Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Jessica has already made one appearance in this blog but I find it only fair to give her her own posting. Jessica was the one person who single handedly saved my junior high experience.  So here I was this lost sad little new student with no friends and no clue how to make them due to the aforementioned Erin debacle. I somehow started to hang out at my lunch time with these one group pf girls, who were from one of the other elementary schools, hence not knowing anything about me or my former self. I remember that I kind of sat on the out skirts of this group at lunch and kind of followed them around between classes, but I never really thought that we were close. I just kind of went through the motions of it all and to tell you honestly I kind of went through the motions for everything back then.  There was this one girl though who I kind of liked in this group named Jessica but I never really made a ton of effort or anything because I mean look where that got me last time.

Anyways… Much to my surprise Jessica seemed to like me as well and soon we started to talk more and more and like start to become friends even. I remember this one day at lunch when she and I ate lunch together just the two of us in the locker bays. I have no clue what lead up to this moment but at some point one of us threw a mushy peach over the bays of lockers into another behind us. We both spent the whole lunch time in stitches and being goofy. For me that was the moment that I started to think I had found another person I could call a  real friend.  What I found out from Jessica some time later on that year, is that how that one on one lunch came about ,is because those other girls were going to push me out of the group and Jessica stood up for me and left instead. She basically choose hanging out with me instead of hanging out with them. That was something I always held in very high regards with Jessica, she was fiercely loyal.

Jessica became my best friend for the rest of junior high and part of high school. I look back on my life and I have so many memories of things we did together. Her mother was much stricter then mine and lucky for Jess her mom seemed to adore me, so Jess was always given a longer leash per say when hanging out with me.  This was perfect for us both because I frequently got to be a part of things or crowd sthat I never would have if not for her involvement. She made me have a fairly normal middle school experience. Over the summers we spent a ton of time together.  One summer her mom allowed me to come camping with their family, it was so fun and I got to drive this crazy van around with her and her sisters. We spend all this time listening to the Doors and having deep meaningful conversations about life.  I was Jessica’s person she would come to with her boy issues and unlike me and my lack of boy experience, Jessica had boy friends and relations that I could only experience through her.  Jessica was the person I was with when I met Jeff, my later to be boyfriend and the first guy who I ever got involved with closely.  She was also a witness to that relationship breaking down in one of the worst ways possible. I bet even still she remember that fateful night with the hammer right?

When I was in 9th grade I went to New Zealand as an exchange student and it was Jessica I missed the most. I was worried that she would just find a new set of friends when I was gone and that would be it. I had a mixed time over in New Zealand (another story) but the whole time I was gone Jessica sent me brightly colored letters detailing all that I was missing back home. When I returned it was a little weird for a while, because she had made some new friends who didn’t know about me and me them. But Jessica never let me ever get pushed to the outside of the group again.  She was always like that for me, she always made me feel like I was more worthy then I ever really felt I was, but having her see me that way made it seem more real to me.  Jessica never let me do anything I didn’t want too. She was like I said fiercely loyal. One time we had snuck out of her house to go meet some boys on  the golf course near her house, and they were all smoking pot and getting stoned. When it came time for them to pass to me, it was Jessica who told them I didn’t do it, and that was it. She never once pressured me to do anything with drugs and I have always respected her for that, because I know that’s not how a lot of teenagers treat their peers. She always just accepted me for the fact that I wasn‘t interested and that was it. This night like many, she told them all about how I sang, and in her stoned state always asked me to sing for her. I would to; she was one of the only people I felt really comfortable singing for.

So with all these amazing moments shared and such ,your probably wondering what happened? Well it was kind of uneventful what ended our friendship. There was no huge falling out or anything. She was smart and did well in school and studied and took advanced classes. I hated school ,never did homework and although I was smart ,I didn’t care about school at all. She eventually started taking running start classes at the community college and she found new people to hang out with. Me I stayed in our high school and suffered the misery of life there. We were always friendly but not nearly as close as we had been before. At some point she met a new guy and started to hang out with hi ma lot. I remember going to Dennys with them and drinking coffee and coloring pictures.  But for the first time I wasn’t a part of this relationship and that was ok with me.

