Here We Go Again, says my Husband

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20190525_113558The garden is thickening up and we’ve got visitors now on the regular, including my snakey friends and the Swallowtail butterfly moms, ready to get busy all over the baby dill and parsley.

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I’ve got so much going on in the garden, I really don’t have time for much else. Flowers are blooming…

… and I’ve got flats of Milkweed seed started and more plugs on the way to get ready for Monarch rearing season, but for now, the Swallowtails have me scrambling. My poor parsley and dill plants are so small yet that I am starting to panic and it’s only June. I’ve started some more dill from seed, but these guys get hungry, and all in all, I think I’ve got about 15 eggs so far. I am hoping to transition them early to the wild parsley I’ve got growing all over my garden. If I can do that, I won’t have to run around buying every plant the nurseries and home stores have in stock.

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The Dill is covered with lovely little yellow eggs, so I’ve had to put the entire pot in the enclosure because the wasps are out in force this year looking for baby caterpillars to attack. I can’t save them all because: Nature. But Pollinators are in trouble overall due to habitat and food source losses, so a few extra butterflies is a good thing, IMO.

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More adventures to come…

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Back in Time for Spring

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All two dedicated followers of mine might have noticed that posts have been few and far between. They might have even wondered why, or not, but it wasn’t because I fell off the edge of the earth or grew weary of talking about cats and books.

I just got back to a normal life again after recovering from surgery in March.

I won’t go into the details, but I’ve been battling some medical issues for a few years now, and things quickly progressed to where the non-invasive methods we were using no longer worked and other options were not curative options. This thing has robbed me of so much of my life in the last ten years, I was ready to do anything to be pain free. It was a scary experience. Recovery was hard, and there were moments I felt like I would never feel better or like myself again. Depression sets in no matter how much you fight it, so you cry, but you keep moving forward. It was a long 6 week slog and I am probably only about 90%.

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There were a few joyful moments in our very very wet garden though. It’s thick and green and lush, and some of my friends are back, like the lady bugs and the Swallowtail butterflies I overwintered in the garage during their chrysalis stage. We were skeptical that they would hatch out, but they did, and so I set about starting parsley and milkweed seed in preparation for this years caterpillar rearing fun.

More to come as I get my strength and my presence of mind back, though I think my fiction writing days are over for now so that I can focus on the garden and other things that just feel more important to me right now than fiction does.

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Humans are Idiots

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Westworld was always one of my favorite movies as a kid, so that I would enjoy the HBO series version was kind of a given.

We are in Season 2 at the moment, and while I don’t want to be a spoil sport for people who have not seen the show yet, I just want to make mention of our penchant for underestimating things, like our capacity to be the most depraved repellent creature ever to haunt this earth.

In Season 2, I find it wildly amusing that the humans didn’t predict the robots would ever have the capacity to remember, but more importantly, that the humans stupidly assumed that the Robots would never have the capacity for love. Not programmed facsimile love, but the real genuine article, which leads to my understanding of the situation in the simplest of terms:

Just like nature always finds a way, you can fill a world with hate, but LOVE will always find a way, and the vengeance that comes with it will be incomprehensible.

Do not underestimate the power of love.

Sick & Tired & So Here’s a Picture of Cats

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Working on my second holiday head cold. I am thankful that it’s not flu, but I still feel like hammered shit. Took some NyQuil on Saturday night and it was a mistake. NyQuil gives me weird dreams and I still don’t really sleep. I can’t remember much of what I dreamt, but Jon Hamm was in it and he kept saying, “But I’m Jon Hamm,” to which I kept replying, “I know who the fuck you are.”

Not sure how to analyze that, so here’s a pic of Moon and Rupert, sharing some sun, which is what I wish I were doing right about now.

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Sometimes Cookies are OK

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Moon is feeling much better after his bout with a kitty flu flare-up. When he stopped eating and drinking, and then peed on himself twice because he didn’t have the energy to move, to say that I was fearful that we would lose him is putting it mildly. When his urine turned bloody and blood was coming out of his nose, I was scared to death.

Apparently, a flare-up of the feline herpes virus is usually fairly mild and resolves itself in 7-10 days, but sometimes, it can take a serious turn. When he just had watery eyes every once and a while, it was manageable, and we weren’t even sure if herpes was the cause, but this time was different, and I wasn’t prepared for it, at all. I have a great Vet though, and even though I had to learn how to do a scary thing with needles, I made it through because of their support system. That said, no amount of fluid therapy will help a cat who has gone off all food. Anorexia happens fast. Moon lost a pound in a few days, and weight loss that drastic and fast can cause problems with their livers, including death, so getting them to eat is a big deal.

