639: Purr


Your throat is vibrating,

warm black furry weight in my lap. You prickle my tummy

with your pokey-sticky fingernails

when it gets good, that stroking. Big golden eyes, slow blink,

and a luxurious stretch, before abandonment

for now.


621: House, interrupted

Hubs and I are fixing up a foreclosure house we bought. I SAY “we,” but most of it is me. He helps when asked for the heavy stuff, or the stuff I cannot do by myself, but mostly, it’s me. He says that’s because I am in charge of the house – which, technically, is mostly true. Still – he lives here, too, and abdicating all responsibility for the stuff that needs doing is pretty annoying sometimes. Still, when I am working, I do admit to getting in my solo groove – I suppose because there isn’t any other alternative? And, getting it done myself does mean it is done to my standards, which might be the whole crux of the matter.

Over the months since we bought this house, we have had the roof replaced, the kitchen gutted and redone (new cabinets, kitchen appliances, flooring and ceiling), more flooring, a hot water heater, washer/dryer, more flooring, painted walls and ceilings and trim, bathroom caulking, painting, new doors, new locksets and deadbolts, more flooring. More trim. More painting.


Lighting fixtures, more walls, ceilings and trim painting. Curtains, drapes, sheers, rods, brackets. More painting. Salvaged kitchen cabinets that now are storage for a craft room that someone else might use as a bedroom or a nursery. Caulking, running trim, painting trim. Sweeping, hauling debris. Calling for repair, and more estimates. Running to the store for more materials. Again.

There’s always something else to be done: paint, hemming the window treatment curtains, straightening up, cleaning up, unpacking, sorting, putting away, not to mention the usual stuff, like a load of laundry, or repairing garments that have popped a seam, lost a button, or pulled loose a strap or snap.

If I sit down, I pretty rapidly become a cat’s bed, since one of the two resident felines claims my lap. Nothing gets done unless I do it.

If I sit down, nothing else gets done. It waits on me.

It is a darn good thing that this isn’t a contest with any sort of deadline.

561: It’s only a book


It’s only a book that tempts me

to ignore the dishes in the sink, the laundry in the basket, the litterbox,

the papers waiting to be graded.

It’s only a book that tempts me

to stay up and read the last half (when it’s already midnight)

and I have to go to work tomorrow.

It’s only a book, and when I read it, I hear nothing, am aware of nothing else in the universe, including

alarm clocks, phone calls, microwave timer buzzers, the purring cat in my lap who

prickles my leg as she makes bread against my thigh.

It’s only a book that calls me

into another’s life, another world, another reality, another experience of someone else’s imagination.

It’s only a book. I’m hooked.

436: Put in My Place


This past weekend, I went along for the ride, shopping with two lady friends. This is because one of them has a vehicle, and having a car in Panama means when I buy the giant, economy-sized, 25 pound bag of cat food, I don’t have to actually physically carry it home. Since I needed only the one thing, my sojourn through the MegaDepot (Sam’s Club-style store) was fairly short, and as I checked out and paid, I realized I might have quite a wait for my friends. There were no chairs or benches.  What there WAS available were three kiddie rides: a bird/airplane, a boat, and a horse.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to have people stare, I chose the boat because it had a longer bench seat, and I figured I could perch there semi-comfortably until my friends checked out.  About five minutes later, after a few speculative glances from departing shoppers, I saw a little girl who MIGHT have been all of two feet tall running madly, making a beeline for…..yep – the kiddie rides. And ME.

As she got close, her head snapped up and she spotted me sprawled in the boat bench. She skidded to a stop, with a WTF look of complete consternation on her face – YOU are not supposed to be there, lady! Then, as I watched, I clearly saw her expression change – the determination rolled over her like a wave, and I began schooching over on the bench, because it was immediately clear she was not letting my fat, old a** slow her down a single whit.

She clambered up next to me in the boat, parked her tiny bum, folded her hands in her lap, and looked up at me, like, “Whatcha gonna do about it?” I, of course, rooted around in my bag for a quarter to start the ride. When I found one, I handed it to her, and, obviously no stranger to the rides in this store, she inserted it into the proper slot…..nothing. I shrugged my shoulders, shook my head no, and said “No funciona.” (Not working).

She briefly paused, then she clambered out of the boat and over into the bird/airplane. When she was seated, she looked at me, and imperiously held out her hand for the quarter. I handed it over. She put it into the slot of ride number two….nothing. Undeterred, she climbed out of the bird/airplane, and ran around to try the horse. When she climbed up onto it, she again extended her hand for the quarter, and I forked it over. She put it into the slot on the last chance ride….nothing. No funciona.

