Watch Out For Those Traps, Booby

My dad used to say that when my brother or I blundered into one of life’s little booby traps.  — like this one.

Where I have this hung, the minute I walk in the door, I see it.  I got it because it’s a good motto, but also it reminded me of a certain four footed housemate. Only, a week ago, where it was hung didn’t matter.  Now it hits a raw place every time I walk in the door and see it.   In case you can’t read the writing, it says “Happy is the house that shelters a friend.”

Then there’s the clock . I painted the tip of the pendulum tail white because it was totally appropriate.

Then, I was FINALLY getting around to putting the lawn chair that has been leaning against the wall in my bedroom for months, into the garage (the back door is conveniently located in my bedroom — !) and when I picked it up, I found this behind it. It’s the second kitty toy I have chanced upon this week, but this one is in much better shape than the other one, which I threw away.  This one I’m keeping.

Monday and yesterday I gathered up the just opened bag of cat food, the two unopened packets of treats, and the one just opened, dishes, brushes, a cat bed, a cat mat, and his Littermaid and schlepped it all out to the car and donated it to a kitty shelter on the way to the pet cemetery and crematorium, which is way the heck out in the country halfway to Slide, to pick up his little cremains, which are slightly too fat for the little container I got for them, but I taped the lid down. . . .

It’s the black one with the gold leopard spots.  If you are familiar with the Peanuts newspaper comic strip, then you know about the rich fantasy life the dog Snoopy had.  I always thought the fat(cat)boy fantasized about being a “jagular” or a leopard.

They’re all there, all five of them.  Yeah, it’s kind of shrine-like, but they were my dear companions for all of 21 years — Shadow for 7 years, Jett for 12 years, Gobi for nearly 16 years, Stormie for 11 years, and Jaks for 10.  There will not be any more for a while.

My mom will be 94 this year, and while she is in full possession of significantly more of her marbles than a lot of people half her age, and is active, with no health problems except that she’s almost 94, that could change in an instant.   Once her situation is inevitably resolved, I hope there will be two more kitties.  That’s what I want to happen anyway.  Heaven knows, there unfortunately is not likely to be any shortage of kitties in need of good homes any time soon.

So I’ve been coping with my loss the way women have traditionally coped since time immemorial. I’ve been cleaning house. I washed bathmats and “guest” towels, and the leopard print beach towels that are covering where my leather furniture is worn on the chair seat edges or scratched on the sofa back.  I neatened my charity men’s hats yarn stash.  (there’s a whole plastic storage tub full of yarn in the closet, too, but that is for ladies’ hats.  That yarn is way too “gay-ly” colored for the men in this part of the country. )

About 9:30 this morning, my other side neighbor plonged on the doorbell and told me there was a leak in the alley by our water meter.  I went to look and it’s like a small spring is flowing forth from one “track” of the tire tracks down the alley and is making a small river.  I called the utility company and they knew about it — It had been going since yesterday, they’d marked it with little flags, and since water is only flowing, not gushing, they will deal with it when they get a “roundtoit.” If not tomorrow or the next day, then some time next week.  In the meantime, we have this river we have to jump to get to the dumpsters.  The important thing is, though, that the leak is before the water meter, not after, so it’s their nickle, not my landlady’s that is flowing down the alley.

I found this and it was too great not to share.  You may not be familiar with the kinetic sculptures of Theo Jensen.  If not follow the link. They are fascinating to watch.    This one is powered not by wind, but by hamster.  The look on the cat’s face is priceless.  The sphere is perforated so the hamster won’t suffocate.  Must be a real trip for the hamster, in both senses of the word. . . .

I started a “sectioned hat” and put a ribbed hem on it.  I want to do another version with a simple ribbed brim, and a smaller purl stripe, but — new rule — I can’t start anything new until I finish all the hats I’ve got started (about 5!). I also need to finish my cousin’s man cowl.

Tomorrow, I need to pay bills, go through my files and shred a bunch of stuff, ford the stream and take the shreddings out to the dumpster, and hang some pictures.  It’s late and I should go to bed so I can get up tomorrow and do that. so I will.  позже*.

*позже = later.

