Category Archives: animals

Why zoos aren’t usually open in the winter in the northeast

Last month, The Nephew, his mom and I went to the science museum in Schenectady to see butterflies and a planetarium show and also play with huge Lego blocks and train sets. It was very much enjoyed by all parties and the minute it was done, The Nephew’s mom and I started talking about our next adventure, but weren’t sure what it would be.

She sent me a message on Facebook not long after I’d gotten home saying that The Nephew had already planned our next adventure.

Your nephew wants our next adventure to be at the zoo! I told him it’s too cold for a zoo in the winter so we can go in the spring or summer. He said with his infinite wisdom “Mom, the animals don’t just disappear in the winter. Take me to wherever they put the zoo animals when it’s cold. Maybe Aunt Amy will know.” Impossible to argue with that!

Well, I have to agree. How can you argue with that? So I began to research local zoos.

At first, I thought of the Binghamton Zoo, which used to be open year-round when I was a student. I know this because friend R. and I used to go there, and once went the day after an ice storm and were the only ones in the zoo and it was just the best. The animals were all frolicking just for us, and I got a puma to come out of its home by saying “rrawr?” and it said, “RAWR” and came out and we had a happy talk through the wire. He seemed very engaged. He was probably lonely. Or wanted to eat my face. Debatable, I suppose.

But the Binghamton Zoo is no longer open year-round, and a lot of other zoos nearby are also closed for the winter, so I started to despair until I found…

THE UTICA ZOO!

Open year-round and a mere 90 minutes away. We would see our animals in the wintertime after all! AUNT AMY WINS!

So we packed ourselves into the car, and an hour and a half later, we arrived at…

The Utica Zoo!

Driving through Utica makes me sad. It was a grand town, once, and now it’s kind of falling apart, and the buildings have a lot of broken windows and are filled with lost grandeur. You can see how beautiful it must have been, once, though. The buildings are beautiful and stately in that old-fashioned way, and look like they’re waiting for the next act…but the next act isn’t coming, I don’t think. I think the show’s been cancelled. And things like that hurt me. I love history. I don’t like when things are thrown away like that.

On the drive there, mostly The Nephew played Angry Birds and said, “Aunt Amy! Play this level, it’s easy!” but they were never easy, and then he would sigh like I exhausted him and he would say, “Oh, just give it to ME” and then he’d solve it in a second. (I’m terrible at Angry Birds. Those pigs are WAY wily.) He also is fascinated with family relationships. “Aunt Amy, who is your mom?” he’ll ask me, and I’ll say, “Your grammy is my mom!” and he’ll laugh and say, “Oh!” and then he’ll say “Aunt Amy, who is your dad?” and I’ll say “My dad is your grampy!” and he’ll laugh and say “Oh!” and then finally he’ll say “Aunt Amy, did you know my daddy’s mom and dad are my grammy and grampy?” and I’ll say, “Yes, did you know your dad is my brother?” and he’ll say “OH!” and this always cracks him up and he laughs. To REALLY make him laugh, I call his dad my LITTLE brother. “No! He is a grown-up MAN!” he’ll say, then giggle and giggle. I enjoy that kids don’t understand that once, the GROWN-UPS were ALSO kids. This makes me smile, to think that in a child’s mind, we’ve always been this age.

So there were a few signs when you first entered the zoo saying “paths may be icy.” We were all, “pooh pooh! How icy can they be?”

The answer is…glare-icy.

Apparently, in order to stay open all winter, they had to cut back on grounds maintenance. None of the pathways had been cleared at all. There was ice and snow and SO MUCH ICE ZOMG, and of course The Nephew tramped along it merrily (and fell once, but picked himself right back up like he’s made of rubber and kept-on a’runnin’.) At one point, the path just STOPPED, and we had to tromp through the snow, and The Nephew was all “well, now we are lost in the WOODS!” and he was sort of right. But then the path started again, sort of. It got so bad I purposely walked through the snow instead of on the path because the path was slipperytown. Bad news, Utica Zoo! I realize salt wasn’t probably a good idea with all those animals. But sand? Maybe? Or don’t be open? Because you are COURTING DEATH with those paths, you guys.

Other than the DEATH-ICE, and how cold it was (we all had windburned faces and chilly legs and hands when we were done) and the fact that about half of the animals were gone (I don’t know where…I guess wherever animals go when it’s cold? Vacation? Florida, like retirees? Just inside in the groundskeeper’s buildings? Anyone know?) it was kind of an awesome zoo. You know how much I love zoos. It would take a lot more than a little ice to put me in a terrible mood.

What’s that?

You want to see photos of our day at the zoo?

Ha, it’s like you don’t even know me. I took a MILLION photos of the zoo. The whole time, I told The Nephew’s mom, “This is for a MOST IMPRESSIVE BLOG I will be writing about this adventure!” and she said, “Of course you will!” She totally knows about the bloggery. Most of my people do. It doesn’t even shock them anymore.

