Friday, May 30, 2008

No Bootsie

I found a tuft of Bootsie's fur at the site of her doom. And another pound of it on my bed where she used to sleep.

With all the hubbub of that night I wasn't so much sad as I was astounded, shocked and horrified at the tremendous drama of the cat snatch, the water gush, the hot sauce in the eye.

The grieving did come, when I cozied with her brother Artsie, aka Mr. Cat. I buried my face in his curl where I heard the teeniest tiniest purr a cat can make. It was only audible because my ear was buried deep in his belly. And that made me think of this: maybe cats purr all the time. Like a kitty pilot light, maybe we can only hear the purr when they turn it up for us.

It was the sound of his purr that made me miss her purr, and then I cried for her. And it felt kind of good to cry. Having Mither Cyat there as my silent witness helped, too. In fact, that's when cats are at their best, when they're listening in silence. They are so aloof when you demand their attention, but when you are still and quiet, even if it is the sad zone, or the sick zone, that's when a cats' quiet ways turn from cold and remote to there for you.

I've found there is no shortage of people who have a dead cat story to swing. I have a few less recent versions of those stories myself. Still, even though it has been a short time since yesterday, I think I'm done sharing my story. Next time someone asks how I'm doing, I'll give them the usual, "Fine thanks, and you?" instead of the "Where do you want me to start?" Bootsie is gone and that's all folks.

It did occur to me that Mercury went retrograde on Monday, so I'm not so naive as to assume they'll be no more drama between now and June 19 when it goes direct again. I just hope I get to keep the boy cat around to sop up any stray tears. If he gets grabbed by a coyote, my next post will no doubt be entitled, "Shotgun Wanted".

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Getting Closure

It is 3 a.m. I'm up, awake, and my face is on fire. The fire department just left. It's not what you think.

I heard a cat fight. It woke me up from a sound sleep. It was a terrible, sudden, vicious fight, of an unusually short duration. No yowling and threatening growls, just that wild and wicked, scary cat sound you would make if you were doing the voice-over for a cartoon scene of a cat fight.

The cat sounds stopped mid-scream...and I heard something loping away crunching the dry grasses of the vineyard as it ran along the fence line away from the house. Coyotes lope.

I don't know with absolute certainty, but I suspect our kittie, Bootsie, was the victim of a coyote attack tonight. Her brother, Artsie, was sitting on the bed with the look of...of...well, he had the look of "Good. You're up. Pour yourself some coffee and then you can put some food in my dish, how's that sound?" What he did not have was the look of "What was that sound? Where's my sister? Was that loping? Do you smell coyote? Let's chase after it!" Artsie is a cat. Those are clearly dog words.

I won't know until later today, but I suspect Bootsie is either dead, or injured beyond the point of repair. My angel of optimism is insisting she got away and is hiding until morning. Won't that be a nice surprise.

But wait, there's more.

I stood at the window, yelling "Hey! Hey! Hey!" as if the shouts of a human had any effect on a predator's dinner quest. When the cat sounds stopped suddenly, I listened. I wanted to hear cat sounds. Cat running toward the house sounds. I wanted to see, or hear, Bootsie high tailing it back home with her tail all fluffed out and her eyes all big and glassy. All I heard was loping...and water running?

I put my Ugh boots on, and grabbed my big heavy flashlight, thinking I'd need to fend off a canine creature of the night...yeah right...and I headed out into the night toward the sound of the running water. A pipe had broken off at ground level and gallons of water were spewing out. It was well water, so I didn't panic about my water bill. In fact, I was quite calm and present. I picked up the part that broke off so I could use it to help measure for some kind of plug, and walked back to the house muttering to myself as if I were formulating the plan that would stop the water flow.

I returned with a rubber mallet, a pipe of larger diameter, duct tape and scissors, my glasses and some nylon zip ties. See how calm I was! I fashioned a slip-sleeve that was duct taped closed on one end. I tamped it down with the mallet and the zip ties held it in place. Water is a mighty adversary. My dorky rigging failed miserably.

Thinking of water as my adversary made me think of Bootsie's adversary and I scanned the dark vineyard with my flashlight while occasionally giving my more urgent problem the good old look-see. You know, where you just look at it...and think.

