Friday, May 16, 2008

always darkest before the dawn

I must say, I was clearly at a low point when last I blogged. Smearing cat crap under my bed was far from my finest hour. To top it off, that evening my dad, of all people, told me I didn't have the sense I was born with.

Yes, my dad said that. My dad, the very person whose genes I blame for the majority of my misguided adventures. The man who recently delighted in spending only $12 on Chinese takeout for three people (never thinking that he had ordered combo sized portions and no rice), the man who once thought he could pull off inviting his mistress to Thanksgiving dinner, the man whose own son thinks he is sucker enough to fall for a recently submitted investment proposal (asking for $100,000 to build houses during this buyer's market) that had been handwritten on an aborted grocery list. (Seriously - it starts out Eggs, Lender Fees - $4,000... I nearly died laughing...)

This is the man who says I don't have the sense I was born with. On the contrary, I think the very problem is I that I have exactly the sense I was born with. And that sense told me to poke a frightened cat with a stick and then to poke it again after it peed. That sense told me it was more important to clean the mess up quickly than efficiently. That sense told me I could reach the dark corner of the bed well enough, though I clearly could not.

Thank goodness I married Erik. He soon woke up, having only barely slept through the hours long ordeal due to sheer exhaustion. He promptly moved the bed and attempted to help me relocate the cat. We were not without our own complications, mind you. We immediately lost visual contact with Ratty as he hid under the couch. Our efforts to find him inspired more fear based urine. Thinking he was surely now in, no longer under the couch, Erik lifted the sofa, smearing the urine along the floor with the couch. It was not long before we realized Ratty had retreated back under the bed. But by then the whole situation was just deliriously funny. Long story short, I ultimated grabbed Ratty's urine soaked body and smeared him across the entire living room in to the safety of the office turned prison cell.

Understandably, Ratty and I avoided each other the next day. We made up a little bit, just in time for me to take him back to the vet to be vaccinated and microchipped. He earned his freedom the next morning (Erik released him while I attended my meeting out of town). Ratty showed us his gratitude later that evening. He snuck in during the night to pee on the carpet one last time - choosing a spot just outside the bathroom door so we'd be sure to step in it. He also stole his favorite cat toy, hiding it under the deck, as has now become his habit.

Since then Ratty has actually been around quite a bit. The other night I startled him when I discovered he was sleeping behind the cat chair (his previous most progressive hidey hole) and this morning I found him courting Monkey in the bed (repeatedly, despite being scared away by a sleeping shifting Erik). This evening he staged a major coup and stole his beloved cat toy for the last time. I caught just a glimpse of its glimmering mylar as he disappeared with it under the house. Lucky him, I found a website that sells them for only $3. So I've ordered a dozen. As I did so I wondered if having three cats really does make me a crazy cat lady. Certainly ordering toys by the dozen is some sort of threshold.

But Ratty, though he is growing on me, is not the source of my purest joy. Not only did I get to leave town and sleep in a hotel room with no cat pee or poop in sight, but I got to attend a party, followed by my meeting, and then back again for my friend's Open Studio. I nearly ditched the party (that whole social phobia thing I have going on - Erik and I call it "driving around the block with brownies, crying" - can you guess why?) but I ended up having a great time and even stayed quite late - possibly too late, but whatever. Anyhow, I returned to town with my usual annual purchases - another fruit bowl or two (the pears are so happy to have a home away from the apples) plus an assorted item from the other artist (my friend's very own mom). This year I scored a major bonus - five imperfect (over glazed) bowls and six "ruined" saki cups. They are now adorning my garden as birdbaths and trinkets, respectively.

Not only did I have a fabulous time connecting and reconnecting with my Sausalito seal loving cohorts, but I came home in time to enjoy the only two seal rescues we'd had in two weeks. On Mother's Day, I had the pleasure of rescuing Tackle Box, a skinny sea lion yearling who was hanging out on a dock with his four to six adult male buddies. He wasn't on just any old dock, he was on the well-known "Scary Dock" - so named because of its popularity with the big boys and its easy access by the public. As it turns out, our rescue may have been less successful if not for the insistence of one big boy. His attempts to porpoise out of the water and on to the dock disturbed the slumber of Tackle Box's living pillows. As they woke they saw two women approaching with nets and promptly bailed. Surprised to have awakened with a thud (and trampled by one sea lion making a break for it), Tackle Box didn't realize he too should run away. Before I knew it he was in my net. It was glorious. And what made it all the better was that Tackle Box really needed a rescue. You can barely see it in this photo (though I got some gory close ups for vet staff), but he's got a fishhook stuck in his eyeball and another stuck in between his teeth. I know some of my loyal readers (all both of them) don't like the gruesome details, so please forgive me. At least I am happy to report that the hooks came out easily and the eye, stuck in a relatively fortuitous fashion, still functions. So now he just has to get over being super skinny (13.8 kg) without becoming habituated to humans. Still an uphill battle, but so much better than how we found him.

