Monday, June 19, 2017

Farewell, Cleo

I had Cleo put down this morning.  It was harder than I realized, we have not had an animal need intervention before.

She had injured her leg and after rounds of antibiotics, no change.  She was still in a great mood, eating and purring and loving being petted.  I kept putting it off and putting it off, convincing myself it looked a little better, that she was still getting around, that she was still seeking us out for affection.
I did not sleep last night, I woke up at 12:17 and laid there until I finally peeled myself out of bed this morning.  I had decided to wait until Saturday so Matt could help, but after feeding her her med-laced food and using wipes to clean her face and body, I realized this is what my life has become.  Every day I watch her, all day long.  I shovel her poop into holes I dig for her, I poison ants (with borax) when they start making lines toward her leg, I clean her bedding and wash her body and spray her leg with peroxide and work a doll brush through her tangled hair, which had begun to fall out in clumps. I have not gone anywhere in nearly 3 weeks.

Yesterday, she changed locations about a dozen times requiring hourly searches to relocate her in order to keep the dogs from harassing her.  I was taking Nia and Murph out myself all last week, never letting either out of my sight.  It was constant reminding the kids to watch for the cat, daily prayers that she would pass easily in the night.  I was so stressed.

Today, I found her under a car, then under the porch, then splayed on the sidewalk, then on the porch, then in the mint and I finally realized she just can't get comfortable.  I went out and tried to soothe her and she just yowed.  I went in to get a basket and a towel.  She purred as I carried her to the van.  She purred as I talked to her going down the road.  She purred as I held her for the vet to examine one last time, her body so hot, her face pressed into my neck.   The fever was new.  I took her to the vet a week ago and she was running normal.  Over the weekend, she felt cat-temp.  Today, it was like holding a sunbeam.

I signed the paperwork saying I gave permission to euthanize her.  That to my knowledge she had not bitten anyone.

The first shot, she did not even flinch.  She purred and we petted her and I cried and cried and cried, tears splashing off my sandals, running under my feet so that later, every step, I squelched.  She went very limp and the vet gave me a minute.  I adjusted her body on the towel and helped her close her eyes.  I rubbed her head until her last purr faded and she was breathing shallowly and I rubbed her as clean as I could with the combo of baby wipes and copious amounts of tears I had on hand.  It didn't seem right for her to be dirty, she was always messing with herself, fighting that long fur to lay smooth.  Cats are filthy.  I wiped her feet, her mouth, made sure her ears were clean inside.  Got the fur smoothed down her spine.

The next shot was a tiny pink goo-filled syringe.  It took a couple of seconds to get it all in her leg. The vet set the needle down and listened for a heartbeat.  She was gone.  It was that fast.  She never seemed stressed or scared or hurt, even the car ride in wasn't hard.  She drifted off being petted and if there is any justice in the universe, that is where she still is hovering-in that memory of that feeling of no pain and many hands, of running her purr engine and making biscuits on the old towel I had wrapped her in.

The vet arranged her body like she was asleep and placed her in a bag that she taped off.  I paid at the desk and went back in the room to get her.  The bag was hot, that poor cat.  I feel so horrible for both letting her wait so long and for letting her go so soon.  Her meds don't even run out until Saturday.
But they were not helping enough, the vet said the only thing left to try was amputating it and she doubted she would survive the anesthesia.

At home, I dug a spot outside my window.  It's not where the rest of our pets are buried and I hope she doesn't mind.  The bag was still warm as I lowered it into the hole, careful to keep her arranged in a comfortable cat curl.  I put a double stack of brick on top because the very last thing I want is to walk outside next week and see shredded green plastic and ecstatic dogs.

Of the 4 cats we have had for well over a decade, Wonder is the only one left.  After Muta disappeared, Wonder has stuck close to the house, despite the fact that Murphy and Nia are little shits to her.  There is a stray orange male kitten who has moved in to the shed.  While he seems sweet and I have not seen him mess with Wonder, efforts are underway to trap him to take to the pound.  I can't do it any longer. I don't want more pets.  I don't know if it's my age or the fact that I thought we HAD to have animals for the kids-who really don't seem to notice we have pets-or the fact that a 'quick' exam at the vet is now $160 a dog. Or if it's the weekly washing of the vacuum filters because they get clogged with dog hair.  Or if it was losing Zephyr and then Kaiju.  Something along the way fell off my personal radar and I feel done.

I can only hope dogs do what dogs are supposed to do and decline quickly and die at home after just a day or two. If I have to put down Jessie or Kuma, I will break.

I don't know what the future holds.  On the way to the vet, I told Cleo to find me again, when I was ready.  She meowed once, and was quiet.  I talked non-stop the whole way and that was the only time she replied.  So maybe, when I am 70 and ready to stop running around so much, I'll go to the pound and see a little grey stripped long-haired kitten with green eyes and a meow like a bell and I'll say, "Well, hello there Cleo Della Rosa, how have you been?"  and she will say, "Meow".  And I will be forgiven.

or maybe not.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


They finished the van early!  I picked up my van and returned the Jeep to the rental place.  It was a great chance to see that no one in the family, myself most of all, likes a Jeep.

