Sunday, November 1, 2015

What Duncan & Cesar Taught Me About Death

Written October 22, 2015

We're visiting Niagara Falls.  I don't know why, but I've been thinking a lot about Duncan, our feral cat, while we're here.  I remember how sick he was at the end, and I remember what Cesar Millan wrote about how animals accept death.  Duncan demonstrated this to me.  He used to come running to see me as soon as I unlocked the back door.  He'd gobble down his food and head butt me, looking for affection.  But in the last few days, he remained sitting, too weak to do much of anything.  He allowed me to use a baby wipe to stroke around his face.  I brought the food and water to him, but he didn't want it.  On the last day, when I went outside in the morning  I didn't see him.  I called and called.  No response.  I let Walter  out in the back yard, and he ran in circles around my friend's car which we'd parked in the back yard while she was traveling.   I figured Duncan must be there.  I looked but couldn't see him.  I got a flashlight to help me see better, and there he was.  Oh...

Wayne had gone fishing, and I wasn't sure who to call.  I'd need to move the car, but didn't want to back over Duncan.  I called my friend, Beverly, and sobbing, I told her, "Duncan's dead."  She said, "I'll be right there."  The day before, I'd asked Wayne to dig a hole because I figured Duncan's time was close.  

Beverly came with her husband, Tim, who's our minister, and still crying, I opened the front door and showed them where Duncan was.  Tim moved the car back carefully, and there was Duncan, sprawled out in death.  I couldn't stop crying. 

I'd put on gloves, and I picked up his lifeless body, laying it on a sheet.  I curled him so it looked as if he were sleeping.  I wrapped him up in the sheet and laid him in the hole.  Tim put his hand on mine, and Bev put her hand on my back.  Tim prayed, and I sobbed through the prayer.  We both put the dirt on Duncan and filled the hole, patting down the dirt.

I don't know why, in the midst of all the beauty of Niagara Falls, I keep seeing poor little Duncan's lifeless body.  He died three weeks ago on October 1st, so I'm probably still processing his death.  

Cesar said animals accept the natural order of life and death.  That's not to say they don't feel sad if their human dies.  I really do think animals feel emotions.  Duncan seemed resolute in his acceptance   He ate and drank until he didn't want to any more, and then he found a quiet spot to take his last breaths.

It still brings me to tears, but I appreciate what Duncan and Cesar taught me.  

Take care of those around you, and when it's their time, prepare yourself for what needs to be done.  Cry when you need to. Write about it, pray about it, talk about it, walk it out.  Eventually it will be your time.  We'll meet again on the other side.  Duncan just got there first.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Best Part of My Life

This morning, I slept until I woke up - no alarm clock woke me.  This is one of the best parts of being retired.  For more than 35 years, I woke up at 5:45 every morning, and probably hit the snooze button on my alarm clock every single day, and more than likely, hit it not just once, but several times.

There is such a pleasure in being relaxed in the morning and not having to rush around getting ready for work.  I padded in my fuzzy-socked feet to the kitchen to get my first cup of coffee.  Wayne left the creamer out for me so it's not cold when I pour it into my coffee, and the temperature is just right.  That pleases me, too.  I bring my coffee back to the bedroom and set it on the shelf of my headboard.  All four cats are either on the bed or the floor or the dresser, enjoying a lazy morning with me.  Then I get out my current book and read until I please.  

What could be better?

Right now, I'm reading Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson.  When the librarian called to tell me that the book I had requested had come in, I asked which one, and when he told me the title, I reacted with such delight, that he probably thought I was inordinately happy, or maybe he thought he'd better get on the waiting list to read this book, too.

I love this author.  Her first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, made me laugh so hard and so often, that my husband kept coming into the room where I was reading and asking, "What are you laughing about?"  I told him, "You just have to read this book."  The only other book I ever read that made me laugh this much is Dav Pilkey's The Adventures of Captain Underpants; actually the whole series is hysterical in a way that probably only third-grade boys would find funny, but that's my sense of humor sometimes.  I laughed so hard at those books, that the cats kept coming into the room to see what was going on.  

I don't remember how I found Lawson's book, but I loved it so much, I bought it to give to other people and insisted that they read it, too.  The cover has a picture of a little mouse in a cape, and if that's not intriguing enough, you're just not curious.  

Lawson's second book cover has a picture of a raccoon standing up with his arms held high, and the best smile you've ever seen.  Racoons are some of my favorite animals, so I knew I would love this book, and how could you not love the title, Furiously Happy?

(I love lots of other authors:  Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, Cassandra King, Anne Lamott, David Sosnowski, Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, just to name a very few.  I love to read and to listen to audiobooks.  I'm always amazed when people tell me they haven't read any books since high school.)

So, if you haven't made Jenny Lawson's acquaintance, I highly recommend reading her books.  They're funny, and they're serious, too.  Let me know what you think after you read them.... 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Favorite Time of the Day

I love the light at a certain time of the day.  I don't know the technical term for it, but this is what it looks like:

Momma Raccoon

It's been a nightly occurrence:  after the feral cats in the backyard eat, if there's any leftover food, the raccoons and possums finish the food, which starts Walter barking, warning us that there are dangerous wild animals threatening to kill us if we do not heed his alarm.  We tell Walter, "Good boy!  Thanks for letting us know!"  We look out the window and observe the critters.  It's always a good show.

For the past few nights, a small raccoon has been showing up, and we thought it was a youngster or at least a teen raccoon.  Well, she showed up with three babies in tow!

We had no idea she was a momma raccoon.  I love shows in my backyard!  


