Tag Archives: Pets

Because Zeke isn’t here, this task now falls to me


That’s machine oil all over the two-week old kitten’s body.

He was so cold when I touched it that I thought “dead for an hour at least.” And then I picked him up and he yelled at me.

I figure his mother, a feral, couldn’t pick him up what with the oil on him. Must have tasted evil.

There was another, healthier, bigger kitten right there, who’d apparently fallen out of a shelf the (not very sensible) mother had put him in, and I grabbed him her. “Your brother needs a heating pad, and you’re the lucky winner.”

Three baths, and some homemade kitten glop, and a session with the blowdryer, and a couple of ruined towels later, they’re snoozing on a low heating pad.


(This, incidentally, is not a good idea for newborns: they can’t move around, and they get burned, and don’t try this at home. These guys are able to roll, and the healthier one is actually tottering around unpredictably. Besides, it’s a high-tech heating pad I bought to sleep on when my back goes out, and it’d be hard to burn yourself on it if you tried. Still, as soon as the little guy was warm, into the box they went.)

More photos here.

On topics other than kitten rescue: I’ll be living in Nipton from July through September, looks like, in an artist’s residence type house, a fifteen-minute drive from my campsite at Cima Dome.


A dead squirrel, unmarked by obvious injury, lies in the street. I pull up to the curb. A turkey vulture, shy and dark, looks up at me. It had been gauging the edibility of the squirrel. It preferred to dine unobserved. I gave it a moment or two to collect itself.

It retreated to my neighbor’s roof.

The vet had asked me to call in 45 minutes. It had taken me 40 minutes to drive home. The rabbit stopped eating again this morning. He was shivering and pallid, and bore an expression that unnerved me — as though he was contemplating a nearby entrance to a warren in the Elysian Fields. “And then I saw this long, dark tunnel, and a soothing rabbity voice saying ‘come away from the light, little one!’”

I took him and his thousand-yard stare to the hospital, dropped him off so the vets could puzzle over him.

The vulture was unsettled. My exiting the truck prompted a skittering across the roof. I ran inside, grabbed the camera and the long lens. I managed just three shots, then the bird got skittish and flew to the eucalyptus down the street.

They are such shy beasts, for all their morbid associations, their cadaverous affect. People call them scavengers with lip curled in disdain, disgust. A truly noble carnivore kills its meals, they imply, and then having dismissed the vulture they wander off to the supermarket, to bring home slabs of flesh that have been dead for weeks.

I find them appealing, skilled practitioners of an estimable trade. They bear the proud lines of their cousins the condors, the teratorns, though on a much smaller scale: the ponies of the buzzard world.

The squirrel fell from the overhead wires, I decide. Only twenty feet up, but the pavement is hard. I wonder if it was one I’ve been feeding. I cannot tell the locals apart by sight. I look up at a passing shadow. The vulture makes lazy arcs on a thermal, gaining altitude without apparent effort.

Springs come up in the middle of our street, buckled pavement and puddles where the rest of the asphalt is dry. They streams flow beneath the surface, carve out channels in our soft bedrock. A month ago one of them undercut the water main at the corner, and when the pipe burst the pavement rose eight inches from the pressure.

That soft bedrock is laced with limestone, and the plants in the garden are rich in calcium. That’s the theory. The rabbit has been slowly filling his bladder with stucco. It showed on the x-ray as though he had swallowed a river rock. Subcutaneous lactated Ringers, one tenth liter a day for the next few days, may well flush out that rabbit limestone. It will at the very least give him all the more reason to hate us. It is another variable in the decision looming as to his eventual home. I had wondered if parting from the garden might sadden him more than parting from me. Turns out that may be beside the point. He sloshes in his cage, isotonic solution in a reservoir beneath his skin, and he is eating again.

How was YOUR day?

This is one of those diary blog posts.

I didn’t exactly expect to have a good day, given what it commemorates. It started off worse than I’d expected. I was awakened by a rabbit asking for a ride to the emergency vet. Breathing hard, shaking, refusing to eat, ears cold to the touch, and that was just me. Thistle was even worse. We’d been through this before, so the sock full of rice as a bunny hot water bottle was constructed and microwaved in an efficient hurry and it was off to the vet.

Rabbits drop dead astonishingly quickly from not eating and having low temperatures. Today of all days. I steeled myself to kick Coyote’s ass for perpetrating the Meanest Joke Ever.

But the crisis proved elusive. The vet sent us back with bunny medicine to be placed in a bunny eyedropper and squirted into the bunny mouth. There were, typically, no supplies provided to treat the inevitable bunny lacerations and bunny gougings.

I had exactly enough time to sit out back for a few minutes at noon, and then it was off again to accept an astonishingly generous contribution by the Harrington family toward the completion of the Joshua tree book.*  There’s a word for a mixture of humility and elation, but damned if I can remember what it is.

Thistle seems better, having weathered two hours of solitude without permanent results, but I spent the rest of the evening about to jump out of my skin with fretting nonetheless.

You know? I hate pets.

But I’m counting his recovery in the “win” column, so it was a good day.

* (Additional generosity was provided by Becky, who drove 100 miles round trip to deliver me to the donation, despite driving being her least favorite thing to do. Thank you, Becky.)


