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Changes to Patreon reward tiers and stretch goals have been completed. The most exciting change includes the following: Patrons pledging $5 and above will be granted the right to vote in different situations that will directly influence things I make and how I make them, or what supplies I buy using the money you all have invested in me. Should I buy this glaze or that glaze? Should I use this stone or that stone? What creature do I sculpt next? You decide! ============================================= I changed the stretch goals to give more clear direction. The original goals I used and their amounts were somewhat vague and spaced out since I wasn't sure how to best approach it when I first joined Patreon. I hope this is a better format. Suggestions are welcome. $25 ( We are ALMOST here!! $19 out of $25!! ) This amount allows me to continue purchasing basic creative supplies monthly to experiment with. It could be spent to buy several lower cost items or one higher cost item. Examples include but are not limited to: jewelry supplies, painting mediums, several small bottles of ceramics glaze, a larger bottle of ceramics glaze, a box of ceramics clay, ceramics tools You get to help me choose what to invest in if you pledge $5 or more. Once we reach this goal, I will raffle off an art original equal to $25. ALL pledge tiers will be eligible to win (as low as $1 pledge ) ! Winner will pay shipping for raffle item. $50 The higher the pledge amount coming in, the more supplies I can get and the faster I can get them. This goal amount will allow me to invest in supplies as mentioned above to offer a wider variety. It would allow me to branch out into materials and supplies that are more expensive, such as special carved gemstones, silver, raku supplies, and more. You get to help me choose what to invest in if you pledge $5 or more. Once we reach this goal, I will raffle off an art original equal to $50. ALL pledge tiers will be eligible to win (as low as $1 pledge ) ! Winner will pay shipping for raffle item. $75 Meeting this goal would allow me to greatly expand on my production. The main thing that keeps me from jumping into certain projects is lack of disposable income to acquire all the supplies I might need for a project. If I only have $30 to spend per month, but the total cost for supplies for a project is $60, it could take two months just to get everything I need. It might take longer if I have to split the amount between multiple projects. The more you can pledge, the more I can create and give back. You get to help me choose what to invest in if you pledge $5 or more. Once we reach this goal, I will raffle off an art original equal to $75. ALL pledge tiers will be eligible to win (as low as $1 pledge ) ! Winner will pay shipping for raffle item. ============================================= ============================================= Thanks for your support!
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Live art stream starting soon! 8pm CST. - http://livestream.com/leopardwolf
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My health and the technology gods permitting, I will be art streaming this Friday Nov 4th around 8pm CST. Hope to see you there! http://original.livestream.com/leopardwolf
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I plan to make changes to patron reward tiers soon. Anyone who has pledged and donated toward my art and creative efforts *before* the date of the change, will be grandfathered in to still be eligible for the *old* reward system after the changes are made, based on pledge amount. The changes will take place Monday, November 7th. When I start producing work in pure copper, bronze, silver, gold, and using dichroic and higher grade gemstones, people will wish they took advantage of the offer when it was available. I will also be changing the stretch goals now that I have a better idea of how they work. When I first started using Patreon I really didn't have a clue what to do with them. Now I do. I will post more information and reminders in preparation for the changes. Thank you all for your awesomeness and continued support!
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TLDR: Chakotay's service training had more setbacks. Questioning how much longer to keep trying to make him something he simply might not be. ---------- I met mom in Slidell yesterday to go shopping for some new clothing, since all mine are about to fall apart. Decided to try taking both Ember and Chakotay with us. Chakotay was...... ehh. He was still way too weary even with Ember around and he was leery of different people, especially if they got too close. Some store clerks were moving a clothing rack and he saw it from some 300ft away and suddenly put on the breaks, causing me and Ember to whiplash into him. When I realized what had him concerned, I walked him to it and asked the guys if they would roll it toward us and I went over and pet it to show him it was okay. He tolerated it ( he didn't have a choice since he was on leash ) but he was not comfortable with it. Ember on the other hand was all happy wiggly and wanted to nudge the rack when I pet it, as a target behavior. She did that because she was hoping I would let her say hello to the two clerks as a reward. Chakotay's body language for the few hours we were out just said he was not enjoying any of it. We stopped for food and Chakotay didn't want to stay settled under the table, even though there was plenty of room for both him and Ember. He would lay down and then sit back up a few moments later, much like the restlessness during store training exercises at Petsmart and Petco. The longer we are out, I have noticed he will get more restless and nudge me to let me know he is uncomfortable and wants to leave. He did this in the department store even with Ember present. Any time we moved back in the direction of the store entrance he wanted to pull to hurry us on our way faster, same as he does in the pet friendly stores when he has had enough. Mom saw some of it, but I don't think she understood what she was seeing ( she knows some stuff she learned from me, but doesn't know how to read a dog as well ) or really realized how bad it was till we were close to getting ready to leave the restaurant. Mom had to get up and leave the table a few times, and her and I both had to keep repositioning our legs to stay comfortable. Any time Chakotay remotely thought either of us was getting up to leave, he was getting up to try and move from under the table. This is something I worked on a lot with Ember and Journey, and now with Chakotay. Holding a stay position, waiting patiently and quietly. He is great with it at home, and he was great with it as a puppy up until the fear period started. We even practiced under tables and other objects similar to how I trained him to wait for a release command from his kennel when I open it. He understands the cue and what I want him to do and in the past didn't have problems with it. Anyway, we were getting ready to leave and I gave a clear verbal stay command with the hand signal and indicated to mom to go ahead and get up ( Chakotay could not see me tell her ) while at the same time I again gave the stay commands to the dogs as she was moving to stand and I was swinging my legs out so I could get myself into position to let the dogs come out and get on my feet. Ember didn't flinch, waiting for me to release her. Chakotay on the other hand suddenly acted like he was on fire and came barreling out from under the table, trampling Ember who was at the open end of the table ( I sat him by the wall on purpose to control his movement )......and