Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Keep on Growing

Remember Derek and the Dominos? Delaney & Bonnie and friends? Bobby Whitlock was a major force in those bands, and wrote/co-wrote a good number of the songs on the Layla album (also very notable is having played on George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass"). He and wife CoCo Carmel have been living in Austin for a number of years now, and have a regular gig at the Saxon Pub. It is amazing to hear those songs performed live by the songwriter.
Like all aging rockers, Bobby's got stories, and he sure loves to tell them. He's got an autobiography coming out in a month or so*, and I'm looking forward to reading it. He will tell a few stories during the gigs too! He seems to be waxing a bit spiritual (using the "g" word, as CoCo put it), but it seems more like a "We Are All One" Lovefest than a "Born Twice Xian" type of thing, and I think it's worth plowing through some of that to hear a fun tidbit or two on the making of Layla. Besides, it was God's band. ;-)

Storytelling: Watch out for the saunas!

And the song being introduced above, "Keep on Growing"

*From his website: "October 16 2010 Bobby and CoCo will be performing at The State Capital from 2-3 p.m., Bobby will be doing his first book signing." That will have to be the Texas Book Festival and they will be performing on the Capitol steps. Sounds good!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Shearwater @ KUT

With the crazy and sad week we just had, I put off posting on the Shearwater KUT radio benefit show that was held at the Austin City Limits studios. It was nice to see the band at a seated show with great sound. One of our videos is below. The song is called Black Eyes.

More videos of this show are on my channel. Here are some nice photos of the gig (not mine, these are good!)

And for all you folks who still that Austin City Limits is recorded outdoors, here is that tree that they shoot through from the upper left audience view.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Jax - In Memoriam

What happened:
We've been treating Jax for itchy lesions for years. The best option for him was a depo-medrol (steroid) shot approximately every 5 weeks (he could not be pilled). Some of those weeks would be spent in bandages and/or an e-collar. We'd wait on the shot until there was high risk of infection, because the shot brought a risk of diabetes. We decided to try an experimental protocol that showed promise, where a couple of shots would be given 3 weeks apart even though there were no symptoms. Apparently sometimes the virus causing the lesions is killed this way. Sometimes you gamble and lose. That's what happened.

Jax probably got diabetes after the first 3 week shot. Because of that the second one hit his system like a sledge hammer. That was on the 15th.

To make a long story short[er], we were unable to stabilize his numbers and after weighing his future options, decided on the "hard decision" today (the 23rd), and it was done out of love and desperation.

His story
The first day we moved into this house, he was right there on top of the neighbor's shed, checking us out to see if we were friendlies. There were lots and lots of cats in the neighborhood then, and they came around us because they got our number as cat-people right away, also we fed birds and had birdbaths. He looked particularly distressed with some bald patches and scabs. People would run him off because they thought he had mange. I looked up mange and decided he didn't have it, so it was perfectly fine to apply belly rubs. He was always showing up with injuries... bites, scratches, gouges. We'd clean up the spots and apply Neosporin. It was better than doing nothing. We named him Samson because we decided that if all his hair grew back, it would mean he was mended and strong.

When we had freeze nights and would see him still outside and unsheltered, we started letting him in the garage. His first night in that garage, he purred. It was amazing. We had never heard him purr before and were wondering if maybe he didn't do that, but here was the big prrrrrrrr. Every night, he's listen for our cars and the opening of the garage door - and here he would come running down the street as fast as he could - no matter what time of night it was.

We decided to take the next step with him, so we took him to the vet a couple times for checkups, repair, vaccination, and a collar with his new rabies tag. Not 100% in the fold yet, but it was a sign to the neighborhood that this cat had at least one voucher. The next time we saw him, our collar was gone, and in its place was a different collar with a note that said "THIS IS OUR CAT JACKS" and a phone number.

We felt crushed. MrB called the number and I listened quietly on the other line, I was way too mad at whoever it was who thought they were giving this cat proper care to speak in a civil tone. The woman thanked us for vaccinating him. She also mentioned that sometimes they didn't even see him for a few weeks at a time. That would explain why he was never fed properly, and was out in all kinds of weather and seeking shelter in the storm sewer with every other kind of critter imaginable, and walking around with untreated, bloody injuries. His human family also had several rowdy little kids, a couple of new kittens, a great big hyperactive black lab, and a sign in the yard that said "Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman." I decided that anytime Samson/Jacks came around needing shelter or food or a vet or belly rubs or anything, that I was going to provide. Dammit.

