Monday, June 29, 2009

I Heart Lucy or The Keystone Cops performed by one inept woman

I just reread my last blog about what a serene and reflective and luscious day I was having on Wednesday. Note to self: do not enter blogs about the day until the day is over. After that idyllic morning, here's what happened. I got up from the couch and swung my foot into the base of the coffee table, spraining the middle toe on my left foot, which bruised almost immediately, although in truth I might have had twenty toes throbbing for all the resonating pain I was experiencing. I hobbled to the computer to take my mind off it by doing a little work. Still in my robe, sitting there trying to figure out why iphoto kept seizing up, I was thinking that force quitting a program several times a day was probably not a good sign. Then the phone rang. My friend Lee informed me we were not shooting rehearsal that night, but only dress rehearsal thursday as the set was not yet ready. As we talked, the doorbell rang and Shadow morphed into Cujo. I hastily told Lee I'd be right back and dashed to see who was at the door. It was the locksmith trying to deliver a receipt and keys for a job he'd finished the day before. Shadow apparently did not remember the locksmith fondly. Grabbing Shadow by the collar I pulled her out the sliding door onto the deck where I could fasten her to a cable until the locksmith left. I did all this in bare feet, having learned nothing from the stubbed toe incident an hour earlier.

One step onto the deck and I slammed a huge sliver - sliver????- no, chunk of wood into the bottom of the same foot. Yowling in pain I grabbed the keys and receipt from the locksmith, while yelling: Sorry! Thanks! and hobbled to the computer room, hung up on Lee and just rocked and whimpered for a minute. Then I called my neighbor Bridget and asked if she'd remove a splinter for me. I put on some jeans and a tee shirt and got myself next door. Everything at this point was moving in slow motion because all I wanted in the world was for Bridget to pull that tree trunk out of the sole of my foot. She, of course, was formulating a plan as to how to do this, recalling how her father would run through the house yelling "surgery!" when he had to remove a splinter from her when she was a child. I had carried over my faithful Uncle Bill's brand tweasers but Bridget didn't even acknowledge them. She got out the mega tweesers that I'm quite sure would not even be called "tweasers" if they were hanging out in a bar for implements of a surgical nature. They'd probably be called BubbaBoyPointyHead. They looked about 8 inches long which is never comforting when an implement is metal and being directed towards an injured part of one's anatomy. But BubbaBoyPointyHead wasn't going anywhere without DaSlicer. Bridget's husband Jake got home just in time to assist. Bridget had cleared with me the necessity of slicing the skin along the top of the sliver before trying to remove it as it was "so big" that she felt it couldn't just be pulled out without a larger opening to exit. Jake found some sort of razor blade in the garage which he kept assuring us was clean and only needed to be sterilized. Bridget held a flame to it and then very neatly made the cut (her Dad would be very proud I'm sure) and after a couple of grabs got a good grip on the tree, er splinter, and pulled it out. She cleaned it up with an alcohol wipe, very thoroughly and I told her she was a really good Mom and I had needed one that day. I thanked her and went home, much relieved. As I left, Bridget was thinking of calling her Dad. I guess the memories of "surgery" were making her a little verklempt.

I went home and called Lee to tell him all my screaming was not for anything life threatening. As we laughed about my foibles he said "did both injuries happen to the same foot?" "Yeah," said I, then "Damn! I've just set the good foot down in some fresh cat vomit." Laughter is the best medicine, right? Even when you're wiping cat vomit off your "good" foot?

There was a tiny speck left under the skin, but I hoped it was nothing or would just fade away or work its way out, if it was a bit of wood. It has not so far done that. And I haven't been for a walk since. When I get up in the a.m. it seems not to hurt. Until I walk around a bit. It's beginning to feel larger. I'm not sure what that means except that I am going to call the doc in the a.m. and see if I can get in and have the speck removed. I'm sick of not walking Shadow. I miss it! I am not looking forward to the doc reopening this wound and digging around in there but it's got to be done, I guess.

May I not have another "I Love Lucy" or Keystone Cops day for a really really long time! May you not, either!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sea breezes and kittenish Cats

Our perfect summer days have tiptoed temporarily out the back door. We're back to a chill wind and overcast sky. Often as not in summer, later in the day, the sun will make an appearance and we will traipse along outside, through northwest beauty, in comfort once more. This morning the little bells hung from eaves and branches around the yard are ringing steadily in the wind and I just realized that I have developed a morning routine:
* Rise.
* Clean up cat vomit;
*gather Lucy and Lisa's dishes;
*wipe up food covering the floor around Lisa's dish;
*wipe the floor itself;
*carry dishes to kitchen,wash them, refill them, put them back down.
*Feed Gracie, Smoky & PJ.
*Lock the boys in the bathroom so Gracie doesn't eat too much.
*Feed Shadow.
*Take her out back to do her business - clean that up.
*Brief check of email.
*Back to bed if possible, to read a little bit and pet the ancient cats who live in the bedroom.

Today I was able to do that, go back to bed. Lisa had lapped up water but ignored the new food, I think, though she may have helped Lucy with her plate. Nowhere in sight, Lisa Miranda was likely curled up in the little cat-bed under my bed as is her habit for part of the day. Later she will ensconce herself up near the pillows and be quite annoyed - except for getting whatever petting she desires - when evening comes and I am in her way again.

