Monday, November 08, 2010

Yet another overdue cat update

The cats are getting along beautifully now. They even play with each other, which I never thought Simba would do. Even as a kitten she wasn't big on rough-and-tumble play with other cats so this was a pleasant surprise. She's getting real exercise again, and it seems her cystitis has gone away. She's more relaxed than I've seen her in a while, not least of which, I'm sure, because she now has somebody to keep her company when we're not home. Anubis is much the same. He still wants to spend time with daddy, and she still wants to spend time with momma, but they're not as desperate when we first get home now.

Today, though, we had our first miscommunication in a while. Simba seems to have a little bit of a bug - started getting a bit sluggish about the same time we did, when the weather changed to cold quite suddenly. Even indoors she feels it. Well, Anubis wants to play and with Simba not feeling well she kept trying to slink away from him quietly after a minor slap-fight by the box (which by the body language was play - she ran with him a couple times but she can't take much right now so after the little playfight she was done). He wouldn't take the hint - kept trying to chase. He cornered her under the window seat and she hissed at him. I had to remind him that means enough and it's time to be done playing for the night. So she made her way over to me, glanced at him a few times with that look she gives me when she thinks she's upset me and didn't mean to, so I reassured both of them and told him next time to listen when she says she's done. I know that last part sounds silly but he does understand a certain amount of human speech, and the tone clues him in to what I'm getting at if nothing else.

I'm trying to teach Simba now that he's learned her cue for being done with play is jumping onto the arm of the couch and curling up. If she does that he seems to leave her alone.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Overdue Kitty Update

I suppose I owe you an update by now, since it's been a while. Between being busy and being ill (illness being the latest in delays) I haven't had much time to type up a blog post. However the antibiotics have kicked in and I think I'm up to at least offering a brief update on what has been going on.

Firstly, Simba's cystitis seems to have subsided for now, which is a relief. It isn't something that's serious or fatal, but it does cause her pain so of course I hate to see her like that. Thankfully my vet does not seem bothered at all by my requests for news on possible new treatments every time we're in his office. So far it still looks like Diazepam is her best option, though it only really treats the symptom and not the disease.

Simba has stopped hissing at Anubis almost entirely. She will still hiss every so often if he startles her (or runs over her when he has turned the hallways into a racetrack), and we had to chide her for hissing at him the other night without due cause. Well, I'm sure she considered it due cause - we had a large cardboard box sitting in the living room and she decided it belonged to her, and her alone. That was quickly corrected and she (perhaps a bit grudgingly) learned to share.

Anubis is now frequently found asleep on the bed. He and Simba seem to trade places - one on the bed, one on the cedar chest. On rare occasion they will both be on the bed. They have yet to curl up together, but they're coming closer.

It seems they have come to some sort of agreement about acceptable play, too. Rather than pouncing, Anubis has settled for playing something that looks like tag with her across the house. One cat will start poking at the other, at which point the second cat will take off running. They usually only chase back and forth a couple of times, but we're making progress.

All in all they seem very comfortable with each other now. Simba even uses Anubis' litterbox and drinks from his water bowl. I'm pretty sure I've caught Anubis eating from Simba's food bowl once or twice. He regularly goes into the bedroom, she regularly goes into the office - before they were very wary of entering each other's "safe zones". And sometimes when James and I go to sleep at night, Simba retreats to the office and curls up in Anubis' cat carrier, with him sleeping on the chair nearby.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Update on the cats

Anubis and Simba are doing well, aside from a continued flareup of Simba's interstitial cystitis.

She has been to the vet to make sure she hasn't developed an infection, aside from that we just wait. She almost got past it, then the fireworks this weekend shot her stress levels up again so we're back to fighting it. Unfortunately our vet also advised me there is still no research that has shown any promise in prevention of her condition. The issue is apparently cause because the cat has holes in the glucosamine layer along the urinary tract - studies have at least shown this much. However the research also, sadly, shows that simply supplementing glucosamine into the diet does not repair these holes and therefore does not help the issue. He did tell me there is some current research into whether a daily glucosamine cath will help, but even if the research shows promise I don't think I'd ever use that method. Unless they found that a one-time cath of glucosamine would help, it's a matter of the cure being worse than the disease. For now, as much as she hates me scruffing and medicating her, the Diazepam does work.

