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And the number ‘helpless.’ Kelpie is sick.


Really sick.

She’s actually been not well for a little bit now. Awhile back (I actually can’t remember when) she had this day where she wouldn’t stop throwing up. And I really mean would not stop. She barfed about once every 45 minutes or so. We took her to the vet the next day, but she couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Mary Alice (the vet) gave Kelpie a shot to settle her stomach and sent us home with some wet food. And Kelpie stopped barfing. And she was fine for awhile.

But then she started again. Not like that day, not all the time. But every few days or so. Which was weird. Because until that point in her life, Kelpie had thrown up maybe ten times. Now she was throwing up about once every 2-3 days. Nels took her to the vet at the end of March, but Mary Alice still couldn’t find anything wrong with her. But Kelpie had lost about 2.5 pounds–her healthy weight was always around 11 or so. At that point, she weighed 9.

Anyway, she still didn’t stop barfing. We put her on wet food (I usually only give my kitties dry), and I actually started feeding her kitten food. She was getting so skinny, I wanted to get as many calories as possible into her. But it seemed like she was still getting skinner. And she was still throwing up. So I took her back to the vet. That was Monday night.

Kelpie now weighs 6 pounds.

So Mary Alice palpated her stomach some more. And she found something. So she took an X-ray. Kelpie’s got a tumor. Mary Alice can’t really tell where it is–it could be in her pancreas or in her small intestine. Or it could be a swollen lymph node, but that’s unlikely she said. An ultrasound might give her a better idea about where the tumor is coming from, but then it might not. The radiology guy is going to be in town Thursday if I wanted to do it. But they’d have to sedate Kelpie and shave her and stuff. And what they found probably wouldn’t be treatable. The other option is to do exploratory surgery. But then she said that she didn’t think Kelpie, being in such a weakened state, would recover from such an invasive procedure.

So this is the only option I have left before me: let her die.

Kelpie 3

She’s only ten. She’s not an old kitty. Okay, so she’s not a kitten anymore, but I thought she’d be around for another 5 years or so. But now I’m wondering if she’ll make it to her next birthday. I actually doubt that; it’s not until July.

The reality of this keeps hitting me in odd moments. Like Monday night, when the practical part of my brain said that maybe I should pull my car over to the side of the road because I was sobbing so hard that I couldn’t see. Or last night, surrounded by the odd bright colors of the cat food aisle of PetCo, trying to find something, anything, that she would eat, and knowing that I was watching her slowly starve to death.

the kelpers

She’s not eating much at all anymore. I’m giving her everything I can think of, everything she loved before. I even bought her some ice cream yesterday, something she would have practically chewed through the freezer for before she got sick. She gave it a couple of licks. That was it. I woke up disoriented next to her food bowl on the kitchen floor last night, and stared uncomprehending at Oscar, demolishing the food in Kelpie’s dish. “Get lost!” I yelled finally, snatching the dish away. “That’s Kelpie’s, not yours!”

I’m not getting much sleep at all, actually. I stay up late every night reading James Herriot novels. It’s because I am afraid. Afraid that she’ll curl up to sleep one night and not wake up. Afraid of coming downstairs in the morning and finding her cold and still in a corner.

My mom says it might be better that way–if Kelpie dies quietly in her sleep. Because getting our cat Alabaster put to sleep after she got mammory cancer was about the hardest thing she’s ever had to do, she told me. And if Kelpie makes up her mind it’s time to go, then that’s it.

I guess she’s right. I don’t know. I don’t think Kelpie is in any pain. She doesn’t move around a whole lot anymore, and she hasn’t come up to me asking for pats in awhile now. But she still runs out on the porch to meet my car when I get home at night, and still sits on the toilet when I take a shower. She doesn’t talk to me anymore, though. Kelpie is the only cat I’ve ever had that did that–that weird half purr half meow thing. She’d do it at me, and I’d do it back. But I don’t know when she last did that.

I have to call Mary Alice and see if she think Kelpie’s hurting. Does it hurt to be so skinny? Good God, she’s so light. Six pounds! Like a little piece of kitty fluff. And you can feel each and every vertebrae, each rib. I don’t want to take a picture of her the way she looks now. It’s so sad. I don’t want to remember her that way.

