Six Years Now

Every Thanksgiving I thank my lucky stars.  It’s been six years, over the Thanksgiving weekend, that Bugsy gamboled into my life and changed it forever.

thanksgiving 001-cropBugs looks back.

Five years ago I started this blog. (It only took me one year to start.)

thanksgiving 002-cropBarney wonders what was the hold-up?

Four years ago I noticed that Thanksgiving tends to be a time of remembrance for loss, as well as for gain.

thanksgiving 004-cropNever mind that, where’s my treat?

Three years ago I noticed that Thanksgiving tends to be a time of thanksgiving. I like what I wrote back then:  Bugsy “makes me feel love wash through me like I was transparent.”  Still true, if not more so.

Two years ago I failed to notice the anniversary altogether. The bar exam must have stunned all sense out of me.

Last year’s post I wrote amidst snow and the boys fighting.

thanksgiving 006Boys not fighting.

And this year, six years since Bugsy’s arrival, I am starting to put my injured foot down and to wean myself off the crutches. Remember me sleeping with a box over my uncast broken foot, scared to death that Bugs would jump on it? Recently I put the box away, feeling confident enough without it.

This morning Bugs was pissy that I hadn’t yet got around to making his breakfast – by 5:30 a.m. He jumped on my injured foot.

I rejoice to report that I was fine. Scared and freaked out – but fine.

Things are looking up.


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Necessity is (a) Mother . . .

. . . of a challenge these days.  This is not all a bad thing.

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Thanks to the surgery, this is how I’m sleeping these nights. With my bruised and battered foot under a box. Necessity demanded that I invent this solution. My now-screwed-together foot is just wrapped, not in a cast. My blood ran cold picturing what would happen if Bugs, in one of his nocturnal frenzies, leaped onto my uncasted foot. Hence the box.

Good thing, too. Last night Bugs, in one of his nocturnal frenzies, leaped onto, but for the box, what would have been my foot. Thank you, Necessity.

Thanks to Bugs’ recent escape, Necessity further impressed on my landlord that another layer of doors should be interposed between Bugs and the great outdoors. I can’t show you the new Catio in all its glory, because my arms and back can only take the bare necessities of pegging around on crutches, and this does not include fighting my way out the front door and down two steps unless absolutely essential.

So here is what the new Catio looks like from the inside.

catio1 001-cropBugs ponders the extra barrier.

catio1 002-cropBarney wonders what all the fuss is about.

catio-barnes 001Decides it’s really not all that interesting.

catio-bugs 001Bugs follows suit.

In other wildlife news apart from Mr. Packrat’s recent visit, one night rains caused this:

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Probably a Fowler’s toad, like last time.

And this is not news, but I am still so proud of this —

milkweed2 001My wonderful swamp milkweed plant.

It was like Grand Central Station this summer. I could not believe the numbers of fauna this little flora supported. This is a native species that has been decimated by habitat loss. I really understood the seriousness of the situation, when I noted with amazement the swarms of insects and pollinators who materialized on the property to enjoy these fragrantly generous blossoms.

Including stressed and threatened Monarch butterflies. This is a Monarch caterpillar.

milkweed 001Loss of the milkweed plant is specifically identified as one of the principal threats to these amazing creatures.  At one point I had four or five Monarch caterpillars on the plant. They totally devoured every scrap of leaf and bud. And welcome to it.

But as I said, this is no longer news. It is now cold enough for this:

catio-mashup 001Cat Mash-up.

Except when Bugsy does this.

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More Excitement

Last night I was trying to get some rest when suddenly it sounded like the house was being torn apart by a squeaky toy.

This guy.


R.B. Forbes, U.S. Dept. Agriculture

Turns out Bugs had driven Mr. Packrat under the recliner, where I caught sight of his little face, all big ears and button eyes. As I am still helpless, I called the landlord and he rushed over with his wife and two boys. Excitement all around. We threw Bugs in the carrier and Barney in the box-room and we hustled Mr. Packrat out the front door in short order.

Wikipedia says packrats like shiny objects and will “trade up” to get these. This accounts for the joke that a man found his dime replaced by two nickels.

Considering that Mr. Packrat traces his ancestry back to the late Cenozoic, he was probably entitled to more respect than we showed him.


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Fall Guy

Not “fall” as in the season. As in hitting the concrete.

