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Just a Cat

September 26, 2015 4 comments

My cat died.

Here’s my story.  She was nineteen years old and has been slowing down for the last couple years.  One night after dinner, her back legs collapsed.  She had previously had some trouble in her back legs, one would assume arthritis.  But on this night, she didn’t regain control.  A quick Google search prepared me for the worst.  The next morning, I begged off work and took her to the vet where an enormously expensive series of tests confirmed what I suspected.  She was in kidney failure, and there was nothing more to do.  I made the decision to put her to sleep right then.  You see, she never gained any control of her legs, and the tests confirmed that she was also dehydrated and feeling pretty rotten.  So as much as it hurt to make that tough call, my heart could not tolerate leaving her to suffer.

Long story short, my cat died.  I petted her and talked to her until she stopped breathing.  I made arrangements for her cremation.  Then I went home to drop off my sad, empty cat carrier and fix my mascara and then I went to work.

Let me be clear.  I didn’t want to go to work.  I wanted to sit down by myself and cry, mourn and grieve for my loss.  I wanted to sit still and remember all the sweet moments with this little creature who shared nearly half of my life with me.  Who slept beside me every single night.  Who walked on my neck to wake me up if I slept too late.  Who instinctively knew when I was sad and comforted me better than any human I’ve ever known.

But that’s frowned upon in this society.  If a person died, no one would question me taking a couple of days off work.  There’s even a corporate policy for that.  I’m sorry to say that I don’t love most people half as much as I loved that cat, but society places an awfully low value on the relationships we have with our pets.  My life has not been the same since I lost her.  I don’t sleep well.  I keep thinking I see her sleeping on my bed.  Every time I open the pantry, I see the leftover cans of soft food we gave her when she started to lose weight.  I miss her so awfully that even thinking about it brings me to tears these weeks later.  And I don’t mean silent weeping.  I mean the kind of soul-shaking ugly cry that you normally only see on hospital dramas.  But I feel foolish.  Because she was just a cat, right?  Cats die all the time.  And it’s true.  I’ve lost two other cats previously, and that wasn’t easy, either.  But.  She was nineteen.  I rescued her when she was found on the side of the road at four weeks old, sick and abandoned.  She was my companion for all of her life and half of mine.  And now she’s just gone.

I miss her terribly and I suspect that I will continue to miss her for a very long time.  Even though she was just a cat.  Just a cat who tried to sleep on my throat every night.  Who snuggled into my arms like a human baby.  Who stole the occasional tuna snack from the other cats.  Who loved me most and best for all of her life.  Who came into my life when I was barely into my twenties and newly married and traveled my journey by my side until I was old enough to have a kid driving.  Who outlived two other cats and tolerated two others, plus an obnoxious dog.  Who gave my children dirty looks for all of her life because she had seniority.  Who I could always count on to be by my side, no matter the circumstances.

Those of us who love pets will, at some time, have to say goodbye to them.  And we have to mourn quietly, because they were only animals and most people won’t understand our grief.  Anyone would understand the horrific pain if we lost a friend of nineteen years, but they expect me to be fine now.  Because she was just a cat.

What they don’t understand is that I just lost a friend of nineteen years.

squeakysleep

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The Luna Diaries, Episode 2 – Matrix Kitty

September 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Life with a kitten is trying.  When we brought Luna home, she literally could barely walk.  She fell down a lot and toddled around adorably.  However, within mere weeks, she learned the sheer joy of pouncing and leaping upon all the things and so the reign of Matrix Kitty began.

Things Luna has learned about pouncing and leaping:

  1. Cheese will take only so much of this nonsense before he body slams her and bites her throat.
  2. Pouncing on invisible items results in general ridicule.
  3. Penny does not fight back.

Babykitty may be young, but she’s no dummy.  She most often chooses the path of least resistance and straight up bullies my poor dog.

Let me explain about Penny.  She’s a creature of peace and love.  When Luna first arrived, Penny immediately adopted her and cuddled and snuggled with the poor helpless little creature.  She has lived with cats her whole life, but she has never before encountered the terrifying chaos of life with a kitten.  I can’t begin to imagine the confusion that is her life as this tiny little fluffball chases her around the house, trying to bite her ears.

