Friday, November 6, 2015

Sassy's nose is out of joint...

With three dysfunctional cats, one of the first things we do every morning is check litter boxes.  I need to know who did what where.  For the last two mornings we haven't found any poop in Sassy's puppy pad boxes.  We also didn't find any anywhere else.  We wondered if perhaps she decided to use a regular litter box (and wouldn't that be nice?).  Today Carl discovered she'd been using the cat house.  So, he cleaned it up and we put on the odor remover we got from Stanley Steemer.  We may close the door to the cat house when we go to bed, also.  She only does stuff like this at night when we can't see her.  When we're awake, she always uses her boxes.

We're finished with Twitch's ear medicine but now his head is all greasy.  I tried to clean him up yesterday morning but I didn't have enough soap on the rag (I didn't want to get it in his eyes).  I will try again this afternoon.  Petting him is like running your hands through the hair of a 60s greased head. 

Sadie pretty much stays in her room now, although she's venturing out more.  I try to make it a habit to get in there several times a day to pet and play with her.  I also give her treats and try to brush her.  Twitch is still new so she may adjust.  This will be our last cat so there are no more surprises for her.

Since we covered the pond with net we've had some glorious days in the 70s.  Somehow the frogs find their way out from under the net but, of course, are too stupid to find their way back so they sit on top of the net.  We scoop them up with the big net and put them under the pond net but the next day....  One of these days they'll be caught outside and it will get cold.  So, we watch carefully.  We wouldn't like to kill any wildlife just because we are too lazy to scoop leaves.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Life with Twitch...

We've had Twitch several weeks now and it seems like he's always been here.  He's very sweet most of the time considering he's spent so much of his life at the no kill shelter and doesn't have a lot of one on one time with people so he's clumsy and sometimes annoyed with us.  We're still learning his rhythms.  He's so much more curious than our other two.  Sassy and Sadie have NEVER been seen on the tables or counters.  They like their window seats but they've never been where they're not supposed to be.  Twitch, is on everything, in everything.  Open a door, bam, he's there.  He wants in the cabinets, the closets, the fridge.  He loves to watch the water run in the sinks and is fascinated by a flushing toilet.  He sleeps with us every night and even likes to get under the feather duvet.  We've never had cats sleep with us before, so that's new for us.  It's hard to turn over at night without rolling over him.

The dynamics in the house have changed.  Sadie used to live in our bedroom, coming out to go into the cat house, eat and use the litter box.  Now she lives in the spare bedroom and rarely ventures out.  We've added a litter box and her dry food with a water bowl.  Carl takes her wet food there in the morning because she's still taking her pill.  He's cut that down to 1 every 3 days and this morning she actually purred for me.  She really doesn't do that much.  We'd much rather see her traveling the house and interacting more with the other two but whatever makes her comfortable is ok with us.

Sassy actually spends more time searching for, running away from and being close to Twitch.  They play chase and I've even seen them bat at each other and not in a mean way.  Twitch loves to play and so does Sassy so eventually they may even become friends.  They do not sleep together.  Sassy has been really good about using her litter box with the puppy pads as long as we are diligent about keeping it clean.  In fact, after we clean it she can't wait to use it so usually we have to clean it twice in the morning.  We've added a new litter box to the laundry room for Twitch so we're actually up to seven boxes although not all are used everyday.  We've had the carpets cleaned and blocked off the living room so she can't get to her favorite spots to poop.  As long as the gate is up, she's good with her litter box.  Twitch can jump the gate but he's got a litter box in the living room which he uses on occasion.  We're hoping sometime soon we can remove that box and the one in the dining room for good but we'll still leave the gate up until we feel Sassy has lost her fixation with the living room.  Eventually we hope to be down to 2 in the laundry room, 1 in the basement and 1 in the spare bedroom (the rule is 1 more box than cats).

We took Twitch to the vet yesterday.  He was due for shots in early November but he's got some hair loss around his nose and up by his eyes.  He's so pretty, it's distracting and we didn't know if it would get worse.  Twitch does not like shots.  It took 3 of us to hold him.  He's 9lbs, 8oz and long and lean.  I called him 'sissy pants' all the way home.  Sassy just lays there for shots, Twitch not so much.  The vet examined his ears and face and prescribed an antibiotic for both.  We need to squirt stuff in his ears twice a day and massage them to take care of the mites.  He doesn't like it.  The antibiotic is liquid and he needs it once a day.  I'm doing ears (for seven days) and Carl is doing his antibiotic for twenty days. If there is no improvement in the hair loss the next step would be to anesthetize him and scrap the skin so they can tell just what's happening with him. 

Last night we were having a family dinner so all of us were at the dining room table eating chili when Twitch nonchalantly jumps up on the table between my daughter and SIL - just like he belonged there.  Luckily, when we put him down on the floor he doesn't try again.  Maybe in time he will learn 'that's not his space'.

That's the update.  I'll post again soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

And Twitch makes three...

It seems like forever since I've posted here so let me bring you up to date:

A new family building in our subdivision has a 9 year old that apparently has decided on a life of crime.  She's been stealing from the neighbors, from school and last week she brought a plastic bag and walked off with our best fish while trying to destroy our pond.  Suffice it to say, I was bummed.  One of the fish she took was a 6-7" fantail, the last of three we purchased.  Police were called but I've heard nothing since the officer talked to the father.  Apparently the fish were given to a construction worker and are long gone (why would you steal something and then gift it to someone?).  Since then I can't walk by a window without glancing down to see if she's back, this incident put a dent in my tranquility.

