Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday Morning Blahs

What a long night. I would sleep maybe 40 minutes at a stretch, then get up (and getting up ain't easy), wander around a while, get back in bed (again, not easy), lather, rinse, repeat.

There is a lot on my mind but none of it is new, none of it is particularly remarkable.

There is pain, unremarkable pain. There is spasticity, funky jumpy spasticity. There is something that doesn't qualify as pain -- not discomfort, no, it's more mobile than your ordinary "oh my..." It shoots by; It pivots, twists, turns; It burns.

Visual trickery drags my mood down low -- When I wake and turn on the light, the lamp goes in and out of focus, is confusing, has no depth. That's what is happening more and more -- a loss of light, a loss of depth. I did not realize how much we depend on depth in the not-so-simple activity of identifying the things around us, the familiar things we don't have to mull much over... usually. In the last few days, I have not been able to identify the following: an overhead fan, a foot, a pillow.

I am having great fun, however, with the many misreadings I make of novels, blogs, instructions, and even traffic signage.  (Not to worry, I am not driving.)  Sometimes it is fun to just go with the misperception -- very revealing, too, as all is supplied by one's own errant brain. 

Not today, though.
It's raining, a little on the cool side. It is early, even for me, and my eyes are so messed up that subjecting them to close reading seems cruel and pointless.
Besides, someone needs to use this Flip Video thingy. 
Hmm, let's see.  I'm not dressed, Fred is still abed, and I don't hear any Domestic Staff bustling around.  It's just me and the cats.  Hmmmmmm.

How are the cats these days, you ask?  (And aren't you the Sweet One!)  In the ongoing battle with our environment here in this wing of Marlinspike Hall, we are making a concerted effort to wean The Extant Felines {{waving to Sam-I-Am, my Heaven-based liege lord}} from their habit of scratching furniture.  In our wisdom, we decided this would best be achieved by eliminating even the whiff of boredom from their daily fare.

Since, absent Sammy, they are a familial unit, there's not too much rivalry among them, it's mostly a matter of not letting them succomb to ennui. Marmy Fluffy Butt and Uncle Kitty Big Balls (a.k.a. Little Boy) are siblings. Marmy rules, but only because she went through the fiery initiation of surviving on the street for eight months, the last weeks with a hell of a big belly on her tiny frame -- a belly full of kittens. We don't know what she went through out there, but it wasn't sweetness and light. So what Marmy wants, Marmy gets.

She has done the proverbial 180 since Sammy died. Suddenly, I was her greatest find since kibble. There are nights when it is *precisely* Miss Marmy Fluffy Butt's doing that I fail to sleep, for she must be attached to me, on top of me, head-butting me, murmuring her *ack*-*ack*s and staring, with great intent, deep into my burning red eyes.

                                              Ms. Marmy Fluffy Butt, Sister to Uncle Kitty Big Balls, Mother to Dobby

We have a relationship based on Attention Paid to Marmy, Marmy's Grooming, BellyRubs of Marmy, and, most of all, Whispered Expressions of Admiration for Marmy.  She does not much like boys of any sort, lacks -- completely -- maternal instincts, and is about as blatantly manipulative as they come.

She's a hard girl to love, and her delight at having Master SamWise disappear from her competitive world did nothing to endear her.  Of all the group, she is the most strange, estranged, separate.  But then she will go and do something silly, and most all her hardness is forgiven.  Lately, that has been her wild trips on slippery new floors, trips begun back in Fred's work room, full speed achieved while weaving her way through our tiny wing's living quarters, dodging tables, leaping over rugs, sliding under the odd davenport, sling-shotting her way around tight corners, and slamming on the brakes about 15 feet from the book case packed with old, soft paperbacks...  Chin in the air, paws prancing, a red glint peeking out the corner of an eye, she accepts your admiration, your glee at her uninjured state, then she goes all cartoon on you again, and reverses direction...

We are not sure she realizes that she is mother to Dobby. It doesn't matter.  He is, in any event, acceptable to her as a playmate from time to time.  She has been known to slap him silly for no discernable reason, behavior that makes her a frequent object of his contemplation.  He is a forgiving little soul, is Dobby.

