How Our Cats Became Friends

SPOILER ALERT: The cats are friends.

So the first full day that Matt and I spent at work after agreeing to foster the cats, we locked Marbles in the office for the day with his food, water, litterbox and toys. Maggie was staying out of everyone’s way so we left her sitting on the couch. Murphy was still really displeased with this new annoying cat that followed him around, so every time he walked by the office he’d hiss and spit and paw at the door, while Marbles meowed and meowed and meowed.

We came home at the end of the day to find the office door open and all three cats loose in the house. It’s an accordion door, so Marbles must have managed to push on it hard enough to not only get it open, but move the chair we had put in front of it to stop him from doing exactly that. Lucky for us, his jailbreak worked out for the best, as the cats were getting along slightly better after spending the day running loose.

After a week together, here’s where things stand:

Marbles has claimed Murphy’s scratching post, his pride and joy, as his very own special place. This means that when Marbles scratches it, Murphy pounces on him, kicks him off, then scratches it himself. Then Marbles pounces on Murphy, and they end up tussling up and down the stairs, all around the house, until one of them gets too tired and gives up. For the most part, Marbles sleeps on the base of the post to guard it.

Murphy establishes that he’s still better than Marbles by flaunting the fact that he’s allowed to go outside and Marbles and Maggie aren’t.

Maggie still stays out of the way, although we’ve discovered that she will play with a few things — tinfoil balls and hair elastics. She is definitely a personal bubble kitty and will swat at either cat if they get all up in her space. She, out of the three of them, loves people the most and having recently discovered the concept of bedtime, will sit on the bed and plead with us to lie down and snuggle with her.

Marbles gave us a scare yesterday when we thought he escaped out the door while I was decorating for Halloween. I was so worried and upset and stayed at home in case he came back. I heard a thump from the bathroom and guess who came sauntering out, having jumped up on a cabinet to sleep despite multiple treat bag shakes and three people searching for him?

This guy. He also plays the ‘if I can’t see you you can’t see me’ game behind the curtains, as you can see.

We’re going to get them fixed this Wednesday (thanks for being so expensive, kitties!) and we officially adopted them last Thursday. I’m still always thinking so many cats, especially now that they’re content to sometimes share a space like the couches, or, shockingly, the bed, and they eat so much damn food and we always have to clean the litterboxes and sweep and vacuum and fill the water bowl but hey, they’re our friends now, too.

How We Ended up with Three Cats

(I feel like this post will be best if you click play on the following video before you continue reading.)

A few days ago Matt and I checked out one of the community message boards and saw a poster explaining that all of the kitties and the one lone dog at the municipal shelter were going to be euthanized at the end of October if they weren’t fostered over a certain period of time. We had been talking about getting another cat, and although I was reluctant, we figured we could at least foster one during the ‘danger time’ and return it to the shelter if things didn’t work out.

We went down to the pound yesterday just to look at the kitties, one that Matt liked in particular. As soon as we walked in a little black kitty came right up to me and made herself comfortable, while Matt spent some quality time with his kitty of choice. We found out that the pound is being closed indefinitely so the kitties will all be put down if they aren’t adopted (the dog is being fostered and will hopefully have a permanent home before the cutoff date) and they can’t really be returned after the start of November.

The two that we were making friends with were basically the best of the bunch. Marbles, the boy Matt was interested in, wasn’t old enough to be spraying yet unlike the rest of the males, and Maggie, the girl who was loving on me, was really relaxed and calm.

That’s how we ended up with two kitties in the back seat. Whoops. We stopped quickly at the grocery store to pick up some more cat food, another litter box, and more litter, kitties mewling away in their carriers the whole time. I was really, really nervous about how Murphy would react to not one, but two cats in his house.

Cue disaster. Murphy does not like other cats, not one bit. Maggie is shy and timid so she’s found herself a nice spot on the couch and hides away, although she’s incredibly affectionate toward me and will climb in my lap at any opportunity. Murphy doesn’t really care about her, unless she gets too close to him.

Marbles was described by the shelter as ‘clown-like’ — what that really means is that he is not a very smart cat. He meows and meows and meows and meows and cannot figure out why Murphy doesn’t want to play with him. We’ve had to lock him in the office for now, with food and water and a litterbox and toys, while Murphy hisses at the door and Marbles meows and meows and meows. I don’t know who I feel worse for, angry Murphy or lonely Marbles.

