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Happy Halloween everyone!

Ah, it’s that time of year again, the time the animals dread… well, actually, Simon and Cricket enjoy it and the others accept it in a resigned sort of way since there are tasty treats involved. Two things to note before I start here:
1. I am actually posting these pics on Nov 1 but am backdating to when we took them. I didn’t have time to put them up last night because we were watching scary movies and eating pizza. 🙂
2. The pics unfortunately make our gross living room rug look even worse than it is; it was filthy when we bought the house, we even had it steam-cleaned once, but it’s so bad that the years of dirt just sort of settles then seeps back up. Six months of unrelenting rain and seven of us coming in and out of the yard constantly doesn’t exactly help. This year’s income tax is earmarked for hardwood floors.

Anyway, those disclaimers aside, I now present the holiday costume pet torture 2009 edition:

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Meet Count Catula – we made Simon’s costume ourselves this year, Joy did all of the actual sewing by hand since I quicky discovered that flannel is not sewing machine friendly.

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Simon loves dressing up, and particularly seems to like capes. If you click on either of his pics, there are a couple more in the gallery we uploaded. He paraded all over the house. Taking pictures at night of a black cat in a black cape was a bit of a challenge though.

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Initially, Winter’s flapper costume produced spontaneous paralysis and caused her to fall over dead…

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She did, however, eventually recover the use of her limbs long enough to pose for us.

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Olive has a bad leg so we let her off easy and she got to wear Cricket’s costume briefly. She was most unimpressed.
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Lindsy, also being old and creaky nowadays, wore a Halloween party collar in lieu of an actual costume.
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Cricket wore her costume to the vet’s for her recheck and X-rays, which we thought was pretty funny. She had a blast showing off.

Well, that’s it for another year… hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween!

Things That Go Bump

Back in the spring of 1998, I moved into a little trailer up in the hills in Fletcher, NC. It was the very first time in my life I had been entirely on my own, and the first night I stayed there I brought a load of boxes and an air mattress, planning to go shopping for furniture in the morning. I had left my two Chihuahuas with my roommates (being Chihuahuas, they would have been utterly horrified by the lack of furniture) and brought only Lilly the Pit Bull with me, for company. After a quick trip out for some groceries, I began unpacking and situating things as best I could, but the lack of furniture made this a bit problematic; I had my speakers and stereo, but no shelf to put the stereo on, my computer, but no desk, and so forth. Finally, I gave up on the boxes, inflated the air mattress, and prepared to settle in for the night.

After being accustomed to living with five dogs, a bird, and three roommates, the trailer seemed deafeningly silent. I only had one small table lamp, which I’d plugged in and set on the floor in a corner, and the stacked boxes that filled the room cast eerie shadows on the walls. The whole effect was rather creepy, and as I arranged the blankets on my makeshift bed, I thought to myself that I was probably not going to get much sleep that night.

Suddenly, the room erupted in chaos! There was an anguished, guttural squeal, followed by a loud crash as one of the big wooden speakers toppled over on its side, then thrashing and scuffling from behind the boxes. I just about jumped out of my skin, convinced some sort of siege was under way. Obviously, the calamity involved Lilly somehow (her trademark shriek had given that part away) and I peered warily around the boxes, convinced that either (a) some wild animal/monster/serial killer had gotten into the trailer and attacked her or (b) she was having her first ever epileptic seizure.

I crept closer… part of Lilly’s wildly spasming body came into view in the semidarkness, then crashed back out of sight. More boxes fell. I could hear gasps and shrill whiny moans of frustration and effort. What the bloody heck was going on back there?! I felt along the wall and finally found the switch for the overhead light and flipped it on, heart hammering, then I peeked around the stack of boxes…

— and came upon my idiot dog locked in mortal combat with the two-foot rubber rat I had inadvertently stood on top of the speaker earlier while unpacking. Lilly had a deep animosity towards Halloween decorations and any sort of rubber toys, which has been discussed previously on this blog, and this particular item had been at the top of her death list for some time, but prior to this point, had resided at the top of a bookshelf above her line of sight and had thus escaped massacre. I separated psycho dog and her nemesis and stuffed the surprisingly undamaged giant rat into a kitchen cabinet. My nerves were shot, and as I’d predicted, I didn’t get much sleep that night.

The two foot, reared up and snarling, red eyed, foam rubber rat went on to have an uneventful life, once again perched high atop a bookcase, until we moved to Arizona. Then it found itself on top of a stack of boxes in a shed in the backyard while we got settled. The box was apparently not quite out of Lilly’s reach, and one day we forgot to close the shed door. After letting Lilly, Lindsy, Mouse and Igor out for a pee, only the latter three returned to the house a short while later. I found Lilly at the rear of the yard, looking triumphant and surrounded by a veritable snowstorm of tiny chunks and shreds of black foam rubber. I wondered, not for the first time or the last, if perhaps my next pet should be a turtle.

