Geronimo’s hot summer. (Desert tortoise update!)

A quick Geronimo update is in order! We’re in the swing of summer now, and Geronimo has gotten with the program.

Geronimo’s daily summer pattern is to chill in the dark depth of the cave he’s dug out for himself, and…

well, that’s his pattern.

But he does come out to bask in the sun for a little while at least every other day (usually in the late morning), just for a quarter of an hour or so. Then he goes right back into his burrow and disappears in his cave.

Every once in a while, we’ll see him cruise around the yard eating grasses and low-hanging hibiscus flowers.

He’ll sometimes emerge from his cave to sit in the patio part of his burrow, facing out. He likes it when he does this and we sit with him on the outside. He enjoys our company, even if he’s out of reach. How do I know this? He told me. A mother knows.

 

Geronimo in the summer

 

Once a week, usually on the weekend, Geronimo comes out and we’ll soak him for as long as he’ll lets us, which is pretty much just as long as he needs to drink water.

He has a drinking routine; it involves sticking his whole head below the surface. He blinks his eyes underwater a few times and squirts water through his nostrils when he comes up for air. It’s like he’s rinsing out his eyes and nose, which is probably exactly what he’s doing.

Have I ever mentioned that his favorite part of soaking day is the Romaine lettuce he gets for his after-bath treat? And then we’ll pull some hibiscus flowers from the top branches of the hibiscus bushes and hand-feed them to him. His favorite!

Geronimo and his flowers.

Geronimo Shovelhands. (Desert tortoise update!)

All has been business as usual around here, and then one day I saw dirt flying out of Geronimo’s burrow. Next thing I knew, Geronimo was gone.

(Spoiler alert: he didn’t stay gone.)

For being such slow creatures, tortoises have a way of making things happen fast. Ours does, at least. I don’t know why this surprises me anymore. I just… when Geronimo started digging out the back corner of his burrow, I didn’t know he was going to dig until he was out of sight! He dug deep enough to get under the cinder block walls, and then he dug straight ahead, still at a diagonal, carving out a tunnel. I suppose that’s the definition of an actual tortoise burrow. Duh.

In my moment of alarm, though, I went to Facebook to freak out, because that’s what Facebook is for. Also, I have tortoise parent friends who would possibly offer comments or insights (and they did – thanks guys)! My freak-out went something like: 1). Where is Geronimo going? How far will he go? Where will he end up? Will we ever see him again? and in the comments and a few DMs: 2). Isn’t it dangerous that he’s dug beneath the cinder block structure of his burrow? Now there’s a mountain of packed dirt on top of cinder blocks supported by nothing! How is this possible? What if the blocks cave in? Will they crush Geronimo? Will they trap and smother him? GAHHHHHHHH

When we built the burrow, we thought that Geronimo would just chill at the back of it, and he did, for a while. When the days started heating up, he built his real burrow. Turns out that all we built was a semi-enclosed porch… which is fine. We’re pleased that Geronimo loves his burrow enough to feel that it’s a good entrance to the lair he’s digging out for himself.

Meanwhile, Callaghan started the process of securing the burrow’s cinder block walls to its plywood ceiling with construction-grade metal brackets, performing the necessary contortions in defying the laws of spatial limitation. I, myself, can barely fit my upper body into the burrow. Callaghan has to reach in and maneuver a drill in the far-back upper corner!

I don’t know how Callaghan does it, exactly, but he does. I know that his process involves lying on a couple of large tiles. Consequently, each time he finishes fastening a bracket and clears out for the day – only one bracket can be done at a time – Geronimo goes back to his burrow and gets mad because the dirt inside had been flattened out; he has to dig at the burrow floor in order to fluff it up again.

This guy!

 

Geronimo digging. You can just see his little back elephant leg behind the spray of dirt.

 

Long update short: Geronimo spends his nights (and most of his days) deep in his new digs (literally). Also, he’s adorable. Nothing new there!

 

Yummyliciousness happened.

All in one breath: We trekked to California for a Thanksgiving extravaganza of riotous family togetherness with long-lost cousins and uncle and I finally came to understand “once removed” as I met some First Cousins Once Removed and yes, I do feel enlightened and very lucky to have learned this, as the lesson came about when I met some awesome relatives for the first time! OH and the extravaganza included cooking shenanigans involving an array of never-before-tried recipes, all vegan, I believe, and all tasty! I wrangled with some heads of cauliflower that predictably fought back by launching bits of themselves at me and the floor, but my helpful cousins noticed and picked the cauliflower out of my hair and eyebrows. I couldn’t help but envision the kitchen as a wintry Japanese hot springs full of snow monkeys engaged in social grooming. If Japanese snow monkeys could laugh, they would sound like us. We’re not as adorable as they are, though.

 

Japanese macaques (snow monkeys)

Japanese macaques (snow monkeys)

 

It was just so good to reconnect and laugh with my California first-cousin crew!!!

Back at Mom and Dad’s house, I started to write an actual post for this morning, but it spiraled into oblivion in the direction of something I wasn’t prepared to write at the moment. I’ll save that post for another day, if I pursue it all, which I may not.

So today, in closing, I would like to sign off with this selfie I took while snuggling with my new niece, aka my sister-in-law’s dog. I got to meet her this morning! It was love at first sight.

 

My niece is cuter than yours. She has soft ears. Your argument is invalid.

My niece is cuter than yours. She has soft ears. Your argument is invalid.

 

Until next time!

That cauliflower recipe, by the way, is outrageously good. I have it, courtesy of my cousin who brought it to us. I will make that cauliflower dish again… and I will win when the cauliflower attacks.

B*tch, please. (July kitty updates.)

If you follow here, you might be wondering how things are going with the furkids. The short answer is, it’s going. Everyone is healthy. There’s more than enough love, affection, and laser-beam entertainment to go around. We’re all getting used to playing musical kitties between rooms and areas of the house, but this is not the ideal situation; it’s temporary.

Sporadic and very vocal skirmishes did lead us to a point, though. We finally had to decide on a course of action, and it was the only rational one: Set them up for rap battles.

Rap battles are battles that cats can wage without claws.

Such as it is that all three kitties now have rap names.

  • Nounours: MC Nooner-Noonerz.
  • Nenette: MC PlayaLot.
  • Cita: MCita NightJamz.

 

Here’s how these cool cats are faring:

MC Nooner-Noonerz (Nounours)

 

B*tch, please.

B*tch, please.

 

MC Nooner-Noonerz drinking water between rounds.

MC Nooner-Noonerz drinking water between rounds.

 

MC PlayaLot (Nenette)

 

Rapping with her good-luck feathers on the mic.

Rapping with her good-luck feathers on the mic.

 

MC PlayaLot chillin' like a villain.

MC PlayaLot chillin’ like a villain.

 

MCita NightJamz (Cita)

 

MCita NightJamz warming up backstage.

MCita NightJamz warming up backstage.

 

(Like Nenette, Cita immediately developed a fondness for this silly porcelain cat on my desk. The appeal of said porcelain cat to real cats will remain one of life’s great mysteries.)

 

Talking trash: "Choke! Choke!"

Talking trash: “Choke! Choke!”

 

It was a draw. They’re all so determined!

Not sure if any of this answered questions you may have had about these little guys. It answers a lot for us, though.

By the way, none of the above pics was photo-shopped. Here’s my favorite example of a photo-shopped cat pic:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-TheMagicOfPhotoshop

 

Until next time, then.

How I manage my mental illness.

I’ve touched on some of this in various posts in the past, but I’ve been asked to share an actual list of tactics I use to maintain my mental health.

First of all, I accept that PTSD and clinical depression are a part of who I am. Mental illness and the management of it are “my normal,” and this acceptance helps a lot.

It also helps to accept the fact that just as there are great days, there are horrible days, and days ranging between the two. Sometimes, all the meds and talk therapy and things on the list below just aren’t enough. When this happens, I try to recognize that “this, too, shall pass,” keeping it all in perspective. (I know that this is so much easier said than done. I can say it easily now, when I’m not at the bottom of the abyss of hopelessness and despair. All we can do is try.)

That being said, here’s my list… things I do to manage my mental illness:

1). I avoid alcohol (with few exceptions).

Alcohol is a depressant. It also counters or otherwise negatively interacts with medications taken for mental illness. Consuming alcohol on a regular basis is never advisable for the mentally ill.

2). I take medication and talk to my therapist on a regular basis.

Meds and talk therapy are basic, first-line tactics of controlling mental illness. It’s critically important to adhere to such a routine and to have my external resources at hand. I regularly visit my doctor at the V.A. hospital, and I know that I always have access to emergency help at a national veterans’ crisis line.

3). I work out and try to eat well (within reason, making sure to maintain a healthy balance).

Exercise heightens our mood by way of its effect on our brain chemistry. It leads to improved physical fitness, which improves our physical health. (For this reason, more and more companies are including gym membership coverage fees in their employees’ benefits packages.) Improved physical health reduces stress and makes us feel more energetic and better about ourselves, in general. Choosing healthier food options most of the time comprises the other half of this picture.

4). I have routines, and I stick to them.

Routines are underestimated and even sneered upon. We like to say that spontaneity is critical to quality of life, and there is certainly something to that, but the fact is that routine can provide us with mental health benefits, too. Routines are valuable. They can be soothing when everything else is chaos. Routines can give us a sense of control and accomplishment.

5). I eliminate toxic factors in my life (to the best of my ability).

The word “toxic” is overused in our current vocabulary (instigated, I suspect, by self-help gurus, but that’s beside the point) – and yet, it captures this point well. In a nutshell, a toxic factor is that which makes us feel badly about ourselves. It’s a negative and destructive force and presence in our lives.

Toxic factors can include situations, places, and/or people and relationships. It’s not always possible to eliminate such factors; when we can’t, we can seek out ways to lessen their negative impact. I recently liberated myself from an utterly demoralizing situation, and that leap hugely improved my mental health and quality of life.

6). I engage my creative energy to the fullest extent possible.

If you have creative juices, let them flow. If you have hobbies, indulge in them. If you don’t have a hobby, get one. Losing ourselves in the physical act of doing something we enjoy goes beyond mere escapism. It often involves honing talents with which we’ve been blessed. The act of doing something physical that requires the creative part of our brains is beneficial to our mental health. There’s a reason why occupational therapy is a part of an in-patient mental illness patient’s prescribed agenda.

7). I have cats.

Connecting with animals on an emotional level and caring for them has proven to be a powerful stress reducer, improving our mental and physical health. Our relationships with our pets can actually extend our lives, improve the quality of our lives, and even save our lives. I can’t think of anything that can compare to cultivating the love and trust of an animal. (I say “animal,” but this applies to birds and fish, too.)

 

Nounours: Please to not underestimate the healing powers of my purrs.

Nounours: Please to not underestimate the healing powers of my purrs.

 

8). I actively express my compassion for others in one way or another, however small.

Example: I don’t have time to physically go and volunteer at homeless shelters, so I choose to do my part by providing with water. I make sure to have one or two small bottles of cold water with me when I leave the house, especially in the hot months.

We buy generic water in bulk, keep the bottles in the refrigerator, and give them to the homeless when we see them on the street or at a red light. (Admittedly, I try to identify those homeless who are vets, though I’ll give water to any homeless person, of course.) Every time, without fail, the person takes the bottle of cold water with visible – sometimes overwhelming – gratitude and joy, which they express in such an open and heartfelt manner that I’m instantly put in empathetic touch with their plight. Water is never an unwelcome thing. The person usually opens it and chugs it immediately.

Kindness is invaluable for the human spirit.

Giving water to drink means and accomplishes much more than giving change or a dollar. Giving water with a smile is an act that says, “I recognize that you’re a human being and deserving of this basic, life-saving thing. Someone cares about you and your well-being.” I don’t think it’s necessary to explain how showing compassion to the needy can be anything but beneficial to all involved.

9). I set goals for myself and plan things to anticipate.

I believe I devoted an entire blog post to this. Having agenda items to look forward to is a pleasurable thing. It can also, in the worst of times, give us a reason to keep on keeping on.

10). I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. (Still trying. Still mostly failing. But still trying).

This can’t be stressed enough: Adequate sleep and quality sleep are important for optimal physical and mental health and well-being.

11). I count my blessings and nurture my relationships with loved ones.

One word: Gratitude.

Being grateful for what we have – and who we have – is an incredibly powerful reminder that things could always be worse.

 

Keeping it real.

Keeping it real.

 

That sums it up: In addition to acceptance, meds, and professional talk therapy, I manage my mental illness by working on physical health, stress reduction, and gratitude. I try.

Changes in the hizzy. (Kitty updates)

I usually present my kitty updates on the positive end of the spectrum of current feline happenings. Today, I’m here on a more subdued note, but a positive one nonetheless. Things are not always sunshine and happy bunnies throughout. Things are sometimes dark rain and miserable bunnies, but even on those days, you can usually find a sun-splashed cloud somewhere.

[/cheesy metaphor intro]

After my kitty update post last week, things amongst the felines took a turn from the challenging to the Very Challenging. But we are working through it.

It’s funny. I thought I was knowledgeable about cats and inter-cat relationships, and my knowledge was on point at one time… but now it’s out of date. I mean, it’s funny how you don’t realize that your information is outdated until you trip and fall on the evidence right in front of you. With my knowledge lagging back in the Dark Ages, and Callaghan following my lead, we’ve made some mistakes in the last two weeks.

In short, it’s been a Rumble in the KittyHood.

It’s been the KittyPocalypse.

It’s been exhausting.

It was time to call an expert.

I consulted a renowned Feline Behaviorist, and with her compassion, talent, expert analysis, and guidance, we’re heading back to the ol’ drawing board  (cats in hand) to start afresh. As far as we’re concerned, no one up in here knows anyone.

Goals! Lots of goals.

At present, I’ve got some new kitty pics to share.

Cita:

 

Cita, "Cat with big paw"

Cita, “Cat with big paw”

 

Cita exploring the mysteries of life on the table of death.

Cita exploring the mysteries of life on the table of death.

 

Before I moved my working set-up out to the dining room table...

Before I moved my working set-up out to the dining room table…

 

Nounours:

 

Nounours, our teddy bear with glassy eyes.

Nounours, our teddy bear with glassy eyes.

 

Our beloved Nounours.

Our beloved Nounours.

 

Nenette:

 

When Nenette hears her name.

When Nenette hears her name.

 

When Nenette doesn't hear her name. "Cat draped over a living room speed bump"

When Nenette doesn’t hear her name. “Cat draped over a living room speed bump”

 

Obligatory upside-down kitty pic.

Obligatory upside-down kitty pic.

 

Our goal… all we want!… is for everyone (meaning the cats) to be happy together.

Cita’s in da house. (Cat mom blog/kitty update.)

The short story: Our neighbor didn’t care about his cat. We fostered her in our backyard, and we have her inside now because he moved away and left her homeless. That happened on Saturday.

The long story: To be clear, we never took her and put her in our backyard. She came with the house… I mean, the day we moved in, she greeted us on the doorstep. She was the one-cat welcoming party. We thought she was a stray.

We found an old paper plate holding the remnants of cat food next to the house. We assumed it was for her. Maybe someone who used to rent our house abandoned her…?

She looked to be healthy and well-fed for a stray, but it seemed that she occupied the entire block. We thought maybe she ate off of old paper plates at different houses on the street. She didn’t continue to eat off of paper plates at our house, though. We resisted putting food out for her. If she did have a home somewhere, we didn’t want to encourage her to hang out on our property more than she already did.

The few neighbors we got to know said that they often saw her around in their yards, but no one knew if she belonged to anyone. Everyone thought she was a stray. She was “The Neighborhood Cat.”

