Mocha’s School of Kick Ass Mousing

Riding on the cat tails of his recent success in catching a little mouse in our apartment our cat Mocha is now holding weekend seminars in our storage closet intended to teach his fellow cats and other interested parties how to succeed in the exciting world of mousing and competitive catting.
I told him this wouldn’t work and I am eating my words as he is now booked well into July. This is crazy. He has no formal training or licence. I am afraid this is all gone to his head and its already costing me money. He has had business cards made , a website designed and has hired a couple of neighborhood cats and my own daughter to assist him, all with my credit card!

He says not to worry “baby”, yes he called me baby!

He said that once his school gets going he will be making the “big bucks”and that he’ll be so successful that he will be able to pay me back with “a gazillion percent interest” so that I never will have to work again.¬† Seriously, he told me this.

ūüėÄ

Heard that story before….

Wish me luck..

~SBI

The New Adventures of MochaCat

 

 

Introducing Mocha

 

The hippest most right on cat in Portland. He’s dark, he’s smoooooth, he’s so cool.

We adopted him through an agency that helps find homes for homeless mom cats and their soon to be born kittens. They were great, they gave him all his shots and were very helpful in giving us care instructions.

 

What they didn’t say was that Mocha is no ordinary cat, not by any means.

Never have I seen a kitten jump so high, or run so fast. Never have I encountered such a keen intellect in a cat his age. He is only three months old but reads at a sixth grade level.

He is witty and charming but has a bit of a temper. And whatever you do, don’t trust him with your marbles as he is bound to steal them and put them in your shoes for you to discover later.

I don’t know who his mother was exactly. The adoption agency won’t tell me. I have a feeling she was born of noble blood and so was Mocha by the size of his ego and of his bank account. I didn’t know that kittens came with their own stock portfolio’s but apparently this one does. Once we took him home he immediately got on the phone and called his broker and then his accountant. I didn’t know cats had accountants.

I have a feeling that Mocha is money obsessed and it’s not good for him. He is a bit artificial and frankly snobby with the other cats that have come by and welcomed him to the neighborhood.

And he keeps buying things! ¬†Like fancy pet furniture and cases of canned Mackerel. I don’t know where to put it all.

He goes down everyday to Starbucks and gets himself the Vente size Java Chip at Starbucks, he loves it there. And they love him!  They have named a drink after him, just shows how persuasive he is!

In fact he is paying me to write this fascinating and favorable post about him. Money does talk and since I am temporarily unemployed the money comes in handy. So watch for more stories about his antics. Maybe next time we can find out how he got such a silly name.

 

 

~nlm

 

Adventures in Mocha

 

Tuxedo Mocha Frappuccino

 

Mocha Quotes 

The voodoo priest and all his powders were as nothing compared to espresso, cappuccino, and mocha, which are stronger than all the religions of the world combined, and perhaps stronger than the human soul itself.

Mark Helprin

The modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top

Sarah Vowell
Mocha Cheesecake Bites
Mocha Pancakes With Mocha Syrup

 

Cats in Space

 

cat-my_god_it's_full_of_stars space cats funny

This is a scene from the upcoming musical remake of the Science Fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. It features an all-star all cat cast and is directed by and stars my famous feline Mario. ¬†I know what you are thinking: How can a cat direct a movie? ¬†I thought that myself at first but when he explained to me that he had attended “directoring school” ¬†in one of his previous nine lives and that he was, and I quote, “Golden” ¬† I felt he may be onto something. I mean he isn’t famous for nothing.

 

I had the impression from him that this would be easy but it has been anything but easy. ¬† ¬†Cats never do what you want them to do, even the so called “professionals”. ¬†They are demanding and picky. The cast members would send me out for tuna sandwiches and almost every single time they were dissatisfied with the quality of the fish and would meow mercilessly until I returned to the restaurant and demanded better. Half the delis in town thought I was a nut.

tuna cat

These actor types, what prima donnas…and the director himself you ask? ¬†What a hot head. He was driven by some sort of vision but what that vision was, I had no idea.

Mario had no sympathy for me and no time. ¬†Whenever I tried to talk any reason with him he would suddenly get¬†up from his easy chair and utter in his heavily accented husky voice: “This conversation can serve no purpose anymore, goodbye”¬†and sashay out.

 

The power has gone to his head I tell you. ( He’s gone quite mad you know) ¬†

cat dance 1

 

Mario would stay¬†up late at night practicing his dance moves and sing old bawdy sailor tunes from his past life as a ship’s cat. My goodness, those songs can get raunchy. The neighbors complained. The police have been out several times due to the loud music and the gang of mewing groupie cats that sit outside on the front lawn at all hours stupefied on what I think was very potent catnip.

 

space cat face

Seriously I had my doubts. I mean the whole thing was filmed in our backyard and most of the sets were imaginary. ¬†I was never allowed back there during filming. I would go to the side gate and leave the tuna sandwiches. I had no idea…but it just goes to show why my Mario is as famous as he is…

 

cat space burger

 

The advance reviews have been “stellar”. I don’t get it, but the critics loved it. ¬†I hear it is a “tour de farce” and a “cinematic meowsterpiece”. I can’t believe it but my cat’s movie will premier at the Canne Film Festival.

It’s just goes to show that you never know and don’t¬†doubt the dreamer until you see the fruition of a dream.

~NLM

 

Pink Floyd Echoes and 2001 A Space Odyssey 

(Pink Floyd Echoes synchronized with 2001 A Space Odyssey – Jupiter and Beyond The Infinite. 720p version.)

