Monday, May 9, 2011

Good News and Bad News

First, the good news. I still have NOT received a response from Texas Wesleyan regarding my law school application. Yes, you read that right. Things have to be bad when the GOOD news is that I've received no news about whether or not they think I'm fit to be trained as an attorney.

So, which do you want first? The bad news or the really bad news?

Since it's my blog and you all won't have an opportunity to express your preferences before I hit the "publish post" button, I think I will make you cry then laugh in the hopes of lessening the pain. Stop reading now, skip to the end and start reading from the bottom if you don't want to cry. 

Seriously. You've been warned. 

As you know from previous posts, The Queen's favorite subject, Kiki (aka The Yakmaster 5000 Projectile Vomit Cannon) has been ill of late. So ill that he has been steadily losing weight for several months. The first trip to the vet found nothing dreadfully out of the ordinary aside from slight anemia and slightly elevated white blood cell count, and it was suggested that he be put on probiotics and antibiotics. The probiotics seemed to be helping. He regained his appetite after we figured out his favorite foods were Fancy Feast and honey maple turkey deli meat. Until the last few days. He decided that now was the time to go on a starvation diet. Literally. By Saturday morning, he was wobbly, weak and generally looking pathetic. 

The Queen insisted that I do something about this situation immediately. You see, as I may have mentioned, The Queen has been suffering through some pretty severe health issues for the last several years. When she came down with these problems, we were living in Houston as I had just gotten a really good job there. Without a family support network, it was not possible for me to work and take care of her by myself. She didn't qualify for home health care, etc. So, we made the hard decision to have her move back to our house in the Dallas area (her parents were care taking it for us until we figured out what to do with it). The plan was that I would find a way to get a job back in Dallas...a process that ultimately took two years. Kiki was one of The Queen's major sources of comfort and affection while I was away down in Houston earning a living and generally going insane. 

By now, you can see where this is heading. Remember, I warned you. 

Saturday, as you would expect, our regular vet was closed, and their answering service put me on terminal hold. After an unsuccessful attempt to get Kiki into another vet, I was left with the only option available: The 24 hour emergency vet in Arlington. This is not really a bad thing as I used to live right down the street from there, and they were our regular vet until we moved away. So, they had records on us even if none of the staff remembered us. 

We got Kiki there Saturday evening, and the poking and prodding began. They reran some of the tests the regular vet had done and added a few more. The end result was not good. He had lost about 50% of his body weight in 5 months. He was septic, and the vet felt that was due to gastrointestinal cancer. That left us with two choices: 1) IV antibiotics and nutrition followed by more tests and probably chemo, or 2) put him to sleep.

The vet told us that he had seen a similar case a week or so ago, and the cat had died a day after going on the antibiotics and IV nutrition as the poor thing was just not strong enough to battle back. The vet told us that his recommendation based on the test results and the history we had reported was to put Kiki to sleep. The Queen was understandably heart broken, but she bravely made the decision to have Kiki put to sleep so that he wouldn't have to suffer. The Queen couldn't face holding him while it was done. The vet promised that it would be quick and painless; and, based on prior experience with this clinic, I had no doubt that would be the case. The Queen said her goodbye's to Kiki and he was taken away. They brought him back to us sealed in a box within minutes, and we left to go home. I can't say enough about the level of professionalism and courtesy the vet's office showed to us. If you are in the Dallas area, don't hesitate to use the I-20 Animal Medical Center. They are good people.

The Queen cried her heart out until late into the night when she passed out from shear exhaustion. The next day, of course, was Mother's Day. The Queen's uncle was in town from California, and a lunch was planned at her brother's place. I woke up as early as I could and attempted to bury Kiki in one of his favorite spots next to the driveway in the Monkey Grass. 

Unfortunately, the bedrock at Castle Erickson varies in depth from about 1 foot to 18 inches. Great for your home's foundation. Horrible for when it becomes necessary to take care of some unpleasantness. Short of dynamite, which the neighbors would find objectionable, Kiki was just not going to be able to rest in his favorite spot. Since The Queen's brother has 16 acres of land, we decided to bury Kiki in a wooded area on his property. The Queen placed a cactus flower she had found over his grave.

We had Kiki for about 11 years. He was a rescue from the sister of a friend who was not able to give him and his litter mate the care they needed. His brother had disappeared years ago, and Kiki became The Queen's all time favorite by giving her comfort during some of her darkest days. I was forever frustrated by his finickyness, his fondness for hunting and killing everything within reach, and his penchant for vomiting on everything in sight, but I am grateful for all the love and affection he gave The Queen in exchange for nothing more than a warm bed and a full food bowl.

