Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned thirty-nine on Sunday.

And, yes, I feel old.  I'm one year away from forty.  And suddenly people start yapping at me about wasting time, having a "vision," and either shit or get off the pot.

Apparently what I'm currently doing is not enough.  I'm a thirty-nine-year-old librarian who lives in a four level town house with three annoying cats and a slightly neurotic dog.  Apparently my life has no meaning unless I'm working towards "something."

What is that something?

Who knows?

Suddenly, because I'm almost forty I need to start having a "vision" (I still don't know what that means), and California Guy and I should stop screwing around, sell our properties, move into a suitable joint property that rakes in a ridiculous amount of equity to start "planning for the future."

What future? We could all be dead in ten years.

Being almost forty has me realizing that the thing I should be working towards is making myself happy because people forget you ten minutes after you die, if they even remembered you while you were alive.

For example, ten years ago I had a ton of friends, people liked me, I was out dancing all the time, and guys hit on me constantly.  There were several times in the bars and at the rodeos when I was told I was "the hottest girl there."

Five years ago I had a regular posse and guys still hit on me.  Several exes still phoned.

Now, my posse has all but disappeared.  They've either moved away, had families, or just plain moved on.  I have a great boyfriend, but I had to work to find him.  I found him on Match, and before I joined Match, it had been two years since I'd had any decent dates, let alone prospects, and only lunatics seemed to hit on me.

Now, it's the dog who gets all the attention.  We took a walk for the first time in months on Sunday and no less than three groups of people stopped to stare at Tess and comment on "that beautiful German shepherd."  Children came up and asked if they could pet her.  Other dog walkers gawked at Tess while we walked by, commenting "Beautiful dog!" or just trying to roll their tongues back in their mouths.  I imagined them looking at their dogs with envy, wishing they were just as lovely.

You know the song "A Guy with the Girl" by Blake Shelton?

I'm the "Girl with the Dog."  People don't even notice me anymore, but they are drooling over my ten-year-old German shepherd.  Her birthday was in March too, and even though she's getting older just like me, she seems to be getting noticed more.

So what's the vision?  Trying to stay relevant?  Saving for retirement?  Remaining a cataloger and steward of neurotic animals?  That work isn't meaningful enough?  Eight months of dating is long enough that California Guy and I should ditch caution to the wind and just move in together? (In his defense, he has more cause for caution given that he's been married before and it ended badly.  Me, I'm just a pussy when it comes to change).  My string of deadbeat boyfriends and bad dates has resulted in a pretty great guy and the consensus is that I need to fasten a ball and chain to his ankle STAT so he doesn't run away.

At least that's how people are making me feel.

If you have a stallion eating oats out of your hand, you'd best close the gate before you give him the sugar.

It's like suddenly I'm almost forty and people are panicking on my behalf over my finances and love life.  Meanwhile I'm thinking, "Dammit, I have three novel series I need to get going on and publish or it'll keep gnawing at me until I explode."  Or else, "Dammit, I need to open that chocolate shop/gluten-free bakery/wine bar because I've always wanted to open my own business and create a hangout for my no-longer-existent friends."

And yes, sometimes I miss the days of when I was the hottest thing in the room, the one every guy wanted to talk to.  I was jealous of my dog on Sunday.  That picture of me from when I was twenty-three?  It's moldy.  And that adorable little assistant I just hired?  She IS twenty-three and cute as a button.  She reminds me of me in my first part time reference assistant library job.

That WAS me.

All I wanted for my birthday was wine and cake.  I wasn't expecting a lecture of, "So you're almost forty.  When are you going to stop screwing around and act like it?"  And I definitely wasn't expecting the birthday present of a younger, cuter version of me for an assistant, reminding me of what my life used to be.  Of course that was my own fault, since I hired her.

And while we're on the subject, why isn't wine and cake a good enough vision?

