Tuesday, January 31, 2006

After a too long break from writing anything new (as opposed to cutting up and polishing bits of previously written stuff), I sat down this morning to do a little research on the programs of study at the CofC. One of the characters is matriculating there and I realized that I know nothing about what he hopes to become, other than free of his current responsibilities.

But this is how research goes in my household. I sit down, I have my cup 'o coffee at hand. I plug in to Google. There is a soft tapping at the side of my leg. It is Sutu, asking in his ever so polite way if he might be of assistance. Sutu does not lay down in my lap. He sits up, leaning back against my chest so that I have to look either left or right around his head to see the screen.

Suddenly, Thor lands in the center of the keyboard, sending my search to some random website which will probably land me on the Homeland Security watch list. (Honest, it was the kitten!) Sutu leaps straight up then out, his tail catching the side of the coffee cup which I grab for before it sloshes all over the keyboard. Thor walks off the keyboard on to my lap where he does not curl up sweetly. No, Thor must lie sideways, one hind foot pressed in to my sternum, one front paw hooked in to my forearm, and his head sideways off the chair, through the arm. I am expected to position my arms to support him in this preferred state of being. Problem is, I can't type at the same time. So I turn him. He nibbles. He stretches out again, so I push him throught the arm of the chair on to the floor. He hops up on the desk and tries to knock over the coffee. Repeat as often as necessary for him to get bored.

I go toss out my cold coffee, return to the computer, find the webpage I was looking at and begin again. A faint sqeaking noise is all the warning I get before Loki (all ELEVEN pounds of him - I weighed him last night) lands on my lap. Now Loki will curl up in a nice warm purring ball of fur perfectly balanced in the center of my lap. I continue on with my work. Then Loki decides that he would really be much happier if only he could be licking my thumb. So he reaches out, hooks his claws in to the meat of my left hand and pulls it toward him. I very politely tell him that I need that hand to type with. Loki is, if anything, accomodating, he allows me to put my hand back on the keyboard. Then he crawls up and lays across the board to lick my thumb.

I need a door for this room.

Monday, January 30, 2006

My mother used to have two huge boxes of clothing patterns under her bed. Literally thousands of them. She would go to the upper-end department stores and browse around until she found something she liked. She would then sketch it out, take the drawing home and pull out those boxes. This is the collar. This is the front panel. This is the sleeve. When she was done you would never know she made it at home.

I inherited the in-the-cabinet Singer sewing machine upon which she created those carbon copies. I did not in any stretch of imagination inherit the talent. I can sew square stuff. Curtains. Quilts. Maybe a scrub top.

But I loved the IDEA of that sewing machine. I loved that every time I sat down and began the complicated series of manuevers required to simply thread it, I could see from the corner of my eye a little ghost. A little blond haired ghost of myself at four or five, standing impatiently as my designer Barbie doll clothes came to life under the whirling needle.

The sound of its engine, like the purr of a cat, was soothing. The faint smell of dust burning in the friction of the needle, the bright spotlight that lit up the stage of creation, my mother's hands, sure and brave, fingertips guiding fabric right up to the very edge of the needle. It was like watching a ballet.

That old Singer sewing machine, which must be closing in on fifty years old by now, is still going. Or it would be if the foot pedal hadn't fried itself. It had been repaired twice before and there is no coming back again. I'm hoping I can find a replacement. I'm hoping I can keep the old machine going. I won't be able to make Barbie doll clothes for any grandkids I may have some day (way, way WAY in the future, Danny, I know you are reading this!!).

But I could make some quilts. Or some curtains for their rooms.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

When I was at the vet with Loki the other day, I said to Chad the Vet, "Hey, about that amazing shrinking cat of mine. I just happen to be in posession of some unused prednisone. What do you think a short little blast of that would do for him?"

He got out Super Slat's lab results, looked 'em over and said, "Let's try it."

This morning I gave him his fourth dose in a row (5 mg once a day for five days, then 5mg every other day for five doses). I think it's doing him some good because he fought like hell this time. The kittens were spazzing out (because of course, they'd run up to stick their little kitten noses in Sutu's bidness), Sutu was spazzing out, it took me four tries to get it down his dang throat. But I only have one scratch on my thumb. I consider that a successful pill launch.

Also, when Chad was showing me the big eighty dollar blood test results, there was one that was sky high. I mean in the 800's (should be in the 0 range)
sky high. I said, "What the hell is that?"

Turns out it was the same lab, CK-something, I have forgotten most adult-centered labs. It's what they check for in humans to see if you've had a heart attack. Chad said he thought Slat's was so high because of muscle wasting. The cat ran through all his non-essential fat and was now losing muscle.

