the result: clean as a whistle

Mr._Clean_logoSo, the cleaning people just left. While it was strange as all get out, I can’t argue with the results.

Both cats FREAKED OUT. I don’t know exactly why; we’ve had repair people and delivery people in the house before. George cowered and Freddie did too. I took them upstairs in the loft with me and the three of us hid there, feeling superfluous. George foolishly ventured down (they aren’t lying about curiosity and cats) and stayed down for the duration; when it was all over I found him cowering under a table. Fred stayed with me while I read “Deathly Hallows” and played Candy Crush upstairs.

When all is said and done, I have to say, this is pretty nice. The house is spotless. They cleaned everything. They cleaned things I didn’t know were dirty. It smells like a lemon exploded in here. Thank you Cleaning Girls, Inc. of Long Island. 🙂

I still feel weird about having someone come to clean my house, but not so weird that I wouldn’t do it again.

clingy cats

I love cats of all kinds. Big ones, little ones, lap cats and mean cats and cats that are crazy and cats that run the world. Stripey, orangey, black, white, splotchy, what have you. I don’t have a preference because I like them all for their quirks and their pecadillos. It’s what makes cats fun, in my opinion. They’re such individuals.

While some cats are more affectionate than others, in general there’s a certain standard of standoffishness you expect from a cat, right? A certain “I don’t care what you do” superiority, even if they don’t mean it deep down (sometimes they’re just faking for appearances). That slow blink that says, “You have an incurable tumor? Yes, that’s very interesting. And once you’re dead, my food bowl will be getting filled how?” I mean, those of you who knew my Katie can attest that she was never anything other than annoyed with the world, something I rather enjoyed.

The point is, given all of that, I was somewhat unprepared for Fred and George. Loving, affectionate, not given to sulks or attitude, they’re wonderful kitties… even if sometimes I’m scratching my head, wondering if they missed a day in Cat Attitude School. Still, lately they’ve really taken it up a notch. These days they’re downright…clingy. If I sit still for more than five minutes, I’m generally swarmed on by orangey fluff, and if I lie down on the bed, I end up with this:

I’m not complaining, believe me. But I’ll never know what I did to deserve such kitty devotion. Of course, it’s possible they’re just using me for body warmth and ear rubbings.

Catster’s 5 Favorite Comic Book Cats

Catster is celebrating National Comic Book Day (September 25) with this post about their favorite cats in comics. I had forgotten all about Streaky the Super-Cat, Supergirl’s sidekick (to mirror Superman’s Krypto)!

“Streaky was also briefly a member of the Legion of Super-Pets, consisting of several high-powered animals, including a monkey, a horse, and Superman’s dog, Krypto. Since those halcyon days, comics have thankfully found more substantial roles for cats.”

comic-book-cats-05True — like the Siamese cat from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Dream of a Thousand Cats. It’s a story that is at once wondrous and magical, but at the same time, sad, soulful and frightening — sounds like Neil. 🙂

“The most wondrous and mystical cat on this list, the itinerant Siamese narrates a harrowing tale of love and loss. Seeking retribution against the callousness of her human owners, the Siamese goes on a visionary quest for the Cat of Dreams. The issue is an extended meditation on the question of whether cats dream, as well as the power of the imagination to create reality.”

Read more at:
For National Comic Book Day, Our 5 Favorite Comic Book Cats | Catster.

only in my dreams

sandman05Today we’re having a vet come to the house to microchip our two cats. It’s a good thing to do, but not one that gives me as much comfort as it should. I’m terrified of them getting outside in the first place, which is part of why we’re using a housecall vet. Fred joins me in this terror: ever since the move he’s been leery of windows, even. George, on the other hand, is a fledgling escape artist.

