Sunday, August 27, 2006

Childhood Poems

A line from a poem I had learned in childhood kept circling through my mind yesterday, so finally I typed it into Google and came up with this. Reading it refreshed my memory--for I once had it by heart--and also brought freshly to mind the two battered little books of childrens' poems that my mother would read from at bedtime. They had lost their bindings and become loosely-folded pages by the time we out-grew those nightly sessions. Reading this poem was like seeing the face of an old friend.

Kitten's Night Thoughts

When human folk put out the light
And think they've made it dark as night,
A pussycat sees every bit
As well as when the lights are lit.

When human folk have gone upstairs
And shed their skins and said their prayers,
And there is no one to annoy,
Then Pussy may her life enjoy.

No human hands to pinch or slap,
Or rub her fur against the nap,
Or throw cold water from a pail,
Or make a handle of her tail.

And so you will not think it wrong,
When she can play the whole night long,
With no one to disturb her play,
That pussy goes to bed by day.

--Oliver Heford (1863-1935)


Of course, the list of casual abuses described in the third verse gives me pause and as a small child I was aghast at the very idea of pinching my cats. But I suppose the poet meant it as a subtle rebuke with the subtext of "If you little bastards weren't so mean to Kitty, maybe she would want to play with you during the day..." It does provide the child with an idea of what sort of behavior Kitty does not appreciate and probably was instructive in that regard.

I searched for another favorite but couldn't find it on-line. It goes like this:

Little Tiger Cat with the spotted face,
Do you think you’ve found a baby-jungle place?
Going through the grass, stealthily and slow,
Are you waiting to jump out and scare the folks you know?
And send them running to the house as fast as they can go?
Little Tiger Cat, it’s no use at all,
No matter what you think yourself, you’re rather tame and small,
And with all your hiding and your stem contemplation,
You cannot scare a single one of high or low station,
And so, there’s no use trying to be like your wild relation.

--Annette Wynne


Isn't it funny how those poems we learn as children stick with us forever?

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ETA--Thanks to Ken L. for sending me the complete lyrics of the poem!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Morning

A misty morning that feels very much like autumn....

I'm working the opening shift, after working the closing one last night. We call this a "short turn-around" and this means I got about four hours of sleep last night. I woke about a half-hour before I intended to, to the sound of Bunny retching above my head.

Nothing will bring me out of a sound sleep faster than the sound of a cat puking. I jumped up, crying, "Not on the bed!" and hustled Bunny off my pillow and onto the floor beside the bed before she brought anything up. Bunny is still suffering from vestibular syndrome and so is a bit dizzy and disoriented--on top of being blind--so I steadied her with my hand while she hacked up a couple bits of white foam. Poor thing. If she still has an upset tummy when I get home this afternoon, I will give her a sliver of Pepcid, but out of consideration for her liver, I don't want to give her any more medication than is necessary.

Anyway, the commotion woke Denny up and he promptly went and fetched coffee, so any hope I had of snuggling back in for another few minutes of sleep was abandoned. An hour later, I shambled out of the house into the morning dimness and headed into town. The morning was overcast and wet, with scatter spits of rain. The weather is supposed to improve slightly this afternoon, but as is typical for this season of changes, one wild, warm, wet storm will follow another up the Aleutians to die in southcentral Alaska.

Despite having to get up before I really want to, the opening shifts on Sunday aren't that bad. The traffic is light--and this in a summer that we are remarking is not very busy--and no one is moving too early, so I can count yesterday's traffic over coffee and pull myself together undisturbed.

If it is so quiet now, at the peak of summer, imagine how quiet things will be in a month.

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Musical Taste Meme

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My Day

In the flurry of my shared time-off with Denny, I vowed to myself that my first day off after Denny went back to work would be a "me" day--just me doing what I wanted to do. Don't mistake--the time shared with Denny was fun and productive but gosh--who doesn't look forward to a day to just laze around with no pressure to "get things done?"

Of course, with the cats, there is always a portion of my time that is dedicated to what must be done to make them comfortable (clean cat boxes) and keep them healthy (fresh water and food, insulin for Toby John, fluids for Dinky, pain-management medication for Tiny, other medications as needed...) But I consider that sort of like living on a farm--there just are certain chores that have to be done every day regardless of how you feel. Not even when I was sick in bed with the flu for two weeks (in January) did I let the cat-duties slide too much.

But I had toyed with the idea of getting up early and driving north up the Sterling Highway with the video camera and one of the film cameras, taking photos or video of some of the scenic places, etc. Maybe exploring some of the sideroads that we always by-pass on our way to someplace else. Then stopping to eat in Kenai or Soldotna and shopping at the stores there.

This idea took for granted it would be a gorgeous day.

Well, the remnants of an old tropical storm rolled in yesterday just as I was getting off work and by the time I got home, it was raining sideways. The winds abated overnight but it is still overcast/misty with occasional rain today--not good driving weather, much less suitable for photographing scenery. So I decided to stay home and knock about the house today.

I spent most of the morning catching up on my blog- and email-reading and folding laundry. As I surfed the 'net, I was repeatedly distracted by the birds outside, visiting the hanging feeders and the plywood area on top of the wood pile where I spread sunflower seeds. With this year's young now adult-sized and active, there was a fascinating variety of nuthatches, chickadees, juncos, sparrows and finches outside the window, swirling about and acting on their little rivalries. I took a few photos of the activites, and just watched and enjoyed other things--like the nuthatch who was trying to figure out how to get at the seeds in the hanging feeder. He perched atop the globe, pecking impotently at the seeds he could see through the plastic until--after watching some of the more experienced birds--he got the idea and awkwardly landed at the bottom of the feeder.

