Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ghost Cats and Witch Kitties

The first cat I ever loved was a blue point Himalayan named Mindi.  I adopted her from the animal shelter when I was fifteen and right away I noticed there was something weird about this cat.  If there is one thing Mindi taught me it's that true witch kitties are not black.  They come in disguises.  Mindi looked like an angel cat but underneath that package of fluffy silver-cream fur was a devious little beast.  Puckett has picked up this torch and carried it in Mindi's stead now that she has passed on.  Puckett is twenty pounds of tabby and white load who uses her bulk to get what she wants.

Mindi and Puckett have two things in common.  Mindi had huge eyeballs that she used to stare unnervingly and unblinkingly at people as they went about their daily activities as does Puckett. My best friend from college used to joke that if one crossed Mindi she would stare at them until she cursed them. Mindi was also ridiculously intelligent just like Puckett. Of course I am biased and believe all my pets are intelligent except for Willow, but Puckett is exceptionally so.  She has not yet learned to teleport, however, which is something that Mindi was quite good at.  Or possibly Puckett just has no reason to teleport as she can go wherever she wants.

I am kidding of course.  I don't really believe Mindi could teleport, but on several different occasions witnessed by several different family members, Mindi had somehow managed to escape from my bedroom where she was usually confined and found her way upstairs.  One episode sticks out in particular.  We kept Mindi in my bedroom because our other two cats didn't like her and expressed their displeasure by refusing to use the litter box.  Mindi was my cat anyway so she spent most of her time in my room, keeping me company in my hermit ways.  I was on my way out of my bedroom one day and Mindi was sitting on my bed in the middle of a circle of stuffed animals.  I sometimes wondered if she didn't consider these her minions as she sat among them a lot.  I said  goodbye to her, promising to come back later, looked her right in the eye, and closed my bedroom door.  I latched it.  It was shut.  I went upstairs to help my mother with something and she asked me why Mindi was out of my room.  There was Mindi sitting on the windowsill in the breakfast room, staring out the window.

She pulled this same trick with my brother.  On another occasion she was in his bedroom because I wasn't home for the weekend and he said Mindi was lonely.  He too said he swore he closed the door, looking at the cat while she sat smugly on his bed, and then went upstairs.  An hour later she trotted into the living room like nothing was amiss.

One night when I was about sixteen I scared myself silly with scary stories and evil presences.  I was sure I felt something dark in my room.  It was almost tangible with its oppressiveness, like there was this heaviness in the air, closing around me.  Even the darkness seemed darker.  I hid under my covers shaking and trying to control my panic and about ten minutes later I heard extremely loud purring and Mindi eased onto my chest.  She sat there for about an hour, purring, until I felt the heaviness disappear and my room lightened. Mindi liked laps but she never sat on me when I went to bed.  She always slept next to me or at my feet.  I may sound crazy but I think she was protecting me.  Whatever I felt in my room that night she somehow warded off.  She never sat on my chest again.

After my brother and I moved out completely my mother still kept Mindi in my bedroom until she had to put the other two cats down.  By then Mindi had escaped several more times or merely beamed herself out of the room as my mother liked to say.  It became a family joke.

When I moved to my own apartment I took Mindi with me.  She'd joined me at college a few times, living in my best friend's apartment and watching lots of sports on TV with his roommate.  Mindi had a fondness for large men sitting in easy chairs.  It provided a lap for her to sit on.  My best friend cat sat for her a few times too and he said she pulled her tricks with him as well.  He'd find her in the strangest places and one time he found her outside, just sitting under a tree.  When I moved Mindi to my apartment after I graduated college she had the run of the place except for my roommate's bedroom to which we kept the door closed.  Most days I would come home from work and call for Mindi, search the entire house for her, coming up nothing.  Two hours later when I would get really nervous she would trot out of my bedroom as though I hadn't been tearing the house apart looking for her.  I think she had a hidey hole under the bed (and I did check under the bed, every time to no avail).  I also think she kept an office somewhere behind the walls where she did her plotting to take over the world.

One time I found her in my roommate's room even though the door was shut.  I have no idea how she got in there.  I have no idea how I found her considering the mess he left behind.

When I moved to Wyoming I took Mindi back home to my mother.  By then she was fairly old and a move across the country away from everything familiar I feared might be too much for her.  As she was the last and only pet she became almost boringly normal.