slammed right into my legs and through them. I don't know what hurt more. Chakotay hitting them or the impact causing them to slam against the pole and underside of the table. It was very unpleasant. I was biting back pain, embarrassed because of his behavior startling people across from us ( who I apologized to ), with Ember and mom both checking with me to make sure I was okay because they knew I had been hurt by it. I was holding Chakotay by the collar at that point to make him stay in place while I let Ember out and tried to get up. The whole time he was yancy and clearly ready to GTFO. Mind you nothing at all bad had happened all day. He didn't have to go relieve himself because I made sure to let them both do so before we went into the place to be safe. He simply had enough for the day and wanted to go back to the car because he knows eventually we will go "home" in it and he doesn't have to be out in public anymore. Mom couldn't believe he'd done that. She's never seen any of my dogs behave that way, mostly because they all know better. Sure sometimes they jump the gun if they get excited, but a quick reminder would set them right again. Even as big of a clumsy dork as Journey could be, he never behaved that way, even when closer to the end of his short career he was clearly not wanting to work because he was in pain. He was grumbly and somewhat impatient but he never plowed through me in his desire to leave a place. I was hoping having Ember around would help Chakotay more than it did, especially in the non-pet places we go for public access training. The more I evaluate him and watch his behavior in public with our short training sessions, and go back and look at video I take, I'm just not so sure he will grow out of this; it has been going on since August without improvement. Him finally interacting with the handful of people that one day in Petsmart was only because I let Ember spazz and say hello to people to try and make it a happy fun thing and missing out on the excitement was enough to overcome any concern he had about the situation. I can't do that every single place we go with every single person or thing we come across that he might be uncomfortable with. I also can't take both him and Ember together every single time. It takes a lot of energy to safely handle and direct one, let alone two large dogs in coordinated movement. Especially when one is a strong puppy who clearly doesn't want to be out in the first place. I just don't always have the physical ability to do it. While Ember's presence seems like it might be enough of a distraction to boost his confidence some, I can't say if it will change enough for him to grow out of this phase completely. I also have some concern about him somehow becoming dependent on her presence as being the only way he feels confident enough in public. I can't help but somehow feel like a failure all over again. I haven't done anything vastly different with Chakotay than I did with raising Journey, that may have inadvertently caused the behavior shift. After this most recent outing, I'm not sure what to do anymore. We are so far behind on training skills, mostly because the primary training and reward systems we use at home won't work in public ( he currently won't take food rewards or toy rewards in public ). I have tried relaxation protocol and methods to get him to relax and focus on me, with no luck. I am in essence forcing him into situations he is not comfortable with simply by the action of taking him out in public anywhere. Even places he has gone to since he was a tiny puppy and previously been happy to visit. But if I don't take him, he won't get the exposure or continued socializing he needs. Which even if he washes out as a service dog, he should still have these skills and experiences to be a balanced pet dog. How long do I keep trying? If he was a program trained dog, he probably would have already been washed and career changed because it would be a risk to the handler and dog both. He already has a problem with being exposed to common every day stressful situations that a service dog is required to face, and it is pretty unlikely to change. So rather than invest time and money into trying to overcome that and train past it and hope it works, they cut the dog loose and move on. I just hate the reality of having to look at it that way, because he is obviously more than just an object to me. I have become so much more attached to Chakotay in a shorter time than I was with Journey. My heart wants more than anything to make it work because I love him and I have bonded with him and invested so much into him already. But my gut instinct tells me it just isn't meant to be. If I was to evaluate him from a neutral standpoint like I would any client's dog, it is painfully obvious from that perspective he isn't a good fit as it currently stands. So then what do I do? Finding a good home for him is going to be so much more difficult. He'd need someone that was not only familiar with GSD, but someone who is familiar with working with a dog that might live the rest of their lives on the high strung side. Then what? Search for another puppy or a young adult dog and try again? Maybe a Rottweiler instead? They are larger, which is what I need. Or do I try and find a Labrador, Golden Retriever, or a mix of those breeds and hope it will be big enough? On average most only get around 75lbs on the larger side. A Rottie will easily top out at 120lbs or more. Going through any reputable breeder who actually OFA HD/ED checks their dogs and does temperament testing and goes by health standards, I am looking at $1k plus easily (unless I can find someone willing to work a price for me for the dog being a service dog, which is less likely for pedigree working dogs). I always encourage rescue over buying, but as I have discussed in the past, with needing something so specific for a working dog career, it is hard to find a dog that can live up to the standards health and behavior wise from the shelter ( especially with high rate of heartworm positive dogs here in Louisiana ) or hobby breeders. Maybe I could try fostering for local rescues to see if I could find a potential candidate. It could help save a life by simply being a temporary home if the dog wasn't the right fit, with no long term commitment to keep the dog if it didn't work out for whatever reason. Otherwise the only choice is just keep waiting and applying for a program dog, and hope nothing happens to Ember before I get accepted and paired with a successor dog. Then I have to hope either the dog is offered free of charge, or that I can somehow come up with the money to travel wherever I need to go and to cover the cost of the dog ( which is likely $5k to $7k easily with travel, hotel, food, aid to come with me, etc. ). The money from the service dog fund is completely gone now, used on expenses for Ember and Chakotay. The service dog fundraiser hasn't seen any activity despite me sharing and asking for help and even offering artwork commissions and things in exchange for it, because I hate having to ask for help and not being able to offer something in return. The whole situation has been very difficult and trying. Chakotay is a great dog. I'm just not sure he will ever be comfortable enough to work in public.
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Today started off a bit stressful. Had to get up early for the dog training seminar. Got my coffee and breakfast ( milk and meds yummm ) and got myself dezombified enough. Was right on time, loaded the car. Then my car wouldn't start. Of all the days? Really? Yeeaahh. Can't have it looked at till Monday. Thankfully my aunt could give me a ride.

