Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Romy

John had cats for most of his life. After moving here and spending a year cat-less, he declared that we were getting a cat. I had no idea what I was in for. I’d never had a pet before, and wasn’t all that comfortable around friends’ pets. I did have some comfort with Caly, John’s last cat in SoCal, but she was very much John’s cat. I actually got quite upset about the prospect: what if it didn’t work out? What if the cat destroyed everything I own? Will there be cat hair everywhere and will I go crazy trying to clean it? What if the cat doesn’t like me? This was a big commitment, and I knew the cat would be with us as long as it lived. I knew I couldn’t give it away if/when times were tough.

John is very much a cat person: all cats like him. The goal was to try and find a cat that liked me, too. Or at the very least, tolerated me. We visited the SPCA and also the Pet Corral (local pet store near our house) which featured SPCA cats for adoption. The Pet Corral keeps their cats in a glass enclosure, so there is no place to interact. You have to request the cat be brought out, and then hold him. You can’t put him down on the ground because he’d just wander around smelling everything. It wasn’t an ideal way to try and see if you could bond with a cat. That added to my reticence.

On the top left corner of the glassed-in enclosure, on a short cat tree with a half-circle carpeted top, sat a big gray tabby who, on the couple of times we visited him, was usually sleeping. He seemed pretty chill and was an adult – starting me out with a kitten wasn’t a great idea. We visited him approximately 3 times before making the decision. His paperwork, which was disorganized and possibly wrong, said he was a surrender from a family who moved and couldn’t keep him. His name was QQ and he was approximately 2 years old. He never seemed to respond to that name, though.

It was the Victoria Day weekend in May, and we filled out the adoption paperwork. We were accepted and made arrangements to pick him up on the holiday. Since the store owners had to come in and check on the animals, they said we might as well come in and get him that day.  We took him home, and put him in the basement with some food and water. He seemed pretty calm, walked around and sniffed at everything, and relaxed. We thought we might need to leave him in the basement to get adjusted for a few days, but we ended up bringing him upstairs within a few hours. It was as though he deemed this place to be good for his needs, and got busy doing cat things like smelling and sleeping.

We didn’t like his name, and since he didn’t respond to it, we knew we wanted to rename him. We had a hard time picking one out, to the point where he was almost just called “cat”. John had a dream one night where he thought of the name Rome, which we changed to Romy to give that “ee” sound that cats often respond to. The cat seemed to be ok with this name, and it stuck.

Romy came with an eye infection, so we took him to the vet to get checked. For the first few days of his tenure, he had one eye mostly closed; thus his “Pirate Romy” nickname at the time. The vet told us that he was a big cat, and expected his normal weight to be around 18-20lbs. Romy loved his food, and usually wound up being 21lbs. We started measuring things according to how many Romys it weighed.

Romy's first picture. He was generally ok with being here, but needed some time to chill by himself.
I wasn’t used to seeing something low to the ground running by. The only thing I had experience with were mice, so in the beginning, Romy’s walking by reminded me of mice and I jumped. It didn’t take long, though, before I got used to his travels around the house. Romy felt pretty comfortable here too, and it only took a week before we got a picture of him showing us his belly in trust that we were ok.
Romy's awesome belly
Romy integrated and entwined into every aspect of our family life. He gave us an occasional head nod that seemed to indicate "hey," which John and I co-opted when communicating with each other. He would often chomp his mouth a couple of times in a row as though he were mimicking talking, and sometimes I would do that back to him. Romy became the focus of my singing around the house, with such mangled hits as:
  • If I Had A Romy (If I Had A Hammer)
  • His name is Romy and he dances on the sand (Rio)
  • I heard a Romy, they say he's got a clinky tag (I Heard A Rumor)
  • Got your belly (Rock Me Amadeus)
  • Romy Romy Romy Romy... Romy (For The Love Of Money)
  • There once was a cat named Romy, and he was so cute (I think I based it on some tune rolling around in my subconscious)
Romy had a lot of favorite things. I don't have a picture of it, but he would always sit on his lounger by the stair rail. Whenever anyone went up or down the stairs, he'd meow at you to pay a petting toll as you passed. He also loved it when we pretended our hands were spiders, and they would crawl along the bed or couch and catch Romy's attention.
His lounger. It was like a human's favorite recliner. No matter what, he would always come back to his lounger.

Pillows. he was a big proponent of pillows.
Relaxing with his favorite male human
Sleeping in what humans would think are uncomfortable areas, especially when his cat bed and lounger were a few feet away.
Boxes, of course
Sitting on plastic bins. The only purpose of plastic bins was for Romy's lounging needs.

