Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Losing Pippen...one heartbeat at a time

There are times when you feel like you’re spinning out of control.
It's as if some Wizard of Oz twister has sucked you up into the vortex and you have no choice but to go with it.
That's how I'm feeling now.

Yesterday the emergency vet clinic delivered the devastating news – my cat, Pippen, is filled with cancer, and there is nothing that can be done. This same diagnosis claimed the life of her brother just 4 months ago.

In a daze, I brought my dear girl home last night so she can spend whatever time she has left with me and her two sisters.

Pippen was the first kitten my dog, Jake, found in our yard back in 1998. He immediately adopted her, along with her brother, Dickens, and her other sisters. While Jake watched over his feline brood like a good nanny, it was Pippen who held a special place in his heart. I always wondered if it was because she was the only striped cat, and perhaps she stood out among her mostly black siblings.

With Jake and Dickens gone now, the only comfort I can find is knowing that when Pippen leaves this earthly life she will be welcomed by her four-legged angel siblings with very enthusiastic woofs and purrs, nose nuzzles and head butts.

Our home already feels so empty without Dickens. The thought of losing Pippen, with her salty, “take no prisoners” personality, leaves me shaking. I fear our family "stew" might be awfully bland without her.

Somehow Molly, Star and I will have to continue on without Pippen. I pray that the way to do that will be revealed to me soon, because right now the road ahead looks awfully dark and filled with tears.


Friday, November 19, 2010

A warm house on a cold day

Welcome to Sammy’s outdoor chalet.

Sammy showed up in my yard over 7 years ago, when he was just a few months old. I fell in love with the little black cat, and although I’ve never been able to get near him he’s just as much a part of my furry family as my indoor critters.
Sammy comes by several times a day for food. Due to the raccoons and coyotes in the area Sammy won’t stay in my yard. I have no idea where he goes at night, or how he’s survived the wet, cold winters here in Oregon, but I'm thinking he has a very devoted guardian angel!
This week I finally figured out how to safely run an infra-red heat lamp out to the house on my deck, so Sammy could have a little heat to go with his meals.
And here I thought these lamps were just for lizards!

When I see Sammy outside waiting I just click the remote and VOILA…Sammy has instant heat! This may seem really simple to all you lucky folks who were born with the “electrician” gene, but to this former New Yorker it feels like I just rewired the Empire State Building!
One day I hope I’ll be able to hold Sammy in my arms, and tell him how much he means to me. But for now, Sammy has a warm place to stay…even if it’s only for a few minutes.
And that makes me happy.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Losing a beloved critter - all those little reminders

“You have one saved message,” the telephone blurted out yesterday.

The message was from July 6th. Perhaps I shouldn’t have listened to it, but I couldn’t help myself. It was from the veterinarian, telling me to stop the thyroid medication my cat, Dickens, had just started, in case that was why he was so sick.

I remembered that call. I was still hopeful the day I got that message. I didn’t know the thyroid meds had sent my beloved boy into a downward spiral, revealing the cancer that no one knew he had. Dickens was gone four days later.

Then there was the label on my front door, telling responders to be sure and look for four cats in case of an emergency. I still can’t bring myself to change that number to three.

And finally, my nail kit – what could be more mundane?
But it wasn’t to Dickens. All those emery boards and implements were like catnip to my boy. He’d always come over and nose around for the nail buffer, picking it up in his mouth with a look that said I didn’t have to worry about cooking dinner – he’d snagged something special for me and his sisters!

We often don’t know that we’re going to lose someone special to us. I guess that’s a good reminder to enjoy all those sweet, simple little everyday moments with our loved ones, just in case our journeys with them come to an unexpected end.

I hope the last time Dickens grabbed that nail buffer I told him how much I appreciated his hunting prowess. After all, his sisters and I depended on him to keep us fed and happy.

Well done, Dickens.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Most politicians are sheep…with apologies to our fleecy friends

For the first time in my life I wasn’t going to vote. The mud-slinging between the politicians had left me discouraged…and disgusted.

But then I remembered it’s a privilege to vote. So I thought it over, and decided I would vote for the candidates who hadn’t used the all-too-popular negative ads.

I wound up voting for only three candidates…not necessarily the biggest races in Oregon…and that felt right to me.

At least on some level I’d be telling politicians that if you use dirty tactics you won’t get my vote. Political candidates, even those who represent my party, are not entitled to my vote. They have to earn it. When they engage in childish “he said/she said” exchanges they are telling me exactly who they are.

They are followers.

Followers are often called sheep. I don’t know enough about sheep to verify if they really are followers, and frankly, comparing politicians to our fleecy friends seems like a terrible insult to the sheep.

What I do know is that our country is facing a lot of challenges. No one seems to have come up with a winning plan to turn things around, but I think that’s because the issues go beyond political parties.

I know it sounds simplistic, but it seems that only by banding together will we have a fighting chance of dealing with all the difficulties facing not only Americans, but people all over the globe.

Look at the united effort that brought those Chilean miners back to the sunlight. Remember the sense of oneness we felt after the horrifying events of 9/11. People weren’t strategizing how to help based on what was in it for them, they just showed up to help because help was needed.

I am looking for politicians who get that.

I’m looking for leaders.