Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Kitten Fur for the Brokenhearted

Today's post is brought to you by my best friend, Candace Randall.  She has talked nonstop about her new kittens, so I finally told her to put a sock in it and write about it.

I am an animal lover.

My life is not whole without animals and I’m sure many of you can identify with my sentiment. As far back as I can remember I have almost always had one pet or another in my life, and then last Christmas my cat, Breyer, died and I’ve been heartbroken ever since. I have not had any pets in my house since Breyer passed away and a life without pets is very empty. One month after losing Breyer I decided that I was going to get my dream cat.  I’ve wanted a Bengal cat for over ten years, but I have not been able to justify the expense and I’ve always adopted rescue animals. During my search for a Bengal I contacted many different breeders until I found one I felt comfortable with.  This was not an easy decision for me and I wanted to make sure whoever I chose would be ethical and loving to their cats. After contacting this chosen breeder I was informed that all of his current kittens were already reserved, but he did have a second litter from his other queen that was due the end of February. I forced my husband to go with me to visit the cattery, view the current litter, and look over the breeding/show cats to make sure I was happy with my choice. My husband liked the idea of a Bengal, just not the idea of buying a cat.  He fell in love the moment he was able to see and touch one of the kittens, and while I did not plan it that way, I did have a good idea that if I managed to get him there he would decide we were getting a Bengal. 

 If you have never had the chance to pet a Bengal then you have no idea what you are missing out on. These cats feel completely different from any other breed of cat I’ve been around.  Their coats feel like silk.  The cats themselves are pure muscle and that is nothing compared to their personality! We put down a deposit on the litter that was due in February, and I excitedly and impatiently waited for the impending birth.

When the day finally came and the kittens were born, I saved pictures of the litter sent to me by the breeder and I showed anyone who was willing (or not so willing) to look! We waited until the kittens were four weeks old to pick one out, I had no idea which one to choose and my husband ended up picking out the kitten and he chose the perfect little guy! I never realized how much I needed animals around me until I no longer had one.  Visiting those kittens filled a hole in my heart. We got to visit the kittens on weekends as long as we set an appointment.  The breeder let us play with the whole litter and not just our kitten, but when we went to visit our little guy at five and a half weeks old it was like he already knew who his family was.  After playing for half an hour, that sweet little fur ball climbed up into my lap and promptly went to sleep in my hands. To say the least, I am in love with the little guy already, and if I could I would take the entire litter home.  Fortunately all of them are spoken for except for one little girl who managed to worm her way into the hearts of my husband and daughter.

She’s no longer available if you were wondering. 

These visits to the kittens bring so much happiness to me that I leave feeling like I’m on Cloud Nine. I don’t understand how anyone could live without the love of an animal.

Naming a pet can be serious business, and while we have not chosen the name for the little girl, my little boy finally found his name after much deliberation and hours of searching (all done by me, not the kitten). This adorable little boy is Malbec, and yes, that is also my favorite wine.  I’ve tasked my husband with naming Malbec’s sister since he seems to be so attached to her and hopefully he will have a name soon because I never know what to call her.

I still have over a month of waiting before our kittens get to come home.  To pass the time I’m buying toys and reading about training, I want to be well prepared for such a smart breed of cat so that our relationship starts out on the right foot (or paw). I still miss Breyer.  I know these kittens will never take her place, and my bond with them will not be exactly what I had with Breyer, but my pain gets better every day and I’m excited to have happy, energetic kittens in my house. I wonder what the kittens' personalities will be like as they grow up and become adults.  That’s one of the amazing things about raising a pet from a young age. One has the privilege of watching them come out of their shells and develop into furry family members who know us better than we know ourselves.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


One week away from my thirty-eighth birthday I've relapsed in all sense of the word, starting with my physical illness. My flu bug from a few weeks ago never really went away, but now the cough is getting worse. I spent Saturday night in a cough-medicine induced fog after rinsing out my sinuses because I was so exhausted from coughing, all I wanted to do was sleep.  

Of course the wedding I attended wiped me out as well. Weddings will do that.

