Andy and Dougy at four months

The closer we get to Andy and Dougy’s Big 2nd Birthday on 1 July 2013, the more nostalgic I am about that stressful time when they were two sick kittens, a period that pretty much covered the first two and a half, three months I had them.

Fortunately for me, I made videos of the boys so I’d remember them as they were, and have a way to see how they’ve grown and changed. The following video is on my YouTube account, http://www.youtube.com/user/phainopepla95,
but I’ll spare you locating it among the 150+ videos there:

Gad! They were cuties! They were just starting to grow out their Persian hair. They are smoke Persians, so that new hair foretold how handsome this pair of cats were destined to be.

Maybe this video is more interesting to me than to others. I made predictions about their personalities then that are a hoot now. Andy as a “lap cat” is my favorite. It didn’t happen. Neither boy likes more than a little hold time, though they are friendly cats. Dougy as an explorer is true still, though both boys have normal cat curiosity about everything. Dougy is the camera hound still, but Andy is considerably more curious about that thing pointed at him, and he always wants to come over and sniff it.

Dougy still went by “Doogie” back then, the Scottish pronunciation of his name and mine. I’m not sure when I decided to throw caution to the wind and just call him “Dougy”. So what if people accuse me of vanity for naming my cat after myself? Dougy definitely fits the name, as does Andy his. “Douglas” and “Andrew”, their full names, not so much. He answers to “Dougy” so he isn’t confused with me. I’m the one who answers to “Doug”.

My Dad and I shared “Douglas” as first names. We had different middle names, so I wasn’t a junior, though no one ever got that straight, including family. I didn’t want my wee cat to go through that hassle, too. Before you call Dougy “Junior”, be aware his middle name, James, isn’t mine! I made sure of that!

Their big day is close now. The boys were born on Canada Day, 1 July 2011. No significance, I suppose, to that, though it is an easy date to remember!

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Can you forgive me, Dougy?

Let me make it clear. Andy and Dougy have run of the house. There is no place barred to them, and, as cats do, they make full use of their freedoms!

This morning, however, Dougy disappeared shortly after I got up to feed the boys a yummy trout-turkey cat food breakfast. Yes, trout-turkey! They love it!

Andy snuggled right into it, but Dougy didn’t come around. Sometimes that happens. Though I feed them on separate dishes, sometimes one or the other cat just isn’t in the mood to eat at the same time as his brother. This week, Dougy’s been the “hang back” cat.

Cats’ breakfast taken care of, I prepared my breakfast, a simple cheese omelette, peanut butter toast, and nice black coffee. (I roast and grind my own beans. Yum!) Of course, while eating, Andy came over, begging for my attention. I let him wait, then we played with one of his favorite toys, a feather bird attached to a pole by a long string.

Dougy is my playful cat. As soon as I pulled out the toy of the moment, he wasn’t there! Not today. Andy and I had a lovely play session anyway, mostly because Andy got to play without his brother’s aggressive, assertive style of taking over a toy at will. Andy is smaller than Dougy by a few ounces, but, in cat terms, that’s a lot! I guessed Dougy decided to take a siesta since he came around to my bed several times last night. Andy didn’t come around till almost time for me to get up, so, presumably, was less tired.

So the morning went. Andy came around for head and ear rubs. Andy brought me a feather bird, one I let him carry back to his lair to chew at will. That’s the fate of all old feather birds in this house! (It also allows the cats to entertain themselves! I’m not just being a nice guy!) Andy tapped my arm to let me know whatever it is Andy taps my arm to let me know…. “What’s the matter, boy? Timmy’s in the well- AGAIN!?”

Then he tore around the place, ripping up the floor with breakneck dashes north and south. This is how Andy or Dougy signals to the other he’s ready to play one of their favorite cat games, “hunter-prey”. They both love the game, so I was a bit surprised Dougy didn’t fall into place, chasing or being chased…. I wondered if he felt a little sick today because five minutes of Andy racing all the way north, then all the way south, over and over, he ordinarily joined the game.

Toward 8:00, I heard cat meows. I am deaf in my right ear, so have difficulty establishing directions sound comes from. It sounded like it came from outside, however, so I checked outside. No cat and the meowing stopped. I went back to entertaining Andy, who was exceptionally kittenish this morning, really putting demands on me to toss the feather bird, which he chases but never brings back to me. It’s an old favorite, and it makes both of us get up and move around.

Andy’s high energy play finally wore him out. He jumped on the ottoman by my glider chair, and spent several minutes cleaning from head to tail.

