I'd Better Write It Down Before I Forget


Owned By Cats

It's been so hot the last week, at least we got a break yesterday from the 90+ weather, but today it was back up into the mid-80s again. This hot weather this time of year isn't good for anything. It just makes flowers spindley and vegetables mealy and fruit ripen before it gets to full growth. We haven't had any rain for weeks, it keeps missing us here. (I'm knocking on wood, though, because I don't want a 4-5" cloudburst.) It's suppose to get up to 90 again on Monday, but by the end of next week the weather people are hinting at a cool down.

The cats on the deck don't take the hot weather very well. They either stretch out as far as they can to expose every inch of skin, or they curl around the big containers of flowers on the deck (I guess that's cooler). One of them goes to sleep out amongst the pepper plants in the garden. She gets a scare, though, when we have to turn on the sprinkler to water the garden.

Randall and his kin have been flying in and out of my life daily. Absolutely amazing birds. I still leave them leftover bread. I've noticed, however, that they're keeping a close eye on the cats outside. I don't know whether one of them threatened Randall or not. I find it a slightly amusing thought because Randall is about the same size as most of the cats on the deck. He's a big bird.

Lenny the llama is once again back in the pasture nearest me. He and his entourage (the 2 goats) get moved from pasture to pasture every few weeks. He still ignores me when I wave at him, but I think he secretly likes it. At least I can dream, can't I? :)

Elly May (the collective word for any 'possum that shows up to eat at the cat bowls on my deck) hasn't shown up lately. I imagine I'll be seeing her nightly again probably the end of next week when the weather cools down. Right now she has a lot to eat in the woods, I imagine.

My indoor kitties are doing OK. Johnny and Wonderful were having problems with itching (not fleas or mites, but allergies). I've been giving them some benedryl and that helps a lot, but they hate it. I even tried the bubble-gum flavored kids liquid benedryl and they hated that even worse than the 1/4 pill that I wind up pushing down their throats. But it only takes about 1/2 hour and they stop itching. Don't try this on your pets, please, without the advise of your vet.

I had a little trouble with Bobby, he decided that he hated the living area carpet. He would run across it and jump on the nearest chair or sofa or even the fishtank (on top of the light cover, of course). This daunted me for a few days until I noticed that his claws were in need of clipping. We clipped his claws, front and back. That's all it took, now he just walks over the carpet like it's an old friend. I guess he didn't like his claws sticking into the carpet, even slightly.

Oldsir has been busy with the flowers and the garden. He also volunteers over in the next town over at the old folks home.

I quit canning when the weather got so hot. I'm giving away tomatos, eating tomatos, making fresh salsa, you-name-it. I've started cutting up the banana peppers and freezing them. I've also been cleaning the house top to bottom again so we can go away for a week in September. Our friend, Dale, will be taking care of our house again. This will probably be the last time he kittysits for us because he's moving down to Gulf Shores, AL, full time.

I'm so sorry to see L D leaving IRC. I wish she would stay. (Hint Hint, L D, just take a break for a couple of weeks and then come back, OK?) L D, in one of her other incarnations, was the first person to pm me here and make me feel welcome. She's helped me in so many ways, she even took my picture of my little Peanut and made it into my avatar for me. She has a special place in my heart.

Chelle, I feel for you. You're going though hard time now. But trust me, the hard time won't last forever. You and Tardis can live happily ever after if you trust in yourselves independently and then dependently.

Figmo, I still enjoy your journal. You make me smile. :)

Seabrook, please pm me again. I'd like to hear how you're doing.

There are many, many more of you that I care about. I hope you all know who you are. I do. :)

Take care, be good, if you must smoke then smoke one for me because I do miss it.

Things to remember: The hot, humid awful days of baleing hay. We had a thresher and a baler, but we had to be out there with the wagons and machinery in the fields on the hottest days of the year. It had to be the clear, hot (if not humid) days because the hay should have the least amount of moisture possible to make a good bale. The chaf and dirt would stick to us, we'd be sweating and the chaf would itch. It got in our hair and eyes and ears and even under our toenails even though we were wearing boots. The flys and bees and wasps would swirl around and occasionally sting us or bite us. We'd put up with snakes and woodchucks and gophers and just about anything nasty. It usually took 3 days, twice a season, to bale the hay from our farm. But after we were done, my mother would make us homemade ice cream with fresh blueberries or huckelberries on top. My dad would bring home bags of peanuts. My folks tried to make it up to us for the 3 days of hard, hot work that we all did (Ma and Dad also were out there with us baleing.) We were all in it together.



Owned By Cats
Good Night.

I read the new rules of the board about journals. So unless I hear differently, this will be my last post. I don't want to cause any animosity and by leaving maybe I can leave people with some pleasant memories of me, rather than outstaying my welcome.

I want to thank Mullaney for the use of this site for the last year or so. I hope to come back and just read how everything evolves in respect to people's careers and future.

I will not be starting a new journal elsewhere. I can't do this again because I know I'll never find a spot like I found here ever again.

I've met some absolutely amazing people here: L D, Chelle, Tardis, Figmo, Reverse, Tango, Dano, Rich, Nomdeplume, tenth, snert, Gypsy, Sugar, Seabrook, Mattie, Deb, Thorn, and a host of others. Thank you for your wisdom and wit and patience.

I'll be living my life the same as I have for the last several years: quietly and far away from the madding crowd. I'll be here with my oldsir and my animal friends.

Leaving here feels like a small death.

Things to remember: Be kind to one another, please. Remember your manners and smile once in a while.

Thank you.



Owned By Cats
Pride and Prejudice

oldlady said:
I read the new rules of the board about journals. So unless I hear differently, this will be my last post. I don't want to cause any animosity and by leaving maybe I can leave people with some pleasant memories of me, rather than outstaying my welcome.
Posted by Mullaney in the wee hours of the morning, this morning, in Eastern Daylight Time:

mullaney said:
I apologize if this wasn't clear, but if you have a journal and you wish to keep posting to it, by all means feel welcome to do so. I realize people have put a lot of effort into their journals and this change in policy was not meant to kick you out. This policy does not affect existing journals.
My pride tells me to leave. Oldsir tells me to stay. I've got a couple of dozen pm's asking me to stay.

Reverse, you didn't help things by saying

reverse said:
I am nodding at the journallers beating a full speed path to the exit door. I wonder how many of them will come back, tail between their legs, humble faced and dummy spit over.
I honestly don't know what to do. Do I look like a fool now, posting again?

I won't stay anywhere I'm not welcome.

Besides, who really wants to hear about crows in apple trees and canning tomatos?

Things to remember: When I was a little girl (I must have been just about school age) my oldest sister (the one who informed me about the veins in chicken legs) pointed out that in her room there was a witch* She pointed to a knot in the wood flooring. She pointed out how it looked like a witch and pointed to the witch's nose and eyes. I saw that and was immediately afraid to be in that room. I didn't go back into that room for years. My sister sure found a good way to keep me out of her room (she got a room to herself because she was the oldest girl -- go figure). My brother lives in my parent's old house now. I went over there the other day to drop off some more banana bread that I baked. I thought of that knot in the wood flooring. I asked him if I could go into my sister's old room, he said sure. I walked in and there was that knot in the wood flooring, 60+ years later, still staring at me. I'm not afraid of it anymore, but it did still stare at me.


*I don't mean to make any derrogatory remarks about the wiccans. The witch was a scary image for me when I was a little girl, not knowing what I know today. I don't mean to perpetuate any wrong images associated with the suffering of some very devoted followers of the religion of wicca.


Owned By Cats

First, let me say thank you to all of you who wished me a Happy Birthday. I've never had so many birthday wishes on any one particular birthday before in my life. I was still stunned and thrilled. Thank you!

Late last May, when we were planting the garden, Art (our neighbor) gave us some tiny muskmelon plants that he had started from seeds. We stuck them at the edges of the garden. They were so tiny that we didn't have much hope for them (Art didn't have any luck with his in his garden), but we watered them and hoed around them and 5 of 8 of them caught and grew.

Some of you are scratching your heads wondering what muskmelons are. It's just an old name for cantelope. Now you know what I mean!

The muskmelons are now mostly ready to pick. I've picked a few and cut them up and we ate them. They taste so heavenly! They are sweet and fragrant and ripe.

