Caturday: Pulling for Renfield

We’re sitting around worried about a little nakie named Renfield. He’s a housemate to our friend Nofuratu and came down with sudden onset ataxia, which means he’s dizzy and falling over a lot. His humans took him for testing but they still aren’t certain what the cause is. We’re sending all our healing thoughts and lots of love to Renfield and his family.

Titanescu's message for Renfield: оставаться сильным мало одного
Titanescu’s message for Renfield: оставаться сильным мало одного
Renfield, who's talent is catching the elusive sky raisins (flies). He does try to live up to his name.
Renfield, who’s amazing talent is catching the elusive sky raisins (flies). He does try to live up to his name. Photo used by permission
Miss Jenny sharing a sunbeam with Titanescu
Miss Jenny sharing a sunbeam with Titanescu
Tito contemplating the sunbeam
Tito contemplating the sunbeam
Pepita is happy. We got her a new farty sounding hedgehog toy.
Pepita is happy. We got her a new farty sounding hedgehog toy.

As we wait anxiously for news of Renfield, this Caturday rolls on with Titanescu and his “food rules”. After however many years spent in prison, getting food in certain amounts and at fixed times, old “Iron Beans” enjoys his freedom by laying claim to whatever’s edible inside the Endurance.
Which means the dog’s bowl as of late…
Poor Pepi gives him a wide berth, even as he ambles slowly but purposefully towards her dish. He’ll dig in, look up at her, then us, and dig in again. That old gangster would stare down that wall, Mister Reagan…


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Winter rolls on with another birthday

To Julie.

Often enough, we wander into each other’s head, without knocking. One will say out loud something the other is thinking, which, after 15 years is natural.
We do have many references in common, despite our completely different backgrounds,which makes us laugh at the same things and then there’s our “shorthand”, those terms we both adopted after one came up with it, seemingly at random, terms which would have other people scratching their head if we used them in their presence. Our terms.
Rude terms, like “foufoune” (don’t ask)…

But as comfortable as we are walking in and out of each other’s consciousness in slippers, we don’t tend to finish each other’s sentences. In the exact same way that when the world’s stress fractures begin to appear, the other doesn’t try to fix it, it’s the bonding that mends the frayed spots on the fabric of life.


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Mount Diablo: rock of Doom

They say Mount Diablo got its name from a WTF moment in local lore, dating back from the early 19th century. In 1805, a small contingent of Spanish troops encircled a group of Native Americans, who managed to disappear without a trace using their evidently superior knowledge of the land. It’s only natural that the people who brought us the Inquisition decided the Devil was at play, and so they named the place Monte del Diablo, which some translate as Thicket of the Devil. Later, monte was mistakenly translated as mount and thus the mountain gained its current name.

As the crow flies, we now live about five miles or so from Mount Diablo, which makes it a semi-regular destination for us. On weekdays, when most folks are at work, the drive to the top is fairly relaxed and fun. I say fairly relaxed because you still have to pay close attention to other traffic, bicyclists in particular, especially near blind curves. As well, along some stretches, the road drops off abruptly, which causes fearful drivers to wander across the median dangerously.

The fun comes from spotting wildlife and the play of light on distant hills, which offers quite a spectacle on overcast and stormy days. On the drive to the top, there are many spots where to pull over and take in the sights, some with tables, benches and grills, even. From there, it is easy to see how much concealment the terrain offers wildlife or the unfortunate injured hiker at times. As close to “civilization” as Mount Diablo is, and as unimposing its elevation may appear at 3849 feet, the park’s 20.000 acres is deceptively smooth and tranquil. But just as Mount Tamalpais and its potentially treacherous Cascade Falls trail has risks, so does Diablo. And this is due in large part to both traffic and complacency.

Some of the photos in this blog post were taken as a storm system was moving through the area, giving you a sense of the textures the park offers and why it has become one of our favorites. It never fails to remind me of “Picnic at Hanging Rock”…


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Rainy days are here again and Pepi gets her licks in

Rudha-an here: Yes, rainy days are back! We had a doozy on Sunday with heavy rain and wind. It didn’t last long, but it was good. Thanks to the rain, we’re having to take Pepi for her walks along the canal instead of on Lime Ridge (too muddy). We don’t mind and she doesn’t either. These rainy days are turning the ridge green again.