I’m really hoping Murphy and Marbles work out their differences soon, because Murphy is unhappy, Marbles just wants to play, and we have to figure out where every kitty is at every second to avoid big hissing, spitting, angry meowing scenes.

We’ve decided that we can’t, in good faith, return either new kitty to the pound knowing they will get put down, so it looks like we’re keeping them and getting them fixed. I’m confident that Maggie can become a part of the family because she’s not interested in challenging Murphy, but I’m not so sure about Marbles. We’re going to give him a chance to try and integrate, and if he doesn’t, we’re going to find him a home ourselves, which will hopefully be easier with him fixed. Getting him fixed might calm him down a bit, too.

I wish the shelter had better funding or could sort out whatever issues lead to them putting all the animals they have down every few months, and I wish people would spay and neuter their pets so animals wouldn’t end up in shelters and pounds in the first place.

Everything at the house is kind of insane right now and I feel like I’m saying, “Those damn kitties are stressing me out” every three seconds, so please cross your fingers that all the damn kitties can be friends soon.

Life’s a Beach

I have to be honest and admit that last weekend, when we were supposed to be packing and cleaning, we went to the beach. Twice.

In our defense, it’s sort of proving impossible to pack this early. I need all the bathroom things, and most of the kitchen things, and the bedroom things, and the closet things. The office is a work in progress and the living room is fairly empty, and the storage room is coming along in bits and pieces.

So on Saturday, after each filling two bins, Matt and I headed to the town beach, then out for drinks with a few friends. We made plans to hit up our favourite beach the following day– it’s a bit further out of town, partway to one of the closest First Nations communities in the area, and it’s amazing.

This is a huge beach for around here. The water is warm, even for Matt, who is a cold water wimp, and usually, the ground is sandy, not rocky or weedy. Unfortunately, lots of other people had the same idea as us thanks to the plus-30 temperatures, so we didn’t get our favourite spot and were stuck in the grungier area of the sand.

Before we left town, Matt and I searched every store for floaties, hoping to find a tube or raft or something to lie on in the water. The only selection was a literal handful of sad, knock-off, skinny pool noodles, which we bought anyway for lack of a better option.

Unless one of us makes it out to the city this week I think we’re going to have to invest in more sad pool noodles because despite their lack of bouyancy, the boys had a blast in the water, hitting each other with the noodles, spraying water out of the noodles, making dirty jokes with the noodles… Matt only came out once, to grab me and force me back in after I complained about overheating in the sun.

Kat and Bob’s dog Chance (AKA Little Dog) has a tendency to chase after anything and everything so they brought a leash this time. He was standing in the shallow part of the lake whining at us so we let him go, and he swam in circles, brave enough to swim out to meet us but not brave enough to stick around. He then proceeded to dig a giant hole in the sand in an attempt to warm up.

I tried to chase Matt into the water, still in the shallow part with a towel wrapped around me, when I fell directly into a hole Bob dug in the lake and face-planted, towel and all. Refreshing.

Our temperatures are hovering in the plus-30s still, and the humidex is even higher. The forest fires in the North have become even worse, with nearly all of the communities evacuated or on notice. The smoke is heavy, even here, and apparently it’s reaching as far as the East coast. At home, we’re stuck between opening the windows for some heat relief at night, or keeping them closed to keep out the smoke as much as possible. Matt and I are both battling headaches and I’ve noticed my eyes and throat feel scratchy. I can’t imagine how bad it is closer to the flames.

That being said, I’m guessing that this weekend, our last before moving, we’re going to… go to the beach and not pack.


Remembrances of Uncle Dickie

I am really, really bad at remembering important dates. Birthdays, maybe. Anniversaries, barely. I’m always startled every time I realize that x number of years ago, a loved one passed away. Today, five years ago, we said goodbye to my Uncle Dickie.

The best way for me to sum it up is to share something I wrote five years ago, three days after he died, the day before his funeral, tossing and turning on the blankets in my grandmother’s basement.

To be honest, it is only in the last ten years that my uncle has truly become my uncle. He was always a family member, yes, but in the past decade he turned his life around so much that he became a real influence in mine. We’d get so excited to see Uncle Dickie at Christmas or Thanksgiving, with the tissue paper crowns falling down over his eyes because he always got the big one and Dad got the little one, but they’d never trade. He came to Florida, with Michelle, and spent the whole week making us laugh so hard we couldn’t breathe. He’d always sit in the living room with us kids, telling jokes and trading stories, furthering his no-eating-vegetables causes, being the uncle we loved and cherished. I have so many memories running through my mind– trips to Disney, ball games, fishing trips, shopping, car rides, laughter– but I cannot single them all out, because if I catalogued every great thing my uncle did, I would never stop typing.