Got there just in time and got settled. A room full of dog geeks and dog trainers and professionals somehow dog oriented or with their own fearful dogs, and here I am with Ember. Everyone wanted to gobble her up and she would have gladly let them and become one with them if it were physically possible. Everyone was real polite though and resisted the temptation of the cute little black and brindle dog in the room.

The seminar was great. Debbie is thoughtful and has a wonderful sense of humor, and her presentations reflect that. So did the random times a certain image would flash on the screen and she'd lob various dog toys into the audience. Ember was sad she didn't get to fetch them all, but behaved herself by simply watching as they went sailing and squeaking. In the end I made up for it by letting her get all sorts of love from people who had asked, when it was safe to do so.

I was stuck when lunch time came since I didn't have a vehicle. Some nice folks invited us to ride with them to go get lunch, which I thought was very awesome of them. Thanks again guys!

Great topics were discussed and lots of questions were presented and answered. It was so wonderful being surrounded by so many dog and behavioral geeks, that sense of common ground and understanding we all shared. I even got a chance to share my reptile geekery.

Time to speak one on one was limited, but I did have a chance to mention my situation with Chakotay and got some confirmation that we were on the right track. Echoing what I already knew; it is really dependent on the dog, set them up for success and hope for the best. But there is the reality that certain characteristics come with certain breeds and it may need more than behavior modification. Medication can be used to help get things in balance, and once that is used in combination with the training methods, the dog may get to the point where it is no longer needed.

