Monday, April 30, 2007

Good News

The vet’s tests show that Star is completely healthy! The quarantine is lifted.

Home from the Vet. That Wasn't So Bad.

The only disappointment of the day is that she was given a vaccination which the vet said would make her “grumpy” and “lethargic”, but which I say has made her “miserable” and “frighteningly lethargic”. Witchdoctor’s advice after rattle shaken and poisons administered, “She won’t feel like meeting Lovey till tomorrow.”

On Second Thought, I Need a Nap

And she doesn’t feel like meeting Lovey, in spite of his evident eagerness for a new companion. When Star got home, after a period of normal frenetic play she got sleepy and sleepier and sleepier. She cried some, licked her lips a lot, seemed feverish and to have a stomach ache, and had me thinking of the emergency room, but Julia comforted her while I had a nap, and now the kitten has actually tried to play a little and before falling back to sleep between my feet.

Inspector Lovey Informed That His First Date with Star Is Cancelled.

Along with the good news, I’ll get a report of two typically human controversies out of the way.

One is about Star’s breed. As soon as I saw her I said, “Siamese!” Never to be satisfied with my opinions, much less my wise counsel, Julia did some research and announced, “Birman!” Now, to me Star looks about as Birman as a lion, but an unbiased eye would see the similarity. Like the Birman (which nobody around here had ever heard of until yesterday), Star has white feet along with the “points” that Birmans and Siamese share. On the other hand, Star has shorter hair than shown in the Birman photographs. When, this morning, I asked the vet what breed she saw in Star, she innocently threw herself into the fray with a prompt, “Siamese.” When put to the rack, however, she confessed, “there could be Birman characteristics”. Her concluding words were, “Leave me out of this.”

To the above opinions we have to add the judgment of the internationally noted animal expert, Link of Australia, that Star is an “Alley Cat”. (See Link’s comment.) “Alley Cat” is a breed with which I’m not familiar. It’s probably well known in Australia – perhaps the only cat breed they have there – but I need more information from Link before I’m going to back away from “Siamese”. Anyway, I want to emphasize that Star was discovered next to a gaily painted U.S. Postal Service box on one of Lake Helen’s finest boulevards, and not in an alley.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A New Life

Star, with Fleming in supporting role.

`“Lovey has to have a new companion!” Once that was declared, and when the debate over the joy of pets versus the sorrow of losing them had been concluded, the search for a feline companion began, “for Lovey’s sake”. At least that was the excuse.

You would think, with all of the homeless cats in the world, that it would take about an hour to find one, but that’s not the way it was. The orange cat advertised in the paper had already been given away. Vets had no current leads except for a veterinary center called FloridaWild, which specializes in rescuing wild animals as well as cats. I had conceded that I would not insist on a Siamese cat (Siamese cats have been big in my life), but I did demand a very young cat. . . which eliminated all but two at FloridaWild, across whose polished wood floors a fashion show of nine different shapes and colors strolled, observed by a parrot and a cockatoo. “Panther”, a tornado orphan, would have been a possibility had he not eliminated himself from consideration by frantically fleeing down the hall as a streak of black as soon as he was displayed. My favorite was a kitty who had lost half his tail and had a hip replacement after he was hit by an automobile, but we were concerned about his long-term health. The only suitably young cat was a few months old, very lively, but not particularly appealing. Choosing a cat to live with for years is like choosing a wife. You don’t just go out on the street and grab the first woman that comes along. If the feeling’s not there, it’s not there. We reserved judgment.

Later that day FloridaWild called and told us about a woman who rescued cats and dogs. We phoned her. Yes, she had some kittens. In fact she had just received two litters of very young kittens – one abandoned at a bank, and the other left by a mailbox in nearby Lake Helen. Our lack of experience with kittens resulted in unconditional jubilation. Kittens! Perfect!

As we turned into the driveway of Donna’s country home we spotted at least a dozen cats on the lawn, on the walkways, in the flower beds. They slept, they strolled, they ran. More cats nonchalantly emerged from the garage to have a look at us, while inside the house scarcely a piece of furniture was unoccupied by a furry body.

