Sunday, March 18, 2018

I TOLD You He Was Chill!

Seeing as how I promised to write about Smokey’s experience at the vet’s “tomorrow” on the 1st of March, and it is now the 18th, perhaps I will live up to my promise. 

As all who know the-cat-who-would-be-king are aware, he has a very long dense coat. His guard hairs are very coarse and he has such a thick undercoat that it’s difficult to get a comb through it. I groom him from 45 minutes to an hour a day, which he loves, but he is hot, winter and summer, and he loves to go out on the balcony and lie in the snow. So he sheds, and sheds and sheds and sheds. I get a compacted fist-sized ball of hair off of him every day. 

And, sorry if this is TMI, but he has always had a bit of a delicate digestive system. Feed him two different flavours of food on the same day and he gets the runs. Accidentally leave Hobbes’ dry food so Smokey can steal a few bites and I’m cleaning cat poo off of everything in the house, including him. He’s very intolerant of having any poo at all on himself, so he will stand at the bathroom door and yell until I let him in the bathroom, where he jumps on the bath bench and gets a wash, and a dry, though a certain amount of snarling goes along with the drying. Clean we like, yes, but he sees no point in the towelling when the sofa would soak up the water just fine.  

After the fourth time in a single day I’ve had to clean him, and the floors, doors, walls, bath bench, and anything else he swiped his poopy tail on because some people (mostly Papa but sometimes me!) have walked off and left Baby Cat’s bowl unattended a little irritated Mama gets yes, she does. 

So, when we got to the vets I asked her if they would please shave Mr. Smokey from his neck to his tail. Leave the head and legs hairy, shave the rest, especially around his rear end. She said they certainly would do a “hygiene clip”, but do not normally shave cats because they freak out and require sedation, and they don’t do that. 

I tossed what little self esteem I possess to the winds, threw myself on her mercy and begged until she said she’d ask the girls to “try”, but if they could do it usually takes about 20 minutes and costs $120. However, if he was uncooperative they’d stop at the hygiene clip. I said, "He's a pretty chill cat, please, just give it a try." 

She took him to the back and when she returned we extricated Hobbes from the crate he couldn’t stand half an hour earlier and she began his exam. 

Five minutes into Hobbes’ exam she leaned in the direction of the door to the back room and said, “The clippers are still going.” On with Hobbes’ exam. Another couple of minutes, “The clippers are still going.” Another couple of minutes, “The clippers are still going - and they are laughing. I’ve got to see what’s going on.” And she went out the back door of the room. 

When she came back a couple of minutes later she was roaring with laughter. “They started with the hygiene clip,” she said, “Then one held him while the other came up front and started to shave his chest. As soon as he realized what they were doing he shook off the gal holding him and lifted his head up so they could shave his neck. Then they shaved his back. Now he’s rolled over, lying on his back, and they're shaving his belly, he’s even held out his front legs to be shaved. They’re not even having to hold him, he’s stayed absolutely still the entire time, and he's purring like mad. He’s loving it! He’s got to be the most laid back cat we’ve ever seen. They’ve never shaved a cat they didn’t have to hold down!” 

He was so chill it only took them 10 minutes to shave him, and cost $60. Well worth the money. Admittedly he looks like a bulldog, with a big head, blocky body with four square corners, a big broad chest and little short legs, but the haircut looks pretty good. I'm not complaining. 

My guess is he was kept shaved as a kitten, and remembered the routine. He’s much happier since he was shaved, no chasing Hobbes around and beating the living spit out of him. His hair is now about 1/2” long, and we’ve decided we’ll keep him shaved from now on. He’s much easier to keep clean. Both of us are happy about that. 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

He "sings" like a pig caught under the farm gate

Yesterday was “the day”, the one we mark on the calendar and look forward to with trepidation and fear. Yesterday was booster shot and annual exam day for 'the boys’. The moment the crates are brought down from their perches in the closets the boys’ devil-may-care attitudes vanish and they slither like two furred snakes under the beds.

I drop a big towel in each crate, along with a generous tablespoon of catnip. They may not do any good, from the cats’ point of view, but they make me feel better. Of course we can’t just open the crate doors and issue invitations. But fortunately our boys tend to panic and run from bed to bed, and thus can be scooped up during a transit.

