Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The day that Sable died, the peonies were in bloom. Pink and sweet, the pleasant scent mixed with the warm summer air.

Sable was my kitty. He was a silver-tip Himalayan with green eyes. Despite being petite he was filled to the tips of his beautiful white ears with love.

In the rare event that he became angry, such as, for combing him too long or pulling at a fur mat, he expressed his anger with a short growly meow, and immediately began purring again.

He had a particular way to place his front feet while he sat. It was as if they had to be just so in order to optimize his handsomeness.

He did not mouse, bird, or guard the house, but he provided an important function. His death is hitting me harder than I thought it would because I realized that he gave something that is more rare than his purebred bloodlines: unconditional love.

I was 20 when I realized I wanted a cat of my own. Dakota came home with me in early May of 1994, but it seemed lonely to have only one. He needed a buddy. He is a cream-colored Persian and such a cute kitten, settling in with me the moment I held him. I still wanted a silver-tip. My family had had one when I was a kid - Toby - and he was such a great, funny cat. I located a litter of silver tip kitties, and drove to pick one out. I thought I wanted the biggest and the whitest kitten, but when I looked at them, I chose Sable. He was medium-sized, with a lovely bit of grey on his back. His skin was dark, especially around the paws, eyes, and mouth. So adorable! He was exactly eight weeks old when I brought him home that day in late May, sixteen years ago.

He was a normal kitten, especially enjoying smelling fresh outside air and chasing cotton balls. All was fine and dandy for six years, until I brought home the baby. Dakota didn't seem to concern himself, but Sable did NOT like her! That unpredictable screaming thing was not his cup of tea, but he wasn't hostile in the least. He simply avoided her. He practiced the notion of live and let live.

When he was ten, he began to throw up blood. I found out he likely had Irritable Bowel Syndrome caused from a food allergy. I changed his food and all was well for a few years. He began to throw up blood again, or have bloody stool, so I experimented with various wet and dry foods that he would tolerate, while he tolerated the numerous car trips to the vet with their accompanying temperature taking and stomach-probing.

Keeping weight on him was a challenge. Dakota didn't have the type of sensitivity that Sable did, and because they shared the same food area, they had to eat the same kind of food. Believe me, I tried to feed them separately, but Sable and his amazing sniffer always found the dish I tried to sequester away for Dakota. When he knew I was feeding Dakota some tasty food, he looked hurt. It was awful, so I stopped doing it. Dakota was going to have to get with Sable's diet plan.

He couldn't eat any kind of grain, so I had to read every label. Vet-office cat food had corn. Grocery store cat food had corn or soy or rice. I cooked chicken thighs for him. I went through every possible combination of meat and vegetable I could think of. For a time, he ate baby food. This was the beginning of the newly-enlightened pet food industry that finally realized that pet food ought to contain only the kinds of food pets would eat naturally. The prices reflected this new revelation, and so the choices were more expensive than grocery store brands, but at least there were choices.

As the years passed, he became sensitive to foods much more quickly. The last few years have been particularly difficult. In the past six months, I had fed every type of grain-free wet cat food available and was currently serving the last option: turkey. If he grew intolerant of that, and every indication from past experience told me he would, there weren't any options left. I was worried, but I tried not to think about it. After all, just because a solution didn't present itself doesn't mean that it wouldn't at the right time.

Sable liked to eat. He was a relatively healthy, hungry cat who was interested in life and even a little bit of play. When I put the canned food out for them, he was there to shove his face in it and move it onto the floor before licking it into submission. He would end up with wet cat food on the sides of his face, and sometimes the top of his head. He had quite a bit of personality in old age, too. There were more than a few times when I went into the kitchen after hearing what I thought may have been a cat having a seizure, but it wasn't that at all. Sable would be playing with something on the floor. Paper, a bit of dust, or something. He would look up at me when I surprised him, immediately ready to abandon play for scratches and pets. He loved and loved and loved.

His last two days were obviously the end. He lay flat as a pancake on the floor, refusing food and drink. I even gave him a cheese puff to lick, to satisfy his craving for salt and processed cheese flavor, but he ignored it completely. That was when I knew it was the end.

I called the vet, but I was reluctant to take him in. I didn't want him to endure another trip to the vet's office, full of strange smells and scary noises. He was a nervous cat, and he was sick, so he didn't need anything else to worry about. As it turned out, the vet didn't call back until the afternoon and I missed the call. She left a message saying she had some ideas, but I knew it was not going to happen.

