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The Continuing Adventure of Cricket the Small


So this walked into the house tonight via the cat door, all maybe 6 from Galaxy6 419 pounds of her. Off to the vet tomorrow to see if she’s chipped. So far the cats don’t like her and neither does the dog, but she seems grateful for a warm place to sleep.


1/17from Galaxy6 430

After the bath. I think I like this dog, and Peggy does too.


I put a “Found Pet” notice at Craigslist and have received one reply, but am still waiting for that party to offer proof that the dog is hers. We shall see. Other than that, nothing.


We saw the vet this morning. The dog weighs just under 6 lbs. and may not be pregnant, but just malnourished. No parasites in the poo. Bloodwork being done.

I also learned that I can call the local Humane Society and put in a “Found Dog” notice. I did that, sent them a photo, and let them know that I would foster her and, if nobody legit claims her, I want to adopt her. If someone legit does claim her, they have to pay me back the $200+ I just laid out at the vet’s for the visit, meds, blood work, etc., plus boarding charges while she’s with me. That should weed out the non-serious claimants. I have the feeling that nobody’s going to claim her.

I broke down and named her. She’s Cricket. She and Abby are curled up, touching, on the indoor dog bed. Life’s good.


If any of you have an in with St. Francis, I’d appreciate any petitions in behalf of my little Cricket, who lost it from both ends this evening and couldn’t walk straight and kinda had tummy spasms. She is spending the night in the capable hands of Dr Aaron and his staff, and I should learn more of her condition tomorrow.

I don’t limit the request just to St. Francis, I’ll take good thoughts from anyone to anyone/thing.

It’s not fair, to have fallen this much in love with a critter this fast.


The news so far: Cricket is still with Ali’i Vet and will spend today there, too. After receiving IV fluids and some anti-nausea meds, she settled down and is, today, showing some appetite and good spirits.

As to the cause of the problem, they rushed her blood work and found that she is both severely malnourished and tremendously anemic – the doc said she’s working at 50% of her blood capacity (?) which shows that she’s been out in the wild for at least a month. The fact that she has adapted to this, somewhat, goes to show that she’s a tough little girl.

Although no worms were detected in her stool, Dr Aaron thinks he feels tapeworms in her guts. She has lots of fleas. So the current thinking is this: I gave her the first dose of de-wormer, per instructions, yesterday. This caused the stomach and intestinal upset and, given her weakened condition, the upset put her in shock. It’s lucky I was there when it happened; lucky the clinic was, by chance, open late; lucky that I wrapped her in a warm beach towel and hustled her down there.

All things being equal, she will continue to improve. They are carefully de-worming her, and she’s on a frequent diet of a special anti-nausea dog food mixed with chicken baby food (er, food for human babies made from chickens. No, wait, baby food made from chickens intended for human babies. Not human babies made from chickens, and not food for baby chickens). A little giddy, am I? Well, yes.


Doggie news: Cricket is still at Ali’i Vet. They’ve been deworming her, with considerable success, and she’s eating (as one of the vets said) as if she owned stock in the dog food company. I should get her back tomorrow afternoon.


She’s back! And tired. And expensive.from Galaxy6 443


I picked her up at the vet’s yesterday – an 80+ mile round trip, but worth it. She has been de-wormed most emphatically, rehydrated, and well-fed. Still no idea what caused the incident, since the prescription dewormer I gave her is very gentle; no indication of anything wrong with her innards, either. She is still losing the bloated belly, so I think she wasn’t pregnant after all, or if she is, it’s early enough along so that once she is fully healthy, I can have her spayed and she won’t have physical problems.

I took this tired 6 pound couch-potato to the vet, and what I got back is a spunky, bouncy little girl who is not afraid of anything, including the vacuum cleaner. She dances on her hind legs when she’s really excited. She remembered me (something I was a little worried about) and nuzzled right up. I don’t have a car-seat harness for her (something I have to get as soon as my SS is deposited), so she tried to help me drive home. It’s not safe, of course, but it was kinda fun to watch her interest in the passing scene.

I took the Craigslist notice down. This, damn it, is *my* dog.


