Friday, February 20, 2009

The Results Are In!

And the winner is...

Pai Mei!

I'm awfully glad you guys voted for that name, because that's the one Pirate and I chose anyway, so now you won't feel like I fobbed you off.

Pai has settled in well to his new home. His favorite activities include tripping us as we walk down the stairs, making biscuits in my lap, and hiding in the wardrobe. (He spends so much time in the wardrobe he almost got named "Aslan.") Generally we call him Kitten-Pai or Cutie-Pai, or when he's hiding in the wardrobe Chicken-Pai.

Currently he's sitting on my mousepad licking his ass. All is well with the universe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I can has family?

Here he is! Isn't he handsome?

(If a bit scary.)

Hello, small predator!

Aww, look at his widdle white socks!

Now the question is what to name him. The options are:

1. Fred. This is the name the shelter gave him and, though not terribly original, I was thinking of him as "Fred" in my mind for the whole week before we actually brought him home, so we're already kind of used to it. Also, it's pleasant and domestic and kind of suits him. (He's a cuddle slut.)

2. Pai Mei. This dude. He's the bad-ass martial arts guru from Kill Bill. The Furball is not a badass, but he kind of looks it with his narrow eyes and white goatee. We'd probably call him "Pie" on a day-to-day basis, and that has pleasant pudding conotations. Also it kind of ties in with "Pirate." He'd be the Pai-cat. A Pi-rat and a Pai-cat! Brilliant! (I may have just talked myself into this one.)

3. Clawdius. You can't really see it in these photos, but he has white toes with brown outlines that form these little Roman arches across his feet. Like little aquaducts. So we thought a Roman name might be appropriate. Pirate thought of the pun with the spelling.

4. Toast. He looks like badly burnt toast. 'Nuff said.

5. Thornton. Because he's chocolate brown and Hershey and Nestle are totally unorigina. Ditto Cadbury. And Lindt is just too posh.

Go vote. We won't pay the slightest bit of attention to the results, mind. Your opinions are purely for my amusement.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let there be catness!

Well, it's official. Pirate and I will be going to the shelter to morrow afternoon to collect the newest member of our family: a (roughly) 2-year-old male cat named (so far) "Fred."

The shelter told us Fred is 2, but i suspect his real age is closer to twice that on the principle that shelters have a bitch of a time rehoming old cats and always knock a few years off their age to make them more marketable. I don't particularly care. He is wonderful.

When we went to look at cats most of them just lay on the their blankets and ignored us. One or two opened an eye, assessed us as uninteresting, and closed it again. But not Fred, oh no. When Fred saw us he came straight to the front of his enclosure and and greeted us verbally. I replied in kind. We had a very enchanting conversation through the glass before the volunteer came to open the door so we could get to know each other better through a brief session of sniffing and groping. (Kind of like dating when you think about it.)

And just like it was with my Pirate, the minute i touched him I fell in love. Pirate wanted kittens, but I got all watery-eyed over Fred so Pirate caved and we are bringing him home.

Earlier this week I went to the pet store and spent 130 pounds on:
  • a carrier
  • a litter box
  • a litter mat (to trap the gravel before Fred tracks it all over the house)
  • litter liners, disposal baggies, and a pooper scooper
  • a food dish
  • 2 scratching things (a cardboard one for the floor and one made of rope that hangs from a doorknob)
  • a fleece hammock that hangs off a radiator (cuz if i was a cat i would SO want one! hell, i'm a human i wish they came in my size)
  • 8 packets of treats (4 for UTIs, 4 for hairball control)
  • UTI paste
  • hairball paste
  • a rubber grooming glove
  • a wire grooming comb
  • 2 packs grooming wipes (not quite as effective as a bath, but a hell of a lot easier and better than nothing)
  • a vibrating toy mouse
  • a wobble ball
  • a feathery thing on an elastic cord on a stick (Pirate loved it so much he played with it for 10 minutes. who needs a cat???)
  • cat-wee carpet cleaner spray
  • a food dish
  • a collar with breakaway safety feature and ID barrel (in a very fetching red, yellow, and black aboriginal-style pattern)
  • a book of cat care, heavy on the medical information
That, combined with the 55 pound obligatory donation to the shelter brings our total expenditure to almost 200 pounds, and we still haven't bought litter for the tray, a cat flap for the back door, or food.

Food will be the biggest expense as Fred has to be kept on a special diet owing to his FLUTD. If we give him normal food his ureters will clog up and he won't be able to pee. So by the time we add in the cost of a month's supply of food, the gravel (i want the flushable kind, which ain't cheap), and the cat flap, we're looking at an initial output of over 250 pounds.

Someone told me cats were economical pets. They lied.

At least I'll have him to keep me company over the weekend while Pirate is away. That will be nice. I'll post photos for you. (He's a very handsome boy.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We pause now in the middle of this whinge

to bring a brief moment of eye-watering hilarity.

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Normal service will resume shortly. Thank you.


I figured out what was wrong with me.

The house is killing me.

