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Have a great Epiphany!


She's Ba-ack!

MORNA IS IN THE HOUSE!!! I went out on the deck to fill her dish and she came up and said hello and thank you before she started eating like there was no tomorrow….and before I went inside, which I took as a sign that she was actually happy I was there. She took her face out of the dish a few times to talk to me and nudge my hand. I talked back and petted her while she ate. Then I just picked her up and brought her in. Her and her dish. Touka went nuts - barking, tossing toys around, spinning in circles - all excited. And soon as Morna jumped down from the washing machine, where I’d put her to finish eating in peace, the chase was on. But, another good sign: Morna didn’t run to the front door….she ran to my room! I’m going to let her stay in my room whenever she wants. There’s a cubby-hole behind the door where I can keep a litter box. But if she bolts out the front door again, like when I take Touka out to potty, I’ll understand. And I think she’ll understand that she can come and go as she pleases.

Sunday mornin' with the kids

This morning mom asked, “What did you name that cat again?”

She named her Missy, but I answered Misty.

“Oh, that’s a good name for her!” she said.

I’m not real fond of it, but it suits her. She’s a light silver-gray tabby with darker gray markings that sort of fade at the edges, and her white under-belly is not bright white but rather like the color of the moon white….so, she looks all misty.

She and Touka are playing together, therefore my instincts were correct. My instincts told me Touka wouldn’t eat her. They play as you’d expect a dog and cat to play….Touka lunges and Misty rears up, claw-ready, and sputters and hisses, then a fast-paced chase ensues. Misty wins for her ability to reach high places (and reminds me why I have no use for knick-knacks). Then Misty jumps down growling and they start the game again.

During down timeTouka will let Misty climb all over her and knead her back and face. Misty will curl up under Touka's most furry places for cat naps.

It's cute.

Morna still comes onto the deck for breakfast. She watches for it. This morning she came out from the garage when she heard me pour food into her dish. Glad of that, as it indicates she’s found the nests I made in there and is staying out of the rain. But she wouldn’t come onto the deck until after I went inside. Maybe she’ll choose to come inside at some point. Until then, she’s my outdoor cat.

Mom still spoils the indoor critters. Lets them eat from her plate and lap up milk from her cereal bowl....while she's eating! yeesh. She hollars at Touka for bad decision-making and brags on her for wiser decisions....because she attributes far more intelligence to animals than is even reasonable. Like knowing how to use the TV remote.

I just have to bear in mind my reason for bringing pets into the fold here - to give mom 'someone' to love, to care for, and befriend - and let go of the annoyances.


I may have lost Morna to the wild permanently. I still put food out on the deck for her every day, and she usually shows up to eat only moments later, but then darts down the drive and takes a left to the neighboring house soon as she hears any sound or movement whatsoever. I’m going to find or make a little house for her and put it in the garage-with-no-doors. It’ll be her winter home. I’m considering setting a trap, too.

Touka misses Morna a lot. She gets all hyper when she sees her on the deck or in the yard. So, when one of my customers offered me a kitten I thought it over for a few days, then said yes.

I brought her home tonight.

She’s a pale gray tabby, about 2 months old. Mom wanted to name her Lady but I talked her into something a bit more diminutive and a little less common. Her name is Missy. I’d have liked Luna or Stella, something like that - her subtle coloring brings to mind an ashen moon behind a misty haze. But I can live with Missy. Sounds a lot like Misty.

Welcome, little one.

Missy will spend a few hours a day in the birdcage until she gets acclimated and to ensure nobody gets hurt while she and Touka get acquainted. I have a good sized mobile pen where she’ll sleep and play safely until she learns litter box usage.

I’d still like to get Morna back inside. She appears healthy but she’s likely picked up parasites and possibly even feline kidney disease, so I’d have to keep her quarantined until everything checks out okay.

Since she lost a baby, maybe the kitten would be the right bait.

Midnight and I’m unusually hungry.And strangely, oatmeal with toast sounds good.


Snow was forecast for Paradise, to fall at 8pm Sunday, moved up to sometime between midnight and 5am Monday. I was up until 4am and didn’t see snow and when I got up at 10am there was no indication it fell at all.

I did however get a text message from Julie at just past 2am. She wrote, “It’s snowing!!”

Snow in Orangevale is highly unusual. I was 10 years old the last time it snowed there twenty years after the time before that.

