A Look Back at 2021

It’s New Year’s Eve, 2021, and I remember feeling rather uneasy about 2021 when we welcomed it in last year. I didn’t feel like 2020 was quite done with us yet. I was right. I should have warned everyone, but little good it would do us because, well, people…

It’s been a weird year. We gained and lost friends, held lots of Zoom meetings (which I actually love!), planted a garden, reaped from the garden and dug it all up again. I applied for job after job after job to no avail. I found that I was 1 in 300+ people who’d apply for the same job and it’s disheartening, so I quit doing it. I’ll get back into it again. I have other things in the pipeline too that have kept me occupied. After the Zoom era of meetings, we started to tiptoe back into the great unknown and attend a few meetings in person (I’m still not a fan). We haven’t yet been to any movies, theatres, concerts, malls, or anything like that. We have ventured to a few local restaurants, but mostly restaurants with patios. We have only been to 1 brewery in 2 years! Now you KNOW we are serious about this!

Greg’s business did very well, and he closed the year off with a record year. I’m so proud of him. He’s worked very hard and is finally reaping the benefits. He’s got all the clients he can handle right now and he’s in a good place. It took over a decade. Hopefully 2022 will continue to keep him afloat and be good to him.

The cats had a good year too. They got to have their mom at home all day, every day. They approve!! Each of them had their turn at the vet for their annual shots and checkups and bloodwork. All did very well except for weight issues. Aggie needs to gain weight (at least a pound or 2), Bear needs to lose 2-3 pounds and Sylvester needs to lose about a pound. We are working on it and have changed diets drastically, spent a fortune on a new microchip feeder for Aggie to protect her food and stop the boys from inhaling it. So far, we are having mostly success. Bear goes for his 3-month weight check up in the first week of 2022 so we will see what his vet has to say about that. We took Sylvester off his asthma meds to see how he was progressing, and he did well for about a month and then the coughing started again. So, we have him back on a tapering course of steroids and will transfer over to an inhaler as I work with getting him comfortable with it. I never tire of talking about our cats as they are great entertainers.

There has been a lot of sadness this year, more so than joy. We’ve lost friends and family (not only to Covid). I almost don’t know what to say anymore. We remained proactive and made sure that we got all the vaccinations that were available to us and I’m proud to say that we are both fully vaccinated. In addition to the Covid shots, I also had the flu shot and my 2nd pneumonia shot. My arms are full of potentially virus busting muti! I’m so tired of debating the vaccination issue, the masking issue, the inside/outside issue, and just the entire Covid issue. I just put it down to “I don’t want to get sick” so don’t judge me. This is what works for me. I don’t like having allergies/hayfever, so I certainly don’t want Covid.

I rediscovered the joy of knitting and have started to make mini penguins. I think they are cute, and they may turn into something at some stage. Knitting them is no problem. Sewing them together requires a talent I don’t possess! I truly am my mother’s daughter!

What I wish for you in 2022 is that it’s not “20-20-2”. I wish for peace, love, tolerance, patience, joy and most of all, health. It’s been a rough one for a lot of people. Please be kind to one another. There are so many who are seeing this New Year in without their loved ones or friends. It takes nothing to zip your lips and just listen instead of trying to spout off your beliefs and righteous indignation.

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
–John Rutter, Celtic Blessing

Many blessings to you all!
Happy New Year!

Cat Sitting

In the last month I’ve had the privilege of looking after a couple of friends’ cats. One cat I know pretty well, and he is familiar and comfortable with me. The other cat I just met for the first time, and she is very timid and skittish and not happy that I’m there instead of her family.

I’m no expert, but I do love cats. We have 3 cats of our own – each very different to the other. Aggie (13) is our diva, the tiny princess with the loudest voice and opinions to match. She hates her brothers! Sylvester (11) is the social charmer, the “southern gentleman”. Everyone loves Sylvester and he loves everyone. Bear (12) is scared of every noise and every sudden movement. He’s the most lovable of the 3 and a big snuggler and by far the loudest purrer!

Dealing with cats is exactly like dealing with children. You love them, entertain them, feed them and give them a loving and warm environment to live in. They will reward you with the occasional lap-sitting experience, fling litter all over the place, shed all over your furniture, throw up immediately after you’ve fed them (but making sure it’s in a camouflaged area so that you step in it first) and destroying your furniture with their claws. Despite all that, they give you just enough love, purrs and entertainment that make it all worthwhile.

