Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flowers for (Another) Snowy Morning

We're having a snow shower this morning, with big wet flakes coming down hard and fast. I don't really mind but I bet plenty of people do, so let's enjoy some flowers from Boden. Their spring prints have a bright, 1960's look that suits my current mood, since Easter is next Sunday and the last episodes of Mad Men will start airing that night.

I almost never wear floral prints but I enjoy seeing them on other women and these are a treat for the eyes after during this long winter.

Vintage Bow Dress in a watercolor floral (when I was little, my mother and my aunts had lovely summer dresses cut like this one):
 Pandora Skirt in silk organza (sheer organza is a rarity... check out the pastels on white, too):

Easy Printed Tee (I'm ready for a flowery tee, to brighten up jeans and denim skirts):

Navy Bella Slingback Flats (rhinestones + paillettes = blossoms):

Bistro Shorts (remember shorts? Boden makes a tee and some dresses in this print, too):
Chelsea Leather Slingbacks (if you wanted these last spring, they're on sale now, and also in blue):

Silky Vintage Top (I'd wear this with white jeans if I could ever keep a pair of white jeans clean for more than 10 minutes, which I absolutely can't do):

Soft Leather Bowling Bag (vaguely "Liberty" and half-price):

It's still snowing...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Five Cats

We usually see four, not five, cats together on the bed. I'd left some clean laundry there, which proved irresistible to Toffee, who usually curls up on a nearby chair. This was taken in the evening without flash, so it's not a great photo (although you could call that effect chiaroscuro, I suppose) but it documents that all five are friends.

It also shows that five isn't that many, even in a small apartment. When they are gathered here, the rest of our place is cat-free or, as some might put it, bereft of felinity. My husband and I only discovered they were all together because we were alone in the living room grumbling: "I thought we had some cats? Didn't we have lots of them? Why aren't there any anywhere?"

This is not to say that we think we need more cats. We realize we are at budget capacity, since the food we've chosen for them is quite expensive. We are also at litter-box capacity, at least until we move. We are also at attention capacity, since three cats want plenty, and the other two want it sometimes. And three also like a few play sessions with pole toys every day. So we're busy enough with five.

And then there are times when most of them are lounging in the living room and we have nowhere to sit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


The slumbering beastie...

The little Lion stirs...

And behold:

So there!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The New Appliance

Suddenly, there it was, sitting on the counter: a new, serious-looking piece of kitchen equipment. But what was it? 

It was not a coffeemaker, blender, or seltzer machine. Nor was it a cookie jar, although I have one that's very similar that used to sit right there: a ceramic orange tabby. The head on this one doesn't come off, though, and that capacious belly is not hollow.

It could be some type of dishwashing device but it doesn't seem very reliable or hygienic. 

It could also be used to prop up a cookbook but, again, not reliably.

It could be a toaster. You could put the bread underneath it and eventually the bread would get warm, which is about all we can expect from our electric toaster, with whom we have a longstanding disagreement over its household duties.

So, yes, perhaps it's a new, improved toaster. But I wanted to be sure.

So I asked it. "What the heck are you supposed to be doing up there?"

It said, "I'm a popcorn tester. Give me some, and if it's any good, I'll tell you."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cake for Breakfast

The other day, the cats' breakfast chef discovered that they had tried to help themselves and give him the morning off. Our talented Harris (it's always Harris, trust me) had even managed to get the cake to land face up although he couldn't get the lid off (I have trouble, too). He got extra points for not making a mess, but he still had to settle for chicken, lamb, or duck for breakfast.

Notice how no one is looking at the crime scene, just everywhere else.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Our Fluffy Academic

My husband calls Possum "Professor Crossypaws" for obvious reasons. He also took this picture, which I love. I adore all of our cats but Possum and I have a special bond... even if he's been spending most of his time curled up with my husband instead of ME.

Feeling a little jealous, you ask? 



Don't worry, I won't fall into total despair and down a mango-Drano smoothie. I'll just sing along to Roy Orbison as I watch my most precious, beloved, soulmate of a cat snuggling day and night with someone else — although it's painful to see his rapt, adoring gaze. And all the while, said husband is struggling to remain glued to his laptop despite the large distracting object that keeps appearing inconveniently between his head and the screen.

My weapon is Truth. I've taken to reminding Possum that I had to fight to get him. That a certain party didn't want him because of his clipped ear. I won't waste your time listing the pithy points I used to demolish his argument that Possum was not right for us because of his ear. (Oh, for god's sake....) I'll just say that I was "emphatic" and that a certain party was forcibly gotten over the ear thing long ago.

And then I can't help mentioning to Possum that, back when we'd first met him, a certain party also demanded that we only get a female kitten, which the rescue people had said Possum was. I'd wanted a male, because we already had Wendy, but I fell in love with Possum. (The other party preferred his sister, with two whole ears.) "He's a little BOY!" I crowed in delight after his foster mom called with the surprising news after his pre-adoption vet visit. (He was fluffy and already neutered.)

I won that argument, too.

Possum doesn't even blink when I tell him this stuff. He's heard it before and moved on: no grudge-holding from Possum. Male bonding and intense academic collaboration continue.

So then I'm forced to strike where it matters. "Possum," I say, "He might MAKE the popcorns, but who GIVES you the popcorns? Did he ever spare a single piece from his bowl for you? No! Never!"