A few things I did not like: it felt flimsy, the passenger seat was nearly in my armpit, the back seat was teeeeeeensy, there was no proper space to put things.  It had 2 cupholders, lots of shallow slots, an open area in front of the passenger seat that things slid back and forth and flew out of and the windshield was so far away that putting my phone on it with the suction cup thing to use as a GPS was impossible.

Shutting the rear hatch made the door feel like it was made from a couple of those disposable turkey pans stapled together.

What I did like-it had good clearance, long a complaint of mine with the van.  It got slightly better gas mileage, though it had a wee little 11 gallon tank.  It does me no good to get more MPG if I have to stop even sooner to refill than I do in the van.  Though I did get my $22 fill up fantasy fulfilled.

Anyway, I have my van back and the Jeep is banished to Planet Enterprise.  I have a LOT of travel decals on the van from places we have gone.  I wasn't going to sticker it up like I did Nettlevan and held off for the better part of a year.  Then I decided it's my freaking van.  STICKERS!  I was doing state flags on the back and that of course was hit.  The body shop was able to take the rear window off the other lift gate and reuse it, so I got to keep half my stickers.  I reordered what I needed to and I realized why the back looked so weird-it wasn't that it was blank, it was that it was BLANK.  No Kia insignia!  I immediately ordered Batman symbols to replace it.  hahaahaha!  When I went by the car shop to pick up the SIX PAGES of what they did to the van (ACK, it was $2500, it was nearly totaled out for a freaking lift gate!)  they had the new SEDONA strip to put on.  I said, "No way!"  They gave it to me and it's on the changing table in the living room now.

The changing table was Matt's dad's when he was a baby.  His dad's mom was freaky tall, so us mere mortals just use it as a cabinet, since the changing surface is about nipple-height.  It's still called the changing table, though it has not seen a baby butt in over 60 years.  I never used a changing table, just the foot of the bed.  Which is another reason to make the bed the minute you get up.  It is the platform for the rest of the day!  Ben and I are bed makers.  Jake and Chan are not.  And who has the most luxurious hair and nails in the whole house?  Nia, but Ben and I are close seconds. Coincidence?  No. Because after you make the bed, you take your hair and nails gummy vitamin. It's called routine and it's lacking in 2/3 of the under-25 set around here.

Speaking of under 25, Jake will be 22 this year and Ben will be 18.  It SEEMS like it's a long way off, but it's already mid-year already.   I just need to be horrified a bit.  Okay.  Jake had a margarita last weekend.  He didn't like it.  But the fact that he can just go buy one is alarming.

Enjoy this pic of Murphy Jones

And this snake that was under the gate.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Crunch:the Sad Story of a Two Week Separation

I discovered that while I like to THINK I would like to backpack for weeks on end, really, a week is about my limit.  I don't like to be away too long from Matt and the kids, my bed, the bathtub, the dogs, the library, Netflix, my routine.  And that's okay.  I still do and go more than 90% of the people I know and I embrace being 'out there' when I am.  But, I think this is not surprising to anyone other than myself, it turns out that one of my biggest security blankets is my van.

A few weeks ago, Chan was driving and slowed down for a woodchuck and the car behind us did not. The car behind us was driven by a girl who had gotten out of school at noon, just over 12 miles away in town and managed to plow into us at 12:15, so let's assume speed was part of the factor.  It was a half day, she wasn't just checking out for a doctor visit, so there was the full on school traffic to get through.   I was just as irritated at her as her mama was at Chan for not plowing into the the animal at full speed. Whatever lady.  I would have slowed down, too.

I learned 2 things from that wreck.  One-if both parties agree to exchange information, you don't actually have to wait (2+ hours) for a trooper to arrive and take an accident report.  Though in the case of a clear at-fault driver, the trooper can ticket them for leaving the scene of an accident.  The troopers office said it happens all the time, people get a fender bender and have to get to work or to pick up their kid and opt not to wait.  Then I learned item number two.  You can not file with insurance without an accident report from an officer.

So, last night I dropped WanderWagon (finally named her, no comments from the peanut gallery about how it's not a wagon) off at the body shop and they said it will be 2 weeks, minimum.  TWO WEEKS.  Let me go over the extensive damage:  Lift gate.  Possibly under the bumper is dented.  The slot where the back seats slot into the floor to make the floor flat is caved in a little.  I actually 'fixed' that with a camping mallet so I could put the chairs away.

I thought they would be done this afternoon.  I thought they would stretch the frame before lunch, replace the door in 20 minutes and call me to come get her.   I am a little excited about the lift gate because I don't have a rear wiper and a new one would have that.   I had to re order all my stickers last night.

So, I go pick up my rental this afternoon.  I have so much going on this week and next that sitting at home isn't an option.  The other insurance company is picking up the tab.  Nice.  I nearly pushed for another minivan, but the lower gas usage won out.  I have never paid less than $35 for a full fill up.  And that's every 400 miles.   I get about 23 MPG, which is abysmal.  Matt gets 42.  We have discussed getting a running around car for me, since I don't haul loads of kids any more.  But in the end, another car payment for 3-4 years to avoid paying an extra $10 on a fill up a few times a month never quite makes sense.

