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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The LC Burial Project

This is not truly a project, but a sad responsibility for me.  But it meant something to me to do the burial with effort and care and love.  I did not think it quite appropriate to place this on the Mark's Mews Blog, so it has to go here.

It was fortunate that the temperature went above freezing for over a week.  LC died on the 13th and the ground was too hard to dig.  But it was forecast to stay warmer for a whole, so I waited.  This morning, I was able to push a thin metal rod through the freeze zone.  And tomorrow it is expected to start freezing again.

So I went out this afternoon and brought my strongest digging implements:  the solid steel spade, the "Mutt" (think of a 6' chisel), and a post hole digger.  I was expecting to need my electric auger, but was spared that.

I dug the topsoil into one 5 gallon bucket.  The next foot was clay and gravel in another bucket.  Below that was pure sand.  This whole area used to be a silt plain.  I went through the same thing when I dug Skeeter's grave 13 months ago, but there I hit a lot of house construction debris.  At least in LC's spot, it was clean.

So I got the hole 3 feet deep.

It doesn't look it, but the camera shows no depth.  I measured it with a yardstick.  There were three 5-gallon buckets filled from a 1.5 sq ft hole

I laid dear LC out on the ground next to it...

When I was sure the hole was large enough, I set her in.  

That was very hard.  I placed a couple favorite toys, some of her only favorite kitty treat, and some fresh catnip on her.  Then the final part.  I covered her body with dirt.  

That was the hardest part, yet it must be done.  So final, yet so merely mechanical.  Dumping dirt from a bucket...  Why does truly saying "goodbye" mean covering someone with dirt?

Well,  I will build a small wooden marker to match Skeeter's, but for now I will use a paver stone to mark her special spot.

Farewell LC...  You were A Very Good cat, but you are over the Bridge now with Skeeter.  You have moved on and now I must do the same.  See you again someday...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And Now We Are Only 3 (1 Person and 2 Cats)

I am sad to say that an era has ended.  I have been dreading this day for months.  LC has joined Skeeter over the Bridge.  Skeeter joined me in 1992 and went over the Bridge Dec 2008, LC joined us in 1993 and left this afternoon.  Together, they were a major part of my life for 17 years.  I hardly know how to imagine their absence.  While LC was still here, so was Skeeter in a way.  Now she has gone too.

I give LC her thyroid med when I go to bed and when I get up in the morning.  Last night, I couldn't find her.  Well, that happens sometimes; there are lots of places in this house where kitties can hide when they want to and LC always knew when it was med time.  Ayla has some places I have NEVER discovered.  LC seldom hid, but she did a few times.

This morning, when she didn't come for breakfast, I went searching.  The past couple of months, I have often had to find her and bring her food to her.  I couldn't find her anywhere.  After 30 minutes of searching, with dread in my heart, I spied a tail.  She had burrowed into a corner of basement clutter.  When I shook her, she did not move.

I went upstairs and cried.  After a while, I went back downstairs to retrieve her body.  She was completely unmoving.  But when I pulled her out, she was warm.  She blinked one eye.  She was at the vet 5 minutes later, though essentially comatose.  The vet put her on fluids immediately and drew blood for tests.  He sent me home. 

An hour later, the vet called and said she had died.  He said she had roused a bit after the fluids but that at one of their every-10-minute checks, she was gone. 

Oh LC, I am so sorry that I wasn't there in your last minutes.  I wish I had just kept you home and held you until your brave spirit left your failing body so you could leave while in my arms as Skeeter did.  But I had to try to save you for a few more days...

I do not think she was at all aware of her surroundings.  The vet says she died from a kidney infection; her white blood cell count was very high.  He says she was not in any pain, just was feeling very very tired.

When I went to bring her home, the vet had tears in his eyes too.  The assistant who brought her to me was also crying.   She knows how I felt because she said she lost her 5 kitties in a house fire last week.  We cried together for a few minutes.  But I had to leave...

At home, I laid LC on the floor for Ayla and Iza to examine.  Iza sniffed her many times.  Ayla came over, but backed away and ran into the kitty condo cave.  She stayed in there an hour.  I think they understood that LC was no longer in her body.  It is important to me that they understand that she is dead rather than "missing".

 I went outside to dig a spot for LC next to Skeeter, but the ground is frozen hard.  I can't handle this today.  Tommorrow, I will try pouring hot water on the soil to thaw it.  For now, I need to build a small memorial box like Skeeter's.

