Monday, March 31, 2008

Sometimes the Moment Sucks

After several exhausting days we finally have TP II moved from Oliver to Summerland. Spring seems farther ahead in Summerland, probably because of the influence of Okanagan Lake, which is just at the end of our short street. There are tiny leaves on the trees. However we had snow today for several hours. It didn't stick to the ground but it is quite cool, hovering at the freezing mark.

It's going to take a week or two for me to get things organized properly. In the end things were simply stuffed into cupboards willy-nilly, a shoe and a pie plate side by side, right next to the box of remotes and charging devices. Ask me where anything is and the answer is likely to be, "I know nothing."

We've both done quite well, we had wonderful help from friends and neighbours, but now we are tired and need a few days to rest and regroup.

Unhappily, our attempt to rescue one little cat and add her to our family has ended in dismal failure. She escalated her constant belligerence, from hissing at Sal to attacking him (and he was so patient with her), then she began to be belligerent and aggressive with us, growling when approached or touched at times.

This morning, while she was sitting in my lap, presumably content to be there, she whirled around and attacked me without the slightest warning. She slashed through both my upper and lower lips, and gave me two puncture wounds, one in the cheek, the other just in the middle of my lower lip.

It took a while to staunch the bleeding and I have a very sore mouth and face. We talked and decided we couldn't handle this kind of aggression, especially when it was totally unprovoked. With knew we couldn't put her out on the street, and we certainly couldn't pass her on to another family. With heavy hearts we took her to a nearby vet's and had her euthanized and cremated. It's very sad. Was it her time on her own, having to fight for her life, that turned her into a time bomb, or was she thrown out of a household for this kind of behaviour? We'll never know.

But we did what we could for her. She was warm, well-fed and safe for the last weeks. I wish we could have done more for her, but sometimes problems are beyond your ability to solve and all you can do is what you think is best and try to get through it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yuchi News

Yuchi spent last night at the vets. This morning she was sedated, checked over, brushed out, dematted and vaccinated. She did not have the "kitty-make-no-babies" surgery because (praise be to the benfit of my slim purse!) she has already had that operation! (insert John Phillip Souza march *here*!)

Knowing that we won't be into the new trailer for another couple of days I went over to the pet store before I picked her up and bought a larger sized crate, one large enough for her to stand and walk around and also hold a small litter box.

She slept the first few hours she was home. She ate a couple of small meals and used her litter box. She wanted out of the crate so we let her out. She sniffed around, explored a bit and then called Sal a couple of rude names. She became belligerant so we decided to return her to the crate. Well! She got right snarly! It took some fancy footwork to get her back into the crate.

Over the next hour she grumped and snarled and growled enough for three cats her size. Apparently she is not impressed with the idea of being a house cat. She seems to feel that being fed and left to run wild in the neighborhood is just fine!
Sorry kitty. I know this will take some getting used to, but you are an indoor girl now.

Sal is being a perfect gentleman, but he is anxious. He snuggled up to me after we'd gotten her back in the crate and he was trembling. Poor big cream puff. He wants to be her friend so badly and she is acting just like a poop. Hopefully she will settle down within the next few days. It's a big adjustment for her, and she's probably feeling a little cranky from the vaccines, the sedation and the thorough going over she had. At least I hope her temperament isn't this bad normally!

On the moving front; Gary spent about four hours on TP II today, and says he'll be here first thing tomorrow morning to finish the job. We ought to be able to spend tomorrow night in TP II. This could be our last night in the Tinpalace! sniff (But not a sob, you note.)

I love this little trailer. It's cute as a bug's ear and has been lots of fun to live in, but the new one will be like a mansion, with its bathtub and washing machine. I promise pictures once we are settled and everything is in place. Right now it's wall-to-wall tools and boxes.

We lose our internet connection tomorrow and won't reconnect until after we are moved, so bye for now, and may peace of mind be your constant companion.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Strength of Ten!

