FOR AUNT LOIS [and Don]

There’s a large old farmhouse.  The paint is worn away in places on the wood siding, other places it peels.  The windows, both upstairs and down, haven’t been washed in a real long time. The open porch has a washtub on the wall and some of the porch floor cracks are much bigger than cracks after all.  It’s surrounded by a grass yard of rolls and dips, with scattered  beds of  flowers on their last leg of blooms to seeds. There’s a weathered gray chicken house over there. In that corner is an open shed that ends the gravel drive where the car gets parked inside. The truck can park outside.  There’s a garden shed and a root cellar with a scattering of canning jars and an old kettle on the broken and crusty shelves. The steps down to the cellar grow up in random grass clumps.  There’s a fuel tank on its frame legs.  A  pump handle stands over an old concrete well platform. You can remember the taste of the cold cold water. Some scrap metal sits in a pile mixed with a cluster of old bricks.

All this life is surrounded on three sides by fields of tall corn, tassels dark and ears full, as the color drains and the testing commences. You peel back the shuck; are the ears full? Are there two to a stalk? Does it feel too wet? Is there rain in the forecast? Did we have a good breeze today?

Good looking ears make it to the house.  Three steps up to the porch, open the screen door and never notice the familiar hinges creeking. The chore boots aren’t noticed like the sweater and jacket on pegs aren’t noticed, but the aroma of supper amid a lazy movement of air from the fan in the open window draws you into the kitchen, corn in hand, to pause together and consider what’s to come at harvest.

Hands are scrubbed, food is dished, the blessing said and the meal commenced. The day is winding down, nowhere near done, till the clearing and washing  and drying  are finished, but getting there.

This only sounds familiar, achingly familiar, to a farm generation who have become orphaned with the loss of their final parent, either the matriarch or patriarch who has been keeping things as usual, as possible.

We long to know it all again and know that the longing is for something that would never be the same.  We have to know  it and learn it and grow with it so that it becomes a part of our soul,  a part of our being.  We might long to know it all again, but we do…..know it as well as we ever can….now….today…..for always. We can’t teach it or pass it on or tell of it enough to reach another soul.  It’s lonely because we each hold this picture differently.  It’s  a comfort like nothing else that will ever comfort us.  It  is reaching  into our hearts and holding  a living  whisper of eternity.

FUNNY STORIES, Dear to My Heart

An anecdote is a funny little story; an antidote counteracts poison, you can decide about these!  [In no particular order].

 

John’s Mom, his son and two of his sisters came south for a visit, particularly so his Mom could visit where we had moved. Living in a bus for two, we rented a nice woodsy cabin that would accommodate all, for the duration of their visit. John was a tour guide in a previous lifetime. He can spiel with the best of them and he wanted to show off the woods and waterfalls that abound, so he was running the ‘tour’ while I organized the food brigade.  John’s Mom was using a walker by that time and our forest paths were out of the question, but one really great waterfall was visible from the blacktop road with lots of easy parking. It was in Tellico Plains, TN. It might have been an hour ride by major roads, but taking the ‘scenic’ drive was every bit of two hours.  No one was antsy, but we had seen most of the Appalachian trees of the south by the time we were within a couple miles of Tellico Plains.  Seeing what looked like smoke ahead, we rounded a rural corner to find a vehicle in flames in the road.  Stopping was our only option.  We could see that no one was hurt, one other car was pulled off and assisting and so we waited. And waited. And waited.  Finally emergency personnel began to arrive, donning gear from their trunks and mostly watching the vehicle become engulfed.  After what seemed an extreme amount of time, a fire truck came to save the day.  We commented that the firetruck seemed to take far longer than expected to arrive, when John’s sister quipped, “well, look how long it took us!”

