Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Old Criley Part 1

I smelled the horseflesh, hay, and manure on the afternoon breeze as soon as I jumped out of my old, blue Ford.  I stared at the foothills looming behind the postcard-pretty ranch. Most ranches don't look like what you see in the movies, but this one might have been the set of the last episode of Heartland.  
I watch entirely too much Netflix.

I removed my sunglasses and scanned the horizon, frowning. My pit bull puppy, Trip, trotted around, sniffing eagerly through the grass and tripping on his over-sized paws.

“Sam Guerin?”

I turned to see a middle-aged cowboy striding towards me, flanked by a woman his age and an elderly man wearing a straw cowboy hat and well-worn boots.

The cowboy stopped in front of me, hand extended. A stiff smile froze on his face, but I could feel his eyes taking in my silver gauged earrings, my arms inked to the elbow, and my mess of dark hair.  I was used to being judged for my appearance.  I wore my mistakes on my body for all the world to see, and that was my choice.  I wanted people to know exactly what they were getting, and that I was no longer hiding anything, but I also ran the risk of being rejected based on my looks.  I deserved that and I accepted that, even if I was no longer that person.

It did bug me a little, though.

“Mr. Michaelson,” I said, taking the cowboy's hand and flicking my bangs from my green eyes. “It's nice to meet you.”

“Your father speaks very highly of you,” Mr. Michaelson said in a tone that suggested doubt. A few months ago, his doubt would be warranted, but Dad and I buried the hatchet.  Mr. Michaelson eyed me, then Trip, and gestured to the woman and elderly man with him.  “My wife, Suzanne, and my ranch foreman, Sam Criley.”

Suzanne took my hand in her small, delicate one and smiled. Criley stared at me with bright, faded blue eyes before turning his head and spitting a wad of tobacco into the grass.

I liked him immediately.  More so since we shared the same first name.

“Thanks for letting me stay,” I said. The old cowboy glared at me, unsmiling, but he didn't intimidate me. “It's only for a night. I'll be out of your hair by morning.”

“No problem,” Mr. Michaelson said. “This your dog?”

“Trip. He won't be any trouble.”

“Your father said you're traveling south?” Mr. Michaelson asked.

“Colorado,” I said. “I can't exactly put my horse up at any hotels.”

Mr. Michaelson turned to Criley. “Criley, take the horse to the barn and get him set up for the night.”

“Her,” I said as Criley headed to the back of the horse trailer hitched to my truck. “Her name is Promise.”

“Come on up to the house for some dinner,” Suzanne said, reaching out to me. “Then we'll get you settled in the guest room.”

I glanced back as Trip and I followed the Michaelsons up to the ranch house. Criley was patting my little bay mare fondly on her neck, and she nuzzled his shoulder. The old cowboy's slivered face relaxed into a smile as he stroked the white star between Promise's eyes.  I smiled to myself and headed for the house.

After a shower and dinner, I decided to go out to the barn and check on Promise. A bite in the night air promised a frost, so Criley had brought all six of the Michaelsons' horses in for the night. I heard Promise's distinct whinny as soon as I stepped into the stable. A row of horse heads bobbed over the half stall doors as I walked down the corridor of the stable, each nose begging for a scratch. I patted nose after nose until I got to Promise's room for the night at the very end of the stable. I reached up to scratch her between her ears, and offered her a handful of carrots pilfered from Suzanne's kitchen. Promise crunched her treats happily, slobbering drool down the front of my T-shirt.

A coal-black horse in the stall beside Promise snorted and stuck her head over the stall door, nodding at me. I reached out to pat her soft nose and offered her some carrots as well. She gobbled them up quickly and snuffled against my palm with her soft lips, asking for more.

“Hey, you're a looker,” I said, running my fingers through the black strands of her mane.

The horse snorted and poked me with her muzzle.

“And a beggar,” I said with a laugh.

“That's Lady Guinevere.”  A voice startled me out of my own thoughts. I spun around to see old Criley holding a pitchfork. “Miss Anna's show horse.”

