Friday, October 1, 2010
If you've been waiting, now is the time! Want a custom Gnome? I can still do it!
As always, if you want to chat, you can send me a convo on Etsy, find me in the Etsy forums, keep up with me at my main blog, or reach me on Twitter .
Thanks everyone for your support!
Monday, August 30, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Since my family always went to the dentist together, my parents also had appointments this day. First, we went to their house, where Tzipi got to meet my mom's Pomeranian puppy, Buffy.
Buffy is a sweet little dog, but she is a puppy, and Tzipi would have been in mortal danger if I left them alone. I think you can tell she's a little concerned! But, don't worry! I never let Buffy get anywhere close and Tzipi was always safe with me.
Next it was off to the dentist. Tzipi read a neat article on wolves from an old National Geographic while we waited.
My regular hygienist was on vacation, so I got to see someone new. She was very kind to Tzipi and let her sit in the chair. It's ok, Tzipi, it's my cleaning, not yours!
Tzipi asked a lot of questions about what the girl was doing to me. We had to tell her that keeping your teeth clean is very important! Thankfully, I've never had a bad experience at my biannual cleaning, so I had nothing but good stories to tell.
This was the first time I had gone since I moved, so I had to make sure they had my new address. The new receptionist was having a hard time getting my address in the system. She couldn't understand why it was not automatically filling in the city and state when she entered the zip code. One of the more seasoned employees came in and told her she had to type it in manually because they don't have any other patients who live where I do, so the system doesn't recognize the zip code! She said I must be the only one who refuses to find a new dentist. Tzipi just stood by trying really hard not to laugh.
As is tradition, after getting our teeth scrubbed clean, we have to go dirty them up in some fantastic way. We decided to go to Sakura, a Japanese hibachi restaurant.
Tzipi is all ready with her iced tea and her chopsticks!
She just could not take her eyes off of the chef. He put on quite a show while preparing our meal.
After lunch, we all wanted to further compound our now-dirty teeth with some nice ice cream. But first, my mom decided she wanted a fancy new cell phone.
Tzipi liked this one the best and my mom agreed. She even let Tzipi play with it on the ride home!
But first, we needed ice cream! I got a coffee and mint to share with Tzipi. She said it was really good.
After out little Maryland adventure, I took her home and we both went to bed. It was a long day!
Tzipi was still sleeping when I had to leave for work on Thursday, so I let her spend the day with the Gnomes again. When I came home, she was on the couch with Miss Luna surrounded by Gnomes watching Jim Henson's The Storyteller. I think Tzipi has a fondness for Jim Henson!
Friday, Tzipi came to work with me again, and we had to stop by the post office to ship a Pirate Gnome to London. That Gnome got a great send-off!
Next is a day at home today, and then Sunday brunch with the Renaissance Festival crew tomorrow in Annapolis!
Friday, July 30, 2010
You would not believe what I found when I got home! Tzipi was on the couch surrounded by Gnomes and Sylphs and piggies of every kind, listening to Nigel, the Gnome with Tome, read a story.
It was the cutest thing ever! And Tzipi seemed to really enjoy it, particularly since she had helped me make some of those books the day she arrived.
After that, Tzipi helped me make dinner. It was noodles with salmon and veggies.
This is when I noticed one of the origami spiders has followed us home from the office on Monday. And Minty, the Woolly Gnome has really taken a liking to Tzipi too.
After dinner, we all settled down with Miss Luna to watch Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
Wednesday is a trip to Maryland!
Monday, July 26, 2010
Tzipi had a long trip to get to me from Arizona. While she knows I just moved and was excited to help get me settled, I thought it would be a good idea to give her a chance to rest up.
First, she picked out a movie to watch. I had a lot of things in my collection that she'd never seen before. She chose the Muppet Movie. Good choice!
I did have to get some work done and Tzipi did a great job helping me make some books for Gnomes with Tomes™. She was amazed that they were just her size!
But, she did have a long day, so we both turned in early. She got to sleep in a special shell bed next to my Fairy House from Rachel with a bookcase nearby so she could read if she had trouble sleeping. Of course she had no trouble sleeping!
This morning meant I had to go to work. Tzipi got all dressed up and sat with Noam the Gnome while I worked. They chatted and told stories of their adventures (because Noam likes to travel too). The origami spiders liked to hear the stories too! Tzipi admitted to not being fond of spiders, but said the origami ones weren't bad.
Unfortunately, I had a dreadful migraine and had to leave work early. Tzipi said Noam showed her around my yard while I took a nap. I don't like them going outside alone, because there are many feral cats about, but Noam said they were safe.