I did get wine and cake, so I got my birthday wish. Okay the cake was a bit iffy there for awhile, but i managed to slap something together.  The wine was the best wine made by grapes.  I went ahead and ordered half a case of the wine for a gift to myself.  And I got a Kitchen Aid for my birthday present (California Guy is pretty awesome).  I also have the most beautiful German shepherd, a pretty great boyfriend, some good close friends, and a nice family.

Screw you, vision. I'm good here.

Birthday Wishes

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Things Are Not Always as Great as They Seem

It's been a week of realizing I'm not as smart as I think I am, I'm not as talented as I think I am, I'm definitely not as flexible as I think I am, and things just aren't working out like I think they should.

Just ask Percy.  He knows what that's like.  Now.

My darling Percy just discovered that that wild, crazy, unreachable dream he's had - going outside - is not as amazing and over-the-rainbow as he thought it was.  For years now he's been a pain in the ass come spring because he just thinks he should be allowed to be an outdoor cat.  All my cats are indoor cats.  I've never had an outdoor kitty for the mere fact that it is a pain in my ass to have one.  Outdoor cats stay out all night, get into fights over territory, wander through other peoples' yards, thus pissing off the neighbors, and wreak havoc on the ecosystem by destroying birds and small mammals.  They also wail constantly at the door, wanting either out or in, depending on which side of the door they are sitting; and they sometimes develop litter box aversion because they want to go outside and pee under a bush.  They can also get fleas and other parasites, and I don't want that in my house.

It's just easier and less of a headache for me to keep the beasts indoors.

Percy, however, does not believe this is fair.  He is constantly trying to give me the slip and sneak outdoors.  The Cowboy says every time he pet sits, he has to chase Percy at least three or four different times out the door to bring him back.  Usually he slips out the back door and runs down the stairs to hide under the deck.  Sometimes he goes out the front door and tries to get under the car or the neighbor's porch.  Usually we manage to catch him before he gets too far away.

Now with the weather slowly getting nicer, he's getting more insistent.  The last two days have been between sixty and seventy degrees so I propped the backdoor open, leaving the screen closed, and let the sunshine in.  Percy sat by the door desperate to get outside.  Every time I went outside to mess around in the backyard or give Tess her bowls, he tried to slip out.  He becomes a wild one too with nicer weather - spring fever.  He starts racing through the house and digging with increased energy in the litter boxes.  And he does his loud caterwauling bit in the mornings and when he needs to use the box.

He's annoying in the spring.

So I decided, okay, you want to go outside so badly, let's do it.  When I first adopted Percy I also bought him a little harness and leash so I could take him to the vet.  He liked wearing his little harness.  As he's gotten older, however, he's gotten less enthusiastic about wearing it, and that is my fault because I stopped putting it on him.  It's easier to stuff him in the cat carrier and move him around that way.  Sunday I got the harness and leash out, and told him we were going to go outside with Tess to check out the front yard.  If he wants to go outside so badly, we can arrange that, but he's going to be on a leash so I can keep track of him.  Percy is a nice cat but he has zero sense of self preservation.  He thinks the outdoors is his personal playground without knowing anything about speeding cars (he'd probably get himself hit) loose dogs (they aren't all as friendly as Tess) and other cats who are bigger, tougher, and more experienced than him (he'd probably come home one night missing both ears and his tail).  His zero sense of self preservation comes out in all the crap he tries to eat and his overwhelming need to ingest anything resembling a ribbon or string (particularly dangerous because it can twist up a cat's intestines and kill him).

I have to cat proof my home.  I can't cat proof the outdoors.

We went outside, and for fifteen minutes, Percy was inquisitive, curious, and excited to be investigating this mythical unicorn known as the outdoors.  He did pretty well on his leash too.  I had to pull him around a little bit, but for the most part he caught on pretty quickly.  He did try to scramble under the townhouse next door where their foundation has fallen, and I had to pull him away several times before he got the point that that is not allowed.  Then he flopped under the tree and started chewing on the grass.  He rolled through the garden and tried to eat the onions.

