The Life of an Artiste and Cat H—, Part II

I’m collapsed on the bed at the Holiday Inn Express in downtown Fort Worth. I am tired.

Between sentence #1 and sentence #2, I stopped and tried to scrape a little black bug off the side of the monitor–it was at the very edge of the screen, and I had no idea where it came from but knew it would somehow scoot under the chrome and stick there, halfway in, halfway out, forever, and look awful and drive me crazy–and then I realized the little black bug was the little black cursor arrow thingy. That is how tired I am.

A bottle of Heinz Ketchup.
A bottle of Heinz Ketchup. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) by I Tinton5 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

We just returned from Pappadeaux, where I wanted to order crawfish etouffee but ordered fried oysters instead, even though I sort of remembered I didn’t like them the last time we were at Pappadeaux. I ordered wrong because once upon a time I loved oysters, but also because David ordered them, and I’m always sure if I don’t order what other people get, I’ll be sorry. While he was cleaning my plate, I told him that the next time we go to Pappadeaux he’s to demand I order the etouffee, and to remind me why.

A digression: I know Pappadeaux is a higher-class joint than we normally frequent, but still, there’s something radically wrong with any restaurant that serves a plate heaped with french fries and oysters without providing a big bottle of Heinz ketchup. If they’re concerned about appearances, they could remove it when it’s not in use. Those little dabs of ketchup they serve just don’t do.

Anyway, against all odds, we got to Fort Worth. It happened in this wise:

First, David lay on the bed upstairs and coughed once in a while and then asked William to come out, and William did. David carried him downstairs and put him into the carrier. William banged against the sides of the carrier so hard I thought he would break out. David took him to the vet.

Upon hearing William banging, Ernest scooted upstairs. I remained where I was and kept on writing. David came home and sat down. He said he guessed we might not make it to the festival. I said we would. (I’m a pessimist who lies a lot.)

I got tired of sitting, so I went upstairs, closed the bedroom door behind me, lay down on the floor, and looked under the bed. It took a few moments, but Ernest’s big eyes finally became visible. I wished, as I do every time he hides under there, that the bed weren’t queen-sized. And that it weren’t built so low to the ground. Why do they do that?

David brought me the leash we never use, and I tossed one end toward Ernest and pulled it slowly back, over and over, as if I believed he would actually chase it so I could grab him. David brought me the meter stick. David lay on the bed, ready to pounce. I lay down on the other side of the bed and poked around and obviously made contact, because Ernest shot out the other side. David pounced. Before they made it to the carrier, Ernest freed himself from David’s clutches. Ernest is muscly.

 

We followed Ernest downstairs and tried to flush him out from behind our recliners (which are joined by a cat bed ingeniously constructed from a straight-backed chair, a double-decker end table, and a piano bench that needs to be reglued, topped with a variety of pillows and a quilt (you have to be there). He got past me and ran upstairs, where all bedroom and bathroom doors had been closed. Oops!

David went up after him. Ernest ran down, got past me, ran behind recliners/cat bed, ran back upstairs… several times.

Desperate, David dragged the double-decker bed over and placed it at the foot of the stairs. I added to the barricade with cardboard boxes, suitcases, and the red-and-black tote I got at Malice Domestic 2015, which had my laptop in it. While I was barricading, David brought the carrier back downstairs (it went up and down several times during the morning) and set it atop the double-decker cat bed. Then he went back up for Ernest, somehow got hold of him, and carried him down. Jubilation ensued.

Ha!

David was lowering Ernest into the carrier when I saw the opportunity to help: Ernest was doing the I’m-going-to-spread-my-hind-legs-so-far-apart-you’ll-never-get-me-into-that-thing, so I reached over to squeeze them closer together. I don’t know exactly what happened then or why, but I ended up with a great big hind-cat-toenail lodged in my arm. I had to grab his foot to free my arm.

