Sunday, April 22, 2007

Kitty staff

We read recently that cats don’t have owners, they have staff. We travel with two aging cats—ages 13 and 14—and decided that was an apt description of the situation. They are each on separate prescription cat foods, but want to eat the food prescribed for the other cat. Therefore, we don’t leave their food out and the staff must respond to the meows by putting out first one bowl of food, then another.

About 3 or 4 am, either PC or Partner decides it is time for breakfast. They act on that by climbing on John in bed or meowing. If I am aware of their actions, I put them both out of the bedroom and close the door. Then, sometime about 5:30 am, if no one is up, PC begins meowing. John doesn’t hear it, but I nudge him and say “your furry friends are asking for service.”

Partner really enjoys the outdoors and doesn’t hesitate to meow and tell us he wants out. If the weather is decent and we aren’t about to leave, one of his staff puts on his halter and attaches a leash and walks around with him.

We’ve found it is easier to cope with the meow demands when we realize we are staff, not owners.

Getting settled in Arkansas

Our campsite at Gulpha Gorge Campground in Hot Springs National Park is great—large, lovely green lawn, open space for over 100 feet to the small cabin where the Artist in Residence stays and another 150 or so feet to the next volunteer RV space. We have full hook-ups, birds singing in the morning. The dogwoods were beautiful when we arrived. Within one minute we have Hot Springs Mountain to hike—we’ve already been on two great hikes there. And the campground is large enough that we only need to make 4½ laps to run our three miles.

Our first week in the state was spent at Corps of Engineer Parks--$9.50 and $7 per night with our Golden Age Pass. Our son Eric and his children—Kylie, age 7 and John, age 21 months--drove out for his spring vacation and we toured the area, staying at Brady Mountain Corps park on Ouachita Lake. Despite some rain and a stomach flu that made the rounds of our family, we had fun: touring Hot Springs National Park, fishing, horseback riding, campfires and hikes.

We will be volunteering at Hot Springs National Park for April and May. They give us a full-hookup site, we work three days a week in the Visitor Center. One of us will staff the bookstore each shift, the other will be on the Visitor Information Desk. It is such an interesting place. The park protects 47 hot springs and provides the water free to the people of the United States to drink and bathe in. Established in 1832 as a reservation to protect the springs, it is celebrating its 175th anniversary this month. Once, a million baths a year were given in water from the springs. Now the number is only 100,000. The park is amazing to most visitors who don’t understand what it is all about. It also includes several mountains surrounding the springs where you instantly feel you have left the metropolitan area of 70,000+ and can hike in relative isolation.

This week most of the US has seen record low temperatures. Here a record low of 28 for April 8 was set and the daytime temperatures are 20 degrees below normal. Thankfully, we still have most of our winter clothes. One night this week we had thunderstorms and wind, ending the beautiful dogwood displays. But wildflowers are beginning to bloom in the woods and along the roadways. It is beautiful.