The problem now is that we're going to Florida for about 9 days and I've got about 75 muskmelons out there wanting to be picked and eaten. Even if we were home we wouldn't be able to eat 75 muskmelons, I'd give a good portion away. I picked about 50 lbs tonight and put them in the old refrigerator over in the barn at my family's farm. I called Art and my other brother and sisters and told left messages for them to come over next week and pick what they wanted. I hate to see anything go to waste.

I cut up 22 1-cup packages of green bell peppers this week, too, and put them in the freezer. When I get home I'll be cutting up more peppers for us and my other brothers and sisters. This is one thing that I do for my siblilngs: I keep them supplied with peppers for the year.

I cut the peppers up by hand. I've got a food processor that I never use, because cutting them up by hand is neater. It takes a long time, but I either have my story on or the weather channel or the radio on and it passes the time. The hard part is going out there and picking them and hauling them in and washing them. I can sit down while I cut them up. By October 1 my freezer will be bulging. I'll have about 75 packages of bell and banana peppers for us, plus about 12 packages of jalepenos (1/2 cup packages). I'll dehydrate the cayenne peppers. I'll hang the Anaheim peppers to dry (there won't be many because we didn't plant enough and we'll wind up eating most of them before there are any to dry).

Mr. Grey arrived limping today. I don't think he was in a fight, he doesn't look recently beaten up. He probably jumped down from somewhere and landed wrong. He's old, they aren't as steady on their feet when they are old (I know the feeling).

Randall has been having a field day with the cull apples that have fallen from my trees early. (Culls are misshapened, not-formed-correctly apples.) I have a feeling that he and his family will also demolish the pears from my pear trees before I get home to harvest them. I've picked a few, but they need at least a week yet before they're ready.

There have been 4 deer who have been making an early morning appearance in the field out back nearly every morning lately. They're feeding on the corn, I presume. They surely are pretty animals.

My Johnny has had a cold this week. She's 15 now, and the cold was hard on her. She just getting over it now. I hate to leave her for this vacation. She'll be OK, but still.... she's my pretty little girl.

We leave tomorrow afternoon. We're spending the night in Chicago tomorrow night and flying out early Monday morning. We're going to Florida.

Take care, play nice, remember your manners. I'll miss you.

Things to remember: I have the most forgetable birthday. I was born during the busy season on the farm, and it also happened to be the start of the school year, also. When most of your family are farmers and teachers, birthdays in the first week of September are naturally forgotten is the hustle and bustle. Case in point: On my 15th birthday I decided not to say a word to anyone in my family about it being my birthday. Sure enough, everyone forgot, including my parents. That night when I was climbing the stairs to my bedroom I started saying "Happy Birthday to me." My parents were sitting at the kitchen table going over the farm ledger. They looked up at me with this stunned look on their face and they both said at the same time "We forgot." I reminded Ma the next year when it was my birthday.

We never really did anything for anyone's birthday, except Ma would make a cake and you would feel like a "special person" for the day. There were no presents, just a cake and smiles.

So this year, with all the sweet birthday messages, meant the world to me. Thank you, again.



Owned By Cats
Common Cold

First and foremost, congratulations to Chell and Tardis on setting their wedding date! Also Chell, congratulations on the new job, I'm proud of you. Another also, welcome back Dano, and welcome back Rich, it was good to see you both here when I peeked in at a cybercafe in Florida.

And now...

I went to Florida and all I wound up with is this lousy cold. Not quite true, but that's the way I feel right about now. Actually, I didn't have any symptoms of the cold until the day we came back, Monday. By the time we finally drove into the driveway at about 11:30PM, I was feeling really punky.

We had a nice time. We went to Disney World for 3 days and then we drove down to Fort Myers and took the ferry to Key West for a day. We spent the last couple of days on Marco Island watching the waves and wondering why we were doing this when there was so much work to get done at home.

I know exactly when I caught this cold. Now if you get annoyed or put off by anything negative being said about children, then you'd better stop reading right now.

OK, you've had your chance.

I was standing in a very, very short line for "The Great Movie Ride" at the Disney/MGM Studios park with oldsir. All of a sudden I felt a tiny, slimy hand grabbed my hand. I quickly pulled my hand away. I looked down and there was this tiny child with a very obvious cold (looked feverish, too) standing next to me with his now-empty-of-my-hand fist crammed into his mouth. I looked at oldsir and he shook his head at me as if to say "be quiet oldlady, he's too young to know what he's doing." I saw the tot's parents and they weren't paying the least bit of attention to him. Needless to say, I kept my hand away from the rest of me until I got off the ride and made a b-line to the bathroom and washed my hands twice. But I think I must have missed a spot, because now I've got this lousy cold and I don't feel human.

This is my night to rant, so let me say my piece and then I'll leave you in peace.

While we were gone, the weather was in the 80s here at home. Thus, all of the muskmelons that were left in the garden ripened and started rotting. The only ones I have left are the ones I stored in the refrigerator at the farm. I'm ticked. Someone could have picked those melons, I let everyone in my family know about them. Nobody came or cared. Such a waste.

I have about 5 bushels of peppers to pick, wash, and cut up. I can't do that while I have this cold. Oldsir can't do that very well because of his eyesight (and he won't wear his glasses for doing outside work, only driving).

My Johnny is still sniffling from her cold. Our former (I'll get to the "former" at a later date, I'm still too upset about this matter to talk about it outside of talking to oldsir.) friend, Dale, kept telling me she was just fine whenever I talked to him on the phone while we were gone. Bobbie has picked up an odd habit of trying to form "nests" out of paper or towels or boxes. My Wonderful has developed a lump on his cheek (I don't think this is good at all, I have to take him in to the vet next week.).

Enough of ranting. I don't like myself when I rant, I never do it anywhere else.

I'm back to my nice, soft bed, and my own pillow. I'm back to my own kitchen (after I had to put it back together, again I'll tell you more about this at a later date). I'm back to my nice house with its two bathrooms. I'm back to my kitties and birdies and fish and my outdoor animal friends. I'm back to my garden. I'm back to where I can walk barefoot anywhere at anytime. I'm back to the peace and quiet and truly blue skys of home.

Things to remember: When I was in Florida there were so many stories of long ago that I remembered and I made a mental note (mistake) to remember them and write them here. Of course, right now I can't remember a single one of them, probably because of decongestants and fever.

Here's something I remember, but I don't think it has anything in common with what I've said here tonight, and I don't have to slightest idea of why I happened to remember it now.

My father would sometimes describe certain tracts of land as being "sour ground." The type of land he would be describing would be land with dead trees, dead grass, and/or sometimes standing, stagnant water. Generally, it was land that wouldn't support a living system, due to a variety of factors, but usually it had to do with pollution of some sort. In particular there was a tract of land north of the town that I live near that was land that he described as "sour ground" and nothing was ever built there for as long as I can remember until about 5 years ago. A developer bought the 5 acres of "sour ground" and put 3 fancy houses on it and sold them to out-of-towners. Sure enough, within 3 years the houses were all up for sale again and nobody is buying them. I don't know the official reason why the fancy houses are empty now, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the "sour ground."

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Owned By Cats
I'm not dead (yet)

I know I haven't posted in a long time. Please be patient with me. You know I had a cold. A week later it became the flu. The killing freeze came and our beautiful garden is now gone.

I've got some stories to tell, but not tonight.

I miss you all.

I promise I'll return pm's and email soon.

Things to remember: The October full moon is the hunters moon, but not on my property. My property is posted "No Hunting."



Owned By Cats

The corn was harvested off the field out back today. I was kind of worried about some of the outdoor tabbies that lurk in the corn fields by day this time of year, looking for field mice feasting on the bounty. But when suppertime came around, everyone that I know was present and accounted for, so I worried for naught.

I believe that Randall has gone to wherever he goes to in the cold months. I hope to see him again when the winter ice starts melting.

Lenny is back in the pasture next door. It looks like Art's going to be having him around for the winter, also. It was originally a summer gig for Lenny to reside next door, so I guess he had a captive enough audience and is now doing his encore. His entourage of goats is still with him. He still ignores me. At least I haven't been spit upon, yet.

Remember when I had the little run-in at Wally World early last summer and I fired off a letter to the store manager and regional manager? I finally got an apology letter and a $20 gift card for my trouble. I sent the gift card to the local humane society. I haven't been back to Wally World since that time. I just pay a couple of cents more at Meijer and get treated well.

