Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kitty wars! and a bit of adoption process update too, but mostly Kitty Wars!

Until we have kids, our cats fill the void, as pathetic as that may sound to some, as evidenced by the story below. If you are bored by cat stories, feel free to skip ahead the end, starting with "On to other things." I promise it won't hurt my feelings.

Ted and I, as well as being t-shirt people, are cat people. We have three, a fact Ted seems sometimes a tad ashamed of, as if it makes him a bit off-center. A big, manly man can't have three cats, right? He had the first two, Chitty and Bang Bang, before we got married. Chitty was found as a kitten in the back of a pick-up truck in Hollywood by his friend Sally. Ted gave him his name for the fun that ensues with the mispronunciation that often occurs with a name like 'Chitty'. "You named your cat what?"

Ted and Chitty are joined at the hip. Chitty is the most dog-like cat I've ever known. He's loyal and faithful to his one and only, Ted. Chitty can be passed out asleep and if Ted moves to another room, Chitty follows him within five minutes. Every. single. time. Here's proof:

For the record, Ted was there on the couch first. (as a side-note, the book Ted has fallen asleep with is A Celebration of Discipline--around our house, we celebrate discipline with naps).

Here's a close-up of Chitty's attachment to his master. I often imagine Chitty walking around the house looking for Ted humming "Nearer my God to Thee."

The next cat Ted got before we got married is Bang Bang, given to him by some friends whose cat had a litter of kittens. While Chitty's nickname is "the fat one," Bang Bang's is "the dumb one." Notice the vacant expression.

Ted picked him out of the litter by watching the group of squirming kittens and finding the most laid-back one. That's Bang Bang. He's the one kids like to play with the most, as he doesn't really care if a two-year-old carries him around football style under one arm. He just mosies away when he can.

We have these attic storage spaces in our house, accessed by two small doors in our upstairs hallway. Our cats are obsessed with sneaking in there any time we have the doors open. This weekend, Ted was getting his collection of wigs out (yes, I just wrote that), and Bang Bang found his way in there while we weren't looking. When we got home a few hours later, we heard a really loud thumping upstairs, which sounded almost like someone had broken in while we were gone. Ted bravely goes upstairs, opens the attic doors, and out comes Bang Bang with a scratched up face. He'd apparently been trying to get out of the attic by using his face as a battering ram. I told you he's the dumb one.

We felt pretty bad about it, giving him lots of kisses and lap time and tasty morsels of half-n-half for the next few days to make up for his traumatic experience, though most likely he'd forgotten about it 30 seconds after we let him out. Nonetheless, he milked it for what it was worth (in this case, lots of milk), and could even put on a pretty pitiful face.

All I had to do was tell him, "Hey Bang Bang, tell me what it was like in the attic yesterday" and he'd make this face:

Our last cat is Buddy, whose life story requires a whole separate blog entry. Suffice it to say, our "Lil'bastard" has only one lung and his theme-song is "Back that thang up." If I get any requests for Buddy's story, I'll write about it later. As is, I know I'm testing the patience of our kind readers with all these cat stories.

So what's with the kitty wars, you may ask? Life seems generally peaceful for the cats around the Rooney house. Mostly, yes, but we've had an ongoing battle with our neighbor's smashed-faced cat, Jesse. When we moved in to this neighborhood last June, other neighbors told us Jesse stories, mostly about his sneaking into their houses regularly. Jesse really likes to be in other people's houses, and in cars as well. One neighbor got all the way to work one morning before realizing that Jesse was tranquilly curled up in her backseat, just enjoying the ride.

The day we moved in, Jesse came right over within five minutes of us unlocking the front door and walked right in the house, going all the way down to the basement exploring. At the time, we didn't have our cats with us yet, and we thought it was kind of funny, this brazen cat making himself at home.

In time though, it became less funny. We eventually got our cats up here to Portland (Chitty and Buddy rode in the car with us, those 16 hours from L.A. and Bang Bang came on a plane with our good friends Steve and Margaret who own Bang Bang's mother). Jesse had discovered the kitty-door, allowing him to come and go as he pleased. With our cats in the house, we wanted to put a stop to this, so Ted looked up online a list of substances that cats hate. We bought a long-range squirt bottle from Fred Meyer and put in it a concoction of vinegar, funky red wine, and lemon juice. We kept this bottle by the door, and anytime Jesse would show up, we'd squirt it in his general direction, hoping some would at least get on his fur and irritate him.