Tomorrow, there is a big prospective client coming to the office and we've all been ordered to give a flawless first impression. Tzipi told me she was a little nervous because she doesn't have any real business attire with her. She's decided to hang at the house for the day. There are plenty of Gnomes to keep her company!
You can now choose a blank tome, a tome written in Gnomish (illegible scribbling), The King of the Waters - a complete fairy tale by Cael Jacobs, or Taya's Charms Part 1 - an epic in multiple volumes by Erin Bridges.
You pick the robe color, eye color, and the content of your tome! Order your Gnome with Tome today!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Be sure to check out that blog every Thursday for more featured artists, often with giveaways! You might win next time!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tell me what color you want his robe and eyes to be. While the listing says only blank books are available right now, contact me if you really want something else. I might be able to do it!
There are four Gnomes with Tomes™ already made, if you want a little less waiting time. They are: brown robe with pale blue eyes, brown robe with gold eyes, hunter green with gold eyes, and teal with bright blue eyes.
Take home a special Gnome today!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Check out my shop for FREE worldwide shipping on all items! See the special Christmas in July section for discounts on Holiday Gnomes and a couple select sets!
You can search Etsy for "christmasinjuly" and "cij" to find other great sales from artists across the site. Happy shopping!
Check out her blog and enter to win a complete Gnome set (that is Garden Gnome, Cape of Warmth, and Gnomish Travel Basket) in the colors of your choice!
I'm also featured with the wonderful Visual Sentiments. You can enter that giveaway too!
Click here and good luck!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Pirates For the Gulf-Etsians Help Animals Caught In The Oil Spill (please re-blog and re-tweet thanks)
[copied message follows]
I received this email about how some are helping animals effected by the Gulf oil spill, bless their hearts. If you love animals and would like to help please re-blog this or tweet about it. Thanks so much. I will just copy and paste the email here:
Pirates For the Gulf is the name of the charity organization (we're currently working on getting 501.c3 status) working to benefit the animals and ecological system affected by the gulf oil spill. The fundraiser event will be held at Holly Hills Country Club in Ijamsville, MD on July 17th. The proceeds benefit the National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Institute. The evening will be filled with food, drink, and entertainment. Local businesses have been kind enough to donate their time and items to a raffle being held that night. A local band, belly dance troupe, sword swallower, and tarot reader will be entertaining the attendees, too.
We've contacted many news venues locally but have found it difficult to get the word out nationwide. Our hope is that more people will come together to do similar fundraisers across the U.S.
The oil spill is a much bigger problem than most people seem to know or want to know, the repercussions of which will affect the Gulf of Mexico for many years to come. We feel that every little bit helps to those working to save the animals trapped in the area.
For folks in the MD, VA, or DC area, tickets can be purchased at www.piratesforthegulf.ticketleap.com and cost $60 each. More information can also be found on our Facebook group, Pirates For the Gulf.
The Alchemist's Star
Thursday, July 1, 2010
The official dates are July 15th through July 25th. Some sellers are starting early, some are running later. Each participating shop will have their own terms of sale, but you can be sure there will be some great deals! And it's not all Christmas-themed items either!
My sale will start a little earlier than the official start date. Look for a return of my Holiday line of Gnomes at $10 off. The special sets in my shop will be marked down 20%. And, free worldwide shipping on everything! Custom orders are available. If you need a Gnome but don't see the right colors, just let me know and I'll make one for you. If you need a Gnomish Travel Basket or Cape of Warmth, I can do it. Do you want to put an early order in for one of my Gnomes with Tomes™? No problem! Also, you don't have to wait for my sale to officially start! If you see something you need right now, contact me and I'll be happy to adjust to whatever sale price may apply to that item and reserve the listing for you. Just let me know!
Fun things are happening in July! Search for the terms "ChristmasinJuly" and "CIJ" to find sale items. Happy shopping!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
My dear friend Laurel noticed a Gnome in the below picture from this post that isn't yet in the shop. He was hinted at way back in November, brought up again in February, but I have not talked about this special kind of Gnome since. Since the observant Laurel pointed him out on the Civilization board, this is a good time to talk about it!
I'm talking about that little blue-robed guy to the right of the Pirate Gnome with the fat book in front of him!
Gnomes with Tomes™
These very special collectible Gnomes are actually quite complicated. As you can see, they wear hooded robes with big bell sleeves. These Gnomes have arms so as to carry their little Gnomish tomes and wear little wire glasses.
