Monday, October 22, 2012

Update on Mouser

I did get some more photo's of Mouser's healing abscess wound today.  While the hair around the opening is falling or she is pulling it off (not sure which) the healing is progressing quite rapidly, in my opinion.  Here are some pictures:

And here's one of the ways she likes to lie when I rub her chin.  She really is a sweet girl and is becoming quite a lap cat.

A little help for Mouser Outside Cat

For several years I've fed the neighbors barn cats whenever they come over to my house. I don't leave the food out all the time as the opossums, skunks and raccoons like it, and I prefer them to not be close by.  One little cat in particular has come regularly, staying for several days, before going off on her own for a few days.  Sometimes she'll be around for a couple weeks in a row.  Since the dogs go out several times during the day she gets fed and some loving and petting when she's around.

She has learned that if I'm there the dogs won't bother her.  Ironically, she shows very little fear of them, trying to rub against them and purring.  Chipper is the only one who will stand still when she rubs against him.  The others startle and will move, or in the case of Cadee, bounce, away.  Chipper has been renamed from Charlie, since that just didn't seem to fit him well and he doesn't care what we call him as long as he gets food and to run and play.

For a long time we just called her Outside Cat.  The neighbors had a name for her, which I think is Fig, but since I wasn't sure we just stuck with Outside Cat, Outside Kitty or Outside Puddy.  Until she started to bring me mice she'd caught.  She is quite a good hunter, perfect for a barn cat.  After she'd brought several I dubbed her Mouser.  She doesn't seem to much care, so long as you pet her and scratch her chin.

About a month ago now she came in limping on her left front leg.  She didn't want me to look at it and I couldn't see anything obvious.  Since she's basically wild I figured it would be best to see if she recovered on her own.

A week later I thought I saw a reddish, sort of raw patch on the next to outside toe on her left front leg, the one she wouldn't put any weight on.  My son and I worked together to hold her carefully and put some hydrogen peroxide on her foot.  The reddish spot foamed, sure sign of infection.  There was also foaming, even more, on the other side of the same toe.  The fur hid the spot it came from, but after a bit of bubbling a thick reddish discharge came out.  We treated her foot again later that night, and again the next day.  It bubbled the next after that didn't any more.  She still was limping, and after a day she was gone on one of her rambles, limping all the way.  She is still able to jump quite well, and can move quickly if she wants to, even on just the 3 legs.

She was still limping a week later, when it was time for the dogs and Hawkeye Cat (aka Inside Cat/Puddy).  I spoke to the vet about her.  He figured it was probably an abscess.

I explained that I was afraid to bring her into the house.  Cats that live outdoors can be infected with diseases that can quickly kill a cat, like Hawkeye, who has been living indoors and not exposed to such things.  I didn't want to risk Hawkeye by bringing Mouser into the house.  Also, Mouser is an outside cat.  I know she eats dry crunchy food, and will drink water from a bowl, but no idea whether she would use a litter pan.  Nor how she would handle being inside and especially taken for a ride in a car which would be required to get her to the vet.  The vet agreed that it was a potentially grave risk and we agreed to give it another week or so to see if her foot got better and I could talk to him about her if it didn't get better.

Didn't see her for a few days, then she was back on Monday, October 15, 2012, still limping, but rubbing and purring as always.  When rubbing under her chin, which she loves, I noticed that there was dampness on her neck.  When I looked further there was a very large wound gaping open.  It was nearly 2 inches across and about an inch tall.  No blood, but it was oozing clear fluid.  The skin was completely open, showing muscle underneath.  She wasn't looking quite so fit and glossy, either.  It was late in the evening when I found this, but there was no way I could leave her to live outside with that wound.  I brought her inside, put her in a bathroom with a thick towel to sleep on, food, water and a litter box.

First thing in the morning I called the vets office.  They got me an appointment early that afternoon.  When we arrived they took her to the back to be tested for infectious disease.  They would not even consider taking her into an exam room, which confirmed my worries about Hawkeye's safety even more.  Fortunately she was negative for infectious disease.  They gave her an antibiotic shot that was good for 2 weeks, shaved the hair around the chest wound, a little bit around her bad toe on her left front leg, and another spot on her right front leg.  All were abscesses.  The chest wound was an abscess that had burst open.  They had drained the fluid out of it.  The fluid had built up in the pocket of skin under the wound, causing it to stretch open even more.  Drained of the fluids the wound opening was no longer so large, down to about 3/4 inch around.  Not nearly so large, but still plenty big enough.

