Cooler Weather and Raccoons
Here in Savannah we are entering that absolutely wonderful time of the year when we can turn of the air conditioning and open the windows. Knowing that weather like this will get here eventually is what makes those six months in the blast furnace that they call “summer” down here bearable.
Of course having the windows open is leading to some interesting challenges. For starters some mornings I find it is a bit harder on my allergies, Savannah being the Allergy Capital of the Southeast and all. But hey, better living through chemistry, eh? I just keep taking my little allergy pill every morning and let it ride.
These days Fat Boy and Low Rider get an added dimension to their kitty TV. They can actually smell what they see through the windows. Since the boys are indoor cats, our resident cat whisperer, Gorgeous says this is added enrichment. And I can’t see how she’s wrong. Because sometimes it drives them absolutely bug-nuts. One or the other of them will start tearing from window to window, obviously frustrated because they can’t get at whatever is out there.
And then when we look it is usually just some birds at the feeder, or our neighborhood rabbit that comes in to eat whatever plants have sprouted from the uneaten bird seed under the feeder. Occasionally it is some other cat that isn’t sequestered like our boys are.
And then, every once in a while they go absolutely buggy because of a raccoon in the back yard. It is usually after dark since raccoons are nocturnal animals. And that makes them hard for us humans to see for sure. But we’ve caught enough glimpses that we’ve figured it out.
I’m thinking that the raccoons must be having a good year and the population is up somewhat. We’ve never had any in our yard before. I mean we live in a subdivision. It’s not like we are out in the country somewhere with lots of land around. And it seems there are more of them dead along the side of the road than in years past. There’s even a piece of road I travel every day that I’ve started to call Raccoon Alley because it isn’t unusual to see 6 or more carcases in a 2 mile stretch.
We think it is our backyard raccoon that caused another problem for us. The boys are still banished every evening because Low Rider refuses to let us sleep much past 3 or 4 AM on any given morning if he’s got roam of the house. We’d been closing them in Gorgeous’ office each night. Then this week she found about a 3 inch hole in the corner of the screen in her office window.
Now the way our house is built, we have big windows. Most of them go down to only about a foot off the ground level. They let in lots of light during the day and are at the perfect height for the boys to look out.
But apparently they are the perfect height for a raccoon to try to get in too. We know it wasn’t the boys because neither of them have their front claws so they couldn’t have gotten the tear started.
So, as a result of the attempted raccoon incursion we have moved the boy’s room of banishment from Gorgeous’ office to my study, litter pan and all. It’s on the front of the house, not the back so we figure that maybe the raccoon will be less likely to hassle them here. And Low Rider was kind enough to remind me the litter pan is in here as I’m typing this. Whew! Stinky!
But the whole thing begs a question. How do you keep a raccoon from tearing through the screen to get at your cats? And why would the raccoon want in at the cats anyway?
So now I have yet another minor home improvement project waiting for me. (And if you’ve read my post on Stupid Questions you’ll know that HIP’s are really not my thing.) And I’ll have to get on it soon because the hole may not be big enough for a raccoon to get in, but I bet Low Rider could wiggle through if he decided to. (No way Fat Boy could make it!)
Oh, and if you were looking for some deep spiritual insight from all of this, I’m sorry to disappoint. I just figured we could stand for a bit of a breather from all the heavy “what is truth?” talk. 😉
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Big Questions from Stepping in Something Squishy
The mind is a terrible thing.
This morning as I shuffled up to the coffee pot in the dim glow of the light under the microwave with sleep still crusted in my eyes to get that first cup of wake-me-up…
I stepped in something. Squishy. And cold.
My mind instantly went into overdrive as it explored the possibilities of what that squishiness between my toes could be. I took a step back and looked at the bottom of my foot. Nothing. At least it didn’t stick.
But as I peered through the left over sleep into the dark corner of the floor by the coffee pot I couldn’t make out the ick on the rug by the sink that had assaulted my right foot.
My first thought was that Fat Boy had another episode. Every once in a while something follows him out of the litter pan and gets randomly deposited around the house. It’s kind of embarrassing for him really and we don’t talk about it much. But he’s had his issues in the past so my mind immediately went there. The math made sense.