Luna’s special attacks:

  1. The Matrix – a specialty move that involved leaping over Penny’s head, flipping off of her back and then launching a full attack upon the pug butt.
  2. The Dusty Rhodes – an impressive flying leap off of furniture (or the top rope, if you will) onto Penny as she walks by, unsuspecting.
  3. The Ninja – The sneak attack in which Luna materializes out of thin air to bite Penny’s fat rolls
  4. The Speedbag – Wherein Luna corners Penny and launches herself at her face, repeatedly, with an unmatched speed.

IMG_20150828_184445 (1)

Meanwhile, Penny just endures each attack with a scampering run and a very worried look.  While I feel for the poor dog, I can’t help but be entertained by a three-month-old kitten terrorizing a thirty pound pug.  I do have to give her props, though.  Even though Luna really deserves a solid dog smack, Penny still loves her, even allowing her to take a single green bean off her dinner plate every night and even sharing the occasional nap.  I can’t decide if she’s just the sweetest-tempered dog on the planet or if Cheese has convinced her that cats are, in fact, superior and to be feared.

The latter seems most likely.

Cheese the Fearsome

Cheese the Fearsome

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What Had Happened Was…

August 9, 2015 1 comment

So a few months ago I tried to revive this blog and after a stilted and stunted few posts, I threw in the towel.  What had happened was…I broke my laptop.  I was sitting at the computer desk in the office typing like a regular person.  Friends, regular person behavior is not conducive to the creative process.  Not my kind of creative process, anyway.  Besides which, while I was stewing in my creative juices, the children were hanging on me, waiting to hijack the computer for such important ventures as Call of Duty and YouTube video watching.  Anywho…here I am for another shot at it, because my kind and generous Hubs got overly excited by tax-free school shopping and bought me a nifty little Chrome Book for my birthday.  When I attempted to decline, he said, “You can blog.  You NEED that.”

Oh dear.  I’m going crackers and I can’t even hide it anymore.  Okay, then.  I get a fun new toy and here I am all slouched in my chair-and-a-half with my feet propped up and my dog sleeping ten inches away from my head.  Which is a relief, actually, but I’ll get into that in a minute.  The point is, I’m comfy and happy and ready to jump back into this poor, long-neglected blog.  I still regularly encounter things and think, “I should write about that.”  Then I don’t and all those piles of irony and ridiculous just build up inside my head and make me do things like roast chicken breasts for eighteen hours.  (True story. No one got chicken salad on that sad day.)

Okay, so you’re no doubt wondering why it’s a relief that the dog is ten inches from my head.  The short answer is because she spends so much time zero inches from my head.  Allow me to elaborate.

These guys...

These guys…

We have four pets now, three cats and the dog.  The kitten sleeps with my daughter, praise the Lord, because she creates drama and conflict of some kind with every other creature in this house.  That leaves two cats and a dog.  Plus two generously sized adult people.  All sleeping in ONE bed.  They have not yet made a bed large enough to hold all of us comfortably, but if that weren’t enough, here’s the rub (ha).  Each of the animals feels as though they must be touching me in order to sleep.  Squeaky, my elderly cat, has spent many years sleeping beside my shoulder, occasionally curled up in my armpit, or any time she can get away with it, draped across my throat like a living scarf.  Cheese, the antisocial cat, doesn’t care for me that much, but completely adores Squeaky, therefore he sleeps against my leg, or on my feet, if I would just be still for a minute.  They are both on the edge of the bed, so if, God forbid, I need to get up, I literally have to wade through a field of cats, because let me tell you, once they’re comfortable, they are NOT moving.  Until recently, Penny has been content to sleep at the foot of the bed between Hubs and I.  Slightly annoying, since I can’t move my feet, but since Cheese is known to bite things which annoy him, I’ve learned to keep my feet still anyway.  But since Penny is the Pretty Pretty Princess of dogs and thereby entitled to only the best of all things in life, she has taken to sneaking onto my pillows after I fall asleep.  So pretty much every day I awaken wearing a pug hat.  I cannot describe the discomfort this has created in my neck and shoulder.  I mean, she’s not a delicate creature.  I’m wearing a 25 lb hat every night.

