Monday, December 31, 2012

While visions of cubicles danced in their heads...

If you currently work in a cube farm, or if you have no set place of work at all (or, indeed, no job at the moment), you will be perfectly right to withhold any and all sympathy for my impending "plight". Nevertheless, I hate it and I shall whine about it.

They (the monolithic THEY who decide where, how, and when peons in any given organization will work) have decided to kick us out of our beautiful, custom-built-for-us building and shove us into substandard digs in an old building on campus that (A) cannot possibly hold all of us, (B) deprives us of an on-site meeting place, and (C) ensures that our current growth will have us busting the seams outta the place in no time. "They" want our nice, pretty building for research, never mind that it was not built for that purpose and they'll have to spend a pretty penny remodeling it. In fact, a previous regime of "They" promised any building on campus to a particular research outfit in exchange for a buttload of money, and that chicken just happened to come to roost right on top of us at just this point in time. We've tried to tell them we won't fit in the new place (Drane Hall), but it doesn't matter--They want us to move, so we're moving, sometime in the spring.

They're remodeling inside Drane, of course, but there's only so much you can do with a 60-year-old university office building when two of its floors (and part of the third) are already occupied and its footprint cannot expand beyond its current boundaries. So most of us are going to be sharing a small office with at least one other person. Me and my crew, however, are going to be shoved into one long room in a bunch of cubicles--10 people in one room. Ten introverted editors and production wonks, all of whom need to concentrate on their work, crammed into one room. And I've seen the room in question; if we're lucky, there'll be room for cubicles to provide an illusion of separation. It looks to me more like 10 open desks, with maybe a hutch between me & thee.

I've worked in all sorts of situations since I was 18--a spot at a long drafting table, one corner of a room, a dumb terminal and chair whenever there was one available, floating between stations depending on what type of work I was doing, sharing an office with 3-5 other people (not in cubicles, and it was a pretty large room)--but never in a cube farm. And I've had an office to myself for the past 14 years or so, which makes the prospect of cubicles even more hideous. I use my entire big desk in my private office when I'm working on a project; in a cubicle, I'll be lucky to grab half that amount of desktop space.

But the loss of space isn't the part I hate most--it's the loss of separation, the loss of privacy, the loss of one little corner where I can shut the door and decompress from contact with humans for an hour each day. And the loss of SILENCE, of being able to hear myself think as I edit or code or whatever, of controlling the noise in my environment, of being invisible to people who want me to do stuff during my lunch break.

AAARRGH--I hate it! Even the tiny office I had in the previous suite we were shuttled into by a crazy boss was better than a cubicle.

"Oh! But you'll have a window again! The room has a whole bank of windows! There'll be so much natural light!" Big effin' deal--I'd trade all those windows for a private office in a storage closet.

How long 'til retirement now? Only about 12.5 years....

Why, yes, I will have some cheese with my whine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

White Christmas

We don't often have a white Christmas, and with the persistent drought this year, I sure didn't expect one... but we got one! Below left is the backyard from the French doors, and right is the front yard. The amazing part is the snow-covered street--snow rarely sticks to the street.

An artistically frozen leaf on the backdoor mat.
The sun peeped out briefly while we were having breakfast at Denny's, but has since gone back into hiding. The passage of cars is clearing the streets a bit, but all that slush will freeze solid tonight. Good thing we've got all our provisions--we're staying inside for a couple of days!

Minnie's not too happy with that....

She hates using the litterbox, but will if she has to, thank goodness.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lapful of kitty

Sister A. was away for a week recently (during which time I turned into a bachelor and ate like a pig), and when she got back, Annabelle spent a lot of time like this:

I think she was pinning A. down so Mommy couldn't leave again. :) So far, it's working!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Slacker Sunday

Work stuff

So it's been over a month since I blogged--so sue me. There's been plenty going on, but a lot of it has been work, work, and more work, after which I'm tuckered out. Things are calming down a bit now--we've got a Production schedule all nicely written up & agreed to by all parties, and hopefully  everybody will stick to it in future, instead of promising things to people that aren't anywhere near ready yet. That would be a nice change in our operating policy. I get the feeling that, over the past month or so, my boss has directed a great many reality checks to the Big Dogs and other manager-types who tend to do all that unfounded promising.

Cats and art stuff

A few weeks ago, Sister A's friend, Audrey, brought her Gram (Annabelle's former owner) to visit Annabelle (and us, incidentally). It's been nearly six months since we adopted our little refugee so, of course, Annabelle didn't remember Gram and hid in A's closet, freaked out by strangers. But Gram understood. We did have some kitty action, though--Sammi sauntered in for friendly petting after a while. Minnie, of course, vanished completely, the big chicken.