It snowed only 8 miles up the road from my home, up in the little town called Magalia. When I say ‘up the road’ I mean that in a very literal sense. I live on a mountainside where 8 miles up the road is another 1000ft in elevation. Today is clear and sunny, so I’m sure it’s a muddy mess up there.

Could get a white Christmas this year. Mom’s all psyched about that. Last year our first enduring snow fell a few days after Christmas.

I’m no snow bunny. I tried skiing once - once. Spent the afternoon mostly in a free-fall down the beginners slope on my backside. But I love a little frosting. Especially on Christmas.

unedited draft

One of my customers owns a little motel down the road a ways. He’s from India. He asked me why people just toss their money at you when they pay for stuff.

“I hate that,” he said.

I don’t know why they do it, but I hate it too.

Why you throw it down like that? Who you mad at? It’s not like beer and liquor and cigarettes are a hard sell. I’m not RJ Reynolds. My last name’s not Anheuser. Don’t be mad at me. Twisted, mangled, wadded up bills - I have to unravel and press out every single one so they’ll fit in slots specifically dimensioned for flat, neat bills. Then the next guy’s all crabby cuz he didn’t get the fast, friendly service.

And Wadlow has the cheapest motel in the whole town.

I know his name’s not really Wadlow, but when he told me his name it sounded like Wadlow.

Cheap rooms, nice guy, nothing’s free in this god damn world, you dick-wad you, so give him the money nice.

I don’t get you money disrespecters. And does it make you feel all better after a long day at work to be an arrogant asshole to convenience store clercks on your way home?

Worked a double shift on Saturday. Bleh. Getting harder to ignore the ugly side of the liquor store biz, making my time there more arduous.

Alcohol-related misfortunes befalling Ray’s customers in the year I’ve been employed there include:

3 dead; traffic accidents
2 terminal illnesses; failing liver
1 stabbed
15 arrests ---
5 drunk in public
6 domestic violence

Undoubtedly there are other tragedies I’m not personally aware of.

Haven’t seen Morna in a while. Only raccoons at her food dish now. Touka is lethargic, miserable without her sister and play-pal. She’s a dog who needs a cat. Melissa and Casey have offered me one of their new kittens. They are a lovely couple. Melissa said the kittens are adorable and affectionate. I’m considering their offer. No replacing Morna, but it’s a languid home without a kitty.


Touka just got her first hair cut.

EEEEEE!! She looks so CUTE! Less like an oft-used dustmop, she looks just like a dog.

And you can tell she's a girl!....because her pink collar shows, and also apparently mini-schnauzers, once all the hiney ringlets are shaved down, have a naked ass.


For like the hundredth time I’ve banged my knee right on that spot that takes you straight down swearing like a mutherfucker!!

Great desk for what I paid for it; $40 at a thrift store. Mostly real wood, solid (as fuck!), lots of drawers….

And that's the problem. Drawers on both sides. Including my swing-out side.

I’m going shopping for a new desk ASAP.

I’ll bet Deven could use this one. But not if he swings out.

Jeb and Irish

Monday. My day off and another day of keeping appointments. Today, Mom’s mammogram, a home-site appointment with an agency that’s going to bring a piece of equipment that will measure her oxygen absorption rate while she sleeps, and a consultation with the a guy who will fill in for the regular gardener while he recovers from a stab wound.

When I sat down here I wasn’t sure what I would write about today. Let’s cover the gardener’s story.

Jeb is Mary’s brother. Mary is the good neighbor who helped take care of mom for a while, and who’s room-mate was bludgeoned to death with a hammer earlier this year.

After several months of physical therapy and life-skills retraining following a 16 month-long coma, Jeb came here from Oregon to live with Mary because he awoke from that coma weakened by a 50 pound loss and an alarming immune deficiency.

I’ll note here that this malady hasn’t stopped Jeb from going back to his pre-coma drinking and risk-taking ways. He likes his cheap beer, and he is one crazy hillbilly.

I think those two traits, more than the residual effects of the coma, are why Jeb hasn’t obtained and/or held regular employment. Plus, I doubt he has an up-standing work history. So to help out with the beer money I hired Jeb at $25/week to take care of my yard, and any way you look at that you can definitely say I’ve been getting my money’s worth.

