Posts tagged ‘harry potter’

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.







I Saw StarKids and it was Totally Awesome!

21 November, 2011 | | 1 Comment

OK, sorry, that’s their tagline.  They were totally pretty good, though.  The Human Tape Recorder was not alone at the Fillmore in Silver Spring last night: some of the songs seemed to consist of the folks on stage just holding the microphones out to the audience.  I didn’t remember “Karaoke with 2000 people” on the ticket, but hey.

If you’re not familiar with Starkid and the StarKidPotter show, I assume that you are over the age of consent and don’t have teenagers at home.  The music didn’t suck, generally, and some of the standout songs were really good – when this group puts its collective mind to doing an R&B old school blues number, they can bring it down.  The parts that came from the college auditorium review still sound like they came from a college auditorium review – not that there’s anything wrong with that. 

While it’s disconcerting to be among 2000 people at a show and still raise the average age by 5 years, I have to say that makes me glad to see teens at a concert like this wearing Spinal Tap tee-shirts.  Another good one said “Shakespere hates your emo poems.”  On me, that would be rude.  On the skinny goth emo chick wearing it, it was hilarious.  I would have bought her a drink, but of course she was probably 12. 
The HTR had several friends there, bordering on a mob of their own, and one of the other parents loaned me a pair of earplugs for the duration.  What little hearing I have, I owe to him.  What little sanity I have I don’t owe anyone for, I paid for it – in the form of a Dewers on the rocks, mid-way through the show.  The venue is actually great; the acoustics at the Fillmore are amazing in surround-sound – I got all the songs from the stage, from the sound system, and from 1500 female amplifiers, all aged 18 and under. 

The highlight of the evening was being groped by a teenage girl with a Ron Paul for President button.  Of course, when I texted this fact to SOBUMD (“My life is getting weirder by the minute!”), all I got back in terms of sympathy was “Just lie back and think of the blog.”  Heh. 

The opening act was a guy named George Watsky.  He was more than just pretty good – I’d’ve paid to see him by himself.  He recalls Bo Burnham, but I mean that in a nice way.   More interesting to me was that when someone shouted something about “do the something something one” he said, “This is a concert.  That’s a poem.  You don’t really want me to recite a poem to you, do you?”  The crowd said yes, pretty clearly – and he stood there on stage and recited a poem (about lisping, and getting past that fact) to a crowd of 2000 mostly teenage girls.  And they applauded like crazy – his delivery was great, the content was good, but to me the simple fact that the opening act can still hold a crowd like this steady and happy with a poem…  Well, it does my heart good. 

But all good things must come to an end, and I got the HTR home a little after midnight – a near-final birthday gift concluded – and it was totally awesome.  Just ask her!


A Thankful Countdown: Day 5

19 November, 2011 | | 1 Comment

I’ve decided to count down to Thinksgiving, and take a moment each day to think about things I’m thankful for. 

Number Five:  Technology.

It’s not just for breakfast anymore.  It’s not just a job.  I really love the modern conveniences that a high-tech world enable.  There’s a bit in the fourth Harry Potter book, Goblet of Fire, before he and the Weasleys attend the Quidditch World Cup; Harry ducks into the tiny pup-tent that Mr. Weasley has set up, looking a little dubious.  He steps inside, straightens up and looks around to find, like the TARDIS, it’s bigger on the inside.  He gazes in wonder for a moment, and says, “I love magic!”

That’s about how I feel every time SOBUMD whips out her iPhone and does something amazing, which is to say, nearly daily.  It’s not like I don’t know how it works – I’m a techie.  I’m just not quite used to all the things that have become possible.  When we’re driving and a song comes on the radio that I like, but no one knows who’s singing or what it’s called, she whips out the magic and tells me the name of the band, and the song – by having the iPhone play “name that tune” really fast. 

Or a few years ago, when we decided to send Holiday pictures.  She took a picture on the digital camera, uploaded it to a site that helps you put Holiday pics together, decided what it should say and how many we wanted, and clicked go.  I worried that with shipping they’d be late getting to us, that we would be too late to send them before the 25th.  She just smiled.  “They’re at CVS.  They’ll be ready by the time you get there, if you leave now.”  Magic.

