107: Penicillin

Great news!

The veterinarian said the that little brown kitten that was sick (that I thought would have to be put down), will be just fine after a week’s worth of amoxicillin, or synthetic penicillin, the wonder drug of the world. He has had four day’s worth, and already his little head is carried a little straighter – not turned so far off to the side, like it was before. He’s improving steadily, and should be all well after three more days. It cost only thirty dirham, and that is cheap to save a life – even if it is a kitten’s life. I am sure that life is pretty important to the kitten, and also to me. He’s a sweet little boy, who mews when he sees me, and runs to me for scratchies and cuddles. He sits on my warm foot, and stretches his little self as high as he can reach, hugging my ankle with both his front ‘arms.’ He’s so little that he does not know how to eat tidily yet, so he gets his food all over his little face and his little front feet – like most babies do. He gets a bath several times a week, to get the food out of his fur. He apparently think this mommy is pretty messy and uses way too much spit to wash him, but he likes it in the towel afterwards, when he gets all the rubbing to dry his fur.

His poor brother gets baths, too, since he is even messier than the little brown one. This brother has long, black and white fur, so long and fuzzy that he looks three times bigger than his little brown brother – but he’s not, it’s all HAIR! So, he gets baths, too, to clean all the leftover cat food out of his fur.

We noticed that they were too small to climb into the kitty potty. The sides of the pan were too tall for them, since they are still so little. We had to find an alternative so they could learn the “proper” place to go to the bathroom, since they were leaving presents everywhere. Thank goodness we put them in the bathroom, with the terazzo concrete floors that can be hosed clean with the shower head. We found a pan with shorter sides, filled it with litter and they both promptly began using it, even thought they are still tiny babies. Cats litter-train pretty easily, because they want to dig and then to cover up their messes when they are done making them, even when still so very little.


Naming the Babies

Names are very important. In wizardry books, knowing the wizard’s true name gives you power over them. Often, the true name of God is not to be uttered aloud. Names are important – consider how long authors labor over the names of their book and story characters.

I have named ten babies. Two human ones, and eight kitty ones – at least recently. My kids bear the names of grandparents, but it is hard to name a cat after its grandparent, especially when you rescued them as kittens, and not even MAMA was around to be seen, much less GRANDMA. So, naming them is even more important, since they don’t have their kitty heritage and ancestry to fall back on.

Sugar Daddy was easy. He is mostly pure white, except for a few orange-stripey spots in pleasing locations, and his personality was very sweet. He would let the girl kittens take his food from him when we gave them treats. We learned to sit him on the counter so he could eat his treat in peace.

Souk was rescued from the marche. She was, and still is, a mess. The souk is generally a muddled mess, with all sorts of things piled everywhere offered for sale. The name seemed to suit her.

Fez, and her calico sister, Medina, were found and rescued from the Fez Medina, and I just could not think of more suitable names. They have grown into them quite nicely. They are both very sweet girls, inquisitive and clever.

When number five kitten came along, I was stuck. I really did not want to keep him, so I just called him number five: ‘Humsa,’ in Arabic. The name was firmly stuck on him by the time we decided he was too sweet to give away.

Number six kitten was rescued by somebody else (I swear) and I just agreed to foster her until we could find her a home – the three of us: the two ladies who rescued her, and me, foster cat mom. So far, no takers. When she was really tiny, she did not walk, she hopped. So, I call her Honey Bunny.

Number seven I heard piteously mewing on a freezing cold, rainy-wet Saturday morning, while my husband and I were walking home. His body core temperature was so low that he could not even hold his little head up. I had to warm him on top of the toaster oven. I was worried he might die, but he suffered no ill effects from his freezing-wet time in the ivy bed. And once he warmed up, we discovered that he has a formidable voice: he mews and mews and mews until you pick him up for cuddles and scratchies. If you ignore him too long, he will climb up your leg to where he knows the cuddles and scratchies are. This is not good kitty behavior, and we are working to teach him that this is not acceptable. So, his only recourse now is to MEW LOUDER. I named him Enrico Caruso, in honor of the late, great opera singer. I toyed with Pavarotti, but I like Caruso better.

Number eight was mewing piteously (aren’t they ALL????), sitting at the bare, cold metal door of a closed shop on the walk to work one morning – no mama in sight. *Sigh.* I had to buy him two uncooked chicken kabobs to tide him through the day until I could get him home. Once his little belly was comfortably full, he slept for a solid seven hours. Poor baby.  The Arabic word for eight is Timinia, pronounced ta-many-ya, which I thought was perfectly appropriate. It sounds like too many OF ya, which is also quite true. Nobody should have eight cats!! So, Timinia joined the family.