We got a copy of one of Debbie's books and asked her to autograph it, which she was tickled by. Then Ember and I got our picture taken with her. After which Ember got sooooo much loooove from Debbie and anyone else who was still there waiting to speak with her.

Overall a good day.

So Many Books

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 10:10 pm
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
Got so many books from the library, their weight set off the front passenger side "no seat belt" alarm in my car.

Chakotay Update

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 09:02 pm
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Hey everyone. Apologies for the lack of updates about Chakotay lately, but there hasn't been a whole lot to report with him in the fear period. I have been keeping Chakotay home and just practicing basic skills and not much else. I took him out a few times, once every two weeks or so to try and get him over the fear period, but it was always the same reactions of suspiciously shying away and caution barking even at people he has known since he was an 8 week old puppy. Today I decided to try something different. I took Ember with us.

Dogs are social learners, and learn a lot by watching others. Ember is such a moosh and loves everyone that I hoped if I let her say hello to everyone, Chakotay would follow example and be more willing. I have used a similar technique with other shy or fearful dogs in the past. First I took him into our local Petsmart alone. Ember waited in the car while it was remote started with AC running. Same nervous reactions he has been displaying, which I recorded if anyone cares for me to share.

Then we went back to the car and took Ember in with us. Chakotay's behavior at first was still hyper vigilant and weary, but slightly less intense. We wandered around some but everyone we knew at the store was busy and it was slow so no one to test with. Then a woman brought her German Shepherd puppy in for grooming, and found her way over to us. I told her about Chakotay's fear period and asked if she'd like to help, and she happily agreed because she looooves German Shepherds! Ember was total velcro and getting all the love, and surprise surprise! Chakotay decided he wanted some too!

He even went back several times on his own to ask for more. Another couple was there with one of their German Shepherds, a huge male pup a month or two older than Chakotay, who was more the size Journey was at that same age. Chakotay was good about greeting them too with some encouragement and Ember support. They were all real nice and chatted about the fear period and other dog geek stuff, and we exchanged contact info. Yaay new dog people friends! Chakotay is still on the smaller side for a male, and seeing him next to this other dog near his same age I just don't think he is going to be a large dog like Journey was, unless he hits a huge growth spurt in the next month or so. Which may not be ideal if he's going to do full mobility work. We'll have to wait and see, and put some Miracle Gro in his food in the meantime!

I plan to repeat today's training experiment a few more times to get Chakotay to open up to people again with Ember along, try and see if I can get him interested in treats while doing so, and eventually transition him over to not having Ember along and see how he does. Hopefully he'll go back to being the happy cuddly dork he was with people before the fear period kicked in.
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By any chance does anyone have $115 to spare before the 15th? There is a dog training seminar that day that I really need to try and attend. It's to help Chakotay ( service dog in training ) try and overcome this fear period. The presenter is Debbie Jacobs, CPDT-KA, CAP2 and is specifically geared toward working with fearful and anxious dogs. It will be invaluable for me to be able to attend and likely have the chance to speak with her and others directly. Not only that, but word is a field trainer from one of the big service dog organizations is also attending. Again, a chance to talk to these people directly about Chakotay's problems is something I hate to pass up just because I don't have the money for it right now. I am taking commissions in exchange to make it happen. Animal art, anthro art, jewelry, sculptures, ceramics, all the art things can be yours!

http://leopardwolf.deviantart.com

Melted Puddles

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 08:52 pm
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
The last month or so has not been pleasant because our AC unit was progressively working less and less. All this time I thought it was just me, since I overheat so easily. It's probably the main reason I kept getting so sick on and off. But these past few days it totally stopped working and we had to have the repair people out to service the unit. I was melting into puddles of sad Lhunie-ness and living in front of my tower fan on high. It was as hot inside as it was outside, somewhere around 83F. Thankfully it is all better now and back to icebox comfortable and I am already starting to feel better.

Speaking of melted puddles. Ceramics! I have successfully fired two glaze loads in my kiln, woo! I waited till after the AC was fixed to start up the second glaze load, since the kiln maxes out around 2,220F for the firing runs I do. We didn't want to add to the miserable heat from the AC not working.

I am all excited about upcoming ceramics projects and other hot art plans!

