Karen Kuhl

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Originally written for Instagram, so apologies if you're seeing this twice.

I keep wren houses, and I had announced on IG the chirping of newly hatched chicks a few weeks ago. And...

My wrens didn't make it. Something happened to the first batch of eggs, or the female had difficulty, and her second batch came late. And then they hatched... but it got quiet. Something wasn't right. I thought maybe it was the heat.

Yesterday, I came out to (who I assume was) the female, hanging from the birdhouse, her claw stuck in the nest inside. She was gone. She looked beat up, or maybe she fought to free her leg. I was so heartbroken when I found her, I didn't think to check her for sticky eyes, one of the symptoms of this mystery songbird illness. I was busy pulling her down and laying her to rest on the hill behind me.

Today, I gathered up several gorgeous blooms from my hydrangea in an effort to honor the situation, and also cheer me up. The hydrangea is having a banner year, surprisingly. I did nothing to protect her from the horrible winter we had, and did no spring prep on her at all. And yet, she is prolific in bloom and variety of color.

It helps.

7/23 '21 7 Comments
Oh, Jesus, I'm so sorry.
We reluctantly took down our birdbath and stopped filling our bird feeder, based on the advice of PA Fish & Wildlife. I've noticed that robins and cardinals are looking unhealthy when I see them. They look like their feathers are greasy & dirty.

Did you bury the bird? I read that you should only handle them with disposable gloves, put them in a sealed plastic bag, and dispose of them with your usual trash, because there's a concern that whatever these birdies have could jump species.
No, I used plastic to pick her up and send her to the hill, an area I can't easily walk to. She did look a mess, but I couldn't say if it was grease or from a struggle.
Karen Kuhl 8/9 '21
Usually I'm sad that we can't have bird feeders up in the summer (because BEARS), but this year not so much.
Anne Mollo 7/23 '21
Sorry to hear about the birdies. The hydrangea is lovely.
Thomas Boutell 7/23 '21
The blooms are still alive and going, and bringing such comfort indoors.
Karen Kuhl 8/8 '21
You're such a good soul.

Also, the flowers are lovely.
Anne Mollo 7/23 '21
Same to you, Anne.

They are a little piece of my heart.
Karen Kuhl 8/8 '21

Dunna Vetta

(or: My Life as an Insomniac)

It's lightening and thundering, though I can't hear it too well with the earplugs in. But the air is charged, and the cool breeze through the window is welcome. The soft boom and roll is comforting.

Rog is here in bed with me. (That feels oddly TMI and yet, why?) Anyway, we are test running the sleeping arrangements in prep for my family vacation in one week. He has the CPAP, the chin strap, the other sleep apnea device (Inspire), and I have the earplugs, the sleep mask, the sleep meds, and the cat locked out.

I think it's working.

I mean, actually working.

I am cheered by this thought. I don't know how the entire night is going to go yet, but I'll just take this little feeling and hold on to it.

6/14 '21 9 Comments
This resonates for me. I have a feeling there's a CPAP in my future.
It's definitely an adjustment for all involved.
Karen Kuhl 6/15 '21
I read somewhere recently that there's new data that indicates certain types of night mouth guards may be as effective at keeping your airways open for some kinds of sleep apnea. Can't find it at the moment, but it's probably worth investigating or asking about if it looks like you need a little better O2 intake at night.
Anne Mollo 6/15 '21
Not to hijack someone else’s post but , I know it’s something concerning my throat.
The mouth guard is a relatively cost-effective first shot. If it works, your partner will know pretty fast. Rog was not a candidate for that.

His particular situation was that he has a large tongue and a small pallet. Hahaha, the jokes we made. Anyway, he relaxes and his tongue plugs up his throat like a ball-valve (doctor's phrase). Top that off with weight gain as he aged, and the freight train comes through our neighborhood every night.

There is a surgery for it, but the first line is usually CPAP. With the mask that covers the nose AND mouth.

