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Posts Tagged ‘cats’

Sometimes we have moments in our busy days that just touch our hearts. Here is mine today.

PumpkinSleepingOnPorch2

As I walked past my side door earlier, I happened to look out and notice – there was Pumpkin, my next door neighbor’s cat, sound asleep in as relaxed and trusting a position as one could ever ask of any cat.

Why this is particularly touching is that Pumpkin is not a trusting cat. In the time that I’ve lived here, my neighbors got a dog, and the dog, with full run of their property when she is out, largely displaced Pumpkin and their other cat from what was once their domain. More and more the two cats came over here to spend time with me. (Admittedly, the fact that I was providing food and water was an influence, but they also clearly enjoy the company and affection.)

From being a rather curmudgeonly fellow, Pumpkin has come to be far more trusting and now seeks out my attention. He lets me know when he’s had enough, and we’re good so long as I keep an eye on his tail. I am quite sure I cannot pick him up without suffering serious damage, yet he’s become far friendlier over the years. Seeing him sleeping so soundly just outside my open door, his little back feet paired and curled up and his breathing deep and steady, tells me more about his trust than I might have ever known.

Rushing as we do, it’s easy to miss moments like this. I hope you’ve found your moment today.

 

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Right about now you might be thinking it’s pretty slim pickings in my brain that after all the time lapsed since my last post all I’m coming up with are some cat photos. Well, hold on just a minute there. First of all, they’re not just any cat photos – they’re of my beautiful Miss Jazzy. Second, we have some thoughts about the economy of environmental packaging and the inventiveness of cats. What’s that now?

Jazzy-PackingPaper2

Lately I’ve noticed that two companies I order from online fairly regularly have taken to using more environmentally friendly packing materials, and I really do appreciate that. No more packing peanuts, bubble wrap or plastic pillows. They’re using relatively cheap brown wrapping paper bunched up and stuffed to fill the box. (Yes, trees, but plastic is worse.)  The advantage of that? Instant cat toys! Not only is the box left out on the floor entertaining, but the brown paper can be arranged and re-arranged in ways that are endless fun for Jazzy. Hide a few toys, and she’s busy playing for awhile, (see below), and therein lies the movable cat sculpture. Cats are so inventive with so little.

Jazzy-PackingPaperToys2

Are there more things to write about? Oh yeah! Plenty of them. It’s been a kind of blah few weeks after the holidays, not terribly inspiring, and it seems there’s been a lot of that going around. Well, settle in your comfy chair with your favorite hot (or cold) beverage and a good book because the first snowstorm of the season will be pulling into the Eastern seaboard station tonight. And there’s nothing like some snow to get one to dreaming. (Until the shoveling begins, anyway.)

Meanwhile, take a few moments and play with your furred and feathered friends. Be safe. Stay warm.

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You may know from watching nature shows that there is something in the animal world called symbiosis or mutualism. What it means is that two unlikely creatures form alliances for their mutual benefit. I will offer a few examples with stunning photographs from Wikipedia and then my own humble example.

Perhaps the most well-known example of symbiosis in the animal world – only because there have been so many photographs circulated about it – is that of the clownfish and the anemone.

Clownfish-Nick Hobgood2

The charming little clownfish seems to be one of the only, if not the only, sea creature that is immune to the anemone’s sting. That works out perfectly. The clownfish has a place of safety to which he can swim when predators pursue, and in turn, brings dinner right to the anemone.

Then we have cleaner shrimp. These slender, delicate shrimp perform an important function for a variety of sea-dwellers from groupers to anemones to eels, as we see below.

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Here a cleaner shrimp does a tidy-up on the mouth of a moray eel. The benefit to the eel is that of a good dental/oral cleaning as bacteria is removed from its mouth. For the shrimp, who is a scavenger, a meal on the go.

Not all examples of symbiosis are under water. For example, oxpeckers are birds that often co-habit with zebras, (and other large mammals), for mutual advantage. The oxpeckers eat lice and ticks from the zebras’ coats and help the zebras by screaming when predators are nearby. Crocodiles and plovers co-exist with the plovers popping right into the crocodile’s mouth. Once again, in exchange for a good dental cleaning, the croc allows the plover whatever morsels he can find.

And then we come to my personal example:

Pumpkin-Symbiosis2

A cat and a car. Perhaps the most mysterious and least understood, (to the average passerby), of symbiotic relationships, there are even tertiary benefits in this relationship – to me!