Unfortunately the cystitis causes pain, and the pain causes Simba to be, I suspect, a bit moodier than she would otherwise be. We were making good strides in getting her to like Anubis, but now she's gotten to where she is confusing the heck out of him. Sometimes she doesn't mine him sitting next to her, sometimes she'll hiss. We're trying to give her a firm "no" anytime she hisses for no good reason (ie: he hasn't startled her or chased her or, his new odd habit, stared at her on the litterbox). We're getting there, but slowly.

It doesn't help that Anubis has decided that with James and I out of the house much of the day, he needs a new playmate, and Simba's it. Now, even as a kitten Simba wasn't much into rolling around playing with the other cats. She likes to play with toys, she likes to snuggle. But she's not big on the pounce-and-play with other kitties. Anubis, on the other hand, likes to roughhouse a bit. He doesn't understand why she keeps hissing at him for pouncing after her. After all, he wants to play, why shouldn't she? Unfortunately his boredom has reached levels where he's jumping out at her on her way to the litterbox, on the way to her food bowl... pretty much all the time if he sees her. Which, of course, means he gets hissed at again. For some reason, though, she's running instead of her normal approach I've seen her use with every other new animal I had in the house - standing her ground and swatting. We're quite convinced that all it would take is one warning swat for him to get the picture, but she just won't swat him. So the learning process is requiring us to catch him in the act and stop him, and make sure he knows we're saying no to him without her thinking we're telling HER no for something. It's all getting rather complex and confusing, but they're both smart cats, we just need to make sure we're consistent. It's not that he's doing anything BAD, just Simba won't scold him properly herself but she clearly wants him to back off, and if he wants to make a friend we have to teach him how to interact a bit more calmly.

See, Anubis has never had a kitty playmate before. Not since he was a kitten himself. So he doesn't really know his manners as well as he probably should. He knows not to be mean, he just doesn't know that other cats don't like to be pounced every second of every day.

On the upside, they have come nose to nose a few times. Once she walked right up and sniffed him while he was sleeping. Simba is still occasionally hissing for no reason (we assume the times she hisses are when she's in more pain), but it's happening less often now. Anubis has gotten brave enough to come into the bedroom once or twice a day now - Simba has yet to start wandering regularly into the office, but we're thinking we may have to carry her in there to get her to realize she's allowed in there again. The other day Simba walked right up to Anubis, they sniffed each other's faces.... then the neighbors shot off a firework and she thought it was his fault. So right back to hissing again. Two steps forward, one step back...

It's a slow process but we're getting there. It'll get better once James isn't interviewing constantly, we stop running around trying to pick up things to organize the house, and we settle into something that resembles routine so both cats can sort of figure out what's going on. Until then it's a little crazy, and they're still both doing much better than expected.

We're just mystified by the fact that the situation is reversed from what we expected. We seriously thought Anubis was the one who would have trouble getting along with another cat...

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Introducing cats - Romeo

It's official. Anubis is completely smitten with Simba.

Unfortunately Simba does not return these feelings at the moment. She's still not to sure about him. She'll be fine hearing and smelling him in the same room, but when she sees him she starts acting all defensive. I still think part of it is because she's not very used to fluffy cats and she thinks he's poofing his fur at her.

But last night we woke up to hissing again and looked down, there was Anubis on my side of the bed, Simba curled up next to me - Anubis was just staring up at her. Not like the dominating stare, but that cute little face he does when he wants attention. He seems desperate for her to like him and she just won't have any of it yet. We figure she'll take another week or so to get the idea that he isn't going to eat her.

