Friday, December 18, 2009

What a Hoot!

I know that for some of you bloggers who live on acres and acres of land, hearing an owl is a somewhat common occurrence. But for us living in an urban neighborhood, it is magical.

A few nights ago I came home late from work. It was pitch dark, cold and windy outside as I was talking to my kitties as they followed me up the porch stairs. Something caught my ear and I froze. Great Caesar's Ghost, I think that was an owl!! You see, I've lived in my neighborhood for almost 12 years now and have only heard one Screech owl during one summer 11 years ago.

This was no Screech owl. It started hooting and I hooted back. Silence. Then it hooted again, this time a little closer. I hooted again. Silence. Silence. Silence. Just when I thought it must have flown away it hooted again. I almost jumped out of my shoes as it must have been in the tree right next to me. I crazily reached for my cell phone to call my neighbors and was trying to hoot and dial their number at the same time. Well, the owl must have realized I was hooting under false pretenses since I looked up towards the tree just in time to see him fly off to the back yard. By this time my neighbors came by and we were treated to another five minutes of hooting, along with a very distant hoot coming from the woods across the street.

As soon as I got in my house I called my niece Meagan, who is a naturalist, hooted to her over the phone and she immediately recognized it as a Barred Owl. How cool is that!!

Check out this link to see a short video of a Barred Owl and hear his amazing call.

(photo of Barred Owl courtesy of All About Birds website at Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Isn't he/she just magnificent! Hearing this owl really made my week!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Presents for Paws

Sorry for the "Locals Only" nature of this post, but I wanted to let anyone in the DC area who might read my blog know about this wonderful program at my local shelter.

(From the Washington Animal Rescue League's website)

For many in the Washington metropolitan area, the holidays have always imposed a strain on an already stretched family budget. With the economic crisis, this is now more true than ever. The Washington Animal Rescue League hopes to ease their burden through Presents for Paws, its annual pet food and toy drive through which low-income individuals and families receive free supplies for their pets at this particularly difficult time.

In the weeks before the holidays, the League is collecting donations of pet food, treats, toys, dog and cat beds, and cat scratching pads. The recipients are all participants in the League’s Rescuers’ Food Bank, a year-round collection and distribution program that helps low-income residents of the District of Columbia care for their dogs and cats.

“For over 90 years, the League has been working to support people who care for animals through affordable veterinary care and a variety of other programs,” explains Dr. Gary Weitzman, the League’s CEO. “And we now maintain a busy pet food and supply bank for those who struggle to care for themselves and their animals. The assistance we provide is especially critical during the holiday season, when so many could use a little extra help.”

Donations can be dropped off at The Washington Animal Rescue League, 71 Oglethorpe Street, NW, DC, during business hours. They may also be dropped off at the following businesses:

The Big Bad Woof, 117 Carroll Street, NW, DC, 202-291-2404
Doggie Style Bakery, 1825 18th Street, NW, DC, 202-667-0595
Chateau-Animaux, 524 8th Street, SE, DC, 202-544-8710
Pet Valu, 11229 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD, 301-754-3690
The Dog Shop, 1625 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, DC, 202-337-3647

I have to say that one of my most favorite things to do is to go to my local pet store and shop for cat beds, toys, food and maybe even a jaunty little doggie coat for Presents for Paws. Just warms my furry little heart.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Diagnosis -- Old Age

So I went to my orthopedic doctor/surgeon today with my back/hip pain. He took down all my information and did a quick exam. I was lying on the table face up and he had me push down with my feet, then up. He then bent and raised each leg and manipulated it back and forth and up and down--no pain. He then pushed on my hips and around my (ample) stomach--no pain. He helped me to sit up and asked again--nope, no pain sitting up. He said I had good flexibility and mobility and decided to take a number of x-rays. He then walked me through the x-rays and told/showed me that I had arthritis in my lower spine. I saw how the space between the vertebra got much thinner farther down my back and how a few vertebra had these little bone spurs (arthritis) on them. (I guess I should consider myself lucky that there is nothing wrong with my hip). Alas, there is not much that can be done about it. He stressed exercises for the back and exercise itself to help strengthen my core. I will take a few PT sessions to make sure I'm doing the back exercises correctly. I REALLY need to get back into a walking program.
(photo courtesy of the internet)

While I'm happy for an explanation of the pain, I'm still frustrated by the daily pain. It's making Possumlady cranky. If you want proof of that, just ask my cats!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just a Quick Note

To let you all know I'm still alive and well. Well, alive at least. This past Monday I strained my back just getting out of my car and it's kept me from doing pretty much anything this past week. I'm fine sitting down for 15-20 minutes. Any longer and I pay the price in pain in getting back to my feet. Then I hobble around for a minute before I can walk normally. Actually, I think it's my right hip. Since I'm not a "run to the doctor" kind of gal, I've decided to wait another week before thinking about going. (I mean it took me five months to finally go to the doctor about a pinched nerve in my neck!) Ice packs help, OTC pain meds do not. And, for some reason, it seems worse at work then when I'm at home. I think it's my office chair.

Anywho, not much else going on except busily preparing for yet another board meeting in January! I need to get everything done by December 18th as that is my last day in the office until the new year. Woo Hoo!!

Finally took Sweet Pea to the vet today. My vet was flabbergasted as he could no longer feel Sweet Pea's tumor either. He said he had absolutely no idea what it could have been but agreed that his constant scratching probably dislodged whatever it was. He even put his hands on Sweet Pea and talking in a loud revival voice yelled "HEAL ME SWEETPEA!" He took another blood sample to check his CBC then pronounced him well and sent us on our way.

