Archive for June, 2007

The Great Flood of 2007… also known as the nightmare that is my life… also known as Muddy Waters Run Deep… you guessed it, my basement is a swamp.

My evening started out normally enough. Walked past LONM’s (little old neighbor man’s) house, and he came down to chat. He complained of the rain and the street sewer backing up a bit, unable to keep up with the rain… and I thought “Geeze, it didn’t rain THAT much…”

Started the cats’ dinner, got them their medications, swept the floors… when I noticed I was hot – really HOT. Checked the thermostat and it’s 84 degrees. Realized there was no air coming out of the vents. Went downstairs to check it out.

First thing amiss is the light won’t turn on. That’s odd. Maybe a fuse blew. Start fumbling downstairs in the dark. (Yes, I do have a flashlight… somewhere… it might even work.)

Next thing I notice in the dim light is a litterbox at the base of the stairs – that’s odd. Some boxes overturned – odder yet.

flooded basement

Now I realize it’s wet. REALLY wet. Up to the third stair of the stairway. It looks like a mud bomb has gone off in the basement. It’s not just a matter of boxes being a bit damp on the bottom. Boxes, plastic storage containers, chests of drawers – they’re all overturned, filled with water, contents spilling out. Things have floated all over in disarray. Furniture that had been in the finished rooms has floated out into the middle of the basement. Everything is filthy and WET. There’s water and mud all over the floor – and, as I noted, inside the boxes and storage containers. It’s a disaster.

flooded basement

I call my friend and cry on her shoulder, repeating “MY LIFE STINKS” about 500 times while I try to clear a path to the fuse box. My friend, good friend that she is, listens to how my life stinks 500 times and agrees with me. Thank God, as she pointed out, I hadn’t been fostering. There were no cats in the basement. As awful as the mess was to come home to, at least I didn’t come home to a traumatized cat sitting in a windowsill or worse, drowned kittens. I’m relieved I didn’t come home to see my cat Omaha sitting in a litter box, floating amongst the wreckage.

So, I called the insurance company and I really don’t need to be forking out the money for my very large deductible, but for the moment I’m happy that it’s in their court as I cannot deal with it right now. I can’t even guess where one would start wtih the giant water-logged muddy mess. I can’t bear to find out how many of my scrapbooks or picture albums, all stored in the basement, are ruined. I don’t want to know how many of the supplies I stored for Feline Outreach (the not-for-profit I co-founded) are ruined. I can’t think about how much inventory for Mousabilities (my little side business) is damaged. I don’t want to look at the once-clean laundry I had in the laundry basket and hanging to dry.

flooded basement

I want to be oblivious to it all. I think an alcoholic beverage will help. Pity party at my house, all are welcome!

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Studley is the one-eyed wonder cat.

Studley was a stray in my friend’s neighborhood. He was “servicing” the unspayed females, so he earned the nickname the “Stud cat” which eventually became “Studley”. My friend was patient, and gradually befriended Studley by feeding him. The only shelters in her area euthanized unadopted cats after a few days, so she knew a timid adult tomcat had little to no chance. She asked if I could get him into one of the “no-kill” shelters near me. I agreed.

She transported Studley to me in late August, 2002. At under 11 pounds, this large guy was thin and all muscle. The vet at the low-cost spay/neuter clinic I took him to expressed amazement at his muscular forearms and tight abs.

A shelter I adopted from in the past agreed to show Studley on their website, if I continued to foster him and I did. After several months of no inquiries, I grew increasingly attached to this gentle giant and I decided to adopt him myself. When you have three cats, what’s one more?

Studley’s gradually learned to trust me more and more. He’ll come up for pets now, and sleep with me at night. He enjoys cuddling, grooming, and wrestling with the other boy cats. He gained a lot of weight with free access to food. He lost two pounds when we eliminated dry food, but is still over weight and I have to watch his portions and that he doesn’t “help” the other cats with their leftovers.

Studley had to have one eye removed in March 2005, due to severely high eye pressure caused by glaucoma. They found cysts all along his optic nerve. His other eye showed signs of deterioration as well, but is currently stable. In February 2006, I noticed a small cyst or bump on Studley’s left cheek. The vet didn’t think it was anything to worry about – but in April it was still there and on April 14 I asked that they remove it. To my shock and dismay, the biopsy report came back that it was cancer and they had not gotten it all. We consulted with an oncologist, and she felt a second surgery was our best option. They made a second elliptical cut around the first one, and removed the slightly enlarged lymph node. Histograph results indicated they got it all.

Hopefully, Studley is finished demonstrating his amazing ability to grow unusual cells.


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MySpace, continued

I am thrilled to announce I now have EIGHT MySpace friends! Wow!

