Thursday, October 29, 2009

Visiting Hours

Remember the little black feral kitten I had spayed yesterday? She's recuperating out on my deck. She has a family out there, and some of them came to visit her this afternoon. See the little black kitten on the outside? That's one of her littermates:

I think the big black cat here is one of her parents. He/she seems concerned for her and has been sticking around. There is a smaller adult we think is the mother, so this bigger one might be the father. But... do father cats hang around with their offspring? I've never heard of it. This one certainly seems interested, though.

Spay/Neutering, Part Two

This is the little black kitten that was spayed yesterday. She is now resting in a soft cage on my deck.

After I brought her home this morning, we put the trap out again and caught a second cat; we think this one is the mother of the litter. I will bring the second one home tomorrow morning. Next week, I will try to catch the remaining three little black kittens. After that, my neighbor is going to borrow the trap and try to catch the cats that have been visiting her yard.

We think the colony of cats behind our houses numbers about twelve total. We are trying to keep the number of homeless cats in our neighborhood from expanding. So far, I have prevented one female from giving birth to new litters.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Little Black Kittens

This morning I trapped my first little black kitten and took it in to be neutered. I will pick it up in the morning and bring it home. The little black kitten is one of a litter that was born under my neighbor's porch in June. The parents are part of a cat colony that lives in a tree-lined ravine behind our houses. We have more or less "adopted" the four little kittens, feeding them twice a day and watching them play and sun themselves in our yard. It was fun having them around all summer, but now we have to face reality. They are four months old and will soon be mature enough to have litters of their own. So, I found a non-profit spay/neuter clinic and bought a havahart trap.

I must admit I felt a little guilty trapping the poor little thing; it looked so frightened when the trap slammed closed. It was trying to find a way out. It soon settled down though, and was quiet. Now there are three more of the little black kittens that I will have to trap and have neutered. The first one was the most difficult; I really had to talk myself into setting the trap. The first one got caught because it was the boldest, and would come the closest to us. I feel like I might want to adopt it, but I am afraid it might miss it's littermates. There is also the problem of how they will survive through the winter. We took care of one stray last winter by putting up a tent and filling it with straw. We may have to do the same this year.

Oh, the life of a cat lover... you always worry about them!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What Happened at the Playhouse Last Night?

"Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov is currently being presented at Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park. My husband and I attended the preview show last night. I am still trying to explain to myself what happened. The play we saw was adapted by a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. It was directed by a Tony winning director. The set designer is a Tony winner. The costume designer is a Tony winner. The actors were high caliber, having appeared on Broadway, and one a Tony winner.

The photo above was used in the promotion of the play. Maybe that was part of the problem. When we entered the theater, we wondered if we were in the right place. From what I heard from others around me, they were wondering the same thing. The stage looked like a disaster area. It couldn't have been bleaker. A monotone setting, depicting what looked like an abandoned warehouse, with crumbling walls and a debris-strewn floor. There was one bare light bulb for lighting effect. We couldn't tell if it was supposed to be a home, a factory, a military outpost, or an old office building. The room was furnished with a large wooden desk, an overturned desk chair, and a couple of metal folding chairs. Some of the actors were hidden, crouching in dark corners. They all were dressed in torn, tattered, dirty clothes. The whole atmosphere was bleak, dreary, and hopeless; that was the point of the play, I guess.

The characters did not seem to relate to each other at all; each spoke their lines as if they were performing a soliloquy. There really wasn't much of what I could identify as dialogue; lines seemed to arise suddenly, out of nowhere, with actors leaping suddenly into action from their dark corners. Sometimes it was difficult to tell who was speaking, much less to whom.

I have never thought of myself as particularly unsophisticated or dense. I read the New York Times and do the crossword puzzle every Sunday. I am generally well-read. I studied Classics and French literature in college (maybe I should have studied Russian literature). I watch C-Span and listen to public radio. I don't think I am a "dumb" person; but I did not "get" the play last night. It wasn't just me; many others were leaving at intermission, too. I wonder how many were left in the audience for the second act. I thought to myself, surely Cincinnati will be embarrassed at the number of people who failed to appreciate this play. But I was one of them. I'm still not sure what happened.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Fall Weekend

The weekend before Halloween. The trees have been beautiful and colorful. Fall has been in its glory. Today it rained all day, and a lot of trees were losing their leaves. I thought I had better take some photos before it was all over. So, I took some photos as I was on my way to my sister's house. I pulled over to the side of the road and took the two pictures above.