Whoops! Just looked at the clock and I gotta get up from this chair! Have a great weekend everyone. Maybe I'll "see" you on Farmville or Facebook. That seems to take up most my computer time lately.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Quick "Pea" Update

Our Annual Conference starts tomorrow--oh the horrors!! Okay, I may be overdramatizing a bit. Luckily the conference is here in DC so no traveling involved--Yay! It all starts with a board dinner tonight. I had planned this so long ago that this morning I had to go through weeks of emails to find the one that lists what we will actually be eating tonight as I long ago forgot what I ordered! How does this sound:
Grilled breast of chicken with asian bbq sauce and palm sugar roasted chili prawns in a lemongrass-coconut sauce served with jasmine rice and green papaya slaw

Chocolate pear cake with chocolate dipped strawberries
I told the kitties that I'd be very late in getting home tonight, most likely around 10:00. I made sure all their dry kibble bowls were filled to the brim before I left.

Today marks the second three week period that Sweet Pea has not bled. I'm not sure if I ever mentioned to you all that Sweet Pea has had a growth on his neck for the past five or so years. My prior vet felt it and said it was just a fatty tumor and to keep an eye on it. Well, it has never grown nor shrunk in all this time. The tumor is on the right side of Sweet Pea's neck and with the bleeding from this mouth only happening on the right side, my vet would say on one hand it makes sense that it's coming from the tumor but honestly, Sweet Pea should be gagging with the blood coming up from the throat. AND, since the trachea and esophagus are on the left side of the neck, my vet couldn't figure out if the tumor was bleeding, how the blood would get into the throat in the first place! Confused? Well, that's why I never mentioned it before. I just didn't think the two were related. Well, this weekend I was feeling Sweet Pea's neck and guess what? I could no longer feel the tumor!! I've tried since then and still can't feel it. I'm quite shocked. Unfortunately with the craziness at work right now I can't bring him in this week but I'm definitely bringing him in next week for the vet to examine to make sure I haven't missed it. If the tumor is indeed gone, well then, I think the mystery may well be solved!! I'll say I'm cautiously optimistic.

Energy and personality-wise, Sweet Pea is still his crazy wild self, constantly begging for treats, etc. His latest craze is that whenever I'm looking out the front storm door, he gallops over to me, jumps up and puts his front paws on my legs and starts whining to be picked up. I'll pick him up and let him watch all the birdies flying and leaves falling. At 14 pounds, I can't hold him indefinitely and he certainly makes it known that he is NOT happy when I want to put him down. Let's just hope he stays this way!!

Okay, back to work! Board members should be arriving throughout the day. I'm always fearful that I'll get a call that someone has arrived and has no hotel room! Honestly, I've had nightmares about it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Truly Remarkable Film

"The Way We Get By" is a film that is part of the POV (Point of View) series on PBS. The first broadcast was last night (Veteran's Day). I laughed and cried throughout the entire 90 minutes. The film is about a group of around 30 people in Bangor, Maine who greet every inbound and outbound military flight coming and going to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The greeters are at the airport at all hours, day and night to welcome the troops home. It focuses on three elderly greeters, Jerry, Bill, and Joan. I've attached the trailer, but you can go watch the entire film online. Please do. I just went to the PBS POV website and you can enter your zip code and they will tell you when the story will be aired again. It looks like it will be aired a number of times--at least here in the DC area. For those of you in the DC area, WETA-26 will air it at 10:00 pm tomorrow (Friday, November 13).

The Way We Get By - Click to Watch the Trailer

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Frightening Reminder

Right now, we here in the Washington DC area are being inundated with news stories about the upcoming execution tonight of one of the DC Snipers. For three weeks in October of 2002, Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland were literally held hostage by random high-powered rifle shootings. It could happen any time of the day or night. People were shot doing the most mundane every day things...filling up your car at gas stations, mowing the grass, sitting at a bus stop, walking to school, or walking to your car in a Home Depot or Michaels Craft Store parking lot.

I really can't explain how terrifying this was to everyone. Gas stations along major roads put up large white sheets blocking the view of the pumps from the road. Schools were in constant lock down mode with all evening and weekend activities canceled. I remember sitting in my car at my grocery store early on a Saturday morning, straining to see if I could spot anything past the parking lot into a little stretch of woods, then saying a little prayer and making a dash to the store. On a week day I was getting ready to go sign papers for the refinancing of my house. I had my dog Jiminy back then and she would spend the day with my neighbor two houses up from me. I walked out of my house around 9:45 and the street was completely empty, not a soul was out. Normally, I wouldn't think anything of it, but it was very disconcerting to say the least. My heart was racing as I clapped my hands for my dog as she took off running to my neighbor's with me not far behind. Another time I was late getting home from work. After I arrived home, I would go to pick up my dog from my neighbors. That night my neighbor whipped open the door in a panic thinking something had happened to me. One Saturday night a friend and I were going to have dinner at a local salvadorian restaurant. Since the restaurant is on a busy crowded street, I always parked across the street in a parking lot of a paint store. Well, there was a white paneled van parked in the lot and my friend refused to get out of the car (this was during the time when all white paneled vans were suspect). I was not too concerned but I could not budge my friend. We ended up going to a different restaurant. Wow, just remembering and typing all this is raising my blood pressure!

I have to say that even though I'm a big opponent to the death penalty, I'm just not feeling too much sympathy for this particular case.

Friday, October 30, 2009

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog

We being Apu, Woody, and Oliver. The Three Black Cats of the Apocalypse!!!

We feel that not only has Sweet Pea hijacked this blog with his "supposed" health issues, he has also hijacked our mom's heart and attention for well over a month now. Even worse, Sweet Pea pre-empted our Halloween by posting a scary cat skeleton xray of himself yesterday!