I dreamed last night that I was in my old truck, out in the saguaros south of Burro Creek. The dog was with me, talking to me from the passenger seat of his hatred for deserts. “Turn left,” he said. “There are forests higher on the Rim.” I did not turn except to follow the turning of the road.

The road clung to the precipice for a mile and then descended. We pulled over to the edge. A mile below us the desert was burning. Smoke rose to us; the cloying scent of Joshua trees ablaze, charred earth and flesh attenuated on the rising air. For a hundred miles to the south there was nothing but fire, and towering plumes, and a sky burnt hell-orange. Phoenix was out there burning, and Tucson, and I watched Baboquivari melt on the horizon.

I turned to Zeke, alarmed for him, but he was already ablaze. Bright torrid flames sprouted from him like fur. His eyes undimmed he watched me, calm but curious, concerned, and then he fell to ash before me. “There are forests higher on the Rim,” he said again, and then the wind dispersed him.

Mail from Beth: a play in one act

sumac from beth

Chris: Ah. Mail’s here.

(Chris exits)

(Chris enters)

Chris: Wow! Something from Beth! What could it be? It’s an odd-shaped package. So thin.

Thistle: It’s mine.

Chris: Hush.

(Chris opens package)

Thistle: What did she send me?

Chris: She didn’t send you anything. She sent me a leaf.

Thistle: She sent YOU a leaf? Yeah, right. Give it to me.

Chris: It’s

Thistle: Give it to me NOW.

Chris: It’s a sumac leaf. It’s not good for you.

Thistle: I want it.

Chris: See?

(Thistle sniffs the leaf.)

Thistle: Ew.

Chris: I told you.

Thistle: That’s a bad leaf.

Chris: It’s related to poison oak, and it’s probably

Thistle:  I hate that leaf.

Chris: Ah, there’s something else in here, in some manila paper.

(Chris pulls the manila paper out of the package. A red oak leaf falls out of the paper, fluttering to the carpet.)

Thistle: GROWR!

(Thistle leaps on oak leaf, begins eating it.)

Chris: Hey!

(Chris reaches down, takes leaf away from Thistle.)

Thistle: Hey!

Chris: Aw, it’s a red oak! I haven’t seen one of these in

Thistle: Give that back now.

Chris: It’s not even for you, and I just want to look

Thistle: It’s mine. I’m not finished eating it.

Chris: Simmer down, bun-bun.

Thistle: GIVE. IT. BACK. NOW.

Chris: Ha. Poor bun-bun.

Thistle: No, seriously, listen. GIVE ME BACK MY LEAF.

Chris: Stop it.

Thistle: Give it back or I’ll fucking cut you, man.

Chris: No you won’t.

Thistle: I have a knife.

Chris: You do not.

Thistle: I have a knife, and I’ll stab you in the eye if you don’t give me back my goddamn leaf.

Chris: You don’t have a knife.

Thistle: I meant to say gun. I have a gun. It looks like a knife.

Chris: Yeah, right. Go eat some kibble.

Thistle: Look. I asked nicely. Now give me my fucking leaf.

(Thistle pulls out knifegun)

Chris: Hey! Put that away!

(Thistle aims knifegun at Chris’ eye)

Thistle:  The leaf. If you don’t mind.

Chris: Um, OK. Here.

(Chris hands Thistle the oak leaf.)

Thistle: About fucking time, man.

(Thistle eats the leaf.)

Chris: You’re really pushing your luck, bunny rabbit. You forget that I can

Thistle: Shut up and give me the other leaf.

Chris: You don’t want it.

(Thistle pulls out the knifegun again.)

Chris: Sigh.

(Chris offers Thistle the sumac leaf.)

Thistle: Ew! That’s disgusting! What are you trying to do to me?

Chris: Whatever.

Thistle: Give me the manila paper. I want it.

Chris: Fine.

(Chris hands the manila paper to Thistle.)

Thistle: I HATE this paper!

(Thistle tears the manila paper to shreds, angrily, and with loud growling noises.)


(This play is a faithful portrayal of actual events. All dialogue is verbatim and everything here actually happened exactly this way, and only a couple things were embellished very slightly.)

Hang in there, Coalie.

Coalie, with his personal assistant

CRN stalwart Charles has asked for us to send good thoughts to his pup Coalie:

… our beautiful shepherd dog Coalie was just this afternoon diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Apparently it’s basically always terminal in dogs.  So whatever positives you can send our way we would really appreciate.

What a good looking dog. (The person leaning on him’s no slouch either, actually.)

Keep us posted, Charles. You hang in there too.

In today’s mail

… A reminder from the Treasurer, County of Contra Costa that dog license L04-043576, Zeke A156359, Neutered Male, DOB 02/12/1990, Brown Germ Shepherd Mix [all sic] expires next week along with said pet’s rabies vaccination. I can avoid paying for a new tag ($55 for three years!) by the simple expedient of returning the invoice with a mark in the checkbox labeled “Pet is Deceased or Given Away.”

More from Farland

My friend Farland (yes, this Farland, the one who introduced me to the majestic Arkos, and introduced the planet to the majestic Siona) takes some of the most amazing photos.

She sent me another one this morning, sublime and sad and stunning, and graciously consented to my publishing it here.

Photo below the fold out of kindness for those of you who are sensitive today. Which is me about every other day these days.

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