Post 294: “Snow” day like today to break out the hot chocolate!

Last day of January, and there is light snow greeting us this morning. Break out the hot chocolate and wrap up in a warm blankie! Andy and Dougy have their warm spots picked out even as I type.

Dougy sneaks a peek at the snow out the back door.

Dougy sneaks a peek at the snow out the back door.

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Post 293: “The best part was when we got home!”

Yesterday morning was Andy and Dougy’s semi-monthly grooming appointment.

I knew it would be an ordeal catching both to put them in the carrier. It always is. I try to strike a balance, then, between catching them in time to take them for their appointment, but not so early they have to spend excessive time in the carrier. Andy handles it well enough, but Dougy is a whiner…!

Different tricks work different times, but the boys are onto the old “close all doors to bedrooms and the bathroom” plan and “leave the carrier door open so the boys can get used to the idea of exploring and being inside it” trick.

The game starts when I select the most likely first victim. Andy came first this time. He always traps himself. (Good boy!) But I always get a hard workout in the process. Yesterday, he made a tactical error, and climbed onto their cat tree to hide in the tube at top.

Andy's in the tube at the top of the cat tree, and the new carrier is on the settee.

Andy’s in the tube at the top of the cat tree, and the new carrier is on the settee.

I just reached in the front, grabbed him mother cat style by the nape of his neck, and pulled him out. He was as surprised as me at how fast and effortless this entrapment had been! Next time, he won’t go there, guaranteed!

Now, to catch Dougy. I get around with a cane, but can get around adequately well without it at home because there are points along the trail I can hang onto if necessary for balance or support. Sofas, desks, table, chairs, bed, the floor…! Ha! Dougy made me use them all.

He ran to the south bedroom, only to find the door closed…! He assessed his position, and ran behind the recliner. I tried to catch him by tossing a comforter over him, but he slipped away to the kitchen.

I looked and looked. “Dougy! Where are you?” I said, noting that I had 15 minutes to trap the last cat and make it two blocks to the groomers’. He was silent as a mouse…. I spotted him hiding behind a box. I was sweating heavily, mad at the bad kitty, not making much progress catching him, and – irony of ironies – then he ran into the kitty fort I recently made the boys out of a salmon-colored tub Dougy likes and several boxes taped together. Yeah, the one with holes connecting each box so a cat can escape a brother chasing him. Or me when I try to catch that cat to put him in the carrier!

“Rats! Foiled again!” I said. (Actually, it was much more colorful by this time, but I try to keep this blog sort of G-rated.)

I tried to grab Dougy through one hole, then another. In frustration, noting I had to catch and cage Dougy in less than five minutes if I hoped to be on time, I grabbed the end of the fort, lifted, and attempted to dump him out.

Oh, he got out! He ran behind, then under the raised fort, over to the kitchen table mess, and I knew my hopes of an easy catch were slim. He could hide under the wagon (twice), he could hide behind the cat carriage (two, three times), he could hide under chairs (multiple times), he could run under the table to the side opposite from me, and I couldn’t move fast enough to catch him (over and over!!!).

Dougy tried my patience, left me soaked in sweat (then I’d have to go, wet, into 14 degrees F outside to the car). It seemed unlikely we’d be on time. It was a test of wills. Then, at one minute before “too late”, he trapped himself behind some items that fell off the table during this chase that landed behind the wagon. I reached down, grabbed him mother cat style, and transported his whining butt over to the hoosgow!

Yeah, taunt me, Dougy!

Yeah, taunt me, Dougy!

I laughed sadistically! “You are mine now, kitty! Meow-how-how-how! (That’s my imitation of an evil cat laugh…!)

The new carrier has wheels and a pull-along handle. It is a good investment, and I really appreciated the benefit of not having to carry the dang thing after this cat round up.

Dougy whined, of course, because of the noise of wheels on pavement, but we got to the car – preheated for the comfort of all. Amazingly enough, we actually arrived at the groomers’ shop moments before one of them arrived to open it!

From then on, the boys would be pampered all morning at the groomers’! Dougy was a good boy (so the groomers said), and so was Andy, though he gets bored and growly after a point.

When I picked them up four or so hours later, pulled them into the house and opened the carrier door, they rushed out, sniffed each other, sniffed the carrier, sniffed the floor, sniffed the bag of cat litter I set down by the cat fort a moment earlier, ran into the front room to sniff everything there, then both ran back out into the dining area to sniff around the table before having one good whiff of each other’s butts. (Seriously!) Dougy ate a little dry food and got a good, long drink at the fountain. Then Andy got a good, long drink.

