Sued51's Blog

{February 15, 2016}   A Story of a Life through Jewelry

I inherited my grandmother’s jewelry, and there was quite a bit. My grandmother was not a rich woman, so it was mostly costume jewelry. But I love vintage jewelry so I have been wearing some of the pieces I particularly like. I have also been trying to sort through things that need repair, and the things I should just toss.

She had a lot of pins, which I have put in a beading box. One of those pins was a sword with a fake-looking “jewel” on it. To be honest, I didn’t think it was very attractive and it was clearly not expensive, so I was considering getting rid of it. Then I noticed that on the back it said, “Broadcast, NY.” I decided to do a search on Google, and it came right up! People are selling them on Etsy.

vintage brooch

WWII Victory Sword

It is called a World War II Victory Sword, and it was made in the 1940s, produced to celebrate the end of World War II. Suddenly it no longer looked so ugly to me…it had meaning. Especially because my father, her only child, was stationed overseas in WWII. I decided to keep it.

My grandmother also had many tiny lapel pins from the different community groups to which she belonged. Amongst them, and still in the box, I found a tiny Telephone Pioneers pin. My grandmother worked as an operator for many years. I left me her small pension, so this is meaningful as well.

Vintage pins

Telephone Pioneers pin

It made me think: what would someone learn from my jewelry? Hmmm…that I liked cats? Now I know why people collect Alex and Ani bracelets and Pandora charm bracelets!

Cat Jewelry

Cat Jewelry

{March 28, 2015}   The Things We Do For Our Pets

Homemade Cat Toy

A Close-up of Zoee’s New Toy

I have written before about making toys for my cats. They always seem to like them better than the ones I buy. My latest creation was a modified version of a toy I read about in the January/February Humane Society magazine, “allanimals.”

The article by Emily Smith suggested that you glue toilet paper rolls together in a “wall or pyramid.” It also suggested you could cover them with non-toxic paint or fabric (which seemed like too much time and work to me when I didn’t know if they would like it). I modified the suggestion; I collected some toilet paper rolls and put a rubber band around them. Then, Emily instructed, use tissue paper to close some of the tubes with treats inside. I checked around my apartment and found a piece of tissue paper from a breakable item I had bought at the store. Hmmm…a friend had recently given me a small gift buried in shredded paper…maybe that would work too?

Oh-oh. This is what my living room floor looked like when I came home one day.

cat toys

Cats…Pick up your Toys!

And then I managed to make it worse by tracking the shredded paper around the house. And this toy has to be remade every time you use it! (Translation: reloaded with treats and paper.) I don’t know about this…

But she played with it! That’s a success!

So…I went around and gathered up my paper shreds to stuff them back in and loaded in some treats…and I watched her. Smart Zoee…She flipped it over on its ends to see if the treats would just “fall” out — less work. Hmm…the shredded paper didn’t hold the treats in that well. It might have appealed to her mischievous nature, but wasn’t practical.

I decided maybe it would be better to go out and buy some tissue paper…and let Zoee do her own shredding. Maybe it would keep her busy for just a little bit longer…:-)


{May 17, 2014}   Daily Post: First Sight

Just this morning I was telling my beautiful cat, Aimee “her” story, then this prompt came through and I said, “Well…that would be Aimee’s story, of course!”

All the cats that have shared my life were adopted in some way: whether they turned up on the doorstep like my first cat, Breeze, or “formally” adopted like my present cats, Aimee and Zoee. In every situation, I felt an instant bond with them, that it was somehow meant to be. But with Aimee, I would have to say, I fell in love.

I love looking at the cats for adoption every time I visit PetSmart; I love to read their stories and simply look at them. On one of our trips my husband and I thought we saw the double for the wonderful cat we knew we were going to lose soon (you can read about Simone here). She looked just like our baby from behind, but when she turned around, she had a completely different face. We thought her beautiful, but we weren’t ready to adopt yet.  After a  few more visits to the store, the beautiful calico was gone.

A couple of months later, when we knew we were going to lose our beloved Simone any day, we went to the local PetSmart to look at the cats for adoption to cheer ourselves up. We were amazed to find the beautiful calico back! We read the notes on her…she had been to a foster home because she had an allergy to the cat litter being used in the shelter and had developed red eyes that made her unadoptable. But she was back with a note that she needed special cat litter. That didn’t bother us.

We had decided though, that this time we would get two cats. We had somewhere to be, so we decided to come back the next day.

As we walked across the store to the adoption area the next day, I saw her. The cutest tiger kitten I had ever seen (in my opinion of course). I exclaimed out loud, “Look at the little tiger!” The moment I saw her, I knew I had to have her in my life. The final test was for us each to hold the two cats and make sure they liked us. They were both loving and purred when each of us held them, so we filled out the adoption papers.

