Friday, October 2, 2020

Carry On Our Wayward Cat


If you've read the previous post, you'll know we're trying to bring a stray cat we've named 'Grendel' into our household. A lot has happened since my last blog. 
He got a bad infection in his leg. He came to our house very much later than usual, and when he did, he could not walk  He looked like a three-legged cat, and we made a decision. 
We shut him in, and made him an appointment for the vet. He was so tired and so sick, he didn't bother fighting us.  He just hobbled downstairs to sleep. 
As the night wore on, he growled, he pleaded, he lost the energy to argue. We did not let him out. The next day, I picked him up, intimidated by his terrible, monster growl-it's truly scary-But....He's all bark, no scratching or biting. I spent less than thirty seconds tucking him into a cat carrier. He didn't know what it was. He knew it seemed bad, but he didn't know how to fight it. Plus one leg didn't work right.
The vet gave him a shot of antibiotics, and he spent the next four days indoors with us. (Apparently, he's about two years old, and they gave him the birthdate of September 15, 2018.) That meant lots of love, lots of food and nip. Still he yowled and scratched at the door. Not wanting to stress him out, we released him after he stopped limping. 

He didn't show up for a day and a half. I was relieved it was only that long. I expected him to disappear for three or four days and it felt like it. But he returned, and now we have a new half established routine.

I feel like I live with a teenager. Grendel stays out all night, coming home to eat like a horse before passing out in the basement. He wakes in the afternoon, wolfs his breakfast/lunch/whatever and disappears. I told my Mom about it and she was blunt. "Donna--That's payback." I cracked the hell up, but wow...I suddenly feel mighty bad for my mother. He stresses me out a bit.

But as I sit typing this, my heart sings. Grendel rests on the floor by my side. It gives me so much pleasure to watch him play with a honeysuckle stick. It makes me so happy to make him feel safe. It feels like love. And maybe he loves us enough to stay. 

He just left to sleep the morning away downstairs. Typical teenager.

Edit: Yes, we still plan to get him fixed. He seems to know it too. His appearances have become random and unpredictable.

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Cat Who Devours

It's an odd thing courting a stray cat. Spartacus was so easy. I asked him to come inside and he did. This time I'm learning patience. Here's the story so far. This is the short version.

My husband likes to leave Freya's leftovers outside for any creature who needs it--birds, cats, whatever. He just leaves the dish under the patio table and in the morning, it's always gone. 

In the last week of July, we began to notice a black cat always came. As he became bolder, Dan got a good look at him. He was thin and had no collar, and was always hungry, so we made it a nightly thing to leave food out. 

I talked to our neighbors. Ladonna said he lived at the end of her street. Joyce said he lived across the street from us, in the green house three doors down. Hmmmm...Still we left food out. He seemed to need it.

One day, I was about to water the garden and when I opened the door, the black cat was standing on the porch. He looked eager and gave me a quiet little meow. So of course I went back inside and filled a plate for him. He must have been a bit desperate, because he had to pass Freya to get to our door. For her part, Freya didn't pay him much mind. Later that night, we had the screen door open, and he jumped right inside and asked again. 

If this cat belongs to someone, they can't be feeding him very well. He's skinny and devours everything we give him. He started searching around the house for more, so we gave him seconds. Now we leave the screen door open, and he just comes inside and explores the house while we fix him a dish of kibble and wet food mixed. 

We try not to get our hopes up. Maybe he DOES belong to someone. But like I said, he's skinny, scruffy,  dirty, scratched up,always super hungry and when he lifted his tail, we discovered he's an unfixed male. 

So we've named him. At first, I wanted to name him Hades. My husband wanted to name him Imhotep, or maybe Apophis. (Huge Stargate fan.) We had a small list going. I thought about his appetite, and watched him skulk out of our house in the dark, and it hit me. Grendel. Yes! He's the devourer who hunts in the dark and only comes inside to EAT. Dan reminds me that Grendel was an ugly beast. I remind him that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Grendel had a mother who loved him. (I'd like to be his Mom. I'm beast enough.)

