Comet’s Big Secret

Comet blended in well with the rocks in our yard.

Comet blended in well with the rocks in our yard.

This morning we made the very painful decision to euthanize Comet, whom many of you know as my furson and boy cat. Comet had developed a gallbladder blockage and jaundice. People can have their gallbladders removed. According to Dr. Sox at the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Center of Hawaii, cats don’t survive the surgical procedure very well. We tried antibiotics and prednisone (yes, I guess animals can be treated with steroids, too), but Comet didn’t improve. The gallbladder could burst at any given moment, so we made this decision based on what the outlook would be for Comet’s quality of life. Days and nights were spent under our bed, with trips to the water bowl and kitty litter box, and back. Minimal socialization. Kitty Girl hissed because Comet smelled “different.” 

Comet's first visit to the doctor.

Comet’s first visit to the doctor.

Three weeks ago when we took Comet in to see Dr. Sox we were informed that our Comet was a GIRL. Comet and her two sisters were born in our garage 10 years ago. I caught them in the have-a-heart trap one at a time, took them to the Humane Society and promised to take care of these feral kittens. In exchange they were spayed. Comet’s paperwork indicated she was a he and neutered. Go figure. Everyone makes a mistake with paperwork, right? It never occurred to me in all these years to part the fur and see for myself. And when cats are kittens it’s really hard to tell if there are fuzzy little balls or just a butt down there. 

Kitty Girl, the last of three Bender kitty siblings, aka, Chief of Security.

Kitty Girl, the last of three Bender kitty siblings, aka, Chief of Security.

It was quite a shock for us to receive this news. Not that we were disappointed, it’s just that Comet was such a boy in our eyes. Comet came with a frisky trot when called, could never pull off being aloof, and enjoyed sneaking up and pouncing on Kitty Girl whenever the opportunity presented itself. When tom cats would come into the garage and eat their food, Kitty Girl was the one who mixed it up with them. Maybe it was because she was in charge of security, but Comet rarely opened more than an eye when the toms came by. And I was pretty certain Comet was one of the guys, so to speak, as they’d hang out in the backyard together. Tom cats stink, so I always chased them away. 

So after Comet was outted as a she instead of a he, we adjusted our pronouns. We couldn’t care less. I just think we would have raised her differently had we known she was a chubby chick instead of a big guy. I always gave my boy cat extra brisk full body massages. Maybe I would have been gentler had I known Comet was a she. 

I’d lie if I didn’t say I cried all the way home. Losing Comet — this cat who stood on her hind legs to stroke her face along my hands, the cat who always gardened with me, hung out with me while I wrote on this computer (verklempt this very moment), and loved me unconditionally — has brought me to a very sad place today. 

Our world gives us gracious companions. When I rake the backyard the lizards watch as I stir up bugs for them to eat. When I walk into Kid2’s room, her betta fish swims excitedly just to get me to make duck lips at him. When I go out to harvest some of my vegetables from the garden, Kitty Girl inspects the pots and brushes up against the rosemary. When I swim, ride my bike, or run, I am always watching for the lovely creatures with which we share this planet. 

And I cannot help but be certain that their souls live on and that we shall meet again. Good-bye, sweet Comet. You were our gift. 

Swim with the Fishes

Vertra Elemental Resistance Mick Fanning 28spf facial sunblock and a huge microfiber towel. Mahalo!

Vertra Elemental Resistance Mick Fanning 28spf facial sunblock and a huge microfiber towel. Mahalo!

My second North Shore Swim Series complete, I now look ahead to the Duke Kahanamoku Ocean Mile Swim on August 24, the Waikiki Roughwater Swim on Labor Day, and the Na Wahine Festival in September.

I love and I loathe open ocean swims. I love being in the water, I love the rise and fall of the waves, timing my breathing to be on top and clear to keep my eye on the horizon. I love seeing the fish swim beneath me, the turtles flutter by, the coral heads of blue, orange, and gold growing on giant volcanic boulders that hide secrets in every crevice. And I have to admit I’m a little scared, so that’s what I loathe about ocean swims. You really can never be too comfortable. Honestly, swimming out of one’s comfort zone is what makes ocean swimmers remarkable.

Fun waves at Pipeline at the start. Wheeeeee!

Fun waves at Pipeline at the start. Wheeeeee!

