Friday, February 25, 2011

Brain injury causes man to play piano

I came across this clip, and found it interesting.  This guy, David Amato, was playing around with friends and had a near fatal concussion from hitting his head in a pool.  Before the accident he had never played the piano.

The mind is an amazing thing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

mad cow... tedious number crunching.... PC means more than politically correct..

We were in Germany (West Germany, before the wall came down) for almost 3 yrs. Long enough that I can't donate blood if I wanted to. Something about possibly being exposed to mad cow. Lovely. So, in 1985, my daughter J was born, and it was time to come home.  Back to the states.  As I mentioned, the marriage didn't last, so that was over about the same time. That is it's own long story, and sounds to much like one of the movies of the week to be believable, so I won't go into it for now.

So... it was then time to come back to the states. Now I'm a single mom, and art doesn't pay that well.

My parents generously allowed my daughter (8 mos old) and I to go back home and live with them so I could go back to college. This time round, I gave up on the art idea. I decided I was still interested in the computers, but wanted to ditch the science so switched to computer information systems, which is more the business side of computers. A lot of  the credits I took before transferred. And I discovered that with just adding a couple more courses I could get a double major in CIS and Accounting. Before graduating I got a job with a regional accounting firm, and was offered a full time job there after graduating. One thing led to another and I got my CPA (certified public accountant).

Career #2. I also got to wear the additional hat of being the network administrator at our firm, so got to do both accounting and computers. Quite honestly I didn't really enjoy the accounting side of things.  tedious work. often boring.  Number crunching... audits... balancing books.... taxes.... None of that really interested me.

Flash forward almost another 10 years, and once again I end up planning to move because of love. My daughter is now 9 and we move 1000 miles away without a job.  Oh, I had looked, and even had one decent offer from another accounting firm but just prior to finalizing the move, the accounting firm was bought out by another firm and my new position no longer existed and the guy that had offered it to me was also out of a job. Go figure. I think it was a blessing in disguise.  Did I mention that I found accounting boring?

I took a chance on love, and luck, and packed up and moved. Went from living in a small town where everyone knows your business located in the midst of the bible belt, where I had my folks nearby to help with my daughter to a town where all I really knew was my gf. Sound scary? It was a little. It was also freedom. Freedom to be more of who I am, and not have to worry or feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

My brother says I'm lucky. That he would never have the guts to do some of the things I've done. Things always have a way of working out. And they did.

So I moved without a job, to live with my gf.  I had my car and a little bit of savings.  My gf was paying the bills, she owned her home, and we weren't that much extra expense.  And I set out to find a job.  I couldn't find anything in the accounting world, but I did find something in computers. So I took a job working at a local computer shop. Started out doing PC and printer repair and occasionally working on servers. I guess this was was the beginning of career #3.  I didn't make a lot. It was a big pay cut going from a CPA to a computer tech, but I enjoyed it. The company liked me. Liked me enough that when I went to them asking if I could take about 6 months leave of absence (without pay) they agreed to hold my job for me when I came back.

As I mentioned in a prior post, I took an almost 6 mos break from working back in 96 in order to travel the US in an RV with my daughter and my gf. My gf was taking a sabbatical from her teaching job, and we went along for the ride. We home-schooled my daughter, and I think it was one of the most awesome experiences either one of us could have. How many people can say they spent 5 months or more travelling the country? That wasn't a career, but it was certainly experience. I was telling someone about it recently and they made the comment about how you must really have to love someone to travel 5 months in an RV with them. Well, yeah. Actually, the relationship didn't last. Perhaps that was part of it. Although it was on the rocks before we left on the trip.  We went more as friends than as lovers. And if I had it to do all over, of course I would.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Art where for art tho? what happened?

My first real career was in art. ...

To continue my earlier post regarding going nowhere, The next thing I was good at was art. I could draw. I started college as an art major.  I was good at drawing/painting. I was also interested in computers but this was before PC's existed so it was a different world. I wanted to find out how to get involved in a career doing some sort of computer animation. My college had no clue what to do with me, but for a while I was a dual major Art & Computer Science. yeah OK whatever. It didn't really mean anything back then.

