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Warning – For Cat Guardians Only

Ted, innocently snuggling in my lap as I write this blog

 

Because I don’t have ENOUGH to do, my little darlings have been creating more work for me. Or, perhaps they are trying to inspire me to write more blogs. If that’s the case, kudos to you cats. Kudos to you.

I had a “flurry” of guests and activity at my home in November and December and then Christmas decorations which require moving furniture (guests also require furniture moving) and then the partial removal of Christmas decorations (don’t judge me – I have garage reorganizing to do to get those bins back in place – it’s gonna happen. Before Valentine’s Day. I swear.).  I have no idea if this is the WHY because honestly my cats appeared relatively unaffected by the activity. Cecilia waddled from my office / guest room into the master bedroom. Duke continued his role as protector and “next to” cat. Ted was in 7th Heaven with all the extra attention. He’s SUCH an attention whore. He will be up in anyone and everyone’s business 24-7 because he LOVES it. If anyone would be stressed I think it would be Duke because there were more people to protect me from. He was tired, I could see a little shift. But he’s back to his kind-of normal self, although he’s walking around the house howling right now. I have no idea what he’s howling about. ???

Random thought: My favorite and oldest mug, the first mug I ever owned as a single girl out on my own says, “Ask me about the cute thing my cat did because I’ll tell you anyway.” I’m using that mug RIGHT NOW.

Anyway, during this time, after everyone had left, my little Trouble Bubble (Ted) decided not to use the litter box anymore. At all. Just quit. Fortunately he used the wee-wee pads I put under the boxes for protection and he wasn’t peeing all over the house (good job Ted). I deep cleaned the boxes. He didn’t care. I did extensive research. Extensive litter box monitoring at all hours. Determined it was “litter box aversion.” I’ve had the same two boxes and same litter for years. YEARS. By the way, I love the Internet because you think you’re a really bad mom and then you Google these things (I also love that “Google” is now like Vaseline or Kleenex) and see all of the people who have the same problems you do. It’s like web therapy.

Anyway, I pulled out a third box, a standard box with low sides. The two regular boxes are clear storage bins. They easily hop in, do their thing and hop out. Cecilia stands up as she pees so high sides are necessary (go ahead, I DARE you to Google this – it’s a thing). The storage boxes were a reasonable, cost effective option and they took to it right away. YEARS AGO. So anyway (I should re-name this blog “Anyway”) they ALL started using the ONE low sided box. Apparently all species will opt for convenience vs any level of effort.  Because they ALL used one box, Ted didn’t like that either, and I refused to set an alarm for 3:00am to clean out the litter box for the midnight eliminators. So, to my dismay, he still didn’t use the boxes (rather it was hit and miss depending on the timing of when the other two used the ONE box).

I researched other litter boxes. Found the NVR Miss. Looked interesting. Was going to buy it. Cost like $30. No. no no no no. Not happening. Do you know how many shoes I can buy at DSW for $30? I mean with my coupons and sales, etc (at least ONE pair, ok?)? So I broke out my rotary drill and cut a hole in the side of one of the storage bins for easy (aka lazy cat) access. Success. Now there are TWO boxes they will use and I’m on DAY 2 of no accidents. I’m giving it one more day, then will cut into box #3. Oh, the drama.

In other non-cat news: Today is my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Seventy years. I can’t equate that to anything. I think it’s amazing. They have good stories – even the “bad” stories are good. So many stories. I love them dearly.

Cheers, love, and kitty cat purrs

Erin

The Aftermath of Irma – Part Two – FOOD

Another realization post hurricane was that I could have been more creative with my food planning. I had apocalypse food. Like a jar of peaches. Stew-like soup that COULD be eaten cold if necessary. Pretzels. Peanut butter and bread. Instant mashed potatoes. Tuna. Pasta. We would have survived, but I didn’t really have MEALS. Since we never lost power it was a little deceptive because we felt like things should be normal.

Hubster: “So what’s for dinner?”

Me: ” A jar of peaches??”

I didn’t bother stocking up on meats because if we lost power (ie the refrigerator) I would have had a limited time to grill everything (even if it was stored in a cooler). I’m also not a camper. So that kind of eating / meal prep is no where on my radar. My husband was in the jungle in Vietnam (army, front lines, sleeping in the rain, strapping laces up his legs to keep the leaches off of him, war experience). So he thinks we need a sh*t load of dehydrated meal packs… not a bad idea but I don’t really want to live on them for weeks if I don’t have to. Once power was restored in some areas, but not others, there were two lines on the streets: 1) Gas; 2) McDonalds. I kid you not. Again, if faced with death I would eat it, but it’s not at the top of my preferred dining list (#FirstWorldProblems). So I turned to Google for future hurricane food planning.  Here’s a few interesting ideas I came across:

  • Hard boiled eggs. I actually did think of this, but hadn’t purchased extra eggs. Next time I will. Once boiled, with shells on, hard boiled eggs can stay at room temperature.
  • Bacon. Pre-cook it and it can also stay at room temperature.
  • Hard, cured meats and room temperature friendly cheeses (I found a whole blog on backpacking with cheese…).
  • Container of lemon juice – for a little added flavor
  • Roasted garlic – for added flavor (to rice, vinaigrette, those instant mashed potatoes!)
  • Jarred chutneys and jams with crackers (I love me some chutney!)
  • Jars of pickled vegetables: can be eaten on their own or added to rice or pasta.
  • Instant coffee and dried creamer. Sometimes you need coffee. Even bad coffee.
  • Fresh fruit. You will crave freshness, so have them on hand. Apples, oranges, banana.
  • Tortillas and jarred salsa.
  • Granola and granola bars.
  • Cereal (ie dried bits of cardboard – I really dislike cereal but would eat it if faced with starvation).
  • Beans (also blech – it’s a texture thing – but if I was staring death in the face, I’d eat beans).
  • Drinks. I had plenty of water, which is the most important, but we could have used some Gatorade or other beverages with a little flavor for a treat.

What did I miss on my list? Share your hurricane meal tricks!

The Aftermath of Irma – Part One – STUFF

My mantra for the storm was, “It will be scary, but it will be fine.” Unless you are living it, you can’t really imagine what it’s like (as is such with all life events). We weighed our options and made our decision to stay. We were not in an evacuation zone. We were not in a surge area (or at least a high surge zone). We have a very sturdy little house. All of our neighbors were staying (fine, maybe I WOULD jump off a bridge if they did too – HA!). In all seriousness, if people who have lived here for decades run, it kinda tells you something. In any event, it was probably the best first hurricane experience a person could have. The lead up to the storm was the worst (What IF is a terrible thing). The storm itself was not as frightening as I know it could have been. I’ve heard stories of wind that sounds like a train pummeling into your home, making the walls shake. That didn’t happen to usWe didn’t lose power. We weren’t on a boil alert. We lost one large tree branch. A branch. I know how lucky we are and I’m thankful.

Something happens when you are going room to room saving things. Assessing what you need. What you love. I realized I don’t care about a LOT of things in my house. This spurred a Post-Irma clean out of my house. I broke into some boxes. I emptied them. Things that bring me joy, I put out where I can see them. There were some keepsakes I wasn’t quite ready to part with – but those items fit into a hat box. The rest? Basura. Some items were Salvation Army worthy, but honestly, most was garbage. I unpacked a box with pictures. I hung them up. I shredded paper. A lot of paper. My sister was on shredder duty during her Irma stay. I just kept cleaning out files and she turned them into confetti. By the way, I have a four day rule. If you’re visiting me for more than four days, on day five (or possibly 4.5) you take care of yourself and might have to do chores. Just FYI.

What are the quirky things you keep that you LOVE?? I have things like yearbooks… and letters. I love reading old letters. They bring me such JOY!

Cat Food

Can I just tell you that I’ve spent hours (HOURS) researching cat food. It’s so painful. I try not to be persuaded by commercials, but I want to give my babies food that will keep them healthy and allow them to live a long life. My little angel Cecilia is 12 years old, her brother, the Trouble Bubble (Ted) is 11, and that leaves Baby Duke at about 8. So they are all up there in age, in the “geriatric” category for cats. Two are fat. One is skinny and slinky.

My vet told me to specifically NOT feed them a specific brand of cat food. In his opinion, he’s seen more cats come in with crystals when on this diet than any other. So, I tossed that food. Another brand was recommended and I use that for their dry food. I’ve added daily wet food to their diet A) because they LOVE their wet food; B) both of my vets have recommended it (yes, I have more than one vet); C) wet food adds hydration for cats who are notorious for not drinking enough water (like their mama).

But what is good and what is bad? The whole bi-product thing has me in a tizzy. If it was just bones and organs, then I’m okay with that. HOWEVER, many times it’s not just other parts of the animal. Sometimes it’s human food that’s gone bad, or other things that no animal would eat. Then there’s grains. Ugh. Grains. You read, “don’t feed your cats grains – just meat.” But then the pet foods developed for weight management by VETS have lots of grains (to make them feel fuller so they don’t eat as much and lose weight). So do I give them grains or not? What about Vegetables? Have you ever known a dog or cat to raid the neighbor’s vegetable garden for those tasty carrots? No. Peter does that. Peter Rabbit. Mr. McGregor hated that rabbit. Rabbits raid gardens.  Cats eat birds. Mice. Lizards (ugh, Ted has caught three lizards and a frog in the past month – all INSIDE my house).

