A couple of months ago I wrote that I was thinking of changing my weekly posts from Mondays. After trying things out on other days, I have to say that I like my old pattern best which is to try for Mondays and if other days arise, then post then instead or additionally. So it’s Monday. And I’m posting.
I want to tell you about my darling Perry (in the photo he’s nestling up against Kana). It’s been years now since he first showed up in our backyard and we trapped him, got him neutered, took him to the shelter where he was all but kicked out. They thought he was feral because he was completely shut down emotionally. I ended up bringing him home and earning his trust over weeks and weeks. I read poetry and stories to him, sang to him, and held his food bowl while he ate. Then one day when I stuck my hand under the bed, he came toward me and started to touch my hand with his paw. That was the moment when I knew he wasn’t feral and was going to be a big sweetheart. Video of Perry Hiding Under the Bed Touching my Hand
Perry has been a member of our family for 5.5 years now, and he’s the King of the Castle. He’s been the babysitter of cats and kittens. He is in charge of it all. I have expected to have him around until I was really old. Imagine my shock to realize something is wrong with his health. He’s got weird poos that have gotten increasingly soft, light-colored, and smelly. He’s lost weight–down a couple of pounds in the last two years. He feels skinny. And yet he’s a picky eater which gives me anxiety as it reminds me of Felix and Tiger when they got sick. On top of the GI symptoms, he suddenly has a level 3 heart murmur. This isn’t a terrible one, but it’s significant and especially for a seven-year-old cat. So he needs medical tests. The GI troubles could be Irritable Bowel Disease–or they could be lymphoma. The vet want to start with an abdominal ultrasound. Perry’s going to get an echocardiogram to examine the heart murmur. Please send all your prayers, vibes, and general good wishes for my dear darling special boy. The ultrasound is Friday, and the echo is in a month (they are hard to schedule).
As you may realize, we took in my son’s two cats six months ago. Two older cats who have their own ingrained habits and don’t get along that well to begin with is a pretty big thing to bring into a household with three older cats (two seniors plus Perry). It has not been a smooth six months. Not. smooth. at. all.
The gardener and I are over our Covid (we hope). It wasn’t fun, but it sure wasn’t anything like Valley Fever (I’m only speaking for myself here).
If you haven’t picked up a copy of Rooted and Winged, please consider it as a way to support the poetry community :).
If you have one and haven’t posted a review at Amazon (and maybe Goodreads, too), I’d sure appreciate it.
If you would like to review it for your blog or a lit journal, please email me at luanne[dot]castle[at]gmail[dot]com and ask for an ARC.
And if you have already bought a copy and reviewed the book, a million thank yous!!!!
There’s been a lot of subtracting and adding going on at my house this past year. After my daughter lost her dear cat Izzie, the gardener and I lost Felix and then Pear. Those three sweet furry souls were all gone within two months. That left us with four cats and my daughter with zero (although she had her dog).
I started to think about the years ahead when we would have fewer cats, thus making it easier to travel. And I would have less daily kitty chores.
Then daughter and SIL adopted two kitten sisters. Daughter was keeping her fingers crossed that they would bond as well with Riley, the dog, as with each other. Sure enough, this happened.
I asked my daughter if when Tiger (who was 18) was gone, she and her husband would bring their animals over here and take care of everyone while the gardener and I go on a long trip (first time ever).
But early this summer we had to open our home to my son’s two cats, all while our little Tiger seemed to be ill. Sure enough, she died on June 28–4 weeks after the new cats arrived–and on the 7th anniversary of our furboy Macavity’s death.
So we were six cats, then five, then four, then six, and now five. Follow that? No long vacation for us for awhile!
Lily is the long-haired orange and white cat, and Meesker is the house panther. Lily, a very affectionate girl, is already fully integrated into the household, but Meesker is more shy and prefers the freedom of his own suite (i.e. bedroom). That’s because his Minion Manservant (the gardener) watches TV two times a day in there with him. They play mouse, too, and Meesker brings the mouse back so it can be thrown again. Sometimes he stops by his water bowl and washes the mouse before he brings it back.
Now I just need to figure out how to get Meesker out of the room without stressing him too much. I will also have to figure out how to tell, in a half-second, whether it’s Meesker I’m seeing or my other house panther, Kana.
Has anybody read the Ruth Galloway mystery series by Elly Griffiths? I just plowed through all fourteen books, and I’m upset that I have to wait until 2023 for final installment. As much as I love Louise Penny and Ann Cleeves, I liked these even more! The characters are wonderful, and Ruth’s love life is certainly interesting.
