Sunday, August 4, 2019

Farewell, Garden Kitty

This is Garden Kitty, GC for short. He lives down the street, but spends most of his time outside.

He's extremely friendly and sweet, and seems to crave attention even more than food. So we gave him both. 

I didn't know his real name, but started calling him Garden Kitty because he liked to keep me company while I gardened. He would hang out and occasionally come over to be pet or to pounce on something that moved enough to catch his attention. He loved to play and would chase sticks, or vines or even long plants. He was great company and made chore time more fun. Often he would be on the deck waiting for us first thing in the morning and would come back after we returned home from work. 

He was extremely curious and before locking the garage up we had to make sure he wasn't still in there exploring. He had no fear. There was the time I went outside to scare away the deer that GC was slowly creeping up on as if he were going to pounce on it. Or the squirrel that he came *this close* to catching and instead swatted on the behind as it leaped away.

Sometimes he was a bit of a pain. Like when I was trying to hoeing weeds and he kept trying to rake against my hoe and pounce where I was working. I was afraid I would accidentally hurt him, so I stopped and petted him instead. Or when he camped out on our deck and stressed out our sensitive kitty, possibly contributing to his recent cystitis flare. Or when he scared away the birds from the feeder we hung from the deck to provide entertainment to our three indoor kitties.

But we couldn't be mad at GC. And we couldn't stick to our resolutions to ignore him. He was too sweet of a soul.

We debated if GC was neglected. He was outside most of the time. Early in the morning and late at night. Even on heat warning days when the temperature was 95 and so humid it felt like 105F. He was thin so when he cried for food we started feeding him. So did some of our other neighbors. One down the street called him Friendly Kitty, also an apt description. 

Our next door neighbor worried that he wasn't good around cars. He didn't always look before crossing the street in his excitement to come visit. And unfortunately on Friday, August 2, this habit is what led to his far too-early death when he was hit by a car. 

I know there can be extenuating circumstances that lead people to let their cats outside. But there are so many risks--cruel people, cars, other animals--and their lives tend to be so much shorter than indoor cats. I question if it's worth the risk considering the alternatives of letting them out only with supervision or on a leash or in a catio. 

We miss him and mourn his early passing. I question if I should have done more for him. I know some of our other neighbors have the same thoughts. He deserved more than he was given at home, but he was loved by many.

Farewell GC, you were a very good boy. We won't forget you.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

When is it time to upgrade?

It's July 3, the evening before our Independence Day, and many are out celebrating or attending the big fireworks celebration downtown. I however will be asleep soon. Stress wears me out.

What am I stressing out about? My stupid car. It's latest issue is a busted radiator. Lucky for me, the parts are less than $100 and the boyfriend can fix it. So it could be much worse. But it wasn't fun seeing the heat gauge max out this morning. It was even less fun trying to drive it home and pulling over three times on the five mile ride home to let it cool off. Not to mention the boyfriend had to come check it out mid-way because I was freaking out thinking my car might explode.

Photo: Carlyle Ellis Photography/Human Quotient
Having the radiator go out isn't unexpected given that my Honda Civic is 19 years old. I mean, how long is a car supposed to last anyway? It does only have 135,000 miles, but as a mechanic friend warned me a few years ago, all of its parts, gaskets, seals, etc. will fail start failing soon.

A lot of things have already broken and already been replace by the boyfriend. He's saved me tons in labor and aggravation over the years (thanks, honey!). So when should I just call it quits?

I came close to doing so last summer. I went car shopping. Narrowed down the make and model to a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. But I was underwhelmed and if I'm going to spend $15-20k, shouldn't I be a little excited about what I'm buying?

I'm also overwhelmed by the options. SUV or car? If I care about the environment, does that mean I should invest more and get a hybrid or electric?

Another problem is I want the latest safety features for a three-year-old-car price. Not gonna happen. In the meantime, my boyfriend spruced up the Civic, painted the peeling trim and plastic hubcaps, and found a deal on tires.

Suddenly it didn't look so bad.

Plus, there's the cost. I haven't had a car payment in 16 years and pay $280/year for insurance. I definitely like that part.

However, I don't like worrying about how I'm getting my broken down car home or how long it will be out of commission. Or having the boyfriend have to spend time fixing it on his limited time off or in winter. And taking long trips in it feels like a gamble.

He says this isn't a big deal and there's not much else that can go bad since most things have been replaced ... except the clutch.

So should it stay or should it go? I can't decide.

What's the oldest vehicle you've had? How do you decide when it's time for a new one?

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Finally, curbside recycling!

I found this finished 2018 post in my drafts and decided to go ahead and post it,hopefully it will inspire me to post more! Although recycling has gotten even more complicated these days due to falling demand for materials.

photo: Igor Mazic, flickr
It's 9F and I'm excitedly bundling up to take out the recycling. Why such excitement for a routine chore? Because this is the first time in almost 14 years that I've been able to take recycling to the end of the driveway for pickup instead of having to haul it away

I've been a devoted recycler ever since a college boyfriend inspired me to begin. My little hometown with a population of 35,000 had curbside recycling service way back in 2003, but when I moved to the "big city" of Columbus I had to kiss that service goodbye. That didn't stop me from recycling though. I dutifully saved my recyclables in the basement and then hauled them out once a month or so to pack up the Civic and take them to a drop-off location.

At some point curbside service was offered to city residents, first for a monthly charge and then the free in 2012, but by then I had already purchased the house. While my neighborhood is in the middle of the city of Columbus, we're part of a township. The township has its own trash services, sans recycling. So I continued schlepp the recycling to a drop-off location a few miles away or the boyfriend would take it to the recycling location at work. But it was a pain and something we always put off as long as possible.

Then a few years ago a resolution to add recycling to the township's waste services for less than $10 per year per household was up for a vote. Hooray! For less than $10 per year to each household's trash costs, but to me that was well worth it. Apparently I was soundly in the minority because the measure was soundly defeated, twice.

Then a few months ago, finally good news: our trash contract was being renegotiated to include recycling at no additional cost.  I called the day I received that letter to request a bin and have been counting down to January. Last Saturday I realized said bin had never arrived and I disappointedly figured I'd have to wait a bit longer, and then, what did I see on top of the three inches of snow at the end of the driveway Saturday afternoon but a lovely green recycling bin.

The only bummer is that when I went to collect my bin I looked around and didn't see another one on the street. And today when I deposited my overflowing bin back at the end of the driveway, it was still the only one in sight. Hopefully that will change tomorrow on pickup day or in the weeks to come.

But the apathy of my neighbors in this working-class neighborhood has got me thinking. If people won't recycle even when all you have to take a bin to the curb, what chances are there that people will make the real changes necessary to avoid environmental disaster?

I can't help thinking back to my time in Denmark in 2000, where it was common place to separate compostable trash from the rest of the rubbish for weekly pick up. Glass and plastic bottles were returned for deposits. Aluminum cans weren't sold there, although you could buy them in neighboring Sweden. Everyone seemed to gladly return, separate and recycle. What would inspire more Americans to do the same?

I know recycling isn't a panacea, but in the meantime it seems much better to recycle what we can instead of filling up the landfills.

Is recycling popular in your area? Do you recycle? Why or why not?


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