Then there’s cost. I feel guilty when saying this because I love my cats. But some of these cat foods are just too darn expensive. I mean, I have a budget for my human food, so they have to have a budget too. I found a brand of cat food that seemed to fit the budget, has meat as it’s primary ingredient, AND is a pate. My cats don’t care for slices or chunks. They adore the GRAVY that comes with slices and chunks, but they lick all the gravy off and throw the meat around the room, then cry because they are hungry. Oh, the crying is usually at 4:00am. So I stick with pate.

OK, so I got a food. Price was fine. Ingredients were fine. Guess what? The cat’s don’t like it. You know what they like? Cat Chow (affectionately referred to in my house as Crack Chow) and Fancy Feast. The cheapest, grossest, McDonald’s equivalent of cat food you can find. They snarf that crap up. ARGH.

So I’m still on the hunt for the perfect cat food. I’m open to suggestions…

Cheers and Purrs,

Erin

 

Be an Organ Donor #DonateLife

#DonateLife

This month marks the one year anniversary of my husband’s liver transplant. It has been quite a year. As with many big life events I think there’s a part of me that says, “Wow, it’s been a year already,” and the other part says, “It’s ONLY been a year?” It’s been a very eventful year. Part of me wishes I had journaled the events a little more closely. Reflecting on the events and emotions has been good for me. It makes me realize I can get through a lot and come out on the other end a little wiser, a little softer, a little smarter, and at the same time a little less willing to put up with too much bull*@%t.

I’ve told the story of Jerry’s transplant in previous posts. The day we got the call is a day I will never forget. Post surgery he was in ICU for a few days – which had its own entertaining factors. Like the High School students who were visiting as part of a program to see if they wanted to be nurses. Jerry gave them the history of lunacy and its relation to the full moon (???). Some of the drugs made him a little nasty at times and I had to leave the room. He fought his breathing tube and it was heartbreaking to watch and difficult for me to keep my shit together to try to calm him. But I did.

We had great nurses on our floor – specially trained in transplants. I felt comfortable enough to go home and sleep at night, among piles of boxes from moving day, and rise semi-rested to be back at the hospital for doctors’ rounds. We had to practice walking again, doing laps around the hospital floor. During one of those laps we ran into a friend who worked at the local SCUBA shop – he was also an IT tech for the hospital. Big City, Small World.

The complications were the hardest. Not knowing what was wrong, but that something was wrong, tests upon tests, doctors from every department. The diagnosis was a worst-case scenario, something incredibly rare in organ transplants. There was a significant chance he wouldn’t survive. But he did. Why? As my sister said, “Because he’s Jerry.” As he recovered, doctors and surgeons came to see him during our post transplant visits and said things like, “You really gave me a scare, I lost sleep over you.” and “I called in every day from vacation to see how you were doing. I’m so glad to see you well.” Jerry turned to me and said, “I almost really died, didn’t I?” Yeah. Yeah, you did.

During his first follow up visits he wasn’t strong enough to walk from the car into the clinic, so I’d load him into the wheel chair, get him in the lobby, park the car, run back in, and we’d get to where we needed to go. He had to wear a mask so he wouldn’t contract any germs. As the weeks and months went by he got stronger and stronger. He graduated to a cane, and now he tells me to walk faster to keep up with him. His medication schedule is a little different than most transplant recipients due to the complications he experienced, but he’s a fighter. The strongest person I know. He’s my partner, my love, my friend, my everything.

For him to receive this gift, someone else had to die. We don’t know much about her, except that she was a young female. Her family chose to give the gift of life to others and donate her organs. For that we will be forever grateful. This year we celebrated her, as we will every year. We will remember her and we will honor her. I have always felt organ donation was a logical thing to do; now there is no question in my mind. I’m quite passionate about it. So I turn to all of my readers and ask you to think about it. Are you already a donor? Tell me about it. Have you donated a loved one’s organs? I’m deeply sorry for your loss and admire your strength to make that choice in a time of great pain and sorrow. Thank you.

You can register through your local DMV to be an organ donor or you can register through www.DonateLife.net. The website answers many questions and lists all of the ways you can save a life by donating your organs and tissue. Different organs can include: heart, lungs, kidney, liver, cornea, intestines, pancreas, and tissue. Tissue can even include bone, muscle, skin, nerves, and connective tissue.

The website also addresses questions and concerns about organ donation including some that I have been asked: #1) Your life always comes first; #2) People of all ages and medical history can donate; #3) An open casket funeral is possible even with organ, eye, and tissue donation; #3) Major religions support organ donation as a final act of generosity and compassion.

So Donate Life. Save a husband, a wife, a best friend, a son, a daughter. #DonateLife

With gratitude,

Erin