The picture below is down the road from my house; it's a stone entrance to a long driveway. Sadly, the tree is now past its prime; it was gorgeous a few days ago, but losing most of its leaves now.

The next picture is the playhouse in my sister's back yard:

The girls were putting on their Halloween costumes for a school party. This is Aubrey, as Cleopatra:

And Sarah is dressing as a devil (her braces adding a bit of flash):

Here they are helping Sammy, the dog, into her costume:

Here is Sammy, in her Trick or Treat sweater. You may notice, she's wearing it in off-the-shoulder "Flashdance" style.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wasting My Life?

If this is true, I have wasted the better part of the last week. I started with my closet. Took everything out and put back only those things I love. Put summer things away. Gave the rest to Goodwill or the consignment store.

Then I started on the basement. We have two storage areas, both full of "stuff". Seasonal stuff, holiday stuff, stuff we brought with us when we moved. I can't explain what happened to me. It was as if a cleaning demon possessed me. Before I knew it, three hours had passed and the floor was clear! Now we can find things! Like things are grouped together! Things are put away in boxes and on shelves!

It seems like I have an alter self. My "normal self" would look at a job like the closet or the basement, feel overwhelmed, and go read a book. But once in a while, I have a day where my "cleaning self" takes over, and it seems effortless; my energy just flows. I actually experience that "flow" state, in which I'm not even aware of time. This week I had several days in a row when my cleaning self took over. It was amazing!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tiger At Home

Tiger is back home where he belongs... it was so sad seeing him all alone in that little cage at the hospital. Now he is comfy on the sofa with his little straw friends.

Tis the Season!

Major Project Time!

Time to put the summer clothes away and get out the winter clothes. Time to clean out the closet and get rid of things I don't need.

Step One: Sort out summer clothes: what to keep for next year; what to give away.
Step Two: Find empty boxes for giveaway items.
Step Three: Get out winter clothes and sort: what I will wear again this year; what I won't use again.
Step Four: Take summer clothes out of closet; put winter clothes in.
Step Five: Decide which giveaway items go to Goodwill and which go to the consignment store.
Step Six: Put summer clothes I am keeping into storage boxes.
Step Seven: Delivery to consignment store.
Step Eight: Delivery to Goodwill.

It looks like Katie wants to go to Goodwill!

Footnote: I would love to live in Hawaii some day. Then I wouldn't need winter clothes... just sandals, swimsuit, and sundresses all year long!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tiger is Resting at Home

Finally! I was able to bring Tiger home yesterday. He had stayed in the vet hospital for ten days and had surgery for his bladder stones. Poor little guy! He looked so forlorn back in the corner of his cage. I was glad to get him out of there and bring him home.

We put him in a quiet room with his own food, water, and litter box. He is still a bit gun-shy, staying in that room even after we opened the door so he could venture out. He has to wear the plastic collar until his stitches heal, and I know he doesn't like it. I go in occasionally and scratch his neck for him, and he seems to like that. He has to go back to the vet for a check-up Friday morning. I hope he passes his exam with a good grade and can stay home for good.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Peace Prize

This morning I was watching "Morning Joe" on MSNBC. I saw Christopher Hitchens and Pat Buchanan smugly pronouncing their negative opinions about the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Barack Obama. Many others have expressed similar opinions in recent days. "Enough!" I thought to myself. "I have heard enough." I have to write about this.

I am tired of these pompous pundits' derision of President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. They say he hasn't accomplished anything. Some have said (half jokingly I think) that it's because he's not George Bush (personally, I think that's a pretty good reason, but I digress). I believe these pundits are looking at the issue through too narrow a lens. Maybe from a domestic viewpoint we don't recognize how much he has done from the perspective of worldwide opinion.

