Snugglepanther!

I believe I’ve mentioned from time to time that Lefty has come a long way from the original raging, fearful bundle of fangs and claws he presented as when we first abdopted him from the yard. He still has his moments of hoomin-suspicion, but for the most part he’s a cheerful, cuddly creature.

His latest favorite pastime is to wait until I lie down on the bed, and then snuggle into my armpit.

I give him skritches and pettings, he gives me purrs. Works for both of us.

Until my fingers get tired and I stop patting. Then he reminds me that he’s still got those claws.

It’s a slow motion slap, taking a good five seconds or more, so I have plenty of time to resume the active cuddling before he makes contact. And even if he reaches me, he doesn’t dig the claws in, just rests them on my cheek–or tangles them into my beard.

Reflective

The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection.

Watanuki isn’t generally one for such introspection, but he’s been known to lapse into the occasional contemplative mood.

Note not just the furrowed (and furry) brow, but also the elegantly crossed paws symbolizing deep thought.

Granted, in his case, it’s likely to be thoughts of mischief and/or thuggery.

But at least he’s thinking, rather than doing.

The Damp Isn’t the Worst of It

You may have heard that it’s been wet in California lately. I’m here to confirm that the rumors are true.

We’ve had rainfall of biblical proportions*.

* Overstatement. It hasn’t rained continuously for forty days and forty nights (though it does feel like it). But there have been record-setting quantities of precipitation, and I suspect that more than a few residents of the Bay Area wish they had built arks.

Yesterday was the worst so far. Not in the quantity so much as in the special effects department. There was just a tiny bit of thunder and lightning* to go along with the rain and hail.

* Understatement. Multiple thunderstorms with massive, multi-second, literally house-shaking rolls of thunder.

We’ve been fortunate (picture me knocking on wood at this point). No flooding (other than a leak in the garage roof, directly over the spot where our phone line comes in), the foundations are still solid, the storm drains in our area are keeping up with the precipitation, and we haven’t lost power.

But I can say with no fear of contradiction that Bay Area felines aren’t used to thunder and don’t have a clue what to do about it.

Hiding seems to be a popular choice. Sachiko and Lefty disappeared into the master bedroom closet the first time the house shook and didn’t reappear until nearly dinnertime. Emeraldas vanished into an undisclosed location and wasn’t seen until this morning.

G’aw curled up in the Rose Cottage in the back yard, tucked his ears under his stomach and appeared to sleep through the afternoon storm.

‘Nuki, self-proclaimed master of the universe, slunk into my office making pitiful meepling noises and required a good fifteen minutes of snuggles before he calmed down enough to sink a couple of claws into my leg.

Kokoro’s been around long enough to have seen and heard it all; she woke up when the thunder hit, looked around, and went back to napping. Smart lady.

To be fair, Bay Area humans aren’t all that great with thunder either. My reaction has been to hold my breath, waiting for the lights to go out. Hypoxia was a real risk.

Reports say we’ve got at least another week of rain. Here’s hoping it doesn’t include thunder.

Ottergirl Strikes

I believe I’ve mentioned before that Kaja and her littermate, Rhubarb, spend most of their time in Maggie’s office, but they do sometimes decide a bit of whole-house exploration is warranted.

I’ve also noted that Kaja’s days as Little Miss Ottergirl, going wherever she otter not* are largely past.

* In particular, it’s been a long, long time since she’s tried to walk up the underside of the staircase.

Occasionally, rare events intersect.

Prior to Kaja’s arrival on top of the washing machine, that space had been occupied by half a mincemeat pie. Fortunately, Maggie was able to remove the pie before it wound up decorating the mighty huntress’ hindquarters*.

* That Maggie also managed to get this picture before Kaja decamped (de-washered?) is nothing short of amazing. Yes, photo credit to her.

An Uncommon Trio

I know I just said, or at least strongly implied, that I wasn’t going to post pictures of cats on the bed. But this one is unusual enough to be an exception.

Most often, if there are three cats on the bed at the same time, it’s either Watanuki, Yuki, and Lefty (The Big Bruiser Boys Brigade)–in which case they’re all on separate corners–or it’s Yuki, Lefty, and Emeraldas snuggled up together.

Behold the variance.

I interrupted some serial grooming here: ‘Nuki was washing Yuki’s neck, while Yuki was cleaning Em’s ears. Important work, no question, so it’s not surprising that Em stalked off shortly after the picture was taken, muttering darkly about impertinent bipeds who can’t mind their own business.

Of course, she did come back about half an hour later–after ‘Nuki had migrated to the foot of the bed–and began grooming Yuki herself. But her point had been made.

Say Hello

Actually, these guys–or their kinfolk, anyway–have been around for years. They’ve been coming around more frequently than usual over the past few weeks. I’m assuming the quality of the graze is better here than wherever they’ve been hanging out.

As recently as a week ago, one of them was still pointy, but he seems to have finally shed this year’s decorations. Not, unfortunately, anyplace we’ve visited. They’d look good as yard decorations, I think. Properly placed and mounted, they could do fine work discouraging door-to-door leaflet distributors.

