A new trick…

The kittens we got back in October are now almost eight months old, both weighing in at a whopping 16 lbs. they aren’t overweight, just big.

Statler is the black one. His personality is very mellow. He would be happy to sleep all day. Although, I do sense that if he was outdoors, he would be a good hunter. Then, there’s Waldo. He is the mischief maker. He likes to pull the rubber caps off the ends of our metal closet shelves, untie the ribbons that hold my curtains back and pull the decorative metal cap off the bolt that holds the front door handle on. He

This morning at 5:19, despite the earplugs I was wearing, I heard a metallic thud. I pulled off my eye cover and much to my surprise, the bedroom door had been opened and both cats were squeezing through the open door. I had seen Waldo try to open a door once by stretching full length and pulling the lever. Apparently, he succeeded this morning. He was so proud of himself. He strutted into the middle of the room and plopped down into a full stretch out.

Sounds like sleeping with them closed out of the bedroom may be a thing of the past. I could lock the door, but then I would have to listen to him trying for a few nights until he figured out that I won that battle. We’ll see what tonight holds.

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Spring is here!

Ok, so maybe that’s a bit early. Let me live in my fantasy.

The days have turned warm, in the 50s and sunny, while the nights hover near the brisk freezing mark. I’ve been seeing numerous honey bees already, although there is nothing blooming for them yet. The telltale Robins have been in the yard, and you can hear the songs of the birds in the early morning when I go out to pickup the newspaper from the driveway.

The other day I spent an hour or so planting seeds in starter pots. Each pot was labeled with a popsicle stick bearing the seed’s name. They will sit in the sunny south windows of our shop until they are large enough to go into my little makeshift greenhouse outside. It’s not heated, but by then, what I have should be enough protection from the cooler nights. It was a relaxing time, reviewing our garden plan, what to plant and where. I never realized how scientific gardening was. You can’t plant broccoli next to tomatoes. Corn, beans and squash are beneficial to each other, so plant them together. I figure once I have a plan all charted out for this year, I will use the same chart each year and just rotate the whole thing through the different planter boxes I have. That way the tomatoes won’t go into the box the potatoes were in for a couple years. Now I just need to remember to water them, but not too much.

With our shop being MOSTLY done (said in the same voice as Billy Crystal’s Miracle Max from the movie Princess Bride), my thoughts and energy have turned to the landscape of our property. The lawn areas were prepped last year, but the rain saturated ground really settled in a few places. We will have to bring in some more dirt to fill in some craters, and then loosen up the top of the dirt just before we hydroseed in mid May. The calendar had to be consulted to find the perfect spray date. We have Passover, the day of Firstfruits, and the feast of Unleavened Bread coming up the last weekend of the month for a week. Then seven weeks later is Pentecost/Shavuot. All of these include large group gatherings in our shop with lots of kids that love to run around in the dirt. We wouldn’t want to try to control that, so we will spray after the early May gathering. There aren’t any other gatherings until Fall. That should give us some cool time to get the seed started before the summer heat hits. Hopefully we will have a decent lawn by the first of July for our family reunion we will be hosting.

I have checked my garlic bed for signs of life, but haven’t seen any yet. I admit, I have been accused, or rather described, as being impatient with my gardening. I know we aren’t supposed to plant outside until there is no snow on our bellweather mountain, but we have a short growing season in this part of the country. I have been known to plant outside and cover my plants with large five gallon water bottles (with the bottoms cut off, and the open top, they make perfect mini greenhouses), and hope for the best.

Our little kittens, who are now grown Tom cats, seem to sense it is spring too. They spend a lot more time staring out the windows in the mornings, in between wrestling and and playing floor hockey with a small, sisal rope ring. The black one is itching to explore the outdoors. I can tell, because he wants to scratch the screens and tried to crawl between the screen and the open window the other morning. The grey tiger is content to sit in the window and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds from the comfort of the indoors.

