A Season of New Things

Spring Has Sprung and So Have the Cats

Our cats are so happy to be released from their long winter’s confinement. We’ve had some lovely weather lately and they’re making the best of it. Other creatures, too, are popping out of hibernation.

Yesterday afternoon I looked out and saw Pookie sitting on his haunches on the lawn, with a magpie facing him about two metres away and another one standing about that far away on his right. Lying between the three of them was the limp body of a full-grown gopher. (Aka, thirteen-striped Richardson ground squirrel.) Whatever it was once known as, the dead critter had become the object of a property dispute.

Magpies are thieves; we see it all the time. If the cats catch something and haven’t eaten it yet, there’s usually a magpie peering hopefully from the garage roof or strutting in the grass nearby. And they often work in pairs. Like: “You distract the cat and I’ll grab the corpse.” Even if there’s no loot magpies often work in teams to torment cats.

So when I saw this standoff I opened the window and shooed the magpies away. With the birds gone Pook went back to playing with the thing awhile, even if it offered no exciting resistance. As soon as he got tired of the game and wandered off the magpie was back, snatching bites of the prize, which Pook didn’t tolerate. He rushed back to reclaim the gopher, then a few minutes later our black cat Angus sauntered up and began gnawing on it. Pook went back to wait beside the gopher hole for another one to pop out. Poor gophers. It’s a hard life at the bottom of the food chain.

Angus likely caught the thing in the first place. Pook is a bit of a thief himself. As I said in an earlier post, he’s an invasive species; he has this habit of pushing his nose into whatever interesting meal Angus is eating and slowly takes over the dish. Or mouse. Or whatever. Anyway, an hour later all trace of the victim was gone, so I imagine whatever remains remained when Angus left the magpies snatched.

Tuesday en route to the city we saw ducks in the ponds. This morning my husband opened the window and heard a meadowlark singing. Bliss! I went outside a bit later and heard the honking of a goose. I looked up and saw a line of snow geese headed by what looked like a Canada goose and he was the cheerleader. So spring has returned to our land.

A New Home for My Stuff

Since spring’s a time of beginning again, I’m going to catch that wave and move to a new blog home.

I’ve been contemplating this for awhile, wanting to bring all my writings under one roof but not quite sure how. I shut down Swallow in the Wind a few months back, but still have Christine Composes for my fiction, plus this site. Now I’m going to bring all my writing to Christine’s Collection’s new home. I contemplated a major renovation, but the categories and tags on my posts would all need reworking to fit the new plan. Easier to start from scratch, I decided.

I’ve had a “spare” private blog for a couple of years, using it to test out new themes before going to all the work of installing them on my public sites. Last week I enlisted the help of Bruce at WordPress Support and he’s been guiding me through this move, bless his heart.

Bruce says it’s no problem to switch the domain name for both active sites so that anyone who types in christinegoodnough.com or christine composes.com will land up there. All subscribers from both sites will be switched to the new one. And I will only have one better-organized blog to contend with. This sounds great to me now, given my health issues.

So I’ve been going back and forth for a few days now, carrying and unpacking a few files, scheduling future posts and generally preparing the site for visitors. I’m delighted with the new look, though I’m sticking with this basic layout. I’ve learned how to build Categories into the main menu, now my category “closets” are easily accessible and every genre will have its proper place in the grand scheme.

I thought I’d give you this heads-up a week or so before I do the final move and open the new site for public viewing. But the only difference you’ll find is that this current site will revert back to the pre-domain address of christinegoodnough.wordpress.com, so if you want to check out some post in these archives you’ll need to type in that address. Christine Composes will go back to christineevelynvance.wordpress.com.

Pookie: Our Feline Invasive Species

Right from our first encounter with Pookie, we knew he was a different sort of cat. We’d never laid eyes on him before we opened the door one night to let Angus in and this white Siamese-looking kitten walked right in, too, totally without an invitation. this was about three years ago — and he’s been here ever since.

pookie

Pixabay photo

We live on an acreage a quarter of a mile from the highway. So where did this little kitten come from and how did he get to our back door? And why did he walk right into a stranger’s home? Our first thought was that someone dropped him off, yet we could tell he wasn’t used to being handled. He moved freely around the house, he was friendly if we petted him, but he didn’t like being picked up.

Our stray kitten from the year before, Angus, had settled in nicely and grown up. Angus is all black, so I named him after the Angus cattle we see so much of, but he’s very Siamese in nature, nervous and yowly. Very much a one-person cat and I’m his person. He loves to be beside me or curled on my lap. He sits outside the bathroom door when i’m taking a bath, that kind of thing.

He also loves to go exploring in the woods beside up and is a great mouser, ratter, gopher-er. Anyway, the day Pookie came Angus had been out in the woods and I’d observed him watching something intently. Then in the evening he went out again and when we called him in, here came this kitten not far behind him.