Despite their inconsiderate antler-disposal practices, on the whole they’re polite, at least by comparison with the turkey gangs and the marauding bands of trash pandas.

SAST 22

No, you didn’t overlook a weekend post. There wasn’t one.

I’m not going to apologize, just lay the blame squarely where it belongs: with the critters.

If they refuse to do anything sufficiently photogenic when I have a camera handy, there really isn’t much I can do, now is there?

Of course, it doesn’t help that the recent cold weather has reduced their activity to “lie around on the bed, getting up only to eat and use the box”. Cute, but when the only difference from one day to the next is in who has staked out which chunk of blanket, the photos do get more than a bit repetitious.

Admittedly, we get minor variations.

For instance, there was an earthquake recently. Small, but centered only a few miles from our house. All cats vanished from the bed. But when you’re awakened at 3:30am by multiple paws thundering across your abdomen, photography is not the first thing that springs to mind. Or maybe it would be for you. It wasn’t for me.

A couple of days later, the smoke detector in the bedroom started making its “battery low” beep: one chirp every 40 seconds. Yuki couldn’t stand the sound and began yowling as though his tail was being pulled out by the roots*. Did I mention that this was at 6:00 am? It was. Again, photography not the first thing on my mind.

* He’s very proud of his luxurious plume. I dare say the psychological pain of having it yanked out would exceed the far-from-negligible physical pain.

Anyway, I’m still keeping my phone handy, but until the weather warms up and critters start moving around and doing things during hours I’m awake, there may be the occasional missed post.

Moving on.

File this under “WQTS”. It’s not significant enough to warrant a post of its own, but I thought it was worth pointing out.

Not too long ago, I had cause to install the Amazon Music program on my computer. It went through the usual steps*: download the installer, run it, twiddle my fingers for a minute or so, and then try to remember my Amazon password so I could sign into the program.

* Bother. I just noticed I could have installed it via the winget command I mentioned last week. Alas for missed opportunities.

All was well until after I closed the program and then realized I’d forgotten one of the things I’d intended to do. So I checked the All Programs menu, and was befuddled to see Amazon Music listed not once, but twice.

Normally, when a program wants to add itself to that menu, it creates a program shortcut in a specific folder. Done. Or, if the program needs multiple entries (for example, one for the program itself and one for a link to the company’s support website), it’ll create a folder inside that special Windows folder and put its links in that private folder.

Amazon, in an impressive display of bureaucratic bungling, does both: it creates a program shortcut named “Amazon Music” and a folder, also called “Amazon Music”, which–you guessed it–contains a program shortcut named “Amazon Music” (and also a link to the uninstall program, should you be so meanspirited as to want to get rid of “Amazon Music” in all its infinite incarnations. Which Windows, in its great wisdom mishandles, shows as two program icons, instead of one program and one folder.

“Well,” I said to myself, “that’s silly. And redundant.” So I deleted the standalone icon, thinking Windows would then properly display the folder.

Not only did that not work–Windows continued to show a program instead of a folder–but when I launched the program it recreated the icon I had deleted!

So Windows mishandles the situation where there’s a folder with the same name as a program. And Amazon overrides its users’ specific instructions. WQTS?

Moving on again.

Amongst all the nocturnal feline disturbances and the normal daytime alarums and excursions, I also found time to get my head examined. The conclusion: I still have a head.

More seriously, I’ve been somewhat concerned about my hearing, given the daily assault on my eardrums that is the retail environment.

It was, in its way, almost entertaining. I got the “raise your hand when you hear a tone” test, the “repeat the words this recording is saying” test, and the “repeat the sentence this other recording is saying with decreasing volume relative to background party noises” test. All while sitting in a soundproof room with earphones in. Okay, so maybe “entertaining” isn’t quite the right word. It was interesting and enlightening.

As I implied above, the results were generally good. I’ve got some marginal hearing loss in one ear, especially in the range of pitches typical of speech–which certainly explains the trouble I have hearing people at work when the background noise gets particularly excessive–but on the whole, I’ve still got two functional ears.

I’ll take my victories where I can. I will say, however, that the brochure on how to listen better is pretty darn useless.

Was It Something I Said?

I’m not sure how they wound up like this. Less than half an hour earlier, all four cats were snuggled together–the weather has definitely turned colder, and feline snuggling levels have gone way, way up.

Did Em get stroppy? Maybe, though I didn’t hear any feline politics.

It’s probably not a “she who smelt it, dealt it” situation: none of the cats seems particularly bothered when someone emits an unpleasant odor.

It can’t have been a male bonding ritual, because nobody had a drum.

Just one of those “you’re a hoomin, you wouldn’t understand” things, I suppose.

Centerpiece or Main Dish?

Rhubarb wishes it to be known that, despite his pose, he never had any doubt that he was not on the menu.

He also wishes it to be known that at no time did he sample the wine in that bottle behind him*, despite vigorous marking of the bottle as his via cheek rubs.

* Mr. Goldkitty maintained a diplomatic silence on the question of what relationships he might have had with any other bottles of wine, past or present.