I stewed over that for a while, then Friday I went to the big giant pet store and wandered around, looking for something to make my cat not only get fat, but to regain his muscle. I couldn't find anything. Then a tiny little section caught my eye. Cat milk replacement. They even had colostrum (the "first" milk). As I was standing there, my glasses perched at the very tip of my nose, squinting at the label (NO! I have NOT gotten my damned bifocals YET!), I found the answer.
Right there on the label, it had instructions for "convalescening cats". I checked the nutritional label. High in protein.

I don't know if it's my imagination or wishful thinking, but he does seem a teeny-tiny bit heavier. And his running around the living room with the kittens last night, chasing the feather toy was certainly not my imagination.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Many years ago, I was attempting to purchase some items in a chain store which shall remain nameless. The clerk at the checkout counter was so rude to me that I put away my checkbook, told her that I had changed my mind and that I would never shop there again.

And I haven't. Not that my piddly little drops of change would mean anything to the store's bottom line. For me, it was the principle.

For Oprah, however, it is the power. Holy publishing industry Batman! Not that scumbag who wrote up a whole book of lies. That didn't surprise me by much. I'm sorry. Addicts lie. Addicts exaggerate their woes for several reasons: to pump up their non-exsistant egos (I survived 87 days in a jail cell with a mass murderer) and gain sympathy(oh, you poor baby, those mean old policeman took you to jail for your fourth DUI?) and to delude themselves into believing that they have/had a REASON to use.

Oprah can (and did) swat him like the annoying little fly he has become. The lone individual (like me and my boycott) is meaningless in the big picture. But the publishing industry. Can you imagine how they must be shaking in their booties, wondering how the wrath of Oprah will play out?

No more Oprah Book Club picks for YOU!

Oprah, I swear, I promise on the lives of my kittens that my novel is completely fiction, not a word of it is true!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Loki the Large at 8 months.
Loki went to the vet this morning. I'm telling you, I love my vet. He is the best, as is his staff. And not only because he checked out Loki's face for no charge.

But there is some swelling still in the palate, which is why he is making that funny squishy tongue smacking sound when he eats. His nose is intact, his teeth are okay. The swelling in his nose is down. In other words, he is fine.

This was also the first time he and Thor have been separated. When I put Loki in the cat carrier and shut the door, Thor gave me SUCH a look. Hey, you forgot something - ME! I almost came back for him when I saw the look on his face as we were backing out of the driveway. I don't know who was more upset, Loki for having to go or Thor for being left behind.

When we got there and went to our exam room, one of the techs peeked in and was just cooing. "Is that one of those sweet little kitties?"

"Yes," I said, pulling his fat ten pound ass out of the carrier.

"Holy Shit," she said, "No it isn't."

"Well, in the Norse legends," I said, "the God Loki was half giant. He's just trying to live up to his name."

Then the vet came in. "Holy Cow!" he said.

So I confessed. I am feeding him radioactive cat food in an attempt to grow the world's largest cat. Someone once asked me if I thought he had some Maine Coon Cat in his bloodline (although I think Norweigian Forest Cat would be more appropriate). I don't think he has either.

I think he's half mountain lion.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

We got cable internet yesterday. It's very cool. I no longer have the desire to bash the computer with a baseball bat. That, as Martha would say, is a good thing.

One of two people, neither of whom are confessing to the deed, have signed me up to read at a Monday Night Blues event. I'm not thrilled. Mainly because I have nothing to read.

Well, nothing that doesn't suck like an Electrolux that is.

So, rather than killing them both, I guess I should go try to be brilliant today. That might be a smidge more productive.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

One would think that the mighty Thor kitten would have had an emergency visit or call to the vet by now. He is, in a word, insane. He is a whirling dervish of kitten energy zooming through his life at break-neck speeds. He climbs, he jumps, he gets in to things. Like the time he was found under the kitchen sink. Or the time he accidently got locked in the linen closet for eight hours, during which he managed to climb to the top shelf. Once there, he sent several hand painted bone china tea cups and saucers (placed there for safekeeping) crashing to the floor below. Not a scratch on him. He dives in to kitten-knee deep water to watch it swirl down the drain. He leaps up on to the washing machine to swat at the water. He sneaks in to the dryer.


Loki, however, could probably get me arrested for suspected kitten abuse. When he was a wee little thing of about four months of age, he snuck out of the back room and ran between the in-motion bars of my Gazelle exercise thingie. Slammed on the backswing into the upright, a double dose to the ribs. He was fine.

