Life with a Celebrity Cat

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.” 
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

cheshire cat 5

Warning

The following post holds no significance whatsoever. It wasn’t designed to make you think or question anything. It promises nothing. It exists solely to make no sense at all so…if you enjoy a little nonsense now and again 

keep reading...

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If this sort of thing isn’t your thing and you are looking for some deep philosophical discussion you will not find it here, not today anyway.Check out the archives; pick out a subject from the top of the front page and dig right in. You may be surprised. 

 and so for those of you that are staying: THANK YOU.

SBI Presents   **************************************************

LIFE WITH A CELEBRITY CAT

Mario my famous cat
Mario my famous cat

I have received countless letters and emails over these last half-dozen months asking me about my famous cat Mario–inquiring about his adventures. Are there are any new loves in his life? Are there any upcoming movies he’ll be in or new albums he will be recording? Questions on his stance on the political issues of the day, you know, common stuff… he is quite the popular cat. This is not surprising, but what it surprising is that many of the letters have been directed to myself personally; asking what it feels like to live with a celebrity such as he.

Sure there are the fans, the crowds wherever he goes. Forget about going to a restaurant or to a club, he gets swamped with paparazzi and multitudes of hangers on.  All this fame isn’t easy.  It’s endless phone calls from dignitaries and captains of industry, the top people in science and medicine and of course, the well-known patrons of the arts.  We have been so busy trying to keep up with all the correspondence we hired a staff of 6 people and one really smart squirrel to handle it all.

Despite Mario’s privileged upbringing and consequent fame Mario has stayed amazingly down to earth. He enjoys the simple things in life; like sunsets and long walks on the beach, poetry and napping.

mario in box

You can just feel his charisma can’t you!. His appeal reaches through the screen and grabs you, just like that. I know.  What goes through a mind like that?!  Look at him here.., You can tell from his picture….those deep penetrating intellectual eyes.  He is poetry in slow motion–see how he stalked, hunted down and overran this common cardboard box.

Mario has claimed it for his own and has been napping in it ever since.  What prowess

I like to call him lovey boy in front of MM just to annoy him, Mario purrs extra loud and we get a great laugh out of this. That and card games. I don’t know if it’s well known but Mario was quite the card shark in his day. He played the Vegas circuit many times. He once even was kicked out of -the Bellagio for card counting.  It was then he decided to never to gamble again and devote is free time to pursue a career in film and music. Much to his credit he has not gambled since and all he ever plays for now are cat treats.

Although Mario has constant demands placed on him because of his popularity he still finds time for this napping; devoting at least 19 hours a day to this his most favorite of hobbies.  But the center of his universe remains his food dish and there I suspect it will remain.

One would think that living with a celebrity cat would be more exciting. I have been holding out hopes that some of Mario’s famous friends like George Clooney or Oprah  would drop by for a visit…

…but so far he hasn’t been up for visitors.  He amuses himself by following me around while I clean the house, do the laundry and make dinner. This is not the glamorous life I was promised…

Don’t get me wrong. Its not like we don’t have good times because we do, I mean he is not famous for nothing. He is quite the entertainer and what a master of the art of conversation. He has perfected what we call around here: The Silent Mew. It is timeless and it is amazing, oh what form he has. He is suave and graceful and lots of fun to be around.

He can be fussy and whiny and also seemingly aloof and then instantly demanding. He is a handful alright, but he is my cat and he’s alright with me.

Strawberryindigo.

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“In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” 
― Terry Pratchett
This is a Mario-stand in. The actual star of stage and screen was not available for pictures the time this was taken.
This is a Mario-stand in. The actual star of stage and screen was not available for pictures the time this was taken.

***YouTube****

Stray Cat Strut by The Stray Cats

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Shad gives black cats the love (shadthecat.wordpress.com)

I Speak for the Cats

beautiful-cat
Credit: Public Domain

What I am about to say may come as a surprise because it is quite amazing and hard to believe but true, so without much fanfare, I will just come out with it. I have an intense almost supernatural power over cats.  Yes, you heard it correctly; cats.

I know you are thinking; “Why didn’t she tell us before?” I know this is something to brag about but I am not one for self promotion.  I am a shy and reserved person in real life. I prefer to blend into the background but I do have my moments when I become quite feisty, and this is one of those moments.

I was having a deep philosophical discussion with Mario, my famous cat, as is our habit on rare idle afternoons.  He mentioned the bad press that he and his fellow felines have been getting lately; apparently a report has surfaced calling our friends the cats massive serial killers hellbent on killing every bird and mouse in their perspective neighborhoods. Mario was, of course, upset and justifiably so.  He asked me to say a few words on the behalf of the feline-kind due to my amazing ability to understand and speak cat.

I too am outraged. I have a natural affinity for cats and being quite cat-like myself, this is not only an insult on him, my beloved friend and business associate, it is an insult on me and I have taken it upon myself to speak for the cats…

Call me the cat whisperer if you will and I have something to say and this I will not whisper…I will shout it from yards, fence posts and the tops of trees: Cats are not killers!

Credit: Public Domain
Credit: Public Domain

As sophisticated and intelligent as they are, cats are animals with all the instincts for survival. They are carnivores and being as such, they like to chew on a bit of meat once in a while. For the most part our domesticated homebound pet cats are content with the food we humans provide, as you fellow cat owners I’m sure can attest to. My cats are not killers. Mario and Sunny prefer napping to killing. They are really just big babies and I will vouch for them on that…I repeat: they are no killers. Most of the culprits in these awful incidents involving birds and mice are feral cats. The poor homeless variety of cat that live on the margins of our society.  They did not ask to be there and I’m sure they would love to be provided a nice home with food and love, but these poor unfortunates have been dealt a hard hand by fate and humankind.  They have no choice but to hunt for their subsistence.

