kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

I am not even going to look up the date of my last post, because I know it's been forever and confirming that would probably depress me. So I'll just pretend that I haven't been a stranger here, okay?

So yeah, we got a puppy! She's actually a foster-puppy. My wife came across a place near us that trains service dogs to assist disabled people to be more independent, and the girls loved the idea, so she applied to foster and I guess we impressed them because the whole thing moved along pretty quickly. We got the puppy last Wednesday, so today is one week. Her name is January, I guess because she was born early on January 1st, and her Mom's name is April so I think there's a theme there. So that makes her about 3 months old. Ignore the green tinge to her ear--they get an inside-ear ID tattoo, and the ink stained her fur a bit and it's taken a while to fade. So far she's a very good pup. The first few nights she whined and yipped a lot at night, but for the past few nights she's been nice and quiet, and has even been going the whole night without needing to go out. So that's nice! She hasn't interacted much with our dog or the cats, but that's probably good. Our dog is pretty shy and skittish, so we're hoping her getting used to being around another dog will be good for her too.

Otherwise things have been going along pretty normally. Work has been a bit of a madhouse since right after Christmas, seems like, so that explains my LJ-hiatus. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though it may be a train: I've been told my current position is temporary and will end by the end of June, most likely. My current boss is in Connecticut and wants his managers to be located there too, which I guess makes sense. I'm not really able or willing to make the move, so he'll have to find someone else. I'm going to look around for another opportunity within the company, of course--I happen to know my old boss is opening a few manager positions, one of which I actually already put in for, so we'll see how that goes. I wouldn't necessarily be averse to leaving this company on general principle, but it is nonetheless a scary thought, for a variety of reasons. But there's still some time on all that, so we shall see.

Better keep this short for now and get my nose back to the grindstone. I hope you've all been well!


Nov. 30th, 2016 03:28 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Mentioning Hermione's new snake the other day made me realize I hadn't mentioned it before, which makes me think I've never covered our current menagerie, or future critter plans. So let me do that.

At present we have: 1 dog, 2 birds, 4 cats, a handful of fish, a guinea pig, and now a snake. I think that's it. In more detail:

The dog: Scout, she's an almost-8-year-old (already!) black lab mix. We got her at the animal shelter. Scout's not an odd dog name, but it is odd for a female dog, I think--we named her after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird, probably just because we'd recently watched the movie. She has her issues, but overall she's a pretty good dog. She doesn't bark unless there's actually something to bark at, she's not destructive, she's on the shy/fearful side but reasonably friendly, definitely not at all aggressive.

The cats: The eldest is Ood (nonsensically named by Hermione when she was a toddler, so she's about 10 now), who is your typical lazy lapcat. She's a good egg for sure, very affectionate and social with people. The other cats are Marion, Fiona, and Alice, who are varying degrees of antisocial. Most of them are friendly with the girls, but steer clear of me. I'm okay with that, really.

The birds: Hallie decided on a parakeet when she got old enough for a pet of her own, so we got one, and after a while we decided it was probably a bit lonely so we got it a cagemate. Hallie named the first (blue) one Cauliflower, since that was her favorite vegetable at the time. So when we got the second and it was green, it only made sense to name it Broccoli.

The fish: We started with a standard 10-gallon aquarium and moved up to a 20-gallon at some point, which contains a handful of freshwater tropical fish. Mostly zebra danios at this point, I think.

The guinea pig: Hermione's pet choice when she got old enough. This is actually our second one. The first, Gingerbread, got sick and basically died before we even realized how sick it was--apparently guinea pigs go downhill quickly when they get sick. After a bit she decided she missed having one, so we got this one, Cookie.

The snake: Since she's always done well with the guinea pigs, we told Hermione if she wanted to get a snake she could, since she's considered it for a while. So she decided on a Kenyan sand boa, since they stay relatively small (hence can always live in something like a 10-gallon aquarium) and are quite docile. We just got it a few weeks ago, hence the recent adventure with trying to get it to eat! I think we'll get the hang of it, though.

Future plans: Well, Amy always says she wants a kitten, but I'm not so sure about that since we already have 4 cats. When she turns 7 or so we'll probably let her pick something if we think she's responsible enough (which at this point I kinda doubt). In the meantime, though, Hallie was considering asking for a puppy until she read something about how most service dogs live in foster homes while they're in training. So we looked into that and found that there's a place quite close to us that does exactly that, and we applied to be a foster family. No idea how long it takes to go through the approval process and actually get a dog, but that should be interesting if and when it happens. And I could see us getting another reptile sometime--I kinda dig bearded dragons, or chameleons are pretty awesome. :) Or how about a tarantula?

