24

Cat Forum: Interview with Twilight and Sushi


Greeting furry felines (and their non-furry companions). We have a special treat for you. We want to introduce you to two of our newest friends, Twilight and Sushi. They are the owners of the blog How to Train Your Humans. We’d like to nominate that for the best blog title ever! The blog is cat-tastic too, so head over to take a look.

The interview starts with an introduction, then moves on to questions.


 Twilight:  I’m Twilight, and I was born in the Can Opener’s back yard while Shrimp was still alive. 
For the first 6 months I was still feral- living in the back yard with the rest of the litter and my human was taking care of us. She looked after us and tried to keep us warm in the cold, wet, winters and cool and fed the rest of the time. 
When we were weaned from our Mother, she found homes for my 3 sisters – (one Siamese like me, but not as cute), and two solid black kitties)- but I had wandered off and couldn’t be found when the person came to take my sisters home. Shrimp had already been the established queen of the house, and she used to hiss at me when I came to the back door with my mom to eat. My human would gently tell her to leave us alone and she made sure Shrimp never got the pleasure of shredding me.  
My mom was still so feral, at that time, my human had to put food down and disappear before mom would go near the back door to eat- and if anyone was there she would watch warily from under a bush until the coast was clear.  The human had called a TNR cat rescue place and they trapped Mom and got her checked out by the vet, spayed, and gave her shots- and they tried for a month to find her a home. But Mom wouldn’t have it. So they brought her back to our yard and my human still takes care of her. Now, she will sit on the back porch, and let my human put a dish down in front of her (within inches of her) and then she eats and no longer runs away. But she still won’t come inside- even though its always wet and cold out.
But while we were still baby kittens nursing, when my mom would go hunting – the human used to pick me up and clean out my eyes because they were all icky- so I learned not to be afraid of her. So when my sisters were adopted and I was gone, I came back about a week later because there was a bad rainstorm and it was freezing outside and dark, and there had been inches of rain nonstop for those several days, I was so wet and cold and my fur was pink from the bloody flea bites. A neighbor saw me and brought me to the human, and she thanked him and brought me inside (Shrimp protesting constantly)- Shrimp was really mad at the human, but she told Shrimp she wasn’t going to put “this poor baby” back out in the rain and cold. Then she clipped my claws and bathed me in warm water with flea shampoo and rubbed me with coconut oil and declared me part of the family. I haven’t spent a night outside since. I instantly became spoiled and pampered even though Shrimp objected. 
Shrimp eventually got used to me (she was pampered too)- and we even got to be friends. But one morning Shrimp woke up and wouldn’t eat. And she wasn’t breathing right. We took her to the vet hospital, but there wasnt’ anything they could do to save her. Our human was heart broken- I’d never seen her cry before and I thought she’d never stop crying. I had to do something to help.  
So I put a call out on ‘Catbook’ to find another tortoiseshell kitty for my human. She had always said she loved Torties because of their cattitude and quirkiness, so I thought if I could find her another Tortie, it would be like giving her Shrimp back and then she’d stop crying.
Then I heard about Sushi so I made sure the human’s grown critters found out about her because I knew I’d need their help to bring her here.


Sushi: Hi! I’m Sushi! I’m so happy! I was once very happy as a kitten, but when I got older, my previous human didn’t want me anymore. She wanted to travel to far away places and I was often left alone for a really, really long time- or, left with people who didn’t really want me there and didn’t talk to me or play with me or cuddle me. I was the only kitty, so I didn’t even have sisters or brothers, or furry friends to keep me company. And, you know, you can only get so much entertainment out of a stuffed mouse and empty toilet paper roll, and bored spiders.
One day I heard my human talking with a family member and she was saying she didn’t want me anymore and was going to have me put down! I wanted to LIVE! I’m a good kitty, and I’m not sick or anything (but I am old)- I just wanted a place to feel loved and safe and wanted… 
And then the family member my previous owner had talked to decided she couldn’t just let me get put down. She took me to her house and tried her best for 8 months to find me a home. Nobody wanted to take me because I’m not a kitten- and I’m old. 
But right when I had lost all hope, the phone rang – and excitement rose in my cute little kitty heart as I heard the end of the conversation that said…”Oh! She WANTS HER? Great! I’ll get her and her things together and meet you after work!” The next thing I knew, I was being put in a carrier (which actually scared me a little)- and put in a car, and after a log trip, I heard a very friendly voice comforting me- it was the daughter of the woman who wanted to keep me! 
I only know her as “The Critters’ Mom” (that’s what Twilight calls her)- but Twilight had explained to me that she had heard about me and wanted me to meet her Can Opener so she set the whole thing up and then the Can Opener’s Grown Critter brought me to her house. Ever since I got here, I’ve been so happy and pampered! I’m not afraid and lonely any more!! And by the way, this November I turned 13 years old! 
Now I spend my nights cuddled up next to the Can Opener, all tucked in and warm instead of by myself. In the mornings, I’m the Can Opener’s lap kitty while she has her coffee and prays- then I play with Twilight and the little Critters until they go home and I’m brushed and pampered! 