I patted the black horse's satiny neck. “She's beautiful,”

“Three time national champion in juvenile western show,” Criley said. “The young miss has been showing since she was ten.”

From what I could tell at dinner through the blushes and giggles, "Miss Anna" was now about sixteen. Beautiful, but definitely jailbait. I was civil, but kept my distance. I'd had enough trouble with the law to last a lifetime, and more than enough trouble with women.

“Prefer the horses do you?” Old Criley asked as he rubbed Lady Guinevere's ears. “The horses to the young ladies.”

I grinned. “Wasn't always that way,” 

Old Criley stared at me with his shrewd eyes. “Safer that way, though."

"True," I said.  "But I wasn't always into safe, either."

"Something happened to you,” he said. “Something devastating.”

I shrugged. “Promise isn't really my horse.  She belongs to my girlfriend.”

“And where's your girlfriend?”


Old Criley nodded. “A hurt like that makes it hard to attach yourself to people. The animals are easier.”

No argument here, I thought. My most constant companions of late were Promise, Trip, and my crazy cat, Strumpet.

“Well, have a good night, young man.” Old Criley turned and strode off, whistling softly under his breath.  I watched him go before turning back to the horses, giving them a final scratch and treat.

Back in the house I approached Suzanne Michaelson as she cleaned up the kitchen.

“Need help?” I asked.

Suzanne looked up smiling.  “Can you dry dishes?”

“Sure can.”

Suzanne tossed me a dish towel and I dried as she washed.

“What's the deal with Old Criley?” I asked.

Suzanne paused in her dish washing. “Did he say something to you?”

“He seemed to know more about me than I let on to most people.  And we just met."

“He does that,” Suzanne said. “He can read people. He can read animals better, but he has a way of looking into your soul. He's been Henry's oldest and most loyal employee. The horses have the best care, and none of the other ranch hands give us any trouble when he's overseeing. When the girls were young we'd leave them in his care when we wanted to go out for a night or even for a weekend. We trust him with our horses' lives, and our children's.”

I nodded as I picked up a plate to dry.

“He doesn't have much of a life outside the ranch," Suzanne continued.   "No children of his own, no wife. Prefers the animals."  She handed me the last plate to dry.  "I do know that he used to drink a lot. When he was in his early twenties, he worked as a ranch hand for another ranch. He and several of his friends decided to have a party in the barn. They drank too much, probably got high, and someone started a fire with a lit a cigarette. Three of the kids died in the fire including Criley's girlfriend, and all the horses in the barn at the time. I think four. The firefighters managed to get him and the other three kids out, but no one could save the horses.”

“That's awful," I said. I knew all too well the consequences of drinking and getting high.

“Well, he never drank again,” Suzanne said. “He's been sober as long as he's worked for us, about twenty years.”

It hit me that Criley could be me in forty years – a recluse who kept to himself and preferred the company of animals. I, however, had my own reasons for preferring solitude, and it wasn't because of death.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


I discovered two things this week.

  1. There is a wine fairy.
  2. When the tummy ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

It's been a quiet week on the pet front. More of the same, really. Percy has taken to scratching in the box for a million years even before he takes a dump. He woke me up the other night at two in the morning, scratching, scratching, scratching. When I got up later that morning, half the box of litter was all over the floor, so that's his new trick. He gets in the box and digs like he's going to China. Then he does his business, or sometimes doesn't even bother, and then digs some more like he's trying to get past China.

We've taken to shooing him out of the box when he's finished eliminating. Leaving half a box of litter on the floor is just not an okay habit.

Willow continues to be, well, Willow. That includes throwing a fit in her cage at seven in the morning, demanding to be picked up and cuddled constantly, and demanding her canned food throughout the day, not just in the evening that is the only time she actually gets canned food.

Puckett has been awfully friendly lately. She had a snugglefest with California Guy this weekend, and then another snugglefest with me Sunday afternoon.

Tess finally got to go for a long walk again now that my tummy is feeling better - a story I will touch on in a minute. That makes her happy more than anything, the poor dog. She also noticed that I'd been cheating on her on Friday, as I had the nerve to pet another German shepherd. The nerve of me.