So I thought I really liked art better than the computer science.  Especially the science bit. To my dad's horror (he was a biology professor) I wasn't that good at science, and I really wasn't that interested in learning Latin names for everything, and physics kicked my butt.  Strange because I aced calculus without trying... but I digress. I was good, no great at art. However, I almost flunked out of a life drawing class because my drawings were too realistic. I got a D in the class.  My teacher said that photo realism was out, and that I needed to learn to be more abstract.  Not sure what that has to do with life drawing, but it was a life lesson. LOL.
Not long after that I fell in love. as M would say now, I was young and dumb. He was in the military and got orders for Germany. So obviously, young love's response was that oh no, we can't be separated for a year or so, so our answer was that we must hurry and marry and then I can go along.  Well, the marriage didn't last, told you I was young and dumb. But I won't complain too much about it. I had an incredible opportunity and experience getting to see West Germany, parts of Europe, and my daughter was born over there.  Other thing I did over there was that I got a job as a head of a graphics art department for an army club system. I designed flyers and posters and put out a monthly magazine. I got to be an artist. The job required a college degree that I didn't have. But I was the most qualified applicant. At least I had gone to college, and they liked my portfolio.  I also did free lance painting - commission work.  I painted several murals around town, in some of the barracks. Big huge murals on walls. Also did some smaller framed commission work. Even won an award from the army divisional commander. So my first real career was as an Artist (luckily for me, it paid well, so I was not a starving artist either).

I don't know what happened to the artist me. I haven't touched a paint brush (house painting doesn't count). I haven't picked up a charcoal pencil or done a pen and ink.  My favorite mediums were pen & ink and colored charcoals, and a mix of the two. But I haven't drawn anything in years. The artist me got lost over the years much like the musician me. But I don't have the excuse that I have when I say I can't make music if I wanted. I could still draw or paint if I really wanted. So what happened? Sometimes I think that aspect of myself is somehow tied to much with who I was back then. I don't want to go back and revisit that time. I have some of my old drawings and paintings. For the most part they are stored away. I've thought of getting them out. But then that always leads to questions. Did you do these? Really? oh but you have so much talent... why aren't you doing something with it? why did you stop? And I don't have those answers. I don't know why I stopped. And I don't know what to say.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

exclusive retirement homes - not welcome

I was going to continue my post from yesterday, and I might still get back to that at some point.  But one nice thing about not having a "readership" or following, I can skip around and let my thoughts go wherever they want, and no one complains that they had trouble following.

I read a post this morning on someone else's blog about retirement homes. And it reminded me of something. Back in 96 I spent almost 6 months travelling the US in an RV (more on that story would have been in installment 4 or 5 if I'd continued on with yesterday's post). One of the places we visited was in Arizona. I forget the exact name, but near Phoenix.  As we were travelling we would research and stay at various campgrounds, and my then partner found this lesbian only campground/trailer park that was set up for retired women only space.  There was a fairly large population staying at this park, and there was another women only park just down the road.  Both had similar rules and restrictions. The premise was this was a space where women could live in a RV community, park their RV or in some cases a mobile home or a park model, during their retirement years.  The place was women only, men were not welcome on the grounds.  Even children were frowned upon and only allowed during certain "daylight" hours, and could not be out running around even then without being with an adult. They had organized dances, and card games, and other community events. While we were there they were having one of their dances and the park down the street was hosting the dance.
I found the place disturbing. Partly because we were there with my daughter who was 10 at the time. Partly because it was so exclusive. My partner thought the place was great. And would have even considered buying into it except for the fact they didn't allow men visitors at all, and she was very close to her brother, not to mention all the neices/nephews that her sisters and brother had.  I think she was ok with the idea of restricting access if it didn't have to apply to her.
The one highlight/memory I have of visiting that place was meeting the woman who was living in the RV next door to our site.  Her name was Elaine Mikels, she was in her mid-70's, and an amazing interesting woman. She had just recently written a book about her part in the events during stonewall.  Both my partner & I ended up getting a version of her book (she had two different editions) and having her sign them.  At that time she was splitting her time between this place and Sante Fe NM.  She seemed to prefer Sante Fe.  She was also opposed to some of the more extreme views and rules/restrictions that were in place there at the campground.  For example she thought it was a mistake to restrict access to both men & children.  Children she felt are our future.
Some things I think are great to participate in a "lesbian or GLBT" space/atmosphere. But I wouldn't want to live year round in a place that was so restrictive.  I have enjoyed vacationing places where gays are openly welcomed. Where it is ok to walk down the street holding hands, or to kiss your lover without fear. But then again those places do not exclude anyone. Other than maybe bigots.  And I'm not sure they are excluded as much as that isn't any place they want to go or would feel comfortable at.  I remember several years back talking about a vacation I was planning to P-town (Provincetown, MA) with some coworkers.  One of them made a comment warning me that there were a lot of "lesbians & gays" there and to watch out. Obviously he didn't realize he was talking to one. LOL