Even twelve hours of sleep did little to cure this hacking from hell. Sunday morning I really thought I would hack myself unconscious. My chest sounded like a death rattle.  Things did not get better by Monday.  I am now convinced I either have bronchitis, pneumonia, or meningitis, depending on how bad the fever gets.  I should never Internet diagnose when I feel sad and hopeless. Soon I start dreaming up Dengue Fever or some shit like that. I had to leave work because my hair hurt and I sort of felt like I was moving through a mixture of water and jello.  It's sort of like being drunk except my skin hurts and I just want to peel it off and crawl out of it.

My negative thoughts are coming back as well, much as I try to suppress them. It hasn't been a great week. Some bad news at work, an interview in Colorado that really didn't go so well (to say nothing of the trip down there and back), and my friend with the sick rottweiler having to put her beloved friend to sleep all served to make up a truly sucky week. I try not to, but I'm always worried about work. I'm so tired of interviews, particularly interviews in Colorado, and getting rejected that if I have to make that drive down through Denver one more time I may just implode. I never like hearing about a friend losing her beloved pet. I know how my friend feels. On the heels of my Colorado friend losing her cat, this is just another in a long line of unfair life experiences that I don't understand. My friend here is a mess. Her rottweiler, Zulu, wasn't just a dog. He was her soulmate dog. Her best friend. And now she's berating herself for being so tore up about the loss of a dog and I'm trying to help her see that there is no shame in loving and grieving a special pet.

That doesn't make things easier.

Meanwhile I can't even scrape up the energy to pay enough attention to my pets, and that's where the negative thoughts creep in. I won't have them forever and I should be cherishing every moment, but instead I'm passed out on the couch, blankly staring at reruns of Law and Order: SVU.  Why obsess over something that hasn't happened yet and concentrate on happier times? But sometimes I just can't help it. I can't stop it. Tess is nine years old and she is slowing down. Not much, but definitely noticeable. Puckett kept me company the other morning, sneezing and coughing so that we sounded like a chorus  of influenza patients. Even Percy has started coughing and he has tested positive for a strain of coronovirus that could potentially kill him when he gets older. The vet just isn't sure. So far the only one who doesn't seem to be knocking at death's door is Willow.

I've been feeling so lousy that even my walks with Tess do little to cheer me up and usually running down the street singing with my dog will chase away even the darkest blues. Unfortunately I'm one of those people that once the dark thoughts catch up I get pulled under easily. My professional life seems to be falling apart around me. My personal life is doing no better. I've had several conversations and experiences lately that make me question if a good, decent, faithful man who is emotionally available and ready for a relationship even exists. I've had booty calls at three in the morning (of course I shot them down), listened to a friend complain about being propositioned by a married man (with two kids) and a man in a serious relationship (also with a kid), and listened to another friend tell me about at least three other acquaintances of his who have behaved unfaithfully towards their significant others. Then there were the two guys – acquaintances of mine – that I met at an open mic night. We were sitting around shooting the shit and both of them started hitting on me. One was married with three children and the other had a steady girlfriend that he had just finished telling me about and how awesome she is. I don't understand this. If she's so awesome why are you getting all up in my grill?

Clearly I am still attracting emotionally unavailable – and just unavailable – men.

Along with the booty calls, this is not flattering. I am not flattered or getting the shivering fits or becoming all twitterpated when attached men in serious relationships hit on me. This does not make me feel good about myself or hot and sexy. This makes me feel like some asshole just sees me as a potential piece on the side, and I have more respect for myself than to allow that to happen.

I feel the hopelessness and frustration start to set in and that only serves to piss me off. Then I get negative. So what do I do? I go to Petfinder.com because clearly I need another pet to make me feel better. I have found three potential new members of my family. One is a beautiful two year old male German shepherd at a shepherd rescue in Arizona. His profile said that he must go to a home with another dog because he loves other dogs; he gets along great with cats; but he should not go to a home with children. He sounds like he'd fit right in to my life. I have a coworker who is on the board of the Dog and Cat Shelter and also loves German shepherds. She feeds my addiction, always showing me new shepherd sites and letting me know about available dogs out there. She is a total enabler. Incidentally she also found me a puppy. The shepherd breeder here in town raises top-notch show quality shepherds, but she recently had a litter that sported a little blue female. The breeder requests a spay/neuter contract with anyone who agrees to buy this little guy because blue is not a registered color and is considered a fault. My coworker thought this puppy would be perfect for me. Female, purebred German shepherd who is guaranteed pet quality.