Spring used to mean a few days for me to get away and join a bunch of twice a year lady friends for scrapbooking at a beautiful local church camp on the lake. This year, with all the virus restrictions, staff cuts and more, the large group is not allowed, and the camp doesn’t have the staff to plan retreats. You can plan your own retreat, but are limited in numbers and have to follow strict virus protocols. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow. So, I opted to join a mid sized group in a hotel nearby. The organizer and I became acquainted last year, and I was graciously invited to join their group. It will be twice the cost of the other retreat due to the hotel room costs, but no restrictions to comply with. It should be a fun time. And, since I am not able to travel to see my daughter yet, I have some extra money set aside. It is usually a relaxing time when I can sit at my computer and really focus on getting pictures made into books. If I am inspired quickly, I can get one book done each day of the retreat. Now I have to decide which books to work on. My own yearly albums (I am finally up to 2012)? An album of photos our daughter sends of their family? A start to finish photo journal of the home building process?

Spring is a happy time for me. A time of excitement and expectation. I hope that spring is filled with joyous expectation and hope for you also.

Lap hog…

Yup. My Statler is a lap hog. Statler is the black kitten, turned big Tom cat we rescued back in September. We also took in his grey tiger brother Waldorf, Waldo for short, because my hubby lives saying, “Where’s Waldo?” When he gets home. They are named after the two little old men in the Muppets movies who sit in the balcony and heckle.

Anyways, Statler is the “I want affection, so I will ask for it aggressively” of the two. Every morning, correction, every meal, he jumps up into my lap for lap time. He’s adorably annoying. Waldorf isn’t so needy. He doesn’t ask for attention, but he wants it. This morning, Statler had done his lap time and vacated the spot in the middle of my bowl of oatmeal. Waldorf came up onto the chair next to me and began to stare. I am starting to learn to read his cues. I scooped him up for some lap time. Lap time to Statler is a full on curl up and go to sleep time. Lap time with Waldorf is more just letting him sit on your lap while he looks around and enjoys a bit of chin scratching. There he was, enjoying his time, when his brother had to come up and interrupt. It’s a good thing I have two legs, one for each cat. It only took a minute before Statler was turning around to lay down, basically shoving his brother off the other leg.

Our Muppets
Lap hog Statler

Lap hog. I am not sure why, but it is these moments in life that cause me to get introspective. I found myself praying in my head that I am not a lap, or attention hog when I am with others. I want to allow others to find joy in sharing stories during conversation, instead of dominating conversations with my own stories. Then I found myself pondering that being a lap hog with my Heavenly Father might be a good thing. That it brings joy to him that I would desire to be close to him, in the shelter of his arms. He loves me, more than I love my cats. I’m not sure where I am going with this analogy, just pondering life.

As I finish writing this, and getting ready to remove the warm lap hog from my lap, I hope that today you can find “a lap” where you can find a few moments of peace and the feeling of security. For me, that will be my afternoon twenty minute thanking God for his blessings siesta. We all need some lap hogging in this crazy, chaotic world we are living in today.

I hate wind….

Let me clarify. I hate heavy, sustained thirty mile an hour wind with sixty mile an hour gusts. Out of all the weather phenomena, that’s the one that bothers me most. And I grew up in earthquake country, they never bothered me.

I usually wake around 4:00am for the nightly, stumble to the toilet to empty the bladder ritual. I must have been in that light sleep when I was jolted by the sound of the wind on the walls of my bedroom. It wasn’t the sound of a freight train. Living in train country, I know what those sound like. It was more like someone pounding on a base drum super fast. Needless to say, I have been awake ever since.

I worried about our cats who were sleeping somewhere else in the house, because they are too rowdy to sleep in the bedroom with me. I found them hiding in a closet in our bonus room. They are hanging out with me now, but the sound of the foil moving that I have taped over our range hood vent has them a wee spooked. I have found in the last two houses we have lived in that when there is wind, the cold air outside sneaks, or sometimes pours, into the house. So I cover the vent with foil and blue tape when it gets windy.

