Circling the drain

The brevity of my posts the last few days are a pretty good indication of where my head is. It’s not terrible, but I can see it from here.

Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I resent the fact you’re bothering me about how much liquid there is in a glass. If you can’t figure out out I don’t know why it’s my problem.

Here a cute picture of Mia and some stuffed animals that one of the cats dragged out. It might have been her, but they’ve all played with them enough that they’re all suspects. Every day she takes over just a little more and I love it. She’s a bright spot. The fact that I can still see bright spots is a good thing.

Big day for Dunkel

Dunkel
Portrait of the Young Cat as Slightly Stoned

We had to take Dunkel to the vet today to get his teeth cleaned. His litter mate Mia has Bartonella’s which often causes dental problems. Porter, who’s genetically unrelated has no issues, but Dunkel needed a good cleaning. He’s getting tested for Bartonella’s as a precaution, but the expectation is he won’t have it.

Anyway, we dropped him off at the vet this morning. I picked him up around 3:30pm. The hours between were odd. Dunkel is the straw that stirs the drink around here. Mia looked for him. Porter was nonplussed.

I’m glad he’s home. Sure, I was able to go several hours without him sticking his ass in my face, but it wasn’t worth it. I missed the head butts. He’s a big goofball with enough fur to make another cat, but we wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Workmates

Late in the afternoon it can get pretty hard to get anything done around here. I tend to pick up an audience.  Porter has taken to getting up on the back of my chair and making little whining noises. What he really wants is for me to get up because he really likes sleeping in this chair. I’m in the way. That’s all he’s trying to tell me. Mia, on the other hand, seems to wake up from her late afternoon nap and comes down to let me know she hasn’t been fed or generally catered to in several hours several minutes since the last time it occurred to her. I need to hurry up because there’s an early evening nap to get in. Dunkel is nothing if not consistent. He wants to play.

It can make it tough to get anything done.

Especially if you’re not trying to hard.

This time it’s worked. Truth be told, it usually does.

Conversations you don’t want to have

“Don’t get upset. I’m OK,” she said, “I’ve been in a car accident.”

“Where are you?”

She tells me. Central Parkway, Idiot driving too fast loses control and smacks into her. Spins her around. Side airbag deploys. EMTs check her out. She’ll probably have a bruise from the seatbelt. She couldn’t open the driver’s side door.

I drive down to the District 1 Police Station to get her. A Sergeant helped her get some stuff out of the back and drove her down. I circle the block once before I see her.

Home. I’d had dinner already cooked. We eat. Mia is on her lap. Dunkel is on the back of the couch watching over her. We’re waiting for a call from the Sergeant to give us some information. The insurance dance begins in the morning.

She’s OK. In the end that’s all that matters.

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Just me and the cats

Dunkel not pictured because he was unconscious across the room.
Dunkel not pictured because he was unconscious across the room.

It’s not that we had any elaborate plans this weekend, but they got changed anyway.  Carla’s dad had to go into the hospital yesterday. I don’t want to say it’s not serious because it’s something that landed him in the hospital, but it’s something that’s manageable and he’s probably getting out tomorrow. Carla drove over there this morning and, with any luck, will be home Monday. Then we’ll head back over there early Friday morning as we’d been planning to do for quite a while. Never a dull moment.

So it’s me and the cats this weekend. Porter and Dunkel are used to being with just me, but it’s not something Mia has much experience with I’m alone with them during the day a lot, but she sleeps most of the day. Tonight is a new thing for her. Either we’re both supposed to be gone at night or we’re both supposed to be here.

Long about 5 or 6 PM she’s gotten into the habit of coming out and begging Carla to be fed. The boys eat dry food that we just leave out all the time, but we’ve had to feed her wet because she had a lot of dental issues.  Those were dealt with Tuesday, but the habit is there now. One that will take a while to break. I wondered what would happen if Carla wasn’t here to see the “Oh, woe is me, I’m being starved” act.  Answer: she’s perfectly happy to put on the show for me. You’d never know she’s maintained a strict 3-foot exclusion zone around herself for the last month. We were the best buds.  I joke about it, but it makes me happy.  We don’t know the whole story of what went on in her previous home, but something made her very afraid of men. Bit by bit she’s getting over it and that makes me very happy.

One thing that’s been a challenge is we’ve had to give her oral antibiotics since her dental work on Tuesday.  If’s been. Interesting. We hit on a solution.  We keep tubes of this malt-based hairball prevention paste around.  Porter and Dunkel love it, which is good because Dunkel sheds enough to build another cat every three days. But it’s Porter who gets the hairballs — from grooming Dunkel. Turns out Mia likes the stuff too AND we can mix in the antibiotic. We know she gets the whole dose because she licks the plate clean. She’ll forgive Carla for shoving a syringe in her mouth.  Me?  Not so much.