Kelpie with flowers

I want to remember her as the ass-kicking kitty she was, and is still, although it’s buried inside. I want to remember her ninja moves when she wrestled with Izzy, and the way she would bitch-slap Oscar when he was being a pest (which honestly, is most of the time). I want to remember the time she jumped right in the toilet when she was a kitten, and how she used to leap on my head in the middle of the night, that look of evil glee in her eyes. I want to remember the day she finally let Nels pet her, and then later when she would nuzzle his armpits (ew, but cute). I want to remember how she would catch chipmunks, then carry them around in her mouth like kittens, never hurting them at all. And the day that Bev, my old landlady, carried her upstairs to my apartment, Kelpie’s baby head just peeking over her arm. “Here’s Baby!” Bev said to me, in that bizarre Indiana hick accent she had. That was a week after I moved to Bloomington. Almost 11 years ago.

our feets

Kelpie has always been my kitty. We’ve been through a lot together. And now…now I have to let her go. But I don’t know how. I’ve always been kind of a fierce person, in all aspects. But I think the fiercest parts of me are the way that I love and the way I protect. And just giving up on her, well. It goes against my nature. Giving up is against Kelpie’s nature too, which is part of the reason I love her so much. She’s like me.

I’m sorry. Sorry I went on so long. But my heart is hurting and I’m a writer, so what do I do? I write. Badly, in this case. I usually go over my blog posts a couple of times before I publish them, but I’m not going to this time. I don’t want to read all that again. So I’m sure it sucks and I’m sure it’s sad and I’m sure it’s long. And I’m sure I’ll miss my kitty. And that’s all.

1. Shock and Denial

extra boobage room

This sweater is okay, right? It’s not too big in the boobs. It’ll block out. I don’t need to rip it. It’s fine. It fits.

not too big. no way

The armholes are just perfect, too. Lots of extra room, in case I start lifting weights. Or go into bodybuilding.

2. Pain and Guilt

Dude. This is 3/4 of a sweater. Do you know how long I’ve been working on this? That I put it down LAST YEAR, just to eff it up and have to rip back to about where I started from? FECK!

more extra boobage room

Oh man! I don’t want to re-knit this. What if I screw it up again? Plus I want to start a NEW sweater, not knit this one over again. Whine! No fair!

3. Anger and Bargaining

Look, you stupid piece of shit sweater–this is your fault. You tricked me! I thought once I got more weight below the bust part, the knitted fabric would pull down more! But it doesn’t! You suck!

too much curve

Okay. Okay, okay. How about this: I’ll get a push-up bra. One of those that adds…two cup sizes. I’ve always wanted to be a DD.

4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness

I keep spreading you out on my lap. You’re so pretty! Why don’t you fit?

...but it's so pretty!

It would be so great if you could just…oh man, I can’t do anything right, can I? It’s just a dumb top-down raglan sleeved sweater! They’re supposed to be easy! But no, I go and screw it up royally. Jeez, is anybody as dumb as me? I tried it on every few rows! How could it possibly not fit?

5. The Upward Turn

So I started a new pair of socks. Barber Pole socks, from the last Twist Collective. (Yarn is Claudia’s Handpaints in grape jelly.) No, I haven’t ripped yet. I’m just…working on the socks. I like how they’re turning out so far. Pretty! I’m not totally worthless. I can do some stuff.

springy sock

6. Reconstruction and Working Through

So I guess the problem is that four extra stitches I cast on below the arms. If I just rip back to that part, I can fix it.

about how much I can get rid of

Actually just above that, so I can make the armholes slightly smaller. I think it’ll work.

7. Acceptance and Hope

Sure it’s a lot of work lost, but I can make it right, actually pretty easily. And it will be better in the end. Perfect, even.

I guess that’s all. Excuse me, I have some frogging to do.

in a forest pitch-dark
glowed the tiniest spark
it burst into flame
like me : like me

another attempt to get the whole thing

Okay, so Bjork’s song Isobel doesn’t exactly fit this situation. This teeny shawlette is Ishbel, not IsObel. But that didn’t stop me from singing that song in my head the whole time I was knitting it.

Not that it’s a bad thing. I big heart Bjork.

isn't it purdy?

