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!

 

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!

A Halloween Adoption

Loki in her carrier when I first brought her home.

When my cat Daisy disappeared, my house felt out of balance and empty in an unhappy way. I endured a week and a half of that empty feeling before I reached my limit and decided it was time to try and fill a bit of the space she’d left. I knew no other cat could ever replace Daisy, but I thought by saving another cat from the shelter and giving that cat the happy life Daisy and my other pets have, I could start to heal my heart a bit.

I decided I wanted a kitten who was outgoing enough to play with Angel and Owl even if they didn’t want to play. I have adopted older cats in the past, but I just knew in my heart that this time an adventurous and mischievous kitten was required. So on October 31st, Halloween morning, I headed out to Lollypop Farm, the same place I’d adopted Angel and Daisy from four years prior.

I’d seen some kittens on the shelter’s website that looked like they’d fit the open job position. I prefer female pets because my house is already all female with my daughters and I and I don’t want to upset the balance. There’s lot of girl power in my house and I imagine any male stepping into it would find it a bit overwhelming.

I arrived early to the shelter and sat in my car reading until they opened for the day. It was a reasonably mild day for the last day of October with temperatures near 60 and overcast skies.  When the shelter opened, the person at the desk told me go back and look at the cats and then come out when I saw a kitty I wanted to meet. I saw several adorable cats and a few kittens, but none of the ones I had seen on the website. I went back out to the desk and told them I was looking for a female kitten three months or younger and they said they’d send an adoption agent in to see me shortly.

I then went back into the cat area and had a lovely chat with one of the volunteers there who has a few cats herself and had several stories to tell. I told her about Daisy running away and my desire for a kitten and she was certain I’d find the perfect pet to take home. I hoped she was right because I really didn’t want to leave without a new pet to add a new adventure to my life.

When I met with the adoption agent, she told me she had a handful of kittens in back that fit what I was looking for and when I told her about my dog Jazzmin and how she likes to play chase with Angel and used to snuggle with Daisy, the agent crossed off a cuople kittens that she knew were too timid for such a situation. She then went off to retrieve the first kitten on the list and I waited in the glass enclosed room until she returned.

The agent came back carrying a small cat carrier. She said this kitten was named Loki and she was three months old. As I love the Avengers movies and am a big fan of Loki, I thought that was a perfect name! The agent set the carrier down on the floor, closed the door, and then opened the carrier. Out came a long-haired black kitten who immediately tried to jump at the glass walls to find a way out of the room. The little fluffy girl walked all around the room sniffing and I eventually scooped her up and began stroking her between the shoulder blades. She weighed under five pounds but she started emitting the loudest purr I’ve ever heard! My other black cat, Owl, has a loud purr, but Loki had her beat! Suffice it to say, I was smitten.

I knew after meeting Loki that I’d probably be adopting her, but I agreed to meet a few other kittens before I made my choice. I then saw two sets of litter mates, a black and white pair and a tabby pair. They were all adorable, sweet, and purred when I picked them up, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to adopt just one of the siblings and as I’d already adopted Angel and Daisy as siblings and Daisy had disappeared, I just couldn’t do that again. So I had the adoption agent fetch Loki again and as soon as I held her again, I knew she was meant to be with me. Besides, what could be more perfect than adopting a black cat on Halloween?

Loki on my living room window sill.

After waiting for Loki to get her final checkup, I then had to sign papers and pay the adoption fee. She was already fixed, had undergone flea treatment, and was de-wormed, so I felt the adoption fee was more than fair. Plus the shelter includes a free follow up at my vet, coupon for free bag of food, and a coupon for half off my purchase at a pet supply store they’re associated with.

Loki laid quietly in her carrier the whole ride home and once home, I set the carrier nearby and she just relaxed inside it for a while, even with the door open. She’d just been fixed the day before so I think she was still recovering from that a bit. My dog Jazzmin was eager to meet her, but Loki was not fond of dogs and hissed and swatted at Jazz whenever she came near. I know Jazzmin wouldn’t intentionally harm any of my cats, but Loki is such a small thing and I wanted to play it safe.

Angel on my lap eyeing Loki in the carrier.

Owl and Angel were not thrilled about there being a new kitten in the house, but I hadn’t really expected them to be. There’s always and adjustment period with a new pet and I’ve gone through it many times in my life. Loki snuggled with me on the bed that first night and it was so bewildering having such a tiny thing compared to my much larger cats and dog. It’d been a long time since I’d had such a baby kitty because even Angel and Daisy were five months when I adopted them. Owl was probably as young as Loki when I found her in the barn, but that was 12 years ago and I couldn’t remember much of her being a kitten.

Loki sniffing sleeping Owl while Angel watches in surprise.

