Sunday, January 30, 2011

To Bea or not to Bea

The visit to the vet was uneventful, other than Beatrice found the rectal thermometer rather undignified. But they seem okay. And thanks to the six-week trial vet insurance we got with the adoption, we saved about $100 in fees.

It's so strange having pets again. As much time as Smokey took because of his diabetes and his grumpy old man behaviours and needs, these kittens are taking a lot more of my mental and emotional energy. Mostly, I'm concerned about their socialization and trust. The past week and a half has been devoted to being with them and getting them used to me and learning to associate me with happy things, like food. Hell, I missed two dance classes over it.

Makes me remember getting Smokey and Jerry when I was 10. They were young and helpless, and I bonded to them immediately. I started fretting early on about the day they would grow old and die. I loved them so much I couldn't bear the knowledge I'd outlive them. Haven't gotten there with Sprinkles and Beatrice yet. Reason being, they haven't been as receptive to the love. They're older kittens, about 16 weeks as it turns out, and they likely missed many important weeks of socialization.

Kind of a fascinating thing. We bond so easily to living creatures that look like they need us, but it really takes more than a sweet face or their acceptance of our comfort to nurture love. It takes knowing that your affection is welcomed and reciprocated. They're still reacting from fear, though it's lessening every day. I don't think we'll really truly bond until they let go of their fear and start to really trust us, giving us the benefit of their kitty doubt that we have good intentions.

I have a lot of patience for this sort of thing. I'll wait them out, earn their trust and then have the satisfaction of loving them so much I'll dread losing them. What a reward for really loving someone, eh?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Etsy and Kitties

Okay, so I am addicted to Etsy. Mostly just browsing Etsy. It's incredible. I mean, how many talented artisans are there out there? Obviously not the ones that wind up on Regretsy, but you know. Online shopping has never been so good. It's like browsing a crafts fair, only you don't have to push through crowds, walk past boring booths or get a sunburn or exhaustion.

So I've been scoping out accessories for the wedding. I've found the hair piece, purse and jewellery I want, all on Etsy. And the beautiful part is they're inexpensive and I can read all the reviews of satisfied buyers. How did people shop for shit like this before the internet? They had to haul ass around various bridal shops, take whatever was available, and pay through the nose for it. Huge waste of time and monies.

I'm tempted to post pictures of my picks, but the Dude reads this puppy and I don't want him to see anything I'm going to wear.

Another thing I plan to get online is the cat cabin. Oh yes. As soon as we've moved downstairs, I'm buying that thing and plunking it down in my office. And of course the cuteness of watching kittens play in their own house will prevent me from ever being productive again.

The socialization of Bea and Sprinkles is coming along. I have them eat out of my hand now, as a way of building trust and initiating contact. The Dude hasn't had as much time with them as I have, so they're taking longer to warm to him. But Sprinkles and Bea are eating out of his hand as I write this and it's charming as heck. Bea is purring up a storm.

Thing is this happiness may not last long. I have to take them to the vet. Their eyes are sore and watery and Sprinkles is sneezing. I looked up the symptoms online and what they have appears to be a standard mild illness. But if it goes untreated, it'll make them uncomfortable for a long time. So off they go, and they'll get stressed out and the trust exercises will no doubt have to start all over again. That is, after we force them into their carrier, take them out in the cold, have a stranger handle them, force them back into the carrier, and then administer medications for potentially a couple weeks.


It's not like kids. Kids, though more challenging to raise and more expensive and time-consuming, will love you no matter what. Cats, though, cats are not such a sure thing. Cats can carry a grudge.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things to do in hibernation

Another one of my late-night posts, brought to you by insomnia, the chill throughout the apartment, and the letter H.

Seriously, this place is chilly. And there's extreme cold afoot in this city. 'Tis a chilly time to be alive. We have a heater that runs in the living room and with the new kittens getting used to the place, we have the door shut. This traps all the lovely heat in here, but unfortunately leaves the rest of the apartment in a sort of arctic deep freeze. No, no, that's being dramatic. It's more of a gentle frost.