Here's how it works. Do you remember the incident last October, shortly after we moved in, when the whole left side of my face ballooned up and my eye was swollen shut for 3 days and the doctors (yes, plural) never did figure out what caused it? They couldn't figure out if it was bacterial, viral, or an allergic reaction to some environmental factor, and it was getting worse so rapidly there wasn't time to try different medications in succession (also, I was half blind and itching like i had fleas in my eyeballs), so they put me on antibiotics, antivirals, AND antihistemines all at once. One of them worked because I began to get better shortly thereafter, but it's still a medical mystery.

Now bear in mind that we moved in here on September 20, I immediately got a head cold, and then the eye thing started on October 5.

Please also bear in mind that all last autumn I had one head cold after another, such that we estimate I've been sick about 50% of the time since we got married.

Except for the 6 weeks I was stuck in Michigan waiting on my spousal visa. For those 6 weeks I was completely fine; not a sniffle.

I got back home to Cornwall at the end of January, and within two weeks I had another mysterious illness. This is the short version:

Friday: sore throat

Early Saturday morning: most painful sore throat in history of humanity, body aches all over, throbbing pounding headache. Essentially pain. Ultimately, the only symptom I had was pain. Conspicuously absent: fever, congestion, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, or ANYTHING that might indicate a viral or bacterial infection.

Sunday: Body ache gone, throat still sore but sufficiently better that I can eat solid food again, headache more bearable but still present.

Today (Monday): Sore throat all but gone, headache back with a vengeance, accompanied by mild nausea.

This morning I walked to the pharmacy to buy some of the effervescent cocodamo*l tablets the nurse on the NHS helpline told me about on sunday morning. My throat was better, but i'm not convinced it won't happen again, so i decide it's a good idea to have some in the house.

My head was throbbing. It didn't hurt more if i bent over or looked down, but as soon as i straightened up again it felt like someone was driving a railroad spike into my brain stem. I thought my brain would explode from the pressure. The ferocity of the pain was such that I actually cried out loud a couple of times while walking home. I wasn't sure I would make it. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually I got home. (It's only one bloody mile.)

I decided to take one dose of the cocodamol for the headache. It helped the headache, but gave me a mild psychotic reaction. I was utterly convinced for 3 hours that there was someone else in the room with me, and i was being WATCHED. I can't tell you how freaky this is. Thankfully about 3% of my brain was holding down the sanity fort and constantly reminding me that I was alone, in no danger, and this was clearly a reaction to the drug.

So what the fuck caused me to have an incredibly sore, swollen, inflamed throat and migraine-level headache pain with no other sign of infection? The House.

Think about it. Shortly after we move in i get some weird, undiagnosable condition. I am sick on and off the entire autumn. I leave for Christmas and enjoy 6 weeks of perfect health. I return and within 2 weeks (roughly the same amount of time between moving in last September and the first medical crisis) I have some other weird, undiagnosable condition. Unless someone else out there has had a bout of tonsilitis that lasted 2 days and went away on its own, my leading theory right now is that there is some environmental factor in the house that's making me ill.

Am I crazy? It just seems unlikely that this is a coincidence.

Pirate is not affected by it, but I'm in the house ALL THE TIME, whereas he only comes here to eat, shag, and sleep. He's out for 12 hours a day at work. I'm not. I'm here, dying by inches.

I've dismissed CO, as we have a dector that says there's no CO in the house.
I've dismissed radon, even though Cornwall is full of it, because radon toxicity takes years of exposure to produce symptoms.
Right now I'm thinking some kind of mold or fungus. I shall begin to investigate and see what I turn up.

*Tylenol 3 with codeine, and it's available over the counter here. Take that, you sorry Americans!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Good News, Bad News

The good news is we're getting a cat! I feel kinda bad because Pirate really, REALLY wanted a kitten,* but we went to the other local animal shelter on Friday and absolutely fell in love. He's brown and white with really striking markings, very fluffy, is 2 years old, prone to urinary tract infections, is incredibly friendly and cuddly, and his name is Fred.

The shelter doesn't know much about his history as he was brought in as a stray, but he's waaaay to friendly with people to have been born stray. I suspect he was dumped by an owner who couldn't cope with his bladder problems.

But the good people at the shelter have got his problems under control, and assure us that all he needs is to be fed a special diet and he should be fine. I'm sure he'll still have the occassional flare-up, but I'll watch his litter closely and get his urine tested every 6 months or so, which is no big deal at all.

So after we visited him I decided I was completely in love with him, and I looked at Pirate with big, doleful eyes and he gave in. He's such a good man, but i do feel a bit guilty. I've promised him that after Fred is all settled in we will look for a kitten. Someone seriously needs a kitten. Bless.

And now for The Bad News.

I am sick as a dog. I don't know what's wrong, but I have the worst sore throat in human history. The throat started Friday afternoon, and by the small hours saturday morning my whole body was in agony. My head was pounding, my throat was so sore I couldn't sip water without extreme discomfort, and every muscle and joint in my body ached. I could barely move. I spent the day lying on the couch and moaning.