My sister-in-law from California is visiting a friend in Quincy and has stopped by our house for several days.  Reminds me of a George Carlin routine where supply lines are getting longer and harder to maintain.  She has stuff in California, stuff in Quincy and now she has stuff here.  She and her friend, Charla, are leaving here today for Quincy and taking my husband with them.  He'll be gone several days and while he's away....

I plan to adopt another cat and will pick him up on Thursday.  Three years ago we adopted Sassy, our Persian.  As I was walking by Twitch's cage, he reached out both paws and grabbed my arm.  I promised him I would be back for him and have thought of him often.  He's five years old and I know he's been at the A.R.K. for at least three.  I am fixing up our bedroom for him, litter box in the master bath, toys, cat tree and a screen door between him and what could be his harem, Sassy and Sadie.  Fingers crossed that they not only get along, but that Sassy and Twitch become friends.  Sadie doesn't seem to need them, but Sassy loves to play and I'm hoping he will too.  And while we're on the subject of cats, we had all our carpets shampooed last week and removed all the litter boxes from the formal living room.  Since we hang in the family room, the living room is filled with spare furniture, Carl's desk and cat stuff.  We had six litter boxes, three lined with puppy pads since we discovered Sassy has a real problem with litter.  Now, we have two boxes with puppy pads, one in the foyer and one in the laundry room.  We have two litter boxes, one inside an end table and one in the basement.  Sassy has been really good about her boxes, using them exclusively since last Thursday and we are sticklers for keeping her boxes clean.  Sadie likes the one in the basement.  Life with cats is good now but we're following the 'trust but verify' rule and leaving up the gate to the living room for a while.  And all bets are off when we (I) bring Twitch home.

For those of you following the Wookiee, he's mostly finished.  He's been trooping (he gathers crowds everywhere he goes) and my daughter is starting new projects, specifically a Cousin Itt using the same techniques she used on the Wookiee.  People are actually asking her to make costumes for them and they have money in hand so I suspect she's going to be busy for a while.  In addition to her incredible sewing talent, she's becoming a terrific photographer, often taking pictures of the 501st when they're out doing what they do.  She embellishes the photos into works of art.  She's my kid and I'm really proud of her.

There you have all the news that's fit to print.  The nights are getting cooler here, the sun is rotating on its axis, the garden is slowly going to sleep and I'm gearing up cardmaking for an October craft sale in Chillicothe, IL.  All is well in our world.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Here kitty, kitty...

It's been a while since I've had an update on our garden.  The pond that we installed last spring has come into its own.  The pond plants are lush, and the fish are getting big.
This is the view from the steps to the gazebo looking west.
There is a raised bed at the back of the yard filled with butterfly and hummingbird flowers.
The fenced raised bed on the north side of the backyard contains all the plants the deer like to eat.  Honeysuckle is working its way up the old gazebo frame.
The enclosure we had built for the cats is well used.  Platforms up the sides provide plenty of room for them to sit and watch the back yard.
The enclosure is connected to the side of the house and can be entered through a pet door installed in an acrylic panel that replaced the screen in the window.  Our Persian, Sassy, learned to use the pet door almost immediately.  Our tuxedo cat, Sadie, still has not learned - the door must be pushed for her to access the enclosure.  They both spend a lot of time out there, Sassy spends the most time because she can come and go as she pleases.  We have to watch for Sadie to want to go out.  Who knew that Sassy was the smart one?

While rain was a problem early in the summer, now it's a long stretch between the rains that seem to pummel the north and south of us.   We spotted our first two monarch caterpillars on Tuesday.  The bluebirds fledged five babies in the early summer but did not nest again in either of our two bird boxes.  A small flock of turkeys have spent parts of every day in our yard for some time now.  The feed that Carl throws out every day helps to capture their attention. 

And...we've discussed a new kitten, hopefully a young male which will negate Sadie's territorial issues and give Sassy someone to play with.  Looking after the last week of September.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

With a heavy heart...

I have to share that we're putting Sadie back on medication.  We discovered she has been marking more places than we originally discovered.  Twice in the kitchen, twice in Carl's workroom downstairs and once in my bathroom on my shower curtain.  She's been with us for a little over two years now and can still be mean although she rarely uses claws now.  She is heavy into growling and running away from us which is something we could put up with but not the marking.  We have enough trouble with Sassy's fear of the litter box.  I envy those people who can adopt a rescue pet and not have as much trouble as we've had.  And it pains me to say that knowing what I know now, we would have gone petless.  Sassy has an amazing personality, she's more fun than a barrel of monkeys but she's been a big trial, too.  We have reached a sort of compromise with her and have had pretty good luck with puppy pads in a litter box.  We have way more good days than bad now, several years ago the reverse was true.  At least poop is easier to deal with and clean up than pee.  We have a whole cabinet of carpet cleaning products for her.  The pee is much harder to clean and get the smell out so we'll stick with the medication but every other day instead of every day.  If that stops the marking, we'll stick with that.  Stay tuned.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chipmunks and seeds and rain, oh my....

It's back to raining again today...and yesterday...and while our weather could be so much worse, it's getting tiresome.  We still have spring gardening work to do between raindrops and the weeds are getting a big jump on us.  I will have photos to share as soon as we get some good weather, the gardens are growing well and the annuals were planted yesterday: mammoth sunflowers, cleome, tithonia, cosmos, zinnia and flax.  I actually planted them in a little bed in the back of the house between the chimney and the water barrel, it's up about sixteen or eighteen inches off the ground which will keep the rabbits out and Carl installed one of our famous 'removable' fences in front to keep out the deer.  But this morning, 24 hours after planting, the chipmunks had already dug holes in it.  We've purchased extra large containers of cayenne pepper that works but must be reapplied after every rain and it rains and rains and rains.

