Happy New Year!
It’s hard to believe how sometimes, time can pass by as slow as molasses, and at other times, streak by like lightning. It’s been a little over two months since I last wrote, and yet it seems like it has been so much longer. Life, and the holidays have kept me busy, and maybe that’s been a good thing. With all of the losses that I endured in October, it was probably a good thing that I was kept busy.
Having known depression before ER4YT, I recognized the oncoming signs in early November. I wanted to just curl up on the couch, and block everything out, so that I could grieve. But I also knew that if I did, it would be a fast spiral down into depression. When I last had a bout of depression pre-ER4YT, I did curl up on the couch, and shut out the world. I didn’t care to answer the phone, I didn’t answer the door when friends came over to visit. I didn’t even care about getting up, and eating. Even taking a shower required a great deal of effort, just to get there. All I did was crash on the couch under a blanket, and either sleep, or mindlessly watch tv. It’s not a pretty place, and not one that I care to revisit again.
At one point in November, I did want to lay down on the couch, and immediately recognized my trigger point. I knew that if I did, it wasn’t going to go well. I turned away from the couch, and found a number of things to do. It didn’t matter what I did, as long as I was moving. In a short time, the feeling passed, and I was able to process my grief in a better way. Had I not had a good support system in place, consisting of my Better Half, and her kids, or had been in a mental fog due to the large consumption of avoids like in the past, it probably would have been a fast crash.
The house has been quite empty, without the pitter-patter of paws by Shorty and Nixie. Beser could sometimes be seen looking around the house for them, which brought memories of them to the forefront of my mind. In time, she has realized that she is at the top of the kitty hierarchy, and is sucking up attention for all it’s worth. She has now taken on some of their habits, such as demanding to be let in the bathroom after I’ve taken a shower, taking over my lap, and laying across the computer keyboard shelf. The cutest one that is all hers, is that she will lay on my chest and put a paw on each of my shoulders, and stay that way for awhile, kneading her paws, while looking at me. With such sharp claws, it becomes painful after awhile, but I let her be for as long as I can. Even though she is a constant reminder of Shorty, Nixie, and Miss Piggy, she’s also the one that has been a great help in getting me through the recent upheaval.
The last year was like a roller coaster. The months preceding October were like that long slow climb at the start of a roller coaster ride. Clickity-clack, clickity-clack, as you were pulled to the very top of the first hill. The month of October was that first steep drop. Short, sudden, and took your breath away. Now that the first drop is passed, life has leveled off, and things have been a bit better.
In the span of a week around Christmas, I saw three owls, including a gorgeous Snowy Owl that spent about 20 minutes outside my Better Half’s house on Christmas Day. Even with all of the hours I spend on the road during the night, I have never seen so many owls in such a short span of time. I recognized it as a sign of sorts, even if I wasn’t quite sure what it meant at the time. Life has started to return to a certain level of normalcy. My energy levels are back up, my twisted sense of humor has returned with a vengeance, my penchant for creating mischief is up, and my ability for quick, and witty comebacks has resurfaced. With those traits back in action, I know that life is on the upswing.
As Florence Scovel-Shinn put it, “It’s always darkest before the dawn. But the dawn always comes. Trust in the dawn”. October was that darkest moment. The sun is now rising, and I am going to bask in the warmth that the sun brings. It’s time to soak up its energy, and to spread and grow in every way during 2008. Well, except for a larger waistline. *chuckle* ER4YT helped me to lose that. We can skip working on that one this year. : )
May the new year be the beginning of a year filled with great health, happiness, and harmony.
In my last entry, I described how I must have missed the road sign that said, “Life Changing Detour Ahead”, when I had to say goodbye to Shorty. Apparently, I also missed the signs that said, “Rough Road Ahead”, and “Bridge Out”. The past 30 days have been the rollercoaster from hell, and I will never look at the month of October in the same way again.
Adjusting to the void left by Shorty’s passing was tough enough as it was. Little did I know at the time that it was merely the beginning of what would be a very painful month.
A week after Shorty’s passing, it was time to mourn the passing of the pet hamster that belonged to my Better Half’s kids. She was a cute little thing, and her and I would sometimes “chat” with each other. And every time that I would, their Chocolate Lab would get insanely jealous.
Two in two weeks. I figured that that would be enough. However, I would soon find out that their passing was merely the calm before the storm. Nothing could prepare me for the 24 hour whirlwind that was fast approaching.
The Friday before last, I received news that my Brother-In-Law had passed away some time the night before. As if that wasn’t enough, I came home from work that Saturday night, only to find that Nixie no longer had any control over her hips. Ah yes, nothing like feeling the weight of the world crushing in upon you. In spite of Nixie’s obvious disability, she tried not to let it slow her down. She was still whipping herself around the house, pulling herself with her front legs. A small blessing, having wood, and tile floors. Between the two events, the sledgehammer had struck.
