What do you do when sleeping?

cartoon cat sleeping

I woke up the other week and I thought we were having an earthquake in Houston. Have they started fracking here? The bed was shaking and I looked over to Teddy who was fast asleep but having fun all by himself… I nearly burst out laughing, then thought about joining in but decided to go back to sleep. I bet he wasn’t thinking about me – Jennifer Lawrence, perhaps? This has happened before but he has no memory. Most commonly he wakes me up with his impersonation of a snoring bear.

When we first got married, I sleep walked on one occasion and often mumbled in my sleep. One night, I got up, washed and dressed – ready to go out to work at 2 pm. I would have gone had I not realized that it was silent and pitch black. When I was a child I could not sleep without a light on and a thumb in my mouth. I shared a bed with my single mum and she was driven to distraction by all the soft toys she had to eject just to get into bed. I started having horrible nightmares when I was less than five years about witches crawling up the wall. I still have dreams almost every night but they are more like disturbing reality. My mum used to wake up the whole house, screaming, after horrific nightmares. I suspect that is a side effect of a similar diagnosis and medication that we take.

My poor little crazy cat, Zhenny, will often wake up after a nightmare, hiss and fall out of the laundry basket onto the washer. She starts to cry and has to be comforted by mum or dad. Sometimes she falls into a deep sleep while on my lap and will have a falling off a cliff shudder and wake herself – bless her heart. She chose the right family to live with.

I rarely have erotic dreams but when I do, it is always forbidden and surreal. My dreams are in color but they are either muted pastels or gloomy. I have several recurring dreams that all revolve around a house or area that we used to live in. It is always something unpleasant, like living back in Egypt or England. The houses are surreal but bear some resemblances to previous houses. Despite this, I have the capacity to sleep right through a hurricane or recently a tornado storm. This will only make sense to fans of the Walking Dead, but recently Teddy woke up after a nightmare and ran to get a cuddle from me. Apparently I had a shotgun and told him to “look at the flowers”. I wonder if I was wearing a twin-suit? I told him if he keeps shaking the bed it might be prophetic….

POST SCRIPT
This morning I was dreaming of having illicit sex with my first boyfriend (I never did). It was very realistic until I realized that yet again the bed was shaking… LOL!

The final crush?

What's sexier than a man who loves cats?

What’s sexier than a man who loves cats?

Following the theme of the last two posts, I had a huge spark and crush on my husband when I met him. I was 21 and he took me by surprise. Given my previous experience of geologists, I was expecting a woolly sweater geek. He does have woolly sweaters and is a geek but has an amazingly sharp sense of humor and is good looking, too. Our romance was very speedy, causing anxious relatives to think that it was a shotgun wedding. (No, we still have no spawn apart from ungrateful Egyptian cats.) We met in August 1981 and married in July 1982. We worked in different countries during this period so only really were together for about four months. At various point in our courtship and marriage, I have thought that I made a mistake and I am sure that he has too.

I had a crush on another librarian in my late twenties, at least eight years after I was married and since Teddy still refers to him, this one made him anxious. I was going through a really difficult period in my life. My father had died in his 50s and my mother had a heart attack leading onto a heart bypass operation. We lived in a rurally isolated village and the most excitement I got was when the mobile library came to us, every two weeks. The librarian was about my age, handsome and he had books. Even better, he could choose books for me from my likes and dislikes. He was remarkably good at that so the crush was inevitable.

My husband was currently having a crush on someone at work, so I guess mine was a revenge crush. Again it was just innocent fun but the librarian thought that I was losing weight to please him but I was just worried about an early death like my parents. He told me a little too much about his personal life and that was enough to dissipate the crush. Once my husband’s crush saw the new slim Kerry, I was satisfied.

We have been married for 33 years so our love and desire for each other has waxed and waned. I remember a wonderful vacation to the east coast of the United States in the late 90s when we were totally in synch. Lovemaking in Pennsylvania to the sound of cicadas will always stay with me. Teddy looked particularly handsome then and I remember thinking how handsome he looked tall, slim with a tan.

