October 18, 2009

More Critters, Close Quarters & One Castration

Eighteen days ago we moved into the small, unfurnished, unpainted and somewhat unfinished apartment attached to what will soon be our new home.
So far, so good.
Sort of.

I don't know what it is that attracts the critters to a new abode, but as of this writing the death toll is as follows: two enormous, hairy, well fed, juicy Tarantulas; two teen-aged Tarantulas; one poisonous caterpillar; no children (so far), and a snake that got away from my shovel.

Quarters are cramped and damp, not unlike boat living, and everything is covered in a fine dust generated from the many workers sanding ceiling wood, cutting tile, mixing cement. Until we got the cement poured, we were surrounded by a moat of mud that turned slurry with the afternoon rains.

The ear shattering sanding, filing, pounding, hammering and sawing begins at 7:00 a.m. and grinds on till around dinner time. Larry, who of course works right along side the crew, has developed his own charming and slightly boisterous style of speaking Spanish to them. He can be heard for at least a block exclaiming "Bueno! Bueno!" in approval.

I spend my days dusting and tidying, endlessly washing the floor, or gathering up outdoor rubble. But mostly, and oddly, I'm happy and handling it. This is not to say that I don't have an occasional meltdown. But I know that we'll have more room soon and it's really up to me to maintain a happy flow for the family. If I'm not happy, I'll make everyone around me suffer, and I just don't want to do that.

William is, of course, in heaven. He took one look at the small and shabby apartment and exclaimed "Oh Mom. This is a beautiful house!" What more can an 11 year old want than a street chock full of kids, dogs, horses, chickens, passing Ngobe natives and trucks loaded up fat with onions and other farm goods. Our neighbor sells home made strawberry icy's and there is a perpetual leaky pipe on the street that makes for more fun with water.

In the midst of the semi-controlled chaos, it became clear that our dog Petey had to be fixed. And no, it couldn't wait. Petey had gone from loving our kitty in a respectable and brotherly fashion, to practically licking and humping her to death.

It turns out that having your pet fixed in Panama is almost as easy as running to the store for a quart of milk. I'm not exaggerating. I tossed the dog into the car for the four minute car ride up a bumpy road to the house/office of Chely the vet.

Two hours and twenty-five bucks later, Senor Petey was a Senorita. My only instructions were to keep him quiet and make sure he takes it easy. Okay I thought to myself. This is a joke.

Petey, who initially appeared to be undaunted by the surgical removal of most of his genitalia, continued to springboard happily around the backyard, bouncing like a reindeer on a trampoline, ferociously tearing his head from side to side as he tried to rip apart the stuffy bear clamped in his jaws. And he did this for three days, until his wound was bleeding and swollen.

When I couldn't keep him calm and couldn't stand the suffering any longer, I did the only logical thing any Ballard girl would do. (No, I didn't give him a cocktail.) I did what my Dad taught me to do. I gave him a pill.

Okay, big oops. Turns out you're not supposed to give IBU Profin to a puppy.
(Of course, I didn't go on the internet till after I had shoved it down his gullet.)

The Yahoo reports weren't encouraging. Apparently I had done the unthinkable and by midnight we could expect Petey to be in full renal failure.

I went into a Lizzy  tizzy and frantically called my good friend Nairn, who, according to her husband, is saving the world one dog at a time by rescuing them. Nairn had actually saved Petey from a life of dog drudgery, leter entrusting his life to me, the idiot chick from Connecticut who gave him people painkillers. Nairn knows from dogs.  I apparently don't know from Adam.

Big "Phew" sigh of relief. According to Nairn's research, the dose was very small and Petey would survive. Nevertheless, I spent the entire night pinching Petey awake every half hour.
So, this morning? I'm beat.

And what of Petey? He woke up at 6:00, tended as best he could to the remains of his private parts, downed an enormous breakfast, charged out the back door, sprang three feet into the air and began to lick the cat silly.


Michael said...

Love your blog about living in a "small town Panama cloud forest that doesn't even have a movie theater." We're headed that way with our two boys (8 & 9) next year.

Elizabeth Ballard Slagle said...

Wow. Email me when you are on your way: ebslagle@hotmail.com.

Steve said...

Hi Elizabeth,
THIS is SOOOOOO COOL!! Funny how much we have in common as I too have the building blood in me. My four boys, deceased husband, and I built 3 homes from the ground up. And the places that we rented along the way! One day, and when things settle down, we can share some of those stories. Keeping the vision and knowing what the prize will be at the end is what held our momentum together. Great work to all of you... and I do mean WORK!!!


News About The Boys

Mrs. Bliss told us there is a caterpillar here that is pink and fuzzy, and, if you touch it, its fur will stick in your skin and sting you! This happened to her daughter, Aylana. It was very painful and they had to pull the fibers out using tape! There are also scorpions and snakes, but I think there are more poisonous snakes in Florida.

William is busy, busy. In the morning he does his home schooling (Dad is his teacher!). Then, around 9:00 he rushes happily off to the local, Catholic, Spanish-only school where he audits the 4th grade! He's been doing some skim boarding but we are seriously missing the skating. Surfing looms in the near future. For a change we finally have kids on our street to play with, (not to mention dogs and roosters, snakes, toads, etc.) and it is wonderful making new friends. Still, William really misses his friends and family back in Sarasota. It's wonderful to get messages from the folks back home.

We send a special "Hello How Are Ya?" back to Nolen, Max, Connor, Emily W. and Teah!

Larry is Mr. Handy! Between homeschooling and making repairs on the house, he is never without something to do. And we have gone from never seeing him, to having him around all the time. Hmmmmmm.....

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