I called work, and told them to have someone cover for me on Sunday. I slept with Nixie on the couch that night, and whenever she would need to get something to eat, or use the litter box, I would help her to where she needed to be. Her spirit was still strong, but the body would no longer cooperate. Sunday was a very quiet day at the house, so that she could enjoy her last hours resting, and in peace and quiet. I would jump at every sound, and go to make sure that she was still comfortable.
Monday morning came, and for one last time, she wanted up on my bed. Lifting her up next to me, she curled up on the bed, and we enjoyed our last hour together. As soon as the vet’s opened at 8, I made the phone call, and arranged to take her in. Just like Shorty, Nixie was a trooper to the very end, still purring away until her last moments.
Having done what I needed to do with a heavy heart, it was time to turn my attention to my Brother-In-Law. In most families, when they lose a family member, the family pulls together. In my family, this was not possible. My sister, his “wife”, had burned too many bridges between us siblings. We each had our various reasons for not wanting to be around her, as well as for how poorly she had treated our BIL, but also how her actions impacted our nephew, and the relationship with his father. My sister had gone to school, and after school was completed, decided to stay down south, keeping my nephew with her. Our BIL remained here to work on the farm. Their marriage has pretty much been in name only these past few years. Our BIL had been so beaten down by this time, that he didn’t have the energy to fight, and he was afraid that he would see his son even less than he already did, if he had.
I have not seen, or spoken to my sister in seven years, and I certainly had no desire to start now. But it was also important for me to go to the funeral, to pay my last respects to my BIL, and to honor him for his service to our country. My other sister and brother would not go to the funeral because of our sister’s presence, and that of several others. I chose to go in spite of them.
On the day of the funeral, my Better Half accompanied me. In part to support me, and also to help keep me out of jail. I knew that if I opened my mouth, all hell was going to break loose, and I would probably be seeing the inside of a jail cell for the first time. The only thing that was keeping me restrained was my respect for my BIL. Before we even arrived at the cemetery, my stomach was already twisting into a knot. It took a bit, but I managed to push that feeling away.
For those that know me, I’m a pretty laid back guy, with a twisted sense of humor, and a soft side for critters. That guy was not present on this day. I don’t think that I have ever felt so much tension in my body ever before. Especially after seeing my sister play up being the grieving widow for all it was worth, and shedding crocodile tears. Ever been so angry that you experienced tunnel vision? I was there. The folks that didn’t really know her may have bought her performance, but there were those of us there that knew the real her. The fact that she received the flag for him brought me very close to the edge, knowing that it was all an act, and that she wasn’t worthy of receiving such an honor. If anything, the flag should have gone to his mother, or my nephew. It would have meant far more to either of them. When the bugler started playing Taps, I started shaking, and didn’t stop until the soldier was done. I don’t know why I shook so badly as it was played, but it wasn’t something that I could control.
As soon as the service was over, I needed to get the hell out of there. My teeth were clenched, and my blood pressure had skyrocketed. I could tell just by the feel. As much as I wanted to comfort my nephew, there was no way that I could go near him with my sister there. I’ve done well to surround myself with people that are full of positive energy, and being around my sister feels like being sucked into the black hole of negativity. Has for years, and another reason why my siblings and I choose not to associate with her.
Thanks to my Better Half, I made it out of there quietly, respectfully, and handcuff-free. I came to pay my last respects to a man who was decent, generous, a hard worker, and a good father, all in spite of how my sister treated him. A man who was, is, and will always be considered far more a member of the family than one of our own blood.
Rest In Peace, my good man. You have seen the horrors of war, and carried those memories with you for some 35 years. You have fought those personal demons, as well as those created at the hands of my sister. You may have considered yourself just a “dumb ol’ farmer”, but you were, and are, a far greater man than many could ever hope to be. May you watch over your son as he finds his way in life, and help to guide him in making the right choices as he grows older. Until we meet again on the other side.
As we all travel down our own personal highways of life, road signs often present themselves to us, guiding us in the direction that we need to be going in, should we decide to heed their advice. Somehow, I missed the sign that said, “Life Changing Detour Ahead”. Either that, or someone forgot to put the sign out. Reflecting back over the last few weeks, I saw the sign. I just didn’t expect to come upon the detour quite so quickly. I had planned on making an entry last week, but this certainly isn’t what I had in mind.