Is there an alpha cat or are you guys more “Live and let live”?
Sushi: We both are typically very easy going cats. Twilight would rather play than fight, so she isn’t a challenger by any means. She just wants to get love and play. She’ll hide if she feels threatened. But since coming here, I’ve become an Alpha Cat! It has taken me 13 years to get this happy, and NOBODY is going to steal my human’s affection or take my place!

Sushi, does it bother you being named after a food?

Sushie No, it doesn’t make me nervous being named after food- I LOVE FOOD!!! (I’m 16.9 lbs of lovable cattitude).

Do you go outside or is it strictly Cat TV?
Twilight: Oh, no cat tv for me! I’d much rather be out hunting mice, chasing ducks and squirrels and fishing in the stream behind my house! I also love gardening in the neighborhood flower beds, annoying birds, and harraasing the psycho kitty next door.

Sushi: CAT TV, BABY! By the time the grand-critters go home, I’m all played out! (popcorn, please).


Have your humans been driving you nuts since the lockdown?

Sushi:  Are you kidding me? I’ve had so much cuddles and attention now, I’m going to hold them “Locked down” forever!

Twilight: Oh, my Can Opener’s cuddling gets a little annoying after 18 hours of following me around with a camera- but as long as she remembers how to open the cans and the back door, I’m good.

What is your favorite thing to do?

Twilight: Present the human with freshly caught mice. I just love her reaction- she loves it so much, she just can’t contain herself. Especially when I present them to her for breakfast in bed!

Sushi:  My favorite thing to do is cuddle in the human’s lap in the mornings when she has coffee and prays. It’s a pawsome way to fall asleep (my next favorite thing to do)!


Do you have any favorite Human food?

Twilight: Yes! I love REDI WHIP and egg, and salmon!

Sushi: Tuna!! and Chicken- and CHEESE!! 


How do you stay warm in the winter? 

Twilight:  Well, I got used to being cold when I was feral- I don’t like it, but I just go out and conquer the world anyway, then come inside and cuddle up on my bed (which is conveniently placed in a nook on the human’s desk right under the heater)!

Sushi: I go out and sit in the sunbeams until I use the neighbor’s fence post for a scratcher, then snack on a few bugs, then come in and snuggle up on the couch with the Can Opener. And if she tries to get up before I’m ready, I growl and hiss at her!


We heard you are related to Shrimp (of Hairball Express fame). Does it bug you that humans seem to find that important?

Twilight:  Oh no- not at all- Shrimp wasn’t happy when I first came along, but we (secretly) became friends. And now, it’s all about cute little ME -(Okay, Sushi too).

Sushi: Oh no, it doesn’t bother me. It’s very flattering to know that Twilight and the humans sought me out because I would be another kitty like her! She was the model of the purrfect Tortie- in fact, The Can Opener says since I’ve come here, it’s like Shrimp came back from Heaven- only now (she’s a “JUMBO SHRIMP!’ Mol! 


Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Twilight: Yes,would you open the door?

Sushi: Yes, I’m hungry. It’s been a whole 15 MINUTES since I ate!

Hope you enjoyed it.

Merry Christmas - Huntingdon Health and Rehabilitation Center


Editorial Note: Sincere apologies for being late. We had many technical difficulties with the several-month-old Chromebook. The last issue was with WordPress magically turning our classically edited post into a block edited post when we added the pictures. It looks OK at our end. Hopefully it gets to you in the same condition.

