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.

“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!

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.

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!

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.

Nounours had dental work.

Three weeks ago, the fur-kids went to the vet for check-ups and vaccinations, and two things came of it: Nounours had to have dental work, and he had to go on a diet. We’d known he needed to lose a few pounds, so that part wasn’t a surprise. We’d suspected that he was due for a teeth-cleaning, so that wasn’t much of a surprise, either. We were fully surprised, though, to learn that he needed to have at least one tooth extracted. Pauvre Nounours!

We got home and entered the house with Nenette thrilled that we brought her back with us (she has residual abandonment issues, poor little thing), Nounours happily unaware that he was scheduled for major dental work in the next few days, and Callaghan and I feeling like the most terrible, negligent cat parents in the world. How could we not have known that he had a mangled tooth rotting in his mouth? He must have been in pain or at least uncomfortable for a while, and we could have helped him a lot sooner. But we finally took him in, and he had his dental work. The doctor ended up having to extract two teeth, but the operation went well, and the rest of his teeth “cleaned up beautifully.”

Nounours had dental work, and he’s on a diet.

 

Dieting Nounours minus two teeth.

Dieting Nounours minus two teeth.

 

Nounours had dental work, and the cops are always at the downtown Tempe CVS.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-CVSdowntownTempe

 

Nounours had dental work, and he and Nenette will now occupy the kitty chairs at the same time in tacit acceptance of each other’s presence.

 

Mine. Yours. ~Nenette Whatever. I'm sleeping. ~Nounours

Mine. Yours. ~Nenette
Whatever. I’m sleeping. ~Nounours

 

Nounours had dental work, and by 5:30pm last Friday, a stack of fake IDs had already been confiscated at the place where we met with work friends.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-confiscatedIDs

That’s a lot of fake IDs so early in the evening.

 

Nounours had dental work, and there are parrots in the trees on campus.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-CampusParrots

He almost blends in!

 

Nounours had dental work, and Mommy got new reading glasses from Fry’s Electronics, of all places.

 

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-newglasses

 

Nounours had dental work, and now he bears some resemblance to the Dos Equis Guy.

 

thatasianlookingchick-Not-UnlikeDosXX

 

Same attitude. Same eyebrows. Same bottle of Dos Equis.

Happy Friday, All!

Hello, I am a CNTJ.

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

“What?”

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

“A bear.”

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

“No.”

“A mama bear.”

“No.” Although I am.

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

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

Callaghan paused, then snorted with laughter.

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

Yes, it is.

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

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

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

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

 

Catroversion with Nenette

Catroversion with Nenette

 

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

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

 

Catroversion with Nounours

Catroversion with Nounours

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what are some things we should know about catroverts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updates to come!

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

Here are a few pics:

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Nounours, the blue-eyed photobomb master!

Nounours, the blue-eyed photobomb master!

 

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

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

 

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

 

Nenette discovered that she loves playing with this black string.

Nenette discovered that she loves playing with this black string.

 

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

Happy Friday, All!

Callaghan vs. Nounours

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

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

Callaghan – 0; Nounours – 732.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theory blown.

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

He loves us both, but Callaghan is his favorite.

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

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

“But why…”

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

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

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

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

I have photographic evidence of this, of course.

Before:

 

Pre-Callaghan Nounours, smooth and neat.

Pre-Callaghan Nounours, smooth and neat.

 

After:

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to Do If Your Cat Keeps You Awake at Night   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nounours and Callaghan, August 5, 2015

Nounours and Callaghan, August 5, 2015

 

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

 

Nenette gets sassier every day!

Nenette gets sassier every day!

 

Happy Friday, All!

The (feline) state of affairs chez nous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

This is still a common sight.

This is still a common sight.

 

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

 

Stretched out where Wrah-Wrah used to rest.

Stretched out where Wrah-Wrah used to rest.

 

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

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

 

Nounours snuggling with Wrah-Wrah's cushion.

Nounours snuggling with Wrah-Wrah’s cushion.

 

Poor Nounours.

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

On her part, Nenette did the following this week:

She read some books…

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

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

 

…she played. A lot.

 

Not tired yet, Mommy!

