Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sixty Days of Night

Today is the last sunrise in Barrow until January 23, 2005.

Down at this end of Alaska, daylight is present but shrinking. The sun was up for seven hours and twenty-eight minutes today. We are losing four minutes and some odd seconds of daylight each day.


I have been working myself pretty hard these past few days--carrying both Denny in his post-op status and Johnny in his final decline. Denny has been a good patient--I am the one who is always asking if he is comfortable, if he needs water or more ice for his knee. I get up earlier than I like in order to make and fetch coffee for him. Then, when I wake up myself, I will bring Johnny upstairs to sit with us on the bed while we watch our morning programs. That's when I give him his fluids.

I am burned out on death, yet I can't give up on Johnny, though I know at this point it is just a matter of waiting and keeping him comfortable. So many sweet and funny memories revolve around this worn-out tabby cat. From his very first day with us, he wasn't what I thought I wanted--but in so many ways, he turned out to be just what I needed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Up in the dark under gently falling snow to drive the eighty miles to the hospital in Soldotna. The highway was one long corridor of night with only occasional glimpses of homes or buildings to the side.

The hours of darkness seem timeless in this season. I have spent so much of my life at these latitudes that darkness doesn't bother me. There is something comforting, sheltering in the long darkness, like being in the womb. I am so accustomed to doing daytime activities without the sun that I don't even think about it. It is like living on a space station, or the moon.

It is with a pang of sadness that I realized that Johnny will never see the sun again. Our comfort-loving kitty-boy went blind at the end of summer and now his final decline has begun. he is locked in a darkness that leads irrevocably to the last endless night.

He has been much in my thoughts of course. There is no question that I love him. He gives so much love back, who could help but love him? But my sadness for his loss has less of the visceral tug that Newt's death caused me. There is part of me that feels it only proper that he and Newt should soon be together--they were such devoted companions in life.

But fond memories of our sweet-natured boy are already flooding my thoughts in advance of his death, a sort of pre-mourning. I know his end will be a release for him. I know he is worn out. He has been such a steady presence in our house for all these years that I haven't yet grasped the emptiness his loss will bring.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Thursday, November 11, 2004

And Back Into Autumn...

40 degrees
No snow on the ground

So, two days of rain and we are back into the waning days of autumn. Bare, dead grass and soggy ground.

I took advantage of the break in the weather to put another half-bale of hay in the cat run and run an electric cord out to the Christmas trees, just to test and see how many lights still work. I plugged it in briefly after dark and it looked encouraging--lots of lights. I'll do a more detailed check later but at least I know that the basic connections are intact.

Johnny keeps doing better. He is eating a bit now and usually not in his bed during the day. We bring him upstairs so he can sit with us in the mornings and evenings--it's sort of nice to re-connect with him now, at the end of his life. He doesn't want to stand still for the fluids, so I haven't been able to give him much--but we brought one of the fountains in from the shop for him and he is drinking more on his own.

Dare I hope he hangs in for a couple more months?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

It Kinda Looks Like Christmas...

5 inches of snow on the ground (3 1/2 inches new)
28 degrees

Almost overnight we have been catapulted from late autumn into winter. The town wears winter like a cozy coat and holiday lights are suddenly in evidence.


I thought this was a gripping episode, hearkening back to Seasons One and Two. Although what the mother did *was* horrible, I did like how the question of responsibility was raised. Ignoring (or discounting) the mother's post-partum depression may not have been criminally negligent, but there is no doubt how the detectives (and writers) felt about the issue. I thought the episode treated a highly emotional case with compassion and intelligence.

I also felt that there was less emphasis on Bobby's sometimes off-the-wall deductions and more concrete, plausible detective work in this one. I wasn't left asking myself, "How did he come up with that?"--which gets frustrating after a while. It's nice to be able to follow along and see where Bobby is coming from.

The subtle personal touches were nice, too. Eames--the new mother--was insightful and passionate. And I had to wonder how close the scenario of being left home alone with a psychologically-troubled mother hit Bobby. He showed insight and sensitivity in dealing with the surviving son. Adam's predicament surely seemed to draw some empathy from him. I was reminded of several of the first season's episodes where Bobby first revealed his gentle touch with children--though it also seemed as though Bobby was a bit more--I dunno--"shut in" in this episode--as if the stresses of the last three years have subtly changed him. He just seemed a bit more open and innocent in his interactions with children in the first season.

And even though her crime was horrible, he handled the mother with gentleness. His anger was saved for the father. (It's good to see the old fire and passion in the interrogation room again.)

Although the person Bobby and Alex considered truly guilty of the crime went free, I was also glad to see that the son had a chance of escaping his father's social engineering. Sometimes the guilty aren't punished--and it lends credence to the show when this happens--but the hope of a better future for the son was emotionally satisfying for the viewer.

Friday, November 05, 2004

2 inches of snow on the ground
9 degrees

Winter has come in this week, beginning with last Sunday evening's snowfall.

It was light and had almost vanished by the time a second storm blew through the area on Wednesday and left us with about two inches of snow and temperatures well below freezing.


We got some fluids for Johnny yesterday and I gave him some last night and again this morning. They seem to have helped him a bit--he asked to come out of the cage today and wandered myopically around downstairs while I cleaned his cage and set out fresh water and food for him. The fluids won't avert the inevitable but if he has just hit a rough patch, they will buoy him through it--and if he is on his final decline, they will float him for a while until he gives out.

What is important to us is that he looks and seems to feel better.

Monday, November 01, 2004


I had to finally admit to myself yesterday that Johnny is dying. It is a hard realization to face.

His appetite has dropped markedly off in the past day or two, no matter how I coax him and I suspect he isn't drinking much water, either, as his output is down as well. He is alert and affectionate--last night I took him upstairs and he laid on the bed with us for a while before I took him back down to the cage and tried to interest him in some food. I put a freshly-washed Kitty Cup bed in the cage for him and he settled into it but had no interest in food.

Tonight I will try to get a little food and water down him but it has been my experience that once they loose interest in eating, they are ready to die. It's as if his body knows there isn't any point in prolonging things.

I know on one level that he has had a long life and that his time is nearly over, but I am still bummed out about it. He has been a part of our household since our earliest days of living here--like Newt was. It hasn't been quite a year since Newt left us. Johnny will be with her soon.