Post 1764: best friends forever…

My friend Deborah’s granddaughter Rosie and Deborah’s kitty boy Charles have something going on between them, as this note from Deborah details:

Rosie loves Charles so much that I now feel terrible when it’s time to leave.  She “took care of him” while I was at the monastery and when I came to pick him up, I could see she was not prepared to let him go.  So he sent her a postcard from Maine.

charles enjoying sun

Charles loves the sun, too!

When I saw her this weekend she told me she sleeps with the postcard under her pillow so she can see it first thing in the mornings when she wakes up.  She had written her letter to Charles and promptly read it to him as soon as we arrived this time.  It will be hard for her again when we leave tomorrow— she was already fretting about it yesterday.


Little girls and kitties! Say it all together, now… awwwwww! 

Post 1597: Christmas 2017


Neither Andy nor Dougy likes to dress up for the holidays, but my friend Deborah’s cat Charles has a different attitude about it!
Says Deborah: Yes, Charles says he would be honored to grace your blog post for Christmas.  He wants it to be known that no kitties were hurt during filming and that he rather enjoys the attention that he receives while getting into costume.  This is in fact true: my son is so amazed by his behavior and tolerance for this kind of thing (well especially mauls from [my granddaughter, Charles’ favorite kid]) that he tells me all the time that 99.99% of cats would never put up with these things – as if I did not know that.
Regardless, I’m sure Andy and Dougy wish you a blessed Christmas, as do I! And may the new year be better than the last.

Post 1495: OH or AW?

Whether you pronounce it scohnes or scawns , nothing tops a scone better than home-made jam.

Thanks to my friend Deborah, I happened to have three home-made jams to top the scones I made with lemon zest and sour cream. Man are they fluffy and light!

I prepared a plate with the three smallest scones, added fresh butter, and a quantity of each jam.

I started with the peach-hot pepper jam, which I’d opened the day the package of jams arrived, then worked clockwise around the plate.

peach-hot pepper jam

Peach-hot pepper – a perfect match with the buttery-sour creaminess of the scones! Yum! It’s tastier now than last time, thanks to time to age in the container.

blueberry-ginger jam

​Blueberry-ginger​ – I could eat this one all day! Not too sweet, just a nice burst of ginger. 

rhubarb-ginger jam

​Rhubarb-ginger​ – Deborah got this one exactly right to my tastes. Not too sweet, nice astringency, tartness worthy of the rhubarb herb. 


I liked them all! None was too sweet, all let the fruit or herb shine through, something most commercial jams fail to do by being too dang sweet.  


Yeah, this is a cat blog. I know. So here are the stars of this blog, Andy and Dougy:

sexy Andy!

Dougy in “dreamy boy” pose




















Post 1484: A gift comes in the mail!

What’s up, Andy? Andy has a challenge to meet, but it requires some strategic thinking! He heard someone make noises outside the front door, and it turned out to be the USPS delivery person leaving a box! 


He tried to get into the box, of course, even put his front paws inside it before he decided it wouldn’t work for a kitty of his size. (I think it would, but I’m not Andy!)


Since he couldn’t get satisfaction with the box, he came over to me (see the foot?) to get some loving. After some nice “scritches”, I gave Andy kitty treats. He soon forgot the box.

But I didn’t! It held three jars of homemade jams made by my friend Deborah!


Peach-hot pepper, rhubarb-ginger, and blueberry-ginger jams from Maine! I could eat them on just about any type bread, but scones seems like the best bet. I bought the missing ingredients I needed to make the recipe in the morning, knowing the jams were on the way. Not a moment too soon!


Couldn’t wait! I had toasted English muffins with the peach-hot pepper jam for breakfast. Yum!  I’m saving the rest for those scones.

Thanks, Deborah! Andy may be disappointed with the box, but I enjoyed your peach-hot pepper jam a lot!


Post 1470: signs of the times…

My friend Deborah recently had family visits at her home, necessitating a reminder on the door that Charles (on the left) is inclined to make a dash to “freedom” if the door’s left open long enough. 

Deborah writes: 

I suppose I can take down the Charles warning poster on the door now that my visitors have gone.  In the upper right hand corner is a picture of Charles in his previous life in a 14th century French dungeon cell.  He has fond memories of the rose bush growing up the fortress walls!  My grandson wanted to know his name in that life and I told him that it had been Charlot and that he had been born in Cambridge (England as opposed to Massachusetts where my grandson was born).  Eight year olds are great because their imaginations are in full bloom and they do not yet have any cynicism!
I can appreciate her concerns! Dougy is my little escape artist. The joke is he’d follow his nose to Fargo before he realized he no longer was at home. He doesn’t want to escape so much as catch up of neighborhood scents.
snoopy dougy
There are a few outdoor cats around, and they know Dougy knows they know he knows they know he knows that fact! (Sorry for that construction. It seems to have landed in my consciousness and demands I use it till I wear it and myself out!)
I found Deborah’s sign charming and asked if I could use her photo for this blog. Her response:
Charles says he would be honored to grace your blog again.  
He did make a few escapes while the visitors were here although they were good about remembering to check for him.  He makes a few escapes on me anyway, with one yesterday when he sauntered down the walkway.  
He never tries to go fast but he does have a bit of the “nah! Nah!” In his walk.  He is proud of himself and not above taunting his jailer.  He is the kind of cat you can sling under one arm if the other arm is busy such as with the groceries one was about to deposit on the table before the cat escaped.  
deborahs charles
I’ve never had to go bushwhacking to get him.  The one time that I did not notice his escape and was only alerted to it by his brother giving the “there’s something in the yard” stare, he seemed quite bored by all the free time he had in the great outdoors and was already walking back up the walkway towards home.  
Still, with kids and commotion, I think the sign is necessary because not everyone has an escape artist for a cat.  
I’ve been known to post an “escape kitty” sign on my door as well, though the late Louie the ginger cat, a shelter rescue, definitely had street smarts Dougy lacks:
rawr louie
Louie was an inside cat that enjoyed indoor/outdoor life before I got him at the animal shelter as a five-year-old. He definitely liked his outside time, so I eventually caved in to his wishes and followed him on his walks. 
Signs of the times! We kitty people sometimes have to protect our wee furbuddies against their normal curiosity.

