12-11-17 Monday

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Our sweet Belle, mama to the Beasts, went home on Saturday! She joins her new sister Sasha, who was our Swimbug foster Torres back in 2015. Yay!!!


How do you keep your cats so calm during this stressful time? Or in general? We recently got a new cat (in July) and he’s stupid and obstinate and likes to chase the other cats, which they take great offense to. Some one has been peeing where they’re not supposed to, like our bed! We bought some of those pheromone collars, and they worked at first, but even when I put a new one on him, he still went after the others. He’s not being mean, they don’t like him and run away, which sets off his chase instinct, I guess. I think he only wants to play. I’m thinking of getting feliway, but does that have a noticeable smell? My hubs is sensitive to smells. Or are there drops we can put in the water?

To me, the Feliway does have a noticeable smell, but Fred swears he can’t smell anything. We have several Feliway plug-ins in the house at the moment (plugging them in was the very first thing I did the day we moved in), and I have been adding drops of Rescue Remedy (Amazon link for reference) to their water. It may have been what helped keep them calm, but I can’t swear to it. You may want to check out Jackson Galaxy’s products and give one of them a try.

(If anyone has other suggestions, please feel free to share!)


HOW DID YOU CATCH ALL 11 CATS AT ONCE?!?! Seriously, how on earth? I can imagine the first couple might be easy enough, but as soon as the others figure out what’s going on, wouldn’t they skedaddle? I’m lucky to be able to crate 2 of my 3 cats at the same time (which terrifies me if there’s an emergency and I have to get them all at once). SHARE YOUR SECRETS!

Okay, I wish I had a more exciting on how we did this, but all I did was put all 11 carriers out and scattered them throughout the house. I set them out 10 days ahead of time, and when move-out day rolled around, some of the cats (Dewey, Frankie, Newt & Joe Bob) had started spending time in them, just hanging out. When the time came to actually box the cats up, Newt was snoozing in one carrier, and all Fred did was close the top.

We knew that Jake, Alice and Khal would be the hardest to deal with, so once the top to Newt’s carrier was closed, Fred grabbed Jake (who hadn’t had time to realize something was going on) and put him into a carrier. Then we had to chase Alice down (she ran and hide under one of the recliners) – she is actually pretty wily when it comes to hiding and really good at slipping through our fingers. When Fred lifted up the chair, she shot out and ran across the room. We finally caught her when she attempted to go back under the recliner, and got her into the carrier.

Everyone else was pretty easy to catch and put in the carriers. They were mostly milling around (because Fred had shaken the container of treats) and we grabbed them and put them in carriers, calling out the name of each cat to each other so we could keep track of who’d been caught. Then it was time to hunt down Khal (who was already on high alert from the routine change-up, since he was used to going outside first thing in the morning, and Fred hadn’t let him out). He ran upstairs, into Fred’s room and then into the bathroom with Fred in pursuit. My job was to guard the bottom of the stairs and not let him by, but he never came down the stairs until Fred carried him down. Once everyone was in carriers, I put a piece of masking tape on each carrier with the name of the cat inside, and we loaded them into the car along with their food and Frankie’s medication. I was able to get all 11 carriers in the back of the car by stacking them, and I sat in the passenger’s seat with the container of food on my lap while Fred drove. So that’s one Kia Soul, 11 cats, two humans, and a big container of cat food. The Kia Soul looks small, but you can fit a LOT of stuff in there!

The cats were split into three sets for their stay at the vet – Jake, Alice, Kara and Joe Bob together; Stefan, Dewey, Khal and Frankie together; Newt, Maxi and Archie together.


As for the going outside bit, once a cat has gotten used to going outside, it is kinda hard to limit the territory they have. If they are used to being inside, they make due when there are more cats – basically because they don’t know any different – but it would be a bit like telling a human they could never go to the movies or to the beach ever again.. it’s hard.. and harsh.

