Monday, January 25, 2010

Mickey Lives On in a Bedtime Story

The bedtime story is nothing new; I wrote it more than a decade ago. But it was inspired by Mickey and his sister Minnie, and I'm happy that it's still available for reading on the Internet. I had to misspell Mickey's name for gender neutrality, but he won't mind.

Two Grey Cats

Tonight I happened upon this little quiz related to the story. Will merchandising follow? Mickey and Minnie t-shirts, perhaps? Or maybe Mickey and Minnie dolls. Soft, eminently huggable dolls, with a resonant purr.....

Two Grey Cats Quiz

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kitten Update

The kitten hasn't been seen since Tuesday night. I hope this means she has a home. A good home.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Heaven-Sent Kitten?

I should start by telling you that years ago we found a stray cat that was emaciated and terribly sick. My son named her Mystic. I was the one who cared for her most of the time, and she thought the sun rose and set on me. Mystic slowly regained her health and grew into a long-haired "luxury cat," as my DH put it. She was a black & white tuxedo cat. We sometimes called her "Miss Tickle," and we adored her. One night she slipped out of the house in the dark as I let a dog out. I didn't see her leave, and she drowned in our swimming pool. We all took it very hard.

A year later my daughter Jill announced that I needed another long-haired black & white cat, and she found me the next best thing: a long-haired black kitten. We named him Princeton, a.k.a. "Prince Tony," and he lived for 12 years.

Anyway, as you know we lost Mickey last week. My son suggested I might like a kitten, but I said not yet. For one thing, I'd like to minimize the vet bills for a while. For another, I'd like to wait until Wolfy passes on. He's 14. Meanwhile, I wouldn't mind some peaceful time to enjoy Wolfy and my two cats, Pogo and Annie.

So that brings us to tonight, when a man came into the library where I work, and said there was a cat outside, trying to get in. I looked, and it was a kitten—not tiny, but not grown—and it was trying hard to open the glass door. And guess what.......she was a black & white tuxedo cat with a bushy tail, a sure sign she'll be long haired, or semi-long haired.

I thought about her all evening. I couldn't bring her into the library, where she could easily disappear, but I did go out and pet her (so soft—except for those needle claws). I finally, and reluctantly, decided that if she was still there at 9:00 when I left, I'd take her with me. But she wasn't there.

Tomorrow I'm going to put a cat carrier in my car, along with some food. If she's still around, I'll pick her up and try to find out if she has an owner. I doubt it, because I think I saw her on the campus, curled up at the side of a road, before Christmas.

I'm so ambivalent about this. My reasons for not wanting another cat right now still stand. But the possibility that Jill picked this one out for me seems very strong, and too compelling to ignore. We'll see......

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mickey is gone.

This is such a shock for me, as I know it will be those of you who know I've had an injured cat sequestered in the downstairs bathroom for two months. Mickey was 15. In mid-November he had a chunk of his leg removed by what the vet guessed was a rat. Home care involved soaking his leg four times a day at first, and what turned out to be four series of antibiotics. He had to wear a cone collar to prevent him from reinfecting the wound by licking. We made six visits to the vet.

It was a long haul, but Mickey was doing wonderfully well. The whole family was excited to see him get close to complete healing. He finished his antibiotics, and we stopped the soaks this week. I weighed him yesterday, and was happy to find he'd gained another pound, up to 11.5 pounds.

We had a nice routine going where I would take his collar off in the morning (or twice a day on days I didn't have to go to work) and then hold him and pet him for a while before feeding him. He loved this, and so did I. He had this great habit of rubbing his face against mine, hard. Purr, purr....

We did that this morning, and everything was fine. It was still fine later when I changed his litter and cleaned the floor. But at 2:00 p.m. I heard him cry out. I opened the door and found him panting and salivating, unable to walk. I called the vet immediately, and they said it sounded like he'd thrown a blood clot.

I took him right in. The vet said if a cat throws a clot, it's likely to lodge in the artery that supplies blood to the hind legs. This is what happened to Mickey. He was paralyzed, and in great pain, and there was nothing we could do except end his pain.

The vet, who treated Mickey all along for his injury, felt so bad for both Mickey and me. She and I talked afterward for a long time. I told her that although I'm sorry Mickey had to suffer with his leg injury, I'm not sorry we had these two months of intensive contact. Before he was hurt, Mickey was a rather elusive indoor barn cat who had to be coaxed out of hiding. But he and I bonded strongly while I was caring for him. Although this makes it harder for me now, I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to get to know, and to deeply love, this wonderful cat.

I'm also so grateful that it happened while I was home. I had to leave for work at 1:00 p.m. two days this week, and at 2:00 yesterday. I was planning to leave today at 3:00. If this had happened to him even one hour later, I would have been out of the house until 10:00 p.m. and Mickey would have suffered all that time.

On the drive to the vet I hoped he could be saved, but I told him if I had to let him go Jill would be there to meet him, and she would take good care of him. I said I would join them someday, and when I did I would take him in my arms and feel his face rub on mine, hard. Meanwhile, I will remember that feeling always.

Thursday, Thursday

It's only 9:15 a.m., and my day is getting more annoying with each shift of the digital clock.

The two bags of canned goods I bought last night and left on the dining table when I went to bed are still there. (Yeah, I know I live by myself, so of course they're still there. But it's still annoying.)

Wolfy's been panting and nudging me ever since I got up. I filled his water dish, took him outside, and gave him treats. But I haven't managed to divert him from nudge mode.

My right hand, which took took a lot of hits from the cold recently, looks and feels like a leper's. (Well, sure—I have no idea what it feels like to be a leper. But maybe my hand does.)

Dog turds await my attention in the snow. Enough said?

