How to Kill Your Cat

12 January, 2018 | | 1 Comment

I was going to float the title topic a little more softly than that, but let’s face it – some times, the kitty needs to go.  As an old and dear friend reminded me today, sometimes waiting, no matter how much we’d like to, can be an act of selfishness at a time when selflessness is most called for.

I am famous, or perhaps infamous, in some circles for driving a car with a license plate that reads HORCRUX.  In the unlikely event that you’re a complete muggle or have simply been under a rock for several years, a horcrux (from Harry Potter) is an object, living or inert, into which you hide a part of your own soul, thus making you harder to kill – like Westley in the Princess Bride, you wouldn’t be all the way dead, you’d only be *mostly* dead.

I’ve come to the conclusion that horcruxes are real.  Unlike the world of Harry Potter, though, you don’t have to commit murder to create one.  You just need a pet.

Our pets gradually siphon off pieces of our souls; this is why we bond with them as we do, and this is why it hurts so much to let them go – we’re killing a part of ourselves with them, even as we do them the last piece of kindness that we can.

So, that’s the bad news.  The good news, though, is that it turns out that our souls are modeled after our livers.  They regenerate on their own, with just a bit of time and care.  It’s like a liver for your spirit.  They grow back, in time.  Imagine if geese had souls – we could have spiritual foie gras!

But enough about all that.  I want to talk about logistics.  Here’s what happened:

Professor Flitwick (hey, there’s a reason my analogies are mostly Harry Potter references) came to us at 7 years old, quick on his feet and with a firm understanding that the top of the refrigerator was a good place to hang out – he could reach it in one jump, without effort.  At 17 years old, he started considering the litter box “optional” – but never did his business outside line of sight of the box.  The basement being a semi-functional free-fire zone anyway, we got by.  For 2 more years.

This past November, the business moved upstairs.  By Christmas, the business had reached every room in the house, and the Christmas tree.  He was starting to have trouble with the stairs, and he couldn’t jump on things.  He didn’t seem to be in pain, but quality of life – his and ours – was degrading quickly.  Last week, we knew it was time.

Pro Tip:  Do Not Google “How to kill your cat at home.”

Since the last time we had to make this call was more than 19 years ago, I was a little out of practice, so I did what everyone does:  I Googled “how to kill your cat at home.”  The Internet is really, really great.  It is a wealth of knowledge, the collective hive mind of some of the greatest and some of the most deranged humans on the planet.  I found hundreds of ways to ensure exsanguination, and dozens of ways to ensure your beloved Mitzie stayed dead once she took the big dirt nap.  (I confess I was surprised how many people read Pet Sematary as an instruction manual.)  Regardless, the real question was quickly noted to be “how do you prevent suffering,” and there were two answers.  One involved firearms and a locale conducive to their discharge, and the other was “get a professional.”

Since we have no firearms at the moment, nor do we live near a locale conducive to their discharge, I started researching professionals.  Since Prof. Flitwick had hated going to the vet for his entire life, finding someone who could come to the house was paramount.  It was also really damn expensive.

I called around 8 places, at least 5 of whom said no, but recommended a group called Lap of Love.  They’re pros – preventing suffering is what they do and why they do it.  The pricing model, though, was a factor:  the first $325 kills the cat, but it’s another $125 to *remove* the cat.  So, the bargain price means you need to dispose of the remains yourself.

Now, I’m told they have this problem in the winter in Maine, too.  It was 12 degrees Fahrenheit out there, and it had been for weeks.  I’m not burying this animal in the backyard without dynamite.  In Maine, they put the inconveniently demised on ice (ha ha) for a few months and have a bunch of burial ceremonies in April and May, when the ground thaws out.

Pro Tip:  Do Not Suggest to Your Spouse that you use Your FoodSaver™ Vacuum Sealer to Store Your Dead Cat Until the Ground Thaws.

I considered several options in rapid succession, some involving transporting a dead cat over state lines, some involving my FoodSaver™ Vacuum Sealer and the downstairs freezer, and some involving what can only be described as “a lot of alcohol.”  Since the last thing I wanted was to deal with Pet Sematary II:  The Icebox Cometh, I wrote the check for the extra and got on with it.