Then when we were in the "maybe they can play in the fenced in back yard" phase, Loki found a wasp to play with. One big fat giant paw later, he still refuses to go near the back door if it is open.

And now, this Sunday, he was running down the hall, started in to one room, changed his mind, did a full speed twisty-turn only to SLAM the side of his nose against the doorway. He staggered a little, shook his head and swiped at his nose a few times with a paw. I checked him out, he wasn't bleeding, no obvious trauma, so I went to work. When I got home Monday morning, he was sneezing, dripping from the one nostril and had a watery eye. His poor little nose was all swollen up. So I called the vet. They are used to me by now.

The tech asked me if he was eating. I said, this is Loki, the ten pound ten month old "kitten". He'd eat if his tongue had fallen out. But yes, eating, drinking. Clear fluid dripping. Diagnosis: he might have broken his nose. What to do? Call if he gets worse.

I hate that. I hate sick/injured kittens. They can't TELL you their symptoms. It gives me a stomach ache.

But this morning, he is bright eyed, playing, eating (of course) and drinking. Still sneezing. Not quite as drippy. Still got a fat nose. I guess he is going to be okay.

I'm telling ya, for a cat that does nothing, he sure gets in to a lot of trouble.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I certainly hope the first nineteen days of this year are no indication of how the rest of the year is going to go.

Infected throat ulcer.

Mom in hospital.

Computer died.

Perhaps it is looking up. My root canal and crown turned out to be only a crown. I'm still pretty much in the post-traumatic stress zone though. All that drilling! Damn, my muscles are sore already from the one big knot I was. Two doses of novacaine. Two hours in the chair. And one big fat hefty bill for the pleasure.


Good news. I have officially changed my name back to my maiden name which is six letters shorter, able to be pronounced by even SC public education graduates, and much less ethnic. I'm happy.

And now that most of the novacaine has worn off and I'm not in agonizing pain, I'm happier even still. Perhaps the luck tide is changing.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is it Thursday already? Sheesh. Good news, I took my mom home from the hospital today. She was getting grumpy so I knew she was feeling better. Now I'm trying to catch up on an entire week's worth of chores.

Which reminds me. I took Sutu the Amazing Scaredy Cat to the vet on Tuesday and he had lost more weight. Down to 7.4 pounds! They did some full organ system blood work that checks for everything. I need to call to check on results.

Plus I went to the dentist today and have to go back next Thursday for a root canal and a crown. Let's just jump right in, shall we? Actually I prefer that, get the hard stuff over with right away.

I shall try to be more entertaining next week.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I woke up at five pm Sunday to the news that my brother had taken my mom to the emergency room and she was being admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and a suspected blood clot in her lung.

It's now six-thirty pm Monday and except for one or two drift-offs on the broken chair bed in her room, I have been awake pretty much the entire time. So forgive me if my mind roams.

Good news. No clot. Bad news the doctor on call for her doctor didn't have priveledges at "my" hospital so she is cross town. I'm not to thrilled. Mostly that in the entire 14 hours I was there yesterday and over night, only one person actually laid a stethescope on my mother and listened to her pneumonia having lungs. There is more, but that's not what is really bothering me.

Pneumonia. They call the old man's friend because it is supposedly a quiet way to die. You just drift away.

And it isn't about recognizing the mortality of all mankind. I'm not naive. I'm not young enough to not look at it. Not with my own hair turning white and my joints starting to creak and my eye doc handing me a prescription for bifocals.

It's just scary because it was always some distant future. But time is running short now and every time something like this happens, it makes me realize it. My mother is 70 years old. In great health other than this current thing, but still. Seventy.

Do I realistically have more than another ten years with her?

When my grandparents died, I was late teens/early twenties. I don't remember wondering how my mom handled it. I just assumed she was a grown up and knew what to do.

Now I'm the grown up. And I'm not sure I know what to do.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Well, I was certainly overjoyed this morning to read the news and discover that my old pal Pat Robertson has turned over a new leaf in this new year.

Yes good old Pat, Jesus' self proclaimed spokesman on earth must have spent the Holiday Season (that is a JOKE, dude!) brushing up on what Jesus actually taught.

So it just warms the cockles of my heart to see that instead of casually suggesting that the cold blooded murder of another human being would be in Pat's view, a good thing to do, this year Pat is really trying to apply those principles of love and forgiveness and caring that Jesus told us about.

In leui of murder, in honor of this new found love of all mankind, Pat is now simply simpering with glee and placing all the glory to God because another human being suffered a massive stroke and is struggling for his very life.

