Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Death

I have been struggling with feelings of uselessness after my self appointed job came to an end.  Sure, it is like a full time job to care for the cats left here.  But I like to get out and see other people, help people, interact, do things that help the world or community.

Most of the volunteer opportunities in this town are religious oriented.  Even the local YMCA and Habitat Restore are fairly religious environments.  I am not religious at all and it isn't easy to find anywhere one can fit in if you aren't around here in a volunteer capacity.

I wish we had a Planet Fitness.  You can join that gym for ten bucks a month.  Even the Y, a nonprofit, here, costs $50 a month, for a single person, which is more than most private gyms cost.

In other words, finding something to do here is not easy.  Especially if you are not religious and don't have money.

So, Sunday, when I went up to Lebanon to have dinner with Lebanon friends, and spotted one of two unfixed male cats they feed, I said "Let's trap him!"   Used to be, this gray long hair would only come around now and then.  Lately, however, he's been hanging out there most of the time, across the street, under the abandoned house.

Red flags were popping up in my mind.  The males, left to grow up unfixed, in that area have been leukemia positive.  The last male to show up there, a big Grumpy Cat lookalike, had no energy and looked bad.  I took him over to Heartland to be neutered, then they were going to adopt him out.  But he didn't even come out of anesthesia well, and when tested, he was positive for leukemia.  He was also a wreck, with a mouth full of tumors and infected teeth.  In the end, he'd hung out close to my friends' place, although unwanted by the other fixed cats, an enigma.  He was sick and wanted comfort, warmth and love.

So was this unfixed gray boy sick and was that why, in breeding season, he wasn't out roaming, and instead hanging out near the food and the mental comfort of my friends place?  I shrugged off the thought and set their trap, across the street, by the abandoned house.

The first cat to spring the trap was the cat abandoned by the people who'd lived there in that now junked house.  He's a black and white male gone slightly wild since he was left.  We took the other cat they left behind up to a Portland rescue.  She got a  home.  So before we released him, I dripped flea treatment on him, so at least he'd have relief from fleas. 

It took a long time for the gray male to show up and even longer then for him to decide to go into the trap, which was another red flag in my mind.  Why wasn't he jumping at a chance for smelly wet food?   He did go in, in the end.

I was ecstatic.  I had trapped a cat, the first in months, and felt warm and good and important and useful again. 

He stayed in my car the night.  I hadn't really thought about where he could be fixed.  I'd had a couple of beers up at my friends place and seeing an unfixed cat, it was like reflex to trap him.

I contacted the Willamette Humane spay neuter clinic, by phone and e-mail.  They would not be open until Tuesday.  Their website proclaimed their free feral fix reservations were full through the end of April.  I was disappointed to read that no appointments would be open, for the boy in my car, but also thrilled they have a free feral fix program.  For the people who help others by trapping the cats they feed to be fixed, this is a blessing.  I think to myself how wonderful and easy that would have been for me, if the program were available in these two counties, Linn and Benton, when I'd been rounding up cats.  The Willamette Humane program is for Polk and Marian counties.

Then a Heartland Humane employee commented on facebook that they were doing surgery the next day, yesterday.   Whoopee.   It does cost $40.  My friends said they would pay.  And for my gas to transport him.

I took him over yesterday morning and arrived to pick him up at 1:00 p.m.  I saw an empty trap as I came in the back door and my heart pounded.  But then I saw him, on the recovery table, breathing steady, out cold and freshly neutered.  But as I moved into the room, Courtney stopped me and said his combo test had just come out positive for leukemia.  My heart sank down into my ankles then drug along behind me on the floor.

I made small talk like I wasn't affected with this person and that person, paid the clerk for his end, the $40, and finally escaped to my car, where I broke down in sobs.  

His mouth too was a stinking reeking painful mess.  It was true he'd been hanging out close to my friends place, like the big Himilayan had, seeking some comfort when very ill.

I killed him, like I did the Himilayan.

I can wallow in self-pity and guilt, but it has nothing to do with reality.  He was fatally ill.  Both of them were.  And now they're not and they're not spreading that horrible disease to other cats either.

When I am ill, without hope for better days, I'd want the same thing for me.

When I was in Corvallis, I took the opportunity to shop at Winco for cat food.   It's no cheaper there than at Walmart but they have a bigger variety.  Going through checkout, I experienced the usual.  The clerk had to say something about all the cat food.  I try to brush it off in my mind each time.  It's usually either the clerk or the customers in line making comments.   I don't know why. It's unacceptable in our society to help stray cats.  You are considered a bizarre and crazy person if you do dare to help stray cats.