I don’t know the stats on this and I want to remain blissfully ignorant on the subject but I have to bring up the question: how many innocent animals are killed to provide subsidence to humankind?  I am a meat eater myself and I am not trying to guilt anyone into vegetarianism although I do have a great respect for our noble vegetarian and vegan friends. I am just pointing out a bit of what I think is pertinent here.

I have an intense intolerance for hypocrites. I am a very forgiving and understanding person.  I love sinners and I love reformed sinners even more but judgemental righteousness gets my dander up.

angry cat bigger
Credit: Public Domain

Sorry you had to see this side of me but I need to express my feelings on this. We as the dominant species on this planet have a duty to protect and care for those which cannot care for themselves, our beloved pets among them. So if you are considering getting a pet please do so with all the seriousness it merits. Make sure you have the room, time and resources to devote to a tiny life that will grow to love and depend on you. If you have not already done so, spay or neuter your animal. This is a crucial step in preventing any more unwanted ones, there are already too many. Another way to help is to donate to some fine organizations out there such as The Feral Cat Coalition  that is helping to protect our furry friends. And one more thing; as a favor for me, Mario, and all the other cats out there. If you hear anyone bad mouthing our feline friends; put in a good word…cats are wonderful animals and do not deserve the reputation they have.  I know they’d stick up for you.

Thanks for listening and have a purrfectly wonderful day!

Strawberryindigo. 

cropped-cat-eyes.jpg

 

Fresh Quotes: August: ANIMAL

“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.”

George Eliot

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”

St. Francis of Assisi

“Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.”

Kinky Friedman

TIME SPENT WITH CATS IS NEVER WASTED.

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight –

it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

“There is something really mysterious about lions. They could rip you apart if they wanted to, but at the same time they look so cuddly. Can you imagine what humans look like to animals? They must think we’re so weird.”
Lee Ryan

“The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.”

“The privilege of absurdity, to which no living creature is subject to but man only.”

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

George Orwell

I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.

   Hippolyte Taine

HAPPY AUGUST!

Strawberryindigo.

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Winged Jewels and Flower Kissers

Hummingbirds

I have always been entranced with Hummingbirds, those iridescent jewels of the air. They dazzle the beholder in their almost seemingly abrupt emergence from nowhere. These tiny creatures are almost magical as they perform feats of the seemingly impossible while seeking out sources of nectar in our gardens and feeders.

It always takes me by surprise every time I see one; darting across the yard, its wings going a mile a minute. I feel the quick energy emitting from its diminutive body. You can never get used to seeing such a spectacle. I am in awe of this tiny life and I cannot take my eyes off it. This sense of wonderment stays with me long after it has darted off again.

There are approximately 320 species of Hummingbird. All are New World birds; existing only in The Americas. Their range extends from Alaska to Chile with the greatest concentration living near the equator.  (See →List of Species of Hummingbirds)

History

Huitzilopochtli The Aztec Hummingbird god

Native Peoples throughout the Americas have been intrigued with Hummingbirds since the beginning. The Taíno People of The Caribbean and Florida, the first people to meet Columbus in the New World believed the Hummingbird was “The spreader of life on Earth”.  Hummingbirds became known as “Doctor birds” a name that is still used today in the West Indies.  Hummingbirds figured prominently in the religion of the Aztecs. Their most powerful god was Huitzilopochtli whose name meant Hummingbird sorcerer that spits fire.  Aztec warriors were thought to be reincarnated as these jeweled birds. Hummers also figure prominently in the lore of the Hopi Indians and the Pueblo Peoples of the arid southwest who believed the bird brought them much-needed rain.

Hummingbirds also impressed the Europeans. Tales of the winged jewels reached Europe through early naturalists such as John Lawson and John James Audubon who observed that “The Hummingbird does not shun mankind as other birds do”.

There is truth to this statement as many can attest to. Hummers are known to be intelligent creatures with excellent memories.

Awesome Aerialists

Hummingbirds are masters of hovering flight: suspending themselves stationary in the air, without the aid of wind or thermal updraft; beating their wings backward and forward at the rate of 20-80 times a second. This accounts for the bird’s namesake “humming” sound. They can instantly accelerate in any direction and even fly upside down.

Winged Jewels and Flower Kissers

Hummingbirds are pollinators and some plants have evolved for bird pollination. They have certain characteristics in common, which either attract birds or deter competitors such as bees or butterflies.

Hummingbird flowers are usually large trumpet-shaped flowers. They mostly have no scent as hummers have no sense of smell.  These birds are specialists and have developed bills for their favorites. These hummingbird flowers are found only in areas where breeding hummers have had enough time to exert selective evolutionary pressure on the plants.  The number and variety of these flowers decrease the farther north one goes.

It has been widely known that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red whether this is entirely true is up for debate. Some have suggested that the birds are blind to the blue end of the spectrum and neglect blue flowers in favor of the more visible red ones. It is known the bees, a competitor for nectar are blind to the red end of the spectrum, adding to this theory.

This has been studied with many concluding that hummers learn from trial and error which flowers offer the best sources of nectar at a given time in the season. They will go to those flowers regardless of color.

Interestingly enough most of the flowers in North America that attract hummingbirds are red. Bringing up the theory of convergent evolution, whereby a variety of plants have adopted the very same solution as in how to attract the beautiful birds.  Red stands out against a backdrop of mostly green serving as a sort of advertisement to migrating hummers so they can quickly determine sources of nectar from unfamiliar plants.

Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbirds are constantly pushing the envelope and extending their range northward. The proliferation of feeders seems to be the primary reason.  Feeders provide hummers with a rich food source while natural sources are not yet in bloom.