I worried out loud on Facebook. My yard doesn't have many good places for a cat to hide from the weather. Someone suggested I make one from a Rubbermaid bin. I can tell you from experience, that doesn't work. After you cut any part of the plastic, it begins to rip, creating jagged edges, and it continues to rip, even after you tape it back up. Cold weather makes it snap into shards at the slightest touch. It's not that important to the story, but yeah, don't use a Rubbermaid bin for a homemade cat shelter. Anyway, we improvised. 

We have a shed. There's nothing valuable in it, just tomato cages, old pots and bits and pieces that should be tossed. We left the doors slightly ajar--just wide enough for a cat to sneak into. It's good because it retains warmth and it's a good wind break.

It worked! Dan told me yesterday that he saw Grendel peeking at him from the shed doors and Grendel came out to greet him. I checked for myself today, and sure enough, Grendel came out to greet me too. He lay down on the sidewalk and let me pet him a little bit. Then he followed me inside the house for a snack. 

I'm excited for the weirdest reason. After this last feeding, he roamed the house again, BUT this time, he used the upstairs litter box. Yay! What a wacky thing to be excited about. Now I understand what the big deal is for parents.

We're trying to give him space. He's already made it clear he's not ready to stay inside with us. We think that might change once it gets cold, there's still time. He and Freya seem to be okay. There's no growling or hissing. Once we can get him inside, and once he's comfortable, we'll get him to a vet and check for a microchip. He'll need shots. Eventually he'll have to get fixed. My worry now is that he'll get a cat pregnant, and we'll be on the hook for it even though he's not our cat yet. 

So, wish us luck. We promised ourselves that we would help a cat in need if ever another one came to us, and so we have. Whatever happens, we'll do what is best for Grendel. Not just in memory of Spartacus Jones, but because it's the right thing to do. We promise.

Sorry for the odd photo placement. I'm learning how to use Google Photos and Blogger changed too.

While you're here, check out Donna Milward, Author on Facebook and look for my contest.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Happy Birthday Spartacus

A good friend has asked when I would write another blog. What would I blog about? I already did one about the Pandemic and isolation. Nothing interesting about that, really. I'm doing some renovations. Nothing fancy.

Black Lives Matter? You know I'm onboard. You also know that I'm a white female, and my opinion is not required. I'm quietly relearning history and opening my eyes to some ugly truths that have been going on for hundreds of years. I'm pissed off, but now is not the time to vent. Now is the time to listen and read up.

Still writing and editing. Nothing is new.

But on the first of July, I got triggered somehow. I realized that on August first, Spartacus Jones would have been 8 years old.  I cried for three days. That's tomorrow now, and it still hurts. We lost him six months ago.

I'm reluctant to talk about my pain, especially in times like these. People everywhere are scared. They're losing loved ones and life seems a little crueler than usual. One of my friends asked for prayers for her mother in surgery. Another fears for her terminally ill father, and we pray for her son, who keeps running away. Another of my hometown friends is planning her son's funeral.

This year has been particularly ugly, and I don't want to make light of the pain of others.
But today, I'd like to write about Spartacus Jones. We still love him, and miss him everyday. If he were alive, I would be planning his tuna breakfast. I would give him new toys. I'd give him a new bag of catnip, and a half roll of paper towel to destroy. Then I'd get it on video.

As many know, I believe in the paranormal. I've seen and experienced some very strange things in my lifetime.

Here's a secret: Weeks after Spartacus' death, I was sitting on my couch, crying. I held his box of ashes in the crook of my arm, wishing desperately that I could hug his soft fur instead of sharp cardboard corners. I remember thinking, God, I miss you, Sweet Boy.

I felt a presence. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of pure love and gratitude. It enveloped me. I asked out loud, "Is that you, Baby?" and the feeling grew stronger. I told him we missed him, and we would always love him. I cried and kissed the box. I worried that I would never feel his presence ever again, and I think I'm right. Because although I heard no words, the feeling I got was 'goodbye'. So much love and happiness, so thankful for the life he had with us, but he wanted to rest. Spartacus Jones just wanted to sleep. Then the presence faded away.

I don't feel him, I don't dream about him, and I've never had another experience. But I won't ever forget him, or stop loving him. I know I have to get over him, but it's not that easy. He had a profound effect on our lives.