Either way, it's about 15 degrees out there if not less and that's mighty damn cold for indoors. So I can't bear to leave the living room because it's too pleasant in here. Plus this is where Beatrice and Sprinkles are.

Life with the kittens is lovely. They play and pounce and Sprinkles probably has ADD. We've progressed to being able to hold and cuddle them and in a couple more days we'll introduce them to the rest of the apartment. Hopefully they'll sleep in bed with us after awhile. Nothing beats kitty snuggles in a warm cozy bed.

I haven't been leaving the house much, mostly because of the weather, but I did get out on the coldest day of the year for the Tim Burton exhibition downtown and managed to get filmed from afar by the CBC for a story on the holy frozen shit weather we were having. McPal was there and his stink eye to the camera was captured centre stage. Well done, sir!

I've been doing some online shopping and perusing to find things I want for my wedding. I've found all the decorative items I want, plus beauty things, and potentially a cake. Back in the day I would have had to tromp about the city in the snow, but thanks to the information age I can browse reviews of various vendors and narrow my choices. I've gotten to a point where shopping online has become a science. I've been burned a few times, but with practice I've had that experience less and less.

Actually, I found my kittens on the internet. I love technology.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The quest of foibles

I think I already love the cats, and I'll tell you why.

So today I had to work, but I checked in on the kitties to see how they were doing. Got more of the old hide routine, and Miss Bea had lodged herself through the barriers the Dude and I had placed around the couch.

We had shooed them out from under there and blocked off all the ways to escape back into the space. Their eyes had grown a little watery from the dust under there, and we didn't want them breathing all that crud in. So one of the barriers was a blanket we'd stuffed in the crack between the couch and the floor. Well, this morning Bea found a way in.

So I looked up other options. If we couldn't keep them from hiding under there, maybe we could make the room more enticing to be in. I made some calls to pet stores and found a plug-in scent thing that releases what is a calming natural odour that is supposed to mimic happy cat pheromones.

So I made a call. I would take an hour off work, walk to this pet store 20 minutes away, stop by this indie cafe to try a coffee en route, get the stuff at the store and trek home. It was damn hell ass cold, but I figured I could use the walk and I didn't want to waste tokens, as I only had two left.

So I'm out there, bundled and losing my face to the frost and I reach the cafe 10 minutes after my iPod died on me. I reach into my purse and realize I forgot my wallet at home. So far a very disappointing and irritating start to my quest. I'd already been out for nearly 20 minutes. So I walked back and arrived at home almost 40 minutes later from when I left completely empty-handed and chilled to the pancreas.

But I think about the kitties and don't want it all to be for naught, so I grab my wallet and head back out. Only this time I take the subway because I can't face the freezing walk of already-covered and re-traced ground. Plus I have to get back to work. So I go in the station and see that the train is delayed. I watch the train on the other side come and go for awhile, and finally my train arrives.

When I'm on the train I hear the next station announcement and realize I'm going the wrong way. Yes, out of habit I went to my familiar, regular side of the side of the station and went east. And then I thought of all those westbound trains I saw go by, that I could have been on. So I get out, cross the station, get on the next train and make my way in the right direction.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful. I got my coffee, I got my plug-in scent, and for good measure I also bought a cat bed and another dangle toy. And you bet your ass I took the TTC back. And what should have taken shy of an hour took me nearly two.

And I don't resent any of it. And the cats aren't out of hiding yet, and I'm feeling patient. And with this patience and the going out twice in the cold and spending another $70 without thinking, I know I love them. The Dude and I, we got a lotta love to give these critters. We just have to wait.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The first 48

It's so weird! We have kittens, but it's like we don't. They're under the couch. There's enough space under there for them to play and nap comfortably, so they're hanging out there a lot. Sometimes I forget we adopted any kitties. But it's been less than 48 hours since we brought them home. Patience is the key.

