Tag Archives: Florida

Photo Friday: Third Wheel


This photo was from ten years ago yesterday. It is Abbey, Tigger, and the ever-present third wheel, young Chris.

Abbey, Tigger, and Chris – January 14, 2011

Returning to Our Florida Home


The second leg of our trip back from West Virginia went pretty well except Floki cried almost the entire drive home. He would stop for brief respites and then start again. I half expected Chris to smack him and meow at him to be quiet.

We got home at about 1:00 in the afternoon. When we reached Tampa and were about a half hour from home we started joking about how surprised the cats were going to be when we put them in their old home.

30 seconds to home.

I never researched how good a cat’s memory is. I always imagined it to be similar to a human’s memory. I’d like to think that if I brought Chris back to the home we lived in when we adopted him more than eleven years ago he would remember it, or at least find it familiar.

I brought both crates inside and then opened the door. They were all so happy to be free and I could only imagine what they were thinking. What they did not do was go exploring. A new place requires exploring but this one was already known to them.

When we left for West Virginia I cleaned our three litter boxes and brought two of them with me. Before coming back I ordered from Amazon a replacement for each of the two boxes I took from there along with a couple of bags of litter. Our neighbor was kind enough to bring everything in the house for us so I was able to quickly get all the litter boxes filled with litter because I knew that would be needed right away. I wasn’t wrong about that.

One bad thing that happened in West Virginia was that Floki mostly stopped paying attention to Rose. Every morning Rose would sit on a stool at the side of the bed and check her email, Facebook, and I don’t know what else. During that time Floki would come to Rose and let her hold him for a while. While in West Virginia, he never did that. And to throw salt in the wound he would get on my lap right in front of her. The day we got home Floki let Rose pick him up and hold him again. I was very pleased to see that.

Another bad thing that happened up there was my toes almost fell off. Well, not literally, but it felt like they would. Even in Florida my hands and feet always seemed colder than they should be, but in West Virginia, there were times when I felt like I had frostbite on my toes. One evening, on Christmas Day or the day after, I spent quite a while standing in the kitchen. When we finally sat down to eat my toes on my right foot felt frozen and were throbbing with pain. When I took my socks off later I saw they were red and slightly swollen.

I looked up what might be the cause and the closest thing I could come up with was a condition called Chilblains which is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air.” One symptom I didn’t have was itching so I wasn’t sure. I also read it was common in very young and very old people. If I did have it, I reasoned, I must be too young.

A couple of days later it happened again so I went to the doctor and she wasn’t certain but agreed that Chilblains was probably what I had and I should go out of my way to keep my feet warm. I think we decided then that we would not be spending Christmas there anymore, even though all of our Christmas decorations are there now.

We have been home for almost two days now and the cats have gone back to their old routines like nothing ever happened. I, for one, am happy to be wearing shorts with no socks.

Florida, Here We Come


It is now 6:30 on Saturday morning as I start this post. Ten minutes ago we left our home in West Virginia and ate heading back to our home in Florida. Getting to this point wasn’t easy.

I think what caused me the most stress was worrying about getting Floki in the crate before he ran under the bed. My idea was to feed them in the empty bedroom and then put them all in the crates when we finished everything we had to do.

I woke up at 3:00 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worrying about carrying the crates down the stairs, especially the big one with Chris and Floki. I am sure the handle was not designed for that weight and I didn’t want to drop them down the stairs.

I also knew I had litter boxes to clean since we didn’t want to leave with old litter in the box. Actually, Rose didn’t want to do that. I cleaned two of the four boxes last night. I figured I would clean one this morning, which I did, but the last one would have to wait until the cats were in their crates.

Rose couldn’t sleep either so we got up at four and decided not to lock the cats in the bedroom. I fed them and spent the time preparing to close up the house and get stuff ready to go out to the car, including cleaning our giant litter pan.

I then started loading the car. There was way too much stuff for Rose’s little car and didn’t know how I was going to fit everything. I had the car more than half filled when Rose stuck her head out the door and said “We have a big problem.”