When it got too hot for him to stay in the garage at night, we turned him into an indoor cat. He had been destroying at least one bird a day, plus being the King of the Lizard Killers, so those were all good justifications to take him off the streets. It was in everybody's best interest. Besides, he was terrified of dogs (black labs included), fireworks, and sure did enjoy not being out in the rain. He was unfamiliar with a litter box so we had to train him (and this was a 7 year old cat!). If they came knocking on the door looking for him, I was prepared to be his champion and show paid receipts to the judge if need be... but that didn't happen. No calls, no knocks, no signs posted pleading for the return of a missing black cat. We already had 3 indoor cats, but we loved him and made him welcome. We dropped the "Samson" (even though I still think it was a better name) and changed the spelling of his name to "Jax."

Life with Jax
What a personality he had! He kept his belly licked bare of hair, and loved to lay on his back and relax. We think he was proud of it.

He especially loved his daddy, always preferring him to me.

The itchy spots flared more and more through the years, and it got to where he needed to be in an e-collar a lot, but of course the collar only frustrated him, it didn't make his skin feel any better. We tried ointments, bitter apple, bandages, even took him to a vet dermatologist who did allergy testing on him (same way humans are tested - and the poor thing was allergic to just about everything!!) and had a year and half of allergy serum shots in him - but it made no difference.

We even tried baby clothes to make it hard to reach the itchy spots, which was very cute and funny but not very effective.

The depo shots were the only thing that gave relief, he'd feel good for about 3 weeks and then the collars and so forth had to kick in to help him make it to the next shot without blood or infections. He hated wearing that e-collar, especially turned forward it disoriented and depressed him. That's an angry tail. He tolerated wearing it turned down like a cape - very Puss-in-Boots, but despised wearing it properly.

We always had to worry about diabetes, as Jax was a heavy cat, and big-boned boy with a great big beautiful belly. He also had a very distinctive look that reminded us of a panther: really big teeth, the biggest that the vets had seen, and a strong chin like a wildcat. A panther with a big hairless belly who liked the TV screen...



and sitting on the screened porch watching those dirty birds splash around in the birdbaths -- all of us glad for the safety of there being a screened barrier.

Lots more pics of this marvelous and amazing character of a cat in Jax's archive here at the Oasis. Keep clicking through "Older posts."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Caregiver fatigue is setting in

Another cat post... that's because it's consuming our lives right now. Jax was feeling poorly after his last shot of depo-medrol (a steroid that relieves the itchy lesions that break out on him without it), and now has been diagnosed with diabetes. Getting this news was like a punch to the stomach. We knew that we were putting him at risk, and were always relieved when his tests came back negative, but the risks were there each time and his number finally came up.

Jax is an extremely difficult-to-pill cat. That means it isn't impossible, but it takes a vet or vet tech (and maybe both) to do it, and neither of us is a vet or tech. If oral meds had been an option for him (as they fortunately are for Henry) we would never have had to go the route of shots, which are much riskier. That was just the situation - his treatment gave him a new disease. We couldn't let his eosinophilic granuloma go untreated because, not only did it bring him itchy misery, it also brought infections (when he'd gnaw and scratch through his skin to bring blood) and required a daily bandage. Ever try to bandage a strong and feisty cat's hind leg? Hard to do well, and many times had to be re-done.

There’s a lot of guilt, or at least guilty feelings, remorse, wondering how we could have done things differently… and it’s true… if only we’d given him a blood test each time he got an injection maybe we could have avoided this. But bloodwork is not cheap and I think we just preferred to cross our fingers and hoped. I know, this is rationalization, and there is blame but where does it belong? And should it even matter now? We have a situation, and that’s the only thing that matters now. Here I am feeling gloomy over what we’ve done and what we are about to go through physically, emotionally, and financially - when this poor kitty is the one with the problem. Gloom, guilt, remorse, anxiety. Guilt because I'm feeling sorry for myself. Anxiety not only over what’s already happened, but whether we will end up being the ones to accidentally give him a lethal dosing, or whether the disease will cause more misery than anyone should endure, and at the very best we will have extra daily nursing rituals to add to the quite a few we already have.

7 years ago we saved his life (he is now 14). We most certainly did, without a doubt. There's no question. We have done everything possible to keep him happy and healthy. We took in an alley cat and proceeded to pamper. We never meant to harm him in any way. But now there is no relief in sight for any of us.
The poor kitty has been hospitalized since Tuesday afternoon. It's now Wednesday night and he is home, but will have to have another day admission on Friday and another one next Wednesday. I just don't know yet what to expect from this.

