Sunday, October 30, 2005

My Sweet Remington Steele

With all the Bond posts I've put up, you probably think this is about one of Pierce Brosnan's early starring roles. Nope. From 1999 to 2003, I had a gorgeous Russian Blue cat who was dubbed "Remington Steele" by the folks at North Shore Animal League, where we found each other. You see, his fur was a beautiful gray/blue/steel color, hence the name. And it suited him, so I kept it.

He wasn't the first kitty I looked at when I went to adopt. My beautiful Tuxedo, Frisco, had passed away around Christmas 1998, so a few months later, I decided that my Murphy Brown, a Calico with attitude, and I, needed a third roommate. My friend, Deb, came with me to peruse the available kitties at North Shore.

Most kittens were only adoptable in pairs, which makes sense, but not when you're adding to a household that already contains a seven-year-old cat. I kept looking, but didn't see any possibilities, until Deb dragged me over to one of the bottom cages and said, "Look at him."

There he was, Remington Steele, a slightly older, mature cat, with intelligent eyes and an old soul. Little did I know how old his soul was; the folks at North Shore pegged his age at six -- my vet looked at some details of his eyes the next day and said he was more like nine. Whatever. He was mine.

Remington eventually won over Murphy Brown, and we were a happy household for most of the time. He had been very well taken care of -- my vet said it was obvious that he'd had some dental procedures, and his front paws were declawed. I suspect he belonged to an elderly person who either passed away, or accidentally let him out. The North Shore people said he was found, half starved, in a garbage can somewhere (they can't tell you where), so I don't think his homelessness was anything more than accidental.

Remington was pure love. He quickly regained the weight he had lost (and, sadly, a little more than he should have, I guess) under my benevolent care. He and Murph came to love one another. And it was Remington who told me that Murphy had passed away, early one October morning in 2000. It was a Saturday, and I was attempting to sleep in, but Remington kept running in and out of the bedroom. After some time, I realized he was troubled about something. I found Murphy behind the living room recliner. She'd passed away during the night. All I could think was that I was so happy that when I'd arrived home before that, and was sitting down to take off my shoes, I petted them both simultaneously, not one at a time, as I normally did. So her last memories of me were loving ones. (A minor point, but it seemed significant then and now.)

As I said, this happened in October 2000. I did want to get another furry companion for Remy and myself, but wasn't going to rush into anything. As it turned out, that was a good thing. My grandfather passed away in April 2001, and two months later, Remy was diagnosed as diabetic.

Not only did I have to deal with the trauma of losing my grandfather, who was more of a father figure to me, but I then had to learn how to live with a diabetic cat. It wasn't easy. After a few months of taking the easy way out with pills, my vet, Dr. Luger, informed me that I HAD to give him insulin injections. "I can't!" I cried. "You HAVE to," said Dr. Luger, and I dutifully went to injection school.

With this type of diabetes, you have to give injections once every 12 hours. You have an hour-and-a-half window in front of and in back of this 12 hour time, which helps, but I was basically a prisoner of insulin for two years. When I went away on business, my employer would pay for his medical boarding, at about $45/night. I couldn't do that very often, so my time away from Remy was infrequent. I would spend a rare weekend away, but that was it. We lived like this for nearly two years.

His last Thanksgiving weekend (2002) was spent at the vet's. With the exception of Thanksgiving Day, I spent much of the remaining weekend at his side, at the cat hospital, having thoughtfully brought bagels and other breakfast treats to the hospital staff daily. He pulled through this crisis, but I then had to learn how to give him a daily IV drip with added potassium. He was a trouper. Not to blow my own horn, but so was I. I loved him so much that I did whatever was necessary to keep him alive (though I did remind the vet that I would not do it past the time it became painful or uncomfortable for Remy -- my need for Remy was secondary to his suffering).

We entered the next year with hope, as he had gotten through the crisis at Thanksgiving. I then had to go to a business convention in New Orleans in mid-March 2003. Remy was boarded at the vet's. The morning of the last day of the convention, Dr. Luger called me and said that Remy wasn't doing well. I said to do whatever's necessary, and I'd be home earlier than scheduled. I also would be calling in via cell phone. Then, I informed my bosses that I would not be at the convention that day, as I had to wait to hear about Remy's condition, but I would meet them later for a scheduled business dinner.

Remy pulled through, but that was nearly it. On the evening of March 25, I noticed a strange growth under his chin. I consulted with some friends who had had diabetic cats, and they cautioned me about that. Looking at him closely, I could tell it wasn't good. I decided to spend one last night with my boy, and then have him humanely put down, in my presence. I spent the night calling him into the bedroom -- and he would come bounding in whenever he heard my call. I think he was trying to spare me. I spent most of the night awake, holding and loving him. At one point, around 6am or so, I heard our neighbors, Geri and Jim, who also loved Remy, leaving their apartment for work. I came out to the hallway, told them what was happening, and let them have one last cuddle with Remy. I think that was a good thing for all of us. Then, I took Remy to our vet.

