Sunday, August 5, 2018

Revenge of the Flies? ...and Random bits of Insanity

Well folks, the past few weeks have been, ummm... interesting.

It all started a few weeks ago when, after a bike ride, CatMan noticed a bug bite that just looked a bit "off."

He didn't think much of it at first, but after a day or two when it didn't get better, he finally when to the doctor... whereupon they took one look at him and nearly admitted him to the hospital! Apparently that red streak is bad news - it means that there's an infection that is heading toward the nearest lymph node where it can quickly become systemic and lead to sepsis. After some bloodwork they determined that it hadn't yet spread, so he got to go home with some hefty antibiotics, and he's now doing much better.

Fast forward a week or so, and we went for another bike ride... after which I noticed a strange bug bite on my leg. It was only about the size of a pencil eraser, but it had an odd dent in the middle. After CatMan's experience, I decided to watch it closely, and by the next morning it looked like this.

By that evening it had swollen up more (the yellow is magic marker so I could judge if it was growing)

And by the time I went to the doctor a day or two later it had progressed to this vision of loveliness:

Holy Kazoli! So I'm on hefty antibiotics now too, and CatMan and I are left scratching our heads trying to figure out what the heck is going on!

I mean, up until this whole little adventure started to unfold, neither one of us had ever considered that something as trivial as a bug bite could get infected to the point where it would require anything more serious than some antibiotic ointment. Then suddenly within the span of a few weeks we both end up with serious infections from bug bites?!? It all strikes me as a very odd and disconcerting coincidence.

To make it all the more puzzling, neither one of us has any idea what bit or stung us. In both cases we didn't notice the bite or sting as it happened - only later. And in both cases it either went through our clothes or somehow got into our clothing. Yikes!

It sorta has us wondering if there's some strange new insect out there carrying an infections bacteria or maybe we've karmically offended some force in the insect world. I suppose we'll probably never know, but we're both just hoping to avoid any further encounters.

Anyhoo… to make matters stranger, I was walking my neighbor's dog for her when she was out of town a few weeks back, when suddenly this woman a few houses down came running out of the house and started screaming a pile of obscenities at me, accusing me of having an affair with her husband. She had a truly bizarre litany of accusations dating back at least TEN YEARS! WTF!?!?

It totally freaked me out, so I called the cops who said there's nothing I can do other than avoid her. So I called my neighbor (the one whose dog I was walking) and she promptly erupted into "Oh my God... she did the exact same thing to me!"

Good Gawd! I mean, I think this woman probably has serious psychiatric problems, but I really don't relish the idea of ending up on the receiving end of her psychosis. So I've installed a security system and rearranged all of my routes so I never go past that house anymore. So far the only things the cameras have picked up are the comings and goings of the neighborhood cats, and an occasional raccoon.

Oh, and speaking of cats, my sweet Jasper kitty got sick.

We think it was just a bladder infection, and he's much improved after a round of antibiotics... but both his bloodwork and an X-ray turned up some somewhat concerning things - like he may be in the early stages of kidney failure and his bladder seems very oddly shaped. At the moment we're just keeping an eye on him and we'll do further tests if he starts to show any more symptoms... but honestly, it just makes me sick to my stomach to contemplate having to get back into sick kitty land. Sigh.

And don't even get me started on the insanity unfolding on the nightly news. Lordy! It sorta feels like the whole world (nature included) has gone stark raving mad.

OK, perhaps that's venturing into hyperbole just a tad bit, but I do admit I haven't exactly felt either centered  or gounded lately.

In other news, my little feral friend is doing well.

He's a boy, BTW - and while he still has to hiss at me every time I bring him food, he lets me get within a few feet as long as I don't look directly at him and move very slowly.

But craziness aside, CatMan and I have been riding up a storm and having a great time, so I'll leave you with some slightly more positive photos from recent bike rides:

Hope you're all having a wonderful summer, and staying clear of biting insects, crazy neighbors, heat waves, fires, floods, and random infections!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I'm Not Playing

My senior year in college there was a story going around about a giant water balloon fight that had taken over the campus of one of our neighboring universities. As the story goes, people had become so utterly obsessed with the battle, that nearly the entire student body had picked a side and taken up arms... or balloons as the case may be. For those poor souls who didn't wish to participate, it was necessary to wear a large sign proclaiming "I'm Not Playing!" in order to avoid being mistaken for a member of the opposing team and ambushed by an over zealous balloon lobber on one's way to class.

I have no idea whether there was any truth to this outlandish tale, or whether it was simply a campus myth, but either way, the story struck a chord with me. At the time, I was preparing to graduate with a degree in music - a questionable choice to be sure, but one that I sorta backed into because I found I couldn't tolerate anything else. I had no idea what I wanted to do in life, but one thing was clear: just as all of my classmates were preparing to jump into society... to launch careers, or begin graduate school, or get married, or start businesses... all I wanted was to find a way out.

