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.

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Callaghan and Ronnie James, bonding (instagram series)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Callaghan and Ronnie James, bonding”:

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

And here are the two extras:

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

What I’m Digging Right Now – April Favorites

Today is the second of May, and this is my first post of the month, so that brings us to – already – April Favorites!

I was hard-pressed to think of new “little things” from April that I didn’t already love in March. The Body Combat class at the gym, for instance, has been my Number One Favorite Thing of Probably the Whole Year So Far, but I already talked about that in March. I could add that I’ve been enjoying the Boot Camp class, as well, but not to the same degree. There are only eight things on this list… but they were things that I really loved, and still love.

So let’s dig in, hmm?

1). Mad Men, season seven (T.V.)

 

mad-men-5

 

It’s back! It’s back with its fabulous ‘60’s-‘70’s hair and make-up, interiors and furniture, costumes and cultural ambience, and its thoroughness in capturing every detail of the era in every scene. The writing. The acting! Mad Men is a sharp and exquisitely rendered period piece that’s just a pleasure to behold. But oh, that Don. Don, Don, Don. What is going to happen to Don? Things are supposed to be groovy for everyone, but they’re just not… so far, anyway.

I was happy to hear that they cut this final season into two parts, as they did with Breaking Bad, because I don’t want it to end.

 

2). Bob’s Burgers, season three (T.V.)

 

Bob’s-Burgers-Season-3-500x500

 

The first two seasons of this show brought enough amusement and sporadic laughter to keep us watching. Plus, we enjoyed the characters and found their predicaments to be interesting, in general. HOWEVER, season three? Season three turned out to be one long moment of outright hilarity. It’s like the writers said, Fine! This time we’re going to let it all hang out! I mean, some of the situations are beyond bizarre and just out there, and any attempt at restraining the off-color humor went out the window. There’s nothing subtle about season three, and there’s no longer any use in pretending that Bob’s Burgers is a kids’ show just because it’s a cartoon.

I think a part of it is that Tina hit puberty.

 

3). Ice water with lemon/club soda with lime

 

Club soda with lime. I crave it!

Club soda with lime. I crave it!

 

This one might seem strange for a “favorites” list, but lately, I can’t get enough icy-cold water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and club soda with ice and a wedge of lime when we go out at night. Now that I’ve gotten back into the swing of my life here and returned to my former habits, other beverages hold no interest. Nothing is more refreshing to me, and I’m glad, because icy citrus water is super healthy and costs very little. In fact, when we go out, it’s usually free. I don’t think I’ve ever been charged for water in Arizona, and bartenders almost always give me the club soda gratis because it’s assumed that I’m the Designated Driver. That’s been my experience, anyway.

 

4). Oysterband’s Diamonds on the Water

 

 

I discovered this new Oysterband release on Spotify literally the day after a new friend asked me what musicians/bands I’m currently enjoying! Diamonds on the Water has been my music of choice since then. I especially love “A River Runs,” “Palace of Memory,” “Spirit of Dust” and “No Ordinary Girl.” Good English folk sounds going on here. Love it!

 

5). A t-shirt from Nice, a gift from a friend visiting from France.

 

Sparkly Nice t-shirt from Chantal!

Sparkly Nice t-shirt from Chantal!

 

Of course, the average non-French person looking at this shirt (with nothing on it to indicate a geographical point of reference) is just going to see the English adjective “nice” spelled out across my chest. Nice! Haha! But I love it, anyway. It’s black. It sparkles. It matches my black Paris baseball cap with its blingy red heart and my beloved sparkly Eiffel Tower. Don’t worry… I wouldn’t wear the two at the same time.

 

6). Ezekiel 4:9 bread

 

Ezekiel 4:9. Best. Toast. Ever.

Ezekiel 4:9. Best. Toast. Ever.

 

Here’s an old favorite! Once I get started on this bread, I never want any other kind, especially since Ezekiel 4:9 makes the most wonderful, crunchy toast that is amazing with Earth Balance. This bread is named for the bible verse that reads: “Take also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils and millet, and spelt and put them in one vessel…” (Ezekiel 4:9) And that turned out to be a pretty good recipe, in my opinion.

 

7). Physician’s Formula Magic Mosaic Multi-Colored Custom Bronzer (in Light)

 

What's this? A bronzer I actually really like! (by Physician's Formula)

What’s this? A bronzer I actually really like! (by Physician’s Formula)

 

Here’s my cosmetic pick for the month. I used to shy away from bronzers, but I started using this one recently just to brighten things up a bit… and I actually like it a lot! The range of bronze shades in the compact makes it versatile, and it’s just a really pretty way to add a touch of a glow to your skin (without too much shimmer).

 

8). Afternoon green tea

 

Trader Joe's Organic Green Tea

Trader Joe’s Organic Green Tea

 

I find Trader Joe’s Organic Green Tea to be a dependable pick as far as green teas go, but frankly, any green tea would do it for me these days. Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon.

One of life’s pleasant little routines. =)

Happy Friday, Everyone!