I am not a doctor, so you'll want to see one, but I hope it's an easy fix.
Karen Kuhl 6/20 '21
I can't see this comment.
Karen Kuhl 6/20 '21
How’d it go?
It went swimmingly until he rutched around to scratch his arm and I immediately woke right up. Ten minutes later, when he moved his foot, I woke up again. We tried some more for a half hour until we gave up and he left for the other room.

Not thrilled. We share a king bed at the motel, so here's hoping that's an improvement over my wee double bed.

This experiment made me realize how much worse my sleep is. Even if I may be getting more hours lately, I'm barely asleep.

The good news is we definitely have improved the noise (freight train) situation, and in separate beds (like most hotel rooms), we should be pretty awesome, and that's a relief.
Karen Kuhl 6/20 '21

There's a lump in the carpet in the hallway, no bigger than a quarter, that I only find wtih my bare foot once in a strange while. It's an, "A-ha, I remember you," moment that plays in the back of my mind until I reach my destination. I wonder if there's a name for that kind of thing.

9/1 '20 2 Comments
If anyone has a twenty-syllable compound word for it, it'd be the Germans.
Anne Mollo 9/1 '20
This is true. So says Lichtenwalner, which is only 4 syllables, but you get the idea.

During bad times, you think of better times.

music: Led Zeppelin - "Ten Years Gone"

mood: Chicken Lounge waitress/bartender, circa 1996

8/29 '20 3 Comments
Nice! That gave me a little happy flashback.
Remember when I served Ben because he had a full beard at 17? Oops.
Karen Kuhl 8/31 '20
LOL! Indeed! When I first went in with him, I introduced him to PH as 'my big brother' (or maybe I fully lied and called him 'my older brother' ? Been too long to recall). He never had a problem getting served there after that! :P
Matt Lichtenwalner 8/31 '20edited

I've lost my absolute shit this week. Lost it. I don't even have the words. I was only sorta handling it anyway, until I wasn't handling it at all. I don't even know when, personally, it broke for me, but it's so broke.

Fuck everything. Burn it all down. I'm done.

music: Neil Young - "Ohio"

mood: %@$&

6/2 '20 9 Comments
BTW: I’m also losing my shit.
*puts on the tea kettle and pulls out the two most loved mugs*
Karen Kuhl 6/3 '20
If you've got a third beloved mug, I wouldn't mind sittin' for a spell.
Anne Mollo 6/3 '20
*adds another mug; places cat in your lap* <3
Karen Kuhl 6/4 '20
(Gets out the good honey)
I would disconnect from the news cycle. It's not doing anyone any good. The media wants you upset and tuned in to see the next outrageous thing. Too bad humans aren't built that way.
Ray Conrad 6/3 '20
Good advice. Thank you, Ray. XOXO
Karen Kuhl 6/4 '20
Love you. Do you have enough access to meds, food, water, sunlight, oxygen, etc? Do you have a cat? I can send you a CHOMPING cat but you probably don’t want a chomper.
Maybe some Ted drawings?
Love you so much, doll. I have the basics, just can't soothe the heart right now. The cat is in fact also feeling it, he's been exceptionally loud and cranky lately.

I would absolutely love some Ted drawings. <3 Please take this giant virtual hug and share it with Ted and Vince and all the fur kids living with you. And... thank you.
Karen Kuhl 6/3 '20

On the advice of Patch, I'm posting this here from an email I just wrote. Taken from an article: "57 Things to Do With Friends While Social Distancing Beyond 'Catching Up'" recommended by Lindsay. Sorry if some of you are seeing this twice.

Weekly? Newsletter

Things I read: Just finished Joan Didion's "Year of Magical Thinking". Not an uplifting read, but for me it fit the theme of loss I'm feeling lately. Was really comforting. Looking for recommendations for the next one though. Not just non-fiction, if you had an un-put-downable-read lately, please do share.

Watched: Signed up for the the free trial of CBS All Access and plowed through "Picard" over the weekend and plan to binge "Star Trek: Discovery" next. Big Star Trek nerds in this household. Hugely big. As much as I appreciate the continuation of the ST universe with the reboots, I badly needed me some nostalgic Next Generation feels.