We tried everything: tuna, baby food, other fishy kibble that he would normally go nuts over. Nothing worked, and we were close to a feeding tube situation. My last ditch effort was to get some of the veterinary diet food they had him on when he had his urinary blockage. Sure enough, it worked.

Now I am not a fan of the prescriptions foods. They are made with substandard ingredients like corn and wheat and their respective glutens, meat meals and by-products, and they are generally way too carb heavy (try 35-45% carbs). While it solved Moon’s urinary issues at the time, it created other ones:

  1. It made him very itchy.
  2. It made him constipated.
  3. It made him carb crazy (begging for food at all hours of the day and night.)
  4. It made him fat. He went up to 16 lbs., which ups the risk of diabetes and other problems.

On the bright side, it made him drink a lot more, but more importantly, it has tryptophan in it, which calms him down better than the l-theanine or anything else. I needed him calm and willing to eat. It worked for that too, and once he was eating, he felt better, and I was able to get him back on his regular hypoallergenic low carb, low mineral food, which works to control all of his issues at the same time. Young Again LID Zero Carb Mature.

That said, we are still giving the prescription food as a nightly treat because it had an unexpected side effect: The tryptophan has worked on Rupert as well.

As in, it’s brought out his bravery. He’s out and about. He’s ventured upstairs for the first time since he’s been in the house, and he takes a walk up there every night. He will come to get me when he wants petting versus the sexy carpet spread and scratching he would do to get me to come to him, and, this is the best part, he’s finding his voice. When it’s cookie time, he paces around my legs and squeaks in excitement.

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So it looks like I’ll be keeping the prescription food around for a bit. I just have to remember that it’s not food, it’s cookies, and that it does the same thing to cats as cookies do to us when used in excess. Eventually when it runs out, I will order some of the VetriScience Composure Pro. I have to order it from my Vet, but it’s the only thing that works for him because it has tryptophan in it. I figure if we use this strategically, especially in the fall, maybe we can avoid a relapse with Moon and bring Rupert completely out of his shell.

My First Real, and not pleasant, Experience with Kitty Flu

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20181111_102952We have always suspected that Moon has the feline herpes virus. Apparently, 90% of feral cats do, and he’d always get weepy eyes at the change in seasons, the worst of it being in the fall, but it never progressed beyond that. Until this fall.

It started Halloween night with sneezing fits. Moon had been a bit off for a week or so anyway prior to this. He’d been stressing about some new cat wandering around the garden, so he was coming down off his annual bout of cystitis that happens like clockwork when we open the windows in the fall. His annual bloodwork was done a few weeks prior and there were some white blood cells in his urine, but the vet didn’t see any cause for alarm as everything else was fine. After that, my husband and I were both home for a few manic days of cleaning and trying to get some house projects done before our annual Halloween party, which was a very peepoly party this year. So I expected Moon to be a bit run down from all the commotion. I expected the weepy eyes like he’s had in years past, but I did not expect the sneezing, so it concerned me enough to take him to the vet Thursday Nov 1st in the afternoon.

Now I had freshened up the only carpet we have in the house prior to the party. I used a green cleaner from Clean+Green, so I didn’t think it would be a problem, but with allergic cats, you never know. In this case, the doctor didn’t want to confirm one way or the other that it was a viral herpes flare-up or just an allergic reaction to whatever botanicals might have been in the carpet spray, so he wanted to wait and see. I was ok with that, since it was only sneezing, so I went home and washed the shit out of that carpet, in the driveway with a brush and hose, then I hung it to dry, which took a day or so.

By Saturday, Moon was flat-out. By Sunday night, he had stopped eating and drinking and could not really breathe. We got some super stinky fishy cat food to see if we could entice him, and we had him eating a few bits and drinking some tuna water by Monday. Tuesday he seemed improved, but still would not drink anything but tuna tea, so we took him back to the vet for subq fluids, which I could then administer every other day at home if I wanted to. I didn’t. I was just going to drive him back and forth since the vet is close to my house, but the trip was so stressful that Moon urinated all over himself in the car. By Wednesday, all the progress he had made was lost, and he took a nosedive. I started doing the subq at home, shaky at first, and he didn’t seem to mind or care, but by Friday, he was so bad that he had urinated himself in his bed and was just so weak, he lay there in it until I got home from work. I seriously thought we were going to lose him at that point. At minimum, he was going to need intensive hospital care.

