Friday, July 31, 2020

Happy Birthday Spartacus

A good friend has asked when I would write another blog. What would I blog about? I already did one about the Pandemic and isolation. Nothing interesting about that, really. I'm doing some renovations. Nothing fancy.

Black Lives Matter? You know I'm onboard. You also know that I'm a white female, and my opinion is not required. I'm quietly relearning history and opening my eyes to some ugly truths that have been going on for hundreds of years. I'm pissed off, but now is not the time to vent. Now is the time to listen and read up.

Still writing and editing. Nothing is new.

But on the first of July, I got triggered somehow. I realized that on August first, Spartacus Jones would have been 8 years old.  I cried for three days. That's tomorrow now, and it still hurts. We lost him six months ago.

I'm reluctant to talk about my pain, especially in times like these. People everywhere are scared. They're losing loved ones and life seems a little crueler than usual. One of my friends asked for prayers for her mother in surgery. Another fears for her terminally ill father, and we pray for her son, who keeps running away. Another of my hometown friends is planning her son's funeral.

This year has been particularly ugly, and I don't want to make light of the pain of others.
But today, I'd like to write about Spartacus Jones. We still love him, and miss him everyday. If he were alive, I would be planning his tuna breakfast. I would give him new toys. I'd give him a new bag of catnip, and a half roll of paper towel to destroy. Then I'd get it on video.

As many know, I believe in the paranormal. I've seen and experienced some very strange things in my lifetime.

Here's a secret: Weeks after Spartacus' death, I was sitting on my couch, crying. I held his box of ashes in the crook of my arm, wishing desperately that I could hug his soft fur instead of sharp cardboard corners. I remember thinking, God, I miss you, Sweet Boy.

I felt a presence. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of pure love and gratitude. It enveloped me. I asked out loud, "Is that you, Baby?" and the feeling grew stronger. I told him we missed him, and we would always love him. I cried and kissed the box. I worried that I would never feel his presence ever again, and I think I'm right. Because although I heard no words, the feeling I got was 'goodbye'. So much love and happiness, so thankful for the life he had with us, but he wanted to rest. Spartacus Jones just wanted to sleep. Then the presence faded away.

I don't feel him, I don't dream about him, and I've never had another experience. But I won't ever forget him, or stop loving him. I know I have to get over him, but it's not that easy. He had a profound effect on our lives.

So tomorrow, Freya will get tuna for breakfast in honor of her brothers. (We lost Sully on this day about seven years ago.) We will continue putting cat food out at night for any strays who need it. We will continue to keep our eyes open for animals who need help. We will wait and see if the universe delivers us another soul in need of a home.

We want another cat in our house, but we wait.  We wait because some day another cat might need to come in from the weather again. And we'll be here with open arms.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Becoming an Introvert

This playground is actually roped off right now.
I actually consider myself an ambivert. I like a good party, dinner and drinks with friends, working in a team environment. I also enjoy my own company. I can be stingy with my time, especially if I'm writing.

My husband and I spent a lot of time at home even before the pandemic, and today is just like any other day of the week. I've been making jokes for years that I'll be a hermit in my old age.

Guess what? It's already happening.

On social media I see people clamoring to end the isolation. When I have to go out, everyone keeps a necessary, painfully formal distance in all things. It's exhausting and I count the minutes until I can go home. I am an ambivert, but I never really thought I'd see the day where I'd scramble to hide from the public. So many people are fighting to come out of isolation. Surely I'm not the only one in retreat? I'm not afraid, just embarrassed to be out and about, like I'm being a jerk.

And here's something else I just realized. I like the mask. I've said I wear the mask to protect others in case I am a carrier, and that is absolutely true. I couldn't bear it if someone got sick because of me. But I like the mask for the same reason I like the city. The anonymity. I like moving through the aisles knowing that I'm not offending or contaminating anyone by breathing on them. I like that no one can see my face or my facial expressions. Like somehow I'm safer from scrutiny. I've never been comfortable with my looks, and wearing a mask lets me not even think about it. No one can judge me behind my hair, glasses and mask. Isn't that silly?

I think I want to stay here.

I can't be the only one who feels this way. Is there anyone else who would rather stay inside? Or am I going agoraphobic?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Earth to Thoeba: Isolation Dreams

Earth to Thoeba: Isolation Dreams: Photo by: Read 01 I'm having weird stress dreams. It started with a waitressing dream, which is a common one for me. I waitressed fo...

Isolation Dreams

Photo by: Read 01
I'm having weird stress dreams. It started with a waitressing dream, which is a common one for me. I waitressed for six years, and it was over twenty five years ago, but when my subconscious wants to screw with me, that's where we go.

It started the same as usual. I'm working alone in a large restaurant when the place fills up with customers. (It happened to me once in real life, but to this day, it's a blur.)  But unlike most waitressing dreams, I keep my head. I formulate a plan, and go about my tasks methodically, with some success.

