Friday, July 21, 2006

From the Archives...

I'm saving things I've written about elsewhere, since I'm not sure how long that forum will continue to exist.

From Wednesday, June 22, 2005: "Glued to You, Too"
I co-opted in college at a fiberglass company. One fine day I was running some tests on a couple of different adhesives (they smelled SO good) that we had gotten in. One required heat and pressure to set. The other was pretty much industrial superglue. My luck, they had mislabeled which was which. So I THOUGHT I had all kinds of time and I had this glue all over my hand and I put my hand down on the work bench and... stuck. So I tugged and pulled... still stuck. The work bench was this huge steel thing that I couldn't move at all and I threw myself backwards as hard as I could but... still stuck. So I started trying to reach the acetone that would dissolve the glue, but it was on another bench. And I stretched and pulled and threw myself in THAT direction. No dice, but that didn't stop me from exhausting myself trying to reach it.

Just about then, one of the VP's of the company comes into the lab, so I tried to assume a fairly comfortable position - one that didn't scream that I'd glued myself to a table. He walked over to me and told me that he had some paperwork that I had asked for. Not willing to admit that I'd glued myself down, I tried for nonchalance and told him that I'd be along shortly. At this point, he was starting to smirk, and he said that he had meetings and now was really better. So, I said that I'd be right along and he should go ahead. At which point he burst into laughter and said 'you've glued yourself to the table, haven't you?' while I was trying to figure out how to plausibly deny this, he holds the acetone bottle just out of reach and starts singsonging 'trying to reach this?' *sigh* That was not my best day.

From Friday, June 24, 2005: "Some Mornings Suck More Than Others"
I had to come in an hour earlier than normal this morning for a meeting. Ergle. And I just now realized that I only applied deodorant on one side this morning.

Also this morning, I tripped over the cat and sent my BlackBerry into a sink full of water. I have to say that these blackberries are much more durable that you'd think, 'cause it's still working.

But I have several new lovely bruises where I crashed into the wall tripping over the cat and then the sink trying to grab the slippery little BlackBerry.

Then I put the coffee pot into the fridge and noticed only because the milk jug wouldn't fit under the coffee filter basket. Left my car keys in the house and couldn't figure out why my house key wouldn't open the car door. AND then got stuck on the car door 'cause the strap of my bag got caught on the corner of the door. *sigh*

From Tuesday, June 28, 2005: "Historical Car Moment"
Since I got hung up on the car door the other day, I thought I'd share another stellar car door moment from the archives.

I learned to drive in a Chevy Suburban. Man, I miss that truck! It could pass anything but a gas station. At any rate, I drove it to school one day 'cause I had a large ungainly project to transport.

I am not exactly tall, and the Suburban wasn't what you'd call low to the ground so to disembark, I had to hop/jump/rappel out. So I slung my backpack over my shoulders, opened the door, hit the lock button automatically and jumped. Somehow or another, I managed a series of events - 1 - my backpack strap got hooked over the door; 2 - I bumped the door closed on the strap and 3 - the force of the jolt when the door closed caused me to drop my keys. The result of this series of events was that the keys were on the ground and I was dangling nearly 2 feet above the ground by my backpack, which was securely closed in the locked door.

Trapped. Trapped like a rat. Trapped like a rat while my esteemed fellow students laughed like hyenas at my predicament. Trapped further when a teacher came over to figure out what they were laughing at, and nearly hurt himself laughing at me as well. *sigh* Eventually, he recovered enough to get the keys, unlock the door and free me from captivity.

Looking back, I can only thank the stars that camera phones didn't yet exist.

From Friday, July 22. 2005: "Irony on a Sunday"
I have 'moments' often enough, that if I detailed all of 'em, I'd never get anything else done but last weekend's moment just smacks of the sort of irony I enjoy, when it happens to someone else.

When I get really ticked off at the world, very little makes me feel better than the sound of breaking china. Not glass, china. So, I haunt yard sales and goodwill and pick up cheap china, just so I can hurl it into walls when I feel like it.