Loki adjusted quickly to her new home and bravely explored everywhere those first few days. She seemed to be a reasonably well-behaved kitten and having one kitten instead of the two I’d have with Angel and Daisy was much easier! My daughters met her that weekend and they all immediately loved each other, so I knew I’d made the right choice.

Loki snuggling on the couch with me.

I still missed Daisy and hoped she’d return home, but Loki proved to be a more than sufficient distraction as the first week of her life at my house began. But that’s a tale for another day…

Loki snuggled under my keyboard like Daisy likes to do.

A Surprise Happy Ending

Daisy relaxing on the floor by the couch as if she’d never left.

I knew when I woke up yesterday morning that it wasn’t going to be a normal day for me. I had appointments in the morning and afternoon regarding the evaluation and continued support of my youngest daughter and her developmental delays. With those taking up half my day, I knew I wouldn’t be doing my normal routine of work, homework, writing, and beading. However, I had no idea the surprising and unexpected turn my day would eventually take.

I got home from the afternoon meeting with the school about my youngest daughter and I was pleased by how the meeting went. It had gone better than expected and I was relieved that she was going to continue receiving the services she needs to succeed in school. On a happy high from that, I took my dog Jazzmin outside as soon as I got home and even the overcast weather, strong winds, and cold temperatures didn’t bring me down.

Then as I was outside with Jazzmin, I thought I heard a meow. I held my breath for a moment and listened again and sure enough, I heard a meow. Hoping beyond hope that it was my missing cat Daisy, but not seeing her anywhere immediately, I quickly took Jazzmin back in, closed the door, and went out into my back yard again.

I went around the back of my house and to my utter shock, joy, and amazement, there was Daisy crouched on the doors leading down into my basement. I could barely believe my own eyes! She was emitting this mournful meow I’d never heard before, but she looked unharmed. When I tried to grab for her, she ran off and crawled under my mower shed. I called for her a bit and I heard her meowing at me from under the shed, but she wouldn’t come out.

I quickly went back inside the house, grabbed a bowl of food and ran back outside to the shed. I then crouched on the muddy ground by the shed calling to her and shaking the food bowl a bit as she meowed at me from beneath the shed. I called her name and told her it was okay and that I wasn’t mad that she’d run away. I eventually reached under the shed slowly to where I could see her tail and to my relief, she came toward me and didn’t run away.

I placed the bowl of food down on the ground near where she was and kept calling to her and slowly and nervously, she finally emerged. I swiftly picked her up when she was within reach and carried her and the food bowl back into the house. I couldn’t believe I was holding her again in my arms and that she was okay! She’d lost a bit of weight, but had been a bit fat when she disappeared. She wasn’t so skinny that I felt she hadn’t been eating at all during her disappearance, but she certainly wasn’t well-fed.

Once I had Daisy inside the house, I put her down by the food bowls and she eagerly began eating. I sat down on the floor next to her and she came over and started rubbing against me and purring and I just couldn’t stop petting her. It felt so surreal having her back in my house, eating her food, rubbing against me. I’d had dreams that she’d returned home and even a day later, I’m still wondering if it’s a dream. To have a pet I loved so much and that I believed loved me back just as much is an indescribably wonderful feeling.

Daisy enjoying food when she came home.

Petting Daisy as she rubs against my hand.

As I write this blog post, Daisy is sitting in my lap at my desk, using my right forearm as a pillow. My arm keeps moving as I type, but she doesn’t care at all and just keeps purring away. She seems as happy to be home as I am to have her home and I’m mystified as to why she ran off in the first place. She certainly doesn’t seem like she enjoyed her two and a half weeks outside and I sincerely hope she never dashes out again!

Daisy snuggling on my lap as I write.

Daisy has been eating, drinking, and using the litter box just fine since she returned home. She meows a bit more than she used to and it’s a slightly confused and worried meow, but I think that confusion will pass. She follows me wherever I go and slept all night on the bed with me last night, only leaving now and then to eat and such.

Daisy remembers her litter mate Angel and her other sister Owl and she even remembers Jazzmin and was snuggling with me and her on the couch last night.

Daisy and Jazzmin snuggling on the couch with me.

She doesn’t know quite what to think of my new kitten Loki (a story for another day) and Loki is equally confused, but they’re getting along relatively well. The only issue is that they both want to snuggle with me at the same time and that doesn’t always work. I said that if Daisy returned then this would be a four-cat household and that’s exactly what it has become. I never expected or planned to have four cats at once, but I have the room and they’re all good kitties and keep me company when I don’t have my girls.

While I held hope that Daisy would return someday, I also knew that there was a possibility she wouldn’t. I live in the country where there are raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and other manner of creatures that could have done her harm. My heart would ache thinking that something terrible had happened to her and it’s such a relief to have her back, safe and happy. Daisy’s return home was a very surprising and welcome happy ending and it’s an amazing holiday present/miracle after a year that’s been full of challenges. Somehow the purring of Daisy and all her familiar mannerisms and sweetness tells me that everything will be okay.