While I was looking out into the darkness surrounding our home, I saw a bright flash. Lightning? Or was it maybe a transformer blowing somewhere nearby. I decided that I should probably heat up the house early, just in case we lose power. After turning the heaters up, I checked our power company website for their outage map. Sure enough, there is a huge chunk of area about a block east of us that is out.

While looking outside, I also saw a light colored sheet of something fly past the house, and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw a BBQ propane tank off the patio and a black mound in the yard. Putting two and two together, I flicked on the patio lights for a moment and realized that our barbecue had somehow been moved from the walled, patio corner it was in, around two large stone flower pots and out into the yard, into its side. Sometimes I wish I had a camera on to see how things happened. In this case, I will be glad if there is no roof damage when the sun rises.

The wind continues to whistle, and I continue to hear unexplained thuds outside. I wonder if our front porch chairs are still on our property?

When the sun rises, and the oatmeal is cooked and eaten, I will have to bundle up and head outdoors to check for damage, return loose items (chairs, light colored panels, barbecue) to their proper homes. I will probably find a couple black garden pots from our neighbor’s property too. He collects them, and we usually find one or two after a wind event. I may have to wait for the wind to subside a bit, as I have found that when it is this hefty, my petite frame can struggle to stay upright.

I never considered myself petite growing up. Admittedly, I am of slim build and small boned, but I am 5’8” tall. But one day at the local hardware store, I needed customer service to pickup something. I had purchased it earlier with a different employees help. The customer service person couldn’t find it, so called and spoke with the employee who sold it to me. They said, “There is a petite, dark haired lady at the front desk who…” Petite. That is the first time I have heard that used to describe my build. Thinking back though, the only reason I don’t wear many petite clothes is because the length is too short, the width is fine usually. But wait, I am off topic.

With each increase in the sound of the wind, I find myself praying in my head that Yah would have mercy on his children, that he will protect our home. And I thank him that I have a safe, warm place to sleep. And now, I have one cat on my lap, who is horribly spooked. His head shifts with every noise, his ears are back, but he is comforted on his mommy’s lap. And I am comforted knowing I am sheltered under the shadow of my heavenly father’s wings. To me, that is a picture of a father with his coat pulled around a child that is clinging to him, to protect the child from the storm. And, it brings peace to my mind. He is with me.

May you find peace in knowing that the God who created you, is with you in your storm.

Contented…

There is frost on the ground outside and thin, gray clouds in the sky. The sun still hangs low in the southeast, and peeks out from behind the clouds periodically. For those brief moments, the living room is bathed is golden light, and seems to warm up, although, I know that is more psychological than anything given the briefness of its appearance.

The cats are playing WrestleMania across the great room, leaping into each other from the tops of the couches, running into the kitchen, ambushing from a kitchen chair. Every now and then, one will escape the other with a leap to a window sill for a brief respite, only to leap into action again with no notice.

My father is sitting with his green tea at his oak roll top desk. When he saw it for sale, he said he’d always wanted a roll top. Not my favorite look, but he bought it. He is probably scrolling through FB for new pictures of his great grandchildren and checking his emails. Every now and then he lets out a cough. He has COPD and post nasal drip, so that cough has become a regular sound in our home.

After walking to the mailbox in the briskness of the morning, enjoying a few minutes with my Creator, I enjoyed a soy free, sugar free, dairy free, chocolate protein shake very early for breakfast, and will top it off with some oatmeal with freeze dried blueberries and pecans. Then, I will head upstairs to read the Scriptures and pray, and probably nap. Later, when my honey wakes up, we may discuss some of what we have been reading, or maybe I will read a book while he reads the newspaper. We plan to drive into town to walk around a new park along the river, then maybe rewatch some episodes of The Chosen.

It’s a beautiful day, and my heart is overflowing with joy. I hope you can find things to make today a joyous one.

