Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last Christmas

Christmas this year in southern Alberta was a white one. There wasn’t too much snow, but enough to make the scene rather pretty. The temperatures dropped as well, however, so that wasn’t as attractive an aspect. But it made my last Yuletide in the house rather nice, I think, and gave me and the cats something to look at for the last time through the big windows.

Creature of Habit

Cats are creatures of habit, perhaps to a greater extent than many others. During the move, my beasts’ world was thrown into a bit of turmoil, though not as much as I expected, thank goodness. They navigated around the boxes and coped with the loss of beds and toys. Sometimes they coped in strange ways.

The heated cat-beds had been placed on cardboard boxes. This kept them off the cold floor and provided a bit of spring. I decided to wash the beds before moving and, once they were washed and dried, did not replace them, as we would be vacating the house the next day. This did not suit Josie.

My Chubs was going to enjoy those cat-beds whether they were there or not. She lie on one box, then went to the other. She stayed for about half an hour. She’s stubborn and probably thought she could intimidate me into returning them. Alas, conditions were not in her favour. But I admire her spirit.

Out of the Old, Into the New

The move is over. I must still go and clean the house - I thought of hiring someone for it, but the season has apparently been very busy for the trade, and no one is available until after the house’s possession date - but other than that, I have left the old residence behind.

The move itself was accomplished as well as such moves can be. The company that did it was quick, and co-operative. The three young men kept calling me ‘sir’, which made me think that either they were very respectful or they thought I was old. I like to think they were respectful.

I won’t publish just yet any pictures showing much of the apartment. Right now, there is still a great deal of unpacking to achieve, so it looks like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. But I can show you the cats.

I kept them in a spare room of the house until everything was taken over to the new apartment, and then transported them there. They were very curious about the new place and all the boxes strewn about. Tucker and Renn slunk about ‘like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime’ (in the words of Al Stewart’s aptly-named “Year of the Cat”), but by the evening were purring as per normal. Tucker accepted his insulin dosage easily and without fuss. Cammie had been getting on the bed more often just before the move, even with other beasts already there, and seems to be continuing that trend now. The first picture below is from the old house (note the gutted chest of drawers), while the second picture is from the new apartment. 

Josie, meanwhile, seemed to adjust the most swiftly, and quickly checked out what may be seen from the newly-placed tallest cat-tree. Alas, the views obtained from the new home are not as good as those in the previous, but there may still be something of interest for an observant feline.

I will publish more stories today, but my internet is not yet connected, so I must use an alternate computer on which to publish. I will describe some things that I have been saving, so the following few posts look back. When the unpacking is complete in the new apartment, I will take you forward.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Christmas, Everyone!

I may not be publishing anything between now and the new year, due to the move to the new residence.  But I did manage to make a Christmas card, and am displaying its outside front and inside below.

Though I probably won’t be putting anything on the blog until I and the beasts have changed homes, I hope still to comment on others’ blogs, and will certainly be reading them. In any case, I want to wish everyone a very jolly and warm Christmas, a safe and happy one with family and friends, be they human or animal; and the best possible start to the best possible new year. I’ll see you in 2016.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Looking Forward to a Moving Experience

Moving is an inconvenience on many levels. Having to find enough boxes to contain all the belongings you have somehow accumulated; finding a moving company; having to live ad hoc for weeks while coping with an ever-changing topography due to heavy boxes and furniture in different places each day, and having to be ready for the actual day of transport.

However, the end is in sight. My planned day of moving is December 30th. The movers will arrive between nine and nine-thirty that morning and, hopefully, have most of my belongings carted over to the apartment by mid-afternoon. The estimate is for three to five hours. That’s not a good estimate but it gives me the worst - or, rather, the most expensive - scenario. I will be moving some of my property in a rented van tomorrow, and probably after the move, as well. That will save on some moving time and, consequently, money. I am taking the day off on the 30th, so as to be on top of the move. Or as much as I can be.

I must say that I am looking forward to getting into the new home. Now that everything is topsy turvy with moving and packing and sorting and sifting, I want it to end and for all to be back to normal. There will be a slightly different normal because of the new residence, but, by the new year, the process will have begun.

I am, as I did five years ago, using the change of location to shed some items that are unwanted or unneeded. That never results in enough being let go, I find, as there is always some excuse - and discouragingly often, a good excuse - to retain an item. But I have less space in which to store or display belongings this time, so things must go.

In any case, there are four items that I will definitely be taking to the new apartment with me, as it would simply not seem like a home without them.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Josie at Square One

Josie’s visit to the veterinary hospital was inconclusive (read: waste of money). A sample was taken of the lump and, though it showed nothing harmful, the doctor informed me that it may simply have been that not enough material was gathered in the procedure. I could take my Chubs back for a second sampling, but that may yield just as little.

She does need a dental. Her mouth is not as bad as Tucker’s, which has been left untreated because of his diabetes, but it needs work, too. So, once I and the beasts are established in the new residence, I will make an appointment to have Josie’s teeth and gums seen to and, simultaneously, have the lump removed. I will have it sent away for analysis; that will cost extra, but I will save something in having two surgeries performed at one time. This is the theory. But I want to know if the nodule has been produced by anything sinister.