Let’s go to the zoo!

First we had to go to the bathrooms, and outside the bathrooms, randomly, was this loose peacock. The Nephew was all “LOOK AT THAT!” and wanted to I think either pet or ride the peacock, but the peacock was having none of that and booked it away from us. (Isn’t it pretty? I’ve never seen one up close!)

Here’s The Nephew chasing it as it walked away. He really wanted a pet peacock.

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It was all, “listen, dude, I am JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU” and The Nephew was all, “No, seriously, come back, I will play “In Your Eyes” to you on a boom box! YOU COMPLETE ME!”

Then we saw some goats. I know some people who like goats. I took a lot of photos of these fellas.

This one looked like a genetic abnormality. Therefore he was my favorite.

There were none of those little feeding stations at this zoo. I hear rumors that they all had to be removed because hooligans were breaking into the zoo to steal the money in them. This goat didn’t get the memo. He wanted me to feed him. I had no food. Only Tic Tacs. I don’t think the goat wanted Tic Tacs.

This goat looks like he knows a secret. Do you think it’s the secret of why they didn’t put any sand on the paths so we almost died like a hundred times?

This goat was chewing on a log. I don’t know why, either. But it made me laugh. He was SO FOCUSED on this. He didn’t even look up. Look at his funny pupils! This is why I love goats. They have curious eyes.

I think this is the genetic abnormality goat again. I was a fan of his.

ZOMG GOAT! Stop with the log, already, people are going to think you have a complex!

Next was a thing I loved, and I think I need to get it on a teeshirt.

I BITE! And there was NOTHING IN THE CAGE! So it was totally scary for no reason. I like that it’s in ALL-CAPS.

But then the bitey thing came out. What do you think it was? A cougar? A wolverine?

Nope.

This stork-thing. I would think he pecks and pinches more than bites. Just to be safe, though, in case his beak was hiding sharp teeth, we didn’t poke him.

This is his wanted poster. I BITE, DAMMIT!

Yes, I know. That’s a lot of snow. We’re really mired in this neverending winter up here.

Thought you’d like to see some adorableness. Here’s The Nephew taking a photo-op in front of the children’s zoo. He has many layers on. We were chilly, yo.

Yeah, I know. Worst photo ever. See, my nice camera totally died almost immediately and I had to use my phone for the rest of the day. This is a zebra. He was really far away and to get to him, you had to cross TREACHEROUS ICE. So I decided to zoom in as far in as I could and call it a day. HI, ZEBRA! (He totally finds me fascinating. Look at him checking me out.)

This is a camel I decided to call Spicoli. He seems to be stoned, and really laid-back. I think he would call you “dude” a lot and laugh inappropriately. Look, he totally has hay in his hair and he doesn’t even CARE. And he looks like he’s grinning at NOTHING. (Also, apparently in the winter, this kind of camel grows a lot of dreadlocks, and their humps droop randomly to one side or another. Just makes them look more like stoner-camels to me.)

This was some sort of peacock with a huge lacy tail. There was no sign on this exhibit so I can’t even tell you what kind. I liked how fancy it was. This peacock would ALWAYS get invited to the dance.

MERKA!

The Nephew didn’t see this eagle at first, then when he did, he was kind of tired, and said “That doesn’t even LOOK like an eagle” and I said, “No? What does it look like?” and he sighed and said, “A big bird with a yellow beak.” But later when we asked him what his favorite animal was, he said the eagle.

Oh, pretend there’s a photo of a sea lion here. They wouldn’t stay out of the water long enough for us to photograph them, but they were very cool. One popped up long enough to kind of clap his flippers at us, then disappeared again. I do so like sea lions.

Why does every zoo have Cotton-Topped Tamarins? These things freak me out, man. Where’s that stoner camel. He’d calm me down. I think he has something that’ll help me out with that.

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Snakes! This one’s pretty. I think it was a corn snake.

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I don’t remember what kind of snake this is, but the photo turned out well. Sometimes that happens.

These were gigantic pythons, and they would most definitely eat you and digest you. I even like snakes but I’m glad they were safely behind glass.

The website said there would be so many turtles and tortoises, and there was only this one. This is for Heather. She is my tortoise-friend and she said I would love this guy the most of all the turtles and tortoises. She was right, considering he was the only one. Sadly, this is not a very good photo. Good grief, why is it so RED? Sorry, Heather.

It is very hard to see, but up in the upper left-hand corner of this one is a beautiful owl. I love owls. I went “hoo! Hoo!” to him but he was all “I’m napping, lady, sheesh.”

This is not a helper mule, as much as I’d like it to be. This was just a donkey. He was pretty cute, though.

