bunrab: (me)
Best money saved this year: Medicare paid entirely for replacing my defibrillator in August - my entire copays were less than my deductible anyway; compare that to last year's nonsense with the anesthesiologist who wouldn't accept insurance.  Best money spent this year: the extravagant glasses frames. Well, extravagant by my standards, anyway - not ridiculous $700 designer frames, or frames with real gemstones, or nonsense like that, but still, well over $200 instead of my usual pick from the $99-and-under section. Even online, these frames cost over $200, in places where there are $10 frames available. But the compliments make me feel good, and that makes me happy. Yes, it's vanity.

Most fun I had this year that I'm willing to discuss in a family-friendly online forum: going to the International Quilt Show in Houston - it had been ten years since the last time I made it to that, before we left Texas.The trip included seeing old friends and good food, too, and the rest of the stay in Texas gave me time to catch up with Steve's remaining relatives. Least fun this year: my oldest sister passed away yesterday. Cancer. She was a year older than me. We weren't close - her life in Alaska and her deep involvement with fundamentalist religion kept us from talking often or having much to talk about - but still, you know, family. She is survived by 8 children and numerous grandchildren.

Stuff I accomplished: finished several quilts, including some that have been pending since before I left Texas. Got out the Christmas tree and decorated it without crying too much over memories. Worked out a few things with the boyfriend so we could get more deeply involved. Gave an awful lot of stuff to Goodwill. Stuff I didn't quite finish: clearing out the dining room so that two people can comfortably eat a normal meal there - haven't emptied the sideboard enough to sell it yet. Opening all the boxes from storage - there's still half a dozen boxes of stuff unopened, and about a dozen boxes I opened, but they're full of paper I still need to sort through. Still, that's an improvement over the 40-plus boxes I moved out of the storage unit and into the extra bedroom - there's now room for the critters to have floor play time in there.

Speaking of critters, Fernbunny is 10.5 years old, the last of the pets we brought from Texas. She has one eye completely covered with a cataract, and her fur is a little thin in a couple spots, but she can still play a vigorous game of tug-of-war for a carrot treat! The pet count is therefore still steady at Dexter cat, Fern, and the two piggles, Oreo and Theodore.

Now, another thing I didn't quite accomplish this year was to keep current with my friends' blogs here. I did better than the year before, but still, the last two months, I've not gotten on LJ to read or write. I will keep trying to do better, as I want to know that my friends are alive and doing stuff!
bunrab: (me)
In 2012, the only resolution I made was to remember to call my friend Cindy at least once a week, instead of always waiting for her to call me - I'm really,  really bad about picking up the phone and calling people, but I managed to keep that resolution. Without any resolutions on the subject, I decided just after the first of the year that I really needed to get out from under the burdens of a largish single-family home, so repaired the home, sold the home, bought a condo, moved. So far so good, right? Also good, that I don't think I've mentioned, is that I've lost nearly 25 pounds in the past year, getting my BMI to just under 25 - that is, within normal instead of overweight! Without any resolutions about losing weight!

I whined here about the couple of tachycardia events that screwed up my summer, and then somehow never got around to getting back here. I think, mind you I'm not certain, but I think, that this new year I resolve to write a few more substantive posts here, rather than depending on 3-sentence Facebook updates to be the only way I keep up with friends or organize my thoughts.

Playing catch-up )
More stupid heart stuff )

More than you wanted to know about my finances )

I have slightly less of too much stuff )

A visit to Texas )

OK, that's well enough of a ramble and a catch-up. New Year's resolution: keep up with LJ better, keep up with my friends' lives better. It's not all always me, and when it is me, sometimes it's good to share.
bunrab: (Default)
Pickle Underfoot, that most excellent cat, died at the beginning of January; he had turned 22 in December. He had been failing a bit in the last couple months - though he was still spry enough to jump up on the counter, he was hit-or-miss with the litter box, and was eating and drinking a ton and having it go right through him, so there was a /lot/ of missing going on. So, I couldn't have done this whole house thing before he died; it wouldn't have been fair to such an old cat to disrupt his world like that, and his problems would have wound up ruining some of the new stuff in turn. So his passing was really the tipping point to deciding to do this. He really was an excellent cat. Many of you had seen him play "fetch" with bottle caps, as if he were a dog. He continued to be able to do that up until about the beginning of November, and then it was as much his increasing blindness, not lack of agility, that kept him from finding and retrieving the caps. Dexter is somewhat lonely without Pickle, and has been real clingy with me, though he does also get some company from Fern bun and the chinchillas. Right now the buns are Fern, Farfalle, and Domino, the chins are Chippy and Darwin, and the guinea pigs are Oreo and Theodore. Oreo and Theodore are fairly recent, acquired from the Baltimore Humane Society just a couple of days before Pickle passed - I knew I was going to have some extra time and energy, once I was no longer spending a couple of hours a day cleaning Pickle and cleaning up after Pickle, and I wanted to get guinea pigs back into my life. They came with those names; I like to think I am usually somewhat more original than naming a black and white guinea pig Oreo. (Not to mention, half the black and white Dutch rabbits in North America seem to be named Oreo, along with the belted guinea pigs...) Dexter is 8 years old now. Chippy chin is 12, Darwin chin is about 8, Fern bun is about 9!!! Fern, you'll recall, came with us from Austin, as did Chippy, and that's almost 7 years ago now itself. And Domino and Farfalle are about 6 years old - we got them in late 2006 or early 2007, I'd have to check which, but they were young adults about a year old then. They were from the Harford County Humane Society. So, Darwin and Fern are both getting on in years; they don't show any big signs of age but they are each a tad slower than they used to be, just a hair less rambunctious. At 8 pets, that's still relatively few for me,

Needless to say, I am only looking at condos that allow pets. Luckily, there are lots of them.
bunrab: (Default)
I tried a cooking experiment for dinner tonight that didn't work out that well - not inedible, but not anything worth ever doing again, either. So on the one hand, if it had turned out well, I would be all sad that I didn't have anyone to share it with, but I would have had very tasty leftovers for tomorrow. As it is, I am relieved that I wasn't trying to feed it to anyone else - and when I reheat the leftovers tomorrow, I'll just dump lots of chutney on top; chutney fixes almost everything.

Working backward, I have been feeling as sad the last couple of days as I was back in January. Lots of reasons for this - for one, a year ago exactly we were on our wonderful RV trip - I look at my post from May 15, 2010 and note that it was snowing in Wyoming, and that I stopped at Cowgirl Yarn. We got to Denver that evening, to stay with C&V for a visit. For another thing, it's been raining for a couple of days, and Calvin-Junior-next-door hasn't been able to mow my wet lawn, so the place looks a mess from the outside; Steve's rosebushes, the Double Knockouts, are blooming like mad but are surrounded by weeds. And for a third thing, this past week I paid the annual homeowner's insurance bill, the home warranty bill, and the last of the winter heating oil bills, all of which reminds me that I really must watch my pennies far more closely than I have been. I've been indulging myself into eating lunch out several days a week, and I really can't afford that - gotta cut back to once a week. Yesterday I dropped Cindy off at the airport for her annual visit with her nephew, and swung by the vet and finally picked up Gizmo's ashes, which are in a beautiful little box. Anyway, this combination of things has slid me a bit backward from last month, when for a bit I was feeling as if things were a bit lighter, as if I could breathe easier.