 If someone is buying a lot of soda pop or junk food, that does not illicit comments, but if you buy cat food, for some reason, it does.  If you are buying large amounts of alcohol, that's ok too.   Usually they want to know how many you have.  If I'm mad, about being interrogated, I'll say something rude back, like, "Oh, just 200, and none are fixed, they just breed like rabbits, you know."  I might be even ruder and say "they breed like welfare moms, you know,"  since welfare moms are also an accepted target of ridicule, like cat women.

You don't hear Crazy Gun People, about people who have a dozen or two dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammo stored up.  You don't hear Crazy Car People, about people who have five or ten cars, in various states of repair around their place.  You don't hear Crazy Sports Fan, about people wide eye nuts about some sports team, who collect  sports memorabilia and sit around watching games all weekend or who spend thousands on a single parking space for home games over at a parking lot near OSU or on home game season tickets.

But if some woman dares to help cats, then you hear it.  She's a CRAZY CAT LADY.  And it's ok to say that and put her down and make remarks and ask her how many she has and nothing else at all matters about her, if she likes cats and helps a stray cat out.  Then she's nuts and fair game.

So you go to a store to get cat food and you brace for it before you go.

I needed something feel good, to take my mind off everything in the world.  I've started meditation.   I do it now many times a day,  on days if my mind won't stop or when I wake up with nightmares.

I started a batch of Horchata.  I like Horchata.  I don't follow a specific recipe, just a general one in my head.  I use pulverized almonds.  I start with raw almonds, blanch them, remove the skins, toast them, then pulverize them in my coffee grinder.  That coffee grinder!  I love it.  It's also used here to process dried catnip.

I pulverize a cup of uncooked rice too, and join the almonds and rice with cinnamon in a blender, with three cups hot water, then I let it sit a day.  Or so.  Then I blend it again, some, add a couple cups more water and let it sit further.  Finally I strain it, extracting all the fluid from the mash, add a cup of water with a quarter cup sugar dissolved in it, and a couple teaspoons of vanilla.  I stick my finished Horchata in the fridge and drink it on ice.  I make many variations.

Finished Horchata cooling.

I eat the mash too, as a breakfast cereal.

Pulverized almonds and rice, now heating for breakfast.
 My next project, a batch of rice wine.  It's easy to make, also, but won't be ready for about a month.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Morn

To those who celebrate, Happy Easter.

I woke up early after sleeping a good share of yesterday.  Let's call it napping.  Sounds better.

Why not?  It was gray and cold and rainy and my right arm and hand were numb off and on, from inflammation, so I couldn't really do much else.

 Slinko finally sneaked a spot beside me on the bed.  Took awhile.  The guardians wanted him nowhere near me or the bed.  That's their domain.

He's got that let down look, like it was too easy and he's disappointed about that too.

Not my problem, Slinko.

 I watched the sky lighten to the east.  Today the weather is supposed to be sunny and warm.  Might get up near 70 degrees.  MIGHT!

Through my other window the moon was still out, shining bright through the neighbors' maple tree.

Cat Moon Tree
And who was watching me in the night?

Zeva, that's who.  Roof hopper.  It was dark out.  I lightened the photo so you can see her there, staring in at me, from the neighbors roof. 

So I played laser pointer with her from my bedroom window, and she darted around the neighbors roof after the red dot, which showed up well in the dark.  She whips her tail back and forth when she plays.

Guess what?  I woke up this morning to learn someone donated the last money needed to reach Cougie's fundraising goal, to completely pay off the cost of the surgery she had two weeks ago, that removed the last of her teeth.  Yippee!  I am so relieved.  Money is very tight these days, as most people know.  She's doing very well!

Speaking of toothless wonders, Gretal had her teeth out, all of them, in a series of dentals a few years back.  Look at her now!

  And then there's this.....

Friday, April 18, 2014


I am in recovery. No, I'm not talking about the economic recovery the nation is attempting.  I don't know much about all that.  I've been in survival mode for as long as I can recall, always scrambling for little things, reusing broken parts of this to fix that, and scrounging for free items I can put to use.  I am poor and always will be poor and things are getting bad, with gas prices skyrocketing and now food prices too.

I still scheme and dream.  Who doesn't?  I try to think up ways to better fund the care and feeding of the cats left here every single day.  I dream of travel or even just camping, but I'll never travel.  It takes money.  It's just reality.  I'm stuck here, in this city I don't like much, probably for the rest of my life.  At least, in this brilliant age, I can travel through google maps, although their latest version update, is tragically, shit.  I can travel through the eyes and experiences of other ordinary people, with cameras and blogs.

I love the people of this area.  I just don't like the town, devoid of any recreation or nature, and quite a distance from available recreation.  I suppose that too is the reality of ending up in a freeway town.

My car has too many miles and my pockets are empty. Even camping is beyond my financial capacity, due to the gas of travel and the cost of campsites.