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Things That Go Bump In The House

So far, so good. I got the kitty bed, the brushes, the water bowls I used before I got the pet fountain, the food and treats all packed up and I’ve emailed the local Humane Society about donating them and the Littermaid poop box, which works.  I hate to dumpster the poop box since it does work.  I plan to box up the food bowls I’m keeping as well as the pet fountain.  My mom said I ought to think about not having any more kitties ever again.  I thought about it — for about 5 seconds, and rejected that idea.  However, mom is 94 this year, and while she is in very good health for her age, with no chronic illnesses or health issues other than her age, that situation could change very rapidly.  I don’t foresee getting more kitties until after she is gone.

I got the baby bonnet finished today.  I get my teeth cleaned tomorrow, and the pink hat I did Friday and this bonnet, and the dress that matches it, are going to the dentist’s receptionist, who had a baby in November.  The larger of the two hats I made for her is now getting too small, and that’s what the toboggan is for.  Getting that finished freed up a 16-inch US 6 needle for another hat.  I need to see how many hats I can finish next week.

I think the little dress that goes with the bonnet is so sweet.  The receptionists little baby ought to be big enough to wear it come Easter.

I do need to keep busy and occupied.  I got a little spooked last night realizing I was alone in the house.  I’ve always had a tendency to get a little spooked and jumpy at night, and some of the medication I’m on exacerbates that tendency.  As I’ve mentioned, this is the first time in 21 years that I’ve not had kitties.  Suddenly realizing I am utterly alone in the house is not helping.  I’ll habituate but it may take a while.  I’ve heard “stray noises” twice this evening and that’s gotten me a little jumpy.  I’ve just got to keep my mind engaged, which is fine until I lie down, turn the light out and try to go to sleep.

I may try to write a hat pattern tonight, now that I’ve freed up that hat needle.  I’ve been wanting to write one for an “orange section” hat that looks like a peeled orange.   I might do that here directly.   I might do a version with a ribbed brim, and then do a toboggan version with a hemmed brim and internal ribbing

Hats and Cowls and Booby Traps

There is no kitty in the house any more.  I’m having a hard time getting my mind around that.  It’s the first time in 21 years that there hasn’t been at least one kitty in my house.   Until now, after I lost one, there were others.  When I lost Sister, I had Jett and Gobi for comfort.  When I lost Jett, I had Gobi, Stormie, and Jaks for comfort.  When I lost Gobi, I had Stormie and Jaks for comfort.  When I lost my baby girl, I still had Jaks for comfort, but this time I had to come home to an empty house.  A house full of booby traps.  The first thing that hit me when I came in the door was the sound of the pet fountain.

I knew yesterday that today would be the fat(cat)boy’s last day, but I let everything be perfectly normal until I got the cat carrier out.  I didn’t take up his dish, or turn off the pet fountain.  So of course the first sound I heard when I walked in the door was that pet fountain. The kitties loved it.  It’s ceramic, it can be put in the dish washer, it has charcoal and foam filters and runs off an aquarium pump.  I think I’m going to put it up on the counter and let it run for a while; otherwise I think the silence would be unbearable.

I went into the back bedroom to change, saw the bed, and saw his towel, which was his sleeping place.  I would have stripped the bed and done laundry today anyway, and I’ll do it in a while only not just now.  There were kitty toys on the floor.  I had to sit down for a moment.  At some point I’m going to have to go around with a flashlight and a getter-outerer of some kind and fish all the kitty toys out from under the furniture.  Only just not today.  I’m going to have to clean up and dispose of his poop box, but that can wait until tomorrow.  I need to gather up the container of unused litter, and the bag of food and treats I bought him just this Monday and take them to the Humane Society.  I’ve got some other errands to run Monday, and that will be one more errand on the list.

I went to get a glass of tea, and there was the bag of treats in the refrigerator.  I’d given him some last night.  I always kept the opened bags in the refrigerator.  He did love his treats.  When I went anywhere that I had to be gone a while, I would pour about 15 into my hand and toss them up in the air in my bedroom for them to scatter all over the carpet for him to hunt.

He evidently had a hard time being in the pet hotel this last time, and even bit the little girl trying to get him out of his room and into the carrier, which he had never done before.  I had to go stand on a stool and get him down from the highest perch and put him in the carrier.   He was more clingy than he had ever been once I brought him home.  He followed me about from room to room.  He would walk me to the front door when I left to go out and he would hear the garage door, and me opening the front door and be waiting for me in the living room when I came back.  It’s almost as if he knew his days with me were numbered.

It’s going to hurt like hell for a while, but life will go on.  Already is going on.  I started a baby hat yesterday afternoon and sat knitting it in the living room with the fat(cat)boy on the footstool beside my feet.  Finished it late last night. Just finished making a pompom for it and weaving in the ends.  I’m going to cast on for a man cowl for my cousin and knit a little bit on it, then get up and round up all the Humane Society donatables and put them in the car.  Then I’ll shower and wash my hair, strip the bed and start a load of washing.  I need to finish a baby bonnet that goes with a baby dress and I need to get it done before Monday.   I have to follow a pattern line by line for that, and that will keep my mind occupied.   When I’ve finished the bonnet, I’ve got chemo hats to work on.

I’ll survive.  I’ll take it one step at a time, one task at a time, one day at a time.

 

And Then There Were None

Jaks T. Hoover
27 August, 2007 – 20 January, 2018

Alias Eedly-Deedly, alias Deedle, alias Poot, alias Tootle-Pootle.
He was my second rescue — he was almost too young to adopt when the daughter of one of the shelter ladies handed him to me while I was standing in the checkout line at Petsmart buying cat food.  (Do I have “cat momma” written on my forehead?)  That little white tip on his tail clenched the deal.  A pouncer and bouncer who took delight in annoying his siblings.  He never ceased to be amazed that I could tell who he was without having to smell his butt.  He loved to rub his face all over you.  He never met a stranger.  He thought he always wanted to be an only cat.  Once he was one, I don’t think he liked it as much as he thought he would, but we adjusted to it.  He followed me from room to room.  Where ever I was, that’s where he wanted to be.  He slept by my head.  There was a kind of symmetry to his time with me.  His departure was as unexpected and sudden as his arrival.  He crossed the Rainbow Bridge to join the four who went before at 11: 23 a.m.

This is the first time in 21 years I’ve been without a cat.

 

Goings and Doings and Hats

Oh, my.  It’s fooled around and gotten cold on us again.  I feel almost guilty because the northeast is taking such a pounding, and we’re just not even all that cold here.  Still, we’re more than cold enough to suit me. Here’s our five day forecast: And for the Celsius crowd. . .We’re having a “blew” norther.  Mostly it’s just windy and cold.  Again, for perspective, my town is at roughly the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco — Africa!

I was going to do a blog post sooner, but I got to playing around with a little scenario about three days ago, and the first thing I knew, I had three pages of characters and two chapters.  Sometimes I publish little short pieces in my blog.  I haven’t published any in this iteration, but there are some here from my blog archives.  There used to be a website call Magpie Tales where the lady would post a picture or photograph and we would have to write something inspired by it (Mag Challenge).  She went on to other things, so I’ve been challenging myself — although it’s not much of a challenge since I pick pictures that fit things I’m in the mood to write.   I have no interest in trying to publish anything; I write because I like doing it.  I enjoy the process.

My left knee has been hurting pretty badly.  I broke that kneecap in 1991, and had two surgeries on it — one to repair the kneecap, and one to remove the hardware — and I’m sure my current pain has something to do with that.  I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder, and I have two pinched nerves at my second cervical vertebra on the left from reinjuring that shoulder trying to lift a 40-pound (18.6 kg) bottle of water onto a dispenser stand.  I saw my VA provider (a physician’s assistant/nurse practitioner) (she’s both) when it happened, and saw her again last week because lately both my shoulder and my knee have been hurting so that I was having trouble sleeping.  Predictably, my VA PA said, “Lets throw some pills at it and see what happens.” She prescribed me some diclofenac and put me back on gabapentin.  I do have to say that both medications are working, for once, and I’ve had a great reduction in my pain, which has immensely helped my ability to sleep.

I had to go out today, and when I reached down to put the key in my car’s ignition, I saw the odometer read 11,444.

I’ve been knitting men’s hats and reading, but haven’t finished anything.  I’ve just been like the dormouse at the mad tea party, having difficulty staying awake.  Mostly, I just want to crawl into my teapot and hibernate.

I’ve finally figured out why the fat(cat)boy likes to sleep on this one particular spot on the bed, especially when I’m not in it.  That’s the precise spot where hot air blows out of the air vent onto the bed.  If you want to know what the best seat in the house is, it’s the one the cat’s in. . . .