But Lucy is always ready for a visit and some ritualized petting. I say ritualized because she walks in circles around me, almost invariably, as I pet her. When I come back to bed this morning she is on the window sill. She walks over to the Dolly (which I put in that window each day) and pushes her off the sill, peering over the edge to see Dolly hit the floor. She is satisfied. Her big job of the day is done. Then she leaps to the bed and allows me to pet her lovely gray fur.

I'm reading an interview with Mary Oliver, about the generative process of making her poems, and it occurs to me that I am living somewhat as she does. Except going out into nature is not the first part of the day for me. Being with what passes for nature (and relationship) in my house, is my daily spark to consciousness and being present in this world. Later, Shadow and I will walk 2-4 miles, pulling inspiration and plain good exercise from the experience. But for the moment I am content right here, with the little bells clanging in the breeze which meanders up from North Beach and pours in the bedroom window.

I never saw the ocean until I was thirty. In my fifties in Virginia I drove forty minutes to sit on a beach and breathe that healing moist air. Now at 61, though I can't afford waterfront luxury, the sea air sometimes finds its way to my bedroom. Last night it helped me drift off to sleep and it greets me again this morning- how lucky am I? Very.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lucy Fur, aka, Fang

My son Ian rescued Lucy from an island in Long Island Sound where her mother, a stray, bore two kittens in a stone building, dubbed "the castle," which Sarah Lawrence College's crew team used for boat storage. When he realized that the island regularly flooded, he figured that the mother cat likely wouldn't have time to get two kittens safely across the bridge to the mainland. So when they were weaned he tried to catch them both but only could snag one.

Ian had driven a couple of hours to deliver her to me at the vet's office so I could get her checked out and bring her home safely among the rest of our fur family until we got her adopted. She was, I think, a couple of months old. He walked through the door and approached me holding out the box as if he was presenting me with the crown jewels. I have always been taken by that delicacy and strength in one motion, when one hands over something reluctantly, while feeling the weight of some mandate to do it. In this case I had told him it was unfair to keep her in his dorm, illegally, until she was grown past kitten-cute and then hand her off to be adopted. Of course he knew that was a reasonable assessment. And I certainly couldn't take on another cat, already having Paws, Sheba, Puff, Spike and Lisa Miranda.

When I looked into the box all I could say was: "She's mine." There was no way I could adopt that kitten out and I could see why Ian wanted to keep her with him as long as he could get away with it. She didn't so much look like a kitten as a block of deep rich gray fur. She was completely irresistable. The vet tech took her in back to do blood work but was gone an awfully long time. When I asked at the desk what was going on they said: "Everyone back there wants to get their hands on that fur." She was healthy except for a hernia and now I can't remember if we got it fixed immediately or waited a bit and maybe they did it at six months when they neutered her.

I lived in the big log house at that time, with five other cats, the youngest of which were Ian's Spike and Bill's Lisa Miranda, each about four years old. Lisa and Spike had had trouble integrating into the family of cats. Paws had tumbled each of them across the floor when they approached him. Sheba and Puff hissed them away. So tiny Lucy had her work cut out for her - at her age she was bound to try and bond with one of them. Her last try was successful, sort of, when Lisa allowed her to follow her everywhere, quite closely. I saw no affection between them but at least the little one had someone to shadow.

Now they are 19 and 15 and live in my bedroom and bathroom, in chosen isolation from three Virginia cats I adopted despite the Connecticut girls' objections. But they are the queens who sleep in my bed and next to, if not often touching, one another. And of the two of them, Lucy has become the cuddle cat. She spoons and cuddles me so delicately that she is a constant comfort without ever causing me discomfort. It occurred to me today that I have been preparing myself for months for Lisa's death as she has flirted with it and is a walking skinny mass of matts. But Lucy? I have not even considered her leaving. Yet this morning I began to worry that this little "cold" she's had is not only not getting better but is suddenly much worse. The sneezing became very frequent and the runny nose downright disgusting. It sounded difficult for her to breathe. I called. They could get us in at two. Which really means about three, so we sat in the office for nearly an hour. Then Dr. Tony looked at her and quickly said "here it is. She's broken her tooth. Must have got it caught in something." "But what!" said I "What on earth could she break a tooth on in my bedroom?"

"Anything" replied Tony, "caught in a bit of cloth, the bedspread...." I was shocked to see her proud little fang hanging loose. "It's infected her sinus" Dr. Tony said, "We've got to put her under and get it out of there and get her on some antibiotics."

I felt like a child. I had failed her, not noticed the dangling fang. Not been there when she was caught and struggling. And I'd told her in the car not to worry. I'd said we would just get some meds and drive right back home. Promised I wouldn't leave her. The normally silent girl was meowing loudly and none too happily. We'd be home soon, I promised again. Now I felt panicked at leaving her because everything I'd thought and said had been wrong. And I think that was the first moment I realized that I won't have her forever. I want to delay our parting as long as possible, which of course meant I had to let go of her right that moment so she could get the help she needs.