In the last 20 years I could probably count the days when I've felt as if I had perfectly "normal" strength on the fingers of one hand. Not that I feel ill, but I consistently deal with enough muscle weakness to complicate even simple tasks. It varies. Some days I do well, others I must do "quiet" things and plan to do more active tasks another day.

Today was one of those rare and wonderful days when I felt strong! I was up at 7:00 am and barely stopped all day. I went to town and ran a half-dozen errands, shopped for groceries, did a murderously painful massage on a neighbour who was in misery from head to foot, and in general had a great time.

About lunchtime I cleaned Sal's carrier, and put in a little box with litter and a soft towel inside it. When Miss Yuchi cat showed up for her lunch I put the food dish inside the carrier. She zipped right in. I closed the door behind her and I became the Mama of a second kitty.

She has obviously been in a carrier before, as she ate her lunch, gave a few pokes at the door and then laid down and went to sleep. At 4:00 I loaded her into the truck and took her to the vet's. She was very calm, didn't mind the ride at all, was sweet and cooperative at the vet's and weighs a hefty seven pounds! She should. She's eaten 20 pounds of canned cat food in the past two weeks.

She will get a full exam, vaccinations, the ping-pong ball size matts cut out of her coat and the "Kitty-make-no-babies" operation. I thought she was pregnant at first, but now I am not so sure. She hasn't gotten any bigger in the tummy. She may have already been spayed. That would be a plus. She obviously has been someone's well-loved baby at some point. I do wish she could say something more than middow-middow-middow. (Must be a Buddhist cat, advocating the Middle Way.)

Over at Tinpalace II the new sink is at least in the bathroom. It's not hooked up but it is there. We want to move Thursday morning, so Gary has one more day to:

1) plumb the sink
2) plumb and reset the toilet
3) install the wall in the closet
4) hang the clothes pole
5) find (and fix) the propane leak
6) fix the leaking water heater

Until these things are done we're stuck. No can cook, run water, wash face, stay warm, put away clothing, go tinkle, or anything else. I can sit in my rocking chair and rock, but after a while you get hungry and in need of the bathroom.

Plus tomorrow afternoon I'm bringing home a new cat which will have to stay inside, in this tiny trailer, and there is no way to keep the two of them from killing each other until they adjust to each other's presence because there are no doors here to close between them.

But I had a heck of a day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Grateful is Not a Strong Enough Word!

We have made some wonderful friends while we've been here. And in the last month they have jumped in and spent an amazing amount of time and energy helping us get TP II ready to live in, and things moved.

I am past being tired. Tired was a week ago. And there is so much to do still. But things are progressing well.

We realized today that we need to move two days earlier than we had planned, which gives us two days less working time. Gary has installed the washer/drier and in working on plumbing the new sink in the bathroom. He worked on it a couple of hours yesterday.

This morning when I went over I could smell propane as I approached the trailer, and inside the smell was very strong. I opened the vents and the doors, and let it air out. It was so strong it made me feel sick, so I came home while it cleared out. Don't know what's going on there. We tested the furnace a couple of days before and it worked perfectly. No propane smell at all. So that has to be looked at.

My lovely neighbour Florence carried basket after basket of stuff over to TP II today. I used two large laundry baskets. I would pack one, she'd carry it over, I'd pack the second, she'd carry it over. Then I'd go over and put away what she'd carried. Once I was done I'd take the empty baskets home and fill them again, and she'd carry them over. I was able to accomplish three times as much as I could have done alone.

And, late in the afternoon, when I had packed as much as I felt I could for the moment, Flo's husband Jim came over and helped Tony and I cut and put up some paneling, replaced the door jambs which had been removed and then installed the new folding door between the bathroom and bedroom. That was a big job and I am very happy to have it done!

Jim and Flo have already spent hours helping, as have friends Pat and Claude. I don't know what we would have done without them!