Surina is her usual self. She has learned that whining when she is outside is not acceptable, and that has tapered off though she was caught sacked out on my bed the other night and got into serious trouble for that one. She's like a teenager. Just when you think she gets it, she doesn't, or she pulls some other disobedient rebellious stunt that lands her in the doghouse again. To add insult to injury, they were brand new sheets that had just been washed and I did not appreciate the dog hair on my duvet.

Anyway, the animals are their usual selves. Nothing different at Casa de Codependent Pets.

I, on the other hand, have discovered the wine fairy. This weekend I found a bottle of wine I don't remember buying, I don't remember receiving, and not something I would normally buy. The brand is a red blend I've never heard of, but I generally don't just buy a red blend unless I either like the bottle or it's a brand I've already tried and loved. I was sorting through my wine rack, and as I've had tummy trouble lately I haven't really been drinking. I've had a little white wine that I keep in the fridge, so I haven't paid much attention to the wine rack, but I know that this bottle wasn't there a couple months ago. My best friend in Colorado doesn't remember it, and the last few times I visited her I flew. I know I didn't bring a bottle back on the plane. I didn't buy it in Texas either, and California Guy says he doesn't remember it. He didn't give it to me, or buy it.

I am befuddled, so all I can say is there is a wine fairy who decided to smile down on me. Hopefully it's a good bottle. I'm always open to trying new wines.

My other lesson for the week is actually so obvious it's embarrassing that we as Americans don't really think about it more. For the last month and a half I have had serious tummy issues. Everything I tried to eat destroyed me. I was perpetually bloated. In my early thirties I was flat as a board in the tummy department, going so far as to have ripped abs. I always worked out. I walked my dog for three hours. So these last couple of years I cannot figure out 1.) where my energy has gone, 2.) where this bad attitude/depression came from, and 3.) why am I gaining weight?

Turns out everything starts in the gut. Doctors treat our symptoms. Pain, difficulty sleeping, post-nasal drip, acid reflux, and on and on and on. I'm not an advocate for pharmaceuticals unless they are absolutely needed. I believe most things can be fixed with lifestyle changes, diet, and exercise.

I eat a mostly clean, organic, whole food diet. Yes, there is some wine and high quality chocolate, but no gluten, processed foods, no fast food, and definitely no soda or artificial sweeteners. Why the hell am I gaining weight and look four months pregnant?

To make a long story short, it turns out I have low stomach acid. Low stomach acid causes acid reflux and can cause a whole bunch of other symptoms like post nasal drip, a scratchy throat, a perpetually upset tummy, and an overfull feeling when eating (even avocados and salmon which is what I was living on). Fatigue, loss of appetite, possible weight gain (how does that work, no appetite and yet one still gains weight??), sluggishness, foggy mind and inability to concentrate. Oh, and also irritability. I have been a bitch lately, and I know it. I just can't seem to stop it. The problem with all these symptoms is that they are the symptoms of a host of other medical issues, so it is really hard to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. For awhile I thought I had colon cancer. Okay, not really, but I did think this was just my stupid stomach and I was stuck with it. Irritable Bowel Syndrome along with gluten intolerance, and I play Russian Roulette with my mood depending on whether my stomach is okay with whatever I've put in it that day. My general practitioner gave me Nexium to treat my tummy trouble, telling me I have acid reflux. My naturopath physician told me to scrap that shit and take HCL. I tossed the Nexium, and while the HCL worked a little, it didn't fix everything. It helped after meals so that I didn't feel like I wanted to puke after every little thing I put in my mouth. The bloating was still there, and the acid reflux still happened.

Lots of bubbling in the esophagus.  

So of course, as one does, I went online. I can't seem to rely on doctors. When I had my hormone imbalance I was told by five different doctors that there was nothing wrong with me and it was all in my head. People lose hair all the time. Hair goes through a cycle where it will all fall out and then grow back in.