Of course, the joy at having eight MySpace friends is a bit dampened by a few things:

1) One of my new friends is an animal shelter – I do like the shelter, but you can’t exactly go out for a cup of coffee with an animal shelter, or order pizza with an animal shelter…

2) Another of my new friends is a cat. LOVE cats – but I somehow feel the fact that two of my eight friends are non-human depletes my “cool and hip” quotient on MySpace.

3) One new friend is my brother. Siblings are kind of bound by DNA to be your friends, I think. On another (but related) note, my dear brother has posted a few comments to my blog. Thanks, Kurt! I suspect Mom told him to. Moms are the ones you can count on to attend your high school sporting events, high school plays, and read your blog. Except my mom is pretty busy, so apparently delegated that task to my brother. I do have to commend Kurt on the t-shirt recommendation. TOTALLY ordered a “Tom is my only friend” t-shirt!

4) That leaves me with five human friends, unbound by DNA. Two are shelter staff, that I suspect felt obligated to be friends with the pathetic old “unhip” cat lady that’s friends with their shelter. (In fact, I do suspect my cat friend may also be a pity vote.) But you know, I’m okay with pity friends.

5) Finally, and perhaps most importantly – I have fewer friends than my cats. Omaha, for example, now has 40 friends. Rumpelmintz has 43 friends – and she doesn’t even like other cats.

Catster.com is interesting. A MySpace for cats. Like MySpace, I joined out of curiousity and so I could see a friend’s private page. Within minutes of joining, I kid you not, cats I (nor my cats) had ever met in our lives were asking us to be friends. No real reason not to accept those invitations, right? I mean, even if these cats are a horrible influence, smoking catnip out behind the litterbox and tipping over garbage cans, how much impact can they have over the internet? I’ll monitor their “Paws mail” inboxes, just in case.

Soon, my cats were having a lovely time with Catster. They were like little Jehovah’s Catnesses or Born-again Catstians, preaching the evils of dry food and the good word of a grain-free wet diet. I think some of their new Catster friends are annoyed with them.

Speaking of fantastic tehnological advances – how about eBay? eBay ROCKS! A friend sent me this great auction… who wouldn’t want a 7’2″ lifelike Jolly Green Giant statue?
Jolly Green Giant

He’d make a great date for my friend’s upcoming wedding – but I’m not sure I want to fork out the dough for an airline ticket for him. Plus, I can just see the issues in-flight:

Flight attendant: “Sir, you will HAVE to sit down so we can take off”

Me: “He can’t sit.”

Stewardess: “He has to sit – we can’t take off until he sits.”

Me: “He can’t sit. His joints are immobilized.”

Can’t exactly put him in the overhead bin. Maybe he could ride in baggage.

Note my first use of a link with the Jolly Green Giant – go me!

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I’ve heard of MySpace. I knew it existed for some time. Heck, I watch TV and I see the crime shows where an integral part of the plot is some website (which you KNOW is MySpace, but under a different name to avoid a lawsuit) – where some young person is taken advantage of, or hires a killer through, or finds a killer through, this “friends” website.

Never had any desire to have my own MySpace account. I’m a bit too old for that, I think. I know the “cool” cat people have them – the younger ones that work or volunteer at the shelter – but also sing/play in bands or go to college or other hip, cool, young things. But hey, that’s not me. I have my feline diabetes online forums and groups on gastro-intestinal disorders in cats and now I even have a blog with an impressive mature name like “wordpress”.

Then it began with an innocent comment. A shelter staff member commented on a cat bite – and how I could see how the bite looked when it was new and nasty on MySpace. Well, I had to see. I mean, who can resist looking at a picture of a hand swollen up like a nasty pink balloon with puncture marks from a cat’s canines?

So, I go online and find the MySpace page with the swollen hand. I see Ms. Swollen Hand has friends. Hey – I know that friend… and I click. Interesting – look at the musical interests, the videos, the pictures, the comments… more friends. Click… click… click.

Eventually I stumble on someone I know that’s private. I can’t look without an account. Well, no harm to creating an account, right? It’s free, after all. So, I’ll just set up a quick account.

Now I have an account with one friend – some guy named Tom. Tom’s very happy in his picture, and rather cute, I must say (though much too young for a crazy cat lady). He’s not really my FRIEND, though – he apparently created myspace. I delete Tom from my friends. (Sorry, Tom! Really, it’s NOTHING personal. You are an amazing guy. It’s not you, it’s me!)

Well, now it says – in very big letters. THIS MEMBER HAS 0 FRIENDS.

I have no friends. Wow, that looks pretty bad. Well, my friend that had the private page – I’ll add her as a friend. Then I can view her page. So, I do that (with her help).