Since we had to put the top down to fit the crates in the back set she reminded me the trunk had to be empty to put the top down. Since it is a hard top it takes up room in the trunk when it’s down.

So I had to empty everything that was in the trunk. As I was doing that Rose informed me she caught Floki and put him in the crate. I went inside and helped get Chris, who we put with Floki, and the Frankie, when is flying solo. I then put the last litter box in a big garbage bag.

Rose put the top down and I put the cats in the car. I then loaded the trunk, which is as full as it can be, took out the trash, double checked the house and left.

Forty five minutes has gone by since I started writing and Floki is still crying. Wish us luck.

West Virginia Here We Come


We rented a moving truck yesterday and I spent about four hours loading it. When I was mostly done we went back to the U-Haul place and got the car carrier. They quasi helped us but said we had to do it so they couldn’t be sued.

This morning we got up at five but had so much to do that we were not ready to go until 7:45. We put Chris and Floki together on the bottom and Frankie by himself on the top and then strapped them in.

As soon as we started Floki started screaming and Frankie was just wide-eyed and shaking. Chris was the only calm one although he did claw at me occasionally.

It is now 8:35 and Floki just stopped crying and has settled in. Frankie turned around and has calmed down too. The only issue now is that this truck feels like a bounce house but without the fun.

Riding the Storm Out


We were hit by Tropical Storm Eta yesterday evening. I once heard that there is an old Indian legend that says there is something under the ground in the Pinellas County, Florida area that repels hurricanes. Indeed, we have never had a direct hit by a hurricane but maybe a tropical storm doesn’t qualify. I’m not sure where the center of the storm hit but I know it was north of us, perhaps in the next county, preserving the legend. In either case, it was pretty windy for a long time.

We have a a large oak tree next to our house and I think the wind was causing branches to fall on our roof so every couple of minutes we would hear a loud bang. Frankie and Floki were not exactly scared but the noise did seem to cause them concern.

Chris, on the other hand, was sleeping in the Florida room, totally oblivious to the noise. I wanted to get a photo of him napping but I made the mistake of turning the light on and woke him up

We decided to go to bed at around 10 p.m. That is when our power went out. Rose insisted we leave the bedroom door open for air circulation even though Chris is a pain in the butt.

He was actually not too bad at first but then fighting off his attacks became too much and I had to put him down off the bed. He, of course, didn’t stay down and by 1 a.m. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I got up and got the power inverter that I bought for last year’s hurricane season and plugged in one of my Ryobi 40 volt batteries. I then plugged in a fan and brought it into the bedroom and closed the cats out.

That worked good but by 4 a.m. the battery had died and we were both uncomfortably hot so I plugged in my other battery but by then we couldn’t go back to sleep.

We got up and I tried making coffee but it was too much for the battery so I ended up going to Dunkin Donuts for coffee after they opened.

We are now in the car heading to Lakeland where Rose has a property that she oversees. I assume our power will be back by the time we return but just in case I brought my batteries with to charge.

Update: I was wrong and the storm did not make landfall near me. It looks like it moved north along the coast and then made landfall 100 miles away as the state curves to the west.

Another Move is Coming


I did a DNA test recently and I was almost certain it would come back 100% Nomad but apparently they don’t test for that. I counted all the homes I have lived in throughout my 57 years and ran out of fingers and toes. 22 was the number I came up with and that is assuming I didn’t miss one or two. Well, soon that number will be 23.

We currently live in a 55+ mobile home community in Florida where we own our home but pay lot rent. That rent goes up every year faster than inflation. Our original plan was to buy a motor home when we retire and travel in the summer but we needed a home base that wouldn’t cost so much while we were away. We spent a lot of time looking around here but it is almost impossible to find anything but a fixer upper or a tiny home with one bathroom for less than $200,000. Condos are an option too but with their high maintenance fees they are not much better than what we are paying now.

