We're in the middle of a pretty powerful thunderstorm now. Well, the thunder has moved off to the distance but it's still raining pretty hard. I had to bring a bunch of cacti inside.
Yesterday I spent some enjoyable time at the cat shelter when I donated Waldo's favorite scratching post and 3 bags of cat pill pockets. The volunteer there, the same one I worked with when adopting Luther/Waldo, walked with me from room to room to show me all their cats. The place was so overcrowded 8 years ago; now they only have about 25 cats.
I think she was hoping I might adopt another one. There were a few nice ones I liked, but I don't think I will be tempted. She also suggested maybe I could start coming to socialize the cats until I find a job, as they've lost some volunteers. I might consider it.
I did practically nothing today. I actually drove out to Aldi's and Walmart just to have something to do. Picked up a few things at each place.
Archive for June, 2017
We're in the middle of a pretty powerful thunderstorm now. Well, the thunder has moved off to the distance but it's still raining pretty hard. I had to bring a bunch of cacti inside.
Dad mentioned he planned to drive down to Jersey yesterday and invited me to come along, so I did. I don't especially look forward to the drive, but I will take the wheel to keep dad from doing so on some very heavily congested roads in heavy traffic.
We paid a visit to my half-brother. He was working from home because his wife, who was recently laid off, had a job interview to go to and someone needed to stay with their young daughter.
So we got to see everyone but their son, who was in daycare. We only stayed about a half hour as they had things to do.
Afterwards, we stopped at the bank and then Bendix Diner, a local landmark near Teterboro Airport which has been there for years and is your typical greasy spoon diner.
It struck me how ethnically diverse New Jersey is, especially compared to where I live in Connecticut. The woman who helped us at the bank was Egyptian, the guys at the gas station were Sikh Indian and the owner of the diner was probably eastern European.
My dad has mentioned several times when we crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge how proud it makes him feel to be an American. A new bridge is being built next to the existing one and it's very striking to see. There are a million cranes in the Hudson. I told dad that seeing how ethnically diverse Jersey is made me proud to be an American. It is, after all, how this country was built.
Dad learned that the Clintons live in tony Chappaqua, NY in northern Westchester, and had expressed curiosity to see where they lived. I figured the way back would be a good time to do so since we go right through that area.
I easily found the address online and warned dad we wouldn't see much because of a tall white fence/gate around the property, which is only 1.1 acres, smaller than mine! They live in a 5,000 square foot Dutch Colonial mostly hidden from view. It was built in the 1880s.
So we drove down the short dead-end street and as expected, we found about 6 black Secret Service vehicles, all with tinted windows, clustered at the end of the dead-end in front of the Clinton home. I couldn't tell if anyone was in the vehicles or elsewhere. I'd also read that the Clintons bought the house next door so Chelsea would have a place to stay with the kids when she came to visit. We could see that house, an unremarkable ranch which I'm sure is quite nice inside.
I didn't want to attract any Secret Service agents, so I didn't even stop as I slowly turned around in the cul-de-sac, but Dad still got a chuckle out of seeing it. Instead of getting back onto 684, we took back roads through the wealthy horse country of northern Westchester County, then crossed over into Fairfield County and on home.
We came back to my place and I sent dad home with a delicious slice of orange cake I got at the farmer's market the day before. So it was a good day with dad and it kept my mind off Waldo.
In other news...
Amazon customer service is always good. I was able to get a refund of several bags of cat pill pockets I no longer need, and they didn't require me to return the bags either, so I will donate them to a local animal shelter.
I am meeting the volunteer there this morning who helped me adopt Luther and Waldo 8 years ago. I had kept in touch with her all this time, sending her Christmas emails with their photos. I'm donating Waldo's favorite scratching post. She was happy to take it as it's a "deluxe" post that set me back about $60, but it's very sturdy and won't tip over. I suspect she is hoping I'll adopt another cat but I've already told her I don't want to. Still, it will be enjoyable to see all the kitties there. I just hope I'm not tempted.
