Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cats Trump Writer's Block

NOTE: A just discovered gem buried in the Drafts folder, dated 8 August 2012, 10:27 AM, Tête de Hergé Super Standard Time.  The "gem" is not the writing, but the cat photography.  I think this blog has been entirely too grim of late, so a CAT POST is just the thing.  And since I don't feel much like posting today, or perhaps ever again, finding something that claims to have broken through "Writer's Block" is terrifically helpful to the me of today, 21 January 2015.  And it's a darned shame that Tante Louise's video cameo appearance didn't make it to the page -- but she is surely getting all things aligned in Heaven (which is, as Townes Van Zandt reminds us, "where you find it.").  And I do also miss the original Crack Whore Organic Pig Farmer Lady, taken down by the Fugitive Squad/Aunt Louise. An unfortunate, but historic, Community Event. Memories are slippery things!

Enjoy this serendipitous break from an Excessively Somber Period of Blogging!

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So,  when I made the masterpiece of a video about flushing PICC lines, the astute observer will have noticed that I dropped the recording device into a sink full of nice, hot soapy water.  Cleanliness, godliness!

I don't have much money.  I'm poor, in fact.  Not entitlement poor, more like, receiving 60% of my 2000 salary with no adjustment for cost-of-living or any inflationary trickeroos poor -- and using that money to support a household, pay a caretaker, fork out over $15,000 on health care (with insurance, even the blessed PCIP), and all the usual -- maintaining the sexiness of Ruby the Honda CRV, and keeping her legal, paying the mortgage, and having every animal in our care up to date in shots and vet exams.  Hell, the year of Little Boy (Uncle Kitty Big Balls), because of Fred's deep love for him, we payed close to $5,000 trying to save the dear soul's life.  I have to say, though, that had the vet involved been a better vet. a more honest vet, we might have stopped torturing him several thousand dollars earlier.

Lest you scoff at my "I'm poor" by pointing your pointy finger at my list of financial accomplishments, I should add that I never eat out, haven't been to a movie theatre, much less La Scala, in over a decade, and some claim that "generic" is my middle name.

Also, I make my money grow by playing the market.

That's right.  The socialist owns GOOG [but the rest of her portfolio is so deep in risk that she ain't revealing anything more, lest your mere scoffery turn to disgust].

Anyway, this is my way of explaining that I bought a new video camera.  It was a deal, a steal, and a good choice according to Fred's Bible, Consumer Reports, Tête de Hergé edition.  There was much ado about how easy it is to use, though I admit there was not a specific warranty of ease of use when the photog has one good hand, and a fumbling one, at that.

So far it is defeating me.  I don't get the zillions of icons offered on the LED screen.  Just tap!  It's easy! Without proof that one of those symbols won't launch an ICBM, I cannot willy-nilly start choosing picto-signifiers.  I have a conscience.

But this morning, which came too early, I thought I would at least try to take some still photos.  And then show them, describe them, say things, any things, to help destroy the iron bars behind which I pretend this writer is penned, blocked.

So... like many of my kind, after I inject myself with a few drugs, take 7 pills, go pee,and climb into the wheelchair, my first act of the day is to make coffee.  As you ought to know, we harbor three cats in our wing of Marlinspike Hall -- Captain Haddock issued orders that they no longer are free-ranging throughout the Manor, what with the claw-sharpening activity in the Tapestry Alcoves and all:  Marmy Fluffy Butt, Dobby (her son, the runt), and Buddy the Freakishly Large Kitten (no one told us he was a Maine Coon).
These three insert themselves boldly, and sometimes rudely, into the coffee-making plan by performing intricate death-defying patterns around the wheels of this power chair.  "Feed us, feed us, feed us," they chant.

At which point the absurdity begins.  I manage to get three bowls filled with fresh and tasty kibble and on the floor, in the required layout.  Marmy will only eat out of the red plastic bowl;  Dobby and Buddy prefer the metal bowls, but then purposefully set out to eat from each receptacle.  The two water bowls must frame the three food bowls like parentheses.  Change that and one of them will make the subtle point of their dissatisfaction by, for example, eating with one paw in one water bowl, and filling the other water bowl with half-chewed bits of kibble.

But, finally, coffee.

Oh, here is a picture of my new kettle.  I broke my café press a few weeks ago.  Might have been the same day I killed the video camera.  So I dug out one of our many Melitta drip cones and went back to that most honest form of coffee-making.  In the process, I noticed that my Paul Revere kettle was leaking.  As in, the solder was breaking down, the seams were separating.  So I went online to my new favorite pastime -- FAB -- the rule in force being "no purchases allowed, because you are poor, no matter how well GOOG is doing."