So yeah, I guess we're a pretty animal-friendly household. All that is in addition to our porchlight frogs (there's usually at least one tree frog hanging out around our front door, since the light attracts bugs at night), the billion anole lizards in the yard, the butterfly garden, birdfeeder, squirrels, geckos, and other assorted creepy-crawlies. I kinda like that about us.

Okay, that's enough time wasting. I'm just running out the clock on today, since I'm off tomorrow!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

We had a death in the family this weekend. Seems to be a lot of that going around lately, as I've seen here on LJ as well as elsewhere on the web. For us it was Hermione's guinea pig, Gingerbread. She got him shortly before her 8th birthday, so a little more than 2 years ago. No idea how old he was then, but I don't think he was anywhere near elderly for a guinea pig. Anyway, Friday evening she commented that he hadn't touched his dinner, and indeed he looked a bit lethargic and unkempt. Saturday we hand-fed him a little water and dissolved food, but he wasn't looking too good. We went to the pet store to see if we could get him some vitamin supplements or anything to help, but it was too late. When we got home he'd expired. From the research we did, it seems that guinea pigs go downhill fast if they get sick, especially if whatever it is makes them stop eating and drinking, as this did. I feel bad that we didn't recognize it sooner and get him some better help, but at least I don't think he suffered much.

I felt mainly bad for Hermione--I hated the thought that she might blame herself. We've always had a houseful of critters, but he was the first pet that was her own, and she always did a wonderful job taking care of him. I made sure to tell her that she did great with him, and that it wasn't her fault that he got sick. Still, I know she was pretty sad. We buried him in the back yard. I am not ashamed to admit I got a bit misty and choked up. He was a good little friend, after all.

I doubt we'll be in any rush to replace him, though. It will actually be nice to get the smell of timothy hay out of her room for a while, and it's nice that she can leave her bedroom door open now. The cats wasted zero time getting in there to explore and make camp on the window seat where his cage always was. So we'll see if and when she wants to try another pet, whether it's a guinea pig or something else.

Otherwise the weekend was pretty uneventful. I'd been having sporadic problems with my PC at home, which finally coalesced into a failing hard drive, so Sunday I got a new drive and reinstalled the OS. I wouldn't have minded doing that if I hadn't just reformatted and reinstalled a few weeks back! Oh well, so far I haven't been seeing the issues I was having, so hopefully it was worthwhile.

I also got some stuff and tackled a few small projects around the house, and in the afternoon (beautiful weather!) we went to Lake Lotus for a short hike. Not much going on there in the wildlife department--one of the rangers we know told us where we might spot a big alligator, but we didn't see it. Saw one tiny monarch caterpillar in their butterfly garden, and along the boardwalk we saw a ladybug and a few trashbugs (lacewing larvae).

Meanwhile, back at home, the peach tree is blooming! We got it last year, and it produced 2 or 3 fruit, which were delicious. It's grown a bit, and seems happy--it has a pretty good number of flowers already, and lots more buds to boot. Looking forward to the peaches this summer, if the squirrels don't steal them first.


Hopefully that will help you Northerners bracing for the oncoming winter storm. Stay warm and good luck!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Going to bed last night I remarked to the wife, "That sure didn't feel like much of a weekend." Just a busy one without much downtime!

Friday evening after work we all headed down to Disney's Boardwalk--I was meeting a family for a photoshoot, and Heather and the girls roamed around while I worked. I was warily watching the weather all afternoon, and seeing a huge mass of rain moving in from the Gulf. I almost got in touch with the client to reschedule, but figured what the heck, we'll just see how it goes. And it turned out great! It never rained aside from a few drops, but the rain in the area really dropped the temperature so it felt very nearly pleasant. And we had a great time roaming around shooting, so I was pleased overall.

Saturday morning I hit the road for Disney again for another family session, this time at the Grand Floridian. It was my annual shoot with a family I've been working with for years--I had to look back at my e-mail to verify, but this was year #6! Their kids have changed quite a bit since we first met, as you might well imagine. It was a hot weekend, so we mainly stayed indoors in the hotel, but we started outside (the hotel has a gorgeous 1929 Cadillac sedan that I like to use) and ended back outside as well. I was glad we spent the bulk of our time inside, though!

