Year End Reminders

In this, the final blog post of 2019, I want to remind you of a couple of things.

First, change is inevitable.
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I believe the subject Lefty is discussing with Rhubarb is “If this is the dining room, why aren’t the hoomins giving us food?”

Second, technology advances.
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This shot of Lefty was taken with my work iPhone 11 Pro. Over my shoulder. Without being able to see the subject. (I’ll note that the photo is heavily cropped. Lefty was nowhere near the center of the frame. But it still came out rather nicely.)

And third, some truths are eternal.
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Just as the mound is sixty feet, six inches from the plate, the dining room heat vent is exclusively owned by Sachiko from November to May.

A very happy New Year to one and all. May 2020 be better for you and yours than 2019. See you when the arbitrary astronomical odometer kicks over the tens place.

Did You Expect Anything Else?

Even though the iPhone is supplied by and intended for work, there’s nothing that says I can’t use it for my own fell purposes.

It’s been functional for about thirty-six hours at this point. Can you believe I’ve only taken thirty photos of the cats in that time?

I’m still experimenting with the functionality, so I’ll spare you the worst of the blurry*, overly dark, poorly framed, and redundant shots.

* I can already tell I’m going to have a hate/hate relationship with Live Photos. Once I get some basic familiarity with that feature, I’m probably going to turn it off.

Here, forthwith, my first halfway worthwhile iPhone 11 Pro cat photos.

Sachiko, enjoying an evening snooze behind the heat vent in the dining room.
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Modern technology is impressive. We’ve upgraded the staircase to support up to four feline channels, and the amount of fur it collects is just amazing!
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Lefty won’t get on the bed unless there’s already at least one cat present. Yuki seems to be his favorite bed partner at the moment; it’ll be interesting to see what happens if Yuki tries to use Lefty as a pillow, the way he does with Rhubarb.
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Rufus and Lefty hanging out in my entirely-too-cluttered office. The vertical black blob in the middle of the screen is a stuffed octopus; Lefty is the vertical black blob behind the eight-legged critter.
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And, finally, my favorite shot of the batch. Kokoro was sitting on my lap when I took this one. I’m amazed at how well it came out, given the short range. I’m even more amazed that she didn’t stick her muzzle into the camera lens as is her usual mode of operation.
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Multiple Responsibilities

Sachiko, as I’ve said before, is the junior member of our home security force. The Ooki Brothers, Watanuki and Yuki, concentrate on external security, alerting us to intruders in the back yard. Sachiko’s remit is internal.

She can often be found on the landing halfway up the stairs. The security station there gives her a clear view of the upstairs hallway…
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and the foyer downstairs.
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As the youngest member of the security team, she’s also been given responsibility for our digital security. Here, for example, you can see her watching over Maggie’s abandoned laptop. Sachiko will guard it against theft, accidental damage, or unauthorized posts about lesser species, especially dogs, squirrels, and raccoons.
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Note, by the way, the mouse carefully positioned in front of her. Mice are, of course, a prey species. Sachiko her secondary role as Gravity’s Little Helper just as seriously as her other security duties. She’s more than happy to defenstrate any rodents she finds in the vicinity of valuable electronics.

Hanging Around

A couple of cameo appearances today. Perhaps you recall Beth and Eric’s feline overlords, Patience and Fortitude?

They’re no longer kittens, but they’re still quite the cuties.

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“I haz a nest.” –Forti

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“Oh, yeah? Well I haz a nest too, and I haz a kyute.” –Patti

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“Oy, haz I gots a dubious about the both of youse.” –Sachiko.  (Why yes, we are corrupting her language. Isn’t that what one is supposed to do to one’s kids?)

The Alien Among Us

Today is the latest of my sporadic attempts to remember–and remind you all–that we share living space with cats not named Rufus, Lefty, or Watanuki.

I mentioned last month that Maggie has a new phone. (Which she is backing up. Right, Maggie?) Of course a new phone means a new excuse to take pictures of the cats. Lots and lots of them.

So here’s one of the first pictures from Maggie’s shiny new BlackBerry KeyOne.

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Sachiko, aka Our Little Alien Princess.

What do you mean, “Why do we call her that?”

Maybe this will help you figure it out.

I realize that, reruns notwithstanding, the show predates many of you. But just look at those antennae and tell me Sachiko doesn’t show signs of Martian ancestry.

Not convinced? According to the Wikipedia article, Martians have certain powers Earthlings lack:

  1. Their antennae are retractable. I’m not sure Sachiko’s are retractable, but they’re certainly not always visible. Allowing for the usual quantity of errors or distortions of fact in any TV show, I think it’s close enough.
  2. They can become invisible. No question about this one. We can look all over the house for Sachiko, only to have her turn up in the middle of the dining room floor where we couldn’t possibly have failed to see her. (Mind you, I think this is a superpower shared by all cats, not just the Martian ones.)
  3. They are telepathic. Yup. As soon as we start thinking about making the cats’ dinner, Sachiko heads for the kitchen, ready to carry out her one household chore: licking the fork clean.
  4. They can levitate objects. Also no question about this one. She may not be able to keep objects aloft, but she doesn’t have any trouble getting them into the air. As a matter of fact, she’s so good at it, one of her secondary titles is “Gravity’s Little Helper”.
  5. They can speed themselves up. When properly motivated (see Number Three above) Sachiko can hit speeds in excess of any reasonable speed limit. I’m convinced that if there were fewer corners between the bedroom and the kitchen, she could crack the sound barrier.