But they had this kettle, and it was cute, and it was on sale, and it is now on my stove (in our private kitchenette, as it is hardly appropriate for the more demanding heat requirements of, say, the Medieval Kitchens).

New red kettle from FAB
If confession is truly good for the soul:  I also bought some stationary.  I have a weakness for good stationary, and may be the last person on Earth to continue to send handwritten letters and cards, delivered to brick-and-mortar, or daub-and-wattle, or hand-chinked stone domiciles.

Okay, so... it's heavy, the kettle.  I have already poured boiling water onto my lap, neatly missing the Melitta cone, because I couldn't hold the lovely shiny red thing up high enough to pour the water in over something not made of my flesh, like the counter.  But I will figure it out.  This morning, I put my coffee-making stuff in the sink, reducing the height requirement of the kettle heft.  [You will either understand that last sentence or you won't.  I can't help you.]

The video camera, when plugged into the limping-along computer, has lovely edit functions for my visual artistry.  Unfortunately, the red of the kettle was lost in the necessity to tone down the severely dominating whiteness of the stove top's enamel, even the whitey glare of the pitcher and old cookie jar that hold my cooking utensils.

The red, the red, it is not right.

Okay, so the cats are fed.  The coffee is made and, if necessary, burn balm applied to my upper thighs.
I turn the wheelchair in the direction of early morning television news, the computer, and a bed into which I can dive when pain spikes.

Dobby always disappears about five minutes before I make my slow journey to the bedroom -- slow because I'll be damned if any more coffee is leaving the mug, unless headed for my caffeine-starved self.

The photo at the top of this post?  That's what I find waiting for me on the bed -- without fail, and thankfully so, for it makes me smile like no body's business.  Dobby, laid out, and ready for his requisite ten minutes of loving.

He wants, first, a fierce belly rub, then a sensual ear massage, easy on the right one.  He then finds the comb and brush dedicated to his use, and his use alone, and knocks them on the floor.  Why we have to go through this particular part of the ritual, I dunno, but I don't change things because he's cute when he tries to get tough.

The grooming begins in earnest, and lasts as long as my right arm can wield the brush and comb.

After ten minutes, usually, of attention, Dobby is faced with three options:
  • He can play with Buddy, who has taken his place at the foot of the bed, and is vocalizing like a loon.
  • He can curl up and take his first nap of the day.
  • He can grab the comb, freshly cleaned of his fine gray hairs, growl, shake it, and run off with it looking like a 19th century train robber who scored gold.
Okay, back to my pitiable photography.  Marmy has sworn me off.  She doesn't come to cuddle any more, she runs, in fact, when I draw near.  Oh, she is conflicted, that is for sure.  She talks at me when we're together in the kitchenette, and lets me pat her head.  She relies on me to clean up her hairball offerings, which have become frequent, because she won't let me help her with her decidedly difficult grooming.  (She's a long-haired beauty.)

My crime?  She has a recurrent eye condition -- herpes, actually -- which requires "gooping" with medication.  She managed to go several years without a problem but a few months back, poor thing, it returned with a vengeance in her left eye.  Now... Fred is a loving pet caretaker but he lacks finesse when it comes to administering pet medications.  As in, he scares the crap out of them because he believes they must be captured for the process to have meaning.  My philosophy is more one of waiting for them to come to me, then faking them out, but following my evil up with a good nuggle, a nice treat, something to confuse their nascent desire to hate me.

Marmy, though, has that incredible ability to read a human's mind.  Before you make a move to pick up the eye ointment, before you even allow yourself to entertain the thought of eye ointment, she's on to you, and she is GONE.

So we had to go with the Fred Method.  For some reason (a phrase I'd love to be able to eliminate from my life, or at least reduce its aptitude), he'd trap her, then carry her to me, and I would get to apply the goop to her eye.  

Now, I don't know, but it is my strong suspicion, having gooped other cats with this same medication, that Marmy is a bit, you know, Castafiore-esque.  She yelps, she cries, she squirms, she gives you the Look Of Death.  Every one else shakes their tiny feline heads, maybe gives a brief glare, and then they're over it.

Marmy Fluffy Butt has yet to forgive me.

This is how I get to see her first thing in the morning.  Peering at me, half-hidden behind the doorway, wondering if I am gonna drop the cherry bomb of a new kettle in order to swoop over, grab her by her Fluffy Tail, and stick some acid-like substance in her eyeball.  It's been months now.  I've decided to ignore her, and that is beginning to work, as, again like The Castafiore, she cannot bear the lack of attention.

Marmy Fluffy Butt, giving me the Evil Eye, and badly in need of grooming
It's unfair not to remind you that Marmy has her reasons -- we took her in when she was heavy with kittens, to the point where her belly almost dragged the floor.  She's tiny -- barely 8 pounds, and she had five little ones inside her.  She was only 8 months old at the time, or so figured the vet.  We figure that she started as someone's pet, and then was abandoned, and had been on the streets for a good bit.  

