Post 1022: …in which the heroine flies her three Bombay cats to Paris!

A friend I’ve written about earlier, Deborah, sent this amazing account of how she got her three Bombay cats from the USA to Paris. It is long, her story, but I think you will be entertained! I know I was. I knew the outcome (the cats made it to to France), but never would have guessed the perversity Deborah had to endure to get the job done.

Ralph, Debroah, and Cathy send Tim (hanging out of the window) and me off to Kaiserslautern after our Paris visit. We were very sad and the goodbyes long.

Ralph, Deborah, and Kathy send Tim (hanging out of the window) and me off to Kaiserslautern after our Paris visit. We were very sad and the goodbyes long.

A preliminary detail or two. This is a photo of my army buddy Tim and me (behind camera, of course!) departing from Paris in 1971. The three people on the platform put up with us for a week, I believe, and it was a wonderful, full week of France, Paris, talk, and food. Oh, and lots of wine, of course!

Deborah is the person who took this delightful cat photo in Hunawihr, Alsace.

Deborah borrowed my camera to take some souvenir photos of Hunawihr. When I got the film processed after I returned to Kaiserslautern, this charming photo was among those she'd taken!

Deborah borrowed my camera to take some souvenir photos of Hunawihr. When I got the film processed after I returned to Kaiserslautern, this charming photo was among those she’d taken! (Foreshadowing here…”black cat”!)

So much for that! Now onto Deborah’s cat adventure:

Dear Doug,

This is a pretty good story about my cats.

I was going to Paris to help a friend (Ralph). Of course the cats were coming with.

deborah's cats 1

So I booked passage on the Queen Mary and made reservations in the QM kennel for the cats.  After my non-refundable passage was paid for, the cats got bumped by a dog — undoubtedly a dog accompanying a first class customer is my surmise.  I did check out the kennel while onboard, and ALL the occupants were canines.  The kennel master obviously discriminated against felines because according to him the kennel was fully booked for eternity.

Anyway, I was in a pickle.  How to get the cats to France?  Fly them as unaccompanied cargo was the only choice. But they would have to leave eight days after me because I would be on the Atlantic Ocean for that long.

deborah's cats 2My son was the hero who got them the necessary paperwork, retrofitted the cages to meet airline requirements, and delivered them to Logan airport in the middle of the night for their flight to Paris.  The paperwork was a nightmare requiring the State vet to certify their health exam which had to be done by a special state certified vet within 48 hours of the flight and that certification can only be done via the post.  To say timing was tight is an understatement.  Also the airline could refuse them for any reason (even with reservations) and the temperature at departure and arrival had to both be within certain ranges.  BTW, it is lucky they were not Persians because Persians are on the no fly list along with Himalayans.  Bombays are also “pug faced” but apparently they still fly under the radar so to speak.

Anyway, they flew on a Saturday and presumably arrived on a Sunday morning.  (They don’t have cell phones yet.). I went to the Air France counter at Charles De Gaulle airport and after being sent hither and yon was finally informed that they would be at a cargo center several kilometers away if in fact they had been on the plane.  Cats do not make the manifest list.

None of the taxis wanted to take me there because they preferred the much more lucrative fare into Paris.  An Air France employee finally tipped me off to say I was going to Paris but making a “short stop” on the way.

deborah's cats in taxi

The “short stop” will be one of the punch lines of this tale.