Enter option number two. A couple of years ago I went with Rose on one of her business trips to West Virginia and Virginia. At the time she was managing an apartment complex in each of those states. I was most impressed with the town that the West Virginia property was in. It is a small town on the Ohio River of about 3500 people or so and it just seemed like a nice change of pace. We currently live in the most densely populated county in Florida and driving places can be a real drag sometimes.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast and the owners there mentioned that the house across the street was for sale. They said it would probably sell for about $40,000. The place was about as big as the bed and breakfast and Rose and I figured it would probably take another $40,000 to restore it, still an excellent deal. While the idea of buying a home there intriged us, we were not ready for that commitment.

Two years later Rose comes across a Five-bedroom, three-bath, 3000 square foot home for $159,000. The home is not only in good condition but it has a separate two-car garage that has an apartment above it that we can rent. It is also 120 years old and is on the National Historic Registry.

I always assumed we would downsize when we retire. We even talked about living on a boat in the winter and then living in a motorhome in the summer. This house is the exact opposite of what I imagined but I think we will really like it there. The photos below were taken from the Realtor.com website. We have not seen the house in person.

I think the cats will have a great time exploring this house but I may have a hard time getting an accurate cat count.

I was hoping to get a home with a fenced yard where we could let the cats out but this fence probably is too short to be useful. Still, I could probably figure something out so that they can enjoy the outside. Maybe we could screen in this patio for starters.

Of course, this won’t be a done deal for a couple of weeks and anything can happen before then but so far, everything seems good. For now we will be going back and forth between our two homes and eventually we will sell the Florida home.

My biggest problem has been figuring out how to best transport the cats. My original plan was to rent a cargo van and put a cat playpen in the back. (Note: I am using Amazon links so you can see what I am talking about. I am not recommending anything but I will get a small commission if you buy something). I thought I could put the three cats in the pen with a small litter box and some water and maybe food. Then we could pack the rest of the van with supplies. I didn’t think we needed to bring anything big since it would be easier to buy everything there. I also thought we could rent a car carrier and tow Rose’s car. That idea was shot down when I could barely find van rentals that were one-way and none had a towing option. In addition, the vans that were one-way had a $350 drop off fee that doubled the price.

My second option was to buy a hitch for Rose’s car and rent a trailer. I would then have to put the cats in the back seat of her two-door car which wouldn’t be easy. I thought I could find one big carrier that covered the entire back seat but no such luck. Then I found out that her sister was giving her a sofa and loveseat which meant we had to rent a truck and since we were renting a truck Rose decided to bring the bed in the spare bedroom and she also bought the mermaid dresser from the last post.

I dreaded the idea of renting the truck because we would then have to put the cats in the front seat between us for the fourteen-hour drive which would probably be sixteen hours in a truck. We decided it was too long and will split the trip in two and stay at a hotel in South Carolina.

I went to a local U-Haul location and measured the space in between the seats. I then ordered two pet crates. One crate is 18×24 inches and the other is 13 x 22 inches. I could have ordered two of the larger crates but then I would have a problem getting them both in Rose’s car on the way home. My plan is to seatbelt the larger crate between the seats and then attach the smaller crate above it. I will put Chris with Floki and Frankie by himself to minimize fighting.

The larger crate arrived last week and the cats, or at least Frankie and Floki, were very curious about it. Chris must have been napping.

I wish I could give them a bigger space but we just don’t have the room. It is the trip with the cats that I dread the most. I think, perhaps, it is because I fear the unknown. What happens if there is an accident or we break down? What if one of them escapes the hotel? I’ve never been a Boyscout but I like to be prepared.

I bought them each a collar and Tile tracker.

I wrote their names on the front and my phone number on the back. The Tile has a range of about 200 feet and you can find it using an app on your phone. There is one that has twice the range but it is also twice as heavy. The nice thing is if anyone else with a Tile app comes within range of your tile the location will be recorded for you. It is not perfect but it is an added piece of mind. We also have all the cats microchipped as well so that will help too.

So I think I am as prepared as I can be but I would welcome any suggestions and a little luck too.

Memories of Shelter Cats


It has been over two months since the local SPCA told all of us volunteers to stay home. They are still taking care of and adopting pets but they are doing it with just their paid staff. That means the cats and dogs are still finding homes but they have fewer people around to pay attention to them while they are there.