I'm not delusional enough to think I'm good enough for one of these breeder's puppies. As I said she raises top-notch dogs that go for search and rescue, police work, show, and other high quality activities. Cost for a puppy is more than three times my monthly mortgage. Even Tess is wasted on me. Her bloodline, personality, and intelligence would have made her an ideal drug dog. And there goes my negative self-talk. Rationally I know I'm a good candidate to own a German shepherd. I know the breed fairly well, I know how much work and exercise they need, and I know how to work with them. But my negative self-talk tells me if I were this breeder I wouldn't sell me a puppy because the dogs are so high maintenance and all I want is a pet.

That brings us to the last dog I found on Petfinder.com.  She was a beautiful two year old grey and white pit bull mix. She has the perfect face and her profile said she is housebroken, she loves other dogs and cats, and she should go to a home with no children. I thought it was fate. Then I noticed she was in Fort Collins.  I suppose I could have just swung through Fort Collins on my way home from last interview and picked her up.  Then I flu-relapsed and realized that wasn't such a good idea.

A sure sign this is not the dog for me because as I said before if I have to make the trip down to Colorado again I might just lost my marbles.

But I WANT her...

I sort of feel like a failure – with my job interviews, with finding a relationship, with even attracting decent men (or any men in general not attached to a woman lately), and with my pets. I've been feeling so lousy and coughing so much I can't even handle walking my dog for very long. Which means in my present state I am not a good candidate for a German shepherd puppy because they need three hours of walking time to drain their energy.

Also Tess has developed this ridiculous fear of the backyard at night.  I let her out at nine to go potty and she crouches on the porch next to the backdoor until I either go out to the backyard with her so she can pee, or I let her back in.  During the day this is not a problem.  I don't know what her deal is. She's probably just creating drama to get my attention since I've been living in a flu haze.  I don't blame her, poor dog.  She just wants everything to go back to normal.

Things will improve again just as they always do.  There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  I made it through last year so this shouldn't be any harder.

Unless I have a debilitating disease I haven't yet learned about.  That would suck.

I am probably canceling my birthday party this weekend, though.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Crazy Cat Lady

Who was it that told me the official number of Crazy Cat Lady status was five cats?

 I have three cats.

But I do live at the end of the block, by myself, and my last date was in August.  I was told that I'm safe of Crazy Cat Lady because I haven't made it to five cats yet, but in reality I'm an almost 38-year-old woman who lives alone literally at the end of the block (I actually live on the corner of two streets) with three cats and a dog.  Maybe I don't need two more cats.

 Maybe the dog makes up for two cats.

Maybe Puckett could count as two cats, thus giving me four cats and a dog and hitting the magic number of five.

Let's not ignore the fact that my three cats really couldn't care less if I added two more cats because they are so laid back (well, Willow isn't, but really she just follows what the other two cats do).  So if I did add two more cats, they would probably just fit right in.

I've tried Internet dating.  It actually serves to depress me more.  Honestly it's just a way to get ditched by perfect strangers rather than people you actually know.  I'm not sure which is worse.  I mean get to know me before you reject me, you know?

Okay so in fairness I may have posted a picture of the cats...

Most of my suitors in the past have told me that my three cats are rather disturbing.  One even said I have too many cats and I would be just fine if I got rid of Puckett and Willow and just kept Percy (to a guy Percy is the "cool one").  Of course, these are the same idiots who requested that should something happen to me, they should be the ones I'd leave Tess to (but not the cats).  Yeah, right. Tess is spoken for if something does happen to me, and the only person she will ever go to is the Cowboy.  Incidentally, he'd take the cats too if I asked him.  Any guy who is willing to take what they consider the "cool pets" and leave my others to languish on the vine has no business even considering a relationship with me.

The nerve of them.  Like I'd leave my dog to some douchebag.

To assume that Percy and Tess are the only ones of the four that matter is to not understand my heart. I love all my pets equally and none of them are more important than the others.  Puckett is my soulmate cat.  Willow is, well, Willow, and who are these jackasses to say I should get rid of any cat anyway?  These guys didn't offer me a diamond ring or a commitment.  Besides one cat - ONE - was planned.  The other two just sort of happened.  I'm a bleeding heart.  They are beyond my control.  I ended up with Puckett and Willow because I'm a sucker and the Dog and Cat Shelter knows it.  They are trained for it.  They see one coming a mile away and start gathering up cats that have been at the shelter too long to unload on one such as me.  Would these guys ask me to unload two extra kids if I had three children?