Playing trackball
Sleeping on office chairs

Red foxes fascinated him. We would watch this xmas special every year, even though his interest wasn't the same as this first time, he still liked foxes.
"Hiding" behind the shower curtain
Romy found laundry, clean or dirty, to be one of life's great joys.
My pants
My smelly laundry
My clean laundry. He especially liked the white sock load, likely because he had an affinity for Bounce fabric softener.
He really liked it when I left a hamper of clean laundry on the floor. I know where I'm sleeping tonight!
One day he even taught John a lesson about leaving drawers open.
Romy had a huge love of bags. Grocery bags, tote bags, laptop bags, suitcases, my workout clothes bag, you name it, he wanted to sit on or in them.




When friends came over, he was usually interested in their shoes and/or purses. When he could, he'd stuff his whole head into strangers' shoes.



Christmas meant the return of two great things: sitting under the tree, and the best water from the watering can.


Romy's daily routine, other than sleeping, started with waking me up if I wasn't already up. He'd usually wait at the top of the stairs for me to come up from my shower. Sometimes he'd wait downstairs for me to come down and go on the treadmill so I would pet him before I started. Then it was his post-shower petting routine. Without fail, whenever either human took a shower, they must immediately return to the bedroom to give Romy his brushing. Romy loved brushing. He was a big cat and couldn't reach his crotch/butt, so we often ended up with crotch cleaning duty. But you could brush him for ages and he would happily purr away.

Romy did occasional duty as a speed bump
I've never seen, and may never again see, anyone as comfortable as Romy when he slept. Comfort you can only dream of.

Since I was always the first human awake in the morning, I was generally the provider of food. Whether Romy was hungry or not, when food was poured, he had to check it out. Any time I brought the water dish over to the sink to clean it, he suddenly was extremely thirsty and would I please hurry up already. I also was the morning cleaner of the litterbox, which he appreciated and then proceeded to destroy by flinging the litter as far over the floor as he could. He made an absolute mess sometimes, but I still loved him.

Romy turned 10 this year. Around September, John asked me when I'd last seen Romy eat. I couldn't remember, but he thought it had been a few days. We knew immediately that was not good. We took him to the vet, had bloodwork and x-rays done. At first it was suspected urinary infection, then possibly pancreatitis. He continued to not get better on various treatments. We went through at least a dozen types of wet food trying to get him to eat anything. He lost a lot of weight, and was down to 15lbs. He spent 3 nights hospitalized trying to get his hydration back under control. An ultrasound showed that he had irregular shapes on his liver, suggesting a tumor. It also showed a lot of fluid, when when drawn out of his belly, was red. He was bleeding internally. Without exploratory surgery, which might in itself kill him, we knew he didn't have much time.

We spent the last few weeks giving him as much love and comfort as possible. I had mild success getting him to eat some out of my hand. He also would drink some from the tap in the kitchen. We had an IV of fluids to give him when needed. By yesterday morning, though, his nose was visibly shrunken and it sounded like he was having a hard time breathing. When he opened his mouth, it smelled like rot inside. We had friends over on Fri night to talk things through. When I listed to what we were saying and pretending to be a bystander, I could tell it sounded like it was time to let him go. He wasn't moving around much, he wasn't eating or drinking enough, he wasn't lounging, he couldn't jump up, his back legs weren't always working. He wasn't his Romy self. John didn't want to see him suffer, and by yesterday morning, he said he thought it was time. Had it been only up to me, I probably would have prolonged it for my own selfish reasons, and not for what was best for Romy.

I gave all of my heart and soul to this cat. This wonderful cat, who did so many incredible things for me. He was so patient, so tolerant of someone who had never had a pet. He didn't get into trouble, he was very chill and relaxed, and loved his house. There may be other cats, but there will never be another Romy. My heart is absolutely trashed. I'm horrible at losing people in my life, and this is no different. In some ways, it's worse. He was one of my best friends. Someone who gave me unconditional love every day. I have memories and pictures, but they don't compare to having that purring ball of fur to wrap my arms around, only to have him escape because enough hugs already, geez. I keep trying to find the right words to convey how I felt about him, but none of them do him justice. 

Romy's legacy is that he taught me to love cats. He's the cat who taught me how awesome having a cat in my life can be. We went on to adopt Sapphire 3 years after we got Romy. They weren't that close, but were ok sharing a house together and playing (though Romy's version of playing was sitting on Saph's head). There will likely be other cats in my future. Those cats all have Romy to thank for opening my heart and my home.

