Other Worldly, Pets & life

25 Apr

Those people that know me from the radio show, know I have an “other-worldly” side.  I have pursued the paranormal for so long that it is a part of my character.  Trying to describe what other-worldly means to those who aren’t familiar with the concept can be tricky though.  Maybe part of it is the fear of ridicule?

Being other-worldly means that part of the person is more focused on the non-physical world, that magical thing that can’t be seen or measured.  The pursuit of the spiritual self, that hunt for the voice of God.  In my case, it is often the pursuit of a quest for answers, and in the meantime, it only leads to more questions.  Some people want to know if I am a Christian, and I have to shake my head.  Christian these days seems to mean someone devoted to a particular sect and church, more focused on dogma and rules than on questions and answers.  To me, it all too often seems to mean that someone does not have to think for themselves, but rather has let someone else tell them what to think and do.  I guess the God I believe in is much more flexible, forgiving, and yet demanding, than that god.  I can’t believe in a God that wants us to not use the brains s/he gave us!   I have real funny ideas–that God wants us to practice charity and help others, but not because we are told to give 10% of what we get to some church who will then do our charitable work for us.

I don’t think churches are bad, they just aren’t my answer.  Churches, to me, are basically an organization devoted to spiritual well being, complete with a “clubhouse” known as a church.  I agree, all of the members should support their church–it has bills, it has to support that building, and the church’s charitable arm has plans.  I can easily see why any government would rather that its citizens were church people instead of people like me, especially in a country advocating religious freedom.  I’m a logistic nightmare for freedom, I have no written doctrine that tells anyone what I do-or don’t-believe.  At the same time, at least I’m not preaching a religion of exclusion and hate, but rather one of tolerance and cooperation.

All of that is probably more about me and religion than I’ve formally declared in the last 20 years!  I think I’m getting a rash, by the way.  All caused by religious proclamations.  I guess its Sunday morning syndrome?

On the more worldly front, I should tell you about my little family that lives with me.  It features Greg, who while he may be moderately hairy, does walk on two feet and speaks English.  As the love of my life, he takes my crazy tangents and impossible mood swings in stride, and deserves a medal for his tolerance, even if he does hate fans (the moving air kind that I turn on about the time the temperatures hit 70*)

In addition to Greg, I have a pair of dogs who hate each other passionately–Red Dog and Sissy.  Then, plotting on ways to murder Greg and I, there are a pair of cats.  I’ll go on about the cats first.

First, understand that I am NOT a cat person and never was.  I have always been a dog person.  Red Dog hates cats, and has been convicted of feline homicide and doomed to a lifetime of probation.  Cali arrived in our lives about 4 am one morning.  I woke up with the thought that I needed to get up.  I looked at the clock, it was pitch dark still, and said no way and rolled over.  The thought kept on, and finally aggravated enough, I climbed out of bed.  Of course the moment my feet hit the floor, the dogs wanted out.

Now at this point, Red and Sissy still liked each other, so they went outside at the same time.  I opened the door and sent them out into the yard, only to see Red stop and wag her tail, as though someone she knew was there.  It’s 4 am, and there had best not be anyone on my door step!

So, I peered out and low and behold…there sits a small bit of fluff, literally mewing right up the nostril of a cat killer.  Now while I may not be a cat person, I wasn’t going to just leave it there to become a disappointing squeak toy in the jaws of Red either.  I darted out in my nightshirt and rescued it.  But now what?  I had a very large empty crate, as I had just had my last foster dog be adopted, so in she went.  Next it was food, and of course I had no cat food, so it was a bit of dog kibble with some leftover gravy.

To make a long story short, a rescue group got her spayed and vaccinated, and I was to foster her until she was adopted.  She was a cute calico kitten, and I was sure it would be short lived.  Ha.

Every time she auditioned for adoption, she hissed, spit, yowled and acted like she was possessed.  I told her she was crazy, that she did not want to live with a cat killer and me.  She ignored me and groomed herself.  Just the week before Katrina, when my daughter came to visit, I faced the reality that Cali was staying and we needed to integrate her into the household.  It was a good time, when I had my daughter’s help, and within a few days, she had complete run of the house even when the dogs were inside.

