Am I the only one reminded of Mark Twain’s cat, who, having once sat on a hot stove, would never again sit upon a cold stove?
And, Now, The Rest Of Teh Story!
Momma Kitty went on to have another litter, this one beneath our porch. Again, we provided dry food and water. Again, we saw her parading her kittens onto the porch, eventually, and observed them partaking of the dry food.
TDW would from time to time attempt to approach Momma Kitty, and eventually was able to lay on our porch, and have Momma Kitty approach her, and allow TDW to pet her briefly. So, to our surprise, one day when TDW opened the door, and invited Momma Kitty to enter, she did.
Much like the dog who finally caught the car, we were not altogether clear on what to do next. We settled on encouraging Momma Kitty to take her place in the cat crate (and, surprisingly she did take her place therein). TDW then scouted out the location of the kittens, and retrieved them. One has white and black markings, resembling a miniature, clawed, cow. She was named “Bossie” after TDW’s childhood pet cow. The other kitten, tranquilly accepting his transition to house cat, was named “Oliver” (again, olive branch=peaceful).
So, that is why we are over run with cats, and how they were named. Everybody gets along, they take turns grooming each other, and TDW has several Cute Cat Stories for me, each evening when I return home from work.
And Now For Something Completely Different
Well, THOSE were some dark stories! And, now for something completely different.
TDW got a kitten from a friend, whom we named Max.
It developed that Max would laze away the afternoon, gazing out the window. After a while, he started to do this sort of “click-click-click” noise, and move from one window to the next, as if following something. Investigation revealed that this something was another cat, who eventually demonstrated that she had had kittens in our window wells. TDW eventually noted that the kittens were eating the dry cat food that she had been putting our for the new cat, who we dubbed Momma Kitty, and we soon retrieved the kittens: Momma Kitty escaped our clutches.
When we got the kittens inside, we locked them in the second bathroom, providing a crate where they could hide, water and food, and litter boxes. We would enter a couple of times a day to clean up the mess, refresh the water, refresh the food, and attempt to play with them, trying to socialize them into their new lives as house cats.
Took some doing. The one kitten would sit in a corner and snarl at us with all the gravitas a 6 ounce kitten could muster. She was named Henrietta, after the chickenhawk character in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.
Another kitten would gnaw at our fingers, then rush to lick and pat the same finger, reminiscent of the big blue “Sullie” character in the “Monsters Inc.” cartoon. A third kitten would lay, tranquilly, in our arms, allowing us to pet her and provide neck scritches, purring all the while. She was named Olivia (as in olive branch, the historic symbol of peace).
The final sister was named Dynamite, since she would nearly explode into a fury of claws and fangs upon any approach. She has since calmed down, although she is not altogether sure about the whole “hold still while Ipet you” thing, and would rather get going after a brief interval of tolerating our petting.
THAT LOOK WHEN the pregnant patient whom I am interviewing, trying not to get high myself as she emanates reefer fumes, asks me, “Is amoxicillin safe for my baby?” (This after I had diagnosed her UTI, and was in the middle of prescribing amoxicillin to treat same)
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER CHILD OF GHAWD relating that their malfunction is “I have a sinus infection”. I perform my usual review of systems, featuring denial of fever/chills, and no at home treatment over the 3 days of illness that drove this soul to my clinic.
Physical exam did NOT reveal any positive findings, except for mucus coursing down the back of this soul’s throat. I provided my assessment, and my basis for that assessment, including “…if you had a bacterial sinusitis, you would have leaped off the table and yelled at me when I tapped on your sinuses!”
This soul replied, “Oh, well, I NEVER get sinus tenderness with my sinus infections!”
Not being in a mood to argue, I smiled, did NOT observe that marked sinus tenderness is one of the CARDINAL signs of bacterial sinusitis, and said, “Here’s your augmentin prescription. Have a pleasant day!”
A FEW WEEKS AGO, TDW-Mark II had a migraine, and it took it’s sweet time resolving. I had to work, and came home to find my bride upright and preparing some soup (this being an improvement). I asked how her day had gone.