On Friday, April 1, (or thereabouts) Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina turns 18 years old. Her feistiness has calmed down, but she’s still pretty agile. She lies on the back of the recliner, for instance.
The other day we had a little pearl-draped photoshoot for the Queenie Princess. Here is our resident royalty on her throne.
And here she is looking so adorable on the fake fur on the piano.The fur that matches her green eyes.
And, finally, here she is at rest after a grueling modeling shoot.
People who know Maine Coon cats often think Perry is part Maine Coon. It’s his face shape, the tiny tufts on the tips of his ears, his long fluffy tail, and his affectionate, intelligent, and very chatty personality. So when I was feeling really bad about losing Pear, Felix, and Izzie, I bought a DNA test for Perry as a present for myself.
DNA tests for dogs always made more sense to me than ones for cats. There is such a wide variety of dog breeds, and it can help to know what the needs are, depending on what combination of breeds make up your mutt. DNA tests for people make a lot of sense for me because I love family history and genealogy, plus I’m such a Nancy Drew that I like investigating things. The gardener calls me “Sherlock.” That is in addition to all the other nicknames.
So maybe it’s that curious streak thoroughfare that runs through me that made me want to see the results for Perry.
Soon after the kit arrived, I gathered Perry’s spit, packaged it up, and sent it off. This is the activation notice I got on the website for Wisdom Panel, the company I used.
I was prepared to wait for a month or two because that’s how long it took for human and dog DNA I’ve sent in. But I got the results in just a couple of weeks.
This is a Maine coon cat, by the way, so you can see what they look like.
You could have knocked me over with a cat sneeze when I took a look at Perry’s breed mixture.
81% American Domestic cat. That’s not surprising. But wait. The next breed listed is NOT Maine Coon. He’s 11% Sphynx cat!!!!!!! 11% means that one of his great-grandparents was a Sphynx.
Sphynx cats are bald!!! They are extremely intelligent and are also one of the most dog-like cats in personality. So now we know where Perry gets his neediness :).
More information from Perry’s DNA suggests that he is white and one other color, has a long tail, and is long-haired. The best part of the test is that he tested negative for the 49 health issues that Wisdom Panel tests for. He happens to be blood type A like his human mama and papa.
Now he can relax! Perry says HAPPY HANUKKAH on this first day of Hanukkah!
Rest In Peace to the bestest boy Kitchen Kat Felix “Fefe” Mr Scoobydooby man. My kitchen seems ridiculous without him in charge. I tried to help him through all his health issues, but last night the lymphoma or FIP attacked his neurological system and he began to have many small seizures. The vet said it was time to let him go. Mac and Izzie met him where the colors band together.
Two years ago I posted Felix’s story on this blog. If you didn’t get a chance to read it at that time, here it is again. I won’t be posting tomorrow, but I will be back a week later. XO
Following a writing prompt requiring the poet to pull words from a published book, I ended up with this poem. I wish I could remember which prompt I used–and how much I varied or not from it, but it was a couple of months ago. And these months have been full of work stress, so my memory looks moth-eaten.
The book I used was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a popular “writing text.” The subtitle is “Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” and I would say that the instructions are more on point for life–and maybe that’s why it is so popular!
WHAT TO NAME A CAT
(in the voice of Anne Lamott)
One Door Shut
Way to the Truth
Each one of these names resonates for me with what cats mean to me. Gosh, that sounds like an essay assignment for fifth grade. A fun assignment!
Maybe you can find a name for your next cat from my list haha.
For two years, Tanman and Louise have lived at the shelter. They were born, along with their sister Thelma, in a laundry room, and received very little human attention in the first months of their lives. This means that they came to the shelter in the no-cats-land of not being feral because they had never been outside for a second in their lives and not being socialized either. At the shelter, we discovered that they are great with other cats and love to play. But they are afraid of humans getting too close.
In this photo you can see it says they were at the shelter 600 days, but that was printed in December. Thelma is the tabby and Tanman is, that’s right, the tan and white.
This story takes a good turn, I promise.
A couple of weeks ago, they were adopted together by “Catification Couple,” a couple who have a lot of cats and devote their lives to taking care of them. Their house is designed for cats, in fact.
If you want the fun of seeing Tanman and Louise warm up to humans you can follow their stories on Instagram or Facebook. They do post, as well, but to really see what goes on with these two kitties you have to watch the stories.
So I have been spending a lot of time (that I don’t have) going through files and files of old paperwork–writing drafts, academic papers, business “dead files,” and personal business out-of-date stuff. So far I have 8 banker boxes of shredding :/.
What motivated me is that I am missing a list of items that I know are just misplaced. When you have too much stuff, you can’t find what you really want to find.