Teddy and Bunny in their 40s - married 20 years then

Teddy and Bunny in their 40s – married 20 years then

I am fascinated by our memories being different. We both remember that night in Pennsylvania but then I will remember Madrid and he, Lisbon. We have always loved each other but had some significant ups and downs until recently. We have traveled the world together over the last few years and have been embarrassingly noisy in hotel rooms, particularly Istanbul.

We went to Palm Springs during Christmas break a couple of years ago. I had my usual itinerary of National Parks to visit, restaurants to eat at but suddenly became ill. I told him to go to Joshua National Park without me and then realized that I was ‘ER ill’. I got a taxi to take me to ER for breathing problems, was nebulized after some hours and given antibiotics. I tried to contact him but he was out with cell phone reach. By the time he came to ER he was in such a panic. Despite all that, after a day on strong antibiotics, I was in the mood and since we were staying the Hard Rock Hotel we had the most amazing night together. The whole room was mirrored, our room was named after the Grateful Dead (which seemed particularly appropriate), and we had a sex kit in our bedroom full of toys and condoms. My vulnerability and the mirrors turned Teddy into a sex god. I taught him a few acrobatic positions that night.

I am assuming Teddy will be the final real crush but am too pragmatic to create a Hollywood ending. Nobody can tell what’s in the future and if he died suddenly, I think I would marry again because it was such a wonderful experience. He feels the opposite – no one could compare to his Bunny. In the meantime, I will keep having crushes on movie stars, doctors and anyone else I meet in life. He will too, and I am optimistic that we will live happily ever after until the next time he drives too fast, doesn’t empty the trash or snores. On a final funny note, he queried why I was all dressed up the other day and I told him I was going to see one of my doctors (i.e. crush). In bed that night, after a bottle of wine or so, he snuggled up to me, grabbed my boobs and said, “You have the most beautiful breasts”. I waited with anticipation but the next sound was very loud snoring. I slept in the front room…

Making kittens…

piper, prue, phoebe

Piper, Prue and Phoebe, Mrs. Stripe’s last kittens

We have been married a long time eons and we have had some droughts in our intimacy. As you know, my hormonal status has been making life more interesting over the last few years. Our cats were getting used to Mum and Dad having separate bedrooms and then suddenly they were together in the same bed, MAKING KITTENS! At first, Mrs. Stripe (who had myriad kittens in Egypt) used to stand on Dad, whining at him to stop hurting Mum. Why else would she be making those funny noises? Then they seemed to catch on that we were ‘making kittens’ and that wasn’t much better because three cats is more than enough!

They have learned to be discreet or they are locked out of the bedroom because Dad’s performance suffers with an audience who looks at him with distaste. (Imagine your teenage children finding you making kittens…) This morning, after what I thought was a romantic tryst, Mrs. Stripe came straight up the bed and washed my armpits. Well, it had been a boisterous session and we live in the subtropics. Teddy looked at Bunny with disdain, saying, “Why do you let her do that, it’s disgusting!” My retort was, “Well you did something disgusting to me last night that involved bodily fluids”.

His response was that he was compelled to make kittens with me – clearly it was not within his control. Either my attractive smell or visage made him behave in this way. I cracked up laughing, as did he. Maybe there was a compliment in there but I am sure he could have come up with something better such as, “I desired you so much, you are intoxicating or you are the love of my life”. 🙂

Let’s see what happens the next time Teddy wants to make kittens with Bunny…

Mrs. Stripe and the Pharmacy

stripe pharmacy

Mrs. Stripe, the oldest of our three Egyptian feral cats, has had a painful week. She is about 15 years old and has considerable muscle deterioration in her back legs from early acrobatics across the rooftops of Cairo. She is on Gabapentin but this week I noticed that she was struggling to sit down on her back legs. Given her age and feral nature, I was convinced that we were taking her to be euthanized but once again she was saved for a little while longer with an opiate injection, some NSAIDs and an increased dose of Gabapentin.

