Monday, October 16, 2017

Homeschool Literature Project - Watership Down



From the above guide, there was a suggested activity to draw a specific scene from the novel, Watership Down. I think there were 4 or 5 choices. My 9th grader chose to draw Bigwig after his fight with Woundwort, and my 5th grader chose to draw the Black Rabbit of Inlé.


Then in a different section there was a recommendation to write a poem. I don't remember the particular styles they assigned, but they didn't fit with the drawing prompt to my mind, and I liked the idea of having them write a poem to accompany their drawing, so I asked them to write a haiku about the scene they drew.




Earlier in our Watership Down until study, I had the 9th grader recreate a scene from the book in comic format. She is taking drawing lessons and I really like how it came out, although the drawings are very small and I couldn't get a good photo. I liked the project enough that I'm planning on having her draw other scenes from other books in the future.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Compassion Fatigue

I work in veterinary medicine. Compassion fatigue is a serious problem that can lead to burnout and people leaving the field. I have to assume it must be a problem in human medicine as well. I've taken continuing education classes on it and how to deal with the effects, how to hopefully prevent it in yourself and your coworkers if you see the symptoms.

I feel that we, as a nation, are in the throws of compassion fatigue. More and more people are telling me they can't watch or read the news anymore. When it feels like there are near daily heartbreaking tragedies that need out donations, support, or other emotional energy, and we just don't feel like we have anything more to give on any of those fronts. I'm there for sure. I was trying so hard to be a better citizen, staying better informed and writing or calling my representative more often, but like so many others I'm hitting the limit of what I can take.

How can we go on like this? Just responding to tragedy after tragedy. Doing nothing to prevent, or to overcome. I feel small and helpless and sad. I'm going to cuddle kitties and kids now. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

October

I'm a big ole introvert. So is my husband. Under normal circumstances, we are enough company for one another. October is not normal circumstances. We have three family birthdays in October. There is Halloween and with that comes Pumpkin patch visits, Halloween parties, Harvest festivals, and so forth. We already missed the local Octoberfest because we had too many other things happening this weekend.

I was feeling like an ungrateful brat the other day as I was juggling our schedule and realized that I'd planned something on the same day we had another event already. It was at least the third time this week we hit a major planning conflict in October, and we hadn't even gotten our daughter's birthday party scheduled yet. So I was grumpy. But when I stepped back - what was I grumpy about? Ohh poor me, who is invited to too many fun things. Then I felt like a jerk.

Yes, juggling a busy social schedule is not something I'm great at. Yes, all the extra festivities around the holidays (and beginning in October) do wear at me a bit to keep track of. But, hey - I have family and friends who want me around. Who organize fun things for my kids to do. Who provide us with so many wonderful memories that we will cherish for years. So I think I will learn to deal.

And that's the real problem. If we actually didn't want to do these things or spend time with these people we could just say no and keep out days open and free. But we DO want to do all the things! But all the things are happening at the same time, and my poor little simple brain implodes just a bit. I'll be okay. I will have an amazing time, and hopefully still manage to be productive. If, however, you notice nothing on this blog again until January you'll know why.

Have fun out there!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Writing Excuses Podcast Homework



I love the Writing Excuses podcast.

For those who didn't listen to it, at the end of each episode, they give a sort of writing prompt/homework assignment for their listeners to do related to the topic of that particular episode. I don't usually do them. I have done some - like the ones where you ask friends to send you pictures of random items and then make a story out of them. I've posted those stories on this blog in fact:

Love Squash
Making Space

But usually, I just listen, and try to use what I've learned on whatever project I'm currently working on instead of starting something new for the writing exercise.

That is, until I got to season 10. Now, I'm fairly far behind. I think they are on season 12 at least now. In season 10 they are doing what they call a writing master class. So each episode (most anyway) will be a lesson and the lessons will build over the season. I'd like to participate with this season in the spirit it was created, that is - as a class. So that means I should actually do the assignments. However, I've learned there is a second reason I don't do the exercises. I forget what they are when I'm home with my writing materials.

I listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I'm out for my walks. I am not going to carry a notebook with me to do assignments while I am out for my walk. I think I will do it when I get home. Then I get home, walk through the door, and my family wants to talk to me, my cats want dinner, etc. and I don't remember that I was going to do a writing exercise. Or I walk on my lunch break and when I get back I have to, you know, go back to work. If I do remember it's when I'm getting ready to go for another walk and realize I can't listen to the next episode because I haven't done the homework from the last episode.

Tonight, however, I am getting caught up. I am doing the exercises from the first three episodes that I've already listened to. Writing Excuses has all the instructions up at their website, so I don't actually need to remember what to do -I can look it up.

If you are an aspiring writer, I can't recommend this podcast enough. There are so many other podcasts that discuss publishing, but this is about craft, and the advice is detailed and wonderful. Go listen.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mirtazapine in Cats

Bob in his Gryffindor scarf. photo by Kara Hartz
Mirtazapine is a common appetite stimulant used for cats. Over the past couple weeks I've given Bob two doses, and he is eating great. Mirtazapine is used because it works really well. Cats who take it, eat. When you have a sick cat that refuses food for significant lengths of time, despite being offered many tempting options, cat people get frustrated and hopeless feeling. Something that gets the cats eating again is a godsend.

Another plus, for anyone who has tried to pill a cat is that it only needs to be given every 3 days. The hospital where I work now carries a new form of Mirtazapine that isn't a pill, but is a soft dissolving tab. So it dissolves quickly in the cat's mouth as opposed to them needing to swallow it. However, it needs to be given every day.