Not tired yet, Mommy!

 

She discovered catnip…

 

What's this?

What’s this?

 

…and hugged her toys…

 

Mine! All mine!

Mine! All mine!

 

…tentatively kept company with her brother…

 

Nounours and Nenette hanging out in my office.

Nounours and Nenette hanging out in my office.

 

…and introduced herself to houseplants Jerome and Barclay.

 

Nenette getting up close and personal with Barclay the plant.

Nenette getting up close and personal with Barclay the plant.

 

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

Fearless Nenette will save us all.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Nenette demonstrating her watching skills.

Nenette demonstrating her watching skills.

 

Except when sleep overtakes her.

 

Because guard duty is tiring.

Because guard duty is tiring.

 

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

It started like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few more pics from the week:

 

Abyssianian/Manx-mix Nenette, sitting like a statue

Abyssianian/Manx-mix Nenette, sitting like a statue

 

"Don't go!!" ~Nenette

“Don’t go!!” ~Nenette

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

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

 

Le Nounours (The teddy bear!)

Le Nounours (The teddy bear!)

 

Cleaning the hand, Nounours-style.

Cleaning the hand, Nounours-style.

 

Nounours snuggling with his Daddy in the morning.

Nounours snuggling with his Daddy in the morning.

 

And here’s one for size comparison:

 

Nounours and Nenette in the early morning haze.

Nounours and Nenette in the early morning haze.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Manx-mix Nenette and her little tailless butt.

Manx-mix Nenette and her little tailless butt.

 

This darling girl! I’m telling you.

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

 

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

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

 

And this:

 

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

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

 

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

Nenette – Nounours’ 4th of July kitty

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

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

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

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

Things happened quickly from there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We went back.

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

 

She already knows her new name.

She already knows her new name.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Her shy expressions remind me so much of Princess Diana!

Her shy expressions remind me so much of Princess Diana!

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Nounours still missing his Wrah-Wrah dearly.

Nounours still missing his Wrah-Wrah dearly.

 

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

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

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

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

 

Nounours with Ronnie James, one month later.

Nounours with Ronnie James, one month later.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Happy Friday, All.

Phenomenon: Nounours with his beloved Wrah-Wrah.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Nounours took such good care of his  brother.

Nounours took such good care of his brother.

 

Nounours always nurtured Ronnie James.

Nounours always nurtured Ronnie James.

 

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

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

However….

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

We couldn’t believe it.

 

Watching this, our hearts broke all over again.

Watching this, our hearts broke all over again.

 

Rubbing his face on the urn...

Rubbing his face on the urn…

 

Flipping it over...

Flipping it over…

 

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

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

 

Callaghan and I were floored, to say the least.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

He misses his Wrah-Wrah so much.

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

 

Poor Nounours.

Poor Nounours.

 

He looks so sad.

He looks so sad.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Last night marked one week since Ronnie James’ death.

Ronnie James’ complicated case.

Ronnie James did not come home yesterday, as planned. He’s still in the hospital.

 

Ronnie James recovering in the oxygen chamber the evening of his surgery. (Thoracic duct ligation and pericardectomy)

Ronnie James recovering in the oxygen chamber the evening of his surgery.
(Thoracic duct ligation and pericardectomy)

 

His surgery went well, and he did well, like last time. Dr. M. said that once again, he came through it “like a champion”! The chylothorax seems to be resolved – there’s no more chyle leaking where it doesn’t belong. The Wrah-Wrah is happy and alert, loving all the cuddles and pets he’s getting. He’s eating with good appetite. His disposition and attitude are fantastic!

So what’s the problem?

His chest cavity just keeps filling up with fluid.

As I said, it’s not chyle. Rather, we’re looking at some sort of nondescript, inflammatory-ish fluid, and at this point, no one can say with certainty what it’s all about. A little bit of such fluid could be normal following a surgery. It could be caused by the chest tube, itself, even. But the amount of fluid we’re talking about here is well out of range. Ronnie James’ case is a complicated one, and it’s tough. We’re still battling the ripple effect of his contact with that venomous Pine Processionary caterpillar.