Apu: Dear Mother, have you even noticed that I'm losing my beautiful black furs again because I'm getting all nervous with Sweet Pea sneak attacking me and you don't say anything!! Now, Apu you know that's not true. I do say something when I see it. I can't police you cats every minute that I'm home you know. I keep telling you if you wouldn't act so scared and run away, he would stop chasing you.

Woody: Dear Mommy, every morning when you sits on the couch listening to your classical music to wake up, Sweet Pea jumps in your lap and kneads and sucks on your fluffy robe. You pet him and I hear you talk sweet things to him. I can't count how many times (really, I don't know how to count) when I try to do the same thing, you push me off and say "not now Woody". So, I just lie down next to you hoping you will notice me and give me a pat or two. Oh Woody, I know. I feel bad, but Sweet Pea really has taken up so much of my time worrying that I have neglected you. I promise to do better and to have some private lap time just with you!

Oliver: Dear Lady who feeds me, I really just want to say...keep feeding me. Oh, and....


I know, I know, this is last year's photo. I've never been able to get another photo of all the three halloween cats together since then. Have a spooktacular Halloween everyone!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No Answers

After paying the over $300.00 vet bill yesterday, my vet came out to discuss what he found--basically nothing abnormal. He sent the xrays to a radiologist to look over but from his point of view there was nothing out of the ordinary going on. He even xrayed Sweet Pea's lungs, but everything was clear. The next step will be to get an endoscopic sonogram from another animal hospital as my vet is not equipped to do that.

As soon as I got Sweet Pea home he dashed to the litter box. Poor thing, I've never seen him pee as much as he did then, which made me mad wondering if they left him in a recovery cage with no litter box all day? After that he ate and drank and leapt up to all the open windows for some fresh air. Later last night, he jumped in my lap and we watched "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" together. Knock on wood, no bleeding since Tuesday morning.

Thought you'd like to really "see" Sweet Pea...

My vet sent me home with his xrays on a CD. Look at those cute little "hands"!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Update

The weekend flew by in a blur. Never did accomplish much. I did do some cleaning and yesterday I made my chocolate chili for the first time this season. Watched some good movies--The Night of the Hunter on Friday night and yesterday while I was making chili, I watched Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy. A great old movie about the Scopes monkey trial in 1925 and the illegal (at the time) offense of teaching evolution in the schools. Then, last night I watched the original The Blob with Steve McQueen--what a hoot!

Mostly I fretted over Sweet Pea. He is still bleeding from his mouth but if weren't for that, you would never know anything was wrong. He still runs around with tail in the air, is eating and drinking well. So I called my vet and made the dreaded appointment. I will bring him in on Wednesday morning to be sedated and have an xray taken of his head and throat. The vet will also be able to get a good look down his throat while he is sedated, as well as a much more thorough look at his mouth. If all goes well, I'll be able to pick him up by 6:00 Wednesday evening.

Please keep those purrayers coming. I have so many worries. Worried they will find something seriously wrong, worried they won't find anything wrong, worried about the procedure name it, I'm worried about it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

One of My Favorite Things...

Just a quick post to give a shout out to one of my favorite things---the cable station, Turner Class*c Movies (TCM). I am a big, big old movie fan and TCM is a lifesaver for me in a world of reality television (yuck!) I know some of my blogger friends are not in the US, and am wondering, do you get TCM, or another station that plays all old movies with no commercials?

Every Friday night in October, is Thriller Night on TCM. They have played some great Hitchcock and other thrillers that I had not heard of before. Tonight (October 23) at 8:00 pm Eastern, they are playing The Night of the Hunter starring that classic bad boy Robert Mitchum

This is the only film directed by the great actor Charles Laughton. The film was shot in 1955 in black and white and I must say that some of his scenes are truly artistic (I'm thinking of the scene with the children trying to hide in the barn while through the barn door you see a silhouette of Mitchum riding his horse.) I highly recommend this film if you like to be spooked!
I know what I'll be doing tonight, hopefully with a few cats on my lap to keep me company.

What about you? Do you like old movies? What are your favorites? Enquiring Possumlady wants to know.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


It looks like Sweet Pea was a little optimistic last week. While I was posting last night, I looked and saw that he was bleeding again from his mouth. Boy did my heart sink. I'm so frustrated by this. I called and my vet is out this morning but the vet tech said to get him back on antibiotics and she'll let the vet know when he gets in this afternoon.

So, it looks like more puurayers are needed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finishing up that Spring Planting

No, that's not a mistake. Yes, I'm finally finishing up planting the perennials that I bought over Memorial Day weekend. If you could see the land that I have to work with you'd understand. Not only is it hard packed clay, it is filled with stones, big and small. My sister brought over a Nandina bush from her yard that I also planted. In order to dig a hole big enough for the Nandina, I had to sit on the ground with a hand held pick ax and pick away. (A while back I bought a shovel that has teeth. It is supposed to be able to dig through the toughest soil. It is NO match for my rocky ground.) With the pick ax, it took me two hours total, in half hour intervals, to dig the hole for that one plant. Here are some of the rocks I dug out. I even dug out a broken piece of brick that was buried about 5 inches down.

Here's the nandina with beautiful black organic soil conditioner helping it survive in the rocky dirt,

The dirt (rocks) that I dug out.

Some of the larger rocks.

Sorry this is dark. It is a different coral bell plant with white blooms in the summer and a purple underleaf.

