Trouble Meyer, 1998-2015


Last week, we had to have our wonderful, cranky, crotchety 17-year-old cat, Trouble, put to sleep.

We got Trouble way back in 1998 at Seattle Animal Control. We wanted to get a companion for Commie, and as always, decided to let the cat choose us. Or choose me, as it turned out — we passed by Trouble’s cage (marked with the temporary shelter name “The Little Ninja”), and she reached through the bars and grabbed at me. From that moment on, she was very much my cat. She didn’t mind Scott all that much if I wasn’t around, but for the most part, if I was in the room, I was definitely the most important monkey around.

Trouble was skittish around other people, but loved to cuddle with me. She was fairly quiet for a lot of years, then really came into her tortoiseshell voice — creaky meows that we referred to as murbling, bitching, nagging, and various other terms meant with love.

Since Commie passed two years ago, Trouble’s health had been up and down — thyroid issues, mystery wheezing and noxious bad breath (chest X-rays were clear, the vet was mystified, so we went with antibiotics and crossed our fingers; she responded to the treatment, but we still don’t know what was really wrong with her). Even up to 2 weeks before our cross-country move, we weren’t sure if we’d be moving with one cat or two. We had more than one time in the last year when we prepared to lose her.

She made it across the country, and took right away to the new apartment (the ground-floor windows with a view of people walking their dogs has proven popular). But then she took a turn for the worse a few days after we arrived. She stopped eating, stopped socializing, stopped grooming, and seemed absolutely miserable; she found an empty bookshelf and stayed there, with only an occasional shaky walk out to visit the litter box (where things were left uncovered, and weren’t pleasant). We rushed her to a vet down here; she’d lost over a pound in just over three weeks. We all agreed that while we could run more tests, and try new medications in an attempt to pinpoint what was making her shut down, trying to extend her life a few more weeks or months . . . she was pretty clearly telling us that she was done.

I doubt I’ll ever have another cat who loves me as much as that little cat did. I think she would have crawled inside of me if she could, sometimes. Of course, we’ll get Cheddar another companion; hopefully someone closer to her own age. Probably not another tortie, though — we already had the best one there was.

Trouble foot

Nothing Pink Can Stay

I’m loving the exotic hair color, but what I’m not loving is how fast it fades. Three weeks in, and the bright pink made it to a salmon-ish color, thanks to the pink fading and revealing the orange undertones of my bleached hair. I used the second half of the tube of magenta and left it on for a good two hours, so I’m freshly fluorescent again. I’m thinking once this pink fades, I’ll make my way to purple, then from there to blue. I figure as my dark roots grow out, I’ll want a darker color on top so it isn’t that drastic of a difference.

Before and after:

Faded salmon, then bright pink again.

Faded salmon, then bright pink again.

This should get me through to Arizona; then I’ll go purple after we move.

Speaking of the move, we’re packing and cleaning a little bit every day. Sometimes, we have helpers.

Cats. In Boxes. Surprising!

Cats. In Boxes. Surprising!

We have everything booked, from cat airfares (they’ll ride in the cabin, under the seats in front of us, as our carry-ons) to the moving cube for our stuff, to moving dudes on both ends. I feel as ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.

We’ve culled a lot of stuff out — a lot of clothes and kitchen stuff went to Goodwill, and we donated lots of books to the library. I still kept tons, of course. Here’s a peek at the paperbacks I’ve kept. You can tell some of them are older and crustier than others.

Beat-up paperback books.

Beat-up paperback books.

Some of them, the pages aren’t even stuck to the spine anymore. And yet I can’t get rid of them! Though they are a challenge to read.

We had a credit left at a place up in Winter Park called The Wine Room — they have hundreds of wines in the Enomatic wine dispenser machines. So we cruised up there and had ourselves a few tastes, and found a couple of new wines we really liked.

Enomatic wine machines.

Enomatic wine machines.