So it was back to the vet Friday afternoon where we decided that a shot of antibiotics might be warranted now. He was given that and given fluids and given a syringe of vitamin paste, which I would be administering every day at home for the foreseeable future along with the fluids. By Friday evening, Moon was eating a bit of kibble. We had decided to go with the cookies he loved back in the day that made him fat the first time he got sick with urinary issues. Royal Canin Urinary +Calm. It’s one of the only foods with L-tryptophan in it, and that is the only thing that keeps Moon calm. We’ve tried all the theanine chews, but none of them worked unless they had the tryptophan, and calming chews with that in it are getting harder and harder to find. We brought home some recovery canned food too, but we’d tried canned food and baby food with him throughout but all he does is gag when he tries to smell it. His nose is way off base, but for some reason, whatever they spray this carb-loaded kibble with, it works.

This past Saturday night there was blood in his snot and in his urine. This was expected, so I was happy that we’d decided to go with the antibiotic because he was ripe for secondary bacterial infections like pneumonia at this point.

Now it all might be coincidence, but it helped. He perked up in a few hours on Friday, was eating a bit of kibble every three hours from 6:00 PM on through Saturday, and around midnight Sunday morning, he started drinking plain water on his own. Sunday, he drank and drank and drank, all day long, and by this morning, Monday Nov 12th, he attempted to eat some kibble out of the bowl on his own after I gave him his vitamin paste. (For high calorie vitamin paste, I use Richard’s Organic because it has taurine in it. If that’s not available, Nutrical works in a pinch but it has no taurine if they go off their food entirely for a few days.)

Sunday night was the first night he didn’t want to sleep with me in over a week, which was good because I’ve procured myself a nice head cold from being so run down from the stress and not sleeping that I needed a nice quite bed with nothing gurgling and snoring next to me to distract me from my own gurgling and snoring.

I think Moon will make a full recovery, but it’s scary to think how strong this virus can come on, and how sick they can actually get from it. I did a lot of wine drinking and a lot of crying. Now I have got to formulate a plan for next fall so I can head this heinous thing off before it gets out of hand:

  1. I will probably make sure I have the calming cookie food early and start feeding that to him when we open the windows for the first time in the early fall. Apparently, the feliaway isn’t enough. The crap prescription corn-based food makes him fat, so I will have to find a way to ration it so we get the same net effect.
  2. I will get the subq fluids as soon as/if he stops drinking. No wait and see days. The bag was $75.00 but at 100ccs per day, it lasts and saves the stress of trips to the office.
  3. I will probably get the antibiotic sooner, since it seems he turns the corners hard, and it’s going to hit him in the urinary tract as well. I don’t like giving antibiotics without knowing for sure, but if he is going to crash this fast, then it’s best to head pneumonia off before it can get a hold on the lungs.

I’m sure that Rupert carries the virus too, but even with his FIV, he was completely unaffected by anything aside from a few days minor annoyance when he couldn’t use the litter boxes in the den because I had Moon in there with the door closed so he could rest uninterrupted. On the bright side, Rupert likes the cookie food too, and he will steal it every opportunity he gets, so it can’t be left out unattended, otherwise Moon won’t get any of it. It won’t hurt him to eat a bit of it and will keep him calm too, which is good for his FIV, so if he thinks he’s getting special treats, then what’s the harm in letting him think that.

Now I need about ten days of sleep to recover my own damn self. I wonder how that cookie cereal food tastes with milk?

In a Lightning Storm, Sheep Run through Barbed Wire

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I used to fear things. The lonesome wind come through the clapboards. Dry hillsides rustling. My own skin in the summer heat. Rattlers. Lurking. Abandoned coal pits.

Pa said I was afraid of desolation, but I didn’t know what he meant by that. How can you be afraid of something all around you been there since the day you were born?

I used to fear. Hard. But hard is what we had … and the stink of sheep, goats, some cattle and horses. I’ve seen my sister kicked, bucked, and bloodied more often than I care to remember. Mud in her hair. Booze on her breath. Blue-blackened skin. Used. Useless. Pa used to do the castrations himself. He learned the old-time way and used to use these fucking rubber bands, but he eventually said that the old-time way wasn’t the right way anymore, that it took too long, would oftentimes get infected. He feared infections, like the one he said my sister had, so he set about teaching me the right way.

