When the Calendar Just Doesn’t

Apologies to everyone stopping by for their usual plateful of whatever the heck I serve around here. Wit? Wisdom? Cheap laughs? I know it involves cats. But, anyway.

I’m taking a break.

2020 won’t go away. The calendar ticking over Friday isn’t going to magically improve anything.

Or unmagically either.

I’m damn near out of spoons, and the rest of the silverware drawer is looking rather bare, too. Which is probably just as well when it comes to the knives–but that’s part of the problem, as undirected rage and pointy objects mix all too well.

How long a break?

I don’t know. I’d like to say “When the universe stops throwing rocks at me.” Not lemons. Lemons I could work with. I like lemonade. But you can’t get lemon juice from rocks.

Realistically, the rocks aren’t going to stop. Throwing rocks is one the universe’s major occupations, coming in third behind creating vast expanses of nothing and turning hydrogen into helium.

But I’m hoping the frequency of metaphorical boulders heading in this direction will decrease over the next few months.

I will be back eventually. I’m not giving up on writing–fiction or this whatever-it-is–or on taking pictures of cats.

But right now I need to step back and concentrate on necessary precursors. Like following Gary Larson’s advice.

No predictions on when I’ll resume higher functions, except that, as so often happens, it’ll probably be later than I hope but sooner than I fear.

Until then, write if you get work and hang by your thumbs.

Like They’re Magnetic

There’s just no accounting for tastes.

I mean, we love Yuki. He’s a charmer, a snuggler, and a cutie. Sure, he drools–one of his nicknames is “Slobbergoblin”–but he’s still quite a lovable fellow.

Emeraldas takes it to extremes.

She’d rather give Yuki full-body headbumps than eat krunchy treats (watch for the moment near the end of the video where she actually stomps on a treat in her haste to snuggle Yuki.)

The weirdest element of her fascination is that he’s the only cat she seems to like. She’s downright violent with Lefty, and treats the others with anything from wary disapproval to superior disdain.

What makes Yuki so attractive?

No telling. Maybe it’s the drool.

That Time Again

It is the season–no, not the Christmas season; that doesn’t start until Friday at the earliest. This is the time when we’re grateful for stuff. Sure, that’s the case all year, but this is the time when we talk about it.

So, a few things I’m thankful for right now.

Georgia. Also Arizona and Nevada. Yes, it’s allowed to be thankful for what we got while wishing we got more. (That’s also part of the Christmas tradition–have you ever gotten everything you wanted? If so, be very thankful.) Don’t let the congressional faux pas bring you down.

Turkeys. Yes, even the thuggish ones hanging around our neighborhood: they’re cute and amusing in their own special way. And their domesticated cousins are darn tasty.

Modern medicine. Far from perfect, but far, far better than the alternatives. (See comments above about getting everything you want.)

Moisturizing soap. Cracked hands are a problem around this time every year, but frequent handwashing and use of sanitizing fluids have made this year worse than most. Moisturizing soap means I still have ten bandage-free fingers.

And, of course, Formerly Feral Felines. Our time with L. Rufus Alexander was far too short, but I’m very glad he came to us and thankful that he stayed as long as he did. And his companion, Lefty, makes me happy every day. He’s gone from a hissing ball of frightened rage to a purring snugglepanther who politely waits for his turn at the food bowl. Even MM is starting to come out of her shell–more on her Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate the occasion and Happy Random Date to the rest of y’all.

Still More Changes

Don’t let anyone tell you cats are complete slaves to tradition and doing things the same way they’ve always done them.

Lefty, for example, has gone from avoiding humans to being our handsome snuggle-panther.

At the same time, he’s progressed from preferring the carpet-covered floor through favoring the hard futon, then the foot of the bed, to, well…

That’s my pillow he’s curled up on.

Not bad for a Formerly Feral Fellow.

And, while it may appear he’s daring me to displace him, he’s actually suggesting I put down that stupid box I’m pointing at him and give him cuddles. More specifically, it was “There’s a spot behind my left ear that needs some skritches.”

A Pointless Tale

No deep insights, no hidden truths today. Just a bit of fluff I hope will brighten your day a smidge.

So there’s this stretch of road that’s a key part of my commute. Those of you who know the Bay Area, it’s Richmond Parkway. For the rest of you, picture this: two lanes in each direction, a wide median whose grass is desperately in need of trimming, half a dozen traffic lights, and a posted speed limit of 50.

Yes, 50. On a city street. Okay, the street in question connects two freeways, and it’s semi-rural. But again, those traffic lights and pedestrian traffic.

About half the cars–in these COVID-19 days, maybe more than half–take 50 as a challenge. Sixty is common, and even 75 isn’t unheard of. Then there’s a large minority who figure the speed limit signs are in error, so they stick to 35, whooping it up to 40 if they’re feeling reckless.

Add in the trucks. Did I mention the trucks? Sorry. Many of the businesses along Richmond Parkway are the kind that make use of trucks. Big trucks. Tankers hauling liquid nitrogen or molten sulphur. Huge pickups with poorly anchored loads of scrap metal. Multiple anonymous trailers.

