Friday, October 31, 2008

Temperature differential and how kitties stay warm

Fall is well and truly here, although we haven’t yet had a good frost—that’s supposed to happen tomorrow night and my nose and I really hope that it does. With fall comes dropping temperatures, and although it’s not been super cold it’s been cold enough. Our stairs that lead to the front of the building are nothing but a big chimney, sending our precious warm air to collect at the top of the stairs and do us absolutely no good. So we got some curtains and hung them where the stairwell is open to the downstairs. Yesterday our high was about 40 F, so I was curious if the curtains were working as intended. We have these travel alarm clocks that also have thermometers in them, and Kent ran one up to the top of the stairs. Downstairs it was a very pleasant 70 F and at the top of the stairs it was 61! So we are glad we took the time to hang those curtains. We’ve hung similar curtains across the back door wall but I didn’t bother to take a picture of that.

Eddie deals with the colder temperatures by seeking out my lap. I took this picture which is why it looks so weird since I had to hold my arm out. He’s got his head buried in the blanket draped over the arm of the chair.

Chloe found a different solution. These pictures are all from today, she hardly moved. She’s created a real burrow there on the back of the couch and I just know the cat hair has got to be thick there now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Before, during and after

On the left I’ve added a before, during, and after slide show with pictures of our bedroom so you can see the progress we’ve made. I’d say that room is essentially done with the possible exception of replacing the Pergo flooring. But that’s a whole house project and not limited to the bedroom.

We’re making a project list and getting information about costs so we can start knocking off home improvement projects in a timely way. First on the list is under cabinet lighting in the kitchen. We got an estimate about six weeks ago for $1200. Yikes. So we’ll be getting second and third estimates on that project to see if that’s normal, welcome to Boston or if that particular company is the Lexus of electrical work.

The list also includes replacing the Pergo flooring if we can, and replacing the tile in the bathroom; while we think it’s really cool it’s also really dark. The same thing goes for the granite in our kitchen—black is best used in a space with lots of natural light, like our house in Kansas City.

As Kent said, a small space doesn’t equal small, easy or inexpensive home projects. You just have a lot less room in which to work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I thought I left these days far, far behind

When Jordan was little, he got ear infections—lots and lots of them—and strep throat and stuff like that. When Ben got sick, he puked. Thankfully he didn’t get sick often, but when he did, he puked.

I thought once my sons grew up and left home that I was done with cleaning up vomit other than my own. Enter Eddie. Some cats have sensitive stomachs so they puke, and some cats are gorgers and eat until they puke. Eddie does both. We’ve been able to reduce the puke rate by switching the cats' food to a kind designed for cats with sensitive stomachs, but he does still puke.

I’ve mentioned before that Eddie likes to get on the bed in the middle of the night and meow at me so I’ll open the covers and he can crawl inside.

You can see where this is going, right? Sure enough, last night shortly after he'd gotten under the covers with us, he started to make that weird coughing noises that all species must make before gakking. Believe me, I was instantly awake at that point and unceremoniously dumped him over the side of the bed on Kent’s side. Sure enough, he puked his guts out. Kent began cleaning it up and while he was occupied with that pile, Eddie found another spot and started hurling more. So I cleaned up that one.

Eddie still doesn’t feel energetic today as you can see from this picture. He’s got his head so burrowed into my huge fluffy robe that I had to sort of moosh everything back to even get any of his face to show.

P.S. Forgot to mention that we left the paper towel on the countertop. Guess who found it? Yep, Wally's strange paper obsession continues.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Of pizza and kitties

You might remember we have a large pass-through between our kitchen and the living room. That’s also where the cook top is, which makes it very nice when one of us is cooking; the other can sit at one of the barstools and help with prep work or just chat.

Of course the cats love to get up on that counter. By cats I mean Eddie and Wally, because I don’t think Chloe has a naughty bone in her body. We will get up and chase the cats off the counter and usually (but not always) they act as though they didn’t really mean to get up there.

Last night Kent was slicing up our pizza toppings, which included some salami and anchovies. Well oh my goodness that brought the boys running and they were far bolder than normal. At first they sat on the bar stools and watched but then Wally figured he would just come get some of those yummy tasty treats.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The right tool makes all the difference

Kent is fond of saying that, usually with his cordless drill in hand. He’ll punctuate it by revving the drill a couple of times. But he’s right, when you have the right tool then the task becomes a lot easier.

