Remember this little girl? (Kitty updates!)

Kitty update fans… I’ve owed you this post for a long time. Nenette updates have been few and far between. Not only that, but the last one was pretty lame, as it was text-heavy and it featured only one pic of Nenette. I know you’re here for the pics!

The thing is, I’m always trying to take pics of her, but she dislikes having her picture taken. She knows when I’m doing it. She’s the Houdini of photography: she’s good at escaping. More often than not, I wind up with a blur of whiskers and butt-hole.

I don’t give up, though. I’ve been continuing my efforts, and now I’ve got a handful of pics to show for it. These range from the first week of September to yesterday. Oh… I should say that I’ve posted a couple of good pics of her on my Instagram in the last few months. Those pics aren’t included here. My insta account is thatasianlookingchick, if you’re interested (it’s in the sidebar).

Without further ado, enjoy some pics of Nenette!

 

She loves to lay down next to me while I’m writing. Here she it trying to get my attention:

 

Nenette’s favorite kitty bed is this backpack that I mistakenly thought was mine.

 

She still leads us to her toy box and digs into it, searching for the toys she wants.

 

Nenette in her toy corner

 

Nenette doesn’t hang out on the bed, but she’s been joining me more when I settle there with my laptop. (It’s a sleigh bed. I sit and lean against the footboard.)

 

Nenette on the prowl (new territory for her)

 

She still loves her little glasses of water all over the place. This one is a permanent fixture behind me where I write. She comes and asks for fresh water several times a day.

 

Nenette drinks as much water as I do.

 

Nenette up in her crow’s nest at my office window… one of her favorite places.

 

Nenette in the late summer

 

I picked up two new plants for my office, so Nenette had to inspect. By the way, my office looks slightly different since I last posted pics of it. I might do an updated office tour post, if you’d be interested in seeing that.

 

Nenette with Linden, one of my new plants.

 

Nenette’s always loved to hide behind the books in the living room. Now she can do it in my office, too, since I’ve acquired some shelves.

 

Easter egg Nenette

 

That’ll do it for this post! Everything is good with Nenette. I’ll keep trying to get pics of her so I can do these posts more often.

 

Nenette’s tale of woe, bird edition. (Kitty update!)

Our yard abounds with two types of birds: doves and grackles. I always liked the doves. I liked their calls. The grackles, not so much.

I noticed the grackles hanging out by the dumpster behind our backyard. I didn’t know what they were, at first. A friend filled me in. I don’t like them, I said. They’re creepy and they sit on our back fence by the dumpster, and sometimes they fly around it and dive in. She said that she liked grackles. We agreed that she could have my grackles if I could have her doves.

Cut to six or so months later, to a few weeks ago. Callaghan and I started spreading wild bird seed across the gravel outside our bedroom window, because Nenette loved to sit on the dresser and watch the doves. There were doves perched on the wire above, doves on the side fence, doves in the neighbor’s mesquite tree, doves everywhere. Nenette had a great view. If we put seeds on the ground, we thought, Nenette would have more birds to watch!

We bought a huge bag of assorted seeds and scattered them around that part of the yard, replenishing the spread every other day. The yard proliferated with birds in the mornings and late afternoons. It was just doves, at first, and then some smaller, brown birds that we decided must be finches.

Then the grackles joined the party. I watched them in dismay, but the more I observed, the more they fascinated me.

Look what they do! I said to Callaghan one day after calling him to the window. They use their beaks to dig and throw rocks aside so they can get to the sunflower seeds.

We noticed that the doves and finches weren’t eating those larger seeds. But the grackles were.

I studied them, transfixed by their methodology. A grackle would dig into the large gravel, picking up the rocks and flinging them left and right. Then he’d grab the unearthed sunflower seed, fly to a patch of dirt on our small lawn, and patiently gnaw at the seed, repeatedly dropping it and picking it back up until the shell gave way. He’d eat the seed, fly back to the gravel, and start the process over again.

We marveled at them. Grackles are interesting! They’re smart! They hunt, make decisions, use their beaks like tools. They eat the sunflower seeds, which no one else in our bird community did. We never saw them bullying other birds. In fact, it was the doves who were territorial and rude. A dove would march toward a grackle, who would then peacefully walk away to a different spot while the dove poked around in the grackle’s hole, even though there was nothing there that he wanted. We also saw the doves bullying each other.

I was wrong, I said to Callaghan. He said yes, it’s the doves who are the bullies.

Grackles aren’t creepy because they hang out by the dumpster, I thought. Don’t judge a book by its cover. My word! I’d been profiling the grackles.

Now a fan of grackles, I looked them up online so I could learn more about them.

I found out that grackles are considered to be PEST BIRDS.

We stopped feeding the birds, afraid that the grackles would start doing all of the Terrible Things. Callaghan was also concerned that with the abundance of doves, some would be sure to nest on our house and wreak whatever havoc that would cause.

And now, poor Nenette has no bird party to watch. This is has been Nenette’s tale of woe. She is bereft.

 

No more birds for Nenette.

 

I miss the birds, too. I loved watching them! Are they really that bad to have around? Would the doves wreck our house with their nesting? Does anyone know?

La Fin.

Writing Q and A: habits, music, status. (Writing updates!)

My last writing update post was on 30 June, so it’s time for another one, I reckon!

Every writer’s habits and rituals are personal, right? And, for many of us, in flux. Things flow and evolve. We go with it.

I still wish I was a writer who could stick to a schedule. The best I can do – more importantly, what works for me – is to protect my optimal writing time. Currently, that’s one full weekday (Mondays) + all early mornings. The rest of the time is for flexible writing, meaning, I can write around going to the gym Tuesday-Saturday, as well as occasional appointments, errands, and lunches.

At this point, there’s never a day that I don’t write at all. I write something every. single. day.

Speaking of which! My Tuesday/Friday blog-posting time here in TALC has officially changed: I’m now posting within the mid-morning to noonish window.

With all of the above, I’ve started off this mini writing Q&A. I’m happy to answer some of these recurring questions:

Q: Can you multi-task while writing?

A: It depends. The deeper I get into a writing session, the more scarce I am on social media. When I’m in a “deep sleep” stage of writing, I’m completely incommunicado.

I can’t be off-line, though, because I refer to the dictionary, and I’m always researching something or another.

Q: Do you listen to music while writing?

A: Not usually, but sometimes.

When I started working on this novel, I’d listen to certain songs to invoke a memory of a time. I haven’t done that for a while. Now, I can write with music playing on a low volume, choosing music that creates a background soundscape.

A current favorite is by Rachel’s: “To Rest Near to You.” It’s moody and eerie with voices whispering “I thought the sea.”

It’s perfect for this last stretch of the novel.

Other good background songs of the moment: “With More Air Than Words,” “Night at Sea,” and “Letters Home” (Also by Rachel’s, from their 1996 album The Sea and the Bells.)

I wish I could provide you with “To Rest Near to You,” but I get my music from Soundcloud, and you have to have a Soundcloud GO+ account in order to hear that entire Rachel’s album. Here’s their song “Stark Sea,” though, also on my current writing playlist:

 

 

I like this sort of music while I’m writing. It’s atmospheric without distracting my creative brain cells with melody that wants following.

And when I say I play the pieces with the volume down low, I mean very low. The planes taking off and landing at Sky Harbor are louder.

Q: Do you take breaks?

A: Yes. Many. I have to stop often in order to put distance between what I’ve written and what’s in my head from having written it.

There’s actually a pattern: on an average day, I go through three writing stages and two break stages, beginning and ending with writing. (I take smaller breaks within the writing stages, usually to eat. In the afternoons, I eat often.)

Q: Distractions?

A: I do get up to wander around the house. I have to unfold myself from the floor every once in a while.

