October 26, 2009

My Agatha is Sick posted by Leann Sweeney I write about cats and even before I wrote a cat series, my other series had a great cat named Diva. I have loved animals all my life and was always bringing home strays when I was a kid. I even brought home a newborn litter of possums after nearly falling on them in the woods. we had birds and dogs and rabbits and once we even had a cat. But the cat didn't last. Why, I wasn't sure. But my grandparents had a cat named Inky and I used to chase him all over their house--and get bitten and scratched regularly. Inky wasn't a fan of grabby children. The first week my husband and I got married we went out and adopted two kittens: Fanny and Ralph. What a crazy pair they were. But when they passed on, we went for indoor dogs and outdoor cats. I even raised Shelties for several years. My daughter also begged for a Bichon and I didn't have to be convinced. My daughter was a preteen then and I didn't think ahead. I got to keep the darling but less than brilliant dog when she went off to college. But when my daughter left me the Bichon, it didn't keep me from feeling as if I had a very empty nest,and I decided to fill it with cats. First came Indigo, the Himalayan. No papers, just a beautiful kitten who needed a home. I didn't stop there. Next came Agatha, whom I bought at a cat show because I couldn't bear to leave her there as a show cat. She was scared to death and who knows what would have happened to her. She's a tiny cat, and has never weighed more than seven pounds. Then I found Archie at the grocery store where he was scrounging for food. Home he came and all my husband could do was roll his eyes and give in. I did manage to give the next rescue, a Persian, to my daughter and her husband and they adore him. Three cats are enough for us. When we went away on our recent trip to NYC, I hired a petsitter as I always do. I warned her about little Agatha, how the other two cats tend to bully her, that she can be very shy and hide. I made one call home while we were gone and the petsitter said everything seemed fine. And I thought so, too ... at first. I noticed right away that I had to hunt Agatha down when we came home. She usually comes out of her hiding place as soon as she hears my voice. And then I got busy with rewrites, but I wasn't too distracted to notice that Agatha didn't join me in bed two nights in a row. Now that's not right. So I made sure the other two kitties didn't bite her or jump on her and that she stayed safely by my side. And I was still busy with those damn rewrites. Too busy. Agatha, I suddenly realized, was sleeping way too much. Finally the idiot writer calls the vet and by this time, Agatha can hardly stand up. I blew it. Big time. When they tested her blood, her white cell count was through the roof and she was very anemic. And, she had a fever and only weighed five pounds. Five pounds. I have never felt so guilty in my life. They kept her because they couldn't get a urine sample but the vet wasn't just talking about an infection, she was talking about cancer. I cried all the way home and waited for the call. Turned out she did have a urinary tract infection, a very bad one, but they still could not rule out the cancer possibility. She got an IV and an antibiotic shot, and that first evening I thought I'd caught it in time. But the IVs fooled both Agatha and me. Pretty soon she was going downhill again. So for the last ten days, I have been waking her up to make sure she eats, offering her tuna water and kitten milk to drink and giving her that soft spot next to me every night. She's hungry, but she doesn't wake up on her own to eat. So I've been doing this every two hours in the daytime. I thought she'd bounce back, but I was wrong. Finally today, she drank plain water on her own for the first time in ten days. I'm taking that as a sign she's rallying. I have to. She's is the sweetest, most gentle cat I've ever owned. And if you were to ask me which of my three aging cats--they're 12, 13 and 14--would live the longest, I would have said Agatha. She's the one who loves to play the most. Maybe that's why I was in complete denial that anything serious could be wrong. She goes back to the vet next week for another antibiotic shot and will have to have another one after that. Then they will look for a possible hidden cancer. This is not the kind of research I ever wanted to do for a book. But I have learned that when cats crash, they crash hard and fast. And now that the rewrites are done and off to my editor, I can spend as much time as possible making sure she eats and gets a little exercise. But she is sleeping all the time. I miss my funny Aggie, so think good thoughts for her and I will never, ever let this happen again. I promise, Agatha.
It's a mess Posted by Lorraine Bartlett (also known as Lorna Barrett) My office is a mess. There are piles of paper everywhere. I can barely find anything. And yet, I don't feel motivated to tidy up. Why? Because I have nowhere to put anything. Every once in a while I get the urge to purge. The thing is, I'm too sentimental to throw out stuff that just isn't worth saving. Is there any reason to have a box of safety pins on one's desk? Okay, I needed one the other day and for the first time in a million years, didn't have to go hunting for one. (That's one brownie point in my favor, right?) Because I didn't have a flat surface to work on, I recently bought a little wooden TV table (quite sturdy, too), and guess what? Now IT'S covered with papers and stuff. (You can tell this picture was taken the day I bought it, right?) I bought it so I could work on my postcards (which I'm sending out on Friday) and it worked great, but once I finished putting all those stickers, labels and stamps on the postcards, I should have taken the table down and put it away (although where that particular "away" is, I don't know). But, there it sits right next to me, looking like a place a cat should go, get comfy on, and knock all the papers on the ground. Of course, this untidiness has spread beyond my office. Sometimes I find it easier to just go write on my laptop in the dining room. But of course, that entails more than just the computer. I have a wireless mouse (because I can't stand that little pad on the computer) and an auxiliary keyboard, because I can't seem to type on the one that came with the laptop. The keys are too close together. (I don't understand how anybody can text. Then again, they don't write full words or sentences, do they?) And I must have my notebook with the manuscript to date in it, colored pens for making notes, and my yellow pad for writing down those notes. That takes up one whole half of the dining room table. Don't talk to me about the kitchen. When you run two households (and have just closed one down for the winter), you have double the staples. I found homes for the olive oil, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce--but what about all those pretzels, cookies, crackers, and potato chips (only still around because the bag hasn't yet been opened. Once that happens--poof! Gone!)? I'll tell you where they are--living on my kitchen counter. The space I finally cleared when analog TV went the way of the dinosaur. (Okay, I am thinking of buying a flat screen and getting cable in there. I mean, shouldn't I be entertained while I'm slaving over a hot microwave?) And why is it the linen closet is too small for a house this size? How come my extra bedspreads need to live on the dryer for months at a time? Maybe I should toss something out, but what? One day I might need that beach towel that says BIONIC WOMAN (complete with Jamie Sommers apparently running on a beach). I have a lovely hand crocheted (in some Southeast Asian country) full-sized tablecloth (still in the wrapper) that my mother-in-law gave me ten or twelve years ago. Should I toss that to make room for the $4 bedspread I got at a yard sale (that seems immune to cat barf--and washes beautifully)? Okay, let's face it; we all have too much stuff. Is there an antidote? If you've got one, please share, because I'm being cluttered to death.

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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