Thwarted!!!!!

blockade!

It was only a matter of time. Sooner or later there would be something happening in the renovation which would be deemed not-cat-safe. Sheetrock is NOT cat-friendly. It makes a complete and total mess. The floors are covered in white dust. There is STUFF everywhere: debris, workmen’s tools, supplies, unknown stuff. BC got out during dinner (the door being opened a zillion times to the dining room and us being less than speedy) and headed upstairs. She did NOT want to come back down. She was Exploring. When I went to pick her up she ran into our bedroom. I locked her in. After a bit she was willing to be freed and come into the dining room for Greenies. As much as I love her being with us, I did NOT want her wandering about the mess, nor did I want white dust-covered paws jumping into our bed. Drastic measures were needed. I took one of the large boxes in the front hall (the one with the pedestal for the sink) and put it across the bottom of the plastic zip door. For good measure I placed another box on top, although I was fairly certain one box would suffice. I was correct. BC did try valiantly to get out that night, as evidenced by the shredded plastic in the morning. But as determined as she is, she is still a little too small to push that box out of the way. We’ll open it up again soon, little kitty, I promise.

defeat

Black Cat Houdini

Or: Where there’s a will there’s a way

Felis Triumphans

Black Cat wants to be with us. Mostly with me, but also with my husband. Pre-renovation she would follow me about the house. If I was doing something that appealed to her (as in creating a lap, working somewhere she could have a view of the world, etc) she would stay with me. If I was doing something boring like ironing in the basement she’d see what I was doing and then leave for more comfortable/interesting locations. During the renovation she’s had great fun walking between my husband’s keyboard and my keyboard – she can annoy both of us without too much effort. *grin*

How it began – ah, the innocence

During the work day all is copacetic. Her preferred spot is the cat tree next to my “desk” but sometimes she neeeeeds to be on the table with her tush on the edge of my keyboard. Hey – if that’s what she needs, that’s what she needs. My friend Honour understands this and understands who sets the priorities in a household. 🙂 Lately BC has taken to walking across my keyboard. We have been having many discussions about this habit.

Let’s see you push THAT door open

It’s been 2.5 months since the renovation and the Second Great Incarceration began. Apparantly BC has lost patience with being incarcerated. Oh sure, it’s fine during the day when there is almost always one of us incarcerated as well. But she has THINGS to do at night, especially walking on us while we are sleeping and meowing loudly at 2:00 am. Being incarcerated impinges on the things she needs to do.

Insufficient # of shoes and brick placement

In our defense I need to remind everyone that WC and BC are incarcerated to PROTECT THEM. Upstairs the walls are opened, there are holes in the floor, splinters and dust. Yes I try to keep on top of all those things but still. Our friends have a horror story of how THEIR kitten managed to get up in the walls and get herself dry-walled there before anyone knew it. They had to tear down the wall to get her. We’d really prefer to avoid such a situation.

So to protect our fur babies we blocked the doorways, creating the Second Great Incarceration. It has been working well. Then about 2 weeks ago my husband informed me that I had forgotten to latch the door to the dining room and when he came down in the morning there was BC – on the stair landing, NOT incarcerated. Then he told me the same thing the next morning. Well, one night of forgetfulness I can believe but not TWO nights. I investigated. I discovered that if one tapped on the door with enough pressure (and it didn’t need much) the hook would pop out of the latch and the door would open. Such a BRILLIANT kitty!!! I switched the latch to a carabiner AND began putting the paper recyling bin in front of the door when I went to bed.

reinforced the netting

She got out again. We realized it when my husband got up in the middle of the night to “use the facilities” and I heard him call her name. He came back to bed and she followed. The next morning we went to check. Carabiner & bin in place. Plastic door, brick and shoes in place. Did she teleport??? We discussed this. I investigated and noticed that there was actually a lot of space above the bookcases in the living room, part of the plastic doorway setup. I thought maybe she jumped up there, walked behind the plastic and then jumped down to the hallway. I spent a good hour the other morning putting up screening, enforcing all the tape on all the existing screening and plastic. I was sure that would be the solution.