Gnomes with Tomes™ are different from their basic Garden Gnome counterparts. They wear slightly pointed hoods instead of the traditional pointy red hats. These Gnomes have arms with sleeves so they can hold their little tomes.
Each miniature book is painstakingly handmade by me. Some tomes are blank, some tomes are written in Gnomish, some tomes have an actual tiny story printed on its pages. Some have even been known to hold a sheet of music! Book covers are made with decorated scrapbooking paper, wall paper scraps, handmade card paper, or leather (sometimes genuine, sometimes synthetic).
Learning to make miniature books has been an incredibly involved but very fun process! Making little books with legible stories is a very long process that takes hours upon hours of re-typing the tale in the correct format page by tiny page. They must be proof-read, and a prototype made to insure the pages print correctly and the story reads as intended in the finished book. Formatting to book completion without revisions takes about ten total hours! Thankfully, the format process only has to be done once.
To show how very special these Gnomes are, they will come in a special collectors display box with a certificate of authenticity. The box is lined in awesome paper printed like a bookshelf. Gnomes may be removed and gently handled, of course, and their little books can be read if those little books have something to read within. The wire glasses, plastic safety eyes, and some book material make them not suitable for children. These Gnomes are designed to be collectible!
Gnomes with Tomes™ are not available in the shop yet. As soon as I locate the necessary materials from my move, I will make them available by custom order. You will be able to specify eye color and robe color and tell me if you want a blank book, a book written in Gnomish, or a tiny story of my choice (note that stories may be one chapter of a larger adventure, subsequent chapters will be available later). Some stories will be printed in limited editions!
I am also looking for writers! If you have a short story that would be Gnome-appropriate and you are willing to grant me a limited license to make it in miniature and include it in a Gnomes with Tomes™ series, I'd be happy to! Short stories are preferred, but I'd be willing to make a chaptered set if it's a longer story (I can't write short stories, you see, all of mine end up epic. That's why most written tomes will come in chapters). You will receive the final prototype miniature book(s) of your story (remember 10+ hours of work per volume to get it there!), get full credit for the story in every issue, retain full rights of future publishing of your work, and you may have me discontinue your series in miniature at any time. The first person to grant me permission to use one of his stories loved his little book so much he has commissioned me to make an entire collection of some of his works in miniature, to include tales I have permission to use with Gnomes and those I don't. I can't wait to get started on that!
Contact me if you just can't wait for me to be ready and want me to start on your special Gnomes with Tomes™ Gnome right away! I hope you can tell I'm very excited about this line of Gnomes. It has been more than nine months in development!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Read the interview on the Egg Team's Blog and enter for a chance to win an awesome handmade pillow!
My favorite part: "A self-admitted obsessive reader, Laura has been known to get in an elevator and read the emergency instructions 'simply because I have twenty seconds of free time and there are words posted on the wall.'" I do that too!!
Go check out her feature and her shop and enter for a chance to win!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
See our blog post for details. Search participating shops for the pretty diamond pictured below. Send in your answers for a chance to win! The prize package is fabulous and you might find a new shop you just love too!
Friday, May 14, 2010
It's kind of complicated, because my current lease will expire before my settlement date. The seller knows this, however, so is letting me move my possessions in a week before we settle. I just can't live there!
Because of my rather crazy timetable, I will be putting my shop in vacation mode some time this afternoon and it will remain until I get connected at my new home. This should be around June 2nd.
As always, you can have a look at my sold items for an idea of what I can do. I won't be without a computer and internet connection until the end of the month, so I can still be reached through a Conversation or e-mail. Depending on where I am in packing, I may be able to open the shop for you if there's a Gnome you have to have! Just ask me!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Join the Etsy Goodie Goodies street team in this fun Buy & Replace Treasury!
How it works: you buy an item featured in the Treasury. An item of yours replaces that item in the Treasury. Then, someone buys your item from the Treasury, and an item of theirs replaces that item in the Treasury. You can buy another item from the Treasury to get back in. It's like a chain reaction, you get cool stuff and you make a sale. Easy peasy! Join us and have fun!
And check out my Zombie themed Treasury while you're there!
I've tried all I can to change the vision. I've tried to arm my dream-self with lots of guns. I've tried to think of other things before going to sleep in hopes that some other dream will appear to me. I've even tried writing it down, thinking that once it's played out I'll be done with it. Nothing seems to be working.
So, in the spirit of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" I'm bringing back the Zombie Gnome! Do you remember the Zombie Gnome from the Thirteen Gnomes of Halloween collection? They are back! There are more of them! And they still want your brains!
