Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Thursday With Maggie

My heart is nearly broken. Today I called the vet's office and said, "It's time." Those words were heart wrenching. Thank God I have a vet with a staff who knows each patient and their respective humans so well. I imagine some places would have made me say the dreaded words I refuse to say or even type today.

I've tried to distract myself today while desperately wishing I still had a class to teach. Damn you, summer block class. I know I should cherish each moment I have left with Maggie, but taking care of all the things I need to do before going back to school and buying donuts and Don Taco is much easier than laying here while Maggie ignores me. This is the first day she's ignored me so blatantly. My mom says she's preparing me for the future. Perhaps my mom is correct. Maggie has always been in tune with my feelings. So it's entirely possible she knows what is to come tomorrow and wants me to be ready for the first time she isn't here to head boop me as I cry. Maggie is the kind of cat who would do such a thing for me.

I'd like to think I taught her how to be so kind, but I didn't. She came that way. Jeff and I've even joked that she's part dog. She is literally the friendliest cat I've ever met in my entire life. We love cats, even cats with diva streaks, and while Maggie has one, it's never diminished her capacity to love us unconditionally. It's so great that my mom, who does and always will accept me for who I am and become even when she doesn't agree with certain choices, offered positive words upon hearing that I planned to get tattoos of Maggie's paw prints (even though I already have one of her silhouette!) on my shoulders in honor of the Maggie hug. I don't know if I'll ever have another cat who literally hugs me, but at least I've had Maggie and can honor the memory with the blessing of my mom no less!

Earlier in this process, I wrote about knowing when "it was time." When people tell you that you'll know, they mean it. You will know. However, I'd like to add two sub-points.

1. If your pet has two human parents, "the time" is less exact.

I knew before Jeff. However, I could not force Jeff into knowing with me. He had to see it on his own. This made me sad and angry. Don't be like me. I hate that I might have made Jeff feel like a jerk (I'm sorry, and I'm sorry that I can't tell you right this second because you are currently having a busy day at work.).

As I said a few weeks ago, shortly after getting Maggie, Jeff and I had a talk, agreeing that under the right circumstances, euthanasia is the best route to take with pets. If I could go back in time, I would talk about it more. Or I would make us agree to create an agreement of how we would decide when the time was right. It is vastly more complicated than simply agreeing that pet euthanasia is humane in certain cases. For instance, one of the things experts say to consider is the ratio of good days and bad days. However, what constitutes a good day to me is likely not the same as what constitutes a good day to Jeff. Because our schedules conflict, we've been seeing two different versions of Maggie. These are just a few examples as to why I wish we had talked more in depth or had set up a plan, even if it wasn't until the day we found out she was sick. Perhaps if we'd been more clear about our expectations, the time between me knowing and he knowing wouldn't have been as long. I could be wrong about all of this, but it's something to consider.

2. If possible, make sure your friend can go out with a bang.

Despite our sadness, we've been working to make the last stretch of Maggie's life as great as possible. She's been a wonderful friend and deserves nothing but the best. I refuse to wallow in my sadness until it's time tomorrow. I've allowed myself many tears, but we must, even if between cries, for her and for ourselves, enjoy the moments we have left.

Today we purchased a can of organic tuna. Tomorrow part of it will be put on a "good plate," and she will eat like a queen. I may even put the plate on the kitchen table. We're also going to grab a pie from our favorite coffee shop if they have one of her favorites-- she's a fan of lemon cream. If they don't have a flavor on her list of favorites, I'll bring her home a shot of their homemade whipped cream that she loves so much. I think we might take her out for a walk too. She loves the great outdoors.

And finally, on her last ride in the car, we will rock out like a hurricanes with a variety of tunes including the afore-refereneced (why yes, I made that word up!) Scorpion. It all started because (I have no idea how or when) at some point Maggie entered a room, and Jeff said, "Here I am!" to the tune of "Rock You Like a Hurricane." She must of been entering the room like a bad ass. Regardless, it became a thing. She is and will forever be our badass, sweet, friendly, hurricane kitty, and we will always love her.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesdays With Maggie

I've often thought it would be neat to write a book about Maggie and her effect on my life, but the market's flooded. However, I recently figured out how to give it a new spin: I'll begin each chapter with a haiku about Maggie. 

