Blog Post #36 July 30, 2017 Bird Watching

July 30, 2017 – Bird Watching

Good morning, cuddlers!

This summer I have noticed more birds and sounds of birds. I think it may have been the positive influence of one of my friends from the Bear River Writers’ Conference who is a nature expert. We had a conversation about being able to appreciate nature even in the midst of the concrete jungle of Chicago.

Whether I’m out for a walk, running errands, or running along the lakefront path, I’ve come to notice the birds and the beautiful sounds of their summertime chirping. I also notice, and stay away from, the Canadian Geese…that’s a story for another time.

If I happen to see a dog on the path stalking a bird or a squirrel it brings a big smile to my face. I know the dog isn’t going to kill the bird or squirrel, so that’s why it’s a cute interaction. It’s especially funny when the squirrel outsmarts the dog and runs around to the opposite side of the tree and the dog is left in utter confusion. I can just hear the dog saying, “Where did that pesky squirrel go?!”

For my cats, I have always felt bad that we don’t have trees right outside our window so they can do their own stalking. This year, though, we seem to have a number of birds flying by on a regular basis. There also must be a tree that has gotten bigger or has become a safe place for birds to land, because I feel like we’re hearing more birds when the windows are open. Or, could it be that I’m paying more attention to the calming sounds of nature? Hmmm….

Well, even though my cats are getting more real-life experience with birds these days, I occasionally will play bird videos for the cats on YouTube. It’s so funny to watch them get so enthralled with the computer screen! I love that they think the bird is in the apartment when the bird flies away on the computer screen. Sometimes I’ll play the squirrel and bird video and Abby gets a little upset with the squirrel. I’d hate to see what would happen if they met in real life! The best part is seeing them intent as they watch the birds fly in and out of the screenshot. Ten minutes of bird videos means they will all sleep through the night.

I hope everyone is able to enjoy the nature in your hometowns this week. Enjoy the cuddle!

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Abby watching bird videos on the computer screen.
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Striker watching bird videos on the computer screen.
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Reggie watching bird videos on the computer screen.

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Reggie watching bird videos on the computer screen, and trying to grab the poor bird.
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One more picture of Reggie watching the bird video.

Blog post #35 – July 23, 2017 It’s new to me!

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Do you ever have those moments when you’re looking at your belongings and get the urge to re-organize? All of a sudden the furniture needs to be rearranged, the books on the shelves need a different organization system, or the closet needs purging of all things stuffed inside of it.

This happens to me about once every 8 months or so. I’ll be sitting on the couch, cuddling with one of the cats (of course), and the view of my “stuff” becomes completely different than it did only a few minutes before. It may be that I’ll notice a DVD that is in my collection that needs to be eliminated, or a framed picture needs to be updated, that will set off an entire cleanse of the apartment. I have limited space and limited ways to rearrange my furniture, so the furniture always stays. Since the furniture has to stay the same, I change other things and I clean out things that don’t bring me joy anymore.

In this process, I also try to go through all of the cat toys. By toys I mostly mean the various boxes and Chipotle bags that the cats once played with that I’m ready to throw away. It never fails that the box I pick up and ask the cats if they’re done with it, is the exact box Reggie, Abby, and Striker have re-claimed. Or, the nearly torn-up Chipotle bag is Abby’s favorite new hiding spot (again). OR…the box that doesn’t look like a box is Reggie’s make-believe fort, and when I try to pick it up to put in the recycle pile, he swats at my hand.

You can probably guess what happens in my apartment. The cats win. If they seem happy, and are playing with something, who am I to take that away from them? I will eventually put my foot down with some things, but most of the time, the cats are the victors.

At least I managed to purge about 4 bags of old school papers and a box full of old magazines. The recycle bins were my friends this past week! My apartment feels new and refreshed and my cats have “new” toys, hideouts, and forts to play with.

Enjoy the cuddle!

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My plan was to put a few more binders on the shelf. Abby decided she would like the spot instead.
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I told Abby and Striker that if they didn’t stop chewing on the plant, I was going to get rid of it. This was Striker’s reaction.
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I’ve tried several times to put this comforter away. According to Striker and Abby, it belongs folded on the bed.
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I was going to buy new cushions for the cats. Reggie and Otis are fine with the old cushions. (Take note of how the cats have scratched up the couch.)

Blog post #34 – July 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, America!

Good morning, Cuddlers!

This time of year is full of BBQs, family and friend gatherings, and plenty of summer activities. It’s also that time of year that many dogs, cats, and other animals despise. The stories of animals being freaked out by the fireworks are endless. So, while we’re about to celebrate our nation’s birthday, our fur babies are looking forward to July 5th.

Growing up it seemed like the dogs in my life were more afraid of the fireworks than the cats. One of my grandparent’s dogs could hear thunder and fireworks from far away distances, even out of human hearing range. She would shiver and hide her head the best she could. I also remember feeling so bad for our dogs in Chicago, because it seemed like people were setting off fireworks right in front of our house. While we were enjoying the 4th of July, our dogs were dreading the entire day. Poor doggies. It sure is hard to reassure a scared dog or cat that they’ll be okay.

Last year I noticed my cats showing signs of not liking the sounds of the fireworks. In my neighborhood we don’t get as many people setting off illegal fireworks, so it’s not a big problem. There are the occasional fireworks set off nearby, which sends the cats running…or at least that look of “What the heck is going on?!”

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Abby found her hiding spot from the noise of the fireworks…in the All-American Coca-Cola box.
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Striker is trying to hold the American flag. Happy birthday, America!

I often wonder about the animals at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, or other zoos near fireworks displays around the country. Are other animals as sensitive to the sounds of the fireworks? Well, I sure hope all animals are safe this year.

Have an enjoyable 4th of July celebration in the midst of cuddling with your fur babies. And, have a piece of watermelon for me (my favorite 4th of July treat).

Enjoy the cuddle!

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.