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The Empty Nest

Yes, it has finally happened. We have joined the ranks of the empty-nesters. Our fledglings have fledged and we have the house to ourselves.

Son and family have taken possession of their new home and are having a great time. The house turned out beautifully, I am almost jealous of the large windows and the big empty basement, and I am happy for them. They have taken the last two kittens, too, Simon and Ash, so I have my office back, too.

The office/sewing room/guest room. It is small, but functional, and kitten-free!

I hesitated to write this post because I seem to keep misplacing the photos I took of the finished house – they are on my computer at work, or somewhere else, who knows. I promise I will show them sometime.

In the meantime, we have turned our attention back to Claymire, and assessing those little projects that got lost along the way. This weekend, I finally painted the baseboards in the living and dining rooms. They have been the wall color for about 2 years, ever since we had the Great Flood of 2010 and replaced all the flooring. They looked okay, in fact, I don’t like the look of a skinny white stripe running around the room when mouldings are little skinny clamshells we have in the bedrooms.

The dining room, with blue tape still in place. It looks a little too bright, to me, in this room.

But the ones in the main part of the house are 6 inches, and decorative. Besides that, flat paint, which I love on our less-than-smooth walls, is not easy to scrub on a baseboard.

The color is Pittsburgh Paints Manor Hall in Dogwood Blossom, paint I had left over from the old kitchen cabinets.

Next, we did some upgrades on our door mouldings. The plan is to do this through the whole main part of the house; so far, we did these two as a trial:


and after


It is made from a 4″ piece of mdf, a piece of 1/2 round, and some crown moudling.










What do you think? I found the inspiration and DIY how-tos on Pinterest. I love creative people, especially when I can borrow their ideas!

So now mr husband is looking at our fireplace, and wondering if we shouldn’t tile around it. We have wanted to for a couple of years, and just couldn’t decide what to put there, so I just painted it black and waited. On the way to the tile shop yesterday, while waiting for paint to dry, he wondered whether everyone did as much home improving as we do. As he started to tick off the things we have done to Claymire since moving in 15 years ago, I suggested that yes, people did, at least people who bought a home in such crummy condition as ours, and weren’t content to leave it that way.

The fireplace as it looks now. So many options and ideas!

Besides, I realized that fixing up the house makes me happy. I like to see a new pillow on the loveseat, or fresh curtains, or a new plant. Even rearranging furniture gives a new perspective on a space, reveals possibilities, and maybe a fresh start.

And we do have a fresh start. For 24 of the 26 years we have been married, we have not lived alone, just the two of us. It is an odd realization, that hits at different times of the day, in strange ways. I hear a noisy muffler at night, and realize it is not our kid coming home. The city truck that picks up leaves went by, and for the first time in years, I didn’t worry that his car was parked in the way. I hear an ambulance go by at 1 am, and decide it really isn’t likely that he’s been in an accident. (I know, mother-brains work in strange ways.) It is just us, now, and that is kind of exciting, and kind of sad.

Oh, and I did get an early Christmas gift…we have officially adopted Mabel cat!

Welcome home, girl.





Like I need another project…

Folks, do you ever find that, in the midst of having waaaaay to much to do, you start mentally planning more projects? I do this all the time, and I think it is a way of avoiding the need to think about the current quagmire around me.

Right now we are neck-deep in a ton of projects, and yet I find myself contemplating up-dating the door mouldings and changing the color of the living room walls. Yeah, like I need another project. If I mentioned these plans to mr husband right now, I think there would be a homicide.

It has been a pretty awful week, so I guess my brain needed a diversion from reality. Son and Daughter-in-law have bought a house, at last! It was a HUD foreclosure, and while it is a sound, good house, it needs a lot of work, and also an “occupancy inspection” from the city before they can move in. While I agree with a lot of the updates the city requires, such as proper venting of the furnace and hot water tank, etc., much of it amounts to a shake-down for more money. They charge $250 for the inspection, done by 5 different inspectors, and we will see the report tomorrow, but basically it is asking us to bring a 50 year old house up to code, which isn’t really financially feasible, and isn’t required for all residents buying homes, just those buying a home that has spent time vacant. It is stressful and expensive, to say the very least.