Yesterday, his last day, I was calm. I pet him, I combed him, and trimmed the fur mats I could see while he purred. I had given him a bath last week to wash the litter that stuck to his feet. He was having diarrhea, and throwing up bile, so I had to wash his face and his bottom again, too. I did that while disturbing him as little as possible. That last day, there was nothing left in his system. He was so thin.

After his bath, I wrapped him in a towel and held in over my shoulder, like a baby. He liked that. He rested his head on my shoulder and purred. He spent the day laying flat in the grass while I sat with him and alternately worked on nearby flower beds. It was a warm day, and the sun probably felt good. He would move a foot or so, then settle down again and sleep with his little face planted into the ground. He seemed okay. I felt okay, glad to be with him. I pet him, I talked to him. He purred.

Early this morning, he died in his sleep on the kitchen floor. He was still warm when I got up and found him. I pet him, told him I was so grateful that he was my kitty. I took a bit of fur to save. That fur was the most gorgeous fur in the whole world, attached to the body of the most loving being one can find in the animal world.

I wish I could have taken away all his pain, fed him until his stomach was as full as his heart. I wish I could hold him one more time, over my shoulder like a baby, rub my face against his head and hear his sweet purr.

I know he's out there somewhere, saying that it's okay; he's okay now. He is eating all that he wants and he feels no pain anymore. I want to tell him that I did the best I could, but that I know it wasn't good enough for him. I wish I had done more.

The bucket that I used for his last bath is still out in the yard, drying. I miss him more than words can say.

I gave him many nicknames, including Sableson plum, sugary little angel boy, pumpkinhead, bell-bells, bellie, Sabellie-bellie-bellie-bellie, ma cherie amour, and many more goofy things that I liked to say to him. He understood French. At least, it seemed like he did from the way he looked at me and blinked whenever I said French words to him. Perhaps he was humoring me. That would have been just like him to be so thoughtful.

3/19/1994 - 6/23/2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reality Fur

Monday nights are not a good time to have a conversation with me. All I want to do is watch "The Bachelorette". Last night I sent an Estonian door-to-door salesperson away because the show was on. She is a college student in the U.S. selling education materials. I bought some books from a guy last year who was here doing the same thing. I realize now that putting her off one night so I can watch reality t.v. may not have been the smartest move, as I may purchase something from her to assuage my guilt. Bad television: it takes as good as it gives.

The saddest shot from this week's show had to have been Kasey standing alone on the glacier as the helicopter with Ali and Justin flew away. Kasey wanted to "protect and guard" Ali's heart, but I think Kasey missed something. He spent so much time being redundant that he forgot to be himself. He is a cutie, but has a strange voice. It's nasaly, and monotone. I kept wanting him to clear his throat every time he talked.

I know, as if I would come off without a flaw on highly-edited television! I would probably dangle a participle or something, and how embarrassing that would be.

Poor Ali. She is continually described as being afraid to love. Chris, the armchair psychologist told her that. Ali herself talks about needing to "love more". What does that mean? Aside from sleeping around.

She's on a television show where she is dating many, many men at once. Every week, she needs to thin the herd. One of those guys that is sent home may have been a fantastic boyfriend, if it weren't for the show and the cameras and the competition. She is right to wonder about what she is doing. It makes for great television (great, as in terrible...) but who wouldn't be freaked out by it all?

Next week is the week where Ali finds out somebody has a girlfriend. The entertainment weeklies say it is Justin, and I can't wait for that fur to fly!

Do you notice how Ali seems to be reading names on the roses she hands out? Does she not remember who she has chosen? Does she need to read names in a specific order? Do the guys have to hand the roses back every time? I am a person who wonders about details.

The details of my weight loss saga (smooth segway!) are not that exciting. I'm holding steady at the same number as last week. I'm happy about that, because I indulged in some Mexican food (or, as folks in Mexico call and that included Santitas tortilla chips, salsa, and a shredded beef taco salad. The chips are not health food, y'all, but they were salty good eats. Also ice cream, which served to balance the Salt with some much needed Sweet.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Animal Planet House


There was another chicken adventure last night. The neighbor's chickens escaped their low-security enclosure for the unencumbered out-of-doors. This affects us because the neighbors are away for a day and we are in charge of their three chickens. I looked for them last night until it was dark, and then got up at 5 am (FIVE A.M.!!!) to look for them. I found one of them right away in their car port, but the other two were no-shows. I returned home for more coffee.