In turn each one’s crate is stood on end. Hobbes has to be put in head first, Smokey back feet first. Doors secured, crates loaded on the cart, winter layers on, pocketbook in hand, trusty cane in hand and we are ready for our driver, Gail. While we wait for her to arrive, Hobbes begins to warm-up for the performance, because Hobbes is not *just* the quirky orange tabby who loves strawberry yogurt, steals plastic bags and destroys cardboard boxes, Hobbes is a Felis silvestris catus with ambitions. 

Hobbes resting after his performance 
Hobbes wants to go on the musical stage, and not just to sing in Jubilee Auditorium productions of “Cats” or “The Lion King”. Hobbes aspires to sing on the stages of the Great Opera Houses of the World; The Metropolitan, Vienna Staatsoper, La Scala Milan, The Liceu in Barcelona, Teatro di San Carlo, The Royal Opera House in London. I could go on, but you get the drift.

For this trip, as far as I could determine, he chose as his performance piece an intensely dramatic aria from Verdi’s 'Otello', loosely translated as “God, how could you?”. Verdi used Shakespeare's tale of Othello as his libretto, so of course you know the story; the insecure older man, an African general, marries the young and beautiful blonde Desdemona, who is devoted to him. But his wicked, jealous and bigoted second-in-command, Iago, manages to convince Otello that his wife is unfaithful. Otello, heartbroken and maddened by grief, kills her, and then himself. But just before he dies he realizes he has been tricked and kills Iago as well.

You may see Placido Domingo’s incredible performance of this piece, taken from the film produced and directed by Franco Zeffirelli, here, though the audio seems to have been tampered with and Domingo's magnificent tenor has been dropped into a decidedly baritone range. Still gorgeous.

Sadly Hobbes has yet to attain Domingo’s command of melody or tempo or… to have exhibited any musical talent whatsoever, and as a result his interpretation lost a good deal in execution. However, if enthusiasm counts he cannot be faulted. He went into full throttle when our front door opened and his performance continued unabated until his crate door was opened at the vet’s. How so many decibels can emerge from a 6.5 kilo (14 pound) cat is a mystery to everyone who hears him.

Once out of the crate and on the exam table he was the proverbial pussy cat, docile and friendly, never even flinched when he got his needle. And he was eager and delighted to get back in his crate for the ride home. He sang a less onerous aria on the way back, possibly something from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘HMS Pinafore’.

Smokey is not a G&S fan and grumbled at him the entire way home. There were sharp words between them afterwards. But Smokey was fine with the ride. As long as Smokey can see I’m in the car he’s chill. Smokey’s outing was extraordinary for an entirely different reason. Tomorrow, I hope, I’ll have time to write about that.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Massager with Menaces

Happy Saturday the 17th of February, hackiedy, hack, hack, hack. No, not me. I quit hacking a week ago, but Himself, Lord and Master of the Household, is still barking like a doberman with a bone caught in his throat. Poor old dear. 

On the bright side - think of all the industries we’re supporting; the people who sell cough syrup, the makers of the nasty stuff, the ones who brewgrow, *grow*, the ingredients for it, and presumably say incantations over it. Then there have been the innumerable pills and hot toddies at all hours. 

One morning about 3:00 am in a fit of desperation I got out the teeth-rattling vibrator Ian bought me a couple of years back, hoping it might help my back. This thing has two golf-ball-sized heads which heat up and then proceed to “vibrate” with all the finesse of a jack hammer. The “golf balls” are set in a head which lies at a 90 degree angle to a 14” long handle so, (supposedly) the sufferer can run it up and down their back, with the relaxing effect of being knocked down and trampled by 10,000 Japanese businessmen disembarking from a crowded commuter train at 5:25 pm. 

At any rate, I climbed on our step-stool, pulled the “massager with menaces” down from a high shelf where it lives in a bucket, plugged it in and proceeded to give my DH the pummelling of his 77 years. After a few minutes he assured me that he felt entirely, or nearly so, cured. Or at least I think that’s what he said. He gasped, “Enough! No more!” and fell over on the bed coughing.  