Reinforced door – notice addition of screening to block passag

That night we hadn’t even made it to sleep before BC was up in the bed with us. I confess that we both adore her and it was NOT a hardship to have her snuggling. She does NOT try to escape when there are workers here, nor if we are also incarcerated. Even so – this was a mystery that needed solving. There might come a time when we do NOT want to risk her wandering about and getting stuck/hurt. In the morning I said the only way she could have gotten out was by wriggling UNDER the plastic door in the front hall. There were shoes there, and a brick on one of the zippers, but she’d seen me go in and out that door. When I checked I saw that yes, a cat COULD fit underneath, but only if it didn’t mind wriggling and pushing through a tight space. I didn’t think cats really did that kind of thing.

I am Cat. I am Strong. I am Determined.

Last night I determined to “win” this game. I moved the brick, I put my husband’s shoes, my sneakers, my sandals all onto the plastic flap on the floor. You’d have to be one very very determined kitty to push ALL of that out of the way to get out. BC is a very very determined kitty. When *I* got up last night to use the facilities, eyes closed, still half asleep, a little furry head brushed my hand. Yep, there were 3 of us in the bed again last night. Where there’s a will, there’s a Black Cat.

Napping after a hard night’s work moving shoes and bricks.

That’s a BIG Cat!

At least it wasn’t driving

I was running an errand the other day, driving to the store. I was stopped at a light and happened to glance in my rear-view mirror. OH. EM. GEE. That cat is HUGE!!!!!! I spent way too much time staring in the mirror to realize that I should have been grabbing my phone and getting a photo of it. When the light turned green I stayed in the lane and hoped the car & cat would stay behind me. There was a woman driving the car, but I was fixated on the cat. 🙂 We stopped at another red light and I was a little more prepared this time. Unfortunately I was in the convertible and it is difficult to see the camera view easily in the bright sun AND when I was hoping not to be obviously taking pictures of my rear view mirror (not sure why I thought I needed to be discreet). I finally managed this one photo before we parted ways. I hope you can see the cat. Then – what do I see in my media feed this morning? The advertisement for said cat!!! I might have to indulge.

She Is Amazing

This is a cat who refuses to surrender to time and ill health. My husband likes to play videos on the tv for BC to watch. He had one going the other day and WC came CHARGING in from the other room to spring up on the little cat stand and stare at the hedgehog. Apparently hedgehogs are EXTREMELY interesting. *shaking my head* WC insists on getting stronger and more active every day. She’ll be 20 in August. Kidney and thyroid issues. WC: “Don’t bother me with trivia.”

Days 1 & 2 – An Experience

I was trying to sleep

Well, I made it through the first full day of renovation. I say “I” because my husband has the good fortune to go off to an office every day, leaving me working from home and managing my part of this renovation project.

The start of the obstacle course

The first thing I learned is that there are still a lot of decisions I haven’t made. James asked me about saving the curtains/shades and I didn’t think that far ahead. I told him to save the ones from the 2 bedrooms and toss everything from the little room. Even if I end up not keeping the current shades/curtains, at least I’ll have them while I decide. Given inflation and the way the stock market is tanking, I may need to reuse whatever I can rather than buy all new fun items.

When the house is not rocking with demolition, the window seat is a good place to be

The next major revelation had to do with the hooks on the dining room door. The cats and I were nestled on their side of the doors when my husband came home. If I’m on the dining room side of the door, the hook on that side is latched. That means that someone on the kitchen side of the door cannot get in. 🙂 We are now rethinking how to latch that door so when TWO people are in the house, the door works either way. When he locked ME out later that evening *I* went through the zip door in the front hall. Not especially convenient if you are carrying something, but it worked.

I don’t see us making the cover of Better Homes & Gardens with this setup

I’m wondering how many days/weeks/months it will take before my auto pilot stops trying to go through the front hall into the living room. I am working at my “desk” and someone calls me and I start to head to the front hall via the living room, and then realize I need to back-track around the dining room table, unhook the door, hook the door and go through the kitchen to the front door. 🙂 Can I count all those extra steps as EXERCISE????