Yesterday…

Yesterday… I was in a hurry getting my clothes hung out to dry that I didn’t see the Praying Mantis that has been hanging around our back porch. He was on the ground in front of my drying rack, and I stepped on him. I feel awful. For some reason this incident has had a profound effect on me. The other day, I showed him to the grands, they asked why he was hanging on the screen. We looked up what they ate and read about them. When we looked again, he was eating something. I developed a respect and appreciation for the majestic, yet carnivorous insect. And now, I may have ended his life…

Yesterday… My honey wanted to check out progress on the shop work. I showed him that we created a mechanical closet and decided on decorative beam sizes and locations. as we went outside so I could show him the pillars and how they were getting wrapped, I was surprised and thrilled to see that the long wall was completely sheathed, and half the battens were on too!! I didn’t realize they had gotten that much done before they left for the weekend.

Yesterday… After dropping my honey’s car off for an oil change and several maintainance items recommended for 120K miles, I came home and found three large bowls of produce on our kitchen counter! Beautiful green peppers, corn, cucumbers, zucchini and an entire bowl of blackberries! What a blessing. Seems some friends of ours wanted to bless us with the abundance of their garden. I immediately sent them a text thanking them.

Yesterday… When I went out to the garage for something, I saw the neighbor’s black cat heading our way for some food and petting. While dinner cooked in the Instant Pot, I sat on the front porch with her. After a few minutes of pets, she lied down on a stair and we both sat quietly, listening to a blackbird in a tree close by, with the periodic buzz of a fly near my head. It was warm in the shade, but pleasant. It was one of those perfect moments, and I was sure to thank Yahuah our Creator for that moment.

Yesterday… Since I like to get my Sabbath meals prepped the day before, I made time for cooking a few things. I had enough time to strip a precooked chicken down and prepare a casserole for my daughter in law for after she has a baby sometime in the next few weeks, make gluten free shortcakes and strawberries for this morning’s Sabbath breakfast, and start the crockpot with the chicken bones and skin to make some fresh chicken stock.

Yesterday… my honey and I walked after dinner, and were awed by seeing the sun setting behind our house. It looked huge, and was deep red colored due to smoke in the air. We could look right at it. It was spectacular.

I hope today, will become a beautiful yesterday for each of you also.

Peee-ewww!

What do you get when you add a litter box being used by two kittens, a closed up room and summer heat? That’s right! A stinky bedroom!!!

I hate being able to smell cat. We have had multiple cats in the past and their litter boxes never smelled this bad. But we’ve also never had cats eating wet food either. I am looking forward to being able to open up the rest of the house to them when they are a little bigger and I can keep track of them better. I am also looking forward to when they don’t run from us all the time. Oh! And I look forward to their cat climbing thingy arriving so they stop climbing the lightweight fake tree in the corner of my bedroom. Seems they are both climbers. Pook seems to be especially skilled at it. And moving the litter box to the laundry room! I have so much to look forward to.

I hope you have a sweet smelling day with lots of little things to look forward to, not a pee-eww one!

Day one…

The kittens are still alive and so am I! On Tuesday evening, a friend of ours texted over a picture of four kittens on a blanket, with a caption “Look at the black one!” She then proceeded to let me know that her granddaughter or her granddaughter’s roommate had found and trapped these stray kittens at the warehouse that she worked at and they needed homes. Not sure if my honey was ready to bring another cat into our hearts, I forwarded it to him asking if he wanted to meet them. It was a resounding yes.

My honey has an uncanny knack for being able to gauge an animal’s personality. we went expecting to fall in love with the black one, but that’s not exactly how it happened. The black one was pretty scared and the gal handed it to me first. My honey was handed the grey one with white paws. Boots, as he is now known as. He knew how to reel my honey’s heart in and began purring and nuzzling his head under my honey’s arm. That was it. But we were both torn. The black one, now Pook, had been buddies with Boots in play and sleep. The third one was pretty independent. We just couldn’t split them up. Thus, Pook AND Boots.