Food price increases are shocking and scary.  I probably won't have internet when this deal I've got from Comcast runs its course.  Comcast isn't going to decrease prices.  Only in my dreams, eh?  That's no fun to think about, but that, too, is reality.

The recovery I am talking about is from the deaths of Electra and Hairy.   It makes me sad to lose friends.  I know lots of humans, but I rarely see any humans.   People I know are so far away, or just online friends.  So my cat friends are my rocks of support in an otherwise pretty barren landscape.  It hurts to lose them.

I try to stay busy.  Yesterday, I took the legs off the old brown table I'd moved into the second bedroom once I moved the big bed out and flipped it.  I'd already created new tall legs for the "high bed" I intended to make from the old table, out of boards I had in the garage.  I had to splint them together to achieve equal height for all four.  Two of those boards used to support the big bed I just gave away.

The cats needed something in the second bedroom.  So I attached the tall legs I made, with the table on the floor.  Then, I attempted to flip the whole thing upright.  Was not easy.  I was straining with it partially hoisted upright and thought about just letting go.   But I hung on, and got it on its feet.  Once it was partially lifted onto its new legs, there was no turning back. It would have fallen on me, if I'd let go. And finally, it was up.

I made a lower shelf of the table's third leaf, that had been in the garage, used in the garage cat room cage, as a bed shelf, for awhile, then as a weather barricade outside, in the yard.  Now it's got a new life as a shelf again on something else.

I can tell you factually that some things do experience reincarnation.  LOL.
That's my old brown table, way up top, flipped upside down.  It's third leaf is that shelf with the two carriers on it.

The cats loved this instantly, unlike the cat wheel, still unused and unappreciated.   But it was the regulars here who took it over immediately, and the Lebanon colony cats were mostly shoved out.  You can see Vino there, in the photo if you look close.  He's sleeping on the yellow blanket between the two carriers on the lower shelf.

For the most part, since the big bed left and disrupted the security of the Lebanon cats whose main living space was the second bedroom, they have moved out and occupied other areas, which has caused some tension.  I knew I needed to make cat furniture for the second bedroom as soon as I could.

Mona Lisa, a.k.a. Owly, is petite, curious and has those huge eyes!

Mona Lisa and other colony cats on cat runs in the living room.

I continue to look for safe permanent homes for cats here including for Slinko.  Slinko got in bad with Slurpy and Starry to begin with, and Starry won't let him on the bed nights, in revenge.  He really wants to sleep on the bed nights, with me, but first impressions last, and he wasn't nice to Slurpy when he first decided to come in the house and Starry has not forgiven him his behavior towards her best friend.  She is not going to risk him on the bed, not until he really makes up for his previous sins.

Slow Friday, worn out from all the heavy work yesterday.  Woke up with my right arm and hand completely numb from inflammation in my shoulder.  No work today, have to rest up.

I'm going to create a memorial space for friends lost.  I'm not sure where it will be yet.  I think it will help in recovery.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Goodbye Very Hairy Hairy

 I lost my baby Hairy today.  It was his time.  He came here four years ago.  Someone trapped him in Corvallis, because he was sneaking into their house wanting food.  He was feral, but already had a right ear tip, indicating someone, maybe me, had gotten him fixed at some point in his life.  He was taken to Heartland Humane in Corvallis.  Heartland called me, hoping to find him a safe haven, so he would not have to be euthanized.  So I took Hairy.

He briefly went up to Wilsonville, and was to be placed as a feral, but that did not work out, and I retrieved him.  Here, he thrived, had friends, loved the cat yard and cat runs and, of course, the food.  Hairy loved his vittles.  He was the first to the plate always for wet food and loved cat treats.

Almost a year ago, Hairy began a decline.  He was peeing too much and slowly began to lose weight.  He was still acting feral so I could only give him fluids when I could.  After a vet visit last October, I began serious fluid therapy for him, and he did very well for a long while, although I had to gradually increase the amounts he received.

After that vet visit, Hairy moved inside the house, rather than where he had mostly remained, in the garage cat room and cat yard.  He had decided he'd rather be a total house cat, and also began following me around like a dog, giving a course old fart croaky meow, until I petted him.  Whenever he was awake he followed me and he was just so darn cute in his crusty way. 

Hairy was so hairy with a thick fine undercoat that matted severely I took to clipping him several times a year.  He had allowed this even when "acting" feral.  And it was an act. 

But after the last clipping, last fall, his coat never grew back in.  I knew that was not a good sign either.

Kidney failure results in an inability to regulate stomach acid and often ulcerations in the mouth esophagus, stomach and intestinal tract.  Hairy began to vomit blood.  When it became severe, this last week, along with an inability to give him enough sub cu fluids to keep him hydrated (300 cc a day was not even enough), I knew this was not good.  Today Heartland helped Hairy from his suffering.   They said, looking at his teeth, he was very very old, far older than I had thought.