Anybody want a free pet?

106: End of Year

Our students are completing their final exams for the year: yesterday, today and Monday. Then, Field Day on Tuesday and our final assembly on Wednesday morning, to celebrate accomplishments and take our projects home for the summer. Exams mark the end of each grading term, and once they are complete, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief!

Once exams are done, vacation begins. Vacation – what a delightful, heavenly, magnificent, wonderful, exciting word. Especially so, since we have not had a break from class now for nearly two months. We are spoiled, by having regular breaks every so often usually. However, this time, our breaks all occurred at the beginning of the year, with none for the end of the year. so, everyone is tired and cranky. Breaks are like medicine for tired and cranky.

I have had a few vacations that were scheduled so tightly that I felt like I needed another vacation to recover from the vacation I took. I have learned from these experiences, because going back to work when you are exhausted from a vacation is really stinky. I now, in my old age, am careful to schedule vacations with a day or so leeway at the end, so I don’t show up for work dragging my tired self in the door. Now, I am wise enough to have a day or two of recover time after a vacation, so I am refreshed, and have clean laundry (a real plus) when it is time to return to the salt mines of work.

This time, I am not returning to work, exactly, after vacation, but it is a paying position as a Camp Teacher for the University’s Summer Camp program for children. I am teaching Art, and preparing the lessons also for the people who will be teaching the non-English speakers basic English. Ten lessons of basic English for three different skill levels. Thirty lessons. Plus, I have the same number of lessons in Art, and I have chosen ten Camp Songs for the children to learn and sing, and prepared the songbook that I will print 200 copies of, as well as their Summer Camp Art Sketchbook, 200 copies of  that one, too. I have already compiled the list of supplies that we will need, and sent that off for purchase, and I am collecting rubbish for use (empty plastic bottles for the papier-mache animals we will make, chicken feathers, sea shells, and other bits and pieces for decorating projects). Getting enough stuff for 200 kids is a LOT OF STUFF!

Some of the supplies I will need I am looking for when we go on vacation, and some I am slowly collecting as I find them here. Summer Camp is going to be fun!!

105: Ducks

There are some people who I envy at times. They are the ones who are able to take setbacks in stride, and in that respect, they are rather like ducks – whatever nastiness there is out there just rolls off their backs, like oil and water: nothing sticks.

I just don’t seem to be able to handle failure like that. I’d love for mistakes I’ve made not to torture me for days, but they DO. You’d think I’d learn and just withdraw from interaction that causes trouble, and occasionally I do that, when the cost is just too great. But, you know what? I have opinions, values and morals, too, and some people do a pretty good job of trampling all over all three.

There are various ways of dealing with these people. First, I can answer them back. This has proven to be of little use, because they certainly don’t appear to even consider anyone else’s point of view, and they aren’t changing their behavior or their attitudes as a result. And, besides, I get tired of defending my point of view. It is tough being conservative, Christian, American and Southern as an expatriate. Everyone appears to be Northern, Yankee, agnostic/atheist and a raving liberal. Take my word for it – we don’t see eye-to-eye.

Second, as a method of dealing with them and maintaining my own peace of mind, I can “unfriend” them and check the little boxes that don’t let their posts show up on my screen. Plus, I can decline invitations to events where we will be in proximity. I would not want to offend anyone by the way I smell. Since I consider that some of their opinions smell, I am fairly certain that sentiment is returned.

Life is much more peaceful when I am not having to point out that not everyone in the world does it the way that you do, and that there are other points of view besides your own. Things are much better now, and I don’t miss a thing!

104: Fly hunting

Our cats are hunters, instinctively. They like to hunt. When there is nothing else to hunt, they hunt each other. They will freeze, eyes locked on their “prey.” The only thing that will move is the tip of their tail. Then they will stalk closer, one cautious step at a time, watching intently to see if the prey notices. Sometimes, if the prey is a fly, they will utter a strange little meow of trembling excitement during the stalk – a quiet little meow. Then comes the wiggle in preparation for the pounce. They will shift their weight from front paw to front paw, causing an interesting shimmy sort of wiggle – and then the LEAP!!

Lately, since the weather has been warmer, we have been opening doors and windows. Only two of our windows are screened, and that is because WE screened them. The other openings are, well…open, and flies come inside, enticed by the interesting smells coming from inside. This is hunting bonanza for the kitties. They adore stalking flies. Keeps them entertained for hours. Occasionally they will catch one, which they play with until it “breaks,” and then they eat it.

