Our poor Mimi left us today. She was the last of our three Guinea Goddesses.

We knew it was coming, but it was still a surprise…it’s so weird how that happens. We had someone from Carolina Pet Services pick her up earlier. They did such a wonderful job with Mona in January that we’ll never consider using anyone else.

We’ll miss you, Meemers! :'( I’m sure Isis and Mona will be so happy to see you again.

Mimi (Artemis)

Peter was sure I’d enjoy Kindle Unlimited when it came out — he wasn’t wrong. I can read a dozen books in a month, and this looked like a great opportunity to feed my habit without breaking the bank.

Keep in mind that all of these books are free to read with Kindle Unlimited, but you can buy them in other formats as well. Please use the links below if any of the titles here tickle your fancy! :)

I downloaded a few of the popular titles to test the waters, but the first two were complete duds. Either the writing was terrible or there were so many grammar mistakes that I was tempted to drop-kick my Kindle across the parking lot. (Yeah, they were that bad.)

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The first series I successfully “clicked” with was Witching Savannah by J.D. Horn. Growing up in the Deep South, I could easily relate to the places and people, and who doesn’t love a good urban fantasy plot? I hear Mother Jilo’s voice in my head when I read her dialogue; growing up around similar speech patterns helps a bit, I suppose! It was thoroughly enchanting, and I can’t wait for the last book in the series to be released later this year.

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Next up was the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch. Wow…this series was a doozy. Fair warning: The first book will make you feel as though you’re going insane right along with the main character. It’s actually pretty incredible. If you can get past the author’s habit of making clauses believe they’re full sentences, you will thoroughly enjoy the series.

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The Magic 2.0 series by Scott Meyer had been beckoning me from the Kindle store for a while, and it looked too intriguing to pass up. The two books in the series tell the spectacular tale of Martin, an experienced hacker turned newbie wizard in an incredible series of events. Just remember: “The first rule of using magic staffs and wands is that you never make the obvious joke.”

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Then we have the Wool Omnibus (Silo Saga) by Hugh Howey. This edition has all 5 Wool stories in it, including the first short story and its final four segments, which tell the tale of Silo 18. It takes a little while to fully grasp the reality you’re reading about, but once you’re in, you’re going for quite a ride. I think I’ll dig into the Shift Omnibus (three stories) and Dust, the final book in the series, as soon as I finish my current series!

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And finally, the series I’m currently on is A Modern Witch by Debora Geary. These are just FUN. Ms. Geary very obviously knows her witch & pagan material, and it’s an absolute delight. Writers who get it wrong often get it WAY wrong, but these books are right on the money. They make me wish I had real magic too — or at least had friends and family as colorful as her characters. These are books that make me want to crawl inside and live there. :) I won’t post links to all of the books, since there are a TON of them, so here’s a link that will get you started:

A Modern Witch

Make sure you start with the first book, A Modern Witch, and not with the first book in her follow-up series, Witch Central. I accidentally did and am finding the early books more enjoyable, since I’m being introduced to the characters properly. I kinda jumped in at the late-middle of the series, and was like, “Huh? Who is that again?” quite a bit.

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Whew!! I’m going to add an Amazon widget to my sidebar to help keep track of all these awesome finds. I hope you guys find something you enjoy in this huge pile of books…let me know when/if you’ve read them, and what you think!

Zucchini Mushroom PastaThis recipe immediately caught my eye; there’s always been a special place in my heart (and stomach!) for pasta and mushrooms. A chance to have them both AT THE SAME TIME was irresistible.

First of all, this recipe only requires a few ingredients that I don’t usually have on-hand: zucchini, cremini mushrooms, and heavy cream. It made shopping for this dinner relatively painless, and anything perishable will happily keep in the fridge for a few days, in case you or your family decide on something else to eat that night.

That being said, once you do decide to whip this up, it’s stupidly easy and tastes incredible. I’ve made this dish twice now, and having recognized what I needed to refine after the first batch, the second batch was even better — and I didn’t think that was possible.

My tips and observations for making this ambrosia even incredible-er:

  • Use just 4 cups of water. It’s more than enough, and you don’t want to have to drain anything later.
  • When putting everything in the pot to boil, put the pasta in first, then the veggies.
  • Everything else will work its way down into the water once it starts boiling.
  • Don’t be afraid to add a little extra cream (if you tolerate dairy well).
  • If you’re cooking in a metal pot, transfer everything to a plastic bowl or non-stick pot before adding the Parmesan cheese; otherwise, it will all stick to the pot instead of the food. (This life lesson cost me some elbow grease.)