I was amazed at the incredible cleanliness of the spacious home, and the patience and good humor of the woman whose home it was – who I sensed must once have been on a university faculty. In her library/computer room were two ladies from the bank with about eight tiny kittens tumbling all over the floor. Cuteness compounded, needless to say. Then Donna took us to another room and opened a bathroom door, and the Lake Helen brigade tottered out. The choice was made almost immediately: One of the Lake Helen kittens was a Siamese. The siblings resembled other pure breeds, but there was only one who stood out as Siamese.

We arranged to pick her up the next morning. I impulsively volunteered my computer room/playroom to be the kitten nursery needed to keep her separate “for a few days” from the older cat. All was prepared – litter box, kitty bed, kitten bottle with nipple and special milk, food dishes, toys. (Just think: Donna bottle fed sixteen kittens at least twice a day, along with everything else!)

What we did not realize was that an adopted kitten is usually a fully weaned little cat of at least eight weeks old which has lived with its mother and siblings and learned a lot about living and playing from them. Our kitten was only five or six weeks old, not weaned, and had lived with its mother, if at all, for a couple of days. We didn’t realize that she might have more to learn from her brothers and sisters – in particular how hard to bite and scratch without hurting.

So, last Friday, April 20, we brought “Star” home. Her name is still subject to debate. I liked “Star”, while Julia added “Twinkle”. Star was no more than a ball of fluff, and yet she quickly proceeded to take over my hitherto sacrosanct playroom and show me who was boss. Teeth and claws like little needles assisted with the invasion. She soon realized that human hands and bare feet were improved versions of the sparring partners who had been her brothers and sisters.

That first day she never stopped racing around the room and playing. Her nightly bedroom is a bathroom because of my concern that she might chew on the snake’s nest of wires at one end of my room. My time alone with her is 90 percent delight, 5 percent worry (“Where is she? Where is she?”), and 5 percent pain.

She was too young to be tested for feline leukemia as would usually have been done, and so she has to be segregated from Lovey until this coming Monday. She has, however, been introduced to him. First we set them down to view one another from a few yards apart in the living room. Donna had predicted, “I know what the reaction will be. Kitten will run up to Lovey saying, ‘Mommy, mommy, it’s been so long!’ and Lovey will knock her over with one swat . . . but she’ll keep coming back.” Is it happening? Kitten is tottering over to Lovey. But wait – something’s wrong. Instead of swatting, Lovey is wide-eyed with horror, turning tail, running away in such a panic that he knocks over some shelves. He doesn’t stop until he’s out of the main house and on the far side of the pool deck. He’s not much better on the next day, when Star is displayed on one side of the screened deck while Lovey crouches in the ferns on the other side. All that can be seen of Lovey are two gigantic golden-green disks where once had been his eyes.

But in the following days the relationship improved. Lovey cowered and stared from closer and closer distances, and later he actually made an effort to approach the kitten. Now, after a week of tentative introductions, he seems calm and ready for the big moment next Monday after Star comes out of quarantine. When she finally is standing free in front of him, will the traditional welcoming swat be administered? Emergency vehicles will be standing by.

. . . To be continued, replete with boring philosophical ruminations . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2007




Always loving, gentle, patient, brave, enduring.

If his soul were the human soul, we would live in paradise.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

By the Numbers

4:44 Too early.

5:16 Still too early?

6:14 Just get up.
When did I let that clock make me a puppet?


I can’t believe I’m still 53
When I should be getting younger.
Don't numbers ever go in reverse?

Dawn's early light from 93 million miles,
A trip of 8 minutes and 18 seconds.

My drive to work, 8 miles,
A trip of 20 minutes, 47 seconds.

63 Fahrenheit.

210, down 1 pound.

8 after 8 You’ll be late

Odometer 65,610
Oil change when?

35 mph
What’s sacred about 35?

School zone 20.

5 soldiers killed in Iraq.

3 Palestinians, including 1 child, killed by Israel.

63 dead in China coal mine.

211 11th Street

8:36 Six minutes late.

Prime rate 8.8

Blood pressure 128 over 88.

Dow down to 11,208.