Timinia has become wise about the fly swat. When mom wants to cook something, she gets the fly swat and clears the kitchen area of pests. Timinia has discovered that mom is an awesome fly hunter. When he hears the ‘splat’ of the fly swat, he comes running, because he knows that usually means a fly carcass awaits. He has learned to wait patiently for the ‘splat,’ so he can reap the rewards of the tasty tidbits. Since I generally kill ten or twelve at a time, he gets his treats without having to stalk them.

Medina is our best fly-catcher. She has been known to even snatch them out of the air while they are flying, thinking they are secure in the air. We have seen her leap head-high (6 feet) up the wall to get one. Watching them hunt is endlessly fascinating.

103: Rescued Orphans

Yesterday, the apartment manager at the off-campus residences asked me if I would be willing to take two orphaned kittens. We have eight cats already, so of course I said yes. He explained as he led the way that these young kittens had either lost their mother, or she had abandoned them, which does sometimes happen. Since they were in a visible place, he told me, the complex children (the human ones) were playing with them. The only problem with this is that very young kittens are very delicate, and if you play with them a little too roughly, they “break.” That had already happened to one of the three kittens when he saw them, so he was trying to find a way to save the remaining two from the attentions of the children, who were probably not trying to harm them at all, but just played with them in the wrong way.

When I got there, there were two, about four weeks old (maybe), one brown tiger-striped, and one little fuzzy tuxedo (black and white), huddled together, who started mewing as soon as they saw us. The brown one was probably the runt, since it was significantly smaller than the other kitten, and my heart sank when I saw it. This kitten was very sick.

We used to raise rabbits in my other life in Georgia, in the United States. Once, out of hundreds of baby rabbits, we had a little one that exhibited this kitten’s symptoms. I took baby bunny to the vet, and he told me that it had a parasite in its brain. This parasite works on the balance area of the inner ear. They way you can tell is that this causes the animal to think that the world is tilted. Because it “sees” the world as tilted, it turns it head sharply to one side, so that it now sees the world as “right side up.” The vet sadly told me that this condition has no cure, and that the animal will gradually turn its head more and more to the side, trying to keep the world “right side up,” until it has its head completely upside down, and it can’t even eat or drink anymore. I think this little kitten has this condition, because he carries his little head sharply turned to the left – all the time.

The other kitten is normal, like the poor  little rabbit’s litter-mates were also normal. We had to ask the vet to put the little rabbit to sleep, because there is no cure for this condition, and we did not want it to suffer. I am afraid that when we take this kitten to the vet, this will be the diagnosis, but I am still hopeful, and he is still able to eat and drink, so he is not suffering…yet. We already have an appointment to take our other three kittens to the vet, one for her second round of kitten shots and two for their first round, so we will take the new babies when we take the others.

Sometimes it is tough being a cat mom.

102: Vacation plans….and the reality

There is a week of school left, and then a week off before Summer Camp begins. I volunteered for Summer Camp, because I am stupid, and because I really need the money. So, because I made this commitment, I have two weeks less of summer vacation time. Not that Summer Camp won’t be fun, because it will be – but it is also work. I have to set up supplies and be ready to go with activities each day. It’s fun work, but still work.

This means I get a week’s vacation between real school and Summer Camp. The impulse, of course, is to make this week off very special, and opt to visit Italy or Greece, Germany or France. Going to another country, though, means airfares, and not only airfares, but airfares during peak travel season: summer. During peak travel season, cheap fares are non-existent. This would logically mean that my fantasy vacation would be an expensive one. This is….inconvenient….for several reasons. The first is that we just got our wrecked car out of the repair shop, and the cost has not yet been reimbursed by our insurance company. That means that we paid the repair cost out-of-pocket. That means, if you are slow on the uptake, that there is not a lot of cash lying around handy for vacations. The second reason is…heck, reason number one is enough reason.

Who wants to go on a fantasy vacation where you have no spending money, because it took everything you had just to GET there? That’s no fun…no restaurant eating, no souvenirs, no sightseeing because you don’t have entry fees: it sucketh mightily. I’d rather wait until we have managed to save a little more money  before taking one of those vacations, so I can enjoy it once I get there.

I still have a week’s vacation, though, and I’d like to go SOMEwhere. Where? Well, we ARE in Morocco. That means there are some really neat cities to see that we have not yet visited. So, being on a rather tight budget means that we will stay local, and go somewhere we have just not been yet, to see new things and new places in the country where we are – no airplanes. That works!!