Socks and Puddles

I have water in my basement. I don’t mean a sink with a tap (though I have that down there as well). I mean I have water leaking into my basement which led to someone asking me why there was a sock in my toilet. At first glance the “toilet sock” and a leaky basement wouldn’t seem connected but there are. Normally I can attribute things out of place to Lola. Out of my 2 cats she’s the one who likes to carry things around. Once I saw her walk by with a ring box clenched in her mouth. I’m not sure where she was going with it but I made sure she didn’t get there. She is fond of the toilet in a butt in the air head below the rim sort of way but to my knowledge she hasn’t been storing stuff in there.

I most likely dropped the sock in the toilet while I was sorting laundry in the bathroom. My washer is in the basement so I’ve been sorting laundry upstairs because of the puddles downstairs. Thank goodness someone saw the sock before using the toilet. I’m pretty sure it would have created a clog if flushed down. I would prefer to have zero puddles inside so the prospect of an overflowing toilet on top of the already wet basement was very unattractive.

My house was built in 1910 so it wouldn’t have been constructed with a full basement. Here’s a picture of my house (probably taken 1940 to 1950-ish).

Our house back in the day

Back in the day, with no electricity or plumbing, a basement wasn’t important because you didn’t need to make sure you had a warm space to protect your infrastructure from the elements. My basement shows clear signs that it was a work in progress for a number of years with a hodgepodge of older and newer bits formed from different materials. There’s a room in my basement that’s not completely dug out and we do our best to pretend it doesn’t exist because it’s kind of creepy.

So where is the water coming from? Well something called hydrostatic pressure is pushing ground water from the spring thaw up through any little crack it can find in the foundation. We have a sump pump pit but it can only do so much. It wasn’t a problem when we first moved in but when the municipality updated the drains along the road, the change in the elevation of the shoulder resulted in increased snow and rain run off onto our property. I’m sure it didn’t help that we went awhile without cleaning out our eaves. Last summer we had the roof re-shingled and the roofers took care of that for us. It was quite timely as there was a sapling growing up there that needed to come out before it got much larger.

Daily vacuuming helps to keep the water under control but it gets a bit disheartening to have to jump puddles in your basement. To add insult to injury my dryer broke down last week. The basement is too wet to have a repair tech come and fix the dryer right now. I do have a clothes line outside but it’s April and April means spring showers which makes hanging clothes out to dry an iffy proposition. Alas my laundry is beset both inside and out by the forces of nature. Hopefully everything will dry out soon. Eventually I’ll have to take care of the basement puddle problem permanently as a leaky foundation can lead to a whole host of other serious problems. It’ll be expensive …what house repair isn’t? But it would be even more expensive just to leave it. In the mean time I’ll do my best to keep my feet dry and my socks out of the toilet.

Music for this post;

Al Jolson – April Showers
MC Tracky-Dactyl – Laundryman

Hit The Road Jack (or Jill)

It’s -12°C right now (that’s about 10 °F for you Fahrenheit users). I think the coldest it’s been here this winter has been – 22°C. The drifts of snow are so high in my backyard that the dogs are having trouble finding spots to comfortably do their business. The cats act as if it’s a personal insult every time the kitchen door opens and a blast of winter air rushes in. It’s cold outside and I have ladybugs in my kitchen.

Ladybug ladybug

When the crop rotation behind my house is beans, come harvest time, we’re inundated with ladybugs. They cover the back of the house and creep in through cracks. You have to give the back door a good shake before you open it all the way or ladybugs will drop off the screen right onto you like nasty little assassins (despite the “lady” in the name they certainly aren’t ladylike – they bite). Because they range in colour from light brown to red, I accidentally ate one once thinking it was an un-popped kernel of popping corn. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten but it was pretty close.