It was a cool fall evening and the kitten spent the night here, but the next day he headed off to the next-door neighbour’s farm yard. He came back in the evening again and spent another night then left again for the day. This pattern continued for several weeks.

We knew this cat didn’t belong to our neighbours, but they told us they’d noticed a pale-colored Siamese-type mother cat around in the summertime, sheltering under one of their old farm sheds. So we concluded she’d had this kitten and he was visiting her in the daytime. But he knew a good thing when he felt it, so he came back here where it’s warm to spend his nights. Then winter set in and we had a really cold snap; after that Pookie stayed here all day. As near as we could tell, he never went back to the neighbour’s yard so we concluded that his mother had either perished in the cold or moved on to some warmer place.

We decided he’s got lynx-point Siamese genes and the characteristic blue eyes, but he’s very docile in nature. He was so pale and when I got up in the night for something he’d kind of drift along the hallway after me, so I took to calling him Spooky, but later we decided on an official name: Pookie. He liked to be near us or on our lap, but always on his terms. He did NOT like being picked up.

We were initially going to give him away after having him treated and neutered. (It’s pretty hard to give away an un-neutered cat.) But that didn’t happen; he just stayed and wormed his way into our lives and affection.

Pookie’s always been the quiet one of our three, never fussing openly with our other two. Still, every now and then our other male, Angus, will eye him suspiciously as he drifts by and next thing we hear this squawk and Angus is dashing off. Angus is a nervous cat to begin with, but Pookie is a sneak. Angus will be sleeping peacefully and suddenly Pookie pounces, nips at him, and Angus dashes away. Or off they both go. The peace between them is always tenuous, but it’s Angus that does the protesting.

Often when I’m sitting in the recliner after dinner, trying to grab forty winks, Angus, our black male, will get up on my lap and settle down for some quiet repose. But before long Pookie comes along and gets up in my lap, too, then proceeds to park himself in front of Angus and silently take over. He either shoves Angus over so far that Angus leaves, or Angus is nervous enough that he leaves for fear of being pestered by Pookie. Thus Pookie ends up with my whole lap to himself.

When one of the other cats is eating and Pookie isn’t, he’ll sniff at the other cat’s dish, closer and closer, until he has his head into the dish. Panda, our Queen Bee of the cats, a hefty 14-year-old black Maine Coon, won’t tolerate Pookie’s invasive moves, and he knows he can’t push her around. But poor Angus lets himself be shoved out and wanders off. Pookie likes to go out hunting as much as Angus does, but I’ve observed he’s apt to snitch Angus’s mouse rather than get his own.

And when he is left outside, he never cries or scratches to be let in. He sits quietly waiting until you notice him. Bob says he accomplishes his requests by mental telepathy. He sits and looks at the door and you get the message to open it for him. 🙂

Perhaps the way Pookie most makes a pest of himself is by hogging my office chair. I may only leave the computer long enough to make a cup of coffee, but when I come back Pookie’s curled up in my chair. I may dump him off a dozen times in an afternoon and he makes no protest when evicted — but quietly leaps back in the minute I get up and makes a furry puddle of himself on the chair until I get back again.

Anyway, now that I have my chair back again for awhile, I’ll post this about him.

Welcome vs Irksome

Though our mornings are usually frosty, the snow of late September is long forgotten here in Sask. November is starting out unseasonably mild for us; Saturday was not only warm and sunny, it was a record high for these parts, beating the high in 1948. I was happy to get at some neglected housekeeping and was outside on my ladder cleaning the kitchen windows. Seeing the weather is supposed to remain quite warm all week I hope to clean more windows.

Today our sunny afternoon was perfect for a walk, though the wind is cool. I made it to the railroad track and back — which isn’t so very far but I can always do this trek again. Every little bit counts toward getting my energy back after my chemo-therapy.

We’ve had a special treat this past month as three blue jays have made our woods their home. They come to check out the bird feeder every morning and several times during the day. Since our feeder is built for smaller birds, I spread seeds on the ground to accommodate them even further. They’re rather noisy at times but we love their colors brightening up the yard and they must realize they’re welcome, for they aren’t easily frightened away..

Today’s daily prompt word is irksome, which brings to mind thoughts of the gluttonous magpies that also show up whenever seeds are offered. One night I spread feed on the ground for the early morning arrival of the jays and the next morning saw 7 or 8 magpies polishing it off. Grrr… They make a big mess rooting through the hanging feeder, too. Seeking their favorite nuts and seeds, tossing everything else to the four winds, they can empty a feeder in short order. Grrr again! A blue jay’s call may be screechy, but magpies have a combination squeal/grunt/oink that sounds like a bunch of pigs are biting each others’ tails.