April felt better for several of its own reasons. When Gizmo died at the end of March, I went ahead and paid for a necropsy, and when the results of that came back, it showed that he had a rare and obscure infection of the liver, which couldn't have been detected in any well-rabbit vet visit when he was acting normally, and that by the time it showed symptoms, there truly was no treatment we could have used that would have reversed things. So I didn't have to feel guilty that I had somehow missed a chance to cure the Big White Bunny if only I had done *something*. Then, also in April, I went to Stitches South in Atlanta, and had a good time. I took the train there, and I enjoy train rides; I met up with Angela there and we split a hotel room; I spent several days totally involved in stuff that has never involved Steve and so didn't keep reminding me of him - and at the same time, there were several other women there who had also lost their spouses within the past year or so, so we could spend just a brief amount of time sharing our grief but also making jokes about how we weren't going to have to figure out how to hide how much yarn we were buying from our husbands. Being away from reality, and totally involved in an activity that has always been mine, made for a break in how I felt, and that left me feeling lighter as a lasting aftereffect. I was still missing Steve every day, but I began to see that I had a life without Steve, and even if it wasn't the life I had hoped for or planned on, it was a life that could still include some enjoyment.

I can still see that, sort of, but it's been fogged over these past couple days. Seeing Cindy off reminds me that I don't have any other really close friends here - people I'm close enough to to say "I'm lonely, I'm coming over to your house to hang out this afternoon so I don't have to be alone." I could probably drive up to my sister's place (2 hour drive) to hang out, and they'd be happy to see me, but it would be all noise and chaos, and everyone would be, quite rightly, more concerned with getting dinner on the table and homework done than with patting me on the head and making soothing murmurs. All my other really close friends are far away - Austin and Denver and Akron - can't exactly drop by or call and say let's meet up to split a dessert and tea at the diner. And I have lots of band acquaintances, but none of them are friends in that sense, and anyway most of them live just far enough away that by standards that aren't used to Texas, they'd think it was crazy to drive 20 miles just to hang out. In Austin, driving to Round Rock or Buda (or vice versa) for dinner and a game of Scrabble is something people would think quite reasonable to do frequently - every weekend, no problem - here, though, many people to consider that to be a distance that they'd only do for more special occasions (other than commuting to work).

And part of it's my own fault - if I weren't so self-absorbed, I'd be paying more attention to other people's journals, and to mailing lists I'm on, and more involved virtually in other people's lives, which really can help - no, it's not the same as hanging out in person, but it IS social activity and a reminder that there's stuff outside my own thoughts, and that other people's lives are interesting and they're willing to share. I know that, but I can't seem to break my laziness and read more than a couple of minutes of my flist page, or of the NEDoD list. How does one kick oneself in the pants to do something that one knows should be done and that will make one feel better? Just telling myself to do it isn't working, obviously.

So today, I couldn't think of anything reason to get out of the house that wouldn't wind up costing money, even apart from gasoline use, and I've sat here stewing instead. I probably look a little like a stewed tomato by now, too.

I'm getting positively closed-loop, whining about my own whining, aren't I? Hey, you all whose journals I've been neglecting, tell me something interesting going on in your lives that I should go read about.
bunrab: (saxophone)
Did you know that? If you weren't sure it was true, I'd be happy to send you some of the rabbit fur collecting in corners, as proof - yes, our dust bunnies are made out of real bunnies!!

I did some repairs to wooden toys this afternoon, with mending plates and angle brackets. An internet seller of rabbit play tunnels and such was going out of business, so I ordered some of the last of their stuff (half price!), and, as in previous orders, one piece arrived broken - which may explain part of why they went out of business. Well, no refunds or returns, so I put the tunnel aside for a few weeks. But finally decided that I needed a clearer living room floor, so it and a previous "play station" that had a leg broken off got fixed. We had previously tried gluing the broken leg, but it didn't hold up for long. Metal mending plates should be able to withstand a four-pound rabbit. I traded around who has what kind of tunnels and toys - now Chippy chin has the smaller play station, since the Funnybunnies didn't like it so much; the Funnybunnies have a second litter box to chew on and scatter around; Fern has the refurbished large play station, instead of a tunnel where she can hide herself too much; and the repaired tunnels are now what's between cages - one between Fern and Funnybunnies, one between FBs and Gizmo, and one between Gizmo and the big plastic bin that keeps the hay and Carefresh more or less safe from rabbits. Fern actually seems to like the new setup - she jumped up and down and up again from the new tunnel, and perched on it for a while, which she hadn't when it was in her cage; she had only ever gone under it.

Wednesday MVCB had just a library work session, not a rehearsal, so I didn't have to bring my bari sax. So I emailed my teacher that I was gonna bring my soprano sax for my lesson instead, and then bungeed said soprano onto the back of the bike and rode over there, instead of using the cage. Great weather for it. A big accident on I-95 diverted me onto an exit I wasn't familiar with, so I even got in a little wandering around on strange roads. And after lesson, most of the staff of the music store where I take my lessons had to come out and admire the bike; I am not sure they previously believed me when I said I rode, as they've only ever seen me when I've had to be carrying 30-something pounds of nearly 4-feet-long assymetrical bari sax, which does NOT work on bike. (I have calculated that if I were 6 foot 2 inches or taller, and weighed at least 200 lbs, then I could carry the bari back-pack style and it would not significantly screw up my balance, center of gravity, or wind resistance. But as I am 5'4"...) My Evolve fish carrying a wrench was their favorite of all my assorted stickers and stuff. Then I ran a bunch of errands, since I had a couple hours before the band session. Had to carry the sax in to various places, since I couldn't just leave it bungeed to the bike; it's not a super-expensive sax, but I still don't want it stolen. Luckily, a straight soprano in a grey plastic case looks pretty innocuous. Silver Diner at LakeForest Mall (avoided rest of mall). Gaithersburg Library. CVS. Then Stedwick Community Center. I wasn't expecting Steve - but he decided why should I have all the fun, and rode his bike out to join us, so then we could ride home together - which we did entirely on back roads, no highways at all, during the very long dusk at this time of year. Lots of lightning bugs everywhere; it's so neat to ride through a whole flock (?) of them on a bike! We stopped at the Double T in Ellicott City, on Route 40, for supper. I was pleased to get an overall 60 mpg on this most recent tank, including as it did the stop-and-creep caused by the traffic accident, and the slow riding behind what seemed like every cement truck in Montgomery County.