Then came Katrina.  We left on our exile about 2 am on Sunday morning, and while we missed the worst of the traffic getting out of the New Orleans area, we still had a long ways to go.  All too soon, the sun was up and the day began heating up, and we were traveling in a pickup with no air conditioning–two adults, a 75 lb. dog, a 25 lb dog, and a teenage kitten.  Cali was wearing a harness & leash to keep her from going through a window.  I was overtired, having not slept on Saturday night (busy loading up to leave) and my daughter was unable to drive due to medications.  Motel rooms, even in Alexandria, were not to be found, and I was worried that we would never find one at all (which was the reason for packing along camping gear)  If we were to camp, that meant that I needed to be well away from the projected path of the storm, because even inland, a tent is not an ideal abode in a hurricane.  At one point, Cali kept crying pathetically, and the ONLY thing that soothed her was to lie on top of Red, who despised the kitten.  I finally told Red to just let her, because I couldn’t take it anymore, and believe it or not, she did.  She just laid down on the seat and let the cat lay on top of her.

We did find a motel in Texas, with the kind help of a woman at the welcome center.  Cali survived her month stay in a motel room with the dogs.  I think the major trauma was the return home, when because I was returning home, my daughter had returned to her home, and I was traveling alone.  Cali had to ride in a crate inside of another crate, safely fastened in the bed of the truck and covered with a tarp.  Traveling at night so that there would not be heat issues, I arrived home about midmorning, before the sun had warmed things up too much.  For the entire 10 hour journey, she had been forced to listen to semi-trucks, honking horns, and passing cars, as well as the sounds of the wind and tarp as we traveled.

Red was the funny one during the trip.  She had liked our temporary home in Texas, and was not happy about a long car ride.  She had sulked and pouted the entire journey, grumbling at Sissy on occasion.  I don’t think she realized we were going home, she just was unhappy about another long drive.  When we reached the point where I-10 crossed Bonnie Carre spillway, she popped up like a jack in the box, stuffing her entire nose into the cracked window and sniffing deeply, perched like a prairie dog on the seat to allow her maximum nose-exposure in the cracked window.  Over and over, she breathed in the aroma of the brackish water (none too pleasant yet in the end of September) and seemed extremely happy.

Arriving home, when I went to move Cali out of the truck, and lifted her crate out of the big dog crate, the crate pulled apart, the door fell off, and she was dumped very unexpectedly on the ground.  Frozen in terror (she is a completely indoor cat) I easily scooped her up and got her securely returned to the crate.  At home, the yard wasn’t secure–damage had rendered the fences easily escaped by a dog, and the dogs were restricted to either a small pen or leash walks.  The trees that had come down had already been removed, we had power and water (not potable yet) and there was still a curfew in effect.  I had no internet, no one to talk to, and couldn’t really leave the property most of the time (and where would I go anyhow?)

I restored the internet sort of with the help of a veterinarian working on animal rescues and an electrician friend.  It gave me a connection with the world, and alleviated the loneliness of those first weeks.  During the day, I worked on repairing my employer’s business and getting ready for reopening, as well as helping them repair their fence so they could bring their dogs home.  If I ventured to a store, it had to be during the limited hours they were open, and even then it was limited choices.  Craving cottage cheese, I will never forget that purchase–it was rotten, totally and completely spoiled.  Not sure how, as the store had been completely emptied and cleaned, but someone dropped the ball on that carton of cottage cheese, which was not expired.  To return it? Nope, it took too much time.

I had brought enough stuff home with me to manage to avoid going to the store for a month, but I did crave things like meat, cheese, milk, and eggs.  Prices were high, if you could find it, and I will never forget my shock at pricing steaks–they were $9.95 a lb.  We are not talking GOOD steak here either, just a plain steak.  I didn’t eat steak.  Don’t remember what I did eat, but it was probably tuna or something from a can that I had brought home with me or had on hand in the house.

Next time, I’ll tell Smokey Robinson’s story (he’s the other cat, and before Greg, was the only male of the house.)

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