She was cute and obviously intelligent. I went out of my way – way out of my way – to ignore her the whole first year we lived here, because I know me. I didn’t want to get attached to someone else’s cat. She was always here… in the front yard, at the front door, on the patio, on the side of the house, in the backyard, at the back door. It was hard to ignore her friendly meows and her soft, furry little body winding around my ankles, but I managed to look the other way. For a long time, I never even looked down at her, because I didn’t want to see her eyes.

We started referring to her as Ronnie James’ girlfriend, as she and the Wrah-Wrah fondly gazed at each other nose-to-nose through our living room window. (Our cats never go outside.)

Ronnie James died in the spring. The little black cat kept hanging around. Renters living in surrounding houses came and went. No one knew her, but everyone knew her.

In the late spring, she appeared to be pregnant. Then she vanished for a month, only to reappear looking not pregnant. She had to have been in some house somewhere, we thought.

At the end of the summer, visiting relatives stayed with us for a couple of weeks. When we gathered on the front patio to enjoy the night monsoons, the little cat would be there, too, purring under the hands of our cousins. She was cute, intelligent, and affectionate.

One afternoon I rounded the corner onto our street as I was walking home from work, and she came sprinting toward me with utter glee from the other end. I was taken aback and amazed that she saw me from so far away, especially since I was still in my ignoring-her phase. That was the day I broke down and petted her. How could I not?

Predictably, I started to fall in love with her as I relaxed my guard. The week of Halloween, I kept a vigilant eye out – black cats on the street tend to be more at-risk during Halloween.

Finally, about seven months ago, Callaghan managed to approach the mysterious occupant of the house next door. (Not the various bros in the house on our other side. We knew them, and they knew nothing about the little cat.)

“Oh yeah, that’s my cat,” the neighbor informed Callaghan.

We never knew the guy’s name. We knew that his house had a revolving door through which different people would pass at random times 24/7, but he himself was hard to pin down. “She comes and goes. Sometimes she’s gone for days. There was this one time my friend saw her at the Circle K,” he said, referencing the convenience store/gas station down the street.

We couldn’t believe that anyone could be so nonchalant about his cat roaming around outside, eating off of old paper plates at different houses and ending up at gas stations.

He also told Callaghan that he’d had her since she was a kitten. (Me to Callaghan: “WTF! How can you have a cat since she was a kitten and then leave her outside to fend for herself?”)

It’s one thing to let your cat outside. It’s another thing to leave her outside to the point where everyone thinks she’s a stray.

The neighbor went on to confirm that his cat had been pregnant, and he had her spayed after the kittens were born. With this, we had to believe that she belonged to him. (We don’t know what happened to her kittens. We never saw them.)

This last December, the cat appeared in our backyard laundry room on an exceptionally chilly day. What could we do? She seemed hungry and cold. It was too much. Compassion insisted that we drop our demeanor of indifference, neighbor or no neighbor. We lined a cardboard box with blankets, put it against the wall by the dryer, and set out dishes of dry cat food and water. From that day on, she made our property her official home base. She’d go out and make her morning and evening rounds around the neighborhood, and then she’d come back to our house. Always.

At some point, the neighbor acquired two more cats… male cats. He left them outside, too, of course, and they bullied the little black cat, who by then we’d named “Cita.” (If she had a name before, we never knew what it was. The guy never told us, and we never heard him calling for her.)

We habitually chased the other cats off our property when we’d catch them menacing Cita. Ferocious cat fights would wake us up in the middle of the night. One morning, we found her on our back patio with a big, oozing wound on her flank. We were furious. Why didn’t he care?

Recently, I saw her limping after jumping down the fence to get into our yard, so we cut out a little cat door for her at the bottom of the gate. The gratitude she displayed when we showed it to her was heartbreaking.

Cita played with the cat toys we put on the back patio. She used the litter box we put out there, too. Yes, an outdoor cat used a litter box! We spent more and more time with her, just hanging out and bonding. She’d already gotten to know Nounours and Nenette through the windows. I started to tentatively include her in my Kitty Update posts.

Despite everything, we assumed that the neighbor would want her in the end. He didn’t. On Saturday morning, the day after I included her in my last Kitty Update post, he drove off with all of his stuff in a giant U-Haul truck and left her behind. He never came around asking about her. He literally abandoned her.

On the one hand, we were sad for her. On the other hand, we were glad that he didn’t take her away to be neglected somewhere else.

Suddenly, she was officially our responsibility.

We bought her a collar and a tag.

 

Pink and leopard print jewelry for Cita, my cell phone number on the back of the tag being the most important part, of course.

Pink and leopard print jewelry for Cita, my cell phone number on the back of the tag being the most important part, of course.

 

We took her to the vet that same day before we brought her into the house.

 

We agree. Cita is a gorgeous cat, and now she's a vaccinated and microchipped cat, too.

We agree. Cita is a gorgeous cat, and now she’s a vaccinated and microchipped cat, too.

 

Then we brought her home. She’ll never go outside again, because she’s our cat now, and we don’t have outdoor cats.

We thought Cita would rebel and demand to go out, but she didn’t. She politely asked to go out just twice, but she wasn’t upset when we didn’t open the door. It was almost like she was testing us to verify that she wasn’t dreaming.

Cita’s transition from outdoor cat to indoor cat went seamlessly. As for her relationship with Nounours and Nenette… that’s a different story. The first two days went pretty well, but today, Day Three, they took a step (or three) back, which is why this post is late. I’ve spent the morning babysitting, herding, and supervising cats. It will take time. We’ll get through it. We will persevere!

Here is Cita before (outdoors):

 

Cita: "Under my tough street kid exterior I'm really a pampered house cat."

Cita: “Under my tough street kid exterior I’m really a pampered house cat.”

 

And after (indoors):

 

Cita: "See! I AM a pampered house cat."

Cita: “See! I AM a pampered house cat.”

 

Cita’s “before” pic was taken just one week ago! She’s stayed glossy and black since bathing herself for the first time indoors. She’s no longer a dusty desert kitty.

 

Now Cita can bathe without having to lick off layers of desert dust.

Now Cita can bathe without having to lick off layers of desert dust.

 

Here she is after just one night inside:

 

Cita's first morning as an indoor cat.

Cita’s first morning as an indoor cat.

 

It’s wonderful to see her so happy!

 

Nenette and Cita resting together in the dusk.

Nenette and Cita resting together in the dusk.

 

(Don’t let that peaceful picture fool you. It was World War III in here this morning.)

Hopefully, Cita will never have to employ her survival skills again.

Cats are domestic animals. Just because they can survive outside doesn’t mean they should be outside. There are dangers outside! At heart, all cats prefer to be indoor cats. Cita hasn’t looked back.

Nounours is a badass in Nounours clothing, and other kitty updates.

These last two weeks, man.

I went to my eye doctor – my REAL eye doctor this time, for the first time in years – had all of the tests done in a full examination, and ordered some new glasses that I’m excited about. That’s the plus. The minus is that the tests yielded some disappointing outcomes. (More on this later, perhaps.)

That along with national news items more sickening than usual, and I’m very glad to post a kitty update post today… pics included, of course!

Nenette’s New Things:

~Stalking and stealing my hair ties.

~Drinking from our glasses of water… to the point where she mostly shuns her water bowls. To the point where she’s trained us to set out glasses of water in certain areas around the house. But hey! Providing Nenette with glasses of water (25% room temperature, 75% chilled, mind you) in hot weather is a small thing to do for a thirsty kitty.

~Jumping up on my desk and posing exactly like the white porcelain cat. She does this a lot, and it’s slightly disturbing in a cute sort of way:

 

Nenette: "WHY does this weird white cat copy everything I do?!"

Nenette: “WHY does this weird white cat copy everything I do?!”

 

Still impossible to say no to this face.

 

Nenette's halo was cut off in this pic, but you can imagine it there.

Nenette’s halo was cut off in this pic, but you can imagine it there.

 

All of the cool, flat surfaces, all of the time.

All of the cool, flat surfaces, all of the time.

 

Nounours’ New Things:

~Nothing.

Nounours is Nounours, and we’re just fine with that. The big purr-monster is perfect the way he is!

 

All of the rugs, all of the time.

All of the rugs, all of the time.

 

Nounours naps like a boss.

Nounours naps like a boss.

 

Nounours: "I'm a badass in Nounours clothing."

Nounours: “I’m a badass in Nounours clothing.”

 

Cita’s New Things:

~Winning at adopting us. Closely related New Thing: being spoiled with love and concern, as every kitty should be.

~Methodically guarding the perimeter of her territory (our backyard) every night after dinner.

~Spending her days napping in the fort I made for her under the lounge chair on the back patio. She also enjoys hanging out next to the hibiscus plants.

 

All of the shade, all of the time.

All of the shade, all of the time.

 

Cita looking more and more like the cherished little girl that she is:

 

Cita: "Beneath my tough street kid exterior I'm really a pampered house cat."

Cita: “Beneath my tough street kid exterior I’m really a pampered house cat.”

 

Like Nenette, Cita has a way of imitating non-animate cats.

 

Le Chat Noir on the left. Cita on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Le Chat Noir on the left. Cita on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

To be Continued!

Kitty updates in Haiku (Haiku 1: Cats)

Kitty updates today! I was feeling a pull toward something different when I sat down to write last night, so I went with it. What ended up happening was I wrote about Nounours and Nenette in haiku. It was a fun change of kitty-update pace, plus I’ve been thinking it’s kind of sad that I’ve written so few poems since getting my M.F.A. in Creative Writing with a Poetry concentration.

If you’re not into haiku or poetry in general, just scroll on down… I added a paragraph of non-haiku kitty updates under the last pic.

 

Haiku 1: Cats

(by Kristi Garboushian)

1.

Bedtime ritual –

the voyeur of espresso,

wicker ball, a lyre.

 

Nenette cleaning her feet at bedtime.

Nenette cleaning her feet at bedtime.

 

 

2.

His roaring soft self

to curl, melt the desert bright

in pastoral glow.

 

Nounours in the nest Daddy made.

Nounours in the nest Daddy made.

 

 

3.

A swing, a feather

like a river marring stars:

Possibility.

 

Nenette deciding which toy.

Nenette deciding which toy.

 

 

4.

The round vacancy –

morning routine, following

the feral other.

 

Nenette and Nounours enjoying a sunbeam.

Nenette and Nounours enjoying a sunbeam.

 

In plain speech, Nounours and Nenette have been happily snuggling down in their special nighttime beds that we put together for them: Nenette on her padded bar-stool (in the bedroom corner next to my side of the bed) that I’d swathed in t-shirts I’d worn, and Nounours in the couch nest that Callaghan made with a serape and random cushions.

Nenette still loves her toy corner in the living room more than anything! She studies her toy basket and paws at the toys she wants, lifting them out with her teeth.

On weekend mornings, I’m home to watch both kitties winter sunbathing in beams on the floor.

They’re doing well.

2015 Favorites!

Today, instead of “December Favorites,” I’m diving right into my top favorite little things (some not so little!) of the year that just ended. These are my favorites of the favorites… if some of them are from December, you wouldn’t have seen them here before.

If you’re curious or you just enjoy these “Favorites” posts, read on! Here are the things I loved the most in 2015:

1). Favorite cruelty-free skin care products: Burt’s Bees coconut & pear moisturizing lip balm, The Body Shop camomile waterproof eye and lip make-up remover, The Body Shop honey & oat 3-in-1 scrub mask, Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 face cream, Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter eye treatment, Alba Botanica Hawaiian facial cleanser pore purifying pineapple enzyme, and Alba Botanica Hawaiian facial scrub pore purifying pineapple enzyme.

2). Favorite T.V. series: Empire, The Affair, American Crime, Better Call Saul, Hannibal, The Good Wife, American Horror Story: Hotel, Jessica Jones, Modern Family, Scream Queens, and Master of None.

3). Favorite films: Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, Southpaw, Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Bridge of Spies, Creed, The Revenant, Soaked in Bleach (documentary), and Tyke Elephant Outlaw (documentary).

4). Favorite cruelty-free cosmetics: Too Faced Born This Way foundation in Nude, e.l.f. Essential volumizing & defining mascara (black), Burt’s Bees 100% natural lip crayon in Redwood Forest, e.l.f. High Definition powder in Shimmer, Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage concealer in Light Neutral, and Flower by Kenzo l’Elixer (perfume).*

5). Favorite foods: Dave’s Killer Organic Bread in 100% whole wheat, Arrowhead Mills organic buckwheat pancake & waffle mix, any natural no-added-B.S. creamy peanut butter, Lara fruit and nut bars, fresh pineapple, fresh artichokes, pasta with garlic and olive oil, and Sting ‘n’ Linger habanero salsa.

6). Favorite random thing: New footwear for the gym… Asics Gel-Venture 5 running shoes.

7). Favorite random events: Setting up our home gym in the garage, adopting our little girl kitty Nenette, going to Drag Bingo, and plastering my (work) Mac with a Microsoft Windows Ninja Cat Riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex laptop sticker.

2015 Highlights: Outfitting our garage as a home gym in January and adopting Nenette on the 4th of July were definitely high points!

*****

Four images and a video clip:

We’re enjoying our home gym immensely now that it’s not 110 degrees. The heat kept us out of the garage all summer. This year, we have a plan for making the space tolerable during the hot months, so we won’t have to stop training in there for so long.

 

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

 

(I’ll go into more home gym detail in a future post!)

Meanwhile, Nenette says, “Don’t breed or buy while homeless animals die. Adopt a pet and save a life.”

 

Stocking stuffers! Nenette laying next to her new wicker ball, hugging her new mousie.

Stocking stuffers! Nenette laying next to her new wicker ball, hugging her new mousie.

 

What really happened to Kurt Cobain? The makers of Soaked in Bleach lay it all out. They don’t draw a conclusion, but the evidence, if it is what they say it is, is damning. This excellent documentary reveals details surrounding Cobain’s death that shocked us, quite frankly. I highly recommend this film, even if you don’t know or care about Kurt Cobain or Nirvana or music.

 


thatasianlookingchick.com-soaked-in-bleach_from_live-metal-dot-net

 

The final episode of Hannibal was glorious…

 

Maybe the most beautiful scene I've ever viewed in a television series. (Hannibal)

Maybe the most beautiful scene I’ve ever viewed in a television series. (Hannibal)

 

And The Affair? Its opening sequence’s images paired with the music and lyrics of Fiona Apple’s song (“Container,” which she wrote specifically for The Affair) become increasingly spooky and suggestive of clues as the story develops. By the middle of Season 2, we found ourselves replaying the opening from time to time, stopping and starting to search the images for answers. It’s haunting. It gives me chills. I love it.

 

 

(Don’t even get me started on Maura Tierney’s great performance, especially when she sings Lucinda Williams’ “Changed the Locks” in S2, Episode 4.)

HOWEVER, if I had to pick just ONE series as my current number one favorite, I’d have to say it’s Empire. If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you’ll love it, too, or you’ll at least see where I’m coming from. And Taraji P. Henson as Cookie is phenomenal.

 

*Kenzo’s perfumes aren’t tested on animals, and I’m glad because this perfume I’m wearing now was a gift. I adore the fragrance. I wouldn’t want it to collect dust.

Thanksgiving, TALC-versary, NEW KITTY PICS!

Today falls between two days of significance: Thanksgiving and my TALC-versary, the latter being more of personal significance, of course.

So, happy belated Thanksgiving, American readers!

And happy 3-year TALC-versay to me, which actually feels like an extension of Thanksgiving, because I’m grateful for this blog. I’m especially grateful for all of you who read it. I wrote my first post on November 28, 2012 after creating my WordPress account sans clear idea of what it would involve. Sometimes it’s more fun not knowing, though, and fun, it has been. I can’t say it enough: Thank you all for reading! Here’s to the next three years!

