Bathtub Dwelling Critters and Other Creatures

Going from living in a condo in the canyon to a cottage by the sea, despite the positive move, has tested my temperament. Some of the characteristics that I love about this place can be exasperating.   During the summer months after the move, the ocean breeze blew in dust particles from dirt yard, even with the windows shut because these vintage French windows and doors don’t completely seal when closed. I felt like all I did was dust, sweep and vacuum cobwebs.   Let it go, I told myself after feeling the calluses building up in my palms. Take a lesson from Lexington and Bobcat, who delighted in rolling around in the dirt yard after clawing what little dried-up patches of grass existed.

Great, now I have to dust off the cats…

Before the dust, dirt and cobwebs got on my last nerve; there were the mysterious black specks in the bathtub. At first glance I thought the specks were dirt and washed them down the drain. But the “dirt” returned; black specks scattered on the tub floor, some stuck to the inner sides of the tub and a few scattered on the glass block wall facing the tub. Before each shower, I washed the black specks away, but they always came back. I started to suspect that the black specks were not dirt, but what else could they be? My friend Wendy came over to help me unpack on day four of living in the cottage. I showed her the black specks in the bathtub. Wendy examined the specks and after a few seconds announced: “One moved!” “WHAT?” I put on my glasses for a closer look to see that the round specks had tiny legs. Lovely…I had bathtub bugs. My lease had a legally mandated disclosure about bed bugs, but said nothing about bathtub bugs.

But the joys of cottage living far outweigh the frustrations, and the frustrations have strengthened my character.

Bobcat watching the bunny from a distance

The yard is now a verdant meadow of grass and three-leaf clovers, and a stop along the way for rabbits looking for something to nibble.  One brave rabbit hopped its way up to the porch. The cats, who’d never before seen a rabbit, were noses to the window, fixated on the cute little creature.

Melodious chirps and tweets of songbirds in the trees and perched on the old picket fence posts serenade me every morning. The other day a red-tailed hawk landed on the lattice entry gate to the side yard patio, looked me in the eye through the windows then gracefully flew off.

And at night, I fall asleep to the eerie screech of a barn owl who lives in one of the king palm trees. These furry and feathered visitors arouse the cats’ hunting instincts, keeping them entertained. And I feel like we’ve moved to an enchanted forest from a classic Disney movie.

As for the bathtub bugs…they are gone for good. Thank you, Terminix.

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Cat Lady in the Cottage – New Beginnings

“Our house is a very, very, very fine house / With two cats in the yard…”

Lyrics from “Our House” by Graham Nash

The dark hardwood floor could barely be seen under all the boxes, which besides cluttering the floor space, scaled the French doors that opened to the back of the cottage. “Where was everything going to fit?” said an anxious voice inside my head as I surveyed the dollhouse of a house I was moving into. And I still had two last loads to fetch—Lexington and Bobcat. I hoped they would fit in here, in this new world away from the comforts of their spacious condo in the canyon. How would they fair living in a space less than half its size?

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By the time I returned with the cats, the movers had unloaded everything from the moving trucks and were organizing the boxes into a tidy maze. Don, the owner of the moving company helped me unload my precious cat cargo from the car. He put the carriers in what little space was left in the living room, I graciously thanked him for his hard work and he was on his way. That was it. After a grueling eleven hours of moving, the kitties and I were in our new home—a tiny Laguna Beach cottage built in 1922, complete with a porch, a yard, a picket fence and peek-a-boo ocean view.

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I opened the doors of the carriers containing the cats, cooing to calm them, “Kitties, my sweeties, welcome to your new home!” They both cautiously stepped out onto the area rug that was once in my former dining room, now in my new living room. Lexington casually sniffed boxes and investigated all three rooms—bedroom, living/dining room and bathroom, then reclined on the hardwood floor by the kitchen. He nonchalantly looked up at me. “Sooo…what do ya think Lex?” “It’s cool, Mom. I like it,” said the look on his face. Meanwhile, a leery Bobcat hid under the sofa. “Hey, Bobbycat, come on, it’s okay, “ I coaxed. He slowly crept out from under the slipcover and jumped up onto the piano in front of the windows to get a look outside. Satisfied with the sight of his new yard adorned with king palms and patches of grass, he settled in on the perch of his cat tree.