We swim as a pod of people, a school of swimmers, a herd of humans. I often think of those nature documentaries where the hungry beasts of prey take down the easiest, the smallest, and the weakest. Natural selection. Who will it be? What beasts linger along the edges, watching and not bothering with us? Thankfully we don’t taste good.

Courtesy of Steve's Gardening Services, a Native Hawaiian plant for participating in the whole series.

Courtesy of Steve’s Gardening Service, a Native Hawaiian plant, Pohinahina, for participating in the whole series.

A few weeks ago when I was in the Chun’s Reef to Waimea Bay swim and that flutter occurred right beneath me, I was frightened. My friend Barb asked me if it made me ink! Damn near, LOL! I looked up and I was so far from other swimmers. For this last swim I managed to stay inside to avoid much of the current and I kept other swimmers in my sight. It’s kind of trippy when you do these swims. You’re around people and then all of a sudden you’re not. You’re in each other’s way and then the gaps grow.

I expected this last and longest swim to keep me in the water for about two hours. I started off at a good pace and I wondered if I could keep that up for two hours. My coaches at The Oahu Club have really helped me get better with my stroke technique. My head is face down so my legs stay on the surface, I no longer stroke with my hand sliding forward before going down, my elbows peak at the right point to help me conserve energy. My goggles were a little foggy. I could keep track of the buoys this time (I think there were five or six), and I tried to pay attention to where the church tower was. When I got to Waimea Bay with several other swimmers, a water patrol guy pointed us toward the beach. I couldn’t believe it! I was almost done and that church tower didn’t stay in my face for 45 minutes like it did last year!

I poured it on and managed to get out of the water, up the steep sandy beach without falling, and across the timing mat in 01:32:14:4, about 27 minutes faster than last year! Yay! No pics of me coming out of the ocean EVER. OMG those are the worst pictures of anyone! Mercy!!!

The Vertra microfiber towel is thin enough to wear as a scarf! Mahalo, Rae!

The Vertra microfiber towel is thin enough to wear as a scarf! Mahalo, Rae!

One of the really fun things about these swims is that I volunteer to help with the check in with the Waikiki Swim Club, which I joined this year. Talk about a lovely group of people! I don’t know if it’s swimmers in general or ocean swimmers in particular, but these events have a very sweet and friendly vibe about them. WAIT. There is that one part where all that friendliness goes down the tubes: The START, which is about a minute of mosh pit, mash, slash, and splash of limbs and claws. No matter how great I feel at the end of these swims, the beginnings give me anxiety! It’s not like I know I could win, I just want to not finish last! I don’t expect a trophy, but I do like to get back to shore before the Tropilicious ice cream, Jamba Juice, Waialua coffee and chocolates, and North Shore Soap Factory liquid soaps run out! Especially the mint one! And for the grand finale, Steve’s Gardening Service presented each swimmer who participated in all four swims with a Native Hawaiian Plant. I’m still deciding where to put our new Pohinahina!

Speaking of prizes, while I was helping with the check-in, Rae of the Surf and Sea Swim Series let me know that I won a Vertra Elemental Resistance sunscreen gift pack! There was some fun and banter on the S&SSS Facebook page and I was one of three people selected! Scored a great microfiber towel and SPF28 face stick sunblock with surfer Mick Fanning pictured on the box. Mahalo, Rae and Vertra!

And of course, how would any of us get to do these events if it weren’t for Chris Gardner? You can tell he works hard on these events, probably working on sponsorships a year in advance! He’s gotta keep the fishermen happy, the lua company in line, the buses running on time, all the while talking on his PA system, blowing the horn at the start, coordinating results from Timeline Hawaii before announcing winners and giving out trophies. A weekend without Chris is kind of a drag! It was especially touching that Chris gave out awards in honor of Mark Foo and Ronnie Burns, two of his dear surfer friends who died too soon. I remember Mark and Ronnie. Those guys surfed fearlessly.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re swimming in the open ocean. You count your blessings. You reflect with gratitude. Swimming is such a gift.

Distant Journaling on a Bad Storm.


Start the month right. Give each day a little blog entry. Kiss October’s round and orange jack-o-lantern butt buh-bye. Its moon wanes, high, still a bit bright, and it hangs with Jupiter and Venus in the morning darkness when the … Continue reading