Continuing Stories from a Cat Household

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Katniss Gives the Home Her Seal of Approval

Katniss Gives the Home Her Seal of Approval

I suppose we should have expected this. Word has apparently gotten around the neighborhood among the local cats that our house is a safe haven. With the cushy outdoor house, ready food and water, and loving people, what cat could resist? And indeed they have taken us up on our generosity, livening up our lives in the process.

It all started with the cat we call Toby. He had been hunting in our garden over the summer. Over the course of a few weeks, my husband managed to befriend him. At that time, we put out food and water each day for Toby, and he showed his gratitude with tail shakes and affection.

Little did we know at the time, though, that he would spread the word. Soon he arrived at our home one morning with a friend, Sally, She immediately took to us, claiming us as her home and family. She became a permanent fixture at our household; she would be waiting for us outside at every time of the day. Purring and pushing against our legs, she managed to find her way into our hearts, and she received daily love and food in return.

Now, those two have evidently spread the word among the neighborhood cats, and so we have another kiddo who comes daily. An orange and white kitty that we call Patches. We first saw him one morning; he was cold and bedraggled, very skinny with poor fur. With regular food, he has become quite the looker, more healthy with sleek fur. And he has even trusted my husband enough to pet him occasionally. He comes around regularly for food, water, and just some time alone in a safe place.

Yes, and we have had other cats come visit our home in the past week. Perhaps needless to say, we no longer get the opportunity to bird watch with all of the cats around. But we can have the good feeling of taking care of cats who are hungry and overlooked. Too, they give us a lot as well. Who would turn down head boops from thankful kitties?

If you want some inspiration for your own insulated cat home, then take a gander at my article:

Frugal and Homemade Winter House for Stray Cats

Princess Leia for a Day

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Original Photo by  mensatic on Morguefile.com

Original Photo by mensatic on Morguefile.com

For many of us, our earliest Halloween memories were filled with trick-or-treating in our neighborhoods. Those of us born in the 1970′s remember a better time for Halloween, one before stories of razor blades and evil tricksters. While our parents’ often accompanied us in our treks through the area, we went up to homes alone and often received homemade treats. Costumes were usually homemade, but occasionally we had a chance to be our heroes. For me, that was Princess Leia.

It was my first year of school, and we were to have a Halloween parade through the school grounds. I was thrilled at this; I was to be Princess Leia, the beautiful heroine of Star Wars. Of course, the costume was not that pretty. Those costumes of the 1970′s were plastic and rubber, heavy masks with an apron-type covering for the body. But when I put on that costume, I was Leia. I was powerful and wonderful. When the time came, I boldly donned my costume and took my place in the parade.

Indeed, that was perhaps the highlight of my Halloween experiences. At that time, the holiday was still an ideal experience, one in which I could become my favorite characters. For a few moments, I could shed my childhood life and create a better, more fanciful me. Despite the smell of rubber and the swish of plastic, I was Leia for a holiday, and it was great.

Competitive Enrollment at My College

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Original Photo by  hotblack on Morguefile.com

Original Photo by hotblack on Morguefile.com

Who would have thought that enrolling in college classes could be a competitive sport? I certainly didn’t, at least until the university that I was attending decided to make the order for enrolling in classes based on lottery. Yes, you read that correctly. The lower your number, the sooner you would be able to enroll, thus giving you a better chance at the classes that you might want. I’m sure that it seemed like a good idea at the time, but little did the administrators know just how much their students might want the advantage in enrollment dates.

We received the message that semester through our advisors as email had not yet reached our little corner of the universe. They informed us that we must line up outside the door of the administration building on a certain day. At a specified time, the door would open, and the lottery tickets would be handed out based on our position in line. Clearly, all would be handled with modesty and decorum, correct?

Anticipation built over the next few weeks. Rumors were passed among the students, and certain ones like myself expressed our desire to be one of the first in line on that fateful day. Indeed, I knew that I would be getting up very early that morning, and I was not the only one.

When I arrived at campus, there was already a line forming outside of the building. Students were talking nervously, wondering about the outcome of the lottery. After I had taken my own place in line, students continued to arrive, and anticipation—and anger—continued to build.

And then it happened. The door to the building opened, and the woman with the tickets appeared. It became total chaos. I and the other students left the line and began running for the door. My experience with my mother and our post-Christmas shopping certainly came in handy that day; I was ready to run for my prize, the lowest lottery ticket possible. Other unfortunate students found themselves pushed down and shoved aside in the grass. Some of us managed to reach the door and get one of the coveted tickets. Luckily, I received my ticket without hurting any others around me. I escaped the chaos as soon as possible with my ticket firmly in my grasp.

Did the school have some fallout after their plan? They sure did. We received apology letters soon afterward, with the university providing the new schedule for enrollment, sans lottery. I did feel bad for those students who were hurt on that day and felt that the faults in the university’s plan should have been obvious to the administration. It was certainly one of the oddest moments in my college career.

