Friday, February 19, 2010

Jaxx is Back!!

In the past few storm posts, I mentioned I was looking out and worrying about a couple of feral cats. Well, one was poor Pyewacket that had to be put down last week. The other was Jaxx. Around the first of December, my neighbor sent out an email to be on the lookout for a brown and black ear tipped cat that escaped from her carrier. Her name was Jaxx and had been ear tipped, spayed and given her shots. My neighbor and others felt she was a stray that started hanging out with a feral group and they decided to try to keep her inside and see if she would tame up a bit, when she got loose from her carrier.

Well, I kept my eye out but never saw her until the night before I was going away to Orlando for a board meeting in mid-January. I had brought all the cats inside and was keeping them inside for the 2 days I was going to be away so I wasn't replenishing the food on the front porch. Around 10:00 pm I heard a commotion on the front porch and saw a brown and black cat fussing with a raccoon over about four measly pieces of kibble that were left in the bowl. I chased away the raccoon and the cat ran off too but immediately came back and was crying at the bottom of my porch stairs. I put out a can of food and I never saw a cat wolf down food so fast. I then put out another, then another, and then another! She wolfed down four cans of food!! I was afraid she was going to throw them right up again! I called my neighbor and said to keep an eye out for her and relunctantly had to leave for the airport early the next morning.

I started seeing her regularly in my back yard. She was hanging around my shed and I would see her crawl under it. We still had snow from our past storms and very cold weather so I could not try and trap her until the weather got better. Well, it never did. I was feeding and seeing her regularly until the first big storm hit on February 5th. After that I never saw her. I waded through snow every evening and put down dry kibble next to the shed. I always saw cat tracks, but it could have been any number of cats in the neighborhood.

Since going back to work on Tuesday, I decided the snow had gone down enough and paths had been forged so that if she was still around she could make it to where I usually fed her, next to my back porch. So I opened the window and called her and put out a can of wet food. I called and called but she never came. Wednesday morning the food was gone, but again, it could have been other cats, possums or raccoons. Wednesday night I went through the same routine. I called and called and lo and behold up popped a little ear tipped head! She was crying and hopping through the snow to get to where I had the food. Oh it was great to see her. She didn't wolf down the food so I know she was able to get to the kibble I was putting down for her. I talked about my day as she ate a few feet below me. In fact. I was just about to tell her what I was planning on eating for dinner when she turned and gave a big stretch and sauntered back to the shed. "Oh, okay", I said, "see you tomorrow." Isn't that just like a cat?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's the Little Things in Life

It's Day Two of returning to work after the back to back blizzards. Along with still dealing with mountains of snow and two hour commutes when it should be 30 minutes (in fact, I'm sitting in my office right now hearing the honking of horns outside--oh how I don't want to get in that traffic again), I'm dealing with mountains of paperwork from the unexpected time off.

In trying to keep myself calm and centered, I'm thinking of all the little things in my life that make me smile. Oh sure, my animals keep me on my toes and make me smile and laugh every day. That is a given. But, as I was standing at the lunch counter today, I started looking at my scarf and I smiled. I LOVE my scarf! Is that silly? I got it at Kohls over a year ago and each and every time I put it on I smile. It goes with everything I have and the colors are so bright and cheerful, even the black has little shimmering threads. Everyone that has seen it comments on it and thinks it is handmade.

So what about you? Is there something in your home or office, or a piece of clothing that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face? Enquiring (possumlady) minds want to know!!

P.S. I'm sure you noticed my new header photo. Can you tell I was dealing with cabin fever and thinking of a time with no snow? I know the photo is too big but I don't know how to shrink it. I also inadvertently made the type of the entire blog larger because I wanted to make my header type larger. Obviously, I don't know what I'm doing. Any instructions would be greatly appreciated!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Photos of the Day After

With the federal government on a delayed opening/unscheduled leave day, I checked with my boss to see if he could pick me up as my driveway is still not shoveled out (since he lives just a couple of minutes from me). He was leaving earlier then I had planned so I guess it's an unscheduled leave day for me today!!

Side of house view on Sunday after the first storm

Photo of side of house yesterday after the Wednesday storm. Notice the much longer icicles.

Birdy prints

The "tunnel." I had to shovel three times with each scoop, first the top layer, then the middle layer, then the bottom layer, before I could move forward. My back was NOT happy by the end of the day.

Possumlady Place held up just fine.

No, they weren't napping--Chunky Lisa and Figaro showing their displeasure of mom's use of the "flashy box".

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Since the start of this snow storm and the aftermath, before I go to bed, I always put out a fresh bowl of dry kibble on the front porch with some hot water in a bowl (so the water will not freeze so quickly). In the morning before I let the outside kitties out to release some of their energy, I take a quick peak. If no food has been touched I open the door and let them out. This morning I took my quick peak...nope, food is still there and doesn't look touched. I opened the front door and made a quick look into the little cat igloo. Imagine my surprise when I saw two golden eyes staring back at me! It was Pyewacket!! Oh, was I relieved!! Well, the outside kitties would have to wait as they would have chased Pyewacket away.

