He now has eight lives…

It’s been a week out since the ‘incident’, and I’ve recovered enough to post about it.  We’ve lived in this house for six years, and of the multiple cats who have shared our lives during that time this has NEVER been a problem…until now.  A view of our upstairs balcony:

Yes, this was from Christmas a few years back, but you can see the basic construction.  From the top of the balcony railing to the hardwood floor below is approximately 14 to 15 feet.

The newest members of our family are two Turkish Angora cats, which we adopted from a rescue shelter as kittens.  They are now approximately 14 months old…old enough to know better, you’d think.  Blake and Angie are brother and sister, she’s always been the protective one of her little brother, as well as the more adventurous one…until last Friday night.  Blake is my cooking buddy, my snuggle buddy, Daddy’s little man.  Turkish Angoras are very human or canine-like, and very much like to be in the midst of any and all activity.  He sleeps with us most nights in our bed, and Friday night was going to be no exception.  I headed upstairs, called Blake and he came running.  I was getting some medicine for hubby’s allergy symptoms when Blake decided to jump onto the balcony railing, lost his footing, and fell to the hardwood floor below.  He didn’t land on his feet.  Angie and I both raced down the stairs to find Blake below, dazed and obviously hurt.  I thought he was going to die in my arms.  Every shallow breath he took there was a horrible clicking sound, and he just kind of collapsed in my arms.

I screamed for Bill, and within minutes he got his shoes on, the munchkin got the carrier, and Blake was on his way to the vet emergency room.  Almost four hours later hubby walked back through the door, and most importantly with Blake moving in his carrier.  After tests and x-rays he was diagnosed with a pulmonary contusion on his right side, but luckily no broken bones.  They gave him medications to improve his lung function and sent him home with a few days’ worth of pain medications along with strict instructions of five days’ worth of bed rest, restricting him to the carrier if necessary to keep him quiet.  I broke down crying when we took him into the office and let him out of the carrier, and I was able to hug and kiss him before he went straight for the cat bed.  You don’t realize how much you love the little fur babies until something like this happens.

Restricting him to the carrier wasn’t a problem–he did this voluntarily.

While he was recuperating, I was fretting about what to do about the balcony…how was I going to block/restrict the tree dwellers?  I did multiple searches on the internet, but ultimately the best advice came from one of Jackson Galaxy’s episodes of My Cat From Hell.  To prevent a cat from jumping over a fence, or balcony, install fencing angling in at a 45 degree angle.  The cats won’t climb/jump over it.  Okay, but how the heck do you do that with an indoor balcony?  Hubby and I are brainstorming, considering base brackets, angle brackets, different types of material to create the 45 degree angle, etc.  Most things we were coming up with cost a lot of money, but when it comes to keeping our furry munchkins safe, we’re willing to do what we needed to do.  Emergency vet visits cost in excess of $300…we were considering it an investment for the future, not only monetary-wise, but health-wise.

I went to Lowes, multiple web sites, etc, but hadn’t found something that would work perfectly.  Blake was still content in his carrier the third night, though we still hadn’t found a solution…until I went to bed.  That night I had a dream; rarely do my hair-brained dreams result in a solution, but the following morning I woke up and immediately thought ‘that might work’.

Making a quick trip to Lowes, I spent approximately $20, about one tenth of the amount we had been considering, and voila!

Some polyresin hardware cloth, a few gate hooks and eyes, as well as zip ties and twine created the safety zone you see above.  It’s not the most attractive option, but it’ll keep our tree dwellers from flying off the second floor balcony to the hardwood below.

Blake is now off the pain meds and is back to sleeping in our bed.  He’s still moving a little slow, but is showing more and more signs of his playful self.  Angie has been keeping a close eye on him and has been ecstatic to see him getting frisky again.  They love chasing each other up and down the stairs, through the bedrooms, down the halls and around the landings.  He’s back to running a couple times a day…soon he’ll be back to full throttle again.

Finally someone who ‘gets it’

Below is a review by Sherri Wiebush for Fifty Shades of Grey, someone who read the books and saw the movie.  I haven’t seen the movie, probably won’t until it’s available for free on Netflix or Amazon.  I read the books.  Yes, they needed to go through two more rounds of editing, a couple rounds of spit and polish, and for the love of God, someone buy the woman a thesaurus!  But, since I’m used to being a beta reader and wading through the rough stuff to find the story, I could appreciate the story that was there.  I wasn’t distracted by the supposed BDSM (I wouldn’t call it a true representation in any sense but just shadings of such), and I was able to tune out the needed-to-be-edited form to get to the gist of the story.  Here’s the review, and then I’ll post a few thoughts afterwards:


Guest review by Sherri Wiebush
There’s been plenty of coverage of the “Fifty Shades” series by British author E.L. James, with a number of reviewers dismissing it as “mommy porn.” There must be something to the claim, as it is very popular with women. As is most often the case, such excitement catches the notice of Hollywood, who has started putting out the filmed versions of the novel.

