Okay, this is totally off-topic of business, craft, art or anything except general life craziness.

I have to write this rambling essay, because my husband said I had to. He said if I overlooked the chance to write a blog with the above title, he would write it himself.

Years ago we had a friend who was a serial pet owner. She would get pets and a year later, decide they were too weird and give them away. We inherited a pair of male cockatiels from her, named, ironically, Bella and Zoe. Which confuses our vets to this day.

Fortunately, we caught on the the “serial” aspect before we also inherited another cat and two very large dogs from her, too.

On top of all the other panics and health alarms going on in my life right now, one of the cockatiels, Bella, fell gravely ill recently. I found him fluffed up and trembling on his perch. I called a local vet who specializes in exotic pets. Just for your information, the word “exotic” in a business name is usually synonymous with “expensive.”

And so began a round of (very) expensive vet visits, on top of the flurry of MRI’s, x-rays and other doctor visits centered around my “lumpy neck” thing.

Bella’s symptoms worsened–paralyzed feet, lack of appetite. More tests were done, with no results. It was awful to see him deteriorate from a saucy, sassy, chirpy bird to a sad, quiet little creature.

Trying to keep all the doctor visits straight became an exercise in futility. I missed two consults with a foot doctor, who was going to find out why one foot hurts so much and why there’s a lump on the Achilles tendon on the other.

The bird doc prescribed a “holistic vitamin supplement” for Bella. They were out of it, but were going to get more in the following Friday. I was supposed to pick it up on my way to riding. But I had to reschedule my missed foot doc appointment, and she scheduled another MRI, this one for my foot, on Friday, so I didn’t go riding. So I didn’t drive by the vet on the way and I didn’t pick up the supplement. Got that?

On Monday I saw the foot doc for a follow-up. That’s when I found my Achilles tendon is compromised and in danger of rupturing. I was fitted immediately for something called a “cam locker”, a sort of air cast for immobilizing my foot. You can see a beautiful version here. Note how well it goes under jeans and normal clothing. (NOT)

It also elevates my right foot about 1.5″, necessitating me wearing a heel shoe on my left foot so I don’t lurch down the street like a seadog.

Temperatures are supposed to be in the 90’s the next few days. I’ll be wearing shorts (yay!), an air cast with a full-calf stocking on my right leg (boo hoo), and a heeled shoe on my left foot (double boo hoo.)

Now, I’d just taken off two months from my last surgery. I’m carrying..uh…a little extra weight. I was anxious about being inactive another month. “Can I ride?”, I asked the foot doc. No. “Can I climb?” No. “Can I walk?” Yes. “Can I swim?” Yes. “Can I do tae kwon do?” No. “Can I do some stuff in tae kwon do? Stretches? Balance work? Forms??” In exasperation, she said, “Whatever you can do while wearing that cast, you can do in tae kwon do.”

When I got home, I found the order I’d placed three months ago for little steel stands (for my sculptures), was not going to be done in time to finish two orders. In desperation, I asked the metal guy if he could cut down some taller stands so I could finish the orders. He said he could, if I came out immediately.

I was irked. The original order had been lost, then found. Then made up to the wrong specs. I took them anyway, but reordered the size I still needed. When I got the invoice for the mistakes, I found I’d been charged almost 50% more–because “the order was so small” and the set-up charges were high. I was a little irked when I got out there. He knew. He stopped what he was working on to recut my stands immediately.

While he did that, an elderly woman came by for what he was working on. It was a funky handmade woodstove pipe cover he was supposed to be repairing for her. While he cut down my stands, we chatted and she told me about the cover. It looked handmade–uneven, old, rusted, bent. She said it was really old, and had been repaired several times by different people. Our metal guy had already repaired the clips for it last year, and now he was reattaching the old rusted flange.

It looked like the kind of repair job that would drive almost anyone crazy. From her conversation, I didn’t think she had a lot of money, and wasn’t expecting to pay very much for the repair. She was also impatient. She said snippily to me, “He said it would be ready in a hour!”

I wanted to tell her I’d waited three months for my order, but that suddenly felt like tattling.