He was the runt of the litter.  Marmy, in fact, had just up and quit the birthing process with Dobby's arrival in the queue.  Fred delivered him -- she took no interest.  We were convinced he'd never make it, as his contrary nature showed itself from the very beginning.  He would bypass a teat in favor of climbing as high as possible and often ended up perched on her confused head while his sisters and brothers gorged on milk.  Like most runts, he could be found either excluded and alone, or surrounded and smushed at the bottom of a pile-o'-kittens.  He was the one who promptly fell off the bed, thought the litter box a fine place to sleep... oh, and he was the one who was fascinated by the great big cat, Sammy.  Very David and Goliath.  A weeks old kitten purring at the hissing, wild-eyed (terrified) grown boy.

[Sammy was so afraid of Marmy and her kittens that we had to CARRY him past them in order to get him to the litter box.]

So, of course, Dobby and Sam-I-Am became best buddies, and spent most of their time together, sleeping and playing.  It was wonderful to witness how Sammy grew into himself at long last with the help of this weird little star-faced runt.

Dobby and Sam-I-Am

Dobby definitely rules the roost without knowing it.  His needs are easy to meet, his desires mostly reasonable. 

He still spends several hours each evening looking for Sammy, going from room to room, calling.  We try our best to distract him but lately it has started to piss me off.  I don't want to think about a dead cat every evening.  I don't want to repeatedly comfort this little manipulative elf, not when it drags me down to do it.  Anyway...

We haven't filmed it yet -- but we will.  One of Dobby's massage sessions.  They are... um... weird.  Fred started it when he was but a gaseous kitten and now The Dobster insists upon it several times a day.  What?  Well, I guess you could call it an intestinal rub, a very deep tissue massage.  He promptly assumes the position, a sort of intense in-folding, living origami.  It looks, frankly, like a sexual torture session, except that there is no genital contact, no sexual overtone, undertone, nada.  Just a strange, wild-eyed look upon a feline's face while his body contorts with painful pleasure.

If you can keep your hand from cramping, at about the 5-minute mark, the little guy usually falls asleep.

Uncle Kitty Big Balls, Dobby's uncle, has made a remarkable recovery from the sorry state he was in at the beginning of his stay here at Marlinspike Hall.  Mostly bald with weeping sores, severely underweight, abscessed -- he lost most of one foot and just generally had a tough time.

I had refused to allow his adoption at the time we took his preggers sister Marmy in -- he looked rough and mean.  Plus he didn't like me.  He loved Fred.  Didn't like me one bit. 

Convinced he would do well as a sort of "neighborhood cat," I chose to ignore his obvious love affair with Fred.  You could hear Fred crooning to him as they sat by the moat late at night in the warm summer months.  Then he disappeared.  The cat, not Fred.  Without discussing it, we each concluded that he must have been hit by a car...

Last April, I was hanging out in the ICU, being lazy, letting a ventilator do the hard work of breathing, when Fred charged into the unit and announced that he had something vitally important to discuss with me.

"He wants to turn off the machines and let me die...  Hmm.  Wait a minute.  I thought I was doing better!
Oh, God, he's having an affair..."

No, it was the cat.  "He's back!  It's a miracle!  I am going to trap him and take him to the vet.  I want to adopt him.  I know it is extra work, extra vet costs.  I will take care of him... I'll pay the difference... blahblahblah." 

What did I care?  I was on a freaking respirator.

So Uncle Kitty Big Balls began his own private medical odyssey while I eventually got back to my stunning baseline, and we both came "home" on the same day -- me from the fancy-schmancy medical center, and he from the vet.

He's a gentle soul, it turns out, and so content just being warm, dry, and fed.  If you add affection and the familial predilection for the tummy rub, he's ecstatic with joy.

He went, however, from underfed and sickly-looking to overfed and excessively corpular.  Robust.  I call him El Gordo when Fred is not around.  He clearly has plans for avoiding any future episodes of hunger.  Because he sincerely seems hungry and because feeding three cats is enough of a headache already without individualizing one of those diets... we aren't putting him on a diet.  Per se.

I found the perfect thing:  The PetSafe SlimCat Food Distributor Ball, Blue.  $5.65 at Amazon.  What could be better than a food-based exercise program?

So I introduced this new bit of higher education to the Extant Felines this morning... and this is what, ummm, "happened":  

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