My 2 apple trees were loaded with apples this year (actually I have 3 apple trees, but one is growing entwined with a cherry tree and never had any apples until this year -- about 10 tiny little mackintosh apples). I didn't spray the trees, like usual (I have to start doing that, I could always give the apples away that I can't use) so I only got about 6-7 pounds of good apples (good enough to make it worth it to peel). I made 3 Dutch apple pies. I delivered 2 of them warm to each of my brothers and kept one for me and oldsir. I asked my brothers and sisters if they wanted pies and only my brothers said yes, my sisters are always on diets, so they have their pie in restaurants. (I can't quite figure out that last sentence, either, but that's what happens, they'll eat anything in a restaurant and then be on a diet at home.) The pies tasted wonderful, especially warm with vanilla ice cream on the side.

My freezer is groaning from being stuffed full of the summer harvest. The shelves in my pantry are bending from the weight of all the new homecanned goodies and home-dried delights. We'll eat well this winter. It was a good summer with productive garden.

We have some flowers left in planters, mostly petunias and sweet william. I started some flowering kale in late July and that's beautiful right now.

I puttyed some windows on Monday when it was warm, trying my best to keep out the winter drafts. It's going to be expensive this winter to heat the house, especially if it's a cold winter like last year. One of the only good things I can say about lake-effect snow is that it puts an extra layer of insulation on the roof.

Sammy is getting her winter fat already. She's getting older, so it's probably easier for her to put on that weight than it was when she was active and hunting (seemingly 24/7). She's already spending most of her time in the greenhouse, where she'll winter like a lone wolf.

I alluded to a difficult situation that occured when the person (Dale) who used to take care of our home and little ones left this fall. According to Art, Dale let his son hunt on my property while we were gone. Oldsir and I were furious. We don't know if he shot anything, but the cats are all here, an Elly May or two are showing up nightly, and I saw Randall. Dale knows how we feel about hunting on our property, and it's posted "no hunting" every 40 feet for goodness sake! I doubt I will ever see Dale again (good riddance), Oldsir gave him and his son (both) h*ll on the phone about the situation after we got back (Dale was gone by the time we got back). Our property is a refuge for any living creature, a place where they can rest and get a meal, a place without fear. I still get shaky when I think about it. (Richie, I know you hunt and I'm not knocking hunters who hunt where it's OK to hunt. I'm agast that someone who supposedly knows the rules would flagrantly disregard the rules of "no hunting" and put those who I hold dear in jeopardy.)

Which reminds me, I have a new friend. About a week and a half ago, I heard a commotion outside. I turned on the lights just in time to see Elly May toddle away (she had knocked over a couple of the cat bowls outside, that was the commotion I heard). I went out to right-up the bowls when I heard "Whooooo" coming from the cherry-apple tree next to the deck. I went and got a flashlight and saw an owl sitting in the tree. I didn't shine him directly, I know animals don't like that. I said "Whooooo" back to him and went back inside. The next night, on a whim, I went outside at about the same time. He was there again and said "Whooooo" again. I replied likewise and smiled. He's been pretty regular about showing up each night ever since. I guess he's getting the mice from the field that the cats don't happen to catch. I have no idea what kind of owl he is, it doesn't really matter to me. I named him "Whooooo," with the extra O's so he isn't confused with the rock & roll band. I've never had an owl friend before, this has the makings to be an excellent adventure.

Things to remember: Making apple sauce back at home. My mother always canned applesauce. She didn't have any apple trees on the farm, she got the apples from the two "old maids" (remember me telling you about them?). For some reason, my mother never picked a cold day in fall to make apple sauce, she picked warm days. Warm enough so that when the apples were cooking on the stove the steam and heat would get mighty uncomfortable. And then we would have to grind the cooked apples through that handcranked foodmill. We'd have to crank the hot apples and dump out the skins and seeds that slimed the top of the screen of the mill. We'd crank and crank and crank and become downright cranky from cranking so much. Then the kitchen would get even hotter with the hot water bath of the canner on the stove. In the summer, the woodstove would be put outside on the back porch to do the cooking. In fall it was inside. (We didn't get an electric stove at home until after the war.)

In later years when my mother reflected on these times, she said she should have just put the apples in the celler and did the canning in the cold months. We tried to tell her that back then, but she wouldn't hear of it.

I don't can applesauce, that's one thing that I buy. Some things are better bought than remembered, especially if you like to eat the item.



Owned By Cats
Falling In Love Again

"Falling in love again
Never wanted to
What am I to do?
I can't help it."

About two weeks ago, a scrawny, way-too-thin, little hobo showed up on my deck and found the bowls of food. She ate like she had never seen food before, or hadn't seen it for a long time. She's full grown, but not very big. The other cats (yes, this little hobo is a cat by species) didn't like her. They tried to chase her away. I intervened. They still didn't like her, stayed away from her, ostrasized her. The nights are cold now, below freezing. While the other ones clumped together in the little dog house I have under the deck and borrowed the heat from the house from the air hose we piped out there, She tried to sleep alone on the deck by the dishes. It broke my heart. I got a laundry basket and an old fuzzy-furry type robe I don't wear any more and lined the basket and put it out for her. She did the pawing thing in the basket, kneeding the robe like it was her mama. She curled up in a circle surrounded by the fuzzy-fur and slept the deep kind of sleep of which I am in awe. I checked on her several times during the night and she was fine and warm.

Now when I work outside getting things ready for the winter, I have a new supervisor. She follows me everywhere, just like a puppy. While I rolled up the long hoses around the big spindles that we have, she dutifully sat on the lawn and listened carefully as I told her about the times and tensions that have been a part of my life. She followed me into the greenhouse and sat on one of the beds while I patched a couple of other hoses. Sammy wasn't amused, but kept her silence. I made sure the my supervisor left the greenhouse with me, so Sammy could guard her domain in her self-imposed isolation.

My little hobo is right there when I am ready to walk anywhere or work at anything.

She's a calico with thin, short hair. She has golden eyes. She smiles. I think she's beautiful. My sister told me she has never seen such a scrawny, unpretty cat. I told my sister she was wrong. I wanted to say something to my sister about her son-in-law, but I'm not as petty as she is at times. (I'm going to catch h*ll for that last sentence, but I'm leaving it in.)

I have a strong feeling that this little hobo will soon be living inside my house. I will find out her name, I can't call her hobo. I have a feeling that her name is Mona, Mona Seabrook.

There's one problem, however, besides convincing oldsir that we need Mona. We're going on a trip out west in about 3 weeks. I don't think that 3 weeks is a long enough time to acclimate her into the routine of the house and the routine of the indoor little ones. I have a feeling that my little Peanut is going to be jealous. I also need have to take her to the vet before she comes inside to make sure she's not a carrier of anything that could hurt my other little ones. I have 3 geriatric little ones and I know they'll hiss and complain, but they will accept her. Kitty and Peanut will actually be the pushovers, especially Kitty. But I think I'll impose on Sammy and keep Mona in the greenhouse for the next few weeks. I'll be making this up to Sammy for a long time, but so be it. When I get back, Mona will be fixed and moved into the house.

The first step, however, will be getting oldsir to say "I think she should be in here, go get her." I've been dropping very heavy hints. If he doesn't say the words, then he'll just find another cat sleeping on his side of the bed one day soon.

I just realized that I'd finally have a female cat with a female name, that's a switch for me. :)

And, oh yes, we're going for our early winter-late fall trip, as I mentioned. We're going to fly into San Diego, probably travel down I-10 to Yuma and then back and up to Los Angeles to go to the cemeteries and find the dead celebrities. One of these times, not this year (maybe next year), we want to go up to San Simeon and see the Hurst place.

Thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks. I'll be cooking for oldsir & I & the little ones & our closest friends (all of the non-human persuation).

A Time To Remember: It was 9 years ago today that I broke my face. I was walking down the stairs from the 2nd story of our house to the first floor when I tripped over Liza. It was late at night, about 2AM. I fell, sort of skidding down and unable to catch myself on the rail and landed face first into the wall in our front entryway. I blacked out. When I came to, oldsir was panicking. I could only open my one eye part way and I couldn't open the other at all, I couldn't breath through my nose. I knew my lip was split. I was also laying in a pool of blood.