An Unexpected and Unwanted Plot Twist

My four year old kitty named Daisy

The day after the anniversary of my father’s passing I was still doing quite well. I started the day by getting the oil changed in my car, then I did a little work, and then I mowed for the last time of the year. I was happy and content and quite proud of myself for accomplishing so much. The weather was chilly but sunny so I took Jazzmin for a nice long walk in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, not long after I got back from that walk, I realized that I hadn’t seen my youngest and sweetest cat Daisy in a while. She tends to find a spot somewhere and sleep all day, so I hadn’t really thought much of not seeing her until that afternoon. I looked all over the house and called for her, but she didn’t appear. It was then I realized that she must have snuck out the door that morning when I took Jazzmin out. I never even saw Daisy run out the door. I hadn’t even seen her lingering by the door in quite some time, so I didn’t even think she’d want to run out. I was terribly wrong.

I spent the rest of the day calling for Daisy outside, looking around the house, checking the hedgerow, and even going for a walk down the road looking for her. I couldn’t find her anywhere and she hadn’t returned by that night. I was heartbroken and all my good feelings of the past few days and of getting through the anniversary of my father’s passing, abruptly vanished.

Daisy was microchipped and I reported her missing to the microchip company but never heard back from them. I then emailed the shelter I adopted her and her sister Angel from, Lollypop Farm, and informed them she was missing and they said they’d open a file and keep an eye out for her. They posted her missing on their Lollypop Spotters Facebook page and I received lots of helpful tips from other pet owners on how to coax her back home. Despite following all the tips such as leaving her litter box out and other items that smelled like home, Daisy didn’t return.

Daisy snuggling with the clam shell toy my daughter made her.

All of that week I felt sadder than I had in a long time. Daisy was such a sweet kitty, loved to snuggle, drank water with her paw, would stand up on her hind legs to be pet, and had just started snuggling on my oldest daughter’s lap. She seemed to be growing even more affectionate with everyone and I thought she was so happy. I was mystified as to why she would run away from everyone and everything she loved. I wanted to rewind time and go back to that Monday and pay more attention to when I went out the door to make sure she didn’t get out. But I couldn’t.

It’s been almost two weeks now since Daisy disappeared and I’ve seen no sign of her. I handed out missing cat flyers to local businesses and I’ll be mailing flyers out to neighbors on my road so they can keep an eye out for her. The four year anniversary of adopting her and her sister Angel was on October 27th and it was heart wrenching that she wasn’t with us to celebrate it. My greatest hope is that wherever she is, she’s safe, happy, and warm. I miss her immensely and I hope that she comes home someday. But for now I can just remember our time with her fondly and think positive thoughts about her fate.

Daisy in one of her usual goofy positions.

Another “Wild” Friday Night

<a href="https://i1.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/g/6/7/Z/T/E/orange-dog-dancing-hi.png"><img src='https://i1.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/g/6/7/Z/T/E/orange-dog-dancing-hi.png' alt='Orange Dog Dancing clip art'/></a>

Dancing dog. Image courtesy of clker.com

I set a work goal for myself this week that was higher than I’d set in a while because I knew I needed to start pushing myself to my full potential again.  As probably anyone who works from home and sets their own hours knows, it can be tricky sticking to a quota of work and a schedule. But when I really apply myself, I get everything done that I need to. There were a couple of days this week that were a bit challenging, but I persevered and accomplished my goal by quitting time Friday evening.

Working from home has certainly had its share of ups and downs, but it’s definitely in an upswing now and I’ve been happier working from home than I ever was working in an outside office. There’s incredible flexibility in working from home, but also a lot more unpredictability in terms of work flow and pay. I imagine it’s not for everyone, but it works for me and I love transcribing for Rev.com on a daily basis.

With my goal accomplished for the week, I felt it was time to celebrate with my usual “wild” Friday night of beading, writing, and playing World of Warcraft. I’ve never really been a social butterfly or had very many friends because I value quality over quantity. So truly wild Friday nights partying with friends out somewhere has only happened due to bachelorette parties or birthday parties. Now that all of the people I consider close friends live in other states, going out on the town really isn’t even possible. Not that I really think I’d be up for it anyway.

I’m a homebody, I think I always have been. And well, now that I’ve owned my own home and been living in it as a single woman for seven years now, my body loves my home even more. When it’s just me on a Friday night (which it almost always is because it’s not a night I usually have my girls) I prefer to do what makes me happy and truly revel in that happiness and freedom. I still remember what it was like during relationships where I felt trapped and controlled, where someone was telling me what to do and how to do it. Those feelings of being trapped, unhappy, and in emotional pain are something I will never forget. Nonetheless, I won’t let my past control me or ruin my current happiness and so I just keep moving forward.

