Category Archives: pets

Positive Lifestyle Changes

The month of March was pretty difficult for our daughter.  Early in the month she rear ended a large pickup with her Subaru Forester.  She was only driving about 30 mph at the time when the pickup in front of her stopped suddenly. She was cited for following too close.  The pickup sustained no damage. There was only $3000 damage to the front end of her car, but, since all eight of the air bags deployed, the insurance company wrote her car off.  It would cost $16,000 to repair them.  This, then, entailed her getting a rental vehicle, waiting for the damage estimate and the insurance cheque to get deposited in her account, and the purchase of a new vehicle.  There were tons of phone calls to me, with her in anxious agony when adjusters didn’t get back to her when they said they would or when the  cheque wasn’t deposited when it was promised.  (The local car dealership  was having a great sale on new Subarus, and she wanted to get in on the deal. They told her to just write them a cheque and they wouldn’t cash it until the insurance payment arrived.  Since the insurance payment was late, there was angst and heartburn that the cheque to the car dealership was going to bounce.)  This is the second car she has totaled in three years. Thank goodness the insurance company isn’t going to cancel her policy.  She lives in an area noted for horrible traffic and lots of accidents, and she isn’t even considered high risk.

March’s next blow was a doozy.  Daughter lives in a one bedroom apartment with her cat, a cat that never goes outside.  Last week daughter noted that her cat was particularly droopy and was avoiding eating and was hesitant to walk on the carpeted floor.  A closer look revealed that the cat and the carpets were infested with fleas. There were even fleas in her rental car.  Daughter surmises she brought fleas home with her from work.  She does intensive family therapy in people’s homes, and probably picked the fleas up in one of the homes. The same thing happened to her supervisor last year.  Daughter had no previous experience with fleas, so this meant multiple, distressed phone calls to me, trips to the vet, constant laundry and vacuuming, and setting off flea bombs in the apartment.  We are now flea free.

Daughter said that March’s events have prompted her to make positive lifestyle changes. She wants to slow down,  simplify her spaces, and get rid of unnecessary things and be more orderly. She said that when she cleaned her Forester out preparatory to  the insurance adjusters looking at it, she was appalled at all the junk she had there. “Mom! It looked like the Box Car Children were living in my vehicle!”  She stripped down to socks and underwear outside her front door after work the other night and put her clothes directly in the washing machine. I told her she could probably strip in the bath tub for the same results and less alarm for the neighbors.

It does no good to scold someone  when they are distressed, so my internal, unspoken monologue to Daughter during March has been a very constant and rapid “YOU NEED TO START  TAKING YOUR G** D***** ADHD MEDICATION AGAIN!!!  YOU ALWAYS DRIVE TOO FAST! SLOW DOWN! PAY ATTENTION!!  THERE IS NOTHING I CAN SAY THAT IS GOING TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER RIGHT NOW.  DEAL WITH IT!!  HERE, TALK TO YOUR FATHER!!

It is no surprise my dentist told me yesterday that it looks like I have been grinding my teeth in the daytime. This is a recent development since my last checkup six months ago.  I imagine it really increased in March. I paid attention today and noticed just how much teeth grinding I am doing. I hope that as long as Daughter sticks with her positive lifestyle changes, I can make my positive lifestyle changes and save my tooth enamel.

What has prompted, or could prompt, you to make positive lifestyle changes?

Modern Marvels

My animals are costing me sleep.   For several months, my old cat (Zorro) has been hanging out downstairs, avoiding YA’s dog (Guinevere).  Then about a month or so ago, Zorro decided he would really like to spend time on the radiator in my room.  At night.  But he’s afraid of the dog and I don’t blame him; when she gets woken up suddenly she lunges at him.  She’s never actually touched him but I wouldn’t want a 50-lb shepherd mix lunging at me in the middle of the night either.  Zorro is quite vocal about this whole scenario and this has led to me getting out of bed, turning on the light and standing between the two of them while Zorro moves from the doorway to the radiator (although once Guinevere is fully awake, she doesn’t really care what Zorro does).  Once often twice a night.  Occasionally more than that.

One of the things that I know about Guinevere is that she is afraid of pretty much everything. If I put a 5” box in a doorway, she won’t jump over it, even though I know she can; I’ve seen her practically levitate 4 feet in the air in the backyard when she thinks she might get a rabbit or squirrel.  I thought if there was a way to have a barrier between the two, then Zorro could come in at his leisure, Guinevere couldn’t get to him with her lunge and hopefully I could get more sleep.