This was a HUGE Flemish rabbit. The sign says they can grow to 28 pounds. I was all “The Nephew! Come see this huge rabbit!” and he came over and said, “Aunt AMY, that rabbit isn’t that huge. He’s just really fat. I think he eats too much food” and that made me and The Nephew’s Mom giggle.

Look at this guy. He’s GORGEOUS. I sincerely want an owl. On the way home, we saw two hawks, too. It was a raptor-bird kind of day.

Look! He looked at us! He wanted to be our friend!

It’s hard to tell, because he’s very blending-into-the-landscapey, but this is a beautiful lynx. He watched us the whole time but not in a scary way. In a “bring me home!” way. The Nephew said I could bring him home, and he PROBABLY wouldn’t eat Dumbcat. I like them odds.

I saved the best for last. What do you think is best?

What’s that? You can’t see them very well? I CAN FIX THAT!

LIONS!

At first, The Nephew said, “I don’t think I want to see lions…” in a scared little voice, but then he realized they wouldn’t eat us and he was cool with the lions. This one was pacing the whole time we were standing by it. He wanted to eat our whole faces. I loved him.

I’m going to be obnoxious and show you a lot of photos of this lion. He was my best fella.

Isn’t he so PRETTY? I do love big cats.

And you know what you have to do when you’re around the lions.

You HAVE to make a lion face! (Those lions don’t even care.)

Then we discovered one of my favorite things at zoos…

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One of these “you are an animal” face-thingies! First The Nephew was a lion. You can also see Aunt Amy behind him holding him up so he didn’t fall on the little teeny-tiny piece of wood he was standing on in order to be a lion. I especially like the paws on this thing. Very realistic.

I am a scary lion! This is totally my Facebook cover photo right now, yo. This is like the best thing ever. RAWR I AM A SCARY LION (who is also holding a Utica Zoo sign, for some reason!)

Then we were cold and tired, so we hoofed it to the gift shop and The Nephew decided he wanted a scary lion thing that bit things and grabbed things but we convinced him that really he wanted a spelunker’s hat with a VERY cool flashlight built in (when I told him the word “spelunker” he repeated it and giggled – this kid LOVES learning, it is so good for my heart) and I got a NEW FRIEND!

His name is Trent. He is a very brave tortoise, and not at all afraid of Dumbcat. (Right after this photo was taken, Dumbcat randomly started purring and headbutted poor Trent right onto the floor. Oh, Dumbcat. That’s no way to treat your new housemate!) Don’t even mock my warm flannel PJs, yo. It’s going to be NINE DEGREES tonight. Where is my spring?!?!)

Then we all went to a diner and The Nephew had pancakes and french fries (which was an awesome combination, I thought) and I helped him clean up some spilled milk and I told him I was helping him because I loved him all the way to the moon and back, and he said “I love you TWO TIMES that!” and I kissed him on his little head because that made me have tears. Oh, do I love that child.

Then it was time to go home, and tonight I am ouchy from walking and ouchy from windburny but we had a lovely day. But I would recommend that you probably don’t go to a zoo in the winter that DOESN’T upkeep their paths, though. Total liability. Otherwise? Good times had at the zoo by all. Including the animals. They were probably so sad to see us go. We’re excellent zoo visitors. No one was as happy as we were. We won zooing!

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The cat who stole people’s BREATH

Lots of things going on in the world, right?

Whole damn U.S. government’s shut down. Someone shot at the White House or something, I don’t even know what the hell. People are very, VERY angry about the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare, if you like to call things by the wrong name in a sneering fashion, like my dad does, for example.) It’s October, but here in lovely New York, it feels like June.

IS IT THE APOCALYPSE?

Nah, probably not. Just Washington being especially childish. These are grown men and women who are playing a big old game of “I’m taking my ball and I’m GOING HOME” and they’re being stompy-stomp and it pisses me off that we elected them and they’re not doing their jobs and now basic things aren’t getting done and people aren’t getting paid and it’s all a problem.

Dad said, “WHY DO YOU WORRY ABOUT SUCH THINGS. THIS ISN’T GOING TO AFFECT YOU.” I replied, “It DOES affect me, as I am a human, with emotions and feelings, and I feel empathy” and he said, “UGH YOU ARE SO STRANGE.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have no emotions? I think maybe yes. (Oh, shush, Dad HAS emotions, I’m exaggerating, he’s just on the WRONG SIDE and thinks this government shutdown nonsense is a good idea. HOWEVER, in good news, he says – and he seems to be up on these things – that there’s some sort of thing that happens on – I think he said the 17th? something about the debt ceiling, I think? – and if the government isn’t up and running by then, it would be castrophic, and therefore, he thinks HIS PEOPLE will be forced to capitulate. I’m all for this, but of course I didn’t tell him this. So, if Dad’s right, we only have two more weeks of this to put up with.)