Two weeks ago a big fat fly flew into my head. It ricocheted off and landed on the floor all winter sleepy and easy to catch. A couple of days later I watched one of the dogs lick a spider off the wall. It wasn’t even a regular house spider but one of those stilt legged monstrosities that lunge along like the alien machines in a H.G. Wells novel. The other night I was lying in bed and I thought I heard a mosquito. Maybe I was dreaming, or it could have been a delayed concussion from that fly whacking me in the head. On reflection it couldn’t have been a mosquito. It could have been the hum of a dying light bulb or a fly induced ringing of the ears. The alternative would be to have to wonder about the why/ how of a mosquito in my house – in FEBRUARY – in ONTARIO – CANADA. And I’m not willing to do that.

Fall is long past. It’s February which is the time of year that all the creepy crawlies and antennaed thing-a-ma-bobs should be hunkered down into whatever crevice they’ve opted for to avoid the deadly grip of the season. Having bugs around in winter is definitely something I could do without (especially the ladybugs). If I had my way the fact that it’s cold enough to freeze our pond outside should mean it is cold enough to keep the bugs down and out. Here’s the thing- Summer and fall it is warm so you put up with the bugs. Winter you put up with the cold so you shouldn’t have to deal with the bugs. It makes perfect sense to me. Now if I could just get the laws of nature to fall in line-that would be great.

Music for this post is Weezer- Go Away ft. Bethany Cosentino (Live Acoustic KROQ Soundspace)

Or if you prefer (in deference to the title of this post) here’s something from Ray Charles Hit the Road Jack

Kitty Update

Several weeks ago I wrote about our cat Charlie and his scary health situation. We weren’t sure how it was going to turn out but I can now happily say he appears to have made almost a full recovery. It looks like it was idiopathic vestibular syndrome. He seems to have recovered his mobility and his head no longer tilts. For awhile we thought he was going to have a droopy eye but that’s resolved itself. His voice is a bit rough (he used to have a very sweet meow and now it’s sort of crackly) but if that’s the only residual symptom we’ll consider ourselves lucky!! We’re happy to have our lovely boy out and about again.

Music for this post- I Can See Clearly Now by Jimmy CliffCharlie in the gardenCharlie on the moveCharlie checking out the harvestCharlie catching some rays

Sleepy Charlie

Should I Ever Stumble and Fall

Monday morning Charlie, my brown tiger tabby, ran past trying to get to the stairs before me. As he turned to go down his back feet tangled and he almost fell. It struck me as strange but he recovered immediately and raced down to the first floor. When he mewed to be let out there didn’t seem to be a problem so off he went. He was gone all day and it was after 9 pm when he finally reappeared. He was a mess. He could barely walk. His legs didn’t work properly. He looked like a furry four-legged drunk. That might sound cute in theory but in real life it was scary as hell. My first concern was that he’d been hit by a car. The second was that he might have been shot. I live in a rural area and though rare that kind of thing does happen. He didn’t seem to have any marks or tender areas.  His symptoms started getting worse. There was something wrong with his eyes. It was after business hours so I decided to take him to the emergency clinic in London (about a 45 minute drive from home).  He usually puts up a fuss about the cat carrier but he was quiet on the way in.

The vet technician did Charlie’s intake. We waited for the doctor to come in. It was a long wait. It was a busy night at the clinic. Charlie sat up on the examination table. He wasn’t even trying to move any more. He looked, to be indelicate, as high as fuck. His eyes were wide open but non-reactive. His head was slightly tilted back and to the side. His gaze seemed to be fixed on the ceiling lights but I didn’t get the impression that he saw them. Whenever there was a loud sound in the clinic he would flinch but otherwise he didn’t move. When the vet came in to examine him the first thing she did was put her face right up to his. He didn’t see her. She flicked her fingers in front of each eye almost tapping the surface. There was no flinch, no change in pupil dilation…nothing.  She listed off possible causes (some with really long names). Then she asked me if there was a possibility that he had gotten into some marijuana.  I guess she thought he looked high as fuck too. I assured her there was nothing like that in my house (there isn’t).  She asked again suggesting that perhaps “teenagers might have dropped some on the side-walk”.  I informed her that I live in a rural area at the edge of a small hamlet. People don’t walk in front of my house. I have farm fields behind my house but one is lying fallow and the other has soy beans in it (no place for pot plants to hide). My nearest neighbours, on my side of the highway, are ½ an acre away to the west and east but if they were smoking pot outside I would have known (no secrets in a small place). I’d had my roof re-shingled the week before but I’m pretty sure roofers, a roof with an extreme pitch, and pot, don’t mix on the job site.  If my cat had gotten into something toxic it wasn’t “weed”.  She explained some possibilities for tests and treatment and then went off to put an estimate together for services.

