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”

I Think This Is A First

Flowering vinca 🙂

Look! Purple flowers!!! I’ve had vinca vines many times in the past. I like having them trailing down from hanging pots, swaying with the breezes. I like them in my big planters lined on the front walk, ‘connecting’ lawn to flower. In all that time, however, I don’t think I have ever had them flower. I’m guessing that is because I usually don’t buy them until sometime in May, which might be past their flowering time. This year life continues to be ‘different’. No – this has nothing to do with the pandemic. This is about the seasons.

Dusty miller, vinca, mint, jasmine, and other stuff. dianthus???

The past winter was very mild. Other than some crazy cold days in February, it wasn’t that cold. I have been amazed at how many of my plants wintered over on the porch. Even my rosemary, which doesn’t make it onto the porch, survived. And thrived. Usually it hangs in there until February, then one night it will throw up its metaphorical arms and die. Not this year. I have all sorts of things coming back, which is great! What’s not so great is that for many of them I have no idea what they are. 🙂 Ah, the perennial question: Are they weeds or are they flowers?

dianthus? thyme, sage (ignore the little sign – it’s sage, not savory), vinca

Some things are recognizable- jasmine, vinca, dusty miller. The herbs: lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, lemon balm. LOTS of mint. I think the dianthus is back. But there is a lot of green that I’m not recognizing.

Amazingly healthy rosemary, mint, and green stuff.

I cropped the photos so you don’t see the 2 huge bags of potting soil and the huge bag of top soil. I’ve been buying more planters and pots. 🙂 I bought seeds again this year, knowing even as I did so that last year’s didn’t work all that well. Actually, my cosmos and zinnias did – I sowed them directly into the beds. I’m going to try again with radishes. I was unable to resist picking up 2 Romaine plants. 🙂 I really need a “support group” but I want the one that tells me what I’m doing is natural and healthy, not the one that tries to help me quit.

Obligatory cat photo. 🙂 You can actually see her little face for a change because of the sun!

A Minor Disagreement

My meetings started at 8:30 am this morning – scheduled to go until 2pm. I managed to get my phone out from under BC, but at 8:30 we were still disputing to WHOM the keyboard belongs. Sigh. By 9am thank goodness she decided she didn’t want it anyway. WC, however, made sure that the 9am call knew that she was being starved. 🙂

More From My Office Mates

Making sure the laptop doesn’t go anywhere, and absorbing any heat discharge

BC wants it known that she works VERY hard. She does many important tasks while I work at my table. First she helps make sure that all my calls can start properly. She ensures this by walking between me and the camera so that everyone can see her sleek black side. The other day I was on a call, using my cell phone for audio, the laptop for video. My coworker began laughing and said “I have to stop you and ask – Is your cat sitting on your phone?” Sure enough, BC was indeed on the phone. Holly, still laughing said “All of a sudden your voice got very fuzzy and I heard a loud purring.” 🙂 I guess BC likes Holly. It’s not all fun and games and office meetings. Sometimes BC helps take care of household chores, like the laundry.

Well, SOMEONE needs to mind the laundry.

WC is still with us, although we had a bit of a scare this week. She wasn’t eating and wasn’t meowing and wasn’t coming downstairs to watch TV, pressed against her daddy’s side. She is better but still has NO interest in helping with house chores or doing anything to assist me while I work. No, her contributions still consist of coming down the hall and almost into the room where I’m working, and making sure that every single person on the video conference can hear that she is HUNGRY!!! Do you UNDERSTAND? I AM HUNGRY. I guess when I reach WC’s age I, too, will have retired. 🙂

BIG kitty yawn!!! It’s EXHAUSTING taking care of the clean laundry!!!