On a cheerful note, the baby bluebirds have all hatched, the first was on my birthday on Saturday.  Mom and dad have to hustle to feed five, especially when the rain keeps the insects hiding.  The dove that was nesting on the 2x4 is gone and so is her eggs.  She had built a nest inside the clematis but the winds blew the clematis over and exposed her nest.  I don't know what happened to the eggs, perhaps another bird got them, they were not due to hatch for a week yet.  It amazes me the dove population is as high as it is, they really choose bad locations for nesting.

And on a sad note:  Sadie has started marking around the doors, and food dishes again.  We had spread out the dishes in each bathroom so each cat could eat in peace, but this morning I found Sadie had peed on my bath mat and shower curtain where she eats and peed on the washer in the laundry room where Sassy eats.  That started a check of the house and we found she had peed on the front door, too.  We have had Sadie on meds for about a year because of this issue.  When she's drugged, she doesn't mark, she's calmer and less aggravated.  We had thought when we weaned her off of the meds that the issue had gone away.  But, now she hisses and growls at us; not all the time, but enough that it gets old.  She won't allow us to remove knots or groom her.  We've been hearing more snits between the cats lately, if one comes around the corner and encounters the other one, there's hissing and growling, mostly from Sadie.  We hate to think we have to go back on meds, but sending her back to the no-kill shelter is the only other option.  We can't keep cleaning up cat pee especially when the other cat wants to do it, too.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hope springs eternal...

Sassy has only had two accidents since May 5th.  She's exclusively using the boxes with the puppy pads in them.  I just ordered 200 more puppy pads and I'm perfectly happy to continue using them for the rest of her life.  I've noticed that she tries to cover up her business even though there isn't any litter in the box, she didn't do that in the boxes with litter, she would just poop and leave.  Perhaps it was all about the scratching and being declawed.  It's really too soon to declare victory but she seems to be happier, running around the house like a whirling dervish.  And we're happy we don't have to keep locking her up because clearly that wasn't working.

This is the newest addition to our house, an enclosure the cats can use to go outside, it's accessed from a window in our family room.
 It has an acrylic roof to let in the light, a door we can use to clean it, and a lock so it doesn't accidentally get opened.
 It has plenty of perches to separate each cat.
It occupies a portion of our courtyard (which is much cleaner now).  This area was just dirt when we moved in.  Carl put landscaping tiles down, he put some timbers on the left to hold mulch, we installed pots in that area for our vegetable garden, he bought fencing to keep the deer out and this year on the right side I planted a new fragrant viburnum this year.  Our bedroom window is above this courtyard so we will benefit from the fragrance.
Sadie is clearly happy with it.
Even though the pet door isn't installed yet, she spends a great deal of time out here - we just open the window and tolerate the bugs.

This is their view from the top perches.  They can see the pond and the birds.  We plan to install a small feeder in the courtyard to attract birds for them to watch, too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Around and around and around...

Sassy has been spending nights in the laundry room using the litter box with the puppy pad.  We tried to talk her into the box with litter (both boxes were in the laundry room and then we removed the puppy pad box) but she just used the floor.  So, the puppy pad box was returned to the laundry room.  Before we had a chance to lock her up Sunday night, she pooped on the living room carpet right in front of the bay window.  So (light bulb!!), I cleaned another box really well, added a puppy pad and put the box where she likes to poop.  By late morning on Monday she had used the box to pee.  I talked Carl into leaving her out last night - he was skeptical, but he did it.  Before I went to bed, I had a heart to heart talk with her and told her 'daddy' would be really mad if she made another mess and she might end up living her entire life in the laundry room if she didn't behave.  This morning she had pooped in the puppy pad box in the living room.  Sadie is completely off her meds.  She's back to waking us up in the morning by grooming us and pushing her head into our hands.  This morning it was at 4:30 AM.  We haven't seen any evidence of her marking around the doors.

We finally got up the nerve to shave and bathe Sassy.  She had lumpy knots close to her skin that she would not let me brush.  So, we got out the electric shaver and while it's not a professional job, it's not bad.  She's gone from laying on the brick hearth to laying on a window seat in the sun.  She actually looks like a puppy now.  Since she seemed to be cold I crocheted her a sweater.  I just put it on her this morning and when she tried to back out of it, she fell off the window seat.  I'll keep an eye on her and we'll see how it goes.   Soon after I typed this I heard this low howl and found her in the hallway making this continuous growl so I figured she was finished with it.  I'll try it on her again later.  It's funny that Sadie and Sassy had a 'no aggression' pact.  They just walk wide around each other.  After Sassy's bath and shave, they both started hissing at each other again just like they didn't know each other. 

The white crabapple and the red bud are both losing their blossoms.  The white petals of the crabapple rained like snow yesterday morning and the rain last night finished them off, but they were both glorious.  The pink crabapple is just starting to bloom.  The Solomon's Seal and wild Columbine are both blooming, the iris are showing color in the buds, one of the salvias has a stalk of blossoms, the catmint is showing flower buds, the peonies are 3 feet tall with buds on them, all the hydrangeas have stalks coming up, the American Plum we planted bare root last Thursday has popped several leaves.  I love the garden in spring, everything looks so fresh and clean.  Either the toads or tree frogs laid eggs in the pond last night.  Unfortunately, they wrapped them around the cord of the UV light I was going to remove from the pond, guess it will have to stay until the eggs hatch.  That should only take a few days.  I actually sent my husband to the big city with a flower list.  I have 12 window boxes around the deck and several pots that need to be filled every year.  Seven of the window boxes are in the shade and five are in the sun so I wanted Impatiens and Begonias.  We also need Gartenmeister Fuschia and Black and Blue Salvia for the hummingbirds and 3 Dracena for the pots on the north side of the house.  The Dracena are pretty much neglected but they do very well in that location.  He came back with everything I wanted except the Fuschia which they didn't have.  I will need to head to a nursery to pick that up.  I was so proud of him.  Our last trip to Hornbakers in Princeton, we picked up another pot of shade plants for his garden in the trees.  He plants and waters his own garden and has some lovely shade wild flowers blooming out there.