Frolicking in Fredericksburg

Over the New Year’s weekend, we went to stay with friends in Llano, Tx.  Saturday, they took us to Fredericksburg, Tx.  Our first stop was the Wildseed Farms, which raises native Texas wildflowers for seed so that people can use native plants in their landscaping.

Since my duplex neighbor has Turks head bushes, which attract humming birds, I bought the “humming bird and butterfly” mix. I also bought some wild flower honey for my friend LB, and a “Lone Star” wreath for my door.  In addition to the regular house door, I have a glass storm door, and there’s only about 2-1/2 inches of clearance between them, which makes it hard to find wreaths that are flat enough.  This one is, though, and — it was on sale for half off!  Win/Win.

As I mentioned in the previous post, there is a lot of limestone in this region of Texas and early settlers made good use of this abundant building material.  Fredericksburg has preserved its historic old buildings and repurposed them into shops and restaurants, so that the oldest part of the city has retained its historic character.

 

 

 

 

 

As its name implies, Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants to Texas — through an organization called the Adelsverein.  While Hispanic is the largest ethnic group in Texas,   the “Anglos,” people who immigrated to Texas from other parts of the United States, are actually the 3rd largest ethnic group.  The 2nd largest ethnic group in Texas is German, people who immigrated to Texas from Germany, which included several members of my mother’s family.  The hill country was and is home to a large ethnic German population.  They brought with them their own vernacular style of architecture which they adapted to their new home.  A descendant of these early German settlers is celebrated just across the street from where we ate lunch: Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (at left).  The old Nimitz Steamboat Hotel, (below) owned and operated by his grandfather, Charles Henry Nimitz, Sr.,  where young Chester played as a child,  now houses the Admiral Nimitz Museum.  It is part of a complex of museums and displays that comprise the National Museum of the Pacific War.  Its extensive grounds include walls studded with memorial plaques to ships and people who served in the Pacific Theatre during WWII –which was where my dad served with the 6th Marine Division.  We briefly toured the museum’s grounds, but we did not have time to do it justice.  The displays and exhibits are quite extensive and encompass several buildings as well as a large courtyard.  The part I found most moving, however, was the Japanese Garden of Peace, a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the United States, in honor of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.   Craftsmen came from Japan and built it, using money raised in Japan by popular subscription. We lunched at a restaurant called “The Auslander” — which is German for “outsider, foreigner.”  Since I wasn’t driving, I had a big tall glass of Paulaner Hefe-Weiss beer with my Rinderbraten. (If you’ve never drunk anything but American beer, you don’t know what you’re missing!)   The food was scrumptious, the portions generous (I had to have a “doggie bag“), and their brown gravy was to die for!  They were doing a land office business, even in the trough of the afternoon (3 p.m.). The worst part of eating there was having to choose between having the Paulaner or a peach Bellini to drink with my meal.

The Auslander Restaurant has an interesting collection of cuckoo clocks whose cuckoo where kept shut up behind their little doors.  Having that many cuckoo clocks going off at once would be rather cacophonous — especially at noon!  The restaurant’s Christmas decorations were still up as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Following our meal, we took a stroll about, first to the Nimitz Museum, and then to the town square to see their Christmas tree and “pyramid”, which is based on one of those little gizmos which uses heated air from candles to turn a little propeller, which then turns the pyramid — except that the one they have is about 30 feet tall!  The decorations on their Christmas tree reminded me of my home-baked snowflakes.  This is a nice little park, which also has an ice-skating rink and a little wedding chapel.  They have set up their “life size” creche and this other tree thingie as part of the town’s seasonal decorations.   The roses in the park were still blooming.

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the yarn shop they used to have in Fredericksburg is now closed as the lady who ran it retired.

Llolling About in Llano, Part One

Our good friends C&DK invited mom and me down to their “ranch” about 7 miles outside of Llano, Tx, over New Year’s.  They have around 20 acres in  “the hill country” down near Austin, and Fredericksburg, on which they have a cabin.  They call it “The Crooked Star Ranch” because they had a star (Tx is the “Lone Star State,” after all) on the cabin door that kept getting knocked cattywompus* every time the door was closed.