A very nice taxi driver of African origin finally agreed to take me.  When we got to the cargo area everything seemed to be closed: it was Sunday after all and the French take Sunday very seriously.  We knocked on doors, drove to any building where there were signs if life, were sent hither and yon yet again until after an hour or so, we located someone who knew where the cats were.  But of course!  Their paperwork had to be stamped by some official and an import fee paid.  We were dispatched to another building (that was closed) and so started yet another hunt for the mysterious official.  Another hour or two later I had the stamped documents in hand and my purse was lightened of a few hundred euros.  Meanwhile the taxi meter had rolled over and was starting its climb toward 999 again.

deborah's cats 5

I took the papers back to the man who knew where the cats were and he reluctantly got up from his card game.  Obviously not that many cats get imported on Sundays.  He fetched the three carriers on his warehouse truck and I finally heard the cries if my kids.

deborah's cats 4

The taxi driver seemed invested in their welfare at this point and carried two of the carriers to his taxi.  We finally got on the road and arrived in Paris about eight hours after I had left for the airport.  The question in my mind was: how much is this going to cost?  I had reason to worry: a sleight of hand ATM artist had tricked me into believing the bank ATM had eaten my only two cards the day before and that I would have to get them from the bank when it reopened on Monday.  Meanwhile, he and his gang were busy making charges all over Corsica — but that is a story for another day.  The result was that I only had the cash I already had on hand for the weekend and the import fee (which is not stated anywhere) had made a serious dent in that.  The taxi driver had me basically empty my wallet — a couple of hundred euros –as payment for his several hours on the great cat mystery tour through the warren of the CDG cargo area.  I would have gladly paid him more if I had been able to do so.

You would think that standing on the sidewalk in front of Ralph’s place on the beautiful rue de la Montagne Sainte Genviéve finally reunited with my kids would be the happy end of the tale, but no, there is more.

deborah's cats 7

I relayed the three carriers into the building and decided the safest thing to do was send them up in the elevator together since I could only carry two at a time up the five flights of stairs.  So I stacked them into the very tiny corner elevator — no room for me — pressed the 5th floor and raced up the stairs.  When I got to the top I heard a banging sound coming from the elevator.  I raced back down and found that the inside elevator door was banging against a carrier and couldn’t close.  Meanwhile the outside door was locked as the elevator was presumed occupied.  The cats could not rearrange their carriers, smart though they be.

So my friend had to call the Otis elevator repair person on a Sunday.  The dispatcher asked if there was anyone trapped inside the elevator — obviously those cases get first priority.  My friend replied that there were three cats but no people.  “Trois chats, Monsieur?  Vous avez dites trois chats?  Seulement trois chats?  Mais dis donc!  Ça c’est un peu incroyable!”   [“Three cats, sir? You say three cats? Only three cats? But tell me! That’s just amazing!]”The dispatcher was obviously a little incredulous.

deborah's cats 3

Meanwhile, the cats were obviously distressed by the banging door constantly hitting the carriers as evidenced by their cries.  Another tenant in the building who wanted to use the elevator for his suitcases treated me to a refresher course in French swear words.  After a wait of an hour or so, the repairman appeared and quickly solved the problem.  Then he helped me carry the cats up the five flights of stairs.  Chivalry is not dead.  Fortunately he did not ask for payment for the rescue on the spot.

I opened the carriers and out came Charles, André, and Serena, a little the worse for the wear, but basically fine.  What’s for lunch, they asked in unison.  Why paté of course.  Actually the French make a very gourmet wet cat food that has identifiable bits of seafood in a tasty sauce that all three of them loved.

And that was the start of our French adventure.  It actually got much easier after this rather bumpy start: the French allow cats on trains for a mere 5 euros, I found a fantastic rolling carrier with mesh windows that was roomy enough for all three to travel in together, and Charles joined me for lunch at The Brasserie on the Isle Saint Louis several times — cats are welcome in French restaurants! [My emphasis! Doug]

three cats

I purchased this painting in a tiny shop nearby — two black cats and a sable cat at Cluny, the medieval cloister also nearby.  The artist, Pouchelon aka Pouch, was an illustrator for Le Monde.  Most of his paintings feature cats!  He obviously anticipated the arrival of my two black kids and my sable kid.  Even the proportions are perfect: hefty Charles in the lead, wiry André in the middle and dainty Serena bringing up the rear.

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Wasn’t that fun?