This current iteration of pleural effusion could be a fluke, as in, maybe a “pocket” of fluid resulting from the surgery just released all at once over the night (that was Wednesday night). Or, it could be something scarier, such as his pleura lingering in a self-perpetuating cycle of emitting fluid. Whatever the case, we can’t bring him home until the pleural effusion stops, since his chest tube needs to stay in place in order to drain the excessive fluids.

On his part, Ronnie James is totally oblivious to the danger he’s in, as he’s been busy in pursuit of Dr. M.’s heart (which he successfully captured, might I add). During morning rounds yesterday, Dr. M. found himself engaged in a Wrah-Wrah love fest. The Wrah-Wrah had been rolling around, asking for belly rubs, until he ended up on his back in Dr. M.’s arms, purring furiously as he got his belly rubs with two hands.

“Isn’t he cute?!” I asked Dr. M. when he told me about this.

“Oh, he’s adorable!” he answered the same second the question was out of my mouth. Exact words. Then, later, he said, “He HAS stolen my heart!”

Dr. M. has been Wrah-Wrahed. It happens.

Several other doctors and some of the technicians and staff have also fallen in love with the little guy. This is what the Wrah-Wrah does best, just being himself… his affectionate, smart, happy, interactive, funny, sweet, sweet self. Everyone who spends any time with him at all loves him!

Because Ronnie James’ two-part modus operandi in life is:

  1. Find all the hearts.
  2. Stealz them.

 

Ronnie James the day after surgery, off oxygen and resting in a kennel in the ICU.

Ronnie James the day after surgery, off oxygen and resting in a kennel in the ICU.

 

As I write this, we don’t know what today will bring. I’m going to work, as usual. But will Ronnie James come home tonight? We can’t say. We don’t know. We hope so. We miss him, and so does his Nounours.

 

Poor Nounours! He misses his brother.

Poor Nounours! He misses his brother.

 

I’ll keep you posted. Thank you for reading, and for keeping Ronnie James in your thoughts and prayers.

Happy Friday, All! =)

What I’m Digging Right Now – April Favorites

Some levity is in order around here, right? Conveniently, it’s May now, so I can rave about some of the Little Things that helped to make April enjoyable!

For one thing, we saw a phenomenal movie…

 

1). Ex Machina (film)

 

The movie poster in the theatre lobby....

The movie poster in the theatre lobby….

 

You know I love a good, well-crafted sci-fi thriller, and it’s been a while. I was just barely coasting along on the spectacular fumes of Pacific Rim when we walked into Ex Machina. I was almost skeptical going into it, but I knew that Luc Besson had nothing to do with this one, so I had high hopes that it wasn’t going to be another disappointment like last summer’s Lucy. We used the movie pass that Callaghan had gotten as a gift (thank you, friend!) and found ourselves stunned and in awe as Ex Machina dimmed the lights on its eerie, final scene. Certainly, the combination of elements made this film superb, but overall, I think it was the restraint used in its making that made it brilliant.

 

2). Mad Men (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-madmenS7

 

We’re having the same experience as most everyone who watches this series, I think: Mad Men’s last set of final season episodes isn’t striking us as being as purposeful as those in previous seasons. Whatever. Mad Men is back, and we’re loving it. The set! The hair, makeup, wardrobe! Mad Men is still my favorite period piece in television, and they’re killing it more than ever now that they’ve taken up solid residence in the 70’s. I almost don’t even care what happens at this point; I’m just there for the eye candy.

 

3). American Crime (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-AmericanCrime2015

 

Here’s a powerful new series that got right down to business and grabbed us by our throats. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s almost too ugly and depressing to watch… but it’s smashing.

 

4). Nurse Jackie (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-NurseJackie

 

We’re late arrivals on the Nurse Jackie train, but like the critic said, “You just want to keep on watching.” Yep. We plowed through the first three seasons in such a short period of time, I’d be embarrassed to say how long if I could remember when, exactly, we started watching it. We just started season four, I can tell you that much! The hilarious short (half-hour) episodes make this dark dramedy especially easy to binge-watch. It goes well with popcorn, too.

 

5). It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Plus Keratin.