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Above: Lilly with her kitten Wednesday. I figured I should probably include this picture to show that Lilly really was a sweet dog, to most anything that didn’t fall into the rubber Halloween toy or large bug category. She was actually even terrified of a five pound declawed Persian cat named Ripley.

Link: Frightening, but not really in the way the artist intended

Joy found these Halloween cakes on Cake Wrecks – my favorite is the ‘angry toilet paper’. Oh, and if you’ve never been on Cake Wrecks before, prepare to lose at least a few hours of your life there. 🙂

Nipsy says “hi”

On June 6, 2003, we lost our cat Nipsy to cancer. A few weeks later I had a dream about her and wrote down the details below; I have never shared this publicly before because I know it will sound kooky to some people, but I truly believe it was more than just a dream…

I woke up this morning in tears. I had an incredibly vivid dream that was so real it seems like it was more than just a dream, it felt as if I’d experienced some sort of visitation from beyond. It started out as the typical nonsense dream where everything is kind of surreal; I was in the kitchen cooking something — except it was my grandmother’s kitchen, which didn’t strike me as odd. After frantically searching the fridge and freezer because I wanted to add frozen corn to the recipe and couldn’t find any, I then went out to get some from the store… I walked through a neighborhood that was completely familiar to me, but was no place I have ever lived or been in real life.

The dream sort of shifted and I was now home, sitting down at a table to eat the food I had made, which was a plate of some sort of stir-fry looking stuff with the corn I’d bought in it. Somehow I was actually in my bedroom, and the table was actually the bed with a big quilt spread out on it, but the rest of the room layout was like it is in real life. Again, the sort of weirdness that often occurs in dreams where things that shouldn’t make any sense at all just sort of happen and your mind accepts them.

It was at this point the dream changed and everything became somehow sharper, more real. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and looked over, and there was our cat Nipsy sitting beside me staring down at my plate. I froze and my heart leapt in my chest. It wasn’t one of those dreams where someone that is gone is alive as if they’d never died, I was very aware that my dead cat was sitting there beside me, hunched over like a little silver gargoyle, waiting for a food handout as she had done so many times in her life. I was scared to move, or even take my eyes off her, for fear she’d disappear.

Joy was coming into the room to get something out of the closet in the dressing room; I quickly looked over at her and said, quietly but excitedly, “do you see her?” and she just looked real sad and said “I can’t see her, it hurts too much” and she left. That made me feel very bad for her and sad that she couldn’t share this with me, but I looked back and Nipsy was still there. She paraded back and forth across the quilt a few times with her tail held stiffly up in the air — I could even see the crooked tip where it had been broken — then she threw herself down on my left hand, which was beside the plate. This was another habit of hers, she’d flop down onto your hand and then rub her head back and forth on it and gaze up at you, and this is what she was now doing. She seemed very happy and was furiously purring.

It was so incredibly detailed to me, completely unlike my usual dreams. I felt the weight and warmth of her head, the vibrations of her purring, even the itching sensation on my face and nose from the fine wispy hair that she was shedding that always seemed to float right up into your face when you were petting her.

In the dream I was very happy to have her there, but there was an undercurrent of sadness too because I understood she couldn’t stay. I just sat and looked at her and thought about how much I loved her and had missed seeing her, taking in every detail, every hair, because I knew she would soon be gone again, and somewhere around this time I woke up. The dream was still vivid in my mind, and a terrible sense of loss welled up… All of the hurt and grief from when we had Nipsy put down just came crashing down on me again and I couldn’t stop crying. I felt comforted that she was happy, but the sense of finality was crushing.

When I told Joy I’d dreamt about Nipsy I fell apart again, then pulled myself together and said quietly “Nipsy says hi…and she’s not mad.” I knew I’d really upset Joy by telling her about the dream and saying that, but I felt compelled to say it anyway… It was as if it was something I had to say — like I was passing on a message. Joy is still very upset over losing Nipsy and can’t even talk about it, and I know she feels on some level that the horrible euthanasia the vet mishandled so badly was her fault, and that Nipsy died blaming her. The dream left me feeling very sad, but also more at peace; I know this sounds really nutty but I really believe Nipsy came to visit me, to comfort me and let me know she was alright, and to try and ease Joy’s pain…

She probably came for the corn, too; she always loved corn. Wherever she is now, I hope she has all the Brie cheese, King Oscar brisling sardines, and creamed corn that she wants.

It was such an unusual experience, so vivid and emotional, that the details have stuck with me even to this day. I still firmly believe that it was Nipsy’s way of reaching out one last time, and if that gets me labelled a kook, that’s OK.

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A bit behind

OK, so I know I promised a bunch of relevant posts this week as Halloween approaches but I didn’t account for 12 hour workdays the past two days, with 18 hours and nearly a thousand miles of drive time just for those two days alone!

Anyway, I am about to post one and still hoping to get at least one more up before Saturday, if I can get home tomorrow at a decent hour and with a few brain cells intact.