Friday, June 29, 2012

Helping hands & dodgy leg

Firstly, this is Tootsie helping me with the latest picture in my current project of wolf portraits.
She has been a pain in the bum.
She knocked all my equipment over, before taking up this pose.
Perhaps she thinks she should have been the model.
I gave up on it for a while until she went to sleep.
I think I have now finished it......well almost.
I am not leaving it as such but adding a different, textured surface to the finished picture.
If I am happy with it I will put it on here.
I have also donated an oil painting to a charity I am fond of.  Hopefully, they will get some money for it.

I have dodgy leg.
I have had this dodgy leg since Alanmas.
The calf of my leg hurts like buggery and I was persuaded to visit the quack, just to make sure it wasn't something sinister like a deep vein thrombosis.
She said it was muscle spasms and that I might be short of magnesium.  I should also drink water with electrolytes in it.
I bought some magnesium cream to rub in (magnesium pills give you the trots apparently).
I rubbed the cream in............what did it do?   Nothing, that's what.
I drink the electrolyte water.... (why is it than every time I go to drink it, I can't resist singing the old Desmond Dekker song "The Israelites"....."The Electrolytes")........what does it do?  Nothing.
Bearing in mind, all this time I have been working for a massage therapist and never mentioned it to her.
Some days I have just a faint, ghost of a pain.  Other days I can barely walk.  On these days the calf muscle is so painful I can hardly touch it, which is probably why I didn't mention it.
I wouldn't be able to stand it being massaged.
Anyway, on Wednesday she asked me why I was walking funny and I told her - tight knicker elastic, no I didn't say that really...I told about my painful calf.
She says the pain has nothing to do with the calf muscle.  She says the pain originates in the knee and is caused by a pinched nerve.
It made sense, because this is the same knee that plays me up now and again.  That goes way back to an injury caused by playing "jolly hockeysticks", ( a barbaric game which should only ever be played by team Attila the Hun versus team Genghis Khan and only then on Michaelmas Day, 30 minutes after tiffin), at East Ham Grammar School for Girls, many, many years ago.
She gave me some stuff to rub in it and suggested a knee support.
Darling Philip stopped by the chemist and bought me a knee support size small/medium.
I put it on.
It fell off.
I pulled it up.
It fell down.............sigh.
We eventually exchanged it for something even smaller that is also adjustable.
I am rubbing the magic ointment in too.
We shall see what happens next.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Did it.

Bubba having a snooze on his new bed after his subqs.

The thought of doing our first subq fluids for Bubba on Sunday weighed on me over the weekend.
On Saturday my "let's have a turf out" mode kicked in.
I think this is my way of not thinking about something and also a de-stressor.
I also think that this is a major stress producer for Philip.
The bookshelves in the basement are full to overflowing of the buggers.
One has two broken shelves and the others have books that are not standing upright in an orderly fashion.
Drives me nuts.
So, time to edit the bookcases.
I had got a bag full to take to the Half Price Book Store and asked Philip to sort out some of his (the majority are actually his), to take too.
Thus freeing up space for the remaining books to be lined up ...neat ...and ...tidy.
Also, we could mend the shelves that were broken.
Oh it was painful.
I felt like one of the professional organisers that you see on the "hoarding" tv programmes.
It seemed really mean to make him go through and decide which he could bear to be parted from.
Actually, I don't think it was so upsetting for him really.  I think he would just never bother to thin them out if he was left to his own devices.
He did sort them and then he set about mending the shelves.  This wasn't too swear worthy....just one swear worthy, and they were duly fixed and books organised.
Sunday it was off to  "Half Price Books" to see if we could get some dosh for them.
Philip wagered we would get $25 and I said $40.
We got over $43.  Brilliant.  Why have stuff cluttering up the place when you can get cash for it.
Then we had to do the deed.
Philip had bought Bubba a really soft new bed while we were out.  He is soft hearted.
I warmed up the bag of fluids (the vet tech explained that when the fluids go in they don't hurt or anything but if it is cold then it doesn't feel very nice to the cat), as per instruction, then hung it up and got ready.
Philip sat with Bubba on his new bed and I then had to poke the needle in.
I don't like doing it but I did and all was well...............except Bubba started to fidget.
Oh bugger...........I knew what I had forgotten.   The fluid in the bag was warm but the tech had told us to empty out the little bit in the line that leads to the needle, as this would still be cold.
I hadn't remembered to do that.
Still, it didn't take long before he settled down.  The whole process only took maybe 10 minutes and he was unhooked and free to go.
He seemed fine and we noticed he didn't need to drink so much water afterwards.
He still loves me.   I just hope I haven't put him off with the chilly start.
I shall make sure I don't do that again.

