Friday, September 29, 2006

by the skin of my teeth

Is there such a state as nearly depressed?

I feel like crying all the time, but so far haven't.

I feel like staying in bed all day, but so far I keep getting up.

I think, It will be nice when I'm dead and don't have to deal with this [censored] body anymore. But I know I'm not ready to give up yet, and I'll be damned if I'll let anyone else raise my kids, or leave it all for my husband to do himself. He's a good man, he deserves more than that.

I'm doing a good job faking it so far. Last night I tried to crawl out of the doldrums by crawling into the kitchen, and I made "a feast!" for dinner. Lots of things that everyone loves, which meant two hours of prep, which was fine. Keeping the hands busy helps a little. Keeping the brain busy (driving, reading) helps too.

But when I stop, it's still there and I wish there was a happy pill I could take to make it go away.

Too much pain (real physical pain that the Aleve takes the edge off but doesn't quite kill). And too many questions, some will be answered on Monday when I meet with the surgeon. Until then I'm just hanging on.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

miles upon miles

MapQuest's finest

I spent a lot of time driving today. The new doctor, the TMD -- tempero-mandibular disorder, thankyouverymuch, not TMJ -- doc, was all the way up in Cave Creek which is about 40 miles away. And this evening's thyca support group meeting was in its usual digs up past Shea Blvd, which is about 25 miles away. Plus, a trip to school to get the boys, ferry the boys to the Y, get DD from dance class, and then an extra trip to get DD's left-behind school clothes. Man, that was a lot of driving.

Today's advice: Do not get orthodontia when you have TMD-induced headaches.

I assured Dr. C that I wouldn't do that, since my teeth are fine. He scoffed at my retainer's ability to stave off TMD: So much for this as a bite guard. But it is a good retainer, though.

No, really, he said that. He also explained that for many people, wearing a retainer like mine is enough to get them to stop the clenching/grinding behavior that leads to TMD. For others, like me, the effect is temporary and they can return to their previous destructive behaviors. Well, mine lasted about 7 years, so I guess I oughtn't complain.

Dr. C is making an appliance for me to wear at night to keep me from grinding, I'll get it on Oct 11. Until then: heat, NSAIDS, and this nifty trick he showed me to fix the dislocation of the pad in my right jaw joint. Oh, and a return to my physical therapy exercises for my neck, since whacked muscles in my right neck (which I can't feel because of the nerve damage that occurred during my dissection surgery) are one of the main causes of all this... I should just resign myself to the fact that PT is for life.

I ran the Thyca support group tonight and it went well. We had 3 new people and plenty of time to hear their stories and answer their questions. I think I helped. I certainly talked a lot, but there was a lot of information to convey to the newbies. It surprised me how much I actually knew when I needed to talk about different topics -- and I was happy because we covered just about everything a newbie would want to know.

Finally got through to the GYN and discussed what's next re:the lump. They would've been OK with a core biopsy but when I said I wanted the lumpectomy they said OK. I called Dr. D's office and he can do it, I have an appointment Monday morning, and all the paperwork transfer is all set up for it. Here we go again?

I hope not.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Illustration from M & C Dental Center, LLC, Cochran, GA

I'm spending most of tomorrow with a new doctor, one who will spend three hours -- his standard initial exam -- in diagnosing my TMJ.

Dr. O, my brilliant ENT, discovered the TMJ when I went to see him for what I thought was a persistent sinus infection. No, those headaches weren't sinus related, they were from the TMJ. And I thought my face was hurting because my salivary glands had gone haywire again. They had -- in fact, they are still misbehaving -- but the facial pain wasn't just because of whacked salivaries, this time.

The new doctor's office is the better part of an hour away, and I have to get there at least a half-hour early to complete the 15-page (!!!) medical history beforehand. I know that is pointless because I will spend a lot of time filling out a form and no one will read it; I will be forced to re-iterate every damn thing on it to the doctor, frittering away the first 15 minutes of the appointment. Personally, I can't listen faster than I can read, so why doctors always start out with "Tell me what's going on," when they already have the answer on paper in front of them, is beyond me. But that's the way it always seems to go, so I will be surprised if it goes otherwise. Perhaps I will rebel and say, Read the history, it'll be quicker, I'll wait until you're ready. There's an idea.

