six am, and i've been awake since five. it's going to be a long, busy day; i need my sleep. but i toss and turn just the same.
and so i'm up for the timebeing. i poured a big bowl of life and woke up my ibook. moe is snoring beside me on the couch. the world is still dark.
yesterday was a day of fear.
my sister, eileen was in town for the weekend, ostensibly to hang out with helen and me. she was just in it for the kittens, however. i'm surprised she even left the kitten room at all.
so, naturally, the kittens fell in love with my sister, with her high-pitched enthusiasm and kisses. they respond to voices now, and they try to purr and pounce and wrestle. the cuteness is something you could not handle; trust me.
mister gunther, firstborn, first-everything, was very, very docile. or so it seemed on saturday night. his siblings have grown to double his size this week, and though helen and i have harbored a little worry about his smallness, we tried to shrug it off as "someone's got to be the runt, right?" he was active. he was eating.
until yesterday morning.
eileen pointed out, as she played with pablo and shiloh, that little gunnie was off by himself in a corner, face down on the tile, sleeping. we tried to rouse him, but he couldn't keep his eyes open. the other kittens knocked chloe over to get a little boob action, and gunther wasn't interested. i put him on a nipple, and he simply fell asleep, face down, again. and, my god, he was suddenly even smaller and skinnier than the others. i could feel his ribs, his spine.
i immediately went to the store to get some kitten formula and bottle. helen tried to feed him, but he wasn't interested. she finally got him to swallow about a cc of milk with a syringe, but he vomited a few minutes later. and then came the diarrhea. sticky, nasty kitten diarrhea.
eileen, mother of four cats, was in tears. panic began to build in my belly. let's go to the emergency vet, we agreed. outrageous prices be damned. gunnie wasn't going to make it otherwise.
i can't recommend this place enough. they advertise compassion. they're telling the truth. we were seen immediately. the vet tech apologized profusely to little gunther as she stuck a thermometer up his teeny ass and took a fecal sample. the vet, dr smith, is a young woman who is not yet burned out by her profession. she was kind to us and gentle with gunnie. after conducting what few tests she could do on a half pound kitten, dr smith advised us that gunther has roundworm, as well as some bad bacteria. he most likely contracted the parasite from his mother; we had no idea that it can pass through the placenta. the other kittens may have it too, and so the whole family is going to the "regular" vet today.
the vet gave us a dewormer, antibiotic, and vitamins. gunnie has to be fed every 2-3 hours a combination of formula, wet kitten food, and yogurt (not simultaneously--that would be nasty). dr smith warned us that gunther may be too small and fragile to survive the aggressive parasite and bacteria. and that there may be health issues going on that can't be diagnosed yet, but she added with a very human smile, "i've got a good feeling about this little guy."
sober and grateful, we sped off to the airport to get eileen to her flight on time. (yeah, it was cancelled. she had to wait. i think she lost her bag too. the one with ALL of her makeup. if you know eileen, you know that this is trauma.) i got the great idea to pick up a bottle of champagne for mimosas on the way home, while helen and gunther waited in the airconditioned, running car. it seemed like such a great idea until i plopped back down in the drivers seat, handed the champagne to helen, and prepared to drive home. i ran out of gas.
running out of gas at a supermarket with its own gas station doesn't seem too much like a pickle, right? wrong. i ran in flipflops all fivehundred feet to the gas station, and waited in a long line to ask for a gas can. "we don't got loners," apathetic cashier told me when it was finally my turn to talk to him. "we got some for sale in the back."
"okay, how much are those?" i asked.
i pointed to my car--dude i'm right THERE--and he shrugged. "we got some for sale in the back," he repeated.
of course i bought the damned can, for twelve dollars, i might add. i filled it with a whole gallon of gas, and trudged back to the car. and, naturally, i then proceeded to spill gas all over my hands and leg. helpful helen had to help pour--those gas cans are made quite cheaply--as i stood there cursing unintelligibly.
no one stopped to help us the whole time the car was sitting, blinkers on, in a really inconvenient part of the parking lot. everyone just drove around us like we were roadkill. no one stopped at all, until we were covered in gasoline. a broken down van pulled up, and a scruffy hick kinda guy rolled down his window. "hey, you got a light?" he asked. um. yeah, we're covered in gasoline, we replied. "i'm not worried. i just need a light." he dangled an unlit cigarette out the window.
we are covered in gasoline and we are not giving you fire, we repeated. he sped away.
and we laughed for the first time all day.
epilogue: gunther is still with us. he is taking the feedings and medicines well. his energy is returning, and he is suckling his mama again. we're definitely not out of the woods yet, but he is being quite the spunky little fighter.
i've got a good feeling about him.
and smack into the middle of all this craziness came a moment of quiet joy.
gunther, little first born runt, is the most social of the kittens thus far, and when he hears my voice, he scurries as best he can to get to me. this evening, he did his little stick-tail in the air waddle thing right into my hands as i lay them cupped on the floor. immediately, he yawned, curled into a ball, and began to purr for the first time. and then he fell asleep.
i lay belly to the floor for awhile, just holding this teeny baby, mindful of the moment, and it was the closest thing to praying i've been able to do in a very long time.