We have provided our cats with giant cat trees, houses, windowsill shelves, a bajillion toys, catnip everything, regular vet visits to maintain their health and wellbeing, lots of love and attention, and an array of cozy blankets and throws in every room in the house. They are spoiled rotten! I can’t resist items with cat pictures on them. I believe I would turn into a cat if I wished really hard.

So back to the guest cats: The first one, who I will call “Dollar” is a feisty, all boy cat. He loves to play and hunt and chat. He loves to be brushed, loves his perches and watching birds and squirrels in the trees. I show up to feed him and he greets me with a small “mew” and then weaves himself in and around my legs while I get his bowls ready for food. He likes treats. A lot! He also likes catnip, but it doesn’t rule his day. I have a lot of fun with Dollar, and I know he likes my company because he will jump up on my lap and “make biscuits” on me while purring and we’ll have a little chat about life in general.

The second cat, who I will call “Flower” is very timid and skittish and she made me work hard for her approval. Flower comes from a cat-happy family who dote on her. She likes to hide in quiet, cool and dark spaces. I developed a ton of patience trying to coax her out from under a bed or out of a closet. She is food-motivated and treats and catnip won. She likes to do things in her own time and makes me hunt for her when I arrive at her house. I’m pretty sure she watches where I go and then hides exactly where I’ve already checked. She won’t come out to eat breakfast or dinner while I’m there, but the food is always gone when I go back. I started “marinating” a couple of toys in a catnip bag and used them to buy her affection. It worked! We slowly progressed to her playing with the catnip toy under a bed while I watch, to me laying out a path of treats out from under the bed and finishing with a treat on my knee. She works her way through the treat path and ends with the one on my knee. I get a quick head butt from her, and I’m allowed a quick stroke before a quick hiss and a scramble back under the bed.

Just like us humans, Flower is a morning cat. She doesn’t have a lot of time for me in the evening’s but is ready for me to give her some attention in the morning. I always let her know when I’m leaving and sometimes try to hide for a few minutes to see if she will come out and see if I’ve really left. By the end of the time I was looking after her, she would meet me at the front door when I arrived and flop over onto her back for me to stroke her. I didn’t get a purr out of her, but I got lots of friendly meows. She finally let me brush her and give her full body strokes. She was very happy to have me hang out with her and keep her company. I actually missed spending time with her once her mom and dad returned. I may have to go back for a play date!

My last day with Flower was spent with me oozing myself into a tiny closet where she’d hidden herself because there was a storm brewing, and she was scared of thunder. I feel like I didn’t quite finish off our time together.

If you’re a cat person, you will totally relate to this blog. If not, just insert “dog” where you see “cat” and maybe it will make more sense to you. Either way, we love our pets dearly and they truly are part of our family.

A new way of life!

It’s been an interesting last 14 days since getting terminated from my job. The Board at my old job handled the termination abysmally and exceptionally unprofessionally. No one can possibly ever take them seriously and I certainly will never be donating any money to them!

But, on to nicer things:

My life is constantly comprising of gardening, cleaning the house, playing with the cats, and writing. It’s been a good thought-emitter and rather cathartic for me. I’m naturally a home body and very house-proud, and to be honest, the last 3 ½ months of being “stuck at home” did not for one minute feel like I was “STUCK” at home. No, I didn’t go out. I did what I was told and stayed the heck away from germy people (and still do).

I’ve had a few chats with my neighbours over the fence. Unlike Tim from “Home Improvement” we can see each other’s faces and have enjoyed many a chat during the hot afternoons.

I’ve had a few Zoom meetings and even a few Zoom happy hours which have been nice. Greg is back at work under strict rules, that he created for himself and his clients in order to stay safe. He is taking it very seriously and I’m very proud of him for staying on top of things.

My garden has done pretty well this year, no doubt due to fact that I was here 24/7. I’ve babied it a bit and although it’s a lot of hard work that has to be done early in the morning due to the heat and humidity, I’m happy with how it’s turning out. I’m currently in the “hurry up and wait” stage where I just have to wait for the veggies to ripen and grow. It’s frustrating because I “need” those tomatoes and potatoes to hurry up. I don’t want to have to BUY veggies when I have a perfectly good crop halfway ready to eat. Weeding is an on-going hassle, and by “on-going hassle” I mean a total pain in the patootie! Everything hurts after weeding day! Being home all the time also means that I’m able to water the plants whenever they need it and not necessarily on a schedule they don’t need.