Porter and Dunkel will wake us up in the morning, but they actually require environmental cues. Don’t set an alarm or let the lights come up on a timer and they’ll stay sacked out.  Not Mia. She’s literally in Carla’s face first thing in the morning. After getting the begging routine this evening, I’m not bothering to set an alarm for the morning.  Miss Mia will handle my wake up call. The joke’s on her, though.  Malt and antibiotic before food.

So tomorrow will be a quiet day with me and the cats and probably the Big Green Egg. As I said, we didn’t have any solid plans, but these weren’t it. Could be worse. Definitely not complaining.

Ales & Astros: The last day

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We’re home. There’s really little else to say.

It’s been a great trip. It’s going to take a bit of time to process. It was a week ago today that the conference in Williamsburg, VA wrapped up and we spent a rainy afternoon and evening driving the Colonial Parkway from Jamestown to Yorktown. Didn’t know about the serial killer at the time. Probably for the best. My first overnight train trip was still a day away. It’s amazing how much we packed into just four days in Florida.

Some things that are going to stick with me:

  • Mountains.  I miss them. The drive across West Virginia and western Virginia made that pretty clear. Even today we got off I-75 for a bit to cut down on the amount of traffic we had to sit through to get past the rock slide in Tennessee. We used an old state highway that winds up the mountain paralleling a railroad track and crisis-crossing a stream on a series of one-lane bridges that look like they date back to the WPA or CCC. It all seemed so right somehow.
  • Williamsburg. I’ll admit it, I was seduced by the place. I’d love to go back and spend more time there. One place I’d definitely want to spend time? The Virginia Beer Company. And Alewerks. And definitely the DoG Street Pub.
  • I’ve never been a big fan of vinegar-based barbecue sauces, but there is a Virginia version that I actually want to try out for myself. I had it on a pulled chicken sandwich for lunch last Saturday and I haven’t been able to quit thinking about how good it would be on pulled pork. The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow….
  • Words cannot describe how miserable I was about 2AM on Tuesday as I tried to sleep in that tiny roomette on the Auto Train. More than once I muttered to myself that I was in hell.  So understand when I say I’d take another train trip in a heartbeat that I’m saying this with my eyes wide open. In a roomette? Not on your life. I’d rather just try to sleep in a coach seat. I think if we’d been in one of the larger sleeping compartments you would have had a hard time getting us off that train. Nothing that was unpleasant about our experience was anything Amtrak could control. I’m a fan.
  • The staff of Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, FL. It wasn’t supposed to be the case, but we saw the last two Astros Spring Training games that will ever be played in Kissimmee.  There was supposed to be a game yesterday that we couldn’t go to that was supposed to be the last one, but it got rained out. It was already a bittersweet ending to a 32-year run there, and I so wish they could have ended it with tha bang they deserved.  I love minor league ballparks because they’re usually so friendly. That’s what it was like at Osceloa. The only way you would have known the Astros were getting ready to leave is because there was a PA announcement asking folks to share pictures of their experiences at the park. Every single employee was a complete pro. You’d have thought nothing out of the ordinary was going on. It’s a great place to watch a game. I truly hope they find another tenant to go in there. They know how to do it right.
  • I’m ready for the season to get started. I’m excited about the Astros. I’m bracing myself for the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Reds fans this year. We lost 111 games in 2013.  107 the year before that. Reds fans have trouble being positive when they’re winning. This isn’t going to be pretty.  I hope the weather is good Opening Day. It may be the highlight of the year.

But mainly we’re home now. Porter, Dunkel, and Mia have each given us our scolding for leaving them and let both of us know we’re tentatively forgiven. Carla has a long day at work tomorrow. I can’t avoid leaving the house for a couple of reasons, but I don’t plan to be gone long.

I’m home.  I want to enjoy that for a while.

This one is about the cats

What? Is there food?
What? Is there food?

I’ve been hitting on serious stuff all week and I’ve just about overloaded on it. It’s time to write about the cats. The last time I wrote about them Miss Mia had just decided that maybe we were OK and she could actually stand to be seen with us. I’m happy to say that trend has continued. About the only time she’s not in the same room with us now is if we’re both working downstairs in the basement and it’s cold outside. The basement stays a good bit cooler than upstairs and she hates being cold even more than Porter.