What I’m Digging Right Now – March Favorites

It’s the first day of April! It’s time to show you some of the things I loved last month. There was an abundance of “little things” treasures in March, but I chose nine for this list.

Without further ado:

(ahem)

1). A new phone, which means a new camera… and it’s an Android, which means Instagram. Yes! I’d thought I’d forever avoid Instagram, but I actually really dig it now that I have it. I haven’t been that active on it yet, but I will be.

 

Thing 1: That picture in the middle of my Instagram collage is Callaghan's portrait of my parents, and it's my favorite work of his. Thing 2: Yes, I took this photo at 11:00PM, and yes, it's 82 degrees outside.

Thing 1: That picture in the middle of my Instagram collage is Callaghan’s portrait of my parents, and it’s my favorite work of his. Thing 2: Yes, I took this photo at 11:00PM, and yes, it’s 82 degrees outside.

 

The reason for the new phone was the fact that my camera died at the end of February. I needed a camera, and Callaghan and I both needed phones, and Verizon was offering a Buy One Get One Free deal on Samsung Galaxy S4s, and I had additional perks due to my “loyalty status” from my former years with Verizon… so it just made sense. Now I have a camera. It’s good enough for what I like to do with a camera, which is point and click.

 

2). Flowering cactuses!

 

Complete with a Southwest Airlines plane in the background, equally colorful. In fact, they match! haha

Complete with a Southwest Airlines plane in the background, equally colorful. In fact, they match! haha

 

Here are some of the emerging blooms closer to the ground.

Here are some of the emerging blooms closer to the ground.

 

IT HAS BEGUN. Between now and mid-June, the desert flora will display its myriad of flowers – the different species bloom at different times. Many pictures will be taken. How I’ve missed spring here! Our two visitors from France (one is coming in April, the other in May) are in for a treat.

 

3). New glasses.

 

New glasses. Not BCGs.

New glasses. Not BCGs.

 

These are not the ones I got from the V.A. in Austin. Those turned out to be a disaster in every way, starting with an inaccurate prescription and ending with that wrong prescription being put in the wrong frames that didn’t fit. Long story short, I couldn’t wear them. This is why mall optometrists exist. I walked in, made my appointment for the next day, went back for the appointment, and walked out with this new pair of glasses that seem to be perfect. Instant gratification glasses! I mostly just wear them for driving and watching T.V. and movies.

 

4). Body Combat class at the gym.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-BodyCombat

 

Over the last few months, I’ve had to face the fact that I’m just not as self-motivated at the gym as I used to be. Add to this the fact that when I join a group training situation that carries even the slightest semblance to martial/fighting arts, I feel as at-home as a bat in a cave… my so-called muscle memory knows what to do, and how to do it… and voilà! Body Combat is an ideal group fitness class for me. The instructor’s mission in life for that hour is to kick our butts. I don’t have to do anything but show up and follow along.

The Body Combat classes incorporate techniques from boxing, Muay Thai, capoeria, karate and MMA, all of which my muscles know and enjoy, even though they haven’t trained in years. The fast-paced classes focus on cardio rather than on form, but I’m loathe to execute the moves sloppily, so I end up getting a fantastic workout as I concentrate on form while trying to keep up (to the extent that my out-of-shape self can safely do. I’m careful to not exceed my limitations). We leave the class completely elated, worn out and drenched in sweat. I love it so much I can’t even tell you.

 

5). True Detective, season one (T.V.)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-TrueDetective

 

Simply stated, this new series right here rather blew our minds. That is all.

 

6). Hannibal, season two (T.V.)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-FavThingsMAR2014-HannibalS2

 

As The Following continues to hold our eager attention, we’ve added Hannibal to our current series line-up, as the second season began on the last day of February – meaning, we picked it up at the beginning of March. It’s just as darkly sick and warped and luscious and richly textured as season one. What is this fascination with serial killers? Hannibal is so beautifully done. It’s mesmerizing.

 

7). Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof eyeliner in Stingray.

 

Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner in Stingray

Stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner in Stingray

 

Finally, I’ve found a retractable black eyeliner pencil capable of drawing a line that stays where you put it! I’d thought I’d also be able to appreciate it for its status as a cruelty-free product, but when I got home and got online, I found that Stila Cosmetics has been struck from the list of cruelty-free cosmetic companies. The reason? “3rd party animal testing.” *sighs*

 

8). Tourni, our new sunflower.

 

Here's Tourni! It's hard to see him in this picture. He's the slender, yellowish stalk with two little leaves on top, rising up from the center of the pot.

Here’s Tourni! It’s hard to see him in this picture. He’s the slender, yellowish stalk with two little leaves on top, rising up from the center of the pot.

 

I met a new friend for lunch one day in March, and she surprised me with a thin, pale greenish-yellow stalk from her garden. Loosely wrapped, it appeared to be quite frail. She told me that it was a sunflower. Un Tournesol, I thought immediately. His name is Tourni! “Tournesol” is French for sunflower.