13

Cat Forum: Valentine’s Day

Kommando: Hey Snoops, look. It’s an advertisement for Valentine’s Day.

Snoops: I didn’t know Valentine had his own day.

Kommando: I think they just stole his name. This is all about buying jewelry and stuff. It says you should do it to show her how much you care.

Snoops: I wonder who she is, and why she needs so much stuff. Let’s see if we can find it on the Internet.

Image result for cats and the internet

Kommando: Ooh. Good idea. They know everything there.

Snoops: Hmm. It says it’s the feast of St. Valentine. The celebration of love and affection.

Kommando: And getting stuff. It’s another human holiday for getting stuff.

Snoops: It’s supposed to be romantic. A lot of people use it as a day to propose.

Kommando: Well, it can’t be too important, we didn’t know about it.

Image result for cats and valentines day

Snoops: That’s because it’s for humans.

Kommando: They love us. Why don’t we get gifts?

Snoops: We don’t like chocolate or jewelry.

Kommando: They could give us salmon.

Image result for cats with fish

Snoops: Humans don’t think salmon is romantic.

Kommando: It’s not for them, it’s for us.

Snoops: Wait a minute. This Internet thing says there are Valentine’s gifts for cats.

Kommando: Does it show a salmon?

Snoops: Forget about the salmon. Humans don’t think dead fish are romantic.

Kommando: Humans are weird. So what do they think we’d like?

Snoops: Actually, this first thing is kinda nice.

Kommando: Ooh. A fake sheep bed! I like fake sheep. It’s really warm.

Snoops: Yeah. That says “love” to me.

Kommando: Anything else good?

Snoops: Well, there’s a collar. But it has a bell on it. It would be worthless when I’m mousing.

Kommando: OK. We’ll put that in the “no” column.

Snoops: I like this next one:

Kommando: Purr-fect! A castle. Mom calls us princesses. She might get us that.

Snoops: Maybe. I think it’d really add to the decor around here.

Kommando: Is there anything there that says, “I love you” in human?

Snoops: Well, this bowl looks like something they might think is romantic:

Kommando: That’d be pawsome! Hearts for the human, food for us! I think we need to talk to Mom about this Valentine’s Day thing.

Snoops: Definitely. Anything that reminds her to feed us is good.

Kommando: Yeah. A food dish and some salmon. The perfect Valentine’s Day.

 

Image result for cats and valentines day

Gift ideas courtesy of https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/valentines-day-10-gifts-for-cats-gift-guide

Photos courtesy of Google Images

 

 

23

What Do You Get the 1% Cat for Christmas?

For those unfamiliar with the U.S. economy, 1% of the population holds an extremely disproportionate amount of the country’s wealth.

Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. We know that all any cat really wants is a loving furever home, complete with human staff. A catnip mouse or feather on a string are good gifts. Maybe one of those battery-powered toys. But some cats live in luxury, eating only the finest hand-prepared food and sleeping in customized beds. We decided it would be fun to see what types of things might be on their Christmas wish list. We are helpfully providing contact information in case you see something you like.

Modular Cat Wall (https://www.catswall.com/modular-cat-wall)

“The modular design not only extend the spaces for cats but also reduce the oppression which is caused by narrow living space.  For long-term, cats might be bored and refuse to use the bulky traditional cat trees. All the hanging accessories of Catswall modular cat wall can be mounted on (or dismounted from) the hanging tracks directly, it is easy to take down for cleaning or change position.”

Price: Starts at $1,1159

Cool Cedar Cat Cottage (http://www.catsplay.com/cat-furniture-types/cat-outdoor-houses/kool-cat-kottage-cat-house-with-porch-deck)

 

“The Cool Cedar Cat Kottage comes already insulated. Standard, at no extra charge, are 9 inch lounging ledges that wrap around two walls. The upper level has two real glass lookout windows and an escape/exit door. The many available options make it possible for the customer to customize the Kool Cat Kottage to fit the needs their cat(s) may require. We offer remote control air conditioner, one or two cat heat pads, larger multiple cat heat pads, porch and deck systems, raised foundation with 12 inch tall support legs and magnetic seal safe doors.”
Price: $1,004.99 base model; slightly over $2,000 fully loaded
Animal Print Holiday Hollow Cat Gym (http://www.catsplay.com/holiday-hollow-cat-gym-1079030396)
Animal Print Holiday Hollow Cat Gym

“The Holiday Hollow Cat Tree is a whopping 82 inches tall and is styled like a high-rise apartment building with its 3 interconnecting condos and its penthouse Condo on top. Your cats can climb between the condo levels.  Inside the Cat Tree Condo are the platforms which are designed to allow easy upward travel. Our animal print versions are made from real carpet, not faux fur!  Available in leopard or tiger!”

