The Writing

08 July, 2015

this is where my heart lives

So it rained most of the day. This was okay. The yellow orb of death is particularly pernicious at altitude, and there is not enough sunscreen in the world for me.

We got up stupid-early, though, to make it to the summit before the rains and predicted storms, because no one wants to be at 12000 feet in lightning.

This was the view about, oh, 8-9000 feet up. The forests are mostly spruce, some pine, some aspen. They're super dense, long skinny trunks close together, a canopy of needles, a carpet of little spruce all trying to grow up. The higher you get, the smaller the trees become, both in height and in the slenderness of their limbs. By 10,000 feet, the branches are like fingers.

Fog rolled over our position about two minutes after we took that shot.

Then we climbed into the clouds, quite literally. At treeline, we passed into a fog that rivals anything I've seen come off the Pacific. The temperatures kept dropping, too. We were in the low 40s by the time we cleared the fog and got mostly above it.

At the summit, or damn near (which is 12000 feet, the last 1000 or so of  which one must hike on foot), we had moments of snow. It didn't flake, exactly, and it didn't stick, but it blew around my face and it made me happy. It's my first snowfall in almost ten years.

This is a view from the summit, between passing clouds. The snow is leftover glacier. There were elk munching tundra grass nearby. (Nous got photos; he has a better camera, and more patience with taking pictures.) I just stood there and breathed the cold wind and soaked up as much of this place as I could.

This is where my heart lives.

07 July, 2015


I am sitting here in a little cabin in Estes Park, listening to the rain fall. It has been so long since I've heard rain in a chimney. Or smelled wet evergreens. Or been in Acts of God storms in the mountains. I have done all of those things in the past two days.

Tomorrow, I get to go hiking and spend a little time in the tundra above treeline, which is my favorite place in the whole world (at least until I see Iceland, at which point I may have to re-evaluate). We may get very wet. That is okay. We have a fireplace in the cabin. We may also see wildlife, which is great! Except bears. I don't need to see a bear up close, please and thank you.

It's a cold, wet July, which is also awesome. While I confess I'd like to see my beloved Flatirons as I drive through Boulder, I am happier with the temps hovering in the 60s than up in the 90s. I can layer. Life is good.

As long as we get to the top of Trail Ridge before the AoG storms start up again, because we don't mess with alpine lightning.

The Eddas tell the story of the j├Âtun Thjazi,  who was killed in one of Loki's shenanigans gone bad. His daughter, Ska∂i, a creature of snow, mountains, and cold, comes looking for vengeance. She is offered a husband as compensation for her father's death from among the Aesir and the Vanir. She wants to pick the man with the best looking feet. (Do we believe that? Feet? I think it's a euphemism.) She chooses Njord, who makes his home by the sea. Ska∂i  is of course from the mountains. The marriage has some issues, because the couple cannot decide where to live. Ska∂i dislikes the sea and the crying gulls. Njord, on the other hand, cannot stand the cold winds and the howling of wolves.

I came to the sea for Nous (who came for grad school). It had nothing to do with feet or compensation or bloodfeud (though grad school does share some other elements in common with Icelandic sagas). But I have not made friends with the gulls or the ocean. The air is too thick. The winds are too tame. And there is no tundra anywhere.

Screw Njord. Bring on the wolves and the winds and the snow.

25 June, 2015


We've called Louhi "Toothless" ever since How to Train Your Dragon came out.

We did not expect that nickname to be prophetic.

She has lousy teeth. We always end up with one cat who does. The teeth themselves are fine, but the gums get all plaque-y inflamed. Pooka, as he got older (like, 9 and up) had to have yearly cleanings. Louhi's only seven, but we put her on a yearly cleaning schedule last year.

So fast forward to the vet calling and asking us to come in and 'talk about some options.' That's never good. We knew her bloodwork was fine, so we weren't thinking omg, she will die! or anything. And indeed, she will not die. But she does have relatively severe feline stomatitis. This is a fancy way of saying her gums and the rest of the mouth membranes are inflamed.

The vet was surprised. Most cats stop eating when it looks like her mouth does. She, of course, did not stop eating. (That's really our metric for cat health. If the cat eats, s/he's fine. If s/he doesn't, go to the vet ASAP.) And since she's all of 7.5 lbs, the eating is important. Neither of our cats now carry much body-fat insurance against major illness.

It's an immune response, stomatitis, but in cats, they aren't quite sure why or when or how. She doesn't have a compromised immune system (like leukemia or FHIV). She has no apparent food allergies. And our vet was not all about 'stop her food now! let's do something else now!' He's pretty cautious and conservative with treatments. Always do the smallest thing first. Wait and see. Nothing drastic unless it's obvious that's what we need.

Which is good, because the treatment for stomatitis in cats is... well, there's steroids, which we will try first, but in severe cases (and the vet's on the fence about whether her case qualifies, since it's not the whole mouth affected), they remove the teeth. All the teeth. The vet thought maybe he could leave her a couple incisors and her lower fangs, because those parts of the mouth aren't mad yet. She's already down two. They sent them home with us in a little test tube.

On the one hand, steroids would be preferable to major mouth surgery. On the other, once the teeth are out, it's done. No more dental stuff. No more stomatitis, ever. We'll have to see which way she goes. She's a rescue, like Idris; her whole litter was bottle-raised from birth, but she was the runt. As in, our vet (who happened to be the vet who dealt with her litter, since he's one of the vets who works with the shelter) didn't think she'd make it. The foster mom insisted she would, and here she is. Does that mean she has issues that will manifest and kill her? I don't know. She's tiny. She's always been tiny. She was a PITA eater until we put her on a raw diet, but she's never been sickly or frail. So we'll see.

This has been one hella year for vet bills.