I have never raised a cat from kitten stage. Our Spanky was probably 6 months old when she came to us. A big difference from what I am guessing are eight week olds. The first day was very quiet. No meows at all. Lots of tails between the legs for Pook. They ate well, drank well, pooped and peed well and slept well. Unlike me, who had my mother’s ears on while wearing earplugs. And silly me, I thought I would let them out of the cage for a little bit to let them begin to acclimate to the room. Not real smart. I left the room for a moment to get cat food and they were gone when I returned. I thought a moment, then checked in the underbed bin for my garden work clothes. That was one of Spanky favorite hiding spots. There they were! Four ears sticking out of it.

But, it gets better. I let them stay there a bit. When I next returned with my honey, they were no longer in the box. After some diligent searching, I finally located a warm bulge in the lining of the recliner chair in the corner. Sigh. I finally had to cut the lining to get them out and re-cage them. Needless to say, the recliner is no longer in the bedroom.

A trip to the local pet store later in the day, and a hundred dollars later and I was armed with plenty of kitten food in various forms. Fortunately we had kept some cute little dishes for food, some not so cute, but extremely practical dry food dispensers, a litter box and enough plastic newspaper sleeves to gather the litter clumps in.

The day ended with the cats romping and wrestling each other and playing with some leftover toys. When I decided it was time for bed, I picked Boots up like a baby and he started to purr and relax. Ahh! I think I stumbled on the Mom factor. Roll them over into the submissive posture to calm them. After a few minutes of cuddling, I placed him back in the cage and did the same with Pook. Mom time was shorter with Pook, but still effective. The closed cage was greeted with a couple complaint mews, but they settled down as soon as the light went off. I think. Again, I slept with earplugs. Mom ears hear everything.

So. Here I am with new mom foggy brain due to lack of sleep. but enjoying the adventure. Day two was a little easier. I learned they are both climbers, thus the early morning order for a cat climbing tower from Chewy.com. I am trying to let them out of the cage, yet keep them confined to the one bedroom until they are too large to fit inside anymore furniture, or don’t want to.

Hope my kitten stories bring a smile to your face and and a bit of joy to your heart!

Country living…

In October last year we lost our beloved Spanky cat. About a month ago we lost my father’s cat PK. For the first time in 22 years of marriage we are without an animal in the house. So it comes as no surprise that we were delighted when the neighbor barn cats came to visit while we were sitting on our porch watching the sunset. It has become an almost nightly ritual now. My honey gets home from work, we go for a quick walk, as we pass the neighbor’s home the cats come out and join us for the second half of the walk then follow us home to our porch. My honey hangs out with them while I get his dinner and then we sit and pet the cats and chat while watching the sunset. When we begin to get cold, or I start to yawn too much we say good night to the cats, and turn off the lights. We go inside, and they go home. And we wait for another day and another visit.

Needless to say our hearts have been captured by these two unnamed felines. They are unnamed because they just showed up at the neighbors house a few years ago. Since they weren’t sure they would stick around, they just called them grey cat and black cat. We have nicknamed them Notch and Spunky. Notch is the gray tabby who has a notch out of his ear from a recent fight. Spunky is a slim black female who is extremely skittish yet very loving. The title of my post was inspired by a phone call the other day. The neighbor whom these cats “belong” two called around 11 in the morning. She politely asked if I had seen the black cat at all that day. I had said no and asked why. She explained that she was concerned that she may have gotten eaten by coyotes that night. Apparently we had a visit from a pack of coyotes and they were making such a ruckus she was sure they had eaten her cat since she hadn’t seen her. I expressed my sympathy and my hope that maybe the cat had just been so spooked that she was very slow in coming out of a hiding spot. We both said we hope so. I spent the next half hour or so consoling myself and explaining to myself that that is the way country living is. Animals come and go, there was a food chain and I had better get used to it. My eyes teared up anyway and I felt myself being sad that we would no longer get to have Spunky to warm our laps and hearts while we enjoyed the sunset. I am pleased to say an hour later, the owner sent me a picture of spunky and said guess who just came out of hiding! We were both thrilled to pieces!