Price: $830.99

Buckingham Palace (https://kittymansions.com/collections/featured-products/products/buckingham-palace)

Buckingham Palace

“It’s finally here! Buckingham Palace is a place where cats can feel like part of the Royal Family. It features large bedroom areas, overhead tunnels, royal seats, large scratching posts, ramps, slides, and everything else you can think of for a fancy cat! It stands at just under 9 feet, is 80 inches wide, and 44 inches deep. It’s a massive play area for your lucky cats!”

Price: $2,200 (marked down from $2,890)

Park Place Cat Tree (https://playtimeworkshop.com/product/park-place-cat-tree/)

pp1

“The wonderful Park Place Cat Condo is simply the most accommodating piece of Cat Furniture on the market. This unit is all your “kids” could ever wish for. With 4 separate cat condos you cats will love exploring this grand cat tree. The Extra large upper beds will handle two cats at a time effortlessly. The upper and lower main condos are multiple cat accommodating. The end units which are interconnecting to the main condo are nice single guest rooms. This cat tree is super heavy with a low center of gravity which guarantees your “kids” a wobble free environment.”

Price: $599.99 (for the bargain hunter)

We also found this pawsome cat flap:

cat flap

“Forget your standard cat flap, for £1,000 you can have a Swarovski studded cat flap! Fitted with 1000 crystals, this flap made waves in 2009 when it was launched by Hertfordshire based company, Doors4Paws.” Unfortunately, the flap is no longer available. They do still make wooden flaps for us commoners. (The funny-looking “L” is British for money. It usually takes more dollars than pounds – money not weight – to buy something.)

You will note that these are off-the-shelf products. If you are looking for something truly unique, you need to contact an “artisan”. That is someone who does awesome work for a lot of money. We do not have a list of those people.

Happy shopping!

12

Critter Capers: Letters to St. Nicholas

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/c8/d6/1f/c8d61ffe41929d93319de1c78ff1bbed.jpg

 

Dear Santa Claws

Mom said that if we were good animals, that you would bring us presents on Christmas. I’m not sure when that is, but I think it’s soon. There’s a big tree in the front room and lots of bags upstairs.

But maybe not. Mom said you live where it’s cold this time of year and you don’t look cold in your picture.

Anyway, I have been a good cat. I don’t scratch on the furniture. Well only the love seat, and you can’t even tell. I give mouse presents and cuddle a lot. Even with the other cat. And I always use the litter box.

Would you please bring me

  1. A warming blanket that doesn’t have all those wires that push into my skin. I know I’m furry, but I can still feel them. I can’t cuddle with my human because he wears one of those all the time.
  2. Some smoked turkey in a bag like Mom brings home. I really like it, but they only share a little.
  3. One of those toys I can hold in my front paws and kick with my back paws. The other cat doesn’t like those, so I don’t have to fight her off.
  4. A How to Catch Mice book for the humans. No matter how many times I show them how to hunt, they still want me to make the kill. They need to learn to fend for themselves.
  5. A silencer for the other cat that I can control. She talks a LOT.
  6. A bag of the kitty kibble they buy for the spiny guy. He gets better quality food than I do.
  7. A new scratching post. The ones downstairs are used up. My human keeps saying the he will resurface it, but that never happens. If you can’t bring that, could you please bring him a video of what happens to cats if they can’t sharpen their nails correctly? Or maybe something from YouTube of a bad cat using his human as a scratching post when the post is unusable?

Thank you very much.

Super Snooper (I have enclosed a picture so you know for sure who I am. The humans NEVER take pictures of anything and it shows.)

Snoops_122014

 

Dear Santa

You sure look like a cool cat. I bet you bring all kinds of good stuff.