...okay, well the finding a place part. selling? we haven't even opened up that door yet.
yeah, so the duplex ended up not working out in our best interests, seeing as the contractor guy rented it out to someone else. square one again.
meanwhile, we looked at a WHOLE HOUSE on the east side yesterday morning in an "up and coming" neigborhood. the landlord couldn't see us until today, and so we only got the outside peek through the windows. it's one of those old houses that have been gutted to the studs and built back up. it's got a big ole yard with a clotheline and firepit and space for a hammock.
today, we got to see its insides. holy crap. vaulted ceilings, big ass kitchen with gas range (helen nearly peed), and the landlord seems to be a really great guy. we put a deposit down on it today. we begin moving on monday.
we have a front porch! and a back porch! and a yard! and, if we wanted, we could have chickens too! (we promised the landlord the first pick of eggs).
so. here's what it looks like from the outside:
and here is the aforementioned big ass kitchen:
that's right folks, the kittens' asses are in the air, and life is grand. see pablito and gunther and action, as well as a cameo appearance by the canine wrestling champion of middle tennessee.
i'm about to start some training at work, but i HAD to post a quick update about our brand new adventure.
i just faxed our first rental application.
we may have even found our new home. yes, already.
we just looked at a place in south austin, near all the places we frequent (ie opals, alamo drafthouse, soco, etc), in a neighborhood of many, many duplexes. 2br/1ba, washer/dryer, new a/c. FENCED YARD. and a landlord who is a contractor and likes to fix things himself. AND he likes the idea of helen planting things and wants to reimburse her for any plants she plants.
oh, and three dogs? one being 50+ pounds? no problem. cats? no problem. can we paint the walls? no problem. and the tenants on the other side of the duplex have lived here for four years?
did i mention that there is no ho ass anywhere in sight?
and that it costs 1/4 less a month than we're paying now?
yes, we are girls on a mission. can you tell?
5 am it wakes us up wondering. where are we going?
and thus the innocence mission sangeth:
where are we going tomorrow, where are we going? all i can only say, we will be found...
helen gave me a quick update, for those of you who are biting your nails and repeatedly refreshing this page. (all zero of you, that is.)
synopsis: fines have been delayed as the bylaws are being ratified. but the fines are coming. and the "get rid of the dogs" threat still stands. some details as to why we have been singled out are starting to surface, but i'm going to keep those quiet for the timebeing, lest i be accused of being a rumormonger.
the climate of what we thought was community is drastically changing, and quickly, into a letter of the law, ho-ass ruled urban suburb. this is not what we signed up for. we don't want to own a home in this environment. and so we head to craigslist to find a new home.
gather round friends, and say your prayers, wish your wishes, and think your thoughts. cross your fingers too. helen will be going before the ho-ass board shortly, while i'm stuck at work, trying to muffle the loud thumping of my heart when talking to customers.
we've got a raucous group of supporters who will be hopefully holding helen's hand if she needs it.
for now, it's all about the waiting.
have i mentioned i hate waiting?
happy saturday from ridiculously hot texass, land of vast injustice, such as the saddening resignation of tamara hoover, who was strongarmed and disgraced by the austin school district. i'm very very angry with the good old boys at the top these days, and i haven't written anything over here on the blog because i didn't want to be a bitter little bitch.
but, today, i feel like a bitter little bitch.
this week has been emotional for our little family. on tuesday, helen and i travelled to houston to be with boomp as he underwent serious surgery at ninety. the days leading up to the actual surgery were time out of time, as we went about normal boomp activities: going out to dinner, watching baseball, talking about nashville. i couldn't help but think, in two days this guy will have no spleen or gall bladder. please be okay please be okay please be okay--boomp, can i have a beer?
we are happy to report that boomp made it through the surgery, and though he is fragile, he is still with us. relief.