As I waited for the veterinarian to return I could hear what was going on across the hallway in another room.  What sounded like a senior couple had brought their dog in. The dog had been vomiting blood as well as bleeding from the back-end. The vet was telling them, in the kindest way possible (there’s no use sugar-coating it) that she didn’t know what was wrong with their dog Mickey, that it was going to take a lot of tests and a lot of money to figure that out, and that they would need to make a decision because it wasn’t going to be a cheap or easy journey. I would see them later in the lobby settling their bill. They were taking the dog home and the wife was crying.

When the vet came back with the estimate it was $1100 to $1500. I signed the paper and put the deposit on my credit card. She mentioned marijuana again and I realized she thought I might be lying. I can’t be mad about that I guess as I’m sure they do have people lie to them. Still the fact that I had just agreed to pay up to $1500 for my cat’s medical treatment should be a pretty good indication that I wouldn’t be holding back any info that would help it.   I do have to say none the less that I was very impressed with the staff at the clinic. They obviously care deeply about the animals in their care. While being completely professional they went out of their way to be kind and comforting during what was a very difficult/emotional situation.

After a battery of blood tests (all negative though that didn’t stop the day shift veterinarian  from mentioning pot again the following day), and a night on IV, they were still no closer to a diagnosis. They had ruled out toxic exposure as after 24 hours something toxic would have been flushed out of Charlie’s system by the IV (resulting in a cessation of symptoms) or the toxin would have killed him. Charlie didn’t seem to have any injuries and there’d been a great deal of improvement but he still couldn’t walk properly.  The vet hypothesized that it could be something called Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome. It usually goes away on its own but occasionally some long-term symptoms remain. He might have Feline Infectious Peritonitis (dry). There’s no definitive test or set treatment for that. You just do your best to make your cat comfortable until they pass (death occurs in a relatively short period of time). It might be a brain tumor (unlikely though for how quickly his symptoms developed) or some other kind of neurological disorder.  There was nothing to do but wait it out so I agreed to take him home. To add to the stress of the situation, while I was waiting for them to get Charlie ready, a pet owner who’d brought her dog in had a (possible) heart attack in the waiting room. She kept apologizing to me, the vet, and the receptionist, whilst panting in pain waiting for the ambulance to arrive. After she’d gone I went to finish up the finances and realized I’d lost my credit card sometime between paying the night before and picking up Charlie to take him home.

It’s been a couple of days.  I can see improvements though he still has the head tilt. I thought he was a little further along and allowed him access to the main floor of the house.  He had a spill down the basement stairs. He’s very tired. He tries to do the things he could do before but his body says no. He doesn’t understand why he can’t go outside.  His entire life has changed and I don’t know yet if it will be a permanent change. Despite his illness he is still his unfailingly sweet and affectionate self. He tries to rub up against legs and hands to get his loving though he often falls over as he leans in.

Charlie wasn't impressed with the shave job they did at the emergency clinic. They did both front legs as they had trouble finding a good vein to draw blood from.
Charlie wasn’t impressed with the shave job they did at the emergency clinic. They did both front legs as they had trouble finding a good vein to draw blood from.

His medical condition has turned the house upside down. The dogs are confused by the attention Charlie is getting and are upset that they are being admonished to be careful around him. My other cat, Lola Mae, seems to think I’ve brought an unfamiliar cat into her territory. I’m not sure if he smells different or if it’s the way he’s acting that’s set her off.  She’s never been the friendliest of cats but she and Charlie had an “agreement”. It was along the lines that she would do her best to not give him a moment’s peace and he would try to stay away from her. She’s called “Princess” Lola Mae for good reason. When Charlie first came home I confined him to a small room with all his necessities. Lola Mae spent some time hissing and growling at the door. She also took up hissing and growling at the dogs and everyone else no matter how nicely she was being treated.  Since I’ve let him out, she’s attacked Charlie at least once and continues to show aggressive behaviour. If it turns out that Charlie’s condition is a chronic neurological disorder I may have to think about re-homing her.

