It's always great when a treasure is discovered
in one's proverbial "back yard" and so it was when I visited the Feline Historical Museum in Alliance, Ohio.
What a gem! (They donated this Japanese beckoning cat bank for the upcoming Stray Cat Strut fundraiser.)The Cat Fanciers' Association Foundation (CFA) museum is an absolute gold mine of
original art that has been bequeathed by international collectors. As if the expansive collection were
not enough, there is also a non-lending library with rare
reference materials and a rotating exhibit (currently featuring the Manx breed),
all displayed in the simple elegance of a former bank building. The sophistication of the CFA museum belies it surroundings.
The old downtown section of the city is practically
a ghost town although some beautiful architecture (much of it ‘remuddled') now houses about a dozen second-hand shops.
Parking is no problem!
CAF is North America's first cat museum and it's definitely worth visiting
even for those who aren't cat fanciers. The refined décor and the incredible collection of art work, the warm
knowledgeable director and the overall sophistication offers a surprising retreat from the ordinary. Check out their
website for a peak into this jewel. Oh BTW, admission is free although donations are always welcome.
Frankly I find phrases like "owning" a behavior or "giving
permission" tiresome, but guess what? I have "given myself permission" to take some writing time off
and having done so I feel wonderfully liberated.
Don't get me wrong, I love my work! How many people are lucky enough to say
that? There is nothing in the world I'd rather do than write for a living, but events of the past few months have taken
a lot out of me including my enthusiasm for research and interviews and hours at this computer and all the rest of what's
involved in freelancing, so as annoying as the phrase is, I have given myself permission to take off for several weeks.
But what to do with all this new-found spare time?
Maybe I'll languish in the gardens. Maybe I'll pour over more of the books
on the ‘to read' shelf. Maybe the dogs and I will extend our walking route. Maybe I'll sketch or paint.
Maybe I'll visit some museums. ‘So many options.... I've never done this before and I suspect that I'll soon miss the daily grind, but for right now I'm on sabbatical.
Things seemed to be improving after the winter of my discontent (deaths of friends, health issues, loss of favorite
dog Ted, law suit, etc.), but it has transitioned into my spring of great expense, pain and stress.
on Tess' ears puzzled the vet as she had not experienced any trauma, nor ear infections, nor head shaking, nor any of the
other things that typically cause ear hematomas. Nevertheless surgery was required. Both ears were drained of
the accumulated blood and then stitched to prevent future hemorrhaging leaving her little ears looking as if a mad quilter
had gone at them. At not even four months, my little $18.00 pound puppy is already worth a fortune.
Tess is also indirectly responsible for the fencing project which turned into an avalanche of ever-escalating
costs, labor and pain. Her adventurous spirit and initially- small size made slipping between the fence rails and getting
onto the road too dangerous to risk and since the fence was long overdue for maintenance the puppy was the impetus for addressing
repairs. One thing led to another.
The original plan to put welded wire along the lower two feet of the existing
fence revealed several rotted posts needing replacement. Warped or damaged boards also needed to be replaced.
T. fixed it all. Four hundred feet of fence may not seem like much until you start working on it. Then friend
Rose helped me secure all but about seventy feet of it with the originally-intended welded wire. While far from being
rocket science, it was back breaking labor complicated by brambles, bugs and other unseen troubles and the job literally took
weeks to almost complete.
"Oh that remaining part will be easy," I heard myself say to Rose.
"I'll just do it myself in the morning." It didn't seem urgent when I uttered those words because until then
the pup had not ventured near that particular section, but things can change in the blink of an eye.