My conclusion:

   Eat this dish, and eat it often.  

We picked up Mona’s cremains yesterday from Steve at Carolina Pet Cremation. He did a beautiful job and included a lovely packet of condolence and memorial material.

Mona's Urn

Cremation Certificate Poems Memorials
Wildflowers (front) Wildflowers (back)

This, however…this caught me by total surprise and left me sobbing for a while. I was truly moved.

Name Plate & Paw Print

I will be woodburning and painting a design on the top of her urn like I did for Isis. I’m thinking a cornucopia, since she was named after the goddess of abundance.

Baby Mona, December 2008

Mona has gone to join Isis at the Rainbow Bridge, leaving Mimi as our sole remaining Guinea Goddess.

Snuggle BunnyShe turned 6 years old in November, and her health had been in slow decline for the past year. I suppose her age was catching up to her a bit. In July we took her to Banfield because it seemed that her right eye was no longer functional; she had a noticeable head tilt, the eye itself was glazed and a bit sunken, and there was no blink reflex. She was diagnosed with an ear infection that had likely caused pressure or damage to her optic nerve, and we were told that she may or may not regain sight in that eye. She was perfectly ok with that, going about her happy guinea pig life much as she had been. She really perked up and even gained a little weight.

The weight didn’t stay on, unfortunately, and we’d noticed that she was wheezing a little when she breathed a couple weeks ago, so we took her in to Banfield again on December 18th. She was put on antibiotics for a respiratory infection, and she got through alright until her follow-up appointment on the 30th.

ohaiI’d been asking that they check her teeth since I first brought her in, and this time I insisted that they do it, since I had a niggling feeling that something was off there. I left her with them for the afternoon, since she had to be sedated for them to really have a good look, and picked her up a few hours later. She was still groggy from the anesthesia, but I could tell right away that something was very wrong. Her right hind leg was sticking out straight behind her, very stiff and unresponsive, right down to her toes. She had also started to list her entire body to the right, instead of just tilting her head.

When Banfield called to check on her New Year’s Day, I let them know she had this strange new symptom, and the vet, Dr. O’Connell, was flummoxed. She recommended that I take her to a specialist at Avian and Exotic Animal Care (which, in hindsight, we really should have done the very first time she fell ill). They were able to get me in on January 2nd, and the news was not good.

Mona’s bloodwork came back surprisingly normal, but her x-rays showed several problems.

Mona and big sister MimiThe first issue was that she had overgrown molar roots. It’s an age thing, and there’s really not much that can be done about this in guinea pigs. The specialist figured that the roots growing up into her sinus cavity and down through her jawbone had caused the ear infection. In turn, this destroyed her right inner ear and damaged one of her facial nerves, resulting in paralysis on the right side of her face. Instead of feeling that she was blind in her right eye, the vet was certain that it still worked, but she couldn’t blink to keep it hydrated and healthy. Horrifying thought, right?

The second issue was arthritis in her knees. That would explain why she hadn’t jumped up on top of her house to rattle her cage bars in months. There was almost no cartilage in her knee joints anymore.

The third, and most concerning, was actually a lack of evidence explaining the lopsidedness and rigidity of her hind leg. The vet felt that there was a real possibility she had a brain tumor; if it was particularly aggressive, it would explain her incredibly fast downward spiral.

Static cling is a bitch!The specialist had to anesthetize her again in order to take another look at her teeth. When she woke up, Mona was even worse off than before. After I brought her home, along with a handful of medications and a resolve to see her through this, I realized she wasn’t even tilting over anymore — she was laying entirely on her right side and could hardly move. She ate baby food from a syringe when I fed it to her, and she tucked into lettuce leaves every time they were placed in her reach, but beyond that, she just lay there, occasionally waving her front legs around as if she were trying to move around but was too weak.

I gave the medications a couple of days to work, but in the end, I had to face the facts. This was no way for her to live, and she showed no improvement. I could tell she wanted to keep fighting, but she was just so tired.

I cuddled her and kissed her and asked her to say hello to Isis for me, and then I got on the phone to make arrangements.

Pomona, Mona, Monamona Mischief Pig, Mona Bologna, Bologna Head, Booper…you will be missed, sweet girl.

Did someone say "food"?