A. took Audrey on a tour of the house (she was the inspiration for many of our design choices, particularly painting the various rooms different colors instead of all off-white, as we boring folk tend to do). Audrey is an artist, and when A. told her about our plan to paint my boring beige nightstand lamp so it wouldn't fade into the wall, she jumped all over that project! Out came our leftover paints and my small brushes, and she just stood in our utility room for an hour or so and whipped out this lovely transformation:

Et voilĂ --an Audrey Sullivan original. :) At Audrey's direction, A. gave the lamp base four coats of satin clear spray, to give it a soft shine. I colored the trim on the lampshade with a stain stick later after A. and I decided we'd probably gum up the proposed hot-glue-&-ribbon trim Audrey suggested.

I wish I could just whip out beautiful art like that. I used to be an artist (well, I drew a lot), but all I do these days is customize digital clip-art and maps for instructional documents at work. Oh, well, hand-drawing is kinda hit-&-miss with my hand tremor, anyway. At least cross-stitch doesn't require precision.

Sewing stuff

A. has been plying her needle with various small projects. She just finished a blue-checked apron with a lot of gathers to protect her shirt buttons from being sawed off by constant side-to-side motion while standing at the sink washing dishes (the edge of the countertop is beveled, which was the cheapest option, and we had only so many bucks to spend on our kitchen-and-floor remodel). Before the apron, she made herself a rather colorful muu-muu! That's four different seersucker fabrics and a bit of rickrack on the pockets. :)

And other stuff

My old office chair (that is, the chair at my desk at home, not the one at my place of employment) has developed a banshee-like shriek whenever I sit in it, so I decided that it was probably permissible, after 10 years, to replace the thing with something quieter. A. didn't want something that looked high-tech--that is, with chrome everywhere, so I figured black plastic base and brown fabric would do well enough. Then we saw this yummy leather Broyhill chair for really not too bad a price....

It has wooden arms and legs like a regular piece of furniture and looks great in the den. I hearts it. :)

I'm flushed from putting the chair together. I flush easily.
And, yes, that is a mouse on the floor behind my chair. Kitty toys abound in our house!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kwazy Kats and colds

There are times when I wish I had a videocamera (or digicam, or whatever the heck the cool people call 'em these days). Annabelle, our newest kitty--the youngest of our brood at 6 years old--appears to be reliving her kittenhood. She loves to zoom through the utility room, kitchen, and dining room, her little feet clattering on the cork flooring like a very tiny racehorse. We think she likes the sound (in addition to just having the zoomies). Every now & then she'll stop and bat a mouse around, but mostly, when she gets in this mood, she'll just run around like a nut.

I'm home to watch Her Silliness today because I have a beast of a cold, and I've had it for over a week now, so it's getting really old. Minnie (our middle cat at 7 years old, and mine before our household "fusion") has been very nice about cuddling up on the couch and in bed with me despite my frequent snorts, honks, huffs, coughs, gasps, and nose-blowings that put a semi's air-horn to shame. Purr therapy is very valuable to one's morale, as all cat people know. Alas, it does nothing for nasal congestion, but there you are--ya can't have everything. Sammi, our eldest (at 8 years), has also been very nice to me, not to mention terribly cute when she sleeps on my dresser with her head pillowed on my little Serta sheep.

I did actually work last week--for three whole days--and managed to get caught up on a lot of little jobs, as well as make progress on a bigger one. But I felt like crap yesterday, and slightly less crappy crap today, so since I have the luxury of sick leave, thank goodness....

Extra time with the kitties is almost worth all the snottiness.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rising from the dead

This month has been a bear. The previous "regime" at work (i.e., The Crazy People Who Used To Be In Charge, But, Thank Goodness, Are Now OUTTAHERE) promised that we would have a certain amount of work done by August 1 of this year, and we've been pushing like mad to get those various projects finished. I volunteered to work extra time every Saturday in July to get my part done, and I almost had it all knocked when there was a big computer problem that threw a monkeywrench in the machinery. I lost two days waiting for that to be resolved, then another day yesterday helping get lost data put back where it's supposed to be (manually--there was just no time to write a script to get the data from Point A to Point B; it was quicker to call up an army of volunteers to re-enter the data by hand). So the last part of my deadline work ain't gonna get done by deadline, but at least it wasn't part of my original pile of deadline stuff, so I feel OK about it, and I don't think my new boss is too upset, either.