That segue leads nicely into talking about my running jacket, which looks something like this. Mine is actually from Nike but the idea is the same. This jacket isn’t my cold weather running jacket but a layering piece that blocks wind and is water resistant. I got it last fall at the outlet mall in Kansas City, KS and about croaked because it cost $80. Eighty dollars for what looked like a glorified wind breaker! Well let me tell you my jacket is amazing. It really does keep rain and wind out and also keeps my sweat from getting cold on windy runs.

Yesterday morning when I ran, it was about 45 F, a bit windy and also lightly raining. So I especially appreciated the jacket. Now I’d have to say my $80 was well spent.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


When my children were little—heck when I was little—using the full name meant someone was in serious trouble. If my mother used my full name, I generally went running for a place to hide. Today Wally had better consider that option.

It’s partly Kent’s fault, though. Just this weekend he remarked that the boy kitties seemed to be settling in and weren’t being such noisy terrors at night. Naturally ever since then they’ve been determined to prove him wrong. I say they but really it’s Wally.

Last night he:
•Knocked over the wire trash can.
•Knocked over the paper shredder bin.
•Jumped up onto the top shelf of a five-foot book case to grab the bag that holds my knitting.
•“Investigated” a paper bag we left out—loudly too.

You get the idea. Today my mission is to wake his furry butt up every time I see him sleeping. He’s already been giving me the stink eye but too bad. Tonight I sleep or else he’ll be in a pet carrier.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eddie better watch out

I love Ikea, the furniture is very clever and more than that, you can take the various pieces and come up with creative ways to use them for other than what Ikea intended. In fact there’s a whole blog devoted to these “hack” and Kent and I marvel at how clever people are with their ideas. This blog is devoted to pet hacks, so take a look.

If you scroll down in that blog, you’ll see how someone else solved the fat cat problem. I giggled at the caption on one of their pictures that says slim cat gets to eat. That idea appealed to us because we too have a very fat cat. Behold Eddie in all his glory:

So if Eddie's not careful, we may end up creating our own version of the Fat Cat Feeding System just for him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Knitting stinks

When I was a little girl, my grandmother tried to teach me to knit. I must have been younger than 5th grade because I learned to sew that year and I don’t recall that I knew how to sew when she tried to teach me to knit. I say tried because she cast on for me and showed me how to knit two, perl two (I think) and turned me loose. Well I am really quite good at somehow adding stitches as I go and my poor little scarf grew from the normal 28-stitch width to over double that size in about 10 rows. The thing looked absolutely retarded.

I’ve been intimidated by knitting ever since. I’ve sewn lots of clothes, made curtains, bedspreads, dolls, doll clothes, lined coats, done counted cross-stitch but have avoided knitting all these years.

My friend Sabrina made me a really cool scarf last year to go with my new down coat, and I was so impressed, I thought OK I will give this a try. I managed to procrastinate starting until a few weeks ago when I realized that yet again I’d let a ball of yarn scare me. So I bought Knitting for Dummies, a skein of yarn in what they call dark blue, and a pair of size 8 knitting needles, and I fearlessly dived right in.

What a pain in the booty. Seriously! How do people make all those cool socks and hats and sweaters and stuff? I am still fantastic at adding stitches and what you see here has had more than a few rows pulled out and done over. Only for Alison would I ever consider doing something so dang tedious.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Catching up

I’ve been remiss in keeping up with the Kitty Tales, so here are a few vignettes from the last week.

First up is a picture of the boys the day Uncle Doug and Kim left. They were exceptionally excited that we had visitors and bounced all over the apartment, Uncle Doug, Kim, us, furniture—well you get the idea. And since the weather was nice, we left windows open and they saw nocturnal creatures to hiss and get righteously upset with that night. They were completely wiped out and stayed this way all day long.

I don’t have a picture of this next story, mostly because I was too taken aback it was occurring to even think about getting my camera. We’d bought a wicker/woven basket with a lid on it that’s large enough to store kitty toys, extra litter, the plastic bags we use to scoop into, that sort of thing. But I don’t like the cardboard boxes that the litter comes in since they aren’t very sturdy and are apt to dribble litter everywhere, which is annoying. So I bought a plastic bin with a lid that snaps on, thinking I’d use that for storing the clean litter. I’d filled up the bin with the remnants of a box of litter and left the room for maybe two minutes. I returned to find Eddie squatting in the bin, peeing his brains out. As Kalea remarked, that one was entirely my fault.

Next here's Wally and his "sun" lamp. I say that because any time it gets even slightly chilly in the apartment, or at least cooler than a kitty likes, he will seek out any lamp that's on and huddle under it. He prefers the lamps on either side of the couch but I think the reason is two-fold: the lamps are closer to him and also the couch is pretty comfy.