I can report that she’s a whole different doggie. She bounces backwards on her hind legs as I fix her meals, she wags so hard that the tail really does wag the dog, and she won’t get more than a couple of yards away from me without prancing back to make sure I haven’t disappeared.

We’re headed back to the vet in an hour for more blood work, and a stop at the local pet/nursery/tchotchkes shop in the hopes that they have a car-seat harness small enough for her.


We’re home from the vet with preliminary reports on the bloodwork. Her protein levels are up, and her red blood count has almost doubled, although it’s not near normal yet. They’ll do the other tests this evening at their lab, but as things stand its all systems go for Cricket the Wonder Dog.

She may be going into heat. She’s still not healthy enough for surgery so for the next 3 weeks I get to be the Fearsome & Terrible Duenna. Those who know me well can now fall over yourselves laughing.


The last bloodwork results are back. White cell count up to normal, red cell count not there yet but rising, urinalysis shows no problems (so she really is unhousebroken). Monday she woke up looking as bloated as she did when she first showed up, lethargic, the whole thing. Worried hell out of me. Tuesday I woke to discover her back to her bouncy enthusiastic self, and a truly tremendous poo on the lanai. I don’t understand how she manages to hold that much inside her, I truly don’t.from Galaxy6 605

This should give you a clearer view of her progress.  Fattening up nicely; soon she will be dinner size.



Doggy update: Cricket continues to be a delight. I left her and Abby inside yesterday (grocery shopping) and when I came back, Cricket was waiting at the livingroom window. Then she rushed to the lanai to make sure I really was coming. Then she raced to the front door and performed some first class Cavorting, including the mid-air body twist and the Upright Vertical fling at a yard (at least) from the floor. I wish my hands hadn’t been full — I wish my hands weren’t so shaky that I can’t take a decent video.

I think she may be over being in heat, so I’m going to take her to visit our friend Judy at Ali’i Vet just to make sure. If she is, then I need to call the Humane Society, where I registered her as being fostered, and tell them I want to adopt — and she will be legally mine! Judy tells me that they will help with the cost of neutering and having her chipped.


Doggie update: I have been taking both dogs with me to the Tuesday afternoon knitting group. Cricket gets passed from hand to hand and cooed at, while Abby has learned to relax among a group of chattering women and accept pets from anyone offering them. However, Abby does *not* like riding in the car. She huddles down into a foot well and tucks her head in.

Earlier this week Abby seemed to be having a hard time breathing and yesterday she was off her feed, so I thought I would leave her home and let her rest. I patted her and told her goodbye, leashed Cricket, and took her out to the car. The minute I had the car door open, Abby rocketed into the front seat and huddled down on the pedals. It was only by great persuasion that I was able to get her into the passenger side, where Cricket joined her. The two of them rode happily to the community center, Abby found her place under the table in front of my chair, and Cricket was cooed at. Then back into the car and home, no problems at all.

I think that Abby is coming to appreciate having a companion animal in her life.


Such good news! My sweet, damaged, reticent dog Abby has, since a few days ago, made it a habit to join Cricket and me in the living room in the evenings. She makes herself comfy on the couch, which most dogs do, but Abby doesn’t. And tonight, for the first time, she brought one of her heretofore ignored soft dog toys with her, mouthed it gently, and has gone to sleep with her chin atop it.

The semi-feral girl cats took off a few days after Cricket showed up, although they pop in late at night to eat. But yesterday Pudge showed up late in the evening to rub herself against Abby before fleeing, and this afternoon CJ swaggered up to me on the lanai to treat me to a good long session of purrs, bellyrubs, and ecstatically stretched claws. They both look sleek and well-fed and I have new hope that they will rejoin us inside someday soon.

Life is good.


Doggie update: Cricket is back at the vet’s. She’s been bloating up for the past few days, off her feed (unless she gets wet food) and passing poo that I will not describe, out of respect for all of our stomachs. I should get a call in the afternoon, after they’ve done a bit more bloodwork. Am hoping that they don’t have to take her to their big clinic in Kona for ultrasound, etc.

So back to work, if only to keep from brooding about this.


