We’re Back!

By Karen

After a carefree week sailing the Caribbean, I ended up trapped in airports for the whole weekend, trying to return to Richmond during a “massive” mid-Atlantic snowstorm. (In Virginia and farther south, 8” qualifies as a blizzard.)

I’m sure Anthony Bourdain could laugh at my traveling trials, but he doesn’t travel with a pair of 70+-year-olds who want to call all the shots (which usually meant doing nothing to save themselves) because they’re the parents.

Anyway, I’m now digging out from the snow and all the information that piles up in a week. So please bear with me. I haven’t seen No Reservations in Brittany yet, and I’m looking forward to Prague tonight. I will catch up ASAP.

PS: The cats are recovering nicely from their own “hellish” experience while US Airways was torturing me in every imaginable way. Their pet sitter couldn’t get through the snow to open their cans and scoop their boxes. Yul staged one outside-the-box demonstration to convey the group’s dismay over the suddenly-nonexistent housekeeping service. I’ve been working so hard to get them back on track that my suitcase still sits unpacked.

23 Responses to We’re Back!

  1. deb says:

    Oh my! Our cats surely can tell us when they rebel with those outside the box demonstrations!

  2. Zappa says:

    Perhaps he was just “thinking” outside the box?

  3. catsworking says:

    Yul undoubtedly had something in mind. When I posted, I thought it was his way of registering his disapproval over the dirty box situation, but he did it in COLE’S box, which he has NEVER used before.

    Now let me set the scene: Yul has three very high-sided storage boxes for his “biz” because he pees standing up like a guy, and they were the only boxes he couldn’t shoot over.

    Cole has a conventional cat box, which he has always used meticulously until he observed Yul’s style and began peeing standing up in the storage boxes. But only once in his own box did he forget where he was and go over the side. He seemed mortified about it and never did it again.

    So imagine my amazement when I got home to find this big puddle UNDER Cole’s box. Had the stress of my being gone a week sent his fragile “new pet” psyche over the edge? That was my fear.

    But this morning Yul paid an unexpected visit upstairs when he’s usually lounging on my bed. A while later, I found another puddle beside Cole’s box and Yul’s unmistakable splat on the inside.

    Now I know Yul has been trying to frame Cole. But since they like each other, I think his intent was more a good-natured hazing, and Adele was probably in on it because she still likes to see Cole get in trouble.

    I just moved Cole’s box into a bath tub, where he found it and used it appropriately, and Yul hasn’t gone near it. I think the extra leap it takes to reach it — and the easy clean-up job in the tub — has sucked all the fun out of his game. At least, I hope so.

  4. Cindy says:

    Welcome back.

    You go cruising and we get blanketed in snow. You come up to DC and we get drowned by a hurricane. Maybe we need an early warning system for when you travel.

    Read some where that Tony and Eric Ripert are going to have a Food Battle at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Yes, they are letting him come back.

    Also, a bit of bad news. Mario is now officially off Iron Chef. I watched last night and when they introduced the chefs, they included the new guy but no Mario.

  5. catsworking says:

    Cindy, my condolences on the loss of Mario.

    You think the weather turns bad when I travel… I made a transatlantic crossing in 1997 and was following in her tracks by just a few hours in Paris the day Diana got whacked.

    In 1998, I was in Palm Springs when Frank Sinatra died.

    In 2003, I was on a ship when Saddam Hussein got captured.

    I almost sailed out of New York City on September 10, 2001, but changed my mind because it was a “farewell voyage” for the ship and I thought it would be too depressing.

    So I guess you’re really lucky that we had only a hurricane when I met you in DC. It could have been a lot worse.

    I don’t usually write about my travels here because I’m working on a very snarky book about cruising and the cruise industry. I’ve seen, done, and had many things done TO me on ships that they don’t print in the brochures.

  6. I kept thinking as you, my family, sat in San Juan’s airport (according to the family matriarch the most hellish excuse for an airport that ever was), at least you’re not in Haiti! Perspective people, perspective! I think it’s important to keep one’s head during travel inconvenience. I have done so all my life and meet the challenges with a good book and a glass of wine–even if it does dehydrate! (A word to the wise I learned after a 12-hour unexpected layover in Chicago years ago en route to Hawaii… don’t wear sandals when you’re flying into Richmond in January—you know, just in case it’s winter when you get home!)

  7. catsworking says:

    Noel, you make a good point. It WASN’T Haiti. But that’s all I can say in defense of the San Juan airport.