Some biologists view this supplemental feeding with some reservation. Feeders can expose hummers to unnatural predation, disease or other dangers. The feeders need to be kept clean and supplied with the correct sugar solution. There is no need to buy commercial mixes. Hummers get their nutrients from natural sources of nectar and from the insects they eat to supplement their diet.

Rufous hummingbird

Exert from:  Hummingbird.net

Penny Elliston, a licensed hummingbird rehabilitator, wrote about the dangers of relying too heavily on commercial mixes.

“Please, do not put honey, Jell-O, brown sugar, fruit, or red food coloring in your feeder! Honey ferments rapidly when diluted with water and can kill hummingbirds. The effects of red dye have not been not scientifically tested, and it is not necessary to color the water to attract birds to your feeder. Further, there are unverified reports that red dye can cause tumors in hummingbirds; this may or may not be true, but why take the chance?”

The recipe for artificial nectar:

  1. Use one part ordinary white cane sugar to four parts water.
  2. It’s not necessary to boil the water. The microorganisms that cause fermentation don’t come from the water; they are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills.
  3. Store unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

This mixture approximates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers favored by North American hummingbirds, without being so sweet it attracts too many insects.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Unless you are prepared to keep the feeder clean and supplied with the correct solution please do not use a feeder. Instead consider planting a hummingbird garden.

Hummingbird Gardens 

Hummingbirds need a mix of sun and shade and a source of clean water. Many of the plants that attract them also attract butterflies and beneficial insects.  Please do not use pesticides!  This will harm the birds and kill off the insects they depend on.

It is wise to find out which hummingbirds visit your area and plant accordingly.  Here is a List of plants that feed and attract Hummingbirds to get you started.

Anna’s Hummingbird

With careful observation you will get to know which plants they prefer.  The Anna’s Hummingbird’s that frequent my garden love the pineapple sage that is a stunning feature at this time of year.

The plants that attract Hummers also attract butterflies and beneficial insects. Planting a hummingbird garden is a win-win situation for all.

Conclusion

Hummingbirds, in my opinion are a wonder of nature. They are beautiful as well as strong. They are excellent fliers and never cease to amaze me.  We in the Americas should consider ourselves lucky to have these wonderful birds.  Flower kissers, winged gems, rays of the sun or just plain hummers; whatever you call them, I call these iridescent jewels of the sky SPECTACULAR.

Strawberryindigo.

References and suggested reading:

Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden” © 2004 by Catherine J. Johnson, Susan McDiarmid and Edward R. Turner

“The World of the Hummingbird” © 1999 by Harry Thurston

Hummingbird Images-Copyright free

World of Hummingbirds (Website)

Hummingbirds.net (Website)

The New Face of Friskies

MARIO

I don’t have a lot going on right now so I have become my cat’s agent.  It’s not what you think, I am not crazy or anything…it was his idea.  He’s a very ambitious cat, a real go getter. It’s no wonder he’s famous here locally.    And I guess it’s no wonder that his ambitions are leading him to bigger and better things.

He has spoken to me of his plans, well meowed them to me on many occasions, usually late at night after too much cat nip. He has dreams, that’s for sure but who doesn’t?  I want to be a writer someday.  My cat wants to be a star of stage and screen.   I’m sure you have hopes and dreams too, so I know you understand that we sensitive artist types need to follow our dreams and thus I have not only encouraged him, I have become his agent.

A big part of this important and highly coveted job is the ability to think outside of the box, come up with excellent ideas and have the where-with-all to follow through. I pride myself on my common sense and intellect which I think makes me the perfect sort to promote an animal act.

9 Lives has Morris the cat who the company touts as the most famous cat in the world, that may be true for now but I think that Morris is all washed up, he’s out of date, I mean how old can a cat get?  And those meow mix cats, all that constant mewing….cat’s don’t really do that.

What we need is a more realistic, more with-it , a now kind of cat. A cat for today. A spokescat that truly speaks to today’s generation.

That’s where Mario comes in. He and I both agree that he would be the purrfect choice to be the “The New Face of Friskies”

Is this the New Face of Friskies?

I know many of you have already been introduced to Mario, I also know a great many of you have joined his fan club and some of you have even attended a few of his lectures. So I don’t need to remind you of his magnetic presence, engaging personality, sharp wit and striking good looks.  I mean who would be better for this?

 “He certainly LOVES his Friskies and he eats quite a lot of it. That is why is he has a shiny and luxurious coat and such beautiful bright eyes.”

Now it’s up to me to convince The Friskies Corporation.

Realistically, I don’t see much of a problem there. That is more than apparent.  Once the executives at Friskies meet with Mario they will be putty in his paws.  He will be writing his own check and you can take that to the bank.  He is bound for greatness and really there’s nothing stopping him….

I Love Friskies!

…and this is only the beginning. First it will be commercials, then guest spots on popular TV shows, then maybe a little off Broadway and a few feature films and before you know it, he’ll be winning Oscars and I’ll be sitting at home like a bump on a log watching it all on the small screen and eating a frozen dinner all by myself while he lives the good life in Hollywood.

We’ve had long talks about this very thing. I am afraid the bright lights of “The Big City” will lure him away and change him forever. Maybe he’ll lose himself in a dark downward spiral of drugs and corruption.  Maybe he’ll run with a fast crowd who’ll only want him for his fame and lifetime supply of Friskies (Seafood Sensations flavor, please)

He assures me this won’t happen and he does seem to have a good head on his shoulders, he is the smartest one in the house.  I guess I can’t hold him back. I will miss the little guy but I know that someone who is that special cannot be kept back home on the farm….

…and so when I’m at home in a tattered old bathrobe watching The Oscars I’ll be cheering him on and I know you will too…he’s that kind of cat.

Strawberryindigo.