Last night I dreamed that both cats had gotten lost. The part where they were missing was actually very short. I found them and was holding them clutched to me (a feat only possible in dreams, as that’s about 30 pounds of cat, and Fred squirms a lot when you pick him up). They were clinging to me tightly, but I didn’t know how to get them to safety. I didn’t have a car, or a phone, or anything. I couldn’t find the person I’d arrived there with. I walked a long, long way to where I thought they were, but they still weren’t there. I decided to walk back as I’d come and just hope for the best — hope I saw someone I knew, someone who could help. About ten steps later, I saw my mother. She was walking toward me and had on a white top with little flowers and a blue hem, a shirt I’d forgotten about until today but one she wore often. I told her what was going on and she said yes, she had a car. In a dream-flash we were there. I put the cats safely in the car and felt a great wash of relief. We were parked outside of the place she liked to get ice cream and, burden resolved, we decided to go inside for something to eat. And that was it.

I’m not a trained psychologist but it doesn’t take one to understand what that was about. Sometimes, I want my mother. My mother was a champion fixer-of-problems, her kids’ problems most of all. When there was a crisis, she didn’t get panicked. She didn’t freak out. Car accident, failed class, computer broken, bad situation as work, whatever. She just helped you fix it, and that was that, and you didn’t have to worry anymore. And I miss that. I miss it. Does anyone ever stop missing that?

Sometimes dreams are weird and stupid and scary. Sometimes they’re silly. Sometimes they’re obvious. Mine tend towards the latter. Not scary, exactly, but an obvious manifestation of my fears. So in the meantime, then, kitties stay home whenever possible, and that means Fred’s personal physician comes to him.

I may never leave the house again

Amazon_1It’s not true, of course. I’m not a hermit. I leave the house for work, for food, for movies, for friends, for family, for the pool. I might be willing to give up a few of those, but not all. Definitely not the pool. Or Chipotle. So I’ll leave the house again, and again, but one thing I almost never leave the house for anymore is shopping.

This is what we’ve bought from Amazon in the past two months: a mouse (the computer kind), dog shampoo (for a friend, or rather his dog), cat food, safety strips for the tub, a dustbuster, a hand mixer, cat litter, cake pans, garbage bags, a book, a step stool, an extension cord, socks, a hubcap, and batteries. We have Amazon Prime, and everything gets here about as quickly as the drones can bring it. The hand mixer arrived, regular shipping, 19 hours after we ordered it.

From Target, with the RedCard’s free shipping: clothes, a picture frame, Tide pods, gift cards, screening for the porch, a humidifier, a pillow, a phone, a bathing suit, and a baby gate for the cats.

And from Fresh Direct? Foods, foods, and more foods.

You have to understand: I just hate shopping.  Unless it’s Wegmans, just the very idea of milling about in a store makes me exhausted. I don’t know what part of it is the worst (well, yes, I do) but it’s some combination of the huge, overheated stores, the lines, the people, the parking, the flourescent lighting, the people, the Muzak, the noise, and the people. Shopping online is so much easier, so much quieter, so much more pleasant. I click and a short time later it arrives, all without waiting in line, driving anywhere, parking, or even talking to anyone else. It’s wonderful.

I’m not a hermit, but I confess I wish I could at least play one on TV.


kitty anniversary day

On this day, five years ago, I brought two orangey furry guys home with me. While we of course celebrate their birthdays each year, I also like to commemorate Kitty Anniversary Day.

If the preceding paragraph isn’t explanation enough, you should go into this blog post knowing that whatever kind of crazy cat person you think you are, or have met in the past, my crazy catness is well off those charts. I am happier in the company of my boys than I am in that of almost every other human I know. They are two bright spots in my existence. They’re family. If you’re scoffing already, get out now. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Five years ago I was looking for two boy kittens to bring home. One day, I visited the Buffalo Animal Shelter. It must have been fate because I took one step into the cat room and saw them there, the two best-looking cats in the world, brother kitties, waiting there for me.