    It was right out of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. We saw our original flight, which US Air told us had been canceled the previous day, long before the first flake ever fell, still listed on the monitor as “On Time” and then “Airborne.” When we questioned it, 2 different US Air agents told us, “Don’t believe anything you see on the monitor. We give the airport our information, and they post whatever they like. They won’t allow any of the airlines to have their own monitors with accurate departure and arrival times because they want the information to be consistent.”

    Consistently fiction, apparently. The only way to find out the status of any flight is to get back in line until you reach an agent, where you’ll be assured that everything is fine and on time — until they cancel your flight again.

    Our flight numbers and gates were switched while we sat there and nobody told us. The only way to find out what was going on in that place was to call US Air’s toll-free reservations line and then try to get the gate agents to confirm.

    Throughout the day, flights were departing for Philadelphia (another hub) and DC, and if I’d been alone, I’d have gotten myself on any one of them to have a fighting chance to making it to Richmond before they closed the airport, like many other more savvy travelers did.

    When my traveling companions (parents) were talking about throwing in the towel and walking away from the whole situation — without booking new flights and without fulfilling the 5-hour delay requirement for the travel insurance to pay our expenses (how they expected us to EVER get home with that strategy, I have no idea) — I held my ground and insisted we stick around until all hopes of getting to Charlotte were dashed.

    The result? We got to Charlotte that night and found some of the loveliest hotel rooms I’ve ever seen at an out-of-the way, very friendly Wingate.

    If you think sandals are bad, how about espadrille slides that make you walk in tiny, halting steps like you’ve got “lotus” feet? Those were her footwear for the trip TO San Juan while we had to schlep our luggage, including the extra suitcase she HAD to bring for makeup and SHOES, which became everyone else’s burden after US Air ripped the clasp off her larger suitcase and she could no longer tie her luggage together.

    Perspective is easy to preach from a distance. You had to have been there.

  8. Adele says:

    Welcome back! Cole and Adele wrote excellent pieces in your absence. And I do look forward to just a little dish on the cruise.

    After your worries that Cole would be traumatized by your absence, it sounds like Yul took it upon himself to express the group’s displeasure. I hope peace and order (and no puddles) descend on your little household very soon.

    Cindy, I noticed that Mario was off Iron Chef as well. I must say the single most appealing (and caloric) dish I ever saw on Iron Chef was a Mario creation. It was a spaghetti carbonara made in a melted out wheel of parmesano reggiano. I guess Mario is pretty much done with the Food Network.

  9. Bob says:

    Welcome back Karen!!!

    You will have to come up here and visit us in Winnipeg to see what real snow looks like. Just kidding, I know what a pain in the keester a big dump of snow is. Especially if you’re not used to dealing with it on a daily basis.

    Hope the Cats welcome you back with open Paws, begging you never ever to go away again.

  10. catsworking says:

    Adele, you’ll be happy to know that your comment didn’t go to spam. The problem you were having seems to have corrected itself.

    Thanks for the welcome back, Adele and Bob. Now I’m dealing with a bad cold in the aftermath of all the excitement of the trip, so I’m slow getting back up to speed here. Sorry about that. I’m working on a new Bourdain post now.

  11. Zappa says:

    I think you are a lovely woman and I very much enjoy reading your blog. I look forward to you visiting DC for a book signing,but,after reading your travel history….um…not sure

    Zappa’s mom

  12. catsworking says:

    Zappa’s mom, you would have good reason to worry. As a traveler, I have the worst luck with flying.

    My mother insisted on flying US Airways because she gets miles, although there were better flights available. She always says that her trips go off without a hitch every time. But she’s never flown with me.

    Not only were our flights delayed, then canceled, leaving us stranded overnight out of town, but our luggage was held hostage for 2 days so we had no access to our clothes, and then the bags showed up in Richmond about an hour after we did because we weren’t on the same flight, making a long day even longer because my parents didn’t believe the airline would deliver them to us. Just about everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

    But the next time I travel to DC, I will definitely take the train again.

  13. MorganLF says:


    Agreed as we discussed the train is the ONLY way. We both had excellent experiences taking the train to DC. Anywho, I too was away last week on my annual birthday trip; at a trade show in a convention center. As usual it was ghastly, hours and hours on my feet gladhanding the rubes (last year I fell an broke my ankle). This year all the standing killed my back and knees I got home and slept for three days.

    Your vacay sounds hellish but your Mom sounds like a trip. Lotus feet, extra make up & shoes, nips & TUCKS? At 70? God bless!

