Tag Archives: pets

Nanowriwon’t, or how my life conspires to prevent me from writing…

Okay, it’s morning. I’m awake, perky, eager for the writing demons to take over my head and heart and fingertips and maybe even help me type without the need for constant correction. It works best if I don’t look at what I’m typing, so I can’t see the wiggly red lines under everything. Why, oh why, didn’t my mother let me take touch-typing when I was at school??? She said, “No, daughter mine, that WILL NOT DO. You will end up being a secretary and I won’t have it.” So untrue. She should have realized by then that she was the only person I would ever take orders from. Sometimes I even ignored her. Not often, though. She was ferocious.

Still and all, I miss the touch-typing skills. By the time I decided I needed to learn it, I’d already developed my three fingers and thumb method and that, my friends, is impossibly hard to retrain.

So up I spring, joyous, ready. But wait. What sound through yonder door breaks? Tis the dog, and his walk must begin. Well, fair enough. I can’t expect to have him cross his legs until I finish the novel, tentatively titled “Stigmata”.

Of course that’s a working title. Of course I know there have been other books and movies and such already written, viewed and trashed with that title. But it’s a good short form for the story I plan to write. I already have the visual. I need a visual to start a story. It’s my method.

But first, the walk.

We meet everyone today, which means the walk is punctuated with pauses to allow said dog to smell other dogs in areas I avert my glance from, plus the usual inanities of conversation over a pooping dog, which of necessity are distracting and yet not so much so that you lose the location of the poop, which you must them carefully enclose in a bag for disposal. Perish the thought you leave a bit behind. And heaven forbid the dog urinate on the condo’s lawn, as hordes of shrieking aged ladies will drive by in their Lincoln Continentals and throw tissues at you (used) from their sleeves and say such ridiculous things as, “We prefer they don’t,” nose wrinkle, “urinate on the lawns.”

It’s tougher than it looks, this dog walking routine. But finally we are done and I tell myself, well, that was a good thing. The air is fresh, it was good to get out and around as now my brain is freshly aired and ready, yes ripe for the task.

I turn on the computer.

There’s a whine at my feet.

Ah, yes, dog needs feeding. So off I go again, scraping something into the dog’s bowl that looks suspiciously like the stuff I just picked up in my precious bag. He ignores it. He wants the milk from my cereal, which of course requires that I pause to have some cereal. All good, I think. A brain needs carbohydrates to work. I eat, and look wistfully at the coffee pot. Ah, the heck with it, I argue. Caffeine is a writer’s best friend. I make a pot, which requires some hovering because I have foolishly become attached to a Bodum and must wait and stir the coffee grounds with a special spoon until it is perfectly dark and then push down the handle just so before I can drink it. I’ve even knitted a coffee cozy to keep the Bodum warm. That was on another day I was going to write. It’s brown and I haven’t sewn the buttons on it yet, but not today, I tell myself firmly. Today I write.

Back to the desk, and I open my email, just to check for emergency notices which I am sure to get because my life is very very important and if I don’t check and respond to email (well, and Facebook) right now the entire earth will be suspended in space and time.

So now it’s noon.

The dog needs to pee again and is lounging around with a chew toy in his mouth looking at me like I am the most horribly neglectful pet parent the world has ever created. At some point in my wasted morning (though I did have a good conversation with my sister on Google chat and we sorted out some things about siblings and travels and stuff), he’s eaten his food and licked the bowl absolutely clean, and then gone rummaging in my yarn for a treat I unwisely laid under it last night.

I detangle.

We walk.

It’s lunch, so I eat.

It’s two o’clock and I’m feeling a bit sleepy. Perhaps if I take a nap, I’ll be much more able to write later in the day. I’m always best in the evenings, I tell myself. I work quickly then, feeling the panic of an unused day leaning on me.

But I suddenly realize – other than the walk, I haven’t exercised.

We all know how important regular exercise is to the body, and to the mind. I’d better get in a few moments on the bike before I get started. I wipe off the dust and sit in place. Hmm. Need a book to read while I cycle. Go get Kobo, wait for it to wake up, start reading Lawrence Block’s “Spider, Spin me a Web”. It’s almost the same thing as writing, reading about writing, right?

I do my fifteen minutes, arguing that I’ve walked at least fifteen and have met my required “thirty minutes a day or die” requirement.