George and Fred at the shelterI quickly found a volunteer and said I wanted to meet them, but I already knew  we were meant to be together. This meeting was just a chance to spend time with them right away. They took me to the little room used for meet & greets and then brought the cats in. One of them (George) ran onto a kitty tower, looking a little afraid, distracted by newfound freedom and toys. The other sauntered toward me, confident and calm. He sniffed my finger then allowed me to pet him, and that was how I met Fred.

I went to finalize their adoption and learned that the shelter only accepted cash. The nearest ATM was a mile or so away. I left, begging them to keep those kitties for me until I came back — I was worried that someone else would swoop in at just that moment, see the two most wonderful cats in the world, and steal them away. Excited, I hurried back, and we signed all the forms, and they were mine. One last goodbye and they were whisked off for their snip-snip surgeries, and the next day they were ready to come home.

They were a little scared in the vet’s office, I remember, and cried a little in the carrier (back then, they both fit in — and preferred to be in — one). But I took them out to the car and the smooth noise of the engine and the last dregs of anesthesia calmed them down; first they were purring, and then fast asleep. It was snowing lightly all our ride home. We have been together since, and I love their company. They were there through long lonely times between visits with Dave, two surgeries and then a scary big move to Long Island. They’ve done wonderfully adjusting to their new home and I hope we make them happy here.

Some things have changed over time: they used to cuddle with each other, always, like two peas in a pod. Now, they will only occasionally sit near each other, and there is sometimes a skirmish of swiping and chasing, like two bickering teenagers, instead. They’re bigger, of course, and very different from each other. But still each perfect.

IMG_1570Georgie is a sweet, sweet boy, the prettiest cat I’ve ever seen (I’m biased, I know), and full of affection. He spends most days on my lap and sometimes will cuddle between us in bed at night — though he’s often too restless for that. He purrs and kneads and cries little kittenish cries for attention. He’s never grown up and remains a baby, and I know he thinks I’m his mother. He can be incredibly cute and loving, and he can also be a bad bad kitty, knocking things over just for attention, eating everything in sight, and generally wreaking havoc. He never learned his own name and doesn’t understand a thing I say to him, whether whispered or yelled — I actually came to the conclusion that he likes when I yell (“mommy making the shouty noise yay!”) and stopped bothering. He thinks squirt guns are a fun at-home water park activity and he’s climbed in the shower with me on more than one occasion. He’s a big doofus but he’s clever; he loves playing with Dave more than anything, and I love him in spite of, or maybe sometimes because of, his badness.

IMAG0143Fred is a more serious cat. He hates to be picked up and never sits on my lap, but he’ll climb onto me or Dave while we’re laying down, hunkering down on your chest with his face an inch from yours. And he climbs into bed with me every night, sometimes for hours at a time, his head on my pillow, purring, wrapped up in my arms. He comes when I call him and he understands what I say to him. Sometimes he purrs just when I look at him. His love is unrelenting, steadfast, and uncompromising. He takes care of me when I need him and I protect him from all his fears: grocery bags, strange neighborhood kitties, and the world outside his four walls. We have a special bond. No one in the world loves me like Freddie does, and no one but Freddie ever could.

So happy anniversary, Fred and George, of the day you came into my life. Thank you for choosing me. Belly rubs of celebration tonight.

home sweet home

I very much love my new home. For one thing, it has Dave in it.  🙂 Of course, I missed my old home a lot when I moved; it was a good place to live — I lived there thirteen years, and had the best neighbors anyone in the world could ask for (our new home, btw, comes complete with a downstairs neighbor who apparently has super-hearing… it’s not at all as cool as living near a superhero should be). But I’m very happy here. I like it because it’s ours, I like it because we made it our home together. And a few other things, specifically:

IMG_19061. The closet.

I mean, it’s enormous. You could fit a Manhattan apartment in there. There are lots of shelves (including one for our stuffed animal residents) and then we got these great cloth bins as shower presents, and those keep the Wildebeest from kicking everything over.

