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My new hobby - sibling still inspires, teaches

Have you ever seen those little Zen gardens made for your coffee table? It's a small black frame, with white sand in the bottom that comes with a little rake. One is supposed to rake the sand, which brings some sort of spiritual awakening or maybe peace of mind. Perhaps, the juxtaposition of one's giant self compared to the tiny rake adds a certain frequency to the contemplation?

My brother Michael (Mik) lives in Tucson, Ariz., and is crazy about the desert, which is really a big sand box. Anyway, Mik often flies home to Skaneateles to lend a hand with the folks. Life is always an adventure when Michael is around. He straightens out computer issues, takes the folks on shopping expeditions and surveys the situation to access needs first hand.

This time around, he decided we needed to throw out several of the rugs that we inherited when we moved into the Nichols' (if those rugs could talk - wow!). He replaced these with a couple of new beauties, after cleaning the hardwood floors with Murphy's Oil Soap and then giving the old hard wood a drink with a bit of lemon oil. He then surveyed the kitty litter situation resulting in another trip to the store for a new litter box and a giant bag of "The World's Best Kitty Litter." He then set this all up next to the commode in the spare half bath that is situated just off the stadium - or my dad's TV room.

There is a rake-like scoop that one drags through the litter to remove waste, much like panning for gold. Next one shakes off the excess litter and then dumps the waste into the T bowl.

We grew up with a magical cat, Elizabeth who somehow always did her business outside and never sprayed, even a tiny bit. She lived to be 18. But, ever since, I haven't encountered a cat that I didn't think wreaked a lot of havoc within a house, including my parent's latest cats, now down to one, Patrick: Scratching furniture, hairballs galore, messy ammoniated litter boxes and she...edding.

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