Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jim is always there

Remember what I told you about Jim? How he is always there for me? How, whenever I am home, he hangs with me throughout the day? How he will be beside me in one room and I will move to another and there he is, still beside me?

It does not matter what room, he is there.

Even when I shower, he walks around on the edge of the tub.

He gets a little wet, sometimes, just like he does when he accidently falls into a fish tank.

And so it was that when I came home with my right wrist and thumb in this brace, he was right there, with me.

That's my buddy, Jim.

Jim Slim Many Toes, because there are a whole lot of toes on that paw that he grooms.

Nobody has ever been able to count them all.

He has a bunch of toes on the other front paw, too, but not quite so many.

Jim Slim Many Toes.

I leave Jim behind in the front room and go to the back door to get my shoes. Jim appears, right there beside me.

I leave Jim behind in the living room, and go to the front room. There's Jim! In the front room! He finds a cozy spot from which to observe me.

He does not really leave me here; he stays close by, but he wants to know what this duo is up to.

Jim has been curious about the activities of Wry and he had to check, but now he is coming back to me.

I sit down to watch TV. Jim appears in front of me. We are Gone With the Wind.

Chicago climbs onto my lap. Jim doesn't like it. He waits quietly nearby for Chicago to move on.

I read the paper. Jim is there.

I go to check out Wry and his stacking cans. Jim comes with me.

My buddy, Jim.

Jim Slim Many Toes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Phantom - A victim of the Exxon Valdez oil spill; Cookie, who followed her onto the Belen C

It has been awhile since I have posted a "Cats Met Along the Way" story here, even though I have so many waiting.

This week marked the 20th anniversay of the spill of the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound. I was in the Arctic when that happened, preparing to go out on the sea ice with Eskimo whale hunters.

Even so, I wept when I heard the news.

What follows is the story of two cats, both of Cordova, Alaska, right in the heart of Prince William Sound: Phantom, who helped with the cleanup and paid the ultimate price. Cookie, who could not replace Phantom, but did step in to take over Phantom's duties on the fishing boat, the Belen C, and so made a place of her own.

Phantom was a good, seafaring cat with a good sea gut and good sea legs, but the Siamese suffered her mishaps. Once, as her people, Joe and Belen Cook, napped, Phantom slipped through an open porthole and plunged into the water. Awakened by the splash, Joe leaped up and grabbed his buoy hook, but before he could rescue her, Phantom swam to the other side and pulled herself back on board. Another time, a leaf came blowing by and Phantom leapt for it, but when she came down she discovered that there was no boat, but only sea, beneath her. This time, Joe fished her out with the hook.

After the March 24, 1989, oil spill of the Exxon Valdez, the Cooks set out in their boat to work on the cleanup. Often, they would pick workers up from the beach for transport elsewhere. The Cooks lined the boat with oil absorbent materials, required passengers to remove oily gear before boarding and did all they could to keep it clean. Adoring spill workers took Phantom upon their laps, stroked her, talked to her and were delighted when she talked back.

After the Cooks returned home to Cordova, Phantom fell suddenly ill during the day and, come night, died. The vet surmised that, somehow, the 13-year old cat had been poisoned by the spilled oil she had helped to clean.

In time, the Cooks set out in search of another Siamese female. After a visit to Belen’s mother in her Yaqui homeland of Mexico, they searched the Arizona classifieds and located a breeder in Cave Creek, a tiny enclave out in the wild desert.

The breeder informed the Cooks that she had only male kittens available and, before she would let one go, insisted upon giving the Cooks an intense, grilling, in-person interview to determine their worthiness. After the interview, the breeder was so pleased that she confessed to actually having two female kittens and would give the Cook’s first choice.

One sister was outgoing and friendly, lovable as can be. The other was shy and reclusive. Intent that it would have a good a home, Belen chose the later.

“Cookie” turned out to be a very gregarious, chatty cat, and a good sea cat, too – never has she taken a plunge off the boat.

Cookie gets what Cookie wants. Belen’s grandmother was up north doing laundry once, and Cookie harassed her mercilessly until she finally heated some clothes in the dryer and fashioned them into a nice, warm bed for the cat to lie upon.

Cookie loves to assist Joe when he works on his computer, but sometimes, Joe gets lazy and stops. Cookie then stands by the computer and meows until Joe gets back to work. Whenever jumbo shrimp leaves the fridge, Cookie dances and meows until she gets her 15 pieces.

