Cat-astrophe

Let me preface my post with this thought: I love my cats. I might need to end with that thought, as well, since reminders are critical at this point.

Studly Doright and I share our home with two felines. Scout Elizabeth*, who is 15 years old, and Patches Elizabeth* who is approximately eight. They are polar opposites. Scout is friendly and brave. Patches is afraid of her own shadow and anti-social. They’re both well-behaved, but they cannot stand each other.

(Scout is the black cat, below, and Patches is the one with patches. Studly named her. I wanted to call her Indy.)

We’ve left the cats alone at Doright Manor many times. Our housekeeper, Rosa, comes over to check on them if we’re away for more than three days. She’ll clean their litter boxes and give them treats, and remind them that there are still humans who care about them.

Over the Christmas holiday we were away for a week, so I’d asked Rosa to check on the cats twice–once mid-week and again on her regular day to clean. We’ve used this plan successfully multiple times. Unfortunately this time Rosa had a family emergency, and the cats went without a visitor all week.

We came home to a minor disaster area. The cats’ litter boxes were full and they’d done their business in some weird places: behind the couch, next to Studly’s recliner, in the smack dab middle of the dining room floor. I think they thought we were gone for good. It kind of broke my heart that they felt they’d been abandoned.

I’ve spent the week since we’ve been home acting as a combination forensics scientist, scullery maid, and pet whisperer–inspecting for bodily fluids, airing out the house, scrubbing rugs, and reassuring cats. Both Studly and I came down with head colds over the holiday which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand we couldn’t smell the messes, but on the other hand the lack of olfactory input made it difficult to locate them.

Fortunately about 2/3 of the flooring in our home is easy-to-clean tile. And the weather has been unseasonably warm allowing us to open all the windows for several days straight. I hope I’ve found every bit of poo and pee, but my sense of smell is still compromised, so who knows!?

On an added note, we’ve got company coming next weekend. Maybe we’ll play a new game I just made up: “Do You Smell What I Can’t Smell?” Or “Poo, Poo, Help Find the Poo?!” Better yet, maybe I’ll just watch their faces as they enter Doright Manor. That should tell me everything I need to know.

I love my cats.

Peace, people.

*All my cats throughout history have had the middle name Elizabeth. Even the males. I don’t know why.

Cat Christmas

The only reason I put up a Christmas tree this year is because the cats guilted me into it. Studly and I are spending Christmas at our daughter’s home and I told him I didn’t think we’d need a tree. Apparently the cats heard me and they went on strike–no purring or cuddling until the tree was up. They looked pretty cute with their protest placards, but wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to snap a photo.

At any rate, Studly and I learned our lessons, and we have a small tree. The cats are back to giving us lots of love, so everyone’s happy. They asked me to find a bunch of cat Christmas comics, too, and rather than make them get their signs out again, I complied.

Here’s Scout admiring the tree. It’s her shift. Patches is hiding somewhere.

Doing Nothing

On Saturday morning I had no plans. None. I found myself sitting in front of the tv watching Miracle on 34th Street while sipping coffee laced liberally with Irish cream. It was the 1947 version of the film, and in spite of my having seen it approximately 4 billion times in my life I was almost seduced into watching it again.

Instead I decided to go to the grocery story with a stop at Starbucks along the way. After leaving Starbucks with my favorite non-fat iced chai latte laced with a shot of juniper, my eagle eye spotted an estate sale in an unlikely location. I had to make a u-turn to get to it, but soon I was browsing through a veritable wonderland of vintage collectibles and plain old junk. There was so much stuff that I made two complete circuits through the building and still didn’t find anything I needed. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by volume.

On the way to my car, though, I saw a green stool that seemed to be asking me to take it home. It was only $4.00, so I plopped down my money and loaded it into the back of my car. It’ll be a great plant stand, don’t you think? Or a side table for the porch? Or maybe even, gasp, a stool! Go figure.

I fully intended to go to the grocery store next, but there was a crafts fair being held in the parking lot of a church, so I pulled in and browsed for a bit. Honestly, most of what was being offered wasn’t too enticing, but the local humane society had a booth, so I made a donation and bought treat filled stockings for the cats. They’ll at least be pleased that I didn’t spend my morning watching an old movie.