But I am reading a few things before I toss them.
Audre Lorde is one of my favorite poets. My dissertation (gosh, that feels like such ancient history now–and it really is) is structured on one type of identity for each chapter. Then I focused on one poet for each identity. A chapter I was excited about, but never got to was “the performance of economics,” using Lorde’s poetry. She so often uses images and metaphors of money and math. I suspect it meant that she dealt with feelings about worth. Reading this poem made me remember how disappointed I was to exclude the proposed chapter from my dissertation, but I already had enough word count and just wanted to graduate.
Going through all this stuff is making me wonder what other writers do to organize all their work. It seems an ongoing time-consuming project to organize well. Right now I have a binder of published poems and a binder of published prose with lists for each. But the binders are full and they seem a bit disorganized. Then I have a binder for all the paperwork related to Doll God and one for Kin Types. Maybe it’s my habit of losing things that make me want to use binders instead of just file folders.
There is still much to be gone through, but I am losing my passion for it. My allergies are in an uproar over the dust I’ve stirred up, and I’m tired of the same project. And have started to feel overwhelmed by how many incomplete poem drafts I’ve found!
Do you do intense organizing like this? If so, how often do you engage in it? I sort of think this is my first time . . . .
What lovely news I had yesterday! Longridge Review nominated “The Secret Kotex Club” for a Pushcart Prize! Thank you so much to the magazine and editor Elizabeth Gaucher for their support of my work. I am gobsmacked and verklempt and shocked.
The gardener and I had a lovely Thanksgiving day with daughter and her boyfriend. The cats were happy to see us all happy together. We started the day with a hearty breakfast and mimosas spiced up with Grand Marnier.
The gardener made rotisserie turkey on the grill outside (Arizona weather, you know), plus I bought a small spiral-cut ham. Then there were the sides. Both kids made dishes, and I made more. By the way, I don’t need to be afraid of gluten free stuffing (dressing for you southerners) because it turned out great. You would never have known it was free of gluten.
Now this coming weekend we are having a holiday party with all four kids and my DIL’s parents (as well as some other festivities).
To give you a smile for this week, here are my boys decked out in gift bowties a lady made them.
Felix has a halo because he is always a good boy.
Perry is not as good, but he sure is cute.
The scratches on his nose are caused by one of the girls. He annoys them, and they tell him to get lost (with their claws).
If you think Perry is cute, I will tell you that my friend is fostering another gray and white boy cat in Phoenix that is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE and a cuddle bunny and of a perfect disposition! She can’t keep him much longer with her other cats (she has as many as I do). His name is Asher (I helped name him), and we desperately want him to go to the best possible home.
Here is his bio:
Asher was found abandoned on the streets. He is a real sweetheart, a darling cat who does not have a single mean cell in his body, he is truly a gentle giant. He will follow his person around the house like a puppy, wanting attention and company. He’s good with other nice cats, dogs, and people. He is 13 lbs of love, loud purrs, and he is a big kneader and talker too. His estimated age is between 2 and 3 years old. He is desperately looking for someone who will give him a warm, loving forever home and family and will never abandon him as his previous humans did. Even though he tested FIV +, his lifespan is no different than those cats who are FIV-, as long as he is fed good quality diet and kept healthy. Asher appears to be in excellent health now. His adoption fee is $50 and it includes neuter, microchip, FeLV (-)/FIV(+) test. It also includes a free wellness exam in a cat-friendly hospital with a veterinarian who is up-to-date on FIV and can offer professional advice and guidance regarding proper care for Asher. For most up-to-date information and to learn more about FIV visit this website: https://www.fivcatrescue.org With all inquiries about Asher please contact his foster at firstname.lastname@example.org or text at (480) 652-4852.
Make it a good week. My solution to minimize holiday stress is to plan like crazy with itineraries and lists and then relax and be flexible, using the written notes as guidelines to be used when necessary and ignored when possible.
The big news around our house is that we finally adopted Perry. He’s no longer our foster cat, but our permanent family member.
Perry is full of cuteness. He still fetches and cuddles and licks. He also sits up on his butt like a little meerkat. He looks like he’s praying.
Perry seems to be feeling ok. He’s been out more with the other cats, annoying Felix and Kana in particular. He wants to spoon with Felix, and Felix won’t stand for it, but then Felix wanders the kitchen looking for a safe place and not finding one. He wears a forlorn expression now, except early morning and evening when Perry is in his room. Kana can’t even eat in peace. Perry lies in wait to grab her food as soon as she is done.