Yesterday marked our first Thanksgiving here in the Land of AZ since we moved back. It was just the two of us and kitties this year. We talked to Mom and Dad on Skype and then did the traditional thing of eating a lot and catching up on Scream Queens.

For the food, I kept things simple and made savory dishes to satisfy the palate the same way as the traditional Thanksgiving spread. I made quinoa and brown rice pilaf with sautéed mushrooms and garlic, roasted baby red-skinned potatoes and onions, roasted Brussels sprouts, and thick eggplant slices lightly fried in olive oil. We had fresh, cooked broccoli with Veganaise for an appetizer, and fresh raspberries for dessert.

 

Thanksgiving dinner 2015.

Thanksgiving dinner 2015.

 

Now for some pics for a mini visual kitty update!

 

No one lounges like the Nounours.

No one lounges like the Nounours.

 

No one poses better than la petite Nenette.

No one poses better than la petite Nenette.

 

I managed to catch Nounours in a rare moment of being properly illuminated for the camera. You can even see the blue of his eyes!

I managed to catch Nounours in a rare moment of being properly illuminated for the camera. You can even see the blue of his eyes!

 

Nenette has taken to resting on the back of the couch to be near us.

Nenette has taken to resting on the back of the couch to be near us.

 

It's funny how these two often sit near each other on this end of the couch.

It’s funny how these two often sit near each other on this end of the couch.

 

Also! Kitties’ Aunty Carol captioned one of Nenette’s pics from the last update:

 

"What is HE doing here????"

“What is HE doing here????”

 

Yes, Nenette really says that sometimes when she’s in the same space as Nounours, and he says the same thing of her. Their dynamic is mysterious and Callaghan and I mostly try to avoid intervening too much, but I admit that I’m a helicopter cat mom who sometimes hovers over the furbabies to make sure Nounours keeps his intimidation tactics to a minimum.

Today, we’re hiding from Black Friday madness. It feels like the day after Christmas, and that’s awesome.

How I Alone: Halloween safety precaution edition.

Callaghan’s been back for 11 days. I’d been alone in the house for 12 days, which isn’t an unusual situation, as he does have away-business of one kind or another every once in a while. I’m not here to gloat about the awesome time I had with the whole house to myself for almost two weeks. (Of course he was missed, but not terribly; thanks to Skype, I “saw” him several times a day.) I’m here to gloat about how I totally outdid myself on the aloning this time.

Yes, there’s a difference between “aloneness” (neutral/positive) and “loneliness” (negative). And yes, it’s “doing alone,” rather than “being alone.” I’m declaring “alone” to be a verb, because this is my blog, so I can. “To alone” refers to how you behave in the absence of human company, of course. You aren’t alone alone when you share your abode with cats or dogs or fish or iguanas or horses or an ant farm or whatever-you-have. (We have two furbabies of the feline persuasion, in case you weren’t aware.)

Aloning is an art, but this time, it occurred over Halloween, so there were special safety precautions to be taken, and that put a different slant on things. It was a learn-as-you-go sort of situation since I’d never aloned over Halloween before. As you can imagine, I came away with a wealth of knowledge. Such as, at dusk, you should close all the window coverings on the south side of your dwelling (in case of a siege such as zombie apocalypse).

You should fill up all of your five-gallon water bottles and hoard them in a closet (in case of zombie apocalypse).

If you don’t already have loyal animal children who will guard you with their lives, you can get a guard dog of some kind. If you’re more of a cat person, you can get an ocelot. If you’re allergic to dander and alligators aren’t your thing, you can get a carnivorous plant or a saguaro. (In case of zombie apocalypse.)

 

With saguaro and a bunch of sun and wind.

With saguaro and a bunch of sun and wind.

 

(The saguaro cactus in the picture isn’t at my house. It’s just near my house.)

You can keep a stash of delicious pickled turnips (in case of zombie apocalypse).

You can play the ukulele (in case of zombie apocalypse).

You can keep the gas tank in your car topped off in case the zombie apocalypse happens and you need to drive to Mexico, where zombies don’t go.

There are many things you can do that you’ll never realize until you’re alone over Halloween, and this is invaluable, especially since zombies are much worse than other things that can happen, such as three consecutive earthquakes (in the desert) one night and a threat of a mass shooting at your workplace the following day.

Each time is a learning experience. Maybe next year Callaghan will be away in early October and I’ll be able to write “How I Alone: Columbus Day edition.” The siege threat in that case would be even more formidable than zombies!

Seasons according to cats.

Today, I present – by popular demand – a kitty update.

Nounours and Nenette have continued to progress in their relationship with each other, but the biggest thing going on in their lives right now is that the seasons have changed. It’s officially sunbeam. If that sounds strange to you, it’s because you’re not up on your kittyese, or Catian, let’s say, which includes seasons according to cats.

In case you don’t already know, seasons according to cats are thus:

  • Sunbeam (fall)
  • Blanket (winter)
  • Shedding (spring)
  • Tabletop (summer)

In sunbeam, it’s chilly in the house, but the heater hasn’t been turned on yet. Cats seek out the sunbeams so they can lay in them and soak up the heat. (They also enjoy having their cold ears massaged by warm human fingers.)

In blanket, it’s colder… as cold as it’s going to get in the desert, which can be pretty cold, though there’s no snow. Cats have grown in their winter coats. At night, they either burrow under the blanket to sleep up against us, or they make a nest on top of the blanket, where they stay much of the day. Wherever there’s a blanket, there’s a cat curled up on it, cozily ensconced in its folds.

In shedding, it’s warming up, and cats begin to discard their winter coats, which come off in billions of little hairs that coat the whole house.

In tabletop, it’s hot. Cats seek out cool, flat surfaces, such as glass tabletops.

So it’s sunbeam season now, and I, of course, have failed to take pics of the hedonistic sunbeam-fest going on around here.

I do have these, though:

 

Nenette chewing her toes, as babies do.

Nenette chewing her toes, as babies do.

 

We now suspect that little Nenette was even younger than we’d all thought when we adopted her, because we swear she’s grown larger, frame-wise, in the four months that we’ve had her. We were told that she was six years old. Our vet said she thought Nenette was three or four years old. Now, we think she may have been closer to just one year old. No one really knows, but she’s definitely taking on more of an adult cat shape. She’s still bouncing around like a bunny with her little tailless Manx butt, though.

I took the next two pics while Callaghan was in France and the three of us were enjoying a lazy Sunday morning in bed:

 

Nounours sleeping on the bed.

Nounours sleeping on the bed.

 

A break-through: Nenette on the bed!

A break-through: Nenette on the bed!

 

Yes! While Callaghan was away, Nenette finally ventured onto the bed on a regular basis. The biggest break-through of all was that she actually slept next to me on Callaghan’s pillow at night.

Now that Callaghan is back, she’s having to adjust to his presence again. She loves him, and she loves to play with him, but she’s afraid of him. It’s kind of heart-breaking to see because it clearly shows that she’d been terrorized by some man in her former life.

 

Nounours being his lovable goof-ball self.

Nounours being his lovable goof-ball self.

 

This guy, I’m telling you. Nounours is the dorkiest, huggiest guy!

Here’s another one of Nenette:

 

Tiny Nenette hanging out in a bookcase cube.

Tiny Nenette hanging out in a bookcase cube.

 

Next, we have the two of them together!

 

This was a special evening for Nounours and Nenette.

This was a special evening for Nounours and Nenette.

 

The angle of this next one makes the lamp look crooked, but look at how they’re looking at each other…

 

So far, this is my favorite pic of Nounours and Nenette together.

So far, this is my favorite pic of Nounours and Nenette together.

 

So sweet!

But wait –  I found a sunbeam pic I’d forgotten about…

 

Nenette laying in a sunbeam, bathing her growing winter coat.

Nenette laying in a sunbeam, bathing her growing winter coat.

 

And this concludes our November edition of Friday Fluff: Nounours and Nenette update.

Moving into blanket season!

The state of the kittyverse chez nous.

I’ve accumulated some furbaby pictures over the last couple of months, so I thought I’d post a few, along with some intelligence from the home front. I’m mainly talking about Nenette, who has been making tentative strides in her transition to life with a family who actually cares for her and adores her, in a house in which she’s free to do what she wants and go where she pleases. We get the impression that this wasn’t the case before.

Nenette has come a long way, but there’s a final frontier: our bed. She’s reposed on the bed on several occasions, during the day, when the bed is made, but she’s afraid to go near it at night when we’re in it. It seems likely that at her former residence, she’d been chased off the bed and menaced away from it.

If we pick her up and gently place her on the bed at night, she’ll leap away like we’d set her down on a bed of hot coals. We’ve been working on it, and we’re happy to be seeing some progress now. Last night, she stood on the bed for a good minute. We watched her and saw the wheels turning (it’s funny how you can see this little girl’s mind working) as she surveyed the landscape and studied Nounours, who was asleep on the blanket at the foot of the bed. It was like she assessed the whole situation and thought about it before she left.

This morning, I woke up to find her sleeping on Ronnie James’ barstool near my side of the bed, which she’s been doing lately – another good sign. If she’s not sleeping with us on the bed, she’s at least sleeping near us. She’s gaining confidence!

Nenette hit her three-month-versary with us three days ago. She’s put on a little weight, she’s learned her name, she’s become significantly more comfortable with us, and, most recently, she’s started to play with Nounours, which is the best thing of all. Managing that situation has been another challenge, though, as Nounours is much larger than Nenette… and Nenette being declawed means that they can’t play on equal ground. He can actually hurt her and not get hurt back. We keep his claws trimmed. We keep an eye on things as they chase each other around, and if they start to tussle the way cats do, we firmly assert the need to play nice if it starts getting too rough. (In French… Nounours knows “Gentil!” better than he knows “Be nice!” Nounours is a French cat.)

So, pics, starting with Nounours.

This is the one that would mortify him if we were to show it to his girlfriend, if he had one:

 

Nounours hugging his toy, asleep with his mouth open.

Nounours hugging his toy, asleep with his mouth open.

 

Just to show that I’m not a totally mean Mommy, here’s a more dignified one of him:

 

Nounours, the teddy bear lion who was made to be hugged and assaulted with kisses.

Nounours, the teddy bear lion who was made to be hugged and assaulted with kisses.

 

Well, almost dignified. It’s not MY fault that he decided to lift his leg at exactly that moment.

Here’s Nenette:

 

Little Nenette, aka Bunny-Butt.

Little Nenette, aka Bunny-Butt.

 

This one’s from August:

 

Nenette and her toys and her necklace of informative hearts.

Nenette and her toys and her necklace of informative hearts.

 

And here they are together! This was a case of Instagram saving the pic from its bad lighting:

 

Nounours and Nenette, as close as we've seen them so far.

Nounours and Nenette, as close as we’ve seen them so far.

 

It’s a rare opportunity to get a shot of them together, but we’re getting there!. One day, I’ll be able to post a pic of them snuggling together… on the bed.

Hello, I am a CNTJ.

“Hey Baby, guess what?” I asked Callaghan the other night.

“What?”

“I realized that I’m not an introvert, and I’m not an extravert. Guess what I am!”

“A bear.”

This took me by surprise. Wasn’t it obvious where I was heading?

“No.”

“A mama bear.”

“No.” Although I am.

“I don’t know, mon amour. What are you?”

“I’m not an introvert, and I’m not an extravert,” I began again. “I’m a catrovert.”

Callaghan paused, then snorted with laughter.

“That’s a good one,” he said. “It’s TRUE.”

Yes, it is.

In a world of introverts and extraverts, I’ve always been a textbook introvert. The personality tests I’ve taken have reflected this unfailingly. According to Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTJ. But actually, I’m a CNTJ.

I’ve yet to see catroversion documented anywhere in the literature concerning personality types, but it should be, because I know that I’m far from the only one.

Introversion and extraversion are terms that describe how people replenish their mental and emotional energy stores, right? The way I understand it, introverts “recharge” best in solitude… they get their energy from within themselves, so they need alone-time. Extraverts recharge by being with others; they’re energized in the company of other people.

Catroverts, meanwhile, recharge by being with cats. We derive our energy from those of the feline persuasion, so the time we spend with them is the most profoundly therapeutic time we can know.

 

Catroversion with Nenette

Catroversion with Nenette

 

These pics with Nenette were taken on Sunday. Lots of Labor Day weekend fur-baby bonding went on around here!

And Nounours got all kinds of snuggles in the aftermath of his dental surgery a couple of weeks ago:

 

Catroversion with Nounours

Catroversion with Nounours

 

Since I just did a search and found no mention of catroversion anywhere online,* I figured it ought to be published somewhere, which, I guess, means here in this post. Let’s take it a step further and break catroversion down into two types:

  • Type A catrovert: Derives energy from being with cat(s)
  • Type B catrovert: Derives energy from being ALONE with cat(s)

The Type A catrovert often tests as an extravert on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (That would be Callaghan.)

The Type B catrovert is essentially also an introvert. (This would be me.)

“Voilà,” I said to Callaghan, “We’re not really opposites in this regard! We’re both primary catroverts.” It was easy to flesh out my theory as I went, so I kept going. “And your secondary extraversion and my secondary introversion complement each other.”

Seriously… with a few exceptions, if Callaghan wasn’t around to encourage me to go out and do social things (i.e. attend parties), I just wouldn’t. He’s good at busting me out of my comfort zones. Pretty much the only place at which I look forward to socializing is the gym. Outside of that, give me one-on-one interactions with friends, and small groups over large ones.

Callaghan had to admit that I was onto something when I presented catroversion to him.

So what are some things we should know about catroverts?

1). The catrovert with secondary extraversion (Type A catrovert) may be prone to:

  • Overspending the household budget on cat birthday party preparations
  • Bringing home every stray cat on the street
  • Struggling to resist adopting all the cats in the shelter
  • Feeding the neighborhood stray cats
  • Insisting on going over to talk to the cats up for adoption at PetSmart and PetCo

2). The catrovert with secondary introversion (Type B catrovert) may be prone to:

  • Being accused of being anti-social (if not an all-out misanthrope)
  • Being labeled a “crazy cat lady” (even if not a lady)
  • Taking longer than average to grieve the loss of a beloved cat
  • Feeling inexplicably jealous if kitty responds to a visitor’s affection
  • Dying alone with cats

3). Advice for the employer, since the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is heavily used as a resource in the workplace: the best way to handle your catrovert employees is to allow them to bring their cats to work.

4). Being a catrovert does NOT make someone a strict cat person; being a catrovert doesn’t preclude loving and/or appreciating dogs or other animals.

I could go on. I may even expand this topic into a book-length volume at some point. For now, I’ll just sign off with the observation that the only reason we don’t have a houseful of cats is that my being a Type B catrovert balances out Callaghan being a Type A catrovert.

—–

*ETA: I just searched on a different engine, and I DID find references to catroversion elsewhere. Catroverts REPRESENT!

Fitness routine changes afoot! (Also, what’s new with Nenette)

Fitness update! This may only be interesting to me, but I’m excited about it, so I’m sharing it. AT LONG LAST, I’m going to round out my workout routine with weights. I mean, I believe I’ve figured out how I can fit it into my day.

I hadn’t added a strength-training component to my routine yet due to limited time, and Body Combat three times a week is non-negotiable. This last week, I finally applied some serious thought as to how it could be done.

My friend and Body Combat instructor Izzy the Trainer inspired me when she posted a fitness selfie during her lunch-hour workout. She’s eight weeks post-partum, and she seriously looks like she could take the competition stage in a month! I wish I could train in the middle of the day, I thought, marveling at her drive. Then it occurred to me that my recent move to a new office put me within walking distance of the gym on campus. I did a re-con a few days ago and found that the walk is a mere eight minutes. The idea of working out over my lunch hour started to take serious shape. It is feasible. I can do this.