 

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Post 1021: busy day today…

Have to drive down to Scottsbluff today for doctor’s appointment. It’s related to the dialysis fistula I will have placed next Monday. Paperwork and a physical. Too bad I have to travel to take care of the humdrum parts of this process!

I don’t have much more to “talk” about today, and the photo of Andy (in the sun) and Dougy (trying to avoid eye contact with his brother) is from the series I posted yesterday.

If you follow cat body language, you most likely know this was just before Andy charged Dougy to give him “kitty dagger eyes of impudent brother’s impending tragic demise by kitty maw” or something like that. Well, there was a kitty chase and Dougy lost a little fur when Andy straightened him out.

The boys get along most of the time, but they do have special spots where they don’t tolerate the other brother. Andy’s sitting on one of those spots, and Dougy’s sitting on another of his brother’s special spots . Picture 66

Post 1020: A big day for the kitties…

Yesterday was a big day for the kitty brothers. I bought a new washer/dryer, and the men from the store delivered and installed it in the afternoon. Let’s say the excitement involved strangers in the house, though a fly got in when the door was open. That’s hours of entertainment for the boys!

The boys also got a gift package from The Canadian Cats blog’s Jean. That got them wound up again! The toys are a hit, but they are chow hounds. When I opened the kitty treats, they got very interested!

I set the toys aside until the men finished installing the washer/dryer, and gave the boys some of the kitty treats, which they scarfed down! Thank you, Jean. Much appreciated!

I moved the cat tree out of the road so they could move the opld washer/dryer out and the new one in. Andy (floor) and Dougy made sure they saw what was going on in the other room...but from afar!

I moved the cat tree out of the road so they could move the old washer/dryer out and the new one in. Andy (floor) and Dougy made sure they saw what was going on in the other room…but from afar!

Just because the boys were watching the men in the other room didn't give Dougy permission (from Andy) to be on the cat tree....!

Just because the boys were watching the men in the other room didn’t give Dougy permission (from Andy) to be on the cat tree….! Andy chased Dougy off the tree moments after this was taken.

Later, on the computer desk, Andy has some catnip. Dougy decides to check it out, too.

Later, on the computer desk, Andy has some catnip.
Dougy decides to check it out, too.

Sweet little Andy got growly with his brother. Don't take it personally, Dougy. Ity was the catnip talking!

Sweet little Andy got growly with his brother.
Don’t take it personally, Dougy. It was the catnip talking!

Post 1019: sleepy time…

Whew! It’s only a little after 7:00 AM, and I feel like I need a nap. I didn’t get much sleep last night or, for that matter, lately. I guess it finally caught up with me.

I spot Dougy on the recliner.

I spot Dougy on the recliner. Sleepy time for kitty.

Andy likes to sleep on his back.

Andy likes to sleep on his back.

Post 1018: “Dull City” here today…

I got my groceries in for the week this morning. I hit the produce department hard, and scored lots of yummy veggies, including green beans I will steam for supper tonight.

I haven’t worked out what else I’ll have with the steamed green beans, but I’m thinking rice and meatballs will be included in some form or other.

With lots of Photoshopping, the black blob becomes a cat!

With lots of Photoshopping, the black blob becomes a cat!  Here’s Andy in a relaxed moment.

> lick~lick~lick < Must be nice being so flexible! (This is Dougy in another relaxed moment.)

> lick~lick~lick < Must be nice being so flexible! (This is Dougy in another relaxed moment.)

 

 

Post 1017: Now I know, sort of….

I got the list of appointments I have coming up to get the dialysis fistula. I know when and where I have to be this Wednesday, but both the other appointments I have to wait for a call before I know the when. At any rate, I will have4-23-2016 fist 2

 medical-related work scheduled from Tuesday (dialysis) through Saturday (more dialysis), then Sunday free before Monday, May 2nd, the day I have the fistula created surgically on my upper left arm.