Oldsir got me into the car somehow and we drove to the next town over where the hospital was and into the emergency room. That's where the horror of all this started, believe it or not. They wisked me into a room and kept oldsir away. They wanted to know if oldsir had beat me up! Heavens no. Then they sent me to xray. While I was there they found my files and then wanted to know if I had been drinking. No! They actually took a blood test and found out my blood alcohol was nil. My past was starting to haunt me. It didn't stop there, the psy-d that condemned me 7 years previously for being a drunk showed up with a smirk and then scrowled when he learned that I was more sober than he was.

Anyway, my left cheekbone was crushed, my forehead (some of the thickest bone in the skull) was broken in 3 spots, and my nose was toast. I needed surgery. But surgery had to wait until the swelling started to go down. So I went home and 2 days later I went in to have my ultimate facelift. (There's another story here also about a blood test that came back saying I was pregnant (cute trick at 60), obviously the test was wrong, they wouldn't believe it and re-ran the test and it was negative (I went through menopause at 45). The ob-gyn that came in and told me I was pregnant almost choked when he saw how old I was. His name was also Dr. Chuck Tyler, which I really wanted to laugh about, but couldn't because my face wouldn't let me laugh (Dr. Chuck Tyler was also the name of a character, years ago, on the soap I watch)).

The plastic surgeon came in to talk to me before surgery, also, and asked me if I had any requests since they basically were going to reshape my nose and face. I said I wanted Meg Ryan's nose and Lucille Ball's eyes. He asked me if I would settle for Ernest Borgnine's nose, but I said no. :) I was then wheeled into surgery and I woke up many hours later with a brand new titanium cheekbone and titanium screws in my forehead and Meg Ryan's nose. It took about 12 weeks before all the bruising and redness was gone, but that plastic surgeon gave me a wonderful new face. It took about 20 years off my looks from the neck up.

I was amazed afterwards at the cruel things that some people said to oldsir and I. Countless people asked if we "got rid of that cat." We never asked if they got rid of their kids when they wrecked their car. About 90% of "other people" thought I had been drinking. Oldsir tried to set them straight, but to h*ll with them if they don't believe it. These were just more nails in my wall of isolation from the outside world.

Please be careful when you're walking down the stairs, pay attention to what you're doing. Thank you.



Owned By Cats
Thanksgiving 2003

I baked a turkey today. It was a 22 pounder. I don't stuff it, I never could bring myself to make stuffing that way (by baking it in the bird). There's a reason for that: my mother. She made stuffing that everyone (except me for reasons you'll read) loved, stuffed it in the bird, and produced a picture-perfect turkey. Everyone ate hugely of that stuffing, except me, because I watched her make it. She would take the neck and gizzard and liver and boil them till they were cooked well. Then she cut them up (the meat off the neck, not the bones) and mixed it with her other ingredients (celery, onions, toasted bread cubes, spices, butter, broth that those innards boiled in, and whoknowswhatelse) and stuffed the turkey and baked it. I took one look at that awful-looking neck and slimey looking gizzard and liver that she was about to boil, and that was it. No more of Ma's stuffing for me. I wasn't going to eat that, nope. So now I make my own with ingredients that I approve of: bread cubes, broth from a can, butter, celery, onions, sage, salt, pepper. I bake it on the side in a separate dish. My stuffing may sound boring, but it tastes decent and I can eat it.

The kitties, inside and out, along with the Art's dog, two Elly Mays, Oldsir and I ate hugely. Along with the turkey and stuffing, I had mashed potatos, gravy, corn, home-canned dill pickels (the pickels turned out perfect this year, today was the first time we tried them because they needed at least 3 months to cure and it's been longer than that now), home-canned stewed tomatos, homemade rolls, and pumpkin pie. Of course, the non-humans ate the turkey and gravy, along with a few of the rolls broken up, and left the rest to Oldsir and I.

We had been invited to my sister's house for Thanksgiving, but I can't bring myself to go. We don't go for my family's Christmas celebration, either. I just can't do it.

In a few days, we'll be gone to the west coast again. I told you all about it in my last post. I really don't want to leave my little ones, but it's good for oldsir and I to get away for a little bit. We won't be gone long -- just a week. My neighbor, Art, his sister is going to be looking after my place while we're gone. I have to show her how to do everything sometime tomorrow. She's a nice person, recently widowed.

I think I mentioned that my Wonderful had a lump on the side of his face. I did take him to the vet, and luckily it was just a fatty tumor, completely benign. Mona is taking to the greenhouse quite well, she and Sammy seem to have a non-agression agreement going. I have to interact with them separately, because Sammy will not tolerate my divided attention.

Take care of yourselves, please. I can't do that for you. ;)

Thing to Remember: I had to go to the barn at my brother's house the other day to find an odd-sized piece of lumber for one of oldsir's projects. This is the "family" barn I told you about earlier, the one where there are just as many memories as there are objects in the barn. This is where everyone in the family stores things that they just can't part with, but can't leave in the house either.

I went into the barn and pretty quickly found the piece of wood that oldsir needed, but I decided just to take a look around. I saw many, many memories, but one just seemed to jump out at me: the old red tub. I hadn't seen that thing in over 50 years. It isn't very red anymore, but then when I was younger it wasn't very red, either. It's a large tin tub that my mother used to haul around fruits and vegetables in from her garden. My sister and I used to each take a side of that tub and haul it together when it was filled up. When it was full, we knew we'd be sitting a very long time, cleaning beans or shelling peas or peeling peaches or hauling strawberries. If I had to guess the size, I'd say it held about 3/4 bushel.

Why this tub made such an impression on me that day, I really don't know except maybe the fact that I hadn't seen it in so many years.

Sometimes it's the seemingly insignificant things that make for lasting memories and invoking other lasting memories. It may only be a scent in the air, or a certain tilt of the head, or an old work tub.



Owned By Cats
Days of Future Past

A lot has happened since I last updated this journal. We went to San Diego, saw the zoo. Then we drove over to Yuma and walked across the border into Mexico at Los Algodones and visited the pharmacias. We then meandered through Palm Springs and then into Los Angeles proper and did some celebrity grave hunting at Hollywood Cemetery and Westwood Cemetery (if you really want a list of who (or rather, whose graves) we saw, email me, I'm not going to bore y'all here more than I already do). Then we drove over to Venice Beach and Santa Monica and strolled those shops on the beach. It was a cloudy, cool day, so it wasn't too busy. Then we drove back down to San Diego and flew back to Chicago and then we drove home.

Art's sister took care of the house and the little ones very well while we were gone. I think she kind of liked it.

One thing I noticed when I got home was that Bobbie seemed to have lost weight. I also noticed he was drinking more than he usually does, and consequently, peeing more. I took him to the vet. He has advanced kidney disease. The vet ran a blood panel on him and, quite frankly, told me that he didn't think Bobbie would make it another 2 weeks. He suggested that besides a $6,000 kidney transplant, there wasn't much we could do. He said I could give him dialysis and antibiotics at home. Bobbie is an elderly cat, just the operation part of a transplant would be too much for him. So I opted to give him 5 days of dialysis at home and also give him the antibiotics.

Let me explain how the home dialysis works, for those who think I'm nuts. The vet gave me a bag of saline solution and some needles and tubing. He set up the tubing on the bag of saline so that all I would have to do is change the needles each day. I hung the bag on a high hook in my kitchen and held Bobbie while I inserted the needle just under the skin of his upper back. I then turned on the drip and let 200 ml of saline drip into him. (It was no fun at all. Bobbie hated it, I was scared doing it, but d@mmit, it had to be done.) This extra fluid, along with the extra water he was drinking helped to flush out his blood of the waste that his kidneys were failing to filter on their own.

After five days of having Bobbie hate me, he started to feel better. The vet had told me to put him on a diet of rice and tuna oil (the type of oil from a tuna can). Better said than done, he wouldn't touch it. He had to eat, so I cooked him another turkey. I was specifically told that protein needed to be avoided for him, but not eating is worse. He loves turkey. He is eating turkey about 5 times a day now. So I am in the dilemma of "quality of life." He needs all the weight I can put on him, because he's burning it off faster than he can eat.

But in the mean time, he's eating, drinking, peeing, sleeping, and purring. He seems happy. He's lost some of the symptoms that he had before (I neglected to tell you that he would throw up daily whenever his stomach was empty. He's stopped doing that.).