After rushing Tackle Box off for a same day transport, we responded to a second call in the South County, this time for an elephant seal we named Mountain. Mountain had been bitten by something (I say shark, but could just be other ellies) and he had a swollen hind end and a possibly broken back. (Thus the name, Mountain, as in BrokeBack...) To make matters worse, our caller had thwarted Mountain's attempts to escape by dragging the poor thing out of the tide line - using his injured rear flippers. This is never something we advise (it is illegal and dangerous and often unnecessary) but in this case it seemed especially cruel. We were still pretty nice to the well-meaning doof, though, especially as he had taken the time to call us, had waited on the beach for most of an hour, and he ultimately helped us carry the animal up the very long and steep trail. Anyway, we kept Mountain very comfortable all night - injecting the maximum amount of drugs every four or five hours, dismantling his carrier so he never had to move, foregoing tube feedings so we didn't jostle him, arranging for a very early transport the next day - only to discover his back was intact all along. He was just so skinny that the slope of his spine seemed unnaturally flat to all of us veteran rescuers. Embarrassing, I know. He did, however, have a broken leg bone, though, so I don't feel so bad about the pain protocol. I do feel bad that he didn't make it, but I can't say I am surprised.

And then tonight I had the pleasure of working with Smudge, another skinny elephant seal from the South County area. I didn't rescue him so I didn't bother photographing him (my night shots are all crap anyhow), but I did get to restrain him and prepare his yummy fishy breakfast. He seemed squirrelly enough that I am sure he'll do fine.

On the home front, I've just about wrapped up a couple of administrative projects that have been eating me. They reminded me that I still have a few law school essays to write, but I think at this point I am more inspired to attend to the chores I've been ignoring (dirty bathroom, skanky hummingbird food...). I've been seeing more of Erik, theoretically. He got himself assigned to jury duty, which he doesn't mind since he gets paid his full salary from work and it is way safer to watch a trial than to watch a crazy person. Still, he's been working nights (as now his regular shifts count as overtime) and in court all day, so he'll be sleeping most of Saturday. Perhaps then I will get my cleaning done. Quietly, of course.

Oh, and things are progressing on my Spanish soap. Mama Delores did not yet tell Alberto deLimon that Maria Elena is his real mother (and therefore that would make his girlfriend his cousin, which is actually okay, but no one knows, cuz she was secretly adopted...). This is a tragedy because now Maria Elena's ex has lied and told her that his no good son Oswaldo is her long lost child. Sigh. Best of all, I have been working on my verbs lately and I am increasingly able to recognize the use of conditional tenses. So I am making progress, even if I am rotting my brain. And now I have two episodes of Que Dice la Gente? which is the Spanish Family Feud. That's a whole other ballgame - exhausting to watch because of the preponderance of nouns and synonyms. My dictionary gets a workout then.

Ah, and it is apparently moth season. Monkey has taken up hunting them mercilessly. I have been able to spare a few their fates, but for the most part they are on their own. I try to avoid turning on lights at night but Monkey has figured out how to trigger the motion detectors on the deck. Clever, though a bit cruel.

Okay, well, lest this blog begin to feel like my third administrative obligation, I guess I shall sign off. Until next time...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

too stupid to live

Wow. Look. I am not dead. (Though as you can see from the title, I am too stupid to live.) I have not canceled my internets (though I was tempted to when my Charter bill went up) and I do actually have stuff going on that is worth writing about. So where have I been? Here, mostly, but with company at first. While I thoroughly enjoyed the long awaited sister visit (details below), this is also when the trouble started. And by trouble, I mean Ratatouille.

Ratatouille, or Ratty Catty as he is more commonly known, is a stray cat who began living under my back deck right around the time Suz and Grace were in town. He is not nearly as cute as he looks in this picture. Believe me. He is much more raggedy and has a rat like tail (thus the name) and he does not take the time to clean the cat food off of his nose. I guess technically his is a Siamese type tail, which you would think I would like, given the whole Fabian love affair, but Ratty Catty is no Fabian. In fact, he is so tiny I assumed he was a girl. And the miniature version of a Siamese tail looks very ratty.

