Monday, June 27, 2011

Ocean's Move

At last, Ocean found a new home. On the first floor of a low rental unit, it's easily accessible to town for shopping, medical services and is next door to a lovely park.

It took great courage for Ocean to ask her friends for help. She was trusting enough to walk out of the old place and leave the entire job for us. We packed everything, arranged a truck with two helpers, employed a cleaning person to tidy up and then reassemble everything in the new digs. Another kind soul in the community donated the funds necessary to pay the cleaner, the only one to (rightly) receive financial remuneration.

Everything went 'swimmingly' and was complete, even to having the bed made, shower curtain hung and some prepared dinner in the fridge, in five short hours.

I feel honoured to have been a part of such a terrific team effort and am now blessed with Ocean's delight and appreciation.

I only hope I am as brave as she when it comes time for me to relocate.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kiltie Update Umpteen

Further to this, euthanasia will not be necessary even if the good people at Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue (LCAR), Lori and others working to help are unable to find Kiltie a home by June 24th.

Lori, who is a board member, tells me that the LCAR has a no-euthanasia policy. Unless the cat's health warrants it, euthanasia is never considered. Therefore, Kiltie should have as long a life as her little body allows.

Within an hour of arriving home last evening, Kiltie had eaten, re-christened her litter box, checked out her favourite haunts, had some serious cuddles with her original human, and consumed at least one ounce of water. Given Kiltie's size that amount of water is fantastic - the average human, at 150 lbs, is 50 times her weight. Imagine drinking 50 ounces of water in one sitting!

Kiltie had a good night, although she kept trying to get closer to her human. Said human, meanwhile, kept trying to find positions less painful (don't know why I bother) thus disturbing traumatized Kiltie unfortunately.

Kiltie tried to get me up at 3am. No dice. I was too much in pain and too damn COLD, this 14th day of JUNE, 2011 - seven days from the summer solstice.

(When the heck are we going to get SPRING?)

Kiltie - Find the Cat

Anyway, I think Kiltie may be on the mend. She had another decent visit to her water bowl this morning (and since) and ate a full breakfast - I cut down the amount somewhat for fear of her overdoing it. Now Kiltie is in her favourite spot for undisturbed sleep.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Heart Breaks: Kiltie returns, temporarily

Received this email from Lori regarding Kiltie:

Hi Ocean,

I hope this letter finds you well. I know you are preparing to move, and I send my best wishes your way.

I am sorry to have to tell you this, as I never like to cause worry and stress, but Kiltie has had to go back to the vet twice in the past week. She stopped eating and had a fever. Her saliva pocket also filled up. She is terrified of the dogs, even though they leave her alone and do not bother her at all. All of the dogs keep their distance from the cats. But dear, sweet little Kiltie is just not coming around to being comfortable. She does come out of hiding at night, as when I get up she will come to me then. The other senior cat who came at the same time has adjusted well, as she lived with a big dog before coming to us.

The vet gave Kiltie antibiotics to bring her fever down and fluids, as she was dehydrated from not eating/drinking. Things were better for a few days but now she has started to decline again. I love your little girl but it is clear she is not thriving in our home and I fear she will die if she continues to refuse to eat/drink. Also, the vet bills were $400 and this is not something that I can continue to do if she continues to refuse to eat due to stress.

I am a board member at Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue. My opinion is that for Kiltie's sake, the society take on her care and she goes up for adoption in PetSmart, with specific instructions that she is not to go to any home with dogs. This is my suggestion, so that she can enjoy the rest of her life in peace. Do you have another idea? If so, I welcome your suggestions....

Take care,

Have written extensively about Kiltie and the problems of finding properties in this province whose owners allow renters to keep their animal companions.

The residence for low-income seniors I am going to won't allow me to keep Kiltie. Such is the same for ALL low-income seniors homes in this community and throughout most of BC, including facilities subsidized, even run by, BC Housing.

The same is not true for residences run for well-off seniors, but then of course that's always a different story, isn't it? After all, the well-to-do are clean, whether they've animal companions or not, while the majority of poor people are dirty, slovenly, and live in filth, right?


In any event, it seems best to me that Kiltie come back home for the remaining days before I must move, which is the 25th of this month. Lori, Lake Cowichan Rescue and Prevost Vet Clinic will try in the meantime to find Kiltie a suitable, quiet, loving home, one without dogs. If they are unsuccessful, I will have Kiltie euthanized June 24th.

That's the only decision I am left with, isn't it? Because I'm poor.

* This low-income, disabled woman who lives with an animal companion happens to maintain the cleanest unit in the building.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


For this move and the last one, I have needed others to do the move for me.

In 2002, my back wasn't so bad, but I was a few months into what would be a prolonged major breakdown (it lasted until early 2005).

Back then, most of the packing I could and did do myself; and all of the cleaning. Organization I needed help with. My mind was falling apart.