I have been a good kitty. I make sure my human (Mom) gets up on time for work. It’s not my fault she gets up really early some days and not so early other days. You know cats like routines. I help make sure she gets enough sleep. Twice I have told the humans when the other cat was locked in another room. Maybe it was three times. The first time they ignored my crying. I help Mom find things on this little computer thingy. And I always use the litter box.

Please bring me

  1. One of those fishing pole toys. I used to have a lot of them. The humans got mad when I chewed the strings. How else was I supposed to play with the toy after I captured it? The male humans don’t leave their fish on the hooks.
  2. A warming blanket that the other cat won’t get her smell all over. And that the humans won’t steal from me when they get cold. Something nice and furry would be good.
  3. Some of that meat the humans had the other day. I think they called it a “pot roast”. (That’s kinda weird since it didn’t come out of a pot.) I usually don’t like human food, but that was really yummy.
  4. A How to Speak Siamese for the humans. They keep saying that I talk a lot, but if they would just listen and respond I wouldn’t have to talk so much.
  5. A heater like the spiny guy has if you can’t get #2. It’s some kind of board they put next to his cage. Then they cover his cage with a blanket. He stays really warm. I think the humans could make a blanket tent for us cats (I would share) and attach the board to one of the sides.
  6. A different job for Mom so she can stay home all day and cuddle with us (I would share). Maybe one of those jobs you do at home or something that works with Dad’s schedule so we always have a human to cuddle with.
  7. A cat door to upstairs where the bedrooms are. When it’s cold, Dad keeps the door up there closed. Something about heating a barn. I don’t get it – we live in a house. Anyway, then we could get up and go to sleep up there when we want (I would share). And Mom couldn’t kick me out when I want breakfast on my normal schedule.

Your Friend

Kommando Kitty

Kommando_122014

 

Dear Mr. Claws

I hope that I am not imposing by asking for a few things for Christmas. I have worked on being a better hedgehog all year. I no longer poop on Mom. I don’t hiss at the humans or curl up into a ball every time I see them. I am trying to get my quills to stay soft enough so they don’t need the gloves. I am very appreciative of the wax worms they give me to eat. I cuddle up and sleep on both of them now.

I am requesting:

  1. One of those plastic balls so I can run around the room by myself without worrying about the furballs. Please make sure it is hedgehog-safe.
  2. Soundproofing for my cage. Dad doesn’t seem to understand that I’m nocturnal. He turns on the TV all the time. And loud (hedgehogs have very sensitive ears).
  3. If you can’t soundproof my cage, would you please send him some earphones?
  4. A larger water dish. I am a clean hog and use it for both bathing and drinking. (The bathing is mainly when I stick my snout too far into the bowl.) They don’t remember to check it every day. My home is nice and warm and the water in the air keeps my skin soft. But then I don’t have it to drink.
  5. A timer for Dad. He used to get me out every night at 10p. Now he only gets me out every other night. It would be OK but then he forgets and I don’t get to have my worm snack for several days.
  6. A barrier so the furballs can’t play right next to my cage. They growl and thump and make all kinds of noise. Not only does it wake me up, it gives me nightmares. I guess it would be daymares.
  7. Some extra worms so I can share with Mom and Dad. That way they would know why I like them so much. Maybe we could snack together every night.

Most Sincerely Yours in Gratitude

Horatio, Lord Nelson

Horatio_122014

2

You Think it’s About You?

Many of us follow the same cycle through life. High School graduation. College graduation. Marriage. Kids. Kids’ high school graduation, college graduation, marriage, kids. It seems to go on forever (particularly some parts). And there are often parties associated with each step.

Interesting thing about those parties. The person who has achieved the milestone thinks the party is about them. I have never gone to a high school graduation party and not seen the graduate disappointed by how few friends showed up.

The graduate thinks the party is to congratulate him for finishing school (and reward him with lots of money). It’s the kid’s first introduction to the idea that we’d really like to get together sometime other than funerals. As a rule, the adults see these parties as a chance to catch up with relatives, friends, neighbors. It’s the reunion they’ve been meaning to put together but never got around to.

It starts with the invitation. Oh look, we got invited to Tony’s graduation party. I can’t believe he’s old enough to be graduating already. He’s Vivian’s son, right? I love that side of the family. They’re always so much fun to be around. Remember Gloria’s wedding? I have to write this down so I don’t forget.