 Eventually we graduated and I never looked back. She went on to college and I started to work full time and found a new group of people to be my friends and that was kind of just it. I eventually moved out of the area, and then spent 13 more years moving around. Jessica… Well I had no clue honestly what she ended up doing during those 13 years. I was sad that I didn’t stay close, but it was ok cause I guess that’s what people do, they grow apart.  It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic or bad.  The one thing I’ll say is that I always thought about her when I returned to the area ,but something always made me stop when I thought about looking her up. A few years back we had our high school reunion and I of course didn’t go (ya know cause high school was hell for me and all) but I saw on the list that she had RSVP’d. It once again made me start to think about her again. When I moved back to the area we somehow connected again.  I don’t really remember the details of finding each other but I know that Facebook was involved. I don’t remember who sent the first message or making the plan to meet up,  but we ended up taking a walk with my dogs and catching up. It was really really nice.  Since then we have gotten together only a few  other times but it’s because we are both super busy and not due to lack of wanting to.

This is one of those storied about a friendship that is happy for me… I do have a few of those to share.  I love knowing that she is back in my life, even if just as someone who pops up on my Facebook page with some sort of random comment or likes something I say. I like knowing that she is in my around even in just that small way.  And I hope that she feels the same about me. I am glad that she always invites me to things and sometime when my life isn’t insane, I’m going to show up at one of these events. i like the fact that now we can build an adult friendship based on more then just the every day seeing each other doing nothing. The conversations can be meaningful  even if they are small and few.  She might not have any idea about how much she saved me back in JR high (well maybe she does now) but I’m so glad that we were able to make our friendship worth more then just  something we both forever walked away from. I know that we will never go back to that best friend status but I’m at a point in my life where I can appreciate just  having loyal, kind, and good people in my life and  Jessica is all those and more. I hope that in the future we will be able to find some more time to hang out together.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Starting this last week.

I have two days left at my job until I start a new job. This is a really exciting thing for me but I am also faced with many fears.  I have always been labeled kind of a hard person to know. I come off as a bitch I’ve been told more then once. And I know that I tend to show lots of indifference to people who I deem unworthy. Even thought I really don’t mean to.  I have been working on it but I know that these are the first impressions that people commonly get from me.  I started working at my current hospital two and a half years ago after I moved back to the Seattle area. I thought that being as experienced and diverse as I was in this field, finding a job in such a huge place like Seattle would be easy. It turned out that I was quite wrong.

Before I even moved here I had more then one interview lined up just by sending out my resume to a few different larger clinics. I took more then one trip over the mountains for interviews and job shadows from my tiny town in North Eastern Oregon. When I finally actually moved, it was the middle of the one winter when Seattle had a bunch of snow and pretty much shut down for a week or two. I got a lot of positive feed back from these places, but they all told me that because it was the middle of winter they were unable to hire anyone new at this time. I kept at it, sending out like a ton of resumes a day and always taking interviews. I had some meetings at some pretty weird places, and did some pretty weird working interviews let me tell you. I turned down one place where I didn’t think would match my style and I hoped that I wouldn’t regret that decision.  Because at this time I was starting to feel the pressure to just find any job.

After about two and a half months I was running out of money and starting to get kind of worried. I mean I really didn’t think it would be this tough to find a job and had never had this much trouble in all the places I have lived in.  I knew that I was following all the rules of job searching, and I know that my resume stood out. I just figured that with the way the economy was and the crappy weather were both constantly working against me. I started to modify my resume to be acceptable on even the human side of things because this is how desperate I was becoming. I sent out another wave of resumes and just waited.  I received a call from this one hospital and had a very lovely conversation with the office manager. They then asked me to come in for a sit down interview with the owner. I arrived at that and I met the owner and talked about what they wanted and what not, and I felt really good about the place.   But heck maybe it was cause I was kind of desperate for anything to feel good at this point. They asked me to come back for a working interview and I eagerly accepted.  The day of my working interview was crazy for me and I really just needed it to go well. So I tried to just make myself super friendly and talkative and not seem bitchy and I overly intense. I guess something worked out well because I left totally feeling like I bonded with one of the staff members and totally hoping that this would be the place I would work.  I waited for like a week until I got the call and lucky for me it did become just that.