This is so true – I had kind of hoped that we might transition them to indoor-only cats, but after a honeymoon period of about 5 days, Khal is driving me absolutely insane. Saturday night he woke me up about every hour with his incessant howling. Did he want a snuggle? Did he want a pet? Did he want to be left alone? Did he want to sleep on Fred’s bed? Did he want a treat? None of those. All he wants is to go outside, and he doesn’t want to go into the garage, he doesn’t want to sit quietly and stare through the windows. HE. WANTS. OUT. And for the sake of my sanity (I really like my sleep, thank you very much), we are going to get that cat fence up as soon as possible. Archie is also getting quite stir-crazy, and so is Kara.

In the meantime, I have a white noise machine on the way which I’ll put right next to my bed, and if I have to, I’ll kick everyone out of my room at bedtime and shut the door. I mean, it doesn’t seem quite fair to do that – why should Frankie be punished because Khal is driving me crazy? – but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.


sorry but I am a little confused. Is Chapman Mountain and Huntsville house one and the same? Is the Cove house you passed up closer to town and stores than where you ultimately ended up buying?

No, Chapman Mountain is in Northeast Huntsville, and the house we’re in now is in Southeast Huntsville. Deep Cove (the one with the terrible kitchen that we ultimately passed on) was very close to the stores I usually shopped at when we lived in Crooked Acres, but Shady Cove (where we are now) is very close to different locations of the same stores. (In other words, both houses are very close to Target, just different Targets). Did that clear it up, or did I just make it more confusing?


Are there still separate bedrooms for you and Fred?

Yes – Fred and I haven’t ever slept in the same room except for vacations and for about three months in our first house, wherein we discovered that my tossing and turning annoyed him and disrupted his sleep, and his snoring annoyed me and disrupted my sleep, and we decided we’d be better off sleeping separately.

Why didn’t the people who BOUGHT crooked acres keep the ducks and the chickens? I mean – I’m just assuming that people who buy a property like that WANT things like ducks and chickens around.

We thought that was unusual too – but then found out that they aren’t moving into Crooked Acres right away. They’re in a hotel at the moment and planning to do some projects around the house (painting and enclosing the washer and dryer), will be going to visit with family for Christmas, and thinking they’ll actually move in after the first of the year. So it didn’t make sense for us to leave the chickens for them, since they won’t be around to make sure they’re locked up at night and set loose in the morning. They do intend to get chickens at some point, but not right away.

Do people really just dump cats at Crooked Acres and are the buyers aware that might happen to them?

There’s a big, empty field across the street from Crooked Acres, and I think people occasionally dump cats (and possibly dogs as well, though we saw very few stray dogs while we were there) in the field across the street thinking that the cats will fend for themselves. Fred did mention the stray cat issue to the new buyers – but I also think that since they won’t have a feeding station out with food available 24/7 to any passing animal, they will likely not have the issue that we did. I could be wrong, but I bet I’m not.

Does Fred have a day job or is his job his writing?

Unfortunately, Fred doesn’t make much from writing (even many best-selling authors have to have day jobs!), and in fact hasn’t done much writing these past couple of years. His day job is as a software architect for a company based out of Maryland doing top-secret things that I could tell you about, but then I’d have to kill you.

(On a side note, Fred’s grandmother, who passed away over a decade ago, would ask him “Do you still have that job typing on the computer?” every time she saw him. I still find this unbearably adorable, and when someone has a computer-based job that I have no hope of understanding, I just tell myself that their job is typing on the computer.)


I am dying to know how the car ride went with all the kitties at once! I saw the pictures, but that can’t possibly convey the actual ride. As in how long and how loud and who flipped their shit and who, if any, lost their shit and made the ride odorific as well? I’ve had a few cats in a car at once, I cannot imagine a car full of them! From the way it was packed, I’m assuming only one of you could go with them? Who was that lucky person?

We actually both went together both to drop them off and pick them up. The drive from Crooked Acres to the vet’s office took about 15 minutes and wasn’t too bad. There was a little howling, but wasn’t constant.

The drive from the vet’s office took close to an hour, and it was a NIGHTMARE. The vet techs were having a hard time catching a couple of the cats when we showed up to get them, so Fred went back to help out while I loaded carriers in the car. Stefan and Dewey were hard to catch, and Fred actually caught Khal in mid-air. We weren’t on the road five minutes when Dewey pooped in his carrier. IMAGINE HOW WONDERFUL THAT WAS IN A CAR WITH CLOSED WINDOWS. 10 minutes went by, the smell intensified by one million percent, and we determined that Kara had pooped in her carrier. By the time we got home and got the cats unloaded, FOUR of the 11 carriers had been pooped in, and one had been peed in. We closed off the rooms that the cats weren’t going to have access to, and then took the carriers one by one, checked to see if the carriers had been soiled, and wiped down each cat if they needed it.


