Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beloved Tubbo Walter who reigned over my bed

Hyperthyroidism, arterial thrombosis, and phantom limbs

The lexicon of my current days...diseases of the cat. Bianca (the small black and white fur kid on your left. Willie is the big boy) is hyperthyroid and can't stop puking to save her life. She's been on transdermal tapazole for nearly a month, and the only difference I see is that she keeps her food down for a few hours before puking it back up. But she also vomits numerous times between midnight and wake-up-o'clock. Often there is nothing for her to bring up but water or mucus. Of course, since Walter is no longer with us, she has started to sleep with me for the first time in over a decade. Walter ruled my bedroom for his entire life and while I adored sleeping with him every night of my life, I suppose he was a bit of a bully when it came to sharing me with the others. So I do love that Bianca is now sleeping with me. But the vomiting...not so much loving. I am on my feet with the bedside light on, paper towels and Resolve in hand, before I am even awake. This scares her, surely, as she must think that I'm mad at her given the alarm response her retching elicits in me.

We go to the vet "first thing" tomorrow morn for a blood draw, and "first thing" is very late for me recently, given the crappy sleep pattern I'm currently not enjoying. Gracie, the very first cat in my Cat Collecting Period, circa 1991, died of the cardiomyopathy associated with hyperthyroidism several years back, so I know this road. Gracie was pillable. Bianca is not. Thus the gratitude for our own local compound pharmacy. Bianca and Willie came to me right after Gracie did back in Monterey, CA, in 1992, and the three of them saved my life back in the day, in more ways than 24. I got Willie to keep Gracie company (an idea she was not fond of at all, as it turned out) and then a friend sort of dumped Bianca on me. How could I not keep her given how much she resembled Willie? It blows my mind every day that Willie and Bianca, both 15ish, remain the sole survivors in terms of the cat elders. Sadie is only 5.

I had the three Monterey cats for a few years (and Fred the hermaphrodite guinea pig) and then just as I was preparing to move to the Southwest, Merlin showed up feral in my yard. It took us days to trap and when we did, it was only because he had buried himself under the hood of my old Toyota truck. God he fought it and ripped into my hands something fierce from inside the pillow case. Shortly after that, I moved four cats and whatever I could fit into a U-Haul trailer with me to New Mexico, where we picked up adorable shelter Milo during our nine-month stay in hell, and then onto Colorado, where we found our Walter three months after moving into our own home. I liked having six cats. I loved not having to apologize to a landlady for my love of cats or get permission from anyone to add another should I care to. But then they started to thin out from various disease processes, and I added the dog in 1999 solely to accompany me on my walks.

I lost my first home in Colorado to foreclosure in 2002 and moved out with the dog and three cats, Willie, Bianca and Walter. Four months later, feral Sadie kitten dashed in front of my car in an alley, severely dehydrated, tiny and starving. I was back to four, my feline homeostatic point of equilibrium, and a new kitten helped us all adjust a bit better to the disorientation and loss of the foreclosure. I rested comfortably at four cats from 2002 until just last month when Walter died from a saddle thrombosis with a suddenness and unexpectedness that still makes my heart reel when I dwell upon it. I moved across the country, from Colorado to North Carolina, with my four cats and our dog, and now that I'm down to just three cats, I constantly do the nightly nose count to four. It's the phantom limb of an amputee. I don't feel whole without Walter, for sure, and his painful departure was certainly a severing process. But there is something about meeting my minimum daily feline companion requirement going on here too. I'm deliberately holding off on actively finding a new cat or kitten, mostly because I never have to look for them...they truly do all find me, and of course I am waiting for Walter to reincarnate immediately and come right back to me. But also for Bianca's sake. I've no desire to stress her daily life any further than it is with her health issues and whatever treatment course we decide to pursue.

