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Author Archives: Harmony

It’s Benign! It’s Benign!

It’s Benign! It’s Benign!

 

Good News! Good News! Daisy’s tumor is benign!

 

Happy Daisy

 

The vet called us just minutes ago. The lab results were in. Daisy’s growth — that lump on the side of her face, which the vet removed a week ago — was benign!

It was, though, still a tumor. That thought on its own is chilling.

But… it was benign!

The  vet said that it was a trichoblastoma tumor, a tumor of the hair follicle. I wasn’t familiar with this, so I trotted off to Google and this is what I learned:

  • Almost all trichblastoma tumors are benign. (Benign!!)
  • They’re not uncommon in some breeds, including golden retrievers.
  • The treatment is surgical removal. Done and done!
  • There’s great info on these tumors at this site.

I mentioned in my last post that I felt fairly certain that it was benign — I had that gut, intuitive feeling that all was okay — but it feels so fabulous to have the lab results to back that up.

I’m so happy!

I’m so relieved!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

I’m chortling in my joy! :-D

 

Happy Daisy 3

 

 

 

 

Our Veterinary Whirlwind (plus a big surprise box that came at the perfect moment)

Our Veterinary Whirlwind (plus a big surprise box that came at the perfect moment)

 

We’re in a veterinary whirlwind.

Tucker, our big orange monkey boy, was recently diagnosed with chronic renal failure.

 

tucker cuddling

 

It’s not as bad as it sounds. I feel positive that he has a few good years left, with a lot of care.

But still, his diagnosis weighs heavily on my heart.

Tucker is under the care of two veterinarians, as well as his two doting parents.

He’s got a third vet in the hopper, a holistic vet who does phone consultations, recommended to me by my friend Robin Skov. I’ll call him if I need to.

This week, our traveling vet came to visit. She gave Tucky an acupuncture treatment, and she taught us to give him sub-cutaneous fluids, which renal kitties need on a frequent basis.

Sub-q involves a large needle, a plastic bag filled with solution, and a great deal of courage.

Luckily, my brave and strong husband has experience giving sub-cutaneous fluids to seals (yes, seals; you see why I married him?), so he’ll be the one to slip the needle under Tucker’s skin.

I’ll just hold the kitty and stroke his fur. I’m really good at cuddling, after all.

We do our first solo flight on the sub-q tomorrow. No vet present. Just a dad and a mom and a cat and a needle.

Yikes.

 

More Veterinary Challenges

Miss Daisy, our beloved golden retriever (and resident expert in rolling in dead things on the beach), went to the vet yesterday to have a large growth removed from her face.

 

daisys bump

The growth was on her jawline.

 

The good news: It’s not a mast cell tumor. It is possibly benign.

The bad news: None so far. Thank you, all that is holy.

The vet is sending the mass off to a lab to be biopsied. We’ll have the results back next week.

Now, call me an optimist, but I feel that all is probably okay. Daisy is simply bursting with good health. Her pre-anesthesia bloodwork was so perfect that I’m considering framing the report. She glows with all that is good and bouncy.

Still, a small part of me is on edge. Every now and then, I realize I’ve forgotten to breathe.

Daisy was in wobble-grog last night from the surgical anesthesia. She’s still a little dopey this next morning, but I see improvement every hour.

This is probably what I looked like back when I had my wisdom teeth out, except I was likely droolier. (It is a rare day when I can claim to be droolier than a dog.)

Daisy can resume her normal routine of rolling in dead things on the beach in two weeks. For now, though, our girl has to stay away from such germfests and sandstorms until her stitches come out.

I’ll report back on her biopsy results next week.

I really do feel positive. Then I feel that thread of fear. Then I glance at Daisy, and I know that, no matter what the biopsy says, everything is going to be okay.

Even if sage wisdom is not enjoying much popularity within me right now, it’s probably true.

 

So that’s our veterinary whirlwind.

In all of this, I’ve been dealing with some pretty heavy-duty fatigue of my own, possibly triggered by fear for my animals. This has been another sharp wind in the medical maelstrom.

Day by day, I’ve been getting better, thanks in large part to blackstrap molasses and lemony green smoothies and lots of rest.

So, there is always good news on the horizon. After all, that’s what horizons are for.

