Thursday, April 16, 2009

Il mio giardino, aprile 2009

Tuesday marked the first day this year I really spent working in my garden. Chopping down dead pampas grass, raking up as much mulch as I could, cutting down branches that were in the way, losing my shears, emptying a yard waste bag I though I had left them in, refilling the same bag once shears were not found, looking all around the house, yard and garage for shears until they were found hanging off the wheelbarrow (where, as soon as I found them I recalled thinking to myself, "I'll put them here so I don't lose them").

Today is Thursday and my legs are still killing me. I didn't realize how much squatting and lunging I do while gardening, but wow. Or rather, ow.

Tulips and daffodils and lilies are sprouting up. Irises are peeking through and so is the sedum, which I hope does not attract as many wasps as last year. *shudder* The forsythia has buds, and I'm strongly considering chopping down the smokebush to a more manageable height than its current ten feet. Unless I invest in a good pair of loppers...

It amazes me that ivy seems to never die. The ivy by the patio appears just as green now as it was in November.

But what with all the pruning I did before the snows it'll be exciting to see what grows this year. In particular there are two small trees that I'm anxious to see leaf and flower, as they were so covered up by other plants I didn't even know they were there!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ash and Juno

My hubby and I adopted a second cat this past Christmas. For a young female who had given birth at only 9 months, and already had her babies adopted out, the name Juno seemed only appropriate.

Never having owned cats before we got Ash in late 2006, I never realized what different personalities they could have. When we took Ash from a farmyard barn Thanksgiving weekend, he was barely eight weeks old. He was carried around as much as he would tolerate, and we didn't know that he could be really trained if we had tried. We didn't realize trimming his claws regularly would get him used to the idea, or that always keeping a squirt bottle handy would keep him out of the kitchen better than yelling. As it was, Ash was definitely king of the castle at our new house. He had the run of every room but the kitchen, once he dispatched the fish in the office by chewing through the filter hose and letting most of the water leak out.

But then, Juno arrived.

I had been thinking of getting Ash a "friend" for a while because he was never properly socialized. We took him away at such a young age, and with no other cats around, he didn't really know how to react around other animals, or other people for that matter, since he only saw us with the occasional visit from family or friends. So hubby and I started looking on the Ottawa Humane Society's website for a suitable cat. Internet research told us that it would be best if we got a female who was younger (opposite sex to avoid fighting, younger so he could still be the boss). We saw a couple of super cute ones on the site, but we decided to go to see them in person and find out if any of them clicked with us.

We walked in just before Christmas Eve, intending to look at a pair of black male twins, just 3 months old. Turns out they'd both been adopted just hours before. But a small, scrawny little "torbi dil" (I just now found out that means "tortoiseshell diluted") caught our eye. We looked at her chart, saw that she was barely a year old and had already had a litter of kittens. We asked to see her, and when we picked her up she immediately started purring. She was so thin - the effects of birthing, recent spaying and shelter diet meant she didn't weigh very much - that we could feel her pelvic bones eaily through her thin, scratchy fur. She was very chatty: lots of meowing and purring and chirping. We put her back for a few minutes, and looked at the other cats to at least give them a chance to win our hearts.

There was a grey female who could have been Ash's twin - grey fur, yellow eyes, same facial structure - except her white patch was under her chin instead of under her belly; we were sorely tempted. There was an adorable little ball of fluff about four months old, grey with big white patches, but we figured a long-haired cat would spell trouble for allergies. I seem to recall an orange male tempted me for a while (I've always wanted a ginger cat), but this skinny little yowler had already charmed us. Too bad we missed the adoption deadline for the night. We paid a deposit so we could pick her up the next day.

We went to the pet store to buy more supplies (cat bed, new toys, more litter, more food) and set up our empty spare room as a place where Juno could be alone while Ash got used to the idea of a new cat in His Domain. I was frankly alarmed at the idea that we might have to keep them apart for up to twelve weeks if they displayed overt hostility towards each other. I prayed Juno's shelter experience would make her magically pass on "socializedness" to Ash really quickly.

I shut Ash up in the basement for the few minutes it took us to set Juno up in 'her' room, then let him loose once her door was closed. Juno seemed to like being in the room alone... for about 24 hours. She quickly got bored and would head for the door anytime we went in or out to feed her or play with her.

I'll never forget the first time Ash actually saw her.

It was the third day of her being in our house. Andrew opened the door to go in to feed her and play with her, and his foot caught on the door so he couldn't close it immediately. Ash saw her, and he backed away slowly, his tail rising straight up and poofing out like a bottlebrush. For the first time in his life, he hissed. Andrew keeps telling me that Ash really is the best cat he's ever had, and that I don't realize how lucky I am, and I guess that day I partly acknowledged that because I had NEVER seen Ash so scared. Not even when he met my in-laws' über-friendly dog Meggin; he'd only been ten weeks old then, and he curled up into the tiniest ball of kitten I'd ever seen, his fur going all poofy and his ears flat back.

Juno, of course, being the friend sort, trotted right up to the door before Andrew slammed it shut, and I tried to soothe our poor outraged beastie.

Things were a bit hairy for a while, a couple of fights a day, but nothing lasting more than a few minutes of scrabbling. It's hard to say who really won those fights. Juno seems to have appropriated most of Ash's "spots": the catbed outside our bedroom door, the top of the kitty condo we built last year. But not out of any spite, I think; it seems to be more a question of familiarity. It smells like cat, so it must be a cat place. Ash has found new spots, or retaken old ones: in front of the bookshelf in the upstairs hallway, on the sheepskin in front of the TV. They share our bed during the day, or the old aquarium stand in the spare room which we hope to make a change table someday.

Ash is definitely settling into lap cat status, while Juno is still happy to play fetch with the little fishie with the rattle in it, or ravage various mousies. Ash is still a champion laser chaser, though. Juno doesn't seem to understand it. There's still the odd tussle between them, but overall I think they've finally become friends, which is exactly what we had hoped for.