Chaos Attraction

Recap Day: May 2017

2017-12-19, 6:46 a.m.

At the beginning of May my cousin Bill was out in California for work again and we took him to something new: the Italian Renaissance Faire (Carnivale Fantastico) in Vallejo. He wanted to see some sword swallowing and by god, there was some to be seen! So that made him happy.

Mother’s Day weekend was the usual, Whole Earth and the Hawaiian Festival. I didn’t write uh, anything down about it, but I remember enjoying myself, so what the heck. I do remember going to some workshop where you were supposed to imagine your future self as a way of figuring out your life and I Just. Could. Not. Do. It. For. Anything. I picture myself in the future and all I can see is doing the exact same thing I do now except with more stress and more age. I cannot see another path for myself in this life.

At the end of May I took an early-ish vacation to Santa Cruz. Meg was going out of town for a wedding for a week and I was house and pet sitting for her--I did see her on the first and last day, so that was fun. I also pet sat for the groom in the wedding’s parents--namely something like six(?) cats (I never saw them all at once) and chickens. Meg said my mom could come visit as well, and she came by for the 3-day weekend part of the time.

May 25:

I drove down to Santa Cruz after rush hour, reasonably assuming that if I drove down there in May there wouldn’t be the rain/horrible weather issues that prevented me from driving down there the first few times I went. Also, I wanted to have my own car if I was there alone for a week. Much to my surprise, it rained anyway just as I hit the mountain...which was a bit scary but nothing happened, so thank goodness there.

I met Meg at her friend’s house that I was going to be pet sitting for--I wanted to meet the couple and the pets and get walked through on the instructions and whatnot. I also attempted to help with wedding decorations, which eventually got scrapped for realism, I think. (It involved trying to spin scrubby yarn and wrap them into long bunches of greenery.) As far as I had known going down there it was going to be some number of cats, but then Meg was all, “and chickens!” and I was all, wait, WHAT? Nobody warned me about this! Because I used to petsit for Merry’s chickens and man, that was just gross. They had free rein in the super disgusting backyard, there was poop and flies all over the place, I had to hunt all over in weird hard to get places for the eggs...also, I did not bring any junky shoes to wear for dealing with bird poop and I would have brought some had I but known. However, much to my pleasure, the chickens usually live in a nice coop, she said I did not have to let them out and then have to round them up at night (it was Skunk Season in Santa Cruz and Meg’s dog Xochi had gotten skunked in the backyard recently), and I only had to go in there to feed/water them about every other day or so. So that was nice. Also, Meg loaned me garden shoes just in case.

Otherwise I fed and watered most of the cats in the kitchen, opened a window in the morning and closed a window at night--the inside-outside cat didn’t seem too thrilled with this, but hey, it’s up to him to pick which end of the house to be in--and then there was, and I quote, “Psycho Kitty.” Psycho Kitty (that wasn’t the cat’s given name, but that’s what the owner referred to her as) apparently has mental problems and recently got over having maggots in her bottom* and is kept alone by herself in the sewing room, so she has to be fed and watered and poop scooped separately. They also gave me instructions for dealing with what happened when that cat has exploding diarrhea (this is probably why they offered me $300 for four days of this), but luckily for me, that did not happen.

* cue “I have maggots in my scroooooooootum” from The Book Of Mormon musical in my brain upon hearing that)

The instructions for taking care of Meg’s dog were quite easy, but I ended up being pretty surprised when we were going over the instructions for feeding the birds. Here’s how you water the birds, here’s the food, the birds love eating fruit and marigolds and leaves if you clothespin them around the cage, here’s the special baby bird mash for dealing with having baby birds in the cage....oh, and uh, the quail might die.

Wait, what? I did not expect any possible pet death on this gig unless something freakishly awful happened.

Anyway...Meg had something like 17 canaries in there at the time and one quail, which according to her would periodically act sick and be shuddering on the floor of the cage for a few days, and then go back to acting normal. Meg had no idea if the bird was going to die or recover on its own or not, who knows. “I thought about breaking its neck so you wouldn’t have to deal with it,” (you can tell Meg has farm experience with this saying coming out of her mouth, eh?) “but I didn’t want to end its life before it’s time...”

What do you say to that, folks? “It’s very sweet that you were willing to kill your bird for me...I wouldn’t want its life to end before its time either....?”

And anyway, since birds die all the time and heck, she found one of the canaries dead this morning, you never know with birds, don’t get upset if it happens, it’s not your fault....