I rest my case.

With Age Comes…

Sachiko is no longer the twenty-four hour nuclear-propelled hellion she was when she was a kitten.

She’ll be the first to tell you that she’s a big kitty now. And she is–goodness, I just realized she’s approaching her fifth birthday!

Not a huge kitteh, but a bit on the plump side, and a significant armload.

With increasing age comes an increased desire to snooze.

Of course, as a cat, she’s required to pick a spot that will inconvenience the bipeds.

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The bathroom doorway is a fine choice. Convenient to the litter box, handy to the food bowls come dinner time, and a high traffic area for the hoomins.

Pillowed

Watanuki has some strange ideas about the proper role of a pillow.

Actually, he has a lot of strange ideas. But a detailed discussion of them all would take us far beyond the space allotted to today’s post, so we’ll stick with pillows.

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Most people put their head on a pillow. Not Mr. Knuckles.

I’d think he was trying to keep his butt warm, but the temperature was in the nineties the day that picture was taken. Cold buns (not that he really has buns–but I digress) were not the issue.

Meanwhile, Yuki took the usurpation of his favorite head-and-tail-rest in stride.

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He often finds Maggie’s pillow to be an acceptable alternate Rhubarb. Though it has to be said that I’ve never seen him twist his hindquarters into that position with any other pillow.

Meanwhile, I found the funniest part of the episode to be the way Sachiko completely ignored the boys’ antics.

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Reputation

‘Nuki has a tough life. It’s his own fault, though.

He spends all his time working on his rep. “Mr. Murder Mittens.” “Knuckles Malloy, Notorious Mobster Feline.” Those are names with capital-P Power. Oompj. Even “Mr. Thugbutt,” for all its superficial silliness, has a touch of that menacing edge.

It’s exhausting to keep it up, all day, every day.

You gotta give the guy props, though. He’s in there doing the work and reaping the rewards.

24/7/365.

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Okay, okay. He slips occasionally.

But notice that right front paw. Even at his inadvertent cutest, ‘Nuki still stays on message. There may only be one claw exposed, but it’s a darn sharp one.

Then there’s his little sister, Sachiko.

She’s got a rep of her own, and she’s far less prone to slip than Big Brudder Nookles. And that’s a Really Good Thing, because she’s the current holder of the “Ms. Otter Girl” title. Has been for more than four years now.

That’s “otter” as in “always going where she otter not be.”

Case in point.

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She’s also been known to climb over the fence you see behind her. It would be beneath her dignity to simply go down a couple of steps and come back on the other side of the fence. Such sedentary behavior might be appropriate for old fogies like her siblings, but not for a young lady with athletic inclinations.

She wishes it known that, should she decide to go to Stanford, she will earn her scholarship. No need to bribe her way onto the rock climbing team.

How to Handle Change

Some people never change.

Take MM, for example.
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This is not a cat who’s happy to see me. Even though I’d just filled her food bowl, exactly as Maggie and I have done for the past seven months or so. Cleaning the litter box is often performed with a soundtrack of hisses.

She’s mellowed enough to take cover in one of the shelters when it’s particularly wet or cold, but that’s not much a shift.

Then there are those who try something new, give it up, and come back to it.
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After an extended period of terrestrialism–completely voluntary, I assure you–Sachiko has resumed her acrobatic ways.

It’s probably a misperception, but I tend to believe she’s spending more time balanced on one of the banisters than on the ground.

We’re hoping it’s a phase. Not that we begrudge her indulgence of her aerialist tendencies, but the truth is, she’s not as svelte as she was the last time around, and we’re concerned about the ramifications of a misstep.

And then there are those who revel in change.
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After something of a slow start, Lefty seems to be turning into quite the fan of indoor living. He adjusted to a mixed gooshy/krunchie diet rather quickly and picked up the art of the litter box faster than MM. After that, though, progress was slow for several months.

But ever since we let him out of the cage, he’s been enthusiastically trying out new things. As in the picture above, he’s finding great joy in nesting in the blankets on the futon. Curiously, however, he’s still not at all interested in having a cushion in any of his caves–we often find one or another condo pillow in the middle of the floor. (Not yet available: video of Lefty and Rufus sharing the futon and exchanging ear-washings. Hopefully I can pull it off the camera in time for next week’s post.)

And, speaking of the middle of the floor, the other thing we often find there is Lefty himself. Sometimes by himself, keeping a watchful eye (sorry) on the activity outside the room, but more often in company with his buddy Rufus.
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Merry You-Know-What

The tree is up, the heat is on, and the cats are gathering.

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Yup, must be Christmas time.

No matter where you fall on the scale* between “Christmas? What’s that?” and “Woo-hoo! Best day of the year! More celebration!” I hope you’ll have a good day, secure in the knowledge that 2018 is nearly over.

* I’m aware there’s at least one more dimension to the scale–the religious one. But (a) representing a three-dimensional graph in words is grammatically incomprehensible and (b) If two thousand years of scholarship hasn’t come up with glib captions everyone can agree adequately summarize the religious extremes, I’m not fool enough to try.

Stay warm, stay dry, and stay safe.