I had been a tremendously successful student. Valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa, Suma Cum Laude, the whole 9 yards. Yet with all of that achievement, I didn't feel validated, or important... and I most certainly did NOT feel happy. I just felt like I had wasted my youth chasing an illusion.-And I had come to the conclusion that, in this culture at least, that was all sort of by design. Basically the way our society functions is by making people feel like they don't measure up, which then sets them on a hopeless treadmill of trying to earn, or accomplish, or prove, or buy their way out of their own hopeless inadequacy. It's just a trap.

So I decided that I just wasn't playing.

Thus began my long pursuit of the outsmarting of the system. Thirty years later I'm still at it. But boy... I've gotta tell you, I often feel these days like I need to don that sign again, because I'm frequently beset with the feeling that I'm living in a completely different world from the people around me.

Like the other day I logged onto Nextdoor and discovered that there was a heated argument going on over crab grass. Apparently someone has been going around the neighborhood putting anonymous notes on the doors of people with crummy lawns asking them to please clean up their acts and have some consideration for their neighbors. Oh my.

I guess this is what gentrification looks like, because in the course of a few years my neighborhood has gone from being one of the most economically depressed parts of the city... where there was a tacit understanding that people were working hard just to keep a roof over their heads... to one where the average house is selling for over $350K and people are busy berating their neighbors over things like "curb appeal." So much for slummin' it in the barrio!

I guess you can try to outrun the trappings, but apparently the things grow legs and eventually come running after you. Don't get me wrong, It's sort of nice that my little house is now worth about 5 times what I paid for it, but honestly, I'm not sure I'm prepared to live among young professionals with decidedly middle class values. Plus, what about the poor people who were renters? Where are they supposed to go?

Well anyway, I guess it's giving me further incentive to step up my xeriscape game because I really don't relish the idea of being publicly shamed over bindweed.  But yanno, a tiny little snarky part of me did toy with the idea of  putting anonymous notes on the doors of all the people with perfect lawns asking them to please stop polluting the air with their mowers and poisoning the land with their weed killers. Of course I wouldn't do it, but it was tempting. Sigh.

Then I signed on to FaceBook to see what some old friends have been up to, and I discovered that everyone was all torn up about the suicides of two prominent celebrities… neither of whom I'd ever heard of. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all making light of suicide, but "famous handbag designer?!?" Seriously? That's a thing? I just don't get it.

Anyhow, people seemed genuinely shocked that anyone who was so successful could possible be depressed and want to take their own life. Sad as it might sound, this does not surprise me in the least. It's not merely that success does not make people happy, I think that feelings of inadequacy predispose a person to try to chase fame and prosperity in a doomed attempt to outrun their own emotions.

I saw this all the time in the music world. Trying to make it as a musician is really hard, and it seemed to me that, aside from a few folks who lucked into their success, the only people who stuck with it were the people who really needed the extraordinary sense of personal validation that one gets when one is on stage performing for an audience. Seriously, in the real world, people don't cheer and applaud every time you go to work... and getting that sort of "you're wonderful" message can be very seductive.

But ultimately, the holes that our society produces in people cannot be filled through cheers or applause any more than they can be with granite countertops or a perfectly manicured lawn.

I don't know where I'm going with all of this, so I should probably just stop blathering and go pull some weeds. (She says without the slightest hint of sarcasm.)

I guess I just wanted to throw a little life line out there to anyone who might be struggling with the game. Seriously folks, if you feel like you just can't win, it's not because there's anything wrong with you, it's because the whole thing is rigged. The only way out is to simply stop playing!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Pretty Kitty Report

Well, my new feral friend seems quite pleased with its little house, and with the never ending stream of cat food that I've been providing. It rained and snowed several times, but the little house stayed dry, so I think it chose a pretty good location.

I'm still not sure of the gender, but given the fact that it hasn't left the yard in days, I'm guessing female. The males tend to roam, even if they're fixed.

Anyhow, I think this little kitty has been running on empty for some time now, because it's eating like a horse. Seriously, it's eating at least twice what my indoor kitties do. But for the time being, anyhow, I'm content to feed it as much as it will eat. It's probably behind on nutrition, plus it needs extra calories to stay warm at night, and since feral cats often end up with tape worms, I'm sure it needs the extra nutrition.

I still can't get very close to it, but I went out with my telephoto lens yesterday and got a few shots.

So that's the pretty kitty report.

Meanwhile, CatMan and I have been riding up a storm. So here are a few snapshots from recent rides.

View of the Foothills on a cloudy day

Chatfield Reservoir

Downtown in the Distance... WAY off in the distance!

The crabapple trees are in full bloom!
Hope you're all having a wonderful spring!