Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


Watching Her Go

Maddy, my cat, is dying.

She has inoperable cancer, and up until a week ago, seemed fine and perky and her normal self though her asthma seemed to be more chronic than it had been. She stopped eating last weekend, and we thought that it was just that there was something wrong with the new bag of food because Zach, our other cat, didn't seem to be much interested in food either. The vet wanted her to lose weight anyway, so for a day or two we didn't worry about it. Then gradually she seemed to have more and more trouble breathing--she was breathing hard and fast as she did when having an asthma attack, except she wasn't coughing. It didn't stop and she still wasn't interested in food and got more and more listless.

It took a couple of days to make a vet appointment and Jim finally took her in Friday afternoon--I had to work late because of a late project at work that one of my bosses needed help with. The vet took X-rays and could tell something serious was wrong, and got Jim to take her immediately to a critical care place so an expert could look at her. I met him there and held her for a few minutes, then we had to leave. They drained her lungs and tested the fluid and confirmed it was cancer and that it was advanced. She stayed there overnight till the results came in, and now she's home.

If her lungs don't fill up again too quickly she'll be okay for a while, but she doesn't have much appetite and is breathing the way she was before we took her in so I think she won't be with us much longer. We hoped she just needed to recover from the trauma of the vet visit, but clearly she's just not herself anymore. No more chirping when I come into the room or in response when I talk to her. No more waking us up early--too early--because she's tired of waiting for breakfast. No more lying in my arms at bedtime purring loudly and kneading my face or arms so enthusiastically it hurt. No wrestling with Zach. No waiting, yelling, by the food dish. No climbing onto laps, annoyed if Zach is there first.

She's curled up on the daybed behind me right now, but we had to put her there. All she wants to do is lie there. She doesn't seem to really sleep. She's interested in food for a moment, but only a moment--even tinned catfood, which was always the treat above all other treats except maybe chicken, only interests her for a bite or two. She can walk, but doesn't want to. Except for walking outside for about a half hour chewing grass (she's been an indoor cat, but hell I'll let her do anything she wants to now--who cares if she gets fat or acquires bad habits now) she just lies there. I can't tell if she's in pain, but she's certainly not happy. She's not herself, and I don't want to remember her this way.

She's been the most affectionate cat I've ever known. She's intense in her emotions--she loves or hates, rarely anything in between. She's moody, and you can tell how she's feeling by looking at her face. She doesn't like anyone much other than Jim and I, and is famous amongst our friends for how obnoxious she is when they visit. Once two of our friends were in England at the same time and met up there for the first time, and spent their whole meeting sharing stories about Maddy. Not too many cats can inspire that much discussion.

We've had Zach and her (they're not litter mates, but we got them within five weeks of each other as first one of our cats then the other was run over--that's why these two have been indoor cats) for fourteen years--that's fourteen out of the sixteen years of our marriage. We've had them through four cities and seven moves, from Missoula to Seattle to London, Ontario to Victoria and back to Seattle.

Obviously I've had hints for a while that all was not well. She gave us that big scare, which I mentioned in my February 6th entry and since then (and even before, actually) I've been thinking about how limited our time with Maddy and Zach will be, saying that anything after thirteen years is an gift, but also telling myself that even if they are fourteen they could still have a good six years left in the them. Maddy clearly doesn't have that. Maybe not even that many days.

Anyway, for now I'm going to remember how I've always berated myself for not letting her have kittens (of course I really wouldn't--I know that the last thing the world needs is more kittens) because her extra toes really were the feline attempt to build opposable thumbs into their species. How on February 27th I was annoyed with her for waking me up wanting breakfast. How on March 5th I was just so happy that the four of us were all sitting together on the same loveseat.

Yes, I think I knew.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


We got the new Patti Smith disc, Gung Ho, which I think approaches the level of greatness of Gone Again--classic rock. There's a little annoying 70s guitar noodling (done by her son) but mostly it's wonderfully enjoyable.

Also got the new Cat Power covers album, which is a little too loose and sloppy and drifty for me, at least so far. It might come into better focus on more listenings. Jim doesn't like her cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", while I really like it--a very different, almost non-recognizable rendition.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Kate Elliott's The Burning Stone is the third volume in her Crown of Stars series. I can't go into what happens in the novel because too much of it would be spoilers for anyone who hasn't read volumes 1 and 2 (I wrote about volume 1, King's Dragon in my January 23rd entry and volume 2 Prince of Dogs in my March 5 entry). I must say that I really enjoyed this, despite a time in the middle of this book where I wondered for a bit if perhaps this wasn't getting just too long and complicated. The moment passed as I got caught up again in the characters relationships. And unlike a similar epic by Robert Jordan, it hasn't gotten repetitive or boring, and unlike a similar epic by George R. R. Martin I haven't felt screwed over/tweaked around by the author. This remains 95% interesting and the characters are growing and changing. A rewarding read.