Do you know how long it takes a big truck to go from zero to fifty? Hint: it’s about the distance from one traffic light to the next along Richmond Parkway.

Forget about trying to pass. The trucks and the curve of the road make it very difficult to see who might be coming up on you from behind. The major differences in speed encourage shark packs that block lanes. So if you’re behind a truck or an over-cautious driver, you’re going to stay there.

So, got the picture?

A few days ago, I was running a bit late on my way to work. Not enough to actually be late, but enough that I was worrying about traffic on the freeway. I’m sitting at the first traffic light, first car in line and nobody in sight ahead of me. The radio is tuned to a classic rock station.

The last vehicle through the light from the cross street is one of those molten sulfur tankers. It accelerates up Richmond Parkway–in my lane, of course–reaching a top speed of almost thirty before it starts slowing for the next intersection.

A new song starts playing just as the light changes to green for me:

You said it, Sammy.

PS: I did make it to work on time.

Still More Baby Pictures

I’m dipping way, way back into the vault for this one.

How about the first picture we took of Watanuki when we brought him home?

Well, okay, the first video. But it was taken less than an hour after the first picture. 5:07 pm on December 24, 2010. Yes, as far as we’re concerned, Yuki and ‘Nuki were Christmas babies.

Note that even at the tender age of six months, he displays several traits he’s carried forward to this very day: a tendency to bite when licking would be more appropriate, an extreme fondness for the ‘nip, and a devastating cuteness when he wants attention or knows he’s being observed.

Inconstant, Constant

Here we are in October, and the breaking of rules continues. Oakland has won a playoff series for the first time in umpty-ump years, darn it.

Some rules, however, appear inviolable. The Reds and Brewers have been unceremoniously bounced out of the playoffs (drat!) and the Yankees (spit) are still alive.

Isn’t it nice to know that in a year where the only rules that can’t be broken are the sucky ones, we still have cats?

Specifically, cats being adorable.

(Yes, that is a composite photo. No, I didn’t make any effort to match the halves. Rest assured the two shots were taken mere seconds apart and accurately reflect the situation on the bed Thursday night.)

Clockwise from the upper left, we’ve got Yuki, Lefty, Kokoro, and Watanuki.

Of particular interest, note that Lefty is actually asleep. Not just eyes closed, but on the alert. Asleep. This is a major step forward for Mr. Snugglepanther.

What’s Up With You?

Strange weather we’re having around here. Two straight days over 100 (plus or minus local micro-climate variation), and then yesterday it was a good thirty degrees cooler.

Not because of any normal weather change. No offshore winds breaking up a high pressure zone or anything like that. This is totally due to smoke from the fires to the north.

I hasten to add that they’re all a significant distance away from us. There’s been no suggestion that we’re at risk, at least from the existing fires*. We’re as safe as we can be in an era where the California state motto seems to have become “Burn, baby, burn.”

* Our vegetation is just as profuse and desiccated as anyone else’s. A poorly timed and aimed firework or discarded cigarette could cause plenty of trouble around here.

But even the smoke was unusual. There wasn’t much scent of burning, and visibility was nearly as good as normal, because the smoke was staying high up.

Really, really thick, though. Thick enough to make 9:00 in the morning feel like late evening, and make 6:00 PM feel like a torrential downpour was immanent. Regrettably, the later was not the case: a heavy rainfall would be a big help with the fires.

Maybe we just need more moisture in the air. Let it condense around all those ash particles, and we’ve got a flood of biblical proportions.

Which would bring its own problems, of course, but we’re used to floods around here. A homey little well-known disaster would be an almost pleasant change.

I did say “almost”.

Though, come to think of it, heavy rains and (minor) flooding would tend to encourage people to stay inside; quite different from outrageously high temperatures that lead people to go to parks and beaches. Solving our social distancing and state burning problems at the same time?

No pitcher is going to sneer at a double-play ball.

The unusual conditions have some of the cats a bit off their feed, but not to the point that we’re worried about anyone.

In short, we’re doing about as well as can be expected in the current conditions. Hope the same is true of you all.

Major Milestone

Lefty has been making excellent progress in his acclimation to the indoor life. He has, in fact, been doing so well, we’ve officially declared him “no longer feral”.

The key milestone? He’s spending time on the bed.

Often with his best buddy Yuki–we’ve taken to calling them the Sable Saboteurs for their joint effect on the social hierarchy–but sometimes by himself as well.

There’s still some distance to go before we can declare him a fully-accredited indoor kitty.

Case in point: he’s still somewhat skittish about humans–

–especially humans with cameras. But then again, so are Maggie and I, so we’re not casting aspersions on our house panther.

But Lefty is coming to the realization that humans do have their uses, even beyond the delivery of food and treats. Pettings are nice–and they do require fingers–enough so that he’s begun actively requesting them.

And humans also make excellent pillows if you can pin them down.