Yep, I have a new boss, too. I forget when that happened, but at least a month ago. He's our graphic artist (still, in addition to his two other recently acquired boss-type jobs), and he's been in the publishing/graphics biz for quite a while, not only in Academia, but out in the Real World, which is something I really appreciate, since I spent a good many years in that world, too.

(In fact, I was the graphic artist, typesetter, and general publishing wonk here when he was still a junior in high school, but we won't hold that against him. Somebody has to do the administrative crap and go to all those meetings, and I'm glad it isn't me.)

Anyway, I've been running at top speed six days a week for a month, so I'm really, really tired and ready to have my weekends back. Maybe a four-day weekend. Or a week of vacation, piled up with kitties. Any of the above would be most welcome.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Desert willows

When our brother was fixing up his old house to sell, he described part of the work this way:

Let me learn y'all all about foundation repair.
First: Get a work crew out to your house.
Second: Take a bunch of pictures.
Third: Hand the foreman your credit card.

Curiously, that's also how you plant new trees! Isn't it a small world?!

Sister A. was on hand with her trusty camera when the tree guys arrived Thursday, despite her awful cold (which she has since generously shared with me--yay).

The tree guys arrive.

A big-a$$ augur starts drilling the first hole.

The tree guys fine-tune the first hole while the augur gets to work on the second. They ran into some pretty tough roots in the first hole from the old sycamore we had cut down in that spot, but they got through 'em.

Digging the perfect hole.

The tree guys start unloading our new desert willows.

This old sycamore hole needs a little more fine-tuning...with a big ol' pick.

The white-flowering desert willow waits by its new home.

(Left) Planting the first willow, then (right) covering up its feet. The tree isn't as tall as it looks here; there's a large tree across the street that happened to land right behind our desert willow when the photo was taken. The desert willow has lighter green leaves, so you can sorta separate them that way.

Planting the second desert willow. This one has purple flowers, although they mostly got knocked off during the planting process. A. says they bloom all summer, so there will be more.

Two happy trees! That little white blob in the front door is Annabelle, who snoopervised the entire operation.

The head tree guy we spoke with the previous Monday says desert willows will eventually have a canopy that covers most of the yard, but it won't kill our grass because the leaves are more sparse. And we've had good rains the past two nights--a real rarity here and a great welcome-home for our new trees!

Sister A. loves them--she said it's like being back at Girl Scout camp!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New landscaping plan

Yep, we've been fooling around with the house again--or, rather, with the yard around it. Ever since we decided to take down the sick old sycamore in the front yard, we've been tossing around ideas about what kind of tree should replace it. Something that would shade my bedroom window, but not prevent grass from growing; something that won't drop nuts, seed balls, or other hard objects to be shot out from under the mower and knock somebody in the head; something tough, that could withstand the low-water conditions here, yet bear up through the little bit of sub-freezing weather and ice storms we get every winter. There aren't a lot of choices for our zone (7) that match those criteria.

Sister A. has also bemoaned the giant lack of grass in the areas of our yard that lie around the neighbor's two fruitless mulberry trees. Some idiot way back in the history of that home's ownership planted these two trees right next to the driveway, just inside the property line. I'm sure he or she wanted shade there, and that wouldn't be a problem, except that fruitless mulberries grow to be really big. Like, this big:

Examples of mature fruitless mulberry trees.
Check out the size of the tree in relation to that truck. There's one down the street from us that must be 40 feet tall and two feet across the trunk! Imagine two trees that size eating up your driveway and destroying the foundation of your house! Sometimes, people have no brains when choosing trees.

Fortunately, our neighbor agreed to go halvsies on the cost of cutting down her two trees, so A. asked our neighborhood lawn man if he knew a tree guy (which he did), then arranged for said tree guy to not only cut down those trees, but also grind up all the stumps in the front yard. He ground up the mulberry tree stumps, our sycamore stump, and all the remaining pyracantha shrub stumps. So now we have a clean slate to start with.

Our house and the neighbor's, currently treeless.
Last Saturday, in anticipation of all this prep work, we donned long-sleeve shirts, hats, closed shoes, grabbed a big bottle of water, and set out for our favorite nursery to look at every single one of their trees. We were completely dead afterward--they have a LOT of trees, we had to slog through miles of sand, and it was freakin' hot out--but we'd whittled the possibilities down to two: cedar elm and frontier elm (we'd never heard of the latter; it's a hybrid, sez my Googling). Either would be OK, but neither really tripped our triggers.

What Sister A. really likes are desert willows. Here are some samples, with a car for comparison and a close-up of the flowers:

Examples of desert willow trees.
But, said A., desert willows don't go with our "ranch-type-style tract house" (tip o' the hat to Jerry Lewis for that fun phrase).