She was hilarious when she came home – feeling no pain, eyes completely black and looking for trouble! She also had the munchies and we had to keep feeding the beast. The other two cats, quite wisely, kept out of her way. At one point we found the rug my grandmother made at the other side of the living room. I guess she had used it in an Arabian Nights scenario?

I asked if we could take the prescription to our local pharmacy as they now do pet medications (the ones that are the same as human drugs). The cost dropped from about $50 to $8 a bottle, so it was a considerable saving. When I went to pick it up today, I wondered (again) why we decided to call her Mrs. Stripe instead of just Tiger or some such. “What is the patient’s name?” Giggles from me, followed by “Mrs. Stripe”, to which I got a raised eyebrow. Then I had to fill in a digital form which queried – SELF or AGENT. Now I was really laughing, “I guess I am Mrs. Stripe’s agent, then.” I have no idea why the pharmacy technician didn’t think it was funny too. I was going to say that Mrs. Stripe would have come herself but God had forgotten to give her opposable thumbs.

In a unusual moment of good sense I thought that my comment might offend someone from the evangelical south. Just as well God didn’t (give her thumbs) because she would be doing do-nuts in the Challenger, stealing credit cards from my purse and other dastardly deeds.

Versatile Blogger Award – Kerry’s on fire!

versatile bloggers award

My lovely fellow blogger, The Grey Eye has nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award. Woo-hoo! Two awards in two days – how awesome am I? We have a snarky expression in Scotland to describe someone (like me) who has been bragging or boasting. ‘If she was chocolate, she would eat herself’. Just call me Miss Hershey!

The rules:
Show the award on your blog. Thank the person who nominated you.
The Grey Eye said this about me
Kerry for her amazing mental strength, despite her illness she is so strong that will make you think about yourself from a new angle
I am both humbled and touched by such a lovely comment and the graciousness of the whole blog.

Share 7 facts about yourself. Nominate 15 blogs. Link your nominees’ blogs, and let them know.
Facts about me :

1. I once modelled for Icelandic Airlines. Way back in the Ice Age (1962) I was on my first air trip from San Francisco, the place of my birth, to Scotland. We stopped at Reykjavik, Iceland to refuel and the local staff were enchanted with this exotic baby girl whose surname was Ortega. They would have been either disappointed or delighted that I am very distantly related to Princess Diana’s family. We share a medieval uncle.

Kerry's first passport

Kerry’s first passport

2. I am amazingly good in a crisis (despite a diagnosis of anxiety). Just shove any old thing at me; someone having a panic attack on an aircraft, perhaps a devastating hurricane or the 2nd Gulf War breaking out (Egypt 2003). I will just smile and keep calm. Later, when the shouting is over, I will have a small psychiatric break…

3. Despite a phobia of moths, I have no fear of traveling almost anywhere alone. Flew off to Central America and South East Asia without a care in the world and came to no harm. This is the silver lining to fatalism. I am reasonable sensible in dangerous parts but still think I will die of heart disease like almost everyone else. It would be excessively cool, however, to become undead in a zombie apocalypse!

4. I love hot, steamy weather which is handy because I live in south east Texas. In cold climates, I become ill really quickly and can’t warm up without a bath. Along with Native American genetics, I believe I have some very ancient lizard DNA. I bask in sunlight and shut down in the cold.

5. Food is inconsequential to me. I either eat too much or too little. I enjoy savory and sweet morsels but would be happy to live forever on avocados and wine. I do like food porn though and salivate at other blogger’s recipes. I am the only person I know who gets nauseous when grocery shopping and have to leave midway.

6. Despite a love of writing, I now find it very difficult to concentrate on reading. My attention span is short so I have to really struggle to read a book for book club. Blogs are perfect for me. When I do read I love geeky stuff – sci-fi and fantasy. Game of Thrones (shudder of delight)…

7. Cats, critters, wildlife. Love it all (even the moths) and am so lucky that our house backs onto a reserve full of interesting critters- possums, skunks, raccoons, snakes, wood rats, birds, feral cats and goodness knows what else. HEAVEN… but noisy in the summer when everyone is mating and chirruping! I knew the raccoons visited last night because our newly painted cream deck was covered in little muddy paw prints and the water bowl was empty. Guess what my honey do hunk will be doing when he gets back from Waco?

