Archive for June, 2010

Jun 30 2010

Megan’s Marathon

Published by under Country Life,Family

One procedure down, so many to go…

Dentist B recommended a specialist in lovely Healdsburg, the heart of Sonoma County’s wine region. I’m sure it would have been fun to go there for shopping or wine tasting instead of a root canal, as Megan did yesterday.

As it was, the specialist’s office was very fancy (vanilla water to rinse with, anyone?) and more like a spa than a dentist’s office. The pain was minimal to unnoticeable, at least by my sister’s stoic standards. Thank goodness for excellent dental insurance, which covers all but around $80 of the pricy procedure.

It was news to me that root canals are done in three part disharmony. Fortunately, Parts Two and Three can be handled by local Dentist B, so dental-related road trips are over for now.

Today, she’s heading to Willits to get her pre-operative EKG and blood tests done. There was some debate about the length of time she needed to have between the root canal and the knee surgery, and the date of July 15 was settled on for the knee surgery, which will also take place in Willits.

Just for fun, Part Two of the root canal will be two days before the surgery.

One thing about living so far out in the boonies is that simple to simple-ish things become much more complicated and time-consuming. Instead of just hopping in a cab and doing your shopping or seeing the dentist, it’s an all-day affair. It took at least four hours of driving to get the root canal, and it will be close to that for the tests today. Even going to the Safeway is what we call “the three hour tour”.

But It will be good to get it all done, and hopefully she’ll be able to enjoy some of the summer and eat something other than mashed potatoes and pudding at the Fourth of July barbecue at Lu’s house.

2 responses so far

Jun 27 2010

Weekend Update

Published by under Cats,Dogs,Family,Travel

Audrey’s new hangout

  1. I followed my sister’s advice and complained to the Motel 6 manager. He apologized and is going to mail me a gift certificate good at any Motel 6 in the entire US of A. I said thanks, but privately wondered why companies whose products have disappointed you offer you more of the same disappointing product to make up for it. “Sure, we lost your luggage and nearly killed you, but hey, why not try it again for free?”

    I kept that thought to myself, though.

  2. Rob did fix the cat door of death. It’s sealed at all times, though I guess I could take the cover off during the day. It seems unnecessary with all the other doors being open, some of them in a so far vain attempt to get rid of the booze’n’condiment smell in the pantry.
  3. It looks like we’ll have to come up with a Plan B for Star the foster dog if/when Meg has her knee surgery done. Star is just one of those dogs who like to chase anything that crosses her path, from quail to kitties, and the thought of her chasing my remaining kitty makes me quail, so she can’t stay here post-op as originally planned. Hopefully our collective ingenuity will come up with an alternative which will stop Star from bouncing on Megan in her Tigger-like fashion while keeping the local cats un-chased.
  4. Speaking of cats, Harriet got sick of being an invalid yesterday and took off all day. [Update: she’s back!] I’m hoping this means that her leg is feeling better, though still dislocated, and also that she is back home by now (it’s too early to call and find out). Megan is much more philosophic about these things than her paranoid big sister. She says, “She’s lived here all her life, and if she doesn’t come home, it’s because she doesn’t want to.” Whereas I have already called Audrey with treats because it’s 8:00 and I haven’t seen her since I let her out two hours ago. She came, ate the treats, and left.

You can see in the picture that she has a new place to hang out. It’s to the left of the sliding glass doors and to the right of the bathroom door leading to the porch (the surprisingly useful one). I’m not sure why this part of the house is open like that, but I’m planning to put potted plants in there one of these days.

That’s one of my vague home improvement plans, like painting parts of the exterior, finishing the de-hippifying and clean-up of the garden, and doing something about that godawful lime green floor in the foyer and bathroom that may or may not ever happen. However, Mark has promised to buy me new carpet for the sleeping loft, so once that’s installed, maybe it will spur me to get going on the other projects.

Or not.

5 responses so far

Jun 26 2010


Published by under Calamity Suzy,Cats

Drinking bottled water really makes the recycling pile up, my friend. I notified Rob a couple of days ago that one of the recycling bins was full, even by his exacting standards (you would not believe how much stuff he can jam into one bin). The dump is only open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, so notification is essential.

I was washing the dishes in hose water when I heard a mighty crash. I thought it might be Rob hard at work, but it turned out to be gravity. One of the shelves in the pantry had given way, depositing full bottles of brandy (it’s medicinal!), wine, beer, and partly full jars of peanut butter (organic!) and soy sauce (“low” sodium!).

You can imagine the smell.

I stood there for a little while in my silly sandals, contemplating the mess and how to clean it up. After a period of reflection, I went and put on my trusty sneakers, got the mop, filled the bucket in the shower, and went to work. First, I swept up the glass, trying not to breathe too deeply, and put it in a paper bag, which then went in the not full recycling bin.