It’s a good house, but was badly neglected

So we are exhausted and rapidly going to the poorhouse, our own house is overdue for a good cleaning, and leaves are beginning to fall, signalling our time is short for completing any outdoor projects this year.

Then this past Tuesday, we noticed our Chippy cat wasn’t acting well. In fact, she seemed lethargic, and Wednesday morning she seemed to have trouble breathing. I high-tailed it off to the vet first thing in the morning, and after x-rays, they rushed me to an emergency vet, where she was promptly put in an oxygen-tent for animals. After a battery of tests, they determined she had very advanced hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a big word I likely misspelled that means heart disease and she was already suffering from congestive heart failure. After 24 hours of treatment, she wasn’t responding at all to the medication, in fact, it was damaging her kidneys, and she was fading fast. She was so fragile, we only had a couple of minutes with her Thursday evening, when we made the decision to let her go, as she wasn’t going to survive outside of the oxygen for long. Even the vet, who usually will never give advice, agreed that it was best, as there was no way she could improve with the amount of damage to her heart.

Our Chippy was a very unique cat

I won’t subject you to the details, but if you have been there, you know. My son and I and his wife were with her, and she seemed relieved to have us hold and pet and kiss her. My heart felt like it was broken into pieces. We will miss her so very much. It happened so quickly, without any warning signs. Monday she seemed fine; Thursday, she was gone.

Chippy was only 4 years old. I know you are not supposed to admit to having favorites, but she was my favorite pet EVER. She was very special to me from the first time I saw her as a 12 week old kitten.

our Chippy, the week we got her

As I write this, Mabel is flopped across my lap, her toes on the keyboard. She hits the space bar now and then, and squeaks at me when my hands disturb her rest. I feel bad, as  she is very sweet,  but no one can replace our Chippy.

I have been preparing myself for the passing of Rowley dog, who is old and having troubles of his own, and for our Mr. Cookie, who has advanced arthritis and is 14 years old. I was not in any way expecting to lose Chippy, not at this age. We still have Mr. Cookie, and Mabel, and three of the orphans, who have all been adopted but have not been placed yet, so our house is far from empty.

For some reason, the kittens like playing in the bathtub

I am selfish, I suppose; there is still a cat on my lap. My heart, however, has an empty spot that still hurts, and there is a little grave in the backyard where my calico friend now rests, wrapped in the kitty princess blankets I made for her.

She was always there to help, whatever you were working on







So maybe that is why, as I sit here with Mabel on a cold Sunday morning, I look around and contemplate painting the walls. Thinking about what comes next is better than thinking about today. Maybe hard work helps heal the sadness.


kitten update!

In case you are wondering, there really isn’t much else getting done around here, outside of caring for the kittens. The garden is hanging on through the drought, with some additional watering, and the roses look quite nice, all things considered. No new projects underway, although I do plan to recover the cushions of the Morris Chair when I finally have some free time again.

This old chair came from a hotel near Sebewaing. My dad helped me put it back together about 22 years ago. The upholstery is from 2000.

In kitten world, however, things are changing rapidly. I think a day to a kitten is a month to a human child, developmentally. They are eating on their own, completely. They are using their litter box (about 90% of the time!) and they have discovered how to scale the plywood barricade I made to keep them in “their” room. Clever kittens!

Like most babies, they are very, very messy eaters!

As you can see, they are getting bigger! They can run and jump and, of course, climb, and they are so much fun to play with. While I know the world did not need more kittens, I am hopeful these little orphans will all find loving homes. They deserve it!

Orphaned Kitten Update

The tiny kittens are now 4 1/2 weeks old, after consultation with my rescue coordinator, turns out the kittens are really only 3 1/2 weeks old, at most. …..and growing like crazy. They have started playing and climbing and running, and are using their litter box pretty well.


Can you stand the cuteness?

The one problem we had was with food: they only wanted the bottle, but they were chewing the nipple and not getting any milk. They have tiny little teeth now, and are ready for some food. At the very least, they should be drinking out of a dish, relieving me of the burden of constant hand-feeding.

