Sunday, July 15, 2018

It’s all in the name...

Through all the years we have had cats, every single one of them learned their names and came when I called them.  At one time, we had four cats... if I called one’s name, just that one would come running towards me. If I wanted two of them, then I had to call out those two particular cats’ names.

So here I am with the two new kittens.... Peaches and Spats.  The name Peaches fits the cream-colored kitten perfectly. However, the name Spats was just not working for the gray kitten with white paws. Too harsh a name for this sweet loving little soul, and every time I said that name it sounded as if I were spitting.

For the last hour, we have been tossing different names into the mix... everything from Elvis to Einstein, from Spats Domino to Manilow, from London to Sherlock, and a host of little-boy names like George, Harry, Gabriel, William.... and then my husband came up with Julius.  A long-ago neighbor of mine had a son named Julius.... the sweetest, kindest little boy you ever met. And I am sure his personality is the same now as an adult. Julius somehow works for this kitten... more distinguished than the name Spats, easier on the lips and the ears.

I just went into the kittens’ room.... I sat on the chair in there and looked at the gray kitten and said Julius... Julius.... Julius.  The kitten yawned... walked over to my chair and reached his paws up towards my knees. I picked him up and he rolled over on his back and looked at me upside-down. Julius. It is just the perfect name for this tiny bundle of kindness.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Congratulations, it’s a boy...

....and congratulations, it’s another boy!

I took the kittens to the vet this morning for their first set of booster shots, de-worming, and a general checkup.  We all thought these kittens were girls... turns out they are both males. In all the years we have been in Texas and stray cats have found us, they have all been males. One exception was a tiny female we adopted from a shelter... we named her Muffin and she lived just a few weeks.

All the other stray cats we have adopted over the years  — Rusty, Shadow, AngelBoy, Shadow-Baby, Mickey, Gatsby, Sweet Pea, Buddy — all males.  I was looking forward to a little girl cat, and I thought Peaches was a girl. Oh well... both Peaches and Spats are healthy and affectionate and love to be held, and they are already using their litter boxes consistently, so I can’t ask for much more.

I had to laugh when the girl at the vet’s office handed me the bill for the shots and checkups this morning.... the kittens were free, but the upkeep is what gets you. Worth every penny, however.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The cat gods have spoken...

After two days of wondering if the kittens (Peaches and Spats) were adjusting to their new home, I got a phone call this morning from the friend who adopted them. Turns out that his landlord was not happy because of a no-pets clause in the lease. So our friend was calling me to tell me he was sorry but he had to bring the kittens back. He even asked the landlord if he could keep just one, but the landlord doesn’t want his tenants to have any pets at all. Zip. Nada. Not even a bird.

I thanked him for calling me instead of taking the kittens to a shelter.... he will be here in a little while, when he leaves work for the day.  I already have the large first floor bathroom all set up for the kittens... they will stay in there till I know they are fully box-trained, then they can explore the TV room as well, with our older cat Sweet Pea.  Our dog Savannah will have to adjust to the new kittens, otherwise she will have to stay out of the TV room. And who knows, maybe Savannah will have a motherly instinct towards the new babies. But until I am certain of that, she will be closely monitored.

I have made an appointment with the local vet... the kittens will be there tomorrow for their first checkup and shots. Plus the vet can tell me the gender of each... they are so small, it was hard to figure that out.  All of this activity for these two kittens... but they seem to be resilient, plus this life is better than the life they had in the woods and on the road.

For whatever reason, the cat gods chose to put those two sweet kittens in my path... and who am I to argue with the Cat Powers That Be.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Peaches and Spats...

I went out to the post office this morning... and on the way home, driving along the winding road leading towards our property, there were two small kittens sitting on the side of the paved road. They didn't even move when they saw my car coming towards them.  I stopped my car and got out, and the little orange kitten meowed and walked towards me. The gray kitten (with four white paws) was a bit hesitant and moved into the grass by the side of the road.

I picked up the orange kitten (pale yellow, really) and he/she kept meowing in my ear, which made the gray kitten move further along into the grass.  I did not have the right shoes on to go deeper into that grass because it went down towards a deep ditch along the side of road.  At that point, along came neighbor G, who drives everywhere with cat and dog food in her car, just in case she happens upon a stray. 

G took out a can of cat food, opened it up and put it on the grass near the gray kitten, and within minutes, both kittens were eating Fancy Feast on the side of the road. Simple as that.  I picked them both up and put them on a blanket in my car. (I drive everywhere with two blankets in the trunk of my car, in case I find a stray. Or two.) G told me that the kittens probably belonged to another neighbor further down, one who doesn't believe in getting her pets spayed/neutered, and as a result, at any given time there are kittens galore who are outside on their property with no supervision and no care... the neighbor also believes that animals can take care of themselves.... survival of the fittest. Give me a blessed break.