I am not going to say that my two and a half years have been perfect. There have been many ups and downs. I have seen some really great people and some really awful people come and go.  I have had good moments and bad moments in this time. I have been the butt of many jokes, and made them all laugh at another crazy Martha story;   I have felt pressure both with my co-worker and just in the intensity of working in this field.  I have met some really amazing animals. But as I approach my last two days being employed there, I know that I have truly been able to be a part of a really amazing team of people who I will miss so much. Where as this job may have started out  as a little bit as a desperation; It has turned into a wonderful place filled with really fun and incredible people, who I know respect and admire me just as much as I do them. I’m sad to have to move on. I am scared to leave that comfort of being a part of this closeness. But I’m excited to see if I can make my new job become the same way to me. I will never forget the people I have spent all this time with or tons of the animals I have had the pleasure to help and care for. I will miss them all more then you could imagine.

So this post is for all you guys… I know many of you read this and many of you don’t. I just want to say thanks for being the best two and a half years I could have. Thanks for allowing me to be this goofy fun and zany person I always have been. Know that I will miss each and every one of you for so many different reasons, but know that I will always be around if you need me maybe not as a co-worker but definitely as a friend.  It will be weird to return to my hospital as a client instead of an employee. But I am embracing this change and ready to have a great new challenge in my life to pursue.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Denise and her owner

I don’t know what’s been up with me this week. But for some reason I have been super emotional. I am crying at every sappy TV commercial, I tear up every time I hear cute stories or watch lame movies that normally are way to cheesy to affect me.  I don’t exactly know what’s to blame for my heightened emotional state but I think it’s a combo of things.  I think part of is that last week was fathers day and even still I miss my dad a bunch. Lately at the wild life center we have had all these seals. I have been learning how to handle and feed them.  Its stuff that I wish I could run home and tell him all about, because I know these are those things he would be so proud of me doing. I also think that since I have recently started dating again and it’s always a tough thing to have to talk about how my dad died and the whole family dynamic, again and again and again. I know that the week started out hard with my rider incident that I spoke of in my last post. But I also think that one of the bigger things is that I have taken a new job. And I am just starting my last week and my soon to be old job. It’s hard to decide to make a change even if you know that it’s for the best and the best thing you can do for yourself. It’s tough to walk away from the comfort of familiar.  I have spent two and a half years working with these people, getting to know them closely, and becoming a part of such a kick ass team. I’m seriously going to miss that more then any one could imagine.  In some ways the loss of these co-workers is so similar to the same kind of feelings that I have felt with loosing my father. So I think that causes things keep coming back to the dad stuff and this whole combo that has me always on the brink of tears.

Anyways tonight I want to tell you about another case that happened where I left work in tears because of.  And weather it was cause I am super emotional or, just cause something about this guys story hit me really hard I have no clue. You can decide for yourself.  Tonight I want to tell you about Denise. I had answered a call this morning from a guy who asked to bring his cat in because it has an eye issues. He seemed kind of slow. I mean like maybe he has some mental issues just because he kept repeating himself and saying the same things more then necessary. He was concerned that he wouldn’t find a ride in to the clinic but I assured him that he could always cancel the appointment if he couldn’t.  He made an appointment and that was it. Later on in the day he didn’t show up for the appointment that I had made and I figured that he wasn’t able to find a ride and forgot to call us. It worked out cause we had a bunch of catch up to do so it was nice to have that little bit of a break.  In the afternoon it got super busy and I didn’t have time to think about it again. Towards the end of the day we started to see one grumpy cat after another.  And we were all running around like crazy, because every simple appointment seemed to become complex. I went up front to check in one of the waiting appointments, and as I walked this guy and his cat into the exam room, it turned out to be the same guy who no-showed earlier.