Finally here’s a picture of Wally from this morning. I’d just gotten the sheet out of the dryer so it’s all soft and warm and that expression on his face is exactly the way he looked. I bet it was like kitty heaven to him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First visitors!

We had our first visitors last week! My Uncle Doug and his daughter Kim stayed with us Thursday night on their way to Maine. She’s been living in New York City for the last eight years and is returning to San Antonio TX to stay with him for a while.

It turns out I come by my crazy cat lady ways honestly. I had forgotten that Uncle Doug feeds a bunch of feral and semi-feral cats twice a day and has gotten them fixed and also named them. He says he’s not a cat person, that he’s just continuing what Aunt Sonya did before she died but I’m not buying that excuse. There’s too much affection and concern in his voice when he talks about the kitties—they have names like Wampus, little Gray Kitty, and the one that still tickles me, the Hill Kitties. He says the Hill Kitties stay perched out on the small hill in his back yard and never approach the food while he’s outside. So yeah, I think Uncle Doug is a crazy cat lady too.

The new slide show on the left occurred as we were getting the sleeping arrangements set up for Uncle Doug and Kim. Kim used a sleeping bag, which is what's draped over the chair. Eddie thought it was a great hiding spot, and so did Wally. You can watch the progression as Wally muscles Eddie right off the chair to claim his prize.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A couple of interesting (to me anyway) links

The company Kent works for is ultimately owned by Time Warner, which means we can get a lot of magazines pretty cheaply. I say that to explain how it is we think Runner’s World appeared in our mailbox. I certainly wouldn’t have subscribed to it, since I just run, I’m not a Runner™. Kent doesn’t recall ordering it, but then again he didn’t remember ordering Food & Wine either until it appeared in our mailbox, too.

But I’m an avid reader and pretty much anything goes. Well the first article I read was the third column called Newbie. Apparently it’s by a man in his 40s who decided he would learn to run. This column was pretty funny so I’m including a link to the first article here and the second one here.

I also read an article on cost cutting if you are in debt. I do a lot of these but not all and figured you might find it interesting too.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Happy birthday, Kerry

Kerry is my best friend and it's super easy to remember her birthday, since it's the day after my anniversary. She told me at our reception that it was like a giant birthday party for her. I always liked that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy anniversary, Kent

Five years ago today, Kent and I got married at Pilgrim Chapel in Kansas City, MO. He likes to say that he’s the winner, but the truth is that I am. Let me share a few things with you and then I think you’ll agree I am really the fortunate one.

While the last five years have been pretty challenging, those challenges have been external and not from the relationship. We’ve moved three times, I’ve had major surgery three times along with some health issues that lingered for a year, and I’ve gotten a master’s degree—and he’s been right there with me through all of it.

I’ve told him this before, and I’m sure I will tell him again and again. I had no idea marriage could be fun, and I’ve never been loved so thoroughly and so unconditionally.

Sometimes I forget I was married to someone else for 16 years, I’ll turn to him to say “hey do you remember when we did . . . oh wait, I wasn’t married to you then.” It’s a cool thing to feel like he’s always been part of my life.

So happy anniversary to us! I am so thankful I got over my fear and I’m so glad he didn’t snub me when I finally did.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Look closely

I left the right door to my wardrobe open this morning. I just went to get a pair of socks (it's a little chilly in the house) and found Chloe on the bed per usual and Eddie had just been on my lap so I knew where he was. I didn't see Wally but noticed one of my shoes had been knocked out of the wardrobe. Ah ha!

Here's a close up in case you missed it. That will teach me to close the doors in the morning.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Another hidey-hole

My desk is really cool because when I close all the doors, it resembles a small sideboard, not a piece of office furniture. I mention my desk because yesterday I heard weird noises coming from there.

On the sliding shelf above the file drawer, you can see my printer, and a couple of notebooks. I hid a power strip/surge protector behind that and use it to plug in everything, including my laptop. This laptop is a desktop replacement so it's pretty big and weighs almost 10 pounds. As you might expect, the power supply is big--think brick and you'll have the right idea. That brick puts out nice heat, too. In Kansas City, I used to slip off my shoes and put my feet on the power supply brick during the winter because it kept my feet warm.

Wally likes small enclosed places and now that it's cold, I guess he's liking the heat too. Yes, it was Wally making the noises in my desk. I know he's not a huge cat, but I am still baffled how he got in there without knocking out any of the notebooks.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Happy birthday to Chloe!

OK it’s not really her birthday, but it is the seventh anniversary of the day I brought her home, and at the time my vet estimated she was about a year old. So I think she is eight years old.

