Thursday, April 5, 2012

Next to a decadent chocolate, this note

On my pillow, next to a decadent chocolate, this note:

Dear Retired Educator, You Prof-de-Rien, Vous!

Tonight, when you get depressed and down on yourself as barely qualifying as a waste of space, remember that you did the following things today:

You took care of the animals, meaning the indoor cattery.  Please leave the Petting Zoo Miniatures to the Miniature Experts. [If you are ever sorely tempted to meddle in that domain again, pause and think of Tiny Todd, who might have lived had you not mixed microscopic Egyptian adders with Barely There Anguis fragilis, the amoebic slowworms gifted to The Captain by County Clare for safekeeping. The same admonition, but larger, goes for the Gigantesque Bovines!  They are best herded and milked by classically trained teams of tireless Cistercian Brothers;  Good thing the Haddock ancestral manor has a monastery for its closest neighbor.]  

Anyway, you successfully fed Marmy Fluffy Butt, Buddy the Freakishly Large Kitten, and Dobby the Runt big bowls of basic kibble, as well as providing nutritious treats.  In fact, you catered to their every whim, giving Marmy milk-flavored crunchy nuggets, giving Buddy handfuls of restaurant grade tuna flakes, and teasing Dobby with "liver and cheese" morsels.  You watered them, twice -- a necessity because Dobby polluted the water by giving several spinach tortellini, some stolen eye drops, two yarn balls, and a paper towel a good dunk.  

You brushed all three of them, too, no mean feat.  All praise to the veterinary techs who tag-teamed Buddy last week, successfully lopping off an inch of claw, at least, per bear paw!  Otherwise, your dream of flailed flesh might have come true.  Dobby rolled from side to side from pure joy upon the presentation of a new comb, just for him, and the persistent dandruff at the base of his tail. You tended Marmy and Dobby's runny eyes, a genetic trait, apparently, identical in this mother and offspring.  Marmy hissed at you;  Dobby blew kisses. You put some serious loving on Buddy, who is distressed by his recent virgin hairball experiences.  It turns out that he is afraid of them -- of the actual hairball, itself.  He produced one, looked at it, and ran, screaming as only a Maine Coon can.

He is in a Glom Phase and is never far away -- sniffing at my peeling feet, demonstrating proper tether ball technique, exuding please-don't-abandon-me-to-the-hairballs desperation.  Such a gentle giant.

So you did well, Retired Educator, with these creatures.  Good job!  Do your remember entertaining Dobby with one of your 37 grabbers?  [Insert gratuitous cat video here]

There is more, Madame! You did two (and a half) loads of laundry.  So what if you picked up where you left off on Monday, at week's dawn?  So what if the wet clothes had been sitting all that time in the washer?  You ended up with clean clothes, clean comfy throws, and plenty of fresh and thirsty kitchen towels to throw on the floor the next time you spill water from the cat bowls.

You cleaned the microwave.  Granted, you cursed a bit too much.  There was an incident report to Haddock Family Values, Inc. but the corporate office seems enamored of results over style, so just be more careful in the future.  You may want to review some of The Captain's favorite oaths, all considered socially acceptable, such as "Parasites! Patagonians! Pestilential Pachyderm! Phylloxera! Pickled herrings! Pirates! Pithecanthropic montebanks!"

You did the dishes, three times (and another sink full awaits your attention).  This is one of the harder tasks in your repertoire of daily activities now, and you managed it without too much complaint, and, shockingly, without obscenities. Per your one plaintive request to management, we are sending, under separate cover, the explanation you requested as to "why men think they've 'done the dishes' when they wash, precisely, only those dishes that they were responsible for dirtying?"

You cleaned the stove top.  You did a lousy job.  Do it again tomorrow, and this time, use the correctly purposed grabber to reach all the oily crevasses and boiled potato smears.  

[I mean crevices. No I mean crevasses!] 