The canal trail runs parallel to Lime Ridge. With all the rain, it has been to muddy to walk there. The canal trail is paved.
The canal trail runs parallel to Lime Ridge and is paved.

And now, back to Lastech

As we learned during our semi-annual “move out”, the feline crew of the Endurance doesn’t cotton to being in a moving vehicle. Titanescu is disturbed the least, while Jenny will remain in hiding, or crap on the bed. Tito is somewhere in between, but doesn’t like it either. Some catonauts…

On the plus side, they’re all doing rather well in our collective cramped quarters, with Tito continuing to socialize Pepita, Titanescu lazing his days away in bed, and Jenny occasionally romping with Tito for some needed exercise. Pepi is still too rambunctious and puppy-rough to be completely let loose just yet.

Tough though he is, Titanescu’s getting frail in his old age, and Jenny is still a bit freaked out by the yipping yodeler. Two things will help in the near future: getting Pepi spayed and following that with more training and gradual socialization with other dogs, which we can’t really allow for the time being. Pepi is shedding her puppy fat, what with her being about four months older than when we found her, and getting some outdoor exercise. The parks and open spaces are so exciting! So many scents to read! She has no issues riding in the car, although she gets squirmy when she needs to go take care of business, or if there’s a lot of movement outside, from pedestrians to birds and anything in between.

Jenny’s fur is now soft as Tito’s, which feels like silk. Looking at photos of her as a kitten, it’s amazing how her colors changed. From almost completely white to mottled gray/brown, sable and black. Poor old Titanescu’s fur clumps, so he just pulls at them and spits them out…

Tito being calm, as usual
Tito being calm, as usual
Miss Jenny posing with a new refrigerator magnet that we got from our friend Nofuratu The Naked Cat.
Miss Jenny posing with a new refrigerator magnet that we got from our friend Nofuratu The Naked Cat.
Titanescu catching some zzzzzzzs
Titanescu catching some zzzzzzzs
Pepi playing tug of war with the strap we used to extend her leash. She spends time outside with us when we're grilling. It's long enough for her to explore the porch.
Pepi playing tug of war with the strap we used to extend her leash. She spends time outside with us when we’re grilling. It’s long enough for her to explore the porch.

Here’s a little vid that Google+ made from pics of the nearby arboretum

As for Pepita,she welcomes me from work every morning with a frantic tongue bath which sounds, well, really NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Be warned. But laugh…

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When the feral turns fecal and the PITA grows major…

A riddle in a crap-doodle. Miss Jenny, our feral, decided to take a dump on our bed twice about three weeks ago. Technically, she left it there, but the point is we were scratching our head while pinching our nose.

Miss Jenny looking quite innocent
Miss Jenny looking quite innocent

Cats dislike change and recently, we had been moving the trailer, moving the dog crate and litter box, so these were things to consider.

Right about the same time, Pepita went into heat, so it is entirely possible Jenny decided to mask the dog smells with her own. We’ve been giving Jenny as much attention as we have been able to, in order to reassure her feral little soul. Naturally, Pepita’s timing meant we have to reschedule her trip to the vet to get her spayed. We’ve also purchased dog diapers to alleviate the need for constant laundry washing.

Tired doggie. It was also Pepita's first day in heat and she wasn't liking it at all.
Tired doggie. It was also Pepita’s first day in heat and she wasn’t liking it at all.

They both gave new meaning to the expression ” I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers”. Challenges seldom come in onesies, however, as the Endurance life support systems also went haywire. Water pressure went down to little more than a trickle,  just as the furnace plain stopped working. As a temporary measure, the chief engineer cut cardboard inserts to mask the ceiling vents. This netted about ten degrees at night. Further research showed how inefficient and wasteful RV furnaces are, and we’ll be looking at alternatives shortly, before rain storms begin in earnest.