Moar Flares

Friday, September 30th, 2016 08:35 pm
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Well, seems like I got my wish for cooler weather. But along with the sudden change came a flareup of astronomical proportions. Everything is ANGRY. Migraine triggers with aura and halos, ocular distortion and blurred vision. I moved wrong and my lower back and hips aggroed and went out aaaand the icing on it all, my De Quervain's Tenosynovitis has flared up so bad I will probably need to get another corticosteroid injection. But at least it's a little cooler out. It's nice. But it would be nicer if my body didn't behave like it was the end of the world every time the weather changes. Trying to be extra careful about how I move, but I refuse to let it slow me down again after I was just starting to recover from the last flare. Lots of Gaba and pain creams all over. I shall smell of menthol! Excuse me while I go electrocute myself with my TENS.

Exploding Butter

Thursday, September 29th, 2016 05:49 pm
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
Have a laugh at our expense. I was in the kitchen talking with my aunt while dinner was being made. She put some butter in the microwave and set it to defrost to melt it. She turned it on and we were talking. All of a sudden.... BOOM... and splatters inside the microwave as we watched in horror. The butter exploded in the microwave. It was literally dripping from the ceiling of the microwave and off the door when we opened it. On the bright side, now everything smells deliciously of butter.
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Busy busy busy this month. Working on ceramics and other art. We recently had a surprise party to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday. The whole family and Grandma's friends got together to celebrate. It was nice seeing so many people I have known since childhood. Lots of laughs and smiles were had.

After that we had a roofer out doing repairs and rebuilding the back deck's roof. Needless to say with all the construction sounds starting early AM I got no sleep, on top of getting no sleep because I have been sick. So I ended up even sicker and ran out of Gaba before insurance would cover the refill. Never fails that I always get really sick during the hottest of the summer.

Despite that, I was able to finally get a glaze load fired. I was trying to wait for the weather to cool off a little before I did, but that's not going to happen around here anytime soon. Just going to keep running the loads I have and vent with fans, try to time the hottest part for evening and early AM when it is a little cooler out. A small piece I made for my aunt's birthday came out perfect. I'll be sharing it and others on Patreon and eventually on DA and LWD page.

Nothing much has changed with Chakotay. Taking things slow and staying home. He barked at the roof repair guy when we tried a casual introduction, but at least he was okay after he got used to the noise of the repair work and realized it was not a bad thing. He curiously sniffed at all the tools and supplies and willingly investigated things he was unsure of after I touched them and showed him they were safe. Will be so happy when he gets past this phase and I get my confident puppy back.
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
In other news. Cleaning 5 gallons of RODI water out of my car's trunk was *exactly* what I wanted to do with my afternoon. /sarcasm So much for getting grocery shopping done. Lets hope the trunk mats dry out by tomorrow and I am feeling well enough to go then.
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Dog training friends, I am in need of some help. Chakotay is going through one of the "dreaded teenage phases" ( I try to say that jokingly ) of puppydom. Better known as a fear impact period. He's at the 7 month mark, so I understand this is normal and I was expecting it might happen ( even though ironically it never really did with Journey ). Poor Chakotay has gone from being a confident (but sensitive) sassy pup to having weird reactions to situations, people, objects, and sounds he has always been exposed to or has experienced before and been okay with.

His body language is reserved, he won't take treats/toy rewards like normal, and has avoidance or distancing behavior, so I know he is uncomfortable. People he has known since I got him, he acts suspicious of them and reserved to approach for pets where in the past he'd go right to them for love. With strangers the behavior is obviously worse with over vigilance and general weariness and wanting to avoid contact.

Same thing with certain environmental stimuli; places we have frequented, smells or sounds he is familiar with, he acts overly surprised, worried, or wants nothing to do with it. It has been hard for me to keep his attention and keep him under his threshold of tolerance because it has varied so much from one point to the next.

I know this is normal behavior during fear periods in adolescent dogs. My concern is if I cannot help him overcome this, it will disqualify him for being a service dog.

Service dogs need to be friendly toward and accepting of all people and animals they meet, for obvious reasons. If Chakotay continues to show lack of confidence in public and around strangers, it means he isn't a good fit for the job, and it would be wrong of me to force him to do something he cannot, same as it was with Journey having to be washed for medical reasons.