Now it says in big letters. “YOU HAVE 1 FRIEND”

Still, that’s pretty sad. One friend. One sole friend. One person that took pity on me and is my friend. Maybe I pay her, for all others know.

So, I convince another person to join myspace, so I can have them as a friend. I have two friends now! My friend also has two friends because she kept Tom. Maybe I should have kept Tom. Darn. I don’t suppose Tom would forgive me and take me back now, after I dumped him.

It’s addictive. I need more friends. More friends.

Maybe it’d be easier to find friends for my cats. I’ll check out catster.

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Barf art

Apparently, training for the Barf-Olympics is going on full force. As a human bean, I’m obviously not privvy to details such as when or where the actual event will take place – but I can certainly tell that Team Barf is in training and plan for a great showing at this year’s events.

Rumpelmintz (a.k.a. Rumpelbarfz) has some new tricks up her sleeve – apparently she plans on writing something in barf. Pretty amazing to behold, I must admit. This morning she put together this lovely piece. I think it says “#@&% you” but I’m not entirely sure.

barf art

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I have this VERY odd diamond-shaped tan line on my right arm. Now, I am not about a perfect tan. I’m not about a tan. I’m happy if I’m not so white I blind people from the glare. However, this is a VERY large, VERY odd diamond-shaped tan line on my right arm. It’s on my inner arm and it’s huge. It looks bizarre.

I finally figured out why today – it’s from holding my handbag. When I’m outside, I hold on to the purse strap near my shoulder – to thwart any would-be purse snatchers. Well, it’s created this horrible white diamond on my right arm.

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In May of 2002, I lost two of my then three cats to kidney failure. After a week of being an only cat, I thought Rumpelmintz looked lonely. Well, okay, not lonely… but bored? Maybe she needed the other cats to worry about to keep her occupied.

I went to a local shelter and stood there, overwhelmed at the sheer number of cats that need homes. All special. All unique. All deserving. After a while, the shelter manager came to check on me and I told her I had no idea where to start. She asked if I’d be interested in seeing some especially hard to place cats, and I agreed.

She took me to a small isolation ward, where there was a small orange and white kitty in a cage. She’d just recovered from ringworm, and the manager left us alone for a bit. I could pet her on the top of the head with my right hand and she’d arch her back in delight. Touch her anywhere else and she’d hiss. She talked and talked, and did cute little “dance steps” with her back paws.

When the manager came back, I told her the cat (named Kitty) was sweet. The manager’s eyes welled up with tears and she said “No one EVER says that. They think she’s mean because she hisses.” That cinched it, she was coming home with me!

It took Kitty, who I renamed Kitty.com, time to learn to trust me. Initially, if I attempted to touch her anywhere but on the head with my right hand, she would sceam and scratch me. She hated Rumpelmintz and if she so much as heard or smelled her on the other side of the door, she’d lunge at it, screaming.

It took months before she would allow another cat in the same room as her. I had to move carefully and slowly, or risk getting scratched. It was all worth it.

She still doesn’t like the other cats, but she’s learned to live with them. She hasn’t scratched me in ages, and the last time because – well, darn it, I just wasn’t getting her dinner ready nearly fast enough! (She gets crabby when she’s hungry – I do, too.)

Kitty.com still does her adorable “dance steps” with her back paws. She loves to take toys and put them on her head, like little hats, then look at me as if to say “What about this one? Too much?” She’s a delight.


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Rumpelmintz spent the day at the vet’s Tuesday. She got the “senior moments” package. (She’s 12 years old now, they consider any cat over 10 to be a “senior”.)

She did NOT cooperate. Dr. B. said they “used lots of thick towels”. When I came to pick her up, she was screaming and cursing at them from her cage, and they asked me to help put her in the carrier. (She knows better than to bite me – that means a “time out” for her, which she hates… however, biting others does not seem to have any repercussions…)

It reminded me of a vet visit long ago. It was a different clinic, and a different vet, and her first visit there. I warned them she could be um, difficult. They gave her a muscular nurse who looked like she may have become a veterinary assistant after a successful bout in the Olympics as a weight lifter. She grasped Rumpelmintz firmly. Rumpelmintz looked at her, with her best pathetic “I’m so misunderstood” face. I urged the assistant to be careful, Rumpelmintz will bite.

The vet began his exam, and Rumpelmintz continued to look forlorn and sad about it all. Things were going along nicely, and the vet became convinced she’d just “had a bad experience” before and would be fine. He turned to prepare her vaccination. The assistant continued to hold Rumpelmintz, when Rumpelmintz reached out one tentative paw, gently touched the assistant on her chest, and gave out her most pitiful “meow”.

The assistant said “Aww, she just wants a cuddle… ” and before I could stop her, released her death grip on Rumpelmintz to hold her more gently.

