Earlier this week I was frantically scurrying around my yard with a plastic Virginia Tech cup full of garlic cloves. I was frantic because that garlic was supposed to be in the ground by Columbus Day. I don't even remember where I heard that from anymore, but in my head it's gospel. As I was searching for a clear spot for the garlic it occurred to me the entire garden should really be clear by now. Those green tomatoes are not ever going to turn red. The peppers probably won't either. The pumpkins are out so even though the vines are still a nice green they can go. All I have is space. So in that moment I realized gardening season was officially over, and yet, as I was out there looking for a place to plant something new it was also already starting again.
The reason Columbus Day came and went without the spark of recognition that the garlic needed a fall burial is because I have recently kicked up my work schedule. Times they are a changin' and this former stay at home mom has bills to pay. During this past month I have taken over the reigns of the checkbook so as to better acquaint myself with our household's financial situation. With that little dab of perspective, I was hit squarely in the stomach with the realization that once my income started factoring in to the budget there is no going back. My stay at home mom days are officially over. Our baby is two and he is the last of my litter so the jig is up. Being able to produce milk can no longer be called upon to necessitate my staying near my young. I have been replaced with a herd of cattle a few towns over and my husband is more than happy to send me out the door with the promise to hold down the fort in my absence.
So for the first time in over seven years I'm again asking the question, "what in the heck am I going to do when I grow up?" (Darn you, suffragists!) It is all fine and good to cruise along on autopilot when there are babies to tend to, but now things like 'upward momentum' and 'retirement planning' have weaseled their way into my consciousness again. I'm not going to lie, it's uncomfortable. But, it is a fresh new adventure. I've moved from being a mom with a part time job back into the land of career women and this month has marked the start of game on.
Together, my garden and I have moved into a new phase of the life cycle and bearing fruit is not the end of the story for either of us. I will no longer be producing offspring but luckily, unlike my spent plants, my usefulness extends beyond being turned into compost. Whereas the tomato mothers have to depend on their children to carry on their work, this mother doesn't yet have that luxury. Not that I'd want it, mind you. I much prefer waking up to an alarm each morning to the alternative. Not to mention, child labor laws in this country preclude me from having my seven year old daughter bring home the bacon, unless of course I can get her singing or acting. No luck yet.
So the garlic is in, I have a shiny new job with which to pay some bills, and I'm sure eventually time management won't be such an overwhelming concept. I'm just hoping to move from frantic to plain old busy.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am not an animal person. As a matter of fact, in the past I have often been flabbergasted by friends who have spent ridiculous money to get extensive medical treatment for animals because (prepare yourselves, animal lovers) I have always considered pets to be replaceable. As in, that one is broken so just get a new one, what’s the problem? Well, then I met Boris. While I got him and his sister to deal with mice, he turned out to be such a friendly, sociable thing that I got attached.
Which is why when I found a lump on his head this past Wednesday, my heart sank. In my line of work, lumps on heads do not seem to bode well. So Thursday afternoon, I took him in to be seen. Well, it turns out, being lackadaisical about whether he snuck outside when the weather was nice wasn’t such a good idea. Something bit him. It also turns out I should have been more diligent about getting him his annual rabies shots.
The vet told me the state’s recommendation for a bite of unknown origin (B.O.U.O.? perhaps from an R.O.U.S.?) inflicted on an animal without up to date shots is for that animal to be put down. Now, had we been talking about his washrag of a personality sister, Doris, perhaps this news would have been less upsetting. Because while I cannot choose favorites amongst my children, I feel comfortable doing so between my cats and frankly, she could go. But, as no luck at all would have it, Boris was the one sitting on the chopping block. My vet went on to say that my alternative is to keep said cat quarantined for six months, either in a cage or in a room by himself. So I put him down.
Of course I didn’t, but had someone told me this story, especially someone with three small children in their home, I would have thought them a complete idiot for choosing to keep the animal alive and told them so. Well, Boris is worth it is all I can say. Not worth my children getting rabies, of course, but worth keeping alive to give him a chance to prove his uncontaminated-ness.
Now I find it terribly upsetting to see an animal larger than a hamster confined to a cage. It just feels wrong. So I started him off in the basement with the cat door taped off. I put him down there, shut the door and he didn’t move. He was like Bill Murray in What About Bob? He just stood there and waited. When I opened the door an hour later, he was still there. And once he realized the tape wasn’t going anywhere the meowing started. That heart wrenching, “why are you doing this to me?” meow that he usually reserves for confinement in the pet carrier. I tried to go about my regular life but even my two year old, Charlie, couldn’t stand it. He kept pointing at the door saying, “cat!” which probably translates to, “mom, the cat hates that, let him out.” As Charlie is my most recent caged animal (I am referring to his crib, obviously, no need to look for the Children and Youth number!) I believe the cat’s predicament might have struck a nerve.
Regardless, my mother-in-law took pity on Boris’s plight and has lent me a cage to keep upstairs where we bipeds spend our days. I believe she has taken in every stray within a 20 mile radius of her home so not only is she no stranger to poor feline souls, but she happens to have the equipment on hand for times like these.
Now I personally didn’t think the cage would be a better alternative. If I were the cat, I’d pick the basement. But, the meowing has stopped. So either learned helplessness has kicked in, or he can tolerate this situation better now that he has us people milling about and keeping him company. I happen to assume the former, so I can’t look him in the eye anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing my best to overcompensate by petting him often and giving him treats but I can’t help but imagine he feels completely betrayed and depressed.
To be clear, I recognize I am assigning human responses to a non-human being but it’s all I know. I’d probably be handling this better if I had a minor in cat psych rather than human, but I don’t think the university I attended offered that course. Well, maybe in the animal science building but that was completely on the other side of campus.
I take Boris back to the vet this Thursday to make sure the bite wound on his head is healing properly and doesn’t require surgery. I am also bringing his sister to get her shots updated; guilt shots, if you will. At least I have managed to stay up to date on shots for my three monkeys (aka, my children). Fortunately, though, the only bites they seem to get lately are from each other.
I like to throw things.