The trouble is, they didn’t want to give up the bottle. Maybe because they lost their mother early, or maybe because they are stubborn, they simply refused to drink from a bowl, and I have been run ragged with the constant hand-feeding, every four hours. I would need to refill the bottle a couple of times to be sure they got enough. Finally, I had enough.

On very experienced advice, I decided they were done with the bottle. I mixed them nice warm KMR formula and put it in a very shallow saucer. I mixed another with some warmed, yummy kitten food. I am taking that last part on faith – did not taste the kitten food! You would think hungry growing kitties would be happy to lap that up, but no dice. They cried and screamed and scratched at me to feed them. I tried all the tricks – putting it on my fingers, gently pushing their little chins into it, letting them walk in it and lick it off, etc.


They aren’t possessed, just difficult to photograph. I think.

No takers. They simply cried at me until I left the room, then they curled up and went to sleep.

That was yesterday. All day today, I changed out the food, tried little tricks to get them interested, and left them alone. Every time I checked, the food looked untouched. I was getting panicky and exasperated and worried. Was I going to starve them to death? Was there a reason they couldn’t eat from a bowl?

I was assured from several sources that, when they were hungry, they would eat. I wasn’t so sure. Maybe these kittens were just stupid? Would my will hold out against theirs?

So tonight, being our 26th wedding anniversary, we planned to go out to dinner, and I was still concerned that the little furballs had not had theirs. I made up a nice slop of kitten food and milk, added a second dish of milk, did my usual encouragement of stuffing some in their mouths with my finger, and left them alone.

We had a great time, by the way, at Fishbone’s in St Clair Shores. They make an admirable Old Fashioned cocktail.

Upon our return, I could hear the kittens crying, but it wasn’t the plaintive cry they had earlier – it was loud, lusty meowing of very hungry kittens. I peeked inside their room, and was amazed; all the food was gone. The milk dish was actually licked dry!

I praised them and inspected their dirty little feet and faces.Such good kittens! I made them more food, just in case they were still hungry. They may still challenge me with their dietary preferences, but I guess I won this round!


Extremely messy little kittens will need a sponge-bath!

Update: As of today, Tuesday July 24th, all kittens are eating from the bowls, and seem to like the kitten food/formula mixture. They need more frequent bathing, but that just means they get special cuddle-time while they dry off!

Tiny Kittens – with Sunday Update!

Hi all,

You may or may not know that kitten season is upon us. In the rescue world, this is the time where all the unwanted/unplanned and unfortunate tiny kittens are born into a world that doesn’t seem to have enough homes for all of them.

Answering a call for help yesterday morning from my best friend, I rescued 4 tiny kittens who were in imminent danger of being eaten by two large, prey-driven dogs. The mother was nowhere to be found, and one of the hungry little guys wandered into the dogs’ yard. Fortunately, my friend was working in the garden, and was able to corral the dogs before they noticed the little grey ball of fluff.

When the phone rang, I was in the middle of my mending, (booooring), so welcomed the call. A call for help? Cat rescue woman is on the way! I grabbed my cat carrier, my cellphone and keys and was on the road in under a minute. There really is something to be said for my policy of ALWAYS being showered, dressed, made up and ready to roll at a minutes notice. You have to get up pretty early to catch me off guard!

I arrived on the scene and we started searching for kittens. They had retreated to the woodpile. We took it apart a little at a time and uncovered four little kittens.

The vet thinks they are barely 3 weeks old

I tucked them into the carrier and rushed off to the store for kitten formula. (okay, guess I’m not really prepared for anything.) The man at the pet store helped me choose KMR, which stands, rather predictably, for kitten milk replacement, two small kitten nursing bottles, and then warned me that, at least the two smaller ones, who weren’t moving much, would probably die.

It took a little persuasion to get them to eat from the bottle. Apparently, I neither smell nor act like a momcat, but eventually they caught on. The biggest guy, who I am calling Biff, doesn’t like the bottle, and would rather chew it, but either way, he gets the milk into his belly.