Denise is a 15-20 year old indoor outdoor cat who was only about four and a half pounds. I’m sure that this guy loved the heck out of her, and as he started to give me the history that was obvious. Although he maybe lacked some knowledge in proper cat behavior, He was doing his very very best. His cat looked skinny and slightly unthrifty like she had stopped taking care of herself like most cats do normally.  Her eye was definitely infected looking. He said up front that money was a concern because he only had 120 bucks. It was obvious that this cat had a hyperthyroid condition and needed to have some lab work pulled to diagnose it, so that she can get treated. We also needed to start her on some antibiotic eye drops to help with the infection.  As I was going over the estimate with him, I knew he wouldn’t be able to afford it all. He was already crying because we had just told him his cat was very sick and dying.  See why I was so affected by this guy was because he told me that his mother had just died two months ago, and his father passed away a while ago, and he had no brothers and sister. This cat was all he had left and we just told him that she was sick and dying.  It was so hard to see him this torn up and in so many aspects I under stand exactly what he is feeling.  He wouldn’t let me take her to the back and draw her blood; he had to pet her like 100 times first until I finally got to take her out.  He must have said like fifty times that she was his whole world and to treat her kindly.  I kept reassuring him that we would be super nice to her and take good care of her.  The whole time she was away from him he asked about her and watched the door and nervously paced the lobby. It was exactly what you would expect from any worried mother of a child undergoing a medical procedure at the doctor. It was sweet, and like I said before you could see how much she was loved, that was never a question… Denise was an almost perfect patient. She peed all over me as I was doing her blood draw but it’s understandable because she is a cat who is scared so you have to forgive them.  After I was done he asked a million more questions about what the treatments are and how much they cost and like I said before was a little slow to process the info.

People like to argue the power of pets and ownership. They like to think that they are just objects with little or no value. Something that comes and goes with ease. Denise was this guy’s whole world. She is all he has left in the world that matters to him, and that bond is better then probably half the relationship I know.  Its times like this that I really hate the way the universe operates. I mean cut this guy a break already; you leave him with nobody and then make his cat, his only companion left, to be sick and maybe dying… That’s so unfair of you.   I feel for him because I know that he is going to have a hard time being able to treat her for hyperthyroidism if that is what she has. Its going to be a tough road but I know that he wants to do everything he can for her because of how much he loves her.  I have a lot on my plate right now… But Denise and her owner have sparked an idea in me about another volunteer opportunity I should look into doing. I have a lot of skills in things like cat pilling and others like stuff, I wonder if there is a service out there where I can maybe stop by people, like this guy, who have no one else and help him give her meds.  I’m not saying I’m going to jump out and do it right now, but I’m keeping it in the back of my mind for the future. So anyways tonight I am hoping that her bloodwork comes back with something very simple, so that we don’t have to make this poor guy feel any more worry then we already have about cute and much loved Denise.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts on death

I have never handled death very good. I mean I guess part of why I think that is, is because I have only had to deal with it a few times in my life. I mean the most obvious case is my father dying. And I have never felt that I handled that situation very well, but I mean it’s not like there is this set of rules you’re supposed to follow. I just know that I allowed myself to become distant and close down as soon as he got sick, and after he passed I shut myself off completely pretending that things were the exact same. Its wasn’t until years later I had my first real honest cry about loosing my father. And now I think I have this hyper grief going on where I still find things about him or him being gone that make me tear up frequently.  It’s weird, I have partly chalked it up to age, because I was a preteen when he died, and at that point in your life you don’t have much of a handle on your emotional state. But I also think part of it is due to the fact that until that event, I never really lost someone or something close to me.

My Grandpa died when I was young like a little kid. He lived in Wisconsin and although we saw him, it wasn’t like he saw him very regularly.  The one time that sticks out is when we (my brother and I) spent all this time cleaning the cellar once while we were visiting, and as a reward he gave us like a quarter apiece to spend as we please. It was soooo not worth it. Sad that I remember my grandpa as a penny pitching old man. LOL But I remember coming home from ballet practice and having my mom tell me that he died. I hugged her and I cried.  But it didn’t seem all that awful. I remember being at the funeral and having my cousin Kevin crack me up and give me piggy back rides and called me Maavee (which I hated!). It was fun actually… Weird that even then I had this pretend nothing bad happened mentality in place.  When I was about the same age I remember putting my family dog to sleep Mr. Moot. He was old I guess, and other then that I’m not able to recall if he had other issues he was fighting. Again it was sad and I cried but I was quickly able to recover from it and was back to playing soon afterward.

