Thursday, December 29, 2016

Decision made

Toby the cat was rescued from a parking lot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. No one could locate him; he cried for a day and a night. Then a little girl played the kitty app on her phone, and he came running. No onlooker volunteered to take it, so Carol and I scrapped our plans for another day at the Three Rivers Art Festival, and concentrated on getting the scrappy kitten back to Ohio, where he devoured a bowl of water logged adult cat food, and became the topic of my first blog entry.

We found him on a Saturday, and at his trip to the vet on Monday he weighed in at a pound. The vet put him at four weeks, and pronounced him lucky to be alive. Lucky or not, he seemed reasonably content, and grew up to be a very long haired black and white, with a “Got Milk” mustache and very short legs. I told him his mama left him behind because his legs were so short.

There were two cats in the house, Purrl, the indoor/outdoor cat, and Ryon, a young rescue. Purrl, of course, had no use for either cat, but Ryon and Toby got along. Ryon fell into the habit of licking Toby’s ears. I never saw the favor returned.

Ryon and Toby

Toby did not know how lucky he was, until a January day some years ago that Ryon took an afternoon nap and did not wake up. There was no other cat to lick Toby’s ears. He took to licking the arm of any available person and rubbing his ears on the wet spot. Truly pathetic. I asked if his legs were too short to reach his ears (they really aren’t, in a stretch).


When we go to the vet, there often is a large crate with a few kittens. I think Dr. Mike helps the local Humane Society get them adopted. Laura always wants one, of course. As sweet as kittens are, I’m not tempted. Pets are a responsibility, and there now is that problem of longevity. Toby is under strict orders not to outlive me, but a kitten could be iffy.

Toby boarded down the road for the week we were in Wisconsin. Thinking of his great longing for an ear licker, I asked the technicians to introduce him to the common room of cat boarders as quickly as possible and let me know how Mr. Feral took to new cats.

Toby is a feral cat, and does not resemble any domesticated cats I’ve known. In the beginning, he was the kitten who had to make up to adult cats. Now he is the adult cat, set in his ways, though still wishing for an ear licker. To consider a kitten for him, I’d need to know he could be social.

Monday evening I peeked into the cat room. Cats everywhere, lolling about, snuggled up to other cats—cat stuff. And Toby, lying in his condo, door wide open, looking out. I asked the technician how his week had gone, if he’d made up with any other of the boarders.

They said his door was open, all day, every day, and he laid in the opening all week. The cats came up to investigate him, and he tolerated it without flinching. But, he never came out and said “Hi, my name is Toby. What’s yours? Do you do ears?”

So, he can stop playing pathetic cat with me, and realize his paws do reach his ears.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A week off, and back again

We arrived in Wisconsin a week too early for Christmas.
Laura helped at the kennel,

 made cookies,
and made supper every day.

This is Sawyer, one of Pat and Ann's dogs.
Sawyer is a dropout from cadaver school.
Too easily distracted. 
No cookie dough will fall, but that's not what he thinks.

Waiting for Santa.

Pat is Santa; Laura has another hat.

This is Seamus. He has old, old bones. He's about 12.
He and a sibling ran away from home. Pat returned them.
Seamus was back on the doorstep every time Pat returned him,
until the original human said, "Guess he's yours."

And another of the rescues. 
I've lost track of the number of dogs in the house all week.
When we left, there was one less bed to sleep on, every night.
Sigh. A dog's life.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The cat prevailed

Vacation plans for Toby were firm, but fluid. He was boarding at a local kennel. And the kennel must be quite tired of me by now. Last week I made his reservation for Saturday, on. But the weekend forecast came up quite ugly, and I changed his reservation to Monday.

The polar vortex shifted, the weather moved a little north, and travel along two Great Lake shores to Wisconsin looked probable for today. I changed Toby’s reservation to this morning. I confess that all those times I called and listened to the times the kennel is open to take in and discharge pets, I never picked up on the crucial one. Though they are open twice a day throughout the week, on the weekend they are open Saturday morning and Sunday evening.

He Who, on a summer day.

I called yesterday to change Toby’s reservation to this morning, and the recording finally penetrated. I left a desperate message, but the call was not returned. Late in the afternoon I called Ann. She does run a kennel, and the cats have their own room, with sunning perches and everything. “Sure, bring him along.” Listening to him moan for several hours would not be pleasant, but perhaps Pride and Prejudice or Harry Potter would lull him to sleep.

Laura and I worked through yesterday with the resolve of vacationers leaving nothing to chance. The car is packed. Suitcases are open on the floor, and packed. All the last minute items are listed, and bags to tote them are open on the table. We are as determined as two people who’ve had no vacation in three years.

I’d been in bed a short time, and half asleep, when I became aware of muffled plopping noises. “Why are kids out in the street with fire crackers, in this rain?” I wondered. Eventually I got up and looked out the window onto the street. Fat raindrops, landing solidly. I went back to bed.

We are encased in ice this morning. I looked at the weather maps. Lake Erie and Lake Michigan are wreathed in purple and blue—freezing rain and freezing cold. I texted Ann, It’s No Go. Toby will be keeping his Monday reservation after all.

The front garden bench, through ice.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I didn’t come in from the cold yesterday, or, my heat pump learning curve

Most all my life I’ve lived in homes heated with natural gas. Nice stuff, comes into the house through a pipe, burns in the furnace, makes warm air. Have the furnace checked yearly, good to go.