There's another addition to my undead Gnomish horde. You may remember the blood-sucking Vampire Gnome* from my Halloween collection. That guy was done in Dracula style. Well, Stephenie Meyer reinvented the vampire and the Garden Gnomes couldn't help but try it out! Joining the Gnomish ranks are Sparkly Vampires, complete with kind gold eyes and dripping blood! My camera can't quite capture the sparkly thread that has been working into these Gnomish Vampires. Also new for Garden Gnomes: hair made out of hairpin lace! Since vampires are always a little different (and that can't be more true than in the Twilight mythos), these Gnomes have abandoned their hats!
** Zibbet shop is coming soon! Stay tuned!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The first is an awesome hand sewn bag in a pretty coral color that reminds me of beach sand. The kitchen towels make me think of the cool air before a thunderstorm, sitting with my warm tea as I watch it approach. Speaking of tea, the coasters are perfect for setting a tall, sweating glass of iced tea upon, poured from the beautiful rose pitcher. Tell me, don't those pretzels look terribly yummy? The adorable scarf makes me think of summer festivals with henna artists and frozen oranges. The awesome bag is perfect for taking a book and a towel to the beach while wearing a beautiful choker in sea glass colors. Summer is a great time to hang with the girls or the significant other. Why not sent them an invitation? Did anyone else play kickball in the street with the other kids in the neighborhood? The rule was the game was over when the street lights came on! Oh, I'm back to some yummy tea while watching the black clouds roll in. And finally, a lovely clock that reminds me of picnics in the park on a hot afternoon.
I'm ready for the warmer days to be here!
Monday, March 15, 2010
Go to http://etsygoodiegoodiesteam.blogspot.com/ for rules of the game and how to enter. The prize is fabulous!
Friday, March 12, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
The cardiologist: It started with shoving Miss Luna into the cage, which has always been a chore. She had a little panic attack in the car and soiled herself. She never did that before. I don't blame her, of course, for being nervous about getting in the cage now. If I've seen enough of veterinary doctors, I'm sure she really has.
I liked this place, though. They brought us into a room where she could get out of the cage, wander around, get cleaned up, look out the window, and kind of calm down a little. I was with her every moment. She was playing peek-a-boo with one of the technicians. The lady would peek in through the window, and Miss Luna would meow when she saw her. My kitty was on her best behavior. She was talking to me (which I love) and she came to me when I called for her. Everyone said that was impressive. Then the doctor came in and listened to her heart and all of that. I told her about typical behavior: how Miss Luna puts herself near me when I'm working and will come and get me if I get up and take too long. The doctor described that as "needy." That may be, but I love that she does it. So, if Miss Luna needs me, I need her just as much.
After a little bit more time to wander around the room while they were getting the machine ready, they brought us into the exam room. Poor baby had two techs and me holding her down on the table while the doctor covered her with slime. If you've ever had an echocardiogram, you know exactly what I mean. Frankly, it's not very fun. Miss Luna was very still for this, and even closed her eyes for a bit. We then turned her over and slimed the other side. She was less calm about this one.
At the end, the doctor showed me that she did have an enlarged heart, and the walls of the left ventricle are a little on the thick side. This does cause the heart to pump harder than it should, but right now, it's not a big issue. Her regular vet needs to check her heart every six months and we have to go to the cardiologist every year for another echo. This is because it is almost inevitable that her heart will be a problem but, as long as we stay on top of it, we should be able to catch any issues soon enough. The doctor thinks at some point she will be on daily medication, but it's not needed right now.
The following week, she went in to have more blood drawn for another toxoplasmosis screening. Again, she had a panic attack in the car and soiled herself. I hope she will calm down, or get used to her vet visits (as they will be many) to stop doing that. It really breaks my heart that she's so upset about it now. Anyway, this hospital has never ordered this test before, so I didn't get results until this week.
And the results were inconclusive.
This kind of toxo screening is an antibody titer - it looks for the concentration of toxo antibodies in her system. A high concentration would show an active infection. There were more antibodies than when she was first tested in the emergency hospital on January 10th, but not high enough to lead the doctor to believe she was fighting an active infection. This means Miss Luna's exposure to toxo was likely years ago, probably when she was a stray kitten. She has toxoplasmosis, that much is sure, but nothing says for sure that toxo was the cause of her sickness, or even that exposure to something else (like the bartonellosis that the other cat has) would cause it to manifest symptoms.