Possum is a new popcorn convert — a popcorn fiend, in fact. My husband acts oblivious to his intense pressure tactics, but I dutifully take handfuls of popcorn and carefully inspect and edit them to a few perfect pieces with no sharp bits of unpopped shell that could cause choking. And when Possum gets them all soggy and disgusting because he's lousy at eating popcorn, I scoop up the wet bits with my fingers so he can finish them off.

I deserve a ton of credit for this, I do.

Talking about popcorn always gets his attention, so then I say, "And what about the bicycle rickshaw? Spring is coming! WHO is going to have time to pedal you around to the restaurant dumpsters of your choice, and WHO is too busy working 80 hours a week to ever take you anywhere but to the vet?

If I'm lucky he'll feel guilty and visit me in the middle of the night, walking around on me as I'm curled up on my side. It's awkward and his feet feel very hard and pointy at that hour, but I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Singer

Wendy likes to sing when she carries her green snake around the apartment. "Singing" is the best way to describe her vocalizing; it's more operatic and sustained than meowing, and more varied and tuneful than howling. (Try singing with a fuzzy toy in your mouth and see how you do. It's not easy.)

She performs for a couple of minutes several times a week. We love hearing her, even when she wakes us in the night, because she sounds so happy and confident. When she does it while I'm on the phone with someone, the caller always hears her loud and clear.

We have no idea why she does this; our vet says it's a victory song, and she does sound proud. But it's not like that snake puts up more of a fight than her other toys; and she never sings with anything else. She's ignored the many other snakes I've gotten her after I noticed that old Green Snakey wasn't looking so chipper after years of being carried around in her mouth. And I never knew an outdoor cat to walk around singing while carrying a dead bird or mouse. Cats tend to keep that stuff on the QT so other cats won't try to take the victim for their own supper. The point is to eat it; not serenade it.

While none of my other cats has ever sung while carrying anything,* I know that plenty of cats do this sort of thing. It's hardly unique, but that doesn't make it any less baffling. I would love to know what's running through their minds... but then I would always love to know that.

But there's something else that baffles me, which other cat people can enlighten me about: do all cats sing in key and in rhythm when music is playing, as Wendy often does? She just sang along to a Traveling Wilburys tune, meowing on the beat and in the right key. She's harmonized with a few Springsteen songs, too, and meowed along to a few Christmas carols as well. Since cats aren't supposed to care for our music, that seems very weird, and it's happened too often to be a coincidence. Wendy is a near-total mystery to me for many reasons, but I do know that she likes Tom Petty and Bruce.

* I once had a cat who meowed along to certain Chopin and Brahms piano melodies, but he didn't have a toy in his mouth.

Monday, March 16, 2015

One More for the Record

We had a little snowstorm yesterday. We got just a couple of inches, but it was enough to officially break Boston's record for the highest seasonal snowfall since 1872 — a little over 108 inches, or 9 feet of accumulation.

I was glad the record-breaking snow finally came. I like winter, and I feel it might as well snow if it's going to be cold anyhow. I especially liked the way the new snow covered the filthy old snow piles with a clean, white layer. Even those of us who like winter agree that dirty snow is a depressing sight if there ever was one. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pairs Slacking Revived... Again

I found Toffee and Possum practicing a pairs slacking position (the Symmetrical Curl) last night. Pairs slacking has always been our cats' favorite competitive sport. I haven't seen anyone training in a while. It's a fairly nerve-wracking activity and it helps to have a coach. Our cameo Persian Snalbert used to coach Wendy and Possum, and we all miss him... and his catty, Dick-Button-esque demands for perfection.

For those of you who are new here and don't know about Pairs Slacking, here's my standard explanation:
This sport's competitions are high-pressure, breathtaking and emotional — similar to those in [human] figure skating. But here, the nitpicking international judges are looking for unison in lazy posing and an exquisitely lethargic attitude in each lounging couple. 
The judging criteria include flopping down in unison, equal mastery of slacking technique, lack of energy, lack of choreography, lack of interpretation, sloppiness of pose, sleepiness of eyes, and graceful foot and tail positions. They get points for achieving all of that.
Points are deducted for seeming too alert or creative, excessive tail energy or ear movement, twitching, being startled by noise (a big challenge for Wendy), and falling or slipping off the slacking surface. Teams lose major points if there is more than one element in their program, i.e., they change position, or if they appear to have practiced too hard. It's a really tricky sport....
If you want more background on how pairs slacking has been practiced by my cats, you can browse or look at my sports photos here.

Keep in mind that we live in Massachusetts. Some states require the slacking cat couples to be of mixed gender, beginning with Pre-Junior Level events. Massachusetts was the first state to allow same-sex couples to compete, and more states have been adopting the Massachusetts Rules.

That's a lucky thing for our cats because Wendy gets terribly nervous, even when practicing. She'd probably blow a gasket in actual competition. The boys do much better training with each other.

As you can see, Toffee and Possum are working on a fairly elementary pose and aren't taking themselves too seriously. They both look like they are really asleep and appear to be sunken into the sofa like two little sacks of cement. Their tails have pleasing curves and they look casual and graceful — but not to much. But they have a looonnnnng way to go. Both of them are displaying considerable tension in their right ears. It can take years of practice to master ear control. They also need to work on their pose because they are not identical. Possum is showing too much foot, while Toffee is showing too much front paw.

If Snalbert were still with us, he'd be yelling his head off at them and moving them closer together because they aren't advanced enough in their technique to perform so far apart. At their ages and ability levels, they are still Juniors, although Possum is 5 years old now, and could transition into Intermediate — if he were more committed and put more hours into training.