I also read John Barnes' Candle, a story about a manhunt in the future when everyone has been infected with a meme called Resuna, which guides their actions and is overseen by a kind of AI called One True. The main character, Currie Curran grew up in a harsh world and being taken over by Resuna was a relief, and he became a hunter of people who had not accepted Resuna, and now he's out for one last hunt after an old adversary called Lobo. The tale of his hunt and what unfolds from that has a classic SF feel and reads quickly and easily, even when the characters telling their histories becomes a straightforward infodump about the future. I enjoyed this, but one of these kinds of adventure/idea novels lasts me a long time. Small doses, please.

It has also been a long time since I talked about the poetry books I've been reading, so I thought I'd list the books stacked in my study: Linda Gregg's Things and Flesh, Joan McBreen's The Wind Beyond the Wall, Harold Rhenisch's Fusion, E.D. Blodgett's Apostrophes: woman at a piano, P.K. Page's Hologram, Liliane Welch's The Rock's Stillness. I also have a few nonfiction books: Linda Hogan's Dwellings, Lilian Welch's Frescoes, and Alan Garner's The Voice That Thunders. There's a snapshot of another aspect of my reading life.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I am working on Gypsy Davey, but very slowly, as life is rather inferring right now. I'm going to finish it now--I have to, especially as the main character is named after Maddy, though she has a very different personality.

It's interesting--about ten days ago as I was standing in the shower washing my hair and thinking about the story suddenly something important in the formation of the plot fell into place--like a penny finally dropping--and I could see where I needed to go next. I wouldn't say the words are flowing, but their forming their little lines and I have more pages there than I did ten days ago. I hope not to lose too much momentum in the next few weeks with visitors and taxes and other deadlines. And with the emotional repercussions that I can already feel.

Oh, and as an update to last week's frustrations, I may have found another route to getting the cover image I want for Blood Memory--please cross your fingers for me.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

November 1976

601. I wanted

I wanted to burn daylight, but the moon told me no. I disagreed, but it was adamant on the point. I was not to kill daylight. My protestation rose and fell, but that changed nothing. It wouldn't, there wasn't much hope of that. Of course there wasn't.

602. Howdy out of Philosophy

This is a howdy out of Philosophy. The prof and one of the students are in the middle of arguing. I don't think i have to listen, but one ear is still open to it. Discussing good and bad, true and false pleasures. I know, i've been told, i understand the difference.) ("Life is one big bluff" and "ha ha world"). S'there. I know.

603. New dimension

They just added a new dimension to the argument. Pure and impure pleasures. But how do they define "pure"? I know how i define it, but how do they? The force behind the entire argument is gone if they don't know, and they don't know. Blind old candyman, making a game out if it. [1]

604. Who know what howdies?

Who know what howdies lurk in the heart of philosophy? Probably several million. I found a howdy today. [2] (Or it found me, i'm not sure.) There are howdies everywhere? <-- i mean everywhere! (<-- that's better). Who knows what howdies lurk in the heart of Phono? I wonder if anybody's ever found a howdy here? (I think i have, but sometimes i wonder.)

605. Can we?

Can we push out pain to other regions? Can we isolate if from ourselves? Or... can we even add it to dream, mix well, and turn out something human? Well, i suppose that Socrates would work on the answer, but i won't i'll just accept the premise and forget about it and dream about it and inadvertently write about it in Phono.

606. Waiting for a midterm

I'm waiting for a midterm, which i'm going to flunk. That is depressing in itself, but i'm not awake enough to be depressed. Oh dear. I'm going to blow Psychology. (I'm at the point where i don't care.) Make a mental note. "f'shure. Must convince myself that paranoia and laziness ain't the only way to go. S'there. G'nite. Not listening to writing prof, not yet studying. Too bad.

607. Leave it

Say what you mean and leave it. That's the story, but what's left? Nine-tenths are cut out, while my eyes ache for tiredness, but do not affect a breezy language. Slang to cover up the fact you really don't have anything to say. But nothing means anything anyway, and there's nothing there. I saw my mind in pain, it followed out in rain...

608. Getting away with it

I may think i'm getting away with it. I may think it's real. But it's only think, nothing more. And so little is done about it until the end. I'm just waiting until the end comes, and with it the crunch. It's will come eventually, but now it's just watching and waiting. (Its yellow eyes glowing above the edge.)

609. Water

Water tickles my toes, letting the dead buy the dead, following him, using the crosswalk, while the bad has made it better. If this was the very last day. C'mon and follow him, it's soon Evacuation day (the world is a downer). And it's a sunny day, a brand new sunny day, but I just can't keep my eyes off of them clouds.[3]

610. Lions - 1; Christians - 0

That's the score at half time. Yay team.


There also is a note stuck in the book: "Mr. Munch" Hi! I don't know when i'll be back to pick this up, middle of midterms, etc. Probably next Thursday. Take care". I guess I was still dropping this off for my high school writing teacher to read. Interesting.

1. I suspect this is a quote from a Christian rock song, but I don't recall it for certain. Funny how much of this stuff is just erased from my brain.

2. I think now I'm using the term to be some kind of epiphany. Aha!

3. This entry is made up of a serious of quotes from various Christian rock songs.

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