Tree frog or toad eggs
 The pond garden that we established last year.
 The other side of the pond garden.
The new pergola

The bluebirds have built their nest in the north bluebird box.  She just finished the nest on Sunday and we don't have an egg yet.  I'm hoping for today, she just went into the box so I'll check it around noon today.  She won't start incubating until she lays her last egg.  Since they aren't in the nest box until that last egg, we need to be vigilant in watching the eggs so the wren, house sparrow or cowbird doesn't get into the box.  The wren and house sparrow will destroy the eggs and the cowbird will lay an egg in the nest, she expects the bluebirds to raise her young.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

From this window - April 28, 2015

Lots happening with spring in the midwest.  All the crab apple trees are blooming, one is white with pale pink centers and one is a dark pink.  The apply tree has blossoms on it.  The tulips were spectacular.  The fish have laid eggs and for the first time I've actually seen the eggs.  Night temperatures are still in the 30s so the toads haven't bred yet.  Seeds have been planted and are in the greenhouse with the tropical pond plants that were moved outside last week.  We have been running two small heaters at night which keeps the temperature about 60.  Yesterday's shopping trip for plants yielded a new Viburnum, a baby butterfly bush, several new pond plants, a fancy Datura, a pot of Virginia bluebells and another really pretty shade plant for the woods.  I've already purchased my Sweet 100 and Celebrity tomato plants; they are residing in the greenhouse awaiting good weather.  No sign of the hummingbirds or orioles although the feeders have been out for over a week.  The chipping sparrows are here along with the grackles.  I watched a white-crowned sparrow bathe in the pond yesterday.  He was in and out of the pond ten times before he considered himself clean enough.  The first water lilies have broken the surface and I've treated the pond twice with algaecide because of the string algae.

We've not seen the bluebirds but we did find a potential aid to keeping the house sparrows out of the house.  My husband saw a design that involved string fish line around the entrance hole.  One bluebird house actually had the start of a house sparrow nest inside which we cleaned out and after the fish line was installed, the house sparrows did not return.  The nest box in the back yard had some wren sticks in it.  We found last year that a wren guard works really well, but you can't put it up until the bluebirds lay their first egg.  Still waiting for the bluebirds to come back.

We had a local carpenter build a pergola over our deck.  We had a canopy on a frame that was put up every spring and taken down in the fall.  In the course of handling, several rips appeared and it wasn't very attractive.  The pergola isn't waterproof but it's lovely and provides wonderful shade.  The carpenter did a fabulous job, we're very pleased and will be eating our first family dinner on the deck tomorrow.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it but there is a new house going up right across the street from our driveway.  Piles of dirt, heavy equipment, lots of noise.  Luckily, the only view of the mess is from our living room bay window and that's the room we spend the least amount of time in.  The view from our deck is blocked by both the greenhouse and a 30' blue spruce.  All day long it's beep beep beep from large trucks backing up and pound pound pound from the hammers and nail guns.  Since work just started last week, we have a long time to go.  And to add to this, our new neighbors are bikers with 3 big dogs that only bark once in a while and loads of friends that will be coming for parties.  We know this because they told us.   The turkeys, deer and coyotes that used to cross that field must be really confused now.

If you like birds, and you crochet, don't throw away your yarn scraps.  Cut them in 4" portions and drop them on your grass.  Watch the robins scoop them up and use them for their nests.  You can see them carry the bits to where they are building.  If you have cats that need to be brushed, save the fur, put it out on the lawn in late April, early May, birds love fur because it's soft and dries quickly.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Let's hear it for puppy pads...

Today is Monday, April 20th.  Sassy has been using the box with the puppy pad religiously since Friday and last night for the first time in several weeks, she spent the night out.  Carl said she pooped in the box before he went to bed but we had planned to leave her out.  So, this morning, I pulled the litter box out of the cabinet in the laundry room and put the box with the puppy pad in.  A half an hour later, she had used the litter box in the cabinet.  We do leave the door to the cabinet open.  We'll do that for a few weeks assuming she keeps using the box with the pad.  Then we will try with the box closed.  We do change the pad immediately after we notice she's used it. 

Sadie is on one pill every three days on her way to being weaned off of them.  This morning we had a cat spat in the family room.  I'm not sure who started it but Sadie ended up back up upstairs and Sassy stayed in the family room.  While we worry about their interaction, they need to work it out themselves.  We will break it up if it gets vicious, but for now we're just watching.  That's the update for now.  Fingers crossed.

Friday, April 17, 2015

An idea forms...

As you know, Sassy has been on lockup at night for several weeks.  Carl scoops her up when he goes to bed and locks her in the laundry room.  She can't come out until she poops.  She's good with this.  She's in and out of the laundry room all day proving that the room doesn't bother her.  The last week, however, she's been pooping in the litter box and peeing on the floor.  Not every night but several times.  Frustrating.  Tuesday night I had a dream about litter boxes (I know, right?).  I dreamed that we put a puppy training pad in the bottom of one of the litter boxes and Sassy loved it.   So, we thoroughly cleaned a box (it isn't like we don't have a bunch of them), put a large puppy pad in it and locked her up with her regular box and the new one with the puppy pad.  She used the box with the puppy pad, both poop and pee.  Not a great leap forward, but encouraging.  If she uses it during the day we might have reason to celebrate.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

From this window, April 9th, 2015

First let's update Sassy and Sadie.  Sassy hasn't had an accident since we let her stay out of the laundry room all night - that was three nights ago.  Although she doesn't always use the same box, she has been using the box.  We aren't holding our breath but three days with no clean up is refreshing.  Sadie has learned to climb to the top of the cat tree.  First time.  Sassy lays on the first level once in a while but hasn't liked the top yet.  Sadie watched the young men clean our pond yesterday from the top of the tree which is positioned in front of the sliding door going to the deck.  You can see the pond from her perch and she watched intently.  Today was rainy so we had to open and shut the windows which drives Sadie crazy.  Get in the window, get out of the window...