Like Maggie (and Purrcy because I couldn't resist throwing in this one), you're probably wondering how on Earth I came up with such an idea. It all started because the Family Video Jeff and I pass by on the way home started listing exactly three movie titles on their sign, and they were listed in such a way that each week it was as if there was a new poem on the sign. Things really started to spiral when they posted this:

Get Hard
The Warrior

If you know either of us, this title caught our attention for two reasons. The obvious: we have a cat name Maggie. And we're both immature at times which I believe is good because we have stressful jobs. Our sense of humor helps keep us alive. So we ran with it, reciting the "poem" in different ways to create different meanings. The notion of Maggie as a kick ass warrior... amazing!

Eventually the sign changed (twas a sad day), and we were less interested until I decided that Family Video should start making haikus out of movie titles. Somehow this led to Jeff making haikus out of Star Wars titles, and that somehow led to haikus about Maggie. It may sound strange, but she's totally a haiku worthy cat. I've got two so far, but I feel like with time and some solid theme development, I could come up with enough to give my future "cat teaches her human lessons about life" memoir a decent twist and edge in the market. I'm still working on a title, but for now, here are some lovely, wisdom-filled Maggie haikus.

Maggie has cancer
She's living life to the max
Cause that's how she rolls

Maggie is so dope
Cancer or not, she's chilling
Like it's a Tuesday

Maggie, The Doctor
Are chilling in the TARDIS
Prepping for stardust

I know the last one had no real wisdom, but I couldn't resist. See you next week!

Monday, July 20, 2015

CSA Week 9

Our CSA group took a brief break which happened to coincide with our "break." Jeff had to switch shifts for a week, and it threw us both for a loop. We only had dinner together on a regular basis for about a year of our seven years together, and even then it was literally just dinner. Various life events and new apartment locations made dinner together nearly impossible until my hip surgery. When you're forced to use a walker for a month, you almost need your husband to come home for dinner. And then, it meant going into work early. Needless to say, last week was weird. I don't adjust well to such schedule shifts either. My body basically says, "No." We had dinner plans, but they almost never worked out.

We had a lovely box though, and we did manage to make a few items. My step-dad got a belated father's day gift from the cucumbers. 

We used a simple three-day refrigerator dill pickle recipe. This is our first time making pickles, and I think it was a success (Jeff did most of the work on this one because I loathe the smell of pickles and pickles in general!). Of course, I only did a smell test since I don't eat pickles. Jeff said the thinner sliced one are better. If we make them again, one of us might use the mandolin to get a thinner slice. Overall, at least as far as I know, this recipe is solid.

Jeff also put together a salsa. It was supposed to be used for various meals throughout the week, but Jeff ended up munching on it because of our lack of dinners. 

We still have extra tomatoes so he's going to whip up another batch for this week. I'm quite excited! Next week I'll post the salsa recipe along with other interesting concoctions we make now that we're back into the groove (We made a vegetarian version of a Pioneer Woman pasta recipe today, but I forgot to take a picture :( It was so yummy! If we ever make it again, I'll be sure to snap a picture so I can share our modifications.)!

I'll see you tomorrow for Tuesdays with Maggie, and I'll see you next week with CSA creations and recipes using week 9's box! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015



The TARDIS arrived! Granted it is missing a light and a more permanent details, but for now this is perfect. 

Besides, the kitties don't care. Maggie's even mocking me, "Neener, neener! The Doctor picked me to be his companion! Not you, mom!"

"Purrcy can you believe it? I thought The TARDIS was just on some silly show mom watched... but it's really here!" 

I know Maggie and Purrcy actually have no clue why there's a giant blue box in the living room, but they don't seem to care-- it is a box after all. Maggie is content to just chill inside.

Purrcy on the other hand... well, he's gone nuts. Especially after I hung up a toy. 

I'm so thankful my step-dad was able to make my dream come true for Maggie (and that Purrcy is benefiting too). Not every cat can say they've been inside a TARDIS! I'm also thankful he's willing to help me update it and make changes. I have a feeling it's going to get lots of love for a long time... so she'll need to be fixed up every once in while. But for now, she'll do just fine. 