After Mindi passed on I came home a couple years later to visit my family and my mother put me in the guest room as my old room was being remodeled.  About three o'clock in the morning I awoke to the sound of what can only be described as a cat pawing very loudly against a door.  I am very familiar with this sound since Mindi did it all the time when she still lived in my bedroom.  The weird thing was my parents no longer had any pets.  I turned on my light and looked around expecting to see something but there was nothing in my room.  I would have chalked it up to a dream but a year later my sister-in-law slept in the same room and said she heard the same thing. I hadn't told her before then what I'd experienced.  My mother jokingly said it was the ghost of Mindi.

I have a black cat, Percy, but he has no particular magic powers or uncanny abilities other than to stink up the house when he uses the litter box.  One thing I love about him are his fangs.  I call him vampire kitty, but Puckett is my witch kitty now.  I have never met another cat like Mindi until I met Puckett at the animal shelter.  She has the same spark in her eyes as Mindi. While she doesn't demonstrate an ability to beam, I do believe she wards off evil spirits and she's a good luck charm, if for no other reason than nobody really messes with someone who has a twenty plus pound cat who is not afraid of anything.  That could be the beginning of a monster movie.  Attack of the Twenty Pound Cat.

Happy Halloween everyone!

The Vampire Kitty

The Witch Kitty

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Three Dog Night

Two of my best friends and I are total wimps when it comes to our pets.

I took Tess in for a routine teeth cleaning and she ended up needing eight teeth pulled.  I was devastated.  Partially because of the hit to my pocketbook, but mostly because Tess came out of surgery with quite a few teeth missing and several holes in her gums.

The poor baby.

She looked miserable when I picked her up at the vet, yet that did not stop her from running all over the place trying to sniff whatever she could and peeing on tufts of grass like the male dog she isn't.  Really, there isn't much that keeps this dog down.  The receptionist at the vet said she was up and tail wagging almost as soon as the anesthesia wore off.

That's my dog.  barely out of surgery, eight-and-half years old, and still acting like a six-month-old pup with too much to do and too much to see.  I wish humans could be as unassuming and drama-free about being sick or injured as my dog.  It does make it kind of a pain to keep her quiet and resting though.

Once I got her home, however, the excitement of being picked up from the vet started to wear off.  I softened food for her and kept her inside with her doggy bed while I went back to work.  Of course on the day my baby had to have surgery I had to work until nine.  I worried about her (and the hit to my pocketbook) pretty much all night and just wanted to go home so I could cry.

I don't like to fall apart in public.  I prefer to do my bawling in private.

When I got home I discovered blood all over the floor and a very ashamed, very upset dog who was clearly in a lot of pain.  I felt like a jerk.  I had softened her food, but there were a few pieces on top that hadn't quite soaked through and she'd tried to eat them.  There was blood on the carpet around her food bowl and all over the tile floor where she'd removed herself to because she's just that good of a dog.  When she's about to make a mess she makes sure to do it on the hard floor where it's easy to clean up.  What a good girl.

She looked at me like she'd done something wrong, like I was going to yell at her, and the tears just came unbidden.  I could not stop bawling as I got her medication - three pills of antibiotics and painkillers - but the dog would not let me near her mouth, not that I blamed her.  I finally managed to get the pills down her throat by burying them in globs of peanut butter.  I do have to say, I am very lucky when it comes to my dog and pills.  She gulps pills like candy.  I have no problem giving her medicine.  Even her heartworm pill is like a lollipop to her, unlike the cats who I have to wrap up in a towel and shove liquid medicine down their throats.  That's a disaster of epic proportions.  I usually come out of that bloody.

Tess on painkillers is simultaneously funny and sad.  She's such an active, energetic dog that she does not like to be quiet and still.  She clearly doesn't know what to do when her body betrays her.  The painkillers make her woozy and she's on two different ones - a fast acting one and a long term one.  They make her wobbly, loopy, and downright doped out.  It's funny to watch her try to stagger around the house on her usual nighttime routine.  It's also rather sad, and then the other night she fell down the stairs because she was so disoriented. I had just turned off the light to go to bed and I heard a huge crash and a thump.  I turned on the light and ran downstairs and there was Tess, her hind paw slightly elevated, looking rather foolish.  I made her come upstairs then and stay.  I'm a little jealous of her medication - I kind of wish I had some of her painkillers - but I'm more upset at the fact that she's obviously in pain but acting like she's the same old dog as always, even doped out.  I've spent most of the week - when I'm not at work - drinking or eating hunks of chocolate so I don't burst into tears whenever I look at her.  She spends most of the time looking at me like I'm crazy and wondering why I keep puddling up.

When Percy punctured his paw on a stray nail from the carpet I about had a heart attack.  This was maybe over a year ago and I  noticed one morning that kitty was limping around the house, not putting any weight on his front paw.  I freaked out, screamed, "Kitty!" and rushed him to the vet.  They put him on antibiotics and said he spent the whole time he was at the vet's purring and rubbing against everyone.  I was in hysterics.  The vet must have thought I was crazy.

My best friend in Colorado has a little Bengal cat that is basically the love of her life over her husband and her stepdaughters.  Breyer has been sick for over a week and it turns out she's got an impacted intestine.  My friend has spent most of her week bawling over the cat, spending ridiculous amounts of money on vet bills and enemas, and force feeding the poor cat different brands of food.  I get constant texts on the Breyer's progress, whether she's eaten, and how much.  My friend is as bad as me, obsessing over the cat, why won't the cat eat, the cat has barely drank any water, why won't the cat get better NOW??  Breyer is finally on the mend.  My friend is about to check herself into the Funny Farm as my roommate.

My best friend here in town has a rottweiler who is her soulmate.  He has been diagnosed with bone cancer.  She's spent three days shut up in her house bawling and working out alternative care to improve the quality of life for the time Zulu has left.  When her Pyrenees died she was a basket case.  I don't think she stopped crying for a week.  Zulu is her baby, though, and now she is taking him to Colorado State University to work out some options.  I have to say I would probably do the same thing if it was Tess.  My friends' pets are going through worse than Tess and I'm acting like the world is coming to an end.  Tess doesn't need the sedatives, I do.

To be honest I cry when someone squashes a spider.  I think I actually miss my ex-boyfriend's tarantula, Scary Alice, more than I do him.

When it comes to animals my friends and I are wrecks and we see no reason to apologize for this.  Yes, there are worse things in the world, but to us, the animals are our world.  Tess is my longest serious relationship, Breyer is my friend's sanity, and Zulu is my other friend's soulmate.  They touch our lives in a way humans can't.  Tess has been with me through multiple boyfriends and she's outlasted several friendships.  Even when it seems like everyone's walked away she's still there with her big brown eyes and those adorable radar ears.  I can't imagine my life without her, though one day I know I'll have to try to go on without her.  For now, she's my closest companion and as long as she's in pain I will codependently feel sympathy pains with her.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Conversation with Dr. Gustafson, DMV

For this blog I interviewed my veterinarian, Dr. Blair Gustafson, DMV and owner of the Country Hospital for Animals (he's also a renowned polka dancer!). Check out the clinic at:

1.  How long have you worked with animals?
Dr. Gustafson:  I've worked with animals my entire life. I grew up on a small hobby farm where my family raised calves and lambs and there were always dogs and barn cats around. Both my sister and I had horses, and like a lot of kids I brought injured wild animals home to nurse. I worked in veterinary clinics for 4 years as a stable boy and kennel cleaner while I got my undergrad degree, and then spent 5 years completing my doctorate and post-graduate work. But if you're asking how long I have formally worked as a veterinarian, the answer is almost 28 years.  Boy, I'm old.

2.  What made you decide to become a veterinarian?
Dr. G:  When I was younger, I was fascinated by nature, I liked working with my hands,  and I loved science. Quietly interacting with animals felt a lot more comfortable to me than conversing with people, which is the common lot of awkward nerds everywhere.  I just didn't know how to tie all that together into a paying career. Then one evening my dad came home from work and gave me a book someone had left  in the caboose of his train.  The book was called "All Creatures Great and Small," by James Herriot, and as I read the stories about his life as a veterinarian in Yorkshire, I knew without a doubt that being a vet was for me. So here I am, the result of a .95 cent paperback novel discarded on a coal train in Parkman, Wyoming.