It didn't. If anything, he started to see it as a game. So we upped the ante. We started letting him get in the house so that we could pick him up and squirt him in the face with it. He'd just sort of squint his eyes and look away but not really fight to get away from us. We'd put him down outside, head dripping wet in our vinegar-wine-lemon potion and he'd just meander off back to his house, la-de-da de-da.

This is when I started to hate Jesse. He chases another neighbor's cat, Yoda, a really sweet loving kitty, and there were rumors around the neighborhood that another neighbor's cat got run over because Jesse had chased it into the street. I went into protective-mode and determined not to let this happen to our cats.

I upped the ante even more. Knowing most normal cats hate water, I started picking Jesse up on his daily visits to our house, taking him to our kitchen, holding him under one arm, and spraying the ever living daylights out of him with the faucet sprayer, getting myself about as wet as Jesse. He'd squirm a little more than with our potion but still didn't really seem to care. He'd just go out the kitty door and I'd see him walk back to his house, soaking wet, shaking his head, wondering to himself, "What was that all about? Geez, what's her problem?"

It's a good thing we have Chitty around, the 'fat one' because he's our protector. He stands nose to nose with Jesse, all puffed up to twice his already big size, and lowly growl, not letting him pass. Chitty is the only one who can reason with Jesse.

Except when he doesn't, mainly when he's sleeping.

One night when Ted was out of town, I woke up in the early morning and looked across the room at our dresser. There was Jesse, just sitting there staring at me. Chitty was downstairs asleep on the couch. Since Jesse doesn't seem to stalk or chase our cats, I've reached a truce with him. Now when he comes in at night, it doesn't freak our cats out anymore, waking us up with screeches, howling, and loud thumping through the house.

We have this comfy chair in our office that Buddy likes to sleep on. In fact, he's right there behind me asleep as I write this. Here he is:

Sunday morning, we came downstairs into the office and found Chitty and Buddy asleep on the couch, Bang Bang asleep on the guest bed, and our newest addition, our renegade neighbor-cat Jesse, all curled up asleep here:

Who knows how long he'd been there, maybe all night. Oh well. I give up.

On to other things:

We stopped by Heritage yesterday to hand them a document and found out that we'd been assigned a case worker that morning! We weren't expecting that until Wednesday, but the staff there has something else going that day, so they assigned us early. This was really good news.

We're waiting for a couple of documents to come in to Heritage this week. They're photocopying all our info for our case worker, then she'll look it over and hopefully contact us this weekend. We found out that she just finished a couple of home studies for Ethiopian adoptions, so she's familiar with that process. And Vicki, the international coordinator at Heritage, told us that our case worker is the type of person who immediately puts you at ease. That's good to know.

One hold-up with the document collection is with my AIDS test. I was so organized when I took my collection of medical forms to my doctor a couple of weeks ago. Filling out these forms correctly would require two visits, one to collect my blood and another to read the results verifying that I am free of certain diseases. They took a blood sample and administered the TB test, which takes two days to read. My doctor filled out parts of these forms this day, and I went home.

Two days later, I returned for her to read the TB test and sign all the forms which she had partially filled out before. There were three separate documents to be filled out. We managed to get two done correctly, but we forgot to have the doctor check the 'no' box beside the AIDS question on the document that gets faxed to Heritage for the home study, which she had partially filled out on the first visit.

Aurgh! So when Heritage told us this was incomplete, I took the form back to my doctor to have her check that box and re-fax it. She wasn't there. So another doctor in the office looked at my chart, read my negative result, checked and initialed that box, and faxed it.

That wasn't good enough. I have to have them either fax over a copy of my test results or the doctor has to write and sign a letter saying that I do not have AIDS. Man, oh, man. So I called to explain this to the receptionist, and she told me to leave that message with the nurse on her voice-mail, which I promptly did on Friday around noon. It's not Tuesday around noon, and the fax hasn't been sent yet.

I know it's complicated and I'm sure it'll get done eventually. It's just hard to have things hanging out there, especially when I tried to be so organized about it. It's amazing what you have to go through when one little box is not checked.

So, word for the wise: even if you think you've been organized and have checked things twice or thrice, check it again. It just may save you some phone calls and waiting.

PS: and if any of you are curious as to what Ted is doing with those wigs, well keep checking the blog. I'll post the link to youtube just as soon as we have it up.


The Elliott Family said...

I am a paper-shuffling-list-making-folder-organizing freak who secretly loved that part of adoption paper nightmare, and I will agree that even though you think you got it together, some goober will screw up and make you lose time!

Hang in there....I am pretty sure that you get to the end to find your beautiful child!!

Rachel, seeing a light at the end of the tunnel!

Anonymous said...

I want to hear the Buddy story...