They were beloved close companions (and mine) all their lives, their bodies will be close to each other afterwards.  It's all I can do at this point...

Please forgive my maundering and inelegant post.  I am grieving the loss of their presence and my memory of them.  I had so many happy years with both of them.  It is hard to accept that they are BOTH now gone.   17 years is a long time to share with cat-friends, and I am grateful for that time together.  They exist only in my heart and mind, treasured pictures, and their memorials.

Goodbye Skeeter and LC...

I think I will now go toss toys to Ayla and Iza, and explain to them that they are the "new era" now...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Computer Problems

3 PM:

My Mac Pro computer is apparently too evil too repair.  I don't mean that it is possessed with a malevolent spirit or that there are problems that multiple repair techs can't fix.  I mean that it apparently smells so strongly of cigarette smoke that no one is willing to repair it.

OK, I'll say straight off that if the computer is damaged because I smoke, that is mostly my fault. Only "mostly" because I have a lot of other computerized equipment in the house (including a PC that worked for 8 years - and still does) and they all work just fine!  The Mac needed repair after only 9 months and then again after 6 months.  If Macs need to be operated in a smoke free "safe" environment, they should have told me! 

I am not defending smoking; I know it is a really dumb habit and I'm trying to quit .  But when Apple Repair Stores point to "environmental abuse" in the warranty and claim that detectable cigarette odors void the warranty, I have a right to think I am being abused...

I was surprized and confused when the 1st repair place refused to work on the computer.  I tried to find a place that cleaned smoke-damaged computers (with no success).  When I called an actual Apple Store, the person laughed and said of the 1st repair place - not an official Apple Store, "That's just an excuse they use, bring it in and we'll repair it".  I was quite relieved.  But after 3 days, they called me back with the same story; that they wouldn't even work on it and my extended warranty was void.  Apple considers cigarette smoke to be a "toxic hazard".

After struggling with the fan problem for 3 weeks plus driving 220 miles back and forth to the 2 repair stores AND not having a repaired computer, that was a hard blow!

The problem is that the output fan operates on high speed constantly.  The computer appears to work just fine.  So it may be that I just have to put up with the noise until I can find someone willing to clean/repair it.  Or I may have to replace it, and quit smoking.  Quitting would be a very good idea anyway.  And I think I bought way more computer than I need, so replacing it may not be THAT expensive, especially if I am no longer buying cigarettes.

So the computer might fail at any time and it will be a while before I can replace it...


I just searched "Mac cigarette smoke" and found many sites that explained why cigarette smoke is so damaging to computers (and especially Macs because of their design).  I understand now why it is a real problem.  I even found a discussion site about it.  There were posts from users in my situation, users who have never (like me) experienced the problem with a PC, posts from users who blame Apple for not specifically mentioning cigarette smoke as a deal-breaker, and posts from Apple techs who described how cleaning melted nicotine from computers is both nearly impossible AND disgusting (even to techs who smoke).  Apparently, no smoking user has ever gotten any mercy from Apple.

I am in a real dilemma.  Given the descriptions of the problems with repairing Macs abused with cigarette smoke, I accept their refusal to repair the computer.  I think Apple is seriously wrong not to advise buyers that smoking voids the warranty or extended warranty, but I accept that no further action on my part can get the computer repaired.

I am fairly confident that I could stop smoking in order to save the next computer (if not myself).  But I haven't really been happy with my Mac Pro.  I haven't had crashes like on my PCs and I feel little threat from hackers, viruses, etc, but the applications software basically SUCKS!  Pages and Numbers are far less featured that Windows Word and Excel.  Even Office for Mac is far less than the same on a PC.  Organizing files in Finder is much harder than in Windows Explorer.  I first thought I just wasn't familiar with the Mac systems and commands, but after more than a year, the same problems remain.  Macs are expensive.  In addition, the nearest Mac repair store is 25 miles away, while there are 4 PC repair stores within 3 miles.

On the other hand, I switched to a Mac because Windows became so frustrating to use.  It crashed, it froze, it needed massive hacker and virus protections, and it is slow to load software.  The 3rd time in 1 year that I had to spend 2 days completely reloading all the software from scratch made me determined to never own a PC again.  My PCs needed a repair about every 6 months.

I think, though, that I will stick with a Mac.  My old PC still works.  I could use that more often for offline work.  As far as I can tell, my Mac would not yet need any repair service.

If that forces me to stop smoking, it might be the best purchase I've ever made!