I was emailing a friend that Bianca had puked three times night before last between midnight and 2:30am, and then I found mucus in my awesome black and white paisley Wal Mart flip flops in the mud room the next morning. That had me musing about this darling photo of my Beloved Walter on the pink and white paisley flip flops. I'm not in the mood to discuss the specifics of Walter's thrombotic demise right now (there's a very nice man under my house fixing the A/C, praise Allah) but I just logged onto one of my very favorite blogs, Crazy Aunt Purl, and saw her photo of one of her four babies on top of her flip flops. It put me in the mood to savor one of the 9,886 photos of Walter I've taken over the last 11 years.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's a wet, fundamental heat

Because I went and bragged in an email to Varina (ex-neighbor in Colorado) that the heat and humidity had not yet killed me, we are currently "enjoying" what has to be the most humid day EVER in NC. I splurged on the A/C before noon, which is a first, and only the third time I've hit the switch so far. Last night was horrible. Even the bedroom ceiling fan cranked up to high did not help. The late afternoon thunder storms hovered into the wee morning hours, cloaking the house in an oppressive straight jacket of sticky, suffocating moist. The thunder renders the dog even more oppressive and suffocating than normal in terms of her inability to be more than three feet from me. I'm certain that the bottle of Biltmore Chenin, accompanied by a serving of leftover pasta large enough for three wrestlers, followed up by as much Marie Callender's very frozen coconut cream pie that I could chisel out of the tin during Suze Orman, all contributed to my blissful and deep night's rest.

It's Sunday and that ensures that most of my elderly neighbors are coming and going from church. All this is apparent on the daily walk with the dog. Two very nice people have tried to encourage my attendance at their Baptist church of choice. There is one on every corner, literally. "Most everyone in these parts is Baptist." There is a conspiratorial effort underway to convert me. I have less than zero percent interest in discussing my eclectic spiritual path in life with anyone that does not sorta kinda share some of it, and I have less than less than zero percent interest in debating anything having to do with their certainty that "The Bible says it, therefore it's True." (Cue Stephen Colbert). What I have found spontaneously popping out of my mouth in both instances was: "Gee, that's sooooo kind of you, but I'm pretty liberal -- pro-choice, pro-gay." Which I know they hear as "Pro-murder, pro-sodomy." I can see them visualizing my bumper sticker: I brake for baby killers and butt fuckers. (Cue Kathy Griffin).

For the most part, people are pretty nice here, especially my elderly neighbors who have all lived right here in the same homes since God. The dog and I love our nature walks, despite the heat, and I find myself more tan than I've been in a decade. I'm forcing myself to walk in shorts, fat legs and all, and I think the copious rays of sunshine, the profuse sweating, the hills we climb, and the daily consistency in walking are all helping me to finally lose a few pounds. (If I continue to eat and drink like I have this weekend that will be short lived.) While I've been told that the bugs are not yet "bad" -- shudder -- I have issues with the kamikaze gnats that deliberately fly right into my sweaty eyeballs during my walks. It's a bitch trying to extract them without a mirror and sometimes they stay lodged in there for an hour or so. Still beats the shit out of shoveling snow!!

Lazy farm susan in progress

Not sure what it is about moving from rural SW Colorado to rural NW North Carolina that seems to have brought out the repressed farm girl/survivalist in me, but I recently got a big thing up my butt about hoarding not just sani-wipes, but china and pottery patterns with farm motifs.

My 92-year-young maternal Grama Emma, still alive and kicking in Napa, CA, with my mom, used a Brock pattern for her tableware throughout my entire childhood, so that predisposes me to a fondness for that maker. Bucks County has some cool patterns I've used in the past, and a search on eBay for chicken plates yielded more fun stuff. I started with this lazy susan but have a whole corner of a room dedicated to collecting all manner of farm themed pieces with a vision of grabbing me a huge hunk o' hardibacker from Lowe's and going to town, or farm, on a wall panel/backsplash. Maybe if I do get that booth for the Southern Highlands Craft Fair in October. I think the Bucks County sugar bowl lid is awesome, and with any luck I can split the rooster egg cup in half cleanly. And the Amish woman just plain old looks like me. Wonder can I find me a husband like hers in these parts?

And here's a little stepping stone in progress

I'm calling Sadie.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The transcendence in wine o'clock

The transcendent will come of its own accord when the container is strong enough.

