Tag Archives: cats

A rare occasion indeed!

While a few of the cats in my feral cat colony were named after Mark Twain characters, and a couple of them were named after characters in the Eloise children’s books, three of the cats in my feral cat colony were named after this famous literary family:

Zelda, Scottie, and F. Scott Fitzgerald

A couple of the ferals were adoptable and found good forever homes. One of the ferals died very young. And, as loyal readers of this lofty blog no doubt recall, all of my non-feral cats have since passed away, as well.

But this still leaves me with 8 (now semi-feral) cats in the cat colony. And while providing a forever home to  semi-feral cats poses unique challenges — specifically, they are all very afraid of humans who aren’t me; they tolerate being petted now and then but they aren’t at all cuddly; and, because they will still attack,  it’s next to impossible to get them veterinarian care, so they are all strictly indoor cats now. However, they are still extremely dear to me and a joy to have around.

It helps that they’re really cute.

Scottie (named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s daughter, pictured above), is a very, very sweet little tabby cat. Here she was as a kitten:

For some reason, though, when she was still really young, all the other cats in the colony decided they were going to bully her. For a long time, she hid in a box in the far corner of the basement, in the dark, back in the old house. It was really, really rough.  I couldn’t touch her or get hold her because it terrified her, so I couldn’t even remove her to another part of the house. So she lived in terror of the other cats, hiding in an old box in the dark, and wouldn’t even use the litter box for fear that one of the cats would attack her.

It broke my heart because she was just so sweet. I worked really patiently with her, at a distance, and at last got her to at least  hide in the rafters near the basement window, so that she could get some daylight and so that I could easily see her every day and make sure she was okay.  And I was able to re-train her to use a litter box.

For years, I did the whole routine about praising her in front of the other cats whenever possible, and gave her treats before any of the others got treats (a lot of this took place while she was still living in the basement rafters). It literally took years of patient persistence, but eventually the other cats no longer bullied her. In the rental house and then here in the new house, she always found a place to hide for most of the day, but she would finally come out at meal times and join the other cats — and even let me pet her.

She became a really happy, un-bullied cat!

This new house has been a real blessing for all of the cats, in general. Lots of space for them and tons of windows for them to look out from and see all the birds. And except for the terrifying railroad train (!!), it’s an incredibly quiet and peaceful town. The cats seem extremely happy here.

And, over the last couple days, a real miracle has happened! Scottie has stopped hiding.

Here’s Scottie, yesterday, hanging out in the kitchen in broad daylight! Just enjoying a quiet summer afternoon. I am absolutely thrilled and amazed.

This new development has made me so happy.

Well, okay. Have a thrilling and amazing weekend, wherever it finds you and with whatever it finds you doing. Thanks for visiting, gang! See ya.

Living the Dream!

I have a few more photos to regale you with, these are from inside the house and they focus more on — the cats!

However, loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recognize that  the really old-looking radio is actually a brand new record player (which I love, gang!! You will recall an earlier post that explained it not only plays records, but is an AM-FM radio, CD player, cassette player and also plays MP3 files!).

Daddycakes relaxing in the dining room.

And that the new “Baxton Studio Sorrento Mid-Century Retro Modern Faux Leather Upholstered Wooden Lounge Chair, Brown ” is known more affectionately as “my new chair.”

Weenie under the new chair.

This next photo has little to do with any previous posts. It is just a photo of the critters having breakfast!

Daddycakes, Lucy McGoose, Tommygirl, Doris-the-Exploress, Huckleberry, Francis, Weenie, and Scottie Fitzgerald McPhee (in the center)!

My flowers (also from a recent post, see below somewhere) are just exploding in a  riot of color, gang. I can’t believe how well they’re doing. It’s a just a few flower boxes full of impatiens, petunias, and begonias that I planted on Memorial Day, but boy do they add a splash of life.

Yesterday morning, I was drinking a cup of coffee and standing in front of the open screen door, when a teenage boy and his mom walked past my side porch (you’ll no doubt recall that my house is really close to the sidewalk around here and that when neighbors pass by, they are, for all intents and purposes, walking directly inside my house ).  At the same moment that I saw them and said, “Hi”, I heard both of them say, “Beautiful, just beautiful.”