At least the FLOOR looks nice (if you ignore the litter box setup)

I was too hyper to sleep last night. My husband went up to bed and I stayed with the cats. I could tell sleep was not going to come easy so I made up the recliner in the sunroom to sleep there. The positive side of that is that I do not feel compelled to shut all the downstairs windows if I’m sleeping down there. When I thought about it, I wondered why I feel that me sleeping downstairs would be any deterrent to someone trying to break in. It’s not as if the would-be burglar can SEE me sleeping upstairs or downstairs. I’m so hard of hearing these days, especially with window fans going in every window, I probably wouldn’t even HEAR someone coming in. And what would I do if I did???

No plans for any indoor dining in the near future. Maybe by Thanksgiving???? So my work office is next to the window, my husband’s work and gaming computers took over the (rotated) dining room table, and my “personal office” is tucked into that far (dark) corner

What I did hear at 2:00 am was my neighbors’ dogs barking. Yes, the next-door dogs. I know their barks well. Every Saturday morning my neighbors evacuate their house so they won’t be there when the cleaning service arrives. Every Saturday morning the 2 dogs begin barking non-stop until the cleaning service arrives, and then again until the owners return home to shush them. Please tell me why the dogs were either (1) outside at 2 am barking or (2) inside with open windows barking and no one in the house to shut them up. Yes, I AM a little cranky this morning – I didn’t sleep very well. Why do you ask?

When the bed is moved after nearly 30 years

We are here at Day 2 – demolition day. James said the truck would probably be here around 8am, he’d be here by 8:30. I had a text from Don at 6:11 this morning saying they’d be there at 8am to start. No problem. I was up by 6:20, fed the cats, cleaned the litter box, dressed and on my morning 2.8 mile walk. Showered & dressed at 7:50. James arrived around 8:15. No truck. Ooooh, around 9:30 James came in a bit shame-faced saying that the truck was a little delayed. Apparently they had a full truck at EOD yesterday and had to go empty it before they could come here. *grin* Back in the days of the kitchen renovation I’d probably have found this all very annoying. But I’m an older and wiser woman now, with a lot less energy to get all het up about what time the demo starts.

Demolition in action!

I was doing some work when I realized I heard truck noises and men calling. I went out to see the action. They were all a little hyper about having backed the truck down my narrow driveway. They need to park it under the 2nd floor hall window so they can toss things out the window into the truck. The willow bush is a bit cramped but I’m sure it will recover. This is not its first rodeo with trucks down the driveway. The garage has gained more STUFF. I asked James to set up one of my folding tables so I can take boxes from the front hall and store them on the table in the garage. The sink is way too heavy to move, but if I can get the lighter boxes out that would be pleasing. 🙂

Does this ladder make me look fat?

Listening to the scraping, crashing, banging, thunking happening above my head. The whole house is shaking. BC is under the couch (I think, I can’t actually see her anywhere ) and WC was sleeping happily on the couch in the sun room while they tossed the easily-tossed items. Now even WC is awake as the whole house shakes to the demolition. 🙂 It’s really happening! *cringes at a particularly LOUD bang*

The Dream (although it doesn’t show replacing the electrical/plumbing/floor. 🙂 )

The Great Incarceration II

The calm before the storm. Which will last 3-4 months. If I’m lucky. Otherwise maybe by Thanksgiving.

We are doing it again – major renovation in the house. This means – drum roll please – locking up/protecting the cats. If you recall, 4 years ago we ripped out the entire kitchen and redid that and our breakfast room. We confined the 3 cats to the upstairs. We installed a temporary door in the upstairs hall, and gave them the run of the 2nd floor. [By the way – we fell in love with our temporary door. It’s still there. Don and I discussed it this morning and he’s going to make it look much nicer. The new people (that’s what I call the people who will buy the house once we finally decide it’s time to sell) can then remove it.] This time renovation preparation is not so simple. We are re-doing the entire 2nd floor. The workers will need access to the front hall to go in & out, and access to the basement for the electrical panels and the plumbing. So how to confine the cats?

