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i saw you this morning

maura @ 12:47 pm

This was a hard week, in large part because yesterday we had to say goodbye to one of our sweet 13.5 year old cats. Gummy had been diagnosed with diabetes last summer, just one small ingredient in the general garbagefire stew that was 2020. We’d gamely learned how to do the twice-daily insulin injections and for a while he seemed fine. The needles are small enough that he didn’t mind the shots much, and we fell into a rhythm with it all, even finding a cat sitter with injection experience for the times we had to travel. But a few weeks ago he started declining, and by yesterday we knew it was time. The vet was very considerate and compassionate, but wow it’s still hard.

Not a lap cat but acting like a laptop

Gummy was always the more prickly and grumpy of our two littermate cats, and admittedly later in life he was sort of an asshole. He didn’t really like anyone other than my spouse and me, though he’d kind of grudgingly accept pets from the kid. But even the kid got on his nerves recently, apparently, since he peed on the kid’s bed once over the summer. (At 11pm on a weeknight, sigh.)

But Gummy was such a sweetie to us. He didn’t like to sit on laps or be held, but he was very into chin scritches and pets, preferring us to sit on the floor next to him while he walked around us. He’d come sit next to me on the floor while I meditated, and if you were sitting in a chair or on the sofa he’d reach up and touch you with a gentle paw if he wanted you to come down to the floor to give him pets. He was kind of a dog cat — he always ran to the door when I came home from work, just to check in and say hi. He also liked climbing up onto places he shouldn’t be (see my desk above), and drinking water sneakily from our water glasses (eww).

It’s a weird vibe now, with just one cat. Gummy and Caramel weren’t really close later in life, as they got older they mostly stayed away from each other with only the occasional grooming or tussling. But it’s sad to suddenly only have one cat instead of two. RIP Gummy, our kind of a jerk but also so sweet and loyal kittie, I miss you.

les tags:

shout to the top

maura @ 6:15 pm

One thing that I’ll definitely miss about sabbatical is hanging out with our cats. They turned 9 this past spring, and being a cat owner continues to surprise me. Which maybe it shouldn’t, because we did have cats when I was a kid, though we didn’t get our first cats until I was about 12. They were outdoor cats, ostensibly because a few family members were allergic (though I should note that those same family members now have both cats and dogs that live inside, hmmm… [thinking emoji]).

We started with three cats, one each for me and my sibs. Two of them came with us when we moved across several states a little over a year later (RIP Freckles, my brother’s cat accidentally killed by a car on a snowy day). Things got a little more hectic when I was in high school — my parents’ were heading for divorce by that point and when my sibs “found” a few kittens in the small stand of trees that separated our yard from the yard of the house in the development behind ours, we were allowed to keep them. And two of them got pregnant before we could get them fixed, and at one point we had maybe 13 cats total? The moms + kittens lived on the screened porch until they were old enough to give away, and I think things stabilized after that at about 6 cats. And then I went away to college.

Anyway, so outdoor cats are a little different than indoor cats. No cat hair on all of your stuff, for one thing. Also if they had hairballs I guess we never saw them. On the minus side, sometimes you couldn’t find them when you wanted a snuggle. And also they would bring us presents from their killing escapades, mostly mice, though one cat used to eat grasshoppers and barf them up on the back steps, good times. I wonder now about the weather — if it was a really cold winter’s day we were allowed to bring them into the laundry room, which was next to the garage, but mostly they seemed okay outside.

Our two current cats are spoiled indoor cats, like many city kitties. They are snuggly and lovely though I do feel like things are happening as they age that I was not prepared for. Hair-related issues for one: they shed more and more and seem to produce more hairballs, most especially when we’re away (which I guess is a stress-grooming thing? which makes me sad). Gummy loves to be brushed so I try to brush him once every week or two, but Caramel can’t stand being brushed. We got a couple of decent lint brushes that make it easier to deal with hair on clothes and furniture, but some shirts just seem to be like velcro for cat hair, sigh.

They are funny with their own personalities, which I think I was less aware of with outdoor cats. They’re brothers but don’t really hang out much, though there is the occasional chase and sort-of-mock fight. Caramel likes to sit on our laps and knead, he also follows you around meowing if he wants something (usually food), occasionally throws himself down on the floor belly-up for pets, and sometimes he wants to sleep right next to my head. Gummy is more aloof, he wants pets but won’t sit on your lap, instead preferring that you sit on the floor and scratch his chin and ears while he walks around you. Sometimes he will sit next to us on the sofa or bed, he also regularly meets us at the door when we come home from being out, sort of like a dog. Caramel’s purr is quiet, and Gummy’s is very loud. Caramel’s naughtiness is that he likes to eat plastic/paper (esp. window envelopes), ribbons, and plastic bags. Gummy is a fan of lightly biting things, like my laptop cord which has several tiny teeth indentations.