I do have a question about radon, though. Is it really as big of deal as they try to make it out to be (safe levels vs those a bit above)? It seemed to me that it isn’t. I mean, you all are still alive, right? Will it always kill a sale or will the buyers always force a fix? I know someone who bought a home that did not force a fix and lives there. Please educate me!!

I think it’s up to the buyers – I don’t think they always force a fix, but if the radon level at Shady Cove had been elevated, we likely would have wanted it to be mitigated. Fred said that at the level the initial test showed at Crooked Acres, the lung damage was similar to that of smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day. The EPA thinks that at that level, 3 out of 10,000 people would develop lung cancer. So basically, it’s up to the buyer.


My only question/comment is, I hope your mailing address to the P.O. box in Athens is still viable because a Christmas card is on the way. Your card has been received here in Ohio … and thank you!

That mailing address is still viable, and I’m planning to drive out there and check it once a week! Eventually I’ll get a box at the post office much closer to home, but I didn’t want to close the box before we moved just in case something happened, and now I don’t want to close that box and force all those poor overworked postal workers to deal with forwarding my mail during the holiday season.


OK, so how can I ask this… what about the uh, remains, buried at Crooked Acres? Did you take any of the grave markers with you (like the stones for George and Gracie)? I know, weird question.

We brought all the stones with us (one each for George and Gracie, and one for each of the cats we’ve said goodbye to; I still need to order one for Dennis). Those suckers are HEAVY, and I’m not sure I’d choose to get such heavy stones if we were going to do it over again, but who knew we’d ever end up deciding to move? (If I had known we were going to move, I would have had the cats cremated rather than burying them.)

Yes, the buyers know about the cats who’ve been buried there (George and Gracie were not buried at Crooked Acres; they were cremated locally and scattered in a field) and while I’m not crazy about leaving all those cats we’ve loved and lost behind, it seems fitting that they’re buried on the property where they were so happy. (Any cats we lose in the future will be cremated; that’s my plan, anyway – I’m not giving Fred a vote.)


What is a cat fence?

Kay answered this: It’s a fence built specifically to keep cats in a yard. The versions I’ve seen have angled guards at the top, making it impossible for cats to climb/leap over. They look like a nicer version of prison yard fences (sans barbed wire) and keep kitties within safe boundaries.

And Rosie added: We have cat fence in installed on top of our privacy fence and on top of the chain link we also have. It works great, I have seen pictures where people have even installed it around the trunk of trees to keep their cats from climbing up. At first I thought it would look like a prison fence, being tilted inward, but the mesh is so fine, it is hardly visible. One thing, unless you install it on both sides of your fence, it will not keep stay cats from climbing in. And no matter what, it does not keep raccoons out. Those pesky little buggers are just too clever.


Are you finished with the big gardening, pigs and chickens now?

Yep. We’re going from 4 1/2 acres to 1/3 acre. We might have room for a raised bed or two for gardening, but we’re not planning on it. We could probably have a hen or two, but we’re not planning on that, either.


Can the seller refuse a given realtor?

I don’t see why not. If we’d ended up waiting until spring and put it back on the market then, we were 100% planning on telling our realtors that there’s no way Pat the awful, unprofessional realtor was allowed to set foot on our property.


How far is Shady Cove from Crooked Acres?

About 40 miles.


No pics of the black pawprints all over??

No, I was too busy cleaning them up to take pictures of them!

Speaking of the fireplace: we got a screen to go across the fireplace, so Khal can’t get in there anymore. It’s a vented gas log fireplace, and we’re intending – at some point in the future – to replace it with a ventless gas log fireplace so we’ll actually get some heat from it. (It’s not and never will be our main source of heat, not least because it’s in an area of the house where we don’t spend that much time.)


Did you take the screen door at the bottom of the stairs with you to the new house?

