Category Archives: pets

Photoblogging: Troubadour

Rich gave me a portrait lens last Christmas, so I immediately tried it out on one of my favorite subjects.

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Pattie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Last Couple of Weeks

Song Lyric of the Day:

Won’t you help me sober up / Growing up it made me numb / And I want to feel something again

AJR / “Sober Up

Life has turned into a country song of late: my hubby got sick; Sebastian got diagnosed with yet another ear infection; my 10-year-old dog, Troubadour, got diagnosed with early kidney failure; and then we were in a car accident.

We had just left Costco the next-to-last Saturday in March when we got rear-ended. We were taking Kingston Pike home as I-40 has been a parking lot of late. We’d gone several blocks when, slowing to a stop at a red light, we heard a car skidding. I looked to my left (I was driving) since for some reason I thought it was that car that was skidding. Wrong. We got hit and it took a moment to register what had happened. I think Coraline started screaming; she was asking over and over, “Were we just in an accident?!?” I think I might have started screaming in between asking if everyone was OK. Sebastian started screaming in reaction to his mom and sister freaking out. Rich was yelling for us to calm down. The man who hit us freaked out when he realized we had kids in the car; I believe he really did feel awful about it. His 1990-something Ford Bronco, a nice steel behemoth, ended up with only a loose grill. Not even a ding. My Chrysler Town and Country minivan, on the other hand …


The liftgate took the brunt of the impact. The dinosaur sticker survived.

But it could have been worse. That’s what we keep telling ourselves. Rich and I have both had some neck and back twinges since, starting right there at the accident site for me. I’m still dealing with some anxiety driving the rental van while my van is being repaired. The back roads and I have become closer than ever since they are not as heavily traveled as Kingston Pike, Middlebrook Pike, or the interstate. Fewer cars means less chance of getting hit again, right? (Fingers and toes crossed.) Being in an accident, although minor (thank God), was a literal manifestation of the only recurring nightmare I have, one that started when we were living in Chesapeake. And it was so much worse when it actually happened because both our kids were in the van. But we’re OK. We’re OK. Most importantly, my babies are OK.

The van will be fixed soon (I hope), and we are now driving a rental van that doesn’t stink – literally. The Nissan Quest we got at first had not been properly cleaned, had only half a tank of gas, and reeked of cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke covered up with cheap air freshener. It smelled like what I imagine a vehicle smells like after a cologne-saturated, chain-smoking Johnny Depp is left in a car with all the windows rolled up on a hot day. Yes, that bad. Coraline would start complaining as soon as the doors opened. Also, the Quest had a meh design. It did accelerate like a race car, though, and had XM satellite radio, but those were the only pros on the list. FYI: Don’t rent from the Hertz at Windsor Square in Knoxville; we went with Hertz as Rich has President’s Circle status. Hertz corporate WILL be getting our feedback on that particular location and the vehicle, and it will not be good. At all. Thankfully, the airport Hertz location has its act together. I am now happily driving a CLEAN, fresh-scented Kia Sedona. It doesn’t have the same race-car pickup as the Quest, but it accelerates nicely and has a design we all like much better. Overall, I think it’s a much better minivan than the Quest. It does not have XM satellite radio, but I’m surviving with CDs. First-world problems and all. The tl; dr for this whole paragraph: Hertz Windsor Square, BAD. Hertz McGhee-Tyson Airport, GOOD. Nissan Quest: MEH. Kia Sedona: GOOD.

That’s the car stuff. The sick stuff is becoming par for the course, although it’s frustrating, especially with regard to Sebastian’s umpteenth ear infection. As for Troubadour, I’m still processing that. Our vet, who we love and has taken care of many of our four-legged babies over the years, was quick to say that this doesn’t mean Troubadour won’t live for a few more years. Which I pray he does. He’s my second-oldest son, after all. We’re doing our best to keep him comfortable and ensure he’s hydrated. He’s still a heavy drinker, which is good. After five vet visits — including one to the animal ER and two days of IV treatments — in one week, he’s starting to show flashes of his normal, healthy personality again. Last night he even mugged Sebastian, stealing his cracker. I never thought I’d be happy about that, but there you have it. I firmly believe my thieving dog has a lot more living left to do.

Troubadour at the ER

With his head in Mommy’s hand at the animal ER

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Finn, the Cinco de Mayo Kitty, at 18

Song Lyric of the Day:

Well, the first time that I got it I was just ten years old / I got it from some kitty next door / An’ I went to see the doctor and he gave me the cure / I think I got it some more / They give me cat scratch fever / Cat scratch fever

Ted Nugent / “Cat Scratch Fever

When I first met my cat Finn, she mauled me and I ended up going to the hospital. Rich and I were on our first together trip, a visit to a friend’s parents’ lake house, and on our way home, Rich decided we should stop by his old apartment so we could say hi to his former roommate and check on his cat, who’d been left in the roommate’s care. Not only was the roommate not there (his new roommate let us in), but Finn was clearly pregnant (read: not taken care of that well). A cat had followed us up the stairs to the apartment door, which was ajar. Finn had her paw in the door and was growling at the other cat, so, not wanting to close the door on a pregnant cat’s paw, I reached down to gently move her so I could close the door. Next thing I know, this enraged pregnant cat is hanging from my arm by her teeth and I’m bleeding. Despite that, I was worried more about her unborn kittens than my arm. It wasn’t until she let go and Rich and I could assess the damage that we saw she’d punctured through three fingernails in addition to leaving me with lots of bite and claw marks on both hands and arms. I managed to tell Rich “I think you should take me to a hospital,” and off we went. I ended up crying in the waiting room, not only because the shock had worn off, but because Princess Diana had died the night before and the news coverage on the TVs was upsetting me further.