Pumpkin, my buddy from next door, likes to take his nap in the shade of my bumper. The hotter it gets, the deeper in the cool shade he lies. The benefit to Pumpkin is obvious, but what about the car?

Two stories came to my attention awhile back. My neighbor across the street found one day that his truck wouldn’t start. It was taken by flatbed to his mechanic who found that a goodly number of field mice had set up housekeeping in his engine and chewed through all the wires. So bad was it, that it couldn’t be repaired. It was either a new engine in the truck or a new truck. The neighbor across the street on his other side was driving to work when her car simply stopped running. She coasted to the side of the road, was taken by flatbed to her mechanic, who found that a goodly number of field mice had set up housekeeping in her engine and chewed through her wires as well. Luckily, her car could be repaired.

Getting my drift? So while I am always aghast to see the occasional mauled mouse that Pumpkin, (or his cohort Cloudy, my other buddy from next door), leaves lying about, I also know his presence is keeping my engine intact. Which means I get to drive knowing my wires are not chewed through, both cats get shade and bottomless bowls of food and water on my back porch, and we all get some cuddling and hanging-out time.

Beats eating ticks and lice or screaming at the approach of predators, eh?

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It’s been a while since I’ve had the time or the brain to post, but at last, I’ve returned. I have a few things I’d like to post about, but as the weather gets chilly and soon I will have beautiful Fall mums gracing my porches, I wanted to share a bit of how they looked this summer.

I was originally going to title this post “The Little Porch of Horrors” because all the plants were doing just terribly. I am not the gardener some of my fellow bloggers are, (you know who you are), and I am sometimes at a loss as to whether it’s me underwatering, overwatering, poor plant quality or simply their settling in. But somehow with the exception of  two pots, they all came around. The most successful of my porch plants are the humble coleus.

TwoColeus2

The dark one on the left had a tag that said either dwarf or miniature coleus. Truly, it is supposed to be a hanging plant, but that would mean I’d have to drag a stepstool or get a hose wand or whatever, and if you know me, you know my indoor plants live by their wits. I pretty much expect the same of the outdoor varieties as well. This burgundy coleus is just gorgeous and in the sunshine, has almost a furry silver texture on its leaves. The variegated one has done quite well, too.

CornerColeus2

In the corner of  the front porch I planted 2 coleus in the pot and 2 dusty miller, hoping the coleus would shoot up like last year and the dusty miller, be bushy underneath. That didn’t happen; maybe too many plants in one pot. What did happen was a never-ending explosion of coleus flowers, which, as you know, are not all that gorgeous. I pinch them back – not a good idea? – and they seem to become more profuse. However, it all looks quite pretty nonetheless.

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Then we have the petunia trees. I have never had petunias which kept growing straight upwards. I chose these gorgeous velvety deep plum and purple varieties and planted them with cream salvia, again thinking the petunias would spread low around the salvia. I pinched them back, did whatever little I knew, but no such luck – they just keep to their aspirations of one day starring in Jack and the Beanstalk, the Revise.

There were several other pots that also did well on the porches, although they sure took their sweet time about it. Again, if I paid them more attention, perhaps I’d figure out what I was doing. But here’s what looks the most fabulous on my porches:

TheBoys2

The Boys. These are my neighbor’s cats who spend a good portion of every day lounging about on my porches, walks, driveway, car – whatever strikes their fancy and might include some sun and ideally, me, usually with a book. Truly, my talents lie in the direction of animal care and not plant care, and I think those described know it and behave accordingly.

So my hat is off to you, you wonderful and talented gardeners! I stand humbly and appreciatively in your shadow, and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that were I to begin to wilt, you’d know exactly what to do.

 

 

 

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Claude

I was thinking about my last post on Stillness, and something came into my head. I’d written a post on stillness about 7 years ago but from a very different angle – a lighter and more humorous one. So for those of you who weren’t checking me out back then, here’s a revisit of something I learned about relaxation, a corollary of stillness. Pictured is my handsome Claude, still missed, the Master of Relaxation.