But it's cute and sad. He's so determined. She was at the food bowl this evening, and he sat there with his nose right at her tail but wouldn't go any closer. He spends a lot of time at her favorite spots when she's not in them, sniffing and purring and rubbing his head all over.

We were out all day today, found Simba curled up on the bed where we left her and Anubis hanging out in the office. But I saw a clump of his fur in the bedroom that I hadn't seen before so looks like he tried to make friends again today while we were gone. Poor guy. But I have this feeling one of these days we'll come home and they'll be curled up together, once Simba gets over thinking he's out to get her. But for now it's like watching a little boy with his first crush on that girl who still thinks boys are icky and have cooties.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Introducing cats - tearing down the gate

We had something unexpected last night. I fell asleep on the couch, and woke up to strange meowing. I thought it was Anubis at first, crying from behind the gate... but then I realized it was coming from the kitchen. It was an uneasy sound, I went to turn on a light. There was Simba, staring toward the gate. And there was Anubis, out in front of it. He'd jumped over.

We don't know if he's been jumping over for the last few nights or not. Either way I reassured Simba, who retreated to the bedroom, and Anubis jumped back over the gate.

I made my way back to the bedroom to finish the night out actually in a bed. Not sure how long I was asleep before I woke again, this time to soft growling. It was low and quiet enough I wasn't sure what it was at first. But then I started looking for Simba. She was curled up on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed, growling away. I grabbed a flashlight to try and see what she was on about.

There was Anubis, curled up quite casually in the doorway of the bedroom. None of Simba's fur was raised, Anubis showed no signs of aggression, but Simba's ears were halfway back, nervous style. I tried to reassure her. James tried to reassure Anubis who decided maybe he wasn't allowed in the bedroom after all and took off to head back behind the gate. Simba calmed down and started purring after he was gone.

We went back to sleep. The gate came down in the morning, unceremoniously. We made sure that no big deal was made about it, we acted as though nothing odd had happened. The gate simply came down, that was it.

Simba eyed the lack of gate rather heavily when she came out in the morning, but didn't run. Other than that, not much happened. Anubis came out to explore a few more times. Sometime later in the day James brought Anubis back to the bedroom to show him he's not forbidden from that space. Unfortunately Simba had crawled under the bed from the thunder. I lifted the dust ruffle to check on her, and Anubis peeked under with me. She hissed, so he took off again.

I did manage to coax her out but for at least half an hour she didn't seem interested in coming out of the bedroom. I was a little afraid the experience had scared her into hiding, but sure enough she came back out into the living room.

She fell asleep on her favorite pillow on the couch, and Anubis came out into the living room to play a little bit.

She seems somewhat reassured when I try to show her Anubis is allowed here, but she is still very wary of him, at least when she catches sight of him. She's been in the same room with him several times now, flopped on her favorite pillow. But as long as she doesn't look at him, she doesn't act out of the ordinary. I know she can hear and smell him, and that he's close. It's only when she sees him that she acts bothered. Amd she has, after all, started to peer down the hallway now - tail up high and curious instead of down and tense.

Here is where having two behaviorists in the house is a plus, since we can both bounce things off of each other. Even with all the things I catch, with all the things I know about my cat, I had missed something that should have been obvious. Happens to all of us, I'm just glad he thought to mention it because it puts things into perspective.

We were discussing the cats' personalities, going over again why we didn't feel there would be many fights. I mentioned that Simba, even outside with the other barn cats at my parents' house, had never been on top. Her mother ruled the roost until she died, then her sister took charge. Once said sister died, sometime toward the end of my time at OU, the hierarchy in the group changed again. By the time I finished college and came back home, Simba had been bumped down to the bottom rank. It had been as good a time as any for my parents to bring her to me in my new place.

I told all this to James - I had apparently not explained to him before that when she came to me she was at the bottom of the totem pole. He pointed out what I had missed.

The last time Simba was with other cats, she was the one getting pushed around. Now that suddenly she is faced with another cat again, she is probably a bit nervous she will get pushed around again. So it is very possible that she is posturing to try and make sure she's not stuck on the bottom again.