The walls in my apartment would NOT react well to this treatment, so I use a brick wall outside. (My neighbors thought I was nuts BEFORE I started throwing things.)

Last weekend, I was out playing in my flowers in my bare feet. I stepped on something that REALLY hurt and after I dug it out of the bottom of my foot, I realized that it was a china fragment from my last temper tantrum. The china gets the last laugh this time!

From Tuesday, August 2, 2005: "Smokin'!!"
My work keeps the building very cold - I detest air conditioning - and so we've gotten into the habit of eating outside to warm up. (I bask in the sun like a reptile to store warmth for the rest of the day.) The tables outside are stone, with stone benches. Only one table has a tilt feature on the umbrella, but it gets quite toasty on the benches in the sun.

So yesterday, I took my lunch outside, wrestled the umbrella into the right position and plopped myself down for lunch. The bench was VERY warm. Uncomfortably warm...Ooh, my biscuits are burning warm. Well, these tables are built for 4 and we usually squish 7 or 8 people at each one, so I really didn't have room to sit anywhere else at the table. So I sat on that really hot bench for an hour...and now, ladies and gentlemen, I have burnt my ass - I got a sunburn from that damn bench!

Bonus friend moment: My friend C just told me that she went home last night, pulled in her driveway, shut off the car, got out and stuffed her key in the garage door (she just moved in and hasn't installed the garage door opener yet), and then spent several minutes swearing and fighting with the key, which wasn't unlocking the door. At some point, she realized that it wasn't unlocking the door because it wasn't her door. She had pulled into the driveway 2 down from hers.

From Friday, August 5, 2005: "Hair Moment, Revisited"
*sigh* I took my hair down last night and as usual, my disobedient hair wrapped itself around everything around me. Not thinking about it, I realized I was late for a meeting, jumped up to take off and was attacked by my chair, which was attached to me by several feet of hair. The chair came at me, I jumped backwards, tripped over my computer bag and landed in a heap on the floor, with my chair on top of me, still attached. AND not only did I land on the floor under the chair, I ended up in the aisleway between my cube and the wall, just as the VP of operations walked by. *shakes head* Why me?!?

From Monday, August 22, 2005: "Need More Caffeine..."
So yesterday I took the trash out to the dumpster, walking past my neighbors - who were sitting out on their patio enjoying the day. Got to the dumpster, spied my jeep and decided that I needed to check the oil. Went past the neighbors to go in and get my car keys. Realized that I was still holding the trash bag. Passed the neighbors to throw away the trash. Then passed them again to get my car keys then again with the keys to get into the jeep. Then again to find a paper towel to clean the oil off the dipstick then again to get back to the jeep to check the oil. Then again to go inside. Then back to the jeep to retrieve the house keys from the jeep. *giggle* They kind of looked like they were watching a tennis match - back and forth, back and forth. The last few times I wandered past them, they had a distinct look of - wow, something is WRONG with her - on their faces.

From Friday, December 2, 2005: "Coffee Mornings"
Every morning has a routine - I get into work, turn the 'puter on, grab my carafe and trudle off to the coffee station. This morning, like every other, I filled the carafe and hauled it back to my desk.

Today, I attempted to multitask, which always works well before my first shot of caffeine. So I was reading emails as I was pouring and pouring and pouring 'cause I kinda forgot that arm hanging in the air with the coffee pot. I totally flooded my entire desk - most of a pot of coffee tidalwaved over and out of the mug and washed my desk and most everything on it onto the floor, which is currently squishing.

*sigh* It's going to be a LONG day. I can just tell.