The television news over, I came to my computer to check news on the Internet. Again, I heard a cat meowing. Again, I looked outside, but saw nothing. Then, a new round of meows and a door rattling. Andy stopped by my bedroom door. Another clue to the whereabouts pf the missing Dougy!?

“Oh no!” Yes, I’d closed the door on Dougy, and he’d been trapped in my bedroom for four hours! Door open, he rushed out, bewildered, upset!

He’s just now getting over it, an hour later. Right now, he’s taking a bath on the little red chair by the door (see video, above), and trying to decide whether he’s unhappy with me or not! Oops! Spoke too soon! Now Dougy’s challenging Andy to play “hunter-prey” by running at a full gallop south. Andy’s in pursuit, and harmony comes back to the house!

free spirit

I remember how shocked I was when the great-aunt of one of my friends said things one day that suggested she had more than a passing familiarity with marijuana. Later on, once I learned she and her husband were part of a traveling jazz band in the 1920s, it began to sink in: Not only was she young once, she did some things my generation assumed her generation was too stuffy to imagine, let alone do. This free spirit of the 1920s now stood before me as a respectable, old lady!

I mean, I watched “Reefer Madness” when I was a young adult at university, and laughed at how naïve people “back then” must have been to see that film and fall for it. I almost hoped they laughed, knowingly, too! Little did I realize I knew anyone from that period who enjoyed recreational drugs, whether weed or distilled spirits!

This great-aunt was a grand person, full of fun, able to break out in song for the pure joy of it, very young in her outlook, and comfortable around people like my friend and me who thought we understood how the world worked because we were university students by then. She was possessor of some secrets that made her almost dangerous to know it seemed then. Ha!

Today, I came across a video of a flapper doing something so outrageous and dangerous, I immediately thought of this great-aunt again, now long dead:

It also reminded me of “Flying Down to Rio”, a 1933 film featuring Fred Astaire in this scene:

I doubt my friend’s great-aunt ever tried this sort of stunt. I like to think she gave it serious thought though. Remember, she was a free spirit in the 1920s! The more I got to know her, the more I realize she still was a free spirit, and remained so as long as she lived.

catty remarks

I try to give my Persian cat brothers as much environmental stimulation as possible. A happy cat doesn’t urinate on the carpet, for example, or get to star in a “My Cat From Hell” episode on the Animal Planet Channel.

Stimulation is the primary reason I open windows to let in outside sounds and give a clearer view of what’s happening outside. You who watch my endless cat videos know I even put a little chair and a large pot next to the door so Andy and Dougy are high enough at the back door to observe the bird activities without having to stretch.

There are times, however, that the environmental stimulation is excessive, as evidenced in this video of Dougy birdwatching this morning but getting caught by the birds!

I read that cat chattering is now thought to be the cat mimicking prey vocalizations to improve hunt success. While I don’t think Dougy will eat a big fat robin today because of his vocalizations, chatter as mimicking prey vocalizations is an intriguing idea.

“No really, Ms. Robin, I am a robin, too!”

“Like hell, you churlish cat!”

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&sqi=2&ved=0CDUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.catster.com%2Fthe-scoop%2Fscientists-discover-new-meaning-for-cat-chattering&ei=eo60Ue2jBereiAKQj4GYDA&usg=AFQjCNEBlcVOZYUjnD-J1uCN31dr5PQNPg&sig2=qlqnS_DPJIOFlYiOMkqG9w&bvm=bv.47534661,d.cGE

I hope this link works. It’s the one about cat chatter.

shedding season

Persian cat hair is soft and pleasant to touch, as long as it’s attached to the cat!

Petting Dougy today, I quickly created a fuzzball of Persian hair. Poor cat! Not only is he Persian, he’s fuzzier than his brother. The shed hair gets in his eyes. I can brush him, take him to the groomer, but he is cursed to trail hair behind him as long as he’s shedding.

How long is a Persian cat’s shedding season? No one knows. I think it is all year, judging from the hairballs I clean up. That’s all I can do: Clean after Dougy and his brother Andy, to the extent they shed.

I keep a cat brush next to my computer.

I keep a cat brush next to my computer.

I watch cat videos, and marvel at those of Persians with long hair. One lady has a house full of them, and brushes each one at least once or twice a day. She harvests at least enough hair each time to make a full cat or a cashmere-soft cat hair sweater if she is really clever. Seriously!