I’m not sure how much good it did. I’ve offered to do it again, but he’s always been busy tidying his toenails or just about to take a nap whenever I’ve asked. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Awaken! Take heed. Do not...

Let me respectfully remind you,
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by
and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken. 
Awaken! Take heed. 
Do not squander your life.
~ Evening Gatha ~ 

January 3rd has slipped away to be replaced by the 4th. What a month the days between the early hours of December 3rd 2017 to January 3rd 2018 turned out to be for us. A far cry from any Christmas season we’ve ever experienced before, frightening, dangerous, painful and exhausting but in the end also filled with the blessings of family and love. 

As described in my last post on the 10th of December, Tony had surgery on the 4th. He recovered quite slowly to begin with and wasn’t able to come home until the 22nd. He now has a walking frame and some other medical equipment and is progressing well, though he’s still in quite a bit of pain. 

I spent at least a couple of hours with him most days, often going by taxi, because the driving quickly got to be too much for me. Ian was my hero during this time. Though it meant he had to work 14 hours a day, he made time to drive 45 minutes across the city, pick me up and drive me 20-25 minutes to the hospital, then sit and work in the hospital cafeteria while I visited with his dad, then drive home again and work until the wee hours. 

We’d barely gotten Tony settled when our younger son Zak and his wife Nicole arrived from Switzerland. We were *so* delighted to see them. We hadn’t seen Zak since the summer of 2014 and though we talk every week via FaceTime, we’d never met Nicole face-to-face before. We certainly weren’t disappointed. She is as beautiful inside as she is outside and we love her even more for having met her in person. Smokey the cat went particularly ga-ga over her. You’d think he *never* got any petting in this household, and the wretch let her comb out matts he wouldn’t let me touch, *and* he let her trim his nails. If it hadn’t been such a triumph I’d be jealous. HA! 

There had been no time for decorating the tree, buying presents other than some I’d bought during the summer - pickings were thin. Thankfully I had at least one small gift for everyone, and we’d gone grocery shopping so there was enough food to keep an elephant happy. 

It was all good, we talked and laughed and enjoyed each others’ company, despite the -35 temperature outside. 

Zak got busy and did a dozen or so small repairs to the place, fixed a leaky faucet, replaced a doorknob, fixed a closet door handle, installed a shelf to keep Hobbes from jumping behind the washing machine, painted the dresser in our bedroom, cutting an access hole in the back of the new sideboard so I can plug in the LED light strips, etc etc etc. So many excellent improvements! 

And Nicole, bless her heart. The Swiss are OCD about clean-clean-overdrive. Though my house was cleaned the day before by our housekeeper, Nicole tut-tutted over the amount of great-unwashed left behind, and dove in. When I expressed concern she grinned and said, “I *love* cleaning, I find it so relaxing!” Yeah, I sit zazen for that. Maybe I should try scrubbing baseboards. 

We had other guests as well, of a more temporary nature, people we love and don’t see enough. Then on Saturday evening, after a week, our little birds flew the nest. We FaceTimed today and they are slowly returning to a Swiss schedule. 

January 3rd marked my 72nd birthday. Ian did some grocery shopping for me and brought dinner. We had a lovely visit afterwards. I’m so proud of my sons and their integrity and their compassion for others. 

Last night was interesting. I often have complex dreams, always in colour, but my dreams rarely include people I know. But last night I dreamed of all three of my siblings, all of whom have passed away. My brother Harrel was the 1st we lost, 20 years ago. My sister Ruby passed away in 2005 and my brother Hall in 2010. Last night all three came to me, at different times. I do hope it was just to say hello and not to tell me my time is up. My bottom didn’t hit the chair long enough to sort out and take my meds until 3:30 in the afternoon today. If I head off to parts unknown any time soon you’re going to have to find someone else to go without sleep, empty Tony’s commode, fix his favourite oatmeal in the morning, make his pills, yada yada. 

And try the Zen. It’ll help you cope. Just look for the books that are dog-eared or with pages falling out.  Awaken! Take heed. Do not squander your life.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tony's Hidden Talent

When my husband dove off the top step, did a graceful mid-air pirouette and landed on the ground with a thunk in the summer of 2008 I cried, “Are you alright?” 