That is, until customers start to get nasty and strange. One woman stops me so she can berate my appearance. She tells me I look 'slovenly' and 'disgusting'. She then starts plucking Freya fur off my uniform and uses it to decorate her eyelashes and eyebrows. "See?" she snaps. "Like this. Take some pride in yourself for God's sakes."

Before I can reply, another customer directs my attention to a couple of disruptive addicts. They're high as kites and crawling around under the tables pretending they're babies. One of them is Bobcat Goldthwait. I'm told that he and his girlfriend met at a tractor pull. Um....Where are my bouncers? I realize I'm at Patty's in Red Deer, and it's the graveyard shift. We always have bouncers on graveyards. Where are the bouncers? I wake sweaty and relieved that I no longer waitress. ESPECIALLY on graveyards at Patty's.
Bobcat Goldthwait, Police Academy

Just the other day, I dreamed I was in a huge shop that sold EVERY flavor of ice cream in the world. It was wall to wall self serve dispensers, like soft serve. Cotton Candy? My favorite, but I want to be adventurous. Root Beer Float? Second favorite, but I crave something new. Squid ink? Okay, maybe not that adventurous.

What I REALLY want is Salmon flavored. I search for it, but there's no rhyme or reason to the system. I'm walking through miles of aisles and it's starting to piss me off. I REALLY want Salmon ice cream, dammit! Oh shit...I'm lost. How do I get out of this shop? I wake up sweaty, and I think this dream represents my craving for sashimi. God, I love sashimi more than any food in the world. Like silk on my tongue...

The next night, I dream that I work there. Even in the dream, I'm wondering why the Hell am I working in an ice cream shop? I've had enough of Food Industry jobs! But in the dream, I shrug it off. In these uncertain times, I must need the extra pay. Besides, they want me to create a tomato sorbet, and that sounds like fun. Start with vine-ripened tomatoes, maybe add a few heirlooms, like Purple Cherokee...and some basil for extra sweetness. Would garlic still work? Is there such a thing as Garlic Ice Cream?

Then it occurs to me...Is that Fucking Tomato here somewhere? The one with the Bostonian accent? I'd like to grind that bastard into the sorbet--him and his ugly carrot buddy. Then again, what if he shows up while I'm throwing his peeled tomato friends into a blender? I panic and wake up.

My dreams appear to be getting weirder, and I wasn't sure that was possible. However, it did remind me that I don't think I ever told you about my anthology project.

I guess I didn't because it's largely on the backburner. Lately I've had more time to work on it, and I've also developed new material. I've often said many of my book ideas come from dreams. Thoeba was the first, but all of my books have some root in something I've literally dreamed up. I have stories, drabbles and other flash fiction that showcase ideas that don't fit into my angel and demon/ mythology/ reincarnation brand.

Here's what you can expect: I've been a treeplanter who meets an Elemental. I've been an senior center worker who gets kidnapped by fairies. I've been exterminated. I've screamed from mountaintops about being an independently published author. I've met a shadow person. (Every bit as terrifying as they say.) All this and more from my warped subconscious.

I have a story named 'A Town Called Grey'. I tried writing it when I was fifteen, and my mother loved what I'd started. Right now it's too long, but still vague. It might not make the cut, but I'll finish it for my mom. No, I don't think it should be a novel. It might make a good Outer Limits episode.

I'm still working on it, but I can tell you about it now because it's actually coming together. How soon? I don't know. I'm just going to keep writing. So wish me luck, and I hope you enjoyed a silly blog after the last two sad ones.

And for the record--I've dreamed of Spartacus once. Last time I saw him in dreams, he was hairless, and I kissed the Hell out of him. We really miss that sweet boy.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Thank you.

This was a week after he got here.
I want something to do with my heart. I need to find a way to lift it, spice it....something. I can't handle the bleakness of grief. I can't handle the short journey from my porch through my door, because there is no Spartacus Jones waiting for me. It's the worst part of my day. So, I'm writing another grief blog. I've said so much, but I feel like I haven't said enough.

By the way, thanks for ignoring my punctuation, grammar, sentence structure and  other screw ups a writer knows better than to publish. I've been told my words were beautiful but they are the ramblings of a half-plastered cat lady that didn't know how else to express herself.

Honestly? This hurts every bit as bad as losing my father. Yes, really. It's a different kind of pain, but it's still monstrously painful.

There are two kinds of people in this world. There are pet owners and generally kind people who, upon hearing of the death of anyone's pet will express meaningful, empathetic or at least sympathetic condolences. Then there are the others. The ones whose eyes will glaze over as they excuse themselves from the irritation and discomfort of a grieving pet owner. It's just a cat. 
This was the day he arrived.