Suggested Links and Related Articles:

Mario

•  Mario The Magnificent

•  Morris website

•  Creepy meow mix cats

Friskies Launches iPad Game That Lets Humans Play Against Cats (shoppingblog.com)

The curse of the cat people

Hello

On a recent rainy Sunday I had the occasion to drop by the International Cat show appearing at a local motor hotel.

This wasn’t my first time at this particular Holiday Inn.  It’s the place this crazy city chooses to put on some of the cheaper and more tacky events. I had last been here several years ago, for a bad art show and this day, this rainy Sunday reminded me of bad art.

M.M and I with teenage daughter in tow arrived about noon or so.  The parking lot was packed, but by the grace of the good parking lot fairy, a miracle in the form of a departing minivan left a gap and MM masterfully grabbed it.  I took this as a sign of good fortune in this year of the dragon and as soon as we landed I hydroplaned across the slick parking lot and almost ran right into a red VW bus full of hippies and cat people.

This I took as a sign of my utter stupidity and it wasn’t until I heard the frantic mewing that I stopped in my tracks….what was that?  I listened, MM listened and so did our daughter…The parking lot was full of frantic cat cries…”Is that where the losers go?”  Back to a locked car and who knows what?

After passing several nervous smokers we finally hit the front gate and into the show proper.  We received our ballots with instructions on the voting.  The winning cat gets 1000 bucks.. what does a cat do with 1000 dollars? I did not know until I saw it…..

What is it?  Good question.  It is a scene of utter foolishness and fools parting with their money.  Rows upon rows of kitty condo cages crammed together, all customized I guess, according to each cat’s personality. Some of the cages proudly displayed an elaborate ribbon or two declaring their superiority. In each deluxe luxury unit lie a cat, flaked out and asleep surrounded by an array of cat accessories the likes I have never seen.  These cats were tired and worn-out like overdone starlets sleeping it off in the lap of luxury. Who knows how long before they end up frantically mewing in a locked car in the parking lot out there with the others.

 Just keep those ribbons coming Fluffy…… 

The owners of the cats seemed to be living quite a different life. Many of them hovered around their charge, eyeing each other and everyone who came near, seeing them as a potential threat. Don’t even think about trying to pet a cat.  That is a strict no-no to the nth degree.

Never under any circumstances should you ever attempt to make any physical contact with any of the cat contestants.

This is the supreme sin in cat shows and we were reminded of that constantly.

Most of the cat owners were middle-aged women wearing ugly cat shirts and nervous stressed out faces.  Many of them were eating foul-smelling chinese takeout that seemed to mix with the odor of cats to create an atmosphere I will never quite get over or explain.

Every few minutes or so an annoying man with a microphone and a raspy voice would cut through the roar of the crowd and shout out a number, calling up the next contestant.  A harried backstage mother/owner would then jump up, frantically brush the cat and rush up to the stage while warning the onlookers out of the way by repeating over and over:

 “Make room for people holding cats, make room for people holding cats.”

Pity the poor spectator who got in the way; these women meant business. I hate to admit it but some of them made me a wee bit nervous, especially the big ones.

I made my way past the harried and through the endless rows of cages to view and perhaps meet with a few contestants.  Some of the more ambitious ones were out stirring up the crowd and posing for pictures.

We toured the entire circuit and I was afraid that I wouldn’t find a cat worthy of my vote for the 1000 dollar prize.

It was the high-pitched squeals that first alerted me, the kind some little girls and some bigger ones make upon presentation of something so unbelievably cute, and how…I joined the chorus of girly oohs and aahs as soon as I spied the cutest kitten there has ever been in all kittenkind. I realize the seriousness in that statement and I’m telling you cat lovers out there that it’s true and anyone in attendance would definitely agree.  This kitten in all its kitten glory with its soft fuzzy spotted fur let out a silent mew that literally drove one woman to tears.

“I wasn’t ready for such cuteness.” she exclaimed as her wary boyfriend looked on.

This was one of the more surreal moments that will stick in my mind for some time to come. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it strange, I did. It was that I completely understood and was feeling a bit overwhelmed myself. The kitten was that cute. It was so cute that I neglected to take a picture of it. It was at that very moment that confirmed what I have really known all along…

These are my people..I am one of these cat people…..

I broke out of the crowd and made my way to the very back.  Littered along the edges were tables with various vendors selling their various cat trinkets for various sums of money that seemed all too much for me.  I visited each table and exhibit feigning interest and looking like a potential sap.

I stopped and watched a woman spinning yarn out of cat fur.  She seemed nice and quite normal except for the fact that she was making cat yarn.  She told me about the ups and downs of the day and how no one seemed to be buying her sweaters…

 yes… cat fur sweaters….

I politely excused myself by mumbling something about the world’s tallest cat and how I must find it. After all it was the headliner….

The world’s tallest cat! Wow!

I wandered around until I found the biggest crowd. It took some doing to get inside the circle and see what all the fuss was about. I ended up crawling under everyone but it was worth it because there it was!  The world’s tallest cat!  It resembled a smallish cheetah and it looked bored.  I couldn’t fully appreciate its incredible tallness because it was sitting down.  I crawled along the very ugly carpet and snapped a few pics… I’m glad I did because then suddenly my camera went buggy and refused to take anymore pictures.  This was terrible…At a cat show?!

I must admit now that I came here not exclusively because of my love for cats.  I came here to find weird-looking cats and take pictures of them so I could write about the weirdness. Now fate forced me to slow down and realize that I had yet to find a really strange-looking cat, most appeared pretty normal and even the one’s with the squished faces were sort of appealing.

We had about exhausted the place anyway and we all admitted that we were eager to leave to get home to our own cats…Mario, the black and white  and Sunny, the Calico.  They are the winners in my book and I give my vote to the both of them.  Too bad that doesn’t win the $1000………

Mario catnapping

Have a purrfect day full of catnip and naps.

