The Blessing of Time

Time is a blessing. Every day we have on this earth is a blessing. It might not always seem that way during tough times, but sometimes with a new perspective, those tough times weren’t so bad. Right now, life feels good because as I write this, I’m sitting on my deck swing in the beautiful early spring sunshine listening to the birds chirping in the trees. One bird is even watching me from the tree branches.

Ever since my father died, I’ve known that time with family and friends should never be taken for granted. For people who suddenly find themselves thrust into situations where they’re spending more time with their family and/or loved ones than they ever expected, being grateful for such time can be a challenge. But for me, it’s been a wonderful gift.

You see, with my oldest daughter is graduating high school this year, I was feeling like time was moving far too quickly. I’m not ready for her to go off to college and leave the nest, I’ll probably never be ready. My daughters and I are very close and we’re similar in many ways. My oldest daughter is who I chat with about common interests, who plays Warcraft with me, who reads my stories, who gets me as so few people do. Contemplating not seeing her half the week like I do now makes me sad and uncertain.

But then the world abruptly changed, and my daughters’ school closed for a month and I suddenly found that I had a lot more time with my girls than I’d expected. I was thrilled! No more missing time with my girls as they did band, sports, or other afterschool activities. Now suddenly it was like summer break early except that they had homework they needed to do every day.

My youngest daughter getting help with homework from her kitty, Owl.

While many parents might be unprepared and not as excited as I am to have more time with their children, I hope eventually they see what a blessing it can be. Yes, it’s hard to balance working from home with taking care of kids, but I’ve been doing it for almost seven years, and I can assure you it’s possible. Not necessarily easy, but possible. Sometimes the dishes don’t get washed for days, I only vacuum once a week, and the house is always in a state of chaos but trying to achieve “perfection” while balancing so much seems like a waste of time to me.

I don’t know what the future holds, and I do worry about my finances now that my online transcription work has slowed down considerably, but I’m still so very happy to have more time with my girls. Children grow up so fast and we can’t slow down time no matter how we try, but we can at least savor the moments we have and try to remember that the things we took for granted yesterday can become the things we yearn for today.

The Comfort of Bird Songs

In these troubling times, it’s easy to lose sight of the good stuff in life and get caught up in all the fear and anxiety. I am not immune to such feelings and I think it’s quite human to be afraid and uncertain about the future right now.

I am guilty of checking Twitter and Facebook for updates on COVID-19 far too often throughout the night because I’m afraid of things like lockdowns and shelter in place orders. Mind you, I already don’t leave my house much because I work from home and don’t have a social life to speak of, but somehow the idea of not being “allowed” to leave my house is unsettling. However, no matter how much tunnel-vision I periodically feel when reading the news, there’s always something that widens my view: the continuing arrival of spring.

There’s one thing that always helps to ease the fears I’ve built up overnight and that’s the coming of a new day. As the sky begins to lighten with sunrise, and even before sometimes, the birds begin chirping in the huge maple tree and pine tree outside my bedroom windows. The first birds are always the robins and they’re followed closely by the eastern bluebirds which stick around all year on my property.

It’s not just in the mornings that I hear bird songs, I hear them all day long and I know who sings most of them. I have a nice flock of goldfinches that are always happily chirping away, some cardinals that sing “pretty, pretty, pretty” frequently, blue jays that sing/screech in their unique way, red-winged blackbirds, wrens, crows, woodpeckers, nuthatches, tufted titmouse, a variety of sparrows, and many more.

Some of my resident goldfinches from a few years ago.

I’m happy that I’ve figured out as many bird songs as I have because I remember growing up that my dad knew lots of bird songs. I remember walking through a park somewhere and hearing a rather distinct bird song and not knowing what it was. Without even seeing the bird, my dad said it was a Scarlet Tanager. We walked a bit more and sure enough, we eventually saw the bright red body of a Scarlet Tanager high up in the pine tree branches.

Scarlet Tanager image courtesy of All About Birds.org

I remember being so amazed that my father knew the bird by its song and I promised myself that someday I’d have that same ability. I’ve spent years listening to and figuring out bird songs and now whenever I go on walks with my girls I can tell them which birds they’re hearing. I feel an immense sense of pride knowing that I’ve managed to follow in my father’s footsteps in that regard.

Hearing my feathered friends singing brings me great comfort throughout the day and reminds me constantly that the world is still spinning and life continues to renew with spring. When the weather permits, I will continue to go on daily walks and take in and enjoy the beauty of nature around me. Nature is receiving a bit of a break with less people driving their cars and such and I’m sure it appreciates it. We must never lose sight of the blessings around us and the fact that we’re just a very small part of a vast, unknowable universe.