One way or another, I think once she realizes that Anubis isn't going to try and eat her, she'll be fine. For one, I think she thinks he's got his fur raised at her - she isn't used to cats quite so fluffy (and he has loooong fur). So once she realizes that she may calm down.

For now, I think it's simply best we don't push the issue. I have advised James that while it's okay to carry Anubis into the living room to show him it's his house too, we may wish to leave the bedroom alone since that's been Simba's "safe zone" with every other animal I've brought into this house (guests and foster doggies included). I want her to feel like we're not going to be carrying "invaders" in all the time. So at this point we just let them do what they do and let them work around each other and get used to things. It does seem clear now though that they're at least not going to hurt each other, just avoid each other, so we should be okay to leave the gate down now. We're keeping both of them handy just in case, but we don't expect issues. Tonight, really, will be the test, since Anubis is bolder now and we're just trying to let them be.

I am, of course, nervous even though I know I have no reason to be. Simba is my baby and I tend to be a little paranoid when it comes to her. We're heading out of the house for a few hours tomorrow which makes me uneasy even though I know they'll be okay.

Monday will be the real test, as James and I will both be out the entire day. Hopefully Simba will adjust soon. Go figure, we both thought Anubis would be the problem and he's been perfectly calm. I know she WILL adjust, it's just a matter of when. Hopefully another week at most. She seems to have my two week adjustment period.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Introducing cats - unexpected test

Things have been progressing rather well in the household, cats are getting bolder and calmer - Anubis tried to walk past the gate last night when I moved it aside for James to carry something past.

But last night we had an unexpected test on Anubis' bravery and ability to adapt. There was a tornado warning. Now, my house is nice, it's big... but it's not the best place to be in storm season. Among other things I don't have a basement. So usually when the weather gets nasty I either pack up the cat and run next door to my grandparents' house till it passes (if it's a short storm), or I haul her over to my parents' house down the road and Simba and I stay in their guest room (if they're predicting dangerous weather all night). Simba has gotten used to this, and even seems to like the sleepovers. She is an extremely adaptable cat, and I love that about her. That ability to be uprooted and not bat an eye is rare among felines.

Anubis, however, we were rather worried about. And since he hasn't been here that long, there wasn't much time for James and I to make a game plan. We got the news that the tornado sirens were going off in town, James looked to me for the plan. Only plan I'd ever used was pack up the cat and run. So we did.

Anubis did surprisingly well. Especially since it was pouring when we made the dash next door and both kitties got a bit wet. Simba, of course, took it in stride and simply started to groom herself when we got inside my grandparents' house, casual as could be. Anubis was a little nervous but didn't seem to be outright freaking out. I suspect it helped that we sprayed a bit of the artificial pheremone into his carrier again to help calm him. He was a little nervous, but James opened the door to pet him and he calmed down a little. All the while Simba kept glancing over toward him looking a bit confused. I suspect she was wondering what the heck he was so fussy about. But Anubis was good (aside from trying to snake his way all the way out of the carrier), neither cat seemed bothered by being caged in such close proximity, and Anubis even let my Gram pet him.

So we came back once the storm blew past and let everybody out into their respective rooms. The night moved on and nobody seemed the worse for wear.

Today nothing much new happened.

Tomorrow the gate comes down. Here's hoping all goes as well as we expect it to.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Introducing cats - Day 3

Not too much to tell today. The cats seem to be relaxing further, progressing steadily. There have been a few more encounters at the gate with no hissing or growling.

Last night was a bit rough as James actually slept in the bedroom instead of in the office with his cat, so there was a bit of yowling, but we ignored it and eventually it stopped and everyone got to sleep. I know this sounds mean to some people, but it actually is the best way to handle an animal who is crying when you know they're not hurt or sick. Going into the room every time they cry not only reinforces the behavior because you come when they wail, but it also doesn't allow them to find out that they are, in fact, going to be okay if they are left alone.