Demolition of the old yellow tile milk house foundation started by Farmer Chuck and his backhoe several weeks ago uncovered
a bigger mess than ever could have been anticipated. Tile shards punctured the tire on Chuck's backhoe, so progress
had come to a hissing halt. Calls to a half dozen heavy equipment operators to come and finish the job were either ignored,
not returned, or the ‘professionals' simply didn't show up, but this week Little Kenny arrived with his Cat track
hoe. This Kenny is not to be confused with Old Kenny. Little Kenny, who is 6'4" tall and weighs in excess
of 225 pounds finessed the Cat with the delicate precision of a brain surgeon. He smashed the ugly tiles, heaped the
rubble into a ridge and then covered it with topsoil. I was so excited and eager to plant the ten pine trees and other
things that would transform that area from eye sore to wildlife food plot that I decided to work on the fence project later
in the day. Like I said, things can change in the blink of an eye.
I had just pushed the green garden
cart loaded with tools, pine saplings, seeds and other gardening supplies into the barnyard when Tess ‘discovered' the
section of board fence that was still without welded wire. In a flash she was through the board rails and trotting up
the middle of the road. My frantic command "COME!" was ignored as I gave chase. To the dog, this was
a great game and she ran even faster eventually vanishing in the ditch on the opposite side of the road.
the township had recently dredged the ditch, it was quite deep. I leapt into the trench, grabbed the protesting pup
and then realized that getting out of the deep trough wasn't going to be easy. My back already hurt, the 21 pound pup
was wriggling and my legs aren't as strong as they used to be. It wasn't a pretty sight, but I and the dog did exit
without being observed by any passerby.
With Tess secured on a cable it was clear that the much-anticipated planting
project would have to wait. Installing the welded wire was critical. It was also not easy without Rose's help!
The beautiful Stella Dora lilies that used to grace that section were trampled and ruined in the process. And who planted
poison ivy in with the raspberry bushes anyway? Tree limbs poked and scratched my arms and face. Fence staples
jumped away from the hammer blows and vanished in the grass where I will undoubtedly find them with the tractor tires when
I mow. Things were not going well at all when from the barnyard I heard a worrisome thumping sound. I pushed away
the tree limbs and saw that the bad asses had discovered the garden cart. In my panic to catch the runaway dog I had
forgotten all about it!
Extricating myself from the brambles, ivy and tree limbs I ran into the barnyard just in
time to see white pine needles vanish into Corky's mouth. Andy had found a sack of onion sets and was flinging them
through the air since he intended to eat the paper bag. I salvaged seven trees and collected onion sets that were scattered
like hail stones in the tall grass. The good news (if there is any...) is that Corky didn't care for the root system;
hence he spat out several ‘stumps' with roots intact. Will they grow? Who knows?
to weep, but such luxury wasn't an option. I finished the fence and planted the mutilated pine saplings. My back
screamed in pain as I limped back to the house just as guests arrived. It was nice to finally sit on the porch and relax.
When my friends left I just wanted to stay there and watch the sun set, but that was not to be.
Where Tess and Julie
found the black sludge they wallowed in is anybody's guess, but when the two stinking dogs appeared I knew that my labors
were not over. Since Tess had jumped onto my lap I too was covered in the vile goo. I grabbed their collars and
all three of us piled into the shower. My aching back protested violently as scrubbed the suddenly sedate dogs.
What else could happen I asked myself opening the shower door to let them out? I'd towel them off after I had showered.
This was Tess' first shower and I guess that in puppy logic the best place to dry off was in the litter box.
I could hardly believe my eyes when I opened the shower door! Julie said, "I told her not to go in there...",
but Tess had gone into the bathroom closet where the cat box is kept and rolled in it. Wet clay covered the
white tile floor as well as the dog. At this point I did cry.
This morning the bathroom and two dogs are clean,
the fence is secure and the pine trees (such as they are) are planted and I am taking the day off!
Gladys has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. The equestrian hen questions why her coop mates
don't enjoy riding around on a donkey's butt as much as she does. She sometimes complains that she's tired of being
sent by her lazy buddies to peck on the kitchen door to remind me that they would like something special for a snack.
