Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our Cats Part 2: Felix

It's a well-known made-up historical fact that Al Gore created the Internet for the purpose of facilitating us talking about our cats. This is the second in a three-part series of the Cats of the House of Terra. Enjoy.


 AKA: Baby Pig (pronounced beh-beh peeg), Little Dude, Little Psycho, Prince Poing Poing, Crazy Ed, "Felix- nothing more than Felix" (sung to the tune of a really awful song)
Age: Nine Months

Felix is Rhiannon's cat. Or, again, Rhiannon is Felix's go-to staff. She picked him out of a litter of five cats, a situation that came about when Rhi's friend Katie's cat, Jade, got out of the house and was gone for a couple days, and yep, right before she was supposed to be "fixed". The neighbor's cat worked fast and before you can say "Spay and neuter your pets", Jade was in the family way.

Rhi had picked out Felix while Spooky was still alive. This is significant, because Spooky, the Dowager Empress of the House Of Terra, would tolerate NO other cats before her. Sure, we could visit other people's homes and pet their cats. But bringing in another cat? Inconceivable! Blasphemy! Impudence!

Carol gave Rhi permission to pick out a kitten, with the understanding that she couldn't bring it home until the day Spooky was no longer with us. While that could be weeks or months, Carol knew deep down that Spooky was not long for this world.

As it turned out, her instincts were good. Spooky passed the day before Halloween, and Felix turned eight weeks, the optimal time, around Thanksgiving. Rhiannon decided to name the kitten Felix.

"Oh cool," I noted. "You named him after Felix the Cat!"

"No," she replied. "I named him after Felix Kjellberg; PewdiePie."

Of course! What was I thinking? Pardon me while I shuffle to the old age home, along with my ancient cultural references!

Kyrian was already well situated here at the House Of Terra, so naturally there was a concern about how the cats would get along. Sure enough, Kyrian growled and hissed at the new kitten, which was actually kept in Rhiannon's room. We did a slow assimilation process, letting Kyrian smell Felix through the door, petting him after we pet Felix so that he could get acclimated to the smell, things like that.

A big breakthrough happened when the cats played together with feather dancers and other toys like that. While they played, Kyrian forgot to assert his alpha-male status and instead played along with Felix. Gradually, the two cats got along, but every once in a while, Kyrian would get a little fed up with Felix, and walk away, giving a little explosive sigh that we called a "Chuff!" It was hysterical, because Kyrian sounded so human when he did that; like an exasperated rush of air when faced with a frustrating situation.

Felix is a kitten who happens to also have a medical condition that's known as "being a dimwit". He's a loveable cat and totally devoted to Rhi, but wow...he is one dippy kitten. He bounces around the house, usually engaged in the endless, Captain Ahab-like pursuit of that elusive creature known as "Felix's tail". On any given afternoon, Felix can be found tearing around the house, leaping into the air with his inexhaustible kitten energy, then suddenly indulging in a spirited pursuit of his tail.

Felix also eats like a pig. Whereas Kyrian usually waits his turn for getting a hand-fed treat, Felix will barge on in and even try to take the food away from the other cats, even if said food piece is hanging out of the cat's mouth. And naturally, in order to wash down that stolen food, Felix bounds into the bathroom and drinks from the toilet.

Hey wait....dimwit, loveable, chases his tail, grabs greedily at all food, drinks from the toilet...

Good Lord...Felix is a closet dog!

These days, Felix is a much-loved member of the House of Terra, and even Kyrian likes him. While it's been noted that if all three of our cats were the hyenas from The Lion King then Felix would be Crazy Ed, he's an entertaining and loveable ball of kitten energy.
So, two cats living at the House of Terra, and they get along. All done, right? Nope. The House of Terra isn't complete without a black cat, and there was a little one on the horizon...


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Cats, Part 1: Kyrian

It's a well-known made-up historical fact that Al Gore created the Internet for the purpose of facilitating us talking about our cats. This is the first in a three-part series of the Cats of the House of Terra. Enjoy.