I was moved to tears as I listened to his speech in Germany in July, 2008. His speech was titled "A World that Stands as One". In his opening statement he said, "Tonight I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen; a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world". A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD... those words are what stood out for me. A citizen of the world! What a change from the previous eight years! I thought to myself, "thank goodness for this man, and I hope and pray he becomes our President".

I believe that speech must have been the moment when someone on the Nobel committee must have first thought of Barack Obama and the Peace Prize in the same context. Of course the cynics have said, "yeah he gives a great speech... that's no reason to give him the Peace Prize". I believe it wasn't the fact that "he gives a great speech". It was what the speech represented... it represented a new hope for cooperation between the United States and the rest of the world. To those of us who cringed every time we saw the United States being represented by George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, this was a revelation. We had been waiting eight long years for a thoughtful, intelligent leader who realizes that, in today's world we can not just stand up and bully the rest of the world.

The speech in Berlin was just the beginning. Since then, our President has gone to Egypt and spoken directly to the Muslim world. As he said, "to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect". I realize that some feel this represents weakness; they believe all Muslims are terrorists. But Obama pointed out that not all Muslims are terrorists, and that good people of that faith should not be painted with the same brush. One Muslim leader pointed out that Obama's speech in Cairo "represents a positive direction" in relations between the United States and the rest of the world.

In summary, I believe those who claim President Obama won the Peace Prize only because he gives good speeches are missing the point. I believe the philosophy behind those speeches and the reaction of the rest of the world is the point. "So, what has he actually accomplished?" they ask. I believe he has accomplished a shift in attitudes around the world. That is quite an accomplishment after eight long years of being viewed with disdain, mistrust and resentment by the rest of the world.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Are You Attending the Manor Ball?

Have you heard about the Manor Ball? It is being held next Tuesday, October 13th at Willow Manor. The hostess's blog is called "Life at Willow Manor". All you need to bring is your dream dance partner and your imagination. Willow has promised it will the the cyber event of the season. She has even hinted that Fred Astaire might put in a brief appearance.

I was a bystander last year, but decided I didn't want to miss it this year. I am up for a glamorous evening to start off this fall/winter season. I am looking for the perfect gown to wear, and trying to decide on the perfect dance partner to accompany me to the ball. Willow inspired me when she put up a video of Fred Astaire dancing "Puttin' On The Ritz". I've always loved Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. So I decided to look for a vintage dress worn by Ginger Rogers when she danced with Fred. These are the dresses I found:

This is the first dress that caught my eye. I love the fluttery sleeves and the graceful skirt.

This dress is simply amazing. Look what happens when she dances!

This dress is amazing too. Imagine moving your shoulders as you dance. I might put a braid in my hair, too!

As for my dream dance partner, I have been considering two gentlemen, very different but each very charming in his own way.

First... Gene Wilder. While I was watching Fred Astaire dancing "Puttin' on the Ritz" I remembered Gene Wilder dancing and singing to "Puttin' on the Ritz" in "Young Frankenstein". Even though he had a quite unwieldy partner, he was suave and classy in his tux. Very charming. With his sense of humor, I am sure he would be a fun companion for the evening. And cute too, don't you think?

Then there is Sam Waterston. He is quite charming and intelligent. I fell in love with him when I saw him in Joseph Papp's "Much Ado About Nothing" in 1972. Then I loved him again when he played the gentlemanly Nick in "The Great Gatsby". I saw that in 1974; so you know this has been a long-term relationship. Hmm, what do you think?

Note: I tried to post Willow's official invitation with a link to her blog, but I couldn't get it to work. I hope I meet someone at the ball who can teach me some computer skills. You can find the ball at

Tiger is Still in the Hospital

We were hoping to bring Tiger home from the vet hospital today. However, the vet called and told us they want to keep him for a couple more days. He had a complication this morning, where another crystal blocked his urethra. We were afraid that he was going through too much pain and maybe we should discontinue treatment. But the vet reassured us that this problem should clear up when his surgery wound heals. The reason they want to keep him is to keep a catheter in until the wound heals. He told us there is no reason Tiger shouldn't be fine once he heals.