Incidentally, I have Nenette, who is not a distraction. She’s the opposite of a distraction. She puts her nose on my forehead to transmit inspiration.

 

Nenette in her crow’s nest tree in the corner of my office.

 

These days, Nenette is apt to sleep on the floor next to me while I’m writing, but she still spends time up on her crow’s nest.

Q: Current project stage and status?

A: I’ve reached, as noted earlier, the final stretch.

Things are accelerating. That doesn’t mean that my writing’s accelerating, though. I have to focus now more than ever in order to control the pace and manner of unraveling.

As for current status, my word court at present is 56,952. My goal word count continues to be a moving target, so I’m just going to say that I’m between 80% and 90% finished.

That’s it for the monthly update! Thank you all for reading, once again. Happy Friday… or whatever day it is when you read this. =)

Every day is Bring Your Fur-child to Work Day. (Nenette update!)

Kitty update lovers, today is your lucky day on TALC, for I have a Nenette update post… only a month since my last one! Shocking!

Being that I’m in my office all day, all of these pics were taken here.

Nenette has developed new habits and games for this new, revised office.

For instance:

 

She spies on me from behind the plants.

 

Behind HER plants.

 

She gazes at the Buddha (like mother, like daughter).

 

With the Buddha.

 

She instigates play by chewing the tassels on the bag I keep right next to me. She knows, see, that I don’t want her to chew those tassels… by chewing on them, I’m compelled to grab her toy – the black string behind her – to distract her away from the tassels. (Yes, I’m easily trainable by her. I’m only partially susceptible to her tricks. Truth be told, I could refuse to participate if I wanted to!)

 

Chewing on tassels that aren’t toys (aka playing)

 

Now that I’m not sitting at a table with room on it for her, she drinks her water beneath the small bench behind me. This little “cage” has become her new watering hole, and here, she’s upped her water game, taking it to a whole new level: she comes to ask me for water, I get up and get it, bringing my own refilled glass while I’m at it… and then when I get back, I set her water glass down, hold mine out to her for a toast – “chin!” – and we both drink our water.

Callaghan could not hide his amazement the first time he witnessed us performing this ritual.

 

Nenette with her drinking habit

 

(I don’t know why/how that black bar filled up the bottom part of the pic, by the way.)

 

She naps on the futon.

 

Nenette crashing on the futon

 

She lolls around with her tongue sticking out.

 

Nenette revealing her silly side up in her crow’s nest (looking a bit washed out by the bright sun behind her)

 

And there’s our Nenette update for June! I’m not making any promises, but we’ll try for another one in July.

Nenette is full of surprises. (Kitty updates!)

I would’ve posted this earlier today if I wasn’t spellbound by the creosote scent in the air. The creosote plant’s ability to intoxicate is sorcery, I’m telling you. Rain brings it out. Creosote isn’t a fragrance you catch as you walk by the plant… it’s a fragrance that saturates the air completely. The Sonoran desert is magic.

Admittedly, I’m also late because I went to the gym this morning, but that’s another (awesome) story.

Getting on with it – as you can tell from its title, this post is about Nenette. I’ve got updates for you… man, do I have updates!

My parents flew in at the end of last week to stay for a four-day visit. Callaghan and I had high hopes that they would be able to see Nenette… at least once, if only in a flash. As you may know, Nenette hides when people come over. We wanted her to prove her existence to Mom and Dad.

WELL. Nenette did hide herself, but she also came out… and when she came out, she stayed out.

Dad was sitting on the couch and she went to him and head-butted his hand so he’d pet her, and then the little minx turned around and stepped forward with that flirty arch in her back that’s kittyese for “pet my butt.” It was elevator butt in the living room with someone she’d never seen before.

She did the same thing with Mom in the hallway. Also, she talked to them with her conversational trills. Also, she dropped to the floor and rolled around. WHAT’S MORE, she did all of this several times throughout their visit.

Callaghan and I were looking at the spectacle like WHO is this cat, and what did she do with our Nenette??!!!

You could’ve knocked us over with a feather. I’m very happy to be able to use that cliché in this context.

The only explanation for Nenette’s unprecedented behavior is that she knew that these were her Grandparents. It’ll be interesting to see what happens the next time we have people over. That will tell us something! Will she do the same with others?

At any rate, I’ve got a few pics here that I’ve accumulated over the last few weeks. Here’s Nenette modeling some facets of her personality. Enjoy!

 

Nenette in the library shadow

 

Nenette in vintage filter

 

(I love how that filter emphasizes the bronze of her Abyssinian coat.)

 

Nenette sleeping

 

Nenette playing

 

Nenette in beastmode, ready to face her opponent

 

That’s it for this wondrous kitty update. Nenette is full of surprises! Time will tell if real changes are happening, or if her behavior was specific to the people involved.

What’s new with Nenette? (Kitty update!)

It’s been two weeks since we lost our sweet Cita, and I know that I owe you Nenette fans an update about her, since my last kitty update post turned into a Cita-only post.

In the last two weeks, Nenette’s usual set of challenges has been compounded by a slew of changes all at once. All changes are traumatic for her. She’d been adjusting to Cita’s presence, and now she’s had to adjust to Cita’s absence. That seemed to be traumatic. At the same time, the carpet in our front room and hallway was getting ripped out and replaced with flooring. That was traumatic. And earlier this week, our houseguests arrived, and their presence, of course, has been traumatic.

Going back to Cita, though: Nenette seemed to know that whatever had happened, it wasn’t good. No doubt the sadness clinging to us clued her in, but there were other indications, as well. The baby gate missing from Cita’s room door. The fact that we no longer spent time in that room. Most of all, probably, the absence of Cita’s scent and energy.

Looking back on it, we actually wonder whether Nenette had been aware that Cita was dying the whole time. She’d been remarkably tolerant of her.

It really looked like Cita’s disappearance didn’t settle well with Nenette; Nenette was agitated for two days. She returned to herself once we scoured Cita’s room and everything in it and opened that door again. We also stopped giving Nenette the anti-anxiety med she’d been taking in order to ease her re-introduction to Cita.

As far as our houseguests this week, Nenette has made herself scarce, predictably, camping out in our bedroom and venturing into enemy territory the scary unknown only in the early mornings when said houseguests were still asleep.

She did have a surprising moment this week, though… she allegedly (I didn’t witness it) came out and approached one of our friends and asked him to pet her, which is unheard of, especially because it was the male of the two friends!

And right now, our guests are up and about, and Nenette is still around in the house. She’s being cautious, but she’s out. It’s funny – whether houseguests stay for two days or four days, Nenette seems to know when it’s their last day, and that’s when she starts getting brave, usually. Today is Day The Last, and Nenette isn’t running for her life to hide in our bedroom.

I took this pic of Nenette last night as we were lounging on the bed together:

 

Nenette on the bed

 

In short, Nenette’s doing well, and her progress is chugging along. I hope to report that she’s less afraid when our next houseguests arrive in three weeks.

ETA – by popular demand – more pics!

Nenette’s Abyssinian side makes her coat colors interestingly different depending on time of day and type of light source. Here are a few pics from the last few months….

This one’s kind of blurry, but her expression is classic Nenette, so I had to include it:

 

Nenette in the early morning.

 

Here’s Nenette displaying her inner wildcat:

 

Nenette in a late morning sunbeam.

 

Nenette in the late afternoon.

 

And here she is spying on me as I was working one night:

 

Nenette at night.

 

Finally, Nenette decided to insert herself into my The Americans poster.

 

Nenette as a cast member of “The Americans.”

 

Happy Friday!

Cita and Opportunistic Mycobacteriosis.

Late Tuesday afternoon last week, Callaghan happened to check the skin beneath Cita’s fur on her backside, where her open wound had been. When we found that the wound had re-opened, we called the vet and arranged to take their open evening appointment slot.