I am only about two loads from having the upstairs table cleared. I also decided to open a bit more space in the little upstairs sitting room by moving the table over to the wall. Once I figured that the boxes that house the feral cats during the day would fit under the table, there didn't seem any reason to have so much floor space taken up with a table we can rarely sit at.


As usual, I found this while looking for something else and got caught up in reading it:

Another tourist's visit to Alaska...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Dinky

After all these months of steady improvement, I am allowing myself to relax just a tiny bit regarding Dinky's chronic kidney failure. I can't quite make myself believe that she will "get over it" but she is doing well and looks as good as she ever has, so maybe we can coax a few good years out of her. Keeping in mind that she could "crash" at any time, we live-- for now--in what William Carlos Williams described as the enlightened period between the explosion and the shockwave.

And what guarentees do we ever have, anyway? There is always only just today, so I greet each new day that we have our spunky little calico with gratitude.

When Dink was first diagnosed with chrionic renal failure, I was very upset. I searched the internet for information and joined a large mailing list for support. I found people in silimar straits who were dosing their cats with a variety of medications and supplements. One site offered twelve different treatments to help their cat limp along. You can find a lot of information on the internet, but I have learned to use my own best judgement. Each case is different and there are some opinionated folk who will insist that the treatment they have devised for their cat is the only way to go, and some will even attack you (verbally) if you don't follow their advice--accusing you of not caring for your cat. Cat-folk can be a hard-headed and passionate lot.

I guess I am lucky in that Dinky is fairly young (12 years) and very healthy. In time, I came to see that the single most important thing I could do for her was administer her daily fluids. That and a daily vitamin supplement is what her daily treatment consists of. I feed the dry science Diet k/d in the bowls upstairs--where she does most of her eating--but opinion is divided as to the value of a low protein diet. She gets her wet food (Friskies) with everyone else in the evening, anyway. As I said, her numbers have been steadily improving since Spring. Sure, there is more I could do in treating her--but I am not convinced it would be an improvement. "Treat the cat--not the numbers" was the best advice I picked up on-line about treating cat illness. The cat is looking and feeling good. There may be a time to bring in the heavy guns later, but I'm not going to mess with success at this point.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Vacation

Sticking my head up out of the delicious fog that is a summer vacation to update on the break-neck pace of life in Southcentral Alaska .

Our houseguests left Thursday, so of course our weather has improved. Two sunny days in a row! Well, yesterday started out foggy with occasional rain but the clouds dissipated in the early afternoon. Despite the mist and rain, the air was so warm it had to have been tropical in origin, so I guess the typhoon season has started. Since then, it has been clear and sunny but I have no doubt we will soon have our familiar gusty, wet late-summer weather to remind us that winter is coming.

We drove to Anchorage on Thursday--both to deposit our guests at the Anchorage airport for their return flight to California and to see a dental specialist to complete my root canal. (It seems I have calcified canals in some of my teeth.)

After tending to those tasks, we went to Costco for some half-hearted shopping. The prospect of "going to the big city" always seems to loom larger in the mind than the actual experience. Part of it is my prosaic husband. I wouldn't mind hitting some special stores--bookshops, music or video stores, clothing, etc. Then maybe have a nice lunch at a Mexican place or one of the nicer franchise restaurants. But Denny seems focused on Sam's Club, Costco and maybe--if he has the need--a marine or auto parts store. Loading case lots of cat food and kitty litter on a large, unwieldy cart is not my idea of shopping fun.

Also, as soon as I was dropped off at the dentist, Denny and the guests went out and got some lunch. So he wasn't hungry by the time he picked me up, while I was lusting after a hamburger. I dropped a few hints on the way to Costco that went over his head. While we were waiting in line to check out, he pointed out the cheap little fast food stand in the store: hot dogs, pizza slices, etc. I observed that they didn't have hamburgers.

"Oh, would you like a hamburger? Let's see if we can find you something..." Something that wouldn't take us too far from the straight-shot from Costco to the Seward Highway, of course. Which seriously limited our options.

While I gazed longingly at the various food franchises on the opposite side of Dimond Boulevard, Denny quickly dismissed any possibilities on our side of the divided highway. The nearby Burger King was "nasty" and when we spotted a McDonald's, his whole tone of voice implied all manner of reservations about anyone who would willingly eat one of their burgers. In fairness, I had to agree--the typical thin, rubbery patty of meat with that noxious sauce nestle amid a meager offering of wilted lettuce and soft, tasteless tomato wasn't what I was longing for. It would take a real restaurant to provide what I was lusting after and it became apparent that it would take more whining and wheedling than I was up for to get that from Denny, who wasn't hungry and wanted to hit the road.

Oh, but there was a Subway nearby and for some reason, Denny is into Subway sandwiches, so guess what I got? It wasn't a burger and while it was sustenance, it wasn't the eating pleasure I had hoped for. (As far as cold sandwiches go, I prefer those that Arby's makes.)

But that's Denny--if it isn't fast and cheap, he doesn't have much use for it--at least as far as "eating out" is concerned. But the disappointment wasn't worth complaining about. Denny has many great qualities and being careful with money is hardly a fault. Honestly, I wasn't likely to find a burger that brought as much delight to my mouth as one I could make for myself at home would do. So I'll just make myself some burgers at home to scratch this culinary itch.

The drive home was wet and windy until we got on the south side of Turnagain pass--then it was just showery. We managed to get home before 8 pm so the whole expedition took less than twelve hours. My tooth was pretty excited by the time we got home, so I took one of Denny's pain pills and sleep very well. I filled a prescription for my own pills on Friday. They aren't as powerful but then, I don't need to take a two-hour nap every time I feel a twinge either.