“Well”, she began, “the migraine was unpleasant, like they always are. This time, every time I woke up from my multiple naps, there were six cats perched on the bed, as if they were on watch. You know, if one or two others had joined them, I was going to call you and insist that you come home!”
Fortunately, her furry caregivers determined that, the next day, she only required 4 in attendance at any one time, and so, she recovered, as the cats weaned her off from a high level of feline supervision.
ONE DAY, my MA asked (it seemed to me, from out of the blue), “What do you want on your tombstone?”
I spread my hands, fingers wide, and stated, “Like this , with fewer fingers.”
She smiled. “Wow, kinda harsh! I meant on your pizza. THAT escalated quickly!”
Two more snippets
When I am in bed, they snuggle up against me: likely due to the warmth from my electric blanket. I can pet them, and they do not beat feet, alarmed, at my approach. They purr, and roll into my petting. On the table in the cat room, similarly, I can pet them, and they purr like miniature motorcycles.
Elsewhere in the house, I approach them, and they elope as if I were the Cat Attacking Golem, or something. Of course, when they are on the counter, or the dining room table while we are eating, I do chastise them: “Are you on MY counter? Bad Cat!” accompanied with a sort of interpretive dance, which most closely resembles an effort to shoo away angry, invisible, hornets.
ANOTHE STORY FROM THE STREET
So, TINS, TIWFDASL….well, no. I was at home, long ago and far away, when The Plaintiff (aka TDW-Mark 1) and I were still in wedded bliss. In the very rural county in which we lived, EMS was provided by a sort of tiered response: in the event of an emergency, dispatch would alert the sheriff’s deputies on patrol, and tone out the nearest fire department to send their rescue. The ambulance would depart from the hospital in The County Seat, and the crew would make their way to the scene. There, the three agencies would address the problem, and then, response complete, resume whatever they had been previously been doing.
I volunteered for the local rescue, since, I figured, I would want SOMEONE to respond when/if we had our own emergency, therefore it seemed reasonable to carry a pager and respond when some neighbor had THEIR emergency.
Let me interject that I had a scanner at home, and so I (and TDW-Mark 1) could monitor the goings on in the Fire/Police/EMS world. Or, our corner thereof.
So, one evening I was home. The pager went off, and I responded to the fire hall. Another firefighter arrived, and we were off.
We arrived to find a sedan crumpled amongst the trees lining the side of County Road Whatever. The deputies had already triaged the scene, and pointed out one soul who was not making much sense. As I approached, my differential diagnosis expanded from head injury, to head injury, or intoxicated, or combinations of the above. This was elicited by the prominent odors of ethanol emanating from my subject.
Well, when you have a soul who was involved in a collision, as this guy had been, who is not able to navigate or articulate, as this fellow was not, one must wonder if the collision had cracked his coconut (not, strictly speaking, a medical term, you know…), and that was why he had his articulation and locomotion difficulties, or was he intoxicated into dystaxia/dyarthria, or (perhaps worst of all potential scenarios) was the intoxication obscuring his intracranial bleed, or something similarly dire?
I, paramedic and RN that I was at the time, was elected to ride in the back as Mr. Ethanol Odor was transported to hospital assessment and management. Of course, he was spine boarded. Of course, he disapproved. Of course, he protested, loudly and profanely, about our handling of him, as well as the fact that he desired to depart our company and be on about his business (not an exact quote).
I recall providing report by radio, his soliloquy in the background. He was describing my character flaws, and errors in my upbringing, at volume. As an exact quote, he suggested the my shortcomings included, “Assholes! M@74erf&25ers! Dickheads!” (I suppose he included my partners in this assessment, come to think about it.)
I unkeyed for a moment, prior to concluding my report, and, rekeying the radio, observed, as he renewed his Short Course On Character Disorders, “As you can tell, patient in no evident respiratory distress!”
I arrived home to find TDW-Mark 1, chuckling. “No distress, huh? Have you told your mother hello for him?”