So tomorrow, Freya will get tuna for breakfast in honor of her brothers. (We lost Sully on this day about seven years ago.) We will continue putting cat food out at night for any strays who need it. We will continue to keep our eyes open for animals who need help. We will wait and see if the universe delivers us another soul in need of a home.

We want another cat in our house, but we wait.  We wait because some day another cat might need to come in from the weather again. And we'll be here with open arms.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Becoming an Introvert

This playground is actually roped off right now.
I actually consider myself an ambivert. I like a good party, dinner and drinks with friends, working in a team environment. I also enjoy my own company. I can be stingy with my time, especially if I'm writing.

My husband and I spent a lot of time at home even before the pandemic, and today is just like any other day of the week. I've been making jokes for years that I'll be a hermit in my old age.

Guess what? It's already happening.

On social media I see people clamoring to end the isolation. When I have to go out, everyone keeps a necessary, painfully formal distance in all things. It's exhausting and I count the minutes until I can go home. I am an ambivert, but I never really thought I'd see the day where I'd scramble to hide from the public. So many people are fighting to come out of isolation. Surely I'm not the only one in retreat? I'm not afraid, just embarrassed to be out and about, like I'm being a jerk.

And here's something else I just realized. I like the mask. I've said I wear the mask to protect others in case I am a carrier, and that is absolutely true. I couldn't bear it if someone got sick because of me. But I like the mask for the same reason I like the city. The anonymity. I like moving through the aisles knowing that I'm not offending or contaminating anyone by breathing on them. I like that no one can see my face or my facial expressions. Like somehow I'm safer from scrutiny. I've never been comfortable with my looks, and wearing a mask lets me not even think about it. No one can judge me behind my hair, glasses and mask. Isn't that silly?

I think I want to stay here.

I can't be the only one who feels this way. Is there anyone else who would rather stay inside? Or am I going agoraphobic?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Earth to Thoeba: Isolation Dreams

Earth to Thoeba: Isolation Dreams: Photo by: Read 01 I'm having weird stress dreams. It started with a waitressing dream, which is a common one for me. I waitressed fo...

Isolation Dreams

Photo by: Read 01
I'm having weird stress dreams. It started with a waitressing dream, which is a common one for me. I waitressed for six years, and it was over twenty five years ago, but when my subconscious wants to screw with me, that's where we go.

It started the same as usual. I'm working alone in a large restaurant when the place fills up with customers. (It happened to me once in real life, but to this day, it's a blur.)  But unlike most waitressing dreams, I keep my head. I formulate a plan, and go about my tasks methodically, with some success.

That is, until customers start to get nasty and strange. One woman stops me so she can berate my appearance. She tells me I look 'slovenly' and 'disgusting'. She then starts plucking Freya fur off my uniform and uses it to decorate her eyelashes and eyebrows. "See?" she snaps. "Like this. Take some pride in yourself for God's sakes."

Before I can reply, another customer directs my attention to a couple of disruptive addicts. They're high as kites and crawling around under the tables pretending they're babies. One of them is Bobcat Goldthwait. I'm told that he and his girlfriend met at a tractor pull. Um....Where are my bouncers? I realize I'm at Patty's in Red Deer, and it's the graveyard shift. We always have bouncers on graveyards. Where are the bouncers? I wake sweaty and relieved that I no longer waitress. ESPECIALLY on graveyards at Patty's.
Bobcat Goldthwait, Police Academy

Just the other day, I dreamed I was in a huge shop that sold EVERY flavor of ice cream in the world. It was wall to wall self serve dispensers, like soft serve. Cotton Candy? My favorite, but I want to be adventurous. Root Beer Float? Second favorite, but I crave something new. Squid ink? Okay, maybe not that adventurous.

What I REALLY want is Salmon flavored. I search for it, but there's no rhyme or reason to the system. I'm walking through miles of aisles and it's starting to piss me off. I REALLY want Salmon ice cream, dammit! Oh shit...I'm lost. How do I get out of this shop? I wake up sweaty, and I think this dream represents my craving for sashimi. God, I love sashimi more than any food in the world. Like silk on my tongue...

The next night, I dream that I work there. Even in the dream, I'm wondering why the Hell am I working in an ice cream shop? I've had enough of Food Industry jobs! But in the dream, I shrug it off. In these uncertain times, I must need the extra pay. Besides, they want me to create a tomato sorbet, and that sounds like fun. Start with vine-ripened tomatoes, maybe add a few heirlooms, like Purple Cherokee...and some basil for extra sweetness. Would garlic still work? Is there such a thing as Garlic Ice Cream?