 

It's a 10 Miracle Leave-in Plus Keratin.

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Plus Keratin.

 

This is an old favorite! Since we’ve now got ourselves on a strict budget because of Ronnie James’ medical costs, I went digging around in places where I store things I haven’t used in a while, and I happily re-discovered It’s a 10. And guess what? This brand meets my recently established criteria for beauty products! Because of expenses, I’d been procrastinating on the hair care part of my 2015 New Year’s resolution to go cruelty-free with cosmetics and such, so I was pleased to find that I’d stashed away this pricier gem of a hair care item that just so happens to have not been tested on animals.

Shopping my home supply for forgotten favorites is the best.

 

6). Madagascan Vanilla Flower perfume oil (The Body Shop).

 

Madagascan Vanilla Flower perfume oil from The Body Shop.

Madagascan Vanilla Flower perfume oil from The Body Shop.

 

My search for a gorgeous cruelty-free fragrance finally led me to The Body Shop and its array of perfume oils. Back in the 90’s, I’d used the one called “Ananya,” which was finally, recently discontinued. I still have a little bit left in my last old bottle, but it’s been a while, and it’s not what it was when I’d purchased it… its potency has faded, and the scent is slightly off. So I went back to The Body Shop and happened upon their Madagascan Vanilla Flower, and I am in love. I’m not usually drawn to vanilla scents, but this one is different… it’s a deeper, more exotic vanilla with its warm, ambery-floral heart.

 

7). Earrings from Target.

 

Current favorite earrings - sparkly cluster studs from Target.

Current favorite earrings – sparkly cluster studs from Target.

 

This was just one of those silly impulse Target purchases, you know, when you run in to get some almond milk and you come out with three bags full of random crap. I’m proud to say that I’ve stopped with all of that this last month – somehow, and I know that many of you can appreciate the self-control I’m having to employ in this effort, haha! – but not before I found these earrings on clearance (back in March, I believe). Over the last month they’ve become my favorite uniform earrings to wear to work on days I don’t go to the gym. They’re just round studs made of little sparkly clusters. I think they’re perfect.

 

8). Arizona Yellow Bells.

 

Fragrant Arizona Yellow Bells on my desk at home.

Fragrant Arizona Yellow Bells on my desk at home.

 

Our Arizona Yellow Bells are all in bloom, and they are splendiferous! Callaghan surprised me with a vase full of them on my desk one day, where they perfumed my entire office with their rich, sweet fragrance. Arizona Yellow Bells are native to our desert, but I never experienced them until we moved into this house. There are two robust Arizona Yellow Bells bushes in our backyard, and they attract many a hummingbird, which we also adore.

While I’m at it, what would an Arizona spring flora favorite entry be without a shot of my favorite cactus blooms?

 

Spring in the desert is my favorite!

Spring in the desert is my favorite!

 

 

9). Rositas’ salsa.

 

Salsa from Rosita's.

Salsa from Rosita’s.

 

I have several favorite restaurant salsas around here, and this is one of them. Yesterday, I decided to pick some up on my walk home from work, and we had it for dinner. I love salsas that aren’t sweet, and this one is satisfyingly tangy and bold on the cilantro and onion… just the way I like it!

 

10). April Favorite pick for Ronnie James and Nounours: Bench & Field Holistic Natural Feline Treats (at Trader Joes’).

 

Bench and Field Holistic Natural Feline Treats.

Bench and Field Holistic Natural Feline Treats.

 

Kitties’ Auntie M. gave them these treats for Christmas, and the little guys went nuts for them. The day we ran out was a woeful one, indeed. What’s more, we couldn’t find the treats anywhere, and Ronnie James and Nounours wouldn’t eat any other kind. Catastrophe. Finally, we asked a sales person at PetSmart. They didn’t have the treats there, but she looked up them up and told us that they could be found at Trader Joe’s. Yes! We went to get them, and happiness has been restored.

“With added vitamins and minerals,” it says. “OMEGA 6:3 Enriched” and “with Menhaden Oil,” it says. Ronnie James and Nounours just say, “MOOR PLEEEZZZ!!!!”

