Friday, July 31, 2009

Do not expect any good photography or clever stories from me tonight, folks. I am drained and exhausted and it is all I can do to make a post at all - but I feel I must post just so you will know that Grahamn Kracker is keeping this blog alive. Those of you who visit the blog in the parallel universe already know what we have been through here since Sunflower fell and hurt herself.

Those of you who don't can find out right here: Sunflower's ordeal.

You  can see how drained Toast Ed and Prickly Pear Blossom are. Thank goodness, Chicago is there to help get them through it.

And here is Royce, getting a drink. I know some of you will be greatly concerned to see such a picture and will want to admonish me to keep him indoors and serve him only the cleanest of water, but Royce is at least 15 years old now, maybe sixteen and he has lived this way all of his life.

We cannot change him now.

Royce walks away from his reflection.

Oh, my! The accident had not yet happened when I took this picture. We had just gotten up and the day was pleasant and we thought that it would remain so. It did not.

Pistol-Yero at 1:07 in the afternoon.

Little Wry Kracker and Muzzy, the strangest looking of all the Kracker cats.

Oh no! This picture got in here twice! Well, I am too lazy to go to html and take it out. That's how exhausted.
Oh, my! They really are exhausted.

And so am I. What would I do, without Jim to help get me through such moments?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cleo finds a new home in Alaska

Readers probably think that I have abandoned this blog; given up on it altogether. This is not correct. What is a hard fact, however, is that I just spent five weeks traveling on the Arctic Slope, where I visited five communities, and in that time I saw and met a total of but one cat, Sigñiq, who I photographed and introduced to you.

I am back home, now, exhausted, and with a new crisis to face as my lovely Sunflower has once again gone down with an excruciatingly painful knee injury, but at least I among my own cat buddies, who will soon begin to pop up in this blog again.

In the meantime, I did meet this character, Cleo, at the Anchorage airport shortly after my flight from Barrow landed and deboarded.

Cleo had just moved to Anchorage from Colorado.

I did a short interview with him:

Me: "Cleo, why did you choose to leave your home in Colorado to move to Alaska?"

Cleo: "Meow."

Me: "I see. I agree completely. Alaska is God's favorite place. And how was your flight?"

Cleo: "Meow."

Me: "That bad, huh?"

Cleo: "Meow! Meow! Meow!"

Me: "Well! Certainly I would agree that she should be reprimanded, but don't you think it would have been a little extreme to have opened the door and thrown the Stewardess out?"

Cleo: "Meow."

Me: "Actually, it's cats that always land on their feet, so she wouldn't have been okay. Besides, even if she did land on her feet, it was sixty below up there, so she would have been a popsicle and would have shattered when she hit the ground."

Cleo: "Meow."

Me: "Yes, I can accept that as punishment instead. It would be a real eye and nose-opener for her to have to fly from Denver to Anchorage in a little cage with a little tiny litter box that was always shifting around. But how do you feel about spending the rest of your life in Alaska?"

Cleo: "Purrrrrrrr...."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Siqñiq - with her around, the Arctic is always a sunny, warm, place

Look! Sun shines out through the window! From the inside to the outside. The cat that you see is Siqñiq, and Siqñiq is the Iñupiaq Eskimo word for sun.

The month of April is typically very cold in the Arctic coast village of Wainwright, Alaska. Two years ago in April, Cora Akpik made a visit to the nearest city, Barrow, 97 miles away. She learned that her grown daughter had a cat that she had been unable to care for, so she had taken it to the vet for safe keeping until it could find a new home.

Cora had never had a cat before, but she decided to make her home the cat's home.

As is the case in most of Alaska, no roads link the Arctic communities to each other and so Cora had to fly home, along with her grandchildren, Nellie and Clyde, who you see here.

The cat, who did not yet have a name, flew along in a cat carrier.

Somehow, the cat escaped from the carrier and jumped onto the back of a woman who sat in front of her. The woman did not know what kind of animal had landed on her back. All she knew is that it had fur and claws.

Cats are not common animals on the Arctic Slope. Wolverines are. For all she knew, a wolverine had just jumped on her. Polar bears are also common in the Arctic. Maybe it was a polar bear. A real tiny one - tiny, but mean. The woman screamed and screamed.

Then she discovered that it was a cat. Everything was alright after that.

After they arrived home, where Cora lives with her husband, Max, Nellie and Clyde and other children and grandchildren, she did not know what to name the gray cat.

She looked out the window. The sky was blue, cold and clear above the snow-blown tundra and the ice-covered ocean. The sun shone brightly.

"Siqñiq!" she said in Iñupiaq.

Thus, Siqñiq was named.

Everybody in the house loves Siqñiq. "She likes to play hide and seek," Nellie says. The baby, by the way, is Cara Ann. Siqñiq is also a guard cat. She sits in the window sill and studies everyone who approaches the house. When they enter the door, she scrutinizes them closely. If she detects that any of them pose a threat to Cara Ann, she attacks, leaps and rips them to shreds.

Fortunately, no one who has ever entered the house has posed any threat at all to Cara Ann. Everybody who enters loves Cara Ann. 

Siqñiq has never actually had to attack anyone.

But she scrutinizes everybody - including me.

Glad I passed!

It is expensive to feed Siqñiq. To save money over Barrow prices, the family buys her food and litter at Wal-Mart in Anchorage. From there, they fly it by jet 850 miles to Barrow and then by commuter airline to Wainwright.

Lemmings like to run around the Arctic Slope and all about the village of Wainwright. Siqñiq keeps them out of the house.


Nobody who I talked to could think of a single other cat living in Wainwright today. Siqniq may be the only one.

I did not meet any cat in Point Lay, the village that I visited just before Wainwright.

I expect to be back in the Arctic for most all of July. Anyone who wishes to follow my travels can click right here: