film noir

Today, November 30th, is St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland. I named my wee Persian buddy Andy after St. Andrew, a nod to my mostly Scottish heritage.

Saltire of Scotland

Saltire of Scotland

In recognition of St. Andrew’s Day, I made a quick video featuring Andy the Persian cat.

In this film noir, I am the victim of a “toothing”. Or am I? The victim, I mean. Dougy, Andy’s brother, is on the scene. What did he see? What does he know? What the heck is his part in the “toothing”? Or DOES he have a part? Can he be made to talk? Or will he cover for his brother? Will the answers show themselves or will more questions arise? And why the heck is SpongeBob smiling that “toothy” smile?

www.scotland.org/celebrate-scotland/st-andrews-day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_noir#Problems_of_definition

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Andy and Dougy are a hit. So are their groomers!

I received a nice “thank you” from Andy and Dougy’s groomers in today’s mail. I mean, the boys are a hit!

The boys are a hit!

The boys are a hit!

Meg, the owner, says: “We appreciate your trust in us, Doug.” [The shop has a great reputation, and the results I’ve had confirm word of mouth!]

Athena says: “Thank you so much! Your cats are a pleasure to do.” […a pleasure to do! Woo hoo, boys! You must blink those big Persian eyes at the groomers!]

Debby says: “We enjoy Doug[y] & Andy! Thank you.” [The boys not only behave, they are favorites of the staff! Way to go my kitty cats, way to go!]

Sarah says: “Thank you very much! Love the boys. :)” [The boys apparently feel the same about their groomers, too, since they behave!]

OK, Andy does look like a little angel! (But that isn't angel dust on his fur...!)

OK, Andy does look like a little angel! (But that isn’t angel dust on his fur…!)

Charlie says: “Thank you very much.” [I left a very nice tip to make up for not realizing until recently, thanks to my Seattle sister and her cat Sox, that it is reasonable to leave groomers tips. I always tip the woman who cuts my hair, so I don’t know why I missed the point of tipping the women who cut the boys’ hair! It’s very obvious now!]

Peggy says: “Wishing you great blessings for the holidays ahead.” [Thanks to this talented group of groomers, the boys look great, they only leave poopballs right before they get their grooming. This month, if the scheduled grooming date had landed closer to the middle of the month, where earlier appointments landed, the poopballs wouldn’t have shown up. That alone makes the boys’ and my life easier, more enjoyable. I guarantee the three of us agree on this one thing: poopbaths for cats is not fun!]

And I say: “Thank you, too, Murphy’s Grooming! I wasn’t prepared for the vicissitudes of Persian cat grooming needs, and you not only took care of the worst of it, you are a hit with the boys and me! AND I won’t forget tips in future!”

chicken salad

Thanksgiving this year was odd in all regards. I made chicken breasts earlier in the week, and ate a couple “Thanksgiving-like” meals with cranberry sauce (my favorite after dressing!), green beans with french fried onions (not a casserole – just sprinkled on top of plain green beans, which was tasty enough!), dressing (lots, since I like this best of all for the herbs used in it), pureed sweet potatoes (simply made with salt, pepper, butter but not the peanut butter I usually like to put in sweet potatoes), and acorn squash (also a favorite that I prepared simply with just salt, pepper, and butter).

I didn’t fix potatoes or dessert, mostly because I had too much of everything else. I don’t like to make so much food I’m eating on the same foods after two days. Nor do I freeze leftovers because I’ve found all that does is preserve them till I toss them out months later…! Fixing meals for one requires a bit of waste if one isn’t careful! The breasts came three (large!) breasts to a package, so I had one left headed into the last day I’d eat one as a leftover.

After two meals of pre-Thanksgiving chicken, I was ready for something different that I could have for lunch, maybe even supper if I didn’t get through it at noon. Chicken salad seemed my best bet for something simple that I could combine with ingredients on hand yet not make so much I ended up wasting part of it.

So, here’s what I put in my chicken salad: cubed chicken breast, cinnamon applesauce (about 1/4 cup), crumbled pecans (lots – I break them up in my hands), fine-shredded carrot (about one medium carrot, mostly for color), cranberry raisins (a nod to the season, and to add texture and a little tartness), powdered ginger (because it adds a little zing to food and I love the combination of chicken and ginger), mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. I don’t use recipes for the most part. When I do I usually add or modify the recipe “to taste”!

Fortunately, I thought the salad tasted just fine, surprise, surprise! I ate it with crackers and mashed potatoes. (What?!) Yeah, it was a strange meal. I had cranberry juice mixed half and half with diet Seven-Up, a further strangeness that somehow worked: This was not your standard Thanksgiving!

holidays

Last year this time I was in bed, very sick.

The week of Thanksgiving, I ate some something like crackers in the morning on Monday, and was bed-ridden till Thanksgiving afternoon, when I ate something else like crackers. I dropped several pounds.

That week was a mess, mostly spent sleeping, with short breaks to get up to feed and water Andy and Dougy. During that time, the boys stopped by to hop on my bed to see how I was doing or just left a toy by my bed, hoping I’d play. I was very touched.