This experience has brought me so much joy and so much pain. Right now, it's hard to imagine I will ever feel this deeply about another cat. I can feel the wall going up around my heart to protect me from this deep pain in the future. The right cat can probably knock it down. But for now, I want to take my time to miss my great friend. I still feel like he's around the house somewhere. I expect to see him on his lounger, on the back of the couch, randomly lying on the floor. For as much as I was surprised at the beginning to see something moving along the floor, I am now surprised that he's not there.

God, please help me through this.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Elda cardigan update

I began the cardigan on Aug 1. A month later, I only have the Estonian Braid to finish along the neck & body line. I did spend two of the 4 weeks on vacation, so that was when I was able to get the bulk of the work done.

I made some mistakes, there are some holes that need to be fixed, but overall I am very happy that I pushed myself to do it. It was not as hard as I thought, and with how cold it turned outside today, I will be able to wear it as soon as I'm finished.

Aug 11: body completed

Sep 1: Arms completed

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Striped Nightgown

While waiting for the parts of the other projects to come together, I headed over to Fabricville to find some cheap practice fabric. In addition to the practice skirt material, I found some cotton knit to use for a nightgown. I bought the pattern on sale at Fabricville at the start of my vacation. Finally: a project I could start.
This was labeled "very easy" so I figured it would be a good way to get back onto the horse. I sewed last in November when my MIL was here to help. This time I knew I'd be a bit slower, and wanted to take time to look things up as I went to help increase my knowledge. It was also nice to sew without a deadline. Usually my MIL is here for a limited time, and we have to steamroll through. I did this project in my spare time during July, finishing tonight. The bedroom downstairs is pretty much my sewing room at the moment, so I was able to leave things out in the open while I had to go off and do other things.
Project Central
I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of this, but I remembered I had an extra bulletin board lying around, which takes pins as well as magnets. I stuck that up on the wall and it kept the sewing instructions in a dedicated location. John put down some extra foam tiles for me so I had a bit more support while working.

I inherited some sewing supplies from my grandmother, including some supplies that I hadn't used before but the pattern called for. Seam Binding was one of those things. I did a lot of Googling during this project! Since it was late and the seam binding wasn't going to be visible, I used what Nana had even though it didn't match. Thankfully I didn't have to stop the project at this point for more materials.
Seam Binding
I had done a zigzag stitch at least once before on my machine, but I took some time to test the settings and get a feel for how it worked with the material. Though the pattern itself *was* easy, the stretchy knit material needed for PJs is not much fun to work with. I'm quite happy with my first major zigzag attempt, and got closer to the seam the more I did it, as I felt it looked better that way. Really made me want a serger, though.
Zigzag seams
Having used bias tape on the aprons I made with MIL, I figured this would be a much easier (and neater) way to finish the neckline than the small hem I made for the arm holes and bottom. So back to the store I went for some complimentary bias tape. I had some blue tape on hand, but this being visible, I wanted to be slightly more picky. So much for not caring as much about a practice piece!
Bias tape neckline
I'm very happy with the job I did on the neck sewing. Less happy with the arm and bottom hems. On my next attempt, I might use the bias tape in all 3 places.

I finished the nightgown tonight, yay! After being gun-shy on the size of the skirt pattern, I went with Medium on this pattern. It actually ended up being a little too large for me, and I pre-shrunk the material. But as a practice item, I think I did a very good job, and the next one will definitely be easier. I will likely switch to a Small for that one.

Finished Striped Nightgown
The only down side to this nightgown is that it's long-sleeved and thicker material, so it will be a while before it is cold enough to wear it. But probably not as long as I think.

Project status update

Status update on the previous post: When I began to work on the skirt, I realized that I had not measured myself beforehand. What is listed on the package as dress sizes were so totally off what I am buying in the store that I ended up with the wrong package. I thought size 6-14 would be plenty of range for me to fit into. Turns out that according to this pattern, I am a 20. For someone who buys size 4 and 6 off the rack, this feels more than a little disheartening. I still want to make this skirt, so I said a big "FU" to the fashion industry, and found the same pattern on sale online in the larger set of sizes. Just picked the pattern and the yarn up this past weekend. Haven't had time to start them yet because I was just about finished my "while I'm waiting" project (see next post).