on the day we left for houston, however, helen got a letter that has thrown us into a whole new realm of uncertainty and change.
it seems that there is a little-read, little-heeded home owners association (henceforth known as "ho ass") bylaw which states that each condo in our complex is only allowed one pet. most people in this privately owned community have multiple pets, mind you, and helen was clearly in violation when she moved in. and she's lived here four years. anyway, "it has been brought to the attention of the ho-ass" that we are in violation of this bylaw. we are to "be rid of all extra animals" by september 1, or else face a $50 fine per violation, per month.
needless to say, our pets are our family, and we take ridiculously good care of them. things are a little more crowded since we took in moe, but still. if it weren't for the constant vacuum war against dog hair, you wouldn't know we even had pets. at all.
we have no idea who has a problem with us. we thought we were popular models of good community. however, someone has targeted us for some strange reason (none of the other multiple pet owners have received the threatening notice), and we're being forced to act quickly. on tuesday night, we will go before the board and plead our case, and also make it known that we have no intention of "getting rid of" our pets. if they don't reconsider our situation, we will sell the condo.
we found out yesterday that the bylaw in question is in the process of being rewritten--what it will say, no one seems to agree on just yet--and so this one-pet-per-unit-that-no-one-acknowledges "violation" we're being hit with is, for all intents and purposes, bullshit. that, and the fact that one of the board members who will be responsible for our fate routinely feeds the feral cat colony that's taking over our hood.
i know that some people around here don't agree with our "lifestyle", but we're good neighbors! we're not squalid, skanky folk. and the ho-ass is totally fucking with our lives. we've worked too hard to build our little family, our little life, to have it messed with so arbitrarily. and when helen called the manager of the property--who signed off on the letter encouraging her to call with any questions or concerns--he acted like a slumlord, repeatedly calling us "offenders". and he didn't even remember writing the letter; his job is to simply sign off on the fates of his squatters, er, homeowners, based on anonymous complaints.
maybe it's the yankee in me, or maybe it's the latent adolescent, but i refuse to bow to the good ol boys. no offense, texas, but you sure have your share of bastards.
this pacifist is girding up her boxing loins.
oh, and we're also petitioning our neighbors for help.
here we go.
excuse the blur. i sucked in my skills today.
last night, i sat in front of our dresser, the one that holds chloe's new family, and rested my head on my hands. helen was sound asleep, and the dogs and i peered in at the kittens. there they were, all squirmy and mouselike, peeping and mewing and fighting for the same nipple. pablito, shiloh nouvel, and gunther. that's what we've named them. chloe was exhausted and i gave her treats and water. she purred as i scratched her head. i told her well done, and what a feat: three perfect babies in the span of two hours. beat that.
i sat and sat until my legs went numb, and then i petted the newborns's thimble heads with my pinky.
i woke up for work in a good mood. there is such relief in knowing that the world's most incredible cat (tm) had made it through the birthing process. like a good grandmother, i uploaded today's photos for the flickr world to see. and then it was off to a day of the kind of craziness that can ensue when there is a taxfree weekend. oh, the frenzy.
even though i only had a half hour for lunch today, i still managed to squeeze in a mini workout--weights only. on busy days like this, my employers graciously provide us with lunch, which translates into grease and/or copious amounts of sugar. and so i worked out with snickers and dr pepper already in my system. oy.
and so guess what i decided while i was struggling with the simulated situps? yep. i'm going to quit the sugar altogether for awhile. wine is the only sugar allowed. (because it's good for my cholesterol!)
my new regimen will begin on monday. no really. monday. this weekend will be kinda like a tax holiday, where the rules don't apply. and i get to experience a long goodbye with my beloved chocolate.
it'll do me good to rid my body of its constant affection for sugary confections. (poetic? affection, confection. damn, i'm good.) and, there is the added bonus of my responsibility as a grandmother. should i fail in my sugarfree quest, i will disappoint a whole generation! and i would never do that.
so. after a few more chomps of chocolate ice cream, i'm done.
i must update the photos as they arrive from my sources (ie helen and chris). the latest report from the ground is that there are, in fact, three kittens. whether or not chloe has any more to pop out remains to be seen. one is reportedly black and white, gender yet to be determined. another he/she is orange and white. and the definite female is a calico, whom we've named shiloh nouvel.
here are a couple more shots taken from outside the drawer full o tshirts:
per helen, over ichat:
congratulations.. you are now the proud grandma of one very active white and black meewing kitten who has already found its way to the breast!
i hate being at work! damndamndamn!
but i'm a grandmother--and # two is on the way...