Well, I thought about that for a week and, at breakfast the next Saturday, asked why it mattered. Turns out there was no good reason. There are plenty of xeriscaped ranch houses in Arizona with desert willows in front of them. They're pretty, the canopy isn't dense enough to kill the grass, the bean pods are small, they don't need huge amounts of water, and since they're lighter than yer regulation deciduous tree, we can get two for the same price as a single cedar elm. They won't throw the same amount of shade on my window as a big tree would, but it'll be enough. And we like them. So why not?

And, hey, said A., if we're going with desert willows, why not replace the struggling euonymus in the front of our house with drought-friendly pampas grass, which we also both like?

So that's what we're doing. We zipped back home for our hats and long-sleeve shirts, went back out to the nursery, and looked at all their desert willows. They had one with white flowers--A. hadn't seen those before and really liked them--plus one with maroony/purplish flowers that had a nice shape. We hailed a passing employee, stuck our names on those trees, and got the name of their tree guy. He's coming out Monday to look at the layout and determine where the trees ought to go (we've staked our suggested spots).

Having arranged that, we went to Home Depot for pampas grass, topsoil, and a few other supplies. Then home to plant. The euonymous in front got moved to a spot with partial shade in back, where they should be much happier.

Sister A. in her slat-bonnet, digging new holes.
The euonymus in their new home. That little stone cairn marks the spot
where caladium bulbs were planted last week, five on each side.
Then we planted the pampas grass in front, moving the holes a little to space them out better around the hose stand.

The new pampas grasses will grow much bigger--we'll have to keep them tamed!
And because it was already on our list of Home Depot-related things to do, we also got five rubber tiles to place over our poured-concrete stepping stones in back. Three of these "stones" were poured too low, so they get flooded whenever it rains, which rather negates their usefulness. These tiles are made of recycled tires, which is very cool.

Rubber tiles cover the poured-concrete stepping stones.
I weed-ate around the concrete squares while Sister A. tackled the fun chore of transplanting and planting stuff (although I did manage to dig up and place one euonymous, which hopefully won't die from contact with my black thumb). And, yes, were were totally dead again after all that. But we're very excited about our new landscaping plan. We think we've hit the nail on the head this time.

Annabelle's 90-day evaluation

So, our refugee has been with us for three months now, and we think she has decided that it was a good move.

We've found out a lot about her in the past 90 days. She has terrible sinus drip-type allergies. Her eyes run 90 percent of the time and they spill over whenever she is moving--which is most of the time! The phlegm that collects in her throat while she sleeps frequently causes problems when she wakes up. She won't blow her nose properly and doesn't want to hawk and spit as that is too unladylike. So she just coughs and coughs and it frequently makes her throw up. Once that nasty old phlegm is out, she's ready to conquer the world. So we have to keep our eyes open for thrown-up kibble, and clean tear-stains off the walls, windows sills, windows, and lots of other stuff where they land when she's flying around the house.

A rare inactive moment, keeping Mom company at breakfast.
She also pees little teeny-weeny ladylike amounts--often. That's okay, but she appears to think that she needs a backhoe, or its equivalent, to cover up all excreta. She flings litter all over the floor and you have to keep a small hand broom at the ready to sweep it out of your way before you can approach the litter box to empty it. Otherwise, you track it all over the house on the bottom of your shoes. The kitties all do enough of this tracking already.

Annabelle likes to scratch on the walls, woodwork, and the slats underneath Sister A's mattress. This last usually happens at Oh, Lord! o'clock in the morning. Her little claws don't make a dent in the walls or woodwork. They're just too tiny and she's not powerful enough to make marks. Luckily, she has learned to scratch her claws on the treadmill deck or on the braid rug in the dining room. Both work for her and we can handle that, since she never does any damage.

Annabelle has chosen A. for her "mom", probably because A. is home all day most every day. Also, she likes to sleep in A's bed on her feet. Sammi sleeps in the tree or next to the pillow on A's bed.

Sammi and Annabelle are trying to become friends. Annabelle wants Sammi to play chase with her, but so far, it hasn't happened. They spend most of their "together" time just sitting and staring at each other.

All of this just describes her physical nature. None of it gives the tiniest clue to her ultra-sweet personality and lovableness. This is one kitty who is a top-notch ankle-winder! And if you are gone from the house for more than five minutes, she will rub all over your feet again and again as if you'd been gone for weeks! She works herself up into such a frenzy that she'll try to give you love bites.