Then, to add insult to injury so to speak, I managed to create a minor plumbing disaster this afternoon that absolutely ruined my work day. Allow me to back up a few moments. Castle Erickson has been without a weedeater since the beginning of the lawn season. There are two weedeaters on the premises. Neither of which worked. 

One was a Black & Decker Grass Hog electric which chewed up weeds and tall grass better than a lot of gas trimmers until it suddenly stopped working for no apparent reason. The reason, after disassembly, turned out to be the plastic drive cog had melted allowing the belt to come off making the powerful electric motor absolutely useless. Question for Black & Decker: Whose bright idea was it to use a plastic part in an application that would generate tons of heat from friction? Fire that dumbass. Please. Oh, and the person who decreed that you would not sell said plastic piece of garbage separate from the motor assembly which costs 3/4 of what a whole new unit would cost. Yeah, he needs to be fired too.

The other is a Ryobi SS26 gas trimmer. The Ryobi would start all day long, and it would even turn the trimmer head. Right up until you took it off choke. I suspect that it's my fault for not properly winterizing it. I gave it a complete tune up with a new spark plug, cleaning the muffler, cleaning the carb and replacing the fuel lines and filter. Still no go. The internet is overflowing with similar complaints for this model. To those of you who might have come here via a Google search: Yes, I know I should have bought a Stihl or an Echo. If I could afford a Stihl or an Echo, I would have bought one. No, I don't want to hear it. The problem seems to be localized in the carb as it will start with or without the muffler in place ruling out too much back pressure. The fact that it starts rules out spark leaving fuel as the only possible culprit. New fuel and fuel filter point squarely at the carb. I'm going to order a new carb, turn right around and sell it to someone else. Let them screw with it.

Anyway, The Queen decreed that a functioning weedeater must come home or else. So, we stopped at Wal Mart on our way home from taking mom out to dinner for mother's day yesterday and purchased a new Weedeater Featherlite. Again, all you brand fanboys: I DON"T CARE. 

This afternoon, The Queen entered my office and suggested that she might have the energy to do a little weedeating to make the Castle a little more presentable. I put the new tool together and sent her off to get the required gas since, of course, the Weedeater uses a different fuel/oil mixture than the Ryobi does (fortunately, the chainsaw is a match for the Ryobi meaning my mix won't go to waste). She returned. I filled the little tank and promptly flooded the stupid thing. Once I figured out the procedure for starting it flooded, we were off and running....for all of two minutes. Max. The trimmer works fine, but imagine my surprise when a .095 inch trimmer line split open a 3/4 inch Schedule 40 PVC pipe on one of our outdoor faucets. 

Water immediately started gushing a several gallons a minute, and I made a mad dash for the water shut off valves on the opposite corner of the house...which did exactly nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Apparently, they only take care of the water INSIDE the house. After a fruitless 15 minute search for another water shut off valve that, you know, WOULD affect the OUTSIDE water faucets, I threw in the towel and called the city to come out and shut off the water at the meter. They were there in about 15 minutes, and then it was off to Home Depot to get some Schedule 40 PVC, coupling and a new faucet (might as well make it look pretty while I was at it, and the old one leaked). The repair too less than 15 minutes. I waited a few before calling the city, and they were back out in about 20 minutes to get us back on. No major leaks detected although the new faucet has a very minute leak from the threads despite a generous amount of teflon tape.

So, if you don't mind, I'm going to go swill some wine and pretend the last three days never happened.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about The Queen's cat. Be sure to give her a hug from me - putting down an animal, while the right thing, is unbelievably hard.

  2. GunDiva, thanks for the condolences. You are right, putting an animal down is truly the hardest part of having a companion animal. As an adult, you know the moment you take an animal home that you will have to deal with that sometime in the next 20 years, and it still tears you up. Everytime. Makes me really question life sometimes.

  3. Sorry to hear the loss of a beloved pet.

    It isn't easy but it appears well done.
    I do think that four legged friends are part of God's plan; to help us to learn to love unconditionally, to learn when to let go, to learn to care and nurture others.

    In spite of the pain of loss, wouldn't you do it all over again for the years of love?

  4. Bob, there is an old joke about God's creation of Adam, dogs and cats which humorously addresses your point. It's longer than a one liner. If I can find it, I'll post it. But, I think you are right. And, yes, I would do it all over again.


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