One of the things I do when I’m really happy, exuberant, and in a very up mood celebrating my accomplishments and freedom, is dance along to upbeat music. I might dance in my chair at my desk while I’m writing or playing World of Warcraft, or I might just jump right up and dance in my living room. My three cats might give me strange looks for a moment, but they’re used to their “crazy” mommy and so they go back about their business. My pup Jazzmin though is another story.

I taught Jazzmin the “trick” of dancing with me when I’m dancing around and she’s always good for a couple spins on the dance floor. I just say, “Want to dance?” and she wags her tail and offers her paw. I then take both of her front paws in my hands, lift her up onto just her hind feet, and we do a little jive around the dance floor, otherwise known as the kitchen or living room. She’s always really happy to be dancing with her mama and I give her a treat afterwards. She’ll then return to whatever she was doing and I can go back to being happy, weird, dancing me.

My favorite place to find my kind of music nowadays is a place called EpidemicSound.com. According to their website, they provide: “Unlimited music for your YouTube channel. Monetise with no risk of copyright strikes.” I pay a monthly subscription fee to listen to and download as many tracks as I want and their selection of original music is amazing! I’ve yet to use any of their music for a YouTube video, but I hope to eventually. In the meantime, I’ve been downloading songs into playlists of new music on a biweekly or monthly basis, depending on when I feel the need for fresh tracks.

Last night I checked their “Latest Tracks” tab and the very first song I clicked on boosted my already happy mood through the roof. It was a song called “We Should Start Right Now” by Loving Caliber featuring Emmi and it had the exact beat, tempo, lyrics, musicality, you name it that I love in a song. Plus, once I’d listened to it a few times, I found the lyrics very inspirational. Here’s a sample:

“Every change has a reason
Baby, let it come to you.
Every soul, every season,
Lives outside a status quo.

If you start believing
We’re meant to be
Expanding our abilities.
If the passion’s gone
We are doing it wrong.

Baby, you and I
Baby, you and I
Should start living now.”

I lost track of how many times I listened to that song because it just lifted me up so much higher than I already was. I had my house windows open and I was blasting it through my computer speakers for all the neighbors to hear. I wanted to shout to everyone I knew that life is too short to waste being unhappy. That we all need to start living now and not keep waiting for things to get better tomorrow. I’ve learned the hard way that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and that regret is a horrible thing to live with.

Never give up on your dreams, never resign yourself to a situation you’re miserable in just because you’re trying to keep everyone else happy. I lived like that for many years and I forgot who I really was and it’s taken me years to find who I am again. Embrace your light, your power, and your strength. Seize today and every today given to you and pursue your dreams, even if only in small steps. Small steps are better than no steps and well, dance steps are even better.

 

A Spring That Finally Sprung!

bumblebee on daffodil lidancie arts

A local bumblebee enjoying my daffodils.

I was going to write this blog post last week when the weather warmed up, but then they predicted snow over the weekend, so I decided to wait. The snow did indeed fall this past Sunday morning, proving that the unusually wintry weather of April wasn’t done yet. Fortunately, the next day was warm and sunny, which ended April on a good note. These past couple days marking the start of May have felt more like summer than spring, but after the seemingly never-ending winter, I’m okay with that!

april snow

Snow on 4/29/18. Ugh!

I was doing pretty well through this winter, especially when February was surprisingly warm and it seemed like spring was coming early. Then March arrived and dumped several feet of snow on us here in the Finger Lakes of New York. While April didn’t dump as much snow, it still snowed and was colder than it should’ve been and it seemed like spring would never truly arrive. March and April, the months when spring is supposed to have arrived, were my hardest winter months yet and I got more down than I have in many years. So when I say that I welcome the heat, the humidity, and even the bugs, I’m not kidding. I’ll take bugs over snow any day.

cats in window

Angel and Daisy loving the open window.

When the warmth and rebirth of spring finally arrive, it starts to feel once again like anything is possible. No longer trapped inside by the weather, I’ve been enjoying longer walks with Jazzmin on our country roads. The local birds have been feasting on my feeders and I love hearing their songs and watching them from my desk chair as I work. I especially appreciate the longer hours of daylight as I have more time when I finish work to get outside and breathe the spring air and feel warm instead of freezing. With nice weather brings the need for yard work (which I hate) but I know it’s all part of the warmer months and I take it in stride. I’d rather mow my lawn than snow blow my driveway!

The summer temperatures of late are set to give way to more spring like weather the next few days with predicted rain and possible thunderstorms. Rain may put a damper on things, but I don’t have to shovel rain, so it can fall as it likes. The long, extended winter has increased my appreciation for the wonders and beauty of spring and shown me once again that I can endure tough times. I plan to revel in every warm moment of spring and summer and slowly erase the uncomfortable memories of a cold and snowy winter.