There has been no progress in relations between Annabelle and Minnie--Minnie still hisses at her in passing and sometimes tries to whap her if they happen to get too close together. But Annabelle has decided that she's just going to do her own thing and if the other kitties get bent out of shape, she'll lie down and act submissive until her opponent cools off.

Annabelle does the funniest mid-air "pirouette" when startled--A. had told me about it, and I finally got to see it yesterday. It's like, instead of turning around at ground level, she leaps a foot in the air and lands facing the opposite direction, then scrambles off like her tail's on fire! And her silly play with mice, string, twists of fabric, and her own tail and feet make us think she's reliving her kittenhood. The only thing kittenish thing she doesn't do is climb the drapes--thank goodness!

And it turns out she's not necessarily scared of men, after all. She stayed for a sniff of the tree man when he came inside last Monday, although she didn't let him pet her. Well, that would be rather forward for a ladycat of such delicate sensibilities, now wouldn't it?

We are so glad we took this little mite into our lives. She adds so much more love than her tiny size would predict.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

My dad, "SMITH, G.W.", as it says on his well-decorated helmet. He was in the Navy during World War II, on the U.S.S. Portland. He got to come home at the end of the war, fortunately. In fact, he was so eager to get outta there that when he got his walking papers, he left that fancy helmet on the ship!

Wow, he was so skinny then. Guess we all were, once!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


We had another milestone today. Annabelle likes to sit on newspapers, and today Sister A. happened to have papers in her Annabelle just hopped on up there.

Looks like one happy kitty. :) She got back in A's lap later, too--this time without the added incentive of sitting on newspapers.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A first...and a second!

On two occasions recently--two! count 'em!--Sister A. has woken up with both Annabelle and Sammi sleeping in her bed. Sammi was up by A's head (her usual spot, before Annabelle arrived) and Annabelle was down by A's feet (her usual spot). This is a wonderful milestone for those two.

Today while we were at PetSmart, I lobbied for an "ess" scratcher for Annabelle. We hope this will interest her more than A's favorite chair, which is much too old to take such abuse. I sat with her for a bit while she explored the ess (we're starting it in the sewing room, which is still pretty much Annabelle's territory). While she didn't actually scratch on the thing, she did have fun with the feather toy dangling from under one "wave" of the ess. Here she is, being a total cutie.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Minnie's new friend

My rather asocial cat Minnie appears to have made a friend in the neighborhood--a longhaired gray kitty (gender indeterminate at the moment) has been hanging around with Minnie, mostly in the evenings, for at least a week now. They sit quietly together and even go places in the 'hood together. Here they are relaxing in the back yard.

Gray Kitty is one of the "jingle bell kids" I've met; he/she and two other cats have little bells on their collars, so somebody's taking care of them. (The other two cats are quite young shorthairs, one bold enough to come get a headrub from me once.) GK has what looks like a scab on its tail near the base, with fur missing around it; whatever kind of boo-boo it was, I think it's healing. GK is a skinny, skittish little thing, but he/she tolerated me being outside with him/her and Minnie on the patio for several a safe distance, of course.

It's nice to see Minnie being relaxed with somekitty!

Please ignore mom's pasty white knee.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I forgot to add in my post yesterday that Annabelle is now running all over the house, scratching on our treadmill instead of the walls (progress of a sort), and eating with the big girls (or, anyway, in the same location, if not at the same time).

Minnie still has no use for the new "white thing" and uses bad language every time they pass each other. But we haven't heard an actual fight starting up in several days, so that's OK.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I wish I were a better photographer, or had a better camera, or whatever. (We'll blame the camera, shall we?) Because look at how close Sammi and Annabelle got today! You can see they're within two planks of each other, which is about 8". Annabelle saw Sammi sitting in the living room and did the crouch-and-butt-wiggle, preparing to pounce. She leapt at Sammi, but stopped just short of her. Sammi didn't even react--just looked at her like "Whut?" So Annabelle casually flopped down in front of her. She even laid her head down and poked her little paws at Sammi as if inviting her to play!

Those two are going to be friends someday. :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kitty progress report

It's been three weeks since new-kitty Annabelle arrived, shocking our resident cats, Minnie and Sammi. In that time, she has gone from hiding in Sister A's closet all day to wandering around the whole house, checking things out (if only when the "big girls" are outside or asleep), and knocking her hard mice & squishy balls all over the place.

We were worried about having to leave our unsettled trio for a previously-scheduled five-day trip--this only five days after Annabelle arrived!--but they all survived. Annabelle took to the catsitter well, and there was no blood on the walls upon our return. Our catsitter mentioned in her notes (which we really appreciate--what pet owner doesn’t love hearing about their critters' antics?) that Annabelle "is ready to come out of the bedroom but [Sammi] is not ready for her to do that just yet!"

