Baby Charley by the woodstove | Jane Boursaw Photo
Baby Charley by the woodstove | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(The continuing adventures of the little black cat that Tim sent me the day after he passed. Read all about her shenanigans here. -jb)

As mentioned in my last Charley column, I was steeling myself to take her in for her annual checkup at Oakwood Veterinary Hospital. I hoped that a different cat carrier might help with any emotional memories we had from last year’s vet visits (read about those here, here and here). More on that later.

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Charley had a good appointment and has gained about a pound, putting her at 8.8 pounds. Dr. Mason said anything under 10 pounds is a good goal for her. He checked her over, trimmed her nails (and showed me how to do it myself), and gave her two vaccines: Rabies (yearly) and FVRCP (every three years).

The FVRCP protects her from three highly contagious and life-threatening feline diseases: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus, and Feline Panleukopenia. Although she continues to be an indoor-only cat – and shows no interest in going outside – I’m glad to have her get those vaccines on the off chance that she gets outside.

Unfortunately, she tested positive for roundworm – again! She had this last year, was treated for it, and tested negative after the treatment. It’s no surprise why she had it last year – she’d spent the first nine months of her life fending for herself out by the lighthouse. But I’m not sure how she got it again. As far as I know, there are no mice in the house, and I haven’t seen any half-eaten carcasses around anywhere. At any rate, Dr. Mason gave me one treatment, which I gave her (an ointment you put on her skin between her shoulders), and we’ll test her again in April.

He also said that indoor cats tend to live longer than outdoor cats, and that Charley could live up to 18 to 20 years. That makes me happy.

So all of that went well, but as anticipated, getting her there and back was traumatizing for both of us. My idea to use a different cat carrier failed miserably. I had left it out for a few weeks so she’d get used to it. But on the morning of her vet visit when I went to put her in there, she knew immediately what was happening and struggled to get away while I attempted to ZIP UP the top of the carrier (major design flaw for anxious cats).

Charley checking out her new little carrier | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley checking out her new little carrier | Jane Boursaw Photo

So of course, she escaped upstairs and my son Will and I searched the house doing our best Keystone Cops impression, trying to find her as the clock ticked down to her appointment. She wasn’t in her usual hiding spots – under the dresser, under the bookshelf, or in the corner of the laundry room. Will finally spotted her under my bed, only she wasn’t on the floor. She had clawed the mesh off the bottom of my box spring and CREATED HER OWN HIDING SPOT. We looked under there and could see her little body in a mesh hammock she’d built for herself.

So we took the mattress off, flipped the box spring up, and thankfully, I was able to catch her as she tried to flee the room. You know those old comedy bits with two people trying to pass each other in a doorway but they keep getting in each others’ way? It was like that.

I dropped her into her old hard-shell carrier and flipped the top down, which immediately locked itself. *That’s the design for anxious cats! But oh boy, she was not happy about any of it and told me so.

Baby Charley goes to the vet | Jane Boursaw Photo
Baby Charley goes to the vet | Jane Boursaw Photo
Baby Charley goes to the vet | Jane Boursaw Photo
Baby Charley goes to the vet | Jane Boursaw Photo

On the other hand, after her vet visit, she was VERY happy to get back into her carrier to come home. At home, she disappeared for a little while, but reappeared when she heard me fussing with the fire and came over to collapse into my lap as per usual.

Baby Charley iin Jane's lap by the woodstove | Jane Boursaw Photo
Baby Charley iin Jane’s lap by the woodstove | Jane Boursaw Photo

Here she is getting her nails trimmed. Also, the doc showed me some sort of feel-good pheromone spray, so I’ll pick some of that up for next year’s visit and see if it helps calm her nerves. Do they make this for humans?

Charley gets her nails trimmed at the vet; Feliway Classic for anxious cats | Jane Boursaw Photo
Charley gets her nails trimmed at the vet; Feliway Classic for anxious cats | Jane Boursaw Photo

As for me, January continued to be a challenging month emotionally (Tim passed a year ago on January 5), but I’m getting through it. Being a goals-oriented person my whole life (you have to be if you’re self-employed), I always feel like I should be super productive. But over the past month, there have been days when all I can do is sit in my chair and stare at the fire. When you’re grieving, I know that staring into the fire is being productive in its own way. Still, my brain is always in overdrive when it comes to things I feel like I *should be doing.

My friend and longtime yoga teacher, Sally Van Vleck, gave me a book that’s helping me to embrace this “down time.” Our American culture is all about the hustle of staying busy and productive, but that’s not always the best way forward, especially when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, the loss of the life you imagined you’d have going forward. The book is called Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, by Katherine May.

From Amazon: “Ultimately, Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear.” Boy, do I understand that.

Part of my own “wintering” lies in my woodstove and the woodpiles outside my back door. Tim and I have heated with wood in most of the houses where we’ve lived over the past 42 years, and I find solace in continuing that tradition. There’s something very earthy and primal about heating with wood, and I love the whole process – cutting the wood, hauling the wood, stacking the wood into tidy woodpiles, bringing it inside to throw into the woodstove and heat the house. Charley loves it, too, and is usually camped out there for most of the day.

Charley by the woodstove | Jane Boursaw Photo
Baby Charley by the woodstove | Jane Boursaw Photo

I think I have enough wood here by the house to get me through the winter, and there’s another big pile down by the driveway that should get me through next winter. Tim cut, hauled and stacked all of it in the years before he passed. It came from various places around the Old Mission Peninsula, including Shipman Road on the west side and Mission Road near the Dougherty House. It’s almost like he knew he’d have to stock enough to keep me warm for a few winters.

I’ve got three stacks of wood on the deck just outside the back door, and another four stacks on the ground just off the deck. Last week, I re-stacked one of the back-door piles with one of the ground piles, and the physical and emotional aspect of moving that pile cheered me greatly.

Here’s a little video… I made this video a few days ago when we had fresh snow. Last night it rained and took some of the snow with it. Sigh…

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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