121. Henry the Model Cat

Henry was whining to me the other day — You haven’t written about me for a long time, he said. You have thousands of pictures of me on your phone; don’t you think it’s about time I get another post of my own?

The last time, he just commandeered the laptop and wrote his own post,Henry watching videos so I thought I’d better do as he says. No surprise there — the world is full of pet owners doing what their animals demand.
Henry bugging Mr.H.C.

It took us two years to find another cat after our perfect Mr. Kitty died suddenly at early middle age — in his mid-forties, we would say. There’s not much like the sorrow of losing a pet; an animal, you tell yourself, it’s not like a person. Yet they’ve shared your house and your life for however many years and there’s surely a gaping hole where their funny little selves used to be.

Mr. Kitty had been such a good cat! And cats are such capricious beings — not all of them are people I can live with. I’ve known some awful cats in my time — they shall remain nameless. No, one has to be very careful when choosing a cat. No cat rescuer, moi. If I’m going to share my house, the animal best be well behaved.
Henry the model cat

Just as Mr. Kitty had done, Henry chose us. (I’ve written about him here and here and here.)
henryA wild cat who had three families feeding him, we are fairly sure that he had been chasing a woman and just got too far away from home to find his way back. Litter-trained from the beginning (he went in Mr. H.C.’s open suitcase on the floor!) he has now made the complete transition from wild tomcat to domesticated lap cat. He looks off the porch at the birds and the chipmunks and then comfortably comes back inside to eat from his food bowl; only in his distant animal memory does he remember being a hunter, cold and miserable in the snow, desperately searching for a warm place to sleep.
Kitty looking over back porch

Now he curls up stretches out on the bed and snores loudly — louder than Mr. H.C. even.

Henry lounging

Henry doesn’t know a stranger. If you sit down in a chair, he’ll be on your lap within five minutes, not even bothering with proper introductions.
Still life with husband and cat

When we leave him for three days, he is always delighted to see us when we return — no sulking or pouting for Henry. He jumps into your arms for some immediate loving. “Oh I’ve missed you,” he purrs.


He’s also likely to steal the iPhone and take a selfie.

Our son-in-law stayed here for a few days a couple of weeks ago, and his main charge was caring for the Henry while we were gone. When we returned, his comment was, “Henry is a model cat.”

Yes. We knew that. But Henry overheard, and since then has been overdoing his bad habit… He only has one.

He is an early riser. And he hasn’t figured out yet that we are no longer on Daylight Savings Time. This morning at 4:22 the scratching on the sliding glass door began. He wanted to go out.

It’s hard to ignore cat claws on glass.


He also hasn’t yet figured out that it is getting to be very cold — 28 degrees cold. At 4:25 the scratching began again. He wanted to come in.

It’s hard to ignore cat claws on glass.

Cat in window

He doesn’t leave dead things on the floor; he doesn’t walk on the kitchen counters (though I did catch him once on the dining room table); he won’t drink milk or eat fish from your plate; he doesn’t even say much.

Henry in sepia

He’s simply a model cat.

74. Starring Henry the Cat

Henry has been bored this past week, so he stole the camera, took over the laptop, and put some pictures of his cute little self on my blog. Bad cat, Henry!

Henry the cat in the truck

cat and computer

cat reading directions

Cat sleeping

Cat on bed

comatose cat

Cat and bell

cat waiting for food

cat looking in mirror

Cat sleeping on the porch swing

Catnapping under the sheets

cat and shadows

Henry would like to assure you that none of these photos were staged…
cat in black and white

33. …as soon go kindle fire with snow

About a month ago Henrietta’s Hippo nominated me for a lovely blog award, Blog on Fire. Unfortunately, this post proves that I’m NOT on fire, as it took me this long to figure out how to work this in to my regularly scheduled posts. :-) You see, I have to say eight interesting things about me or my pet, which in this case would be the cat, Henry, as hubby, Mr. H.C., absolutely doesn’t qualify as my pet. He never comes when he’s called. (Come to think of it, neither does Henry…) 20121102-185924.jpg
One would think that finding eight interesting things to say would be easy. After all, everyone on the planet thinks they are the most interesting person on the planet, right? That would be the problem with the planet…but that’s another post altogether. Plus, this blog is ostensibly supposed to be about renovating our cottage, although there have been tangents…

So for the past month I’ve been trying to come up with a clever way to incorporate eight interesting things about Henry and me with the cottage. There are eight rooms in the cottage, so that’s the tie-in. (Yes, it’s taken me a month to come up with this! Sigh…)