Philip is still calling me Mr Monk (The OCD detective).
On Sunday morning, when we were waiting for our brekkie, he saw me turn my placemat around as there was a tiny bit of writing in one corner that was upside down to me.
As soon as I did it ......I knew he had seen me.
I just can't stand anything slightly askew, upside down or not in its rightful place.
I doubt that I will change now.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Another weird week.

Firstly, the band at River Rhythms was Brother.......woof !!
They were as brilliant as ever.
Of course, the characters were also there.
Above you will see a 'special person' who looked like a cross between Father Jack and Compo.
We couldn't quite work out why he wore the tie as he wore precious little else.
He was a happy soul though.

He might have looked a bit rough but he was convinced he had 'the moves like Jagger'.
We were just thankful that he had strong elastic holding up those shorts.

Wednesday night set me up for Thursday and the dreaded vet visit with Bubba.
The vet tech set up the equipment and demonstrated how to attach the lines to the fluids, add the needle, get the fluid flowing and then poke the needle in Bubba.
Bubba was very patient through all this.
She then took the needle out and said that I had to poke the poxy needle in Bubba.
What a nightmare.
I had to learn how to lift his skin up and poke the needle in without it poking right through and squirting the fluids all over the place.
I did it.  I was a nervous wreck and was shaking for hours afterwards.
Bubba meanwhile didn't seem all that bothered at all.

We have to do this twice a week. 
Anyway, she sent us home with - a bag of fluid, the lines, attachments and needles.   There is enough there for 5 weeks of treatments.
She then went to print out the bill.  I will confess that we were worried about this.  Was this treatment going to cost us a fortune?
Result....the total cost of supplies for 5 weeks of treatment..........less than $15 !!!
I was amazed.
They didn't even charge us any money for the demonstration and the time.
I love this new vet.
I asked her, reluctantly, what sort of time frame we were looking at for Bubba with all this going on.
She told us that another cat started this treatment, aged 14 years (same as Bubba) and he lived to be 21 years old.
So, less than $15 for 5 weeks ........Bubba is worth every cent of that.
We have to do the treatment for the first time on our own tomorrow.
I am nervous but determined to do it for him. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ronnii Rockit

I have just finished the above portrait for a friend.
His little dog passed away so he asked me for this.   Isn't she lovely?   He emailed me some photos and allowed me to make my choices.
That always seems to work best.
I enjoyed doing this one and I have now started another.   A wolf this time but I am trying a new technique and a different medium.
I like to keep trying new things.  I will post a picture if it works out.

I've been a bit depressed this week.
I am not sure why.  I know I often miss my family & friends.  I miss little things like walking round the shops.
Can't really walk around shops here.  Well, I can get a bus to the mall but it isn't really the same.  Other shops are all miles apart because no one ever seems to walk anywhere.
Everyone has a car and drives........except me.
I like walking, but I like having somewhere to walk to.  In Ashford and Folkestone I walk for miles.
Even in the car parks at the mall you will see people waiting for a parking space that is a couple of yards nearer the entrance than other open parking spaces.
Little wonder there are some weight issues about.
I may also be depressed because we have to go to the vet's office on Thursday evening so that the vet tech can show us how to give Bubba his subq fluids.

It hangs over me like a cloud.  Same as it did to Perkin - above.

Friends keep telling me that it is easy and not traumatic for the cat.  (Bloody traumatic for me though).
Apparently, it is quite a common procedure now to do this at home.
The vet will fax a prescription to the suppliers so we can get all the equipment direct (saves money).
Bubba meanwhile has taken a shine to the prescription diet he is on.
He woofs it down.  In fact, if he wasn't drinking so much you would never know there was anything wrong with him.
I do hope my trepidation is short lived and that it is as simple as they keep telling me it is.
One friend, who has done all this before, has offered to come and help if we really have a problem with it.
That does come as something of a relief.  I don't want to let big, ole, softie Bubba down by being a complete wuss myself.