This hangs on my fridge in my own handwriting. It inspires me deeply, as does its author, Marion Woodman -- beyond-brilliant Jungian analyst and one of my most treasured writers/thinkers/feelers in this lifetime. I believe I own every book she's written, or collaborated upon, or contributed to. Dip your soul's toes into the vastness that is she with a few choice interviews, conveniently transcribed for us in one place. I'm an absolute freak for dream work. Tracking her as she decodes dream samples contained in her books makes me wet. Really. I'm that hot for good dream work.

I'm also hot for good wine. Staying with the Jungian analyst theme, if an "over fondness" for spirits is merely a surface level, externalized, concretized symptom of a far deeper yearning for Spirit, is it possible that turning this massive empty wine bottle that I've saved for a decade into a pique assiette wine amphora will quench my thirst? Will the transcendent come of its own accord into my life more fully once I grout it in dark purple? How about if I drink more wine? Who can say. As Brugh Joy would admonish: "Don't pathologize The Mystery." (Which is a phrase that anybody with an "over fondness" for wine and spirits should keep on hand for moments when others far less self-actualized and un-transcendent are giving you grief and trying to pathologize your ass.)

Speaking of good wine, Biltmore Estate is all the rage here in NC and I recently began to explore their wines, readily available in GROCERY STORES here on any day of the week! This in blessed contrast to Colorado where the only "booze" one could find in a food market was a 3.2% wine cooler, beer, or Zima type thingey. And liquor stores must close on Sunday in CO, and on Christmas. One of the many reasons I am quite happy with my new home state. The other main one being NO SNOW to speak of.

Biltmore Estate Winery is up in Asheville, which is less than an hour from me. I intend to visit one day, but for now, I'm hopelessly hooked on their Chenin Blanc. It's a heapin' mouth full brimming with apricot jam and ripe, sweet pear nectar. Just enough acidity remains, along with a shockingly smooth and full body. $5.51 at my local Sav-Mor! The Riesling didn't do anything for me and I've been trying to be frugal and drink wines under $10 when I do drink so I'm currently doing my find-a-good-thing-and-beat-it-to-death, repetitive OCD ritual with the Chenin. But I can see from their Wines page that I need to try the Sauv Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and perhaps even their seasonal Festival of Flowers blend. (I am physically unable to drink red wines in heat, damn Pitta constitution. But maybe just a wee sip of their Pinot?) I feel a tasting trip is in order, perhaps next month when I visit the Southern Highlands Craft Guild's 60th Annual Craft Fair. I'm halfway through the jury process for membership, aspiring to be accepted by late August in hopes of scoring a booth for the October Craft Fair. I have not been able to find any other mosaic artists on their web site or in their member directory, so I'm hopeful that this might be a very nice affiliation for me. In the event that another artist bails out on their booth for October and I can snag it...a very good carrot on a stick to place under my nose (or swirling glass of wine, if you prefer) to keep me creating creating and transcending transcending.

It's in that surrender to the transcendent that art is created.
-Marion Woodman

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Like onions for gladiolas

At the end of last year the fur kids and I moved from the mountains of SW Colorado (8,000 feet) to the mountains of NW North Carolina (3,000). What a trip, in more ways than 12. I rented the only house that made any sense that I was able to view on a 48-hour, whirlwind trip here just prior. Must Find Home. Fast. It rained the entire time I was here so I never once saw the sky or even much of a tree line anywhere in the town. It was only after living here for a few weeks, and finally "landing" here, emotionally and psychically, that I fully realized how amazing these 9 acres that I rent truly are.

As the rental agent would tell me, the owners had "too much time on their hands" when living here, as evidenced (to him) by their fruit and vegetable garden efforts. But when I factored in all of the interesting old animal hutches and pens down the hill, I concluded that they are closeted End Times Freaks, which I am currently very much aspiring to be. Perhaps this home is nurturing and reigniting that relatively-dormant-since-Y2K streak in me? I stockpiled a lot of shit for Y2K, most especially anti-bacterial handi-wipes. Hell to me is not being able to wash my hands every 4 seconds. Having learned that when the electricity goes off here (often), so do the well and septic, I am now hoarding anti-bacterial handi-wipes again, along with plastic jugs of water for washing and flushing. Not to be co-mingled with the filtered ones for drinking.

