Thursday, June 30, 2005


Several of my cats have come down with the "itchy-awfuls" over the past month or so. Pickle Boy was the worst--scabs and a few bald patches that seem due to him pulling his own fur own in an attempt to stop itching. He never goes outside and we have no fleas. I spent hours flea-combing him and the others just to make sure there are no insects on him. I gave him a bath which made him soft and silky but didn't stop his scratching. Three of the four boys in the back have this and a couple of the house cats are showing signs of a milder form of the same thing.

I am leaning now toward an allergic reaction of some sort. I started feeding Felidae dry food about two months ago, and I also started using scented fabric softener about the same time. I think I will re-wash the cat bedding without any extras in the wash and see if that helps.

I suspect I will need to haul Pickle's poor scabby ass into the vet to get a reliable diagnosis. I feel guilty doing that because the vet clinic is short-staffed and some folks in town are waiting a week or more for an appointment but for some reason they always try to get me in the day I call. I guess I should be flattered. I wonder if it is because they 1) know we have deep pockets, 2) know I don't usually bother them about trivial stuff or 3) know we are very steady customers. I just don't like jumping ahead of others who are waiting with what may be more serious problems.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I realized that it is not entirely a coincidence that those who were closest to Vincent during his foray into cyberspace are the ones who have taken the biggest step backward from internet-based fan groups.

Now that Elizabeth D'Onofrio has made an appearance on line, she is attracting a veritable feeding frenzy of stalkers, nut-jobs and fans in thinly-veiled attempts to use her to get closer to her brother.

I trust they will find him as frustratingly elusive as ever.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


I felt a bit better after talking to Denny last night, though my thoughts were still distracted by Lena's absence. I trusted to her unfailing equinimity to see her through a night in strange surroundings and hoped that I wasn't forced to leave her at the clinic until Monday.

Despite my usual lofty plans to get something done after work, I ended up going to bed about a quarter to eleven. I shut Frannie in with BeBe and left Pickle in with his bros, hoping that if he felt the need for comfort in Frannie's absence, Clarence would feel free to crawl in with us on the bed. He came by briefly to visit but spent the night with his sisters in the kitty condo.

When I woke at six-ish, I could hear Frannie crying downstairs. Deciding to have pity on her, I went down and let her out. Clarence chose that time to make a dash for upstairs so Frannie was sort of de facto chasing him, though I don't think that had been her intention. I shouted and waved my arms, successfully distracting her. She ran into the boy's room to wait for me to regain my senses, so I closed the bedroom door to shut her in with us ("us" being the usual bedroom crowd of me, Punkin, Bunny and Dinky) so I could sleep in a bit more without having to break up any skirmishes.

I figured the vet clinic wouldn't call until after nine at the earliest, so I slept in until 8:30 then got up, put BeBe outside in his cage (we really need to build him a cat run this summer) and made coffee. There is always more to do than time to do it. I ended up reading email out on the mezzanine and up-dating my Family History files. Then, about ten-o-clock I decided to call the vet clinic and leave a message--if only to remind them that they had Lena and we missed her. Also, I didn't want to wait until it was too late for me to pick her up if she was to be released today.

I started to leave my message when Ralph picked up the phone. He said he was just about ready to call me so I threw on some clothes and headed down to town to pick up my kitty-girl.

No one answered when I rang the bell, so I tried the front door and found it unlocked. I went in, calling Hello? but got no reply, so wandered back into the work area. Lena was in her carrier sitting on a stainless table. I opened the door and began rubbing her head. She seemed happy to see me, rubbing her face against my hands and purring. I kept rubbing her while Ralph came in and gave me some take-home instructions. On the way home, I opened the carrier and Lena came out and stretched out against me on the seat. I could feel her quiet little purr all the way home.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Newt was very much on my mind today. With thought of her came the sadness and regrets. In the year-and-a-half since she has gone, I have convinced myself that she wasn't ready to go--that she would have preferred to die at home. I berate myself for my decision, wishing I could un-do the past. I worry the heartache like a painful tooth, second- and third-guessing myself and wishing I could have one more chance to live her last day again. Knowing she is forever beyond my reach.

The thing is--I *know* I did the best I could at the time. It's just that I find my thoughts get so muddled by emotion when the end approaches. I know Newt was getting too weak to walk. I know she was collapsing getting in and out of the litterbox. I also know she would have hated being dirty or making messes--she was such a fastidious and competent little cat.


Maybe most of all, I just miss her. We had a special relationship--not as intense as Kisa and not as flamboyant as Punkin, but there was a bond of love and devotion and respect between us. Ah, yes--the love, the thousands of kisses with her hot, busy little tongue on my hands--her fierce purr. She had that quiet intensity--not showy or demanding--just there, solid as the earth beneath my feet.