Then I mopped the floor, and since there’s a drain in the floor, I figured I could use the hose to rinse it. Alas, the hose was not there. While wondering where the hose had gone (is there a lively hose nightclub scene in Hooterville which I don’t know about?), I decided that this was probably the perfect opportunity to face reality and put away June’s dish after I washed the glass and booze out of it.

I called Mark, and it turned out that he had repo’d the hose. He said he’d bring it back.

While waiting for the hose’s return, Rob came by to really take the recycling. He pointed out the serious design flaw that led to the crash, and also pointed out that it could have been worse. After all, Audrey could have been eating in the direct path of the bottles. And two bottles of beer survived.

You have to look at the bright side.

When Mark brought the hose, Rob quite correctly assessed my hose skills and took over the rinsing job himself. He also took the recycling and went off to make me a new shelf.

What would I do without him? I hope I never find out.

Update: I just sprayed Nature’s Miracle on it. I’m not sure it’s quite that miraculous, though. Is anything?

Further Update: I heard water running, and discovered water pouring into the pantry. Hey, it’s thoroughly rinsed now. It still smells like….nothing I’ve ever smelled.

Mark ran over and fixed it. Nothing like Dial-A-Boy when you really need it.

2 responses so far

Jun 25 2010


Published by under Country Life

Stand back!

On Wednesday, there was hazy sunshine, so I decided to use my newish-to-me washer to do the laundry and hang it outside to dry, thus saving propane and the planet with one easy stroke.

But the sunshine was even lazier and less effective than the local spiders, and soon vanished, presumably to go and hang out by someone’s pool and drink their free booze. The clothes still weren’t dry after dinner. So I brought the drying rack into the pantry and left it there overnight, thinking I’d try again on Thursday. But Thursday was so foggy that the air was wet and coiffure destroying (if I actually had a coiffure). I went to town to meander some errands, and when I came back, everything was still veiled in fog, so I just gave in and tossed the damp clothes into the dryer, with its propane-revealing hole burning away merrily (see above).

It’s not easy being green. Or even green-ish. If I were really green, I’d wash everything by hand and hang it on the line no matter what the weather, like my English grandmother did. Though she wasn’t subject to June Gloom*. I recently heard that term for the cold, foggy days and soul-deadening white skies around here, and my heart kind of sank when I realized it was a thing and not a fluke. You don’t name a fluke.

While on my way to town, I was simultaneously delighted and inconvenienced by repairs being made to the Ridge near the store. Hot asphalt (or tar?), big rolly things to press it down, the works. I asked one of the flag men how far they were planning to go down the road and he didn’t know, so I told him my address and suggested that it go at least that far, maybe a little further. He said he’d get right on it.

He may have been kidding.

Near Big River, there was more traffic-stopping road work. This time, I could watch the steel grey sea and reflect on how there probably is no other town in America that looks quite like Mendocino. It seems that here there are two seasons, too: winter and construction.

*Apparently, June Gloom is frequently preceded by May Gray. Yay.

2 responses so far

Jun 24 2010

Suzy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

Published by under Uncategorized

Mike’s most recent post reminded me of a long-ago episode in the sitcom of my life, starring Dad, Self, and a cast of thousands. Spiders, that is.

I spent a summer brat-bashing on the French Riviera when I was in my teens. Despite the presence of, you know, children, it was pretty much the best job I ever had. I was paid to hang out on the beach, had a whole tower to myself, and if I had a license then, I would have had access to a white MG to drive à la Grace Kelly up and down the Corniches (though probably with the same results, so maybe it’s just as well).

When I came home, I went to sleep in my room and woke up in the wee hours, as the jet-lagged tend to do. Seeing a spider crawling toward me across my previously unsullied pillow made me scream and wake up simultaneously. I went racing to my parents’ room, where my light-sleeping father was already awake and annoyed.

I gabbled crazily about the spider invasion and the urgency of its immediate removal as he grumped toward my room. He suggested that we make sure the spider wasn’t merely the advance scout for an army of invaders, and pulled my bed away from the wall. There was, as he had predicted, an entire nest of the little monsters, all just waiting for me to go to sleep so they could attack me.

Grinning evilly, he scooped them up in his hand and chased me through the house with them. We all ended up outside on the dark,dew-soaked grass, me screaming, Dad laughing, and the spiders wondering what the hell was going on.

On Dad’s next trip to Sweden, he bought me a silver choker in the shape of a spider in its web. He thought it was hilarious.