It’s never been a secret that she’s the kind of cat that would do better in a household with no small children or other pets. She’s a young beautiful looking cat and when she gets her own way she can be nice. She makes lovely little chirruping noises and will come for a treat if she’s awake when you call her name. But if Lola Mae isn’t happy, no one gets to be happy. I may have a place lined up for her already with an older woman who lives with her senior mother but I’m still going to wait and see how everything turns out. Honestly I’ve never been the kind of person who takes in a pet thinking it will be anything but a lifelong commitment so the thought of possibly “giving up” on Lola leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But if Charlie’s mobility is permanently affected and he can’t protect himself from her I might have to. Time will tell.

Music for this post- Danny O’Keefe’s ‘Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues

 

Christmas Wine Drinking Tips From My Home to Yours- Cheers

Step 1: Wait until less than a week before Christmas to purchase your Christmas tree.

Step 2: Decide it’s a good idea to purchase your tree in the after dinner hours of a moonless December evening.

Step 3: Head out to the farm you usually buy your tree from to find the farm yard dark. Uncertain as to what to do, wait because you want a tree and this is where you usually get one but it looks like they’re done for the season. After what seems like an uncomfortable amount of time someone will come out of the house.

Step 4: Turn down the farmer’s generous offer to let you head back into the snow covered bush and cut down your own tree.

Step 5: Pick one of the four pre-cut trees that you only just noticed as it is extremely dark in the yard. Pay for the tree. Load it into the van and head for home

Step 6: Once home unload the tree and leave it in the backyard where it will stay for the next day and a half even though you were certain it was absolutely necessary to get it that very evening. Notice the farmer short-changed you a dollar. Well it’s dark, that sort of thing happens, and it is Christmas…so ho ho ho. You will have gotten your tree though and success deserves a glass of wine. Go ahead and indulge.

Intermission- It will rain all the next day and night. Friday morning the winter wonderland will be a sodden muddy mess and it will be very apparent that the “snow drift” in your front yard was just a light cover of snow over top of a huge pile of leaves you never finished raking because someone broke the good rake.

Step 7: Get your first look at the tree in the light and notice the elbow bend in the trunk that you missed when you bought it in the dark. Trim the stump but not too much because you paid for a big tree and dammit you’re going to have a big tree.  Make sure you lay lots of plastic sheeting on the floor as it is hardwood and you don’t want that to get wet while the tree drips dry. Drag your sodden tree round the front of the house, in through the front door (pine needles, pine needles everywhere!), and spend a fair amount of time trying to anchor it straight in the tree stand. Realize this tree was just born crooked, you paid for it, and you’re going to have to live with it. It will look okay if you only view it from the front. Anyway it’s the holidays and there’s no need to get in a flap about little things.

Step 8: Shoo the cat away from the tree. Tidy up a bit. Pull the cat out of the tree. Get ready to go out to dinner and the theater with family and friends. You can decorate the tree when you get home. Shoo the cat away from the tree. Close the door to the living room. The cat will not be pleased.

The cat WILL NOT be pleased.
The cat WILL NOT be pleased.

Step 9: Head out for the evening. Make sure the person you’re driving into town with hates city traffic and, despite knowing it is the exact hour of the Friday evening rush hour and that Christmas is less than a week away, will become so incensed they won’t be able to enjoy the restaurant and then later, exhausted, will sleep through the first half of the play. Your other friends will stay awake so you will have people to talk to. Decide that a glass of wine during dinner might be nice. Hell, why not make it two? You should probably super-size those because it is Christmas after all.

Step 10: Return home and check on the tree. Shoo the cat away from the tree. Notice most of the water in the tree stand is gone. Put more water into the bottom. Pull the cat out of the tree. Pour a glass of wine. Check the water level and THEN notice the water leaking from a crack in the bottom of the stand onto your hardwood floor. Grab the shop vac. Turn it on. Don’t panic when it doesn’t work. Grab some towels and sop up the water. Drag the tree outside. Google shop vac trouble shooting. Fix the shop vac despite its horrible design weaknesses. Spend an hour drying your floor with your hairdryer hoping it won’t stain. It will. Drink another two glasses of wine. Go to bed.