They eat round-robin style until they are all full, then it’s nappy time. This one is a tiger!

We visited the vet today, and he said their momcat had done a great job, and that I was doing okay, too. Even the smaller kittens are 8 ounces, and are no longer lethargic – they are active, noisey little balls of fur!

This is the girl. She is 8.5 ounces today. Her brothers are 8 ounces and 9 ounces.

Needless to say, it doesn’t get much cuter than this! They eat every 3-4 hours, so it is a round-the-clock job, at least for another week or so until they can start eating on their own, and learn to use a litter box.

Soooo sleepy after eating!

We have set a trap, and hope to catch the momcat, but it isn’t looking too encouraging. I would like to catch her, and have her tested for Feline Leukemia and other illnesses, and let her finish raising these little guys herself. Hopefully she will show up tonight. Either way, these guys are safe. Rowley dog wants to adopt them, and camps out by their crate, guarding them.

Mabel gets very upset if they cry – maybe she remembers her own babies, but these babies don’t smell right to her, so after she runs to their rescue, beats up the dog (he didn’t do ANYTHING!), she sniffs them, hisses and runs away!

Too much cuteness!

So now you know what I’ll be doing day and night for the next week or so! Hopefully we can find a foster who really knows what they are doing, but until then, I will do what I can to keep them happy and growing.

Update: The kittens are doing well, eating and growing and getting more active every time I feed them! We saw the momcat yesterday evening, and tried to trap her in a live trap, using the kittens as bait. She ignored them, and the can of tuna we put out. We think she probably belongs to someone who is either irresponsible or just ignorant of her reproductive activities.

Plans Can Change…

Best laid plans, as they say, often go awry.

So my best intentions on going gray have hit a snag – I’m not as gray as I thought I was! I had my stylist add some highlights to blend in my gray and lighten the “fake” red. Now I have this:

sorry for the contrast, but you can see the new color

So I guess my plans have changed, for now! I like this blond/red blend, and it will be pretty easy (much cheaper) to maintain.

Also, our foster kitty, Mabel, has been returned. The young man decided not to keep her, so she is back with us.

She seems happy to be here!

I think I will keep her.

I signed up for this…

Mabel, our lovely first foster kitty, has started her two week trial visit with a potential adopter.

We dropped her off this morning to get acquainted with her potential new dad, who lives in a lovely old condo in Ann Arbor and is enjoying his first place that is truly his after leaving his parents’ home. He is only 23, and Mabel will be his first pet, except for fish.

I was happy to see the window in his living room is about 8 inches from the floor, so she will have a wonderful view of the deck and back yard so she can see birds and squirrels, and possibly nap in a warm patch of sun.

It was sad leaving her, but I felt happy that she has possibly found her “furrever” home. That was the goal, all along, when we took her to foster. If you have been following my posts, she was flea ridden, anemic, wormy, covered in sores, and was living in a hoarder’s home.

Six months later, she is fat, silky soft as velvet, happy, playful and pretty much a regular ol’cat!

Mabel and I definitely bonded

I feel so happy to have been able to help her along to a new life. Granted, she still needs to get used to her new home, and hopefully her new friend will give her time to adjust and show herself as she really is. Cats have difficult adjustments – they do not really embrace change the ways dogs do.

I will miss her, for sure. It wasn’t easy leaving her there, worrying about what her life will be from now on, but I know that this is what I signed up for as a foster parent for animals.
I needed a little retail therapy, so I headed to DSW, where mr husband and I found this pair of leather Bear Trap Boots:

Winter boots in June – crazy, right?

I had two coupons, and they were on clearance, with an extra 80% off – I ended up handing the sales clerk a penny. Yes, a penny! Much as I love sandals, in Michigan I spend at least 6 months a year in boots, so these will definitely get their use!

I wish our Mabel all the best in her new home. She has two weeks to decide if it will be permanent, but I can’t imagine someone not just falling in love with her. Our house has a hole, for sure, but this is what we hoped for all along.

Good luck, little friend, and happy trails…….

I will miss that little face