We felt better after we went in and talked to the vet. He showed us illustrations of what has been done and what he expects to happen as Tiger heals. It made sense and was much clearer seeing it in person. We also got to see Tiger. He was awake and looking around and let me pet him. I could tell he wasn't happy with the plastic collar, but I know he needs it to keep from picking at his stitches.

So, now it sounds like he will stay in the hospital until Monday. We miss him a lot, and it was good to see him.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All Cats, All the Time

This is what the little black kittens in our back yard look like. There are four of them, and they look identical, black with gold eyes. They are adorable, but they are feral cats. I found a place in Cincinnati where they can be spay/neutered for a low price. If I can catch them, I will take them there. While I have them, I will see how amenable they are to being around humans. We have been feeding them for a few weeks now. At first they would turn and run the minute they saw us. Now they sit and wait while we bring the food to them. They still run when we get too close, but they are doing better.

My next door neighbor would like to adopt one if it can be socialized. That remains to be seen. Today I borrowed a Havahart trap from my local animal shelter. We are going to try catching them, then we will see how they act. I want to have them neutered in either case so the feral cat population won't keep growing in our neighborhood. It's so much fun watching them outside, playing, rolling around, and sunning themselves... I almost feel guilty catching them in a trap. But I know they can't remain little kittens much longer, before they begin to reproduce themselves.

It's not always easy being a "cat person". They tug on your heart and make you spend lots of money. Speaking of that, Tiger is due to come home tomorrow after his surgery. For what it cost I could have bought a purebred cat (or maybe two or three!). But he, who started out his life as a little stray, has my heart. I know all cat lovers will understand. (The rest of you will probably think I'm crazy.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Male Cats and Their Delicate Plumbing

My cat Tiger has had a urinary blockage twice during the last ten days. This is considered an emergency, as the blockage can prove lethal in a short time. I have learned that this is very common in male cats because they have a very narrow urethra that gets blocked easily. I have also learned that once they suffer a blockage, they are apt to have recurrences on a regular basis. This means keeping a close eye on them, and frequent trips to the vet.

The vet told me they could do a surgery called perineal urethrostomy, which sounds terrible but apparently is the best solution to the problem. I don't believe in taking extreme measures and causing an animal discomfort, but I was assured that once they are healed from the surgery they are fine. I will have to get special cat litter, special food, and give him medicine while he heals. I will have to keep him in a separate room from the other cats and watch him closely. It has to be a room with a window so he can look out, and without a bed so he can't hide from me. I asked my husband if Tiger could stay in his office. I think my husband is getting a little impatient about the whole thing. But I am very fond of Tiger and will do whatever I can. Please wish me luck.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Did You Ever Try to Catch a Cat?

Yesterday when we brought Tiger home from the vet, he had a bright pink bandage on his left front leg, where the vet had placed the IV needle. The vet said we could take the bandage off after an hour or so. HOW, I wondered were we going to hold Tiger down long enough to take that bandage off? Tiger is a nice cat, but he will NOT allow himself to be handled. After a while I noticed that Tiger's paw beneath the bandage was swollen and I was afraid the bandage was too tight. I was worried about his swollen paw, so I decided we had to catch him and get the bandage off.

We knew catching Tiger wasn't going to be easy. Initially, our strategy was to barricade all the inside doors and confine Tiger to as small a space as possible. Then husband and I would close in on him, one on each side, each of us holding a blanket with which to ensnare him. This entailed a lot of running around, with Tiger outmaneuvering us at every turn. We finally cornered him in the dining room, where Tiger decided he was not going to run anymore. He simply planted himself squarely under the dining room table and refused to budge.

We stood on either side, talking to him gently, trying to persuade him to come out. When we finally gave up, he ran to an even more inaccessible spot, behind the sofa. Once again, we ganged up on him, one on each end of the sofa. I stuffed my end closed with pillows so he couldn't come out that way. Husband waited at the other end with a large fishing net, ready to snare him. He was protected by thick gloves so he could hold Tiger in the net. When husband had tiger in the net and reached down to hold him, Tiger jumped up and scratched him across the face. Husband let go and ran off to survey what was left of his face (it's not too bad).