I got up an hour early today to scan some of my dad's negatives, a process I started last year. But I can't seem to get the scanner to do what it's supposed to do. No doubt my new computer factors into this problem somehow, but I don't know how. So here I sit with a stack of negatives on my desk, the scanner blinking its taunting blue eye.

Mickey is feeling better. This is wonderful. But during the night he apparently kicked cat litter all over the bathroom, and then washed his feet in his water dish. This is not wonderful.

Is there a reason why I can't get a fire going in the woodstove this morning? Impatience, maybe?

If one more person emails me to tell me how much they loved Avatar, I'm going to block them from Outlook.

I know what I need.

I need someone to cross my yard tapping a white-tipped cane, or rolling in a wheelchair, or walking behind a hearse, to show me what an absolutely splendid day I'm having.

Or maybe I just figured it out.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The A Word (and no, it's not adultury)

I bought myself a new sewing machine for Christmas. I already had one, given to me by my husband in 1975. It cost $400, a tidy sum in those days, and was the top of the Kenmore line at the time. It still works well, but it's so bloody heavy! Like all sewing machines of that vintage, it's made entirely of metal. I used it a lot for years, making the kids' clothes when they were little, and making curtains, etc. But more recently on the occasions when I've gotten the urge to sew, the thought of lugging that machine down the stairs has erased my creative impulses.

So I bought a new machine last month. Like many of today's vintage, this one is made of plastic. I'm not a big fan of plastic, but the machine is delightful to look at and has an excellent reputation. And it's light! Hoist with one hand light. "Wow--is there really a sewing machine in this box?" light.

I thought by now I'd be sewing. But I discovered that when the urge to sew strikes, it isn't only the thought of the heavy machine that squelches it; it's also the thought of climbing the stairs to go get it.

I go up and down stairs all the time at work. But there's something about being alone—even though I often say I probably do better living along than most people, given all the practice I got as an only child—that makes me feel my age and beyond. This is especially true when I've been away from civilization for a stretch of time. Tomorrow I go back to work after 25 days off.

When my mother-in-law was the age I am now, she looked at me imploringly and said, "It's hell getting old." I was 33 at the time, so I told her what I thought she wanted to hear: "Oh, you're not old, Mom!"

The truth was, she had aged dramatically over the course of a decade. When I first met her, she was a stunning woman with a beautiful face and a tall, elegant body that carried her expensive clothes well. Ten years later, she'd had back surgery, and didn't move around much. She lived in a big house in the desert, and had a lot of time to think about her aches and pains.

I had two little children, and not much time to think about my mother-in-law's ailments. It wasn't that I didn't care; it was that I did. It's not pleasant watching someone you love deteriorate. I remember the first time I saw my adored father shuffle like an old man. My initial reaction wasn't sympathy; it was more like irritation. What was he doing walking like that? This was my dad—my tennis-playing, bicycle-riding, marvelous natural athlete dad, the person who could make up any game if you put a ball in his hands. No matter that he was by then well into his eighties. He had never been old, and I didn't want him to start.

I plan to tell these things to my children someday (you think they read my blog? Ha!), to prepare them for their own feelings of irritation, of annoyance, to alleviate some of the guilt they are bound to feel, and also because I hope that being forewarned will enable them to summon patience when it is needed.

I often look back and wish I'd taken my mother-in-law's hand in both of mine. I wish I'd sat down next to her, and looked into those imploring eyes, and waited for her to tell me what she needed to say.

I guess it's a good thing I'm going back to work tomorrow.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wolfy's Hanging in There

His Husky side still loves hanging out in the snow, even in bitter cold, and even though he's 14.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


I sat at my computer this morning (on my microfiber-upholstered chair), wearing a microfiber sweater, polyester fleece yoga pants, SmartWool socks (thanks to my daughter), and Lands' End fabric-and-suede zip-up Weatherly rubber-soled shoes (oh, and microfiber underwear, if you must know), and looked at a picture of a Civil War-era woman.

She was not unattractive, but looked a tad pained, I thought. This could be due to the necessity of holding a pose long enough for the film of those days to be exposed, but I think it must be at least partly due to her clothes. Everything looks so stiff! Those buttons must have been a real trial to do up. And everywhere she went, she had to haul around yards and yards of whatever, with more yards and yards of even stiffer whatever underneath. And way underneath you can be sure she wore a boned (as in real, once-living bones) corset to give her that nice waist. They didn't put much stock in breathing in those days.

Later this afternoon, I lay on my bed—mattress covered with memory foam and latex, cotton sateen sheets over that, then a down duvet topped with a down blanket, and me topped with the microfiber "minky" throw my granddaughter gave me for Christmas—and thought about that woman. She sat on a small, straight-back wooden chair. Her feet were probably crammed into something stiff and pointed. Yes, I know . . . not so different from today's fashionable shoes. But at least today we have a choice. One hundred and fifty years ago, what did people do for soft??

I love soft. I dress fairly casually for work, but even so, when I get home at night I can't wait to change into something soft. Fleece is my friend. I have a throw on the loveseat, and another in my car for winter. I have great affection for my bed and its airy mounds of down. On coldest nights I sleep in cashmere, courtesy of the Salvation Army. Did you know that cashmere sweaters come out of the washer and dryer marvelously fluffy? Try it—with the $2 variety you find at a thrift shop.

So I'm thinking our Civil War ancestors had down pillows (or feathers, more likely), but for the most part their clothing scratched, poked, pinched, and strangled them. It's no wonder the North and South turned on one another; they were probably perpetually irritated. And just maybe the South resented the North for its cooler, and therefore more comfortable temperatures. It isn't as though southerners were able to wear shorts in summer.

We've had the Iron Age and all that . . . maybe we're living in the Microfiber Age. The Age of Soft. And isn't that a pleasure.