The cabin was originally built as a 10′ x 15′ hunting lodge with a fireplace, a sleeping loft, a miniscule 3-piece bathroom, a very rudimentary kitchen, a veranda and a screened-in porch.

After they bought it, they replaced the porch screens with glass, added a bedroom and bath on the ground floor and bumped out the kitchen to make room for more prep area, shelving, and a full sized refrigerator.  They also added 3 mini splits for heating and cooling.   It’s rustic, I’ll grant you, and it’s out in the boonies, but it has hot and cold running water, a septic system, indoor plumbing, and she has a stackable washer and dryer, so we weren’t exactly roughing it.

The stairs to the sleeping loft (at right) are rather breakneck, and they did not want my 93-year-old mom going up and down them (nor did I), so they put her in their bedroom with its en-suite, and they slept in the loft.  I was put on the former porch on the bed the couch folded out into.  However, I had a waffle blanket, a quilt and the thick fleece blanket I had thrown in the back seat of the car (along with a baggie containing tea light candles, a cigarette lighter, chocolate, nuts and trail mix — part of my winter survival kit), and I was plenty warm.

They still had their Christmas decorations up.  The stockings were hung on the gun-rack with care.  (Actually,  the guns and sword are “authentic reproductions” that belong to one of their neighbors who participates in historical reenactments.

The cabin was all lit up for Christmas, including Dixie, their dog (lower left corner of picture).   (Dixie is a Boykin Spaniel, — the state dog of South Carolina — and is rather opinionated about how many treats she should be allowed to have. . . .)

This part of Texas is known as the “hill country” because it is just that — hilly, rocky, and wooded, with post oaks, live oaks and mesquite.  It is mostly used for grazing land, primarily for cattle, but also sheep and goats.  The land is dotted with limestone escarpments and outcrops which provide an abundant source of building material — the so-called “Austin stone.”

This part of Texas is about at the same latitude as southern Morocco or the northern border of India, and has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and generally mild winters. Average temperatures range from 84°F (29°C) in the summer to 46°F (7.8°C) during winter.  Towns are few and far between in this area, and with all this open land, there is also wild life — a lot of deer, racoons, skunks, snakes (including rattlesnakes and copperheads), possums, foxes, coyotes, etc.  Unfortunately, they also have feral hogs.

With this winter storm thing developing over the New Year holiday, mom and I were watching the weather so as to know what clothes to take.  These were the predictions as of the day before we left.

 

 

 

Suffice it to say, my mom, bless her, does not have the appropriate clothes for this kind of situation or weather.  Her wardrobe is “indoor-city,” i.e., geared to bridge clubs, luncheons, and church.  Her idea of cold weather clothes was to bring her wool suit made from thin woolen broadcloth lined with satin, which she wore with a long sleeved cotton jersey sweater, a flannel lined nylon windbreaker, and knee-high nylon hose —  and she couldn’t understand why she was so cold.  I was wearing microfleece — three layers on my core, and two layers on my arms — sweatpants, and thick cotton socks, and I was fine, although I did resort to a lap robe on Monday.

We drove down on Friday, and made really good time — with my mom navigating and the excellent directions CK had given us, we didn’t miss a turnoff.  The only time we had any trouble at all was when one of those bus-like RV motor homes nearly ran us off the road.  I was going slightly under the speed limit (which is 75 mph/120 kph in Texas) I was in the passing lane right beside them when this yahoo in the motor home decided to pull into our lane and durn near side-swiped us.  Fortunately, I was able to maintain control of the car and keep us going straight because the shoulder of the road (what there was of it) was steeply sloped and we could have easily had a roll-over accident.  I don’t think mom realized how close we came to wiping out completely, which is just as well.

One other incident of note did happen on the way down; I finally thought of a good name for my silver 2015 Toyota Corolla.  The car I had before it (for 27 years!), a 1987 Toyota Corolla, was affectionately known as “the Crayola.”  I’ve decided to call this one “the Grayola.”

CK, who is a great cook, served us home-made chicken and dumplings, queso, tamales,  prime rib and other such delicious goodies —  in a kitchen with no stove, just a microwave, toaster oven and crock pots!

*cattywompus — if something is all cattywompus, it is discombobulated, askew, tangled up, disarranged, jumbled up.  (If you’ve ever been around little kittens, you’ll have noticed that sometimes when they run, the hind end gets ahead of the front end, with predictable results.)