“I’m fine,” he said, “but I’ve broken my leg.” And so he had, with gruesome efficiency.

Thus I discovered he has hidden talents as a diagnostician. When he falls he can immediately identify which of his 206 bones he has broken. Up until last Monday morning his tally was; a skull fracture, 11 bones in tibia/fibula/ankle, collarbone, arm just below the shoulder, arm just above the elbow, arm just below the elbow. When he fell and broke his arm below the elbow a few years back he ignored it until he’d brought in a wagon load of garden supplies. 

When I retired shortly after midnight last Monday am (i.e. a week ago) Himself was sawing logs in his bed, having turned in about 7:00 pm. I was so proud. (I’m trying to train myself to go to bed earlier than 2:00-3:00.)  I lay there sleepless for a while, my body a bit puzzled over being in bed quite so early. The last time I looked at the bedside clock it read 1:00, but then I dozed off. 

At 1:30 I was awakened by a huge crash. I lay there a couple of minutes, trying to figure out what it could possibly have been. Our upstairs neighbours dropping their sofa (or garden shed?). A bomb going off in the parkade two floors down, two cars colliding in the visitor’s lot out front? I half expected the fire alarm to start shrieking, and when it didn't I finally got up to see if I could see what he noise was. 

As soon as I walked into the kitchen I found “the bomb”, in the form of my husband, on the floor. “What are you doing down there,” I asked (rather stupidly in retrospect).  

Tony looked at me in exasperation. “I fell down,” he said. “I’m fine, but I think I’ve cracked my hip.” He was convinced he could get up by himself. How I’m not sure, as he can’t get up from the floor when he isn’t hurt, let alone when he is. I called 911. Two nice young EMTs arrived, picked him off the floor, got him on a gurney, waited while I changed from my PJs to jeans and a shirt, got on my coat and shoes and away we went. 

By 2:00 am we were in the Emergency Dept. of our nearby hospital. Over the next 15 hours he was examined in numerous ways, by a cadre of physicians from four different disciplines. All assured me behind hooded eyes that they knew “everything there is to know” about Tony's extremely rare disease. Two series of x-rays, a couple of CT Scans and three Orthopaedic consults later it was determined he needed surgery to mend his hip and femur, which were broken not across but split down the middle. He needed a long plate and screws to stabilize the split. 

His surgery was Tuesday afternoon, and he’s made a slow but reasonable recovery since. The morphine they’ve been giving him for pain (he has had a LOT of pain) make him have some highly creative delusions, but thankfully cheerful and pleasant ones which he finds amusing (and can’t believe they aren’t real). For example he swears the bed control/call button projects Google maps and street view, cartoons, and illustrations of his rehab plans onto a screen on the wall. 

He’s been moved to a private room because he talks in his sleep non-stop and keeps his roomies awake. (Over the years I’ve learned to sleep through the running narrative.) His new room has a huge window which looks across the courtyard to another wing of the hospital. So another of his delusions was that one of the nurses was hanging off the top of that wing at 3:00 am decorating it for Christmas. 

"They sure get excited about Christmas around here," he said. In the last couple of days the nurses have hung a garland over the door of every room in the unit, and put trees and decorations all over the unit. They really have put a lot of work into making it look really nice and seasonal. I guess that had him thinking about nurses hanging in climbing gear, decorating the side of a five-story building.  

He’s already up doing a few minutes of rehab a couple of times a day, and though no one is promising anything I’m hoping he will be home in time for Christmas. His care has been wonderful. The unit he’s in has 14 rooms, 10 of which have four beds, the other four are private rooms, so 44 beds, not all full, three nursing stations, each with three nurses and an aide. There’s also a nurse practitioner and a Rehab Team consisting of a physician, a rehab specialist nurse and two physiotherapists. 

The other thing he has is a couple of unhappy cats at home, especially Hobbes, who is a Daddy’s boy. They want their they Daddy back, Daddy back, Daddy back. 

Me too fellas. Me too.    

