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 #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 #25 – April 23, 2017 Miracles Can Happen!

Good morning, Cuddlers!

First of all, I hope everyone who celebrates Easter, had a wonderful Easter last week. My intention was to post this blog post last week, but I was slowly (very slowly) recovering from getting all four of my wisdom teeth extracted earlier that week. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

I’m super excited to share some wonderful news with everyone. April 7th I took Striker to the vet for a follow-up with his kidney level test and other blood work. He had been doing better the previous few weeks and I was hoping that the test would show what I knew in my heart. It was obvious to me that Striker gained a little weight and had a little more pep in his step. I prayed that the kidneys showed improvement, even though the vet warned me that it is extremely rare to have a cat improve from kidney failure.

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Striker – right around the time when he was under 7 pounds and very weak.

On Monday, April 10th, I got the call from the vet with the absolute best news. Striker’s kidney level went from a dangerous level of 8 (back when I asked for prayers and happy thoughts), to a 2.4 (normal/mild)! The vet has never seen that in all of her years practicing veterinary medicine. All of Striker’s other levels are normal, and he gained a little over a pound in the matter of 6 weeks! The vet asked what I thought “did the trick.” I told her that the fluids helped, and the appetite enhancer pills may have helped a little (maybe, because Striker only managed to get about 3-4 of them down without spitting them up). But, what helped Striker the most were all of the prayers and happy thoughts sent his way, and feeding him shrimp (Thank you, Aunt Karen, for the suggestion!).

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Striker – right after hearing the great news about his health from the vet.
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Striker – taking a “happy nap” after the great news from the vet.
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Striker cuddling with me the day after his clean bill of health, and after eating some shrimp.

There was a solid week where I would hold Striker, pray for his improved health, and cry tons of tears because he sure looked like other cats I’ve had in the final days of their life. Striker is quite the fighter and definitely has a strong will to live. In fact, he just had his 5th birthday a few days ago. Now, he is not only his “old self,” but he’s playing like he used to play a few years ago. His expressions are priceless, his adorable meows melt my heart, and his goal to sit on my lap and purr have new meaning to my day.

Otis, Reggie, and Abby are also happy again, too. Abby and Striker often have a 20-minute game of tag in the morning (which was fun to watch as I recovered from my wisdom teeth surgery). And, Reggie and Otis seem to be more relaxed knowing that Striker is healthy.

My wish for my “cuddlers” is that you all have an experience of some type of miracle in your life. And, I can’t thank you all enough for sending well wishes our way for Striker’s health. If Striker could, he would sit on everyone’s lap, purr, and ask for more shrimp.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #23 – April 2, 2017 Jokes and Games

Good morning, Cuddlers!

So, I know April Fool’s was yesterday, but I can’t stop thinking about practical jokes from our human friends and fur babies.

On Friday I gave my students a spelling test of fake words. I saw it posted on Facebook; a teacher gave this test to his middle school students. My students kept saying they thought the words were fake, but I convinced them otherwise. When I revealed the answer to #11 to be April Fool’s, the students broke out into laughter and gave me props for a good April Fool’s joke. It was a nice way to end the week as we approach a week of upcoming standardized tests.

This made me think of the “jokes” our furry friends play on their humans. I’ve played with many dogs in my time and have had it happen to me when they’re about to give me their toy to throw, and they decide to hold onto it or run away with their toy instead. I remember watching this dog and his human on an early-morning run…the human was trying to leave the beach, but the dog was having none of it. The adorable dog would go next to his human and act like he would accept getting hooked up to the leash, and at the last second, would run off wanting his human to play another game of chase. It was so funny! If dogs could laugh, that cute dog was definitely in hysterics!

If you were part of a April Fool’s joke, hopefully it was as innocent as being asked to spell Rol-Aska-Tox or Tangeteen. Or, maybe your fur baby decided to play a joke on you. Either way, I hope you made it through the day with a lot of laughs, and are taking this morning to relax…and cuddle.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #21 – March 12, 2017 Daylight Savings Time

Good morning, Cuddlers!

