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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Socks


Since December, I've decided to hang on to the single socks that come out of the dryer when I do a wash.  Like most of you, I am mystified as to where the other sock goes.  Is it not happy with its accommodations?  Perhaps it is tired of its twin and wants to try another pairing.  Or perhaps there is a sock stalker hiding out in the laundry room and the missing socks are being tortured somewhere or held for ransom.  Come to think of it, I've never received a ransom note.  And really, I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay ransom for one sock.  Especially if it's been tortured.

I am not sure how long I will hang on to the eight remaining twins.  Yes, surprisingly, there are eight of them. I hate to hurt their feelings but I am soon going to run out of room in my sock drawer for them.  I suppose I could find something else for them to do.  They could become sock puppets, for instance.  But I personally have no need for sock puppets.  I found some other uses for single socks, such as using them for dusting or turning them into patchwork quilts or putting them OVER your shoes when working in the garden.  (I would be careful when recommending this to a single sock...they are used to being on the inside of a shoe where it might be smelly, but it's clean.)  One person even suggested making a sock rose.  I'm thinking "sock rose" is an oxymoron.  And trying to use it as a Christmas stocking is just a turn off.  I'm sorry.

I decided to Google missing socks and found some interesting websites.  At the Where Socks Go blog, you can peruse the various sock photos in search of your missing sock, or you can upload your own photos.  There are some truly sad stories there.  There is the drain sock, for instance, which, for all we know, could actually be down the drain and into the sewer system by now.  What a way to go.  Apparently the owner of the website is finding a sock a week these days.  That translates into a lot of socks going missing, when you think of it.

One person has actually invented a missing sock bucket.  Whenever you come up with only one sock after doing your laundry, you throw it in the bucket until the other one shows up.   I think this person is seriously deluded.  They rarely, if ever, show up.

Companies dealing with this phenomenon are apparently springing up everywhere.  The United Socks of America, with their motto "Helping Socks Partner For Life" has developed the Lock 'N Wash "a fastener that will ensure that socks remain connected at temperatures up to C-70degrees yet can be pulled apart, on stretch fabric, at room temperature, without damage to the sock material."  I commend them for having the guts to do something about this widespread, and yet rarely discussed, issue.  Socks are going missing every day and it's time we come out of the closet (surely, we won't find them there) and begin a real dialogue.  For all we know, the socks may not WANT to be found, in which case we have a lot of soul searching to do, never mind the sock searching.

For now, I am trying to spread the word about my eight missing socks.  I have no pictures of them, but I do have their twins, so you can at least get an IDEA of what they look like.  Remember, not all twins are identical.  Please email if you spot one.  Thank you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Signs

In the 2002 movie "Signs", the character of Graham Hess at one point says "People break down into two groups. When they experience something lucky, group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance."

For some reason, that idea stuck with me for a long time after.  I asked myself many times:  am I the kind of person who sees signs, or am I in group number two?  Many times in my life I saw bald eagles as some kind of sign of something more.  It was always when I had been struggling with a problem or had been having some kind of spiritual crisis when I would just unexpectedly see an eagle flying high above me.  I was sure it meant something.  I even wrote a song called "Eagle's Eyes" where I connect spirituality and eagles.  As time went on and I began to explore my interest in Buddhism, I made the decision that I was, in fact, in group number two.  Human beings feel a strong need to attach meaning to things.  It gives them hope, it gives them comfort.  And who can blame them?  When difficult situations arise, we really do want hope and comfort.  But as far as I see it, "signs" are really only created by us.

A couple of days ago, I remember saying out loud to one of my daughters that I was looking for a sign from our cat, Picard, that it was his time.  I was looking for a signal that he was in pain or discomfort, when I'd know that we would have to take some action.  Our 17-year-old cat had been suffering from failing kidneys for several months and we knew that at some point soon, he was going to go.  He had gotten much thinner, and we had him on medication and special food, but he kept going.  This cat had almost died from getting his vaccinations once, and on another occasion he'd been hit by a car, which, among other things, knocked a front tooth out and left him with what we often joked was an "Elvis lip".  His remaining tooth would push one side of his lip up in a kind of curl every now and then and it looked pretty comical.  He had also been the neighbourhood bully for a number of years, and he had been in so many cat fights over his lifetime that we figured if any cat could keep living with hardly any kidney function, he could!  But the last couple of weeks, he had become weaker and had several bouts where he wouldn't eat for a day or two.  Last weekend he had another bout, and he stopped eating entirely.  I was hoping that he would simply curl up and die in his sleep, at home where he was happy.

I held off the notion of having him euthanized, but yesterday morning, he was so weak that he could barely walk.  He wanted to go outside and I wasn't going to let him, but he was so insistent that I finally gave in.  I watched him for an hour or so as he would move from spot to spot on the back lawn, not able to get comfortable, not able to stay still or to sleep.  I came outside and he stumbled to his feet and walked towards me, and then I heard the sound of his voice.  It was high-pitched and so very weak.  And it sounded like a cry rather than a meow.  And that's what made up my mind.

Before I could second-guess myself I made an appointment with the vet.  It was for 2pm.  My girls and I cried and cried and watched him for four hours as we waited to take him in.  At one point, I was coming from the livingroom into the hallway and he was sitting with his back towards me at the other end of the hall.  I stopped for a moment and looked at him because he almost looked normal the way he was sitting.  Over the morning, we would pick him up so gently, kiss him and pet him as much as he could stand.

When we finally brought him to the vet, it was a quiet, utterly sad and, thank heavens, a quick and painless end.  Then we tearfully brought him home and buried our old Picard in a spot in the flowerbed where he used to love to lie in the summertime.  Later in the day, one of my daughters and I went to a hobby shop to buy the materials we needed to make a garden stepping stone that we will personalize with his name and place over the spot that he is buried.