My hands were bathed in iodine, the doctor kept asking, “A cat did this? A house cat did this?”, and I got a couple of lousy bandages and lots of scars. In December of that year, Rich picked up Finn and her last unadopted kitten, who we named Buster, and brought them to live with me. While Buster settled right in, Finn and I had some touch-and-go moments where when I’d pet her it triggered some sort of feline PTSD, which caused her to hiss and swat at me, triggering my own feline-attack PTSD. Clearly, we got past all that.

That was 17 years ago, and today Finn is celebrating her 18th birthday, the longest I’ve ever been privileged to have a furkid. Considering that in cat years she’s the age of Methuselah, she’s in pretty good health. Her biggest issues seem to be some arthritis in her hind legs, and loss of hearing — we’re pretty sure she’s lost most if not all of her hearing. But none of that keeps her from ruling over her dogs and son with an iron paw. She may be old and tiny, but she’s still quite the mighty cat.

Finn at 18

Finn at 18

Sleepy Cat

Finn passed out on me during one of our nightly couch sessions.

PS: We’ll be treating Finn to some tuna tonight in honor of her big milestone.



Filed under personal, pets, photography

Snowpocalypse Nowish and Barfy Boots

Song Lyric of the Day:

Let the time time pass / ‘Cause we’re never getting old

Enrique Iglesias (featuring Pitbull) / “I Like It”

We here in Knoxville and the surrounding areas are waiting for this alleged big snow that’s heading our way. I say alleged because, as anyone who lives here knows, the forecast changes almost hour-to-hour when you live in the Tennessee Valley. It’s always a given that the Smokies will get snow, but for the rest of us it’s almost always a crapshoot. The forecast is calling for anywhere from 2-5″ falling here in Knoxville. I’ll believe it when I see it. And photoblog it again if I do (El Troubacabra loves playing in the snow, and I love photographing him in it.)

Of course, just to be safe, I need to throw my water-resistant boots in the wash tonight so they’ll be ready to wear; they’re these cute Ralph Lauren Polo Sport boots I bought on clearance at DSW in Virginia Beach a few years ago. You see, when I went outside the other day to take pictures of that snow, I made it maybe two feet into the backyard before stepping into dog poop. (I know, I know — my fault for not doing regular sweeps for land mines.) Anyhoo, I cleaned the affected boot as much as I could on the grass and came inside, leaving my boots on the rug in the sunroom for a bit intending to finish cleaning it up later. Fast forward to a few hours later when Caleb started to get sick in the living room. I herded him and we ran to the sunroom as fast as we could so he could get outside before he barfed. Well, we didn’t quite make it. No sooner were we in the sunroom than Caleb slipped on the wood floor, stumbled onto the rug and bleccccrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhed right on and into my boot. The boot that didn’t have poop on it. The clean boot. I’m pretty sure the expletive I yelled is still bouncing around in space, I yelled so loud. Caleb then managed to make it outside in time to barf up about a teaspoon’s worth of yak on the deck. Meanwhile, about a gallon was soaking on and in my boot. Not to mention the splashback that hit the other boot.

I won’t even get into the expletives I yelled later that night when my cat Belle managed to projectile vomit off the side of the leather sofa and still hit the leather. At least I moved her just in the nick of time when she was going to be sick again, right after she went and sat on Coraline’s gym and began to gag. Just another night at home with the Lee pets, I suppose.

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Tonight’s Post Is Brought to You by Panera

Song Lyric of the Day:

But when I’m in doubt / I open my mouth / And words come out / Words come out like / Baby there’s a shark in the water / There’s something underneath my bed / Oh, please believe, I said

VV Brown / “Shark in the Water

After a second failed attempt to get our home Internet access set up (one more strike, Comcast is out), Rich and I were driven out into the wilds of Knoxville tonight to find some free WiFi. We were also in need of some food (the kitchen is coming together but not quite usable), so here we are at Panera. (Try the Low-Fat Black Cherry Smoothie — delish!)

Speaking of our new kitchen, I made some decent progress in unpacking and organizing last night. Rich was out late since he got accepted to the mentoring program at work, and because I didn’t have Internet access (ahem) or satellite TV, I decided to do something useful instead of passing out on the couch, which is what I really wanted to do.

Being my little shadow, Troubadour took it upon himself to “help” me unpack by ripping up papers and trying to steal bubble wrap as I discarded it. Meanwhile, Happy and Caleb lounged on their harem-style bed setup in the living room; they were on the three-bed cluster where all three dogs usually nap together. There’s also a two-bed cluster at the other end of the living room where Happy and Troubadour go to enjoy alone time. It’s where Happy relaxes and Troubadour plans his next evil scheme.