Today I am a little better. The body aches have subsided somehwat, so I'm more comfortable than I was yesterday, but everything above my collar bone still hurts like a bitch: my head is pounding, and when i swallow it feels like someone is choking me to death and the pain goes right up my ear canals. I've managed to eat a scrambled egg, 2 popsicles, and 2 glasses of apple juice. That's since Friday night, and now it's sunday morning. Pirate tried to get me to drink some Lemsip** but hot things make my throat hurt more and after it cooled it was so disgusting i gagged and almost threw up. Oh yeah, I've had some nausea and stomach cramping as well.

Clearly I am dying.

Does anyone know a disease that is characterized by an incredibly sore throat and massive body aches? Cuz really, if it wasn't for all the pain I'm in, I would just have a slight stuffy nose and that would be it. I'm seriosuly wondering if it's not my tonsils. This is truly not your run-of-the-mill sore throat.

Oh yeah, there's more: Pirate got contacts!

It's very strange. Normally the only time I see him without his glasses is when we're making love, and therefore I find it a huge turn-on when he takes them off, because I know what it foretells. But now he's wearing contacts and every time I look at him I think I'm about to get some. If I wasn't in so much fucking pain I'd be the most turned-on woman in the western world right about now.

*"self-propelled balls of entertaiment" according to Pirate

**Theraflu to you Yanks

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Middle Class

So there we were, the Pirate and I, listening to the test match* on the radio, playing Boggle, and eating strawberries.

When the revolution comes, we are fucked.

*That's cricket, for you football-watching Philistines.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wong-Foo Fighter

Well I promised you I would try to have something bad happen to me this week, and now I'm going to deliver.

Do you remember Wong-Foo? Wong-Foo was the bestest fishy ever. He had fu, foo.

I got Wong-Foo back in the summer of '07. He lived in a pretty little aquarium on my desk in Bristol and kept me company. He was far more social even than the Nazi Death Hamster. (Hard to imagine, I know.)

So last Saturday we bought some more fish. Our 80-L tank has been up and running for months, and has had no problems. Introducing a few more fish shouldn't have been an issue. We followed all the correct protocols.

Nevertheless, on Sunday morning when we inspected the fish we noticed that one of the tiny guppies (an unusual variety that were only about 2 cm long each but cost 4 quid apiece) had ick. There was a white fluffy spot on one side and it's dorsal fin was missing. I treated the tank and hoped for the best. Later that evening it died.

It died well within the pet store's 48-hour guarantee, so I bagged the fish, put it in the freezer, and made sure I had the receipt. We noticed Wong-Foo following the guppy around in it's death throes. This is not unusual behavior. The very instant the guppy went belly-up, Wong-Foo took a bite out of him. This, too, is not unusual for fish, especially bettas.

The next day Wong-Foo died.

I am both gutted* and furious.

Clearly the guppy was diseased when we bought it, despite appearing healthy. Most likely the stress of the transition was too much for it, and whatever infection it had (probably ick) it was unable to fend off. The pet store acknowledges this with their 48 hour guarantee. If the guppy had contracted the disease in our tank, it wouldn't have died so quickly.

The fact that my betta, who had been healthy for a year and a half, died within hours of taking a bite of a diseased fish is NO COINCIDENCE. I'm hoping I can get the pet store to admit this and replace the betta as well as the guppy. It's a long shot, but I have logic and truth on my side.

Meanwhile I'm mourning. Wong-Foo was an awesome fishy. His hobbies included begging for blood worms and eating baby guppies snacks. He had loads of personality and always acknowledged my presence when I entered the room. That's more than I can say for a lot of people. Wong-Foo was more than a fish in a tank; he was a genuine pet.

Now he's gone to sleep with the people. *sniff* RIP, little buddy.

*Geddit? Gutted? We're talking about fish and I'M gutted! Even in the face of tragedy I maintain my sense of humor

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Life Domestique

Ah, the pleasantries of matrimonial banality. Everything, no matter how lovely or how miserable, is just that little bit nicer or more bearable. This weekend we:

Got Pirate new glasses, went to the pest store and bought 7 fish (6 guppies and an algae eater, if you must know), and visited The Gables Farm to pick a cat to adopt (we chose 2 kittens, but they're not available yet. Watch this space).

Sunday we baked loads of muffins, spilled 4 gallons of hot soapy water on the kitchen floor and cleaned it up, made a pot of chili, scooped a dead guppy out of the aquarium, and tried to have a super-bowl party but failed to have any friends cool enough to come.

Pirate ordered me a calendar online that he made with my own photographs, I refilled the bird feeders and cleaned the hamster cage. (It was a big weekend for animals, apparently.)

Nothing was monumentous; it was just nice to have a companion. Even cleaning 4 gallons of water off the kitchen floor became a laughable offense rather than a swearing, cursing, day-ruining event. God it's good to be home.

I'll try to have something bad happen to me in the next week or two so I can write something interesting instead of all this mushy drivel.