The thing is, while we were medicating the Wrah-Wrah to heck and back, these treats were the only consolation prize we could offer him. They got us all through and ended the sessions on a happy note.

 

That about wraps it up for this favorites list – Happy Friday, All! =)

Long-Overdue Yoga Fix Ahead!

Since we’re still on Christmas break at my work, I’m seizing the opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. My schedule is pretty well packed during normal life hours, so this is what’s happening this non-normal morning: I’m going to spend 90 minutes twisting my non-flexible self into the various poses prescribed by Bikram, I’m assuming, in a room designed to accommodate the activity (heated to a high enough degree to assist your body with said positions).

This will be my first yoga class in almost 10 years, and I’m looking forward to it. I have a brand-new yoga mat that I purchased last year with earnest intentions, but have yet to use. The day has arrived!

I’m pretty sure my body’s going to hate me within 24 hours of this Bikram yoga class, and it will probably start plotting its revenge faster than you can say “shavasana.” I’m expecting it, hence my plan to pick up some Epsom salts on my way home. I already have the essential oils I’m going to add to the hot bath I’ll take tonight. I just want to be able to give 100% in Body Combat class tomorrow morning, and being able to walk without soreness would help with that. I’m counting on this yoga class to make me feel muscles I’d forgotten I had. Bring it.

Although… here’s a little secret… in the past, I’ve powered through Body Combat class while in pain. I’ve literally hobbled through the parking lot thinking what the hell am I doing, then getting to class and forgetting all about it, feeling nothing but the awesomeness. The secret is adrenaline. Adrenaline is what drives me through Body Combat because mentally I flip into training mode, which my brain is hard-wired to link to my “fight or flight” response. This is the up-side of PTSD. It’s a great natural painkiller. (Yes, I know Body Combat is a cardio class, but as far as I’m concerned, if I’m kicking and throwing punches, I’m training… so I know I’ll be able to get through the class tomorrow, regardless.)

I’m still picking up Epsom salts for a hot bath later. My muscles, tendons and ligaments will deserve it! Plus, I’ll enjoy it. Yeah. I don’t need an excuse!

10 years is a long time, though; I feel like I might as well have never done yoga at all. I remember that my first yoga class ever was at Arizona Combat Sports back in 2002… there was an advanced student there on the Brazilian Ju-Jitsu side who was also an advanced yoga practitioner and instructor. They added a Saturday morning yoga class to the schedule with him teaching it, so I figured I’d try it for a few sessions. I thought it balanced out my Muay Thai training well, so I was inspired to try yoga at other places. I enjoyed it, though I never felt like a “natural” in any yoga studio. For one thing, as I said, I’ve never been particularly flexible.

Random: My favorite long-term effect from yoga is my affection for Deva Premal, who sings Hindu and Buddhist chants so beautifully. It was only because of yoga that I discovered her.

Okay, I’m off to get ready for this yoga class… Happy Friday, All! =)

 

Kitties with their Christmas stocking stuffers! They do yoga every day.

Kitties with their Christmas stocking stuffers! They do yoga every day.

 

Merry Christmas from Arizona!

Christmas in Arizona is…

Soaking up the rays in a t-shirt on the second day of winter.

Soaking up the rays in a t-shirt on the second day of winter.

And on the day before the first day of winter.

And on the day before the first day of winter.

Because even if it’s chilly outside (it was between 58-60 degrees in these two pics), the sun-rays are warming.

I took the picture of Callaghan yesterday when I went home for lunch. We inherited this old lawn chair when we bought the house, and yesterday, we discovered that it’s broken. I didn’t post the pictures that happened while I was laughing.

As for me, I avoid actually laying out in the sun, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as too much sun. I love being outside. Sunscreen is my friend, and I do mean tons of it.

Christmas in Arizona is…

Hummingbirds, like this little guy...

Hummingbirds, like this little guy…

...drinking his nectar.

…drinking his nectar.

Callaghan took these pictures yesterday, as well.

We have four hummingbird feeders – two in the front of the house, and two on the back patio. They draw lots of customers, and this is enchanting for someone coming from a country without hummingbirds. (That should be the name of a novel: “A Country without Hummingbirds.”) Callaghan’s enjoying all kinds of special moments mixing the hummingbird nectar and feeding these little guys! He’s a good hummingbird Daddy.

