Monthly Archives: February 2011

Strumming his one-string, we don’t have a porch swing…

At the old house, Oliver used to play guitar. There was one of those stretchy strings, the kind that comes around some gift boxes, that had gotten caught in the seam of one of our chairs. Oliver would pull the string tight and strum on it. He could do this for hours.

I don’t know what happened to the string, but he’ll do the same thing with a rubber band if you hold it for him.

"Strumming her pain with my toe pads..."

He actually has pretty good rhythm.

After this picture was taken, Oliver started using the rubber band to floss. It was pretty funny until his gums started bleeding. There goes my owner of the  year award.

In a lapse of attention, I let go of the rubber band and it shot against the wall. A couple seconds went by and I looked over at Obi. He was all squinty and stunned looking. I guess I got him with the rubber band as it whizzed by. There goes next year’s owner of the year award.

In other news…Kitty Playland has been sent to the recycling bin. All that remains is one box with this net-like paper packing material. This paper is best because it is fluffy enough that Obi can bury himself, you can see him through it, and it catches some awesome air when he shoots out of the box.

"Now I know how tuna feels. Mmmm, can we have some tuna?"

Kitten Thunder seems to be taking the change well. The Boy and I, however, are stunned every time we walk by that room. It looks weird with all that floor.


Channel surfing and the magic toy making stick

This morning I had a dream that it was my birthday and we had a beautiful cake COVERED in frosting flowers. I love frosting flowers. All morning, I anticipated having some of this delicious cake. Then lunchtime came and my coworkers cut the cake without me. I got the last piece – a tiny piece from the middle that was about the ONLY piece without extra frosting. So sad. I’ve been awake for about five hours and I’m still kind of ticked off at my coworkers for ripping me off on the frosting flower front. My point? None. No point whatsoever.

Obi has been channel surfing all day. He just strolls from one window to the next, barely stopping, sometimes sighing as he leaves his perch. He had one exciting moment when a squirrel was eating bread on the sill of one of the living room windows. I had to go get Obi from the dining room to show him. He launched himself out of my arms and into the window with such force that the squirrel actually jumped. Usually the squirrels just calmly eat their treat and watch Obi pounding on the window with a “dude…glass” look on their face. That’s right, Obi makes squirrels look cool.

I’m pretty sure Obi gave himself a concussion hitting the window. We watched him for an hour – this is how long we decided was cat equivalent to a person staying awake for 24 hours. We wondered if we’d be able to notice any mental impairment caused by the impact. We wondered how many times Obi, who doesn’t catch himself when he falls, has hit his head.

Part of the reason Obi made so much noise is that he knocked our yard stick against the window and then to the floor. After he channel surfed all the way through breakfast I decided to use the yard stick for its magical purpose. I waved my magic wand under the couch and made…toys! The best thing about the magic toy making stick is that it doesn’t create new toys, but it brings back their favorite toys from wherever those favorite toys got off to.

With a little digging, I created a catnip ball, squeaky mouse ball, and milk ring from the big couch. With one sweep of the wand I produced from the loveseat a teddy bear mouse and two flat leopard skin mice. I. Am. Magic.

One of the flat mice is already back under the loveseat. This has something to do with the fact that Obi will only play with this mouse on the living room rug. If the mouse tries to get away from the couches by flying into the entry way, Obi gets him and carries him back to the rug.

The catnip ball is under the recliner.

After playing with his toys, Obi was able to settle on the dining room channels of OutTV. Both of these channels can be viewed, while napping, from the top of the bookcase.

"OutRadio...when you can't see the birds, but you can hear them on the roof."

An Oliver update: Oli has been drug free since Wednesday. He is limping a tiny bit but it isn’t getting worse. I asked him this morning if he had a fever. He declined to answer. I asked him if he has Bieber Fever. He says, most decidedly, no.

One man’s trash is another man’s…kitty playland.

"I prefer to think INSIDE the box."

 When we moved to the new house there were three boxes of peanuts, paper and other packing material that ended up in the breakfast nook. Soon they became Kitty Playland. While The Boy is cooking, Obi and I spend a lot of time burying him in paper so he can burst out with an explosion of paper and various stuff.

My mother voted for the end of Kitty Playland because the breakfast nook is adorable and should be set up as a cozy place to enjoy coffee and the family on a Sunday morning. She’s not wrong. But the playland is awesome. AND the floor in the breakfast nook in ICE COLD in the winter. So the playland remains.

The other day, though, The Boy and I were discussing a downgrade. After all, we hadn’t seen the boys in two of the boxes for months. Clearly, they overheard.

"Paper or plastic?"

Flash goes the lightning, boom goes the thunder.