I finally heard back from someone at the fire department sponsoring the fiddling contest that dad wanted to attend. They have ample handicap parking which shortens the walk to about 100 feet, which is on level ground, and they do plan to spray for ticks prior to the concert. They also have "gators," which he said is like a golf cart, so he said just ask at the front gate and drop my dad off there directly and then go the lot and park my car. So it all sounds doable, especially if we could get some help with the lawn chairs we'll want to bring. The only remaining concern is if it's a hot or humid day and there's no shade (forgot to ask him that) it could be uncomfortable and my dad doesn't use sunscreen.
Fawn "spotted" in my side yard this morning. The doe comes daily to eat the fallen fruit from the apple tree, and now she's brought her fawn.
Thanks, everyone, for all the condolences. I spent all day yesterday moping around. I forced myself to go and run some errands to try to regain a sense of normalcy. I kind of felt like I was just going through the motions.
I also took a walk at Fairfield Hills last night because it was such a beautiful summer day. It's where I used to go when my mother was still battling dementia, and I do find nature to be a comfort. It reminded me that while I am wholly absorbed in my loss, there is much in the world that is active and alive, buzzing, vibrant and healthy. The beat goes on.
I feel like there's a big hole in my life that Waldo used to fill. It sounds silly, but we used to be a threesome here, and now it's just me and Luther. I was very much aware of my cats' presence in my home. I might be busy doing other things, but I always knew they were there, somewhere, lounging in the sun room or pattering around in the kitchen, or wrestling each other in the family room. And periodically I would take a break from the computer, my job search or whatever I was doing to wander downstairs and see what they were up to, rub a chin or toss a toy.
So now Luther is the recipient of all my attention and I feel myself becoming anxious to know where he is and what he's doing all the time instead of taking him for granted. He must be aware of Waldo's absence, but I don't know that he misses his presence. When I brought the empty cat carrier home, I let Luther sniff it, and the towel inside, before I put it away.
The only other clue I had as to Luther's thought process, if you can call it that in a cat, is that when I fed Luther yesterday, he looked around for Waldo. Both cats did that if I happened to crack open a can of food with only one of them there. They were both concerned about getting to the food first, Luther especially, since Waldo was very food-oriented and would enthusiastically push his face toward the bowl whether Luther had begun eating or not. This was off-putting to Luther, who would then retreat and wait for Waldo to finish before going back to the dish. They were chums, but he preferred to eat his meals solo.
Luther is a very handsome cat, but truth be told, he played second fiddle to Waldo, who captured my heart with his affectionate nature. It was also incredibly rewarding to be able to "tame" an essentially feral cat.
Luther suffered from his time at the shelter in his own way. He was there for a much shorter time than Waldo (months vs years), but you can tell he didn't get much attention there becus he has always disliked getting touched much. It often drives me nuts when he slinks away from under my hand, not wanting to be touched. He is always in good spirits and happily accompanies me from room to room or bounds up on a table if I am looking at something there. To Luther, life inside this house is a grand adventure. If I go in the basement or to the attic, he often races ahead of me, reaching the destination before I do.
He wants to be "involved." He will seek out affection, sometimes jumping on my lap, and only then will he accept being pet.
He never gave any indication that Waldo getting to the food first bothered him. (I would later feed them in separate bowls but even then Luther preferred to wait til Waldo was done.)
When they were both in the kitchen and I was preparing their food, Waldo would get so excited he would sometimes circle the small kitchen island, meowing in excitement, and for some reason this would irritate Luther, who would swat at Waldo as if to say, "Cut it out, bro."
So when I cracked open a can of food yesterday, I thought I caught Luther looking up and into another room, as if expecting to see Waldo come running.
Things are quiet here. This morning, Waldo did not wake me up in the morning, demanding breakfast. I actually slept til 7:30, which is unusual. After spending the night downstairs, where it's cooler, Luther had jumped up on the bed in the early morning, but he was content to lay there quietly while I slept.
