Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thanks mom.

You got me a box!

Gray watch - month 4

Yes, there is more of it than last month. I had a haircut a couple weeks ago and much more of the now tan has been cut off. I am a bit dismayed by the thinning on the top, however. I did a little research and naturally brown hair is thicker than gray hair. The individual strands are, themselves, thicker. Still, it's another sign that the salad days have turned into shredded wheat.

Hmmm. What's for supper again?

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


If I give you money, will you just shut up?

Fall is my favorite season. I love the smell of the air on those warm days that remind us of summer. I love the colors of the trees. I love the crunch of leaves on pavement. I love to scuffle those leaves and send them flying. I love the cool windy days which are a harbinger of the crisp autumn of November with a promise of snow. I love pumpkins and squash and a zillion varieties of apples in baskets at the farmer's market. I love the smell of freshly harvested cornfields and seeing the combines working into the night on those clear autumn nights when the stars go on forever into the sky.

I hate pledge drives.

If there is one thing fall is known for it's pledge drives. Everyone calls seeking money. Everyone interrupts their programming to remind you to give, give, give. Go away.

I say this because my favorite radio station, WDCB 90.9 fm, is in the first days of a pledge drive. I awaken to AP Radio News, local news and then a jazz song followed by 10 minutes of, essentially, give or we'll hold Miles Davis hostage. They think they are cute, laughing on air about the lack of phones ringing. WDCB says they need $239,000 from the public and, after one day, they had raised $6,000 of that. "We'll be on the air until we get it, folks." Oh please.

Don't get me wrong. I completely and fully understand why they have to shill for funds. Grants make up only part of their operating budget. Even a college station must turn to listeners to make up the rest of what they need to operate. In today's economic climate, grant money has dwindled and it's just plain tough to make the ends meet. While many of the on-air personalities, particularly the ones who have a once a week gig, are volunteer, there is maintenance and staff for phones and music to purchase and licenses to renew. I know all that and I understand why they have to ask for money. It can't be any fun for the DJ's either, to turn over 65% of their air time to Jeff who then practically begs people to send in "any amount you can spare".

It's the end of the month and I have bills to pay and a car to fix. I really want to send them some money just as a show of support. I'm not sure the budget will stretch that far. But even if I do, I'll still have to listen to Jeff until the $239,000 is pledged. I just want some Ella, some Louie, some Frank, some Gene, some Houston, some Benny. I don't want another 10 minutes of why.

Now where did I put that Al Hirt CD?

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Monday, September 28, 2009

I don't know what this means.

I'm supposed to meet a guy for supper and conversation tonight. The operative word is "supposed" because, the more I think about this, the more uncomfortable I get. Yes, this is another dating service arranged meeting. But the problem with this is that I have no information on this guy.

Usually, I get a sheet of paper with basic information on the guy who is going to call me or who I will try to call. This time, nothing. He called me out of the blue on Friday night, after 9:00 p.m. When the phone rings after 9, it's not good news. I didn't want to talk to him as I was playing WOW and I felt uncomfortable without basic information. Maybe it would come on Saturday.

It hasn't. We chatted on Saturday and made arrangements to meet for supper tonight. But he said something that has me puzzling to the point that I need to get it straight in my head. He said he's looking for a "dominant woman". I don't know what that means. The more I think about it, the more unsettling it becomes. I have to admit my first image was of a woman wearing leather and carrying a whip but I hope that's not what's meant. Does it mean the woman makes all the household decisions? I'm not interested in that either. He said he doesn't cook, that he eats all his meals out. As I was making cookies, oatmeal blueberry muffins and butternut squash soup over the weekend, I thought how having someone who doesn't cook isn't a good thing for me.

I just want an equal. From my POV, there is an ebb and flow to a relationship. Some days or even periods of life, you need or want your partner to be more dominant in the relationship. Some days or periods of life, it's you who is dominant. For me, the bottom line is that he treat me as an equal. There is an aphorism that says, "Don't walk ahead of me. I may not follow. Don't walk behind me. I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend." That's what I want.

The more I think about this, the more uncomfortable with meeting this guy I become. Why waste an evening with someone I know, going in, that I'm not going to find attractive? I don't have much money to be spending on dining out to begin with. So, I taped his phone number to the bathroom mirror. I will call him when I get home from work and ask. We do each other no favors by sitting through a meal where there is nothing that can come of it.

And then I have to go online and tell the service this is the last one. This would be number 16 over 3 and a quarter years. Time for me to cut the strings and trust the karma of the world to finding a companion. I'm thinking some TV psychic has a better chance than this service does.

Beverage: English Breakfast tea


Sunday, September 27, 2009

The return of kitty "time-out"


She looks so cute. But cute wears off rather quickly and I'm not sure why.

She's been charging and attacking Mija lately. I broke up two fights yesterday. Pilchard was the instigator and, at least 3 times, she would stalk down the hall after Mija. This could get ugly as I am trying to move their food from the back bedroom where it started when they were brought here to the kitchen where I want them to eat. Mija is now a bit scared to eat as the food and water are at the junction of the hallway and the living room. I'm taking a few feet backwards today while I try to figure out the charge and attack scenario.

Shakespeare used to attack Carole. She would be happily playing on her floor and he would suddenly stalk and lunge at her. She was scratched and bitten more than a few times by this. In every case, he would be grabbed by the scruff of the neck and tossed into the bathroom. This is "kitty time-out". There's a water dish in there but the door gets closed and the cat isolated for several minutes. Once, I forgot about him and he was in there for an hour. As cats have no concept of time, it had to seem like we'd forgotten him. But the point is made, you attack, you're in time out.

So, Pilchard has spent a total of 20 minutes in the bathroom. This morning, I found the rug balled up because someone had peed on it. Maybe the litter boxes weren't as clean as they want them so I did that. It's not as onerous a job as it used to be, thank goodness.