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I think you can see that I will probably be a bit preoccupied this coming week, so I may or may not post new photos of the kitties or anything else. We’ll see.

Stick your tongue out at me, buster....! On the plus side, capturing Andy here to give him medicine is a snap.

Stick your tongue out at me, buster….!
On the plus side, capturing Andy here to give him medicine is a snap.

"Hey! I'm busy! Take your photo and leave me alone!" OK, Dougy. Just this once.

“Hey! I’m busy! Take your photo and leave me alone!”
OK, Dougy. Just this once.

There! Two gratuitous kitty photos to hold you over till I can create new material.

Post 1016: Andy keeps an eye on me…

 Dougy usually comes from the wrong side of the walker and gets dumped when the seat tips. His brother  Andy is more clever. He always hops up on the side that won’t tip him, so finds the walker a good observation post that usually is near me. Best of all worlds!

Andy makes good use of the high walker seat.

Andy makes good use of the high walker seat.

Of course, when you are snooping on someone, it’s better if they don’t see you snooping! Andy was upset when I noticed him.

"I see you Andy!"

“I see you Andy!”

Post 1015: taking a bath…

One thing I miss a lot now that I have catheters hanging out of my chest for dialysis is being able to take a proper bath. Or shower. I get clean as best I can, but I look forward to the day the dialysis fistula I’m going to be getting soon liberates me from the limited bathing I now can do! 

In the meantime, I found this old video of Dougy taking a bath. I think he is hugely funny when he cleans up! Andy makes an entrance later in the video, which upsets Dougy.

Sometimes things work out more to Dougy’s liking:

Of  course, Andy likes bathing privacy, too:

Most of all, the boys like to sleep.

Hope you enjoyed this little video look back at life with two cats.

Post 1014: Andy commands his post from atop the computer…

Andy loves the top of the computer. He can watch the scene with ease, even see around corners, thanks to a full length mirror.

Andy didn't miss the electricians who came to fix the smoke alarm.

Andy didn’t miss the electricians who came to fix the smoke alarm.

Yeah, he keeps a watch on me, too! Andy needs to know the who, what, when, where, and why of everything. Amazingly, he doesn't even have a journalism degree!

Yeah, he keeps a watch on me, too! Andy needs to know the who, what, when, where, and why of everything. Amazingly, he doesn’t even have a journalism degree!

"eyes of the news"! Well, he would be if he shared what he saw with Dougy or posted a blog. (Horrors, that!)

“Eyes of the news”! Well, he would be if he shared what he saw with Dougy or posted a blog. (Horrors, that!)

Post 1013: passing of a friend…

While I was dealing with my illness, I missed the card that notified me of the death of my Dutch friend Elbert. He’d fought cancer for three years, and succumbed to it on the 18th of January. I learned of his death just today in another friend’s Facebook page. I am staggered.

Elbert was a writer, a poet. He was married to Marianne, who always signed the letters Elbert wrote me, and was, as far as I am concerned, Elbert’s perfect match. I thought they were married when I first met them in the mid 1970s, so close they seemed to be to me. She survives him and is in my thoughts and heart.

He one time had a cat named William Cheerful. It seemed a natural name for some who wrote a book called Calling Lithuania Collect. Elbert was bright, amusing, a master of nuance and pun. His letters were a delight to read because he hid among the words. To read one was to do a brain exercise and enjoy it.

He loved life and he and Marianne traveled all over the world. I don’t know his final total, but he and Marianne were approaching having traveled to 60 countries at one point. Living in Amsterdam, he liked to go out into the country on his bike, pushing for the highest speed he could achieve. He liked sports, especially auto and bike sport, but especially football (soccer) and the World Cup every four years.

Elbert was an exceptional person. I will miss him. A lot.

Elbert Rijnberg Born 11 December 1945 Died 18 January 2016

Born 11 December 1945
Died 18 January 2016
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