I told Perry, if rain will kindly hold off on Wednesdays, he can expect me to bring the soprano to lessons for the rest of the summer. Gonna work on some Baroque oboe concerti!
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Well, the roof is replaced. And the eaves/sofits and the gutters, and a few bits of the siding trim. Energy-efficient white shingles, that will get us an energy tax credit on our next income tax return.

And Fern bunny is fine, after the application of quite a bit of money at the veterinarian.

All of which is to say, we're not going anywhere this summer. No RG in Pittsburgh, sorry M-friends. No Knit and Crochet Show in Buffalo. Nowhere that we can't drive to within a couple of hours and stay at someone's house for free.

We are fixing up the other house for sale, since we haven't had much luck renting it - it goes on the market in a week and a half. A bit of interior paint, repairs to the sidewalk, replace a couple doors, stuff like that. We won't get what we paid for it; we bought it at the peak of the market, and that's not going to come again any time this ten years. But we should clear enough on it, if all goes well, to pay off the mortgage on the current house, replenish savings that were depleted by the new roof, and maybe, just maybe, enough to let us replace the pink bathtub with something we can stand to look at with our glasses on. There's no chance it would be sold and closed on in time to use the money for any of the afore-mentioned summer travel, though.

Anyway, that's what's been happening around here lately. I've gotten in a bit of reading, some crocheting and knitting, and have written some reviews for the Tea Review Blog -check out the blog here:
and a few of my reviews, specifically, here:

And, just so this has a bit more content, a picture of the most recent sweater I finished:

I've already worn this one a couple times and people seem to like the little sunflower, even though [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet says it looks like a large-winged insect has landed on me.
bunrab: (Default)
Stalking the Vampire by Mike Resnick - second in his series about PI John Justin Mallory; I liked it better than the first (Stalking the Unicorn) - it made more sense as a mystery, if one can say that about farcical fantasy. Anyway, John Justin, aided by ex-military Winifred Carruthers and 90-pound cat-girl Felina, have to determine why Winifred's nephew seems to be turning into a vampire. This winds up involving several funeral homes with odd names not to mention the Vampire State Building. This is definitely the other Manhattan.

The Anteater of Death by Betty Webb. Who could resist a title like that? Not I, certainly. I hadn't enjoyed what little I'd read of Webb's "Desert" series, but this is a new series, taking place in a small zoo in California. It's still not a great book, or a great murder mystery, but it's OK, and the details about the animals and their care are interesting enough and funny enough to make up for the stereotypical nasty rich people who populate the surrounding town. Among other things, we get a giraffe giving birth, as well as the banana-obsessed anteater giving birth. Spoiler: neither the anteater nor the butler did it.

The Handicap Principle by Amotz and Avishag Zahavi. Probably the most boring pop-science book I've read in a while, partly because very little has been done to turn it from academese to pop. Excessively long to convey a fairly simple idea, the authors insist on dragging EVERY possible feature of an animal into play as a handicap for mating competitions, including, for pete's sake, why men have beards and women don't. The authors claim, you see, that it's because men fight a lot, and having a beard makes it easier for other men to grab them, so by displaying one, a man is claiming that he can win any fistfight, even with the handicap, thereby making him a more attractive mate. Women don't have beards because they don't get into fistfights. Honest, the authors say this!! Also, besides dragging their premise to absurd lengths, the book has crappy illustrations that do nothing for it. Would be much improved by editing out the more outrageous half of their claims, and filling the space with photos of the animals and some side-by-side comparison illustrations. Also including more rodents, perhaps overlooked here because so many of them aren't flashy and aren't terribly dimorphic in size and therefore would be difficult to stretch into the authors' thesis.

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. Known for her work with livestock animals, Grandin here adds pet animals to the mix, discussing how improving our pets' lives by considering their evolutionary environment can also improve our own lives. Some of it is redundant stuff from her other books. The chapter on cats is interesting - a good explanation of why, although cats and dogs are both "domesticated" animals, a cat is a lot less domesticated than a dog.

The Van Rijn Method by Poul Anderson, edited by Hank Davis - a collection of some of the Van Rijn and Falkayn stories, nothing one hasn't read before, but with introductions to each explaining a little more of the big picture of Anderson's future history. Also, at the end, a very good timeline showing how the Polesotechnic League develops and dissolves and the eventual development of the Empire period of Ensign Flandry.

The Fourth Time is Murder by Steven Havill - grabbed at random off library shelves, looking for more to read, this turns out to be a recent volume in a long-established series. It takes place in the Southwest - New Mexico, near the Mexican border - but is NOT, thank goodness, another attempt to be a Hillerman clone. (I get tired of those - all the Hillerman wannabes who toss in a Navajo and a mention of Navajo religion, and then expect that we'll all enjoy their books just because of that, regardless of how superficial or unrealistic it otherwise is.) Main protagonist is a woman under-sheriff. Plot is based around a financial scam we only slowly find out about; side plots include illegal immigrants, perhaps unavoidable given the location.

The Golden Age of Novelty Songs by Steve Otfinoski. Although it hits most of the high points, I can't entirely agree with a book that devotes almost an entire chapter to Alvin and the Chipmunks and only a couple of sentences to "Camp Grenada." And in the chapter about Christmas novelty songs, he doesn't even MENTION "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" - hmph! Includes photos, and does include things you might not instantly think of in the novelty song genre - Cheech and Chong, and William Fries (better known as C.W. McColl), along with the ones you would instantly think of - Napoleon XIV, Homer & Jethro, The Chad Mitchell Trio (my favorites! for their song "Lizzie Borden.")

There, now I'm only a couple weeks behind on the news.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Rehearsals have started up again for the fall this week, so less reading now than in the summer; here's the last of the summer's reading:
FMy Big Fat Supernatural Wedding edited by PN Elrod - most of the stories in here are part of each author's series, and several are not understandable if you haven't been following the series. Oddly enough, the Jim Butcher is the opposite - the story features Harry Dresden, but it works as a standalone, BUT - if you read Small Favor and wondered where the heck Sigrun Gard the Valkyrie came from - why Harry seemed to know her - well, the short story in this book is where he first meets her.
FUndead and Unworthy - MJ Davidson - latest in her Betsy the Vampire Queen series. Wedded bliss does not automatically bring peace and calm to Betsy's life, especially since she's being haunted by the ghost of her late stepmother The Ant.
FThe Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog by Nancy Ellis-Bell - actually a macaw, not a parrot, and it's one of those problematic tales by someone who goes too far in turning over the running of their life to their pets rather than the humans being in control. I love animals too, but hey, the person who buys and pays for the house is supposed to be the boss over the little under-20-pound critters who share it.
FOn Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not Robert Burton MD. Wow, this one definitely is food for thought. What he discusses is the "feeling of knowing" that we have, and where in the brain it arises, and why. To give an example, we probably all at one time or another have been quite sure we put our keys in a particular place, and when they are not there, we get quite upset, perhaps even going so far as to accuse someone else in the household of moving them, because we KNOW where we put them down - we even remember the action of doing it. And then, later, when we find them in our jacket pocket, we suddenly remember oh yeah, we did change them - but that realization doesn't change the fact that before that, we KNEW, with the same certainty, something which wasn't actually the factual case. (This is where having pets comes in handy: when stuff isn't where you remember putting it, you automatically blame it on the cat, rather than on the significant other; this spares you the anger of the other person for being blamed, and spares you the humiliation of having to apologize to them later when you do find the keys. Every couple should have a pet to blame memory lapses on.) So Burton points out, that same feeling of KNOWING is involved in everything from religious belief, to political opinions, to writing history. The fact that we have a feeling of certainty that we're right does not actually have very much to do with whether we are right or not, and we would all do well to remember that any time we start trying to demand that other people change to do things our way because our way is right.
FThe Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less - Barry Schwartz - slightly older book (2004) but quite relevant; the consumer society of too many options causes less freedom and more depression than societies with fewer choices experience.
FThen She Found Me - Elinor Lipman - mildly humorous romance, one of the recommendations from 1001 Books for every Mood mentioned a couple posts back.
FHere Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations - Clay Shirky - less naively enthused about kids than Negroponte; includes both anecdotes about internet organizing and some sociological research on how the availability of social tools is changing how we each present ourselves, who we choose to associate with, and what social/political positions we're willing to stand up for.
bunrab: (capybara)
Here's Ike:

The college student across the street works part time for a vet; Ike came into the vet to get put to sleep because he wasn't a girl (and the owner's other guinea pig was), and instead TK brought him home, then didn't know who to give him to - fortuitously, we happened to stop to pet her dogs and chat, and voila! Ike is now ours. He's an adult pigster, probably at least 2 years old judging by his size and his claws and ears.

In a way, this is also fate, because Lamarck chinnie passed away the other day. Unknown causes - he was only 6 years old, barely middle age for a chinchilla. He was a bit sluggish in the evening and didn't want his dried fruit treat; he was dead the next morning. He was definitely the friendlier of the pair, and it will take some time to get Darwin to adjust. We will try to get Darwin and Chippy to get along. We will miss that little squirrel-on-steroids!
bunrab: (alien reading)
Alan Alda - Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself - mostly, bragging about what wonderful college graduation speeches he gives and repeats the gist of them. It's OK, but it's not anything that will inspire you to mindblowing new ideas.

Daniel H Wilson - Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived - a lot of fun. Jetpacks actually were invented, although so impractical that thus far even the extreme sports fans haven't really taken them up. However, as the author says, "Wherever a dangerous new technology exists, there is a guy with cool goggles and streaky blond hair waiting to shatter his fibula."

Blaize Clement - Even Cat-Sitters Get the Blues - third in the series about Dixie Hemingway, pet-sitter. This time, she's more of an iguana-sitter than a cat-sitter. And there's a mad scientist, in a more or less realistic fashion rather than cartoon fashion. She sort of overstates the similarities between iguanas and chickens, though; their last common ancester wasn't THAT recent.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Our new hedgehog is Vladimir Herschel Hedgehog. Pictures coming soon. He's 7 weeks old, as cute as any hedgie, still a tad shy, but not at all afraid of Dexter. It's pretty funny watching Dexter try to figure out what to make of him!

The usual Russian nickname for Vladimir is, IIRC, Valadya (alt. sp. Volodya) but we'll probably call him Vlad or Dim (which, one hates to admit, applies to hedgies in general).
bunrab: (squirrel_sweater)
Okay, the last post that wasn't a meme or something was while we were in MA for my cousin's wedding. So here's some pictures:
the George Washington Bridge )

My cousin gets married )

Knitting )

Oktoberfest )

back in September )

That catches us up, I think, on everything except books. I've gotta catch up on those yet.
bunrab: (Sniffy)
A watched pot never boils, but an unwatched pot boils a hell of a lot faster than you thought it would. Oh well, the kitchen floor needed mopping anyway.

Another note to self: do not leave invoices and receipts where HamsterCat can get to them. How something with carnivore dentition manages to do that much damage to paper with his teeth is something I don't quite understand. He's been taking too many lessons from the chinchillas.

And further note to self, speaking of HamsterCat, I must try to track down where he is getting his endless supply of tenor saxophone parts, which he brings to the living room and shreds there. There must be a stack of sheet music somewhere, but I have no idea where!
bunrab: (Default)

Saturday, September 25, 2004

These last couple days I have eaten WAAAY too much sodium. It has been a busy week: one of my pet guinea pigs is performing in a play at the university where I teach (long story, but she's filling in for the part of Groucho the kitten, in Act 1 Scene 1 of "You Can't Take It With You.") So Friday was: teach class, run to the Quilt Show for my volunteer shift, realize I hadn't eaten lunch and wasn't going to get dinner till late at night, so I bought food at the concession stand at the quilt show. Needless to say, concession stands in public venues don't have low-sodium foods; they all tend toward the frankfurter-frito pie-popcorn end of things. So I had a chili dog. Then after the show, I ran home, we dropped Persephone off at the theatre, and went to hear the symphony, for which we had tickets. Then we drove back to the theatre, picked Persephone up, brought her home, and finally had supper. Today, I had time for a real lunch, but not the energy, after the two days of doing stuff all day, for a good homemade dinner, so after volunteering at the quilt show - and possibly stirring up a little business for my medical ID bracelets :-) -- we dropped Purr (her nickname) off at the theatre, and had fried shrimp for supper at a Vietnamese place in the poor-Hispanic-and-black area of Austin. Good shrimp, came with french fries and shrimp-fried-rice. I feel reasonably certain that the rice alone contained more than 2000 mg of sodium.

This fiscal year I'll be on the state retirement system's insurance plan; unfortunately, its prescription benefit is not quite as good as the city health plan, so I'll be paying more for most of my prescriptions. For starters, there's a $50 deductible per year per script. Ick. I keep thinking about the mail order part of the plan, where one can get 3 months for the price of two - but the last time I tried that, I constantly had to worry about stuff getting left out in the Texas summer heat and humidity. I'll have to see if this plan would be willing to ship via Post Office rather than UPS, so I could have it delivered to my PO Box, where it would stay indoors till I picked it up, rather than out on my back porch, subject to weather, passers-by, and who knows what-all. Sigh, another thing to remember to check on.

I get the new crown, to replace the one that fell off a rear molar a few weeks ago, on Monday. I guess I'm lucky; as long as I don't need dental work that requires general anesthesia, there's nothing in all these medications that interferes with dental work. Local anesthesia is fine, and should I perchance need painkillers and/or antibiotics, CHF and its medications are not incompatible with the opiod painkillers like Hydrocodone, nor with antibiotics. There are some heart conditions where dental work would be a lot more tricky. As long as I can still take acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) for mild pain, and hydrocodone or oxycodone for more serious pain, it doesn't bother me at all that I can't take any of the aspirin/__profen painkillers.