Christmas wasn’t any joy, either, as my mother entered the hospital around the 10th of December. I was too sick myself to go see her, didn’t find out she was in the hospital, in fact, until a couple days after she was taken up there. I stopped by the care center to visit her, and found out she was hospitalized.

Because of my own illness, perhaps illnesses, that began in October and lasted until mid-December, I was physically weak. I didn’t know if I had the strength to make it from the hospital parking lot to my mother’s room. I made it, only after a couple stops in the hallway to rest and get my breath.

I arrived at the door into the patient ward, and found I had to wear a surgical mask and disinfect my hands to visit Mom. She was out of it when I arrived, struggling through a reaction to an antibiotic given to deal with an infection that ultimately contributed to her death.

Each day I went up to the hospital, as my own health and weather allowed, Mom was either sleeping, incoherent, or weak and normal, depending on the infection and her reactions to one of three antibiotics she was given at different times. Her doctor and the ward nurses kept me informed of how she was and why. I called my brother and sisters each time there was significant change in her condition, and we prepared as best we could for what would be.

It was grueling, hope one day, mentally planning for a call telling me she died the next.

Mom’s birthday was the 24th of February. Knowing how ill she was and given her age, my siblings and I decided to get together for her birthday on February 24, 2013, either to celebrate her 98th year of life or to celebrate the life she had in a memorial service.

The day she was taken to the regional hospital in Scottsbluff, I ran into her doctor in the hallway. I’d had a call from the hospital early in the morning (which I didn’t hear, but learned of in my messages). Her doctor had had to restart her heart during the night. He told me when Mom came to, she told him she didn’t want him to do that again.

That Mom felt that way was no surprise to me as she’d told me months earlier when she was in decent shape that that was her wish: Do Not Resuscitate.

I arrived moments before the ambulance to take her to Scottsbluff arrived, just long enough to let her know that we kids loved her, that I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it down there but would try, and I had her wedding and engagement ring at home. They’d taken the rings off her finger because of swelling and the fear they’d have to cut them off if the swelling got too bad. The attendant came in the room, and it was time to throw Mom a last kiss. She nodded in acknowledgement.

The doctor there assured me Mom was out of it most of the time because of a reaction to the antibiotic again.

The morning of January 5, 2013, a short time after Mom was transported to Scottsbluff, I got that call I knew was coming at 4:00 AM. Mom died that night, before I made it down for a visit.

I don’t regret anything. You can’t change what’s happened or what hasn’t happened, so there’s no point stewing about that. Yet, I wish, sometimes, I hadn’t had so much sick time in October through December so I could have spent more time with Mom before she died.

A postscript to this: I called my siblings. We did get together for Mom’s 98th birthday, February 24th, a celebration of her life and not of one more birthday added to her total lifetime. She asked to be cremated. The wedding and engagement rings were sealed in the urn with her ashes.

I spent a lot of January putting together a memorial video, using photos my Seattle sister and I had of Mom and her life, a video of Mom singing, and “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes. (Mom was very proud of her Scottish heritage.) In just under eight minutes, it served as our contribution to Mom’s memorial service since none of my siblings nor I felt we would be able to stand up and speak about Mom.

Not fooled!

Today is the boys’ appointment with their groomer, Sarah. Though they seem to enjoy the time at the groomer’s (per Sarah), they aren’t too keen on the trip there, a total of two small blocks, by car!

I’ve approached the task various ways in past, usually with some small success, which is to say, one is easily captured and put in the carrier, and the other gets me all sweaty trying to catch him!

Last time, Andy was the bad kitty. Or was it Dougy. It comes down to one thing: The first one is easy and the second one never is.

I start the process the night before, sometimes even days before if I think of it, by setting the carrier on the small sofa. Andy likes to climb on top of it when it’s there, so often times is Cat Number 1 caught and imprisoned.

The next cat, seeing something’s up, finds the obscure hiding place. That’s why today I blocked their way to all three of the nightmare spots for catching cats: my bedroom, the guest bedroom, and the bathroom. As each escape route was closed over a two-hour period, the boys became suspicious, and clustered together, something they usually don’t do.

Round ’em up, head ’em out! It’s getting closer and closer to when I have to take them over to Sarah. Andy’s over by the cat tree, watching, watching, watching. Dougy’s not to be seen, though there aren’t too many places he can be. Maybe I can just follow the poopballs to him, you suppose?*

* (Cheap shot on my part! I haven’t seen another poopball since I reported the issue last week. Anything for a laugh!)

a slow melt

november 23 2013 weather

At noon, we are just about at the predicted high for the day. The sun’s out, though, and there’s been some melting.

The people who shovel the walks at this complex now shovel around and behind my car, which is nice. The prevailing winds this time of year always put a drift along the driver’s side of the car, and there are times I’ve ignored the weather report only to wake up to a deep drift to climb through to enter my car.

If any significant winds and snow are predicted, I back my car into place so the driver’s side is relatively snow-free. Of course, since large drifts always form by the front and back doors, if there are any snowstorms bad enough to put a large drift by my driver’s side, I probably can’t open my door to get out anyway!

