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Celebrate Every Day

That’s the theme of this post, and, in fact, the theme for the coming year. Welcome 2013, good riddance 2012.

My uncle and my grandfather, 1960s

My uncle and my grandfather, 1960s. They were best friends who married sisters.

The year ends tonight, and it couldn’t come soon enough for me. Yes, we were spared the promised Mayan Apocalypse, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a difficult year. I was all prepared to write a post running down the good and bad from the year, but I realized it would just be depressing, at best, and maudlin at worst. So instead, I am going to share with you my renewed resolve from several seasons past.

It can be summed up as the attempt to celebrate every day. Every day we are alive, no matter our circumstances, we can try to find some little way to add joy to our lives, if only for a minute. Some days will be very difficult, nay, impossible. I don’t need to provide you with my examples, I am sure you have your own. But most days, just ordinary, regular, run-of-the-mill sets of 24 hours, provide at least one opportunity to stop and smile.

Make a list of things that make you pause and reflect. It can be something as simple as turning on the AC in your car on a hot day. Boy, am I thankful for that!

A clump of violets on your breakfast table…or even taking the time to sit down at the table and eat your breakfast.

A glass of wine with lunch, gourmet coffee (with cream!), or a walk in the park, or ten minutes window shopping in a new city, or flipping through a photo album.

Cooking a special meal, or using the good silver, reading by lamplight, making dinner into a picnic, stopping to watch the birds dining at the neighbor’s bird feeder.

Ok, these are all things on my list; you can make your own. The important thing is to appreciate the beauty in the mundane, and make the mundane meaningful. It gives you a moment to separate yourself from your circumstances, provides a little different perspective on things. Sometimes it is mentally stimulating; or maybe it slows things down so you can appreciate the speed of life a little more.

I found another post that gave suggestions for indulging your home in everyday luxuries, and I realized I do every single one of these things…..some for years, some are new. You can read the post here, but this is the short list: fresh flowers, music, good china (or silver), bubble bath, candles, fresh fruit, dining outside, and great coffee. Okay, I don’t do all of these every day; I don’t need to. Some days, I do none of them, but these are grey days indeed, days I feel that the hours slipped by me without meaning and without joy.

This year was a rough one; I lost a dear friend, a favorite uncle (see photo above), a fur child, and most of my savings account. But I also gained a daughter in law, a grandchild, raised 4 cute kittens, and got a new kitchen. I have nothing to complain about, but grief can overwhelm joy.

In 2013, I will be starting school again, beginning exciting new projects at work, enjoying our “empty nest,” and taking care of our remaining fur children. I will enjoy the fireside, listen to music while I drive, enjoy my coffee and my wine, use the good silver every day, love my family, and try to celebrate a little each day.

Mr. Cookie enjoys his scratching pad

Mr. Cookie always takes time to enjoy his scratcher

How about you?

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.

Interlude, with Roses

Taking a break from kitchen stuff for today. Tomorrow our tile will be in, and we will spend the weekend installing our backsplash.

The garden received some much-needed attention, and I took a few pictures of the roses that are blooming, despite the neglect. So here, for your enjoyment, are ROSES!

New Dawn climber

Foxglove and miniature roses

More miniatures, in front of the Alba and knockouts.

Constance Spry, and old garden rose, I think

Easy Elegance? I don’t remember this one’s name. The scent is wonderful.

The is the oldest climber in the garden. I think this is MardiGras.

Tropicana? It smells wonderful and the blooms are almost 5 inches across.

I do love roses! You can see the peonies, they’re about done now.

Rowley loves the garden, too. Look at that – is that a smile?

Chippy is enjoying the weather, too.

Took a Paws For Life rescue kitty for a vet checkup, too.

Himmy the Himalayan is ready for adoption! He will be much cuter when his haircut grows out.

Back to the kitchen this weekend. Hope you enjoyed the flowers.

Kitchen Update; Progress, mistakes, and waiting

Well, we are at the end of the first full week. We have all upper cabinets in place, the plumbing work is done, including the relocating of a gas valve and gasline to the clothes dryer that we forgot about, the additional cabinets are ordered, cabinet hardware is backordered, and we are sitting around waiting for things to happen.

Look, doors!