But somewhere in the chaos, Ernest ended up in the carrier, I stuck three Neosporin-covered bandaids on my arm–tiny bandaids, I couldn’t find any regular ones–and we scooped up carrier and bags and headed for the vet’s, and made it in time to leave at our ETD of 12:02 p.m. and arrive at the hotel at our ETA of 4:10 p.m.

Our original ETD and ETA were 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively, but because we prize flexibility, we’ve mentioned the changes only once. That was when David said we would have to take the Texas 130 toll road because at noon IH-35 between Austin and Georgetown is a parking lot.

Well, we’re here, and David’s film runs at 10:00 a.m., so I’ll sign off. I expect to sleep well. The morning workout was so invigorating, I don’t know why I haven’t already passed out.

If I don’t sleep, it’ll be from guilt. I poked my dear, sweet Ernest with a meter stick. I’d never done that, never expected to do that, and, now that I’ve had time to think about it, I feel pretty awful. I scared him. And I did it so he wouldn’t be home all weekend, alone and scared. How dumb is that.

David @ the Lionshead Film Festival, Dallas, July 8, 2017

He’ll get me for it. He’ll give me sad, dirty looks for several days. He’ll boycott me. He’ll never allow either David or me to lay a hand on him ever again, so we’ll never get him into a carrier, and consequently, I’ll never get out of Austin ever again. David will go to all the film festivals by himself, and he’ll come home with stories of camaraderie and whooping it up* in big cities like Beaumont and Conway, Arkansas, and I’ll smile and pretend I’m happy for him. And Ernest will sit between us on the chair-piano-bench-double-decker-end-table-cat-bed and look at me and smirk.

Few things are more maddening than a smirking cat.

***

Our film festival experiences haven’t included any whooping up, but I can imagine.

The Life of the Artiste or, Being a Cat Owner is H—

We’re on our way to the Fort Worth Indie Film Festival.

All we have to do is get William and Ernest into the carriers and haul them to the vet’s. They watched us pack, said, “We may be crazy, but we ain’t stupid,” and crawled under the bed. This is why one shouldn’t go to film festivals two weekends in a row–cats remember.

An open can of salmon rests on the post at the foot of the stairs. Unfortunately, salmon isn’t as stinky as used to be, and some cats cannot be bribed.

Tired

David is about to try to pull William out from under the bed. Since William needs insulin, his cooperation is critical. Ernest has never been left alone–he’s always had either parents or brother–so his cooperation is critical, too. Scared, lonely cats are scared and lonely, and that worries me, and they sometimes do things to furniture that I don’t want them to do, and that worries me as well. Ernest produces a lot of adrenaline on short notice. After hearing William in crisis, he may stay under the bed for a week, absorbing nutrients from the air.

I hear David upstairs, speaking softly, cajoling, babytalking, being generally sneaky.

We may be on our way to the Fort Worth Film Festival. At present, I am not optimistic, but we persevere….

When I suggested setting the salmon on the post, David said wouldn’t it fall off. I said no. He just came bopping downstairs and knocked it off the post. He’s now cleaning up the mess. It didn’t fall on the carpet. As I said, salmon is not as stinky as it used to be. Water-packed salmon doesn’t taste as good as salmon packed in oil, but next time I shop, I’ll buy the water.

Just wo-ahn out

David has progressed from cloth towel to paper towels and Simple Green. He said Ernest is watching him from the landing. He said Ernest is coming down. It’s not the salmon, it’s curiosity. Here he is! It is the salmon. He’s snuffing and thinking about licking the floor. I hope Simple Green is good for cats. If it isn’t, the vet can take care of it, if we get to the vet.

I turned on “Remington Steele” in hopes the felines will think we’re watching. I’m using the Chromebook so Ernest will be jealous and jump into my lap, as he spends seven days a week doing, except today. Maybe I need to get the laptop out of the suitcase.

He’s on his way back up the stairs. David has gone back upstairs. Ernest came back downstairs. He’s behind my chair. He’s looking at me. He jumped onto the arm of the chair! I rubbed his tummy. He jumped down and is now examining the site of the salmon spill. Now he’s going back upstairs.