Although some of the descriptions didn’t sound all that appetizing:

Wine flavored with asphalt?

Wine flavored with asphalt?

Somehow, “crushed rock, loamy earth, and asphalt” aren’t the flavors I’m usually looking for in a wine. We decided to pass on sampling this one. I like my wines mild, and a little sweet. Found a couple of Rieslings to get a full bottle of, once we’ve moved. (There are a lot of things that are being put on hold right now, and added to the “once we’ve moved” list. The less stuff I have to pack and have transported, the better.)

We cruised out to IKEA locally here, to decide which bed frame we want to get once we land in Arizona. It’s pretty much going to be [1] get the apartment keys; [2] set up the cats in a closed-off area with litter box, food, and water; and [3] go to IKEA to get a bed. We’re getting the Sultan Hanestad mattress, which is the newer version of our old Sultan Huglo which I love.

While we were there, I saw these light fixtures. Does anyone out there like them? They look kind of like wadded up tissues to me.

IKEA crumpled tissues lights.

IKEA crumpled tissues lights.

Eh, maybe if you had the right other decor in your house. Though I can’t imagine what that decor would be.

Last but not least, I finally found a place that serves gluten-free fish and chips. And it was right in my backyard the entire time! A place called Cookes of Dublin, in Downtown Disney, makes all of their fried stuff (fish, shrimp, onion rings, even mozzarella sticks) fresh to order, so you can get it in the gluten-free batter and fried up in a separate dedicated gluten-free fryer.

Gluten-free fish and chips.

Gluten-free fish and chips.

I haven’t had fish and chips in years. And it was great!! Plus, they mix a little bit of chopped parsley in with the gluten-free batter, so you always know for sure that you got the right stuff. We’ll probably have to stop by one more time before we leave the area, because who knows when we’ll find GF fried fish again?

So, that’s where we’re at. Busting ass and stressing out, but soon we’ll be rid of Florida for good, and launched on a new and exciting adventure!

Comrade Meyer, 1998-2013

Comrade Meyer, 1998-2013

For those who haven’t heard yet, we had to put our wonderful cat Commie to sleep on November 22nd.

He’d been losing weight at an alarming rate, going from 16 pounds down to a little over 8; we did a bunch of tests at the vet, and he passed almost all of them with flying colors. It wasn’t one of the usual suspects: diabetes, thyroid issues, kidney, or liver. He did have a bit of protein in his urine, and evidence of a bacterial infection. We gave him kitty antibiotics, and planned on taking him back in for a new urine test when those were done, to figure out the cause of the protein.

Scott tried to take him in for the test a couple of times, but Commie got really good at having a pee at 5 or 6 in the morning before we got up, that sneaky little fellow. We figured we’d give it another chance on Friday.

For a few days, he’d been breathing a little heavier than usual. But on Friday (a day when he peed before we got up again, so devious), his breathing got heavier, and he started open-mouth panting. While dogs pant with their mouths open to cool down, when a cat pants it’s usually a pretty bad sign. Scott took him in to the vet that afternoon, and I met up with them there after work; they were just finishing up taking x-rays, so we could get a better idea of what was going on.

The x-rays showed that his chest was full of fluid. The vet talked us through the possibilities, but it was clear to all of us that he was in pain, and any type of diagnostic testing would cause him even more pain. And of the two big problems it could be (congestive heart failure or feline infectious peritonitis), neither could be cured. So we made the painful, difficult choice to have him put to sleep.

We had a great 15 years with Commie; it was sheer luck that the day we went to the Humane Society was the same day he’d just been released from quarantine, having been removed from a seized Russian fishing vessel off the Washington coast. The crew was deported, and a half-dozen animals went for adoption. We took little Commie, less than a year old, into the little visiting room, and he climbed straight onto Scott’s lap and curled up for a nap. From that very first day, he was a sweet, cuddly, wonderful lap cat with a great personality. My friend Allison referred to him as a gentleman, and that’s absolutely what he was.