I felt sorry for the guy. I was just one of a myriad such fussy little orders he said “yes” to, because he wanted to help people with, for not very much money. He obviously found it hard to say no to the jobs he really didn’t have time to take on. It was time, I realized, to either wait to submit work during his slow seasons, or to find someone else who could more easily work with a “small potatoes” client like me. Metal guy was relieved I understood.

I thanked him for the cut-downs and left. I spent the rest of the afternoon finding someone else who could better deal with my little stands. I found someone, and shipped off samples that afternoon.

I remember that I forgot to pick up the miracle holistic vitamins for Bella. I drive out to the expensive–I mean, exotic–vet, and pick it up.

I kept checking in on Bella. He looked the same. I decided to go to tae kwon do that night.

I couldn’t do much. But I did a jillion sit-ups and wall push-ups. I did strength work. I did balance work. I did stretches. I felt good about persevering through yet another injury.

But while I was gone, Bella died.

I felt awful. If I’d known he was that close, I would have stayed with him. I cried a little, wrapped him in a cloth napkin, and found a shoe box to bury him in.

I asked my son to dig yet another hole in the back yard for our latest pet casualty. He said he would.

But he forgot.

I asked him if he could do it before he left for school on Tuesday, and he said he would.

But he forgot again.

So on Tuesday morning, I’m lurching around the house and finding I can barely get up and down stairs with my new clubbed foot. A friend who’s a carpenter was over repairing a door jamb in my studio that was rotted out. He called me out repeatedly to share increasingly disturbing revelations about the extent of the damage. It had permeated the huge timber foundation my studio is built on. It went further back than he thought–he was going to have to replace that entire section. It was worse than he thought–there were carpenter ants. Uh oh…a huge NEST of carpenter ants. He was going to have to spray immediately, even before we could get an exterminator.

As he headed to the hardware store to get deadly poisonous spray for the carpenter ants, I realized our chickens are only a few feet away from where he’ll be spraying. So is my surviving, cockatiel, Zoe. We’d better move them! We set up a temporary cage in our mudroom for the chickens. When Doug got home from school, he and I chase chickens and carry them to the mudroom. I also haul Zoe’s cage out there–all this in the air cast, mind you.

As I rush through the dining room, I see the little shoebox with Bella, still on the table. “Dang!”, I think. Doug still hasn’t dug a hole! I remind him again. He says he’ll do it later.

Jon decides we need to go out to dinner. Doug says he’ll go, but Jon has to finish something first. By the time he’s ready, Doug doesn’t want to go. He says he’s no longer hungry. I find out why later. The large “party size” container of roasted red pepper hummous is gone. So is a new box of party crackers. And an entire loaf of bread. Living with a teen-aged boy is like living with a bear who’s fattening up for hibernation. A lot of food disappears steadily into a very gruff and fuzzy creature who only speaks in grunts and disappears for long bouts of sleep in a dark and smelly cave.

Jon and I go to Subway alone. I bring the leftover half of my sub home to Doug. He eats it immediately. I notice the shoebox with Bella is still on the dining room table. I beg Doug to dig a hole. He says he will.

I remember that I’ve forgotten to attend a good friend’s artist presentation at a local gallery. DANG!!

We do some other household chores, and Doug trundles off to bed. Jon and I settle in to watch TV. Or rather, we settle in to our usual fight about what we’re going to watch on TV. I’m a serious CSI addict. He prefers the unrelenting, unresolved tension of 24. We snipe about each other’s curious drama preferences. Finally, yawning, it’s time to go to bed.

In the dining room, Bella’s shoebox coffin is now suspiciously on the floor, and our two large cats flee with that hunkered down posture that, in cats, denotes a guilty conscience.

The box is still closed, thank goodness! But in the midst of air casts and warped walks, carpenter ants and potentially poisoned chickens, we had left out for grabs the most enticing feathered toy you could ever present to two formerly feral cats.

That they had merely swatted the box around and not actually gotten in and used Bella as the ultimate cat toy, may have indicated their restraint.

Or maybe just how hard it was to get the box open.

But it’s then I exclaim those immortal words:

“Ohmigod! Nobody buried Bella!”