When I started to have my own animals is when I started to show a little more emotion towards their passing. I mean both my cats that have died have been grieved greatly. My dog Bandit, who I just recently was hit with one of those waves of grief about, is a constant sad thought in my brain.  But I think it’s the fact that I don’t know many immediate people in my life that have passed away, that make me weary about how my handling skills really are. Ok so why am I bringing all this up anyways. Well it’s because one of my riders who I have been helping to ride at the horse place I volunteer at, named Alana is dying of cancer and the other day it hit me that I was really upset about it.  See Alana is this super awesome woman who is a survivor in every definition of the word. She was always a confident rider and being that she has rode horses for 35 years, many times got to be a leader in the class, choosing the drills and tasks for the rest of the class. Alana has had a rough life to say the least. She is in a wheel chair full time and has had many surgeries on various body parts, over the years. I’m pretty sure that she initially had a head injury that took away her ability to walk and talk, but I have never really known for sure. She is one of the kindest and funniest people I have ever met. She makes jokes and sarcastic comments about the people she is close with. She is sweet and kind and really just an incredibly genuine woman.  She has never shown any sort of pity about her life or situation. She just moves forward being a survivor and finding ways for her to accomplish things she wants to do. She faces adversity head on and I have always admired her for not being weak.

I have been her volunteer for the last 9 months and at the beginning of this most recent session; one of the staff members pulled me and another of Alana’s long time volunteers aside and told us the news. Alana had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and she is unable to have treatment, because of her other issues so it is going to kill her. She is going to get weaker and weaker but they want to allow her to ride for a long as she is able, although it’s going to affect how her abilities and stamina will be. It was heartbreaking news and especially for someone who had faced so many challenges already in life. Alana made it clear that she didn’t want everyone to know, but because we were close to her it was best that we did.  She also didn’t want any sort of pity about her and she is not one what wants to seek out pity if it’s given. She just wants people to treat her as normal and as they always do.  I can understand that just from my own life experiences and so I and the other woman readily agreed.  Over the last few weeks she has indeed gotten weaker and weaker. She needs to take more frequent breaks, depends more and more on me as her side walker to really push her body up for support, and she has last a ton of weight and has a very prominent yellow tinge to her skin.  But week after week she comes and rides knowing that its something she can use as an escape from her demons in life. Horses are so accepting; they have no expectations and require little in return. They are a great healer. Last Monday Alana was at the worst I have ever seen her. She didn’t make it very long until she asked to dismount saying that continuing was too hard on her body. She knows she has good and bad days and this was a bad one. I could tell that it was very upsetting to her and to be honest I felt so heartbroken for her as well.

I remember being around 13 and even then I was kind of a snoopy kid. I commonly read trash and recycle letters and papers, seeing if I could discover some hidden info.  One day I discovered this letter to my grandma that my father wrote. It was after he had been diagnosed and starting to show signs of his illness. He talked about how he had to stop doing certain things because of his health he went in to detail about it in this letter and I could feel his pain even with reading it… It was really sad to read.  Because it was really the first time that it hit me,; that knowing there are things out there, that you love doing, and want to do, but having the inability to actually do them, has to suck. It’s like your already sick and dying, but super suck that you have to give up all the things you love as well. That was really the first time I felt the real reality of what my dad was going through and I was really sad that he wasn’t this man anymore. He was no longer the soccer ref, or fisherman, or photographer. He was just sick and dying now. A shell of whom he used to be and as much as I know he would never have wanted to be thought of as that way he knew it.  Being 13 this knowledge hit me hard and honestly that was probably part of why I pulled away from my father so much. I didn’t want him to stop being all those things to me. I wanted to keep him as that strong capable person as long as I was able.

Alana is starting to become the same way now. She is starting to not be able to get on her horse and ride.  The one thing I know she loves more then anything in the world. The one thing I now makes her truly happy and brings joy to her. But I owe it to her to not do the same thing as I did with my father and pull away from her. It hard for me to face death, I have always thought that I do a crappy job of it. But with Alana I am going to try my very best to not make the same mistakes. Because I want her to know that people love and support her regardless of weather she rides or not. And if she just wants to come pet, groom, or give the horses carrots and hay. I’m going to be right next to her sharing those same experiences with her.  Life isn’t fair… But you can learn and grow and that what I want to do. I’m going to miss her a ton when she is gone. It’s amazing how much she has already touched my life in 9 months.  But she’s not gone yet so I’m not going to give up on her until she is.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another long awaited return to the wild.

