Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Trip to Norway - prelude

One of the first considerations for us in planning the trip to Norway was: Who will take care of the animals and the plants while we're away?

Loco is easy, he can go to stay with Miguel's daughter - she likes to have him, and he likes to go because he gets fed lots of ham and other goodies he doesn't get at home.

Negra is pretty easy too - someone just needs to feed her twice a day and let her out morning, afternoon, and night, and she's set.

Although the cats can be left with dried food and water, there are other things that require attention.

Luna is an outdoor/indoor cat, and although house-broken, she refuses to use the litter box, so she needs to be let in and out a couple of times a day. We prefer to have her in at night because other stray cats come around and it upsets her and sometimes there's a fight. We do not want Luna to turn into a fighter, and she really prefers peace. So we bring her in.

Minina and Maya both use the tiny litter box we have inside if they have to, but we prefer to have them use the larger one outside. Both cats spend a lot of time on the back terrace, where they can't get into too much trouble. There is a chance a stray cat will come along the top of the terrace wall and be aggressive, so I do not leave the cats out there for long periods of time if we are not home. And they come in at night.

We also feed several stray cats. Wild cats that live in the plants but come around for food and water. We feed them across the street so they are not encroaching on Luna's territory, although they do encroach anyway to steal Negra's food and to sleep in the burrow they've created along the garden wall. But we feed them across the street.

We could have someone come to water all the plants, but it has to be someone we feel comfortable giving the house key to, as upper terrace access is only through the house.

All in all, it's just easier to have someone stay at the house. So the email went out to friends and family, people who have stayed here before, who know and love the animals, and who can deal with the flaky details of the house and routines of the pets.

This time around, the call was answered by Charlotte and Jim. Charlotte, a friend since the year 2000, has stayed here a few times since I first bought the house 7 years ago. Charlotte even stayed here alone before there were other inhabitants on the block, long before I had the nerve to do so. But for this trip she would have Jim with her, and it would be his first exposure to life in the colonias.

Before we left, we walked Charlotte and Jim through the house and pointed out some of the things they'd need to be aware of...

- The switch to the water pump, and the handles to switch the water from tank water to street water, and how to switch the pump based on which water supply was being used.

- The switches to the hot water tank and the air conditioners.

- The switches to outdoor lighting.

- Doors to keep closed to control cat access.

- The personal routine of each of the cats, and Negra.

- The watering schedule of the plants.

- Emergency phone numbers.

- What was in the fridge/pantry.

- How to turn on the jacuzzi, and how to change the water in the pool should it need it.

- Where to find extra bedding, towels, bathroom supplies, etc.

- How to use the washing machine and ensure the drain doesn't overflow.

What I neglected to show them was: how to operate the gas stove, and how to start the golf cart. Of course, starting the golf cart is never a sure thing anyway, it's more a game of chance. Our house-sitters didn't have any luck starting the cart, and Limey decided to get a flat tire anyway.

The morning we left on our trip we all shared a good breakfast of leftovers from the fridge: chilaquilles, sausage, bacon, potatoes. Miguel took Loco off to his daughter's, we said goodbye to the rest of the pets, and off we went down the road to catch a cab to the ferry. I suspect that Charlotte and Jim breathed a sigh of relief that we were finally gone and they could start enjoying their vacation.

Thank you, Charlotte and Jim, for enabling us to take this trip and for taking such great care of everything near and dear to us at the house - the animals and the plants. We are so grateful!


Ann said...

It's always comforting to find a good person to take care of your home & pets--it takes alot off your mind to know they are getting the right attention.

Vee said...

Jamqueen, that's so true. A good friend of mine often housesits for us when we can't take the dogs with us. This year, she's even going to paint the front porch while we're in Mexico!

Anonymous said...

well, i just spit in the palm of my hand, rubbed them both together, and am anxiously awaiting the Norway trip reports:-)) Thats where my biological mother is from. yes Sue, i will wait patiently:-))

Life's a Beach! said...

It's so hard to leave home when you have pets and plants! I may have to consider the house sitter option next time we take off. Charlotte's a wonderful lady!

Bennie said...

I always have someone come stay with my dog and cat when Stefan and I both take off. I refuse to board them so there are generally lucky souls that get to come stay at the beach in SC.

I feel so much better knowing someone is here to take care of them in their own home.

I have yet to find one like Vee has that will paint my porch when I'm gone. What a deal!

blancochar said...

Thanks, Sue and Miguel. Jim and I felt like we were playing house in paradise. We loved Negra and all the kitties, and it was pure joy to tend Mighel's flourishing gardens. I might add, for your other readers, that since we are now both retired, we're available for house or pet sitting in other exotic settings....though with 3 grandbabies due to arrive between June and August, our travels will probably be limited largely to Dallas for babysitting.... But keep us in mind next time you plan a trip!