Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Painful Reality

Yup, today is one of those days. Wet, cold and damp. Did I mention cold? Not very, actually but cold enough to make a thin film of ice on pavement. I almost lost it taking Margaret to the bus stop.
Going around the curve on Gailor Road I noted the fresh tire tracks heading for the rail and the evidence that somebody had recently done some work on the rails. This was as I was fish tailing around the corner. I seem to be able to steer fairly well in cases like this so you'd think it wouldn't make me as tense as I was. Trouble with getting tense is the muscles tighten up, your bones rub and your nerves get somewhat inflamed. Which is a fancy way of saying it hurts to get tense.

What I have at the top of my hip bone is a dense area of burning, stabbing pain that likes to occasionally feint going down the leg, but it never goes past the knee. Still it stabs and pokes and otherwise refuses to let me think of anything much but the specific region of pain. Right THERE!

I used to know this kid named Bob Mehan. We were maybe 12 or so, maybe younger, but Bobby was bigger than me, as was everybody else in the class. Trouble was Bobby was the biggest and I was the smallest so it was apparently his right to punish me for my size. He did this by greeting me every day with a pinch of the earlobe. He'd squeeze my earlobe until I writhed on the sidewalk begging him to let go. My father told me to hit him and he'd never bother me again. Dad was wrong. Bobby didn't get mad or anything, you don't get mad at a gnat buzzing by. He just squeezed harder and twisted. Now come back with me to today. Maybe Bobby died in Viet Nam, or a car crash, or maybe his soul is still hovering around me but now he's doing the same service to my lower back, just above the hip. He grabs that nerve and pinches and twists and I grit my teeth and beg him to stop.

I'm not whining, Dad. I'm just trying to explain to people who say things like "Oh, my back hurts too when it gets cold." because what I get is a bigger thing than "hurting". It's more like having a quarter of my body go over to the enemy and turning to assault the loyalists. Like a bayonet, maybe? A sucker punch that remains for several seconds?

Bottom line is it really sometimes sucks that the handful of pain meds I take don't do enough to allow me to function on a day to day basis. I still have to clean the kitchen and make sure the house is set up for having guests for a few days. I have to shop for food and put it away. That means Jess's vegetarian fare and healthy snacks for Jackie, whose heart condition has put her on a strict diet. I look forward to doing all this while gritting my teeth and watching the clocks to see how close I can get to the six hour mark and a new batch of pain meds. If you start taking them too close together you just get addicted and they stop working. That's how I got the thrill of withdrawal from codeine. Boy that was a lot of fun. But I'm not whining, Dad, I'm just telling it like it is.

It is very painful to be vertical on a cold damp day in upstate New York.

I still don't have a kitten to play with either. That bothers me. What kind of a house is catless? Why is there no cat food in the cabinet or catnip in the jar? A cat would curl in my lap and purr and the soft purr would slowly melt away the tension and reduce the spasms. The pills would kick in and I would be able to gently put the cat down on the bed and go finish my chores. That's the great thing about cats, they can cure you of melancholy or pain in just a few soft purrs. I know where the animal shelter is but it's a half hour of driving on slick pavement just to get a new companion. Is it worth it? What if their selection isn't the right selection? Well, Willie, you never know til you know. I should choke down some pills a few hours early and go rescue a cat. Yup, that's just what I ought to do.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm starting to get it!

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Now if I can figure out how to do this sort of code cut and paste thing with my original stuff. This was just a test.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Jess is certainly the greatest daughter I could have imagined. Well, maybe she doesn't have super powers nor can she operate on spinal columns, but she is a great little artist and a sweetheart besides. I'm very proud of her but as I look at my sweety-pie Margaret I recognize that the nut doesn't fall far from the tree. Still I will take credit for thrusting art books into her hands when she was an infant and I did advise her on the evils of men early on, giving her that cynical "show me" attitude which has spared her the worst of the creepy boys. Hopefully somebody will show up someday with a good attitude and good library. The books are important, in much the same way in the sixties I always checked out new friends' record collections. Jess's generation rips their "record" collection onto their MP3 players or hard drives and expect for the people (like Jess) who appreciate vinyl there aren't many ways to look into a person's soul except their books. Maybe their DVD's but that too is becoming tiny and digital.

Well, now the world has changed and Jess may be traveling in search of employment but we have to give Barack a few months to get things going here. Meanwhile she can spend Euros as easily as dollars and one must work to eat. It seems silly that someone as bright and as talented as Jess might have to cross an ocean for opportunnity but that is how much of America got filled up. Yes, we used to have opportunities but even a new President can't help a country as screwed up as George has left this one, not in a short time frame. He's gonna need at least two terms to filter out the legal crap Wall Street has nested itself within. Imagine the ticker tape parades with convoluted ticker tape faling from above to trickle down on us all. Yeah, maybe a few years in Europe will give Jess enough experience to come back home with more open doors to the world of design. Assuming America ever pulls out of the muck in time we should be able to see our girl fully employed, making the world a better place to live in. Now if she would just design a kitchen Margaret and I could agree on.