"Get your own TARDIS, mom."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesdays With Maggie

Since "re-booting" Tuesday With Maggie, I've done a lot of research and contemplation. I've also made some memories with the Mags-- I'd like to think I'll look back at our ridiculous poses and smile.

Because her condition will likely require us to essentially "pick a date," I've Googled all sorts of phrases involving cat cancer, pet euthanasia, and when it's "the right time." I suppose I hoped it would give me a more definitive answer than what our vet gave us-- "You'll know." Apparently that is the most definitive answer one can get unless you find yourself in an emergency situation.

Before we'd even had Maggie for a year, Jeff and I talked about our feelings surrounding pet euthanasia. Thankfully we were both on the same page, agreeing that sometimes it's the best thing to do for your furry friend. It isn't about the number of years we spend with our companions but the quality of time we get to share with them. Neither of us thought to discuss it any further. Why would it be any more complicated than that? Unfortunately it is vastly more complicated, and not just in our case. There's even a scale designed to help owners determine when it's time.

I don't want or need the scale-- it seems too clinical, at least it is for me. But I understand why it exists. It was made for the very same reason I started researching when and what to do. We are humans, and we want to be in control with all of the answers. For me, my research only confirmed what I didn't realize I already knew-- I simply would, as the vet said, "know." I know with absolute certainty that today is not the day, but I know it could be tomorrow. I know this because I know Maggie. I doubt tomorrow is the day, but I see it coming soon. It scares the shit out of me. That is why I am sitting here writing this. Maybe some day someone will be just as scared as me, and they can find comfort in my words. Maggie is still enjoying life, but rather than eating out of a bowl, she prefers her food on a flat surface. She doesn't follow me around like my shadow anymore either. Stuff like this, the so-called little things, tells me the day is nearing.

I don't know if we'll pick the "right" day, but I know we won't pick the wrong day. Almost every site discussing this issue states something along the lines of "Better a week too early than an hour too late." I've found peace in this statement. I'd rather take away a few good days than give her even one extra bad day. Maggie cannot recover from this. So all Jeff and I can do is give her the best life in the time she has left and trust our instincts. We know Maggie. I've given her permission to let go, and I'd like to think that when she is ready, she will tell me. I told her (yes, I actually verbalized this) to just let me know. Sometimes humans need permission to let go, so I gave the same respect to Maggie, and I know that someday soon I'll get a look, one that doesn't go away.

For now, I am soaking up all the cuddles I can get, and I'm ensuring Maggie gets the most out of her last days, checking off as many bucket list items as possible. On Monday she got organic tuna served on a good plate. Maybe it's silly, but as humans we talk about our last meal. So Maggie at least deserves organic tuna on a good plate!

Jeff snapped this picture. Clearly we made a solid choice because this was the clearest shot he could get. Maggie has a few other items on her list (Taylor Swift has yet to get back to us, and her trip to the park has been delayed because of the heat-- if nothing else, she'll get one more trip to our back yard), but I'm really looking forward to her reaction to the TARDIS cat condo. I've always wanted to get her a cat condo because I thought she'd enjoy being perched up just a bit higher than normal. Sometime this week, we will find out what she thinks!

If she's not a fan of the TARDIS, I know she'll love the toys that I got to go with it. Both cats practically mauled me to get to these as soon as I opened the box. Wet food is usually ranked above catnip and toys. So they must be made with some strong nip!

No matter what happens--with the TARDIS or with Maggie-- I know everything will be okay. We've given her a good life, one filled with good food, toys, treats, sometimes human food (I'm pretty sure she's getting ham and gravy this week!), laughter, and lots of cuddles. She'll always reside in my heart, and I know she'll always be with me. I always thought she'd be here to watch my future human children grow up, at least part of the way, but I know she'll keep an eye on them from above. I don't actually know that, but in a way I do because if Maggie can't be with me, she has to at least be laughing at and watching over Jeff and me while lazing about on her catnip and tuna filled clouds. A life without at least her spirit is just too sad to even consider.

CSA Week 8

Week 8 was once again a blur-- hence such a late post. We got some lovely yellow squash, cucumbers, lots of tomatoes, garlic, blueberries, lettuce, and chanterelle mushrooms.  We were a big fan of the summer squash sandwiches we made during week 6. This time we added fake bacon and popped them on the panini grill. Scrumptious! 