Listened to: Right now I'm just randomly asking Alexa things like "play Pink Floyd". Which, btw, always seems to start with the song "Money". I'd be thrilled if anyone could experiment and get back to me if it's the same first song for you.

Ate: Food is getting very frustrating. I believe we are stuck in a cycle of: curbside pickup from local small businesses, occasional Chick-fil-A (Why is the line there always wrapped around the building twice? I always figured them on the same level as McD's or Wendy's, but those places are right nearby with much shorter lines.), SaladWorks (best Cobb salads), home-cooking (usually too depressed to cook much), sandwiches... and way too many snacks. And BOOZE. Got the Covid-15(lbs) happening over here.

Laughed about: Too many stand-up specials to count. The ones that stick out are Marc Maron: End Times Fun (and also Thinky Pain) on Netflix, Neal Brennan: 3 Mics on Netflix, anything Jim Gaffigan, and I have to say Stephen Colbert and the other late show hosts are doing so much to keep it survivable. :)

Photographed: This bird outside of my kitchen window, just today, that I have yet to identify.

Loved: Hot Breakfast 15 minute coffee breaks, Ted's YouTube videos and Instagram artwork, group Zooms (when I can get to them), other wonderful stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting, my guy, and my adorable cat. And youz guyz. <3

I do my hair toss, check my nails. Baby how you feeling?



5/11 '20 6 Comments
I've been meaning to create a "FELINE GOOD AS HELL" cat meme but it's getting a bit late for it.
Thomas Boutell 5/11 '20
I would love to have seen that.
Karen Kuhl 5/11 '20
Another friend watched the Picard series and was frustrated by it and didn't think it did much with the potential it had. What say you?

Also wow! That looks like a male Baltimore Oriole! They're nectar eaters (also bugs and berries) so if you have a hummingbird feeder you might entice it even closer or encourage it to come back more often... I think there are also feeders specifically made for Orioles, orange colored instead of red and bigger perches. I haven't seen a Baltimore Oriole in the flesh since I was a teen. They're supposed to live in VT (and I saw them here as a kid) but I've yet to spot one in the 10 years I've been back. You're so lucky!!

Food. Sigh. We're fine, we're eating tasty varied foods. But I miss the whole going out and having someone set a beautiful plate of food in front of me while I eavesdrop on the chatter of strangers.
Anne Mollo 5/11 '20edited
I concur with the oriole identification. Maybe nature really is getting better! Perhaps the baseball-playing Orioles aren't getting any worse?
Brian Rapp 5/12 '20
The acting was so good that I didn't notice all the plot holes as I was going along. Were there plot holes? Heavens, yes.
Thomas Boutell 5/12 '20
I know you posted this nearly a month ago, but I just tried with Alexa and it played "Another Brick in the Wall," not "Money."
DaylightKatie 6/10 '20

I woke up to catpee in my bathtub today. With the addition of Roger's cats, I'd been lazy about ordering the Feliway. I'm no longer feeling lazy about ordering the Feliway. Funny how that works!

So I looked at Amazon and there seems to be a whole variety of Feliway diffuser oils now. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=feliway+refill I plan to do some research, but if anyone has recommendations (*cough* Lindsay? *cough*) I'd appreciate it! I'm rusty. This former Cat-Foster-Lady-Extraordinaire is having to dust off her old tips and tricks, and some of them are way in the back of the closet* under piles of stuff.

I'm also looking at getting help with housekeeping. Two adults and three cats is showing its effects already. I'd already been losing the ability to keep up with my house when it was me and Alistair, now I can longer deny that it's gotten away from me, and is not coming back. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes... turn and face the strange.

I'm tired already and it's not even lunchtime.