I'm not exactly afraid of this appointment, I just don't want him to find anything dreadful. I'm hoping for something on the order of Stop chewing gum and wear your retainer during the day until this settles down. I'm not sure exactly how I'll take it if he diagnoses me with some condition that needs invasive procedures to correct. I'm under attack from enough angles already.

Given a choice between surgery or living with my popping jaw-joints, I'd choose the popping jaw-joints, unless given a really, really compelling reason. I'm doing OK, my current status is quite manageable. So what horrible thing is going to happen if I don't aggressively treat this? Because aggressive treatment is right out... at least right now.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


My ISP has been having trouble with the server on which my account is hosted, so I was unable to post anything for several days. That's why Friday's post didn't show up until this morning. There's nothing like having news and not being able to put it up to foster frustration.

Friday, the lump news more or less bounced off me: That lump has been there forever. The radiologist said it looks "very benign."

But... Saturday I had a long talk with my older sister, who has experienced the dreaded lump herself (benign, thank God). When she heard it was solid, her take was: It needs to come out.

When she said it, I realized she was right. Why screw around with a needle biopsy?

Perhaps my doctors will think differently, but even though it's a more invasive procedure, it will give me a 100% certain answer as to what's going on in there, something a negative biopsy can never do. If it's negative, that just means there wasn't any cancer in the sample, which may or may not be representative of the whole.

There doesn't seem to be much information out there on distinguishing benign lumps from malignant lumps. I found information so general it approached vague, but I didn't find any stats for comfort. With thyroid cancer, you have happy little numbers like "more than 95% of all thyroid nodules are benign." On the breast cancer information pages I found, no such stats. Is it because they don't exist or because people don't want to talk about them?

Generally they all talk about diagnostic options -- mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, and the various types of biopsies. More general information: solid lumps are bad; big lumps are worse than small lumps; lumps that are afixed to bone or muscle are suspect; lumps with irregular borders are bad, too.

I was looking right at the ultrasound monitor when the radiologist zoomed in on the lump to measure it, but I didn't see how big it is -- 1 cm would not surprise me. It seemed to have smooth borders, but I can't remember how it looked on the zoomed-in image. And it was completely black: totally solid. That was odd to see. I've seen a lot of nodes on my thyroid u/s, and never seen anything like that solid black lump.

There wasn't any vascularization under the Doppler, but the radiologist told me that it is not dispositive in viewing breast tissue the way it is in viewing structures in the neck, because the structure of the tissue is so different.

I have some of the other indicators of something-going-on, too: change in the shape and size of my breast, and changes in the nipple area, too. Nothing too startling, in fact quite subtle and I'm probably the only one who would be able to tell, but there they are.

The happy-think from Friday -- It looks really benign -- is being spun through the "Well, of course she'd say that, I told her it had been there forever" routine, along with Maybe this hasn't been there forever, after all. Now, the thought is not so happy.

I don't feel like I'm freaking out, but my TMJ is still killing me. I ran out of Prilosec late last week and thought I'd see how I did without it. The Aleve I was taking for the TMJ, combined with the stress and lack of acid-reducer, chewed a hole in my stomach on Friday and everything has been off since.

Tomorrow I get my permanent filling for the root canal, and Tuesday I see the TMJ doctor. Sometime soon I need to talk to my GYN and decide what to do about the lump, and figure out when to do it.

I had a feeling, some years ago, very similar to the experience I had before my uterine prolapse (I'll never use all these up when stocking up on menstrual supplies -- I was right, I didn't.) One day when I was annoyed about something breast-related (most likely the difficulty in finding a decent comfortable bra), the thought was just there: It will be so much easier when I don't have to deal with these anymore. Not "this," as in shopping for a bra, but "these", as in the breasts themselves.

At the time I shook it off, and even now I don't put any stock in it at all. But at the same time it wouldn't surprise me if I did lose them.