Hairy, you crotchety crusty old guy, I loved you so.  Glad to have known you.  Glad you graced the cat house here.  Goodbye my friend.  Happy trails.

Hairy with half his haircut one year.  The clip jobs would get tiring, for him and me, and my cheap clippers would heat up so bad they wouldn't work after awhile.  So the clip job usually was a two day affair or more.

Bloody vomit from this morning.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Total Eclipse of the.....(not heart)

Lunar Eclipse tonight.  Wouldn't you know, after all these sunny days with clear nights, tonight the clouds rolled in, completely obscuring the night sky 12 minutes before totality.  Darn it.

I took photos with my camera, hand held, no less, no tripod, since the battery compartment broke a couple years back and I had to do a rig fix, which covers the tripod mount screw in.  The best three I got are above, the rest, below.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Perfect Day

What a day, gorgeous and glorious!

I never left my place, but I enjoyed the 75 degree day of sun to the maximum!

Perfect weather!

A little late, with sun waning, I took a few photos.

The little apple tree is blooming.

Catnip is growing strong.

Meesa catching rays in the under eaves cat run.

Oci enjoying the sun in the window box.
Guess who?
Trouble, that's who!


I see stories all the time, about women who are assaulted or abused, in all kinds of ways, because some man can't control himself.  I've gone through my share of that.

When I lived in the shack in Corvallis, I used to go into a local hardware store there, to buy stamps, because they had a post office outlet and because the employees were friendly.  I joked with them and felt it was a friendly safe store.  Until one day.....

They knew I helped cats.  That's about all they knew about me I think, other than that I was poor and pretty much alone.  I stood in line that day to get stamps.  The employee working the post office looked furtive.  He had straight longish hair that sometimes looked greasy and a mustache and was skinny.

When it was my turn, he didn't want to sell stamps.  He said he needed a favor and needed to talk to me about it right now out behind the store.  His eyes were red, like he was hungover or something and he was nervous.  I figured it must be a cat issue, because I didn't know him other than chatting with him at the store every now and then.

He left his post office station and we went behind the store.  It was there I got the shock of my life.  He claimed he had some military reunion coming up and he wanted me to go out to some godforsaken lake with him, that night, and take photos of him in the nude or in his underwear, as a bet, that he could get some woman to do that, for his reunion.  I was shocked.  He claimed he couldn't do it at his mothers' house, where he lived, because she wouldn't approve.

I realized very quickly this wasn't about taking photos of him in his undies, that his furtiveness and nervousness meant he was probably either going to rape me or hand me over to someone he owed something to, to be raped or worse, way out there, at that Kings Valley lake in the dark.

A horrible sinking wave overwhelmed me.  I had thought these employees were friendly, nice people, but instead, he saw me as someone to take advantage of, someone without anybody who cared about her, so a target.

Betrayal.  Not just by this employee, but by all those who worked there.

Rage then overcame me.  I stormed inside and around the store, demanded to see the manager, and told him what had happened.  He was trying to keep me quiet so other customers wouldn't hear me.  He claimed he would take care of it.

I got home and called the police.  Later on, the store manager called me.  He was the son or son in law, can't remember which, of a local county politician, who owned the store.  The manager told me he had talked to the chief of police, whom he knew, and he made sure I knew that the police chief and he were tight, and that she had told him I was a mental patient and not to worry about it.  He told me any fear I had of that employee or of what had gone on, was just a mental issue.  I went ballistic.

The employee wasn't fired, though he admitted to everything.  I realized my mistake was not to file a complaint with the post office, since he was working in the post office outlet in the store, when he did that.

I went into the store to buy stamps and the employee working the post office station, pulls me out of line, leaving other customers standing there, to urgently take me behind the store to ask me to take photos of him, in his undies out at some remote lake in the dark?   Really?  Any store manager or owner with any ethics at all immediately fires a guy who does that.  Instead, the fact I was in the mental system was used to shove me under the mat, with the help of the chief of police.  What a bunch of hypocritical dickheads.

I finally called the CARDV helpline over it.  CARDV is the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence.  I told them the whole story.  The woman on the line said she wasn't really surprised, that an exchange student had been raped or something close to it by a local high level well known and got no justice and instead was sent back to her home country quickly.

But a while later, the hardware store went under and closed and I couldn't have been happier.  At least a little Karma got them.

I was badly affected by the experience.  To this day, it haunts me at times.  Not only the betrayal of trust, or the knowledge of what would have become of me, had I been talked into obliging this freak, but that nobody cared there, and that the store owner, the democratic politician, apparently held beliefs only in word, and his actions were a different story completely.

Stories about women in the news bring back this memory like it happened yesterday.