Marching Into March 

Yesterday was the first day of March and it started off overcast but pleasantly mild. Hoping to avoid the predicted rain showers, I took Jazzmin on the short hilly walk right after breakfast. Although the clouds were thick, it was warm enough to walk without a coat and it didn’t start sprinkling until we were almost home. On our walk we were treated to the sight and sounds of a large group of turkeys in a field. I always enjoy seeing the males all puffed up as they try to attract the females.

Once back home and freshly showered, I expected to hunker down inside for the rest of the day and work while it rained outside. Mother Nature had other plans though as the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. Not one to waste such beautiful weather in the midst of winter, I took Jazz for a second walk, much to her delight! 

I spent a bit more time outside taking care of other important tasks because I knew the forecast was calling for a drastic drop in temperature the next day. Sure enough, this morning dawned with temperatures in the teens even though it had been 50s with I went to bed the night before. Such extreme temperature changes ushered in by ridiculously high winds seem unfortunately normal these days.

It was too cold to walk Jazzmin even once today and I ventured outside as little as possible but I know the weather will rebound eventually. March is a temperamental month as if it knows that everyone is eager for spring and it wants to hang onto winter a bit longer. Regardless, the world around me is starting to reawaken as spring nears and I’ll take it one day at a time while looking forward to warmth and new beginnings. 

Time Flies with Big Brown Puppy Dog Eyes

Jazzmin being adored by Daisy

Five years ago today I adopted my beloved pup Jazzmin aka Jazz/Jazzerboo/Puppers/Goofball etc., etc. I can’t imagine my life without her following me around and watching me with her big brown puppy dog eyes.
We’ve learned a lot from each other over the years. I’ve taught her how to play fetch and she’s taught me the importance of walking every day, weather permitting. We learned the right way to walk together and although it’ll always be a work in progress, we’ve come a long way. 

When I adopted Jazzmin from the shelter, she was untested with cats and I had two cats at the time, my senior cat Aviendha and my former feral cat Owl. Fortunately, with some patience, refereeing and the unavoidable affection of loving Owl, Jazzmin learned to live happily with cats. 

Avi has since passed and Jazzmin has learned to love our two newer cats Angel and Daisy. During the winter, all three of them are quite often snuggling on the couch with me as Owl sits closeby. Their furry, sleeping bodies help keep my body warm and their unconditional love warms my heart.

Jazzmin’s sweet nature helped my daughters get over their fear of dogs and see just how great pups can be. Jordan will walk her sometimes and Jaycie wants to become a dog trainer some day and own multiple dogs. Amazing what the love of a yellow mutt can do! 
As I write this, Jazzmin is rolling around on her back on the floor like the adorable goofball she is. I gave her a special treat to mark her five year adoptiversary and she was happy to snarf it. Five years with her and her big brown puppy dog eyes have flown by!  I don’t know if she even still remembers living in the shelter or who owned her before she became a stray, but I do know that she seems very happy now and that I’m very happy to have her as my loyal companion and walking buddy. 

Beading and snuggles 

I received some wonderful holiday gifts this year in the form of nearly selling out my CorbinCreations1 Etsy store jewelry and receiving an order for several pairs of custom earrings. As my goal is to make my jewelry business successful, I’d  say I’m on the right track.

 
Every beader has their own unique setup and I’m no different. I can’t work hunched over a desk or table because it would kill my back so instead, my beading station is my couch. I have rolling storage cubbies nearby full of my supplies, a tray to hold odds and ends like scissors and thread, my coffee table as my work station and my beading “desk.” 

My beading desk is a flower encyclopedia with a ceramic beading tray held in place by a sticky bead mat. I used to use the sticky mat to hold my beads but it required frequent cleaning to keep it grippy. Now that it’s sandwiched between my bead dish and the book, my beads stay put and I have the perfect size work surface. 

A benefit and drawback of sitting on my couch to bead is that my cats and dog always want to snuggle with me. My two younger cats, Angel and Daisy, try to lay on my beading table because they want to be close to me. When I won’t let them do that, they lay on or next to my legs and feet. 

Sometimes my pup Jazzmin wants to snuggle too but she’s good about tucking herself between the back of the couch and my legs. My oldest cat Owl lays on the arms or back of the couch because she likes being near me but isn’t much of a snuggler.

As it’s now winter in Upstate NY, it’s nice having animals snuggling with me, keeping me company as I bead. I’m never cold when they’re snuggling with me and sometimes I’m even too warm. Nonetheless, having pets that love me and want to be near me as I bead is just as wonderful as continued success selling my beaded jewelry. Beading and snuggles make the chill and darkness of winter much easier to handle. 

