Thursday, August 25, 2016

10th Blogoversary

THE BIG THING HERE:  Well, we have finally reached it...  Today represents our 10th year of blogging.

It wasn't a specific goal.  When we started 10 years ago with Skeeter and LC they were already 14 and 13 respectively.  They knew all about doors, windows, fences,  and stuff, but had never had to try to put them in words before.  It was interesting to discover how they thought about those things.

They didn't really know much about me either.  I learned that they referred to me as "The Big Thing" and weren't sure what kind of animal I was since they never met many others except Vets, repairmen, and a few friends and family.  In fact, they were amazed I ever met any of my family, since they hadn't seen any of theirs since they were small kittens.

Bein words came hard to them at first, and in fact, I mostly had to interpret their general thoughts.  It was a while before they started writing more on their own, and even then, I had to do a lot of editing.  They thought I was mostly there to manage their household and do the things they couldn't, like opening food cans and cleaning litterboxes.  It seemed completely normal to them that some odd critter existed just to fulfill their needs.  If that's all one knows, why not think that? 

So I'll talk about our first blogging years with them...

Skeeter came to me in 1992 and LC in 1993.  Both from a small local pet store.  Both at Halloween.  I didn't know much about such places then.  Such places do not exist around here anymore.

I've told the stories of them before, but wish to do so again.  I went to the pet store to find a female Siamese.  No offense to gray tabby cats, but I had had them all my adult life (and loved each one greatly) but I wanted something different.  We had had 2 Siamese female cats when I was young and I wanted one myself.  The pet store was being renovated.  There was horrible dust and noise everywhere!

There was only one kitten in the place.  Terrified by the noise and dust, trembling alone in its (rather decently spacious) cage.  I took one look at him in his misery and said "Kitten, I'm getting you OUT of here NOW!

I don't know how long he had been in that cage.  I don't know how long he had been alone.  I do know that the moment I let him out of the cardboard box the sellers had put him into to send him off with me, he ran frantically out and found a cutout spot under the kitchen cabinets that let air escape from a floor vent they covered.  The space was only 6" high bit 2'x2' wide and deep.  A lot of room for a kitten hiding.

And I know he was forever terrified of trash can bags,  I made some guesses about how some kittens might have "gone away" in his experience.   But I was never sure.  I simply made certain not to "pop" any open when he was around.   He couldn't tell me why, and I couldn't ask.  To this day, I very carefully open trash bags and slowly push them into the kitchen trash bin when no cats are around. 

He stayed in there for 3 days.  He was so terrified that he pooped and peed in there and still stayed there.  I pushed bowls of food and water in there.  And then left the food bowls just a little outside the opening.  Then further out.  And I would sit there in the evening talking quietly to him.

He finally came out a bit and sniffed my fingers (which I had dipped in some food).  Eventually he came out and carefully sniffed me (the unfooded parts).  I set a hand within reach and he slowly crawled under it and I gave some gentle strokes and scritches.

His whole world turned around immediately.  He stayed out of the cabinet vent cutout, and stayed near me all day.  In fact, I couldn't get away from him!  He stayed as close to me as a starving mosquito.  And that's how he got his name.  When I was a kid, we called mosquitoes "skeeters".

So I called him "Skeeter". 

I still had Tinkerbelle at the time.  She was a bit mean.  I got her from my sister Susie after Tinkerbelle had been injured by a dog and had started to claw both her and the baby at any offense.  Tinker and I got along because I was a bit more forgiving of claws and because I learned how to give her strokes and sneak over the injured spots.

Skeeter had to adjust to Tinker...  I think he became friendly and diplomatic because of dealing with Tinker.  I was working a job that meant I left the house at 6 am every day and only returned at 6 pm.  So he had to deal with "Mean Old Tinker" all day when I was gone.

He came running to me every evening as I returned home.  He climbed up me (ouch) to get to my face.  Every critter who loves you wants to be at face level.  I indulged the climbing.  Skeeter sat on my shoulder as I prepared his food but also when I wasn't.   He wanted facetime and I gave it.  He slept under the covers with me all his years.

The following Halloween, I decided that Skeeter needed a friend since I was away half every day.  I went back to the same pet store.  It was nice and quiet then and there were 2 kittens in the front cage.  I still wanted a female Siamese but they didn't have any.  But one calico kitten was gorgeous and friendly and I said I wanted that one.  Turned out she was already sold and just being held as a wedding present for a couple who were on a honeymoon cruise.

I'm not one for delayed gratification in certain areas.  Like wanting a kitten.  The other kitten was a black and white.  And she was NOT friendly.  Any side of the cage I went to, she moved to the other.  I recognized a fiesty spirit!  I have never had any cat who didn't love me, so I wasn't worried about that.

I said "I'll take her" and between the shopowner and I, we slowly pried her claws off the cage mesh one by one until she came loose.  Into their cardboard box she went.

When released at home, she went for the same undercabinet spot Skeeter had hidden in.  I guess it is a obvious spot to a kitten.  But this time Skeeter sat there and talked to her.  Which was perfect, because she wasn't MY cat, she was Skeeter's.  I was still away most of the day after all.  I wanted Skeeter and the new one to orient to each other.

But she did need a name, and I give a lot of thought to names.  You should have seen me starting  computer quest games in the 90s where you had some group of skilled characters and they all needed names.  I spent a day deciding on names, and those games only lasted a month!

So I thought and thought.   And don't laugh that "Skeeter's Cat" came to mind.  But with the help of a special co-worker I considered that her black/white markings looked a bit like a cow's.  So I decided first on "Little Cow", but then made it just the initials, LC.

LC adored Skeeter, and Skeeter protected her from Mean Old Tinkerbelle.  Skeeter and LC became inseparable.  They napped together, they ate together, they went outside together, they played with toys together.

