Vet 2

The girls behind the counter laughed when I said the cat had outsmarted me and she wouldn’t be coming to her appointment because I couldn’t find her.  They said that it wasn’t the first time they had heard that story, not to worry about it.  We’d just move straight onto the appointment for Moses whose only avoidance strategy was to drop 40 percent of his long white hair onto me.  The vet was handsome in a shell-shocked sort of way (could have been in awe of my furry beauty).

I like to preface my Moses appointments with veterinarians by explaining that “Moses is his own man.” That helps explain the pine-tar in his fur, the spiderwebs in his whiskers, the all around dirtiness and frequent skanky smell of him.  We love him because of and in spite of these things.  But we have excused ourselves from responsibility for his general cleanliness.

He had fleas.  I knew this.  It’s an annual problem with Moses.  Never the other cats.  Just him.  Comes from eating out of, and sleeping in the compost pile (he’s got a weakness for bananas and cantaloupe, swear to god), rolling in the dirt and hunting wild game.  He’s his own man.

When we were discussing which options would be best, the doctor seemed pretty sold on a product called Frontline.  You take the little vial for stuff and apply it to the base of the back of the neck, sort of between the shoulder blades of the animal.  It soaks in and kills fleas for months at a time.  It’s perfectly safe, he said.  I thought about if I’d be comfortable using a mosquito repellent that could soak into my skin and kill bugs for a month…

I wasn’t convinced.  He wanted me to treat Moses and all the other cats once a month for the rest of the summer and fall (until the first freeze).  I explained that the last time I treated my cats with the poison-oil-on-the-skin stuff that it gave Moses dark thoughts.  Because it did.  I have told this to veterinarians in the past and they seemed to get it.  I did some research on-line and found lots of complaints about neurological problems in cats treated with this stuff (5 years ago).

Brown-eyed-shell-shocked-white-coated Doctor looked at me blankly.  No more than blankly.  It may have been fear I saw in his face.  But it wasn’t for Moses.  “I don’t know what that means really, dark thoughts. Can you tell me about his behavior?”

He didn’t know what that meant.  He didn’t know about Moses being his own man, either.  He asked if I thought Moses might be around enough that I could treat him once a month.  For those who don’t understand our relationship with Moses:  He spends the night outside, he spends most of the days outside.  He comes inside to eat, sit on any newspaper or book that looks like it is taking our attention, roll around nudging our toes with his nose until we pet him with our feet, and to climb into bed with whoever is still in bed after the door gets opened in the morning.

That last little habit seems to be related to the itchy welts my husband gets around his ankles a couple weeks of the year.  They don’t bother me, but fleas love Andy.  I got the treatments and treated the cat.  He seems happier, no dark thoughts.  And no fleas, either.

Veterinary Moral Superiority

This is really a story about people, not about animals.  You know how I feel about pet stories.

I love animals.  With a few caveats.  I don’t love birds very much.  I don’t love animals with more than 4 legs.  My dislike increases as the number of legs increases, with the possible exception of octopuses, (octopum, octopae, octopi).  I don’t like the wet parts of animals, no matter how many furry feet they have.  This turns out to be hard to explain to dogs. But I digress.

I like animals so much that I have living in my house right now four cats and 3 birds.  Two of those birds are sitting on a clutch of eggs.  It’s too many animals, not even legal.  But we manage.  And they make us laugh.  To my mind, an animal pays the rent by either becoming food, making food, killing rodents, lowering my blood pressure, warming my lap or my feet, purring in my ear at night, making me laugh, alerting me to trouble or helping me break the ice with strangers.

It’s gotten to the point where I feel real dread going to the vet with my animals.  I can’t take the judgment.  The vet yesterday was classic.  I should have known it was going to be bad the day I made the appointment.  I decided I could save some time and trouble by scheduling two kitties one right after the other.  What have I always said about feeling clever?  Feeling clever is the first warning sign of impending humiliation.

Babykitty is our fat cat.  She’s morbidly obese, bus-stop fat.  Grossly overweight.  But not altogether stupid.  She completely outsmarted me.  She hid her plus-sized self somewhere in the house, and didn’t even come when I poured food noisily into the food dishes.  I didn’t find her until I returned from the appointment.  By that point she was lounging casually on the third floor. No I am not clever.