But surely there are better things going on in the world, right? We need some cheerfulness. This has been a crappy week.

Here in Amyland, things have been hellaciously busy. This past week has seen very little sleep, a lot of running around, and many adventures. Well, sort-of adventures. Busy-ness, at least. Two theater reviews, so far. (Both AMAZING shows. I love it when that happens.) Dinner with friend K. with delicious food and lots of talking and laughter. Haircut today, so for 24 hours I’ll look pretty and put-together, then I’ll be forced to do my own hair and it’s back to looking all frowzy and harried. Oh, and my car broke down so next week I have to bring it in for a billion dollars of repairs. SIGH.

Not actually me or actually my car. But close.

Not actually me or actually my car. But close.

Dumbcat is not pleased with all this running around. He would like more sitting around so he can curl up on me and sleep most sleepily; I have to admit, I miss that as well. Sorry, buddy. Very busy. Lots to do. Need to make money to buy your cat treats. The other morning he woke me up about ten minutes before my alarm with VERY LOUD SNORING because he was sleeping on my pillow right next to my face-area and snoring like a LITTLE FURRY CHAINSAW. I couldn’t decide whether it was more bothersome to be woken by him, or by the blaringly aloud alarm. He doesn’t MEAN to snore like a little furry chainsaw. It’s not his fault. He’s VERY TIRED. And snorey. And adorable.

Another play coming up, then hanging out with Mom and Dad this weekend, which should be fun-times. We will have food and shopping and presents. Because I am 4 days from a year older! Hooray!

Oh, also, I have STORIES which I have forgotten to tell you. From last weekend, when Cousin S. was visiting. She was all, “YOU NEED TO WRITE ABOUT THIS!” and I totally forgot because I was writing SO SO LATE and I was dying to read the new Stephen King book. (Which I finished. And it was AWESOME.)

So this past weekend, Cousin S. came to visit. Dad was CONVINCED we were going to get in trouble. I’m not sure that we were that much trouble as kids, but apparently Dad thought so? So he started saying, a few days before she got here, “you call me if you need bail money. I HAVE BAIL MONEY SET ASIDE. Those bail bondman, THEY ONLY TAKE CASH MONEY.” So all weekend, whenever we’d do anything, S. and I would say “Ooh, THIS is sure to make us need that bail money!” These things included eating sushi, going to the movies, and visiting the Empire State Plaza. (The last one of these is the only one that MIGHT have caused the need for bail money, because we decided we were walking somewhere maybe we weren’t supposed to when we were cruising around The Egg.) Dad seemed disappointed that we never needed that bail money.

The second thing is MUCH more worrisome.

Dumbcat tried to kill S.

I woke up one morning and walked quietly into the living room (where S. was sleeping) and was all, “where is that Dumbcat?” and looked and there was Dumbcat, ON HER CHEST, with his face all up in her face.

You know what that means, don’t you?

Dumbcat was totally stealing her breath.

Dad’s OBSESSED with cats stealing people’s breath. I think he heard it from my grandmother, and even though I explained to him it’s just a thing that people say because cats used to sleep in infants’ cribs because they were warm and smelled like milk, he STILL thinks one day, I will wake up dead (yes, he says that) with Dumbcat having stolen all my breath.

She woke up and said, “I cannot move THERE IS A CAT ON ME” and Dumbcat was all gleeful that TEH LAIDEY! TEH LAIDEY IS AWAYKE! and walked all over her with his mitten-paws most joyfully.

So I told Dad about this and he was all “I TOLD YOU!!! I TOLD YOU THAT CAT WOULD TRY TO STEAL SOMEONE’S BREATH! THAT CAT TRIED TO KILL YOUR COUSIN! WHAT WOULD I HAVE TOLD MY LITTLE BROTHER IF SHE HAD DIED BY CAT-BREATH-STEALING?”

Heh, Dad. I’m so pleased your theory came to fruition.

(Just so you’re all aware, Cousin S. is alive, well, and kicking back at home with her family now. She is not a victim of Dumbcat’s excessive love. Not even a little.)

Oh, ALSO, on a funny note, Cousin S. works in the medical field and we were talking about medication and apparently my current sleeping pill (my doctor’s constantly switching them up; she’s amazed I can’t sleep, and I’m quite sure soon I’ll be given horse tranquilizers) is also a CAT MEDICATION. I think for seizures. I am currently taking a cat seizure medication to help me sleep. Check me out, modern medicine, I AM A DAMN MIRACLE. MEEE-OW.

(SIDENOTE: cat seizure medication, which is probably sleeping pill number 5 or something, doesn’t work very well. Sometimes I sleep, sometimes I think of things like “OMG THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD! IT IS ON MY SHOULDERS!” and then I just lie there staring at the ceiling and thinking about how most people can just sleep SO DAMN EASILY and thanks, genetics.)