 

When I heard that Donald was in the nursing home for rehab, I talked with him on the phone to see ‘what happened’.  At first he said he was having trouble with words. He couldn’t remember words and was a bit confused. In reality, he had mixed up his medications and fallen and now they were getting him back on track.   [A note for any oldster or care giver, too many meds, are ridiculously confusing. Find a pharmacy that will do “pill packs”.  For an extra $10. or so, they will package prescriptions into packs for AM<NOON>PM.  No more endless and hard-to-open bottles that lead to confusion. We loved Axline Pharmacy in Bloomington for this service.] Back to my story, I told Donald I would leave for Illinois the next day.  Wanting to take some sort of gift to him, I went to the local DG and bought a package of recipe cards and a pretty gold gift box to hold them. At home, I cut the cards in half and using black marker, wrote a word on the back of each card.  Any word that came to mind – random, uncomfortable, interview, Sinorak, dishtowel, artificial, masterful etc. etc. etc.  When I got to the nursing home the next day, I gave Donald his gift box. He wanted to know what it was. I said I brought you a box of words. When you have trouble with a word or forget, you can just reach in and pick a word.  He had a great sense of humor and showed off his ‘words’ to the staff.  When he was released a few days later, he left the box for the therapy department.

 

Another time I got a call in Georgia that Donald was back in the hospital. They had installed a pacemaker.  [This set the example to follow, a couple years later, when my John also had one installed – if Donald can do this, so can you].  Not wanting to visit the hospital with no gift and knowing full well there isn’t a damn thing Donald ‘needs’,  I went again to DG and found a lantern battery, the big square 6 inch long battery and a card.  When I gave it to Donald at the hospital, I told him if his pacemaker battery failed, he would need to have a replacement at home and handy!  [For John, I just reminded him that I could provide if he needed.]

 

Many, Many years ago, when games were becoming popular to play on the computer, I got a Disney game for Baby Hannah to play on our computer. She was maybe 2, so just a few minutes of play was always enough.  John’s oldest son, had a youngster and he was a kid at heart, himself, so he had told John about some game or other that he had for his computer.  John decided he needed a game, too. He found a “big-game-hunting” DVD at Walmart. I don’t remember all you could hunt on this game, but he was pretty excited and got right to it at home. The setup was much more lengthy than he expected. He had to choose everything you would need to go on a full scale hunt; Weapons, camping gear, ammo [kind and how many], travel gear, clothing and of course, your intended game species; bear, elk, Dahl sheep, buffalo etc.  As a tour guide, John feels confident, as a mechanic, he excels, on the computer – not good, not good, NOT good.  After spending far too long on the setup, he then has to master which keys trigger [pardon the pun] what responses during the game play.  Finally, the hunt commences and he hits a few keys, there are some noises and a gun fires and the game responds “you are not supposed to shoot your horse!”  Through peals of laughter on my part, John boxed up the game and it was returned to Walmart.

 

Years ago, when Travis was a baby younger than one, and showers instead of baths hadn’t come into vogue, his Dad filled the tub for a bath one evening and suggested I bring Travis in for a bath with him.  I was in the kitchen on supper detail when I heard loudly “son-of-a-b…..”, then Travis crying.  Running in  I met with this picture – Travis’ Dad was standing in the tub looking mad, with a crying Travis held out in front of him, water dripping off both of them.  Travis had pooped in the tub. There it floated as they stood.  Taking it all in, I could hardly breath for the gails of laughter I couldn’t suppress. No more sharing baths ever again…..but so worth my idea of GREAT humor!

 

When my daughter was about 6 or 7, at supper one evening we were talking about my Dad.  He had died when she was just 14 months old and she wanted to know if he “knew her”.  We assured her that he DID know her and Travis.  Then she wanted to know how old he was when he died.  I said he was 47 and her Dad said “No, remember he was 46 when he died, because we buried him on his 47th birthday.”  Misty’s reply to that, “You mean you kept him that long”.  Gales of laughter from everyone, but her!

 

I  had a hair appointment one summer day and took Misty with me to the salon in Armington.  All the time that Bonnie was trimming my hair, Misty was critiquing that she didn’t like my hair, as only a probably 9 or 10 yr old can do.  On the way home, though, she seemed to change her mind.  “I do like your hair”, she said, “It makes you look like that girl on TV”.  [One of my favorite beauty shop lines when asked how I want my hair cut is just to say, “Make me look like a movie star, I’ll be happy”.]  So now, I‘ve gone from not so good to looking like a movie star. Woo Hoo!  “Which star, Misty”?  She says, “That girl on Facts of Life, Blair’s cousin”.  At that time, a young girl with cerebral palsy is playing Blair’s cousin with cerebral palsy.  So, I have gone from not looking good to looking like a girl with cerebral palsy and I am hysterical with laughter – the tears-running-down-my-face laughter.  Then Misty is crying because I am laughing so hard [at her, she thinks – true]  Needless to say, arriving home, both of us in tears, was priceless!