At the hospital, the doctor looked at Cita and then took her to the back to have the area shaved for closer examination. Cita was returned to the room with two large shaved patches on her back end and hindquarter. We saw her old wound, open and oozing and rounded, just like it’d been before it healed. We also saw five more wounds exactly like it. It made no sense. She’d been indoors and pampered in a protected environment for four months.

The next day, Cita’s test results came back, and our baffled doctor consulted with Dr. K, who, with his expertise from many years of experience, determined that Cita was suffering with Opportunistic Mycobacteriosis. We weren’t looking at wounds. We were looking at lesions. Dr. K had only seen the disease twice in his long career.

Cita’s case was textbook.

[Click here to read about mycobacterial diseases in cats]

[And here’s another site on the subject of Opportunistic Mycobacteriosis]

[ETA: Here’s yet another one]

It turned out that just like Ronnie James, Cita was suffering with a disease caused by an environmental menace, and it was uncommon enough that it escaped detection until the end. Ronnie James had come into contact with a poisonous caterpillar in France. Cita had come into contact with a mycobacteria, most likely from soil. Cita had loved to roll in the dirt. The mycobacteria in the dirt probably entered her system through a puncture wound.

We were shocked, but thinking back, we realized that we never actually saw Cita get attacked. We’d seen her getting chased, and early in the fall, we observed tiny puncture wounds after one such incident… so when her first lesion appeared at the beginning of November (the night before we left for my brother’s wedding), we just assumed that the horrible wound had come from an attack.

We recalled how the doctor at the emergency hospital remarked that Cita’s wound didn’t look quite like a cat fight wound. We went back through our paperwork and saw that the doctor had written “dog bite,” and we remembered that she’d hazarded that guess.

All of our assumptions had been based on circumstantial evidence. We’d seen Cita instigating fights by growling at cats, and we’d seen her running away, rather than fighting. We just assumed that the wound had come from a cat jumping on her back as she ran.

(I’ve always been against the notion of cats being outdoors; my cats have always been indoors-only. Cita had been an exception because of the details of her rescue from the street. Despite our strenuous efforts, it wasn’t working out with Nenette, so we had to release her back to her backyard patio and her outdoor laundry room.)

With her diagnosis, everything made sense, especially the solid thickening in her lower belly that no doctor had been able to figure out. At one point, we followed one doctor’s advice and scheduled a surgery for exploration and to remove whatever was in there, but when we took her in for the surgery, the surgeon recommended sparing Cita the ordeal. We’d had X-rays taken, and our surgeon also took Cita back for an ultrasound. None of the tests showed a tumor or a hernia, so we agreed on a “wait and see” approach.

We’re so glad that we did. Cita’s disease was advanced, and no surgery could have saved her.

Since we didn’t know what was going on back then, we re-started a course of antibiotics, plus a painkiller. Cita got better. Her wound closed up, and she was feeling well. She was taking an anti-anxiety medication so we could ease her second introduction to Nenette.

And that medication was working: Cita and Nenette were eating breakfast and dinner together, facing each other through a baby gate under supervision. There was no growling. It was a much different story than early last summer. Cita and Nenette seemed comfortable together; we’d gotten them to the frenemy stage, and we’d planned to take the next step in mid-May.

Cita was happy and relaxed, as playful and affectionate as ever. We spent most of our time with her in her “apartment,” which she loved. She had her favorite scratch pads from the patio, all of her toys, including her precious salamander; she had multiple bedding areas and surfaces to climb. She had houseplants and her cat tree by the window, and she loved sitting on the highest level, enjoying the spring breeze through the screen and watching the birds.

When we received Cita’s diagnosis, we were told that we could battle the disease with another aggressive course of two different antibiotics over an extended period of time, though her prognosis was abysmal. We bought the first round of antibiotics, but instead of starting her on them, we read the websites and talked about the situation all night. We decided against prolonging Cita’s life with a miserable routine of twice-daily medication and discomfort; we didn’t want her last days to be terrible.

We’d given Cita the best life that we could, and now we wanted to give her the best death that we could. We wanted her passing to be happy, beautiful, and dignified.

On Thursday afternoon, Cita received a sedative and painkiller cocktail to help her slip into sleep comfortably. She fell asleep happy in her Daddy’s arms, with me kissing and stroking her face and head. The last thing she heard was us telling her how much we loved her, and me saying, “Sleep well and have good dreams,” as I’d done every night while tucking her in. Once she was asleep, we gently laid her down on the table so the doctor could administer the second injection – the one that would stop her heart. She didn’t know that it was happening.

Now Cita is at peace, but we’re devastated. She’s left an enormous vacancy in our hearts – though she’ll always be in our hearts – and home. She’d been here as long as we’ve been here.

We’re so grateful that she adopted us, so honored that we’d had the privilege to make her last few months of life happy ones. She was pampered and loved probably more and better than she’d ever been. Just like Ronnie James, Cita was pure love and sweetness. Everyone who knew her loved her. She effortlessly stole the hearts of everyone at our veterinarian hospital – the receptionists, technicians, doctors.

We asked for her cremains to be returned to us in an open urn. We’re going to scatter her ashes amongst the plants, trees and flowers in our backyard. She’d loved accompanying Callaghan as he’d go around watering everything. She loved her flowers.

 

Cita’s collar and paw prints

 

Here are the pics of Cita I’d prepared for the post that was supposed to be a kitty update post:

 

Cita at the vet.

 

Cita… starting to feel better.

 

Cita watching over our front yard from her “crow’s nest.”

 

Cita notices everything!

 

Cita falling asleep while looking down on me.

 

Cita loves her window perch.

 

And here are pics of Cita on the morning of her death…

 

Cita’s last bath

Cita on her last day.

 

Thank you all again for your good thoughts and kind and compassionate comments. We appreciate them more than you can know.

Rest in Peace, Cita.

Today’s post was supposed to be a kitty update post. I had pics of Nenette and Cita all ready to go… Cita’s wounds were healed. She was doing much better and emerging from convalescence. But on Tuesday night this week, things took an unexpected turn. Cita passed away yesterday. It happened so quickly; we weren’t prepared to lose her, never thought there was a possibility that we would any time soon.

 

Cita with me on her last day. (March 23, 2017)

 

Thank you to all who cheered her on, you who knew her, who loved her in person and from afar. I’ll share the details and more pics of her next week.

So much love.

CITASAURUS in the house. (Kitty update post!)

[::ahem::] In which I bring you the state of the kittyverse chez nous, because I’ve (still) been slacking on the kitty update posts! Apologies to you who ask, and thank you again for your patience.

The main news is that Cita is doing well, but she’s still healing, and she’ll be having a procedure next week.

I’ve posted most of these Cita pics on Facebook, but a kitty update post provides a good opportunity to see the evolution of her healing… or, shall I say, the evolution of her healing apparatus. She’s gone from a cone to a onesie to an inflatable collar to a triceratops get-up (which I haven’t posted on Facebook).

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cita’s two major wounds were looking good in the healing process. Then one of them opened up again, so we’ve been managing that situation. The other wound stayed closed… but beneath that closed wound on her belly, things got strange.

First, it was a thickening of the skin on the wound. Then the thickening deepened, and now it’s like a ball or a mass you can actually close your fingers around as you massage her belly. Her doctor’s been monitoring her, we’ve been monitoring her, and we’ve continued on with her antibiotics, along with a few other measures.

At Cita’s last appointment (a few days ago), we had an X-ray done to see what’s going on under her closed belly wound. We don’t know what it is, but we’re going to have it removed. It’ll be a minor surgery, and it’s scheduled for next week.