One night in 2000 it was clear that we had escaped the clutches of the Y2K beast and I was experiencing severe blood sugar lows. (A more honest person of integrity would just say "drunk".) After downing a fabulous bottle of California Pinot Noir, I broke into my very stale trail bar stash, and then I broke a $1,000 veneer off my tooth. For that reason alone, my End Times Stash will include no trail bars, over-cooked Atkins frozen pizzas, or rice cakes topped with peanut butter, all proven mortal enemies of porcelain veneers in the years following. And I doubt that many cosmetic, restorative dentists will be in practice once the End Times are upon us. Surely they will be raptured first so there will be plentiful pearly whites inside the pearly gates. There are no bad teeth in heaven.

Anyway, Mr. Homeowner's job pulled them down to Florida and they now find themselves with two mortgages -- reluctant landlords who dream of retiring back up here, happily self-sustaining among their flora and fauna.

Over the months I've discovered not only the multitude of blooming trees and shrubs that grow wild in this area, but also a number of very beautiful bulb flowers that were planted around the home. Tulip, daffodil, lilies of various colors and species. Muy gorgeousio. Always something new in bloom. As I watched the edible treats come up, I found strawberries, raspberries, grapes and blackberries. I'm hoping that the blackberries, still to ripen, will bear decent fruit. Because I'm not tending the gardens one bit, the other berries have been a bit disappointing. I know I disappoint them as well.

The vegetable beds were a trip! A few tiny heads of stunted lettuce came up and I did eat a few leaves one night. I was able to identify mint and chives, but am not clear on what another large patch of most plentiful herbs truly is. One morning after my walk I glanced up to see an asparagus spear sticking straight up out of the ground! Never in my life had I seen one grow, or even a photo of one growing, apparently. I had no idea that they look, in the ground, exactly like they do in the market, but are not bundled in two places with thick, blue rubber bands. Now...if you let them go a week longer, they morph into four foot trees that look a lot like asparagus ferns! Imagine my surprise. And then there were these spear shaped leaves that poked up even before spring, on level one in the veggie/herb portion of the terrace. I was certain they were some foreign species of Southern onion. I pulled two, just to see how they were progressing, and due to their puny size, decided not to slice them for salad toppings. I pretty much forgot about them over the last month, blind-sided and devastated by the unexpected and heart-breaking death of my favorite feline companion, soul mate, Beloved Tubbo Walter.

So I was doing the dishes yesterday morning, hypnotically fixated on the garden, as I am wont to do. Two tiny orange blooms on one of the "onion" stalks knocked my ass right out of my reverie. For Christ's sake! GLADIOLAS. It never occurred to me that there might be more bulb flowers in that bed! I had salad fixings all over my mind. I felt very stupid, although I shouldn't have, knowing myself to be the bumbling savant I often feel myself to be in this lifetime in certain areas. I have my abundant areas of special talent and extreme giftedness, of course, but most days they bow in humiliated subservience to my regions of vast lameitude and buffoonishness. I am truly deserving of a front seat on the special bus in certain arenas. Many arenas.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Waiting for the end of the world

Dear Lord I sincerely hope you're coming 'cuz you really started something.

This seems as fitting a launch subject as any with which to kick off my new blog. My tortured psyche can not contain the incongruity of it all...vivid memories of driving the 100 or so miles from UC Santa Barbara south to Santa Monica to see Elvis Costello at age 19(ish), and today, at 49(ish), snoozing through the Lexus commercials that he and his (new) wife crank out. That alone tilts my little inner world on its axis.

But why stop there? Almost everything tilts my axis lately, and since I have strategically structured my hermetically sealed outer life to never compete with my rich, vibrant, and ever-vibrating inner life...I have no one to talk to about the many things that amuse and bemuse me. Except for the cats, of course, but they are heavy into power napping these days and I can only rouse them so many times before affecting their health. I have no e-friends in my current inner circle who have half the tolerance for, nay, love of, long email dissertations and free associating missives that I am constantly composing between my pointy ears and the enveloping silver folds of my beloved MacBook Pro. I no longer write a bi-weekly wine column for a little mountain town newspaper. (You can enjoy all of my columns archived here!) I hang out on no message boards. (I lurk.) I need to write. I love to write. I live to write. I shall write. I thank you in advance for reading.