In the mean time, I noticed that it's the holiday season. I lost my Liza two years ago tomorrow. Bobbie and Liza were best buddies.

I want to cry. I want my little ones healthy and happy.

Things to remember: I once had a friend whose name was Garret. He was a year or two older than me. He worked on my father's farm part time in the summers. Anyway, Garret had a very dirty mind. He could think up some of the crudest little poems. He once made up a series of poems based on the alphabet. I only remember a few: "K is for King with a crown on his bean. His favorite past time is f**king the queen." "G is for Guts, a tangled up mess. It starts in your head and ends in your @ss." "Z is for Zero, when it's very cold. The same temperature as a man's b@lls when he's 80 years old." "B is for B@ll, each man has a pair. All wrinkled and crinkled and covered with hair." If I remember any more, I'll ... I don't know if I'll post them or not. I probably just disillusioned everyone here by reciting the ones I remember.



Owned By Cats
Birthdays, Deathdays, and hovering inbetween

Tomorrow, December 31, is Oldsir's 70th birthday. My brilliant, loving, handsome, caring, devoted husband who makes everything worthwhile, all the while infuriating me to no end. If he were perfect, I wouldn't like him, so in a way he's perfect by being imperfect. Happy Birthday, honey, I love you dearly.

I keep Oldsir in more a one-dimensional mode here because I respect his privacy. I can't leave him totally out of my journal because he is such a huge part of my life, and has been for the past 49 1/2 years.

As the years go by, we are becoming more acutely aware that our time together is finite and passing by rapidly. It's difficult to think about, to accept. It gets no easier as time goes by. I hope I go first, but then again, that wouldn't be fair to him (he can't cook).

Birdie, the green Birdie of Birdie, Birdie & Birdie, passed away yesterday. I'm not quite sure what happened. He was dead when Oldsir went to feed the birdies yesterday morning. He hadn't seemed ill at all. On Sunday, I was talking to him as he ate at the seed cup in the cage. I hope I didn't bore him to death. Anyway, the funeral was held in the field out back yesterday afternoon, luckily there was no snow. Three outdoor kitties were in attendance for the funeral. Birdie & Birdie, the blue birdies, are still seem to be attached at the hip. They have also been very quiet since Birdie passed away. I'll play them a tropical rainforest-sounds cd tomorrow, that may perk them up.

Bobbie is doing well. The kitties finished off the turkey meat. I still had a 10-lb bag of chicken in the freezer that I hadn't smoked last summer, so I baked that up and deboned it last Saturday. Bobbie loves chicken. He's been eating chicken ever since last Saturday. I have another turkey thawing in the refrigerator that I'll cook up this weekend. I will keep him eating, drinking, and getting some exercise as long as I can. The vet had told me that Bobbie wouldn't live to see Christmas. It's now 5 days past Christmas. Bobbie can now jump up on the counter without help now, which he hadn't been able to do for a few weeks. I will not give up on him.

Mona is still in the greenhouse with Sammy. With the situation with Bobbie, I felt it better not to introduce Mona into the household at this time. She seems happy as a lark in the greenhouse. I have a little bed set up for her amongst the plants that are stored there for the winter. I make sure I have some "alone-time" with Sammy to make her feel special, too. Sammy values her independence and aloneness more than anything else in this world, but she still likes a cuddle from me once in a while.

Whooooo hasn't been seen or heard from in a long time, maybe I'll see him/her again some night. I hope so.

The Elly Mays are as fat as little pigs. There are two of them who come by every night to clean up anything the cats have left behind. I have never seen Elly Mays this big before. I'm glad they aren't nasty to the outside kitties.

The weather has been unusually snow-free so far this year (knock on wood). The weather people are talking about a cold(er) snap arriving next week, with high temperatures in the 20s and lots of lake-effect snow. They've been wrong quite a few times already this winter, so I can only hope they are wrong one more time. I know that I live in a snowbelt, but I can wish for less snow.

I miss my garden. I loved the garden that I had this summer. I know I groused about eating all the romaine and having too many tomatos, but I now miss every one of those. The pickels and spaghetti sauce and frozen peppers and canned stewed tomatos taste so good this winter, better than most years. I still have about 10 of the huge onions in my basement. They're keeping nicely and taste so sweet and good. It'll be a another two weeks or so before we order our seeds for next summer. Two weeks of waiting in the dead of winter seems like an eternity. And yes, we have to wait two weeks because (1) we haven't gotten the new Stokes Seed catalog yet, and (2) we always order around January 15 every year. We're creatures of habit, so we will wait the two weeks.

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year. I think of this place, and you all, so often. I know I don't post as much as I used to post, part of that is still the feeling that I shouldn't be here. I hope to get past that some day.

Things to remember: My husband's father died on the date of January 13. January 13 was my father's birthday. My father died on the date of December 3. December 3 was my husband's father's birthday. They were both 61 years old when they died.



Owned By Cats
Blizzard Warning

We're in the middle of an official Blizzard here in my little lake-effect snowbelt world. The winds are howling at a steady 25-35 mph, gusts are up to 58 mph. The temperature has been in the single digits most of the day, I think it peaked at 10 above at around 1PM. We had about 6 inches of snow last night, and that's all blowing sideways now. Accidents galore are being reported on the snow-blinded roads.

Oldsir and I are staying put in our house. I put on several layers of clothing earlier today and went out to the greenhouse and fed Sammy and Mona (separately, of course, Sammy refuses to recognize Mona as an inhabitant of her abode). Mona was playing with a dead mouse (good kitty).

Then I crawled under our deck with food for the feline inhabitants of the little doghouse that I have set up down there (the one with the air hose breathing warm air into it). Only one of them recognized me as the "one who feeds" and came over to where I had spread out food and water for them outside of the doghouse. I crawled back out and spyed on them for about 10 seconds and all 4 of them came out to eat. I wouldn't be able to sleep (I don't sleep anyway, but this would had another stone to the pile of thoughts that keep my mind running nontop through the night) if I knew they didn't get a nonfrozen meal. They use up a lot more calories trying to keep warm during these cold months and they need to keep on up their food.

It was so snowy and blustery last night that no Elly Mays came over to eat at the bowls.

My Bobbie is continuing to thrive. I'm amazed. I have never had a cat get better, even for a little while, when they had kidney failure. I'm doing all the supposedly "wrong" things for him (feeding him protein when the vet told me to feed him a nonprotein diet, because I knew what he would and wouldn't eat and decided it was more important for him to eat than not eat), and he is alive now weeks longer than the vet predicted. Bobbie has quit throwing up, he's eating like a football player, and he's drinking somewhat less water. I'm still doing the "quality of life vs. the quantity of life" juggling ac. The "quality" seems to be winning out and taking the "quantity" with it, but
it continues to be an issue with me. I want to do the best for my little one, I want him to be happy and feel decent. If I see his health slipping, and he's unhappy and unhungry, I'll do the right thing by him. But until I see that decline, I will love him and do everything in my ability to help him to flourish.

We got our seed catalog today. Next week, we'll pour over it with hungry eyes, deciding which flowers and vegetables to bring into our summer.

I asked my brother, the one who lives on the family farm, if I could dig up a few of the raspberry bushes that still grow out near the back fence of the big field. He said he had no problem with that, so when the ground thaws, I'm going to dig up some of those bushes. My grandfather planted those bushes back in the late 1800s. They've multiplied and spread out like weeds, in fact they mow down a portion of them every year because they overtake too much land. They're everbearing raspberries with a crop usually in July and then again in September. Raspberries taste so good, but they are such a pain to pick. They seem to attrack all the undesirable elements: mosquitoes, snakes, field mice, yellow-jackets, stinging weeds, poison ivy. To go and pick them, you need a long-sleeved shirt, long pants with rubber bands around the ankles so nothing crawls up your pant legs, boots, gloves, and a big hat. Those aren't such nice things to wear when it's 90 degrees and humid. You're probably wondering if it's worth it. Yes. Not only do the raspberries taste good, but they smell good, and they look wonderful.

It helps to think about the coming summer, it scares away the winter blues during blizzards.

