Archive for July, 2007

No Good Deed

On my way home Friday night, I saw a woman struggling with a full rolling cart and a box precariously balanced on top. She was pushing it down the sidewalk, but having difficulty getting it over cracks, etc. I asked if she needed help.

“Help?”, she looked at me hopefully. (English was obviously her second language, but she knew much more English than I know anything else.)

“I can help.” I said. I pointed to the box, and offered to carry it.

She smiled broadly and pointed to the box as well. I reached over to take it, after it seemed very clear I wasn’t trying to steal it… though how anyone would manage to run off with a big bulky box, I’m not certain.

The minute I started lifting the box off the cart, I realized it was HEAVY. From the writing on the box, it seems the box once held many plastic cups – but it most certainly did not now.

The woman gestured to the public storage facility up ahead, and indicated that’s where she was headed. We started off.

“Heavy?” she asked.

“It’s not too bad.” I replied. My rapidly reddening face and wheezing breaths probably told her otherwise. Still, we managed to walk down the block, across the street, and when we were close she let me know she could take it from there.

I figure I earned about ten “good deed” points. I wonder if I can redeem them in ice cream.

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Afer, a.k.a. Lil Miss Mouser, a.k.a. Afer E. Baby, Afer E. Grannie


I adopted Afer from the shelter in January 2004. I loved Afer from the minute I began volunteering there in June 2002. She’d been at Tree House since she was 3 years old (1991). I felt I didn’t have room for any more cats, though. She was adopted by someone else in the spring of 2003. However, somehow she escaped her new home and was on the streets for months. Honestly, we had little hope for a 15 year old cat loose on the streets. However, someone found her, and through her microchip she found her way back to the shelter.

In January 2004, she spent time in the shelter’s clinic with gastro-intestinal issues. That cinched it for me. I couldn’t stand it if she spent the rest of her days in the shelter. I took her home, at age 16. She’s flourished. She gets night crazies, and loves her catnip mouse. She loves to put the “younger girls” in their place, if they act up. (I do feel bad for the girls, but it’s so hard not to laugh at a little gray Afer E. Grannie all puffed up and looking like a little old woman with a walker whose hitting a hoodlum on the head with her purse.)

Afer loves to be brushed and petted, and will do “kitty yoga”, practically doing handstands her butt gets so high. She’s still nervous of being picked up or restrained, but we’re working on that. She’s doing extremely well, considering within her first week here I had medicate her. She likes to play with pom pom balls, her catnip mouse, catnip pillows, and plastic rings. She also enjoys napping in a donut bed, or watching the world from a windowsill.

Afer was diagnosed with kidney disease in August 2004. Fortunately, with treatment her values are staying fairly stable. I took Afer to the emergency vet clinic Christmas Eve, 2006 with labored breathing. She had 145 cc’s of fluid drained from her chest. She was able to come home Christmas Day. A visit to a cardiologist showed nothing significant – minor heart issues and very small nodules on her liver (too small to biopsy). So far, the fluid hasn’t recurred.

In May of 2007, she had a vestibular episode secondary to an ear infection. (It counts among the scariest moments of my life. I saw her begin rolling violently on the floor and just started screaming and crying as I tried to hold her so she wouldn’t hurt herself.) Once again, she amazed us all with a speedy and complete recovery! Go Afer!


Update: Sadly, I lost Afer October 10, 2008 to congestive heart failure.

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Fender Bender

I guess my car, almost three-years-old-to-me, is officially broken in now.

Friday night I took some cat food to a customer, enjoyed an ice cream at his shop, and went to Trader Joe’s. I was driving home, down a busy 4-lane street, when suddenly this guy yabbering away on a cell phone, who was parked on the side of the street, pulls his dog out of the car into the street. It’s a large dog – I’m no “dog expert”, but it looks like maybe a bull mastiff mix or something along those lines. The dog is totally out of control. He’s on a leash, but a long one, and guy has no control whatsoever over the dog – a situation that isn’t helped by the fact he’s still blathering away on his cell phone. So basically the man pulls the dog right out into the street, in front of my car.

I SLAM on my brakes. OMG, I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared driving in my life, and I’ve had some fairly horrific accidents. The dog disappears in front of my car – the guy is STILL yabbering away on his cell phone while simultaneously yanking away at the leash… I didn’t think I hit the dog – but then the driver behind me plows into my car and I’m thinking OMG, OMG, the DOG!!!!

The idiot guy pulls his dog over – the dog seems okay, thank God.

So, I pull ahead and over to the side, and the woman who hit me did the same. I’m totally shook up and she is too… I get out and ask if she’s okay. She does the same, then says “let me check on my kids” and checks on her two little girls in the car. They’re okay. (I didn’t see them well, but they seemed shooken up, but okay.) The woman comes back, and we look over and the JERK WHO CAUSED THE ACCIDENT IS CROSSING THE STREET, TAKING HIS DOG INTO THE PARK FOR A FRICKING WALK!