Time for beddy-bye, kiddos.

Remember – per Dad, we don’t need to worry about the government shutting down. IT DOES NOT AFFECT US.

Except for those of us it DOES affect, and those of us who have empathy for the people who are affected.

If you’re one of those people, my thoughts are with you. No matter what Dad says.

And hey, government-people? Get your shit together, yo. We put you in office. WE TRUSTED YOU WITH THIS JOB. So DO your damn job. This is embarrassing. OTHER COUNTRIES ARE LAUGHING AT US.

Sigh.

Happy weekends, people of the blogiverse.


And that, kiddos, is why we never, ever count our chickens.

Today there was a sadness. It’s a heart-hurty kind of day.

So this afternoon I was eating my lunch and playing around on Facebook (as I do) and saw this.

This is a cat that was available at one of our local shelters.

Who, exactly, does he look like?

OMG IT IS DUMBCAT’S THINNER YOUNGER TWIN!!!!

OK, so I had about ten minutes to make a very important decision (because I had to get back to work.) I was not planning to get another cat. The last great cat experiment did not turn out well. And poor Dumbcat. He WANTS a friend, but he’s so timid. (I also love having two cats, but his feelings are more important than mine.)

But this was Dumbcat’s TWIN. And listen, Lynx Point Siamese cats? They’re not something you see every day. Also? He was a polydactyl. He had extra toes. JUST LIKE DUMBCAT. And his name was VERY similar to Dumbcat’s really real name; enough so that it was spooky, actually. I wouldn’t even have to change his name. He’d fit in just fine (assuming he liked me, and I liked him, and he and Dumbcat got along, and such.)

I’m not the most impulsive human. But look at that face.

Yeah. I was gone. I was smitten.

I called the shelter. Yes, he was still there; yes, they were open; no, they couldn’t hold him, but they had very little traffic today, why didn’t I come in around 3:45, he’d still be there. I could bring him home today, actually. Neutered. All ready to go. Yup yup yup.

I jetted back into work. Scared my boss with “OMG THE BOSS! There is a CAT-RELATED-EMERGENCY can I leave early?” After she was talked down from thinking my cat had perhaps called me while I was on my lunch break (what, it might happen, he has thumbs) and said he was dying or something, and I explained the situation, she was very understanding (I have a wonderful boss, who is also my friend, and she is a bigger cat-lover than I am.)

All systems go. I had butterflies upon butterflies. Butterflies all up in my butterflies.

You see this isn’t going to end well, right? I started this on a down-note. I spoiled you before you began. I didn’t want to get your hopes up.

I went down the scariest little roads on my way there. (WTF, GPS, seriously? There HAD to be a less circuitous and less-likely-to-get-me-killed-by-yeti way to get to that shelter.) I ran in. The lady at the desk was all, “Go on back! He’s around the corner in the cat-room!”

I ran in.

His cage was empty.

I stood in front of it for a minute. This didn’t compute. She’d JUST SAID he was there.

There were two viewing rooms in the cat room. I peeked in them.

There he was. Up against the glass. He saw me and walked to the glass. And bashed into it with his face. In a very Dumbcat-like-way.

The two women in there ignored me. I knocked on the glass. They were both wearing scrubs; I assumed they were employees.

Amy: making an ass out of YOU and ME for almost 40 years now.

“I’m here for him,” I said.

They smiled and one said, “Did you fill out an application?”

“Not yet!” I said. “He’s mine – don’t give him to anyone else, ok?”

She nodded. “She has dibs!” she laughed.

I went out. I filled out the application. And halfway through, the lady at the desk said:

“Oh, someone else is taking that cat you want, by the way. You don’t need to finish filling out that application, if you don’t want to.”

I stopped. I got very cold. I looked at her.

“No, I…I told the employees back there I was here for him. I…”

“One of those people is an adopter. She got here a few minutes before you did. She decided she wants him.”

“They’re not both employees?”

“Nope.”

“But…one of them told me to fill this out? One of them said I had dibs?”

(But did she? Or was she saying the OTHER chick had dibs, and I misunderstood? What the hell was going on at this shelter of chicanery?)

The woman at the desk shook her head. “I mean, you can go back and see what’s going on, but it’s a done deal, I think.”

I went back to the cat room. The two women were now playing with OTHER cats. My boy was in his cage. He looked at me with his wise blue eyes, which were ever-so-slightly crossed. I thought about taking his cage card and going up front and lying and saying, “She said I could have him.”

Because he was mine, right? I came all this way. Wasn’t he mine? He was meine Wassermelone, right?

I’m not the devil. I couldn’t.

I went to the visiting area again. The same two women looked at me. I knocked and opened the door a little. The one who apparently WASN’T an employee (was just, randomly, wearing scrubs? What a calvacade of errors this place was, or maybe I was) looked up, annoyed.