From Monday, December 19, 2005: "Dude, Where's My Car?"
so saturday night i braved the mall to do some christmas shopping. they're open 'till 11, so i arrived around 8:30, parked and went in.

just on a side note, what the hell HAPPENS to people in a mall?!? they walk normally in the parking lot, i've seen 'em do it! then they get inside and suddenly they're trying to propel themselves through syrup. hello! move your ass! i'm not here for the scenery and i WILL run your ass over if you don't stay out of my way. i know people who consider a trip to the mall as entertainment. i do not understand those people. i think of it as a war, and i'm not willing to take prisoners. i have an objective, a timeframe and i like the sound people make when they hit the ground and all the air rushes out of their lungs. grr.

anywho... i really don't like this mall 'cause it confuses me. it's got several levels and they all have entrances and i always get confused about what entrance i parked near and what level i have to be on to get out - erk, it's horrid. (keep your smartass remarks about my sense of direction to yourself, please.) and really, i'm sure the sight of me racing past people to one end of the mall only to stop in befuddlement, turn around and race the other way kept the security people entertained for the evening.

so, i finally finish my shopping (or more correctly, give up, utterly unable to deal any further with the rest of humanity), locate a likely looking exit and flee the building, lugging about 400 lb of christmas crap... only to wander around the nearly empty parking lot, freaking out 'cause i can't find the jeep that i know i parked RIGHT THERE. i found and commandered a shopping cart, which made lugging the crap easier, but it was REALLY FREAKING COLD and my jeep was totally gone and i was panicing bigtime - aargh someone stole it and i don't have time to deal with this!! so i decided to get security and i made my way back to the building. by this point, the mall is closed and the doors are locked, but before i decide to erm, finesse, the door, someone waiting for a ride let me in.

now you can picture me in my old-lady-purple coat, pushing a shopping cart full of bags and muttering to myself wandering lost in an empty shopping mall, looking for security... when i realize that i passed a hallmark going in and there's no hallmark in this hallway. crap. my next plan was to find a mall directory to locate the hallmark so i can get out and wow, that's like snipe hunting in december. but eventually i truimphed - at the wrong end of the mall and on the wrong level as well. *sigh*

so i truddled with my cart to the other end of the mall and up the down escalator (as entertaining as it could have been, they'd been turned off by this point) and out the correct door where my jeep was sitting in solitary splendor right where i left it. i felt kinda bad leaving the cart there in the cold when it had been so helpful...

flash to today, when i had to go out at lunch to pick up a filing cabinent. and once again it is freakin' cold here (chicago in december, go figure) and i have NO clue where i parked. so, i was wandering up and down the rows of cars when a coworker pulls up and rolls down his window to see what exactly i'm doing out there. and i told him that i couldn't remember where i put my car, and i was kind of looking around trying to spot it and he says to me - "you really have no clue where it is, do you?" he did offer to drive me around the parking lot and help look, but it's not that big of a lot and i'd already wandered through most of it and my jeep was in the aisle i was in, just hiding behind a hummer so i was close...

so there you have it - twice in three days i have totally and completely lost my vehicle and had to wander around outside in sub-zero weather for several minutes to find it. *headdesk* why me?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

German Kung Fu

So, did anyone watch Jon Stewart last night?

He had a clip of our fearless leader grabbing onto the German chancellor at the G8 conference. She got this look of total revulsion on her face and threw her hands in the air - sort of like they tell you to do to break someone's hold on you in self defense class. Actually, Jon's comment was that she learned that maneuver in date rape avoidance class. I haven't been able to find the clip anywhere, and I prefer to check my sources. Did it really happen? The eight most important people on the planet, and one of them is so clueless regarding protocol that he clamps onto one of the others like she's one of his cigar-smoking crony poker buddies back on the ranch. WTF??

On the other hand, he also showed the clip of Bush vs. Putin on democracy. Here's the transcript:

BUSH: I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq, where there's a free press and free religion. And I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia will do the same thing. I fully understand, however, that there will be a Russian-style democracy.

PUTIN: We certainly would not want to have same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, quite honestly.

BUSH: Just wait.