A year ago today, I had to put my cat Poco to sleep. She was just two months short of her 21st birthday. She would have NEVER thundered. Po was more like lightning – silent, stealthy, deadly. She would contemplate her actions for a long time, then act quickly. Also like lightning, Poco is the reason for thunder. Her death is why I have both Oliver and Obi. So today, we dedicate this post – which shouldn’t end up being a total bummer – to her.
“Stopping to smell the orchids just isn’t the same…”

– Oliver –
Poco had asthma her entire life. Slowly, over the years, her medication changed and the dosages got stronger. We really didn’t think she’d live to be 15 with the inevitable damage to her kidneys. When we lived in Idaho for university we had to deal with pollen and burning fields to clear them and many, many emergency visits to the vet. In Cheyenne it was better, but I still had her doctor on speed dial (have I mentioned how much I love the folks at Cheyenne Pet Clinic?).

When she was 14, I was dealing with the impending loss of my sweet little girl. She looked fine but, really, how much longer would she last? Then I met Oliver. Oli and his siblings were picked up by some well-meaning walkers behind a retirement facility on the north side of town. There’s a rampant feral cat population out there. The kittens were about four hours old and two of them – Oliver and Hope – were very ill. Their respiratory infection nearly killed them.

Enter me, a couple of days later. I was there to interview one of the staffers about the facility and her job there. I ended up holding this teeny tiny little grey thing. She mentioned he would probably have respiratory problems his whole life. They needed to place him with someone with experience. She looked pointedly at me. She raised an eyebrow.  Seriously, look at his face and tell me YOU wouldn’t have taken him and his future problems on:

He'll grow into the claw.

Oliver went to work with me at the chamber of commerce for about a month, causing a bunch of trouble with my boss and winning the hearts of most the business community. Cats learn a lot of things from their mothers. As Oli’s mom I taught him to eat, drink, bathe and play. Which explains a lot. Poor kid.

It turns out that Oli has no respiratory problems, other than a little inverted sneeze once in a while. And an interesting side note…Poco never had another emergency visit to the vet after he arrive. Not one in six and a half years. She might not have like him, but he was good for her.

– Obi –
When Poco was gone, I honestly had no intention of getting another cat. Then it happened. Oliver lost his mind. He started talking nonstop. He tried to sit on my feet…while I was walking. You couldn’t sit without him appearing in your lap. He wanted to be held CONSTANTLY. This isn’t such a big problem with a small cat. But Oli is 14 pounds. And long enough to hang from his front fingers in your belt loops. I realized he needed another cat before one of us got hurt.

My aunt has had great luck with multiple male cats. Contrary to what I’ve always thought, they become buddies instead of fighting for territory. I decided THIS is what Oli needed. And since he’s really just a BIG, and kind of middle-aged, kitten I decided to get a juvenile. Once the decision was made I couldn’t wait for Saturday to go to the shelter.

They opened at noon and I was there at 11:55 a.m. Evidently not getting the memo about my enthusiasm, ALL of the cats were still asleep. I wandered from cage to cage. And wandered. And wandered. There were a lot of older adult cats and orange tabbies from a hoarding rescue…it was heartbreaking to see them.

As I made lap fifty down the aisle, there was movement in a lower cage. A big bundle of fluff developed eyes. He blinked at me. Then he rolled over so his belly was against the glass. Already with the belly rubs! We touched paws for a couple of minutes and the decision was almost made.

In the “get acquainted” room, Obi walked out of the carrier, sniffed the caretaker’s shoes, rubbed up against my leg, and went for the toys. His file disclosed that he had been adopted once and returned for being mean and destructive. The shelter vet had described him as timid. I have only one explanation for this: Obi got to that other house and couldn’t find the brother he’d been promised. He did what he had to do to get back to the shelter so I could find him. Plus, his first owner named him Tiger and deserves every bite she got.

By the time The Boy, with whom I wasn’t living at the time, arrived the decision was made.

"Whoa. BIG brother."

Oliver was NOT happy about the new cat. Obi didn’t care. He was respectful, but tirelessly assertive. His attention was completely devoted to winning over the grey hissy thing.

Part of the adjustment was teaching Oliver to play. Poco had been told in no uncertain terms that she would NOT kill him when I brought him home. She took little interest in him. So Oli didn’t really know what to do. He’d bat at Obi and look confused. A “this feels like it should be fun, but I just hissed so maybe it’s not fun” look took up residence on his face. But Obi taught him. Oliver still hisses, but he loves it.

Obi also taught Oli how to play with the kazillion toys I’ve bought over the last decade. Those are the good moments. When Obi does something with a bobbly-thinga-majiggy and the light comes on for Oliver. “Oh! That’s what that’s for!”