Still, I vacillated. There’s a small financial commitment involved, and though it’s really not much, I balked at the idea of paying for two different gyms. I got to the point, though, where I decided that the investment would be worth it.

I haven’t jumped in just yet… I’ve been giving thought as to how I could maximize the time I’d have, when and how it would be the most beneficial to work what muscle groups, how often I’d go, and how I’d manage the gym attire/personal hygiene aspect in the middle of my workday. I wouldn’t do a workout that leaves me dripping with sweat, but still, I’d want to clean up somehow before returning to work, of course.

Updates to come!

In kitty news, Nounours and Nenette have been good. We’ve been seeing Nenette’s playful side emerge, and that’s been a lot of fun. The nature of her playfulness actually calls her age into question even more… she really seems more like three or four, rather than the six years old we were told.

Here are a few pics:

 

This made us laugh... Nenette playing with Nounours' tail! He seemed to be flipping it around on purpose.

This made us laugh… Nenette playing with Nounours’ tail! He seemed to be flipping it around on purpose.

 

So many toys! Too many decisions! Just like the Wrah-Wrah.

So many toys! Too many decisions! Just like the Wrah-Wrah.

 

The gold heart tag is new… it’s her microchip tag. Her pink I.D. heart is on the other side.

 

Nounours, the blue-eyed photobomb master!

Nounours, the blue-eyed photobomb master!

 

In this picture, Nenette reminds me of Louise from Bob's Burgers.

In this picture, Nenette reminds me of Louise from Bob’s Burgers.

 

(I was slightly traumatized last night when I went online looking for an image of Bob’s Burgers’ Louise for a possible “Not Unlike” of Louise and Nenette. In the process, I accidentally traumatized Callaghan. Needless to say, I didn’t find what I needed for the “Not Unlike.” Oh, well.)

 

Nenette discovered that she loves playing with this black string.

Nenette discovered that she loves playing with this black string.

 

Tomorrow, both Nounours and Nenette are going to our vet for checkups and updated vaccinations. We also need to get Nounours’ international microchip scanned so we can finally register it to us. We’re hoping to discover Nenette’s actual age… or that she really is six.

Happy Friday, All!

Callaghan vs. Nounours

Callaghan’s been embroiled in an ongoing struggle with Nounours ever since we brought the big guy home with Ronnie James to our Little House in the Rhône-Alpes in October 2012. It’s that ancient grievance of many a cat-parent: Kitty insists that you wake up when he wants you up, not when you wish to wake up. Sometimes, he wants you up long before you want to get up.

Some cats do this, some don’t. The Wrah-Wrah never did it. Nounours always has, and he mostly targets Callaghan. He doesn’t try it on me very often. When he does, he fails… I don’t get out of bed when Nounours demands it. Fortunately for me, I usually don’t even remember his efforts. I’m able to fall back asleep immediately if I’m abruptly woken up, which may or may not be attributed to the anti-anxiety medication I take before I go to bed. Whatever the case, Kristi – 300; Nounours – 0!

Callaghan – 0; Nounours – 732.

This has been Callaghan’s number one complaint in life for the last few years. If he had any hair on his head at all, he’d have long since ripped it out.

Every once in a while, he opens a discussion about what to do, meaning, he’ll tell me his ideas, and I’ll listen. His latest brainstorm was to shut Nounours in his studio/office with a bowl of water and a litter box.

“But I would ONLY do it at the time that he wakes me up,” he clarified. “Not before we go to bed. That way, he’ll know why he’s in there.”

That’s right… Nounours will know why he’s in there. He’s the Einstein of cats.

Callaghan cycles through phases of thinking that Nounours tries to wake him up because he’s hungry, but that theory always fades away in the face of evidence to the contrary.

1). Are the little bowls of dry food (“crunchies”) empty? –> Never. We always make sure they’re filled before we go bed.

2a). Does Nounours want his canned food breakfast? –> Maybe.

2b). If the answer to 2a is “yes”: Who feeds the cats their canned food breakfast? –> Mommy.

2c). Who does Nounours try to wake up? –> Daddy.

Theory blown.

My own theory is that poor Nounours tries to wake up Callaghan in order to verify that he’s still alive. Daddy has been lying in one position for 3 hours! Must make sure he’s not dead!!

He loves us both, but Callaghan is his favorite.

Nounours will wake up Callaghan by jumping on him. Or he’ll head-butt Callaghan’s face. Sometimes, he’ll sit on his face. Rounding off his repertoire, he’ll incessantly issue loud meows and yowls that reverberate throughout the house.

“He doesn’t stop! He won’t stop, and I can’t get back to sleep,” Callaghan grumbles. “So FINALLY, I get up.”

“But why…”

“As soon as I’m up? He lays down and goes to sleep! Why does he wake me up if he just goes to sleep once I’m up?!”

“Maybe he wants to make sure you’re still alive,” I suggest.

Some days, Callaghan is so wiped out from Nounours-related sleep deprivation that he’ll set about getting revenge. His favorite revenge strategy is to sneak up on Nounours during the day when he’s napping and pounce on him with his hands, doing his best Nounours imitation to “show him what it feels like”:

“Nouuuuuuuu-nours! Wake up! Wake UP, Nounours!” Callaghan sing-songs in Nounours’ ear, vigorously ruffling Nounours’ fur. “TIME TO WAKE UP!!”

I have photographic evidence of this, of course.

Before:

 

Pre-Callaghan Nounours, smooth and neat.

Pre-Callaghan Nounours, smooth and neat.

 

After:

 

Post-Callaghan Nounours, looking like a rug from the 70's.

Post-Callaghan Nounours, looking like a rug from the 70’s.

 

Callaghan’s logic is simple: “If I don’t get to sleep, then he doesn’t get to sleep.”

Nounours doesn’t respond to these random assaults on his slumber, though. At the most, he’ll crack open one eye, then close it again and resume sleeping. He is not phased. He is Nounours, laid-back to the point of obliviousness.

I try to help. I’ll sometimes intercept Nounours in the middle of the night if I’m semi-awake and he walks behind my head to get to Callaghan. I’ll grab him and hug him to my chest, and he’ll lay there purring for a while. I fall back asleep, though, and then Nounours continues on his way. Destination: Daddy.

“THANK YOU for protecting me, Baby,” Callaghan tells me the next day. I’m his bodyguard, protecting him from the big, lovable cuddle monster that is Nounours.

Callaghan did try putting Nounours in exile one time recently. He got up when Nounours jarred him awake, and he put him in his studio/office with a bowl of water and the litter box. He told me about it later, when I asked why there was a bowl of water in his office.

“It was just for half an hour, and then I let him out,” he told me, proud of himself. “And he didn’t meow at all after that!”

But the whole process was tedious, and the tedium mostly defeated the purpose.

We’ve since considered and ruled out several possible solutions. Then I went online to search for others. I came across some advice on an ASPCA page under the heading:

What to Do If Your Cat Keeps You Awake at Night   

In the penultimate bullet point, it’s suggested that “…you might need to shut him out of your bedroom at night. If he cries and scratches at the door, you can discourage him by…” They complete the sentence with several options, including the following:

“…you can set a ‘booby trap’ outside your door.” A booby trap?

“Try hanging your blow dryer off the bedroom door knob, or placing your vacuum cleaner five or six feet away from the door.” I’m imagining how the ominous sight of a vacuum cleaner might ward off a cat. But the blow dryer? Where are they going with this?

“Plug the dryer or vacuum into a remote switch (available from Radio Shack).” A mental image is starting to form.

“When your cat wakes you by meowing outside your door, you can hit a button on the remote to turn on the appliance.” I’m cracking up. I’m laughing so hard, I can hardly get the words out as I read them to Callaghan.

“Your startled cat probably won’t return to your door after that!” Concludes the paragraph. No kidding?

I’m a little surprised at the ASPCA for suggesting this; in my opinion, it would be a traumatic thing to happen to a kitty who only wants to be with the people who love him more than anyone in the world. Poor Nounours! The idea of setting a scary booby-trap for him after he’s already upset about being locked out of the bedroom really kind of breaks my heart. Callaghan says I’m too soft on Nounours, and maybe I am, but that’s why Daddy is the main disciplinarian. What a cliché are we.

 

Nounours and Callaghan, August 5, 2015

Nounours and Callaghan, August 5, 2015

 

Wrapping this up, I’ve got a new Nenette pic from the week:

 

Nenette gets sassier every day!

Nenette gets sassier every day!

 

Happy Friday, All!

What I’m Digging Right Now – July Favorites

Is it just me, or did July come and go at the speed of light? I hardly recognized it was July before it was over! I don’t even know what happened there! Well, I guess I do. A lot happened in July. We enjoyed and cherished the blessing of priceless moments with family, friends, and our new kitty, Nenette, but I’m glad to take this moment to dwell on the Little Things that helped to make the month awesome.

Jumping right in…

1). Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers (novels by Stephen King)

 

Stephen King novels - always a good time!

Stephen King novels – always a good time!

 

How did the existence of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes escape me for a whole year? Finders Keepers came to my attention when it became available this summer, but it wasn’t until then that I learned about Mr. Mercedes, which precedes Finders Keepers. On the up side, discovering the two books at the same time meant that I got to indulge in some delicious Stephen King binge reading. I heartily enjoyed the stories and characters in these novels, along with the technical surprises of them… they’re more thriller than horror, and King’s writing style departs from his usual, as well… but they’re not lacking in his usual flair. No matter how he writes, I’m always left wanting more. Such is the genius of Stephen King.

 

2). Southpaw (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SouthpawMoviePoster

 

Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in this film is brilliant. It’s exciting to think that his superb portrayal of boxer Billy Hope, a role of a sort he’s never taken on before, might lead to an even broader selection of projects. He had nothing to prove in the first place, but now that we know he’s solid action flick material, we hope to see him turn up in more places we wouldn’t have expected.

 

3). The Body Shop’s Honeymania (fragrance).

Honeymania by The Body Shop (eau de toilette and body butter). I also have the Honeymania shower gel.

Honeymania by The Body Shop (eau de toilette and body butter). I also have the Honeymania shower gel.

 

When I made the commitment to use cruelty-free products as much as possible, I started experimenting with fragrances from The Body Shop. You know I love their beautiful Madagascar Vanilla scent, but I found that I’m even more enamored with Honeymania. On me, this fragrance works better than the former in terms of staying power and sillage, and it’s gorgeous, presenting, with my particular chemistry, like wildflowers with a subtle note of honey underneath. Other people love it when they smell it on me, too, which is always a good thing! I keep the body butter on my desk at work so my friends there can enjoy it, too.

 

4). Alba Botanica Very Emollient sunless tanner.

 

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunless Tanner

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunless Tanner

 

This pic is supposed to show how the color from Alba Botanica’s Very Emollient sunless tanner develops on my legs, the only place I put the stuff. I’m aware that my legs still look pale. That’s because they’re very pale in their natural state! Like many mixed chicks, I’m two-toned, with varying shades and textures of skin on different body parts. My face and legs are pale with thin skin that burns rather than tans, while the skin on my neck, arms, torso and back is thicker and tans easily. Every summer, my neck and arms turn brown no matter what I do, so I like to do a little self-tanning on my legs just to even things out a bit.

I like the way this cruelty-free sunless tanner works, but my favorite thing about it is the surprising way that it smells. Inexplicably… this is a self-tanning lotion we’re talking about, remember… this product smells like a scrumptious, baked treat. Callaghan and I have been trying to identify it, and it’s been driving us crazy, as we can’t quite figure it out. It’s a familiar scent, kind of buttery and caramelesque, but… not quite. It’s a mystery. It’s awesome.

 

5). Naturtint Naturally Better permanent hair color in 5G (Light Golden Chestnut).

 

Excellent cruelty-free hair color by Naturtint!

Excellent cruelty-free hair color by Naturtint!

 

Here’s another cruelty-free product that, because of what it is, has no business wafting a delicious food scent into your nostrils. This hair color actually smells like anise! This is a permanent hair dye. It smells like anise, not like chemicals. Amazing! The shade I use is beautiful, too. The color comes out rich and multi-dimensional, and it lasts longer than the product I was using before. Like the Honeymania fragrance, others have noticed; I’ve never received compliments on my hair color before I started using this one. In every respect, this hair color is superior to any I’ve ever used… and I never would have found it had I not gone cruelty-free.

 

6). Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask.

 

Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask

Freeman Feeling Beautiful Golden Grain Brightening Mask

 

I’m missing my beloved Epielle sheet masks much less now, thanks to this product from Freeman. My explorations into the realm of cruelty-free facial masks led me to their Golden Grain Brightening Mask, which is unlike anything I’ve used before.

Formulated with vitamin C to brighten the skin and even out discoloration, the product comes out of the tube looking and feeling like clear hair gel. I eyed it warily at first, but there’s nothing even remotely unpleasant about it. The mask spreads over your skin like watery silk, not the slightest bit sticky. It’s good for dry skin, but it’s not oily or greasy. It’s thick, but it goes on feeling hydrating. If water came in gel form, it would be like this. I love its fresh, clean herbal scent, too, which is just as important!

I leave the mask on five minutes longer than recommended, and it never feels tight, dry or otherwise uncomfortable. The entire experience of this mask is pleasant and relaxing. I use it interchangeably with Freeman’s Feeling Beautiful Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Stress Mask, which is more like your traditional clay mask. I’ve said that I’d never go back to masks that harden on your skin and require work to remove, but my skin likes a variety of masks (when I was using the Epielle sheet masks, I alternated between four different formulas), so I re-thought that when I began my cruelty-free adventure. The Dead Sea Minerals mask by Freeman is a great one, as well.

Now that I’ve talked about products that smell like food… fragrance that smells of honey, self-tanning lotion that smells of a buttery-sweet dessert, and hair color that smells of anise… let’s talk about actual food!

 

7). Cherries.

 

Fresh sweet cherries!

Fresh sweet cherries!

 

It appears that I have a tendency to find things I love and then proceed to eat them to excess all month long. This probably isn’t the best idea, especially when the food in question tends to give me digestive issues! I’ve always had a mild sensitivity to cherries, but they’re my favorite fruit, so I eat them with abandon when they’re in season, regardless. I ate tons of cherries in July and didn’t regret a single one.

 

8). Spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.

 

Whole wheat spaghetti with olive oil, fresh garlic and coarsely ground sea salt.

Whole wheat spaghetti with olive oil, fresh garlic and coarsely ground sea salt.

 

This is my all-time favorite dish, and it so happened that I married the person who makes it the best, in my opinion! Callaghan’s pasta with garlic and olive oil is sublime. Of course, I grind more sea salt onto my plate than anyone should eat in a sitting, probably, but I love this dish on the saltier side. There’s just something about the combination of garlic and salt. We like to eat the pasta first and then distribute the minced garlic and olive oil (left at the bottom of the pasta bowls) over toasted whole wheat bread spread with Earth Balance. Fantastic garlic bread!

We eat this year-round – it’s one of our staple meals – but we went a little crazy with it in July. We started out the month with four pounds of whole wheat spaghetti in the pantry, and by the end of the month, we’d eaten it all. We’ll never get tired of it.

 

9). Sprouts’ Vegan Super Fruit muffins.

 

Vegan super fruit muffins at Sprouts

Vegan super fruit muffins at Sprouts

 

We found these muffins in Sprouts’ bakery, and we enjoyed them all through July. These are not your standard, oversized muffins, bloated with sugar and bad fats. These are delicious and just perfect. They’re large, but not two-servings huge, and they’re light and not too sweet. The fruit in them balances the flavor with a nice tang. I wish Sprouts existed outside of Arizona so you could all try them!

ETA: I just checked their web site and saw that new locations are coming to Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Georgia! Sprouts is finally branching out of the Land of AZ. Move over, Whole Paycheck!