Bugs continues to spray, every morning once or twice. I have given up on the homeopathic approach. Last time I tested him, his urine was still positive for white-blood cells.

With that in mind, two Saturdays ago I drove up to the house to find one of the neighborhood kitties on the property. On the theory that Bugs might be spraying at least partly for territorial reasons, I jumped out of the car to chase the kitty off – forgetting I was shod in clogs that were a smidge too big. I had padded these out with thick socks in hopes that tactic would make them usable. It did, mostly. But not when jumping out of the car to chase kitties.

The clogs slipped sideways and the next thing I knew I was lying on the concrete, in total shock and disbelief. And then, as I lay there writhing in pain, trespass-kitty came over and started rubbing on me.

Sure scared her off.

About the only good thing that can be said at this point is, and I know it could be a lot worse but I’m simply not interested in how much worse, thank heaven for ten years’ martial arts training. I broke my fall in perfect form, hands wrists elbows clavicles knees and hips all completely intact and without even a scrape.

The same cannot be said for my left foot. Apparently the clogs tore a fracture in the key bone holding my arch together. “Yes,” the orthopod said in deep-Arkansan, “you have a Liz Franks fracture.”

I wondered who Liz Franks was and how well, if at all, she recovered.

“Liz” turned out to be Joseph Lisfranc, a field general in Napoleon’s army. He wrote about this injury leading to an amputation, where a man had fallen off his horse and been dragged with his foot in the stirrup.

That’s one more good thing to be said. I have every expectation that if I do need surgery, as the orthopod thought and the surgeon may or may not confirm shortly, the procedure will not need to end up in an amputation.

(My riding days are over for this fall.  I will need to get back up on that horse in the spring.  I hope I can stop myself perseverating, then, about being dragged by my foot in the stirrup.)

Here’s what the injury looks like on some other poor soul (hopefully mine is not this bad). The arrow points to three fracture-dislocations of metatarsal bones toward the toes, and the oval points to fracture-dislocation of the bones at the other end, at the arch.


film by James Heilman, M.D.

Another good thing, and that would be putting things mildly, is my neighbor. She is simply saintly, helping me with everything because I am on crutches and can’t hardly do a blessed thing.

But, not so good – one nanosecond of inattention on her part and Bugs ran out the door. Chasing trespass-kitty himself, this time.

He has pulled the escape-caper before, the first time here and here and here and here
and again here, while I was trying to acclimatize him to a harness, and more about that incident here.

This time, though, was infinitely worse. This time I was on crutches and could do absolutely not one single damn useful thing.

Here is the picture I put on his “Wanted” poster, which my saintly neighbor, by now in regretful anguish, put up around the neighborhood. And then, each time I would catch sight of this poster, I would burst into tears.

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I called my cat-sitter saint to come help. She did. No Bugs.

As the day wore on, I called my other close friend to come help, as neighborhood kids and other friends searched and searched for Bugs and there was still no sign of him. As night fell, this friend suggested I shut Barney up in the box room and then leave the front door open all night, so Bugs could simply dash in if he was of the mind.

All night long I sat next to the door, lights out so bugs of the insect variety wouldn’t eat me alive. Each half-hour I called Bugs and shook his treat-bottle and whistled as I do each time I feed the cats. Each time this would rouse Barney and he would start mewing and clawing at the door that was shutting him in. No Bugs.

As dawn broke, I figured I had better try one last time to call Bugs, before the motorcycles and kids and dogs and lawn mowers and construction-projects geared up again. I stumped around the property, calling and calling and shaking the treat jar and whistling. No Bugs.

Trespass-kitty’s dad did allow, though, as how he might have heard Bugs mewing. He thought maybe Bugs was up on a roof. He said he’d get around to looking later.

My friend Kim, though – who was on the phone with me constantly throughout this ordeal – lit a fire under me. “Later” is not acceptable! Get him now! He could move! Kim suggested I ask the kids. She said they generally know what’s going on long before the adults do.

And so my saintly neighbor and I went back over to trespass-kitty’s house. And sure enough, one of the kids said he knew where Bugs was. Not on a roof. Under the cabin. And there he was.

Well, what we could see of him, that is. He had wedged himself up under the cabin struts and no way was he coming out, not in a month of Sundays.

I sat on the ground and offered stinky fish and begged and pleaded. He actually retreated away from me.  I could not help musing on the reality that Bugs would have heard me calling perfectly well all through the night.  He wasn’t 150 feet away.  I tried not to take this personally.

