Kitty soup

cat in a cat carrier
Olive waiting for the vet. Not a happy camper.

I realized how much the cat adds to our daily lives when she hasn’t been feeling well for the past few days.

Olive refused to eat over the weekend and didn’t use the litter box. She spent most of the time under the bed in the dark.

I tried to tempt her with Friskies ‘Lil Soup. When I call “Kitty soup!” Olive usually runs to me and answers with a “Meow-oup!”

But to no avail. She wasn’t having any of it.

The vet pumped her up with fluids and meds, did blood work, took X-rays. They aren’t sure what is causing her discomfort, but hopefully the treatment will make her feel better. He said she has “obstipation” which is a new word I learned. It’s chronic or severe constipation.

I want Olive to get back to our routine, where she hangs out in my husband’s office in the mornings, sits on my lap in the afternoon while I read. She enjoys a good game of chase around the coffee table and sofa in the living room.

The vet discovered she has a gallstone that’s quite large with a piece broken off that’s moved into the bile duct. He’s not sure if that’s what causing her discomfort or not. He said it could have been there for years — or not.

Here’s the X-ray:

X-ray of cat's gallstone
The gallstone is the white spotty thing to the left and the small piece to the right and slightly higher.

Naturally, I had to research gallstones and what causes them. One cause is high cholesterol. Another is too much bilirubin. I’m worried about the results of her blood work. The liver could be causing the issues. Not good.

Have you had pets? How do they add to your lives?

Sights from the weekend

cactus with scarlet blooms
I love the color of these cactus blooms. I’m surprised to see cacti blooming again.

We’ve had a busy weekend — post vacation. We picked up friends from the airport Thursday and they invited us over to their house for dinner the next day to repay us for our trouble. They lived a stone’s throw from us in Palm Springs and we both moved within a mile from each other in Arizona — without prior knowledge we were both doing that. Our kids went to school together from kindergarten through high school. Now our kids live near each other in the Bay Area.

Here’s a view from our friend’s place up the street from us.
woodpecker standing on a vertical wall.
Woodpecker standing on the wall. I don’t know how it does that. There’s nothing to hang onto.

We had neighbors over for appetizers, wine and games. We played my favorite card games, Demon and Texas Hold ‘Em. Our friends brought over a game they thought we’d enjoy. My husband and I laughed when we found out it was Catchphrase. That’s a game our kids played endlessly at swim meets with their teammates under the pop-up tent. We’d be at meets for at least four hours and they’d swim a few minutes. Downtime was spent playing cards or Catchphrase.

It’s been years since I’ve played games and it was a hoot. We laughed and had fun. it was a perfect thing to do with people we’ve only known for a few months.

For appetizers I made deviled eggs, stuffed shishitos with honey goat cheese and sweet Italian sausage chunks on toothpicks with honeycrisp apples. Also a veggie platter that was barely touched.

sunrise in Arizaona
Here’s the gorgeous sunrise Saturday morning.

I enjoyed watching the kitty watch birds and bunnies. The quail families are growing up!

What card games do you like to play? Did you play lots of games growing up? Do you think kids today play games or is everything on screens now?

What makes you happy 2.0

Puerto Penasco sunset
Sunset in Mexico in the Gulf of California.

A year ago today I wrote a blog post “What Makes You Happy.” You can read it HERE. You’ll notice a link to one of our favorite bloggers, LA.

In last year’s post, I included a list of things that made me happy. I thought I’d take a look and see if I can add to it this year. This is what I wrote last year.

This morning I was writing my daily morning pages and I wrote a long list of things that make me happy. I woke up feeling a little down, so my brilliant idea was to focus on what brings me joy and incorporate the things on my list in my daily life — or at least weekly. I had quite a list.

A few of the items were:

A trip to the ocean

A good night’s sleep

Working on a project I’m proud of

Spending time with family and friends

Swimming in the nearby lake

Swimming laps at the city pool

Reading a good book

Catching up with friends via the phone

Hiking

What can I add to the list? Here’s What Makes Me Happy 2.0:

Visits from my kids

Inviting friends over for dinner

Cooking

The Desert Botanical Garden

Musical Instrument Museum

Going to Costco with my husband and stocking up

Watching baby quail

Morning walks

Sunsets and sunrises

Reading blogs from my blogging community

Watching Olive the cat play

What makes you happy?

Do you find time to incorporate these treats into your weekly lives?

Olive playing with her catnip mouse.

And now they’re gone

kids on a rock
Laguna Beach picture of my kids from around 2001.

I’ve been fortunate to have two quick visits by my kids. They called my husband and asked what he wanted for Father’s Day. He said he wanted to see them.

