Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘cat

Twenty Questions

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I’m not going to number them, so you’ll have to count if you want to find out if there really are twenty. It’s just that a question came to mind during my morning commute yesterday and I found myself mentally careening down a rabbit hole of not-necessarily-related questions that went on for so long –pretty much the rest of the way to work– I figured it deserved to become a blog post.

Now, if I could only remember what it was I was pondering so deeply in that westbound commute at almost zero-dark-thirty. Oh, that sentence triggered a memory of feeling really grateful to have been able to drive west in the morning and east in the afternoon during most of my working life. I’ve avoided fighting the daily glare of sun in my eyes while driving.

Speaking of being triggered, a song lyric during the morning commute got me to wonder, do people know who it is that taught them how to love? Or how come some humans can play instruments faster than my ear is able to discern? Have you ever heard Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper play Tall Fiddler? Wow. Seems pretty fast, until they suddenly go even faster.

How come I’ve never been able to get my left and my right hand to work together at breakneck speed to hit the correct notes at the correct time on the strings of my guitar? That’s just black magic to play that unrealistically fast and actually produce recognizable melodies with every note presented, if only for a micro-fraction of a second each.

When it appears like our dog is trying to bite the cat, is it possible to know which of the two was the instigator? Does Delilah suddenly start barking at something outside our house because of a sound she hears or some canine sixth sense that tells her there is an invisible thing out there that needs to be barked at?

Actually, I think it’s become a learned behavior that she is unconscious about. There was once a squirrel up in the big tree towering above her kennel outside. She barked up at it, logically. Unfortunately, now she barks up at that tree every time we put her in the kennel, regardless of any squirrel sightings. Does she associate being in the kennel with needing to bark up at the tree? Apparently so.

Are digital HD subchannels radio’s best-kept secret? Is it weird that one radio or television station is actually multiple stations?

Is there a general age break where the reference of something being bigger than a bread box no longer makes any sense? Maybe it has been replaced with, “Is it bigger than a video game console?” Of course, I have no idea if game consoles have a general size at this point, but I have seen pictures of people opening wrapped packages of the latest impossible-to-get hot item that have me thinking there might be.

Have you noticed how Cyndie’s photos have been more interesting than mine for the last few years? I am very lucky that she shares them for use on my blog.

Does it matter if I don’t offer answers to all the questions I am bringing up? Can you tell when my posts run a little long? Who’s counting words, anyway? It’s all about how long it takes to read, not how many words there are. You just skim the sentences like a speed reader after all, don’t you? What words catch your eye enough to slow you down and really read a full paragraph?

Without knowing any of the answers, it still just boils down to the question that started it all, do you know who taught you how to love?

I heard the question in a song.

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2021 at 7:00 am

Mouse House

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If you have ever heard anyone who owns a log home say their place is sealed tight against rodent intrusion, feel free to question their grip on reality. We could crawl around our foundation day and night, scale the walls to inspect every inch around the soffits, and climb to the peak of our stone chimney and still, I wouldn’t think we’d identified every teeny space of potential access.

We are well into the season of incoming mice and Pequenita is only doing her bare minimum to fatally “play” with the surprise toys. The other night it was hour after hour of romping around our bedroom floor, talking to her latest playmate while Cyndie and I feigned solid sleep in maximum avoidance mode. I was just sleepily aware enough in the morning to only step partway onto the cold, dead remains before catching myself and stopping.

Two nights ago, just after lights out in the bedroom, some busy rodent started making its presence known with repetitive scratching/chewing in the attic space above our ceiling.

Last night, as Cyndie was working on her laptop at the dining room table, something fell from one of the log beams in the ceiling by the front sunroom. It was a mouse.

From my position in the bathroom shower at the time, I heard muffled stomping and banging that instantly had me wondering what in the heck could be going on out there. Then, the sound of Cyndie saying something affectionate to Delilah. I assumed they were engaged in an energized activity to drain some dog energy before the end of the day.

Soon after, Cyndie pops in to announce, “I have a story for you.”

She grabbed a fly swatter and garbage bin that were right there and tried to capture the mouse. Delilah noticed what was going on and jumped up to help. It was Delilah who caught the mouse. Then, our canine carnivore wasted no time in consuming her prize before Cyndie had even a second to decide what to do about it.

I think that was the moment I heard Cyndie offering the dog a kind word.

After my shower, I came into the bedroom to find our cat contentedly curled up on the dog bed, clueless about being one-upped by the dog in the mouse control department.