I had to do something, so I did what any child of the 50's would do, I applied a few methods popularized by the Three Stooges. First, put your hand over it, and get splashed in the face. Next, put your foot over it, and get splashed up the leg. Stop. Look at it, and try your foot again. Thanks folks, you've been a great audience. Exit to the garage. No wait, the kitchen!

In the kitchen I found a small bottle that had the same dimension of the inside of the pipe which, clever me, I had been carrying around just in case I ran into a bucket of giant rubber stoppers. I took the little bottle out to the gusher and stuffed it in the hole. Water sprayed out, but I almost had it. The problem was the lid! If I took off the lid, it would be a perfect fit, the water would stop, I'd zip tie the bottle to the iron stake, and there you have it. Except for the fact that it didn't work. Only now my proof of failure was a face full of Hottest F***ing Sauce hot sauce. My right eye, my right ear and my cheek are burning, water is gushing, and I'm standing outside, soaking wet, in the dark at 3 in the morning. Don't let "in the morning" fool you. It is night time. And quite possibly the dead of night for darling Bootsie.

In the house again, I put milk on my face because somewhere I read milk is better than water for stopping a capsaicin burn. Despite the pain and failure, I was able to muster thanks to my lucky stars that my miseries did not involve a skunk.

Gee, here's a thought, call 911. "What is your emergency?" is how the dispatcher answered the phone. I was embarrassed because my so-called emergency was so dumb. I'm pretty sure the 911 tapes will sound something like this: "a coyote got my cat...this is not an emergency really...I mean, no one is person is cat...I heard water...I tried to stop face is burning...I used hot sauce...I'm okay...I have milk on it...the water is running...I can't stop it..." until she interrupted me, and after determining I didn't need a paramedic, suggested I speak with the fire department. She transferred me. Help was coming.

I changed my clothes, washed the milk off my face, brushed my wet hair back and waited in the driveway with my big flashlight. After a few minutes two big diesel trucks and four firemen (one of whom was a woman) arrived. I can't tell you how validating it was to see them point their flashlights at the water and give it the old look-see.

We found the breaker and turned off the well pump so it would stop drawing water from the well, filling the storage tank. Good. Then we tromped down to the well and one of the guys closed a few valves, and made sure I knew which ones. Good. Thanks. We walked back up to find the water had stopped. On the way, one of the firemen sneezed and one of the other guys remarked maybe he was allergic to coyotes. Gallows humor, gotta love it.

Now it's a plumber's job...and maybe a vet's job. If Bootsie comes home happy and safe, or if I find an empty collar, or anything in between, I will be sure to post the news, good or bad.

In life and pipes, closure is important.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

Uh-oh. A few posts ago I said these words, "Vespa For Sale." Now I find myself caught in the tractor beam of the Law of Attraction. Yikes. There's a guy who, gulp, wants to buy my Vespa. And yeah, I said I wanted to sell it, but, but, but...I'm having seller's remorse. Caveat Dumptor.

I guess I could exercise the greatest power known to man. No, not free will...lying. I could simply LIE to him and say it is already sold. Problem solved.

But what will that do to my karmic scale? It is already burdened with the heavy weights of past-told lies. "Any coffee is good coffee.", "Kraft Lite? Whatever. Mayonnaise is mayonnaise." and the lie I have told most often, "I'm half Italian." For some reason, whenever I get around someone who is Italian, I tell them I am half Italian. What is that?! I am, legitimately, a quarter Italian, because my dad was half. But I rarely show my math when I lie this lie.

What makes this stupid lie even worse is I am half! But Norwegian! My mom is full-blooded (not to be confused with cold-blooded). Still, even if I lied and said I was 100% Norwegian it wouldn't have the ethnic punch half Italian does. I don't even get any satisfaction from telling a Norwegian person I'm half. In fact, the only value my half Norwegian blood gives me is when I run into a Swede. "A Swede is a Norwegian with his brains knocked out" is a common expression with Norskies. Come to find out a common expression with Swedes is the very clever, "A Norwegian is a Swede with his brains knocked out." Oh, those scrappy folks from Latitude 62. (It's the nights. They're long and cold.)