Until they were 16 months old, Andy and Dougy grew their hair to full Persian length. Two problems with that: Poop and mats. Poop I washed out in dreaded cat baths. Mats sometimes combed out, other times required a steady hand and a cooperative (rarely) cat!

Mats I could handle. Poop was another matter. I’d stumble out of my bedroom in the dark of early morning, and I’d feel something squishy under foot. Yep! Poop!

Dougy had the worst poop issues because his poop tended to stick in the hair on his tail and rump. Of course, some of it fell off for me to find with my feet, but sometimes a full bowl movement trapped itself in his rear, necessitating a major bath.

Andy, in his long hair days, had digestive issues, so his poop was anywhere from diarrhea to toothpaste-like. The problem there was it’d soak into his hair, he’d sit on the floor, window sills, or wherever, and leave a little poop circle or smear. Plus, he perpetuated his digestive issues (I think and strongly feel) by cleaning himself and ingesting that nasty stuff.

Andy was fuzzy before bi-monthly haircuts.

Andy was fuzzy before bi-monthly haircuts.

In November 2012, I started bi-monthly groomer appointments for the boys. After the first time, mats and poopy butts became rare or missing altogether. And good riddance! Thanks, Sarah! You do a great job grooming my cats, and they are healthier for it!

I can’t remember the last time I had to give Andy or Dougy a bath. Well, I don’t want to remember, it was so traumatic for both cat and man. Compared with that ordeal, a little shed hair or a lot is nothing!

Thursdays at the museum

Today is the 69th anniversary of the D Day invasion of France. By coincidence, it also is my regular day to volunteer at the local military museum, a quiet place where my duties don’t involve a great deal of effort beyond just being there so it is open.

The museum isn’t that old – less than 10 years – yet it is an important community asset that keeps fresh memories of our small Western Nebraska town’s contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany, and more. Wars from the Revolutionary War through current wars are featured in displays.

In WWII, this town had an air base where paratroopers and glider troops involved in that event 69 years ago trained. These were the people who lead the invasion, were there first behind enemy lines. The amazing part is some of them still wander in on my Thursdays to talk about that service or their part in that war. Not many, though, or that often. They are old now, most of their comrades in arms gone. I choose to remember that.

I’d hoped to write something profound about that generation and that military operation, my way to keep alive just how important June 6th is in history. Fact is, though I am a Vietnam Era veteran (a distinction that means I served during that war, but not in the war itself), I am not someone who wallows in military glory and American involvement in foreign conflicts. Yet I choose to remember why today is important in history.

Talking with the generation that fought or lived through WWII as a civilian, a different picture comes through. Many won’t talk about it because it was brutal and they saw, perhaps did things that haunted them for seven decades later. I choose to remember that.

It wasn’t glorious. It was sad, brutal, not spoken of survival against the odds. It wasn’t a given America and the Allies would win at first. I choose to remember that.

It traumatized those who received the telegrams that told of sons, husbands, or fathers who were never to come home again, many times buried in places so far away family would never even see the graves. Sometimes there wasn’t even enough left to identify and bury. I choose to remember that.

It was a flag neatly folded into a triangle and presented by an honor guard at those funerals where a body, maybe just some broken-up parts of human flesh did come home. I choose to remember that.

It was a loved one missing in combat who, hope against hope, might be in a POW camp where the enemy treated that son, husband, or father “according to the Geneva Convention”, not brutally, as we would learn, in places like Bataan. I choose to remember that.

It was my father, Chief of Police of this small town, with one police car that was unusable because of lack of a repair door, who didn’t get a door until he wrote Henry Ford telling him about the situation! The local Ford dealer was unable to get the door because of wartime restrictions. I choose to remember that.

It was housewives trying to find milk for their children, sugar, shoes, any number of rationed items. Victory Gardens weren’t totally patriotic endeavors: They often were the primary source of fresh vegetables and canned produce during and for a short time after the war. There is a DVD available for sale at the museum that shows the opening day of the Army Airbase here. Of all the people in the video, only one elderly woman looked even a little heavy. Even she didn’t look fat! It wasn’t a concentration camp thinness to the people, but it definitely was a crowd of hundreds, thousands that didn’t over eat. I choose to remember that.

It was people who worked together for a cause even though they weren’t of the same political party or beliefs. Haven’t seen that for a few years in America, eh?! At least not in government.