It is not like this AT ALL

It is not like this AT ALL

All of these things have caused me to legitimately start dreading bedtime and I can’t figure out what to do about it.  I can move them, but they just move back the minute I drift off to dreamland.  Some of you may be wondering why I don’t just close the bedroom door, with the animals on the outside.  Those of you who wonder that have never experienced the chaos and cacophony three jilted pets can create.  I mean, I went on vacation for one week and Squeaky puked on everything I own.  And you want me to kick her out of the bed?  My God, I’d have to sleep with one eye open.

So, I’ve got that going on.  In addition to that, I took a personality test and discovered that I’m INFJ-T.  Apparently that means that I don’t like to talk to people and I’m empathetic.  Things I already knew, so I’m not sure what I had hoped to learn from that.  I’m also spending my last day in my thirties today, and praying in earnest that my forties will be better because the last decade has nearly done me in and I’ve taken just about all I can.  On that note, my pastor preached on the New Covenant and God’s grace today and I’m looking forward to finding some alone time to reflect on that.  It’s pretty darn exciting for me, because as hard as I may try, I am not good enough on my own and I desperately need Jesus.  (I’ve been told that on more than one occasion by a coworker, but that’s probably not the way she meant it.  My work environment tends to bring out the unholy in me.  I’m working on that.)

newcovenant

But at the moment, my family is getting ready to make me some beefy cheesy chimichangas for my birthday, there’s chocolate lasagna waiting for dessert, and I have gotten some words out of my head.  Also, the dog isn’t on my head.  Life is sweet.

nataliemerchant

PS, I just realized that I included the titles of two old-school Natalie Merchant songs in this post.  Do you see them?

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The Grand Return of Normal

January 5, 2013 4 comments

Some of you may have noticed (please, someone have noticed), that I’ve been rather absent in recent months.  I keep thinking of things I want to write, then I get busy with something else, well, whatever.  Things have been hectic and I’ve been out of my normal routine.  When I don’t have my routine, I tend to get a whole lot of nothing done.

Now, things are settling back to normal with the family and I am faced with an uncomfortable situation.  I’m ready and able to commit time to my writing again, but I’m intimidated.  Surely, after so long, I’d better come back with a really, really good post.  And all those good ideas I had while I was all aflutter with other stuff?  They’re gone or no longer relevant.  I mean, I had a ton of clever things to say about our annual Christmas decoration bruhaha, but who wants to read that in January?  It’s so last month!

So this post is just breaking the proverbial ice.  When my daughter tells me that she doesn’t know what to draw, I tell her to just sit down and start drawing whatever comes to mind.  I’m taking my own advice with my writing.

Perhaps you’re wondering what has kept me away.  Well, primarily my daughter’s illness, which I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion.  I’m happy to report that she is much improved and back at school.  She’s eating huge quantities of pasta and jello and not much else, but as long as she’s not puking, I’m having a hard time caring a whole lot about nutritional value and whatnot.  That’s what vitamins are for.

Behold!

Behold!

Also, we had a massive Christmas light display this year.  During the installation of this, I discovered that a crippling fear of heights is not the kind of thing that you can overcome just because you want a Santa Claus on the roof.  Also, it is very difficult to help install a Santa on your roof when you are crouched in the corner talking earnestly to yourself about the meaning of fear.

We narrowly avoided a house fire. (The official report, issued by my father and my husband, is that this issue had nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas lights. Fo’ real)  On one of the usual nights when I found myself exhausted at 8pm, I went to bed early.  Don’t judge, just let me get on with the story.  Hubs woke me up a short bit later, saying he hated to wake me but needed me to come smell something.  Well, who could resist such an offer!  I opened my eyes, said something melted in the dishwasher and tried to go back to sleep.  What we were actually smelling was a bad main breaker which was quickly heating up our breaker box and the wall.  My wall was hot!!  I shudder to think what would have happened if Hubs didn’t pay more attention to things than I do.  Long story short, we got it all fixed up thanks to Hubs, my dad and an electrician buddy to whom I am forever indebted and I learned to respect Hubs the Super Sniffer.

