Schrodinger’s Calico Cat

This is not a funny post. It is in fact a horrible post. If you now anything about Schrodinger’s Cat (Yes, I know there should be an umlaut. Whatever.), you know the cat is simultaneously, theoretically alive and dead. That’s our basic situation right now.

A quick Schrodinger’s Cat tutorial.

At the end of February, what I thought was a fatty growth on Birdie turned out to be an enlarged mammary gland which, according to the article I was sent home with, means a 90% probability of a savage and fatal cancer in cats. Dogs have a better chance, but cats, per usual, are fucked. This article is best read and annotated while sobbing on the kitchen floor as cats mill around you inquiring about treats because, c’mon, lady, you’re in the kitchen.

This diagnosis was also the day of my second COVID shot so it is tough to say if the following days of malaise were a reaction to the shot or the devastating sadness that my perky, spicy, little sass monster had a death sentence hanging over her head. I’m pretty sure the swollen armpit was a result of the shot.

Birdie’s mass removal was an entire week away. A week I spent preparing for the worst findings because that was what the article suggested, but also a week observing a cat who had no idea that she was carrying around that “vial of poison” that could be opened at any moment. Also because grief makes for super rational thoughts processes, I finished the painting that I had started and procrastinated on well before I knew too much about cat mammary glands because I didn’t want to be “the weirdo painting bad pictures of her dead cat.” That is a direct quote from my Brain.

X-rays did not show any growths in her lungs and the surgery went well. They got all of the mass and shipped it off to the high-tech lab for analysis which would be back in an additional 5-7 days. When cats and dogs have a “mastectomy,” they have to remove the entire row of glands, so it looks like they cut my cat in half from head to tail. I got back a Bird with a gnarly incision and sutures, instructions not jump for two weeks, and a cone of shame.

Day 1: she finally reclined so I could see her incision.

I have plenty of close ups that I will decline to post because they are very graphic. There was a lot of dark purple bruising as well as some oozing of various fluids, plus I was supposed to convince Bird that intermittent ice packs were a good plan for the first couple days.

However the biggest struggle was the cone and the no jumping. She was insanely pissed that she could not lick her butt, and she would not settle down to relax. Additionally, my entire house is made for jumping cats so the only spot to contain her at night and while I was at work was my tiny, windowless bathroom where she spent the first three nights crying loudly about eight feet from my bed.

We discovered that the cone tipped over water bowls, but that she could maneuver it around the fountain levels.

I stayed home the day after her surgery to monitor her and give pain meds. Personally, if I had just had a mastectomy and been dosed with pain medication, I would take a fucking nap. Birdie is more into pacing the entire house with me wandering behind her to keep her from jumping, and to help her because the cone turned her into a sad kitty Roomba bouncing off everything. The cone was already filthy because it dipped into her food, water, and litter box so I was also ready for clean up. Around 11 a.m. that day I texted a colleague: “I assume this is what having a toddler is like. Been up since 7, but I haven’t eaten yet because she won’t nap and I’m trying to keep her from jumping off things.”

Mommy is so tired.

We needed solutions.

My district has spent the last year worrying and focusing on mental health and social emotional learning so in that interest, I needed an alternative to the cone and a different containment space because neither Birdie nor I were going to survive the two weeks. The vet suggested baby onesies (still not sure how that works on a cat with a body length incision) and a few brand name products. I found a DIY cat t-shirt onesie and some products on Amazon that my sister sent me because I’m the only human who does not have Prime and immediate shipping.

In another “who wore it best moment”… Olivia is modeling the prototype.

The t-shirt onesie did not go over well, but it did give her an evening of butt licking freedom until our Amazon finds arrived.

She is sooooooo happy to be out of the cone and to be on my bed with her beloved IKEA comforter.

The vet okayed the onesie as a cone replacement after seeing the photo on the bed, and learning that “Birdie demonstrated that she could poop” while wearing it. We got three onesies for daily changes and rinses. She didn’t love it, but tolerated it and left her incision alone. Win.

In the meantime, a colleague had mentioned in a completely unrelated conversation that he an unused Great Dane sized crate. Their Great Dane no longer needed crating. I cashed in on that information, and he was kind enough to bring it over and assemble it for Birdie. I can fit in it! It takes up the entire Happy Morning Sunshine room, but it got her out of the tiny bathroom. From the crate she could see what was going on, interact with the other cats, and even get a sunbeam in the mornings. She did not cry once from that space and even hung out there voluntarily when the door was open. It has displaced an entire room and the associated furniture, but made the two weeks of no jumping bearable. Worth it.