Hands up all those who’ve tried to cut their hair! (insert hand high in the air!) I gave it a shot and now I permanently wear a ponytail! I did however complete a successful colouring, but I have been doing that myself for years, so it doesn’t really count. I’ve always admired the creativity of hair stylists, but now my admiration is soaring. My hair will probably just develop an attitude of its own and take on the form of a rabid alien beast. Oh wait… looks in the mirror… never mind!

I took care of a few projects around the house which I’m very pleased with. I painted the laundry room. I’ve been wanting to do that for years but never had the time or inclination to do it. Also, it meant moving the washing machine and dryer out of the way, which is a thorn in Greg’s side. But, we moved them, and I painted and painted and painted. The walls are outside cement walls in the basement. First, we scrubbed the walls and then vacuumed the walls. We had to wear masks when doing that and the air was choked with dust and we were filthy (and wheezing). I vacuumed into the floor joists in the ceiling too and sucked up a few dead critters! The walls soaked up EVERY splotch of paint I threw on it – and I literally did “throw” paint at it at times. The wall was so porous and sort of holey that I did more dabbing than painting. I sealed it with the undercoat and then painted on top. It didn’t cost us anything because I have a lot of leftover paint. It took several days to complete but by the time we put everything back in place it was looking 100% better and I’m very pleased with it. No more disgustingly filthy cement walls. Now they are slightly off-white-ish and clean.

Oh, I also hand washed my car. It doesn’t sound like a big deal and something I should be doing regularly anyway, but I don’t. I’m not super bonded with my car. I feel it’s too big for me and things are in the wrong place for my liking. I’m 5’3” and the car is built for a man, or at least a 5’9” person. I was quite pedantic about cleaning it and ended up scraping tree sap off it and cleaning in between parts that you can’t see but I know are there. It took me an hour to vacuum it out too. I polished the inside and sprayed nice smelly stuff inside. I never keep any trash or, well, anything in my car so it was a relatively easy clean. I must admit that it did shine nicely for the 2 days before the rains came! Now I’m back to not being bothered about it again.

I also accomplished a lot of other smaller tasks and threw away a bunch of stuff I still have no idea why I was keeping. I still have more sorting out to do, but for now I’m busying myself with some writing.

I’ve done quite a bit of reading lately too. Due to being rather absent-minded and distracted I’ve been focusing on cozy mysteries that are quick reads. They work well when insomnia strikes. We have also been binge-watching some shows on Netflix/Prime/Apple TV. We are into shows that have video description for the blind and Netflix does a pretty good job of that. Right now we’re are 1 ½ seasons away from completing Breaking Bad. I’ve also been watching Grantchester. We found out that the new season of Umbrella Academy gets released on July 31st so we’re bookmarking that. Hopefully we’ll be finished with Breaking Bad by then if we work hard at it.

Usually this time of year we head up north for a few days to Greg’s mom, but we don’t want to risk taking any viruses with us nor coming back with any, so we will stay home and eat here!

I think there’s some truth in the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Things sure have changed, but those changes become familiar and they become the new “same”. COVID-19 has changed us a lot. Missouri is dealing with an increase in new cases every day and it looks like there will be a new rule enforcing mask wearing. Why would you not wear a mask anyway? I think it’s kind of sexy and people have been so creative with the material and patterns that they use for home-made masks. Please do me a favour and just wear the darn mask when you’re out. Why would you risk getting sick? I lost too many people I cared about last year to put anyone through that because of carelessness or ignorance.

Oh hark! I believe I’m hearing the theme song to Magnum PI. That’s my cue.
Peace y’all!

Cats are smart!

Cats are really smart. Whether you like them or don’t like them, they are still smart. Ok, let me expand on “smart” in this context. We have 3 cats: Aggie (12), Sylvester (11) and Bear (12). We’ve had Aggie and Sylvester since they were kittens, and we inherited Bear from a dear neighbour who passed away several years ago.