Got most of it planted before we had a real touch of fall. I know, I know, so many of you are crying "bring back the warm sunny days", but not me! I loved it. It didn't get out of the 40s for three days! I love being in my cosy little house, wearing my warm slippers and baking up pumpkin spice bread during days like this. This truly is my favorite time of the year. I think the cats agree as they have been extra lively these past few days. Oh, and the bestest part of it all, after weeks and weeks of waking up catless, they have starting coming back! Friday night I woke up with one cat in bed, Saturday night--two cats, and last night--three cats keeping me warm!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm Feeling Much Better, Thank You

Sweet Pea here again. Mom told me that lots and lots of you nice people were sending purrayers and good thoughts my way. They WORKED!! I'm feeling in tip top shape. I still have to take the very yucky antibiotics, but this evening will be the last time I have to get that yucky liquid stuff squeezed into my mouth--Yay!!

I don't know why mom laughed when she took this photo. She said she is just happy to see that I've gained back the weight I lost being sick. As you can see, my flooffy fur is still patchy around my neck but mom says she can see it starting to grow back.
Not everyone is happy that I'm feeling better. Mom said she couldn't get over how frisky and friendly Apu was when I was not feeling well. He was running around, meowing and playing like a kitten. Well, I put a stop to THAT! Now that I'm feeling better, I'm back to whapping and stalking him, just enough to make him nervous and jumpy again--hee, hee, hee. When I started back to my usual stalker ways over the weekend, mom was laughing and stating how much better I must be feeling. Now, she gets this stern look when I do it and tells me to stop teasing Apu!! I wish she would make up her mind! I keep telling her, I'm a cat, and a brat, and I just can't help myself.
Oooo, I think I just heard Apu going into the litterbox...gotta go!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Little Recycled Retail Therapy

Big knock on wood because Sweet Pea continues to improve and no bleeding when I got home last night or this morning!! Now, I honestly don't have any grand illusions that he is making a miraculous recovery. I still think something is very wrong, but as long as he is stable and getting stronger, that's all I can hope for.

Sunday was our little town's Street Festival. My favorite event of the year. Live music with three different bands going in different parts of the downtown, every type of food and drink (the Lime Fizzes are the BEST) and many arts and craft tents. I usually go with my sister but with the fear that Sweet Pea might bleed out, I just didn't feel I could be a very good host. I was planning on bagging it this year when my friend and neighbor, Stephanie, called around noon on Sunday and asked if I wanted to take a quick look. I thought I could be gone for about an hour and agreed to go. I told her though that with all my recent expenses, vet, car repairs, and four new tires, I was not going to be buying anything.

We started walking towards the festival when we came across a moving sale. The woman was moving to Paris(!!) and everything had to go. She had no prices on anything which turned out to be a very good thing.

I bought this plain Ikea serving tray which is a great size for carrying things out to the front porch, for one dollar.

I bought my little kitchen table that you see above (old enamel over metal top and wooden legs) at a used furniture shop a few years ago. It only came with two chairs and I've been looking for two chairs since then. They certainly didn't need to match. She had these two metal chairs that the seats had been recently updated with a pretty oilcloth. The chairs are very sturdy but I'll want to spray paint the metal. Any ideas on colors? Price for the chairs: two dollars each.

I then spotted a microwave. The only microwave I've ever had was the one that came with my house when I bought it. It must have been one of the first microwaves ever built. VERY big, with just a turn dial for the amount of minutes you wanted it to run. It took forever to melt or heat anything.
Cost of used microwave, five dollars! Just look how tiny it is, yet the inside is almost the same size as my old one, and it has a turning plate inside. (I'm really moving up to the 1980s now!) The outside of the old one though took up almost the entire shelf where the new one sits. Looks like I have some much needed space for some cookbooks.
We eventually made it to the festival. My neighbor made a lot of purchases, but I walked around not buying a thing, happy that my ten dollars were spent so wisely.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Making Hard Decisions

Sweet Pea is still here, and there has been no bleeding since Wednesday (or as I now call it, the Wednesday night massacre). I was supposed to bring him to the vet this morning for a procedure to try and find out where the bleeding is taking place. I decided for now to not do the procedure. It was a very uncomfortable situation to be in all weekend. On one hand it seemed to me that when he didn't bleed for a few days, the amount that eventually came out was copious. So, there I was on Friday night, then Saturday morning, actually hoping he would bleed! When he didn't bleed yesterday I vacillated between being really nervous waiting for an eruption and then somewhat optimistic as the hours ticked by.

By last night I was really questioning if I should bring him in at all. Not only was Sweet Pea not bleeding, every day he was getting stronger, eating more and acting more and more like his old self. Could the antibiotics be working? Could the massive bleeding last Wednesday have purged him of whatever was making him bleed in the first place? Who knows? I also started having worries about the procedure itself. I have a friend who had a cat that was in a weakened stage that had to have a basic procedure done, but had to be sedated. Because of her weakened state, she never woke from the sedation and had to be put down. I have no question in my mind that even though Sweet Pea is feeling better, he is not up to his full strength. Could that happen to him? Then I started thinking what if he got through the procedure fine, but when he was in a recovery cage waking from the sedation, starts to bleed and aspirates on the blood while he is still under. I know they don't have people there to watch them every second.

Late last night, I picked up all the water and food bowls (my house is too small to fast just one cat, so unfortunately, both Woody and Apu had to fast too) and decided if I woke up and Sweet Pea had bled during the night, I would bring him in. When I woke up this morning all the cats including Sweet Pea were meowing VERY loudly wondering where the heck their food and water bowls were. After inspecting the house and finding no blood, I made the decision then and there to not bring him in and called the vet's office as soon as it opened to let them know.

Do I have a knot in my stomach now here at work? Yes. I also realize that I could come home tonight from work to a scene like I did last Wednesday. If that happens, I'll feel more confident of bringing him in, realizing the antibiotics were not helpful and let nature take its course.

