Blog post #33 – June 25, 2017 Little Surprises

Good morning, Cuddlers!

This week my cats kept me laughing for all of their little, silly moments. Otis was playing with one of the toy mice that Abby usually plays with. Did he learn something from his little sister? Striker initiated a game of tag with Reggie and Abby, which hasn’t happened in a long time. One day this week, Reggie came back into the apartment on his own after playing in the hall. I thought for sure that was a joke…Reggie never comes back on his own. And, I kept catching all of the cats in sleeping positions or sleeping places they don’t normally sleep. I found myself repeating the phrase, “You guys are cracking me up!”

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Reggie, what are you doing to Otis! HAHA!
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Reggie and Striker love sleeping on the warm towels. How can I put the linens away now?
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Abby hasn’t slept on the purple chair in months. This is a usual spot for Otis – you can see by the white cat hair.
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Otis was sleeping up next to the window. He was snoring and looked so relaxed.

Sometime in the middle of the week – perhaps in light of the Summer Solstice – I was a little more aware of the little surprises in my own life. I guess the biggest surprise (which wasn’t little at all) was my mixed emotions on the last day of school. I have a new teaching job for the fall, and after 15 years at John Hope HS, I was leaving the building for the last time. I’m excited for the new adventure, but was caught in a mix of strange emotions from 15 years of memories.

Again, as the cats kept surprising me, I was taking note of the list of little surprises in my week. The strangest little surprise was a $25 check from a physical therapist’s office from an overpayment on my last PT appointment. Okay, maybe not such a little surprise, but this appointment was two years ago! In the six months that followed my 7 sessions of PT, I had to resolve a few things with the insurance company about a miscoded PT appointment (which was an error on their part). Well, that was FINALLY resolved which is why I received the $25 check. So, maybe that should fall under the category of “bizarre surprises.”

As I’m writing this I can’t help but notice Abby snoring and looking so peaceful. She is recovering from an ear infection and she seems to be 100% better. It’s nice to see her looking so peaceful and happy. This was another one of my little surprises, Abby feeling and acting better. I hope we all have a week of “little surprises!” All good surprises, of course.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #32 – June 18, 2017 Being Still

Good morning, Cuddlers!

I first wanted to wish all of the fathers, uncles, grandfathers, step-fathers, and fur-fathers a Happy Father’s Day! I hope today is a day where fathers are honored and have moments of relaxation.

This past week the idea of “being still” kept coming to mind. Reggie made me think of this early in the week. Sometimes Abby and Reggie will go on the stairs for a quick run up and down a flight. Occasionally, I’ll take Reggie on a “walk” up about five or six flights to give him more exercise and some quality time with me. He gets a small bite of a treat when he runs up each flight, so he’s come to love hanging out on the stairs.

Throughout the week I noticed all the cats in their moments of chillin’ and being quite comfortable with being still for a long period of time. I saw an adorable dog the other day stalking a squirrel. I watched this dog look like a statue for several minutes. He was all set on staring down that squirrel for as long as it took. (I wish I had a picture.)

Then, once again, I was reflecting on my time at the Bear River Writers’ Conference at Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake (check out last week’s blog). There are many reasons that I love Bear River, but one of the reasons that I think many of the participants love our time is our chance to be still. Being in nature, among fellow writers, and away from our busy lives allows us a few days to be still with our thoughts and our writing.

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Looking out onto Walloon Lake from the Education Center at Camp Michigania. (Bear River Writers’ Conference 2017)

It was a somewhat crazy week for me as the end-of-year “stress” piled up; graduation, finals, finishing grades, cleaning and packing up the classroom, and the like. I finally realized that I needed to find moments in my day to be still. Whether it’s sitting down to reminisce about Bear River, or watching Reggie sit on the stairs for five minutes, it was so helpful to me to do something as simple as being still for a few moments. I hope we are all able to find a moment or two to “be still” and appreciate the world around us, as well as, the world within us. Now, if I could only figure out what Reggie is thinking when he’s sitting still!

Enjoy the cuddle!

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Reggie hanging out on the stairs of my building.
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Otis sitting in my spot on the couch.
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Striker loves sitting on the window.
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Abby takes over the window when Striker jumps down.