The weather here is really hot now.  Up in the 90s.   I was going to venture to the mall today but it was just too hot to walk to the bus stop and wait for a bus.
Another reason people don't walk I suppose.  It is either too hot or too chuffing cold.

Philip is golfing tonight.  I bet he will get a bit warm doing that too.
He had thought he wasn't going to be coming home from work tomorrow as they have an install.
This would mean I would miss Brother at River Rhythms.  Now there is something to get depressed about alone.
Dear old Gary offered to come and pick me up (quite a trot from his house) so I was going anyway.
Now it seems the install has been put back to next week so Philip can come along and enjoy Brother too. 
Or maybe he will have a sleep.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fed up.........muchly.


Oh what a week.
We took Bubba to the vet on Monday as he has been drinking a lot and not quite himself.
I thought he probably had a thyroid deficiency which is quite common in older cats but easily treatable.
They did some tests on him and the results were that he is in early renal failure.
This means his kidneys are not working properly.  It cannot be cured but progress can be delayed by special, prescription diet.
Some cats, so I am told, have lived for years on this diet.
OK not too bad.
Then today I get a message from the vet which sounds like he is much worse than that.
It says he probably should be on regular subq fluids.
This means sticking needles in him and getting fluids in him via a home.
I am a bit blown away by this.
The previous info seemed to say he wasn't that bad yet and wouldn't be for a long time.
Now it seems that he is much more poorly than we imagined.
I don't know how I am going to do this.
Philip is stopping by the vet's office tonight to pick up the special diet and I have just left him a message asking him to talk to the vet about all this.

Last night we went to the first River Rhythms of the season.
I had been looking forward to it as apart from the music, it is fun to see Gary and to do some people watching.
Much to my dismay, the band was pants.
I have a fairly broad taste in music and usually enjoy listening to anyone who is a good musician.
It started badly when obviously, they hadn't all turned up on time.
One of the guitarists did a solo set on an acoustic guitar, which was very brave of him, but rather boring, went on too long, and people were getting fed up.
Then we saw the last one show up and they got under way.
We were soon wishing we just had the first bloke back.
It was a sort of cross between hip hop and rap.   We didn't like it at all.
No one clapped much.  There were a few kids there who seemed to enjoy it but the vast majority of the crowd are older and you could see no one was particularly impressed.
Totally unimpressed was my other half, who was sending me signals that he wanted to go home.
We stayed until about 8.30pm when I gave in and said, "Oh alright then, let's go home."
I have never seen Philip pack away all our stuff so quickly.
He was like Billy Whizz.
It was a shame really as it wasn't a good start to the season.   Fortunately, next week it is Brother.......the Aussie guys in leather kilts.  They are brilliant so unless they don't show up it should be good.
Oh and to top it all.
The mice in the garage had eaten holes in Philip's new posh, folding chair he bought last year.
I thought he might fall through as it was so bad but he didn't ........spoilsport.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Everything in my favour is against me.....

Firstly......Lily with the portrait I did of her.
Apparently it was presented to Lily's parents yesterday as a surprise for their wedding anniversary.
I am told they love it.
Phew......always a relief.
I am busy working on another one now.

Funny old weekend.  Philip has been poorly with a bad throat etc.
On Sunday he felt worse and it was obviously not just a cold.  So it was off to 'Urgent Care'.
Now, as much as the health care system over here winds me up with constant bills for anything from MRIs to ear syringing...there are some good parts.
Our doctor's clinic is open, like most, Monday to Friday.
But, they do understand that you can't always plan to be ill between Monday and Friday.
So, they have their own 'urgent care clinic' which is open on Saturday & Sunday and I think after hours in the week.
Sometimes you do have something that needs attention but not the attention of the emergency room at the hospital.
Sunday morning then we popped into the 'urgent care' clinic and 45 minutes later emerged with 3 prescriptions for Philip who has a sinus infection.   So, he could get started right away on the antibiotics rather than wait to get an appointment at our doctor's during the week.
That is a great idea I think and the cost was the same as a normal doctor visit.
Hopefully he will feel better soon.