 

 

A Befriending of Crows

The morning sun shines in stripes through the slats in the blinds and onto the wooden floor. There is a golden hue to the light at this time of year. I see a squirrel bounding across the yard looking around for a nut or two to store away for the quickly approaching winter but you wouldn’t know it from today’s weather. ¬†There is a slight chill to the air but the sun feels warm and welcoming. I step out onto the front porch, plastic bag in my hand. I pick a few peanuts (in the shell, unsalted of course) and toss them high in the air and onto the walkway that leads to the sidewalk. Immediately a black crow swoops down to the neighbor’s tree. It waits until I am inside then it swoops down again but this time it is right on the walkaway. It goes right for a nut and so does it’s partner. They both get a good grip with their beaks then it’s off to parts unknown across the street and behind the neighbors house.

 

I throw a few more nuts and the fun continues. We are joined by a pair of Scrub Jays. One squawks high atop the ornamental cherry tree broadcasting it’s new-found bounty. It hops down and captures a nut or two before the crows return. It is more timid and unsure of itself but is the first to see the three nuts I left on the step. It scores all three. Right on! I am impressed. In fact I am impressed with Corvids in general.

The Corvid Family of birds include Nutcrackers, Jackdaws, Ravens, Crows, Jays, and Magpies.

common_raven_calling_nps raven not crow corvid bird
Common Raven

 

 

crow _little_by_shochin-d4otx57
American Crow

Corvids are the most intelligent of all birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals. They have a strong sense of organization and community. Most such as Crows typically mate for life. They live in family units where members of an extended family care for all the babies collectively. They are also protective of all the others in the family pod. They readily accept other adult and baby crows into the group. They form bonds and attachments. Crows are even known to visit their parents years after they leave the nest.

 

Crows like most successful animals are adaptable.  They have  excellent memories and problem solving skills. They can remember a face years after an encounter. Which can be good or bad considering the encounter.

Crows are agile learners like all Corvids. Some have even been known to make simple tools and pass on their knowledge to others of their kind through observation and imitation.  Great apes are the only other animals besides Man known to use tools in such a fashion.

Crows are large, noisy, and social, and they’re not so shy in the presence of people. They have a sense of humor; they play pranks, tease other animals, and engage in aerial acrobatics for fun. They live alongside us and have found many ways to exploit our kindness and curiosity. They also give back and have been known to reward their benefactors with gifts.

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return.
Eight-year-old Gabi Mann feeds the crows in her garden – and they bring her gifts in return.

They are seen as pests by farmers and city dwellers alike and a harbinger of bad things by others.  They are impressive: They are loud and brassy and can be aggressive if threatened.  They exhibit dramatic behavior. We find them in folklore, legends, literature and variety of artistic expressions.  Their voices are used to accompany dramatic images associated with bad situations. Crows are frequently used as a symbol of death .  A flock of them is called a Murder.

hitchcock and-the-birds-corbis-large movie crows
Crows were used in Hitchcock’s “The Birds” not only because of their impressive looks but because they are so trainable.

 

If any bird has a bad rap it’s this one. I think though that crows aren’t given their due when it comes to the positives of this magnificent animal.

I admire their pluck and tenacity and their intelligence. They are the ultimate survivors. They live alongside us in our cities. They thrive where others do not. They are misunderstood, underdog, misfits and considering all of this, of course I want to befriend a crow or two.  I know this may sound crazy but may not not surprise you.  My only concern was if the crows would want to befriend me too, hence the peanuts.  This has been a natural progression of adoration for me; the more I learn about them the more I am drawn to know more.

I feed them sporadically. I don’t want them to grow dependent on my help too much I suppose; a few times a week at most. ¬†It’s the same pair. ¬†I recognize them by their trust of me not by appearance, they all do look pretty alike to my ignorant eyes. I have not given them names although I reserve the right to do so if a flight of whimsy suggests it.

 

I think I am well on my way to befriending these two; My friends the crows I call them. ¬†They seem to know me and we have become pretty close. The bolder one has hopped up onto the porch a foot away and ¬†looked at me before securing a peanut and flying off to stash it near the rosebush; burying it under¬†a few leaves with it’s beak.

I feel good with this Befriending of Crows. I like to watch them. It’s better than TV to me. My daughter has recently joined me in this bird watching which has added to the enjoyment.

We are all connected and it feels wonderful! ¬†This becomes more clear as time passes: you and I, ¬†the crow, the peanut, the earth, the sea. Everything. I stand on the front porch pondering this and watching the crows, I wonder if they feel this connection too…

 

~NLM

 

baby crow bird cute

 

 

References and Related Articles

Grateful Dead - Mountains of the Moon 3/1/69
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CROWS
The girl who gets gifts from birds (BBCNews)
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe read by Vincent Price
Secret Life of Crows(full documentary)HD
NATURE | Ravens | Ravens Playing in Snow | PBS
Corvids: The Birds Who Think Like Humans  (io9.com)

 

Life with a Celebrity Cat

‚ÄúBut I don‚Äôt want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can‚Äôt help that,” said the Cat: “we‚Äôre all mad here. I‚Äôm mad. You‚Äôre mad.”
“How do you know I‚Äôm mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn‚Äôt have come here.‚Ä̬†
‚Äē¬†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...

*

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.

.

‚ÄúIn ancient times cats were¬†worshiped¬†as gods; they have not forgotten this.‚Ä̬†
‚Äē¬†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

‚ô•

“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
‚ô•

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

Kinky Friedman

‚ô•
TIME SPENT WITH CATS IS NEVER WASTED.
‚ô•

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

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

‚ô•
“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
‚ô•

“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.”

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

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

George Orwell

‚ô•

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

   Hippolyte Taine

‚ô•

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 Ta√≠no 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

‚Äʬ† Mario The Magnificent

‚Äʬ† Morris website

‚Äʬ† Creepy meow mix cats

‚ÄĘFriskies 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.

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.

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!

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.