My daughter’s visit was fun because she had a few days off and we got to spend a lot of time together. It’s been great to have my son here, too, but he works remotely so we only had evenings free to talk and hang out.

Both kids wanted my home cooking rather than going out. That made me smile. It made me mom proud.

I enjoyed watching my son work remotely. He wears a headset and stands while working on his computer. He’s either typing away furiously or conducting meetings, laughing, talking and smiling. He works nonstop from 8 a,m. until the evening when he finishes up with his last meeting.

I’m very proud of the adult he’s become and how hard working he is. Also, it seems this is a job he really enjoys.

Now that they’re gone I’m a bit sad, but happy that they are living their lives.

It’s back to me, my husband and Olive the cat.

What are you doing for Father’s Day?

Olive cat
Olive giving me that look before she jumps in my lap.

Motivated by bloggers

cat on SwimSwam magazines
Olive hanging out on top of magazines with my stories inside. She doesn’t want anyone to read them.

I literally dusted off two picture book manuscripts that I wrote 20 years ago — thanks to my blogging community.

I was motivated again by blogger LA for her leap entering a writing competition. In her comments section, I lamented that I had not fulfilled my dream of having a book published. Another blogger along with LA encouraged me to keep going.

Although I’ve won contests, been published by magazines, websites and newspapers — that elusive book deal hasn’t happened.

I realized that it won’t happen — because I quit submitting to agents and publishers two years ago.

When I said I dusted off two picture book manuscripts, it’s because I discovered they aren’t on my laptop, nor are they on icloud. They’re on backup devices that no longer work with my current system. It has been 20 years since they were on my computer or backed up. That’s a lifetime in nano years.

I wondered if I had thrown out all my manuscripts when we moved? If so, my work would be lost. After searching the house and garage, I found two notebooks that I used to keep copies of my manuscripts, a spread sheet of submissions and a bevy of rejection letters. It wasn’t sad to look at the rejection letters, some had personal handwritten notes and were encouraging.

Long gone are the days of the snail mail submission with an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). I won’t receive hand written notes or form letters in the mail. Everything is done online and many publishers and agents don’t send rejections. If they aren’t interested, they don’t respond. Fortunately, some do reject via email, so I’ll know from those agents and publishers if my submission got lost in the ethers — or not.

I quickly typed the two manuscripts into my laptop and I’ll be off pursing my dream once again.

What are your goals or dreams? Have you stuck with it or did it go by the wayside?

That time my son tried to give away the cat on FB!

Baby Olive
Olive on her first day with us.

I began writing this blog in 2014, mostly focusing on parenting. Understandably, because that’s what I was doing. Now, in my empty nest, I write more about the little things going on in my life or about what I read in the news.

One of my joys now in my empty nest is our cat Olive. She delights us with her antics wanting us to play chase around the house. I like to watch her watch the quail through the screen door. She wants to sit on my lap every afternoon like clockwork. I remembered that time my son tried to give away the cat with a FB post and how I found out about it. This was one of my very first posts:

Robert’s asthma and allergy appointment–on his first day home from college for his four-week Christmas break–didn’t go well. The doctor said we could get rid of the cat or put Robert up in a hotel for four weeks.

We’ve only had baby Olive for a year. We’re not too attached, but still. She’s a member of our family. We rescued her from a local pet shelter and committed to be her loving family. And she’s Robert’s little sister’s cat. Not mine. I felt before we agreed to give Olive away, we needed to discuss this with little sis. Or, let Olive be an outdoor cat.

I heard that Robert had posted on FB for a new home for Olive. Of course, as his loving mother, I’m filtered from seeing his posts. Grandpa, on the other hand, has full access to Robert’s FB account. He told me about the long and lengthy post about how I love the cat more than my own son. Short and shorter: we needed to get rid of the cat. Several people had said yes to adopt the furry feline.

Am I a terrible mother for not wanting to give away our pretty little kitty, Olive Bear?

Robert said I’m infected with Toxoplasma gondii and I’m in danger of turning into a crazy cat lady. I “googled” the toxo thing. It’s different than cat scratch fever, which can cause chills and a fever. T. gondii is a protein that invades your bloodstream and makes women crazy about cats. Or, it makes men crazy in a wild way. And there’s a link to schizophrenia. It’s why my OB GYN told me not to change the litter box while I was pregnant. However, he said that if I’d been around cats my entire life, most likely I was already infected. Great.