I knew my hair and my hair cycle. Losing half my hair density in six months was not normal. It wasn't falling out in patches, leaving bald spots either. I could just run my hands through my hair at any given time during the day and suddenly it was raining strands. My shower drain was clogged every morning. I know how much I hair I lose on a normal morning. That wasn't normal.

My lowest point was the endocrinologist I saw who said my hair was growing in just fine, as she could see the new growth all over my head, and she didn't know what I was complaining about or why I was wasting her precious time. She sent me home with a condescending sneer and no mention of a follow up appointment or treatment.

That's when I found my naturopath doctor in Boulder. She figured out that my hormones were imbalanced, put me on bioidenticals, and within three months my hair returned to normal. I felt better in other areas as well, some areas I didn't even realize were an issue.

Anyway, it's no surprise that when I developed these ridiculous tummy issues, I didn't bother with mainstream medicine. That's worthless. I like three of my doctors. The nurse practitioner at my gynecologist; my dentist; and my dermatologist (now; the first one was one of the doctors who told me there was nothing wrong with me when I lost my hair).

This time it seemed as though nothing was helping. So online I started researching low stomach acid. I decided to try some treatments, including probiotics and bitters.

Within two days the bloating disappeared, my stomach felt a hundred times better, and my appetite returned. I even felt well enough to take my dog for a walk, something I haven't felt like doing in months. When one doesn't feel good, one does not want to exercise.  My stomach has actually been flat again. I don't know if it's the probiotics or the bitters or both, but apparently when one's digestion isn't working properly it causes a chain reaction of other issues that affect every single part of the body. An inflamed stomach is a cranky stomach, and when the stomach is cranky you'd better believe it's going to make the rest of you cranky.

This is not to say that one can stuff oneself with all the junk in the world and supplement with probiotics and bitters. And I will say that the bitters taste exactly like that: bitter. It's disgusting and not for the faint of heart. I still have to stick to my clean, organic, whole food diet. I still have to watch my intake of alcohol and chocolate. I still can't eat gluten, preservatives, or fast food. And two days isn't going to fix months of issues building up. All I know is that my stomach feels better, my mood has been lighter, happier. No depression, no negative feelings, and no bleak outlook on the future. I enjoy my food again and don't dread it, and I feel like exercising.

Will this last? I have no way of knowing. But if it does, then I'm a believer that a balanced stomach is a happy stomach. And a happy stomach is a happy person. After two days I'm nowhere near to being cured, but I do know my stomach feels better.

No wonder Percy was so cranky when he had tummy issues. Since I've switched him to ID he's been a happier kitty and the canned ID has made a world of difference on Precious' tum-tum.

Why is it so hard for doctors to admit that the stomach - the core of the human body where all the nutrients are processed - has an affect on the entire body? And why is it so hard for people to believe that whatever one puts in one's mouth will have a direct affect on how they feel and function?

Maybe the fact that it's so simple is the problem. Nothing can ever be that easy, I suppose.

Life in general isn't that easy, but we keep at it. We keep going. We keep trying. Occasionally we find an answer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

To Breed or Not to Breed...

The idea of being a mother has been recently presented to me.

In the first place, I'm not even sure it's possible given my age and my hormone imbalances.  When I joined Match.com and Zoosk.com months ago, I put on my profile that I wasn't particularly interested in having children, though I would with the right person if that's what they wanted.  I also wasn't particularly thrilled about raising or helping to raise someone else's children.  Not because I don't like children, but because the problem with most children is their parents, just like the problem with a lot of pets is their owners.

I like my life the way I like it, and I know this about myself.  I'm too much of a control freak to have my life controlled by someone's babymama, which is why I generally steer away from dating fathers. The children should come first anyway, and I'm not very good at sharing.

I have had several conversations with friends in the past when they expressed an interest in getting a dog or cat but had all these stipulations and things they would not put up with.  That's when I stepped in and gently asked, "Are you sure you really want this pet?  A dog is going to pee on the floor occasionally and shed; a cat is going to scratch the furniture and make a mess in the litter box; and if you have so many friends visiting that are actually allergic to cats and you don't want them to be uncomfortable, then maybe a cat is not for you, even if you really really want one."