I heard back from the shelter volunteer who helped me adopt both Waldo and Luther 8 years ago. Waldo had always been one of her all-time favorite cats there, so I would send her Christmas emails with photos and updates on both. She thanked me for letting her know, and she said he couldn't have had a better home. She had come here to do a house check when I adopted, at the time when I was getting the sun room done, putting built-in benches there just for the cats!
Shortly before Waldo got sick, I had renewed both of his meds for the maximum quantity, 90 days. One prescription was from the old vet I no longer plan to use; I had simply renewed the med as I thought it easier to do since the new vet would not give me the same med without bloodwork and an exam. I realized there was a seal on the bottle and I decided to see if I could return the bottle. They said yes, so I drove down there yesterday and was able to get a $55 refund.
The other med from the new vet was not sealed and cost half the price of the first one, so instead of asking for a refund I asked if I could return it so they could use with either animal rescue groups they work with or low-income patients. They said yes, thank you, they do that all the time. So it made me feel a little better knowing Waldo's leftover meds would help others who maybe couldn't afford them.
I got a really nice phone call from my cousin last night. Strangely, I had been wanting to talk to him about losing Waldo. I say strangely because at first blush we wouldn't seem to have a lot in common and you might not think him particularly sympathetic.
He's an avid gun collector, including semi-automatic things, Uzis and the like, something wholly anathema to my entire community post 12/14. And also to me, but I haven't really expressed my opinion on that.
But just having the family connection, of knowing he is my late grandmother's favorite sister's son, somehow creates this instant bond, a sense of loyalty and fondness for someone I don't remember ever meeting. He said he met both me and my sister when we were very little and visiting my grandparents, and in fact my grandmother scolded him for teasing my sister when my cousin was about 14.
But anyway, he told me how much he enjoyed his little visit here and how he wished we had all reunited years earlier. I've had the same feeling, because there is so much more we all could have done. It makes me feel a little wistful. But later is better than never. He also said he wished we lived closer together.
He lost his wife years back. She was addicted to drugs and alcohol. He was very successful in his work, but his home life for many years was hellish. He has two grown daughters. He said he has a decent relationship with them but was envious of the relationship my dad and I have, that the caliber of the relationship he has with his daughters is nothing compared to what dad and I have. He also said that I have all the qualities that he is lacking, that I am kind and tactful, organized and thoughtful. It is a curious thing to see yourself through others' eyes.
And I feel very fortunate to have a good relationship with dad. From age of 6 on, I saw my dad (divorced from mom) very little, and as a teenager I drifted apart from him, knowing he was busy raising his second family. There was well over a decade when I had no contact with him at all. So yes, dad is precious to me and in these past few years since he's been living near me I have gotten to know him so much better.
While J. was visiting, my dad has asked me if I would mind if he invited my sister to our final dinner out with J. I said no, not at all. Neither of us were sure she would want to come because if there's one thing I know about my sister, she won't do anything that makes her the littlest bit uncomfortable. She won't do things purely to please others; there has to be something in it for her.
It occurred to me after my dad asked me that this dinner could be an opportunity for me and my sister to come closer to a reconciliation without necessarily having to deal with each other one to one. We really haven't had anything to do with each other since my mother's death in December 2015. Once or twice my father gave me a dozen eggs, compliments of my sister's chickens, and there was one time my sister and I politely said hello to each other when I was picking my father up for dinner.
As it turned out, my sister declined dad's invitation. I know he was disappointed because he wanted her to meet J., knowing it might even be the last opportunity to do so. Everyone is getting older. He told me he wanted to say something but decided he'd better not. Dad is always very careful not to tell any of his kids what to do; I think he has a fear that doing so could alienate them. I've told him I don't think that would happen and that in fact I would welcome his opinions and thoughts whenever. He has good relationships with 3 of his 4 kids. My younger half-brother doesn't seem to have much to do with him and I'm not sure why. My dad is not the type to force himself on people if he feels he's not wanted, so that's the way things have been for a while.
Relationships are complicated.
