Hello and Goodbye, For Now

Hello All!  Been a while…

As you might have gathered, I’ve had some health issues lately—like since October of 2015.  And as some of you know, I’ve been slowly recovering enough to go on Facebook and visit some of your blogs, if not my own.

poem tree

It’s been a tough road, but I can finally see the end of the forest from here.

Apparently, though, I’m not done with the Life Experiences™ yet.  And since the way I work through those is to write ’em down and share them online with nary a thought for the TMI,* I’ve decided to start blogging again.

However, since most of my posts are going to be about working through this specific Life Experience™, I’ve decided to start a new blog.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be posting at Earful again, but . . . I probably won’t be posting at Earful again very often.  I need a different space right now and I like this one the way it is.

So, If you want to know what’s going on with me, or just want to drop in and say hello, I’ll be over here for the foreseeable future.

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*Plus a variety of therapies, both physical and otherwise, and some rather nice prescription medications.  But writing is a lot cheaper, I can sit down the whole time, and no one asks me the tough questions but me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Time You Need

Once upon a time, nearly seventeen years ago, my husband mentioned that the cat of a friend of his had produced a litter of kittens and was looking for homes for them. Long discussion short, he brought one home.

TobyThis little, dark gray scrap, dressed in white shirt front and spats for the occasion, sat at attention, his tail neatly wrapped around his feet, for the next day or two in our spare room, refusing to give an inch to catnappers, even though he was swaying with exhaustion, his green eyes closing every few seconds before snapping open.

We named him Toby, though he had a lot of nicknames over the years: Tober, The Tobes, Tobias Eater of Toes, Howler Kitty, and Bean Brain.

By the time I was carrying Jane, he had forgotten his old life and had taken up his role as Firstborn Son and Heir Apparent. He stretched around my distended tummy, and when Jane poked out a foot, he poked back at her. He wasn’t impressed with her during those first introductions, and spent several months elated when we took her out with us and utterly disgusted when we brought her back. I’ll never forget his face when she took her first steps: “Holy $#&%! You didn’t tell me these things were mobile!”

Typing!He acted exactly the same way when Sunny appeared—there’s a reason we dubbed him Bean Brain. But to the kids, he was part of the family and was always included in school drawings, a small, gray, betailed blob next to Mommy, Daddy, Sister, and Me. Sunny put him in her genealogy tree project last year as an adopted sibling with his own dotted line.

Cat Butt BagHe never met a glass of water he didn’t try to tip over or a blanketed foot he didn’t try to gnaw. He’s the reason I know that a jab to the eye does make you see stars—red ones—and that it hurts when a cat butts your shoulder with the top of his hard, little head when you’re trying to sleep through his bout of the Sudden Terminal Itchies.  He liked to shove things off my desk in the middle of the night, just so I’d wake up and keep him company.

But over this past year, I couldn’t help noticing some changes, though I tried my best.

He couldn’t reliably land onto the counter from the kitchen table anymore, and when he failed, he didn’t bounce up for a do-over. He couldn’t hit the litter box when he was standing in it and it took him a lot of effort to climb in and out—so much so that he rarely bothered. The levels in his food bowl weren’t changing and he didn’t seem to care for wet food or any of his favorite forbidden people treats.

A few days ago, I realized that he weighed less than a full coffee mug and I could feel his bones wherever I touched him. His hind heels were wearing through his white boots and his swagger was worn to a painful hobble.  He couldn’t sit down on my lap, because his hind end didn’t fold anymore and he stopped sleeping on my pillow, because the mattress was too high for him to jump.

He no longer did his nightly opera solos and would disappear from his usual haunts for the whole day. Sometimes two.

I’m not new to the ways of cats. I know what all this means.

Yesterday morning, I called the vet and made the appointment.  I spent the afternoon telling myself I was doing the right thing.

My husband told Janie before I came home from work and she cried and snuggled with Toby until her eyes nearly swelled shut.  “Why?” she cried.  “Why do people have to end?”

I told her that I didn’t know.  But that I was glad we’d given Toby a good home and loved him while he was here, because that was so much better than never knowing him at all.

“Yes, but he’ll be gone.”

“I know.”

“Why can’t we just keep him here until he . . .”

“Because we have a responsibility to take care of him,” I said, not entirely to her.  “He doesn’t know what’s happening to him and we can’t let him suffer just because we don’t want to let him go.  That’s not the right kind of love.”

“Oh, God, Sunny,” she said.

“I know.”

“Don’t tell her.  I mean, let her ask first.”

“If you think it would be better that way.  I won’t tell her until she’s home from camp.”

“Good.”  She teared up again.  “They won’t hurt him?  At the vet?  Don’t you let them hurt him!”

