Friday, July 29, 2016

Time Plods On Tiny Turtle Feet

Thought for the day:  You wanta fly, you gotta give up the shit that weighs you down. [Toni Morrison]

Ms. Morrison makes a good point, but there's also another way. Sometimes, all it takes is a friend to get us up off the ground and safely to where we need to be.

You can thank the Atlanta newspaper for this re-post. A brief article on Monday reminded me of something that's happening right now in New York, something that fascinates me so much that I wrote a post about it five years ago. That's plenty of time for y'all to have completely forgotten about it by now, and I think it's a story worth retelling. It originally ran in July of 2011 as We Can Fly With a Little Help From Our Friends. With a wee bit of editing, here it is again.


Thought for the day:  Man must  not allow the clock and the calendar to blind him to the fact that each moment of his life is a miracle and a mystery.   H.G. Welles

All's relative at a family reunion.
No, I'm not gonna go all Einstein-y on you, but the old dude was right. Time and speed are relative. Children have little grasp of time, and scant concern about it beyond the eon separating one Christmas from the next, or the interminable amount of time it takes to drive to Aunt Sally's or to their favorite vacation spot at the beach. On the other hand, as we get older, our days no longer seem to contain the full allotment of twenty-four hours, and the days, weeks, months, and years pass so quickly, there doesn't even seem to be much point in bothering to take our Christmas decorations down anymore. Like the joke says, life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.

Speed's the same way. To a child pedaling his toy car down the driveway as fast as he can, he's flying like the wind. But if you put that same pedal car on the autobahn? Different story. And compared to a snail, a turtle moves pretty darned fast. But compared to a 747? Road kill.

Or at least,  it could be.

If  you've ever been disheartened by news stories about modern progress pushing yet another animal out of its natural habitat and to the brink of extinction, here's a story of a different breed. Right now, a piece of the modern world is hitting the pause button. Or you could say ...  it's slowing to a crawl.

You've heard of the annual running of the bulls? Well, every year diamondback terrapins leave the salt marshes of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to take part in a slow motion stampede of their own. In this annual running of the turtles, these critters lumber to their nesting grounds, and every year, a herd of 'em crawls right through New York's JFK Airport during their trek to the Jamaica Bay Refuge Center to lay their eggs. In 2011, their journey intersected with JFK's Runway 4, and an estimated 150 turtles shut down the runway and delayed flights for approximately an hour. As one unnamed Jet Blue pilot allegedly said, "Running over turtles is not healthy for them, nor is it good for the tires." Right. I can't see as how being run over by a 747 would be particularly healthy for any of God's creatures. Life transforming, perhaps, but definitely not healthy. This year, some 400 turtles have been making their laborious way across the runways and taxiways.

As soon as the first turtles are spotted on the tarmac every year, the airport staff springs into action, and does what they do every year. They rush out to help. Some terrapins are hand-carried across the runway to safety, while others are scooped up and given a lift to their nesting grounds in the bed of a pick-up truck.

It just goes to show you. Even if we cover it up with concrete, steel, and asphalt, nature is still all around us. And it was here first. It's good to know the folks at JFK Airport understand that.

Another thing this turtle tale reminds us? Even though we may feel like a lone turtle plodding a solitary path on the scary runway of life at times, we're never truly alone. No matter what obstacles and hardships we may face, no matter what tragedy befalls us, there are support groups, both online and off, to lift us back up again. No matter what our destination, there are always other people willing to help us in our journey. All we have to do is let them. In the amateur radio community, the more experienced hams who provide guidance and assistance to other hams are called Elmers. In schools and workplaces, we have tutors and mentors. Same for most hobbies, and same for writing. Especially in the blogosphere. Not only is there a host of aspiring writers blogging about their travails and triumphs, but there are also agents, editors, publishers, and already-published authors offering a treasure trove of tips, advise, and support, and bless their hearts, the majority of them are more than willing to throw us in the back of their truck and help us across that scary tarmac. In a matter of speaking.

Know what? This old broad may still plod like a turtle, but with so many helpful friends in and out of the blogosphere, I feel like SUPER TURTLE!

You know, we can all be super turtles. With a little help from our friends.

                                    Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, July 22, 2016

How to Push a Pill

Thought for the day:  In ancient times, cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this. [Terry Pratchett]

Okay, so it's true. Cats may possibly have a certain attitude, a superiority complex, some might even say. Then again, maybe they have cause to feel superior. After all, they're sheer geniuses when it comes to training their owners staff. It sure didn't take our cats long to train us. Plus, cats tend to be so doggone cute, they can get away with just about anything. And they know it.

People who like cats reeeeeally like cats. We love 'em, pure and simple. But they certainly aren't simple; those sometimes-cuddly, sometimes-aloof critters can be downright complicated. Their favorite food on the planet can suddenly become disdained for no good reason, especially if you're foolish enough to buy an entire case of it from the wholesale store. Yet, their nose-in-the-air pickiness over what we put into their bowls is evidently no longer in play when they're in hunt mode and looking to supplement their diets. Then, they'll eat... or try to eat... damned near anything. Bugs, plants... even the plastic and silk ones... paper, plastic, unidentified blobs they find stuck to the kitchen floor, whatever... and let us not forget how terribly much they enjoy licking each other's bottoms. Not just sniffing, like dogs do, but eyes-closed, blissful, all-out licking. Go figure. Or not. Maybe we shouldn't even try to figure out their quirks and over-the-top personalities at all; maybe all we have to do is love and enjoy them.