Cyndie has contacted our pest control service again. “No, it’s not another woodchuck. Nope, not a nest of bees in the ground. Uh uh, not raccoons again. Not bats. Not this time, anyway. Now it’s just a plain old mouse problem.”

They won’t need directions to our house.

Is there such a thing as kevlar shrink wrap? If it came in a wood grain pattern, that would be cool. Just cover our whole house like the blue stuff they stretch over boats to winterize them.

You’d think the multiple prowling neighbor cats would do a better job of controlling the mouse population around here. Come to think of it, that could be increasing the incentive for mice to find new ways inside.

I’m sure pest control will be happy to invoice extensive time and effort to de-mouse our log house.

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Written by johnwhays

November 4, 2021 at 6:00 am

Claiming Time

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I suspect that our house cat, Pequenita, is the pet that gets the least air-time on Relative Something. As the lone feline around here, she seems to frequently be at odds with the general vibe happening at any given moment. Usually, that is because the dog tends to be the one setting the vibe.

Pequenita occasionally tolerates whatever it might be that Delilah is looking to achieve, but most often the cat is just trying to be wherever the dog isn’t.

When we arrived home from the lake on Monday, Pequenita was noticeably more vocal than usual. I think she was expressing displeasure with our having been gone. Something tells me Delilah was having a field day or days, taking advantage of our absence to mess with the cat more than she is allowed when we are around to interrupt.

There is one thing Pequenita does every day to offset the hours when she might not always be getting what she wants. She claims time with me the moment I climb into bed.

She wants to be scratched vigorously behind her ears, on her belly, under her chin, rolling the scruff on the back of her neck, across her forehead, and over her eyes. When I work her armpits, she stretches her front legs way out and flexes her feet. She also purrs warmly the entire time.

It’s a festival of shedding all the while.

Pequenita gets up and walks away, so she can turn around and come right back for more. She rubs against the edge of my laptop. She tries to stand on the keys. After another round of scratches, she walks away again. The more earnestly I want to write on my computer, the more repetitions she makes to walk away and come right back.

If only I could master the art of typing solely with my left hand in order to give Pequenita the scratches she wants with my other hand and still get some writing done.

Unfortunately, the time I wish to claim for writing before I go to sleep happens to be the exact same time Pequenita chooses to claim for me to put my hands all over her body.

Honestly, it’s not all that unfortunate. We are blessed to have her unique character enriching our lives. I’m lucky to have a pet who shows such deep appreciation for my attention.

The time she claims is not just for selfish reasons. She claims it for both of us.

I just need to remind myself that writing comes second to the art of fulfilling the desires of our cat.

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Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2021 at 6:00 am

Cyndie’s Helpers

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While I was outside clearing snow, Cyndie was inside doing some housekeeping. She reported that Delilah and Pequenita were both putting themselves front and center in whatever she was doing.

In the kitchen, no matter which way she turned, she needed to step around Delilah.

In the bedroom, Cyndie turned away for a brief moment before putting fresh pillowcases on pillows. Upon her return, Pequenita had already settled in place and was sound asleep on the pillowcases, holding the tv remote.

Although I didn’t have such friendly company helping me outside, I decided I was happy to be free of this kind of assistance while I worked, despite the obvious cute factor.

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Written by johnwhays

January 25, 2021 at 7:00 am

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Peeping Kitty

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Monday afternoon, leaning back in my favorite recliner, my eye sensed movement out on our deck. Was that a very large squirrel that just went past the glass door? Nope. Soon, a cute little kitten was peeping in at us with a look that strongly hinted at coming from one who preferred the indoors to the wintery temperatures this October has been serving up.

Cyndie stepped out on the deck to do a little grilling and soon showed up outside the door with that bundle of cute curled up in her hands.

It quickly turned into a rescue operation. Now we have a converted chick brooder tub housing the adorable visitor under temporary quarantine in the somewhat heated shop outbuilding.

According to Cyndie’s reports, the little bugger displayed a voracious appetite for foodstuffs offered. A post with photo was created for the online neighborhood group in search of a possible owner. Phone calls to immediately adjacent properties brought no positive identifications. It’s hard to picture this little one traveling over the large rural expanses beyond visible neighbors to reach our door, but we are guessing that is the situation.

Last night we received a reply from the wider online neighborhood saying, “Let me know if she needs a home,” so we have that solution awaiting the possibility nobody else shows up to report having lost her.

Meanwhile, although she says she is putting in a bold effort to not fall in love, I sense Cyndie is already past that point.

Pretty much saw it when she arrived at the deck door with the kitty curled up in her hands.