Still, this has to stop. Now I'll worry that Pilchard is going after Mija while I'm at work. Maybe it's good I didn't go anywhere this weekend. I remember Half-Pint, when she was around 7 months old, picked on Penney just once too often and Penney took a chunk out of her ear. That was a quick vet trip, with Carole in tears. No, I didn't put Penney in "time-out" because I could see it coming, although not the ear chunk part. Annoy a cat long enough and they retaliate.

Is this a bid for attention? Is Pilchard jealous? Or is this a territorial thing? Or are they still settling down, still reacting to the random scents of passed on cats? I just know it's stressful for me and I'd rather not worry during the day that my house is now a battle zone.

Here's Mija this morning in the sunshine.

Beverage: China Black Tea


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Dance

Iowa 21 Penn State 10

If there is one thing I follow semi-religiously, it's my Iowa Hawkeyes. Tonight, they played the #5 ranked team in the country on Penn State's home field and beat them. I'm looking at the clock and it's 10:22 p.m. I need to call my mother and have her save the newspaper, but dare I? Oh sure, she's going to still be up. She was and she'll send me the sports pages in a couple of weeks.

The problem for me is that it appears there is no live web stream of the football game without paying at least $15 per game. I wound up watching a "blog" run by ESPN for the plays and the scoring. I tried to monkey with the TV for 15 minutes to get it to work, but I need that digital box attached and I'm just no good at figuring this stuff out. It was a national TV audience, too. I could have curled up in the papasan chair with a cat and scared her when we scored a touchdown. Yelling at the computer is just not the same as yelling at the TV.

What a way to start Big 10 football season!

Beverage: China Black Tea


Friday, September 25, 2009

It could be worse.

I was supposed to go to Iowa today for the "All Things Scottish" Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I have been going there for years. It's loads of fun and this time in Iowa is beautiful with the trees just beginning to turn colors and football in full swing.

But the Jeep bothers me.

Rodney said I have "acceptable" fluid levels of antifreeze. "Just pick yourself up 5 or 6 bottles and top it off when you stop for gas or food." Seeing the look on my face, he said, "What? What? That's what I'd do."

Yes, but...

He said a hose going into the radiator is worn and the seal is probably cracked where it enters the radiator. And I probably have a pin hole leak in that hose. It's fine for driving around town, but when the pressure builds on long car trips, it leaks fluid. The fluid vaporizes from the heat of the engine so I never see puddles or any other evidence of the leak. Over the long drive, I lose all my antifreeze. So just top it off whenever I stop.

Yes, but...

If the car breaks down, I have to have it towed and then repaired. I can't afford to fix it this weekend. Next weekend, after I get paid, sure, but not this weekend.

So, I'm home. I really want to be in Iowa, but I'm here in Wheaton.

Still, it could be worse. Hoses are easier to replace and much less costly than a radiator. I need an oil change next week anyway. This will be okay. I'm going to make cookies and muffins and a coffeecake and some chocolate and spend more time bonding with my cats.

Beverage: English Breakfast


Thursday, September 24, 2009


Val checks in today and I have it all wrong. Well, I spelled things phonetically and I really didn't know.

It's Pilchard and Mija.

But, in reality, any way it's spelled they are my cats, my fuzzballs, my friends. And since they don't read, they won't be offended if I spell their names wrong until I unlearn it, which will probably be some time in 2010.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

--Carl Sandberg

It was foggy this morning. I love the fog. I love how it drapes itself like gossamer around trees and buildings. I love how it diminishes the sounds of a city. I love how, when you walk through it and breath deeply, your lungs fill with the freshness of water. I love being out in it, feeling it on my face.

I remember fog on the farm. There were days you could not see across the yard. There were days when the fog was like torn sheets, sitting only in the hollows.

I love driving in the fog. Yes, it's dangerous, but I love the enveloped feeling and the act of discovery as you drive down even the most familiar of roads and the trees, signs and markers of life slowly reveal themselves to you.

Most of all, I love to walk in it. It's my introverted nature to need to recharge my batteries by alone-ness. This is not loneliness, this is just being alone. Fog is marvelous for that. I reach out and touch it. I surround myself with it. I loved going for a walk on the farm on a heavily foggy day. The sounds of the cows or the pigs or the chickens seemed a world away. I felt a balm for my busy soul.

And I remember in college, getting up to go to class on foggy days. As Old Style beer was brewed in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where I went to college, the fog would keep the smell of roasted hops in the city and it would not dissipate into the air. You would walk to your 8 a.m. class with this incredibly intriguing aroma; the damp on your face combined with the smell of hops and the Mississippi river. I know it sounds weird, but it was, to me, an inspiring smell. I remember being late to classes because I just wanted to be in it.

We don't get many foggy days in the city now. My memory thinks there were more, but it could be my memory is a fog. The tapestry of life changes in the fog. It's a change I miss. I would love to walk along a beach on a foggy day or hike through a forest or climb a hill while brushing the damp from my face. I was content this morning to linger in the back yard, breathing in the little that was left at 7:45.

More please. I want to sit on the deck in the morning with a mug of hot tea and just be in a fog.

Beverage: Assam tea


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hello there!

Another milestone this morning.

I had been warned that Meeha and Pilcher would follow me into the bathroom. But that is a cat's nature. Closed door? Must be something good behind it.

But the door knob on my bathroom door broke and the one I got to replace it is not the right size and I've never really searched for another. It was just Carole and I and we were very used to cats following us into the bathroom. Heck, Shakespeare used to come running from wherever he was in the house when he heard the water running in the bathroom sink. Now that it's just me, I sometimes partially close the bathroom door.

Meeha and Pilcher have come into the bathroom in the morning, when I get up, to get morning ear scratches, but generally don't follow me into that room. There is a water dish in the bathroom which I know Pilcher uses. But they get their ears scratched and then wander out.

This morning, I was showering, washing my hair. I turned to rinse out the back and there was a little face peering into the shower from the end of the tub. "Oh hi, Meeha!" I heard her run out of the bathroom. "Drat, she saw me!"

I'm guessing they have settled in.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Staking Space

It's been an extraordinary cat weekend. As the post below mentions, I finally reorganized to put all cat ashes together. So painful. I held each one and remembered something about them.