“The best part was when we got home,” they seemed to say!

Post 292: some things are more important to do

My plans for yesterday were simple: I’d wallow in all the build-up to the State of the Union speech, watch the speech and responses, and go to bed.

Around 8:30 AM, however, I had a telephone call from the woman at RSVP. A veteran missed the Veterans Administration van to Hot Springs, South Dakota. He had an afternoon appointment to evaluate the next steps to deal with a broken left knee – ow! – and would I be available to take him there?

It was a “no brainer”. This Desert Shield veteran had a serious injury, not some routine check up he could reschedule with no particular consequences, and he turned out to be someone I knew because I worked for decades with members of his family at the hose factory. I know his mother and father, several aunts and uncles, some cousins. Of course I’d drive him to the VA in South Dakota! Gladly!

The trip was uneventful. We got to the clinic ahead of schedule, and that gave him a slight advantage in that they took him in for his evaluation before schedule, a bit of serendipity since the injured knee, in a brace, still gave him some discomfort when we rode over bumps. As you can imagine, the best part of his day would be when we finally got back home and he could better control the discomfort and pain of the knee.

Good luck with the surgery on that knee later this week, Norman!

Six hours and forty-five minutes of my time given to help this man. Though I wanted to wallow in the State of the Union speech hubbub at the start of the day, a telephone call reminded me some things are more important to do.

Post 291: “You lie!”

Following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight there’ll be the spectacle of three rebuttal speeches delivered by elements of the Republican Party.

The actual Republican response will come from Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She serves from Oregon in the US House of Representatives. Had the other two “speechifiers” held back, Representative McMorris Rodgers’ response could have served as visual “evidence” that Republicans actually think women can handle responsibilities without a man behind them. The Congresswoman is known to be competent and conservative.

The Tea Party response comes from Utah Senator Mike Lee. You remember him for his part in the Federal Government shutdown in October 2013, as an ally of Texas Senator Ted Cruz. I presume he didn’t cause the shutdown either since Senator Cruz recently made the claim he had nothing to do with it. Maybe it was the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Tennessee Senator Rand Paul will offer up a third response from his Libertarian point of view. Of the three responses, Senator Paul’s seems more an opportunity to promote the Senator’s personal ambitions to be President than a necessity.

I'm trying to find the horns. He doesn't seem to have any horns. Is the Right lying about the horns? Where are the horns???

I’m trying to find the horns. He doesn’t seem to have any horns. Is the Right lying about the horns? Where are the horns???

Three responses. Doesn’t say “one party” to me, though the reality of the Republican Party these days is that it isn’t one diverse party working toward a common goal. It’s three parties within one, all trying to beat out the others, a dysfunctional marriage verging on a divorce.

If the leadership of the Republican Party were capable, they’d work to consolidate these three responses into one. My probably simplistic point of view is one consolidated message would come across as equivalent, just different from that of the Democratic Party’s as delivered by the President. Three individual responses just shows how divided that party is.

Of course, I’m not sympathetic to any of the three, so let them fall on their faces for all I care. I’ll listen, try to hear the messages tonight, but can they top the infamous outburst of Republican Congressman Addison Graves “Joe” Wilson, Sr. of South Carolina, who, in a fit of passion, called President Obama a liar twice during the 2009 State of the Union Address!?

Joe Wilson’s outburst is the most outrageous behavior I’ve every seen during one of these speeches, though the way clapping always follows party lines is a clown joke, grade school posturing.

For that matter, having Republicans sit on one side and Democrats on the other reminds me of how grade schoolers tend to self-segregate into boys on one side and girls on the other of a classroom unless the teacher assigns seats alphabetically. Would America have better government if we arranged the House and the Senate alphabetically? LOL! Couldn’t be worse than what we have.

Civility isn’t that hard. Nor is it too hypocritical to give the President a little polite applause even though you intend to obstruct every damn thing he tries to get done during his term of office: applaud politely but put on a “whiney-face”! Watch Speaker of the House John Boehner if you think that can’t be done.

Post 290: Send in the clowns!

Tomorrow is the wonkiest, wackiest day of the year, the day the President of the United States of America gives his State of the Union speech. I look forward to this exercise to inform the people of the day’s issues and policies proposed by the various elements of our political process to turn America into a Utopian wonder.

