Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ratty Update

Got a call from the surgeon this afternoon; the surgery went just fine, all is well, Ratty'll be home tomorrow or maybe the next day. He also said that it looked like an old injury, judging by the damage surrounding it.

Ratty's only seven months old. How old can an injury be?

I am still completely baffled as to how he did it in the first place, though I do recall that his feral mother gave birth to her kittens on top of a pile of wood under one of those little high-up windows in my downstairs garage. And I also remember scooping kittens up off the floor and returning them to her (as well as trying to make it safer by rearranging the boards so there was at least a little bit of a wall in the front).

He certainly hadn't been limping any earlier than the middle of last week.

I really don't know.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quick Note

Well I've caught up on the Pagan Blog Project posts; but since I backdated the second A entry it's down a ways under all the kitten pictures (both visible rays and X-rays). Just wanted to point that out so it doesn't get lost. My own fault, I suppose, for backdating them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oh Ratty

Oh Ratty. Oh, oh Ratty. How on Earth did you manage this:

Let's get a bit of a close up:

Even a layperson such as myself can tell that that left hip-joint (his left, our right) is seriously out of whack. One of the vets I talked to today said she doesn't usually see something like that without some serious trauma—being hit by a car, falling out of a third storey window. Not that Ratty (or any of them) go outside, of course. Last week I did hear a loud crash coming from the cellar; when I got there though, not a single thing was out of place save an empty laundry basket, which was tipped on its side. All four of them just sat there looking at me with their heads tilted, wide-eyed, innocent, calm.

He'd been limping a little since about last Wednesday or Thursday, but he let me poke around and move his leg a bit. Silly me I didn't follow it up the rest of his leg until Saturday night, when I did finally notice that there was a big lump on the same side up by his hip (I couldn't really see it because of the fur; he's long-haired and fairly fluffy). And guess what—that turned out to be the head of his femur in a place it really shouldn't be, namely, completely out of the hip-socket by something like an inch and a half. Though otherwise he had seemed more than fine—despite the little bit of a limp he was running around, jumping up on things, frisking with his brothers like a crazy kitten, and purring up a storm as usual. Even today, when one of the vets (there were several) went to listen to his heartbeat, she had to put his heart rate down as 'purr'.

So Ratty gets to spend the next couple days in a cage, which he doesn't much like, keeping off it until he has his scheduled surgery on Thursday. Where they will, and this is completely counterintuitive, actually chop off the ball of the femur and just let the end of the bone rest in the socket. I know. I would have thought that putting it back in would be the right way round, but the vet said if they did that it would be prone to just popping out again. I guess something must be permanently damaged. Of course I was like well won't one of his legs be shorter than the other then? The vet said no, actually; he'll be pretty much completely normal, running around again in no time.

So that's all good, if don't-even-ask pricey. But there's nothing for it, of course; rest and home remedies aren't going to cure something like that.

Still, I'd like to know how he did it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

B Is For Bastet

So Bastet (or Bast) is the Cat Goddess of old Egypt. Those Egyptians, they had their priorities straight all right.

Her name means She of the bas, a bas being a type of ointment jar; in the exceptionally dry climate of Egypt moisturizer is an absolute necessity. I like to call Her Our Lady of the Salve.

Her cult center in Egypt was at the city of Per-Bastet ('the domain of Bastet' and now I'm totally cracking up at the I assume coincidental resemblance of Per to purr) up in the Delta; it was the capital of the 18th nome (administrative district; something like county, state, province) of Lower Egypt (lower of course meaning downstream in the case of the Nile, so that lower=northern, and upper=southern). It was famous for a particularly merry festival dedicated to Bastet, which involved lots of alcohol.

As you may well imagine, I've been petitioning Bastet left and right around here lately.

What? you say. Why is that?

All right; for those of you who have not been paying attention, I'll try to keep this brief.

Once upon a time at the start of last winter a little grey and white cat showed up on my doorstep, looking plaintively in at the glass door. That was Spot:

But of course she wasn't alone, oh no of course not. She had in tow three little kittens, who I reasonably enough named Splotch


and Stripey

Crap, I thought. I could instantly tell that two of the three at least were female by the tortoiseshell color schemes. And I've been around the block a few times and so knew exactly which direction that was going to go in.

So I asked Bastet for help. I asked Her to make sure that they had someone to look after them, and to find them a good home with enough food to last them through the winter.

What do you think I am doing? She purred.

Crap, I thought.

So I fed them, because it was the beginning of winter in New England and knowing they were there I could not let them starve.

I will admit I hemmed and hawed about the next part of it, though, because I could see what was coming and how much work it was going to be if I chose to do it. I mean it doesn't take the Sight to know what will happen when three (at least) unspayed female cats show up on your doorstep.