What does all this mean? Well, it means we don't really know what caused the fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and very obvious neural distress that landed her in the emergency hospital. We don't know if the antibiotic course she was given for toxo would take care of whatever the cause was if it was something else. It means we don't know if she could get sick again, and we'll have to go through this whole process again. That part of it really fills me with dread. I never want to see her moving like that again. Further more, since we don't really know, we don't know if she will expose Callie to anything if I were to bring her with me.
What we do know is that, exposure to bartonellosis or not (which we did not test for but it is highly likely she has it too), bartonelosis does not cause the neurological symptoms that I witnessed. There was something else going on, and it may or may not be the toxo. And I may never know for sure.
I'm going to visit some friends this weekend. right now, I really wish I wasn't. I really want to stay home with my kitty. I haven't gone away for more than one night (and that was only once) since she got sick and, remember, she got sick after I came back from being away for an extended weekend. I can't help but be a little worried. Physically, Miss Luna seems back to her old self, but I don't know what almost three whole days away from me will do. Remember, as the doctor said, Miss Luna needs me. Phoenix said she would be home all weekend and would keep an eye on Miss Luna for me and would call if she seems to be even slightly out of sorts. So, I just need to breathe and go about my plans, and trust that my roommate would let me know of any changes. I think she thought I was being just a little too anxious. I can't help it. I need Miss Luna too.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
What they mean by "artist's gallery" is like a craft fair and exhibition, only no selling will be taking place (because it's illegal to exchange money for goods or services on Federal park property). So, it will be a showcase of my work, while working and talking to people about my process and techniques. People will also have the opportunity to order and pay for items from me in advance to be delivered at the festival, and to place orders for future payment and delivery during the festival.
For some reason, I feel like this is more within the time I can spare than writing another workshop is this year. (And, I can write the workshop as I have time so it will be ready for next year.) That being said, I'm at a loss as to how to prepare for this! I think I'm going to offer a festival discount, and I know I'll be putting my shop in vacation mode for the duration and taking my inventory with me. It's easy to crochet on the go (I do it all the time) and easy enough to bring needle felting and mala-making things with me, but I don't want to ignore my spirit dolls either - which would be extremely appropriate for this venue. I'm not sure how to make that part of my craft portable.
In addition, since no selling is taking place on the site, should I bother to build up my inventory like one would do for a craft fair? I do know that I want to get more spirit dolls made, since I only have two examples on hand right now. What else? Am I missing anything?
Oh, I'll need some kind of way to take orders. I guess a log for specs and addresses, and I can print up some cards with my Paypal information, maybe? Or take down their information and send them an invoice, I could do that. Of course, I could send everyone to Etsy, and give them a code for the festival discount, but I do need a non-Etsy alternative as well. I could take checks because these are local people (and the festival would know how to contact them if something goes wrong). Frankly, I hate the idea of future orders, because how many people really ever follow through with those? Pre-orders, though, might happen and would be grand. But just showing off my items and spending a couple days talking about my creative process would be great too! I need to find some promotional items somewhere!
Does anyone have any other ideas for me?
I've been dabbling in needled felting. I've made sheep and mushrooms and baskets and grapes. I've made tiny tiny things to fit in tiny terrariums. So, the other day, I took note of the time, and set out to needle-felt a Gnome.
Success! These guys took just about an hour a piece, and I think I can cut that back more as I go. They work up quick and, if I do say so myself, incredibly cute!
Here they are, showing with another sneak peak that is about the size of my regular Gnomes. I'm not ready to tell you about this new line, yet!
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
With this line come the redesigned female Gnomes! I've made female Gnomes before, but I've long felt they could be even better. These more youthful girl Gnomes are adorable with their little braids and bright red lips!
My two little godsons (14 and 18 months) have been testing Gnomes for Kids for durability. Their moms report that the youngest loves to carry his Gnome around, and sometimes throw it at the eldest. I will always recommend parents supervise their children while playing, but the moms do say the soft Gnomes don't appear to hurt when thrown. At this time, only spot cleaning is recommended. Sending it through the washing machine may destroy the doll. (We do plan to test this in the near future.)
I've been working hard on Gnomes for Kids. Check out the newest Garden Gnomes in the shop today! I hope you and your little ones love them as much as I do!
The awesome mushroom pitcher came from the very talented Vicki of StellasFinds! Check out her shop for other fabulous vintage discoveries!
Friday, January 29, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I did finally get a chance to explain to my roommate why I need to get Miss Luna tested for bartonellosis (or, rather, that I will ask a doctor about it) even when her doctor said it wasn't necessary to test the other cats. Simply stating, if I ever want the diabetic cat that I had to leave with my parents in my home again, I need to know exactly what she may be exposed to. My roommate seemed a bit more understanding about it.