Whatever happens I know that Sweet Pea had a wonderful purr-filled weekend filled with lots of brushings, head scritches, TONS of cat treats, and most importantly, lots of lap time and loving from his mom.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are You Going to Leave Me Too?

I whispered these words to Sweet Pea this morning while I was sitting on the floor petting him.

The blood test results came back with the diagnosis of severe anemia. One little bit of good news is that my vet said that the numbers are off the charts as far as Sweet Pea regenerating new red blood cells. So, he is healthy in that respect. But, he continues to bleed from his mouth. I brought Sweet Pea to the vet yesterday for another exam. He had not bled for three days and his energy level improved substantially. Running and eating like normal--although I can tell he has lost weight. Just as a general observation, my vet said he looked 100% better then he did last week. But the bleeding is still a mystery. The vet did a very thorough exam of his mouth and tongue, pressed on his gums to see if they would bleed and came up with nothing. Since Sweet Pea is not gagging or vomiting the blood, he really can't figure out how it just randomly drips out of his mouth.

So, the vet dosed him for worms (with the flea infestation, Sweet Pea could have easily picked up some), gave me a two week dose of antibiotics since his white cell count was a bit high, and told me to buy some liquid vitamins and come back in a month for more blood work.

I dropped Sweet Pea off back home where I quickly gave him some cat treats that he gobbled up, and then left for work. I had to work late and didn't get home until around 7:30. When I walked in the door, it literally looked like I walked into a crime scene. Sweet Pea was on the living room rug hunched over with his face almost touching the floor. Surrounding him were splatters of blood. A trail of blood was in the kitchen and into the bedroom with more blood splatter on my bed and on the window. I quickly checked Sweet Pea and he was no longer bleeding but obviously weak and exhausted. I cleaned things up as best as I could and sat with Sweet Pea for a while and then went to bed. I woke up this morning with Sweet Pea in the same position as when I left him but luckily no more bleeding.

I just got off the phone with the vet. I have two choices. I can continue the conservative treatment or I can bring him in tomorrow where the vet will have to sedate him to take a thorough look down his throat and take some xrays. He said that in itself is risky since the bleeding must be coming from somewhere close to his throat and the process of sticking something down his throat could cause massive bleeding. I've decided to go with the risky procedure. Either way, my vet said the outcome is probably not going to be good. Yet, I just can't sit around watching Sweet Pea slowly bleed to death.

I will say my goodbyes and drop Sweet Pea off in the morning, praying for some kind of miracle.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Prayer for Sweet Pea

I brought Sweet Pea into the vet this morning to get his mouth checked out. He started bleeding from his mouth on Saturday. He was fine Sunday and Monday. Tuesday night it started bleeding again, and Wednesday morning, bleeding just a tiny amount.
I was all ready for them to say he needed more dental work, but the vet said he couldn't find anything wrong with his mouth. He did notice that Sweet Pea's gums were very pale. So they took some blood (not very fun, as they had to put a little face mask muzzle on Sweet Pea as he was NOT at all happy) to see what his white and red blood cell count is. Of course, I'm already thinking that he is bleeding internally somewhere. But, he is not vomiting blood, he's still eating well, and has his usual high energy level. In fact, when I got home from work on Tuesday before his mouth started bleeding again, he galloped over to me and jumped up with his front paws on my leg, giving me a very vocal happy trill hello. Lot's of confusing signs here. For now I wait to here about the blood results. If the white cell count is high, my vet will put him on an antibiotic and we'll go from there.
So say a little prayer for Sweet Pea. He is the sweetest of boys and a champion head-butter.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Sweet Pea here...Mom is all up in arms. First we've been having a terrible time with fleas this past couple of months! I'm looking especially bad with big patches of my beautiful fluffy fur gone from my constant biting, scratching and licking! Mom has used both Frontline and Advantage on all of us and both products work for a week and then, BOOM, the fleas just keep attacking me. It's really bad for me because I'm allergic to the bites. Woody and Apu have fleas too but you'd never know it, they don't scratch or nothing! Mom doesn't want to bomb the house but has used flea spray on the rug and all the furniture and they still come!! A neighbor brought over some diatomaceous earth. Wow is that stuff messy. Mom put too much on my belly and with me licking the powder and fur together, it has turned my belly into a series of nasty mats.
Then, to top it off, mom kept seeing blood in my fur on Saturday. She thought I was biting myself so hard that I was making myself bleed. But when she checked me further, found out that I was bleeding from my mouth! The bleeding stopped and I was fine all of yesterday and this morning. It was almost a year ago when I was bleeding from my mouth and mom took me in and actually LEFT me at the vets where they took out FOUR of my teeth! She said she has to call and bring me in again to see what the matter is. Maybe if I just lay low, she won't find me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Own Personal Totem

With my love of animals and nature it seems fitting that I have always had an interest in the Native American/Canadian First Nation belief of animal totems.

Totems are spirits that take the form of an animal that guides/protects you through your life. Now some folks believe that you cannot choose your animal totem--they will choose you. Say, you've noticed a particular animal popping up in your life recently. That's your animal totem(s) (you can have more than one). If that's the case, then cats, possums, and raccoons are definitely my totems!!

Now other folks believe that you can choose your totems. If you feel particularly drawn to a certain animal(s), the belief is that that animal spirit is calling you to them. If that's the case, then cats and possums are still my totems, along with polar bears and elephants.

Each animal has different strengths to help you through life.

The cat totem qualities are mystery, magic, independence and encourages agility in both body and mind.

The possum totem qualities are (now honestly, didn't think there were any possum qualities did you!) diversity, earthy wisdom and encourages using your brain (playing dead) over brawn (fighting).