He’d probably find it hilarious that one of the major house-keeping challenges (and I am not good at house-keeping of any kind, even in the Zsa Zsa sense) of my hippie hovel is spiders. They are everywhere, as are bugs, and they are constantly festooning everything with cobwebs. While they are slackers in bug catching, they are over-achievers in web spinning. No sooner do you remove one, whether web or spider, than another takes its place. It’s like an arachnid Sorcerer’s Apprentice around here.

A couple of days ago, I brushed every single cobweb from the balcony, a much bigger undertaking than it sounds. The very next morning, there was a giant, outsized spider web in the arch of the balcony, a spider “Screw you”.

4 responses so far

Jun 23 2010

Pee Wee’s Playhouse

Published by under Cats

Audrey chilling in her clubhouse. No grown-ups allowed!

Not ready for her close-up

The girls have always been good at adapting to whatever circumstances they find themselves in. First, they went from the safety of their mother to the weirdness of my loft, the converted woodworking shop of a Victorian coffin factory, where they shared the space with an elegant German Shepherd, the Lovely Rita.

Then they were taken on an airplane far, far away, then in a car, then in a hotel somewhere. After that, they moved into a little house in a scary city. But they always had each other, and no matter what happened, they could curl up together and forget about it all.

Recently, they were driven a long way to a house in the country, where they shared the space with the stray cat their girl had brought from the scary city for no known reason. But they were too busy exploring the woods and the novelty of going outside to worry about that. And anyway, time took care of that problem.

Now June is gone, and I wonder what Audrey thinks. Is she lonely? Does she miss her sister? They were together before she was born, and the reason I adopted Audrey along with June was that they spent so much time together, even when they were just a few days old.

Audrey is adjusting well to her new regime, as she always has. Above, you see her hanging out in the garden on the table left over from Rose’s funeral fiesta, which is her little club house. I bet she’ll be sorry when Mark gets around to taking it away.

She’s been sleeping more, and spending more time in the house and with me. She hasn’t gone bananas asking to go out at night, maybe because the novelty is gone, or maybe because she knows what happened to June, or maybe because she’s one of the best-adjusted cats around.

When I’m reading in bed at night, she sits on my lap, or climbs onto my chest so she covers my face with her fur (making reading challenging), or, my personal favorite, curls up against my side with her head on my chest, purring. She sleeps on the bed most of the night now, which she never did before.

Before June’s disappearance, I complained to Megan that Audrey was like a college kid, coming home for food and laundry and then going out with her friends all night. Now it’s like she knows I need her. Maybe she needs me, too.

One response so far

Jun 22 2010

From Bad to Worse

Published by under Cats,Family

Let’s review.

In the past couple of months, I have lost two of my three adored (and adorable) cats. My sister’s dog hurt her leg, then she hurt her leg, then her cat hurt her leg. Three weeks after her injury, my sister is still waiting for a date for her surgery, and woke up with excruciating dental pain early this morning.

It turns out that her dentist is, wait for it, having knee surgery, so she was referred to a different and unknown dentist, who she saw first thing this morning. She has an abscessed tooth, and the replacement dentist wanted to drain it on the spot and do a root canal. My sister said no. The next appointment they had was in July, but she took it and a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers and went home.

Back home, she called Lu, who called in a favor to her own dentist, who Meg is going to see on Thursday. Lu’s dentist recommended that Meg also take ibuprophen to bring down the swelling, which not only worked, but was not suggested by Dentist One. I think Dentist Two is definitely the way to go.

However…the root canal/abscess situation complicates the knee surgery situation, assuming that a date is ever set. They do blood tests before surgery to make sure there’s no infection or high white blood cell count, and there will be until the tooth thing is dealt with. God only knows how this will affect the whole worker’s comp bureaucracy.

And in other fun news, it looks like Megan’s cat, Harriet, may have to have to have her leg amputated. Apparently the fix it surgery is less likely to be effective when the femur is as dislocated as Harriet’s is – you can see it through her skin, the poor thing – so she might go through the surgery and find it doesn’t work in the long term. Supposedly cats adjust well to being three-legged, but I have to say the prospect kind of fills me with horror.

As I was making chocolate pudding for my poor sister today, I pondered the family curse and its remarkable creativity. It never stops coming up with new and horrible ways to mess with us. I’m beginning to think it might be worth finding a gypsy to remove the curse.

4 responses so far

Jun 21 2010


Published by under Country Life

The reason I couldn’t park in front of my house when I returned from my botched Santa Rosa jaunt was that Mark is re-doing the wacky water system on the property. Everyone’s cars were parked at the front for several days to make room for the work.

This wouldn’t have been a problem, except for Megan being on crutches. It seemed like a really long way to the car, and we overshopped once, not thinking of how we were going to get the heavy bags down the driveway with Star on a leash and Megan on crutches. Oops. We had to call for reinforcements.