This is not a life-threatening situation. Whatever this thing is, it’s more than likely a result of the healing that started before we realized that she had a wound there. The doctor’s attempts at aspiration have yielded inflammatory cells and infectious cells, but, oddly, no bacteria. We’re basically removing a ball of gunk. It’s just hanging out between her skin and her belly wall (all of her organs are tucked inside her belly wall – she doesn’t have a hernia, as her doctor thought might be the case – and they’re healthy).

This brings us to Cita’s healing apparatus. A cone was needed to keep her from licking her open wound, so we tried the one we got at the vet:

 

Cita with cone - first attempt

Cita with cone – first attempt

 

She couldn’t function in the cone (she couldn’t get down from her low futon without falling, she couldn’t use her litter box, etc.)… so the doctor recommended that we put her in a onesie:

 

Cita in a thrifted onesie

Cita in a thrifted onesie

 

The onesie started out well, but then she wriggled out of it, and we couldn’t keep it on her. Our next option was an inflatable collar:

 

Cita with inflatable collar - third attempt

Cita with inflatable collar – third attempt

 

She’s still wearing this collar, albeit upside-down; this is keeping her from licking her open wound (which is healing nicely, by the way)… but it doesn’t keep her from licking her belly. It’s fine that she’s licking her belly now, since her belly wound is closed, but it won’t be fine next week after her surgery.

So we had to come up with an apparatus that would prevent belly-licking. We decided to fashion an extension to her inflatable collar… something wide enough to do the job, but not angled up like the cone. Her peripheral vision still works in this:

 

Cita with triceratops extension

Cita with triceratops extension

 

Because why not a triceratops collar? I suggested it, Callaghan made it (beautifully!), and now we have a Citasaurus. Here’s Tri-Cita-tops in the wild:

 

TriCitaTops in the wild

TriCitaTops in the wild

 

Of course, she hates it. But it works, and she can function in it. We’ll put it on and leave it on after her gunk-removal procedure next week. A whole new healing process will begin. She’ll need to be a Citasaurus for a few weeks.

Tricitatops is the sweetest Citasaurus you could ever hope to meet.

As for Nenette? Nenette is doing well and being a great sport about the whole situation.

 

Nenette with owl

Nenette with owl

 

She can’t go into my former office anymore (she used to love that window), but she’s not making a fuss. She has endless ways to amuse herself. She can stare into a glass of water for minutes on end.

 

Nenette with water

Nenette with water

 

Here’s her favorite pose:

 

Nenette as royalty

Nenette as royalty

 

So there you have it! Summary: Cita is still recovering. She’s doing well, but she needs minor surgery. Nenette is doing well, too, and she’s being awesome with the shift in routine around here. Nenette may be stranger-shy, but she’s quite adaptable.

More updates to come post-Cita-surgery!

Happy Friday, all!

Year in review, looking ahead, and my favorite little things (2016 favorites!)

Happy New Year! I know I probably already said that, but “Happy New Year” again. This is my annual year-in-review/resolutions/favorites of my past year’s favorites post.

1). 2016 was exciting, but I don’t have to be wistful about it because the good things are continuing into 2017.

I’m still heartened with deep satisfaction from the life changes I was able to make in 2016. It was a particularly great year occupation-wise. About this, I can only say that I’m thankful every day to experience the feeling of vitality the luckiest people feel when they wake up driven and eager because they know they’re going to spend the day doing what they love, where and how they love doing it. Any work-related stress I experience is self-imposed, productive stress. I keep thinking this is all a splendiferous dream. I’m aware that I may have to wake up one day, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Fitness-wise, adding (Les Mills) Body Pump to my workout routine was the best thing I did in 2016. It took me almost the whole year to get here, but I finally did, and I. Am. Loving. It.

The year was rich and rewarding family-wise, too. We spent lovely time with my family (between my brother’s wedding and Thanksgiving), and it was fun ending the year with my sister-in-law and her boys during their longish visit.

One thing we did with them was the annual Phoenix Zoo Lights, which is great, anyway, but so especially awesome with kids!

 

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016

 

With Legoland now open down the way at Arizona Mills (where we also went with the kids), Legos were featured in this year’s Zoo Lights:

 

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016 (with Lego sculpture)

Phoenix Zoo Lights 2016 (with Lego sculpture)

 

On the darker side of 2016: It was a hard year in terms of our furbabies. It involved upheaval, heartbreak, and a lot of time, effort, and money spent trying to make life good for our kitties. It’s not over, but we’re determined. Our focus at the moment is on healing Cita physically. After that, we can focus entirely on healing her emotionally, with the ultimate goal of integrating her into our household with Nenette… yes, we’re going to attempt that again. We are not going to give up.

We’re already doing what we can to make Cita’s environment as stress-free as possible – putting Feliway (comforting feline pheromones) in her air, and Bach Rescue Remedy in her water – so we’re off to a running start. Reducing her stress is helping her to heal, in general.

2). Looking ahead at 2017, I am:

–Starting out the year with an updated workout routine, doing 3 Body Pump classes and 2 Body Combat classes per week, instead of the other way around. It was time for a change, and my body is loving it!

–Continuing work on alleviating (if not overcoming) my PTSD-related claustrophobia via repeated trips to the sensory deprivation tank.

–Speaking more French at home, since I completely failed last year’s resolution and spoke practically no French.

3). I usually do a “favorites of the past year” list; continuing with the tradition, here’s my list of my favorite of my 2016 favorites!

Favorite Random:

  • Les Mills Body Pump
  • Nature’s Wick Bonfire Nights candle

Favorite Skin care, hair care, cosmetics (all cruelty-free… not tested on animals):

  • Derma e antioxidant natural sunscreen with clear zinc oxide SPF 30
  • OGX Healing + Vitamin E shampoo and conditioner
  • The Body Shop Honey and Oat 3 in 1 moisturising scrub mask
  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil
  • The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance hair butter
  • e.l.f. Flawless Finish foundation (in Sand)
  • e.l.f. High Definition Powder in Soft Luminescence
  • e.l.f. Mad for Matte eyeshadow palette

Favorite Foods (all vegan):

  • Scivation Xtend BCAAs (strawberry kiwi)
  • Bragg’s organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • Trader Joe’s multi-grain sourdough (with sunflower and sesame seed) bread
  • Eureka! Seeds the Day bread
  • Seedless red grapes
  • KIND Nuts and Spices bar (dark chocolate nuts and sea salt)
  • Clif Kid Organic Z Bar (iced oatmeal cookie) with peanut butter
  • Chipotle Tabasco sauce

Favorite Movies:

  • Hush
  • Ghostbusters
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hacksaw Ridge

Favorite T.V. series:

  • Orphan Black
  • The Americans
  • Empire
  • The Affair
  • American Horror Story: Roanoke
  • Better Call Saul
  • Bates Motel
  • Stranger Things
  • Black-ish
  • Speechless

That’s it for the wrap-up. Onward!

Merry Eve of Christmas Eve and Christmas! (FAMILY PICS)

This is my last post before Christmas, so I wanted to wish you all a joyous celebration, whatever you’ve got going on!

I’m coming at you with a few family pics. News-wise, there’s nothing much to report. The main point of interest this week was that my glasses with my NEW progressive lenses came in… and lo, THEY WORK! I can see everything everywhere! FEAR ME.

Seriously, though, my first try at progressives didn’t go well, as you may recall. I thought it was me, but it turned out that the prescription was wrong and the lenses were poorly made.

Now I have the right prescription on well-made lenses installed in my accidental frames (lab’s mistake they let me keep at no extra cost), and I’m having no problem seeing with them. I love the convenience they offer! I’m so glad I gave progressives a second shot. As usual, I’ll wear the glasses for writing, driving, and looking at far-away screens… I don’t need them for just walking around (unless I’m grocery shopping, when it’s good to be able to read ingredients lists without the constant on-and-off of reading glasses), but I’m wearing them a lot right now for the purpose of “training my brain” to see in them, or some such.