After a while, husband shouted to me to come quick. Somehow he had managed to corner Tiger in the basement stairwell, with the door closed behind him. I ran to get boxes and pillows to block off the top of the stairway, in case Tiger managed to get past husband. Husband threw the large fishing net over Tiger. Funny thing is, once Tiger was caught, he calmed down and held still, while I I ran down the stairs and managed to cut the bandage off through the mesh of the net. Then he was free to go. He is hiding from us now.

So, now Tiger is free of the bright pink bandage. But I don't know long it will be before he trusts us enough to be in the same room with us. I guess when he gets hungry enough, he will come around. As for us humans... we are exhausted!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tiger's Homecoming!

YAY! I thought when I woke up this morning. Tiger can come home from the vet today.
YAY! I thought when the vet called and said he was doing fine and I could come and pick him up.

I set the carrier down in the bedroom and opened the top. He was wrapped in a towel, scrunched up in the corner. He looked around for a few minutes. I reached in and petted him on the head. He jumped out of the carrier and ran under the bed, his favorite hiding place. I figured he would hide for a while, so I left him alone.

A few minutes later I found him already out in the kitchen. Oh, he must have been hungry... the vet said he hadn't eaten this morning. I put some canned food on a dish and set it in front of him. He gobbled it all down. The other two kitties came over to investigate. Katie hissed at him; I thought it was because she wanted some of the food, and she is kind of grumpy anyway so I didn't think too much of it.

Then I opened the back door so he could get some fresh air. His littermate, little Tinkerbell was there. I thought she would be happy to see him... surely she missed her own brother. But she HISSED at him! She hissed and growled at poor, recuperating tiger! Why would she do that? I called the vet. They said he probably smells different, maybe like urine. They said cats don't like the smell of urine. I wondered... how can they use a litterbox? Doesn't it smell like urine?

Anyway, they suggested I wipe Tiger down with a moistened towelette to take the smell off. I would try that if I could catch him! He doesn't like to be caught in general... especially just after he's been tortured at the vet's office. I also have to give him pain medication every twelve hours to ease the pain from having a catheter put in, his bladder pumped out, then the catheter taken back out. He's been using the litterbox very gingerly. I think it hurts.

He's hiding under the bed again. He's probably in pain. And the other cats keep hissing at him. I feel so bad for him. I am doing all I can, keeping an eye on the situation, making sure he has food, water, and a clean litterbox all to himself. I've been putting the pain medication in his food. I hope it helps.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Better Today

I'm afraid I was down in the dumps yesterday, feeling blue and down on myself. I'm sorry I took my collages down so quickly. I felt exposed and alone in the world.

One reason behind all this is my worry about my cat, Tiger. Last weekend we found him hunched over looking like he was in pain, then hiding from us. I wanted to take him to the vet, but he is impossible to catch and put into a carrier. It wasn't for lack of trying... my husband and I tried to catch him, but he was having none of it. We even borrowed a fishing net from my brother-in-law. Well, then Tiger started acting better again so we thought he was okay. Yesterday he started acting sick again, and I was worried.

Last night we left a soft-sided carrier open in the bedroom. I woke up to find Tiger curled up in it. So, I closed it, trapping him inside. He's fine in it, it has mesh sides so he can see out and it's very comfortable with a cat bed inside. But I couldn't get a vet appointment until later this morning so he has to stay in there for a few hours. I feel guilty keeping him trapped in there. He probably thinks he is being punished for something. Here he is...

So, while I am waiting to go to the vet, I will put my collage photos back up. They look surreal to me; I though maybe they would just look weird to you. I shouldn't have been so sensitive.

Update: I just got home from the vet. Tiger has bladder stones (not uncommon in cats) and has to have surgery to remove them. They say it's a fairly common procedure, especially for male cats because their urethra is so small. I am hoping he comes through okay and that he will be home again soon. It's a good thing we caught it when we did, because it could have led to more serious kidney problems.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Er... Maybe Not

Okay, no more collage. How about a nice early Autumn photo instead...

I can see that my attempts at collage were so embarrassing that no one wanted to say anything. I got the message. Back to square one...