So for all my canine behavior savvy friends out there, any recommended reading materials or feedback you can offer? I know the general rules just as it is for the initial puppy fear stages in the 6-12 week or so fear periods and any others. Counter conditioning and desensitizing, make everything as happy and fun and AMAZINGLY positive as possible, do my best to show him it's all normal and nothing to be afraid of, so on and so forth. I plan to continue to socialize him to get the exposure but trying to do so without overwhelming him. But if he won't take offered rewards/treats for reacting correctly or as part of the OMG AMAZING situation pairing approach, is there anything else I can do to help get the message through to him besides letting him approach as he is comfortable doing so? Depending on circumstance, he may not want to at all on his own, so I don't want to inadvertently reinforce fear with my own reactions or lack of reactions.

I'm not sure how long I should give him to overcome it. I know normally you'd just let the dog get comfortable with something at their own pace and work on anything that can boost confidence with that object or situation and confidence in general, which I have already been doing. But I am concerned that as a service dog in training he needs more exposure time than a pet dog would to keep him on track and avoid any huge training setbacks. It is also a matter of how much time till it passes. I know on average it can be several weeks worth. But if it lasts past that point, does it mean it may simply just be part of his behavior ( genetically influenced or otherwise ) and accept that he probably isn't cut out for service dog work and go ahead and wash him?

That's not even touching on the other possible problem I may be facing with him; I'm not sure if Chakotay is actually going to be nearly as big as Journey was. He hasn't grown as much as Journey had by this point and his paws are smaller. I am hoping the fear period is directly related to a developmental growth spurt or something and he is about to supersize himself.

Journey for all intents and purposes was pretty bulletproof from day one, and not much ever really phased him - which was amazing considering how bad some GSD can get. That's why I am more concerned about Chakotay. From the first day I got him, I already knew he was a lot more sensitive to certain things in ways Journey never was. Journey just didn't care. But Chakotay does, and the fear period is amplifying it. I just want to make sure I do what is best for him. Even if it means facing a similar situation like I did with Journey.

Road Trip Recap

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 05:19 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
The endless flurry of activity recently is making my head spin. Here is a recap.

Before The Trip

Before I found out Mike and I were going on a road trip, I had to unexpectedly relocate my art room from one part of the house to the other. That took a lot of energy and time and required some help from the neighbor to move furniture.

Then I found out we were going to Oklahoma and had to get my car ready for such a long drive. Turns out I needed new tires and front breaks. Which was an unexpected expense of over $1,000 that my family helped cover. Considering the car is going on six years old and this is the first time I have had to replace anything huge like that, I am lucky they held out this long. It had to be done one way or another and thankfully family helped make it happen.

Flailing with last minute preparations to get everything ready, get things for the animals taken care of, and figure out trip logistics and give friends a heads up we would be in their neck of the woods for meetups. It was storming all week up till the day we were ready to leave. It is horrible to admit, but since we don't have cable TV anymore and I wasn't online checking posts or news or anything because of computer problems, I had no idea the Baton Rouge area had gotten hit as badly as it had. New Orleans got lots of rain, but we didn't have anything near that kind of flooding where I am staying. I felt horrible for not knowing sooner, though there isn't much I could have done for anyone in that area with my health problems. Thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was affected.


Travel Time

We didn't realize how bad the flooding was until we got on the road and ended up in the middle of it. Road closures of the major interstates, the exact direction we had to go to get out to OKC. Detours and traffic. Carefully navigating partly flooded roadways. Stopping along the way for breaks and finding the epitome of stereotypical horror movie "dead end gas station" complete with creepy dark road with dilapidated buildings in the middle of nowhere Louisiana where we lost GPS and cell reception at a specific spot along the road..... said NOOOOPE and turned right around to get back to the highway ( the reception came back after we passed that same spot by the way ). The 10hr drive took us about 16hrs. But we made it. And after some mild drama with the hotel, everything else fit into place as best it could.

Chakotay and Mike were buddies from the start. The pup kept doing the most adorkable things and endearingly grew on Mike. They had some wonderful male bonding during that long car ride. I can't count the number of times Chakotay's head was used as an arm rest while he happily grumbled and nudged us like it was the best thing ever. For his first time on a very, very long road trip in the back seat of the car, first time staying away from home, first time at a hotel, and similar activities, he did exceptionally well for a six month old puppy. Ember of course handled the whole trip like the pro she is. She was very happy to see Mike after so many months since our last trip to New Jersey.


Museum of Osteology!!!!

