Saturday, July 23, 2011

Free to good home

I have owned cats since I was about four years old, starting with a tom cat named Pinky. Back then, all cats were outdoor cats. They might spend time indoors, but they knew to sit by the door when they needed to go out and do their "business". In fact, they preferred to spend at least some of their time outdoors, especially at night.

Fast forward about twenty years (and many cats later because, gee, outdoor cats seem to "disappear" a lot), and we were living in the country with one rather old cat, ostensibly an outdoor cat, but one that didn't seem to "need" to go outside very often. Alas, this was because she was using the area under out bed as her litter box. What amazes me to this day is that we never noticed any smell, that is until we rudely disturbed the area by ripping up the carpet. For the first time, we instituted a litter box. Problem solved, but it was also the beginning of the Era of the Indoor Cat.

Fast forward another thirty years....

Most cats seem to be born knowing how to use a litter box, but somehow my current cat is one that has, and always has had, "issues". It doesn't seem to matter how clean, how private, how perfectly designed a litter box may be (and I have quite the collection of them), with Fern it is hit or miss. When I still had a Florida room, with its cement floor, this was not a big problem. Fern would pee in the box and at least poop in the area of the box if not right in it. But now the Florida room is gone, and I have discovered that there is no other area in the house that is conducive to haphazard litter box usage.

Right now the box is in the laundry room where there is a toilet, so scooping up errant piles and disposing of them is not a big deal. But recently there has been pee just outside the box. Of course, in Fern's mind, she is technically in the box, but just barely. I keep the box in a tray, so at least the floor is spared. But still.

I could not figure out why all of a sudden this problem cropped up, but one day, when the carpet cleaners came and I dragged Fern out from behind the couch, I discovered that she weighed a TON. Aha, I thought, she is simply too big for the box. That also explains why her personal hygiene has been a bit lax lately.

You might wonder why I had not noticed Fern's weight gain before this. For one thing, she is a big cat, a raccoon look-alike. For another, she is not a lap cat. She likes to be petted, but only on her terms, and distrusts me completely. After all, I am the one who takes her to the vet and cleans her ears. Also, sometimes I yell at the dog, which causes Fern to think I am this household terror who is out to do her harm.

Fern is not actually my cat, but my daughter's, but my daughter and her husband already have two cats and a baby, so they don't want Fern. Fern loves my SO, even lets him brush her, but the sentiment is not returned. Fern also loves my son, but he is in a three-cat household, plus is not interested in such a high maintenance animal. Fern is, what, 11? 12 years old? Surely she can't live forever. Or can she?

I tried to weigh Fern, to see just how heavy she was, but that freaked her out. Even so, I cut back on her food, and now she appears to be fitting into the litter box better these days. One can only hope.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Move for the camera

I write a lot, have even in the distant past published a couple dozen articles in newspapers and magazines, but rarely think of myself as a writer. I take pictures, many pictures, to get one or two that are halfway decent, so never think of myself as a photographer. But put a camcorder in my hand and before I have even learned how to turn it on, I feel like a videographer. Why is that?

Yes, I made a few purchases the other day, since it was too hot to do anything besides shop. I went to ABC Warehouse to buy a grill that was on sale, and walked out of there with a Sony Handycam and a Kitchen Aide immersion blender. It's too hot to cook, especially outside over an open flame, and the blender needs to be washed before using, but I have tried "filming" a hummingbird. They are nearly impossible to capture in still photos, and the camcorder is no better. Recording a robin splashing in the bird bath worked great, though. And with the zoom lens, I can work the garden from the comfort of the West Wing.

(This was my first time at ABC Warehouse. The sales staff must work on commission, because the guy that helped me with the camcorder rang me up separately from the guy who sold me the grill. Also, they really push the extended warranties, offering discounts on what you are buying if you will please, please, please purchase the warranty. And customer service after the sale is practically non-existent; my SO purchased a refrigerator that was supposed to be delivered today but was not. On the other hand, the prices are good and they are willing to dicker, if you like that sort of thing.)

Update on my Nook usage: my primary Nook activity is playing Solitaire, although I subscribe to a couple of magazines through it. One of the issues contained a recipe for Peach Salsa, which I made; cooking with the Nook is okay as long as your fingers aren't sticky with peach juice and the Nook doesn't go into sleep mode too often. I thought I might use it as an organizer, so I downloaded some apps, but I find it easier to access a Moleskine and pocket calendar I carry in my purse. I can download ebooks and audio books from my local library, but the selection is a bit limited. While I don't regret the purchase, I'm glad I did not shell out the big bucks for an iPad because I don't think I would make better use of it either.

I also bought a small coffee grinder a while back. I initially purchased it to grind flax seeds, and when I ran out of seeds, decided to try grinding coffee in it. I have a big coffee grinder that I used until I got tired of the mess; the little grinder is not much better. And I can't really tell the difference between coffee that comes ground, coffee that I put through the grinder at the store, and coffee that I grind at home. Can you? So the little coffee grinder is going back to being a flax seed grinder, and the big grinder is my backup unit for when the grinder at the store is not working and/or one of my "cool" friends brings me coffee beans.