Christmas in Arizona is…

Wide-eyed wonder kitty of the Ronnie James persuasion.

Wide-eyed wonder kitty of the Ronnie James persuasion.

Festive Wrah-Wrah! This wreath was leaning here waiting to be hung up when I caught this photo opp.

And:

Pretending to be a tree kitty of the Nounours persuasion.

Pretending to be a tree kitty of the Nounours persuasion.

Festive Nounours! Seriously, isn’t he even shaped like the tree?!

Christmas in Arizona is…

Mill Avenue lit up in holiday lights.

Mill Avenue lit up in holiday lights.

Downtown Tempe at night. It never gets old. I took this picture coming home from the gym last night.

Christmas in Arizona is…

Bringing the outdoors in.

Bringing the outdoors in.

First we hung our wreath on the front door, all traditional-like, but on second thought, we brought it inside and decorated it instead of a tree. Works for us.

And finally, it wouldn’t be an Arizona Christmas without…

Tamales!

Tamales!

We’re picking ours up today!

It’s traditional here to eat tamales on Christmas Eve. There was one year I went to my friend Mary’s house to make Christmas tamales with her… we had so much fun, and the fresh, homemade tamales were amazing. I’ve never attempted them on my own, so now I do like thousands of other ‘Zonans and order my tamales from one of the many Mexican places that make them special for the holidays.This year, I ordered tomatillo chicken, chipotle pork, red chili beef and (meatless) green corn. There’ll be something for everyone. =)

Merry Christmas, All!

200th Post! Le Deux Centième!

Well. Today marks a milestone for this blog, because today, exactly one month short of two years since my first post, I’m writing here for the 200th time!

 

Capture200

 

*throws confetti*

Of course, I got to feeling reflective as this milestone approached.

This blog began, in part, because I missed LiveJournal, which I’d more or less abandoned several years earlier. Facebook eventually replaced the social aspect of it, in a sense, but I wanted to journal again. Moreover, I was living in France, in limbo, not working, and I could feel my brain cells disintegrating while my writing muscles atrophied. I did write some poems. I also intermittently worked on a big writing project, but fiction really isn’t my forte… I missed writing creative non-fiction. And when I tentatively returned to writing in LiveJournal, it just didn’t feel the same. For me, the old LJ magic had left the room (but that had happened before I’d quit, which was why I’d quit). Something had to be done!

I went to create a WordPress account, and I was promptly reminded that I already had one. I’d just never used it. How convenient! I named it “That Asian-Looking Chick,” bought the domain and jumped in with the goal of posting two or three times per week. It’s been hella fun, and rewarding, and instructive. I never missed a week, but it wasn’t until March of this year that I fell into a twice-weekly schedule that stuck. By April, it’d evolved into a Tuesday/Friday thing, and eight months later, I’m still comfortable with that.

Surprisingly, getting settled in a regular posting schedule coincided with going back to work. In the same month, Callaghan and I established a consistent routine at the gym. It was interesting how once I was anchored at a job, other things like blogging and working out sort of fell into place. It was like a “structure begets more structure” kind of thing.

I typically just glance at my blog stats and search engine terms, since the superficial layer is right there before my eyes, but in honor of my 200th post, I took a more in-depth look. Some fun facts include:

–Since Netflix released the second season of Orange is the New Black in June, hundreds of views have resulted from searches for the Asian girl who plays a character in those episodes, as I’ve already mentioned. Yes, the OITNB Asian girl madness continues to rage on today! It’s been five months now. (I still wonder whether Kimiko Glenn has any idea of the scope of her popularity.)

–WordPress stats include visitors’ countries. I did a country count and found that, as of yesterday, people have read this blog from exactly 100 different countries. I’m ashamed to admit that a couple of the places on the list are countries that I hadn’t even realized were actual countries. This blog has opened my eyes to the world, and that is fabulous. (Also, if I needed any proof that English is a language spoken, or at least read, world-wide? I’ve got it.)

–You’re mostly a silent crowd on my posts, except for when I wrote about the casting in the film Jack Reacher.