Anyway, after the last few days - and tomorrow will be just as bad, since there's Quilt Show, a matinee at the theatre, and, if it's not pouring rain, the community band I play in will be playing a concert in the park in the evening, so I'm sure we'll be catching whatever the heck food we can -- I think next week will be a mostly fruit salad sort of week. I'll just go buy a whole bunch of late peaches, early apples, early pears, a few bananas, and so forth, and have those for lunch every day. Whee!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Whoo hoo! My ejection fraction is up to 25%!! Still not healthy, but a significant improvement over 15-20%!!!

bunrab: (Default)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Not fluid in the lungs, says the cardiologist's nurse. Could be anemia. But to order the blood tests for that, I have to go to my regular health care provider (family doctor). So I'm over to there in a couple days, so he can see me and order a complete blood count (CBC). It never hurts to have one of those once a year anyway, and my last one was January 2003!! I though one had been done since then - I've had blood drawn several times, but apparently it was all for more narrowly focused tests.

Liz, Gizmo says hello. The piggies say, where's the love?

Ya know, chasing a 13-pound rabbit around the room can make one short of breath even when there's not fluid in the lungs. In fact, chasing any pet rabbit can do that. Last weekend we took Fred & Ethel, the 9-lb French lops, to a party. All the humans had to keep fairly close eyes on their bunnies to keep arguments from starting- rabbits do not get along with strangers instantly. Although Fred and Sherman, the 16-lb Flemish Giant, did in fact get along instantly - they both decided to go sit in someone else's pet carrier, snuggled up together, glaring out at the world. Catching bunnies to put them back in their own carriers when the party was over was a challenge. Chasing, dragging bunnies out from under furniture...

Then this past week, I was suddenly all short of breath again. I hadn't gained any weight that I could tell, but I had all the symptoms of fluid in the lungs again. I called the doctor; got advice from the nurses to take double dose of furosemide (Lasix) for a couple days and see if that helped. I think it's helped a little, but I'm headed in to their office tomorrow morning to have them take a listen. I can't think of any reason for this to suddenly occur. Because it did, though, I wanted to avoid any restaurant food, even the stuff that's relatively low in salt, so I made several meals at home this weekend. Had friends over for a batch of the cashew chili (recipe somewhere below), and then tonight made a turkey meat loaf using the spice packet from Healthy Heart Market. Luckily, I had just ordered a bunch of stuff from Pete there, and had low-so cornbread mix to go with the chili.

One of our friends also gave us a couple of pounds of pecans from his back yard. I got several boxes of the Sweet N Low cake mixes from HHM, and I've been making those, throwing in a large handful of pecans to each. Works quite well. Advice: use a smaller pan than they say - if you use an 8" x 8" pan, you will have a thin, dry, flat cake. Use a 8" round pan or a 7" square pan (those come out to within an inch of the same area, if you're wondering- 7" square is 49 square inches of pan, and 8" round is just over 50 square inches) and cook for 30 minutes, rather than 8" square at 25 minutes, and they come out just fine.

Also resorted to making fruit salad again to go to a party; hey, it's hard to go wrong, and so much party food is out of the question. Our hostess did boil one batch of crawdads without any seasoning salt, but the corn on the cob had salt, and the potato salad, and of course all the pickles and olives. So I had crawdads, carrot sticks, and fruit salad.

Anyway, now to use up some more of my limited energy cleaning bunny litter trays. Good thing they're cute buns- they have to be, to be worth this much work!

bunrab: (Default)

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I was really bad this evening- we ate Mexican, and I went ahead and had chips and queso. I am sooo tired of being good. I know most people break their diets far more often than I do. Mostly I'm happy with the fruit-and-nuts deal; I really like fruit, and summer is a great time for it. But all of a sudden I had this craving for queso. It was blocking all other thought out of my mind. I just HAD to give in. I suspect I'll have a rough night tonight; luckily, I don't have to be at school tomorrow until 2 p.m. This is the first time that I've had chips and queso since last December. Curra's, one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, serves their queso with lots of pico de gallo, guacamole, and ground beef in it. Mmmmmmmm.

I spent about three days' worth of spare time building a new cage for Chili the chinchilla. Turns out that Gizmo, our largest rabbit, could hop right up on top of Chili's old cage, sorta dangerous for Gizmo not to mention alarming to Chili. New cage is 3.5 feet tall, I think it will stop Gizmo in his tracks. It gives Chili more room to bounce, too, and I made it with an area tall enough for a 14" running wheel, something most commercial cages don't have room for. Chili will get more exercise than I do. He is 11 years old now, quite middle aged for a chinchilla, so he needs exercise at least as much as I do. (Average lifespan of chinchillas, depending on who you read, is anywhere from 12 to 18 years.) I still don't exercise much; it's BORING. Now, chasing down the chinchilla when he's having floor time, to get him back in his cage for the night, that's exercise I don't mind. It's amazing how nimble a 2-pound rodent can be!

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Tuesday nights are Band rehearsals. I play in the volunteer municipal band, an organization for people who never outgrew marching band. We've rehearsed every Tuesday evening except 6 weeks each summer for 21 years now. The band is getting greyer - there are some new members every year, but the core of people who started out 20+ years ago are all, well, 20+ years older. The guy who sits next to me had a heart attack a couple years ago. He has not lost weight since then, though - I worry about him. I've lost over 30 pounds since getting diagnosed with heart failure. I hope it will do me some good. One thing I noticed when rehearsals started up a couple weeks ago was the difference between my energy levels this year and last year at the same time. In August 2002, when rehearsals started, I hadn't been diagnosed yet, and we were still struggling to find out why I was always so short of breath. The corridor leading from the outside to the band hall is an uphill one; last year, in the length of a corridor that's only a hundred feet or so, I had to stop and rest 3 or 4 times along the way as I headed to the band hall. This year, while I still wouldn't want to sprint, especially while carrying 30 pounds of tenor saxophone, case, music, accessories, etc., I can walk quite steadily up the corridor without stopping. That's a vast improvement, due almost entirely to the diuretics clearing out my lungs.

The same sort of thing occurred at the Mensa RG in the previous post. The hotel where Lonestar holds its RGs has a set of stairs leading to the meeting rooms; the stairs wind around, 4 stairs, then a landing and a turn and 4 stairs in a different direction, then another landing and turn, and so on. Last year, I had to stop on every one of those landings and rest. This year, although I still wouldn't try and bound up the stairs 2 at a time, I could walk steadily up the stairs without stopping.

I still don't have as much energy as I'd like to, especially when the weather is really, really hot. I still need a nap every afternoon, and tend to sleep 10 or more hours a day rather than 7 or 8. But being able to breathe normally is a vast improvement in quality of life.