Then it occurs to me...Is that Fucking Tomato here somewhere? The one with the Bostonian accent? I'd like to grind that bastard into the sorbet--him and his ugly carrot buddy. Then again, what if he shows up while I'm throwing his peeled tomato friends into a blender? I panic and wake up.

My dreams appear to be getting weirder, and I wasn't sure that was possible. However, it did remind me that I don't think I ever told you about my anthology project.

I guess I didn't because it's largely on the backburner. Lately I've had more time to work on it, and I've also developed new material. I've often said many of my book ideas come from dreams. Thoeba was the first, but all of my books have some root in something I've literally dreamed up. I have stories, drabbles and other flash fiction that showcase ideas that don't fit into my angel and demon/ mythology/ reincarnation brand.

Here's what you can expect: I've been a treeplanter who meets an Elemental. I've been an senior center worker who gets kidnapped by fairies. I've been exterminated. I've screamed from mountaintops about being an independently published author. I've met a shadow person. (Every bit as terrifying as they say.) All this and more from my warped subconscious.

I have a story named 'A Town Called Grey'. I tried writing it when I was fifteen, and my mother loved what I'd started. Right now it's too long, but still vague. It might not make the cut, but I'll finish it for my mom. No, I don't think it should be a novel. It might make a good Outer Limits episode.

I'm still working on it, but I can tell you about it now because it's actually coming together. How soon? I don't know. I'm just going to keep writing. So wish me luck, and I hope you enjoyed a silly blog after the last two sad ones.

And for the record--I've dreamed of Spartacus once. Last time I saw him in dreams, he was hairless, and I kissed the Hell out of him. We really miss that sweet boy.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Thank you.

This was a week after he got here.
I want something to do with my heart. I need to find a way to lift it, spice it....something. I can't handle the bleakness of grief. I can't handle the short journey from my porch through my door, because there is no Spartacus Jones waiting for me. It's the worst part of my day. So, I'm writing another grief blog. I've said so much, but I feel like I haven't said enough.

By the way, thanks for ignoring my punctuation, grammar, sentence structure and  other screw ups a writer knows better than to publish. I've been told my words were beautiful but they are the ramblings of a half-plastered cat lady that didn't know how else to express herself.

Honestly? This hurts every bit as bad as losing my father. Yes, really. It's a different kind of pain, but it's still monstrously painful.

There are two kinds of people in this world. There are pet owners and generally kind people who, upon hearing of the death of anyone's pet will express meaningful, empathetic or at least sympathetic condolences. Then there are the others. The ones whose eyes will glaze over as they excuse themselves from the irritation and discomfort of a grieving pet owner. It's just a cat. 
This was the day he arrived.

But eventually, everyone will tire of it. They have lives to live, and while this is all very sad, it's not their shit to hold.

So right now, I'm avoiding humans. Everyone. First, I'd like to thank all of you in my real world and the world of social media for all the sweet messages. I often wonder why I write whiny blogs and post them on all my social media accounts, but I think I understand why I do it.

Right before I leave my garage, right before I take the short walk to my back door, I sit in my vehicle and cry. I shriek, I howl, I sob and let rivers of tears and snot drip down my face. I scream as loud as I can, inside the SUV. Then I straighten up, lock up, and check my mail. I unlock my back door, and feed Freya.

This blog, and the one before it, are the writer's version of screaming into silence. I can be truthful with myself in that I announced the death of Spartacus Jones on social media and wrote the blog for attention. My heart broke, and the world continued without him.
It's my scream in the garage, but I needed you to care. I'm a little ashamed to admit, I needed all your likes, hearts, sad icons and comments. Dan and I feel somewhat isolated right now, and I drank your comments and icons up. Now I know why they call it 'Thirsty'. Still doesn't stop me from doing it.

It's like, "I don't want to see or talk to anyone, but I still need you to comfort me." Weird, eh?  But whatever. It's working.

It actually helps.I may look like a crazy cat lady and a fool, but I know I needed this. So I just wanted to say Thank You.