Sunday, July 29, 2012

How to save a cat

This is Tuxedo:

You might remember my previous posts about seeing him in the yard, breaking up fights between him and big mean gray tiger kitty, and finally starting to feed him, both outside at the food we provided for the ferals and later in the garage.  At long last, we were able to keep him in the garage and take him to the vet for shots and neutering.

This is the part where he becomes the six million dollar kitty.  I kept whispering in his ear while he was at the vet's office "Aren't you glad that your mama has a good federal pension and can afford this?"

It is so pricey to have a pet nowadays.  Just a health checkup and shots is shockingly expensive.  Since he had been on his own outside, we had to check for Feline Leukemia, Feline AIDS, heartworm and parasites before we could vaccinate him.  Luckily he was clear of all the diseases although he did have an intestinal parasite which required a few weeks' dose of Flagyl to clear up.  Now he has a clean bill of health.  

I also found a wonderful low cost spay/neuter program in the city, with caring and competent vets.  The price was so low that I added a nice donation when I paid and brought back several bags of supplies for the clinic, such as bleach, office supplies, peroxide and paper towels - and still came in at half the cost of my regular vet.  I was happy to help them because I had found out firsthand how much just neutering a cat can cost.  After the first vet bill for his shots sent me reeling I inquired how much neutering him would be and almost fainted.  But I love Dr. Mabe and won't quit using them.  I'm just trying to economize when I can.  

Then, he had a little health scare last week when he ran a fever and seemed to have a problem with one of his back legs.  He hasn't had a recurrence of either problem, but I think that he has a touch of arthritis in his back leg or a little pain from a past injury, since he got in so many fights during his stint as a stray.  The vet seemed to think he has a floating patella.  Either way, I'm glad to say he's fine now. 

The picture was taken in my den.  He came in for a little visit, although he is still living in the garage.  He dashed through the door to the kitchen last week and came face to face with my cat Molly in the dining room doorway.  When he got too close, she gave a few low moaning noises and swatted him.  He backtracked quickly, as if to say "Hey, I get it - your house.  I'm outta here!"  Then I picked him up and retreated to the garage.  He only comes in now when the doors to the den and kitchen are closed so another encounter is averted.  But a few days ago, I knew Molly was outside the den door because all he did was plant himself in front of the closed door and sniff.  When he started clawing and digging at the carpet, I had to put a quick stop to it.  He wanted through that door in the worst way.  I'm not sure how future encounters would go.

He goes outside with us, too, for a half hour in the fresh air.  This afternoon we sat on the patio but after only about 15 minutes he strolled back to the garage door and wanted in.  I have started giving him his dinner after our outside sojourns so he has something to look forward to (trying to persuade him not to wander off) and it's working.  I was afraid that after he started going outside he would disappear up the hill like he used to during his stray days but so far he likes to stay close.

I'm not sure what will happen in the future.  I don't know if we could get Molly and Tuxedo to live together harmoniously.  I don't know how good an indoor cat he would be because he has the unfortunate tendency to sink his claws into any soft surface - my next purchase is a scratching post.  And having him in the garage is inconvenient because I have to make sure he's closed in the workshop area and can't dash out the door whenever I need to take the car out, not to mention the fact that my husband uses that as his primary exit due to the shallow wide stairs I built for the kitchen door.  Nevertheless, I have committed myself to rescuing this little kitty and I will take care of him regardless.  

I would love to find a home for him where he can live indoors forever and be doted on as he deserves.  It would have to be with an experienced kitty lover because he's a little rough around the edges and doesn't have a lot of "people skills" since he's a stray.  When he's irritated he tries to interact with people like he would with other cats - snap, snap, swat, swat. I'm slowly breaking him of the habit and he's never hurt me or actually made hard contact with me, but it's a bad habit and we have to teach him better.  He also will drive you crazy dashing under your feet and almost tripping you.  But he has impeccable litter box habits (even though he is a litter kicker extraordinaire and you have to sweep around the box every morning and pick up a good 1/2 cup of litter) and is very clean and tidy.

He's a good little guy, just needs a little "polishing".  But he loves to sit in laps, something our Molly won't do, and has a "motorboat" purr that you can hear in the next county.  You have to love him.

Lucky little cat.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Diving in again. . .

.   .   .to another huge project.  Remember Orca Bay?  This is what I did this morning:

It's a 6" star block using Robyn Pandolph's Bowood House collection.  I just made one of them.  80 more and I will be - well, half way through piecing this quilt.  There's the pieced sashing and the pieced border too, you know.