Shakespeare loved to play fetch with these rubber balls we used to get at a local drug store.
Penney loved to come up next to me when I was sitting on the bed getting dressed and rub her face against my shoulder.
Half-Pint loved to jump up your body to get to your shoulders where she would sit down.
Betsy loved to sit in my lap any time I sat down.
Rascal loved to catch anything and everything and bring it in the house to play with.

Now new personalities have taken up residence. Meeha has claimed the hallway. This means you must walk around or step over her. It is written that one does not move a cat.

Both have vied for my attentions over the weekend. They squabbled this morning as I made breakfast; growling, hissing, spitting. I sent Meeha to the bedroom. Meeha claims my bed and my affections when I'm there. She curled up with me under the covers for a time this morning. Betsy used to do that but Betsy would go to sleep. Meeha just sat there purring. She also came into the office and sat in my lap, purring loudly, while I played the game.

Pilcher claims the living room and the table with my craft project on it. She's going to be horribly confused when I take that table down when the project is finished. She spends all her time on that table, sitting and sleeping. Maybe, eventually, I'll get them both in bed with me with no hissing and growling.

They now come into the kitchen when I go in there. They have figured out the kitty treats are there. I don't give them treats as Val did and they seem fine with that.

Hence, although there was sadness and much tears as I put the others' ashes in the secretary, there is joy. I am a cat person and being without was like a hole in the universe. That is filled and they are the most wonderful cats I could have gotten. I guess Val knew they would take to me quickly. I am thrilled that they have.

Beverage: Assam tea


Together Again

Finally, I moved everyone to the secretary. It was not without lots and lots of tears. I found Half-Pint sitting on the bottom shelf of the secretary. I thought Carole had taken her west.

Left to right, Shakespeare, Penney, Half-Pint, Betsy and Rascal.

They are all together again. I miss each one so very much.

Beverage: English Breakfast


Galatians 6:7b

Perry turned 40 on Thursday, September 17th. Forty can be referred to as the "peak birthday". Once you reach 40, it's all downhill from here.

Of course, there are quotes about turning this age:

"I'm very pleased with each advancing year. It stems back to when I was forty. I was a bit upset about reaching that milestone, but an older friend consoled. me. 'Don't complain about growing old - many, many people do not have that privilege.'" -- Earl Warren

"Be wise with speed. A fool at forty is a fool indeed." -- Edward Young

"Every man over forty is a scoundrel." -- George Bernard Shaw

I have always said that no important birthday should go unpunished, as it were, and this one was no different. Although presents were not requested, I am different and will try to find something cheap that represents some item of the recipient's personality or life I have discovered. Perry is no different.
Both he and his wife, April, have a wonderful sense of humor, on par with my own. Everyone should get a balloon on their birthday. I taped the card to the string.

And the pretzels? Well, that is a very bad, but rather funny, inside joke.

I crammed that balloon into the box, the same box that Perry brought his homemade mead in back in August. I even sent back the inserts so he could refill the box. The balloon was so crammed that when he opened it, and he was warned NOT to use a sharp object, the balloon would pop out. That is the key. The box has to be just big enough for the balloon but not quite big enough that it sits comfortably.

I am given to understand he enjoyed it immensely. Pilcher liked the balloon, too.

As to the biblical reference above, look it up. April turns 40 in November. I have 2 months to plan an "appropriate" gift for her. I turn an older age at the end of November. I'm thinking of hiring someone to open my gifts.

And yet, what would life be like if you did not have friends with whom you could exchange gifts like this? A $4 balloon, a $3 card and a couple bags of pretzels. I can hear Perry's laughter as he opened the box.

With friends like them, well, life is more fun.

Happy Birthday, Perry.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Friday, September 18, 2009

All dressed up and no one to smack.

No raccoon last night.

This is a good thing. I had some difficulty sleeping. I think I was expecting him to return so my mind was trying to anticipate having to get up.

But he didn't return.

I hope he went back and told his buddies, too.


Beverage: Assam tea


Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Year Ago

Chicagoland had been rained on day and night for some 4 days. We received something like 17 inches over a 4 day period. It began on September 12th and didn't quit until the evening of September 15th. If it wasn't pouring, it was overcast and drizzle.

I had a guest at that time. I'd met a guy and he flew to Chicago for the week. The weather on the 12th prohibited his arrival at 2 p.m. It was 8:30 p.m. before he arrived.

I thought we had a marvelous week. We went out to eat a lot, in spite of us going grocery shopping Saturday, dodging a torrential rain. We went to Milwaukee to watch the Cubs play the Astros because the Houston area was going through a hurricane. We went shopping for souvenirs. We went into the city so he could say he'd been to Chicago. We went to Wrigley Field.

Over my objections, he bought tickets from a broker so he could see the Cubs play the Brewers at Wrigley Field. I never found out how much he spent.

He spent a lot on me. There were the meals we ate out. He bought some computer equipment so he could set up his lap top. He bought groceries and a couple of souvenirs. He paid for gas. I tried to pay for a few meals but he refused to allow it. I was giving him a wonderful week and the cost was minor compared to his vacation.

We parted at 5:00 a.m. at O'Hare on Friday, September 19th. His delay getting here had earned him a free ticket, as he had given up his seat for a woman to get home to her daughter. He swore Thursday night that free ticket was to come back to see me, in April probably because October to March was the busy time for his work.

I wanted to believe him. When I kissed him goodbye at the airport, he held me close and said, "It will be soon. I promise." It was all I could do to drive home through the tears. Betsy and Rascal liked him and were a bit confused that he wasn't in the house now.

The days passed. He stayed in touch for a week and then total silence. He had been the guardian of his sister's two boys. The oldest had gone to live with his father in Las Vegas that August and that weekend was a weekend of sloppy conversation over the computer and my just being at my keyboard while he vented. Still, he had the youngest who had made it clear he didn't want to go to Vegas.