So, that’s how my little lightning girl brought about my thunder boys. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Oh, and because he’s horribly neglected…here’s a picture of Zensai when he was a baby. This picture is about a month after I got him and he’d already doubled in size. He was irresistably cute as a baby as well.

"Lizard in size, dragon in attitude."

Birdseed Bauble Bumble

My buddies at the Desert Wind blog did some ice baubles as a craft with the kiddos when they had some snow days. She mentioned that their fun ice baubles, alas, would only survive a day or two. Since mine could conceivable last until April, I thought I would do this project myself. As the day went on, I thought about what I would do to make pretty baubles. Then it occured to me that birdseed would turn baubles into high quality OutTV!

See Desert Wind’s blog for the real instructions. But here are mine:

Step 1: Find birdseed and muffin pans at the grocery store. Of course these are on completely separate aisles. Unless you have a really awesome grocery store.

Step 2: Apologize to The Boy for laughing hysterically and pointing at him like he’s ridiculous when he suggests that perhaps you are going to bake muffins.

Step 3: Have Kitten Thunder examine the muffin pan.

"Do you know the muffin pan? The muffin pan? The muffin pan."

Step 4: Have Kitten Thunder examine the birdseed.

"Once we plant this, how long will it take the birds to sprout?"

Step 5: Have Kitten Thunder help shape wire to hold the baubles on the trees.

"Why're you bending the wire, Girl?"

Step 6: Try not to poke anyone’s eye out when a Thunder errupts in your lap.

"Down in front! You're in the way!"

Step 7: Finish this project quickly while Kittens are Thundering. Have it completed when they return for final inspection.

"This birdseed soup would be better without the wires."

Step 8: Wonder, briefly, if you can just blame Obi for the birdseed all over the floor. Feel proud of yourself as you sweep up the mess…like a real live grown up.

"Why is The Girl looking at me like that? Am I about to get in trouble?"

Step 9: Pick a cold day to remove your completed ice baubles. So…any day between October and April in Wyoming.

"Move over Martha, THIS is a good thing."

Step 10: Hang the baubles on branches on various channels of OutTV. Await the glory. And wait. And wait.

"On this very special episode of OutTV..."

Step 11: Wait some more. And some more. Finally, when the weather turns nice and the baubles melt, then crash to the ground, see the birds eat the scattered seed.

"Well...not what I had in mind, but okay."

Step 12: Take the rest of the birdseed and make a pile on the porch. Enjoy immediate gratification as the flocks of birds and a couple squirrels descend.

Where the deer and the antelope are on OutTV

We’ve got some fine crock pot action going in the kitchen. When we decided to make this beef crock pot recipe I asked The Boy if we should do mashed potatoes. I said “for a couple bucks we can get a tub or a box or however you want your mashed potatoes delivered.” He looked at me. He blinked. He blinked again. “How about making them, you know, from potatoes?”

So he’s in the kitchen, boiling and blending.

Because I once burned out the engine of a blender by attempting to mash raw Idaho potatoes, fresh from the potato patch, I am in my office. Blogging. Safely away from all appliances.

Today on OutTV, we had some special guests.

"Does anyone else feel like we're being watched?"

This group of pronghorn (antelope) live just outside the local Air Force base. There is a buck, his three girlfriends, and twin yearlings. With the deep snow covering the grass in their usual spot ON the onramp to the interstate, they’ve taken to wandering our neighborhood.

The jury is out about whether Obi saw them or if he was just excited that the people were watching OutTV with him. Oli was napping in the condo and saw nothing.

Futility can be fun!

Obi has a new game. Part of this game is making sure he stops playing it by the time I get out the camera, so I hope I can put the cuteness into words.

It starts with a perfectly adjusted window shade in The Boy’s office.

The setting for the new game. Note the more than sufficient window sill.

Obi sets up for the game with the proper amount of butt wriggling and thought. Then he leaps from the floor and grabs the doo-hickey (this is the official name for that piece of plastic at the end of the string; I looked it up, I swear) on the end of the string. Because he doesn’t have thumbs, he promptly falls back to the floor.

Most of the time he makes the effort to land on his feet. Most of the time.

Upon landing, Obi repeats the butt wriggle and jumps again. Over. And over. And over. And over. Clearly he is not actually interested in capturing the doo-hickey because he is completely aware of that window sill. He sits in it all the time to supervise our neighbors through their kitchen window. With Obi’s help Jeff has become an excellent dish washer.

As I said before, the game concludes when I re-enter the room with a powered up camera.  Rotten kid.

I’d rather have a UFO in the house…

It was mentioned, briefly, in another post that Oliver has been taking some medical leave lately. That’s because he has an FUO: Fever of Unknown Origin. It is driving me crazy.

