last day of Charles the Cat
Tuesday, March 31 2020
In hopes of getting more work done today, I tried to limit my checking of Facebook and news sites. I have good will power on the occasions when I decide to use it, and by just deciding, I was able to actually get some work done. All was well until the power and internet winked off at the same time. The power immediately came back on, but the internet stayed off. Not long afterwards, I saw a Spectrum truck come up the road, and I figured they were the cause of my woes. What incentive do they have to preserve the reliability of other services carried by the poles they've been stringing cable between? Later the Spectrum truck was gone and Gretchen thought I should jump in the car and find them to yell at them. But by then the internet had miraculously started working again. I did not, however, cancel the trouble ticket with Verizon. They'd told me they'd be sending someone out on April 2nd, and there was a good chance Spectrum would break out DSL again before then.
Gretchen had set up an appointment with the Hurley Vet for Charles the Cat, who was down to 6.3 pounds even though he's been ravenously hungry and we've been feeding him all the wet food he wants. Something had been wrong with his guts for months, as he tended to vomit whenever he ate dry food. Charles' appoint was this afternoon, and Gretchen took both dogs along with Charles. The pandemic protocol at the vet was as follows: people wait in their cars and call the front desk on their cellphones, and then a staffer wearing gloves and a mask comes out to the parking lot to either take the leash (of a dog) or the carrier (of a cat). All communication then takes place by phone. Payments are also made over the phone, with customers reading their credit card information. This system would've been impossible in the 1980s, but fortunately there was no pandemic in the 1980s.
Eventually Gretchen called from the parking lot outside the veterinary office to tell me the bad news. Apparently Charles had a large mass in his intestines that was blocking his ability to absorb nutrients. It wasn't the sort of thing we were going to have him opened up to remove, so they only other possible therapy was steroids. I agreed with Gretchen and the vet that it would probably be best to euthanize the old boy (though, at about twelve, he wasn't even all that old). So I drove out to the veterinary office to say my goodbyes. When I arrived, Charles was being miserable in his cage, yowling and complaining. But then Gretchen and I sat with him in the backseat of the Subaru, letting him come out of the carrier if he wanted to. He did, but only briefly, and then he retreated back into it. I rubbed him on his head and he was soon purring and happy, aggressively pushing his face against my hand. He's always been one of my biggest fans, and it felt good that I'd managed to make him suddenly so content. But then I was overcome by a wave of grief knowing what Charles did not, that this would be our last experience together. I let out a few sobs and tears came streaming down my face. Part of what I was feeling, in addition to the grief of Charle's imminent demise, was misery for the state of a world gripped by pandemic (even if that misery was mostly just a human thing). To an extent, this feeling was further intensified by a semi-recreational 120 mg dose of pseudoephedrine I'd taken this morning.
Charles still seemed to be in the inertia of contentment when one of the vet staffer came out to grab his carrier. While waiting for Charles' corpse, we walked the dogs around the grounds of the veterinary hospital. I found some fresh new catnip growing on a clump of potting soil that I gathered for Celeste the cat. Eventually I left Gretchen in the veterinary parking lots and drove home with the dogs. I'd stopped at the Hurley Stewart's to get air for a low tire on the Subaru on the way to the vet, and on the way home I drove the Prius and put air in its tires. On both occasions, I used either a plastic bag or a napkin so I wouldn't have to touch the air hose. All public surfaces are suspect in a pandemic.
Normally when an animal dies, I dig a hole near the old dog house and bury him or her in it. Today, though, Gretchen and I agreed it would be acceptable just to take Charles' dead body and put it somewhere in the forest. So I carried him (still in a small cardboard coffin) out west of the Farm Road, continuing to the top of the highest terrace, eventually ending up in a large nearly-flat region studded with occasional massive bluestone boulders dropped by the glaciers. I placed Charles' body atop one of these boulders, more than six feet above the ground. I then used smaller rocks to build a low wall around him so he couldn't be seen from the ground and wouldn't slide off. I figure he'll eventually be eaten by crows and vultures, which is what I would want to have happen to my body.
This evening, Gretchen got a call from our tenant at our Wall Street house asking if, due to the now all-of-April federal pandemic guidelines to stay at home, there was any way she could stay a week beyond the end of her previously-announced vacate date. We'd already lined up a new tenant, of course, but Gretchen was nice and called that new tenant to see if this would be possible. It turned out that it wouldn't be; there was already a tenant for the place she'd be vacating. When Gretchen called our Wall Street tenant back and told her that an additional week would not be possible, the tenant became weird and started making veiled legal threats and playing up the risk of having people moving her stuff during a pandemic. Maybe she should've thought of that before giving Gretchen a notice that she would be leaving. That said, I'm not sure if our legal options to do anything about this emerging headache have been curtailed by a statewide moratorium on evictions. If you had asked me yesterday who I thought would be the tenant least likely to give us any trouble, I might've picked the one at the Wall Street house. Now, though, she was acting like a neurotic baby.
pictures of Charles
April 2, 2017, the day after he first arrived.
April 7, 2017.
Painting, April 9, 2017.
June 2, 2017.
October 13, 2017.
November 10, 2018 with Clarence.
November 10, 2018.
Viewed from the surveillance robot in the living room, March 30, 2019.
Enjoying a box, June 19, 2019.
June 30, 20190.
With Celeste in front of the front door, August 15, 2019.
Out on the east deck, August 31, 2019.
With one of my Raspberry Pi robots, September 9, 2019.
Out on the east deck with Celeste, Ramona, Gretchen, and Neville, September 28, 2019.
Out on the east deck with Ramona, October 12, 2019.
Enjoying a bag, October 19, 2019.
Enjoying a fire with Neville and Ramona, November 16, 2019.
With Neville and Ramona, December 7, 2019.
With Neville, January 5, 2020.
With Ramona, Neville, and Gretchen taking a photograph, February 1, 2020.
Spawn of Satan, February 15, 2020.
Pi Day with a painting of the late Sylvia, March 14, 2020.
March 21, 2020 with Gretchen.
Enjoying Eleanor's old "fur blanket," March 21, 2020.
With Neville and Ramona, March 30, 2020.
The boulder where I put Charles' body, before I put him there.
The boulder with Charles on it, as well as a low wall. Click to enlarge.
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