Finally I made it to the store where I bought stuff to make sandwiches. I’d just finished eating when Studly Doright came in from playing golf to find me watching Miracle on 34th Street. I guess I’ve come full circle.

Peace, people.

A Little Cat Music

In my never ending search for a good night’s sleep I’ve tried everything short of prescription drugs: Melatonin, teas to promote sleep, putting my phone away a couple of hours before bedtime, deep breathing exercises, and meditation. Nothing really works. Occasionally I’ll take a dose of a nighttime cold medicine, and sometimes that helps, but I don’t like doing it.

Often I’ll ask my Alexa to play relaxing music, but whoever programs such material must not understand that up tempo songs with abrupt changes in instrumentation do not foster relaxation. I’ll just about doze off only to have the mellow tones of a cello be replaced jarringly by a clang of cymbals. Note to Alexa–just because a piece is classical, doesn’t mean it’s soothing. I’m fairly sure nobody ever fell asleep to the strains of the Willam Tell Overture.

Finally, though, I believe I’ve found music that might do the trick. It happened quite by accident when on a whim I asked Alexa to play music for cats. I was trying to foster affection, or at least acceptance, between my two antagonistic felines. They both were hanging out in my bedroom, and I had the wild idea that perhaps music could help.

It was an instant hit, and now they expect me to play their music every morning. I’ll wander into the bedroom and find them snuggled into my bed with just a couple of cat lengths between them while a little cat music plays softly in the background. That’s a major improvement.

Last night Studly Doright was out of town. After going to bed I tossed and turned for an hour before wondering if the cat music could work for me, too. I asked Alexa to play it, and the underlying purring sounds set to low strings lulled me to sleep. Now, I woke up around 1 a.m., and again at 4, and had to repeat the process, but it seemed to work fairly well. This leads me to believe I might be a cat. Meow.

Here’s a sample from the album, Music for Cats by David Teie. It’s titled “Lolo’s Air.”

https://youtu.be/yDPHPYbM_K8

Peace, people.

Monday, Monday

For a semi-retired person, Mondays are almost indistinguishable from any other day of the week. If it weren’t for Studly Doright, whose own retirement is still a few years away, I’d have no reason at all to mark the first day of the work week as any different from the rest.

We experienced thunderstorms all weekend, even had a tornado touch down nearby, and today’s weather looks to be more of the same. It’s a bit on the gloomy side, but I have nothing on my agenda other than laundry. I picture a day spent sipping tea between trips to and from the laundry room.

Mondays are great for reflecting on the weekend, and in spite of the rain I kept fairly busy. Friday night I attended a concert with friends. On Saturday I decorated the house for Christmas while Studly played nine holes of golf. The rain prevented a full round for his group. We lazed about all afternoon then went for dinner at a Japanese steak house.

I tweaked my back somehow on Saturday, perhaps while fetching Christmas decorations from the hall closet, or hefting tepanyaki shrimp with my chopsticks, and awakened with back spasms Sunday morning. I didn’t let the spasms keep me from attending a holiday-themed lunch with members of my favorite Meetup group, though. We had a fun gift exchange and made plans for a happy hour get together in a couple of weeks.

Then Studly took me to see the newest film iteration of “Robin Hood” on Sunday afternoon. It was an odd take on the familiar tale–kind of a poorly executed mashup of the Heath Ledger film, “A Knight’s Tale,” with elements of Batman and Indiana Jones thrown in for good measure. It bothered me that the costumes didn’t appear even slightly appropriate for the time period. I thought the movie was a waste of money, but Studly liked it.

A heat pack and ibuprofen helped me sleep well last night, and I think the worst of the back pain is behind me. Take that any way you want. I’m going to get up soon to shower. Then I’ll fill the tea kettle, and sort the laundry. But for now, the cats are snuggled around me, and I’m going to revel in not caring that it’s Monday.

Peace, people.

Stormy Weather

As many of you reading this know, my husband, aka Studly Doright, and I live in the Florida panhandle just west of Tallahassee. On Wednesday a category 4 hurricane named Michael blew right through our neighborhood and caused some excitement. I happened to be visiting my son and his family in Dallas, so I’ve only gotten second hand reports from Studly as to how our home, Doright Manor, fared.