The water pressure issue was easier to identify and resolve. It was due to a clogged filter which was faulty from the factory. We switched to a spare filter which resolved the problem.

Elsewhere, progress: Tito continues to cozy up to Pepita, who herself is deciding that cats aren’t a bad sort after all. Their encounters now involve more gentle slapping, sniffing, licking, biting on the dog’s throat (but gently) and decidedly non-aggressive staring. Pepita is becoming calmer, even as she yearns for “boys”. Ever so slowly, she is finding her place, even as the catonauts themselves are getting accustomed to life aboard the Endurance.

Tito being his normal sweet self.
Tito being his normal sweet self.

Titanescu remains the curmudgeon from hell and continues to direct his stinkeye and ire at Pepi.

Titanescu and his resting stinkeye
Titanescu and his resting stinkeye

Oh, but those diapers? That lasted about four minutes tops, before she Tasmanian-deviled her way out of that…

diaper

Rudha-an here: Given the horrible events of the last week, I thought some joy was in order.

We've had some rain. There's a lovely green haze starting up on our hills
We’ve had some rain. There’s a lovely green haze starting up on our hills
This is how close Lime Ridge is to us. The arrow points at Costco. We live across the street from it (to the right, in the photo). You can't see our park because of the trees. It's less than a mile away, but with a large rail yard in the way, we have to drive  a longer distance to get there.
This is how close Lime Ridge is to us. The arrow points at Costco. We live across the street from it (to the right, in the photo). You can’t see our park because of the trees. It’s less than a mile away, but with a large rail yard in the way, we have to drive a longer distance to get there.

<Someone needs to quit chopping onions already>

And now for the other end of the age spectrum.


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Caturday: Endurance’s 1st orbital mission

This week the crew of the Endurance spent 36 hours under “flight conditions”: restricted space (trailer slide in) and environmental controls at minimum (running on battery power and partial water tank). The catonauts handled stress fairly well, thanks in large part to Feliway.

All three sought to spend time under covers since their favored “fort”, under the couch was greatly reduced by the trailer slide being pulled in. Traffic noise was also much greater and put them on edge a bit. Pepita required more exercise than usual to take the “edge” off, but the entire crew did very well otherwise. As usual for Tito, he would defer to Titanescu and Jenny, letting them eat first and claim humans’ laps before he would.

Tito also checked regularly on Pepita on his rounds. As for Jenny, unless she went straight for a spot under a tented cover between our knees, she would pace slowly back and forth between the pillows and the wall, purring and rubbing against us. Titan mostly slept through it all…

As time goes on, it seems clearer that they are happier here in the more confined space of the trailer than at the old apartment. And much of that I think has to do with the environment, which is quieter and allows them to enjoy more air moving through, and even more direct sunlight, through the screen door or skylight. They raise their head up to sniff at the breeze and go right back to their nap, apparently very contentedly.

The addition of Pepita to the crew may even have helped in some way. Jenny, in particular, is seen more than she was at the old apartment, where she tended to hide in a cupboard. While she still has some spots where she could hide if she wanted to, she chooses instead to come visit and spent more time with us on the bed.

Rudha-an here: The little move was harder on Pepita than it was on the cats. She was confined to her crate a lot more than usual. We’ve been trying to make up for that. Oh, and a miracle update. Titanescu still likes to go smack poor Pepi for no reason other than she exists. However, Pepi and Tito touched noses yesterday. They’re coming along nicely. Pepita is a tad too exuberant, so I have to keep her on a leash indoors, so that I can control where she goes. She could injure a cat without intending to do so.

Tito was glad to have the trailer back to normal
Tito was glad to have the trailer back to normal
Miss Jenny still hides under the blankets a bit.
Miss Jenny still hides under the blankets a bit.
Titanescu sleeping with dad. Note Miss Jenny watching from under the blanket
Titanescu sleeping with dad. Note Miss Jenny watching from under the blanket
Pepita is a happy puppy
Pepita is a happy puppy

Yesterday, they trimmed all the mulberry trees. Today we found this.