We thought we were going to lose him three years ago, when he had a tumor in his eye socket; it didn’t react to steroids, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory medication, but after we made the decision to not torment him with more hopeless treatment and just enjoy our last few weeks with him, the tumor spontaneously went away. The vet referred to him as a miracle cat. So we ended up getting three bonus years of him. Which, of course, wasn’t enough.

It’s interesting to note that he passed on Humane Society Day. It’s thanks to them that we had 15 amazing years with one of the sweetest cats I’ll ever know.

Commie on the Laundry

July: One Heck of a Month

I’m very, very glad to be on the backside of July. Because man, was that one packed month.

Most of the busy came from work. I’d been working at one specific desk in my department, booking one specific kind of talent and writing contracts for them. Now I’m at a different desk, writing contracts for a completely different kind of talent. Which you’d think would be similar, but they’re done in completely different ways, and it’s surprisingly hard to get your head working in a different direction.

(Could I use the word “different” more? Probably.)

At any rate, I wasn’t able to dedicate all of my time learning the new job, since I still had to do the old job, so for a couple of weeks I’d hop over to the new desk for an hour or two at a time every day, and learn a small portion of the job, and scribble down notes. And of course, in a 20-step process, that means learning step 17 one day, then moving on to step 8 the next day, then learning both step 4 and step 11 the next. It’s only now that I’ve been doing the job for a week that I’m seeing all of the steps in order, and things are clicking.

Add in that during this fortnight, while learning the new desk, the other person who did my old job (several of the desks have two people splitting the load) was on vacation. So I spent two weeks covering two desks while learning a third. Then after that, I got to spend a week training someone to do my old desk, while still popping over to the new desk and learning more little tidbits there.

Yeesh, I’m tired just writing about it. But I made it through. I’m slow now, because I’m going over everything a thousand times, and I’m consulting my notes on every step. Time will bring up my speed.

Things are good in the homestead. Scott went off to San Diego Comic-Con, and had an enjoyable time. I considered going, for a short while, but eventually realized that the very thought of it was making me panic. Too many people, too small a space, unknown city … I would have been a crazy panic panda the entire time. Once Scott got there, he confirmed that me staying home was the absolute right choice.

(We are planning on going on JoCo Cruise Crazy next February. It’s like a very small con, centered around people I like very much, and with your hotel room right there, instead of a crowded 30-minute bus ride away. Centered around a tropical cruise vacation where you don’t have to worry about finding a place to eat or a quiet corner, since it’s ALL places to eat and quiet corners. It seems like the perfect kind of con for me.)

The cats are doing well, and remain the most beautiful cats in the world. With the kissiest little faces. Look at Commie’s little face! I think I’m going to go give him a smooch right now.

I’ve acquired a Miracle Fruit plant, because I’m crazy that way. If you haven’t heard of Miracle Fruit, it’s a small berry that you crush in your mouth and swish around, and then for a couple of hours afterward, sour things taste sweet. You could eat a whole lemon, and it would taste like amazingly sweet lemon candy. There’s a chemical (called “miraculin,” hilariously enough) in it that alters the receptors on your tongue.

No berries yet on this plant, and I don’t know how long it’ll take before some arrive. It’s a slow-growing plant. But since the berries themselves cost from two to five dollars apiece online, I figured I’d just try to grow my own. (You can also get tablets made from the fruit, which are cheaper than the fruits themselves, but apparently don’t last anywhere near as long.)

Finally, we’ve finally become people who put little family decals on the car window. These are the Star Wars family car decals from ThinkGeek. Which are, sadly, out of stock right now. They came in a set of 50, so we have Jawas and Vaders and Lukes and such galore. What to use them on … hmmm. These particular choices are based on How to Decide Which Star Wars Character You Are Most Like, in which Rick imagines us as we really are.