Onward! Happy holidays from us to you. Oh, we put up a tree this year because Callaghan’s sister and her two kids are coming for Christmas and New Year’s. The tree is for them, despite what Nenette thinks.

 

Nenette taking a break from chewing on ornaments and pawing at presents.

Nenette taking a break from chewing on ornaments and pawing at presents.

 

Cita on her windowsill, taking a break from laughing at the neighbor cats who can't get to her anymore.

Cita on her windowsill, taking a break from laughing at the neighbor cats who can’t get to her anymore.

 

Nenette thinking she's hiding under the tree.

Nenette thinking she’s hiding under the tree.

 

Cita snuggling with her favorite mousie.

Cita snuggling with her favorite mousie.

 

Then there’s Callaghan and me.

 

Callaghan handily taking care of the See's scotchmallow situation.

Callaghan handily taking care of the See’s scotchmallow situation.

 

"You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses, would you?"

“You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, would you?”

 

Then some selfies with the girls. I did that annoying Mom thing and woke them up to take pics.

 

Selfie with Nenette! She wasn't amused to be woken up for this.

Selfie with Nenette! She wasn’t amused to be woken up for this.

 

Selfie with Cita! She was resigned. She's used to us waking her up.

Selfie with Cita! She was resigned. She’s used to us waking her up.

 

Later that day (last night, actually), we thought we’d take some festive holiday pics of ourselves.

 

Frown.

Frown.

 

Derp.

Derp.

 

General goofing around.

General goofing around.

 

Merry Christmas!!

The general kittystate chez nous. (Kitty updates!)

Several of you request more frequent kitty updates, and I’m sorry I haven’t gotten better at this. I like to oblige when you make requests, so I’ll work on posting about the fur-kids more often! For now, every five-six weeks continues to be the norm.

So what have been the main points of interest around here?

1). We went out of town for Thanksgiving. While we were gone, our kitty-sitters never saw Nenette. Not. Even. Once.

We weren’t surprised. We were satisfied to hear that her food was disappearing between visits, and that her litter box was being used.

While she’s continued to get more comfortable with Callaghan and in the house, in general, poor Nenette still has a crippling fear of men and strangers.

If you remember, it was for this precise reason that our Feline Behaviorist recommended keeping Nenette here and giving someone else a chance to take Nounours home to an only-cat situation. Because of their comfort levels with humans, Nenette was deemed “not as adoptable,” while Nounours was evaluated as “very adoptable.”

(How right she was. Because of his personality, Nounours was indeed Mr. Popular at the shelter, and he was adopted by his ideal cat mom within two months.)

When we adopted Nenette, she was confined to a small see-through container in a window at PetSmart with nowhere to hide, so we couldn’t fathom how afraid she was. At the shelter, where visitors get to wander amongst the many available cats, she wouldn’t have been seen. Or she would’ve been seen cowering in a corner. Either way, people would overlook her. People are naturally drawn to cats who come up to say hello and ask for pets, like Nounours the Snuggle-Monster, who loves all humans indiscriminately.

Nounours is in Nounours Paradise with his doting Mom and no competition, but Nenette is still working on overcoming her severe social anxiety. At least our Thanksgiving kitty-sitters have seen pics of her!

That aside, she’s very happy when it’s just us.

2). On her part, Cita is very happy in the winter cabin we’ve created for her in her laundry room. I lined and padded the spacious, highest shelf and covered it with a soft blanket, and she loves it. She has little pillows up there, and at night, we make a cozy bed with a kitty bed (she likes to sleep against it rather than in it, which works well because of its high sides), her pillows, and her bouillotte (soft hot water bottle covered in cozy fabric). She has a space heater and a cat door and a lamp for lower, warm lighting. I spend the working hours of my days in there with her, as I use the washing machine as a standing work station. As far as she’s concerned, Cita is indoors.

She still goes out and gets beat up now and again, talking trash to other cats in the hood. She cannot tolerate other cats (unlike Nounours, who simply resented competition). Twice, we had prospective families for her, and both times, they fell through. But looking at the situation with clear eyes, we can see that she’s simply happy here, on her property, with us. We do what we can to minimize her chances of getting hurt.

Without further ado, enjoy some pics!

Inside fur-child (evidence that Nenette exists):

 

Nenette's favorite place to sleep: In her kitty bed. On her chair. Next to my side of the bed.

Nenette’s favorite place to sleep: In her kitty bed. On her chair. Next to my side of the bed.

 

It’s chilly now, and kitties are in full-on snuggle mode.

 

Nenette reached out to touch my face just as I was about to take this picture.

Nenette reached out to touch my face just as I was about to take this picture.

 

We put up a Christmas tree in anticipation of family from Europe coming to visit for the holidays. As far as we know, Nenette had never seen a Christmas tree. We haven’t decorated it yet… so far, it just has the lights that came with it.

 

Nenette doesn't know what to do with this fake tree in the house.

Nenette doesn’t know what to do with this fake tree in the house.

 

As for Cita, our outdoor fur-child:

 

Cita reminds me of a cartoon character in this pic. I just can't think of which one.

Cita reminds me of a cartoon character in this pic. I just can’t think of which one.

 

She loves plants more than anything.

 

Plants are Cita's favorite things on earth.

Plants are Cita’s favorite things on earth.

 

And she loves her bed in the laundry room!

 

A sudden sound outside caused Cita to make this face just as I was about to take her picture.

A sudden sound outside caused Cita to make this face just as I was about to take her picture.

 

That’s it for now! I’ll try to post kitty updates more often in 2017. I can’t believe we’re within weeks of the new year. Yikes.

Kitty updates! (Halloween edition.)

True confessions: I’ve become that (cat) mom who puts on a video to entertain her kid while she writes.

But it works.

 

Nenette watching her birdies and squirrels video

Nenette watching her birdies and squirrels video

 

Nenette and I have discovered the wondrous videos of Paul Dinning. Nenette’s favorite one is just over two hours long, and when it ends, YouTube rolls it over to another of Mr. Dinning’s videos, which is three hours long. Indeed, Nenette sits and watches the birdies, squirrels, and what have you… for, yes… FIVE hours. It’s gotten to where she’ll literally ask me to put on her birdies. She just adores Mr. Dinning’s videos, and I’m happy to provide, because otherwise:

 

My writing table, aka Nenette's favorite hang-out while I'm working.

My writing table, aka Nenette’s favorite hang-out while I’m working.

 

Thank you, Mr. Dinning… we are much obliged!

Nenette also let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she’s ready for Halloween.

 

Nenette with Jack-O-Lanterns

Nenette with Jack-O-Lanterns

 

Outside on her patio, Cita is ready, too.

 

Cita with Jack-O-Lanterns

Cita with Jack-O-Lanterns

 

She’s getting into character, getting the evil look down… but she’s nothing more than a sweet armful of cuddly kitty. Cita’s problem is that she trash-talks other cats, but then can’t handle the repercussions. Instead of backing up her talk, she runs. This leads to major drama; this is why she can’t live indoors with another cat in the house. But she loves her patio and yard, she’s very territorial (she was living on our property before we bought it), and she enjoys her role as head of security chez nous. So we do what we can to keep her safe.

She’s a happy girl, overall.

 

Cita in the mesquite pods

Cita in the mesquite pods

 

She loves luxuriating in piles of mesquite pods!

And she enjoys napping on any of the six chairs arranged on the patio. We’ve made the patio her haven (which includes our attached laundry room, where she eats).

 

Cita on one of her many chairs

Cita on one of her many chairs

 

We’ve decorated her patio for Halloween:

 

Skeleton trellis

Skeleton trellis

 

Laundry room end of the patio

Laundry room end of the patio

 

BBQ end of the patio

BBQ end of the patio

 

(Cita does approve of the Halloween décor.)