The chest wound would need to be cleaned with gauze pads soaked in medication (used for surgical scrubbing) twice a day and any fluids that built up pressed out.  The vet figured it would take probably 3 or even more weeks for it to fully heal closed.  It has to heal from the outside in to prevent infection from being trapped inside.

In addition the closed abscesses on her foot and leg need to be treated several times a day with warm compresses until the abscess opens to let the infection out.

Since I will be keeping her in the house until she heals up I asked the about fleas and internal parasites.  They agreed both should probably be treated for.  They would.  So I did.  They gave me medication for several sorts of worms and I would pick up flea medication at the store the next day.

Fortunately my husband will help me doctor Mouser.  I couldn't easily have done it by myself.  She did pretty well for a wild cat, but she is still pretty well wild.  Fortunately she knows me well, and for the last couple of years I've picked her up, petted her and put her down, so she trusts me pretty well.  Ironically she is very stoic when the chest wound is cleaned.  The only thing that seems to really bother her is the warm compress on her left front foot.

Over the last week the opening has reduced in size quite a lot.  It is now about 3/8 inch high and about 1/4 inch across.  The skin and hair around it aren't looking very good.  The area was shaved, but the hair seems to be falling out as well, possiibly because the liquid that seeps out is matting it together.  We wipe the excess medication off from the surrounding hair and skin as best we can, and try to soak off any dried stuff.

At first we did the compresses twice a day, but for the last few days I've increased that to 3-4 times per day.  She is still limping and doesn't like it handled at all.

It's pretty ugly, but here are some photos taken last Friday, October 19, 2012.  As you can see, it is healing, with pink edges, not the red inflamed edges it originally had.  No pictures of that, sorry.  We had inflicted her with enough indignities without trying to add photos to it. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life is moving along and I'm still stitchin'

Haven't posted in a while.  Things around my way are doing pretty well.  The dogs went to the vet yesterday and are doing fine.  Hawkeye Cat as well.  Yes, it's quite a production when we go to the vet.  Three dogs on multi length leashes arranged so they go diagonally across from shoulder to opposite hip on down to the dog(s), and a cat in arms, also on a leash.  The dogs enjoy the vet visits, especially since once in a while I'll take them over for nothing more than to just sit in the lobby for a while until they calm down, then take them back home.  None of them seem to mind getting shots, and all love kissing and being petted by the vet and office staff.  Even our newest guy, Chip aka Chipper.  (He used to be Charlie, but this fits him better.)  He isn't nearly as afraid of new people now, and is much faster to warm up and want to be petted.  I've been practicing doing baby talk to him since he growled at one of the ladies on staff one day when she had baby talked to him.  I felt terrible about that, since it had never occurred to me that might be a problem.  It was very clear that while he was unsure already, any sort of baby talking he took as a signal that Something Very Bad was about to happen to him.

I do wonder what he went through before he was rescued.  However, now he seems to take that in stride, along with feet touching him.  That also used to freak him out.  He was in fear for his life the first time I happened to raise my foot up at him to scratch his chest.  It took a couple of weeks, but now he's happy to be petted with feet, or see a human do some strange gyrations that include feet of the ground.

Cadee is no longer the extremely shy dog we rescued years ago.  She is still cautious, but she is also a very happy, cheerful dog.  She's happy to go with you anywhere, always dances with joy when it's time for a walk or to do something.  It was a turning point for her when she finally snapped at Chip when he was too intense and chasing her one day.  So many times before that she had this look like she wanted to, but didn't think she was allowed to defend herself.  When I saw her whirl and snap at the air in his direction, the doggy version of 'get out of my space!' I praised her and told her that she was wonderful, didn't have to put up with his stuff.  From that day on she has increased in confidence.  Now she'll even play with him sometimes, even though he tends to be much higher energy than she is comfortable being around.

Cadee no longer flops onto her back whenever someone wants to pet her, and sometimes she'll even take and eat a treat.  For quite a while she would take a treat if it was offered, but would then drop it and not eat it.  Now she'll even eat it.  And she'll come over for petting, sitting or even standing up for it.  Such a major change in her behavior.

On other notes I've continued to do some work on my linen things.  I have now hemmed 4 of the nice big violet handkerchief linen towels.  I use them all the time and they are fantastic for drying my hair.  I've finished one of the medium weight purple linen kitchen towels as well.  It is getting regular use as well.  I've started to hem the second of these and am alternating work on it with work on handkerchiefs.