The elephant totem qualities are ancient wisdom, confidence and patience, and encourages us to care for the young and the elderly.

The polar bear totem qualities are healing, introspection, and solitude and encourages us to quiet our minds as the answers to all questions lie within us.

While we were in Grand Marais, we stopped at a wonderful art gallery, Sivertson Gallery. According to their website, "The gallery offers art on the North Shore of Lake Superior, exhibiting the work of over 60 regional artists in addition to Canadian Inuit and Alaskan native art, Canadian First Nation and Native American art". I was looking through some prints when my sister called me over to the jewelry section. Now, I'm not much of a jewelry person, but when she mentioned polar bears, I was there in a flash! Oooo, such unique necklaces and earrings. The prices made me gulp, but it WAS my 50th birthday celebration. Really, how could I resist this...

The pendant incorporates sterling silver with prehistoric fossilized or mineralized walrus tusk, which is between 500 to 3,000 years old. It is legally obtained, having been excavated by native Alaskan families on native owned lands along the Bering Sea coast of Alaska. I am so in love with this necklace that I wear it almost every day. I think it will become my signature piece of jewelry. Yes, my own personal totem.

What about you? What particular animals are you drawn to?

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Legend Lives on...

from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call Gitchee Gumee. (The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, by Gordon Lightfoot)

I was always fascinated by Lake Superior and spending a few days on its shore last month have rekindled my interest. My new dream would be to spend some time in the late fall, early winter up in Grand Marais on the shores of the lake during a storm!! Ooooo, scary!!

I found this little fact filled nugget on the internet...

Not only is Lake Superior the largest of the Great Lakes, it also has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in the world. It contains almost 3,000 cubic miles of water. You would need all the other Great Lakes combined plus three additional Lake Eries to fill it. With an average depth approaching 500 feet, Superior also is the coldest and deepest (1,332 feet) of the Great Lakes. The lake stretches approximately 350 miles from west to east, and 160 miles north to south, with a shoreline almost 2,800 miles long. The drainage basin, totaling 49,300 square miles, encompasses parts of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario. Most of the Superior basin is sparsely populated, and heavily forested, with little agriculture because of a cool climate and poor soils.

References: Great Lakes Atlas, Environment Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1995

To the left is Minnesota. You can see both Duluth and Grand Marais. Hmmm, I didn't know we were that close to the Canadian border!

Do you remember where you were when you heard about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975? I distinctly remember watching the local 10:00 news that evening in St. Paul when the breaking news at that point was that authorities lost communication with the vessel during a storm and considered it missing.

If you have the time (it's over 6 minutes long), click on this link for a very moving video tribute to the Edmund Fitzgerald with the haunting Gordon Lightfoot song as background. It has wonderful old footage of the christening of the ship.

Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior. Although I have a photo just like this when I visited in 2003, this is borrowed from the internet. The lighthouse is no longer in use and is a historical monument, yet they light it every year on the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Now Where Was I???

Sorry for the delay in posts. Without home internet it's been quite complicated getting anything posted on this blog. And, with my photos on my home computer, I have to try and get a wireless signal from a neighbor and then hope I can get the photos sent to blogger before I get booted off! I was planning on getting wireless service but had to get my car in for some work to the tune of over $600.00 along with the fact that I need four new tires in the next couple of months. Wireless may have to be put off until next year. In defense of Bulldog though (my Honda Element), he IS six years old and I haven't put a penny into him beyond the usual oil changes. So except for the bad timing, I really can't complain.

Now, where was I?? Oh, we had left my niece's and drove to Duluth. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of Duluth. It's a great harbor town on the shores of Lake Superior. It was really a one horse town when I started visiting the city in the late 70s. Now there are lots of shops and eateries including a favorite candy shop called Hepzibahs. The shop was named after one of Duluth's pioneer women. My sister Debbie can never remember the name and would refer to it as "Hezb*llah," so now it is referred to as the terrorist chocolate shop! After stopping in a few shops and loading up on chocolate, we headed for Grand Marais.

Grand Marais is also a harbor town on Lake Superior but much farther north than Duluth. It's called the gateway to the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area). For being so far north and isolated, it is a real diverse town with a good size artistic community and WONDERFUL food! My sisters have all been to Grand Marais before but it was my first visit and I loved it. I think it would be breathtaking in fall and winter.

Just one of many eclectic shops. I was so mesmerized by the giant fish (northern pike?) that I cut off the other side of the building.

My sister Michele found a wonderful place to stay--Cobblestone Cove Villas. A group of townhouses right on the harbor, and they gave ME the master suite! You have the beauty of Lake Superior right out your window and the convenience of being within walking distance of downtown Grand Marais. How can you lose when the World's Best Donut Shop and a Frozen Custard shop are within a block of your townhouse?

Here's a view of the harbor from our deck.

A close up of the little lighthouse

You could walk along the man made harbor towards the lighthouse. Even though it's as wide as a sidewalk, it still made me nervous!

Here's a view from the man made harbor towards town and our townhouse. We stayed at the one furthest left with the sun shining on it.

This is my favorite photo. The sun was just setting and the fog was rolling in from the lake. I have to admit it though that it was my sister Becky that took this shot.

A peek into my room.

Quite a Room with a View!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Going up Nort

The first part of my mini vacation in Minnesota was driving up North (or up Nort as they say in Minnesota speak) to visit my niece Meagan who is a naturalist. She lives in an area where I think the loons outnumber the people. She and her adorable dog, Abby, live in a cute house on a lake with no neighbors in sight. I often think of myself as quite an independent woman, but I'm no match for Meagan. She is a true Woodswoman.

