Tag Archives: animal care

Modern magic

Standard

I love living at a time, and in a place, where I just have to point my finger and KAZAM! – magic happens. Take this evening, for example. In fact, take just the last 15 minutes.

First, by way of context, a word picture. I am sitting at the dinner table, refusing to make eye contact with a deeply apologetic (if you’ll believe one wag of it, which I frankly don’t) small shithead mongrel. In the mudroom is a punctured hen, trembling and panting in a crate. I have cleaned her up and wrapped her in a warm towel, and she’s resting on a cushion of fresh hay. I think she will probably be dead by morning, and I’m very much inclined to insist that Himself put her out of her misery. Himself is very much inclined to “see if she makes it”. I lack the moral or intestinal fortitude to haul out an ax and Do The Deed myself. As the designated Mother Earth figure around here (you learn to make do with what you have, and I’m the only member of the household with both opposing thumbs and mammaries), it falls to me to ensure that any “making it” is achieved as effectively and with as little suffering as possible. “Fuck it,” I say in motherly tones, directing another unloving glare at the mongrel.

0224152004a[1]

CeCe the shithead mongrel chicken-chomper thinks that if she doesn’t look at me I can’t see her, and therefore I won’t be mad. She’s our current foster dog, and I’m thinking her forever family better not have chickens…

At that moment my glance falls upon my magic wand phone, and suddenly I know what I need to do. I point my finger and KAZAM! – there’s Google.

Right, yes, I know, most people would have thought of Google immediately – but I grew up in a different era, okay? I remember the day my parents bought a brand new, hot-off-the-press, late 60s edition set of Encyclopedia Britannica, from an actual human salesman who came to our home. They and he and 11-year-old I sat around the dinner table my great-uncle made (the very table that I now sit at, clear on the other side of the planet), and the salesman covered the table with brightly colored glossy brochures. They were full of snippets of information and they had an amazing shiny-glossy-paper smell, and I was only vaguely aware of the salesman periodically inviting my parents to notice how much their brilliant firstborn was enjoying the opportunity to LEARN. Then he went outside to his car, and came back in with a big box and a free bookcase. And inside that box, good friends, was all the knowledge in the world.

I loved those encyclopedias and spent hours browsing through them during the ensuing years, and I can tell you with no shadow of doubt that nowhere in the lengthy, comprehensive, very-small-print index was there a category for “how to treat an injured chicken”.

I started out to tell you about a 15 minute snippet of my day, and I seem somehow to have wandered more than 40 years off course. Let me get back to the point.

Via my phone, Google told me I could give the hen aspirin – five regular aspirins in a gallon of water. It told me how many milligrams of aspirin were in a regular aspirin (325). It told me how many ounces of water were in a gallon (128). My phone helped me calculate how much water I needed for one baby aspirin (about a cup). Then Google told me I could give the chicken sugar for shock, and how much (3 Tbsp per gallon of water), and also that I should flush out the wounds with hydrogen peroxide and cover them with Neosporin, and that I should continue to do this for several days, and that there was every chance she would survive. Google even provided numerous anecdotes from people whose chickens had survived an astonishing array of injuries, and it comforted me greatly to know that there are real live people out there who will put a splint on a chicken with a broken leg instead of … well, say for example, eating it.

I did everything Google and my phone told me to do, and tucked the hen back into bed, using the same phone to record the occasion. KAZAM! (Seriously, guys – pictures. Taken with a phone that fits inside my pocket. And the pictures – which are in full color – are already available to be shared … with you … wherever you live, anywhere in the world. Do you know how amazing this is? Or is the amazement limited to people whose first camera was a Box Brownie?)

Hurt hen

You can’t see it here, but she’s been well-basted with antibiotic ointment, as well as generously dosed with aspirin in sugar water.

Hurt hen

Tucked up for the night. I still don’t really expect her still to be with us tomorrow … but we’ll see. I’ve done the best I can. (Feel free to chip in here with advice, Mother Hen…)

0224151943a

Argos would SO love to get inside the mudroom… and finish what CeCe started…

So is it just me, or are you also sometimes sideswiped with amazement at this brave new world we live in?

A Day in the Life of a Wannabe Writer … or, NaNo Ate My Brain

Standard

Yes, I am procrastinating. I am also, by writing down whatever random thoughts happen to free-associate within my wrinkled brain, getting those old creative juices flowing in preparation for doing some serious work on The Novel. (Note: wrinkles are widely regarded as desirable in a brain.)

It occurs to me that the novel-writing process is a bit like knitting a sweater. And when I say that I am referring very specifically to the sweater (aka “jersey”, because this happened in South Africa) I knitted attempted to knit when I was in seventh grade (aka Standard Five, because that’s what we called it 44 years ago … Good grief, how did that happen? That was in Historical Times, y’all!)

Back then, Home Economics (aka Domestic Science) was compulsory for all girls. We learned essential skills like how to bathe a baby, sew a layette, maintain a sewing machine, set a table for a formal dinner, and prepare the simpler elements of such a dinner.