...as viewed by Democrats

…as viewed by Democrats

Oh come on! I’m sorry! I tried to write that without irony, but I pride myself on readers who know “snarky” when they come across it! But I do look forward to the four speeches – yes, FOUR!!! – three of which it takes these days to tell us the President is a Nazi-Socialist-Communist-Muslim-Kenyan-big government-bankrupting mistake and not worth our respect but not because he’s black… oh, no!

Regardless, the opposition will continue to obstruct any progress whatsoever in America until they take over the reins of government, which I hope is no time soon if I have my way.

...as viewed by the Republicans

…as viewed by the Republicans

Well, I’ll allow them one term so I can find absolutely everything the Republican President does to be totally wrong and destructive to the American way of life. If his name is Jesus, he still will have no credibility, I guarantee! After five years of Republicans working to subvert the current US President’s efforts, I’ll enjoy watching one of theirs enjoy karmic return on their investment in the success of the Obama presidency!

...as viewed by the TPers

…as viewed by the TPers

Seriously, I pray something better comes about: The real Republicans reclaim their party, and the Tea Party-ites and Libertarians break away to form their own unelectable political stump parties.

...as viewed by Libertarians.

…as viewed by Libertarians.

There will be few, if any surprises tomorrow, though there is the circus of four speeches where one can rail, rant, revolt against any combination of three points of view one selects from the four available.

Ain’t America great? I’m drooling, going into a cross-eyed coma of anticipation at what’s coming! Set up the circus and…

SEND IN THE CLOWNS!

Post 289: Robert Burns Day 2014 and other matters of a Scottish nature

It’s a glorious day to be a Scot! It’s the 255th birthday of the Bard of Scotland, Robert Burns. Even as I type, Scots around the world have begun the traditional Burns supper, more observed than the national holiday in honor of Andy’s namesake, St. Andrew.

So, let’s say the traditional Selkirk Grace to begin the celebration!

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.

Though I’ll skip the haggis, I won’t forget the Scotch!

Picture 251

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Further, on a Scottish theme, when I discussed funeral details with my Mom a couple years before she died, we agreed that there was one thing that needed to be included, “A Scottish Rendition of the 23rd Psalm”, a text version of which my Scottish immigrant grandmother had hanging in her front room as long as I can remember. After she moved in with us on Mississippi Avenue, it was a possession that came with her. After 2004, it would hang on a wall of the apartment I now occupy, no less treasured for its family associations.

I had a meeting with our pastor to discuss Mom’s funeral arrangements well before she died so those details would be in his file, a time and stress saver for him and me when that terrible time came.

I mentioned Mom’s wish to have the video of her singing the “Barney Google” song, which pastor agreed would capture a lot of Mom’s good humor, therefore was appropriate. Other details, mundane sorts of things like hymns, the theme of pastor’s funeral sermon, and Bible verses she wanted included in the service quickly fell into place.

I had the framed Scottish 23rd Psalm with me when I met with our pastor that day. I told pastor the history of this version of the 23rd Psalm. It was something Mom and the family absolutely wanted included in the service…. I told pastor not only was this Scottish rendition of a beloved Psalm a connection with her mother, it was a family treasure. Mom wanted it included in the service and she wanted the pastor to read it!

I handed it to pastor so he could familiarize himself with the task:

23rd psalm edited scottish

Pastor took me at my word. A frown crossed his face. He didn’t want to disappoint the family, if possible, but…! He would have to read this unreadable text, in Scottish dialect, as written, at Mom’s funeral. Mom and the family expected it!

Well, Mom got a huge laugh out of this story when I reported back to her the next time I visited her at the care center. So did pastor once he realized we weren’t serious about him tackling the Psalm in this exotic form! The standard King James version proved just fine when the time came! The Scottish version, above, was printed in the funeral pamphlet for people to see and attempt to read, though I doubt any tried to read it out loud.

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Here’s a small sample of Robert Burns poems set to music. Strong men cry, their women swoon. No Scot is immune to Robbie Burns!

Post 288: oh yeah, the cathouse and silver vine

Yesterday, a big bang interrupted the thought and direction of the post. Today, I’ll tidy up a bit, try to finish yesterday’s thought.

The big bang still is a mystery, but I know one or the other cat knocked something off of something else. I’ll find it someday while cleaning or moving furniture. In the meantime, there haven’t been fumes, flames, or broken things strewn about, no blood or broken bodies. I think it might be their Cat’s Meow toy, which used to be on top of a desk, but now is on the seat of the chair in front of it.

As for the matter of Andy and getting him to have more fun, he really, really, really liked the peacock feather! Dougy did, too, but that was like saying the fat kid likes ice cream: Dougy really, really, really likes all toys and play things!

