Tuesday, September 27

two cats, no waiting

Okay, my more worldly-wise readers could certainly see this coming ... No, baby cat did NOT go back to the vet at the end of the weekend.

Baby cat, in fact, is now the youngest member of our household and will from now on be known by her nickname, Pinky (officially, ms. squarepeg says, "Lady Pinky the First").

Sunny, the 16-year-old Siamese, is now home but it's hard to tell how well he is. He seems the same as he used to when I thought he wasn't sick. Funny how I never noticed it before: it really seems like he got a whole lot bigger and fatter in 3 days!! Pinky fits in the palm of my hand, while Sunny is as big as a mountain and weighs two tons. Before Pinky came into our lives, Sunny's age, his slowness, his relative apathy had never really registered ... it happened slowly over many years, I suppose, and it was just him. Now the contrast is stunning.

So we almost didn't keep Pinky. Believe me, it was a really close call. I was all set to take her back, and we'd convinced ms. squarepeg too, that this was NOT going to be "the little sister she'd always wanted." She was keeping her promise not to try and keep the kitten past the weekend, and had gone to school believing she wasn't going to see Pinky again, and was being strong about it. That morning, the vet called to say she'd done another blood test on Sunny and his amylase count was down to normal so I could come and pick him up. I said great, and that I was going to be bringing the kitten back. The vet was disappointed, saying she'd been happy they'd found the kitten a home. I said we really did love her, but Sunny's welfare was the priority and it would be hard to keep them apart in our small apartment. I hung up the phone and then started cuddling Pinky again and gave her to Mr. Squarepeg and asked him, "Are you sure you don't want to keep her?" I could see it was going to be hard for him to go back to life without this cuddly cute furball. What a softie that guy is! He looked very doubtful, thinking about the trouble it would be, but then surprised me. "I guess we could keep her in the office [our computer room] with the door closed for a week." Wow. This was big.

Ever since, he's been like the kindergarten teacher/nurse, feeding, wiping up, playing, cleaning up shit and vomit, more feeding, more playing, finding a new box, and on and on. Having a new baby in the house is not a simple matter! Meanwhile, I'm at work and he's got most of the responsibility all day. I'm very proud of my Mr. Squarepeg right now.

Friday, September 23

cat crisis

Our 16-year-old Siamese has, not surprisingly, been pretty listless and not at all playful for some time now. Since 16 (and 3 months) is like about 75 for a human according to this cat age calculator, I didn't expect his frisk-factor to be too high. Still, he needed his annual shots, so it seemed like a good time to get him checked out by the vet anyway.

Well, his teeth were pretty disgusting, we were told, and he'd need to be asleep during the cleaning (and fasting for 8 hrs before that), so we made an appointment for the next week. When we brought him back yesterday, the vet did a blood test to make sure he was okay for the general anaesthetic, and found acute pancreatitis with a super-high amylase count -- a count he's only ever seen post-mortem (until now). It seems cats frequently die of pancreatic disease without ever being symptomatic (unlike dogs, who feel enough pain to alert their loving owners) and our dear Sunny may now have one paw in the grave as a result of our neglecting his teeth for too long. Not that a 16-year-old cat can rightly expect all that much more grooming-and-scratching time anyway. But I am kind of counting on him living to 20 (85 in people-time).

It is clear to me that it is not possible to explain to non-pet people the attachment I feel to this animal. I can't explain it to myself, how Sunny the Cat's personality seems so substantial, considering that his verbal communication, while abundant compared to most cats (Siamese are the most vocal -- could it be a higher intelligence?), is limited to purring and meowing. I guess it must be the non-verbal communication ... the way he comes padding along whenever I "call" him [I meaow, as it just seems more respectful to communicate in his language] and the way we just hang together when I'm sprawled on my bed reading or watching tv, or when I'm on the toilet and he rubs his head on my ankles, or the way he laps up the water that's left on the floor of the shower stall after I've showered.

How do you convey to a non-pet person the misery of seeing your sweet furry friend, who's older than your teenager and has survived as long as your marriage, hooked up to an IV in a big cage at the vet's, and the sad emptiness of a home where he's missing? We all miss him, but especially Mr. Squarepeg, who was the one who first brought him home, and has a very mushy soft spot for him.

We went to see him today, my daughter and her best friend and I, and he was silent except for a little mewing after I stuck my head in the cage and hugged him and promised we'd take him home as soon as he was healthy again. In another cage, she discovered a 3-week-old street kitten that the vet had taken in. Her sadness over our ailing pet gave way to a nurturing instinct upon seeing this teeny-tiny motherless creature, and she took her out to play. Soon she was begging me to take the scrawny thing home and of course I said no. She kept asking and I kept saying no, until I suddenly agreed, but only until Sunny comes back, because I don't want him to feel usurped. The vet was delighted to have a foster family for this helpless mite over the weekend and cackled like a drug pusher as I loaded the furball and a bit of special food and a syringe into a box. I think he suspects we won't be bringing the kitten back ... we'll see.

I didn't do it for the kid, or for me. I did it for Mr. Squarepeg, cause I knew he'd take one look and his heart would melt. I was right.

Resist that -- I dare you.

new words ... officially

Word lovers, rejoice: Merriam-WebsterCollegiate.com has officially sanctified:

brain freeze (noun) 1991 : a sudden shooting pain in the head caused by ingesting very cold food (as ice cream) or drink. Yeah, okay, that's pretty old news ... actually, brain freeze these days is what my daughter calls it when she can't answer questions on a test. And she swears it has nothing to do with not studying.

