Thursday, July 8, 2021

Whiskers, Paws, and Double Trouble

 A few weeks ago, I wrote about my new kitten Jet. He's turned out to be a near-purrfect companion: quiet, confident, brave, cuddly, playful, likes traveling, doesn't mind a harness and leash. The only problem is his tendency to chew on his toy of choice: me.

The issue became so extreme that unless this kitten was asleep, I couldn't reach out to touch him without his eyes going all pupil and his little body springing to attack my hand. When I'd pick him up to carry him, he would even bite my face. Stern and consistent discipline didn't deter this hunter's-instinct-gone-haywire. 

This is no way to live with a cat for the long haul. I was heartbroken. My options were to ignore him for the next 15 to 20 years, take him to a shelter, or get him a friend. The latter option was not really on the table because my husband and I had spent the last several years juggling multiple pets, and we didn't want to repeat the hassle. Plus, it would be easier to travel with one cat instead of two.

But the first two options were too dreadful to contemplate.

Then last Friday, I was running errands, one of which was going into the pet store for a new carrier. Our old one is literally being held together with duct tape. As soon as I walked in the door, I said to myself, "Just peek at the kitty cages, and see if there are any kittens near Jet's age and size."

Mind you, my husband had no idea what I was up to. I had made no conscious plan to get a second cat. But perhaps my subconscious had planned it all along? Maybe the search for a new carrier was all a ruse?

All counted, the store had SEVEN kittens that were Jet's age and size. I had never adopted a kitten from such a place, never had to (all our cats just showed up on the doorstep), had heard bad things about doing so. But I was desperate, and all these babies needed a loving home. So I asked the cat lady, "Are there any boys?" 

She started handing me kittens.

After looking them over, I brought home this guy:

I walked into the house and set the carrier box down at my husband's feet. I said, "Meet Echo." What could he say at that point? Luckily my niece had come home with me, so he kept his mouth shut until his brain had adjusted to the idea of a second pet.

My intention was to keep the two critters apart for a few days until Echo had had the chance to adjust to his new surroundings. But by accident and oversight of a door left open, they met almost immediately. Ever since, Echo and Jet have been inseparable. Bosom buddies. 

The chewing on Mom stopped. The house is a happy place again. And my husband is kinda in love with them both. All's well that ends well.

Now to see if Echo likes the car...

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Jet and the Bumblebee

 My kitten Jet discovered bumblebees today. I was walking him in the garden this morning, for some leash training, and the bumblebees were buzzing happily among the Lamb's Ears, which are currently in full bloom. What kitten isn't fascinated with toys that move on their own and bob within easy reach?

"You'd look pretty funny if you got stung, buddy," I tell him.

I tug him in a different direction, then pause to investigate a plant growing where I may not want it. While I'm debating on whether to pull it as a weed or leave it and see what it becomes, Jet gives a yipe and darts to the full extension of his leash. He's a little guy, but he bolted with such force that he pulled me after him.

Sure enough, a bumblebee is rising off the ground and continuing on its merry way. Jet is shaking his paw and licking it madly. It starts to swell almost immediately.

It's not often you can see degrees of emotion in the contemptuous face of a cat, but Jet was clearly angry. He curled up on my lap and glared at nothing. His tail twitched a bit, and when I tried to offer a comforting caress, he snapped a warning bite at me. Fair enough. "Not now, Mom!"

So now we're in recovery. And I can't help but wonder if he'll leave bumblebees alone in future, or if he's plotting revenge.

forensic evidence of assault by bumblebee

Monday, June 28, 2021

"Down Phoenix Alley" Published

Exciting New Developments, Part 3

I love announcing publication successes. My short story "Down Phoenix Alley" is available online now through All Worlds Wayfarer

The story was a response to a contest prompt at my critique community at After 3 years of being offline, LegendFire returned. And much of the old faithful crew returned with it. Enduring several months in pandemic lockdown caused even this introvert to feel the need for community, so the forum rebooted on September 30, 2020. In December, after we hit 50 members, we hosted our first contest. The prompt was "Rising From Ruin," which seemed fitting for many obvious reasons.

So "Down Phoenix Alley" is about a crusty soldier in a post-apocalyptic setting who finds a new cause for hope. Read the whole story HERE for free. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Whiskers, Paws, and Attitude

 Next up in the "Exciting New Developments" series is this guy: 

We named him Jet, because he thinks he's very, very fast. Though "Maverick" might've been even more appropriate, given the flybys and chaos he leaves in his wake.

Still, he's a welcome relief.

Last September, in the middle of pandemic unknowns, battles with depression and panic attacks, and all that ugly mess, we lost all three of our fur babies. All three. In the space of one month. It was one bitter blow after another.