Eaton Rapids Joe, proprietor of the eponymous blog, must have been an engineer in a previous life. (and, I must have been dyslexic in my previous life, as the previous 5 words, pre-auto correct, read “enbgineer in a previous lidfe.”. Sheesh! I scare me!)
In any event, I seem to recall he once explained the concept of “tolerance stacking”. As I recall, however imperfectly, the concept might translate into, say, a rifle trigger pack, wherein one would take Part One, at it’s maximal permissible dimension(s), and add it to Part Two, similarly pushing the boundaries of out-of-spec-large, and add that assembly to Part Three, (ditto), until, finally, you had, say, a trigger pack, each part in spec, yet the assembly would not function, or else would not fit into the firearm at all.
Not so very long ago, I was reminded of that when TDW-Mark II assigned me (or, maybe, I was voluntold….) the task of cleaning the piles from the dining room table. I confronted the concept of “task stacking”.
To be honest, I had several probably 12-18 inch tall piles (more about that, in a moment…) of papers, magazines (the literary kind), boxes, and assorted whatnot, that (a) I had NOT addressed appropriately, (b) in any sort of timely manner, and (c) that TDW had, at long last, grown weary of seeing.
Along the way, may I observe that I share my home with several cats? And that cats are Agents Of Entropy? My appraisal is that cats are genetically incapable of viewing an organized stack, of whatever sort of stuff, and of whatever degree of righteous organization, without feeling the overwhelming need to Tear! It! Down!.
Of course, having several days off in a row, I was, well, “willing” probably overstates my enthusiasm for this task. Still, it will do. So, I was “willing” to address this problem, but I needed to have a space to take the stack-du-jour, in order to unstack it, triage each component, and then address same.
That meant establishing subsidiary stacks, one of trash (simple: stack same in the…wait for it!…trash can!), one of things to be shredded, and one of other, kind of valuable, things. That last stack would then be the subject of a re-triage, and once suitably thinned, put away.
This process was to be repeated, until the dining room table had my computer, and one (SMALL) stack of whatever needed to be addressed in the next couple of days. And, nothing else of my bullshit.
Well, in order to accomplish THAT task, I had to clear the table in the kitchen, that had, itself, become home to (yes, he admitted, embarrassingly) several stacks of things awaiting disposition to the garage, the trash, or other longer term, somewhat organized, rest.
The trash component, here, was simpler, due to being closer to the trash can, after all. The put-this-crap-away-somewhere-not-the-kitchen-table task, elicited it’s own task-stack, as my imaginings of organized stowage in the basement, required that there be horizontal surfaces, in that basement, that were unoccupied.
Do you, as well, see a pattern here?
So, I thinned the herd of bullshit in the basement, and changed the trash can. I imposed some modest organization in that basement, and then found homes, however transiently, for the keep-this-crap-just-not-on-the-kitchen-table items.
I shredded much of the shred-able stuff, and changed the trash can. Again.
I eventually had emptied the kitchen table, which I then re-filled with dining room table stuff.
Rinse and repeat.
So, it turns out that I am not the only pile challenged soul. I get several days off in a row, that follows a stretch of many 12 and 10 and 8 hour shifts. When I am in the midst of my duty week, well, my ambitions do not particularly exceed “get up and get around”, “get to work”, and do the above in accordance with my employer’s expectations (that is, on time). So, being a geezer, after a 12 hour shift, I get home, graze a bit, and turn in.
I had requested TDW to thin the herd of home chores, so that I might kill of the remainder on my first day off, then to laze away the rest of my stretch of off days.
Hard fail. She injured her foot (neither of us has any clue how. It hurts, that limits her mobility, and that mobility is kind of mission critical to things like putting away the dishes, moving the laundry along, and so forth. In addition to nurse-maiding an ailing dog and ailing cat)(can’t say we don’t know how to have good times!)
Being the loving husband that I am, I offered to heat and deliver some supper to her.
Task stack. Be nice if I washed my hands.
Which would be helped by access to the sink.