Water Problems, Both Urban and Rural

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Original Photo by o0o0xmods0o0o on Morguefile.com

Original Photo by o0o0xmods0o0o on Morguefile.com

Reading the local news this morning, I discovered that there was some threat to our local water supply. I once thought that living in a city would be entirely advantageous, but there are certainly drawbacks to any living situation. Such interdependence and close living quarters to thousands of others can provide threats that I wouldn’t have expected many years ago.

In the past, I lived mainly in rural areas, many of which relied partially on well water. Although the movie version of water wells can often be idyllic, drinking local water that has been untreated can be difficult, and if anything will most likely make you wish for a nice, commercial soda pop. There are reasons other than cultural that many rural folk drink sweet tea.

In one town, the water was particularly bad. When first turned on, the water coming from the faucet would be black and smell like the dickens. We would let it run for at least ten minutes before it would appear anywhere near clear. Obviously, preparing meals, washing dishes and clothes, and taking baths could be problematic. Clothes might stain, and our teeth began to deteriorate. And for those folks that might not realize it, bottled water didn’t always exist. We mainly drank soda as the smell of even filtered water could be off-putting.

During the most recent controversy regarding the use of fluoride in our city water, I wondered if those who opposed its use had ever drunk water like we had back in that small town. To be honest, I’ve been grateful since moving here that I had water from the tap that was drinkable and lacked an obvious taste or smell. Clean and potable water is a blessing that so many of us don’t appreciate, at least not soon enough.

And now? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with our current water problems. Part of me right now is wishing for a private well, but that’s just not going to happen. For now, I suppose I’ll drink up.

My Life as a Trek Fan

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Original Photo by kakisky on Morguefile.com

Original Photo by kakisky on Morguefile.com

As a freshman in high school, I watched my first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I mean, really watched it. Although I had seen episodes from the original Trek when I was younger, I hadn’t connected with the series. And then, in one moment of boredom, I turned the TV and found “Coming of Age,” the episode that truly made me a Trek fan.

Although I would later encounter the anti-Crusher group among the fandom, I wasn’t familiar with that debate at the time. All I knew was that I had found a show that included a young, smart character, and he was the center of a plotline that was intriguing. I was instantly hooked.

The next day, I went to school and excitedly related to my friends my new find. They were less than interested; indeed, they were scornful that I was a scifi fan. I would soon discover that none of my female friends could relate to science fiction. That didn’t stop me, though. I sought out information on Star Trek in every available moment, and for those of you who don’t remember those days, seeking out information on any subject required a lot more work pre-internet.

After a year or so, my parents realized that being a Trek fan was not a passing phase. My father, who had found a renewed interest in the series through my own obsession, decided that we would attend our first Star Trek convention. I had never been so excited as we entered that hotel where the convention would be held. And when I saw all of the fans dressed as their favorite characters and talking my language–that of a scifi fan–I knew I was at home. I was a science fiction fan, and that was okay with them. We would attend a few more conventions over the course of several years.

Star Trek gave me a new world for my imaginings, one in which there was unimaginable diversity and numerous adventures. Too, among the fans, I found a place where I belonged. Although I have not attended a convention in years, I still consider myself a fan. Trek gave a rural girl an escape that would give her world an added dimension, one that wouldn’t fade even into her middle-aged years.

Neighborhood Cats

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Toby Likes to Sit in Pots

Toby Likes to Sit in Pots

Things settle down a bit when you get older. You enjoy small, quiet pleasures rather than big parties and find that music in bars is simply too loud. And, if you’re like me and my husband, you structure your walks through the neighborhood by the location of cats.

What? Cats? Why, yes!

When the weather is cool enough to take a walk around the neighborhood, we definitely take advantage of that time to get some exercise and see a bit of our area. As we have explored, we have met some of our feline neighbors and made fast friends among them. They provide us with some companionship along our walks and often liven up our days.

First and foremost is “Toby,” a cat who has adopted us as part of his inner circle. We first began seeing him last spring when he would stalk the birds in our yard. He would enjoy the morning sun and then disappear for several days. It has taken several months of patient coaxing to make friends with Toby, but he has finally come to trust us. Lately he will visit in the morning, excitedly squeaking for breakfast and showing his gratitude for our care. Although he appears to have a family, he has certainly begun spending much of his time with us, becoming a part of our family in the process.

A few blocks down from us, we happened across a gorgeous gray cat with medium hair. As we walked by her house, she ran to the curbside and demanded attention. She is a small kitty but big of heart. Each time we see her, she shows us some love, and we have come to look for her each time we go by.

And finally, there is Charlie, a handsome marmalade cat. Our first meeting with him was a little unusual in that we were simply walking down the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street when he meowed loudly and crossed the street, running directly for us. He is quite friendly and outgoing and almost always gives us a hearty meow when we pass. He seems to be a local favorite among both adults and kids.

Indeed, our circle of family and friends has grown with our walks through the neighborhood. As we have gotten our exercise, we have had the privilege of meeting some of the most gorgeous, friendly, and independent cats. We have enjoyed our visits and appreciated their willingness to trust us. And our friends certainly make our walks more enjoyable.