When I made Orca Bay, I was hoping for a red and green quilt with a hint of gold.  Since it was a mystery, I had to just guess and select where to put the colors.  And I guessed wrong, because I have a gold and red quilt with a hint of green.  Not complaining because I have a beautiful quilt.  But when I saw the Bowood House fat quarter collection on sale, dreams of a red and green quilt resurfaced.  It's a gorgeous bunch of prints, stripes, solids and checks, which will make a lovely "coordinated scrappy" quilt. Of course, I'm also making it waaaay bigger than Bonnie Hunter's original = 94" square.

And - I hesitate to admit it - no string blocks.  I love ya, Bonnie, but I can't love the strings, and I don't love sewing the string blocks.  So solid patches where they were in the plan.  It will still be gorgeous.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Under pressure. . .

.    .    .water pressure, that is.  And that's a good thing.

Oh, the ridiculous repairs you have to do when you own a house.  For the past several years, the water pressure in my house had been decreasing, a little at first, then more in the last year, so much so that after you flushed a toilet you couldn't get enough of a trickle of water at the sink to wash your hands.  If you were watering the flowers every other water use in the house had to stop.  And heaven forbid that you needed to run a tap while the washer was filling.  The low flow starved out the pressure washer the house painter was using to clean the patio, and made doing the dishes a lengthy proposition.

Finally, it got on my nerves too much.  Something had to be done.  If it was corrosion in the galvanized pipe between the meter and my house, well.   .   .well, that would be BAD.  Expensive bad.  Hopefully it was something else.  I called a plumber to investigate.

The only water tap in the entire house seemingly not affected was the hose bibb on the front.  It was flowing fine.  He hooked up his pressure gauge to it and verified that, yep, it had 80 psi, just like the city water supply.  But the one on the back of the house only showed a pitiful 20 psi.  Under the house we went, where we discovered that the line to the front hose bibb teed off the supply upstream of the pressure regulator valve, whereas all the other water connections in the house were downstream.  So that was why the front was not affected.  Now, why the low pressure and pitiful flow?

The whole house is plumbed in copper pipe, except for one 6 inch long segment of galvanized iron pipe connected to the exit of the pressure regulator valve.  So either of these might be the problem.  Either that bit of galvanized pipe was corroded and inhibiting flow, or the pressure regulator, original with the house, was out of adjustment or plugged up.  The best solution was to replace both.  The plumber said he would pick up the parts and be back the next day.

A few hours later the next morning, he was done.  And boy, howdy, did that ever fix the problem!  I have water again!  You can turn on two faucets at the same time - heck, you can turn on THREE faucets, and still have plenty of water.  Yippee!

That night, I had my first truly enjoyable shower in years, augmented by a nifty new shower head.  I replaced the original 1968 one that put out a stingy spray about an inch wide.  I don't think they were thinking about water saving features back then, but this shower was miserable to use.  Just like kitchens with inadequate counter space and skinny hallways, it was a '60's thing, evidently.  Bathrooms weren't for luxury, they were for function.  But now my new shower head has a large lovely spray pattern, and it also pulses, thank you very much, if you want it.  Which I did, when I came in the house drowning in perspiration this morning after watering all my azaleas, trying to keep them alive in 100 plus degree temperatures and no rainfall.

I also had the plumber replace the flush valve in a toilet tank because I am too old, inflexible and grouchy to crawl under toilets anymore and hate to fix plumbing.  And he would have fixed my leaking kitchen faucet except whichever genius assembled it when the kitchen was renovated tightened all the connections so tightly the plumber couldn't get it apart without fearing he would scratch it up and wreck it.  He had to cease and desist until I could get replacement parts from Moen (thank you, lifetime warranty).  Now, if the worst happens we have new parts.

Just another day in the life of a home owner.

Sunbonnet Sleuth mystery quilt

Just finished Jean Ann's latest mystery and it is cute!  Had you ever thought of combining flying geese strips with courthouse steps blocks?  I hadn't, and what a good idea it is.  She was nice enough to review my fabrics before I committed to them, and save me from questionable choices.  I'd been waiting for something to use this Michael Miller giraffe print, and had all the colors to coordinate in my stash.  Now, if I could just quit starting new projects I could get it quilted......

Still assembling the Scrap Happy group's June mystery.  I added snowball corners on the plain blocks, using the border print from which the colors where chosen.  Here's a look at a few blocks, not joined yet:
This will make another great donation quilt.  I wish I enjoyed the quilting as much as the block construction;  heck, I wish I was nearly as good at quilting as at sewing, then I could finish some of these for Project Linus.  My machine quilting is only marginal and I dread starting to quilt something that I spent time on, afraid I will botch the job.