Today I went for my first long walk since he died.  One of the places I usually pass on my walk is the vet's office and I was dreading it a little.  But as I passed it, I realized to myself that it was just a building and that even though it had been the last place he took a breath, it was just wood and plaster and glass and nothing more.  I thought again about signs and how I no longer really looked for them.  For one brief moment, I said to myself that if my beloved cat sent me a sign, I don't even know that I would see it.  And then I brushed off the whole notion of signs.

As I walked further I remembered another cat.  Sometimes I see him on my walks, and on other days he's nowhere to be found.  He has the same colouring as Picard, but is short-haired with a big belly.  I thought to myself that this would be a good day for me NOT to see him.  I wasn't ready to greet another cat yet.

As I turned the corner, I caught my breath as I saw him.  He was sitting about 20 metres down the sidewalk, with his back towards me, in the same position as I had stopped to look at Picard a day earlier.  I almost stopped walking, it took me so by surprise.  This neighbourhood cat is usually pretty friendly and he often comes to me when I call.  But I didn't really want to call him.  His ears bent back as he heard me approach and then he turned around and started to walk towards me, but instead of greeting me as he normally does, he seemed aloof.  I passed him, but then he started walking along with me.  I looked down at him and he flopped on his side, ready for a belly rub.  And that's when I saw his tooth pushing up on one side of his lip.  I couldn't believe my eyes, and bent down to give him his belly rub.

Nah.

I continued to walk, pondering the wonders of the last few minutes.  I saw people with their dogs, and realized I couldn't say I had a cat anymore.  But then I said to myself that I'd always have Picard, whether he's around or not.

Finally I got home and decided to visit the spot where we buried him.  I stood there for a minute and realized I was hearing something high above me.  A screeching noise.  I looked up and the screeching stopped.  And there he was.

Soaring high above me...an eagle.
Picard's last time on the lawn

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Idea Worth Spreading

I just viewed an amazing TED talk by a woman named Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, who had the rare and unusual opportunity to "watch" herself have a stroke.

This is 20-minutes that I promise you will not regret spending.


So which hemisphere do you spend most of your time in?  :-)

IJ

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For The Love Of A Pet

Evening walkImage by ~libby via Flickr
A few months ago I was walking near the boardwalk in Steveston where my parents live when I noticed a lady in the distance walking her dog.  As I got closer, I realized that she was actually half-carrying him with a harness that held up his back legs while his front legs propelled him along.  She gently helped him when he needed to do his business by taking him out of the harness and patiently waiting while he did his thing.  Then she cleaned it up and carefully put him back in his harness.  He was a German Shephard, so it wasn't an easy task for her.

I continued to walk past them as this was happening, and kept looking back to see how they were progressing until the tears in my eyes made them almost invisible.  It was such a beautiful demonstration of love and compassion for a pet.  On another walk only about a month ago, I saw them again.  This time, the dog was in a wagon lying on a blanket as the woman pulled him along.  I guess his front legs were giving out too.  It gave a whole new meaning to taking the dog for a walk.

Now I'm not an over-the-top pet owner, and I scoff at how some people talk about their pets as if they were their children...but I understand the love behind it.  Last week our 17-year-old cat, Picard, who suffers from failing kidneys and a hyper-thyroid condition, became very sick.  I woke up on Saturday morning, realizing he had been throwing up all around the house.  His skinny body convulsed again and again even though he had nothing left in his stomach.  It finally settled down, but he did what all cat owner's know is a bad sign;  he went down to the basement and hid away.  Taking him to the vet was out of the question.  Picard freaks out at the very sight of his pet carrier, let alone a ride in the car.  He has always been a difficult patient, and we made the decision long ago that we wouldn't bring him there unless absolutely necessary.  So I waited to see what would happen.

My husband and I had a golf game to attend, and before we left I checked on Picard who was now sleeping in his little hideaway.  I had to work hard at not worrying about him for the whole afternoon, and kept checking in with my daughters who were keeping an eye on him.  Still sleeping.

The next day he came upstairs for a bit, but refused to eat.  Another bad sign.  I had to give him his medication, a little flavoured pill, and of course he wouldn't eat that either.  Later on in the day my daughter suggested that we try sticking it in his favourite treat.  It was the last resort.  We cut a little piece out of the treat and pressed the little pill inside it.  My daughter went downstairs to Picard's hiding place and gently offered it to him.  I couldn't see what was happening because he was behind a mini-fridge, so I just stood and watched my daughter.

Much to my surprise, after a few minutes she said "Done!".  He ate the treat and got his medication.  What a relief.

Very slowly over the next couple of days, he started to eat and spent more time upstairs with us.  I wouldn't have believed it.  That cat has survived so many things over his lifetime that I was almost certain that he was out of lives.  He is still very weak, he is pretty much deaf and sleeps most of the time, but he is okay for now.

I do dread the day that he finally goes.  My daughters don't remember life before Picard...they were four- and six-years old when when we picked him up from the SPCA as a nine-week-old kitten.  He has always been in their lives and they have been like little mothers to him, though sometimes not in a way to his liking!  He has endured being dressed up, hauled around in the most uncomfortable looking ways, and smothered with more smooches than a cat should have to put up with.  But I'm absolutely sure that the reason he has lasted for these past months with his condition, is that he has three mothers who love him more than anything in the world.

So today I'd like to say Happy Mother's Day to all of the women and girls out there who have become like mothers to their pets.  It is great practice for caring and compassion, the very definition of "Mother".

IJ
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