Archive for the 'Animals' Category

Sasquatch, Our Biggest of Boys

Dark clouds swept over our house last week as we had to send off our sweet boy Sasquatch

Our biggest of boys, Sasquatch, ‘Squatch, Squatchmo, Big Dude, Bubbies, Champagne Supernova, Squatchers, Big Squatch, came into our home December 19, 2015, along with his brother Yeti, from the Hide-E-Hole ferret shelter in Pittsburgh. (You can thank Chad for talking me into their names.) I’d always wanted a big boy ferret and he certainly fit the bill!



The boys had been found surviving with a feral cat colony in Pittsburgh, during the previous winter. Sasquatch clearly had been taking care of Yeti, who was deaf, making sure he was safe until – and after – they were rescued. When we first brought them home they would sleep curled up together in a sleepy sack. Sasquatch would always have his head out, alert for any danger. Anytime they were in an unfamiliar situation, Sasquatch would revert back to that behavior, making sure Yeti was protected.



Once they settled in, ‘Squatch demonstrated his propensity for being a low-key sorta dude. He was happy to go outside and play in the grass and check out the fish pond and waterfall. Big Dude wasn’t exactly the most graceful ferret, and more than once wound up in the pond! He might dance across the waterfall, try to step on a lily pad, despite my warnings, and plop! At least he was a proficient swimmer!



Among Squatchmo’s other outdoor hobbies was trying to steal the water irises. Not really sure what he planned on doing with them, but he would seek out a nice plump water iris, streeeetch until he could get it, and yank (if it was out in the water) or chew on it, if it wasn’t. It was ridiculous!

Like most ferrets, he was a a master digger, flinging dirt far and wide when he was able to sneak into a plant, or when presented with a box full of soil. But at the Ferret Picnic when a prize was on the line, do you think he’d dig? Of course not! Silly boy. Being patient, though, he was a great contestant in the Ferret Chariot Race! Even when I wrecked the chariot and dumped him overboard!



We very nearly lost Sasquatch in December 2017. And so we knew we were on borrowed time. I only wish we’d been able to borrow more.



Sasquatch was a happy, lovey, stunning boy who left us far too soon. He was the Big Boy I’d always hoped for and our life is richer for having had him in it. Rest in peace, my Champagne Supernova.

chris on May 15th 2019 in Animals, Family

Farewell, Kimi cat….you were a good girl

It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our smug, (mostly) silent, ever patient, loving, Siamese kitty Kimi.

It was ten years ago that Mom called me and asked if I could go get Kimi and take her home…temporarily. Nun-Nun, Kimi’s human, had just gone into a nursing home and poor spoiled, only pet Kimi needed someone to pay attention to her. I knew full well that temporarily meant permanently because that’s how these things tend to go.

Down to Fairmont I went only a few days before Christmas, gathered up Kimi the Silent and put her into the cat carrier. She started wailing like a banshee.

I called Mom from the car, “Hey, I have Kimi.”

Mom “What’s that noise?”

Me “The cat. The one that never makes any noise.”

It was a long drive home.

Kimi wasn’t too sure about our house, since until two days prior, she’d been the pet of a house-bound, elderly person who doted on her and only her. Our house was slightly more chaotic, as she was plunged into the middle of three cats and two ferrets and people who didn’t sit down quite so much.

Still, it didn’t take her long to claim Chad as her human, although she obviously had some stiff competition from the entrenched cats who had also lay claim to him as #1. 

When it was warm, Kimi demanded to go outside, spending her time meeting and charming our neighbors. She had quite the little fan club in the neighborhood. We received more than one call that she was trying to get into other folk’s homes! More than once as Chad was collecting her, he would have a neighbor stop and ask, more or less, if Kimi really had to go home now.

Possibly my favorite Kimi story started off with a simple idea. Since life with cats means life with litter pans, we decided that it would be best to put the litter pans in the basement and install a cat door for access. We went with a door that had a release triggered by magnets on the cats’ collars.

Unfortunately:  1. Our cats did not understand the cat door and 2. No amount of cramming the cats through the cat door was helping to make them understand.  