“I’m sorry. Are you planning on taking the Siamese? I…I’m here for him, they told me he’d be here, I’m so hoping…it would mean so much…”

“Yes. Most likely. I am DECIDING. THANK YOU,” she said. And made that dismissive tut-noise. And looked at me pityingly.

And I walked up front and stood by the front desk because if I walked out without her deciding and she chose otherwise, what an asshole I’d be.

And a few minutes later, the front desk lady was all “HE’S ADOPTED” and that was that. No “I’m sorry” or “we really should have told you to come sooner” or “we’re sorry, we would have held him for you” or SOMETHING.

I sad-Charlie-Browned to the car. Where I wept. And cussed. And then wept some more.

I know. I KNOW. All things are meant to be, and blah blah blah, and it probably wasn’t the right TIME, or the right PLACE, and listen. I believe in all of that just as much as anyone you know. I really, really do. I live by that as much as I can.

But oh. Oh, I so wanted him. So very, very much. Because someday, Dumbcat will no longer be here. And this cat was two. And had a good long life to live. And I imagined him being Dumbcat’s younger friend, and making Dumbcat happy in his older years, and then having a cat when (shh, I don’t like to think about this) Dumbcat is no longer here to make me laugh every day.

So I cried in my car. Because some dismissive girl who got to the shelter just before me got him. And will she appreciate him like I would? I don’t know. Maybe. All I know is, she called him “she” three times while I was gathering up my things. And he’s a HE. So that’s a worry.

Then I went shopping to make the hurt stop, but only found ONE SHIRT so that didn’t help. And then my cable broke. And I got some shitty news. So it was a snowballing day of badness, and I’m going to take a cool shower and go to bed early because effffff.

Dumbcat waiting for me at home and wanting to be especially cuddly was nice, though. I told him about his long-lost brother. He just purred and headbutted my spleen.

I don’t want another cat. I want another DUMBCAT. Or, at least, one that looks enough like him that when that inevitable day comes that he is no longer headbutting my spleen, the hurt won’t devastate me as much as it might.

(Shush, I know there’s only one Dumbcat, let me have my fantasy, ok? OK. Great.)

So, if any of you are out and about in the world and see a homeless Dumbcat, and he’s looking for a home…you let me know. I’m totally willing to travel. Just promise me he’ll be there when I show up, ok? I don’t like crying in the car. It makes my glasses all fog up.

This one would be good. He looks sufficiently freaked-out enough to join my household.

This one would be good. He looks sufficiently freaked-out enough to join my household.


Even if they’d eat my whole face off, I totally still want one.

One of the (many) reasons I like talking to Andreas is that he constantly amazes me with all the things he knows. (And he just thinks they’re nothing. “Oh, I know this totally AMAZING THING! Eh, I’m sure everyone knows that, though.”) He’s always telling me new things in email, but where I REALLY get to learn the new things is when I get to talk to him with my face.

I very much enjoy talking to Andreas with my face. It is, by far, one of my favorite things about modern technology. Not only does it make me feel like I’m living in Jetsons-times, but also I miss Andreas and it is so nice to actually SEE him when I’m talking to him. I get very hand-wavy and happy and he makes me laugh and laugh but also we totally talk about serious things because I’m not ALWAYS a goofball and also, sometimes I get to see his adorable kiddos, and make them smile even though I’m sure they think I’m the crazy lady who lives in the computer and speaks gibberish.

I got to talk to Andreas for THREE WHOLE HOURS this past weekend! Until the very wee hours. Well, MY wee hours. Not the wee hours in the land of the Finns. Damn time zones, anyway. Why can’t my people all live right here in my town? Better still, right here in my HOUSE, which would be the most handy for chatting?

Among a million billion other awesome things that were discussed, Andreas taught me about an animal I didn’t know existed.

RACCOON DOGS!

I don’t even remember how it came up. He said something about raccoon dogs (I think that they were in his country?) and I was all, “That isn’t a thing. Raccoon dogs! That’s not REAL.” And he said, “It is SO real!” and promptly sent me a link to raccoon dogs, which do, indeed, exist.

“Can I have one?” I asked.

“No. They are wild. They’re not pets.”

“They would eat my face?”

“No. Probably they’d just run away.”

“LIKE DUMBCAT!”

This one's very much like Dumbcat. 'cause he's chunky.

This one’s very much like Dumbcat. ’cause he’s chunky.

Raccoon dogs are real things, but we don’t have them here in Merka. They aren’t raccoons. They’re more like dogs. Or foxes. They just LOOK like raccoons. And people hunt them for their fur, which is sadtimes. I mean, seriously. LOOK AT RACCOON DOG PUPS!

ZOMG!

ZOMG!

