Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kitties - Preparing for life on the Road

I have loved cats as long as I can remember.  Don't get me wrong, I like dogs and have even loved a few but I love, truly love cats. 
  •  I love their independent nature maybe because I share this love of independence and we co-exist together wonderfully. 
  •  I love the way they beckon you to share in their world while leading you to believe it was your idea.  
  • I love the single-mindedness they show whether hunting or curling up for a nap in your lap.
Traveling with kitties presents some unique challenges that I have been giving a great deal of consideration.

My cats have approached time in Lolita (my home on wheels) each in their own way. Emmit, my male kitty companion marched right in when I left the door open, like he owned the place and checked every corner, nook and cranny out before curling up for a nap.  Spook on the other hand,  wanted no part of coming into the trailer so I carried her into the trailer and set her down on the couch beside me.  She immediately sprung from window to window, frantically looking for a way to escape, tearing screens on the windows in the process.  Clearly, she will require considerable preparation before travel date.   

I am scouring blogs looking for hints that have made traveling with cats in small spaces a pleasurable and safe journey.  I am also using my time while preparing for life on the road to ready my feline companions for their life of adventure.  Here are some of the things we are doing to prepare.

Cat Harness and leads   Kitties are getting harness ready. On days at home I am placing kitties in a harness with no lead attached as a way for them to get used to having the harness on.  It is hysterical to watch their reaction to their safety harness.  When putting on the harness they protest loudly and then refuse to move, laying flat as a pancake on the floor.  Gradually they forget the indignation, hunger wins out and they resume their activities.    Next day, same result.... 

I am in the process of trying out different harnesses for the kits.   I have added additional straps to other harnesses prevent the harness from tightening around the cats neck for safety. I only use the harness when I am present to supervise and as a safety mechanism for safely transitioning such as going from the door to tent or truck.
The one that I am happiest with to date is,  Come With Me Kitty, Harness and Bungee Leash.  I am not sure this is THE one but eventually we will find the right one.

Now if I can get one of my cats to go for a walk, I will be in heaven!

Scratching fun. 

Cats love to scratch.  My experience has taught me that I need  to provide them a fun place to scratch or they will find their own.

Emmit patiently waiting his turn
 Shown is a  Bergan Turbo Scratcher toy combo.  My cats love to scratch on the middle (it is rolled cardboard and will eventually shred. toy and replacements available on Amazon)  For play, the ball on the outside edge spins around and around.  My personal sanity hint would be to put the toy away at night unless you want to hear the ball spinning all night.  A little catnip and the kitties are busy for hours.

I also have a heavy door mat made of  coco fiber that I have discovered the cats love to scratch on.  It does not disintegrate so is a wonderful scratching place and it provides double duty as a great door mat for feet.

Collapsible Travel Crate   Every cat needs their own collapsible crate - since space is always a consideration each cat will need their own travel space to contain the kitty independent nature on the road.  Travel time in the tow vehicle and trailer door openings need to be planned for, to prevent unsecured escapes.  I am also using their travel crates as a way to expose them to new environments in their familiar cocoon.   A hard bodied crate may be needed to contain a frightened or determined escape artist, at least in the 'training' phase.

Beds and hiding places

On of my kitties loves to sleep in a kitty bed,  another likes to sleep either on me or my bed with me.   Most kitties also like a hidden place to hang out for a nap.   A blanket, collapsible kitty tent, or taking alone a kitty bed satisfies their need for a cozy personal space and contains cat hair too.

A cat house for the road 

ABO Gear Happy Habitat
The ABO Gear Happy Habitat provides more than 30 square feet for your kitties to run around and play in.  It maintains your pets’ natural instincts to be outdoors without compromising their safety. There is a floor in the tent to aid in containing determined felines.  Folds tightly into convenient carry bag for fun on the go and pops up easily for a quick outside break. Measures 74 x 63 x 36 inches and weighs just 2.5 pounds for easy carrying.  For Spook, I am sitting inside the tent, (in the house) and helping her get used to the idea of the tent....  this is ideal for quick stops at a rest stop for some outside time.   A litter box, toys and cat bed can be added to make it home on the go.  Ideally I would like to find a screen room (floor required to prevent escapes)  or tent with a screen room for longer term setups that is more substantial but this should get us started.

Cat boxes  Cat litter boxes are necessary for traveling kitties.  Deciding on the one that fits your needs and lifestyle is an individual choice.  The Omega self-cleaning box is receiving rave reviews and is the one that we will be using on the road.

The Roll’n Clean, Self-Cleaning Litter Box works best with clumping and silica litters. Simply roll the litter box to the right until the top touches the floor then roll it back to the upright position. Inside, a unique patented screen separates the clean litter from the clumped waste – putting all the waste into the scoop. Pull out the scoop and dispose the waste into a plastic bag lined five gallon bucket with a lid to contain odors until disposal.    It’s that easy!
The scoop on how it works!