Finally trespass-kitty’s dad, an extremely brave man, crawled under the cabin, spoke gently to Bugs, and pushed him toward us til we could grab him by the scruff and dump him into the carrier.

How this man could bring himself to do something like that is beyond me. Do you know we have brown recluse spiders in Arkansas? Do you know what brown recluse spiders can do to a person? The “recluse” part of the name is because they like to be reclusive. Like, for example, under cabins. Read about the brown recluse here.

I know of a baby who died from a brown recluse bite.

How do men do this kind of thing? Good thing we have them around, that’s all I can say. Not even for Bugs could I do such a thing. I wouldn’t even think of doing it. This man just went ahead and did it.

Here is the offender later that morning, after he had got done eating and peeing (in the box) and re-inspecting the in-house territory. The tail is Barney, on his way from here to there.

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And here is Barney. When I finally let him out of the box room that morning, he hugged and kissed me like there was no tomorrow. What a guy.  (You can just about see the top of a crutch, to the right.)

fall-concrete 005-crop

And now I am going to pay for an enclosure to add to the front of the house. That 26-hour period was one of the worst times of my life. It must never be allowed to happen again.

Now I’ve got Bugs back, I’m going to try treating his urinary thing with corn silk supplements.  I’m glad to be vexed by this problem.

At least I still have him!


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One in a Million . . .

. . . reasons I love cats is that they know what works for them. They accept no substitutes. They choose what works for them, over that which doesn’t, with a calm but insistent devotion.

Finding the right space for one’s self, as my cats remind me, makes even the most harrowing journey worth it.

birds-boys 002-crop

Sometimes (rarely) my cats end up in the same space.

A colleague blogs about the Feldenkrais Method®, the movement work we both practice. Recently she quoted the founder on the subject of our all-too-human willingness to sell ourselves out under pressure from the herd. Feldenkrais reportedly said (in English, one of six languages he spoke): “Would we know to be in Siberia and go to Cairo for warmth? We would have there a psychiatrist teaching us to adapt ourselves to Siberian cold and stay there. But millions and billions of birds go half the earth around to go to the places they like.”

To quote my favorite superhero:

I yam what I yam.


–Popeye the Sailor Man 

Art by Bud Sagendorf, fair use I hope

It’s August 7th, the third anniversary of the last day of Fang’s life. I’d like to remember him that way, instead of on the day of his death.  If you didn’t know Fang, please honor him by clicking on the widget with his picture in the right margin.

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Fang and Bugs then.

birds-fang 001

Fang now.


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Guardedly Optimistic

Around two weeks ago I became concerned. Or, rather, more concerned than I already was. Bugs went from spraying once or twice every three weeks or so, to spraying every day and sometimes several times a day.

horses2 003-crop

Barney says, “What’s up with that, bro?”

horses2 005-crop

Bugsy says, “One day, grasshopper, all may be revealed.”

Back in April, the homeopathic vet treated Bugs’s urinary thing by giving him a remedy that was supposed to support his overall constitution. I believe the vet’s theory was that when Bugs’s whole being got righted, the urinary symptoms would no longer be required and they would cease. But when I told the vet about this recent spray-fest, he agreed it was time to treat the spraying directly. He prescribed a new remedy, I administered it, and last Thursday I tested Bugs’s urine again for white blood cells.

For the first time in this three-month period, this test showed improvement.

Can I hear a hallelujah.

horses2 008-crop

Barney is relieved.

The vet cautions that we need to see improvement over time and not just in the short term. But I am reassured. Since treating with this vet, I have discovered some stubborn belief-sets I hold that doubt the theory behind homeopathy. But Bugs’s improvement now, instantly appearing after the new remedy, seems so clearly connected that I’m ready to call it causation and not coincidence. But really – whatever. I am just so happy that Bugs is better.

He’s still spraying, mind you, around every three days or so now. But with that I can deal. All I need is just a little more than mere hope or faith that Bugs is, or will be soon, feeling better. And now we have objective evidence that he might, and I am so happy.

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Bugs being winsome.

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Barney can relax now. Another, in his series of interesting sleeping-positions.

horses1 001

Just to show that I really did come round the kitchen corner and find him like this. Not in the middle of moving. Sleeping. Not moving.