Day One kicked off with a guy cutting a trench more than two feet deep the entire length of the driveway, cutting through roots and miscellaneous pipes and other things. The machine looked kind of like a tractor:


And here’s the trench:


This is the view from my balcony in the early evening after the whole thing was dug, with Luna keeping an eye on things:


Filling in the trench once the pipes are in place. That’s Mark in the background, probably wishing it was all over:


For most of two days, the water had to be turned off. Fortunately, I still had my winter emergency water supply to drink and flush the toilet with. There’s nothing like having the water turned off to make you actually want to do the dishes.

Everyone else on the property is hooked up to the new and improved water tank. The tank is enclosed, unlike the old one – toplessness is much less desirable in a water tank than it is on a Riviera beach – and is much bigger. So the water should taste better.

I’m currently hooked up to the garden hose (as seen above), so the water smells and tastes like lawn clippings. Lawn clippings are much better to smell than to taste, and since it’s about 80 sunny degrees out, the “cold” water is kind of hot, which is somewhat alienating when brushing your teeth.

Mark is hoping to get me connected to the new tank over the next few days. Apparently there are (surprise!) complications and weirdnesses relating to how the water was or wasn’t connected at my house, James sparing no eccentricity when it came to his own house, too. All through the water project, Mark has been rolling his eyes, shaking his head, and saying, “Yames!”

2 responses so far

Jun 20 2010


Published by under Cats,Country Life

I was drinking my thimbleful of coffee and reading Postsecret, my usual Sunday morning routine, when I noticed a movement under the stairs.

It was a mouse!

I screamed, spilled coffee everywhere, and looked for Audrey, who was peacefully sitting on the back porch, having a bath and completely oblivious to the terror of her unpaid and adoring servant. The intruder retreated under the refrigerator, and when Audrey finally meandered into the house, she sat near it, clearly on alert. It’s the first time I’ve seen a mouse in the house since I moved in. Obviously the mice are taking advantage of the abrupt drop in the cat population.

While Audrey was still on patrol, Megan and I went to the Safeway, so she could buy groceries and I could re-up my supply of Vitamin B(ooze) and Vitamin C(hocolate) and get asked for ID by the cashier. I explained that I was twice the required age and showed him my driver’s license. “It’s a fake,” he said, winking.

When I got home, there was bird poop on the leather bench in front of my couch, which doubles as a footrest and a coffee table.

I leave the doors open during the day, whether I’m here or not, so I’m guessing that the Steller’s Jay who keeps flying into the sliding glass doors in the living room finally made it inside. There were no feathers or bodies to be seen, so I’m assuming that both the home invaders have moved on.

3 responses so far

Jun 19 2010


Published by under Country Life

The new bees

I’m not sure if I have already reported the sad but true fact that our bees didn’t make it through the long, cold winter, but they didn’t. Unbeknownst to us, their hive was open at the bottom, so it’s likely that they froze to death. Bees like it warm and toasty, and being exposed to freezing and sub-freezing temps is not to their liking.

The boys took the hive apart and sealed up the bottom. Ants* had robbed most of the honey, but there was enough left over to attract new bees! A local bee expert came by a few days ago and told us that the new bees are local (the former bees were Italian Blonde imports) and that they seem to have a Queen, so all systems should be go. He gave us some protein powder to help feed them.

I like the idea that the local bees found the disused hive and took it over. There are at least as many as there were before, maybe more. I hope we can keep this colony going. We’ve learned a lot since we first started keeping bees, and I’m still hoping to take a class or two.

*Ants here are giant, for some reason. Not quite sci-fi size, but pretty big.

5 responses so far

Jun 18 2010

It Takes a Village

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Dogs

Is that a treat, or are you just happy to see me?

Since Megan’s been sidelined by her ongoing injury – two weeks since her MRI and no surgery date in sight – she’s had to ask for help training Star. We want to keep the training sessions going, since the newspaper piece should appear on July 1 and we’re hoping to show Star off to prospective adoptive parents at the big Humane Society event on July 10.

Fortunately, Megan has built up a lot of goodwill over the years, and people have been really helpful, donating their time and expertise to make Star the best Star she can be (and the most adoptable).

Yesterday, we met Carol in the village. We handed Star over to her, and she took Star all over the place, meeting new people and dogs. Just the hand-off itself was a minor triumph, since Star had refused to walk with Carol alone on Tuesday.

While Star was out and about and Megan was stranded on a park bench with the latest Victoria Thompson*, I wandered around and took a few photos for you, so you can walk along with me.

Doesn’t it look like it’s 1945 instead of 2010?