Step 11: The next day after your breakfast meeting head to the hardware store where a clerk will convince a dubious you that their puny tree stand will indeed hold your 8 ½ foot tree. Go home.

Step 12:  Realize the clerk lied to you. Hate the clerk and wonder if it’s okay to have a glass of wine even though you haven’t had lunch yet.

Step 13: Plop a bucket into the old cracked tree stand, drill holes into the bucket, and run the tree screws through it. Take your tree, which is now 6 feet tall because you so wanted the new stand to work, and put it in the old stand. Voila it’s up. Decorate your tree. Make sure you don’t put a single solitary breakable ornament on it…shoo the cat away from the tree…no tinsel either.

Step 14: Shoo the cat away from the tree. Get a spray bottle to shoo the cat away from the tree. At one point notice the tree has fallen over. Spend a half hour trying to get your already decorated tree to stay upright in the broken stand until you admit it’s just not going to work. Grab some picture wire and string it from the picture rail to your tree. Your tree will be standing upright again. Who knows for how long but yea-a-h! Have a glass of wine.

Step 15: Leave the spray bottle on the ground in front of the tree as a warning to trespassing cats. Have another glass of wine and consider whether or not it’s time to start on the hard liquor.

The music for today’s post is Neil Young’s Comes a Time. When taken in the proper light the lyrics strike me as particularly appropriate for this post.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…

I’m not sure how old my house is but when it was built it was erected with no plumbing or vented heating. The walls are lath and plaster. The plaster is the kind that has horse or cow hair in it. I know about the plaster because several years ago a section of my living room ceiling collapsed. A road crew was using the bucket of an excavator to break through the road asphalt in front of my house. With each bang of the bucket on the road I watched part of the ceiling droop. It didn’t fall right away but several days later I heard a big crash and walked into the room to find bare lath and a whole pile of plaster on the ground.  Old houses are like that. Stuff just happens.

I have a lot of questions about my house that will probably never be answered. Like what’s the deal with that room in the basement. I’ll call it a room but it’s sort of not as it isn’t completely excavated.  To clarify my basement has two rooms with concrete floors. The first room has a lath and plaster ceiling but the walls are just poured concrete. The second room is less finished. There is a door in that second room. When opened that door reveals a space which is a sort of room but it’s filled with dirt. There is dirt that is lower by the door opening but piled up higher towards the back wall within a foot of the ceiling. Water pools in the partially dug out area when it’s really damp out. Looking at it I really can’t tell if they were in the process of filling it in or digging it out. The only time I ever open the door is if I find water in the “proper” part of the basement.

I have always had a very active imagination. Since I was a child I’ve seen things. Catching glimpses of objects out of the corner of my eye or from far away I sometimes perceive them to be other than what they really are. I see the huddled figure of a solitary walker that turns out to be a shrub along the rail line. The monkey (I live in Canada) sitting on the deadfall out in the field is just a part of the deadfall. I know that it’s a big log with a broken branch but it still looks like a monkey to me; a real monkey. In the shadows of the alley way for just a second one day I honestly believed I’d seen a crocodile, or something crocodile-like, nestled beside the wall. Intellectually I know these things can not be but part of me still believes that the shapes in the shadows under the trees are cats or people or elephants or trolls. I’m not saying that trolls aren’t people. If there are trolls I’m sure they think of themselves as people. In my house occasionally the shadows form shapes. Like cats, cat-like shapes or, I don’t know, maybe like a baby crawling at my feet; something small though and just a blush of colour or form.  When I dream, I dream in colour. As I fall asleep gold flecks of light coalesce to form the pictures I see behind my closed eyes. It always, all of it, makes for an interesting inner dialogue.

