It's that spring-cleaning time of the year (yes, always a little delayed in these parts), when work demands are winding down and I begin to sift through the piles of paper on my desk to see if there's anything worth keeping and to contemplate doing the filing that's banked up in the top drawer of the cabinet. And even a cull of the Inbox: I have 325 unopened emails (it's a bit like a float; I know I've got mail when I have 326 unopened emails).
Problem is, I am a hoarder, a reluctant de-clutterer disinclined to throw anything out in case it might come in handy sometime (even a stray scrap of information in an email from 2005). Apparently hoarding is a sign of OCD, or perhaps of having Scottish and Irish Presbyterian forbears.
I also have a host of text messages stored in my phone which surely deserves a good purge one day. I am possibly even more attached to this inventory of trivia than my email Inbox. It presents a palimpsest of daily life gone by, admittedly often of banal exchanges -- 'C U!', 'C U then!', & 'R U up 4 a ride?', etc -- that should be deleted though there's some gems I'd rather keep. I've even kept my old phones because some of the texts seem too priceless to jettison, like those from the time when I was in hospital. (Er, perhaps you could just write them down somewhere -- Ed.)
Last Wednesday I was finally re-united with F, my massage therapist after going six weeks without a massage (it made a difference -- a bad one). She broke her foot and I went up north for a while. Anyway, on my return, she told me the tragic news that Charley, the family cat, had been missing for a month. They'd had someone's kids staying, and Charley had taken off in high dudgeon, on the pretext that he wanted to crap outside late at night. He didn't come back, the next day or the next. They searched the block and in the neighbouring bushland, but all to no avail.
I told her the heartwarming tale of how I'd found Otty in a vacant lot beside my old block of flats in Melbourne five months after I'd moved to Canberra.
'Did you try ringing the RSPCA and letterboxing the street with photos of him?'
Those were good ideas, F conceded, but it was important for H to learn to take responsibility and chase after her own cat. The problem with H was that she never pushed for things she wanted enough in life...
Yes, but crikey -- a cat's life is at stake here (you can tell what a hopelessly permissive parent I'd make). This is no time for teenage instruction and new age piffle.
I was ultimately unable to convince F of the merits of calling the RSPCA herself, so feared for the cat's well-being (tho was over a month now, so maybe too late anyway). Then today F rang and told me that her partner, who works at the local newspaper, had sent a cub-reporter to photograph animals at the RSPCA for some story. When he got the photos back, Charley was in one of them.
She rang the RSPCA and found out that he'd been caught in a cat-trap on 29 September on the bushland near their house, so had quite possibly been there for several days. He'd been handed in rather than exterminated because he was wearing a powderblue collar with diamontes...tho no name tag, no silicon chip!
So, grrr: do tag and chip your cats, do ring the RSPCA and -- don't let them go out after dark, even if they get peevish.
(There: another heart-warming cat story. How good was that?)
Tuesday, October 2, animal owners gather at 3:45 p.m. for the 4 p.m. blessing
Everyone in the Gopher community is welcome to join us with their animal companions at this gathering. We'll share some readings from St. Francis and bless each animal friend. Even if you don't have a pet (or a pet here at Gopher), please come enjoy the pets of others in our community. Sponsored by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. Contact Chaplain, etc, etc.
On my last night in San Fran, the housesitter rang me at 2 am and asked me when I was coming back home (never mind the detailed instructions I'd left). I told her and asked after the cats: the black one, she told me, had finally come out in her presence. The grey one had shat under the stairs. And the brown one 'won't leave me alone'.
'But they're all lovely,' she hastened to add.
Spoken like a true dog lover. The brown one -- huh. Lulu has a glorious tri-coloured coat (she isn't 'mottled' either).
