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.

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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.

Mowing to the Music

mowed lawn

My unique mowing patterns in the back yard. =)

It’s no secret that my yard isn’t the most perfect yard in the neighborhood, but I do the best I can on my own and with balancing everything else I have to do. Many of my neighbors mow every few days and more power to them if that’s what makes them happy. However, with my busy schedule and lack of enthusiasm for mowing, I usually only mow every two weeks. Interestingly enough, when I’m done mowing, my grass looks the same as my neighbors who mow more often than I do. Well, almost the same…

You see, every time I finish mowing my lawn, it looks a little different than the time before. I hadn’t mowed any yard until I bought my current house in the summer of 2011 and my first time mowing was a learning experience. I’ve gotten better at mowing over the years and it only takes me around an hour a half compared to the two plus hours it used to take me. I’m certainly not about having neat rows and the perfect looking lawn, I usually just want to get the work done and get on with more enjoyable or productive endeavors. Sometimes I miss spots and have to go back and I have trees to go around and sometimes I take turns too sharp and have to double back.

To make mowing go faster and have some degree of enjoyment, I always listen to music while I’m mowing. I put my earbuds in and then put my ear protection ear muffs on because I know earbuds are not sufficient for protecting my hearing from the loudness of the mower. I plug my earbuds into my phone and put on my latest “mowing mix” of up tempo dance type music and get to mowing.

My mind tends to wander while I’m mowing. Heck, my mind wanders pretty much all the time and always has. When I’m mowing I think about all sorts of things. I figure out story lines in my latest book, think about future blog posts, mentally go through my to do list, or dream up scenarios that will probably never come true. I pay enough attention to what I’m doing to dodge beneath low tree limbs and stop for crossing butterflies, but otherwise my mind is usually worlds away from my 1.4 acres of land in Upstate New York.

Well, this last time I mowed, my mind apparently wandered so far and I got so lost in the music, that I mowed on a peculiar automatic pilot. I thought I’d done my usual mowing job, but when I looked out into my back yard the next morning, I saw some rather odd patterns. I imagine I must’ve gone back over missed spots and around trees more carefully, but I think a lot of it was just because I was so uplifted by my music and my thoughts that I just went with the flow. The weather wasn’t too hot for the first time in many months and it was the Friday before I got my girls, so I had plenty to be happy about.

Whatever the reason for my peculiar and puzzling patterns, I still managed to get my lawn mowed and I don’t have to worry about it for another two weeks hopefully. While my lawn may not be perfect or up to the standards of some and it certainly doesn’t have straight lines, the point is that it’s my lawn and I can do whatever I want with it. It’s very empowering owning my own land and being able to do as I please on it without being told I’m doing it wrong or that it needs to meet certain standards. Sometimes it can be a bit challenging living in the middle of rural nowhere, but most of the time, it’s exactly what I need.

So I say, what the heck, mow to the music, dance along to the beats while riding your tractor. Sing along if you want to. Anything that can transform an unpleasant chore into a bit of fun and adventure is more than okay in my book. And if people think you’re crazy, well…welcome to the club. 😉

Turning Over Familiar Leaves

Canandaigua Lake, September 1 2018

Winds whipping the leaves of a tree on the shores of Canandaigua Lake, New York

As I imagine most parents know, summer break from school tends to create some notable schedule changes. I am fortunate that I work from home as a transcriber for Rev.com because I get to spend time with my girls when they’re home. I do however still have to work and it can be challenging finding a balance between family and work during the summer when they’re home all day. Even so, I love my girls and I do my best to work just enough without having them think that all I do is work. Not easy, but I try.

Nonetheless, summer break doesn’t last forever. I’ve enjoyed every extra moment I’ve had with my girls, but school starts up for them again this coming Tuesday and it will then be back to the usual school year routine. I do my transcribing work while they’re at school Monday and Tuesday and then focus on them when they get home. For the remaining days of the week they go to their father’s house and I focus fully on transcription and college work. While I always miss my girls when I don’t have them, I know that my days without them serve and important purpose.

Along with school starting soon, my favorite season of autumn will also be starting soon. We’ve already had a couple of days of pre-fall weather here in Upstate New York and I enjoyed the cooler temperatures and ability to turn the air conditioning off and leave the windows open. Summer weather has currently returned to my area, but I know fall will settle in eventually and I look forward to it with enthusiasm.

