Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Kittens are Home!

Yeah, you read that right.  I brought home two kittens, not one.  First I found out that I was the only confirmed person taking kittens out of the litter of five.  Then my friend Paul heckled me about being careful or I'll bring two of them home.  After some thought, I did an internet search of two kittens vs 1 kitten, and overwhelmingly the answer was always get two kittens if you can, because they will keep each other more entertained and happy, and therefore will be better behaved - less likely to tear the furniture up from boredom or meow all the time when you're not home and annoy your neighbors, etc.  So I decided to go for it!  And the vet agreed when I took them to the vet yesterday, saying that she always recommends two kittens (though only one dog at a time).

Here they are!  Gnome (pronounced "genome") is a girl, and she's a tabby with orange markings (her nose is orange!).  Kobold is our little elfin black cat - his face is too narrow for his ears, so he looks kind of fey.  They were really calm in the car ride!  We had a 2.5 hour ride home from Ionia, where we picked them up, and they spent a lot of it sleeping and were really quiet.

Gnome spent most of the ride (when she wasn't zonked out) with her nose up against the window.  I had picked her up a couple times to see outside, and then she kept rearing up to look out the window herself.  After some exploring, she found the triangle window up at the back of the car and laid there for the rest of the trip right behind my shoulder.

Kobold didn't care about the window.  He just curled up on the seat and stayed there.

Here are the wee ones curled up on the papasan!  I interrupted their nap taking a photo, oops.  They went right back to sleep, though.  So, we didn't get home until 11 pm the night I got them, and then they thought it was highly exciting exploring the entire house.  I didn't get to bed until after midnight sometime, and then they decided that 1:45 am was the perfect time to start jumping around and attacking my feet.  After putting them off the bed twice and having them jump right back up and attack me again, they got put into the living room for the night.  It's really nice having two of them - I don't have to worry about them being lonely if I kick them out of bed, as they have each other.  And boy, are they adorable, watching them run around and pounce on one another.

And then we went to the vet yesterday afternoon!  They weren't happy about the shots, but they got two little toys and had a great time batting them around the room for 20 minutes as we waited on test results.  They don't have leukemia, which is awesome, though they do have fleas.  The anti-flea medicine should kill them shortly, though.

Thankfully, they slept much better last night.  They were quiet from 10 pm until 7 am!  I accidentally rolled over onto them with my shoulder once, oops.

This morning as I was eating breakfast I looked over and they were on the cat tower!  I think I gasped, because DeForest looked up at me and I just pointed.  Yay!

Gnome managed to leap up onto the box level!  Then she wasn't sure how to get down for quite a while, haha.  She turned in circles for a while, chasing her tail, in between trying to figure out how to get down.

Kobold tried to join her and failed!  I'm so glad I was holding my camera at the time, because he hung there for a few seconds and it was really funny.

Swatting at each other from different levels...

They are so cute.  They haven't quite figured out how to get between all the levels - mostly, they appear to climb the outside of the tower to the top part and kind of dart in and out that top level, along with spending some time going in and out of the very bottom level.  They'll figure out they can fit up the ramp soon enough, I'm sure.  Yay, kittens!
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Monday, June 11, 2012

Blacksmithing at Tyger Hunt

Aw, look at me so happy.  I like this picture a lot.  I usually wear knee-high leather lace-up boots, but they are at the cobbler's this week getting re-soled.

I did blacksmithing this past weekend for the first time!!!  My life is so awesome.  For those who don't know, I'm a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (, which is an amazing medieval recreation group.  It's an international organization filled with people who like learning about old things, including medieval crafts like blacksmithing.  The world is broken up into kingdoms (yes, with royalty that change every 6 months - you win the crown by winning tournaments of heavy armored fighting or fencing). 

This past weekend I was at one of our events called Tyger Hunt.  The name comes from the fact that our neighboring kingdom, the Kingdom of the East (which is the upper east coast of the USA), has the Tyger as its symbol.  The Middle Kingdom, where I live and encompassing Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and a bit of Canada, has a dragon as our symbol (our war cry is Draco Invictus - dragon unconquered).  So, inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom "hunt the Tyger," as it is our "enemy" in our biggest event of the year, the great Pennsic War in August (imagine almost 12,000 people camping in medieval gear for two weeks, taking and teaching hundreds of classes and having giant melee battles with hundreds of fighters [heavy armored fighting, fencing, and archery] on the field battling for war points).  Well, usually they are our enemy - this year we're fighting with them on our side against everyone else that shows up for a change.

Anyway, you should check out your local chapter if you're interested in learning medieval stuff from really cool people!  You get to do and see so many fantastic things, and for next to no money, as everyone in the society is there, volunteering their time to teach others.  How much did it cost me to do blacksmithing?  Well, some gas money to drive to the event, and the site fee was $10.  Of course, that $10 covered the entire day - I fenced in tournaments for several hours in the morning, then shot some archery at the archery range, and then did blacksmithing.  The lunch tavern had a very filling meal for $5.  There was also spinning, weaving, and woodworking you could learn from craftspeople.  I was taught the blacksmithing for free, and the materials were free as they were provided by the site.  So it arguably cost me a couple dollars to learn some blacksmithing and then take home my creation.  