She's a babe, she's single but she doesn't take crap from bozo men-boys so don't apply unless you have an impressive porfolio of thoughts and dreams. It would help if you were employed, too. We have these student loans yet to deal with...
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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Baby Mok

I wasn't sure when to write about Mok. She was my best friend for some time and her passing was a huge dark cloud over our summer. When she came to us there was a great deal of emotion around it all. Margaret's sister was dying in the hospital and her cats were left alone in the apartment for weeks with just the occasional visitor to feed and water them. Eventually Bernice died and we had to deal with the cats. Two came home with Margaret after lots of clawing, hissing and running around. They were pretty wild. "Flufinella" and "Satanspawn" lived in a kennel for awhile in our back room as we tried to get them to relax around us. Fluffinella showed promise although she tended to lay on top of Satanspawn and dominate her. Then Fluffinella started pissing on the couch and crapping in the hallway. She showed no interest in the sandbox, which explained a lot about Bernice's apartment. Finally I decided to find a no-kill shelter for the two cats: one that couldn't be touched and one that couldn't be trained. Funny thing about a bad economy, shelters fill up with unwanted cats and we couldn't unload them. Meanwhile Fluffinella betrayed her cute name by clawing my arms as I tried to remove her from the kennel. Satanspawn just vanished into the nether reaches of the house. I decided Fluffy needed a new home, like any shelter that would take her, so she went away and my arms healed.

Eventually we got Satanspawn to reappear and take food. Jess decided that her name needed a change. She selected "Mok" from some association we never got clear. Mok began to pace around the house, slinking away from the people and hissing if approached. I tried wet food, dry food, catnip and so forth and eventually you could almost touch her as she ate. We lived in the same house like room mates with different schedules.

I've always felt cats could be approached on their terms and I began discussing life and the related concerns, like weather, food, and noises in the house. It was very similar to having a fight with my wife when she refused to talk to me but would allow me to hang around. Except wives don't get off on catnip. Mok and I started a relationship based mostly on herb and food. Margaret found that Mok would chase things like feathers on a string but she wouldn't release them, preferring to try to eat them. I don't know how long it took to have a good relationship with Mok, but we tried bribery mostly. I changed the timbre of my voice and eventually I could pet her if I was slow and gentle. She grew to like the attention. She learned I could be trained and she would tell me when the food dish was empty, or the wet food was dry or the water dish had dust in it. She had some siamese in her and her talking was very active. I could tell when she needed catnip as she would announce, "Meee yowah-owah yowser mowser meeyow meeyow...." and it was catnip time. She'd walk into the house, look down the hall for Margaret and ask "Hello Mahrgret?" very plainly. I'd tell her it wasn't time for the bus yet and Mok would walk into the bedroom, mumbling to herself.

We fixed a blanket at the end of the bed for Mok to sleep on and she seemed to enjoy bedtime best, almost as good as catnip. We found a cat bed at a local discount store and set it at the end of the bed. Mok was so happy that she had her own bed! She'd come and take naps in it during the day. Eventually she'd start out the night by pacing around the house telling us it was getting late. She'd stand at the doorway to the computer room and lecture Margaret about sitting too long. Then she'd find me and let me know how late it was getting. If I was smart enough to listen we'd go collect Margaret and go to bed. Mok would start out just within reach of our hands, getting stroked and whispered to, then climb into her bed and sleep. I found a tiny teddy bear in the basement among Jess's stuff and introduced it to Mok, telling her every child needs a teddy bear. She would touch noses with the bear upon climbing into bed and then curl up next to it. She was very proud of that bear, that she had gotten a personal toy just for Mok. We found a squishy turtle and a string she liked and they became bedroom toys. Mok began sleeping between Margaret and me, stealing warmth and snuggling happily with her best friends.

During the day Mok was interested in hunting outside by the bird feeders, or down in the lowlands, leaving mouse parts in the path for me to relocate. She was good at it, I saw her haul off a good sized rat! She'd practice hunting with Margaret, using feathers on strings as targets. Margaret was better at it than me, giving a good flick just at the right time. Mok spent many hours chasing that feather. Outside in the winter Mok would hide near the feeders, black on white but patient. In the summer she'd hide under a leaf. Eventually neighbor cats would start invading her turf, drawn by the many catnip plants in the garden plots. Fights would break out and as Mok was tough but small she'd often end up hiding on the roof or stuck in the chestnut tree. She started hunting across the street to avoid fights. I warned her about the cars but like all cats she thought she was fast enough to get by.

One weekend Jess was up for a visit and Mok did not come in after dark. We all called her but couldn't get her to come in. Mok could be stubborn, but she always came in before bedtime so she could snuggle with us in bed before snuggling with her teddy bear. The next morning I went out early to call her again. I found her stretched out on a bit of wading pond in the front yard. Someone had brought her home. Later I discovered it was our nighbor, Cathy who had found her body in the street, dead from a blow to the side of the head, a victim of her blackness and the cars which went by too fast to stop in time.

We buried Mok by Furlinghetti and Starr, not far from Fred's grave and we marked it with a stone. She was buried with some food for her journey, a big bag of catnip and of course her little teddy bear. We tucked her in her personal bed and covered her with one of my soft shirts so she won't be cold down there. I knew that sometimes I could be lonely when Margaret was at work but Mok would come and play and talk to me. Now it's just the loneliness keeping me company.

In this time of wars and elections we can miss the important things in life, like sitting in a comfortable chair stroking a furry friend, listening to the warm purr and chatting about life. Mok was one of the best friends I've had in life and I will miss her terribly.
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