Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Goodnight, Neffy

Cats and cut flowers seem to last less long than you think they ought to. Our Neffy (Nefret, really. It's Egyptian for beautiful.) had a tumor in her mouth. It ultimately affected her tongue function enough that she couldn't bathe, or keep from drooling. Yuck. Then she couldn't eat easily, and eventually not at all. And she couldn't drink.

Sharon made the arrangements with the vet when it became clear that the last corner had been turned.

The kids all gathered round and said the sweetest loving goodbyes. I was especially proud of my children as they focused their affection on their pet.

So last Friday, I took Neffy to the vet for the very last time. The vets office team were all well prepared for our very sad morning...

She doesn't want to get out of the carrier. I tell her she never has to get back into the carrier. She is weak and very clearly near the end of her days catching moths and laying in the sun.

The table is covered in a fleece cloth with giraffes and other whimsical animals. I muse on the manufacturing process of the cloth; I think it is a dye printer that sprays the pattern on as the cloth rolls by. The edges of the shapes are indistinct, and the edges are unevenly cut off the bolt. It says most of the store name 'Jo Ann's' on the selvedge. It's cut to size for the table. I doubt it will be laundered and used again.

Neff lays down on her paws on the table as I hold my hand on her for her comfort and mine. The front desk person takes my credit card and has me sign for the bill. Neffy whines a bit but is calm. She'd lost several pounds the preceding week. Her bones poke out alarmingly and she couldn't have tolerated a bath that she really needed badly. Neffy murmurs now and again. The woman returns with the receipt and my card which she places on the cat carrier. I can barely speak. I take a tissue for the tears.

The doctor enters and explains. First the sedative. Then a few minutes wait. The doctor would excuse herself and return with the technician. Then the shot to stop her heart. The doctor is especially kind and calm. She focuses on me. I sense this is a very hard part of her job. Nevertheless...

"It's time." To me, in order to reassure me that this is indeed the most humane thing we can do for her. Quiet sweet words are murmured to Neffy.

"Shall I give her the sedative."

I nod. Words have left me momentarily except for a cry-choked whisper, "Yes."

A shot is given with the caution, "Just like a little bee sting."

The doctor excuses herself. I look into Neffy's eyes to comfort her as consciousness slips away. Two minutes pass as Neffy's head comes to rest on her paws.

The doctor and technician return. The only thing that catches my eye in the colorless next few minutes is the pet clippers with a yellow plastic part near the blades, and the turquoise nail polish on the technician's short nails.

"Do you want me to begin?" asks the doctor.

"Yes, please." I'm calmer but no less sad.

The tech holds Neffy's back as the doctor easily finds a vein in her back leg. I stand at Neff's head while the doctor is to my left. Neffy is still as the injection is started. I mentally note that the 5cc syringe is full, then empty.

The doctor moves her right hand to Neffy's chest to feel her heartbeat fade away. In a moment she says, with the slightest surprise, "She's already gone."

"Do you want us to take her now."

"Yes, thank you."

The doctor covers Neffy's body with a tiny blanket very much like the fleece one that covers the table. The technician scoops up the body and the two women leave quietly and close the door behind them.

I move to the bench holding the cat carrier, my receipt, and credit card. I sit and utter a few quite unmanly sobs. I get another tissue. I carefully replace my credit card in my wallet and fold the receipt to put it in my pocket. I take several minutes to compose myself.

Picking up the cat carrier, I open the door back to the lobby. I set the carrier on the floor of the adjacent bathroom without turning on the light. I wash my hands to remove the awful smell that has covered whatever Neffy has been touching for the last few weeks. Drying my hands I pick up the carrier, and thank the staff as I open the door to leave.

I pull to the driveway to exit. A middle-aged pedestrian woman approaches and I back up to clear the sidewalk for her to pass. She smiles and waves to thank me. I have the lucky feeling that I have plenty of time on my hands for that moment.

Old Friends I've Never Met

Ten years ago when I started typing all of this, I "met" a friend of a friend. She was single, living far away, and a knitter. She grew up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She's got a sister Naomi. And by all accounts, she had a great sense of humor. From time to time, racy things were written in public.