The Sun Still Shines

blue sky

With the state of the world today, it seemed like a good time to start writing in this blog again. There seems to be so much, fear, chaos, anxiety, and panic that I can only hope my optimistic words will help somehow.

I live in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York and yesterday I received the news that my girls’ school is going to close for a month. While this has been happening across the country due to COVID-19, there haven’t been any cases of it reported in this county yet. I can understand the school districts wanting to take precautions to protect everyone, but it’s just so hard to fathom that something like this is happening in my lifetime.

Having seen the chaos and pandemonium at grocery stores due to fears about the virus and self-quarantine, I headed to Walmart before the sun was even up yesterday morning because I just needed basic groceries. I was most worried that I wouldn’t be able to get milk for the week but when I checked their grocery app it was still in stock so I was hopeful.

Although I was anxious to get my milk and other essentials for the week, I still took the time to stop by Canandaigua Lake and take some pictures. I think it’s vital that in these “dark” feeling times we still remember and see the beauty that remains all around us and that the light still shines strong. The only eerie part about my visit to the lake was the abundance of seagulls circling overhead but that’s really not unusual for them and perhaps they sensed something amiss about the humans around them.

When I shop early on Saturday mornings, there are usually very few people in the store and as a well-practiced introvert, I’m okay with that.

But yesterday morning there were more people than usual and indeed, the toilet paper, tissue, and paper towel aisles were completely empty. Fortunately, I bought a package last week that will last me and my girls a couple of weeks. Hopefully, by the time we run out, people will have regained their sanity.

I was able to get my gallon of milk and the other essentials I needed for what I thought would be a relatively normal school week. There were odd things missing from shelves such as frozen pizza, pasta, dish detergent, and macaroni and cheese. But when I went to the vitamin aisle, the only vitamin that seemed depleted was vitamin C. Also the bread aisle was nearly as empty as the toilet paper aisle.

While I did my shopping, there were employees dashing around fulfilling grocery pickup orders and people filling their carts. There was a sense of nervousness and uncertainty in the air and I tried my best not to let it infect me. To perk myself up a bit, I bought a colorful spring-themed bedspread and some flowery bell-bottom pants that are far too young for me. But in these trying times, a girl does what she must to lift her spirits.

When I finished shopping, I headed to my mother’s house for the usual Saturday visit which involves doing laundry and watching The Good Witch or something else we can find streaming. I usually play World of Warcraft too and my mom and I have interesting conversations.

Neither of us is panicked about COVID-19, we’re just being smart and taking precautions. My mother is in her 70s and has underlying health conditions so she’s at a higher risk but I pray to all the powers that be every day that she stays healthy and that this all blows over eventually and life can return to normal.

As far as the whole social distancing thing goes, as an introvert, I’ve been doing that for years without an issue. I work from home already so I’m fine with having my girls home from school. I do worry that more people working online might mean less work for me, but time will tell how that plays out. I’m hoping the work from home surge will actually benefit Rev.com and their online transcribers like myself.

I’ve been spending time by myself for many years because on days I don’t have my daughters, it’s just me and my four cats and one dog. I tried being more of a social butterfly in the past but it really wasn’t for me. The only social events I seem to thrive at are the pow-wows hosted by The Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) and I’m hopeful those will resume and continue when it’s safe.

One of the most important things I do for my mental and physical health is to take the time to stop and appreciate the world around me. I go for walks, I sit outside on my deck, or I even just watch the birds out my window. Today the sun is shining and there’s hardly a cloud in the sky. The world hasn’t stopped spinning, the sun still shines, and I have a lot to be grateful for.

I don’t know what the next few weeks and months will hold, but I remain optimistic and hopeful and always try to find the upside of any situation. Just last week I was grumbling about the time change and how the early school mornings were dark again. Well now there is no physical school for a month and we can all sleep in until it’s light.

By the time school resumes-and it will resume, I have faith in that-the mornings will be light again, it will be spring, and life will begin its annual blooming. I don’t know about you, but I plan on enjoying every moment and focusing more on the light than on the dark.

Owl the Bionic Cat

owl up close

Owl posing for a recent photo shoot I did.

The day before my birthday something happened that cast a shadow over the rest of the week. My 12-year-old indoor/outdoor black cat named Owl hadn’t been waiting at the door that morning when I got up and despite my calling, she still hadn’t appeared a few hours later. I began to fear that something bad had happened to her.

