Meeting neighbors at 2:30 am

I went out for a walk at 2:30 am last night… well, my last night, everybody else’s “this morning.” I finally hit a point of cabin fever where I just had to get out of the house. I decided to walk to Tim Horton’s, buy a tea and do some writing.

As I walked down the nearly empty street I noticed a bearded fellow walking toward me. He presented the body language of someone who was about to talk to me so I took my ear buds out.

Yes, I walk the dark streets at 2:30 in the morning with my ear buds in. I’m 6’ tall, 350 lbs, with a shaved head and a beard. The only people likely to approach me would be either friendly or in need of help. I’m not usually afraid of being mugged. Not in Canada, anyway.

The guy approaches and asks if I live in the Katriina. I recognize him as someone I saw entering my building the other day and realize he’s a fellow resident of the building.

He introduces himself as Jeremy and we get to chatting. Turns out he’s switching over from night shift to day shift and having a bit of trouble getting to sleep. I explain I’ve been unemployed for a number of months and have fallen into the bad habit of simply not going to bed until I’m too tired to stay awake.

We get to talking about the building. Apparently I’m “that guy with the bike.” Which is interesting because it’s the first time I’ve been identified by a group of strangers as something other than “that big guy with the beard.” I’m not surprised, though. I’ve been riding my bike to work (when I worked) every morning for the past couple of summers. Someone who fires up a bike like mine every weekday at 7:30am is going to be remembered by the residents. I’m sure at least a few of them are quite relieved I’m not working right now. They’d be even more relieved if they knew how often I’ve resisted the urge to go for a ride at 3 in the morning.

Jeremy went on to tell me his girlfriend is on the condo board and they’re pushing for “a garden” which explains why there’s some doomed flowers and bushes planted in the dry and biologically sterile dirt in front of my windows. A few are already dying. Jeremy admits that it’s about the worst dirt you can work with. He also commented that, since he’s the only one on the committee without expensive nails he’s well aware who’ll be doing most of the work. He added he plans on bringing in some sand to add to the soil. I hope that’s true. Maybe the combination of pants and a sand topping will keep small birds from using the spot in front of my windows as a dust bath. They kick tons of dirt into my windows.

We talked about jobs. He got some of my specifics and said he’d keep an eye out. He works for an engineering firm made up of an Australian parent company that bought out a whole bunch of smaller companies a few years ago. He didn’t get my hopes up, though, when he talked about his girlfriend’s company advertising for summer student positions and having people with MBAs apply.

My only hope is if students going back to school in September leave some openings for me.

We shared some stories of our cats… he and his girlfriend went to a rescue and picked up a couple of kittens. They were only going to adopt one but one of its siblings clung to him and tried to climb up him to be with its litter-mate, so they chose to adopt both. We talked about possible sleep remedies. We talked about the homeless people that make the area between our building and the neighboring house into a camp site.

Then we parted ways and I found out that the Tim Horton’s near to me isn’t open 24 hours like I’d thought. Still, it was nice to meet a building neighbor. At 3 in the morning.


So sometime last month we ran low on medication for Carmen. We’ve been dosing her for a while now, compensating for some kidney failure she experienced, the very same affliction that killed Gargoyle. We’ve been giving her medication every day and injecting fluids under her skin every second day to keep her hydrated.

Carmen does her best to ignore the world

"Buzz off, I'm sleeping."

We called the vet for a refill on the medication but they wanted to do a blood test on her first. Primarily as a check up to see how she was doing, but secondarily to see if she still needs ongoing treatment. The bad news is she does. The blood and urine tests combined with the medication was about $380. The worse news, though, was that she had some pretty bad teeth that needed immediate attention.

Luckily for us the vet was offering 20% off on dental work for the month of March. Unluckily for Carmen she wound up losing four infected teeth. Worse for us, despite the discount we still wound up paying $800 for her dental work.

The whole thing was pretty rough on Carmen. She doesn’t do well with travel at the best of times, and the clinic is always the worst place for her. We dropped her off a week ago Monday, in the morning, and picked her up in the evening after her surgery was done. For the first time in her entire life she was utterly silent. She didn’t utter a peep for over 24 hours after we got her home. Worse, she found a cubbyhole in the paneling behind the fish tanks to hide in. If she hadn’t been overcome by hunger we might never have coaxed her out. We’ve since sealed the hole, and she eventually found her voice, but for two whole days she skittered around the house like an ex-con in a room full of dropped soap. The slightest movement or whisper would have her bolting for cover.

Fair is fair, though, the vet did a good job and she has made excellent recovery. She’s definitely found her voice again.

But it can never be simple, can it?

Calli pauses in mid clean

"Wait... what was I doing again?

On Saturday Calli started throwing up. Not entirely unusual for any cat, but Calli doesn’t normally throw up much. Then, when I came home from grocery shopping in the late afternoon she was in the living room retching HARD, pushing with all her might, hunkered down in the middle of a vast pool of water and bile. She’d been binging on water and vomiting it up, it seemed. Took a dozen paper towels to soak up the mess.