Here's the question, when did the truth get so limp-dicked? When did lying become the cure? Which direction are we headed...on the easy, shaded path of the convenient lie, or up the shear granite face of respect for the power of the truth?

When this guy emails me back, I am going to tell him the truth. I am going to say, "I am half Norwegian, and although I have cooled on the idea of selling my Vespa, I feel like I have to be nice and let you buy it anyway. But my one quarter Italian blood wants to ride it wildly through the streets of Rome, with Audrey Hepburn on the seat behind me, laughing gleefully, her delicate white hands on my shoulders, both of us sporting sassy new do's. And even though my inner Norsky has twice as many delegates, my inner Wop is again the winner. I'm sorry, Vespa not for sale.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Best Mother's Day Gift EVER!

On Mother's Day I put my arms around my daughter. I hadn't seen her for a couple of years. It had been so long I could barely remember how amazing and unique that simple gesture feels. Sure, I hug friends, even strangers, and I get it, hugging is a good thing. But to put your arms around your own daughter is like no other feeling, except perhaps putting your arms around your own son! Then again, sons hug differently. They aren't as melty as girls. They hug with either too much manly gusto, or they keep back a bit so as to not breach the invisible force field that separates close from too close.

My arms fit around my daughter like I had the arms of ElastiGirl. It was Incredible. I felt like I could pass my flesh and bones through her flesh and bones, and back out again. The wave of emotion I felt surprised me, though, when I realized it was guilt. I had let too much time pass between us. I should have flown to London when she lived there. I should have flown to NY to see her new place. I should have toasted her 21st birthday with her. Sure, she said I didn't need to do any of those things, but I should not have listened. I should have made those efforts anyway. As her mother, it was my place to "be there for her." Even though that expression is too-much-used, it bears a simple truth, I should have been there for her. I did the wrong thing by listening to the words and missing the message.

She's in the hardest part of life...the twenties. She will not know it is the hardest part until she's well past it. Right now she is under the impression it is the best part. She's free, self-supporting, independent. This is how a prisoner feels when his head pops out of the tunnel he's dug under the fence. He runs for the shelter of the forest, finds a ripe berry patch and a spring to drink from, hitches a ride to the next town. He gets hired by some kindly folks, and spends his first paycheck on a new pair of boots. He may worry from time to time that he'll get caught, but freedom is so tasty he is delirious.

When she hits 30 she will wonder where are her kids, where is her house, where is her 401K? In her 40's she'll have her kids and house and 401K, but wonder where is her life, where are her flat abs. In her 50's she'll get a new life and a new house and wonder, again, where are her kids, and if she spends the money on a tummy tuck will her 401K be enough to live on when she's in her 60's.

Or maybe she'll hitch a ride to the next town and get hired by some kindly folks. Come to think of it, maybe she is in the best part of life, because even though the 20's are a lot of work they are the most free time of life.

And as much as I may envy her freedom, maybe my job is not to be there for her, but to be here for her.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Sun. Oh God, I Love You

The sun is why Earth is here, why Earth is habitable, why we have air, warmth and light, food and water, day and night. Yes, night. Night is simply us in Earth's shady part. The sun is on the other side. Correction, WE are on the other side.

We humans wouldn't be here if the sun hadn't got here first. And if it goes, we'll have no choice but to go too. In fact, that is exactly what is happening right this minute. The sun is going. It is continually burning...out.

Since the sun is how we measure time and since other than to mark it we have zero control over time, and since the sun seems to be taking its time, going, I think we should show some gratitude while there still IS time, not for the sun's sake, but for our own--so we don't forget how vitally important it is to our very existence.

The sun doesn't need us to worship it, or give thanks to it, or pay homage (or dues) to it. If we curse it, it doesn't get offended. If we block it out of our daily lives it burns on despite us, never to smite us. In terms of life-giving deities, the sun is very low maintenance. The sun is the best "god" ever.

I totally get why the history of man has stories about sun worshippers. Really, I think they had it right. It was the rituals and human sacrifices they messed up on.

Our history also has Earth worshippers. I get that, too, but again, they go too far.

Spirit guides, angels, prophets, saints--we go too far.

The sun is the thing. It's the thing of it all.