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a most unusual day

September 30, 2009

I miss my cat. She’s not here. She is still alive, as far as I know, just not here.

The cat was the catalyst for this most unusual day.

Last night, I let the cat out – she is an indoor-outdoor cat, we let her come and go as she likes. Soon after I let her out, I heard a nasty yowling and – it is hard to put the awful sound of two cats fighting into words. Earlier yesterday, or perhaps the day before, I saw a new cat in the neighborhood, one that was all white. I didn’t like its looks, or the way it walked. It seemed like a cocky cat, and I felt a sense of menace. I am guessing this is the cat that troubled mine.

I did not see the cats fight, just heard them. Awhile later, my cat Suzie meowed at my sliding glass door – I don’t have a window in my room, instead, a sliding glass door that leads out to the patio, part of which is underneath a tin roof attached to the rest of the house. I let Suzie in, returned to the computer, and she curled up on a rocking chair here in my room, where she likes to sleep. I didn’t see any wounds, she looked fine to me.

I was up ’til past 4 AM this morning, and got out of bed around noon. I was planning on heading to the wildlife center, mostly to work on data entry, and visit with the resident birds. I didn’t need to be there until between 1 and 2 pm, so did not get out of bed quickly.  Often I will lay in bed for 2 or 3 hours after I wake up. This helps sometimes. I try and work things out in my mind .. go through my thoughts and my life. Sort of like a therapy session for myself. Certainly cheaper, and considering some therapists I’ve seen, more helpful too. The days I don’t have an 11 AM class, I get out of bed when I want to.

After getting out of bed, I checked my email, and noticed that Suzie was curled up a little strangely. I thought for a moment that she might be dead, but noticed she was breathing. I got up, headed toward the dining room table, leaving my bedroom door open. I sat down to read the paper, and Suzie walked out. My dad saw her before I did and said she was limping. I was shocked to see that she couldn’t use her right front paw at all, and was limping along on three legs. No blood, but her leg looked a little twisted, and there was a patch of fur on her lower back that she had licked vigorously during the night.

I called the vet to get her an appointment. I don’t have a cat carrier, so I drove all the way out to the wildlife center to borrow one of theirs, thinking I would bring back one of those sturdy plastic cat carriers for Suzie, then take her to the vet. I was told by my supervisor that the best cat carrier was a cardboard pet carrying box. In the past, I’ve only used these boxes to carry raptors – moving hawks and owls here and there.  Yeah, it can be really interesting trying to safely cram a rather ornery owl or large hawk into a cardboard box while wearing heavy, bulky gloves.

I had not thought of a cardboard carrier.. wish I had thought of that. There is a pet store just a few blocks from where I live. The wildlife center takes a half hour at least to drive to. Oh well.

On the way back home, the “check battery” light came on my dashboard. Great! Last week, my ’98 Mustang twice would not start, but after that, it was fine, and the light hadn’t come on ’til today, so I hadn’t taken my car to the shop.  The light came on while I was still quite aways out in the country, and I drove home nervously. A bit more nervously, I should say. I am almost always quite nervous when I drive.

Once home, I asked my aunt if I could borrow her car, telling her mine was acting up. She did not want me to drive her car,  saying it was making a funny noise. Also, her car is actually owned by my grandma, even though my grandma doesn’t drive – my aunt drives her around, and uses the car. My aunt felt she needed my grandma’s permission, but she didn’t tell me this, just basically said no, without using the word no.

I had my dad hold the box open and managed to get Suzie into it securely without her scratching us. She is a wonderful cat with a nice temperament, as long as no one pets her belly. Cats do not like being petted on their bellies. Putting Suzie in the carry box was easier than with the hawks and large owls, since cats don’t have rather long talons or wings. I put Suzie on the minuscule backseat of the Mustang, my dad got into the passenger seat, and I drove. My dad likes to come along sometimes when I go places. He doesn’t drive and likes to get out of the house. I tend not to mind his company.

The vet I took Suzie to is in another city, about a half hour’s drive from where I live. I took the freeway – a very busy state highway, the size of some interstates – which is quite congested most of the time. I tend to take the back roads out of town. Most of my life out here, the freeway has been fun to drive on, but the past five years or so, the population has exploded, and there is much more traffic on the freeway – but still, quicker to where I was going.

I took Suzie to a vet in this other city because my brother and his family had been taking their pets to this vet clinic and animal hospital for years, before they moved to Idaho, and also, the veterinarians work on our animals from the wildlife center for free – we don’t have an x-ray machine or some other gear we need at the center. Some of the people on staff bring in animals to this particular clinic several times a week.  I figure a trustworthy vet clinic is worth the drive.

I made it ok on the freeway, and after exiting it, got on to a busy road that is often 3 lanes across, each way.  I was in the middle lane, several miles from the vet’s, when my car beeped feebly a few times, then stopped. Oh joy! I’d sometimes wondered what it would be like to break down in a middle lane, in heavy traffic. Now I know.