I relayed the story to my honey when he came home from work. He too was glad she was alive. We discussed the possibility of getting our self some barn cats when our shop is done. But there is a part of me that doesn’t want to face the possibility of losing a creature that I love dearly. I know we probably will anyway I just hate that part.

So here I sit on my big cushy chair out on the front porch. The sun has just set each night the sunset is a little different sometimes it’s very calm and sedate sometimes it’s bold and vibrant and exciting. Sometimes it lasts a few moments and sometimes it just seems to go on forever. There are hills close by that are silhouetted in the light, and The lights of a small town sparkle at the base of them in the dark. Sometimes we hear the coyotes far away, always listening to the Killdeer sounds and sometimes being honored by a visit from the local owl.

We have loved every minute of living in the country and wish everyone could have this opportunity. It is peaceful and de-stressing, except for the coyote part. Something much-needed in the environment of the world that we live in today. I do know though, that living in the country is not the only thing that helps us de-stress. Sometimes just taking a walk in the cool evening in the summer can be helpful. Sometimes just sitting and reading a book. Or gardening, or playing a game with a child. I hope that you have been able to find the thing that brings peace to your soul during these trying times. Shalom

Goodbye sweet PK…

Sunday was a rough day. Our last pet, PK was a tortoise shell rescue. My father adopted her from the pound soon after my mother died 11 years ago. We estimate that she (PK) would be between 13-14 years old this year.

Over the last couple years, PK had started having random seizures. Maybe one every four months. Around the beginning of the year, they began increasing in frequency, maybe one every other month. By May, she was having multiple seizures every couple weeks. One vet gave us some medication for hyperthyroidism and one to stop the seizures if they went longer than two minutes. The medication worked great the first time, about a month ago. But this Sunday, it didn’t work so well. I have almost gotten to the point where I could sense she was having one without seeing her, and I would go looking for her.

I won’t go into details, but there emergency vet said they were seizures probably related to having strokes. She didn’t recover from the last set… this is the part of life that I hate. Death. Permanently losing those you love.

PK stood for Phantom Cat. When my father first brought her home, he didn’t see her for the first six months. He knew she was there, hiding someplace because the litter box was being used and the food was being eaten. And so, Phantom Cat. The spelling was specifically chosen because my father loves Phantom of the Opera. Once we found her hiding in the drawer under the oven. She had been jumping into the kitchen counter, then behind the oven to crawl into it. When we brought a stray kitten into the house, she came out and joined the family.

PK was skittish, and took a long time to warm up to us all. It was only in the last few years that she would come out into the family space when we had company, and would allow the older grands to pet her. PK always seemed frail and sickly. She was overweight until four years ago (the hyperthyroidism caused the weight loss), she coughed regularly (we figured she had asthma). She was a territorial female. When my father moved in with us, she would chase our black cat Spanky up the stairs whenever she ventured down. Spanky’s death last October was hard on PK. Although they didn’t play together, they had developed a sort of loving tolerance for each other. The other cat had died a few years earlier. PK began yowling at the top of her lungs when she didn’t know where people were, or if she wanted you to open your bedroom door at 4:00am. Usually in the only space in the house that would echo. The last year has been hard for us too with regularly disturbed sleep. And she became very talkative, especially first thing in the morning. Auugh! Wait until my eyes are open!!

As obnoxious as she had become, she had her sweet moments too. She purred quickly and that motor ran forever. She would perch on the back of the couch behind you after a few pets. We are enjoying the solid sleep again, but miss the girl. The tears still flow at random moments: when I go to check her food dish, when I am sitting on the couch. I am sure they will continue to flow for a while. Rest In Peace dear PK. You are missed.