Really they are quite personable, which is good when we’re here but not so much when we’re gone. We originally got two rather than one so that the solo cat wouldn’t be lonely, but since at least one of us tends to be home much of them time I think they get sort of stressed out when we’re not here. I suppose we could get more cats to help these guys not be so sad when we go, but that would push us into the realm of too many litterboxes for a 2BR apartment, I think. [cat with heart eyes emoji]

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will it nom?

maura @ 8:06 pm

For a long time now I’ve been thinking that we should create a webseries modeled after the Will It Blend? videos, which test the strength of a blender by putting non-standard items into it: a cellphone, a football, Justin Beiber CDs, and other weird stuff. Will It Nom? would star our cats, of course, who seem to think that everything new that comes into the house needs to be bitten or chewed.

One of them is a tentative nommer, he sort of sidles up to things and gives them a little test nibble, just to see. (See what? Who knows!) His preferred nommables are electrical cords. The other, dumber one has a long list of things he’ll nom (and actually ingest, unless we catch him in time): ribbons, tape, plastic bags, and he absolutely adores window envelopes. Seriously, when we open the mail he comes running as soon as he hears the crinkly sound of the plastic. What a nut!

We had cats when I was growing up but they mostly lived outside, and I don’t know what the heck they did or ate or chewed on, really. But these cats are sort of insane. The most recent was a sewing needle: I was working on my phone cozy and needed to rethread the needle, so I stuck it into the mattress right next to me. And faster than lightning the dumb cat came over and *bit* the needle clean in half!

Luckily it was only a small piece of needle, and it was the eye end not the point end. You’ll be happy to hear that the cat seems to have suffered no ill effects, and indeed it “passed” this morning. The vet gave him a shot of antibiotics just to be sure. But seriously, what sane animal noms metal? That cat is a whacked out poo brain. Good thing he’s so soft and cuddly or he’d be out the door.

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spring broken

maura @ 11:17 am

Spring Break is late ’round these parts — my university follows the public school schedule and while the alignment is super-convenient it does mean that the semester’s usually at least 2/3 gone by the time the break happens, and everyone’s feeling a little frayed. This year wasn’t as late or frayed as last year, but we were all looking forward to a couple of days away. We’d planned to visit my family in Delaware and also spend a couple of days in Baltimore ogling the octopus and chambered nautilus at the aquarium and swimming in the hotel pool, still a huge draw for Gus.

But it was not to be. Late last week the cat got sick (not that one, the other one), and one of the awesome side effects was that he started peeing all over the house. Yay! We took him to the vet and they fixed him up, but they left us with liquid meds to be given twice/day and the warning that it might take a few days for the cat to get completely back to normal.

So Jonathan stayed home with the cats, and I went to Delaware with Gus, and we canceled the trip to Baltimore. I definitely got the better end of the deal — while it’s not exactly restful hanging out with my 5 nieces and nephews, we hadn’t visited since xmas and it was lovely to see everyone. And I didn’t even have to mop the floor once! While Gus was disappointed to miss seeing his favorite marine invertebrates, we’re already scheming plans for a quick trip to Baltimore sometime in the not-too-distant future.

By the time I got back on Tuesday evening I hadn’t really shed the frayed feeling I’d left with. But luckily one part of our original plan still held: for Gus to spend the rest of the week in Delaware with my family, and for my mom to drive him back on Friday. I could have caught up on all kinds of things on Wednesday, but instead I took a vacation day. We went to a new place in our neighborhood for lunch and ate fresh donuts. Then we walked through the Botanic Gardens, where the cherry trees are almost there, lilacs are starting, and no bluebells yet (phew!).

Then on Wednesday night we went to a show! Like young’uns! The Chickfactor 20th anniversary show. It was a 3 night fiesta but even with Gus out of town I knew I could only handle one late night in the middle of the week. We picked night #2, which with the Legendary Jim Ruiz Group and Pipas was the best venn diagram of my and Jonathan’s favorite music of the shows. I ended up wishing I could mix-n-match a bit: I’d take Small Factory from night 1, Honey Bunch from night 3, and while we’re at it, Lilys from the Arlington shows earlier in the week.

The show was amazing, with the Ledge and Pipas as charming and incredible as ever. I’m sure every single person on the Indiepop List has written a better review than I can write, so you should go there to read them. There were lots of folks there from out of town (and from in town) who I hadn’t seen in somewhere around 10 years, perhaps a bit more or less, though I was sad to miss a couple of folks who only went to nights 1 or 3 (I’m looking at you: Kat, Maura, and Kardyhm). There was this moment soon after the Ledge started playing when I looked around to find myself standing next to Jen, Ed, Keith, and Jonathan, and it was the purest essence of nostalgia: suddenly 1996 all over again. I still haven’t quite been able to process those emotions, but I have found myself with the Ledge on repeat in my brain since then, so there you go.