Nowhere near exhausted, you mopped the kitchen floor.  However, you then proceeded to vacuum it.  *After* mopping it, not before.  Remember the long ago afternoon in that mountain hideout of a laundromat, with your good friend Jean, the poet, who accused you of putting your dirty clothes directly into the dryer?  You folded them all nicely, piled them in your gold plastic laundry basket, and then into the hatchback before being enlightened by God's Gift to Occasional Verse.  Her poetry was derivative, and anyone who would marry their psychiatrist is clearly troubled.  Remember, too, that she threw a heavy ceramic ashtray in the general direction of your head.  {Green Glass Wings!}

You partially cleaned a bathroom.  Oh okay, you emptied the trashcan, straightened the towels, and retrieved three volumes of Will Shortz' Crossword Puzzle Toilet Omnibus from under a 20-pound ValuPak of three-quarter ply tissue. Then, of course, you vacuumed.  Apparently, when you can no longer bend like a lithesome wood nymph done up in toothsome diaphanous greens -- because, oh, I dunno, you fractured a rib, your glenoid cavity is awash in pus, and you have no knees -- the extension provided by the vacuum is more valuable than a hairless cat.  I mean, gold.  More valuable than gold.

Because we never tire of cleaning cat hair, here in Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in Tête de Hergé, do we?
[Editorial inquiry:  When was the last time you took your temperature?]

At this point, you were observed by Regional Emergency Gossip Coordinator Tante Louise as you took a short break, slaking your thirst with a generic lemon-lime diet soda.  There were several descriptions submitted to Twitter about your hair, deemed at that juncture to border on inappropriate, and judged by Tante Louise to constitute a fire hazard. 

The Crackhead Lady From Across The Way -- our local claim to fame, being a very well-known, juste comme il faut organic pig farmer -- and the inimitable Bianca Castafiore were seen a-traipsin' across the lowered drawbridge during this interlude, but have not been seen since.  Please contact REGC T. Louise with any sightings.

You went on to vacuum the rest of the Northeast Wing Manor Living Quarters.  We noted your  concentrated efforts at cleaning the new boudoir carpets ordered during the Recent Deliriums, supposed to be a rich, woven black offset with a crisp, beige diamond design.  Kudos, by the way, for your efforts to echo, par terre, the rectangular accents of color, emotion, and primordial memory hung on the walls in the form of black-framed Rothkos. 

The rug design had quickly become covered in weird speckles, however, which turned out to be a collection of massive slough-off from your Little-Old-Lady skin. After dedicating whole days to the mystery of the omnipresent white flakes, doubling and tripling the effort to keep Dobby's dandruff under control, only to learn that the stuff was falling from these hideous peeling CRPS-afflicted legs.  More incentive to clean. [Another reason to hide?]

Time enough tomorrow to ask if peeling, flaking feet are to be expected or whether some odd treatment -- a  grape jelly and duck fat marinade, perhaps -- is called for.  In the interim, flakes, flakes, flakes are everywhere.

You kept going, Dear Prof, you did not cave in to momentary defeat.  

You baked 12 muffins and three individual cakes.  Wonderful result - moist, delicious, healthy.  Bananas, apples, and raisins in a cardamom and cinnamon rich batter. A cup and a half of oats and a generous handful of oat bran.  For some reason, two eggs instead of one.  Radical time management.  Twenty minutes at 400 did not do it.  Twenty-three was perfection.

You tackled some of the mounting issues in Your Office, where it seems everything from stray straw hats to scary rocking chairs are being stored.  You finally contacted the right agency and donated the old power chair and the walker to someone who desperately needs them.  You alphabetized a few sections of books, you cleared a path through the piles of bills, at least sorting it all out into different pile categories -- now one is dedicated solely to Explanation of Benefits and another to Most Creative Collection Agencies, all superceded by the overarching category:  Dear President Obama... [This imaginary epistle might continue with references to how PCIP was supposed to insure that I'd not lose all my possessions in my fight to become and stay healthy... and might end with the reality of my checking account.]

As you put head to pillow tonight, be kind to yourself, for a change.  

Today, you broke free from inertia and the paralyzing effect of outside opinion, at least for a while. You made an appointment for outpatient surgery to have your port removed:  April 20, 9 am.  

You threw away keepsakes that had followed you several times around the world, but that you did not love and did not want.  Dusty postcards, snippets of textile, photographs.

You sometimes cried as you vacuumed, you miss some people like you might miss a left arm.  But you kept moving, now into a laugh, now into new friendship, now into being okay with things as they are.

You did good, girl.  

Tomorrow?  Washing trash cans, repairing blinds, one-pot wonders, more bills, and heightened efforts to recover Fred's sweet smile.

Grosses bises,
The elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle Editorial Board

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