When I got home, I mainly waited for the parts to arrive to try fixing the TV. They both came, so first I tried putting in the new power board, since it's the cheaper one and regardless I didn't want to risk damaging the new mainboard if the power board was the problem. So I installed it and tested the TV, but it was no different, still flickering and not seeing good signals from the inputs. So I went to put in the new mainboard and.. no dice. It was the exact same board platform, almost all the same components, except for the two ribbon connectors to the screen itself. Bah. So I looked around online again, but the only board I saw that looked like the correct one was listed at $215, which was rather more than I wanted to spend to fix a TV set that wasn't that great in the first place. I broke the news to the wife, and she grudgingly agreed that we'd have to replace it. So I got to researching.

Oh, and somewhere in there I had more photography business: a couple who I used to work with are getting married next month, and asked me to be their photographer. So they dropped by to catch up since I hadn't seen them for a while, and talk about the wedding plans. It all sounds good, but the one thing we couldn't settle on was price. It's tough because I know they're on a budget, and really I wouldn't mind doing it for cheap since I consider them friends. But it's giving up a full day, basically, and my wife rightfully expects that I should be bringing home some money if I'm giving up the time and work. So I dunno, I guess I'll come up with a number to ask for, and let them know that it's open for negotiation. I just hate the business side of things, you know? I need a business partner to handle that stuff. :)

So Sunday became new TV day! I spent a good bit of time researching the models in my price range, and found myself rather limited by my needs. I have an A/V receiver, but it's only for audio, it doesn't switch video or have HDMI inputs or anything. So to support the cable box, Blu-ray player, and home theater PC I need 3 HDMI inputs, plus a component input for the Wii and a good old-fashioned composite input for my old game systems. That last was the real kicker, it seems like a lot of sets have now dispensed with the composite inputs, or only have it as a hybrid with the single set of component inputs, which means you can only use one or the other. Even in HDMI, 3 such inputs is pretty rare on the low-end sets. Also, the wife and kids don't like to mess with the HTPC, so I need a Smart TV that can stream from the computer with a reasonably simple interface (and hopefully offer some other good streaming services and whatnot as well). So looking around, the only model I found in the low-to-midrange that offered smart features with the input mix I needed was the Sony lineup. I liked Samsung's interface and faster processors better, but they lacked the inputs I needed (and cost more to boot). I used to be a big Sony fan, but somewhere along the line they let me down somehow, and I've not been too impressed with our Blu-ray player, which is Sony also. But my hands were a bit tied, so off to Best Buy we went.

I knew which model I wanted (there was no 42" set in the lineup like our old set was, and I didn't want to go smaller, so I opted for the 48" W600B set), so the purchase went quickly. The installation.. not so much. The girls helped me unbox the new set, and I attached the wall-mount brackets, and.. it wouldn't fit on the wall plate. On my old set, the screwholes for the mounting brackets were 200mm apart, but on the new set they were 300mm. So just as is my luck, with the wider spread the power outlet was getting in the way. Long story short, I added some strips of wood to bring the mounting plate out from the wall (and outlet) a little bit, and then I was able to get it mounted. But the whole process took a lot longer than expected, and that ate up much of the day. Once I was finally done, Heather wanted to go to a store to get some homeschooling stuff, so we did that. And then it was dinner time, and then we went on a bike ride around the block, and then we jumped in the pool. The girls had recently come across my box of old game system controllers and wanted to try them, so we fired up the Dreamcast for some Crazy Taxi. Fun! And it was nice to have an actual TV in place when TV time rolled around, too!

OH, we also got new foster kitties! Hermione had been begging to foster again--she remembered that we'd told her maybe after our vacation, of course--and Heather happened to talk about it with one of her flute-playing friends, who said they were fostering a houseful and had a mom and kitten who needed just a little more special attention than they could spare. Mainly, the mom tends to ignore the kitten, so they need to be watched more closely to make sure he's getting enough to eat. So I got the cage down from the attic, and we got that all set up before they brought the kitties over. The girls named the kitten Willy. He is pretty cute, and I doubt more than 3 weeks old.


And that was the weekend. Whew! Now time to end my workday. I didn't think I had any travel on the agenda this week, but my boss just rescheduled our meetings tomorrow from here to St. Pete, so I guess I'll be on the road after all. Ah well, it usually makes for a fairly good day.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Oy. I still need to do a vacation recap post or three, but work was crazy last week, the weekend was busy, and this week looks pretty crazy again, so.. yeah. But I thought a quick weekend recap post was in order, at least. And I'll toss in a few photos because that's what I do.