And it's always Gladys the party-planner who initiates garden get-togethers on the patio bench to discuss world events, fashions,
etc., but yesterday my very special hen really outdid herself. This chicken version of Martha Stewart revealed yet another
Poppy the cat was patrolling the shoreline scaring frogs just for the heck of it. It's
cat fun to see them leap into the water and make a big splash. The flock was clucking away as usual, pecking at the moist
banks of leaky pond looking for bugs or anything else that might look tasty. Suddenly, without warning or provocation
Gladys leapt into the air and landed right in the middle of the murky mini-lake. My first thought at seeing the white
bird in the pond was that I'd somehow acquired a wandering Pekin duck, but no! It was Gladys. With casual ease
the unlikely waterfowl calmly swam to shore (yes, SWAM!), shook her feathers and joined her prowling pals along the waters
edge. "So what's the big deal?" she asked as I and the dogs stared in disbelief. I won't be surprised if she
takes up skateboarding next.
All this and the over-achiever still finds time to deposit a big brown egg every
day! I nominate Gladys for outstanding chicken of the year!
Vent gleet. It sounds like it could be a feature on a high end car or maybe an air
conditioning option, but no. Vent gleet is a disgusting poultry affliction. When I first noticed the messy butt
on one of the hens I consulted M., the poultry PhD. who diagnosed the problem and recommended a cure. Further internet
research said that the pasty posterior was a yeast infection caused by "unsanitary conditions, moldy food and over-crowding."
My birds are not subjected to any of the above!
Nevertheless each night the patient is subjected to a sitz bath in Epson salts and scrub with a relatively-soft
brush. I gag during this procedure. The bird acts perfectly fine. She exhibits no other sign of ill health
other than the crappy cloaca. Additional research advises daily doses of yogurt, vinegar-laced drinking water and a customized mash containing acidophilus. No name hen is now confined
and began this dietary regimen today.
The birds in my small flock have been hatched on site except for six birds purchased
from a well-known hatchery. Of these six one has died (I suspect a stoke or heart attack as she had not shown any symptoms)
and now this one with the exotically-named malady. I will not purchase any additional birds from a commercial hatchery.
Bad ass Andy
is slowly recovering from his abscess. Things at the barnyard are quiet these past several days, much to Corky's dismay.
His partner in crime is grumpy and spends a lot of time resting. Thankfully for Corky there is a diversion; the board
fence repair and paint job which is being done by ‘outsiders' is providing a distraction to the bad one.
Tess has developed
a hematoma on her right ear which the vet says will have to be surgically addressed. She goes in Monday morning.
The swollen ear is most likely from rough-housing with her chums as she has not suffered any injuries. The puffy ear
doesn't seem to bother her at all, but without intervention her ‘modeling' career could be in jeopardy.
coat was one solid mat covering most of his torso in spite of regular grooming. During the winter his rear quarters
were so badly afflicted that he went to Dr. Costsalot to have a mini-cut which cost $60.00! I myself have never paid
$60.00 for any beauty treatment. Each morning I was carefully snipping away the felted fur, combing him with the Furminator
and trying to rid him of the tangles that surely must have been uncomfortable. In spite of daily grooming the matting
got worse. Yesterday I boldly attacked the problem with the electic dog clippers and to my surprise mister RC seemed
to enjoy the procedure! The carpet of mats that covered his torso are now history and all that remains to be done is
a very matted rear leg. He has not been cooperative regarding this and with laser precision he has inflicted a couple
of nasty scratches on my hand. His mood determines how much can be accomplished in a single sitting, so while he still
looks quite ratty I think/hope he will be uniquely coiffed by the weekend, just in case he has any party plans.
There are unending
springtime tasks that I'm slowly addressing between doctoring Andy's sore foot, scrubbing the messy chicken butt and preparing
a poultry menu that is more time-consuming than any meal I personally eat and clipping a temperamental feline. I tell
myself that these things are just temporary glitches and soon I'll have the luxury of fussing in the gardens I've been planning
all winter, but will this ever really happen?