I told her that the vet would take his pain away and he wouldn’t hurt any more.

His pain,” she said. “What about our pain?”

“Time and good memories and hugs,” I said, giving her one.  “They work slowly, but that’s what we have.”

“This sucks, Mom.”

“Yes.  It does.”

Toby HelpAnd it did.

My husband cleaned the pet carrier last night and I put a towel in it early this morning.  After a search that wasn’t helpful to my state of mind, Toby was found and put into the carrier with no fuss, but he let me know the car ride upset him.  It was the first time he’d made a sound in a week and I almost turned to car around—if he could complain, he was okay, right?  That’s the Wesson way, right?

An elderly woman was waiting outside with her barrel-shaped dog.  She smiled as I passed by and said that the weather was beautiful after all the rain we’ve been having.  I said something agreeable and went in.

The receptionist was gentle with both of us and gave me a form to fill out to keep me busy.  Toby rubbed up against the vet when she examined him, friendly, if wary of her probing fingers, and unable to get his hind end to line up right.  He kept going back into his carrier and looking up at me; he was done here and wanted to go home.

So did I.

The vet told me that she could do bloodwork, if I wanted to make sure, but from his general appearance, he had thyroid and kidney problems, which would be chronic.  If she was right, there were treatments, but those would maybe give us a couple of months together, with shots and side effects, ending back where we were.

I signed the papers, marked my preferences for his cremation—I didn’t want his ashes, or a commemorative paw print plaque, I wanted my Toby to be healthy and playful again—and told them I wanted to be present.  I was the one who’d made the decision.  I would be there to see it through.

They took him away for a moment to prepare him with a catheter and I grabbed a handful of tissues and called myself terrible things.

An assistant brought him back, wrapped in a blanket and angrier than I’d ever seen him in his life, but I rubbed his neck until he calmed down, his hard little head pressed against my stomach, like he’d done when he was small.  The vet came back and he tensed up again . . . then relaxed, all at once . . . and was gone.

They told me to take as much time as I needed, and I wondered, not for the first time, if there was some way we could be offered that kindness before the final partings.  And maybe we are, if we’re smart enough to spend it wisely, with spilled water glasses and midnight howls and gnawed toes and fond exasperation.

As I left with the empty carrier and a handful of soggy tissues, the nice elderly lady was just coming in.  She took one look at my face and held the door for me.

Her dog bumped my legs with a cheerful doggy grin.  “Rocket!” she said, pulling him away, but I told her he was helping, too.  “Bless you, honey,” she said.

My husband was home, waiting until the last possible moment to leave for his class so he could give me a hug.  Then I cried for a while, sat down, and wrote this out.

Is it overshare, a 1300+ word, detailed  eulogy for a cat?  Yeah, probably.

But the choices that led up to this post were made for him.  This one is for me.

Time, memories, and hugs are what we’ve got.

And I’m going to miss him.

 

Random Thursday: Faulty Memories, Weird Truths, and Good GNUs

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

Hey, you writer people out there—check out last Tuesday’s post!

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When my BP drops, I have a latte.

Coffee Type

Actually, mine is Coffee Positive.

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I Hope So . . .

Mediation Remediation

I’d suggest adding a little blood to our caffeine streams,
but that’s just crazy talk.

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Let’s Take a Vote!

At first, this seems like an awesome live-action  memory game . . . but it isn’t.

It’s better.

Don’t bother clicking—I’ve posted the solution at the end.

No peeking!

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GNUs for Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

“You know they’ll never really die while the Trunk is alive[…] It lives while the code is shifted, and they live with it, always Going Home.”

— Lipwig von Moist, Going Postal, Chapter 13

I was first introduced to Terry Pratchett’s imagination when I chose The Colour of Magic as one of the twelve books I bought for a penny way back when Book of the Month Clubs were a Big Thing and my mother wasn’t watching.

For that story alone it was the best scam I ever fell for—I read everything Terry Pratchett ever wrote and have been a devotee of the magical Discworld and its different sort of sanity ever since.

So when I learned last week that he had passed away, I told myself that his characters and worlds and sharp wit were so loved that somewhere, it has all become real.

This didn’t help as much as I’d hoped.

But then my husband, who is as big a fan as I, showed me an article that did.

In Going Postal, readers are introduced to “the clacks”, a series of semaphore towers that stand in for the telegraph for the Discworld, which has no electricity. The towers that make up “the Trunk”, can send messages “at the speed of light” using standardized codes.

In the book, three of these codes are central to the plot:

G: send the message on
N: do not log the message
U: turn the message around at the end of the line and send it back again

The people who operate the Towers—half coders, half mechanics, half crazy—have a special way of honoring those who died in service:  The names of the dead are sent in code from Tower to Tower, never logged and never ending, always remembered while the towers still stand.

