Please… A plea from the Heart


I don’t know why I didn’t have the astuteness to do this, since I signed the petition, but Spiders did. I’ve followed Alexandra for years now. The work she does for urban ferals in Montenegro is humbling. Follow the links in Spiders’ post to her Usyaka blog.

Originally posted on heretherebespiders:

I know I personally don’t like to sign up to anything online that wants my email address. But The Petition Site has proven to me that they don’t sell my address over the years I’ve used it. You also can opt out of posting your name publicly.

So please – if you are reluctant to sign an online petition for those reasons, change your mind for this? “Stop killing stray dogs/cats and initiate a humane Stray Animal Management in Bar, Montenegro

One of the first blogs I ever followed and had follow me in return was all about a simply stunning Oriental Shorthair named Osyaka. In the years that we have been blog buddies, I have come to call her a friend.

However, what she does when not taking stunning photos of her beautiful cat is heart-wrenchingly hard. Hard to read about, hard to see, and hard on…

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Here I am, a sixty-year-old woman who chucks dumbbells around in the back room with the big boys, committed fiction twice with intent, writes passionately about grief and loss, wonks music, phones in advice about aching backs, even posts pictures of cute cats… and the most popular and long-running post/comment thread on this blog is about underpants.

I don’t get the world, but it’s apparently what I have to offer.

The World Needs This

Centrifugal Midwifery

Says : “Inventors George and Charlotte Blonsky, in the 1960s, thought it wise to use centrifugal force to assist with child birth. A woman is strapped to their apparatus, which is then rotated at a speed determined by her doctor. When delivered, the baby actually lands in a net…”

Oh, man. If they knew they were facing this, all those goddam self-infatuated soccer moms with 2.3 little soccer kiddies like the one who nearly reversed her SUV into us twice yesterday at a curb in Northwest Washington might have second thoughts about shitting out the little bastards. Bring it on.

Happy fecking Mother’s Day.


I may have finally hit a problematic wall in my professional life. After nearly thirty years, I am running out of patience with talkers.

Anyone who does a personal service job knows them. They come in talking, they talk the entire time you are rendering the service, and they go out talking — if they go out without having to be helped along by a smart foot in the small of the back. And it’s not just talking, not just conversation as we know it; it’s a high pressure, pushed-out-through-the face stream of information containingeverypossibledetailaboutwhattheyhadatthechainrestaurantlastnight, includingparticularsaboutthegiftcardtheyusedandtheirbowelnoisesafterward. Immediately followed by meandering descriptions of the procedures at their grunt-level retail job or their church committee, barely punctuated by inhalations, such is the urgency of their explaining to you every nuance of their fascinating lives.

Now some people do have fascinating lives. Some travel to Antarctica and pet penguins, and I am happy to hear the whole narrative. Some live quietly at home but can make a story about a crosstown bus ride into a little gem of hilarity and insight into human nature. And most important, they take breaths.

Do you know that talking raises your blood pressure? Do you know how hard it is to relax a person that is urgently telling you important things about how they are sure their sore arm came from moving the mattress, and then gives you every detail of when and why they decided to move the mattress and what they told their spouse about it afterward?

For a solid hour.

I had a Talker when I started out. She would show up early, too. I started not answering the door. “Oh, gee, I was in the laundry room — that washer is loud.” I have a couple of Talkers right now. One has gone from lamenting the work ethics of her fellow employees to, in retirement, lamenting the soap opera problems of her choir director or describing the minute operations of the parish committee, who are short of people to do the books, and stuff like that, but she doesn’t want to  put in more time because she has a new aerobics teacher and doesn’t want to miss any classes, they are doing choreographed cardio, and stuff like that. And stuff like that. About fifty per cent of the monologue is “and stuff like that.”

I have another Talker who has described every office in-fight in her membership organization to me. I know more about the books of this nonprofit than I know about my own bank account — or I would, if I bothered to listen. At a certain point, you start to feel bludgeoned, your ears turn off, and you just have to say something every five minutes or so that makes it seem as if you’ve been paying attention. They don’t care.

All nice people. All people I like and respect in various ways. If they would only. Just. Shut. Up. I start to cringe when I hear them knock. Do they listen to themselves? Do they even notice that they never stop talking?

