Beauty Is Among Us… But It’s Cranky

Maybe she’s born with it… maybe it’s meowbelline. She’s definitely out of patience.

a photo shoot? no-one told ME about any photo shoot. are you sure you cleared this with my agent?

no, no, leave me… I want to be alone!

she’s still here. ugh. will this peasant EVER go back to work!? i’ll just ignore her… maybe she’ll go away.

 

 

Old Dogs, New Tricks

Animal shelters far and wide have been emptied as people rush to foster pets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dogs old and young have found, at worst, a temporary – and presumably, loving sanctuary… and at best, a foster-fail situation (that’s when the foster family adopts the animal themselves because they loved it so much they didn’t want to see it go).  Although most of the stories I’ve seen have been centered around dogs, one can only hope that cats are feeling the same outpouring of compassion. This got me thinking about pet adoption in general. Although, to be fair, it doesn’t take much to get me thinking about pet adoption (which is why I’ve always had so many animals!).

­Not everyone of course, but in general, when people are looking to adopt, they always seem to go for the animals that are the cutest, and the youngest. The little doe-eyed beagle tripping over his ears while running after his sibling. Or that rambunctious little long-haired kitten batting whimsically at that larger-than-it-is ball of yarn while two other little cuties follow it back and forth in their cage.

But what about the older or the not so cute dogs or cats? Maybe a one-eyed pug, or a cat with half a tail. Sure, they might need a little extra care, but what else were you going to do with your life? Something boring, I’m sure, and nothing as emotionally satisfying as saving your new best friend.

People tend to think that older animals come with “baggage,” but seriously, who doesn’t? Not to mention, have these folks ever even tried to housetrain a puppy? Or get thru puppyhood with all their shoes and other household items intact? I know I’ve lost a pillow set or two, and one time, even a chair, in my years of raising fur babies.

Don’t even get me started about kittens that tear up the curtains learning to climb. Or finding all the aglets on my shoes nibbled on. (Fun fact: it wasn’t too long ago that I learned an aglet is the little plastic piece on the end of your shoelace. Knowledge is power, stay thirsty my friends.) Or searching for that lost kitten who found its way behind the cabinets or into the ceiling (true story).

My daughter found a kitten in the stairwell of our condo building a few months ago. Of course, being her mother’s daughter, she brought it into our home. We took the wayward waif (a girl, by the way) to the vet, had her checked for a microchip (nope), and then started canvassing our building and the surrounding buildings looking for an owner. I may have said this before, but I need another pet like I need a hole in my head, no matter how cute they may be, so trust me when I say, our search was thorough. The owner was duly found the next day – they were ecstatic to have her back in the fold (not so ecstatic about my microchip lecture, I’m sure), and all was right with the world once more. However, this foray into unexpected kitten-sitting reminded me that babies are hard. They’re nerve-wracking and exhausting and you worry about what they’re getting into. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a kitten in the house, and I had forgotten just how much trouble they get into. They’re either on or they’re off, there’s no in-between. And when they’re on, you have to be on your toes. All. The. Time.

Sometimes there are good reasons to go for a younger animal and I’m not judging anyone who prefers to start from scratch when adding a new member to their family.  I’m just saying, consider your other choices.  Sure, older animals might come with some emotional baggage, as I said, but let’s face it, so do we. The truth is, they just want love and security and a place to call their forever home, but then again, so do we.

Bonus: in many cases, the older generation already knows how to play fetch or has their running game on point for that morning jog you like to take, or they’re already the perfect couch potato for that Netflix lifestyle you’ve got going on.

Not to mention, you’ll be counteracting what their previous owners did by dumping them, so there’s a bit of karmic brownie points there to be had. And who doesn’t need extra brownie points in life? Plus, older animals, like older people, still have a lot of life in them, so don’t overlook them … you might be missing out on the friendship of a lifetime.

The Problem with Convenience

When did you first notice that you might be getting, well, a bit lazy? Was it when you sat in your home full of voice-activated robots electronics and asked them to play your music for you? Perhaps it was when you started sending all your messages via voice notes instead of typing them out. Maybe it was during your fifth online shop of the week when you realized you used to go outside your house to get your food and sundries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about convenience. As someone who hates people and the outside world, I welcome all of the latest improvements that allow me to stay at home more than ever before.

It’s a strange world though, isn’t it? It’s like one half of us have become health obsessed freaks, slimming and gymming and sharing pictures of their abs on Instagram, while the other half are reveling in the technological advances that let them get away with doing the bare minimum.