 

10). Clif bar in Nuts & Seeds.

 

Clif's new flavor: Nuts & Seeds

Clif’s new flavor: Nuts & Seeds

 

Like the muffins, the new Nuts & Seeds Clif bar isn’t as sweet as you’d expect. I still love their Sierra Trail Mix bar, but this one’s my new favorite! I usually enjoy half a bar as weekday workout fuel. You can’t go wrong with a combination of complex carbs, protein and healthy fats.

That’s it for July’s Little Things… my list for August is already filling up, and we’re only three days into it!

The (feline) state of affairs chez nous.

Once again, I come to you with kitty news; while I don’t have an intention to always post fur-baby reports on Fridays, that’s how it’s been working out lately! Last weekend, we celebrated Nenette’s third week with us. We got her a new scratch pad. This one is for my office, since she’s taken to hanging out near my desk while I’m working, and she loves to lounge on scratch pads. She spends a lot of time on the ones in the living room.

In Nounours news, he’s still grieving the loss of his brother, and it’s painful to see. As I was telling a friend, he displayed an incredible show of longing for Wrah-Wrah last Sunday night.

He was lying on the bed with Wrah-Wrah’s urn, and I was doing the things I normally do to get ready for bed. One of those things is taking the urn from the foot of the bed and returning it to the dresser on the opposite wall.

When I did this on Sunday night, Nounours suddenly cried out, jumped up, and half-climbed onto the foot-board of the bed, stretching out his neck and leaning forward toward the urn, looking from it to me with a pleading light in his eyes. I was stunned. His vocalization, body language and expression articulated his desire so clearly that I quickly gave Wrah-Wrah’s urn back to him, placing it on the foot of the bed. He spent a few seconds head-butting the urn and rubbing his face on it before snuggling back down.

“Did you see that?” Callaghan asked, standing there in the same shock I was in. Neither of us could believe it. It was utterly heart-breaking.

Nounours watched over Ronnie James’ urn all that night. For the first time, I left it on the foot of the bed while we slept.

 

This is still a common sight.

This is still a common sight.

 

Then, a few nights later, I went out into the living room and found Nounours like this:

 

Stretched out where Wrah-Wrah used to rest.

Stretched out where Wrah-Wrah used to rest.

 

He usually doesn’t even sit on the couch, much less in that corner.

That striped cushion was the cushion on which Ronnie James spent a lot of time curled up next to me in the last few days of his life. It was always lying flat, and he loved it. On Wednesday night, Callaghan leaned it up against the back of the couch for the first time since Ronnie James’ death, and this was Nounours’ response. We took one look at him and knew from his demeanor that he was deep in a place of sadness and missing his Wrah-Wrah.

 

Nounours snuggling with Wrah-Wrah's cushion.

Nounours snuggling with Wrah-Wrah’s cushion.

 

Poor Nounours.

We all need more time, and there may never be enough time. Ronnie James’ presence in our house is so real, it’s like he’s here, but invisible.

On her part, Nenette did the following this week:

She read some books…

Nenette with "As I Lay Dying," one of my favorite works of literature.

Nenette with “As I Lay Dying,” one of my favorite works of literature.

 

…she played. A lot.

 

Not tired yet, Mommy!

Not tired yet, Mommy!

 

She discovered catnip…

 

What's this?

What’s this?

 

…and hugged her toys…

 

Mine! All mine!

Mine! All mine!

 

…tentatively kept company with her brother…

 

Nounours and Nenette hanging out in my office.

Nounours and Nenette hanging out in my office.

 

…and introduced herself to houseplants Jerome and Barclay.

 

Nenette getting up close and personal with Barclay the plant.

Nenette getting up close and personal with Barclay the plant.

 

I’d say she’s coming along pretty well, overall!

Fearless Nenette will save us all.

In this week’s kitty news, we found out that our sweet little Nenette is a badass in tiny-pretty-girl clothing.

I’ll tell you all about it, but first things first (speaking of clothing)!

 

Many thanks to our friend Eddie W. of Round Rock, TX for adorning Nenette's tailless butt with Eeyore's tail! She loves it, and so do we.

Many thanks to our friend Eddie W. of Round Rock, TX for adorning Nenette’s tailless butt with Eeyore’s tail! She loves it, and so do we.

 

After two weeks of gradual, steady confidence-building with us, Nenette suddenly turned a big corner last weekend. With her newfound trust came the understanding that this is HER home and we are HER parents and Nounours is HER brother, and with that came a fierce determination to protect us all.

Like a good soldier on guard duty, Nenette stations herself at her post (on the table under the living room window) every night, and she watches. Her vigilance is unflinching.

 

Nenette demonstrating her watching skills.

Nenette demonstrating her watching skills.

 

Except when sleep overtakes her.

 

Because guard duty is tiring.

Because guard duty is tiring.

 

But when she’s not asleep – and I believe she has a sixth sense that tells her when she can sleep – she’s unfailing in her self-imposed responsibilities.

It started like this:

On Sunday night, a random neighborhood tomcat strolled onto our front patio. When he approached the living room window, Nenette, who happened to be watching from the table on the inside, bunched herself up and launched herself at the window with a mighty ki-yah that would make any Tae Kwan Do master proud.

This was the first time we’d seen anything like this. We saw that Nenette’s “This is MY Home and These are MY Parents and This is MY Nounours and YOU BETTER STAY AWAY!!!” mode is formidable, truly a force to be reckoned with.

Yowling as she charged the tomcat, Nenette slammed into the window violently (yes, we were worried!) and scrapped at it with her velvety little declawed paws. We were dumbstruck, but we shouldn’t have been. Remember how we couldn’t believe the volume of her yowling in the car when we brought her home? The yowling that seemed incongruous coming from such a dainty, petite package wrapped in soft fur? Yeah, that was a good indicator.

“She’s just like her Mommy,” Callaghan declared, making me snort with laughter.

That’s how it went down. And that’s how it came to be that Nenette keeps vigil at the window every night.

When I told my friend Caroline about Nenette’s new role as Protector of Her Territory and Family, she commented, “She needs to relax. Totally becoming rambo kitty.”

Then she added, “She tricked us into thinking she was all sweet and mellow and now the gloves are off and she is rambo kitty!!!!”

On his part, Nounours, aka The Dude, is just as laid-back and oblivious as ever. But he was there to witness Nenette charging toward the face of the interloper outside, and since then, he’s been seeking out her company even more than before. Nounours understands that Nenette has accepted him as a part of her family, and he’s feeling the love! We are, too. It’s rather a privilege knowing that Nenette has claimed us as her family.

We are concerned, though… we don’t want her to hurt herself on that window. During the incident on Sunday night, we had to stage an intervention by dramatically opening the front door in order to scare away the tomcat. We had to. Nenette was going berserk.

Who knew this little girl could be so fearless and aggressive?

We thought we’d seen the extent of it, but on Tuesday night, Nenette took it to the next level, and we got to see a demonstration of her intelligence in the process.

I was sitting here in my office when she suddenly raced in, leaped up onto the futon under the window and bounced up onto the windowsill. She perched there with complete concentration, very alert and very still. I went to see what she was staring at so intensely.

It was that same tomcat. The second I spotted him, Nenette began to growl a low, menacing growl in the back of her throat. Once again, I went to the front door to hasten the departure of her foe.

The thing is, she knew that he was there, and she figured out that she’d be able to see him from the window in my office! That’s how smart she is. We knew the other cat hadn’t appeared at the living room window where Nenette had been keeping watch, because she’d have made a commotion, and we would have heard it. Somehow, with her feline super-powers, she’d been able to perceive the unwelcome cat lurking in the shadows near the house on the other side of the front door.

Needless to say, Nenette has gotten quite comfortable here in the last five days!

Here are a few more pics from the week:

 

Abyssianian/Manx-mix Nenette, sitting like a statue

Abyssianian/Manx-mix Nenette, sitting like a statue

 

"Don't go!!" ~Nenette

“Don’t go!!” ~Nenette

Nenette says, "Out, damned itch!"  (Complete with Shakespeare in the background)

“Out, damned itch!” (Complete with Shakespeare in the background)

 

Le Nounours (The teddy bear!)

Le Nounours (The teddy bear!)

 

Cleaning the hand, Nounours-style.

Cleaning the hand, Nounours-style.

 

Nounours snuggling with his Daddy in the morning.

Nounours snuggling with his Daddy in the morning.

 

And here’s one for size comparison:

 

Nounours and Nenette in the early morning haze.

Nounours and Nenette in the early morning haze.

 

Still no pics of the two of them snuggling together… yet. It will happen one day!

New Year’s Resolution check-in! Cruelty-free cosmetics (e.l.f. review)

We all know how it is. When we’re amped about our New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year, we broadcast them to the world, but it’s less common to mention them again after that. We’re all about our resolutions for four weeks or so, and then we never speak of them again. Given this, and to share some of the results of my efforts, I wanted to check in with a mid-year 2015 resolutions update.

(Side-note: It was actually my intention to do this post last month, but I’ve been procrastinating. There are more interesting things to read and write about than the make-up I’m using, but I wanted to hold myself accountable for my resolutions, so here we are. Bear with me, guys, please!)

For 2015, I mainly resolved to switch to cruelty-free products – products that are not tested on animals – so I’m going to share some of the make-up items I’ve been using. I’m just talking about cosmetics in this post (I’ve also switched to cruelty-free hair-care and body products), and mainly one brand.

Cruelty-free drugstore cosmetics include brands such as Milani, e.l.f., Flower, Physician’s Formula, Pacifica, and Burt’s Bees, among others. I’ve tried a smattering of things from different brands, but I decided early on to focus on e.l.f., because it’s the cheapest of the cheap. When I made this resolution, I wanted to go cruelty-free, not broke. Spending as little as possible on make-up means that I can justify spending more on good cruelty-free skin-care.

I’ll always prioritize skin-care over make-up. I use a $3.00 mascara so I can feel less guilty spending $30.00 on sunscreen. It does even out!

Anyway, in the last seven months, I’ve experimented with a lot of e.l.f. make-up. It turns out that the quality of their cosmetics is exceptional and impressive, so the experimentation wasn’t as tedious as I’d thought it would be. I placed an initial order with e.l.f. online in January, and a second order in April. For some reason, with that second order, e.l.f. sent a bag filled with extra, full-size items for free, so I had the opportunity to try out some things I wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise. In addition to those two orders, I’ve also picked up a few e.l.f. items at Target here and there, and I’ve already re-purchased several things, as well.

Without further ado, here’s the break-down on how it’s shaken out so far, prices included. The priciest item out of everything I tried was $10.00, but the items I use daily range from $2.00-$6.00.

Current daily products:

 

Everyday e.l.f. (cruelty-free)

Everyday e.l.f. (cruelty-free)

 

1). e.l.f. Studio High-Definition Powder in Shimmer ($6.00)

2). e.l.f. Studio Flawless Finish Foundation in Sand ($6.00)

3). e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder in St. Lucia (I just use the bronzing side) ($3.00)

4). e.l.f. Studio Baked Highlighter in Moonlight Pearls ($3.00)

5). e.l.f. Studio Baked Blush in Passion Pink ($3.00)

6). e.l.f. Studio Fan Brush ($3.00)

7). e.l.f. Essential Flawless Face Powder in Ivory ($2.00)

8). e.l.f. Studio Eyebrow Kit in Dark (I just use the powder side) ($3.00)

9). e.l.f. Essential Smudge Pot in Ain’t that Sweet ($3.00)

10). e.l.f. Essential Smudge Pot in Cruisin’ Chic ($3.00)

11). e.l.f. Studio Radiance Enhancer in Spotlight ($3.00)

12). e.l.f. Essential Waterproof Eyeliner in Black (I just use it on the upper lid) ($2.00)

13). e.l.f. Studio Eye Enhancing Mascara in Black Sapphire ($3.00)

14). e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths ($3.00)

Thoughts: The e.l.f. smudge pots are comparable to Maybelline’s Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24hr Cream Gel shadows. The Cruisin’ Chic color is my cruelty-free replacement for my old favorite, Bad to the Bronze, and in fact, I even prefer it. At $3.00 a pop, the e.l.f. smudge pots are less than half the price of the Maybelline ones, which are $7.00 each.

To show how the products look and wear, I have pictures from yesterday morning, mid-day, and late afternoon:

 

7:40AM. Freshly applied.

7:30AM.
Freshly applied, photo taken by daylight.

 

1:30PM, over five hours later. Mid-day, low light in my office at work.

1:30PM, six hours later.
Mid-day, low light in my office at work.

 

5:10PM, over nine hours  later. Photo taken in the car on the way to the gym, hazy natural light (sorry for the bad lighting)

5:10PM, over nine hours later.
Photo taken in the car on the way to the gym, hazy natural light (sorry for the bad lighting)

 

It’s hard to see the quality of the face make-up in this bad lighting, but note the $3.00 mascara still going strong after nine hours! I don’t curl my eyelashes, either. That’s all product. Seriously, why would I pay $8.00 for an average drugstore mascara or $30.00 for an average high-end mascara?

 

5:14PM, four minutes after the last. This shows the >9 hour result in better light.

5:14PM, four minutes after the last.
This shows the >9 hour result in better light.

 

(I changed into my gym clothes in the car, as usual, haha!)

Conclusion: I’m happy with the way the e.l.f. cosmetics wear over extended periods of time. I don’t bother using face primers or setting sprays or anything like that, either… I’m not a high-maintenance make-up user. My whole mission every morning is to slap everything on as quickly as possible. It takes me 15 minutes to do my make-up.

Now that I’ve listed my current preferred everyday items, here’s what I thought about the other e.l.f. products I tried:

Liked: Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara in Jet Black ($2.00), Essential Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Rock Out ($2.00), Essential Smudge Pot in Hit the Town ($3.00), Studio Prism Eyeshadow in Naked ($10.00), Essential Brightening Eye Color in Butternut ($1.00), Studio Baked Eyeshadow Trio in Lavender Love ($4.00), Studio High-Definition Undereye Setting Powder in Sheer ($3.00), Studio BB Cream SPF 20 in Buff ($6.00), Studio Moisturizing Foundation Stick in Nude ($6.00), Studio Lip Balm SPF 15 in Rose ($3.00), Studio Glossy Gloss in Wild Watermelon ($3.00), Studio Eye Refresh ($3.00)

Eh: Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer in Radiant Glow ($6.00), Studio Poreless Face Primer in Clear ($6.00), Studio Mineral Pearls in Natural ($8.00), Studio Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in Nude ($3.00), Studio Make-Up Remover Pen ($3.00), Studio Kabuki Brush ($6.00)

Thoughts: The two face primers I tried are probably very good, but in keeping with my general experience with foundation primers, they don’t do anything for me at all, so I don’t use them. Lots of people swear by them, but for me, using a primer just adds an extra time-consuming step that makes no difference whatsoever in how my skin and make-up looks and wears throughout the day.

Ditto for the Kabuki brush, which, again, is probably excellent. I just prefer other kinds of brushes, like, looser-bristled ones, I guess. I should clean this brush (that I only used once) and give it to someone who wants it.

The mineral pearls product baffles me. Is it a powder? A bronzer? A contour product? All of the above? I’m not so into make-up that I enjoy dabbling; swirling a brush around on the pearls seemed complicated, and then I wasn’t particularly impressed with the look of the product once it was on. So, eh.

The tinted moisturizer was okay, but it was my least-favorite of the four e.l.f. foundation products I tried. Still, I’d wear it in a pinch. Its major plus, for me, is its SPF 20. You can’t have too much SPF!

I really wanted to love the make-up remover pen, and I did, up until the tip became darkened with the eyeliner it was meant to clean up. Then it was like, “okay, now what?”