  14. MorganLF says:

    PS: Mario was the best cook they had on that Network and he WILL be doing other shows. The line up over there is getting downright clownish. Like the cloying black couple who call each other momma and daddy and cook vileness (BBQ spaghetti!) fawn over each other with cloying patois, ” come her my sugar and gimme some sweetnes” ugggh AND he has spray painted hair!

  15. Bob says:

    Since we are on the topic of trashing the Food Network.
    Has anyone else noticed the unholy abundance of Cake Shows lately???

    Between TLC and Food, you can hardly swing, Ahem “A Dead Cat” for lack of a better term without landing on some form of Cake decorating show or Cake Baking show.

    Between all the cakes and BBQ it’s no mystery why they booted Mario off Iron Chef. He has Wayyyy too much class!!

    Was it a case of him getting booted or a case of him not needing the paycheque and having the sense to get the hell out of dodge before he was doing “Molto BBQ: Ribs to go with that Special Birthday Princess Cake”

  16. catsworking says:

    Spray-painted hair! You mean like when I used to color in the bald spot on my Ken doll’s head with a black Flair?

    I think I know the couple you’re talking about, but I can’t think of their names. In fact, during one of our snowstorms I had the Food Network on and watched a couple of shows with people so forgettable, I can’t remember their names OR what they cooked.

  17. Tuxi says:

    Wow! The stuff humans go thru! My mom has to watch my housemate Plato because he has a marking fetish for old wood and plastic. I kid you not. I think the old wood is because the previous homeowner had a dog who didn’t like doors and Plato doesn’t like Mom’s bedroom door or the door downstairs in the room below hers. Yet the little gray nut has no problem with peeing in a litter box whatsoever.

  18. Tuxi says:

    And I think Mom should buy stock in cat cleaning products since she has bottles here of Get Serious, Drs. Foster & Smith Stain Away, Stink Free, Urine Gone, Out!, Feliway Spray (pheromone spray preventer) and the plug-in Feliways. But what really helps is a needle-less syringe of Prozac between the lips once daily. The hard part is catching the little fart to give it to him. No wonder Mom is pooped!

  19. Tuxi says:

    Hmm, I missed a chance for humor in that last comment. After the between the lips part I should’ve said “Yup! It helps Mom every time! Ha! Ha! Funny how some cats have bathroom issues and yet we’re finicky and so anal (pun intended) with our behaviors. Some of us here wash our toy mice in a water dish, yet play with them near a litter box.

  20. catsworking says:

    Tuxi, we went through 5 years of hell with our former senior cat, Fred, who lost his mind once while I was away on vacation. He began by spraying my bedroom door and branched out over time to all other surfaces, particularly any clothing I might leave hanging within reach. Unfortunately, he never came to his senses before he passed away last May.

    If I was astute enough to catch Fred when he got that “Where should I pee next?” look in his eye, all I’d have to say was “Tinkles in the box!” and he’d march right to the box and use it. But I couldn’t watch him 24/7, so we had plastic trash bags taped to all his favorite spots to catch the puddles like wall diapers, and I tried everything on the market to deal with it. Feliway was particularly expensive and USELESS. Fred seemed to think it was another cat and sprayed the diffuser!

    Fortunately, except for that little out-of-the-box incident while I was most recently gone and they were admittedly under duress with no scooping for 2 days, the current Cats Working team displays impeccable litterbox manners.

  21. Tuxi says:

    Glad to hear that, Karen! Salem and Plato are the ones we watch for and most of the time they’re angels. The sitter not coming would upset us too so I understand Yul being miffed. Mom was at the hospital for a D&C Monday but she was back home with us by 3:30. On March 18 she has a spay-uh, hysterectomy to end a lifetime of problems from her heat periods, but Aunt Terri lives here too.

  22. Tuxi says:

    Joan’s sister Terri is a liason with the FDA at Glaxo Smith Kline and they currently are working on a cancer drug. Terri has nothing to do with GSK drug prices-Joan checked! Glaxo closed for the day and if they have any sense they’ll close tomorrow! It’s snowing so hard you can’t even see past the lane that runs by our neighbor’s house!

  23. catsworking says:

    Tuxi, you are very lucky to have a backup caretaker to make sure the litterboxes get scooped. That was a very dark weekend for Cats Working. We’re used to 2x a day service!

    Sorry to hear about your Mom’s problems and hope the “fix” does the trick.

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