One minute he was blissfully enjoying the sunshine, and the next a truck roared by and scared the ever-living beejesus out of him.  He freaked out and tried to bolt under the neighbor's porch.  I grabbed him and he struggled like hell was after him, clawing welts into my arms and shedding fur all over me.  I wrestled him to the ground, held him, and stroked him for a bit until he calmed down.  He was calm for a minute.  And of course a second truck roared by.

Utter chaos.

I managed to get the hissing, shedding, scratching bundle of terrified fur under one arm and carried him to the front door.  I opened the door and shoved him through.  He ran downstairs immediately and disappeared under the couch.  All I could see was a blue leash poking out from underneath the couch.

He stayed there and pouted until I pulled him out by the leash just so I could take off his harness. Then he slunk back under the couch and stayed there for awhile.

Somehow I think it's going to be some time before he's in an all-fired rush to get outside again.

In the spirit of having our asses handed to us, I discovered that I'm not as smart as I think I am at my job - apparently I can't wear all of the four hats I've been given in the last two weeks.  I also am not as talented as I thought.  Every word I've written lately has been crap, and reading articles on writing and publishing are doing nothing to boost my confidence.

And then yoga kicked my ass.  I've always thought given my belly dancing and Pilates that I was fairly flexible.

Yoga has taught me otherwise.  Fifteen minutes of practicing "Beginning Yoga" and stretching left me breathless and feeling extremely out of shape.  Doesn't help that my thirty-ninth birthday is just around the corner, and that my digestive system seems to reject everything that is yummy.  To say nothing of the fact that I found several pictures taken of me when I was in my twenties.

I was so cute.  And thin.  What happened?

I mean, I can't eat anything.  How am I gaining weight?

I look nothing like I did in those pictures, and I've been under the impression that I haven't changed much over the years.

Yeah right.

The mythical unicorns of youth, talent, and "the world is your oyster" are not as we thought they were.  Youth is not eternal.  We are not vampires.

Even the outdoors can't live up to their hype.  Life just isn't fair.

My cat is so disappointed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Playtime for Kitties

My cats have become unbearable.

Kicking litter everywhere, waking me up at six in the morning (either by kicking litter everywhere or galloping through the house, squalling), getting into stuff they shouldn't, eating my plants, scratching my wood railings, playing with my chocolates...

The list of transgressions go on and on and on.  The verdict is in, and the verdict is "Guilty" of a hundred counts of obnoxiousness.

So, I thought that maybe the kitties are bored out of their skulls (and probably mad at me for leaving them so much lately) that they needed some new, fun things to keep them occupied.

I actually have a toy box for my cats.  It's filled with rubber balls, jingle balls, catnip mice, loose catnip, a fishing pole toy, and a laser pointer (I know, I know, not so great for cats, but they actually love it, and they always get a reward at the end of a session).

When Percy wants to play with something he just gets up on the edge of the box and knocks it over. Then he pulls whatever looks interesting out and starts batting it around.  One of his favorite toys (besides the loose catnip, of course) is this little suction cup, spring loaded thing that pops up into the air.  I can amuse him for hours sending that thing into orbit and he loves to watch it fly into the air.

Willow doesn't bother with the cat toys since she has taken to getting up on my table and pawing chocolates out of the jars to play with.

Clearly, however, these toys are not enough.  There are all kinds of fun things in that toy box, though most of them have ended up under the couch, but the cats must be getting bored because why else would they start getting into trouble?  So, of course the logical solution to too many toys that have become boring to kitty is to buy more toys.  I went to Petco and cleaned up.  I got them a wind up mouse, some crinkle balls, two grass plants (so they stop trying to eat my plants), and a crinkle tunnel.  I also plan on ordering them a new kitty tower, and possibly two or three so I can disperse them throughout the house.

