May Day resolutions.

Most people make resolutions to get their act together at New Year’s, but I like to pick any old upcoming month of the twelve available, make a resolution or two, and go for it. Most months, I don’t make any. But for May, I’ve made two: update my blog every three days, and go on a spending fast.

On my calendar, I’ve made an UPDATE BLOG  note for today. There’s only an hour or so left in the day, but that’s fine; I just have to write something. And if I end up writing a sad and gimpy little excuse for a post, well hey–it’s not as if I have a readership, right?

The whole point of this resolution is to get into the habit of posting in the first place. That’s it. Now that I’ve resuscitated this poor, neglected critter I’ve got to keep it breathing if it’s ever to sprout new legs and walk again. I get the feeling that someday soon I’m going to want it to not only walk, but to run–so I’ve decided to stick with it through each ragged breath.

The spending fast I’ve committed myself to is a simple idea: make no unnecessary purchases for an entire month. Pay the usual bills, buy groceries, attend to any crucial unexpected expenses (such as a vet bill or car repair), but that’s it. Don’t eat out; don’t buy fabric, books, art supplies, or other “useful” extras; don’t spend money on entertainment; don’t grab coffee, snacks, or any of the countless small purchases that add up. Continue reading

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Painting again–again.

“I’m painting again!”

How many times have I said that over the years? I don’t think I want to know. But does it really matter? Probably not. (Okay, definitely not.)

So: I’m painting again–again. And I’ve finally given up on art as a career.

This doesn’t mean I will never have some sort of art career. I’m only 42, and with heredity and ever-improving medical technology on my side I’ve got at least another 50-60 years to go. A lot can happen in that time.

What it does mean is that I’ve given up fretting over how I’m going to make a successful art career happen. I’ve given up worrying whether a given piece of work, or series of works, will be saleable. I’ve given up thinking about sales, marketing, geting into galleries, opening an Etsy store, having prints made, finding exhibit space, taking decent photographs, getting into juried shows, or blogging about my work on a regular basis.

It means that I’m just going to paint–for its own sake, for my own enjoyment. I’m going to paint things that appeal to me, that I want to see on my own walls. I’m not going to try to exhibit or sell my work, even if it means I run out of wall space. And unless I really want to, I’m not even going to post pictures of what I’ve painted to my blog or discuss it with anyone.

I’m just going to paint. Continue reading

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Nate (June 27, 2000-March 18, 2010)

When I last posted in October, my kittyboy Nate was doing very well, despite stage 4 kidney failure and a host of other ailments. Unfortunately, Dead Cat Walking is no longer walking (at least not here).

While he was boarding at the vet’s in mid-March he had routine bloodwork to see how he was doing, and his kidney values came back alarmingly high. Worse, a subsequent x-ray revealed fluid in his lungs and an enlarged heart.

I’d spent almost a full year expecting the end to come at any time, but the diagnosis still came as a surprise. Nate had been doing very well, and hadn’t shown any outward signs that he was so ill. Even while boarding he ate well, enjoyed attention, and showed no sign that there was anything wrong with him. As my vet said, “He just doesn’t seem to know he’s a sick cat.”

But there was nothing to be done for him. Reducing his dosage of sub-q fluids to ease the strain on his heart and lungs would send his kidney values even higher, and giving him IV fluids in an attempt to bring his kidney values down would only add to the fluid in his lungs and hasten heart failure.  Either way, he was out of luck. We didn’t know how much longer he might live, but it was not going to be long. Continue reading

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Housekeeping.

I haven’t posted to this thing in ages.

I started using Twitter several months ago, and am hooked. It’s quick and easy and lends itself to whatever passing fancies and fleeting observations I might have; it is, essentially, microblogging for the attention-impaired. And that suits me just fine, most of the time

But while splashing around in the shallows on Twitter is fun, I do occasionally wish I could develop an idea further,  go into greater detail, or start a real discussion–and that’s just not what Twitter is for.

I’m going to try (once again) to get this blog off the ground. I’ve avoided doing so for a long time, in part because most of the entries already here seemed old and stale and no longer relevant. Some were even kind of dumb. So I’ve set most old posts to “private,” at least for now. Maybe once I’ve got enough fresh content up I’ll unlock it again, but for now an (almost) clean start seems like a good idea.

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Dead Cat Walking

Despite all my best intentions, I haven’t updated this thing since mid-March. And the longer I go between updates, the easier it is to not update at all. So on today’s to-do list? Update the goddamned blog, already.

—–

In late March, I noticed that Nate, one of my cats, had suddenly lost a lot of weight. I noticed this on a Wednesday, and decided it was time to get him in for a long-overdue vet appointment. But he seemed fine otherwise, so I didn’t consider it urgent. In fact, I procrastinated about it, and the next thing I knew it was Saturday afternoon and the vet was closed and I still hadn’t made an appointment.

By Saturday afternoon, I noticed Nate was drinking an awful lot of water. He seemed to spend much of his time at the water bowl, as if he was obsessed with it.