–A few of you have commented with helpful tips in response to my posts, and your sharing has been wonderfully beneficial. For instance, thanks to your awesomeness, we’re hooked on The Following (T.V. series), and I found my favorite Korean facial sheet masks – the Epielle ones I’ve raved about several times – at Big Lots! For an amazing price!

 

Epielle sheet masks at Big Lots!

Epielle sheet masks at Big Lots!

 

–Because of the search terms, I also know that I’m far from the only one looking for that old (1970’s) Charleston Chew candy commercial, the one featuring King Louis. I trust that if anyone finds it, they’ll come back here and share it.

So, as I reflect back to the beginning, I wanted to thank you for reading and hanging out here with me over the last 200 posts/23 months, or however long you’ve been here. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea where all that time went!

Those of you who’ve been here the longest remember when I was an American ex-pat in France who had no clue that she’d move back to the States. You were here when I was an Arizona girl in Texas who had no clue that she’d move back to Arizona. You spent two birthdays with me, you share my “Little Things” (monthly favorites) joy with me, and you’re privy to my enthusiasm for pop culture and martial/fighting arts. You tolerate my kitty blather and pics (mostly Ronnie James, aka the Wrah-Wrah) and “NOT UNLIKE” comparisons. You read about Callaghan’s shenanigans, and you read my embarrassing stories. You follow my occasional cultural comparison observations. You hear me out when I feel the need to rant. You’ve been there during more personal moments, too, such as when my Mom set off on her journey to fight cancer (she’s doing really well, by the way)! And you laugh with me, which I love.

Some things I want to do here in the future? Well, I’d love to get more active as a blogger, reading more of other people’s blogs. I’d also like to mix it up more, spend more time writing about topics that matter to me profoundly. While my routine is fixed, time is actually a constraint (as it is, I’m usually up at around 5:00am to write here). I’d still like to find time to carve out for non-blog writing projects, as well – I currently have a prose piece in the works, and I’d love to pick up on the poeting – so we shall see what transpires over the next two years!

 

Monday lunch hour selfie (October 27, 2014)

Monday lunch hour selfie (October 27, 2014)

 

And who knows… I may yet divulge the story of My Most Embarrassing Moment.

NOT UNLIKE! Dragon Edition.

While most people would agree that Ronnie James and the Nounours have distinct personalities that make them very different from each other, many wouldn’t realize, at a glance, the depth of the differences, which are largely intelligence-based. (Poor Nounours!)

What should be obvious to all who meet them is that our fur-kids carry a peculiar resemblance to the dragons in the How to Train Your Dragon movies. The superficial resemblance is there, for sure… we’ve always thought that Ronnie James (aka the Wrah-Wrah) is a dead ringer for Night Fury, and there are two older NOT UNLIKEs out there to this effect. Then, earlier this week, we were sitting in a waiting room flipping through magazines when I stumbled upon a photo that accompanied a review of How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Lo! The creature had “Nounours” written all over it! I quickly took a picture so you could see. You’ll note that the resemblance isn’t so much superficial as it’s energetic. With their similar expressions, Nounours and this creature seem to share… an I.Q. (Poor, sweet Nounours!)

Callaghan made these NOT UNLIKEs using our most recent pics of our Sons-Who-Have-Fur. You’ll see the likeness of the Wrah-Wrah and the Nounours with their dragon counterparts, especially in their dispositions:

 

Nounours on the left. Dragon from "How to Train Your Dragon 2" on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Nounours on the left. Dragon from “How to Train Your Dragon 2” on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Ronnie James on the left. Night Fury from "How to Train Your Dragon" on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left. Night Fury from “How to Train Your Dragon” on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Dragony energy all up in here! Now we need to actually watch these movies. Callaghan’s seen the first How to Train Your Dragon, but I haven’t, and we want to see the second one based on its excellent reviews. Lucy hits the theatres today, though, and we’ve been so looking forward to that one! We’d rather spend our scarce movie theatre ticket bucks on sci-fi action flicks. We’ll look forward to a How to Train Your Dragon home movie marathon one day.

Happy Friday, All!