Later that morning, OC and I went out again and made fools of ourselves, calling for chickens. The elderly man next door said there were two chickens in his apple tree. The turds were there when I was walking by earlier, clucking like a crazy person. They must have laughed their chicken heads off at the ridiculous lady speaking nonsensical chicken early in the morning while they dozed until a more reasonable hour.

All I can say is, chicken pot pie sounds really good for lunch...

Wait how many calories are in that?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

There Are No Calories in Water

As a person on a quest to lose weight, I am a bit preoccupied with counting calories. This morning, for instance, I checked the package of coffee for nutritional information. Surprisingly, there was no chart.

Duh. It's coffee. Rather like tea, it's flavored water and unless you are a souped-up sports drink, THERE ARE NO CALORIES IN WATER. Perhaps you already knew that. I am a little slow.

Yesterday's breakfast was cereal with rice milk. I did not measure the portions, but this morning I did. I probably consumed close to 400 calories at breakfast alone! It's not hard to do. Once you start paying attention to calories and portions, you find it adds up quickly.

Wondering about the number of calories in coffee is a little nutty, but thinking about calories is a good thing. It's a new thing for me to worry about, because my attitude before last week tended to be something like, since I'm eating mostly vegetables, what's the worry? Except, the vegetables were nestled snugly beneath a layer of salad dressing, or cooked up in olive oil, and while there were vegetables, there were also too many calories.

Don't get me started about ice cream. Or chocolate. Or bread. I L-O-V-E bread! But things like bagels, those harmless, non-doughnut, morning-coffee-going-with bagels have something like 300 calories in them, and that's before the butter! Sheesh. No wonder I weighed 161 pounds. IT WAS THE BAGEL, IN THE KITCHEN, WITH THE DARIGOLD.

We had an away softball game last night. I had three girls in the car and we went to Subway for sandwiches. I had eaten a steak sandwich before we left (little bit of steak, lots of lettuce and cucumber), with my olive oil and lemon juice mayo substitute. I brought a granola bar and some crackers, and may have eaten some of the girls' Doritos...but that was it.

1400 calories a day is my goal.

Gwyneth has a video about preparing a Mexican dinner which makes me wonder, how many calories are in shrimp...?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Scales are Better Than Shingles

Let's get right to it.

WEEK TWO: Weight: 159.6

It's fair to say I have traded fat for muscle. The number hasn't gone down very much but my clothes feel better already, and I'm feeling more fit. Party on.

Finished the Heaven Can Wait 5k yesterday with OC and a friend from French class. OC has never run that far before. I am so proud of her!!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Attack of the Woman of Ideal Weight

Which is not me......yet.

The ideal weight for a woman of my age and build ranges from 122 to 149 pounds, the mean being 135 pounds. My goal weight of 141 will do a couple of things, one of which is to make my driver's license accurate. More importantly, it will make me happy.

I don't weigh myself often. Usually, I find out the number when I go in for a checkup at the doctor's office. Instead of weight, I gauge my body by how my clothes fit and how quickly I can run a 5k. Lately, my clothes are on the verge of not fitting at all, and I haven't run a 5k in nearly a year.

After two weeks, I am down to *&% pounds.

Breakfast is a fruit smoothie:

- frozen fruit of various types
- fruit juice
- 1 banana

The combinations are endless, and I love that.

Lunch is a sandwich or wrap:

- turkey, chicken, or roast beef (or, whatever)
- sliced cucumbers
- lettuce
- tomato
- olive oil and lemon juice (in place of mayonnaise)

Dinner is....various things. Steak and baked potato, salads, yogurt (when I'm going to class), a wrap, sandwich, or I don't even know what. Great tip!

I feel really good. I still drink coffee in the morning with my usual teaspoon of sugar, and eat a few semi-sweet chocolate chips for dessert. I don't feel like I'm on a diet, and it's really not a diet. Even though it is. If I tell myself I'm on a diet, I'll feel squirmy and tied down, and I don't like to feel that way. I like to feel that I have options, and diets are psychologically NOT about options.

So, on this diet/non-diet, I'm doing well because food tastes good and I'm eating plenty of it (low-calorie, especially). I'm not going to restrict myself from any kind of food, but rather, watch the portions and only concern myself about calories.

I figure this is the most reasonable way to not be on a diet, while on a diet slash lifestyle change.