 I will be cutting a hole in a on the cupboard door lowest to the floor to allow the cat to enter the cat box to do business. This will prevent cat litter from spilling out into the hallway or me accidentally stepping into the cat box.    What is not to love!

Like all aspects of living on the road I expect that my ideas will change with time.  New products or insights from other road travelers will change how the kitties and I cope with the challenges on the road.

I'll keep you posted on how these ideas and products work for us.

I would love to know  other feline road travelers hints and what works for you.  Share this with the cat lovers you know.   Come on and share.  We all want to know what works!

                               Dogs have owners, Cats have staff.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Precious Memories

This is the last segment of my visit in Connecticut with my daughter, Melissa's  family.

Ninja Chef Scott

One of the best parts of visiting my daughters home is meal time.  It is more than mere food.  The cooking of food is a creation that becomes an event.  One such meal was homemade pizza and calazones.   

Everyone enjoying Pizza
The first few days I was still pretty wobbly  on the crutches and it was pretty difficult to manage the 4 flights of stairs so we didn't go out much.  But as the days went on I got stronger and we went out a bit. 

I wanted to see what the kids were involved in so I went to archery and fencing lessons.

On Guard

Zombie Luv

 Boo Boo (Bjorn found his own entertainment at fencing class.

Noah and Elias taking aim
                  While Momma cooked, Nana and Boo Boo played

The Play Dough Chef

Melissa showed me craft project she was working on.  So I had her show me how to do the wool felting.  My idle hands needed something to do.

Here are my first ornaments

Bjorn adopted the neighbors Dora sled and packed it everywhere with him..
The perfect place for a nap

The time for me to return had come.  There never seems enough time to accumulate memories when we live so far away.   They grow so fast and the changes between visits seems unbelievable.   But this blog and pictures stores the memories in a wonderful way.   I feel blessed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Precious Memories

Warning. Grandchildren Alert!! This post and the next post will be heavily laden with my precious memories of my Connecticut  trip and therefore filled with cute, want to pinch their cheeks photos of my grandkiddos.

I recently returned from a trip to spend time with my daughter and family in Connecticut.     As you know the day after I booked the trip, I broke my leg while stepping down a step on my front porch.  I was cleared for take off by the Doctor just the day prior to my flight, so by departure time I was still struggling with the crutches and not very mobile.  My flight across the country was absolutely perfect.  It seemed the attending staff nearly knocked each other out of the way to be helpful.  I was seated in the front of the airplane so after take off, they got my carry on bag down and I used it to prop up my leg to prevent more swelling.  It couldn't have gone more smoothly.

Snowy view of their house
 I 'm posting in small mode, so click on pics to view larger.

 There house is completely surrounded in trees so there is no shortage of leaves this time of year. 
Halloween was everything Zombie and scary!
It has been a year since I saw them last and grandchildren change so much in a year that it took some getting reacquainted time.  But it was wonderful to see them in there day to day activities and see how each of their personalities have changed and developed.

My daughter and I took a rare moment out together for lunch and visited a Umi Sushi restaurant in West Hartford.  It certainly was a new concept to me.  There is a conveyor belt loaded with little dishes that you pick from and eat as soon as you desire.  You were able to pick it an eat it in a matter of seconds.  How perfect is that.  Only danger here is to your pocket book and waist line as this system delivers instant gratification.

Catch a sushi delight as it comes by your table


Voting in Harwington, Conneticutt at City Hall is a voting event complete with active campaigning and a community bake sale.                           

Election night festivities included a red/white/blue balloon fight

A snowy Noah and Minty
Minty was just a short hair kitten when I saw him last.... who knew he would fill out to be this fluffy beauty

Pedro, a full member of the family, came to the US when Melissa and Scott came home from Bulgaria in 2001.  He was a street rescue who had distemper as a pup leaving one leg very affected .  Aging hasn't been kind to Pedro and so he and I limped around together.

Often when visiting far away family, we fill up the hours seeing all the sights and go, go, going.  My leg made this impossible this trip and I was blessed with a 'week in the life of the Roderick family.'
 Precious Memories indeed!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thankful Heart

A Friend wrote..... Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
She is such a wise women.

Please let mine be rolling next year!
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I Am Brave

I have a new heroine.   Merida from the Movie Brave which came out on DVD today is a new kind of princess. This is the first Pixar cartoon that focuses on a female main character.  She is feisty, and certainly doesn't conform to society nor family expectations.

She does not easily slide into the role her family has diligently prepared her for.   She literally fights for her life and the right to define life on her own terms.

Never again should any princess, little girl or grown woman wait to be kissed awake to the life she was meant to live.