The other night I was using my bandsaw to cut a fairy door for a project I’m working on. My bandsaw sits on top of a workbench which is located in the part of the basement where the mystery door is. It was a particularly windy night which is not unusual where I live. Normally on a very windy (or cold) night I like to snuggle down right in the middle of my bed and take comfort in the space that divides me from the wild elements. But that night I had work to do. A bandsaw is fairly noisy but not so noisy as to block the sound that seemed to come from behind that door. There was a noise from the other side of that door that sounded big, howling big, wild and mad. Granted it was windy outside but I was in the basement so why would the sound of the wind come from behind that door? It’s underground. I suppose I should have opened the door to check it out. It’s just a half dug out or half filled in space. But you know what? I didn’t. In my mind’s eye I already knew there was an enormous twilight zone whirling vortex to hell behind that door so I didn’t really need to open it. My imagination provided more than enough of a story line to send me hurrying back up to my work space. I’m not one to poke the possum. I think it’s better if we all just act like it really is dead.

This project I’ve been crazy busy with the past month is some volunteer work I’m doing for a non-profit group that supports local amateur theatre. I’ve been designing and building a set for their next production. It’s really fun and a great opportunity to try new things while contributing to a community based organization. The space I’ve been doing the majority of the construction work in is an old defunct Mason’s lodge that the municipality rented to the theatre group.  There are peep holes in the doors and a sliding door with a padlock to close off the largest room. The ceiling of that room is arranged in such a way as to indicate the 4 compass points and there is a separate switch connected to a single light bulb located at the centre of those points.

It’s probably not the best place for someone like me to spend a large amount of time alone. I haven’t discovered a small town conspiracy of hidden ritual murder or been dragged into the clutches of the Cult of Cthulhu that is secretly still operating there. I haven’t been sucked into the wormhole that only opens at midnight on a certain night of the year when the stars are in perfect alignment…

…yet.

Music for this post-

The Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood and Gene Wilder with Pure Imagination from Willie Wonka.

The “Lodge”…

Peep hole Narrow stairs up to the old lodgePadlock to guard their secretsLights to the 4 corners of the earth The Alexandra Lodge at night.

 

Go Ask Alice

This painting is SO close to being done I can almost taste it. Today was going to be the day. I have the hook on the wall with a place ready for it to sit until it’s time to varnish it. I’ve screwed the tabs into the stretcher and strung the picture wire across the back. There’s just a bit of this to do and a bit of that but still I’m sitting here at 3 am and it just WON’T. COME. TO. AN. END. I really was going to get it done today but when I took the dogs out this morning (I should clarify my morning is your afternoon as I usually go to bed around 5am) I spotted a wee white bunny in my vegetable garden. It was sitting behind the pegged down wire fence, hunched right up against my peas. It could have fit in the palm of my hand. The white of its fur stood out in bright contrast to the garden greenery. It’s not winter here so those who know better might be surprised by the colour of its fur as the hare (not rabbit) native to this area wears a subtle shade of sable and grey in the summer. Several years ago some well-meaning idiot (the emphasis is on idiot) decided to let their domestic rabbits enjoy an outdoor environment. Since then these very cute but extremely destructive furry bundles have taken over the hamlet. They’ve forced out the native species, attracted apex predators like coyotes, and destroyed lawns and gardens. Despite this some people love them and add to the problem by feeding them. Others are not so enthusiastic. One gent down the road was shooting and eating them. He stopped when he discovered a “wormy” one.

With my sweet peas in jeopardy, unhappily it was time to call on my inner Mr. McGregor. PeterI didn’t scheme to bag up the bunny to trade for tobacco but I may have accidentally trapped him/her in my garden shed. As soon as I saw it, I hustled the dogs into the house as a bunny is just an interesting chew toy to them. Being the grown up full-sized adult that I am, I then went to the wood pile  to get a stick so I wouldn’t have to come too close to the wee little bunny. I’ve seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail so I knew I had to be careful. I was going to try to prod it out of the garden from a very respectable distance with the longest stick (remember it was the size of a new-born kitten) that I could find. I stepped over the fence and moved towards the white bundle of fur with my stick a-a-a-and it bolted. That was a bit of a surprise. Normally rabbits freeze instinctively as predators are attracted to motion. This little guy took off like a flash towards the garden shed that makes up the back wall of my garden enclosure. It headed towards the shed and then right up under the wall. Damn it! So off I went back to the house to get the shed key.