It wasn’t all that easy. To replace the water valves at the water meter required the city turning off the water, which was made really difficult by the fact that, back in 2003, the city hired a company to replace the sidewalks, and they paved over our shutoff! Our city’s DPW cut a notch in the sidewalk and put in an extension for the shutoff, but it took a while, since they are all on half-staff due to budget cuts. It actually took me four days to get an appointment to even have the water shut off in the first place!

But we got it done, got a new water meter – the old one was leaking – and everything is back in place. Now we are basically waiting on the people who will help us finish the job. mr husband and I decided to do what we do well, and leave the rest to the experts. When we had the “great flood of 2010” the flooring was replaced; we want the same guys to come back and fix it now, where the new cabinets are shorter than the old ones were:

It’s one of only two changes to the layout of the kitchen.

We also hired a craftsman to do our crown moulding. Working at a museum, I get the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people, and one of them was Erich Wasner of Authentic Restoration Detroit, whose company specialized is restoring gorgeous old homes without destroying their character. I met him when he and his wife, Jackie, purchased an old foursquare farmhouse in the town where I work and began a sensitive restoration of the 1918 home. Even though I don’t have an historic, century-old home, Erich and Milan will be installing our crown moulding!!!

We chose these knobs, but could only get six of them so far.

So as we wait on the floor guys, we postpone templating for the countertops, which is actually okay, since I decided to return two of our 12″ bases for ones with 3 drawers, and they had to be special ordered. Also, we had to order a new ceiling light, because we didn’t take into account the fact that the new cabinets are 6″ taller than the old ones, and this happened:

That’s not parallax – you really can’t open those doors without hitting the light!!!

Duh!

So now mr husband is planning to frame in the space above the pantry. There is a furnace air return up there, so he has designed an open-work mission-style screen of hickory to close in the space and give it some character. You may wonder why its open in the first place: when we built the pantry, 12 years ago now, the attic stairs extended further back, and we needed to drop the top of the wall so the stairs could open. A few years ago we replaced the pulldown attic stairs with a smaller unit, moved it forward, and now we don’t need that clearance. It is a little weird to have the attic access in the kitchen, but this was the utility room, if you recall, and we are kind of stuck with it. Just don’t look up!

Today we returned to Public Lumber in Detroit for some hickory to build the screen. While mr husband is fashioning that, I took a “break” to cut the grass and put together a new bench for the front porch.

Its acacia wood with an oil finish. I like the design. Sorry it is so dark, but the sun is quite bright today.

Rowley dog, my constant helper. Doesn’t he look better? He’ll be getting groomed tomorrow. He still smells a little like skunk…

So we are plodding along, installing under-cabinet lighting, washing dishes in a washtub, cooking in the toaster oven. Last night we had dinner at the casino with some friends, and caught this picture from the parking deck:

Detroit skyline. It was a pretty night with a storm coming up.

Kitchen Demo, and Ralph Wiggum’s Pointy Kitty

Demo has begun on our kitchen, and we’ve made some good progress. After dinner last night, mr husband and Princess Chippy started removing the old cabinets.

Goodbye, old cabinets! They will likely get re-used in the garage.

When we removed the base cabinets from the other wall, a decade-old mystery was solved at last. I always claimed there was a musty smell in one of the base cabinets. No one else agreed with me, but hey, I’ve got a good nose. We never bothered to move the cabinet to find out why, partly because the ceramic counters were too heavy, and partly because, on some level, we didn’t really want to know.

Now this is embarassing to admit, but several years ago, from behind that very cabinet, we had a a four-footed visitor. Have you seen the episode of the Simpson’s where Bart and Ralph Wiggum take Chief Wiggum’s key to the city and go into the abandoned Springfield Penitentiary?

Ralph Wiggum from Dead Homer Society Blog

If so, you remember the key was stolen by what Ralph referred to as a “pointy kitty.” I couldn’t locate a video clip, but you can look it up in Urban Dictionary. Enough said. He scuttled around behind the stove, kept at bay by Rowley the gallant Golden Retriever, until he landed in a trap set by mr husband. I still shudder when I remember it. He was BIG!

My hero! No, really!

Anyway, immediately upon removing the cabinet, all  mysteries were solved. There, in the wall, was an old heating duct. Built on a slab, the original heating system used floor ducts buried in the concrete. They were replaced about 25 years ago, and should have been filled in with cement.

