Category Archives: pets

Learning Curve

Yesterday I had to stop while a small flock of turkeys took their time crossing the road. Then today it was a fairly large gaggle of geese that slowed me up; I’ll admit I gave my horn a couple of quick toots to hurry them along.

It made me think about the animal crossing system that they have in Canada along Banff National Park. All along the Trans Canada Highway through the park, they built overpasses and underpasses for the animals to use.  According to Parks Canada, they have documented hundreds of thousands of animal crossings and saved thousands of animals from becoming roadkill.

Apparently coyotes, cougars and black bears figured out the crossings the fastest. Grizzly bears and wolves took the longest.  But no one answers my question.  Did they just open them up and wait for the animals to give them a try or did they try to “train” wildlife, perhaps using bait? Maybe it was it just a “build it and they will come” kind of thing?

It occurs to me that I’ve had animals in my life that would learn something like this quickly, like the black bears and I’ve also had animals that would be trailing behind the grizzlies.

Have you had a particularly smart (or not) animal in your life?

Laundromat Rules

ETwice a year I bundle up all my bedding – allergy covers, dust ruffle, sheets, comforter and pillows – then I head on down to the laundromat. I could do all this laundry at home but I’d rather get it all done in an hour or instead of running up and down the basement steps all day long.

Since I’ve been schlepping down there for almost 20 years, I’ve realized that there are some rules involved in the laundromat.

  1. Early is better. Even if I go at 6 a.m. there is usually someone else there at opening. By 9 a.m. it’s starting to get hopping. I’ve driven by later at night and it’s mostly empty.
  2. Leave at least one machine open between you and the next person. Unless all the other machines full, then you have to squeeze in between others.
  3. After you have your washers going, don’t stay. Either doze in your car out in the parking lot (with your dog perhaps) or go run another errand.
  4. But time your nap or your errands. If the machines are all full and people are waiting, you’ll find your wet laundry sitting on a table. (This also applies to still damp laundry in the driers.)
  5. Take finished laundry out to your vehicle as it gets dry – don’t wait until everything is done to start your departure.
  6. Don’t look others in the eyes, don’t engage in small talk, don’t’ smile.

I follow most of the rules, although I’ve never taken anybody else’s laundry out of a washer or dryer. I do try to look at others and smile, but it doesn’t do much good, as nobody else looks up.  And I don’t sit in my car either – something to drink, maybe a donut and a book and I’m good for the time I’m there.

When do you make your own rules?

Free Time

Husband loaded his pickup on Monday of this week and headed to Denver to see his dad and stepmom. His dad is in an assisted living facility due to Alzheimer’s Disease, and he hasn’t seen him for a year. Husband returns home  later today.

I am accustomed to Husband spending time away from home during the week when he works on the Reservation.  He is usually home on Friday, and it was strange not having him here yesterday.  Strange, yet somewhat restful,  since yesterday was the first Friday for eons that it was the end of the week, I was at home, and we were not planning what to cook for the weekend.

Husband is a compulsive cook, grocery list maker, and menu planner. I can tell when he is thinking about cooking something.  He has this broody look on his face and gets real quiet. If I ask him what is going on he says “Just a minute”, and, many, many minutes later, he tells me what foods  he wants to prepare.  This only happens when we are at home. He recognizes how odd this is and confesses that he can’t stop thinking about cooking when he is at home.

I got off work early yesterday. I was content to eat ham sandwiches and breakfast cereal. The free time was nice, and I had had a restful afternoon playing with the cats.

What do you like to do in your free time?  What do you find relaxing?

Surrender

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay.

Tonight, I lost the battle. I’m defeated. I give up. For one month, I’ve kept my two kittens blockaded in the bedroom.  I have a big door on one side; no door on the other.  Because I felt they should only be kept in one room for a while, I moved a big bench to close off the opening without a door and nailed in a throw a few inches higher than the bench to fool them into thinking there was no way out.

This worked for a while, then “Trouble” found a way over it, so I nailed the blanket half a foot higher. That worked for a while until tonight when I nailed the blanket up so high that only one foot was still exposed. Trouble climbed over it in seconds, even though I repeatedly squirted him with a water bottle. He’d dart off, then return to finish his task of penetrating the barrier to full freedom in seconds. He didn’t care that I yelled “NO” or that I’d pick him up and toss him back in the room or that I squirted him.  He had no respect or fear at all.