3.  What is your favorite part about your job?

Dr. G:  My job has a lot of good parts to it. I've learned to interact with people in an almost lifelike facsimile of a friendly person, and have even come to find humans interesting (well, some of them, anyway).  As a solo practitioner - a dying breed both literally and figuratively - I treasure my independence, and  I am flattered by the fact that a lot of the people who walk through the door seem to trust me and treat me like a friend; that's awfully humbling, and much-appreciated.  I like holding newborn animals, and I still enjoy working with my hands to fix things. And not just with my hands: every day, these silent, mysterious cases show up in my hospital, and I have to try to figure them out with very little help from my patients; it's like putting puzzles together all day, and I love that challenge.  But if I had to settle on just one thing, I think the primary selling point of my job is the variety.  Every day, I come to work and I have no idea what might walk in, and what skills I'll have to conjure up. Whether it's implanting a pacemaker in a dog, pulling a tooth on a wallaby, reading x-rays on a turtle or setting a broken wing on a robin some child found in a yard, being a veterinarian is a true exercise in improvisation. I like that my job is never boring.

4.  My pets certainly seem to love coming to the vet and you have a special way with animals.  Do you have pets at home and what kinds do you have?
Dr. G:  You're very nice to say that; it means a great deal to me.  Time has slowly thinned the animal crowd at my house, and we're down to just an old earless, tailless cat and a cavalier King Charles spaniel.

5. With the holidays coming up what are some tips you can give our readers on keeping pets safe and happy?
Dr. G:  
a.  Keep the cats out of the Tannenbaum and your vet won't spend Christmas Day removing tinsel from the resulting intestinal bockage (and large sums of cash from your checking account). Really, that's not a good present for any of the parties involved.

b.  No matter how much those big brown eyes plead with you, don't break down and give your dog rich holiday treats from the table. People often feel like their pets should celebrate along with them, but your beagle isn't aware that it's Hanukkah or Christmas, and besides, most of the animals I know are agnostic anyway.  Well-meaning people sneak the little blighters turkey gravy or pumpkin pie, and that just results in the gift of pancreatitis. If you want to give your pets something they will really love and appreciate, give them a hug or a pat. 

c.  Keep the electrical cords to the Christmas lights up and out the way so they don't become a chew toy. 

d.  Remember that lillies, holly, and poinsiettas can be toxic, particularly to cats.  Incidentally, mistletoe is not only fairly poisonous, but can cause lifelong scarring, particularly if it is held over your head at the junior high  "Back to the '50's" dance so that you are forced, blushing head to toe while your buddies elbow you,  to kiss Ruth Hutchinson, a girl you have had a crush on since 1st grade, in front of the entire giggling class in the gymnasium at the Earle Brown middle school.  Or so I am told.

Thank you so much, Dr. Gustafson for your responses!  And as always, thank you so much for your great work.  My pets are happier and healthier for having known you! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Hellmouth Opens

There is something to that old quote that has been said in different ways by many different people:  "The more I know about people, the better I like my dog."  I think I'm beginning to lose faith in humanity.  Or the problem could be, as is becoming glaringly obvious, this town I live in.  Incidents at the library I work at are increasing.  We call the police at least every other week, if not every week.  Mental illness runs rampant.  People are rude.  Most of them don't realize that a red light means stop.  A week ago, while walking my dog, my light turned to "Walk" and this car just blew right by me, completely ignoring the red light.  They'd had plenty of time to stop, by the way.  Had I started walking, they would have needed a spatula to get me and Tess off the road.  The lady in the car behind that one just sat there shaking her head as though she too has lost faith in humanity.

I've had people flip me off for going at a four-way stop when it was clearly my turn to go.

I had to call the police to the library one Friday morning because a lady who was clearly mentally ill became increasingly rude and belligerent while insisting that we were the rude and belligerent ones who were bullying her just because the government was after her.  I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling her the government was not after her because they didn't want anything more to do with her than we did.

I wish I could say this is an uncommon occurrence but it's not.

When my dog becomes belligerent, a doggy pop is all it takes to make her sunshine and roses again.

While I do believe in compassion for the mentally ill, in this town it seems to have become an excuse for bad behavior. Someone acts like a jerk and then they justify it by saying they are off their meds.

I wish I could say that is an uncommon occurrence too, but it's not.  The nice thing about dogs - and Cesar Milan will back me up on this one - when they have anxiety issues or depression, all they  need is a nice long walk, perhaps a nice long swim, a game of fetch, and once again, the ever appreciated doggy pop.  Dogs that have issues just need exercise and discipline.  I fully believe most people in general with issues are the same.  I myself have tons of issues, anxiety being one of them.  If I take a nice long walk with my dog I usually feel much better.  Most people just seem to want to blame something else instead of taking responsibility for their own behavior.