With great sadness, I had to make the decision to have one of my Clan O’Kitties put down on Thursday. Within hours, my week went from going well, to truly heart wrenching. I knew that the time was coming for Shorty, by certain behaviors that I have seen all of my animals exhibit, shortly before their health started to deteriorate. However, she was still shaking the house with her earth moving purring, and I thought that she still had time on her side. I was wrong.
Shorty was my Maine Coon cat, a black, brown, and white beauty, with big green eyes that would just suck you right in. Give her five minutes, and you’d be wrapped around her paw. At 16 ½ years of age, she still acted like a feline that was many years younger. And with thirteen pounds packed on to her frame, she made a presence that you could not long ignore. From hearing, and feeling her trot down the hallway before seeing her, or having her crush in my chest as she went to lay on it for some one on one time, you couldn't help but notice her.
Shorty came to me in early 2003, along with her mother, Miss Piggy, who passed away in January 2006. A friend of a friend was going through a divorce, and needed to find a home for her kitties. Beser was my only cat, and I thought it might be nice for her to have some company. What I hadn’t been told beforehand, was that of the four kitties in need of a home, one was a mother/daughter pair, and the other was a mother/son pair. As they were all older cats, there was no way that I could bring myself to split up a family. Yeah, I’m like a Charms Blow Pop. A hard outer shell, with a soft, chewy center. After taking on Nixie at the age of 16 in 2004, I became known as the ryan Cheney Home for Geriatric Kitties. *chuckle*
To some people, animals are just animals. To others, they are like members of the family. For people like myself, they are something far more. On more than one occasion, my Better Half has commented on how much she enjoys watching me interact with the kitties. After much observation and interaction, the kitties and I have developed a definite connection, and bond. Which made it all the more painful, when I had to make the decision to put her down.
Treatment was not an option. As I spent time with her in the hours before taking her to the vets for her appointment, I found that she was neither eating, or drinking. To attempt treatment would have only prolonged her suffering. Remarkably, after a series of poking and prodding, and up until a few moment before the Doctor came in to do what she had to do, Shorty was still purring away. But she knew it was her time. And she accepted her fate gracefully, not even so much as a flinch when the Doctor inserted the needle.
The days since her passing have not been easy. Even though I try to focus on other things, my mind always finds its way back to Shorty. Memories of the past come flooding through, and thoughts of what will no longer be. No more of her meeting me at the door, after coming home from a 12 hour work day. No more of her laying sideways across my stomach, with her big paws stretched out. No longer will she be party to cornering me on the couch along with Nixie and Beser. Shorty would secure the left flank, Nixie, the lap, and Beser would commandeer the right arm of the couch. Pinned in, I could do nothing but offer attention, and affection. I will no longer need to clean out the soap dish after taking a shower, just to watch her stand on her hind legs in the bathtub, with her front paws on the edge of the tub, and lick the water out of the empty soap dish. Yes, she had me trained well. It was the last thing I did, before shutting the shower off. Never again will I see her sitting on the toilet seat, and watching me as I get dressed for the day. Nor will I have one of her big paws pat my face, saying, “Pay attention to me!”, a habit that she picked up from Nixie.
They say that time heals all wounds. This one’s gonna take awhile. All of my critters have meant a great deal to me, but there was just something different about Shorty. You could tell just by looking into those big, green eyes. She will be missed deeply. But life goes on, and so must I. I have Beser and Nixie to tend to. At 19 ½, Nixie is in her golden years, and I have to make the most of the time that we have left with each other.
Rest in peace, Shorty. May you have felt as much, if not more love, as I feel blessed to have had you as a part of my life. Until we meet in my dreams, or on the other side.
Yep, you read the title right. Even though the Clan O’Kitties are indoor cats, I somehow managed to have my home infested by fleas. My first guess is that a few fleas hitchhiked on me inside after doing yard work one day.
The battle of attrition has been going on for about the last month, but it looks like I’m finally making progress. I’m beginning to see fewer and fewer fleas around, and the kitties seem to be more relaxed.
As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. So I’ve decided to create some of my own cheap entertainment, while at the same time whittling down the number of fleas around the house. All you need is a bowl with water and peppermint oil in it (10/1 mix works well, have to keep it light so it won't hurt the kitties), a good pair of tweezers, and a pair of shorts while wearing knee high white socks. It’s also good to have a spray bottle with the water and peppermint oil mixture in it as well.
Simply walk around the house wearing the white socks, and wait. They’re bound to jump on you while passing by. Once you have a few, start picking them with the tweezers, and dunking them in the bowl. Creates a fun diversion while you’re watching television, and waiting for the commercials to be over. *chuckle*
However, sometimes, you simply get to many that hop on for a ride at one time. This is where the spray bottle comes in. Just liberally spray your socks, and wait. They’ll be dead in quick order. Use the tweezers to clean your ‘canvas’, and start in on round two.