Commie bit me (and that really hurt)

Well we certainly had a day full of adventure yesterday.

For a couple of days, we’d noticed some fleas on the cats. I have no idea how on earth these two got them, since they’re 99% indoor, and the only outdoor exposure they get is on our 2nd-floor deck. I suppose either this apartment came with fleas already installed, or my one friend with indoor/outdoor cats brought some over when she visited.

Anyway, we kept an eye on the cats and didn’t notice any more scratching than usual. But then yesterday we suddenly saw that Commie had gnawed a little sore spot on his back. And going through his fur, he was loaded with fleas and flea dirt.

We figured that we’d need to treat the cats and the house both. So off to the pet store we went, to check out our options.

We ended up getting those fine-toothed flea combs and some flea-killing shampoo. I decided against a bomb-fogger or boric acid on the carpets for now (I’m going to try the salt method first, since it’s so very harmless to us and the cats). And we opted to come home and research whether we wanted to go with flea collars or liquid treatments.

We combed the cats (Commie wasn’t a fan, but Trouble put up with it well) and dunked all of the fleas we found into a bowl of warm water. They drowned pretty quickly. Then we moved on to the bath.

Scott did this comic in 2006. Which was well after the last time we gave the cats a bath. So it’s been at least 5 years.

The cats did not deal with it well.

We did Trouble first; she moaned and writhed and meowed quite a bit, but then seemed resigned to her fate by the end. And when we let go of her after the rinsing was done, she actually sat there and let us towel her off a bit. Which was quite civil of her.

Then it was Commie’s turn. And he was way, WAY worse about the whole thing. And he’s also WAY stronger than Trouble. He was hard to hold, and very wriggly, and VERY pissed. So he did was any sensible cat would do when being held down and tortured; he lashed out with his teeth. And bit my finger. Twice.

For those of you who haven’t been bitten by a cat, their teeth are like little needles. And they go WAY in. And you need to wait for them to let go. And it hurts like hell.

We got the bath done, and set him free, where he proceeded to sit on the bathroom floor and tolerate a toweling-off. So at least neither of them made a beeline for the dusty under-bed. Scott did the toweling, while I cleaned my finger and doused it in hydrogen peroxide. I put on some antibiotic ointment, some gauze, wrapped a Band-Aid around it all, then went straight to visit Dr. Internet.

Dr. Internet said that a LOT of cat bites get infected, specifically because they’re so small and deep, and a cat can be a total Yuck Mouth. And oh, hey, Dr. Internet also said that if you’re a child or an oldster or don’t have the best immune system, you should totally visit an actual doctor immediately and start on some antibiotics.

Trouble tried to be helpful, in that she hopped right up on the desk and got her wet fur near the electronics. And then did some glaring.

Anyhoo, the tip of my finger was numb, and I’m immune-compromised, and even though I felt like the biggest hypochondriac in the world, we went to the emergency room (which we only seem to ever visit at 11 at night). I didn’t want to wait until this afternoon to go see my regular doctor and get antibiotics. So off we went, to the same ER we visited when I had the mysterious chest pain (which turned out to be a panic attack brought on by a vicious inner ear infection). At least they didn’t treat me like a hypochondriac. Everyone agreed that since I’m immune-compromised, it was absolutely the right move to get checked out and started on antibiotics right away.

Even when it’s a small thing, a trip to the ER takes 3 hours. First a trip to the triage room, where they took my vitals. And where I got to watch a baby throw up right outside the room. Poor kiddo. Back to the waiting room, then a trip down the hall to sit on a bed for an hour and a half. They looked at my finger, had me pay, gave me a tetanus shot, and sent me home. Of course, all of those steps had at least 15 or 20 minutes in between.

And if you haven’t had a tetanus shot lately (I don’t think I’d had one since stepping on a rusty nail as a kid), it’s a classic pinching-then-burning injection in the arm. What you don’t expect is how much it hurts the next day. At least rabies isn’t a concern, since we took the kids in last year for their 3-year booster.

