The Shadow, Renamed…

Most people my age have had numerous pets of their own, and also have had their children’s pets to contend with. In addition to that, I have a soft heart for strays of all kinds and have successfully passed the gene on to my daughters. I have grandpets. I truly know the joys and sorrows of pet ownership. Most people my age could live very well without any more pets, thank you.

But there was this small cat, barely out of its kitten hood, that my brother and his wife found. It was under their car as they were leaving a graduation party this spring, mewing pitifully. It was skinny, wet and cold, probably hungry. And it was black. For some reason, being black is a strike against a cat. They are least likely to get adopted once they are abandoned. My brother tried but could not find the owner and since the cat was overwhelmingly friendly, they took it home.

More than that, they had their vet look the little creature over and give it some drops for its eyes and an appointment to be spayed. It was litter trained already and acted grateful for a warm bed, food and people petting it.

This is where I came in, thinking that the husband might enjoy having a cat to pet and take care of. He’s retired and spending a lot of time at home without much to do. He’s gotten attached to cats in the past. It seemed reasonable. And the first few days, when the cat was tired and half starved, were peaceful days. And then it got frisky.

Now, several months later, I am very much reminded of what cats do. I have wiped up mounds of semi-digested cat food from the carpet. I have awakened in the middle of the night to find the cat sleeping on my chest. I have taken to smelling any pile of laundry left on the floor for the all too familiar odor of cat pee. I frequently walk around the house feeling like the cat is tied to my leg with string, trying not to trip over it. I sneak to doors and try to get through them before the cat hears me. I could go on – you’ve all heard about cats, if not experienced them yourselves.

So Shadow, as my niece named her before I took her, finally got well enough to keep her surgery appointment. We thought she might be in heat because of the way she kept running to open windows and trying to get through the screens. It was hard keeping her inside. I was glad she was getting spayed.

The vet called later that morning. “You have a very lively cat”, he told me. “She’s unusually active (which made me wonder what kind of fun they had anesthetizing her) and it took a little longer than we had anticipated. Oh, and by the way, we couldn’t find any female organs. She must have been spayed already. We looked extensively to make sure so she’s going to be pretty sore for a while.”

She was. There were a few more peaceful days until she had recovered somewhat. I cautiously let her go outside to sit in the sun. That’s what I would have liked to do if I were a cat. I would leave the sliding doors to the patio open just enough for her to squeeze through. She was definitely an indoor/outdoor kind of cat, who loved both worlds. She came running when I called her and loved to nap inside, but was just as eager to get out again.

It wasn’t long after that when I realized what she was doing outside. She was hunting. One morning I found a mostly dead mole, inside the house. I found him by following the trail of blood spatters on the floor and wall. It had to have been a tortuous way to go. This was followed in short order by several frogs who also bled and lost body parts. I got suspicious of her antics any time she seemed to be having fun “playing” with something.

I knew her skill was increasing one day when she brought in a bird. She had it cornered under a bookshelf and I was able to rescue it. It was so tiny and had a numb, dazed look in its eyes. I took it outside, wondering what to do with it, when it flew away!! I had saved it! I wish I could have done the same for the next two she caught. But I had to wonder… how is she catching birds?

We were having dinner on the patio one pleasant evening. The cat was also out and we were watching her tear around the lawn. Without hesitating she aimed at a tree and went up it like a squirrel to a fairly high branch. Hugging the dark branch, with leaves all around her, she was hard to see. I think that’s why the large flock of sparrows flew into the tree all around her and perched – poor unsuspecting things. So now we know she doesn’t wait for them to come down. She goes up and gets them.

This brings me to today. This morning Shadow brought in a small grey mouse and let it get away. She was waiting patiently by the couch where it had fled for shelter, waiting for it to come out and play again. I got down on the floor with the flashlight and witnessed it scurrying back and forth, trying to find a safe escape route. Definite mouse panic. I felt sorry for it, but what could I do? I couldn’t get under the couch either.

I don’t know where the mouse is. I came in the living room this afternoon to find the recliner upside down – the one the husband usually sits in. He’s doesn’t know where the mouse is now either, but he’s pretty sure it was in/under the chair. I think we now have two house pets.

Do I hope the cat will catch the mouse? I can’t quite decide. But I am renaming her. I’m calling her Shadow of Death because it fits her very well. Just sayin’…

The Future Starts Now (Scary): A Windows 10 Review

At this point, I think you are very brave talking about the future....
At this point, I think you are very brave talking about the future….

And who better to write a internet technology review than me?  After all, I was one of the lucky few (smirk, smirk) to be offered a free Windows 10 upgrade, not only once, but EVERY time I opened my computer for the last couple of months.  Smarter, faster, more secure… what’s not to like about that?

Evidently Windows 10 is new enough that not many reviews have been written about it.  I couldn’t find any as I was toying with the idea of trying it.  I asked around among my tech savvy friends and no one had any advice to offer.  I didn’t find any help online either.  Finally, just to get rid of the annoying pop-up I agreed to try it.  The marketing lesson here is that if you  badger people long enough they will agree just to get rid of you. But we knew that…

The upgrade was pretty easy since it required nothing of me except for checking boxes that gave permission for me to turn my life over to Microsoft for pretty much anything they wanted to do with it.  I can see that it’s true – they have to know all those details about me in order to know what ads I would appreciate seeing (never) and what movies and news programs I want to watch (not).  Advertising specifically tailored to my needs is very important.  I don’t even remember what I did with my needs before the internet came along.