Today, and this week in fact, I have very little planned. I keep a daily calendar listing things to do,and it's very light. Today I'll go to the farmer's market for the first time this year, and also to the dump. When you recycle organics (kitchen waste), you want to get rid of it quickly before it attracts fruit flies. I'll also walk, and maybe do all 3 in the same trip.
I had to have Waldo euthanized this morning. His kidneys were failing.
I thought after losing my mom in 2015 that anything else would be easy, but of course that's not really true. The vet did a good job, remained calm yet compassionate, and the whole procedure went smoothly. I very much appreciate that since I can't say the same for the prior 3 times I've been through this.
I am very sad and miss my baby. He was the most affectionate cat I've ever had, and the only one who would repeatedly head butt me in affection, or lay down on my pillow wrapped around my head, or climb onto my shoulder in a recliner chair, just to be close. He truly was a love bug, and while he learned the joys of chasing a string or even a live mouse every now and then, he much preferred to snuggle up and be petted.
I got him when we were both in middle age. He was 8, only knew the shelter and was afraid of people. For months he lived under a small cabinet in my office and I would bring his food up to him and lay on the floor while I talked to him. He would only come out late at night, when all was still. It took a full year for him to come around and let me touch him. When I first tried to play with him, he was frightened of the string over his head and ran off. He was basically afraid of his own shadow.
But he came a long way since then. Incredulously, I noticed at one point he no longer was bothered by thunder and lightening. Even my noisy blender didn't faze him. Still, he would hide when people came to the house. My mother saw something gray once as he raced from the room. Interestingly, he came out a few times when my father was here, but no one else ever saw him in 8 years' time.
He bonded with Luther and they often groomed each other and were always in each other's company. He would chirp with pleasure as I gave him a massage, and he especially loved that little spot on the lower back, just above the tail. He lived to be petted and rubbed, as if making up for lost time.
The hairbrush, catnip and a piece of Alaskan salmon every now and then were special treats.
I didn't think I'd have him this long as none of my prior 3 cats lived to be 16.
He had a good life, and I miss him dearly.
There's not a whole lot I can do for Waldo right now. I am waiting until tomorrow when I hope to get him in to see the vet ASAP. Waldo has continued to refuse all food, including things he usually loves, like tuna and those little Fancy Feast packets of anchovies and other delectables.
He is very lethargic, sleeping all day with frequent trips to the kitchen to drink water. Lots of water. Which means either diabetes (which could be reversible once I taper him off the prednisolone he's been on for his asthma) or kidney failure, which is not. The alternative treatment for his asthma would be a steroid or other drug inhaler, which I didn't think WaLdo would tolerate on a twice daily basis.
Although these things don't really explain why he's not eating. He was pretty stuffed up (congestion) Saturday morning, but it's not so noticeable now and the pollen count is low today/tomorrow. He has refused food any number of times before but until now I could coax him to eat with tempting little meals.
I am mostly worried about him not getting his 2 meds becus he is not eating. This morning I got up at 2:45 a.m. (or was it 3:45 am) and decided to try to pill him a half dose of the prednisolone because there can be serious repercussions if you don't taper off this steroid over a period of weeks. I succeeded in getting that down his throat, but he would not let me pill him the 2nd med he's on for his hyperthyroidism. The more time goes by, issues with that could arise.
I know they'll do bloodwork but doesn't that take days to get the results? He needs to eat.
I have been mentally preparing myself to euthanize him tomorrow. I will see what the problem is first and then make a decision. I am not one to spend untold dollars to keep an animal going til the bitter end. I think that's kind of selfish. It's going to be hard, no matter what. He's been a good cat, the most affectionate I've ever had, and he's lived longer than I expected, since I got him from the shelter when he was 8. He's been with me another 8 years.
I've stayed pretty close to home today. Felt terribly tired all morning. The woman did stop by at 9 and picked up the headboard I was selling. I did some pruning of shrubs in the afternoon and puttered with my outdoor potted plants, but otherwise, felt distracted and unable to do much other than call my cousin, who has numerous dogs and cats, to talk to her about what's going on.