You don’t need to be fur-hunting something that looks like this. LOOK AT THESE FACES! I especially like the one on the right. He looks shocked and awed, but also peppy.

This one is SMILING. He wants to be my PET.

This one is SMILING. He wants to be my PET.

I know Andreas says I can’t have a raccoon dog for a pet because they’re not pets and he’s very practical, but everyone ALSO said Helper Mule didn’t like people, and we all know how THAT turned out. Helper Mule and I became the best of friends! When I left, I’m quite sure that Helper Mule was very sad. He seemed to be watching me leave in a very sad, mulish way. (Dad saw Helper Mule’s owner yesterday. “How is my MULE?” I asked. “I don’t know. Still alive, I suppose. At least, I didn’t hear otherwise. And I would assume if that damn mule had died, it’d come up in conversation,” Dad replied grumpily.)

Well, Andreas, you’re very practical, so I’ll take your word for it (even though it breaks my heart) that I can’t have a raccoon dog. HOWEVER, I have found this TOTALLY SAFE THING, so can I have this?

What do you get if you breed a domestic cat…

Like this handsome bugger RIGHT HERE...

Like this handsome bugger RIGHT HERE…

…with a beautiful, beautiful serval?

"Mom I don't want to haev baybeezz  with this cat she skeerz me," says Dumbcat.

“Mom I don’t want to haev baybeezz with this cat she skeerz me,” says Dumbcat.

YOU GET A SAVANNAH CAT!

They are beautiful and smart and loyal like dogs but also big. Look!

SO TALL! SO LONG!

SO TALL! SO LONG!

I WANT ONE!

I WANT ONE!

LOOK WHEN THEY ARE KITTENS!!!

OMG CAN YOU EVEN. I CANNOT. I CANNOT EVEN.

OMG CAN YOU EVEN. I CANNOT. I CANNOT EVEN.

But if I can’t have one of THESE cats, I found ANOTHER cat that is JUST AS GOOD.

A pixie bob!

Pixie bobs are supposedly descended from cats and bobcats who had some illicit sort of mountaintop love affair or something. I don’t even care about secret lovers, I just love this cat. He has a Dumbcat tail!

And tufty ears!

And this one looks like he wants to hide in the pots-and-pans cupboard! LIKE DUMBCAT!

This one looks like it needs antidepressants!

This one loves his owner SO MUCH!

They are not much bigger than normal cats.

ANDREAS CAN I HAVE A CAT THAT LOOKS LIKE A BOBCAT OR A SERVAL?

I tried to find out how much they cost but none of the breeder sites would list prices which makes me think I can’t afford them. When a store doesn’t list the price, you can’t afford it. That’s a Dad-rule.

Dammit. I so wanted a bobcat-cat. Or a serval-cat.

Oh, well. I have a Dumbcat-cat. That’ll have to do, I suppose.

You don't need a faency-catte, Mom. I em good enuf. I cuddel your legg while you write on the glowey tappy box. I em a goode boye!

You don’t need a faency-catte, Mom. I em good enuf. I cuddel your legg while you write on the glowey tappy box. I em a goode boye!

(VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: in case anyone wasn’t aware, as I always seem to get at least one person who’s all “OMG THAT’S SO IRRESPONSIBLE!” – please do not get your cats – or dogs – from breeders if you can help it. THIS POST IS IN JEST. There are wonderful animals that need homes at your local shelter; many of which will get put to sleep if they are not adopted, because space is at a premium. I say this as someone who, for two years, had to put down animal after animal while she worked at the Humane Society. There are not only wonderful mixed-breeds at your local shelter, there are purebreds. There are purebreds ALL THE DAMN TIME. Sometimes even with papers, because their owners have turned them in! So if you feel you can’t live without a purebred, check out your local shelter first, please. You might find your next family member right there, on death row – and it might not even be the one you went in for. Neither of my past two cats were the cats I went in looking for – and, actually, when Dumbcat crossed my path, I wasn’t even LOOKING for a new pet. He just showed up and I realized I couldn’t live without his cheerful, beautiful idiocy in my life. So, yes. The pixie bob and the Savannah cat are gorgeous, and if one fell from the sky into my life, I would happily take it. But always check out your local shelter first, please!)


A long-awaited meeting

Mom will be here soon for our fancy evening of dinner and a play, but I have HUGE NEWS!

It was a day we have ALL been waiting for. For about a year and a half!

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It was HELPER MULE DAY!

Today I went home to do some home-things. Home is about 45 minutes from here. You have to come down from the mountains and drive through a little town and then through a lot of nothing and THEN you are at my parents’ house.

First I got to spend some Nephew-time. He was playing with some Lego-like bricks and some trains and explained to me that Cranky the Train was so-named because he CRANKED things, not because he was annoyed. I told him I was Cranky the Amy, and he said, “NO, Aunt Amy!”