 

When my two farm youngsters were about 10/11 and 13/14, public TV previewed an upcoming show on human childbirth.  I thought it would be something they needed to watch – educational, a tad bit different than rabbits, pigs, cows  – you know, good for them!  They resisted and I insisted.  I was thinking …. Well, I wasn’t thinking, really!  I didn’t expect the program to begin with discussion of birth control options.  Things were terribly quiet as we watched together. Things covered in this first segment included among other things, mention of a diaphragm.   After several minutes had passed, Misty casually asked if “a diet plan will really keep you from getting pregnant”.     Parental FAIL AND FUNNY!!!!

 

Travis was maybe in 7th grade and he had a crush on a leggy, long haired blond a year ahead. She belonged to a neighborhood, long-time farm family. They may have thought of our family as farmer wannabies [we were] or maybe I just felt a little inferior to their community standing. Travis informed me he wanted to get his “friend” a birthday card and that evening was awards night at the school, so he could give it to her then.  I gave it no thought and waited in our car while he went in the store to get his card. Later that evening, at the awards event, Trav presented her with his card. She opened it and shared with her folks. Just not sure what they thought of my son and his sense of humor.  The card read: When I realized I’d forgotten your birthday, [and inside ] a guy balancing a stack of desk drawers, it continued: I almost dropped my drawers. Travis.  They were certainly a bit surprised and I knew where his humor gene came from!

 

 

GILBERTA, My Mom

If you read about Donald, my stepdad, then you know a bit about my Mom. Her birthday was August 26, every year!

She was the baby of three in her family, a family with some daring stories.

Mom threw a knife at her sister, when they were in a climbing tree. It just grazed the side of her sister’s eye.  Her brother tied their Mom to her chair with her apron strings, while home from school for lunch. When the three of them returned home after school, that day, she was still tied.  Someone stretched a bicycle inner tube between the sidewalk gate posts at night and a sister returning from a date, was tripped and face planted on the sidewalk with a mild concussion.  While doing dishes after supper one evening, a fight ensued and a cast iron pan of gravy was heaved across the kitchen. Their dad planted saltine crackers on the stairway when they were late for curfew.

Nothing like any of these episodes would have ever occurred at my house, growing up.

Gilberta’s parents, after living years in Atlanta, Illinois, decided to run a boarding house in Chicago.  And they decided to do this while she was still in high school and they let or left her to rent a room in a local house, to finish her schooling. According to one of her best school and lifelong friends, she ended up renting a room in two different houses before graduating high school.

She dated my Dad, who lived on a tenant farm south of town, near Lazy Row Rd. They married on June 11, 1948. He wore a black suit. She wore a grey suit. It was at the Methodist parsonage with a reception at a farm house on the edge of town.

For a girl who went from school to wife, as was expected, she had an independent side and a nurturing side. The nurturing side was most evident when someone was sick or dying. It wasn’t very evident during the regular days. What I am saying is she was a great nurse without being taught “how to nurse”. Her grandmother suffered a stroke and was confined to a bed or wheelchair, the old cane woven wheel chairs, for several years. She had no speech left, but worked hard to be understood and Gilberta was her caregiver – the one and only.  Later her own Mother suffered a stroke and although living at her sister’s house at that time, I think my Mom helped as much as she could. I like to think so anyway.

Mom was great when we kids were sick with the measles, mumps, chicken pox, tonsillitis, etc. My sister had rheumatic fever one year at Christmas. They thought she might die. I thought it was shitty timing, since our Christmas was put on hold.

Gilberta nursed her husband, our Dad, through his cancer and death, when he was a young family man of 45/46. I had no idea how she did it, until she came to my house to live, when she had cancer. I am NO nurse. Everyone will tell you so. I did what I thought was right, but the burden was carried best by my daughter, a licensed LPN, and my daughter-in-law, the most caring nurse I have ever known and a hospice nurse by trade.  The biggest mistake I made was in my thinking. I forgot that she came to my house to “live”, not to die. I could have done better. It has been a hard lesson.