So firstly, here's the newest member of our family!


Yesterday was Hallie's 7th birthday, and she wanted a pet of her own. It's been in the works for months, actually--we said she could pick what kind of animal she wanted, and she went parakeet. So we got the cage a while back before our trip, and Saturday we went ahead and got the bird. He (we think it's a boy) is pretty quiet so far, still settling in and all. She named him Cauliflower. Ooookay. I guess that's a relatively unisex name if he turns out to be a she. :)

More! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Yeah, we got a new cat. Actually sort of a funny story. While I was away in Detroit last week, the girls were home and heard a meowing at the back door. Now, to get to that door you have to get into our fenced back yard, into the pool area, and then to the back door. It's not right there, in other words. So they figured it's one of our cats--well, really the only one of our cats it could be was Ood, because she's the only one who goes outside now that Stuart is gone. So they opened the door and here's this little grey kitten, maybe 8 weeks old. She walks right in like she owns the place. And of course the girls love her immediately. And it's a little odd, because it was a few weeks to the day after Stuart died. It's like this kitten knew there was a vacancy or something.

So anyway, Heather roamed the neighborhood asking everyone she saw if they were missing a kitten, and she e-mailed the neighbors she knows to ask the same, and everyone said nope. Just last night on a bike ride we bumped into the neighbor right behind us, and she said the neighbor to the side of her apparently found 2 more kittens, so now we suspect it was either a feral litter or--more likely--someone dumped a litter in our neighborhood, maybe because they know there are plenty of folks with cats here? Who knows. So I guess we've decided to keep this kitten, even though Heather and I were actually not too distraught to only have 3 cats around instead of 4. Oh well. The girls were torn between naming her Willie and Marian (yes, the girls in the Indiana Jones movies) and went with Marian.

So far she's pretty well-behaved, at least. She likes to get up on stuff, and she especially likes to walk on Heather's keyboard (and mouse pad, as above) while she's using the computer. But she took to the litter box right away, and she's pretty friendly so far. We'll have to get her fixed later on, but I guess that's not too bad.

3 cats, 4 cats, what's the difference, right? Ha!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

I should preface this by saying that I'm probably going to come out of this entry sounding like a terrible pet owner. For that I do apologize. :)

The photo is of Stuart--that was taken back in 2007, when he was still a kitten. He passed away yesterday. He's always been a mostly outdoors cat--really we only saw him when he came home to eat each day (and we think he was also going around to the neighbor behind us, who told us she often leaves her garage door open a little with cat food in there for the neighborhood cats who pass by), and sometimes he'd lounge around for a while. But it was pretty rare for him to approach any of us for any sort of affection, really. A few years back he showed up with an eye injury, and really we should have taken him to the vet but we didn't. (That's Part One of where we probably sound like terrible pet owners.) It semi-healed on its own, all grey and icky and blinded, but it didn't seem to bother him and he went back to his normal pattern. I was always a bit afraid that it would still be the death of him, maybe turn cancerous or get infected someday. But he didn't make it that far, which is maybe a blessing of a sort. Yesterday Heather noticed he was laying under the truck and had a bloody patch on his side, so she coaxed him out to take a look and (from what she told me) it was a pretty deep gash in his lower abdomen, a few inches wide. No idea how he got it--didn't seem to be a fight as there were no other wounds. He didn't seem to be in pain from it or anything, but it looked bad enough that (after a few semi-frantic e-mails to me) she decided to take him in to the vet--she figured a few stitches and maybe some antibiotics would be the order of the day. But the vet took a look and said the wound went all the way into his stomach, and he was already feverish too. We could have them do surgery to attempt to save him, but since he was already feverish and probably septic, the odds weren't great and the surgery would be expensive. Other option: put him down. (Part Two of possibly sounding like terrible pet owners:) Heather opted to go ahead with the euthanasia. They were very nice, they gave Heather and the girls a few minutes alone with him to say goodbye (not that anyone was particularly attached to him, antisocial as he always has been) and then had a vet tech take the girls out and wait with them so Heather could stay with Stuart as they did the deed. They brought him home and we gave him a little burial when I got home from work.

And that's that. He wasn't the best cat we've ever had (or even the best cat we have presently), but I'm glad he had a decent life, abbreviated though it may have been. I'm glad he went out painlessly and with someone he knew at his side. I think we did right by him in the end. I hope so, anyway.

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