I opened a can of wet food and slowly and carefully opened the door and quietly walked outside talking gently to him. I waved the food past the igloo opening so he could get a wiff and put it down and quietly backed into the house again. I watched as I could see him licking his chops. He then struggled a bit but got out of the igloo (that is up on a wicker chair). He does not look good. He looks very thin and has leaves stuck to him. He has a wound on his back leg and will not put any weight on one of his front legs. Yesterday was the first day that I dug out of my driveway to the cleared street, so it was obvious he was across the street the whole time yet had no way of getting to me until he had a clear path. Poor, poor thing.

With our offices closed again today and a major storm approaching by the end of today, I had one objective. To try and get to a supermarket and stock up again. Now I have two. I'm going to try and get Pyewacket into my cat carrier and bring him over to my neighbor's where she has a caged cat condo. At least there he will be safe and warm. We will bring him to the vet once the weather clears and go from there. Since he is pretty feral, if we find that he has a broken leg or other serious issues that would require daily pilling or other medication, I hate to say this, but I think the best thing would be to have him put down. He is clearly not happy and not able to fend for himself and with the weather as bad and cold as it has been, it could be the most humane thing to do. On the other hand, If he just has an infected puncture wound of some kind that will heal up we may just keep him inside until the weather gets better and the snow melts and he is able to walk again.

So keep your fingers and paws crossed for Pyewacket, or as I call him "my little hissy boy".

Well, it's good and it's bad. I watched Pyewacket struggle down my front porch steps and down my walkway to the street. With a bad front and back leg it was tortuous watching him struggling to get across the street. As luck would have it he made it back to my porch about 20 minutes later and jumped up into the little igloo. I then cautiously brought my cat carrier out and put the opening up against the opening of the igloo and tapped on the igloo and out popped Pyewacket into my carrier. My neighbor called our vet and he was at his clinic. I decided to bring him in then and there. The vet looked at him and said given his unknown medical history regarding shots and the look that he was in a major fight with most likely a raccoon, they put Pyewacket down. I feel bad but honestly I mostly feel relieved. He is no longer struggling to survive in pain and in the freezing cold. I honestly don't know how he made through this last storm with those injuries and with another coming later today, I think it would have been too much for him. So goodbye Pyewacket. At least you got a good meal and was able to quench your big thirst for water, along with being safe and warm for your last hours. Your life had meaning and I'm glad I was able to share some of it with you.

Photo of Pyewacket taken a year ago when he first started coming to my porch for food. The photo was taken through a storm door since he would not allow me to get close to him.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

No TV and No Beer Makes Possumlady Something Something*

*My apologies for those of you that aren't Simpsons fans since the title is a variation of a quote from Homer when they did a Simpson's version of The Shining.

Day two of the snowpocalypse. I still have electricity which is a VERY BIG deal. But, I still don't have tv and for that matter beer! Luckily I'm not a sports fan and would not be watching the Super Bowl if you paid me. (Well, I guess it would depend on how much!)

Shoveled FIVE times yesterday. Today it is in the teens with the sun shining. A plow FINALLY made an appearance about an hour ago but big deal--my car is completely buried and am not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. Let the outside kitties out this morning and Chloe is still out sitting in the sun on a front porch stair. Made a small double batch of Zick suet dough yesterday and will be distributing it today along with more bird seed. I have a hungry mob of grackles that came by yesterday afternoon and they're back looking for more, more, MORE!!

I have no idea how the feral kitties are surviving. I waded through (pardon my french) crotch deep snow to get to the back shed, carrying a shovel, a can of cat food, a baggie of dry food and a plate. Found a small area that I shoveled out but if she was under there, she didn't make a sound when I called her. I left the plate close to the opening. Also left a small bowl of dry kibble on the front porch last night and this morning it was all gone with little kibbles flung every which way so that must mean a raccoon stopped by.

No photos yet as I'm still in my jammies. I'm quite surprised that I'm feeling no ill effects from all the shoveling yesterday. In fact, my back is feeling quite good! Naproxen rocks!!

Wait! Maybe just one photo...

Manny, Mo, and, no it's Chloe, Oliver and Figaro. I really need to bring my suitcase back down to the basement!

Friday, February 5, 2010

This Could Be The Start of Something Big

If you've been following me on facebook, you know that the DC area is getting into a world of hurt with another snow storm. Not just ANY snowstorm, this could break records. First they were talking about around a foot of snow. Then 12-18 inches. Then 12-24 inches. Now some weather models are saying we could get close to 30 inches!! Oh, and not just snow either, 35-50 mph winds tonight.

I've done as much as I could for the evening regarding a couple of semi-feral strays that come around. I know one stays under my shed out back. I've made sure that one little area will not get covered up and have put a lot of food under the shed. There is also a small insulated dog house on the side of my house under my eaves away from the wind. I also made a canopy from an old bedspread that is hanging over my wicker on the front porch to make sure the food and water doesn't get snowed under.

