Unanchored Thoughts

Bits and pieces of musings about family, friends, social issues, and whatever else travels through my head without a purpose.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Anonymity at the market

On Saturday Graeme and I ventured down to the Alexandria Farmer's Market - the one at City Hall. I've never been to this particular market and it was a beautiful day, so we decided to go on a little adventure. I favor farmer's markets, in general. Having grown up on a large vegetable garden, veggies with dirt on them are comforting. And, I like the idea of buying locally, though I question the definition of local when I visit a market in March and there is "fresh" corn for sale. We aren't frequent farmer's market visitors, mainly because I forget, or get lazy, or lack cash. On this particular visit I think I was looking for something a little more than a fresh tomato (though I did find one). You see, every year when I visit my father in upstate New York we go to the village farmer's market. I don't particularly need fresh fruit, or a croqueted tissue box cover, or a hand carved bird's nest on each visit, but I do need the community. Without fail I run into Mr. Bunn, my high school prom date's father; or Mrs. Smith, my 4th grade best friend's mom; or Mrs. Dunshee, my high school physics teacher. I'm always with my father, so these people don't just walk by, which they might otherwise do because my hair is now 6 inches shorter, I wear glasses, and on the last visit I was carrying a 3 month old baby. Not exactly the picture of my high school days. But, in the familiar presence of my dad they stop, stare for a minute, and then give me a big bear hug and we discuss what I've been doing for the past 18 years. Though, of course, most of them already know because my dad loves to talk. And, I get to hear what their kids, friends from my formative years, are doing.

In this big, expansive world we live in it gives me great comfort to know that I can always go back to the Farmer's Market in Hamilton, NY and feel like I belong. So, as Graeme and I ventured out to the Alexandria Market on Saturday I realized I was looking for more than dirty vegetables. It was a bit of a lonely feeling, until a woman I know from a mom's group I was part of (and still am, though we don't get together weekly anymore) wandered over and we chatted while Graeme and Grace played. My sense of community in Hamilton (Earlville, really) didn't just happen over night, I'm sure. It's just that it became part of my bones over the years and I lived there for 18 years. However, I wonder if I'll ever feel at home in the Greater DC Metro Area.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Knox Knews

We went to the vet today for a monthly check-up for Knox. His white blood cell count was a bit low last month, so they wanted to follow-up with him to see if the counts have increased at all. (Otherwise, we would have waited two months before returning.) We won't know the blood results until early next week. In the meantime, however, the physical exam revealed a mass high up under his rib cage. It was difficult for the doctor to feel because of its location, but it was definitely an irregular mass. It could be enlarged lymph nodes or possibly the tumor on his stomach. What makes this a bit of a concern is that the doctor has not previously noticed this mass. He admitted that he could have just missed it before or it could be that the cancer has returned. We don't know if we ever really put Knox into remission, but if the chemo is going to work it does its magic within a few weeks, after which point you hope for some sort of remission that lasts (in our case, for a few months). Knox has only been on chemo treatment for 2 months, so the presence of the mass (either new or previously undetected) is not good. It means that the cancer has either become resistant to the chemo already or it never really worked in the first place. Because of the out-of-pocket way in which most (including Knox's) pet care is funded repeated ultrasounds to view changes in the tumor are a bit cost prohibitive (about $400 each).

We aren't necessarily surprised by the news. First, we never expected that we would cure Knox, though we did certainly hope for a longer span of disease-free time. Second, he has started vomiting a bit more frequently. Immediately following treatment the vomiting ceased. About two weeks ago we noted that he was vomiting a few times a week. This did coincide with his switch to dry food (by his own volition), but we know enough not to attribute the change in behavior to the food exclusively.

So, the bottom line is that together this is not good news. We are still processing the information and are sort of numb about it right now. We certainly know the day when we have to say good-bye is looming, but it's too painful to think about that point, so we just move through our days loving him as much as we can.

We are switching his treatment slightly by increasing the prednisone (steroid) by 50%. Cats tolerate it well and it's something we should do, according to the vet. We will return in 2 weeks to assess the tumor and then decide whether or not to switch to a more powerful oral chemo that requires more frequent monitoring. Knox hates the car (and we drag Madison to the appointments), so increasing the frequency of visits does adversely affect both cats' quality of life, something we are very concerned about maintaining at a high level.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm kicking the habit

It's finally time to admit my addiction to American Idol. (I hesitate to even include those words in this blog for fear of 17 year old pipsqueaks leaving inane comments.) I watch obsessively, rearrange my schedule to be home on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, vote periodically, wring my hands over my favorites, analyze performances like I know what I'm talking about, try to convince Steve to upgrade our cable system so that I can skip the fillers and get to the good parts (didn't work), stay up way past my bedtime....all the signs of a bad habit.

Oh, and I always have an American Idol boyfriend. This year it's Blake. Just love his style. (Past candidates include Bo Bice and Chris Dougherty.)

