Friday, March 28, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On

I'm sure everyone has seen this sign:

To me, these words are arranged in a different order:  Carry On and Keep Calm.

I have this quirk:  every time I travel I try to fit everything into a carry-on size suitcase.  It leaves me with fewer options in the wardrobe department and takes a month or so ahead to plan.  Some people think I'm nuts.  My husband is impressed.  I just hate arriving in an unfamiliar airport and trying to find the baggage claim area and waiting nervously to see whether my bag has arrived.

Also, my husband is always in a hurry.  I have to be able to move around quickly.  I can't do that if I have big, heavy luggage.  So I just zip along with my little carry-on bag.  Yes, it limits how much I can take with me, but to me it's worth it to avoid the hassle.  So… I carry on and keep calm.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Traveling with Friends

When we lived in Philadelphia we had friends our age who don't "act their age".  I mean they don't act "old".  They like to go out and explore and experience new things.  Therefore, when we were with them we found ourselves brought along on adventures we might not do on our own.  The husband loves to search online for travel deals, and we benefit by signing up and going too.  One of the best trips we have had was on a barge on a French canal.  We have gone with them to Israel, Italy and Mexico.

This time they have arranged a riverboat trip on the Danube River.  This time the ship carries around 100 passengers, compared to 18 passengers on the barge.  So, the experience will be quite different I'm sure.  I never thought I would enjoy a cruise on one of those giant ships… just too many people in one place.  We did sail the Greek Islands on a ship with 300 passengers and that was wonderful.

I have been getting ready for this newest trip.  I'm always determined to take everything I need in my small carryon bag, so it takes meticulous (nearly obsessive) planning.  I remember a trip to Italy when we took too much luggage and had to haul it around on buses and trains.  I prefer to travel with a light load!

Here is one my favorite quote about travel, attributed to Augustine of Hippo.

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only only page."

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One Adoption

The little gray kitten has been adopted.  He's living with an older couple with no children or other animals in the house so he should settle in fine.  He has been named Grayson.

We still have Little Blondie (Buddy) and Little Spot at our house, separated from our other cats.  We have a family coming over tonight to look at them.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Best Thing About Spring

The windows are open!  There is sunshine and fresh air coming into the house.  The cats are happy.  I'm happy. Thank goodness the cabin fever is gone.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Kittens In the House

Two of the feral kittens we are taming… we have them isolated in one room to keep them apart from the existing cats in the house.

We can pick them up and hold them now.  Once you catch them, they settle down and purr.

Their fluffy, gray little brother is still at home with the lady we are calling the "cat whisperer".  She and her husband are taming him.  He was a little less tame than these two.

The little female was the most wild of the four, so we let her go back outside.  Here she is, post-surgery, out on the deck.

She is back with her feral buddies outside.  The black cat beside her is the one we thought was their mother but turned out to be a male.  He still acts as her protector, I think.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Continuing Kitty Story

Our adventure continues with the four feral kittens.  Last week we decided to trap them so they could go to the vet to be spay/neutered.  One night we put a trap out with tuna, and watched as the first kitten went into the trap.  We brought the kitten in and put the trap back out.  Soon we had a second one.  We kept them in a crate overnight and in the morning we set out the trap again.  We had the other two trapped before long.  We put all four in the crate together.

We decided to try to catch the mother cat, who we suspected was in heat again.  There have been two tomcats hanging around so we thought she was attracting them.  We put the trap out again and the mother cat went in!

I took the four kittens to the vet and my husband took the mother to a spay/neuter clinic in Cincinnati.  We were planning to return her to the wild since she that was all she had known, while we thought the kittens might be adoptable.  I watched as the vet checked out the kittens… one female and three males.
I left them there for their surgery.  We were planning to go away for the weekend so we couldn't take them home after the surgery.  We arranged with the vet to board them until we returned home.

I was on my way home from the vet's office when I got a call from my husband.  "Guess what?"  he said.  The cat we thought was the mother turned out to be a male!  I was surprised because that cat had been taking care of the kittens ever since they came to us.  They slept together and always came to eat together and they played all over him.  We brought him home and released him back outside.

Then we went to the airport and flew out of town, leaving the four kittens with the vet.  While we were away, I received a call from a young woman who works in the vet's office.  She told me the three males had been neutered and she wanted to know if she could take them home and try to socialize them.  It turns out she does this with kittens quite often, then finds homes for them.  I said it would be fine.  So the three males spent the weekend at her house while the female kitten stayed at the vet's.

We came home on Monday and I made arrangements to retrieve the kittens the next day.  I went to the cat sitter's house and she showed me the progress she had made with them, holding and petting them.  I brought two of them home to see what would happen if we introduced them to our existing pet cats.  I left one kitten with her as she said it was still pretty shy.  I picked up the little female at the vet's office and brought her home.  She was still pretty wild so we released her outside.  We have seen her since, living in one of our shelters and coming out to feed.  She seems to be doing fine.