That’s it: they’re both on the loose, terrorizing my old cat upstairs and doing anything that their feline instincts lead them to. I’m defeated. The vet was right about this male Ragdoll and now I’m under their control. Poor old Izzy, whose world was upended a few weeks ago. In just one week, she lost her only friend, Peanut, then was scared into the dungeon below the cottage for days. A few days later, I brought the kittens home, so she lost having me in the bedroom she’d always come into for affection. She spotted the kittens for the first time only two days ago, and spent hours hiding in the bedroom upstairs. Her only comfort in life has been having me, out of guilt, going upstairs to sleep with her every night after the kittens were safely closed in the downstairs bedroom. Now, she’s lost even that.

Now, Trouble, followed by his copycat sister, has claimed the entire cottage as his territory. I’m struggling right now with feeling owned rather than owning these pesky fur balls.

What is the best way to turn defeat into something postive? When have animals or people got the best of you?

Surplus

Today Husband and I brought home our new kitten, Millie, a 5 month old tortie terror who loves to climb and is very, very active.

 

 

I have always maintained special play towers for cats are a waste of time, money, and space, and that cats will just ignore them and play with a paper bag instead.

We picked this up just after getting the kitten from the vet. I know in my heart it is an unnecessary purchase, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if she climbed all over it?

I regret buying more things as we think about downsizing and reducing our possessions.  We just can’t keep this up (but what if she really likes it and climbs all over it?).

How do you talk yourself into unnecessary purchases?  What is your plan for simplifying and reducing?

Keyboard Kitten

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay.

A day ago, a couple of letters on my keyboard wouldn’t work, so I took it to the Apple Store, a twenty-minute drive. The tech said I’d need a new keyboard and their repairs are backed up, so it could be a week. A week without my laptop would threaten my mental stability, so he offered to call me when the repair backup was down to a day or two. I’d used the little keyboard drop down before, and since only my “o” and “l” weren’t working, I took it home and thought I could just muddle by clicking the missing letter on the drop down until the repair schedule opened up.

I brought it home and suddenly a half dozen letters wouldn’t work, as well as my “.” I rushed back to the Apple Store and they said that I could buy a new laptop, then return it after my keyboard was replaced BUT they’d have to transfer all my data to the “loaner” for it to be useable for me.  I thought, “Wow! I’ll still have a computer while my old one’s being fixed!

I left the old laptop there all night, then went to pick up the new laptop with my data transferred into it. When I got it home, I had the very same problem as I had on my old one. The very same letters wouldn’t work.  I again rushed back to the Apple Store to raise hell. On the way, I got a call from them saying, “Your computer’s fixed”. Huh? Did they get a new keyboard installed already???

When I got there (my 4th round trip), they told me that it was just a minor software issue and not a keyboard problem. I inquired about how this problem arose in the first place. They said that I must have held down the option key too long.

Then, I remembered leaving the kitten’s room, which used to be my bedroom, and coming back to find one of them happily sitting on my keyboard, enjoying the sounds it was making.

The next time my keyboard isn’t working, I’ll just take it in for a brief Genius Bar correction, but my first words will be; “Whatever’s wrong, consider that a cat sat on the keyboard, and take it from there!”

What have you had to tolerate from your animals?

When One Door Closes, Another One Opens

Today’s post comes to us from Crystal Bay.

A little over one week ago, I shared the story of Peanut’s taking leave of this world. Little did I know that an ordeal a few hours later would completely distract me from grieving the old guy.

Peanut’s Last Day

I have what I refer to as a ghost cat; a 10-year old calico rescue named Izzy. Peanut was her best and only friend. It took several years before she’d even approach me for affection and it was unrequited.  Everything spooked this cat, even seeing headlights coming down the driveway. She spent 18 hours a day hiding behind the furnace, only emerging after dark to be with her friend, Peanut.