Something happened that first week of October. I don't know what, but communication stopped. Emails and phone calls went unanswered. I sent an email toward the middle of October saying that I would box up the things he'd left behind and there were a few, and ship them back. Plus, I had calculated the cost of what he'd spent on me and would begin paying that off. I wasn't going to be seen as a gold-digger, or worse.

I got a reply and he begged me to hang on, that he would be better and I just needed to be patient for a couple weeks, or through the first of November. He would explain as much as he could then, but right now, it was too raw and he didn't want to be seen as a complainer.

The first of November came and went. Nothing. Again I sent an email saying he was to expect a box and again, there was a, "No please don't send me anything" email in return. His mother's birthday was, I think, November 12th. He mentioned he needed to shop "for someone special whose birthday is at the end of the month". "I need to make up for being such a slimeball," he said.

My birthday came and went. My daughter and my girlfriends remembered. Ten days later, he contacted me to say he was considering a promotion. I know it's petty, but I mentioned how Thanksgiving was lonely because I spent my birthday alone. He fell all over himself apologizing for missing it when he specifically had referenced it right after his mother's birthday. Then he said he had to go and would not tell me when we'd next talk.

That was it. I boxed up half of his stuff and shipped it back. A week later, I boxed up the rest and shipped it back. He contacted me Christmas Eve. He was drunk and his nephew was in Vegas visiting his father. He said he missed our conversations. He missed how understanding I was, how wise. But he wouldn't give me a date for when we'd next talk. There were always excuses.

I issued yet another ultimatum in January. On the 26th, he sent an email saying that he knew I would do whatever was best for me. That was it.

I fell. I fell hard. Girlfriends will vouch that I spent many, many nights crying myself to sleep. I never believed anyone could like me for me and he claimed he did. He was the only man I had ever considered moving from Wheaton for.

I have dreaded this week and the memories that would dance with it. Having the new cats has helped a lot because my energy is directed toward them. There has been more drama within my WOW guild and I haven't done a good job of dealing with that. Sometimes, my people skills leave a bit to be desired. I try but it doesn't always come out as nice as I would like. So, I have been able to keep the memories at bay.

But tonight, knowing that this marks the end of the week that he was here, the memories are like ripe apples waiting to be picked. I've been listening to Nat King Cole all evening. One of my favorite albums is called "Night Lights" and there is a song on that album called "Sometimes I Wonder". I have played it quite a bit tonight. These lyrics catch me:

Sometimes I wonder when I'm deep in memory.
If you ever give a little thought to me.

And while I'm under this old magic spell of you,
Sometimes I wonder if you ever wonder, too.

Beverage: Cold Assam


"And you want me to do what, exactly?" say the legs.

To the left is the raccoon repellent. Jalapeno peppers, along with Cayenne pepper was mentioned most in homemade raccoon repellents.

I was to take raw peppers, slice them in half and let them steep in a quart of water overnight. Then take this mixture, puree the peppers in the water and add it to a gallon of water mixed with a teaspoon of dish detergent, which is a wetting agent. Then pour this mixture into a squirt bottle.

I don't mind spicy but I don't like hot. The chances of me accidentally rubbing my eye after slicing raw Jalapeno peppers is probably akin to the chances of the sun coming up in the east in the morning. That wasn't going to happen.

So the next option was to mix a container of Cayenne pepper with the dish detergent in a gallon of water. But lugging a gallon of water to the roof and then to the vent was not a grandly safe idea.

When I got to the store and saw that I could get Jalapeno hot sauce, I decided the thing to do was to take one bottle up on the roof and spread it around the shingles surrounding the vent. I would then sprinkle the Cayenne pepper on top of the hot sauce. If that wasn't a deterrent, I don't know what was.

So I got the ladder and leaned it against the house and started to climb. Now there is a deck and last night, I stood on the deck railing, which would be at the bottom right off the photo, and, at 1:30 in the morning, slung a 25 foot electrical extension cord toward a raccoon near the chimney. But the problem is, that in order to get onto the roof, I have to climb all the way to the top of the ladder, swing my leg or body onto the roof and slide up. I got to rung number 4 from the top and realized, I couldn't do it.

Yes, part of that is my fear of heights although I have been on my roof on at least 3 occasions. But, at those times, there was someone to hold the ladder and hand up the things I needed, like the trowel to clean the gutters or the basketball to knock down that huge wasp nest or the hose to wash off the roof after cleaning the gutters. It's just me.

Therefore, although I could put the pepper and hot sauce in the gutter, I could not make myself climb the extra two rungs to maybe get clear of the gutters to get onto the roof. Yes, I feel like an idiot, but I just cannot do it. It scares me. If there was someone to hold the ladder, perhaps, no probably. Me myself and I? No.

See, I have to get to that vent to the right of the chimney. That's where he hung out and we played a cat and mouse game of me pummeling him with the extension cord as he wandered about each side of the chimney.

What do I do? Well, Plan B is to have the hot sauce and the extension cord at the ready. If he comes back and starts again, I will dump the hot sauce into a bowl and then dunk the business end into the hot sauce and fling it at him. My hope is that even if I don't hit him square in the head as I did last night, enough hot sauce will get flung in his general direction that some is bound to splash onto him. That alone should get his attention and make him run.

Then tomorrow, I can ask Rodney if he would mind coming to the house and holding the ladder. It's supposed to rain on Sunday and Monday so this will be gone then anyway.

I need to see, up close, if he pulled anything up. From the top of the ladder, or as far up as I got, it didn't look like he did. I am pretty sure I don't have roofing nails in the basement, but I need to go to the hardware store anyway on Saturday.

My real hope is that, because I put up a fight, he will go somewhere else where there isn't someone who fights back. Oh the joys of home ownership.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


I hope this works.

I'm all settled in bed last night drifting off to sleep. I am pulled back awake by the sound of scratching. It appears to be coming from my bedroom.

I'm thinking the cats have become acclimated enough to use the box springs as a scratching pad. So, in turn, I called out their names. When the scratching didn't stop, I flipped on the light. No cats in my bedroom. The noise was coming from the attic.

