mamculuna: (Mop on a rug)
( Sep. 13th, 2008 09:06 am)
Well, today is the day my sister is moving out of her house, so I'm dogsitting to keep her ancient Schnauzer (Magic) and also my nephew's chow-collie mix (Birdie) from getting under the feet of the movers. I tried to explain to Mop that the dogs were coming, but you know how well cats listen.

I left the dogs in the car while I brought some of their stuff (beds, toys, etc) inside, and left the house door open while I went out to bring the dogs themselves in. Mop took one look and headed out the cat door onto the deck. A little later I saw her sitting on the rail beside the window and then the big dog came up beside me. Mop's eyes got as big as saucers and her ears went straight out to the sides of her head.

Poor kitty--it's going to be a long weekend. She has spent time with them at the beach, but so far hasn't been willing to be in the same room with them, or even on the same level of the house. Fortunately they are very nice dogs who are quite used to cats, so if she ever gets up her courage to get near them, she'll be fine.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Nov. 27th, 2005 10:50 am)
My current reason for little posting of late is the time I'm spending writing, so guess that's good. But I am reading what everyone else is doing, at least, and glad you're mostly all well and entertained. For now, a few updates and then a meme.

Updates: The new cat has acquired a name of sorts--not nearly as elegant as she is. Mop. After rejecting Alice, Sita, Shag, and various other possibilities. She does look like a mop, or maybe a dust bunny. I haven't had a cat like her in quite a while. She totally destroys my old theory of the bitchy calico/tortie and the loud Siamese--she clearly has both, but the dominant strain seems to be the sweet longhair. She has a tiny kitten-like mew, not a Waugh! like Orange or a long whine like Fernie. She's Not Interested in going outside--she can see it all perfectly well from a nice window, thank you. She'd not territorial. BC, our feral but cuddly outside cat, occasionally comes in for a brief turn around the living room or kitchen. Mop barely opens her eyes to see the intruder, and doesn't react at all. BC watches her in terror, oddly, since BC is one tough cookie and has beat up some truly warlike cats in her time, and made both my former cats, Fernie and Orange, dance to her tune. But not Mop. Mop also is a faucet drinker, her only difficult trait, and while she's very sweet is not the big-time purrer that my other cats have been. I think I had a longhaired white cat a while back with this same laidback style. Now we have to find a way to teach her to love travel, and she'll be a very serviceable cat.

Alice the book is also behaving well, or at least appearing on demand. For which I'm thankful. And even more thankful for my Faithful Reader(s?)!

My garden has definitely taken a turn for the better. I (with the help of Elmer who works for pay but clearly feels a lot of pride in our accomplishment) have cleared out lots of blackberries and cherry laurel and general junk, and planted many nice things: pyracantha, Chinese fringe tree, some kind of jasmine ground cover, a couple of oak-leaf hydrangeas and one blue regular one, several Indian hawthornes that hopefully will grow up in front of the somewhat leggy boxwoods, and a lovely pink sasanqua. Also some collards and herbs, and moved some wild roses, iris, and day lilies. And put nice pinestraw beds around it all. Elmer likes nice geometrically straight lines, so I don't have the curves that are so in fashion in landscaping these days, but really that's just the pinestraw--I can make curves later if I crave them. I really think he got a kick out of seeing it all finished, and I was glad. Life is hard for him, but somehow he's still surviving and not in bad trouble--a good achievement for an uneducated black man of our generation. When he comes by again, I'm going to try to get him out of trouble with the food stamp people, and possibly even on disability--he's at least 50 and has had one stroke, he says.

I am reading some books on history--Ireland, Vietnam War, SC--but also Son of a Witch which so far is fun, almost as much as Wicked, of which it's the sequel. Started but didn't love City of Falling Angels although I do love Venice. Have not yet seen the new Harry Potter--maybe tomorrow.

Yoga is coming along. I've done quite a few assisted handstands, and still have hopes of achieving my ambition to do one unassisted by the end of the year. And tiny progress on the wheel (backbend): can now get my head a couple of inches off the floor. Tomorrow I'm totally indulging myself in a private lesson to work on both. More later, on that.