Cat slobber and claws are tough on peacock feathers. I wonder how peacocks would be on cats?!

Cat slobber and claws are tough on peacock feathers. I wonder how peacocks would be on cats?!

As for the cathouse, as mentioned yesterday, I wasn’t even finished assembling it, and Andy, then Dougy checked it out. It was a huge success in terms of cat approvals, though the duct tape wasn’t up to the task of sticking down tightly in some critical spots. I probably will have to get some more tape to keep it together.

Have you heard of silver vine? It has many uses, but cats are supposed to respond to it in a way like catnip, only more intensely. Sure, I bought some for the boys, just to see how they liked it!

The package text was almost all in Japanese, but I poured out half a packet for the boys. Turns out that's the "dose" alright!

The package text was almost all in Japanese, but I poured out half a packet for the boys. Turns out that’s the “dose” alright!

Seems simple enough, eh? Dose up your cats and watch them get it on! They have fun, you have fun, you all laugh and frolic together! Woo hoo! Better than catnip, and we know how good that is!

Dougy went over by the door, rolled over on his back with hind legs stretched straight out and forelegs curled on his chest: He was maxed out on silver vine, let me tell you! Mellowed out, not playful in the least, though an argument for stress reduction seems to apply.

Here's what the amazon description said about this Japanese alternative to catnip.

Here’s what the amazon description said about this Japanese alternative to catnip.

Andy hit the dust twice, snorting deeply. While his brother rested in bliss by the door, Andy hopped up on the cathouse, walked around the top, hopped down on the floor, paced around, tail twitching. Need I emphasize his “horns” were up?

Andy pounced Dougy, who still in bliss on his back, literally didn’t know what hit him. Andy dug deep into Dougy’s thick fur, biting and ripping out hair! In a flash, Dougy regained sobriety, and the brothers were a ball of fur rolling and tossing around on the floor! Andy harvested more hair. Poor Dougy let out a yelp. Though Andy is at least a pound lighter than his brother, he’s a scrappy little fart, and Dougy looked like he wasn’t having a good time at all: silver vine isn’t on his list of favorite cat amusements!

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Dougy finally, finally, broke away from Andy’s grip and teeth. Andy spit out more fur, and Dougy took refuge in the cathouse. Yes, the silver vine powder seems to be a bit more intense than my boys can handle. Back to raising catnip on my window shelf. Anyone want some left over silver vine powder?

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Postscript: Don’t worry about Andy and Dougy! They are best of buddies, and sometimes do play rough. After that, they return to less vigorous brotherly love! For example, after the silver vine wore off, they sniffed each other, and all was back to same-old-same-old, no harm done other than a few chunks of Dougy fur removed from his thick coat. I can’t figure out where it came from, his coat is so thick. Well, his pride was hurt a little, but that was soon over.

Post 287: cathouse or piled box eyesore?

Every box that comes into the house requires cat examination, exploration, and determination of suitability for cat habitation.

Over time, the piles of boxes gets out of hand. I bang around in my smallish apartment trying to negotiate between the physical presence of the boxes and the emotional attachment of the boys to “their” boxes. They notice, believe it, when I try to slip one or two out in the trash!

This morning, I felt Dougy and Andy weren’t putting much into their play with the “feather on a pole” toy. I remembered there were peacock feathers in the cleaning closet behind the boxes piled between the kitchen and dining areas…. The boys hadn’t played with peacock feathers for months. Moving the piled boxes out of way, I retrieved one peacock feather from the closet.

Now I remember why I rarely bring out the peacock feathers! This one got one play session.

Now I remember why I rarely bring out the peacock feathers! This one got one play session.

Sitting on a dining room chair, I played “peacock feather” with the boys. Dougy isn’t fussy how I present a toy: He’s always up! Andy, however, is fussy about how his toys are presented. His style is “dig the mouse out of the wall”. He likes to catch his prey by touch rather than sight.

“I need to find a way to increase Andy’s play time. Dougy gets the fun, Andy gets to watch him have fun,” I thought.

Staring at the pile of boxes, I remembered seeing a new roll of duct tape in the tool drawer a few days ago. “I’m going to make something out of the pile of boxes so people coming here think it’s a pile with purpose, not just poor housekeeping!” (Of course, even modified it is, erm, an eyesore…!)

Andy and Dougy's new, improved box pile,

Andy and Dougy’s new, improved box pile,

Not only is the pile taped together, there are openings that allow an adventuresome kitty to go in one box and come out another! The construction wasn’t finished before Andy and Dougy started to check out the changes, popping inside for a sniff and look around. The “new” cathouse is a hit!