We’ve been celebrating Halloween all month, including dressing up for the costume party at Drag Bingo. Flash-back to just last week:

 

Pulling out spines all night with Callaghan

Pulling out spines all night with Callaghan

 

As for what we’re planning for Halloween… we’ll be chilling. We’re opting out of Scarizona once again, but that’s okay. We were going to do an interactive game in the house (haunted house), but our schedules will preclude such shenanigans! The times, they are busy: Callaghan’s getting ready to embark on a journey, and I’m working on my main project and tackling a to-do list for the house. We have upcoming events, so there are Deadlines of various sorts. You know how it is!

Anyway… I’m happy to report that the fur-kids have been doing well.

T minus six days til the holiday! Happy Halloween in advance!

End of month writing updates!

Whoa. This week went fast. That’s what happens when you spend half of it anticipating the next episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke.

That aside, I’ve got another writing progress post for you today, in brief. Things are going well!

The current picture is, I now have:

–27% of the project done, if its length is going to end up in the neighborhood I’m thinking. Take that for what it’s worth, like I am; honestly, I don’t think I’ll know what the book’s length will be until I write the last word. I didn’t get ahead much this week in terms of word count, but I got a lot done in terms of the non-writing writing work.

–Scrivener in my toolbox, once again. Since my last update here, I’ve figured out how Scrivener can serve me, and it’s doing a bang-up job.

–Tobacco Cedar candle scent in my writing area, because it’s fall (single double-digit temps!), and a masculine fragrance redolent of cooler weather gets me into the right mood for this project.

–Russian music I gleaned from Soundcloud and collected onto a playlist. This is a continuing process that I’m enjoying quite a bit. Again, it’s strategic.

–New décor in my writing area, also to the end of setting me in the right head-space: a). a small painting of Jesus (Orthodox), which I dug out of a box in the back of a closet – an ex-girlfriend of Callaghan’s brought it back to him from Romania years ago, and b) my The Americans poster that Callaghan ordered for me a while back, which I’ve finally framed.

–Speaking of writing area, I’m still using the dining room. (Dining room? What dining room?)

 

Desk detail.

Desk detail.

 

The table at which we used to eat continues to hold my laptop and its paraphernalia, along with odds and ends that get me through the day, such as eye drops, lip balm, nail clippers, and toothpicks. Two glasses of water, one for me, and one for Nenette… because if there is a cat, she will end up on your desk and try to drink your water no matter what, so you might as well preemptively provide her with her own. Callaghan is being wonderfully understanding about all of this. I dare say he’s even digging it.

Thus, I’m taking creeping steps toward completion. I don’t foresee that I’ll feel the need to engage in this level of atmosphere construction when I undertake my next project. This current work happens to be a period piece, so the props are helpful.

That’s it for now. Happy Friday!

“Who saved who?” Nounours’ happy beginning! (Kitty updates.)

Nounours. Precious Nounours.

When we gave him up for adoption, our dream scenario for Nounours was that he’d go home with an older lady who lived alone and loved cats and wanted just one cat on whom she could lavish all of her love and attention, all day long.

“Everyone wants that for their cat,” said the adoption manager. “But unfortunately, that very rarely happens.” She imparted the reality gently, with careful kindness.

But six weeks later, our perfect dream for Nounours came true.

A group of donors visited the cattery, as groups of donors do, meeting and interacting with the cats. One of them emerged from Nounours’ room and remarked that he would be perfect for her mother-in-law, who lived alone and wanted a cat who would sit quietly on her lap. After just a short visit, it was clear that sitting quietly on a lap was Nounours’ area of expertise.

The mother-in-law came to visit Nounours. She went into his room and stayed for an hour. Then she came out and said that Nounours was The One. When she returned to complete the adoption process and take him home, they opened the kitty carrier, and he “strolled right in.”

Nounours had spent six weeks snuggling and purring his way into everyone’s hearts. He had been very popular at the cattery. He was a rock star, literally… because of his personality, looks, and ability to sit still, he’d been chosen to appear in the shelter’s 2017 calendar. The photographer loved him. All of the shelter workers and volunteers loved him. They were happy for him when he met his Mom and went home with her, but they were sad to see him go, too.

That is Nounours. He is an angel with healing gifts.  We knew that Nounours would be the one saving a life… and he did.

Nounours had several other adoption opportunities, but because of the shelter’s excellent vetting and matching-up process, he went home with exactly the right person for him. Nounours now has all the love, lap-time, and undivided attention he deserves. We are grateful beyond words.

 

Sweet Nounours.

Sweet Nounours.

 

…and we still love him and miss him so, so much.

As for updates chez nous, things have come full circle. Cita has returned to ruling her backyard, where she has the run of the land… and Nenette now has the run of the house.

We gave it a good shot, a solid shot, but all of our procedural efforts were to no avail. Cita is fearful and defensive and cannot cohabit peacefully with another cat. As always, our goal is for everyone to be happy, and her happy place is her (our) backyard. So we took her back to the vet for her booster shots and a flea & tick treatment. She’s now fully vaccinated, flea & tick’d, microchipped, and name/phone number tagged, and she’s back to rolling in the dirt, as happy as a clam. She truly loves to roll in the dirt.

 

Trend-setter!

Trend-setter!

 

But she does clean up nicely.

 

Cita: Methinks the bougainvillea pot is incomplete without me.

Cita: Methinks the bougainvillea pot is incomplete without me.

 

And this lawn.

And this lawn.

 

And this cinder block.

And this cinder block.

 

She rarely leaves her beloved backyard. It is her kingdom, and the patio we’ve begun to enclose in greenery is her house. She eats on the cloth-covered table, and for sleeping, she has her choice of four chairs, two barstools, and a cushioned seat. Her preferred bed of the moment is one of the barstools. It’s cool enough for her to go into her laundry room, now, too. We keep that door open for her.

So that is Cita.

And here’s the current state of Nenette:

 

Nenette's "Why aren't you playing with me" face.

Nenette’s “Why aren’t you playing with me” face.

 

Testing out the new rug under Mommy's "desk" (dining room table)

Testing out the new rug under Mommy’s “desk” (dining room table)

 

Mom! IS NOTHING SACRED?

Mom! IS NOTHING SACRED?

 

 

The end.

Nounours: Noon rising. (Kitty updates.)

It’s time for a kitty update, and I don’t know where to begin.

It’s been an emotionally turbulent summer.

We wanted to do everything right for our cats, and in the end, it was recommended that we allow our beloved Nounours to be an Only Cat in a household with no other cats.

But it’s not “in the end.” Because for him, it’s the beginning. It took weeks of gentle encouragement and sometimes bizarre twists and turns as we navigated our confusion to come to terms with this, and I’m still grieving his absence from our lives.

It started in June when I called a Feline Behaviorist to ask one question: “How can we get Cita to stop growling?” We thought there would be a straightforward answer to our straightforward question, but she asked more questions about each cat, which led her to focus on Nounours.

Her questioning took us back to the beginning. Nounours loved his Ronnie James (Wrah-Wrah). Wrah-Wrah had been ill the whole time we had them both, though we didn’t know it until he arrived at his last nine months as a cat.

What we mostly saw – and what we mostly remembered – was Nounours nurturing his brother during that time of advanced illness. We remembered the depth of his grief after Wrah-Wrah passed. We remembered his magical love that he continued to express by cuddling with Wrah-Wrah’s urn. Our hearts broke even more as we saw that Nounours’ heart was broken, too.

Nounours’ boundless love and caring for his brother crowded out other memories. We didn’t remember things like Nounours always trying to eat Wrah-Wrah’s food, and taking over playtime so Wrah-Wrah would be chased out of the game, and pushing Wrah-Wrah aside to make room for himself on our laps, even though there was more than enough love and food and playtime and lap-time to go around.

