Friday, November 30, 2007

I have been getting ready for work with Fancy sitting on my shoulder in an attempt to comfort her. Doing so is not easy.

Primarily this is because does not care for half of my morning routine. She scolds me when I wash my face. She cares not for me peering closely in the mirror so that I can insert my contacts and ends up running around to my back. Applying powder to my face results in an outcry or two. And using my inhaler results in her flying away and then hollering for me to come fetch her.

I think she believes it would be better for me to merely hang out on the couch with her in the morning and leave makeup for another person. I wonder if I forewent brushing my teeth she would eventually change her mind about her dislike for my electric toothbrush.

Kashi stands guard at the bathroom door the whole time. Getting him up in the morning has become ever more difficult, so he rarely has the energy to protest her presence other than glaring at her from time to time.

Before I leave, I try to spend a few minutes with Kashi, reassuring him. When I finally walk out the door, he follows me, sits in front of the door, and casts rather baleful eyes at me. Fancy also makes leaving hard. As I walk past her cage to open the door, she follows me around until she reaches the corner, where she clings to the side with both feet and shove her beak between the bars.

I need a job where I can work from home full-time!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fancy is not adjusting well to being single. Both days I have arrived home to her hollering at the top of her voice. It is my hope that somehow Cockatiels have super acute hearing, and she only begins to vocalize her grief upon my arrival at home.

I look at her, at the cage, at the lack of another bird and start to cry. I miss Madison.

The two of us have set Kashi on edge. Loyal mate that he is, Kashi has never tolerated my own tears very well. He becomes anxious and adds his own voice to the fray. He follows me around. He loses his appetite.

I am quite sure that Kashi cares not that Madison has gone. He is, after all, a Shiba Inu. Bred deep within his little personality is the unerring belief that the entire world revolves around him. And while he is not inclined to hang out with me on the couch, he adamantly believes that Madison and Fancy belong in the cage. It was a personal affront to him each and every time Madison flew over for a chat, to sing to me, and to preen my eyebrows a bit. "Mine" is Kashi's favorite word.

So, I am trying to spend copious amounts of time soothing Fancy, staunching my own tears, and reassuring Kashi that he is still my number one puppydog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I held Madison in my hands tonight as he died. I will be forever grateful that T stayed on the phone with me while I watched his death. She talked of Christmas light snafus and her children and losing at Sorry. I know she felt helpless and awkward, but she loved me enough to wait with me.

Never have I hated MS more than this evening. I often joke about my cheese hole brain. I sometimes try to talk about the frightening changes I observe in myself. Yet, I never stop hating the cognitive changes. Oh, how I hate them.

Friday last I was frantically packing up for a blessed week and a bit at B's house. At the last minute, I noticed the metal clip that I use to anchor open the door on the bird cage lying on the antique record cabinet that stands beneath it. I scooped up the clip and stuck it on top of the cage so I would be sure not to forget it. When Madison hangs out on the door, if it is not anchored, he swings wildly about. I was thinking of him.

But it is as if that moment never happened. I completely forgot about the clip, even when I set up the cage in B's house. I completely forgot about a clip I use daily. I completely forgot.

Madison, ever the nibbler, took delight in chewing off the pink plastic that coated the metal clip. I noticed that his appetite had dropped off, but I attributed it to both the fact that he and Fancy had just finished molting and we had traveled a fair bit to get to B's house.

I should have remembered the clip. I did not.

Wednesday, much to my horror, I discovered that he was bleeding from his nether region. Frantic and frenetic, I called the vet, knowing full well that treating small birds is rather difficult and most often results in failure. She advised to get to the Penn State clinic if no vet was near because antibiotics might help him.

B found a vet, called her mother-in-law to babysit so I would have to go alone, and drove Madison and I to the vet. He had a prolapsed rectum, most likely from trying to expel the plastic. The vet restored it to its proper place (twice), mixed up four medicines and sent me home with instructions to keep him warm.

For the rest of my stay at B's, I sweltered at night so that Madison might have a chance. He didn't much like the medicine and seemed to aspirate it each time I gave it to him. He continued to lose weight.

Damn that clip. Damn this disease.

He stopped bleeding some time on Friday, started to eat a bit more, moved around the cage, and preened himself. I thought he might make it. I was worried, but I thought he was getting better.

He continued to lose weight.

Last night, Madison flew over to me, not quite making a distance he used to overshoot. He hung out on my shoulder, preening himself and taking a nap tucked beneath my chin. I thought he was getting better.

But tonight when I arrived home, I found him huddled on the bottom of the cage. When I picked him up, he collapsed, his labored breathing shuddering his whole body.

I held him. I gave him water with the syringe. I whispered sweet nothings. I called B. She was gone. I tried T. Even knowing she's not a bird person and would feel rather helpless, I called her. I didn't want to be alone. As I listened to her, I cradled him in my hands, trying to comfort him even as grew weaker.

Right before he died, Madison sat up and looked straight at me. For the briefest of moments, I dared to believe that he had just been sleeping. Then just as suddenly he fell back limp against my hands and breathed just one last time. It was as if he was saying good-bye.

I feel horrible. I am sad that a bird that should have had a couple of decades or more living left in him is dead. I am sad that one of my true companions is gone. I am worried for Fancy and how she will take being alone, since Cockatiels are flock birds. Tears are streaming down my face even now.