Catch as catch can: It's fuzzy focus because Andy and Dougy give you one chance for a shot before they start hiding from the flash. Too bad! This would have been a good one otherwise!

Catch as catch can: It’s fuzzy focus because Andy and Dougy give you one chance for a shot before they start hiding from the flash. Too bad! This would have been a good one otherwise!

See what I mean? Hiding his sweet little face now that he knows the flash is out!

DSCN0182

Just heard a crash and a startled “meow”. It came from the north bathroom. When I took a quick look, Dougy and Andy both had a suspicious look about them, but I didn’t see what went boom! I better do that now.

Post 286: rut sweet rut

Yesterday Andy and Dougy had problems dealing with a deviation from the usual morning routine. I broke away from routine again today. They were not amused!

I usually feed the boys, then watch the news. I fix breakfast for myself at 6 AM, eat, then hit the computer and catch up on Facebook and all the blogs I follow.

Today I fed the boys, then hit the computer. Dougy was very upset. He sat by my computer chair and meowed over and over that I was in the wrong place, that I needed to watch the news! (Of course, while I watch the news, I play “feather toy” with him, so I guess I understand his anxiety!)

DSCN0148

Andy came by and put his front paws on my arm, his way of letting me know I was off base for the second day in a row! He wanted to sleep on the end table by my chair, but (apparently) couldn’t do that unless I was there in the chair. Gad!

You know I stopped what I was doing on the computer and moved over to the chair to watch the news.

The boys settled down. I played “feather toy” with Dougy. Andy curled up on the end table. We were back on track, back in our morning rut, purring and happy again.

Post 285: straight and narrow

I live by my cats’ habits. That’s a given. Today, though, I deviated, didn’t respond to morning routine the way the boys thought I should.

Well, I did get up and sit on the edge of my bed. I was awake already. Andy hopped up on my bed, “happy-pawed” my pillows, purred, until I touched him on the back. Then he jumped on a box where he likes to watch me when I’m playing like I am asleep. I guess he thought I might go back to bed instead of continue to sit on the edge of it.

Still, Andy clearly felt it was time to feed the kitties: he hopped off the box and gently placed his front paws on my leg, stared sadly for a moment, then took up a vigil at my feet. This is one time his paws and my flesh aren’t connected with claws…! Mostly, he’s a mild cat, but he is fussy about being held, touched. You learn how to gauge the moments where it’s OK or not. The claws generally settle the matter. No claws: Andy’s begging nicely for something!

Dougy started his leg-rub routine till I “invited” him to hop on my bed for a good petting. He was in the mood for food, too, so, two-to-one, I knew I had to put out the chow…or else!

Cats fed, I decided to return to bed. Why not? I can watch the news stretched out in bed just as easily as I can watch it from a chair. Actually, more easily!

I hadn’t counted on the boys’ reaction to deviation from expectations. Andy came back into the bedroom, sat down by my bed, and meowed. Ordinarily, he is a quiet cat, a cat that grabs your hand if he’s upset with you – or just playing! Context lets you know the difference, though the mauling feels pretty much the same for “unhappy” and “playing”.

Dougy hopped up on my bed and meowed, too. He’s more vocal, but rarely meows more than once to let you know he’s there. He checked me out: “Nope! Still breathing…!” That’s to say, he doesn’t have to worry about his next meal. Whew! (Or however you say it in Catinese!)

Andy set up a vigil by the door. Pointed in, he expects me to get out of bed; pointed out (presuming I’m on the edge of my desk waiting for my body to decide it can function in an upright position), he expects me to move into the dining room for breakfast. He was pointed in, clearly unsettled that I wasn’t following routine. Same with Dougy, now back up on my bed, without permission first, though we have a routine where I pat on the mattress and beckon him up.

The kitty tag team made their point: No Deviations From Routine Allowed! I got up, and finished watching the news in the living room, in the glider chair with the ottoman I can’t use because that’s where Dougy likes to sleep, and the light stand with Andy asleep on top.

I posted this photo earlier. I can post it every day, though, because this is morning at this home, every day, without deviation. Or else, by cat decree!

Here they are: Dougy on the ottoman, and Andy stretched out on the side table! The kitties must be fed. Yep. Now we sleep in front of the guy we woke up at 2 AM!

Here they are: Dougy on the ottoman, and Andy stretched out on the side table! The kitties must be fed. Yep. Now we sleep in front of the guy we woke up at 2 AM!