As the familiar predictable school schedule returns and the leaves begin to turn, it’s time for me to turn over some familiar leaves. By this I mean it’s time for me to get back into blogging more regularly. With all the things I have going on in my life, writing tends to get lost in the chaos and I can’t continue to let that happen. Writing is a big part of who I am and most of the writing I’ve done over the summer has been for college courses.

College writing is very important of course and it’s earned me some wonderful grades, but I know that writing for pleasure is also essential for my creativity. My creativity is what gives me the ability to take subjects I struggle with (or even dislike) and mesh them with subjects I’m passionate about to write some pretty astounding papers. I say astounding because I am usually astounded with what I come up with.

Fortunately, I’ve already got a jump-start on flexing my writing for pleasure muscles thanks to being given the opportunity to play World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, when it was in beta testing. I’ve never played a beta version of World of Warcraft before so I was very excited to receive such an immersive first look at a game world that I already love. Playing Battle for Azeroth Bet was an amazing experience for me and I loved having even a small impact in the final release of the game that was released on August 13th of this year.

What does World of Warcraft have to do with my writing? you ask. Well, playing in that new world with its beautiful settings and interesting new story lines inspired me to start writing about new characters in my Warcraft based books. I base my characters off the “toons” I play in the game because to me, they all already have unique personalities and stories to tell. That comes from being a writer perhaps.

I’ve already written several chapters in what will eventually be a complete book that follows a handful of rather diverse characters as they journey through Azeroth. I don’t really know what will happen with the book or what can happen with the book, but that’s not going to stop me from writing. It took me so many years to get my muse back after my father died that I’m not about to let her slip away again!

The Only Gift I Need

girls eating ice cream

My girls eating ice cream and showing their personalities.

Every year my daughters ask me what I want for Mother’s Day and every year I struggle to come up with something. Sometimes I’ll say maybe a new wind chime or a hanging plant for outside (which will subsequently perish because it was too hot or too cold or I forgot to water it or I over watered it). The reason I struggle with ideas is because I already have the only gift I need. That gift is my daughters and the blessing that I’m their mom.

I’ve said this many times, but I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I liked being a mom to my dolls, stuffed animals, and pets growing up and I thought being a mother to my own children would come naturally. Which it did. I’m still a mom to my three cats and one dog too, of course. Yes, I’ve had my share of challenges just like all moms, but I wouldn’t trade being a mom to my girls for anything in the world. My girls always have and always will come first in my life.

During the days I have my girls, I enjoy every moment with them. When I don’t have them because they’re with their father, I miss them immensely. I use my time without them to work on transcription and college assignments, so I can just focus on my girls when I have them again. I look forward to when I get to pick them up again, as I will be doing later this morning.

I’m sure all mothers think this, but my daughters are exceptional human beings. They’re both smart, clever, creative, and funny in their own way (as you can tell by the picture above) and I love watching them develop. It is bewildering to me that they’ll be turning 16 and 12 this summer as it seems like I gave birth to them just yesterday!

My oldest turning 16 sounds like such a monumental thing because she’ll be able to start driving and thus developing more independence. Fortunately for me, she’s not overly excited about driving (neither was I at her age), so I’m not too worried about that aspect quite yet. I’m daily amazed by what a mature and respectful young woman she is and how far removed she is from today’s “typical teenager.”

My youngest turning 12 and being on the cusp of being a teenager is also monumental. I’ve heard many people say, “Oh, wait until they’re teenagers.” But they don’t know my girls. My youngest is still the sweetest ray of sunshine, with a little clever wit and spiciness tossed in, and I don’t foresee any slamming doors or teenage tantrums. It’s actually impossible to slam bedroom doors in my house thanks to really thick, shag carpeting. 😉

I don’t consider myself an expert mom or a perfect mom, but I do the best I can. I love my girls and I make sure they know I love them. I spend time with them, I listen to them, and they always know that I support them and believe in them.

My advice for any mom would be to enjoy every single moment, even the tough ones. Because someday you’ll blink and your babies will be young adults and you’ll wonder where the time went and if you cherished it enough. I wonder this myself, but I know that I can’t reverse or stop time and that I just have to soak it all in and love my girls and the gift of motherhood with all my heart.

The Best Part of My Day and My Life

My girls being their fun selves.

The best part of my day and my life is any time I get to spend with my daughters. I have my girls every Monday and Tuesday, part of Wednesday and every other weekend and I enjoy every moment I have with them. We are a triumphant trio and we always have fun together. We make each other laugh, we create unique memories, we share inside jokes, and so much more.