We still harbored hopes that the cats would figure the system out we left the magnets on their collars, even after the flap was removed. Since Kimi would go outside on nice days, we had a delightful new game of guessing what she would bring attached to her magnet – a nail, screws, washers, usually small items. The day she came strolling awkwardly home with a tuna can lid dangling between her front legs, we took the magnet off!

Kimi patiently outlived all her siblings and was finally, in 2015, the sole kitty of our house, much to her relief. She had waited 7 long years to once again be the only cat in her house. Queen of the Castle! No feline competition! And then a little stray tortie kitten found Chad.

Poor stoic Kimi dealt with this intrusion as she had with all the other new siblings she’d endured during her life with us. She patently ignored her, despite the kitten’s overtures to make friends. Eventually they came to an understanding which appeared to be sometimes Kimi wanted to chase kitten, other times she pretended kitten did not exist. It seemed to work out for both of them pretty well.

Kimi was a simple and loving cat who only wanted a nice lap and someone to love her. We hope we passed muster. Godspeed smug one, we miss you! Your sister Nyx misses you, too.

 

chris on November 21st 2018 in Animals, Family

On the Sea – Arisaig July 9

Like the previous day, we were up early to head out. Not 5 am early, but still early. We had to be in Arisaig for a 10 am sea kayaking adventure. No rest for the wicked, the weary or the vacationing if you do it our way! We were using the same outfitter as last time, so at least we were ahead of the game in knowing where it was. I look for small victories in the morning, very small victories! 

Once again we lucked out and had quite a small group – 7 including our guide. We had a family from Norway and a guy from London. He told me a dreadful story about kayaking in London in a river (no, not the Thames) where there’s loads of trash including dead pigeons. But that’s not the worst part, apparently a lot of beginning kayakers go there and somehow manage to flip their kayaks multiple times! The first time I landed in dead pigeon water would make me a fast learner of how not to flip my kayak! It makes my natural aversion to West Virginia river water, which has thus far yielded no dead pigeons, seem rather silly.

The area around Arisaig is a seal nursery so we saw loads of them, including mom seals with their babies on their back. Which…super squee!

Watching them flop around trying to get to the water is hilarious. They are definitely NOT graceful on land, more like extremely large slugs.

I even had a baby seal swim under the front of my kayak!

The paddle was fairly uneventful, if you discount floating amongst seals, until we headed out into the more open water which was choppy! As we paddled along in the troughs and swells, I kept thinking “So, should I flip this thing and not be able to roll back up (likely), and have to do a wet escape what the hell am I going to do? It’s cold. The water is quick. This is how it ends.” (Although to be honest, I was pretty sure I was going to die sliding down the shortcut of Ben Nevis, as well, so take it all with a grain of salt.)

We reached a piece of water sheltered by a few small islands and our guide asked us if we wanted to go into more open water (obvious from the looks on all our faces that was a big NO) or if we wanted to turn back the way we came, have the wind at our backs and surf back in. Confused silence. And I spoke up and said, let’s go with the surfing bit, as it seemed far less likely to involve me rolling my kayak.

(the following photo is NOT taken anywhere near the area being mentioned in the current narration)

What happens when you’re the slowest paddler is when your group turns around, you suddenly find yourself in front and the guinea pig to try the surfing! Hooray me! As instructed, I thought I was paddling pretty hard. Apparently I was not, since our guide pulled up beside me and basically said you’re gonna have to paddle so hard your arms will fall off tonight. Good enough.

I do admit, surfing was fun – plus upper body workout!

This was our paddling route. 

Once back on land, we took a little walk around Arisaig to check out an old cemetery. Turns out there were six graves of sailors from the H.M.S. Curacoa, which was involved in a very sad accident.

Here’s a rundown of the accident: On the morning of 2 October 1942, Curacoa rendezvoused north of Ireland with the ocean liner Queen Mary, which was carrying approximately 10,000 American troops of the 29th Infantry Division. Each captain had different interpretations of The Rule of the Road believing his ship had the right of way. Queen Mary struck Curacoa amidships at full speed, cutting the cruiser in half. The aft end sank almost immediately, but the rest of the ship stayed on the surface a few minutes longer. Lost with Curacoa were 337 officers and men of her crew.