(Cold + Squishy) x Stepped_in / Before_coffee = Fat_Boy_Present
Needless to say I wasn’t going to just reach down there and pick up that nastiness in the dark. (Not that I’d grab it bare handed in the light, mind you.)
So I flipped on the room light, stifled a groan as brightness assaulted my ocular system, grabbed a paper towel, and gingerly reached down to collect the piece of grossness that had so unpleasantly disrupted my morning routine.
It was a piece of mushroom. I guess it fell on the corner of the floor unnoticed by Gorgeous when she was doctoring up our pizza for dinner last night. No big deal.
I tossed it in the trash, turned off the oppressive artificial fire that was making my eyes water and went about my normal morning routine.
But it made me think.
Why did my mind instantly jump to what it conceived as the worst possible scenario?
Is that even healthy? I know I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to go through life with a doom and gloom attitude focused on all the bad things that might happen. The Bible says
The LORD knows the thoughts of man;
he knows that they are futile.
Does it have to be that way? I mean I’d rather focus on the wonderful possibilities of the truly beneficial things that could happen. I mean before any given event aren’t positive outcomes just as possible as negative ones?
What else might change if I were to change my expectations regarding outcomes? Could something as simple as changing my expectations actually change how things ultimately work out in my life? Would life be more enjoyable?
There is a passage from the Bible that we read every week as a closing blessing right before we leave the service
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I say it week after week. But do I really believe that God is able to do so much more than I can even image that it can’t be measured?
Or, more importantly, do I really believe that He will if I ask Him to?
And that’s a pretty big question to come out of stepping in a little bit of squishy first thing in the morning!
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A Little Perspective on a Frustrated Cat
There is some frustration flowing through the Cree household this morning.
I’ve been struggling to get some software working the way I want. Sometimes computers can be downright infuriating. I just love those times when you follow the instructions laid out to install a new piece of something and yet it still doesn’t work. I know there is a reason, but I can’t figure it out! Grrrr..
But I’m not the only one struggling here today.
Low Rider is about to go nuts.
Gorgeous keeps a free flowing bird feeder just outside one of the windows to the back yard. She likes keeping track of the different kinds of birds that partake of her generosity.
The boys pay close attention too. It is not unusual for Low Rider to run from window to window trying to find a bird he was casing after it flew off. And Fat Boy will go into this weird vocalized convulsion sometimes because he so much wants to get at the birds. Sometimes he sounds like he’s demon possessed. I wish I had a recording of it for you. It truly sounds bizarre.
Gorgeous says it is good for the boys, enriching their lives so to speak. She calls the window on the bird feeder “Kitty TV.”
Well as you can see the boys were watching the telly this morning. Low Rider was more intense than Fat Boy, which is not unusual. I was struggling to get the computer to do what I wanted it to off in my study. (It still isn’t working right. I gave up for now and will attack the problem again when I have more time.)
I’m sitting here and I hear a big thump on the window. It sounded like one of the birds flew into it. Gorgeous, who was sitting right there reading, burst out laughing, which was my clue that it probably wasn’t a bird strike.
She said Low Rider got so frustrated that he thumped the window with his paw. And it was loud too. Scared all the birds out of the back yard. Well for a moment anyway.
As you can see from the second photo they didn’t stay away from the food for long!
Sometimes when I get frustrated or depressed it helps me to put things into perspective. If I look around at other people’s problems, I often realize that mine are pretty much small potatoes.
Job was a guy who had big problems. In a very short time he lost all his wealth, his family and his health. He was tempted to turn his back on God. Listen to his cry…
“Is this not the struggle of all humanity? A person’s life is long and hard, like that of a hired hand, like a worker who longs for the day to end, like a servant waiting to be paid. I, too, have been assigned months of futility, long and weary nights of misery. When I go to bed, I think, `When will it be morning?’ But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn. My skin is filled with worms and scabs. My flesh breaks open, full of pus.
“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle flying back and forth. They end without hope. O God, remember that my life is but a breath, and I will never again experience pleasure. You see me now, but not for long. Your eyes will be on me, but I will be dead. Just as a cloud dissipates and vanishes, those who die will not come back.”