Since assuming I can train a cat is problematic, I didn’t want to go out and spend a bunch of money on gates or tunnels before I knew if I had proof of concept.   So I collected up some cardboard boxes and built a little wall that goes from the door to the bed.  It’s just cardboard and duct tape so not pretty at all and right now I have some shoes stabilizing it in the middle section.  The theory is that I can fold it up during the day and just take it out at night.

So far Zorro is not impressed and I think the contraption is confusing him a bit. I’ve been using treats to urge him on, but a couple of times, once he got about halfway, he just turned around and went back downstairs.  The good news is that I was correct and Guinevere won’t even consider going over the barrier.  Only 2 nights so far, so I’m still hopeful.

What major engineering feats to you admire?



If I Could Talk to the Animals

My friend Deb  is dog sitting her son’s 15 year old Boxer, Marilyn.  Deb also has a 16 year old Fox Terrier named Ellie.  Marilyn  is a regular guest at Deb’s house and knows the house and the inhabitants very well. Deb talks to both dogs in a way I find terribly funny. They respond to her in ways that makes me think that dogs are even smarter than we already give them credit for.

One night this week,  Deb was awakened by Ellie pawing at her arm and whining. This can mean that Ellie wants food or that something is wrong. Deb told Ellie “Lie down and go to sleep! You can’t have any treats.” yet Ellie persisted, so she told Ellie “Show me what’s wrong.” Ellie led her to the kitchen, where she found a horrible mess. All the lower cupboards had been opened and all their contents swept onto the floor. Peanut butter containers had been chewed open and the contents devoured.  Marilyn has been known to do this before, but she can only open one side of the two-door cupboards.  Both sides had been opened. This means that someone else (a certain Fox Terrier) helped open all the doors.  Deb yelled “Marilyn, come here! You know you aren’t supposed to open the cupboards”!  Marilyn came over and glared at Deb and blew out her dewlaps, and grumbled “row row row row row” the way Boxers talk, and blew out her dewlaps again.  Deb told Ellie “You go in your bed!” and Ellie slunk to her dog bed with her tail down.

The next morning, Deb gave Ellie her favorite treat-two ice cubes, and Marilyn stole one. She chewed only half of it and spat out the other half onto the hardwood floor because her mouth got too cold.  Deb didn’t see it and stepped on it. Deb was quite annoyed and  told Marilyn “You pick that up and put it on the carpet if you are going to eat it!” Marilyn turned her head away from Deb in an insolent  way and blew out her dewlaps. Deb repeated her command. Marilyn glanced at her, and again looked away insolently and blew out her dewlaps.  After a third try,  Marilyn picked up what was left of the ice cube and took it over to the carpet to finish it.

How did that dog know to take the ice cube to the carpet? That is a complex command involving at least two concepts. It isn’t something Deb says to Marilyn on a regular basis, so she didn’t learn it through repetition.  Marilyn is usually a pretty sweet and compliant dog with Deb,  but they have differences of opinion at times. I love hearing about their arguments. Deb says that she never wins because Marilyn always gets the last word by blowing out her dewlaps as she walks away.

How do you talk to animals? What would they tell you if they could talk to you?

The Hat

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I received this hat as a Christmas present a few years ago. I thought it was the dumbest hat ever. The earflaps? Man, what a dork. I put those down and immediately make the “L” on my forehead.

And the lights on the bill? What’s up with that. And camo?? I don’t do camo. I don’t own anything camo.

But ya know…. It’s come in handy. Cold as it’s been, those ear flaps are invaluable.

And the lights, well, that saves me from holding the flashlight in my mouth. Because sometimes I drop it in the chicken pen and then I do actually hesitate for a couple seconds before I put It back in my mouth figuring a little dirt never hurt anyone. But that hat. I groan everytime I put it on and I’m thankful that it keeps my ears warm.

In his book, “Semi True”, Russ Ringsak says, “I couldn’t blame nature for trying to murder me but I wished she wasn’t in such a hurry.” Yeah, really. Does it have to be this cold?

You know it’s cold when I get this many water bucket stumps piled up.

I’ve got a small outside water tank with a tank heater in it. I put the frozen water buckets in there while I put out corn (which is supposed to be for the chickens and ducks, but seems in the winter, only the turkeys and deer find it.) After doing the corn, I can just dump out the ice from the buckets, refill, and take back to the chickens. They don’t actually drink much. The 50 chickens drink maybe a gallon per day.

Meanwhile, my ducks that won’t come eat this corn, some of them, the ‘wild’ ones, are down in the pond.