The resolution of this peeping kitty unexpectedly sheltering with us is unscripted. Feel free to place your bets on the eventual outcome.

I’ll provide follow-up details as the adventure unfolds.

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Written by johnwhays

October 28, 2020 at 6:00 am

Main Topics

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There are two primary topics dominating life around Wintervale lately: chickens and baking. Each having nothing to do with the other.

Last night it was all baking.

Super-sized apple cider oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and strawberry hand-pies custom ordered by the berry farm.

I contributed to the best of my ability. They both tasted delicious.

This morning, the chickens will get our main attention.

I suppose the dog and cat are feeling a little left out of things. Pequenita has been relentless at seeking attention whenever I venture near the bedroom –our bed being her preferred domain. Delilah will get some extra adventure later today when I take her exploring off-trails in our woods looking for evidence related to the raucous coyote howling we endured Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

I’m hoping that pack of predators are all well-fed now and won’t have any reason to hang around our property on the very day we plan to let our chickens get their first taste of free-ranging.

It all serves as a reminder we are living the country life.

I guess the two main topics could better be labeled, baking and pets.

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Written by johnwhays

October 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Last Cut

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I know this cat named Pequenita who is highly skilled at showing up for scratches at the precise time that I want to use both of my hands to type on my laptop computer. She seems to know that I can’t resist her demands for attention.

Today, we head to Edina for the weekend to participate in Friswold family activities surrounding a graveside memorial service for Fred on Saturday. Please keep Cyndie and her family in your hearts and beam your love when you think of them.

In preparation for being away from home for the weekend, I jumped on the lawn tractor as soon as I got home from work yesterday afternoon to tackle the project of cutting the grass shorter than normal for the late-season mowing session. The short cut left a lot of grass clippings behind that I am going to need to sweep up.

In addition to the excessive clippings, the early cold snap and noticeably shorter daylight hours brought on dew that had me cutting some wet grass before I was through. The amount of grass stuck to the bottom of the mower deck was epic. I disconnected the mower from the tractor and struggled mightily to lift the deck for cleaning. It weighed a ton!

The whole project was a little too much for the short time I had available, so the finishing touches will come later. I still may end up needing to cut some areas another time before winter, but I’m hoping most of the mowing is now done for the season.

I’m at that point of wanting to use up the last of the gas in the mower before parking that tractor for the winter.

When I was cutting down by the labyrinth, I had to work around a couple of rocks that had tumbled from one of my recent precarious balance installations.

It’s all good fun until you neglect to pick up the fallen rocks. Those two have returned to ground level and interfered with grass cutting in the vicinity. Far be it from me to stop and get off the tractor to move them. I just forged ahead, cutting around the obstacles to keep going uninterrupted.

During our work down at the labyrinth last week, I took a picture of the center boulders and the miscellaneous additions scattered around them.

It wasn’t getting much attention during our sessions of adding rocks to the path borders, but it is the center point destination of the journey inward, after all.

The future star of the labyrinth garden, that maple tree we transplanted to the middle, will someday, long after I’m gone, tower over the paths.

Maybe by that time, the shade it will provide can dissuade the grass from growing so fast beneath its branches.

I will be happy if we’ve already made the last cut of labyrinth grass for the season. We will be making tracks in snow down there again before too long.

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Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2020 at 6:00 am

Russian Technician

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I finally figured it out. Our cat has a gift like that Russian sleep clinic technician and now everything makes sense. I now understand her crazy obsession of pummeling us with kneading paws in the early morning darkness when we least desire her affectionate attention. Pequenita is the Russian sleep tech from Cyndie’s tales of being tested in a sleep lab years ago.

First, she was told to stay awake for ten minutes while wearing the cap of countless wired sensors. Cyndie describes looking out a window and around the room to pass the time. Looking at a magazine. How hard is it to stay awake for ten minutes? Then the grumpy countenanced Russian technician’s voice came over the speaker and told her to wake up.

“I’m not asleep.” she claims to have said.

But, she was. He saw her fall asleep in about 30 seconds. He made her try again. Multiple times over the 24-hour period of testing, they played that little game. She says she failed every time. What startled her was that she felt like she succeeded every time. She didn’t think she was falling asleep.

This discrepancy of perception worked both ways with her sleep cycle. The objective is to have the patient stay awake when it is time to be awake, and stay asleep when it is time to sleep.

In the morning, Cyndie describes her battle with the Russian technician’s voice over the intercom.

“You need to get up now because you are awake.” His words grabbed her attention.

“I’m not awake. I’m still sleeping.”