Now for the garden...  With the pond up and running the birds have been drinking from the pond so we put up the heated birdbath.  Anson and Eric brought softball size stones and pebbles to build up an area on a shelf in the pond so the birds could bathe.  They like to duck out of the cedar, fly to the pond, drink, bathe and fly back to the cedar so we established a bathing area close to the cedar.  Hopefully this will make them comfortable.  The pond water is clear, all the fish survived but we had one frog casualty, our leopard frog didn't make it.  It will be May before the tropical plants get into the pond, they are currently in the greenhouse.

We purchased seeds today for planting and Carl is finishing the trays I will use to put my plants in.  I bought Cosmos, Zinnia, Tithonia, Red Milkweed and Orange Milkweed, Cleome, Sweet William, Mammoth Sunflower, Moonflower, Flax-Linum, Cardinal Climber, and Giant Nicotiana.  I always grow enough Cardinal Climber and Moonflower to sell at the neighborhood garage sale.

We saw our first American Toad this afternoon, a little male.  It won't be long before they are singing and laying eggs.  The tree frogs will be singing soon also.  I saw the first male Chipping sparrows yesterday also but the hummingbirds and wrens are not here yet.

Monday, April 6, 2015

From this window, April 5th, 2015

Last fall Carl mulched a few bags of leaves using the push power mower with the bag.  Then we dumped the mulched leaves on several of the flower beds in lieu of purchased mulch.  Leaves add lots of organic material to the soil as well as preserving water but in some places we got it a little deep.  So, I spent part of the day cutting back the butterfly bushes (both large and miniarture) and uncovering the iris rhizomes.  While I was fluffing up some of the leaves mashed down by the snow it was evident lots of plants are coming up.  The Meadow Sage, Yarrow, Catmint, Clematis, Honeysuckle, Iris, Tulips, Daffodils, Black-Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Autumn Joy Sedum, Candytuft, and Veronica are all coming up through the leaves.  That's just in the two raised beds.  Since we cleaned the debris from most of the gardens last fall, this spring was a piece of cake.  In years past, my daughter, SIL and grandchildren used to come out and help us open the garden beds as a Mother's Day gift to me but somehow we lost that tradition.  Carl was saying yesterday how much he missed it.  While we aren't ancient by any means, each year takes a little longer and it's a little harder to get up after having gotten down.  The new raised bed that was built is my favorite because I can sit on the side of it and work in that bed.  Consequently, it's the nicest bed because of the ease of weeding.

While taking a break and sitting in the swing on the shed porch, we glanced up and saw half a dozen white pelicans circling the house.  Their color changes as they turn into and out of the sun, from pure snow white to greyish with black on the end of their wings.  It's mesmerizing to watch them.  There has been no evidence of our juncos for several days, we assume they have left for the north to breed.  The beautiful male Towhee has been gone for several weeks.  The chipping sparrows are not here yet nor are the hummingbirds.  According the Journey North, the hummingbirds were in Southern Illinois a week ago so they are coming.  The bluebirds were on the north box several days ago but I haven't seen them since.  We put out a feeder that holds whole peanuts but filled it with accumulated cat fur from a winter's brushing of the Persian.  We will know when nesting season starts; the birds will be pulling fur from the feeder and it will drift across the yard.  Titmice will fight over it.  Cat hair is soft and dries quickly so it's perfect for lining a nest.  I keep the brushed fur in empty tissue boxes and store it in the garage until it's needed.  In a good winter, I can fill four or five boxes.

We had a good rain four days ago and the grass started greening up immediately.  The crab apple tree outside my 'studio' (craft room) is showing leaves now.  All the maple trees around our house as well as the two river birches have either big buds or actual leaves showing.  The forecast for our area is rain this week so by the weekend, our world will be fresh and green.  We have miniature daffodils blooming in the front yard and the day lilies are up several inches.  A good rain will be a big boost to growth.

I moved the house plants into the greenhouse yesterday.  With rain and clouds the weather is perfect for them.  They need to be eased into being outdoors and with a heater for chilly nights, a week or two in the greenhouse is just what the doctor ordered.  The pond plants that have wintered over in the bay window in buckets of water should perk up being outside.  Carl will have the water barrels up soon so I can use rain water to keep the buckets filled.  It will be many weeks before the temperatures at night are stable enough for the fragile tropical plants to go in the pond.  Soon, I will be out shopping for the plants that always sell out because they can be stored in the greenhouse as well.  Black and Blue Salvia is hard to find, it's a hummingbird magnet.  Coral Nymph Salvia is also a wonderful hummingbird plant along with Gartenmeister Fuchsia.  I need two tomato plants - Celebrity and Sweet 100s, both for salads and burgers.  Celebrity is a smaller tomato but very prolific and has a wonderful flavor.  I pick the Sweet 100s and eat them right off the plant.  I used to grow Romas but found I didn't use them all so now I just grow the two types in the little courtyard off the gazebo.  It's fenced in so the animals can't get the the veggies.  This year we will reduce the pots there to allow room for a cat run outside our family room window.  This will allow our two cats access to the outside without really being free.  Our black cat, Sadie, wants to go out badly.  Our Persian, Sassy, likes the window but doesn't try to make a break for it every time the door is open.  We hope this will keep Sadie happy.

