Category Archives: Cancer

Amazon’s safe space

Hadn’t been back to view my Amazon reviews for months. Last review was on a good cat scratcher for Senor Gato. Before that, though, it was September 14, 2015, about the time Mrs. Charms’ cancer treatments were becoming seriously ineffective.

In checking the old ones out before doing a new one of Arkwright, a new Allen Steele scifi goodie, I discover Amazon has a “safe space,” a filter to automatically hide reviews of “sensitive products”—defined as anything erotic or controversial that might mean embarrassment for a reader of the reviews.

Concern for the precious little snowflake generation, in other words, readily noticeable on any college campus near you, has now come to the world’s largest retailer. Ugh.

Adios, Ziggy Street

The city government played along for a while. Then they got serious.

Yesterday they removed the David Bowie street sign that Ziggy Stardust fans had got up in place of Bowie Street, an apparent reference to slave dealer and Alamo icon James Bowie, though the history on the original sign is unclear.

The change was less about slavery than about the rocker who finally fell to earth the other day, dead at 69 from cancer, the great destroyer.

Nice try, Ziggy fans. Keep pushing the formal petition. You never know, what with the slavery angle in a city as politically correct as Austin, you just might succeed. After all, Ziggy already has a whole constellation to himself.


Pumpkin’s illness

Back in the mid-1980s, I was assigned to cover the local AIDS epidemic. I got used to reading, talking and writing about HIV and its impact on people, usually gay men, but sometimes straight men and women. I got to know a few of them well, and went to their funerals.

Thursday, taking our new furry friend Pumpkin/Garfield to the vet for a checkup, I learned that he has Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, the cat version of HIV. It cannot infect humans and is spread between cats primarily by bites. According to Wikipedia, it is estimated to have thus far stricken a mere 4.4 percent of the cats in the world. According to some web sites on cats, Senor Gato has a maximum of five years to live.

While Mr. Boy and I already were working on keeping our new companion indoors, for our sake as well as his own, we now must do it, according to the vet, to keep him from spreading the disease to other cats in the neighborhood.  And for his own protection since a common bacterial or viral infection that a healthy cat might fight off quickly could kill one, like him, with a damaged immune system. His own litter box could kill him if it isn’t kept clean.

Ironic, to be sure. Having recently lost Mrs. Charm to advanced cancer we have now returned to caring for the dying. And, eventually, to grieving the loss of another loved one. It seems to be the way of our world.

Ignacio, you vulture

The vultures are starting to swarm ten weeks after Mrs. Charm’s passing from advanced cancer. Gathering their moldering black wings about them, they peruse the newspaper obituaries looking for grief-befogged suckers.

Their subsequent letters, like a recent one from a fellow Central Texan named Ignacio, start off with the usual meaningless condolences. Then they segue into a promise of quick cash for the house should a survivor decide to sell. At an extremely low-ball offer, no doubt.

Trouble is, Ignacio, you got the address correct to send the letter to but you got the address of the house you’re proposing to buy wrong.

Not sure how you did that. Unless, in addition to being a vulture, you’re also a moron.

A gift of grace

When Mrs. Charm was still with us, in the last few days of her life, a big orange cat started hanging out on the patio outside our bedroom where she was going through what the hospice nurses called “active dying” from her spreading cancer.

The dying had a smell. It reminded me of burnt embers, like a camp fire that was going out. A nurse said she’d never thought of that similarity. I had seen animals attracted to human death before so I wasn’t particularly surprised at the cat’s presence.

But it stayed, spending the next several weeks sleeping away the mornings in a chair on the patio, presumably after a hard night of hunting squirrels. Haven’t seen a squirrel in the Back Forty in a long time, so ginger is a good ‘un.

I started feeding the cat at the suggestion of Mr. Goon, my cat-loving friend in Israel. Dry cat food. Leaving a bowl of water beside it. Then, last week, animal lover that I am not, I finally broke down and invited Mr. Cat into the house.

He (or she, we haven’t determined yet) explored every room. Including Mr. B’s where he was still asleep after a late night of Xboxing. The only thing the cat seemed interested in was Mrs. C’s dressing table. It jumped up on the bench, glanced in the big mirror, turned around and hopped down. I let it out and it wandered off and I forgot about it.

Saturday morning the cat was back, as usual. After a little consideration, I asked Mr. B. what he thought about the idea of encouraging it to stay. He was willing to give it a try. I invited the cat in again. Another exploration ensued but, this time, the cat curled up on the rug in the family room and went to sleep. Mr. B. calls it Garfield ’cause it looks like the cartoon cat

Saturday night I bought a litter box, which seemed to please the cat. Its inspection of the box and its litter prompted a lengthy session of ankle rubbing. Then I took pictures of the cat with the phone and sent them to various people, including Mr. Goon. Obviously not an alley cat, he replied, probably an abandoned house cat. Others were pleased at the idea of us having a new pet after our big loss.

Then Mrs. C’s best friend, who had known her since high school, replied with “Wow, the first thing I said when I saw this pic is ‘Pumpkin!’ [Mrs. C.] had a cat like this one long ago.”

I asked Mr. Cat if his name was Pumpkin. Of course I did. He glanced at me. When I asked again, he meowed. I’ll take that for something close to affirmation. I thanked him for coming. And, hopefully, staying.

He’s a hunter, so I expect him (or her) to stay out nights. But, these days, I’m usually up at dawn, anyway, so I’ll be able to let him back in where he can sleep it off in comfort and security. And keep us happier than we’ve been in a while, with our new gift of grace.

Penny from heaven

A good friend of Mrs. Charm, hitting a bar for a stiff one after Mrs. C’s memorial gathering the other night, says she saw a streak of light and a shiny, new 2015 penny at her table that wasn’t there before.

It fits with these older sayings and, even a book, none of which negate her experience. They rather enhance it, to my mind. But then she and I are both believers in the soul, whatever the atheist materialists of modern science say.

Which helps, I suppose. As do these popular offerings.

Our new tabby

Came home from fiddle lesson to find a big orange and white tabby cat asleep on one of the patio chairs. I seem to remember seeing him (her?) lurking around the back forty the last few days.

When I saw him (her?) in the chair, my first, irreverent thought was: Debra, you came back as a cat? I seem to be getting over the shock of losing her. Though not the fact of it.

UPDATE:  Like Garfield, Mr. B. said. Like that, yes.