Woman starts yelling at him: “Hey! Hey!”, but he just keeps going. She yells at him “BE CAREFUL!” He ignores her.

I was still shaken up as we looked over our cars, etc. I didn’t think to get the JERK’S license plate or anything. We convinced ourselves everything was okay (my bumper only slightly nicked and her SUV’s front bumper and license plate only banged up a bit) and I drove home a mess.

Once I was done being scared I was just ANGRY AS HECK.

Poor dog with such an ignorant JERK owner.

The whole situation could have been SO easily avoided if he’d just pulled his dog out on the sidewalk side – taken a few extra seconds to walk around the car…. or at least held on to the dog’s collar as he pulled him out of the car!

Some people are MUCH too stupid to be allowed to have pets… or cars… or cell phones.

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I walked my usual route home tonight, past little old neighbor man’s (LONM) house. He was waiting. He hadn’t seen me in a week, and let me know he’d waited until nearly 8 pm for me on Friday. I’d worked late, couldn’t be helped.
He had two cucumbers for me, fresh off the vine.
He wanted to cut me some flowers (phlox). So, I accompanied him as he ran with scissors (large ones) to the back yard. Okay, he didn’t run. I just tease him that he runs with scissors. He walks with them. He does point them outward, and as he talks with his hands he is guilty of waving scissors about in what seems an unsafe manner.
So, he cut me a bouquet of phlox, taking care to select the ones he thought were nicest, and choosing some of each color.
As we were walking back to the front yard, he pointed out some other plants. He noted they were mint. He asked if I’d tasted it before. I’ve tasted mint, but not right out of a garden. We had it growing up, and I remember enjoying the scent of it, but I don’t recall ever eating it. He plucked some and offered it to me.
I don’t generally eat anything right out of a garden. I prefer to wash it a bit. Gardens are homes to insects and animals and all kinds of “nature” that I prefer not to ingest. He told me to eat it.
“Now?” I asked.
“Yes, now, just eat it.” LONM said.
“Like, eat the leaves?” I asked, still looking at it, thinking I could see the dirt and maybe a bug…
“Well, just chew on it a bit, you can spit it out after you taste it.” He replied.
I stared at it some more.
LONM took it, and with a “Like this” he chomped off a big chunk of it and chewed away.
He then plucked another clump and offered it to me. Like a kid that couldn’t refuse a dare, I bit into it. ACK! Not good. Not good at all! I chewed unhappily. When he told me I could spit, I did so. However, spitting out a bunch of chewed up leaves isn’t like spitting a piece of gum. There were bits of leaves all over in my mouth, impossible to spit out. Blech.
I thanked him and walked home.
Several sodas, spicy Indian food, and a popsicle later, I think I’m getting rid of the nasty mint taste.
Meanwhile, my phlox are making the kitchen smell quite lovely.
I’ll eat the cucumbers later. After the mint escapade, I’m not keen on eating more produce tonight.

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Omaha goes by many names: Omie, Omie da Great, Omie da Terrible, Omie overalls, Ohama bin Peein, even Bubba.

I thought Omaha was adorable, although a bit intimidating at over 20 pounds, from the minute I met him when I began volunteering at Tree House Animal Foundation in June 2002. Because of my initial fear, I began brushing him with the “magic pink brush” rather than petting. Turned out he liked being brushed – on the head only. He’d clean his front feet while I brushed his head. Gradually, I worked up to brushing his body. He began looking forward to our “beauty appointments”. I started trying to sneak some pets into our brushing sessions. Then, I began sitting on the floor and sometimes he’d crawl into my lap, nuzzle his head in, and purr. (Too precious!)

At the end of 2002, I began noticing his fur falling out in big clumps and scabs on his skin. I felt so bad for him! Asked the clinic supervisor, and she said he got these “hot spots” on occasion. Oatmeal shampoo baths helped, but it was hard for clinic personnel to find the time to bathe him every week. Meanwhile, Omaha’s best friend, Michelle, left Tree House. I don’t know if it was because he wasn’t feeling well, or he missed Michelle, but I noticed a change in his behavior. It seemed like he’d either just be lying there, seemingly not interested in anything… or would follow me from room to room and not want to leave my side.

I decided to take him home as my birthday present in February 2003. He was 13 years old. It took him about an hour to get over his “what is this?” frights… after being at the shelter 9 years, he wasn’t sure what to think of this! But he quickly got over it, and purred up a storm in his new bed. He was inseparable from me at first, and would follow me from room to room and cry for me. He’s still my best buddy, and always is waiting at the door when I come home, and follows me around- although not all the time now.