Macaroni cat, rest in peace

Macaroni cat, rest in peace

We lost our sweet kitty Macaroni on New Year’s Day to sudden and unexplained death, so we rang in the New Year with a

Sad Cheese

Sad Cheese

kitty funeral.  He has left a hole in our lives, to be sure, but his brother Cheese is bereft.  He’s lost his lifelong playmate and has resorted to headbutting me in the middle of the night to play.  Not sure how this one is going to play out, but we’ll manage.  He will live forever in our memories as the only cat we’ve ever known to bury straws under rugs, correctly answer questions and smack potato chips out of your hand with lightning speed.

So, there’s where I am.  I hope to hit my stride again quickly with more cohesive posts, but at least I have written something.

English! Do you Speak it?

October 11, 2012 10 comments

Do you ever have times in your life when you feel like no one is hearing you?  Don’t you wonder if you have somehow begun speaking a foreign language without realizing it?  Do you, like me, have nearly irresistible urges to go all Samuel L. Jackson on the world?

“Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you.”
photo courtesy of ugo.com

I strongly believe that this is the reason women are so often labeled “nags.”  I’m not nagging, it’s just necessary for me to repeat myself thirty-two times in order to make my point.  And even then, more often than not, I have been so unclear and confusing that one has no option other than to simply interpret my words the best way they can.  Through much observation and careful study, I have developed the following guide for interpretation.

The Kids

What I say:  Kids, I need you to (do chores, homework, get ready for bed, get ready for school…)

What they hear:  Please go into the other room, turn on your favorite television show or video game and enjoy yourself.  You have no other responsibilities, so don’t even worry about it.  Also, please close the door so that I won’t disturb you with my incessant shrieking.

My response:  Incessant shrieking, of course.  I am certain, even though we don’t know our next door neighbors well, that they know both of my children’s full names and what their nightly chores are and also that my children are not capable of remembering to brush their teeth unless they are reminded five times at increasing volume.

The Doctor’s office

What I say:  I have questions about this new medicine, can you please address these concerns?

What they hear:  I am going to be a completely ignorant and hysterical mother.  Please brush off my concerns and tell me things that make no sense.  I won’t know the difference, I’m just a stupid non-medically-trained person who needs reassurance with no substance.

My response: Since it’s generally unwise to be snotty and rude to people who have any measure of control over you or your children, I hold my temper.  And repeat my (valid) questions.  And ask for help.  And tell the nurse in no uncertain terms that I will not sit idly by for two weeks hoping that a medicine that is not working, will magically start working, while my child is clearly getting worse on the medicine.  I don’t buy it.  I might not have a medical education, but I do have common damn sense and I have a right and a need for information and help.  God knows I’m paying enough for it.  We’re already hundreds of dollars in the hole, even after our very good insurance has paid, and we have a couple of inconclusive test results and worthless prescriptions and a best-guess diagnosis.  The least you can do is talk to me like I’m an intelligent person.

At Work

What I say:  I don’t know/remember how to do that.

What they hear:  I know exactly how to handle that issue, but I’m not going to tell you because I’m spiteful like that.

My response:  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I just don’t know!  There are people at work who are absolutely convinced that I know how to do everydamnthing.  While that’s flattering, it is also annoying as hell when they won’t let it go.  Sometimes I don’t know.  Sometimes I could figure it out, but I don’t have time and you should figure it out on your own.  Sometimes you just need to ask someone else.  Virtually all the time, you need to accept my answer and leave me alone.

With Hubs

What I say:  Hubs, can you please help me with this chore?

What he hears: Please just sit there and enjoy your baseball game/alien show/episode of “How it’s Made” while I take care of everything.  You worked all day and I just sat at a desk for ten hours and ate bonbons, so I’m totally refreshed.  No worries, I’ve got this.

My response:  Okay, maybe I’m not being totally fair.  He’s not always like this.  It’s mostly just when I have had a spectacularly bad day and need help with things that I normally handle just fine on my own.  Or the days that I’m especially tired and overwhelmed.  Or the days that I am tired of the damn baseball on tv.

The Cat

What I say: No, Squeaky, don’t lie on the laptop.  I will pet you, just lie down over here.

What she hears:  Please get all up in my face and make sure you lie down on whatever else might be taking my attention.  I am completely incapable of petting you unless you have my undivided attention, so I’m relying on you to eliminate all distractions.