This bring me to the final category:

Not for me: Essential Lengthening & Defining Mascara in Black ($1.00), Studio Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara in Black ($3.00), Studio Undereye Concealer and Highlighter in Light/Glow ($3.00), Mineral Eye Brightener in Buff ($1.99), Studio High-Definition Powder in Sheer ($6.00), Studio Glossy Gloss in Muted Mauve ($3.00), Studio Matte Lip Colors in Natural and Tea Rose ($3.00 each), Essential Long Wear Lip Liner in Natural Blush ($1.00)

Thoughts: The Studio Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara looks good once it’s on, but I can’t get past the packaging! Its shape and dimensions make the wand awkward in my hand, and I’ve never stabbed myself in the eye with a mascara as much as I did with this one. PASS.

I think the lip products ended up on this list because my lips just look wrong in those colors, and the Matte Lip Color formula dries out my lips. Not a good formula for me!

The products that were free were the Essential Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Rock Out, the Studio Radiance Enhancer in Spotlight, the Studio Eye Enhancing Mascara in Black Sapphire, and the Studio Glossy Gloss in Wild Watermelon… and I love it all!

The free products I haven’t tried yet: e.l.f. Studio Lip Stain in Lucky Lady ($3.00), e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish in Mango Madness ($2.00), e.l.f. Studio Lash & Brow Comb ($3.00), e.l.f. Essential Cuticle Pushers ($1.00)

My everyday cruelty-free cosmetics that are NOT e.l.f.: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in Light Neutral*, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero* (that I use under the eyes), Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Original (NOTE: e.l.f. does make eye shadow primers, and I’ll try them once I run out of the UD)**, Physician’s Formula Youthful Wear Cosmeceutical Youth-Boosting Dark Circle Corrector + Concealer (the yellow side only, which I wear underneath the Urban Decay concealer), and Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest.

*These are the few higher-end, cruelty-free cosmetic items that work better for me than those I could find at the drugstore.

**I haven’t tried an e.l.f. eyeshadow primer yet because believe it or not, I’m still trying to use up the first Urban Decay one I’d purchased almost a year and a half ago, and I have a second one to use after that! I have enough UD eyeshadow primer to last at least two more years, so it’ll be a while before I need to experiment with other brands.

I’d say that my seven months’ worth of experimentation with e.l.f. cosmetics has been instructional and eye-opening. I loved or liked a lot of the stuff I tried, didn’t care for some of it, and just felt so-so about the rest of it. Over time, I’ll continue experimenting to keep up with what’s new, too… I just visited e.l.f.’s website again and noticed a lot of new things, including a brand-new line of products called “Beautifully Bare.”

The important thing, to me, is that everything I wear on my face now is cruelty-free.

As for the stuff I used to use? I gathered up all of my pre-resolution gently-used cosmetics, hair  products, and toiletries, and I donated them to A New Leaf, a shelter for battered women here in the Valley. There were five paper grocery bags filled with products! I hope they brightened someone’s day a little.

In which Nounours orders espresso and Nenette poses with her tailless butt.

Fur-children update! Some progress on home-front dynamics has been made since I posted about the arrival of Nenette a week and a half ago. Our new girl has already put on some weight, which is good. She’s still somewhat nervous, but she’s slowly gaining trust in us… it’s like, the more time that passes and she’s still here, the more she trusts that we’re not taking her back to the adoption center. She talks to us softly in her tiny conversational voice as we stroke and nuzzle her, and she purrs readily. It’s truly a pleasure to watch her personality blossom as her confidence grows.

 

"Why are you holding that phone in front of my face instead of petting me?" ~Nenette

“Why are you holding that phone in front of my face instead of petting me?” ~Nenette

 

Nounours remains calmer with the presence of another feline in the house, but his restored contentment glows like dappled sunlight in a pool of emotions, including impatience (because he wants to snuggle with Nenette, but she’s not quite there yet), and jealousy (just as he was always inclined to be jealous when we’d love on the Wrah-Wrah… it’s just a part of Nounours’ personality).

We can see that Nounours still misses his Wrah-Wrah, but he’s definitely more relaxed now. He even sits in his kitty chair again, something he hasn’t done in a very long time.

 

"Excusez-moi, faites moi un double espresso, s'il vous plaît!" (Nounours asking for a double espresso in his native French)

“Excusez-moi, faites moi un double espresso, s’il vous plaît!” (Nounours asking for a double espresso in his native French)

 

Above all, Nounours wants to get close to his new sister. He was gratified when he was able to join her at the living room window one morning (Thursday last week):

 

This was the first time we witnessed Nounours and Nenette being companionable, lounging together at the living room window after breakfast.

This was the first time we witnessed Nounours and Nenette being companionable, lounging together at the living room window after breakfast.

 

This was at around 6:30 in the morning. I was happy to be home to capture the moment!

Speaking of capturing moments, let me digress for a second to show you Nenette’s tailless butt, which I swear she deliberately put on display for me the other night when I said, “Nenette, let’s get a picture of your tailless butt!” She totally responded by posing like this:

 

Manx-mix Nenette and her little tailless butt.

Manx-mix Nenette and her little tailless butt.

 

This darling girl! I’m telling you.

Then there were a few other sweet moments, such as nose-touch greetings like this:

 

We haven't seen them snuggled up to each other yet, but we've graduated to moments like these.

We haven’t seen them snuggled up to each other yet, but we’ve graduated to moments like these.

 

And this:

 

Nenette initiates the nose-touch greeting (patented by cats). This was what she was doing right before she posed for her tailless butt picture.

Nenette initiates the nose-touch greeting (patented by cats). This was what she was doing right before she posed for her tailless butt picture.

 

I guess that counts as a tailless butt pic, too! Progress, little by little.

Nenette – Nounours’ 4th of July kitty

We suddenly have a little girl kitty. To put it more precisely, Nounours suddenly has a new little sister.

We knew we’d eventually have to adopt another cat for Nounours, but if the deciding criteria was going to be me being emotionally ready, I couldn’t see it happening, ever. Losing Ronnie James left an open wound with tattered edges in my heart, and the idea of putting something there seemed excruciating.

But on the other hand, it’s been upsetting to see Nounours so distraught. Nounours would seem okay one minute, then desolate the next. He’d start crying, and we’d rush into the bedroom to discover him rubbing his head on Ronnie James’ urn. Or, on the occasions I’d leave Ronnie James’ urn up on his favorite barstool in the bedroom, Nounours’ yowling-crying would summon us to find him standing on the bed, mournfully facing the urn as if it were an unreachable island barely visible across a vast sea. We’d set the urn back on the foot of the bed, and Nounours would snuggle up to it, quieting down immediately.

We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know how to help Nounours. It got to a point where we started talking more seriously about adopting another sibling for him. I was starting to realize that my own reticence wasn’t fair to Nounours, who had never been an only cat. He was lonely and missing his Wrah-Wrah as much as I was.

Things happened quickly from there.

Saturday morning, the 4th of July, we had the conversation again as we headed to the gym, Callaghan and I. “I’d definitely want to get a girl,” I said, echoing sentiments I’d previously expressed. I thought that a girl kitty would feel less like a Ronnie James replacement; moreover, it wouldn’t be a good idea to bring a strange Tomcat into Nounours’ territory. Callaghan agreed.

So we knew we wanted a girl. We also knew that we wanted her to be a full-grown adult, but one who was younger than 10-year-old Nounours. Nounours has a generous maternal streak, and we thought that allowing him to indulge it would help him to feel less lonely. It seemed that a slightly younger kitty would be a good fit for lovable, cozy Nounours and his penchant for cuddling. “Five at the youngest,” I thought out loud. “Maybe five or six….” Callaghan thought this would be ideal, as well.

But again, we shelved the conversation without making a decision. We got to the gym and went to Body Combat.

Not two hours later, we found ourselves peering into a clear Plexiglas case at PetSmart, where we’d stopped to get more treats for Nounours. Inside the case was a little girl whose tag read that she was six years old. (But she was so small!) Her tag also told us that she’s an Abyssinian/Manx mix. The Abyssinian part explained her beautiful, dark-golden ticked coat. The Manx part explained her lack of a tail.

She looked so sweet and sad. As we held her gaze, her waves of loneliness cut through the Plexiglas to touch us. We learned that she’d belonged to family who’d “run into hard times.” They were being evicted, so they surrendered her to the shelter. She’d been at the shelter for over a month.

When we left PetSmart, my heart had been replaced with a ball of mixed emotions, which I promptly expressed on Facebook. Some of my friends – you know who you are! – were so encouraging and supportive and wonderful, commenting and texting me. The conundrum was that (in accordance with policy) the adoption folks wouldn’t hold her for us for even half a day, even if we paid the fee; if we wanted to adopt her, we had to make the decision and do it tout de suite. It would have to happen quickly, lest someone else swoop in and adopt her!

We went back.

We changed her name. It was funny how we arrived at it: I suggested “Nenette” – we both wanted a French name – and Callaghan replied with, “My Godmother’s name was Nenette!” I hadn’t known that. (Also, we found out later when talking to Maman, Callaghan’s Mom, that “Nenette” had been slang for “chick” in France back in the 60’s and 70’s.) We both loved the name, and it suited the little girl. Nounours et Nenette. We purchased a nametag and fed it to the engraving machine at the front of the store before leaving.

 

She already knows her new name.

She already knows her new name.

 

At home later that evening, we sat in the living room and watched as Nenette explored her new forever home.

Here’s one of the first pics I took of her:

 

Part-Abyssinian, part Manx, Nenette has no tail (a characteristic of the latter).

Part-Abyssinian, part Manx, Nenette has no tail (a characteristic of the latter).

 

Sometimes, the way she moves her head reminds me, comically, of a velociraptor à la Jurassic World, and I want to call her “Blue,” my favorite (kick-ass female) character in that movie. Other times, her shy expression reminds me of Princess Diana, and I want to call her “Lady Di.”

 

Nenette on the small round ottoman in the bedroom (7/6/2015)

Nenette on the small round ottoman in the bedroom (7/6/2015)

 

Her shy expressions remind me so much of Princess Diana!

Her shy expressions remind me so much of Princess Diana!

 

As I post this, Nenette has only been here for about 60 hours, so she’s still getting acclimated to her new home and to the three of us. Nounours started showing interest in her within 24 hours, but his tentative approaches drew soft hissing. Nenette will need some time to develop trust and confidence. We suspect that she’d been either neglected or otherwise mistreated in her past situation(s).

 

Nenette has the uniform, ticked coat of the Abyssinian, with velvety soft fur.

Nenette has the uniform, ticked coat of the Abyssinian, with velvety soft fur.

 

She’s as much an Abyssinian/Manx mix in her personality as she is in her appearance. She’s talkative, but her conversational voice is soft and extremely feminine, and I do mean girly-girl-level feminine, with her quiet mewing and trilling sounds. At the other end of the spectrum, we never heard a cat yowl as loudly as she did in the carrier coming home from the shelter! It was funny to think that such a sound could come from this tiny, adorable little being. This kitty has quite the vocal range. She loves the scratch pads we have all over the house, even though she’d been declawed (to our horror). We’ve also observed that she’s intelligent, inquisitive and playful… and she’s quite skittish. When people come over, she disappears beneath furniture whether the visitors ring the doorbell or not. But overall, she seems to be adapting quickly.

 

We thought this pink heart tag said "Nenette" even before we engraved it, so it was the obvious choice.

We thought this pink heart tag said “Nenette” even before we engraved it, so it was the obvious choice.

 

As of yesterday, she and Nounours have been on nose-touching terms. Those brief touches are a magical balm for Nounours, as he seems to be more at peace now than before we adopted Nenette. We’re looking forward to the day we find him nurturing her!

I wanted to capture an image of Nounours and Nenette together, but it’s too soon for such an opportunity. Last night, when I went into the bedroom to take a picture of Nounours by himself, I found him like this, as usual:

 

Nounours still missing his Wrah-Wrah dearly.

Nounours still missing his Wrah-Wrah dearly.

 

Wrah-Wrah will always be with us, and I like to think that Nenette understands that she has two big brothers to adore her. We love her, too. Nenette has been a blessing for us all. The only promise we can make to her is that she’ll be unconditionally loved for the rest of her life.

Vehement boxing gloves – cruelty-free to animals, but not necessarily to your opponent!

As many of you know, I’ve been steadily working on switching over to cruelty-free cosmetics and other such products, as this was my primary New Year’s resolution for 2015. I also resumed my vegan eating habits back in April, which didn’t involve much of a change, as the only animal product I was consuming was a little dairy here and there. After three years, I’m finally back to my pre-France lifestyle, and I feel physically fantastic! Although I’m still floundering in the sleep department (a secondary-though-not-less-important New Year’s resolution was to “get more sleep” – still working on that one), I’m enjoying much more energy now.

After making the cruelty-free commitment with my personal care products and returning to 100% vegetarianism (aka dietary veganism), it made sense to extend the latter choice in the direction of classical veganism, beginning with examining the materials of the things I use and wear. I found that there were a few leather items left in my life at that point, the main one being out in the garage: my pair of boxing gloves. My boxing gloves were made of leather. I started researching to find an alternative. I only felt a little bit guilty springing for some new boxing gloves when a). I’m in financial recovery mode (from Ronnie James’ medical ordeal), and b). I had a beautiful, fairly new pair already (given to me for my birthday last December). But I’m passionate about animals, passionate about combat sports, passionate about my New Year’s resolution, and, before he died, I promised Ronnie James that I’d re-dedicate myself to our favorite cause.

Some of you might be thinking, But Kristi! Boxing gloves are made for hitting people. Why worry about hurting animals in the making of something intended to cause pain to others? I know it seems counter-intuitive. I know. But engaging in combat sports with adult human beings who know they’re going to get hit is not the same thing as taking something cruelly from non-consenting beings. I’m just going to leave my reasoning at that brief statement and get right to the point:

I stumbled upon Vehement, a company that makes boxing gloves, MMA gear and other combat sports equipment and apparel. This is all they do, and they do it very well… without harming animals, humans, or the environment.

 

"Sustainable." "Vegan." "Sweatshop free." What the label doesn't say, but could: "HARDCORE" and "KICK-ASS."

“Sustainable.” “Vegan.” “Sweatshop free.” What the label doesn’t say, but could: “HARDCORE” and “KICK-ASS.”

 

Vehement is a German company, but their international shipping rates are reasonable ($13.00 to the States), and the combat sports gear they make is extremely well-engineered and on point. When you go to their web site, you’ll find a statement that reads:

DESTROY YOUR ENEMIES, NOT YOUR PLANET.

Our hand sewn, sweatshop-free fight gear is made of 100% Battleskin™, an extremely advanced artificial leather: sustainable, durable and vegan. We won several awards for our innovative boxing gloves, MMA gloves and shin guards.

The Wolfheart X2 gloves that I purchased (I chose 12 oz) are a superb all-purpose pair of boxing gloves. Also, did I mention that this conscientious company’s logo is a beautiful wolf face? This is because Vehement shares their profits with the Wolf Conservation Center NY (WCC). That’s right… when you purchase gear from Vehement, you’re contributing to a great cause! From the Wolf Conservation Center NY site:

The WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. The WCC accomplishes this mission through onsite and offsite education programs emphasizing wolf biology, the ecological benefits of wolves and other large predators, and the current status of wolf recovery in the United States.

 

Vehement Wolfheart X2 all-purpose boxing gloves (12 oz)

Vehement Wolfheart X2 all-purpose boxing gloves (12 oz)

 

I love the design and fit of Vehement's Wolfheart X2 boxing gloves.

I love the design and fit of Vehement’s Wolfheart X2 boxing gloves.