"Just wait?!?" Wow. There's some stunningly clever repartee. Does that mean we're invading Russia next? *sigh*

EDIT: I'll be damned. It did happen. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

By Jove, I Think I've Got It!

So, today I set up something approaching a blogroll. I have no idea how to edit it, or move it from the bottom to the side, or (for that matter) give it a title, but I've managed to start one, AND have it show up on my blog. Hot dog! Maybe I can handle this whole technology thing after all. Next thing you know, I'll figure out how to turn off the fire alarm without ripping out all its little wires... Or or or how to adjust my toaster so that I don't set the damn alarm off in the first place.

Today, I feel all things technological are possible!

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Milestone, of sorts

Today is the first day that the kitten is free during the day. Up 'till this point, I've locked her in the spare room while I'm at work. I stopped locking her up at night on Friday (or maybe Thursday) of last week.

I sleep like the dead, which is fortunate because I think the kitten spends the entire night racing around the bed like it's a NASCAR track. Any downtime is spent chewing on any part of me above the covers. My hand looks like it went through a meat grinder, and I vaguely remember waking up sometime Saturday night to find a kitten wrapped around my hand, gnawing away.

My main line of defense to date has been to have the air conditioner on. I am not fond of air conditioning as a rule, and I prefer the hot, sticky weather we've had lately, but even I am not willing to remain too covered up when the temperature climbs into the 90s. So, the air conditioner is on and I spent my evenings in long pants and sweatshirts, hundled under blankets. That way, when the kitten climbs me like a tree, it's not actually my flesh that she's digging her razor-like little claws into.

My Sophia remains unconvinced about this whole thing. She is sorta playing with the kitten, occasionally. She chases it around, and it chases her, but she's still spending most of her time up high on the hutch, or on the top shelf of the flora cart.

Sophia is quite the picky eater - food is her kibble in her bowl. Food is not my food or different kinds of her food. Spiders and flying things are food, if she can catch 'em. The invisible semi-annual invaders are food. Kitten food is NOT food - she tried to bury it after a sniff. The kitten, on the other hand, eats EVERYTHING. I am not used to having to guard my food from the cat. I walked in the room yesterday to find the kitten snarfing down cheese corn. This can't be good for her (although the orange all over her face and whiskers was pretty cute). Also yesterday, the kitten damn near drowned herself in a coffee mug, trying to drink my coffee. I'm thinking that the last thing I need is to caffinate that animal. And she LOVES Sophia's food - just hoovers it right down. So, Sophia's food is now living on the hutch, where the kitten can't reach it. Lord only knows what we're going to do when the kitten is big enough to jump.

Of course, that's assuming we keep it. I have yet to name the kitten, and on the whole, I don't think it's nearly cute enough to put up with the irritation. This little adventure has definitely reinforced my no-children policy. If Sophia doesn't warm up to this creature, it's outta here. I think I can watch it growing, though, so hopefully this kitten stage won't last too long and it'll turn into a cat - one both of us can get along with.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Spiders, Oh My!

Several years ago, my uncle bought a house in Phoenix. It had been a rental for many years, and the small 'yard' between the house and the carport had been largely neglected. There's a shed to the one side that contains the washer and dryer, and it was home to spider central - many of them black widows. My uncle is not the spider lover that I am, and he bug bombed the bejesus out of the area, until it was mostly arachnid free. I say mostly, because there was one very sizable black widow that lived behind the siding of his house, accessible through the gap under his outside faucet. You don't know my uncle, but he's very quiet, introspective and intellectual. The image of him, sliding mission impossible style through his door, with a can of raid in both hands, trying to sneak up on this spider then jumping around the doorframe and letting go with both barrels (er, cans) only to have the spider escape uninjured AGAIN just makes me happy. He spent literally months trying to kill this thing - with cans of spray, with brooms and shoes and the hose and other assorted tools, and I'm not sure he ever got it - but his stories of his battles with the spider made my day on more than one occasion.