Last month, I shared some oh-so-helpful tips with you about how to bathe a cat. (Final decision there: best to take them to the groomer, and fork over hazard pay.) Now we're gonna consider how to give a cat a pill, which is something I hope to never have to do. With a dog, it's easy. They'll scarf up anything if you stuff it into a wad of liverwurst, cheese, bacon, or about a million other possibilities. Cats are a whole other story. They require much more finesse, along with some handy dandy directions from me, courtesy of some more Internet searching. Ready?

Okay, first you're gonna have to get into position. Cradle that sweet little kitty in your arms, as though you were about to feed him a baby bottle. Our cat Dash puts herself into my arms like this quite frequently; Dot, not so much. Let's hope your cat likes to be held in this position. Otherwise, all bets are off.

Now, position your forefinger and thumb on either side of your cat's mouth, while holding the pill in your hand. Apply gentle pressure to your cat's cheeks, forcing his mouth open like a delicate little snapdragon. Then. (ta-DA!) pop the pill into his poor unsuspecting mouth, and allow your precious to close his mouth and swallow.

You may encounter a slight set-back at this point. Don't worry about it. It's perfectly normal. Simply retrieve the pill from the floor and drag the cat out from under the sofa, and try again. You might want to use the other arm to cradle the cat this time, especially if your first arm is bleeding too profusely.

Retrieve cat from the bedroom, and throw the soggy pill away.

Get a new pill, while resisting the urge to get a new cat. This time, cradle the now-agitated cat in your left arm, while holding his rear paws tightly with your left hand. Force his jaws open, and (ta-DA!) quickly push the pill to the back of his mouth with your right forefinger. Now, hold his mouth shut for a count of ten.

Relax. Failures are common. Take a deep breath, retrieve the pill from the goldfish bowl, and get the cat from his hiding-in-plain-view spot on the counter. Time to draft an assistant.

Kneel on the floor, and hold the cat in a vise grip with your knees. Grab and hold his paws. (Yes, all four of them... of COURSE you can!) Just ignore the cat's growls, you big sissy. Okay, have your helper hold the cat's head still while forcing a wooden ruler into his mouth, and then easy-does-it drop the pill down the ruler and into the cat's mouth. One of you may need to rub the cat's throat to encourage him to swallow. And then... ta-DA!

What? Still no ta-DA? (sigh) Okay, retrieve the cat from the curtains, and get another pill. Make a note to buy a new ruler and repair the curtains. Carefully sweep the shattered figurines and vases from the hearth, and set to one side for gluing later. (Assuming you're better at gluing than you are at giving a cat a pill.)

Okay, time to get serious. Tightly swaddle your cat in a large towel, leaving only his head exposed. Now have your less-than-enthusiastic helper pin the cat burrito to the floor with his body, with the yowling cat's head held in place, and just visible, below your helper's armpit. Put a pill in the end of a drinking straw, force the cat's mouth open with a pencil, and (ta-DA!) blow the pill into the cat's mouth.

Again no ta-DA?

Okay, calm down. Check the label to make sure the pill isn't harmful to humans, and then drink a beer to take the taste out of your mouth. Better? Now disinfect and bandage your helper's arm, and clean the blood from the carpet with cold water and soap.

Find and retrieve the cat. Get another pill, and open another beer. Put the cat into a cupboard, and close the door on his neck, with his head showing. Force his mouth open with a  spoon, and (ta-DA!) shoot the pill down that sucker's throat with a rubber band.

Go get a screwdriver, and fix the cupboard door. Drink the beer. Get a bottle of the hard stuff, and pour a shot of that, too, Drink it. Apply a cold compress to your cheek, and check your medical records to see when you last had a tetanus shot. Apply a whiskey compress to your cheek. Might as well have another shot while you're at it. Throw your bloody tee shirt away, and get a fresh one from the bedroom.

Grab the cat while you're in there, and take out the last pill. This is your last chance, so you'd better get it right this time. Tie your cat's paws together like a roped calf, and secure your helpless little feline heifer to the dining room table leg. Push that pill into his mouth, followed by a large piece of steak. (which you just happened to have handy...) Now pour a couple pints of water down his throat to wash it down.

Have another drink of booze for medicinal purposes, before having your helper drive you to the emergency room. This allows you to sit quietly while the doctor stitches your fingers and arm, and removes the pill remnants from your eye. Call the furniture store on the way home to order a new table.

Arrange for SPCA to collect that mutant cat from hell and call the local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

Natch, this whole post is in jest. No way I'd ever attempt to give my little angels a pill. If they need a pill, their vet can jolly well administer it. That's why he gets paid the big bucks...

                             Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. 

P.S. For those of you who are too cheap to pay full price too busy interested, Amazon will be selling the e-version of Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade for the paltry sum of ninety-nine cents next week. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Warning: May Contain Political Poo

Thought for the day:  Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. [George Orwell]

[photo courtesy of Pixel Peeper]
With both major parties holding conventions this month, we can expect even more political wind blowing than usual between now and election day, which most of us welcome about as much as a lingering fart in a crowded elevator. But even worse than all that noxious wind is the stuff of more substance. You know... the political caca.

Yep, there's gonna be an ever-increasing number of outrageous ads filled with half-truths and outright lies dumped on us, more recorded telephone messages from every political (and celebrity) Tom, Dick, and Mary, and an even higher-intensity rhetorical BS than we've had to endure so far. (oh, goody!)

Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end, and no sense of responsibility at the other. [Ronald Reagan]

So am I gonna go all blah-blah-blah political on you? No, of course not! Helpful gal that I am, I'm merely gonna show you what I consider to be an appropriate fleet of patriotic vehicles that is ready, willing, and able to serve our country throughout this highly excremental political season. Yep, I'd say these fine trucks are definitely up to handling the inauspicious dooty...

                 (Hey! When you have a crappy job, you've gotta keep your sense of humor.)                            
                                 Laughter is the shortest distance between friends. 

                                Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.