Have you ever noticed the positions your animals get into? They make it look as if they invented the word `relax’. They stretch out, especially in the heat, so every potential draft will ease slowly over their languid bodies. They make it look so damn easy.
Now you might think that this is a comment on my own inability to relax, which is far from the truth. In fact, it brings to mind an experience of many moons ago when my then-husband came home to find me lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling or into space. He asked what was I doing?
I said “nothing.”
With an incredulous look on his face, he said, “What do you mean, nothing?”
“I mean nothing. I’m doing nothing. As in, nothing.” Seemed pretty clear to me.
“How could you just be doing nothing,” he asked. “You have to be doing something!”
Now THIS was a man who had a hard time relaxing!
I tried to search for what it was I was doing, and all I came up with was … in trying to satisfy the question … “I guess I’m daydreaming .. or just thinking.”
And then, with the same confused face, he asked, “How can you just lie there and do nothing?”
Well, I thought I had just come up with an answer as to what I was doing, but I let that go, and said, “Here, just lie down, and kind of stare into space and let your mind relax. You know, just drift around a bit.”
He lay down and for all intents and purposes, assumed the position one would take if they were to relax. He looked up at the ceiling.
Then he looked at me.
“I don’t know how you can just do nothing. I can’t do nothing.”
I don’t really remember what happened after that, except that he wasn’t next to me anymore. Probably feeling guilty for now having the audacity to have actually spent a few moments of my life doing nothing, I’m sure I joined him and made it my business to start doing something.
But I think the animals still have the right idea. They have learned the fine art of doing nothing, of just being in the moment. They stretch out … close their eyes … take a deep breath and they’re off into dreamland or wherever animals go when they close their eyes. We have such a lot to learn from them … and this is one of their best lessons.

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I’m taking a brief diversion on what was to be a triple-play on “Writing What We Know” for a very good reason – I had a photo op.

If you have or know cats, you know nothing makes them as happy as a new box or bag. They find it irresistible. So having just that – a new bag – I offered it to her highness for exploration.

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First, let’s see if there’s anything inside. This might take a while.

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Next, let’s see if it has the right amount of room for comfortable sleeping.

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And, of course, let’s give Mom the money shot!

Never fear, animal lovers, this is a plaything for Jazzy under supervision only, lest she get her head caught in one of those pretty handles and set off to running with it caught about her neck, thus causing panic and overall, anything but the fun experience we’d been hoping for.

One day later? It’s already old news. There’s no forgetting – Jazzy’s a cat.

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Full Moon

Always curled up by my door, I wonder …

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does she stroll about when the moon is full?

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What does one do when she finds herself animal-less? She adopts! Meet Jazzy … in a possibly overdone Christmas-Photoshopped shot. But who doesn’t love a kitty in a carton, one’s own little boxtot?

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For those of you who have a genuine love of animals, you know the invisible, gaping hole that opens in your home when a pet passes away. Imagine having lost all your animals, and if you know me, or follow this blog, you may know that was the case after Claude passed over. It doesn’t matter if you have two or twenty humans living in your home, when there is not one animal to be heard, the silence is deafening.

It only took three days before I contacted the local cat rescue to see if a black cat named Jazzy was still available for adoption. I had met her in the nearby pet store who generously showcases cats and kittens from two local rescue organizations to give them an extra chance to find a home. It was after Gypsy Rose passed away, and I wondered if Claude would like another companion. Jazzy was sweet and affectionate and did a great job of selling herself, but ultimately, I decided against adopting any other animals at the time, letting the aging Claude have me just to himself.

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But without any animal in the house at all, that was another story. My rescue contact told me not only was the three year old beauty still waiting, but no one had even shown any interest in her. (Unfortunately, people still have bizarre superstitions about black cats and therefore, they have the hardest time finding homes.) I have no such preconceptions, and after an interview with the rescue, a brief meet and greet with both her and Jazzy at the pet store, we agreed to all meet at our mutual vet for an introduction and a nail clip for Jazzy. She’s been here ever since.

Adopting an older animal is a bit more of a challenge in some ways than adopting a youngster. Jazzy has her own personality and her own ideas about everything. And that’s OK – so do I. She’s bright, a fast learner and it’s not hard to come to understandings about anything. Most importantly, older animals need a chance. Everyone wants to adopt the kittens. I wanted to give that chance to a cat who really needed it. And so … the curious cat in the box.

My challenge now? Taking the most fabulous photograph of an all black animal, the ever-so-elegant Jazzy.

Your challenge? The next time you have that awful, gaping hole in your home because a beloved pet has passed away, or whenever you’re next ready to add a new fuzzy family member … adopt. Visit your local shelter, contact your local rescue, check Petfinder …  adopt an animal who truly needs YOU. And please consider those most in need … an older/adult animal. It’s a special gift to you both.

Merry Christmas!

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It’s a tough job …

But somebody’s got to do it.

