Homecoming!


We’ve been busy in the last few months preparing to expand Our Furever Family. I’m happy to announce two weeks ago we welcomed three chicks! Here’s a blog post about our latest adventure. Join us as the babies grow into chickens. Eggs are just around the corner!

Chicken Scratch Fever

One of our chicks checks out the house, while Cora checks out the chick ... from a safe distance. One of our chicks checks out the house, while Cora checks out the chick … from a safe distance.

The babies are home!

Jilli, just before picking up the chicks. Jilli, just before picking up the chicks.

After spending the weekend in Cleveland (most of it holed up in a hotel room because poor Matt is awfully sick) we got up early this morning to pick up the chicks. While we were finishing breakfast at the hotel, I received a cheerful call that the chicks were ready and waiting for us.

We drove an hour away to Polk, Ohio, where Meyer Hatchery is located. When we walked into the shop, a sound wall of peeps greeted us.

We got three chicks: a Black French Copper Marans, a Dominique and an Olive Egger. I think I’ve figured out the Olive Egger, but the others look too similar to figure them out right now. When we lifted the lid…

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The biggest cat tree in the world!!!


Frolicking feline.

Frolicking feline.

Tonight we decided to surprise Cat Cora with what appears to be the largest cat tree on Earth!

At 6 feet tall, and with three perches, it towers in the front room. Matt sprinkled some catnip on each landing, and moments later Cora appeared. He placed her on top, and she rollicked in her newfound carpeted getaway.

Cat tree: For The Win!

(Found at Costco for $67.)

How do I get to the top?

How do I get to the top?

Hey, I could get used to this!

Hey, I could get used to this!

I really like my new tree, but please let me keep my cardboard scratch box. This thing rocks!!!

I really like my new tree, but please let me keep my cardboard scratch box. This thing rocks!!!

We’re going to have chickens!!!


After a week of clucking about it, Matt and I have decided to raise chickens. This is our new blog about our journey to endless eggs. Cheers! — Jillian

Chicken Scratch Fever

When I was a cub reporter in Cheboygan, I had a neighbor who kept a dozen hens. Every day I would  walk over and watch as Weyona sang Methodist hymns. Then, one by one, the hens came running. The songs seemed to make the chickens happy, and they laid countless eggs in return.

A couple years ago, I thought about having chickens of my own. In my yard. In a relatively urban setting.

I didn’t tell anyone. Especially my boyfriend Matt. Still, I harbored fantasies of converting my sizable city lot into a mini farm.

When I looked into it, the ordinance in Ferndale was restrictive, so much so that just a handful of city residents would qualify to raise hens.

I thought this was the end of the road. I kept quiet about it.

Until a couple weeks ago, when Matt and I visited a friend with a farm…

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The mysterious pooper


The scene of the crime.

The scene of the crime.

The first time it happened, I almost didn’t notice.

I had come into the bathroom to gather towels, and was leaving when something caught my eye.

It couldn’t be. Was that a cat poop in the bathtub?

I ran out into the front room, searching for Cora. I was ready for an interrogation. She looked up at me from her interrupted nap, and meowed.

“Well???” I demanded. “Is it yours?”

My pup Charlie dug his nose under a pillow and tried not to move.

Cora lifted a leg and began preening herself.

My line of questioning was going nowhere.

So I pulled out my computer and promptly Googled “cat poops in bathtub.”

I was somewhat relieved to see I was not the first cat owner to experience a cat refusing to go in the kitty loo.

I found many theories, ranging from a dirty litter box to a urinary tract infection. One person even suggested that cats sometimes like to crap in the tub because it’s considered one of the cleanest places in a house. Seriously.

After more reading, I decided to add a second litter box in the library and see what happens.

About a day later, Cora pooped in the new box. I rejoiced, and wished I had confetti to toss about. Instead, I rubbed Cora’s ears and told her how she made her mama proud.

But then the mysterious pooper returned.

Even worse, the poo placement seemed aggressive. Cora started leaving pretty impressive pyramids right on top of the drain.

Quickly I took inventory. Both of her litter boxes are clean and have fresh litter. She has easy access to both. Could Charlie be interrupting her privacy? Does she feel less exposed in the tub?

Seeing that my best sleuthing would not solve this pooper scooper mystery, I decided to make an appointment with the vet. Cora is due for her shots this month, anyway, so we’ll be killing two proverbial birds with one stone.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and the bathroom door closed.

FurFamHORZNTL

Steppin’ out


Hi this is Jillian! I have been busy recovering from a recent hysterectomy. Today I write about moving again — and mention Charlie! — in my other blog, Exile From Hysteria. Enjoy!