So, now that we’re all depressed, I’ll end with this. When you’re staying so close to a mussel farm, that you’ve paddled by it twice, you’re pretty much obligated to have mussels for dinner. And they were delicious!

 

chris on July 9th 2018 in Animals, Travel

Farewell, Fionnlaugh

Things have not been going well at the Matlick house. On Saturday, we had to say goodbye to our little princess, Fionnlaugh.

Fionnlaugh, our bright warrior, came home in May of 2013 with her brother Duncan and sister Shadowfax. Our little Pip was a feisty little lass, bouncing, hopping, and chasing the others around. Although she was no stranger to a good nap.

Our little girl was more interested in playing with her siblings and chasing the cats, than interacting with us humans. Although we absolutely subjected her to forced cuddles. She’d accept the attention for a few short minutes before attempting (and often succeeding) to fling herself out of our arms. And I do mean fling; many a time she made me look like a juggler, trying to keep her from hitting the ground.

Fionnlaugh and Duncan were pretty much inseparable. They’d been together since they were kits and more often than not, when you found one, the other would not be too far away. 

They tag-teamed a lot things.

For instance, Duncan had this terrible habit of leaving behind mouse tails. This was really unfortunate for the humans. However, Fionnlaugh apparently considered them a delicacy and, as long as she could reach them, would take care of what her brother left behind.

Over the last four years, our little Sweet Pea managed to give us multiple freak outs. One night, while nose counting before shutting the ferret room door, I could not find Fionnlaugh. She had been in the main floor of the house with us, but often times when she was bored, she’d toodle on back up to the second floor and find a cozy place to crash. Fi was quite good about coming when called, even when asleep. So I worked my way through the house calling her. Nothing. Then I commenced to methodically look through the house, including the freezer because I had opened it when she was in the kitchen. Nothing. I was growing more frantic and searching involved ripping the house apart. All I could think was that she’d run outside, which was totally not her thing. Chad went around the neighborhood calling her. I made up posters. It was devastating.

The next morning was terrible. I was a mess at work. Around 8:30 I got a call from Chad. He’d found her. IN THE DISHWASHER. She’d climbed in right before bedtime, apparently, and spent a very unpleasant night in the damn dishwasher. She needed a bath. The dishwasher needed a bath. And thus began our rule: no closing the dishwasher without looking inside. (We already had the do not run the dishwasher without confirming all ferrets were accounted for rule.)

One of Fionnlaugh’s favorite things to do, as she mellowed with age, was to drink out of our koi pond. She would go to the back door and wait patiently for us to go outside. Once outside she’d putter on over to the pond, climb the side and commence to drink her fill of the wonderful fishy water.

 

She was also quite enamored with any fish food pellets she could retrieve from the floating plants. Once or twice, she stretched just a little too much and tipped in. Fortunately she was a good swimmer AND her humans were right there to fetch her out and dry her off.

After we lost Shadowfax, Fionnlaugh stepped in and took over as Alpha Ferret. It wasn’t surprising because her brother was so mellow and she was so uptight. After a bit we brought home two boys, thinking she and Duncan would like some company. We were dead wrong. Fionnlaugh HATED the new ferrets with a passion. (This pretty much meant Duncan wasn’t allowed to make friends either.) One of the new guys was three times her size.

She did not care. She did not like them at all. And Fi went after the new boys with a gusto that was something to behold. She’d make this terrible sounding cry and let them have it. And they would run and try to hide.

In early December we took her and the aforementioned boys to see Santa for Christmas pictures. So there’s Santa, trying to hold three squirming ferrets while the tiniest, most slippery one, is squirming to get closer to the other ones to bite their ears. The sequence of photos is hilarious as you can see her stretching & squirming to get them. She succeeded, too. I was mortified.

Fionnlaugh left us Saturday, December 16, in her mommy’s arms. She was the last of the trio. Rest in Peace, Peanut. We miss you terribly.

chris on December 16th 2017 in Animals, Family