In the late summer and early fall, many species of birds undertake a long distance journey.  These travelers move through our neighborhoods and yards en route to warmer latitudes in which they pass the winter months.  Migration is a challenging time for the birds involved, and the routes they travel are fraught with both natural and human-created dangers.  It is also a roundtrip flight, and those birds that arrive safely on their wintering grounds have but a few months to recover before they must face the dangers again on their return journey in the spring. Invariably during these times of mass movement, the Wildlife Center receives feathered travelers that have succumbed to one of the dangers they encountered.  Migration is an unfortunate time to suffer an injury as, depending on the severity, treatment may require a bird to be in care so long that he or she misses the window for migration entirely.  Such was the case for five migratory birds received by the center in the summer of 2010.

One of the poor birds attacked by a cat. See all his wounds?
Three of the birds we received were Black-headed Grosbeaks.  All three were juvenile birds that were attacked by outdoor housecats.  The first was admitted on July 15, just a few weeks before his migration was to begin.  His body was riddled with punctures and lacerations and he was missing some of his flight feathers and all of his tail feathers.  The second and third grosbeaks came in on August 19 and September 12, and both had various puncture wounds and lacerations from their cat encounters.  All three birds required antibiotics and other treatments that pushed their recovery times well beyond when the rest of their kind had vacated the state. The other two injured travelers were Swainson’s Thrushes.  The first arrived on September 7, and the second on September 21.  Both were admitted with head trauma and other injuries resulting from window collisions.  Like the grosbeaks, the thrushes’ recovery period extended beyond their window for migration.  

Releasing the birds long after their migration period had ended would have created major hardship for them.  They might have become confused and stayed in the area, likely perishing during the winter.  On the other hand, they might have tried to continue on their migration.  Traveling out of season, without the added safety of a flock and having just recovered from life-threatening injuries, they would have been unlikely to survive.  Transporting them south by car or airplane was also a risky option.  Not only would that have been extremely stressful for the birds, it would have required guessing, with a high likelihood of error, where the birds’ migration would have ended and then transporting them across state and international borders to get them to that location. Given the available options, the most responsible choice was to keep the birds in our care until the rest of their kind returned to the state in the spring.  This would allow us to release them in the right place at the right time, and the birds would not be faced with migration until several months after their release.  So, while their fellow flock members continued south to winter in the tropics, the five wayward travelers at the center settled in for what promised to be a very long winter layover.  

And it was a long winter.  In fact, the cold days stretched well into spring; but the birds thrived with a little assistance from the staff in the form of several heat lamps that were strategically placed in their aviary.  While they were no real substitute for the tropical sun, they were clearly welcomed by the grosbeaks and thrushes.  The birds regularly basked under the lamps throughout the winter and early spring as they waited patiently for the warmth of the sun, as well as others of their species, to return to Washington State. In mid-May, Black-headed Grosbeaks and Swainson’s Thrushes came flooding back into the Northwest from their southern wintering grounds, and it was time for those that had been left behind to rejoin them.  As the forested property is a well-used stopover point for migratory birds, the releases took place just outside the aviary door this last week. 

Watching us from the roof right after being released.
The two thrushes that had spent the winter wasted no time dawdling when they were released.  One vanished into the high branches of a Big-leaf Maple tree while the other disappeared into a low tangle of ferns and bushes nearby.  Two of the Black-headed Grosbeaks were released at the same time, and both of them lingered for a short while to get their bearings.  One of them took an interest in the local plant life, nibbling first on the budding leaves of an alder and then those of a nearby maple.  The other grosbeak landed on top of an aviary adjacent to the one that had contained him.  He looked around inspecting his surroundings and the nearby humans who had been his captors.  Eventually both birds disappeared into the forest, returning to the correct place both in time and space. So, what of the third Black-headed Grosbeak? He is still with us hopping around the centers massive grounds.  He is the bird that had lost many of his feathers, and he did not begin to grow new ones until spring arrived and brought with it a hormonal shift.  But they are growing now, and by the time you read this it is very likely that he will have followed his former cage mates back to the world in which he belongs.  When he and the four other survivors begin their long journey south in the fall, I hope that they will arrive at their destination safely, with no repeat of the trauma that brought them to the Wildlife Center.  You can assist them in their migration by doing your part to keep them safe from cats, windows and other human-created dangers they may encounter along the way.     
after being released one sampled the local vegetation.