Following the suggestion of my MIL, I went to the fabric store and bought some inexpensive fabric to use for a practice skirt before I tackle it with the material I love. I actually quite like this material too. Thinking it might need some trim somewhere to break up the solid color? Not sure yet. This fabric was in the "fashion sample" rack for $3.75/m at Fabricville. It's thicker than the other material, and won't need a lining.

Practice skirt fabric

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

New craft projects



I started to knit another baby hat for charity at the end of last week, then realized the pattern wasn't knit in the round. I'm fine with knitting preemie hats with DPNs and wasn't relishing having to sew a seam on a hat for a delicate head. My yarn was also much lighter than the pattern, so despite going up 1 full mm in size, I was still too small on gauge. I got cranky and said to myself, "I'm tired of knitting things I'm not enjoying." 

What I really want to knit is a sweater. I keep seeing a friend of mine knit sweaters, and I wear sweaters all the time in fall and winter. It's something I could make for myself that would be incredibly useful. The only thing holding me back is the fear of mistakes and failure. But I have a very skilled friend who is dying to see me try something more complicated. She has more confidence in my skills than I do. I have knit several blankets, so I have the patience to stick with a longer project. So it's time to spread my wings and try it, and get support along the way.

The sweater that caught my eye and really stuck in my brain -- to the point where I woke up Sunday morning excited to try it -- is a cardigan with an Estonian braid along the edge.  I wear cardigans at work constantly, so I knew if I picked a neutral color, I'd get a lot of use out of it.

Elda cardigan by Vera Sanon
On recommendation of my friend, I'm using Knit Picks Swish DK. It was on sale, and very affordable for something that needs 10 balls.
Knit Picks Swish DK in Cobblestone Heather
Since there was already a yarn sale, and if I added more to my cart I could get free shipping, I also picked up 9 balls for a pullover sweater.

Poema by Vera Sanon
Something about this garnet red really caught my eye. Both of these sweaters are top-down knits, so I can try them on as I go.
Knit Picks Swish DK in Garnet Heather
Last, but not least, while my MIL was here for Thanksgiving last year, I couldn't resist this fabric. Without a specific project in mind, I bought a couple of metres. Last weekend I finally picked up a skirt pattern. My MIL has assured me that sewing as many aprons as I have, a skirt should be not much different. Scanning through the pattern, it looks a bit easier in some ways. There is plenty of fabric here that I could make 2 skirts. So if I screw up, I can make it again. I also want to add pockets, which isn't in the design, so I'll need some advice there.

I'm on vacation this week, and since the weather turned to rain, and my yarn is on order, I opened up the skirt pattern. Only then did I remember that I hadn't washed & shrunk my fabric yet. Why is it every time I get motivated, I have to stop for this step?  I should be throwing these in the wash as soon as I get home from the store. At least this time, I washed both fabrics I had purchased, even though I only needed one.

I'll see how things go, but at least I'll be working on things for myself for a change.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Quotes from books - The Improbability of Love

"You'd have to be living in Nova Scotia with your head up a polar bear's bum to have avoided it."
Is this supposed to be funny because the author knows there are no polar bears in NS, or did she just choose a poor example?

Overall I was entertained by this book, despite its many flaws. Thoughts: *SPOILERS*

  • Too many characters. You could easily have cut out most of the minor players. Especially the Elton John-wannabe, Barty.
  • Too long. The extra players made the story drag on and on longer than needed. This was a 400 page meandering book that could have been cut down to 250 and been a tighter story.
  • Jesse's level of "instant love" for Annie felt, well, improbable.
  • Something about Annie just seemed... off. Despite explanations of why she was not looking for love, her reactions to and rejections of Jesse just didn't seem natural.
  • I did enjoy the first-person views of the painting. Giving it a voice and a personality was fun.
  • Aha. The author was being self-indulgent by padding the novel with the extra characters. At least, that's what I gathered from this article. It may be fun for the author and the art world, but as a general fiction reader, I considered it extra fluff.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

A snap I found

Snap that I found while cleaning up my camera card. Taken 2014-10-18 at the nature park.


Friday, June 03, 2016

Quotes from books - In A Witch's Wardrobe

In A Witch's Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell

Don't you remember the old controversy over the backward lyrics in rock songs?
My brother and I tried to play Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" backward, but we didn't hear anything (nor did I know what it was supposed to say). This article talks about backmasking and provides examples, including this song. IMO, you have too much time on your hands if you think Led Zeppelin is talking about Satan.

...it looked like I was going to have to get happy in the same pants I got mad in.
This just seemed like a funny quote.