I didn’t understand why we had to do it at all. It was bloody, and sometimes, the gonads were small, slippery like marbles, and you had to dig around in the sack with your fingers until you found the sinewy cord. Pa would say, “Keep digging,” and I’d cry and cry and cry because there was so much blood and I was afraid I’d never get it out from under my fingernails, but Pa would shush me and tell me that it’s good for them, and I’d ask why through a dirty fistful of tears while waiting for him to spit into the chicory and rub his chin for a spell before explaining, the way he does, that boys need it, makes them more polite. Something about hormones, he said. Maybe I was afraid of them, so I asked Ma about it while she was fixing the fried gonads for my supper plate, but she just shushed me too, wiped the grease on her apron, and said I was too young for talk about such things.

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I’m not too young. My breasts are coming in and I feel all funny. My sister said it’s normal. I’d get used to it. I go to high school next year. My sister talks about it all the time. Says high school boys have the hormones too. I asked my sister if boys were like the horses and the cattle. She said no. That they were like the mules, and I wondered if they stunk like them. She just smiled at me and scratched at her crotch, so I told her I was afraid of getting kicked, like she always did, but she shushed me too and said not to worry …

Told me that Pa was teaching me the right way.

Originally Published at Revolution John, December 18, 2014

I Haven’t Talked About The Noobs In A While…

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I know you’ve missed me talking about my cats’ constitutionals, so I’ll do that today because it’s good to chart the progress of feral cats becoming house cats for those who think it’s not possible.

Both boys had their veterinary checkups recently, and both are doing splendidly at almost 13 years old. Both are roughly the same weight at 13.9 for Moon and 13.1 for Rupert, which was surprising since Rupert just looks bigger because of his floof. Bloodwork came out normal for both, which means that Rupert’s FIV status is not affecting him at all at this point, though he may need to have a few more teeth removed next year because of the resorption. It’s a watch and see situation at this point, but I’ve been saving for it anyway.

Moon gets his annual hairball issues in the fall when his allergies act up and he grooms more than usual. The tough thing is that he hates every single hairball remedy we’ve tried, except one, and that has something in it that makes him itch more. It’s frustrating, but it passes. Food is another issue. If Young Again Pet Food goes out of business, we are done for. Their Mature, Zero Carb L.I.D. is the only food Moon can eat without itching to death or throwing up, except the Rayne kangaroo meat, which is too high carb for anything other than occasional use.

He’s also in semi-annual panic mode because we’ve been able to open the windows and the smell of other animals and cats just sends him spiraling into fight or flight, which means cystitis and missing the box with his pee. He’s always had issues with box orientation, meaning: he’s a lazy box user. We tried switching to the NVR Miss litterboxes to see if we could get him to walk in and situate himself properly so that his pee stayed in the box, but after two years of use, he couldn’t figure it out and just hangs his butt out the door resulting in pee and poop on the floor. He’s funny because he gets so proud of himself thinking he meticulously buried his business when it isn’t even in the box. He gets an A for effort, and we put doggy pee pads down until the cystitis passes in about 7-10 days. Calming chews and Feliaway fix the nervous problem, but they don’t fix his lazy problem. Most times, he doesn’t even attempt to bury his business either. I’m thankful we don’t have carpet, but even so, mopping the areas on my hands and knees twice a day is a joyless task. I’ve also been through just about every high-sided litterbox on the market just short of making my own. My last-ditch effort was to try the big & fat cat boxes on Jackson Galaxy’s website. The entry side is about 1 inch higher than the door side on all the others, and the box is loooong and wide. Rupert loves the extra space for pyramid building, and so far so good for Moon. For now.

It amazes me how different their personalities are and how they were shaped by their time as feral cats. Rupert must make sure his business is covered so no one notices it, and Moon is a dump and run. No, Moon isn’t shy, but he is a nervous, territorial cat, and Rupert is calm, non-confrontational, and painfully shy. Their personalities work well together. Rupert’s presence isn’t threatening to Moon, and if Moon gets annoying, which he does often, Rupert just leaves the room for a quiet space. Nervous cats and FIV positive cats need stress-free environments to feel safe and stay healthy. I’d love to rescue every cat I see, but after witnessing how they react to other cats in the garden tells me that it would just be recipe for disaster. I couldn’t put them through that considering the life they already survived. My need to help can be satisfied in a thousand other ways, sans bringing it into the house. When my heart tugs at me, I just look at that picture and remember how many years it took to get them there: 12 years to be exact.