Doggie update: Cricket comes home tomorrow. The ultrasound was inconclusive, which is bad because we don’t have an answer, and good because it didn’t reveal a Vile Condition. Her protein levels are back in the basement and no one knows why. Nor do we know what causes the accumulation of clear fluid in her belly. Her GI tract is pretty irritated.

So we’re trying a high-protein low-fat diet, antibiotics for the GI tract, and a steroid, with luck short-term, to see if she responds well. The steroid will cause her to drink more water than normal and pee it right back out again, so my continued efforts to housebreak her will be … interesting.

Abby misses her almost as much as I do. The cats, not so much. They’re cats.


Cricket is home, happy to be here, and pretty strange-looking. They extracted about a cup of liquid from her belly, but some of it slipped out subcutaneously so now she looks like a very miniature cow with a lop-sided udder. The liquid should be reabsorbed with time. She is also a patchwork of shaved places. But she’s happy to be home and we’re happy to have her (except for CJ, who has been sleeping during the day with Abby and with me during the night. CJ took one look and departed. I’m hoping she’ll be back).

Prednisone and two types of antibiotics, and special food. Current guess is that she ate something while she was out on the lava that played merry hell with her GI tract. Depending on how she reacts to treatment, she may be on a small dose of prednisone for life, but apparently the staff was hiding her meds in little dogfood meatballs and she gulped them on down, so dosing her won’t entail any drama.

She clocks in at 6lb 2oz, and should gain a bit more as her innards settle down.

She spent an hour sleeping in my lap and when she woke, she left a wet spot on my jeans. Not pee, more of that clear liquid they suctioned out of her belly. So I rushed her down to the vet (and, of course, Abby had to come because if Cricket gets to ride in the car, then Abby insists on riding in the car). Turns out it was not an incision leaking, it was more of the clear belly liquid coming out through her skin. Very odd, but I saw the vet gently pinch a section of her belly, and it got wet. Who knew? All is well.


Doggie update. Cricket continues to improve. Her subcutaneous spill is much reduced and I feel confident enough to have started the crate training.

One odd side-effect of all this trauma is that she is shedding little flakes of skin. I suspect that after the belly stretching and reduction, she is getting rid of unwanted skin. I’m hoping she can teach this trick to me.


Doggie update: 6 lb 9 oz, a 7 oz gain from last week. For someone Cricket’s size, this is considerable. Her skin is still flaking a little, from the bloating they said, but it seems to respond well to brushing and she adores the attention. I’ll take her in on Saturday to have her nails clipped, since they are black and I can’t even guess at where the veins are.

. In the mornings Jack joins us for breakfast. He looms over Cricket, but she ignores him. When she doesn’t ignore him, he gives her that Superior Cat look and she backs off. May I say that I love this? I do.


Doggie update. It’s hard to get a photo of her when she’s not cuddled up tight or being used as Abbyfrom Galaxy6 605‘s headrest, but here she is. Her eyes are bright and clear, her skin is tightening and clearing, and she feels solid and strong under my hand.

Master Jack is not perturbed by dogs, especially dogs weighing less than he does, so they have arrived at an entente cordiale — she doesn’t make any moves toward his food, and he ignores hers. The other two haven’t yet learned that the best way to handle her is with threats, so they tend to fly and she tends to chase them. We’re working on that.



In answer to questions about how Jack is taking all of this: he and Cricket conspire together in the evenings to keep me in my chair. Abby lies on the couch across the room and looks at us as though we are nuts.


Doggie update: I think I told y’all that the Humane Society agreed to pay to have Cricket spayed, since I first fostered and then adopted her. The Society sends in a group of vets and nurses and they do wholesale neutering and spaying one day a month. I made the appointment through our local vet.

Dr. Aaron saw Cricket’s name on the list and pulled her from it, because he’s not yet convinced that she’s strong enough yet. He had blood tests done and, sure enough, her protein levels have hit the bottom again — the reason that she looks tubby in recent photos. So starting tomorrow, she’s back on prednisone, perhaps long-term.