In 1999, Tinkerbelle was outside and didn't come back when I called her as I was leaving to go fishing with a friend.  That wasn't unusual.  She often stayed away all day off in some local places of her own.  But I never saw her again.  She was failing in health at 16 or 17.  She may have left to go find a spot to die.  All I know is that no neighbor said they saw a dead kitty on the street and I never heard a meow when I walked the streets for days and nights calling her name.  Such things happen, and I missed her.  WE got along.

Skeeter and LC didn't miss her and I can hardly blame them. They were happy together having the whole house in peace while I was away and having my attention each evening.  That went on until 2006 when I retired.  They were thrilled I was there every day and they got fed better food more often.  Well, I couldn't very well give them canned food for lunch when I wasn't there before.  My retirement in 2006 was the start of the best days of the lives.   It didn't last long enough, but those were good days..

And I am just NOW getting to the blog itself, LOL!

My last couple years at work, I had discovered a couple of cat-blogs.  I followed Max, The Psychokitty daily.  AHe was amazing to me. And another couple that sadly escape my recollection.  But one had a button that said "Start Free Blog".  After a few months of retirement, I clicked the button.  And it seemed workable.

So away we went In August 25, 2006; Me, Skeeter, and LC.  It was hard.  It was confusing.  It was tricky.  I couldn't figure out how things worked.  It was days before I learned how to allow comments and then to read them, and more before I could post a picture.    But I did eventually and it wasn't as easy back then.

Our first commentors were The Meezers (they are honored forever for that here) and Max himself announced us to the world.

Sadly, Skeeter was already 14 at that time and LC was 13.  Skeeter's last year on the blog just over a year later was hard, with accidents all around the house, eating problems, and confusion.  The Good Vet said he wasn't feeling pain, but when he started to lean against the walls to stay upright, it would be "his time".

That time came December 10, 2008, only 2 years into his blogging time.  He left for The Bridge after the sedative shot looking peacefully into my eyes as I wept while holding him.

LC went suddenly at home 13 months later from some sort of stroke.  I found her in the basement and rushed her to the vet.  She seems to have roused briefly there but was gone before I could arrive back.

They are both buried in the flowerbed, with markers.

Thus ended the story of Skeeter and LC, the reasons I started the blog...

But before Skeeter left, I had found the Siamese female I had originally looked for.  And she was perfect for me.  Unwanted by the breeder because she was too small to breed, I offered a good home because I wasn't interested in breeding.  She nearly GAVE her to me.  I named her "Ayla" after a character in a book and I had been saving that name for 20 years.

Skeeter loved Ayla when she first arrived as he had LC years before.  He was a wonderful caring cat.  But he lost track of her after he faded a few months later.  LC and Ayla were hissy.

LC missed Skeeter so very much.  She wanted her big orange brother back.  It was a week before she climbed up on my lap.  She had never done that before.  I gave her much attention, and she appreciated it.  She even came up onto the bed and slept next to me.  No one can say that cats don't miss companions or that they can't seek comfort where they haven't before a loss.  I was the 2nd choice after Skeeter and I didn't mind that a bit.

LC followed Skeeter over The Bridge in January 2010.  They were almost identical ages. of 16 and 1/2  At that time, I realized that naming the cat blog after specific cats ("Skeeter and LC") was a bad idea in the long term.  Well, it never really occurred to me that I would still be blogging by the time they left for The Bridge...  I thought for a week about a new name for the blog.  I finally came up with "Mark's Mews".

I called the breeder and got Iza just a few days later.  She was a very relaxed cat.
She came out from under the bed after just a day, and immediately attached herself to me.

Mews means variously "Meows", "a place where people live with animals", a "hideaway", and a "small street".  And the homonym "muse" because they gave me so much thought and inspiration...  So there is the cats, I live with them, we are kind of solitary, and we live on a short dead end street.  And my name is "Mark".  So "Mark's Mews"...  And it will never have to change.

So there was Ayla and Iza for a while.  But they were hissy with each other in spite of the Felliway and attention.  So, illogical as it seems, I decided I needed another orange male cat.  Skeeter had been so great at keeping peace in the house.   I looked at many animal shelter cats.

But they always came as brothers and those would have already become attached mostly to each other.  I needed a single.  With help, I found one.  The owner had been given an orange/white male cat for Christmas and discovered she was allergic to cats.  I saw the picture of the cat and fell in love.

And it wasn't easy to get him.  She said he had been promised to a family with children.  I pointed out that I was retired and could attend to him 24/7, that I bought only the best foods, that I played toys daily, that I had a yard surrounded by a fence that he couldn't get out of (which turned out to be false) and would have a wonderful time catching mice within.

She changed her mind and I went to visit her.  He had 1 toy.  He was fed cheap dry food.  She called him down from upstairs and he came right down the stairs and looked at me.  I sat down on the floor.  He crawled onto my lap and purred loudly and accepted my scritchies.

That settled things in her mind and mine.  I asked about his name and she said, "well, I named him 'Marley' but you can call him anything you want".  I turned that around in my mind for a moment (considering that I could have named him after someone in the COTCB books along with Ayla and Iza), but I decided it was a perfect name and fit him perfectly.  So Marley he was and Marley he remains!

Here he is coming out of the PTU for the first time here...

I stayed in touch with her by email for a few months telling her that he was happy and sending pictures, but she stopped replying after a while.  Well, she had to move on with her post-cat life.

So now it is Ayla, Iza, and Marley, in "Mark's Mews" and this is the 10th year completed.  And who knows what the future will bring?

Ayla, Iza, and Marley say they hope you will all come and visit today so they can swap blogging stories and stuff like that!