I took these pictures of Cookie in August of 2002. I write of her in the present tense, but Cookie has gone now, to wherever it is that Phantom drifts.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Juniper is suspicious of the strange cat in the mirror

Nabysko called and said she would meet me at Kaladi Brothers in Wasilla. So I drove over and discovered that Juniper was with her.

This made me very happy.

We went inside and drank our coffee. We visited about many things, including Fox News. Nabykso was exasperated with Fox News.

When we came back out, we saw that Juniper was exasperated with us.

Nabysko then brought Juniper to the house.

Wry took a bath. After he was clean and dry, Juniper got into the tub. I wonder what she would have done, had we turned the water on?

Wry was pleased to have Juniper in the house.

I see Juniper in the mirror.

Juniper sees Juniper in the mirror. She does not know what to think.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Martigny in the window

Martigny in the window, as we drive off to Anchorage. Friends, I am overwhelmed and my cat blog falters, but I will yet get back on top of it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's a long workday (but I love it). Jim does his part to make it successful

I came into the office at about 10:00 AM yesterday, to begin my workday. As always, Jim came with me, eager to help. I have an array of harddrives set up behind my monitor. Jim climbed atop them, to keep them warm.

This is Alaska, you know.

I don't know how Alaskans without cats in the workplace keep their harddrives warm.

All that hard work dries a cat out. Jimmy leaves the harddrives and goes to the oscar tank to get a drink. Jimmy basically will not drink out of anything but a fish tank, unless no fish tank is available.

The last of the two oscars died recently, after being with Jim and me for seven years or so.

Now, I must figure out what kind of fish to replace it with. 

I have already bought ceramic pigs to create a new fish tank decor.

Then Jimmy goes to the window to see what's happening outside. Jimmy can't drink out of this tank, because there is a lid on it.

There was a lid on the oscar tank,  too.

Jimmy broke it.

He did not want to die of thirst.

A bit later, Jim comes and sits down on the keyboard. How can a person even work at a computer, if a cat doesn't sometimes come and sit down on the keyboard?

Jim decides to sit on my lap. I am skilled at working with a cat on my lap. I have a great deal of practice.

It can be a little challenging to see the screen, however. Soon, though, he will get down and I will have a clear view of the screen.

Later, he comes back. He digs his claws into my sweatshirt and pulls himself up to my chest and shoulder. He forces me to take a break.

In this way, Jimmy keeps me sane. Or at least from going more insane than I already am.

Later, he comes back and does it again.

Jim does not want me to go insane.

He does not know what insane is.

He is insane.

Maybe that's why we love each other so much.

We are both insane.

Then Jimmy steps onto my keyboard. Please take note of the photo onscreen. Something is about to happen.
Jimmy hits a certain key and the photo that I was working on disappears! Another one of the same subject takes its place!

Originally, I had considered printing this one, instead of the first. 

Now the first has disappeared. I know I can find it again, or at worst, dig up a backup copy, but I don't want to.

I think maybe Jimmy has just told me that I should print this picture instead.

But then I go back and find the other one, and print it.

Jimmy is smart, all right, but I can't let him become my picture editor.

The day wears on, the sun drops beneath the horizon, leaving only the afterglow to creep into the office.

Jimmy does not falter, but stays right here with me.

I have to print this picture several times, because ink splotches keep appearing on it. I clean the heads, print again, clean the heads, print again, and still the ink splotches appear.

Finally, I pull out a big pad of ink soaked lint. It looks like it might be made of cat hairs. The printing proceeds just fine, after that.

It grows later and later. Jimmy hangs in there with me.

Hey! This is not Jim! This is Pistol! My little Pistol-Yero. Right after we got up in the morning, he went back to bed for a nap. He napped all day.

But now he comes out to help with the night shift.

Pistol does his part.

I finally leave the office at a few minutes before 4:00 AM.

Both cats leave with me.

Only Pistol follows me into the bedroom.

A few minutes after I settle down in bed, I hear Jimmy at the door. I get up to let him in. He does not come in, but Pistol goes out.

I go back to bed. About 15 minutes later, I hear Pistol at the door. He wants back in. I let him in. He snuggles up by my head and purrs.

Fifteen minutes after that, I hear Jimmy at the door again. He wants in, badly. I get up and let him in. Margie sleeps through it.