By then, her mom? was done checking out, and was ready to leave, but no dice. It took dad? grandpa? hauling her bodily off the horse to be able to depart. I was still snickering. And she did not want the quarter – she wanted the RIDE!


364: Off to see the Wiz—veterinarian!!

Monday this week, I called the veterinarian’s office and discussed with them bringing in two cats for neutering – one male and one female. I told them Saturday morning, since I am off work for a week and can stay home to give them their meds and be sure they are healing properly. I called this office because the e-mail I sent to the other vet I sometimes use was never answered. They told me an appointment for Saturday morning was not necessary (just come in), and how much it would cost, and that the meds were included in the cost, about 200 dollars for both. OK.

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At 6:30 on Saturday morning, I checked with my neighbor who was outside already about a ride to the city – she was taking her dog to her vet for boarding, and could drop me and three cats in crates, too. This was a HUGE favor for a car-less person. Many taxis here in Panama won’t pick you up if you have an animal carrier, and neither will the city bus.  So, we arrive, unload the crates, and I discover once inside the store that the store’s veterinarian clinic is CLOSED FOR REMODELING. Not just that the vet is sick that day and can’t come in – oh, no. Closed for remodeling. And my ride is driving off…….SNIT.

So, I go to the street and start flagging taxis. These two cats have been without food since last night to prepare for their surgery this morning, and I only have this week to be home to care for them as they recover. This has to happen NOW. The first taxi says no when I confess ‘tres gatos in cajas’ (three cats in boxes). The second taxi is more ratty-looking, and he says yes. Since I don’t know where to go, I tell him veterinarian’s office – and off we go. He takes me to Spay Panama clinic, and they have a line of about 50 people already (before 8 am), but the lady there kindly tells my driver another vet office, and off we go…again. The third office has the lady at the front desk selling the Science Diet, but no doctor is in. She comes out and tells my driver another office nearby. I go in to vet number 4 and praise God, I get a yes. It is going to cost more than twice what my original vet was going to charge, but this one is open, and this has to happen TODAY.

Costa Rica 061

I return to the taxi and pay the guy 30 bucks for being so super in my emergency, which delights him so much that he gives me his phone number and says for me to call when they are done and he will take me home. I fill out papers, and leave two cats for neutering surgery, and one for a visit about itchy skin rash (Caruso, above). Then I go next door to the grocery store, and carefully and thoroughly peruse every single shelf, shopping to kill time (a dangerous proposition for me, let me tell you). Plus, the store has a nice, little, inexpensive cafe, and I also dawdle over a leisurely lunch of $3.00 chicken, rice and lentils, plus a doughnut and a slice of cake, with two large cups of some interesting sweet/tart fruit juice.

Then, having nowhere else to go, I tote the loot back over to the vet’s office and settle down to wait in their air conditioning. This is Panama, and I am not a total fool.  It is only 12:00.  I doze fitfully in the chair until 4:00, when the vet comes out and tells me they are fine, gives me the ‘recipe,’ as she calls it, of medicine instructions for all three. The meds are another sixty bucks, on top of the 370 for the two surgeries and the consultation about the skin fungus (as it turns out).

I call Jorge, the taxi driver, and when he arrives 15 minutes later, we negotiate a fee to return home, we load up my groceries and the kitties, and off we go, accompanied by a chorus of stressed-out kitty meows.  It’s been a long day, mom, and they discuss this with me (and Jorge) all the way home.


Part way there, I see a strange, moving lump on the side of the road, and realize it is a three-toed sloth crossing the road – when I exclaim “It’s a sloth!!” Jorge stops the taxi and backs up – I hop out and direct traffic around the sloth until another car stops, and a man with a cloth band hooks it around the sloth and hauls him/her to the other side of the road to safety, and we are all off again. Excitement over. It’s nice that everyone was protective of the sloth. I had never been that close to one before.

We get home, and I pay and tip Jorge and tote everybody and the groceries into the house. It is well after 5 pm, and everybody needs feeding, including me. Then, it is time to medicate everybody. As I do this, I notice that Cielo, the male cat that was neutered, has his tummy shaved as if he were getting the female spay incision – way up his belly and his sides – far more than necessary for the more simple, less invasive male procedure.  I guess the vet got busy shaving before they read the directions on the bottom of Cielo and figured out this one was the BOY, and it was the other one that was the girl!

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As I type this, Dulce, the girl, is snoozing at my feet, after antibiotics, vitamins and pain meds, and a nice comfort session in my lap, getting stroked and petted like she likes it. Cielo hates the lampshade collar that prevents him from licking his sore spots with his sandpaper tongue, and he keeps bumping into me and everything else.  But everybody is cared for, and it is DONE!! Now, to get well!!