As for the rude, aloof, and self-entitled attitudes of a lot of people lately, well, that's why I have cats - for my daily dose of rude, aloof, and self-entitlement.  It's cute when it comes from a twelve-pound bundle of fur with whiskers all over its face.  It's not cute when it comes from a six foot tall biped who is red in the face from throwing a tantrum that would make a two year old proud.

I wish I could say I was just using that as an example, but again, that has actually happened.  My boss had to intercept.

One would think we live in New York City the way people behave but we live in small town rural Wyoming with a population of about 15,000 (and shrinking because sane people are running out of this town for their lives).  When I moved here, everyone was friendly.  People did nothing but smile and even the firefighters would laugh and wave on their way to a call because my dog at the time howled whenever he heard sirens.  The firefighters thought it was a hoot.  The dog must have thought his pack was coming back to claim him.

Now everyone seems to be in a perpetual state of wanting to flip off anyone who walks or drives by, me included.  I think our nasty sides are taking over.  Or maybe our sleepy little small town is actually a hellmouth a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer and we have demons here that would rival Sunnydale, California's.

I am a solitary creature by nature but I find myself staying home more and more to spend time with my dog and my three cats, not because I don't like people or don't want to be social, but because I feel this constant battle against bad behavior and mental illness is sucking out my soul.  I originally wanted to work at a library because I love books and collection development and helping people answer reference questions.  I did not realize that to work in a public library one actually would be better served to get a master's degree in psychology.  I wish I was joking.  And again, while I have compassion for the mentally ill, when it is something one is up against day in and day out it gets exhausting. When even something as simple as politely asking a patron to follow the rules gets one hollered at and called every name in the book, it is demoralizing.

Animals just seem so much simpler.  For example at this moment my Percy and Puckett are lying together by the back door grooming each other and playing.  Of course they get on each others' nerves but the fight usually lasts two minutes, there is no bloodshed, and no one walks away butthurt or superficially offended.  They work out their differences in the space of seconds then go back to snuggling together, purring happily in each others' company.  To keep Tess happy one needs merely to take her for walks and keep the food bowl full.  And while Willow is a spaz, nothing is so bad with her that a snuggle and some catnip can't fix.  She's even stopped peeing on the floor.

I get a lot of jokes about turning into a crazy cat lady since I do work at a library, I am single, and yes, I occasionally wear my hair in a bun. Sadly should this happen, I would fit right in at my place of employment and in this town in general.  Crazy is the new normal.  In the famous words of Julia Sugarbaker, "No one in the South ever asks if you have crazy people in your family. They just ask what side they’re on."

And now they are taking over small town Wyoming.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Novel Synopsis

And here is the synopsis for the novel I just finished (well, the first draft anyway).  I actually won an honorable mention for the Frank Doubleday Awards in Wyoming for the first ten pages of this novel.

A year has passed since Sam Guerin made the choice to walk away from his best friend, Darcy, without a backwards glance. Now Darcy has wrapped her car around a tree and Sam spends the endless hours of his days working at his father's mechanic shop and hiding in his house, angry and reclusive, with nothing left of Darcy but the blame gnawing at his heart. Forced into good behavior by his probation and the adoration of his young niece, Olivia, Sam is determined to keep his nose clean and stay out of trouble. That means keeping his life as boring as possible and avoiding his ex-employer, Jackson Knight. Sam just wants to get on with his life and forget about Darcy. It's too late for them anyway.
It begins with mysterious texts from an unavailable number, unexplained disturbances in Sam's house, and the cat's increasingly strange behavior. Then the dreams start, dreams that hint at details Sam has no way of knowing, dreams that slam him awake drenched in a cold sweat, and bring on a fever unlike anything he's ever experienced. Someone or something is playing with him, rattling bones better left buried, and tormenting him with memories that fester in his mind. As if that isn’t enough to drive Sam completely insane, Jackson is campaigning for him to come back to work for him and he’s refusing to take no for an answer. If Sam is just losing his mind, overwhelmed by the grief he's locked away, then why is the cat acting so screwy? Why is Olivia insisting that Darcy is visiting her at night? And why is Jackson trying so hard to drag him down again? Sam is close to falling down the rabbit hole that put him on probation and made him lose Darcy in the first place, unless he can finally learn to trust the one person who has always had faith in him. Figuring out the circumstances surrounding Darcy's death may prove to be his undoing, or it just might grant Sam the second chance his soul craves and open his mind to a new talent he never knew he had.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Feel Pretty

I am one of those people who takes very little time in the morning to get ready.  I take a shower, throw the hair into a ponytail, and out the door I go, sans makeup, sans fuss.  This strikes me as amusing considering how much I love makeup.  I like to buy it, I like to look at it.  I like to put it on.  I just don't like to put it on when it causes an inconvenience or is more trouble than it's worth.