Back then, I had more stuff; hard-cover and paperback books, for example, leftovers from my graduate years. Still, it took the movers only 30 minutes to move me out and into my new place, this little apartment.

Now I have e-books and an e-library. No books to consume box after box, or to haul.

Now, my back limits what I can do; and the pain and the medication for it combine to discombobulate me as much as my breakdown did in 2002.

Some light cleaning and dusting I still insist on doing.

Damn it, I enjoy taking care of my little home! And I hate a dirty - or disorganized or cluttered - place. Therefore, given there's no choice, I'll continue doing light housekeeping until this body refuses my will's determination.

I concede that major cleaning, though, is out. Packing also should be out, given the micro movements involved.

(Would you believe me if I told you that folding laundry is one of the most painful activities for me? No, I didn't think so. But it's true.)

To hell with the back; I will pack two boxes anyway. There are two empty ones sitting right here. They're too tempting to leave alone. They'll therefore be packed ahead of my friends Daphne and Daisy arriving; who, together, have organized the entire move for me.

Let me not forget Peter and one of his buddies either: 'the movers'. Or Pam, who lives in the same building I'm moving to and who will be hosting yours truly while friends Daphne, Daisy and Peter take care of everything else. Or a person whose name I do not know; someone who, I hear from Daphne today, will donate to have this place professionally cleaned - so that not a dime of my deposit is withheld by my current landlord.

I was going to do as much cleaning as possible before my friends arrived on moving day, June 25th. This is despite Daisy having told me that she and Daphne were going to do the cleaning and I was not to do it. Perhaps my friends knew what I would do and that's why the professional cleaning is to be arranged.

Regardless, the news comes as a tremendous relief.

I admit it. I hated the idea of my friends having to clean up after me. Which is why I would have pushed myself beyond endurance. By the end of that week, I'd have been so hunched over and crippled by my activities, it would have taken another week to straighten myself out.

Phantom Kiltie

The phantom limb is a common phenomenon experienced by amputees. Despite a limb or organ having been removed, an amputee's brain will maintain its mapping to that body part and keep sending signals, seemingly from that limb or organ, until the brain learns to unmap it.

I have a phantom Kiltie.

Before Kiltie left, whenever I would lie down to rest or sleep, Kiltie would jump onto the bed, then begin kneading my belly in preparation for her own lay-down. After properly preparing her bed, she'd stretch out along my torso. Back paws would point toward my nether regions; front paws would tuck under her chin and mine.

We'd lay virtually nose to nose. I'd feel Kiltie's breath tickling my face and she would twitch as my breath tickled her whiskers.

Soon, I'd start my seemingly endless shifting, trying to find a position that wasn't painful. Kiltie would eventually move and settle in with her back pressed snugly against my thigh.

We'd always be touching, until morning came or my rest was over.

Now as I doze off, I feel Phantom Kiltie's wee paws kneading my belly. At other times, it's her warm, soothing back against my thigh. When I sit here at the computer, out of the corner of my eye I sometimes see Kiltie peeking at me from behind the drapes, as she sits on the windowsill. Or while I walk across the main room, I'll spot her with her Sparkly in her mouth.

I don't know how long Phantom Kiltie will remain with me. I hope it's awhile.

Kiltie Update

Kiltie has gone. She went to her new home with Lori at 4pm last Friday, May 27th; and she is adjusting well.

When I visited Lori at her office Monday morning to deliver Kiltie's drinking bowl, which I'd forgotten, she told me that whenever she enters "Kiltie's room," my wee girl begins to purr and doesn't stop throughout Lori's visit. She winds and rubs herself through and about Lori's legs and has clearly made Lori her new human. The adoption has therefore gone in both directions, as I'd so fervently hoped.

Lori is very slowly, very gently, introducing Kiltie to the other residents of her new home - one other human and, presently, three male cats and four dogs. The first introduction was to Fable, a 17-year-old cat who has an ultra-calm demeanour.

As expected, Kiltie had a prolonged hissy fit. She just kept hissing and hissing at poor Fable. He observed and heard her; and remained unfazed.

When Lori peeked in some time later, she saw the two cats touching noses.


My heart wilts and I am ecstatic.

Kiltie sorely missed Brodie when he went away six or so months ago. Now she has another furry male companion to ignore, boss around or cuddle up to.

I may be able to visit Kiltie sometime next week. If not then, there'll be other occasions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Two Forever Homes

One forever home belongs to Kiltie; the other to her human.

Two bits of good news...

Last Tuesday afternoon, I'd made a heartbreaking appointment with the vet to arrange euthanizing my beautiful, loveable, 11-year-old companion, Kiltie.

Kiltie had saved my life too many times to count. Just by being there and needing my care, she had prevented my following through on my suicidal thoughts. I owe Kiltie and it breaks my heart to have to live without her or not to be with her to the end of her days.

