Friday, July 31, 2009

Tonka lost...or out for a stretch?

I have wanted to do a blog about my cat for a long time. He has an interesting story and is an interesting breed. I regret that I am doing it now because I need to do something related to him because he is missing.

Tonka is a 13 year old, neutered male, Tonkinese cat. I know, original name! He also sounds like a Tonka truck when he runs around the house. It suits him.

I took today, Friday, off to receive an appliance delivery (that never came!) and figured I would use the extra time to get the house settled more. As a result, I was up later than normal on Thursday. I took Hazel on her night walk around 11:30 pm. When we got home, I opened the door and Tonka was out like a shot before I could even register it. I am always careful because he likes to do this but he has been out in the back a lot lately so maybe I wasn't on guard enough. Usually, he goes to the nearest bush and eats grass. As long as I don't rush at him, I can usually just calmly pet him a bit and eventually bring him in. But this is a new house and neighbourhood.

I quickly put Hazel in the house and followed Tonka into the backyard across the street where I saw him go. I haven't met these neighbours yet and I was worried about entering their backyard at midnight! In I went. I saw Tonka once but he disappeared into a thick tomato garden and wouldn't come. I ran home for his food, came back and started to gently shake it to make that clincking sound. After a few tries, I heard a rustling in the tomato bushes in front of me. I thought it was my cat but out popped a skunk, not a meter away!

Thankfully, the skunk retreated and I was able to get out of there. I then proceeded to trespass into the next neighbour's yard. Based on the fencing, I am pretty sure that is the way he would have traveled. No luck.

I spent today putting up posters, in both my new and old neighbourhoods, walking the neighbourhood several times, talking to anyone I saw, and visiting the humane society to look at the cats and follow up with the report I filed in the morning. It was a very busy and emotionally exhausting day.

Truthfully, I am sick with worry. I've been told that, because Tonka is "pretty", someone might nab him for keeps. What's funny is that Tonka first came to us a "stray" 12 years ago. My sister found him, he was skinny and dirty - his owner had left him outside while on vacation. It was clearly a long vacation as you don't get that thin in a week or two. Oh, and he was declawed when we found him! We decided that anyone who would leave a declawed cat like that did not deserve to have him back. I don't regret this decision one bit.

Tonka likes to blend in.
And, sometimes, stand out!
This is my first
attempt to photoshop
anything, many years ago.

Given this picture:

what else could I do?

I admit I am not really a cat person. I remember the day I fell in love with him. He was still technically my sister's cat. At the time, he was mostly kept in a large finished basement as I had a miniature poodle who chased him, so he needed a safe place. My sister was still sleeping, so I went down to clean litter, feed and play with him. We bonded that morning. Tonka showed me how much personality he had. I named him that morning during our play session.

Tonka is a smart and surprisingly compassionate cat. He used to bug my last dog Tia - ambush her when she walked by, pestered her - all in play.
They were pretty close in size!

When my last dog was dying, at the age of 18, he helped me recognize and accept that I needed to help her pass. He never lay next to her, until that night.

Tonka lying with Tia. This was Tia's last night with us. It is perhaps morbid that I took a picture, knowing what was about to happen, but it was such a moment of animals understanding life in a way that us humans tend to over-think and fail to appreciate. I treasure it as a reminder of the strength of friendship and love, no matter the differences. They don't over-think, they just appreciate the moment. I sure miss my Tia girl, she was a hell of a dog.

And my Tonka cat is a hell of a cat. He needs to come home. I just hope he knows where that is.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New home has unexpected residents.

Everything is going well with the house, the move went as well as moves can and we are desperately trying to settle in, in between work and the other details in life. But the REAL thing I want to blog about is my new second job. That's right, on top of my already well-paying and reasonably fulfilling (on most days) career, I now have a new (pre) occupation. I am an EARWIG DESTROYER.

For those who don't know what earwigs are, first I am sticking my tongue out at you because I am very jealous. They are the one creepy-crawly that I just CANNOT reconcile myself with. I have come to terms with spiders and even centipedes. But earwigs...oh, no. Not ever. Where was I? Oh yes, the earwig.

This is, admittedly, a rather nice photo. It almost makes me appreciate the structure of this bug. Almost. Photo is courtesy of What's that Bug, an amazing website that helps identify bugs for people. This site has helped me get over many fears/phobias through learning to appreciate the insect. Definitely one of my top 10.

The pinch delivered by the an earwig is not very painful, it's apparently less annoying than a mosquito bite. My main problem with them is that they tend to "gather" in large clusters. Your garden hose will be full of them every day. Your plants - flowers, vegetables, herbs - will be eaten completely in a few nights. They drop from doorways when you open the door. They hide in shoes. One even joined me for breakfast this morning. Ugh.

My new house? I love it. But the sellers clearly weren't here much the last while and the earwigs have taken over. I almost had a panic attack the second night here when I had dealt with many, many earwigs; including a laundry basket with every article of clothing having 1-2 earwigs shake out and another almost drop on my head. My wonderful hubby spent some time the next day poking around the foundation outside, finding all the earwig nests. We both do not like chemicals or poison and, years ago, I used to pour boiling water everywhere there was a nest or earwigs gathered. So, Sasha boiled kettle after kettle while I was at work to eliminate my nemesis. Talk about knight in shining armour, lol.

I also picked up some traps from Lee Valley. You basically add water to drown them, oil to trap them, dish soap to break surface tension, and an attractant. In an attempt to make this remotely tolerable, I decided to make it an experiment to appeal to the researcher in me. So, I varied the attractant for each trap.