Strawberryindigo.

Wild Sanctuary

Ruby-throated hummingbird public domain USFWAImage via Wikipedia

This morning I was rewarded with a moment lovely in its simplicity and rich in the beauty of life.  I watched for several minutes a Ruby throated hummingbird darting in and out of the pineapple sage. It’s tiny wings flapping at amazing speed, visiting each colorful stalk, drinking in the nectar of the brilliant scarlet flowers.  Hummingbirds are some of my favorite garden visitors.  These last days of October are a flurry of activity by humans as well as our animal friends in the wild and the not so wild.

I spent much of this beautiful day in the garden.  I find peace here working with Mother Nature.  I feel part of a greater whole that fills me with a calm serenity that is electric and full of life.

That is my garden to me.  I call it my sanctuary and it truly is.  I share my sanctuary with a few humans but mostly I share it with a cornucopia of lifeforms, from the smallest microbe in the soil to the squirrels and the birds and butterflies.  This place is truly alive.

I have spent the better part of a decade planting and shaping this place.  I have made my share of mistakes but I have learned from them. It is much easier in the long run to work with nature than against it.  Some believe that when a gardener welcomes wildlife into the garden, he or she is asking for troublesome pests as well as pretty butterflies. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Nature exists in balance, Mother Nature provides to all; predator and prey.  A garden in balance is in harmony with all.  By working with nature we reap many benefits and so do the wild lifeforms that visit our yards.  There is much we can do and every little bit helps.

My garden is teeming with life and it is by no accident.  My obsession with plants is deep and true. I must have hundreds upon hundreds of types and kinds that spring up throughout the year.  Many are native plants to my region which is the Pacific Northwest. Many are flowers that are appealing to bees and insects and nectar rich providing food for hummingbirds and others.

I see it as my mission as a gardener, as a lover of the land and nature to do my small part in helping the flora and fauna of our fantastic planet.  In this I feel that my garden is not only a sanctuary to me but to many.  Urban gardens can provide a refuge for many species that have been forced out of their natural habitats.  Our wild areas are vanishing  and we gardeners have a huge role to play.  Our urban and not so urban gardens link up making a larger habitat for wildlife.

No space is too small.  A potted plant on a back patio or a window box planted with the right plant can provide food all year.

No effort is too small.  There are many ways to help. It can be as easy or as complicated as you choose.  Typically wildlife have three basic needs, the essentials;  shelter, water and food.

Three Essentials For Wildlife

Shelter

   A large Evergreen shrub can provide shelter for many species as can other types of plant life such as climbers.  A pile of logs or rocks can serve as shelter to many ground dwelling species. Leave a bit of leaf litter on the ground to protect overwintering insects.  Simply leaving a wild corner of the yard can help.

Water

Water is essential for all life but it can become a scarce commodity for wildlife in the city. A pond or bird bath can spell welcome relief for the thirsty. A plastic plant saucer with a few stones on the bottom filled with clean water could be a lifeline for many.

Food

Use plants native to your particular region.  Create biodiversity with as many varieties as possible. There are a number of plant species that provide food for wildlife.  From nectar to pollen to seeds and berries.  Once a flower has bloomed, typically gardeners remove the spent seedhead.  This also removes a valuable winter food source for birds. A bit of untidiness in the garden is no crime, in fact a more natural appearance can be quite comely and you will be rewarded time and time again with the wonder of nature beckoning at your back door.

Butterfly
Image by Travelling Steve via Flickr

Happy Gardening!

Strawberryindigo.

                

References and suggested reading

  • Planthropology: The myth, mysteries, and miracles of my garden favorites.  Ken Druse ©2008.
  • Create a wildlife garden. Christine and Michael Lavelle ©2007
  • Attracting birds, butterflies and other winged wonders to your backyard. Kris Wetherbee ©2004

Blue-eyed cat update: The return of Jacky

A blue-eyed stranger came to us this past July, we named him Jacky and he’s quite the cat.  I’ve written of him before, this blue-eyed handsome cat and how he came to live with us.  Much has happened since I last wrote of him. Jacky is turning out to be such an amazing cat, so amazing in fact I think he merits an update…

When last I wrote of him, Jacky was living in two houses, torn between myself and a foul-mouthed harpy down the street I’ve been calling Sally.  Jacky would spend days with me in the garden, playing and napping and eating some good cat food.   At night he would return to Sally.  We had this unspoken shady agreement  between us.  I don’t think she liked it anymore than I did, but there it was.

Untill one night about two or three weeks ago.  Jacky spent the night in the studio, curled up into a cute white furry ball on my writing chair.  I left him there, and when I returned in the morning, he was still there asleep.

I was pleased but I didn’t think much of it.  Jacky is a bit of a rogue and a wanderer. He’s there one moment , gone the next.  Except this time he didn’t go, he stayed with me all day, following me around as I watered the flowers.  That night, again he stayed and he has stayed every night since.

I know this sounds crazy but I think he is fascinated with water, running water.  He prefers to drink out of our leaky bath tap.  You can hear him jump in the bathtub: Plop.  Sometimes he knocks over the shampoo. Sometimes he surprises me in the middle of the night. Every time he gets his sweet little face all wet and every time he is so cute!   I know we should fix the drip, but how can we now?

I really knew this cat loved water when I was watering my lawn the other morning with a sprinkler and he was gingerly drinking from the arc of the spray.  What a cat!

Jacky, our nutty feline also loves to go for walks with his favorite humans.  Whenever M.M. takes the old pug out, Jacky tags along, trailing behind, intrigued with the whole process.  He never wants to be left out on all the fun.  He waits on the front porch, sunning himself and the moment any one of us steps out, he’s there.  He walks ahead of us and then proceeds to roll all over the ground wiggling all over the place.   He is  very irresistible when he does this and we have to stop and pet him.

