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.

In Praise of Patience

Late Thursday evening Studly Doright and I returned home to Doright Manor here in the panhandle of Florida. We’d left Port Byron, Illinois, on Wednesday morning after celebrating our middle granddaughter’s birthday with a family breakfast at a restaurant of her choice in Moline. I wish I’d thought to take a photo that morning, but this is our lovely 14-year-old McKayla.

Studly and I departed from Moline and started towards home, only he didn’t take the exit our gps indicated. When I questioned him he just said, “Patience.”

After nearly three hours of patience we ended up in Champaign, Illinois, to have brunch downtown at Sam’s Cafe. We both love Sam’s, where the pancakes are the best and the French toast is out of this world. The old diner on Walnut Street is nothing much to look at, but oh, how we’ve missed it. I’d come down with a cold on Tuesday night, but that French toast tasted like it might cure all my ailments.

We left Sam’s and finally took a southbound road out of Champaign. I figured that since we’d dawdled for the first three hours of the day that Studly would be in a mood to make up some ground. I was wrong. Somewhere south of Marion, IL, he took an exit that had us traveling a winding road through Vienna down to Metropolis where we stopped for a burger at Fat Edd’s Roadhouse before checking in at Harrah’s casino and hotel. I was baffled. It was just barely 5 p.m. We never stop before 7 p.m. when traveling like this. When I asked Studly if he’d been abducted by aliens and reprogrammed to wander aimlessly he just said, “Patience.”

We didn’t go into the casino. Instead we watched tv and snuggled into the first truly comfortable bed we’d had all week. I took cold medicine and slept like a rock for much of the night. As soon as we were back in the car on Thursday morning Studly turned in the opposite direction our gps indicated. I didn’t bother asking what he was doing. “Patience” seemed to be the only answer I’d get anyway.

I should have anticipated that his intended destination was food related. When we lived in Illinois, Studly’s job took him to the Metropolis area often, and there he discovered Rube’s Cafe. Rube’s serves biscuits and gravy made exactly like Studly’s mother makes them, and he’s been dreaming about them since we moved from Illinois six years ago. I had a bacon and cheese omelet while Studly feasted on biscuits and gravy. I believe there was a tear in his eye as we drove away.

The remainder of the trip was fairly straightforward; although, I did plot us a route that avoided major metropolitan areas. We used the gps sparingly, and I navigated us on peaceful backroads through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

I seriously enjoy reading maps, and the activity kept me alert all day. Our route added an hour to the original route’s estimated arrival time, but we avoided the stress of the holiday traffic crush, and perhaps some major delays around Nashville in Tennessee, and Birmingham and Montgomery in Alabama.

I’ll take this over the interstate any day:

There’s a lot to be said in favor of patience.

Peace, people.

Still More Photos from the Road

Technically, Studly Doright and I weren’t driving today. We’re staying at a hotel in Le Claire, Iowa, across the river from our daughter’s house in Port Byron, Illinois. Still, though, we are away from Doright Manor so any photos I take are fair game. Plus, I’m worn out, so coming up with a new title was beyond my present capabilities.

Our hotel is right on the Mississippi River, and our room has a river view.

We have a lovely balcony, but the weather is a bit too chilly for hanging around outside.

Last night my daughter, granddaughter, her friend, and I attended a dinner theatre production of Annie. The evening was part of our granddaughter’s birthday gift–her big day is December 26, and often it gets kind of lost with all of the other holiday activities. The dinner theatre was a perfect way to celebrate.

Today is Christmas Eve, and we plan to bring the grandkids to the hotel for a swim while the parents take care of other important stuff.

In other news, this kid loves bacon.

More Pictures from the Road

On Saturday Studly and I traveled the second leg of our Christmas journey, driving from Clarksville, Tennessee, to Port Byron, Illinois. We made good time and soon were hugging our daughter and three of our five grandkids.

This is how the youngest one dressed to greet us in 33° weather:

After getting the grandkids all riled up we headed to a pizza place across the river in LeClaire, Iowa, where we played pinball and Pac-Man, tried our luck with the claw game and the fortune telling machine while the pizza was being cooked. I was too busy playing to take any pictures, but I took this one of the granddaughters posing as the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who in front of a shop in LeClaire.

There wasn’t nearly as much NASCAR style driving going on today, so my sanity isn’t in question as it was last night. I didn’t take many photos from the passenger seat today either, but we did pass a truck carrying its payload in an unorthodox manner:

Studly called my attention to this odd sight as we approached the truck north of Springfield, Illinois. We pondered for many miles how this little car was loaded onto the bed of the truck.

Other than these two pictures I only snapped a few others:

Studly got a bit excited when he saw snow on the side of the road. I hope that’s the ONLY snow we see this week; although, the forecast is calling for a white Christmas.

That’s part of the Peoria, Illinois, skyline, above. Not a great photo, but Peoria is kind of a cool river town.

As I type this, Studly and I are unwinding in our cozy hotel room with a view of the Mississippi River outside our window. We’re watching the Kansas Jayhawks play basketball while recharging our batteries for tomorrow’s activities with the grandkids. We’re going to need all the energy we can muster. Wish us luck.