My heart sank. I got a broom and banged on the ceiling in my closet. The scratching stopped but resumed after about 10 seconds. A second banging did nothing.

I tossed on a jacket, shorts and shoes and stepped outside. There, on the south end of the house was a juvenile raccoon trying to dig up the shingles surrounding the south air vent. After trying to hit him with rocks from the drive, I found a rubber ball and then a croquet ball. He fled but didn't leave the roof. In fact, for the croquet ball, he simply curled up on the north side of the house and pretended to sleep.

In the dark, I could not get the hose attached to the exterior spigot. I'm not sure a stream of water would deter him, actually. I hit on the idea of getting a 25 foot extension cord to toss over the roof. I would gather it up and then hurl a free end onto the roof in the direction of the raccoon.

He was defying my attempts to shake him loose by going to the other side of the roof where I couldn't see him and then, when I tossed the cord over from the east side of the house, he would amble over to the west and continue trying to dig a hole. I was getting so frustrated.

I don't know if I was supremely tired or angry or what but I hurled the cord onto the roof and the end with the prongs hit him squarely on the forehead. He looked at me quite startled and left the roof. It does not appear he came back after I collapsed.

This is not good. I can't do this every night. On the Internet, I came across a spray repellent. Mix one bottle of hot sauce with one teaspoon of dish detergent and mix with one gallon of water. spray the affected area. Raccoons don't like the smell of hot sauce. You can use a container of cayenne pepper, too. So, tonight, I need to run over to the grocery and get hot sauce or cayenne pepper, mix this up and then spray both of my vents. As we are not to get rain until Sunday, this could linger enough that he would find it several days running.

I hope this works. I would like uninterrupted sleep. Pilcher sat in a chair in the office and watched me climb onto the deck rails to toss the electrical cord. Meeha feld for the safety and comfort of the closet. After I came in, they accepted ear scratches and Meeha came to sleep with me.

I can feel the tired setting in now. It's nearly time to leave and I can go early. I don't have to win this war. I just have to win this battle. Go bother someone else.

Beverage: Water


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Duct tape doesn't work?

Rodney and I were on our way into the city when there was a beep from my car. It's the noise that says one of the gauges need attending. It was, unfortunately, the thermostat.

Last year, I had to replace the water pump. That died and the engine overheated. I"ll never forget stopping at a light on my way to Sycamore quarry and the steam just rolling out from under the hood. I'm no mechanic, but even I know that's not a good thing.

This time, we were in stop and go traffic on the Eisenhower Expressway. The gauge went into the red, went down, went back up and then went all the way up. Fortunately, we were near an exit. Rodney looked and there was no antifreeze in the bottle. Quickly dashing to this Target, I got a bottle and we overfilled the container.

My car sounded better, I think, but that could just be the 'placebo' effect, that because you've done something, you expect results. We got to the job site and Rodney had another look. All the antifreeze we had poured into the bottle was gone.

When we left, we looked under the car and there was no puddle. I don't know how long this has been going on, but there's never been a puddle under my car after a day of driving. I looked this morning before going to work. I drove into the city again today and the gauge didn't move. It was fine. Traffic wasn't as bad as yesterday, but it was still stop and go. If there was a problem, wouldn't it show up again?

I found some antifreeze in the basement last night when I was doing laundry. I have no idea of its age. The container was covered in dust. Does it go bad? I cannot pay for repairs for this car. I realize that the online payment of a couple of bills did not go through at the end of last month so tonight I have to redo that. It makes me angry because I did last Sunday. I feel as if my bank will make their system so convoluted that you're sure to default or incur overage or late fees because they want to make scads of money off you. So the prospect of having a major repair such as the water pump again or the radiator fills me with dread.

Rodney said we'd look at it tomorrow and see if it's a minor thing. Minor, I can handle. Anything else is a kick in the shins.

Beverage: Water


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Found you!

Now tell me, isn't that a cute face?
This is her hiding place, on top of a pillow in the closet where my sweaters hang. I come home, poke my head in and say, "Hi, I'm home." Meeha will come out of the closet in about a half hour. Meanwhile, Pilcher is out and wanting ear scratches. Meeha will stay out now the rest of the night and into morning until I get ready for work, then she goes back into the closet. Someone does come out during the day because, as Betsy and Rascal used to do, the rugs have been "attacked" and wadded into a ball. You know that is the main purpose of floor rugs, right? They exist to be attacked by cats.

Beverage: Robert the Bruce Scottish Style Ale


Not Fair.

Patrick Swayze died last night. It's not fair. Cancer is a ruthless villian, but why couldn't it go after someone, and you can insert your own name here, who qualifies as a dreg of society and should be gone before they hurt anyone else. But life isn't fair, reasonable or egalitarian. It's arbitrary and quite painful at times. For Swayze's loved ones, this is one of those painful times.

I never saw "Ghost". I can't remember if I saw "Dirty Dancing". After that came out, I saw a dancing video he made with his wife. His mom was a professional dancer and you could tell she had him moving his feet from a young age. At the time, my ex and I were taking dancing lessons. I often wished my ex had half of Swayze's innate talent. I loved the lessons, they were great fun, good exercise and something we could do together.

I think the best performance Swayze gave was as Vida Boehm in "To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar". I think I wandered into that movie sometime after Swayze had transformed himself because I don't remember realizing it was him at first. Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo looked okay, but other than the slightly gnarled hands and his adam's apple, Swayze had the female look.

And that was so unfair. He looked better as a woman than I did. Now RuPaul has made a career out of being female but Swayze had not. He did the whole "he-man" thing. He was billed as a sex symbol so to become very thoroughly, this woman was more than a little incredible.

At the time, "To Wong Fu" received very little press. Yes, there are plot mechanics that are contrived and it's not an Oscar-calibur film. But, at a time when we mourn his passing, I think it shows just how versatile Patrick Swayze was.

May he rest in peace.

Beverage: English Breakfast tea


Monday, September 14, 2009

What to do?

I'm not sure how to feel. I received an email from someone in the WOW guild I run saying they were going to take a sabbatical from the game. The last time they did it, they dropped out of the guild we were in together and disappeared for 6 months. Six months is a long time in an evolving game like this.