I myself get very, very tired of cleaning out litter boxes every day, but this is the life I signed up for, and I will do it.  A pet isn't really a living, breathing stuffed animal.  They do have needs and those needs need to be met everyday.  Sometimes fifty times a day, but I digress...

Animals are not here for us at our convenience, but when they become an inconvenience they should go away.

The same goes with children, and I have asked myself seriously, is this something I really want and am I willing to rearrange my entire life in order to best care for a baby?

I had pretty much resigned myself to a kid-free life.  When I first met California Guy, he was on board with that as well.  He seemed to have no interest in children, and punctuated this on our second date when he literally jumped sideways away from a child running at him as if he was afraid he'd catch something from it.

He told me later he just didn't want some strange kid running smack into his legs and getting yelled at for stranger danger.  From my point of view it just looked like someone completely horrified by children and avoiding them at all costs.  It was quite comical to watch, and the look of horror on his face was even more comical.

So imagine my surprise when recently he started making noises about wanting a baby.  Particularly wanting a baby with me.

I'm not anti-baby but I look at my brood of four and think, "How on earth is there room for a baby in this mess?"  Rehoming any of the animals is not an option.  I will not be one of those people that allows as soon as the baby moves in the dog moves out.  They were here first, they have shared close to ten years with me, and they are not going anywhere.

California Guy feels the same way about Surina, so this makes five animals; two adults; and one potential baby. 

I haven't even had the kid yet and I feel sorry for it.

My animals are so used to being spoiled rotten and being the center of the world, I'm not sure how they'd react to a baby.  As soon as there is a baby, the animals will automatically move on down the totem pole.  The baby will move into the spot of being the most needy member of the family, expecting the most instantaneous care, and Willow may not get her canned food right at five o'clock when she loudly demands it.

As for Surina, well she's screwed.  She's needy, pushy, and the worst attention whore, next to Willow, of course.  She will be banished from the couch, the bed, and the baby's room; she will not be allowed to sprawl across any laps while Baby is being held and fed, and I already told California Guy that I will not take kindly to her pushiness when I'm holding and/or carrying Baby.  I cannot have a pushy beast shove past me on the stairs and send me flying when I'm carrying an infant.  That can only end in tears, and possibly murder.  And I won't have her getting in my face when I'm trying to feed Baby either.

I also worry about the cats.  Percy and Willow will want to sleep in the bassinet.  They are obsessed with any new kind of sleeping spot, especially if it's soft and warm.  I love my pets and I don't believe that crap about pregnant women having to give away their cats because cats suck the breath from babies and other such nonsense, but I also know that it is not good to let the cat sleep with a newborn.  And especially not two cats.  I also don't want cat fur all over the baby's clothes and bedding.  That stuff itches me, so I'm not going to put a baby through that.

So now we are up to three animals having to dramatically change the way they live their lives.  No dog on the furniture, no cats in the bedroom or the baby's room, and definitely no animals around the baby while feeding or changing.  Mealtimes may come a bit later too, especially if I have to feed Baby and am momentarily incapacitated.

Also, pregnant women aren't supposed to clean litter boxes, and I'm a litter box cleaning Nazi.  If they don't get cleaned three times a day the cats will be PISSED, and I will suffer because I just hate dirty litter boxes.  That's why I clean them so much.

Puckett will sulk and disappear under the bed at the audacity of adding a tiny wailing human to the ensemble. I may never see her again.  She definitely won't appreciate being usurped as the "favorite."

I have a feeling Tess will be the only one okay with this.  She loves anything added to the pack and immediately becomes attached and protective of it.  I feel sorry for anyone going near that baby with Tess around.  She'd probably start tearing faces off.

So once again I seriously ask myself this question.  Is a baby conducive to mine and my pets' lifestyle?

Well, it's definitely not conducive to the pets' lifestyle since they believe that they are the center of the universe and my life is but to serve them.  It will be a rude wakeup call when something else moves in that demands to be even more the center of the universe, and is noisy and smelly on top of it if it doesn't get its way.  A little competition for Percy right there.