No – there’s no way to effectively use them at the top OR bottom of the stairs to keep kittens from getting to the downstairs. I don’t know how we’re going to give kittens more room to roam, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out eventually.


Which side of the garage has Maxi claimed?

Maxi has done surprisingly well at being inside 24/7, so we haven’t had to resort to giving her time in the garage. I’d like to avoid having her out there, if at all possible, since we’d like to use the garage as a garage rather than a home for a spoiled rotten cat.


Did you lose 2 ducks? I remember you saying that one was killed. Did the other fly away?

We lost one of the males and one female around the same time. First, the female disappeared with no trace, and then the male disappeared leaving nothing but a pile of feathers behind. I suspect, since we lost them both after George passed away, that they were grabbed by predators.


How old is your lemon tree? It seems really small for that many lemons, so what, exactly, do you do to make it so productive?

I think it’s 6 or 7 years old. And we don’t do a single solitary thing to make it so productive – just water it when we think of it and say “Should we fertilize the lemon tree?” to each other once a year or so (still haven’t fertilized it even once). Someone told me recently lemon trees love to be abused, and since we transported it to Shady Cove on the back of Fred’s truck going 60 down the interstate, we should have a bumper crop of lemons next year!


House pictures! I took these during the final walk through the day before closing, so there’s no furniture present. Once we’re settled in, I’ll take more pictures to post.

Actually, this picture is from the garage at Crooked Acres. Everything that could be packed into a box was packed and put in the garage before moving day, to make the move easier on the movers. It doesn’t look like much, does it?

The view from Shady Cove.

The front of the house.

At the front door, looking in. If you go straight down the hall, you end up in the back living room, near the back door.

Go in the front door and take a left, and there’s the dining room. Well, it was meant to be the dining room, but it’s the computer room now.

Computer room, shot from the other side. That light is already gone; it was hanging way too low and we both kept walking into it, so we replaced it.

The kitchen, as shot from the back living room. That doorway to the left leads to the computer room. Straight ahead is the back staircase, which leads to Fred’s office.

The dining nook, looking outside. (That’s the realtor out there, talking on the phone.)

The back living room, as shot from the kitchen.

The front living room, as shot from the back living room. The front living room is where the TV and couch/recliner are located now.

The top of the stairway from the kitchen to Fred’s office.

Fred’s office, one side.

Fred’s office, the other side. When we decided to make the offer on this house, I immediately claimed this room for the kittens, but due to the built-ins and the location, we ultimately decided that it would be better as his office. Wouldn’t it be terrible if his company opened an office in Huntsville and he had to go to the office every day instead of working from home, and I could claim this as the foster room? That would be terrible. I sure would hate it if that happened.

Down the hall from Fred’s office. To the left is Fred’s room, to the right is the kitten room. Further down the hall is a bathroom, and beyond that the guest bedroom, and at the very end of the hall is the master bedroom.

Fred’s room. (It’s bigger than it looks.)

The kitten room.

The kitten room closet. This carpet is going to have to go before kittens can be fostered in this room. I’m not sure why the people who renovated this house in the past opted to leave the carpet in the closets, but every single closet is carpeted. Ugh.

The guest bedroom. Right now it holds a bed frame, a dresser, and two litter boxes.

From the guest bedroom doorway, looking toward the kitten room, the top of the front staircase, and that door is a closet.

The hall bathroom.

The master bedroom.

Another shot of the master bedroom.

The master bathroom.

Closeup of the wallpaper.

It might have been the kitchen that really sold me on this house, but this bathroom didn’t hurt at all. The tub is something special, but that shower was a surprise. Neither of us thought much of it until actually using it. When you turn all the shower heads on, it’s like taking a bath standing up. It is AWESOME.

From the top of the front staircase, looking down.

That’s it for the house pictures; tomorrow (assuming I get around to taking the pictures today), I’ll share pictures of the back yard.


Nap time with Newt.

Serious Jake is serious.