No, they were not talking about me, they were talking about the flowers blooming.

When I lived at the previous house, I had 11 cultivated flower beds, along with a bunch of window boxes full of flowers and some hanging flower baskets. Here, it’s just a handful of flowers, by comparison. But you never know what is going to brighten up a stranger’s day, do you, folks? Their reaction really took me by surprise.  In a good way.

All right, well. I have a lot of writing and editing to do around here for the next several days, so I have to get at it. Smashwords informed me this week that an eBook I published a century ago (The Muse Revisited, Volume One) indicated that it was in fact only one volume in a series and they were curious where the rest of the series was, and that it had to be re-categorized in the “Series” section, posthaste. And so it occurred to me that Volumes Two & Three really should have been published ages ago. They’re just collections of previously published stories, hence it’s really sort of a no-brainer type of project. So I’m trying to get those books up and published in the next few days.

Then, I am totally re-writing the Miracle Cats. This is the mystery series that I’m writing and that my friend, Val in Brooklyn, is illustrating. We began the project close to 3 years ago, when suddenly everyone in her family began dying and then a couple of my cats and a few of her cats, died, too, and then I moved, twice, so we were just not able to emotionally revisit the whole project until now.

But, revisit it we are, in fact, doing. And it’s become almost a whole new book. So that’s really cool.

Oh, before I close this post, I wanted to say that I’ve been reading a bit of history about this village I now live in here in the Hinterlands and I discovered that the railroad train that passes –yes– practically inside my house, was built in 1855, and that it runs on “a diagonal through the town.” Yes, that would be the very same railroad train! It was sort of cool to know that the train has been passing by this very house for 46 years before the house was even built. Knowing that made me feel really connected to all the people who have ever lived here before me in the last 117 years. I can’t tell you how much I love this place; the house and the old town.  It just keeps getting better and better.

The train! As seen from the kitchen porch.

All righty! As always, thanks for visiting, gang. See ya!

Holiday Weekend

For those of us living State-side, this past weekend was a national holiday.  When I was growing up, it was called Decoration Day because you decorated grave sites with flowers on that day, and it  was always on May 30th. It has since been more formally known as Memorial Day and it now falls on the last Monday in May, giving us the first 3-day weekend to officially kick off the summer.

Memorial Day weekend is when I usually go buy my summer flowers for the flower pots, because everyone’s got the flowers on sale. And this Memorial Day weekend was no different!

Well, the only difference being that I seemed to have trekked off to the store with only half my brain this time because I came home with a car chock full of petunias that I didn’t realize I’d bought…

I wanted a ton of impatiens for the front of the house because it not only faces north but also has that enormous maple tree to contend with, so the flowerbeds in front get no sun, and impatiens do really well in no sun.  Well, I only wound up buying half a ton of impatiens, because I’d accidentally bought all those petunias.

But I made do. And I also decided not to plant any impatiens in the actual flowerbeds in front because I think the beds need better soil and I wasn’t prepared to go to all that expense this year. So they are only in flower boxes (along with begonias):

While I had hoped to have lots more impatiens on the front porch than I wound up with, you’ll note that I tried to cleverly conceal as much of the cracking cement as I could with the flowers I had. I’m hoping to get the cement repaired this summer, but I’m not positive if I will.  I’ve got such a long list of outside repairs.

You’ll also note just how close the front of my house is to the street. The window behind St. Francis there looks in on my family room. (If you click on the photos, it gets larger.) The front door apparently hasn’t been opened in, literally, decades. It’s been painted shut many times over. At first, I thought I would want to get that front door opened and put up a new screen door, but then I realized it is really close to the street. Anyone walking by on the sidewalk is basically in my family room. So now I know why no one bothered to open that door all these years.

It’s a really cool old door though. The door, the iron door knob, and the inside lock appear to be original to the house, making them all 117 years old. The inside lock is a big old iron hook & eye thing. Too cool.

Anyway, here’s the side porch! The plethora of accidental petunias are in flower boxes down there at the front of the porch step.

The sagging gutter is where the starling built her nest. I think she had 3 babies. It was quite a busy & noisy affair for awhile there. But the birds flew the nest just a couple days ago and so all is silent again.