However, I feel horrible because he should never have been in this position. I should have remembered that clip. Every day for the past seven years, I have used it on the cage after opening the door. Why didn't I remember?

What a wretched caregiver am I...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My brother came in from across the country for a visit. Since I am working this week, he spent the weekend with me before going over to my father and stepmother's house tomorrow. I am truly grateful for the time with him, but I am half dead from his visit!

In an effort to be helpful and despite having a cold, my brother launched into an overhaul of my yard.

He started with pruning the trees. Of course, he and I differ in our beliefs in exactly how this should be done. He is MUCH more aggressive than I and thinks trees should be pruned higher as well. We had several heated discussions before it was all done, but I will say the trees look better, even if the removal of one entire branch nearly gave me heart palpitations!

He then moved on to raking the leaves, which took two days really. It involved getting them out of the flower beds and away from the fence.

When he looked at the fence, he noticed many places where old vines were still caught within the chain links. So, much hacking and sawing later, the fence was cleared.

That led to digging up three stumps that had been left in the yard. I was glad to see those go!

He started edging by trying to uncover all the stepping stones that had disappeared in the grass. While he went on to edge the rest of the yard, I took the opportunity to dig up each of the stones and raise them using some left over stone dust that I had gotten from my writing student's father a while ago.

While he raked, I had chopped up all the branches into the proper length for leaving at the curb for a bulk pick-up. I also helped bag all the leaves. While he was edging, before I started on those stepping stones, I also repaired the drawer on my potting bench that had broken and one of my wind chimes.

I also weeded all the beds and added a section of the rubber boarder that had somehow never been placed in the ground around the edge of the front flowerbed (this involved much digging in the Virginia clay, so I had put it off for far too long). I finished off the overhaul by fertilizing what little grass survived the drought in the hopes it my last through the winter.

Boy, am I sore. My shoulder has been screaming for two days because of sawing up the branches. My legs are painful from being stretched as I bent over the beds while weeding. And I am so stiff that even taking a bath was difficult because I couldn't hold the soap.

Still, I must admit that my yard looks fantastic. Truly. I haven't seen but the merest portion of the middle of the stepping stones for two years. When B comes on Friday, she will be most impressed!

Go Cowboys! They are now 8-1!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tiger finished up the tour winning the FedEx cup. The Cowboys are at the top of their division at 7-1. Sugarland won the Duo of the Year award tonight at the Country Music Awards ceremony! Could just one of them toss a wee bit of success my way????

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I had the Google coup of the century this evening!

I am working on press pieces that center around a ground breaking of this affordable housing complex for one of my consulting contracts. It was the first one for African Americans in the District of Columbia and was designed by an African American architect.

I found some good information on the architect and a wee bit on the complex. But the real gold mind was a study on housing for Negros (sic) in the South (when is DC the South???) that was written in 1950! I saw just bits and pieces of it, but I know, I know that it will be fascinating. After all, one of the "new directions" in the conclusion had to do with residents taking charge of their destiny. Today, a key movement in preserving affordable housing in the District is residents exercising their right to purchase when their homes are put up for sale.

I sent the link to my writing student since she will have access through her college library. I'm fairly sure she'll track it down for me. I never heard of JSTOR, but apparently it is some archive of scholarly articles available only to scholars.

Boy, do I wish I were back in academics! I very much enjoy thinking, looking for connections, and writing about my ideas. I got a vision of a great article comparing 1950 to today, but I really don't know the industry well enough. Still, my brain got a good workout this evening...

Monday, November 05, 2007

I found out that Sugarland is headlining a concert in Charlottesville, VA on December 8th. A friend asked me out to dinner. I asked him if we could change our plans. I am crossing my fingers that he would be willing to drive another few hours to attend a second concert of a band he doesn't much like. What are the odds of that???

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The stars aligned and I found myself without work today. However, it somehow not turned out to be as restful as I thought it might be...

Kashi and I visited the vet. I am dismayed to admit that I had to literally drag him over the threshold. He has the memory of an elephant when it comes to his initial emergency treatment for his infection and ruptured ear drum.

Once inside, he hid behind my legs beneath the chairs until his vet came into the room. I did provide the day's moment of amusement when attempting to correct his behavior. I was holding him so that she could peer deeply into his ear. Shaking his head back and forth, he was making the process very difficult even though I had him in a vice grip. So, I asked her for a moment, stepped away, and asked Kashi in a very stern voice, "Do you want a bath? 'Cause if you do, we can have one right now!" Bathes are his worst fear.

The up shot of the whole visit, despite the fact that he has lost weight again, was that his ear is finally clear. Of course, she advised that I clean them both out once every week or so to keep him used to someone messing with them. I am SO looking forward to keeping up that practice!

Once home, Kashi crashed on his bed from exhaustion (visiting the vet is an overwhelming ordeal to him these days), while I went to work on the house. I vacuumed, dusted, and cleaned from top to bottom (not that such cleaning lasts very long). I washed, dried, folded, and put away four loads of laundry. I cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, and then emptied it. I watered the plants and cleaned the leaves out of the fountain. I cleaned out my bedroom closet and found some more clothing, shoes, and books that I could donate. I bagged them up and put them in the back of my car for delivery. I emptied all the trash, made the bed, put away my clothes from the week that were draped everywhere, and straighted the living area.

Then I crashed on my bed...