The less time I have to spend being presentable in the morning, the happier I am.

This has rubbed off on my pets.  Grooming is not one of their favorite things.  That's funny as well considering cats generally spend the 90%  of the time they are awake grooming themselves.  Not my cats.  Puckett is so fat she can't reach anything but her front paws and Willow for some reason is uninterested in grooming herself.  Because of this both of them have developed mats in their fur.  Puckett's mats are the result of laziness and portliness.  Willow's mats are a result of her very fine fur and thick undercoat.  That and a stubborn refusal to let me brush her.  I have to sneak attack her every day with the brush and remove one mat at a time before she claws the hell out of me and runs away.

It's a miracle I have not developed cat scratch fever.

The last struggle had me coming away with scores down both wrists and bite marks in my hands.  My coworkers thought I'd made an attempt to trespass somewhere guarded by a rottweiler.

Welcome to the friendly neighborhood rottweiler - a six pound, bug-eyed tabby cat.

Trimming Willow's nails is an even more traumatic experience.  One would think I was murdering her and dismembering her one limb at a time.  It requires me holding her down (gently) and taking the nail clippers to her little carpet shredders.  She screams and yowls like nobody's business and since she's boneless anyway, keeping a hold of her is quite the chore.  It almost requires a kitty straight jacket.  The last time I trimmed her nails Percy was sure I was killing her.  He came up and slurped her right up the side of the head in reassurance which only served to infuriate her more.

We both got the tar beaten out of us that night.

Puckett is a little better about brushing.  I have to attack her daily with the comb as well and remove a mat at a time, but she does not attempt to pummel me into the ground for my efforts.  She does, however, spin circles while I chase her around trying to hook the teeth of the comb into her fur.  When she has enough she runs upstairs and gives me the "glare."  This morning she pooped on the floor. That's her way of saying, "Not cool, Mom."

I don't even try to trim her nails.  First of all she isn't destructive with them.  She claws only what she is supposed to.  Secondly, manhandling 23 pounds of cat to the ground to try and trim her claws is basically committing suicide.  If one is feeling a kamikaze wish, then by all means.  She has been known to beat the snot out of me when I've tried to put her in a cat box.  Which is why she now rides along in the car on the front seat like a diva rather than in a kitty carrier.

Tess is a water dog.  She loves to swim.  I take her down to the river where she jumps right in and swirls around making waves and ripples while trying to shovel as much of it in her mouth.  I've taken her to the lake and she will swim all day, until she is ready to collapse, and still be ready for more.

I bring out the hose to give her a bath and it's like the world has ended.  If I don't leash her first she runs away.  She will go right into her dog house and good luck dragging her back out.  Once I have her secured, I have to hold her leash with one hand, while turning the hose on her with the other.  She stands there with a mournful, horrified expression like I have just condemned her to a place with no doggy bones.  I soap her up with her specially formulated anti-allergen doggy-safe shampoo and she gives me this look like I'd better watch my back at night.  Once she's done she does the doggy happy dance all over the yard.  All is right once again in Tess world.  I don't even try to trim her nails.  That's what the pavement is for when we go for walks.

Percy is the best of all of us.  He grooms constantly.  His coat is testimony of this as it is a beautiful shiny coal black.  I can clip his claws with absolutely no fuss.  He snuggles into my lap and purrs happily.  When he's not cleaning himself, he is licking Willow or Puckett's heads, cleaning them as well.  He'll even lick the lotion right off my legs if I let him.

Isn't it funny that the one who spends the most time in the bathroom is the male?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Best Friends

This is a rogue post.  Because Tess is absolutely terrified of the camera and she tends to leave the room whenever I pull out my phone and make like I'm taking a picture, I have to post this.  I snapped this when she was least expecting it and true to form, she left the room after giving me one hell of a dirty look.  This picture, however, sums up the true relationship between Tess and Puckett in all its raw emotion and honesty:

And here's another:

Define Yourself as a Writer

As per my instructions for today's October Platform Challenge, courtesy of Writer's Digest - - I am going to take this time to set up my bio and define myself as a writer.