Which would be facilitated by loading the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, thereby emptying the sink.
Which would be easier, from a no-two-objects-may-occupy-the-same-space perspective, it the dishwasher were to be emptied, and the clean dishes put away.
Which, aesthetically, ought to be performed by clean hands.
Which required soap and water, currently unavailable due to the mosh pit of our sink.
Which inspired my present blog post.
After the dish part of the foregoing had been accomplished.
Finishing the dining room table is Tomorrow’s Task.
Kitten Tales, Part VII
So, TINS…. OK, this is not another firehouse/”sea story”. I was lolling around the house one evening, and TDW-Mark II came to me, cradling our petite, mostly white (well, most of the time…) cat, Trixie. Said cat appeared to have settled herself, right side first, into an ash pile.
This was concerning, since when the kittens had first joined our household, four of them had taken to exploring our heatilator style fireplace. Said explorations were made considerably easier (for the kittens) due to the fact that one of the grates, in place specifically to prevent such explorations, had become loose. TDW-Mark II had (a) noticed that the kittens were not accounted for, and, after a frenzied search, (b) had noticed that one of the older cats, Max, had, pointer style, settled in in front of one of the fireplace warm air outlets. When she (TDW) investigated Max’s pointing, she discovered four grimy, meowing, kittens, noses pressed against the grate.
She removed that grate, and extricated the kittens. They were brushed off, and pranced away, none the worse for wear. Since I believe that too much of a good thing is just about enough, we expoxied the offending grate back in place, replaced the unscrewed-so-we-could-extricate-kittens grate, and placed the fireplace screen in a closet, and backed a piece of furniture against the opening for the fireplace, after placing a large sheet of cardboard over the opening.
Remember that cardboard bit.
So, Trixie’s ashen demeanor elicited some concern that other cats might have taken up spelunking. A hurried cat census revealed that everybody was accounted for, and the only problems remaining were cleaning Trixie, and more effectively securing the fireplace.
Inspection revealed that the cardboard had been bowed, producing a kitten sized sort of funnel devolving into the fireplace. Well, THAT was a permanent fix! Worked fine, as well!
Second things first. I retrieved a sheet of plywood (now, kiddies, once upon a time, mere mortals could afford this thing called “lumber”. Indeed it was so inexpensive that folks built entire houses out of the stuff! In a manner similar to the query, how did Californians light their houses prior to using candles? Electricity!) I placed this sheet in front of the fireplace, between the cardboard and the opening, and wedged it in place with that furniture I spoke of 3 paragraphs ago.
TDW-Mark II had determined that Trixie T. Cat had a bath in her future. Golly, I was so, so, soooo looking forward to that!
Fortunately, Trixie had previously decided that she needed to supervise my med passes, as well as my shaving and my tooth brushing. In the process, she would bat at the stream of water coming from the faucet, then licking her paw as if in surprise at that wet stuff appearing thereon. And, repeat. So, the water-running-in-the-sink thing did not concern her. She was even relatively copacetic with the run-warm-water-over-the-kitten part.
Not such a fan of the baby-shampoo-on-the-kitten part. Pro Tip! If you have occasion to bathe a cat, even such a placid cat as Trixie, bathe said cat with DROPLETS of baby shampoo, NOT streams. That latter initiative will lead to a prolonged period of cat rinsing, and, well, cats have a limited desire to play in the water. Particularly when said water is all over them. Trixie rapidly reached the part of our tale wherein she declaimed “Let me the fook out of here! I. AM. DONE. HERE!”
That is the bad news. The good news is that she articulated this complaint with pushing at us with her paws, claws retracted. Good on’er for the retracted part!
Soon, we had rinsed the shampoo from her, and wrapped her up in a bath towel, halfway drying her. Another towel, and she was as dry as we were going to get her.
We released her, and she walked away, pausing from time to time to shake one leg or another, as if to shake the remaining water off. She still looked bedraggled, but considerable less sooty.
By the following morning, between her own cleaning efforts, and grooming from her siblings, she was nearly entirely clean. And dry.
