561: It’s only a book

Book-Person

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

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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.

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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.

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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!!

352: Murderer

I am a murderer, responsible for the death (an agonizing one, not clean and quick) of a creature I loved very, very much. The prickle of tears is starting again as I confess this unpardonable sin, and it is only right that I should flagellate myself this way….my babies depend on me to care for them, and I let Fluff-man down in the most awful way.

I had to leave Panama to renew my tourist visa, because document thieves stole my FBI Criminal Background Check document in Miami, and this document is required to begin the months-long process of getting my work visa. Without it I cannot apply, and replacing it has been a nightmare of delays and waiting.  So, I booked Costa Rica to renew my visa over our school’s Christmas break. Because I have been robbed here in Panama twice already (once in my home and once in the street) I was not willing to give a key to my house to the next door neighbor who agreed to care for the cats while I was gone. Instead, I fixed a place in the screened metal security door where the cats could come and go, and I placed a large metal crate over this opening, so they could exit the house (into the crate) to access their potty, and the neighbor could tend it without actually entering the house. Belongings safe, right? No dogs have access to the cats, either, right?

Then, I took all six kitchen table chairs and placed one heavy chair in front of each and every door inside my house, so that the wind (which occasionally is pretty strong) could not possibly blow any inside door shut, which might trap a cat. Then, I filled each and every pan and bowl I owned with kibble or water, and placed them all around: kitchen, living room, both bathrooms. I even put one bowl in the bathroom sink and left the tap dripping into it, and filled both sides of the kitchen sink for good measure.  Secure in the knowledge that there was super-abundant water and food available, and access for the kitty potty, I headed off on my visit to Costa Rica to renew my six-month tourist visa.

Well. The best laid plans of mice, men and kitty mommies aft gang agly. The chair I placed in front of one bedroom door did blow shut. The wind just pushed the heavy chair aside, and when the door shut, Fluff-man was inside. The food and water bowls, so many of them, were all in other rooms. The neighbor heard Fluff meowing after some days, and they took out the window glass to get him out of the room. However, because he’d had no water, he was dehydrated…and when you are seriously dehydrated, you lose the desire to drink. They did not know to force-feed him water, and they did not know to take him to the veterinarian, and Fluff died the next day.

I loved that cat, and would not have harmed him for the world – and I harmed him to death. I’d rather they had robbed everything left in my house than to have hurt that kitty boy, but hurt him I did. I am so awfully sorry that he paid for my mistake with his life, and it has been a horribly hard lesson for me, too, even if I am still living.

322: But mom, I want to HELP……

untitledI have regularly made banners and wall hangings as part of my drive for creative expression. I never really cottoned onto the fact (before now) that these creations were accomplished while I was at SCHOOL, and were not made in my personal living space, which is shared with felines. Multiple felines. Who have fatal curiosity – FAR worse than human children. The term laptop was originally coined to describe feline behavior when their person was engaged in any other task besides kitty loving. They cannot STAND it, not being the center of attention (similar to human children).

So. I have this seven-foot long, four-foot wide piece of fabric that I am painting spread on the largest work surface in my home, which happens to be the kitchen table. Serious miscalculation error number one. First, it is in the kitchen. This means that the assorted fur children are already disposed to be overly interested, because this is the FOOD ROOM. Duh, stupid kitty mommy-type person.

Second, I am PAINTING this banner, instead of appliqueing it, or using some other method which does not use liquid colorants. This virtually guarantees paw prints. Paw prints were NOT part of the original design for this banner, although I am rapidly revising my original plans……..

 

 

320: Fez and the Flowers

Fez is my champagne and white kitty girl. She was born in the ancient UNESCO world heritage site of the medina in the imperial Moroccan city of Fez.  I brought her to live with me in  Panama, while I work my new job at a new school.

When you bring in an animal to Panama they undergo a quarantine period of 40 days where you promise to keep them inside and away from any other animals, in case they are carrying some sickness. YOU agree to this, the animal does not. Fez got out Saturday night onto the porch of the house, which I have screened the access door to, so that she can’t go there. She found a way.

Sunday morning I found her inside (how did she get back in?), in an unnatural sleeping position (not sleeping) on the other bed in another bedroom. I knew instantly that something was wrong. She was listless, groggy and groaned in protest when I picked her up. She also had cat pee on her fur – ????? Who peed on her, and why would she have LET them???  I thought she possibly might have eaten one of the half-dead cockroach bugs that I had found lying on their backs, feebly kicking on the floor. These were victims of some insecticide the landowner had used before my arrival – I am careful about poisons, since I have cats. I have lost some to this problem before.

So, before 6:30 am, I am on my way by foot and bus to the center of Panama City to a vet. The first bus said no as I was climbing aboard with the cat carrier, but the second bus agreed to transport her and me. I texted a friend who I knew lived where there was a vet, and she got me directions and a phone number. The vet said, once I got there (took my very last five dollars for the taxi), that she appeared to be OK, and most probably would not die (thanks, doc), 35 dollars, please.

My credit card declined. Fortunately, my friend arrived with cash, and she let me borrow 40 bucks till payday. Fez, the cause of this trauma, slept all the way home, letting out an ear-splitting yowl occasionally, to be sure all of us on the bus were awake. Such fun. It was not until I got home after 1 pm that I found the evidence of what happened.

On the front porch, I had a five gallon bucket of ornamental flower cuttings that I wanted to root. The flower shrubs in the planter bed were skimpy looking, so pruning them made them appear thicker, and if I could root them, I could fill in the thin spots.  Half the cuttings were scattered around the porch, and the leaves were eaten off of them. And the clincher? There were puddles of cat pee everywhere.

Fez, my sober, dignified, staid, elegant cat lady, had really tied one on with the flower leaves. Three days later,

Fez is under the chair

Fez is under the chair

she is still a little hung over. I am just glad it has not killed her – so far…….

Flowers have to GO.