 

Hark! Breaking News!

The horizon must have heard me, because some spectacular news just pulled in.

Just as I wrote those hopeful horizon sentences, a bright yellow DHL van crackled its way up my gravel drive.

I popped outside (first covering up my pajamas with regular clothes; yes, I do the “pajama incognito” thing) and signed for a large and lumberous package that fairly burst with good cheer, while Daisy and Gloria barked an orchestral accompaniment from indoors.

The DHL driver had a big, open grin. “Can I give your dog a biscuit?” she asked.

I wanted to say yes. But I thought of Daisy, still not fully secure on her feet after her surgery. I thought of her wobble-racing Gloria toward this lovely DHL woman with her fragrant biscuits. I thought of the two dogs body-slamming the driver in joy, with Daisy’s fresh stitches catching on the driver’s uniform.

I sighed. “No, not today. Our girl just had surgery yesterday and is still recovering. But you must be a dog person.”

“Oh, yeah. We’ve got three of them.”

And a lovely dog-based conversation wended between us as I clutched my package of wonderful news.

Now indoors, my good news lies nestled on the floor, near Daisy.

 

daisy and box 2

 

This box contains a tool, a special tool.

A tool I’ve been waiting months for.

A tool that will let me draw dogs and cats in a whole new way.

No, this isn’t the mystery painting medium I alluded to at the end of my last post.

(I swear by all that is goofy that I will tell you about that soon. Once I figure out its drying time, that is. Humidity strikes again!)

But what lies within this box is a second mystery medium. It may well wind its tendrils around the first, and possibly take over the whole patch.

So, stay tuned! I’ll share Daisy’s biopsy next week, plus a report on our first solo flight with Tucker’s sub-q, not to mention the news of what lies within that intriguing package from the Dog-Loving Driver of DHL!

 

daisy and box 3

Growth all gone!
The stitches are at that small bump of skin on her jawline.
You can still see the grogginess in her eyes.

 

 

My First Teeny-Tiny Oil Painting! “School Picture”

My First Teeny-Tiny Oil Painting! “School Picture”

 

 

I’ve been waiting and waiting to show you something…

I have been tapping my toes for six whole weeks, just waiting for this certain little something to dry…

Now, finally, it’s ready! I present to you “School Picture,” my very first teeny-tiny cartoon oil painting!

 

school picture

School Picture
oil on canvas
3×3

 

I’m in love with this orange kitty (okay, so I’m in love with ALL orange kitties). But I will admit, right from the get-go, that this little kitty had some problems.

 

But First: Why Oil Paints?

As you probably know, I discovered that my acrylic paints were making me sick.

Since then, I’ve been on the hunt for my new painting medium. Solvent-free oil paints beckoned, and I swooned their way.

Actually, I started my swoon back in June, several weeks before I connected my acrylics to the odd bouquet of illnesses I was experiencing.

I was simply enamored of the idea of oils. Just the thought entranced me. I felt that tickle inside that said, “Give ‘em a try.”

Now, we don’t have much by way of art supply stores here in these rural parts. There is one store, and I do still shop there on occasion — when necessary — but the employees tend to be harsh Art Harpies: critical and unkind, even to newbies. (I call it the Art Harpy Horror Store, and you can read all about it at that link, if you’re curious.) So I tread at that store with caution, and do my best to never, ever ask the employees questions, as their attitudes can lead to truama.

Given this, I went to an art supply store three hours away. It just seemed sensible.

We were on the way home from a trip to see family, anyway. My sweetie and I pulled off I-5 and swooped into Oregon Art Supply in Eugene before turning west toward the coast.

The very kind staff there helped me choose primary colors in the M. Graham brand of oil paints — the ones made with walnut oil — and were very supportive when I talked about chemical sensitivities and my need to paint without solvents.

Three cheers for awesome art store people!

 

In Which Things Fail to Dry

The next day, with zero knowledge to speak of in the oil paint department, I set about painting a teeny tiny kitty, the result of which you see here on this post.

And then I waited. And waited. And waited.

But the dang little painting just would not dry.

“Silly Harmony,” you may be thinking, “of course oil paints take a long time to dry!” But before you’re tempted to tsk, read on.