Birdie With Onesie had a much different temperament than Naked Birdie. Birdie With Onesie was deferential to the cats and requested head bumps and kisses rather than starting Fight Club at meal times. She even allowed herself to “cuddle” with Miles. THIS. DOES. NOT. happen in real life with Naked Birdie. In part, I think she was cold, but also feeling the after effects of surgery.

They are in the same space AND touching.

Birdie With Onesie also spent as much time following me as I spent monitoring her. She was very intense. I wonder if the high grade purring was part of her pain management.

What now indeed? Eight days after the surgery, we got the analysis: the worst type of aggressive cancer. Her tumor was 3cm which is right on the cut off/edge/border of whatever mystical survival rate chart people in labs use to evaluate these things. Estimated survival is 300 days without treatment, and 700 days with 4-6 chemo treatments. Somehow it’s worse that it is measured in days.

I will, of course, consult with an oncologist because I can’t not. (And I got all the way to writing this sentence without crying)

So you see… I have this cat who doesn’t have to reside in a “box” anymore, but who is simultaneously, theoretically alive and dead all at once. From here on out she gets all the ham and prosciutto she wants because that won’t be the thing that kills her.

Suture-free and back up to full sass, Fight Club attitude.

Toe Bean Tuesday?

Toe Bean Tuesday? Is that a thing?

Well, it is now because I. Can’t. Even. With Olivia Wigglebothum’s multicolored beans and I’m about 90% certain that today is Tuesday. Not 100% because pandemic time is like a Jeremy Bearimy in The Good Place.

I realized that it has been ages since I spent any morning drinking coffee and reading with a cat on my lap. Miles and Olivia obliged and then Olivia has to get clean immediately!

Cat House Crazies

I like Halloween and I like cats. At least 50% of this statement is true for most of my family members. Therefore when I saw an Instagram post featuring Target’s annual Halloween cat houses, I was ready to make some purchases. My stepmother’s birthday is on Halloween so this seemed like a budget friendly gift.

Three Targets later, ***side note: Target’s website that allegedly tells you something is in stock at a specific store is a LIE. Even the Target employees acknowledged that it is bullshit.*** I had found only one Halloween cat house. It wasn’t the one I wanted, but it would do because after multiple stops only to find empty shelves, I was going to buy the only one in existence!

Her cat approved so it’s all good.

Yes, the crazy cat ladies flock to buy these however there is a more sinister (at least to my mind) element at work. People also swoop in and buy these up to sell on eBay at insane prices. They are made of cardboard! The one I bought for my stepmother was $14.99! I have seen eBay pricing at over $100 for a flimsy cardboard box that the cat is supposed to destroy. I can’t decide who is more psychotic, the people trying to sell these or the ones trying to buy them.

I decided to let my intense mission go. Instead I did a casual sweep of the pet section at my Target whenever I was there for normal errands. Eventually I was able to buy two other house to bestow upon MomBert and my sister.

GGK approved. Retail $16.99. This was the one I was trying to find at first. Lots of visual appeal.
Piper approved. Retail $29.99 but I had a $5 coupon and my Red card. Currently it’s on eBay for $49.95.

If my children acted like this…

Presumably two legged children present the same feeding time issues as four legged children. Based on the social media posts of my breeder friends, I know their kids are at times….. difficult. Stay at home orders are not making this better.

At any given meal time but especially at “lunch”: One child is screaming that he is starving. He actually does this any time I am in the kitchen.

One child is interested in eating, but often needs reminded that we are on a schedule and she needs to put aside whatever she’s doing to come eat.

One child thinks eating is…meh, literally has to be carried to most meals. There she eats two bites then runs off.

As always, kid number four shows up appropriately, eats, and leaves.

Sookie: the good child

In other childish behavior, Ohio was hot in April, but is currently freezing. I’m tired of tucking in my tomatoes for yet another freeze warning. I’m also tired of people protesting wearing masks. As predicted in my head, Americans see a terrible situation and then choose to act like spoiled children entitled to do whatever whenever. Damn the “rules” even if there is a world wide pandemic on.

If my children acted like this ….