Mr or Mrs Crow singing the song of their people
Mr or Mrs Crow singing the song of their people

Now for a bit of Halloween fun

This is just funny. It’s also a brilliant way to get pets adopted. 🙂


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Requiem: in praise of the Vampir

This week, the extended family of pointy eared people observed the passing of Vampir, a good natured soul with a sweet tooth for rodents. Much like one of the characters from “what we do in the shadows”, Vampir roomed with Nofuratu, Count, Vlad, Captain Darling and Renfield.  Renfield,  who follows in Vampir’s footsteps as a great mouser.

A powerful hunger
Renfield’s powerful hunger

I can easily picture Vampir’s handsome ears and glorious whiskers twitching in the dark, as the “doomed” mice scurried about. His casually interested eyes suddenly waning like a total lunar eclipse before the sacrifice.

Vampir at rest
Vampir at rest

A creature of both darkness and light, Vampir occasionally enjoyed exposing his six (or was it eight?) nipples to sunlight in between nightly pursuits. The warmth helping him digest sweetbreads just recently consumed.

Vampir's belly roll
Vampir’s belly roll

We celebrate Vampir’s transition to the other side of the bridge, where the sun always shines, the moon is always full and mice are plentiful and slower than molasses in winter. Why work at it so hard, eh?

Goodnight sweet Vampir
Goodnight sweet Vampir


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Caturday: Miss Pepitonescu

They are slowly, very slowly becoming ONE: Miss Pepitonescu, the sixteen legged wonder.

I suspected Tito wants to be Pepita’s boyfriend, but the little stunt he pulled earlier this week was a surprise. At some point in the afternoon, we let Pepita out of her crate to go for a walk. Out came Tito who must have sneaked inside when we left the gate open during the previous walk…

Tito shortly after his release from the cage of doom
Tito shortly after his release from the cage of doom

Rudha-an here: Tito was stuck in the crate with Pepi for at least an hour. LOL Poor kitty. There was no bloodshed, of course. I suspect that there was a lot of licking though.

As for Titan, he’s being Titan by rubbing against the crate, causing Pepita to growl and bark at him. Naturally, he hisses at her when she does, but not in caps like before.

Titanescu following sunbeams
Titanescu following sunbeams

Overall however, there’s much less barking and hissing going on. So to recap, Titan and Jenny spend as much time on the bed with us as they like and for Jenny that means actually more time than ever before. The environment is healthier for all of them: they can lay in the sunshine coming through the screen door or through the skylight and feel air moving through their fur. Titan in particular absolutely loves this.

Jenny sharing a quiet moment with dad.
Jenny sharing a quiet moment with dad.

Pepita is coming along, remaining quiet for hours now between bouts of puppyness…She’s a very sweet little creature and I think Tito, as usual, sensed it first among the other cats.

The human crew is still exhausted from all the extra exercise, walkies at all hours with Pepita, adapting to my working nights again and all the unbearably cute and draining puppy love we’re getting.
Woof.

Pepita loves to go for a ride
Pepita loves to go for a ride

Rudha-an again: Pepi has not yet had an accident inside the trailer. She’s very good. She spends time in the crate, but she also spends a LOT more time out of it. I still keep her on a leash indoors, but that’s so that she doesn’t try to chase the kitties. today, we left her in the crate and made our first foray away together without her. We sat outside to listen. She cried a bit, but settled down quickly. When we got home, she was napping peacefully.

And now, “Jules and Jim” with two cats and a snail.


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Every puddle a book, every turd a story

The Whizzers of Oz…
Puddles and turds, oh my…

Such explorers dogs are… Every time the red heads leave the Endurance for a walk, Pepita dashes out, reading the neighborhood nose to ground. Someone aptly coined the expression “reading the newspaper” and that’s exactly what she does.

Reading the paper
Reading the paper

Hmmm. A middle-aged shepherd mix with a diet slightly too high on protein, suffering from abandonment anxiety and an imperceptible limp in the right hind leg, stopped right here 6 days ago. His owner feeds him table scraps at times, real refried beans mashed in bacon grease, not the canned stuff. But the dog food itself is mostly dried stuff, from a poorly sealed bag making it too soft.