So there was one little call down the hall to let the cat know someone was still here, then we stayed silent the rest of the night.

Simba didn't seem bothered at all by the yowling. Slept through most of it from her cat bed in the living room, I assume, since she didn't even make her way back to the bedroom until much later and I heard not a peep from her. She didn't cry at all when she came back, just sat at the cedar chest at the foot of the bed and went back to sleep.

James left the house for a couple of hours today so I slipped in to spend a little time alone with Anubis, to make sure he knows even when James isn't here I am safe to be around. He's still wary but coming around. I'm sure part of it is a bit of backslide because the new surroundings smell like me, and I also smell like that other kitty that hissed at him. But I have been petting them both, going back and forth between the rooms and getting their scents on each other a little bit. I think that should help, if they smell it on themselves and come to realize the "other cat" smell isn't a threat.

But they don't seem to be acting completely scared of each other anymore, nor are they acting aggressive at all. Both cats do still act a little wary when they catch sight of each other, but nobody has been running away. They'll stare for a minute then turn and walk off. Every so often Simba still comes to me for reassurance that I still love her even though there's another kitty. But those times are becoming fewer and fewer as we go along.

Only 3 days in and everybody's making loads of progress. Which is a good thing, because I think "mom" and "dad" will be a LOT calmer once the cats have settled in. It's quite clear they are going to be fine, but it will definitely feel better once we've completed the process and everybody's comfortable.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Introducing cats - Day 2

Day 2

The night seemed to go well (for the cats anyway, the people didn't do a whole lot of sleeping). Kitties had their first encounter this morning through the gate. Thought it was going okay, but Simba hissed and yowled. But most of her hair still laid flat and her ears didn't go back all the way so it could have gone much worse. It took Anubis a minute or so to hiss back. Simba took off for the bedroom, he retreated and James had to calm him down but everyone seemed to be okay within a few minutes (except me who is a nervous wreck - you can know all the steps and processes but when it's your own and emotions get involved it makes things rough).

Simba came back to the living room after a bit and ate a little, started to play with her toys so all is well again. We're not going to push the issue. They know there's another cat there, now we just have to let them do their thing and hopefully both will get nosy enough to meet again and maybe it'll go better next time.

I tried to feed Simba some treats in view of the gate. She started to pick them up and shake them but wouldn't actually eat them. She kept looking back toward the gate like something was going to come take her treats from her. But it's a start. And she's not used to me feeding her anyplace but beside her bowl anyhow. So I moved them back to her food bowl, she crunched them down and seemed fine.

She got back to playing again, and I noticed some little food bits around the bag of Anubis' food. Looks like somebody's been nosing in. No wonder her food bowl is still full this morning. She skipped right past her diet food for the good stuff.

Later in the day she actually played in front of the gate, and the two cats eyeballed each other - no hissing this time. I think Simba's primary issue is making sure she isn't going to be replaced. She is displaying some mild signs of separation anxiety - I tried to close the bedroom door to change and she started to cry loudly on the other end, so right now all doors must be open where I am.

All in all, it's been going much better much earlier than we expected. It looks like we may be able to take the gate down by next weekend, since they don't seem to be aggressive toward each other so much as wary and avoidant.

Wish us luck.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Introducing cats - day 1

Over the last couple of days, I have been in the process of helping my other half move up to my place.

As of today, James' cat is moved up. As a bit of background, said cat is suspected to be part bobcat somewhere in his family history, and does not generally handle stress well. So we had spent a long time up to now mulling over how to handle the move.

We put some of the pheremone spray and a couple of James's old shirts in the carrier with him in the hopes of calming him down. We had tried the Comfort Zone diffusers and sprays with my cat with much success in reducing stress levels, but had thus far not tried its effects on any other cat.