They didn’t even cut away the skin flaps over the punctures (I did remove one, the big one in the middle, because it was hanging by a thread). So the big one looks worse than the rest, but the flap is covering a nice puncture near the top, and there are two other skinflaps covering holes on either side of the big one.

At least it took so long at the ER, I got the feeling back in the tip of my finger. So no nerves were severed, yay! It was swollen and warm, but that’s to be expected when you’re deeply stabbed with a needle-like object.

By the time we got home, the cats were more dry, and perfectly pleasant. And my worries about late-night retribution were for naught — they were actually more affectionate than normal, probably because they were delighted to have survived such a harrowing experience.

Today I treated them both with Advantage, combed more fleas out of Commie (he was totally up for it today, go figure), and did five loads of laundry, including all-new bedding. Tomorrow we’ll start with Project Carpet Salt, and hopefully tomorrow we’ll also start seeing more dead fleas than living fleas, since Advantage is supposed to really start kicking in around 12 hours after application.

Oh, and today the finger is all bruisey inside. But the swelling and pain have gone down.

At least I’ll finally have something to say when I’m asked, “Did you do anything interesting this weekend?”

(Besides, of course, starting Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, which is lovely so far.)

(This post’s title gleefully mooched from the classic internet video “Charlie Bit Me“.)

(A tiny idiotic part of my mind is worried now that Commie has had a taste of delicious human blood.)

Photodump: A Quite Busy October

It’s been a busy little month at the House of Meyer. We took our first ever cruise near the beginning of the month, which was awesome. But then we also had visitors come to us!

Scott’s mom and younger brother came to town for a few days, so we showed them a good time. That good time included visiting Disney parks:

I took this with a HDR camera app for my phone. The results aren’t as good as real HDR work, but it still comes out pretty cool. The colors seem more vivid, and everything is super-sharp.

I was also able to take the four of us on a surprise voyage — a fireworks-watching cruise out on the lake in front of the Magic Kingdom. I, a person who never wins anything, won it! It’s part of the “magic backstage” program, which provides nice little thank-yous for cast members. We set sail from the Contemporary Resort.

The weather was a bit drizzly, and there were a lot of pesky bugs down at the Contemporary marina, so the pool wasn’t being used by any people. Good thing, because a dozen or so ducks made it their home base.

We headed out on the water, and we were given drinks and snacks.

Neither Scott nor his Mickey-shaped “crispy cereal bar” are actually that creepy.

The fireworks show wasn’t the usual Wishes, but a special Halloween presentation. Awesome as always.

Our little boat had the soundtrack piped in. It was a load of fun!

At one point in our Disney-goings, we went to a cast-specific store. It used to be just merchandise, but now they have a section where you can shop from a limited selection of groceries. The prices were great! I just don’t need a restaurant-sized can of marinara sauce. But I did get some produce, because the Granny Smiths looked excellent.

And indeed they were. Fresh and tart, as opposed to a lot of the cold-storage stuff the groceries have at this time of year.

You know what else is delicious?

IKEA chocolate. I’ve never been much of a dark chocolate person (really, the bulk of my experience has been the miniature Hershey’s Special Dark bars that come in the Xmas assortment), but I’ve heard that it’s good for you, so I tried out IKEA’s Choklad Mörk. And it’s surprisingly tasty!

Also apparently delicious: grass.

I planted a little patch of grass for the cats to enjoy, since their main outdoorsy time is on our 2nd floor deck. So far Commie is still scared to come out on the deck, but shy Trouble loves it. And she loves to eat her greens. It’s surprising how fast this Bermuda grass grows.

My lemon trees are doing well as well. The Eureka still hasn’t bloomed, but the Meyer went through a lovely bloom (and those flowers smelled fantastic). I’ve been warned to not expect lemons right off the bat, but it sure looks like I have almost a dozen little guys growing. They’re tiny so far, but making nice progress.