All this and more from a desiccated turd on a sun burnt patch of grass. Sherlock Holmes got nothing on this hound. Much like people have done on the Internet, dogs who never see one another communicate without really interacting, but absolutely need their olfactory landscape like we do good books and foods.

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At the Lime Ridge open space, Pepita stopped dead in her tracks. Could it be? This patch of dead grass around this fire hydrant..! Oh the rich, full characters, their histories,diets and desires! The stories may well be familiar, but they offer all the comfort and affection of a certain edition of “the Count of Monte Cristo” with just a touch of excitement.

You must remember this,
Louis Armstrong was misinformed,
A piss is more than just a piss…

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Caturday: Gimme shelter

Something a little different for this edition of Caturday, wherein we transform the Endurance into more of a shelter…

Well, we weren’t ready, really. We figured that once the crew of the Endurance diminished through -ahem- natural attrition (old age), we could consider the addition of a canine member to the 26 foot craft. Naturally, life works on a different schedule. I was at work a few days ago when I heard dispatch over the radio directing people to an area East of the property pronto. I was third to arrive and found out someone had disposed of a puppy in a dumpster. Yeah, that was about as bad as it sounds.

The infamous recycling dumpster
The infamous recycling dumpster

Whatever their reasons might have been, this was on Labor Day and the trash was going to be picked up early, so it’s not hard to imagine what might have happened if someone had not reported seeing it happen from a distance and called us when they did.

The three of us debated what to do for about six minutes. Four minutes in, the question was who does the pup go home with? Texts were sent, calls placed, and I drew the short straw. Rode the motorcycle thirty miles back to the Endurance, picked up Rudha-an and the Lander, drove back to work and picked up the scared little beastie. The nugget, as we got to call her at first, is a pretty healthy looking Daschund-Beagle mix with a red coat.

The Nugget, as we called her at that point
The Nugget, as we called her at that point

First thing we ordered was a crate, so she and the catonauts could walk around without… Cross-cultural misshaps. A harness and leash allow us to take her for walks, and on those days when temperatures rise above 100 degrees, we pile up in the Lander for a short drive to our local arboretum.

Yes, this is Rudha-an and the pooch at the arboretum
Yes, this is Rudha-an and the pooch at the arboretum

There, the nugget can romp on the shady patches of grass, track through dead leaves and all that good stuff while we keep an eye out for snakes and other dogs. We also started basic obedience training, especially since we found out at the vet that she is neither spayed nor chipped.
After that, we had to find her a name and settled on Pepita, the “little pumpkin seed”, and on those days when the yipping and rambunctiousness get to be a bit much, PITA for short.

Pepita taking a rest after going for a walk
Pepita taking a rest after going for a walk

Naturally, this has been somewhat of a shock to the system for the pointy eared people, who originally executed a strategic retreat under the couch.
By now, they spend more time lounging in view, on the back of the couch or at a window, and occasionally onto the bed when Pepita is in her crate. Tito is much less disturbed than the other two. He has come as close to withing two feet from the pup despite her growling. Tito moves slowly, isn’t fluffed up and doesn’t tense up in fear when we pick him up. By now he is the one she is most accustomed to seeing, and I think he will be key in bridging “cultures”, our ambassador Tito.

Front to back, Tito, Titanescu, and Miss Jenny
Front to back, Tito, Titanescu, and Miss Jenny

Despite the original protests (Attica! Attica! Attica!) all the cats are managing to eat, drink and continue to use the litter box. As for Pepita, she hasn’t had an “accident” indoors, managing to do her business during one of her walks.

This will take time, just as the cats were still getting used to life in the trailer, but we can cautiously say so far, so good.

Miss Jenny and Titanescu having a snuggle
Miss Jenny and Titanescu having a snuggle

Tito spent a couple hours sleeping under covers in bed with me yesterday, while Jenny parked in her spot on the pillows between my head and the wall.

Titanescu comes out more often as well, but wants nothing to do with “собака” (the dog) yet. She barks, he hisses. Still, “war is more than just a bark away” at this point…


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