Anubis panted and cried some in the car but James says that's MUCH better than he's ever done in a car ride, and that's even the longest one he's ever been on. He's in the front room now with James, he's already eaten, drank a bit, and rubbed his face on some of the furniture. Hasn't used the litterbox *yet* but we brought his old one with all the litter in it so we'll see by morning. He says he's doing better with this than he's EVER seen him do on a move before, so that's a good sign. We had planned ahead by not only putting a pheremone diffuser in the room, but also by trying to set up some familiar things before bringing him in. The desk was already set up, plus we also brought all his toys, his food and water dish from the old house, everything we could set up to make him feel at home. Familiarity is important, especially making sure there are still things that smell like the cat in the new house. This is why we kept the already "dirty" litter - totally dumping the box and refreshing it could slow the process.

My own cat, Simba seems to be doing okay. She was a bit clingy until she realized I was still going to pet her. I tried to push into my normal night routine and after that she seemed to be pretty much okay. She's a little tense, of course, but then again so are we and there's still boxes all over (we're going to start tackling those tomorrow). But she's locked eyes with Anubis at least a couple times - she put her ears halfway back like she does when she's not sure about something and wants me to tell her it's okay, but she hasn't poofed up or growled or acted like she wants to run from him. She seems curious more than anything, a little wary but he doesn't seem upset by her and she's MUCH calmer than she was with the dogs (and with Shaggy she even started to come out and get nosy about him after the first day). She is, as a general rule, an adaptable cat, but she does sometimes get a bit jealous and she is getting old and set in her ways, so I wasn't sure how she'd take it. She's not frantic, and doesn't seem to consider him a threat. Both of these things are very important.

So hopefully this is a good sign and all will go well. Simba's crashed in her kitty bed right now. So we seem to be okay as far as stress levels go. We're good for now, the next big hurdle is when we're ready to remove the gate, but we'll deal with that when we come to it. Right now, they can smell each other, they can see each other while James and I are up. He's going to sleep in the front room with his kitty tonight, so Simba can curl up with me tonight. That should help.

We're still nervous, but so far it's started off better than we expected it would so I think we're going to be okay. Now if we can just get some of this clutter pared down we'll be good. We're tackling that tomorrow.

That should help Simba relax a bit too, I think. She wasn't quite sure about the boxes that started to take over the house, so clearing that up should help.

The sad part is, I know all the steps, I've helped other people transition their pets before. I know the advice tends to work. But there's that extra layer of nerves when you're dealing with your own cats.

If the rest of the process goes as smoothly as tonight has gone, I think everyone will be okay.

Their welfare comes first right now.

We'll see where it goes.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One by One

This is probably the most truly "artsy" piece I've ever done, and someday I will need to borrow use of a large format scanner and get a proper image. For now, this photo is the best I have.

This piece takes up most of a room, it's almost as big as I am, which is why the angle is so skewed. I was up on a stepstool just to get the whole thing in frame.

This was my final for my art class in college - we were told to pick a song. Just ONE SONG, listen to it, and draw whatever we see when we play said song. Only other requirement was that it had to be at or above a certain size.

I chose "One by One" by Lebo M. (Look it up and listen to it while you watch.) There's a few versions - the version I was listening to is from the Rhythm of the Pridelands CD. This link works for now:

I consider this my masterpiece. This is by far the best thing I have ever created, and the picture does NOT do it justice. Unfortunately I stored it improperly and the chalks smudged a bit here and there, but I still love it. I need a frame big enough to hold this monster.

The people are silhouettes partly because I can't draw human faces very well, and partly because I thought simple gestural type things would be more effective.

I only wish I had been able to do it on one solid canvas or piece of paper - at the time the only way I was able to meet the size requirements with the resources I had was by taping a ton of other pieces of paper together.

I've been waiting a LONG TIME to upload this one. I finally cleared enough space on my floor to get up and photo it. I WILL BE REUPLOADING once I can find someplace with a scanner big enough to fit a 5ft piece of art in it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Traditional Media - a dying art?

I know, I know, I'm normally posting about animals and nature-y things on my blog if I'm not just rattling off personal, but today you get an art post.