The getting on with it, if you find yourself in a similar situation, was as hopeful, unstressful, and positive as possible.  The people at Lap of Love could not have been nicer, easier to work with, more respectful of Flitwick and our family, or more decent human beings.  Dr. Nora came to our house at the appointed hour, sat with us for a while, talked us through everything, and ensured that Flitwick left us painlessly and full of treats.

She mentioned, and several of the people I’d called had said the same, that 19 years for a full-blood Bengal cat is unusual in itself – many mentioned that whatever we’d been doing, he’d had at least 2 years that most of his breed don’t see.  Since they’d been a pretty good 2 years, we were glad of that.

Pro Tip:  Unless You Already Have a “Songs of Euthanasia” Playlist, Leave the Music Off 

I was careful with one thing:  There was no music playing.  I once broke up with a girlfriend with the radio on – bad idea.  I cannot hear that song without having very vivid flashbacks.  I would spare you that reminder.  Just imagine remembering the time we put Ol’ Barney down every time Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You comes on.  “I’m in love with your bod-ahhhhhhh….”  It would be horrible.  Don’t do it.

So, we bid the Professor a fond farewell as best we could, and he left with his warm soft blanket and many pieces of our souls to take with him, presumably to use as cat toys in Bast’s infinite backyard.  Like my liver, my soul is regenerating itself – and, like my liver, it will take some time.  Knowing we did well by him in the end doesn’t make it any easier – but it does, really.  I’m not gonna lie, not having to clean the damn floors every day helps, too.

But I’ll miss the furry little bastard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 January 2018 – Not Dead Yet

1 January, 2018 | | No Comment

Happy New Year.

I managed all of 4 posts last year, which is about what 2015 looked like as well.  As I mentioned on the occasion of this blog turning 10, back in 2016, I find myself at the confluence of the rivers of Time, Inspiration, and Energy with decreasing frequency these days.  And by days, clearly, I meant years.

Here’s hoping those days are behind us.  There’s no shortage of Inspiration, surely, and this year, I plan to work on the Energy part.

That leaves Time, and what is time but that wibbly-wobbly bit in between waking up and falling down again?  I’ll find it somewhere.  Probably behind the couch.

So with that out of the way, I’ve asked several people what their biggest wishes for 2018 might be.  The answers have ranged from health to wealth, from continued employment to new employment, and from impeachment to imprisonment.  Probably the best answer, though, came from the Reigning Queen of Pink herself.  “My wish is that all of my friends and people I know don’t die horribly.  I mean, I know people are going to die, that’s just life.  I just wish that they don’t die horribly.”

That’s right – it’s OK to die.  Just not, you know, horribly.

So I figure, as long as we’re not dead, we ought to be doing things.  Saying hello to people.  Telling them we love them.  Fighting for reasonable gun laws.  Updating our blogs.  That sort of thing.  I’m not sure how far we’re going to get, but the Tao reminds us that the journey begins with a step.  I propose we take that step!

… Lest we die, horribly.

So, as I type this under the light of the first supermoon of 2018, I wish you all the Time, Inspiration, and Energy you need to make it through 2018.  Put last year behind us, and let’s see what we can make of this one, while we still aten’t dead.

Happy New Year!

 

 

And a Happy Birthday!

20 June, 2017 | | No Comment

It’s June again, and that means birthdays at the BUMD house!  There are more than I can count now; I can’t remember them all.  There have been amazing things this month, anniversaries, graduations, and birthdays galore!  Number One Son, who turns an unlikely 17 today – I think he’s as surprised as the rest of us – is hitting his stride. This was a quiet evening with a quiet cake; he cheerfully let us put 17 candles and one candle to grow by on the cake, and just as cheerfully blew them all out as we started singing.

Screw the Song! On with the cake!

So Happy Birthday, Big Man – you made it another year!

A Choice of Saints

30 April, 2017 | | 1 Comment

It seems sainthood is the question of the hour for me – so I’m running with it.  There we were, just a pair of innocents driving down the street, when we saw a license plate that said “StBndct.”  Sometimes you really have to try to parse a vanity plate.  In this case, one can tell right away that it’s an invocation to St. Benedict.  But why?   What’s he the patron Saint of, anyway, and why should he in particular be looking out for the welfare of this Toyota?