I totally sucked at all of it. I desperately wanted to be with the boys, learning woodwork and car maintenance, but back in the early Seventies in South Africa that was absolutely not an option. (I need to explain this to Himself. He is regularly baffled by my inability to remember the significance of fluids vis-a-vis a vehicle engine. I must tell him that it’s Not My Fault! I wanted to learn that stuff, but the system was against me!)

So anyway, one of our projects was to knit a sweater jersey. I chose the prettiest shade of soft, pale pink wool, and my mother cast on for me (yeah, I know, but good parenting is about compromise), and at the end of the term in which we “learned to knit” she sent me to stay with my grandmother, who kept me knitting out on the stoep while we listened to the radio. For hour upon hour. Because there was a deadline, you see – I had to be able to wear the bloody thing in time for my first Domestic Science class of the next term.

This might have been what I was aiming for.  (Pic lifted from LL Bean website)

This might have been what I was aiming for.
(Pic lifted from LL Bean website)

I don’t remember how long the visit lasted, but I suspect my granny finally gave up and sent me home. Or maybe the month-long July (winter!) school vacation holiday ended. All I really remember is that after approximately seven years of knitting and unraveling and reknitting, it was the night before the Fashion Show, when all the girls in my Domestic Science class were to model their jerseys.

I had maybe six inches of used-to-be-pink-but-now-badly-needs-a-wash knitted matter … which my mother cast off and stitched into place around a wooden coat-hanger, while I made two very artistic and beautiful pompoms to attach below the hook.

Coat hanger cover

Like the one second from the bottom, only with grime and pompoms. (Pic found on Pinterest. Can you believe these are still a Thing???)

Hey – if I’d been allowed to make a birdhouse like the boys, I would totally have rocked it!

Anyway, that’s kind of how this whole NaNo thing has been going for me. I’m progressing stits and farts, as my dear Marmeee has been known to say in less demure moments. Take today.

First off, Himself woke at some non-existent hour and needed to read himself back to sleep. While he was doing this, various dogs needed out. Himself being contentedly oblivious to their need, I stumbled out of bed to take care of them. I don’t open my eyes when I do this, being convinced that as long as my eyes are shut I am still experiencing shut-eye regardless of what the rest of my body is doing, and can therefore hope to be reasonably functional when daylight strikes. Unfortunately, because my eyes were shut, I failed to notice that all the dogs had come back in while I sat waiting for them, shivering gently and planning Himself’s demise.

Eventually pried eyes open and wandered through the house, counting dogs. After counting to six three times I was able to believe that everyone was safe inside and not in any imminent danger of becoming a pupsicle, so I climbed back into bed, just as Himself turned his light off and snuggled, still contentedly, under the covers.

By now I was wide awake and too pissed to sleep, so I flipped open my laptop and churned out about 600 words of the most ghastly drivel, before deciding that “Henrietta Gurdy’s Lost and Found” was the single most boring, pointless book ever not to be written, and pulled a pillow over my face went back to sleep.

Woke late, and spent the day gnashing my teeth over my hopeless future as a writer-to-be-taken-seriously.

Decided to take myself and my laptop off to Barnes and Noble and immerse myself in latte fumes and works of brilliance and stay there until I had figured out what was wrong with the damn book and fixed it.

Went out to feed the chickens before leaving, and noticed that one hen was sick. Spent 25 minutes trying to catch her. Tottered into the house clutching her, faintly clucking, to my heaving bosom with one hand, while fending the dogs off with the other, just as Himself headed through the door to pick up something or other he found on Craigslist.

Said, “Screw this,” and dumped chicken inside large dog crate in bedroom, with food and water and blanket slung over the top. So fine, our bedroom now smells like a chicken. Read my lips: I Do Not Care!

Realized that, with Himself gone, (a) the house is quiet, and (b) there is no one here to comment on my decision to fuel my creative urge with the whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia I found in the freezer. (Come on, those tubs are small!) Plus it was getting dark. And it’s friggin’ cold. And anyway, somehow in the course of all the frothing and fuming I’d been doing – or maybe it was A Gift From The Chicken – I’d figured out what I wanted to do about Henrietta Gurdy. So I got myself all set up in a corner of the living room…

Aaand ... GO!

Aaand … GO!

… and I sat down and wrote this blog post.

I can always rely on Argos for help...

I can always rely on Argos for help…

And then Himself came home and started making weird beeping noises on his computer … and pretty soon the dogs will want to be fed.

I wonder whether I can count these words toward my NaNo tally? Because I have only 10,067 down, guys, and only 12 days in which to churn out the balance of the 50,000!

Oh well. At least I know how to fix the darn thing now. So there’s that.

The Big O

Standard

The really horrible thing about having an unhealthy involvement with food (there are lots of horrible things, but I’m talking about the really most horrible thing here) is the way it takes over. Every. Single. Aspect. Of my life.