Moves on to the gift. How much should we give? I don’t remember what we gave Amy two years ago. I guess it doesn’t matter. Amy’s my cousin and Tony’s my cousin’s son. Or do you give the same to everyone? Honey, do you remember how much Aunt Viv gave you last year for graduation? Maybe $50? Too much? OK, $25.

Then the accessories: I have to remember to take the pictures of Sheila in Scotland. I don’t think anyone has seen them. And that picture of grandpa I found in the attic. I wonder if Sandy is going to have her genealogy charts there. I guess it’s a good idea, but I forgot to see if I could find great-uncle Earl’s birthplace.

Finally, the day of the party arrives. The graduate has been chatting with his friends. They all say they’ll make an appearance. (The appearance turns out to be 10 minutes after the party ends. Smart kids.)

The first person to arrive is an elderly woman Tony doesn’t recognize. His mother rushes out to greet her and introduces her to Tony. Mom then disappears into the kitchen to finish up the food. Tony gets her a chair and asks how she’s doing. She proceeds to give him a rundown of her health, her neighbors, the weather, and her dead husband.

Finally Tony gets away to greet some other guests. It’s his aunt, uncle, and evil cousin who once tried to drown Tony. Turns out Jack is planning to become a lawyer. The adults leave to let the “kids” remember old times. Tony begins to wonder if anyone will miss him if he goes upstairs.

Some neighbors come by and Tony relaxes with them. His mother makes him get up to greet each person as they arrive. He talks to each for a few minutes. Hello. Thank you for coming. Yes, I’m glad to be out of school. I’m going to Wilderness U to study forestry. Yes it is an unusual major. Yes, there are actually jobs in that field.  Begins to wonder why anyone has a graduation party.

There is a good turnout for the party. People are complimenting his mother on the food. Except for the woman who says that she was at a graduation party the weekend before and it was catered.

The usual compliments and stories were told by the guests.

You can also overhear: I can’t believe her mother let her come wearing that. Of course Doris was the same way at that age. Or: Can you believe Eve is still dating him? He doesn’t even have a real job. Well at least he’s better than Jerry, remember him?”

Is that really the last impression you would want to make on your friends before you all go off to college?

 

 

8

What Surprise?

My husband’s birthday is in a few weeks. It is customary in our family to ask the person what they would like. Of course, there is no guarantee the person will get it. Particularly if I have no clue what they are asking for. Thus, this year my husband has given me item name, item description, company name and stock number. If he’d just go on line and enter the credit card information, I’d be all done.

I really enjoy shopping for other people. I think it’s fun to try to find things that fit their personality but are somewhat unique. My dad was always a problem. Not because he had no interests, but because if he saw something he wanted, he’d go ahead and buy it. (We were sure Amazon had a moment of silence when he died.) So we’d get to Christmas and his birthday (two weeks apart) and there’d be nothing that he wanted.

Then he started “saving” gift ideas for me. Sometimes he went as far as to buy the stuff and give it to me to wrap. Totally unacceptable. Fortunately, he loved to read. So I’d spend a lot of time in bookstores looking for the “perfect” gift. That was more fun before the mega-stores closed down the local shops and Amazon shut down the mega-stores.

Now I buy books for my husband and son. They are both highly literate with a wide variety of interests. So it’s safest for me to buy things that I want to read in case they don’t like it. Just kidding. But it was a lot easier to go to the bookstore on Main Street (yes, we really had one before Border’s and Barnes and Noble moved in) and look through things than to go on Amazon.

Amazon reminds me of Google. If I put in the name of a book, I will get the book I want and anything else with that title. (Shouldn’t there be some rule against having two books with the same name? Maybe that doesn’t count if the author’s been dead for a couple of centuries. More ageism.) If I put in the title with the author, I will get all possible versions of that book including the ones that are out of print and they have no access to. (I guess that’s so I’ll know there’s something I might want that’s not available.)

But the results don’t end with what I’ve requested. One time I was looking for a stuffed hedgehog. After looking at some of the ugliest stuffed animals I’d ever seen, the results went to books and toys. Then to pigs. Then to other animals. I stopped looking after that and went to a store.

I used to browse at the mall. One day I realized that the odds of finding something unique at a mega-mall were not all that great. Particularly after I realized that I was seeing the same thing in a variety of materials and prices at most of the stores. Back to Main Street.