We go out on special walks, just he and I.  We don’t go far, just around the block but it gives us just enough time to get into some pretty deep conversations.  I would ask him his opinion about this and that; The economy, global warming,  whether I’m too old to color my hair purple or we should take advantage of these historic low rates and refinance the house.  He just meows at me but I get his message.  He’s a pretty smart cat.

Really, he is smart, he sits and watches me make dinner every night now. He just sits on top of a high stool and stares intently. It’s as if he is trying to memorize everything I am doing so he can do it later.  Maybe one morning he will surprise us with breakfast.  He certainly is full of surprises.

Jacky has gained some weight and is getting a belly, but he still is in top shape. I have to give it to Mr. Friskies for that. I am not endorsing anything, the Friskies company is not paying me a dime, but I must say without a doubt, Since I’ve been feeding him the “seafood sensations” Jacky’s coat is so soft and luxurious and so white.  He is also the most muscular cat I’ve ever encountered. I guess it’s all the exercise he gets, walking and skillfully hunting moths by moonlight.

I think moths are attracted to him because he literally glows in the dark.  He sits under the light and the moths come to him.  What a trippy cat. Jacky has definitely made life around here more interesting.

Hope you have an adorably “purrfect” day.

Strawberryindigo.

Moonlight Write

I was restless in the wee hours so I decided it would be the perfect time for some night writing.  I stepped out into the darkness.  There is a certain quietness at night that I like to curl up with.  The night is solemn, it’s still and penetrating.  I can do much pondering at night. It is empty enough for me to feel the oneness of everything and I feel connected to it.  I walked down the long sidewalk and into the studio.

The usual suspects, Mario, Jacky and Sunny, were already on the scene.  Mario sat atop his perch on the desk, Sunny planted herself in the night garden and Jacky was sleeping in my chair.

I write in a converted garage that’s quite nice.  It has cherry paneling and two skylights.  It’s located at the south end of the garden under a tall pine tree.  It’s really more of an office but we call it the studio.  This is where all the magic begins. Ha Ha. Well, I like it.  It is the perfect place to write.

Jacky
The famous Mario

The cats think it is the perfect place to nap and Jacky has taken a liking to my chair.  We have to arm-wrestle for it daily and he usually wins.  He’s very muscular.  Mario likes to sit atop the desk. Sunny; she’s her own cat and wildly independent.  She likes to spend most of her nights in the cool air outside.

Sunny at night

Jacky is a recent addition to our family.  It can be difficult introducing a new pet to the household.  Adding to that the fact that Jacky is almost full-grown and a male.  Mario was the ruler of the roost before Jacky came and there has been some tense moments.  Mario feels a little put out and perhaps jealous, as well.  Jacky is trying to find his place.  I know he wants to fit in and as time goes on, he’s doing just that.

“The Boys” ( Mario and Jacky) have been spending time together and I can just tell that someday they’ll be the best of buddies.  Sunny on the other hand, still hisses at Jacky once in a while.  I hate to say this but Sunny can be a little testy.  We love her but she doesn’t have the best of temperaments.  M.M. has nicknamed her “The Rat Mole”,  A name that has stuck.  She also is known by Santino or Sunny two-tones because she is a Calico.

I have just come the strange realization that all three cats have gangster names.  Mario, Jacky and Santino. This may mean something, I will have to ponder this…

Just as I am pondering, I hear a sound of rustling in the bushes.  It is loud and I and the cats freeze.  The two boys and I slowly creep out of the studio to investigate.

We see them and they see us.  It takes me a minute before I realise that there are six of them.  They are raccoons and they are so cute.  I know they are wild but they seem so cuddly.  The closest raccoon looked at me right in the eyes.  It seemed to be asking me for something.  I began to speak to the raccoon in the soft sing-song voice I reserve for animals and babies.

The raccoon inched closer, I think I could have lured it in the house.  It seemed so tame. It seemed to be fascinated with me talking to it.  It inched even closer,  all of a sudden I get tense, I back up right into a potted plant. I let out a small sound of surprise and the raccoons scatter into the night.  I curse my clumsiness and gaze into the darkness.  It’s just as well.

I laugh as I think of the look M.M. would give me If I brought a raccoon into the house.  He already thinks I’m crazy, but it just might be a lunatic he’s looking for.

Hoping you find what you’re looking for….Strawberryindigo.

Blue eyed Handsome Cat 2

Now for epic conclusion to Blue eyed Handsome Cat..

Jacky was counting on me, I couldn’t let him down.   I couldn’t just sit there and allow these crazy people to take Jacky.  I didn’t want to start a neighborhood war over this, especially from the loud crazy neighbors with the totally ironic last name.  Over the years these neighbors had created quite the reputation for themselves. (THAT is quite another story I must share with you in the future).  Lets say for now that I feared for Jacky’s well-being.

I considered keeping Jacky in the house forever but I knew that wasn’t the way.  Jacky’s a free spirit and locking him up would be impractical and frankly, I think a bit cruel. Jacky mewed at the door, I let him out.  I hoped he would return.

M.M, seeing how bothered I was, went over to the ironically named neighbors and spoke the most level-headed one.  We call her Marilyn after Marilyn Munster. (From the old T.V show)  She seems so normal but I know better.  No one could be normal and live there. Well, M.M. is a diplomat to say the least… he found out that Sally was the only one who wanted the cat.  Marilyn, her mother and the matriarch of the family, did not.  She said; “Have the cat, we don’t want it.”

I was ecstatic at the news, it was so much easier than I thought….or so I thought.