I nominate :

Mr Wayne
Bold Blind Beauty
poemhobby
Fife Photos and Art
Life As Lisa Knows It
Mon Petit Blog D’écriture
discovermarche
101viaggi
Love Exploring Scotland
organic is beautiful
impeccable hopes
FORGOTTEN MEADOWS
xifoidvexillum
Rachel Being Chatty
Robyn Christi

Pixie haircut 2016

kerrys new haircut 2016

With everything that happened recently, I had every intention of growing my hair long again (to save money on haircuts). Stephanae at Bold Blind Beauty’s latest post somehow inspired me to go to the hairdresser and ask him to cut it in a pretty pixie cut to give me some bravado for 2016 and this is the result.

It’s amazing how a new haircut can make you feel better and boost your confidence.  As you can see from my apparel the bottom end of the major storm system has hit Houston and even we have to wear faux furry parkas.  The heating is on, the fire, too, and Katniss (our feral cat) has had two meals today.  The jay and the cardinal also asked for lunch…  It never ends. 🙂

Widower at Trader Joe

A_K_Wedd

Bunny and Teddy signing the wedding registry in 1982, Our bridesmaid and best man married each other and are still together.

Last night I had endless horrible nightmares. This was because I accidentally noticed a job advertised that was perfect for me. It was a low wage but had excellent benefits. There were two problems – it was full-time and in downtown Houston which is about 40 miles away in frenetic driving conditions. Nevertheless, I was thinking seriously about it after I had investigated the cost of health care. I know exactly what my psychiatrist would have said – Noooooo!

So, before we went to bed we had a normal marital fracas. I thought he was already in the master bathroom but he had gone to pick up his notebook in the study. As I had turned all the lights off, he accidentally kicked our very sensitive baby cat in the dark. He blamed me, I started fecking about how stupid he was and we went to bed in bad humor with baby cat sleeping under the spare bed. I was so angry and wanted to go sleep with baby cat in the spare bedroom but knew that Teddy would have been so upset.

The nightmare was a variation on a recurring dream. As usual, I had not completed my equivalent of an Associate’s degree and was struggling to sit the final exam with one day’s notice. In reality I passed it all (in 1980) with no problem whatsoever and have endless other useless qualifications and experience (counselling skills, training for trainers, blah, blah). I woke up terrified at 6 am, worried that I was not going to have a business major and there would be a zombie apocalypse. I ran into the living room where Teddy was starting to feed the cats and ran into his arms. He asked me what was wrong but I was too traumatized to have words yet. He apologized for being grumpy the night before and life went back to some kind of normal.

Then I met with some other volunteers for our regular lunch and life was put back into perspective with someone else’s ill health. On the return journey an 18 wheeler truck tried to take me out on the interstate and yet again perspective was realized. I knew in that moment that someone who was made anxious by lunch, had neuropathy after a 45 minute drive for something pleasant, in slow traffic, could never manage a downtown job with a 2 hour drive both ways.

I asked Teddy if he would like to go to Chilli’s for a meal so we went this evening and had a lovely time discussing when we wanted to die. At the moment, 75 is my limit and I really mean that. He worried that his middle-aged forgetfulness was early onset Alzheimer’s and I reassured him that I would ‘take him out’. After that he wanted some chocolate so we went to Trader Joe’s. We stocked up on cheap wine, Peruvian giant corn and chocolate and went to the till. Our sales assistant, Ricardo, was new to me – I know everyone there.