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

going nowhere

I have a job. A very good, well paying job. I work as a network engineer, managing/designing/maintaining computer networks. No, I don't work with computers, or users, or printers, etc.  I work on the network. The routers, switches, firewalls. I work for retail. So next time you are in a store somewhere and the clerks are complaining the network is down, or slow, then someone like me has probably been called to work on the issue. Much of the time when it is stores that are down, there is a telecom vendor involved, and data links or the WAN is down, and it is up to the vendor to resolve.

I also work on VOIP systems.  We have our own customer call center (to support outside customers), and a help desk call center (which supports users at stores, or corporate, which supports internal customers).  The help desk escalates issues to my team if the issues are network related and the help desk can't resolve.  VOIP technology puts the phones on the network, and merges both the world of computer technology and regular telephone technology.  Our telecom group is new to that whole idea. So I work with them because I have background in it.

I'm a key employee, and have lots of specialized knowledge and experience. Sometimes I think I know lots about a lot of things, but not about any one thing.  However, while it might sound conceited, I know a lot more about most of the things I do than anyone else here. I also think that I've gone as far as I can career-wise.  I am not a manager, or supervisor. I am a team lead and have people under me, but they are not direct reports. I'm not even sure I would want to be in management. Management can be so political and such a bureaucracy. I think I prefer to work on things and solve problems and design things.  I'm not sure I would be able to do all of that and be effective in management. I'm also pretty sure I wouldn't even like being in management.

I'm thinking about some of these things because a good friend/coworker was just promoted to manager of her dept.  She was a lead much as I am, only with the DBA team. Her manager will be leaving, so they offered her the position. I don't see that sort of thing being an option in my team. I am fairly certain that my boss is going nowhere, and neither is his boss. Also another good friend recently took a new job within her company and is now a manager of her division. She talks about how she likes, no loves her new job. I like my job, but I don't love my job. I used to love my job when I worked for the company prior to this one. But it was privately owned, and the family decided to sell it off, resulting in a lot of people including me being laid off. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, I got a decent severance and a key employee bonus to stick around until the company dissolved. I was lucky to find this job, and have a smooth transition from one to the other without being without a job in the middle. But this time it is just a job. Not a job that I love.

So am I going nowhere? I guess I'm trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I've re-invented myself several times in this life. When I was young, I taught music lessons for decent money, that and did some baby-sitting. Teaching banjo lessons was a lot more lucrative than any other job for a 14 yr old - I made $25 for 1/2 hr session. I was good at playing/singing. Not great, but good. Banjo, guitar. I had fun with it. I also took piano lessons for several years and could play that. Now (for some years now) I can't play.  My brain can't process reading music anymore.  I can read it, but it is like translating a foreign language, into another language and then from there into a 3rd. that's the best I can explain it. I can look at the music and think about it then, tell you what the note is (a,b,c,d,e,f,g etc), then look at it and figure out the rhythm. but to put it all together? Even when I was young I played much better by ear than sight reading. As for pickin' a banjo, or guitar, my hands wouldn't cooperate now if I remembered what to do. My fuzzy fingers on my right hand would complain if I had to play for very long, and I'm not sure I could work my fingers to pick the way I used to, or even do the cords with my left hand. As for the piano, I lost all memory of how to read/play the bass hand. I can pick out a melody with my right, but to put the two together? forget it. I think it maybe partly MS related. Or maybe it is just result of some other brain injury from the past. I still love music though. And I can still sing. J & I sing together in a local womyns chorus. Music is something I've always felt close to, not that I ever would have been good enough to really make any money at it.

My first real career was in art...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cats Cats Cats... for the Cat lovers out there...