Last Thanksgiving we were driving to my grandmother’s house. I go to school not far from where he and Michelle lived, and on the car ride there he was talking about tests he was having done. It was then that they told me he was sick, this time with cancer. Not three months later he was in the hospital, skinny and sick from the chemo but fighting as hard as he could. He pulled through, and though he didn’t look like himself, as soon as he opened his mouth it was as if nothing had changed. The last time I saw him was halfway through February, before I went to Mexico. He was stuck at home on bedrest, and had been watching the Olympics for a week straight. Between that, his new guitar and his penchant for teasing my grandmother, he seemed content with the way things were.

This Tuesday, we gathered in the ICU at McMaster Hospital. He could no longer breathe on his own, and they feared if he stayed intubated much longer he’d have a heart attack. I had flown down the night before, running on emotion and coffee, and 35 hours of being awake. Us nieces stood around his hospital bed, and while there were tears at first, we were soon bantering back and forth, the way he would’ve been encouraging had he been able to talk. After a few hours at the hospital it was time to say goodbye for good– they pulled the tubes and it was only a matter of time before his body would shut down, finally giving him the rest and freedom he deserved for most of his life.

Watching someone die is not something I wish upon anyone. As we stood around him, his breathing slowed. Looking around me I saw people, young and old, struggling to say goodbye to someone who never even made it to 45, someone who we never expected would finally succumb to what had been killing him since day one. While we all knew that he’d go eventually, it just seemed that any time I pictured the future, Dickie was there. It’s hard to fathom that he will never see his nieces get married. Luckily, he lived to have a great-niece, a wife, a house and two dogs, a loving family and his pink Harley. His time with us was up, and we’re pretty sure it’s because someone has to teach Granny how to play Texas Hold’em in heaven. Although it’s so hard to send him off from here, tomorrow he’ll go knowing that he’s left a legacy behind. I will never see a Harley without seeing Dickie. I will never see the Magic Kingdom without seeing him sauntering down Main Street, blatantly ignoring the parade blockades. Christmas will not go by without beating up Santa, and I can only hope that he’s proud of us for playing Metallica at his wake.

And a poem.

By Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

I feel heavy-hearted, but at the same time, a tiny bit of joy– yesterday, I drove a motorcycle for the first time, and even though at one point I threw the helmet down and burst into tears, I eventually got back on the bike and rode it by myself, with Matt running beside me in case I fell over, and huge grins on both of our faces. I think Dickie would be proud, and it’s somehow fitting that yesterday was my first ride.

(Matt took this picture– astute viewers will note that the kickstand is down and I’m in fact completely stationary in this photo [and grumpy].)

Snow and the Supermoon

Snowy Tree

My dad emailed me at about 6 p.m. on Saturday the 19th, letting me know about the supermoon that was supposed to be in the sky that evening. An avid weather-watcher, he suggested we probably wouldn’t be able to see it thanks to our cloud cover, but gave us a heads up anyway.

Our living room curtains are usually drawn because we don’t have a blind and the window faces the street– anyone could see anything in our house if we didn’t keep the curtains shut. So when we stepped outside after darkness fell, I was truly shocked to see the amount of snow that showed up over the span of a few hours.

I knew it wouldn’t be clear enough to see the moon, no matter how large it was supposed to be, but the giant snowflakes turning everything white was a surprise. So much for rain boots.

As soon as we started walking I told Matt I wanted to go to my favourite tree to take pictures. It’s this huge, spindly mass of branches right near a street light and every time we go for a walk, I notice how lovely it looks at night.

On the way back I played around a bit with my shutter speed and the rapidly accumulating snowflakes on the lens for some abstract results.

I guess this is what the first day of spring looks like here!

On a negative note, until the weather figures out what it’s doing, I think I’m going to have to lay off of my initial attempts at C25K– the slush and snow is ridiculous for running, and I don’t want to pay for a gym membership. Once everything clears up I won’t have to worry about sliding all over the place. In the meantime, it’s back to indoor cardio.

Looks like I’ll be waiting till November 14, 2016 to see that supermoon.