But eventually, everyone will tire of it. They have lives to live, and while this is all very sad, it's not their shit to hold.

So right now, I'm avoiding humans. Everyone. First, I'd like to thank all of you in my real world and the world of social media for all the sweet messages. I often wonder why I write whiny blogs and post them on all my social media accounts, but I think I understand why I do it.

Right before I leave my garage, right before I take the short walk to my back door, I sit in my vehicle and cry. I shriek, I howl, I sob and let rivers of tears and snot drip down my face. I scream as loud as I can, inside the SUV. Then I straighten up, lock up, and check my mail. I unlock my back door, and feed Freya.

This blog, and the one before it, are the writer's version of screaming into silence. I can be truthful with myself in that I announced the death of Spartacus Jones on social media and wrote the blog for attention. My heart broke, and the world continued without him.
It's my scream in the garage, but I needed you to care. I'm a little ashamed to admit, I needed all your likes, hearts, sad icons and comments. Dan and I feel somewhat isolated right now, and I drank your comments and icons up. Now I know why they call it 'Thirsty'. Still doesn't stop me from doing it.

It's like, "I don't want to see or talk to anyone, but I still need you to comfort me." Weird, eh?  But whatever. It's working.

It actually helps.I may look like a crazy cat lady and a fool, but I know I needed this. So I just wanted to say Thank You.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Goodnight, Sweet Spartacus Jones

This is going to be a long, hard blog. Am I feeling sorry for myself? Absolutely. But as all blogs I write of my pain, I am hoping someone else can learn from them. Like a friend pointed out, she lost her dog due to kidney failure, and she would have liked to know what she should have looked for.

We put Spartacus Jones down today. This is where I purge my grieving heart and tell you what to look for when your pet starts suffering kidney failure, and what you can expect when you have to put them down.

I think it was a week ago, that he started vomiting a little. Not a big deal...maybe a hairball? But there was nothing in it. I happened twice more in two days. I still wasn't alarmed, but I started keeping an eye on it.
Suddenly, my little piggy, the cat that ate everything and asked for more wasn't eating. He was still excited at dinner time, but he would sniff at his wet food, and walk away, prefering to lap at the water dish.

This set off alarm bells. My cousin had a Siamese who died from kidney failure. The first thing she noticed was that he drank A LOT of water. Spartacus was good about drinking water, but he never missed a meal. And he most certainly didn't prefer water to food. Off to the vet.
They weighed him, did some tests. Showed us some scary numbers. Something was definitely wrong. Funny thing we hadn't noticed....He'd lost an entire pound since December. That's bad.  But we'd been told to put him on a diet, and we limited his food supply. We thought our efforts were working. I can't pretend that I understand all of the stats, but I quickly figured out that if a BUN should be at ten or twelve then a FORTY TWO was not good! There were other numbers--Creatine was at 710, when it should be at 212 at the most. Phosphorus was at 4.75 when it should have been around 2.65.

I didn't want to take him to the south end clinic over the weekend. That clinic has a shitty reputation for putting pets down regardless. Thankfully, they gave us another option, and my husband and I stepped up.

This meant six different ways to the cure. It meant two different probiotic powders to be delivered by food, two doses,-24 hours apart of a digestive half of a pill that he fought tooth and nail and wouldn't eat even via treats, a syringe of digestive painkiller that he also managed to fight off, eye drops that pissed him off that he also fought vigorously against, and lastly, the saline treatment. He was great about those, and didn't fight them, but I had to learn immediately how to poke a needle into his flaps of skin and we had to keep him calm while 150 milliliters of saline solution went in. Twice a day. We got up early to do it before work, and did it again around dinner time. For three days. I can tell you that was not fun, but we would do anything to help him, and he was a really good boy about that. I'm proud of myself and my husband and Spartacus too. It was awful, but we did whatever it took. Back to the vet for another treatment.

     The worst part of this? I did this all to make Spartacus well. I know full well that TRUST is everything to a cat. Trust is equal to love. When a cat gives you that slow blink? It means, "I trust/love you so much. I can take my eyes off you and know you'll never hurt me." He no longer trusted me. I did all of this to heal him, and he started to dread my presence.

Vet calls for another treatment., with a urinalysis.We agree to bring him in again, as early as possible.

     But in the time between getting Spartacus home, and the appointment, Spartacus started to breathe very heavily. It started by him still not eating. I watched him, and noted that I could actually see his pulse rippling over his skin. This looks bad. What do I do? They're closed, and the only vet hospital open in the one I fear, the one I'm afraid to trust. I camp in the basement with Spartacus Jones and watch. He eats a tiny bit, and retreats to pulsate. I wake Dan, and he thinks we should wait. Maybe it's just because he has so much saline in his skin that it's just his body processing so much solution? He'll go to vet soon. He'll be okay.