This post is dedicated to my cats... I'll add photos later.
We originally had 4 cats, 1 dog. Now we just have 3 cats.

Coot, may he RIP, was the alpha. Neurotic, slightly psychotic, but lovable Coot. Coot was a silky (very silky soft fur) black cat with a white chest and paws & whiskers.  He was our tuxedo cat, all dressed up, no place to go.  Coot was a worrier.  He worried about everything and everyone.  If the cat's food container (self-feeder) was low, he would cry and let you know.  If the Dog's water dish (the cats shared Hunters large water cooler/watering dish). was low, he cried about that. If coot was crying, something was wrong. You would ask him what's the matter, and he would lead you to the problem.  Stand by to make sure you fixed it, then he would leave.  It wasn't that he wanted the food or the water, he just was afraid it was going to run out.    He even did that when Hunter's dry food would get low.  If Coot was crying, it meant something wasn't right. He wouldn't stop until you went with him to fix it.  He would cry if someone got trapped in the laundry room. Even Ruby - his nemesis. He was the old man. A year older than Ruby. When M & I moved in together my daughter J & I brought Coot & Ziggy. M brought Ruby & Hunter.  And then J felt sorry for this scraggly flea ridden kitten and paid the adoption fee and we ended adding Sonny.  J & I had gotten Coot as a kitten, when some friends found the bedraggled wet kitten that would fit in the palm of your hand out in the rain outside a convenience store.  Our friend already had 2 cats, and couldn't take on another, so we took him.  Coot had grown up around dogs, when he was a kitten my partner at the time had 2 labs, and Coot was unafraid. As a tiny kitten you might find him up under the chin of the big yellow lab trying to get to the gravy in the dog's bowl.  Luckily all the dogs Coot (and the others) have been around were all gentle giants.  Besides being a worrier, Coot was nervous.  Besides crying to let us know when things weren't right, if he got too upset, he would get dandruff really bad.  Which with his black silky fur was very noticeable.   Coot was a sweet kitty, I miss Coot. For that matter, I miss that old yellow lab too.  I was there and watched both (at different times obviously) take their last breath.  I was alone with my partner's old yellow lab, she couldn't deal, so I was there for the big guy.  For Coot, we were all there - me, M & J. All crying and reminiscing about happier times & happier memories.

If Coot was the old man, that makes Ruby the old lady.  Ruby is a calico tabby cat. Dark rusty/brown color, some stripes on her tail, otherwise mottled. White chest, paws & face. Sort of dainty but tough as nails. Don't mess with Ruby. That goes for human or animal.  One minute she can be purring and demanding you pet her, next she'll swat you to let you know you should have stopped that - didn't you get the secret signal she'd had enough? Ruby and Coot had some sort of love/hate relationship going. They would hiss and fight. For some reason, Ruby would get behind the bedroom door, swatting at Coot out through the crack at the hinges.  He would sit and box back at her.  They also like to fight for who got to be on the bed.  Coot was declawed, so he had no front claws.  The rest of the cat's have claws.  So Ruby had the advantage.  But Coot would still wop at Ruby with his paw. He packed a mean punch. Normally Coot would end up chasing Ruby off the bed, then he would lay up there.  He was getting older, and while he would sometimes exhibit signs of acting like a kitten again, he normally didn't want to play with the younger ones - Ziggy & Sonny.  Ruby doesn't like any of the boys. We aren't sure that she likes anyone.  Normally while Coot was alive, he was the only one that really fought with Ruby, on a couple rare occasions, Ziggy joined in, Sonny was a bit clueless.  As I've mentioned before, something is wrong with Ruby's meow. She can get loud when she really wants to, as we have heard her when she got trapped in the laundry room. Most of the time tho, the best she comes up with is a faint "meep" sound. Otherwise you can watch her mouth open and shut but no meow comes out.  Like she has permanent laryngitis. Although when Coot was still around and Ruby would get shut in the laundry room, Coot would be sitting outside the door crying, Ruby would be quiet.  If didn't hear Coot, he'd come looking for us and lead us to her.  Timmy's in the well... you need to come help NOW.  Told you it was a love/hate thing.  Is Ruby the alpha female? she's the only female.  I'm not sure I'd call her alpha.  More likely crotchety.