*My brain. I'm referring to my brain.

music: David Bowie - "Changes"

mood: mood

1/21 '20 2 Comments
I got the official Feliway brand multi-cat diffuser set, two of them. We divided the cats into two teams, Team Elder Cat and Team Younger Cat. Each team was put in a bathroom with food, water, litter, a Feliway diffuser, and their cat carriers, in case either of them were like, no.
We kept them in the bathrooms for probably 3 days. The plan was to let the older ones out to explore, put them back, let the younger ones out, put them back. In the end, we just let everyone out at the same time.
I moved the Feliway diffusers so there was one in the upstairs hallway and one downstairs in the main room where we hang out. The only noticeable difference in their behavior is that they didn’t fight and they weren’t jerks.
We kept refilling the diffusers once a month for about three months, then cut it back to one multi-cat diffuser. We haven’t refilled it in about a month, and they’re being a little jerky but not horribly jerky. No more rude and narcissistic than the usual cat.

I also got the Feliscratch Scratching Attractant, and I drip it on their tree and toys. They rub on it and try to eat it. It keeps them from being all up in my grill while I’m working.
Invaluable. Thank you so much. >'-'<
Karen Kuhl 1/28 '20

Excitement today.

The wind blew the door open after Roger left for work this morning. Frost heave pushes the frame out of alignment, and I've had it fixed several times, but really I need a new door. If you don't get it just right on a really cold day, it won't latch. And he usually checks it but he's still new at it. In fact, it still catches me off-guard sometimes. (I've already woken up to snow in my living room. You haven't lived.)

         (Said culprit.)

Well, all three cats were outside when I got up, including his two who've never been outside AND who won't let me near them to pick them up. Thankfully they ran straight back into the house instead of out and away from me.

I still ended up traipsing all over the neighborhood in my pajamas though (no picture provided), shaking a treat bag and carrying a favorite toy, looking for my cat who is too deaf to answer to his own name... only to have him happily greet me at the door when I got back, the little fucker*.

My feet are full of blisters and my nose is running.

*Who I was incredibly happy to see the instant I saw his face.

music: Michael Martin Murphey - "Wildfire"

mood: blustery cold and relieved

1/16 '20 9 Comments
Keep us up to date on #DOORWATCH2020.
Ray Conrad 1/16 '20
I'm afraid it appears to be an ongoing problem. *sigh* There already enough household repairs to be made, now #doormageddon.
Karen Kuhl 1/17 '20
Turns out Rog was turning around to jiggle the handle after shutting the door, making sure it was closed before he walked to his car. That was most likely the culprit. At his house this works. At my house it nudges the latch loose again. Problem seems to be solved.
Karen Kuhl 1/21 '20
AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH that’s frustrating. Glad the cats know where warmth & food are.
Holy shit, you know it, sister. I was sweating.
Karen Kuhl 1/17 '20
I can't even imagine trying to deal with the chaos of all the cats scampering about. You're such a pro!
Anne Mollo 1/17 '20
Hahahaha! And a little crazy. You know, as required. ;)
Karen Kuhl 1/19 '20
New door. New door now.
Thomas Boutell 1/17 '20
It happened again today!

When you're right, you're right.
Karen Kuhl 1/17 '20

There's a quiet gearing up to the holidays. And to paraphrase Anne's post, a ripple in the force with the current political climate.

The weather had a sudden shift like a window slamming shut. I ain't even bov'vered. The bright sunny days stopped having an effect on me last month. It was more of a passive noticing, "I should be making the most of this somehow."


I've finally agreed to myself I need a cleaning lady. I've already begrudgingly let someone else do most of the lawn cutting, but the cleaning has been mine for so long, my source of pride. But I have giant gaps where I just can't anymore. I finally broke down and asked a former cleaning client for her maid's number, only to find out she's booked solid. Aargh!! The good ones usually are.

I detest the idea of having to hunt for and vet someone. So back on the backburner it goes.

10/9 '19 1 Comment
Even during the times when having a house cleaner was SUPER helpful to me, I never really liked it. It's not that cleaning is a source of pride, though. I just... don't like having someone in my house rummaging around, touching everything. It's too close-up for me. If a friend came over and helped me scrub dirt, I wouldn't mind at all. But someone I don't know, that I pay... ugh. It curdles my brain.

And then there's the question of what that work is "worth," you know? It's valued or devalued in funny ways, gendered ways, social ways, status ways...
Anne Mollo 10/9 '19