Roughing it

I am not a fan of camping. I do not see living outdoors without modern conveniences to be a fun thing. My idea of roughing it is staying in a hotel without room service. 

So I am not taking well to having plumbing problems. My bathtub didn’t drain well for awhile, I would be in standing water after a shower. My dad noticed it too. We lived with it, complained about it to each other and muttered under our breaths. 

He got fed up and called a plumber from the phone book. Plumber came out, and according to my dad, stuck a crowbar down the drain and called it good. He took his $80 and left. When my dad went to check it out there was some evil looking sludge in the tub. 

Phone calls were made, the plumber came back, looked at the evil sludge and gave my dad an estimate for $1650.00. When I got home my dad was not happy. Neither was I, since I was looking forward to taking a shower. 

The sludge changed to a tub full of murky water. It looked evil and it smelled evil. I described it to my sister as “smelling like a nursing home.” I’m sure there are wonderful, sweet smelling nursing homes with honest, well-trained staff and well cared for patients but I’ve not run into them, that’s another issue for another time. 

I drained the tub using a bucket and plastic cup. It took me several stinky trips to dump these loads way in the back of the yard. All was well, for awhile. Unfortunately we still had to answer Nature’s Call and the tub backed up again. So I got the bucket and cup and started the process. I tried not to think about cholera and other diseases that ran rampant because of bad sanitation. 

 I wiped down the entire bathroom with bleach, which helped.  Then I wondered how people dealt with the smell, especially in summer. As much as I am fascinated by history I am glad, overall, that I live in the 21st century. 

I’ve left the house to go to the bathroom, including going outside at the river. I’ve taken “cat baths.” I just washed my hair in the kitchen sink. But I still have air conditioning and a microwave. It’s the closest I hope to come to camping. 


Walk hard

That is a thing. Sometimes walking is hard. I have not done my usual walking, due to life getting in the way. Porkchop was sick and then died. I just couldn’t, I didn’t feel it. Even though my body knew it should and it could, it wanted to stay inside and not move.  Then my dad was in the hospital, he had chest pain. We went to the ER, he was admitted, they ran tests, drew blood and he got to watch cable when they woke him up. He came home when the tests confirmed he had blockages, and only one functioning artery. Surgery was a high-risk low value option and he didn’t want it. While he was in hospital I mostly hung out there with my sisters and we got to enjoy the free Wi-Fi while he dozed. I didn’t walk then either. The temperature was in the 90’s and that didn’t help.

So I managed 2 days in a week and half, and this was an effort. Not just physically but mentally, I was aware of everything around me. It was hot, the sun beating on me with little breeze, and the distance seemed longer. I wondered if I should be there, besides the weather I was aware there were things I could or should be doing. I even felt the geese were judging me. More than usual.

I still miss Porkchop waiting for me at the door when I come home, see that weird empty space where his cat box was, and just miss him. I can hardly eat in my room because I keep waiting for a little gray paw to reach for my food. My dad is all right, relatively speaking. He’s dozing in his recliner with a bag of pork rinds next to him. Following a low salt diet only happens in the hospital and frankly it won’t help much anyway, it just annoys him.

Today I did my walk, I didn’t do the full distance I should have but came close, less than a mile short. I started early, it wasn’t hot yet and there was breeze. I brought a bottle of water and later wished I brought a second. It was good, better than I expected. I thought about last June, when I took off to see how far I could go and nearly gave myself skin failure and heatstroke. I didn’t walk 11 miles like that day but I didn’t have the rapid heartbeat or fatigue either. I’ve also learned to put one earbud in my left ear and the other one down the front of my shirt. I know clipping my phone holder on my left front helps too. These are little things that make a big difference.

The other change is I didn’t berate myself, tell myself that I suck, should be further along or failed. It’s an old pattern and an effort to not listen. I don’t like clichés but the journey, the walk, is the goal not just a number. Not how fast or how far I went.  I am starting to believe in it.

Cows! Police cows, I took this on the way back.



Porkchop was an excellent cat. He was really my son’s cat but after Bear moved to Asia consented to live with me. He was an old cat, I told my cousin he was 15 but when I thought about it, realized he was 20. If he were human he could vote.  EDIT: Porkchop was 16, not 20. I’m just losing it here.

He was sick, he started sitting in the tub during the day then his appetite declined. He stopped eating and I took him to the vet on Friday. He lost weight, had trouble standing and walking and then stopped using the cat box.  

The vet said he was anemic and they would run tests but didn’t sound encouraging. The tests showed he had kidney failure and his body was shutting down. His temperature was so low it didn’t register on the thermometer. I called Bear in Saigon and told him. He took it well but asked if I could bring his kitty home to die. I said I would try. I would go to the vet clinic in the morning and ask. 

Yesterday morning the receptionist ushered me and my cousin, who came for moral support, into an exam room. A vet tech came in and told us he had passed early that morning. I made arrangements to have him cremated, per his boy’s wishes. Later I cleared away his things and cleaned the cat box for the last time. It occurred to me later that Tuesday was the 3rd anniversary of Jerry’s passing and Porkchop passed four days after. I like to think of Jerry hearing his meow and looking down to see Porkchop and asking “When did you get here?”