While I was volunteering, I took photos of some of the cats almost every time I was there and I thought this would be a good time to share some of the ones from this year. The last time I was there was March 19th, over two months ago, so I’m sure all of these kitties have found homes by now. At least I hope so. I also have forgotten all of their names except Grampa Hulu who was unusual because he was a male tortie.


Grandpa Hulu


Hopefully they will be letting us volunteers come back pretty soon.

More Cats in Litter Boxes


A couple of months ago I wrote about the many cats I saw who tended to spend their time lying in litter boxes at the SPCA shelter where I volunteer (see here). I suggested, and people agreed, that this is a behavior caused by stress. Since then I have accumulated several more photos of cats in litter boxes. Many, if not all, of the cats shown here have been adopted so enjoy the photos but don’t worry about the kitties.

Being in a shelter is no fun for anybody but usually, the end justifies the means. I’ve noticed the turnover is relatively quick and a cat that spends three months in our shelter is pretty rare. Now that the shelter is by appointment only that might change but my hope is people won’t forget about these pets in need even though they have other things to worry about right now. What do you think?

Shelter Pets Still Need Homes


As many of you know, I volunteer for the SPCA here in Largo, Florida. I work as a cat counselor every Thursday from 4-7. Usually there are three of us counselors but a week ago two of my fellow volunteers did not show up. When I went in this Thursday I was expecting the shelter to be closed to the public but I was pleasantly surprised that it was open and pets were being adopted, although they have adopted an appointment only policy that started Friday.

I was again alone this Thursday, and I hope the two ladies I work with are well, but it does make my work seem even more important now. During the three hours I was there I saw three cats go home with their new families. It is a good feeling.

My wife and I have been throwing around the idea of adopting a female cat. Unfortunately, we are only allowed one pet where we live and are already over our limit so it probably won’t happen but I still think about it while I am there. This last month there have been a string of female black cats that have been extremely friendly and affectionate. Three of these cats have been in isolation because they supposedly do not get along with other cats. We considered adopting one of them, Jezebel, which I wrote about here. When my wife came in to check her out she proved herself to be intolerant of others.

While I was there Thursday, I kept an eye out for the most friendly female cat at the shelter. This, of course, is impossible to determine on one visit because cats might act differently depending on how tired they are or for other reasons. However, I do think a six year old cat named Kiki would get my vote. Coincidentally, she is another female black cat and I noticed how friendly she was the previous week too.

I think the friendliest male cat at the shelter would be a one year old named Kitty, who is a very special cat with a not so special name. He is in isolation because he is on a special diet but I think that is temporary. When I opened his cage he was all over me. He would push his head into my chin and then put his paws on my shoulder and snuggle with me. As an outgoing and rather well built male, I think he would cause jealousy among our other two wannabe alpha males.

Please excuse the poor quality of this photo of Kitty

On the way out after my shift I noticed a beautiful cat that was just outside the door. He meowed at me and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was one of our cats that escaped. I took a photo of him and went back inside to ask someone.

It turns out his name is Chunks, or something like that, and he is a stray that they take care of. It seems strange that a stray cat would be a permanent resident outside a shelter but if he is feral and unadoptable, that is probably the best place to live. When I came back out I bent down and reached out my hand, hoping he would come to me, but no such luck. I think he his trusting but to a point.

How are things where you live? Do you know if shelters are still open?

Photo Friday: Frankie Escapes Again


Frankie ran out the door last week when I opened it for the UPS guy. At first he stayed close and dared me to catch him. He even stuck his tongue out at me as if he thought he couldn’t be caught. He was right.

Cat Frankie with his tongue out

I put my phone away and casually walked towared Frankie but he darted off and dissapeared. I decided to wait for him outside so I let Chris out and the two of us waited together.

Cat Chris rolling on driveway.

Since it was hot outside we only lasted about fifteen minutes. I then brought Chris in and walked around looking for Frankie with no luck. I gave up after thirty minutes had gone by. Ten minutes after that Frankie was outside the door panting and wanting to come in.