[some years pass]

She fell in love with a fellow who owns an Elvis jumpsuit. She married, became a step mom and survived a huge storm. There were lots of posts about knitting, Charlie the dog, and even some about a deck. The name of her blog changed, though I can't remember the old name. She's "Kinda Asiany".

[some more years whip by at a pace best described as "insistent"]

Then out of the blue tinged pages of a little website called face book came a private message that there was a business conference in the Bay Area where I am and our mutual friend is, and that we were to meet.

In person. A person whose voice I'd never even heard.

[some weeks with a blush of anticipation noodle by]

And I'm seated at a booth in a bar with our mutual friend and her husband, and appetizers were ordered and I had a porter in front of me.

Then I saw her face and heard her voice for the first time, and there was excitement and a hug and a picture snapped with a phone. Dinner was served. It was casual and relaxed and full of discovery and stories. I talked too much (don't look shocked) and after a fashion, the evening had ended and we hugged goodbye, hopefully to meet again in less than ten years.

Thanks for stopping by our place here in the metropolis, Grace. You do your name proud.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ooooooh, Shiny

So, I "do" Renaissance Faire. I have a lot of friends who have "done" Renaissance fairs for many years, most of that time in their formative years at a place known as Blackpoint Forest in Novato, a rural and suburban town north of where I live. The devotion to the fair that was held there for many years is very, very deep on the part of hundreds of my friends and acquaintances. Most everything about the place and time holds deep meaning for them, and naturally they feel a lot of passion for it. It's a life-defining phenomenon for many.

I visited that fair twice or perhaps three times as a patron and as a true insensitive friend, I hold little reverence for the entire Blackpoint phenomenon. On the other hand, there was born an entire hobby world inhabited by thousands of fantastic artists and storytellers and in that whole gamish there was a really cool pewtersmith that made iconic pieces. Many of the old faire folk have them and I've always admired them. The pieces are treasures.

So about a year ago I got a goblet. It was heavily tarnished and someone had literally used it as a hammer. I used a mallet and wooden block to get it back into shape.

Then I polished it so it was as bright as you can get pewter. It looks stunning, and it fits my character, the Head of Household for Her Royal Majesty Elizabeth I.  Here it is on the kitchen counter right after polishing.
My friends who are Blackpoint old guard have commented, "YOU POLISHED IT!?!" because, at least to some of them, it's a revered relic. To me it's a a costume piece.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Weight Weight, Don't Tell Me!

A few months ago the doctor told me, (I'm paraphrasing) "You're fat and you snore." I think his bedside manner was a lot better than that but the message was that for my own good, less was more. He recommended a couple of free apps for my phone; My Fitness Pal, and Google Fit. I can extend his recommendation to any of you who want to ditch a few pounds.

So the snoring (which is always abnormal, as the sleep doctor told me) is made worse by the excess weight. So if I actually lose enough, maybe I won't have to sleep with a CPAP machine.
And on the weighty subject it would appear that I am down about 17 pounds from where I started. My pants are loose. I have five or ten more to go which may put me in smaller pants but maybe no CPAP.

We'll see.

Friday, October 09, 2015

And as I was saying

In which we breathe life into an old paper bag that used to hold cheap Halloween candy.

Looking at the dates over there, it's been awhile since I've been here to confessional. So, and knowing full well I have used this writer's device before, let's recap.

This isn't about the news. It's about what's in my mind. Let me assure you that you, gentle reader, nor anyone else will ever fully know what's on my mind. You will know what I can put into words, and what my physical actions can say about me, but in my mind - and I suppose yours too - lives a maelstrom of thoughts so complex and intricate that they will never really come out or be fully understood. Even when I am at my most focused and eloquent, I cannot force out that much of all of the things that are happening in my mind. I have always experienced my consciousness in this way, at least as well as I can remember. I can only imagine it is the same for most everyone; science help us if I'm wrong.

So in that vein I want to try to share with you some - but certainly not all - of my thoughts. Kinda one at a time but bear with me on the thoughts that are like conjoined twins.

I started this blog in 2005 because it seemed like a cool thing to do and a friend of mine who wrote well had one. I wanted to emulate her so I started writing it on a lark. Not an actual lark; it was actually on a computer - larks fly off. I found that I really liked writing so I kept at it. Writing is creative and if you are an attention whore like I am and you are good at writing, people who like your creativity in writing give you attention.