I waited about a week before I touched the painting, but when I did, the paint smudged beneath my fingertip.

That spooked me. I skittered back from my painting and tiptoed away, leaving it to its own devices.

Week after week, I tested an inconspicuous edge of the canvas, but week after week, paint smeared off on my thumb.

Days stacked upon days. Weeks flopped over weeks. The calendar cranked on. But still, there was little drying.

It has now been over six weeks since I painted this tiny canvas, and only now has it dried to the point where I dared to lay it down — for a brief moment — on the scanner bed.

It’s still not quite dry enough to handle without small amounts of pigment staining my hands. Which is why you won’t see my Tucker, Gloria, Daisy, or Shnoodle modeling this painting, as they did for Teeny Tiny Golden Retriever and Sneaky Kitty Gets the Treats.

Wet paint and dog tongues? Wet paint and cat paws? Bad, bad combinations.

 

What’s Up with This Failure to Dry?

Oil paints don’t dry like water-based paints. Because they’re not made with water, there is nothing to evaporate from them. Rather than drying, oil paints cure. They oxidize, interacting with the oxygen in their environment until the oils themselves harden into a plastic-like surface.

When I heard this, I thought, “Well, heck, I’ve got plenty of oxygen in my air. I live at sea level, after all!”

Much to my chagrin, though, I learned that there isn’t more oxygen in the air at sea level. (Silly me. Must be all that oxygen deprivation.)

Anyway, I wasn’t too concerned about oxidizing. We have oxygen a-plenty.

But it turns out that, despite the fact that oil paints do not dry via evaporation, they cure at a much, much slower rate when the humidity is high. Which it always is here by the sea.

High humidity? Yeah, I got high humidity. I could carve out cubes of my air and sell it to water-starved regions on eBay. That’s how humid it is here.

But wait, there’s more. According to the Winsor & Newton website, artists are advised to “avoid drying your paintings in continuous darkness or high humidity as these conditions may cause yellowing of the oil.” 

Well, poop.

Continuous darkness is something I can avoid, especially now that the trees to the south are all gone. *sigh*

But avoid high humidity? Can’t be done. Humidity is like death and taxes here. Except it happens everyday, and every night for that matter, whereas those other things only come round now and then, if you’re lucky.

Poop-and-a-half.

 

The Quest Continues

Because I tend to give things like oxygen, humidity, and paint drying time the benefit of the doubt, I went ahead and painted yet another oil painting of a kitty.

This kitty is very charming in its, um, muddiness.

And it’s big. Very big. By my standards. 16×20, baby.

Now, if I thought that a 3×3 canvas took a long time to dry, I was not prepared for a 16×20.

I started this one several weeks ago, and even now the paint feels tacky.

And if you think the paint is tacky, just wait’ll you see the painting itself.

It has, shall we say, potential. It would have far more potential if I knew just what the heck I’m doing with oils.

Now, I could probably paint on top of it, as the colors of this larger painting mixed together on the canvas to make mud. It looks like an underpainting, if that. As they say, it needs a bit of brightening-up.

But if I tell the truth here, I’m kind of scared to touch it.

Why? Because I feel undereducated. Oil painting is a science, and solvent-free oil painting is a separate, archaic science of its own that not many people or websites teach. The sum total of my knowledge in this department is, “Fat over lean” (nothing to do with diet, apparently) and, “Paint it all at once to avoid the nastiness of cracks in the future.”

And, oh yeah: “Paint thin.”

(Didn’t do that on the big kitty painting. Kinda went bonkers with a palette knife. Whoops.)

So now, with a few tubes of oils before me, a large, wet canvas lollygagging on the easel, and a charming teeny-tiny kitty only a few months away from being fully cured, I am left befuddled, muttering, “?????”

(You may quote me on that.)

And I am casting about the Interlands — or, preferably, the Local-lands — in search of a solvent-free oil teacher who has tossed their turpentine to the wind, and is willing to fling open the floodgates of knowledge and let it all gush my way.

Pretty-please?

 

The Top-Secret New Medium

I do love the oil paints. They are buttery, rich, and smooth. I love to smoosh them around with a brush. I love the way the colors blend on the canvas. I even love the scent of the walnut oil. Oils are satisfying in a deeply sensual way. Every brushstroke feels like silk. Acrylics have nothing on them.