I couldn’t find the bunny inside but to be honest my garden shed is very messy as well as very old. It looks like it might have had lathe and plaster in it at one time. The bunny had squeezed in under some rotting boards at the bottom of the wall. I spent several hours removing board so rotten I could pull it out by hand, replacing it with new wood, and tidying up the shed. I did my best to be as noisy as possible by banging things around exclaiming “Why on earth is this still here?” or alternatively “Why isn’t this in the garbage?” and occasionally cursing as I encountered cardboard boxes full of mouse droppings and curtains of dust clotted cobwebs still very much inhabited by their creators. I made enough noise to scare any passersby so the bunny should have been well on its way. I finished up by making sure the fence was firmly pegged down. I had to close the shed door though as an open shed door is an invitation to other even more problematic visitors like raccoons, possums or skunks.

There’s just something about this painting. I could attribute it to an adverse universe but that’s just an excuse. It should have been done over a month ago but it isn’t and I’m not sure why. I really want it done. So why have I started to write the two plays I’ve been roughing out in my mind for the past couple of months? Why have I completed an abstract painting, started another landscape and prepped saw blades? The bunny came out of nowhere but really the plays, the blades, the abstract, and this blog entry (AND the other two I’ve started but haven’t finished yet) that I’m writing, as I enjoy a gin and tonic and sing along with an old blues CD, don’t need to be done right now. I should probably confess that I’m actually singing quite loudly. The dogs are used to it, the cats don’t care about anything I do unless it has to do with gratifying their needs or desires, and I’ve got the windows closed so the neighbours can’t hear me. I’ve a half-acre on either side between the houses but it is the country and voices carry.  Goodness…now I’ve taken some pictures of my messy work space.

Almost there...but not yet
Almost there…but not yet

Another confession, there was some arm waving and a brief bit of “chair dancing” as I uploaded the pictures. So-o-o I think it’s going to be one more day (night) for this painting. I hope the bunny got out of the shed. I’ll check when I get up. I’m not really the true Mr. McGregor type.

The songs for this post are  ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane and Aretha Franklin’s ‘Chain of Fools’

I’m sorry. Did you say Bieber Fever?

There’s a part in this post that’s about pet bottoms. It’s not horribly horrible but I thought I should mention it for those who prefer not to read about those kinds of things. Anyway as I was about to say…

We’re a pet household. Pretty much for my entire life I’ve lived with some kind of pet companionship. Our current menagerie consists of two cats and two dogs. Our pets are all relatively young so we’ve only had the occasional health issue arise. There’s been nothing serious but as most pet owners do I keep an eye out for unusual behaviour that might spell trouble. Several weeks ago I was dismayed to notice our cat, Princess Lola Mae Piewacket, “scooting” across the floor (not exactly normal cat behaviour). I’d witnessed dogs do the butt drag but it was something I’d never seen a cat do. A visit to the vet was in order. As long as I was going I thought I might as well take our two dogs along as they needed to have their heartworm tests done. Not sure what I was thinking there.

It’s really not a good idea to arrive at the vet clinic with an unhappy cat in a carrier and two socially awkward yellow labs. I normally let the dogs have a good run before a vet visit just to get them a little tired out so they’re less likely to misbehave. The heat of the July midday sun ruled a run out. So that wasn’t a great start.  The overstimulation of a car ride with a caterwauling cat added the perfect incentive to go wild in the clinic environment where evidently everything smelled fantastic, and the kittens ready for adoption wandering around were enchanting, and other dogs were a possible danger, and there were people whose bottoms may not have been goosed by a dog’s nose before that had to have that particular experience. I’m lucky I didn’t pull a back muscle trying to rodeo the dogs while balancing a carrier that barely contained the heartfelt indignation of one unjustly confined feline. The upshot was apologies to all the staff at the clinic as well as some other clients for the overly friendly attention of my dogs, a summer’s worth of Revolution (protects against fleas, ticks, heartworm, etc.) for everyone, and a surprise backside procedure for Lola Mae (neither the cat nor I had any idea that cats could require this kind of “expressing”- her look of betrayal haunts me still). But wait there’s more.

