Saturday, January 16, 2010

Eddy's Birthday

Today is my brother’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday, Eddy.

What is there to say about my big brother? He helped to make me what I am today. For example, he is the loving brother who, in childhood in the 1940s at the cottage, called in to me while I was in the outhouse (lovingly called the Orchid Room), “There’s a spider in your hair!”

Eddy always cared about David and me. He taught us the meaning of the naughty words we shouldn’t know or say. He also told me not to mention this to our parents. When we were new to Sturgeon Bay, I was in 5th grade and he was in 6th grade. He hit me a lot to show his love. I would have gladly sold him to the first bidder then, but everyone can see that I simply didn’t understand him. By the time I was in 6th grade and he had new boxing gloves, we finally had a match and I beat him. He improved after that. In dear old Sturgeon Bay High School, he made sure to make fun of every boyfriend I acquired. The most memorable was Bill Swan, who he called the Great White Bird. It’s obvious that Eddy really cared. He managed to keep his own love life under wraps.

Somehow we all grew up. Eddy miraculously got a college degree. Then he was an officer in Korea during the Vietnam War, which gave him better survival chances than some who went to Vietnam. He came home and gave his life to our radio station, WDOR, and became manager when our father almost retired. That is, Father retired and continued to go to work every day. Eddy was able to manage family issues then and now. We waited a long time, and he finally got married at age 37 (didn’t rush into it) to Mary Lou, who has been a great spouse for him. He became stepdad to John and Liz, and then Danny came along. No, he’s not the dog, he’s Eddy’s and Mary Lou’s son. After Eddy, David and I inherited the Allen stock in the radio station, Eddy continued to steer that ship as President of the corporation and general manager. During lulls, he goes bowling.

Hail to you, Eddy. I expect some good words on my birthday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reasons to Have a Cat

I brought home a cute, kittenish seven-month-old kitty from the humane society last March. I was feeling somewhat lonely, so I replaced my deceased husband with her. She was very cute, so I named her Sasha after Sasha Obama, who is another cute girl.

Yoicks and hoity toity, did I ever get fooled. Some not-so-cute behavior emerged. Her nickname now is Horrible Hepzibah, after a naughty girl in a kids’ book I used to read to my children. So, to justify my ongoing relationship with this cat, I am presenting my reasons to keep my cat, who still is cute most of the time. She has never been affectionate, but she tolerates me while trying to rule the household.

Reasons to Have a Cat:
1. Sasha is something to love in my one person home. Except when she is biting. I still prefer my children and grandchildren.
2. A cat is a companion. Sasha is very friendly when she wants something, which usually is food or water. See reason number one above. When niceness doesn’t work, biting comes next.
3. A cat can be playful and amusing to watch…except when she is running across me when I am trying to sleep. Usually in the dark the watching is minimal.
4. Cats require less care than dogs. There is no need to walk Sasha or take her outside for bathroom breaks. She is great with the litterbox. She leaves her toys in it and occasionally paves the floor with litter.
5. Cats have few dietary needs. Cat food works quite well. Well, she doesn’t always agree. She jumps up onto the table when I eat. When she puts her nose near my plate, the squirt bottle sends her away. Daily I remove her from the table at mealtime.
6. Cats are quiet most of the time. They don’t bark. On the other hand, Sasha meows loudly when she is attacking her toys. It lets me know that she is still normal.
7. Cats with claws will destroy fabric covered furniture. This isn’t a reason to keep the cat. It’s a reason to clip the claws. It’s good to have old furniture. A scratching post helps, too, but not much.
8. Occasionally a cat will behave as if she loves you, but mostly she loves herself. Sasha can be loveable.

Sasha is my third and most challenging cat. She is the only one who has lived with just one person since I acquired her. All our cats were rescued from other circumstances. The first, Monster, was born with several others immediately after my daughter rescued her mother from a roof outside her apartment many years ago, and we brought her home when she was old enough. Technically she was daughter Mary’s cat until Mary grew up and left home. The second, Elvis, arrived as a young cat in our yard in Seymour and stayed until I invited him into the house. Both of these cats stayed with us for many years.

I have a book that helps with Sasha’s ongoing training. It’s called Good Cats, Bad Habits: the Complete A-to-Z Guide For When Your Cat Misbehaves, by Alice Rhea. It has shown me that undesirable behavior can be changed, and that some cats are a lot worse than my cat.