But whatever. So I began feeding the starving pathetic looking lurker who lived under my deck. How could I not? And obviously I named him. And not surprisingly, I began seeing more and more of him. The trouble is, of course, if you give a cat a cookie, soon he must be neutered. So I worked hard every day to gain his trust - intending to betray it at my earliest opportunity. This opportunity came just this past Friday.

So, hooray for me. I caught my feral cat. I did Bob Barker proud and had him neutered. Fine enough. Only he went home with a prescription for antibiotics. This, I think, was to clear up his head cold as I can't imagine that Clavamox is issued standard to every fixed feral. So now I have to keep him in my possession until his meds are gone. No problem. I can do this, right?

We've had a few carpet incidents. At first he would just pee where ever. And though I showed him the litter box, he assumed I was offering him a place to hide, not a place to pee. It wasn't until we brought in a box of top soil that the carpet soiling came to an end. Sort of. Cuz we found out after two days that the dirt must be changed every day. If not, Ratty Catty will revert to using the carpet as a toilet. A toilet where he leaves his antibiotic fueled diarrhea. Yeah. Hooray for me, indeed.

But at least I am just a renter, right? And I can hire a carpet cleaner when this is all over. And I am doing a good thing. And Ratty Catty and I are bonding. He never bites and sometimes purrs. And my does he love Monkey. So it is almost kinda cute.

Okay, so at 2:45 this morning Monkey wakes up. He wants to go out. But no way, he is an inside at night kitty. He can go out right before dawn, maybe, but not at 2:45. So I let him into Ratty Catty's room to use the cat box. So now Ratty wakes up. And I figure, he loves Monkey, I should let them play. Thus I let Ratty into the main room (which is not his first time, but close).

Fine enough. Only I am getting no sleep while they play. And by play, I mean fight. Cuz Monkey doesn't love Ratty the way Ratty loves Monkey. And both Monkey and OC are starting to wish they had chased Ratty off instead of being the pussies that they literally are.

So I watch Spanish soap operas while they come and go. I am happy to see that Mary Elena and Aldo have finally reunited after all these years. Though I figured this was where the story was going, things looked bleak after he was presumed dead on their wedding day after his plane crashed and he was kidnapped and forced to work for a drug cartel in the Amazon and meanwhile she had ended up joining a convent. I am even more thrilled to see that Ratty will come on the bed even when I am in it. I get to touch him once or twice. I am having a good day.

Until I realize there is pee on the comforter. Ratty was flirting with Monkey, I think, when he peed just a bit. Yeah, at 4 am. It was great. I was cold and had to decide between having fewer covers (and exposing the next layer down to more pee) or laying in a bed I knew had cat pee on it. I put on a thermal and ditched the comforter. But that was just a wee bit of pee (though OC reports it is also on the canopy) - no big deal, right?

So Ratty comes out from under the bed shortly after Erik comes home at 8 am. He's in his own room again all safe and sound and gets his morning meds. Great. Interestingly, it's the first time he acts like he'd rather not take them, but whatever. So why, oh why, do I let him out in the main room again? Cuz I am dumb. But I get dumber.

So it is afternoon now and I am thinking that Ratty is due a snuggle session. Only trouble is he is under the bed. Of course. So I try to lure him out with food and with Monkey. No go. So I try to lure him out with a broom. I guess that would not be "luring" so much as "forcing" but it has worked before. So I try.

He won't go. And soon I have scared the pee out of him. Literally. You would think at this point, with pee on my bed and now under it too, that I would let peeing cats lie. But no. I have to clean up the pee, right? I don't own a mop and so I do a shoddy job involving a bar towel and the broom. So I can be finished now, right? And take a shower, of course, cuz I am gross. But I get grosser.

Because now I want Ratty out more than ever. Cuz I was close once. I think I can do it. This time... This time... I can't even say it... This time he poops. Which I know because I hear it gurgling out of him. In the far far dark corner of the bed (under my pillow) where it can never ever be reached.

So now I want to die. Oh and by now Erik is in the bed. Sleeping. And now it smells. And I cannot air out the house or Ratty will escape. Which is starting to sound like a grand solution. But I need to finish his antibiotics. Far be it from me to help those antibiotic resistant bacteria become even more resistant.

So I try to clean the poop. Same method as before, but using paper towels and a broom. I only succeed in smearing it EVERYWHERE. At the same time I am able to chase Ratty out. He pauses on things in his path, leaving poop on them. He hides under the couch. I get him out from under the couch and he goes - to his room? No. That would be too good to be true. He runs to the kitchen sink and across the kitchen counter. Now I want us both to die. I catch him, lift him and toss him in his room (cuz he isn't in to being carried just yet and I am scared and he is covered in poop). But I cannot close the door in time.