Things to remember: The blizzards that we had 50 and 60 years ago were no worse than we have today. (Yes, we had to walk to school in them, but it only seemed like it was uphill both ways.) However, the blizzard of 1978 was indeed the blizzard of the century in the midwest. We were living in Ann Arbor. The snow piled up in drifts past the 2nd story windows of a few of the buildings where we worked. My office was on the 4th floor and when I looked down, the snow was only about 15 feet below my window. The winds were blowing a steady 30 mph gusting to 60, the temperature was 0 (as in zero). They closed the entire state of Michigan, as well as Wisconsin, and most of Indiana and Illinois (I think Ohio was also closed, but don't hold me to that). It took well over a week to return to somewhat normal winter driving conditions. A lot of the roads seemed like tunnels with the snow piled up so high on each side of the road. I hope I never see another storm such as that one.

Take care, keep warm, drive safely.



Owned By Cats
Word Block

I'll take my whipping with a wet noodle for being so tardy in keeping up here. I've had a complete word block lately. I was sincerely flattered and thankful for the Mullaney Award for Off-Topic Journal. I think that I was afraid to continue because now something was "expected" of me. I put that pressure on myself, nobody here did. I take full blame if I worried anyone or disappointed anyone.

It's been a cruel winter, weather-wise. January was oppressively cold, cloudy, snowy and windy. We only received 8% of the total sunshine available (Actually that 8% was in Grand Rapids, which is sunnier in the winter than where I live. We have lake-effect clouds on top of the lake-effect snow.) We keep the greenhouse at about 36 degrees, just warm enough to keep everything from freezing, and it cost $100 to heat it last month. Our house cost $225 to heat. I'm glad I did all that canning and freezing and drying of food last summer, because the heating bills ate up our food budget.

We're looking into a corn-fed stove for the greenhouse for next winter to help with the heating bills. It'll mean stoking and feeding the d@mn thing a few times a day, but corn is a lot cheaper than natural gas. Corn also burns a lot cleaner than wood. Also, anything is cleaner than the coal we use to burn years ago to heat our houses.

We ordered our seeds for the summer garden and have received them already. Oldsir will start seeding them on about February 26. We'll have the various tomatos and multiple peppers, along with onions, potatos (yikes! I had to dig), sweet peas, romaine, and the herbs (thyme, basil, parsley, dill, coriander). We'll also have the impatiens, petunias, marigolds, asters, and some other flowers I can remember right now. We already started the bulbs of the begonias inside the house and are waiting for those to start popping their heads up.

My Bobbie is doing fine. Better than fine. I don't want to jinx it, but I think he's all better. He's playing with my little Peanut as I'm typing here. He hasn't played in a couple of years. He's eating well, he has stopped drinking so much and thus his peeing is gone back to normal. He's putting on weight (of course I'm still feeding him anything he wants). I refuse to take him to the vet again. The vet gave him a death sentence over two months ago, saying he wouldn't live until Christmas.

My neighbor, Art, has been ill lately. He can't seem to shake the flu that everyone and their brother has had this winter. He has high blood pressure on top of that. Oldsir has been going over there every day and helping out with the animals. The lambs are being born now, and so far 71 have been born. According to Oldsir, there are 14 more to go. I hear that Lenny is sitting in the back of the barn with his entourage of goats and just chews the cud all day. Oldsir puts feed back there for them, but nobody moves while he's there or watching. The food is gone and the bin clean when he comes back for the next feeding, so they're eating it sometime. Art's wife (who cleans out the barn) says they don't eat while she's around, either.

I'm losing my words to the word block again. I'll do my best to be here more often. Please be patient with me. I'd appreciate that.

Things to remember: One time when I was a young teenager (yes, I was one once), about 12 or 13, I was at home making breakfast for everyone. My brothers and sisters were all home, but I got stuck making breakfast. My brothers were teasing me about being such a slowpoke in making the pancakes. I got really ticked off, as a teenager will do, and when my brothers weren't looking, I spit in the pancake batter. Of course, I didn't tell anybody. In fact, to this day, with the exception of Oldsir, I haven't told anybody. Until now. And the fact that my relation still reads this tome means that my secret is now out. hehehehe Moral to the story: don't p!ss off the cook or waitstaff.


P.S. Dano, come back. I miss you and your journal.


Owned By Cats
Ellie May, Jethro, and Blueberry Pie

Yesterday was Valentine's day. When I got up in the morning, Oldsir was already up and had read the paper and was ready to go next door to help with the lambs. It was 7AM. He said to me, "Good morning, Valentine, do you remember what happened on this day 50 years ago?" I answered "No, but I know that I kissed you for the first time 51 years ago today." He hesitated and grinned and said "I was just testing you to see if you got the years right." I said "Uh huh, sure you were." And then I winked at him.

I decided that we should have something a little special in celebration of Valentine's day, so I took some of those lovely blueberries from the freezer that I put in there last July and made a blueberry pie. We ate it some of it while it was still warm and put some vanilla ice cream on top. It was wonderful. It was mouthfulls of warm, sweet, tangy summer sunshine ala mode. We ate some additional pieces of it today, and we'll have enough for some tomorrow, also. I remember when I froze those berries, thinking that we would enjoy them in the winter. I was right for once.

Three weeks ago we got dumped on with lake effect snow to the tune of about 12 inches of it in one night. Then it continued to snow for several more days and before I knew it the snow was thigh high outside. Whatever critters that were here under the deck when it started were surely stranded here. It was bitter cold and windy and I wanted to know who was stuck under there, because I had heard some knocking around out there. I walked around to the east side of the deck where I had stashed the laundry basket with the fuzzy robe in it that I had given to the outside cats. I had stashed it on the east side for a bit because I had it on the north side of the deck and the snow had blown in it and around it and the cats had abandoned it for the nether regions under the deck. I picked up the robe ready to shake it out when I noticed a creature hanging onto it. I don't get startled that easily and it didn't really surprise me to see a creature hanging onto anything around my house, but I do respect wild animals. I put the robe down on the deck and saw that the creature was a very small opossum, not quite a baby but definitely not grown up. I apologized to it and it just looked at me, panting, with it's mouth half open. I flipped the side of the robe over it and then grabbed the laundry basket and put it over the robe and then manuvered the basket (by sliding it) back to where I had stashed it between the smoker and the fireplace chimney. Then I flipped the basket on it's side and left the baby/notbaby 'possum to its pseudo-mother robe.

I continued on my journey to get under the deck. To do this I had to trudge through deep snow on the back deck and find the 4 steps that lead to the ground (the steps weren't visible because of the deep snow). Then I crawled under the deck. This is no easy feat for an older someone who is dressed in layer upon layer of clothes and coats and hats and gloves. The first thing I saw was the little doghouse that we have down there. Inside was Mama 'possum. This is the huge 'possum that eats frequently at the cat bowls on the deck. This 'possum is by far the biggest 'possum that Oldsir or I have ever seen. Anyway, she was in the doghouse enjoying the relative warmth provided by the air hose that we have pumping warm air from our house out there. In the doghouse with the possum were two cats. Albeit, the cats were laying together in a near the front of the house while the 'possum was nestled in the back of the house, but they were all cohabitating. Another cat was lounging on a stray piece of cardboard that must have blown under there at some point. Mr. Gray was in the corner where the furnace is on the other side of the basement wall. And still one more cat was in another corner, looking frightened. I knew that I needed to get something else down under there for the ones who didn't want to cohabitate with the 'possum. So I crawled back out and stumbled up the steps and around the deck (taking a wide berth around the laundry basket) and into the house. I found a sizeable box and a big old warm blanket and trudged it out there (I was getting tired at this point) and around the deck and blindly down the stairs and wiggled under the deck again. I waved Mr. Gray out of the way and set the box up in his corner by the furnace wall. The one cat (not Mr. Gray or the scared one, the other one) jumped right into the box. I backed off and sat at a distance for a couple of minutes, just long enough to see Mr. Gray and the other cat wander to the box and into it. My job was done. I crawled out, stumbled up, trudged around and deposited myself back into my warm house.

I reflected on my journey and decided that it was entirely possible that the baby/notbaby 'possum in the robe in the basket was the offspring of the 'possum in the doghouse under the deck. I never had 'possums stranded here before. If baby/notbaby was indeed the offspring, then calling them both the standard "Ellie May" would not be appropriate. So I decided to call the big one "Ellie May" and I would call the small one "Jethro." (I know, I know. Jethro on "The Beverly Hillbillies" was the big one and Ellie May was the small one, but this is my house and my deck and I can call them anything I want.) I told Oldsir of my adventure (he was busy working in the basement on one of his projects at the time I was doing all of this) and he just looked at me and shook his head. But he did agree that Ellie May and Jethro were good names for them in order to designate who I was talking about.