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

These Are Not Tears, Smoke Is In My Eyes

Though it seems as if it’s been months, it’s “only” been five weeks since the morning I came out of our bedroom at 8:00 am and instead of being greeted by Smokey, our bouncing grey basketball of fur, I found him lying in a heap in the hallway, motionless and too ill to stand. Since then there’s been a lot of lap-time and tears, because I know he’s in pain, and I’m tired, and hoping that all I’m doing will help him survive. 

It was sudden, at 2:00 am he had insisted on going for a run in the long corridor that serves the wing of the building we live in. He thundered down the long run, stopping to sniff at the doors of those units where other cats and dogs live. When we got back to our own door he took off and ran down to where the wings intersect and ran down an adjacent wing and back, scampering like a kitten.  

Mr. Smokes on a better day
Our vet’s office starts taking calls at 8:30, and as soon as we were able to get him into the office we had him there. She examined him and noted that while he had no fever he had extreme jaundice. His ears, eye membranes, and gums were a deep peach colour. When his blood tests came back we learned his bilirubin level was over 100, when it should have been no higher than 3.  The question was “Why?” 

She prepared us for the most likely and worst possibilities; feline leukaemia, feline HIV, liver cancer or possibly gallstones, which could be treatable with surgery. When the leukaemia and HIV tests came back negative the next step was to seek the opinion of a specialist who could do an ultrasound looking for a liver mass and/or gallstones. This was quite a trip (45 km), with Ian doing the driving once and me doing it the second time, but from the ultrasound we learned that he had almost certainly had had a gallstone which he’d managed to pass, probably overnight, but which had backed up horrendous amounts of bile in his liver and body tissues. They’d shaved his belly for the ultrasound and his normally pink-white skin was absolutely the colour of an over-ripe peach. 

More ominously the ultrasound revealed he had hepatic lipidosis, a frequently fatal liver condition in cats. Hepatic lipidosis happens when an abnormally high amount of fat accumulates in the cells of a cat’s liver. Even though there is all this fat in reserve, a cat has no ability to convert these fat reserves into energy when it does not eat. When a cat doesn’t eat for 24-48 hours its liver can begin to fail, especially if there are other factors going on, like a gallstone, which has filled the liver with bile. 

Smokey, who is usually a chow hound, ate very little on Saturday, and almost nothing on Sunday. He had slept a lot and seemed a bit lethargic, but then on Sunday night, or early Monday morning, he ran up and down the hallway like a kitten. In retrospect maybe he was in pain on Saturday and Sunday, and that running and jumping was an attempt to dislodge the gallstone blocking his bile duct.  (Apparently it worked!)  

Once we had our diagnosis the treatment plan was clear, but the outcome was not guaranteed. Many cats do not survive hepatic lipidosis. We came home with medication to stimulate his appetite, because getting food in him was to be his only chance at life. My job was to feed him a half-teaspoon of food made into a slurry, so he could just lap it up, every hour around the clock. This was as big a challenge as having a newborn.  

We were back to the vet’s for medication for vomiting, for IV fluids, for more appetite stimulants, for probiotics, to have him weighed. 

After two weeks we moved to feeding him a teaspoon of food every two hours. Profound gratitude.  Now I feed him at 2:00, Tony feeds him at 6:00 and I feed him at 8:00, so I can actually get some sleep. 

Five weeks and we’re still not out of the woods. One day in three or four he eats well, the others I have to take the bowl to him, wake him and urge him to eat a teaspoon of food. He may eat only two or three teaspoons of food on those days, and I fret all over that we’re going to lose him. Recovery from hepatic lipidosis can take months. He’s still jaundiced, his ears look waxen and his poor little naked belly is the soft, fuzzy yellow of apricots. 

Hobbes the little brother, has stuck to Smokey like a burr. He was very upset when Smokey was away at the vet’s. Now when Smokey lies down Hobbes will soon snuggle down beside him, and the two sleep contentedly side-by-side, for the better part of the day, and night too. 

It is not yet the end, because it is not all right yet. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

You Can’t See Emptiness, But You Can Be It

Days continue to shorten, Christmas now approaches. 
It’s a time of expectation. 

We look for light; light from the sun, light of the heart, renewal of the light of the soul. We look for what we long for, whatever it is; connection, relief from loneliness, ease of despair, ease of pain, some sign that the burdens of today and tomorrow will diminish. We look for new beginnings. 