When I talked to my sister, we had some very good laughs (because if you don't laugh, you'll cry) -- she thought my "warranty expired on my 39th birthday" line was a great one, and we both laughed at my vanity when I told her I was really enjoying my long hair now, and if I have to have chemo and my hair falls out, I will be really ticked off. You see? Already, I'm steeling myself for that particular journey. I don't know whether that's pathetic or what.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst -- avoid surprises.

We haven't said a word to the kids about this. I'm hoping there won't be anything to tell in the long run. And if there is, if I do have another cancer and need more treatment, then these last days of carefree bliss are a gift I wish I could give to myself.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I had my first-ever diagnostic mammogram today. Apparently this involves both the squishy-squashy x-rays of the breasts, flattened like last season's discarded purses, in a machine that is simultaneously ripping the tissue from armpit and ribcage, and breast ultrasound.

The x-rays were unremarkable and show no changes from my previous mammograms. That's good.

During the ultrasound, the radiologist found a lump. I knew it was there, it has been there forever, and no doctor has ever remarked on it during an exam, and it has never shown up on a mammogram. I figured it was just part of my usual lumpy-tissued breast.

On the u/s, though, it showed up quite definitely as a dense mass, quite solid, and not tiny, either. Hmmm.

The radiologist said it wouldn't show up on an x-ray because it's in the midst of some very dense tissue. She recommended either a u/s guided needle biopsy (I think this is the same as a core biopsy), lumpectomy, or diagnostic u/s every 6 months for the next 2 years. Given my thyroid cancer history, she recommends having it biopsied, so I'll schedule that when the doctor's office gets back to me with a reference.

I suppose I should be freaking out about this, but I have worry fatigue. I've spent too much time worrying about too many things, and frankly, my life is great even if I have had to deal with a lot of health issues -- so you know what? I'm not flipping out about this (at least, not now). The radiologist said it looked benign, so we'll go with that for now.

The biopsy will hurt, and then I'll wait around for a week or so with a weight on me, until the results come back, and then I'll either relax or gear up for another long slog through medical hell. Whatever. I'm too busy to curl up and whimper about yet-another-thing going wrong with my body, which apparently took my lame jokes about my warranty expiring on my 39th birthday quite seriously.

It was supposed to be a joke...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

buckle up

I had a root canal this morning. My one remaining intact anterior (front) lower incisor, seen above surrounded by its fallen comrades, finally gave up the ghost.

Anyone accustomed to seeing a mouth like this will immediately recognize what's going on here. For those not so accustomed, let me aquaint you with the long-term effects of trauma.

A bit more than thirty years ago, I was in a car accident. Since the early 1970s was in The Time Before Seatbelts, I was a 10-year-old girl sitting, without any kind of restraint, in the front passenger seat during a moderate-to-low speed collision. (Looking back, I'd say we couldn't have been going even 30MPH.) I don't really remember it, although reportedly, I screamed a lot afterwards.

Personally, I think I had good reason to scream, since my head cracked the windshield, and my chin made a dent in the dashboard. I'd had braces for less than a year at that point. I recall a bruise the size of an Italian plum on my jaw. The only treatment I recall is getting some ice to put on that bruise. (Again, a trautamized 10-year-old is not the most reliable witness, so it's possible that medical people did all kinds of tests on me and I just don't remember.)

Later, my dentist x-rayed my lower jaw and saw that there was a hairline crack right in front. Since I already had braces, there wasn't any need to do anything else -- the braces kept everything locked in position, and everything seemed OK.

Until about 20 years ago, when the first tooth died, and I needed a root canal. My dentist asked me about trauma, since there was no sign of neglect or decay. I was ready to deny it when I remembered the car accident; I was in my mid-twenties at the time and had not thought about it for years -- there wasn't any reason to. I'm sure that's it, the dentist said. He warned me that there was a good chance the teeth would all die eventually.

I wanted to brush this warning off as alarmist nonsense (not to mention the hope of snagging more business from me), but Dr W was a fantastic dentist, and he wouldn't manipulate me like that.

It became apparent that he was right when the second tooth died not long after. We attempted another root canal but couldn't do it because there was too much calcification, so I ended up having an apeco -- that's gum surgery, that little bright spot below the tooth on the left.