Jacky didn’t return.  Five days passed.  I asked around the neighborhood, Marilyn had not seen Jacky, no one had.  I feared that Jacky’s friendly and trusting nature had gotten him into trouble. I looked and looked for him, to no avail.  I  wished that I hadn’t let myself get so attached so fast.  I kept up appearances though.  I told my family that Jacky was fine and that he was having an adventure somewhere and he would be back any day.

I had a bad feeling, I was convinced that I’d never see that white cat again.  I looked out the window, as I had been doing a lot of lately, this time I didn’t expect to see him, I was giving up hope and then there he was.. he was in the street, he looked confused and out of it.  He was sniffing the ground like animals do when lost.  I could tell from a lifetime of experience with cats that he had been in a car and had just been deposited there in the street.

He saw me and ran to the front door, I let him in.  A flurry of meows escaped his little cat mouth.  He was a bit skinnier and he looked dirty but there he was in all his cat glory.  He also was sporting a cheap plastic collar with gaudy glitter all over it, attached was a metal tag:  Hastily scratched into the metal was the word Lucky, underneath was an address..The address was  familiar.. very familiar.

I knew right away what had happened.  I thought back and remembered that I had not seen Sally or her old green van for a while, about the same length of time I hadn’t seen Jacky…

Sally.. of course it was her, she had taken poor Jacky somewhere in her stupid van, And stupid me had believed them.  I am so naive sometimes. The problem remained, We both wanted Jacky.  I believed that I should have him since  he would be so much happier at my house… I also thought that Jacky agreed…he did somewhat.

Jacky also had built quite the reputation in the neighborhood: He was a friendly sort. The cute little girls next door called him snowball, the blonde teenager across the street called him princess.  The people around the block knew him as buttercup and I suppose Sally had named him Lucky.  Everyone thought he was a girl cat, I guess because he is so pretty, they just assumed.  I know enough to look…and what to look for…..enough said on that.

I took off the collar and the metal tag and put them on the mantle, that wasn’t the best idea, looking back on it… Sometimes I get so bull-headed thinking I ‘m right when sometimes….

Jacky had eaten his fill and slept for a couple of days and he was ready to go out.  I let him out the back door and into the garden.  He like all the other cats in the area, instantly fell in love with the place. It’s a cat’s paradise back there… he explored and then found a nice cool spot in the back..behind a tall fern.  He settled in for a nap.   Jacky stuck around for a couple more days, hanging out in the garden, sleeping and hunting moths under the back porch light.

Jacky's off on another adventure.

And then, he was gone. He went out the side gate. I was sure he would come back, He’s so happy here, I thought, he even grins at me when I pet him.  I walked through the side myself, past the multitudes of potted plants in a long long driveway,  I could see a shock of white, running..”Here we go again.”  I said out loud to myself… this time though, it was different.  Instead of Jacky, my Jacky, running toward me.. he was running over to HER?!

This cannot be. What is going on?  Why is he going over to her? I was to say the very least, flabbergasted, I was beside myself.  Then when I saw the boy, the little boy, the crazy neighbor’s kid and I guess, Sally’s son, he was calling the cat and running around.  Sally was beside him and she was actually smiling… Jacky went up to them and started rolling around on the ground, in that adorable way he does.  She, Sally, the one I had watched for years, go into red-faced rages and screaming fits in the street at night, this Sally who let her kids run wild and swore like a sailor.  She stroked his white fur with a gentleness I had never seen in her before.

The boy ran around and then in an instant, Jacky was up on his feet and running.. with the boy, back and forth across the tall weeds that make up their front yard.  The boy was laughing and so was Sally.  Jacky, I think he was smiling too.

I learned much that day.  About Sally, about boys and cats.  I learned the most about me….

 Some time has passed and Sally and I and of course Jacky have made some compromises.  The gaudy collar stays on but the tag stays off.  Jacky goes wherever Jacky wants to go.  Which has turned out to be nights with her, days with me.

Everyone seems a little happier since Jacky’s arrival, now that the dust has settled and I am just beginning to learn about Jacky.  He is a special one.  He has been going on walks with me as of late, he follows me like a dog.  Trotting along, never minding the noises of humans, their machines or their dogs. He is quite the brave traveler.   We’ve been gaining some notice around the neighborhood for our walks, maybe I’m creating a bit of a reputation myself.

Strawberryindigo.

Off we go!

Blue eyed handsome cat

Have you ever met someone who just appeared in your life, as if out of thin air and acted like they knew you forever.  It’s like they we’re just sort of deposited on your front porch and poof…They’d always been there?  Well, with Jacky it’s like that.  I guess I should let you know that Jacky is a cat.  A remarkable cat, that’s for sure.

We first met him on the third of July.  He impressed me by his friendliness, he seemed to really like us.  He made M.M. his first acquaintance, which is not surprising. what was so surprising was his intensity.  At that time, we of course did not have a name for him, or even knew he was an him.  Let’s call him “that cat” for now.

I will give him this; he is an attractive animal, that cat.  He is white with  honey cream-colored markings on this head and tail.  His bright azure eyes truly are striking.  He makes quite the picture.

We had just returned from a much-needed vacation.  We were away for five days. He must have appeared on the scene during that time.  It was late afternoon and my nerves were on edge.  Sudden booms, it’s like World War Three around there on the third of July. I needed a distraction…and there he was, a shock of white, running across the street away from the crazy neighbors screeching kid.  He looked scared out of his wits.  I knew I must help him.

I enlisted the help of M.M..  We braved the artillery together (How sweet)  M.M. sang out “Here, Kitty, Kitty…”  The cat looked at him and ran to him for dear life, not even slowing a bit to look behind him.  M.M. scooped him up like it was nothing and the cat instantly relaxed.  We took him inside.

