Katniss with snowflakes

Too cold for a sub tropical cat!

Most of you know that we have an inside cat and an outside cat. Katniss (the outside cat) is utterly feral and I can’t touch her (so is the inside cat…). We live in the sub tropics and she normally uses my deck as shade but the weather is crazy right now. Here she is with some snowflakes in her dense black fur. She complained bitterly to me but doesn’t believe that I am only the Goddess of tinned food, not the weather.   Fortunately, I have been feeding her like a Christmas Goose and she has a nice layer of blubber.  Houston has just closed for two days because of a ridiculous cold front. It went down to single digits (F) in some places.

Here are icicles still frozen on my bush.

Icicles!

I drove to the airport today and it was scary to see how much ice there had been. Not only do we not have the capacity to deal with this kind of weather but none of us know how to drive in it. I learned to drive in Texas so my only skills are driving fast (breaking fast when I spot state troopers), avoiding flash floods and parking under the only tree in the summer.

Poor cold aloe

Even my poor little Aloe Vera is completely frozen. About 10 years ago I planted an inch of aloe and it grew and grew like Topsy. I hope she survives this freak ice storm.  Teddy flew to Oklahoma (I always burst into song when I say that) and it will be even colder there, brrrrr!  I am desperate to share my adventure in Mexico with y’all amigos but am too tired to do it justice. Next week…

Until then, keep warm my friends.

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Was Toffee on the naughty list?

Sorry it’s blurry – it’s an action shot…

Toffee is our elderly Egyptian street cat who hardly ever spoke until the other two alphas died.  Now she won’t shut up.  I have no idea where she gets it from (says the girl whose Nana exclaimed most nights, “The child has not stopped talking all day”).  I am a little annoyed with Toffee because Dad was in Europe for almost three weeks and she stopped saying thank you (a deep strange noise).  As soon as he returned, so did the thank yous…

We always get her a Christmas present, usually her favorite knitted toys filled with catnip.  As the Youtube video below shows, some one wasn’t entirely happy with her present.  I don’t know what’s funnier – her talking or me and what Dad is breaking in the background.  The video is also blurry (mom takes medication) but it is the sound that matters.

Given her human age is about 70 (15 next year), she got tuna for breakfast anyway, as did Miss Katniss.  Katniss is our feral outside cat who is about 3 years old.  She refuses to be trapped but is coming around for food 2 or 3 times a day.  Her fur is glossy and she is a little rounded but I don’t think she is pregnant.  Sometimes she runs towards me and then hisses when she remembers I am not her mom.

Katniss and her shadow

Doesn’t she look incredibly healthy?  She talks nonstop as well – no idea why…😸  Below is a shot of Dad in his enticing nightwear feeding her on Christmas morning.  She is pretending to be Greta Garbo because she sees me photographing her through the window.

Katniss hiding from Mommy Paparazzi

Snow in the subtropics!

My street

I was just about to take some photographs of our late autumn foliage when this happened.  The last time we had snow was in 2009 so it is a big event.  Everyone gets a bit silly when we get snow and the mechanics at the auto shop had been throwing snowballs.  My next door neighbor’s daughter, who has grown up with us, is now very tall and at university.  She created this miniature snowman.

Snowman!

Last week I told my girlfriends that it was going to snow this week.  I doubt they believed me.  My sixth sense has been hyper recently and I had a premonition of my death.  Nothing awful – just that it would be my lungs.  I had the last rites when I was a baby (lungs full of fluid), so I am good to go! 😇  Yesterday I drove downtown in the most awful weather, icy rain, crazy drivers and a warning light on my car.  I was working outside and remarked to my colleague that snow was coming.  He didn’t believe me either.  As I drove back home in the same conditions, I noticed that odd look that the sky has when snow is in the clouds.  Just a faint hint of pink with a heaviness to the clouds.  All those years living in the north of Scotland has honed my Farmer’s Almanac skills.

My Japanese Yew and Mountain Laurel

Some of my plants are suited for a wide range of weather including these two buddies but some tropical plants look overwhelmed.  Katniss blames me for all weather events and has been hissing at me this week.   Just call me Freya…  Today, at her first sight of snow, she had no words but later wailed at me for the cold.  There is a lovely deck to shelter under and she has a thick, glossy coat.

Katniss and Winter Storm Helena

diy-cat-shelter

DIY Cat Shelter

As most of you know, we now have an outside feral cat – Katniss (picture below). We have a large deck which she uses most of the year with all the other critters but Winter Storm Helena is bringing a hard frost. I need to interject – why do we name every stupid storm? Back in the old days it was just bad weather. As usual, Houston is reacting as though winterpocalypse had arrived. To be fair, homeless people and critters are going to struggle over the next couple of days. What to do?

I checked out cat houses on Amazon and we could certainly get one eventually. In the meantime, I created a nest with an old cat crate covered in a tarp for hurricanes. It is off the deck to feel safer and there is a clean fleecy blanket in there with a catnip toy. Then I went to the supermarket to look for a hot water bottle – the assistant looked at me as though I came out of the Ark. “I don’t think they make them anymore”. Kerry Macgyver thought about it and created this.

glass bottle filled with hot water

glass bottle filled with hot water

Wrapped in two old t-shirts

Wrapped in two old t-shirts

I threw out some 10 year old Pimms (British drink) and filled it with hot water, sealed with the love of my life – duct tape. Then I rolled it in two of Teddy’s old t-shirts and put it under the blanket.