A few weeks ago Jeb was having some beer with Mary’s man friend, Dooley, and in a drunken slur he told Dooley that he was at one time a professional snake venom milker. Dooley just happened to have a rattler at home and immediately went to fetch it, all fired-up to see an actual venom milking. Problem was, apparently none of the extensive physical rehab Jeb got gave him back the snake-milking skills he once may have had, and in very short-order Jeb was bitten on his left hand, second problem being it was a baby rattler. Jeb’s been bitten by rattlers before, a hazard of the job, but never by a baby. And in case you didn’t know, baby rattler venom is more potent than an adult’s.

Jeb told me he’d need about a week off gardening duties while the swelling went down and “so as not to cause the venom-tainted blood to rush”.

His arm was just about back to normal a week later when he was stabbed in his right hand….

Again over beer, Jeb told his best friend, Grunge, that he’d be moving back to Oregon because life with Mary was getting a little complicated. So Grunge asked Jeb for the TV.

Jeb said no. Ergo, a defensive stab wound and possible loss of the use of his thumb, which was nearly completely severed.

The guy who will take over the gardening duties is another neighbor who needs the work. He’s a little more expensive at $10/hr but he works only 2 hours a day, and he understands he’s going to have to stick to a maximum of just so many hours per week. I’ll call him Irish because he drinks a half-pint of Irish whiskey every evening.

He’s a hard-working guy when he can get work. Not easy for him because he has cerebral palsy, or as he plainly puts it, he’s a cripple. His legs are most effected, but as twisted and unpredictable as they are, Irish walks all over town, which by all appearances is quite an achievement, and takes whatever work he can talk anyone into giving him. He also takes care of his disabled wife. And if Irish can make my yard look even a fraction as pretty and welcoming as he’s made his, it’s worth the $10/hr til Jeb’s back.

*Gross Alert*

Morna has been coughing occasionally for a few days and vomited Sunday night. Twice. While I was cleaning up one pile of vomit, Touka was eating the other. Naturally I yelled “No!“ and made a lot of gross-out sounds, but Touka ate the one faster than I could clean up the other. Even grosser, as I rushed to the garbage bin with a paper towel full of vomitus, I noticed something odd sticking out of it. It looked like a thin plastic wire. Upon closer inspection I realized it was alive, and had lots of company.

Morna’s stomach is apparently full of toxacara - roundworm. And if they hadn’t been spread to Touka yet, they certainly have been now. Chances are she’d picked them up already though, because sometimes Morna uses Touka’s litter box and then Touka plays with the poop or even eats it! Plus she’s Morna’s personal wet-nap; licks her butt after she potties.

Fortuitously, Touka had a vet appointment scheduled for early the following morning. And rather than toss the paper towel into the garbage, and with it a whole family of roundworms, I put it in a sealed container, so the toxacara familius went to the vet too. Touka got her rabies vaccine and an oral dose of gooey stuff that should start killing any roundworms.

The vet made an appointment to see Morna this morning. We’ll be going there in about an hour. I feel so bad for her, she’s probably had this problem for a long while - considering she was rescued from an abandoned house full of homeless animals and vermin, she was probably infected before I got her.

Both of them will have two follow up doses of de-wormer, all to be scheduled for the same 2-week intervals, all around mom’s busy appointment schedule and all on my days off.

Mom will eventually have surgery to repair bladder and vaginal prolapses. Doc said the prolapse is very severe and at this point surgery is the only relief. She’s at risk for post-surgical embolism, so Doc referred her to a surgeon in Sacramento who specializes in high-risk patients. We’ll be traveling down there for initial consultation, an exam, tests, and finally surgery - it’s about 80 miles distance. She has hundreds of tiny cracks in her vertebrae, so she doesn’t travel well for long distances. She’s going to be in a lot of pain. And she came very near dying of pulmonary embolism the last time she had surgery, about 15 years ago, so we’re pretty anxious about it. But she’s really suffering with this problem, it’s really bad and it’s causing other problems that will worsen without surgery, so she’s ready to go for it.

One bright spot; mom and I had our massages yesterday afternoon. We’ve been going every 2 weeks, then we go to lunch afterward and maybe pop into one of the dozens of antique or thrift shops. She loves those mother-daughter days. And she gets quite uppity about being a lady who can afford regular massage appointments - always “happens” to mention it, maybe a little loudly, while we’re in the restaurants and shops.

“Do you see a masseuse?” she’ll ask perfect strangers, “Oh, you should, it’s just wonderful. We go regularly.”

Ya gotta love ‘er.