I can't really remember when the third tooth went, but it was sometime in the last 10 years -- but for the past 20 I've been alert to twinges in the area, and my dentist takes a good long look at that area every year. For the longest time, everything held steady, and I thought we were done.

No such luck -- the last tooth kicked off, and kicked up. It tough when you have TMJ to determine if the tooth ache is a real tooth ache or an artifact of the TMJ-producing teeth grinding. Alas, this was a real tooth ache, and now all my lower incisors are dead.

There is an upside here: I've been able to keep the teeth, and because there was no decay or bone infections, I haven't even needed crowns. They are very tiny teeth, so a filling suffices. I know, this seems like grasping at straws, but these are not insignificant factors. The root canal procedure was over $600, and I'm not sure how much the permanent filling is going to cost me (the endodontist just put in a temporary one.) A crown or cap wouldn't be cheap, I know.

The other upside is that root canal tech has shown tremendous advances in the past 20 years. My endodontist today, working under a microscope,identified a second nerve channel that needed to be cleaned out. His facility also had the most kick-ass digital dental x-ray system I've ever seen. That gadget alone saved us at least 30 minutes today, as x-rays are taken before, during, and after the procedure to make sure that the doc "got it all."

The only unpleasant parts were the anesthesia, not because it hurt going in (it does sting a little), but because it left me strangely shaky for about 15 minutes, and the horrid smell of tooth and bone being ground away. The doc assured me that my reaction to the anesthesia is not uncommon, so I didn't worry about it, and it did dissipate eventually. The grinding bone smell was over quickly, and the assistant was fabulous with the vaccuum so debris didn't go flying all over the place.

I'm glad it's done, and I think my canines will be spared, but who knows? I thought after more than 30 years if anything was going to happen, it would have happened already. I was wrong.

So do yourself a favor and wear your seatbelt, OK? Nobody needs root canals.

Monday, September 18, 2006

once again, classic sf provides a solution

Via Assymetrical Information comes this Discover article on just how Earth-bound we may be as a species, because of the damage caused by cosmic rays.

Planetside, here, we're protected by the Earth's magnetic field, but out in space, we don't have that gigantic damping field. Metal shields made of lead or iron turn out to make the problem worse, because when cosmic rays collide with them, they release a cascade of charged particles that can cause the same kind of damage as the cosmic rays themselves.

In 1950, brilliant science fiction writer Cordwainer Smith wrote a haunting short story, Scanners Live in Vain, which all hinged on the fact that traveling through space caused irreversible dementia -- much like the kind of brain damage the article discusses as a distinct possibility.

I wonder if Adam Stone's solution to the problem in "Scanners" could work for us? It's certainly worth looking into. I'm sure the oysters won't mind.

tu quoque, eh?

Every so often, an obscure, rarely-heard expression appears in a prominent blog, and then suddenly, it's everywhere.

This week's example, tu quoque. I'm not sure whether I saw it first over on Althouse in comments, or somewhere else, but it's certainly making the rounds -- I even heard it on Rush this morning.

It's a useful expression, but not one I remember hearing before this past week. In online discussions, you'll often see tu quoque arguments lobbed when one party is pressing for a reasoned answer, and the other party has none: Well, you don't have any right to accuse me of X, because you've done Y!

Tu quoque arguments are more subtle than ad hominem attacks, because usually the target feels compelled to defend himself either against the charge that he's done Y, or whether Y is even anything to be ashamed of. The best thing to do if you find yourself in a tu quoque confrontration is to call attention to it: quit trying to change the subject!

Friday, September 15, 2006

the lure of the dark side

One of my daily routines is checking several online job-hunting sites for suitable freelance opportunities -- it's easy in Firefox, I have a "job search" folder that I open in tabs, and I scan any new jobs that have been posted since I last checked. One site I particularly like is, which has tools for slicing and dicing the search results in different ways.

Generally I search for writing jobs, or I just look in the "writing/editing" section of the site. Even though I have 15 years of experience in software applications development, I don't look at the software jobs. I have said, as recently as this week, that no one could pay me enough to get back into that world of socially dysfunctional types who still order their personal lives along the lines we all used in junior high school.

For some reason, I clicked on the "development" link in SheKnows and saw an ad for Visual Basic programmer, contract basis, paying $35-$40 per hour.