They both got the impression that I was in a pissed-off mood when we talked last week. I kind of was, but not at them or the kitten who was the start of the whole mess - just the mess in general. Particularly since the ordeal cost me far more money for one cat than it cost them for three, and Miss Luna far more stress (to include a night in the ER) than their cats had to endure. How can I not be upset about it? But, it is out of my control, and that's why I'm not bitter or blaming.
Just paying my bills and scheduling follow-ups as needed.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Of course, you can always contact me if a Holiday Gnome expires before you get to it.
They're all currently $10 off! It's never too late for a Spider Gnome!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Miss Luna's doctors found evidence of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii. In a nutshell, it's incredibly common for a cat to be infected with this parasite yet rare for them to show symptoms. However, the symptoms of toxoplasmosis can account for everything that we've been seeing in all cats, including the kitten's blindness (which we thought was caused by feline herpesvirus).
The last cat to go to the vet was Roscoe a few days ago, and Roscoe does not have an exposure to toxoplasmosis. This doctor is certain that the problem is bartonellosis. This is a bacterial infection that can cause fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. It does not account for the additional symptoms I saw in Miss Luna, nor Aura's blindness. This (different) doctor decided on bartonellosis because a household epidemic of toxoplasmosis is improbable because the parasite is so common and cats rarely show symptoms.
But, and here's the fun part, bartonellosis is just as common and showing symptoms of it is just as rare as toxoplasmosis. How does this doctor account for two cats getting bartonellosis and one getting toxoplasmosis and all three showing symptoms of their respective infections when both infections rarely produce symptoms at all? And everyone in the household trusts their own doctors about what is being found.
Needless to say, I'm unbelievably frustrated. Nothing is conclusive, no conclusions add up, and after all the costs, stress, antibiotics, tests, and hassles, we may never know what's really going on.
Truth be told, I just want Miss Luna to be well, to be herself again. And she is improving greatly. She's waking me up in the morning, begging for food, trying to get my roommate's steak, and has started jumping on the kitchen counter to lick the fish juice off the Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine. But, the other side of that is that it's also a really good idea to know what was wrong. I need to know if it is contagious, not just for the other cats in the home, but if I ever need to cat-sit my parents' diabetic cat where I would normally bring Miss Luna with me, I can't. I can't risk Callie, the diabetic cat, getting sick. I need answers. And it looks like the whole thing is going to be nothing but speculation.
Miss Luna goes to the cardiologist next week and the following week she is to have another blood test to check the toxo levels. I'm going to talk with a doctor then. I'm going to have all my records and notes and a timeline. I need to know if there is further concern.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The ER doctor called last night to say one of the tests showed an exposure to Toxoplasma gondii (not a confirmed toxoplasmosis infection, just exposure, but the test is somewhat inconclusive in that regard).
Here is what I know of the parasite. It is common. Many humans are carriers. The risk of toxoplasmosis is the reason pregnant women should not change a cat's litter box, though people are far more likely to become infected from tainted meat than from their cats. Many cats already have it and may never show symptoms. However, once they have it, they develop antibodies and should never show symptoms after the initial infection. They also only shed eggs after the initial infection.
Toxoplasmosis can cause fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, pneumonia, blindness, loss of coordination, or seizures. Miss Luna had fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, respiratory issues, and loss of coordination. And, get this; it's possible that toxoplasmosis, not Feline Herpesvirus, caused Aura's blindness. Actually, with this news, it's highly likely.
That also means it's highly likely that Aura brought the parasite into an environment that should have been, for all intents and purposes, free from it. Symptoms, if they appear at all, are usually after initial infection, which means it wasn't dormant in Miss Luna and just choosing to come out now. It means exposure was recent. It also means that, once it runs through the cats of the house, they will all have the proper antibodies and any eggs still in the environment won't harm them. It further means that, once it has run through and the period of egg-shedding is over, there is no reason why I can't take Miss Luna with me when I visit my parents if I want. There's a bit of a bright side. This is assuming my information from the doctor and my research is correct.
Now, Dreá had the fever/loss of appetite/lethargy bit, but they didn't test for toxoplasmosis. Roscoe had a slight fever and some lethargy, but my roommate did not take him to a doctor. It is possible that Roscoe has a stronger immune system than the other two cats, so symptoms didn't hit him as hard. I wonder if the anemia or enlarged heart is what made the symptoms so awful for Miss Luna.