Rumpelmintz seized the opportunity. CHOMP!
AHHHH!!! the assistant screamed.
The vet begins yelling “Grab her, grab her!” CHOMP!!!
They’re able to jab her with the vaccine syringe and get her back in the carrier.

After that, they made sure there was a large red “WARNING!” stamp on her file.

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I got my hair cut this morning. While she was cutting, my stylist told me in excrutiating detail of the cicadas. The invasion of the 17-year cicadas is upon us, and apparently in full force in her yard. She talked of seeing greenery move, how she thought it was a baby possom, how the cicadas crawled up her legs, how she gently moved them to trees. I squirmed in my chair, but that did not stop her. I put my hands over my ears and chanted: “I’m not listening! I’m not listening!” but she continued. I know it’s irrational, but I’m terrified of them. I’m terrified of all bugs. I’m not seeking them out to destroy them, but I feel avoiding them is absolutely within my rights.

I was reminded of my first visit to a hairdresser. I don’t remember how old I was. I do remember that, up until that point, my mother had washed my hair in the kitchen sink as I screamed and cried. When she dropped me off at the stylist’s, she told them I’d be horrible. When she picked me up, the hairdresser said I had been fine. She asked me about it, and I explained that the hairdresser used the pads of her fingers to wash my scalp. She did NOT claw at my scalp with her long fingernails. It made it a much more pleasurable experience.

I also got my brows waxed. Two normal-sized eyebrows now. No bushy unibrow.

Afterward, I went to the vet clinic to pick up some medication. Being their most high-maintenance client, I also asked for copies of the last labwork I’d had done, and made an appointment for another cat. Just the other week, the vet I see regularly, Dr. B. was telling me of another client. He said: “She’s like you… well, she’s not like YOU, no one is like YOU… but she likes to do her research.” We laughed. I know they must roll their eyes when it’s me on the phone, AGAIN. I ask for copies of everything. My vet researches information on the VIN and faxes it to me. I tell him what I found on the internet, and what the vets I e-mailed said. I’m a huge pain. I figure there are signs up in every vet office in the city stating “Warning: This person may appear to be a lucrative client, but she is NOT worth it!”

I also got groceries. I’m that annoying customer in line ahead of you, with a cart piled high with items. I can feel the customers behind me cursing me silently. I have no idea why I always have so much stuff. I NEED 6 to 8 large vanilla-flavored non-dairy creamers, and lots and lots of microwavable vegetarian entrees. LOTS of paper towels – I have several cats, remember? Well, and I have coupons – LOTS of coupons, and all the items the coupons were for. Heck, I even got some pre-cut pre-washed convenience veggies – and dip.

I actually find the grocery store interesting. Not the part where you’re wandering up and down aisles, searching for things listening to childen whine and parents nag… but the part where you’re standing in line to check out. What does the older woman ahead of me have? Squash, fruit, salmon, chicken… healthy eater. I imagine she lives alone and eats very healthy, and has a cat. She wasn’t buying any cat food or cat litter, but she just looks nice, I think she should have a cat. The man behind me had beer, a pineapple, guava nectar… he’s having a party… a pool party. The man behind him had even more paper towels than I did. His cart was stacked high with paper products. I imagine he owns his own small business.

I’m home and the groceries are unpacked. Some of the veggies are eaten. I plan on spending the day at the computer, with cats. Bliss!

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Rumpelmintz, aka Rumpelbarfz, aka Rumpelbeast, has been with me since she was a kitten, in 1995. She was born to a stray a friend took in. Rumpelmintz is extremely smart, unfortunately she never uses her genius for good.

Rumpelmintz spent the first 10 years of her life training for the Barf-Olympics. She scored many a point for “Team Barf”. I asked the vets about it again and again. There had to be something wrong with her. They’d look her over, do some bloodwork, and say she was fine. Meanwhile, she decorated the walls, the floors, and the furniture with her barf artwork. She’d climb to the tallest cat tree and spray the walls, floors, and furniture in one gush. My mother called her the “Exorcist Cat”.

I now know Rumpelmintz suffered from a gastro-intestinal disorder, known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Fixing the problem wasn’t that difficult, she simply needed a food change. No more dry kibble. She did well on a grain-free canned food, and fantastic on raw. Of course, getting her to *eat* it was another matter. She’d only ever eaten dry food, and getting her to understand canned or raw was edible was a long and difficult process. Once her food was changed, she also lost a bit of weight she needed to.

Rumpelmintz adores playing laser tag. She detests the other cats. Hates them. Wants them dead. She loves people to admire her and tell her how beautiful she is, and she’ll run up to them so they can do so. She prefers they not actually *touch* her. She also feels is necessary to supervise any repairs done in the house. Though, I once found she’d fallen asleep on the job.

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