And they came out and played last night. Oh man, it was to die for. The Dude and I watched and tried not to make sudden moves while they explored the living room and scampered about and lunged at the scratching post. They have to come out to eat, drink and use the litter, and they're getting a wee bit bolder about it.

I guess it's just them learning how to trust us. They look over their shoulders constantly when they eat or pee, like they're nervous we'll come disturb them. At first if we made any eye contact at all they would scurry off. Now they're okay with being watched while they play. We still can't pet them, though. We're waiting for them to get comfortable with us walking around first, because as soon as we're up, they're outta here.

I'll post pictures when more are available. On Facebook I threw up some ones the Dude took to appease my supportive friends who were begging for some kitten pictures. But I'll hold out till we have some proper ones.

Sprinkles is very bold and frenetic about her play. Beatrice is more reserved and cautious. They cuddle each other under the couch. I'm already loving them. Once they let me pet and hold them, I'm pretty sure I'll be a goner for these cats pretty much for all time.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Kitten Quest


So yesterday I had had enough waiting around for kittens to fall into my lap. I'd tried the bigger adoption agencies, but realized I needed to branch out. So this is what the Internet is for. Back in the day you had to go to the Humane Society or scour the paper or know someone who's cat gave birth. Now you Google.

So I Googled things like "kitten adoption" or "kittens for sale" and eventually came across an ad for a small-time rescue agency. She traps feral cats, gets them vet attention, fixes them and adopts them out. I saw pictures I really liked of two female kitties a few months in age and made a call. She asked me some questions about my pet-owning criteria (no declawing, how long I planned to keep them, past ownership) and she said I could get them that day.

And I was not prepared. And so of course I said yes.

We made an appointment to meet at her place for 9:00. I called the Dude to tell him I'd found us kittens. He was jazzed, being the cat lover he is, and we started strategizing. We'd rent a zip car to pick them up, I'd run out to withdraw the adoption fee and buy some supplies: litter box, litter scoop, food, carrier, toys...

We got totally lost en route to see them. My fault, my fault... There are a variety of reasons I don't have a license. My inability to understand directions is one of them. If it's straightforward, I'm okay. As soon as a road has something particular about it, an unusual turn or whatever, forget it. Just forget it. We had to call three times to sort it out. The Dude, god love 'im, was patient about it, if not a little unimpressed.

So we get there with the bright pink carrier I just bought and met the girls. They were shy and nervous, but not aggressive. Their faces were to die for and they were very soft. I was going to name the blonde-orange one Pumpkin, and leave the pastel calico to the Dude to name. He likes people names for pets and I like cliches.

But Pumpkin didn't seem to suit this blonde kitty and I named the calico Sprinkles. Yes, Sprinkles. Try saying that without smiling. It's impossible. And the blonde was named Beatrice. So it's Beatrice and Sprinkles, who are now living under the couch.

We've got their food, litter, toys and carrier in the living room. Once they're comfortable enough to leave their cave of dustbunnies, we'll start introducing them to the rest of the apartment. They've had quite an exciting life so far. First they were strays, then they went into a shelter, then into a foster home with a bunch of animals and then to the lady's house where we picked them up. And they only moved there a week ago. So they'll be needing some time to adjust.

So the kitten quest is over, and now it's time to earn some love. I keep thinking about that commercial about adopting pets and how the dog doesn't want to play ball and the voiceover says the best part about adopting a pet is when they adopt you. When they come out and trust us enough to want to get to know us, I'll be so happy. And then of course I'll have some pictures to share.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Not Much

I've been working the overtime and actually leaving the house for the sake of a social life. And yet I've not felt the need to write. I have no topics on hand. No musings. No reminiscing. Possibly I'm in a state of stasis until I get my beloved kittens. Oh, how I want kittens.

The Dude and I have plans to see the Tim Burton exhibition this week with McPal and his boyfriend, and we saw a movie this evening. I also went to Simpson's Trivia, and my friend who moved to Chicago spent the night recently and I've been going to dance. So I've been social. Definitely been a hermit, but not a total recluse.