Our expert consultant explained that these things weren’t the little, petty things we thought they were. They were indicators that Nounours would be happiest in a house with no competition, and we should let him have that chance. She explained how we could enter him into the best no-kill shelter with the best adoption placement program in Arizona.

Both times I had this conversation with her, I sobbed, and both times (and in emails, too), she reminded me that none of this was about us, Callaghan and me. It was about Nounours, and what would be the right thing for him, rather than for ourselves. We had to leave ourselves and our own desires out of the equation.

So Nounours has embarked on a new journey. Sending him off was one of the most difficult things I’ve – we’ve – ever done. I have never done it before, and I never thought that I would.

I wrote my last kitty update post in the middle of July, and the next day, we put Nounours into the arms of a compassionate woman who assured us that he’ll be matched with the perfect family for him. We went to the vet first so we could deliver him with a complete copy of his medical records. We gave a monetary donation to the organization on his behalf. I asked if I could write Nounours’ blurb for his gallery profile, and they told me that I could. I was grateful to be able to do.

Nounours is staying in a new, state-of-the-art cattery, where he has a small room all to himself with a revolving door of volunteers and visitors who go in to lavish attention on him. We were very, very lucky to be able to secure this space for him. He is not in a cage. He is not on death row. He is not unloved or forgotten. But neither is he with us, and selfishly, I wish that that could be different.

Hindsight is the cruelest beast. If we could travel back through time, the one thing we would do differently is we wouldn’t have adopted Nenette. We adopted her for Nounours thinking that giving him another sibling to love would help to ease the pain of his loss. We made the wrong decision with the best intentions. Had we not adopted Nenette, Nounours would be the Only Cat he needed to be. We mistook his despondence for grief and loneliness, but it was just grief. We didn’t know then what we know now.

Unfortunately, life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure book where you can go back to change your decisions if you don’t like the ending you got. You can only go forward.

We always promised Nounours that we would make sure he’s happy and safe. I didn’t think that honoring that promise could ever mean giving him up for adoption. No matter how true it is when someone says, “You have to do what’s right for him,” or “You have to take yourself out of the equation… it’s not about you,” I still feel like we failed him.

We miss Nounours beyond words. We miss our big teddy bear who is such a formidable armful of cuddly love. But now it’s someone else’s turn to hug him, kiss him, and stroke his pink nose. We had our turn, and we have our memories, and we’re grateful.

We’re grateful to have had Nounours for the time that we had him, and we’re grateful for the beautiful facility that took him in. We’re grateful for the Feline Behaviorist whose compassionate wisdom, counsel, and encouragement helped us through this difficult realization and process. We’re grateful for the love and understanding of those of you who already know about this.

This might seem like a silly comparison, but it’s meaningful to me, since I’ll always only have furbabies: As an adopted person, I now have a renewed and stronger sense of empathy, appreciation, and respect for my mother who put me in a foster home when a social worker told her that it would be the best thing for me. I now have an inkling of how she must have felt. She relented to let me have a chance at a better life, and I am eternally grateful to her for having had the strength to allow for that.

I did not feel strong when we took Nounours to see him off. I fell apart.

No one but Callaghan and I can know what we all went through in the making of this heart-wrenching decision. No one can possibly know or understand the complexity of the situation, the extent of it or the history behind it. There’s much more to our story, and it’s too much to recount here.

All anyone can know and trust is that we did as advised to complete Nounours, and that it was tremendously hard, and that we did it with tremendous love.

We requested to have Nounours addressed by others as “Noon” because it’s less confusing and easier to pronounce. He can answer to it. We didn’t want the sight of his name to stymie visitors. But that’s neither here nor there. We were told that with his outgoing personality, Nounours will be adopted, no problem. Socially outgoing cats attract would-be cat parents much more readily than skittish cats who are fearful of humans. Nounours is a lover-boy who adores everybody, and he’s afraid of no one. These traits make him very adoptable.

We’ve also been assured that the adoption placement program’s protocols include the screening of potential cat parents. Nounours will start his new life in a healthy and stable environment; he will not be given indiscriminately to just anyone.

We will be notified when he’s adopted.

Finally, we’re comforted to know that Nounours’ new life will save someone else’s. Nounours is truly magical. His love and purrs have powerful healing properties. Some lucky person or people will hug him and kiss him and snuggle him and bury their face in his fur and come to know that power, and they will have it in their lives to cherish and be grateful for, as we were grateful. As we’ll always be grateful.

 

Nounours-Noon.

Nounours-Noon.

 

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!

It’s a feline wonderland. (Kitty updates!)

Wow, guys… particularly you kitty-update-loving guys… my apologies. It’s been exactly seven weeks since my last kitty update post. I’ve been slacking.

Not to point the finger at anyone in particular, but NOUNOURS. That big purring ball of affection manages to look the same in every picture, and I don’t have time to stalk him with the camera all day waiting for a fluke to happen so I can get a pic that’s different… and I can’t do a kitty update post without pics of him! I have been trying, though.

 

Nounours' eyes are bluer than yours.

Nounours’ eyes are bluer than yours.

 

[Sidenote: that hen hiding in the shadows in the back of the lower shelf? That’s a door-stop from France that I’d been trying to find. I only found it upon examination of this pic. Thank you, Nounours.]

One of Nounours’ favorite things is to snuggle up to articles of clothing the second they land on the bed.

 

Nounours snuggling Daddy's jeans, because that is how the Nounours do. (nod to zfrank1)

Nounours snuggling Daddy’s jeans, because that is how the Nounours do. (nod to zfrank1)

 

Then there’s Nenette…

 

Nenette chilling on my side of the bed... or, should I say, modeling.

Nenette chilling on my side of the bed… or, should I say, modeling.

 

And look at this. YOU try to tell her “no” and shoo her out of the linen closet!

 

Nenette likes to jump up into the linen closet when I'm putting clean towels away. This is her idea of "helping" Mommy with the laundry.

Nenette likes to jump up into the linen closet when I’m putting clean towels away. This is her idea of “helping” Mommy with the laundry.

 

She can’t even take a bad picture when she comes up and sticks her face in front of the camera.

 

Nenette in a split-second candid shot as she stretches her paw out to me.

Nenette in a split-second candid shot as she stretches her paw out to me.

 

One of Nenette’s new things is rounding up a few of her scattered toys and lining them up like toy soldiers. I kid you not:

 

Kitty toy soldiers.

Kitty toy soldiers.

 

Is it just us being proud kitty parents, or does everyone find this ridiculously cute?

Meanwhile in the backyard, Cita, our unofficially-ours kitty, has made herself more ours than ever. We’re besides ourselves about what to do at this point.

And so here, I guess, is her first real appearance in TALC:

 

Meet Cita!

Meet Cita!

 

I’ve been making it a point to spend time with her throughout the day, because she craves our company, of course… but not much arm-twisting goes into that. She is precious.

 

My attempt at a selfie with Cita. Awkward.

My attempt at a selfie with Cita. Awkward.

 

Cita has a small collection of toys, too. They’re cloth, stuffed, but they’re little stuffed shapes rather than stuffed animals. Several times a day, I go around the yard gathering them so I can group them together where she likes them (on the patio). The strawberry-shaped one is her favorite. It’s my favorite, as well… it’s red and easily detectable in the gravel. The donut-shaped one, though, is a different story. It’s brown and spotted and sometimes it’s a good while before I can find it. It would be so much faster if I had bionic eyes.

I took a picture one time when the donut finally materialized after I spent 10 minutes walking all over the backyard searching for it:

 

Found it!

Found it!

 

It’s like staring at one of those pictures you used to see in the malls in the 80’s, where you stare at the finely detailed recurring pattern until the 3D picture comes into view. Remember those? Your friends could always find the sailboat. You couldn’t.