Before we left on that trip, Sister A. took Annabelle to the vet to have her runny eyes checked, but as I wrote before, he said the problem was most likely just a blocked tear duct, which doesn't hurt her, and there's nothing to be done about it. Annabelle seems to react the same as we do on sinusy days--our eyes (and noses) run, too, only we don't have white fur for it to goop up on. She's certainly full of beans, happy and playful, so she's not in any pain.

Ignore the goopy eyes--the vet says she's healthy.

The vet did give us eyedrops to try on her...four times a day! After returning from our trip, we tried to get her to take the drops, but as Sister A. reported on Facebook:
"We cannot get Annabelle to behave long enough to get her eye drops into her eyes. We've tried several times, in several different ways, and I have suffered a pretty good gash. So the heck with that. The vet didn't think we had a good chance of them working anyway. She has blocked tear drainage ducts and her eyes just spill over with tears. She cleans them off her face a couple of times a day, so we'll just live with it. We don't want her hating us forever."
The eyedrop fiasco drove Annabelle back into Sister A's closet for a while, but that passed. Three days later, A's friend, the one who contacted us about our little refugee in the first place, asked if Annabelle was still hiding in the closet. A. replied:
"She comes into the sewing room when I'm in there, and into the living room at night when everything calms down. We have moved her food and water a little farther from my room so she'll have a reason to explore the hallway a little more."
She has improved quite a bit since then. Yesterday, she ventured over to the big girls' feeding station in the dining room and, after sniffing liberally, delicately ate one kibble--she plucked it out of the bowl and backed away before eating it, as if she were sneaking a piece when no-cat was looking. They weren’t, but we sure were--we very much hope to add her food bowl to the rest of the collection soon, so we're slowly moving her food bowl down the hall and around the corner. Next stop: living room, then dining room. It's a work in progress.

Annabelle had several bouts of vomiting about a week ago, most likely from eating too much and/or too fast, but that seems to be over now. She has completely switched over to the other cats' food (Purina ProPlan Chicken & Rice) from the food she came with, and I think she just really liked it and snarfed it up too fast at first.

She also uses the same litter as the other cats now (TidyCats clumping), but, boy, she sure doesn't use the litterbox the same way they do--she really gets after it, flinging litter everywhere! You’d think she was trying to burrow down to the center of the earth. I imagine that's why her previous person got her a hooded litterbox! Man, that girl's got some leg on her--she could outkick Mia Hamm! We now have a whisk broom and dustpan parked by one of the litterboxes to return the excess "flingage" and save the expense of vacuuming up otherwise clean litter every time Annabelle uses the box.

Oddly enough, the "big girls", Minnie and Sammi, seem to be getting along better since Annabelle arrived, although Minnie still avoids Sammi when possible, or at least gives her a wide berth if she has to pass "the enemy" in an enclosed area. Minnie's strategy toward Annabelle is also avoidance, and now that the weather's nice, she has the perfect excuse for spending hours outdoors. Sammi's strategy is mostly to just stare at Annabelle, although there have been several bouts of hissing & scrambling between them (no injuries, thank goodness). Annabelle seems to be good at standing her ground, despite how nervous she is toward other stimuli (dogs, men, cars, shrieking kids).

Minnie is beginning to tolerate Sammi's proximity, at least in the great outdoors. The other day, they were both hunkered down in the liriope bed (grasses about 6-8" tall right now), spying on the neighborhood, apparently oblivious of each other. Later, walking toward the driveway, they sniffed noses. Then, as Minnie walked away, Sammi investigated Minnie's "background", so to speak, and swiped a paw at her rear end. I was sure a hissy fight-or-flight would ensue, but Minnie just trotted a short distance away and plopped down on the driveway--and so did Sammi.

Peaceable kingdom, indeed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Let's play!

Had to pass along this Facebook post from Sister A.:

"Annabelle came out of hiding last night and batted the ball around all over my bedroom floor, underneath the bed and everywhere she could think of. She never left my room, but played like crazy before bunking down with me happily."

And I actually clapped eyes on her this morning as she scurried from the sewing room (where her litterbox is) back to A's bedroom. She poked her little head out the door once she was "safe."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Clean bill of health

The vet gave Annabelle a clean bill of health yesterday--no infections, no fever, no diseases, got all her shots, and everything's cookin' the way it should. He said she's a little chubby, particularly in the hindquarters (ain't we all?), but that's it. The brown stuff in her eye discharge was probably just dirt, and the runny eye itself is most likely a blocked tear duct, which is no threat to her health. She did wash her face yesterday morning before the vet visit and her eyes looked a lot better afterward, but we thought she should be checked anyway. We're glad to know she's OK.