A Different Path

image

My pup Jazzmin laying by my tree

I set my Christmas tree up today and it came out lovely, which made me quite happy. I’ve had the little fake tree for at least a couple decades so putting it together, fanning out the branches and hanging the lights on it is something I can almost do in my sleep. I usually put the tree up before Thanksgiving but I just didn’t have time this year. The mere fact that I can put the tree up whenever I want, even before Thanksgiving, is an empowering reminder of a freedom I didn’t have when I was married to a man who didn’t “allow” any holiday decorating until after Thanksgiving.

Without going into the gory details, I chose to divorce my now ex husband several years ago. I hadn’t been happy in our marriage for years and when my father died in 2009, I realized life was too short to remain miserable. The main reason I waited to seek divorce was because I didn’t want to have less time with my daughters, but when my unhappiness began affecting them, I knew I couldn’t keep pretending that everything was okay.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. Even though my marriage to my daughters’ father ended, they were the best things to come out of it. My girls are my world, have been since they were born and I miss them when I don’t have them, but I’ve never regretted or had second thoughts about divorcing their father. We just weren’t a good fit and I couldn’t be myself married to him. Had I remained in that marriage I never would have discovered my own strength and everything else about me that makes me so unique. I also wouldn’t be as incredibly happy as I am today.

My divorce was finalized in the summer of 2011, over a year after I got a lawyer and started the process. My ex and I were married just a few days shy of 13 years. Moving out on my own for the first time in my life was both exciting and scary. Living in the same house with my now ex husband as we went through the divorce was a rough experience and when I got my own place, I finally felt like I could breathe again!

My ex and I split custody 50/50 and it took me at least six months to adjust to not having my girls all the time but eventually I remembered who I was when I wasn’t playing the mom role. I also remembered who I was before I started playing the role of dutiful wife. I didn’t have to worry about someone telling me what to do anymore or rearranging my stuff or making me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I was in charge of my life, my house and my actions and it felt amazing! It still feels amazing!

Although I’ve had a couple relationships since my divorce where we actually called each other boyfriend and girlfriend, they weren’t good fits. One was too soon after my divorce and one too late as I’ve now learned to love being on my own. I’ve also dealt with men whose less than honorable intentions gave me some trust issues. Regardless, I don’t expect to be single forever, but I haven’t found the right man for me yet and I have to do what’s right for me and my girls. You see, my ex husband and I took very different paths after the divorce.

My ex found someone new almost immediately after our divorce or perhaps before it was even finalized. In truth, I really don’t care. I thought perhaps he’d see what it was like being alone and even spend more time with the girls but getting a new girlfriend so swiftly who already had three kids of her own kept that from happening. He’s marrying that woman tomorrow (my girls are in the wedding but strangely, I was not invited ;)), doing the blended family thing and continuing the predictable path of his life. That works for him, but I have never been one to follow a predictable path. I forgot that when I was married, but I’ll never forget again.

Living as a single mom and woman, I’ve managed to buy my own house, car, furniture, etc. and I took the leap from working an unrewarding office job to working from home as a freelance writer three years ago. Now I’m trying to create a successful jewelry making business and it’s another scary and exciting step on this winding, curving, hilly path I navigate. On my own I’m free to take road trips to New England and find myself in all sorts of new places. I never would have known how brave I am had I stayed married.

Although there are times when I do get a bit lonely without the girls, I always have my pets to keep me company. I have my loyal dog Jazzmin as my sidekick and walking companion and as my ex doesn’t like dogs, I never would have had her if I’d stayed married. I also have three cats and that’s one over my ex’s “two cat limit.” His soon to be wife is allergic to cats and dogs so he never has to worry about pet hair in his home again. Me, I suck up an entire cat and dog’s worth of fur every time I vacuum and I don’t mind at all.

Another easy way for me to banish loneliness is to think about how unhappy I was in my marriage or any of my previous relationships. I would never go back to any of that just to keep from being alone and I’m quite happy on my own. I haven’t given up on finding the right match for me eventually and I’ll always believe in love, but my girls get my full attention when I have them and my winding, adventurous path gets my full attention when I don’t have my girls. Walking such a path alone is easier when I focus on the light and leave the shadows behind.

Making the Most of a Warm November Day

image

A sunny, 70 degree day in November in Upstate NY must be appreciated for the wonder that it is so I spent yesterday appreciating the unseasonably warm autumn day in many ways. Considering that the forecast is calling for snow starting Sunday, I’m sure I’ll wish I could bottle yesterday and open it in the midst of winter cold.

My original plan for the morning was to mow some of my back yard after the girls got on their busses and the grass dried out a bit. To that end, I hooked my mower battery up to the charger and let it sit charging for a while as I tidied up the deck, put plants away, emptied water out of my deck storage totes and so on. For whatever reason, mower batteries don’t seem to last for more than a year so I just hook mine up to the charger before I mow, give it time and it usually starts. Well yesterday, it didn’t want to start.