Peanut died on a Friday. Izzy was suddenly on my lap and behaved the role he’d played all of these years, as though she’d been waiting for her opportunity and only been an intern who learned how to be a companion from observing him for a decade. I loved it. We soaked each other up with mutual affection for hours.  I think she knew all along how to do it, but Peanut stood in the way because all of her affection was used up on him.

About 2AM, I went to use the bathroom and smelled gas. My furnace and water heater are behind louvers in the bathroom because there’s no basement here. I called the gas company and they sent out an emergency tech.  He found carbon monoxide coming from the 50-year old water heater and shut it down.  While standing there, I noticed a 5” hole in the floor, below which the dungeon exists.  This is a crawl space beneath the cottage made up of a maze of tunnels with a rocky dirt floor and about a 20” clearance to the studs above which hold the place up.  I knew at that moment that she’d gone down the hole.

I called and called her name, put tuna in a baggy with a string to tease her up, and opened up the trap door to the dungeon below. In the dark with a flashlight, swiping away a hundred years’ worth of cobwebs, I crawled through the scary tunnel looking for her. My mind went to thinking the gas tech’s commotion scared her into the vast duct system snaking throughout the underworld.

The next morning, the guy who used my dock walked by. I ran to him, hysterical, and asked for his help to find her. He then entered the dungeon and came out empty-handed. This tunnel is so tight that it can only be exited by crawling out of it backwards. An hour later, one of his friends went into the dungeon and found a collar she’d lost many months ago.

The light went on. I realized in that moment that she had not been hiding behind the furnace all of these years; she’d taken up residence in the vast dark underbelly beneath the cottage!  She’d been leading a double life all along. Still, I clung to the vision of her being so spooked that she’d dived into and gotten stuck in the venting system, so I called an HVAC guy to come and dissemble the entire network of ducts. He said he’d be glad to for only $200 an hour.  I told him I’d hold off until the next day. Next, I called Animal Rescue, Pest Control, and ultimately the police.

Two officers showed up, full of empathy for the little old lady who’d just put down one cat and now lost the other. One of them was hefty in size but insisted on crawling through the dungeon anyway. I truly worried that this brave cop would get stuck.

Every minute she was gone felt like I was letting her die down there. Later that night, Mary texted that she’d probably breathed in carbon monoxide and peacefully died. This seemed like a plausible reason that she hadn’t emerged from the hole she’d dived into, so I crawled the dark tunnel one more time, only this time looking for a body, then went outside to break a small window to peer into the dungeon. I’d resigned myself that she’d died down there. The thought that I’d forever live on the floor above my deceased cat was very unpleasant. I even posted her obituary on my Facebook wall right above Peanut’s obituary.

On Sunday, I decided to force myself to go dancing because my favorite band was playing. I got home around 1AM, went into the bedroom, and there she sat on the window box right outside my window. She obviously had exited through the broken window. Shocked but indescribably relieved, I popped open the pull-down screen and she flew in right past me to the second floor. My heart sank recalling that I’d removed a panel up there which allows access to the plumbing behind the wall. Sure enough, she dived into it.  I gave up at this point.

Another 12 hours passed, then, out of nowhere, she sauntered into my bedroom, acting as though none of this had even happened and took up residence on my lap. Now I am the one living a double life because my generous son paid for two purebred Ragdolls last Thursday. I knew that these exotic cats would not only heal my heart, but would be the best companions for what remains of my life. I’ll be 88 by the time of the average lifespan of these kittens. That’s why I wanted two: so they have each other if I die first.  It’s also mesmerizing to just sit and watch these fur balls rolling around and chasing each other.  The name “Ragdoll” comes from the fact that when picked up, they go limp in your arms.  They look like giant, long-haired Siamese and can grow to 20lbs.  Years ago, I owned three of this breed and have longed for more ever since. They’re rated as the most affectionate breed there is.

Rag Dolls

 

My double life resembles Izzy’s, only hers was below the cottage, and mine is splitting the days/nights between my little Ragdolls blocked into my downstairs bedroom, and my all-nighters sleeping upstairs to comfort Izzy. I don’t know if she’ll ever meet the downstairs cats, but she knows they’re here and will not come down.

And so, one door has been shut, and another one has opened, bringing with it new life, peace, and soul-healing.

When has one door opened for you as one door shut?