I'm confused and confubbled because I have relied on this person for advice. They have been a rock when I've needed some counsel. They don't play much but when they do, they are able to size up a situation and provide an insightful comment. I've come to rely on those comments, rely on the intuition, rely on them simply being "there" if I needed them.

But it's a game and, as we all know, it has a way of seeping into your pores and possessing you. I have also cut back on my play time, although people wouldn't necessarily notice it. I have other things I want to do and it's become easier to step back and do those than to play the game. My daughter is taking a sabbatical as is her boyfriend while he goes back to school to finish his degree. Daniel just came back from 6 weeks off and I have Rob and Dan and Dea and Josh on self-imposed hiatus. Stepping away gives your head time to clear, reminds you of what's important and makes the game time fresh.

Yet, I don't know what I'll do without this wisdom readily available. Will we communicate about life via email? We exchanged some irritating words roughly 10 days ago and I can't help but think that's somehow to "blame" for the pulling away. We are speaking to each other as friends do but the underlying issue is still there. I can't help wondering, worrying, that my taking a stand on something caused this person, whom I consider a friend, to decide it's not worth it anymore. I guess one would say they weren't much of a friend if they walk away and never talk to me again.

I'm shocked and more than a little devastated by this revelation. I don't know how to address the email, either and a response is needed.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Sunday, September 13, 2009


The obligatory cute cat photo. In case you can't tell, she's sleeping with her forehead on the table and her left front paw over her face. I think it's safe to say she feels comfortable here now. I'm working on the cute cat photo of Meeha. She sleeps with me now and, today, has been out all day and not in the closet. They aren't real sure about playing with me. I gave them catnip yesterday and that was amusing. I must get scratching pads.

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Thursday, September 10, 2009

More change in the pocket

We were finally given our bonus and merit pay raise information today.

So, after the gov'mint at state and federal level take their share, my bonus should be enough to get pizza for supper at the end of the month when I'll get the bonus.

The merit pay increase was much more than I was expecting. But then, I don't really leave the office hardly at all now. I run the office sending everyone else out into the street. (Just ask Jon.) As we are reimbursed for the use of our cars, everyone else can get a nice expense check every week while I sit in my SW corner office and wonder if it's really as nice out as it looks. I suspect this is a way of compensating me for not being sent thither and yon.

No complaints here. I can look at paying cash for Christmas presents now.

Beverage: Blackberry tea


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

That's Ridiculous!

In perusing one of my favorite web sites, I discovered some idiot has declared September 9th as "Day Without Cats Day". Why is it considered humorous or acceptable to write books entitled "101 Uses for a Dead Cat" or to make fun of killing cats or how nice it would be if the world didn't have cats? Yet, if I declared a "Day Without Dogs Day" or made fun of killing dogs, I should be boiled in my own pudding?

Forthwith, I am presenting another photo of Faux taken back in May. (No, I'm not asleep. I was looking downish at him.) The look on his face...

Beverage: Water


I could use some Osage oranges.

While fall is my favorite season, one part I supremely dislike is the migration indoors of any and all spiders.

Tonight, I decided to do laundry. I'm not out of anything but why wait until I desperately dry jeans with a hairdryer after washing them at 6 a.m.

I have the basement door closed as I don't want Pilcher or Meeha down there yet. When they consistently come when called, then the door gets opened and we gradually move the litter boxes to the basement. (I apologize in advance for, upon your visit in early November, finding three litter boxes in my living room as I slowly move them downstairs.)

This means that the basement is dark. The light by the washing machine has never consistently worked. Some days it comes on. Most of the time, it does not. In order to not fall down the stairs, I leave one of the incandescent lights burning all the time. Yes, that's inefficient and, at some point, I'm going to open the door to a dark basement because the light's burned out. But this is something I'm willing to suffer through for an eventual greater good.

You know I don't own a dryer so my laundry is hung on lines to dry. I had done a load of whites last Friday, when I knew I could leave the door open because they were scared of me and wouldn't come out of their hiding places for all the kitty treats in Target. I had not been back down there to retrieve the dry clothing. First thing to do is take down enough that I can get to the darks on the floor. It was at this point that I noticed the very, very fine spider webs between the lines.

I looked more closely at the light bulb and saw it was festooned with webs as very, very tiny spiders, probably newly hatched from some inconspicuous egg sac, rappelled and climbed up their very first webs. Normally, I leave spiders alone. They do a great job of eating the insects we don't like. If possible, I'll shoo them onto a piece of paper or something else and cart them outside. But these, the size of a pencil point, were in the way. With a shrug, I flattened a half dozen between my hands and wiped them off on my jeans.

I started to put clean laundry in the basket that sat on the floor and noticed at least a dozen spiders of differing types and sizes had made webs around the inside of the basket. I sighed, dropped the clean clothes, picked up the basket, turned it over and banged it on the ground. Spiders fled in all directions. The ones that made the mistake of coming towards me were flattened with a quick step. I still wound up using my slipper to harass spiders out of the basket and onto the floor. And the ones who had set up housekeeping under the lip of the basket dropped quickly to the floor when the basket was moved. It took probably a good 10-15 minutes to make sure there were no spiders in the basket before I deposited the clean clothes to bring upstairs.

I could use some Osage oranges. A green, pleasant smelling fruit discovered by a Scotsman in the south central US, anecdotal stories are that if you place one or two of these softball-size fruits in the lowest level of your house, in my case, the basement, it will repel spiders, cockroaches, fleas and other arthropods. Many, many years ago, I did try it but I don't remember if their smell worked wonders or if it was an old wives' tale. I've never seen roaches in the house and fleas won't be a problem unless the ladies overcome their fear of the outdoors. I would be willing to conduct trials using the oranges for the simple reason that I'd rather not walk into a web of a dozen spiders no matter how small.