We’re struggling…I guess

I like writing this blog, but being locked to my computer for school office hours and then additional hours to prep and generally deal with stuff does not make me want to revisit my screen even for enjoyment. I have to make myself walk away from all the to-dos.

I try to escape outside at least once a day. In typical fashion the weather has gone from warm enough to open the windows back to “it might snow.” The social media posts of my friends who have run 5 miles daily then done a lifting workout don’t inspire so much as they shame me for not wanting to do those things.

Maybe if I did those things and escaped the screens sooner, I’d sleep better. However everything from the committee that I don’t want to be on to my online purchase keeps the voices chattering. I awake blearily to the next day.

I was going to do so many ridiculous things…

At first this whole school closing thing felt like an impending snow day. The storm was coming, we knew it was going to be serious, but there was still that slightly contained giddiness of “Holy shit! I’m gonna get to sleep in!” There was no way they were going shut us down, maybe we’d get an extra week tagged on to spring break. But shut down? No way.

Then within the space of about 45 minutes from the governor’s decision to the official district email, they shut us down on a Friday the 13th no less.

Briefly, unrealistically, time opened up and I was going to do so many ridiculous things. It was going to be hiking and new restaurants with Bloody Marys.

Unfortunately, it rained 3 inches overnight and created flash flooding, and restaurants are now only allowed to offer carry out or delivery. No sitting and enjoying.

A new tattoo sounded like a good use of time. Maybe some bees around some existing flowers. Nope. On the 18th they shut down all hair and nail salons, and tattoo parlors.

Ok. Cats. What about adopting another cat since I am now going to be home for an extended period? I mean I can’t really take a new cat to the vet because my vet is only doing virtual check ups or hand offs in the parking lot. However all of my favorite shelters have closed to visitors unless there was an adoption already in the works. Probably for the best.

Birdie says that there are more than enough cats on these sheets.

I also have an overwhelming urge to buy toilet paper, but clearly that’s not happening.

Back in the good old days of March 12 when Target still had paper towels at the end of the aisle.

The reality is that time hasn’t really opened up. When I wake up at 3 am to go pee, my brain starts making lists and running what-if scenarios. Which might be part of the explanation for why I-on total going to work auto pilot- backed my car into my garage door as enthusiastically as possible. I self-isolated by trapping myself and my vehicle in the garage.

We got out, but I’ve put in as many hours this week as normal setting up e-Learning and trying to wrap my head around how to move forward in an engaging way when none of my instructional cat videos will load to our online classroom! Our tech people are on it; they’ve had the lion’s share of organizing, building, and teaching the teachers.

I can’t complain that I get to keep working when that is not the case for so many. I’m not sick and I don’t know anyone who is…yet. But I did cancel my normal spring break time when I would have been hanging out with MomBert because I was increasingly paranoid about infecting her as well as the looming possibility of a state wide or national lockdown. These cats won’t feed themselves.

Meanwhile my students are looking at a blackhole for the end of their school year. Spring quarter at a high school is an unending shit show of state testing, awards ceremonies for every group in existence, Senior-itis at its peak, prom, and graduation. Very few of those things are projected to happen now. They may end up with a certificate in the mail and a gathering of 10 people or less to celebrate unless those get outlawed.

At least when the weather changes, I might be able to practice some social distancing with a hike.

******By the way this was supposed to be a light, jokey post about how all my trivial plans were systematically shut down by the government, but that went sideways about as quickly as a quarantine order. Sorry.

A Moment in Narnia

Walking in the woods when it’s snowing always makes me think of the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The woods are especially quiet and it brings to mind the initial emergence into Narnia as snow falls onto pines surrounding a very out of place lamppost.

The winter hikes are not always quiet, hundreds of people participate. However on this one, we got moments of magical quiet.

Quiet perfect for getting distracted by shiny decorated bird nests. (Ignoring the fact that the bird is decorating with sucky people’s trash. It ruins the magic.)

Peace of Mind (pieces of my mind)

Early in the fall, I had a porch pirate incident. This has never happened to me before; it was exhausting and upsetting. I received a text notification that my package had arrived, and made happy little plans to use the contents when I got home. Of course by the time I got home, packages and text messages had slipped through the Swiss cheese that teaching high school has made my mind.