So 10+ years along, I'm still an attention whore. I am getting better at it, which may be helpful for the planet or not. It's fun. Please leave lots of comments, which are the gold coins of attention whoredom.

Usually at this point in the post, I forget what I was writing at the top of the post. The Blogger interface has improved so I can see more of it. That's a relief. I don't understand how people can just tweet 140 characters. I'm witty, but not that witty. And I have poor memory for a lot of things like events, and dates, and chronology, and I forget what else.

Because the post to this point has no actual content, I'd better get on with actually saying something(s). Let's start with government or religion or something else light.

Like cancer. Our white cat has cancer. There's a tumor under her tongue which is mechanically interfering with the function of her tongue. If you have a cat you can probably guess how important having a tongue is to a cat. It's basically the index finger they do everything with, most importantly for her human slaves masters, bathe themselves. If your index finger was your only means of bathing and you ate by plunging your hairy face into stinky cat food, and your index finger was sprained, let's just say, you would stink. Like cat food, and drool (the doctor's report calls it "hypersalivation") that you can't lick back into your misshapen mouth. That had got stuck in your fur. And kinda dry-rotted.

No problemo, just bathe the cat yourself. Daily. Cats LOVE baths. They love them so much that during the bath they may begin to sing the songs of their people and bury their claw in your index finger. Needless to say there are towels all over our furniture so that the aroma does not embed itself in the fabric like Bernard Shaw in Baghdad.

I really like being naked. I wish it was more socially acceptable. #random

What the hell is wrong with the ultra-right faction of the GOP? Do they actually want to govern for the betterment of all of the people or are they just so mad about [insert something here] that they have just become lost in some permanent tantrum? And all of this trash talk about "taking back our country"; who the actual fuck are they taking it back from.

And religion, generally, is just fine. It gives you comfort or a sense of [insert something here]. Cool. It makes you feel good about you and your fellow humans, or maybe understand and forgive them in some way that makes sense in your mind. Wonderful.

What about all of the killing, and the "Nuh uh! You can't live like that, freak!" and "You have to obey 'my rules' that me and my friends say are 'God's law'!" What the hell are you on about people?!? I have tons of great friends who are religious and they never come and tell me that my atheist 'soul' is going to burn in Hell, or that I am somehow subhuman, or that I can't even be around them and not pray while they pray. I never hear that they are coming to kill me with Kalashnikovs. What makes some people murder and destroy civilization because of differences about creation myths, or how to pray? I must be too dense to get this.

I'm going to stop writing now so you can get on with the comments, AKA: Gold Coins of Attention Whoredom™.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

My greatest gifts

In which I reflect upon the season...

It is will a sense of fulfillment and grace that I sit down with keys at my fingertips to relate to you the content of my thoughts today.  This holiday season falling fast away from us has brought me many joyous moments, most of them brief and sweet and some that have stayed with me for many days.  I only hope that my modest skill as a writer can fully convey my message of joy to you.

As I predicted in my last missive, the Dickens Fair was over in a flash, even though it was five weekends of ten-hour days.  This season went very well for me in that I was able, at last, to truly imagine what my character, Mr Brownlow, is all about.  I could wax on for paragraphs but allow me to sum it up by saying that, Brownlow is a heroic man who goes against the grain of the society that he is at the top of, in order to rescue a defenseless beggar child from a life of vice and infamy, and in doing so his actions precipitate the destruction of a criminal gang, the death of a villain, and the complete repudiation of a host of characters that have equated the boy with human garbage.

With this in mind, Brownlow came alive for me, and his righteousness fueled the passion that was needed for him to take control and effect the salvation of Oliver Twist.  The scenes that I played in came into focus and for the first time, I was able to convey Brownlow's full dignity and indignation.  From the perspective of the onlooking audience I can only assume that it was more engaging; there were more people watching in the streets and they stayed to see the whole scene.