There are still mysteries, and it's still frustrating. But, if my conclusions are correct, that actually makes things a little easier because, once we get this under control, our animals shouldn't have any more problems and shouldn't be a danger to other animals. Miss Luna has a follow-up today to check her red blood cell count, and I'll be sure to bring my questions. And I'll be coming home with yet another antibiotic. They also want to re-test her levels in a few weeks and she still needs to see a cardiologist.
My poor baby. She had to spend a weekend with the evil (but helpful) doctors, and she has to go back at least thrice more (and, if we're both lucky, that's all she'll need). She has to take this awful antibiotic and another will be added (hopefully in a pill form). The good side is that she is doing worlds better. She's talking to me like she used to, begging for her food, and prodding me to wake up. She's all over the house, climbing on things, jumping on things. That little part of her arm where they had to shave her for the catheter looks funny, doesn't it? Poor girl!
Monday, January 11, 2010
Let me tell you about this cat. Her name is Miss Luna. The year was 2004, and I was living in my parents' house in Maryland. This wasn't a particularly cold December but, as all Decembers seem to go in Maryland, it had its cold days and nights.
Early in the month, we had started to see a little black kitten around the house. It was short-haired and all black, except for a little white chin and tiny white paws. And it was a tiny kitten. I felt bad for it and so started to leave food on the porch for it. We already had a cat, a large calico named Callie, so leaving food wasn't too hard. They were forecasting snow on the second weekend, and I was concerned for the kitten. I opened the garage door a few inches and set it so I could hit the button and close the door. I moved the food into the garage, and gradually moved it farther and farther in. During the week, I saw the cat in there, but it ran out before I hit the button. Another time, I hit the button, but the door bounced back open and the cat escaped. It was the evening of Thursday, the 9th, when my mother called while I was driving home from work to say she had successfully caught the kitten! I went into the garage to check on her, and she climbed up the door and sat on the track to get away from me. This was not the same kitten I had seen! This one was long-haired, and had a white crescent shape on her nose.
We caught her and caged her and took her to the doctor on Saturday morning. She was so little; at a glance she appeared to be six weeks old. Judging by her teeth, the doctor announced that she was really at least six months old! My main concern was if she had any kind of disease that she would pass on to Callie if we kept her. The doctor gave her a clean bill of health.
Over the next months, I worked with her. She was feral through and through. She hissed and bit and scratched. While she did meow, the sound that came out of her throat was a kind of whispered "ack." I held her with thick leather gloves as mom cleaned her litter box. We kept her in an unused closet for a couple weeks. I held her and played with her several times a day. Next, we let her out into the unused bedroom for a few weeks, and I still held her and played with her every day. Many experts say there comes a point where you simply cannot tame a wild cat, and most of them say Miss Luna was past that point in age. But I worked with her daily, several times a day. I worked up to the point where I didn't need gloves. She found her meow and her purr. Eventually, we let her into the house, where she was perfectly content to stay, to play with Callie (much to Callie's annoyance) and to get into all sorts of mischief.
I could talk for quite some time about Miss Luna's life in the house and the unbelievably cute things she did. She grew into a very sweet cat. She was still very small, the most petite cat I've ever owned, and her tail had a little crook in it, probably from a break in her youth, the doctor said. As for the black cat with the white chin that I had first seen? He lived as a neighborhood stray for a couple years, but met his untimely end in a battle with a car on the main neighborhood road. I must remind myself that I can't save them all.
Fast forward to 2008. That March, our regular veterinarian retired shortly after diagnosing Callie with diabetes. Callie was in a dreadful state; she had lost much of her energy and was no longer using the litter box. For that reason, I couldn't take her with me when I moved into a condo at the end of May. I could, however, make her life a little easier by taking Miss Luna with me. I needed one of my girls, after all. It was a couple weeks after moving in that I brought Miss Luna over. My roommate had two cats already and I wanted all of us to get settled before putting Miss Luna in a new environment. She adjusted fairly well, but the other cats (who are much bigger than my little gal) tormented her frequently.
After a time, she started sleeping on the bed with me at night. This was something she never did at the house, mostly because Callie claimed my bed. Miss Luna spends her time near me. If I'm working at my desk, she's snoozing on the bed behind me. If I'm in the living room, she's on one of the chairs nearby. If I get up to get some water or hunt for a certain color of yarn and take too long, she'll come looking for me. I've gotten rather used to this.