So here I am about to go to bed without Lucy for the first time in fifteen years. All I can think of is whether she's sleeping. Or crying and frightened. Did they do it after hours tonight or will she be sedated in the morning? Will I be able to bring her home early tomorrow? One thing I do know is that I am anxious to have her curled up beside me again. But even better will be if her impish side comes back quickly. Even feeling lousy she had done her daily devilishness yesterday. I'd found the old woman cloth doll on the floor, her hat torn off, her yarn hair a mess, her neck starting to separate from her body, her shawl flung aside. The little cloth lamb had been tossed off the shelf too. But in a new twist, my antique hat pin holder was in the laundry basket and all the pins were helter skelter. So, yeah, I think even more than cuddling, I want to see that spunk back. It reminds me she was feral when she was found and is still a little wild thing inside, despite our shared contented sleep. Sleep well tonight Lucy. Deb's coming back for you. I promise.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Never never never take a chance when bone tired

The first oddball thing that went wrong today was that I reached into my purse and came out with a handful of hand lotion. A tiny bottle of it, in the bottom of my purse, had unscrewed its own lid (okay, maybe I shouldn't swing my purse around?) and the lotion was now coating all the contents of the purse. So I stopped what I was doing, emptied the bag, wiped off what could be saved and tossed the rest. Thank goodness the camera seemed okay. Then I plunged the purse into the bathroom sink with water and Woolite. Fast forward to the end of a day that began with a fire truck and two ambulances idling outside my bedroom at 6 a.m. ( my neighbor had a heart attack but is resting at the hospital now and expected to improve) and ended with a three or four mile hike. I still have a ton of work ahead of me to prepare to leave five cats and a dog and gardens for a few days during a heat wave, but I decided all I could manage tonight was to change the cat litter and vacuum.

When I finished the pans in my bathroom I noticed the purse, squeezed it out and began filling the sink to rinse it while I went to the kitchen to wash up the feeble 19 year old cat's dishes and bring her fresh food.

You already know, don't you? Yes. This sink does not have a safety drain feature. Yes, it ran over. The floor was flooded.My hairdryer, hanging on the side of the vanity, had water running through it. And worst of all, the vanity itself was full of water, cabinet and drawers.

Now a bag of ruined stuff is in the garbage - and really, hadn't I meant to get rid of those tampons these seven long years since menopause ended? The rest is spread all over the bathroom and bedroom, drying out. I had no idea I had accumulated so much bandaging material and so many spare toothbrushes. Not to mention little travel items like a tiny box of Q-tips - they really do absorb a lot of water.

I believe I need ice cream and sleep. Maybe I can rise "early" and get done what needs doing and take off for Seattle just a bit late. Of course I have no idea if I'm bussing it or driving because I don't know if the bridge is repaired and open yet. But I'm going to take a wild guess here and say I'll be driving the scenic route along the Hood Canal. And after all, isn't that a great start to a little holiday?

Friendship that works

So, today I invited my aforementioned friend for a long walk. He sounded happy to hear from me and eager to join me and Shadow, which was a relief to me. I had let the gossip about us rattle me but he sounded like himself, so maybe it was all going to be okay. We walked to the beach on a trail he'd not been on before, which was fun. And he threw a stick for Shadow to swim for, then we walked back up through the woods to the idyllic overlook on the bluff and sat down to rest. He didn't need a rest, but I'm walking more than usual and I certainly did need one. There in the grass I screwed up my courage and asked him: "Have you been getting asked the sorts of questions I'm being asked?" And so it all came out and he seemed genuinely surprised about it. As we talked, all of my anxiety, clearly born out of a fear of losing my friend over gossip, melted away. We shared disappointment about the folks who'd invited me to dinner, then uninvited me. My friend said: "So what they were saying, in effect, was that they don't believe you." And I felt his empathy. It was a cleansing, energizing moment for me. I felt more myself again, confident that I know who I am and who my friend is and that no matter what people say, the truth is the truth.

When we got back to my place I suggested we go out for a bite..." Are you sure you want to be seen with me?" he asked. Oh yes I did. Oh yes I do. I said that at this point I feel so empowered I rather want to flaunt our friendship. We sat at a window table in a restaurant in the center of town. Over dinner we talked about many things, as we often do, and this time spoke of the fact that we have each always been drawn to and comfortable having close friendships with the opposite sex. He said maybe when he is seen with someone else out and about that will take care of the situation. But then I realized, and had to laugh out loud about this, that then the gossips will feel sorry for me because in their minds I will have been ditched for another woman! There is absolutely no way I come out of this unscathed in the minds of these people. They have decided what they believe is going on so any change will have to reflect the story they already believe. How completely obvious is it that one cannot do a thing about the thoughts of others? The only thing to do is let go of it and go about continuing to be true to who I am.

After dinner I went up to his place and we shared some leftover chocolate birthday cake I'd made him along with delicious strawberry rhubarb sauce he'd made, a scrumptious combination. Then I drove us here, we visited a few minutes more and he rode his bike home and called me to share some news about a serendipitous contact from an old girlfriend. Because who do you call when interesting things happen? You call a friend.