How we used to be able to move in and out of our living room into the front hall.

There are only 2 cats now – BC and WC. WC as I’ve noted is very old (20 in August) and sick and feeble and deaf. Her voice and will to live are EXTREMELY strong but physically she is delicate. Unfortunately she has difficulty with “solid output” (hey, I’m trying to be delicate about this) and does not always accomplish the process completely. This means our life has become furniture covered in plastic, with easily washable towels on top. Sigh. BC, like many pets during the pandemic, has become very comfortable being wherever I am all day and night long. BC does NOT like visitors. BC is not going to be happy with the noise and the people and not being able to be with me every second of the day.

Not only do we no longer have easy access to the living room, but our front hall is full of boxed lights, sink and shower seat. I can’t see us zipping and unzipping that door much at all. There is webbing in the open areas over the bookcases.

Don and James showed up today to begin. WE began back in April. If you want to redo the entire 2nd floor, first everything on that floor has to be moved out/away. This necessitates either throwing out everything or finding a place to store things to be retained. We have been in this house for 38 years. We have been together for 45 years. I have the letters we wrote to each other. Sheesh, I have the letters my friends wrote me when we were all away at college. I am one of those people who saved every single receipt/bill/tax notice/piece of paper for all those years. Yes, I do indeed have not only my tax filing from 1981 but the supporting documentation as well. Thank goodness THOSE are stored in the basement under the sun room in what used to be a coal bin. It’s an old house – over 110 years old at this point. We are only the 4th owners. Other than painting the upstairs when we moved in and new windows 3 years ago I don’t believe we have done ANY upgrades on the 2nd floor.

Our main way to get from one side of the house to the other – the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room. Both sides. Notice also the obstacle course of cat food. This door is DEFINITELY temporary.

Stress does not even begin to describe how I’ve been feeling since April. I’m not really an obsessively clean person (which is MORE than obvious from these photos), but I do like a sense of order and space (which is NOT obvious from these photos). There is STUFF everywhere. Thank goodness for the Buy Nothing group on Facebook. I managed to get rid of some furniture, shelving and other STUFF during May.

Look- I never claimed to be neat. This is my son’s bedroom, my office. The cat tree came upstairs as part of the kitchen renovation and never returned to the breakfast room.

I still have 21 bags of books in the basement that need to be donated somewhere. We moved 5 bookcases down to the basement for the books we are keeping. There are books in the attic. There is STUFF in the attic. First we had to CLEAR the attic of STUFF and old papers (2006, 2007, 2008 vintage) so that we could move more STUFF up there. But we couldn’t just move things up there. No, because part of what we are doing is getting central air upstairs. That means not only will they be doing work in my garden but they apparently need my attic as well. We had to get bins and containers and sort and store and toss all the STUFF that was up there before we moved more STUFF up there. Stress. Stress. Stress. Stress. Shred. Shred. Shred.

Once upon a time this was our 3rd bedroom. Before my husband decided he need an office and a man cave. Do note the books. The half-empty bookcase is because he moved a bunch of books before I took this photo.

One night last week the stress and tension were so bad that I tackled the basement in an attempt to find the floor and be able to walk from the washing machine to the dryer without having to climb over bags and boxes. I now have paths through the stuff. It’s like practicing to become a full-fledged hoarder.