The cats love to follow us in the laundry room and will sometimes hide and get shut in there when we shut the door. All cats seem to have a door alarm. Even if they are in another part of the house, they know if you go in a room (bathroom?) and shut the door, and will immediately appear outside said door and cry and stick their paws under the door trying to signal to you that they are there and that help is on the way, soon as they figure out how to get that damn door open... Cabinets, now cabinets they can open. Just so you know, they can open all the cabinets, weave in and out and around all the pots and pans and anything else you have in there. Normally they don't, but they can.  Just in case, we always rinse off the pots/pans. But the doors, can't quite get those door knobs to turn.  That proved a problem once. M & I had left on a week long vacation and taken Hunter with us.  J was stopping by the house off and on checking on the cats.  With plenty of water and self feeders out, and clean litter boxes, they are usually good for a couple days on their own.  Sometime between when we left on Friday and J showing up on Sunday, however, all 4 cats somehow shut themselves in our bedroom.  This was odd, in that Coot & Ruby had managed to get the door shut before while boxing with each other, but normally Coot is outside the door when this happens.  But this time all 4 were in the bedroom.  This could have been really bad. Or well, worse than it was, I guess being stuck in a bedroom for possibly 2 days without food or easy access to water isn't a good thing.  Our bedroom has a full bath attached, so they could drink out of the toilet if necessary, and the cats used our walk in shower as their bathroom, and left a few presents.  As I say, could have been a lot worse.  The shower was much easier to clean up than if they peed/pooped in the bedroom.  We aren't sure how they came up with the idea, but could tell they'd all used it. After that incident we started blocking the bedroom door so nothing similar could happen again.  That was really the only room that it was an issue, and that was because of how/where the door is.

Hunter was the next oldest.  He was a large sweet dog. Rarely barked. Was a very good dog. Definitely a gentle giant. His mother was golden retriever, not sure about the rest.  It was claimed the father of the puppies was a Rottweiler, but he didn't have Rottweiler in him, they are stocky. He was almost as large as a Great Dane, had a running dog's build, and loved to stretch those legs.  He was fast.  The vet said he might be part Irish Setter. He had short reddish hair.  He looked a little like a very large Vizsla. He got along well with the cats.  He and Coot became very good buds, Coot would walk in and around Hunter rubbing all over him.  Hunter wanted to play so bad with the cats that sometimes he would try to put his paw on them, coot especially and he would yelp, and we'd have to fuss at Hunter to leave the cat alone, then there would be Coot right back over there beside Hunter rubbing all over him.  Sonny also was a big pal.  We think Sonny thought he might be a big dog too. When Hunter would get a treat or table scraps, like a piece of steak, Sonny was right there wanting a piece too. Course we had to give Sonny a much much smaller piece, but he seemed to always want whatever the big guy got.  Sonny also tries to make a sound like a woof.... more like mouf... Hunter always had dry food sitting out, and also got one can of wet food a day.  He especially liked the kind with gravy.  Problem is that the cats also really liked the gravy.  Many times, we would put out Hunter's food, and he would come to us and lean against us whining, and the cats (especially Coot) would be on their hind legs licking the gravy off the food in Hunter's bowl.  Hunter could have gone over and growled or barked or scared the cats off, but no, he would come whine to us like he was saying "the cats are eating my food again.... cant you do something?"  To solve the problem we got a second bowl, and would pour a little of the gravy off into the "cats" bowl, then put the rest of the can in Hunter's dish.  Made everyone happy. And whatever the cats didn't finish up, Hunter would later.

The cats have a pecking order when it comes to eating. However, they take turns. When Coot was around, he was often first.  Then either Ruby or Ziggy and Sonny.  Now that Coot is gone, sometime Ruby gets there first and Ziggy will wait until she is done, or Ziggy will be first and Ruby will wait.  No real rhyme or reason.  Sonny, our special needs kitty, he eats when he wants.  The others will let him. They seem to all know he is special. Ruby will fuss a little bit, but let him go out of turn.  Ziggy will just share the bowl with him.  Same with the water dish.  Now when they used to share Hunter's water bowl, they never shared at the same time with the dog. but because the bowl was large, it was easy for more than one of them to drink at the same time.  Now they have a smaller "cat sized" bowl which is really too small for more than 1 but sometimes we will still see both Sonny & Ziggy trying to drink at the same time.  Another difference now they no longer have the large water bowl is that the floor doesn't stay as wet.  There were two reasons for the wet kitchen floor.  First was Hunter, he would slosh water, and leave a trail after taking several gulps of water.  So you had to watch out for the patches of dog slime.  The 2nd reason was Ziggy.  He likes to drink from his paw, and will sometimes splash water, we sometimes wondered if he was doing it for fun, or trying to skim the dog slobber off the top of the water before he drank.  We think mostly he just wanted to play, because we would catch him slinging water at Sonny or at Hunter.  For some time Hunter was blamed for all the wet floor issues until Ziggy was caught in the act.

