Adaptation

As I’ve mentioned, it has been cooling off around here lately. Not to the ridiculous extremes everywhere else in the country, but enough to be noticeable.

Tuxie and MM have been evaluating different approaches to maximizing sunlight acquisition and retention.

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Sharing body heat, in other words. MM has decided that Tuxie makes a darn good hot water bottle.

Though some positions work better than others.

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We’re pretty sure she wound up with a stiff neck after trying to sleep this way.

But it’s nice to see how nature adapts to changing conditions.

Back On the Fence

Perhaps you remember that we had to replace our backyard fence last spring. If your memory of my meanderings goes back far enough, you might even remember that MM was very fond of the old fence.

It took a long time for her to warm up to the new one.

Oh, she spent plenty of time supervising its construction, and she certainly appreciates the fact that there’s more space between fence and ground at the back of the yard, so she can get in and out without mussing her fur.

But as a platform to display her inarguable superiority? That took longer.

The wait, however, is over.
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Honestly, that doesn’t look like a comfortable perch. There is an MM-sized flat surface there–a vertical 4×4–but I’d have thought the cold metal of the hinge would be more of a deterrent.

Perhaps she figures total air superiority over Tuxie, the deer, the possums, and the trash pandas is worth a little discomfort.

Christmas Gift

A couple of weeks ago we got home late after a games night.

Rufus had gotten tired of waiting for his dinner, and came down to the kitchen to see what the delay was. In our absence, he investigated the empty cans from the previous couple of nights’ feedings.
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That wasn’t the first time he’s spent time in the kitchen and dining room, but it was almost certainly the longest sojourn, and the first in which he didn’t slink around under the furniture trying to avoid notice.

Once he saw us start preparing his food, he returned to his usual haunts upstairs. But apparently he’s reached a new plateau in his general comfort level.

He visited the kitchen and dining room a couple of times over the following week, and then while Maggie and I were exchanging gifts Christmas morning, he strolled downstairs again and took possession of the catnip rug.
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That’s the designated stoner zone: there are catnip toys all over the house, but the bare herb gets distributed on that rug.

Anyway, Rufus hung out on the rug for the better part of an hour before an opportunity arose. Or rather, before I arose.
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A well-cushioned chair, nicely warmed by a biped’s rear end: what’s not to like?

I’m not sure how long he stayed in my chair, because I left the room first, but it was a significant length of time.

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Upstairs is still Rufus’ home turf, but the staircase doesn’t seem quite so long and forbidding as it once did. I forsee a new era of exploration, colonization, and diplomacy of the “swift paw to the top of the head” variety.

One Step…

We had an unprecedented event last weekend.
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Rufus jumped up onto the bed without encouragement, and while it was already occupied by cats and humans. He’s been on the bed before, but only when it was empty or when one of us put him there for easier pettings.

So this was a big step forward.

He stayed there for several hours, using my leg as a pillow while he slept.

Even more impressively, he hung around after I got up.
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And went back to sleep, despite Mr. Thugbutt’s presence.
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Of course, he hasn’t returned since, preferring to return to his usual haunt:
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That’s the back of the futon in his room (formerly known as the library).

But overall, we’re pleased. It’s nice to see him try something new from time to time.

SAST 09

With just a tiny bit of luck, this will be the last Short Attention Span Theater for a while. Barring unexpected events, Like Herding Cats will go out to the beta readers this week and I’ll be able to stop stripping my mental transmission by jumping back and forth among writing, re-writing, and copy-editing.

Which brings me to the first production on today’s program. I could use another beta reader. Now, before you immediately deluge me in requests, let me remind you what beta reading is and is not.

It is not an opportunity to read a book before anyone else. Well, okay, it is, but it’s also a requirement that you read the book critically. I’m not looking for “Hey, great book. I love it!” I want to know what doesn’t work. To that end, along with the book, beta readers get a laundry list of questions like, “Were all of the plot twists properly supported, or was there a point where somebody acted out of character in order to change the story’s direction?” and “Were there any jokes that just didn’t work for you?”

I don’t expect every reader to answer every question, but these are the things I need to know to make the book better, so the more you can answer–and especially, the more faults you find–the happier I’ll be. I want beta readers to find the problems, not agents and editors!

Still interested? There’s one more qualification: you must be familiar with modern urban fantasy, by which I mean you’ve read several works in the field which were published within the past five years. “Several” means “more than one, and by more than one author”.

If you’re still interested, drop me an email. Do NOT apply via a comment on the post, by Facebook Messenger, or by Twitter reply. Thank you.

Moving on.

And, speaking of jobs, I got a weird offer in email recently.

We bought our car from a dealership, and we take it in for maintenance every six months. They’ve got my email address because I like getting a reminder that it’s time for the next visit and because they send out occasional special offers. Yeah, imagine that, advertising done right: opt-in.

So then I got this latest note from them. “Join our team!” says the subject line. Uh-huh. Job listings. And not just sales positions. They’re looking for a mechanic and for a person to check cars in and out of the service department.