I brought the kittens home and set them up in the big bathroom which is connected to our TV room. Within minutes, I had their food in little bowls,  a cat bed and a blanket set down in a corner, a litter box in another corner, and a large stuffed dog that I knew the kittens would curl up with after they finished eating. Then I called upstairs and told my husband to come downstairs.

"Don't name them," he suggested.  I agreed.  "Call everyone we know," he said. And I did. "Post pictures of them on Facebook," he told me.  Great idea... I did.

Within an hour, he was playing with the kittens and telling me he had the perfect name for the gray one with the white paws. "Does the name have five letters?"  He said yes..... We both came up with the name Spats for that kitten.  I said it was a sign.... if I were going to keep one kitten, Spats would be the one.   I was going to name the yellow kitten Mellow Yellow, but Gary said he liked the name Peaches better. I agreed. That kitten was definitely the color of an almost-ripe peach.

The kittens stayed in the large bathroom all afternoon... they ate, they played, they pooped in the litter box, they slept... then they got up and repeated everything.  Both Spats and Peaches meowed at me every time I went into that room to say hello, which was once every half hour... they climbed into my lap and searched my face looking for either whiskers or pointed ears at the top of my head.... so of course nothing much else got done today.

Late in the afternoon, a friend of a friend called to say he and his son would take both kittens. Oh. He didn't want to separate them because they looked so cute together in the pictures I had posted and he said they wouldn't be happy without each other. Oh.

I know this man... he has been to our house with his son... he is good friends with our friend P...  he is reliable and considerate and he has had cats before.  When he came to see Spats and Peaches, he was gentle and kind and he knew how to hold them. He wanted both of them. He said they shouldn't be separated, and I know he was right.  I had a carry-crate ready for the kittens... and their food and bowls, their toys, their bed and blanket, and the big stuffed puppy that they cuddled up to all afternoon. I gave him their litter box, a scoop, extra litter.

I didn't tell him that their names were Peaches and Spats. I'm sure he and his son will come up with names of their own liking. After they left, I put that bathroom back in order... it is fixed up now for just our own Sweet Pea, just as it was before I brought the kittens into the house to keep them safe from cars on the road and wildlife in the woods.

They are beautiful kittens. They will grow into beautiful cats. My heart is breaking for them already, and I told our friend's friend to bring them back if two kittens are too much for their family... bring one back or both back... no questions asked, no hard feelings. Kittens are a lot of work, I told him.

Peaches and Spats. We should not have named them.

More importantly, people who don't get their pets spayed/neutered have no business having pets in the first place. And kittens and puppies cannot take care of themselves, period. It is not survival of the fittest... it is just unfair to all the baby kittens and puppies who are born into homes that haven't the first clue about taking care of them.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

July 4th

Fireworks... as much as I had always loved them, now I hate them with a passion. I guess I should qualify that statement. If we are at one of the Disney parks, then yes, I would love their fantastic display of fireworks and would not miss seeing it. But as far as fireworks being sold all over the countryside here to anyone who has a match, then I am right back to hating fireworks again.

When we first bought this property, my husband was one of the guys up at the fireworks stand, buying boxes of light-up-the-sky-with-color fireworks for the 4th of July.  We didn’t know how those bomb-like noises disturbed livestock and wildlife, to say nothing of neighboring dogs, cats, and horses. We know better now, so we do better. (To paraphrase Maya Angelou.)

Then Savannah came into our life... this gentle old-soul of a dog... who ran off when a new neighbor set off boxes of fireworks in April (April?!) and our Savannah was lost in the woods for 12 days. Just when we had given up all hope after our continuous searching, Savannah found her way back home. I forgave the neighbor... until more fireworks were set off... and more... and then still more.

Just recently, forgiveness came knocking and I gave in.... let bygones be bygones... after all, our Savannah was safe and at home.  And then yesterday was the 4th... fireworks all afternoon from a property off in the distance... and then gunshots and fireworks from the ‘new’ neighbor right after dark last night. Savannah could not stop shaking... she literally made herself sick... I had her wrapped up in a blanket and then I wrapped myself around her. We stayed like that while the across-the-road fireworks kept on and on. Savannah was sick all last night, all day today, and she is just now calming down... at nearly midnight, the day after.

Forgiveness is easy when lessons are learned and behavior is modified so no one gets hurt, either physically or emotionally. Forgiveness is just about impossible when people continue to do whatever they want to do with total disregard for anyone else.