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beck beck beck and call

maura @ 9:11 pm

Well, I finished the books. All 3 of them. And as a consequence I have work to do tonight. So you get to enjoy a picture of one of our cats trying to convince us that he is not too big to sit in a small box, and I get to come back tomorrow and write a real post. Deal?


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kelly watch the stars by air

maura @ 11:29 pm

A long time ago in a borough far away (well, maybe just across the bridge), before we were parents, we used to have gaming nights with friends. There was a period of time when we played Magic the Gathering with a couple of pals who would come to our house one night a week. We’d all order food + have a few beers + play a little Magic. We’d listen to music, too, and it was right after the Air album “Moon Safari” came out, the first record I bought of theirs. Good times.

This morning we drove to sleepaway camp to pick up Gus. He spent the first few hours at home obsessively dividing up Jonathan’s old Magic cards into their respective colors, reading each one individually and telling us about all that he learned playing Magic at camp. We didn’t know we were sending him to geek camp! It took 2 hrs to get lunch into him, one bite at a time between the organizing.

He was away at camp for a week, first time ever. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for us all, I think. We were away the week before last with only 2 days at home before camp. And one of the cats, who’s been sick off and on for a while, kicked it up a notch last weekend. It seemed touch and go for a while–can’t really think of a worse pet scenario than the cat dying the first time the kid goes to camp–but luckily the kitty has perked up since he’s been on the meds we got at the vet.

Since Gus has been home it’s been an alternating love + loss fest. He loves us so much! and missed us so much! he’s told us over and over again, but he loved camp so much! too, and misses it terribly! So difficult, this growing up business.

Today I spent most of my time doing ALL the laundry, because kids bring lots of real dirt (TM) back with them to the city from sleepaway camp. When we got there this morning they made a big announcement that they’d found lice on some campers + counselors (which I’d totally planned to check him for anyway), which was just another reason for me to enact LaundryFest2011. Actually it was really sweet: the camp seemed so apologetic about the lice, as if we don’t get a note from school about lice in Gus’s class pretty much every year. And we have that crazy German lice comb so we’re ready to pick the nits.

So far so good: no one seems to have lice, everything’s clean, and the cats and child are sleeping happily. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep, too.

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you turn the music up

maura @ 11:10 pm

This past Monday was pretty crappy. I was still sick, the cat barfed, and I didn’t get much work done on the article or conference presentation I’m working on. Can someone please tell me why, exactly, our weird cat likes to eat the plastic from window envelopes? (Also I’m still sick — who can fix that for me?)

But something very good happened, too: the new Tracey Thorn CD, Love and Its Opposite, came in the mail. Yay! You may remember a few months ago when I complained that I couldn’t possibly be expected to wait til it was released. And then suddenly here it is, in a lovely package from Merge Records with a poster (for my office wall!) and a sticker (for my bike! or computer, haven’t decided yet).

I imposed a media blackout on myself and didn’t read the review in the New Yorker or anywhere else until after I’d had a chance to listen to the record all the way through a couple of times. It’s different than the last record, not techno-y at all, which I initially missed a bit (even though when you look at the whole of her/EBTG’s career the dancey stuff is not in the majority by any means). On this records there’s lots of piano, the songs are mostly quiet, and some are just achingly sad and gorgeous. But there’s some rolicking good times in there too, including the most enjoyable song about menopause *I’ve* ever heard (don’t know about you, though).

Just like with the last record there won’t be a tour, and I’m surprisingly un-unhappy about that. I’ve written before on my mixed feelings about live music these days: I miss it, but more in a nostalgic way than a run-right-out-and-go-to-a-show way. So in some ways it’s easier when there’s *not* a tour, then I don’t need to feel guilty or lame about not going. I feel g + l enough about missing The Primitives at the Bell House earlier this month, and of course I will also be missing Unrest at same in July.

But all’s not lost: from what I’ve read there will be videos of Tracey Thorn performing these new songs from time to time. Scroll down on her website to see the first one: the new single. I do miss the strings from the recorded version, but it’s lovely all the same.

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updates, in list form

maura @ 5:32 pm

1. We did manage to make it to the BBG today. What’s more fun than traipsing through the botanic gardens with a sullen, complaining 8 yr old? Same plus nearly every other resident of our fine city. I have rarely seen the gardens so crowded on a non-event day. We actually had to cut the trip short because the crowds were getting to all of us.