Talk about a guy feeling pain and suffering! Yet when it was all said and done, after Job had complained to God and God had responded to Job’s complaining listen to what Job finally says:
Then Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You ask, `Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.
“You said, `Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’
“I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
I especially like the point Job makes about “talking about things I did not understand, things far to wonderful to me.” How many times do I do that in my complaining?
Gives me something to think about.
Now if I could only teach that principle to Low Rider!
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Cats and New Things
Thought I’d share with you this morning what happens when we bring any new furniture into our house. For some reason the boys instantly claim it as their own. And that, my friends, is one of the reasons why we buy masking tape lint rollers by the caseload in our house!
Some friends of ours were moving and decided they didn’t have room for the table and chairs and gave them to us. Gorgeous and I thought the set would be a good way to finally set up our breakfast nook.
How silly of us! We have simply provided a nice sleeping place for Their Majesties the Cats. Both boys were sleeping when I went take this photo. Low Rider is pretty challenging to sneak up on, though. He wouldn’t look away, hence the evil looking green eye flash. Fat Boy on the other hand lost interest fairly quickly.
Why is it we tend to obsess about our stuff? Especially when it’s new. You should have seen us trying to get all the cat hair out of those green cushions before we had a bunch of people over for dinner the other night. And no one even sat in the chairs!
Yet our couch that we’ve had for years, that we pretty much ignored when we were getting ready. The boys have completely taken over that couch. It’s theirs. We didn’t bother wasting the tape to clean off the hair. Yet the couch was full of people for hours while we played a board game after dinner.
Talk about a double standard! And it isn’t even remotely logical. Yet there it is, staring us in the face.
We tend to take much better care of our new stuff than we do of our things that have been with us for a while. Why do you suppose that is?
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Dinner and a Show
Gorgeous and I went to dinner with some friends last night. The weather was perfect for eating on the porch. Which, here in Savannah, is a special treat. Most of the year it is too hot to even think straight, even as the sun is going down, and you can forget about enjoying an evening outside.
Of course we were on a screen porch to fend off the gnats.
The steaks were grilled to perfection. The conversation was lively and wide ranging. All in all it was a wonderful evening.
Their two cats provided the entertainment.
Actually the entertainment was provided by the ones that were abusing the cats.
Now before you get all upset, let me give you my disclaimer: No cats were harmed in the course of research for this post.
But they were pretty much abused.
And no, it wasnâ€™t by the pair of dogs the hosting family had either.
The cats stayed in the back yard and on the patio beyond the gnat filtering screen the whole evening. They appeared to like the smells coming off the grill. And the whole time they were out there, a pair of mocking birds thought it would be good sport to harass the cats.
I never saw them hassle the dogs. Or the grill chef. Just the cats.
The show started even before the catâ€™s arrived on the scene. A bowl of dry cat food was set out about 4 feet beyond the screen. One of the birds landed on the patio, hopped up to the dish, grabbed a kibble and flew off with it.
I thought that was a pretty brave maneuver on his part. And you could tell by the way that he would stop to look around as he was hopping up to the bowl that he was probably thinking, â€œThis is stupid. Whereâ€™re the cats? Oh man, is this dumb.â€ But he did it anyway.
When the cats came on the scene I figured weâ€™d seen the last of the birds. But I was so wrong. For the rest of the time we were out there, until after it got too dark to see, the birds made continual slashing attacks on the cats.
It was pretty amusing. You could tell the cats were a bit peeved by the whole thing. They had their ears back and the tails would go flick, flick, flick. But for some strange reason they never stuck a paw up or pounced when the birds would hit them.
It got so bad that I almost began to whish they would. I started to picture a bird making a low pass over a cat and disappearing in a cloud of feathers, forever cured of feline harassment syndrome.
Iâ€™m guessing that the birds didnâ€™t start out so rashly annoying. I bet they were much more careful when they started harassing the cats. But over time, with no reaction from the cats, they just got bolder and more troublesome.
The cats would have been better off if they had been a little aggressive at the beginning to get the birds to back off. In the long run, the birds would be better off too, I think. As it stands now, the only way the birds are going to stop aggravating the cats probably will be by dying.