Only someone headed towards Crazy Cat Lady status would compare cats to kids.  I realize rationally that it is not the same thing, but I've never had kids.  I love my cats even if I periodically want to murder them (not really).  Requesting that I unload one or two is just a douchey thing to do.

It's not that I wouldn't like to find someone. I date.  When someone shows an interest and asks me. I mean, I gave the twenty-three-year-old from last summer a chance, mostly because he was cute and didn't think there was something completely wrong with me when I invited him to go see the Minions movie. I was on eHarmony and the two most eligible guys I "met" were a really great-looking guy who NEVER stopped moving and lived in San Diego (that's a little far), and a sweet person who identified as gender fluid, wore white capris to work, and told me I had too many issues to date.  I'm still not sure exactly what gender fluid is, and if one is gender fluid does it matter if the person they date is male or female?


Clearly I am doing something wrong, at least according to all the relationship blogs I read as well as the fact that all of my exes ran screaming from me without really giving me a reason why.  According to Evan Marc Katz (ha ha, very funny, even my favorite relationship blogger is a Katz), if you are a serial monogamist who keeps attracting morons, the common denominator is you.  He's not wrong about that.  None of my exes have anything in common.  They don't even have similar physical builds.  I've dated a sociopath (I'm not kidding - totally textbook), a drug dealer, a couple of ranch cowboys (including the Cowboy), an Adonis-looking firefighter with zero personality, and a Luke Skywalker/Harry Potter looking dork with conservative roots. To say nothing of the chameleon who now thinks he's a Harley guy and rides around town with a scraggly beard down to his chest and a leather jacket that says "Lone Wolf" on the back (talk about your red flags).  After much self-reflection I've realized the only thing they all have in common is their emotional unavailability, and since like attracts like, imagine my dismay and horror when I realized that I'm the one who is actually emotionally unavailable.  The dating blogs are always quick to point out everything one is doing wrong and yes, I guess I am emotionally unavailable though that is one more thing I'm trying to work on.  What nobody tells you is how to fix it.  "Yes, you are an emotionally unavailable nightmare thus your perpetual attraction to morons, but unless you put in your credit card information so we can charge you $400, we're not going to tell you how to fix that."

Don't get me wrong, I like Evan Katz. He's smart and insightful.   I just can't afford him.

Turns out it's really hard to be emotionally available when one really has no idea how to do it with humans.  The animals are no problem, thus the dangerously close to Crazy Cat Lady status.  Also, as much as some of us would like to think it, men really aren't dogs and dog training techniques don't really work on them.  Believe me, I've tried.  My dog thinks I'm the best thing since doggy treats.  For some reason men just don't share her opinion.  Again according to Evan Katz, men want to be with women who make them feel good.  My dog feels good around me.  Especially when I take her for walks and give her doggy treats.  Men apparently do not feel good around me, most likely because I'm emotionally unavailable.  If I'm emotionally unavailable but don't know how to fix it, the only men I'm attracting are emotionally unavailable men, and of course my emotional unavailability doesn't make them feel good about themselves because I'm always feeling insecure about their emotional unavailability.

And round and round we go...

Cats are infinitely easier.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dream Weavers

It dawned on me the other day that it has been months since I've seen any of my little friends wandering around my house, disposing of pests and bugs.  The last spider I remember removing from my home was Fred, my Bold Jumping Spider of two years ago.  I'm sure there might have been one or two since, but I really haven't seen a lot of spiders lately.  My house used to be crawling with the little buggers - and before you swear up and down to never set food in my house, remember that most of them are small, they rarely allow themselves to be seen by guests, and a few of them meet the fate of being a cat snack should my furry darlings get to them first.  Mostly they live under the front porch, in the back yard, and in my crawlspace.  They never bother me, they never bite, and we usually coexist peacefully with little drama.