Since joining Pinterest I'd been eying various squash boat recipes. I never found one that was just right. Since we a larger and therefore seedier one, we just decided to go for it with our own sort of recipe. 

  • One large yellow squash
  • Purple sweet potatoes
  • Beets (roasted and chopped)
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Salsa
  • Cheese
  • Taco seasoning (we use a recipe we found online, but a packet would work too)
  • EVOO
  • First, cut the squash in half and spoon out most of seeds and guts. 
  • Brush both halves with EVOO and roast them for about 15 or 20 minutes. 
  • While the squash is roasting, saute the beets and sweet potatoes on the stove top. Towards the end add a bit of water along with your taco seasoning.  
  • Next put the beets and sweet potatoes inside the squash, and roast it for about 10 minutes. 
  • Add cheese and roast for another 5 or 10 minutes.  
  • Once cooked and cooled enough, add your favorite toppings such as tomato, salsa, and lettuce.

With Maggie's illness, life is just a bit rough. So please forgive me for being slow with posting and being terrible at keeping track of meals.

On a happier note: next week's post will involve these lovely cucumbers becoming pickles as well as some nice homemade salsa.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesdays With Maggie

As you know, my step-dad is building a TARDIS cat condo for Maggie. I could really use an actual TARDIS right now-- I think this is the third post in a row that has been posted late. Ah! But hey, it's technically still Tuesday at least.

I've been on a Doctor Who kick lately, probably because I get daily updates about Maggie's TARDIS, and I'm also wishing the new series was out already. I need my fix! I still find the theme fitting, albeit in a sort of sad yet wise way.

At least twice during the current run of Doctor Who, The Doctor has been asked about his companions and their eventual departure--whether through choice or not. In "School Reunion," explaining to Rose why he left Sarah Jane behind, The Doctor said, "I don't age. I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone you..." The sentence only needed completing for a naive Rose, "You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on, alone. That's the curse of the Timelords."

And perhaps even more heartbreaking is the exchange he shared with the character of Jackson Lake in a Christmas Special:

Jackson Lake: Tell me one thing. All those facts and figures I saw of the Doctor's life, you were never alone. All those bright and shining companions. But not any more?
The Doctor: No.
Jackson Lake: Might I ask why not?
The Doctor: They leave. Because they should or because they find someone else. And some of them, some of them... forget me.
The Doctor: I suppose in the end, they break my heart.

Obviously none of us are The Doctor. We could only hope to meet such a being let alone be anything at all like The Doctor. But we are like him in at least one way: we often refer to our pets as companions. Perhaps it's because they are more than just animals to many of us. They are our friends, our family, and we love them. We bring them into our homes knowing that eventually they will break our hearts. At some point, no matter how it happens, we will all feel like The Doctor after a companion is gone. If we didn't, this wouldn't exist.

The Doctor can fix and upgrade K-9, but our companions are more vulnerable and vastly more complicated than K-9. The Doctor cannot break the rules of time and space to spend forever with Rose, nor can he fix Donna. And I cannot heal Maggie. It's just not how it works.

But I knew this. Jeff knew this. Why did we set ourselves up for such heartbreak? Why do any of us? As humans we will eventually "wither and die" just as The Doctor says, but our furry family members will always do so before us (and none of us can even take comfort in knowing our pain and sadness can look so good in a GIF). I'd like to think it's one of our redeeming qualities as humans. We choose to find the capacity to love an animal knowing full well that he or she will depart our world before us, leaving what feels like a giant gaping hole in our world and soul. The animals may need us, but we also need them. We are better with them, better for having them even if only for a short while.

This doesn't make it any easier. It certainly doesn't in a situation such as this. I previously mentioned that Maggie reminded me most of Donna Noble. Shortly after posting it, I realized how fucking depressing having cat remind me of Donna truly is. Sure Maggie is sassy and fun, but as the days go by I notice changes in her that mean the conscious decision we must ultimately make to end her life is nearing. It's not a choice we want to make, but it is a choice we must make in the coming weeks or months. At least I've had the pleasure of knowing the most important cat in the world-- she's changed my life in so many ways, all for the better. My spirit animal might be the thirteenth doctor, but Maggie's, no matter how tragic, is Donna Noble-- the most important woman in the whole of creation.

So here's to you, Maggie.