David has been upstairs for a long time. He and William are usually kindred spirits, but not right now.

I have not yet begun to weep. But I’m close.

This blog is titled, “Telling the Truth–Mainly.” That comes from Huckleberry Finn. Mr. Mark Twain told the truth, mainly. I am telling the truth, period. Everything I’ve written happened or is happening. Really.

I am becoming disheartened, so I shall stop and concentrate on sending harmonious vibrations to the floor above.

I really, really want to go to this festival.

The life of the artiste is not an easy one.

***

Some people live calm, uneventful lives. Things work. They make plans and carry them out. They write about grammar and cooking and astrophysics. What am I doing wrong?

David is talking babytalk again.

If we had a dog, we’d be in Waco by now.

The Davises, Dieting

The Davises are dieting.

We discovered William’s blood sugar was running high. The veterinarian prescribed an increase in insulin dosage. To pinpoint the cause–he may have become insulin resistant; I may have been giving his injections incorrectly–we need better data.

When his diabetes was diagnosed, we switched to a special brand of catfood but, on the vet’s instructions, didn’t try to limit intake. William ate a reasonable amount and lost a few pounds, and seemed to be doing well.

Now, however, we’ve instituted a new regime: breakfast and injection at 6:00 a.m.; dinner and injection at 6:00 p.m. No more grazing. Food stays out for three hours, then disappears. Eat now, or forever hold your peace.

In human terms, I suppose it’s sort of like going on Weight Watchers. Suddenly and involuntarily. Times two, because Ernest has been grazing right along with his compadre.

And they did not hold their peace.

The guys started out eating the usual breakfast portions and, consequently, were lobbying for dinner before 1:00 p. m. When they would usually have been upstairs sleeping, they milled around the kitchen, parked in the middle of the living room, stared at us with their big sad eyes, and licked their little chops.

One day, William jumped into my lap three separate times. He rarely does that, and although I enjoyed the attention, I knew his motives were not pure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of nights ago I caught David offering Ernest one last chance at calorie-loading. To the uninformed, it seems a kindly gesture. In reality, it’s pure self-preservation: two hungry cats equals eight pointy feet stomping back and forth across us until the clock strikes six.

And the guilt, the guilt . . .

But things are improving. There’s more napping, less milling, less stomping, less nervous energy in general. We keep tabs on the water intake and watch to make sure William doesn’t become hypoglycemic. In a few days, he’ll go back to the doctor for a glucose test. And the vet will advise us on the next step.

And whatever that is, we’ll trying.

On they page, they may come off as kind of wimpy. But the Davis guys are a couple of pretty tough cats.

Just Enough

William visited the vet Monday to assess the efficacy of the weight loss program he began in December.

DSCN0081
Christmas 2014: William, Ernest, their rug, their welcome mat, their mice, bits of cardboard from their scratch lounge. © MKWaller

Before continuing, I’ll note the difference between this visit and the one last December: On Monday, David took William for his checkup, and a good time was had by all. In December, I took him, and he bit me, and I had to go the emergency clinic so my arm wouldn’t fall off.  And the vet tech was doing the same thing to him both times. But I needed a tetanus shot anyway.

To resume–I wasn’t surprised when David reported there had been no efficacy at all.

For the past three months, we’ve fed the guys less, and better quality, cat food, but William’s waistline hasn’t shrunk. Neither has Ernest’s, and he could stand some shrinkage, too. They rarely ate all they were fed. But even less food was too much.

Solution: No more grazing. No more nocturnal snacking. When they finish a meal, food disappears. That’s it. No more. Nada.

Today we began serious dieting. Breakfast was served between 10:00 a.m. and noon. (I got a late start, so they did, too.) They left half uneaten. I trashed it. Dinner would be served at 6:00

In the early afternoon, they appeared in the living room. Ernest did his usual thing–positioned his posterior on the arm of the recliner and propped his front end on my shoulder, then tried to scooch the rest of the way across and drape himself over the rest of me. I can’t see the keyboard that way, so I did my usual thing and resisted.

