Caturday: a measure of evil

Titan:
[Tahyt-n]
a person or thing of enormous size, strength, power, influence, etc.
one that is gigantic in size or power, one that stands out for greatness of achievement.
See also: a unit of measure in Hell.

The dog knows to give him a wide berth as he ambles past, but sometimes not quick enough. Pepita instinctively avoids any kind of eye contact, even as he stops to stare at her, trying to decide whether to expend the energy to whap her. In contrast, Tito has the patience of a saint, even as she pokes her nose at him roughly, the little brute.

Pepita can not only be a little rough, she is uncouth: she farted on me as I petted her to calm her down and makes gruesome slurping noises as she licks my toes on my way to the bathroom. I wish it were easier to get up early in the morning to let her run off-leash at the arboretum, but I’m usually dead asleep until 10 am… So she has a lot of pent up energy, which is only reined in by her fear of you-know-who. Aside from cabin fever, she requires a few minutes of greeting when I  come home from work which, if cut a little short, will make Pepi nip at me. Her version of grabbing.  “Come here, you!”

Jenny spends much of her time on our bed these days, a very welcome change from our days in the City. And so does Tito, who spends most night at the foot of the bed sound asleep. Two things will make Jenny growl at the window: the neighbor coming home and the groundskeepers’ cherry picker.

Calm and patient Tito
Calm and patient Tito
Miss Jenny only moments after snarling at the neighbor
Miss Jenny only moments after snarling at the neighbor
Titanescu perfecting his aura of evilness.
Titanescu perfecting his aura of evilness.
Pepi knows that Titanescu is walking by and she won't look
Pepi knows that Titanescu is walking by and she won’t look

And now for something different


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The Markham arboretum in glorious Spring colors

What a difference a few storms made at the Markham arboretum, now wearing its vibrant Spring blues, greens and reds from blade of grass to treetop. The Galindo Creek meandering through the gardens remains a few feet at its deepest, hummingbirds have begun their courtships, but the countdown to summer has already begun.

Markham Arboretum
Markham Arboretum

The following photos were all taken yesterday during the course of a single walk through, taking advantage of the blooms we waited months to see. There were over twenty of them, so we decided to arrange them in a slide show for convenience. Below, that, you’ll find a short video of Anna’s hummingbirds courting.


The female hummingbird perched at the very top of a tree, is being buzzed by a male. The chirping sound you hear as he passes by is made by fanning out his tail feathers.


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Caturday: Gone to the dog

No matter how much you watch them, if your dog is the type to eat anything, you may be in for the occasional rough night. Pepita’s a hoover-dog, meaning she’ll ingest virtually anything, given the chance, and a couple days ago now, she ate a piece of blanket she’d torn off. This was bad news. That piece of cloth created a gastric obstruction, which she tried to dislodge as dogs do, by eating grass and drinking lots of water. She managed to hoark up the cloth, but was still in distress.

The grass she ate went nowhere and sat in her gut, compacting in her stomach. We hauled her to the local emergency vet clinic, where she stayed well into the next day. Now as some of you know, Rudha-an is a great dog (and cat) mom, with awesome friends who aren’t just supportive but extremely helpful in dire situations The A-team. From actionable advice to offers of financial assistance, these women were a lot of help getting through this patch. Thanks to many people, but especially Rudha-an, Pepi is now recovering at home. The amount of texts, emails and phone calls to individuals and card companies was even more amazing since Rudha-an is recovering slowly from an ear infection triggered by the flu (it has been a trying month and a half for the crew of the Endurance and friends).

Waiting at the vet's office
In the waiting room
Poor Pepi in the exam room looking a bit scared
Poor Pepi in the exam room looking a bit scared
That funky mass at the end of the arrow is her stomach full of grass. The black stuff to the right was gas.
That funky mass at the end of the arrow is her stomach full of grass. The black stuff to the right was gas.
And here is just part of what they removed. No wonder she was in distress
And here is just part of what they removed. No wonder she was in distress

While she was gone overnight, even Titanescu seemed to be looking for Pepi, and Tito came to our bed for comfort.
We spent part of the day waiting at the Markham Arboretum in Concord, walking off some tension, hoping to get Pepi out there again soon, but we weren’t sure how the endoscopy would turn out.

Magnolias
Magnolias
Dark-eyed junco (male)
Dark-eyed junco (male)
Blossoms
Blossoms
Ivy and roots
Ivy and roots
Magnolia
Magnolia
Wild turkey
Wild turkey

Later that afternoon,when the nurse brought her out to come home with us, the look of relief on Pepi’s little worried face and her attempts to leap from the nurse’s arms were worth everything, and we were happy to submit to ten minutes of frantic licking.

Are we REALLY going home?
Are we REALLY going home?
Pepi and her flatulent hedgehog
Pepi and her flatulent hedgehog

This is from yesterday.

The kitties will return next week, provided a piano doesn’t fall out of the sky and land on us.


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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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