I know it’s cold when the pond gets ice on the edges. The water comes from springs, through the pipe, under the ice at the top of the picture.

Although since the hawk got a duck in the pond last week, I don’t put corn out there anymore. And the ducks aren’t that interested in going over there anyway.

This is Humphrey being curious about the hawk. Humphrey is very curious about everything.

Ever gotten a gift you don’t like yet still find valuable?

The Cats of Yore

Oh, where are the cats of yore, those aloof, independent creatures who disdained we mere mortals unless it was dinner time,  and who were happy to accept a few scritches before they had enough and left to find a nice, solitary napping place?

We and our daughter have welcomed an entirely different breed of cat into our respective homes over the last year. I call these the needy cats, and they are interesting to live with. Daughter tells me that her cat, almost 9 months old, is either on top of her or following her around her apartment.  She wants to play with daughter all night, hence kitten’s banishment from the bedroom so daughter can sleep.

We adopted a 5 month old rescue kitten in October. Her name is Millie and she believes that the  best place to be is right by our side. She loves to sit on the counter and watch us wash dishes.  She wants to supervise when we cook. Any food we eat must be hers, too. We have tried to dissuade her jumping and intrusiveness with water from a squirt bottle, but that backfired. She really likes water.  She hurls her body against the closed bathroom door so it opens, and jumps in the tub even if the faucet is turned on. Wherever I sit, she plops herself in my lap, demanding to be petted. At night I am awakened by her gently patting my cheeks with her paws.

Given the tufts of hair between her toes, the tufts of hair in her ears,  and her extremely long and very fluffy, luxurious tail, we think she may be part Maine Coon. Perhaps that could account for her personality.

This is also the first time we have cats without having terriers, too. The terriers did pretty well with the cats (as well as any terrier can do with creatures they consider vermin).  The dogs would pursue and bark if the cats were too active or jumped on the table or counters.  Maybe the dogs squelched  the cats’  full expression of their personalities.  All our new cats are rescue cats. Perhaps they are just so grateful to us that they can’t stop thanking us.

The header photo is of Millie in the bathroom sink. The other photo is a head shot of Millie after we caught her with her face in the cream cheese. She provides lots of photo opportunities and topics for conversation, which are somewhat redeeming qualities.

What kind of personalities  have your animals had?

Naughty Dog!

I have a naughty dog.

She’s 12+, moving slowly but three times this week I’ve come home to chaos. Three nights ago she had gotten into Nonny’s room and eaten the last two little bags of kitty treats that I had wrapped as gifts, as well as ripping open the wrapping on another gift.  One box with a Ukrainian egg was downstairs, but luckily not chewed or broken.

Two days ago she managed to get a hold of a bag of spiced almonds that I thought were pushed back far enough on the counter. Guess not. She ate the entire bag (about a cup of almonds).  I also found the box that had had rosettes in it on the floor, but YA says the box was empty when she left.  Tell that to the shredded tissue paper that was in the box!

Tonight Rhiannon had managed to get back into Nonny’s room… she pushed the gate down. There wasn’t anything to eat in there anymore but she did knock down the box with the remaining Ukrainian eggs.  Again no damage (luckily).  That box is now locked on the attic steps.

She can’t even blame it on YA’s dog, as Guinevere is always kenneled when we’re out of the house.   All the other dogs I’ve had over the years have become mellower over the years.  Guess Rhiannon is going against the grain!

Are you getting naughtier with age?


Every morning our grey cat sits expectantly  by the front door, waiting.  She waits for the magic moment when the light appears on the living room wall and ceiling above our media cabinet.   She knows it is somehow associated with my cell phone.  This morning she saw me walk into the living room with my phone, and immediately jumped on top of the media cabinet, waiting for the light. The kitten stays on the floor, as her legs are too short to make the leap to the top.  The light sometimes appears low enough for her to pounce, and she waits for it, too.

When I sit in the love seat  by the bay window, the sun reflects off my cell phone screen and I can flash a light all over the walls and ceiling. The kitten tries to grab it. It always slips between her paws. The grey cat just sits and watches it with fascination and excitement.  It seems to be strangely satisfying for her, as though her day is off to a good start when the light appears.  As the days shortened this fall, the light sometimes didn’t even show up, since the sun wasn’t in the right position until after I left for work.  The grey cat never gave up hope.  She waited each morning.

Today we planned our garden and chose the seed varieties for next summer. I hope the rains come and we don’t have a drought.   I don’t think we are too different from our cats, waiting with hope for the promise of light in this dark season and these even darker times.

The new year has just started. What are you hoping for?