My Love Ishbel (Rav it!)
Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, from Whimsical Little Knits
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, 1 skein of unknown colorway (ballband long gone)
Needle: US 6
Started: March 31
Finished: April 9

So tell me if you’ve ever been in this situation.

You see a pattern, and it’s so cute! You must knit it. You glance at the directions, which say something like “…blah blah blah one skein of sock yarn.” And your brain says, “Hey, one skein of sock yarn? I have that!” And you scamper off to the sock yarn stash and retrieve that lovely perfect skein of Koigu that you’ve had forever that’s just been waiting for the perfect thing.

Anybody catch my whoopsie there? I did eventually. And by eventually I mean after I had cast on and knitted for a good long while.

If I had actually read the pattern, I would have noticed that it does call for a skein of sock yarn, yes, but it’s a full-sized skein of sock yarn. Meaning about 350 yards. A skein of Koigu KPPPM has 175 yards. You need two to make a pair of socks. (Which might explain why that single skein of Koigu has been sitting in my sock stash forever.)

So I am the only person ever to have done something like this? Didn’t think so.

Ah, well. Lucky for us knitters, we know how to knit! And we know how to change stuff. Yay us.

So this lovely pattern Ishbel is stockinette at the beginning, then it starts being all lacey. Not wanting complications in my life, I changed the stockinette part. I made it littler.

stockinette bit

It was actually pretty easy to do. It turns out you need a certain number of stitches on the needles before you start the lace part. (Wow thanks, Captain Obvious! You’re welcome, I do try to help.)

Ysolda wrote the pattern for two sizes, a big laceweight and a little sock weight. I don’t remember the exact numbers for each; it was something like 175 stitches for the little and 200 some-odd for the big. But I whipped out my wild algebra skills and figured that this number of stitches was 29 + 16x, where x equals the number of lace repeats. So I plugged in integers for x until I had a number that I thought was sort of right (based on how many stitches there were for the small size). My x turned out to be 6, so I increased to 125 stitches.

Math. Not just for breakfast anymore.


Everything was both hunky and dorey for a bit. Until I ran out of yarn.

Oh, I was so close. I was TWO rows from the end. Two stinkin rows! Well, you can see what I did above. I used a different color for those last two measly dumb pathetic rows. (Okay, so they were really very cute rows. I was just mad at the lack of yarn.)

Ishbel--the arty shot

And actually, I really like how it turned out. As Nicole said when she saw the finished product, “It looks like you did it on purpose!” This was after my knitting group watched me knit and tink those last two rows um…was it three times? I tried a couple of different colors before I found this one, and ripping those trials out was not a pretty sight. (We have beer at knitting group. It came in handy that night.)

middle point

I very much heart this non-point as the center um, point. Beautimous.

But I’m way happy with it. See?

i amuse myselfapparentlysomone has to

So Ishbel with 175 yards of sock yarn? Yes it can be done. It’s a very respectable 37″ across the top, and 13.5″ at center back. Not bad, considering that the Ysolda measured her smaller one at 48.5 x 14.5″. I do tend to block the shit out of stuff, though. But I really love the lace to open up.


Can I just say once again how much I love Ysolda’s patterns? They are beautiful, they are fun, they are easy to knit because of her crystal-clear instructions. If I were a man, I’d be winging off to Scotland right now to try and win her hand.

And on second thought, the lyrics to Isobel maybe fit in some parts.

in a heart full of dust
lives a creature called lust
it surprises and scarves*
like me : like me

my name isobel : married to myself
my love isobel : living by herself

I lusted after it, and I loved it. And now I’m wearing it. Yay.

*okay, so this said scares. Spare a little poetic license?

Because otherwise, how would have Kalani captured these lovelies that I tried on at T.J. Maxx last night?

sex-ay Marlenes

Hmm, I’m starting to think I should have gotten them…

It snowed this morning.

Snow. In April.