One awesome highlight - I got to have a total geekgasm at the amazing Museum of Osteology, which is a private museum devoted to the study of bones and skeletons, and part of the famous Skulls Unlimited. BOOONES. SO. MANY. BONES. As a bone collector myself, I was in heaven. The collection is amazing, and what was on display is only a tiny fraction of what they have. I took so many pictures, most for anatomy reference and artistic study. The taxonomic displays were amazing. I could have stayed there all day just staring at everything. Mike wasn't sure if he'd like it, but he said he really enjoyed it and thought it was neat seeing all the articulated skeletons. We were actually the last ones in the museum after they closed. I was totally geeking because hey, this is Skulls Unlimited! I couldn't help but ask if they had the Thylacine skull replica on site. I wanted a chance to hold it and admire it in person, since I have been drooling over it online for years now. I was so busy staring at it and talking with the staff about bones and anatomy and geeky things, I totally missed Mike sneaking the guy his card; I just thought the noise was the guy closing out the register for the evening. Until I was handing the skull back to the him so we could leave and Mike grinned at me and told me to put it in the box and lets walk out with it and the guy who was helping us was grinning too. I almost started crying, because I have dreamed of having this thing that represents something so special and deeply spiritual to me, and now I have the closest thing I ever could ( short of the real thing). It is amazing how similar it looks to my wolf skull. Now I will dream of having the felidae skull to complete the aspect circle.


Visiting With Friends!

Mike had a chance to see one of his friends and I had a chance to see some of mine. One being my childhood friend Gabrielle, who is the Burt's Bees knees for understanding and accepting my special crazy self in all the years we have known each other. She helped us brave the wilds of Kansas in search of a meeting place with plentiful food options. The other being my longtime friend Ash, who I hadn't seen in person in nearly a decade, wow! Ash it was great getting a chance to see you and James and reminisce over the good ol' days and sketchbook stains, like a lesbian! Thank you all for driving to hang out with us and have dinner. Wish we could have stayed longer! There was just not enough time to share all the laughter and hugs and love. We must do it again! You guys also need to come visit down here! Just not during the summer because it is waaaay too hot out there.


The trip was way too short, most of the time spent driving. Mike couldn't get extra time off because work had every Sunday this month blocked off, no time available. So he couldn't get the day off and extend his stay longer than the week. It would have been nice if we had more time to explore the area and visit with friends while out there. We made the best of the time we did have. There was a lot of laughter and shenanigans, which we both really needed.

Stupid Computer

Saturday, August 13th, 2016 03:58 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
Spent the last few days fighting with my computer again. Just when I was getting everything back in order from the hard drive crash where I lost data and art and things, Windows decides to self destruct itself so badly that it screwed up my boot sector. I couldn't even access recovery mode or anything similar, nor could I rebuild the boot and registry data.

So all the programs that I had installed on my second drive in case something like this happened.... nope, won't work now. I have to do everything all over again. I only lost a handful of things I had saved to my desktop. I got into the habit of moving everything over to my non-OS drives. I don't think I lost anything important except for video edits, or I just haven't realized anything else is missing yet.

Unfortunately this reinstall is glitching out on updates and hanging. Which means I have to reinstall AGAIN. I haven't bothered to reinstall any of my programs except Photoshop and stuff I need specifically to get ready for the trip. Which is aggravating because I can't use my other editing programs or Painter as I had planned. I will get this stuff edited and posted, once my computer stops sabotaging my progress. When I get back from the trip to OKC I am going to wipe it clean and install, make sure everything is stable, reinstall all my drivers and programs, and ghost the damned drive and make backup points. I should have this last time around. Live and learn.

Am I back yet?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 10:10 pm
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
Just when I thought I'd be back and be able to catch up with online interactions, something else comes up. Dealing with things as best as I can. Most of it doesn't warrant expending the energy to mention. Some of it meh. Some of it sad. Most recent being the loss of one of my aunts to medical complications. It was sudden and unexpected, and still hard to accept. The circumstances around it have made me reflect on my own health issues. I have been in some bad mindspace, so I chose not to burden others with it. Not any different than any negativity I have shared in the past, so why sound like a broken record.

In better news, the Medicaid expansion finally hit. I got everything with it straightened out, I think. I went and saw my eye specialist and my rheumatologist. It was finally decided since we'd tried everything else with limited results, it was time to try adding immunosuppressants. I have been taking Plaquenil and Restasis since then. I wasn't able to until now without insurance, because the Restasis alone would have been over $500 per monthly supply out of pocket, similar to the problems I had with getting my Cymbalta before it went generic.

