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.

No energy

I'm way too tense. I need to learn to relax.
I’m way too tense. I need to learn to relax.

Don’t feel like writing.
Carla is sore but OK.
It’s been a long day.

Uninsured driver,
it should come as no surprise.
Who else causes wrecks?

But that’s how it is.
Nothing you can do really.
The world keeps spinning.

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

image

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.

Something not serious

DISCLAIMER: No brain cells were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

After having a couple of days writing about something I enjoy doing I found myself stuck today. I can’t think of something to write about that’s not serious. I don’t want to be serious. Everything is so damned serious now. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t getting to me a little. I’m OK. If I wasn’t trying to post everyday I’d just let today go by without a post until I get my head on a little straighter. Like tomorrow. Since I feel a sense of responsibility to not miss any more days, I’m going to forge ahead here.

Hey! Wait! The only rule is that I have to post.  This is a post. Carry on with what you were doing. I think I’m done now.

Here’s a picture of Porter playing with Dunkel so the time you spent coming here was worth it.

porter-dunkel

 

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.

Waiting for Mia

Miss Mia Milk Stout
Not amused by flash photography
The danger of writing a blog post a day is that you start to see everything as a metaphor for everything else. So it is with the arrival of our newest member of the family. Miss Mia Milk Stout came home late Thursday morning. That’s our perspective, anyway.  From her perspective she was taken from the warm comfortable home where she was very happy, thank you very much, and taken out into the cold and taken to a completely strange place. A strange place where there are two other cats and very, very few familiar things.  There were cats and dogs where she was before, but she knew them.  These are different cats. There have been many disruptions in her short life, and now there’s another one. We know this is the last one. We don’t know how to tell her that.

We are in a time of waiting. That picture over there is the only one we’ve managed to get since she came home. She’s in the space between the head of the bed and the wall in our guest room. It’s pretty much where she spent Thursday. We had the room prepped before she came home. Food. Water. Litter pan. She explored some when Carla was in the room. She hid when I was in the room. We kept the door closed to keep Porter and Dunkel out, but they were remarkably blasé. Normally shutting the guest room door is a crisis. Not this time.

Yesterday we pulled the mattress back to we could see her down in the gap. We could tell she’d used the litter pan and there was plenty of reason to think she’d explored in the night. Throughout the day Carla and I would go in and talk to her and pet her.  Carla picked her up and took her on a tour of the condo. She seemed to enjoy herself. While being very shy, she sure didn’t mind the attention. When I’d stop reaching down to pet her on my visits, she’d reach a paw up to attract my attention. Early in the afternoon we decided it was time to open the door and see what happened.

Porter and Dunkel have both seen her. They’ve seen us interacting with her, so they seem to know at some level that she’s OK.  Porter is a little skittish.  His tail will get all puffed up, but it really seems to be more an effort to figure out what’s going on. “Are we going to have problems here?” Her response is, well, nothing. So he eventually walks away looking not just a little confused.

If there’s any awareness on Dunkel’s part that Mia is his littermate, we’re not seeing it.  Then again, Dunkel isn’t exactly a complicated cat.

“Play with me!”

Um. Not right now.

“No, play with me!”

Can’t, dude.

“OK, then just pet me. A lot. I demand nothing of you other than your complete attention.”

Do I have another choice?

“No.”

What has been interesting is that Porter seems to be a bit protective of Mia, skittish as he is. Dunkel can play rough. When Dunkel got his first clear view of her, he didn’t charge at her, but he started approaching her cautiously. Porter hissed.  At Dunkel. And Dunkel backed off.

Last night I couldn’t sleep. This is the part where the metaphor comes in.  A couple of times I heard Mia crying, just a little. Her vocalizations are completely different from Porter and Dunkel.  There’s not a chance this wasn’t her.  She was exploring. At one point I’m pretty sure she came into our room. But I have no idea where she went.

I’m finishing this post about half an hour before it goes up.  As I write this I have no idea where Mia is.  We haven’t left the house since the last time we saw her, so we know she’s here somewhere. We haven’t heard a peep. She’s small and clearly likes tight places to hide.  None of our cats have been hiders.  

We clearly have one now.

I’ve done a bit of a search with no luck. Porter and Dunkel are showing no curiosity whatsoever. We’ve had cats long enough to assume there’s no place she can get into that will be much of a danger to her. Carla keeps telling me that she’ll come out when she’s ready.

So we wait. There’s a lot of waiting going on in my life right now. I can’t really talk about that. It’ll come out when it’s ready. But I can talk about the cats. I’m OK with that.

(I’ll update this post when there’s a sighting.)

UPDATED: Under our bed. Her camouflage is very good. 

Home is where the cats are

We’re finally both home.  Our one week of vacation turned into two weeks of dealing with stuff as it came up. The good news is that Carla’s dad is doing great and we were able to come home. Last night Carla slept in our bed for the first time since New Year’s Eve.

Miss Mia Milk Stout
Miss Mia Milk Stout

The cats were, of course, waiting for us to scold us for abandoning them. That is their job, after all. We are their staff and they don’t like it when we leave them to fend for themselves against the cruel world stocked with large amounts of fresh water, food and multiple litter pans all inside a house that’s kept warmer than it would be if there weren’t cats in residence. But that is the nature of cats. I admire them for how quickly they deign to forgive us. In all seriousness, we miss the boys terribly when we travel. It’s always good to come home. We tend to come in and get some cuddle time in before we go out and unload the car.  Priorities.

Something the extra travel meant was that a family reunion has been delayed. Another cat is joining our family. Mia is Dunkel’s sister. She was part of the litter born in the attic of a doctor’s office that also included Dunkel.  She’d been adopted, but it didn’t work out. The wonderful family who fostered her when she was a kitten had arranged to take her back if something like that happened.  When we heard about it we pretty much knew we were going to take her. Porter has really come out of his shell in the last six months or so and has become much more affectionate and a bit more outgoing. Dunkel is still a hirsute ball of energy. He can get a little rough sometimes. We had begun playing with the idea of a third cat merely to split Dunkel’s attention.

She has been Mia from when she was adopted. Given that she’s 2.5 years old, it seems to be a little late in the game to give her a new name. We have, however, a pretty strict rule about beer names for cats. Her markings are remarkably like a Holstein cow. That is reason enough to name her Miss Mia Milk Stout.

She will be joining the family on Thursday. We can’t wait.