I have 5 of the 100% linen hankies yet to hem, 3 of the smallest size and 2 of the medium size.  I also cut out some of the linen blend for hankies.  Six per width, so 12 total.  In the last couple of days during travel and meetings I have nearly finished hemming the first one.  I decided to make up some of the blend before going back to the 100% linen.  Interestingly the blend is whiter than the 100% linen.  While it is white, it is slightly more of a cream color. Perhaps there are optical whiteners on the other, not sure.  In any case the blend is a tiny bit softer and slightly more flexible.  That probably will change since linen just gets nicer and nicer, softer and more sheen, as it is used.  Regardless, the fabrics are quite nice, very easy to work with and make beautiful hankies.

I am also glad to report that the linen sheets and pillow cases are continuing to get daily use and are holding up very well.  It is nice to see something that one has planned out then made get that much good use and appreciation.

Recently I've been tempted to make myself a nice knitted coat or vest.  Something mid-thigh or even knee length for warmth when walking outside in the colder weather.  I'm still considering designs and yarns, but am leaning towards something like Meg Swanson's long rendition of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Rib Warmer as is shown in this newsletter.  I'm nearly certain I've got directions for it in either a Spun Out or one of the many books I've already got.  Not sure if I'll go for unspun Icelandic, Sheepsdown, or something else.  Who knows, I may decide to do both a vest and a coat.  I know I'd use them both.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Linen and fountain pens

The new linen fabric that I ordered for light weight towels and my DH's medium weight sheets is in.  I've cut out 6 towels, each 1/2 the width of the fabric which is wide enough to tie the short end around my neck sort of like a cape, for my hair to lay on to dry after washing it.  They are a bit over 41 inches long, which will be long enough unless my hair grows nearly to my knees!  These towels are made of a lovely violet handkerchief linen.  Violet the color of the flowers, so dark blue-purple.  I am hand hemming one, but haven't decided whether I'll hem all of them by hand or do some on machine.  I'm not in a terrible hurry, so probably they'll end up as hand work.  The first one is over half hemmed and I'll work on it more when I've got a chance.

The medium weight linen fabric for my DH's sheets is royal blue.  I had made him some from light weight linen last year, but they were just the width of the fabric and he asked for one that is wider.  I've finished one, by machine, and he's been using it since.  I didn't try to do a french seam, I just overlapped the selvedges and stitched them down, one line of stitching at each edge, so that should be plenty strong.  The cut ends I simply folded over about 1/4 inch and straight stitched.  Simple and neat.  The narrower sheets are going to my sons, who also sleep hot.

A few years back I got my old fountain pen back out.  I have always liked fountain pens, and I love the different color inks available these days.  My husband and one of my sons also have gotten into fountain pens, and they are all the 3 of us use, given a choice.  One of my favorite pens is a Pelican M201 which I purchased from Richard Binder.  Richard custom grinds nibs (the part of the pen that writes on the paper, delivering the ink) as well as sells stock pens.  He is very well known for his work on nibs, making sure that every pen he sells writes to very specific requirements.  Richard and his lovely wife Barbara run their business and are regular visitors at various pen shows.  I see them at the Ohio Pen Show in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the nice features of the Binder's online store is that you can purchase a pen body and select for it a nib to your specifications.  My first pen from him was the Pelican M201 with a Binderized Extra Fine (XF) steel nib.  No one else I know likes this pen/nib, because the very fine line requires an extremely light touch.  Any pressure on it at all and it will feel scratchy.  However, with a light touch it simply glides on the paper, leaving an extremely fine line which dries very fast.

My second pen from him, which was purchased at the pen show, is a Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point with a custom ground 5 mm cursive italic nib.  I love this nib and pen. The automatic thin/thicker lines make writing fun and interesting, with a very distinctive flair.

I keep both of these pens inked and in use all the time, unless they are being cleaned.  However, some time ago I noticed that the Pelican nib didn't write quite like I expected.  I decided that I need to get it to Richard to have him take a look at it and perhaps tune it up.  In the mean time I haven't been using it, but I miss it very much.  So I thought I'd take a look at his web site to find out what can be done.  Learned that he isn't doing much in the way of custom pen work these days, although he does do some at shows.  This particular nib was not very expensive, since it was my 'starter', and I decided it might be time to try another nib.  Richard has a whole range of customized nibs for the Pelicans and for the Vanishing Points.  I was tempted by another Vanishing Point, but decided that I'd stick with just getting a new nib for the Pelican.  I selected a full flex XF/XXF duo-point nib.  Duo-point means it has been specially ground so that held the regular way it will write one line width, in this case Extra Fine, and turned over, the other side of the nib writes XXF.