Flash forward to present day. My brother bought a house a year ago. His adventures in spider-cide have kept me entertained since he moved in. Picture, if you will, my brother with a raid can in one hand and his 'spider broom' in the other as he circles his house on a murderous rampage... The spiders outside appreciate, I think, that Scott cleans all those husks out of the way while they hide in the sliding.

At any rate, if you were to venture down into scott's mostly finished basement, you may spot the source of scott's current unrest. A large spider lives in a hole near his fake fireplace. Scott has been gunning for this thing for months. He's got a can of raid sitting on the steps, where he can grab it and charge for the hole. The other day, he came home and went downstairs to find the spider on the far wall - too far away from his hole to make it to safety. Scott, scenting triumph, decided that a more hands-on approach was called for, and went after the spider with his shoe. As the spider fled for its life, Scott smacked at it - and the spider knew to alter its pattern. Right before impact, the spider dodged and varied its speed, so Scott never connected... But he chased it all the way across the basement, where the spider dove into its hole. (I get pictures of Bugs Bunny swan diving into his hole after escaping Elmer Fudd in my head every time I picture this.)

Scott recently had a flooding problem. It rained all day, then it dumped 7" of rain in under four hours on the area. His sump pump decided that was the perfect time to die so Scott ended up with several inches of standing water in his basement. Apparently, at one point, Scott was sitting on his steps, watching the water rise, with his cat sitting next to him. Suddenly, Hammie's litter box came floating out of one room and past the steps. Apparently the look on the cat's face was almost worth the water. As Scott pondered the water levels in his basement, he noticed the spider, up high on the wall - also pondering the water in the basement. Scott said that the relief he felt upon realizing that the flood had not killed his adversary is making him rethink his position on killing it. He can't help but respect his enemy, and may end up leaving the spider alone.

Both my uncle and my brother swear that they can hear the spiders laughing at them. I think maybe they've both inhaled a bit too much insecticide.

And you know what? My other uncle had a spider episode many years ago in my grandmother's old house. The spider lived in the sink, and every time anyone made a grab for it, it would jump down the drain and escape. My uncle spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to kill that spider and finally one day, he snapped. He poured something flammable down the sink, then he sprayed a bunch of hairspray down the drain, and then... He lit a match and dropped that down the sink too. The resulting explosion blew off his eyebrows, but the most painful part of the experience for my uncle was having that damn spider pop back out of the drain. Hmm. He swore he could hear the spider laughing at him too. I'm beginning to sense a trend.

This is at least partly why I have a catch and release policy - my family does not have an impressive track record when it comes to doing away with our 8 legged neighbors.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Breakthrough?

Last night, while the kitten was asleep, Sophia snuck up on it, sniffed its head, and didn't hiss. This is the first time that she's been within 2 feet of it and hasn't sounded like a dragon. We'll see.

Friday, July 07, 2006


MM and Blaze the Wonder Dog have made it back from the dark side. We're still waiting for the full story, but both of them are bruised and battered. Apparently Blaze's old owner stole him from the Magazine Mansion, just to beat the crap out of him. I just report the news, folks, I don't try to explain it. Whatever his motivation, I hope the asshat rots for a good long while.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hissin' in the Pit

I've subjected numerous people to what my family affectionately calls 'Pete Hill jokes' over the years. All I remember to another one is the punchline 'hissin' in the pit' and something about baby snakes. *shrug* One day it'll come to me.

In the meantime, this phrase was running through my head yesterday as I watched my Sophia react to the presence of another four-footed furry one. I've been debating with myself about this since a bit before Memorial Day. My mom's cat had 6 kittens. She's keeping one, my brother is taking one to entertain his cat and she's looking for homes for the rest. [Want a kitty??]

My poor Sophia spends a lot of time alone, and I've considered getting another cat for a while. She was also the only cat in a cage at the shelter, and she had that bright orange caution sticker. I just have never determined whether that sticker was for people or other pets.