And that's a good thing. Because the snowier it gets, the more resolved I get to stay at home. And I need new boots. Mine have holes in the sole and the heel on the right foot has gone wonky, making a clip-clop noise akin to a horse hoof whenever I walk. Which I like. I like the clip-clop, but the holes make for soakers and soakers make for a bad day. I could go out and buy new ones, but of course that would involve leaving the house.

I think in a past life I may have been a bear. Hibernating sounds lovely.

I miss being a kid. I used to like making snowmen and snow forts. Oh, I loved me a good fort. That was my favourite part of school in the winter. I went to schools with large expansive yards and even when I got too old to make the forts I always kept my eye on which ones were my favourites and which ones I'd play in if only it wouldn't be so fatally uncool of my bad 13-year-old self.

I also liked ice skating. There was a rink a 5-minute walk from my house, just across the park. Tobogganing was great. My mom would take my brother and I to the golf course when it snowed and at the school and daycare I went to the kids made ice hills, no sled required.

Being an adult in the winter doesn't quite hold the same magic, not unless you're a skier or snowboarder or something like that. For me it's become about avoiding the slush.

And of course that means fewer life experiences during the chill of winter, and thus fewer blog posts. So all the more reason for kittens, yes? Yes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I was reflecting last night while I was on the way to a Simpson's Trivia event. I was thinking about my early 20s. The first thing I thought of was, Wow, I had no responsibilities. And that's not even entirely true. I had to go to work, pay my bills and provide for my cats. And it's not as though now I'm overloaded, not at all.

But I really was freer then. I didn't have any long-term goals to save for, so I spent what I made, which wasn't much. I left town for the weekend rather often compared to now. I travelled more frequently. I checked in with nobody and had only myself and my own needs to consider.

And it's not as though I'm overly burdened now with obligations. I tried to think of how my life was different now at 28 than it was when I was 23. The biggest difference I guess was that I was newly single then and hung out a lot with my girlfriends and we'd have drinks. I was also living alone and right downtown.

But fundamentally, the biggest difference is the Dude. We live together in such as way now that there are aspects of my life I no longer even think about because he takes care of them. On the other side of the coin, there are areas of concern (for two) that now fall entirely on me. We've developed a reliance on each other to make our lives function properly. If one of us is remiss, our quality of life goes down.

And not long ago I was hit by the magnitude of that attachment and what getting married means. It will mean that we choose to take this mutual reliance on each other further, that we're going to be a joint unit in life, that our lives no longer belong exclusively to us as individuals, but to each other.

My responsibilities haven't changed all that much except in this one major regard. I'm now taking on the responsibility of being a permanent partner in life to another person. I can no longer think about only myself again. And any investment of time or effort into the Dude's career on my part will become not resources taken from me, but resources put towards us. Our future will be tangibly linked.

As startling a personal revelation that was for me, and while it really made me think about the importance of this decision, I also felt good about it. Living together has taught me a lot, but thinking about actual marriage made me realize the two aren't the same, at least not to me.

I'm looking forward to cementing our relationship. We'll have been together around five years at that point. Absolutely wild.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I want kittens

Oh man, I want kittens. I feel like I'm getting the runaround from the cat rescue agency I've been in contact with. The actual head of the organization is great. She gets back to me. But the foster owner I've been trying to connect with won't return my phone calls. I left one a week ago and it turned out she was out of town till Friday.

So Friday evening I called, figuring she may or may not wish to take a call, but no harm in trying. She sent me to voicemail, so I didn't leave another message. Then Saturday I made a call in the afternoon and did leave a message.

Now it's Sunday and she still hasn't returned my calls and I've been waiting a week to meet these guys. I won't post their picture yet because I don't want to get ahead of myself. But they're three months old and bonded and I feel very drawn to them. I miss feline companionship a lot.

It's frustrating. I'm the sort of person that would have taken the call Friday and would never make someone wait on me on the job. Not everyone's the same, but I can't help but feel put off that days are passing by and my calls are going unreturned by someone whose job it is to find these cats a home.