Exile From Hysteria

I knew my first walk outside since I got home from the hospital would be a big deal, but nothing could truly prepare me for the experience.

Since most of the snow has melted, I chose to walk out back with my pup Charlie. The experience left me truly overwhelmed … by the amount of dog poo that needs to be picked up. That’s right. Without the snow to camoflauge, I was out for a hike on Poo Mountain.

Normally I would grab a couple plastic bags and take care of the situation. But with strict restrictions on bending/lifting/twisting, the Poop Patrol was a no go. So I skillfully bobbed and weaved my way to the back of the yard, surveyed my path, then scouted out a return trip. The mines were everywhere. I didn’t want to step on one, especially with my nifty new slip-on Merrill shoes. So I…

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Exile From Hysteria is a blog I started about my likely decision to have a hysterectomy. Here, I will post all my medical updates, surgery plans, as well as emotional breakthroughs and breakdowns. Thanks in advance for your love and support. If any of this interests you, please follow the blog and join the conversation!

Exile From Hysteria

In a moment my life changed.

But really it had already been falling apart in fragments.

For the last four months, the pain in my lower abdomen has been unyielding. Unbearable. So bad that on occasion, when I can’t roll over, I require assistance to get out of bed.

I tried to ignore it. When my psychiatrist casually asked about my endometriosis, I told him the pain had returned. When I told him my plan was to hold off on going back to the doctor until I couldn’t take the pain, he quizzically looked at me. More honestly, he shot me a look that said, I know I’m your psychiatrist, but are you insane?

I made an appointment to see my gynecologist. I half expected her to tell me it was nothing, an overreaction. Worst-case scenario, I envisioned her telling me I needed another laparoscopy surgery, like the one I…

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Lexie’s first love


Lexie and Lili on top of pillow mountain.

Long before Charlie, Lexie had another love in her life.

Lili was a barrel-shaped black-and-tan cocker spaniel, with a penchant for licking anything. Hence the nickname Lili the Licker.

I rescued Lili from my former partner’s relative, who could not care for her anymore. Before I got her, Lili spent a good portion of her first year cooped up in a bathroom; after I brought her home I would often find her curled up in front of our toilet.

Lili stands guard at base camp.

The bond between Lex and Lili was fast and fierce. They followed each other through the house, and cuddled up together on the couch for a nap. Together they both learned what it meant to go camping, and the freedom of chasing wild animals through the woods.

And then there was what I’ll call “The Kissing Game.” Aah, yes. At first guests would find it charming. “Oh look, they’re kissing!” they would say, pointing at Lex and Lili’s makeout session. But after a few minutes, the mood would turn awkward. The feverish licking continued. And then, a couple minutes more — and they would still be going at it like a couple of teenagers, um, in heat.

“Go get a dog house,” I would cry out, pulling them apart, as my guests averted their eyes. Clearly I needed to have a talk with the girls about appropriate behavior when we had friends over.

They loved taking walks together. In all kinds of weather. This led to various accessories, ranging from doggie rain coats to Mutt-Luk booties to keep salt from bothering their tender paws. Once I snapped the leashes on them, Lex and Lili knew only one speed: GO! I was that person, both arms outstretched, blindly following two dogs trying out for a mush team.

Lili was a delicate flower. She had allergies that would cause her to break out in terrible sores. And then there were the ear infections. It was such a terrible case, that even her allergist could not prevent her from going deaf. We tried everything, including feeding her venison I bought at a wild game shop. I’d say there were moments when her allergies would subside, but inevitably they would return, raging out of control.

Even with her smelly ears, Lili was the only one for Lexie. She never turned her nose, and always snuggled in a bit closer.

Lili and Jilli wait for a summer storm.

What many people don’t know is that Lili was an expert crooner. The moment I walked out of eyesight, whether out into the front yard or into the next room, Lili would start winding up. It went something like: “woo-wooo-Woo-Wooo-WOO-WOOO-WOOOOO!”

The first time I heard her howl I thought she had broken a leg. My heart raced as I ran back into the house, only to find her happily panting. It was the beginning of a lifetime of false alarms. Fool me once, fool me a thousand times!

Lex and Lili were like an old married couple. They waited for each other before climbing the stairs to go to bed. They ate at the same time. They peed in unison on walks. Their bond was unbreakable.

Our last photo together.

So when Lili died, I was unsure if Lexie would survive.

For days, Lex curled up on Lili’s smelly pillow. She moped, and didn’t eat. She lost weight. But eventually she started showing interest in the world again. A year passed, and I’m sure she was convinced she would finish her days as a spinster.

Then Charlie came along.

Love is tender and unpredictable. And love has found Lexie again.

Lili would want that.

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