And now I can start thinking about Christmas lights on the small tree out front. So beautiful when done, such a pain in the doing.

ETA: Forgot the Five Simple Pleasures Meme, ganked from [ profile] midnightsjane:Name 5 of life's simple pleasures, then pick 5 people to do the same. Try to be original and creative and not to use things that someone else has already used. Tag 5 people on your list.

1. Chai tea with lots of ginger and pepper and cardamom, and rich whole milk, on a cold afternoon.
2. Waking up on my own with no alarm clock and no rush to get up.
3. A fresh, unstarted NYT crossword puzzle.
4. Hot roasted oysters and a little glass of single-malt Scotch.
5. Reading a short-short story by my nephew, all grown up and writing fantasy

I'm tagging whoever has some pleasures to share.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Nov. 14th, 2005 03:38 pm)
Well, as you might have guessed, if you remember me mentioning a stray cat hanging around, I now have a cat, or should I say a cat has me. This picture's not great--my camera is misbehaving--but it'll give you a vague idea of how lovely she is.

She was so devoted to being an inside cat, barely going out to go to the bathroom, and she didn't seem well at the time. Actually, the vet said her only problem was fleas and some bad teeth (a few bad molars) which are now out (and she's currently in lurk-under-the-bed mode until the pain and/or anesthetic wears off), so she will be fine. She has no name, currently, but will develop one eventually. Bill does not like naming cats "fancy" names, so she'll become something like Fernie or Orange or BC, our previous and current cats, but that's fine.

The big problem is what will happen when we spend a long time in Chicago--she may have to learn to fly, or else maybe we'll find a house sitter. But I couldn't see leaving her by herself in the woods.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 12th, 2005 05:09 pm)
Here are some kitten pictures, at last--though sadly I had to leave them behind in California.

kittens )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 8th, 2005 01:44 pm)
Still living and eating well in California--Thursday night at Gombei in Menlo Park with [ profile] oyceter and [ profile] masqthephlsphr and [ profile] fannishly. It's a very good Japanese restaurant (intended to save some of the excellent unagi to bring home to D (my son's partner and my host here), but sigh, no will power when it come to good food). Many thanks to Masq for excellent driving under trying circumstances, and to all three for a pleasant evening.

Friday, went with D's stepmother to work on restoring the gardens at Alcatraz. She works with historical gardening, so it's a real delight to spend time with her and to learn about the plants and the history of the place. You can see some tiny picture and read just a bit at:

From some angles, Alcatraz looks like a Greek Island, with old white ruins, high cliffs, and the sea straight down. It had no soil originally, and space had to be blasted and soil hauled in by the soldiers who were quartered there (originally to defend against Confederate invaders!) Then inmates later on worked with guards, but also had their own gardens.

Then my younger son and I went to the new Museum of Asian Art in SF. It's such a well-done museum, with such rich detail, that I can never see more than one section at a time--this time it was China, esp. the very old, pre-Buddhist section, and the wonderful jade. But the Chinese Buddhist section is fascinating, too. I'd already done the South Asian part--am saving the Himalayas for a later time, as well as Korea and Japan.

We ate lunch at a wonderful Vietnamese place called Tu Lan on 7th street (I think)--great spicy beef soop and spring rolls, yummy.

Trying to complete the baby sweater and hat by tonight to give to the mom to be before I leave (she's my friend's daughter, the one who got married in Italy last year). Baby may get here first!

T and D's new cats (or kittens, I think) have names: Ronin and Bandito. I will try posting a picture in a bit, if my camera works for once. The plan is to let them explore the whole house this weekend, after a week in the bedroom. The room's so much bigger than the cage they were in at the Humane Society that they seem quite happy, but interested in seeing even more.