Since the days of the clapper, we’ve fallen further and further down the rabbit hole of modern conveniences, and I can’t help but think of the film Wall-E which, spoiler alert, prophesied a future where human beings have become so goddamn lazy that they can’t even be bothered to walk around anymore. Robots and voice activated apps take care of the humans’ every need. That movie came out in 2008. The scenario doesn’t really seem that farfetched now, does it?

The crazy thing is, taking the lazy way out of things doesn’t always make life any easier for us.

For those of us who have the lights that turn on when you clap; how long did that honeymoon period last? Oh, it’s fun to show your friends this clever new way to light up your home, but how is that any easier than just flicking a switch? How about Alexa? She does lights, music, security, Amazon ordering, phone calls, the whole nine yards. But is Alexa really your friend? Okay, yeah, if you’re on the couch or in the bed and you don’t want to go clear across the room to turn off the lights, the clapper or your brand-spanking new Alexa might come in handy… until you’re applauding so hard your hands ache or you find yourself yelling until the neighbor calls the cops again (911? That crazy lady next door is at it again. Yeah, the lights.), or you spend your rent money on Amazon ordering who knows what, all because the system just isn’t working the way it should.

I mean, you could’ve walked the 6 feet to the light switch (and not accidentally called everyone in your contacts list) in the time it takes to get Alexa to understand a simple request.

Yes, mom, I know it’s 3 am.  No, I swear, nothing is wrong.  I didn’t mean to call you, or Uncle Elmer, or your next door neighbor whose number I have just for emergencies. Yes, mom, I know. You’re right, it is an ungodly hour. I just wanted to dim the lights.

Bird Brain

As I was listening to my upstairs neighbor vacuum at midnight last night… as they are wont to do, with a random chorus or two of what I hope was the husband yelling at a video game, and not his kid or dog, I got to thinking of other, similarly considerate neighbors.

In my old condo, I had a neighbor on the lower level, let’s call her Barbara.  Barbara enjoys Frasier, The Nanny, and Fox News. I know this because she kept her television volume high enough that I could easily follow along with the episodes (I, too, am a fan of Frasier and The Nanny, though Fox News not so much).

Besides listening to her t.v. at decibels worthy of a Motörhead concert, Barbara liked to putter around the common area outside her sliding glass door, making it her own. She planted flowers and watered the trees and bushes and put out bird feeders. She was also known to feed the squirrels, and would walk around, tossing bread and bird seed on the ground. It was quite reminiscent of my grandmother feeding chickens. I want this image to be clear in your head, folks… an elderly woman delighting in her flowery surroundings, creating an oasis of sorts for birds and squirrels and wildlife in our humble cul-de-sac. It was an admirable pursuit, I will say.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but a few birds decided to call our little apartment complex home. No doubt feeling welcomed by the aforementioned oasis. In fact, two opted to build a nest on my balcony.  I didn’t mind. I like birds.

Barbara, to put it mildly, lost her shit. She accosted me one afternoon as I came home late from work to order the removal of said nest. She claimed they were making a mess on her patio. She. Wanted. Them. Gone. She has eczema, I’ll have you know – and whether she actually does or not, I don’t know, but I do know that she was verrry vocal about it, shouting her diagnosis at me at least four times.

I calmly (I know, right!? Me!) explained that I would check it out and if there were no occupants of the egg or newly hatched variety, I’d be happy to remove it from her life immediately. But if there were eggs or chicks, then I would wait until the chicks had flown the coop, as it were.  And while I hadn’t observed the mess she claimed existed, I assured her that I would keep the area clean of any debris.

This wasn’t good enough and I was advised, once again, and quite vehemently, that she has eczema and a few twigs had fallen onto her patio and she was going to call the health department on me because two wild birds hadn’t stayed in the trees where they damn well belonged.

She kept me standing there for over a half hour, ranting about this nest and the imminent summoning of the health department brigade.

Once I climbed up into the rafters of the balcony to take a peek, I realized that the birds had already abandoned it for better, and likely more solitary, living elsewhere, making Barbara’s hearty warnings against my hearth and home a hollow threat.

But say they had set up shop… would my concern for these birds be misplaced?  Would my refusal to murder this house wren family make me the bad neighbor?

I’ll admit, being jumped as soon as I exited my car after a long day didn’t exactly elicit any sympathy for Barbara’s plight. Another, less autocratic, tactic on her part may have garnered more of the response she was seeking. Though really, if I’m being honest, I doubt it. I still wouldn’t have removed the nest until I was sure that there were no chicks in it, no matter who asked. The fact that she wasn’t asking, but ordering, is a moot point.

To this day, I don’t understand her mindset though… why work so hard every day to bring the birds down with food, water, and pleasantries, and then be shocked when they want to make a home?