Now we have the two male kittens at our house, trying to acclimate them to our surroundings.  We have been able to hold them and they purr.  We might give one back to the cat sitter lady because her husband fell in love with it over the weekend.

Here are the kittens at the pet sitter's house.

The pet sitter holding the little gray kitten.

The kittens at our house today.

Worry Wart Part II

About a week ago I wrote a post about worrying.  I was worrying about flying in Eastern Europe so close to the Black Sea, where Russia and Ukraine and Crimea have been unsettled and there had been terror concerns surrounding the Sochi Olympics.

Now I have another reason to worry; the Malaysian Airlines plane that disappeared over water.  It frightens me to find out that some countries are lax about checking passports.  It frightens me that there is a period of about an hour when a flight over water is out of contact with radar or radio or any kind of tracking.  I have flown back and forth across the Atlantic six times in my life and never worried about it before, but I am worrying about it now.

I hate worrying.  It takes all the fun out of life.  Instead of looking forward to a trip, I find myself dreading it for weeks at a time.  Should I back out and disappoint my friends with whom we are supposed to travel?  Can we get any money back?  Will my husband lose patience with my nervousness?  Or should I just decide to go and try to put it out of my mind for now?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Catching the Kitties

Remember the four feral kitties we've been feeding?

Yes, this four… 

Last night and this morning, we managed to catch all four of them… one at a time.

Transporting from the trap to the carrier:

Then we took all four to the vet.  They are going to be spayed (one is a female) and neutered (three are male) and have all the necessary shots, etc. 

What are we going to do with them after they are neutered and vaccinated?  We haven't decided.  We will see how they react to being around people.  If they can be socialized we will try to have them adopted.  If not, we will return them outside to their little colony.  Now we have to catch their mother so we don't get another batch of kittens!

Update:  We have now caught the mother cat and will have her spayed tomorrow.  Also, the vet called to let us know the kittens have all tested negative for disease and are healthy.  They are receiving all of their vaccines.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Too Close for Comfort?

Am I really a worry wart?  Sometimes I wonder.  My father was a renowned worrier, a world-class worrier. He went to extremes; there were even times when he was worried because he forgot what he was supposed to be worried about!  My mother really did consider engraving his gravestone with the familiar quote, "see, I told you I was sick".

I probably do worry more than many people, but I believe I am more of a realist.  I tend to think ahead to all the possibilities and prepare for them; like a boy scout I like to be prepared.  For example, because we live in the midwest I always have emergency supplies; flashlights, lanterns, batteries, radios, etc. in case of tornadoes  Sometimes my husband thinks I overdo it, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

My dad was a white knuckle flyer, but he flew when necessary.  I used to be a fearful flier, but have overcome that through my love of traveling.  I have never been afraid of traveling.  I will sit on the plane for ten hours to get to Hawaii because it's worth it.  I have traveled all around Europe, including Turkey and Greece.  I even went back to Israel a second time even though I saw Katytusha rockets flying over the border from Lebanon.

But now I find myself in a dilemma.  We are planning a trip to Eastern Europe in the near future.  Here's a map:

Right there in the middle is the Black Sea.  On the east is Russia and on the north is Ukraine.  Russia and Ukraine are on the brink war at the moment, if you believe the news.  There are warships gathering in the Black Sea.  We are supposed to be on the western side of the Black Sea, in Romania and Bulgaria.  I am beginning to worry.  Do I want to be that close to a possible war?  That close to so much unrest and uncertainty?  Or am I being paranoid? Of course my husband thinks I am being a worry wart.  I need to know, what do you think?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Small Town Good Food

Bellevue, Kentucky… a small town on the banks of the Ohio River.  It has nice, old-fashioned  homes on tree-lined streets.  All along the main street are little shops and cafes.  

If you look across the river, you can see Cincinnati, Ohio.  

One of the cafes is called Virgil's Cafe.  It is housed in what used to be a home.  It is a small, neighborhood chef-owned place.  All the food is fresh, local and homemade.  

Virgil's became somewhat famous when Guy Fieri came to town with his Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show on the Food Network.  His show featured Virgil's homemade pastrami.  Locals have noted that Virgil's is not a diner, drive-in or dive; rather it's a cafe.

I'm writing about it because we ate there last night, with two other couples.  We had a wonderful meal, including shrimp with cheese grits, reuben sandwiches, and crayfish beignets.  We sat at a table where we could observe the kitchen.  We had a friendly waitress and a great bartender.  Here are some of their dishes:

Shrimp and Cheese Grits

Hot Slaw


Now I want to go back!