But William did the unusual–he sat in front of my chair and stared at me.

Christmas 2014: William's dish.
Christmas 2014: William’s dish. © MKWaller

By mid-afternoon, I felt like a swimmer in a shark tank. I typed, they circled. Then both sat and stared. Then they sashayed back and forth from me to the empty dishes.William meowed. Most days he speaks only to Ernest and to David, and in a conversational tone. My meow sounded like a cuss word.

I promised their papá would serve dinner at the appointed time.

An hour later, the situation had worsened . They trotted around the house at my heels. They emitted faint little mews: “Please, sir, may I have some more?”

I truly sympathized. I felt their pain. I suggested they do something to take their minds off their stomachs. That’s what I do.

Such as, once about a zillion years ago, when I was in the third week of a medically supervised liquid fast, I took my mind off my stomach by feeding the sad, hungry stray dog that had occupied the garage for a week, thus ensuring I would feed him the next day, and the next, and every day after that for the rest of his life.

(And to put minds at ease, I’ll add that what the other participants in the program and I commonly called a fast was not the kind Gandhi went on, that doctors were in charge, that I was adequately fed, and, after the third week, not hungry, and that I never felt so good in my life as I did during the seven months I lived on 520 calories a day. There is nothing so energizing as a ketosis high.)

Well, anyway, the guys pooh-poohed the stray dog idea and kept on channeling Oliver Twist.

I couldn’t stand it. “Three bites, I will give each of you three bites. That’s it. Three bites.”

Ernest vacuumed up his bites as soon as they hit the dish. William sat on his haunches, looked at the kibble, looked at Ernest, looked at the kibble, looked at me. I’ve known for a long time that William is passive aggressive.

DSCN0051
Christmas 2014: Ernest’s dish. © MKWaller

Finally I said something like, “Eat the (*$))T(#@^&^ food.” I don’t approve of strong language, but I was trying to hold Ernest back from invading William’s territory and scarfing down a total of six bites. Cussing seemed right. Especially since William had already cussed at me.

When he was ready, William ate, slowly and daintily. He then padded into the living room and lay down on his rug. Poor old Ernest kept on begging. His metabolism is faster than William’s. He moves around more. Sometimes it seems William has no metabolism at all.

And that’s what makes this kitty diet challenging–two cats, different needs. Could I try feeding them on opposite sides of a closed door?

Not unless I want the door to be shredded. Which I don’t.

It’s now nearly midnight. Two kitty dishes sit on the kitchen floor. They’ve been there for four hours, too long, really. One is empty. The other appears untouched.

Ernest just ate a bit more and now sits on his rug, washing his face. William sits there washing his feet. I don’t know when he last partook.

I wish I could make them understand that soon I will remove both dishes. When they want their midnight, or whenever, snack, it won’t be there.

I don’t want them to overeat. I want them to satisfy their nutritional needs. I want them to eat enough. Just enough.

Just enough to keep them from goose stepping all over me in the middle of the night.

Just enough to stave off hunger pangs so I may wake in the morning, all by myself, refreshed, no cat standing on the pillow batting at my nose.

Just enough. Oh, sure.

Fat chance.

William Bit Me

William bit me at the vet,
Didn’t like the aide’s assistance,
Used his claws and fangs to set
On the path of most resistance.
Say I’m teary, say I’m mad,
Say that pills and needles hit me,
Say my arm’s inflamed, and add,
William bit me.

IMG_2679 (3)

 

***

Jane Carlyle, wife of philosopher Thomas Carlyle, was not a demonstrative woman. But one day when writer Leigh Hunt arrived for a visit, Jane jumped up from her chair, ran across the room, and kissed him. Surprised and delighted, Hunt memorialized the event in a poem: “Jenny Kissed Me.”

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

###

My apologies to Mr. Hunt and Mrs. Carlyle. I mean no disrespect. I couldn’t have written the parody if I didn’t love the poem.