Blog post #30 – May 28, 2017 Happy Memorial Day

Blog post #30 – May 28, 2017

Happy Memorial Day

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Allow me to say thank you and to take a minute to honor our nation’s military and our nation’s heroes. I’m especially honored to have my father, grandfather, and several aunts and uncles who served in the US military or served in war. I can’t thank my relatives enough for their service. I do think of them often, especially at times like Memorial Day.

While I don’t know any service dogs, I love seeing reports of the service dogs that served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Yes, I do get a little teary-eyed, but the stories of the soldier who are reunited with their service dogs are so touching. It’s so touching to see that the dogs are honored for their service. It also makes me want to learn a bit more about what they do while serving in the armed forces.

As a child, I also remember Memorial Day weekend as including a day when my mom was glued to the TV to watch the Indy 500. If we tried to ask her a question or tell her something that wasn’t even possible. We learned to not bother mom or join in on watching the race. As I got older, Memorial Day Weekend involved spending the weekend with my grandparents and still enjoying the Indy 500.

My cats may have moments of running around the apartment looking like the Indy cars racing around the track. As long as there are no big crashes, I’m okay with that. “Doggies and kitties…start your engines!”

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Striker relaxing and purring.

Next weekend I’ll be at a writing conference in Michigan. I’ll take next Sunday off from the blog and will return on June 11th. I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day Weekend.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #29 – May 21, 2017 Taking Care

 

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Earlier this week I was called upon to take care of my aunt’s 14-year old Persian cat. My aunt had to go in the hospital, and needed me to take her cat for a while. I told my four kitties that we would have a visitor for, and they needed to be nice. Otis, Reggie, Striker and Abby seem to understand English except when I’m telling them something they don’t want to hear. It seemed like they weren’t happy about having another cat in our home (or, maybe they didn’t like the sight of the cat carrier in my hand).

Triscuit is 14-years old, and is moving a bit slow these days. She is such a sweet cat, loves pets, and is definitely able to hold her own. She took to the bedroom right away and the second day I opened the door to introduce the cats. The normal hissing happened, but my cats never tried to go after Triscuit or showed any aggression. Instead, my cats seemed a little afraid of Triscuit. I wondered if they sensed that she was older. The whole time Triscuit was hanging out with us my cats watched her every move. Otis seemed worried about her, Striker was confused about the puff on the end of her tail, and Reggie and Abby ran away from Triscuit most of the time. Meanwhile, Triscuit seemed very comfortable and found her own little spots to nap.

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Triscuit kind of took over the pink sleeping bag.
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Triscuit liked the soft arm of the couch.
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Reggie kept a close eye on Triscuit while she stayed with us.

Memories of being young (maybe 9 or 10) and going to a nursing home, or being around an elderly relative, came back when I saw my cats a bit wary of Triscuit. I remember not knowing what to say and being careful with my hugs (I didn’t want to hurt them). I remember feeling like I needed to be gentle, and I also remember worrying about them falling or getting hurt, for example. Little kids around toddler age, though, seem to be a bit more innocent and unaware of the differences between a 3-year old and a 93-year old.

My job was to make Triscuit feel welcome and to take good care of her, the way the doctors were taking good care of my aunt. Triscuit wasn’t at home which I’m sure had to be a bit scary. Plus, opening the door with 4 new cat faces staring at her had to have been strange. I loved how she would look at one of the cats for a good minute, then look up at me as if to say, “I love Otis…and I love you…okay, pet me now.” That’s the magic word, isn’t it? Love. As long as that universal language is spoken between cats or humans, it seems like that’s a good place to start to take care of one another.

By the way, after I got back from returning Triscuit back to her mom, Otis was meowing and looking for Triscuit.

Enjoy the cuddle!

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Triscuit was happy to be home.
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Otis zonked out after meowing at me that he couldn’t find Triscuit.

Blog post #28 – May 14, 2017 Happy Mother’s Day

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Just in case the “cuddlers” are preparing for a busy day, I’ll make this one quick.

