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Thursday, 26 October 2017

At midnight, just as the clock turned to Thursday, a crisis struck.  My best beloved cat, Smoky, had been sleeping in my room and then sitting on my lap.  All seemed normal until I saw him walking…He looked enormous.  He had somehow bloated up all through his sides and belly, so quickly, since he had looked normal two days ago.  Yet he was eating, drinking, purring.  I called the vet and heard the “Please call the emergency vet only in a real emergency” message and felt I should wait till morning.  But I started shaking, as hard as any cliché you can think of, teeth chattering, while I tried to look up causes of cat bloating.  Dr Google was not reassuring.

I managed to get five hours of broken sleep, with Smoky sleeping and purring on my feet.  This in itself is unusual; he usually sleeps in the living room, lately curled up with Calvin, the neurotic black cat who finally has a friend to cuddle with.

At 7:30, I woke and bided my time till exactly 8 when I called the Oceanside Animal Clinic and got a 9:15 appointment.  Smoky was still purring and eating a bit of food, but he could hardly walk.  He would take a few steps, find his hind legs burdened by his increased size, and he’d just stop, like this:

I was frantic inside; I love this cat so very much.  We got him and his brother Frosty and mother Mary (who died of lung cancer last year) from a neighbour of our old house.  The cats’ first seven years were well loved and lived inside a moldy broken down motor home with a heavy smoker who doted on them. Before he died of lung cancer, he asked me to take his three cats.

At the vet, Smoky’s abdomen was tapped and drained of some fluid, which was sent off for a test that will take a week.  He had blood tests and X rays which showed a lot of internal fluid and reasonably good heart and liver, so the tentative diagnosis is a serious cancer.

a little dog to pet while we waited for the blood test results

We got to take Smoky home, with some pain medication, and we could take him back to be “tapped and drained” when the fluid builds up again.  He’s only 12.  I have been worried about him being 12, after his mother’s death at 13.  I wanted at least two more years with my best little friend. (Later I realized that he is either recently turned thirteen or is almost thirteen.)

Smoky back at home, on a sheet covering the bed blankets, because his abdomen would be “leaking”.

We went to work, bulbing.  If we could get three jobs done, we could take four or five days off.  I had been so looking forward to that time off of planting my own bulbs, decorating for Halloween, and cleaning the house for Halloween company.  Now I wish I had nothing to do other than just spending time with Smoky.  (Maybe he will feel well enough to come outdoors with me.)  The house is a tip, though. The better I clean it, the more time I’ll be indoors with my precious cat.

Today we were back to beautiful summer-like weather.  We started by planting some white narcissi and tulips at Mike’s garden.  When we stopped back at home, a package of the second round of bulbs (shipped later) had arrived, and we distributed some to Time Enough Books, the boatyard garden, and the community building garden.

Boatyard got Narcissi ‘Green Eyed Lady’ and ‘Latvian Freedom’.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo; new blooms from the Echinops I had cut back to the ground.

Sweet peas are still blooming.  I asked Allan to take these sweet pea photos.

I was going to make an end of season sale order of more narcissi for the boatyard, but after a $400 vet bill, I don’t want to tempt my budget with any more bulb purchases this fall.  I also feel somewhat tentative about planting more narcissi here, since last spring someone picked about a hundred (that is, all of them) overnight.  (The local vet is reasonably priced.  The $400 included expensive tests and x rays.)

We planted some more bulbs at the Ilwaco Community Building.

Ilwaco Community Building

a test planting of tulips. We have seen deer in this tiered garden so….it is only a test.

autumn blooming crocus

Allan’s photo

We then got back to our planned planting and clean up at

The Depot Restaurant

where Allan cleared the hops from the dining deck lattice while I planted bulbs.

tulips and narcissi set up to plant

Allan’s befores and afters of the hops project:

the hops project, before, showing the door that leads from restaurant to dining deck

after

before, the ramp to the dining deck

after

a Pacific tree frog in the lattice

After today’s work. More fall clean up will be done after frost. 

Long Beach

We now had five more white narcissi for the Vet Field corner.  While Allan planted them, I planted a combination of yellow tulips in the big Lewis and Clark Square planter.

L&C planter; Allan helped me by pulling the bad asters that had appeared, as they seem to blow in from the dunes or other gardens.

Then on to the last of today’s planned jobs,

Diane’s garden.

before (Allan’s photo)

Allan’s photo, bulbs laid out to plant

bulb tossing

All done…Planting bulbs in the soft soil of the septic box was so easy.

Red Barn in the background.

Diane was pleased to see all the bulbs go on, and of course she was sympathetic about Smoky.  I got to give good dog Misty a good belly rub.

Allan also planted clumps of narcissi in the newly restored roadside garden.

The recent heavy rain had not washed out the new garden strip.

Last thing: cutting back some short (due to lack of frequent watering) Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ at the Red Barn.

our little Red Barn garden

As you can imagine, my bulbing today was done in a somber and anxious mood.

At home

There was little joy in erasing bulbing jobs from the work board.

I sat with Smoky, who purred while I wept, trying and failing not to cry because I don’t want to upset him.  I fretted about whether he was again retaining fluid and mourned over the thought of soon losing my softest, plushest, kindest cat ever.

Allan heard the sounds of the big homecoming football game up on School Hill. He walked up the hill to watch the halftime show which he’s always missed before.  The marching band often does a Halloween themed show which he wished to see.

halftime fireworks

They did not disappoint.

This year included music from Nightmare Before Christmas.

The score was Ilwaco 39, guest 0 when Allan left after the show.

The most comforting thing for me about Smoky’s dire prognosis was the support of Facebook friends.  After writing about the visit to the vet, I changed my profile photo to one of me and Smoky at one of our backyard campfires.

The comment that got to me the most was when I wrote how much I had been looking forward to my staycation reading with my best friend, Smoky.  Shannon, friend of Tony, wrote, His book says “Dear Mama — you’re the best one.” He reads it over and over.

 

 

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