On the whole I am very pleased. I have put away about 80% of what we need to get into the trailer and as of yet the closet and bathroom drawers have nothing in them, since Gary is working in there. The cupboards in the bedroom are also empty as of yet. The one banquette is still almost empty, and I have lots of cupboard space left in the kitchen. If I'm not careful we're going to have a place for everything!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Timeless Break

I need to dispose of a pile of construction debris, or to be more specific, deconstruction debris piled in front of TP II, but while the morning is sunny it is still a chilly 33 degrees F outside, so I am dithering.

I could get up and clean the debris in here, but for the moment I really feel a need to just lie back on my bunk and give my muscles a well-earned rest. I worked very hard yesterday, and will have to do so again today, and for several more days, if we are to get out of here on time.

While Ian was here last week we drove to Penticton to buy supplies. On the way we took a five-minute detour. He'd found petroglyphs a short distance off the road last summer, along with a spectacular view looking south down the valley. He wanted to share these with me, so we had a quick break in the otherwise tightly focused busy-ness of the week.

He took these pictures in October when he was here, and to our dismay some hooligan has defaced the petroglyphs since. I fail to understand what drives people to do such stupid things. What are they trying to prove? These pictures are ancient. The rock has cracked and flaked since they were painted, and large patches of lichen grow over some sections.

We puzzled what they meant. A stick figure with nine lines extending from the head, a half circle with 15 rays. The figure has no legs, it appears to be wearing a skirt. Was the picture painted by a woman? Do the lines on the head mean nine people, the half-circle a journey of 15 days? There are also four spots, almost certainly made by pressing the ends of the paint-covered fingers on the rock. Perhaps she stumbled as she reached upward, and touched the rock to steady herself. There is another figure but it is so obliterated by age that it's impossible to decipher.

All looking southwest out over a vast rocky valley, but a highly fertile one. I touched one with a sense of what can only be described as reverence. A recent report says that 95% of all Native Americans carry the mitochondrial DNA of six women who lived between 18,000 and 20,000 years ago in Beringia, the now submerged land underlying the Bering Strait.

A cousin drew these, an Old One, perhaps a woman. In my imagination she could have been one of those original mothers of Native America. I have walked in her footsteps, seen that glorious view down the valley - was it wetter then, drier, lesser or more heavily treed? Even today it is rich in wildlife. Along that corridor I have seen deer, mountain sheep, beaver, coyotes, birds of many kinds including Canada geese, ducks, swans, cranes, bald eagles and dozens of smaller species.

The "paint" used for petroglyphs was often a combination of blood, fat and iron oxides. The group hunted here, perhaps sheltered in the small cave beneath the massive boulder the petroglyphs are painted on. They left their mark. She left her mark, not only on a boulder face but in the flesh of millions. Thanks Mom.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Meeting

Today, when Yuchi (new spelling) came for breakfast I fed and petted her, then came inside to get Salvador, who was watching anxiously out the kitchen window.

I put his harness and leash on him and he scooted out the door to sit on the porch and watch her from 15 feet away. She rolled around on the ground in the sun and kept an eye on the big guy sitting on the porch.

After a few minutes he walked down the stairs toward her. She held her ground but came to her feet and faced him. They looked at each other, but there was no aggression from either. They chattered to each other, then strained forward and touched noises.

She raised one paw and hissed softly. He hissed back, but very softly. She turned, walked a few feet away and lay down. He lay down and watched her for a few minutes. Then he got up and moved closer to her. She moved away and he followed. They played cat and cat for 15 minutes. If he moved she followed, if she moved he followed.

I had to drag him back by force. I don't think it will be too long before they're friends.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Week Gone

Ian left to return to Calgary this morning but it was such a nice week. We worked hard but got a lot done. He put in the new floor, which looks wonderful; he took out part of the wall between bedroom and bathroom. This was originally done so Gary could get my new washer and dryer into the bathroom.

The original door was too narrow. But once we got the doorway opened we realized that a 27" door is far more practical than a 19" one. For example, if either of us ever requires a walker or wheelchair again it wouldn't have fit through the old door. Now the bathroom is accessible from the bedroom. We bought a folding door to install there. Not my favorite door, but practical in this application.