My response:  Well, duh.  I give her my undivided attention.  She’s my cat and she’s old.  She’s also more devoted to me than all of my family members combined, and she’s perfectly capable of smothering me in my sleep if I neglect her.

She asks for nothing, except every drop of love and attention that I have to give.

Clearly, I bring these frustrations on myself.  Until I improve my communication skills, I have no right to expect people to understand me.  It’s perfectly reasonable to think that “Go brush your teeth” means “Vanish into your bedroom until I forget that you were ever born.”  In the interest of self-improvement, I hereby vow to continue to educate myself in the ways of speaking with clarity.  And volume.  Lots and lots of volume.

My Bad Word Triggers

March 2, 2012 1 comment

Generally, I try to be a positive person.  Not because it comes naturally to me, oh no.  It’s a challenge for me to be thankful and appreciative and I work very hard at it.  After all, no one likes a whiner.  However, there are some things that absolutely bug the living crap out of me and I just can’t be thankful for them.  This post will probably be a touch rant-y, and we all have my lovely sister to thank for putting the peanut butter knife in my head tonight.  (Not literally.  My skull is far too sturdy to fear a peanut butter knife.)

Without further ado, please enjoy my list of the things in everyday life that make me say bad words.

  • The peanut butter knife, of course.  You can’t rinse it.  You can’t melt it away.  The dishwasher will cook it on.  Your sponge will absorb the gunky peanut butter.  What to do?  You’re just going to have to smoosh the wet and goopy peanut butter off with your fingers.  Or throw out the knife, that’s also an acceptable option.
  • Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.  Really.  The ladybugs SWARM my house.  I’ve been told by a reputable source that our town releases them on purpose to control some other type of pest and my exterminator is not allowed to kill them. What is this fresh hell?  They might be lady-like and they might be a pretty color, but they’re still bugs and I. Want. Them. Gone.
  • Bad driving.  I don’t mean drivers who drive too fast, or too slow or leave their signal on, although those are not skills to brag about.  I’m talking about people who have a license (presumably) to operate a motor vehicle who don’t seem to understand the basic rules of driving.  Like how to execute a tangent turn, or turning right on red, for the love of pete.  I know the DMV has a book.  Get one.
  • People who fake-laugh incessantly at inappropriate times.  You know these people.  They laugh every time they say something.  They laugh every time you say something.  They laugh when they’re uncomfortable.  They laugh when you punch them in the eye…well, that’s a theory yet to be tested.  I’ll keep you updated.
  • Bra lines.  Here we are, well into the 21st century and still no one has manage to design a bra that won’t cut into my back fat.  I see where our inventors’ priorities lie.  I could be wearing a bra five sizes too big and you’d still see the bra line with the neat little back fat outline.  Can we get some bra innovations that recognize that the back of the thing is as important as the front?
  • Chapped lips.  Why should it be that my lips are always so chapped?  I’m not smooching too much, I have lots of lip balm and I’m well hydrated.  WHY MUST THIS BE?!
  • Catass (pronounced “ca-tass”).  That’s the word that my husband and I invented to describe the moments when cats offer their heinies for your olfactory enjoyment.  I understand that cats love to smell butts, but I do not.  I adore my cats, but they need to keep the catassery to a minimum.  Like, none.
  • When you lose weight and people always ask, “What is your secret?”  Duh, it’s not a secret.  Eat less, move more.  News flash to the world, if there was a quick and easy way to lose weight, we’d ALL be doing it and it still wouldn’t be a secret.
  • Text speak in emails.  I realize that a great many people use email on their phones these days.  I do it myself from time to time.  That doesn’t make it okay.  It’s called “text” speak for a reason.  “U” does not equal “you” in an email or a facebook post and double, nay, TRIPLE, shame on you if you’re engaging in this nonsense in emails at work.  Just type the letters!  That’s why they’re there!

This is by no means a comprehensive list but just a few of the things that stay on the top of my mind.  Like every morning when I put on my chapstick, clear dead ladybugs out of my way and slog off to work to spend the day with a fake laugher.  Shudder.

 

Better late than… unshaven?

