lundi 29 mars 2010

Forces of nature: natural, human and mechanical

Eye contact

As if it weren't bad enough already to have forgotten how to houseclean, I am completely distracted by the suddenness of this spring. Today, I could virtually watch the peonies push further up and unfurl their tightly packed leaves (they look kind of like cramped zombie hands reaching up through the dirt, until they open, which is something of a relief), and I did watch the algae come up from the bottom of the fish basin, thanks to the algae-eating bacteria I have been dumping into it since last week, making the frogs miserable with my frequent appearances (they like it when I stay perfectly still, better yet, when I stay in the house).

Leaf buds are clamoring to populate the grape vines that were bare until today, it seemed, the Clematis 'Daniel Deronda' is about to bloom, the first bud still bearing its soft, fuzzy veil of white, and the hyacinths -- ah! the hyacinths! -- have naturalized in the border, and I have more than in any year previous.

The daffodils, on the other hand, look like they have found a predator, or there was hail while we were in Morzine-Avoriaz. Their petals are in tatters, heads hung low in beaten beauty.

I was also completely distracted by the need to get rid of old files and defrag my hard drive (my computer agreed that it really needed to be done), then figure out why Picasa3 was crashing every time I tried to launch it, and, come to think of it, why it had been crashing Firefox the last few days. If you're interested, I know why after spending far too much time looking it up on Google. I can't find the other helpful reply I found, but basically you have to uninstall Quicktime and reinstall the latest version, then completely uninstall Picasa (no cheating, you've got to hit "yes" and uninstall the database, too, but don't worry, I didn't lose my albums since everything was already set up in my "My Pictures" directory file tree), and then reinstall it. Picasa will then read all your pictures back in.

It works, but your afternoon is shot unless you are faster than I am at finding the answers to your problems.

I am sure you are.

Now, why can't I just defrag myself to go faster, because I can tell you that today fully made up in uselessness for all my purposefulness of Wednesday.

The oak floor

The last day before our train to Morzine was exceptionally harried. I was very proud of myself. My husband was sure we would miss the train. My pride I kept to myself. There's just no sense in expecting it to be shared when he is about to travel. Dr. Himself and Mr. Hyde. There is simply no way, as far as he is concerned, that we can ever leave early enough. His brain races to make lists of all the things that will go wrong, and if the car is not already in motion before the appointed hour, we are late.

Irrevocably late.

We will miss the train, plane, keep everyone waiting for lunch, to open their Christmas presents. Whatever.

It has escaped his attention that I have taken to being the one waiting for him over the years we have vécus maritalement. How do I know that it has escaped his attention? Because he is still telling everyone that, thanks to me, we were nearly late because we left later than he wanted.

Stop. Observe. Who has her coat on and who is thinking of changing his pants, and then maybe his shoes, and then heading for his coat?

"Ah, bon. T'es prête alors?" he asks.

"Oui. Il est temps de partir," I reply, standing there in my coat, pulling my gloves on imperiously. Imperiousness is not easy for me. I am more prone to pouting and defensively motivated attacks that have a certain hostile edge to them. "Tu pourrais peut-être penser à te préparer."

"Oui, oui," he says, with surprise, "je t'attendais." Yes, yes. I was just waiting for you. This is what we call mauvaise foi. He was watching television.

Nonetheless, Wednesday, I had reason to be just a little proud of myself, for I had finished the calculations for the gypsum board, metal framing and insulation order at Point P, gotten there to place the order set up the delivery (for today), driven to the auto école to get the papers necessary for my son's auto insurance, dropped them at the bank, driven to the wood shop, arriving before they closed for noon for lunch, to order the furring strips for the oak floor and to buy the solid oak flooring so that it could begin acclimating to the room in which it will be installed during our absence, gaining, I hoped, a few precious days after our return to get it installed, unloaded it into the house, snagging my nice sweater on a large splinter in one bunch, finished up the plans to drop off at the masons' homes so they could do the estimates for the work at the entries while we were gone, and raced out the door to the car just as my husband opened the gate in the bottom garden, heading off to leave them in their mailboxes. Mission accomplished.

When I got home, Rapide was still not moving, and it was an hour until our departure time. She had started the night before with her take a step, sit down and look at me despondently, get up and take another step, and sit down and look at me, and so on all the way from the front door to the strip of grass where they take care of their digestive and urinary business alongside the France Telecom utility building next door. My husband was finishing up his bag.