I was actually taking these photos for a friend in Brooklyn, who wanted to see more photos of the house, so I’ll regale you with a few more pictures.

The guest room, with Francis!

Her nickname is Peanut, because she’s as cute as one and is teeny tiny. The table is there so that many cats can conveniently perch there at once and look out the window!

And now,  3 shots of my sanctuary!!

My bedroom! Complete with stain on carpet that came with the house!
The wall next to the bed there was where the old coal-burning fireplace was a long, long time ago. It’s plastered over now.
My desk is at the foot of the bed.

Long-time readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that this desk has been appearing on my many blogs and on my various websites since 1998. The desk is actually 37 years old. It was a wedding gift to me from my first husband. He bought it from a small furniture store on 8th Avenue, where everything in the store was handmade, from pine.

When we got married, we lived on the corner of W.45th Street and 8th Avenue, in the Camelot Building in Manhattan’s theater district. I used to sit at that desk and type on my IBM Selectric typewriter, and look out over the gay hustler bars that were on the opposite corner of 8th Avenue back then. I bought the Selectric at a pawn shop, also on 8th Avenue, and thought it was the absolute coolest thing!

I always just assumed that I would buy a bigger, more professional desk at some point.  Especially in the late 90s, when desktop computers were enormous and took up the whole desk.  But the years went on, and I wrote 5 novels, edited 7 anthologies, wrote 4 or 5 novellas, about 100 short stories, 3 TV pilots, and countless essays, blog posts, letters, etc., at this very small desk!

I’m closing in on 60 years old, gang. I’m getting the feeling this will be my Forever Desk… Ah well. It works.

Okay, gang! It’s hot as blazes out here in the Hinterlands today.  I’m planning on staying inside for most of the day, working on story notes for The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport.  Then, at some point, I’ll probably just collapse from the heat and stare into space.  What could be better?

I leave you with this. I was playing it really loud in the car the other day and having a ball. I hadn’t heard this song in probably 20 years! And I suddenly realized that the chorus somehow became the story of my life — I don’t have TV anymore, I don’t read newspapers, I became a non-denominational ordained minister, moved to the country, planted a garden, etc., etc. I highly recommend it, folks! It worked for me…

Okay. See ya! Thanks for visiting!

I’m Unpacked!

Yay! For the first time in about 2 years, I have access to all my books, my movies, my music, my clothes, my dishes, my art. You name it! It if belongs to me, I can now see it again.

In my many years of being in limbo (loyal readers of this lofty blog will no doubt recall that for the past 6 years or so, I was planning on moving back to New York. So, even while my possessions were only in storage for about 2 years, my whole life has been in limbo for longer than that). Anyway.

I noticed while I was living in that rented house, without access to 95% of my stuff, that I was in fact able to survive without 95% of my stuff… I contemplated renting a dumpster and throwing it all away, sight unseen. Lightening the load of my life, my past, what have you. If I could survive without it, did I really need it?

Yet, now that I’m in this really wonderful old house with its wonderful old barn out back, in this indescribably tiny village that has been here for over 200 years and which most people have never ever heard of; and now that all my stuff is unpacked, I realized how much I now enjoy having my identity back! OMG! I’m so glad I didn’t throw it away. All my books. My records and CDs, my collection of movies. Photos , mementos. All these things I love have now been sort of returned to my identity. And I feel like I’ve returned to myself. Like I’m finally really home since leaving New York.

When I moved from New York City, and also when I was planning on moving back there, I did indeed throw away a lot of stuff and gave a ton of stuff to various charities. I didn’t just simply hang on to everything. And the outcome of that is that what I did save over the years were things that I didn’t want to part with, regardless of the lack of storage space in some of the places where I’ve lived. So it really was an “OMG” moment (or many moments,) as I was unpacking box after box after box of things I hadn’t seen in such a long time. So many things that I really loved, that added to who I became throughout my (seemingly endless) long, long life.