January 26, 2012 3 comments

I am chronically late to work.  Not hugely late, but it’s always 6 or 7 minutes after the hour, at best, when I make my grand entrance.  No one seems to care very much, but it bugs me.  The thing is, I should be able to get there on time.  I plan to get there on time.  But despite my best efforts, I find myself racing out of the house every morning, screeching, “I gotta go, I’m late!”

So what happens?  I’m certainly not primping.  My work style falls into the “good enough” category.  Better than my Walmart good enough, but nowhere near my “HR is taking pictures for the directory today” good enough.  (I was super late that day.)  I’m not browsing through my work wardrobe.  If it’s in the back of the closet, then I haven’t worn it this week, so it’s good enough.  I’m not doing housework.  Anything that doesn’t get done by the time I stumble off to bed will have to wait.  I’m not watching the morning news, cause who needs that kind of downer to start the day.

I’ve narrowed down the culprits.  The things that slow me down and conspire to make me late every single morning.  And in this case, knowing is not half the battle, since they will certainly rise up to wreak havoc in new ways.

#1 My cell phone.

Some time ago, I seized upon my cell phone as my alarm clock.  It’s far more reliable, it’s unaffected by the occasional power outage, and, best of all, it offers THREE ALARMS.  Three alarms is critical for a coma sleeper such as myself.  I set one for when I want to get up, one for when I should get up and the last one for “get your hinder out of bed NOW and race to the shower!”  Nice set up, right?  Yes, all except for one thing, the snooze option.  Here’s how you operate the snooze on my phone.  You touch the screen.  That’s all.  There’s not a button, no slider, you can just touch it any old place and back off to sleepytime you go.  This is dangerous.  Any coma sleeper worth her salt can slam a hand down on a cell phone without missing a snore.  I would never make it to work before lunch if I didn’t have a husband to ask me at some point each morning, “Are you going to work today?”  Uh, yes, of course I am, I have tons of time. (slight panic)

#2 My exercise schedule

I’m not talking about my early morning, before work 30 Day Shred project.  I’m starting that on Monday, I swear it.  I’m talking about my much more realistic twice-weekly cardio class in the evenings.  How does this affect my mornings, you ask?  Well, because I feel obligated to shave my legs on those mornings.  Even though every morning-minute counts, legs without streams of blood, gashes and long-lasting scabbing are slightly more critical in my life.  Despite the fact that these classes fall on Monday and Wednesday, every single week, I fail to remember this chore until I turn on the shower water.  These things tend to get neither safer nor more efficient when you’re in a blue-eyed-late-for-work panic.

#3 Twist ties

If you missed my earlier post, What’s for Lunch, you don’t know that I’m the self-appointed Lunch Nazi of our house.  My kids are not permitted to buy lunch at school, so it falls to me to make sure they have a healthy and interesting lunch every day.  I’m generally pretty prepared for this, with a couple of options and a quick plan for implementation.  However, the bread twist ties!  They get me every time!  I have pretty good hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills (if I do say so), but those little suckers are not meant for grown-up sized human hands.  It actually takes longer to tie the bread back up than to make the entire sandwich.  And you can double that heartache, since I’m in the midst of a whole wheat project and the kids get two different kinds of bread.  I propose that bread manufacturers extend their bags by about six inches, so you can immediately discard that twisty little devil and tie a knot in the bag.

#4 My cat

Anyone who read My Cat’s Pet needs no further explanation.  If Squeaky had her way, I’d be bedridden for the remainder of my days, unable to do anything but pet her and clean litter boxes.  She puts on her sweet snuggly kitty face every morning and if that doesn’t work, she will yell at me and tell me to get my bleepity-bleep back to bed.  It’s more temptation than your average crazy cat lady can stand.

These are my morning Waterloos.  They taunt, torment and triple dog dare me to get to work on time.  One day, as God as my witness, I will be at my desk at seven on the dot.  That will also be the day I have hairy legs, a broken cell phone, hungry kids and a pissed off feline at home. But I shall persist, knowing I’m not alone in my morning struggles.  Still, I can’t help but wonder if my time would be better spent convincing my company to adopt a Napoleonic timeliness policy.

“Let Him Sleep…For When He Wakes, He Will Move Mountains.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

Photo courtesy of bloggermoms.com