Excelsior! – Yeah, Right

(Excelsior: a Latin word meaning loftier,
used in English as an interjection meaning Ever upward)
***
 
The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, ‘mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,
      Excelsior!
 
His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,
      Excelsior!
 
“Try not the Pass!” the old man said;
“Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!”
And loud that clarion voice replied,
      Excelsior!
 
In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,
      Excelsior!

“Oh stay,” the maiden said, “and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast! “
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,
      Excelsior!

***
A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,
      Excelsior!
 
There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star,
      Excelsior!
 
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 
***
 

IMG_2677I should have posted a list of resolutions on January 1.

I should have said, In 2014, I will write a blog post every day and write one short story a month and submit it for publication and finish my novel and query agents and sign with one and impress a publisher so much that he will offer a 6-book contract and an enormous advance to publish the novel and will pay for a coast-to-coast book tour and I will graciously accept and while waiting for the book tour I will lose 800 pounds and finish my second novel and I will reduce clutter and I will run a marathon and I will read Moby Dick and all of Henry James’ novels and I will learn to cook and will put a tasty and nutritious dinner on the table every night and I will read a book a week and will practice the piano and take voice lessons and a conversational Spanish class and I will, by January 1, 2015, be such a paragon of perfection that I will never have to make another New Year’s resolution ever again.

But all this week, I’ve been in a beastly mood, just waiting for some unsuspecting person to do something nice so I could switch on my evil eye, and that feeling was compounded when Ernest ate six inches of ribbon that was hanging from David’s birthday balloon, which we didn’t think he could reach but were we ever wrong, and then I stayed up two nights watching him for symptoms before delivering him to the emergency clinic Wednesday night and at dawn Thursday picked him up and delivered him to his regular doctor, who this afternoon said so far he seemed okay and probably just needed to come home and move around and relax because he’d been sort of frozen up, not because he was scared but because he didn’t like the people there, from which description I gather he was in a beastly mood, too.

To make a long post short, I don’t want to write about resolutions, much less make them, and even worse, I don’t want to spend 2014 striving to become a better and more productive person.

I want to recline in a vat of chocolate.

Anyway, to show I’m still a good person even though I don’t want to be, I’ll share this post from Totsymae: 9 Rules on How to Be Fabulous in 2014.

Nobody knows more about being fabulous than Totsymae, and I’m not talking everyday, garden variety fabulous. (To wit: Rule 1. Carry breath mints.)

I’ll be back in a day or two and maybe then I’ll have something more edifying to impart.

 

The Perfect 10

We got the official word today: William weighs nearly 19 pounds. To my sorrow, the veterinarian said he’s not overweight–he’s just enormous.

Español: Rudolf Nureyev, gran bailarín ruso, h...
Español: Rudolf Nureyev, gran bailarín ruso, haciendo un “Entrechat l´air” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sorry because I had hoped she would put him on a diet, reduce him by two or three pounds, and thus save me several visits to the massage therapist. Lugging his carrier from house to car and from car to receptionist’s desk has more than once resulted in parts of my sacroiliac going AWOL.

Quasimodo
Quasimodo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It happens every time we board them: We stuff the cats into their crates. David carries Ernest; I carry William. Four hours later, changing planes in Atlanta (or Charlotte or Chicago or Houston or New York City or Seattle), David hoofs it down the concourse like a cross between Rudolph Nureyev and Roger Bannister, and I limp along twenty yards behind, Quasimodo dragging a carry-on.

And since William has been pronounced a perfect 10, so I will continue.

When I left him at the vet’s this morning, I wasn’t convinced he was  healthy. He’d had a minor tummy problem, one the Internet had assured us was probably nothing to worry about. But when it’s your kid, or your cat, you worry anyway, at least a little.

The doctor, however, agreed with the Internet. The cause of his ailment isn’t clear, but it falls under the heading of “Sometimes Cats Do That.” We hauled him home. He’s happy to be back with Ernest and has said he might someday forgive me.