Now that is a boatload of money. Of course I haven't worked in VB for many years, but that language is a piece of cake. I'm thinking, Hmmmm, maybe I could take a refresher course in VB and then get a part-time contract, maybe that wouldn't be so bad, and I'd be making really good money..."


I love, love, love working with the kids at school. But the reality is, if I work as a substitute, I'd earn at most $100/day, clearing significantly less than that after taxes. If I got a job as a part-time teacher's aide, I'd probably make on the order of $10-12K per year. Frankly, that's pathetic. To make the jump to full-fledged teacher, I'd have to spend at least a year and significant money to get my teacher's certification and/or education degree. And being a teacher myself, I wouldn't have any flexibility at all: the school determines the work schedule, whether or not the kids get sick. I don't think that's a viable option for now. Elementary school children will reliably get stay-at-home-for-a-week sick at least a couple of times per year.

Way back when, I enjoyed writing code. But I found that writing code depleted my creative energies. When I did it full time, I had nothing left over for writing or cooking or anything else, really. Clearly I couldn't do that again. I'd only want to work at most 20 hours a week, and I want flexibility to be a regular presence in the kids' classrooms, and to go on field trips and stuff like that. The thing is, I think there may be jobs out there like this. I obviously won't take a job that doesn't work for me, no matter how good the money is.

These aren't the only two choices, obviously. I have a significant body of writing that needs organization and publication, but I'm cowed by the sheer volume of it all. I'm afraid to even start it because before I even begin, I'm already in the weeds, and having a hard time seeing my way out. I know if I made plan, it would help, but I don't even have the motivation to do that, mostly because my confidence in my work is at an ebb right now, so I'm thinking, what's the point?

Anyway, the thought of making really good money doing something it's possible to enjoy is appealing. The money would definitely help the family, it would be wonderful to pay off the mortgage a little more quickly, or put in those hardwood floors we'd like. But I know in the long run that the only contribution I'm making when I'm writing code is economic, and I've already felt how much more satisfying it is to do something that directly and positively impacts others. How do I weigh the benefits to my family against the benefits to all the children I can help at school? Yes, my family is more important to me, and there's no pressure on me to bring in any money at all... but there's a moral component to this question that I need to mull.

The Dark Side is calling... but I haven't decided whether or not I'll even pick up the phone.

a glimpse of greatness?

Ah, the cruel excitement of possibility...

Via an item on AICN (I won't bother linking to the actual item, it was incoherent) comes a link to the trailer for Eragon (audio at link), due out at Christmas.

I've read the books, and they were OK, not great, but not horrible either. That said, the potential for cinematic glory is huge here. From the trailer, the look of this thing is spot-on, and it appears that John Malkovich will make the evil of Galbatorix more palpable throughout the film -- in the books, his influence comes and goes. In the visual medium, you can convey the sense of constant oppression more easily, I think. (Prose tends to bog down when you have to keep reminding the reader just how horrible the times are.)

I'll remain positive about this, and will in fact go see it even if it gets mediocre reviews. I just want it to work for the sheer joy of it. For now, even the potential it's showing is enough to give this day a boost.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

the swirling vortex of medical care

Ah, September, when the kids are in school and I spend the month in doctor's offices. Just when I want to kick back and relax, I am sucked back into MedWorld by having to run the annual cancer test gauntlet.

This year, the thyroid cancer checkup was a little earlier, and in Houston. Both the ultrasound and the nuclear scan were negative, but my tumor marker, Thyroglublin (Tg), did uptick a bit -- so we'll keep an eye on it. Amusingly, I just received my schedule for appointments in August 2007. Efficient!

I had my dilated eye exam, which went fine as usual. (The idea of developing melanoma behind an eye is really too creepy to contemplate.) My eye doctor was as shocked as I was that an entire year had gone by. He was happy to hear I was just there for a checkup and not for a problem -- "Why is she back so soon, didn't I just see her?" My eyes continue to perform better-than-average, which is such a blessing.

Next up, I saw Dr. T, my dermatologist, who didn't find any spots that needed biopsy or even extra monitoring -- don't have to see him for another six months. He didn't chide me for being tan, either.