I always look forward to the time I have with my girls and I make sure I have all or most of my work and college assignments done before I get them. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I get them up and off to school, do my transcription work, finish by the time I pick them up at 2 p.m. and then just focus on enjoying the rest of the day with them. Although I’ve gotten better at being alone without them, I never look forward to my time without them.

Tuesdays are always our leftover or hodge podge dinner night where we all eat leftovers or I make them each their favorite food. This past Tuesday, I made Jaycie and cheese and Jordan polish sausage and red beans and rice. I was planning on having turkey leftovers for dinner so that was just a matter of heating things up when their food was done. Even though I was almost a short order cook working in the kitchen to make three different meals, I was ridiculously happy doing so. Jordan would periodically come into the kitchen and we’d talk about our days while Jaycie was in the living room playing with her favorite Voltron toy.

There was just something so magical about making that food in the kitchen Tuesday night. I was working within the glow of the holiday lights decorating my kitchen, the room was warm as I had the stovetop burners going, and it was already growing dark outside. I felt so content and happy and at peace knowing that my most important and best role in this world is being a mom to my two girls.

A few months ago, Jordan started playing World of Warcraft, an online game I’ve been playing since 2008. She grew up watching me play it and she was so happy when I finally said she could play. Now don’t get me wrong, my girls and I aren’t lumps that sit around playing games all the time. We always go for walks and spend time outside when the weather is nice, but with winter settling in, we all need things inside to keep us occupied.

Plus, in many ways playing Warcraft together is bringing my oldest daughter and I closer. That may sound odd since we play in two different rooms, but when she’s playing one of her characters and I’m able to help her or she’s able to help me, that strengthens our bond. Having the enjoyment of that game in common and appreciating how it helps us escape the stresses of daily life helps us stay close and increases my daughter’s trust in me. She knows that she can ask me for help in real life just as much as she can ask for help in the game and that I’ll always be there for her and support her.

When we were playing the game this past Tuesday night, we both had toons doing the same quest and I would periodically yell down the hall from the living room to her bedroom and ask what stage she was at. My home isn’t very big at under 1,000 square feet, so I wasn’t shouting very loud to be heard and it was just another fun aspect of our relationship. I could have typed my questions in the game, but the verbal communication felt more personal somehow.

What was Jaycie doing while Jordan and I were playing Warcraft, you ask? She was sitting on the couch next to my desk playing with Voltron and watching funny cat videos that I’d periodically turn to watch with her. Do I think Jaycie feels left out because she doesn’t play the game? Nope. She has no interest in playing Warcraft and she’s quite content usually to play with her toys in her own little world. Plus, Jordan and I only play for about an hour before bedtime, so we all spend most of the evening together doing various things.

The hardest part of my life is when I go from such a high of togetherness, love, and contentment like what I felt on Tuesday night and every other moment with my girls, to being alone with just my pets when I don’t have the girls. I can get pretty down sometimes when I don’t have my girls, even when I keep myself occupied with work, college, beading, and Warcraft. Nothing else in this world compares to the joy I feel spending time with my girls and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a mom and it has always been and will always be my most fulfilling and important role in life.

Love Is An Apple Pie

heart apple pie

Love is an apple pie

Today marks eight years since the day my father passed away. As my father was a great cook and baker, I felt that an ideal way to honor his spirit this year was to bake an apple pie. I don’t actually remember my father baking many apple pies, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t. That just means that my memory is getting foggy in my “old age.”

What makes this pie lovingly special is that I made it with apples that my daughters picked just for me. My favorite pie apples are Gala apples because they’re so sweet and juicy. The girls went apple picking with their father last weekend and picked several apples that they thought were Gala. My youngest also picked some smaller “mystery” apples and I used all eight apples of various sizes in the pie. I have a favorite peeler I use when making pie and I’ve gotten quite good and fast at peeling. Once I peeled all the apples, I cut them  into thin, small pieces to ensure that they cooked through completely and were nice and soft. I use the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook recipe for apple pie with a few changes to make it my own.

The house smelled wonderful yesterday while the pie was baking, but as usual a bit of the pie juices leaked out and dripped onto the bottom of my oven. That didn’t smell so good, but it seems to be part of the process when I make pies so I’m used to it. I used a bit of the extra pie crust to make a heart on the top of the pie because everything I cook or bake is always made with love. To make sure the pie was “safe” for human consumption, I tried a piece last night and found it quite yummy. The apples in it were a bit more tart than I usually use so perhaps they aren’t Gala after all, but as they were picked by my daughters and used in a pie to honor my father, they are the best apples in the world!