Teddy attempted to pay the old way with a swipe of the credit card but Trader Joe is all set up for the chip, so you have to insert it. I tutted at his inexperience and explained to Ricardo that he wasn’t used to shopping, with a laugh. Ricardo asked how long we had been married and I told him 33 years. He remarked that we had an easy way with each other that only long married couples had. I asked him how long he had been married and he said, “She passed after 30 years”. My eyes filled with tears and we chatted about whether he was ready to meet someone else. Of course, I offered to find him someone and told him he was very handsome. When we left the store I nearly fell apart with the sadness of that and once again I realized how very lucky I was.  Count your blessings.

Resolution No. 1 – wash more…

kerrystripe163

I made my husband take this series of photos even though he was disgusted by me and Mrs. Stripe. Still taking it easy and after a fun social occasion last night I decided to stay in bed all day. Mrs. Stripe walked straight up the bed a couple of hours ago and started washing my hand. Then her nose wrinkled and she started washing my armpit. Clearly, Kerry needed a bath…

kerrystripe164

I really love my mom and am happy to do my duty.

kerrystripe165

Well, it was a dirty job but somebody had to do it.

You will be pleased to know (and my husband certainly is) that I have bathed, changed the bed, put on antiperspirant and a clean nightie. HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your resolutions are slightly less basic than mine. 🙂

Zhenny – the crazy cat

ZnK_Sept1

I had such a sad day yesterday. Our beautiful Zhenny’s heart stopped during a routine dental procedure and she is now buried in the garden with Mrs. Stripe who died earlier in the year. She was geriatric and had some cognitive difficulties but it was an unexpected death.  Teddy and I are distraught despite knowing that she didn’t have much longer. She was so funny, loving and crazy, RIP our special girl. This is my original post about her.

I know – she is utterly beautiful. Her eyes are exquisite and she looks like a cat on a pyramid. That’s the problem… I first encountered her at the cat shelter where my husband and I volunteered in Cairo, Egypt. Her owner was moving from an American military base in Cairo to another in Korea and couldn’t take her fur baby. I can only imagine how her owner felt but Zhenny was distraught. She wouldn’t eat anything, despite our endless treats and pleading. The veterinarian put an IV drip in but she thought she was being tortured. We already had Mrs. Stripe and her daughter, Toffee, our garden cats, so we certainly didn’t want another one. We thought that Stripe would attack her anyway as she is so territorial. Then one day it was obvious that Zhenny was dying and I just put her in a crate, took her home so that she could die somewhere nice.

She was so skinny that we bought her a little cat nest with a hood so that she could feel safe and comfortable in her final days. To my surprise, when I introduced Stripe and Toffee to her, I could see them saying, ‘Poor little soul’ and thus she was accepted. The fight for her life went on for about a week with me forcing baby food into her mouth. In desperation I bought some minced beef and cooked it for her. For the first time, she seemed to have an appetite and started eating properly. By that time we were all bonded or used to each other’s scents and it was too late… That was 12 years ago and she was 18 months old. She is still alive but I have saved her life on another occasion when the veterinarian hospital could not look after her. We believe she may have sent someone to ER…

Stripe and Toffee are likely half Mau but completely feral. Zhenny looks like a tabby oriental but may as well be from Planet Zed. Even the vet said that she is just loco. I have looked after many cats but this one is an enigma. Only I can lift her, and only in special circumstances. Her Dad may only kiss her but not stroke her. He is also the only one who is allowed to play with her in a precise OCD way. Mum is just for cuddles and care-giving. The other two cats were utterly silent for years, as feral cats can be, but Zhenny is astonishingly vocal. I will be on the phone with my aunt in Ireland, Zhenny will be three rooms away and she can hear her screaming. After all these years we can tell the difference between her distress and laughter. The vet suggested that we give her Xanax – I looked at him and said, “How precisely should I do that, with a blow-dart, perhaps?”