Life’s plans don’t always pan out the way we want them to. After living in apartments for all my life until I reached midlife, I finally bought my first home. The townhouse style condo was mine, all mine and I loved it. It was my forever home; yet after eleven years and unexpected financial hardship, I came to the hard conclusion that the only way to gain financial stability was to sell. The sale went fast and I got above asking price. My wonderful realtor, Cherie Phan, also negotiated the rental of this charming little house for me.

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Surrendering to a tough realization that I initially fought with all my might turned out to be the very best course of action for me.  It’s hard to let go of things that we become so attached to—the walls that harbored so many sweet and sorrowful events, moments and memories. The countless tears I shed as I downsized and packed-up have finally dried as I settle into this vintage abode in which I will experience newfound happiness and peace, and in which I will make new memories.

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Photo courtesy of Wendy Fox

And how are the cats doing, you ask?

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New places to perch

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New places to lounge

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That is the biggest scratching post ever!

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Sports activities in the yard

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Gardener Lexington

Stay tuned…

Moving tips: I used a Feliway (a feline calming solution) diffuser in the condo days before moving and one in the new home on moving day.  I also sprayed the cat carriers with Feliway and sprayed the new home with Convivial House Cat (anti-stress solution) by Cat Faeries. I kept this routine going for a couple of weeks for a harmonious and seamless adjustment.  (Note that the kitties are only permitted outside during the day under my supervision, and are disciplined at staying in the yard.)

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Photo courtesy of Wendy Fox

Posted in Cats, Cottage, Feline Behavior, Laguna Beach, Moving, Moving with Cats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Signs and Synchronicity

There’s a message in the wild / And I’m sending you this signal tonight…”
Lyrics from “Missing You” by John Waite

I look up from whisking a couple of eggs I’m about to scramble for breakfast on Sunday morning, my gaze lingers down the hallway and onto the deck to see Lexington relaxing on the chaise lounge. An Alison Krauss CD is playing in the living room, and the moment I hear the lyrics, “I ain’t missing you at all, since you’ve been gone away…” she sings in a duet with John Waite is when I see Lexington, and for a second, I see Topper next to him. I blink. Topper’s gone.

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The defiant lyrics of self-protective denial after lost love ring true as I subconsciously trick myself into believing that Topper is still here. I ain’t missin’ you Topper, because you’re not really gone.

IMG_7125After breakfast, I checked-out Instagram and the first thing I saw was a post by musician Adam Lasher to which someone made a comment referring to his cockatiel named Topper. Hmmm. Coincidence….? I think to myself.

Later on Sunday, it was almost twilight as I drove down Laguna Canyon Road to meet my friend Lori at The Cliff for a view of the sunset and a glass of wine when the car driving next to me sped-up causing me to see its license plate, which included the letters PAW. I smiled, thinking how cute that license plate has the word, “paw” in it! I glanced over to oncoming traffic, all the beach-goers heading home and I see another license plate, which among its numeric identification included the letters PAW. Seriously? Seeing the word “paw” in two different license plates within three seconds of each other must be some kind of sign, I muttered to myself.  As the sun went down, Lori and I pondered the possible meaning of the “double-paw” sign. We came up with a few ideas: my strong animal—particularly cat connection; feline finger-gunning (paw-paw); a reminder that horses also call to my soul and that I must get back to riding lessons someday—no wait, that would be a “hoof-hoof” sign, I said. We cracked-up laughing as we attempted to crack the case of the mysterious “double paw” license plate sign.

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This morning as the synchronistic events lingered in my mind, it hit me: maybe the “double-paw” sign was another way of Topper getting through to me; his way of saying hello and comforting me, letting me know that he’s still around, just in a different way.

Hey, Top Cat, I am missing you, a lot, even though I’m starting to adjust to your departure.

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Keep the signs coming, Love Bug.

Posted in animal empathy, Cats, Grieving, Music, Pet Loss, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments