How do our cats always know when it's Christmas Eve? Two years ago my husband spent most of Christmas Eve at the emergency vet hospital with our younger cat, Tristan, who had split a claw and was hobbling around the house leaving festive little bloody pawprints everywhere. This year on Christmas Eve morning our older cat, Joker, was sick. Since Joker is 20 and sleeps most of the day, it's a little hard to say how we knew he was sick, but trust me when I say he seemed more lethargic than usual. So just as I was planning to be super-efficient and combine a cookie-delivering trip with a stop at the Y to go swimming, I changed plans and headed off with Joker to the emergency vet.
We are so lucky to have this facility relatively close by (two towns north), and it is staffed with friendly, competent people who don't even seem to be pissed that they're working on a holiday. They are also the kind of people who know what to tell you when you call them and say, "My dog just ate a porcupine." Because that happened during the couple hours I spent there, for real. But let me say, you walk through the door, and it's like there is a giant vacuum sucking all the money out of your wallet. By the time we were done, either I'd bought a new car, or I'd gotten medical care for my cat--not clear from the checkbook. Joker spent the night there on an IV to get rehydrated, and although we don't know yet exactly what is wrong with him, something is up judging from his bloodwork, so we'll go to our regular vet tomorrow and get him checked out. Since he's 20, I'm not optimistic about this. I am not as unemotional as I sound--I've had Joker since 1995, so I've lived with him longer than with anyone else in the family--but I'm practicing my game face for the kids.
Here is Joker in super close-up, recuperating on our bed:
Yes, he has crazy whiskers.
Since the vet situation kind of killed my chance at going swimming (although I did manage to get the cookies delivered, and I also brought some back for the vet hospital when I retrieved Joker on Christmas Day, because I am a huge believer in karma, and paying them a second mortgage wasn't enough to assuage my guilt at making them work on Christmas), I decided on the spur of the moment to ride my bike outside when I got home, before our friends came over for Christmas Eve dinner. It was an awesome ride--I went for just over an hour and got home just as the sun was setting. The pending sunset was actually a great motivator to keep my speed up, even though I (shockingly) remembered to put a light on as I headed out the door.
Other than the whole possibly-dying-cat angle, Christmas was great. And in my ongoing effort to keep perspective on such things, I kept reminding myself that if someone in the family had to spend the night at the hospital on Christmas Eve, probably the 20-yr-old cat would be my first choice. And now to top it all off, we're finally getting our first real snow of the year. Today I went back to the Y and got in that swim, which was my longest one ever in my whole life. Mostly because I haven't been swimming for most of my whole life, but whatever.
I'll end with a picture I took last week of the shed at the farm/B&B up the street, where Charlotte goes once a week for an after-school program. The woman who runs the place is wonderful and a ridiculous perfectionist, so when I showed her the picture, she said right away, "Oh, that string at the bottom is falling off."