I will keep my eye out for them. They ripen around this time and there are a few trees on the way to work. I'm a timid sort so the prospect of knocking on the door of someone I don't know and inquiring if I can remove the detritus of the tree in their front yard makes me a bit queasy. But, the first time I see one of the quarter-size garden spiders scuttle across the bathroom floor, you can be sure, I'll be thinking, "Out! Out! Damn spider!"

Beverage: Water


Best days for going topless.

Pam's car was hit over the weekend. It was parked in front of the house and a neighbor, backing out, didn't see it. As her hubby works for Sears in Hoffman Estates and she works for Wheaton College, he needs a car more than she does to get to work. But she does need to get to work. Time to ask a favor.

"Oh sure, I'll come get you at lunch," was my response. How can I say, "No" when we are rather flexible about hours? Just get your work done and you get paid for 40 hours. And besides, Pam has fed my cats for at least 9 years. For that reason alone, I can take an hour at lunch to go get her and take her home for her dog.

Kacey has arthritis and needs medication. They have just started a new drug which has to be given 4 times a day which means Pam needs to go home at lunch. We swung by Wendy's for a quick lunch for ourselves and then to Pam's for Kacey.

The top is down. It has been down for over a week although there is a rumor of rain this afternoon and tomorrow. The weather has been beautiful. It was easy to pick up the girls last Thursday because I could put them into the back of the Jeep and buckle in the carriers without having to climb in. Ever been in the back seat of a Jeep Wrangler? A mailbox has more room.

It's been in the 70's during the day with upper 50's to low 60's at night. Other than needing a light shirt on some mornings, it's shirt-sleeves and blue sky and sunshine. I didn't go anywhere over the weekend because I was bonding so the Jeep sat topless, except for 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning when a rainstorm rolled through. I thought about just letting the inside get wet. It's a Jeep, after all, but when the rain seemed to intensify after 10 minutes, I decided I'd get out of bed and just put up the top, not latch it. Once it dried, the next day, I put it back down.

On these kinds of days, I have to leave the house a wee bit early as the dew settles all over the interior. I have to wipe down where I'm going to sit. The inside of the windshield gets dew covered as does the rear view mirror. There's always a dishtowel with me on these kinds of days.

Pam laughed when she climbed into the Jeep. She had sort of forgotten that it's up rather than over to get in. I'm the same height as the seat so it's just a slide over for me. I always joke that a topless ride will mess up your hair. On the way back to the office, I had to plop on my visor which then gives me that "ring" around my hair.

Yet, I wished that I didn't have to go back to the confines of the box, the office, the phone, the desk. Would that I could just drive. I have no idea where I'd end up but I would have driven around for a couple hours, just drove. Fall is coming. I can smell it in the air. It may be an old Jeep, but days like this are balm for my weary soul.

Beverage: Mr. Pibb


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yes, there are 2 of them.

It took until Saturday evening, but I finally found Meeha. After deciding I wasn't as bad as initially thought, Pilcher wandered about the house in small steps. She's still not fond of the kitchen and I do want them NOT eating the back room.

On Saturday night, at the usual WOW time, Pilcher decided to sort of hang around. In comes one of those moths attracted by light bulbs; we call them 'millers' where I grew up. Oooooh, this was something completely new and the "attack cat" came out. Of course, once she caught it and it died, she looked at me as if to say, "But...but...I want to play with it. Make it better again."

In the course of chasing this bug about the office, she approached the closet that's directly behind where I sit. I heard a hiss. Pilcher stopped, looked into the closet and hissed back. Aha! Hiding place revealed. I got up and, sure enough, there was Meeha peering back at me. After finishing my game play for the evening, I reached in, pulled her out and proceeded to cuddle with her on the bed, scratching chin and ears and base of the tail. That's all it took and although she and Pilcher hissed and growled at one another, Meeha settled down on the bed until I decided it was time for me to sleep. Then she fled back to the confines of the closet.

Sunday, I hauled her out again. She does cuddle and I took her all over the house. The living room is okay as is lying on the project I have spread out on a table in the living room. Well, it's officially cat approved. Both of them love to lie on it. I don't quite get the hissing and growling at each other since they were in the same household prior to living with me, but I know it will pass. I brought a chair into the office and set it next to me. My gaming is now officially supervised and, occasionally, I have C.O.L. For the un-catted, that's "cat on lap". As this is a substantial cat, it does require some jockeying of position so the cat is comfortable in the lap up against the computer desk.

Meeha came out for most of the evening hours yesterday. I was able to get a couple of photos. She loves lying on my bed and I believe she hung around after I went to bed. Pilcher came and curled up on the pillow but didn't last very long. I think new sights and sound still attract them and they are cats. Their active time is when I want to sleep. I know today, they were out because there were footprints on the pillows and food was eaten.

I came home tonight and dragged Meeha out of her hiding place taking her with me so I could get a nap. I'm not sleeping well, which is a different blog post so I took an hour's nap. You can hear this cat purring from 5 feet away. She has a loud meow and a very loud purr.

Pilcher, on the other hand, has a soft purr and this very small meow. It's so much like Carole's Faux, it can't be mere coincidence. It's almost a squeak.

Pilcher has found a hiding place where I can't get her, back in the NE corner of the office. She has to either squeeze under the cedar chest to get there or go over the top of the table, across the chest and down. It's perfectly Pilcher-sized and I have to wait for her to decide to come out.

So, we have made very good progress in getting to know each other. Meeha is currently asleep on my bed. Pilcher is snacking in the back room. All seems much better with the world.

Beverage: China Black


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ear Scratches vs Still Scared

So today some monumental steps were taken.

Here is your first photo of Pilcher. I was told she was the most sociable of the two. To the right in the photo, are tee shirts. That side of the closet is divided in half with tees hanging on the bottom and long sleeved shirts hanging on the top. On Thursday, this is where she went. I thought it was both of them, but I was wrong. I still do not know where Meeha is. Jon and Perry have tried to comfort me by reminding me that if a cat does not want to be found, you can't find her. Yeah...but...

