Tag Archives: cats

Suspicious Minds

You know that the world’s going to Hades in a hand basket when a sad story, such as the one broadcast all over mainstream media today, leaves people feeling so mixed up. Or is it just me? A woman in Nova Scotia drowned a couple of kittens last summer and got fined $5.00 for it in court today. Yeah, yeah…this initial ‘teaser’ lead bit on the radio leaves you thinking…”You crazy, sadistic b..tch! They should drown YOU”. Then, you hear the sad flip-side of the story; she fed a stray cat, fed it some more (The Cat Came Back is the song that comes to mind- Harry S. Miller 1893), and bing, bang…she’s got one cat+2 kittens… She’s poor, can’t get help from her town’s officials, and decides to euthanize the kitties in a bucket. Groan. Of course, Suspicious Minds (written by Memphis songwriter, Mark James and the last #1 hit for Elvis Presley in 1969- his last) like mine ask, ‘What cat has only two kittens’!? Maybe she lied about THAT too…and actually drowned a litter of 14. Not that it matters much, they’re all dead, regardless. But NOW, the SPCA is crying foul. They want “BIG FINES AND JAIL TIME”! said their head mouthpiece with emotion. My question? Where were you guys when this nutty, albeit well intentioned stray-cat-feeding woman was busy phoning around, trying to find someone to off the felines? Sure, “dangerous precedents are being set”, yada, yada, but NOW you’re worried that everyone is going to think it’s OK to euthanize Fluffo ’cause it’ll only cost five bucks instead of the usual $179.00 at the vet? Sigh. Then, the legal beagle for this woman (gotta be legal aid lawyer) said a bunch of really stupid things (he compared his client’s action against that of the person “who hanged that dog in Point Pleasant Park” …I can do without hearing that sort of thing). It did not endear me to the situation or to this woman…still…she’s poor…she loves the animals…a regular Doctor Doolittle ….who simply done too much. “We’re caught in a trap….”

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Help Me! I’m Being Gassed!

People sometimes say that dogs smell bad. They even say I smell funky once in a while,  but no one has ever experienced a smell (BIG STINK) like I have. Lucy the cat  gasses me and mum whenever she poops in the litter box. It’s absolutely toxic! That feline is polluted. Mum sings “Smelly Cat” (from Phoebe Buffet’s rendition on Friends….the most current pop TV reference she can muster ’cause mum gave the TV away) and sounds like she MEANS it…like she shares my pain. Do you think Lucy ate a really old, dead gopher?  Are her insides rotting out?  Is she just doing it for attention? Or because she doesn’t get to go outside like me? Is she working on a secret weapon for a third world country that can’t afford a real bomb? If anyone knows why Lucy’s trips to the litter box smell so bad, please write to mum. She doesn’t want to get up in the middle of the night to scoop the box anymore.

Message to Opal and Lucy (our cat)

Now hear this Opal and  Lucy! When mum goes into the bathroom and shuts the door, it means I want PRIVACY!  I can not escape out a secret passageway. Trust me, I am not  doing anything particularly interesting.  Poking the door with your noses to see what’s going on, is NOT necessary. Lucy, I promise not to eat your food while I’m in there. I know you will not die of starvation while I am taking a bath. I’ll be in there 15 minutes tops.  There is no party going on and there is no one else with me. I do not require assistance from either of you. I am not in danger of drowning or flushing myself down the toilet. Thank you for your co operation.

A Sobering Reminder

Yesterday, my sweetie’s apartment building went up in flames. Luckily, no one was injured. However, 70 residents (mostly elderly) are without a home until further notice.  My Significant Other heard the fire alarm go off and went outdoors to investigate. This building is prone to false alarms.  In the minutes that L stepped out of the building people started to stream out. The fire department arrived simultaneously, The story is that  the apartment nearest the fire triggered the smoke detector. It was unoccupied at the time. However, a tenant heard the endless buzzing and summoned the super.  He entered the apartment and faced a blaze, and yelled for the tenant to pull the fire alarm and call the fire department. My sweetie called (from a stranger’s cell phone) to give me the news. Standing in shock, without a jacket, ID, keys, or Meerah the cat, L was not allowed to return into the building.  Most residents were housed by the Red Cross at a local arena.  Meerah? L was told that all cats would be collected by the SPCA’s staff, once the fire fighters declared it safe, with the most vulnerable (nearest the danger)  being rescued first.  Dazed and without a worldly possession,  L learned this morning  that little Meerah had been rescued last night,  then taken to the SPCA  Emergency shelter until morning, then transferred to a vet across town for examination. The cat was treated for dehydration and returned to the SPCA shelter where she remains with the other rescued cats until further notice.  A friend of ours who lives in the same building and who was also forced to leave her cat behind, learned, to her horror this morning that somehow her cat was not in the apartment when the SPCA rescue team went in to find her.