He scared the heck out of everyone at the vet’s office, and most guests in my home… but he was a big teddy bear for me. He’d lost a little weight, and was doing pretty well. In June 2004, his arthritis was getting worse, and he was beginning to have trouble supporting his weight with his back legs. Thankfully, someone referred me to Dr. Swanson, a holisitic vet and acupuncturist. After only two treatments, Omaha was *running*! After more, he was “bounding” up the stairs on occasion, chasing the other cats again, and twice I’ve even caught him standing on his back legs (with his front paws on a window or a bench)!

In 2005, I learned the benefits of a grain-free diet and got Omaha off the Lite dry food completely and onto a grain-free wet food (canned and homemade). The weight started to come off more rapidly than I could ever have imagined! Better yet, instead of only 1/8 cup of dry food twice a day, and being constantly hungry, Omaha could eat all the wet food he wanted. By October 2005 he was down to 14.5 pounds, by June 2007 he was under 12 pounds! You can learn more at CatInfo.org. Recent studies all show that a low-carbohydrate diet more effectively treats both obesity and diabetes.

Omie is very territorial, and unfortunately for me that meant he feels he needs to mark his house – and ME – with urine to let everyone know we are his. After complaining to a good friend that I was losing sleep as Omaha bin Peein would sometimes urinate on me while I slept (meaning I had to wake, change bedding, change pajamas, etc.), the friend suggested I get him some “stud britches”. I tried a few different brands and finally found Joybies overalls. They work great, and Omie doesn’t seem to mind wearing them in the least.

In 2007, he was diagnosed as hyper-thyroid and was treated by radioactive iodine treatment. It was a long week for me, as I waited for him to finish his quarantine – I lost a lot of sleep. Another good friend suggested I send a small box with Omie, for him to hide in while caged, and that worked well. The veterinary assistant even reported he would let her pet him for a minute on the head.

Omaha’s very intelligent and knows a lot of words. He plays games with me (like “get the mail” and “attack of the great white tiger”), and is a real joy in my life. He hates the song Space Cowboy by ‘N Sync and will scream “NOOOO!” if I play it and put his paw over my mouth if I sing it to him.

Unfortunately, I lost Omaha on October 14, 2008 to something neurological.

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My washing machine is broken. Oh, it turns on. It even sloshes the laundry around in dirty water. But, that dirty water won’t drain out, and I’m left with VERY wet dirty laundry. (As opposed to slightly dirty dry laundry.) A service call is scheduled – but my cat Omaha is on his last pair of clean pants, so an alternative had to be found – and the options seemed to be hand-washing Omie’s pants (and eventually some of my own) or heading to the coin laundry.

So, I went to the laundromat on Sunday afternoon. As I feared, the laundromat was NOT air conditioned. It was HOT. There was a single pitiful fan, but all it did was blow hot air around the room. It was the hottest day so far this summer, and I was dripping with sweat.

I haven’t been to a laundromat in a long time. It’s been about 10 years since I used any coin laundry, and it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve been in a public laundromat. Prices have increased. I naively assumed it’d be 75 cents a load – like it was years ago. Not even close. $1.50 per load for the top-loading machines. Apparently now washing machines are all ranked by size and pounds of laundry they will clean (as if I had weighed my laundry before going there) and the washing machine prices ranged from $1.50 to $4.00 per load. My pocketfull of quarters was not going to cut it.

No one seemed to mind the sweaty crazy cat lady washing tiny little cat overalls. Everyone tended to their own business. I brought a book, so I didn’t have to watch “Fresh Prince” in Spanish.

Unfortunately there were no dryers available when my wash was finished. I opted to lug the very heavy wet laundry home and dry it there. (My dryer still works.)

So, I have clean laundry and Omie has clean pants. (Why Omie wears pants is another story…)

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The aftermath

So, I’ve been MIA as I’ve been tackling the soggy mess that was once my basement. This weekend, two GREAT friends came and helped. It’s not finished, but it’s almost there. I had three bins full plus piles of garbage next to them – and more by the house that just wouldn’t fit in the alley. I ordered pizza and we had veggies and dip and Mudd Pie ice cream pie. (It took me a while to realize the irony of my dessert choice.)

I lost a few items that are irreplacable – pictures and other memoirs. But not many.

I lost a lot of inventory, and a lot of stuff that honestly I can live without. My air cleaner seems ruined – won’t even turn on. My washing machine isn’t working properly. The drywall might have issues, as may the flooring (linoleum tiles).

However, I actually feel upbeat. It’s a tremendous relief to no longer be faced with the daunting task of dealing with it all. As I said, it’s not done – but it’s nearly there. A few more items to clean, some more laundry to do, floors to be mopped for the fourth time, walls to be sprayed with bleach… it can all be done, and needn’t be done tonight, or even this week.

I owe those friends BIG time – like if my kidneys were in better shape, I’d save one for them.

So, I hope to get back to blogging soon – as I know you’re all dying to know what my cats have been up to! I haven’t even got all their stories up yet!

By the way: If I find out this is all a promotion stunt for Evan Almighty – I will be so peeved!!!

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