Happy Mother’s Day! I day to celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, step-moms, foster-moms, and of course, “fur moms.” It seemed that this week I stumbled across various news stories and TV shows that were focused on moms from the animal kingdom. At a Chicago zoo, the sea otter pups are now available for the public to see. Of course, the news showed the pups with their moms. I happened to catch (and watch) Jack Hanna’s show, Into the Wild, where cheetah, elephant, black bear, and rhinoceros moms and babies were highlighted. It was so cute to see the animal moms and their babies cuddling up close or playing near their mom.

Human moms and animal moms sure have big jobs in keeping their offspring safe until they’re ready to go out in the world. It sometimes seems that words can’t even describe the “job” of a mother. So, may all of the moms, of all kinds, have a beautiful day and feel the love.

Enjoy the cuddle!

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Abby sends Mother’s Day greetings to everyone.

Blog post #27 – May 6, 2017 Weather – Part 2

Good morning, Cuddlers!

It’s been a bit unseasonable cold around Chicago this past week. I know it’s only the first week of May, but in my mind, the weather should be warmer than 40-degrees in the morning and 50-degrees in the afternoon. The rain has also offered a spring chill and the feeling that Mother Nature is a little mad about something. Everyone at work has been dragging a little bit and we’re all blaming it on the weather. The heat in the school building isn’t on, so the classrooms and library have had an extra chill. I’ve had a few days where I never even took off my jacket. My hands have been cold and all I can think about is getting home to my cozy couch and cuddling with the cats.

I’m convinced that a full moon has influences on cats’ behavior, but I’m still observing my cats and weather. It seems that they are in-tune with the fact that it is a little chilly out. I don’t have the window open for the cats to hang out in, it’s a little chilly, and I’m using the cats for lap warmers. I don’t want to turn on the heat because then it gets too warm in my apartment. The cats seem to be cuddling with each other and me a little more this week. Maybe it’s my mood, maybe it’s their mood, or maybe it really is this spring chill and rainy weather.

This is a funny thing that my friend and her mom (or her dad – can’t remember) were talking about…50-degrees on a spring day, when you expect it to be in the 70’s, is much different than 50-degrees in the fall. She was also comparing watching a baseball game in the 50’s vs. watching a football game in the 50’s. Our perception and expectation of the weather definitely comes into play here. Thanks for the tidbit, Karen!

On a side note…I feel sorry for some of the delicate plants and flowers that sprouted a few weeks ago when it was mid-70’s. This week the flowers, especially the tulips, have been a bit disappointed with the weather. I swear some of the tulips have a sad-face-look about them. I feel like telling the beautiful plants and flowers to just hang on for a week…the weather has got to change pretty soon.

Well, I hope everyone has a week of good weather and has a chance to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air! And, of course, don’t forget to cuddle with your fur babies.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #26 – April 30, 2017 Storms and Weather

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Did you ever have those moments as a child when you were afraid of thunderstorms or have experience with other serious weather? I remember one summer (I think the summer of ’79), when our area had several days or weeks of serious thunderstorms. The storms were so bad that historic trees were up-ended and fell on porches, cars, and houses.

In college I remember an approaching tornado during finals week at the end of sophomore year that sent all of us down to the basement. At first, the noise shocked us “city folk.” We had no idea what it was, then quickly ran outside to take a look (silly college students). Yep! It was a tornado! Then, we spent hours in the basement of the dorm playing fun camp-like games to pass the time.

I went from being pretty frightened of storms as a child, to being fascinated by storms as I grew up. Too bad our fur babies don’t grow out of being afraid of storms. My grandparents’ had a dot that would shiver at thunderstorms that were miles and miles away. Her humans couldn’t hear the storms, and barely see the storms approaching on the radar, but she sure could those storms and was scared. Sometimes my cats with jump when it thunders, or will become a little less active on a rainy or stormy day. It’s too bad that dogs get so afraid of storms. It’s because of their hearing, right? Their ears are pretty sensitive to sounds and vibrations like thunder, correct?

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Reggie sleeping on a rainy day (after he played with his string for 10 minutes).

It’s nice to have a day where you can use a “rainy day” as an excuse to relax, read, and “cuddle” on the couch with your fur babies. Hopefully they can relax, too, and not be afraid of the storms.

Enjoy the cuddle!