SNIPPETS PART IV
I hope that nobody is surprised to learn that, since The Un-Named Fly-Over State is in the northern tier of states, it snows here in the winter (And the fall. And the spring.) That has been the case for certainly the past nearly 70 years that I have been here. Therefore I would hope that my neighbors would have figured that shit out, by now.
On the other hand, there is abundant evidence that my hope in this matter is misplaced.
So, TINS, TIWFDASL…well, OK, I was driving in to work one snowy winter day in order to begin my day of FDASL. I was listening to the amateur radio in my vehicle, and monitoring the county’s fire department dispatch. No ill tidings from that front.
I did notice a car off the road, into the ditch, but I figured that the county deputy already on the scene had things well in hand.
So, there I was, listening to the FM radio, and waiting for any alarming traffic on the HAM radio, when I saw this guy, no shit, skate his compact pickup truck completely across the 3 lanes of expressway traffic, having apparently originated from the on ramp. My guess was that he had entered the ramp at speed that was excessive for the conditions. (did I mention that it had snowed the preceding night? Well, it had. Likely had something to do with the other guy in the ditch.)
Anyhow, once he reached the median shoulder, he started to wifferdill his way along that shoulder, inching his way into the median’s ditch. He did manage to stay upright, so, that was nice…..
The thought crossed my mind, “coefficient of friction: words to live by!”
@@@Snippet The Second@@@
You may recall my tales of cat-herding (Farming? Wrangling?). In any event, one of the cats had a recurring conjunctivitis, such that our local vet voiced concern regarding the potential of a ruptured globe (eyeball breach, with vision-destroying loss of the fluid-vitreous and aqueous humor that is within the eyeball), versus a vision damaging occurrence of scars on the (supposed to be) clear portion of the eyeball.
So, we arranged an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Of course, this doctor practiced in an office something like three counties over from our home. Of course, on the appointed day, it was a balmy 33 degrees (f), and could not decide to snow, rain, sleet, or what.
I learned on this trip, that driving Trixie T. Cat anywhere, was very much akin to driving your small, furry, outspoken, elderly, mother-in-law somewhere. I was the recipient of a running series of corrections, spoken (of course) in Cat, that likely would have sounded like “You’re driving too fast!”, “You’re driving too slow!”, “Why can’t you stay in one lane?” (this as I signaled, eased over into the -clear-adjacent lane, and in the course of doing so, ran over the ridge of slush built up between the lanes. So the truck jerked.), “Why aren’t we there yet?”, and the ever popular, “Where the hell are you taking me? I don’t want to go there! Let me out of this damned cat carrier!”
That is, would have sounded like that, if I spoke Cat.
As you might imagine, first off, back seat driving is oh, so very welcome at any time at all. Secondly, such corrections are even more welcome when the driving is, oh, gosh, I dunno, HAZARDOUS! Thirdly, let me take a moment to congratulate TDW-Mark II. She successfully suppressed her baseline impulses to shriek, gasp, or otherwise demonstrate her appreciation of her/our impending DOOM! Probably figured that the cat had that well covered.
KITTEN TAILS PART VI
So, TINS, TIWFDASL….we, uh, no, I was NOT Fighting Disease And Saving Lives, rather, I was at home while TDW-Mark II recovered from surgery. (Thankfully, minor. Well, “Minor” from my perspective. I’m pretty cure that, for whoever goes under anesthesia and awakens with sutures and re-arranged body parts, ain’t no such thing as “minor” surgery!)
In any event, on my multiple rounds on TDW, I noted that there appeared to be two, or three, cats perched upon the bed. Should one depart, one would take station. The others would eat, play, loll about: typical cat stuff. The two, or three, “on watch” all appeared to gaze upon her, that is, if they were not snuggled up against her. Just as if they were, indeed, “on watch”.
Olivia appeared to be the one constant watch-stander. She was perched upon TDW’s pillow, and did not seem to move. Others would appear to rotate in and out, but Olivia was pretty constantly there.