Katniss, the feral cat

Katniss, the feral cat

I doubt very much if Princess Katniss will use this shelter but perhaps there will be a warm family of possums? One of my neighbors kindly allows Katniss to sleep on their covered porch which is warm from the house, so she has some options.  A few days ago, I spotted her waiting for breakfast in the corner of the garden. She suddenly looked behind her, clearly askance but not terrified, into the reserve. To my astonishment, two fat possums (Betsy and Peggy Sue?) came thundering out aiming directly for our deck. It was 8 am so they were late going to bed (under our deck) but they had been digging for grubs by the looks of their snouts. It looked like the scene in the film Fifth Element where the elephantine aliens came thundering out of the pyramid. I burst out laughing and went out to reassure Katniss.

She ran off (to return at a later time) and I startled Possum # 3 – the baby who had been following the other two. I saw him sleeping on the flowerbed a couple of hours later and entreated him gently to go under the deck to sleep with his family. He seemed to understand and went to bed like all good little critters should.

Thank you to Wikipedia for the links – what did we do before Google??
PS
No need to comment about our love of alcohol, with the bottle and 6 pack door… 😆

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. 🙂

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Katniss, the feral cat

Katniss, the feral cat

I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers (that’s said in my best Southern belle accent). None of you are strangers, of course, you know more about me than most. One of my dear friends was concerned that I was revealing too much of my soul when I started being really honest on my blog but I think it is good for me and for any one person that may be helped by my revelation and insight.

I hoped today might be almost back to normal but Zhenny the crazy cat had one of her occasional pancreatic attacks with blood in her urine. They happen dramatically quickly so we rushed her to the vet this afternoon. Both the new veterinarian and the assistant were AMAZING. They listened to me (treat her like a wild raccoon and pump her full of injections), the assistant who had lived in third world countries held her like a baby so she did not have to be tranquilized and then rocked her like a baby. In 12 years I have never been able to rock her like a baby. If she does not recover quickly (she probably will) or has another attack soon then we have all made the sad decision to send her to meet Grandma Kathleen in heaven. One of my mum’s many saving graces was that she adored animals.

We are back at home now and I thought you might like to meet Katniss (above). She left for about a week but has been coming every day (and now twice or three times a day) for dinner. Our weather has switched from too hot to freezing so she needs a little extra food although she is a perfectly good hunter. As you know, I am trying to tame her a little so that I can neuter and release her. Then I will cut back on the feeding as there is plenty of prey just in my back yard…

Katniss is the daintiest little girl with a tail longer than her body. We previously called her the slut (kittens, many kittens) but she sits like a lovely little lady with her tiny toes tucked in. Sometimes I imagine she is wearing a black satin dress with some white pumps. It worried me when my husband named her because we only ever have three cats and it felt ominous. Right at this happy moment we have three indoor cats, one on massive pain relief, and a contented Katniss.

You have all been so wonderfully uplifting in your comments about my illness and husband being laid off that I thought you might like this hilarious tale. He has applied for endless jobs which will not be looked at until after the holiday period. One in particular was in Saudi Arabia. We are doubtful about this because their retirement age is 60 (how civilized?) and they rarely take anyone over 55 unless they have specific skills. He certainly has the skillset and some Arabic but there are plenty of contenders in this slump. Two nights ago he noticed a missed call from Saudi Arabia on his cell phone. He waited until it was morning and then called the number back, with some excitement. Can you believe it was a wrong number? What are the chances of getting a wrong number from the exact town in Saudi that you applied to? With our current luck he was phoning the local branch of Al Qaeda and we will get even more strange clicks and cut-offs on our phone line!

Thank you all so much.

Mrs. Stripe

2002

2002

Mrs. Stripe was the first cat we truly noticed in Cairo. We had left Britain with absolute certainty that we would never have pets again…freedom at last. Sigh. She was an exquisite cat, brown tabby with gorgeous titian highlights. We admired her beauty but left her to her own devices. After I had started volunteering at the cat shelter, I noticed that she was limping. I asked the Sudanese manager of the cat shelter to help my husband and I trap her so that we could take her to Dr. Farouk, the local veterinarian.

That sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, we trapped her in our bedroom and all three of us tried to catch her. It was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She must have been walking on the ceiling because how else did she spray liquid poo all over it, the walls, the carpet, the bed and the furniture? Time stopped, a la Matrix, but still we couldn’t catch her. We were all so traumatized that I called time out, while sobbing, and we all left the bedroom, leaving the door open for her to escape.

I was beside myself with grief, worried about her injury and certain that she would never visit us again. Why should I care when we were never going to have pets again…? The next day I caught my breath when I saw her coming through the hedge followed by two 6 week old kittens. I started crying because it was obvious that she was telling me that she couldn’t allow us to trap her because she had kittens to feed. So then we had Mrs. Stripe, Toffee and Treacle. Miraculously, her chase around the bedroom had increased her adrenaline so much that the injury had healed overnight.

If you would like to read more about Mrs. Stripe and our other street animals in Cairo please check out my Kindle book about our 2 years in Cairo during the 2nd Gulf War.
http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Cairo-This-memoir-travelogue-ebook/dp/B015JFY1F0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1448745950&sr=1-1&keywords=letters+from+cairo

We still have geriatric Mrs. Stripe who is almost 14 years old, her daughter Toffee and another weird one that we picked up along the way. This time we said absolutely no more pets until my husband just named the outside feral cat that has recently had kittens. I am trying to feed her up so I can neuter and release her. After some argument (he wanted to call her Tess – really?), she has been named Katniss which is much more appropriate to her feral and predatory nature. On a tangential note, Mrs. Stripe has bad muscle deterioration from her early gymnastic life and now has to take Gabapentin. We decided to use some of our stock – we have a small pharmacy at home – but that involved opening a 100 mg capsule and dividing into 10 for a cat dosage. I was flummoxed but looked in amazement as my husband started using a pen knife to divide it up like cocaine. Is he having a Breaking Bad experience or did we just watch too much of it?

2015

2015