Percy and Willow love the crinkle tunnel.  They've been playing in it since I got it and they've left the chocolates alone.  Percy went to town on the cat grass, and even Puckett showed some interest in the crinkle tunnel when everyone else was upstairs.  She thought we weren't watching, but we were.  I saw her dive into one end and slide through to the other, popping her head out.  Percy soon noticed and shot downstairs to join in the play.  Puckett might be a little big for the crinkle tunnel, but she still manages to fit.  Percy is also a little obsessed with the windup mouse.  He doesn't care that it moves, he just likes to swipe it up in his paw and chew on it.  I covered it in catnip and Willow pounced on it, wrapped herself around it and kicking it with her hind legs.  It was so cute.

I have since learned that the secret to keeping cats happy is to alternate their toys.  So I give them a few each day, put those away, and then put out some different ones.  We actually created a new toy out of some old ones that Percy really got a kick out of.  I put some small rubber balls in a Frisbee and spun the balls around.  Percy watched with interest and then batted the balls all over.  I also have to put away the crinkle tunnel occasionally so they don't get bored with it.  There's one more toy I have my eye on, though.  It's a "kitty pad" that lights up.  It blinks lights all over it and the cats can pounce around on it, or just lay on it and nap.  That will end up being Puckett's favorite, I'm sure.

Even Tess got in on the fun.  I bought her a new squeaky bone/ball.  It's colored like a tennis ball but shaped like a bone.  And it squeaks all over.  When she gets in the mood, she'll be squeaking that thing until I'm ready to climb the walls.

Toys seem to be the thing my cats love the best.  Except for Puckett.  She loves sleep.  None of my pets are food motivated, which I find very strange.  Percy, of course, loves to eat and he bothers me constantly when he wants his food bowl.  In the mornings he'll scream at me until I get my ass in gear and go downstairs to fill his bowl.  Willow throws her fit at five in the afternoon when it's time for canned food.  But when it comes to toys, they'll drop their food to play with something.  None of them really take treats.  They prefer their toys.  Tess is the same way.  She is definitely not food motivated, and while she likes treats, she is more easily trained when the reward is her favorite bone or a stuffed toy.

The toys have worked at least for now.  Sunday was the quietest they've been and Percy didn't even kick half the box of litter out of the box and strew it across the floor.  We all sat in the living room, me writing and watching The Monkees, and them playing with their toys and periodically snoozing.  Percy and Tess traded toys.  Tess got into the Frisbee/rubber ball game and Percy attacked Tess' squeaky bone.

Of course that didn't stop any of them from demanding their dinner.  I don't know if I can blame the toys or daylight savings time, but they didn't start demanding their food until I went into the kitchen and opened the cabinet door to get their bowls out.

They would have missed dinnertime due to bouncy balls and squeaky bones.  Wonders never cease.

Percy playing peek a' boo with the crinkle tunnel.


Then Willow got into it.

Cup of coffee, please?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Strange Habits of Cats

My cats have developed some weird habits since I got back from vacation.

To be fair, they are weird anyway so any new habits would probably be considered weird.  They are cats after all, and cats are weird,

I have noticed in the last few months that Willow has become a lot more confident.  She used to be this twitchy spaz who freaked out over everything and deferred to the other animals, going so far as to give Puckett a wide berth.  She still respects Puckett, but she no longer has issues walking past her or walking up to her, and if Puckett stops to sniff her, she doesn't freak out.  She gives Percy the business if he bothers her too.  She used to run away from him.  Now she actually fights back.  She's slapped his face off a few times, and the surprise on his face when this happens is pretty comical.

Like, "How DARE you??"

Willow just shoots off and gets as high up as she can to avoid any possible pummeling.  She might have more confidence, but she's not stupid.

Well, sometimes she is kind of stupid, but that's another story.

When I got home from vacation I noticed that aside from thinking it's okay to whittle my railings down to a toothpick, Willow has also decided that prancing around on the kitchen table whenever she feels like it is also acceptable.  My cats are not allowed on the table, because, well, ew.  I know where those paws have been.  And there is already a perpetual supply of cat hair in my food.  I can keep the amount down by keeping the cats off the table and the counter tops.