Finally, when I took Jazzmin out around lunch time and called for Owl again, I thought I heard her meowing in response. It was windy that day, so it was hard to hear her, but I eventually found her sitting on a pile of wood next to my side storage shed. I walked up to her and called her, but she wouldn’t come to me, so I had to navigate the hedgerow prickers to pick her up and carry her inside the house.

After I brought Owl inside, I set her down on the floor and she didn’t stand up quite right. It looks like her rear legs were weak and I felt my heart sink into my feet. I’ve dealt with cats that have gotten suddenly sick before and I feared the same had happened to Owl. I was afraid she had some illness that wasn’t treatable and that she was going to pass away.

I gently placed Owl on the couch where she sort of collapsed and just laid down for a while. Her breathing was rapid and there were gurgling sounds coming from her chest. I had no idea what was wrong, but I didn’t think it was good. When I’d pick her up a certain way, she’d growl at me and her growling set all the other cats on high alert and made a couple of them poof out in confusion.

When I picked up the girls from school, I said I’d found Owl and that she wasn’t doing very well, and I was afraid it might be time to say goodbye. I was crying when I told them and Jaycie started crying to because Owl is really her cat and they’ve grown up together. Wanting to do what I could for Owl, I called the vet when we got home, and they managed to fit Owl in that afternoon.

Owl had no trouble meowing her protests on the way to the vet and she definitely still had some life to her. When the vet examined her, I was shocked when she said that it felt like Owl had broken ribs. Owl had been fine the evening before when she went out and I was bewildered that something had injured her to that degree.

I agreed to the course of action that involved x-rays and pain meds and we all waited in the room for the results. When the vet came back, she said that Owl had at least three broken ribs and that the gurgling noises I’d heard was air escaping, which was common in such injuries. Hearing Owl had broken ribs was actually the best worst-case scenario because it meant we knew what was wrong and had treatment options.

The vet showed us the x-rays and said that it looked like there wasn’t any excess fluid and that her diaphragm hadn’t expanded dangerously as it can sometimes with such injuries. Looking at the x-rays, I could see a broken piece of rib just floating around inside Owl and I was in disbelief that a cat could survive that. The vet said that cats can do miraculous things and that she might recover from her injuries.

With a treatment plan that included taking Owl home, trying to keep her quiet, and giving her pain meds, the girls and I took Owl back home. She meowed the whole way home too and she seemed to have more energy than when we’d taken her to the vet.

As soon as we opened up the cat carrier inside the house, Owl tried to run and find a place to hide. Her back legs still weren’t working right (the vet wasn’t sure if she had a spinal injury too or not) but she was moving just as fast as ever. She eventually found a hiding place under the couch end table and we all held onto hope that she’d recover. The vet said she could have anything she wanted to eat, and she happily gobbled up half a can of wet cat food for dinner that night.

Owl slept under my bed that first night because it was relatively safe from the intrusions of the other cats. The next morning when I looked for her under my bed, she wasn’t there, and I was worried and surprised. I walked out into the kitchen and found her eating dry cat food and I was relieved and stunned.

owl1

Owl wondering why I keep taking pictures of her.

owl2

Owl up on my bed with Daisy and Angel. She doesn’t come up on my bed very often.

While I was still worried about Owl’s health on my birthday, I had hope that she’d recover, and I focused on being glad that she was still alive. The vet gave me pain meds to make Owl more comfortable as she healed but I only got one dose in her and she then hid under my bed out of reach for a day, so I decided not to do more meds. She never showed any signs of distress aside from when I gave her meds, so I figured she was okay without them. I don’t think I’d be so tough if I had broken ribs, but Owl is one very tough kitty!

Over the next few days, Owl’s condition rapidly improved and now almost two weeks later, she’s almost back to her old self.

I took Owl to the vet a few days ago and while she still has a protrusion of a broken rib and the rib piece still floating around, she’s doing very well. She’d also gained a half a pound because I’d been spoiling her with all her favorite foods including canned food, cheese, lunch meat, and anything else she wants. She’ll be spoiled for the rest of her life and I hope that’s many more years!

As far as what injured Owl, my best guess is a deer or other animal stomped on her when she came upon it. Owl isn’t an aggressive cat, she stays away from the road, and she doesn’t go near humans aside from myself, my girls, and my mom, so I think whatever happened was just an unfortunate encounter.