1. The Back Deck

Henry lounging on the back deck in warmer moments…

Henry found us. He appeared on the back deck two summers ago, soon after we realized the cottage was going to be ours. It took awhile for us to realize that he was going to be ours as well. Perhaps he was coming to our large, protected deck before we found him; no one knows for sure. Last winter Mr. H.C. built him a snug insulated cat box for those times when we were gone and he wasn’t. This winter he will be an inside Pittsburgh house cat and only be the country cat on weekends. We don’t think he minds. This past weekend was very rainy and cold. I opened the back door for him to go out on the deck, and he just looked up at me as if to say, “What? You think I’m crazy? I’m sleeping here on the bed in the warm!”

2. The Yellow Bedroom

Notice Henry sleeping on the bed. This was just after he declined to go outside…

Yellow is my least favorite color. I don’t have a single item of clothing that is yellow. On a short walk-thru of my home in Pittsburgh the only things I could find that were yellow were some bananas and apples on the kitchen counter, and a few yellow books in the library. So the Yellow Bedroom will be changing soon. Not only are the walls yellow, but so is the ceiling! And the bedspread does its darndest to imitate the wallpaper.

And just to add to the brightness, this is the wallpaper on the fourth wall

So here’s the big news: While Mr. H.C. and I are concentrating on redoing the kitchen and the bathroom, the duo at {rehabitat}are going to redo our bedroom for us. Online. Without them having to come to the cottage. Without me having to go to NYC. That’s part of the reason I just happen to have these lovely photos of this yellow bedroom… There will be more posts explaining the process soon; I just had to let you in on the big news. Did I mention that {rehabitat} is my sister and my niece? I can’t wait to see what they do with this Yellow room…

3. The Garage Bedroom
I like real. I confess to being a bit fanatic about it… In my last post about antiques, I called myself a 100% person — 100% cotton, 100% wood, 100% old. I’m even borderline on plywood, although I can see the uses for it sometimes… The garage bedroom is 100% paneled in 100% fake walnut paneling sheets from the seventies.


That little white fur ball in the middle of the loaded up junk bed is none other than, yep, Henry, the cat who sleeps anywhere.

It’s a sad room that used to be a garage for holding Uncle Leslie’s red and white Pontiac. Since it was built to be a garage, there are no windows except for the sliding glass doors in the front where the garage doors used to be. (There is one small window on the back wall as well.) The long windowless wall faces South, so if there were some windows on that wall, it would make a huge difference. That’s in the three year plan; in the meantime, the paneling will probably be painted as a short term solution. It will double as a guest bedroom and an office/library. For now it is storage for inherited furniture that we don’t know what to do with, old boards that we’re saving in case we need them, and a bed that any occupant might have to share with Henry…

The Bathroom

This is almost exactly our bathroom vanity. It was purchased new at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Swissvale for $275. And Mr. H.C. was thinking that we paid too much. It’s listed here for $2600! Can that be possible?

Henry loves the bathroom. He just curls up on the rug outside the shower and sleeps. This seems to be strange cat behavior, but if you research this fact, you will discover that most cats love bathrooms. And Henry will sleep anywhere! Last weekend I found him curled up with my hair dryer and round hairbrush. The hair dryer WAS warm…

The bathroom was originally the room we were going to do over first, so we have it mostly planned and have even purchased materials for it: a round hand-hammered copper sink that we bought in Deep Creek several years ago and have just been waiting for a perfect place for it; small 1 inch travertine tiles for the shower floor; the maple vanity pictured above; and a large mission-style mirror that matches the vanity perfectly and cost $7. When we peeled up the carpet (orange-red shag), there were 3″ pine boards underneath that I started sanding immediately. I gave it up when we started the kitchen, but I can’t wait to get re-started on this room; it is terrifically ugly at this point, even with the Italianate plaster walls…(See post 32. Imperfect Little Cottage.)

The Pantry/Laundry Room

The pantry shelves are filled with paints and renovating materials for right now, but picture them with quart jars of home-canned tomatoes…

I love having a big pantry. I want to garden, store food, have chickens, bees, and have a pantry big enough to store 50 pounds of apples, potatoes, or squash. The pantry is a nice size and an interesting old-time design. There are four steps going down into it from the kitchen; built-in shelves are on three walls, but it needs a new ceiling from a long ago leak in the roof…Yep, something else for the three year plan.