As for my lifestyle, I can adapt.  I just really don't think California Guy realizes what he's in for.

This baby is going to need therapy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Professional Poop Wrangling

If you are a pet owner, I'm going to tell you right now that you're two best friends are bleach and vinegar.

Not Oxyclean carpet cleaner, not some kind of pet stain remover miracle worker.  Not Swiffer.

Bleach and vinegar.

The main benefit to bleach and vinegar is that they are cheap in bulk.  I own three geriatric pets and one that likes to pee on the floor.  I clean a LOT.

My morning ritual goes something like this: 

Step 1:  Clean Litter Box 1.  This takes roughly ten minutes because Percy likes to scratch the litter until he's demolished the convenient little clumps the litter creates, thus rendering the whole idea of clumping litter moot.  So then I get to sift through the litter over and over, scooping out every last tiny clump I can find in an effort to minimize the spread of ick.

Step 2:  Clean Litter Box 2.  If Puckett has gotten to it first then all I have to clean is one pee clump and one pile of poop.  If Percy has gotten to it then it's more of the same in Step 1.

Step 3:  Clean Litter Box 3.  Some mornings it's empty.  Some mornings Percy is P'O'ed at the fact that Puckett beat him to one of the first litter boxes and has peed and pooped in it, scratched the litter into a mound in one corner, and sprayed litter all over the floor around the box.

Step 4: Clean Litter Box 4.  This is Willow's litter box in her cage.  Usually there is only one pee clump in it, and therefore fairly easy to clean.  Also, wonder upon wonders, Willow has actually been pooping in one of the other three litter boxes, and even more wondrous, I've actually caught her peeing in a box downstairs (something she hasn't done in years since Percy started attacking her when she would use the box).

Step 5:  Return downstairs to where the first two litter boxes are and vacuum the pile of litter surrounding both boxes.  Soak a paper town full of bleach and wipe down tile.

Step 6:  Return upstairs and repeat Step 5 around the third litter box.

Step 7: Sprinkle Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh in all four boxes.

This whole process takes me half an hour.  It is mostly repeated two or three times throughout the day.

Keep in mind, if you are thinking of adopting a kitten or a cat, this is not a normal routine for normal pets.  Most cats are fairly easy to take care of.

My house is small enough that I don't have an extra "mud room" or laundry room where I can banish the cats and their boxes, and I refuse to have a litter box in my closet (GROSS) in order to keep it hidden.  Also, there is no room in the bathroom.

The appropriate solution here is to a.) keep covered litter boxes in an attractive, carpet-covered box that seconds as a scratching post; b.) keep one or two litter boxes on the top floor of my house under Willow's cage where no one ever goes; c.) toilet train the cats; or d.) outlive the three cats and then never again collect so many cute, furry, killers that poop in a box under one roof.

Covered litter boxes don't work with my cats.  Puckett doesn't fit,  Percy is claustrophobic. Willow is deathly afraid of getting trapped in one and then attacked by Percy.  I can't keep only two litter boxes in my house as is demonstrated by Percy who has his routine of eating breakfast and then pooping in one box, then promptly getting in the second box and peeing in it, and then going upstairs to the third box and peeing or pooping in it as well.  I know enough about cat behavior to realize that this is territorial behavior. Forget toilet training the cats.  With as much as they poop and pee I'd never get a chance to use my own toilet if I was constantly waiting for a cat to finish its business.

Plus Percy would get all territorial about the toilet.

Outliving the cats appears to be my best option.  I have at least another six or seven years.

For the record, Mr. Territorial Percy doesn't actually need to use three litter boxes in one day.  When he was an only cat, I had one litter box (ah, the days....how I miss those days), and he did just fine with it.  His hogging of litter boxes only sends a message to the other cats.  Puckett does not care about his message and will proceed to use the box anyway.  She has even sat in a recently cleaned one and used it as a bed one night to drive her point home.  Willow usually restricts her litter box usage to the two upstairs.  The one in her cage is small and only her tiny butt fits in it so the other cats avoid it.  Although, Percy has tried on occasion to force himself into it in order to assert his insistence that all litter boxes belong to him.