I guess it surprises me that after all these months, the pain is still so fresh, the grief so keen. I haven't stopped missing her and I can feel my love for her well up from inside, a deep wave of longing and sorrow. I moped around depressed most of the morning and shortly before I left for work, I went out to the greenhouse and picked some violas, then braved the wet horsetails and grasses to visit her grave for a moment. So much love buried in the back lot, all those sad reminders of the ones who have gone on. I dropped a flower on Kisa's grave--forever first in my heart--then put the rest on the stone that marks Newt's resting place.
I know I should be grateful that I had them for how-ever-long, that I shared life and love with them. But this part hurts like hell...


Just as I was about to pick up my keys and walk out the door, the vet clinic called, wondering if I could drop Lena off. I had called about getting an appointment for her--her troubles at "the south pole" have been going on too long and have not responded to our best efforts. I had started to wonder if she had ruptured or abcessed anal glands or some kind of nasty bladder infection. Whatever it is was beyond my skill at diagnosing or treating. The clinic is so busy, I thought I had best get in line for an appointment before too much more time passed. To be allowed to bring her in and drop her off was more than I hoped for. Poor Lena got crammed in a carrier and was out the door before she had time to really react to what was going on. I had about six minutes at the clinic to discuss her situation with the receptionist and then the doctor, then I had to head to work. The question of when I could get her back was left up in the air.

I managed to make it into work on time despite discovering yet another hazard to road navigation--getting behind a student driver. Just when I had thought I had braved everything...

I half-expected to hear from the clinic in the afternoon. I kept calling home and checking to see if they had left a message. I was worried about all the possible bad things that her symptoms might betray. I beat myself up for not taking her in to see the vet sooner--then told myself she hadn't been acting sick--she had been eating good and not vomiting or anything like that. I fretted and worried as the hours stretched into evening, trying to draw comfort from the thought that if she was truly in a bad way, Ralph would have undoubtedly called me by now. Still, I had to resign myself to the idea of leaving her at the clinic overnight.

The prospect of going home without Lena gave me a pang. With so many, you wouldn't think that I would notice one missing but the mother hen in me wants all my babies in one safe place at the end of day. Seperation is physically painful. My longing for Lena that made me call home one more time from my cell in the car, just in case they had left a message, then I drove slowly through the parking lot of the veterinary clinic--just in case--but no one was stirring. Good night, sweet Lena, I thought as I turned the car toward home. I'll come to get you as soon as I can...

I hate going home without one of our kitties...


If anyone had noticed Lena missing at home, they gave no indication. You'd think that as popular as she is with all the youngsters, someone would be craning their necks around corners looking for her. That's okay, I'm missing her enough for everyone.

I went upstairs to change my clothes and saw a brown-gray bulk out back. A moose was stripping the leaves off the young alders growing along the edge of the deck. I walked up to the patio door for a better look and there was a little brown moose calf off to one side, attempting to mimic its mother's action. Barely had this registered than I saw a second baby moose off to the other side of the group, toward the path down to the back yard.

We always seem to have baby moose in the summer, though it seemed early this year. Well, the swallows came back three weeks early--I guess the moose can get a jump on the season as well. I was surprised to see the moose calves munching down on the alder leaves and other greenry; I would have thought they subsisted on milk for the first few months of their lives. But I don't know that much about hooved mammals--at least not as much as I know about felines. I guess it would be in their best interest to learn to eat vegetation as soon as they can.

I used this happy sight as an excuse to call Denny. As I shared the news with him, I suddenly gasped: "The baby moose are eating my flowers!"

One of the little guys had wandered over to the greenhouse area where I had set out some flowers to harden off. As he nuzzled the asters, his twin ambled up to partake as well. Not my flowers! I opened the bedroom window and yelled at them--got their mother's attention but didn't seem to faze the babies.

"You're going to have to move the flowers up on the deck," Denny laughed. Yeah--he can laugh--he doesn't know how much money I sank into flowers this

"That's probably the same moose that had you treed last year," he teased.

"Well, it's not like I'd recognize her," I said.

It's always good to see the first calves of the year, to know our yard is still a safe place for them. I chatted with Denny, watching the moose until their mom rounded them up and started up the hill, probably to bed down for the night up in the trees behind the Harvey's place. Then I said good night to him and went outside to move my poor flowers onto the deck.

There hadn't been as much damage to the flowers as I had feared--perhaps seven or so blossoms gone. Just a vigorous pruning. As I gazed around (have to make sure the moose was really gone) I noticed a rainbow in the clouds off to the east, soft colors against the gray remnants of rainshowers, ultraviolet to infrared.

Somehow, in the half hour I had been home, my sense of loss and my worries for Lena had been eased.