I’ve never loved a closet before but sometimes I just want to hang out in mine and revel in all the spaciousness. You could take a nap in there if you wanted to, or sublet to a small family, or conceal a passage to Narnia somewhere. Which might explain where Freddie disappears to sometimes.

IMG_19112. Laundry.

I grew up with laundry in the basement, and that’s where it was in my old house — all thirteen years of climbing two flights of stairs each way just to do a single load of laundry. Add in a back injury and it’s nothing but torture. And the shame of it all is, I like doing laundry, in general. I like getting everything nice and clean and folded and put away. But not when it involved mountain climbing. Here, we’ve got this great little laundry closet off the kitchen, and it’s easy as anything to do. Add in the laundry sorter we got and it’s downright nifty. George likes to ride it from the closet to the laundry, though that might have something to do with the many twist ties he’s already managed to stash under the dryer.

IMG_00193. When it snows, it’s someone else’s problem.

Mind you, it’s not like there’s generally much to worry about — I have a hard time not giggling over anyone calling this little bit of snow a blizzard. I’ve driven through white-outs where you can’t see the tail lights of the car ahead of you at times, and dug out my driveway and sidewalk with snowbanks so high it looked like the ice planet Hoth. It’s nowhere near as much, in comparison, out there today — but it could have been. It could have been ten feet of snow, instead of maybe about ten inches, and it wouldn’t have mattered, now that there are nice people who come and plow and shovel it all away. I can just enjoy the nice wintry view instead.

IMG_19124. And, most of all, Freddie has laid claim to new territory.

I worried about my Freddie adjusting to his new home. George, as predicted, has become a mighty hunter, intent on exploring his new jungle and taking out prey. But Fred seemed to take it harder. At first he often seemed kind of lost, not able to find his way around. But I think he’s got his bearings now. The back of the living sofa, in front of his fireplace, and here at the end of the bed, on his pillow, he appears to be right at home again — we all are.


year in review: 2013

So I’m a sucker for quizzes, surveys, memes, all that stuff. I think these are usually more fun to do than they are to read, though — so you should feel free to just skim my answers and do your own, if you like. If you do read, though, I warn that there may be some snark along the way. That’s my traditional new year’s gift.

Year in Review: A 2013 Survey

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Well, I got married, which I definitely have not done before, to the best of my knowledge.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes, and no. I made a resolution to stick to a particular diet plan and I did stick to it; it wasn’t successful, but that’s not the fault of my willpower. I don’t think I’m going to make any for 2014. Lower expectations, greater rewards, and all that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not yet, and probably not by the end of the year, but soon. 🙂

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not really. My grandmother died this year, but in truth we were not close. I am sorry for the family members who were close to her, though.

5. What places did you visit?

The Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls, and, of course, Long Island, a lot. Though it doesn’t count as visiting anymore.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Nothing. I just want to keep everything I have now.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched in your memory, and why?

I think I’ll remember our wedding date, November 9, pretty much forever.  But there’s also October 26, which is the day Dave came to Buffalo and we stopped being apart. That was the best day of all, really.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Making it to October 26.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Weight loss. I tried a new method and it didn’t work for me. I’m disappointed to have not made any real progress this year. I’ll keep trying some other way, but I had high hopes for this.

10: Did you suffer illness or injury?

Unfortunately, as has been the case the past couple of years, I still struggle with my back. Recovering from surgery was long and hard, and only partially successful. Not to sound corny, but if you have good health, value it. I feel I didn’t do that enough, before.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Last month I bought an iPad mini (and sold the 1st-gen iPad I bought way back in the day in 2010) and I’m really thrilled with it. Steve Jobs was thoroughly opposed to a smaller iPad; in general I think he was a true genius and Apple will never innovate as it did under his direction again, but I think he might have been wrong about this one. The mid-size between an iPhone and a full iPad is perfect, at least for me.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My niece Rebecca makes both Dave and I incredibly proud just to be related to her. She’s awesome.