Something I've noticed over time, wading through art online and taking account of what seems to be the most popular, is that digital art is on the rise.

Now, this makes sense of course, seeing as how digital tools are getting better, it's a lot easier to layer and fix your mistakes than it is with paint or even pencil, and you can get flashier effects in general without as much fuss if you know what you're doing. A lot of emphasis on the knowing what you're doing part as I am currently a hopeless case when it comes to digital art. It evades me.

However, there seems to be this strange trend where traditional art gets overlooked. I tried to chalk it up to the fact that the well-known artists were all just switching to digital, and that a well-known artist who does a traditional piece will still get lots of views and comments and attention. But then something happened with my own artwork that threw off that idea completely.

Now, I am not a popular artist. I don't even consider myself a particularly good one, at least not lately as I have been terribly uninspired and not really inclined to push myself to improve. I have other things on my mind, simple fact of life, so I've put off improvement in that arena for later, when I have more time and energy to devote to my hobby. I do primarily traditional-media art, particularly colored pencil and watercolor pieces as it doesn't cost a whole lot or make much mess, so I can just sort of sit on the couch and doodle. I have a few pieces that I am quite proud of, most are just mediochre.

However a while back I uploaded a digital piece that I had done, in part to cheer somebody up but also just to toy around and see what I could do, since with all my art programs and photo editors I'm still not very good. The end result was, well... it wasn't good. At all. It was this godawful piece of work that I can't even compare to my traditional pen-and-paper drawings, and yet it got more attention than ANYTHING else in my gallery, including the professional photography work which is a far sight better than most of my drawings.

I have to admit, it made me a little sick.

Is this really what we've come to? How can it be that a terrible digital piece can get more favorable reviews than one that shows much more talent, but with watercolors and pencils?

I guess it's no wonder most online artists don't bother with actual paints these days. But I do think it's a shame. And it's a mystery to me why everyone automatically labels digital as "better" even in cases where it's not.

Do me a favor: next time you see a beautiful picture that was done in real paint, real watercolor, real colored pencils, pastels, and not touched up or painted on the computer, leave a comment. Digital art programs are a great and wonderful tool, they take a lot of talent to use, but never forget the talent and work it takes to use actual, physical paints on a real canvas or piece of paper. Those people are artists too.

Don't let them go out of style.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bird discovery and rearranging

First of all, pardon my dust while I try to rearrange my blog and make it looks a little more fitting. Trying to change things around, make them look a bit softer, so far I'm failing but I'm getting there. I think. lol

However I do think I have finally discovered my problem with birds. I knew it all boiled down to my being too nervoud around them, but I couldn't place WHY. Especially since I love birds, and have no less experience with them than I do with reptiles, which I do fine with. Then it hit me as I was helping my aunt feed the baby chickens last week (I won't say chicks because they were just starting to get some adult feathering).

When a bird looks at you, it is a rather intent stare. Head tilts side to side very rapidly, which makes sense as given the way their eyes are placed they have to do this to get a good look at something. And birds are very visual. Moreso, I daresay, than we are.

However, my primary experience in behavior is with mammals. Give me a mammal of almost any type and I can handle it, or so my experience thus far has taught me. But when a mammal looks at you in that intent manner, head jerking to look at little movements, it tends to be rather a hostile gesture. Cats do it when about to attack their favorite toy (or prey), or if you're ticking them off to the point where they're about to deliver a nice hearty whack with full claws. Dog, well, they do less of the head movement but an intent stare of that sort is still a sign you need to use caution. So naturally, since my instincts have developed to work with mammals, when birds stare at me like that it makes me a little uneasy. When really all they're doing is trying to get a good look at me.

Now that I've figured this out hopefully I can train myself to work with birds a little more easily.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fox Run Soap & Sundries

You know... something I realized tonight...

The new soap... it's dulling down some of my OCD.