When Mom was diagnosed with cancer, Donald wanted no part in making the hard decisions and was glad to have me handle what was necessary. My siblings all lived in other states and they were also glad to let me handle the issues. They helped when they could. They stayed in close touch with Mom. Finally the time came for her to leave her house.  Gilberta Young was extremely stubborn, and never prone to change her mind.  She had made up her mind that cigarettes did NOT cause my Dad’s cancer, or hers, for sure.  Regardless of the fact he gave them up when he was diagnosed, she continued to smoke “as was her right”. If you said that cigarettes were no longer allowed someplace, then she didn’t go to that place.

I had been a smoker for years and I know now, that she considered that a “bond” of sorts.  When no one else smoked, we did.  However, when I began to approach my early 40’s and realized how terribly young my Dad was when he died, I thought if I didn’t quit smoking, I could likely die young too. I loved smoking and I QUIT.  It didn’t make my Mom too happy.

We were never close and this drove us a little farther apart.  She favored my brother – “boys are easier to raise”, she said often and in front of her girls. She favored my next-in-line sister, named for my Dad, and everyone always babies the last. I had been raised to “raise” the next three. When the youngest went to school, my Mom went to work full time. She was HUGE on lists and there was one almost every day from that point forward – things to be done before she got home from work and who was responsible for doing those things and I was responsible for seeing that her list was carried out, every school day and every summer day. No extra-curricular activities for me, no paying summer jobs for me, my job year round was the “daily list”.  Nine months of the year my list started with getting three kids up and off to school and continued after school with the chores on the list. During summer, we had lists that included laundry, house cleaning, preparing suppers and having coffee ready when they got home from work and overseeing three restless and uncooperative kids. None of this “killed me” and I’m a firm believer in kids having chores [duh!], but the stage was forever set.  We were just never close as Mother/Daughter.

When Mom came to live at our house, I just naturally fixed up the spare bedroom.  No more play area for our grandkids. We made it as personable as we could, with all the hospital equipment that comes with cancer. She was only feet from our living room and had a walker and wheel chair, but she was also expecting an on-call nurse.  And I wondered who she thought that might be.  She also thought that even though we didn’t allow any smoking on our property or in our house, that she would naturally be the exception.  While emptying her house of personal items, she one day made the comment to me that “she would not smoke at my house”.  I was shocked and thrilled to have her say it out loud and I had some silly idea the subject was miraculously resolved.  Was I ever wrong?

First she told me in no uncertain terms, she would never have said that and now my house was hers and she would smoke all she pleased.  Donald brought her cigarettes as usual, and while I was at work and someone else was with her, she smoked. When I found out and the SHTF, my husband told Donald on the side “no smokes, period”.  Donald immediately quit bringing her smokes.

My Mother was deteriorating before our eyes day by day, physically, but not mentally. One day we got into some argument and she announced she was leaving.  She called Donald and he wouldn’t come and get her…..mostly because he didn’t know where to go with her….certainly not to his house.  Her car was parked at our place and she determined to take it, except I refused to give her the keys. It was not a pleasant argument, even as I tried to stay rational and calm. I called each of my siblings as she watched and fumed, to explain our situation and then handed her the phone to talk with them.  That really pissed her off. Nothing pacified her and so she ended up going to the hospital for a week, by ambulance.

She wasn’t hospital sick and didn’t want a nursing home and after talking to Donald, therapists and others, she agreed to come back, but didn’t want to be left “in the back room” anymore.  What could we do about that?

Oddly, our large garage was carpeted, with a nice piece used for an expo and discarded. I parked on it every day and the grandkids played in our garage on rainy or winter days.  We abandoned the parking, disconnected the opener, and installed all the bedroom furniture and hospital items. We blocked off the back door and installed a large gazillion BTU air conditioner. Our garage had an entry to our spare bathroom and laundry and an outside door.

It became the cancer ward apartment, although we never called it that. It did work great. We could all come and go. She could see us. She came home with staph infection from the hospital and was kind enough to give it to me as well.  I was so sick; I wanted to die before her.  Being in the garage, we could keep the grandkids away from the contagion with a baby gate.

Life moved on with visitors, small parties and kids coming home as often as possible.  Her cancer progressed, she grew frail and we managed one last big weekend with everyone home and surrounding her. There was a little wine, lots of hidden tears and laughter – our family staple. It was necessary and a real accomplishment to pull off.  She seemed to wait until news reached her that each child had gotten home safely before she passed away a couple evenings later.