Now my biggest concern is the electricity going out. This is a very heavy wet snow and we have lots and lots of big trees around here so I'm crossing my fingers and saying prayers tonight. The news folks are also stressing that we need to shovel multiple times so that we are literally not killing ourselves trying to shovel two feet of heavy wet snow.

Taking a break after my first shoveling around 7:30 tonight to take a picture of little Possumlady Place. Hmmm, do I see something or someone in the window?

Can you see little Figaro's black head on the lower right of the window? He was desperate to get out. Not on my watch mister!

Then there's Woody--"Snow, what snow? Could you close the door please, I'm feeling a draft".

Okay, it's 10:00 pm and I'm going out for my second shoveling and last one of the night. Wish me luck!!

11:00 pm update: WHEW! Well, I shoveled over a foot of snow. Luckily my neighbor across the street was also out and he helped me. I just can't imagine what it will be like tomorrow morning. The weather folks have said the heavy stuff is just beginning! The wind is picking up and I saw a flash of light. They did mention the possibility of Thunder snow. The canopy on the porch is not working because the wind is so strong it is blowing snow on all the food and water. I just threw a handful of dry kibble into the little igloo in case Pyewacket makes his way here. Good times....good times

I'm taking a naproxen and calling it a night.

Feb 6, 6:30 am update
To quote Christopher Walken as "the Continental" -- "Wow, wowee, wow, wow, wow! The good news is I still have electricity!!! The bad news is that it is STILL snowing like mad and the wind is blowing like crazy. I had my first really good belly laugh of the day as I opened the front door. Of course, the outside kitties made a bee line for the front porch. They all stopped dead in their tracks on the snowy porch floor and looked at me like "what the #%$@!! Then Chunky Lisa led them down the front steps. At the bottom she almost disappeared into the snow. She had a hard time trying to get going but she almost flew back up the front stairs and back into the house as did the other three. I promise to have my camera at the ready next time. Will keep you updated with photos throughout the day (what the heck else can I do, except for shoveling of course!!)
9:30 am update

I went out around 7:30 for my 3rd shoveling. Uff da!!

First casualty of the storm--no cable tv!! Boo Hoo. Oh well, with hearing transformers blowing out around me, I should be thankful I still have power. Hearing on the radio that over 200,000 are now without.

My polar bear flag looks quite appropriate, no?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Farewell Butterstick

We here in the DC area have heavy hearts this week as we say goodbye to our Panda Tai Shan. Tai Shan will be flown back to China today (by Federal Express no less).

(photo capture of a video from The Washington Post)

Tai Shan was born in 2005 at the National Zoo. They had a panda cam set up and I was a faithful follower of him for that first year. Chinese tradition dictates that 100 days have to pass before naming a panda cub. So when a caretaker at the zoo described the cub after he was born as being "about the size of a butterstick", the name Butterstick stuck as a local pet name for him.

The National Zoo had an internet poll where everyone could vote for their favorite name for the cub out of five that were approved by the Chinese government. (There was an actual write in vote for the name Butterstick, by the Chinese government did NOT approve.) Most of the names meant "magnificent warrior" or "dragon warrior", etc. Tai Shan meant "peaceful mountain" and I immediately voted for that name. I happened to be in Churchill, Manitoba watching polar bears at the time when the Zoo was going to announce the name. As soon as I got settled, I searched around town for a computer so I could find out and was thrilled they chose Tai Shan as his name.

Tai Shan's first snow in 2005

Here he is as a big boy looking like he is playing a bamboo flute in 2007.

So, farewell Butterstick. Even though you are going back to your homeland, you will always be a native DC'er. Live long and multiply.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Routines

Everyone who has ever had more than one companion animal knows that each one is unique in their personalities and routines. When a companion animal dies, their daily household routine goes with them.

I, like my cats, crave routine. My morning and evening rituals pretty much revolve around taking care of all my animal charges. When I wake up, my bed is usually filled with a few cats. But they are off the bed as soon as I am and into the living room, stretching, yawning, and scratching. After I get all the cats happy with more food, clean water, clean litterboxes, I settle down into the couch listening to my classical radio station and get online for a while to read the news of the day. When it's time to get ready for work, I move back to my bedroom and teeny tiny bathroom that is inside my bedroom.

Since he was adopted, Butterball always padded back into the bedroom with me and kept me company while I was showering, getting dressed, etc. I would always spend a little time on the bed with him either giving him loads of pats and belly scritches, or playing catch with a wadded piece of paper. Since Butterball's death in early 2008, I've gotten ready for work alone. No other cat has stepped up to the plate to keep me company. I was so lonely after a few months of this, I would go into the living room and carry a cat back with me trying to get it to stay in the bedroom. No such luck. That is, until now. For the past month or so, Chunky Lisa has been in the bedroom lying at the foot of my bed, either casually snoozing or watching me.

No, she doesn't play catch or scratch my back, but she sure does purr up a storm.