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I'm an herbalist. And an American. Let's hope one cancels out the other....

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» Bedroom Disasters

THE HORROR! THE HORROR!
I'm sure there will be many tales similar in tone to mine, but this one is, I feel, exceptional in its own shudderingly disgusting way.

If you are a pet owner, you may be familiar with the vile and hellish phrase "anal glands". If you aren't, and you have a strong stomach, feel free to google the phrase.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Got it? The phrase "thick and foul-smelling" keeps coming up, doesn't it? Let me tell you, that's like describing the stench of a three-month rotten egg as "a bit off".

The story begins with me fast asleep in my bed on an uneventful evening. My bed is directly under a window. A strange cat has been roaming the neighborhood for a few days, and apparently he's on the windowsill outdoors. One of our cats has decided this is unacceptable and is beginning to go through the normal cat exercise of yowling and growling at the strange feline. He's chosen to do this next to my head, almost on my pillow, so I groggily wake up to an angry cat lashing his tail into my nose. In my sleepy state, I reach up to gently nudge the cat off the bed.

According to Wikipedia, "[t]he glands can spontaneously empty, especially under times of stress".

Although this is referring to dogs, I have experimental data that strongly suggests the same mechanism exists in felines. Apparently my cat was so absorbed by growling at the rival cat that my sleepy nudge quite startled him. So much, in fact, that he emptied said glands. Everywhere. Everywhere including INTO MY EYES.

Imagine this: You are sound asleep. You are half-aroused by a cat rustling about the bed. You go to give sweet kitty a gentle tap, and suddenly there is a terrible, horrible stench and a dampness on your face, and you are wide awake and screaming, running into the bathroom, believing that your cat's just shat into your eyes. And the truth is almost worse, because although it's not actual shit, the smell is so much worse. Worse than the odor of a thousand catboxes; worse than dog farts; worse than burning tires. And you are frantically washing your face--your entire head, really--and praying that it didn't actually make contact with your eyeballs, and is instead really only *just* in your eyebrows.

If, in the middle of the night, the "good" outcome is "shit in your eyebrows", it has not been an excellent evening.

And during all this my poor boyfriend has woken up to a terrible smell, a screaming woman, a very upset cat, and terribly soiled bed linens. I imagine it wasn't his favorite wake-up, either.

By some impossible grace I escaped any sort of eye infection, which is the only less-than-terrible thing I can say about this experience.
(Sat 25th Jun 2011, 8:10, More)

» Desperate Times

The Best Cat in Christendom
For about a year, I lived in a small one-room apartment alone, with only my dear cat as company.

One terrible, terrible week, I realized that my cupboards were almost totally bare, and I wasn't going to be paid for several days. Bad for me, of course, but even worse for poor Kitty, as we were out of cat food as well.

Now, I have one bad-ass cat. He's a stray that I adopted. He's stared down Irish wolfhounds, broken through window screens to beat on every other cat within miles, survived near-fatal asthma attacks, and plays fetch. He's also a big, rumbly-purring tom that wakes me up every morning by gently licking the tip of my nose, so I am rightfully soft about him, and the idea of having him go hungry was too much to bear.

Right. Off to scrounge the cupboards, then, for the both of us. One inventory later, and the entire contents of the kitchen were laid bare on the dinette:

* Vanilla extract
* Three cans of tinned pumpkin

And that was it. So, I did what I had to: I divided a can of squash into two bowls, set one on the table, one on the floor, and called my dear cat.

He walked up, gave it a sniff, and looked at me. "Sorry, mate", I said apologetically. "That's it for the both of us." With what I can only describe as a feline shrug, kitty dug in and ate it. Three days, and both I and my cast-iron cat ate nothing but canned pumpkin.

I bought him an especially fancy tin of cat food as soon as I got paid, and although we've both had slim times since then, I've been able to keep us in cat food.
(Sun 18th Nov 2007, 5:16, More)

» My most treasured possession

A beautiful aquamarine ring and earring set.
I was graduating from school, and my parents threw a small party for relatives and close friends. After all the gifts had been opened and cake had been eaten, an old family friend, a frail old spinster whom I loved dearly, pulled me to the side.

"I have something for you", she said, and handed me an ancient Kodak film container, so old that it was made of melamine and screwed together. I opened it up, and nestled in a small square of yellow flannel was a beautiful pair of earrings and a matching ring. "I want you to have this", she continued. "When I was your age, I had a sweetheart. He was very special to me, and once, on a trip to Brazil, he brought these home to me." Knowing, as I did, that she'd never married, I waited for her to finish. "He went overseas during World War Two, and...he never came back. I had another friend who had thought that she had lost her sweetheart, so she married another, and after the war, it turned out that her first love had been in a POW camp. I will never forget the look of disappointment on his face when he found out, so I waited, because I wouldn't have been able to bear if my sweetheart had come home to find out I was with another man. He never did come home. But I want you to have these, I never could wear them, but I think they will look lovely on you."

And that is my most treasured possession, those earrings, that ring, and that story. I will wear this jewelry on my wedding day. To this day, I can't believe that I was given something so amazingly precious, and I will never forget that someone loved me enough to share that with me.
(Fri 9th May 2008, 6:40, More)

» Dad stories

The Toad's Wedding
When I was very wee--probably no older than three or four--my parents took me camping on a lovely little lake.

At some point on our very last day there, I managed to catch a toad. It must have been a slow and indolent toad to be snatched by my chubby little fingers, but catch it I did, and I proudly put it into my little plastic sand bucket and promptly named it "Joe".

I happily burbled about that day, putting grass and twigs and a small dish of water into the bucket so that Joe would be happy and safe. I was beside myself with joy. A toad! In a bucket! What more can a toddler ask for?

When it came time for us to end our holiday, my parents informed me that it was time to let Joe go. This was met with crashing despair (at least, as crashing a despair as child still young enough to be amused by Fisher-Price toys can experience). Tears began to well up in my eyes as I contemplated leaving my new amphibious best friend behind.

Enter my father, with a stroke of pure genius. Turning to me (at this point on the verge of blubbering tears), he exclaimed, "But you have to let him go! If you don't, he'll be late to his son's wedding!"

This seemed quite reasonable to three-year-old me, and without further ado I released Joe into the lake, where he is no doubt still recovering from the hangover he earned celebrating his tadpole's nuptials.
(Mon 29th Nov 2010, 0:10, More)

» The nicest thing someone's ever done for me

Saving Teh Fluffeh
I have a large tabby tabby tomcat named Simon. He is currently curled up next to me, purring his rumbly purr and being a happy cat. I've written about His Furness in a couple other QOTW....

Two years ago, I noticed that he was a bit poorly and had been off his food for a couple of days. I took him to the vet with my boyfriend, where I was informed that he was suffering from a rather rare liver disorder that struck very quickly, was very very often fatal, and that there was an almost certain chance that he would die, unless he underwent an EXTREMELY expensive operation, after which he would need to be hand-fed every three hours for several weeks. If I could afford the operation, there was a very good chance he'd make it; if not, I was best off just putting him down, as the chances for survival were rather poor.

At the time, I had NO money, was preparing to move, and had no savings to draw on. As I stood there in shock, wondering how I could possibly cope with the fact that I was going to have to put my cat down due to nothing more than sheer poverty, my incredibly boyfriend simply looked at me and said, "Well, that's settled then. We'll just pay for the operation together."

He paid for more than half of my cat's vet bills, stayed up at night with me when kitty needed round-the-clock care, and then carefully managed his breaks at work so that he could come home to care for him when I wasn't able to get away from work, all because he knew how attached I was to my cat, and because he's also a big soppy that couldn't bear the idea of putting down my big purring cat.

That act pretty much sums up why I think he's absolutely wonderful. Saving the life of one little kitty cat was important enough to him to part with a significant chunk of money and time, and he expected nothing at all in return.

I'm still with both of them today--the cat AND the boyfriend.
(Mon 6th Oct 2008, 2:20, More)
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