Ziggy is our little grey tiger. Ok, he's not so little. Over weight actually, although the vet did say as long as he is active, jumping and playing not to worry too much.  He can jump and he plays. So for now, we haven't changed the means of feeding the cats.  To put Ziggy on a diet would mean they all get put on a diet and we would have to take away the self-feeders and make sure they all got their dinner.  As for Ziggy's jumping ability, not long after we moved into this house, we found him on top of the top kitchen cabinets (up over top of the refrigerator by about a foot 1/2.  We guess that he got up there by jumping on the counter top and from there to the top of the fridge and from there to the top of the cabinets - unless he went from the counter to the top of the cabinet directly.  That's really the only time we found him up there.... he just wanted to see what the view was and whether there was anything worth checking out.  Ziggy is a lover boy and loves to snuggle and is very social. He's best pals with Sonny. J and I got him as a small kitty and he bonded instantly to me.  He is my boy.  He will be social with anyone but he is definitely attached to me.  He is very playful and has a mischievous streak.  He is very gentle when he plays, and rarely puts his claws out.  Even the vet has commented on it.  We believe he learned to play keeping his claws in because of Coot, who was declawed.  After all using claws wouldn't be fair when Coot couldn't.  Only rarely if you are playing with Ziggy will he barely put his claws out sort of as a warning.... but not enough to really do any damage.  He does the same thing when you are petting him and he doesn't like something you are doing, or he might "fake bite" you, put his mouth on you, without actually biting down. Just long enough so you get the idea.  Ziggy was always Coot's pal.  Whenever we needed to take Coot to the vet, we often would end up taking both Ziggy & Coot (in the same cat carrier) because it would help make Coot feel better and less worried. Later, as Coot got older he didn't want to play as much and Ziggy bonded more with Sonny and took Sonny under his wing.  Ziggy is also our attack cat.  Early warning alarm system.  If strange people show up (as in complete strangers, repair men, UPS drivers, etc), or if strange vehicles pull into the drive (or we have discovered lately he reacts even if a delivery truck pulls into the neighbors drive), then he growls.  Yes, he growls. I first told M about it after we moved in together to let her know, if she heard Ziggy growling that it meant we probably had someone pulling in the drive or something wasn't right.  She responded with a yeah right, cats don't growl.  Now Hunter would bark if a strange dog, or rather a strange big dog (he seemed to think little dogs were maybe cats) was around.  He would bark if you left him outside too long.  And if someone strange was outside in the middle of the night sort of thing.  Otherwise he didn't bark.  He didn't bark if we had repairmen coming to fix things... He would scare the repairmen because he was big, and he would be straining against whoever was trying to hold him back... because he thought all visitors to the house were there to see and pet him. But even if Hunter didn't always bark or growl, well Ziggy would.  First time M heard him, she told me (surprised) Ziggy does growl... yes. really. ferocious little tiger he is.  Course I'm not sure what he would really do if there was danger or the danger came in the house, maybe run to the treat cabinet and hope the thief was breaking in to give the cats treats? no, but seriously I do think Ziggy maybe would do what he could to protect us. Especially me.  Not sure what he could/would do, but he'd try, least that is what I believe.