This is/was our little room (you may remember it as our cats’ toilette pour dames. As my husband said – we are really going to miss this storage space

So what ARE we going to do with all of this heretofore used space? That little room is going to become a full bath. It is in that room that I am letting my creativity loose and following my rule for the kitchen renovation: Everywhere you look should be pleasing to the eye. We are taking space from that room as well, and making 2 closets between the new bathroom and what was my son’s room. One closet will face to the hall for linens, the other will be the closet for my son’s room. We are taking his existing closet and adding it to ours. We are putting down new floors in all the rooms and the hallway. We are upgrading ALL the electric upstairs and the remains of the knob&tube wiring downstairs – everything up to code, no more knob&tube anywhere. We are replacing the huge cast iron radiators with radiators like the ones we did in the kitchen and front hall (still hot water heat, and the smaller radiators DO put out a lot of heat, but take up much less room). Upgrading the existing bathroom. Putting in either mini-split air conditioning upstairs or central air for the whole house, depending on how hard (expensive) it is to drop vents down to the first floor. Tankless hot water heaters. Cold water filters at the source (not under the kitchen sink where I end up weeping every time I have to change the filter). I think that covers it. I might have forgotten something. 🙂

Stuff stuff stuff. More stuff.

Anyway. It’s begun. James and Don are here today to take apart the 3 pieces of furniture we could not do on our own, and move them to the garage (which does flood in the front during heavy rain). They will be taking down the lights and the doors. And whatever else they are doing.

Those big frames are so we can lay out the new tile ourselves. 🙂 And now there are pieces of the office furniture & bed in there, and I realize we have no idea other than photos how to put them back together.

I keep saying to Don: “I think this is going to be worse than the kitchen.” He grins and says “oh yes”. It’s not really very reassuring. 🙂

Obligatory BC photo. No strangers in the house. within 4 feet of me. All is right with the world.

She Is Herself

MY chair, MY house – what are YOU looking at?

I have so many pictures, stories and thoughts that I have been sharing with you in my mind. 🙂 What, my telepathy is not working? Rats. I’ll try the old-fashioned way, but I make no promise that I’ll be able to get it all written.

Perspective – she got there all by herself – She conquers tall chairs!

FIRST, however – WC is VERY much herself. I think she has decided that she is going to live as long as I do, and make sure that my every day is all about her. Every hour. Every day. She was back to her demanding regal self within 24 hours. She is very fragile, no question about it. She no longer walks with any cat-grace. But she realized that life was happening on the 2nd floor and she came up to check it out. We locked her in the basement during Seder (carried her down gently, her yowling at the top of her lungs the whole way, plus pee’ing on the steps) and she came up the stairs several times to yowl at the door. Obviously difficult as walking is, she’s going to do it if she wants something. Not to mention getting up high on furniture to survey her kingdom and to nap in the sun. 🙂

Back to a preferred sun spot on the back of the couch for a nap

Guilt and Remorse

I am without doubt the worst cat parent that has ever been. I was trying to do what I thought was right. Instead I miscalculated and my poor little WC has paid the price. Look – her litter mate GC had the same ailments/illness as WC. GC got weak and died in a matter of weeks. GC went down to the basement, emerged only intermittently and then passed away.

WC began showing symptoms in August of 2021. Some days she was so weak, so fragile, so sad that we didn’t think she’d last a week. Some days she seemed so pathetic that we’d say “if she’s like this tomorrow still we’ll call the vet”. Then she’d perk up and eat and meow and march about giving us orders as if she’d never had a bad day in her life.

But there were a lot of those sad bad days. We kept expecting her to die any week now. We did NOT bring her to the vet because she HATES the vet. She always soiled herself on the way to the vet. Cried piteously the whole way. Cried there. So even as she got more frail, we said “well we know what’s wrong and why torture her by bringing her to the vet to hear what we already know – she’s old and sick”. We let her medicine and food plan lapse a few weeks ago because the vet wouldn’t renew them without a visit.

It’s now 9 months since we began thinking “any day now”. I ‘broke” and made an appointment for her. She smelled, she was completely matted. WC who used to have the silkiest smoothest fur in all of creation. She spent the day at the vets’. Being shaved, cleaned – inside and out. Poor thing – was given fluids inside and out. Yes, that means both ends. The vet called me 3 times during the day to give us progress reports. She warned us that WC was extremely bony and had lost lots of weight, despite the fact that we feed her on demand every 30 minutes. Perhaps cancer? But she’s over 19 years old, and we said no xrays, no heroic efforts.