Then he had to go back to his dad’s house so they could run errands and The Nephew was all “NO NO NO I WANT TO PLAY!” and I hugged him and tickled him and kissed his little fists of fury and made him smile and they left and then Dad and I searched through the whole house for some things I was looking for and were ultimately successful (but not before a humorous misunderstanding where he thought a stuffed bear was a cat and was tearing a room apart looking for something under a bear when I was like, “DAD, I said it was in this box with the cat on the side?” and he was like “THIS IS A CAT!” and I was like, “Or a bear, but they’re both mammals, I suppose” and he was all “grumble grumble.”

Then we went to visit my grandmother. Grandmothers get tinier every time you see them. That is a very sad thing. We talked for a while and then it was time to visit Dad’s garden to see if the varmints ate it. They did not! Yay for no varmints!

THEN IT WAS HELPER MULE TIME!

On the way to Rooster’s house, Dad said, “You’d better not call that thing a Helper Mule, I think it’s just a mule. I don’t want you to hurt his feelings.” So the whole way I was all, “Hi sir, thank you for letting me visit your mule.” Dad was all, “What are you doing?” And I said “Practicing so I don’t say ‘HELPER MULE!!!’ in front of him and EMBARRASS YOU!” and Dad rolled his eyes.

At Rooster’s house, there are many animals. First, there was a happy red coonhound. He was not very old, and he didn’t understand that you were not supposed to jump or bite. (Not bite HARD. Just kind of a puppy mouthy bite. But I said “You stop that, happy red dog!” and he totally did. Animals like me. And it is mutual.)

There was also a pen of clucky chickens. They went “buck buck buck!” and the happy red dog bashed gleefully into the wire at them but couldn’t get to them and they rolled their chickeny eyes at him.

Then there was a pen with two beagle puppies in it! Well, I think more beagle tweens. They were a little older than puppies. One was lighter and had amber eyes and one was traditional dark black/white/tan. I was madly in love with them and they went “haroooo!” because that’s what beagles do. I petted them for a very long time through the wire and they licked my fingers most happily and pounced on each other and went “haroo! Haroo!” and I laughed and laughed. (Beagles are my first favorite type of dog ever, closely followed by pit bulls. We raised beagles growing up and I have the best memories of beagles.)

THEN IT WAS TIME TO GO TO THE BARN!

Rooster and Mrs. Rooster and Rooster’s grandson and some girl I didn’t know and Dad and I all went to the barn.

First in the barn, there was…

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BABY PIGS! WEE PIGLETS!

Rooster’s grandson caught one and it said “WEE WEE WEEEEE” and did not like that but that meant I got to pet it. It was bristly and scratchy and had little clacky hooves and when he put it down it ran away super-fast.

Then…what was on the other side of the barn?

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HELPER MULE!

His name is Chief!

At first, he was shy. Mrs. Rooster could touch him, but he was scared of me. “I will Helper Mule whisper you!” I thought at him furiously. “JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE!”

Rooster’s grandson let me feed Chief some hay. He ate the hay, but then backed off again. Then Mrs. Rooster let me feed him some carrots. He ate those carrots more crunchily. Then he realized maybe this new lady might be a food source and wasn’t so scared of me. THEN I got to feed him OATS, and, well, that cemented our growing friendship.

Rooster and Mrs. Rooster and Dad were talking about many things, and while they were being social, I spent much time with Helper Mule.

I took many photos. There was one of me with him, but Dad took it, and it is highly unflattering. It will stay lost to the ages.

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Then it was time to go home, and Rooster said I could come back ANY TIME, and also offered to sell me Helper Mule for only $8,000, or for free if I gave him my family’s top-secret Michigan sauce recipe. I declined because I didn’t want to get excommunicated from my family. (But I did want to own Helper Mule. We had made fast friends. And when I was leaving, he walked out of the barn-area and watched me go with sad mule-eyes.)

Also, Helper Mule was quite tall, and furry, and dusty, and his nose was soft, and his eyes were kind.

Dad said everyone at Rooster’s house isn’t always that happy, and I said, “do you think my irrepressible charm got to them?” and he said, “Yes, actually, I do” and I liked that.

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When I got home, I had to wash my hands a lot. Dad was all, “DON’T YOU TOUCH ANYTHING! YOU ARE FILTHY WITH MULE!”

It was a very successful day. And I totally whispered him. “Be good and be nice and don’t get in trouble, most wonderful Helper Mule,” I said to my new friend. “Someday I will come back to see you and we will have the best of times.”

And he wisely nodded his helpful head.

When I was whispering him, he said to tell ALL the internettians hello.

So HELLO FROM THE HELPER MULE NAMED CHIEF!

Happy rest-of-your-days, people! I have to go get pretty and wash the rest of the mule off me for a night of thee-ay-tah. Back tomorrow with MORE adventures!


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