In the middle of December, Oli was just not himself. He was spending all day upstairs, sleeping on the couch. He wasn’t coming to bed at night to snuggle. He was eating, but he wasn’t hounding me for breakfast in the morning. It was this last symptom that was sneaky – if one of my boys doesn’t eat we practically break out the sirens and rush them to the doctor. But he WAS eating.

After five days, though, I called the doctor. I explained his complete lack of anything tangible being wrong. To my surprise, they took this very seriously. I now know this is called ADR – Ain’t Doin’ Right – and an owners concern is enough for vets to know something is wrong. They made an appointment for me the next day. It was good…because the next morning Oliver was limping. I really, really, REALLY hate that limp.

The limp is because of a fever. Just like when you have the flu and you are all full of aches. He had a small fever, the doctor thought maybe he had an abscess from Kittens thundering, so she gave him a shot and we went home. The next day he was worse and we rushed back in. His fever was MUCH higher. There were a couple of theories but the most likely causes were all treated with antibiotics. So he received another shot and pills to take home. This did the trick.

We’ll interrupt this story to tell you that I had a complete breakdown at the doctor’s office. When they took Oli to the back I had two seconds to think about it and realized I was in the room where Poco was put to sleep last February. Visions of my dead cat floated in front of me. Tears. Me frantically trying not to break into tears. MORE tears from the frustration of not being able to stop the tears. Luckily, Dr. Tiff is a friend of mine and she gets what was going on. And still gets that I’ll be crying whenever she leaves me alone (turns out, any of their three exam rooms have the same effect).

Back to the story. Oli and I went home with his drugs and he was all better. For ten days. The day after he stopped his antibiotics, the fever was back. That stupid limp was back.

This time, Dr. Tiff spent a whole afternoon running tests to rule out causes for the fever. Some scary words were used…Felv…HIV…menigitis. Aaaaand nothing. He has nothing. All of his levels came back normal – and not just within the normal range but completely, utterly, not even on the high end of normal. He is my perfect little bunny-boy, just with a fever. So we went home with antibiotics and a steroid and he had a couple of shots of stuff for the pain.

It did the trick. For ten days. Enter the limp.

Since there’s nothing left to test for, we no longer go to the doctor’s office. Dr. Tiff and I consulted over the phone. “Lets just get extreme,” I said. “How about three months of steroids?” Being a doctor, she’s a little bit more sensible than that, but we did set up a program of more antibiotics and a stepped down program for steroids. It worked. For 18 days.

Last Thursday the limp was back. I tortured Oliver with a thermometer and confirmed his temperature, while not yet feverish, was climbing. We had a major conference for work this week so I called an asked for more antibiotics – I just didn’t have time for him to be sick. We also didn’t step him down on the steroids.

Today is his last day of antibiotics. He’s so playful right now. I’m pretty sure the steroid make him feel like Superman. But tomorrow he’ll only take one pill. Will the limp – that stupid, hateful limp – be back?

So, this post isn’t funny at all. To make up for that, how about a cute picture? Oliver loves to be in the linen closet. At my old house, the linen closet door was pretty much never closed. Here, The Boy doesn’t really like have his sheets pre-haired. But…when The Girl’s baby is sick, and Oliver swears that only laying in the linen closet will make him feel better, well…the door gets opened while The Boy is downstairs watching TV. The Boy, being the good guy that he is, didn’t complain.

"The only reliable treatment for fever is a dark closet and a clean sheet."

Cuddle Thunder!

"A brother is better than a Snuggie."

 I annoy Kitten Thunder with all my picture taking. But they are so cute when they are laying together in the kitty condo.

"How many pictures of this can you take?"

 I’m sure they wonder how long I’ll take pictures of them laying together. The answer? Until it stops being cute. So…like…never.

"Hey, Obi, dig your elbow into that knot in my shoulder."

 Oliver doesn’t care if Obi lies on top of him. He’s four pounds heavier and bigger, so it always works best if he is already in the condo when Obi gets there. He’ll move if he feels like it to make room next to him. Or he won’t.

"Oliver, I want to wrestle. Wait, is that a SQUIRREL!?!"

 This was Obi standing over Oli, yanking on his scruff trying to get Oliver to thunder. Then a squirrel ran by on the garage.

" this going in the blog?"

 As you can see, they are loving having their picture taken. Again.

"I love watching OutTV with you, bro."

 Oliver was napping with his arm up over Obi. Then a squirrel ran by.

"Seriously, enough with the pictures. We're adorable. We get it. Our readers get it. Put the camera down and walk away."

Can’t…help…taking…pictures. Too…cute…for…words.

The Boy, by the way, is just as guilty. It proves a couple of things:
     1. Kitten Thunder is the ultimate team of cuteness.
     2. The Boy is super dedicated to helping me with this project.
     3. I have excellent taste in cats AND boys.