One of the main things on my mind is Duncan and his last months. One day I thought he was choking on something and got him to the vet ASAP. They saved him that day from what turned out to be congestive heart failure instead. We had no idea. We also learned that he was also in kidney failure, and because of that we couldn't properly treat either condition because one needs hydration and the other needs drying out. He ended up on lots of daily meds... lasix... nitroglycerin... cypro... and when the breathing troubles started we had to either get the regular vet to stick a long needle in to draw fluids away from his lungs, or else the cardiologist would have to do a similar procedure on his heart. We were trying to keep him comfortable, but he really had no chance. It was a matter of time and we knew it. I couldn't bear the thought of euthanasia because after his procedures he would be back to his regular cute little fun self. Then one day I was taking him to the cardiologist for one of those "long needle" procedures when he panicked in the car and died from the same awful heart failure that he had been saved from 6 months earlier. I know that we ended up spending more time with him, but I have to wonder if we did right by him. We helped him live a little longer, but did we really help him?

I am ranting right now, because I am at wit's end. Agitated and anxious. We all need to just wait and see what happens with Jax. Over the past 4 years we've dealt with [cat] kidney failure, heart failure, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, asthma, blindness, eosinophils, urinary tract blockage, euthanasia, prozac, cortisone, depomedrol, prednisone, pepcid, buprenorphin, cyproheptadine, all the prescription diets you can think of, the fact that Walgreen's always seems to suck, raw food, needles, pills pills pills, sub-q hydration, allergy testing and shots... and now it's diabetes.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Creature comforts

We make sure there are fluffy beds and nice clean cushy blankies for the kitties, but, as it turns out, the underneath of an old box spring will do fine (as Jax demonstrates here).

Alex loved to get on his back underneath the bed, and drag himself around by pulling on this fibery stuff tacked to the bottom of the box spring. He loved to pull himself to the edge where his head would be sticking out looking at us with a great big teethy grin. There's the hole he left in it. I think he actually got up inside it once. That was one crazy cat. The old mattress set is gone, as of Saturday, and Alex has been gone since July 15, 2007 - almost exactly 3 years. That was also a Sunday when we had to make "the hard decision" as it's called. We'll never forget him.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I am turning on comment moderation, for awhile anyway. Every post I've put up lately receives comments in oriental characters (Chinese? probably) bearing links that you shouldn't even think of clicking... especially using Windows. Spyware, malware, viruses, trojan horses, evil evil evil.

[edit July 20] Bah. Turning off moderation. I'll just whack the SPAM as needed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Midnight at the Oasis

While making the new blog topper, which contains both the word "Oasis" and a camel, I was completely overwhelmed by "song stuck in the head" syndrome. Yes, that's right... midnight at the oasis, send your camel to bed... I used to really like this song back when Maria Muldaur came out with it, but since then it's played uncounted millions of times, including probably being a favorite choice of your grocery store muzak. It's also been a popular song to cover, and I dug up a few really entertaining and/or wacky results.

My very favorite!! From Waiting for Guffman

Here's Toni Tennille, now appearing at The Oasis Lounge.

This is just a woman with a guitar who makes singing videos filmed at her house. This one is by the shower curtain.

The inside of your head probably sounds like mine right now.
Sorry... or You're Welcome... whichever you prefer. ;-)

Xmas, early start

Seen on July 13, and obviously it's not the first day the sign has been up considering all the empty shelves and rows of boxes in the area.

Yes, it's Garden Ridge, where I bought a mattress pad and a giant catfish-shaped pillow (which was irresistible at half price)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


This weekend was mostly spent getting household stuff done along with cleaning, shopping, and MrB doing yard work. Decided to take the plunge and replace our 13 year old mattress. It seemed OK to us, but I think all the mattress commercials we see have finally gotten to us - it was not so much the mentions of the dust mites but it was the dust mite feces grossout ads that gave us the willies and made us go shopping.

Also finally took down the last of 3 cat-ruined miniblinds in the bedroom and replaced it with another old-fashioned room-darkening vinyl shade (with sheers in front). I'll tell you what, those things have made a noticeable difference in reducing the heat levels in our poor unfortunate upstairs westward-facing windows.

You gotta either beat the heat, or embrace it. Here are some July scenes from this Central Texas backyard. I love love love the crape myrtle blossoms that are filling up the paths right now. Beauties.