I smell bad.

I skipped a shower this morning, as I was so keen to get writing this morning. Now I can barely stand myself. My hair itches.

And I know I’ll be more awake if I have a shower. Isn’t everyone?

It’s now six pm.

The dog is looking at me with a lean and hungry look. I go to feed him again. He ignores it. He would prefer my dinner leftovers, but I’ve decided in the interest of actually getting something, anything written, I am going to skip dinner and just drink wine. Antioxidants, right? I might have a carrot or two later. I need to lose weight anyway.

The image of food is dancing through my head. At least I think it is food. The wine has made me a bit muzzy. I watch a few videos on YouTube while I sober up.

I have never been so hungry. I want beef, and lots of it. I happen to have some stew made up in the fridge, but since I abhor microwaves, I have to heat it up on the stove. Which requires some hovering, since it sticks to the pot as I have so frequently burned things in it.

And of course I must have more wine.

I eat. The dog licks the plate. We are both happy.

There was something I was going to do, but I have no idea what it was.

Never mind. Tomorrow I will rise with the sun and leap into writing, fresh and vibrant and alive.

I like my bird…

Being a pet owner has its privileges. I get to be a part of their little intimate lives. It’s an honour, especially in the case of my little gal, Dora. She’s a parrotlet, a tiny Amazon parrot. According to Wikipedia:

Parrotlets are a group of the smallest New World parrot species, comprising several genera, namely ForpusNannopsittaca, and Touit. They have a stocky build and a broad tail, much like the lovebirds of East Africa and fig parrots and pygmy parrots of Australasia. They are endemic to Middle and South America.These miniature parrots in the wild travel in flocks which, depending on the species, can range from as low as four to over 100 birds. Most species travel in flocks of about 5–40. They form life-long and tight pair bonds with their chosen mates.Parrotlets are the smallest commonly bred Parrot species in captivity. The genus Forpus, particularly the Celestial or Pacific Parrotlet, is growing in availability and popularity in aviculture.

I adore Dora. She’s about 3 inches long and every inch is filled with attitude. She loves me, too, and there’s something about having a little bird think you are fantastic that is so strange and wonderful it never fails to touch me. My puppy loves me, too, but dogs are supposed to love people. It’s their job. Birds aren’t supposed to love us. They are wild things, after all. So when Dora hangs upside down to peer at me and beg to come out, or when she flies through the apartment looking for me, only to land on my head and settle there, it is infinitely heartwarming.

She cuddles in on my forearm when I write, gently and persistently wrecks all my pens and papers, and lets me groom her to get those pesky feather wraps off her beautiful blue feathers. I’ve seen her eat an entire half sandwich  – freakiest of all was that it was a “baby chicken” sandwich – fried egg and cheese. She loved it, but then she likes eggs, generally speaking.

Today I was treated to a Dora bath on my desk. It can’t be good for my computer components but it is so cute to watch her in her mini tub, splashing water all over herself. It’s an oddly intimate moment – when her feathers are wet, she can’t fly as well – so she is putting herself at risk, bathing so close to a big human person. I’m honoured by her trust. Of course, in her mind, she could take me anytime.

It’s such a blessing being able to see into the minds of our non-human companions. It teaches us so much – about ourselves, about the world around us. In many ways we are our best or worst selves with them.

For me, I’m likely to become a crazy bird lady. She was always my favourite character in Mary Poppins … although in these days of the 99% and 1%, the message means more. We share with our pets; we must share with our fellow humans, too.

Chutney the somewhat magnificent

I have a little puppy

Who goes in and out with me

And everywhere that I go,

That’s where he wants to be.

He takes me out on walkies

through sun and snow and rain

And just when we get back

He wants to go again.

I love my little doggums

Though he can be a pest

Like when he eats my underwear

Or makes a garbage nest.

He’s begging now for dinner

he whines and scratches me

But I know I’ll give it to him

And he’ll turn away and pee

I really hate my doggums

I wish he’d go away

But then he gives me kisses

And I have to go and play.

Animal cemeteries, or, is that dead gerbil still in the freezer?