I also need seeds.  Zinnia, Cosmos and Tithonia.  The Zinnias and Cosmos will provide flowers for the bees and butterflies and seeds for the birds in the fall.  Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) will attract butterflies from everywhere.  Our Monarchs have fallen off in recent years.  Last year we only saw a couple of caterpillars and we plant milkweed specifically for them, both the orange and swamp varieties.  I need to purchase both kinds as they tend to die out after several years.  They also grow in the worst possible places, in between bricks that line the beds and outside the beds where mowing takes place.  Of course, we are careful to avoid damaging those plants but sometimes accidents happen.  Our gardens are design for nature.  If a plant can't feed something or provide a nest site, we aren't interested in cultivating it.  New this year was a screech owl box in the woods behind the house.  We saw one last year, what a thrill.  Hoping we will get a tenant.  And a Pileated Woodpecker was on the kitchen suet feeder last week, I got a picture but my hand was shaking so bad it's not a good one.  Hoping like crazy he/she will be back now that he/she knows where the suet is.  Carl bought an extra box of 12 cakes just to make sure we had it on hand.  Well, that's life in the midwest in early April, I hope where ever you are, nature is good to you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Here a cat, there a cat....

Everyday is a new adventure here.  Spring has given us a few warm days and no matter where Sadie is in the house, awake or asleep, if there is a whisper of a window going up, she's right there.  Sassy likes the window but Sadie is obsessed and if the weather is nice we try to make up for the years she had no access to a window by providing as many open windows and sliding doors as she can handle.

Sadie is still taking her meds every other day but I don't see her temperament changing.  She's still aggressive on occasion and we still bleed now and then.  I'm better at recognizing the quickly changing emotions than Carl is and can usually get out of the way, so I bleed less, but when she catches you with a claw, she digs deep. 

Sassy is still on bathroom lockup at night but as soon as she potties she's out of there.  We say "poop will set you free".  We've only had two accidents since we started locking her up in the laundry room and they've only been when we've relented and let her out before we see evidence in the litter box.  Yesterday we left early in the morning and only Carl came home (I was at a craft show all day).  She hadn't done anything in the box so Carl left her there for another hour, finally he took pity on her and let her out and later he found she'd used the box in the laundry room - go, Sassy.  This morning she had already gone.  She's a smart cat, she knows what "potty" means and if she wants out she needs to go potty.  She can do it on command if she has to go, she's so excited when she poops in the box, so we just don't get it when she doesn't.  I fear it will always be a mystery to us.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

From this window - 3/29/15

Carl and I are prepared for spring even if Mother Nature isn't cooperating.  I checked out a couple of the garden beds yesterday.  The fenced bed has tulips, black-eyed susans and day lilies breaking ground.  I've seen a couple of iris leaves peeping up in the front garden bed.  Autumn joy sedum is breaking ground along the sidewalks, the clematis has buds and the honeysuckle has leaves.  The flower buds on the crab apple get bigger everyday.  I've seen the cardinals chasing each other, the chickadees checking out bird houses and bird song gets louder each week.  We're looking forward to temperatures in the 60s next week when the greenhouse will go up.  Carl has repaired all the birdhouses, moved the wren houses to the back of the woods and added sparrow resistance to the box by the craft room.  We're testing something new this year.  If the wren likes that box, we also have deterrent for him which worked well last year.  It's a real commitment raising bluebirds. 

Update on Sadie and Sassy:  Sassy is still in lock up at night.  Every night.  She doesn't get out until there's poop and pee in the box in the laundry room.  There have even been times during the day when I've caught her sniffing in the living room so I scoop her up and lock her in the laundry room.  She always goes potty and yowls for me to let her out.  And we do.  We want her to associate the gate coming down with using the litter box.  I ordered two small window bird feeders made of clear acrylic and held up with suction cups.  We lowered my craft room storm window about eight inches and affixed the feeders to the outside of it.  I can raise the screen and fill the feeders which allow entertainment for the cats.  Even with the inside window up, they can't get the birds but they have a ton of fun trying.

Sadie is still on every other day meds but we haven't gotten her to eat them the last two days making four days without medication.  No marking around the doors so far and I actually got a picture on my phone this morning of them both laying in the dining room, one on each side of the cat tree watching the birds in the yard.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sassy, Sassy, Sassy

We're going to have to get tough if we want to straighten out Sassy.  What we don't understand is she's a smart cat, perhaps one of the smartest I've ever had.  She knows she's supposed to use the litter box, she avoids us when she's been bad, she knows what 'potty' means and does it on command if she has to go.  I can't tell you how many times I've asked her if she needs to go potty and she will go in the litter box ... or she will wait five minutes and go on the carpet.  My fault for not staying with her after I say the 'p' word.  We've locked her up at night and found pee on the laundry room floor right next to the box.  At this point I think it's a battle of sheer will.  We have been locking her up at night and in the morning if there is no poop in the box, I take her to my craft room and we put the gate up in the hall.  She can get to my craft room, my bathroom and part of the hall.  I placed the litter box (a new one just for her) in the hall by the gate.  Yesterday morning I put the litter box down and asked her if she had to go potty.  She sniffed the box a few times and walked away.  I went back into my room to check e-mail and about ten minutes later heard her yowling.  She had pooped in the litter box and was alerting me to the fact.  We opened up the gate (she had been locked up in my craft room area for about an hour) and let her go.  This morning after she was locked up in the laundry room all night, I took her back upstairs again (on the 4th floor of our quad level), put her litter box down (we keep this box put up so Sadie does not use it) and it only took about ten minutes for her to use it and yowl.  So, we let her go.  This routine is a pain in the butt for us but it's worked for two days.  We even left the house yesterday afternoon for over an hour and no messes.