Josie does not seem to be in any discomfort. She is eating well, purring a great deal and enjoying her spots at the window and in a heated cat-bed. She also has her spot very close to my head at night, on the bed. She likes to occupy the location whether I am facing her or not. With my Chubs pinning the bedclothes down on one side, and Renn on the other, it makes for a tight fit. But I’d rather have the beasts with me than anywhere else.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Rare Visit of Josie to the Hospital

Josie rarely has medical problems, or at least medical problems that I know about. She doesn’t face crises, such as Tucker, nor does she feel poorly as much Cammie. My Chubs does have a sensitive stomach and regurgitates her food now and then, but in the seven years she has been with me, she has given few signs of a need to visit the veterinarian.

Now, however, I have noticed a small nodule on her face, at the rear of the right side of the jaw. It is about the size of a pea, and rather hard. It may be a harmless cyst; it does not appear to be causing the Great White any distress. She is eating well - as long as I give her flavours that she likes - and not favouring soft food over hard, so I don’t believe she is suffering difficulty in chewing. Even so, I thought it best to have her examined by a doctor.

As well, Josie’s breath is starting to smell a bit and she may need a dental procedure. I will have that considered, too. Tucker’s breath is growing worse, I can mention while I am on the topic. It was when I took him in about a possible dental that his diabetes was discovered. It was thought better to stabilise his insulin dosages before any surgery was conducted. I will talk to the doctor about the possibility of scheduling that now.

Also, I will bring Cammie in to the hospital with Josie, to have her claws cut. I can hear her clicking throughout the house.

Complicating medical matters is the fact that the veterinarian I was consulting has moved. This is the second of my animals’ doctors who has left the hospital for other locations. I will be trying a new doctor on this visit, and will need to have her apprised of Tucker’s condition and history.

Now that the sale of my house is assured, I can schedule such appointments for the beasts, knowing that I will have the money to pay for them. It is a weight off my mind. Now, if the cats’ health will reflect my optimistic domestic arrangements, the year will end better than it began.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Sign of My Times

The house is sold. The buyer’s realtor put up the ‘sold’ sign on Friday, so I suppose the deal is done. I won’t feel entirely secure until after the possession date, which is January 15th, and my share of the purchase price (after the mortgage is paid off, the realtor is given his commission and the lawyer gets a bit) is given to me. I think I will have something like $27.35. Well, perhaps a bit more. I think there will be a small amount for emergencies, which will be handy.

Now comes the next hardest part: moving. I have a month to do it, but that is a relatively short time considering all the packing to be done. The cats will have to undergo more disruption, with boxes all over the house and objects disappearing from shelves. And then the shelves disappearing. When the day of the move arrives, I will arrange for the beasts to go into one room from which everything will have already been cleared. They will then be taken to the new apartment after nothing else has to be transported. That’s the plan, anyway.

I would like to thank everyone for their best wishes over the last few weeks. Still, nothing will feel right until after I vacate the house and am installed with the cats in the new apartment, and nothing else will get done until then, I suspect. But it’s only a month away, so life will be settled soon. It’s only a month away, so I’d be better get busy.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

An Inspector Calls

My title refers not to the Priestley play, nor to the 1954 film adaptation starring the incomparable Alastair Sim. Indeed, there no indication meant of any sort of police officer. No, the reference is instead to a building inspector. I don’t know what he looks like, so he could very well resemble Sim.

I received an offer on my house earlier in the week. The offer is conditional upon a building inspection being made. I expected one to be conducted, so this did not perturb me. The examination was completed yesterday. It took two hours and, since it ended late in the afternoon (at five o’clock), I was not apprised of the results at the time. I still have not. I was told that the news would come in ‘the next few days’. I will call my realtor and inquire this afternoon.

Needless to say, I am anxious concerning the outcome. An inspection was completed when I moved into the house five years ago and though nothing disastrous has occurred in the interval, there is the chance that something may have happened unnoticed that will derange the deal. If there is nothing major, however, I and the cats will be leaving this house within the month.

Where, you may be wondering, did the beasts go while the inspector was poking and prodding my property? I didn’t want to leave them in the house. This would not be a visit like a realtor conducting a potential buyer through the rooms. Nor would it be similar to an open house. The inspector would be leaving doors open everywhere and I did not feel that it was wise possibly to antagonise him by leaving notes about putting the onus of my pets’ safety on him. Mainly, I was worried about the cats.

In anticipation of selling the house, I had already rented an apartment. I can afford to do this only for a month, but I believe it is worth it. As I may have written in this blog previously, the chances of finding a truly pet-friendly rented residence in my town are slender. Those landlords who call themselves pet-friendly actually fine pet-owners at least $250 per pet. I did not want to give up $1,000 to greed. Besides, the apartment I chose is comfortable, safe and conveniently located.

Anyway, it is empty but available. So the cats stayed there for several hours yesterday afternoon, accompanied by a friend from the rescue-group to which I belong. This allowed the inspection to be completed on time and without interference - and without worry on my part. At least not worry about the cats.