When we first got Aggie we went to see her at our vet, held her, bonded with her and she purred and nuzzled up to us and we couldn’t wait to get her home. The vet told us that she’d been returned to them twice as she didn’t get on with their other pets (a sign we should have paid attention to!). She was roughly 12 weeks old! She is a grey and white tabby. We got her home, opened the carrier and she shot out of it like a bullet from a gun. She took off at top speed around our apartment, leaping over couches, under couches, over the bed, in and out of every room. I would have loved to have had a radar gun to measure her speed! We were gobsmacked. Where was that loving, purry, nuzzly kitten we’d just held? We hadn’t even sat down yet, we just stood by the door and took it all in. We grew to love her though – a lot. We named her Agatha CATrina because her approximate birthday falls on the day Hurricane Katrina hit – how apt!! We lovingly refer to her as Hurricane Aggie. Aggie has been through everything with us and yes, she is spoiled rotten! We moved into our house in 2009 and after a settling in period, we decided that she needed a friend. It had taken her 2 ½ years to start to calm down!

When we were ready for a 2nd cat I went back to my vet and told them we were ready! The next day I got a call “we have some kittens that you might want to look at” so I hot footed it over there to check them out. The vet is located next door to my office. Sylvester was estimated to be about 7 weeks old. It was the first time I’d heard the term “tuxedo cat” and he was true to form. Big green eyes, long white whiskers, big ears and a tiny black and white body. I fell in love immediately, went home to get Greg, took him to the vet and once again, as soon as he held him, there were purrs and snuggles and Greg was sold. He came home the next day. He was a boundy, playful, social, cute-as-a-button darling. Aggie immediately hated him! We kept him secluded in the spare room for a few days while Aggie hissed and growled outside the door. Sylvester didn’t care. He’s everyone’s best friend. On “meet up day” we opened the door and Sylvester bounded out and leaped down the hallway to investigate his new home while Aggie wailed, hissed, scratched and yelled at him and us. She refused to be near us, went off her food in protest and was determined to make us pay for bringing in another cat. We were mortified but determined to make this work. After several months (ok at least a year) Aggie finally realized that Sylvester was no threat to her great Alpha-ness. He has no desire to be a boss. They are not necessarily friends, but she will tolerate him and doesn’t get all huffy if he’s around her.

Fast forward to 2014: I used to take care of a dear neighbour’s cat when she went on vacation and ultimately when she got sick and was in hospital. After her passing her cat was still alone in her house while her family was sorting it out and I would still go there twice a day and feed him and play with him. After a while of doing this we discussed with the family that we’d take Mr. Bear (as she called him) and keep him with us until we could find a good home for him. Well, it’s 6 years later, so I guess he found a good home! Bear is awesome! At first we had him in the spare room separate from Aggie and Sylvester. Aggie went into defensive mode and hated him immediately. Back to hissing, growling and yelling outside the door (but this time we were on to her antics). Sylvester was so excited. He definitely sensed Bear’s pain and grief and camped outside the door quietly. After several days we opened the door and Sylvester shot inside. He jumped up on the bed and he and Bear started at each other, nose-to-nose for about 10 minutes not moving, and then they both jumped down and disappeared under the bed where they sussed each other out for about half an hour. After that, they came out from under the bed and have been best buddies ever since. At first Bear was definitely grieving the loss of his previous owner and his move from his old house, so Sylvester snuggled up next to him to keep him company. Bear never really learnt to play but now that he is with us, he’s developed an ardent love of the laser dot. He is the most lovable cat ever. He loves to snuggle and just be with you. He has the biggest, deepest purr ever. He’s not big on exercise, but he loves food in any shape or form, so he’s a big cat. Aggie was not at all happy about the addition of another cat. She and Bear are constantly vying for Alpha-ship. Aggie thinks she’s the alpha but in reality, Bear is the alpha. She has never accepted him and still growls and hisses at him. They have agreed to disagree, and we have a fairly calmish family.

Cats are smart! I sometimes feel like I have a school yard of kids. They all want attention, then they all don’t. They all want feeding, but they want what the other one has even though it’s exactly the same. They all want to play with whatever the other one is currently playing with, until they get the toy then they don’t want it anymore! People ask us why we don’t have or want kids. Who needs them when you have cats! They have regular birthday parties and we sing happy birthday to them. There’s cake and candles and presents. They celebrate Christmas with us – yes they get presents under the tree. We have conversations with them and they answer us. They do need jobs though!

Yes, cats are smart, but not so smart as to make us think they need jobs!