     His appointment is at 8:40, but I don't care. I've been up for a few hours, and I need them to check him out NOW. Then I leave for work, secure in the knowledge that they'll fix my boy.

     Our vet, Dr, Kelly called me at work around eleven a.m. She needed to speak to me about 'options'. Luckily, I had few jobs to do that day, and I could be there by 12:30.
     There were no options. She'd spoken to as many specialists she knew of, and the result was the same. There was talk of cancer. If we kept treating the kidneys, his lungs will fill with fluid, because he had heart congestion. If we treated the heart and lungs, it would destroy his kidneys. Spartacus would die, no matter what happened , no matter what we did now.

     Maybe I should have had him put down then. Dan was already on his way, after talking to Dr. Kelly. Maybe I should have saved Spartacus some suffering, but I didn't want him to die there, in a place that had caused him so much pain and aggravation. He hated that place and had made at least three escapes from the cat carrier. My vet gave me numbers, so that I could arrange for Spartacus to die at home.

     Only 'Wellnes's had the time to do it within 48 hours. We made an appointment for 11 a.m. today, and they were sweet and sympathetic. Even at the very end, Spartacus approached the stranger, with her gear of medicine and needles, with sweet eyes and a hope for cuddles. Kelsey pet him, and told him he was a beautiful cat. She told him she especially loved his adorable nose spots.

I held Spartacus in my arms, while Dan looked him in the eyes an told him what a pleasure it was to love him. Spartacus died with his eyes open. From the time she administered the injection, I felt three heartbeats thump through his body, and then he was still. I didn't let go yet. It was the last time I would ever hold him, so I wanted to make it last.

We brought his body upstairs to tell Freya. They told us we need to make her understand what was happening, but while Spartacus was dying, she was trying to get outside. We brought him upstairs, and let her smell him. Her eyes went wide, and she recoiled. It looked like "What the fuck?!"  Dan went to pet her and she hissed at him. I don't blame her. Now she's trying to comfort us with cuddles and purrs, but she doesn't look at either of us. She's wearing a strange look that looks like a human version of shock. I think it's occurred to her that her pain in the ass is gone, and she's the only cat in the house. I'm not sure she's comfortable with that after all, even though she wasn't fond of him.

As painful as this is. It was the right thing to do. I suppose I'll we'll always wonder if we could have done more, but according to my vet, we really did do everything. I don't regret the cost. I just regret that Spartacus suffered and all of that time and money was pointless.

As I'm writing this, Dan and I are talking about how guilty we feel....we're relieved that he's not suffering, and that he went without strife, no foaming at the nose and mouth, leaking from the anus, twitching or any other kinds of ickiness
death things that one could have expected.. He simply relaxed and found the sleep he so desperately needed. We think he was relieved.

If you have questions, I'm happy to answer them. I want my experience to be helpful. For example: Someone on my Facebook page suggested pumpkin, among other things, and I'd like to pass on the information if I can.

Please be kind. I've lost the love of my life, and my husband has lost his best friend.
Thanks for letting me purge. I don't know if this blog will help anyone, but I feel a bit better. Not that this is not exceptionally painful, but I need you to know we adored him. That we exhausted all means to save him, and we still lost him. It was my birthday two days ago, and I wished for a healthy cat. Too bad the universe doesn't care what day it is when death is the plan.

I have one regret...As hard as it was for us to let Spartacus Jones go...I wish we would have saved him the suffering and done it sooner. I wish he didn't have to heave and struggle to breathe overnight. I should have realized he just needed it to end.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year 2020

I have to admit...2019 was actually pretty good to me.

I brought my Mom and sister home to Edmonton, got a new job, great little paid-for SUV, and we paid off our house.

I even got to spend Christmas with both my Mom and sister for the first time in eleven years.

The only thing that didn't work out was writing.

That is something I intend to fix in 2020. Not just because I have work to publish, but because I want that part of my life back. 2019 was kinda crazy, but certain stressors have been erased now, because of everything this past year. There should be more time to embrace and take joy in writing once again.

You know what else I resolve to do in 2020? I'm going to read those books Dad left me on basic home maintenance. Now that the house is paid off, wouldn't it be cool to be able to fix my own plumbing? Install my own floor maybe? At the very least, it should help me know what needs to be done around here, and maybe we can either DIY or get it done without getting ripped off. Maybe we can figure out the problem and repair it before costs get unmanageable.

I resolve to be gentler with myself. Now that I make my own hours, I don't have to push myself as hard. I don't have to get all the jobs done in one day. A little at a time will do. I have a new plan of action. A little bit of work/exercise a day will leave a little energy for other things too. No more work till I drop with major crash afterwards.

I am also going to eat more vegetables. I mean it this time. There has to be a way of making them satisfying and filling. Damn it, I just made myself hungry and all I want is more garlic sausage.

What about you? What are your resolutions? Do you make any? How was 2019 to you?