But there are happy things underway. We got the apartment downstairs. And we negotiated with our landlord, so we're only paying an extra $75 apiece for more room, a yard (!) and a real kitchen. Sweet happiness. I'm going to have an office, we're going to be connected to our laundry room, and we can grow a proper garden. There will be room for my six-person kitchen table, a suitable place for a litter box (If we don't have kittens by then, may God help us all), and the Dude will have an annex for his photography stuff.

2011 is going to be a good year: kittens, new place and an easy move, and the wedding. Damn, that's very adult sounding, isn't it? Though it could be more adulty. I could be pregnant and getting a mortgage. Not this year, yo.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Ring

So I said I would talk about my ring and the story behind it. I touched a bit on where it comes from when I first got engaged. It was my mother's and it was her mother's before that.

But there's a bit more to the story. I almost lost the damn thing once, due to naivete and a sneaky old bat.

I technically inherited the ring when I was 16, but my aunt held on to it for me until I was 20 (Or around there). Sensible choice. If it's one thing teenagers can't be trusted with, it's anything of importance. But seriously, no. 16 is no age to take charge of a family ring.

The ring itself was a gift from my Poppie to my Grammy for a wedding anniversary, their 25th, I believe. It was the one item of jewellery that my mother had from her mom and I never saw her wear it. She didn't have a lot of occasion in her life to dress up or wear fine things. She didn't own many fine things, if she owned any at all. She spent her money on the mortgage, gas, insurance, food and things for my brother and I. Her pleasures in life were books, her friends and Tetris on our NES. The ring lived in her jewellery box, which was shaped like a treasure chest, and it never came out.

So when I got it at the still young age of 20, I had no specific memories of the ring. I never saw it on a finger. I just knew it was valuable, and its value was due 90% to the fact it was owned by two women before me, dead and gone, who I loved.

My dad developed this paranoia about the ring. He'd bring it up, he'd envision it getting stolen. He wanted it out of the house. He suggested it go to my Poppie's, since it originally came from him and he'd probably happily look after it for me. Probably he had a safety deposit box.

So on a visit to see Poppie one day during summer break from college, I presented him the ring, watched his face light up and felt good about the choice to let this trusted adult hang on to it for me. I went to see him with the boyfriend I had at the time, Buddy B. Also there was Poppie's companion, Wilma. Wilma said something that day that I didn't pick up on, but that B was astute enough to note:

"I would never try to take that ring from you, Jendra."

That gave B a "huh" in his mind that he filed for later. Seemed an odd thing to say out of the blue, as people with no intentions to take things don't think to state that it won't happen.

I saw Poppie and Wilma with B a few more times before Poppie abruptly moved away to a small town (Wilma's home base) some hours away. With no way to get there, I was at a loss. Not only were our visits over, but my ring was now out of my reach as well. But while I was nervous, I decided to relax and have faith in Poppie.

A couple years went by when suddenly Poppie was moving back to our hometown, and had an appointment with his lawyer. All seemed very intriguing, and I was making plans to see him within the month. A lot had changed since he moved. For one, I was now dating someone new, Ex-R. Also I was done college and had a bit more freedom to make travel plans back home.

Then Poppie died. He basically got home and passed away. So up I came, and my aunt flew in from across the country and we took stock of our situation. Things were odd. Wilma was in poor health, her daughters were nowhere to be seen, even though she lost her companion, and even after she had a bad fall and my family had to break into the house and rescue her.

My aunt started to take charge. She took Poppie and Wilma's car out to run errands for the funeral and to get food and other things. Wilma started getting paranoid about the car, hinting that my aunt was trying to take it away. Then I got the sinking feeling. My ring. What if in the will there was no mention of the ring?

So I told my aunt the situation. And she took me in hand and asked Wilma about its whereabouts. Wilma didn't know. We looked. Nothing. The house was unpacked and the ring was missing, and being a valuable, this was unlikely to have been misplaced, not with everything else in its proper spot.