Sonny, is a long haired, part Maine Coon cat.  Yellow. His fur is yellow/orange with faint stripes, and he has a white chest and white paws.  And he is Yellow. A big scaredy cat. Did I mention big? He has enormous paws, he is much bigger than the other cats.  He isn't fat, just big.  Apparently Main Coon's get big, and he isn't as big as some of them I found on the Internet.  He's also a big coward.  Afraid of noise, his shadow, sudden movement...  As I mentioned, J picked out Sonny when we first moved into our house. He was still a kitten but several months old.  With long gangly legs, and scrawny. Very awkward.  J says she saw him and was afraid no one would adopt him and that she felt the need to do so to make sure he had a good home. Nothing like bringing a 4th cat into a household that has just blended 2 families.  A dog & cat, plus two cats, plus sonny.  Poor Sonny was odd man out.  First thing we had to do was isolate him in one of the bathrooms until we could flea dip him and make sure the fleas were gone.  We did not want to have a flea infested household!  We took him to the vet to make sure he was up on his shots.  The vet told us he was a short hair domestic cat.  Yeah, ok. In the beginning, none of the animals wanted anything to do with him. He wanted to play.  He was able to pal around some with Hunter, but the cats didn't want him around.  In fact, the other cats would torment him.  As he grew, we discovered he is not short haired.  He has soo much hair, he has tufts of hair growing out between the pads of his feet.  His pads never actually touch the ground.  Which makes him slide easily on the linoleum.  The other cats figured this out.  Our house makes a circle where you can go from the living room to the dining room to the kitchen, out the other side of the kitchen back in the living room, completing the circuit.  The house is carpeted except for the kitchen, the landing (we have a split level) and the downstairs hallway and the bathrooms all have linoleum.  The other cats discovered they could play chase with Sonny and lead him through the kitchen from the dining room and they could turn and run out the doorway to the living room, and Sonny couldn't make the corner and would slide into the kitchen table and chairs, BAM.  Perhaps that is one reason Sonny is a special needs kid - too many BAMs.  But really Sonny isn't so dumb.  He learned to skid into the turn.  Looking much like a little kid on a skate board, he knows just when to slide and lean and make the corner and can now fly through the kitchen and out the door no trouble at all.  He does the same thing running down the stairs making the corner on the landing and down the rest of the stairs and around to the cat room.  After we had Sonny for a few months, he started filling out some and growing into those gangly legs.  He is still awkward (probably always will be), he has huge paws, and is a bit of a klutz.  As he filled out his hair grew.  Besides the tufts growing out the pads of his feet, he has tuffs coming out his ears, and has what looks like a lion mane, a fluffy feather duster like tail, and so much fur that M says he always looks like he is running with his pants falling down.  We don't have any proof that he is Maine Coon cat, but we are sure he is NOT a domestic short hair.    I did some Internet searching and found out that he has all the indicators of being a Main Coon after a friend suggested he might be one.  It wasn't long after we all started to get settled in the new house, and all the animals started getting used to each other that Ziggy & Sonny started palling around.  Ziggy took the kitty under his wing, and would snuggle with him, groom him, etc.  Animals are funny though. We took Sonny to the vet and he stayed overnight when it was time to have him fixed.  When he came home he smelled different and Ziggy wanted nothing to do with him.  Would just hiss and spit at him.  After a day or so, he realized it really was Sonny and all was ok again. Sonny is fine around the other animals, and can even be brave when it comes to taking what he wants - like food etc. but when it comes to people, that's when he is really a scaredy cat.  Strangers, loud noises, etc.  Sonny runs like a yellow blur down the stairs to the cat room.  Sonny has so much fur that we started taking him to the groomer to have him shaved.  If not, his fur will get so matted that it isn't healthy for him, and he won't hardly let us brush him or help him take care of it.  So J will come by every 3-4 months and help grab him and put him in one of the cat carriers and take him to the groomers.  They give him a "lion cut" which leaves his mane and a fluff on the end of his tail, and makes him look that much more like a little lion.  The groomer say he is very sweet. They wanted to know if he was nervous (you think? Mr. cowardly lion, nervous?) - apparently they said he chews his nails. Which is much like in humans.  We knew Coot was nervous, he had dandruff that would flare up when he was upset.  Sonny, he jumps when you make sudden moves, or if he hears loud noises, or if strange people come in the house. Or for that matter if any of us open the front door. Think he associates the front door with strange people coming in the house since we all mostly use the garage.