I didn’t realize that anything was missing until two of my neighbors started pounding on my front door. One neighbor had captured video of my package being stolen. I learned that this neighbor has at least four cameras mounted to cover all angles, must watch them all day long, and that I should wear pants when I walk to my mailbox from now on. The neighbor recognized the punk ass pirate as a neighborhood resident, but wasn’t sure where on the street “the kid” lived.

Hello, non-emergency police dispatcher. I explained my situation and what info I had.

Police Dispatcher: “Ok, we will send out an officer and the two of you can go to the house to confront the thief and get your package.”

Me: awkward pause

Police Dispatcher: “Ma’am?”

Me:“What exactly do you me ‘the officer and I” will go to the house? I don’t have a badge.”

Police Dispatcher: “Do you want us to dispatch an officer or not, Ma’am?”

Me: “So what happens when I ‘confront’ this person, giving him a visual on who I am, and he comes to my house later tonight and assaults me for calling the cops?”

Police Dispatcher: “Do you want us to dispatch an officer or not, Ma’am?”

Me: “YES.”

The officer who drew the short straw was extremely kind, patient, and put maximum effort into my ridiculous problem. Here’s the ridiculous part.

Police Officer: “Ma’am, can you tell me want was in the package and how much it was worth?”

Me: “Yes, it was a half pound of German Red hard neck garlic worth about $20.” (I was going to come home and plant it, dammit!)

Police Officer: gasping for breath, holding stomach “I’m so sorry for laughing.”

Me: “No, dude, it’s either that or cry.”

The officer watched my neighbor’s footage, took screenshots, and proceeded to talk to people on the street until he hit the correct house. The pirate’s mother and twin brother gave him up immediately. Apparently he has issues and this type of behavior was not new to them. Long story short, the idiot pirate and his twin brought the package back to my house after the pirate got home from work. Per the officer’s instructions mom was supposed to come along and witness the interaction, but she could not be bothered (gosh, why does your kid have problems?).

As soon as I saw him, I went into perky teacher mode. Yelling would have zero impact. I’ve had this dipshit in class every year. He reeks of cigarette smoke, looks like he just rolled out of bed in dirty, baggy clothes, and may or may not be high as fuck. Roll the dice. He says things like, “I’ve just got a lot going on right now. I know I need to make better choices. I want to be better and get myself together. I didn’t mean to do it. It will never happen again and I’m really sorry.” Translation: he’s sorry he got caught and has to have this conversation with me because I seem crazy as fuck and won’t stop using his name in every sentence and asking him about his life choices and support systems. It won’t happen again until makes the next stupidly impulsive choice. Rinse. Repeat until he makes the choice that gets him hard jail time or dead.

I explained to Captain Pirate Dipshit that he had made me feel unsafe in my own home and ruined my evening (this ate up 6 plus hours of my life) over a 1/2 pound of garlic. I explained that I would now lay awake at night wondering if he was going to break into my house to kill me because that’s how my brain works. He just kept repeating his stupid litany of “sorry” and “never again.” We might as well have been discussing the bare minimum homework assignments that he would need to do to barely pass the quarter. Deja vu.

The experience left me feeling twitchy and paranoid. I started sending packages to work or to my mom’s house because I could no longer shop online in peace. The only delivery left to steal was the 50 pounds of cat litter from Chewy.

I decided that I would install some Ring cameras so I could feel slightly more secure and watch my stuff get stolen. The cats, of course, were great helpers.

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It took a small part of the evening to set everything up with wifi and app connections. I left the cameras sitting around inside to get a feel for their range and to play with features. For example, Olivia was not comfortable when a static version of my voice came out of a camera in another room.

Sookie looked into the camera like she had just found all the life answers she needed. In the overnight footage, she sat in the same spot in front of the camera from 4 am to 5:30 am. At least one of us feels better.

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While I do feel somewhat better with the cameras installed, the Ring app has not really brought me peace of mind about my neighborhood. The app notifies you about reported and suspicious incidents from other Ring users in your vicinity. I learned, daily it seemed, that the first most popular activity in my neighborhood was trying car doors to see if they are unlocked at 3 in the morning. The second most popular was randomly ripping down people’s Christmas lights. Every perpetrator in the videos looked like they shopped in Captain Pirate Dipshit’s closet. What the fuck is wrong with people? Do they have a lot going on right now?

Adventure Buddy says I need to turn off the notifications before I lose another piece of my mind.