 

Vehement sells hand wraps, shin guards, MMA gloves and two types of boxing gloves, as well as clothing and water bottles. If you or someone you know is interested in combat sports gear, I highly recommend this company! Check them out, explore the goods and read their blog posts and announcements: http://vhmnt.com/

In case you’re short on time, I’m pasting in this description of the gloves that I got:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-VehementWebSiteText

 

I’m extremely happy with the fit, feel and performance of these vegan boxing gloves. I honestly can’t say enough about these gloves – they’re simply the best boxing gloves I’ve ever had (and I’ve owned pairs from both Title and Everlast). Two Battleskin-encased thumbs up!

[NOTE: This post is not sponsored by Vehement]

Ronnie James’ paw print, healed (and while I’m at it, here’s a look at some of my other tattoos).

One month ago last night, my heart disintegrated. It shattered into the ether, and the fragments fell and settled into an urn, the dust of my heart together with Ronnie James’ ashes. Well, Ronnie James is my heart. They are the same, and they are in a little box, and I still haven’t figured out how to navigate myself from here.

Our three hearts are broken… mine, Callaghan’s, Nounours’. I took a picture of Nounours last night at exactly the time of his brother’s death:

 

Nounours with Ronnie James, one month later.

Nounours with Ronnie James, one month later.

 

It’s like that urn is alive with Ronnie James’ pulse. We all feel him; his spirit and love are so strong.

Meanwhile, my tattoo of Ronnie James’ paw print has healed. I thought it was beautiful before, but now I can see that it’s an exquisite work of art. It’s smudgy and unevenly pigmented, looking, in other words, perfectly real – like Ronnie James left it there, himself. I’ll always be able to see the paw print of my (precious-angel-baby-bunny-dragon) Ronnie James, my petit Wrah-Wrah, my son who could never get enough cuddles or kisses.

 

My new tattoo has healed and transformed into an incredibly realistic imprint of Ronnie James' paw.

My new tattoo has healed and transformed into an incredibly realistic imprint of Ronnie James’ paw.

 

I’ve never loved a tattoo more, and that’s saying a lot, because I have a lot of tattoos that I love. My collection of tattoos spans three decades; I had my first one done on my 18th birthday in 1987 (it was before tattoos went mainstream, a “bad girl” thing to do at the time, but I didn’t care what anyone thought), and this last one was done three weeks ago. 90% of my ink is on my back, though, where my eyes can’t reach. Every once in a while, I stand at an angle in the bathroom and admire what I can see in the mirrors.

I’ll show them to you, while I’m on the subject. I took the ones of my arm – may I just remark how awkward it is to take a selfie of one’s arm? – and Callaghan took the pics of my back. All of the pictures were taken yesterday, and they’re just of my arm and back. (Not pictured: pelvis tattoo, anklet tattoo.)

 

While the wind blew! Here's a string of outlined hearts spiraling up my left upper arm. Callaghan drew them, and then I had them inked over by the tattooist.

While the wind blew! Here’s a string of outlined hearts spiraling up my left upper arm. Callaghan drew them, and then I had them inked over by the tattooist.

 

The inside of my lower left arm... and now you know one of my favorite numbers.

The inside of my lower left arm… and now you know one of my favorite numbers.

 

I took those at lunch. We did the rest when I got home from work. This selfie was the last picture I took as the sun was setting (the window is behind me):

 

I took this by fading daylight in my home office. As usual, I did nothing to the picture... the alignment of the string of lights on my hair was a total fluke that I discovered after the fact.

I took this by fading daylight in my home office. As usual, I did nothing to the picture… the alignment of the string of lights on my hair was a total fluke that I discovered after the fact.

 

And here are the back tattoo pics Callaghan took before that (I put on my very lowest-rise jeans for this, since the tiger at the bottom goes quite low):

 

It looks like a single piece, but I added to the work over time, starting in 1988 and ending in 2010.

It looks like a single piece, but I added to the work over time, starting in 1988 and ending in 2010.

 

My poor mother strongly disapproves of all of this ink. Close your eyes, Mom!

 

Here's a clearer view. The Sanskrit script at the base of my neck reads, "om mani padme hum," my favorite Buddhist mantra.

Here’s a clearer view. The Sanskrit script at the base of my neck reads, “om mani padme hum,” my favorite Buddhist mantra.

 

The dragon was my second tattoo (1988), and the first one to be done on my back. It was touched up by a different tattooist in 2010.

The dragon was my second tattoo (1988), and the first one to be done on my back. It was touched up by a different tattooist in 2010.

 

A talented friend designed my horse, which represents freedom and fortitude to me. I wanted the horse to be facing forward while looking back.

A talented friend designed my horse, which represents freedom and fortitude to me. I wanted the horse to be facing forward while looking back.

 

I’m kind of fascinated by how my phone’s camera managed to pick up little beads of sweat on my spine!

Happy Friday, All.

Callaghan and Ronnie James, bonding (instagram series)

Just over a year ago, I took a picture of Callaghan and the Wrah-Wrah together in a companionable moment, and I instagrammed it with a b&w filter. I shared it on Facebook, and people loved it. Over the course of the year, I did this six more times. That first photo was taken before Ronnie James started coughing. The last one was taken on the 14th of this month, the day he died… four days shy of the one-year anniversary of the first.

All along, I had no idea that I was capturing the last year of Ronnie James’ life.

Last night marked two weeks since good-bye. I wanted to share these pictures here today, together as a collection. There are only seven. I’d taken many more, but I’d carefully selected the images for this series with certain qualities in mind. Above all, the photos show the special bond between Callaghan and Ronnie James, each one spontaneous and now extra precious in its memorializing the enormous and profound love our feline son carried in his strong little lion heart.

I’ll say it again: Ronnie James loved like no other. He lived from cuddle to kiss, from nuzzle to hug. He measured his days in snuggles, rather than in minutes. He loved to be picked up and carried. He loved to be held, and, unlike most cats, you could hold him until your arms got tired, because the urge to get down never overcame him. He always had to be touching us, including with the unique way he had of flicking his butt to the side to brush against us when walking by. (We thought this quirk of his was so funny and cute.)

The Wrah-Wrah loved all three of us so much, Callaghan, Nounours, and me… and his love was such a huge, constant and present force in our lives that now, the emptiness where he used to be is just crushing. It is to me, at least. I’m having a difficult time with the absence of our “little lovebug” who was actually the greatest source of love I’ve ever encountered in a being, believe it or not. In that sense, he is divine. He’s with us somehow, I know… but still, when I walk through the house and see his favorite places, the realization of his physical goneness sucks the breath out of my own lungs, and I hinge forward under the weight of it.

It’s been rough, friends. Really, really rough. I don’t think that time could help me to miss him less, but it may help me to adapt, eventually.

Without further ado, here are the seven pictures in the “Callaghan and Ronnie James, bonding” series. At the end, I tacked on a pic of me with the Wrah-Wrah (and Callaghan’s leg!), and another of the Wrah-Wrah with his beloved Nounours, both from instagram, as well.

“Callaghan and Ronnie James, bonding”:

 

May 17, 2014. The first photo in the series. Ronnie James hanging out with his Daddy in bed, each of them doing their thing.

May 17, 2014.
The first photo in the series. Ronnie James hanging out with his Daddy in bed, each of them doing their thing.

 

June 2014. Ronnie James often kept his Daddy company in the studio (Callaghan would place the second bar-stool there just for him). This was still back in our old apartment.

June 2014.
Ronnie James often kept his Daddy company in the studio (Callaghan would place the second bar-stool there just for him). This was still back in our old apartment.

 

August 2014. Looking up attentively at his Daddy, probably asking for more belly rubs. He loved his belly rubs!

August 2014.
Looking up attentively at his Daddy, probably asking for more belly rubs. He loved his belly rubs!

 

November 2014. Ronnie James was never happier than when being snuggled by me, Callaghan, or Nounours.

November 2014.
Ronnie James was never happier than when being snuggled by me, Callaghan, or Nounours.

 

December 2014. He loved to drape himself over us. Look at his paw on Callaghan's arm! He loved to touch us.

December 2014.
He loved to drape himself over us. Look at his paw on Callaghan’s arm! He loved to touch us.

 

March 2015. Ronnie James and Callaghan sharing a moment right before we went to France for a week.

March 2015.
Ronnie James and Callaghan sharing a moment right before we went to France for a week.

 

May 14, 2015.  Last photo in the series, almost a year since the first. This photo was taken the day Ronnie James died... just hours before he died, in fact.

May 14, 2015.
Last photo in the series, almost a year since the first. This photo was taken the day Ronnie James died… just hours before he died, in fact.

 

And here are the two extras:

 

August 2014. Ronnie James with Callaghan and me. I remember the ferocity of his purring, he was so happy.

August 2014.
Ronnie James with Callaghan and me. I remember the ferocity of his purring, he was so happy.

 

March 2014.  One of many photos of Ronnie James and Nounours cuddling together.

March 2014.
One of many photos of Ronnie James and Nounours cuddling together.

 

Poor Nounours is so forlorn without his Wrah-Wrah. He still seeks out and cuddles with his brother’s urn and collar.

We will get through this. On Monday, Callaghan left for France suddenly because of an urgent family situation, so he’s preoccupied with the goings-on over there. I’m here with Nounours, doing my best to nurture him through his grief as I work through my own. I value this time to bond more with Nounours. We’re helping each other.

We love you, Ronnie James. As I often used to sing to him: Precious-angel-baby-bunny-dragon-Ronnie-James!

The Wrah-Wrah’s paw print.

Why good morning, friends. As of three days ago, I have a new tattoo, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a small one, but of all my tattoos, this one is the dearest to my heart.

Right after Ronnie James died, I suddenly, desperately wanted to apply ink to his little paw pads and press his paw onto paper. It wasn’t a thought I’d taken the time to formulate beforehand. As much as I’d tried to prepare myself, his passing was harder for me than I’d imagined it could be, and in the aftermath, I wanted something of him that would stay with me forever.

Since it was a last-minute decision, we were ill-prepared. The inks in Callaghan’s studio yielded fuzzy prints, but we thought we could work with them. They were certainly better than nothing. My idea was to have his paw print indelibly inked on the inside of my wrist, where I could see it all the time. I wanted a permanent, visual remembrance of how Ronnie James loved to touch me, and of how comforting and sweet his touch had been.

 

The Wrah-Wrah's first fuzzy little prints. The one I chose didn't come from this set, but we're going to have this sheet framed.

The Wrah-Wrah’s first fuzzy little prints. The one I chose didn’t come from this set, but we’re going to have this sheet framed.

 

When our house-calling vet brought the Wrah-Wrah’s cremains home to us two days later, she surprised us with another sheet of paper on which she’d stamped some lovely, clear Wrah-Wrah prints, a thoughtful gesture that touched us deeply. I vacillated between my two favorites before deciding on this one:

 

Getting an idea of how it would look....

Getting an idea of how it would look….

 

Callaghan loved it and decided to get the same tattoo. We went to the Club Tattoo down the street here in Tempe to make an appointment with the person who’d done my last (spiral of hearts) tattoo. We made our double appointment for Saturday afternoon.

 

Ronnie James' paw print realistically done in four shades of black/gray.

Ronnie James’ paw print realistically done in four shades of black/gray.

 

The same tattooist did that spiral of hearts around my arm in 2011, right before the move to France. (In case you're wondering, no, I don't lift weights. I just do Body Combat 3x / week. I do want to get back in the garage to work out, though... it's been a good couple of months.)

The same tattooist did that spiral of hearts around my arm in 2011, right before the move to France. (In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t lift weights. I just do Body Combat 3x / week. I do want to get back in the garage to work out, though… it’s been a good couple of months.)

 

I explained to our tattooist that I wanted the tattoo to look smudgy and real, as if Ronnie James’ inked paw had been pressed directly onto my wrist. He expertly used four shades of black/gray to achieve the effect with shading. I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out. I absolutely adore it.

 

Now I'll always have the Wrah-Wrah's paw on me.

Now I’ll always have the Wrah-Wrah’s paw on me.

 

And here’s a bad selfie, just for fun. (How do people take mirror selfies, anyway? It never worked out the few times I tried it. It must be an art form.)

 

Thwarted by lighting! Useless selfie attempting to show my freshly bandaged wrist... but you can see Callaghan in the background getting his tattoo done, so there's that.

Thwarted by lighting! Useless selfie attempting to show my freshly bandaged wrist… but you can see Callaghan in the background getting his tattoo done, so there’s that.

 

Callaghan loves his tattoo, as well. He asked to have the print altered just a tiny bit, and we wanted ours angled slightly differently, and he positioned his further down his wrist than mine, and he has his on his left wrist, while mine is on my right… so our Wrah-Wrah prints aren’t exactly identical. The Wrah-Wrah loved us both, but differently. He touched us both, but differently.

The Wrah-Wrah is Forever.

Phenomenon: Nounours with his beloved Wrah-Wrah.

(First things first for you English-speakers:  Nounours is our other cat, as many of you already know, and his name is pronounced “Noo-NOO’orse.” I’m afraid that’s the closest approximation I’m going to achieve in writing. The second two parts – the vowels – flow together quickly, pronounced as one syllable. “Nounours” is French for “teddy bear.”)

In the wake of Ronnie James’ departure, Nounours has been grieving along with us this past week. We feel badly for him. We’ve been trying to console him, giving him as much love as he can handle. He and the Wrah-Wrah were extremely close. They were attached close.

 

Two proverbial peas in a pod, Ronnie James and Nounours.

Two proverbial peas in a pod, Ronnie James and Nounours.

 

Nounours holding Ronnie James' hand. Now, we believe that Nounours knew things we didn't know.

Nounours holding Ronnie James’ hand.
Now, we believe that Nounours knew things we didn’t know.

 

Nounours took such good care of his  brother.

Nounours took such good care of his brother.

 

Nounours always nurtured Ronnie James.

Nounours always nurtured Ronnie James.

 

Easy-going Nounours is a big goofball, and a lovable goofball he is, too. We often affectionately joke that he isn’t “the sharpest blade in the drawer,” but there are different types of intelligence. Nounours’ intelligence, it turns out, is other-worldly.

For instance, Nounours is the lone feline in the house now, but he doesn’t lie by the front door anymore, as he was wont to do when Ronnie James was away in the hospital. (That, in itself, was indicative of Nounours’ sixth sense. He otherwise never planted himself by the front door.) The reason? He knows that this time, Ronnie James isn’t coming home. He knows that his brother will never come through that door again. Nounours was with us when Ronnie James died. He was there and he witnessed the whole thing, and then he approached and sniffed the Wrah-Wrah’s lifeless little body. He understood. He knew.

However….

Two days after Ronnie James’ death, his cremains came through the door. His ashes came home to us in an urn – a small, locked box – last Saturday afternoon, hand-delivered.

 

A little padlock hangs  beneath the heart name-tag, and there are two keys for it taped to the underside of the urn.

A little padlock hangs beneath the heart name-tag, and there are two keys for it taped to the underside of the urn.

 

And somehow, Nounours understands this, too, at what seems to be a very deep level.

There’s a large, flat cushion lying in the inner corner of our sectional couch, a relic from the love-seat we had when we were living in Austin. We brought the love-seat with us from Texas to our apartment when we moved back to Arizona, then donated it when we moved into this house and got a new couch. We kept this one cushion, though, along with the matching ottoman. The two pieces add a touch of muted color to the beige-on-beige thing we’ve got going on in our living room.

In the last weeks of his life, Ronnie James loved to rest on the cushion when I was sitting next to it… and only when I was sitting next to it. It started because he would sit near me along the top of the backrest couch cushions. One day, when he was up there by my right shoulder, I set this oddball cushion down in the corner. He came down and arranged himself on it immediately. He wanted to be near me at all times, if not actually touching me or lying on me.

The cushion became Ronnie James’ special spot when I would sit on this section of the couch, and it’s still there today.