Luckily, It being the day it was.  Our two cats who off hiding in the bushes nowhere to be found.  And except for the old pug, there was no other animal around to make the cat feel unwelcome.

It's nap time

The humans adored him instantly.  My daughter, who is thirteen and a devout cat lover, squealed in delight.  My son, who’s a bit older, was a little cooler about the cats appearance, but  I could tell he was intrigued. I being who I am, knew that the cat was new in the neighborhood.  We asked around and one of our saner neighbors told us the cat had been hanging around for days,  everyone had a name for her, (He thought the cat was a her)  but no one wanted her.  His own kids wanted the cat but he was allergic, he suggested I keep her.  Knowing what a sucker I am for cats.

We fed him friskies and he was ours.

He slept for days, waking only to eat and drink water out of the bathroom tap.  I guess he’s one of those, I’d seen cats like that before.  I had one once that was fascinated by water, couldn’t get enough of it…it was the first of his many quirks that time would reveal.  The days passed without a lot going on.  My crazy neighbors were out-of-town and a calm descended over the ‘hood.

The four of us deliberated during that time and my son came up with Jack Daniels, yes he did…  To me, he looked like a Jacky.  We settled on Jacky, Daniels being his official last name, told to those on a need to know basis.(aka his friends at school.)

Our two cats were suspicious to say the least.  Mario didn’t know what was going on.  I know he felt bad.  He just sulked for days, sleeping under the desk in the office.  Poor Mario.  Sunny, or as she is known; Santino, kept her cool and out-of-the-way.

Everything started to return to normal. Mario perked up and Santino stayed herself. The crazy neighbors had returned, I could hear them screaming, as I said, everything was returning to normal.  Except for one thing.  I could hear a voice… it was….”Here Kitty Kitty, Here Lucky”  Who’s Lucky?  I thought and dismissed it from my mind.

Jacky stayed out all night, we didn’t see him all morning and then…the screetching, the kids.. it’s all happening again… And there’s Jacky, a shock of white running away from the crazy neighbor’s kid and right toward me.  I scooped him up and stroked his fur.  He was freaked out, poor thing and he was hungry, he ate, drank the water from the leaky tap and settled in to sleep.

This might become a problem, I thought… I was right.

The next morning while I was watering my roses, the crazy neighbor’s much older kid, let’s call her Sally, comes up to me and asks me if I’ve been feeding that white cat.  I reply without beating an eyelash, “You mean the cat we adopted?”  She looked as stern as you can be and I must admit, I was a bit scared.  She’s a bigger girl than I am.  Plus I’m a big chicken.  This did not show though, I’m good at that.  I didn’t know what happened to her. (her again)  She breaks out in a fragment of a sentence.  I return a fragment myself..

It was one word.  Turmoil.  “What”?  She asks, confused.  I yell, “Turmoil!!  And walk away.. this could get ugly.  I start to regret taking the cat in and then I think…He is counting on me to save him from them.   I must help him.  The cute little guy with his charming debonair smile.  I can’t let him down….

Stay tuned for the conclusion….

next time

next cat channel.

Strawberryindigo.

Scary Birds

Scary Birds

Here I am in this cage with these birds, these colorful winged monsters flying around and over my head, chirping with their angry little greedy beaks.  One particularly aggressive bird swoops down and steals a tiny white cup of nectar of a chubby fisted toddler, who starts to cry.  I become even more nervous…

I am at the zoo with my daughter, I did my best at hiding my horror when she mentioned wanting to visit the lorikeet’s.  She called them cute little birds, I call them flying demons from hell.  Not wanting to disappoint her and most importantly, not to look like a big chicken in front of my kid, I agreed and came here of my own free will.  I even shelled out a dollar for a cup of nectar.

Once inside the cage, I told myself lies to calm myself.  Lies that rationalized the whole thing.  Why would the zoo people put us in danger?  I look around, lots of families and children.  Everyone else seems O.K. with it.

After all I am an animal lover… And then the carnage begins.

Did I mention the sounds these birds make?  Horrible screeching, their noise echoes throughout the enclosure.  I am going into sensory overload which brings on a panic attack.  My heart races, I start to sweat and all of a sudden, I feel dizzy and sick.  I look around, everyone is having fun, no one notices my white knuckled fear.  It is all I can do to keep up appearances as a calm rational adult human being.  It soon becomes too much as a have to duck incoming artillery.  I don’t want to be stuck walking around with bird shit on my head.

As I said , I am an animal lover.  I have pets. I talk to squirrels and raccoons.  I have even contributed to Greenpeace.  But honestly, this is too much…I have to get out…Right now…

So we leave the nest of the wretched and to my amazement, my daughter never noticed how scared I was in that cage with those scary birds, a big chicken like me.  I smile.

We proceed to the polar bears.  One of my favorites, They seem so soft and cuddily…they would probably maul me if I tried to hug one though.  I know I must keep my affections at a save distance and I admire their awesome strength and grace.

Come on in, the water's fine.

As the day goes on and we see more and more of what the zoo has to offer, the hellish images of what transpired earlier have vanished from my mind. 

We see the silly penguins march around and watch the playful otters swim to and fro. The tall giraffes seem so lofty and majestic, the elephants look like wrinkled old wise men and the big cats nap in the afternoon sun.  Except one, she paces.

What a striking animal.  Full of beauty and grace but also full of raw animal power.  Watch out!

We visit the apes and the monkey’s too.  I look for my wee buddy, the Pygmy Marmoset, he is nowhere to be found.  And where are the Sun Bears and the Tigers and the Black Rhino?

“They are all sleeping” volunteers the zoo keeper, who amazingly can hear my thoughts.  Sounds like a good idea,  A nice relaxing late afternoon nap.  I could use that after this long but fruitful day.

sunset stripe
A beautiful end to a long day

 Strawberryindigo.