A view of her dock from Meagan's back yard. We heard loons that evening and in the morning.

For an example of her woodswomaness, a few winters ago she was driving home from work on a dark and snowy night. She struck a deer. The deer did major damage to the front of her car and was still alive but in critical condition. Meagan called the highway patrol. While waiting for them to arrive she sat down and put the deer's head on her lap and softly stroked it. The patrolman came and put the poor animal out of its misery. She asked if she could take the deer and the patrolman helped get the deer into her vehicle. When she arrived home, she dragged it to the barn on her property, hoisted it up, gutted it and made deer jerky. She then skinned it and she now has a beautiful tanned deerskin on her rocker. What a gal!

Ms Abby, getting ready to give us some lovin

Abby lounging on the back porch

We toured her place of work, the Long Lake Conservation Center. Schools around the state send students to spend overnight or a few days for intensive environmental and conservation education. Not in your school's budget? Check out the link for possible funding from a grant from the Jeffers Foundation. They also have occasional weekend retreats for adults. Any Minnesota nature photogs out there--Lynne, I'm looking at you! They are hosting a Fall Photography Retreat, October 2-4. An incredible resource smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

Meagan's house view from the back. I slept on that back porch. While lying there trying to get to sleep amongst all the quiet, I saw a huge shooting star streak across the sky.

Here she is! A woman who can charm the scales off a snake (whose name is Stan by the way). Check out that t-shirt!

Meagan was a wonderful host to her mom and three aunts, cooking up a tasty grilled chicken kabob dinner with sweet potato fries and a salad made from her own greens with a maple vinaigrette (made with her homemade maple syrup she harvested from sugar maples on her property.)

We left the next morning for a stop in Duluth then onto Grand Marais.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Out of Touch

Yes, that's me.

Possumlady has returned from the land of sky blue water. I came back a week ago from Minnesota where I spent a few glorious days celebrating my 50th birthday with my sisters. Oh, fyi, my actual birthday isn't until tomorrow. Just sayin....

Still on vacation until Wednesday, so without home internet service have not been able to post or comment (am borrowing someone's wireless right now---sshh!)

Anywho, thought I'd say hey. Will be back to posting when I return to work. I'll leave you with a photo of Lake Superior at Tettegouche State Park.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Not much to report here. It seems like the weather gods and goddesses finally woke up and gave us the kind of summer I've learned to expect around here. Hazy, Hot, and Humid, with the almost daily late afternoon pop up thunderstorm...just in case the humidity level was starting to drop. Oh lovely (she writes sarcastically). The only sound outside is the drone of all the air conditioners. Getting out of my car when I return home from work, I have to sprint to the front door or I'll be mobbed by mosquitoes. Even with the sprinting I never seem to be able to get in the door without 2-3 bites!

Because of a badly placed skylight, my air conditioner struggles in the intense heat and humidity. In the winter, the sun is lower and never seen through the skylight. In the summer, it looks like a search light coming through heating up the house for a good 3-4 hours every day. I've tried putting up room darkening film but it wouldn't stick because of the bubble shape of the old skylight. It really needs a a shade of some sort, but it would cost a pretty penny to have someone custom fit and install it. I know, I know...I've probably paid more in energy costs throughout the years.

Now, why was I even talking about the heat in the house?.....a few minutes go by as she sits pondering....

Oh yes, because of the cats. It always comes back to the cats, doesn't it? Coming home from work during these hot days, I'm no longer greeted at the door. I call out and start my search. Hmmm, one in the darkened tv on the cool bathroom LYING IN THE LITTER BOX!! "OH GROSS APU--GET OUT OF THERE!" He slinks out of the litter box with a look that can only be interpreted as "what the heck is YOUR problem!"

Ahh, summertime. Hot, sticky days and stinky cats.

Oh my! I was originally adding this photo to show Sweet Pea just chillin', but now looking at it I almost expect him to start breathlessly quoting lines from The Maltese Falcon!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Bestest Place on Earth

According to my cats, is.....

Mom's lap after she has been out of town. According to my neighbor who was taking care of my herd, the inside crew seemed quite depressed. Not one of them came out of the bedroom the entire time I was gone (well at least when my neighbor was there). Apu, I could understand. But Sweet Pea and Woody are so friendly and curious with everyone I was very surprised to hear this.

So, my first morning back I sat on the couch to see who would be first. Usually Woody is the lap hog, but as you can see from the above photo, Sweet Pea beat him to it. Woody decided to bide his time by chewing on his back leg, when all of a sudden he looked up and saw this...

Sweet Pea jumped down and Apu quietly sneaked up. I think you can see Woody's surprised expression. I believe he is saying "Wha hoppined?" Well enough is enough. Woody was not going to sit around waiting for Apu to leave.

He decided to squeeze his way onto my lap with Apu not giving an inch. Although I frequently joke about Woody's lack of intellectual muscle, he does have a few frequently used tricks up his sleeve.

Oh look at those devious eyes! He very slowly moves across my lap, making sure he is between me and the other cat. This results in one of two things. Either the first cat will feel too squeezed and will jump off, or in the close quarters will start grooming Woody. It's a win-win situation as far as Woody is concerned.

This time, Woody got to share my lap and get groomed. What a deal!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

If I'm Going Crazy it Must be July!

Yet, you would NEVER know it was July with the weather we've been having. Absolutely wonderful. Highs in the low 80s, low humidity and the nights cool down to the low 60s. Just heavenly. I think we've had maybe two really bad HHH days so far this summer (Hazy, Hot, and Humid). It must be a record.