It's unfair not to note that we "took her in" by following one of Fred's Grab Scenarios, using a yummy bowl of kibble as bait.  Marmy will not eat wet food, something we wish someone would explain to us.  She refuses real chicken, etc.  Anyway, we kidnapped the poor, freezing pregnant soul and so began life with Marmy.  She was essentially feral for almost two years.

In the first few months of her stay, Fred had to CARRY my sweet Sam-I-Am (now deceased) past her to the litter box or she would beat him up.  Sammy weighed about 14 pounds.  It was ridiculous.

We don't know, beyond rape, what she endured out on the street, but it wasn't good.  When she decided we were okay, it was wonderful.  She made up for lost love time.  She domesticated as no cat has domesticated before her.

So when she reverts to her fearful state, it hurts my heart.  She and Fred were never nuggle partners, and he doesn't groom unless brushes are actually thrown at him with loud verbal encouragements, so their relationship is still stable.  

I hope my next photo of my girl is a pose of her purring and stretched out on my belly, all sleek and smooth, with fun, and not fear, in her eyes.  And God forbid that her eyes ever need treatment again.

O Lordy, Lordy!  Good grief.  Moving right along.  Those of you who have followed Buddy's growth, here's how big he is now, and still growing.  The vet says he will continue to grow for another two years, one of those weird bits of Maine Coon trivia.

Buddy the Freakishly Large Kitten

Note Marmy sneaking in behind him, and actually eating out of a metal bowl and not her beloved red plastic thang.  Buddy has become her pal, for which we're very thankful, as he's the only living organism in Marlinspike Hall who can successfully defend against the swift application of her claws, or achieve the speed of light.  The two of them love to vocalize, and they streak by in blurs that even make Dobby look perplexed.

Well, after I conquer the "photo" mode on this bleeping camera, I will give the video mode another try.  

Fred was sorely disappointed in me a couple of days ago, when the Crack Whore Organic Pig Farmer Lady who lives across our country lane was raided by the Tête de Hergé Lone Alp West Fugitive Squad -- you would have bust a gut at the sight of Tante Louise in SWAT gear.  She had managed to move about a yard by the time her team had rushed the Pig Farm Cottage, captured the ne'er-do-well, thrown her into the back seat of the Fugitive Catcher Car, an orange Vega, dodged a few angry free-ranging hogs, wrapped a few muddy acres in yellow cop crime scene tape, and jumped back into the Fugitive Squad station wagon.

I had the camera out but it was just the second time I'd ever had it strapped to my quivering, spazzing right hand.  So we ended up with a lovely montage of light glinting off the moat, close-ups of hog jowls, and lots of footage of Tante Louise stuck in the mire.

It would have gone viral on YouTube.

© 2015 L. Ryan


  1. How 'bout some pictures of the cats ignoring their new hidey-hotel and attached tabby-tube. One doesn't doubt that they were underwhelmed by the box's lack of Flo-Pak. Regards to all from the hinterlands.

    1. hey, sweet you. i can try pictures now with my smarty-panted phone, i guess. but both hands are gone! "contracted," a term i like, because it sounds grammatical, not medical. but i have the *cutest* blue splints, nice and soft, with these funny little spikes that stick between the knuckles and look like blue tits. too much information? no, i did not think so! to update on the cats -- after reading this post... buddy rules, but is the gentlest of tyrants, although when he gets hits by territorial fits (usually having to do with access to my bed), he can get scarily vicious, such that physical intervention by The Fredster is necessary. buddy is actually a dog. marmy and he will play, but only during the hours of 1-4 am, and only at very high speeds, in games with complicated rules. dobby remains dobby. when all abandon me, there he is, sitting quietly, big-eyed, purring, encouraging me to rub his belly, a sure-fire way to ease my pain. he's rarely wrong. today is my birthday and the celebration is... indian take out. if i had me druthers, it would be just stuffed naan and saag paneer but as the day wears on and this dude hank presents me with a menu, we will come up with a dozen dishes to try -- and keep trying over the next couple of days! that and watching LOTR gets me through the day. poor fred, poor hank, poor kitties. medically, it's been the week from hell, but i've met some very kind new "providers," who have bluntly offered me little hope. one guy, tho? a real sweetie, even if that would slay his surgeon's god-like ego, referred me to several "hot shots" who were "too young and full of themselves" not to be scared off by my case! i, of course, liked HIM. his nurse whispered to me, on the way out, "he doubts himself too much." "work on him," i urged. i'm always causing trouble. i love you bunches. and urge you to keep your eye on the prize of may!


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