Peace, people.

Pictures from the Road

Studly Doright and I are heading north to spend Christmas with our daughter who lives near Moline, Illinois. I’d intended to write today’s blog post as Studly drove, but I couldn’t concentrate on writing while he was navigating the bumper to bumper traffic.

Things got a little intense a time or two. Going through Dothan, Alabama, a car came within inches of plowing into my door. Only Studly’s quick reflexes kept us from getting hit. Then somewhere north of Nashville a car stopped abruptly in the left hand lane of I-24. Again Studly’s quick thinking prevented an accident. My hero!

So, I didn’t write a thing until we got to our hotel room, and all I have to show for today’s blog are three photos taken while Studly drove:

I have a fondness for Piggly Wiggly signage. My dad managed a Piggly Wiggly grocery store for much of my life, and I met Studly when he worked for my dad at the Piggly Wiggly in Dumas, Texas.

This huge confederate flag waves over a section of I-65 in Alabama. Confederate flag memorabilia is sold in every gas station and convenience store along the interstate. The current president is quite popular in these parts, and I’m always in a hurry to get out of this state.

Traffic in the southbound lanes of I-65 came to a standstill due to a nasty accident just outside of Nashville. Look how far back the headlights go in the distance. Too many people all trying to get somewhere for the holidays. Hoping no one was seriously injured in the wreck.

Tomorrow’s traffic should be less hectic. There won’t be any major cities to navigate between Nashville and Moline, but if you don’t hear from me tomorrow you’ll know I’ve surrendered my sanity.

Peace, people.

Planted in Peoria

Today I was supposed to fly home to Florida from my daughter’s home in Illinois. My flight was scheduled for 11:28 a.m., and being somewhat anal about the whole two-hour pre-flight arrival time I checked in at, you guessed it, 9:28.

As I sat at the gate reading I received two texts in quick succession. The first pushed the flight back to noon, the second moved it forward to 11:40. No biggie. I’d still have plenty of time to make my connecting flight in Atlanta.

The flight arrived and we boarded the small commuter plane. I’d begun reading my book and barely noticed that the flight attendant was speaking. It seemed our plane needed some parts–parts that weren’t on hand, and even if they had been, there was no one available to install them.

We deplaned and now it looks doubtful that I’ll make it home tonight. They are attempting to send us a new plane (not NEW new, but new to us), but it will have to come from Burlington, VT. So, the current departure time is either five or six or maybe four or never, depending on who one asks.

The Peoria airport is pleasant, but tiny. It’s not like airports in Minneapolis or Orlando or Chicago that are basically shopping malls that accommodate air travel. I’ve already eaten at the only cafe twice and shopped at the lone shop three times. Who knows? By the time I leave the shop might have a completely new inventory.

Okay, I’m going to get up and walk. Maybe I’ll shop again.

Peace, people.

Musings from an Airport

Wondering why…

I rushed to the airport this morning only to have my flight delayed not once, but twice.

The guy who looks like an accountant is carrying a badass guitar case. Is this a new trend? Buttoned-down Rock? Calculator Cool?

The lady beside me can snore with such abandon in a bright, public space when I have trouble sleeping in a quiet, darkened room.

Some people wear their pajamas to the airport. Seriously? Don’t they know this isn’t Walmart?

I ate something spicy for breakfast. 😳

Flying seemed like such a good idea when I planned this trip. I could’ve been well down the road by now.

Peace, people!

Up, Up, and Away

There’s an airline ticket for today with my name on it. Not a paper ticket; how passé those are these days. No, mine is an e-ticket, which of course I printed out because at my age it’s still a little unnerving not to have physical proof of my reservation. Never mind that the acknowledgment of my ticket purchase is in my email, and that I also took a screenshot of it. Nothing makes me feel more secure than having the darned thing printed on something tangible.

I remember when airline travel was the purview of the well-to-do. Women dressed to fly as if they were headed to church, and gentlemen donned suits and ties. Flight attendants were all female and had to meet strict age, height, and weight guidelines.

By the time I finally got to fly, airlines were much more egalitarian. No one got all dressed up to sit on a crowded plane between two sweaty businessmen. Flight attendants, male and female alike, looked like normal people instead of models. Still, flying was an exciting event for me. It still is.

Even though I flew regularly as part of my job with a non-profit for several years, I never tired of traveling by plane. Sure, there have been trying times–lost luggage, cancelled flights, ornery seat-kicking kids in the row directly behind mine, but still I’m entranced by the magical experience of a giant metal machine full of people overcoming the bonds of gravity to soar from point A to point B.

Hopefully all will go smoothly today, and in just a few hours after taking off from the Tallahassee airport I’ll be with my daughter and her family in Illinois. Magic.

Peace, people!

The Passenger

Old cowboys don’t die

They board planes and fly away

Run down boots, no spurs

I picture his horse

Long put out to green pastures

Bent neck and swayed back

The man still stands tall

Smelling of leather and dust

Old straw hat in hand

I wrote this while waiting in line at a Southwest gate in Dallas. The photos aren’t great–I was trying to be surreptitious.