This city we were in is nicer than the one where I live. It is a little smaller, and has a more mellow vibe, even though the traffic is still heavy. I am glad I broke down in that city, instead of where I live.

I was stunned. Just sat in the car for at least a minute – stalled in traffic with a very unhappy kitty in the back seat, and now late for the vet appointment.

I am often quite cynical about people.  I have been treated so badly by so many people.  Also, I have been helpful. I really try to be, and when I am, I sometimes am not even thanked. It is so rare that someone outside of my immediate family does anything helpful for me.  Acts of kindness surprise me greatly.

I’d gotten out of the car to show that it wasn’t moving, and to wave people around. A man in an SUV next to me asked if I’d like a push. I was mildly shocked. I paused for a couple seconds, then quietly said, “Yes please.”

One strange thing about the town is that it has some odd intersections – very very wide in places and no areas to pull over close by. So, the first good samaritan of the day directed me to move the car through the intersection, taking a left turn through it and come to a stop along the side of the road next to a large RV sales lot. He pushed from the back, I steered with one hand and pushed from the side, and my rather heavy father stayed in the car. Didn’t think to get out and push, or at least walk, and lighten the load. As I wrote in a previous blog, my father has some interesting issues. I was too stressed out to suggest he get out of the car, and try to help.

I had to jump in the car while it was being pushed, because there was a slight slant, it was picking up speed, and I needed to steer. I am tall, and the Mustang is a low car, but I jumped into it safely, steered it to the curb, and realized that without power, the brakes don’t work so well. Ah. but it was ok. As soon as I came to a complete stop, a fire chief in another SUV who was passing by,  flashed his lights at me, pulled along side and asked if I was alright. Nice person. I told him the car broke down, but I was ok. While he was asking me, the guy who’d helped me ran over to where the driver of the SUV he was in had parked and he got inside and they rode off. I did not have a chance to thank him.

So, that makes two helpful people thus far in my story.  I sat for awhile trying to figure out what to do. I called to cancel the vet appointment.  Couldn’t call a tow truck yet, because I had to figure out what to do with the cat. Called my aunt on her cell, left a message. I then realized I had forgotten her home phone nbr. I called 3 wrong numbers by accident, but still could not remember. Maybe I just misdialed. It’s interesting what the brain does under stress.

I called my mom. Her cell phone was off, I left a message. I waited. My dad was restless, so I suggested he go to a convenience store across the street to get us something to eat and drink. I called the vet, rescheduled the appointment for later in the evening, sat in the car, in the sun.While I was sitting in the car, a kinda seedy but not exactly dangerous-looking dude passed by on foot, looking at me a little strangely. He later returned, and passed me again heading back to wherever it was he came from. He asked me if I was alright. Helpful person nbr. 3. I gave him a thumbs up sign, and he continued on.

I tried to read a little, and waited, waited for a return call from my aunt, waited for my mom, waited for my dad, who didn’t get back for almost an hour, from his trip to the store across the street.  My mom called back, finally, and I explained the situation. She headed out to this other city where I was stranded, and eventually arrived, just as my dad was walking up.

He had been wandering, and found a Kragen auto parts store nearby that sold batteries and rented out tools. I’m glad he was at least trying to be helpful. Soon after my parents arrived, an Assyrian man drove up. (Assyrians are from Iran, and Iraq, if I remember correctly, and perhaps some other countries in that area. They are not Arabic, and are not Muslim. They are a persecuted Christian minority, and many have moved to California to escape persecution. They tend to do well, and are rather industrious. The city I was in at the time has many Assyrians.) This guy, it turns out, was a mechanic. I could tell by what he was wearing. His shirt said  “Auto World,” and “Joe.”

Joe offered to try the jumper cables – didn’t work, so, Joe said we should go buy a battery from Kragen, and he would home to get his tools, and return to help us put the battery in. Joe was a little hard to understand because of his accent, but once I understood him,  I was very very surprised!

The scheduled time for the vet appointment was soon approaching, so my mom and I hurried over to Kragen in her car, and bought the battery. We drove back to the Mustang, with my dad in it, and I left them with the battery, to wait for Joe. I then took Suzie to the vet, in my mom’s car, barely making it in time.

Earlier, while at the wildlife center, I had talked briefly with my supervisor, and described my cat’s bad leg. She said my cat was likely bitten by the other cat, and that an abscess had already formed. This is bad. Cat saliva has some sort of poison or poisons in it. A lot of hurt animals that are brought into the wildlife center for treatment come in with cat bites. No noticeable puncture wounds in some cases, but with visible abscesses.

At the vet’s I told about how I suspected Suzie had fought with another cat the night before, about her leg, and what my supervisor had said about the likely cause of injury being a cat bite and abscess.