He is beginning to get frustrated at the lack of respect regarding litter boxes, and he demonstrates this frustration by becoming increasingly zealous in flinging litter everywhere whenever he uses the box.

This morning, for example, there was a huge puddle of litter sprayed across the tile floor around the boxes downstairs.

Thus bleach and vinegar.  I bleach the floors around my litter boxes twice a day.  I also bleach the boxes every day.  If I'm changing the litter completely, I dump everything and sanitize the boxes. Otherwise I take a paper towel soaked in bleach and wipe down the sides of the boxes and all around them.  Thank God I pulled the carpeting out, not only because Willow was peeing on it beside the box (yuck), but also because, not only can you not get cat pee out of the carpet once it's there, litter doesn't vacuum up completely either, Dyson or not.  Gravel gets stuck in the fibers.  The vinegar comes in handy here.  There is one spot in the carpet that Willow peed in that I have not had a chance to yank up yet, but I discovered that a cocktail of vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda have worked wonders on it.  For problematic cat pee spots try:

Step 1: Soak the carpet with vinegar.  Pat with a towel to suck up some of the moisture and then let dry for 24 hours. I left my backdoor open next to the spot, and it was in the middle of summer.  If you don't have that option, turn a fan on it.

Step 2: Dump apple cider vinegar and lemon juice on the spot.  Let dry again.

Step 3:  Dump baking soda on the spot (a LOT of baking soda, like the whole box) and leave it for a week.  No, I'm not kidding. 

Step 4: Vacuum the baking soda.  Repeat as necessary.  It is important to let the spot dry between soakings or you'll get mildew.

Meanwhile keep the cat away from that spot with tinfoil.  Do NOT use a towel or rag over it, your cat will just pee on it too.  As for keeping kitty from peeing on the floor entirely, I've tried every trick in the book on Willow and all that worked was crating her with her own litter box.

And after all that, I'm still not done with the cleaning.  There is a backyard full of dog poop to clean at least once a week, but usually more like twice a week, especially when Surina comes to visit. 

But at least the backyard doesn't need to be bleached.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

You Can't Go Back

You can't go back.

This is a fairly obvious and logical statement, but its amazing how much we as humans think we can relive experiences and find duplicates of the loves of our lives in an effort to keep the illusion of a high that can only last for a little while.

I found it rather fascinating how much Paul McCartney's second wife, Heather Mills, looked like his first wife and love of his life, Linda. Now I don't follow Paul or the Beatles that much, but it was widely known that Paul and Linda were very much in love and had some kind of fairy tale marriage (if that exists). While I'm sure they had their ups and downs, and Paul was probably understandably hard to live with (being a rock star and a musical genius), their love is the stuff dreams are made of.

Or so I've read.

Paul and Heather's marriage was apparently full of vitriol, and their divorce even more so, with Paul admitting the whole marriage was a mistake from the beginning.  Well, duh, Paul.

Now I don't know if the reason he fell for and married Heather Mills was because she looks like Linda, or if that was just a big happy coincidence for a grieving man who had just lost the love of his life.  After all Linda died in 1998 and he met Heather in 1999.  But either way, sorry, Paul. You can't go back.

Incidentally, the third wife looks nothing like Linda or Heather.  Hopefully he's happy with the third wife. But at any rate, that's not really the point.  Or maybe it is, especially if he is happy with her.

After my three-legged cat died, but before I adopted Percy, I had another cat for about five months. Micky died about six months after I adopted Tess.  That was when I decided to get serious about adopting the black cat I always wanted.  This personal wish has been going on since I was a kid. Actually when I adopted Mindi, my Himalayan, my parents had given me permission to adopt another cat, and I was looking at a little black cat at the animal shelter.  I happened to get sidetracked by Mindi, at first because she was so beautiful, but then mostly because she had one of the best kitty personalities I've ever experienced.

But I digress.  Mindi sidetracked me from my true desire, a black cat.  But I didn't care, because she turned out to be my soul mate.