You really should check out the SCA if you're fascinated by it!  You can start by going to local group weekly meetings, like craft night or fencing practice, where you don't need to wear garb (the medieval clothes) and can meet people in a fun, unstructured environment (and these meetings are usually free).  Your local group should also have a Chatelaine, who is responsible for introducing new people to the group, and a Gold Key, which has loaner garb for people who don't have their own.

Okay, I can be done trying to sell you on the SCA for now. Click on the jump to see more sweet pictures of me blacksmithing and see what I made!
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cat Tower Part 4

Heya, internet!  This is the last big post about the cat tower.  There will probably be a little update later when I add in toys and a hammock, but that will just be a couple photos.  This post finishes up the major construction of the cat tower - adding all the carpet.

To see what these carpet remnants did to the tower, click on the jump!

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cat Tower Part 3

This post covers the rest of the woodworking for the cat tower.  Woo!

This is the bed post I found in a scrap wood pile.  It might have cost me $0.50 or something - I forget (and didn't add that into the final budget... oops).  Click on the jump to see more pics of how it's incorporated into the tower!

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cat Tower Part 2

This post is going to show the beginning of transforming the cat tower.  To see the overview of the project, check out part 1!  I will be showing the pictures on getting the bottom of the cat tower remade in this post today.

This is how the tower started (mentally add the knobs back in - I had removed some before I took the picture).  You can see it with most of the drawers taken out (bottom drawer left in).  Also, look at the side - a lot of the seams were coming apart - it was a pretty rickety old dresser.  But hey - it was $10 and about the size I wanted.

If you're wondering why I used a dresser, or how I came up with the idea - it just popped into my head as I was wandering around the ReUse Center, trying to find something that I could turn into a cat tower.  I wanted something cheap enough to make it worthwhile, and also sturdy enough that I could reasonably make it so that it wouldn't rock from the cat climbing on it.  After rejecting a lot of the other pieces of furniture in the Center, it occured to me that I could take the drawers out a dresser and use them to make ramps and things.  And so the project began!

There are a LOT of pictures in this post, so I'm putting them after a jump.  Just click on the jump and see the rest!
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Friday, June 1, 2012

Cat Tower!!!!!!1! Part 1

Whew!  The cat tower is DONE!  Well, all the wood and carpeting work is done, and I have the eyebolts in where I plan to hang the cat hammock and the toys.  Tonight I'm just posting the beginning and end photos, along with a summary of the process (cost, tools, etc).  I'll be making several posts about how I transformed it in the very near future, as I have 93 photos that I took while making it.  :)

The Beginning: An Ugly Old Dresser

The dresser did actually have all the knobs on it - this was after I took a few of them off (I forgot to take a picture at the very beginning).

The End: An Awesome Cat Tower!!!

It took me most of May, but I made it!

Cost: $57.73
Dresser (ReUse Center): $10
Sisal Rope (Lowe’s): $20.61*2/3 = $13.74 (I only used two of three rolls)
Carpet Remnants (Habitat ReStore): $12.46
Staple gun staples (Ace Hardware): $4.20
Wood glue: $6.34
Tacks: $1.03
Eyeboltss: $3.06
Screws: $1.90
New staplegun and staples: ~$5 for staples, plus ~$15 for the gun (gun not counted in price, as that's a reusable tool)

Also, I used quite a few nails and wood scraps that I had around the house already.  Oh, and a couple leather scraps (but I own lots of leather scraps).  And 8 L-brackets we had in our random nails and brackets box - those were very useful, too.

Tools Used:  Staplegun, jigsaw, circle saw, power drill, screwdriver, 6 clamps, two 8-lb weights, hammer, needlenose pliers, scissors, carpet knife, permanent marker, pencils, rulers (cloth sewing ruler, measuring tape, and at least two sizes of clear hard plastic square sewing rulers)...  I think that's everything.

Hours:  A lot.  Carpeting the thing alone was three sessions that were probably at least 3-4 hours long... I would say 25 hours would not be overestimating the time I put into this thing, and it could have been a whole lot more.  And if you count the waiting hours, it is much longer, as often I would glue something in place and then have to wait overnight before doing the next step.

Would I do it again?  Hmm... I'm not sure.  If the cat loves it, it definitely a lot cheaper than most cat towers out there for its complexity.  I sure hope the cat loves this thing.  But it did take a lot of time, and a lot of loud noise with power tools and hammering, and it made a huge mess every time I worked on it (I swept up a good pile of sawdust or carpet shavings after every session).  I'm glad I made it, definitely, but I'm not sure how soon I'd make it again.  Or maybe I'd make it a little differently next time.  It was a fun adventure, certainly, and one that I'm happy is (mostly) wrapped up!  I'm excited to share the photos of how this thing got transformed.

Here are links to all the parts of this project:
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