The Cowboy lets them do whatever they want, I'm fairly certain, because every time I come back from vacation it takes a couple of days to reprogram them back to "Stay off the furniture!"

This time, it's taking a bit longer.  I've caught Willow several times on the table now, and it's not something she can hide because the table creaks and groans every time she jumps on it.  It's old, it makes noise.  She tries to be sneaky and quiet about it, but she's gained weight and it's not working to her advantage.

She does use the table to get out from under the prancing, oblivious paws of dogs stampeding through the house.  Tess takes a little more care than Surina, but Surina has no respect for anyone or anything so she just bowls over everyone.  She's like a bull in a china shop the way she shoves people aside, stomps on cats, and barrels through the house.

I'm about to toss her into a lion cage.

Willow decided to take matters into her own paws.  She's not a lion, but she puffs herself up to near bobcat size, jumps on the table, and smacks dog noses as they get in her face.  It usually doesn't matter which dog has offended either, she'll just slap the nearest nose.  She went after Surina the other night and slapped her face because Surina got too close.  Puckett just disappears, but Willow will not be pushed around in her own home anymore.

Definitely more confident.

The other thing I noticed about her and the table is that she seems to think it provides her with new playthings.  I keep several jars of Dove chocolates on the table for decorative purposes (and also tummy purposes), and this past week I've noticed several of them around the house in strange places.  Then the other night I caught Willow batting something around.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a Dove chocolate.  She's been getting on the table, pawing chocolates out of the jars, and pushing them to the floor where she bats them all over like a jingle balls.

I can't even get mad at her, it's so cute.

I spent money on catnip, jingle balls, fuzzy mice, and God knows what all, and their favorite toys are tin foil balls and Dove chocolates.

Meanwhile Percy has become obsessed with water.  Actually he's just obsessed with the bathroom. He even plays with the sponge I leave on the edge of the bathtub.

Every morning this last week I got in the shower, and halfway through my shampoo I heard a loud scream and a black head popped around the curtain.  It's become a weird ritual.  Percy sits on the toilet mumbling and growling, then shoves his head around the curtain, and as soon as the water hits him he screams, glares at me like it's my fault, and pulls his head out.  Then a second later he does the whole thing again.  The water sprays him in the face, and I guess he doesn't care for that.  Yet, he knows that's going to happen.  The whole point of the shower is the water spray, and he's a smart cat. He knows there's water running in there.  So I'm not exactly sure why he tries to get in the shower and then gets so mad when the water hits him.

He sounds really angry too.  His cry borders on hostile while he glares at me with accusing eyes.

I started laughing every time, and I swear he got even more butthurt.  He wrinkled his nose, glared at me harder, and just yowled.  One morning I just collected a handful of water and tossed it at him.

I'm pretty sure he's going to kill me in my sleep.

It's the funniest thing.  He seems to take it personally that I'm in the shower without him. and he seems to think that I'm allowing the water to hit him on purpose.

Yes, Percy, the bathroom's reason for being all centers around you.  And how dare I allow water to spray you when I get in the shower, because clearly the only reason I shower is for your amusement.

I never said my pets made sense.

Cats are weird.

Puckett has glued herself to my bed since I got home.  She gets off the bed only to eat and use the litter box.  When Surina comes over, I don't even worry about her trying to get on the bed.  There is no way Puckett would ever allow it.  She even gives me the hairy eyeball when I get in bed.  One would think a full-sized bed would be big enough for one small person and a slightly overweight cat, but Puckett positions herself so strategically that she takes up the whole bed and I have to contort myself just to fit.

If I accidentally kick her I'm pretty much taking my life in my hands.  She's going to kill me in my sleep too.

The only one who hasn't developed a weird habit is the dog.  She just sleeps a lot.

Almost like SHE'S the cat.

Maybe that's the weird habit she's developed.  Turning into a cat.

Percy judging me in the bathroom.

Willow annoyed in her box.

Does Puckett need a drink??