And that’s why I love Ali’i Veterinary Hospital.

from Galaxy6 646



The SSA joins the fun


So, up until the 18th century there was a peculiarly evil way of putting criminals to death called “pressing.”  (In the U.S. it was used on one man during the Salem Witch Trials.) The victim was laid flat on the ground while greater and greater weights (usually stones) were placed on him or her, until the victim either came up with the required information, or died. The required information was usually a plea of guilty or not guilty in a legal proceeding; the value of not pleading was that one’s estate did not thereby escheat to the government and was preserved for one’s heirs. None of this is relevant, really, except for the stones part.

Y’all will recall that I was diagnosed with cancer in early May and began treatment in early June. In late June, just as the first round of chemo side-effects were kicking in, I received a letter from Social Security telling me that they had overpaid me, and demanding the tidy sum of $15,507.58 or they would cut off my benefits. This stemmed from the fact that, after Chris dumped me in November of 2012, I kept working to meet our bills, and continued working part-time once I moved to Hawai’i until my replacement came on board. (I had already applied for my benefit because we were planning, then, for my retirement in January of 2013.) I called Social Security to tell them I was still working, and they said they would notice that in the next quarterly report from my job, and adjust things then. The next quarter came and went and I called them again, and was told the same thing. So in the emotional and physical upheaval of leaving my job, moving here, dealing with a broken heart, etc., I put it aside. Until this June.

I wrote back, asking them to put a hold on everything until at least August, and enclosing a couple of my oncology summaries from Kaiser. Silence, until August 1 when they stopped my benefit entirely. So here’s the thing: Social Security is my only form of income. There is no other. I stopped telecommuting in June when I started treatment, and since that job was hourly, no money came in from that. I also stopped teaching, because chemo-brain left me too stupid to do that. So, without my benefit, I default on the mortgage and take up residence in a local lava tube, and learn to like the taste of grubs.

Nope. No way. No how. Uh-uh. Out of the question. Fuck, no. I downloaded and filled out the Request for Waiver forms, amassed an armada of documentation, and sailed off this morning to do battle with Social Security. For this I had to drive to Hilo (2 hours) and take a number and wait. They do not offer appointments. They don’t even have a local telephone number.

My number came up, I hauled out my armada and started outlining the whole sad story to the clerk, and naturally enough started leaking because one of chemo’s less charming side-effects is getting weepy regardless. The clerk gave me a box of tissues and pounded on her computer.

I need to interrupt here to say that the bureaucrats I have dealt with on this island have been, without exception, friendly and helpful, going out of their way to extend aid and comfort, and help steer me through the mazes. I don’t know if this is the aloha spirit, or the result of my approaching problems in a spirit of cooperation, but there you have it. Not just me, either — the folk in line ahead of me were also treated with helpful courtesy.

So, she interrupts me and says, You know what? It’s our fault. Apparently the woman on the phone in Santa Rosa was right: it’s up to Social Security to pick up on such things in the quarterly filings, and they didn’t. Twice. So she said she was accepting the filing of my Request for a Waiver, and in the meantime was restoring my benefit, and I should drive carefully because there’s a lot of hurricane damage out there.

I left the office in a daze, sat in my trusty car for a while, then took the lady’s advice and drove carefully home, while heavy stones were lifted off my chest. I stopped at Black Sands Beach to say thanks to Mme. Pele (I’m still an atheist, but I’m a polite one) and to commune with a honu basking on sands hot enough to blister my feet.


I’m not sure there’s a moral to this story, except maybe to treat anything Social Security tells you with a great deal of suspicion, and double-check it if there is any way that you can. And if you must deal with them, try to do it in Hilo, where they treat you like a human being. Mahalo nui loa.

I am ported, but not in the good Science Fiction way.


Long, tough day. Peg showed up at 4:00am and we arrived at KOA in good time for the 6:15 flight to Honolulu, then into the jam-packed shuttle for the trip to the hospital. We arrived much earlier than the 8:30 check-in time but they processed me quickly and pushed forward the surgery time. I did ask the surgeon if I could have a big, flashy, sexy Iron Man-type port and he said he’d look around for one.