 

Stretching out on the cushion and touching me with his head and hands. He loved to be in physical contact with me, and he never touched me more than he did in those last three days of his life.

Stretching out on the cushion and touching me with his head and hands. He loved to be in physical contact with me, and he never touched me more than he did in those last three days of his life.

 

Nounours, on the other hand, never paid attention to the cushion. Its purpose was always decorative, so no one ever sat on it but Ronnie James once I set it down in that spot a few weeks ago.

 

Ronnie James sleeping next to me on his cushion on May 14 - his last day in this world.

Ronnie James sleeping next to me on his cushion on May 14 – his last day in this world.

 

We were steeped in grief when Ronnie James’ urn came home on Saturday, but we were grateful to have it so soon. It’d been less than 48 hours since his death. We received the urn and then left to attend a friend’s evening wedding – a welcome distraction, focusing on someone else’s happy occasion! When we got home, we sat next to each other on the couch. I was in tears again. Ronnie James’ cushion was terribly vacant next to me. Without really thinking, I set his little urn and his collar on it.

Then Nounours came out from the bedroom and went directly to the corner of the couch.

Nounours appeared when I set the Wrah-Wrah’s urn and collar on the cushion, and we couldn’t believe what happened next.

Nounours, who isn’t a cat who does things deliberately, like Ronnie James did (they were opposites… actually, Ronnie James was like me, whereas Nounours is like Callaghan), walked straight to the corner of the couch and jumped up to Ronnie James’ cushion. He found his brother’s collar. He found his brother’s urn. We’ve never seen him so curious, interested in or focused on anything.

 

First, Nounours discovered the Wrah-Wrah's collar. He pulled it close to him before turning his attention to the urn.

First, Nounours discovered the Wrah-Wrah’s collar. He pulled it close to him before turning his attention to the urn.

 

We couldn’t believe it.

 

Watching this, our hearts broke all over again.

Watching this, our hearts broke all over again.

 

Rubbing his face on the urn...

Rubbing his face on the urn…

 

Flipping it over...

Flipping it over…

 

He seemed to be confused and almost frantic trying to get the box open.

He seemed to be confused and almost frantic trying to get the box open.

 

Callaghan and I were floored, to say the least.

 

It looks like Nounours is reading the label on the bottom of the urn. It's printed with the Wrah-Wrah's name and the date of his cremation.

It looks like Nounours is reading the label on the bottom of the urn. It’s printed with the Wrah-Wrah’s name and the date of his cremation.

 

After pawing at Ronnie James’ urn, hugging it, rubbing his face on it, turning it around and flipping it over twice, he pushed and nosed it into the corner of the couch and rested his face against it. He seemed sad at first, but then he started to purr.

 

Resting his head on the Wrah-Wrah's urn, purring.

Resting his head on the Wrah-Wrah’s urn, purring.

 

Callaghan and I were dumbfounded by this astonishing and obvious display of recognition. Nounours somehow knew that his brother had something to do with the urn. I picked my jaw up from the floor as I reached for my phone to catch a few seconds of Nounours purring with his brother’s ashes.

Apologies for the bad quality of this video… I don’t have the equipment or the experience to make good videos… but here it is, nonetheless:

 

 

Last night, I captured a second recording of Nounours snuggling with his brother’s cremains. He does it every day, no matter where we’ve placed the urn. In this video, they’re on the futon in my office.  (Please excuse not only the bad filming, again, but also the airplane noise cameo at the end! We’re in downtown Tempe, near the Sky Harbor flight paths.)

Also, it just so happens that Ronnie James died one week ago in this exact spot.

 

 

We’ll often find Nounours sitting or lying with the Wrah-Wrah’s urn, hugging it or just touching it. Or, we’ll find him curled up with his brother’s collar, or actually holding the collar in his paw.

He misses his Wrah-Wrah so much.

A second phenomenon is that Nounours has taken on some of Ronnie James’ traits since Ronnie James died, including cleaning himself more, talking more, giving us eye-blink kisses the way the Wrah-Wrah did, walking near us to brush our lower legs with some part of his body, and occupying spaces and places in the house that Ronnie James used to occupy.

 

Poor Nounours.

Poor Nounours.

 

He looks so sad.

He looks so sad.

 

Sometimes, we find Nounours lying on or next to the cushion, arm outstretched, paw resting on his brother's urn.

Sometimes, we find Nounours lying on or next to the cushion, arm outstretched, paw resting on his brother’s urn.

 

And sometimes, we find Nounours just sitting protectively over his brother, like he used to.

And sometimes, we find Nounours just sitting protectively over his brother, like he used to.

 

It’s not just the cushion, either. Nounours will find and snuggle up to Ronnie James’ urn and collar no matter where they are.

 

When I placed the Wrah-Wrah's urn and collar at the foot of the bed, Nounours went to them. We found him like this, holding the Wrah-Wrah's collar close to him.

When I placed the Wrah-Wrah’s urn and collar at the foot of the bed, Nounours went to them. We found him like this, holding the Wrah-Wrah’s collar close to him.

 

This is the last picture taken of Ronnie James and Nounours together:

 

Ronnie James absolutely adored his Nounours. This picture was taken the day he died.  It was the last time Nounours got to nurture his brother.

Ronnie James adored his Nounours. This picture was taken the day he died. It was the last time Nounours got to nurture his brother.

 

Last night marked one week since Ronnie James’ death.

The Wrah-Wrah is Forever.

Ronnie James will have been gone for five days tonight, and it’s still so hard to walk through the house seeing all the places and things he loved… seeing where he should be or would be, were he still here with us in his furry gray suit, and thinking of what he would be doing. This house without him in it just isn’t right. Callaghan, Nounours and I hope you know how much we appreciate your caring, compassion and concern for the loss of our little lovebug.

Here are the words I wanted to say on Friday, but couldn’t. I just wanted to share with you the events of the week leading up to Ronnie James’ death. I also wanted to write a little tribute to the Wrah-Wrah.

 

Ronnie James the night we brought him home (Monday). Wide-eyed and content.

Ronnie James the night we brought him home (Monday). Wide-eyed and content.

 

We brought Ronnie James home from the hospital on Monday night last week, and the next day, he had an exceptionally good day. With his chest freshly tapped, he was his usual happy and active little self. I took the day off from work to be with him. He ate and drank well, also as usual, and he kept himself close to my side all day… and I do mean even closer than usual. Everywhere I went, he went. Every time I settled on the couch or on the bed, he climbed up on me to snuggle, or he curled up next to me. Callaghan was mostly not here, as he spent much of last week working on-site, but later, when I told him about the day, he was encouraged. We ended the day with the tiniest bit of hope.

On Wednesday, I stayed home with the Wrah-Wrah again – I’d asked for those two days off in advance, as soon as we knew that we were bringing him home on Monday evening – and again, he was happy.

But he also told us that he did not wish to keep his appointment for Thursday’s x-ray/fluid re-check. As heartbreaking as this was to us, it made sense, and it wasn’t unexpected.

I thought I’d seen hints of maybe a miracle the day before. He’s eating so enthusiastically! I thought. Maybe if he eats a lot, he’ll get strong enough for his body to be able to absorb the fluid accumulating in his pleural cavity! Maybe he can be one of those lucky cats who survives chylothorax!

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Deep down, I knew I was kidding myself. They don’t call it “end stage” when it’s not. There’s no turning back from the complication of pleural fibrosis. That was the problem… the pleural fibrosis. And that was what I was afraid of all along.

I called Dr. M., anyway, to talk about the Thursday follow-up appointment. He explained that if Ronnie James had accumulated enough fluid to be tapped, the radiologist would have to insert the needle into each pocket in order to aspirate enough of it to relieve the pressure around the lungs. This would create even more pockets for fluid to fill in the pleural cavity. At the rate Ronnie James had been accumulating fluid in the hospital up until the moment he was released, the likelihood of finding a tappable volume of fluid on Thursday was 99.9%.

Did we want to put him through that again for those kinds of odds? Certainly not… and Ronnie James didn’t want to go back there again, either.

We didn’t want a single minute of Ronnie James’ short time left to involve anything but pleasantness and contentment for him, and getting stuffed into his carrier and carted back to the hospital wouldn’t qualify as pleasant. We didn’t want to “buy him time” for selfish reasons. The reality at that point was that nothing we could do would change the outcome, so we canceled his appointment in order to spare him the ordeal.

I spoke with Dr. M. a second time, and also with his primary care doctor at our main clinic, who referred me to someone she knew who made house calls. Then, with my heart crumpled into something unrecognizable in my own chest, I made the phone call. The house-calling vet had room in her schedule for us for the next evening… Thursday night.

Thursday morning, I woke up planning to go to work, but as soon as I got out of bed, I knew that I had to be with Ronnie James on his last day in this world. His favorite thing had always been me being home with him. That was when he was the happiest, and I didn’t want to deny him that at the end, if I could help it. I asked my supervisor if I could take one more day. I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to spend Ronnie James’ last three days at home with him. That time with him was invaluable.

So on Thursday, May 14, Ronnie James got 100,000 more kisses. I got to press my face against his, feel his whiskers on my cheeks, and breathe in the adorable, sweet smell of his kitty breath (a scent that only a cat mom can love, I know). I got to feel his purring on my heart as he stretched out and slept on my chest.

One of the most frustrating things about chylothorax is that it doesn’t lead to a typical, end-of-life decline… a decline that you can see. A decline that makes you feel better about the euthanasia. Ronnie James continued to eat, drink, and use his litter box normally until the very end. Not only that, but he was excited about his meal times and his treats throughout the day. He loved drinking from his water fountain. He loved hanging out in his toy corner. Psychologically, all of this made the decision to euthanize even more difficult. We never observed a diminishing quality of life, so we felt like we were killing him unnecessarily. We had to keep reminding ourselves that the fluid filling up his little chest would soon suffocate him.

With chylothorax, cats and dogs are just fine, until they’re not… and when you can see that they’re not, they’re suffering. You see them struggling to breathe. We didn’t want to take that chance. We didn’t want to end up at the E.R. with him in the middle of the night again. That was not how we wanted his death to happen; that was not what we wanted his last experience to be. When we brought him home from the hospital on Monday night, we promised him that we wouldn’t let him suffer, and honoring that promise became our mission in life for those few days we had left with him.

All day Thursday, the most painful thing was to see Ronnie James being so totally normal. He acted like a normal cat on a normal day. He scarfed up his food and drank water from his water fountain. He came running for his treats. He sat at the window and watched his birdies, chattering at them. He roamed around the house, checking everything out with his usual curiosity, and the only odd thing there was that he did this looking kind of detached, as if he was exploring a house that he’d never seen before. It was like he was patrolling, or doing a military re-con exercise. He investigated the whole place thoroughly and purposefully. It was like he was making sure that everything was okay.

As on the previous two days, he spent lots of time snuggling with me. He spent lots of time snuggling with his beloved Nounours. When Callaghan was home, he spent quality time with him, as well.

The vet arrived that night, and Callaghan, Nounours and I were as ready as we were going to be. Ronnie James was ready, too. He was still behaving normally, but his breathing had started to grow faster in the last few hours, so we knew that our timing was good. Chylothorax parents at the end of the struggle know the nuances to watch for very well. We know how to count our baby’s breaths every four hours to gauge when some kind of action should be taken. We were confident in our decision regarding what action to take this time. At 9:59pm, from the comfort of his own home, Ronnie James entered into a better dimension, leaving his embattled body behind in this world. He died in my arms, with his head in his Daddy’s hands, as he loved that so much, and with his brother Nounours nearby.

My heart was destroyed.

I’m going to reiterate, because I can’t say it enough… it was agonizing to put a perfectly normal-looking and behaving cat to sleep. It wasn’t at all like when I had to put my Frankie kitty to sleep because of kidney failure. Frankie did all of the typical things. He stopped eating. At the end, he pretty much stopped moving. It was visibly clear that he was near death. Looking at the Wrah-Wrah being so normal, we just had to keep reminding ourselves of the Armageddon happening inside his chest. We had to remember that in a very short period of time, he would have started to suffer. Liberating Ronnie James from his earthly body was the only humane thing we could do.

The venomous caterpillar that set off this disastrous chain of events won. We did everything we could to save Ronnie James; the damage was just too extensive. But if we hadn’t rescued him from that woman in Montélimar, he would have continued living in misery before dying horribly on his own, slowly suffocating to death from the inside. That is how Dr. M. described a natural death from chylothorax.

I categorized all of my posts about the Wrah-Wrah’s experience and put the category as a link in my blog’s sidebar to make it easier for people to find. There’s a paucity of information about this disease online, and I hope that my documentation here can be helpful to cat and dog parents who find themselves confronted with this terrible diagnosis for their fur-babies.

The Wrah-Wrah was extraordinarily brave and so strong and so full of life until the very end. His love of cuddles and kisses never abated. He never lost his taste for his favorite treats. His beautiful gray fur stayed velvety soft. He continued vocalizing his conversations with us, and he continued saying “I love you” with long, slow blinks of his wide eyes. No one gave kitty eye-blink kisses the way he did, by the way. He would find our gaze, hold our eye contact, and initiate the gesture, keeping his eyes closed for a few seconds before slowly opening them again, making sure that we didn’t miss it.

Ronnie James was my little soul mate from Day One. As I said to a friend the other day, he was my angel kitty who came and saved me when I was grieving the loss of Detta, my kitty who went missing in the French Alpes. I love Nounours dearly, but the Wrah-Wrah and I immediately formed a bond of a depth and strength I’ve never experienced with any other being. It was only in mid-October 2012 that we brought the two little guys home. When I start to dissolve in anguish over having had such a short time with Ronnie James, I remind myself that I should be grateful for every day that I had with him. And I am. I’m so very grateful for every day that I had with the Wrah-Wrah in the two years and seven months he was with us.

Sometime last fall, when we thought we were just dealing with asthma, I started to feel panicky about Ronnie James. I had an ominous feeling. We would be administering his inhaler asthma medications, and I would suddenly tear up and ask Callaghan, desperately, Can the Wrah-Wrah be Forever? I wanted to hear someone say, Yes, the Wrah-Wrah is Forever.

And you know what? He is. The Wrah-Wrah is Forever.

Like his namesake, Ronnie James was a little rock star. Throughout it all, no one could believe how brave he was, how alive he was. Everyone who knew him adored him. He was just such a smart, sweet, and most personable and loving little kitty. Ronnie James will always be my Rainbow in the Dark.

Here is a sampling of some of the pics I took of the Wrah-Wrah in his last three days. I especially wanted to capture his snuggly moments.

On Tuesday the 12th:

 

Curled up on my robe on the couch.

Curled up on my robe on the couch.

 

Curled up against me....

Curled up against me….

 

Laying on my belly, hugging me.

Laying on my belly, hugging me.

 

I couldn't resist taking a picture of it reflected in my laptop screen.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of it reflected in my laptop screen.

 

Stretched out on my legs, looking at pictures of himself.

Stretched out on my legs, looking at pictures of himself.

 

On my legs, on the bed. I ruffled his fur to demonstrate his new mohawk.

On my legs, on the bed. I ruffled his fur to demonstrate his new mohawk.

 

On Wednesday the 13th:

 

Sleeping, hugging my legs.

Sleeping, hugging my legs.

 

He jumped up to sit on his favorite bar-stool even the day before he died.

He jumped up to sit on his favorite bar-stool even the day before he died.

 

On Thursday the 14th:

 

He kept eating up until the very end, too.

He kept eating up until the very end, too.

 

Ronnie James fully enjoyed loving on his Daddy, too, when he was there.

Ronnie James fully enjoyed loving on his Daddy, too, when he was there.

 

On Friday, I have a story of Nounours’ to tell, as we’ve been witness to a true phenomenon in his grieving process for his brother.

Thank you again for reading, and for being here with us.