Apparently they consider recruiting to be a type of advertising. The email has their boilerplate at the bottom reminding me that I opted-in to receive occasional ads.

I find it slightly amusing, but also more than a trifle creepy. Imagine if the idea catches on. “Hey, I hope you liked the espresso you bought last week. How would you like to be a barista?” “Thanks for making your last credit card payment on time. Wanna join our team? We’ve got openings in the boiler room calling the deadbeats whose payments haven’t come in.”

There’s a place for everything–and that’s not the place for job postings.

Next time I take the car for maintenance, I’ll ask how many job applicants the email generated–and firmly request they remove my name from that list.

Moving on.

It appears our cats know there’s a place for everything. And once in a while, they take a vacation from playing “Gravity’s Little Helper” to put things in the right place.
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We’ve taught them that fish comes in cans. So yes, that’s the current incarnation of Mr. Mousiefish, carefully place in a gooshy fud can–presumably so he can be eaten later.

Moving on.

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I can’t decide if this is so meta it’s hilarious or so cliché it’s painful. Though I lean toward the latter.

Joe, ya shouldn’ta oughta done it.

House Work

We’re having a little pre-Winter work done on the house. It involves the usual construction noises: hammering, sawing, and the occasional random crash/thud.
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Most of the cats have been conspicuous by their absence.

Watanuki takes his position as Head of Security seriously. He may look a little crazed, but by Bast, he’s on the job.
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A little more crazed than usual, that is.

There’s always one weirdo in the bunch, though.
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Somebody who shrugs and says, “Wake me up when it’s dinner time.”

Consolation

Something to cheer Jackie up in the face of her Orioles’ less than stellar performance this year.

Rufus continues to settle in. He still spends most of the day in “his” room–but why shouldn’t he? That’s where his food bowls are, that’s where the green pod/bed is, and that’s where the comfy futon is.
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I believe the officially-sanctioned descriptive phrase these days is “totes adorbs”. But don’t quote me on that.

Yes, that is a Hello Kitty pillow at the upper right and a Kliban blanket under his head. Nothing but the finest in feline-themed sleep gear for our crew.

Anyway, he does come downstairs occasionally, when the spirit moves him. And recently he not only joined the communal “sprawl on Casey” ritual for the first time, but he was actually the one who started it.
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Kokoro is usually the one to kick it off, but she didn’t seem too put out that he had gotten there first. Probably because he was smart enough to leave her favorite nest vacant.

And Rufus handled the arrival of the remaining participants with aplomb.
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Of course, it’s not all “Hail fellow, well met!”

There are still territorial disputes. Rufus is willing to defend his turf
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To a point.
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But, by and large, he’s fitting in better every day. Even the disputes are becoming more familial.

Quantum Leap

Rufus’ horizons continue to expand.

He’s begun making solo forays downstairs. He’s visited the kitchen and dining room a couple of times–he quite enjoyed spending time on the rug where Maggie sprinkles catnip.

He’s come into the bedroom a few times. On two of those visits, I’ve put him on the bed and given him cuddles. Both times he seemed nervous and left as quickly as he politely could. He is, as I’ve noted before, a very polite creature.

Last week he dropped by the other cats’ food bowls and was quite miffed to discover there was no food in them.
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We explained that it’s extremely rare to find food in the bowls in the evening, because we fill them shortly before bedtime. He listened, nodded, and then said “But there’s no food in the bowls.” Well, actually he said “Growp, gwack,” but we’re fairly sure about the translation.

The real breakthrough came this Wednesday. I had been upstairs working, and came down to flop on the bed to read for a while, only to discover that my spot had been usurped. Yes, that’s my pillow he’s leaning against.
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I don’t know how long he’d been there, but he seemed quite comfortable.

Even more impressively, he wasn’t alone.
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Yuki and Rufus shared the bed for at least two hours–I wound up reading elsewhere–and parted amicably.

Boxed

Did you know that rabbits are susceptible to Maru’s Syndrome?
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“If it fits, I sits,” indeed. There were several bunnies at the county fair who had more extreme cases of the disease, but this one was the cutest.

Speaking of boxes, I went to clean the litter boxes a few days ago and discovered that someone had left a message.
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That’s not a casual comment or accident. The scoop normally lies on the artificial grass mat visible at the lower left. Whoever it was had to pick it up and carry it into the box.

And no, I don’t think the message was that the box needed cleaning. Despite what it looks like in this picture, it actually had less mess in it than usual.

Nor has the message been repeated. Maybe it was just “I’m bored and this looks like a toy.”

I don’t know who left the message either, but odds are good that it was one of these guys.
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They may look cute and innocent when they’re curled up on the bed together, but I’m fairly sure that the more innocent they look, the more likely they are to be plotting some fresh deviltry.

And, speaking of deviltry, Sachiko wanted to know when I was going to put her on the blog again.
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Never let it be said that I gave her an excuse to bury the litter box scoop. Not that she’d need an excuse if she thought of it.