I have an aversion to giving cash (or gift cards) as you may have guessed. In the first place, I’d rather not have the recipient know what value I put on their event (wedding, graduation, etc.). Second, in a close group (e.g., family), everyone finds out and expects the same thing. What if I don’t like someone? I could get them something nice at a second mark-down. They’d never know I spent $15 on them while I spent $75 on their sister (who is not marrying the boyfriend who coincidentally just had his divorce finalized a month before the ceremony).

Gift cards are wonderful things if you know the person well enough to know where they like to shop. I have gotten several gift certificates and gift cards over the years to places I never set foot into. Coffee shops (I don’t drink coffee), Wal-Mart (I work at the competition), restaurants (nice place – do you have any idea how much it costs to actually eat there?), fast food (have barely eaten it since I got married – my husband hates it and now it makes me sick). And once again, I usually spend more than I want to because otherwise I feel cheap. I really prefer being cheap, but being stealthy about it.

Back to my husband. He’s been wanting that same stupid thing for over a year now. Wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Hope he likes the alpacas I picked out. They will keep the lawn short and he can sell the wool.

4

Honey, You Really Shouldn’t Have

For years my husband tried to convince me that Valentine’s Day was one of those Hallmark holidays that were created to sell candy and flowers. Actually, Chaucer was the first one to associate St. Valentine’s day (yes, there really is a saint behind it) with romantic love in the 14th century. Eighteenth Century England was the first place to give hearts, candy and cards. However, it seems to have taken on a life of it’s own since the mid-twentieth century.

For some reason, men seem to stress out about Valentine’s Day. Apparently there have been enough men over the years who have forgotten the day entirely or missed the  significance of it that we females have been forced to drill its importance into your heads. I mean, seriously, you have phones and computers that coordinate work, personal, and social schedules; you can operate your home security system from the office; you can pay all of your bills automatically. I find it hard to believe that you don’t understand the software that allows you to put important dates into your calendar program and give you a week’s warning.

Yes, you answer, but then we don’t know what to buy. So we put it off. Lucky for you, Valentine’s Day is not like Christmas. The stores don’t close early and they aren’t all jammed at the end of the day. There aren’t any “hot” toys to stand in line for.

One of the best gifts my husband gave me was the handmade card that he decorated with pictures of animals I liked and sweet sayings. I think I speak for most women when I say that what you buy isn’t as important as whether or not you have thought enough about it to buy something you know she will like.

For example, when I was in college a boyfriend sent a singing valentine to where I worked. I was 20 or 21, got embarrassed, but still thought it was sweet. If my husband did that this year, I’d want to kill him. It is not a good gift for an introvert or someone who works in a stuffy office.

If your love hates crowds, don’t plan to take her to the most popular spot in town. It will be a zoo, and she probably won’t enjoy herself as much as she would at a quieter spot. On the other hand, it might be the perfect gift for a more outgoing date. It also depends on whether you actually want to talk to her while you’re eating.

If she has been working really, really hard since the beginning of the year to lose weight or practice healthier eating, this is not the year for the pound of really expensive chocolates. More likely than not, she will wonder whether you’ve been paying any attention at all to the work she’s been doing. “I thought you deserved a treat” might work for dessert, but not for a box of candy that’s constantly calling her name. (My mother used to tell my dad to hide any candy he brought in the house while she was dieting – then complain that he wasn’t sharing.)

If you want to share a nice bottle of wine, make sure you know what type she likes. Dry red wines are very sophisticated, but they also are an acquired taste for a lot of people. Champagne gives some people a headache. Or your partner might be like the young woman I was helping at the store. She asked me to help her select a wine. I asked her what she was looking for, and she said she wanted something that tasted good and would make her drunk. She ended up with a passion-fruit blend of some sort.

Flowers are nice. Unless she’s allergic. Or prefers live plants. Jewelry works. Unless she doesn’t really wear it. Perfume is a good gift. If you know what she wears.

One final bit of advice. The gift is for her, not for you. Unless she has specifically asked for it at some point, do not buy something see-through with feathers or lace. Corsets, garters, and teddies all fall into this same classification. If she wants to look sexy for you, I’m sure she is capable of it by herself. And the odds are she has better taste and knows what looks good on her.

Happy hunting. And if you do put it off until Friday – do not send your assistant to pick out a gift.

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