Our "cat room" is a storage room at the bottom of the stairs that has a cat door cut in the bottom of the door.  Besides being used for storage it is where the litter boxes and cat food is kept.  Main purpose was to keep it out of Hunters reach.  Unfortunately dogs think cat poo is a form of delicacy... we will leave that thought at that.
After Coot was gone, the cats had an adjustment period where they all figured out their place in cat society.  Well except for Sonny, who appears to be exempt. If you watch them, you can tell they (all the animals) just make allowances for him.  Ziggy became a bully. It appears he feels it is his place in life to make Ruby's life miserable.  To follow Coots footsteps and keep Ruby off the bed.  Ruby is not having any of it.  Normally Ziggy snuggles with us at bed time.  Often wants under the covers and snuggles in.  Otherwise he snuggles with Sonny at the foot of the bed. Ruby likes to sleep by M, or up on her pillows at the top of the bed.  It is a king, so there is plenty of room for all the cats and us.  Ziggy will chase Ruby off then sit at the bottom scowling and guarding the bed so that she can't get back on.  Sort of an example of cutting his nose off to spite his face because he can't get any attention down there, doesn't get to snuggle in, but guess he's happy because he is keeping Ruby away.
Another thing that has changed since Coot & Hunter have gone is Ziggy's behavior after I leave and come back.  Before if I had to travel for work.  He would be so upset and pissed at me when I would get back that he wouldn't have anything to do with me for several days.  He would make sure he was in the same room noticeably ignoring me.  Not come when called, and not want me to pet him, etc.  Now, if I leave, then when I get back he won't let me out of his site, and wants to be glued to me like a furry tumor.  It takes a few days before he relaxes and goes back to normal.

So.... that's our furry family members. We wouldn't take any thing for any of them.  And most definitely miss the ones that are gone.

Monday, February 7, 2011

shaky shaky meow meow

The cats have a new ritual.  They have a toy mouse - not new, they have had it for a few years, but never paid any attention to it until now.   They have several toys.  Which they carry to different parts of the house and leave them strewn around like a toddler with their toys.  I think part of this is because we no longer have the dog to "eat" the toys.  Hunter loved to shred anything stuffed. And if it wasn't stuffed he would slobber it and no cat would be interested.  So I think now that Hunter isn't around to bother their toys, they are now feeling safe at carrying them around and leaving them out in the open.

Ruby likes to carry a couple of the stuffed toys - a catnip caterpillar worm thing, and a hedgehog, and then cry over them like they were her long lost kittens.  First time I heard her do this, I thought she was in pain, or something, she sounded so forlorn and pitiful. 

Ziggy and sunny like to carry a couple of the stuffed mice around and leave them, brave hunters that they are, where you will find them and step on them in the dark.  I guess it is good we don't have mice, or we might find real ones left for us to find.  The closest they get to actual hunting is bugs.  Amazingly enough (least to me) is that they can catch them and kill them.  Ziggy is very intent and serious hunter.  Sunny is spastic.  He's our special needs kitty.  Ziggy will stay crouched ready to pounce for long periods, Sunny will crouch beside him, watching him, and imitating, for a couple minutes, then forget what he was doing there, and sometimes will try to get Ziggy to play with him, but Ziggy will be intent on the hunt, and then sunny will suddenly remember what he was supposed to be doing and then crouch down again, like oh yeah, I forgot... we're huntin'.... be vewwy vewwy quiet, we's huntin bugs...

The new toy of interest though is a mouse that sounds like a bean bag when you shake it.  Couple weekends ago, I was trying to nap (I find I like napping on weekends - it allows me to catch up on sleep I miss all week). Ziggy however did not want me to nap.  He wanted me to appreciate that he had this toy mouse.  He was grabbing the mouse shaking it so that it rattled, then drop it, and meow loudly. over and over. he jumped up on the bed to present this mouse and repeat his routine. I was not impressed.

On Saturday night/Sunday morning, he played this game with M.  She was definitely not impressed.  She was working a mandatory OT shift at work on Sunday, daylight shift which meant getting up at 5am. She normally works 2nd shift, and is not an early morning person.  If anyone asks if I wake up grouchy in the mornings, my reply is only if I have to.... I know better.  Actually, I prefer staying up at night to getting up early, but I wake up fairly easily, and I am normally good natured when woke up.  Not M.  LOL.  So Ziggy, doing his shake shake, drop the mouse, meow meow, routine at 3:30/4 in the morning early Sunday didn't go over well.