I was sent home with a small container and instructions to take samples. I did and then duly submitted said samples for testing. I hoped for the best, expected the worse, but was still taken by surprise when the vet tech called several days later. I was informed the test results had come back positive. What I thought I heard the technician ask me was…had I heard of “Bieber Fever”. I was caught completely off guard. Was she telling me that my cat had a case of “Bieber Fever”? For those of you who don’t know this refers to a condition common amongst the fandom of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber. I’m not a fan myself (many moons ago when I was a teenage girl I was more of a DOA, The Smiths and Sex Pistols kind of fan) but to each his own. In the eternity that it seemed to be taking for me to process what I’d just heard, I wondered how Lola Mae could have experienced any of Justin Bieber’s music, never mind having become such a fan that she developed the “Fever”. Was scooting your butt across the floor a symptom of this fever? How was this determined from a fecal sample? Of course I didn’t say that.

What I said was, “Sorry, what was that?” The vet tech then went on to explain that BEAVER FEVER (which I had misheard) was actually an uncommon occurrence in an indoor cat. The medical name for Beaver Fever is Giardia. It is caused by a parasite that’s usually found in streams frequented by wildlife (such as beavers, hence the name) and can be spread through the usual way these things are passed along. People can get Giardia too. I have a friend who is a lab technician and she informed me that it sometimes pops up in rural communities with poor water sanitation facilities. We think the dogs might have picked it up at the kennel whilst we were away in May. The property has a stream that runs through it. The dogs had some digestive issues when we brought them home so it’s sort of the logical conclusion.

We’ve just finished 5 days of treatment for all four of our pets. No pills but liquid and syringes. Our larger dog is 90 lbs and he had to swallow an ounce of medicine. Do you know what happens when you try to shoot an ounce of chalky white liquid down the back of a dog’s throat with a syringe? It comes right back up. This animal will eat its own vomit or any type of exotic animal scat it comes across but refuse to lick that medicine up off the floor. A bottle of medicine, by the way, that cost us $98.00. As for the cats, well there might be some permanent scarring from the “cat incident”. I can tell you it was not a happy time for anyone. We’ll have to wait a couple of weeks and test again to make sure everyone has a clean bill of health. Here by the way is a poorly edited picture of what my cat might look like if she was a “Belieber” (that’s what they call people who have Bieber Fever).

Lola JB Swag

When I looked on-line I discover a whole world of Justin Bieber “swag”. After the costs associated with our last vet visit I’m positive I couldn’t afford to support the habits of a true Belieber. I think overall we have to count ourselves lucky. It’s not known if there’s any cure for Bieber Fever but at least with Beaver Fever we’re confident we have a fighting chance.

Music for this post

If you haven’t heard of him, firstly I would be very surprised but secondly, here are two links to Justin Bieber videos. The first “Baby Baby” is the original Justin. He’s evolved a new style as he’s gotten older which you can experience in the video “Boyfriend”.

Just in case Justin isn’t your style you can give The Smith’s “How Soon is Now?” or the Sex Pistols “Holidays in the Sun” a listen.

My cat really is cute despite the awful picture I made of her. By the way I personally think that cats shouldn’t wear hats in real life unless they’re a Dr. Seuss character. It took me a terribly long time to make the Lola JB Swag image. The computer with my photo editing software on it isn’t working right now. I edited that picture in…wait for it… Microsoft Word. I then converted it to a PDF, printed the screen shot and pasted it into Paint where I cropped it and then saved it as a jpeg. Pretty sad really when there’s free editing software that I could have downloaded and later deleted. Truth be known that picture of Lola isn’t my first horribly edited photo. I occasionally make and send them to my friends and family because I NOT so secretly enjoy making images that look really tacky. It just doesn’t normally take me as long as this did because of the software issue. Here’s one I made for my nephew who is 19 years old. He loved it.

Hellkitty