Image

There’s the house I am too tired to keep clean, and the garden I struggle to grow. The puppy I am too weak and slow and awkward to train, and the horse I can’t ride. The glaciers and mountain peaks and secret valleys I can’t reach. The shame of catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror or plate glass window or a stranger’s eyes. The uncrossable gulf between Himself and me. The constant pain in every joint and muscle and fiber, and most especially the ache in my heart.

It’s like having a portal to another universe populated by starveling goblins, in my gut. Every time I eat, or don’t eat, or think about eating (which, by the way, is all the time) the portal opens and another goblin pops through, takes up residence, and adds its muttered/wailed/shrieked “FEED ME!” to the cacophony. Sometimes I can be full to the point of nausea and still feel a grumble of hunger – for protein, if I’ve just eaten sugar; for sugar, if I’ve just eaten protein; for a cheese-and-tomato sandwich or cake or ice cream, pretty much any time.

Yesterday I took myself off to my doctor. Now here’s the thing, I don’t have medical insurance. I’m not allowed to get sick. I don’t go to the doctor unless I really, really need to. But a few months ago I decided that, at 50-something (I honestly never remember without doing a sum in my head and really, who cares? “They” say 50 is the new 40, but I feel 70) it was time I had a full physical. So I hied me to my doctor and she was thorough – she listened to my insides, poked here and prodded there, checked out the rude bits, and tested various bodily fluids. And at the end of it all, she officially declared me to be pretty dang healthy. Not diabetic – in fact she took me off the blood sugar meds I had been taking. Heart chugging along happily. BP more-or-less in the normal range. It was amazing! I had been so sure of bad news I just about floated out of her surgery – praising God and making all sorts of promises regarding lifestyle changes that would enable me to enjoy and fully use this unexpected blessing of good health.

Unfortunately I had completely forgotten to mention to her that I’d been experiencing an annoying pain in my leg that I was pretty sure was sciatica. And even more (that is to say, very-to-the-point-of-kicking-my-own-ass) unfortunately, instead of following through on the great lifestyle changes I’d promised myself, Himself, and God, I did what most of us fatties do when we’re happy: I ate. I celebrated with chocolate and ice cream and sandwiches, and chocolate ice cream sandwiches. I opened my mouth in a loud SHOUT of happiness … and a whole shitload (and I use the word intentionally) of food flew down my gullet … and the portal opened … and a great howling arose from my gut as new goblins arrived for the party.

Sciatica is caused by an inflamed sciatic nerve. In my case, the pain starts in my left butt cheek, continues down the back of my thigh, becomes crippling behind my knee, then takes a short leap to do achey-icey-burney-tingly to the tops of my toes and my instep. It is not a lot of fun. It comes and goes – and was in gone mode during my health exam, which is why I forgot to mention it. It’s caused by pressure on the lower spine, which gets worse if you add more weight. Which, of course, is what I’ve spent the past six celebratory weeks doing.

And this is why, yesterday, I hobbled back to my doctor. I got onto the scale and … Oh holy shit! What happened?

Yes, it was bad. She prescribed a few weeks of anti-inflammatories and ice … and really serious action on weight loss.

But who am I trying to kid? I knew it was bad. I waddle. I lumber. Its a big deal for me to sit on the floor, and an even bigger one to get back up. My huge jeans pinch and squeeze. All my buttoned blouses gape. Walking hurts – and not just the sciatica, either. Exercise? Don’t be ridiculous! Just sweeping my house demands at least one sit-down-and-rest, and usually two.

I’ve never bought into fad diets, but I’ve tried pretty much everything else. The Daniel fast (which is a fast, a spiritual exercise, not a diet – but you do lose weight),  eating only when hungry while giving myself permission to eat what I wanted (oh boy, did that SO not help!), Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, hCG, counting calories, substituting various expensive concoctions for actual food. And they all work. So really, the only thing I haven’t tried is … sticking to it. Which is to say, I’ve tried, and failed, and tried again, and failed, and despaired, and tried again, and failed.

And here I am. The only Big O in my life is in in the word Obese. I was curious to  know the difference between fat, obese, and morbidly obese, so I looked it up in Wikipedia. It turns out there’s a fourth classification – super-obese. With a BMI of 48, that’s where I belong. For now.

Writing this down, putting it out there, is a new effort. I don’t know how public it’ll ever get, since not many people even know about my blog and I don’t plan to tell anyone about this posting. But it’s here, and I’ll follow up with updates as often as I can – maybe even daily. If God, or serendipity, brings you here, I’d be glad to hear from you if you want to share your own Fat-to-Fit story.

And now to action!

  • The diet plan is hCG. It works, and I still have two vials left. I started today and am furiously carboloading. Funny how uncomfortable it is to be too full when you have to cram in a lot of calories!
  • Exercise … Well, I have five potatoes still waiting to be planted. That’s a good opportunity for some bending and stretching. And the house is a bit of a tip … I can tackle just one chore at a time at intervals between working on the current editing deadline, but I’ll try to do each chore by moving as fast as I can.
  • Water … as much as I can hold now, and then a glass every time I pee. That’s not hard to remember!

I’m ready. Set. Go.