We ordered an upright freezer on Saturday.  Not a huge one but better than the freezer  box on top of the fridge.   It was due today.
It came early this morning, delivered by two very nice chaps who took it down into the basement, levelled it up and plugged it in.
Wonderful.  We have wanted one for ages and it will make a big difference to us to be able to store more food, particularly during our winters.
Brilliant.   All working ....fab.
Then I read the manual.
It must not be connected by an extension is.
It must be connected to a 3 pin, earthed isn't.
It will have to be moved.  It looks so nice where it is, right next to the fridge but it will have to be moved.
That will make Philip laugh.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


                                                      Baby dinosaur. 

Tuesday ended up being really good........well mostly.
Our chum, Gary, had invited us to the zoo to see the dinosaurs.
He is a 'friend of Milwaukee zoo' and as such can take us in free.  He also gets invitations to special exhibitions.
Last summer the zoo put on an outdoor dinosaur display and it was brill.
It disappeared during the winter (too blooming cold and snowy to spend much time outdoors around these parts).
Anyway, he had an invitation to a preview of the new exhibit for this summer.
It was from 5.30pm onwards.  Firstly we had to go and vote.  I voted for the person I wanted  (see previous blog entry) and poo to everyone else.
When we got to the zoo there were queues to get in but it was so worth while lining up.
The display is even better this year.
This time while we were waiting outside, you could hear the roars and rumblings of dinosaurs from inside.
It was quite scary actually.
I found this lady holding a baby dino just inside the gate.
 I got really excited, much to Philip's dismay.
We found out after that this was one of a set of puppets that were putting on a show for the kids, at the end of the exhibit.
The rest of the dinosaurs were big and some, like these two, spat water.  The kids loved that.
There was an enormous, roaring T. Rex that had a nest of evil little snapping babies.
All of the dinosaurs were animated in some way.
Lots of fun.........and you exit through a gift shop.  What else?

On then to get something to eat.   We hadn't been to Perkins in an age so Philip thought we would go there and get some grub.
When we have been before it has always been for brekkie.
Maybe they do brekkies better.
It was awful.
Not only was it awful, but we had to wait an age for the awfulness.  The place was almost empty so we didn't know what could be taking so long.
Gary and Philip were just having fried stuff and I was having salad.
Poor Gary.  We were treating him to this as a thank you for taking us to the dinos.
Anyway, when asked as we were leaving if everything was ok we told them it was awful.
They admitted they were having problems and gave us 20% off.
We felt a bit happier about it then but it was a shame as it nearly spoiled a lovely evening.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thank crunchie it's Tuesday

                                                        Tom the Swarovski Crystal Cat

Monday was an almost totally horrid day.
It was saved only by the delivery of the beautiful crystal kitty above.  This came from a very dear friend for whom I had done the boxer dog portrait.
It was absolutely unexpected, thoughtful, gorgeous and just what I needed.