Sadie is adjusting well to her every other day medication, she's even a bit more friendly and lets both of us brush her daily.  She's not allowing us to work on the knots, though.  This morning I tried and she hit me with claws, I bled for half an hour.  When she's done, she's done.

Interaction between the cats isn't getting any better.  Sassy has actually been hissing and growling at Sadie which is something she really hasn't done much of.  That tells us the dynamics of top cat might be changing from Sassy to Sadie.  But, who knows?  At this point we're just leaving them alone to work it out, they aren't fighting each other, just us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The wookie has arms....

You can see the detail work on the arms.  Since the arms are in motion, each square of mesh must be covered.  Lots of work.  Fur will be completed soon and next will be the straps that hold equipment.  Hoping all will be done by C2E2.  Brad is hoping to be his wookiee at the convention which should boost the accolades for Charlotte's costuming ability.  Together, Brad and Charlotte make a dynamic team.

A breakthrough....

Sunday night I caught Sassy scratching and sniffing around the living room.  I asked her several times if she had to go potty, she inspected one of the living room litter boxes and ran into the dining room.  I just had a feeling so I scooped her up, took her to the laundry room, put up the gate and told her to go potty.  This was about 7:00 pm Sunday.  I told Carl to check before he went to bed and if she had used the laundry room litter box to let her out - she did and he did. 

Last night I watched the clock.  About 7:00pm, I grabbed her and took her to the laundry room and closed the gate.  At 7:20 I heard her yowl, not a meow, but a full-blown "come here" and when I did, she had used the litter box so I let her out.  I spent some time loving on her and telling her what a good girl she was.  And while she pooped, she did not pee - at least not where we can find it.  So, either she didn't go or she went somewhere and we don't know where.  But...while I hate to hope, I will grab her tonight about 7:00 and lock her in the laundry room.  We'll see how fast she catches on.

On the other front, Sadie becomes more manic everyday.  She's running and jumping, in the windows and out of the windows.  She let me brush her a bit this morning but she will not allow me to tackle those knots on her back.  I'll keep plugging away at those.  Luckily Sassy loves to be brushed so we don't have that problem with her. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring fever...

Sadie is getting more active every day since we've started giving her meds every other day; she races through the house like she has someplace to go.  With the temperatures in the 50s and 60s and the windows open, Sadie has staked claim to the family room window and Sassy has moved to the bedroom window.  Soon, I will have my craft room window open (I'm waiting for a new bird feeder to put in the window) and they will congregate there.  Sassy is still thinking the litter box is optional once in a while.  We don't think anything will change that.  Sassy and Sadie still walk wide around each other but were seen sitting side by side at the top of the stairs this morning.  They're weird!  Carl and I have talked about building an enclosure outside the family room window that will allow the cats to go through the window and climb into the enclosure.  We researched plans on the internet and have come up with a design we think will work and Carl is so handy with wood.  You can also buy windows with tubes that can be put into existing windows to allow cats to pass back and forth; sort of a sophisticated pet door that looks good.  We figure Sadie will be the first one out.  Sassy has been to the gazebo many times and is always looking to go back into the house as soon as we open the door.  Sadie wants to go out any time the door is open so she might be the only one to use it.  We joke that Sadie is Carl's cat, she spends a lot of time in the basement with him and Sassy is definitely a mama's girl, so if Carl can make Sadie happy, he's thrilled to do it.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The better to hold you with, my dear...

This is the part where you start going crazy because you're so close, yet not so close. The armor and dread beads are in the mail. Hopefully we can do a fit today so we can measure for the harness. Brad is in limbo, so he started the Tuscan. Once we get measurements, he can cut the harness and work on that.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Running back to square one...

After several days of being really happy with Sassy, Tuesday morning found another mess on the living room floor three inches from the litter box.  She could have had her front feet in the box when she pooped on the carpet.  So, we're back to lock up.  Since she's eliminating about 8:00pm, we're locking her up at 7:00pm.  If she's done by the time Carl goes to bed, she can come out.  Hopefully, we'll catch most of it.  After three years, I'm not hopeful we will get this problem under control.  I had a sleepless night last night thinking about it.  I'm at my wit's end.  We've run out of ideas.  The first night in lock up in the laundry room she pooped and peed on the rug in front of the sink.  The litter box in the laundry room (and our spare bathroom) is in the table we purchased and it's very obvious she doesn't like it, although Sadie doesn't mind.  So, we moved another litter box in (defeating the purpose of hiding the litter box when guests use that bathroom) and she's using that one.  Just when the sun breaks through the clouds, we find ourselves beating our heads on walls.  Meanwhile, oblivious to all of our concerns, she's just the happiest cat - and the sweetest.

On another note, for the first time since early fall, the sun now peeks into my craft room window.  The earth is moving on its axis and spring can't be far behind.  At least in theory.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Electrical connection reestablished...

That electrical connection in Sassy's brain that we always thought was broken seems to have (at least temporarily) reconnected.  She's still using the box in the living room - the other two boxes are currently unused although Sadie does a complete sniff on both of them before going to the basement to use the box there.  I don't know what makes her dissatisfied with the boxes she previously used.  Perhaps it's the sides on the boxes.  The box that didn't have the sides on it caused her to spill over and we had to clean up the pee that was outside the box.  Totally not her fault.  And she won't use the box that Sassy is currently so fond of.  The box in the basement is an XL, much bigger than the three in the living room, perhaps she likes the bigger box.  I'd love to remove two boxes from the living room and leave the box Sassy likes.  We're afraid any change now will break the spell.