 

The donut on closer inspection...

The donut on closer inspection…

 

I looked up those pictures; they’re called “autostereograms.”

 

and closer...

and closer…

 

THE DONUT.

THE DONUT.

 

Alright, folks… kitty update post out! Until next time, then.

 

What’s new in the Kittyverse? (Nounours and Nenette updates!)

Today, I come to you with a much-requested kitty update. By popular demand, here’s what’s new in the Kittyverse chez nous!

Nounours: Callaghan and I have noticed that when we text Nounours’ name, the auto-correct changes his name to “NonUsers.” Yes. Non-Users. This cracks us up because it’s so fitting… Nounours’ merits are sweetness, lovableness, huggableness, and companionableness. Smarts don’t figure into the equation of the Nounours, and the only real emotion we can ever see behind his big, blue eyes is jealousy. But that’s okay. He’s an armful of loudly purring teddy bear. He’s the teddy bear your five-year-old self always wanted to come to life.

Nounours’ superhero power: Shedding and teleporting his fur to far-off places for you to find when you least expect it. This is his way of making sure that you never forget him.

Nenette: In the spring weather we’ve been having, she’s been enjoying catching mosquitoes… those big, floofy male ones you see in the house from time to time. We can’t understand how she does it. The mosquito will be lightly bouncing along the wall high up by the ceiling, like they do; Nenette will be sitting patiently beneath it, and next thing we know, it’s in her mouth and she’s chomping away. She’s also extremely playful, despite being eight months older now. She actually makes up sophisticated games and teaches us how to play them.

Nenette’s superhero power: Solving complex differential equations and writing ground-breaking mathematical proofs in her sleep.

Together, Nounours and Nenette have reached a point in their relationship where they have four modes: Tolerating each other, glaring at each other, “playing” (Nounours and Nenette-speak for chasing each other around and clearly having no fun at all, and sometimes, every once in a very great while, actually reposing near each other for no apparent reason.

 

Nenette and Nounours, together in their pod. They even look like peas.

Nenette and Nounours, together in their pod. They even look like peas.

 

I’m sorry to say that in the weeks since my last kitty update, I’ve tried to snap good pics of Nounours, but it’s so difficult. He’s difficult to photograph. For one thing, he usually doesn’t stay put long enough for me to get a clear shot. But I thought this was cute:

 

Nounours holding my hand is pretty much the sweetest thing ever.

Nounours holding my hand is pretty much the sweetest thing ever.

 

Then there’s Nenette, who’s a natural in front of a camera and couldn’t take a bad picture if she tried.

 

Nenette reading Anne Sexton's letters up on the bookcase.

Nenette reading Anne Sexton’s letters up on the bookcase.

 

Nenette trying to keep me from going to work. (*winks at Aunty Carol*)

Nenette trying to keep me from going to work. (*winks at Aunty Carol*)

 

We bought this giant toy rat for Nounours, but he doesn’t know what to do with it except ignore it. Nenette, on the other hand, likes to pull it toward her to use as a pillow.

 

Nenette and her rat pillow.

Nenette and her rat pillow.

 

Nenette playing E.T. with some of her toys.

Nenette playing E.T. with some of her toys.

 

Nenette chewing her toes with great concentration.

Nenette chewing her toes with great concentration.

 

Nenette, the epitome of a girly-girl.

Nenette, the epitome of a girly-girl.

 

I truly wish I could get as many pics of Nounours. I’ll keep trying!

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.

Happy New Year from Nounours and Nenette! 2016 begins with a kitty update.

Nounours and Nenette unwittingly posed for some super adorable pics recently (says their totally unbiased Mom). Here they are… the last pics of the fur-kids of 2015!

Kitties enjoyed ALL of their Christmas.

Here’s Mr. Blue Eyes with the stockings… his was the red one, and the green one was Nenette’s:

 

Nounours with stockings.

Nounours with stockings.

 

I was so pleased to have captured this next pic… this is probably my all-time favorite pic of Nounours:

 

Nounours sniffing our tiny pinecone Christmas tree.

Nounours sniffing our tiny pinecone Christmas tree.

 

You may or may not have already seen this one of Nenette, but I thought I’d post it again here…

 

Nenette stationed at the presents, just in case.

Nenette stationed at the presents, just in case.

 

This girl, I’m telling you.

 

Nenette hugging her new mousie.

Nenette hugging her new mousie.

 

What do you even do with this much cute?

 

PET ME, I'M SOFT

PET ME, I’M SOFT

 

Nenette loved her first Christmas.

Nenette loved her first Christmas.

 

Nenette has been absolutely thriving since we got back from France. She’s more trusting and affectionate than ever. She’s a happy girl!

 

Content Nenette.

Content Nenette.

 

Happy New Year!

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.

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!

Halloween Merriment (and the unexpected adventures of Callaghan’s butt)

Happy Halloween Eve!

Callaghan and I have been celebrating Halloween all week, wanting to make up for the fact that we’ll be apart on the actual holiday. He left yesterday for a 12-day business trip in France (Normandy)… so yes, the week-long celebration was necessary. Priorities.

Actually, we’ve been in Halloween celebration mode all month.

I have no Halloween plans for tomorrow. At first I wanted to go to SCARIZONA Scaregrounds with a friend, but then I chickened out re-thought that plan because they promise to prey on “every possible phobia,” and there’s no way I’m risking the possibility of roaches (real or not). I’m thinking roachaphobia is common enough that Scarizona masterminds would use it in the creation of their haunted house “experiences.” I’m a risk-taker in some ways, but not in the roach way. NOPE. Not going.

Instead, kitties and I will enjoy a quiet, spooky Halloween together.

 

Bunny-butt Nenette and butterscotch Nounours checking out a jack-o'-lantern pumpkin.

Bunny-butt Nenette and butterscotch Nounours checking out a jack-o’-lantern pumpkin.

 

I’m looking at 12 days of quality bonding time with Nounours and Nenette. But fear not – I am planning on some crazy shenanigans for the duration. As they say, the cat will play while the Callaghan’s away.

Here’s some of what’s about to go down:

  • Reading (All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr)
  • Writing (I round-filed both of my neglected big projects, but this new one is actually a starting-over of one of the discarded ones.)
  • Watching Netflix (Yes, I’ve returned to Netflix. What can I say.)
  • Playing with furbabies (Nenette will learn that I can be just as fun as Daddy when it comes to playing.)
  • Taking the bus (to work – this is new) and walking (home from work). I still refuse to pay for parking at work when we live so close.
  • Eating simply. (For the next 12 days, I’m basically going to live on salad, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli, brown rice, quinoa, hummus, peanut butter, bread, and fruit. Because these are foods I love, I’m lazy about cooking, and I don’t want to spend time thinking about it.)
  • Getting my hair cut. (YAY new hair, plus I get to see my girl Melanie!)

And, so as to not make too much of a ruckus up in here:

  • Updating/cleaning up some of this blog’s details, i.e. the About page, stuff in the sidebar, some of the links and tags and categories, etc., etc. Long overdue.

It’s not an exhaustive list, but it captures the main agenda. You get the idea. It doesn’t take much to amuse me.

Case in point: I was too easily amused by this exchange with Callaghan yesterday morning when he was at the airport, texting to tell me about his pre-boarding adventures.

You know how a text conversation can get off-sync when you receive a message while you’re texting, so after you send the one you were writing, you immediately answer the new one that came in, and the messages accumulate out of order because the timing got messed up, plus you were talking about two different things at once, so now your phone displays a merging of replies on different subjects, and it either doesn’t make sense at all, or it just looks wrong?

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Callaghan-AirportScreenShot

 

This is what happens when you’re texting about airport security procedures and breakfast at the same time. It’s all fun and games until someone gets a scone up his butt. Of course, it had to be Callaghan.

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.