Snowbirding, My iPhone 5, and the Coming Crazy Cat Trip


As described before in this blog [see Related Posts below in “Doug Update: Health, Acting, Book Readings, and Snowbirding”], I’ve decided to snowbird in Wilton Manors, Florida (outside Ft. Lauderdale) for the first three months of 2013, my first experiment with a winter migration.  Any such move, of course, is filled with planning and headaches, but new adventures await, as well as old friends, sunny climate, and—by golly I’m hoping—a chance at meeting Mr. Right (see same post for more on that fantasy).  There’s much spinning around in my head each night as it hits the pillow.

I’ve just finished seven months of book readings for my atheist thriller “Imaginary Friend,” and am about to do a radio show this coming Sunday [9 a.m. CST, 950AM KTNF in Eden Prairie Minnesota] in which I will read selections from my novel and talk about when it’s appropriate to “come out” as an atheist.  The book sales have been going well (particularly on Kindle), and I’ll have more about that on my next post.  But I’ve contacted Floridian atheist groups, so perhaps these book readings (and sales too of course) will continue in southern Florida.
The move requires me to buy a number of things I’ll need for that three months, particularly a TV, a laptop, and a new cell phone (along with a whole household of goods: sheets, pillows, clothing, dishes, etc). 

The cell phone is the biggest issue for me since I have a long history of hating the evil devices and swearing that I would not get caught up in the current fashion of carrying one at all times, allowing it to rudely interrupt everything and everyone, texting, taking over my life.  I do currently own a tiny fliptop from Virgin which carries no monthly fee, is topped-up from time to time, and which I keep in the car for emergencies.  It astounds me when someone mistakenly calls me on it, because I don’t check it regularly and the annoying beep that occurs when I’m driving causes a deep frown to crease my normally cheery face.

But (deep sigh) yesterday I purchased an iPhone 5, put all my contacts on it, and even learned how to text.  I worry this “smartphone” will “dumbdoug” me as it has zillions of others, and I will become its helpless slave, babbling into it constantly, ignoring real life around me.  It’s not a happy prospect for a control freak, and I’m stealing myself to try and maintain a non-robotic status.  Pray for me.

The bigger difficulty is getting my cats, Mama and Barney, to Florida.  My original plan was to drive to Florida, leaving them temporarily behind until I had things set up for them in the Sunshine State, and then having friends put them on a direct flight to Miami.  But that plan changed when I took Mama to the vet for her yearly rabies shot in early November.  Normally Mama is in charge (or thinks she is), but I was surprised to discover that at the vet’s she was trembling, and clinging close to me—not at all the usual lioness that roams our home, commanding all she comes across.  I asked the vet about my plan to drug the cats at the last moment and then fly them down, and he said that was a bad idea (though often done in the past).  Last minute drugging is bad for cats, and can have major health consequences, not to mention the terror of the experience, drugged or not.  Hmm.  Barney, my other cat, has a heart murmur.  Instead the vet suggested a slow drugging process that means giving the cats an oral spray every day for eight weeks before departing, slowly calming them way down, then weaning them off of it once at the destination.  The problem with that is I will only be in Florida for three months, so the poor cats would first be slowly drugged, then weaned, then re-drugged, the re-weaned, all in a very short period, not at all a happy plan.  What to do?

I decided to take the cats with me in the car.  Let me repeat: I am driving major distances with two cats who have never taken a car trip before.  Yikes!

I said to myself that it would be cruel to put them in individual cat carriers for the duration of the trip, so now what?  I called up my handyman friend, a professional named Allan Holmes, and between us we’ve devised a cat cage, complete with litter box, that will take up a goodly portion of the back seat of my Prius.  Barbara Shipek [“The Woman Who Runs My Life”] arranged for me to find hotels that will take cats in the rooms in my two stop-over cities, and I’ve purchased disposable litter boxes for the trip.  What could go wrong?  Just to ask the question is to laugh uneasily.

If I were in my twenties I could do the drive in two days (as I actually did in my twenties, see “Buying Moonshine in the Wilds of Tennessee”), but at my advanced age it will take three days: Columbus to Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlotte to Jacksonville, Florida, and from there to Ft. Lauderdale.  The longest leg is the first one, and it takes me right through the State of West Virginia, which is beautiful but mountainous in the extreme.  The rumor is that West Virginia is the biggest state in the Union if you stomp it out flat.

And when am I making this trip through the West Virginia mountains?  In balmy summer? Oh, no!  I am doing the first week of January!  JANUARY!  Picture the happy scene: Doug, two cats, a Prius crammed with belongings, and the third book of “Game of Thrones” as an audiobook to keep my mind occupied if it wanders from the cats puking in the backseat or the car skidding near a precipice.
Stay tuned.
Related Posts:
“Dog Meat,” December 27, 2009
"Parakeets and Me," February 5, 2010
“Bears,” February 23, 2010
The Woman Who Runs My Life,” May 5, 2010
"Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad," May 19, 2010
Buying Moonshine in the Wilds of Tennessee,” July 23, 2010
"Teaching English to Cats," August 6, 2010
"The Purring Heart," November 23, 2010
"The Dogs In My Life," April 18, 2011
"My Parents and Dummy," May 13, 2011
"Two Cat Stories: Mama and Barney in the Wild," July 9, 2011
"Zoo Stories," August 30, 2011
“Mama Cat Saves My Life,” October 23, 2011
"Stepping on Cats," February 8, 2012
“Long Lost Cousin at Flamingo Crossing,” March 31, 2012
Doug Update: Health, Acting, Book Readings, and Snowbirding,” September 9, 2012
"Barney Cat and the Big Mammal Nightmare," January 7, 2013


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