2016: Nothing personal, Archie, but you could use some work on your nap time companion skills. Step one: more snuggling, less personal space.
2015: But Alice is like “::FUME:: Look at her standing there in the middle of the room LIKE SHE OWNS THE PLACE.”
2014: The ear of (slight) annoyance.
2013: More attitude from the Carm.
2012: They sniffed around wildly for a while, and then decided it was okay, this strange room where (they seemed to think) they’d never been before.
2011: Gracie is a good watchdog.
2010: No entry.
2009: Look at him, looking so innocent when he was JUST biting that tail right in front of him and making his sister cry!
2008: No entry.
2007: “How ’bout you rub the belly instead?”
2006: Noelle with troll hair.
2005: No entry.



12-11-17 Monday — 37 Comments

  1. Other than the poop, it sounds like the transition went smoothly. You have lots of built-ins. I hate to say, Fred’s office makes sense (forgive me). However, the kitten room looks like it has nice storage for litter, clean beds and linens/blankets/pads. Nice to see that you got the master bedroom…good girl! 🙂 I like the decking off the back, also. The new house it pretty! I did a planter garden (bought at a store). It is perfect for two people and about zero work. 🙂

    When I put down my wood floors (and tile in some areas), all the closets and such were converted also. I, too, will NEVER understand why people leave that silly little patch of carpet. Do they think they are saving money? It doesn’t. Do they think it looks better? It doesn’t. It just makes it look chopped up, mixed flooring and it loses the flow. Rule that all people should live by: Carpeted room = carpeted closet, tiled room = tiled closet, wood room = wood closet! NO EXCEPTIONS!

    Thank you for answering my radon question. 🙂

    • Preach. And I was further blessed with a closet with, not ONLY wallpaper to match the bedroom, but the coordinating border as well. In a CLOSET. And the walls in all of the other closets (and basement stairwell) had “popcorn” on them. I just swear under my breath when I think about it.

  2. love the house.
    the cubbies and shelving alone sold me on it. then I saw the kitchen.
    I could do some serious cooking in your kitchen!
    my plan this week is to make traditonal family recipe Tourtierre just like my Mom made. it’s a 2 day process. sigh

  3. The Oscillot system also works for cat containment – esp if they have to climb to get over the fence.
    I reckon any cat I owned would find the weakness or gap in the system


    • I think our fence is too low for that (Fred thinks Archie could just leap over the top of our fence like a deer), but if the fence we have along with the cat fencing doesn’t work, we’ll do a privacy fence and give the Oscillot system a try! I’ve seen that in other forms as well.

  4. What an amazing place; I’m so happy you two found it, closet carpeting and all! Thanks for sharing all the photos, and I’m glad that MOST of the kitties are adjusting well, Mr. Call of the Wild aside.

  5. The house is just lovely. And I hear you about the pooping cats in the car. I have one who has done it more than once on the way to or from the vet (30 minute drive) and in addition to that, he can out-drool a St. Bernard when he gets in the car. I swear it’s like there is a faucet running in his mouth so not only is he covered in poop, he’s also wet from drool.

  6. Thanks for sharing your new home. It looks lovely and I am sure you will be very happy. Your colors are exactly the colors we have in our place but our woodwork is oak and stained brown. I love moving into a new place and finding homes for all the stuff. It will be fun to see which room becomes the kitty favorite. I don’t have any other suggestions for fighting kitties. We used Feliway when we moved and combined 1 anti-social Daddy’s cat and my two goobers with no problems using the Feliway. I don’t smell anything with it. I too wondered about the kitties that have passed. Thanks for addressing it. I was feeling very sad for you to have to leave them behind but they are in your hearts and that is where they will always be.

  7. Hope you didn’t run into traffic on your way to the new house with 4 cats pooping their carriers…

    Beautiful house! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Ya! Ma Belle.

    Looks like the end of that cul-de-sac is the perfect place to dump kitties. Better get that feeding station on your front porch ASAP!

    Seriously, it looks like the move is going smoothly, despite the poopsters. The pic of the stairs leading to Fred’s office looked a bit odd, until I realized the office is over the garage, and you have two sets of stairs. I don’t understand why folks cheap out on a few square feet of hardwood flooring in the closets.

  9. Love the new house, esp the kitchen and OH that room that Fred has claimed for his office. If he needs company or someone to watch it if he has to go to a real office or if you move again or just want a friend to visit or….Sorry-I think I NEED that office!
    I will miss the Crooked Acres pictures but I’m sure you will find new Shady Cove things for us to adore. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Laughed so hard about the poor abused lemon tree in the back of Fred’s truck on the way to your new absolutely amazing abode! Here’s hoping for a bumper crop of lemons for you folks next year.