I'm loving it here so much, the lovely bright sun (although foggy on Alcatraz!), the good walking and strenuous climb back home, getting my leg muscles back in shape, the fun stores, restaurants, street fairs, and new kittens--and the quiet good times with D while his partner T (my son) is working in LA. PRaise to D! This has been the equivalent of having his mother-in-law visit for two weeks, but he's been the soul of graciousness and good humor, happily including me in things, never showing that he felt cramped by my presence. I was never that great with my mother-in-law, though I loved her dearly. I spent weeks in her house, but always chafed at the differences. Maybe there's less conflict with different genders, or maybe D is just nicer than me! Not hard.

But will be glad to get back to fall in the South too--still not too late for one last swim if the weather's good; the leaves will be changing, and I miss my friends, my own yoga teacher, my Buddhist group, my house, my car, my part-time cat.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 23rd, 2005 07:09 pm)
Good-bye to my dear old Orange, the sweetest of cats.

He was pretty much OK this morning, even ate a little breakfast. He went out in the afternoon to sit on the neighbors' porch--they've always fed him, even after he moved in with us. At about 4, their son found him dead on the porch. It must have been quick--maybe a heart attack or stroke. He'd been nauseated off and on for the past few weeks, but recovered fairly quickly. He had some nice rare roast beef last night and relished it. A good death, considering the options.

But he was a very good cat. He wasn't a hunter, and didn't defend territory. He purred so easily, and meowed so rarely, humbly glad to take whatever was given him, and to give all the love he can.

Sleep sweetly, Anaranjado.

mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 22nd, 2005 10:13 am)
For all you cat owners out there, this may be interesting. Non-cat folk may or may not wish to skip this:

Interesting question. Have to admit that for an animal communication guy I don't know a ton about cats. So I did a little looking in animal behavior journals. As per usual for domestic animals, not a whole lot of research has been done. I was able to find that domestic cats do make "meows" to other cats, though relatively rarely. Looks like the general consensus is that there are actually many types of meow, though most are associated with negative affect. Meows vary in tone, pacing, length, amplitude and punctuation.The most common is a "frustration meow" which seems to express low level displeasure or unfufilled need. "Feed me", "pet me", "pick me up", that type of thing. They may also have aggressive meows, hunting meows, and mother to kitten meows. According to Katherine Houpt from Cornell, cats have a subtle but persistent sociality. Given a choice, they prefer to hang out with other cats (though at a bit of distance) and many of their calls serve a function in this environment - primarily spacing, interacting with family, and dominance. There's also a chance that meows have been bred for in recent artificial selection since they offer a pretty good way of interacting with human care givers. Certainly people reinforce meows by trying desperately to shut cats up ("Have some food? No? Want a pet? No? Water? No?! Arrrgghh!!!"). In this context it probably does begin as a kitten's frustration mew that becomes more specialized or given individualized "tweaks".

This is from my wonderful nephew Jason, whose Ph.D. in psychologoy was in animal commuication, though his specialities are primates and birds. However, he and I have shared acquaintance with a number of cats over the years, and known them maybe even too well (a certain Duchess comes to mind!) as his final comments demonstrate.

Of course now I'm wondering how to account for the vocal differences in calicos, Siamese, Persians, and gruff old cats like my own Orange/Anaranjado, who limits himself to one "Waugh!" each morning to bring me down to open the can and is silent otherwise, even to the point of just sitting and looking at a closed door. But since Jason was kind enough to do actual research in response to my query, I'm not going to trouble him with this stuff--I'll just keep spinning my groundless theories (or, hmmm, I actually know how libraries work, too, don't I?)

This whole thing arose from a discussion with [ profile] redredshoes (in a post I can no longer find) about whether cats meow to each other or use that sound only for humans. According to this, there was some validity in both our ideas.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Feb. 19th, 2005 10:18 pm)
Thanks to everyone for your concern about Orange. I don't know if the medicine is working or if he's just naturally getting better, but today he doesn't seem to be in much pain (not yowling, anyway) and is able to walk a little without falling down. His back legs are still a little strange--he kind of waddles, but he gets to the food dish, and that's what he cares about. He's old and won't ever be a kitten again, but if he's comfortable, I'm happy. He wants to go out and sit in the sun, and we'll probably let him go tomorrow, because it's a safe place.