The only remaining test is my mammogram. I had my annual GYN exam this week and complained about my breasts feeling pre-menstrual all the time, for a good six weeks now. I expected to hear, "Oh, that's hormonal, and normal at this phase of your life." Well, I did hear that, but with regard to the inordinate amount of hair I seem to be losing these days. Shedding, I am, but apparently, that's normal.

Apparently it's not-so-normal to have PMS breasts for six weeks running, and with my family history (not to mention being left-handed and having thyroid cancer), the doc ordered up a diagnostic mammagram wherein they take a lot more pictures. Oh, joy. Even better? The facility couldn't schedule me for the test until November 2, which means I get to walk around wondering what's going on there. One possibility is fibrocystic breast condition, which at least one of my sisters has (I think, I have to call and ask.)

But that's not all... I dragged myself to the dentist yesterday because one of my lower incisors has been nagging me for a while. I'm scheduled for a cleaning in a couple of weeks, but I didn't want to wait that long. It wasn't just the tooth that's bothering me, either: I saw Dr. O, my ENT, last week for the persistent sinus infection/sinus headaches I've been having. Lo and behold, I've got a pretty severe case of TMJ which may be causing both the tooth pain and the headaches. (Two nights ago, I felt like someone was driving a nail into my skull at the point between my right eye and the bridge of my nose.) Dentist confirms there's something going on there with the tooth, so I'm scheduled for a root canal next week with the fancy-schmancy endodontist. And the week after that, I get to see the TMJ specialist guy.

The TMJ pain was hard for me to recognize as joint pain, because my salivary glands have been acting up: my face hurts, and it's not easy to tell whether it's the salivaries that are swollen and clogged, or the jaw muscles right behind them that have stiffened up. I wear my retainer, which has a bite guard in it, every single night, so I don't know how I ended up in this condition. (I had it once in college, and I had it again before DD was born, which led me to getting braces - again - and now having the retainer.) I wonder if the whackiness of the salivary glands is contributing to the TMJ pain. I doubt there is any way to get an answer to this question.

Last: poor Alice has been coughing and sneezing, and Cooper needed his vaccinations, so we took both kittens to the vet yesterday. Now Alice is on anti-biotics. How odd that all three females in the house would be on anti-biotics at the same time for more or less the same thing.

This looks a lot worse in print than it is in reality. Yes, my face hurts a little (about 4 on that 1-10 pain scale), and my tooth is about a 2-3, but I'm used to that level of pain and have been dealing with it. The breasts are about a 3, also. So you see, none of this is remotely disabling. It's all just annoying and a little tiring. Fortunately, the mega dose of naproxen sodium that Dr. O prescribed for me is doing a good job of keeping the pain, if not completely manageable, at least at a level I can ignore most of the time.

In the meantime, I just pretend that it's not there. I've spent a lot of time over at the school helping out, and I love it. I finally have my stuff together to get my fingerprint card (getting my fingerprints taken was interesting), but I haven't mailed it in yet . The process of getting certified as a substitute teacher is a bit unweildy, but I'm procrastinating nevertheless. I uncertain I could last a whole school day, managing a class full of kids I don't know. One reason I've been spending so much time over at the school is I'm trying to build up my stamina. It's time to get back in shape.

Monday, September 11, 2006

kittens: four state machines

How do kittens spend their days?

Occasionally, they play, with each other, or with a human:
About 2% of the time

Another favorite activity is lounging:
Surprisingly, they often lounge together

This chair provides an excellent vantage point from which to keep an eye on the computer... and me.

Then, there's cuddling.
Alice likes to snuggle face-to-face.

Yes, two kittens fit in one lap.

Cooper stakes out some Mom real estate, too.

Mostly, they sleep... a lot. I'd estimate about 80% of the time, no joke.
Alice likes the tangle of wires behind the computer.

Cooper favors the crow's nest of the kitty condo by the window.

what am I doing?

That business about time flying, having fun, etc? I don't think it's true. Time flies, faster and faster, the older you get, whether or not you're having fun.