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You never know when she might come back out
and need the engine nice and warm.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are times when we, as bloggers, have nothing to say. That is rarely my problem. There are times when we have so much to say, we don’t know where to start. Getting warmer. Or so much to say and we don’t know if we should say it. Bingo.

So my main excuse for not posting is pictured at left.

Gypsy Rose, one of my cats, is not doing well. She has an incurable illness, something in her brain such as cancer, a tumor, etc. that only a $900 – $1800 cat MRI would reveal. We are treating her symptomatically, (as would be the case even if we did have a precise diagnosis, as brain surgery isn’t a viable alternative on a cat, or at least this one), and rather successfully, until recently, when she began to not do so well.

The vet and I are trying an adjustment in her medication to see if that will help her.

Either way, an animal with ups and downs every day is a reminder that we cannot control life and death; we cannot make any being stay longer than it is their time to spend, no matter how good our intentions; it is a reminder that we are human and have engaged in a relationship with an animal who looks to us to always make the right decision for them.

That time has not yet come for little Miss Rose, but I believe if she … and any of my other animals, past and present, could say so, they would say they always felt safest in my hands. Or at least I’d like to think so.

But so as not to be overly serious, (or premature), in what may come in the days, weeks or months ahead, I offer a favorite cat quote in a lighter vein:

The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer.  ~Paula Poundstone

But maybe to the heart of the matter …

The dog may be wonderful prose, but only the cat is poetry.  ~French Proverb

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Claude-UnderDRchair2Now tell me … is the sun really all that much better under the dining room chair?

One of the things we love about dogs is that they are straightforward. Pretty much what you see is what you get. But cats? they trump most animals in the category of inscrutable, the kings and queens of unfathomable motives. With a wide swath of carpet bathed in sunlight this morning, Claude chose to slink himself in between the chair rails and sat there for quite some time. After a bit, he curled up in that spot and fell asleep.

Of course, when he’s a wide open book is when he hears the electronic ignition of the gas stove click because that means cat food might be warming up. In this case, it’s a small breakfast for one of my neighbor’s cats whose day is not started without breakfast chez Jeanne. I also ponder … why, when Claude, for whatever reason, feels a need to throw up, must he make a mad dash to do so on the upstairs wall-to-wall carpeting? Is throwing up anywhere where I could easily clean it up never part of the equation?

Why has drinking water become an occasion for caterwauling at any time of day or night? OK – I might cut him a little slack on this one because he is in the beginning stages of kidney failure, and maybe his kidneys are aching for water? Sounds good, but I doubt it. When I lean down the stairs with a very loud SSSHHHHhhhhhhh! he stops immediately, as if Cher herself, a la Moonstruck, just slapped him and said “Snap out of it!”  My alternative theory is senility. But again … it may just be one of those things that cats do for reasons even they can’t fathom. Lucky for him, he has many other redeeming qualities including being cute as a button.

Gypsy-AtWindow2Now Gypsy Rose never shows her hand in the slightest bit. Whatever she’s thinking? You don’t know until she acts, like when, out of the blue, she just smacks Claude for apparently nothing. And then walks away.

So while he’s being silly under the dining room chair, she simply looks at him with disdain then returns her gaze to her kingdom, (queendom?), on the other side of the window. She has bigger fish to fry, like making our world safe from renegade cats that might walk across the porch. Lucky for them they’re beyond her reach.

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Finally! Work subsided sufficiently that my blogging brain returned and I knew what I was going to write for a post as soon as I got the chance. But in the meantime, something else happened.

 

In the afternoon, the western sun bathes my office and upstairs bedrooms in warmth and light. Great in cooler weather, not so much in the summer. Anyway, about noon or so each day I go upstairs and open all the windows facing that way so as to soak up as much heat as possible to stave off the chill of the cooler autumn evenings and nights. In the back bedroom, Claude was soaking up that sun on top of a piece of furniture, too, but seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was being closely watched!

Then he realized … it moved! As I moved with my camera, the praying mantis got into prayer/attack position and rotated his head to keep an eye on me. Claude was interested only when he moved, which I suspect has something to do with an animal’s depth perception or ability to comprehend something on the other side of both screen and glass.

These creatures are so bizarre looking, but so fascinating. If they are symbols of good luck, which has been said to me, then I ought to be in for one big bucket-o-luck anytime soon!

Claude, below, not quite knowing what to make of this slow-moving creature. (I’ll get to that other post real soon. This was too good to pass up!)

 

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