The initial appearance of my start screen was, well, smaller? Instead of charms spread across the whole screen they were all lined up in a small box on the left of my screen.  I later learned that was desktop mode.  I learned it when I accidentally got in tablet mode and couldn’t find a way back.  You’re thinking “why didn’t she watch the tutorial?”  I watched the little movie.  I watched it every time I encountered a new question.  They were always clicking buttons and tabs that I didn’t have on my screen.  I gave them virtual punches in the face.

After not being able to open my Open Office program for several days I finally adjusted by stopping production of documents.  I was pretty proud of myself for that fix. After a couple weeks of learning my way around and thinking “I can do this” I noticed a weirdness of slow motion taking over my usual online activities.  Not wanting to blame Windows 10 for every interminable black screen, or frozen loss of control episode, I called my computer’s doctor and got a prescription to clean up and check for viruses.  It was about time anyway.

All was well, as I recall, and I was thinking things were moving along a little faster. Truthfully, I don’t remember everything that transpired in proper sequence.  Did I close down and restart before the next problem occurred? Don’t know, but suddenly I’m going nowhere on the internet.  I’m getting a simple message that there are no internet connections available.  That’s happened before.   I turned of the power to the router and rebooted, twice I think.  My cell phone was connecting with wifi, my internet home phone was connecting with wifi, but my computer kept saying there was nothing to connect to.  Liar, liar, circuits on fire.

I spent the rest of yesterday looking for a wifi switch on my computer, looking for Windows 10 help on my cell phone, and having real angst about being so reliant on the elusive cyber world. During my search for Windows 10 connection problems I ran across a note from Microsoft that offered a return to my previous Windows 8.1, which at that point felt kind of like a lost child finally finding mother.  It didn’t occur to me that I would need the internet to bring my mother back.  I clicked.  The screen was black for hours.

I finally decided the computer had turned itself off and was not just working silently in the dark.  I powered up and Windows 8.1 magically loaded itself and all my familiar friends were there and in good health.  Thank you Windows 10 for the experience with smarter, faster and more secure… just sayin’.

What Is That Smell?

“The carpet is dirty.” she told me, wrinkling her nose. She was a prospective renter for a condo we manage.

“No, actually, that’s the color it is.  Multi-color sand and dirt, and it looks pretty good.  We’ll check it out when the furniture is off.” I was able to reassure her, but I could smell it too.  Mild animal odor.

This carpet isn’t that old!  I can’t stand the thought of replacing it again already…aaagghh!

I remember other times being assaulted with an odor as soon as I stepped into a house.  Usually it was the house of an animal lover with indoor pets abounding, or an elderly couple whose days of cleaning up immaculately after kitty were past. This all makes me think of the power of smell to form our opinions, and rather quickly I might add. This is not good news.  For one, the impression left on a prospective renter might mean I have to replace carpet in the condo I was showing.  For two, it means I have to watch out as some people would describe the husband and I as an elderly couple whose days of cleaning up immaculately after kitty are past.

We aren’t that old!!  I clean up after that cat all the time, cat hair, cat puke, cat litter, all of it…

One of these days I will start losing my sense of smell.  It might actually be an old age blessing, I don’t know.  but it’s not happening yet.  Lately every time I walk into my closet from a certain direction (there are two doors) I smell something… something sour, old.and difficult to describe any more concretely.  It’s only there for a few seconds and then it’s gone. I have done housecleaning professionally and following my training I have taken that closet apart, including inspection of all the shoe soles, behind the small dressers and washing the throw rug.  There is nothing there.  I have checked out the air vents. Nothing.  I don’t know where else to check, but the smell is still there.

Did I just tell people that my house stinks?!  I’m making it sound like I live in a barn – that’s just not right.  I shouldn’t write that. 

Lying in bed in the morning, I can tell if the timer on the coffee pot worked. I can walk toward my kitchen and tell immediately if the garbage should have been taken out the night before.  I can tell what it is in the garbage that is announcing itself and almost to the hour how long it has been there. I can tell from the opposite end of the house that the pan cooking whatever on the stove is out of water and working on a burn.  I can tell if the cat has used the litter box (oh, how I can tell!), I can tell if the shirt lying on the dryer is used and on its way to the wash or fresh and on its way to the closet.  I can smell way too much sometimes.

I’m revealing my smell obsession.  Stop it now.

Last night as a friend came to the house to bring me something, we stopped and talked by the dining room table.  I was very nervous to linger there as it was the area of one of my latest mystery smells.  Smelled like rotting chicken.  Really.  Fortunately she was bringing me some essential oils which smell really great.  I will never know whether she decided to demonstrate the difuser out of self defense.  She was too polite to say, and I kept hoping it was just happy coincidence that she chose a nice strong lavender.

Wow, maybe I do live in a barn!  What kind of house cleaner am I?!

When the husband came home from band practice, he smelled it too, and said he had been smelling it for days.  Funny thing, it was coming from his briefcase that he keeps on a chair at the end of the table.  Yeah, the one he takes to work and sometimes he throws his lunch into the side pocket.  Well, what do you know?  There’s still a boiled egg hiding in there from two weeks ago.  Nasty thing.

Gosh, it was rotting chicken.  We are getting so old.  But hey, we found it.  

I ran the difuser all night, right by my bed.  It was great.  I love lavender.

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Please tell me this happens to you too.   Maybe, just once in a while?