Last night, I heard activity in the litter box. I heard some quick crunching of food. This morning, the tee shirts I had asked Val to leave in the carriers were pulled out and it seemed as if someone slept on them. I'm going to say that was Meeha and take comfort in those little things. She's not outside or in the basement. She's just somewhere and it's best I let her come to me.

Pilcher had made her presence known by peeing on my bed. She might have been trying to get to the litter box last night and I interrupted her by moving. Oh well, I was going to strip the bed anyway. I was concerned that I hadn't seen Meeha so I had removed 80% of the tee shirts in the closet last night, thereby removing quite a bit of Pilcher's hiding screen.

This morning, after my breakfast and finishing reading all the newspapers in a pile on the living room floor (Dominick Dunne died. I didn't know that.), I went into the bedroom to get clothes to wear after a shower. A black face peered around the corner of the closet. I got hissed at, followed by a growl. But, peering at me is a start.

I walked around the end of the bed and sat down on the floor. Talking in very quiet tones, I called her name and held out my hand, making scratching motions with my fingers. You could see she was thinking about it. She came out from inside the closet. She hissed and growled. She stood there looking at me and then the need for ear scratching took over and she came right up to me. I've had my hand batted twice but she's not had her claws out.

She has been into the office and into the living room. She seems scared of the kitchen right now, so I've not taken her into that room. All in good time. She inspected some of the living room, finding the box of cat toys with the crackle rat that still smells a bit of catnip. She liked that but the neighbor arriving home from a jaunt on his motorcycle spooked her and she ran into the bedroom. She's not interested right now in leaving the closet.

This is good. I brushed her today while we were getting to know one another. She seemed secure enough to lie down on the bed and give herself a small bath. She climbed onto me to look into the hall, but just seems wary of the world beyond the bedroom. We spent some time cuddling on the bed today so perhaps I will have someone sleeping with me tonight. She was purring while lying next to me.

Small steps although today could be considered a huge one. Here's a better photo of Pilcher.

She seemed thrilled to be able to lie in a window and feel the breeze on her face. Well, that is why I have a bookcase there, so a cat can be comfortable.

Beverage: Assam


Friday, September 4, 2009

If I can't see you, you don't exist.

Before going to bed last night, I checked on the new family. Couldn't find them. Now the basement is closed off so there's no chance, I think, of them getting down there. And not wanting to stalk them, I thought I could just go to bed without trying too hard to find them.

But, worry got the best of me. I looked in the few crannies in Carole's old room. Nothing. I hadn't heard anyone leave that room, but these are cats and we all know cats walk so quietly they can pass by and not be heard. I wandered about, looking under things and peering into the nooks. I took a step into the closet in my bedroom and heard a hiss.

Okay, they are behind the tee shirts or at least the vocal one is. I assume, since I can't find the other that they are both there.

This morning, I did my usual routine. The litter box hasn't been used and I don't think any food has been eaten. I'm hopeful they will come out this morning and snoop around. I know it's frightening. New smells, lots of new smells. I'm sure my house is quieter than their apartment since I don't watch TV. No carpeting on the floor.

It's hard for me to be patient. I have cats in my house. I want to hold and cuddle and scratch and have someone in my lap. But I do remember that it took Rascal a good 6 years to come to me for ear scratches, 8 years before I could pick her up without snarling. I just have to trust that soft words and a safe place will win over "What are all these smells?"

Beverage: China Black


Thursday, September 3, 2009


My new family members are here and hiding.

Pilcher is solid black with yellow eyes, long hair, just beautiful. I'm going to trip over this cat at night, for sure.

Meeha is tortoise shell with splotches that look, in certain light, almost sage green, just beautiful.

They are in Carole's old room where there are litter boxes, the cat carriers with the doors open and ample places to hide. I put water and food and treats there for them. Their toys are in the hall where I can see to avoid stepping on them.

I looked in on them before sitting down to blog and Pilcher hissed at me. They now have twice as much space as they are used to, no carpet and it's much quieter since I don't watch TV. I keep looking into the hall in the advent that Pilcher, who is the braver of the two, comes out of that room to explore.

Pilcher is named for Bob, the Builder's cat. As Carole was not that age to be interested in that PBS program, this is news to me. Meeha is a permutation of "amiga", which is of Spanish origin, meaning "friend".

I work a half-day tomorrow and am then home all weekend. I'll take bets on when one of them comes out of the room to see me or at least to see.

I promised photos. I was optimistic. Pilcher is in a back corner behind some books and Meeha is behind the large map of Scotland that I take to Highland games. I should have known better. Eventually, there will be photos just as I expect, at some point, there will be ear scratches. But knowing they are here makes my house not feel so empty. That's a good thing.

Beverage: flat 7UP


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

As ready as I'll ever be.

I took the box of Lactated Ringers to Animal Medical today. I had purchased the case to give Betsy fluids. I wound up getting only most of one 1000 cc bag into her. When we first started with fluids back in January, I was using a case of donated Ringers. Now my case can help someone else who is in need but lacks the funds for everything.

I took my cat carrier, too, and gave it to Val. She will put a tee shirt in the bottom of hers and mine. That way the new arrivals have a familiar scent instead of coming into a world of strange smells.

I washed one more litter box. It's currently outside on the deck, drying.

I have done all I can.

Tomorrow, after work, I will pick up my new family. Val gave me a bag of the treats she gives them, one when she gets home from work and one before bed. I have to work Friday morning. That will give them a chance to wander about the upstairs, sniffing and getting used to their new home. There will be no basement access for at least a month. There are enough places to hide upstairs. I don't need them disappearing into the basement.

Am I ready? As ready as I will ever be.

Beverage: (Ice cream is done.) Blackberry tea


Gray watch - month 3

I am a wee bit late. There was some stress in my life and I wanted to just curl up in a ball and forget the world.

But here's August's photo taken today after coming home. The top is down as the weather has been beautiful.

That would be gray hair there. Pam said on Monday that it looked liked I'd spent $$$ to have my hair done with highlights. I'm pretty shaggy actually. It gets cut in a couple of weeks.

Beverage: Nothing (eating the last of my chocolate chip ice cream)