The veterinarian took Suzie into the main treatment area, had to shave some of Suzie’s fur off, and found a nasty bite, not on Suzie’s leg, but her shoulder. She said Suzie would need to be anesthesized ( I can never spell that damn word!) and would need a drainage treatment of the wound, some anti-biotics and a shot for the pain, It would cost around $250, which is what my supervisor had told me it would cost. This is not a bad bill, compared to some vet bills, which could cost many thousands of dollars. I was relieved.  Suzie would have to stay over night. Which is why she is not here, out roaming, or curled up sleeping on her favorite chair.

I called my mom to see how she and the car were doing. Joe had arrived as promised, and installed the battery, but the car would not start. They tried again and my mom needed to hang up.

After the appointment was over, I was going to drive back over to where the Mustang was to pick them up. Just as I was about to head onto that main street,  Joe drove into the lot with my dad. There were two other people in Joe’s small car, a little girl and an older man. I was surprised to see them. Joe’s daughter and father wanted to come along. My mom had said Joe would take my dad over to the vet, but then seemed to have changed her mind about that before she hung up, so I was surprised to see my dad being delivered.

Quite good timing.. I might have easily passed Joe and company on the road to pick up my dad. Turns out, Joe was able to get the car to start, even with what turned out to be a bad alternator. He told my mom to drive home soon, as it was becoming dusk, and to drive without the headlights to use less power. My dad doesn’t drive, so he was brought to me.  My mom had sent him to me because he has a credit card, even though I’d already told her I had my card. It’s hard to think straight, with an unmoving car, a cat in need of help and the heat..

Yes, it was very good of Joe to help, and very good he arrived almost as I was ready to leave. My dad got out of Joe’s car, with only one shoe on, and carrying the other shoe. He started to walk along the edge of the building looking for me. I yelled to him, and he came over, got in the car, and then put on his shoe. He said he’d gotten his shoe caught in between the Mustang and the sidewalk, and just got into Joe’s car with one shoe on. I didn’t bother to ask why he didn’t just stop for a moment before getting into Joe’s car,  and return his shoe to its rightful place. Sometimes it is best not to ask.. especially with my family… especially with my dad.

Joe drove off, and so did we, leaving Suzie in the hopefully skilled hands of one of the vets.

On the way home, my dad told me mom was already on the way home in my car, and that he had a good conversation with Joe about Iran, what is going on there, and about the local Assyrian community. He also told me Joe offered to drive to our house and fix my car tomorrow. Joe works in the city where we live. He said he would put a new alternator in. He did not say if he would bring an alternator with him from his work or not.. so I am assuming we buy another one tmw. A time for Joe to come to our house was not settled.

We eventually arrived home, and my aunt came over – she lives in the other side of our duplex. My dad called Joe, but had to leave a message, so we don’t know when Joe will be coming.  The vet called, and said she found two more bad bites on Suzie. We decided my mom and I would get our cat the next day.. probably leave around 11 AM or so – not sure why both of us need to go, I could go by myself. I guess she wants to go along for the ride, and put the bill on her card, which likely has a lower interest rate. I’m not sure when we will buy the alternator, or if we need to buy one. Hopefully we can get in contact with Joe by phone before we leave to get Suzie.

My mom, dad, aunt and I have been talking for awhile about moving out of this town, and why we don’t like it. For reasons why we don’t like it, read my blogs entitled “sirens,” and “this town.” I talked about the nice people in the city we were in when my car broke down, that I felt it would be a better place to live, and that, since it is likely we will stay in this area for at least 2 more years, we should move to a more pleasant place. Who knows what will come of this.

After my aunt headed back over to her side of the duplex,  and my mom went to bed, I decided to go to Starbucks. I’ve not gone to Starbucks more than once or twice a year until lately.. I used to go to a local coffee house that isn’t corporately owned, but the service was so bad there, and even decaf gets me kinda wired sometimes, so I mostly stopped buying coffee. But, I stopped drinking any alcohol, and have had strong cigarette cravings, even though I’ve never been much of a smoker.. times have been tough, so I’ve needed some sort of comfort I could ingest or imbibe, so I’ve been getting lattes.

I also reserved 2 DVD’s online that I could get from a vending machine..so I and my dad went to Starbucks and then the grocery store where the movie vending machine is, and then we went home.

And here I am. It is 12:49 AM. I am going to have a turkey sandwich, watch a movie for awhile, miss my cat, hope she is alright, and eventually sleep.

My parents, being Christians, feel being helped by these good people is an answer to prayer. I, who am not a Christian, but who am interested in Eastern religions, am wondering about karma. Musing that, since I’ve tried to be a good person, and be helpful, that maybe some good karma came around today. Maybe these things happened by chance, I don’t know. But, I am feeling grateful for the help regardless, and somewhat overwhelmed by it all. Wow, good people! Good people?!

An injured cat, a very quick trip to the wildlife center and back, a ride to a city to the south, breaking down in traffic, offered help from 4 nice people – amazing, and lots of help from one of them, who might even come here tomorrow to repair my car.

This truly has been a most unusual day.

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