Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dora the Huntress

This was far and away their favorite toy.

My Little Pretty

A dorky little stuffed bird with a couple of chicken feathers on it, tied to a plastic stick by an elastic cord. I'd dangle and 'fly' it over their heads and they'd leap straight up, all claws and teeth. It's what I used for the 'Air Dora' shots.

They would see me get it out of the cupboard (I had to hide it) and they would immediately start following me, waiting to pounce.

Tonight they broke the elastic cord. Dora is still ripping it apart. She ran victory laps around the house with the damned thing. I'm serious. My pretty little Grrl! <sigh>

Needless to say, I have more of these toys on order. I can afford it since I certainly won't need mousetraps.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


The collars are off. Dora came into the bathroom last night and plopped down on the floor. I thought she was sick. She let me pet her and didn't squirm or act like she was in pain. She just laid there and looked at me.

Then I saw the problem - her foreleg was caught in her collar. She let me take the collar off and wandered away, none the worse for wear.

I took Alfred's collar off as well.

I guess they're too young for collars. They were only tight enough to keep from slipping over their heads, which apparently left enough room for Miss. Feline Ballerina here to get her leg into.

They have been celebrating by galloping about and literally bouncing off the walls ever since.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cats In My Belfry

The Little Infidels are getting acclimated. A week ago they wouldn't come near me, now they won't stay off of me.

Alfred purrs like crazy. He licks and nibbles. A few 'ows' from me and he seems to be getting the picture that biting me is bad. He's all frantic to be petted - with both hands, thank you - and crawls all over me. He'll sit at my feet and jump up on my lap. I put him down and he just jumps right back up. Takes a few tries if I'm trying to get some work done. And he's learning to be a bit more judicious with his claws when jumping up.

Dora is a snugglebunny. She's learning to purr. She likes to help me type and edit photos. She loves to track - and hunt - the mouse pointer. Sometimes she'll sit on the arm of my desk chair and wait for me to pet her. Other times she just jumps up on my back. Yikes! Once in my arms she'll purr and go to sleep. She loves to help me in the kitchen by making sure that I put the food in the dish just right.

And Dora has gas. Terrible gas. We're talking eye-watering, peel the paint off the walls, industrial strength, banned by the Geneva Convention cat farts. The first time they were both on my lap and I didn't know who to blame. The second time, Alfred was nowhere around.

You know what they say - if there are only two people in an elevator and one farts, everyone knows who did it.

I set up a bouncing ball screensaver on my Linux machine and they immediately went ape. (Do apes go 'cat'?) It works out pretty well: cat jumps up, takes a swipe or two at the ball, steps on a key and the ball goes away for 10 minutes...then we start all over again. Not the most cost-effective cat toy, but hey.

They sleep in the living room on the Sherpa blanket. Their sleep and dinner schedule is gradually syncing up with mine. They have all kinds of little stuffed mice, balls with bells and a little birdie on the end of an elastic string and pole. They love that one. Thankfully, you can get cat toys by the bagful for cheap on Amazon.

Cat Foosball

They still freak if I pick them up and carry them around. But we're workin' on that.

They're still in their collars. Kinda' funny to hear the bells going back and forth. And when it gets quiet I go looking around to see what trouble they're getting into.

Nothing's been broken yet, but a few things have been unplugged.

They are both very photogenic - if I'm patient, use a longish lens and a bounce flash.

Hopefully the blue/violet laser will come tomorrow. (Cats see that end of the spectrum better.)

I may end up investing in one of those cat condo tower things.

Who am I kidding? I'm already trying to figure out what I need to move or get rid of to make room for one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Who needs the Gestapo?

In 1945, shortly after VE Day (but before the fall of Japan) there was an Election in Britain. Winston Churchill, amazingly enough, lost.

Many consider a speech he made, excerpted below, to be a contributing factor in his defeat.

“No Socialist Government conducting the entire life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently-worded expressions of public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance. And this would nip opinion in the bud; it would stop criticism as it reared its head, and it would gather all the power to the supreme party and the party leaders, rising like stately pinnacles above their vast bureaucracies of Civil servants, no longer servants and no longer civil. And where would the ordinary simple folk – the common people, as they like to call them in America – where would they be, once this mighty organism had got them in its grip?”

Pretty strong stuff, but then Sir Winston wasn't exactly known for his delicacy and finesse. The reference to the Gestapo aside, how far off the mark was he? I'm thinking of the freedom-of-speech issues raised by the censorship policies of social media companies like Facebook and Twitter and laws and regulations about so-called hate speech, hate crimes and other thought crimes.

Was Amendment Numero Uno meant to protect 'free, sharp, or violently-worded expressions of public discontent'? I have every reason to believe it was indeed meant to protect exactly that. Yet this is the very thing we're trying to stamp out by things like 'anti-bullying' policies that try to criminalize 'verbal assault'.

I actually need to be careful about what I say.

Let that sink in for a moment. This is the United States, not Cuba, or Iran or Soviet Russia but the United States of America. And I have to be careful about what I say. Not out of fear of offending anyone. I don't really want to offend anyone but if I speak what I think is the truth and it offends, oh well.