Another sign of the passing times:


I checked, and the phone book is still in there. Just in case.

A water tower for you to live in, with a view of the ocean. Looks like a great place to dream and write:


Star did really well, and today she’s playing with Lu’s dogs, Harlow and Marco. She’s come a really long way in the two months we’ve had her. Tonight we’re planning to have a barbecue at my house with Star in attendance. We have to get her used to being here, because if Megan ever has her surgery, Star will have to sleep with me for the first week or so. Megan can’t risk having 52 pounds of musclebound dog jumping on her leg in the middle of the night. Hopefully Audrey can adjust to yet another night time change. And she can sleep upstairs in the dog-free zone.

*Megan introduced me to these fun, Victorian-era whodunits set in New York a few years ago. So I’m next when she’s finished with this one!

2 responses so far

Jun 17 2010


Published by under Cats,Country Life,Henry

Audrey in sunlight and shadow

It was country dark by the time I got home. The city-dwellers among you would be shocked by the totality of the dark, with no streetlights or ambient light other than the stars and a crescent moon.

Driving through the tall redwoods near the end of the drive (we refer to the steep, switch-backed part of the road after Route 128 becomes Highway 1 as “the home stretch”, even though it’s about 7 miles home from there) was quite creepy, with the ancient trees looming over the road, impenetrable darkness outside the comforting glow of the headlights. I tried not to think about Stephen King stories or monsters bursting out of the woods, with varying success.

Arriving at my pitch-black house, I discovered that I couldn’t park in front of it. There was a bunch of chairs blocking the way, so I used Catrin’s space instead. I went inside my house through the surprisingly useful bathroom door on the back porch, closed it, then opened the bathroom door to the hallway. Audrey ran in, and was trapped again for her trouble, as I took a flashlight and unpacked the car.

Once everything was safely in the house, I released my poor kitten and gave her treats. She was very happy to see me. I don’t think either of us enjoyed our day apart. I later learned that Rob came by to check on her, and she was meowing sadly at the door and so lonely that he came back after dinner to sit with her. She’s never been left completely alone before – she always had June Bug, even before she was born – so it must have been hard on her.

I wonder what she thinks about her disappearance. Both girls knew Henry Etta was dead, having sniffed and inspected her, but Audrey must wonder the same way I do. She seems to be adjusting to her nightly imprisonment. She sleeps with me sometimes – which wakes me up with June flashbacks – and although she does claw at the door, especially once day is beginning to break, I just have to suck it up. Better lost sleep than a lost cat.

On the drive home, I thought that this whole nightmare could have been avoided if I had just stood firm and kept them in at night. In retrospect, I cannot believe I ever let my little girls out in the inky blackness full of unseen predators. It literally makes me sick to know that the loss of the magnificent June Bug is entirely my fault and was as preventable and senseless as my father’s death.

Yesterday, Catrin’s cat Fiona wandered in and gave me a shock. Audrey saw her too, and stared for a moment, then ran over to her at warp speed. Realizing it wasn’t June, she shooed her out of the house, and then came over to me to be petted. We sat together for a while, both thinking of our June Bug and, I think, taking comfort in each other’s presence.

4 responses so far

Jun 16 2010


Published by under Bullshit,Travel

Like many/most/all? of my plans, this one kind of backfired on me.

I really wanted to get away. I haven’t had a vacation in literally years, and the last time I left the Golden State was to go to a conference in Florida two years ago, which was a fiasco all the way around. I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere just for fun.

San Francisco is the kind of place, like New York and London, where you take $100 out of the ATM and it vanishes within a few hours, even if you haven’t been shopping. So that was out, and I figured Santa Rosa might be a more reasonably-priced, yet fun alternative. It might have been, if I had stayed somewhere like the Hotel La Rose in the historic district instead of the Motel 6 in strip mall-freeway hell, but price is most definitely an object for me. An objectionable one, in fact.

At the Motel 6, there was not only no coffee maker in the room, there was none on the premises. Usually even the cheapest motels have bad coffee (and sometimes stale doughnuts, completing the free continental breakfast) in the lobby, but in this case, I’d have to drive two miles to the nearest Starbucks while uncaffeinated, a public hazard far more dangerous than talking on a cell phone while driving.

I asked for an extra pillow, the one provided being the approximate thickness and texture of twelve damp Kleenexes wadded together by an incompetent five year old, and was told that they had none. I was so stunned by this assertion that I just went back to my room, where the WiFi was once again not working. I called tech support no fewer than four times in the five hours I was there.

Being there was more depressing than being at the scene of the crime, so I packed up the car and checked out. I was able to get the WiFi charge reversed, but not the cost of the room, so that was a total waste of money as well as time. My sister thinks I should call the manager and complain, but I doubt it will do any good, and I’m willing to bet that he’s heard it all before. Multiple times.