Yesterday I came back from the grocery and ran into David, my gardener, He Who Talks To Cheese, and I thought I was getting away scot free but no, he had to tell me he was feeling good this week, better than last week, last week he felt weak, but see he’s been taking oil of oregano, it’s in little capsules, and it also has oil of fennel in it, he gets it from California… Just as it seemed he was about to follow me in the door to explain more to me about it I turned, pointed out the clump of oregano in my herb bed, and said “If oregano helps you there’s loads there! Have some!” And shut the door in his face.

I tell you I cannot take much more of this.

Torvald Sees A Butterfly

There was a hugely fat guy with a hugely fat dog sitting in the corner of the vet’s waiting room; balding, straight-backed, attired in a polo shirt that could have provided the covers for a twin bed, with a small gracefully groomed mustache. He was whistling softly as he waited for his bill.

“Carl Orff,” I said. “Carmina Burana.”

He looked up, a little flustered, realizing that I was speaking to him.

“What you’re whistling,” I clarified.

He didn’t quite smile. “Yes.”

Chramer, gip de farwe mir, right?” It’s a Spring song, for a warm day when the young people are out in the sunlight, circling each other and flirting. We were not young, and not flirting, but it is Spring.

He nodded. “You don’t usually hear that whistled,” I said. There was no need for further discussion, which was impossible anyway as the waiting room suddenly became the scene of a dramatic bumblebee rescue executed by the front desk staff. This kind of thing goes on there.

Torvald just needed a check-in and a blood draw to see how he’s getting along with his drugs; in quick, out quick, no waiting. The sun is angling up; the brick parquet in front of the clinic door was toasty, the concrete pots full of blooms and erupting buds of sedum. Torvald, who has become used to these outings and seems to downright like them — except for the “stuck with a needle” part — crammed his sniffing nose against the mesh of the carrier. I adopted him from the outdoors, and he remembers it. I’ve always felt a bit sad that I don’t have a magic forcefield that would let him go out on the lawn safe from dogs, foxes, cars, and fights with other cats. Now I don’t even feel able to let him sun himself on the increasingly warm porch past about ten in the morning.

A completely premature, unseasonable yellow swallowtail fluttered up to the plant pots, curvetting and flickering right at knee height. “Look, Torvald, butterfly,” I said. I don’t know, he may recognize it when I say his name.

[Not my video, but pretty much exactly what we saw. For best results hit play on Orff video above and then on this one and let them run at the same time; it gives you the feel]

I stood there for a while, letting him watch it. If he did.

The Dog-Breath App

Torvald wants to go out on the porch. It breaks my heart to thwart him, but it’s nearly 80 degrees out, and yesterday, when it was just short of this warm, I found him too wilted for my peace of mind in the corner cat platform, breathing just a little fast. Cats do dump heat by breathing faster, which is something we really want to avoid with him now; I took him in and he was fine after a quarter hour on the cellar floor, but of course doesn’t remember the chain of cause and effect. I would rather break my heart than his.

We are supposed to track his breathing rate, and we were about to use the Engineer’s smartphone just as a stopwatch when the phone rang. Dr. Cohn was at the other end with particulars about his follow-up visits. “You can download this app called Cardalis,” he said when I told him what we were doing.

I handed the phone off to the iPhone owner. I have yet to find a serious use for one, though I guess you could say that now I have.

“Heart failure causes your DOG’S breathing rate to increase.
If you have a DOG with or at risk from heart failure, your veterinary surgeon may ask you to monitor this over time.
This app will help you to measure your DOG’S breathing rate…”

Oh well. There are some “pet” people who can’t see past dogs. It works fine, whatever. You tap a heart logo to start it and sit and tap it every time your critter’s ribs go up and down, and after fifteen seconds it beeps, multiplies by four, gets a breaths-per-minute rate and stores the information in a longitudinal database that can be realized as a graph and e-mailed to the vet. It’s actually very handy for someone who has trouble seeing a second hand.

We’re down from forty-plus on Friday morning — when I didn’t need Cardalis to tell me to call the vet and bring him in for a Lasix shot, because apparently his liquid medicine wasn’t cutting it and only the standard pills he started out on will do — to twenty-two last night in a moment of profound slumber, or around 24 earlier this morning. Supposed to stay at thirty or under.

I might get one of those fancy phones eventually.

Torvald in his Famed Swastikat Pose

There’s A Nap For That