We are small town people and have always been small town people. We grew up knowing our local everyone including our undertaker.  After my Mom died and Donald had come and hospice had done what hospice does, it was time to call our friend, the undertaker. It was a drizzly summer night. I didn’t want her face covered when he took her. I said to him, “When you come to get Mom, just back into the garage. That is where she has been and we can just open the big door and you can back right in.”

Humor has always been our relief valve in my family. Not that Mom would have seen the humor, but we always laugh when we talk about having the hearse back into the garage for Mom. We were just being helpful.

 

 

2003 – GOLF IS OUR NEW BEST FRIEND

We have both been bitten by the golf bug this year. Well, not so much bitten, as clubbed.

You have to be hit upside the head with something to leave a cozy bed at 5 o’clock in the morning to play nine holes and be at work by 8 AM.  This is a grand way to learn the necessary skills to play in all conditions,[mental or physical]. Playing golf at 5:30 AM teaches you to play in conditions best described at wet, wetter, and wettest.  The top 10 best things about golf at that hour?

1] You are generally the only one out there.

2] You don’t wait on anyone and they don’t wait on you

3] You can loose a ball [or 2, or 3] and no one ever knows its yours      [ps, don’t mark your golf balls!!!!!!!!!!!!]

4] You don’t have to do your hair or makeup

5] Anyone else on the course is probably getting paid to be there.

6]  Scoring doesn’t ever have to be an option

7]  You are getting exercise

8]  The weather is the coolest it may be all day

9]  You look diligent about conquering the sport of golf

10] You look diligent about conquering the sport of golf!

Not that we didn’t play all the other daytime hours that we could work in.  We were able to predictably hit the courses during half the tournaments held in central Illinois. If we showed up to play, they instigated a tournament if they weren’t in the midst of one right then.  We drove to Tennessee and played. Out of our state and out of our minds. The results were the same. We played with the largest Midwest mosquitoes in recorded history. We played with ladybugs the color of pumpkins and the size of them as well, with teeth like baby puppies. Did we get better at golf? Well, Duh!!  We got BETTER at finding golf balls, OURS and a zillion others. We got so good at finding, that, at times we forgot to play the game at all. The real action was off the fairway and in the brush; off the fairway and in the water.

We recorded, in GOLD PEN, the four pars that John made and the three for me.  The pen is on permanent display in our home along with a tee from “THE DEN” in Bloomington. No, we haven’t played there, but we did FIND the tee. We also learned some valuable lessens for the future as we played this year. 1] We always let the next group play thru. Once or twice we lucked out and got to critique THEIR play. They were in wheelchairs, but what the heck.  2] A found ball, in a better lie than our own [weren’t they all], is not only fair play, but we also drop two strokes as a bonus for the find. 3] Three balls per player, on the green, always allows us an option to hit the cup and we never hesitate to play the others ball if it looks better. 4] A successful putt of more that 30 feet requires an immediate photo.

We sure don’t plan to give up such a great sport. We also sure don’t expect to be playing with anyone else for quite some time. We shagged enough balls to play several more summers and the tournaments are mounting in the local area. They know we are out there.   REMEMBER TO PUT THE HUMOR IN YOUR HOLIDAYS AND THE MERRY IN THIS CHRISTMAS.  GOD BLESS

JOHN AND DEB

I’M DOING SALSA

I love the small food processor offered by Pampered Chef. It is a hand pump style, [ more pumping means a finer chop] two cup capacity, and perfect for smaller portion uses of one or two people. It is easy clean and easy use, but also kind of expensive.

This recipe is for Mild Salsa. John is not a ‘hot or spicy foods’ guy. There are two versions and both are delicious. I consider the first version the regular and the second version is my southern version. Here goes:

Mild Tomato Salsa [makes 2 qt]

1 medium to large onion/ or same amount of green onions

1 large green pepper / or mix of hot peppers if you like the heat [remember the heat may intensify as your salsa chills]

2 cans of diced tomatoes with roasted garlic and onion / or 4 cups fresh chopped tomatoes, juice and all.

1 T onion powder

1 T garlic powder

1 T cumin

½  T chili powder

Generous splash of garlic salt

Tomato juice.