They sent her home with a little jacket to keep her warm. They suggested fiber for her diet to help with ‘output’. Gave us a fatty supplement to help with her skin and health. Powder to sprinkle on her skin to help with the nicks on her from the shaving (she also had lots of old-lady growths on her skin that got nicked). Look at her. I feel so guilty, so awful, so wrong. If only I’d brought her in when I stopped being able to keep up with her matted fur?? The truth is that there is no change in her care going forward. She seemed so deflated yesterday. The bit of good news is that this morning she was back to meowing at me impatiently for her breakfast. AND she jumped up onto the couch where I do NOT have any protective cloths. I guess that might be her “in your face, mom!” moment. Sigh. My poor little girl. I feel so guilty that I seem to have done it all wrong and she had to pay the price. 😦

Her favorite spot – next to her daddy while he watches TV

Refuge in the Little Moments

Sigh. I made the mistake of looking at the news. Although it is beautiful sunshine outside, it is also COLD – in the 30sF. Too cold. My to-do list is uninspiring. At moments like these it’s good to turn to the little things in life that can take me away from this moment and into a moment that makes me smile.

White Cat. Sigh. She’s not often a moment that makes me smile, I must confess. She’s over 19.5 years old. Arthritic. Ill. Unclean. Dying of starvation (literally) – we need to feed her every hour. She’s noisy – very meowy because it hurts to move (arthritis), it hurts to defecate, it hurts to be hungry, it is annoying when HER person (my husband) is NOT on the couch where he belongs so she can snuggle. Meow meow meow. I’m probably not supposed to admit or say this, but it will be a huge relief in my life when she finally decides she’s ready to quit hers. And then I catch sight of her all curled up and sweet and innocent on the couch in the sun. All I can do is melt and smile and enjoy her little pink nose and her little pink paw pads and her little pink ears.

Spring flowers always lighten my mood and gladden my heart. These pictures are from one of my afternoon walks. I’m not sure what that purple ground cover is – the flowers look like azaleas but it’s WAY too early for azaleas. I think. The magnolia tree takes me back to my childhood. We had the good fortune to live on a street that had an island running down the middle. Down the middle of the island were magnolia trees, one after the other. They were glorious for about one week, before the petals began turning brown and dropping. My sister’s birthday is a week AFTER that peak magnolia time. My grandmother, who LOVED flowers and gardening, would always come out for my sister’s birthday, and always bemoaned the fact that she was too late for the magnolias. Tradition! That is a cherished loving memory of us all happy together, even if my grandmother missed the magnolias.

Of course it’s wonderful to see my OWN garden starting to wake up as well. I think that this year instead of tying back the forsythia, I’m going to cut it way back. We are having construction done (again) on the house, beginning in May. Yes – I will indeed be documenting it and inflicting the photos and my complaints on you. For some reason I am incapable of remembering what they call the a/c unit we are having installed upstairs (split? slim?). It will have some unit that sits outside the way central air units sit outside, but we will have vents in each of the rooms upstairs. The outside unit is going to be sitting in either the forsythia or the rhododendron, although I suppose maybe we could tuck it back on the far side of the rhododendron and lose the azalea and the andromeda bush back there. In any case, the forsythia needs some heavy pruning. It’s way too straggly. And it’s fun for me to think about gardening. 🙂

There is an old sexist saying: The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In our family we laughed at that saying because both my sister and I married men who are great cooks. We always joked that the way to OUR hearts was through our stomachs. 🙂 While my husband is indeed an excellent cook, there are a few meals that are “mine” to make, mostly in the comfort food category. I make the holiday briskets, the tuna casseroles, the ground beef casseroles and the corned beef & cabbage dinners. My husband so enjoyed his corned beef & cabbage dinner this past March 17, he insisted that I take a picture of it. 🙂 I agree – it was delicious. And now I’m hungry.

My cookbook insists on calling this “Boiled New England Dinner”