A little research turned up the fact that Good Old St. Ben is actually the Patron Saint of a lot of stuff:  Agricultural workers, civil engineers, coppersmiths, dying people, Europe, farmers, fever, gall stones, heraldry, inflammatory diseases, Italian architects, kidney disease, monks, nettle rash, servants who have broken their master’s belongings, spelunkers, and temptations.

Whoa.  I mean, that’s a lot of shit to be the Patron Saint of.   Patron Saint of temptations?  Pro or con?  Did Otis Williams know this?  The Patron Saint of dying people?  Isn’t that pretty much everyone, eventually?  That’s a pretty big gig.  Plus having to look after all of Europe.  And why civil engineers and Italian architects in particular?

And you know, it’s got to be a bit of a bummer to have to be the Patron Saint of kidney and inflammatory diseases, plus the gall stones.  Who decides this?  And I still don’t know why the Toyota was claiming him – a European model car would have made more sense.  Maybe the driver was a coppersmith, or a particularly clumsy butler.

Some further discussion lead to the topic of the patronage of saints in general.  It turns out, and some of you may know this, but there are more than 800 saints of something or other.  I knew that St. Christopher was the patron saint of travelers, but Bona of Pisa has them also, covering not just travelers in general but flight attendants in particular.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason:  Augustine of Hippo covers printers and brewers, Bernard of Clairvaux looks after bee keepers and overpaid Madison Avenue advertising executives.  St. Christopher also covers bookbinders, gardeners, and pilots.  I knew St. Jude was for lost causes, but it turns out that undertakers have their own saint (Dismas), as do coffee house owners (Drogo), locksmiths (Dunstan), and lawyers and lumberjacks (Genesius and Gummarus, respectively).

Nurses and shepherds seem to have a lot of patron saints.  St. Malo covers pig-keepers, while St. Roch drew surgeons and gravediggers – two sides of one coin, I suppose.  St. Veronica was famous for her veil, which became the Shroud of Turin; seems kinda mean to make her the patron saint of laundry workers, but there you go.

I have to wonder, is there a beautific game of cards going on somewhere, where the saints swap these patronages around when someone is newly canonized?  Poor St. Agatha got stuck being patron saint of breast cancer, while St. Christina the Astonishing is the saint against insanity and mental disorders.  I suppose she was astonished to get picked for that.  And it really seems mean-spirited that the patron of the blind and the lame is Saint Abel.  Seems pretty ableist to me.

I can see them sitting around a heavenly table playing cards, halos slung over their chairs, bitching about their lot.

St. Damien of Molokai:  “Oh man,  leprosy?  Really?  That’s just gross.”
St. Edmund the Martyr of East Anglia:  “Just one disease?  Quit your bitching, I drew pandemics.  Besides, hardly anyone even gets leprosy any more.”
St. Fiacre:  “I’ll trade you there, Ed.  I’d rather have a nice quick pandemic than my divine plate full of venereal diseases and hemorrhoids!  Hey, Vitus, wake up!  What’d you get?”
St. Vitus:  “Heh, sorry, yeah, that sucks.  I got oversleeping.”
St. Edmund the Martyr of East Anglia:  “Oversleeping?  We need a damn saint for oversleeping?  Pansy.  Gummy, what the hell are you singing?”
St. Gummarus:  “Oh, I’ve got lumberjacks and I’m OK….”
St. Fiacre: “Shut it, you.  Someone shuffle the cards again, huh?  Come on guys, I hate hemorrhoids.”

In light of the fact that it seems like you can self-select your own patron saint and the poor sod of a saint just has to live with it, I think bloggers need their own.  I know Saint Isidore is the patron for the Internet in general, but I’m declaring St. Arnold of Soissons to be the Patron Saint of Bloggers.  He was probably bored, just covering beer and those who pick hops – he should have plenty of time to watch after the bloggers!

Besides, now I can have a beer and pretend I’m working.

 

Of Birthdays and Saints

17 March, 2017 | | 2 Comments

When did I get old?

Nine pm used to mean there were 4 more hours left to pack in every inch of an exciting life. Later on, 9 pm meant another 2 more hours in the day.  Now 9 pm means I’m late for my medication and need to get to bed as soon as I can. What the hell happened? 