Then the two cats pile on and we stay put, sleeping and waking, until 9:30.

And now a new day has begun.

I am in my office.

Cats are with me.

I anticipate a productive day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wry, Royce and Muzzy - buddies three; tired me

Wry examines a mitten, as Royce patiently waits for whatever will happen next.

Wry, Royce, Muzzy and the mitten.

Royce, Wry and Muzzy. If it wasn't so late, I would tell you the story behind this mitten and the drama that you witness right here.

But it is late and I am exhausted. Too exhausted to put such a story together.

I have so many stories to tell here. How will I ever tell them, if I always come to this blog exhausted?

And how long has it been, since I have felt anything but exhaustion?

The sun has come back to Alaska. You would think this exhaustion would leave me now.

Of course, last night I went to bed at 6:00 AM, spent half of my time there awake and then got up at 10:00 AM.

Now it is 2:00 AM and I have a huge, huge, huge workday to put in tomorrow.

Maybe it is not just the sun.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Deborah by Default is now Juniper. What will Tryskuit name her first daughter?

I arrived home from the Iditarod about 5:00 PM and found both of my daughters here, along with Juniper. Yes, Deborah by Default is defaulted no more. She is Juniper.

The cat and the daughters wanted to go out for coffee. For Nabysko, that usually means Kaladi Brothers, but they do not allow cats inside Kaladi Brothers and she did not want to leave her cherished buddy in the car, so we decided to go to a Kiosk.

We were headed to Mocha Moose, also known as "Palin Fever," but the daughters decided that we should try a kiosk that we had never been to before.

So I head toward one and they said, "not that one," because it was too close to the house.

"You need to broaden your horizons, Dad," Tryskuit admonished.

So I picked one out that I had never been to that was many miles away but when we got there, it was closed, too.

From there, we drove past a few that we were already familiar with and then the daughters suggested that we head down Knik Road. We did. The first kiosk that we came upon was closed. Tryskuit was certain the next would be open. It took was closed.

She then spoke of a kiosk on a certain corner - she said that was the original kiosk, the kiosk of all kiosks and it would be open because it is always open.

So I drove there. There was a sign on the door... "We closed at 4:00 PM today. Sorry for the inconvenience," or something close to that.

Well, we tried at least five more and they were all closed, so we wound up at Mocha Moose, anyway.

As you can see, Juniper had the cash, so she bought.

She was also the source of a fair amount of contention. Nabysko's boyfriend and co-caretaker of Juniper originally did not like the name. After suffering some confusion and consternation, the name "Jubilee" materialized from somewhere and so that is what she was going to be named.

Then Bryce decided that he like the name, "Juniper," after all.

So the cat is now "Juniper."

However, Tryskuit now claims that she had planned all along to name her first daughter "Juniper." "I can't name my daughter Juniper if your cat is already Juniper!" she scolded. "And its your fault, Dad, for putting the story in your blog. I liked "Jubilee."

"Yeah? Well, Prickly Pear Blossom is always calling Kalib 'Muzzy,' and it works out okay."

And that's how life is around here.

Before the trio left, Juniper got to see an adolescent moose run across the back yard. "That's her first moose," Nabysko said proudly.

Of course, we don't really know that. No telling what wonders Juniper saw in the ten months of her life that transpired before she came into ours.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Martigny and Royce as they appeared today

I have no stories to tell tonight. This is not true - I do. I have so many stories. I am just too tired to tell them. Tired is not the word.


So here are two pictures from today, unaccompanied by stories, save for those you might invent in your own.

I will not even identify the cats. If you are new and don't know them, then you can find them in the sidebar.

I don't have any time for this blogging. Why do I do it?

I'm not going to stop, I'm going to keep doing it. But why?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Royce gives Wry a cushion as he takes his first steps

Baby Wry took his first step last night! It happened in the kitchen. I did not have my camera. I ran to get it. As I came back with it, he and his Mom had moved to the living room, where he had just taken his second step.

Now he was ready to take a third, and I had my camera ready. Prickly Pear Blossom held out her hands, beckoning her son to come to her.

But Baby... no, no, no... but Toddler Wry turned toward Royce. He walked right to Royce...

And then he dived, right into Royce's fur!

Royce watched with pride as Toddler Wry walked wobbly, but confidently away. 

There is, of course, more to this story, as was documented on that blog in the parallel universe.