Bubbles

In 9th grade, i won the “Klutz of the Year” award at the High School Band Awards dinner.  i tripped over a music stand on my way to receive the trophy.

i have never been graceful.

In 2006 i got my SCUBA certification.  The same year i got divorced, became an empty-nester, and got cancer.  It wasn’t until 2009, when Studley became a certified diver, that i had a chance to put more than my toe in the water.

And it was life-changing…  We had quite an adventure in Cozumel!  Weighing myself down with far too much lead, unable to find neutral buoyancy, and being terrified during a night dive with a five mile per hour current did not dampen my enthusiasm for diving.

i wanted needed more. i’ve gotten it.

Not a cheap hobby by any stretch, so dive trips to sunny, warm-water locales with pretty colored fish have been a bit of a luxury.  Even so, we’ve managed some extraordinary excursions over the past five years.

The most recent adventure last week to The Cayman Islands is now tucked under my weight belt.  On this trip?  i hit the milestone “100th Dive”.  Celebrated with the dive boat crew, and my fellow divers.  It was a good thing that i was still dripping with sea water, or they might have noticed that i was crying…

How did i get here?

100

It wasn’t just the milestone dive that triggered tears.  That was just a number.  It was more than that…

No longer struggling to manage my air, i was returning to the boat with almost a third of my tank untouched after an hour underwater.  Buoyancy isn’t such an issue.  i can get in a very Zen-like trance floating alongside a coral wall at 100’… a wall that has no bottom for another 6,000 feet.  The gear doesn’t confuse me – i can easily rig my own stuff, and get in and out of the water without assistance — even perfecting the James Bond Backroll from the side of the boat!

It’s not really all of that.

Moving effortlessly underwater with a school of fish.  Face to face with a friendly grouper.  While most divers use a standard kick, or frog kick, to move along, i’ve adopted the double fin kick…

In the water, i move like a motherfucking mermaid.  For the first time in my life?  i am graceful. It feels good.

74

That’s me, doing the inverted photo-bomb as Studley and i explore a wrecked Russian frigate.  For once in my life, i am not clumsy.

It feels wonderful…

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Catastrophe Avoided

My cat may be Christian. Or a Rastafarian.

Having been a ‘dog person’ for most of my life, co-habitating with a cat is a relatively new experience for me. Huey Newton, the gigantic orange cat that came to live with me a few years ago is pretty agreeable, easy to care for, and very affectionate… It’s been easy – sort of like caring for a mobile, entertaining, affectionate and fur-covered plant.

With limited experience around cats, i don’t always read the cues properly. Last weekend, even with my cat-egorical deafness, it was apparent that something was wrong.

He wasn’t in bed with me and the large brown dog on Friday morning. He hadn’t eaten his food. Usually, if i stand near his feeding station atop the washing machine in the laundry room, he will come running for breakfast and head scritches, but he was nowhere to be found.

i had to go looking for him — again, very much out of the ordinary. He wasn’t in his usual haunts in the downstairs guest room, or on top of the billiards table. After a 30 minute scavenger hunt, i eventually located him under my desk upstairs – looking a bit out of sorts. i was relieved, since i half-expected that he’d crawled into the walls to die.

Giving him extra attention that night, i convinced myself that he was terribly sick. Even with the blizzard conditions on Saturday morning, i hunted him down and loaded him into the cat carrier for a trip to the vet.

One thing i learned about cats? They don’t particularly care for riding in the car. Huey howled inconsolably, while i navigated the snow-covered streets. Needing to keep both hands on the wheel, i really couldn’t do much to console him. i’d pointed the ‘open’ door of the carrier toward me so he could at least keep visual contact, but that didn’t seem to help.

Talking to him. Trying to calm his kitty nerves. “It’s ok, Huey! We’ll get you checked out! Doc will know what to do! Want to get you feeling better!”

Turns out, i really don’t know what to say to a cat. i ran out of patter after a few minutes, and found myself repeating these calming platitudes. What DO you say to a sick cat?

i gave up, and took to singing.

Starting in my wheelhouse, i hit the show tunes. Rogers and Hammerstein, Stephen Schwartz, Andrew Lloyd Webber*. He continued to howl. Decided to switch it up and go with a little country. Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, Sr. had no effect on the poor bastard.

i drove past a church sporting a sign reading “Jesus Loves You”. Letting the stream-of-consciousness loose, i launched a song from my childhood…

“Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so…”

Silence from the passenger seat.

“Little ones to him belong! They are weak but he is strong.”

My cat was quiet. i checked to make sure he hadn’t died.

The light turned green, and i briefly spun my wheels. With my attention refocused on the task at hand, i lost lock on the lyrics. The next song that popped into my head was a song i’d been working on with my guitar teacher. “Don’t let the sun catch you cryin’…”

Vociferous complaints from my cranky passenger.

Well. There’s a data point. Might need to consider removing that one from my set list…

i chatted with him a bit, asking after his preferences. “C’mon, Huey! It’s going to be ok, li’l fella!”

Figuring that with the cold weather and snowstorm, perhaps the islands were calling…

“No kitty, No cry…”, taking some situational license from Mr. Bob Marley.

And once again, i was greeted with quiet from the peanut gallery. Finished up the song just as i pulled into the parking lot.

The vet was pretty efficient in diagnosing him with a serious, and systemic, tooth/gum infection. Even though he’s only about 4 years old, some cats are prone to this.

Jacked him up on fluids and antibiotics, ran some bloodwork, and scheduled a dental extraction for the following Tuesday. Nine teeth gone, and a groggy, but happy, kitty came home with me that night.

My cat may be Christian. Or a Rastafarian. Based on his taste in music? It could go either way…

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*Note: Nothing from “Cats”. i hate that musical…