Last week, L checked my smoke detector when I complained that it should have gone off after I dropped food on the stove’s burner and did not.  L urged me to report it. I did so quickly (I am the ultra-prepared person when it comes to potential disaster). My big mistake, was not insisting that it be checked immediately by an electrician. So, today, after my seven thousand phone calls on L’s behalf (to the Insurance, the Red Cross, the SPCA, the EMO…) I picked up the receiver to make one more call; “come fix this thing today or I will call the fire Marshall”, I advised my landlord very forcefully. My defective smoke detector was taken away and a new one installed by an electrician within 1 hour.

There are some things too precious to conceive loosing,  including my animals’ lives and my own.  I urge you all to check your smoke alarms immediately. If you do not have a kit ready to take out your door when a fire alarm goes off, get one together. Include ID, medication, important numbers and papers…anything you would need to evacuate.  Have a plan to evacuate WITH your animals and be ready to do so any time the alarm goes. Know where the carrier is for your cat. Be ready to get it out quickly, loading it with the cat, gathering the bag and dog and getting  OUT.  Practice doing so until you can do it in your sleep.

Don’t Sit On the Cat! and Other Advice For Blind People

People ask me all sorts of questions about how I manage to do this,  that and the other thing. Here’s a sample: “How do you cook without burning yourself?”   “How do you know when your period has started?”   “How do you know if the lights are on or off?”  “Do you ever step/sit on the cat?”  “How do you know if the food in your ‘fridge is still good?”   “How do you know what bus to get on?” Sigh.  Frankly, I worry about the people that ask these questions. For their benefit, and that of those people with vision loss out there who haven’t quite ‘got it together’ yet, here are a few more tips.  Cooking is fun for me. Sure, it is a bit of a different process. I do not attempt to multi-task when cooking for safety reasons. It is one thing for a sighted person to roam away from a stove-top full of pots to make a phone call or balance their check book, but I like to stick with the task at hand. It is safer to be by the stove and avoid potential a disaster…like setting the kitchen ablaze and ruining dinner in the process. I use larger pots and pans than sighted people might.  This helps avoid overflow when things boil. I use fewer pots, preferring to make many recipes that can be made with one or two pots instead. I prepare ingredients beforehand so that they are ready to add when I need them. My experience as a chef comes in handy some days. I cook effortlessly for the most part. I seem to have an internal guidance system which helps me time things right; set water to boil in huge pot, chop garlic and vegies while waiting, cook pasta (keep lid off and metal spoon to stick in pot  handy to prevent ‘pasta eruptus’ on the stove), drain pasta (into large colander IN sink), put pot back on burner (no need to wash it), add olive oil and garlic (inhale deeply), add vegies in order of ‘cookability’.  OK, I just invented a word, so sue me. I refer to the vegies that take longer to cook, like carrots, celery, turnip… then  stir the cast iron pot (prevents any sticking and cooks evenly), add other vegies (like green beans, zucchini and tomatoes), add spices and minimal vegetable stock.  I  let it simmer for a while. When that’s cooked, I put the multigrain pasta into the mix and stir it up. Voila! I have a big honking pot of tasty, healthy pasta and vegies without need for fuss and 5 hours at the stove. I listen to my talking book or radio while I cook and clean up as I go. If I drop food on the floor,  two things happen; I immediately say “Leave It!” for Opal’s benefit, and then pick it up and toss. Some people find that long oven mitts helpful to avoid burns. I don’t bother, but then I have years of experience. You can buy them through assistive aids sites (like Maxi Aids.com). If I am chopping and need to set down my knife, I slip the blade under the cutting board, so when I come to look for it, there will be no gashed fingers to deal with. I also NEVER put knives or glass items in the sink. These are set aside or washed and put away immediately (Hey! I take blood thinners  and don’t want to spend my day at the ER).  About the funky food in the fridge (FFF). I keep a close ‘eye’ on the contents of my fridge, checking and using items regularly. Like with all my ‘stuff’, I keep items in assigned places in the fridge. I label containers of leftovers with a date, though normally, they are eaten within a couple of days or frozen for future use. When in doubt, I enlist someone with sight to scope out the quality of food (usually around the same time they look at my clothing for stains). 

Our cat, little Lucy is a chatty cat most of the time. That’s very helpful for us both. She learned very quickly when she came to live with me, that I can’t see her, and she needs to STAY OUT OF MY WAY!!  Once in a while, she goes incognito and silent (sheesh). You can put a bell on your pet’s collar. I always check the seat which my big butt is about to occupy. This is a good habit for blind people to get into. That way, you avoid sitting on your cat, dog, hairbrush, basket, aunt Mim etc. 

Independent living for a blind person is good and admirable. However, my wise advice? Don’t be an idiot! If you NEED help, ASK for it. Don’t waste your time and elevate your frustration level by worrying about stuff. If you are lost, listen for footsteps and ask the person attached to the legs where you are, or if they can get you  to a point you are familiar with. If you don’ know which bus has pulled up or when to get off it,  ask. If you need to find a washroom anywhere or want a clerk to find something in a store for you…ASK.   Ask with a strong voice, not like a timid mouse. Ask politely but with conviction. It’s OK. 