Dr. Tuzio, who is Dr. Luger's second in command, and a fantastic veterinarian, was the one to put him down. I teased the vet techs, who I'd come to know very well during Remy's illness, that the one assisting would be the one who lost the coin toss, but it ended up being Kelly, who had been so helpful and compassionate -- as were all the staff -- throughout. Remy "went to sleep" hearing me tell him how much he was loved, in my arms, with me not even caring when his bladder released on me. Remy was at peace, and that was all that mattered

Kelly told me that, even though it was much too early to even consider it, the director of Animal Haven had literally just rescued a litter of newborn kittens, and perhaps I might want a couple of them. I told her I'd get back to her in a couple of days, but that right now, all I wanted to do was go home and get drunk. She understood, and told me that I would not have to jump through any hoops for these kittens, that the hospital would vouch for my character and whatever else is needed for cat mothering! I slunk out of there, determined to kill many brain cells. And, oh, did I ever. In fact, I don't even remember the number of times I called my Aunt Patricia, babbling on and on. Plus, it was my Uncle Neil's birthday, and I'm sure my repeated, barely coherent, phone calls made it that much better. (Sorry, Neil!)

Well. I got through Remy's passing with the promise of two kittens joining me in less that two months. It seemed like forever. I barely slept, as this was my first cat-less sleeping time in years. But May 16, 2003 brought new joy to my life. However, that's ANOTHER entry!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hurricanes, Global Warming and Leonardo DiCaprio

This has been the busiest Atlantic hurricane season since the 1930s (I think the precise year is 1933). Yesterday's "Oprah" focused on global warming. Her guests, actor/environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio and Princeton professor Dr. Oppenheimer, provided several scary facts about how we in the U.S., who make up five percent of the world's population, produce 25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming. Dr. Oppenheimer said that in the course of the last thousand or so years, the most dramatic change/activity in the earth's temperature has taken place in the last fifty years. Hmm. Any connection between the last busy Atlantic hurricane system and the current one? A difference of 72 years or so? The show served as a wake-up call, even for someone like me, who has (until now) been only semi-concerned at best with recycling and the environment. (Combined with the personal experiences of some friends and relatives who have suffered mightily at the hands of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, what I learned yesterday has made me decide to make a few changes, all on behalf of the environment.)

Like Oprah, I'm not going to run out and buy a hybrid automobile, but there are some other steps I can and will take. Replacing regular light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs is the first (I already replaced my outdoor light with the more eco-friendly version). Eschewing styrofoam products is next. I already get double use out of supermarket plastic bags (ideal for disposing of used cat litter), so I'm not going to bring my own to market, but there were other ideas presented, some practical, some less so (unless you have a huge income and can afford to build an eco-friendly home). More do-able are things like bringing a garment bag to the drycleaners and having your cleaned items placed in that, rather than in plastic bags. Using toilet paper made from recycled paper (not for the sensitive!). Unplugging electric plugs when not using the appliance in question (unless it has a clock or other settings that need juice), as they suck up energy even when not in use. One item in particular: your cell phone charger. Yep, mine is still plugged in even as I write this, but I'll unplug it when I get home. Computers? When you're not on 'em, unpl

Okay, let's not get too crazy...but if everyone replaced the five most used lightbulbs in their home with the fluorescent type, the energy savings -- and subsequent ecological damage -- is significant. You can get the actual numbers at Pretty amazing...not to mention scary.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

James Blonde?

Okay, I know it's been way too long since I've posted here, but I've been kinda busy. However, earthshattering news tends to make me examine my priorities, and something just happened that I MUST write about. The role of James Bond has been recast with a not very well-known actor (outside the UK, anyway) named Daniel Craig. And he's BLONDE!

I have nothing against blondes, mind you, even though I do enjoy the jokes. There are some long standing traditions that you do NOT mess with, though. Even though Roger Moore's hair sometimes seemed more light brown than not, every single Bond has been played by a dark-haired bloke.

A recast of this magnitude is dodgy enough without breaking with certain aspects of the character. For instance, one name bandied about as a new Bond was that of Rupert Everett, a guy quite right for the part in most instances. Except one. And he said it himself: "Well, you KNOW why they won't offer it to me!" Others in the running had much in common, from Clive Owen to Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor to (eww) Jude Law, Hugh Jackman to (eww, again) Colin Firth. All suave brunets with lovely accents and a physique to match (except for the "eww"s). In order, my choices would have been Clive Owen, Ewan McGregor, even Christian Bale. In the end, I was totally disappointed.

Will I go to see "Casino Royale?" Undoubtedly. There ARE a few things going for the movie. Its director, Martin Campbell, previously directed Pierce Brosnan's Bond debut, "Goldeneye." He also helmed Antonio Banderas' "Zorro" flicks. And Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby," "Crush") is either writing the screenplay or consulting on it. Then something else flashed by me as I was reading an article on "gambling on celebrities" -- you know, what will Jennifer Garner have, a girl or a boy? Is Beyonce going to marry Jay-Z? There was also a list of likely Bond girls for "Casino Royale," and number one was Angelina Jolie, with odds of 11-8. Now THAT would make a lot of sense, and draw more doubting Bond fans like myself to the theater. Jolie would be fantastic. Cast a relative unknown as Bond and compensate by adding a superstar as Vesper Lynd, the female lead. Okay, EON Productions, I might even forgive you for not re-signing Pierce Brosnan...well, maybe. This tactic, however, would correct some very big sins.