I must say that the weather has really made preparing for our July Board meetings easier to bear. If you think it seems like I'm always writing about preparing for another board meeting, believe me, it certainly feels that way to me too! Yes, I'm off to Portland, Oregon this weekend. I know I'm a broken record on this, but I really do hate traveling and attending these meetings. Always needing to be on call, never being able to let your guard down and relax, always worrying about taking minutes and hoping the food and activities I've selected meet with everyone's approval. The only upside is not having to cook for a few days. But that is offset by worrying about my furbies back home and hoping they are all okay. I've already been preparing them by telling them that my neighbor will be coming by twice a day to look in on them and feed and brush them. And, to make me feel better, I remind myself that a week from today, I'll be back home again!

Windows open, cats lounging in the evening breeze. It doesn't get much better then this. Take care everyone and maybe I'll send you a post from Portland. But if there isn't enough time, I'll be back in a week.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Roll Call

I've decided to out myself. I've said it before and I'll say it again...I'm a crazy cat lady. For years now whenever someone would ask "just how many cats do you have?" I always gave a few pat answers such as "you really don't want to know", I really can't keep track of them all", and "it's a state secret." I'm now going to list all my furbies to dispel the age-old stereotype of the crazy cat lady and to start a new definition of one. You know the old one--a desperate lonely single woman (usually old or ugly, or both), possibly a hoarder, with no friends save her feline ones. Okay, I'm single but that's as far as the stereotype goes. I have a decent paying and good job, own my own home, have many friends both at work and outside of work and have many, MANY outside interests that have absolutely nothing to do with cats!
If someone takes in a number of dogs, or horses, or whatever, you never hear a derogatory stereotype about them...why cats? Everyone I know that has taken in cats have hearts of gold. They, like myself, cannot turn their backs on a needy animal. These folks, like myself, also volunteer and give money to many local animal shelters and know the realities of bringing in stray cats to the shelter and decide "what's one more cat?" Instead of making fun of these folks, people should be thanking them for all they do for these vulnerable animals.

Whew!! Okay, I feel better now. So, without further ado, here are the current occupants of Possumlady Place, ranked in order of their being taken in.


At 13 years old, Apu is the oldest of the clan and now the only cat that I actually adopted from a shelter back in 1996. A typical scaredy cat and curmudgeon, Apu has really grown in the year since his security blanket, Butterball, passed on. He was named after a favorite Simpsons cartoon character.

Sweet Pea

He is roughly 10 years old. Around 5:45 one morning in August of 2001 I heard a cat fight right under my bedroom window. I looked out to see a fluffy gray cat running away with my neighbor's cat, Winston, in hot pursuit. My neighbors and I started feeding him and asking around the neighborhood. No one claimed him so my neighbor took him in to get neutered, cleaned up, and get the necessary shots. Then what? Another neighbor had expressed interest earlier on but when the cat was ready to be adopted, the neighbor changed his mind. So again, what's one more cat. I took him in with Butterball and Apu already in residence. Yet neither Butterball nor Apu were lap cats and this cat loved to jump in my lap and bury his head. I just kept telling him what a Sweet Pea he was and the name stuck.


He will be 8 this fall. I started seeing Woody in March of 2002 and I assumed he just lived up the street. Then I didn't see him again until June. I hardly recognized him. Patchy, dull coat and so emaciated you could see every vertebra and rib on his body. I watched as he slowly made the rounds of the neighborhood, walking up to the front porches of people who had cats, looking for food. I followed him with a bowl full of turkey baby food. I called him and he slowly came to me. I put down the food and I never saw a cat eat so fast. I picked him up and brought him home where I put out dry and wet food. Again, my neighbor took him in to be neutered and given his shots. The vet estimated he was around 8 months old. When my neighbor got him home, she asked me if I wanted him. My mind was screaming NO, NO, NO!! But, somehow the words that came out of my mouth were "sure, why not". I started calling him String Bean (Beanie), then settled on Woody. He has grown to be one of my largest cats and a sweeter one you will never meet. He does not have a mean bone in his body and loves everyone. If he could find a way to velcro himself to my lap, he would do it.

Toby, Figaro, and Chloe

These three cats came over from my neighbor's house around the same time in late 2003, early 2004. I have no idea their ages. My neighbor had them as give ups or from other rescuers. They were all very skittish with Toby acting almost feral in his fear of people. I can imagine with my neighbor's four barkey terrier type dogs and her foster dogs and cats, along with potential adopters coming and going most evenings, her home must have been a nightmare for these quiet, terrified souls. They found quiet and sanctuary at my house and they have all blossomed. Figaro and Chloe are the tuxedo twins and are very sweet and friendly. Toby is still pretty skittish but will allow me to pet him on occasion. In fact, I finally just got Toby to come into the house about a year ago so he wouldn't be the only cat outside on cold winter nights.


aka, Chunky Lisa, or Lisa Marie. Chunky Lisa, a dilute calico, also came over from my neighbor's house. I started seeing her around January 2005. She was brought over when her elderly owner passed away. A timid, sensitive soul, Chunky Lisa has blossomed since coming to Possumlady Place. I've often wanted to change her name to Chatty Cathy as she trills, grunts, tweets and meows almost constantly when she is awake.

Oliver (Twist)

aka, Ollie, or Ollie Baba. Little Oliver started showing up in my front yard bushes with eyes glowing in the night around March 2006. I would see him snatching a bit to eat on my front porch. If he saw me he would hiss and run off. I noticed he had a tipped ear--a mark of a feral cat that has been trapped, neutered and released. Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later he started running up to me to be petted. Very skinny and gangly, I named him Oliver Twist as he always wanted more food!
So, there you have it. All the creatures currently at Possumlady Place---for now ;-)