There was an article in the local rag today about how a woman and her son had been arrested after the bodies of 37 cats had been found buried in their back yard. Horrible, but…

This put the fear of retribution back into the easily terrorized corners of my mind. I mean, what parent doesn’t have a complete pet cemetery  in their back yard?  I mean, of any parent that allows their kids to keep pets, that is. You know, those tiny “pocket pets” that don’t take kindly to being kept in pockets, or kissed, or handled, or ignored.

I’m still waiting for the lawsuit from the guy who bought one of our houses.  It was during a relatively heavily laden pet time in our house, where there were no end of fish, gerbils, hamsters, rats, mice, birds, guinea pigs – and those were only the approved tenants. Of course they died – the fish because, well, they are fish.  Fish die. Always.  My son was keen on goldfish (died), guppies (died) and finally Betta Fish (lived – the best pets ever!). He named each one, he cherished each one, he cared for them as well as he could.  We spent millions on treatments for ICH and other disgusting diseases and the poor guy has gone into studying water remediation partly because he suffered so when each one died. Each one had to be buried, carefully wrapped in tin foil and sealed in a film container (he’d read the ads about “seepage bothering your loved ones” from an agency selling stainless steel caskets, and he worried about seepage bothering his fish.  In vain I argued that fish LIKE dampness.) We would bury them in one part of the garden, place a special marker, offer a moment of silence, say the proper words. “He was a good fish, always let the other fishies eat before him, swam really well even when he was on his side…”

Eventually, the sorrow got to him and he joined his siblings in the rodent parade. We already had a dwarf hamster, a senior hamster from a friend who didn’t want it anymore, a mouse, a gerbil, a guinea pig, and now he wanted a hamster of his own.  He saved up, bought one from the local pet store  which was, unfortunately, too young to be sold.  He named it “Flash” because it ran so fast. It died within a day. We buried it in a different corner of the garden, wrapped in a juice can sealed with tin foil.  The service was brief but intense, as my son was now convinced he killed things by his breath alone.

The other kids’ animals died too, in turn. Gerbils developed seizures, rats got cancer, hamsters developed mammary cysts, guinea pigs overgrew teeth and got horrible things wrong with their bowels that I won’t go into here. It was a long long life of funerals, interspersed with the endless purchase of better cages, expensive medicines, and runs to the vet with various animals.  Getting the guinea pig’s teeth filed alone cost us over $200. Did you ever guess guinea pigs needed their teeth filed?  I didn’t.  The vet said that in the wild the pigs are eaten before their teeth get long.  It’s a design fault.

They ate fresh organic vegetables, gently rinsed in spring water, their beds were soft and cleaned more than I washed our sheets, we sang them lullabies and let them play and poop freely, peeled them orange segments and hand fed them when their teeth were sore.  But these tiny creatures are short-lived, and gradually the backyard garden became filled with little sealed containers.

The dog started to hang about in the garden with a lean and hungry look. Why beg for treats, when, with a little digging, he could get lovely smelly things for himself?

Of course, this IS Canada, and often the ground was too hard for burials, so our freezer ended up getting filled with tiny corpses. The worst were the guppies.  Each sealed in a tin foil shroud, they would be placed along the side of the freezer so they wouldn’t be forgotten when spring came again.

We did forget.

One fall tidying up time I was clearing out the freezer and found ten little corpses of fishies and one of a rodent (unspecified as I didn’t want to check).  After that I convinced my son that fish corpses would prefer to be flushed.  Like earth to earth, right?  Water to water? We changed the funeral services and stood in sadness around the toilet, watching them spin around and around disconsolately until they vanished. I planned to do a series of framed pictures of each one to decorate the site, but couldn’t keep up with the demand.

We ran out of suitable burying space in our small yard, so my daughter insisted we do a Viking burial for her mouse, who had conveniently perished in a wooden chew ball.  We took ball and mouse to the lake front, built an origami paper boat, tried to set it alight as it headed out into the waves.  The boat collapsed and the wooden ball, intact with dead mousie, floated away out of range. All I could see was some poor child running down to the beach at their cottage, spotting the wooden ball as it washed up on shore, exclaiming with joy and then horror as she saw its contents. Years of therapy follow…

Time came to move from the house.

We sold it to a fellow with two Border Collies.  We had to change our names and delist our phone number so he couldn’t find us when they went crazy and dug up all the film containers.

But it’s a small town. Maybe one day he’ll catch us. I wonder what the prison sentence is for pet deaths from over-kindness?