There is no generic for Restasis, so I am having to fight for a prior authorization for it. The insurance allowed the first month purchase to go through so I would have it, so kudos to them for thinking of the patient in these situations. Now I just hope they are reasonable to approve the prior auth since it is literally the only medication of its class and kind so there are no alternative treatments available to substitute. I also saw my new primary and she seems pretty awesome. A lot like my awesome Mayo doctor was the first time we met. Getting referrals for lab work and to see an orthopedic specialist, neurologist, and endocrinologist finally, after waiting an eternity. Here is to hoping I can get approvals for a bone density scan and MRI real soon.


Finished gathering, compiling, and submitting all the information for my Disability appeal. My rheumatologist and I sat down and compiled a whole slew of things to throw at them, based on their own listing criteria, and directly quoted those criteria and offered detailed information for a functionality report based on models they use, which should be more than enough medical evidence to support my claim and get approval. Now it is just a matter of waiting again. It could take a year or more before the case is even issued to a judge. Unless someone in the processing department reviews it and sees how blatantly it is that I meet listing level criteria and should have been approved the first time around. Jump. Through. Hoops. Makes my fur bristle the more I have to conform to their inadequate process.

The benefit of waiting is that it gives me that much more time to research and be thoroughly prepared for the hearing when the time comes. I did speak with a helpful woman in their support department who sent me some information for legal assistance for low/no income individuals. I plan to utilize it if I am able to. It's not the same as retaining a private attorney, but I'm sure I can learn something either way if I qualify to use it.

Back to catching up on things I missed.

Updates, Nirding

Friday, July 1st, 2016 07:15 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
I return. Sort of. I have had a horrible go at it with reoccurring flair ups of my autoimmune issues. No thanks to the stress of having to jump through more hoops to get a little help.

It is better explained here, with neat pictures of my crazy flesh!

http://www.patreon.com/posts/handy-hands-5871180


It is finally letting up enough where I can think somewhat clearly and function enough to venture on here and see what everyone is up to.

I have a ton of little updates to make here or there, mostly passing comments about random things that have happened.

That includes a very random and rapid visit from my friend, the good doctor Jenn.

She brought along her friend and fellow doctor Abby ( who was moving to Louisiana, yay! ) and Abby had with her an awesome gyr-burd.

The nirds taught me great wisdom of avian ways. Shenanigans were had, great photos were captured ( envy of Jen and her snazzy super lens ), tasty gator was partaken and good company shared by all. It was an awesome day and evening full of laughs and animal geekery that I have been dying for.

They got to meet Ember and Chakotay and experience the silly that is service dogs given a "relax and say hi" command. Chakotay did very good for his first lengthy outing working alongside Ember with all sorts of crazy distractions ( like birds! ). It was also his first experience doing a long and boring down/stay under a restaurant table.

It was totally worth the recovery time from all the activity afterwards. They went to the French Quarter the following day before leaving town, and while I wish I could have too, there is no way I could have gone along and managed to keep up. Especially not in the scorching heat and humidity.

Other stuff happened. I found a baby possum skeleton, I saved a fledgling Blue Jay in epic fashion, I have been training with my dorky dogs when my body allows, and I continue to battle medical conditions and fight for the aid I need. With the Medicaid expansion I am finally getting access to immunological medications and other treatment options, which we hope will better control symptoms.

I think I covered all the main highlights.
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
I have been dragging through the past two months or so with a Sjögren's flair up. I get them regularly and stress and weather conditions, alongside complications from my Ehlers-Danlos and other conditions, can make them worse.

Been having a horrible time with my tooth and jaw issues. The nerve pain has gotten so bad I have had to increase the amount of Gabapentin I am taking and taking it to near maximum daily allowances just to get relief. It's gotten so bad I have had to blender things I eat and stick to eating soft stuff. It's insanely frustrating because the pain is so bad at points between it and the Gaba I can't think straight or get anything done. I have a whole mess of updates and things to share for Chakotay that are back logged, among other things.

This is one of the first days the Gaba has been able to control the pain enough for me to sit and type some. I also have some medical updates but that will come in a different post and may wait till Monday since I have an appointment with my Rheumatologist. Hope everyone else is fairing better and doing well.

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