So, yes, I do love oils.

But you know what I really love?

really love dry paintings. Were I to paint exclusively in oils, I feel that dry paintings would be a rare phenomenon.

So, my humid climate and I have partnered up. In the absence of a local, solvent-free oil teacher, this old climate and I are searching for a new medium.

We may possibly have found it. 

It involves paint, yes, and possibly a food dehydrator.

Along those lines, and not to tease, I must tell you that I received a rather charming box from Dick Blick in the mail last week, and have been busy slapping color onto canvas.

I have also been chittering and gibbering in glee.

like this new medium. It’s, like, yum. Candy sauce in a tube.

Stay tuned!

 

 

My Acrylic Angst: Getting Sick from Acrylic Paints (with a pit stop for cat pee along the way)

My Acrylic Angst: Getting Sick from Acrylic Paints (with a pit stop for cat pee along the way)

  I haven’t painted in an ice age — a week, at least, if not more. Slowly, the gloom creeps over me. What’s an artist to do? Last week, if you recall, I reported (sadly) that I seem to be having a reaction to the fumes of the acrylic paints I so love. What kindContinue Reading

Twenty-Five Thousand Words in my Introvert Bubble (No, You Do Not Have to Read Them All) — Oh, and a Chemical Swoon

Twenty-Five Thousand Words in my Introvert Bubble (No, You Do Not Have to Read Them All) — Oh, and a Chemical Swoon

  Big family visits. Big community gatherings. A big memorial for a beloved community and tribal leader (who was our in-laws’ close and dear relative). An upcoming scattering-of-ashes for two friends who killed themselves last winter. All of this, on top of the logging next door (which, thank you to all heavens, is over) andContinue Reading

Teeny Tiny Golden Retriever: A thus-far hidden eensy-weensy painting (great for a tired week)

Teeny Tiny Golden Retriever: A thus-far hidden eensy-weensy painting (great for a tired week)

I have so much to share with you in my artsy, animalsy world: A long little doxie painting! A très-squee orange kitty painting! A weensy little butterfly collage! Since my last post, I’ve had daring adventures in scanner technology (note: trust the auto settings), have created cartoon kitty family portraits (complete with cheese-eating grins), and have embarked on aContinue Reading

The Boxing Bearcat: A teensy drawing that’s supposed to be really angry (but it’s not)

The Boxing Bearcat: A teensy drawing that’s supposed to be really angry (but it’s not)

Once upon a time, weeks ago, I was friends with hundreds of trees that no longer are. In my last post, I shared the story of the loss of the trees. Now, the shock has started to heal, both for me and for the land next door. Things are returning to a feeling of balance. ButContinue Reading

The Great and Sorrowful Loss of the Trees (The Dog Blog Clowns Return)

The Great and Sorrowful Loss of the Trees (The Dog Blog Clowns Return)

When life explodes around me, it’s time for a visit from the Dog Blog Clowns. Like rodeo clowns, the Dog Blog Clowns swoop in during tough times to remind us of all that is sweet and good and kind in life. Last time they clowned for us, it was for something rather silly. This time,Continue Reading

Sneaky Kitty Gets the Treats: a new teeny-tiny kitty painting!

Sneaky Kitty Gets the Treats: a new teeny-tiny kitty painting!

      Shhh. We must be very, very quiet. Because we are sneaky kitties. And sneaky kitties always get the treats.         It’s true. Sneaky kitties do get the treats. Just ask Shnoodle, consummate butter-knife licker. She’s sneaky, lapping up leftovers in stealth and silence. And she always gets her treats.Continue Reading

The Rotten Mussel Shell Experience: Daisy’s abiding love for all things stinky (and our abiding love for her)

The Rotten Mussel Shell Experience: Daisy’s abiding love for all things stinky (and our abiding love for her)

Last week’s post was all about skunk stink. This week, let’s talk about a new and novel form of rankness: The Rotten Mussel Shell Experience. We were recently initiated into this stink by our dear and beloved daughter, who is a dog, Daisy Harrison.     When we first met Daisy, she was terrified ofContinue Reading

 
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The Beginner's Guide to
Animal Wisdom

is a little ebook that will help you listen to your animal pals.
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