Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saving A Cat's Life on Halloween

We've been wanting to update the blog, but life has a way of intervening. Not always with fodder, but with simply having nothing to say. Then, things happen. Roger starts his third (of eight) round of chemo. He has good days and bad, but mostly good. We celebrate. Then, the sun rises, and it's a beautiful Sunday morning.

One day you notice the cat is acting weird. Well, really how can you tell when a supremely weird cat has crossed the line yet again? He won't jump on to the bed. He stops eating. He walks around with his back hunched and curved. His purrs are reduced to minimum.
So on Halloween morning you wake up and wonder: Is Bonsai dying? He's always been a sick boy. He has grand mal seizures whenever he sleeps deeply. He falls off the bed in the middle of the night: THUD. He does front-roll tumbles when he runs over the uneven earth. But it's more than the sum of his cuckoo parts. He has stopped defecating and urinating. That's a pretty profound sign.

So on Halloween Sunday, you find an emergency veterinary hospital and make a phone call, repeat most of what has been written here and ask if he should be seen. They say, "Absolutely, bring him in." We drive half way to Sacramento, about 40 miles to the Sunday-open hospital. It's a truly grand place. Nine acres. Solar-powered. Staffed by kind and smart people. We feel safe in the bosom of their stunning efficiency.

They take him in. We go wait in the car for their report. We've packed our requisite comfort food: English Breakfast Tea and toast (on this trip it is a dark rye with brie and jam). We walk around their nine acres, laughing at the silly antics of California Ground Squirrels. We check out their solar units. We go back in and wait.
The vet finally calls out our cat's name to the waiting room. That's us. The vet is a remarkably comforting person. This is an emergency hospital. She's been in this situation many times. She tells that the x-rays show intense intestinal blockage and a full bladder. Damn. She tells us that he needs fairly expensive intervention and a couple of days in the hospital to figure out what's going on. There are no guarantees. There's no way to know if this situation is an "end of life" moment, a chronic condition, a blip on the screen.

So, we're sitting in an examining room trying to decide if we should spend almost as much as Medicare paid Roger's surgeon for his colon surgery to keep a silly, cantankerous, old cat alive (with no guarantees). Mmmmm.

The vet says, I'll leave you two alone to talk it over.

We decided to give the old boy one more chance. We bought his ninth life, knowing fully it's the last time we'll ever do such a thing for him. He was a sick stray nine years ago. Now he is a the small animal we share our lives with. He's lived in Santa Cruz, Port Townsend, Arcata, Grass Valley with us. We've asked a lot of a critter that would have preferred familiar territory everyday. We know his days are numbered with fewer numbers than ours. Next time, we'll say good bye. This time, we bought him another sunrise.


Sunday, October 24, 2010


How is that 7.52 inches of rain can come down in 24 hours, and you can't see a drop of it here in this photo? It was pouring. POURING. My twin brother and SIL arrived at the Amtrak Train Station in Sacramento Saturday at 12:55 pm. When we all piled into the car, it started to rain. It literally rained the entire time they visited with us. It rained and rained and rained. It was never not pouring. I felt like I was in Ken Kesey's novel Sometimes A Great Notion. The weather was an entity that exerted its influence everywhere. We each took turns walking out into it. We wrapped up in every bit of rain gear we had in the house and still got wet. Sometimes it pounded on the skylights. Sometimes it just quietly dripped off the gutters. Sometimes the wind bent the smallest trees to the ground. Sometimes branches fell and puddles turned into ponds.

In October the average rainfall for Grass Valley is 2.72 inches. We got nearly 3 times that amount in 24 hours. The earth was quenched. We were drenched. Weather. It was everywhere.


Roger had a great week off from his chemotherapy. His blood tests were completely normal. The oncologist said, "You get an A+ in the Oncology Department." He starts up again on Tuesday.

All the frogs disappeared on the same day. We went down in the rain to show them to Michael and Kim and there was not a single one to be seen. How is that possible? Don't they like the rain? Were they hiding? Where? Gone.

One of our three resident praying mantises, that we had been watching for three weeks, died on Sunday.

Life goes on for some and not for others.

How are you?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

last harvest

we had the best tomato plant ever. for us anyway. we planted it in one of our boutique garden cages that came with the place. rain was forecast for today so i harvested all the tomatoes and put the vine in the compost. that's a red pepper visible up there. alas, the bugs got it.

these are now a memory, having been eaten or quartered and frozen.

the last harvest, ripening in the window.

in other news from chez bums i am doing well with the second round of chemo. no rash, but a few mouth sores, more annoying than painful. spicy food burns a bit going down my throat. and i sometimes feel very fuzzy mentally. more than usual. i napped today covered by my wonderful quilt. it warms my heart and the warmth spreads thru all of me. thanks again to all involved.

also..... i have started preparing a site for a sauna by attacking the hard clay to make a bit of levelness. pick and shovel work. i recall somewhere a reference to a pickaxe as a misery whip. i like to consider it one of my aerobic workout machines.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Leaf Frogs and Other Things