How will I adjust? I'll no longer have to step carefully, always with the knowledge that a little furry critter might be underfoot. I'll never again go through the loving motions of caring for Kiltie when she is sick or feeding her twice a day. I'll never again have her soft, warm body on my lap as I type at the computer - she's here now.

No low-income seniors housing in this community, or virtually all communities throughout BC, will allow pets. Despite that, given my housing situation here, I had to make the decision I'd put off for so long. Kiltie and I must part, although not by my choice, and we must both be found forever homes.

Friends and I set about trying to find Kiltie a new home. That was top priority before anything else could be done.

There were no bites. I called the no-kill SPCA. They were over-capacity and had 16 cats on the waiting list. I contacted Cowichan Cat Rescue. But their mandate is to save feral cats; Kiltie isn't a feral cat - yet. Finally, I contacted a woman, Lori, who'd been referred to me by another cat rescue group (can't remember which one now). Lori and her husband specifically care, with emphasis on the 'care', for senior cats; they tend to and love them to the end of their natural lives. I'd contacted Lori before, about Brodie. At that time they also were over-capacity.

Lori emailed me last Tuesday evening - from Utah where they are vacationing - to say they would take Kiltie. They arrive back home late this month and will take Kiltie on or before June 1st. I am hoping to visit Lori's place once or twice, with Kiltie, before leaving my companion there permanently.

Second good news... As I was composing my weekly email check-in with the local low-income seniors housing project to which I am hoping to move, I received an email from the manager there. She asked that I contact her ASAP to make an appointment in order to proceed with the second phase of the application process: provision of proof-of-income and completion of the application form. She wrote: "I may have some good news for you!!!"

Am leaving shortly. So very excited! And very sad.

ETA: Accepted! Move-in date July 1st. And it's a one-bedroom! No more living in a single room. First thing I did once I got home was write up my Notice to Vacate. Done. Delivered. Ahhhh.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seniors Housing and Kiltie

Am in the process of applying for local low-income seniors housing and prospects are good that accommodation will be available sooner rather than later. It means that Kiltie and I must part, which breaks my heart; but the situation in this building has so deteriorated that it's no longer just about my needs but hers.

Over the past two years, as old tenants have vacated the premises, new tenants of a rougher sort have moved in. We've had so many police cruisers arriving so many times at all exits of this building over the past 18 months or so that I've lost count. Ambulances too, to deal with overdosed addicts.

There've been numerous violent incidents and I'm fairly certain, due to the high traffic at certain times of the day, that drug dealing is occurring next door. Constantly, doors are opening and slamming shut and loud voices in the hallways. There's total disregard for other tenants.

The couple managing this building seem not to care. In fact, conversations with them suggest they envision this residence - which has several longterm tenants who are seniors, most with health issues - becoming something like their own drug rehab centre. Which in one respect is fine, but their judgement in terms of who qualifies as a reliable, quiet, recovering addict vs. one who is not and/or someone who still deals drugs is severely in question.

The couple also seem to have a division of labour policy. He manages the grounds - and is doing a decent job and appears to enjoy it. She is responsible for the interior.

This building of 31 units is filthy.

To compare... I live in a bachelor apartment. I vacuum once a week. I dust everyday, clean up spills as they occur, and wipe down the floors at least once a week. I live alone and am 60 years old. I have osteoporosis, and chronic back pain, which is worsening.

The resident manager and his wife are middle-aged and able-bodied. This building gets vacuumed once a month, if we're lucky. I can't remember the last time the sticky, dirt-encrusted stairwells were washed. I am loathe to touch the handrails, but to maintain my balance, I must.

I love my bright, open, little bachelor apartment. I hate this building. That wasn't always the case, back when it used to have an excellent reputation.

The noise in this place has not only affected me, it has affected Kiltie. We've both been used to peace and quiet. Now all is in upheaval. The poor little thing no sooner falls asleep than unfamiliar, loud noises wake her up. We're both anxious and not doing well.

Because no low-income seniors housing anywhere in this community allows pets, there's no choice but for us to part.

This has been coming a long time and I've put it off because it was always about me, my health, my stupid back which keeps getting worse, my guilt.

With the help of friends, I am told Kiltie will find a new forever home, one perhaps close and compassionate enough to allow me to visit Kiltie. That's the hope anyway.

My friends have helped push me to this necessary decision, but it's hard. Now it's only a matter of how long it will take to find Kiltie her new forever home and another one for her human.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why Not a Metered Internet?

The headline of the Globe and Mail article asks the question, Why Not a Metered Internet?

The argument that follows defends the big telecoms in terms of market forces: for example, the cost of infrastructure building.

Here's a different answer to the question: with a metered Internet we would have another case of them that haves and them that don't.