I’m also exhausted. But starting Monday, I must get back into my daily writing routine. (Which, I’m hoping, might actually feel good! We shall see!) As loyal readers know, I am way behind schedule in completing a ton of projects.  But now all I have left is the rest of my life to just sort of create in. (And while I’m perfectly happy to live here alone, I am also hoping that people will come visit so that I can entertain again. My dining room is so pretty. It feels straight out of 1918 or something like that…)

Also, the cats have adjusted beautifully to their new home. They really seem frisky and happy and totally cool with their new surroundings.

In honor of having all my music back in my life, I bought a really cool Crosley entertainment thingy. It plays records, CDs, cassettes, has an AM/FM radio, and a bluetooth adapter.

It looks like this. It’s too freakin’ pretty!

It’s on a stand that looks like this:

Put them both together, and it is just like living in yesteryear. All righty!

So, have a happy Saturday, wherever you are in the world! Thanks for visiting, gang! See ya!

 

Happy St. Paddy’s Day from the Hinterlands!

Yes! I am all moved in! Only need another 6 months to complete the unpacking…

I’m exhausted, gang, but I couldn’t be happier with my new (extremely old) house! And I am so excited that I decided not to have the garage/barn/shed thingy torn down (see post below somewhere that has photos). My guy-friend came out on Wednesday to take measurements for the new roof and it was the first time I actually went inside the old building and it was indeed a barn at one point. In fact, it was built (in 1910) as a horse-drawn buggy barn. One half of the “garage” was the horse’s stall, and the other side, which we plan on turning into a gardening shed, was where the buggy was stored. Right down the middle, is a wall with one of those half-doors in it for feeding the horse.

Like this, only 108 years older…

It is SO COOL! And it was so well constructed. The roof needs replacing because an enormous maple tree fell on it, but the actual building sustained no damage at all.  It is just too cool. I can’t wait until it’s fixed up. I will regale you with photos!

The village is great. It is TINY. The church (according to google maps) is 417 feet away from my new house –yes, I can easily see it. Yes, it’s that close. The church has been active for 200 years! And they still ring their church bells on Sunday mornings. (I’m guessing they will also ring on Christmas Day!)

Between the train going by, and the church bells ringing, and the birds, the trees, the rolling hills on the far horizon, and the BAZILLION stars at night, I simply could not be happier.

Unfortunately, I still have a ton of unpacking to do, so I can’t tarry here on the blog. But I do want to mention that not only is it St. Paddy’s Day today, but also the birthday of my many cats!! The three parents are 7, and the “kittens” are 6 years young today.

Happy birthday to my many cats!!

They all survived the traumatic move. I am so glad that part is over, gang. It’s horrible, trying to relocate a colony of semi-feral cats. I could not have accomplished it without my good & patient (and very much scratched and gouged) friend, Diane. But it’s done and now we can stay put for a really long time. (And, as I predicted, the cats LOVE the 22 windows in this old house!!)

Okay. Gotta scoot. Thanks for visiting, folks. Have a really fun (and safe — for instance, don’t drink & drive because I can NOT afford to post your bail!!) St. Paddy’s Day, wherever you are. See ya!

The Thrill of it All!

Now, refresh my memory, gang; is there anything on earth more exhilarating than packing up to move to a new house??? (Please. Don’t say “bungee jumping”. Let’s keep this in the realm of things I’m actually likely to do.)

The thrill of packing!

Even though I hate packing, this time is not quite as mind-bogglingly tedious  as other times since I never really unpacked from the last move, a year and a half ago. I only need to pack dishes, clothes, sheets & towels, some books, and the medicine cabinet stuff.

However. Lest we forget…

6 of the 8 critters who travel with me!

…I live with 8 semi-feral cats who basically refuse to be touched and/or get into their cages, regardless of the imperativeness of the circumstances! [Note to readers: Do not use “imperativeness” while conversing at dinner parties or at other socially crucial events because it is not really a word and you will likely be laughed at and humiliated! — Ed.]

Anyway, all is actually going pretty smoothly with the moving arrangements, except for the stress of knowing I have to move these 8 little creatures. I brought the 8 cages out of storage and set them around the living room, to help them at least get used to the sight of them, and a couple of the cats are so scared of the cages that they won’t come out from under the recliner… The last move was truly traumatizing for all of us.