In the end I had to go home to Toronto and beat myself up for being so careless with an heirloom that was now seemingly in the hands of a mercenary old woman. Upon reflection I saw it all, how she never left me alone with Poppie, how she followed us everywhere and how we couldn't have a private conversation, how she went out of her way to tell me she'd never take my ring.

I wept over my mistake. I felt stupid and betrayed, and I felt as though I let my mother and Grammy down.

Then one day I got a letter in the mail. My last name was spelled wrong, but it was for me. My ring was located and if I could make arrangements to get it, it was mine. I was jubilant. Grateful. Words don't describe feeling as though a grave error has been fixed for you.

I called my aunt, who filled me in on what the letter had not: Why was I getting it back? Wilma had kept all my Grammy's collectible keepsakes. I was certain she was going to keep my ring. This is where my family gets awesome. My aunt filled in her brother on what had happened. He was the executor of Poppie's will. From that moment on, not a thing would be done by him until the business of the ring was settled and I had it back. Then Wilma could see her way to her inheritance.

And suddenly the ring emerged. From the trunk of the car. Seems it had been there the whole time.

Ex-R drove me to Wilma's daughter's home, where I got my ring. It was strangely familiar for something I had seen so little of. The daughter had me sign a paper saying I got it back. I thought all was well, but she felt the need to tell me how difficult my family was, and how all they wanted was for it to be over with.

With my family ring in hand, I channelled the women who owned it, looked her in the eye and didn't take the bait, "I'm sure we all want the same thing. Thank you. Goodbye."

And after all that, I still never wore it. It caused me joy, it caused me grief, it was a source of pride and anxiety for me. And it just sat there, in the treasure chest jewellery box I kept from my mother.

So when it came time for me to tell the Dude what ring I wanted, and after some long thought (I originally said a sapphire), I realized the ring I was meant to have and wear was already in the apartment. You don't go through that much effort and emotion for a ring that isn't going to be a part of your life.

So now it's on my finger. Some people are surprised about it's origins, that it was already mine and didn't come from the Dude. But on my hand is two women I loved and admired, effort and determination from family who truly gave a damn about me, a long journey full of intrigue, and now it's symbolizing an important commitment I'm going to make to the man I love.

You can't buy all that in a store. This thing's got history. The next woman who gets it in my family (Hopefully my own daughter) is going to need to share a bottle of wine with me while I tell its story. Already looking forward to that.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hello 2011

I rang in the new year with friends and woke up sick as a dog, through no fault of my own. And by that, I mean I didn't have a hangover, I had a sore throat, fever, aches and a stuffy nose. I'm glad I'm not superstitious, because otherwise that and my messy apartment would be a real concern for entering 2011.

So 2010 was quite the year for me. It's not like I didn't chronicle everything in here already, big and small, but I do like to sum up things, so here we go, in chronological order:
  • Hired maid service for the first time
  • Hosted an Oscar party
  • Went to California for a wedding
  • Danced in the spring gala
  • Saw Lady Gaga in concert
  • Tried hot yoga
  • McPal moved into the city
  • Got engaged
  • Booked a venue for the wedding
  • Smokey died
  • Dude was best man at his brother's wedding
  • Went to Mexico and saw my family
  • Was in my cousin's wedding
  • Bought my wedding dress
  • Turned 28 years old
  • Went on extended trip home to our hometown
Add to that various parties, movies, books, visits with friends and great meals, and that's been my year. It was a good one.

2011 is the year the Dude and I plan to get married, but before that we're getting kittens! We still have to wait a week, however. Yes, yes, life is rough. I suppose it's safe to say that the year will also comprise of planning a wedding. I still have to find flowers, a cake, a DJ, wedding rings, and an officiant.

And of course, get over this stupid cold. *Hack* *Wheeze* *Sniffle* At least I got in a good new year's party before I came down with this. It was a really fun night: good company, tasty food, games, drinks, and celebration. And good thing I enjoyed it, too, because the rest of my holiday vacation is likely to be spent in bed.