When the kids were going through puberty – when they started, that is, since they’re not all completely finished with the process – we got them a book called something like “Hey, What’s Going On Down There?  A Teenager’s Guide to Your Changing Body.”  

We need to update this book.  

Now that I’m staring down the barrel of 50, I think we need a book of our own:  Same concept, same title, but a drop-head like “A 50-Something’s Guide to What the Hell Just Happened to Your Body.”  It would include chapters like “Is it Supposed to Look Like That?”, “Never Trust a Fart,” and “Three Ways to Tell if You’re Actually Urinating RIGHT NOW!”  (Hey, it’s not like we can see it anymore.)  There could be a handy guide in the back for dealing with insurance companies.  

My parents gave me The Talk when I hit puberty, but I feel like they fell down on the job with the “Next Talk,” which parents should have with their kids when you hit about 45 or so.  Not their fault – as a society, we don’t talk about this kind of thing.  I guess women talk to each other a bit about menopause, but trust me that guys Never Talk About Anything.  No 50-something dude has ever swiveled his chair around, leaned over to the cubicle next to him, and asked a co-worker, “Hey, Tom, is yours getting smaller?”  We don’t talk about it. 

(Imagine if he did, though:  “Does it still work?  As long as it works, size is NOT the biggest issue.”)

So, I’m getting old.  I’m so old that I remember when loose coupling described a dating technique and then, later, a programming technique.  (Although honestly, for most of us geeks, it described a programming technique and a dating concept with which we would have liked to become familiar.) 

As I reflect on my birthday today, I realize that these days, loose coupling describes the relationships between most of my bodily functions.  

We need to be talking to our kids as they hit their late 40s and early 50s, and try to prepare them for these changes.  Imagine Carrie’s 30th High School reunion, wondering why we’re all suddenly incontinent?  “Son, your shit’s gonna start falling apart, and that’s OK.”  I’ve had shit stop working that I didn’t even know I had in the first place.  Plus I’m still in denial about my glasses.  Luckily, I don’t really need them, except to read and to see things at a distance.  Other than that, I’m fine.  

But it’s not all bad.  As I rack up birthdays, I realize that I still don’t have even half as many as The Queen Mother of Pink, who’s 99.  With any luck, I’ll have years to complain about my shit slowly falling apart.  Gram doesn’t complain, though – she just powers through.  Ninty-nine years old and still, she persists.  Pretty good role model, if you ask me.

The Three Lunatic Children are getting funnier, too, and faster on the draw, so that’s another advantage to getting old:  watching them grow into their own.  Sometimes they go out of their way to sound like me, which is most certainly going to get them into trouble one of these days.  I mean, look how I wound up?  The oldest one got me a few nights ago:

HTR:  I was thinking about déjà vu.
BUMD:  I‘ve thought about that before.
HTR (without missing a beat):  I knew you were gonna say that. 

Birthdays – they’re like the ultimate déjà vu, until they’re not.  But since it’s my birthday, I want to tell you about St. Patrick, who is the reason my middle name is Patrick.  (Actually, that’s not true:  My godfather, Mike Burke, is the reason my middle name is Patrick.  I understand the conversation went something like: “If he’s born on St. Patrick’s Day, you HAVE to name him Patrick!”  “No.”  “Middle name?”  “OK.”   I owe him a debt I can never repay.)

St. Patrick died around 493 – pretty good gig to be remembered for more than 1500 years, to say nothing of having libations drunk in your name every year.  I’m not much given to prayer, but since I seem to have a patron saint of my own, I’ve been thinking about asking him about that whole deal with the snakes.  I’m thinking we could use a good old-fashioned snake drive these days.

So I’m not as old as St. Patrick, nor even half as old as the Queen Mother of Pink, but with the luck of the Irish, I’ll get there!  Perhaps in a thousand years, they’ll be drinking libations in my name as well.  It could happen!  In the meantime, I’ll have one of whatever that man on the floor’s having.

And so, happy birthday to me, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, Dear Friend, Fond Relation, and Gentle Reader!  Beannachtam na Femle Padraig, and let’s get all these snakes out of here!

Oh, look at the time!   I didn’t realize it was that late – I need to get to bed.