Getting Waldo to the vet tomorrow is my only priority. Scooping him up in time to make an appointment can be tough, since I never know where exactly he'll be and I don't want to grab him so early that he has to sit, terrified, in his carrier for an hour. I will have to grab him when he's coming or going to his water dish, because his main resting places would be hard for me to reach: behind an easel and under a twin bed in the family room. I don't think he has any energy; that may work in my favor.
I got my 1st electric bill since using the central air. I was kind of pleasantly surprised as it was up maybe $10, at $81. Granted, I didn't use it daily, only when the humidity was oppressive, like today. For a total of about 5 days.
My cousin has returned to PA. Gosh, what a talker. I have grown fond of him, and that won't change (I kind of miss him already), but I find it very tiring to spend extended time with someone who talks nonstop.
So we ate all our lunches and dinners out except for one lunch I had at my house. My dad and he ate breakfast each day at the diner across from his motel.
I have lots of leftovers now. Otherwise, all we did besides eating out and the river cruise was after lunch yesterday I took him and dad to get an ice cream cone at the farm ice cream stand. They even have diabetic ice cream.
After that, I did the grand tour of my home town; we stopped in at the old town hall so I could show him the beautiful painted wall murals of different spots and historic buildings and homes around town, plus the theater, which is pretty unusual.
We also made stops at Fairfield Hills, the organic farm, the new school built after the shootings, historic Main Street, Ram Pasture and The Pleasance and our two lake boat ramps, the Victory Garden, the solar panels all over town, and where I go hiking, the new fire station, the new volunteer ambulance building. I guess I could have been a realtor.
He had never seen CT before so he came away with a favorable view and said he'd have to drive all over his county to show me comparable things.
Earlier this week, just in time for the cousin's visit, I got a call that my bench cushion was ready.
It's an old, out of print Waverly pattern. It looks great and I guess she over-calculated how much fabric I'd need because there was a full yard left over...enough to cover the 2 seat pads on 2 very old chairs of my mother's. I did the seat pads myself and they came out fine. I used a staple gun and glue, as they had been done before, but I removed some small nails in the chair that seemed like they would puncture the new fabric when I put the seat back down on it; so I hope the seat pads will stay in place if people sit on them.
I STILL have enough left over fabric to make a pillow, although I don't sew, don't have a machine and I don't want to pay for a pillow. Anyone have any easy pillow construction methods where I can sew my hand?
I have someone coming over tomorrow a.m. to hopefully buy a twin wood headboard. I'm only asking $20 after having no takers for a long time. I don't like the dark wood but it could be painted and I think new it would be about $50.
Got paid $105 from a freelance client.
I'm a little worried about Waldo. He hasn't eaten all day, and as a result, he also hasn't had his morning 2 meds. This kind of thing has happened before, and then he comes around and eats, but it usually doesn't last this long. He was sounding stuffed up/congested, so if he can't smell his food he won't eat. I already have him on meds for the allergies and cant' increase the dose. I had the windows closed with AC on and AC brings in air from outside. But it rained this a.m. which should have brought the polllen count down.
I tried fishy smelling food. Not much else I can do. He shouldn't be off his meds and he's pretty old.
We had a picture-perfect day for our river cruise. Sunny and warm but dry, not muggy.
It was pretty relaxing and interesting to listen to our captain and mate talk about the river, historical points of interest, the comeback of the ospreys and eagles and so. There are hundreds of osprey nesting on the river, the Gillette Castle, the unusual truss bridge that opens perpendicularly for boats to pass (not upright). One of the osprey nests is on a pillar of that bridge that opens out across the river whenever a tall ship goes under. The birds don't seem to mind.
I brought water and some grapes to snack on. It was fun to look at the sonar results on a large TV screen showing little markings where all the fish were. There were a lot of fish.
Another cruise boat...ours was much smaller with just one level but very comfortable.
This is the East Haddam Bridge as it's swinging open to allow a tall ship to pass. The white building at right is a historic opera house which was saved from the wrecking ball and continues to host theater shows, many of which began there and made it big on Broadway, including Annie.
Here's a closer view of the backside of the opera house.
We hit a lot of traffic coming back and had a late lunch at one of the better restaurants in my dad's area.
I'm so pooped.
My black swallowtail caterpillars are coming along nicely, having grown from the first instar (all black with a single stripe in the middle) into a larger version of themselves with the more colorful striped variations you see here. They will get larger yet. I have two separate pots protected from parasitic wasps with tomato hoops covered with paint strainer netting: 1 with 4 caterpillars and 1 with 8 caterpilllars.
My cousin arrived yesterday and we met for dinner last night at a local diner with dad.
I felt bad because while he didn't run into any major snafus on the trip out here (4.5 hrs), he followed his GPS and took I95 north, right through NYC, which I would have avoided at all costs due to traffic.
I have gone online and printed out directions for a different way home to Harrisburg area via the Tappan Zee, not the GW Bridge.
This morning is our trip for the Connecticut River cruise, about an hour's drive from here. I made a 7 am wake-up call to him this a.m. as he asked, but I got his recorded message; hopefully he was just in the shower.
I am already feeling a little fatigued, perhaps mentally more than anything, as I feel responsible for the welfare and comfort of both my father (84) and my cousin (70).
Both have major vision problems (my cousin has had 11 eye surgeries) and trouble walking, getting about, and even just getting in and out of my car, as Hondas sit a little low to the ground. I am doing all the driving and basically orchestrating events during my cousin's visit.
He is staying at a local motel because dad doesn't have much room at his apartment above my sister's barn, and I would not be able to medicate Waldo (2x daily) if someone were staying here. Waldo would just not come out from hiding til he left.
Friday they will be over for a vegan lunch (a sweet potato, string bean and black bean salad with cilantro dressing and a wheat berry salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, scallions and chopped apple) and after that I figured we'd hit the local farm ice cream stand (they have diabetic flavors) and then a brief driving tour of my town.
My dad was here the other day to show me some paperwork he got from his lawyer. Poor dad has had a long running problem with his tenant, who has paid every month's rent late for over a year, and she has not vacated the premises by end of April as was dictated by an earlier court order.
This has all resulted from my dad failing to do a background check on this woman before he rented to her. So he had no idea she's done this before and never could afford to rent his old house on the shore in the first place. He's been trying to evict for about 6 months now and recently changed attorneys because he didn't feel the first one was paying attention. I'm not sure I would have done that since now the new attorney is not familiar with the history of this case.
The problem is my dad just makes his own decisions unilaterally and I only hear of what's happened after the fact, when it's harder to fix things or possibly steer him in a different direction.
He has trouble reading things now and the paperwork he brought over I read out loud to him so he knew what he was signing! He had the stamp on the envelop and was ready to mail it. As it turned out, the papers incorrectly stated the tenant was $8,000 behind in rent; dad said she has only not paid for May and June rent to date. So I had to get on the phone with the attorney's assistant and explain that; she sent revised paperwork over to me via email, I had dad sign it last night when I picked him up for dinner, and then I emailed it back to the attorney last night when I got home. This greatly expedited things since without me, my dad would be mailing stuff to the attorney and vice versa.
Now dad wants to go to a "Pickin' and Fiddlin'" concert coming up in July in my area. It's an annual fiddling competition and we both like that kind of music. I had considered taking him but had decided it might not be a good idea since it gets a large crowd and involved a bit of walking to get to in a park on an uneven surface. Dad walks with a cane and is not steady on his feet. Someone brushing up against him could knock him off balance. Plus if it's hot and sunny it would not be pleasant since it's an outdoor event.
So I had decided against it without mentioning it to him but he saw it in the paper and said he wants to go. We'd need to bring lawn chairs with us; we only have one that folds. Dad can't carry one with a cane. Ugh. I tried to invite a friend to join us (and help carry stuff) but they can't come.
Trials and tribulations.