IBM down 8.
Short seller buys a boat.
Conservative investor hangs on, waits to sell when IBM’s down another 10; delays purchase of boat.

10:30 appointment.
3 minutes early.

$4300 tax due. What’s new?

Sweet Sue goes off at 4 to 1, wins by 2 lengths.

Lunch 12 to 1
In real time 11:50 to 1:25.

GMT is my time plus 5, which means they’re starting home from work in London now.

Hamburger $4.95

Still so early?

Why wait?

5 to 6 Rush hour
Rush? It’s hardly moving.

$2.95 a gallon, total $35.50

Oil up 60 cents a barrel.

80 degrees.

10 mph wind.

Pool temperature 82. Very nice but not as nice as 86.

Oven temp 350 for 50 minutes.

8 TV

10:30 Too soon to be sleepy.

10:50 Fall asleep in chair anyway.

I’ll stumble along like a slave tied behind a cart
Until the numbers let me go.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


I never had friends or acquaintances in the Southern Hemisphere until I began blogging a few months ago. As I looked at Blue Mountain Easter e-cards this morning I realized that they were appropriate only for the Northern Hemisphere, where Easter is equated with spring, and is the gateway to summer.

How can one send “springtime” Easter cards to friends whose autumn has begun, and for whom Easter must be the harbinger of winter?

I learned a long time ago that the people of any country tend to feel that their nation is the center of the world – the most important place there is -- and I thought I had cured myself of that way of thinking until this morning, when I realized how limited I remain. It just never occurred to me that Easter wasn’t always associated with springtime, with renewal, nature’s rebirth.

I would welcome any comments about concepts of Easter from people who live in the part of the world where Easter ushers in winter.

My perception of Easter’s significance has become pagan rather than Christian, and any great importance of the day in my life ended when I was about seven years old. Until then Easter was a very special occasion. My two younger brothers and I looked forward to being unleashed early on Easter morning to look for our respective Easter baskets – which might be hidden anywhere in the living room area. We had previously dyed Easter eggs different colors, and those would be found nestled in odd places. Each little boy found some kind of stuffed animal – usually a rabbit – in his basket, along with a chocolate bunny, chocolate eggs, and jelly beans, all on a soft nest of straw.

Where did Jesus fit into this? Not at all, as far as we children were concerned, until we were dressed up in our best short pants and shirts and forcibly taken off to church to squirm through prayers and a resurrection sermon, looking forward to getting back home to our stuffed animals and the fragrant, baking ham bristling with cloves.

May your Easter – if you have one – be exactly what you want it to be.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

And God Said. . .

This morning before I got out of bed I impulsively asked God, “Is there something you’d like me to write this morning that would help people?”, and God promptly replied, “I don’t care.”

Interpret that as you will, but it (1) made me decide to post some pictures, and (2) prompted me to ask if a lot of damage hasn’t been done by individuals who claim to get direct messages from God.

I’m not talking about the messages which say, “Shoot everybody in the Quicky Mart” or which spell out God’s instructions for serial killings. I’m talking about the messages which sane humans have taken seriously.

Although I did get an answer from God this morning, I definitely have not graduated to the stage of hearing a voice from a burning bush, or receiving engraved tablets, or even feverishly taking dictation from the Almighty. I am therefore unqualified to judge those who have had such experiences, but it seems to me they always lead to trouble.

Once God starts handing out tablets or giving dictation it isn’t long before sets of rules and instructions, of do’s and don’t’s, get into the works. Far from saying, “I don’t care”, God lays down laws, precepts, and warnings, and the next thing you know, A Religion is born.

We all know what A Religion means: More and more rules, and MORE rules, and then quarrels, politics, schisms, persecutions, and wars. I think God made a very wise choice when he answered me, “I don’t care.”

In honor of my revelation, I’m posting pictures of the blossoming lemon tree outside our back door, which attracted not only me but a host of flying creatures. I believe that images are a more natural expression of God than words. My old camera expired a few weeks ago, and these are my first efforts with the new one, except for the water drop taken by Julia.

Click on a photograph to see the original size. . . especially the moth and the bee.