First things first–he and the cats are fine. We have several trees down, but that was to be expected. He didn’t think there was any damage to the house, but the road in front of Doright Manor is blocked with trees. I’m sure he’ll be out there with his chain saw and axe as soon as the weather allows. The power went out fairly quickly, but we’d bought a huge generator after last year’s storms, and he’ll be able to enjoy his creature comforts.

Studly is an area director for a public utility, so he’s working from home during the storm. He sent me a text early this morning:

Scout is an incredibly helpful cat, especially during conference calls. She thinks Studly is talking to her.

I was supposed to have flown into Panama City Beach today (Thursday), but we changed the flight to Friday. Studly wasn’t sure he could get out of our neighborhood to pick me up in PCB which is a two hour drive on a normal day.

So I’m hanging out with granddog Toby. We had a good walk in his Dallas neighborhood this morning. Now he’s taking it easy and I’m going to read my book. I sure am ready to be home, though.

Peace, people.

Newton’s First Law of Motion as Applied to Walking the Dog

Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, also known as the law of inertia, states that an object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by unbalanced force.

Even though I once taught science to students in fifth and sixth grades I’d never paused to ponder just how Newton’s Laws of Motion applied to dog walking until this morning.

Last night I’d told my son, Jason, and my daughter-in-law that I’d rise early and take Toby, their elderly, furry, coffee table-sized dog, for a walk so they didn’t have to before leaving for their respective jobs. I figured it was the least I could do since they’ve put up with me for nearly a week now.

Toby and I got off to a great start. Jason had already helped him down the steps to the backyard. When I went out Toby was joyfully rolling in the wet grass, so all I had to do was hook the leash onto his collar and coax him through the gate. There was a brief hiccup when Toby saw Jason’s pickup truck pulling out of the driveway. He really wanted to go with his favorite human.

After Jason was safely gone, I allowed Toby to find his path, and he set a slow pace along the sidewalk. When one walks Toby, it’s more of a shuffle than a stride. The goal, of course, was to get him to poop, so when he slowed down even further and began avidly sniffing around a bush I got the poop bag out and was ready to clean up after him. I didn’t realize it wasn’t pooping he had on his mind.

Toby might be old, half deaf, and arthritic, but when a cat shot out from under that apparently delicious smelling bush he quickly went from being an object at rest to being an object in motion. As for me, I became an unbalanced force. By some miracle I kept a firm hold on the leash and applied some energy to keep him from escaping into the yard where I now realized multiple cats were lounging about.

With more nimbleness and agility than I believed I possessed, I managed to insert myself between Toby and the cats, applying an equal and opposite amount of force until he realized resistance was futile. Whew! For a brief moment I knew the whole situation could’ve gone sideways. Lucky for me, Newton’s Laws held true.

We continued our walk, and Toby found a suitable pooping spot. Now we’re safely back in the house where he’s chasing cats in his sleep. I’m pretty sure Newton’s Laws don’t mean a thing in his dreams.

Peace, people.

Poop Duty

Toby, my adorable coffee table sized grand dog, is an elderly Golden Retriever/Something Else mix. He is sweet and handsome, stubborn and manipulative. Taking him for a walk is an adventure played out in slow motion.

I have almost no experience in getting a dog to go poop. I have two cats, neither of whom needs to be taken for a walk in order to do her business. Set up a nice litter pan and the cats are good to go. Number one or number two. Sometimes both.

Dogs are not cats. They have to give one a signal indicating that going potty is on their agenda. People who live with dogs get in sync with their respective canines’ signals, but someone who has only cats (like me, for instance) often err, either on the side of being hyper vigilant about watching for signals or on the side of being too lax. I’m on the hyper vigilant end of the spectrum.

Left alone with Toby for the better part of two days I worried almost constantly that I wasn’t catching his signals, He’d whine, I’d grab his leash. He’d stand up, I’d coax him to the door. He’d lift his leg, I’d panic. Thanks to my vigilance, we didn’t have a single accident; although, I might’ve worn poor Toby out.

I’ll bet he’s careful what signals he sends out tomorrow.

Peace, people!