13. Whose behavior was not so exemplary?

Georgie is a bad, bad kitty, and he knocks things over all the time for no reason at all. I still love him, though.

14. Where did most of your money go?

FredCo’s offshore accounts. Also, rent and moving. And a wedding.

15. What did you get really excited about?

Well, the wedding. Also, in no particular order, bingo, marriage equality, Catching Fire, and spaghetti parm.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Probably Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder? Happier.
b. thinner or fatter? I think almost exactly the same.
c. richer or poorer? Well, I’m unemployed now.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At home, with the kitties, our tree, and cheeseburgers.

19. Did you fall in love in 2013?

From now on, I fall in love every year.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

How I Met Your Mother. But we also love Modern Family. In a surprise move, I’ve also gone back to both Glee and Top Chef.

21. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate at this time last year?

I hate all the same people I did before, plus our downstairs neighbor, who once complained about the noise we were making when we were out of town.

22. What was the best book you read?

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I didn’t read a ton this year, though I started a lot of books I never finished.

23. What did you want and get?

A husband. Also, a Supreme Court ruling (two of them actually).

24. What did you want and not get?

Marriage equality everywhere. A cure for AIDS. A totally non-broken back.

25. What was your favorite film of this year?

Catching Fire

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Dave says I was 41 this year (I never remember). We were in the Finger Lakes at our favorite bed and breakfast, The Hayward House.

27. Which celebrity/public figure did you admire the most?

I don’t think about celebrities much. But I like Sir Patrick Stewart, and not just for his ability to moo with different accents.

28. Whom did you miss?

I missed Mom a lot this year.

29. Who was the best new person you met?

Michael & Mindy Shedler, Dave’s former and sometimes boss and his wife, who came to our wedding as well. Also Uncle Norman and Aunt Jane, and a lot of other new relatives.

30. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

From the Goo Goo Dolls, “Come to Me”

Today’s the day I’ll make you mine
So get me to the church on time
Take my hand in this empty room
You’re my girl, and I’m your groom

Come to me my sweetest friend
Can you feel my heart again
Take you back where you belong
This will be our favorite song
Come to me with secrets bare
I’ll love you more so don’t be scared
When we’re old and near the end
We’ll go home and start again

time out

relaxing_300I joined Weight Watchers last January. Overall, I have only good things to say about the program. I think it’s healthy, and I think it focuses on good eating habits for life. I like that they teach moderation, not deprivation. I think the program is simple to follow, and I think they have a lot of great ideas. It’s a little expensive, and I sometimes think a little too corporate, but I recommend it, I really do. I worked hard for 11 months, recovering after my surgery, sometimes in pain, sometimes not. The exercise I used to like hasn’t been a possibility, so I focused on eating well instead. And while WW didn’t give me dramatic results, it did start moving the scale in the right direction, instead of the scary wrong one it had been headed in. But having said all of that, I’m officially on hiatus for a little while. It’s a good program, and one I know I’ll go back to when I’m ready, but it’s just not working for me right now.

I wish I wasn’t the kind of person who gets comfort from food, though, honestly, I’m not sure I know anyone who could really claim they don’t either. And I’ve got a lot to be happy about: I’m married to a wonderful guy, and we had a beautiful wedding. The move went more or less well, and we’re here, in an apartment I love, in a nice town. But despite all that, this isn’t the easiest time for me. I’m still sad sometimes. I miss home. And it’s been a lot to get used to in a short period of time. As my very wise friend Amybeth said, leaving everything I was familiar with and moving here has been a little like Dorothy waking up in Oz. It’s amazing here, but it’s different. I don’t want to go home — this is home — but I’m adjusting. I need time. It’s like the boys — George came around fast, but Freddie has been slower to adjust. He likes it here, but he still seems confused sometimes, unsure. I guess I’m more like Fred and I just need a little longer to get used to it.