Not always, but most times, the people who clear snow get on it in a timely manner. They are a small group, so, unless you call to let them know you have a specific reason to get out of your house and driveway before they get to it, they start at one end of the complex and work to the other, systematically opening up lanes first, then sidewalks, then parking spots. All in all, they do a good job of a tough assignment, so I don’t complain.

I didn’t plan on leaving the house today anyway.

I keep the heat low in my place since I always can snuggle under a comforter (which I like to do!), and that way I can save the place money. Of course, the cooler apartment means yesterday, today, probably the next few days are my favorite breakfast days: oatmeal the way I like to fix it!

Today’s oatmeal was a nutmeg-brown sugar-pecan business that I ate with peanut butter toast, coffee, and cranberry juice. I should have eaten an orange or grapefruit, too, but I have bananas on the counter. I had one of those.

As you doubtlessly know, once you reach a certain age, you don’t buy green bananas…well, I’m not there yet, but I still have the problem of eating them before they turning into banana bread bananas. (AKA “rotten garbage”.) As much as I like a piece of banana bread (with pecans instead of walnuts) with peanut butter spread on it, I don’t need to have yummy baked goods around. I’m fat enough!

Snow day

We have snow and cold today. Per tradition, I let the boys see the snow. They always are curious about it…. Dougy wants to get right in it; Andy wants to get right in it, but isn’t sure if he’s just kidding himself or what. (Seriously, Andy’s scared snotless by the great outside!)

weather 21 nov 2013

Dougy would run away if I let him outside. He’d follow his nose wherever it took him. That’s the bad news about Dougy, the reason I have to be very careful about knowing where he is when I hold the door open!

The snow gave me a chance to try out my new camera in extreme lighting, and it handles it pretty well for a little point-and-shoot camera! I think the video quality is great, too. The money was well spent!

hd

I took a few stills of Dougy, too, before I decided a video’d be a good idea. All used flash, and none really appealed to me. This one of Dougy contemplating a little snow is about as good as it got. Frankly, I could get better stills by [Print Screen] off the video!

Dougy notices the snow by the door...

Dougy notices the snow by the door…

a little surprise

Anyone with a long-haired critter knows what it’s like. You’re walking barefoot through the house, usually, typically in the dark, and your foot comes on something wet and squishy…!

Well, this morning, after smelling a strong smell of poop while seated at my computer and thinking “someone” laid a minefield in the litter box a few feet over, I noticed a small, roundish object under my desk.

“Hmm!” I thought, “Looks like a ball of hair.” (I know! I know! Twenty-twenty hindsight suggests I was goofy to think “hairball” when 2 + 2 = ….)

I examined it with my big toe: It felt wettish, not particularly squishy, so I pressed a little harder and drew my foot toward me….

Yep! A poopball, beyond doubt, not that there was any doubt of that to any sentient being before I put my big toe on it, eh?!

I’m no virgin to poopballs, having had long-haired cats two years and four months, only now it was a squished, smeared poopball – in the carpet, on my big toe (it curled over the tip and smeared onto my toenail as well)….

May I be forgiven if I then spoke my favorite word, ironically, loudly at the precise moment 2 + 2 =’d “poopball”?

“SHIT!!!”

There was a used paper towel on my desk for some reason, fortuitously, so I wiped up the poopball smeared on my big toe, and tossed it. I found a sponge I’d used last to clean up hairball and cat vomit (every cat household has one…), wet it, and finished cleaning the carpet of the smear.

Because Thanksgiving in America is a week from tomorrow, the boys regular visit to their cat groomer was moved from the usual Thursday to next Monday, November 25th. Good! Once I start finding poopballs with my bare feet, I can’t wait till grooming day.

I’d toyed with letting the boys wear their hair long instead of in a teddy bear cut because they are especially pretty now with longish hair. The shorter hair, though, corrects the one thing that is unpleasant about having long-haired cats. Well, three: mats, hairballs, and poopballs hanging off their little butts to be carried into the house to fall off – always! – on the carpet.

Mats and hairballs are easily controlled with brushing and diet. Poopballs…! Yes, I’ve decided to let the boys wear a bit longer hair, but their little butts, underside of the base of their tails, and the hair that traps poop on their hind legs will get the hygienic trim job.

Andy’s fine whiskers

2011-01-01 Andy in window and on desk 004

Dougy has a handsome ruff and very distinct smoke Persian pelage. Andy has a kittenish face with huge whiskers! His tail’s pretty magnificent, too.

The photo shows Andy’s fine whiskers; the video, his fine tail. You’ve probably seen the video before, but, well, it’s a favorite of mine!

When you have two cats that are essentially identical in appearance, it’s handy to have distinctive field marks to keep them straight!

Smoke Persian qualities show on the boys when their hair is longer.

Smoke Persian qualities show on the boys when their hair is longer.

I don’t think there is a better photo of Dougy to show you how different he looks in the face (wider head, greater spacing between eyes, more developed ruff).

He’s also physically bigger, which may be why Andy always uses the litter box when I use the toilet: I’m there to distract Dougy! (Dougy always follows me in and walks back and forth under my legs when I am holding court from the throne, so to speak!)