I consider spiders to be good luck.  I fought against it for years, but I finally accepted the fact that they like me, I tend to attract them, and actually, they are my spirit animal.  Back when I still read medicine cards like Tarot cards, I always wished and prayed for something more glamorous like the wolf or the horse, but nine times out of ten I drew the spider.  Spiders symbolize feminine energy and creativity.  Contrary to popular belief they are not evil, nasty creatures that symbolize death and destruction with their venom and ability to suck creatures dry.  Spiders are patient and weavers of destiny and they can also alert one to one's darker side, to the negative aspects of their personality.

Sunday I spotted my first spider in more months than I can remember.  This pretty little guy was a Zebra Jumping Spider, a black fuzzy one with white stripes.  He was cleaning his fangs when I spotted him sitting on the glass of my kitchen window while I washed dishes.

It's always while washing dishes, isn't it, that I make eye contact with these little beasts?  First Fred and now Stripes.  Fred was cheekier though, feeling the need to hang out on my counter by the espresso machine as if waiting for me to offer him a cup.

I may come across as a nut, but I actually enjoy watching jumpers clean their fangs.  They resemble a cat washing her whiskers. Stripes ran his little front paws over his fangs several times, then lifted those two legs almost fastidiously while he twitched his fangs. He almost put me in mind of Sir Percival Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel when he'd take a bit of snuff from the movie starring Anthony Andrews, Ian McKellen, and Jane Seymour Then he ran his fore paws over his fangs again for one last polish before he crawled across the glass.  I think Stripes is a male because he's pretty small and the females are larger. Jumpers don't weave webs, preferring to hunt and stalk their prey.  The window must have presented good eating because Stripes was still there the next day, marching back and forth across the glass.  I poked his behind to see if he'd jump but he wasn't interested.  He wandered down onto the windowsill and crawled into the groove where the window slides to open.  Bugs do like to collect there so I figure there's a regular smorgasbord going on for Stripes.  I left him alone there.  I mean if he doesn't feel like jumping, I'm not going to antagonize him.

I prefer to think of the appearance of Stripes as a good omen.  The last year has been so miserable and I've done a lot of work on changing my attitude and changing my life.  Perhaps the spiders disappeared for awhile because I've been such a miserable cow.  The cats and Tess have no choice, they're stuck with me.

I've developed some new habits like performing Pilates everyday (the cats love this because they like to join in), eating healthy, writing every day, and thinking positive thoughts.  Some days I have to force myself to lighten up and think thoughts of gratitude rather than dwell on negative thoughts.  Little by little I see positive changes and things I call small successes.  I've been offered several interviews to jobs I've applied for.  It always feels good to get an interview even if ultimately I don't get the job (and truth be told I would have turned those jobs down anyway).  I've been working on revisions for my novel and exchanging my writing with another author, sharing ideas and giving each other feedback.  I've taken some writing classes.  I cleaned out my closet and dumped unnecessary clutter.  I've moved some stocks around and renewed my driver's license.  I bought myself a tea set for my birthday which is something I've always wanted.  One doesn't have to conquer the world to feel good about oneself, but one should give oneself credit for accomplishing the small successes.  Writing, knitting, quilting are my creativity.  Weaving stories for the characters I create feeds my soul.  I'm tapping into my feminine energy as well, trying to surrender more to what makes me a woman rather than closing myself off with walls and a million different locks because I've been hurt in the past.  And if this past year taught me anything it's patience - patience for good things to happen and faith that they will; patience to work on myself and fix what's broken inside me; patience for the love of my life who has yet to show himself; and patience for others who are struggling just as hard, closed in darkness and maybe fearing never to see the light.

Stripes is a good omen, and I don't care what anyone's personal feelings about spiders are. I believe they are good luck. Rather than fearing them we should take a moment to listen to what they have to tell us.  They just might lead us down the path to our destinies.

Isn't he cute?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Out with the Flu

My animals are not the most sympathetic when I'm sick.  It happens so seldom that when I actually do get laid up for a considerable amount of time, they just get annoyed with me for lying around like third base.

This last week I really got hit with a nasty one.  I don't get the flu or even colds very often, and when I do I'm out of commission for about two days before I start to make a recovery and am able to go back to work.  This last week, that was not the case.  It started last Tuesday around four o'clock as I was heading back to work for my evening shift.  By closing time my coworker was telling me to go home and drink some orange juice, and the Cowboy told me I sounded terrible.  The next day I called in.  I didn't feel completely horrible, so I figured I would be okay within a couple of days and back to work by Friday.