Of course, she totally hates us now, or at least doesn't quite trust us not to whisk her off to the vet again, but she'll get over it...eventually. In the meantime, she's hiding in the closet.

Before the vet trip, she gave Sister A. an opportunity to catch her playing with A's shoelaces. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Annabelle & Co.

It turns out that the ooze from Annabelle's left eye is actually brown--ick! So she'll be going to the vet tomorrow morning. While she's there, if it doesn't interfere with treatment for goopy-eye, she'll be getting her shots (which, as it turns out, she hasn't had for a couple of years) & tests for FIV, etc. So she oughta hate us completely after all that. Fortunately, kitty memories are short--she'll get over it.

Annabelle sure has settled in with Sister A.! She's been here all of three nights and has spent the last two on A's bed. Sammi, A's usual bedmate, is highly incensed, although she did get to be with A. for a little while yesterday evening...until she spied Annabelle's little tail coming around the bed. Then Sammi bolted and Annabelle took over.

Minnie woke me up way too early this morning growling at something. It's been awhile since she sent any prolonged growls Sammi's way, so I suspect Annabelle wandered in at that point. No fights ensued, however, so that's good.

During the days, Annabelle has been living in Sister A's closet. At least it's roomier than the space under the cedar chest. A. said she did come out to knock a toy mouse around this morning. Apparently, she's a champion mouse-whapper!

Minnie, not to be outdone in the hunting department, killed a bird and left its corpus delicti on the patio. It probably isn't connected with the "intruder," though--she's just a Mighty Huntress and the bird happened to bop into her target zone.

Our catsitter came by this afternoon to meet the new kid and renew her acquaintance with the older kitties. She's really good, and I'm sure everything will be fine, but I'll probably worry anyway, especially with Annabelle's eye like it is.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New kitty Annabelle is home

We were finally able to pick up Annabelle yesterday. She was hiding in the bathroom, meowing in distress, when we got to her person's house (empty, since Gram is now in a nursing home). Sister A. eased in there with her, and it didn't take long for Annabelle to emerge and start rubbing all over A.! That certainly made it easier to scoop her up and bring her to the carrier, where we popped her in without too much trouble. She howled all the way home, of course (Minnie and Sammi do the same whenever they have to ride in the car).

Minnie met us at the garage door--I'm sure both our resident kitties heard the caterwauling!--and immediately hissed at the new arrival and ran off. Sammi got her first look at the "prisoner" as we carried her into the hallway--she just stared at Annabelle like she was a three-headed alien. She made her manners today, though...and they were bad, of course, with hissing and growling.

We got her set up in the sewing room with her own food bowl, kibble, litterbox, and litter. The litterbox had seen better days--it cracked along the edge while I was washing it out--so we got her another one today (sans hood), along with two new ceramic bowls and a Kickeroo. She had no toys or bed of her own, so she's starting pretty much fresh at her new home.

After getting Annabelle situated, we both sat down on the floor of the sewing room (door shut against nosy-parkers) and she wound back & forth between us, bonking our hands and just soaking up the lovin's. After a little bit, she started purring, and even lay down & made a few air-biscuits. We left her to rest, then, and when we came back later, we found her curled up behind the floor-to-ceiling curtains, sound asleep, nothing but a little white fuzz showing under the curtain hem. We let her sleep and checked on her later.

She did pretty well last night in the sewing room--pooped, ate, drank water, and climbed around on the furniture a bit. Sister A. heard her crying about 6:30 a.m. and went in with her for a while.

This morning, after the "big kitties" went outside, we opened the door of the sewing room and waited to see if Annabelle cared to emerge and explore the rest of the house. She didn't seem too hip on the idea at first. Sammi came to the sewing room door at one point, and that's when she got all rude, then left in a feline huff.

It took quite a while before Annabelle got up the courage to explore, but at last she did, carefully poking around in Sister A's bedroom and the hall bathroom (rooms on either side of the sewing room). That was about all the stimulation she could take, so I closed the door again so she could rest. Sister A's in there now, doing her computer-ing and, no doubt, socializing our little refugee.

I got a few pix while Annabelle was wandering around. I also managed to get a good close-up of her eyes, which seem to be a bit runny. I managed to swipe a bit of the runniness with my thumb and gave it a sniff; it didn't smell like pus (or, indeed, anything), so maybe it's OK. But you experienced kitty folks out there might enlarge that last photo and see what you think.