Thanks again--it's really nice to know that everyone cares so much about him. I suspect he felt the good wishes coming his way, and he sends many purrs in return.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Feb. 18th, 2005 10:23 pm)
My cat Orange had some kind of health crisis today and we rushed him off to the vet. He came through the cat door and started wailing in this terrible low throaty yowl, over and over, even after we came in to see what he wanted, then staggered about ten feet and flopped down. He kept licking his lips but would't eat or drink or do anything, just lay there. Eventually he got up and staggered and fell again, so we took him in, making it through rush hour just in time to get there before the vet closed. Orange is a very old cat--we have no idea how old--and clearly arthritic in the hind legs, but we thought maybe he was having a stroke or a slipped disk or some other horrible thing. By the time we got there he was a bit better, still not walking well. The vet took his blood pressure (had to shave a little of his tail fur--if you're not scared to death, it's pretty funny to see a little kitty blood pressure cuff around a tail, especially on a dignified old cat)and he was fine. She poked around and looked at his stomach and paws and legs--nothing wrong that she could see. She gave him some kind of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory stuff made from milk, said she thought the problem was something to do with his spine, probably some nerves maybe pressing against a vertebra. Ouch. But she said he wasn't in extreme pain. By the time we got home, he was walking ok, and can now jump up on chairs.

We don't dare let him out the cat door, and he's very frustrated. But did deign to use the litter box, which we put right in front of the locked cat door to make everything clear. Incarceration won't be too hard on him since he sleeps 23 1/2 hours a day, taking only very brief food, bathroom, and purr breaks.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jan. 3rd, 2005 12:01 am)
You've seen her before, but here's the party girl )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 27th, 2004 04:03 pm)
Also, my cat's new look. She's going clubbing:
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 11th, 2004 01:21 pm)
So here are questions from [ profile] ladystarlightsj and my answers:

Click me! )

So let me know if you--anyone--want questions from me.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Aug. 23rd, 2004 11:43 am)
Well, not much. Still not unpacked--that's not just all the stuff I took to Italy in June and Chicago for the rest of the summer, but also all the boxes of stuff I put away to give the sitter some shelf space.

more on my so-called life )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Apr. 25th, 2004 11:38 pm)
Sitting on the couch reading my Italy books and trying to figure out the Milan ATM system (I like to deal with the yucky parts of travel while I'm still here--but I'll still get lost), I heard a lot of slurping and banging of food dish from the porch where our outside cat eats. She's not such a lady, but still she has those dainty cat nibbling ways, so I thought this must be someone else. When I turned on the light, I saw a huge possum--not fazed at all by the light and not pausing in its snack. S/he was lots bigger than the cats, even Orange (our 15 pounder), and looked more tan than grey. The nose and tail didn't look pink like those I see deceased on the road, and when s/he finally lumbered away, I could see no fur on the very back with a very raw looking place, kind of like the things cats with flea allergies get. Poor thing. I googled and read that possums don't usually fight people or cats, aren't very destructive, and rarely carry rabies. Hope all that's true. Still, I was glad I have appointments tomorrow to take both cats for shots--even though I'd probably rather try to wrestle the possum into a cage than BC, the outside cat.

I've seen them for years in the trees and beside the street, but never before so up close and personal. After this, BC gets fed only in the morning.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 13th, 2003 10:14 pm)
So this was a good one, even if cold and rainy. My yoga teacher moved into her own studio, and we had the first class there and then a party to celebrate the new space, which is gorgeous--Morroscan theme with stencils and even glass "jewels" on the walls. This woman is incredible--I've taken classes in many big cities and never found anyone like her. She gets me to do things I never thought I could do--like stand on my head. The world is really weird upside down.

Brief interruption while newly rescued cat pees on husband's books and papers. He's a really good cat and really didn't want to, but it's so cold and wet there. Looks like a cat box has to become part of our lives again, even though he PROMISED, when we took him in. Oh, well.


mamculuna: (Default)


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