I inked it with Pilot iroshizuku asa-gao, a lovely morning glory purple/blue.  When using the XXF the color exactly matches the color on the box.  When I use the XF side it is darker, with color depth variation and looks more blue.  Really fun and beautiful.

I've been enjoying this brand of ink in several colors lately.  I first got a bottle of this brand of ink at the pen show in the color tsutsuji, the color of Azalea's, a really intense fuchsia/magenta dark pink.  I love the color in the flowers, and this is equally beautiful.  Very bright and not usually something I'd use at the office, but I've been using it in a journal for over a year and a half.  The color was beautiful, the flow and feel of the ink on the paper very nice, so I decided to try some other colors.  Like the asa-gao I'm not using in my Pelican.  I've got the 5 mm cursive italic Vanishing Point inked with syo-ro, Pine Dew, a lovely dark green with hints of teal.  I've got a Jinhao 111 inked with yama-budo, Crimson Glory Vine, a rich pinkish purple.

All of these inks feel very nice and smooth on the paper, the colors are rich with some variation, making it interesting to write with and enjoy. One of my sons loves reds, so he is trying out momiji, Autumn Leaves.  It is the color some sugar maple leaves get in the fall, a beautiful pure red.

So many colors to enjoy.  I'd love to have more pens inked at a time, with more colors, but I just don't need that many.  I'll just take the colors in turn, whatever appeals to me when I reink my pen, or decide to ink a different pen for some reason.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sidetracked by pillowcases

I continued to make progress on the embroidered caftan until this week.  With the heat we are getting so early this spring I decided that it is a higher priority to make my husband a linen pillowcase to go with his linen sheet.  One of my sons has taken over the table I use for my sewing machine, so I decided that I'd just hand stitch the pillow case since that would also allow me to work on it during the drive to and from work.  I cut it out at home a couple evenings ago, using an old pillowcase as my 'pattern'.  All the rest of the work has been done in the car.

First I evened up the edge of the fabric that had been cut unevenly in the originally purchased fabric.  The cutters at the fabric store don't seem to care so much about such things.  I prefer to have square edges, so I pulled any threads that didn't go entirely across the end.  Then I finger pressed about 1/2 inch to turn under the make the doubled open edge facing, enclosing the cut edge.  Folded that over so there was a nice, maybe 4 inches, doubled area, pinned it in place and started stitching.

I did a running lock stitch across the folded side, not enough to be top stitched, but very close to the fold.  Once that facing had been finished I pinned the raw edges wrong sides together, so I can make a sort of thickish French seam enclosing the cut edges.  I didn't bother to cut off the selvedge, so I am making the stitching line about 1/2 inch from the edge, so as not to stitch in the selvedge.  After the edges are stitched together I'll finger press the seam, fold it inside out, repin and stitch the final seam.  Another day or so should finish it.

It would be much faster if I was doing this on the machine, or when not in a moving car, but that's OK.  I'm making great progress and finishing something that I wouldn't even have really started if not for the decision to make it by hand.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Linen adventures continue

I have continued to work on linen handkerchiefs off and on over the winter.  The embroidered linen caftan spent most of the winter waiting for me to get back to it.  With the short daylight hours I wasn't able to work on it riding to and from the office, which has been the times I was working on it.  Yesterday I put it back into the car and worked on it during the ride to and from the office, and again this morning.  I'm part way along the last short edge.  Feels good to get back at it.

I've been using the black linen caftan as my after shower breakfast outfit quite often, particularly after showering to wash my hair.  I use another linen cloth made of a beautiful deep blue to let my hair drip into it.  This blue linen is handkerchief weight, or possibly slightly heavier.  It is very thin and light, packs easily and dries very fast.  In fact, when I use it after washing my hair it is usually only at the most damp where my ends hit, often it is dry.  The really nice thing is that my hair seems to dry a lot faster when I'm  using the linen cloth.  It may be the combination of the cloth with the linen caftan, but even just the cloth really helps.

The smooth texture of the linen is also good for my hair, as it does not abrade the scales of the hair causing them to roughen up.  I need to make some more of these cloths.

The linen sheet I made for my DH has had a lot of use.  He likes it, and thinks it helps, but he would like one that is wider.  I need to get some more fabric to make him a wider sheet, and also pillowcases.  I sleep on a silk pillow case since that is very smooth for my hair, and I get cold easily.  He is usually hot, so linen is much better for him.  My sons are also interested in getting linen sheets, so I'll have to make several.