They’re just adorable!

Now that I’ve sidetracked like crazy, back to the visiting Meyers. We also went to Sea World! It was my first time, but everyone else had already been a couple of years ago. Still, we three young’uns got to ride Manta for the first time together.

I really loved that coaster. You kind of dangle downward on your belly, so there’s none of that bashing and smashing of my head like I get from a lot of looping coasters. Compared to Manta, the old Kraken coaster was painful and kind of boring.

Had a surprisingly good gluten-free meal (roasted chicken) there, and I was also impressed at the upkeep of the park. Everything was neatly maintained, freshly painted, and very clean. I went in with Unversal-level expectations, so Sea World kind of blew me away.

Except the penguin exhibit was kind of eerie. They just stood around in groups, staring at each other. (This is another picture from the HDR app.)

All in all, it’s been a great fun month!

I’ll leave you with this warning sign that appeared one day at a busy intersection in our neigborhood. Simple, but a message that motorcyclists would love more drivers to keep in mind.

Wild and Domesticated Animals

First off, the domesticated animals. Our cats.

These two are total barf machines.

They’ve always been barfers, these two. Trouble gets crazy big hairballs, while Commie is merely a food glutton. Besides which, they’re both elderly cats. And of course, all dry cat food seems to come in either brown, or orange, or a mix of brown and orange. Which is never good for apartment-dwellers, since all apartments seem to have the same standard ecru carpeting.

We’ve tried scrubbing by hand, and various spray bottles of pet-specific cleaner, but the barf stains remained. So we finally bit the bullet and got the Bissel Little Green:

A cute little squirter/scrubber/vacuum affair. We also got a jug of pet-stain-specific cleaning fluid.

(Also pictured: two of Trouble’s favorite toys. That little catnip Xmas stocking is from probably 3 years ago, but it’s still one of the first things she’ll pull out of the toy box. The brown thing is a face-down plush hedgehoggy thing.)

The setup wasn’t that tough — fill one chamber with warm water and cleaning fluid, spray and scrub and vacuum, then empty the resulting orange water afterward. As you can see here, one of the more vibrant stains isn’t completely gone, but it’s certainly much better than it was:

I don’t think any of the stains are 100% gone, but they’re all a lot better than they were. We’re not terribly concerned about our deposit here, since they didn’t change out the carpets before we moved in. They’d have to swap them out when we move out anyway. We’re just delighted that the spots don’t stand out as much.

Hopefully in the future, we can catch the barfs when they’re fresher, and those might clean up more thoroughly.

Now, on to the wild animals! We’re totally plagued by frogs lately. I posted recently about the tiny baby frogs, but some nights we also have larger models.

This guy is almost as large as my fist (although I do have smallish fists). And his coloring is so weird, it’s like I used the watercolor filter in Photoshop. But this is all him. All hail the hypnotoad!

The weirdest part about these frogs is that when I come home late at night, they’re all turned facing the wall. This guy was the one weird exception. The rest were all like something out of a froggy Blair Witch Project. Which made my walk to the apartment in the dead of night a little more eerie.

We also have ducks galore at our ponds. Here’s a whole crew, all almost as large as mom:

They don’t seem worried about the alligator warning sign. Which all of our ponds have, by the way. I’ve yet to see a gator in the apartment complex, but you never know. Here in Florida, you just have to assume that all bodies of water have reptiles in them that want to kill you.

Last but not least, there’s also insect life galore in the summer.

This is a mud dauber wasp. They look terrifying and gigantic, but apparently they’re harmless. They build these weird little pods out of mud, then lay their eggs inside. This one is kindly making its mud pods on my catnip plant growing out on the balcony. I will confess, after the mama wasp left later, I removed the pods and chucked them down toward the pond. I’ll let the alligators deal with them.