Well, I think it's over. Last night's show left me irate. I felt duped and suckered into watching a two hour infomercial. But that's not the only reason I'm done with this show. They've changed the rules of the game, and I have strong preferences for playing fair. Candidates were told they were safe, which is technically not true. One of them received the fewest votes and that tally will be used in determining who is kicked off next week. And, the candidates have no feedback on where they stand based on their performance, a key element for adjusting their strategy for the following week. To date I've thought that the Idol Gives Back promo is brilliant. Great way to share the wealth and entice a captive audience into doing some good. Over the weeks the increasing intensity of the ads for this charity have become annoying. Last night was downright deceptive. I'm glad I delayed donating until the end because now I won't.

And, I'm sure I won't give up the show either, but it's nice to rant a bit.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to me (and my brother, Ryan)!

Monday, April 16, 2007


For those of you following our sleep issues, we seem to be onto a better schedule...thankfully. I dare say we are out of the woods, but at least the past 2 nights have been more reasonable. We have learned that Graeme only seems to require 9 hours of sleep per night (note: his mama requires 8.5 hours, so he's clearly not wired like I am). Plus, a 2 hour nap. So, we put him to bed at 9PM and he sleeps until 6AM. It doesn't leave much time for getting the house together and relaxing at night, but c'est la vie. I've always said that I'm 2 steps behind Graeme's developmental jumps, and this is yet another example. So, for those looking at the time, I'm about to go to bed to make sure I'm not too many steps behind my energetic son. Thank you, everyone, for all of your suggestions (and prayers) this past week!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I love my child, but not his sleep habits

Is this a fair statement? There's a huge amount of parental guilt when I am irritated, but waking at 4:45AM is not cool. Graeme was up again this morning at 4:45 and proceeded to scream (not really cry, just yell) for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I went in to soothe him a few times, but Steve and I decided against full-throttle cuddling because he doesn't seem to be in pain or have some kind of other medical concern. He eventually fell asleep from 6:30 to 7:30, but we didn't. So, we are once again running on fumes. This is agony, I'm telling you.

I have high hopes of using this forum to express my thoughts on various subjects that float through my brain, but it seems as though the only things in the gray matter are fuzzy reminders of basic household functions, such as "milk is stored in the frig" and "we usually eat sandwiches for lunch". I assume that interesting material will return to my brain at some point. In the meantime, thanks for bearing with me.

Friday, April 13, 2007


...is too early to wake up. But, I guess someone failed to mention that to Graeme. The past 3 mornings he was been up between 4:20 and 4:45AM. Morning one I tried to soothe him to sleep, eventually let him cry, he fell asleep for about 30 minutes and then we were up for good at 5:30. Ugh. Morning two I brought him in bed with us where he proceeded to tug my hair, poke my face, and kick until we were up for good at 5:30. By Thursday we were all MISERABLE. I spent the day half-asleep and talking to anyone who would listen about what to do to end this NOW. Several suggested that I put him to bed LATER (normal time is 7:30). Even though many of the books I've read said that a solution for early rising is an EARLIER bedtime, I decided to drop the academic parenting and go with this advice. (And, for those of you who suggested that I should be able to handle a 4:30 waking, this is NOT helpful advice.) I kept him up until 8:30 last night and put a nightlight in his room (another suggestion). He woke up screaming at 4:20, we tried to soothe him and eventually just left his room. He cried for 15 (painful) minutes, and then fell asleep until 6:30. So, maybe the later bedtime is the answer. In the meantime, I am still running on half a tank and seem to need more sleep than my now 21 month old son.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Make a Wish Foundation...for Cats

Knox submitted an application to the Kitty Make a Wish Foundation. His wish is to be an outdoor kitty. We have long struggled with raising Knox and Madison as indoor cats. Most vets and pet advocates promote an indoor life for felines because life expectancy is longer due to lowered exposure to disease, other animals, cars, evil people, etc. However, all the great fun in a cat's life is OUTSIDE! Cats long to chase squirrels, scratch on trees, hide under bushes, and stalk birds and bugs. They make due by staring longingly at the windows and smelling the fresh air through mesh screens us humans stick on windows to keep those very fun objects out of our lives. Every spring, in particular, I try to ignore Knox and Madison's meows for permission to be freed and their pleading stares to be allowed a moment of outdoor time. It tears at my heart, but so does the thought of losing them prematurely.

Now that we are faced with that prospect for Knox I have chosen to grant him his wish (with a few parameters). I strive to take him out daily and he LOVES it. He has developed a routine around the neighborhood, slinking under certain bushes, smelling particular plants, and rolling around on the warm pavement. He seems indifferent to the small constraint on his activities imposed by the leash (and his hovering mother). We've stopped short of free-reign, but that may be on the horizon.

In the meantime, it warms my heart to be fulfilling this wish for him.

(Madison seems somewhat indifferent, or perhaps she's being sensitive, to the fact that Knox is allowed this freedom but she is not. Walking two cats simultaneously is like, well, herding cats.)

(In other news, Knox continues to do very well. His white blood cell count is low, but that is to be expected with the chemo.)