Some predator must've moved through our neighborhood, because several pets vanished at once. First our six year old cat Leo disappeared, then two weeks later, we had to put down our Great Pyrenees. Her hips had given out at last and she could no longer get up by herself. 

On the same morning we delivered our dog to vet for the last time was the last time we saw our 15-year-old cat Gabriel.

We simply didn't know what to do with ourselves. Reading in my cozy chair under my cozy blanket just didn't feel the same without a kitty on my lap. Evening walks with the dog stopped. We had supplies of food and toys, medicines and litter with no critters to use them.

In one horrible rage, I filled a trash bag with every pet thing I could find and tossed it all in the trash and bawled my eyes out.

Slowly we adjusted to being pet-free. No more surprise messes to clean up, like gopher guts on my welcome rug or regurgitated food devoured too fast or wads of white dog wool rolling across the floor. We no longer had to seek out pet-sitters when we went on road trips. Our lint roller fell into disuse, and I got to wear pretty clothes for no reason than I could wear them without fear of cat hair or dog drool spoiling them.

It was nice.

And lonely.

You know it's past time to remedy the situation when all you and your partner text to one another are gifs of adorable kittens. But we waited. We've never had to seek out pets. They've always come to us. So I kept an eye out for kittens who'd gotten lost or dumped. No luck. Seemed, with the pandemic, everyone was keeping their critters close. 

Then on Mother's Day, my husband and I went to have dinner with his family. After dining, his brother said, "Hey, would y'all be interested in a kitten?"

My husband and I looked at each other. He started giving all these excuses about why we didn't want a kitten. We have trips planned, for one (that's in an upcoming post).

Then he said the fatal words, "If there's one that looks like Leo."

His brother showed me a picture. The kitten might've come from the same litter as our lost Leonidas.

I said, "Is it a boy?" (I cannot abide female cats. They're so ... catty.)

The answer the people sent back was "b" for boy. 

"He's mine!" I shouted, as if we were at the world's first-ever kitten auction. We left immediately for the store to replace the supplies I'd thrown away in my grief, then picked up the kitten.

The babies, it seemed, had been moved into the back of an old car, which was about to undergo a restoration project. The mother had either gone hunting or abandoned them and was nowhere to be found.

Now my lap is full. All the time. Even when I'm trying to eat. And type. And I've learned to think of myself as a jungle-gym. And a bathtub. And a chew toy. My happiness is complete.

Jet plays hide-and-seek, afraid I'll steal his favorite toy.

Chilling in the driver's seat, because we all know cats are in charge.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

A Year Later: Exciting New Developments

 A year is a long time to let a blog sit idle and languish in a state of neglect. The smallest, simplest tasks, those like blogging, lose all draw and seem like impossible millstones to carry around when depression enters the picture.

Last year, as we all know, was terrible. Pile lingering issues on top of pandemic woes and you get a recipe for major breakdowns. It happened to me. Took me out completely. To the point that I finally realized I couldn't "fix" it on my own. I got help. And that brings me to the first exciting development. 

Dopamine blockers are amazing! Everyone needs this stuff. My counselor advised meds thirty minutes into our first session together. So my doc put me on Lexapro. This time last year I never would've admitted that in a public space. But I have zero shame about it. In fact, I'm proud of myself for taking the step. It was more necessary than I realized. 

Both the counselor and doctor said I wouldn't really notice the pill taking effect for a couple of weeks.

Seriously? Greeeeeeat, I thought. Two weeks of hell while this builds in my system, and I can't even drink liquor to dampen the horribleness.

BUT! Thank God, that's not what happened. I took my first dose right before bed -- and woke up in the night feeling like I was floating. The effects were immediate! My poor brain, scored raw by torturous thought processes, felt as if it was swaddled in a cozy silk cocoon. Goodbye depression, goodbye anxiety.

So, it's three months later, and I feel recovered a enough to give a damn about blogging. Hurray!

To spread out the positive and keep things brief, I'll shout out about the other exciting new developments in later posts.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Breaking Free...

For National Poetry Month, a poem that reminds me of the power of the mind, of the inner self, of the ability to travel mentally, when I am trapped inside my house in this season of isolation:

"The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain"
by Wallace Stevens

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactnesses
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.

Friday, April 17, 2020

In Solitude...

I suppose quarantine is a good excuse to take care of the undone things:  fixing the drippy faucet, planting that herb garden, remembering that one has a talent with a paintbrush or a typewriter, knocking out a few volumes on the to-read list ... maybe actually getting some rest.

Reflect, recenter, re-purpose.