Most people who know me know I've got a nasty germ phobia. I mean, I'm not quite Adrian Monk but I have my days where I come darn close. So, when I have to do things like clean a litterbox or some other mess my brain reads as "germ-ridden", I used to have to wash my hands several times, using dose after dose of regular soap. Over and over till I either felt clean enough, or had to consciously force myself to stop on the insistence that surely my hands must be clean by now even if I don't feel like it. Even with antibacterial soap I had this problem. Even with other bar soap I had this problem.

But now... this plain, old-fashioned, no-frills natural lye soap... moreso the regular bars I ordered than the floral scented one (psychological I suppose)... I clean up a mess... I wash my hands... once. MAYBE twice.

That's it.

No more.

My hands feel cleaner when I wash with it.

The soap itself washes cleaner, leaves less residue on my hands.

But I don't feel as germy.

Now, I know lye has certain natural antibacterial properties... but it's not that I think of it as an antibacterial soap.

It just feels cleaner. I don't know why. It just does.

Granted, I do have a certain compulsion at the moment to go use it. But not because I think my hands need cleaned. More because I just adore the feel of it, the muted, almost waxy smell of it. The creamy texture of the lather, so different from what I'm used to.

And it's okay.

Because it doesn't tear my hands up like other soaps. God already I can't wait to show James. He's seen how dry and cracked and bloody and chapped by hands can get in the middle of winter. Now... there's still a few dry spots, but nothing's flaking or cracking or scaly anymore. My hands are soft. They actually look like a woman's hands for a change.

And the bath oil/cream/soap, whatever you wish to call it (Blooming Bath is how it's listed on her site) - I had been bathing in olive oil before that to try and curb the dry skin and it didn't really last. Plus made the tub all slippery, made me all oily which was okay if I didn't have to go anywhere, less so if I didn't want everything sticking to me. But this stuff... the moisture stays... everything's less dry. EVERYTHING. And it doesn't leave that oily film all over my skin and my bath.

And every part of me just feels cleaner.

Hopefully James has no problems with it and won't put up much fuss (can't imagine he will) - I think the Fox Run products are going to be a permanent fixture in my home... I can't go back now... it's that good. For the Corner Gas fans out there: it's bumped me into a new soap bracket.

And I'm loving every minute of it.

I've become a walking ad. lol

Monday, January 18, 2010


My parents put their dog down today. The one we brought home as a puppy after we found him running around my middle school... the one who reminded Jodi what being young was all about and extended her life a few more years. He wasn't my favorite dog in the world, but I at least owe him for that much.

Within the past year or so Freckles had developed a nasty rasping cough. It kept getting worse, so they took him tot he vet. Congestive heart failure. So, they've had him on meds for a while, kept having to up the dose further and further, until they couldn't up it anymore, and finally this winter he got bad enough they decided it was time.

Mom says he went peacefully, like he was ready to go. Makes it easier than Jodi's loss - she fought it the whole way down in spite of the fact that her arthritis pain wouldn't even let her walk. We figure she wasn't done teaching Freckles how to watch the family yet. She taught him how to bark at danger. She never did have time to teach him what NOT to bark at. So he barked at everything instead.

He was a dumb dog anyway, she didn't ever have much of a pupil to work with as we found out over the years with him. But he was a sweet dog and always meant well, even if he was pretty much an idiot.

He was most definitely dad's dog. He loved pretty much everyone (once he realized they weren't going to eat him, the big coward), but it was when dad went away that he was really lost.

Mom said they buried him right next to Jodi. As dad put it: close enough that she can reach over and bite him in the butt. She always did that. *chuckles* Normally you think of puppies pestering the older dog. Oh, no. That old fart would chase him around till he couldn't half stand it anymore when he was a pup. Completely backwards.

Seems strange that it's been that long... a whole canine lifetime since we lost her... and now he's gone too.

Don't know if they'll be getting another dog or not. I assume not yet, not for a little while at least. But I need to start spending more time at the humane society again... I suspect once they do decide to get another dog, I'll be called on to help. I've kind of become the official dog-finder for friends and family...