When I looked at mobile home units, my choices were electric or propane. I’ve been in propane heated houses, and it’s OK, but not so warm as natural gas. Don’t laugh; there’s a difference between warm heat and not so warm heat.

The units available last June were this electric unit, and a propane unit. I chose this one because electricity comes in through the electric line, no tromping out to check the meter on the propane tank.

I looked it all over. I saw an air conditioner outside, an electric furnace in the laundry room, an electric hot water tank in the walk in closet. I asked the manager, what I could expect for an electric bill.

“About a hundred dollars a month, if you’re careful.” That is astoundingly low.

We moved here in July. It was hot, and the air ran all the time. The bill was about sixty dollars. The next month was hotter, the bill was eighty eight dollars. September, cooler, back to sixty. October, we didn’t heat much, forty dollars. November, the furnace ran a lot, back to eighty dollars.

So, December was moving along as usual, until that polar vortex slipped on down. It is cold. There was that little thermostat mishap, adding to my misunderstanding of the heating system. The last week before the vortex, the temperature hovered in the twenties, day and night, and the furnace ran a lot.

But, the air was cool. I had Dan, the maintenance guy, take a look. And, I learned about heat pumps. Yes, that air conditioner is a heat pump, and they are super efficient, in their own way, and not the gas way I was used to.

When the thermostat is asking for heat, the heat pump extracts it from the outside air and sends it in. Dan aimed his heat gun into several registers, and the air coming out at the floor is in the seventies. It feels cooler because it’s cooler than body temperature.

My lifelong habit is to turn down the heat at night and increase it in the morning. I made a four degree change here, between day and night. That will all change tonight.

Yesterday Dan proved to me that increasing the thermostat two degrees will cause the electric furnace to turn on when it is cold enough outside to discourage the heat pump. “Just like burning money,” he announced. It was around ten degrees outside at the time. “Don’t change it,” he advised. “Run a constant temperature when it’s so cold out.”

But, of course, I would learn the hardest way possible. I lowered the thermostat to sixty two overnight. I heard the heat pump running whenever I woke up. This morning, I raised the thermostat one degree, ate breakfast, went to work. Three hours later the temperature was unchanged.

Outside we were up from two degrees to seven. Just as I was leaving an hour later, the temperature rose to sixty three. Triumphantly, I raised it another degree and went to my appointment. On returning the house was---sixty three. It was ten degrees outside. In six hours the heat pump increased the house temperature one degree.

I got it, Dan. I punched in sixty six and listened to dollar bills burn for half an hour, though I felt warm air rising all around. It’s sixty six now, and the heat pump is maintaining. Interesting stuff, this new heat.

Monday, December 12, 2016

What would you give for a Twinkie or a HoHo right now?

Monday afternoon, cards with the Methodists. No Mother of Sorrows has joined us, printed invitations notwithstanding. But the four of us don’t seem in a hurry to disband.

We have never been two only, which is a shame. I would love to teach someone how to play Russian Bank. Sometimes we are three, when one of us has her monthly bridge group, one of us is too long at the doctors, or one of us, who shall remain nameless, rides the Jerr-Dan to Goodyear to have the six year old battery replaced.

A while back I contributed a copy of Hoyle to the portable bag of cards. We were playing by family or frat house rules, and paper, scissors, rock is not the best solution among serious card players. A worthwhile contribution, as we had scratched out all the rules each of us remembered about pinochle and set out to play a game the last time there were four of us together. While interesting, it didn’t have the intensity any of us remembered.

Someone perused Hoyle recently, waiting for more of us to assemble, and there it was, the missing rule. The ten is more powerful than face cards. Our foursome has been a threesome since the lost rule was recovered, and won’t be a foursome again until January 2nd. Then there will be some card playing!

Every session, there are refreshments. Except for a crème filled donut at Halloween, I’ve never indulged. Between meal snacks are deadly. But there is such a laden table every Monday, I am coming to realize the snacks are out to keep stock rotated.

But today, apparently, there were no goods that needed consumed or composted. One of our number stopped at the Yum Yum Shoppe across the street and emptied from his pockets a chocolate covered Twinkie and unadulterated HoHo’s.  The later an oxymoron and the former—well, we’ve all read of the Twinkie unchanged over several decades of observation. 

The refreshments were offered around. He who stopped at the Yum Yum shop selected the Twinkie, when it was turned down. That left two HoHo’s and I declined one. The other player took a HoHo, but called his wife to see if she would like it. In fact, he placed several calls. “Honey, it’s me. It’s an emergency. Call me.”

They’re long married, and the emergency must be a long standing game. “She never calls me back.” But eventually she did. She turned down the HoHo, citing all the alien ingredients. He ate the HoHo with his tea, and took the last one for the road.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Almost the first day of winter

It's snowing in the township. 

 And on our drive and car.

The nerve!

We have the happiest sparrows for acres around.
In the morning the pear tree is full of sparrows,
waiting a turn.

The chickadee and the junco have not found their way back.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A fine Bazaar

For a couple of weeks I have passed the demure sign on the left,
announcing the Community Christmas Bazaar
to be held today, at our town hall.

Laura and I were there when it opened.
Our new road super had a hand in this.
Isn't he something.

We passed him in the hall, whistling while he worked.

There were more vendors this year,
everywhere we looked.

This is the township administration office,
converted for the day.
Someone you know is considering.

I bought ringing bells for our front door knob,

some more ornaments,

a Christmas sheep.
 I think Toby finds him extra interesting, so he's hanging with the stockings.

And some soap.