Lights on or off? check the switches routinely. Or, if you’re feeling wealthy, you can buy a talking light detector. And knowing if your period has arrived? Mercifully, I’m menopausal, but I do remember a time when I used my nose efficiently to detect the distinct odour of blood.

Brand New Day

The best part of going to bed at night, is the assurance that I will wake up to a new day and a fresh start.  No matter how horrible a day has been,  I can start a new one with the feeling that the day before has been erased.  A clean slate, Tabula Rosa and all that.   I woke this morning singing ‘Brand New Day’. Van Morrison does a better job, I am certain, however I felt the urge, given the day I had yesterday.

Yesterday, I woke at 4 am to the unmistakable sound of Lucy (our cat) vomiting.  Sigh. I got up and took care of my little calico. This involved cleaning up, cooking brown rice to settle her stomach and giving her fresh water (in Opal’s dish,  of course).  The radio news really put a spin on my mood too. It seems that a man was stabbed and decapitated  in an unprovoked attack by a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Alberta.  It’s been a violent week in this world.  Unitarian Universalists in Tennessee were killed in their church by a shooter who did not approve of our UU ‘liberal views’.  I mourn with my fellow congregants.  In local news,  a  bus driver was attacked on her bus by a man who tried to sexually assault her.

I thought that work might reset my mood. It did not. My computer coughed up a cyber hairball and refused to operate. The arthritis in my hands, neck and spine seemed intolerable.  Step out, I thought. I saddled Opal and off we went.  I am in desperate need of orthotics and new shoes. I know this because of the shooting pain in my feet as I walk. No wonder I’ve been so cranky lately! Opal and I went to purchase a small birthday gift for my sister at the mall. In Basket Emporium, we stood near the counter and waited for assistance. A shopper came into the store and exclaimed, “You’re beautiful!”.  Her comment was meant for Opal, of course.  I replied, “thanks, but I have a sweetie”.  She  did not seem to appreciate my humour.  It’s all about the dog some days. I just happen to be the woman attached to the end of Opal’s harness.  I hobbled home and prayed for the day to end. Mercifully, it did.

So, when I woke this morning, the promise of a better day was intoxicating and induced me to sing. I tried “A New Day has Begun”  (from Cats), but I could not recall the lyrics and it brought Celine Dion to mind, which is deffinitly not the way to start anyone’s day. I chose Van’s tune…”Brand New Day”.

“Please Release Me…”

If you’re as old as I am, you will remember the song written by Eddie Miller in 1946 that was popularized by Englebert Humperdinck in the 60’s… “Release Me”. However, if you are older, you may be more familiar with songs bearing the same title performed by Wilson Phillips or the Swedish group, Oh Laura. No matter. For my purposes, the tortured lyrics of all of those tunes do not have much bearing on this blog. Here’s what happened this morning that had Opal singing her OWN version.

It was 5 am when Opal gave me my daily wake-up kiss. I stumbled out of bed as I do 365 days a year and proceeded to don my clothes like a robot. We then went outside to give her the opportunity to relieve. The routine drill when we return to our apartment is for me to plug in the coffeemaker and to begin the much-anticipated activity of feeding the girls. Perhaps my zombie-like stupor was more pronounced than usual this morning. I managed to pick up Opal’s dish, go to the cupboard where the rubber tote filled with dog food is located, scoop a mug full of her kibble into the dish, add the warm water, set the dish down on her place mat, and…. walk away in a daze to deal with Lucy’s dietary needs. I gave Lucy her kibble ration in one bowl, a spoon-full of soft cat food in her tiny saucer and fresh water in her dish (all lined up neatly on her Christmas-theme place mat that is identical to Opal’s). Then I thought to myself, ‘ something is wrong here’. Opal was thinking that too. In fact the thought bubble over her head was singing ” Please release me…” Yes, I had forgotten to ‘release’ Opal to her food. There she sat, undoubtedly salivating and praying for me to come to my senses! It might seem harsh to train dogs to wait for permission before approaching their food, however this type of discipline does have its positive results. Dogs, particularly Guide dogs must understand the hierarchy in their ‘pack’. I am the leader of my pack. Opal knows that above all, she can depend on me as her leader, to be in charge, to care for her and to take care of business. (oops, I just squeezed two more references to stale songs; ‘Leader of the Pack’ by The Shangri-Las and “Taking Care of Business” by BTO) The moment I came to my senses and realized that Opal was waiting for me to release her to her food ration, I spoke the words that are always music to her ears…”Good girl, eat your breakfast”. I occasionally use a feeding ‘whistle’ to do the job, but that’s a bit much for my neighbours so early in the morning. You can bet that it doesn’t matter to Opal what means I use to ‘release’ her, as long as I do so eventually.