Daylight Savings Time. Humph. I don’t know about you, but this is the tough one for me. Losing the hour of sleep when we

jump ahead an hour, really has an impact on my mood. I have a feeling that it’s more mental than anything. The idea that I’ll lose an hour of sleep is only resolved in the fall when we gain that hour back. Still, it’s a tough couple of days getting used to losing this hour.

When I was younger our cats ate every day at 5pm, so the time change really messed up their schedule both times. In the fall they started meowing in desperate at my mom because they were convinced that she forgot how to tell time. “Mom! It’s 5:00! Feed us!” Misty and Peanut didn’t understand that it was only 4:00. Then, the first week of Daylight Savings Time was such a treat because it was as if they were getting fed an hour early.

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Misty and Peanut sleeping on their usual spot on top of the refrigerator. (mid-1970’s)
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Misty playing outside. (mid-1970’s)

I remember seeing a report on the news about how the time change also impacts farm animals. The farmers in the story spoke about their strict schedule, and how the time change was upsetting to some of their animals. The story brought up the question about why we continue to have the time change twice a year since we aren’t the agrarian society we once were. Who knows if this will change in the near future? All I know is that I will be struggling a bit this week, and the cats will be really confused with the morning alarm and feeding times this week, too.

Quick Striker update: A few weeks ago I honestly thought (and so did the vet) that Striker only had weeks to live. Well, it appears that he has bounced back a bit. You wouldn’t believe how much he is eating, drinking, purring and jumping around. Striker definitely seems like his old self and is a happy cat. He did develop some allergies, which has caused excess scratching. I took Striker to the vet for a follow-up and a shot for his allergies. He gained an ounce, but his kidney levels are still high. Regardless, I feel like the prayers and happy thoughts have given me more time with my sweet little Striker. We appreciate it very much!

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Striker relaxing and purring.

Enjoy the cuddle!

Blog post #18 – February 19, 2017 Request for Happy Thoughts

Request for Happy Thoughts

Good morning, Cuddlers!

{Warning: This blog may have you shedding a few tears.}

One phrase I’m not a fan of – Quality of life. The words alone are fine: quality – who doesn’t love a quality day or something of quality; of – a hard-working preposition; life – millions of books have been talking about the meaning of life for hundreds of years. But, when you hear the phrase – Quality of life. –  you know it’s not referencing something good.

This week I ask for happy thoughts as I nurse my sweet little Striker. He’s been losing weight and the result is that his kidneys are failing. About a year ago we discovered that Striker had underdeveloped kidneys and a heart murmur. (By the way, I’m still not sure why this didn’t show up until he was 3 ½.) Apparently, he was born with this kidney problem and I was informed he wouldn’t live a long life. In my mind, though, I was thinking about 10 years rather than the 16 – 19 years I was used to with my lifetime of being owned by cats.

At this point, the vet said the most I can do is give Striker fluids on a daily basis, get him to eat a mashed potato-margarine-special cat food recipe, and cuddle with him as much as possible. It’s been quite difficult to see my sweet little Striker struggling with these problems at only 4 ½ years old.

It got me to thinking of anyone in our life that is either born with a medical defect of some kind or develops a life-changing disease. We go to several doctors for medical advice, pray, meditate, relax, fight, and the list goes on, to help our family members pull through (or pull through ourselves, if we are the ones inflicted). As the vet said to me, “Please don’t ever feel guilty in this process…you’re doing everything you can to help Striker. Kidneys are tough.” I hear ya’. Kidneys are tough. And, I’m not sure where we are on kidney transplants for cats, dogs, and other animals. Until then, I’m going to do what I can to give Striker a good “quality of life.”

As I ask for happy thoughts for Striker, I’m posting this blog entry with happy thoughts to the many cuddlers around the world who may need a little extra love for your fur babies, or your human family.

Enjoy the cuddle!