It’s 11 am and I have reached the first rest station on this marathon I call Tuesday. It starts when my feet hit the floor in the morning. There is one such marathon for each day of the week, every week of the month and all the months in a year. When I first wake in the morning, I do not move. I just breath in that moment of peace and quiet. This will all change shortly. Then I try to remember which day of the week it is.
Damn, Tuesday! Trash day! Not that that is so terrible, but it just adds something else to the morning chores.
Within a couple minutes, I hear a dog’s tail start to wag. It is tapping the floor. This triggers a dog yawn. Then the flapping of ears as another dog shakes it’s head. Sebastian (aka Seb), my Siamese cat, appears from nowhere and starts screaming at my head and walking all over my body. The rest of the dogs get up and start circling the bed. The sound of all those toe nails clicking on the wooden floor seems so deafening at that hour. It’s like fingers on a chalkboard or what I imagine water torture to be like. I may as well just get up. It’s 7 am. Time for the marathon to start.
I stagger down the hall to turn on the stereo (I need the rhythm of some music to spur me onward), open the back door to let a few of the dogs out (I have to do this 5-6 times before I eventually get them all or most out), grab a cup of coffee and head back down the hall.
I have been known to take my cup of coffee and go back to bed. My thinking is I’ll give the caffeine some time to start working. Sometimes an hour passes in what seems like 5 minutes because I have just plain passed out. So I mutter something to the fact that “I must have needed more sleep” before getting on with the marathon.
Next stop is the emergency pee pad. I set it up a couple years back for my senior dog who has arthritis really bad. It just became too much for her to walk down the hall, across the back porch, down the steps or the ramp and into the yard to do her stuff. So I experimented with various plastic sheets that I cover with newspapers. I had a brain fart at Lowe’s one day — rubber pool liner!! So I have a length of rubber pool liner 7′ long and 3 1/5′ wide… covered with newspaper.
Brilliant idea… it works like a charm and is quite durable.
I put it in the hallway between my bedroom and what used to be my office. Lacey’s accomplishment for the day was to maneuver best she could from the bedroom to the office in the morning with a stop in the middle for a potty break. Then in the evening, she would manuever herself back to the bedroom with another potty break in the middle.
As her arthritis has increased, she has opted to no longer walk. At all. The lack of exercise has turned her into a 90-something pound dog (about 10-15 pounds over her regular weight from several years ago). So… she drags herself onto a large piece of canvas and barks at me to drag her to the pee pad and then to the living room, where I now office.
Further, she has embraced this new mobility and requires that I take her outside a couple times a day where again she does her business. Thank goodness for the ramp. Thank goodness for canvas.
Because Lacy has made known the purpose of the pee pad, I often find that it has been used by other dogs during the night. After I have my cup of coffee in hand, I have to clean the pee pad so Lacy can soil the pee pad. And I will likely have to clean it once more before the morning marathon ends because I have a couple small dogs that hold their business until they come back in from outside. Drives me nuts… but I roll on.
Okay, the next leg of the marathon — keeping in mind that it is Tuesday — is to collect trash from all the appropriate places throughout the house and move it to the front porch. Then on to litter boxes — there are seven of them. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to have to walk very far when they need to potty (I say with great sarcasm). It’s the path of least resistance.
Next, feed the two cats — Otis and Layla — that are out in the cattery. They are foreclosure cats left behind when their family moved. They are also Feline Leukemia positive which is highly contagious to other cats, but not to me or to dogs. When diagnosed in February, 2008, the vet wanted to put them both “down” (gosh I hate that word). The news was a complete surprise and hit me pretty hard. For the next hour and a half, a parade of people at the clinic tried to talk me into euthanasia. Layla just stared at me with her big green eyes that seemed to reflect a whole lot of trust. What am I supposed to tell her? “I’m sorry, it’s just inconvenient for you to live.”
I couldn’t do it. I spent another 15 minutes talking the doctor into giving me some drugs to knock the infection out of Otis (who looked like he might not even make it through the weekend), paid my $265 bill and took Otis and Layla home. Over the next 10 days, I built them a cattery — their own fenced in yard, a one-room house with wrap porch, a sleeping platform and a climbing tower with several levels they could lay on. They are just outside the dining room window, so they can see and hear us all the time. They are surrounded by dogs, so no cats can access them. While the dogs were a bit close for them at first, they are fine with it now.
While I am outside, I’ll feed LeRoy… my front yard dog. And I’ll water the sorriest excuse for a garden I have ever seen. And I planted it. Three days after I planted my tomato plants and seeded my vegetables, we got 14 inches of rain that topped the garden by several inches. You have to wonder where some of my seeds ended up. I think it you follow the creek down the road and on through the woods, there is a spot with a whole lot of grass and some sprouting vegetables courtesy of me. There are probably some really happy critters, too.
I also moved the trash out to the street.
Take a gulp of coffee. Feed Frankie and Drew Haden (cats) in their room.
Five down, 38 to go. Damn, someone had an accident in the hallway. Everything stops for clean up.
Time to make the rounds through the house and collect food bowls. Annie eats in the master bath, Claire has taken over the top of the desk in the old office. Meha and Paketo’s bowls are there, too. The rest of the cat bowls will be in the kitchen. Dog bowls… they are generally scattered throughout the house: Taylor eats in the hall bathroom; Maya eats in the office; Millie and Emily eat in the bedroom; Sassy and Gigi eat in the kitchen; Lacey eats in the living room; Sweet, Kelsey, Bosco and Gracie eat in their kennel carriers. Anyone else who has decided to eat inside eats en masse in the living room and dining room (it’s essentially one big room).
Afterwards, much of the “en masse” follows me outside where they get their regular dosage of food. Because they think they are smarter than me by double dipping (eating inside AND out), they get very small portions inside.
We are in the home stretch of the marathon now. I can almost see the rest stop. I pick up the outside dog bowls and place them back in the rack I built for them, turn the water on to top off the level in the pond, bring all the dogs outside for “recess” and then I clean up the yard. I pick up poop from the backyard twice a day and compost it. After 10-12 months in the compost pile (it is actually twice composted), I add the compost to flower beds.
Sometimes I water some plants or the grass I am trying to grow. But today, I don’t want to. It’s just so hot.
I come in and remove ALL my clothes — everything is soaked through with sweat, put on a new set of clothes and head for breakfast. My breakfast. When it is this hot, a couple bowls of cold cereal with really cold milk taste so good.
With that done, I have reached my first rest stop of the day. In about six hours, I will do much of it again.
As Betty used to say, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” To which I say to myself, “Roll on.”