So, keep my poor van in mind and send some 'hurry the heck up' vibes to the body shop.  I don't think they understand when a car isn't 'just' a car.

I'll be local for a while.  I have an overnight next week, a week long trip in July or August and so far, that's it for summer plans.  I know, it's crazy!  A few swim days, some day hikes, lunch meetings, a dental appt for a deep pit in a rear molar that I have ground the sealant out of.  Again. I hope that's not toxic, I feel like I have consumed a fair amount over the years.

That's it for updates.  I have a wild hair to exercise more, we'll see how long THAT lasts.  So far, just this morning.  I mowed the front yard after, it's raining so much that the grass is growing about half an inch a day.  Matt mowed part of it Friday evening after work and it was already wooly again.  The back is outright field-like, but I will get to that later.  It's about to rain again.  Plus, it's not as thick, so if it's longer, it's not a killer to mow like the front can be.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

AT: Dick's Creek Gap to Deep Gap

16 mile stretch.  Loads of laurel and rhododendron and open woods.  Ridge line, big trees, rocks, streams.  2 shelters and multiple campsites.  One view.  Lots of peeps through the trees at neighboring mountains, but just one wide open spot.

We set out from Dicks Creek Gap to get to Bly Gap at mile 8.7.  Matt was meeting us the next night at Deep Gap and we were going on to Standing Indian and headed for mile 100.

We made great time, I took my time on the climbs and downhills, using my poles, stopping as much as every 50 steps for a couple seconds to keep from wearing myself out.  It was chilly, breezy and fog and rain rolled past in bursts.  The sun would come out and be swallowed in moments and it would get so dark, like dusk.  Then the sun would come back out.

The day progressed and we stopped for lunch at Plumorchard Gap.  I saw the first and last piece of trash by the trail, a yogurt cup of all things.  I packed it out.

We got to Bly Gap about 3, refilled on water and headed up to the famous tree to get pics.  The campsites were up on the little ridge, and so was the wind!  It was cold and getting colder.  We decided to keep going since there was so much light left and get down a bit to set up camp.

The trail just after Bly goes STRAIGHT UPHILL was probably a mile, but it was brutal.  After the whole day of the trail being pretty gentle and also planning to be done at that point, it was mentally hard to keep going and add in that climb and it was about enough to do me in!  I was down to stopping every 25 steps in some stretches.  It levels off and the goes up even more.  It seems like there can not be any more mountain as, through the trees you see well below, the tops of other mountains.  There were steps that were level with my knees, so hauling me and my pack up and sometimes down that distance wore me out quickly.  I had my pack at 25 pounds with 2 liters of water, which is what I was carrying thinking we would find a campsite on the lee side of the mountain.

We walked another 3 miles to Muskrat Creek shelter before we got a break from the wind.  The temps were dropping and though the wind was not straight at us, it was still breezy.  I cinched down my Six Moons tent (still not the tent I want, I am still looking) and we hit the sack by dark.  I set my TWO liters of water I had hauled that whole way outside the tent.  I could hear Muskrat Creek all night.  There are times when I wonder why I enjoy this so much.

We got going around 10 the next morning, taking our time packing up.  We only had 4 miles to Deep Gap and could not go further because we were meeting Matt.

Somewhere along the hike, Melissa stepped and her knee bent backward.  Then she stepped and slid and her knee buckled.  She twisted it then and it just got worse.  By the time we got to the gap parking area, she was feeling it grind on each step.  It was just after 2 and Matt was not due in for 8 more hours.  

So, we hitched back to my van, a surprisingly easy process!  We just happened to arrive when 2 cars of guys were setting up to hike and they were going back to Hiawassee for groceries before going on to Unicoi Gap to backpack back to the car they parked at Deep Gap.  The van was 7 miles from Hiawassee and they dropped us off just over an hour later and if we had been 10 minutes later, we never would have seen them!

I called Matt when we had service and told him not to come.  I drove us back home, the drive of 4.5 hours seeming to take 9.  That is a winding start and stop trip, you rarely get to go more than 15 minutes without having to stop at a light, sign or make another turn.  It feels like forEVER.

Melissa headed home and I had a hot bath, muscles twitching.  I feel fine and am ready to get in more miles this weekend, I about have Matt talked in to doing the canyon at South Cumberland, there's a 2 or 3 mile stretch between Horsepound Falls and Ranger Falls I need to hike and I will have hiked the entire trail system there!  It's just getting to that spot is a 3-4 mile hike one way, so it will be a long day with a big climb at the end no matter which way we tackle it.

Of note, I hiked the whole time in my Chaco sandals and not one single foot issue at all, not even a rub or anything.  That solid rock hard Vibram sole and the straps that keep my foot secured are amazing.  I am selling my unused Merrel boots along with my 1 person Six Moons Scout tent, if anyone is in the market.  Hahaha!  

Melissa's rain cover made her pack look HUGE

About Me

Unschooling mama from the start with 2014, 2016 and 2018 graduation dates. I enjoy camping, reading, swimming, hiking and photography.