In other happy news, here is Miss Minuet a/k/a Minnie. It is blisteringly hot now, in Arkansas, hence the sweat.

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Is she not a beauty? Minnie is one of the horses I am doing FELDENKRAIS® with.

Here is excellent old Riley, another horse plus scenic Arkansas Ozarks view.

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Riley is a patient angel for letting me also ride him. I don’t know how to ride. Riley, plus human trainer, are teaching me what to do. I feel myself to be a slow learner.

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Here is a representative sampling of the thirteen cats who share Minnie’s and Riley’s human’s home. So many cats because this is in the country and, alas, this is what happens when you live in the country. Humans – using the term loosely – dump their unwanted animals in the country and real humans, the ones with a heart like the horses’ human, take them in and care for them.

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What happens when I do FELDENKRAIS with the horses feels mysterious and miraculous. First, I forget myself. I simply abide with these magical beings. They take in what I offer with my hands. They seem to like it.

Today I was showing the trainer how amazing it is that I can suggest mini-microns of movement and these enormous half-ton animals respond, light on their feet as feathers. I was saying just look at this, when I do this, I’m hoping this mini-movement will encourage him to lengthen his back. Whereupon the blessed animal promptly stretched his head long and down and the trainer said, just look at that. He got it! a longer back.

Marvelous. Horse heaven.


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Two Steps Forward . . . .

. . . one step back.

The “forward” part is that I am enjoying the cats even more (if that were possible) than before I noticed Bugsy’s urinary problem. This much I know for sure. Otherwise, like most things with the cats, all bets are off.

Our homeopathic vet describes Bugs as having a heart of gold. Bugsy is a hard worker. Super-accountable. He feels personally responsible for closely supervising OutTV at all times. Also, the vet points out, Bugs is an emotional boy. I wrote about this recently. (And re-reading the post I linked to from two years ago, I note with deep regret that as long ago as that, Bugs was showing signs that all may not have been well in the urinary department.)

The homeo vet made much of Bugs having lost his voice when Fang died.

Now, after time has gone by in which an increased dose of the vet’s remedy has worked, Bugs seems to have grown back into himself. He’s feisty, energetic, playful, and just generally present. A “blue” vibe to him, which I thought I picked up in the past, seems to have gone away.

With this changed perspective, my love and respect for Bugs has grown greatly (as if that were possible).

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Thank you.  It’s nice to be appreciated.

More “forward”: I have started doing hands-on FELDENKRAIS® work with horses. I cannot tell you how exciting this is for me. I’m planning a separate blog-post on this, but for now let me just say that the horses seem to enjoy the work and I am in heaven. I have adored horses ever since little girls are supposed to and I have never grown out of it. For me to connect with such magnificent beings in this exquisitely intimate way is a lifelong dream answered.

So the success with the horses has given me confidence to lay hands on the cats too. I have not thought of doing this since we ended work with a Tellington Touch practitioner in May 2014.

I have found the cats are harder to work with than the horses. I’ve had to use some clicker- and treat-training to get them to sit still enough. But it’s working! It’s so exciting to see how quickly they learn to stay within hands-reach. And how, with the FELDENKRAIS work, they become so soft and buttery.

Oh lord, I think to myself, what a wonderful world. Brought to you by Louis Armstrong, through Keb’ Mo’.

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Bugs upside-down asleep.

The “one step back,” though, is that Bugs’s urine still shows positive for white blood cells and he is still spraying.

The vet explained he had originally thought the spraying was likely a behavioral expression of Bugsy’s super-responsible character. There are new cats in the neighborhood and Bugs probably felt it necessary to defend the house from those nefarious characters.

bigger2 003

Menaced like this, you might spray too!

But the vet says the persistence of the symptoms, despite Bugsy showing improvement overall in his emotional state, means it’s time for another remedy more-specifically targeted to the spray situation.

We shall see.

Otherwise, the great good news is that Bugs is peeing well in the box and there is no sign of crystals or blood. The vet said with that picture, blockage is a non-issue.

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Family portrait.

Here’s a funny thing. Sometimes Bugs sprays right in front of me. Sometimes, though, he does it when I’m not in the room. I know something’s up when I find Barney near Bugsy’s favorite spray-spots doing that shoveling thing that cats do in the litter box. That’s Barney. Also a very responsible cat. Cleaning up.

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Somebody’s got to do it around here.


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