In changing my approach to my daily routine, I made new friends at Dickens Fair this year in several serendipitous happenstances, and for that I am grateful.  At one moment, I was walking back to my backstage area and the pianist from Mad Sal's recognized me because I had spent more time there this year.  He invited me to the first annual meeting of the Mutton Chop Society which was an opportunity for a few of us fellows with mutton chops to get together for a photo.  While waiting together with my fellow Society members, we chatted and I got to know two fellows who I had only known as their characters at a great distance.  One of them is a Technical Director working on the upcoming Star Wars movies, and the other is an artist that creates those amazingly cool signs at Trader Joe's.  In both cases the work is fascinating to me.  I hope that these friendships continue to enrich my life, and on that hope I plan to invest in them.

Seemingly just moments after Dickens started, it was two weeks in and it was my birthday.  Everyone jokes with me that the best part of my birthday is the annual bare-breasted rendition of Happy Birthday sung to me by the female cast of the Naughty French Postcards cast.  I look forward to that, and it was fun, but it pales in comparison to my real birthday treat.  On the day, my children gathered at our family home and we all went to dinner as a nuclear family.  At the table we all showed each other love and respect as we shared our meal.  My family; Sharon, Jessamy, Andy, and Danny are in fact my greatest source of love and affirmation bar none.  We really do love and respect each other in a way that I have observed is not universal in families.  I cannot be more grateful for this condition and I take great pride in having played a part in bringing it about.

In another few weeks, Dickens was over again, disappearing like Brigadoon for another year.  After three sleeps, it was Christmas morning which arrived clear and quiet.  With no sense of urgency whatsoever, we gathered again as a family to rejoice and share our gifts with each other.  I got some great gifts, but once again, none of them compares to the love that I feel in the exchange of that which we picked out for each other.  For me, that moment when your loved one opens what you hope is just the right thing, is the magic of Christmas.  It is deeply satisfying even though I am a hopelessly lousy shopper.

The very next day we were joined by our dear friend Amy and her love Brian so they could spend a few days with us and accompany us across the state to our home away from home at Lake Tahoe.  We got there after a leisurely day and proceeded to clean up after the construction of a new bathroom and remodeling of the other two.  Everyone pitched in and we made a lot of progress in just a few hours.  The stay of three days was enough for us to complete all our finishing decorating, cleaning, and preparing tasks, and Amy was able to show Brian some beautiful California scenery.  Our place in Tahoe is a great pleasure to me.  We searched for so very long, found a place that was so in need, and made a wonderful transformation that is universally admired by our guests and neighbors too.  It is a very relaxing place to retreat to, even when there is work to do.

At the very close of the year, we opened our home to quite a few friends both close and casual.  It was indeed a wonderful party.  Our good friends Peggy and Michael became engaged just at Midnight, and a good time was had by all.  We sang Auld Lang Syne to remember the friends we'd said goodbye to over the year, and we even had flaming rum punch.  There were some puzzles worked, a few games played, festive beverages, and a lot of hot water.  When the last person left, it was 3:30 PM on New Year's Day.  If anyone tells you that we throw boring parties, they are pulling your leg.  We were delighted to host such a rousing crowd and it pleased me to have so much merry made.

I want to make special note of the greatest gift of all that I received this season; the love of my friends, family, and especially of Sharon.  In countless ways, she expresses her love to me. Every time I am reminded of her love, I am touched and humbled.  I don't make a big show of it, but it makes a huge difference to me every day.  I hope each and every one of you have someone that makes you feel the same way.

Thank you for reading all this way.  May the peace of this season be with you until the days grow short and the weather cold once more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Months with wings

At times, life seems to plod along. Then it's Friday and you wonder how the week passed so quickly, or how last month passed so quickly.  The season waxes and wanes and the days grow short.  It's that weekend to change the clocks, then it's dark when the workaday merry-go-round goes silent and still.

Your birthday passes, then hers, and his, and theirs too and then it's time to get up early on the weekends, teach a class, hug everyone in sight, try to stay well and to remember your lines.  It's Dickens Fair season with a vengeance.  Popups, and sleepovers, and cues, schedules and pocket watches.  Why don't my pants fit any more?  I suppose I really do have to re-sole these shoes.

Five weekends will blow passed in an instant, as viewed from the final evening anyway.  Enjoy every minute is the mantra.  It will be nearly January of my 54th year before I see my house in sunlight again.

Life, and months fly by on wings of memories.  Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.