When my brother lived near my parents' house, I would stay with him over the holidays. I would also bring Sophia with me. His cat, Hammie, is an affectionate but timid Russian Blue. Hammie (short for hammerhead, as his friendly head-butts to the backs of your knees can send you flying) is a sack o' sand cat. Anything you want to do to him is okay by him. He is one of those cats that you hear about, that you can dress up in baby clothes and haul them around like luggage. One thing: Hammie LOVES other kitties. They aren't ever as fond of him, but he certainly tries. Think here of Peppy La Pew and his frantic cat girlfriend.

One of the funniest things I've ever seen was near Christmas a couple of years ago, while Sophia and I were at my brother's. I was cross-stitching. My cat has a string/thread fetish. Sophia was utterly intent upon my needle and thread, and the tip of her tail was twitching. Hammie was utterly intent on the tip of Sophia's tail. He came slinking along the couch, stalk stalk stalk and then POUNCE! onto her tail. My cat jumped several feet into the air, hissed like a dragon and took off running, with Hammie in hot pursuit. Poor baby - it makes me laugh just thinking about it.

At any rate, I went home for the fourth of July and was captivated by the little balls o' fuzz. So captivated, in fact, that when I returned to the Chicago area last Wednesday, I brought along a small passenger. The road trip wasn't nearly as bad as I feared - the kitten spent most of the time sprawled bonelessly across my lap, dreaming kitten dreams. I also hauled back some of my furniture, so I had a fair bit of unloading to do.

My first trip into the house, I deposited the kitten in the spare room and shut the door. Then I grabbed my cat, stuffed her in my bedroom and shut the door. This way, I could leave the sliding glass door open while I unloaded without fear of feline escape. It didn't take Sophia long at all to start complaining about her captivity, and she was in mid-yowl when the kitten also voiced her displeasure at being detained. (She has an impressive lung capacity for one so small.) Sophia's yowl died mid-stream, and she was suddenly a very quiet kitty. After I finished unloading, I freed her, and she immediately glued herself to the spare room door.

*sniff, sniff* Indignant look at me - one that clearly says, "What the hell have you done?!?" *sniff, sniff* *mutter, growl*

I scooped her up, went into the spare room, shutting the door behind me, and plopped down on the floor with my Sophia in my lap. The kitten came bounding over (as much as she could - coordination is still something of an issue), thrilled to find another cat here in the wilderness. Sophia quickly disabused her of that notion. My baby turned into a hissing, snarling demon.

So far, Sophia has been dealing with the issue by sticking to the high road. By that I mean that she's been living on top of all the furniture, and hissing anytime the kitten passes below her. The kitten resides in the spare room while I'm at work, and at night. I'll give Sophia a couple of weeks to adjust, but I'm trying hard not to get too attached to the kitten, just in case things don't work out. I already miss my Sophia - I'm on the shit list for now. Wish me luck with the adjustment period!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Lengths We Go To...

The Magazine Family over at the Masthead is not having a pleasant holiday. Their dog, Blaze, was apparently stolen off his run in their backyard. Given that the neighbors' disappeared dog ended up being found in the city's garage dump, a victim of dogfighting, there's a whole lot of people currently fearing the worst for Blaze.

Some bonehead with 20/20 hindsight demanded to know why Blaze was left unattended for a split second (which actually makes me wonder if someone was gunning for him, 'cause he's not unattended often). Being much more gracious than I happen to be, MM turned it into a request: when you say that your animals are family, to what extent do you mean it? Give examples.

It got me to thinking, which was undoubtedly the point. I've said for years that I prefer animals to most people. I've cried harder for them than at any other occasion in my life (but I am very fortunate that I haven't lost those closest to me). So, how far would I go? I'm not sure I'll know until I'm actually there, but I can look back at what I've done in the past.