I've posted most of these photos (not this sunflower and praying mantis, though!) on Facebook, but I really wanted our blogging friends (who are not on Facebook) to see this stuff too. Sometimes I think we should just do all our posting here, and then link to it there. I find the whole dual existence a bit disconcerting. I think blogging requires more thought than Facebook, and I guess most of the time I really don't feel like thinking. The randomness of status updates and idle chatter there suit my desire to mostly say nothing.
Still, things are happening here everyday. Roger is on day 11 (of 14) of his second (of eight) rounds of chemo and doing fantastically well. We are sincerely and seriously grateful everyday that he feels so good. He's been busy planning where to put the sauna and starting the online search for a good sauna heater. We need that completed before winter hits, but the weather has been so incredibly excellent that winter seems like a thing so distant it's hard to conceive of it as real.
These little Pacific Tree Frogs have really caught our attention lately. We like heading down to the pond just to see in what little secret hideaway spot we're going to find them next. It's always a delight to notice their beautiful striped eyes peeking at us from some crazy, unexpected place. These guys are really tiny things. Their littleness cannot be conveyed in photos, and I just don't think they'll tolerate a ruler for comparison. Roger says they're about a half inch.
It's hard to imagine that it's been only six months since we moved into our house. We are watching the sun and trying to guess just how low behind the lanky tall pines it will be on solstice. Our raised beds are planted, and we are dreaming of kale, chard, onions and garlic. We laugh about how happy such a future makes us. We are simply giddy about greens and frogs; sunflowers and praying mantis; and life is good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Just Taking A Look Around

And the critters are looking back!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Coming of Age in an Age of Violence

I had an idea for a post. I thought about it on the day that John Lennon would have and should have celebrated his 70th birthday. I wanted to write about what it has been like to come of age in an age of violence. So, I started to compile a list of insane violent acts that grabbed the headlines and our attention from the time that both Roger and I were young. The list was grim: Auschwitz; Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Medgar Evers (killed by the Ku Klux Klan); Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley (the four young girls killed by the Ku Klux Klan in a Mississippi church bombing); President Kennedy; Goodman, Cheney, and Schwerner (three Civil Rights Workers killed by the Ku Klux Klan) Martin Luther King; Bobby Kennedy; Alison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, William Knox Schroeder (the four students at Kent State killed by the National Guard) ...(fill in your own memories here)...168 dead in the Alfred P Murrah building; the World Trade Center. The list is truly endless.
But why did I want to write about this stuff? It's so bleak. I stare out the window at the most beautiful trees and meadows, birds and squirrels, frogs and bugs. Even in the face of such tranquil loveliness, I find myself wondering if there is there a legacy to such violence that I should be worried about? Is that what's nagging at me?
Maybe it was seeing the above-photograph of Richard Iott, running on the Republican ticket against Marcy Kaptur in Ohio, posing as a Nazi officer for some fun-filled World War II re-enactment. Maybe it's hearing a former vice-presidential candidate offering her insane and dangerous advice in the face of some perceived"defeat"--"Don't retreat... reload." Maybe it's our fellow citizens showing up at public political rallies with guns. Maybe it's that abortion doctors are still being murdered. Maybe it's young gay teens being bullied enough to end their own lives.
Is there an undercurrent of violence that we have simply become inured to, so we quietly sit back and observe, feeling powerless to challenge or change? When our fellow citizens say they want their country back, what exactly does that mean? Would they feel it necessary to kill me to get it? Am I the enemy? Are you?

I can't help but wonder about this stuff, and I have to admit I am rattled by it. I don't want a Tea Party take over our country. What I think they want, I don't. What they think is true, is not for me. What are we to do short of getting our own gun? Truth be told, I wanted to write gub here for a much-needed laugh.

But really, what are we to do?

And, I haven't even mentioned that other kind of reckless violence we have done to the planet. Here's our five-second, off the top of our heads list: Love Canal; Three Mile Island; Chernobyl; Bhopal; and Prince William Sound. Don't get us started.

Why can't we change the direction we seem to be headed?

Our personal life update: Roger is back on the Xeloda chemo and is starting week two. He is feeling well, going out on hikes and working in the yard. The rash seems to be receding and is not bothersome at all. We planted over a hundred garlic cloves and will be heading back on Monday to Peaceful Valley for more. We bought a 2005 Subaru Forester in preparation for winter. Life is good.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

One Day The Froggies Arrived

I keep trying to remember in which (if any) of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novels it rained frogs. I know it rained frogs in some wonderful book I read years and years ago. I was reminded of it while walking down by the pond and into the surrounding grasses the other day. There were frogs, frogs, and more frogs everywhere.
At first I thought I was looking at a tiny snail, something shining coppery in the sunlight. When it hopped to another leaf, it truly startled me and my assumptions. Of course I took a closer look around and realized I was seeing little froggies on nearly half the leaves. Each step I took I saw even tinier frogs leaping ahead of me on the ground where they had been hiding. We suddenly have a large population of Pacific Tree Frogs in various sizes and colors hanging out in the tall lily leaves. Here's a bit of what it looks like down there.
Pacific Tree Frogs can change their colors to match their environment.
Here's a green one in context. You can see how small they are, and how easily they can be overlooked. They really do blend right in.
This is a close-up of the guy in the above photo. We like how multicolored he is.
There are three frogs in the above photo. Can you see all of them?
This large one came up onto the window ledge by the kitchen table and looked in at us. I waved hello to it. I would have invited it in, but it climbed up the wall and disappeared pretty quickly. They really are everywhere.