The next day I realized that Ellie May couldn't get up the back steps to come eat at the bowls, and she needs steps because she isn't built like a cat who can just jump onto the deck. So I went out and dug her out a path to the front steps. (I didn't dig all around the house, just from the deck in the front to the front steps which we alway keep free of snow. The deck goes all the north side of the house around the east side to the back (south) side of the house.) It didn't take her very long to figure out what I did because that night she was up on top of the deck eating out of the bowls and I watched her leave down the front steps and vanish under the deck.

I guess I worry about them too much, but I can rest better knowing I saw all of them eat and saw all of them comfortable in spite of the brutal winter cold.

Things to remember: When I was just a little girl (it was before the war, so I must have only been about 5 or 6), my brother went to the county fair one night. He won a stuffed cloth doll by throwing baseballs at bottles. He came home with it and put it in bed with me while I was sleeping. I woke up with the doll right beside me in bed (instead of my sister, who had already gotten up). It was lucky that that doll had button eyes, so I liked that doll. It was probably the only doll I ever liked. I still have it.

I never liked the china dolls with the eyes that looked real. I didn't like those type of dolls staring at me. I was little and I got scared of many things (remember my sister and the knot-hole story? and the chicken-leg story?). My sister probably told me (but I can't blame this on her, actually, because I don't specifically remember her tell me) that those dolls were watching me to make sure I was a good girl or some such lie.

I must have been a very paranoid little girl. No wonder I'm a paranoid oldlady as a result.

Please be good. Please be kind. Please remember to say "Please" and "Thank you."

Thank you.



Owned By Cats
Just a quick message

My neighbor, Art, had a stroke 2 weeks ago. We've been helping to take care of the sheep and Lenny and the goats. There's also a few hundred chickens (he raises "organic" hens for "organic" eggs, too. I'll explain this process to y'all some other time, I'm tired right now.) to feed and water and make sure they're healthy. Art's brother has come out from his retirement in California to help now, too. The local farmers are lending a hand and will plant the crops when the time comes for that. We all look out for each other. That's what neighbors do.

The stroke Art had was pretty serious. But fortunately the outlook is good. He's lost all mobility in his left arm (he's right handed), but he can walk. He can talk enough to get his point across. And the stroke hasn't affected his mentality. He's in a hospital in Grand Rapids right now getting intensive physical therapy so he can get around his house ok when he gets home. He'll be in outpatient physical therapy for months. He was a Teamster for years, so he retired from that with a good insurance policy. Art's wife has been by his side constantly since the stroke. She's a good woman.

After mucking out the barn and coop today, we came back and started seeding our flowers in the greenhouse. At least the weather has tempered and isn't so bitterly cold. We have the greenhouse heat up to 65 now for the seeds to germinate.

I'll be back writing soon. I have a lot to tell.

Things to remember: The maple tree at the farm where my father put up a rope swing. We swung like monkeys on that rope. The rope had to be replaced from time to time because of natural decay, but it was always replaced.

My nephew had to cut that tree down this past week, it was dying and in danger of toppling over in the next high wind. I wept a silent tear for that maple tree that brought so much enjoyment to literally generations of children in my family. I couldn't find the rope, I think my nephew probably took it to hang on another tree. So I went over and picked up a little log from it's remains that were piled where it once stook. I brought the log home.



Owned By Cats
Goodbye, Mr. Grey

This morning I saw Mr. Grey sleeping in the first rays of the sunshine as I was getting ready to go over to Art's barn with oldsir to feed the animals.

When we walked back about 2 hours later, I saw that he was still sleeping in the same place.

I puttered in the greenhouse for a while and then came back to the house at about noon. I saw that Mr. Grey was still sleeping in the same position. I called to him, but I wasn't expecting any type of response because he's been near totally deaf for the last many months. I didn't want to startle him, but then when I looked at him more closely I saw that he wasn't breathing. I sighed, "Oh no, Mr. Grey. Please, no." I knealt down by him and petted him for the first time, he never allowed me to touch him in life.

Oldsir was gone to the next town over to get some supplies, so I decided to take care of the burial (oldsir isn't very good with death or burials). Luckily the frost had come out of the ground late last week. I went and dug in the field out back. The ground was very wet and heavy, so it took a while.

I went back to the house and wrapped him nicely in a towel. Then I walked out to the gravesite followed by an entourage of 3 outside cats. I said a few words to Mr. Grey: "Mr. Grey, I will miss you. You reminded me that every living creature deserves respect. Thank you. You were beautiful, Mr. Grey." I covered the grave and then we walked back to the house.

Yes, I cried. I will miss him.

Those to Remember: Mr. Grey

Here is a post I wrote last year about Mr. Grey: Link



Owned By Cats
Grim Reaper

First, I'm not dead, sick, or totally wacked out (maybe partially wacked out).

Art is slowly improving after his stroke. He's back home and can walk, talk pretty good, use his one arm, and can now feel and slightly move is other arm. He's all there mentally. By fall, he should be back on his tractor again (although driving a car may be out until next spring). His son is now home from college (graduated from Michigan State), and will be working the farm with Art's brother this summer. The toiling of oldsir and I in the barn has come to an end. Lenny and his goat cohorts are in the pasture, taking up their lonely vigil. Lenny never did get to like me very much. He tolerated my existence in order to get fed and his stall mucked out. One of the goats butted me in my butt when I was bending over, I wound up with my head in bucket of water. It could have been worse, it could have been a pile of manure.

The flowers and vegetables are all sprouted and the flowers are actually transplanted already. My garden is going to be the largest it has been in years this year. Oldsir has had about 95% germination of the impatiens this year, meaning way too many flowers for us, and many flowers to give away in another couple of weeks.

The lawn has been mowed (by me) already this year. It was a very early spring. The temperatures were near 80 on Wednesday and Thursday. It was in the high 60s today. Monday morning we might have a last frost to contend with and I'm worried about my apple trees, which are starting to bloom. D@mmit.

My brother's wife passed away (heart attack) about a month ago. I talked of her earlier in this journal in a way that wasn't very flattering. She never let me hear the end of that, either, until now. My brother (same brother) also lost one of his daughters to cancer last week. He is going through a very hard time and I'm not quite sure how to help him. I go and wash up his dishes and fix him some lunch every other day. He sits and watches the weather channel (that must be genetic, because that's my favorite channel, too). He doesn't say much. He reads the newspaper. He won't even go to church, of which he is very fond. I think he's equating church with funerals. Oldsir says he'll go and pick him up and bring him to help in the greenhouse tomorrow. Sammy will never forgive me.

I realize that I never mentioned that I brought Mona into the house a few months ago. She is slowly adapting to the rules and whys and whatfors that apply in the house. She's definitely not use to being the low cat on the totem pole, but my little Peanut lets her know her status daily (Peanut seems to be in glee that she is no longer on the bottom rung). I adore my little ones and am constantly amazed by them.

My little Peanut's aunt showed up on my deck one morning this week. Oldsir saw her, didn't recognize her, but could see that she was hurt badly. He woke me up (of course) and showed her to me. I recognized her immediately. I hadn't seen her in nearly a year. But she was hurt, very hurt. It was about 8AM, so I called the vet and said I had a hurt stray (which she is). The vet's assistant told me to bring her in and they'd work her in. I gathered her up and got her in a box (I didn't want to struggle and possibly hurt her more shoving her into a carrier). I brought her to the vet and when the assistant saw the kitty, she immediately brought her into an exam room. I followed. This is what the vet said: The kitty must have been hit by a car or some type of vehicle. Her tongue was severed, her jaw shattered. She was extremely dehydrated. She must have been lying somewhere and the little rain shower we had the night before revived her enough for her to get to my place. There was really no hope for her. She was suffering. She would never be able to eat normally and would probably die gradually over the next few days. I couldn't let that happen. I held her and petted her and quietly told her what a good kitty she was while the vet gave her the shot to put her to sleep.

This isn't the first time I've had to have a kitty put to sleep, but I feel like a murderer.

Why do they always come home to me?