How much does that carry over into our lives? How often do we let bullies badger us until we explode because we didnâ€™t deal with them early on? How many people do we hurt far more by being â€œniceâ€ than if we dealt with the conflict in a healthy way early on?
The Bible has a bunch to say on the subject. Hereâ€™s one from Proverbs:
Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.
Edmund Burke said it this way:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
How often do I look the other way when bullies are hurting others?
I need to think about that for a bit.
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Stuff On My Cat
Didnâ€™t know it but I needed a good laugh.
I went poking around the Technorati top 100 blogs and I stumbled on a real prize.
Now before you get to the good stuff, we need to make sure youâ€™ve all met Fat Boy & Low Rider. And they seem to be aiming better these days, by the way. Gorgeous (a.k.a. the Cat Whisperer) was right about that one. Thanks for the prayers.
Early on I also made a Case for Cats as more manly pets than dogs. Now I realize the whole thing is debatable, and I might even be a touch insecure about the stereotypical image often associated with male cat owners. But Iâ€™m secure enough to write about it here, which says something, doesnâ€™t it?
Anyway I like our cats mostly because they chronically make me laugh. Which brings me back to tonightâ€™s treat.
Stuff On My Cat is a hoot. Mario Garza created this blog in a flash of true brilliance. Cat lovers and cat haters should both love the humiliations these cats endure.
And if these catâ€™s donâ€™t put a smile on your face, youâ€™ve been dipped in pickle juice!
Now back to work! (At least for meâ€¦)
Friday Free-For-All Change is in the Air
You may have noticed some changes around here. Weâ€™ll work on going through whatâ€™s been updated here after a while.
Gorgeous is out in St. Luis with her companies national training conference for the latter part of this week and into the weekend, which has given me an opportunity to stay up waaay too late and do some research on various things.
I am looking at taking the blogging thing to the next level. It would mean moving away from a (free) Blogger platform to something which would have to be paid for. Since Gorgeous keeps us honest with the budget, I will have to come up with a way to pay for my hobby. Wise woman, that Gorgeous.
That is why Iâ€™ve put some ads on the site. Iâ€™ll experiment some and see how it goes. I checked my account and Iâ€™ve made exactly one penny since last night. 😮 At that rate, Iâ€™ll be able to afford to upgrade in about, oh, 10-15 years!
Thatâ€™s OK. Iâ€™m learning a bunch about this whole blogging thing and it seems to be a good fit for me. Tomorrow after I get a good nightâ€™s sleep, Weâ€™ll get back to our regular postings.
The boys are getting a bit obnoxious because Iâ€™ve let myself get sucked into the computer screen here basically since Gorgeous got on that plane. I get the feeling that they may be anxious for her to get home. What do you think?
Takeaways from a Long Day’s Work
Well I did the math after I woke up this afternoon. In a little over 50 hours I managed to get exactly 2 hours of sleep plus two cat-naps in the car of about a half our each. On paper going in it didnâ€™t look like it would be that bad. But then, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, as they sayâ€¦
Of course by the time I got home this morning, Gorgeous was getting ready to head off to Atlanta for some meetings and an overnight. I tried to stay up and chat with her but apparently I was babbling a little incoherently because she eventually stopped me with, â€œChris. You really need to get some sleep now.â€ Ah, the wisdom of the fairer sex.
I did learn some good lessons from the whole experience, though
- It is amazing what the human body can put up with
Iâ€™m a sucker for survival stories. Get caught in a blizzard on Mt. Everest? Lost in the Sahara desert? Find yourself behind enemy lines? Or maybe you got trapped out in the wilderness by yourself and had to cut off your own arm to survive? I could sit and listen for hours. It is fascinating what people do to survive. What is the difference that causes to someone who makes it through when others donâ€™t?
My little work induces exercise on staying away is incredibly tiny compared to those stories. But going through things like that, even on a smaller scale, helps give you a measure of what you can do. It helps build your belief so that when you face the next challenge in your life, you have some perspective and are more able to conquer it.