We also hauled antibiotic (1/4 tablet, twice daily, use a syringe to keep fingers out of danger), oral paste (1 dose twice daily, wait 30 minutes after administering antibiotic, just push it through his teeth), and a week’s worth of dry and canned catfood (gastroenteric). Both cats will eat the food. There’s no way we can separate them at dinner time, which lasts 24 hours.

William was a gentleman while in the examining room, which is more than I can say for him at the beginning of the expedition. He squalled from door to door and kept up the screeching even after being deposited in the vet’s reception room next to a pit bull awaiting vaccination. When Ernest sees a dog, he clams up and concentrates on making himself invisible. William says All Places Are Alike to Him, and if the dog objects to his caterwauling, he can just get over it. That’s the same message he gave me when I tried to shush him.

The vet asked one question that still hangs between David and me, unanswered: “Has William been under any stress?”

We discussed it over dinner at the Magnolia. David has been under stress. Ernest has been under stress (Ernest has an overly active fight-or-flight response). I have been under such stress that I couldn’t even put a meal on the table this evening.

But stress and William don’t move in the same circles.

Except once. Less than a week after William became part of our family, Ernest developed a severe gastrointestinal upset and had to stay at the hospital. The next morning, William stopped eating (unheard of), ran a high fever, and became lethargic. He lay unmoving in my lap. Almost catatonic, no pun intended. I raced him to the vet. She checked him out and then put him in the cage with Ernest.

Six hours later, when I called for an update, William’s temperature was normal and he was “eating like a horse.” All better. He just needed his brother.

But for the past three years, William has been serene. He’s not reactive. At times I wonder whether he even has reflexes.

Only two stimuli energize him: his partner in crime, and his toys.

At present, William lies across the room from me, his back turned. He knows he’s supposed to swallow 1/4 tablet before bedtime. He remembers I’m going to push oral paste through his teeth. He knows he’s nowhere near critical condition. He knows I know it.

He’s waiting me out, hoping I lose my nerve.

Frankly, my dear, his plan is working. I’m going to bed.

And as for the inevitable showdown, I’ll think about it tomorrow.

*****

Note: I shan’t really continue lugging William to the kennel. In future, I have dibs on Ernest. He weighs in at 16 pounds.

I do miss my petite lady cats.

*****

Image of Rudolph Nureyev vy hugocambiasso.com.ar (hugocambiasso.com.ar) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

My Writing Day: Extremism in Defense of Liberty

Ernest

Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, stresses the importance of both writing and playing. At the WLT Summer Writing Retreat, Karleen Koen reminded students of Cameron’s Artist’s Date—a weekly solo “adventure” to feed the soul and allow for continued creativity.

Since leaving the retreat, I’ve been thinking about possibilities for my Artist’s Dates. A visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a candidate, though it’ll probably wait until spring. Central Texas affords plenty of potential for adventure.

But having just returned from a week-long Artist’s Date, I decided to concentrate first on writing.

I designated yesterday, my first day out of post-retreat depression, a day for writing.

Here’s how it went:

I rose at a reasonable hour and prepared to leave for my coffee-shop office.

William with books and printer. By kathywaller1
William with books and printer

Downstairs, doling out catfood, I realized that in the half-hour I’d been up, I’d seen no cats. This had never happened. William often sleeps late, but Ernest is up with the chickens and frequently makes sure I am, too.

I called, ran upstairs, searched, called. William, draped across his pagoda, opened his eyes and blinked but offered no opinion as to Ernest’s whereabouts.

I ran downstairs, called, searched, dropped to my knees and peered under furniture. I ran back upstairs, etc.

Finally dropping in the right place, I found Ernest under the bed. He was sitting in that compact way cats have, with all his feet neatly tucked in. His look wasn’t warm and welcoming. When I tried to drag him out, he wriggled loose and ran into the hall and thence into the guest room and under that bed.

At that point, I remembered a get-well card I sent my great-aunt Bettie: On the front was a drawing of an orange-striped cat, looking bored, and saying, “Feeling poorly? Do as I do.” Inside, it said, “Crawl under the porch.”