AKA: Kye-Guy; "Handsome, Handsome Fly-Guy"; Metrosexual Kitty; Kneady Boy, Kyrian Eliason
Age: Two years

The death of our 19 1/2 year old black cat Spooky in October 2012 was a devastating, though not unexpected event in our family. There had been signs that she had been slowing down, signs that we chose to ignore or rationalize, the pet owners' equivalent of whistling past the graveyard. But when the time came and it was clear that, after a sudden stroke, that she was in pain and losing her mental awareness, the hard decision was made.

Her loss left a void in our house, and the question became "when do we get another cat?" There had been talk that it would be at least weeks before we'd bring in another cat. At Carol's urging, we ended up hitting the Nashua Humane Society the Saturday after Spooky passed. I was not too keen on the idea, but Carol really wanted me to have a cat with whom I could have the same close relationship to as she had with Spooky. Because even though Spooky was a loving cat that enjoyed hanging out with everyone, ultimately, she was Carol's cat. Or, to be precise, Carol was her human!

So, off to the Nashua Humane Society, Carol, our youngest daughter Rhiannon, and yours truly.

Getting a cat isn't as simple as going to the supermarket and picking up a gallon of milk. There has to be that spark, that connection. It's like the definition of art: "I can't describe it to you, but I know it when I see it!" So there we were, at the Humane Society, looking for a cat that, though it would be the family cat, would be the one that bonded best with me. I was still skeptical and not very enthusiastic.

After checking out some very nice kitties, it was clear that the spark, that zing, didn't happen at NHS.

"Well, so much for that," I said. "Let's head home."

"There's the Animal Rescue League in Bedford," Carol suggested.


On to the ARL.

Once there, we looked around for a while, but still, nothing. No connection. No zing. There had been one cage we kept passing since it was situated along the main corridor, but the occupant was constantly sleeping and thus escaped our notice. After spending a good amount of time in the large facility and experienced the kitty version of 101 Dalmatians, no. Nothing. Time to go home to our empty cold catless house and wallow in sadness.

I had my back turned to the cage with the sleeping cat as I suggested to Carol and Rhiannon that we should just go.

"Dad!" Rhiannon shot back, pointing. "That cat just tried to swat your butt!"

I turned around and saw this handsome tabby, looking alert and trying to put his paw through the cage to reach out to me.

Now, I know there's a lot of opinions and arguments about the possibility of life after death. There's also discussion about whether there's such thing as ghosts, and even further, whether higher-functioning animals like dogs and cats can be ghosts. But we're convinced that, when we were at the Bedford shelter, the ghost of a little black cat who wanted to make sure her humans were happy swatted the dozing tabby on the head, saying "Hey, dummy! Wake up! The best thing you could possibly have is about to pass you by! Wake up!"

Another couple had noticed the tabby's antics and started taking an interest in him as well. Fortunately, Rhiannon dashed off and found a volunteer, and we set up a small room so that we could have some one on one with this feisty cat called Nugent, this eighteen month old tabby.

Nugent? Really? Does this cat come with its own gun collection and insane right-wing ideology? Or is it a has-been rocker desperate for attention?

Nugent had been found as a stray in Vermont. He had a collar that he had tried to get out of, but instead it got stuck under one of his arms and burrowed into his flesh. It had required surgery to remove it.

Well, we fell in love with him and decided on the spot to adopt him. But that name had to go. That's when Carol brought up Kyrian, the name of a non-player character bard in my old Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 game. Yeah. Kyrian. That works.

Kyrian it was.

We live in a house on the border of Nashua, with plenty of room inside for an active cat. Kyrian took to his new home immediately, and quickly established himself as the Master of All He Surveys.

Kyrian, we discovered, is part Egyptian Mau. The Mau is characterized by leopard-like spots on the under-belly, a tendency to chirp rather than meow, and has the habit of waiting by the door for their master to return home. Although it's clear that Kyrian isn't a full-blooded Mau, those characteristics are all there.