When she (TDW) was up and about the next day, she commented about it. “Every time I opened my eyes, one or more of the cats was there, looking at me. I felt as if I had a couple of private duty, furry little nurses!”
Then she reminisced. “remember that time you had your GI bleed? The two dogs, and all three cats (at one time, my cat crazy was under better control….) were settled in all around you! They would only leave to eat, drink, and go. Then, they were right back.”
At that time, we developed the McFee Critter Triage System: if one animal is sleeping with you, that’s normal stuff.
If two of them, well, likely normal, perhaps not.
If three of them, The Spouse needs to take a closer look at things: it ain’t raht!
Four? When is your doctor appointment?
Both dogs, and all three cats? Call dispatch. It might take some explaining (“Ma’am? Did you just tell me that your emergency is that all five animals are sleeping on the bed with your husband? I…I..don’t understand..?”), but Bad Things are at hand. Do Not Dally.
Fortunately, TDW-Mark II recovered uneventfully.
KITTEN TAILS, PART V
We have a couple sets of cats that closely resemble each other. Momma Kitty, Max, and Oliver are all alike enough, that a second (or third) glance is required, sometimes, to discern which cat is (on the cat tree)(trying to excavate the bag of Cat Chow)(teasing Little One). Similarly, Olivia and her sister/littermate Henrietta are nearly identical. To remedy this IFF (Identify Freaking Feline) problem, TDW-Mark II thought that should Cat “A” be wearing a red collar, and Cat “B” be wearing a blue collar, the IFF problem would be eased.
One of the younger kittens was not altogether “down”, as the kids say, with the collar thing. Oh, he allowed TDW to place it upon him, but, he is but a kitten, and thought, it seemed, that it required adjustment, and indeed required adjustment BY HIM.
Good News: He did so during “sick call” one evening, and, since he had managed to get it entangled with his lower jaw, and, being a kitten, promptly freaked the frack out in his efforts to get his mouth clear of the collar (which, of course, constitutes The Bad News), well, I tackled him, TDW disentangled him, I soothed, and cooed, and settled him, and he appeared none the worse for the experience.
Subsequently, we concluded that more careful collar fitting would allow IFF without the risk of getting his jaw trapped by a partially removed collar, and therefore we assumed (yep, THAT word, again!) he would be safe wearing a collar.
Remember that thought.
So, TINS, TIW sleeping my ass off, when my alarm went off, on a day off. I awakened, turned off the alarm, and stumbled into the kitchen, to start the coffee.
I am not particularly bright, but I did recognize that the blood spread over an area of my kitchen floor approximately 2 feet x 3 feet, was not normal. Once I noted what appeared to be kitty foot prints therein, and saw bloody kitty pawprints on my counter, I assumed that one of the cats had cut his/her foot on Ghawd Alone knows what, and some further assessment was needful.
Since several cats sleep on the bed, in rotation, I started there. I saw a couple of bloody paw prints on the bed, and therefore determined that there was no dog injured since none of the dogs could get onto the counter, nor off/on the bed. None of the cats on the bed had injuries to their paws (remember THAT bit, as well!), and I enlisted TDW to assist in further cat triage.
Now, my Darling Wife is a lovely woman, kind and loving. She has NOT worked ER, has NOT worked Da City as a medic, and otherwise has led a rather sheltered life. So, when she entered the kitchen in search of un triaged cats, well, the blood on the floor caught her attention.
Indeed, it immobilized her. Her words were, and I quote, “Oh My God! Oh! My! God!”
Being accustomed to seeing large quantities of blood in my workplaces, I was less distracted, and so suggested, “Honey? Perhaps it would be helpful if we identified which cat is the source of this blood, and then assessed that cat for nature and depth of injuries? Please?”
She found Oliver, and identified the lacerations on his mouth. Fortunately, they were not bleeding on our assessment, and he appeared un freaked out (good on him!). We removed (and discarded) the collar in question, and started to assess his lacerations progress at every med pass.
He has healed up nicely, and appears unfazed by his adventure.