Monday, July 25, 2011

Piper the Bear Stalker

Saturday night I was awakened to Chris’ frantic voice saying “there is a bear in the yard and Piper is trying to stalk him”.... so I got up and sure enough, Piper was probably 15 feet away crouched down in stalking mode while the bear lay under the peanut tree eating the layers of sunflower seeds under the mulch, completely oblivious to the danger lurking nearby.  This is a good time to insert this is a cat who is afraid of his own shadow.   I yelled for Piper to come in but he didn’t so much as look in my direction.  I turned on the back porch light hoping to scare the bear away but he didn’t even look up from his snacking.  I watched this ongoing saga for about 15 minutes and finally, in desperation or exasperation, not sure which, I grabbed a broom off the back patio and in my nightgown and bare feet (and hoping no neighbors were watching) I chased the bear off and grabbed my cat. The things a feline mother has to do....

P.S. It was too dark for a picture or I would have taken one but I leave you with the visual of angry woman defending her brood.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Of Books and Floods....

Recently a friend of mine commented that she hates to try out new authors for fear of being disappointed.  Those words have been gnawing at me ever since.  She is an avid reader so I find that sentiment really sad.  I LOVE discovering new authors, it’s one of the great joys of reading.  To limit yourself only to the tried and true ones seems really confining to me.  I fear more being disappointed by an author I’ve always enjoyed.   Jodi Picoult is a good example, I always buy her newest book but in the 20 or so that I’ve read of hers there were a couple I struggled to get through.  But c’est la vie.  Whether or not a story appeals to one personally has a lot to do with the topic at hand and some topics are not as interesting as others to me.  I didn’t particularly care for the one about an autistic boy for instance, but her last one that deals with several hot button issues in our society today captivated me.  Infertility, gay rights, conservative Christian views, love.  How can you go wrong with that?

In other news we are under a flood warning in Juneau! They are not sure why but speculation is there was a lake that has been trapped by the glacier that is now free. This morning the water level was 13.7 feet and rising.  Minor flood stage is 11.5 feet while moderate flood stage is 12.5 feet.  It’s a little disconcerting to say the least.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t get any worse.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hailey Mae July 13, 1993 - July 2, 2011

It was June 7, 1993, I had just returned from a trip south and had one more day left of vacation.  It was sunny and bright out and I relished spending the day in the sun.  Then I got a call from a friend of mine who lived in Washington and she was in town and wanted to go to lunch.  Perfect.  After getting ready I headed out the door and I noticed my cat, Gretchen, following me down the stairs. I thought it was funny that she seemingly didn’t want me out of her site after being gone a couple weeks.  I got in my car and spent 3-4 minutes with the engine running searching for the beginning of a song on the tape,  (remember those days?) then I put the car in gear and started to back out.  I immediately heard a sound I will never forget, a scream, and I instantly knew I had run over my cat. 

Eying the treats that are above her
Fast forward a month or so and my friend Caroline told me about some kittens a friend of hers had.  She took me to their house one night and I picked one out but the kitten wasn’t old enough to bring home.  Caroline seemed determined to get me a replacement cat but my heart wasn’t really in it.  I was worried I wasn’t ready yet and worried if I got one too soon I’d never bond with it.  Non-pet people usually assume when you lose a pet any old animal will do in its place.  I can tell you it doesn’t work like that with pets anymore than it does with humans.  They have such different little personalities and Gretchen I had definitely been in synch.  I loved that cat more than anything in my life and I was the only mama she knew. So I wasn’t really sure when the day came that I brought Hailey home. 

I shouldn’t have worried.  She had me from ‘meow’.  From the moment she arrived I was her mommy and she didn’t want me out of her sight.  She’d sit on the bathtub edge and cry when I was in the shower.  She’d sleep on my pillow.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night and just look at this cute little buddle of fur.  One of the cutest pictures I have of her was when she was a little bitty thing and I was sick.  One afternoon I fell asleep on the couch with my box of Kleenex next to me and when I woke there was Hailey inside the Kleenex box.  It was adorable. 

One of her kitten hood misadventures happened when she and Hillary were playing with a ball of yarn.  I had gone to lunch with a friend and when I returned it took me a few minutes to realize she wasn’t around.  And then I saw her...she was so tangled up in that yarn she literally couldn’t move a muscle and it was wrapped tightly around her neck.  That was the last time yarn was used as a cat toy in my house.