Reading through my collection of much loved passages from Buddhist teachers I ran on this one again, from the book Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden by Zen teacher Karen Maezen Miller. It always reminds me to lay aside my inner chaos, let go and just be. 

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, meditating on the Heart Sutra*,
Clearly saw emptiness of all the five conditions,
Thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.
Heart Sutra

Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. This single phrase is the summation of the Buddhist path, the culminating insight of the Way. But having uttered it, I’ve already strayed from it. Having read it, you’ve missed it, because now your mind is running amok trying to understand it, and here I am trying to chase after you. So let’s come back together in one big, empty place, and start over.

What looks solid is not solid; what has no shape comes in all shapes. In a physical sense, bamboo is strong because it is hollow. It is supple and resilient; it bends without breaking. It supports incredible weight. It grows unimpeded by any known barrier, spreading outward everywhere. This is true of you, too. Where do you think you begin and end? Your feet? Your head? Your skin? Your eyes, nose, mouth, ears? Your thoughts, memory, feelings? The way we limit ourselves imposes a bunker mentality and defies scientific reality.

It helps to remember what you took on faith in fourth grade science. All matter is composed of atoms. Atoms are mostly empty space. By definition you can’t see emptiness, but you can be it. Now, to live and let live in emptiness. That’s the secret to paradise.

First, be quiet. Give away your ideas, self-certainty, judgments, and opinions. Let go of defenses and offenses. Face your critics. They will always outnumber you.

Lose all wars. All wars are lost to begin with. Abandon your authority and entitlements. Release your self-image: status, power, whatever you think gives you clout. It doesn’t, not really. That’s a lie you’ve never believed.

Give up your seat. Be what you are: unguarded, unprepared, unequipped and surrounded on all sides. Alone, you are a victim of no one and nothing.

What appears in front of you is your liberation. That is, unless you judge it. Then you imprison yourself again.

Now that you are free, see where you are. Observe what is needed. Do good quietly. If it’s not done quietly, it’s not good.

Start over. Always start over.

*The original wording is: “Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, doing deep Prajna Paramita,” but since non-Buddhists would not know that the Prajna Paramita is the Heart Sutra, I simply translated the term. Avalokitesvara is  the embodiment of the Buddha of Compassion. 


Saturday, November 18, 2017

It’s so Zen in here

But we are simply Zenning by omission, in other words we have not yet hung a *single* painting on our walls. We still have a line of large boxes in the newly-designated ‘guest room’. They are full of paintings, books and other treasures junque yours truly has forgotten about. Boxes of antique china sit on top of the fridge, waiting for lights to be installed in the sideboard. I am not loading that china into the sideboard, then hauling it back out to install lights and then putting it back in again. Nope. 

20" x 26", weighs about 25 lbs! Ugly to boot! 
We have numerous *large* paintings, heavy suckers. I can’t lift them and hold them up while we decide that they need to go four inches to the right and an inch higher. Himself is no better, having a useless right arm. And until the big ones go up, we can’t hang the little ones. It ain’t arf frustratin’. 

The “Call us and we will come” guys, Karim and Sayid, are simply lovely, but possess a fatal flaw when it comes to this kind of task. They do not listen to instructions, general or specific, especially if they come from the mouth of a woman.  I know *where* I want the pictures hung.  Karim and Sayid would not hang them there. 

But it’s only been five months since we started. I don’t know why I’m impatient. Apparently Rome wasn’t built in a day either.   

Monday, August 28, 2017

When you need help, we always come

Let’s see, we left off with our new TV hung on the wall waiting for the cable guy to hook it up. A lovely, personable young man came out, installed the new cable box, did the magic with the TV and our computers so they all worked with the new service, and left. The next morning the remote gave me the side-eye and refused to even turn the nice new TV on. 

After a long chat with the cable company they said we needed a new remote. They said, “You come to our nice office and we’ll give you one.” I said to them, “I am old and tired and am paying an unholy price for this service and you brought me defective merchandise. When are you going to bring me a working remote?” They asked, “Will Tuesday work?” And it did. They sent a service man, and all was well on the home front. 