Other interesting words I'd never heard of, but are cool:

cybrarian (noun) 1992 : a person whose job is to find, collect, and manage information that is available on the World Wide Web
-- hey, sounds like my dream job!


retronym (noun) 1980 : a term consisting of a noun and a modifier which specifies the original meaning of the noun ['film camera' as opposed to just 'camera']
-- hmm, having trouble coming up with more examples of this.
"hard copy"? "snail mail"? "landline phone"?

Anyone?? I challenge you!

Friday, September 16

r&r weekend

Survived the week. It helped a lot that my boss finally released me from one of the major jobs we've got going right now, the new website, and redirected me to the major documentation project that feels like a huge wall I have to scale before I can rest. Or maybe more like a many-tentacled octopus. (Yesterday somebody sent me a dramatic video clip of an octopus ambushing and devouring a shark. Very tough critters, those octopi. Shocked the hell out of scientists manning the aquarium, who had hoped the octopus's camouflage technique and strength would be enough to keep it safe from the prowling sharks. Oops. Every morning, it was, "Where are all these shark carcasses coming from?")

So this is the weekend I try to relax and recharge. Started very well last night on the way home from work, at the home of an excellent massage therapist. I had a wonderful hour of heaven on his table, despite the fact that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't quite get my shoulders to fully release their tension. It was delicious, but my upper back is aching today.

And this morning, after dropping ms. squarepeg at school at 8am, I went to the gym -- have only managed twice this week; must get to three time to see results. Three is the magic number. Oh yeah, the diet is important too. Okay, it's MORE important, I know, I know. Just polished off some chocolates the kid created at a trip to a chocolate factory a few weeks ago, following a lunch of hamburger and fries. What is WRONG with me?

So after the gym, I met a friend at the beach and we sat around talking for about three hours. There's lots of catching up to do with this friend, who I worked with 20 years ago and have been mostly out of touch with in the intervening years, as he's been living all over the place since then. But he's back now for four years. It's very different having an old friend to talk to ... a very special quality. I have almost nobody else like that in my life, certainly not here in Israel, who knows so much history and sees the evolution, rather than a more superficial snapshot of who I am. Another dimension.

more cat abuse (when will it end?)

For cat picture-lovers only, others need not click: "random blog" surfing took me to Wordaholism, which I love, where there was a link to silly CleoCat.

[for further research: relation of cat-ownership to alcohol consumption]

Tuesday, September 13

bummed, totally utterly

I am really having a hard time finding the energy or spare moments to write here now. At this moment I'm stealing a few minutes in the office at the end of the day, just before tackling the horrid commute home. My boss has left, my colleagues have left, and finally no one is asking me to do one more thing.

It has been a hellish month since returning from my [best ever] holiday in Prague -- good thing I took it when I did. Little did I know how much I would need the memories of it now. My colleague and I are just one and a half people in terms of time at work (she's only half-time), plus I still know (and care?) so much less than she does, it's ridiculous.

So maybe it's more like one and a quarter.

In any case, this colleague does more in her half-time than I do in full-time, and I've told her for months she's not allowed to have any more babies (she's got 5 kids already, for god's sake) because I'd be up shit's creek if she took maternity leave.

So guess who I just found out is pregnant? Yep, five months already, in fact. Who knew? Two months after I arrived (7 months ago), I'd been eyeing her huge belly and asked if she was pregnant, and she said no, it was just the baby fat from all the other pregnancies, and she was trying to lose it. So since then, I've just assumed that the big belly under her loose clothes was fat. I was pretty shocked to get the news from my boss yesterday, and I've been in a black hole ever since. Today I had the gall to ask her if she had been trying to get pregnant or if it just happened, and she immediately informed me that that was a very rude question. Yeah, I can be self-involved jerk. I'm not sure if everyone would think that was rude, or it's just because she's British, but of course I was embarrassed and apologized. Shit. (Feel free to express an opinion.)

Our boss, lord love her, is a great "manager" but not exactly a person who can do anything besides "manage" -- i.e. nag other people to do things (and protect us from scary monsters). In fact, she's more of a time-waster. Every time she comes to drop herself down in the chair beside me these days, ready to bend my ear about her personal life for half an hour, I suddenly need to pee. I think she's starting to get the message.

I really need some more R&R. I'm holding on for the October holidays, just three weeks away ... not a single full work-week in October! Sweeeeeeeeet.

Wednesday, September 7

first blogiversary

Well, happy blogiversary to me. How fast it passed, the first year of blogging. Who knew what all would emerge when I wrote that first post?

I know I felt like more of an alien then than I do now, so I guess the year has mellowed me some. Maybe it's the paychecks. But full-time work is no picnic and sometimes I really wonder how many more of these agonizing bumper-to-bumper commutes I can take.

I would write more, but it's been nuts lately at work, and just as nuts in the evenings, trying to support my hard-at-it eighth-grader in the few hours left. She's managing well, but it's intense.

Will I make it to the second blogiversary? Only time will tell.

Thanks for being here, y'all. You are such good listeners.

Thursday, September 1

we made it through...

... and now the next challenge. First day of school and ms. teenage squarepeg begins grade eight.

I remember grade eight. I was insecure and flat-chested and my best friend was a relatively popular girl, a serious but outwardly foxy Ukrainian blonde. Association with her upped my credentials enough to get through the year in one piece. I still remember how we did up our long hair: high ponytail tucked in near the nape and tacked down at the bottom with bobby pins. I was teased for being "flat as a board" and I thought I would never grow breasts. Four years later, my principle tormenter became my boyfriend, hot and heavy throughout my eighteenth year. But in grade eight I didn't know what was to be, and I was miserable.

Ms. squarepeg, on the other hand, is a little cutie who has the advantage of an already acceptably-curvy shape and several very smart girlfriends to bolster her self-esteem. If we can just keep her and her schoolbag organized -- and her mom's hysteria level under control -- I think she'll have a very decent year to remember some day.