My Bobbie is doing very well and has proved the vet wrong with the diagnosis end-stage kidney failure last December. I make sure he always has his fill of chicken or turkey or ham. He also likes a little beef roast once in a while. Tuna will do in a pinch.

Those to remember: My sister-in-law once told me I had more brains than sense. At the time, she was probably right. She was a beautiful woman, with naturally red hair with just the right amount of curl in it, blue eyes, graceful hands with long fingers (the piano-playing type of fingers). Yes, she did play the piano well. I knew her for 60 years. I'll miss her, even though. In our own way, we did love each other. Goodbye Minnie, you will be missed. Thank you for being you.

Goodbye Myrna, my niece with the beautiful voice and astonishing eyes. I wish I had known you better. Thank you for the light you brought into so many lives.

Goodbye Jackie, I did what I thought was right for you. You were a good kitty. Thank you for the purrs and nudges and love.

Y'all take care of yourselves, please.

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Owned By Cats
50 years

50 years ago today, I married Oldsir. I'd do it all over again, if I had to. He's a good person. He's also a tree-hugging bleeding-heart liberal, just like me. :)

We've had bad times, but most of what I remember is good. The best, so far, has been the last few years. We've mellowed. We learned to say no to the outside world whenever it bothers us. We live quietly in the house we love.

I don't think I've ever described the inside decor of our house. Our decorating style is eclectic at best. We simply have the things that amuse us and bring us joy and wonder. We have a knight's armor standing in our living room, along with a widescreen tv and a too-loud sound system attached to it (attached to the tv, not the knight). We have a grandfathers clock and stained glass pictures and stained glass lamps, next to the pictures of the Haunted Mansion at Disney World and Disneyland. We have many, many plants, large and small. The largest plant is a corn plant (not a corn stalk, but a plant that's called a corn plant) which is 16 1/2 feet high (we have an open space which is 24 feet high, which leads to the balcony for the upstairs, it's in that space that the corn plant resides). The smallest (besides any bacterial growth) baby's tears plant which is only about 1 inch long. We have a 55 gallon fishtank and a large birdcage. We have African sculptures and masks, along with the 6' "Thinking Man of Borneo." We have replicas of ancient Egyptian artwork, along with a large replica of King Tut's mask. There are my cherished wood relief carvings from Bali. We have many of the Cain wildlife sculptures. We have carved wooden Chinese dragons and Bahrongs. We have an electrical chess set, that will play a game by itself (moving it's own pieces). I have carved wooden sculptures of cats ranging from only an inch high to 4 feet high. There's much, much more, and we keep buying what catches our eye.

It's like I said, anything that amuses us, we're the ones who live here (Better Homes & Gardens doesn't live here).

We planted our garden on Memorial Day. We made the garden bigger this year, not only because the seeds germinated way too well, but because we're also combining Art's garden with ours this year. My brother also isn't going to be having a garden this year, so we planted extra for him. We also figure some people will need some free vegetables, what with the job situation being what it is (bad, very bad, hundreds of thousands of jobs have left this part of the state bound for Mexico, Canada, India, China, and various other countries) around here.

Art is doing much better. He has better than 50% use of his affected arm back, and it's getting better every day.

I'm going to make this missive a little short today, I think I want to spend some more time with Oldsir before he goes to bed (in about 45 minutes).

Things to remember: I saw the most beautiful rainbow early yesterday evening. It was a double rainbow. I took a picture of it. If I can remember how to post a picture here, I'll post it. When you see a rainbow, you just have to stop what you're doing an just enjoy it, stare at it so you never forget it. Rainbows are wonderful things that remind us that there are simple things in life that need to be enjoyed right here and now because in a few minutes it will be gone.

One last thing: Sugar-Snit has a lovely voice.

Thank you.



Owned By Cats
Ladies and Gentlemen: Lenny has left the farm

Lenny moved out from Art's farm 2 weeks ago. He went back to his original owner, along with his two goat friends. I'll miss his bored looking face. He never did acknowledge my existence, even though I mucked out his stall and fed him for a few months.

However, the pasture is not empty. (The sheep are in a different pasture in the summer months, away from the farm.) Two horses have taken up habitat in the pasture. To tell you the truth, I just noticed them this past weekend and I haven't been over to Art's place in a week, so I don't know where they came from, who they belong to, or what their names are. Yet. I'll have to bring some more romaine over there, so I'll find out then.

Speaking of romaine. In a lot of ways it's good we planted so much of it.

First, the deer keep trying to, and partially succeeding, eat the hearts out of the romaine. Those darling little cats outside like to tease the deer when they wander by, so the deer quick bite and run. They show up at the very beginning of dawn. The cats are waiting. I stayed up to watch this twice now. The cats spy the deer and run pell mell, rumble tumble, straight at the deer. Good kitties.

Second, we're eating romaine every noon and night with our meals. I know its good for us.

Third, we give most of it away. There are so many people now who are without everything. I have never seen so many have so little in this area. Through my sisters and brothers and extended family, we sent the message that lettuce is to be had or it will go to waste. We've given away about 68 heads so far. We have about 30 heads to go. Yes, we grew a lot of it. Now it can never be said that we have never done anything for anyone.

It's a rainy summer so far. I have only had to go to the cemetery once to water the flowers. One other thing, and this one for some reason seems very important to me: The corn in the field out back is growing at an alarming rate this year. It is suppose to be "knee-high by the fourth of July." It is over my head high. I have never seen the corn so high this early in the season. We've had rainy summers before and this never happened. It's downright errie. (It's not fertilizer, either.)

My refrigerator died 3 weeks ago. It was 18 years old. It had a good life. It was steadily warming up the last 6 months. I noticed last December that ice cream was getting soft in the freezer. I had the repairperson out to look at it, but he pronouced it terminal, due to a freon leak. So oldsir and I went to Lowe's and bought a new shiny stainless steel fridge. Now the ice cream is too hard.

My kitties are doing fine (knock on wood).

We're going to go to Florida again in September. Oldsir loves Florida. But then again he also loves Las Vegas and Los Angeles and Seattle and San Diego and Phoenix and Sante Fe and San Francisco. I wanted to go to Calgary to that huge mall there. We flipped a coin and he won. He said I could go to Calgary in February. I. don't. think. so. I'll send him a postcard from Tahiti. (I wouldn't do that... I'd phone him. ;) )

Thing to remember: About a month or so ago, I saw someone I thought I recognized in the grocery store in town. I haven't seen him in almost 64 years, so I wasn't sure if it was him. I got a couple of more peeks at him and I got my nerve up to speak to him. I went to him and said "Excuse me? I think I use to catch butterflies with you when we were five." He looked at me, looked at me closer, and said "Goldie?" I smiled and said "It's good to see you again, Larry." He laughed and his eyes sparkled. "I remember that and you, though to be honest I haven't thought of it in years." he said. We spoke for about 2 minutes and left with smiles on our faces.

His mother helped my mother when my mother hurt her back one summer when I was 5 years old. She brought along her son, Larry, who was my age. Larry had a butterfly net and we spent the mornings in the pasture chasing butterflies. It is a wonderful memory. Larry and his mother moved away after that summer, she remarried (her first husband died in a factory accident).

In the two minutes that we spoke, Larry told me he was back to see his father's grave, which is in a graveyard near my town (not the same one where my family is buried).

I'm glad we had that time to speak. I'm glad we had that time, all those years ago, to try to catch butterflies. Thank you, Larry.



Owned By Cats
Goodbye Johnny

What a sad day, today. Johnny Carson died. I enjoyed watching him on the Tonight Show for many, many years.

He will truly be missed by yours truly.

Oldsir is fine, kitties are fine, even Elly May is fine. It was very cold last night, -19 F. We rarely see that kind of cold here, but the wind was from the NE, rather than off from Lake Michigan to the west. Friday night we got about a foot of snow. We're use to getting that much in one night, but other areas outside the lake-effect snow belt are having troubles dealing with the abundance of snow.

We ordered our seeds for the garden and flowers this week. The days are slowly lengthening again, the night losing ground.

Things to Remember: One time I was in northern Lower Michigan when the temperature hit -44 F (That's where F and C meet). I was started awake with the sound of what sounded just like a gunshot, then another, then another. It wasn't gunshot, however. It was the sap exploding in the trees outside the house I was in. That's cold!

Behave yourselves, I'm still watching. ;)