I had been told that the anesthetic they planned to use was the same as the one they use for colonoscopies, but it wasn’t, quite. I didn’t feel any pain whatsoever, but I think I was conscious the entire time. To administer the anesthetics, they insert an IV into the back of my hand and tape it down.

The port itself is a triangular plastic thing, about the size of a quarter and maybe a scant 1/4″ thick, with a flexible tube, the catheter, coming out one side of it.

First they locate an artery in the neck via sonogram, then scrub me up and poke through into the artery, and run a wire down that to the top of the heart. In addition to acting as a guide, this also allows them to measure the distance between the port location and the heart. Next, they pick a spot on the chest and open that up, insert the port and insert the catheter so that it runs up to the incision in the neck, then down until it, too, is just above the heart. When they are happy with all this, they stitch me up, then glue me up, then apply gauze to the two incision sites, then tape me using what is suspiciously like clear plastic package sealing tape. The incision sites themselves don’t hurt (or at least not yet) but the tape pulls and itches, and once all the sedation wears off, I don’t like it at all.

After an interminable amount of time in recovery, we start the next part of the adventure: the CT scan. For this I drink two bottles of a sweet, fruity-tasting liquid. Since I haven’t had anything to eat or drink since dinner the night before, I am delighted to chug this stuff. Then a cool contrast dye is injected via the IV in my hand. As it takes effect, it makes my torso feel warm, particularly around the crotch, but I am assured that this does not mean I am leaking onto their equipment. Being in the CT device is kinda science-fictional: the narrow table scoots you into the big white doughnut, then things whiz around inside of it and I am told to breath, hold it, release a number of times.

Then out, back to recovery, allowed to dress, and finally plopped into a wheelchair and off to sister Peg, then into the cab, then via wheelchair through security and to the gate, where Peg got us onto a flight two hours earlier than our scheduled one, and then home and to bed.

The misadventure of the little not-so-white dog



Knowing that I was sad at losing the Big White Dog, Judy at Ali’i vet suggested I might want to take on a puppy, so Peg and Burny and I went down the look. Sweetest little thing you ever saw, wriggling with delight to meet us, and just crawling with fleas. The runt of the litter. So despite my common sense, how could I resist?

My aunt Ruth and uncle Floyd kept a series of chihuahuas, and while this one was by no means a pure-bred it was certainly a member of the clubs. Ruth’s and Floyd’s chihuahuas specialized on stealth ankle attacks and, if you evaded those, they used the needles they kept in place of teeth to attach themselves to your pants and get dragged around the house, muttering hateful threats and imprecations. And each one was as big around as a bologna. A big balogna.big bologna

I brought her home and de-fleaed her, and cuddled her, and she made much of me, and we had a fine old time together Maisie 4-14-13 #2 until a few days went by and she started to chew her way through what remains of my wardrobe, through my shoes, through furniture (I still have teethmarks on my computer desk) and, eventually, my patience. We found a home for her with a pack of chihuahuas, who welcomed her with glad little yips. And I went back to missing my cat Jack.

The Adventure Begins

Hi! I’m Marta Randall, a writer, teacher, and paralegal, moving to the Big Island of Hawaii in mid-February. I’m making this move alone, which is not quite what had been planned but adventures are like that, or they wouldn’t be adventures, would they?

I have heard Ocean View,  where I’ll be living, compared to the Wild West: a drive through its rigorously straight streets reinforces the image. Not the streets per se, but the fact that people are living on these one-acre lots in everything from impressive mansions with manicured grounds, to collections of decrepit school buses and lava tubes. Most of Ocean View is laid out over lava flows from the 1907 eruption, but the island is inexorably moving away from the hot spot that created the entire chain and so I rest in the (probably deluded) conviction that the eruptions will continue east and north of me, and I will not have to tuck the dog under one arm and the cat under the other, and hot-foot it down to the Belt Road.

I have some family nearby (my tremendous sister and her stalwart partner) and am looking forward to the rest of my life with  considerable eagerness. Come share the adventure as I learn how to garden on rock, fix my own catchment tank and septic system, and figure out how to make the lights outside the garage work. At the very least we should have a tremendously funny time.