To try and salvage something from the whole experience, I stopped off and picked up some Thai food at a place recommended by some friends. Another case of extreme take-out.

As I headed home in the setting sun, the Giants game on the radio and the rolling Sonoma hills glowing, I realized that wherever you go, you’re still there. You can’t escape your heartache with a change of scene.

4 responses so far

Jun 15 2010

The Surgeon Always Rings Twice

Published by under Cats

Tiny picture of Harriet as a tiny kitten

It turns out that Harriet managed to dislocate her leg from her hip, if I understood all the medical terminology flying around Dr. Karen’s sunlit office yesterday afternoon. Apparently, this is quite a feat for any cat, and can usually only be accomplished with the assistance of a car or a heaping helping of gravity.

Harriet lost her voice years ago*, so she couldn’t explain what happened to her. Although Megan dodged a bullet with Schatzi, who now has approval for longer leash walks, it hit her fair and square with Harriet, who will have to have surgery. With the lethargy of workers’ comp in scheduling Megan’s surgery, it’s anyone’s guess who will go under the knife first.

As for me, I’m off to the bright lights of Santa Rosa, possibly best-known as the perfect small town in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Shadow of a Doubt”, but now best-known as a traffic nightmare for which ten exits are not enough. It’s not a small town anymore.

While I’m enjoying the swank amenities of Motel Six, Audrey will be in solitary confinement, since I’m trapping her in the house while I’m gone. Better safe than sorry. Megan will stop by and check in on her. She’ll probably be glad to see me go, because last night I successfully and expensively Advantaged her, and she gave me the stink eye all night, running away in disdain and disgust if I dared to approach her.

*Though this did not deter her from yowling all the way to the vet’s office. Megan said it was the loudest she’d been in years, so I guess it’s all about motivation. At the office, a woman asked if there was a Siamese in the carrier. I said, “No, just a really pissed-off tabby.”

4 responses so far

Jun 14 2010

Toxic Mama

Published by under Cats

Native silk moth on my front porch

As if being a part-time prisoner weren’t bad enough for Audrey, I sort of poisoned her.

Just a little bit.

For the past couple of months, she’s been scratching a lot, and I had several flea bites. Advantage is expensive, and at the time, I had three cats and one tube of Advantage. So I delayed, thinking I’d wait until summer kicked in to get more. Since the Advantage supply now meets the demand, I figured I’d anoint Audrey with it.

Easier said than done. She hates being picked up, and is incredibly squirmy. Once I tried and failed to pick her up, she was onto me and out the door. She ran away every time she saw me coming, so I waited until she was napping and squidged it on.

Unfortunately, I squidged it on the side of her neck instead of the middle, and about two minutes later, she went racing through the house drooling like mad. I caught up with her under the wheelbarrow, where she continued to drool and stare at me accusingly with her big green eyes.

I called Megan, who advised me to call Dr. Karen (why didn’t I think of that?). Dr. Karen said not to worry, Audrey wouldn’t die. All I had to do was rinse out her mouth and wash off the expensive medication, which probably was not 99% effective in the five minutes it was on Audrey.

Since Audrey was already deeply suspicious of her jailer/attacker, she was not amenable to my grabbing her, oddly enough. So I had to resort to luring her with treats, then seizing her before she’d eaten more than one and carrying her outraged self into the bathroom, where I followed the program as prescribed. Remarkably, I was unscratched, though neither of us was unscathed.

I gave her more treats and she seemed to forgive and/or forget pretty quickly.

I’m going to see Dr. Karen today* and will re-up the Advantage supply and hope for a better result this time.

*Incredibly, Megan’s cat Harriet has injured her back left leg, just like Meg and Schatzi, so I’m helping Meg with carrying her there, since she is still on crutches and awaiting her date with the surgeon.

3 responses so far

Jun 13 2010

Prisoner of Love

Published by under Cats

Poor Audrey. In the short space of a week, she’s gone from having a fun, cool mom like Lorelai Gilmore to having a freaky, overprotective one like Mrs. Bates of the famous motel.

If I haven’t seen her for ten minutes, I’m calling her and looking for her anxiously. Unlike her sister, she never deigns to respond, even if she’s two feet away, and when I find her, she always looks at me as if to say, “What now?”

Unfortunately for her, winning the cat version of “Survivor: Hooterville” means that I’ve been locking her in at night. As soon as darkness falls, I lure her in with treats and then slam the prison doors until dawn. She doesn’t even get reading materials to while away the long hours.