But I need to be careful because I may cross some invisible line and have my Twitter or Facebook accounts closed or be prosecuted by the government or some aggrieved party.

I remember the days, long ago, shortly after the Mayflower landed and before people had to leave the comfort of their caves to get coffee...and the internet was the Promised Land of free speech. People all over the world would be able to speak their minds without fear of retribution by oppressive governments or societies.

Yeah...another lie we fell for. I'm actually vaguely uncomfortable calling a spade a spade or even using the expression because someone might take offense. 

Who needs the Gestapo? 

Churchill should never have run for election and instead walked away in 1945 while he was at the top. Instead he ran and lost and ran again in 1951 and won. His family suffered terribly.

But at least he had a chance to warn us what would happen if the feel-good nanny-state and their inevitable thought police took control.

Yay, Sherpa Blanket!

Today was a red-letter day. The little beasties let me pick them up. Alfred was actually jumping up on my lap and wouldn't get down.

I put a Sherpa blanket that I got for Christmas down and they immediately came over and nested. Once they started drifting off to sleep they let me pet them.

Within an hour Alfred insisted on helping me type and Dora was scaling my back.

Of course they're back to acting as if I was a nightmare version of Shrek. But now I'm taking it as personally.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Need For Solitude

This is something I started to realize at a pretty early age but never became literate enough to put into words so well. From Thomas Merton's 'New Seeds of Contemplation':

'Where men live huddled together without true communication, there seems to be greater sharing, and a more genuine communion. But this is not communion, only immersion in the general meaninglessness of countless slogans and clichés repeated over and over again so that in the end one listens without hearing and responds without thinking. The constant din of empty words and machine noises, the endless booming of loudspeakers end by making true communication and true communion almost impossible. Each individual in the mass is insulated by thick layers of insensibility. He doesn’t care, he doesn’t hear, he doesn’t think. He does not act, he is pushed. He does not talk, he produces conventional sounds when stimulated by the appropriate noises. He does not think, he secretes clichés.'

His point wasn't so much to depress his readers but to put his finger on the problem. And in that I think he succeeded.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cat News from Der Bunker

Dora and Alfred are doing well. Dora's the bold one. She trots around me like a bird that swoops closer and closer until it's sure you aren't going to eat it. I assured Dora that my pressure cooker doesn't have a 'Cat' setting. She's still skeptical. She climbs up on stuff and watches me. She still runs when I get up but not as far or as fast. She hangs out in the living room until she gets bored and then trots off.

And Alfred? Alfred's just a sissy. He hides and lets sis take all the risks and then peeks around the corner to see what he can get. This picture sums it up. Dora out front, Alfred waiting to see what happens to Dora.

They found a way into my box springs. I sleep on an infidel hideout. Good thing for them I don't jump into bed.

They have this thing where they get their paws wet in the sink or the tub and then leave muddy pawprints all over. 

Changing the litterbox assured me their appetite and digestive systems are working just fine.  I didn't weigh it, but it felt as if they each generated their own weight in waste in less than a week.

We play laser 'bug' at night and they get treats. Oh, they love those little soft cat treats.

They came with toys and the laser pointer and I got them a soft-sided carrier and collars. I'm being optimistic with the collars.

I'll let you know how the catnip oil spray works out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Kitty Update

It's pretty obvious I'm here for these cats, not the other way 'round. And I'm ok with that. As the saying goes, 'If you want a friend, get a dog'.

I've held each of them for a few minutes. He's cuddly and purrs and does all the cute kitty things until I walk away, then he bolts and hides. She's a little more aloof and seems to be counting the seconds until she can get the heck away from me. 

But I'm used to that.

They're both strong and agile. She's the explorer and climber. I might call Her Dora. Both 'get' claws and don't scratch, only extending their claws enough to hang on to my clothes. I'm still amazed how cats do that. And neither bites. Yay!

No pictures yet. My main concern right now is for them to relax enough not hide like outlaws in the Sheriff's house with all the dust bunnies.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Roomies

For my birthday my stepdaughter got me two 'rescue cats'. My understanding is that they were found behind a strip of stores. They're about 6 months old and seem to have very little use for people, at least me. I've held Benedict for a few minutes, but he shivers and runs off when I put him down. I have yet to dig Scholastica out of her hidie hole.

When I got up this morning I noticed some telltales: Bathroom door partially closed, pawprints in the litterbox and menus open on a couple of my computers from someone stepping on the keyboard. Some cat toys were scattered and it looks like a little food is gone from their dish.

They're babies and they're scared so I'm not too offended. Pictures to follow - as soon as they assent.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Chesterton: The Monk Was Right After All

From G.K. Chesterton's Heretics:

'Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good—” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron ; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to- morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.'

I'd say that sums up our situation quite nicely.

Merton on Not Accepting God's Will

This is from Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation which I'm re-reading more carefully this time around:

'Not to accept and love and do God’s will is to refuse the fullness of my existence.'

'If I never become what I am meant to be, but always remain what I am not, I shall spend eternity contradicting myself by being at once something and nothing, a life that wants to live and is dead, a death that wants to be dead and cannot quite achieve its own death because it still has to exist.'

I wonder how many of us have felt this way and never understood why.