Chop the onion and pepper [s] fine, move to mixing bowl.

Chop tomatoes and move to same mixing bowl.

Add seasonings, mix well and split the mix between 2 quart  jars. Fill each jar to the shoulder with tomato juice. Stir to mix well and freeze or chill.  If chilling, adjust seasonings to taste after about an hour.  This is my standby, no fail, no fat, salsa.

 

My southern salsa appears as the peaches ripen in Georgia. I can’t think how to do this justice except with fresh ripe peaches.

MILD PEACH SALSA

1 large onion

2 large banana peppers / add additional pepper choices for more heat

Pealed and chopped ripe peaches to equal 6 cups

1 T vinegar [to keep peaches from browning]

Chop the onion and peppers fine, move to mixing bowl.

Add peaches and same seasonings as above.

Mix well and split between 2 quart jars.

Adjust seasonings after chilling an hour or so.

This is NOT a freezing recipe, but it wont last that long anyway.

 

Serve either salsa with the mundane cheap white tortilla chips – it’s all in the salsa!

ENJOY

GREAT QUOTES that I like!

Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.  St Francis of Assisi

For love is all-conquering, all-powerful; and the thoughts and deeds, and words of love can never perish.  James Allen

It is what it is, but it will be what you make it.  Pat Summitt

Everything will be OK in the end. If things are not OK, it is not the end.  ?

Bring me the horizon, then a day to remember.  From a Carson Harris post

When someone remembers us, we live forever.  ?

When something negative happens to us, we give it the utmost attention. We pay little attention though, to the many good things that happen to us.  We just take all the good things for granted and then scream our heads off if something negative happens. In my life, I’ve learned to pay more attention to the good things and almost no attention to the bad things.  Steve Fugate

Don’t just do something.  Stand there!  ?

Facebook, the news, Twitter? Nothing important to communicate, a cynic might observe, is not only no impediment. It seems to be the whole point.  ?

There are many fine things we cannot say if we have to shout.  ?

In my day, if you wanted to play violent interactive games, watch inappropriate content and converse with dodgy strangers, you had to wait for a family reunion.  ?

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.  ?

Anyone who thinks they have 200 friends has got no friends.  ?

Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what  you’re  expecting to give – which is everything.   Katherine Hepburn

Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint on it you can.  Danny Kaye

The only way you can truly control how you’re seen is by being honest all the time.   Tom Hanks

Is the government, which has stolen everything it owns and has lied about everything it does, institutionally capable of ascertaining the truth? Only if the truth will enhance or confirm its power; otherwise, I think not.  Sanda Day O’Conner

I’m going to retire and live off my savings. What I’ll do the next day, I have no idea.  ?

To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.  Mark Twain

If the world didn’t suck, we would all fall off.  Larry the Cable Guy

Brains can be hired by the hour, just like muscle. Only character is not for sale at any price.  Justice Scalia

If common sense was jelly, you wouldn’t have enough lube for a hamster.  ?

If you only live one moment at a time, you might as well make it the present.  ?

Let’s stop comparing ourselves to others.  We were born to live our lives, not to live theirs.  ?

You can look back,  just don’t stare.  Doris Roberts

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program and the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.  Milton Freidman

Actions prove who someone is, words just prove who they pretend  to be.      ?

You either get BITTER or you get BETTER. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to YOU.           Josh Shipp

 

SIGNS IN MY OWN HOUSE:

Of course women don’t work as hard as men; they do it right the first time.

It’s never too late to get your shit together.

If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your thing.

I’m not great at advice, but can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?

I’m OUTDOORSY…..I drink wine on the patio!

 

 

 

 

BUDDY COLAW, Chapter 2

To preface this continuing saga, the last time an indoor cat lived at my house was about 1990, 29 long years ago.  Tigger was a black cat we’d had for 13 years.  Since that time, we have had a few cats that preferred to be outdoor cats, as I also preferred.

Buddy Colaw was Donald’s companion.  Buddy came to live with Donald as an 8 pound piece of fluff who wormed his way into Donald’s heart by being indifferent, condescending, even-tempered and obsequious at night.  He was a great housemate for an old bachelor.  Both were pretty unconcerned with a reasonably strict home maintenance plan.  Both thought nothing of counter and table surfing, which I think on, obsessively!

