Dear devoted readers — we are terribly sorry to have neglected you, although, as most of you know, we have a good excuse.
The weekend after I returned from Taiwan we got a phone call from a pet rescue organization that I am volunteering with. Japan cat network traps cats (and also dogs) that were orphaned or abandoned after the tsunami and nuclear disaster. Some of these animals have people who are living in temporary housing and can be matched back up with their owners, although they have to live in the shelter/foster homes until their people get back to permanent housing where they’re allowed to have pets. The organization needed a foster home for a group of 3 kittens and their mother, and so after some discussion we agreed.
The kittens are adorable, and we renamed them (since I couldn’t remember the Japanese names they had before) Byron, Keats, and Shelley, since their mom’s Japanese name is Po. They were 3 months old when we got them, and totally hyper, so we spent a lot of time that week kitten-proofing the apartment. Their favorite caper is scaling the curtains and then doing a balance-beam routine across the rod. Seeing as our curtains are currently government issue, and we end up paying out the ear if we destroy them, we had to replace all of them with more sturdy curtains we don’t mind if they destroy.
Then the next weekend I headed up to Inawashiro, in Fukushima prefecture, to volunteer at JCN’s shelter. I took photos for the shelter to help them get the animals adopted, and also did a lot of cleaning and organizing the boxes of donated cat foot, litter, etc. I felt helpful, which was great, and I hope that the photos will help some of these sweet animals find families.
Unfortunately, the last day I was there, one of the animals got really spooked, I walked into their enclosure, and it flew at me, trying to get out the door. I put my hands out in front of me, instinctively, and the cat bit my thumb. I reached around to pull it off by the back of the neck, and it twisted around and bit my other thumb. In the process I got some other bites and a lot of scratches, and the cat ultimately escaped.
Since there are only a few busses from Inwashiro to Tokyo, and one of them was leaving imminently, I just washed the wounds really well and jumped a bus. I startled the hell out of the woman sitting next to me on the bus (who turned out to be very friendly, she was on her way to France with her two daughters to meet up with her husband who works there, and then take a vaca in Italy. Mostly I was impressed with my ability to have this conversation in very broken Japanese.) but by the time I got back to Tokyo 3 hours later, I’d spiked a pretty nasty fever. Cat bites are particularly toxic, and since the bites were very deep it had basically injected an infection deep into my fingers. Jen took me to the ER that evening, looking up such choice words as “bite” “swollen” “antibiotic” and “puss” in Japanese on her phone. They cleaned me up, gave me an antibiotic and a painkiller, and sent me off.
At any rate, I am now healing up fine, but I had inoperative hands for a few days. Turns out opposable thumbs are sortof important. Jen kept telling people I was a panda — between the lack of gripping skills and the painkillers I was a touch pathetic. Typing was not really doable, hence the lack of blog. But I did watch a lot of Olympics and cuddle the kittens plenty. And there you have it — my somewhat longwinded excuse for being absent for nearly a month!
Jess and Tim came to visit for a few weeks, and very nicely helped us distract and wear out the kittens, and then Jess, Tim, and Jen all went down to Hiroshima over the weekend to visit Jordan and Miki. Meanwhile Po (mama cat) had a health problem over the weekend, and I had to find a last minute ride to a vet an hour away. Fortunately Kris came to the rescue (even though he’s deathly allergic — we rode down there with all the windows open.) Once again, Jen helped with some bizarre medical vocabulary (stitches, hernia, vaccination) but this time over the phone with the vet. All the cats were fixed in the process, and came home with stitches, which they promptly tried to start pulling out with their teeth. We sat up with them through the first night, but they were persistent so we had to make plastic head-cones for them, which made them miserable, but at least not damaging themselves. They were really very sweet about all of it though, and just wanted to cuddle with us and get comfort. We gave in to their sweetness at that point and let them sleep with us, which they did for a night or two, but as soon as they started feeling better, they started rampaging over us while we were sleeping. Jen will sleep through anything, but I wasn’t able to sleep at all. So it was a long week with very little sleep involved.
So then this last week has been full of taiko practice, since Saturday was Friendship Day where thousands of people come to our compound for food, beer, and entertainment. My taiko group played, and I played one of the lead roles for one of the songs, and was playing in a another new hard piece, so we did lots of rehearsing since we’d been off all summer. The performance went well, but we will post video in our next post, along with a writeup of Sunday’s dance-festival fun. Stay tuned!