Alas, our home’s previous owner, whom we shall refer to as “That idiot who didn’t own a level” didn’t feel that was necessary, and simply slapped a cabinet down over the hole. WARNING: the next image may be disturbing. Or at least disgusting. This is what has been under my kitchen cabinet for the past 15 years:

How disgusting is that? And I thought I kept a pretty clean house.

The big blob at the right is spray foam. We found rubber bands, some pennies, and someone’s old math paper under there, too. We cleaned it up, and tonight mr husband will fill it with cement. Then we will be ready for new cabinets, which, by the way, should arrive tomorrow!

crazy old linoleum floor tiles are still in place. mr husband closed up the hole to keep cats in and vermin out!

Ah, the joys of home ownership!

A better day for the animals

Much to my surprise, Rowley dog is having a better day. He ate his breakfast, got up on his own three times, and even greeted Michael and Santa at the door when they brought Uru, our new foster cat. I hope this is the beginning of an improvement for him.

Our foster, Uru, is the sweetest thing! She is very small, all black with green eyes, and just wants to be loved and petted. She is by herself for now, since she was sick and hasn’t had her vaccinations yet. She seems to be enjoying the peace and quiet. Today, we took a little nap, and she just wanted to purr and cuddle!

Cats are difficult to photograph-they keep moving!

Now that her sores are almost healed, hopefully her fur will fill in, too.  She had a terrible flea allergy, and was living in a house with more than 10 other cats and several dogs, all infested with fleas! She will be available for adoption soon, too, and would be a wonderful pet!

she's much cuter than this picture suggests

The other cats don’t seem to know she is here, although they were curious when I set up the second litter box and food.

Mr Cookie has spent most of today doing just this - sleeping. If he knows there is another cat around, he doesn't seem to care!

Chippy then proceded to eat Uru’s food before she arrived! I hope to introduce them once Uru is vaccinated and ready for adoption.

Chippy seems perfectly relaxed

So today has been a better day, so far. Here’s to hoping Rowley dog continues to improve. Hopefully he still has a few good years left. And here’s to a second chance for Uru – thanks to the good people at PFL, she has a chance at a forever home!

Hello…and goodbye

Today is a happy/sad day. Tomorrow will be even more so.

First the happy…mr husband has agreed to accept a foster cat from PFL (Paws for Life). Hooray! Our first true foster! (We did have one a couple of years ago, a kitten rescued from a box in an alley, but this is our first official foster-cat.)

Her name is Uru, and she is lovely. She arrives tomorrow. I have her room almosts ready for her, and hopefully after she receives her vaccines, she can be introduced to Mr Cookie and the Princess Chippy.

Now the bad.  Rowley, our Golden, will likely not be with us much longer. He is 10 years old, and two years ago, almost to the day, he started having trouble with his hind legs. After our recent “vacation” over the Thanksgiving holiday, he was unable to stand on his own, falls often, and walks only with difficulty. He is in some pain, which we are controlling with Rimadyl, but this is only a short term solution. He has several large and small tumors all over his body.

He has always been my best garden assistant!

I’ve read that Golden Retrievers are prone to cancer, and according to some charts, he is actually about 78 years old, which is a lot longer than I expect to live myself! He’s not having much fun these days, eats and drinks very little, and can’t move on his own without help, or really pathetically dragging himself across the floor. He’s still happy, and loves attention, treats and pets.

What he can’t do is stand on his own, walk very well, go for a nature hike, or even a walk, chase a squirrel, lie on the floor without pain, or follow us around like he used to love to do.

I suspect it is nearing the time for him to leave us. Even the cats looks at him a little strangely. I will need to have him evaluated, and then make an unselfish choice. He’s been a great dog for ten years – in fact, he was a rescue to begin with: we took him when he had less than 24 hours left. It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, 2001. Remember that fall? It was still a little strange with the September 11th events fresh in our memory. And this young dog ran in front of mr husband’s car on a dark rainy night. We took him to the shelter, but he ended up being OUR dog. I don’t think that was an accident. He is the best dog ever

I think the best dog ever deserves the best I can give.

It isn’t easy to make that choice.