On nights when we have rehearsals, we tend to eat out before rehearsals. A pizza place called Frank & Angie's has a 2-for-1 special on individual pepperoni pizzas, the 10" kind. Now, pizza is basically a large lump of sodium and fat - cheese, pepperoni; the crust has salt in it, and tomato sauce is LOADED with salt. But these pizzas have relatively small amounts of tomato sauce, and I pick off half the pepperoni. And all I eat during the day before that is fruit and nuts - no sodium whatsoever during the day. So I have my entire 2000 mg allowance available to blow on the pizza. It's worth it to me. Especially during the summer, when plums and peaches and nectarines and pluots are 99 cents a pound, I have no trouble at all sticking to fresh fruit. I buy unsalted nuts in bulk, usually hazelnuts (filberts). So 3 pieces of fruit and a dozen nuts or so (a handful is anywhere from 8-15 nuts, depending on the type of nut and the angle I reach into the container) is lunch. There are lots worse ways to meet one's daily servings according to the food pyramid!

Monday, September 01, 2003

Wow, here I haven't been for nearly a week. Sorry about that. I spent the weekend at a Mensa Regional Gathering, which stands for "let's invade an unsuspecting hotel, hold chocolate tastings, and stay in the hot tub till way after hours." Mostly, I was eating junk food from the hospitality suite, but the guy running hospitality did make some macaroni salad with no salt in it, so I had some of that. And the Bananas Foster (ever seen flaming bananas made in a crock pot?) was good.

I was presenting a workshop at the RG (crafts, nothing y'all would be interested in) and someone took pictures. It was amazing to see myself in the photos- I had not realized just how much difference 30 pound weight loss would mean. I look way different. And people who hadn't seen me since last Labor Day weekend noticed the difference - that was nice. (Austin holds a regional gathering Labor Day weekend, Dallas does theirs Thanksgiving weekend, Houston does theirs Memorial Day. About 80% of the people who go to each are the same people - and if you want to travel, you could attend a Mensa RG every weekend of the year somewhere in the country. All of which would feature chocolate and hot tubs, and pretty much none of which would feature any evidence of high intelligence. I don't go to any RGs but our own; I'm not that much of a party animal.)

'Scuse me, my hearing aid battery is beeping "I'm dying" at me - gotta go.

bunrab: (Default)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

One of the things that bugs me about heart failure is the limit on drinking fluids. In the summer, I canNOT stick to 8 cups of fluid a day. I also get bummed about being allowed only one cup of caffeinated black tea a day, caffeine being a heart stimulant and therefore, theoretically, bad for me. I personally feel that doing without tea entirely would make me feel much worse; caffeine is good for my brain, if not my heart! But if it's only one cup, it's going to be a good one. Here are my favorite places to buy tea:
Harney and Sons
Plymouth Tea
Thousand Cranes Tea

Also, some nice, inexpensive green teas (less caffeine) at Salada - this is a brand I used to be able to buy all the time when I lived up north; Salada was our everyday brand when I lived in New York. Down here in Texas, supermarkets don't seem to have it, so I order it online. Since it makes sense to order at least 6 boxes at a time, I order some for me, and some for the kitchenette in the Faculty Resource Center at school. Bringing in boxes of scented and/or flavored tea for the gang makes me popular... I can skimp on throwing quarters into the jar that goes to buy cups and coffee.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Well, I didn't get much done this week, did I. The faculty meetings took up more time than I thought, the air conditioning for the upstairs half of our house went out, and the internet access at school slowed down to a lame snail with a gritty shell. I spent all day Thursday at home, waiting for the AC repair guy, unable to use my computer because all the pets who normally live upstairs were downstairs in the library. "All the pets" includes 5 rabbits, 5 guinea pigs, a chinchilla, 2 hedgehogs, a cockatiel, and a cat. And then, once the repair guy finished, spent most of Friday, except when I was at school for yet another meeting/presentation, cleaning and re-arranging the animal cages, then returning the animals to their usual room. I make cages myself, and one of them is a huge cage with several levels, a 28" by 42" cage with an upper shelf (for another 4 square feet) for two of the rabbits, Fred and Ethel, and then on top of that, two more single levels, for the boy guinea pigs and the girl guinea pigs. Originally, those 8-square-feet cages held 4 guinea pigs apiece; we are down to two of each (Flo lives with Gizmo bunny, not with the piggies. She thinks she's a rabbit.) and they could get by with less space. We have two slightly smaller rabbit cages for one bunny apiece, with about 5 square feet of space on the ground floor plus a shelf for about another 2 square feet. So I took the top two cages off the big rabbit cage, and then built new single levels on each single rabbit cage, for the guinea pigs. So now each pair o' pigs has 5 square feet; everything is much easier to clean; the "big cage" is much lighter and easier to move, while the two smaller cages are heavier than they were, but still lighter than the big cage. All around easier to manage, plus everybody gets more sunlight. Email me if you want lots more information on pet rabbits, pet guinea pigs, pet hedgehogs, pet chinchillas, and building cages - I've got a whole separate web site just for cages.

And now I have a cold. Felt it coming on last night. This is a real bummer, because I can't use Sudafed or any other brand of pseudoephedrine or any other type of decongestant. They are all stimulants, and strictly bad news for heart failure patients. Decongestants can cause arrhythmia and/or accelerated heartbeat. So I just have to sit here and let my nose drip. It's disgusting. I am going to go move away from the keyboard before it gets sticky with sneezes; I'll be back when the risk of sneezing on the moving parts goes down.

Monday, August 18, 2003

This week is the break between summer and fall semesters. No classes, just faculty meetings. So maybe I'll have time to post a little more this week.

It was my turn to do dinner last Friday, so I tried something out of a cookbook I just got: Hungarian Goulash from No Salt, No Sugar, No Fat Cookbook. It wasn't bad at all. I found some yolkless egg noodles at Central Market, thereby reducing the cholesterol; on the other hand, I used low-fat yogurt rather than fat free. To me, it's worth it- the taste of fat-free just really turns me off. Same for sour cream, if I were to use sour cream instead of the yogurt. It's not a great cookbook, but it's a decent one for the price, $8.95. There's no pictures, that's a disadvantage. On the other hand, there is a section about stocking your pantry that could be very useful to most people.

My pantry tends to be heavy on canned NSA (no salt added) mushrooms, NSA tomato sauce, NSA chickpeas (garbanzo beans), pasta, brown rice, and couscous. So from the non-perishables I can put together something - mushrooms, chickpeas and rice with chili powder, mushrooms, chickpeas and rice with curry powder, pasta with tomato sauce and mushrooms - with no planning needed. Almost as fast as nuking a frozen dinner, with lots less fat and sodium. My freezer usually has a couple packages of turkey "cutlets" and some extra lean stew beef, which is also useful for stir-frying if you slice it up very thin. Some no-salt stir-fry sauce, the meat, and a package of pre-sliced veggies, and there's a meal, flavor varying by which sauce I use. The only work is slicing up the turkey or beef. I imagine one could use tofu for this too - I haven't tried it. If you use tofu, be SURE to check the sodium content - it varies wildly from brand to brand and style to style.