After Micky it happened again.  I went to the animal shelter to find a black kitty and this time got sidetracked with Mindi's doppleganger.  The cat looked exactly like Mindi, if maybe a bit darker, her fur more silvery.  Same face, same blue-point color scheme.  I was dazzled, so I took her home and named her Angel.  She did kind of resemble an angel, and she was sweet in her own way.

Unfortunately she was completely terrified by dogs and hated Tess on sight.  She had a chronic cough and sneeze, and she spent most of her days in the living room hiding under the couch. While she looked like Mindi, she was nothing like Mindi. Mindi loved dogs (she lived with a German shepherd too), and she was a snuggler who followed me everywhere and liked to sit on laps.  Angel liked to hide, hated dogs, and while she didn't mind me petting her, she wasn't exactly a lap cat. To be honest I adopted Angel because she looked like Mindi.

But you can't go back.

We are naturally drawn to that which reminds us of what we love most.  We watch movies with our favorite actors, buy all the albums of our favorite musicians whether the albums are good or not.  I'll buy anything Bryan Adams records even if the album will never be as good as Waking Up the Neighbors, and I'll watch Clash of the Titans and Avatar for the sole purpose of watching Sam Worthington even though they are probably two of the worst movies ever.

It was a bit of a wake up call for me when I showed a picture of the Drug Dealing Felon to a mutual friend of mine and August's and my friend said, "He looks like (August)!"  I stared at him in horror and asked, "You see it too?"  I thought it was just me and I was being silly, but there was always something about August that I couldn't quite put my finger on. He didn't exactly look like a younger version of the Drug Dealing Felon, but there were mannerisms, certain facial expressions, and the fact that he called me "Cutie" just like the Drug Dealing Felon.

There is, of course, the difference that August is still a nice, decent person who I think fondly of while the Drug Dealing Felon can fall into a volcano for all I care. August still has the desire and inclination to make something of his life (something legal), while the Drug Dealing Felon is a lost cause.

Five months didn't help Angel to get used to the dog or to ever come out from her hiding place in the living room.  I had to keep her litter box and all her bowls down there, and she never ventured upstairs, not once in five months.  Her condition worsened too. I took her to the vet several times and she was finally diagnosed with both kennel cough and feline herpes, two upper respiratory infections that were inhibiting her ability to breathe.  The kennel cough could be treated, the herpes was chronic. One morning she went into such a violent fit of coughing, that she started struggling to breathe.  I got her kitty carrier to rush her to the vet and she died in my arms.  I think her tiny little body just gave out.  She wasn't a big cat, after all, just skin and bones and fur.  Sadly, this reminded me of Mindi as well, as she died of lung cancer of all things.  By the time she passed on, she too was all skin and bones and fur.  Lung cancer made no sense as no one in my family smokes, and I'm pretty sure the house was free of radon or air pollution.

As I said, you can't go back, and you can't recreate the love of your life.  You can appreciate what you had, reflect fondly on memories, never stop loving them, but you have to move on to something new.

After Angel died I got seriously serious about getting my black cat, and this time I took my time to find exactly what I wanted.  I found Percy a few months later, and he checked every box I had except for being male.  I wanted a black, shorthaired, young female cat with green eyes.  Percy had it all, he just happened to be male, and when he jumped in my arms and started purring, I didn't care that he was male. He'd chosen me, and I took him home.

Several years later when I met my second cat soul mate, Puckett, I realized that Mindi is gone forever and she can't ever be replaced.  You can't replace a loved one, you can only bid them farewell with a tear and some dignity and hope there is another love waiting for you.  It won't be what you expect, and it won't look like you thought it would, but it'll be just what you need when you need it.  Puckett doesn't look like Mindi, not even close.  She doesn't have the same  personality. Neither does Percy. California Guy doesn't look or behave like the Drug Dealing Felon (thank God).

That's the thing about love. It doesn't get used up like a bowl of sugar, with only a finite amount to give out. There's enough to go around, but it's our choice not to be stingy with it. We don't have to protect an old love so fiercely that we blind ourselves to a new love.

You can't go back.  But you can go forward, and you may find something just as special, or maybe even better.