Not Ready for Reality

flowering succulents

Oh man, it’s January in New Jersey. We still have a pandemic. It is glorious sunshine out there but you can’t fool ME – I KNOW that we’ve reached our HIGH temperature for today. It may LOOK lovely out there but it’s 37 degrees but will FEEL like 30 degrees. Ugh. Too cold for a walk even if I could. And I can’t because I injured my back a week or so before Christmas. I have no idea how I did it, when I did it. I became aware of someone stabbing a knife into my side repeatedly. I looked to stop them but didn’t see anyone but myself. There was definitely someone sticking something incredibly sharp into my side. Turns out I seem to have an absolutely text-book case of costochondritis. If you follow that link, you will see that the authors had an interview with my then-future now-current self and got the description for the ailment. 🙂 If you are not into links, the short story is that my rib and its associated cartilage had a parting of the ways (for no discernible reason), and I need to wait until they decide to get back together. My brother-in-law (retired doctor) diagnosed me and told me to take it easy and rest. No problem, I thought. It’s the time of year when not much is happening. I’m not doing much. So I kept on walking my mile on my treadmill each day and, yes, sad to admit how stupid I am, kept doing my little try-to-get-started arm exercises. Well. It turns out that walking and arm exercises move your rib cage. I kept that up for 5 days or so after my diagnosis until I nearly passed out from pain New Year’s Eve day when I went to make the sandwiches for the soup kitchen. At that point I decided that maybe walking was NOT such a brilliant idea. Hey – you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!!

kitchen bay window full of happy succulents

I’m doing much better, I am happy to report. Last night I actually managed to sleep in my BED, instead of the reclining chair. There is only ONE position where there is no pain, which gets a bit much for all the other parts of my body, but I did make it through the night, thanks to the ever-present heating pad. The cats have been quite considerate and both they and my husband allowed me to sleep late – all the way to 9:30 this morning!! Even better – the coffee was still hot when I got downstairs. 🙂 That is one of the most wonderful things about working from home – my husband brews the coffee every morning. Even when I get up early to do the sandwiches, when I come home he has made enough that there is hot coffee waiting for me. Ahhhhh.

WC on Red Couch – All is Right in the World

White cat is doing well also. As with so many things now, having an appointment with the vet is a production. Two pages of questions to answer about the pet, waiting in the parking lot in the car until you can bring your pet to the door. You hand over the animal and go back to your car. You will field calls from the doctor as your pet is examined. Finally you are allowed to pay (I forgot to ask if my husband had to give that over the phone or if they allowed him in to pay). I had a day full of meetings and I was still not lifting any weights (see above – care and treatment of costochondritis) so my husband took her in. Another mark on the plus column for working from home. Yes WC is old, arthritic, kidney issues, thyroid issues caused by the kidney medicine but for being 18+ years old, she’s in good shape. The doctor told my husband that WC was sitting in the doctor’s lap and that WC is a “beautiful cat”. Note to my sister: Maybe if YOU told WC she was beautiful she’d stop tormenting you. *grin* WC was probably frozen in fear. Unlike my dogs, who loved the vet, none of my cats have ever been able to relax and go with the flow. I’ll never forget the time one of my girls turned and sank her teeth into the vet. He had to pause the exam while he got stitches.

Soaking up the sunshine

I may be going stir-crazy by having to stay home and inside so much, but the succulents seem to be quite happy. I brought in as many as I could fit in the kitchen bay window. On gray days, which are VERY frequent in NJ in the winter, I turn on the grow light at the top of the window. On sunny days they get a few hours of direct sunshine. They are flowering and thriving. It does give me joy and satisfaction to see them all snuggled together, very green, very happy. Once a week I try to get them into the sink and give everyone a good soaking. Three of them are quite heavy so they don’t always get the sink-treatment. Even so, they look happy to me. 🙂

Living With a Retiree

Is that a blissful face or what?

While BC has become my office mate, and is especially present to “help” in the afternoon, WC has retired from all such obligations. She is on the feline equivalent of Social Security and Medicare. In cat terms that means she meows and we do whatever she wants. The meow is usally one of two things – either a strident demand for me to get to the kitchen and put more wet food on her plate, or a strident but plaintive cry for my husband to sit back down on the couch so she can snuggle. BC wonders why SHE doesn’t get a plateful of wet food every hour, so I have to buy her off with catnip-flavored greenies. WC has yet to demand a place on my husband’s keyboard, but she HAS gone back to utilizing her hiding spot on top of one of his other desktops (really floor model). It’s very warm there, and safe. I’ve found her sitting next to the electric radiator in the breakfast room and snuggled up next to the hot-air humidifier in the sunroom. Ahhh, the life of a retiree – eat, sleep, snuggle.

I bet she has the same expression that I have when I feel the sun on my face.