It’s the kind of thing that when you wake up and see the fricking sleet/snow crap coming down outside and it’s Monday morning and you stayed up really late last night because you were feeling too out of sorts to go to bed mostly because you didn’t do anything yesterday because your routine was violently thrown all out of whack because you usually work Sundays not Saturdays, but this Saturday was the stupid graduate recruiting weekend and you had to be at work at 9 am and you stood at the poster and talked for two solid hours, then took 15 minutes to gobble down lunch, then took the prospective grad students on a facilities tour, then cleaned the old and scary chemicals out of the flammable solvents cabinet and then your undergrad came in and you worked with him for another four hours and didn’t get home until 8 pm on a friggin Saturday which completely messed up your Sunday and now you are tired and pissy and the sight of snow on a Monday morning is enough to make throw open the window above your bed and bellow “THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!” into the slushy snow and then you remember you live in a valley and your proclamation bounces off the ridges and your neighbor’s stupid dog starts barking but you don’t care and you just slam down the window and throw the covers over your head and go back to sleep.

I worked from home this morning.

The advantage of this, apart from sipping tea in front of a cozy fire until it stopped sleet/snow/icking outside, was that I finally got around to taking some FO pics. I got a new lens, you see. Exactly the same as the old one–I got a used one on the cheap from a photographer in town. So it looks just like this, only not dented.

bashed lens

Isn’t it amazing that, with the right light, the detritus on your end table suddenly becomes all arty? Well, maybe arty is a strong word. I guess I mean it makes me able to see the beauty in a pile of crap. Something like that.

Enough blathering. Here’s my new hat.

hexagonal circles

It’s slouchy! It’s stripy! It’s….a Love Child!

Love Child (Rav it!)
Pattern: used pattern from Le Slouch, but styling from Robin
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Luxury Donegal Tweed, 1 skein each of slate grey and green (The 11 green, not the 08 green. Why the hell would you call two different shades the same name?)
Needle: US 8
Started: March 14
Finished: March 14

Yeppers, that’s right. I started and finished this in the same day. Ah, that was a lovely weekend. All I did was sit and listen to a book and knit alllll afternoon. It was fabulous.

sweet bunny goodness

Okay. So. Deets. A little bit ago, I fell in love with this hat that Moonstitches made. (Anybody here that hasn’t fallen in love with something she’s made? Didn’t think so.) But, problem. Kim Hargreaves, the designer of Robin, does not sell her patterns individually. And I’ve never liked more than one of her patterns in any given collection, so I’m not about to drop however many pounds to buy the whole book/mag thing. (This is something that’s long made me Ms. Peevy Trousers, but I’m not going into that now.) So what was I to do? Wing it, of course.

Totally not a big deal. A beret’s a beret. So I used the numbers from Le Slouch and guessed at the purl stripy thing. I think it turned out pretty well. My pom turned out a bit, er rustic, but I kinda like it that way.

my rustic pom

Ah, the jog. I hate it, but yet I respect it. It stays.

I must say, I’ve wanted to try this yarn forever. They have it at my LYS, and I used to walk in there regularly just to manhandle it. So! Soft! It’s a wool angora blend and it is heavenly. I swear, if I ever win the lottery, I’m knitting myself a sweater out of this stuff. $10 for 95 yds is not really in my price range for sweater yarn. But a hat? I could totally do a hat.

But the funny thing? I bought three skeins, then only ended up using about a skein and a half. When I finished knitting it, the hat was tiny. Then I blocked the shit out of it. And now it’s slouchy, hooray!

Could it be.....SATAN?

I guess you’ll have to believe me on the slouchy bit. I tried to get a modeled shot, but was interrupted by Satan’s minions knocking on my front door. But they didn’t steal my soul, ha! Only a slight temporary possession.

jaunty bowl

My Crate & Barrel mixing bowl wears it well, though. But me? I don’t know, it’s a bit too, “Say Todd, wouldn’t it be swell to play the back nine and then have some highballs?” I think it may be the pom. So I might take it off. Or not. Maybe.

But I guess one plus to this unseasonable icky cold? I can still appreciate a nice warm fuzzy hat. Maybe I’ll make mitts with the copious leftovers.

At least that might make it warm up again.

I do have a lead on a new lens. Yay for that, since I have this smoothbeautifully wicked hat I finished ages ago yet to blog. In the meantime, I had to share this website of amazingly amazing bookstores. Holy crap! I want to visit all of them!

Anyhoodle, hope to be showing you nice new pictures soon.



Contact me

thechemgrrl AT gmail DOT com (you know what to do with the extras)
April 2009