Okay, I thought, we’re definitely going in on Monday.

But by Saturday evening, it was obvious (even to my thick-headed self) that something was seriously wrong. Nate had no interest in food; he kept vomiting small amounts of a brownish froth; and while he sat hunched over the water bowl, he no longer seemed to have an interest in drinking. He also had a very hard time climbing the stairs. I kept a close eye on him, by then certain that we were going to have to make a trip to the emergency vet.

And then he sat by the back door, as if he wanted to go out, and started howling–long, drawn-out, desperate yowls. When I approached him he was fixated on the door, as if he wanted out, but when I tried to get his attention I realized that he was disoriented. He just was not himself at all.

Less than 15 minutes later, we were at the emergency vets’; it would be a full week before Nate left. He spent that entire week on IV fluids, and it wasn’t until late on Day 4 that anyone started making cautiously optimistic noises about my taking him home. Had I waited much longer to take him in, he probably would not have made it; that he did, given his condition, still amazes me. Continue reading

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Bowled over.

Okay, I admit it–I’m sort of a slob. I live alone, and thus can do things like eat my hastily-thrown-together dinner out of a bowl while sitting in front of the computer.  That’s what I did Saturday evening, in fact. And after finishing my dinner, I occupied myself with other tasks, leaving the bowl on my desk.

I went into the kitchen to put water on to boil for coffee, and let Sophie–who was waiting impatiently outside the back door–in. Her brother Max followed; he raced past her and headed upstairs without so much as a “Hey, ‘sup?” while Sophie hung around, wanting food and attention.

Coffee made and Princess Kitty adored, I decided to go upstairs and check email before doing other things. And here’s the sight I beheld upon entering the office:

YES, THAT’S A RAT. A RAT IN MY BOWL. (And yes, my desk is a mess. Shut up.)

That’s why Max was in such a hurry to get upstairs.

Max is a cat with a mind of his own. He’s like a pushy little dude in a black cat suit, and can be really obnoxious sometimes. But he’s also totally food-motivated. Food is his weak spot. So if I want him to do something (like come inside, or come out from wherever he’s hiding), and he’s being a little shit,  I just offer food; it’s that easy. Sophie and Nate want to be petted and loved, Max wants treats.

He’s also a little beggar, always wanting to know what I’m eating. Every time I sit down to eat, he’s at my side, wondering, “What’s that? Can I have some?” He’ll reach up with his paw and grab my arm, trying to pull it down so he can see what’s in the bowl. (Thought to give him credit, once he knows it’s something he doesn’t want, he leaves me alone.)

So, as you can see, he knows exactly what a bowl is for, and he put my bowl to its proper use. And while my first reaction was something like, “What the hell?” I have to admit I was impressed. And amused. I sat at my desk laughing helplessly for a good five minutes before I went for the camera.

As for Max, when asked about it, he seemed extremely pleased with himself:

He reached out with one paw and swatted at the rat in the bowl (but I was laughing too hard to get a picture). Then he flopped over and wanted his belly rubbed, purring like mad and obviously a very happy cat. So I rubbed his belly and told him what a good boy he was, and thanked him for bringing me a fresh, tasty rodent (and such a big one, too!) before slipping outside to bury the poor thing in the compost pile.

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The Thursday night all-you-can-scavenge buffet.

The City, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to include kitchen and yard waste pickup along with regular trash collection. For no additional fee, you get a little 13-gallon wheelie bin; if you need a larger container you have to pay for it. It’s pretty clear what is allowed in the kitchen waste bins and what isn’t, and while the guy next door’s been bitching to all who will listen about how it wasn’t put up for a vote, I’m all for it.

The city delivered the free bins to each house in my neighborhood earlier this week; actual pickup of kitchen wastes doesn’t start until March 3oth. But I realized right away that since the bin is  so compact, there’s no reason not to put mine where it will actually get used–in the kitchen, by the back door.

But as I looked at it more closely, I realized there is another reason to keep it inside, one that doesn’t seem to have entered the minds of whoever chose the bins: there is no latch, or some other built-in way to keep the lid shut. And the bin itself is only about two feet tall. That means it poses no challenge whatsoever to an adult raccoon, or even a good-sized dog. Short of setting a cinderblock on the lid, there is no way to keep the bin outside without it turning into a supersized to-go container for the ring-tailed hoodlums that roam my neighborhood.

So I can see it now: another trash day dawns, and the alley is full of little green bins, all tipped over and spilling coffee grounds, orange peels, and eggshells everywhere. The crows and squirrels are duking it out for the best stuff; they already do it now atop overstuffed garbage bins, but thanks to the raccoons the pickings will now be even better (and the alley–already seedy-looking–will be even trashier).

I probably wouldn’t have thought of this–or been so annoyed by it–had I not spent the last five years here keeping urban wildlife at bay. The squirrels and crows can be troublesome, the rats are a constant bother, but it’s the possums, and especially the raccoons that have given me the most headaches since I moved here. I used to think raccoons were cute, but after dealing with the little bastards firsthand? I’m so over that.

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