Donald put the food out, it was Buddy’s obligation to eat…or not. Same applied to the litter box. If Donald’s coffee cup wasn’t washed every day, well Buddy needn’t think his food dish would be any different.

As Donald’s health declined, Buddy thinned down a bit.  I expected to remedy that and the surfing, and any other necessary changes when Buddy came to live in Georgia.

Buddy lulled me into an easy transition by riding for 14 hours as if traveling had been his life dream.  He furthered the integration process by trolling our house as if he had lived here always.  He acted oblivious to Mattie, our 16 year old Beagle/Basset who was NOT oblivious to the intrusion.  I was smitten too and gushing as only a 70 year old idiot on meth [actually methotrexate, which isn’t as fun to write as “meth”] can be.

Reality has set in. It has rolled boulder-sized into our midst. It is the pint-sized elephant in the room.  B  U  D  D  Y   C  O  L  A  W  is here and planning to call the shots!

Table surfing is a night time sport. Who knew?  I thought sleeping, other than laundry,  was a night time sport.  We are working on this one. My last resort will be decorating the table with tape, sticky side up, to discourage any attempts. I really have no idea what Buddy likes to do, when the house is empty. Maybe I don’t want to know.

Buddy is a male groomer of monstrous proportions.   I didn’t figure him for the fastidious character he portrays.  Cat grooming equals hairballs – ugh.  I mean if I didn’t mention nose hair and eyebrows to John,  he would have a faux mustache and not be able to see to drive – DOUBLE UGH – I thought ALL males were like that, regardless of the species.  I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. [My sincere apologies to the late Richard Cole.]

My priority was going to be getting Buddy to eat more and put a few pounds on his little frame, maybe 3-4.  Turns out, my first priority, after watching him closely for a few days, is just getting him to eat at all.  He is a gravy guy.  He just licks the gravy off his food.  He has a fussy tummy, so changing food is totally out of the question. It’s been tried and puking EVERYWHERE is NOT my idea of …..well, anything.   He had been to the vet in Bloomington, Illinois and been sold some special dry food for gastro problems. I think the “special” was actually the price!

Since he didn’t eat the vet food and I now know that gravy is his thing, I turn to the real experts – THE INTERNET.  Turns out he just belongs to a sub-species of cat;  Gravy Lickers Anonymous.  There’s a whole tribe of them. I’m not letting a cat out of the food chain that easily.  I pull out my trusty [truthfully, I went and bought it] Bullet blender and puree two little containers of his food with some water added – I mean I get gravy on the first try – here we go Buddy!  Overnight he is cleaning up some real food.  Promising, promising!

Speaking of cleaning up……..litter box liners are a Godsend, litter mat rugs are a Godsend and a spare towel at the bathroom doorway to catch the last remnants of litter, on the way out, is also a Godsend.  Turns out that moving, resettling, gravy, dog,  water,  air is all unnerving to that ‘gastro’  issue and I have ‘issue’ just about everywhere. He always uses the box, but seems to forge a trail.  Today was C L E A N I N G  D A Y.  More cleaning than I really wanted, but clean it is.  I’m talking far cleaner than Buddy and his old Bachelor ever thought of…..or in fact, would ever notice.  John will come home today and ask what I did today.  He won’t notice that the floors have been vac’ed n mopped, the rugs vac’ed and shampoo’ed or washered if they were small enough. I tried my Bissell for the first time today – it’s work, but successful.  Big rugs got cleaned and rotated. Under the beds, in the closets, behind the doors – it was a cleaning frenzy that was cat inspired.

I, personally, have that ‘cat smell’ phobia, where you enter someone’s home and smell the cat or cats before you even see the homeowners.  I bought two waxy air fresheners when I bought the Bullet. One is in the bathroom and one in the kitchen.  I will be surveying guests at the door for quite some time:  DO YOU SMELL  ANYTHING  SPECIFIC  AS  YOU  ENTER?   The answer better be honeysuckle, lilac or guava peach. Can’t wait to hear the “guava peach”! Bawhahahaha!!!!

I am praying that the Bullet and the liners will be the answer to a ‘fat cat’ one of these days – a really HAPPY FAT CAT!!

WELCOME HOME BUDDY!!!