This morning I was in the living room playing with both cats.  Sassy got as close as putting her nose on Sadie's tail before Sadie walked away.  No hissing or growling, she just moved.  Sadie is still getting a pill every other day and no evidence of marking.

Sassy has developed several really large knots on her hindquarters.  She is totally comfortable with me brushing her chest, upper belly, back and sides until you reach her nether regions and her hindquarters and then she snaps at me.  So, I had Carl hold her down and got out the clippers and cut them out.  Now she looks funny, one hip is devoid of hair but the hair on her back is so long it covers some of it.  We're going to do the same thing to the other side, perhaps just shave her from her hips down her legs and butt.  That electric razor we got works a treat.  Zip, zip and we're done.  So, maybe we'll finish tonight.  Then I can introduce her to brushing where it doesn't hurt and keep that from happening again.  Sadie now has a knot at the top of her tail and she's adamant we don't get near it.  Where Sassy is a sissy and can be held down, neither of us want to deal with Sadie's teeth and claws.  Perhaps a wet towel someday, we'll wrap her up and shave it off.

Monday, March 2, 2015

From this window 3/2/15,...

Just to wet your whistle for spring.  Blue Dasher Dragonfly taken June 21, 2007 in our old pond.  Temperatures here are rising from single digits to the 40s by the end of the week.  My new lotus tuber has put up five leaves and two new shoots, the Towhee is still with us under the bird feeder, the possum made a visit last night, the male cardinals are chasing each other (a clear sign mates and territories are being chosen), birds are singing in the morning, the squirrels are playing peek-a-boo.  Even though we just got a fresh four inches of snow over the weekend, spring is happening if you know where to look.  Next week the 50s.  The greenhouse will go up, I will be selecting seeds to plant, the snow will melt and you will be able to smell the earth.  Birds will start looking for homes and checking out birdhouses so we will make sure they are clean and in good repair.  Since we did a good job of mulching last year, that chore is already done but the pond will need to be cleaned out; we will hire the people who constructed the pond to clean it.  This fall we will cover the pond with a net so we won't have so much to clean.  When you clean a pond, you remove the old water and add new.  All the dragonfly and damselfly nymphs are washed away and you need to add chemicals to encourage the bacteria that keep the pond clean to flourish.  If you can avoid that process, nature will stabilize your pond and all the critters that balance it will keep it clean and fresh.  We just have to remember when planting around the pond to leave room to attach the net.  I will be transplanting the creeping thyme from the area where we feed the fish to the slope by the stream.  The net can go over those plants with no trouble.  Today is bright and sunny and the icicles are dripping and I am hopeful to see daffodils breaking ground next week.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Another journey...

The last two weeks have been up and down.  After several accidents, Sassy was on lock down again for a week.  Since she only pooped once a day and that was at night, locking her up until she pooped was the easiest thing to do.  Then she changed her schedule to early evening so did a few more accidents and did nothing when we locked her up.  One day last weekend she finally started using the box in the living room that I placed next to the window (there are three in there now).  She's used the box faithfully since then.  Another good night last night.  But Wednesday night we think Sadie made a mess (it would be the first we think she's made except for peeing).  Carl has been slipping her a small amount of laxative in her food every other day.  She has been depositing one small drop in a box and another small drop in a different box several times a day.  She eats well and she's ten pounds so she should be expelling more than she does.  We tried the laxative to see if maybe she was bound up.  Wednesday night there was a mess next to the box and one in the window box which was clearly belonged to Sassy, so we attribute the mess on the carpet to Sadie.  Perhaps she's on her way to being regular.

We have been talking about weaning Sadie off of the medication again.  She's been on it daily since early November.  We're going to try every other day and see how that works.  If we don't see any marking we'll wait a while and reduce another day - a pill every third day. 

In an unrelated story, one of the local strays made an appearance Wednesday night on the deck.  Sassy tried to go through the glass after it.  The noise she was making actually scared me.  Unlike last time, we did not bring this cat in.  The cat we invited into our house on  February 15th has been diagnosed with feline aids which, I understand, is transmitted through blood and saliva.  Since our cats were never in contact with "Morris", they are safe.  Morris lived in our spare bedroom with his own food, water and litter box, everything went out to the garage after he was picked up by Bill and Sandy.  Sandy called us with the diagnosis for which there is no cure just to alert us.  Apparently, just like people aids, feline aids compromises the immune system leaving cats vulnerable to other problems.  They can live long and happy lives, so Sandy and Bill decided not to put him down (he is such a love) and as I write, he's at the vet being neutered and having his claws taken out so he doesn't scratch their other cat.  We made the decision not to remove Sadie's claws because I think it's a barbaric thing to do but they need to do what they feel is right for their household.  Just keeping him is an act of kindness.  If ever a cat was made for love, it was "Morris".

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Update on the lotus....

This picture shows the condition of the tuber when I received it.  If you double click and blow the picture up, you can clearly see the break in the tuber.
Hopeful,  I planted both tubers in this small 9 x 12" tub and put it on my seed starting mat.  I was rewarded with several shoots from both tubers.  At this point I asked about the size of the bigger tub and was told (in capital letters), you can't transplant now, you will kill it.  Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I ordered a lotus tub, had Carl get another bag of top soil and we cut the pink tub down the side and across the bottom separating the sides from the bottom of the tub.  We slid the bottom of the pink tub into the black tub and filled in dirt so the soil was level.
This is what it looks like today.  Three leaves up and two more in process.  Carl was talking about getting a kids swimming pool to set it in but how in the world would we ever move it outside?  As it is, we will need to remove the water, place the tub on a cart and move it outside.  Fun times.