Many of my friends are the children of GIs who trained here, met local girls, fell in love, and married them. Many of their fathers are honored in the museum through family donated materials related to their military service. One of my classmate’s fathers was an Army medic who was a paratrooper qualified in grenade, machine gun, rifle, pistol, bazooka, hand-to-hand combat usage. Whew! How can you not remember that?!

Though many people served in WWII as volunteers, it was a military based on citizen soldiers, i.e. the draft. Up through “my” war, the Vietnam War, there was a military draft in the USA.

In just wars, wars for national survival like WWII, the draft assured that there was a sort of equality among classes of people, a theoretical one at least. One benefit of the citizen soldier-based military in WWII was that many children of important people also served in combat. Roosevelt had a son in combat; George Bush was a combat pilot who was shot down and survived an ordeal to get back to friendly lines; John Kennedy lost his older brother in war; and he himself was a survivor of a military action where a Japanese ship sliced his PT boat in half. I choose to remember that.

I find the new wars suspicious enterprises. Maybe I’ll get on my soapbox some day about those, but today, I choose to remember the incredible people who stormed those beaches of Normandy, all Allied troops, not just American. I choose to remember the unquestionable courage of those who glided in behind enemy lines or hung suspended in the air from parachutes while Germans picked them off as they floated to ground. I choose to remember that.

Today I choose to remember the civilian sacrifices of those with family in those invasion troops, of the fear of failure in the uncertainty of success.

Today I choose to remember the leadership of men like Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, of Eisenhower and his staff of frontline commanders from many nations.

Today I choose to remember Kenny, who was captured and spent time in a German POW camp till the end of the war. He was the only son, the sole surviving child of my grandmother’s best friend.

Today I choose to remember Ray, who was a bomber pilot who served in Europe, but some days stops by the museum now with his wife for a visit and a chat.

Today I choose to remember all the people whose names and stories appear in the two volume scrapbook of the lady who carefully snipped all mentions from the local paper at the time of men and women serving in the military- who was drafted, who volunteered, who did what and survived or not, when, where, but never why. “Why” was well understood by all.

Today I choose to remember my mother, who, after I suggested watching a video of a heart-warming WWII film (“Life is Beautiful”, which makes me cry just to think of the story and how it ends), told me she didn’t want to watch another video about WWII even if less emotional because, “I lived it, and don’t want to live it again.” It hadn’t occurred to me that the war might traumatize civilians so profoundly. It was an important epiphany for me because “my” war divided society rather than united it into a great cause for which each member of the society shared the price. I remember that vividly.

Today won’t be an ordinary afternoon at the museum. I choose to remember that.

http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/senior-corps/rsvp

www.sallowsmilitarymuseum.com/‎

my blog header

Just a quick note to answer a question about my new blog header. The fuzzballs in the photo sre my Persian cat Dougy on the right, and Andy on the left at about age three months of age. This photo is a screen print from a video of the boys playing that’s posted on YouTube. It’s one of my favorite videos of the boys when they were kittens, and I think you will enjoy it, too!

 

happy paws & rumble throat

Cats are exasperating. Cats are lovable. Cats do their thing. Cats relax us with their sweet response to loving! Dougy is the star of this newest video. He often perches or sprawls right on my computer desk, usually where my mouse hand or arm rest. He’s been like this since the first day I brought him home, and he appears in several videos hogging my desk and restraining my arm with a sleepy head or paws. Aw! Gotta love him!

I try a new page format

I changed the format of my blog this morning. I think I like it a bit better than my old format. Of course, I tired of the old format is all. It served me well for several years. Time to move on.

Editing follows a different format, with the text block I’m working on peeking out over the top of my published posts. Oddly- in case I forget, I suppose- there is a little porthole to the upper left hand where my Gravatar self-portrait peeks out at me, laughing, no doubt, that I fancy people actually read this stuff. Ha!

It has some odd and intriguing edit icons I can’t wait to try, though I suspect I need to wait or risk blowing out what I’ve typed so far. “Hide/Show Kitchen Sink”, I will click on you any second now to see what you do!

Image

Well, inserting photos is much simpler. This is my old Gravatar, an insolent rump of my late cat Louie pointed into the air. It still serves me other places since google and I can’t agree on how I go about changing all things once. Tedious! In that instance, the up-ended rump works.

I like being able to see text the way it will look. The old format, you didn’t see images or formatting until you visited the preview or published post. I don’t like that every posting I’ve ever done shows on one “page” because it slows things down considerably. I need to figure out how to change that to show just the current post on each page. Earlier, it was doing just that: Somewhere down the line I clicked on something, eh!? I’ll figure it out.