Vegetable broth. They sell low-sodium chicken broth and low-sodium beef broth, powdered or in cubes, but no one locally stocks powder or cubes of lo-so vegetable broth. Since we have a lot of vegetarian friends, I like to use vegetable broth. So what do I do? Well, the world's easiest is to save the liquid next time you open a can of lo-so green beans, a can of lo-so tomatoes and a can of lo-so corn. Freeze the liquid in an ice cube tray and take out a couple of cubes and nuke them for your broth. If you don't open them all at the same time, freeze them in layers- distribute the green bean liquid among all the spots in the tray, let it freeze, then when you get around to the corn, pour it right over the green bean ice, etc. That way each cube will still have a mix of vegetables in it. This works for almost any combination of vegetables; it doesn't have to be the ones I've listed here. If the canned vegetables you usually buy are mushrooms and Veg-All, that works. Use a different color ice cube tray than your regular ones, or place it in an entirely different spot in the freezer, so that someone doesn't accidentally drop veggie cubes into their iced tea.

Speaking of Veg-All, that's a source of a thicker vegetable base, for vegetarian stews. Pour the can of no-salt-added Veg-All, liquid and all, into the blender or food processor, and liquify it all, till you have a smooth puree. Then freeze it, as before. When you take out several cubes for a stew, you may even want to add a little water as you defrost the cubes. This also works as a half-decent starting point for rattatouille, gazpacho, and other vegetarian dishes.

Another method of producing quick vegetable broth, that I read of but haven't tried, is to buy the dried veggie bits sold in the spice aisles of the supermarket- usually, one can find dried parsley, dried bell (green) peppers, and dried carrot flakes. Dump small amounts of each into your measuring cup of cool tap water, then bring it to a boil. The dried veggies need no refrigeration, just keep them on your spice shelf. (And they also make great treats for pet rabbits and guinea pigs - I've used them for that purpose often!)

Monday, August 11, 2003

Looks like I've finally straightened out a hassle with my HMO. They weren't going to pay for some lab tests- ones which get done every few months, and which they have paid for before and since; they just weren't paying the April ones. Since I need to go get the tests done again this month, I had to get this straightened out, or the lab wouldn't do anything for me! So it turns out that the wrong billing code for the digoxin and magnesium levels were used. There's more than one code for those tests, depending on the diagnosis. So, I got the nurse specialist who originally asked for the tests to phone the lab and correct their codes, then they rebilled my HMO, which appears to have paid for everything now except for $17.60. No explanation of why they won't pay that part, but hey, if that goes unresolved, I can pay it. That's a lot more reasonable than some $255 that was outstanding before (not just the digoxin and magnesium, but that entire lab visit, were going unpaid, even though the incorrect codes were only on those two items.)

More about digoxin soon; it's next on my list AFTER I grade some exams, some final projects, file some more papers with the Employees Retirement System trying to get disability retirement, prepare some materials for a presentation, and attend three faculty meetings. Whee.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Whew. It's been a week. I've been making final exams, administering exams, and grading exams. I'm almost done, luckily.
One of the courses I teach is HTML & JavaScript. I'm not sure how much JavaScript the blog software supports, but let's give it a try.
Body mass index is a measure of height and weight. Body Mass Index between 25 and 29.9 is "overweight", and greater than or equal to 30 is "obese." BMI between 19 and 25 is normal, and below 19 is underweight. It should be noted that underweight people are more susceptible to some health problems too, though not as many as overweight people.
To calculate your Body Mass Index, take your weight (in kilograms), and divide by your height (in meters) squared. Or, if the JavaScript works, try the little form below, which uses feet and inches and pounds.

Enter your height:

Feet: and Inches

Enter your weight in pounds:

Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is:

And now the fun part: for a given BMI, what does your weight need to be?

Enter the BMI you'd like to have:

To achieve the desired BMI, your weight should be:

If the form above doesn't work, I've also put it on some of my own web space, so you can try it here.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Today's link: Cholesterol drugs improve strange heart problem.

A quote from the article:
Drugs that are commonly used to lower cholesterol levels appear to improve a mysterious type of heart disease with an unknown cause.

The disease, known as idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDC), results in an enlarged heart that doesn't pump properly. Unlike the most common type of heart disease, IDC is not due to a blockage of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. Although less common than other heart problems, it is the number one reason people get a heart transplant.

Statins, which include Pravachol and Lipitor, are frequently given to patients with high cholesterol levels. In addition, they have been shown to be useful for patients with heart disease involving the coronary arteries. However, it was unclear if statins were beneficial for IDC.

IDC is how my heart failure occurred, and probably the same for many of you - your heart is enlarged, no one knows why. Although they refer to it as "strange" it's strange in the sense of unknown cause, not in the sense of rare - because it's pretty common!

Bad, bad BunRab! I had a baked potato with butter on it at lunch, and Chinese food for supper which undoubtedly had some salt in the sauce. I didn't eat all the rice, soaked in all the sauce, however, as I used to do; I took each prawn and each snowpea and each walnut and sorta wiped the sauce off against my rice, before eating each piece. I spent part of the morning helping to empty folders of old music; I play in the volunteer municipal band, and we start rehearsals again in only 3 and a half weeks or so, so it's time to get last year's music back in the envelopes and new folders full of new music, all shiny and unwrinkled, made up. We have about 90 people in the band, and since many of us are over 40 and wearing bifocals, that means separate folders for just about everyone, since few of us can see well enough to share a stand. I'll be happy to start up this season feeling MUCH better than I did last year at this time, when I hadn't been diagnosed, and was coughing all the time and gasping for breath a lot, which is not conducive to playing the tenor saxophone. Now if only I knew my teaching schedule for next semester yet (which starts at about the same time), I'd be all set!

Friday, August 01, 2003

Ugh, it's been several days. Since I have started taking the spironolactone, I've been sleeping 12 to 16 hours a day, which starts leaving me with too little time to do things. (I've even been sleeping through meals!) So I put a call in to the doc, see if I can go off it again - whatever benefit it's supposed to incur, I think being asleep through most of the day outweighs that benefit.

Anyway, back to beta blockers. Let's see if I can redo my long post.

Adrenaline isn't just one thing, it's actually several. And the receptors for it around the body aren't just one kind, there are several. There are alpha-adrenergic receptors, and several kinds of beta-adrenergic receptors. Different areas of the body have different balances of these. When adrenaline hits the heart, it stimulates it to beat faster and harder - the famed fight-or-flight response. For a person with heart failure and a tendency toward tachycardia and/or arrhythmia, this is not good. So the class of drugs generally called beta-blockers, works to prevent the adrenaline from being received by the heart, so the heart won't be overstimulated.

