Sunday, April 21, 2019

What is an ordinary life?

When nothing out of the ordinary is going on, I don't think I have much to say. I'm looking back on the last two weeks, to a bunch of ordinary things, and thinking maybe they're worthy of a post.

  • Larisa, the Designer Cat, wandered off one evening and picked up some plant material at about the same time as she relieved herself. A rough, tangly mix of feline poop and desert flora. I didn't notice when she came indoors, or when she slept in our closet instead of in her own bed. I noticed when she didn't eat. Picked her up, discovered her predicament. Ran warm water and a bit of soap into the kitchen sink, wrapped her upper half in a towel and lowered her hindquarters into the water. What didn't rinse out, Art cut out with a pair of scissors. You know the drill with an indignant cat; Larisa yelled at me, and the scratches on my chest required two bandaids. Art and I tried to dry her off, but she would have no part of it. Apparently she preferred to be half wet over the next few hours, with dreadlocks as she dried. She looked more like a Feral Animal than a Designer Cat.
  • To add to the indignity of it all, we took Larisa to the vet the next day for her yearly checkup. She refused to allow a urine specimen to be taken, so she was sent home with a jar of plastic beads. I emptied her litter box, added the beads and waited, TWENTY-FOUR HOURS later, she gave it up and used the litter box. I saved a sample in the bead jar and took it to the vet.

  • My husband Art has been fighting some ailment for nearly two months but was not much interested in paying a visit to the doctor. He coughed, and caught a cold (which he gave to me and I passed along to a friend), and coughed, and got a 48-hour virus (which he gave to me), and coughed more violently. Finally, last Monday, he got in the car and I drove him to the VA. Between our car in the parking lot and the door of the VA, he had to stop to catch his breath. That had never happened. The doc said, "I see this all the time. These old guys try to tough it out until they're miserable for a month or two, and then they decide to turn themselves in." He prescribed an antihistamine, an expectorant, and a z-pack (antibiotic). Plus a chest x-ray and CAT scan of Art's sinuses. When Art left the VA and walked back to the car, he had to stop three times to catch his breath. I gave him the first two pills before I started the car in the parking lot.
  • Recovery has not been swift but it has been steady. Art moved past the diarrhea which is a side effect of the antibiotic; began to hydrate - after being nagged by my sister (a nurse) and me (a concerned wife); began to eat (two pieces of toast on the first day, 30 percent of a lunch by the third). His excessive fatigue has lightened a bit each day. This morning he said he's feeling just about back to normal and wants to cook a simple Easter meal and go to a low-key event tonight.

  • The Inn2 asylum-seekers' shelter where we have been volunteering since November has been closed since mid-March because many of the volunteers are snowbirds returning home. We'd planned to spend April recruiting other volunteers, and we did, with some success. Then last Sunday happened. ICE dropped off a busload of asylum seekers at the Greyhound bus station. All the shelters were full. Inn2 was asked to open on an emergency basis at about 4:30 in the afternoon. By 6:00 Art and I were at the shelter with a dozen other volunteers, to set up our space - with a capacity of 20 - to house 46 over a three-day period. Our volunteer coordinator sent out a request for help, and people showed up with food and clothing and to volunteer. In that three-day period we acquired 13 new volunteers. So Inn2 will be opening again on May 1.

Everyone has their own ordinary life. To my mind, ordinary doesn't necessarily mean mundane. Mundane is like grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning and laundry and paying the bills. Ordinary adds in things like a distressed cat, a sick husband, an unexpected request for help.

I'm reminded of this quote by L.R. Knost:

"Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful."

Monday, April 8, 2019

Rattlesnake crossing!

This year in Arizona I took up bicycling. One of my friends started a group called "Easy Riders". We started off riding, I think, about eight miles, and by the end of the season we were doing fifteen. I usually rode once a week. There's a 55-mile bike loop around the city of Tucson. At first we began our ride at a trailhead a couple of miles from home. Eventually we were traveling half an hour to get to our start point. By the end of high season we'd ridden the entire Loop, one segment at a time.

Turnaround point
"High season" in Arizona is January to March. Our RV resort is full of snowbirds for those months. On about April 1, people start leaving for home - unless there's still snow in Minnesota or Michigan or Wisconsin, or still rain in Washington or Oregon. Many of the activities at the resort end in the last week of March, so there are LOTS of end-of-season potlucks. We say goodbye to the people we discussed current events or foreign affairs with, or quilted with, or hiked with, or played handbells with. It slows down at Voyager, so instead of a bus-every-day life, days are wide open for things like sleeping or sitting on the front porch reading or catching up with whatever has been put off for the several previous months. I like this time of year.

Last Saturday - April 6 - I went for a bike ride on the Loop with my friend Tom. We'd both missed a ride the previous week on this particular section of the trail, and we wanted to accrue another 15 or 16 miles on our bikes. Our start point was at the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial River Park, just to the north of the city. Christina was born on September 11, 2001 and was killed January 8, 2011 by a shooter who was targeting Gabby Giffords at a constituent meeting in the parking lot of a Tucson supermarket.

The ride was especially beautiful; we had a lot of rain this winter and the desert blooms were spectacular. About five miles in, we saw a dozen people standing on the trail ahead of us. We slowed.

A rattlesnake was crossing the trail.

I stopped. Tom threaded his way through the bystanders and passed the snake, which rattled.

I had never seen a live rattlesnake outside of a zoo.

As Tom continued on his way, I heard a couple of remarks about how "He should show some respect." I said, joking, "Well, you know, he's a snowbird from Minnesota. He didn't know." They nodded, and when the snake reached the side of the trail, I rode away.

When I caught up to Tom, I told him what had happened. He said, "It's MICHIGAN, Linda. And we have rattlesnakes there."

Yesterday afternoon, a friend told me that last year she had seen a rattlesnake inside the RV resort, on a main street. "April is when they come out."

I guess Larisa, our Designer Cat, will need to stay inside this spring. I wonder if cats stalk snakes. I don't want to risk it.