I wasn’t worried about it being my fault, but uh...the last time I had a dead pet, I just didn’t go home until my roommate took care of it. (Yes, I’m a shithead and this is why I don’t have pets while living alone.) Not that I mentioned that to Meg at the time. I didn’t say much of anything, but I probably had a whole lotta deer-in-the-headlights on my face at the time. So she was all, “Hey, I know, we’ll just pre-dig a hole just in case! Here’s where the trowel is, here’s where the gloves are, and how about we dig the hole under one of your angel figurines? (I made a bunch of angel figurines in Meg’s class, I no longer have the shelf space to stash them at my tinier apartment so now they live in her backyard.) I...didn’t really want one of my angels involved in this, but given the subject matter I really didn’t feel like I could say that! So...a hole was pre-dug under the angel, let’s hope I never have to use it. Meg also said that if worst came to worst, I could just leave it there and she’d deal with it when she came home.

May 26:

First day home alone. I woke up early enough to see Meg and her husband off, and then snuggled with the dog when she felt lonely.

Eventually I left the house to take the bus to the UC Santa Cruz campus.
That place is definitely...different. It’s huge, it’s on a big ol’ bunch of redwood hills, and it doesn’t seem too intended for walking. Half the streets don’t even have sidewalks, and the campus seems designed to have to take busses from section to section. And the campus is in various “college” sections. Everyone lives in a themed “college” where their dorms are and I think their classes are too? Do they even have to leave to go to other places? I’m not sure. They don’t seem to have much of a “central” area beyond the one street that the bookstore and a restaurant are on.

I went to the campus bookstore--something I normally can’t do because every time I’ve been over here it’s been a holiday and it was closed--and bought Mom a ton of slug merchandise. A slug ornament (she turned out to be a lot less into that than I expected), a shirt that says “I’ve been slimed!” (she loved that), a pin or two, and two children’s books about slugs because dear lord, does she love buying children’s books “for the boys” (i.e. baby cousins) these days. I bought some pins as presents and bought myself a butterfly pin and sticker. Ka-ching. I do think their mascot is more entertaining as a cartoon than ours is--actual banana slugs are not so cute, but as a motif they are adorable.

I then tried to wander around looking for the Grateful Dead archives and the art museum, both of which were closed for May. Wah. I did wander around the library, theater section, and Porter and Rachel Carson Colleges.
It was interesting to check out another campus, in the “would things have been different and I went somewhere else” sort of way. I didn’t super consider UCSC back in the day once I found out that their English department was impacted, plus I am not a fan of cloudy and cool weather (actually gives me headaches). And realistically speaking, had I shown major interest in attending UCSC, the way my mom’s been acting about my going over there in the winter lately makes me think that she and my dad would have decided to rule that school out too. But I think had I attended here, I would have wanted to go to Porter, which was lovely and had a bunch of murals.

But I don’t know about attending here. Cloudy and cool is not my favorite weather, even if I saw two deer and the ocean from the campus. Also, the place seemed freaking deserted everywhere! You see stray people here and there, but it’s so...empty, even on a full on school day. It was very isolated-seeming and weird. Strange campus. Also, where do they get food here? (Answer, according to the campus newspapers, is nowhere and it’s a “food-insecure” campus with no nearby grocery store anywhere.)

After that, I went back to town and went shopping. Of course. I bought a skirt and two books and some more stickers and a SF calendar that I’ll use for my old boss’s retirement party. Then I went back and did my pet-sitting rounds. Everything was still pretty clean and clear and taken care of since everyone left on that day, so I just gave the cats wet food and left, and then got lost on the way home. I went home, fed and played with the dog, and called Mom, who elected to not leave on Friday night.

May 27:
After Mom finally arrived Saturday morning-ish, I did my pet-sitting rounds and then took Mom to the UCSC arboretum. This is pretty drastically different from the one at my alma mater. It’s very dry and desert-y and hard to follow where the paths go. But they had a public art exhibit going on at the time and I really liked that and took a lot of photos. There was a giant spinny thing, kind of a maze thing, something akin to a yellow road, a giant circular thing to sit in, giant flowers... I do enjoy that sort of thing. After that, Mom drove around the loop of UCSC, though we got lost at one point. After doing the evening pet rounds, we went to a restaurant called Hula’s for dinner, which was great--had extremely delicious pork and hula pie), then we strolled around Pacific Avenue and had fun in the candy store.

May 28:
On this day, we went to the Seymour Marine Center. Several months ago (probably around December, I think) I saw advertisements for the crochet coral reef that was visiting in the area, but I could never get over here in time to see it before the exhibit closed down. However, as part of the whole thing they had locals creating their own crochet coral reef exhibit at the marine center AND IT WAS AWESOME. I absolutely loved this. I took tons of pictures and still have them saved on my phone and still flash them at people, I wanted to do my own in town (sadly, not gonna happen) and am still debating if I am going to try my own at home or something. I did buy a book about making 100 knitted and crocheted flowers, though...

We also went on the tour, watched adorable pelagic crabs floating through the water (seriously, really cute) and one super active octopus. That was amazing. We also went by West Cliff Drive to walk by the beach, and I found uh... the nude beach, which is precariously located way down a cliff to the point where I wondered how the hell people got down and up out of there.