- One difficult person can really complicate things
Where to begin on this one? Well, on merchant ships, the Chief Officer is normally responsible for the cargo. Since most of my work involves issues with cargo, heâ€™s the guy I usually have to deal with. And we see all kinds. They come from all over the world. The overwhelming majority are highly competent professionals who have a heavy responsibility and are used to getting things done.
But not last night. Last night I had to work with what a pastor friend of mine calls an â€œEGRâ€ for â€œExtra Grace Required.â€ One of the fist things I noticed when I met him was that he absolutely stank of alcohol. Now I was willing to cut him some slack on that account because alcohol and seafaring has a long tradition behind it and the ship had been at anchor for a couple days before it came in. It is not uncommon for mariners to hit the bottle from time to time.
But it sure added to my frustration as he continued to make a sting of decisions that made all of our jobs harder. He was belligerent too, pretty much yelling and screaming at most of the crew, including the captain. At one point he even started in on me as if I was responsible for things taking so long. The bottom line is this guy basically single handedly turned a 24 hour job into a 36 hour job.
Then finally at the end of the operation he created a situation where I couldnâ€™t realistically even do what we were hired to do.
I was not happy.
But it made me think. How many times do I complicate things for the people around me? Hopefully Iâ€™m never as bad as that guy was! But it is amazing how just one person whoâ€™s not pulling in the same direction of the rest of the team can wreak absolute havoc and keep the objectives from being met.
- Pets are good value
I get the feeling that the boys knew I was zonked because Low Rider curled up beside me on the bed while I slept today and didnâ€™t bug me at all. Thatâ€™s unusual for him. Big cuteness points. Then, after I got up, Fat Boy came in for some lap time. Since itâ€™s spring time, heâ€™ shedding like crazy so I started brushing him. He started purring really loud and I could tell he was loving it. But I actually laughed out loud when he started drooling all over my shorts.
Somehow a good bout of uncontrollable drool seems to always signify contentment.
I think Iâ€™m going to take a nap, maybe even drool on my pillowâ€¦
Cats in the Dog House
The harmony in the Cree household is slightly upset at the moment. Gorgeous is not happy. One of the boys is in big trouble. I think the only thing keeping one of them from some serious unpleasantness is that we have no idea who is responsible.
Low Rider is in trouble enough already. Because of him, the boys are banished to a back bedroom nearly every night. He had sort of a fit when we set the clocks back to standard time last fall. Now every morning at 0330 he decides that its time to get up. And he’s smart about it. He makes quick passes across the bed to make sure everyone’s awake. But he takes special care to run across our legs. You see he has precisely calculated the time-to-reach-radius of the average undercover groggy adult on our end of the block and he never crosses that boundary. Ever.
Then its time for a fun game of chase the black cat in the dark when you are half asleep without your contacts in. That game is sooo much fun that we usually resort to bribing him (and Fat Boy too while we’re at it) with food to get him locked in the back bedroom, which of course only serves to reinforce Low Rider’s annoying behavior. The trouble is Low Rider is smart.
Fat Boy on the other hand is, well, not so bright. Whenever he got up before the alarm, I always found him within arm’s reach and could scruff him and drag him off to a penalty box somewhere. He never quite figured out that he’s much faster than I am and that if he stayed out of reach I’d probably never catch him. I got him trained to never bother us until the alarm went off. And it was a good system.
Low Rider played by that system as well up until we changed the clocks last fall, which brings us back to our current troubles.
Someone has taken to peeing right outside the litter box. Fortunately Gorgeous keeps a little rubber backed throw rug right there to catch the bulk of the litter the boys drag out of the pan, so it hasn’t soaked into the carpeting yet. And it’s only happened three times so far. Even so, “Houston, we have a problem,” if you know what I mean.
I think I’ve pretty much convinced Gorgeous that it isn’t me at this point. I mean I’m a guy. I can see how the boys might miss from time to time. Aiming can be a challenge at times even with thumbs. But I’m keeping my peace on this one because three times in a row is beginning to look less like an accident. Besides, I’m not ready to take that kind of heat.
Anyway, if Gorgeous ever figures out which is the responsible party, things could get pretty ugly for him. She’s got no patience for bad aim.
Here’s a shot of the boys. It might help you pray for them.