Watching Owl recover as she has and be the “tough old broad” I’ve come to know and love all these years that I’ve had her, she’s definitely become my hero. Dealing with her injury and being so worried we were going to lose her put everything in perspective and made things I used to worry about seem rather insignificant. I think this latest incident probably used up her nine lives, but I also think she must be partially bionic to still be going strong. I will definitely never underestimate the amazing abilities of cats again!

 

A Broken Spring

Thus far, this May has not felt very consistently spring-like. We’ve even had snow!

The trend seems to be a nice warmish spring day followed by several days of winter temperatures and it’s been rather frustrating.

Fortunately, it looks like the weather is finally warming up and staying warm. They’re even predicting 80 this coming Sunday. After the unpleasant May we’ve had thus far, I’ll believe it when it happens.

Even with the up and down temperatures and rain and clouds, I’ve still managed to get walks in with Jazzmin. I relish every moment of the nice weather because it seems so fleeting but hopefully soon it will be here to stay for more than one day.

Something Must Be Better Than Nothing

A view from our afternoon walk on 5/8/19

I feel somewhat guilty that I’ve let writing in this blog fall by the wayside so I’m going to start posting again. They probably won’t be lengthy posts like before, perhaps just some pictures and some inspiring words.

I do still write quite often, just not here. Life has gotten rather busy as my daughters grow up and I continue to work as a transcriptionist to pay the bills.

But with the handy dandy WordPress app I should be able to post a little something a few times a week. After all, something must be better than nothing. 😉

Loki: A Furry Purry Boomerang

Loki striking the perfect pose.

I’ve had my girl kitten Loki for almost a month now and I can honestly say she’s brought fresh adventures into my life. She’s going on four months old and a bit bigger than she was when I first adopted her, but I know she’ll be a fluffy, long-haired, black furred mischief-maker for many more months to come until she “matures.” Angel and Daisy are four years old now and mostly mellowed out, but they still have a bit of kitten left now and then.

Loki is a very brave and bold kitten and she goes where she wants. Quite often this means she wants to walk across my desk, keyboard, laptop, mouse, and other items that help me get my work done. I find myself picking her up and putting her on the floor several times a day, but just like a furry, purry boomerang, she inevitably returns and walks all over everything again. I’ve discovered that if I distract her with a toy or food she’ll then leave me alone and eventually flop somewhere and take a nap or run around the house like the energetic kitten she is.

Loki being playful

 

Loki in her usual “flop” position with Daisy sleeping on the couch below her.

Loki loves sleeping on my bed at night and she usually sleeps by my feet or waist. However, if I wake up in the middle of the night or early morning, she’s immediately sitting or laying on my chest, purring away, and blocking my view of my phone. I assume she’s drawn to the light of the phone and thinks it’s ideal illumination for me to pet her by. She’ll eventually settle to one side of me or the other and we’ll snuggle as I go back to sleep, not quite lulled by her rather loud purring.

Angel and Loki on my bed.

Loki is the first cat I’ve owned in many years that actually enjoys playing in the carpeted cat house I’ve owned since I was in high school. She loves laying on top of it and swatting at people or Jazzmin as they walk by. She also loves swinging herself from the top of it and inside it and is somehow unphased when she misses and thumps onto the floor. She can spend quite a bit of time going crazy on it and usually it turns into a game of tag with Angel because Angel becomes fascinated watching her play.

Loki with her new scratching post.

Loki recently received a new scratching post from my mother and she absolutely loves it! She knew immediately what it was for and started scratching away and playing with the puff-ball attached to the top of the post. She seems much more cat-like than my other cats in that she loves all cat toys, carries them around in her mouth, and has a fondness for human food. Owl loves human food too, but she’s a bit grumpy in her older age and doesn’t play much anymore. Owl basically dislikes all the other cats in the house but likes Jazzmin, loves my youngest daughter, and puts up with myself and my oldest daughter.

A few months ago I was perfectly content with my three cats of Owl, Angel, and Daisy. I thought three cats was fine and had no plans for getting another cat until Owl eventually passed on. However, Daisy’s disappearance and the hole that left in the household led me to adopt Loki and now I can’t imagine my life without Loki. Even with Daisy back, Loki still seems to fit the hole I didn’t realize existed in my family until I adopted her. She’s such a sweet, adventurous, fun-loving kitten, and I’m happy that I get to watch her grow up and deal with her daily escapades. Loki’s a new kitty sister that Angel loves playing with, Daisy tries to ignore, Owl growls and hisses at, and Jazzmin tries unsuccessfully to play with, but somehow that type of chaos seems about right for my life.

Daisy and Loki on my desk chair. I’m so happy they get to know each other!