Brave is a bit of a dark movie with strong and sometimes scary images. While Brave is not the greatest cartoon ever made, nor based on a great American Novel, It presents a strong girl, with a message of hope and determination to girls of all ages.  

My New Mantra

 It is never to late to grow up to be a Strong Princess.    

Friday, November 9, 2012

A NorWester in a NorEaster

I was born and raised in the NorthWest.  We do have weather storms in the Northwest.  Often they just come and go without particular attention.   Sometimes lately people have been giving the storms names.   They name types of storms which may tell you how the storm may behave or they name storms to define a particularly memorable or catastrophe storm.   But mostly, I remember when storms were just storms.

This week, while visiting my daughter and family, I experienced my first NorEaster.  From the best of my knowledge (weak at best) it defines how the storms collide producing these winterstorms.  One week later, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy EVERYONE took notice.

View from my window before the storm

View from the deck

Some downed branches

Chicken coop causality

Elias met with a sledding accident

Noah and Bjorn building a snow fort

      But mostly this NorEaster was just

                                             FUN FUN FUN.....

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Life in the Spectator Seat

Chillin with my foot up at my daughters
Have you ever thought about what your life would be like through the eyes of an older person.  I have been giving it a great deal of thought lately. Yes, it has to do with nearing the magical Social Security Age.   It also has to do with my  role in life recently changing.  And of course it has to do with my recent accident and resulting physical limitations.  So I have been thinking....   Why does our walking slow down as the years advance?  Our muscles weaken? Our posture leaning?  What causes a person to limp?   How do people interact differently with older persons?  How is life different as a elder in our society?  I know I have not given these thoughts much effort until recently.

For the first week after I was injured, I used a cane and could barely hobble around.  I found the lack of eye contact unsettling.  It was as if I had suddenly become less seen.   People walked around me as if I wasn't even there.  Now that I am using crutches and an ankle boot, I find people more engaging, asking what I did to my leg and asking if I need help or leaping to provide help.  Why the difference? 
I have  always experienced life in the drivers seat as exciting, full filling and moving at a pace that I had at least some control.  Life in the spectator seat lacks most of these attributes that I have grown to appreciate.  It is amazing how much one simple word,  CONTROL  means in my life.  I enjoy being able to get my own cup of coffee and to be able to do things for myself.  Lately,  I have realized what patience it takes to wait for help or to be invited to participate in life's rituals.   I love the ability to follow through with the problem solving and see the results.  In short, I feel devalued.  Is it only in my eyes or have I lost value as seen by others?
For now, at least the role of spectator is determined by my healing process.  For others the process becomes the new normal, a turn in life that gradually takes on permanence.   Life is full of adjustments until finally we can no longer make adjustments.

Our efforts to stop the aging progress with good diet choices and exercise tho futile, does aid in our comfort and stamina and mental health.  I certainly do not minimize these efforts, but there ARE limits to mind over reality.

I have been experiencing new life lessons these days.   I know that there are so many lessons yet to be learned.  I have plenty of time for reflection these days...

                                           Waiting ...... Learning ..... Waiting ....

Friday, November 2, 2012

Coping - One Hop at a Time

I am happy to report the pity party is over.

It seems I have returned to my normal pattern for coping with challenges. First I embrace denial.  Surely this will go away if I give it enough time.  Then, I feel sorry for myself and finally,  I move on to problem solving.  I think I am good at problem solving, I think you will agree.
I thought you might some of the hilarious moments as I figure this out.

The first couple of days, I only had sips of coffee.  This only fueled my pity party.  I am not nice without my morning coffee.  Do you know how hard it is to carry a cup of coffee on crutches....  Then finally it came to me.  My thermos pot that is kept in the trailer has a nice handle AND lid to prevent spills. So here I go!!!

Coffee and ME

It was not without casualties!

 Note the cup on the right....

    It didn't survive the trip!

First I went to the Farm and Feed store and had them load hay into the back of my covered truck.  Getting hay to the animals with a cane was simple... but painful... You can't imagine the noises and grunts I made!)  I had one arm free so I carried it with one arm to the fence and heaved it over.  After I found out that my ankle was broken and they took away my cane and supplied me crutches it became much more complicated.  With my Costco bag stuffed with hay I could carry enough hay to make the critters very happy!

I did ask for some help too.  My Auntie brought me some chicken soup.  All things are better with chicken soup.   I had someone bring in hay for me for the barn and put my sweet trailer to bed for the winter. I asked my neighbor to continue feeding the kritters for me for a couple of weeks.  I have also found homes for my goat Sugar and the Turkeys and chickens.  So much less work for me to do.

A new home for Sweet Sugar

A pause at the pond swing for a little autumn splendor

So yes, I have discovered I can survive.  Whether I am in a sticks and brick house or RV doesn't determine the outcome of my ability to cope with adversity.  I can ASK for help.  I can take care of myself.