The Alcatraz treatment was slightly hampered at first by the fact that the balcony cat door has fallen out and I keep forgetting to ask Rob to repair it, leaving an empty space where the glass should be. I solved this problem temporarily by putting a stereo speaker in front of it at night.

Yes, Audrey does claw the door a couple of times a night, but it’s better than freaking out about her if she’s out and about in the dark. It doesn’t completely eliminate the freak out, either. I couldn’t find her when I woke up at 4:30 on the first morning, and looked all over the place, calling her. Even though I knew all the doors were closed, I was convinced she’d found some secret way out.

Eventually, I found her sitting in front of the heater, staring as if waiting for a mouse to emerge. Then she started chasing something all over the house, just as I had chased her.

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Jun 13 2010

False Alarm

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Life in Oaktown

The same afternoon Rob put the flyers up at the store and the post office, I had a call from a woman who said she’d seen June.

My heart leaped.

“Where?” I asked excitedly.

“In the long grass by the field where the bull is.”

“Near the store?”


Now, the store is more than five miles away, and June has never been known to venture as far as Mark’s house, but I raced to the car and jounced down the driveway like a bat out of hell. I made it to the field in record time. Shaking a bag of treats (and shaking), I called for June through all the long grass, to the bull’s curiosity and that of drivers-by, but to no avail.

I saw a cat run down a side road and chased it, only to discover it was the wrong cat.

I went to the two houses across the road from the field. No-one was home at one, and at the other, an elderly lady answered the door. She was sympathetic and asked what June looked like, since there was a black cat with white paws (the one I had chased) and a multi-colored one who were often seen around there.

My heart fell as I realized that the caller had seen that cat, not June.

I gave the lady my name and number just in case, and drove slowly home, checking the ditches.

A couple of days later, another woman called just to say she was sorry and was keeping an eye out for June. Like many locals, she had tales of cats who went missing for a month, five months, a year, and turned up one day as if nothing had happened.

As I hung up the phone, I thought how nice it is to live in a small town, where a total stranger will call you up just to try and make you feel better. I remembered when I lived in Oakland and had left the keys in my car door in the driveway. An African-American gentleman had noticed this on his way to church and came to the front door to tell me. When I answered the door, he had his hands up before I said a word.

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Jun 12 2010

Desperately Seeking June Bug

Published by under Cats,Country Life

eveningEvening light last night

Wondering where I’ve been?

I’ve been desperately seeking June Bug.

As you could probably tell from the tone of my last post, I was worried about her right away. When she wasn’t there in the morning, and didn’t come in for breakfast, a little seed of panic bloomed in my heart.

I’ve spent hours scouring the property from one end to the other, peering inside abandoned trailers, cars, boats, strange shackoid structures and the like. It was like an Awful Warning about hoarding. You would simply not believe the amount of decaying things and stuff semi-hidden in these bucolic woods. Most of the trailers and structures were open in one way or another, so she isn’t trapped in any of them. I figure anything I had trouble wrenching open was outside the possibility of someone without opposable thumbs, but I wrenched away anyway.

I looked up and down the logging road behind the house, on the lookout for signs of mountain lions and bobcats, or even, God help me, circling crows and vultures. At the end of the logging road, I walked down the Ridge, spying an abandoned Werther’s Original package in the ditch, which made me wonder if my mother was trying to tell me something. During her final illness, she ate bagfuls of them, always crinkling the wrappers or crunching them furtively. After she died, we found a huge stash of them. It kind of traumatizes me every time I see a bag of them.

I turned onto our driveway and after searching the structures there, stopped at the front house. I got to meet my new neighbor, a nice woman named Laurie who has a cute little Yorkie named Louie. She hadn’t seen June, and Louie would have barked if she had ventured up there, but Laurie said she’d keep an eye out for me.

Other than bothering Laurie, I repeated this procedure repeatedly all week, with the same results.

I made a flyer, and Rob put it up at the store and the post office. I figure everyone in Hooterville goes to one or the other sooner or later. Megan and I put flyers in our neighbors’ mailboxes and on utility poles. So every time I drive down the Ridge or check the mail or go to the store, I’m faced with them. I’m hoping that someone found her and took her in, since she doesn’t have a collar (too dangerous in the woods).

Finally, I took the flyers to the humane society and animal care and control, and checked the rescued cats. I knew she wasn’t there, but it had to be done. It was the worst of all, since it pretty much removed my last tattered shred of hope.

People keep telling me that she’s off on an adventure, but they don’t know June. She is a real homebody, who slept with me every single night, had a nap on the bed every afternoon, came when she was called (unusual for a cat, but she is an unusual cat), and was almost always visible around the house when she was outside. Megan, Mark and Laurie all say that they have never seen her at their houses, so she never went far. Audrey is the adventurous one, not June.