Tomorrow is the first Friday of the month... the neighbor ladies will all be here at noon for lunch. All of them, except for two that are out of town. I plan to be on my best behavior. I am also hoping that no one asks me how we celebrated the 4th.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

What happens in Vegas....

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about taking a trip, or not taking a trip. I wanted to stay home... he wanted to go somewhere.  He suggested Scotland, being that we had been to England twice in the last three years. I told him that I didn't want to be flying over the Atlantic again unless we were having tea in Nottingham and browsing bookstores on Charing Cross Road.

Then my husband suggested the west coast... Oregon, California, Seattle.... we have been to California a bunch of times, Oregon and its waterfalls don't interest me because we have been to Niagara Falls, and Seattle is too rainy and drippy most of the time.  Then he mentioned fishing in Alaska... I told him that he needed to do that sort of vacation with another guy who likes fishing on big boats in the middle of an ocean because nothing in Alaska is calling my name.

A week later, after much Internet searching by my husband, he walked into the TV room and told me he could get great seats for Barry Manilow's show at the Westgate in Las Vegas.... and I asked him when we were leaving and immediately took the suitcases out of the storage closet and called the boarding kennel to make a reservation for Savannah.

Well, that's one way to get me on a plane willingly without too much fuss.... tickets to see Manilow.

And so we did.... and for two people who do not gamble, not even pennies at the penny slot machines, we were in Vegas for three nights and four days, the highlight of the trip being Manilow's show at the Westgate (formerly the Hilton, where we saw Barry about eight years ago).  Never mind that we just saw Barry in February in Houston.... he has a new show in Vegas and true to Manilow's form, he never disappoints. The show was fabulous... just fabulous.

We also saw comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham (hilarious, love his characters and his sense of humor) and Carrot Top (some current material, lots of well-worn gags... funny, but I wouldn't see him again because he gets too raunchy for my taste... silly works, raunchy doesn't).  My husband found The Pinball Hall of Fame, and the Museum of Hollywood Cars... vehicles featured in movies and driven by celebrities... and we went to two bookstores (another highlight for me). We stayed at The Luxor, and walked around some of the other hotels... mega-glitz, mega-priced merchandise, but fun to walk around in air-conditioned comfort because it was 115 degrees out there.

Vegas is fun....surreal but fun... people-watching is an art there... honestly, the outfits on 90% of the people there would not pass muster by the Fashion Police. And the people so willing to put money into slot machines that are pre-set so the house always wins, with your odds of winning probably being a zillion to one.

Nice to be home... Manilow was magnificent, as always... I never get tired of his shows, and I thought that having gone to about 15 of Barry's shows over the years was significant. However, I sat next to a woman at the Vegas show who had been to 75 Manilow concerts since 1989. Well. I have been following Barry since the early 1970s. I have a lot of catching-up to do.... so... where are we going next? Should I leave the suitcases out of the closet.... should I send Manilow a postcard and tell him we'll be back?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Handymen are us....

Due to the lack of handymen up here who actually show up and work (I can name only one at the moment but he has a full-time job now and only works here occasionally) my husband and I re-stained the two-tier deck in the backyard. The afore-mentioned handyman stained it last Spring, but the Thompson’s product barely made it thru last winter. My husband got a refund from that company and purchased a stain made by Behr, which seems to be better. I have determined, however, that if this product does not last thru the Texas heat, then the gods-that-be just do not want the wood deck to be stained. I have hung up my outdoor paintbrush for the last time.

The gray cat is still making himself at home on our porch and in our barn. I am surprised that he has not yet gifted me with a dead mouse, but I am most thankful that he hasn’t.  I have not seen any field mice around the yard, so my guess is that Buddy-Kitty is doing a good job of keeping them away. That name Buddy-Kitty.... I nearly changed his name because he reminds me so much of Gatsby, a large gray cat that we found here the year we moved in.  Gatsby was a gentleman cat, so much so that we named him The Gray Gatsby. He has since gone to that green kitty-light in the sky, but memories of Gatsby gave me the idea of naming this gray cat F. Scott Fitzkitten, with apologies to Fitzgerald. But Buddy-Kitty will have to make do with that name.... he already answers to that when I call him, and with an outside cat, one never knows how long he will stay here.

In the middle of June already.... and the temperatures feel like August out there. Day after day of relentless heat and sun... and to think we were out there on the deck with paint brushes and even a spray-thing. Nuts. We are completely nuts. It’s even too blessed hot to sit on the deck, much less paint the dang thing.