If Cats Spoke English

My cat Olive is sick. One day a few weeks ago, I noticed that her back legs were weak and she was sometimes sliding or walking bow-legged. There were no other signs that she was in pain. I thought that she might have diabetes, since that’s a common disease among older cats.

Well, her bloodwork came back fine, so the next step was to see a neurologist. The neurologist examined her and came to the conclusion that something is probably wrong with her spine; maybe a tumor is pressing on it.

But I’ll never know what is wrong with her, because it costs thousands of dollars to have an MRI done. I feel like a bad mom, but I don’t have that kind of money. What makes this decision a little less distressing are the facts that she is 17 years old and has lived a healthy life up until now. So, for now, I am giving her some medication that will help decrease inflammation.

She is acting normally otherwise, but I do wonder if she is in any pain. Cats are great at masking pain (an evolutionary trait). If only she spoke English, she could respond to my query, “What is your level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced.”

I’ve had Olive for almost her entire life. She’s a complicated girl (read: semi-feral and engages in unprovoked attacks), but she has been the best companion she could be. She’s like the family member who is sometimes a thorn in your side, but you love them anyway.

I’m enjoying every day I have left with her before she crosses the rainbow bridge.

cat sitting on counter at the vet

Olive at a vet appointment

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Sunshine State

I went to Florida in March and it was GLORIOUS.

I attended a conference in “St. Pete” as the locals say, and then my boyfriend Allen met me and we spent a few days in his hometown of Tampa. I had never been to these lovely cities before, so I did many new things. Here are the two that made the birthday list:

  1. Eat a devil crab.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, Allen shared his fervent love of devil crabs, which can only be found in Florida. As he spoke, I would nod my head as I pictured us eating crab meat out of a shell…as one would with a mussel or oyster.

I searched for restaurants that served devil crabs and came across a place that ended up being a trolley alongside a highway. We decided to check it out because it was named Seabreeze, which was the name of a seafood restaurant that Allen and his family frequented during his childhood. It turned out that it was the same family of owners; the restaurant was torn down for an undisclosed reason and now the husband and wife sell live devil crabs and also serve cooked ones out of a trolley.

Imagine my surprise when I was handed my devil crabs:

 

 

 

 

 

 

What? They looked like potatoes! But they were, in fact, balls of shredded crab meat in some kind of red sauce and breaded. That’s hot sauce in the plastic container. Once I got over the surprise factor, I enjoyed these tasty breaded balls of fish.

We had devil crabs again at Brocato’s. The breading was completely different but the inside tasted the same.

Cuban sandwich, black beans and rice, and devil crabs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Visited Big Cat Rescue sanctuary

When I’m planning a trip, I always check TripAdvisor for recommendations. Big Cat Rescue is #4 of 196 things to do in Tampa. I am a cat person and love all animals, so I added the sanctuary to our itinerary. Visitors go on a guided walking tour with a staff member. There are more than 80 cats at the sanctuary, so we walked around to see who was out and about. We were given ear buds and an audio device, so whenever we came across a cat, the staff member would play us that cat’s story.

We saw at least 20 cats. They were all beautiful and they all had heartbreaking stories. The cats come from all over the country. Usually they’ve been kept in horrible conditions and have become sick, etc. Many were in shoddy circuses or were kept as exotic pets.

The cats seemed very well taken care of at Big Cat Rescue. They even get to  go “on vacation” a few times per year in a large area that’s designated for vacationers. The organization is also involved in advocacy, which is wonderful. If you’re ever in Tampa, I highly recommend a visit here. I’ll leave you with a few of the dozens of photos I took of the cats…

 

 

Books and Cats

I’ve been wanting to visit Portland, Oregon, for years. I knew that I would love it, but it would be an expensive trip and I would have to take at least a week off from work. And I tend to take all of my big vacations in England, my second home.

Well, the stars aligned earlier this year and my vice president agreed to pay for me to attend a conference in Portland in April. Not only would I be attending my first American Copy Editors Society conference, but I would also have the opportunity to explore a city that I knew I would be smitten with.

The conference was great. I was surrounded by hundreds of people who cared about grammar and spelling and proper usage of words. There were entire sessions on dictionaries, a spelling bee, and a formal dinner at which the keynote speaker used images of Grumpy Cat during her speech.