Turns out, someone else asked for our little tiger an hour after we filled out the papers. When we came back to get the cats a couple of days later, the people were there trying to convince us to take another cat. Nope…it was love at first sight…something about the big ears and the black nose…

Happy Kitties

Happy Kitties

{April 7, 2014}   Daily Prompt: Make Me Smile

This daily prompt could be answered by some of the same things that I listed in the Singing the Blues post. But because it is spring, and I love to hear the birds sing…here’s a cheery song for today that makes me smile:

In case that doesn’t work,  how could I NOT smile looking at my relaxed and trusting kitty??

cat sleeping

Relaxed and Content Cat

{February 10, 2014}   One Lucky Cat…That’s Me

calico cat

I got a wonderful gift yesterday; I felt like my cat Zoee, all warm and happy.

The author of one of my favorite web sites: The Creative Cat held a giveaway for her blogging anniversary and I won! I’m very excited about it and wanted to share it with all of you. If I could reblog it, I would, but not sure how so I will just link to it here.

If you aren’t familiar with The Creative Cat and you love cats, check it out. Bernadette is a cat rescuer, artist, photographer and poet. I have the utmost admiration for her and enjoy her daily blogs of sketches, pictures and stories of her cats, so this is a wonderful gift for me.

It definitely made my week!

Cat in bookcase

My favorite things…

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
― Maya Angelou

What a great topic. Music played a huge part in my life when I was between 20 and 40 (pun intended). The picture above summarizes my life at that time: books, backstage passes (in the frame), and my beloved cat, Simone. (Excuse the quality…I had to take it out of the frame and scan it.)

I have written a lot about my club-hopping days and only begun to write about the 15 years I worked at concert venues. While I was working concerts I was also working full-time. During 5 years of that time, I was also going to college at night getting my MA. The concerts were my social life, and the music helped me keep my sanity. Although when I finally stopped working concerts to concentrate on “real life,” it took years for music to stop playing constantly in my head, even when I was asleep. The feeling of having a constant soundtrack inspired me to write this poem:

When all was dark

a catchy chorus sometimes woke me

urgently with pounding heart,

“go away” I almost said aloud,

“allow me peaceful sleep”

tomorrow I must work.

Now days of silent boredom my reward

for pushing the music away, pressing down,

imprisoning someone else’s song inside myself,

or so I thought.

One day it will come no more;

then my voice will hoarsely whisper,

“how desperate are the droning days,

how pathetically peaceful the empty nights:

how deaf is my life.”

I recently spent some money on the cats to help them adjust to their new surroundings: a new cat tower, new scratching refill, and new toys. I was gratified that they have been using them. But…the favorite toy of the moment is once again a homemade toy. (See my blog about the first homemade toy here.)

A couple of years ago, my husband and I made chocolate lollipops at Christmas time. We had some leftover candy sticks; I find leftover crafting items perfect cat toy components. In this case, I figured if the sticks are safe for humans to chew on, they would likely be safe for the cats. I tied some leftover ribbon on a candy stick and —  VOILA! — a new toy. My cats are very interactive and they definitely prefer toys that bring them in close contact with me. So I sit on the floor and dangle the toys for them. (Please excuse the quality of the pictures in this post…it’s hard to play with the cat with one hand and take decent pictures at the same time!)

cat play

Aimee watching her favorite toy

They like to grab the ribbons, but also they LOVE to chew on the stick!

closeup cat toy

We LOVE to chew on the stick…

The downside is that the ribbons slide right off and I have to keep putting them back on. To the cats — that’s part of the fun (Off–On–Off–On…). To glue the ribbons would be spoiling part of the game (for them). Sometimes they run off with ribbons streaming from their mouths. (I wish I caught a picture of THAT!)

Anyway, I recommend the local craft store as a go-to place for cat toys. 🙂

cat playing

Aimee playing with her present favorite toy

{July 19, 2013}   Home is Where the Cats Are…

My cats and I are country girls, used to quiet and beautiful window views. We are trying to settle into our small new space, which is located in a much noisier and busier area (the trade-off is that it is much more convenient to everything). The heat wave is dictating that we keep our blinds closed; we’re now surrounded by blacktop on the outside, surrounded by boxes on the inside. It feels stifling in more ways than one. I make use of the empty boxes as toys for the cats.

I play the stereo a lot to diminish the “city” noises of traffic and trains and keep the girls (and me) calmer. We all react to every sound…the upstairs neighbor coming down the stairs to leave for work in the morning; the maintenance man going about his business outside; cars passing within feet of our window on the way to the parking lot. But it is cozy and clean, and I can afford it.

It is still a small town, but we’re on a busy street, and the commuter train runs close behind our building. I try not to miss where I came from; I know I must embrace change and learn to love it. I know that though at times I feel like I’m in a big city, that is not reality. It is only when I compare it with the sleepy suburb surrounded by farms where we came from; it’s all relative. Mindset is everything.

We will all get used to it, given time. We’re together…that’s what matters.

cat lying on the floor

Zoee relaxing in her new space…

PS. There is no picture of Aimee because she is still spending most of her time hiding beneath the covers in the bed…but she did that at the old place too. Tabbies don’t change their stripes!!