She’s the lap cat Carla’s always wanted. She’ll crawl up onto Carla while she’s on the couch and either sack out or squirm around to extract the most petting possible. Her sweet spot for scratching is right on the back of the neck. If I’m on the couch the same time as Carla I get to participate. She’s trained me to brush her when she nuzzles at the brush we keep nearby. Carla has to be there though, she’s still very skittish around me otherwise. We understand from her foster family that it’s true of men in general. If she’s in the room and I move, she watches me like a hawk. You can almost see the “run or stay” calculations happening. The vibe I’m getting is that over time there will be less running and more staying.  Whatever hesitation she has toward me disappears if I’m mixing her up a treat of wet cat food and dry. She likes me just fine then.

She gets along with Porter and Dunkel great. I’m pretty sure Porter would be grooming her routinely if she’d only let him. The skittishness she has with me extends to Porter to some degree. It’s breaking down, but she’s got to decide we’re OK on her own schedule. It’s different with Dunkel. They may not remember they’re litter mates, but they’re wired the same way. They play. The same sorts of things are attractive to them. They shadowbox with each other and take turns chasing the other.

Tomorrow we get to take all of them to the vet for the first time as a group. That should be interesting. Don’t think Miss Mia is going to be terribly happy with us when it’s all said and done, but at least she’ll be able to commiserate with the boys.

It’s a happy house full of cats.  I love it.

Miss Mia joins the family

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Yesterday we had a ghost in the house. Today we have another family member.

One of the appeals of cats is that they are independent. They have their own minds. I don’t get into the “dog person” or “cat person” thing because anyone who doesn’t like animals is probably a very bad person. I don’t like making absolute statements, but I’ll stick by that one. While I adore dogs, I gravitate to cats because they’re not enablers. Dogs love you no matter what. That’s a great thing. It puts them into the top five carbon-based life forms easily. But I need someone to tell me to bug off sometimes. Cats will do that for you.

So yesterday Mia was still hiding from us. We’d see her, be she’d be heading somewhere else. We’ve ben seeing her a little more often each day. She even climbed into the bed in front of the fireplace yesterday. When Carla and I got up this morning a topic of conversation was if we’d see Mia come out to watch us.

It went a little better than that.

Mia doesn’t meow so much as squeak. She was in the living room when we came out and she ran as she’s done, but she didn’t go very far. When Carla and I settled in with our coffee we heard a little squeak and Mia walks over to Carla and starts loving on her. At any moment I expected her to shoot away, so I held as still as I could. I didn’t have my phone out here, so I tried to get a shot with my iPad. That camera just isn’t very good. Anyway, I didn’t need to worry. In a couple of minutes she was over loving on me. She hasn’t left us all morning. As I write these words she’s sacked out in front of the fire.

I don’t know what switch flipped, but I’m glad it has. We have a new cat!

The boys are doing great with her. They’re more curious than anything else. She still isn’t letting them get too close, but they aren’t pressing the issue. It’ll be a great day when we see them grooming each other. It will happen, I’m sure of it.

Enough of me rambling. This is what you came here for.

Today has started out very well.

Mia update

Miss Mia Milk StoutMy rule for this year is to post every day. We’re not through the first month of the year and I’ve burned all my backup posts and am not staying a day ahead as I had. All of this is to be expected. My rule is one thing a day, there’s no topic or length requirement, and I can write about the cats once a week. Today is Monday. I’m talking about Mia today. Then I’m going to write something for tomorrow.  Consider this me spiking the ball to stop the clock late in a football game.

I still don’t have a better picture than this one. Carla shot some video, but Videopress is giving me some trouble and I can’t get it to do anything but display it at a stupidly large size. It’s backlit, so it’s a little dark anyway. I love the glowing eyes, anyway.

She’s still spending most of her time hiding, but we’re seeing her more and more. She’ll generally announce herself with a pathetic little mewl that has to make Porter pretty jealous.  I’m pretty sure he thought he’d perfected the “Oh, woe is me” meow, but Mia makes him look like an amateur. She’s watching us and, at night, she’s exploring.

The boys are doing great with her. Early yesterday evening we noticed Mia was watching us.  Porter noticed her and did the puff-up-the-tail thing as he went over to her.  But he didn’t hiss and he didn’t do anything but watch her. Dunkel, being Dunkel, seems to be all “Do you want to play? No? OKThanksBye” when he sees her. She has not integrated herself with them yet, but she’s only been here a couple of days. We keep reminding ourselves that we’re ready for her, but she may not be ready for us yet.

Carla has spent time with her down on the floor, petting her and giving her treats. She purrs and enjoys the attention. I think my size scares her when I’m standing or moving, but she liked it when was petting her when she was hiding behind the bed.

Last night I was just dropping to sleep and I heard what for all the world sounded like wind chimes. Which would be really cool, but we don’t have any. I realized the sound was wine glasses in our wine tower clinking together. It happens when cats are up there. I got up, and sure enough I see a small Mia-sized sillohuette zip across the floor.

It’s just a matter of time.