    How about a pooping cat, peeing, vomiting, temporary foster, diabetic cat on his way to the airport to fly to his new furrever home. I knew enough by that point to bring plenty of clean up supplies, garbage bags, puppy pee pads etc. and a second clean carrier for his flight. Only problem was, as I was transfering him in the car to the second clean carrier, he escaped from my car and was wandering around OUTSIDE the building. Luckily, he loved people and I was able to coax him back into my arms and popped him into the carrier. Rest of the cleanup happened inside the building, in their public bathroom at the suggestion of the cargo agent.

    Did i mention this temporary foster was totally flea ridden and it took me months to rid my 3 cats and house of fleas and flea eggs, which we had not had for over 5 years. Sadly, I haven’t fostered since that.

  11. Cats pooping in the car is just about the worst smell you can imagine. That is one of the reasons my Vet is only a 5 minute drive away. Thank you for the Xmas Card it is lovely. And again, I love the house – build-in heaven. I want Fred’s office as my yarn room.

  12. Regarding stressed-out cats, I’ve had some good luck using essential oils made by a veterinarian. One blend called “Transition” has been great for diffusing when there is a new addition to the household or when something stressful is going on. Here’s the website: http://www.animaleo.info/

  13. I love your new house! We just moved into a brand new house and I am still jealous, but happy for you both. Love all the built in shelves. wood floors, colors, curb appeal. You found a real gem.
    BTW…does Nance still have a blog/page? I used to read her all the time but somehow lost her

  14. Huh. When we’ve had to bring our cat on long road trips (two different trips over 12 hours), we were prepared with litterbox, clean-up supplies, spare bedding for the carrier, etc, but both times, she just refused to poop or pee until we had arrived at our destination and she’d made herself at home. I was grateful, but also kinda concerned that she was holding it for so long! But every time we’d stop and give her an opportunity to use the litterbox, she’d look at us like we’d lost our minds if we thought she was going to the bathroom under such undignified circumstances.

    • I think maybe the cats were holding back on using the litter boxes at the vet, and once they were in a “safe” (familiar-smelling) place, they couldn’t hold it any more. I wish they’d waited another hour, I think my nose still hasn’t recovered!

  15. I love Fred’s grandmother’s interpretation of his job. I always have a hard time describing to people what I do for work, so I think I’m just going to start saying I type on the computer and leave it at that.

    • Ha! I have the same problem, although usually “I play with the computers that run the Internet” suffices. (I’m a service provider network engineer.)

  16. What a gorgeous home. Not sure what I drool over the most- the shelves, cupboards, fireplace, shutters (no washing curtains twice a year!), shower, kitchen or backyard. Although I admit, every time I see the house in the shade (plus the shade over the cul-de-sac) I have to immediately remind myself – they live in Alabama – shade is GOOD!
    You mentioned you love all the paint colors – does that include the blue in the closet? Not that it’s bad – it just seems like it was selected by a different person 🙂

    • Oh lord, no – I do not care for that paint in the closet. When we hardwood the closet floor, we’ll (well, *I*) will repaint the walls, too. Also, it’s got a popcorn ceiling that needs to be de-popcorned.

  17. Thank you for the pictures. Loved seeing everything. That house is lovely; and looks like it was
    well-maintained. Square footage? It looks huge!

  18. I’m so happy for Belle!

    I can’t wait to see which kitties claim which bird watching spots- there seem to be plenty. Those built-ins are wonderful! What’s behind the tiny door in Fred’s office? A little closet?

  19. Such a beautiful house. Love all the built-ins, as others have noted. Thank you for the Xmas card with the most handsome and adorable man-cat ever. (Yes, LG, you’re very handsome, too, but in a different way.)

  20. All those boxes in the garage.. those are just the cat beds and toys, right? Come on, you can admit it, we all know you! 😉
    Seriously though, gorgeous house!
    So sorry about your pooptastic drive, I can’t imagine.. or I don’t want to, it had to be awful!