She can be hysterically funny or drive us to tears. If she is upset she creeps along the floor, sobbing. Have you ever heard a cat sob? All treats have to be thrown like live prey and yet she is not a hunter. We discovered much later that she had kittens before we took her in but still hadn’t been neutered. Shortly after I saved her life in Cairo, she went into heat. Our villa was three houses from the baker’s shop at the end of the street and I could hear her howling inside our house. No wonder our neighbors had some issues with us… One time she was halfway up the stairs, with her head peeping through the balustrade and started ‘in heat howling’. Even she looked astonished at the guttural sound that came out of her mouth and we burst out laughing.

She should not have lived this long but Mummy is just so good at saving her life. Sigh. Our vet looks at me in horror when I say very firmly DO NOT RESUSCITATE! She is so difficult to handle that we know that she would not be able to cope with a chronic illness or disability so it would be a kindness. She has the early stages of kidney dysfunction but I suspect she has at least another year in her. Oh we will miss these beautiful green blue eyes and her funny vocalizations.

Zhenny at 2 years old in Cairo

Zhenny at 2 years old in Cairo

Read more about her in Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan

The Christmas Letter

zed in snow

Zhenny in the Christmas Snow

For some reason I thought it was perfectly okay to announce that my husband was laid off on the world wide web before telling family or friends. It is as if I am writing a diary to a special friend instead of hundreds of people. Once we started receiving email attachment and snail mail letters my husband thought that I should compose one. I had actually written a short note to put in my overseas mail but they were sent before the bad day. It was impossible to think of a way to write a letter. Should I do my usual, list our vacations, health issues and then just finish with ‘and BTW my husband was laid off’? I finally decided that humor and straight forwardness was the best bet. This is, more or less, what I wrote to friends and family (leaving out some personal details). My husband is A.

Festive Greetings friends and family
First, and most important, who sent the chocolates to Auntie M.? She thought it was me, so before any other relatives get embarrassed and have to say, “I haven’t sent you anything” please tell her who the culprit was.

I saw this marvelous quote from NBC News –‘Tis the season to get flooded with Christmas letters — often a litany of bombastic bragging disguised as holiday cheer’. I thought that is a tad harsh but sometimes I have thought that and you might have about our letters… So without further ado, as soon as we came back from a fabulous vacation in Baha, A. was made redundant or laid off, as you say in the States. His company has been really struggling with both the oil price and the hostile takeover. They kept moving him from job to job but I could see the writing on the wall.

A. has been given a good severance package and we figure we have a year to get him a job in Siberia or Saudi… At first you are devastated – what next – but then reality sinks in and you think, ‘I could be living in Syria’. He is most likely going to become an independent contractor and has been given a verbal offer of a contract in the next few months. Given how bad things are, however, we will wait until there is something in writing before we open the cheap wine.

We applied for Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act and are eligible, but not able to apply until our health coverage runs out (3 months as we are, 18 months on Cobra). I was putting off applying for Disability as my doctor suggested I do, so I will think about it seriously in January. In the meantime we had a laugh when my earnings were predicted to be more than A.’s in the next few months between the book earnings and my occasional job as a writer for a local magazine. So far, so good and I am onto my third article.
Blogging is keeping me sane so there are endless blogs for you to peruse when you are bored. This is the one about A. being laid off
A Bad Day
This is one about our vacation in Baha
The Exciting Bus Ride
Our oldest cat
Mrs. Stripe

So have a wonderful holiday season, Merry Christmas, Super Solstice, Happy New Year. I am working on the 25th then will come home and cook my Teddy something reasonably nice for dinner. We swapped offices yesterday and didn’t start divorce papers so all is well and we had great fun at my fancy holiday event.

Love Kerry and A. xxx

We have had a few lovely responses from friends offering commiserations to practical help such as visiting Mum in the Alzheimer’s unit in Scotland. Many people we know work in the oil industry so there is barely anyone unaffected by this current downturn. Misery loves company! I laughed when I read the quote about Christmas letters. We have no children and have traveled frequently so ours probably sounded a bit like that in the past. You tend not to say that you have had vajazzling or many psychiatrist’s visits… Still, this blog is a way for our friends to know more than they ever wanted to about our sex life, my bad mental health and all the other funny things I write about. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!