And now, some Reddit fans of Sir Terry have created a way to send him name through our world’s version of the clacks—the Internet—in the form of a code called the XClacksOverhead, which sets a header reading “GNU Terry Pratchett” in the coding of one’s website or blog.

If you’re interested in honoring Terry Pratchett in this way, or are interested in passing this idea on to fans who are technologically savvy enough to do this, the various codes and instructions are here.

No one will be able to see his name unless they look for it in the coding, but it will be there, sent on and ever circling, and always Going Home.

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The Battle-Cry of my Demographic

Memory Stump

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The Verdict?

It’s totally doable, as long as you can get 100 people to follow the same, simple process.

So, no.  Never take this bet.

Instead, we should run the bet, and make a boatload of cash of those 100 people.

Who’s with me?

Random Thursday: Cute Groot, Slick Vids, and a Sad

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

How can it be the middle of September already, when the days and weeks are dragging like a series of lead-lined Mondays?

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First, the Sad

Sad Kitty

My friend Grace, who has been putting up with me for ten years both in and out of the library,
is leaving for New Mexico this weekend to head her own department.

A small,  selfish part of me wishes I hadn’t given her such a glowing recommendation.

A slightly bigger part really doesn’t want to deal with the return of all the craft stuff I dumped in her spare room the last time I moved.

But most of me wishes her well and all of me will miss her very much.

And none of me envies her three-day cross-country trip with those two cats of hers.

Prenez soin de vous, mon ami.

Et les chats, trop.

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Vidiots

This makes me want to unplug for a while and read a book.

I mean, right after I finish this post, check my e-mail, ramp up my high scores in Fruit Ninja, and watch those funny robots again.

(I know what you’re implying, Kev, and may I remind you that you’re the one who e-mailed me the embed code for this through Facebook, via your iPad.)

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BABY YARNGROOT

Baby Yarngroot

THAT IS ALL.

Okay, that’s not all: Click His Galactic Squeeness for his free (!) crochet pattern
from Her Awesomesauceness Twinkie Chan.

And then make me one, please.

(Thanks, Watson—too bad we’re both knitters . . . )

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Spherikal

by Ion Lucin.

Whoa.  Just . . . Whoa.

Random Thursday: Smiles for Miz Phyllis

One of my favorite readers from my library’s short story group died this past Saturday, at the age of 87.  Today is her funeral.

I thought about cancelling Random Thursday—which was only half done, anyway—but among the reasons this lady became a favorite was her irascibility, her love of clashing colors, her diabolical sense of humor, and her absolute refusal to miss a thing.

When she became too ill to come to our group, she had Dorothy—her best friend of half a century and official Partner in Crime—bring her a copy of the next story up for discussion.  Her son read it to her and she dictated her reactions, which he gave to Dorothy, who would bring them to me before our meeting, so I could give the Monthly Phyllis Report.

If I’d told her I was skipping a blog post for her out of respect, she would have rolled her eyes at me and said, “Well, that’s dumb.  I like to see people smile.”

So this is for Miz Phyllis, who appreciated randomness in all forms, thought Hemingway was overrated, and tolerated my coffee with a grimace and liberal doses of French Vanilla creamer.

We’ll take care of Dorothy for you, ma’am.  Promise.

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Painting Brazil

Soccer + Brazil = All The Colors.  Everywhere.

Brazil World Cup

Since 1986, World Cup fans in Brazilian cities and towns have painted their streets in support of their team.

This year, Google maps put the images up in an interactive gallery.

Go look.

It’s awesome.

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Baby. Goats. Running.

(Thanks, Watson—I needed that)

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Happy Turtle

Because anthropomorphizing animals
based on random physical attributes
that mimic human reactions
and have nothing to do with their actual emotional state
makes me feel good.

Okay?

Happy Turtle(Click the image, or here, for more happy animals—and I don’t want to hear it)

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Just a Norman Episode

Phyllis liked to tell stories about her cat,
usually ending with a declaration of gratitude that she owned her house and therefore didn’t have to worry about losing a security deposit.

His name was Norman—“As in Bates,” she’d say—and she spoke of him with such exasperated affection, it was three or four months before I realized he was a cat, and not her husband.

Phyllis’s son took Norman in around March, when her health worsened.

When her best friend Dorothy came to visit a week or two later, her son was there, saying that Norman had pulled an Xbox apart with his bare, declawed* paws and chewed up the insides of it.

According to Dorothy, Phyllis had smiled and said, “Oh, good. I was worried he wouldn’t feel at home.”

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* Miz Phyllis told me once that she was against declawing cats, but Norman had come that way from that shelter—and she’d come to be grateful that he had.