Miss Chloe was abandoned by her first owner (moron!) and the rescue organization placed her with a foster family to see if she had any issues. Apparently she was deathly timid about everyone and everything, and hated other cats with the white-hot passion of 10,000 suns. She so hated other cats that the foster mother made sure I had no other pets in the home.

I met her at an adoption clinic at Petsmart or Petco, one of those two places, and the tag on her cage said “very shy, won’t approach you, ask for help.” Being the kitty lover that I am, I put a finger in her cage and she came right to me and rubbed on my hand. When taken out of the cage, she completely snuggled up to me and purred like a maniac. So much for deathly timid with me! I’ve come to realize that she doesn’t actually like to be picked up—although she will camp on my lap for hours at a time, and in fact is doing so as I type this entry—so her behavior that day was completely out of character for her. I like to flatter myself that she did it because she was picking me to be her human.

She's come a long way in her attitude toward other cats. She tolerated Sammie, our kitty who died of FIP in 2007, mostly by ignoring him. Eddie and Wally are not to be ignored, as you might imagine, and although I haven't yet seen a true kitty pile with her involved, she does play and scamper with them. She also never hesitates to kick their kitty butts when they pester her too much.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I've tried uploading this video four times, and Blogger keeps hanging up. It's too bad, because it's of Wally with the toy mouse we got at Ikea. Wally just goes nutty over the mouse, and at the end, Eddie just reaches down and bites Wally hard. In fact he pulled some fur out. I think he was jealous. I'll try uploading later today.

Woohoo, success!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fun with Ikea

Today we bought the pieces and parts to assemble our two wardrobes. In addition to really needing a little more storage, I was most anxious to get my clothes out of the other closet and into our bedroom. We planned to pick up the U Haul cargo van about 9 AM and get to Ikea when they opened at 10. Ha.

U Haul took 45 minutes alone. The reservation system isn't the best and the people manning the desk were all fairly new. That meant we didn't get to Ikea until 10:30. Fortunately no one else got moving early so we were able to knock off the items on our list and head to the check out. Ouch.

Would you care to guess how much we "stimulated" the economy today? We dropped almost $1300. That got us a lidded basket for storing cat toys and litter supplies, a small trash can for outside to hold the used litter offerings, a cat toy (more about that later), an office storage cart for Kent, and of course all the pieces for our new wardrobes.

Getting home was fine, even though that cargo van turned like a semi--well really, that's probably insulting to semis everywhere. But we got home, unloaded everything and headed off to turn in the van. This time the reservation system was entirely down, and so the process took another 45 minutes. Ultimately we didn't start putting everything together until 2 PM.

Of course the cats were all very interested in the packages. I'm not sure if I've mentioned before how very much Eddie likes to eat cardboard. While dark, I think you can still see what he's doing here in this video. He does this with every cardboard box he runs across. I wonder if a veterinary school would be interested in researching how strange my cats are.

Evil, evil crackers

Since moving to Boston, I've discovered Doctor Kracker organic & artisan backed crackers. I get the Klassic 3 seed snackers and holy cow they are good. Kent likes them too. In fact we both like them a little too much. I bought a box yesterday and as I sit here this morning, there are maybe four little squares left. No more crackers for us for a while.

Well at least until I go to the store again.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm lucky

I've heard unpleasant stories from friends of mine about their mothers-in-law, and each time I do, I'm grateful again for my mother-in-law. Since the first time she met me, she's been nothing but kind, accepting and loving to me. I feel as much a part of her family as I do my own.

Let me tell you a quick story that illustrates how Ardis is. I took a long time to finish college. I'd started back in 1989 and then dropped out the fall of my senior year. My first marriage was collapsing, my older son had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and frankly school was my last priority. I started back in 1999, taking a class or two each semester and finally finished in May 2003.

Ardis and Kent's aunt JB drove the four hours from Tulsa to be at my graduation, and then turned around and drove home. That's a lot of driving in one day just to get broiled in the sun at Memorial Stadium on the KU campus. And it was HOT, we all got sunburns and sweated buckets.

I was just blown away she would do that for someone who wasn't yet married to her son. That's just one reason I consider her my role model in how to be the kind of mother-in-law you want to have around, not the kind you make jokes about.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I was looking for a different picture (of a person, not the kitties) and ran across this. Hilarious, I guess he grew into his ears.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why did the chicken cross the cat?

This entry will feature Eddie, mostly because he tolerates the chicken hat the best AND because I got some decent pictures of him for once.

First, in this picture I think he's getting ready for the lady cats.

I haven't tossed this box yet because he enjoys "hiding" in it so much.

Finally, here's Eddie in an encore presentation of the Chicken Hat.

(I think he secretly likes the hat . . . )