The cats are adjusting as expected. Finn, my oldest cat, has pretty much claimed the house as her new domain, while her son, Buster, is in his usual la-la land, albeit in a new location. Belle, our resident Houdini cat, disappeared into the house sometime Sunday night and didn’t reappear until yesterday when I went home for lunch. She’s got mad skills that way.

And now I need to wrap up this rambling, aimless post and head back home. Only tonight I’m going to take a break from unpacking and organizing and watch my Netflix movie. Provided I can find it, that is.

I also need to take it easy since I noticed a couple of days ago that my feet had swollen some from all the activity surrounding the move. Nothing like looking like a Puerto Rican hobbit to make you want to put your feet up and relax.

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Tuesday 10: The Good & Bad of Adopting a New Dog

The Good:

  1. Three dog night*
  2. Improved exercise program for the cats (fleeing-intensive)
  3. Female influence = Slightly restored civility of the barbarian boy dogs
  4. Enjoying seeing her reaction to new experiences and people
  5. More unconditional love to go around

The Bad:

  1. Nonstop water drinking and subsequent dripping
  2. A barking soulmate for the already-too-barky puppy
  3. Too-barky puppy is jealous
  4. Sleeping in the guest room until she gets used to our bedtime routine
  5. Two words: Poo explosion

*Rich made me promise to use that.

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An Audition, Appliances, Santa, & Christmas Prep

Song Lyric of the Day:

I’ll be your answer, I’ll be your wish / I’ll be your fantasy, your favorite dish / From the back to the middle and around again / I’m gonna be there til the end / 100% pure love

Crystal Waters / “100% Pure Love

Pattie On the Spot
My audition Thursday evening went well. We’ll see how well if I get the part or not. But at least I had fun; this was definitely the most creative I’ve had to be at an audition so far. In addition to the usual stating your name, stats, etc. for the camera, I had to take part in an “emotional symphony,” wherein the casting director was the conductor. Each time he pointed at those of us in the lineup (mine was with two other women), we had to make a face conveying an emotion. You had to convey a different emotion each time, and the “conducting” got faster as we went along. The really creative part was after that, when we did the “Praise Desk” scenario. The opposite of a complaint desk, I had to rave about a real or imagined product to “sell” the casting director on it. Me being me, I remembered the Meowlingual and came up with the Cat Chat Meow Translator for Women©. I went on and on about how it revolutionized my life and completely transformed my relationships with my cats, taking our understanding to a deeper level. I detailed what each of my cats said, and ended by saying how I looked forward to buying my husband the Bark Blaster for Men©. Lucky me that I can pull stuff like that out of my ass in less than five minutes, eh?

The Good, the Bad, the Dishwasher
Our new dishwasher was installed on Friday afternoon, during my glorious PTO time off work. My joy at my fancy new appliance was short-lived, however, when the installation technician tested it (as he was supposed to) and discovered a pin-size hole in the drain hose that leaked water everywhere. Turned out his earlier observation that the hose seemed to have been packed in an unusual manner was right. So we now have a shiny new dishwasher that we can’t use until the new drain hose arrives and is installed. Our new fridge was delivered late Saturday afternoon. That appliance fared much better in that it’s usable. Well, most of it, anyway. We just need the water connection fixed and hooked up so we can use the in-door water and ice functions. But we have a fridge inside the house again, so that’s something.

The Accidental Parade
Over the years, Rich and I have discovered our uncanny talent for wandering into parades. We’ll just be plugging along with whatever plans we had in place, and — BAM! — there’s a parade going on in the same place we end up. Such was the case Friday night when we headed downtown, as planned, to take enjoy First Friday. Not only did we enjoy hopping from art gallery to art gallery, we also ended up watching the Christmas parade proceed down Gay Street. It just about killed me that I didn’t have my camera with me, particularly when people dressed as presents (people! dressed as PRESENTS!!!) walked right in front of me. Another highlight was the Young-Williams Animal Shelter’s Spay Shuttle (did I mention I did not have my camera?). Que sera, sera, though. We ended our date night with a nice meal at Mirage, the Moroccan restaurant on Gay Street which is the place to go in Knoxville to enjoy belly dancers and hookah. Probably the only one, come to think of it.

It’s Finally Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
After locating our AWOL Christmas lights in the garage, Rich and I were finally able to finish decorating the tree and the house for the holidays. This meant the usual disinterest on Snoops’ part, curiosity on all of the cats’ parts, and sheer excitement on Caleb’s part. As those of you who know Caleb are aware, Little Man is quite fond of the holidays because Christmas means presents. Specifically, Christmas means presents for him. Presents he gets to open himself. Which is why now I’ve got a 65-pound dog who jumps excitedly when he sees me holding a roll of wrapping paper, tissue paper, or gift bags (he’s figured it all out). He’s also doing his best to sneak into the guest room whenever he can. Why? Because that’s where Mommy hides the presents, of course.

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Filed under acting, Christmas, home, pets