Kiesha, last day

Kiesha, last day

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The hard thing about Kiesha’s cancer is that it was only going to get worse as time went on. She wasn’t going to heal. There weren’t any treatment options. She was already uncomfortable and hurting. I couldn’t keep her here for me when she was going to be in pain. The only choice I had was to let her go.

I stayed with her until she took her last breath. My poor little Squeaky. She was gone even before the vet had finished administering the dose.

Here’s to my sweet Kiesha, the aggressive cuddle cat and last of my four kitties.

Time to say goodbye?

March 2nd, 2014, posted in Cats

For the third day in a row, Kiesha has been dry heaving and making those strange up-chuck then hoarse quack-squeak, with her stomach heaving up and nothing coming out. She hasn’t been looking good. Her coat quality has deteriorated. She is drinking water and using the litter box.

She hasn’t touched the dry food in a couple of days. I emptied it and put fresh food in there, but there still doesn’t seem to be anything eaten from it. The last time I saw her nose around in the food, she threw up two pieces of the dry food. It’s like she can’t swallow it so it comes back up. I think the tumor has gotten large enough that it has started interfering with her eating.

When I gave her wet food today, she immediately started licking it. She is so hungry and she can’t seem to eat anything. She licked t the food enthusiastically. She even took a few bites of the wet food. Even small bites of the pate caused problems for her. She would take a little bite and then stop, cough, half gag, lick her lips, and then lick the pate again.

When I was out running errands today, I tried to find types of wet cat food that would have a lot of gravy or juice that Kiesha can lick up and have some nourishment. I found two types of wet food (Iams and Friskies wet food in a pouch). The Iams is okay for ingredient quality. The Friskies isn’t any where near as nutritious as what she is used to. The idea is just to get some calories into her.

She eagerly licked at both bowls, lapped up the gravy. I felt very relieved that maybe I’d found something to help her. Except she started heaving again and nothing came up. Her breathing was labored, like she had a hard time catching her breath after the dry heaves.

Kiesha, 2 Mar 2014

Kiesha, 2 Mar 2014

She saw me come into the room and tried to purr. It is a pale echo of her loud, out-board-engine purr. It’s a whisper of a purr with a heavy rasp, like someone trying to purr but has smoked cigarettes for far too many years.

Instead of sleeping with me, she has been sleeping in hidey-holes. She sleeps in the closet, behind the closet door, next to the wall behind the book case, even under the bench at the end of the bed. This is all new behavior. Usually she sleeps with me and purrs. This morning and yesterday she wasn’t with me for most of the night.

I talked to Kiesha’s vet today. She said that as the tumor gets larger, it may interfere with breathing and eating. Tonight, Kiesha looked pretty miserable for the first time. I’ve known for the past week that something had changed for her. She’d hit the tipping point and we were going to have to do something soon.

Today she was so uncomfortable. I curled up next to her, loved on her, and cried. We’re going to the vet’s tomorrow for an evaluation. In my heart, I know it’s time but I don’t want it to be.

Morning sounds

February 26th, 2014, posted in Cats

I woke up this morning to the sound of Kiesha trying to up-chuck right next to my ear. She was heaving and licking her lips but nothing was coming up. I put her on a floor and then put a paper towel under her, in case she did throw up something. Nothing came up. She made a gargling noise, coughed with a strange after noise that sounded like a hoarse duck.

She continued to heave, with the strange noises. I sat next to her, petted her, and tried to do what I could to help her. She moved away from me when I tried to pet her. The tumor under her chin now is the width of her chin.

I feel so powerless to do anything to help her. She will still gently headbutt my hand when I hold it near her head. She likes it when I pet behind her shoulders, but not her head, and only when she is laying down. When she is walking, she moves away from any contact.

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Squeaky has been with me for 17 or 18 years. It’s so hard to watch her gradually deteriorate. She is such a sweet little kitty. When I pet her, I can feel more of her ribs and spine along her back. Her dry food hasn’t been touched today, but she seems to be eating the wet food.

She has the same slightly hollow look in her eyes that Basette, Stella, and Ambush all had in their last days. It breaks my heart to see her like this. I keep hoping she’ll get better, but I know she won’t.

No riding for a few weeks

February 25th, 2014, posted in Horses

I’m getting so close to being fully healed. It’s like every week there is something that I do that sets me back. After talking with my physical therapist, we decided that the healing would progress better if we removed as many variables as possible. One of those variables is riding. So. He gave me some additional exercises to do.

Most mornings I am not stiff any more. My neck has felt good for quite a while. I’ve had a little bit of tingling in my left elbow. The lowest part of my spine has been sore when I sit in a chair too long. It’s also sore when I ride. Sitting trots take on a whole new world of oddity.

I am so tired of being almost healed. I want to really focus on getting better and then being able to gradually start riding again.

The good side of this is that it is an opportunity to focus on groundwork with Kasane and Rajiyyah. It’s an opportunity to build upon the relationships and to play and learn. I want to come up with a game plan with the girls that will give us something challenging to work on (goals but not expectations).

Gaming movies

February 19th, 2014, posted in Gaming, Geekitude

A friend of mine suggested two movies. One of these I’ve seen before (Gamers: Dorkness Rising) and the other I haven’t seen> I own most of the D&D movies, even the really especially bad ones. Imagine my delight to find out that there is a D&D movie available on YouTube that I hadn’t seen. Here is my viewing for some time later this week.

D&D: The Book of Vile Darkness

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

Check-in with the Squeakitty

February 16th, 2014, posted in Cats

The mass under Kiesha’s chin has continued to grow. She doesn’t come downstairs to greet me any more. In fact, she’s only been coming downstairs once or twice per week. She purrs hesitantly when she see me, like an engine with a rough idle.

Kiesha, 16 Feb 2014

Kiesha, 16 Feb 2014


It’s hard to listen to her purr. She is having a harder time, but mostly seems okay. I keep watching for the day when she isn’t quite right, when she doesn’t seem happy or comfortable. I keep hoping we’ll have more time, but at the rate the tumor is growing under her chin, I’m afraid.