Name:  Anita Weisheit
Positions:  Reference Librarian; Pet Blogger; Novel Writer; Short Story Writer
Skills:  Customer Service; Reader's Advisory; Grammar, spelling and language; German speaker; Creative Writing; Blogging; Teaching; Computer and Tech Skills; Database Navigation; Social Media Navigation (Facebook, Twitter).
Social Media Platforms:  Facebook and Twitter
Accomplishments:  Master's degree in Library Science; Bachelor's degree in English and Literature; Teaching certification, Montana and Indiana; Honorable Mention for the Frank Nelson Doubleday Award Competition, June 2014;  Honorable Mention for a short story in the 84th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition, September 2015.
Interests: Writing, Animals, Cooking, Baking, Reading, Gardening, Knitting, Quilting, Sewing, Bellydancing, Wine, Music to name a few...

In one sentence, who am I?  When not saving the world of knowledge with my librarian superpowers, I can be found at home wrangling my codependent pets and dreaming up other worlds for others to eventually enjoy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Seasons are Changing

My dog is depressed.  I can tell when she's depressed and it's totally my fault.  Autumn has finally arrived and it's not being super nice.  Whenever the seasons start changing my animals get into these weird moods.  Percy races through the house like his tail is on fire.  Puckett starts Bogarting the couch and gets very pushy about it to the point where if I even get up for a nanosecond she has parked herself in my spot.  Willow just doesn't even care if the litter box is close enough or not, she pees on the floor if she feels like it's too far away on that particular day.

And Tess...well, Tess just gets mopey.

To be honest I'm kind of sad and depressed too, partially because of the changing seasons, and partially because of other things.  We had a rather long summer.  It's the first week of October and we've had one really nasty, cold weekend where all it did was rain.  Just last week it was still in the nineties.  Now the air has warmed up again but there is that definite shift.  It's not summer warm, it's Indian Summer warm when the mornings are frosty and cold and the evenings have a bite.  The mountains might already be getting some snow.  It's no longer warm enough for my lazy butt to get out of bed in the mornings to walk my dog and the days are getting shorter so there is very little time after work to walk either.

So Tess mopes.  I don't blame her.  As of late I haven't been much fun to be around.  My summer was weird and I just ended my latest relationship with a guy I really liked but knew was completely inappropriate.  Tess liked him too and that makes it harder.  I hate letting my dog bond with someone I know isn't going to be sticking around.  She senses my unhappiness and so she mirrors it.  We lay around and give each other sorrowful looks.  The cats look at us in disgust and go back to the food bowl or to whatever bed they are using at the moment.

It is a season of endings.

I don't care much for fall. It means the weather will start getting cold.  I hate the cold.  My garden is on its last leg and I have to harvest what has made it through the season while it's still warm enough to dig around in the dirt.  My bumblebees under the front porch are gone.  Wally and his friends have lived their circle of life and now their new queen has gone off to hibernate for the winter so she can start a new nest in the spring.  Unfortunately that new nest will not be my front porch as they usually don't nest in the same place twice.  Even my spiders are hiding out.  In the summer my house is an eight-legged party.  As fall approaches they disappear to wherever they like to winter which is probably under my house in the crawl space.  It's comforting knowing they are down there, but I miss having them to talk to.

It hasn't escaped my notice that Tess is at the halfway mark of her eighth year.  She will be nine in March.  I will be 38.  My first German Shepherd, Flag, died when he was 8.  Tess is getting older and I cannot stop it.  She has been my longest most enduring relationship and instead of enjoying her company I'm moping around the house and encouraging her to mope as well.  My friend mentioned that she wished we could just stop time and stay like this for awhile until we are ready to move on.  Ready to give up our independence and have children.  Ready to stop acting like we are in our twenties.  Ready to grow up.  Ready to say goodbye.  But we know that can't and won't happen and time marches on.  Tess is getting older and I'm getting too old to have children, to get married, to find my soulmate.

Though Tess might just be my soulmate.  In which case I am not ready to lose her.  I am not ready for her to be nine years old, moving into the canine senior years while I'm still middle-aged.

I am not ready to say goodbye.  To Tess, to summer, to Wally and his friends, to that last guy.  I want the season to last just a little bit longer and be content while time stands still.

I'm not ready for the seasons to change.