Not one to waste the amazingly warm morning, I left the mower hooked to the charger and finished putting my deck and yard furniture away in my sheds. I then decided to string up the colored icicle lights on my front bushes since it’s never a fun job when my hands are frozen. My bushes still have leaves on them but that didn’t hamper my lighting efforts and now the lights are all set and ready to be turned on whenever I so desire. I’m not one to wait until after turkey day to decorate for Christmas so they’ll probably be on at night rather soon.

By the time I was done tidying up my outside areas, there wasn’t enough time left to mow before I had to pick up my youngest daughter from school. She had half days this week and I babysat her Wednesday and yesterday until her father could pick her up. I always love more time with my girls so it’s never a problem taking them. Although there wasn’t time to mow, there was time for a short walk with Jazzmin so she and I set out.

It was shortly before 11 a.m. when we headed out for our walk and it was so nice out that I was wearing shorts and a tank top! It’s a rare treat indeed for it to be warm enough for that in an Upstate NY November. Jazzmin loved the walk as usual and when we got back, I packaged up my latest order of earrings to ship to their new owner. I’m always happy when someone else loves my jewelry as much as I do! It inspires me and motivates me to create more lovelies, which is extremely helpful since I need to build up more inventory after a run of successful sales.

image

After picking my youngest daughter up from school, we stopped at the post office to mail the earrings and then headed home to enjoy the afternoon. She spent quite a while swinging in the warm sunshine and was happy to be done with school for the week. It was lovely having her for some bonus Friday time. I finally managed to get the mower running and did the section of the back yard that was especially long but left the rest unmowed and covered with leaves.

image

When Jaycie’s father picked her up, it was 3 p.m. and still just too nice to stay inside so I decided to take Jazzmin for a second, longer walk. We went up the big hill and relished in the sunshine and warmth. There were grasshoppers jumping across the road, crickets chirping in the fields, peeper frogs in the ponds and streams and I even saw a small yellow butterfly fluttering by.

image

Once we got back home, I gave Jazzmin her post walk treat and headed out into my back yard in bare feet. I walked back to the small crop of milkweed plants growing by the southeast corner of my property and smiled at the abundance of white fluffy seeds bursting free of the plant pods.
image

image

I grabbed a few handfuls of seeds that were trying to work free of the pods and sent them into the air to carry my wishes and gratitude through the breeze.
image

If the calendar didn’t say November, I would’ve sworn yesterday was an early spring day and not a late autumn day. It certainly made me feel that November had given all the nice days it could and wanted to go out on a high note. I think it accomplished that perfectly.

Deflecting Deer Flies

Shoofly deer fly repellent

My weapon to deflect deer flies!

I’ve lived in this region of Upstate NY since 2002, but I’d never encountered a deer fly until the summer of 2012, the second summer in my home. I think it has to do with the fact that my house sits across the road from a stream-filled ravine in front and has a large, hay field behind it. The combination of wet from the stream and abundance of deer and critters behind me creates the perfect environment for deer flies.

If you don’t know what deer flies are then I’m quite jealous! They’re flies about the size of a house fly and they love to swarm around in hot weather, landing and biting on whatever living creature comes along. When they first appear, they’re abundant in my driveway, especially the end by the road, but they also buzz and bite in my back yard when I take Jazzmin out. Getting the mail required constant swatting to keep the buggers at bay and walking Jazz becomes so unpleasant, it’s not always the summer heat that keeps us inside.

I’ve searched online in the past for suggestions to keep deer flies from landing and biting, but I discovered that the usual bug repellents don’t work well. I read up about these double stick strips you can put on a hat or something. The strips attract the deer flies and the buggers then become stuck and can’t escape to bite you. The idea of walking around with dead and dying deer flies on a strip on my person didn’t appeal though so I continued to search for other suggestions.

Thankfully, I finally found something that works! When the deer flies starting being a nuisance in the late spring this year, I did my usual online search for help and this time, something different came up. One of the top results in my Google search for “deer fly repellent” was something called Shoofly Deerfly Repellent. As it had deer fly right in the name, it sounded promising! I clicked on the link and found myself on the website for Blackberry Creek Soaps out of Wisconsin. The page talked about the Shoo Fly All Natural Deer Fly Repellent Soap and the Shoo Fly All Natural Deer Fly Repellent Spray and what they were effective against. There were also several positive reviews by happy customers (I still need to write my own) so I decided to get the soap and the spray and give them a try.

It took a while for the products to arrive, but once they did, I eagerly tried them out. I used the spray first because it seemed easier for me to apply. It has a very strong smell that took me a while to get used to, but as it’s all natural, I was okay with that. I sprayed my arms, collarbone and back of neck, got Jazz all ready and we headed out on our walk.