 I know about crazy cat ladies.We had one in my home town. She lived in a house filled with felines and feces. Hundreds of cats. My parents drove me to her house out in the country a few miles from town. The home badly needed paint and had broken floorboards with cats leaping in and out of the foundation. We picked an adorable calico kitten named Pansy to bring home. Pansy died a few weeks later from feline pneumonitis

We had bad luck with cats when I was growing up. I can name the ones we owned when I was young: “Ting, Tack, Tenni-runner, No Name, Thomasina I, Thomasina II, Little Leticia, Bianco, Streshia, OJ Simpson. We lost these cats (in addition to the aforementioned Pansy) by the time I reached first grade, due to an overzealous cat-hater neighbor. He caught them in a wooden trap, dropped them in a gunnysack, then tossed them in the river.

When we moved out to the country, I adopted Saute´ when I was in second grade. I named her for the ballet term “jump.” I had her through high school — although she lost a leg early on sleeping in a truck engine. Coyotes and bears were kinder animals to our kitty than our former neighbor in town.

pretty kitten with wide eyes
Baby Olive in my daughter’s arms.

 I was pregnant with Robert when we adopted Sherman. My son’s allergy doctor told me for years to get rid of Sherman. I didn’t. Robert was allergic to lots more things than cats. Things I couldn’t control, like rye grass and oak trees. Sherman lived from 1992 for 17 years — when the neighbor’s dog jumped a wall and killed him. 

I know it’s terrible not to want to get rid of our cat. I never believed that a cat could be harmful to my child. Now, my son is living in beautiful Santa Barbara, going to college.
He’s only home for visits. Or maybe it is the toxoplasmosis that let’s me rationalize all this.

If you have suggestions on how to keep a cat when you have family members with allergies, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Olive all grown up
Olive cat living the indoor life in Arizona.

“Kittens are angels with whiskers.” — Alexis Flora Hope

We bought an air filter for my son’s room and he’s been able to visit us without getting sick. It’s amazing what an air filter can do — except with the current supply chain issues, I rarely get the replacement hepa filters.

Do you have family members who have cat or dog allergies? Do you think you’d get rid of pets because of them? A doctor friend who is allergic to cats just shook his head when I told him we kept our pets despite of our son’s allergies.

Is civility a lost art?

I wrote this post six years ago about getting yelled at by a stranger. It really unnerved me. I asked if civility was a lost art. I’m sad to say that I think things have gotten worse over the years. Not better.

images

I think we are on the verge of losing an important piece of our society. The art of civility and decency. In my humble opinion, the virtual world has a lot to do with this. Look at the comment section of any news site or political page and what you’ll read will turn your face red. Name calling, cursing along with disgusting references to body parts. Their mothers and grandparents must be so proud!

It’s so easy to comment and be rude when you’re not face to face with another person and you’re hiding behind your keyboard. As a former board member of my kids’ swim team for a million years, I was often surprised when someone who I had enjoyed talking with on the pool deck sent me a scathing email. I guess it was easier for them to vent over the keyboard rather then express their opinion to me in person.

Olive cat in an uncivil mood.
Olive in an uncivil mood.

What happens when this “no-holds-barred” behavior moves from behind the screen to the real world? Think about that for a few minutes. If every person you encountered in a day had to let loose with a verbal attack. (What does that expression mean anyway? From Merriam-webster online: free of restrictions or hampering conventions <a no–holds–barred contest> This expression was first used in wrestling matches allowing all types of holds.)

I was sitting at our local Street Fair this week, volunteering five hours of my time to register voters. Most people were very friendly and polite. It wasn’t a busy night for our “register to vote booth” because there’s no big election coming up in the next few months. I smiled at people as they walked by. It’s fun to see them smile in return. I was enjoying that.

Then one woman stopped in the middle of the street and yelled at me.

“Why did you give us that look?”

I said, “Huh? Excuse me?” I had never seen this person in my life. I had not seen her walk by.

“You smiled at those people,” she pointed. “But you gave me a dirty look! What was that about?” she shouted at me.

“You’re mistaken, I wasn’t looking at anyone.” Indeed I was lost in my thoughts. I had a brief moment of missing my kids who are away at college.

“You’re very rude! Typical for someone in your party!” the woman yelled at me.

I was a little shaken. Wondering what gave her the right to yell at me — someone she’d never met before. I thought this was a prime example about our loss of civility.

We tell our kids to be kind to other people and we teach the Golden Rule. We punish them if they get in a fight and we are horrified if they are mean to anyone. But, seriously? They learn more from our actions then we care to believe. I have an idea. Let’s try to be examples to our kids. Let’s try to be someone worthy of our kids adoration and someone we’d like them to respect. Be kind to one another. And if you can’t be kind, at least be decent.

My daughter and lifetime friends, enjoying life on their swim team.
My daughter and lifetime friends enjoying life on their swim team.

“Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.”

– Benjamin Franklin

What are your thoughts about civility? Do you think things have gotten worse over the past six years when I wrote this? Do you think the anonymity of social media and hiding behind our computers or phones adds to it?