So where is he now? Back under the bed, of course, in what will now be known forevermore as pooh corner. He is no longer remotely deterred by any further broom action. He pretends he is not there. At least his bowels are empty. I guess.

I have cleaned the smear (laying face down in a delightful collection of dust bunnies) and in the process I have presumably cleaned the pee. But I cannot reach it all. I know some is on the floor protector under the bed post. I can see it. And I know I can never get that out. And I know it is still all over Ratty. That cat who cannot be bothered to clean his milk mustache will surely not be in a hurry to clean the crap from his entire body. And it is on the brooms. Both of them. Even though I have hosed them off, they still hold pooh in their bristles. So now I need a new broom. And, I think, a mop.

But worst of all, I know I will smell cat poop from now until eternity. Every time I try to sleep I will remember this day. Oh how I used to love to sleep.

And this is why I am too stupid to live. Seriously, how can I outscore 99.6% of the people who want to go to law school and still be this stupid? I am depressed.

On a happier note, I totally enjoyed my visit with Princess Grace and sister Sue. Though we didn't get to all the things on our list, we did do the majority of them. We:
  1. Stopped at In-n-Out on the way home from the airport. In fact, we stopped again on the way back to the airport. That visit was less successful and involved the spilling of ketchup and french fries in the car, but really, I blame myself. Ketchup should never be allowed in the car. And also, I don't care. Cuz it is only a car. (Incidentally, it is a car that now has Monkey pee on the front seat, cuz he too went to the vet on Friday to xray his broken-ish tail...)
  2. Went to the beach - often. We only got wet once, though, cuz it was windy and the water was cold. It was hilarious cuz at first Grace did not approve of the kid friendly beach Erik had recommended. The waves were not big enough for her. Until she was in them, up to her arm pits, and then she was pleased.
  3. Swam in the indoor pool at the hotel Erik picked. I don't think that you can call it warm, though. It might have been comfortable if we could have all swam, but I was the baby holder and I found it very very cold. Grace wouldn't trust Erik to keep her from drowning, which we think has a lot to do with Grandpa's campaign to convince Grace that Erik is a bad driver. Not sure why a bad driver couldn't keep a four year old's head above water, but the two skills seemed to be linked.
  4. Walked in the March of Dimes / March for Babies. It was fun and worthwhile and together we raised over a thousand bucks, but I am officially calling it the Death March for Babies, because instead of the 6 miles advertised on the website it was 10 miles long, all very urban and often uphill. I kid you not, we crossed the freeway three times. I suddenly understood why our event had fewer people attending than the one in Tacoma. Though they faced rain and sleet in Washington, at least they got to walk around a park. And take shortcuts and stuff.
  5. Ate giant pizza slices in Pismo. Yum. And Grace and I played inappropriate video games that involved shooting people.
  6. Ate clam chowder out of sourdough bread bowls. Though I think the better chowder was a few doors down, our restaurant was right on the beach. And I had a killer salad.
  7. Watched Dora the Explorer - but surprisingly only once. Signing Time (with Alex and Leah) was much more popular, at least with me and Grace. ASL is our thing.
  8. Played on, but only when Suz wasn't on MySpace, cuz I found my aging iMac just can't handle the strain of all those graphics.
  9. Played with the kitties - at least Monkey, as OC predictably made himself scarce. Grace loved Monkey and insisted on calling him Gus (the fat mouse from Cinderella).
  10. Drank Diet Coke. We went through more than 48 cans and I swear I didn't have any.
We did not:
  1. Stop at the winery that looks like a castle. And I did not make Grace a princess hat. Conveniently, she brought two tiaras of her own and I still have my fabulous crown from my queen costume, so we were all set for make believe...
  2. Rent a surrey and ride it out the Rock to look at otters. We drove out in our car.
  3. Stop for cotton candy on the way back, since we were now in our car.
  4. Swim in the warm outdoor pool at the Inn at Morro Bay. Sadly.
  5. Pay for parking in Pismo. We just parked at the hotel.
  6. Have a dance party, though we did have a BBQ.
  7. Build yet another graham cracker house. We figured it was a bit much for Grace and we really didn't have the space.
Anyway, in between having company and neutering Ratty Catty, I also made a trip to Sausalito to work with my elephant seal friends. There I surprisingly sucked, too, having trouble hitting the vein for my two blood draws. I'm pretty sure it is because I was trying in a new (inferior) spot and because I psyched myself out, but whatever. It was still fun.

And I think I am going up to the Center again this weekend, though I just heard a rumor I may not be needed. Which is a bummer cuz I was looking forward to sleeping in a hotel, where there is no cat poop under the bed.