We already have a growing economic inequality gap. With Internet metering, we would have an associated inequality gap in terms of fundamental communications access.

An inequality gap already exists with respect to telephony. The lowest income households haven't room in their budgets to acquire that all-important telephone number. They've not a telephone or cell phone or other mobile device to which such a number could be attached. For those households that have a desktop computer with Skype installed, they cannot make full use of the VOIP provider's services or those offered by similar providers. Such services would provide them with an online number (just like a phone number), thus allowing them to receive incoming telephone calls to their computer.

Why can customers in Canada - unlike those in most of the developed world - not obtain online numbers?

Again, a CRTC decision lies at the heart of the matter.

Access to incoming phone calls. Access to the full services the Internet can provide. In both cases, it's about communication with one's friends, family and community; access to one's regional district, provincial or territorial government and services; access to the federal government and services; access to information regarding elections, parties and candidates; access to news and information.... It's about access to democracy.

[Cross-posted at Challenging the Commonplace]

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another Wallop at the Dentist

It leaves me shaking, the bills to maintain my health; even in a province whose Pharmacare is supposed to cover people who live in very low income households; because, of course, Pharmacare doesn't cover DENTAL care. Even people on welfare, I am told, only have tooth extraction covered; no fillings, no maintenance to preserve their teeth. And so welfare recipients' overall health that good dentistry helps maintain further deteriorates and means later costs to Pharmacare.

I am just back from the dental hygienist. Cost: $120.75.

I must go again next week to finish the job because for ten years I'd been unable to visit the dentist at all; not to fix my two chipped teeth and not to keep my teeth in optimum condition to avoid problems later. The bill next week could be as much as $155.50. I left the office teary-eyed.

Thanks to SAFER, my income last August realized a 40 percent boost; from $7,200 to $10,000. That's why I paid a visit to Dr. Tom Roozendahl last November, twice, and then again in December. Those three visits totalled $572.40. By the time everything is done, I'll have spent $848.65.

Guess I've good reason for tearing up. I am still shaking from the shock and, yes, panic.

Am hoping to maintain regular visits to the hygienist in future. However, my income remains fixed at $10,000, plus annual chump change in my CPP payments for cost of living increases. Those won't keep up with the higher increases for food and general household goods or increases to my rent and Internet access payments - I have no phone, neither landline nor cell, and no TV and therefore am wholly dependent on the Internet for all my information and communication needs.

ETA: Budget shocks aside, am thrilled with my unstained bottom teeth. Danielle did a superior job to that of the hygienist I went to ten years ago (when I was at university in Bloomington, Indiana). In other words, she removed even older stains.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Raw Foodie, eh?

So ya may (or may not) wanna know about my eating habits lately... I'm right into a RAW VEGAN DIET which began in July 2009, moving along from vegan to raw vegan. Not such a leap as I thought, initially. The recipes took some getting used to. I shopped at Church Bazaars, garage sales and second hand stores to find 'new' appliances needed in my kitchen. At first, I was gritting my teeth with worry about 'getting it right' in meeting all my nutritional requirements but have found that raw vegan is not much different from vegan, in that regard.

The benefits from this diet are many. I've lost the craving for sweets; have stopped looking for snacks to eat in the evenings; notice an increase in mental clarity; am far less tired during the day; the bloating I was suffering from has disappeared; there has been a slow but steady weight loss and an overall feeling of delightful well-being.

However, I am not eating everything raw. I indulge in the occasional baked potato/yam or I may steam some broccoli. The raw foodies would say I was about '97% raw' (now THAT sounds a little weird!)

I'm saving a wee bit of money, too: on the hydro bill, as the electric stove-top isn't used as often and there are fewer dishes to wash up. Also, the overall grocery bill is lower, as I'm definitely eating less.

Someone asked me if I feel the cold more because none of the food is heated. No, actually, I don't and some of the food IS warmed up. I use a dehydrator when called for and the entrees I make are often warm at time of serving. Like a dish called Canadian Neatsticks... yummy!

I admit this style of eating is not for everyone, but I'm pleased to say it is working for me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Anyone Can Grow Shit Themselves

Well, not quite anyone. If you've not a patch of land or a balcony or suitable space indoors for growing pots (not to mention the required additional equipment), then you're out of luck.

But otherwise, yea, anyone can grow shit themselves, as Ms Broke-Ass Grouch makes so eloquently clear in this fantastic article.

Here's a snippet:

Listen up, locavores, opportunivores, dumpster-diving fermentation fetishists, and Dave Matthews Band fans: A great many of us live by the same ecologically sound principles that you do. We, however, are not doing so because we nurture an abiding desire to "create choices" for ourselves or to "live intentionally." We don't have any more than a passing interest in "sustaining biodiversity." We are known as poor people.

Now go ahead, read the rest.

[Cross-posted at Challenging the Commonplace]