After doing the pet rounds, we went to Betty’s Eat Inn for fried chicken, wandered around Pacific Avenue some more, and went to Bookshop Santa Cruz again, but I managed to not buy anything.

May 29:

So this morning I went out to do the birds guessed it. The quail had been huddling on the floor of the aviary for the last few days, but today it was straight up obviously dead, feet out and flat on the ground straight out of the Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch. You couldn’t argue it. It was definitely dead.

It was a good thing I didn’t have Mom out there with me, because I think I did a little scream. I definitely dropped the lid for the baby bird mash, which of course rolled RIGHT by the corpse, and I ran out of there.

I debated whether or not to tell Mom about this. On the one hand, maybe I could talk her into dealing with the bird. On the other hand, Mom is uh...easily upset and frequently you end up paying some kind of price or other for getting Mom’s help and usually that price is a lot of yelling and upset. I ended up electing to keep my mouth shut, pretend nothing had happened, and go around the rest of the day until she left keeping it to myself.

I did my last run of pet checking at the other house (they were coming back sooner than Meg, who was using the time to have all the family crash at someone’s AirB&B by Yosemite after the wedding) and then we went off to Pacific Avenue again. I bought some stickers/little things and a couple of clothes--one iridescent purple/red skirt for $18 and a rainbow top for $18. But I did not buy a gorgeous rainbow dress for $89 though because jeebus, that price. I don’t want to pay that much money for something that uh...didn’t look worth that much even though they told me the fabric was very expensive. I also spent a lot of time trying to find clothes for a Princess Leia costume, but this did not go well. We finished off Mom’s day by doing a walking tour of Walnut Avenue with Mom before she went home.

After she left, I...sucked it up and dealt with the dead bird. Which is to say: (a) if you’re 39 years old and you never had kids or had to deal with anything adult and gross, you have no excuse to try to duck it, (b) I was still going to have to go into that cage for the next two days until Meg returned on Wednesday and smell was gonna be a factor here, and (c) what if the baby bird mash dries up or something if it has no lid and I end up killing baby birds? So, you know, stuff like that.

I got out the gloves and trowel and went into the cage...and then proceeded to freak out at the thought of having to touch the dead bird and remembering for the rest of my life what it felt like to touch a dead bird. I think that day I must have slammed the cage door like three times--and did I mention that Meg said sometimes canaries drop dead from loud noises? Anyway...I got the idea to grab one of Meg’s random ceramic plates she had lying around and used that and the trowel to load the bird onto the plate and then shovel it into the pre-dug hole. This was a great idea, except the hole wasn’t quite deep enough and the little feet kept sticking out and I kept being grossed out and trying to find more dirt to cover the feet...Eventually I slammed the plate on top of the bird/feet and put the angel on top of that and declared the whole thing done.

After that I rewarded myself with taking the dog for a walk, finding the neighborhood’s Little Free Library, and uh...breaking the poop bag container.

May 30:
I took Tuesday for myself to hang out in Meg’s garden and meditation room and try to figure out what to do with my life. Does this ever work? No, it does not really. But it was nice anyway.

I went out that evening to pick up another poop bag container and some honey (since I’d used up the last of what they had in the house) and while I was out doing that, I got a call from Meg saying that they had all been kicked out of their AirBNB and were coming home early--expect them around midnight-ish. I waited up until everyone came home, and the dog was very happy.

Here’s their whole AirBNB saga: When Meg was making reservations for a cabin in the woods, the first person she tried to book with canceled their reservation because she wanted to charge them more money because it was Memorial Day weekend, then that lady tried to get around AirBNB and re-reserve her, except that meant that AirBNB was charging Meg twice. Meg eventually bailed out of that reservation and then tried a second place.

As it turned out, the second place they actually stayed at thought that saying, “I want to reserve until the 30th” translated into, “I’m leaving the morning of the 30th” instead of “I’m leaving the morning of the 31st, like people in actual hotels do.” On Tuesday, they were all out at Yosemite with no cell reception, and the lady was sending them tons of angry e-mails along the lines of, “I have another reservation booked months ago and I am throwing your stuff out on the lawn and will call the cops if you come back in.” WTF? This certainly makes me think I don’t want to deal with AirBNB.

On the other hand, it did mean I got to see Meg before I left, so I was happy about that.

May 31: I had been doing Skype sessions with my voice coach (Meg’s friend), but on that day we were able to meet up in person at Meg’s house for the last session. That was very cool and we all hung out together for a bit. I showed Meg all the stuff I got and she loved it. There were now 4 baby birds and she named one of them (the one that had eye markings reminding her of glasses) after me. We all had lunch and then I drove back..I missed the mountain traffic jam because I had lunch and then spent 3 hours trying to get home once I got off the mountain. Oy. But hey, between the petsitting gigs, I got most of my credit card paid off, so yay there.

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