Cats find magpies irksome because magpies love to tease and torment cats, also to steal their catches. I’ve seen magpies prancing a couple of metres in front of a cat trying to lure it into a chase, especially if the cat’s just killed a mouse. The birds often work in a team; one magpie tries to distract or irritate the cat, inviting a chase so the other can gab the mouse.

One day some years back I saw two magpies teasing our big fluffy cat, Panda, in the back yard. I watched as one bird strutted a metre in front of her while the other snuck up behind and grabbed at her twitching tail. She whipped around to face that one and the bird in front edged closer, wanting to pull at her ears. And those brutes have pretty vicious beaks!

Magpies know people find them irksome. As soon as you show your face and make a few motions they’re off into the trees. Folks say the crafty birds can spot a gun barrel half a km away and they don’t stick around to see what you’re aiming at. I’ve many times threatened to get a rifle and learn how to shoot magpies, but I’m a timid sort and fear for my windows, car tires, etc.

On a cheerier note, I see this blog has its 500th follower. Ta-da! Welcome! I appreciate everyone who drops by to read my posts and to express a LIKE — and special I thanks to all 500 of you who FOLLOW my posts.

Border Confrontations

Two tomcats meet on my fence;
in a fanfaronade of frizzled fur
they dispute who owns this particular
property. Tails lash, eyes flash fire
as they hash it out –
militants defending
self-defined borders,
crouched to spring or flee.
After prolonged discussion one
bows to superior yowl power,
cedes territory grudgingly.
You silly cats!
I own this place.
But neither one asks my opinion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wrote this poem long ago but it seems quite suitable for the today’s Word Press prompt word: border.

In actual fact the wailing I’m hearing from our cats today is not about territory. It’s about wanting to go outside, but unhappy about having to wade through snow. Oh, well. Our world is still white, but the temperature is warming up and we’re supposed to see a few really nice days now. So the cats will get a little reprieve before winter returns for a long, long stay.

I’ve been reading the news about Hurricane Matthew, which is likely battering the Florida coast as I type this. Here’s wishing all of you who are facing this storm a lot of courage. I pray everyone has found a safe place and is already there. My heart goes out to the poor folks in the south of Haiti; they really got a bashing.

Summer Sunshine

It’s a beautiful summer day here on the prairies, warm but not really hot. I’m hearing the hum of our riding mower as I’m typing this; hubby has decided this is great weather for cutting the lawn. I have some sewing lined up and want to start working on that shortly, but first a long-overdue post to let you know things are going fairly well right now.

I wrote about my chemo consequences last Thursday when I was feeling pretty down about it all. Then Friday morning I woke up feeling much improved, had more energy, was able to stay on my feet and get something done for a change. Perhaps my body was finally getting a grip on the side effects and/or perhaps my improvement was the result of prayers offered on my behalf. Whatever the case, I’ve sure been thankful for the better week I’ve had. Thanks for your prayers everyone.

I’m booked for a ST scan tomorrow afternoon to check the internal effects of the chemo-therapy, to assess how effective its battle has been against the leukemia. In the first CT scan I had they found swollen lymph nodes here and there plus my spleen was enlarged. Hopefully those symptoms will all have disappeared by now. I’ll consult with the doctor next Friday, then #5 treatment is coming up the first week in August.

I still get a really bad taste in my mouth after I eat certain things, and that lingers for about an hour or so. Much worse after certain sweet fatty foods like chocolate, pastries and ice cream. One of my favorites, coffee, tastes awful these days so I’ve replaced it with tea. The foods that work best for me now are things like salads. In fact when I do get a bad taste, I can almost banish it by munching on celery. Maybe my taster has decided to take my dietary preferences to task after all these years of decadence?

Our poor cat, Pookie, has been in recovery mode for the past couple of days. It’s obvious he got into a scrap with something during the night or early yesterday morning, because there was white fur fluffed around on our step. And he came in with a few punctures; since then he’s mostly been flat out on the spare bed or in an office chair.

The prairies have been decked with golden patches now, since the canola fields came into bloom. And the sloughs are filled with waterfowl. One morning we were on our way to the city when, coming up to a large slough beside the highway, we met a Canada goose family out for a stroll on the pavement. Looked like about ten rather ungainly young ones—all neck, it seemed—plus their parents urging them to hurry and get off the road.

I haven’t seen any humming birds at our feeder lately, but several times I’ve seen an oriole slurping away. One morning one large bird must have attacked another in midair not long before I looked out the front window, because there were whitish feathers laying around on the lawn. We looked around but no sign of an injured bird, so who knows. By afternoon a busy little sparrow had gathered these to feather his own nest.

And now I’d best leave off computing and get back to my sewing project. Thanks to all of you who read and follow my scribblings. As I said, I appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers with regard to my health. Wishing you all (in North America) a great evening and readers overseas either a good night or a good morning, as the case may be.