This guy was flitting around everywhere. I don't know if he/she is alone. Best I can tell, it's a blue mud-dauber wasp (this one seems to be living in the ground in the garden path) of the type that likes to hunt spiders. Go for it girlfriend! What a beauty. I will give her a wide berth though, and plenty of room to stretch out.
This is a spiny fence lizard, the lizards are getting bigger around here now that there are fewer neighborhood cats.
And here's the sunflower harvester. Even after that many sunflowers are removed, it hardly makes a dent in them. I feel itchy just looking at him.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Are you ready to (Celtic) Rock?

We've been amusing ourselves with videos and trying to get through obligatory daily grind (even on weekends), but yesterday we managed to get out of the house in spite of the fact that it was a Wednesday night - smack dab in the middle of the week. Went to see the Celtic rock band from Dallas, The Killdares. Highlights were fiddler Roberta Rast and piper Matt Willis. Celtic sound, but not that traditional. It was a free show at Scholz Garten, where we had the convenience of a picnic table with a good view, table service, not too crowded and a good vibe. I guess the big draw of the night was across town at Zilker Park where Alejandro Escovedo was putting on a free show for a few thousand folks. We love Alejandro, but have seen him quite a few times, but wanted to see The Killdares for the first time instead.

Here they are during SXSW in Austin at Jovitas:

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Mother Nature - MILF of the day


Reminds me of me at my first Led Zeppelin concert...
ha ha...

OK, I don't think I was quite this bad.

Pics from the July 4th veggie dog event

[LINK to Austin360 gallery]
I am always relieved when my picture ends up NOT being in these things. Ha!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Happy weekend, no matter where you are

I was really glad to see this weekend get here. I was under the deadline gun on the day job for the whole month of June, then, as always happens, the stack of work required the finish the projects piled itself a lot higher *right* before the deadline. There was overtime...

I wasn't given a holiday for Independence Day because it fell on a Sunday (grrr), but I pulled a vacation day on Monday to make up for it. Wishing a happy 4th to everyday (and belated Canada Day) (and how does one celebrate Canada Day?).

Changing circumstances mean that the 4th of July is just not the great time that it used to be for us. First of all, the patriotic stuff is more of a turn-off now due the ugly political climate that's been developing with the teabaggers, neocons, Bachmann, Palin, Angle {Gaaaaa!! Run away! Run away!!) I love this country, and we put a USA flag out there on the house every day, along with the "American For Peace" sign, but I don't like a lot of things that are done around the world in our name. My Country Right or Wrong is a highly dangerous philosophy.

The other bit is the fireworks. People in this neighborhood go hog wild with the firecrackers/fireworks - and there's no ending time for them. It's an all-nighter. The cats are pretty stressed out by them, especially Jax, our black cat who spent his first 7 years in the streets and (I'm sure) has very good reason to be afraid of fireworks. We have gone out locally for fireworks a few times, and I hate to say this (I really do) but this town just doesn't do as good a fireworks show as St. Louis. We have been disappointed and finally lost interest in attending them (and the ones at Lake Travis - same deal - as far as we're concerned, not worth the hassle unless you have a comfy location with a good view).

This year it's tempting to go down to New Braunfels to see Ryan Bingham ("The Weary Kind" from "Crazy Heart") with the Band of Heathens opening (on the 4th) - but that's a high stress event: standing, heat, humidity, and drive time followed by all night crying cats. We will probably stay home and play cat-nurse instead. During the day I'd like to go down to The Tiniest Bar in Texas (which may have actually been the tiniest bar in Texas at one time, but certainly isn't now) to grab a Veggie Dog at the Veggie Hot Dog Eating Contest put on by I Love Mike Litt. Yes, we have a community activist named Mike Litt!

On Monday the 5th I want to go and see David Garza playing free at the Cactus Cafe. He's been playing there free every Monday lately, and the Cactus is soon to be transformed into who-knows-what with new management, so we've only got until August to enjoy the glory days.

I will leave you with the awesome Jake Shimabukuro on ukulele backed by steel pans. Live from Wrigley Field:

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Just buy me some lottery tickets

PLEASE READ AND STAY BLESSED, (I donated $3, 500, 000.00 USD to you).



My name is Mrs .Maria Carlson.I am a dying woman and I have decided to will myfortune ($3,500,000.00) to you for your personal and charitable goals.I am 59 years old and was diagnosed of cancer about 2 years ago, Kindly Contact my lawyer through this email address ( ) if you are interested in carrying out this task. My lawyer's name is Barrister Edmund Higgins.

I know I have never met you but instincts tells me to do this,and I hope you act sincerely.


Maria Carlson.

My instincts tells me I'd be better off with three and a half million ducks.