So I thought about it, and I came to some conclusions — about things in general, not just Weight Watchers. I feel like while I’m adjusting, I need to cut myself a little slack, whether it’s not worrying about my lack of employment just yet, not freaking out over how much more everything is here, or putting down the WW Points Calculator for a little while. I’ll try not to go crazy with foods and I’ll try to keep acclimating, I’ll keep looking for bargains and we’ll keep our eyes open for opportunities. But for now, I think I need a time out from making any other demands on myself other than just shifting gears and being kind to myself while I do it.

movin’ on up

wheelmudSo, we’re here. On Long Island, and home. As I write this, Dave is finishing up one of our last tasks, hooking up the TV in the living room, and with that, we’ll have everything almost set. Not too bad, right? Less than two weeks later and we’re done with the move and everything. Did it all go off without a hitch? Not exactly, but in the end it all worked out.

The morning after our wedding, tired and headachy from a hotel room with the worst ventilation ever, we said goodbye to a lot of people: out of town guests traveling back home, friends hitting the road, people from home I would be leaving in a few days. And I did not handle it well. The excitement of the wedding, I think, kept me from thinking too hard about the fact that I was moving away from everything I know. There were a lot of tears.

Also a lot of manual labor. There was still some packing and cleaning to do, and on Monday, a giant U-Haul truck to load. That eventually went really smoothly, but not before we drove it back from the rental site, pulled up to the house… and promptly got really stuck in the mud. And when you get an enormous 26′ moving truck stuck in the mud, even a little, there’s really no simple rock-back-and-forth solution. The more you try that, the worse it gets. You’re stuck. I mean, we had a trained archaeologist on hand, and even she couldn’t dig us out (thanks for trying, though, Jen!). But an hour or so of panic, a tow from a slightly smaller U-Haul truck later, and we were back in business. Everything got loaded up and the guys hit the road, and Dave and I spent one last night in an empty house, said goodbye to some good friends, and got up Tuesday morning and left, kitties in their carriers, car loaded to the gills.

IMG_1805It wasn’t that bad of a drive. The cats didn’t like it, and didn’t eat or use their litter box, or drink anything other than a few drops of milk, but they were calm the whole ride. And we made decent time, and kept each other company. It was okay. We arrived home in Smithtown in one piece, home to a house already full of furniture and boxes, thanks to our amazing family and friends who’d unloaded the truck, and a nice welcome home surprise from my new mother-in-law.

IMG_1818The days since have been busy. We’ve taken some breaks here and there, but I think we both felt the sooner we could get rid of the boxes and get everything set up, the better. We went room by room and got it all done, including moving in The Couch That Almost Wasn’t — if it wasn’t for a terrific new neighbor, that couch would either still be stuck in the hallway, or gone in sawed-apart pieces.

The cats in particular have calmed down a lot now that the boxes are gone. I strongly suspect they don’t know the difference between packing and unpacking, and this has just been a continuation of the disarray their life has been for a month. Georgie is very okay now, exploring and playing all the time. He’s a little too excited and won’t settle down to snuggle, but he will eventually. Freddie has taken a little more time. Spatial relations have never been his strong suit, and there have been times he’s forgotten how to find his water bowl, or even me. But he loves his fireplace, just like I knew he would.

And me? I’m okay. I’m happy, of course. I waited for this day to come for a long time. I love our new home, and I love Dave, and everything is good. But if I’m telling the truth, I’m a lot more homesick than I thought I’d be. I miss everyone. I miss everything. I keep picturing my room in my house, my yard, my driveway. My ride to work. My neighborhood, my stores, my familiar places. It’s not anything against here, but I find myself wishing I could just do the aisles at the NF Boulevard Wegmans, go to bingo, and then come back home here again. And I wish I could do that whenever, and not once in a long while. I love the changes I made, and I love it here, but I miss the things and the people I had to leave behind, maybe a little more than I’d planned on.