We had no porch, so Ernest crawled under the next best thing.

I put batteries in the flashlight and girded my loins. Negotiating the guest room is not a task for the faint of heart. There’s stuff in there.

Back on my hands and knees, aka standing on my head, I again located Ernest. He was lying, neatly tucked, in the corner near the wall. Stretching out on the carpet, I reached under and scratched his ears. He didn’t protest. His big green eyes, however, told me I’d better not make any sudden moves.

I didn’t.

Then I did.

Ernest is heavy and muscular. His twenty toes are tipped with talons. He has teeth.

Barry Goldwater, U.S. Senator (AZ-R)
Barry Goldwater, U.S. Senator (AZ-R) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Barry Goldwater, he believes extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

I believe in keeping as much of my blood as possible on the inside of my skin.

I also believe extremism in the pursuit of getting my children to the veterinarian is a necessary evil. This evil was necessary.

Ernest suffers from what might be termed a sluggish constitution, which is aggravated by his habit of putting foreign objects into his mouth. And swallowing them. Mainly bits of string and thread. They don’t have to be on the floor. He pokes around on tables and steals anything that strikes his fancy.

The first time he withdrew from society, two years ago, I had to authorize X-rays, ultrasound, and a simple procedure he really really didn’t like. It seemed best, this time, to seek medical attention before a minor problem became major.

Well, to summarize: Ernest hid under the bed from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. I spent a goodly portion of that time supine on the floor trying to regain his trust. I spent the rest of the time downstairs, sneezing my head off because of all the dust bunnies under there with him.

In desperation, I took his jingly collar, the one he refuses to wear, and lay down by the bed and jingled at him. He purred and gnawed on the collar. Then he flopped over onto his back and I administered belly rubs. He had a lovely time. I went back downstairs and sneezed until my throat was raw. Then I coughed. I couldn’t stop coughing.

Having neither cough drops nor unexpired cough medicine, I poured a tiny bit of some extremely aged Jim Beam (my mother bought it to put on her Christmas applesauce cakes over twenty years ago) into a glass and added the dregs of David’s hummingbird sugar and drank it from a spoon. The first sip tasted pretty bad, and it didn’t do much for the cough, but by the time I was finished sipping, my concern for Ernest had eased considerably.

Anyway, as I sat in the living room taking my medicine, Ernest appeared downstairs. He sashayed into the kitchen. I heard him crunch two or three bites of food. Then he doubled back. Sneak that I am, I lured into my lap. Then I grabbed him and stuffed him into the waiting crate and headed for the vet’s.

Ernest protested, of course, at first. But as soon as the two big dogs in the vet’s waiting room charged up to his crate to pant hello, he decided confinement had its advantages and shut up.

Getting his weight was the first order of business. I was not surprised to learn he weighs 17 pounds. My spine had already intimated I would be making a trip to the chiropractor in short order.

After some poking and prodding and determining this was indeed the result of ingesting thread, and addressing that problem, the doctor said cats like linear objects. I said I’d noticed.

He gave me three choices: take him home and give him meds and watch him for 24 hours; leave him there for meds and the procedure he really really doesn’t like and pick him up at 5:00 p.m.; or be referred to another vet for X-rays because he’s moving his office up the street and his machine was all to pieces.

He said choice #1 would have been fine for his cat, but I told him I liked choice #2. Leaving Ernest would ensure he was unclogged. If I took him home and he crawled under the bed again, I might never get him out.

I hated sentencing him to a procedure. But if he hadn’t eaten something unacceptable, he wouldn’t have been in this fix.

As agreed, David and I picked Ernest up at 5:00 p.m., bought a tube of Laxatone, and hauled him home. He’s fine now, thank you, and appears to have forgiven me. I assume the scratch I got trying to remove him from my person in the middle of last night was unintentional.

That is the story of my day set aside for writing.

I’m trying to decide whether it qualifies as an Artist’s Date.

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