From the pantry up to the kitchen…

The Kitchen
My blog is subtitled The Circle of Life, and the kitchen of this cottage is the room that most reminds me of the circles of my own life. I remember sitting at Aunt Mary’s kitchen table having a glass of cider. This memory is so foggy, I must have been really young. I also remember her taking me outside and showing me how she got water at the hand pump and letting me try. I had to hang my whole skinny little self on the long handle to try to pull it down and was amazed at her ability to pump the handle multiple times. Forty some years later, I visited Clara in that same house with my new husband. I sat at her kitchen table and she got us a glass of iced tea. Ten years later, and it is our house; there isn’t a kitchen table in the plans, and now that I’m writing this, I’m regretting it…We looked at old kitchen tables with the enameled tops but opted for an island instead. It will be okay — we have a big harvest table in the dining room.

The Living/Dining Room
I am a Jesus follower. I wasn’t always. I like to tell people that I wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, just like the Israelites, but it wasn’t really 40 years — more like thirty. During those years I tuned out everyone who tried to talk to me about God, Jesus, or faith. So if you are still reading, thank you. I’ll just be a few more lines… I had spent years rejecting God and the Christian faith; when I finished my first prayer after such a long time, I remember thinking, “What a joke! I just prayed to a God I’m not sure I believe in!” But He didn’t let go of my heart, and when I invited him to sit at my table, He invited me to sit at His. Forever. And so for the living room and dining room–everyday rooms–I want to quote a blog post I just read on Everyday faith. It’s from Sarah who blogs at Life in the parsonage.

Everyday faith. It means living for something bigger than myself. Bigger than this moment and this life. It means that my life, my choices, my attitude, my response, my everything does not belong to me. That’s what makes faith so hard. Every day I fight against wanting it to be about me. And I often find myself reaching for control of it. And that’s the miraculous part of it: He always gives grace. And mercy. He never grows weary of me. He knows my weakness, and He works within it, showing Himself… That is my Living by Faith.”

No, it’s not easy. But, wow, is it way better than my old life without Jesus! So if you are depressed, anxious, need forgiveness, or are just plain tired of shouldering burdens that are too hard, find yourself a Bible and your favorite reading chair. Turn to 1 John — it is a short book near the end of the New Testament. It is only five chapters, but it is the story of unfathomable and unconditional love. And it is for you. Amen.

The Mudroom

This one is from HGTV’s site on cottage mudrooms. Some of the newer pics are starting to be chic gray…

Has anyone noticed pictures of mudrooms lately? They are white with clean shelving, unmuddied boots, and a few jackets hanging neatly on pegs. So unlike what a true mudroom in a farmhouse looks like. We are still deciding what ours will look like. We have terracotta tiles for the floor, and small French doors to open into the kitchen. We also have a possible wood stove in the corner. But undoubtedly, it will be messy even if the walls are painted white. This next story is in the mudroom because it is a confession of how messy lives are; even though we try to whitewash them for the world…

My sweet hubby was my first boyfriend. In 4th grade. I was invited to his 10th birthday party, except he failed to inform me it was a birthday party. (The first of many miscommunications…) I thought we were just going roller skating. I was scared to go because I’d never roller skated before, but I went because I liked him! Rita, his sweetheart of an older sister took care of me that afternoon and taught me to roller skate — held my hand as we went round and round, helped me up when I fell, and encouraged me the whole time. Then we went back to his house and he started opening presents! I was mortified that I didn’t have one for him. I must have cried because Clara put money in an envelope and gave it to him and signed my name! Their whole family took care of me that afternoon! Six years later we were boyfriend and girlfriend again — for two plus years in high school. We broke up in college, married others, had children, lived our lives, and saw each other once every five years or so at high school reunions. Thirty years later, we met again…and now are happily married. A happy ending, yes, but there was divorce and sorrow in between. God is gracious and merciful to all us sinners…

Since I am so weird and have such random interests and loves — Jesus, words and books, DIY & decorating, antiques, country life — I also read a weird variety of blogs. Here are eight lovely blogs that I am nominating for the blog on fire award:
Coyote soup
the domestic fringe
Kathy’s Chronicles and
MercyInk. (Please check out this website in particular. Lauren is trying to raise a lot of money for Operation Baby Rescue in the mountains of Guatemala. Go here and be inspired. And buy your Christmas presents…)
Check them out.

The title of this post comes from Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare. The full quote is:
Thou wouldst as soon go kindle fire with snow, As seek to quench the fire of love with words.