So now I wait for the word on the inspection. If it is satisfactory, then plans will be laid for my move. It will make for a hectic Christmas season, to which I do not look forward with relish. But once the beasts and I are settled in our new home, a new year will have begun, and, hopefully, a better one than that which has passed.

Monday, December 7, 2015

An Interesting Day at Home

I had another ‘open house’ this weekend, in my continuing attempts to sell my house. It was a different kind of open house, however. Before the event, I wanted to confirm it with the realtor, and found to my surprise that the open house is scheduled for next Sunday - he had not put the ad in the appropriate places by the deadline, though he had five days to do it. This put me in a quandary, as I had advertised on Facebook and Kijiji that the event would be this Sunday (yesterday). I figured people might show up based on that. So I called my realtor and asked if there would be a problem with me hosting the open house, if he was not scheduled to do so. He acquiesced and so I got ready to receive any visitors.

It turned out well. There were five parties, three couples and two singles. Two seemed promising. I liked that I was able to answer the questions they had about the house and the neighbourhood, and at least one of them expressed satisfaction at being able to meet the owner. It occurred to me that having the owner present might be an advantage, as he would know much more about the house than the realtor, and would give the viewing a more personal aspect.

I had designed a colour brochure about the house and was able to print off some copies to give to the viewers. As a friend of mine pointed out, there should be something that the viewers can take with them, to keep the house in their minds and differentiate it from others that they may see that same day.

But of course my real worry was over the cats. I felt that with me still present, I did not have to confine them in the spare room downstairs; I simply had to watch the doors to the outside. I need not have been concerned. Three of them spent the two hours of the open house in the bedroom. Cammie was the big surprise. This cat who frequently hurries under the kitchen sink or the bed when strangers arrive remained out and about the whole time. She watched people walk by, she sniffed their shoes, she looked out the window. She was curious about the doors when they opened, but I think that was more an attraction to the fresh air and smells coming in. I was quite proud of my princess.

Renn stayed on the cat-tree by the bedroom window, while Josie was largely apathetic on the bed. Tucker spent the time under the bed. Strangely enough, with about fifteen minutes remaining in the open house’s schedule, all of the beasts came out and circulated in the building, as if they were sure there would be no more visitors. Nor were there.

Now, paws crossed that the day will produce some results.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Best Defence

Having successfully placed a video on my blog on Monday, I’ve decided to place another. I had included a video years ago; it showed Tungsten playing, back when she was still spry and limber, or relatively so, though she was twelve at the time. I could not replicate the placement of that video with others; I don’t know why. But I have lately found a way of reducing the size of a file without destroying the image. Thus, I have videos to show you.

This second of the week is actually an old one, from a couple of years ago. Cammie was relatively new to the household, but she was already possessive of the place. Witness the consternation she and Renn suffer at the appearance of another cat outside the window. To be honest, I think the stranger just wanted to be friends.

You will have to turn your heads sideways at some point. I apologise for that but, though I have discovered how to place videos here, I haven’t figured out how to right them when I tilt the camera during filming…

It's on YouTube, as well. Search under "John Bellen".

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Brush with Something Different

I’d like to thank everyone for their thoughts and best wishes regarding Cammie during last week’s bout of ill health. She is eating (more on that below). She is, however, sick again. This time, she has caught a bit of a cold. This is less serious, I think, than what she had; it is probably making her feel miserable but is very likely not dangerous. She has a snotty nose and is sneezing, but she is hungry and she is keeping her food down.

She has, in fact, decided that she likes another kind of food. She loves her Fancy Feast, despite my continued attempts to have her try something else. For years, she has favoured the ‘ocean whitefish and tuna’ variety. She has, in the past week, wanted little of it. I had, however, opened a tin of ‘seafood feast’, which Renn likes for the time being. I gave some to the princess, and she gulped it right down. The ingredients are sketchy: ‘ocean fish’ is the first in the list. I believe that may cover about four hundred thousand different species of marine life. Anyway, she is eating it, and it is giving her a bit of variety.

Cammie has done something else new. Last night, she allowed me to brush her. Previously, she had hissed at the very smell of the brush. Perhaps now, with a clogged nose, she can’t sniff the scent of other cats on the implement. The other three perma-cats loved their long brushing session yesterday, so I thought I’d attempt it with Cammie. Lo, she permitted about a minute and a half of brushing. As her cold subsides and her sense of smell returns, she may hiss again at the brush, but I will push my luck in that regard until she does.

The third interesting thing about the princess is her reaction to a new house-viewing. Once again, she had to go to the spare room, along with her roommates. She had ensconced herself in the downstairs cylinder cat-tree. Instead of prying her out of there, I simply pushed the cat-tree into the spare room; Cammie remained in it. Once in the spare room, though, I opened the door of her cage, and down she climbed; she walked into the cage without a fuss.

Are these deviations of character due to a foggy head induced by her cold? Are they permanent? I don’t know the answers, but I do know that Cammie keeps things interesting around the household.