Nope, this bug kicked my ass and took a few names to boot.

Aside from the chills, the muscle aches, the extremely sore throat, and the fact that my skin hurts whenever I have the flu, the animals become extremely impatient with me.  Tess especially doesn't understand why I would stay home for three days and barely get out of bed.  She gives me that look like I'm some kind of lazy bastard intentionally ruining her day.  Luckily it was nice weather all those three days so she could just stay outside.  Unfortunately it was so nice that Tess was giving me the stink eye for having the nerve to be at home and not take her for a run.  In her mind, if I'm not at work, I should be taking her for long walks, especially when the weather is so nice.

There is no way to explain to the dog that when hit with the mother of all flu bugs one cannot drag oneself out of bed let alone outside.

The cats don't get it either.  Apparently I threw off Puckett's routine so badly on Wednesday that she rebelled by developing the habit of scratching for literally fifteen minutes in the litter box after doing her business.  I think she was trying to force my hand and get me out of bed.  She probably thought she was showing me, but honestly I was so out of it that I barely reacted.  Usually on a day off I'm up by eight o'clock cleaning litter boxes, feeding the cats, letting Willow out of her cage.  By nine I was still completely immobile in my bed and Puckett probably figured the longer she scratched, I would eventually have to get up.  Normally that would work if I was just being lazy.  When one is wishing for death to take her, something trivial like extended amounts of litter box scratching doesn't make a dent.  I drifted in and out of consciousness to the background music of "scritch, scratch, scritch...scratch, scratch, scratch..."  and on and on and on.

Percy performed his usual galloping through the house and caterwauling Wednesday morning which is what he resorts to when he just wants me to get my ass out of bed already.  I managed to drag myself out of bed to close the bedroom door on one of his rounds.  I was almost asleep when I heard him thunder back up to the bedroom door and pause.  It's just no fun to do the thundering elephant routine when the door is closed and I can't partake.  All was quiet after that until I woke up again around noon.  When I opened the door, three cats sat outside, glaring up at me.

Willow just avoids me.  Usually she gets up on the bed with me when I'm in it and she's not in her cage.  These last three days she gave me a wide berth like she thought my diseased nastiness would affect her somehow.  Oh, sure I just clean out her litter box and vacuum her cage daily, but she can't be bothered to come near me when I happen to be a little under the weather.

By Friday they all pretty much just ignored me.  As long as I kept the food bowls full and the litter boxes clean, they couldn't be bothered with my presence.

I can understand why the animals aren't sympathetic about my illness.  The litter boxes don't get cleaned as often, they get fed late depending on when I can manage to drag my carcass out of bed to fill the bowls, and I'm lying around the house rather than taking my poor deserving dog for a run.  No one gets any attention because it's all I can do not tear off my own skin and claw out my throat, and the last thing I want is furry critters hanging around in my face.  I'm one of those people who likes to be left alone when she's sick.  I don't like a lot of hovering and soup bringing and hand wringing, and that goes for the animals too.  They are welcome to hang out in the room with me as long as they are quiet.  But if they are going to get needy I'm just going to lock them out of the bedroom.  My pets are codependent anyway, so with them it's all or nothing.  Either they get ALL the attention or they are going to ignore me and punish me.

Between my pets and my friends who were more interested in constantly texting me the updates of all their dramas, I think the most sympathy I got from my round of flu was from the nurse at the Urgent Care Clinic, and my boss who was super understanding about me calling in three days in a row.  My mother felt bad for me too, but she's a mother.  It's her job.

By Sunday night, I lost my shit completely, dissolved into tears, and cried for two hours on the top step of my staircase. That freaked Tess out so badly that she forced her head through my elbow and tried to crawl into my lap.  Percy sat on my other side, rubbed against my side, and purred.  Puckett gave us all a look like we'd lost our minds, and Willow was already in her cage (to her relief, I'm sure),

It's nice to know when the chips are really down the animals come back around to their usual compassionate, loving selves and show some sympathy.  For awhile there, the consensus between them was to avoid me at all costs until I got my shit together and started acting normal again.

The pets are relieved to see that I am on the mend, going back to work, and on my way to being a fully functional member of society again.