Kyrian loves the knead. When he first came home, he was kneading everything; blankets, furniture, us, THE AIR. In fact, Carol and I still recall the evening of the Presidential election. My son John had come up to visit and to vote, and we came home to find him sitting in his favorite chair, watching tv, with Kyrian on his lap, kneading vigorously. John's expression was one of slight but continuous pain. Kyrian was already making friends.

Nowadays, he still kneads, but it's mostly just laps, and mostly mine. It's not so bad when his claws are trimmed but otherwise, well, the Spanish Inquisition could have taken a few tips from him on the subject of torture methods.

Speaking of torture, there's also the farting. Well, again, not so much these days, but when we first got him, his kitty digestive system had to adjust from the standardized shelter food and feeding schedule, to the variety and greater quantities that we provide. Kyrian proved to be the master of the SBD (Silent But Deadly), although mercifully, the frequency has diminished, something we're all grateful for.

We've also never seen a cat who loves to groom as much as Kyrian does, which is why he's also known as the metrosexual kitty.

Some cats are fast, others are excellent jumpers. Kyrian is the master jumper, often getting a respectable amount of air when he does vertical leaps in an effort to grab the feather dancers we use to play with the cats. He also loves jumping up on counters, especially when we're cooking. This has led to addressing him in the same stern tone and name usage that you use on your kid, when you start using their full names, including the middle name, as in "Robert Maxell Smith! You put down that bottle of bleach and that duck right now, young man!".

Well, this is a cat. He has no middle name. We're not that insane...yet. So I've taken to saying "Kyrian Elaison!" when I'm addressing him in a disciplinary way. Since "kyrie elaison" means "Lord, have mercy", it's strangely appropriate.

This comes into play especially when I'm cutting up chicken on the cutting board. Kyrian jumps up on the counter, studies it, then tries to bring his face in contact with the chicken. After a sharp "Kyrian Elaison!", he backs up, then studies the chicken with what can only be described as an appraising glance, then, slowly, he reaches out with a paw to take it. After another sharp exclamation of his "full name", he withdraws the paw, studies the situation a little more, and tries again, this time with the other paw.

Cats are smart; and don't let anyone try to tell you otherwise. Kyrian knows the word "meat", and when he sees the fridge door open, he walks on over and chips "mreet". Fortunately, he also knows what "no" means, as well as "no more, all gone".

And so, Kyrian is well situated in his new home, and though he loves the family and enjoys socializing with any visitors, he's definitely "my cat", or to be honest, I'm "his" staff. But if he senses that someone other than myself is feeling down, he unerringly goes and sits with them for a while to cheer them up. His ability to know when to do this is uncanny. Maybe it's something like that whole "animals sense weather changes and earthquakes" thing.

Ah, but soon after Kyrian made himself at home and declared himself Lord and Master of the House of Terra, a new fuzzy face was lurking in the wings, ready to pounce.

Next time: Crazy Ed comes to stay

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sayings That Have Stuck With Me

The following are not actually old sayings, but sentences and sound bites that people have told me, that have stuck with me throughout the years.

1. Never try to teach a pig to sing; it's a waste of time, and it annoys the pig.

2. Money can't buy happiness, but the lack of it can bring misery.

3. No one has ever been argued into the Kingdom of God.

4. Those who've bragged the most have done the least.

5. No matter how much you make, your spending can easily match it.

6. Being a Christian does not mean committing intellectual suicide.

7. When you're hired for a job, it's not as a favor for you; it's because a company has a problem and they believe you're the solution to it.

8. Having good manners doesn't mean you think you matter more than other people, it's because you think other people matter more than you.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Morning After...

After spending a few hours yesterday doing our civic-minded volunteer duty for Nashua High's music program, Carol and I decided to do a pub crawl up and down Main Street. From what I can remember, we had a great time. Of course, now I'm trying to sort my brain out in order to try and post a coherent blog entry.

So...bear with me. There'll be good stuff to come.

Oh, and happy Cinco De Mayo!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Simple Answer

Because there's no "National Bomb Association".