Her claim to fame was her ability to get plastic lids off.  Treats always came in containers with plastics lids and she was a pro.  I had to hid treats where she couldn't get them lest she open it up and eat the whole can.  One day I came home and she had gotten a can of Slim Fast powder off the counter and the lid off. She must have thought anything with a plastic lid was cat treats so she must have been sorely disappointed to go through all that work only to discover a weight loss powder....which I was vacuuming up for months out of my lovely 70s orange shag carpet.

I always had 1-2 other cats throughout her whole life and she was always my favorite.  I really loved that cat, everything she did was just so cute to me.  Unlike Hillary who sought to win Chris over when he joined our household, Hailey wanted nothing to do with him.  She was always a one person cat.  Somewhere along the line I gave her a middle name and always called her “Hailey Mae”......she was really very special.    But cats in old age can be as cantankerous as humans in old age and she was grumpy in recent years, compounded by the fact she did not ever befriend the two new cats or the dog.  She became increasingly isolated in the dog kennel.  She also quit grooming herself and developed mats of hair all over and she stunk.  She quit eating proper cat food and would only eat cat treats.  And she had stomach problems which translates into massive amounts of vomit......everywhere.  Then she started wetting herself so last Saturday I finally made the decision to end her life.  She was 18 years old and she had seen me through a lot of life.  I was pretty confident I was doing the right thing as I drove to the clinic and did fine as I was explaining my decision to the vet.  But the moment I bent down to kiss her goodbye I was hit with a wave of emotion that just about knocked me to my knees.  It was such a visceral reaction that I did not expect.  Emotions are a funny thing, even when you think you have them all boxed up and put away they can knock you for a loop. 

So here’s to you my sweet feline friend, rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Friends Are Like a Box of Chocolates....

When we first moved into the home we now live nine years ago I noticed the woman who lived across the street.  She was tall and willowy and much younger than me.  In the following years I’d run into her occasionally when I was out walking or working in the yard but she never spoke to me and frankly I thought she was really stuck up.  After a few years she moved out and then it seemed everywhere I’d go  I’d see her. ...the Home Depot or the grocery store or gas station.  Then I got a new job and surprise, surprise, there she was. She didn’t actually work in my office but she frequently had to bring things in to be signed and she wasn’t any more friendly there.   At the next job she was dating the father of a coworker.  Then I saw her hanging out with an old landlord of mine and read in the paper she ended up marrying him. She seemed to be one of those women who couldn’t go a nanosecond without a man. This year in January there was an opening at the office I now work at and she one of the applicants.   I couldn’t believe my bad luck,  I didn’t like anything about her.  So imagine my dismay when the notice came out saying she had been hired.  Before she started I looked her up on Face book and there, everything I thought I knew about her  was confirmed.  Every day there was an entry voicing her very loudmouth conservative, Republican agenda and her outspoken discontent with our president.  Even if I agreed with her I don’t appreciate reading people’s political rants on FB and I always hide their entries if they get too obnoxious.  Then I saw another reason not to like her....she is an avid hunter! I am not opposed to hunting, per se, I just cannot relate to the desire to kill animals, particularly for fun or sport.   She has numerous pictures posted posing with an array of dead animals.  And she’s the president of the local NRA club.  The was the final nail on her coffin as far as I was concerned.

So imagine my complete and utter surprise to find I actually liked her!! We have absolutely nothing in common.  She is very girly-girl in some ways....she wears 6 inch heels and perfectly manicured fake nails and is very fashionable with her long processed hair.  On the other hand she is this Harley girl with crazy tattoos and when she isn’t on her bike she’s out hunting or fishing. Or working on machinery.  Or some other manly  pursuit.  She is such a contrast between ultra feminine and masculine.   The funny thing is though we really enjoy each other’s company and get along great.   We play endless games of Hangman and Word With Friends and we have such a hoot just hanging out.  She really brightens my work day and she has a fantastic sense of humor.  I still have her hidden on my FB but every once in a while I sneak on to see what she has written.   There are subjects we avoid but all in all it’s quite a miraculous friendship!   I guess the moral of this story is one of my favorite quotes that says:  don’t ascend so far into your own beliefs that you villainize anyone with an opposing point of view.