OK. Beta blockers generally block one or more of the beta-adrenergic hormones. Beta blockers can be recognized by their generic names, which all end in lol. As in, acebutelol, bisoprolol, labetalol, etc. There are also drugs that are solely alpha-adrenergic blockers, but they don't end in lol. Terazosin, for example, is an alpha blocker used for hypertension and benign prostate hyperplasia. Most of the beta blockers are used as anti-hypertensives, anti-angina, and as anti-arrhythmics. And most of them aren't prescribed for CHF; in fact, most of them carry warnings that people taking them for other heart problems may develop CHF! Some are used for specific other purposes - timolol, for example, is used to treat glaucoma - it reduced the pressure of fluid in the eye. It's used on animals as well as humans - I know several dogs and rabbits who have had their eyes treated with timolol. That's one of the ones that carries CHF as a possible risk. Propanolol is one of the oldest of the beta-blocker class, and has been prescribed for angina and hypertension for nearly 40 years (brand name Inderal). It's also one that carries CHF as a possible risk.

On the other hand, carvedilol (brand name Coreg) is both an alpha and beta blocker, blocking more than one type of beta receptor. This was the first beta blocker approved for treating CHF, only a few years ago. Another one, metoprolol XL form, has been approved since then. Several studies have shown that carvedilol gives significant survival benefits to patients with advanced or severe heart failure; one study showed that it reduced death rates by 35%. This is probably the single most significant improvement in mortality rates and in hospitalization rates of any of the drugs prescribed for CHF. Despite the possible disadvantages, it's definitely worth taking.

Now the downsides of carvedilol. There's an extremely long titration period. Titration is the fifty-cent word for ramp-up, that is, building up to the therapeutic dose. Starting out on a full dose right away is guaranteed to make you feel a lot worse, and so many people wouldn't comply with continuing to take it. The ramp-up allows you to get used to the side effects more gradually. It takes about 10 weeks, starting at 3.125 mg and doubling every couple of weeks, to get to 25 mg twice a day. Even at the low dose, fatigue, tiredness, lethargy and slow heart rate are expected side effects. They gradually wear off - then come back for a few days each time the dose is doubled. So it's about three months before you really begin to feel better. One should be taking one's blood pressure and pulse every morning, and if your pulse rate falls below 60, let the doctor know. Also, since the purpose of this drug is, in part, to slow the heart rate, one should not be doing exercises that call for a high target heart rate. No aerobics. Doctors recommend walking, yoga, and swimming (as long as you're not trying to do them competitively, high-powered and high-pressured) as exercises that keep you moving and flexible, without pushing your heart into fighting with the beta-blockers. One should also have one's digoxin levels measured regularly while taking beta-blockers.

There's your bunch of trivia for the day. Wasn't that exciting?

bunrab: (Sniffy)
Alas, it often happens in guinea pigs that when one of a pair passes away, the companion pines away soon after - they are very social animals, and long-time companions bond together deeply. So it seems to have happened. Persephone, known as Purr for short, passed away last night. Since we haven't buried Boots yet, we'll be able to bury them together. Purr was somewhere over 6 years old - she was an adult already when we got her, as a rescue animal, so we don't know her exact age.

Long-time friends may remember Persephone as the theatre star. She was chock-full of personality, active, and cute (of course). She loved all kinds of treats, as well as making the biggest mess possible with her water bottle.

We are now momentarily sans guinea pigs, which of course can't last. Since we will be out of town, visiting Texas, for a week starting April 22, we will wait until we return, after the 29th, to adopt another couple of guinea pigs. They won't be "replacements" of course - since no two piggles are ever the same - but they will add that necessary guinea pig presence in our lives. Both the Howard County and Harford County shelters almost always have some guinea pigs, so we don't forsee a problem being able to do a mitzvah and enrich our lives as soon as we get back.

More about the upcoming Austin trip soon.
bunrab: (Sniffy)
Boots passed away this evening, around midnight. He was a little over 4 years old. Long-haired guinea pigs tend not to live as long as short-haired ones, and Boots was a Silkie - a Himalayan Silkie at that. He was gorgeous. Dumb, but cute enough to get away with having no brains. Himalayans have chocolate "points" like Siamese cats, except of course for the tail, and otherwise pure white fur (rather than the cream/tan that Siamese cats have). Silkies have hair that doesn't quite grow as long as Peruvians, and it doesn't grow forward over their eyes; instead, it grows back in a sort of sweep, with a clear part down the middle. Guinea pigs tend to get old very suddenly - no long old age; they're middle-aged until one day suddenly they start sleeping more (although they're still active when awake), eating less, and losing weight fast, and it's usually only a few days to, at most, a few weeks, before they pass. (I had one guinea pig who got arthritis, and lived for a couple more years after that anyway, but other than arthritis, he didn't exhibit any signs of old age until the end. I miss Rover.) Anyway, Boots followed that pattern - he just slowed down and only ate a little bit at Sunday evening's snack, and then slowed down more.

We'll miss him; he was shy, but once he got picked up, he was fun to pet. He didn't wheek as loudly as Persephone does, but he always made sure that he didn't get ignored when the treats were being handed out. He was one of those piggies who can lose a treat just by dropping it, but he always eventually found them again. He was, in short, a very piggly piggle.

Sleep well, Boots.
bunrab: (Default)
First, the promised-last-week Amazon.com review of Harry Turtledove's Beyond the Gap. Next, also reviewed on Amazon.com, although it's a crafts book, there is text in it, which I read, and even learned a few new finishing techniques for small cross-stitch pieces, is Mini Cushions in Cross Stitch: 30 Original Designs to Make by Sheena Rogers.

Then, also finished my on-again, off-again reading of Atheist Universe by David Mills, which is subtitled "The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism." There are some good points in the book, and some ways to give quick, yet scientific, answers to people who claim there are miracles, or who tell one that one is going to hell. However, Mills has a tendency to confuse the Intelligent Design anti-evolution movement with Fundamentalism as a whole, and there are much better resources than this book available if one is specifically setting out to counter the IDers.

I've also just re-read the entire Liaden Universe series, except for the two Crystal prequels, which may account for the increased sentence length in this entire post. It's probably not a good idea, in general, to re-read Brust's Viscount of Adrilankha series and then Lee & Miller's Liaden series, in such quick succession, as both leave one talking funny and with a strange impulse to bow when greeting people.

Other stuff:
Boots guinea pig is getting elderly and slowing down fast; usually when this happens, it's not long, unfortunately. Boots is a long-haired breed, a Silkie - and a Himalayan Silkie, at that - and it's my experience that the long-haired breeds always seem to be more fragile and short-lived than the short-hairs or silly-hairs. I think it's all that effort and calorie consumption that goes into producing the beautiful hair, instead of building up body reserves and strength. We are coddling him in what we expect are his last days, chopping up carrots into smaller bits, giving him applesauce, and just generally talking to him lots.

Which is how I spent yesterday, alternating building a new, larger, cage for the Funnybunnies (Farfalle and Domino) with talking to and feeding Boots. The Funnybunnies seem to like the new cage - it is half again larger, and has two upper levels to hop around on, instead of just one. I'm still waiting for the metal litter tray I've ordered, since they've just about chewed the current plastic one down to the ground (they go through entire plastic litter trays in 3-4 months). I will take pictures sometime real soon.


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