To my utter amazement, the deer flies still circled us but they didn’t land and bite! They did eventually get at my ears, but ever since then I put a little spray on my fingers and rub it on my ears and forehead and that keeps them from biting there. The deer flies circled above me and occasionally landed in my hair (I imagine wearing some sort of hair clip sprayed with the stuff would prevent that) but they didn’t bite me. I was thrilled! Not only did it keep the deer flies away, it also kept black flies and mosquitoes away! I’d finally found something capable of deflecting deer flies and protecting my skin from their nasty bites! Me wearing the spray keeps them from descending down to Jazz’s level so she’s free of bites too even though I don’t put any spray on her.

I tried using the soap bar too, but found it harder to use and not as effective. That’s probably operator error and not the product’s fault. Considering my personal success using the product, I would recommend it to anyone dealing with biting insects. I love that it’s all natural and I’ve grown to like the smell. I don’t feel bad about leaving it on my skin and by the following day, the scent has faded anyway. I recommend spraying arms and other areas flies might land with the spray and then rubbing it around with your hands to make sure you’re thoroughly covered because opportunistic biting flies will find any opening to get you. I’m very happy to finally have some protection against them and now the only thing that keeps Jazz and I from walking are hot temperatures, just as it should be in summer.

My shadow has four paws

Jazz in my shadow by JulieAnn Corbin

Even on days when the sun hides behind the clouds, I have a shadow and she has four paws. My shadow is my pup Jazzmin and as I’ve said many times, I can’t imagine my life without her. Inside my house, she’s always nearby. Usually when I get up from my desk, she gets up too and follows me or is the speedbump behind my chair that I almost trip over. Unless she’s snoring happily away in her crate (which she is right now) she keeps her eye on me and is always ready to play and of course, walk.

Along with Jazzmin, I have three cats and while they love me unconditionally just like Jazz, they show it differently. Jazzmin always comes when called while the cats come most of the time unless they’re sleeping or just plain ignoring me. Jazz is always eager to please and expresses happiness when she sees me and her unique doggy “smile” always brightens my day.

As any dog owner knows, having a constant companion that never judges you is a wonderful thing! I can ramble to Jazz about anything and she doesn’t think I’m crazy, odd or weird. Well, she might, but she doesn’t speak human so I don’t really know. I think mostly she’s just happy I’m talking to her and that’s not something that can be said of all the humans I’ve encountered.

Jazzmin doesn’t care that I don’t quite “fit in” with other humans or that my personality doesn’t always sit well with people, all she cares is that her mama loves her, feeds her, plays with her and takes her for walks every day. I can be 100% myself with Jazzmin and my other pets and they still love me. There’s truly something to be said for the unconditional love of animals.

The clarity of low visibility

image

Low visibility looking down the big hill

The very wintry weather lately has made it difficult to walk Jazzmin but with all the roads plowed today, I decided it was time to set boots and booties to snowy road and take a walk. Once my girls had been picked up, I changed into my walking clothes, got Jazz sweatered, backpacked and bootied up and headed out.

It was lightly snowing as we walked carefully down the driveway to avoid slipping on the ice below the most recent dusting of snow. Once safely on the salted and slightly snowy road, we easily found our pace and the fresh, chilly winter air felt wonderful to breathe in. By the time we reached the end of my road, the light snow had turned into big, heavy flakes and shortly after turning left onto the next road, the snow changed again to a mix of fluffy flakes and tiny snowballs.

image

Light snow shortly after we turned onto the second road

I wasn’t sure how long of a walk we were going to take, but I enjoyed the tranquility of the snow and crispness of the air so much, we kept going right up the big hill. The snow got progressively heavier as we walked and the visibility became quite low, but as I was walking, I didn’t mind at all. It would’ve been a different story if I was driving, but when I’m walking I can see exactly where I’m going and don’t have to worry about my car tires slipping or sliding. My boots and Jazz’s booties had no problem keeping traction as the road and our bodies became coated with snow.

image

A very snowy Jazzmin

When there weren’t any cars driving by, it was very calming listening to the falling snow. The air was still and the limited visibility from the heavy snowfall helped bring clarity to my mind, heart and spirit. Walking always helps recharge me and quiet my hectic mind as the fresh air fills my lungs and the exercise works my muscles. By the time we reached the top of the big hill my thighs were mostly frozen, my hair was coated with snow, my glasses were wet and foggy and Jazz wasn’t exactly thrilled to be covered in snow, but I was still smiling and she was still trotting along.

image

Jazz trotting along

I’ve said this before but it still holds true, taking a walk when you’re down, confused, anxious or worried can do amazing things! It does amazing things when you’re feeling up too, but when your mood really needs a boost, get off your butt and walk! I know I’m glad I did and it helped remind me how resilient, strong, determined and amazing I am. With my pup beside me and a path before me, there’s nothing I can’t handle!