But we’ve still got 10 days! 10 days of positive thinking! 10 days of affirmations! 10 days of creatively visualizing 8 semi-feral cats happily arriving at their new home! And I’m off now to make sacrificial offerings to the Goddess of Semi-Feral Cats, in the event She can intervene on our humble behalf!  (It doesn’t hurt to approach it from every conceivable angle…)

All righty!

Have a wonder-filled Friday, wherever you are, gang! And have a terrific weekend. Thanks for visiting! See ya.

 

 

The Birds have Returned!

Yes! As the song says, “It might as well be spring!”

It began over the weekend, when I noticed that tons of robins had arrived in all the yards. And, in the air, a bit of chirping. And then, this morning, with the bedroom window open at around 6am, the full-on, merry serenade of bird songs!

The cats, naturally, were crowded around the open window, transfixed by the singing. The temperature had reached 77 here yesterday, so, between the lovely weather and the birds once more singing at dawn, the cats have been completely bamboozled into thinking it’s spring!

But au contraire… The temperatures are set to plummet back down to the February range later today.  But it always feels so good to get that early reminder of how the world feels in spring, doesn’t it, gang?

Okay.

First of all, a belated thank you to those of you who have been signing up for my non-appearing newsletter. Once I finally move, unpack, and get settled into an actual life again, the newsletter will resume! Probably only quarterly, for now.  I’ve got too many backlogged writing projects for there too be much news to report for awhile.

You know, I have these grand dreams of “life after the move,” wherein I will immediately return to my normal writing schedule, as well as do things like get up-to-date  on all the various work-related weekly podcasts I subscribe to — mostly writing, publishing, and stagecraft podcasts, but a few thrown in that I simply enjoy listening to. For example, The 1600 Sessions, by the White House Historical Association.  Or LeVar Burton Reads. Or the Joel Osteen weekly sermon. Or Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast (really super funny but not for the faint of heart.)

Honestly, how on earth do we find time to keep up with everything anymore? There is just way too much stuff vying for our attention. I realize that everybody already knows this, but sometimes it is simply staggering to consider just how much we are trying to take in — and this is one of the reasons that I am truly excited about my upcoming move deeper into the Hinterlands.

The little village I’m moving to has: a police station, a fire station, a post office, a diner, a gas station, 2 churches, a Family Dollar, a Dairy Queen, a mini storage, a couple of beauty salons, and that’s it. Seriously. Nothing else but a handful of people and a whole bunch of stuff that God created — i.e., trees, birds, flowers, animals, seemingly endless hills and rolling fields, and sky and stars. (And one road leading in and out of town that is named after the High School football team from the early 1900s! The High School itself has long since been torn down.)

The only real distraction is going to be the darned Internet, folks, so I’m hoping to use it productively because I have a ton of writing projects piling up. Mostly re-writes of projects in various stages of development for stage and TV, but there are a couple of books I also want to write just for my own enjoyment…

That said, though, I am currently addicted to the old Phil Harris – Alice Faye Radio Program from the late 1940s-early 1950s (on youtube). It is so funny. I love Phil Harris. And The Detectorists, a BBC TV series written by/starring Mackenzie Crook, that is so charming, sweet, funny, wry, delightful.

And when I’m not zoning out on those 2 things and a nice bottle of French red, I’m up to my eyeballs with packing, and still doing a TON of paperwork re: the mortgage and the upcoming move.  I really, really, really need the future to become the present, gang, as quickly as possible, so if you have any pull in that area, I would appreciate your helping me out! It is so many months already that I’ve been dealing with this move.

All righty!

And that said, I need to get cracking around here because I have to drive deep into the Hinterlands here soon to inspect the repairs that were done to the new house and make sure we are ready for closing (which is supposed to be next week, however, the lender informed me yesterday that if she doesn’t get the title survey by, like, today, the chances we are closing next week are “slim to none.” Ay caramba!!! Don’t tell me that!! The truck & movers are already scheduled!!)

Aaaaarrrgh!!!!

Anyway, gang. The stress continues. But the end is in sight. I hope you have a relatively stress-free Wednesday, wherever you are and with whatever you’re doing. I leave you with this awesome stress-breaker! Give it a listen if you’ve never heard it before! It will get you bopping!

Okay, thanks for visiting, folks! See ya!