I ripped all the duct work out of the basement to free my hamster, who promptly bit me. At the time, however, I was all of 10 or so and didn't understand the havoc I was wreaking on our heating and cooling system. I still have the scars, from the bite and from the nasty slice I got from the really sharp metal edges of the ducts. Of course, since then I've ripped into those ducts often enough, to free assorted rodents, that Dad actually put in a little door specifically to rescue the wildlife that finds its way in from the dryer vent. So I'd have to say that the second time I tore it all apart, to save a chipmunk, took more nerve, since I vividly remembered Dad's reaction to the first time. I took a deep breathe, thought to myself, "well, I'm going to pay for this," and dug in.

As a teenager, I braved "the thunderstorm of the century" in a nightgown to retrieve my panic-stricken cat. I nearly got squashed by two different trees before I caught the cat and made it back to the safety of our basement. In this case, as with most, I can't take credit for bravery or even nerve (or sense for that matter), since it never occurred to me until it was too late to turn back that maybe this wasn't the wisest course of action.

And really, maybe that is one of the defining characteristics of "family" - to be willing to rush headlong into something dangerous, maybe even lethal, knowing full well that you are going to potentially (maybe even probably) cause yourself pain and doing it anyway because it needs done, because you've promised someone - even if it was just yourself - that you were the caregiver. It was your responsibility to see to the safety, care and comfort of that soul.

I've darted into the street in front of a moving vehicle to snatch a very dear friend's toddler from nearly under the bumper. We were in the house and an hour had passed before I realized that I very nearly didn't make it. If I'd been wearing a bulky sweater that day, that car would have had me. Once again, sheer blind reflex.

I routinely risk my fingers moving snapping turtles out of the path of traffic, and I probably risked more than that freeing a fox from a leg trap one winter day many years ago. That is not extraordinary behavior as far as I'm concerned. I have zero tolerance for seeing animals in pain. My feeling is that if you have the ability to reason and to realize that someone/something is in distress, then you have the responsibility to do something about it.

I've spent more money than I care to think about (and certainly more than I had readily available at the time) on vet bills. Fred, our cockatiel, managed to get into rat poison once - I caught him crunching those greenish bluish pellets like candy and my heart stopped. We spent several hundred dollars on the vet, and then had the added joy of another couple of weeks of giving him shots in his scrawny little chest, and squirting medication down his throat to bring him back to full strength. The best was when the little shit figured out that he could stick his tongue into the end of the syringe to keep the medication from flowing down his little birdie gullet.

I have volunteered with abused and neglected horses for years, and some of the things I've seen that people do to them just sickens me. I've been in situations where I stood there in horror and literally had no idea where to start - like when some fucknut decided to hogtie a misbehaving filly to a fence - with barbed wire. Or the little goat that was stuck, chest high, in a stall so full of waste that he literally couldn't move. At what point, exactly, did this seem like the proper way to care for an animal?

And that brings me to what is the hardest thing of all: when there is nothing you can do but say goodbye, and help them go gently into the night... When I was 12, and our dog had arthritis so badly that we had to carry him outside to go to the bathroom, and he looked at my mom, his best friend in the whole wide world, and she knew he was ready to call it quits... When our cat was hit by a car, and dragged herself home and touching her caused her so much pain... When Fred, our wonderful little cockatiel, wouldn't eat and couldn't sleep and stayed puffed up and miserable in the corner of his cage... And now, with Lady, our courageous, ferocious darling with her damned pure-blooded hindquarters, who drags herself over to get pats and attention and snaps at her own rear when it won't do what she wants it to, and who is so mortified at her growing incontinence. It's killing me inside, and I'm crying now, because I know her time is short. She looked at me the other day the way Hanz looked at Mom all those years ago - this isn't fun anymore and she's ready to go home. Now I need to find the strength that my mom had then - to let go, to say goodbye and help her leave the body that's become a prison.

I don't know if there's a Heaven or a Hell, or if it's all just Karma and we're working our way up from dung beetles but Hell is saying goodbye. And if Heaven doesn't include my four-footed friends, I'm not going.