It is recommended to use fish oil, but I have none. So, I chose things I had on hand. We had lamb for dinner, so I included a piece of lamb fat. Don't worry, "dog" and "cat" do not contain pieces of my furry friends! "Dog" contains some wet dog food and "cat" contains a cat treat with fish and fish oil in them. Yum. I also used a piece of mango, for something sweet, and fish sauce, for something extra fishy.

Setting traps in creepy dark places.
The pink underwear are part of the dress code
and the plumber's butt is just part of the
culture among us earwig destroyers ;)
The next morning we went out and...nothing! Not a single earwig perished in my traps. I think my experiments failed. BUT, I think I had a confound I didn't consider. My dish soap is naturally grapefruit scented and I suspect that they were deterred by the citrus.

So, the next night I scrapped the experiment, bought cod liver oil and used unscented soap. The result?? A total of FIVE in one trap, whoo hoo! Ok, I was seriously hoping for a better haul. I tell myself it's because they are mostly gone now. It could happen, right? Anyway, I poured more boiling water in that area, so hopefully we have eliminated the major nests near the house.

I'm enjoying home ownership, really. Stay tuned to discover if I break down and use something toxic to rid my life of gross brown crawlies!

Hey, at least it's not mice, right?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Honest Scraps

First - I just finished my fourth lesson since the fiasco with my wrist. Things are going well although my legs need to remember they're role better. To be fair, I started doing 2 lessons a week last week so I didn't give my body any time to "ramp-up". That's ok, It'll come. I actually think the time off helped the mental side of riding, even if it hurt the physical. I spoke with Edgar's owner who is considering selling him since the one exercise rider she approved of couldn't control him and I was still not riding. I will discuss this on the blog more later but I'm feeling responsible for things that aren't really my problem. Not so much the training aspect, I've always been honest with his owner about the stunts he pulls, but I can only speak from my experience not from someone else's ability. More from the perspective that if I don't keep riding him she will sell.
Horse of Course kindly gave me my first blogger award! This award is all about sharing a little of yourself and also highlighting the blogs you like. I think this is a great way to learn about other blogs and the bloggers behind them. However, most, if not all, of the blogs I read have
already received this award. Great for them, not so good for me. I think instead I will post websites I enjoy over the next few posts. It's all about expanding horizons right? Well, there are only so many blogs you can read in a day and the honest scrap has made the rounds!

Here are some honest scraps about me:

  1. I am a certified open-water scuba diver. My husband and I took the training, studied and completed the required dives (and then some) on our honeymoon 2 years ago.

  1. I can get loud. Sometimes when I’m angry, sometimes when I’m happy or excited. Sometimes for no apparent reason at all.

  1. I owned my own horse once. His name was Will Beware and he was pretty awesome though I didn’t own him for long. I am trying to get his (my?) story written and submitted to Mugwump Chronicles. It’s hard. I’ve searched for Willie all over the internet but I don’t know what happened to him or even what age he would be, though he would have to be at least 25.

  1. I draw quite a bit but usually for only a few weeks a year. Don’t know why. Nudes are my favorite.

  1. I hate sleeping without an open window. I love naps, especially on a sunny spring/summer day in the early afternoon with fresh air coming in. There is something so luxurious about it that I just love.

  1. I hate long sleeves on shirts but love a good sweater.

  1. I moved to a different city from my husband for 2 years to complete a Masters degree in Industrial & Organizational Psychology. The independence it took for me to do this is very important to me.

  1. It often takes several attempts for me to leave the house when I’m going out. Not because I’m obsessive-compulsive but because I often forget stuff.

  1. I love vegetable gardening. I have fond memories of weeding the tomatoes and peppers with my Nonna (grandma in Italian) and then sitting and eating cucumbers whole. For the last few years, I have been filling my balcony with tomatoes, lettuces and herbs because I have no yard. That’s about to change!

  1. I am very fortunate to have a husband who is still my best friend and a lot of fun after 10 years together. Granted, occasionally I think he had a lobotomy or something and I don’t understand him at all…but mostly we see things in similar ways or have civil debates :)

To come, I need to go to bed!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's like this...

My life is currently a bit of a mess....

This means that, although I want to, I haven't had much time or opportunity to blog. I received an award from Horse of Course but it comes with some things to do. I am about half-way done that post but I decided it was getting to be too long before posting my "acceptance" and therefore possibly rude(?), so I thought I'd explain.

It's a simple explanation - I'm moving in two weeks. That is a lot of time, I know. My husband has "issues" with moving; partially thanks to me :) After defending my Masters thesis, I had less than two days to pack, move out and drive 5.5 hrs away. It was nuts, most of the stuff was not coming with me but needed to be out of the apartment, so it was either sold or put at the curb for free. Someone actually had a yard sale with everything I ended up not having time to sell :-/ In any case, it was not fun and Sasha is traumatized a little. So, we are trying to make this move organized and NOT last minute. Also, I have relatives from Italy visiting and we entertained them on Canada Day (July 1), so all the packing has commenced since then. It is a lot of work!

Tonka is having fun with
all the boxes around.
Hazel does not really understand
what all the fuss is about.

I'll leave you with a video I was going to save for later. I have a post I wanted to do on our recent brief holiday at the cottage, but this should make you smile in the meantime.

Hazel is digging under a dead tree that finally came down over the winter. Let's just say it's a good thing we're on a lake!