Our regular vet was closed so Ronya took her to the emergency vet hospital off of Deerfoot and Glenmore. They took some blood and urine samples, promising to fax the results to our Vet. They sent Calli home with some anti-vomit medicine, some more sub-cutaneous fluids to prevent severe dehydration, and some easy-to-digest wet food. Calli wasn’t at all interested in the food but the drugs did seem to keep settle her stomach for the time being. On Monday we took her in with Carmen since Carmen was scheduled for a follow-up anyway.

The vet suggested a variety of scenarios for Calli, but after examining the test results the most likely culprit was blockage in the bowels. She probably swallowed something that’s too big to pass. I’m not surprised, Calli will chew on damn near anything. I’ve had to lock my earplugs away and we keep confiscating twist ties from her. We have no idea where she gets them, either. We don’t even use the damned things.

The vet suggested an X ray to look for potential blockage. The barium goes in, passes through, and if it doesn’t pass through all the way then there’s strong evidence of blockage. We agreed figuring the $300 plus dollar for the X ray were worth knowing for sure what was wrong.

The vet called us back a few of hours later. The barium wouldn’t stay down, she just kept throwing it up. They Xrayed her with what she did have and caught evidence of a potential blockage very high up in her bowels, very close to the stomach. He strongly suggested surgery. I asked how much it would cost. About $1200 was the answer.

Ronya and I discussed it and decided to go ahead. We’d be deeper in debt but it would be worth it if Calli could be given a chance for full recovery.

When I went to sign the papers, though, the full estimate worked out to be nearly $2000.


We’ll find out tonight how the surgery went.

Sick, therefore an update

Typical. Third day of my new job and I wind up sick. I’ve got a head cold and sore throat. I’m hoping it doesn’t turn into the full bronchitis that Dianne has. I really don’t need that.

I am making use of this day, though. I’m not totally incapacitated so I can still get some stuff done. Like a fingerprint check.

The company handed me a massive wad of documents to fill out yesterday. I got a few of them filled in last night before bed but when I became so tired it was almost impossible to see straight I opted to finish them later. “Later” turned out to be 3am when I was up and scrounging for medication, swilling buckley’s as a preventative measure. (Open bottle, swig from bottle, swish around mouth a bit, swallow, then breathe in deeply through the mouth. If nothing else it’ll stun you lungs into compliance for a few minutes.) Since I couldn’t sleep anyway I figured I might as well fill in whatever I could. Man there’s a lot of paperwork when you start a new job.

This afternoon I’ll be heading downtown to get a fingerprint check from the police. I had this done two years ago when I was a security guard but I somehow doubt they’ll accept the old check.

So, yeah, unless my absence due to this cold has them changing their mind I’ll be working for Purolator Courier. So far I’m just doing ride-alongs and helping out whichever driver I’m with. And, so far, the hardest part of the job hasn’t been all the moving around and lifting (which is tough enough on this aging former office worker) but rather the fold down chair the cube vans have. Those are decidedly NOT comfortable. Imagine sitting on one of our high kitchen chairs for nine hours. At least I have frequent opportunities to get up and stretch the legs.

But I’m really hoping this will work out, which is in itself notable. It’s been a long time since I’ve had any kind of real enthusiasm for a job. The position has much of what I’m looking for. Eventually, should I get my own route, I’ll be working alone (which I prefer) but not spending the entire day alone (which I do not prefer). I’ll meet numerous people with whom I’ll gain some passing familiarity (which the social side of me likes) but will not be working with any one of them day in and day out for the entire year (which the solitary side of me likes). I’ll have something of a routine in that there will be regular route of drop offs and pick ups (which is reassuring to my innate fear of too much change at once) but with enough incidental and seemingly random pickups to keep it from getting too routine and boring (which the thinking / analytical part of me likes). It’s physically active, but not necessarily physically challenging. I’m already fit enough to do the job, and working it constantly will get me physically fit enough to do it quickly.

I’d be in constant contact with management via the scanner / pager device they use, which is good for support and feedback, but I’ll also be entirely out on my own without management watching over my shoulder. I’ll have demands made of me but the ultimate decision as to whether or not those demands can be met will still rest with me.

And there’s a good chance they’ll help me get my class 1 license somewhere down the road.

Right now I’ll be earning a little less than what I was making at my previous job, but after the four month / 60 day probationary period I’ll end up earning more than I used to. Then it just goes up from there.

Anyway, like I said, I’m just really hoping this works out.

In other news, we’ve got a new cat.

Connie’s grandmother, who some of you know passed away just a little while ago, had a cat named Cali. Apparently nobody else in the family could take her in, so we volunteered to take her. She’s insanely affectionate, to the point of nearly assaulting you with head rubs, and apparently different enough to scare both of our other cats into avoiding the basement… where the kitty litter is. *sigh*

So far I’ve had one pee incident and one big, big pile of poo obviously stored up for more than a day. But since Carmen and Gargoyle have been going outside from time to time, I think they’ve been taking advantage of the Big Outdoors.

There really isn’t anything I can do to get them used to each other. It’s just going to take time. At least Cali has the curiosity of a young cat (she’s only 4) and so has been gradually exploring the full house. The other two are just going to have to eventually suck it up and get used to her being here.

Unfortunately it looks like Cali has had very little discipline. She appears to be a plant eater and I also have to keep shoo-ing her off of the kitchen counter and other “off-limits” areas. And as much as I disapprove of the practice of de-clawing I’m still grateful that she can’t claw up the furniture.

More life updates as time permits.