At least it would have been if I could be content with the new beds and mattresses still in their boxes, and boxes and boxes of books, painting and doodallallys everywhere. And I just *couldn’t* be. I’m just wired that way. Never content with nothin’.  

I’d been trying to hire someone for almost a month to help unpack and move the beds, get rid of the furniture we needed cleared out, etc, but had no luck. Our friend Mohammed left for Ethiopia the day the painters Karim and Sayid (who are his friends) started painting our place. He was due back on the 7th but we didn’t expect to see him for several days. That’s a long trip. However on the 8th there was a tap-tap on the door and in comes Mohammed, glowing and burnished as a chestnut at Christmas. 

Oh I have *missed* you guys!* he said, and the feeling was mutual. 
He looked around and said, “Still everything in boxes?” and I explained our plight. “I’ll find someone to help you, by *Tuesday*.” He said. 

On Saturday morning he called and asked, “Can they come now? Karim and Sayid are at my house and they will come now and help you. They will do whatever you want.” 

Karim and Sayid are Lebanese. Karim has the most intense blue eyes I have ever seen. He’s been in Canada 12 years and is very proud to have his Canadian citizenship. Sayid is a recent arrival, and is not yet comfortable speaking English but he is very funny. Both are small and quick and energetic. 

They got to work immediately and within about two and a half hours had the furniture we were getting rid of gone, the double bed from our room taken apart, moved and reassembled in the new ‘guest room’, the new twin adjustable beds out of their boxes, assembled and set up, and other pieces of furniture moved around to accommodate  the new arrangements. Karim also replaced a blown out light bulb we can’t reach.  

They also took away the huge amount of cardboard and plastic packing material all of this new furniture required, including the TV box and packing. And they swept the floors after. Good gracious. 

Karim said, “You should have called us when you need help. We said to you, when you need help, we always come.” 

Who knew they meant it? 

Now I am emptying boxes of books and DVDs one by one. (It might go faster if I quit stopping to re-read the books) Mohammed is taking the boxes away for me. The wretched little cat has ripped gaping six-inch holes in the boxes, sharpening his scimitars of death. I fear for the health of the new sofa once the boxes are gone.

But the new adjustable beds. They Are Heavenly. Seriously. Get yourself one. I may write an entire post singing the praises of my adjustable bed. But for now that’s it. We’re on our way to a redecorated condo. Hurrah for us and all those who have helped us on our way.     

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Hoarding; the hobby that will drive you insane

I’m waiting for a TV crew from “Neat” or “Hoarders” to show up at the door, because six weeks in we’re still navigating around a maze of boxes. Boxes of books, paintings, beds, mattresses, new linens, towels, and ironically empty storage boxes which are destined to go under the new beds, once they are out of *their* boxes and set up. 

Smokey, self-sacrificing chair tester 
This is not to say we haven’t made progress. We have new living room furniture in place, sofa, two new chairs and a new storage unit - all beautiful. The living room looks pretty great. The chairs have the feline seal of approval. I admit they are mighty comfy. (Covered to protect from gobs of cat hair) 

Ian went shopping with me to buy the sofa, and he put the chairs and the heavy and somewhat tricky-to-assemble storage unit together. And he went with me to buy the new TV and wall mount. (Damb, those things are expensive!) He hung the TV on the wall a couple of days ago. The cable installer comes tomorrow. Our old TV turned up toes and died this past week. Actually the TV works perfectly well, it’s the remote that died, and the TV has no controls on the unit, no off/on switches, no volume controls. (What’s the extra cost of adding that people? A nickel?) We’ve been turning the TV off and on with the power bar for months, but this last week the volume control went, and Ian didn’t know we were turning the TV off with the bar, and unplugged the cable, and now we can’t get it to turn on again.   

In the end Zak and Nicole postponed their trip until October, which is probably just as well, as they’d have spent their time moving furniture rather than relaxing and visiting. Meanwhile I’m trying to find two people here in the building to hire to help me migrate the big bed into what will be the guest room, set up the two new beds in our bedroom, move the other furniture which needs to be moved, put up curtain rods and hang curtains, hang paintings, put books in the bookshelves, wash the big patio window doors - something my floppy shoulder girdle muscles won’t allow me to do - and in general restore this place to sanity before I need professional help.