I guess next time one of his faithful viewers (and donators) writes or calls in to the 700 Club Prayer Hotline, they better not be requesting prayer for a loved one who suffered a stroke, because obviously, God is in charge of those personally and if you get one, you probably deserved it. Right Pat?

Jesus must be so proud.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

One of my New Year resolutions has begun. I made an appointment with a dentist highly recommended by a work buddy.

When I told the secretary that she was my resolution, she was very impressed and pointed out that I had made it within the first week of the New Year. I like that sassy, almost sarcasism. Makes me feel at home.

The dentist is going to love me. He's gonna peek in there and see $$$$$$$$ dancing before his eyes. The hygienist on the other hand is going to hate me. I'm sorry. I'm afraid of dentists.

Not have to take a valium and get laughing gas afraid. Just getting started afraid. Once my butt is in the chair, I can deal. It's just putting it there.

See when I was young and we were very poor, my mom would take us to this free dental clinic. If the cavity was shallow enough, they would drill with no novacaine. I was old enough to know that if they had misjudged, it would hurt a whole heck of a lot (insert memories of "Marathon Man" here, "Is it safe?" Whirrrrrrrrrrrr!)

Can you say a wee touch 'o post traumatic stress?

But hey, maybe if I play it right, I CAN get some valium!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Day one and a half of antibiotics for a secondary throat infection, possibly an uclerated spot way too far down the throat for my doc to see and I felt good enough to go to the grocery store for a supply run.

As a rule, I don't make a grocery list. It's one of the ways I comfort myself that I'm doing okay. Now, if there are things I absolutely need and am afraid I'll forget, I'll write them down.

Jason and I got on the subject once and he told me a story of (I think it was) a professor he had in college. The man had had a hard scrabble rise to his position and a student asked him when did he know he was going to be alright.

The professor said it was when he could go in to the grocery store and buy what he wanted.

I can dig it. For too many years I took a list of exactly what I needed to make exactly how many meals until the next paycheck. I would have 25, maybe 30 dollars. As I put an item in my cart, I'd write down the rounded up price next to it on the list. When I was done, I'd get out the calculator and add it all up, not forgetting to factor in the sales tax (which should be abolished on food!).

Sometimes I had to put things back. Sometimes I could buy a pack of store-brand cookies for a treat.

It's a draining way to live.

So now I wander the aisles, looking at everything, trying what look goods, getting what I need and what I want.

I'm one of the fortunate ones and I try to remember that.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I will be the first to admit that Thor is a weird cat. But he has always been within normal cat weirdness boundaries. Okay, well that could be argued, but not too far outside those boundaries.

But now he has developed a fascination with my toothbrush or maybe the toothpaste. You have to understand, he always comes running at full speed when he hears the sink faucet turn on. He can be heard thundering down the hall moments before he leaps on to the edge of the sink to stick his head in the water as he bats at the stream swirling down the drain. So I wasn't too concerned the first time he put his front paws on my arm to sniff at the toothbrush. It's one of those twirling vibrating ones and I thought he was attracted to the noise.

No. He reached up and hooked the end of the brush, almost pulling it out of my hand so he could try to lick the toothpaste.

Ick. Now, I kiss my kittens. Not on the lips, but on their little noses and heads. But having a cat lick my toothbrush while I'm using it? Even I won't go that far.

And Thor being Thor, a simple "no" will not suffice. He does not get it. So I moved. He followed. He is relentless. He is the Thor-minator who will not stop until the toothbrush is his.

My choices boiled down to a) let him lick, b) brush my teeth while running from room to room so he couldn't climb me, or c) lock him out of the bathroom.

I choose c. But now have to endure the scratching and meowing and the poor pathetic looking little paw reaching for me under the door. The pouts. The looks. The twitchy tail and pulled back ears.

For Pete's Sake!

Monday, January 02, 2006

It's just not fair.

Jason gets a sore throat, four days later he is fine.

I get a sore throat. A few days later, it moves to that scratchy, itchy throat feeling, then I spend three days with no voice and not that sexy Demi Moore type no voice, but the whiskey drinking, non-filtered cigarette smoking truck stop waitress no voice.

But instead of getting better, I go down again and now have what feels like truck stop waitress's cigarette being put out on one specific spot in my throat.

That can't be good. So I break down and call my doctor. Office is closed for the holiday. Marvy.

Good news is the yummy buttery Chardonnay that my bud Michelle got me for Christmas is numbing it up just fine. Maybe it'll kill what ever germy is lurking down there too.

Happy New Year!