Whenever I see my cats focused on something, it's a signal to me that's there's something they're hunting.  That's how they let us know there was a snake in the house a few years back - another story for another time.  (Actually, there have been snakes in the house on three separate occasions.)

This is an example of what that looks like:

On this particular night, they were hunting a baby gecko.  The fact that it was a baby did not prevent me from screaming when I saw it.  I couldn't wait for Wayne to come rescue me from the monstrous baby gecko because the cats would have mauled the poor thing, and the next step would have been eating it!

I grabbed a paper towel and used it to grab the baby gecko and throw it outside.  Live, baby gecko!  And don't come back in the house!

Identifying the Bird Feeder Thief

Every morning, I wake up to find my bird feeder like this:

For weeks, I have been trying to find out who the culprit is.  Couldn't figure out if it was a raccoon or squirrels or what!

I finally found out and couldn't have been more surprised, although I don't know why, because one of them is on the patio almost every night, eating up the leftover cat food.  Here's who it was:
Yes, it's a possum!  

You know how possums play dead when you surprise them?  Well, it's pretty easy to take their picture when they freeze like that.  I got several photos of this little guy.
Mystery solved!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gulliver in the Land of the Furry Lilliputians With Tiny, Sharp Claws

Yesterday, I reported to the animal shelter to do whatever they needed me to do.  They told me they'd already done all the litter box changing, so I could help socialize the cats by playing with them.  Is there a more perfect job description?  There must have been at least 60 cats and kittens.  I tried counting but then gave up.  I took two furry tabby kittens to the play room, but after entertaining them for about ten minutes, I ended up just taking the cats out of their cages and playing with them in the same room.  After I had opened every cage and petted them while singing to them (I'm not sure if they really enjoyed that or were just trying to be polite - you just can't tell with cats), I ventured into the kitten room.  There were ten kittens: four yellow tigers, three black ones, two Siamese, and one gray kitty.  When I went into the room, all the kitties started climbing my legs, swarming my tennis shoes, and chewing on my shoelaces.  Then I sat down....I felt like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians.  The kitties jumped on my lap, my back, my arms, and my head, AND they started biting!  Their tiny, sharp claws were making me wish that my jeans were not mere denim, but something much stronger.  I felt teeth through my blue jeans and knew I would have all kinds of bite marks and scratches.  I exited the room and found one of the workers.  I told her, "If you have some nail clippers, I will cut all the kittens' claws."  Soon, I had to ask for a towel so I could wrap the kittens up burrito-style to keep them from biting me and squirming around while I was attempting to cut their little claws.  Believe it or not, I managed to cut all ten of the kittens' claws.

Maybe next week, I'll do something easy like taking one dog for a walk...

Monday, August 24, 2015

Aren't You Bored?

When I tell people I'm retired, the most frequently asked question is,"What do you do all day?" followed by, "Aren't you bored?"

I am flabbergasted that people would even ask me that.  I don't have time to be bored.  As the title of my blog reads:  retirement is the best job I ever had.  I love my life now.

Being bored is a luxury.  I have so many projects going on and so much to do.  Here's a short list of what I've been doing since my retirement four years ago:

started this blog;
taught Sunday School;
taught Vacation Bible School;
wrote a novel;
started a second novel;
already have idea for third novel;
wrote a short story;
took guitar lessons;
took piano lessons;
took art courses;
trying out new recipes; 
lost 50 pounds;
traveled to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Washington D.C., Virginia, Hawaii, Navarre, Panama City;
took care of Wayne through a heart attack, stents, diverticulitis with an abscess, and bleeding ulcers;
shopped in the middle of the day;
stayed in bed all day reading;
stayed up all night reading;
watched movies til 4 a.m.;
met friends for lunch all over the city;
tried to get Walter certified as a Visiting Pet - he wasn't ready but we still visit a friend in the nursing home;
volunteered at the animal shelter;
stayed with my sister-in-law for a month while she was going through chemotherapy;
re-learned how to crochet and knit;
had two meniscus repair surgeries;
joined Masters Swimming;

Those are the things I can think of right now.  All these are in addition to all the chores and errands everyone does, but now I don't have to rush through them after work when I'm  stressed out or exhausted.  You know - paying bills, gardening, housework, going through the mail, going to grocery and drug store....

I'm so happy to be retired, and I feel sorry for people who still have to work, but I try not to rub it in.....

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How To Get Things Done

I gave myself a list of chores to do around the house.  I decided to stay at home and accomplish tasks instead of running errands.  Well, it's 1:20 in the afternoon, and I've been up since around 10 a.m.  The only things I've done:  drunk two cups of coffee, cleaned the kitty litter box, washed sheets and put them on the bed, fed the dog, bought a few things online, gone through e-mail, pulled three weeds, danced, and started going through my blog again.  

I still have not fed the birds, re-filled the water jugs outside for the critters in the back yard, baked bread for a friend, eaten anything, or cleaned the metal zebra sculpture I just bought.   

Oh, and I'm still in my nightgown....

Retirement is fabulous!

Got To Dance!

You know that scene in the movie, Begin Again, when James Corden has a party at his apartment, and he puts on a song and dares everyone not to dance?  I looked on the soundtrack for Begin Again and didn't see the song, so I kept looking and found the name of the group and the song.  It's Skipworth and Turner's "Thinking About Your Love."  I'd never heard of the group or the song, but it is wonderful.  Try not dancing to it and see how long you can resist....

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Fat Lady Sings

I was dreaming about listening to a lady singing opera, but I woke up to the sounds of the cat loudly meowing.....