Arthur C. Clarke said it best:  Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.  He was right, and for that, even though I know how it works, I’m still thankful.  It’s still a little bit magic, deep in there. 


On the Golden Globes

17 January, 2011 | | 3 Comments

I was about to mention that even my cat is going to bed tonight dreaming of Natalie Portman, and then I remembered that he’s from Texas and he’s probably dreaming of Eva Longoria, and then I remembered that we call him Albus the Gay, and he’s probably dreaming of Johnny Depp.  And who can blame him?

The other cat, Professor Flitwick, is dreaming of Halle Berry, and I’m sure it’s Number One Son dreaming of Queen Padme Amidala of Naboo – although he was irritated to find out that her new movie (A) has nothing to do with Star Wars and (B) isn’t going to show up on his personal Netflix list for a LONG time. 

I’d like to thank the Academy.  I’d better finish that screenplay, so they can vote for me and I can kiss whoever presents the award.  Halle, Eva, Johnny Depp – I’m not picky.

Let There Be Light, As Long As It’s Quiet…

12 October, 2010 | | No Comment

So there I was last night, up at Pee O’clock in the morning, only to find SOBUMD awake at my desk.  We talked for a while, then I went upstairs to play one of my favorite games:  Guess Who Turned Their Lights Off.  Usually, I have to turn off at least 1 or 2 and sometimes all 3 lights, sometimes removing books from sleeping fingers in the process.

Last night was a full win – every one of them had turned their own light out before crashing.  Score! 

The days of insisting their lights were out before I went downstairs went away when they learned to read.  Nothing teaches personal responsibility like falling asleep in class because you’ve stayed up too late reading a book, and the sooner they learn this – and the Human Tape Recorder gets it already – the better. 

Sleeping With Harry

Sleeping With Harry

The Reigning Queen of Pink, above, is on her way to learning it, I think. The flash on the camera didn’t even wake her that morning, and the sound of a camera to the RQoP usually has the same effect that the crack of ice had on Joe Lewis.  She was beat.

Number One Son, on the other hand, sometimes requires more extreme measures.  Yeah, I know, go figure.

He came downstairs one morning a few weeks ago and mentioned that his light was broken.  I told him I’d look at it – oh look, it’s working now!  The next morning he told me it broke again.  By the third night, he noticed that his light broke at 10:30 every evening, and asked me about that.  I told him there must be a problem with the breaker – probably couldn’t be fixed. 

He didn’t actually notice the timer SOBUMD had plugged into his lamp for a week, by which time he’d gotten a little closer to back on schedule and was getting to sleep before midnight.  He wasn’t even mad, which I took for a good sign. 

The first time I caught the Human Tape Recorder sitting under her blanket reading a book with a flashlight, I told her that she had to stop that Right Now.  She was all of 6 years old, and I have no idea anymore what she was reading, but she looked up at me very obviously trying to gauge my mood – she could tell I wasn’t’ really angry, but the *words* were angry, and this threw her for a moment.  I was trying to decide just what the hell the right response was.  Yell at her for disobeying?  Yell at her for falling into a cliché?  Congratulate her on her reading skills?  What behavior was I trying to reinforce here, anyhow?

I decided, all in an instant, to take this lesson from my own childhood, which was (of course) also spent with flashlights and books under sheets.  I had done the same thing.  My parents had made the standard desultory efforts to curb this behavior.  It never worked, and by the time I was maybe 10, they decided the hell with it – as long as I was quiet, they were going to bed. 

So, I figure all my kids are genetically pre-programmed to read in bed.  But there was a critical difference between me and my daughter.  I still don’t wear glasses.  She’s had glasses since she was 2 years old.

“OK kid.  Turn your damn lights on if you’re reading, your eyes are bad enough already.  Don’t stay up too late, and don’t make any noise.  Daddy needs plausible deniability, OK?”

“OK Daddy!”

And we just don’t talk about why all my kids could define “plausible deniability” before they could write their names…

And now, just to check before I post this here at 11:30 at night, let’s play again – shall we?  Be right back.

Still a win – two lights out, one light on, and all three sound asleep!  I’ll take it.  And so, good night.