I had been a bit poorly over the weekend with dodgy ear, sore throat and the shivers.
Generally unwell and a bit fed up.
I had seen the Queen's Pageant on Sunday which had the double effect of making me appreciate seeing all the people enjoying themselves, but at the same time making me sad that I was missing it all.
Monday morning I awoke feeling much better, plus I was going swimming with my old mate.
This already cheered me up.
She came to pick me up and all was well for about 5 minutes.
I shall fill in a little background here.
At the moment Wisconsin is in the middle of a governor race.  The voting is today actually.
Republican (conservative) versus Democrat (labour party).
Americans can get rather volatile about politics.
My friend is a staunch republican.  They go in for a lot of staunching around here.  Particularly the republicans.
I rather favour the democrats.  See the difference....rather favour as opposed to staunch.
I prefer not to talk politics as I can see little point.  My friend knows I am not in agreement with her point of view and I wish she would just accept that and leave it alone.
I try desperately not to let her start talking politics but this time I couldn't avoid it.  There was something she was listening to on the radio and as soon as I got into the car she launched into an attack on the democratic candidate and me for being stupid enough to vote for him.
I can usually deflect these conversations but this day 'the lady was not for turning'.
It seems she considers the democrats to be the epitome of evil.  They were probably behind the sinking of the Titanic, the Irish potato famine and the eruption of Krakatoa.
The republicans, on the other hand,  probably invented the wheel, sliced bread and superglue.
Her tactics now were to shout at me, right in my face about all the awful things democrats do.  She can't bear the fact that we are going to vote for the democratic candidate today.
I tried desperately to change the subject or make little jokes but she just shouted, shouted, me down whenever I tried to speak.
By the time we got to the pool I was very upset.  I didn't let her know that but I had had enough.
She accused me of not understanding because I was from a socialist country.  She has never been outside of the US. I was even more fed up because apart from this she is a kind, sweet person whom I consider a dear friend.
When I came home I was near to tears ...........and then I found my beautiful crystal kitty.   It was exactly what I needed even though I truly didn't expect anything.
After showing Philip the kitty, (which he too thinks is lovely),when he came home I told him what had happened previously.  He could see I was upset over it.
It wasn't done yet though.  I had to pop round to her house that evening to pick something up and I was dreading it. When we got there I told Philip to wait in the car.  He has strong political views too and the last thing I wanted was to be party to a slanging match.
When I was working back in England, I hated it when there was bad feeling in the staff room.   Sometimes we would be going in for briefing and my friend Sue would say to me "tin hats on, Kate is gunning for Jim this morning," and my heart would sink.  My friend, Garyth, who was head of art, also didn't like 'unpleasantness' and when it kicked off there would be us two trying to slide out of the door unnoticed.
Anyway, I ventured into her apartment.........and she started again.
Yelling at me that I should be voting for her bloke and he would win anyway so I should vote for the winner.  I was smiling weakly and saying well everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Then I think she got carried away and said rather nastily, "Oh yes but you will take advantage of all the good things he does when he gets elected won't you?"
"What?" I replied, "Ermm.....I don't think that is a very nice thing to say."
Then she repeated it.
I really was very uncomfortable with this.  I felt she had backed me into a corner and was prodding me with a stick.
"Ermm.....I really don't think that is a very nice thing to say. I don't think I will be taking advantage of anybody.  I totally respect your right to your opinions and I wish you would respect my right to mine."
There I said it.   She looked flustered and shocked.
"Oh...I am only kidding you." she said.
This is bullying.  That is how bullies try to get out of it when their victim eventually turns.
I very pleasantly said goodnight and left.
I told Philip what had happened and he said he thought she would probably ring when we got home.
He was right.  About 30 minutes after we got in the phone rang and it was her but I couldn't answer it just then. I wasn't ready.  She left no message.
I knew she must be worried as she knew she had overstepped the mark and I know she values our friendship.  I think she just got carried away.  I have found this has happened to me a lot over the years.   I don't like conflict so I am always the one putting up with stuff rather than make a fuss.  Some people see this as weakness (maybe it is but I just like quiet life) and occasionally they push me too far.
She rang again after a while and this time I answered it.  I was dreading what she might say as I couldn't bear it all starting again.
She was clever though.  She told me she had just remembered something she needed to tell do with a recipe.  She then went on about how good Sherlock is on the telly and rambled for a while.  She didn't mention she had phoned before.  I knew she was just trying to make sure I was still speaking to her and I put her mind at rest by chatting normally.
I told Philip I didn't like to think she would go to bed worried that she had upset me.
Then he said....."What about you though?"  Yeah...what about me.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Roses around the door quaint!

 Thought I would take a photo of our roses which are looking rather good at the moment.

Today was the start of the Diamond Jubilee Mallarky.

This morning I was ploughing through the 50 million channels we have on the TV in search of something remotely watchable when I decided to check out BBC America.
They often have Top Gear on which is always a bit of fun but this morning.......oh joy of joys.....they were showing the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames live.
Oh I lurrrvvvvvved it.
The amazing entourage of boats, large, small, rowing, barges.......unbelievable.
The people, the flags, the music,  the incredible display at the theatre with The Warhorse cavorting across the rooftops and the delight of the Queen when she saw it.
I was enthralled.
I know I have taken American citizenship but fortunately Britain has not disowned me.
I am still considered British by my homeland and this morning it couldn't have been more pronounced.
I have to say there are few countries who could have put on such a display as there was on the Thames this morning.
It was just wonderful to see people enjoying themselves so much in spite of some nasty weather.
If you didn't find it uplifting then I am truly sorry for you.
Everyone should try to find joy in the things around them. 
I am tired of reading the news of massacres, violence, terrorists, disasters.........let us marvel at people finding delight and happiness in waving their flags.
The US envies us our Royal Family as this sort of history cannot be bought.
Enjoy it Brits, it is something many nations would love.