“No, you’re not. I can see your brain waves.”

This guy knows what sleeping brain waves and awake brain waves look like. It’s what he does. He could clearly see when her brain woke up.

I don’t think Pequenita is perceiving our brain waves, but I think she detects that same moment when our brains wake up, yet we think we are still sleeping. That is why her treading paws on our heads is so annoying. We are trying to remain asleep. She knows that we are not still sleeping.

I think it is our breathing that she detects. Even though we have no intention of waking up yet, there are moments in the sleep cycle when we transition out of deep sleep to what I would describe as semi-conscious. For me, it is often occurring when one of my arms has fallen incredibly numb and I need to switch positions. There is also the very obvious situation of a full bladder, which I am extremely grateful to be alerted to so I can remedy while maintaining dry sheets. Sometimes, it is a result of a vivid dream experience.

My first guess is that Pequenita hears the change in our breathing as our brains wake up. I expect our body movements are another easy clue.

When she steps on our heads in the early morning hours before we want to wake up, I now think of her as our own little ornery Russian sleep technician letting us know our brains are no longer asleep.

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Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2020 at 6:00 am

Pet Fatigue

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Getting up at zero-dark-thirty, driving an hour to work and another hour home upon completing my hours of day-job duties leaves me a little drained for the full-time dog and cat duty that I’m faced with while Cyndie is away. When I walk in the door, Delilah is all fired up to get her pre-dinner jaunt around the property and guard the barn while I check on the chickens in their coop. At that moment, I’d prefer to get off my feet and close my eyes for a spell.

Luckily, the fresh air rejuvenates me and we have a good outing, but back in the house after that excursion and I am even more exhausted than I was when I arrived home the first time.

Cyndie’s been gone almost a week, with a second week left to go before she is scheduled to return, and I’ve been experiencing a contrasting mix of reactions to my return to solo (sort of) living. Having the whole bed to myself is a bit of a luxury that I am enjoying but it comes at the expense of missing another warm body to ward off the chill of cold toes. Stretching out at every possible angle and not feeling like I am bothering anyone is sumptuous, though, I just have to say.

I hate to admit that only half-way through this current assignment of tending to the animals had me wondering yesterday if there might be someone young and adventurous who would love to have a dog like Delilah live with them.

After Delilah repeatedly bothered me for attention the other night, I finally just stopped what I was doing and sat down on the kitchen floor to interact at her level. In no time, I had drooped to completely laying on the floor and she settled on one of her favorite spots under the table.

The thing is, when I get up, she does too. No rest for the weary.

I breathe a little sigh of relief after securing her in the crate that is her den for the night, but the respite is short-lived.

Pequenita recognizes the instant the dog is confined to quarters and happily steps up for her dose of undivided attention. If I am upright, she reaches up and sinks her claws into my pantlegs and if I am reclined, she begins delivering the headbutts.

She is not subtle about asking for a little of her own undivided attention.

I feel like the mother of infants who never gets a break from constantly having a child clinging to them. At least children eventually grow out of that phase.

I dare say, if I end up living alone someday, I have a strong suspicion I would end up choosing to do so without pets, much as I love the ones we have acquired in our years here.

This becomes significantly more obvious to me when Cyndie is away for extended amounts of time. Thinking back, the year she lived in Boston while I stayed home in Eden Prairie, I don’t remember needing to care for any pets. I don’t think I realized how easy I had it at the time.

Although, I wonder what I would end up writing if I didn’t have dog/cat/chicken tales to blather on about anymore.

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Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

Hays Siblings

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Yesterday we made the surprisingly easy drive up to my sister, Mary’s house for a post-holiday gathering of the Hays siblings. North Branch wasn’t as far away as I expected. These are my peeps. I always find it refreshing to discover how special it feels to be with my brothers and sisters again. No one else in the world can match the connection we share with the people we lived with during our formative years.

Thank you David, Mary, Judy, and Elliott for all the years!

You are the best.

Here’s to a bigger reunion of our relations this summer. We’ve got a date!

Somehow, the Vikings pulled out a victory while we were half-watching. Cyndie and I tried to listen to the end of it on the drive home over a radio signal that was only barely discernible.

There was no question that Pequenita was happy to have me home again. She made haste to claim one of her favorite perches when I settled down to see who was getting recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press on the Golden Globe Awards show.

She is so not a Hays sibling.

We did not have a cat when I was growing up. Judy or Elliott can correct me if there was a barn cat on the farm before I came along.

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Written by johnwhays

January 6, 2020 at 7:00 am