Yup, Kana is eating in the pic. And that is Perry on our left, smelling that special hypoallergenic kibble.
I had a nightmare last week about Kana. It went on and on and on. I kept waking up, only to fall back asleep into the same dream. My cats were at the neighbor’s house (but it wasn’t my neighborhood or my neighbor’s house and there were no people in the dream) and when I went to get them, the front door was open about 5″. I grabbed a couple of cats and ran them home, slamming that door shut behind me. Then I went back for more cats. When I looked around my house, I realized Kana was gone. I couldn’t find her anywhere. She must have gotten out before I got to my neighbors. This dream was on repeat for SO long.
The day after the dream I realized it was Black Cat Appreciation Day. So I dunno. But one of the triggers for the dream was probably what happened a while back. SLOOPY ANNE GOT OUT OF MY HOUSE IN THE DARK OF NIGHT! If you have indoor/outdoor cats and have had no problems, bully for you. But in my neighborhood, there is a pack of gynormous coyotes and the humongousest bobcat of all. There are no living cats in my neighborhood which was why we had to trap Perry and get him indoors right away.
What must have happened was that the gardener was grilling a burger for himself and, since he’s Sloopy Anne’s favorite person, she must have followed him outside. He spotted her sitting under a patio chair, although it was so dark even with the patio light that at first he thought it was a generic cat, not one of OUR cats. Then he realized it was our sweet pea. We both started trying to get her. Understand that she’s the cat that is the most difficult to catch of all six. I couldn’t even bring her to the vet for a recheck after her teeth cleaning because she was too wily.
If it hadn’t been so serious and scary, our attempts to grab her would have been quite the slapstick. We, and especially me, ran through all the flower beds and bushes as Sloopy Anne climbed the palo verde trees, the outside wall, and even the oleanders (which are toxic to animals). She sat up on a tree branch taunting me. I began to think about the long night ahead. I realized I would have to sit outside, ready to scare off coyotes, if we couldn’t get her to come in. At one point my bad foot came down on a rock half embedded in the dirt, I twisted my ankle, and fell–smack into freshly cut tree branches and bushes with thistles. YAY! The more we ran after her, the more the old Sloopster refined her movements, thereby reducing her exertion, but keeping us moving.
When there is an urgent situation (or an emergency), the gardener is more of the panic-driven-take-charge type. I am more of the calm-and-hyper-focused-fall-apart-later type. And he’s never tried to grab Sloopy Anne in his life, leaving that sport to me. So he was trying to call the shots. Giving me a sheet to throw over her, telling me go run that way and I’ll go this way, that sort of thing. For a half hour. Finally, I yelled at him to go to the other side of the patio and stay away. He was so worn out at that point, he slunk off. walked over to where I told him to wait. Then I ran and opened all three doors to the outside: front, side, garage. Within five minutes Sloopy Anne went near the gardener, he chased her inside, and I scurried on my don’t-ever-run-again foot and the other foot to slam the doors shut. Sweet pea captured. Whew.
I started shaking at that point. Later, when I was able to think clearly, I noticed and thought about a few things.
I was lucky I didn’t get hurt worse. I had abrasions and bruises all over, even on my forehead, but these are all easily healed with no long-term effects.
Whenever I am outside, I avoid shadows and dark areas religiously. One never knows where a rattlesnake waits, ready to strike. But I never gave them a thought when I was worried about Sloopy Anne. I get brave when I’m scared. It’s just afterwards when I think of what could have happened . . . .
Sloopy Anne is mad about Perry. She doesn’t like him, and she’s the only one he’s scared of. Keep in mind, she’s a little thing, but moves back and forth along the bitchy to sweet scale very rapidly.
Sloopy Anne LOVED climbing trees. And she had fun outside. She has no idea of the dangers, figuring she can just come back inside whenever the going gets tough. So now she sits by the glass door waiting for someone to open it so she can squeeze out.
My other cats are not eager to go outside, although Kana and Tiger each have been out once before–but this was the first time one of US let a cat outside.
I can’t trust the gardener any longer around doors.
While I’m on the subject of cats, I wanted to mention elephants (because you know I love elephants, too). If you have been out and about–at least on the internet–in the last week, you know that the United States is set to betray elephants BIG TIME. The Department of the Interior plans to allow imports of elephant and lion trophies from Africa! This gives a big green light to all the creeps in this country who want to kill elephants and cart home their serial killer trophies to remind them of their own evil.
You can watch Ellen DeGeneres talk about elephants in this video. For everyone who reposts or retweets the elephant photo she shows in the video and the hashtag #BeKindtoElephants on social media, Ellen will make a donation to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.