Although I did avoid having to explain to the vet that I understand the health risks of having an overweight pet and that I knew her life expectancy was shortened.  Also I didn’t have to decline tooth cleaning for the cat and feel like a negligent pet owner and listen to a lecture about gingival health in cats.  I didn’t have to explain that we bought immunizations in Wisconsin (except for Rabies) and for 40 bucks had already done the distemper and other annual shots for 4 cats.

It’s not just that I’m cheap, and it’s not that I can’t afford to have the vet give the shots and clean her teeth.  It’s that the 4 hundred bucks seems like it is so much better spent on feeding the poor or clothing the naked than on immunizing and cleaning the teeth of a domestic animal whose only real purpose is to amuse me.  World peace?  Global warming?  Overpopulation?

When did there start being a moral imperative to do weight control and dental care on cats in addition to birth control, palliative care and contagious disease prevention?

Strawberry Madness

Went picking this year again.  I’m not going to say there’s something wrong with me.  If I said that, it would imply that there’s a problem.  One I can’t manage.  I can manage this.  I totally can.

I’ve told some of this before.  About the slightly envious feeling I get when I see that people have arrived to the strawberry patch before me (“who does she think she is in her SUV.  She’ll probably want to fill the whole back up.  Greedy”).  About wanting, picking and buying too damn many strawberries.  So many that my brain  can’t comprehend it.  Refuses to comprehend it at every turn.

By the time I got home with my share of the take, 6 flats of berries (that’s about 60 dollars worth of berries at 1.69 a pound, do the math) I have already eaten more berries than is strictly healthy.  The berry patch people say it’s OK, and that you don’t even have to wash them.  They say that because they don’t spray them with anything but water, and because they’re yummy and copious.  So lets estimate that I ate about 20 berries in the field.  The thing is, that when they’re almost too ripe to pick for home use, they’re SO perfect for eating.  And sun warmed strawberries are so seductively wonderful, it’s just too much for me to resist.  Even after I remind myself about birds (aka flying salmonella factories) flying over the field.

So I’m home parked in front of the house with my garbage-y smelling berries.  Flat after flat of them.  I could only carry them to the porch one at a time.  It was such a richness of berries sitting on my porch.  I didn’t mind carrying them.  I was almost done unloading the car, and when I looked in the trunk to double check, there were still 3 flats in the trunk!  It was like they had multiplied while I was driving home.  I tried to count my blessings.  Carried all 6 flats into the house and commenced to cleaning them.  I cleaned berries for 2 hours.  I made 2 batches of freezer jam.

I took a dinner break and started watching the neighbor baby.  She sat while I cleaned more and made more jam.  I consolidated a flat, emptied out a flat, picked out the pretty ones to dip in chocolate sauce.  After the baby left and I ran out of sugar and sure-jell, I decided to try an experiment with Jell-o.  I have a sister-in-law who makes a killer raspberry jam out of jello and berries.  I only had orange jello.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

But first I have to confess that I actually drank about half of that batch.  It was so, so junky and wonderful.  Orange jello and warm strawberries.  Holy cow.  Now I’m actually starting to have seeds sprout from my skin.  At about 10 I decided it was time to fill the dishwasher and store the remaining flats in the fridge.  this involved more consolidation and some fridge cleaning (as it does every year).  I managed to fit them all in the fridge and got ready to crank up the dishwasher when I went to collect any stray dishes.

You know that Psycho music that plays during the shower scene?  That’s what played when I looked into the dining room.  There on the table was ANOTHER flat of berries, untouched by me.  How could there still be 5 flats here?  I am so strawberried out.  But in January I’m gonna be happy.

6 word memoir

That was my challenge from my big buddy Dave .

What do you think?  I couldn’t decide which was more appropriate among the following:

If only I weren’t so goofy.

It was fun while it lasted.

My mom said, “You just do.”

Trying hard not to be mean.

I remember we laughed so hard.

Why was it all so hard?

Struggling to be better than average.

Trying to accept being average.

How did we get so lucky?

Why did I eat all that?

I’m turning over a new leaf.