It's now two weeks to moving day. I'm hoping to have all the "jobs" done in the next week and be able to start moving our stuff in the last week.

The cherry trees are beginning to have tiny buds on the branches. I looked out this afternoon to see about a dozen quail in the two trees in front of the Tinpalace. I couldn't understand why they were there, as they rarely fly into the trees. But it was soon apparent. They were eating the emerging buds, shades of their eating apricot blossoms last spring.

I took a picture looking up through the branches of the one tree, just to have to remember how beauty can be found even in plain things.

And, as I remarked in an earlier post, I've been feeding the stray cats all winter. There were three to start with, but two have disappeared - we have an active coyote population, and they prey on house cats. We're left with one extremely beautiful long-haired calico girl who has been too terrified to allow anyone to approach her all winter. But finally starvation over fear and I found her trying to dig a few morsels of food from the dish about a week ago.

I came in, got a can of food and filled the bowl. She dove in and wolfed the food down, shaking and trembling all over. I talked to her in a quiet voice and after a couple of days she allowed me to stroke her very gently with one finger. Over the next couple of days she relaxed a bit and allowed me to pick her up and carry her to the food dish, and now I can pick her up and carry her and pet her.

She is absolutely knife-thin and to make it worse she's pregnant. I'd estimate that she weighs three or four pounds. I can't imagine the hunger of that little body, as her kittens pulled the few calories she managed to scare up.

If I can tame her sufficiently in the next two weeks Salvador will have a sister. After her kittens are born we will have her spayed. She will also need to be shaved, for under her floor-length sweep of soft multi-coloured fur she has matts the size of ping-pong balls. I've decided to call her Yoo-gyar'-uhs which means "Smoky Girl" in Skarure. "Yugi" for short.

Sal is very dominant so I hope he will accept her. She's very submissive and extremely gentle, so hopefully he will share us with her without inflicting damage on her to begin with.

So that's been the week, work until we drop into bed at night, then get up early to do it all again.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wurk wurk wurk....

Ian arrived late Saturday. Yesterday afternoon we tore out the old carpet and underlay (mostly him) and hung more wallpaper (me).

We started the day with breakfast in town. As usual the service was excruciatingly slow but the food - when it finally arrived - was good. While we waited we had a chance to catch up on the last few weeks, which have been very busy for him.

Once we were fed and back home we started in on the trailer. The carpet was dirty, but not as nasty as it could have been, considering that it's been in place for 12 years.

Today we got a late start, but hey, the poor guy is on "holidays" so sleeping in is to be expected. After a good home-made breakfast we went to town for supplies. When we returned he finished up cutting out the bits of carpet along the edges of the walls and I got busy with the staple gun and put the Relectix in place behind the cupboards and closets.

We keep getting visitors, as everyone wants to see the new TP. It's fun to show them through, and wonderful to actually have a place to sit and visit!

Ian did some prep work on the floor in order to get ready to lay the new floor tomorrow. It's super-duper stuff, very realistic wood grain finish. I'd say the molds were cast on hardwood planks, because the grain is textural, not slick like laminate, which is basically a photo of a hardwood floor stuck onto a backing. Can't wait to see the floor down!

The wallpaper looks really good too, despite a couple of cutting errors which I had to patch. You can't really tell unless you look closely. I have some to do still, but hope to get it finished in the next day or two.

What is so nice about working with Ian is that we discuss the larger issues of life as we work. He's practical and insightful, and we have wonderful conversations. I loved it when my boys were small, but I love it now that they are adults too. They are both wonderful men and I am so proud of them.

Monday, March 03, 2008

It's the Silly Season

And I'm not talking politics. This is important stuff! In spring the English sparrow's fancy turns to love! The males are busy gathering nest material. It's pretty funny to see them play tug-of-war with a dry blade of grass, and roll head over heels when it finally breaks loose. One flew into the cedar hedge (sparrow condos) trailing a spray of tumbleweed. The tumbleweed caught on the cedar branches, the sparrow kept on going, or at least his body did. He wouldn't let go of this prize, so his flight came to a rather sudden stop. I hope birds don't get whiplash.