So I started looking around on the internet. But it took a while. For one thing, with the crap economy charities have very few resources nowadays. One particular cat charity, just last year, would come to your house, trap the feral cats, take them away to be neutered, deal with the aftercare and then bring them back to be released (as trapping, neutering, and releasing feral cats is really the best bet at population control, plus, you know, it avoids killing them); this year though they couldn't be arsed to even call me back, never mind lend me a trap or two. And it's true, I procrastinated a bit, because I knew it was a big job and it simply took time to get my brain around it. But in the end, yeah, it was my responsibility.

In the meantime, the Stripey kitten went missing. We found one by the road a few days later; maybe it was that one, maybe not. It had been there a little while and I honestly couldn't tell. We buried it.

So what with the hemming and hawing and lack of help with the traps (which I simply cannot afford to buy myself), and tracking down someone who would spay feral cats on the cheap, never mind psyching myself up to trap what is essentially a wild animal (I am, I suppose I should admit, a rank coward in more than a few ways), by the time early spring came around Spot had reproduced again, giving us this guy:

This one I managed to socialize, as his personality was fairly open to it (Splotch and Smudge were really skittish from the start). Plus the weather was nicer; it's hard to have much patience standing out there in January trying trying trying to coax a shy kitten to let itself get anywhere near you. So I ended up adopting him myself and now he's my Aleister Meowley, Frater Purrdurabo, the Lesser Beast (333). I've been calling him by his Chinese name lately, Miao Li (apparent younger brother to this Lady). I also sing him this song:

Well I hear you're just a kitten now
And I can see your pretty whiskers getting
in the tuna fish
You've got me right in your paws
Yes I'll put more in your dish

I know this world is thrilling you
Oh Aleister
Meow meow meow mew

Then of course before I knew it it was Splotch's turn, and she had these four, named after the place she gave birth to them, an old MG in the downstairs garage.

There was Austin

Healey (you can see she inherited her grandmother's spot)


and Morris Minor

By this time I'd been talking to the local cat shelter and knew I had to bring them inside. But before I could rearrange the dining room to accommodate them Morris Minor was killed, probably by a coyote. The bastard pretty much tore him in half and just left him there. So I buried him. Nature, sure. Child of the Goddess, sure. Still a bastard in my book.

So I got the other three inside, and socialized them. They all got adopted out, eventually.

Not, however, before it was Smudge's turn. She also had four, though one of them died at three weeks as it just didn't thrive (something like one out of four kittens don't make it for whatever reason). I buried that one too.

The other three, though, were Maurice (named after Morris Minor)

Danny Lyon

and of course, Ratty.

Oh, Ratty. That's the one I bottle-fed. And after all that work, he had to stick around too.

Then there was Danny and the long saga of him, which I haven't shared before and which is frankly rather a nasty story, involving a mother who insisted that she could handle taking care of him while I was away for a couple weeks; but one day I called to check up on them and was told that six-week-old Danny had 'broken his neck.'

Of course he hadn't; he was, instead, really, really, sick.

And my mother didn't see any reason to take him to the vet. She just sort of threw up her hands and said, O how sad! How terrible that nothing can be done!

It is a long story; basically I had to frankly bully my own mother from six hundred miles away into calling a goddamned cab to get that kitten to the emergency vet. She didn't want to. But she did. I swore a lot, and for some reason that worked.

When I later picked Danny up (after cutting my vacation short) the vet there said he was '95% dead' when he was brought in. They were, frankly, amazed that he recovered at all; one of the vet techs said she almost had a heart attack when she saw him trying to sit up the next day. A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the emergency vet to give them an update. The lady there said they don't usually remember animals since they come and go so quickly through there, but she sure remembered Danny.

One of the first things I did when I got home from my vacation was make an appointment with my lawyer, to make sure that, should something happen to me, my mother, specifically, is absolutely NOT to be the one making decisions for me.

I did say my family was dysfunctional. Yeah.

But anyway so then of course Danny stayed (you should see that vet bill, hoo boy).

I was going to put Maurice up for adoption, I really was. But he has this sort of chronicish respiratory condition which is well under control but still there, and I didn't know how adoptable he was going to be. Plus, he absolutely worships his Uncle Aleister. You should see it. He follows him around, rubs himself against him, gets in his path to head butt him, the whole thing. I suspect Aleister is a little annoyed with it all, honestly, but he tolerates it. So he stayed too.

Now, through all this summer of course there were eye infections going around, and no one could leave here until everyone got the all clear. Which meant putting this nasty ointment (why there's that word again) in their eyes. Plus there were some antibiotics in there for Maurice, never mind all the stuff Danny had to have, and honestly it's all kind of a haze now. It sure as fuck was a lot of work.

I did eventually scare up some traps, though I had to go pretty far afield (Boston, actually, which is not particularly local). And I caught all three of the mommy-cats, though I had to let Spot go the first time because she was obviously still nursing yet another batch of kittens. Now those are:

Rory (named after the marvellous Rory Pond, of course)

Flufius Maximus (that's Latin don't you know)

and their really quite exceptionally shy sister, Mademoiselle Zéphirine Chattonne-Gris.

(That's the best picture I have of her so far). All three of those are now in my dining room. Rory and Floof have been good to go for ages; they socialized fairly easily, though Floof took a little longer. But they are still here, because their sister is really very, very, very shy; I'm only just at the point where I can pet her a little while she eats without her freaking out. The two boys are a help with her; when she sees them come out and climb all over me purring I can see the wheels turning in her little cat head, that maybe, just maybe, I'm okay. So for now they're here.

And in the meantime Spot has been spayed. Which means all three of the mommy-cats are missing the tips of their left ears, as well as their reproductive organs and man I can tell you that makes me so very happy. Because this last batch is it.

Well, so much for brevity. But that's been my life lately. It's a lot of work. Oh sure, I know, sounds awful, doesn't it, hanging out with kittens and making sure they get enough cuddles and playtime; but, really, what I've been doing is transforming eleven wild animals into eleven tame animals. Holy fuck is this a lot of work, especially given my lack of mothering proclivities.

So I've been, like I said, bending Bastet's ear a bit this past year. And She has come through. I've always (eventually) gotten help when I needed it.

But I've been too busy to make any proper offerings. The most I'd done was offer some incense, and keep Her statue on my altar dusted.

Yes, well.

That's not actually how it works, is it. I have been making offerings. I have been making sacrifices to Her. All this, all this work I've done, this Work I've done, this real-life hard slog feed the kittens medicate the kittens drive the kittens to the vet, the shelter, the place to be neutered, trap the mothers, but no let that one go because she has very young kittens and she can't be away from them that long yet, trap her again later, get them all spayed and release them and keep feeding them and trap Zéphirine before it's too late and socialize them and tame them and pay attention to them first because they need to eat now and I want to go to bed but I have to clean the litterboxes first—all of it, is all an offering. It's all many offerings, over and over again, to Bastet, to the Goddess of the Cats.

I know this is true, and I know it is what She wants. Because when I look at Her now, all She does is purr.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Is Also For Ancestors, Again (An Addendum)

So one of the other things I've been up to lately is taking one of Max Dashú's online courses, this one called Spiritual Heritages of Ancient Europe, part two (I missed part one). Today Max gave a web seminar (also called a 'webinar' for all you techno-kids out there) about megalithic statues of Europe, mostly western Europe if I'm remembering correctly, like in present-day Spain and Portugal. Especially, of course, the stones that are identifiably female.

Many of the stones have very similar faces: a highly stylized straight browline, a squarish or pointed nose depending from that, with two circles for eyes. And, in most cases, no mouth. Like this one, from neolithic Provence, dating to the end of the fourth millenium bce, though it's not technically a megalith, being just shy of a foot tall:

I scanned that in from Gimbutas's The Language of the Goddess (drawing by Patricia Reis); Gimbutas calls it a depiction of the Owl Goddess, a form of Death Goddess, as the owl is long associated with death and the night; Max was saying though that she thinks it more likely as representing the ancestors, the dead, because the dead don't speak. In fact she'd titled the lecture 'Grandmother Stones.' You can see some more of these type of stones here, at her site.

So I thought that interesting, not just in general but in the timing for me as well given yesterday's post, since as far as the rest of the course goes we're talking about Rome right now. So it got me thinking.

As you may have guessed from my last post, I've got some issues, shall we say, with the idea of the ancestors, at least the immediate ones, what with the rather dysfunctional upbringing and all. Also, though it is hard to explain succinctly, thanks (or no thanks) to said upbringing I have always felt like I am starting from scratch; I've always had the feeling that nothing I accomplish ever sticks. Like I said, it is hard to explain, and I suppose I should refer you yet again to Tetanus Burger where you might be able to get more of an idea as to why. And feeling like I'm always starting from scratch means it feels like I've never had anything to build on, which is what the idea of ancestors is all about, isn't it. That there is an unbroken line going back and back. That you are not the first. That you have something to build on, something that is yours, because it is your family, your blood.

So maybe I need to think of it a little more distantly, more abstractly. Fuck these few generations I can see; after all my line, because I am here, on this Earth, now, goes back and back and back. From what I know I am of British blood, by which I mean, of the isle of Britain: English, Scottish, Welsh. But before that there has to be continental Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon, and Teutonic in the middle of Europe, and whoever else was there first before the migrations and invasions and it is perfectly plausible and in fact likely that the ancestors of my ancestors were the ones raising stones like that.