So I’ve lost two cats in two months. It’s heart-breaking.

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Jun 05 2010

Birthday Loot

Published by under Cats,Henry,Special Occasions

Flowers from the farmers’ market:


A beautiful card from the girls:


So true!

The lamp of my dreams. It’s from Monica’s store of fabulosity, and I have longed for it for months. It was well out of my price range, but Lu and Megan chipped in and got it for me! I cried. It’s handmade, with buttons and iridescent beading:


A close-up:


It adds a touch of civilization to the sleeping loft. And it goes perfectly with my duvet cover, seen here, modeled by Henry and June.

Speaking of June: I haven’t seen her all day, and I have to admit to a certain level of anxiety. Unlike most cats, June does indeed come when she’s called – at least, most of the time – and she has never, to my knowledge, let a feeding time go by without paying its due attention. She skipped breakfast, and as I write, I have yet to see so much as her little pink nose or a white paw.

I have called her and looked through the bushes near the house, Junk Alley, and the logging road to no avail. I asked Mark, and he said that she didn’t venture as far as their house, but he’d keep an eye open. I went all the down to my brother’s old house at the very end of the driveway, but nothing.

Given the kitty mortality rate lately (Henry; my friend Dali’s cat Delpi; my niece and nephew’s 18 year old cat Tiffy; and Rose’s lovely old cat Gertie), I can’t help but worry. Think good thoughts that my little June Bug comes home safe and sound. And soon.

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Jun 04 2010

Not Up to Code

rainyjasmineRain on the honeysuckle

As you can see, I gave myself a new look for my birthday!

According to my birth certificate, I was born at 10:38 am, which I think is a very civilized hour. So many babies insist on interrupting their mother’s beauty sleep to be born in the middle of the night. Or worse yet, at cocktail hour. So inconsiderate!

Since I was born in New York State, that means I’m turning a year older right about now….

And what an uninspiring day it is. Dark, rainy, depressing. I don’t think it has rained on my birthday since I moved to California all those years ago. The weather seems to have forgotten that it is supposed to get sunny in April and stay that way until November. They say old habits are hard to break, but it seems to have no trouble whatsoever positively shattering them.

It’s not looking good for fun on my birthday. The weather precludes any expotitions anywhere; the dogs won’t want to put as much as a paw outside; the birthday BBQ is cancelled; and I will have to make my own birthday dinner, since Megan is laid up for the duration.

I spent my birthday eve watching a couple of pre-Code movies about wicked women and drinking Cosmoplitans. Not only did they each have my favorite credit, “Gowns By”, they also lasted just over an hour each, which is perfect for me. Keep it zippy, is what I say.

First up was “Midnight Mary”, starring Loretta Young as the unlucky title character whose story is told in flashbacks as she is on trial for murder. Starting out with a poverty-stricken childhood leading to a mistaken conviction for shoplifting and an inadvertent turn as lookout for a couple of gangsters, Mary is rescued from a life of crime and debauchery by a wealthy playboy (former Barbara Payton plaything Franchot Tone), but her past catches up with her…

Filmed in 1933, the movie includes a scene of Mary losing her virginity in the back of car; whispering promises of sexual favors to come into her lover’s ear (while he licks her fingers); a baby born cheerfully out of wedlock to no-one’s chagrin; and women being slapped around by their lovers.

Next up was “Three on a Match”, with Joan Blondell being her wise-cracking self, Bette Davis in frightening platinum blonde hair, and Ann Dvorak as the girl who has everything. To lose. The three girls go to public school together, where Blondell’s character is a wayward hoyden, Dvorak’s a spoiled princess, and Davis hard-working and ambitious.

The girls grow up and run into each other by accident, sharing the title match and laughing about the superstition. Blondell is a stage star, Davis a stenographer, and Dvorak is married to a wealthy lawyer and has a young son, but is discontented with her life. She decides to take the boy and go for a refreshing trip to Europe with her adoring husband’s reluctant approval, but on the boat meets a handsome gambler and runs away with him, taking the boy with her.

Her sexy out of wedlock idyll soon degenerates into filthy rooms scattered with empty bottles and cigarette butts, as she lies on the unmade bed in a stupor, ignoring her hungry child. The gambler owes money to gangsters (one of whom is no less than Mr. Humphrey Bogart, in his earliest tough guy role), they are both addicted to cocaine, and the boy is dirty and neglected. The gangsters discuss killing the child in front of his drug-addled mother, who makes a spectacular sacrifice to save him.

All this and more in just over an hour. Look for Jack Webb’s (“Dragnet”) earliest film appearance as a boy in the schoolyard at the beginning of the film.

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