I left the restaurant with little Tourni hanging limply over the side of a plastic water cup, his vestige of a root-ball submerged in two or three inches of water. I pondered what to do with him. He looked so fragile. Our balcony is completely shaded; we have no real direct sunlight in which to grow a sunflower.

By the end of the day, Tourni was looking pretty lifeless and pathetic. Unsure of what to do, I left him in the drink holder in our truck for the night while I figured it out.

At the end of the next day, we went to retrieve Tourni from the truck, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. The scant amount of dirt in the cup had absorbed all of the water, and there was little Tourni, upright, happy and spry! He looked like a completely different plant.

 

Alive and proud! I should have taken a "before" picture!

Alive and proud! I should have taken a “before” picture!

 

We brought him in and put him in a pot with some potting soil, both of which we happened to have on hand. He loves the close heat of the truck, so we set him in there during the day. At night, we bring him up to sit on our balcony with the other plants in our growing (ha!) collection.

 

9). Oil-pulling

 

Unrefined, organic coconut oil - the remaining two jars of the three my parents sent home with us at the beginning of March.

Unrefined, organic coconut oil – the remaining two jars of the three my parents sent home with us at the beginning of March.

 

At some point over the winter, an enormous can of unrefined, organic coconut oil appeared in Mom and Dad’s kitchen in California. Dad stirs a teaspoon of it into his coffee every morning. I noticed it when we were there at the beginning of March, and I was intrigued… I’d been reading about the Ayurvedic practice of oil-pulling, and contemplating starting it.

The morning we left, Mom and Dad generously tucked three jars of the oil into our luggage. Dad started oil-pulling that morning, Callaghan started that night after we got back to Arizona, and I started the following morning.

It’s now been three weeks, and so far, I’ve noticed the following two effects: 1). I haven’t had a problem with insomnia since, and 2). my teeth, while never horribly discolored, are indeed much whiter now; many people who do this practice report whiter teeth as a result.

The whiter teeth thing is great, but the sleeping thing? Incredible!

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but what an odd coincidence it is. From Day One of swishing coconut oil around in my mouth for twenty minutes as a part of my morning routine, I’ve been able to drop off to sleep effortlessly. This is unheard of, and it’s been consistent. The only thing I’ve been doing differently is the oil-pulling, so I’m thinking there’s a reasonable chance that there’s a connection.

Whatever the case, I’m going to keep doing it. It’s relaxing, and the whiter teeth are definitely a bonus!

On Callaghan’s part, he says that the quality of his sleep has improved greatly, and his teeth are definitely whiter now.

Okay… that’s it for March favorites! Here’s to spring. =)

On Cameras, Instagram and Mardi Gras

Late last week, my camera departed for the great camera boneyard in the sky. Alas, my humble little Canon powershot is no more. (Cue the violins.)

It wasn’t old so much as pointed-and-clicked to death… I think it was sheer overuse that did it, and maybe the fact that I didn’t exactly keep it swaddled in bubble wrap every second of its life. I got it in 2011 right before we left the States; it did the rounds with me all over France and Berlin, Germany and Casablanca, Morocco. Then it photo-documented our five-month adventure in Texas before we came back to Arizona. I always had it with me.

Its demise on Friday morning happened quickly and without warning, and I had to do something fast, right? Because being without a camera is just weird in a not-good way. I was going to spend the weekend taking pictures of things for my February Favorites post, which obviously didn’t happen!

In the end, instead of getting a new camera, I decided to get a phone featuring a decent camera. This means three things:

–I no longer have to carry around a camera and a phone.

–I finally have instagram.

–Because of instagram, I predict that I’ll be taking more pictures than ever.

But before all that insanity begins – before I can start inundating my instagram with gratuitous selfies and pictures of what I’m wearing and the food I’m eating and the interesting people in Walmart and Arizona sunset after Arizona sunset and whatever other clichéd subjects you can think of – I need some time to acquaint myself with both my new camera and instagram, itself.

All of this to say that while my February Favorites post is going to be late, I do have an image to share with you today! I first saw this when it jumped out and tried to kill me as I scrolled through my blogroll last week (I’m looking at you, Junk Food Guy).

 

BECAUSE TODAY IS MARDI GRAS.

BECAUSE TODAY IS MARDI GRAS.

 

Yes, that would be a gigantic plastic baby whose bib reads I HEART KING CAKE.

This is nightmare fuel. Pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel on a basketball court.

You might recall that during Mardi Gras season last year, I wrote about the Mardi Gras king cakes here in the States and the French version (the Galette des Rois), and I mentioned the little plastic baby tucked inside that bestows royal status upon the person who finds it in their slice? Well, what you see in the image above is the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team’s nod to Mardi Gras, bringing that little plastic baby to life on their basketball court as a seasonal mascot to honor the occasion. I, for one, find this horrifying life-size plastic baby (Jesus?) to be one of the most awesome mascots to ever grace a basketball court. Good job, Pelicans!

On that note, I must run off now. Here’s a link to my fledgling instagram page for those who wish to follow: www.instagram.com/thatasianlookingchick

Happy Mardi Gras!