2. Here’s the flower report:
Magnolias: mostly finished
Tulips: full bloom
Grape hyacinths: full bloom, like a bluish-purple carpet
Lilacs: mostly not open, but a few bushes have started, eep!
Cherries: a mixed bag, some trees are full on, and some just have buds. Seems like the trees with whitish blossoms open earliest:


It’s like a crazy nature fast forward over there, even the azalea bushes have a couple of blossoms opening. Looks like Gus will have to endure a few more awful weekends of floral viewing. We’ll be consulting the cherry blossom status map to plan our viewing strategy.

3. We did have ice cream bars, phew. And as you can see, even the non-treat time wasn’t all bad:


Nothing like a muddy stream to really cheer a kid up after being dragged to see boring old flowers with his boring old parents.

4. Have you seen my to-do list? It’s gone missing, which has completely thrown me for a loop because I need to update it for this week and I usually start with the old list when I’m making a new one. I’ve got a couple of piles of work- and research-related stuff on my desk and shelves, and it’s not in any of them. I *just* had it yesterday, and I can’t for the life of me imagine what’s happened to it.

Maybe the cats stole it. I’ve been talking trash about shaving them lately because with the warm weather they are shedding like mad. This could be their devilish revenge: wig out the control freak by stealing her list! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

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all this pushing and shoving

maura @ 10:46 pm

WARNING: this post is about cats. Even though the internet is made of cats*, I don’t spend a lot of time writing about ours. But tonight that’s all going to change, so if cats aren’t yr bag you might want to come back next time. I promise never to talk about cats for 2 posts in a row, scout’s honor.

* Link not entirely safe for work, just so’s you know.

We have had a bit of cat drama around here recently. Kind of an escalation, if you will, of bad behavior.

So, a little while back we started to have some issues with pooping outside the box. And the thing about that is that it’s not at all like thinking outside the box. It’s much much MUCH smellier and (potentially) more inconvenient.

At first it was just the one cat, and it was happening in the bathtub. So we started filling the tub with a few inches of water. There was one hilarious incident with a jump and a surprised “meow!” and then it stopped for a while. And then it started again, except on the floor. And then the other, stupider cat was like, “hey, this is fun for me, too!”

I looked on the internets, where all the crazy cat people live. Advice is, as you may imagine, plentiful, though never exactly what you want to hear. Why no, we are actually NOT going to have 3 litterboxes for 2 (smallish) cats in our 2 bedroom apartment, why would you think that?

Finally this week we took the main offender to the vet. (And his poop, too, because what’s more fun than collecting cat poop in a container in the freezer?) She doesn’t know what’s wrong but gave us some antibiotics to try. Wrestling the meds into the cat is taking us back: it’s just about as much fun as it was to try to get Gus to take antibiotics when he was a toddler. We finally resorted to vanilla ice cream for Gus, even for breakfast, but not sure what this cat would like since he’s not a fan of canned food.

The weirdest thing is this: the other cat has been totally, completely FREAKED OUT since the pooper came back from the vet. It must be the smell of the antibiotics, but I’ve never seen anything like it. He’ll walk over to the pooper, take a sniff, then hiss mightily and run away to hide! It’s a very weird feline showdown thing. The pooper is unfazed, and in some ways seems to be enjoying the freedom — the other cat is usually dominant when it comes to food and preferred spots for hanging out.

Hopefully the antibiotics will fix everything right up, because I have to admit that this is getting a little old. I like the cats, really I do, but I am tired of the shenanigans!

(That’s my instant make-Gus-giggle statement these days: he can’t get enough of my old-lady complaints about being tired of the shenanigans.)

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insistent and furry

maura @ 11:03 pm

The cats seem to have missed us while we were away. Dreadfully, achingly, pathetically missed us, if their behavior the past few days is any indication. The needy one can’t go an hour without sitting next to one of our chairs and mewing pitifully to be picked up, or flinging himself down on the floor in front of us as we try and walk through the apartment, to lure us into petting his soft underbelly. Even the stoic one is following us around and Will Not Stand for closed doors. And they’ve woken us up before dawn the past 2 days with meowing and sitting on us + purring (needy) and jumping onto the bedside table to sniff my head (stoic).

Gus, too, has not been a great sleeper since we returned. Sometimes he suddenly decides that something he used to find hilarious is actually quite scary, which seems to have happened on Sunday night with the awesome (and very cute, really!) game Plants vs Zombies, which Jonathan just got for the iphone. Honestly it’s not creepy at all, but for some reason it struck a nerve with the kid. He was up at every miniscule creaking floorboard and clanging radiator pipe on Sunday night, and we were up, too.

I’m tired. I think I need a sleep vacation.

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