Fortnightly Update & Photodump

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted. Ack! It’s been a hustle-bustle fortnight here at the House of Meyer.

Workwise, I’ve just finished a week of training for my actual job. If you’ll recall, I’ve been doing some basic greeting and luggage-hefting until they had a classroom session available. I only had to wait a month and a half to start my actual training, which is apparently fairly fast. The five days of training consisted of one day of learning the two software programs, then four days of doing the job while under supervision. I’m sure I’ll still have lots of little questions here and there, but I have the gist down. I start doing the actual job tonight, although I don’t get to do the classroom learning until tomorrow, so I may only have half of the software I need available tonight. We’ll see. Three people do the job at the same time, so at least I’m not being thrown in all alone.

Since I have no seniority, it looks like I’ll be mostly working nights. I don’t mind it so much, except that Scott works mornings. We get to re-bid for schedules every 6 months, and I just missed the bids when I started, so hopefully in 4 months or so we’ll be able to figure out a way to see more of each other and maybe share a day off.

Medically, I’ve been down with a cough and some stuffiness. I’m also going next week to a brand-new gastroenterologist, hopefully one who actually listens to me and doesn’t treat me like an idiot. With any luck, he’ll agree to let me stop the double-dose of immunosuppresants, and go down to one for maintenance. Also with luck, he won’t make me wait two hours to be seen or make me cry or tell his staff what a pain in the ass I am when I’m standing right around the corner, like the old guy.

Scott’s getting ready for some medical whatnot of his own, although I don’t know for sure if he’s said anything to the general public yet. I’ll just say that he’s going to have a procedure done soon that I had done when I was five, and after he has it done, he’ll be able to eat all the ice cream and popsicles he wants.

Commie’s eye is doing great. A little weepy now and then, but for the most part back to normal. Here he is on top of the safety and side-effects sheet for Cimzia, one of the medications I take for Crohn’s. Mind you, it’s also printed on the back side. In fairly small type. This stuff packs some serious yuck.

In the world of little animals, we’re seeing a ton of baby frogs lately. When a friend was over visiting, she just had to pick one up. You can see how totally tiny they are.

Believe it or not, this was one of the larger tiny frogs. Later that week I saw some that were less than half this guy’s size. I’m making sure to step gently when I see them.

Here’s a question for you Oregonians and Portlanders. I saw this car in our apartment complex lot, and while I understand the two Oregon-related stickers, I don’t quite get how the “TURD” sticker fits in.

Perhaps it’s just another of this Portland-loving person’s fixations. Portland and poop, two great tastes that taste great together.

Lastly, we met up with some friends for dinner and mini-golf last week. First we went to Putting Edge, which is an indoor glow-in-the-dark place located at Festival Bay. For those of you who don’t know, Festival Bay is a relatively new-ish but spookily deserted mall. Over half of the stores are vacant, and the occupied spots are filled with weird stores like Black Market Minerals or the several memorabilia stores. When your mall’s biggest stores are Bass Pro Shop and Shepler’s Western Wear, you know you’re in trouble.

We peeked in at Putting Edge and decided that it looked cheap and cruddy, like a traveling carnival’s spooky dark ride. Everything looked like badly-painted plywood. Their price was the same as all of the other area mini-golf joints, so we just toodled over to the nearest Congo River Golf location. Same price, but far less creepy.

See? Much more civilized. The course was good, but it was mostly creative greens. I prefer a mini-golf course with stuff like windmills and buildings and other weirdness. I may be spoiled, since I grew up really close to a Putt-Putt that I loved.

It appears that Universal is building a pair of ’50s B-movie themed mini-golf courses, set to open in early 2012. Fingers crossed that they’re awesome, because the theme is right up my alley.

Midnight Cat in the Garden of Good Eatin’

Well, for the love of pete.