So then I thought: this is basic, basic stuff. This is not about grandmother's apple pie recipe (or, rather, Depression-era chocolate cake made with bacon grease, gah); this is simply about living long enough to have a healthy child, and that child living long enough to do the same, and so on and on. And I thought: what would she be called then, this old, old ancestor? She would be called She-Who-Survived.

She-Who-Survived. That is a powerful name, a powerful idea, for a kid who was frankly neglected, whose survival was not exactly guaranteed. I mean I'm here, so I did, and I can't even say it was really touch-and-go, properly, but... We had no hot water growing up, because when the water heater broke my father couldn't be arsed to fix it, and due to the OCPD he wouldn't let anyone else fix it; and, because he was a miser he never let the heat get more than fifty-five degrees in the winter here, in New England. And trust me, your brain and your instincts do read being that cold all winter as a threat to survival. That's the kind of cold that sinks into your bones. It's the kind of cold that becomes the default state in winter; being warm is the exception, the brief foray into comfort. It always comes back to the cold in the bones.

So. She-Who-Survived. I think She might make the best kind of ally.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Is For Ancestors

Ah yes, where to start.

I don't think I like most of my ancestors. I mean, I can't help but acknowledge that they are my ancestors, I mean duh. And while the fact that I am here can tell me some things (like for example somewhere along the line they survived the bubonic plague long and successfully enough to keep the line going, as I am of European descent and I simply wouldn't be here if they hadn't), I've never really understood what the fuss is about. I think, most people just automatically, of course, how could you think otherwise, honor their ancestors because they come from decent people.

My family isn't close. I realized for the first time not that long ago that I actually have three Cousin Toms. The generations are skewed, and long, and so growing up none of my cousins were any where near my age. That also means that I have pretty much no experience of grandparents, besides maybe a single blurry memory of my mother's father when I was very young.

If you have been over to my other blog, Tetanus Burger, you know that my father was a hoarder. You will also know that that was caused by what can only be a serious case of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which, before you go thinking you know what that is, is most emphatically not the same thing as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCPD is a personality disorder, which as far as I can tell, pretty much just comes down to a fundamental brokenness in the brain. The person with it cannot see that they have it, and in fact, a lot of the time, will not only deny that there is anything whatsoever wrong with them, but will also adamantly insist that it's the entire rest of the world who is wrong. And they believe it. With my own eyes I have seen my father confronted with a reality that did not fit with his belief. He looked at that reality, and then repeated his belief, over and over, louder and louder, though the proof that he was wrong was right in front of him. In his world if reality and belief were in conflict reality lost. This also means that people with personality disorders kind of don't get that the people around them are people and not extensions of their own world, or rather their own selves, since that is the same thing to them. And when you come right down to it that rather precludes empathy. Don't forget, other personality disorders include things like narcissism and sociopathy.

Speaking of narcissism, yeah. That's the other one that runs in the family. It's been fun here, lately, and the word that keeps coming to mind is unfortunately toxic, as in, my family is toxic.

So, if you're a family member and you're reading this, well, that's what you get for snooping on a Witch's blog, isn't it. Well, unless you're Cousin L, you're cool. You're about the only one, though.

What I know of my grandparents isn't good. I suppose I should confess straight up that I have no problems speaking ill of the dead. I've been rather enamoured of truth, lately. My father's father, well, he might have been all right, but he died young, and by that I mean in like 1934. My father's mother, well, I'm pretty sure I know where the hoarding gene came from. I've heard some atrocious stories about the state of her house.

On my mother's side I don't know much about my grandmother, though I have the impression she was pretty controlling. As for my grandfather, well, I don't really care if it was accepted practice at the time to hit your children with your belt, or to give your daughter bread soaked in milk for dinner, while you sat there eating steak; I consider that abuse and neglect, and so I consider you a bastard.

So really, I don't want much to do with them, my literal ancestors. I certainly am not inclined to put up an altar to them. In fact, my father in particular (though he's not technically dead yet) was such a miserly bastard that I really don't want anything to do with him again, ever. Not in this life and not in any other lives. I've considered, even, some kind of ritual to sever myself from him, karmically, I guess you'd say. I don't want to bump into him ever again.

I don't care if that's harsh. It's true. One of the things you don't get growing up in a hoarder's house is space, not physical space, not personal space, not emotional space; there is no ease at all to anything. It is all, always and entirely about the hoarder. And so there is certainly no space, none at all, for a voice.

I've found mine now. And I will scream and curse if I feel like it.