What is talked about less is a common side affect of Mirtazapine.  Even some of the doctors I work with didn't know about this. Most cats I know who have taken Mirtazapine has some degree of behavior changes. Agitation, restlessness, increased vocalizations and similar behaviors are what I've mostly seen or had reported to me. Knowing to expect, or at least not to be startled by these changes when they happen can keep cat people from worrying that something new has gone wrong with their beloved.

For Bob, the restless is the worst on the first day of his pill and decreases over time. I haven't tried the dissolving tabs with him, but since they don't last as long, I wonder if the side affects would be lessened too. I'd be interested to hear your experience if your cat has taken the daily form.

Bob's level of agitation was so bad yesterday that I started rethinking if I would continue using it with him, but today he is his usual happy self, ad I'm torn. The old dude really needs to eat. *sigh* The stressful life of the elderly kitty guardian.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Vixen and the Temporal Portal



The first time Vixen ran through the temporal gate, she'd been running from something large and noisy. She didn't know for sure what, but a young fox didn't wait around to find out if they had any sense at all. The charged air made her fir stand on end, and if she'd approached slowly enough to feel it ahead of time, she never would have gone through. The disturbing tingle wasn't the only shocking change. It had been deep after moon rise when she had been out hunting, but suddenly it was just after dawn. The forest also suddenly held twice as many trees. In fact, she had to swerve in her run to avoid a giant trunk that sprung up in front of her.

She stopped, looking frantically around. Everything was different, but familiar at the same time. Some of the trees smelled the same, but there were new kinds, with new smells. The nearby creek smelled much stronger. Despite the change from night to day, the air was cooler. She crouched, remembering she was fleeing from a threat, but now didn't hear anything but the wind. 

Moments passes, and after a time, she heard a rustling nearby, but this time it was the noise of something tiny. Despite the strangeness of the place she knew prey when she heard it. She stayed crouched and still, watching the direction the sound had come from and was rewarded a second later with a wood rat crawling out of a pile of dried leaves. She was on him in a blink and the creature never knew what hit him. 

Grasping the carcass in her teeth, she trotted toward home this time feeling the prickling along her skin ahead of time, but so hungry and anxious to get her meal back to her burrow that she pressed on despite the discomfort. She didn't remember the last time she'd had such a big, plump rat. Possibly she never had. 

She remembered that rat, and the tingling that came with it. It wasn't too much longer before she searched for that tingle again. Her mate had stopped bringing food to the den. She had tried to search for him, but had no luck. Her pregnancy was advancing, and she was hungry often. She was drawn to the place of abundant smells and fat rats. 

Over the next week she hunted there regularly. She would trot or dart through the gateway to minimize the discomfort with the transition. She lingered in the new lush land longer at each visit, until she began to tire and wanted to snuggle into her burrow back home. Then, completely by accident she found a nice cozy abandoned burrow. Not perfect, but a good fit, and it could be adjusted to be even better. It was near time for the kits to come, and living here would mean no more icky tingles. She'd caught a young rat this time, and took it into the new hole. She never went through the temporal gate again.

Unknown to Vixen, that decision marked the official extinction of red foxes in 2042, and their spontaneous reemergence in 2197 thanks to the Temporal Species and Habitat Restoration Program (TSAHR), and one of the Program's greatest successes. 

prompt - moon, skin, caught

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I Liked Him Better Chubby

Thin Bob. photo by Kara Hartz

He isn't eating enough. I'm starting him on appetite stimulants, but they make him act goofy. Why do cats have to get old?

Monday, September 11, 2017

3 Books (and a cat)

Meeko with my current reading material. photo by Kara Hartz
I'm overwhelmed with great reading material (again). I picked up The Healer's Legacy by Sharon Skinner at San Francisco Comic Con last weekend, and started reading it on the way home. The author presented a writing panel I attended, and I remembered seeing her last year as well, but I didn't have a chance then to go back to the dealer room to buy a book. So I made a point to do so this year. I'm enjoying it so far. The main character has a panther and tiny dragon friend. So - what more do you need?

Then at the library I spotted Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon on the 'Lucky Day' shelf. The Lucky Day books are popular books that they don't let you renew, and you can't put a hold on them. I think there are other copies of the same books you can hold, but they save some just for the Lucky Day shelf- the idea being that when you come into the library and find a great book that you've been wanting, that makes your day, Lucky! Now, I HAVE been wanting to get this book because it is a collection of Outlander short fiction. I've already read most of the stories, but there are 3 or 4 of them that I had not yet tracked down in their original publications. So yea! Problem is, I'm already reading the above book, but I had to grab this one when I saw it, and can't renew. So I get to read extra. My Sunday is reading day!

Then, a great co-worker gave me The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. (When I went to get that link I noticed the ebook is on sale for $1.99 if you want to grab it - not sure how long the sale goes.) I've heard good things about it, so it's going next in line because she just told me her sister wants to read it too. I can't lollygag too much with getting it done and back to her.

Other books I'm looking forward to hopefully getting soon are the last in the Broken Earth Trilogy: The Stone Sky by N K Jemisin, The third book in the Tawny Man Trilogy: Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb, and Terminal Alliance by Jim Hines - it isn't out yet though so I get to wait for that one. (Ack! When I went to get THAT link I saw he has a Magic ex Libris short story available called Chupacabra's Song for only $0.99 that I then had to buy. Perhaps I shouldn't do these posts about what I'm reading if they are going to result in me finding even more things to read. . . oh who am I kidding. There is always room for more great stuff to read.)