This past November, my roommates brought a kitten into our home. She was eight weeks old, mostly blind, and had fleas. There is a story about this kitten all its own, but the short of it is that the cause of her blindness is Feline Herpesvirus, which is incurable and, while there is a vaccine, it will not prevent the other cats from getting it if they are exposed. I did not know of this kitten's condition when I agreed to my roommates taking her in. I told them to be sure she didn't have anything that she could pass to the other cats, they assured me she didn't. They were wrong, but by the time we all realized that, the damage had been done. My roommate now thinks taking Aura in was a mistake, not Aura's fault of course, nor mine.
Three weeks ago or so, Dréa (one of my roommate's cats) developed a fever. Blood tests did not show she was fighting an infection. The doctor could not explain the fever at all. Dréa got some antibiotics and the fever cleared up in 24 hours.
On January 3rd, I came home from an extended weekend with my parents (I had also spent the previous weekend with them). Miss Luna was not begging for food as she normally did. I put it down for her anyway, and she ate maybe half of it. I asked my roommates if they noticed anything wrong, and they said they had not. That told me she was mad at me for being away. If you've ever owned cats, you'd know this was highly likely. In truth, I wanted to take her with me for the weekend but, since we don't know what adopting Aura may have exposed her too, I couldn't risk spreading that further by exposing Callie (who has enough problems with her diabetes).
As the week progressed, Miss Luna was still not quite acting herself, but she seemed to be improving. And then she seemed to not be improving. I'm used to her begging for every meal and waking me up if I sleep too late (I feed her at the same time every morning, even on weekends when I don't have to go to work). On Saturday, I slept right through my 5:30 alarm and didn't wake up until 10 or so. Miss Luna did not attempt to wake me, which she usually does around 6:30 or 7 if I oversleep. I put food in her bowl and she ate about half of it, which she normally inhales every last kibble, and climbed back on my bed for more sleep. I went about my day. I didn't feed her lunch, because she still had half of breakfast in the bowl. When I came home around 7 in the evening, about half of that was gone. But, there was still food from breakfast!
It's hard to describe what I noticed here. She had flopped onto the floor and was breathing loudly. Her right hind leg seemed to have been causing her pain, as she didn't put any weight on it after I picked her up and set her down. I carried her into the living room so she would be nearby as I worked on something. She rolled onto her side and covered her eyes with her paw, like the light was hurting her, and it was shaking. She then stood up, arched her back like she was stretching, jumped off the chair, and sprawled onto the floor. She picked herself up and, still with the arched back with her back feet turned inward, walked gingerly across the floor to the carpet. That was enough for me. I called the emergency clinic and they told me to bring her in.
My roommate came with me, after giving her completely non-professional assessment that she didn't think my cat needed a doctor. They admitted Miss Luna right away. They found she was moving fine, but took some x-rays and discovered she had an enlarged heart. This makes giving antibiotics and fluids via IV difficult. They drew some blood and started some tests to try to find out what was wrong. They reported that she had a fever of 105.1 and started an antibiotic. We went home around 10:30. Without my cat, who needed to stay for treatment and tests.
They ordered tests for bacteria and parasites, and found through blood work that she was anemic and needed a different antibiotic. Some time in the night, she was showing difficulty breathing and they stopped the IV. It was a very very hard night spent without her.
In the morning, I discussed with the doctor the possibility of taking her home. He wanted to consult with the day-time doctor and give her a chance to further stabilize. At 5:00 in the evening, they let me come and get her. She has a suspension antibiotic (that really must taste awful to a cat), as she still had a slight fever. I have to follow-up with the regular vet to check her red blood cell level and the progress of the anemia. I have to follow-up with a cardiologist to check for heart disease. I am still waiting to hear about the tests that were sent out to the lab.
After all of this, they don't know what caused the problem, and it seems like everything that they found may have contributed in some way to the symptoms she was experiencing, all independent of each other. Was it exposure to Feline Herpesvirus? Something that Aura may have had that was transmitted through fleas? A fluke that an indoor-only cat would catch something infectious at all? A virus that has to work its way through all our cats before we're rid of it? Hopefully the tests will yield some answers.
Now, I am faced with a high vet bill that I have no idea how I'm going to pay off, and it's not over yet. I still have two follow-ups of more tests at least. My dreams of moving out of this rented condo into a purchased house when our lease is up in May are gone. My boyfriend and I were planning a trip to Miami in the spring, which I had to cancel.
On the bright side, Miss Luna is doing better. She was begging for her meals again. She was a little jumpy, and I'm still trying to keep her quiet and calm. It has only been one night since I brought her home, but she is doing better.
Now and for the foreseeable future, all purchases in my Etsy shop will go towards paying for Miss Luna's hospital care. We would be so grateful if you could please find it in your heart to help a cat by buying a Gnome. Thank you.