Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Entre Act

Or something like that.

Since Thursday I have been the somewhat frazzled caregiver for: granddaughter, age nine, broken finger in cast that needs redoing daily; large white dog with grief issues and too much hair; small thin cat with voice like chalk on a blackboard and frequent need for food; and somewhat sleepless husband trying to keep cat off couch and dog occupied while simultaneously listening to granddaughter talk to him.

This afternoon I dropped granddaughter at her gymnastics club to go with her class to see the Canadian Olympic trials, dropped dog at the YD's house shortly before she was due back from her latest trip, came to the granddaughter's house and fed and watered cat, guinea pig and tortoise.
The house is now silent and perfectly peaceful, the background noises of peaceful munching only adding to the perfect bliss of ........  six hours off.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Tale of Maria Callico

About three weeks ago some small-souled lout dumped a half grown kitten at the end of our lane way. Such events are not unusual where we live, at the end of a sparsely populated country road. Last December a neighbour found four tiny kittens in a box in the snow and other neighbours have been gifted as well. So common is this that our local animal shelter is not taking in cats at all these days.

We did not see this poor little thing until she was almost starved and quite wild. We first spotted her under the bird feeder sniffing around in the seed husks. JG had just finished a bowl of berries and cream. He added more cream to the bowl and I took it outside. The cat ran for the woods beside our house when she saw me, but came back later and lapped up her treat (and yes, I have since been told firmly not to feed dairy products to cats). We refilled the bowl with leftover chicken from supper and she reappeared and ate that.

The next day it poured with rain and we spotted the kitten sheltering under the eaves of the garage across from the house. I put out more meat where she could see the bowl and that food, too, disappeared. So did the cat. We have an old cabin that we used before we built the house and we figured she was sheltering there. Next day the ED and family visited and Miss G and her mother soon had the cat out, on their laps and named. Game over, but I struggled. After a quarter century of looking after animals, I did not want another. We phoned all the neighbours. The YD, who had also fallen for the cat, put out an advertisement among her friends. No one wanted a kitten.

Because she is a calico, Miss G named her Callee and I expanded that to Maria Callico (after Maria Callas, a famous diva of the sixties) because this cat has a shattering C above high C shriek when she wants something to eat. And she wants it often. She has also turned into a bit of a diva. At first she ate anything but as her condition improved she started to reject cat kibble. After she had ignored a bowl of nice kibble for two days (while leaving bits of chipmunk and mouse strewn around the cabin site) I gave in and bought tins of cat food. This she approves of. As well she is now the proud owner of a fluffy cat bed, a litter box, a cat carrier and an appointment with the vet.

On Saturday Shammy, the YD's large white dog, joined us for a week. She regards Callee with resigned indifference, refuses to drink water out of Callee’s pottery bowl and demands her own stainless dish, and appears to roll her eyes when Callee shrieks. Callee has decided that Shammy's kibble tastes just fine (and has tried to claw a corner out of the bag), that cleaning up Shammy's dish is good fun and that Shammy's water tastes better. However, when she left a bit of breakfast this morning, Shammy got that, so honours are about even.

On Thursday this ménage will become larger with the addition of Miss G herself, who will be here for ten days while her parents go to conferences. She will, of course, have her own bowls and diet, but may end up sharing her bed.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Four Weeks

My friend is gone. She was dealing with a fast acting, difficult form of leukaemia Since she was not in good enough health to be a candidate for a bone-marrow transplant, nor willing to undergo extreme forms of chemo, her life-expectancy was originally put at three to six months. But she responded only a little to the forms of treatment she could endure, a drug to knock down the immature white cells, red blood cell transfusion and treatment of the resultant kidney problems. The original estimate of the time she had left was been revised downward.

However, last week she went into a bit of a remission and her blood work stayed steady for almost six days. She was able to go and spend a day in her beloved home, and was quite able to receive visitors and enjoy phone calls. And there were an astonishing number of them. Our wonderful local hospital waived all the visiting hour and number of visitor rules for her and put her in a private room at the end of a corridor. Last Sunday her daughter and I counted seventeen assorted family members and friends in the Family room and her room, rotating in and out. This Saturday the amazingly talented 'special friend' of her eldest grandson came in with a guitar and fiddle and sang and played for her. Another musical relative arrived, grabbed the guitar and there was a concert, with step dancing. And she loved every minute of it.

Many of her grandchildren got home in time to be with her. Beloved nieces and nephews had time to come from all around the province and the States. The resident granddaughters worked with her daughter, a BNSc, to provide day and night support and care, and so she never lacked for a helping hand whenever she needed one.

There are three children, eleven grandchildren, and so many nieces and nephews that I have never been able to keep them straight. She has sisters-in-law, cousins by the dozens and lots and lots of friends and fellow card players, dancers and maple syrup manufacturers, all of whom have filtered through her room the past week. And she was well enough to love every minute of it, to be thrilled by the throngs of visitors and the wall of cards and the ever-growing pile of flowers and treats.

My special job was to do the daily run to Timmie's for her Ice Cap.

On Monday the white blood cell count was up and they had to put her back on the cell-killing drug. Tuesday they doubled the dose. Yesterday she started to fail and she died this morning, surrounded by loving voices and comforting hands. In the circle of her family.

I bought myself an Ice Cap on the way home from the hospital. And imagined her laughter.

Friday, 1 June 2012


I'm doing as much as I can to support my friend, and finding it very hard to talk about.

However, I do have some nice photos from a short drive we did last week along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

These parking spots really took my fancy. Note the buckets.
Up on the Shenandoah section - beautiful but misty weather.

There were more flowers in bloom than we had expected. This is one of the early azaleas.

And this is another.

Mountain Laurel. All of these blooms were on bushes, many taller than we were. And there were lots of them.

Just loved the colour.

We took some hikes. This one is to 'Mary's Rock'.

We visited some of their displays. The dry wall fences are very dramatic.

This shot took a lot of climbing up and down over rocks and along a pathway that was mostly mud and water. The Parkway map labelled it 'easy to moderate'. We did not try anything marked 'difficult'.

Early moring facing south. I am going to delete the power line. Soon. The long light gives the best photos.

One of the places we stayed. This is Peaks of Otter, right on the parkway and run by the park.

A bit of the road from the overview. Himself drove. I closed my eyes and leaned in from time to time.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a gorgeous, serene drive, except, I am told, in rhododendron and coloured leaves seasons. And for the first time over it, we had good weather all the way.

Country roads, take me home. Even if you are all corkscrews.