I was relieved to find the household intact -- nay, cleaner probably than when I'd left. Truly, a 60-year-old housesitter is a better bet than a 20-year-old. But it was quieter, much quieter with three cats, and esp without a dominant male to pick fights and shove cats out of the way of their feed bowls. Lulu is a star act, to be sure, but Leonard was a very companionable cat. He followed me everywhere and invariably took an interest in what I was doing. He'd be waiting for me at the top of the stairs in the morning, and follow me into the bathroom, then downstairs into the kitchen. Lulu's quite flighty, by contrast; it's only when the interest takes her. And she's young, too -- there's always the outside world to take her interest.
The dynamics in the cattery have also shifted somewhat. This started before I left. When Leonard began sitting under the kitchen table of an evening (he was possibly feeling sick earlier than I realised), Otty began to sit on the couch with Lulu. Actually, there was a period when a truce was declared and all three of them sat together, but after a while, it became Lulu and Otty. They started washing and grooming each other, head-butting and nose-sniffing in greeting, and sleeping together. (When I worked at a youth refuge, we used to say 'massaging is the first sign'.) I began calling Lulu Otty's 'Promised'; she doesn't have the same scruples about octogenarians as her mother. Otty even sat on me; in the twelve years I've had him, he's always behind my head or beside me but never on me. I'm now thinking it might be because Leonard was no longer tending to dominate, and that he might have seen me as belonging to Leonard before.
A fine romance...Otty and his Promised take to the couch.
Well, the vet did find an 'irregular-shaped mass' when she ultrasounded Lenny, with nodules that could have been caused by a bacterial infection or some other source. She rang me on Friday, sounding almost tearful, saying that she would have to operate on him to remove the lump or he would die. On the other hand, she didn't like his chances under general anaesthetic and in surgery as he was old, had FIV, bone marrow suppression and non-regenerative anaemia. But she thought it was his only chance.
I raced round to the vet's on Friday afternoon before the proposed operation and spent half an hour with Lenny, who was fairly grumpy and withdrawn, ultimately turning to sit with his back to me. The vet outlined a couple of gruesome scenarios -- the possibility of opening him up and finding that the lump was inoperable or had spread further than she'd thought or of him suddenly deteriorating and dying on the operating table.
I really thought it was probably curtains (or catflaps) for Lenny, and spent a couple of sombre hours mooching around, waiting for an anguished phone call (must be nerve-wracking operatin on the beloved pet of a personal friend). But Lenny pulled through -- with flying colours. The vet rang at 6 pm to say that Lenny had done well; he'd been drinking and had done a big poo (much excitement about the latter). She thought that I could come and visit him tomorrow morning then take him home in the evening.
I went to see him on Sat morning. There he was -- glowing in his cage, with his old rakish grin. He made the sound he makes, 'ae-ae-ae-ae' , like a dyspeptic cicada, when he saw me. He was much more pleased to see me this time, walking about in his cage purring. The head vet thought that he'd done very well, and that he'd continue to go from strength to strength. She said that animals often bounce back once the obstruction to their health has been removed. They also do well on complete bedrest even tho they don't like it (a bit like humans, maybe).
I collected Lenny in the evening after they'd seen him eat -- half a tin of catfood, as he was ravenously hungry. Since then, he's been sitting on a chair under the kitchen table, living in a rather tent-like existence. He comes down occasionally to eat and to use the litter tray. I put him out in the sun yesterday, but he soon tired of it and went back inside. I'm still rather worried about him, and not totally sure about leaving him with a housesitter. The vets seemed to think he' d be ok, but I'm a bit nervous, given how sick he's been. He's also old, has a number of serious conditions (FIV, bone marrow suppression and non-regenerative anaemia)...and has just undergone major surgery. There's going to be a case review at the vet's on Thursday. Unfortunately, he vomited both yesterday and today, which isn't supposed to be such a great sign, unless he's just pigged out too much. (I've been recording everything; I feel like I've been keeping something of a vomit diary.) The timing for all this is pretty bad, tho it could have been worse -- it could have happened while I was away.
Two Lennies would fit insided one Lulu at the moment (More cat porn...)