Commie the cat is the kind of guy who’s very into people food. He’ll get up in your face and try to sample whatever it is you’re eating, no matter what it is. He’ll even try to get close and smell your breath if you’ve been eating. Trouble, however, doesn’t care one bit about the foods we eat.

Clearly, it’s because she’s more into the plants that grow the foods we eat.

I brought home and planted some houseplants the other day. Basil, banana peppers, and strawberries. Trouble found her way onto the kitchen counter and checked them out up close.

No amount of shooing, hissing, or physically removing her from the counter helped — she’d just hop back up when she thought we weren’t looking. She also started doing most of her dirty work at night while we slept. First, she went for the banana peppers in the little container. The next day, it was the banana peppers in the larger container. She didn’t eat the leaves; she nibbled just enough to separate the leaves from the stalks, then left everything sittng there. It was a slow decapitation process.

I figured when she was done with the banana peppers, she’d leave the rest alone.

Then, the strawberry leaves started showing up separated from their stalks. Over the course of a couple of days, she stripped that plant too. Except for the one sad green strawberry that came with the plant.

At least it appears she’s not interested in the basil at all. Which is the main reason I grow houseplants, because it’s my favorite fresh herb.

I guess I’ll dig out the pepper and strawberry plants and try a couple of other herbs. The internets tell me that cats don’t like things with a citrus or mint taste (Which is perplexing, since catnip is part of the mint family, isn’t it?), so I’ll have to see what there is at the store. Maybe some lemon thyme? Cats apparently don’t like rosemary, but I really don’t like it all that much either. But maybe I’ll throw some in there to keep her away from the whole planter. Any advice, those of you with edible plants and cats?

Meanwhile, in totally unrelated news:

The Tiny Bathroom Litterbox Solution

In this new apartment, our bathroom is probably half the size of the bathroom in the old apartment. And the old apartment had this kind of nook in the corner, where I’d presume you put your chair to make it into sort of a vanity where you’d sit and do your hair and apply your makeup. But for us, it was the perfect spot to put the cats’ litterbox where it would be out of the way.

The options are made extra-few because this new bathroom has two doors: one that leads to the front hallway, and one that leads to the bedroom. So here’s our new tiny bathroom, from the hallway doorway:

Small, right? And look in the mirror! The door to the bathroom is right there.

Our first thought was to put the litterbox on the floor next to the toilet. But then you’re either dripping shower water into the litterbox while reaching for a towel, or you’re accidentally unspooling the toilet paper into the litterbox. And either way, litter gets everywhere. We tried it for a week or so, and were disappointed.

Thought number two was to close the door to the bedroom and leave it closed, and put the litterbox in that corner. But that bedroom-pointing door is very handy when you’re up for a pee in the middle of the night. Who wants to go out into the living room, around the corner past the kitchen, then around the corner again into the bathroom? You’d be wide awake at the end of that voyage!

So you may have figured out idea number three from this picture, because there’s something missing.

That’s right, the litterbox is under the sink.

We measured the space, and it’s a perfect fit for IKEA’s 20″x16″ Slugis storage box.

I lined the floor of the cabinet with cardboard, for easy cleanup later. We also tossed an old doormat in there, and put the litterbox behind the closed door so they’d always have to walk on the doormat before coming out. Another little rug at the exit picks up the bulk of tracked-out litter granules.

They actually have a ton of room in there — the pipes for the sink are pretty much in the middle of the cabinet, so once they pass those by, it’s a high-ceilinged poop palace. We used to have a litterbox with a cover on it, and it’s a WAY bigger space than that.

We also store the poop scoop inside the cabinet. Handy! The mostly-enclosed space also does a great job at keeping the dust down.

Oh, and for those who might wonder about this picture:

I got this at a thrift store, years and years ago. For something really pricey like 59¢. I don’t know who they are, or what organization or club or workplace they’re from. But this picture is always hung in our bathroom, so they can collectively watch over us.

Especially the one guy in the front row who stares directly into your soul.