I'm a little concerned about the stuff around her eyes....
Annable is really going to be a sweetie once she settles down. She's about six years old and on the small side, with a curiously short tail, but maybe that's a proportion thing. She also has shortish whiskers. Calico, obviously, with yummy dense fur that feels like a plush teddy bear.

UPDATE: Annabelle has found the perfect hiding space--one that no other kitty in the house can possibly fit into. Here she is squeezed under the cedar chest:

 The gap in back is larger than this, thank goodness!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Expecting Kitty No.3

Remember this little girl? I talked about her before. Her person, Gram, was doing better for a while, but, unfortunately, she's not able to live in her own home anymore and has returned to the nursing home. So her kitty, Annabelle, whom Sister A. & I agreed to adopt, will definitely be coming our way soon. We thought it would be this weekend, but stuff happened (as it will), so Annabelle's "gotcha day" has been put off until next weekend. Poor little thing, the few days Gram was at home, Annabelle slept on the foot of Gram's bed every night. I know she must have missed her mommy. She'll need lots of good lovin's after she moves here.

The timing of this furry acquisition could have been better--we have some plans a couple of weeks hence that we can't cancel--but it'll all work out in time.

We don't know much more about her yet, except that she uses a hooded litterbox. Minnie never took to that contraption, but Sammi will doubtless sample it (after we let her meet the newbie, that is).

Taking bets now as to whether all three kitties will get along, fight, go two against one, or just hide under the beds....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Much better today

There was no midnight stinky-poop-fest last night, and Minnie seems to feel just fine today.  Yay!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Worms and other unpleasant, poop-related things

Minnie ate an errant flea recently and got a tapeworm for her troubles; I saw it waving from her Spot #13 last Wednesday. (Curious about what fleas have to do with tapeworms? Here's some info.) We got her a little bottle of three tapeworm tablets (praziquantel) from PetSmart, along with a bag of Pill Pockets, and she snarfed up 2.5 of the tabs like a good girl (the last two loaded Pill Pockets got licked a lot, but not eaten). The tapeworms should be dead.

I expected her to have some soft poops as a result of the Pill Pockets, which are basically Greenies, which, unfortunately, don't agree with her. But it's two days since she had the last pill and the last Pill Pocket, and she's still having this sort-of diarrhea. The last episode went past the very smelly soft stage to a very smelly liquid with a few bubbles in it.

The smell--my gawd.... It wakes me up in the middle of the night and I have to get up, cover the mess (Minnie's not very diligent about that), wait for it to harden a bit, and scoop.

I think it may be V-E-T time. And, of course, it's Sunday and snowing like mad off & on.

My furry girl is 7 years old (officially) this year. Her cousin, Sammi (Sister A's kitty), is officially 8 years old. I totally missed blogging their joint Gotcha Day last month, so sue me.

Anyway, keeping an eye on Minnie....

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year's resolution (a bit late)

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: Gimme a break, nobody keeps those things, ya make a resolution on January the first and it's broken by the fifth. Well, this isn't a big one, and I think I can keep it.

My New Year's resolution is to not eat any more food that messes with my head (i.e., has way too much salt, thus threatening a fit of Meniere's) or makes me feel like a hippo in a tutu.

This is the hippo in question (thank you, Walt Disney):

Notice that I did not actually resolve to lose weight--those resolutions are frail as dandelion fluff. I'm just going to quit eating overly salted, fatty, swimming-in-gravy things that I know will leave me feeling guilty, too full, and woozy in the head. Like the chicken friend steak dinner I ordered last night at IHOP. Good grief, what was I thinking?? All I can say in my defense is that I was ravenous and we hadn't gone to IHOP for maybe two years, so when Sister A. offered me a choice between three places for which we had coupons (we love our coupons), I went a little nuts.

In IHOP's defense, they do have lighter meals on the menu. And if we ever go there again, that's the section I'll order from. Ditto any other place we go.

It's nearly impossible to avoid salt at restaurants, but there are usually some dishes that are less salty than the rest. That requires checking menus and nutritional content ahead of time, of course, a task made infinitely easier by the Internet and sites like CalorieCount. (Seriously, check 'em out--look up your favorite fast food meal there and see how much it's packing in the way of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It'll make you cry.) I was doing pretty well about checking that sort of thing (we'll ignore the almost weekly trips to Wendy's that I used to make...not for salads), but I've gotten lazy.

Now it's time to get back on track.

Cheese doodles do not make my tummy happy. Neither does food so salty I can count each crystal, or anything swimming in grease, or desserts that are way too rich. If that kind of thing doesn't make me feel good, I don't need it.

Sounds simple enough to me.