Anyway, since we brought the kittens home, my time has been consumed with a million things. I've volunteered to help out at the kids' R/E on Monday nights, and I've agreed to chair the next thyca support meeting since our facilitator will be out of town. And I've been helping out at school, too: DS2's teacher is out for a couple of weeks, and the sub can use all the help she can get. Add in the usual groceries, laundry, and housekeeping -- not to mention time spent socializing the kittens -- and there you have it.

It's not that nothing "bloggable" has happend, it's that too much has happened, and so I let it go without writing about it. But we're getting into the school-year groove, so eventually I should find a regular time to write.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

typical siblings

I'm not speaking to you!Yeah, well I'm not speaking to you, either!

Car Trek: The Quest for Kittens

Scene: airport, baggage claim area, very crowded.
Mom is met by Dad, DS1, DD, and DS2. The children all hug Mom, who leans over to get a kiss from Dad.

MOM: Oh, it's so good to see you!
DS1: Mom, are we going to get kittens now?
(end scene)


That was Wednesday afternoon. Thursday I researched and found out that Saturday mornings are prime time, in some cases the only time, for pet adoptions.

We wanted two kittens so they could keep each other company during the day when we're out and about, not to mention when we're traveling back East over the summer. One person I spoke to at an adoption center said we should get two kittens from the same litter, otherwise we'd have to keep the kittens separated for two weeks to prevent possible disease transmission from one to the other.

We visited the closest adoption center and they only had older cats. There was one a lot closer that had kittens, but no siblings, so we ended up driving all the way up to Tatum & Bell Rds, on the strength of extremely bad directions from the pet store's website, to where the Citizens for Scottsdale Strays were having their adoptions. The drive was long and made longer by the fact that we didn't really know where we were going; the map was too low resolution to be helpful, and the directions were just wrong. We persevered and found the place, finally, but the kids were edging towards grumpy when we arrived.

They had many, many kittens, and some were from the same litter -- but the adoption director quickly dismissed the issue with having to keep the kittens separated; they were all in the same cage anyway, so they'd all been exposed to everything. We were first charmed by a gray-and-white brother and sister, but they were a little older than we wanted, more than 6 months. Still adorable, and very nice, but we wanted younger. We next auditioned totally adorable 2-month-old gray tabby boys, but they were long-haired, and we really didn't want two boys. Then I spotted a little tortoise-shell sweetie in the big cage, and she came out to cuddle on me, purring immediately. We all loved her, but who would be her companion?

The little orange tabby, same age, just a little bit bigger, sweet as can be and a little more frisky than the tortoise.

After paperwork, a quick run to the bank by DH (we forgot to bring the checkbook), a quick shopping trip for necessities, we were the proud owners of then-named Tortie and George. We had great fun all the way home thinking up new names for them, since Tortie just wouldn't do for such a sweet, delicate little girl, and George, while nice, was "too common" for DH's taste.


Alice and Cooper spent their first 2 or 3 hours at home running around at high speed, investigating everything, including each other. Hockey is definitely Cooper's favorite sport, but he's a champion leaper as well. Alice is a bit more shy but she gets around, and she seems to always outwit Cooper just when he's ready to pounce on her.

Like all siblings, they have their moments:

They do seem to get along very well, so far. Both are very loving and cuddly; DS2 has adopted Cooper as his favorite fashion accessory:
A boy and his cat

Alice was vaccinated today, and the shots have just wiped her out. She has spent most of the evening sleeping. She should be feeling much better tomorrow.
Knocked out

It's extraordinarily difficult to photograph kittens; they are both small and quick! I have several shots of each kitten's tail, snapped as they left the frame. Well, now that I have two at home, I hope to improve. Alice is very hard to shoot since her coloration is very dark with lighter spots; she ends up looking a bit more freaky than she is in real life. Cooper, of course, is just gorgeous, but he's such a dear he doesn't know it yet. He's a bit of a baby, too, and he'll meow piteously when he wants some cuddling.

I wonder how this first night will go. Will Cooper cry all night? Will he nibble our toes? Will Alice, now up from her 3-hour nap, be bouncing off the walls? Will they chew through our cable wires overnight? (Unlikely, they're still in their protective sheaths from when we had Rosie.)

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Today brought kittens, and that's splendid.