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But, this post is about birthday list items. I did a number of things I’ve never done before, but the two most important ones were:

  1. Walked the aisles of the world’s largest bookstore = Powell’s Books

Powell's Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

I only managed to carve out one hour to spend at Powell’s, but it was a glorious hour. There are so many sections that whole wings of the store are color coded. Luckily I found an information desk early on and an employee told me where to find the travel and music sections. I was half giddy and half teary eyed throughout the experience. I left with a happy heart and gratitude toward Portlanders for supporting this store.

2. Visited a cat café

I’ve been obsessed with cat cafés for a few years now. I don’t remember how I first heard about them, but I’ve known about the cat cafés in San Francisco, London, and Montreal for a while. I met a number of people from Montreal at a conference in January, and our introductions went something like this:

Me: Hi, I’m Nancy. I work at xx.

Montrealer: Hi, I’m xx. I work at xx.

Me: That’s great! Have you been to either of the cat cafés??

Only one Montrealer was aware that the cat cafés existed, and she hadn’t visited it.

So my friend Kara whom I met in Boston lives in Portland now, and she graciously played host during my sightseeing days. She offhandedly mentioned that there was a cat café in Portland and a record scratch went off in my head. “Can we go???” I pleaded.

She said, “Sure!” And so we found ourselves at Purringtons on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Purringtons

Major life goal realized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We bought tea and then paid a fee to hang with the kitties for an hour. There were six kitties and some were napping or unenthused by our presence. But we were able to get some good pets in. This cat was a lover.

IMG_1377

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fun experience, and I look forward to visiting other cat cafés in the future…

This post is long enough, but I just have to mention the other wonderful things that Portland offers:

Beer, donuts, coffee, culture, nice people, and a startlingly amount of natural beauty.

If it were about 2,500 miles closer, I would move there in a heartbeat.

Hoyt Arboretum

Redwoods in Hoyt Arboretum

You Have Too Many Mag Subscriptions…

…when you go through your magazine pile and find one that is almost a year old:

 

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Benedict has been waiting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I’ve already received a new magazine subscription for Christmas! New Year’s resolution: Make more time to read…

Well, I have one day left of work and then it’s holiday break time. Hope you are all having a lovely holiday season. I was going through some old photos the other day and came across these pics of my childhood cats.

Kitty and Kiwi were the best cats ever (don’t tell Olive). They were very chill and great sports.

Happy Holidays!

Kitty

Kitty

 

 

Lil Bro with Kiwi

Lil Bro with Kiwi

Baby Animals and Lion Hugs

It’s raining baby animals at the animal shelter where I volunteer and I can’t stand it! I’ll start with the most exciting baby animal:

Baby guinea pig

Pup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep, a baby guinea pig. Apparently called a pup. My brother and I had a guinea pig named Patches when we were kids. Unfortunately, I have a feeling she was not long for the world under our care. Mom, do you remember?

Kittens?

Kittens?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to this website, baby rabbits are called kittens? Whaaa… We also had a rabbit, named Bunny, who either froze to death in her outdoor hutch or Grandma left her hutch door open so she escaped. Mom and I remember different final chapters of Bunny’s life.

THESE are kittens.

THESE are kittens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kittens! So cute, but so much work. We had two kittens while growing up, Tiger (whom we immediately started calling Kitty after we named him Tiger) and Kiwi. I don’t remember all of the work, probably because Mom was doing all of it.

THESE are pups.

THESE are pups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are three or four other pups hiding in the back there. So adorable. Well, I seem to have turned this post into a history of my childhood pets, so might as well mention Pooka. I didn’t know her when she was a pup. She was middle-aged by the time I was old enough to understand what a dog was. She was cute, but I don’t remember playing with her much. All I recall is her limping around the house and peeing on the living room rug a lot.

Soooo…while we are on the topic of animals, let’s look at some videos of lions hugging people. Just because I am obsessed with the story of Christian the Lion.  If you haven’t seen the viral video of Christian the Lion, grab some tissues. Every time I watch this video, I practically break down in sobs.

Recently, a friend showed me this video of a lion hugging a woman who rescued him and nursed him back to health.

And then I came across this lion whisperer chap, Kevin Richardson:

Isn’t it incredible to watch these huge predators return the love they received from these humans? You needed the tissues, right??

 

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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