As the film opens, we meet naïve, young English major Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), who is the product of a hopelessly romantic mother and multiple father figures. After her roommate (Eloise Mumford) falls ill and is unable to interview the enigmatic Christian Gray (Jamie Dornan), a successful billionaire, Ana takes her place.

Christian becomes interested in Ana, and soon follows her to the hardware store where she works. Hearing that she is about to graduate, he sends her first edition copies of “Tess of the D’Urbervilles.” At a graduation party, Ana impulsively calls him before passing out, and is surprised to find herself waking up in his hotel room, but relieved that he didn’t take advantage of her.

Ana seems to be intrigued by Christian’s desires and wants to know more. They begin to date. After having her sign a non-disclosure agreement, Christian admits that he only enters relationships involving bondage, which is her first hint of the world that he inhabits. Ana tries to understand why while submitting to his requests, which grow darker as the relationship progresses.

Ultimately, I give this movie thumbs up. It really made you feel each of their deep emotions and how they felt, feeling sorry for each at different times. As the story continues, you realize that they both attempt to please each other. I loved the choice of actors for the characters of Christian Gray and Anastasia Steele and felt they had chemistry.

I would weigh the film a lot more on the romantic side and not as heavily on the pornographic side, despite the media reports. Maybe there’s a bit too much sex for some people, but it comes nowhere near porn for others. This movie more than met my expectations, even after reading the book. I think even the darkest scenes were tasteful and the set was very stylish. I am looking forward to “Fifty Shades Darker.”

I think the above review is spot on as far as the storyline goes.  Like I said, I haven’t seen the movie and wouldn’t try to critique it because, well, I haven’t seen it.  The same thing would go for a book I hadn’t read, I wouldn’t give an opinion on it or critique it since I hadn’t read it.  I’m not going to go on hearsay to form an opinion.  The whole phenomenon around Fifty Shades of Grey was a curious perfect storm.  You have a woman writing fan fiction for her own amusement/entertainment.  Her friends love it.  She posts it for people to read.  Other people love it/are intrigued by it/are shocked by it/______, take your pick.  She morphs the story from fan fiction into something that stands on its own, self-published it as an ebook and print-on-demand, before the publishing rights were acquired by Vintage Books.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Did she expect it to become popular?  No.  She was writing basically for herself, not as a means to earn money, etc, hence the fan fiction start.  Is it her fault people liked it?  No.  She put it out there–if there wasn’t a large segment of people who liked it, the books wouldn’t have sold over 100 million copies worldwide and been translated into 52 languages, as well as set a record in the United Kingdom as the fastest-selling paperback of all time.  The movie so far has earned $568.8 million worldwide.  Is it because it’s an intellectually fascinating Academy Award winning film?  No, not at all, but it intrigued people enough to part with their money.

I find the criticism kind of funny.  There are ones who trudged through all three books and offered their opinions.  There are ones who read some of the books and offered their opinions.  There are ones who never touched the books yet critiqued them anyway.  The writing could have been much better, very true–editing would have taken care of a lot of that if it had been done properly.  Some of her phrasing really needed working on, but what is truly hilarious are some of the quotes being posted from the book…well, alleged quotes.  I’ve found several on the internet purporting to be quotes from the books, but they’re not.  The alleged quotes are so absurd and over-the-top it makes the actual book look like Shakespearean literature.  Some are offended by the BDSM, saying it’s pornographic, while others are offended by the BDSM because it isn’t BDSM.  Others say it’s torture.  Very few of the opinions/critiques focus on the actual storyline, the true foundation of the books, not all the shiny stuff that gets some people distracted.  There is a good story there in addition to a romance, but you have to be of hardy stock to get through to the end of the series.

Hey, if you liked the books, good for you.  If you didn’t like them, good for you.  To each his own, no big deal.  I’m sure the author doesn’t care about the opinions one way or another.  She wrote it for herself, not trying to please the masses.  In return for her efforts, in 2013 alone she made $95 million dollars.

My opinion is what I stated above–the books could have been polished/edited better, the story fine-tuned, but at the base of it I enjoyed the storyline as well as the romance.  I think, if anything, E.L. James serves as an inspiration.  She shows you can start out writing fan fiction, put a story together, self-publish, and if it appeals to the public in general you might end up financially secure for a lifetime.  But first and foremost when writing fiction, you should write for yourself, for the enjoyment, not in pursuit of the almighty dollar–the perk of financial success should be the icing on the cake.