PPS. It’s weird that I posted this yesterday and the daily prompt for today was about what makes home for you…

What was your favorite toy as a child? Was it a teddy bear? Not me — I had a stuffed donkey given to me by my godmother and godfather. I loved “Donken-in” as I called him and told him all my secrets. Unfortunately, the family dogs got a hold of him several times, and my mother was forced to repair him to assuage my tears. By the time I outgrew him, his ear was sewed back on; his tail was sewed back on; every one of his feet were a mass of stitches. But that never mattered to me; I loved him no matter what.

My cats have favorite toys too. And I repair them and repair them and repair them.

At Christmas time I wrote a blog about homemade toys.  Here’s a picture of the toy right after I made it.

Home-made cat toy

This toy has become a favorite to my tiger cat, Aimee. She plays with it everyday. The other morning I woke up and the toy was on the floor by my bed. 🙂 Take a look at this pitiful thing now.

cat toy

6-months later: the taped toy

Every time Aimee tears a piece of foil off, I tape it back on. I swear the more tape that is on it, the more she loves it!

cat playing

Aimee playing with her favorite toy

My other cat, Zoee, on the other hand, loves this store-bought catnip toy.  It used to have feathers on it, which are now gone. The string has been knotted over and over. I have had to tape the end because she kept pulling it off the stick.

repaired cat toy

A close-up of the repairs to Zoee’s toy

But I keep repairing it…she loves it and wants to play with it every day. She will sometimes carry it in her mouth, dragging the stick behind (today we’re being lazy and just batting at it).

cat playing

Zoee’s “lazy” play

They have a ton of other toys, practically brand-new — because they don’t want to play with them. They want to play with these. So I guess until these toys are out of favor or abandoned, I will repair, repair, repair…

World's Best Cat LitterI swear my husband and I have tried at least 5 different types and brands of cat litter for our two cats; this is less a review than an attempt to share the story of our quest with the intention of helping others make their own decision. There are so many features to consider: blocking odor, cleanliness and lack of dust, ease of use, economics, and ability to dispose of the litter. Our criteria for selecting the kitty litter has continued to evolve as our cats have aged. Thank goodness are cats are easy-going and have adapted to the many litter changes we have inflicted on them.

We adopted our cats as kittens from a display in a PetSmart store. One of our cats had been there off and on for weeks because she developed red eyes from an allergy to the cat litter they were using and that affected her adoptability. She had to be sent to a foster home to allow her allergy to subside and was then brought back with instructions. We were told it was the litter dust. So our first criteria was no litter dust. They had used paper litter to alleviate her problem; because of this, we originally used “Yesterday’s News.”

In our town we have to pay for trash collection, so I was also considering ease of disposing of the litter; I was looking for something I could dump outside. I thought because the litter was paper it would disintegrate over time in the rain outdoors. This did not prove to be the case. Every time I changed the box, I dumped the litter in a pile at the edge of our yard. After a couple of years of this, my husband went to discard some branches in the same area and saw my dumping ground: “You have a Mount Poopsuvius out there! You can’t keep doing that.”  So…now what? What wouldn’t be dusty and would break down better?

We initially switched to “Feline Pine” and then to a cheaper generic pine product. The cats were fine with the change and it broke down outside, but my husband couldn’t stand the odor. I could scoop the solid waste, but not the urine. The urine made the pine break down and there was no way to scoop it out. The box had to be changed too often. When you think about it, the odor of pine does have an acidic element; it seemed to magnify the ammonia smell and make it overpowering.

Pine cat litterCrystal cat litter

One week in a pinch I tried some sort of crystal product I found at a local discount store…dusty paw prints everywhere and the smell was still there. That experiment was over quickly.

My husband went to the Internet and read the reviews for “World’s Best Cat Litter.” We initially tried the “Multi-cat” in the red and black bag. Again, the cats were fine with it. I liked that it could still be dumped outside because it was corn-based, and that both types of waste could be scooped out because it was “clumping” litter. Unfortunately, despite my best scooping efforts, my husband still complained about the smell. The odor-control element was just not there. I managed to find a small bag of the “Multi-cat Scented” in the purple and black bag, a natural product scented with lavender. I thought we had found the answer. But it was hard to find the litter in stock, even at the pet specialty stores. And the odor was STILL an issue; the lavender smell was too delicate to mask the ammonia.

At this point you might be wondering whether I only have one litter box? No, I have multiple cat boxes in the house, but both cats insist on going only in the one box. (When they were kittens they would actually go into the box at the same time, which the vet said was very strange!) So in the end, odor control became the most important criteria for us in determining which cat litter to use. We are now using “Arm and Hammer” clumping litter with odor control. If I have to put the litter in the trash, I guess that is what will have to happen. My husband found it at the local warehouse store so the savings of buying in bulk probably cancels out the price for disposal. So far, my allergic cat has not developed red eyes, and my husband no longer complains about the smell. I guess we have finally arrived at the cat litter of choice for us and our cats.

Arm & Hammer Cat litter


So cat lovers…what’s your #1 criteria when it comes to cat litter?

et cetera
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