As I may have remarked a dozen times already, sparrows must be the evolutionary remnants of T-rex, or at least some particularly vicious raptor. They are aggressive, violent and downright nasty, especially in the spring.

Scenerio on the lawn this morning. Female sparrow pecking seeds, perfectly happy, sweet little thing. Male sparrow lands next to her, squats slightly, extends his wings out to give him that buff and ever-so-chic Arnold Sparrownator look, and hops around her in a demented sort of dance.

She doesn't even look up, but with persistence he gains her attention. She is NOT IN THE MOOD! and has no reluctance to tell him so. She lights into him, grabbing his wing in her beak and thrashing him about.

His ardor is undimmed. In fact he seems to like her feistiness. Maybes he's into domineering chicks. At any rate he throws even more energy into the dance, and thus attracts another male sparrow.

The pair becomes a trio, which enrages Ms. Sparrow even more. She goes after each one in turn, pecking, biting, pulling feathers, slamming them with her wings and doing karate kicks with her little feet.

The dancers get even more excited by her rejection. But now the first one decides number two suitor is one competitor too many. One attacks Two and knocks him to the ground. They roll around screaming curses at each other.

The lady sparrow flies away but the fight continues. I go out to break it up but they just fly far enough away for comfort and start hitting, pecking, kicking and screaming again. Oh well, what do you do? I get the feeling that sparrows are not good candidates for Buddhahood.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

News Flash

Woman takes advice and avoids a great deal of work.

Yesterday when neighbours Flo and Yvonne toured TP II they had individual and collective fits over my plans to paint all the (many many) cabinets and cupboards in TPII white.

Friends Pat and Claude, who'd seen the trailer shortly after we bought it had said, "Paint it white! Oak cupboards and you are going to paint them white??!!

This morning I went over to continue fitting Refectix into the cupboards, and neighbours Jim and Bill asked for a tour.

"White!," they said incredulously, shaking their heads like two bobble-head dolls on the back shelf of a 4 x 4. "You can't paint those beautiful oak cabinets white! That's a crime! A little polish and those oak cabinets will be show stoppers."

Okay, okay, I get it. Everyone but me thinks I am crazy (which is a subject for another discussion altogether).

After Jim and Bill left I sat in my little rocker, stared at the flames in the red stove, and looked at the approximately 65 running feet of cabinet. One brush stroke and I can't go back. I think about the time I have to finish this job. I think about my energy level and how it cannot be depended on. I decide to leave the oak cabinets oak. I can always paint them - next year - if I find I can't live with the wood.

Suddenly there's a lot less to do and my stress level has dropped by a factor of 10. I still plan to replace the carpet with hard floors and paper the paneled walls in the living room and bedroom. But papering is quick and very easy, compared to removing the cabinet doors and hardware, stripping, sanding, priming and painting, then replacing the hardware and doors. (What was I thinking? I must have been CRAZY!)

Gilding the Lily

Our neighbour Mike moved Tinpalace II from storage into a space almost directly across from us this morning.

First a systems check, and so far everything we've checked looks and functions fine. (Knock on wood) We haven't turned on the water yet, so that is yet to come.

As soon as it was set up I took a screwdriver and removed an oddly placed magazine rack which was preventing me from putting the little electric firplace/stove where I wanted it. I tried to take out the cabinets we are going to remove, but my arms are not long enough to reach the screws.

I was itching to do something, so Tony suggested that I could begin cutting and fitting in the Reflectix insulation. Oh happy day! A project!

We are insulating inside every cupboard, as we did in TPI. So I went to work and within a couple of hours I had the insulation cut for the living room cupboards, the upper kitchen cupboards and part of the lower cupboards.

My neighbours Flo and Yvonne had a tour and both said they'd leave the kitchen cupboards in the original wood, but I want them white, and white they shall be. I am not fond of dark wood cabinetry.

So that was my day, the start of gilding the lily. Hopefully I won't be too sore to continue with the reflectix tomorrow.