Another aid in curbing flea infestations is a plate filled with water and dishwashing liquid. The dishwashing liquid breaks the surface tension of the water, and they drown. Put them under a night light, and they will flock to the plate. The other day, my workout partner was over, and noticed the plates on the floor. His first question was, “What are you doing, hydrating them?” To which I replied, “Well, it was awfully hot last week, and I was trying to be nice”. LOL
The Clan O’Kitties, against their will, received the necessary flea bath. With dogs, they might not like it, but they’ll stand there and take it. Not so with cats. They will fight you every step of the way. A little safety tip, wear boots in the bathtub. Soaked boots are a far cheaper price to pay, than shredded feet. We all came out unscathed, even if all of our prides were hurt. *chuckle* We all came out soaked, but we all smelled so minty fresh!
Another thing that works well is to dip a flea comb in the peppermint oil/water mixture, and then run it through the cat’s fur. When you pull the comb out, and see the fleas on the comb, dunk into the bowl, wipe it off, and make another pass through the cats fur. Beser is my most ornery one, but even she’s taken a liking to my running the flea comb through her. She even headbutts the thing. Not sure if it’s because she knows that I’m trying to help her, or because she’s simply starting to mellow out in her old age. Either way, her cooperation is greatly appreciated. There is nothing more frustrating than chasing a cat around the house, while you’re trying to help them.
Hopefully, this battle will be over soon, and life will once again return to some semblance of normalcy. I don’t think that this household could ever be considered normal, but hey, at least we have something to strive for, right? *chuckle*
May all that is yours by Divine right manifest quickly, completely, under Grace, in a perfect way.
The one constant in time, is change. And with change should come progress. However, sometimes progress is not progress, but a step backward.
The other week, I had a haircut scheduled with my cousin. It’s a good time to catch up on family happenings, and I get a free haircut out of the deal. And since I was up in the area, I stopped by one of the city parks during my travels.
Now this wasn’t just any city park. This was a park where my Father had been a groundskeeper for some 20 years. Many a summer during my youth was spent helping him at the park. While other kids were enjoying their summer vacations by sleeping in, I was up at 6 a.m., and we were at the park by 7 a.m. There was trash to be picked up, pools to be cleaned, baseball fields to be mowed, and many other tasks to the day. Even when I was a teenager, and working, I would go work with him in the morning, and he would drop me off at my grandmother’s at lunchtime, so I could go to my job at the grocery store in the afternoon.
The park that I visited the other week was nothing like the park I remember. Where once the park had character, it now seemed cold, impersonal. White fence posts that once surrounded the parking lot were now replaced with a cold steel barrier of highway guardrails. The canopy of trees that once surrounded the pool, offering shelter from the hot day sun were now gone. Paths that were once worn down by the passage of many feet, large and small, were now grown in with grass. Two of the baseball fields, once having grass in their infields, were now nothing but a diamond of sand and stone. Character had been replaced by ease of maintenance. I could only shake my head in sadness, knowing what once was, and how much had been lost.
One of my Father’s best known skills was his ability to prep a baseball field. He was so well respected in this regard, that folks from other towns would ask him to come prep their ballfields for games. He would, and I would tag along to help when I could.
Looking at the large ballfield before me that had been prepped, I shook my head in much the same way that my Father would have, if he were looking at it with me. There was no pride in its prepping, no care. To whoever prepped it, it was just a job. To my Father and I, it was an art. The baselines weren’t well raked, with solid compacted earth around its edges, grass was growing into the baselines, the batter’s boxes hadn’t been well done. A part of me wished I had had the necessary tools in front of me. Twenty years later, and I still remember how to do a far better job than the one that lay before me. Part of the experience of playing baseball was the field itself. The youth who played on that diamond were being denied the full experience that is baseball.
But alas, time marches on, and things change. Unfortunately, progress is not always pretty.
Speaking of days gone by, it was time to say goodbye to an old friend the other week. After 10 years, and 187,000 miles, it was time for my car to get a rest. She had served me well, never once breaking down during my long commutes. For a commute that involves driving late at night, and at odd hours, with little civilization along much of my 123 mile trip, her dependability was comforting. Beyond a radiator, and a head gasket that was caught even before she had a chance to overheat or do damage, she never required any major maintenance, just the usual brakes, tires, belts, and hoses. And even with her age and wear, I was still getting 36-39 miles per gallon when I retired her last week. I can only hope that my ‘new’ used car can provide me with the same dependability and comfort that my Cavalier did. Time and mileage will tell.
May you all have a wonderful, safe, and happy 4th of July! I’ve been blessed with actually having it off from work this year, and I’m going to do my best to enjoy it, avoids and all! : )