"Je pense qu'on va être obligé d'amener Rapide au vetérinaire avant de partir," I announced bravely, leaving the tiniest hint of doubt and regret in my voice. Enough so he would know with absolute certainty that I had not done this on purpose.

I hadn't.

"C'est pas vrai."

He looked at Rapide, lying on the living room carpet, where she had spent her entire morning, despite the door being open to a beautiful spring day. I nodded, careful to show my concern, and reached for the telephone. It took several phone calls to their two offices and some desperation and pleading to establish that they would finally let us drop her off and have my son pick her up after he finished school. There was no way I could sit at their office and wait (and wait, and wait) for the vet to see her; I had to make it to a train. Or else.

Her temperature was 2° C below normal, qualifying her condition as hypothermic. This meant she had not been bitten by a tic and did not have whatever that terrible tic-carried disease was that Baccarat got when she was little.


It could mean that she was slowly (or rapidly) bleeding to death internally.

Not phew.

"On peut la laisser," I announced, and ran up to finish my bag, under his impatient regard.

"Mais, tu n'es pas obligé de m'attendre comme ça. Tu me rends nerveuse me regardant comme ça." We say "comme ça" a lot.

"Je veux descendre ton sac dès qu'il soit pret," he answered. I wasn't going to have any peace; he wasn't going anywhere until I closed my bag, which he was doing even as I watching reaching for the last things. The ski socks didn't make it in on time.

It was 3:03 pm when we pulled the car door shut and put the car in gear.

It was 3:23 pm when I finally got Rapide into the doors of the vet's office, not far from the entrance ramp to the highway to Paris. Sit, step, sit, step -- you get the idea.

The receptionist asked me for the symptoms, taking careful notes. I was about to go crazy when she asked the same question for the 3rd time. She had it all there. Everything I had seen. She had my cell phone number. She had my blank check.

"Je peux la laisser maintenant afin d'éviter le divorce?" I asked.

"Oui, vous pouvez la laisser," she replied, coming around the corner to take Rapide's leash. She had to drag her, speaking softly, encouragingly and kindly to Rapide, toward the door to the examination rooms, while I bolted for the door and the car.

It was 4:00 pm when we passed under the sign announcing the time to the Porte d'Orléans above the Périphe.

"20 minutes à la Porte d'Orléans," said my husband. "C'est bon."

It was 4:23 pm when the a movement in the car about to catch up to us in the fast lane caught our attention.

"Mais, c'est eux!" I exclaimed. Eux was the colleague to whose apartment we were heading to meet him, and where we would leave our car, and another colleague, our other traveling companion.

I felt a rush of self-satisfaction. No one (he) could say I'd put us behind schedule, despite an unanticipated stop at the vet's. Nonetheless, if anyone could find a way to find reason to complain, he was sitting next to me, and he was content. I am pretty sure he felt my glow, across the stick shift and the hand brake, on his side of the car.

The phone rang the next day, while we were collecting our ski passes and heading toward the téléphérique to the ski slopes at Avoriaz. The vet's office. Rapide had nothing. Nothing whatsoever other than a meaningless cyst not even worth the notice on one kidney that couldn't have anything to do with her condition. She was weak the day before, that they granted, but there was nothing physically wrong with her that could explain her inability (or refusal) to walk.

I asked about dysplasia. My husband threw daggers at me with his eyes.

"Mais quoi encore?" I asked, exasperated.

"On t'as dit qu'il n'y a rien, et tu continues à poser des questions. Il savent faire leur diagnostique, tu sais."

"Oui, mais j'ai du mal à comprendre," I replied, dépassée, "et je ne vois pas qu'on ne peut prendre trois secondes plus pour que je finisse avec le vetérinaire. J'ai quand même le droit de poser des questions!" But, I knew the answer to that already.

I was taking the vet's time. I had been told she had nothing; she had nothing. Get over it. You're not going to ever understand why this dog has started behaving this way, as far back as the first day in Chamonix a month ago, or why her temperature was so low one day, only to return to somewhat below but nearly normal the next day.

Oh well, I thought, even after Sam gave me the total for the check the receptionist had filled out. 180 euros to know your 10-year-old stubborn and lazy Labrador Retriever is perfectly healthy is already that much.

"Elle va bien," said my husband, when the question came up again this evening, my son having confirmed that she has walked perfectly normally ever since we left. "C'est le cerveaux qui règle la température du corps, et on sait qu'elle a un déjà un gros handicap là."

Ha ha ha.

And we made it up the mountain to ski back down. And we made it home. And, Rapide is just fine.

And all the building materials await.


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