Post 1251: A Christmas greeting from a couple of cats…

No, not Andy and Dougy (though they do wish you a blessed Christmas), but from my friend Deborah’s Charles and André, here in a holiday photo slide show.

“Meow! Meow!”

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 Deborah assures me Charles enjoys dressing up, and that he purrs while in costume. On the other hand, Dougy and Andy prefer to walk around in their birthday suits!

Post 1206: Dougy and the shadow…

Dougy sprawled on his ottoman, hind legs askew. Nothing new there. Dougy does this all the time.111116-dougy-before-showing-cat-shadow

Except this time, his hind end made a shadow of a kitty head! (Sort of….) 111116-dougys-kittycat-shadow


My friend Deborah e-mailed me this follow up to yesterday’s blog post memorializing her cat Serena:

Thanks for putting together and publishing the memorial to Serena, Doug.  It means a lot to me.  Of course I still miss her terribly as does Charles.  She and André hardly ever interacted although they did have a few whole house chases.


Serena (behind Charles) by the door. André on the left.

I hope your readers will not start worrying every time their cat throws up.  She always had a sensitive stomach and now that I know she likely had a genetic disposition for her disease it explains that better.  I think the main thing I have learned is to watch for increased thirst, although there is little anyone can do so maybe even that just takes away from the enjoyment of life with one’s feline.

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.


Wasn’t that fun?


Post 464: in which I return to routine…and reminisce a wee bit

A good night’s sleep put me right physically. Then I made a light breakfast of whole wheat English muffins with cream cheese and marmalade, strong coffee, and cranberry juice. I finally cut up the watermelon, too, and put it in the refrigerator, something I intended to do while my brother was here so I didn’t have to eat watermelon morning, noon, and night. Oh well!

The boys are in better form today, too. Dougy was up for play with their Neko dragonfly toy; Andy was less ready at first, but came around to play later.

One thing Andy did do was stop by my chair while I caught up on reading, put his front paws on my arm — his way to getting my attention. I hadn’t given him his blood pressure medicine yet. He forgot that, I guess, but wanted the post-dose treat of Greenies. Silly cat! All I had to do was reach down and pick him up, cradle him on his back (without the towel, even!), and squirt the dose in his mouth.

He took it like a big kitty. Good boy! Then Dougy ate his treats. Geez! What’s a kitty gotta do to get some Greenies around here? I put out some more Greenies later, and he got his treats.


May 1971, off Sardinia on a blustery, miserable day at the beach filming a missile firing.

May 1971, off Sardinia on a blustery, miserable day at the beach filming a missile firing.

The photo has nothing to do with anything. I didn’t remember it, found it among other photos, scanned it, and realized I didn’t really have anything similar to tie in with it. But I like it!


Um, sorry for the brief loss of my train of thought! Back to getting back to routine, I took a look at a five-week-long stack of magazines that accumulated during the family visits. I couldn’t work reading them into my day, so now have five weeks’ worth of magazines to read, which I began during breakfast. What a concept! Reading at the breakfast table! It was nice.

Though I enjoyed family talk during the visits, I am not a morning talker by habit or choice. Reading, though, is comfortable as an old pair of jeans.


At the Paris apartment of Ralph and Deborah in 1971. I'm second from the left, Tim's next, then Ralph, Deborah, and Deborah's sister Kathy.

At the Paris apartment of Ralph and Deborah in 1971. I’m second from the left, Tim’s next, then Ralph, Deborah, and Deborah’s sister Kathy.

There is a time and place for chatter at mealtime, and some of the more pleasant moments of life center around family and friends sharing light conversation and a delicious homemade soup or a dish new to some at the table. (Unless the dish involves squid, stinky cheese, or durian fruit, for example. 😉 )

Of course, if you are chatting at the table with friends in an apartment on rue des Boulangers in Paris, the food and wine taste much, much better!

Post 462: “Are you up!?”

I noticed in Facebook my friend Ralph’s birthday was yesterday. I looked at my brother and said, “That’s odd. I thought Ralph’s birthday was July 10th…!” After a pregnant moment, I thought out loud, “Oh! This is July!”

What can I say? I’m nearly two-thirds of a century old and the inexorable process of entropy has robbed me of some of my, um, “mental acuity”! 🙂

In 1971, I think it was, Ralph and Deborah came to Kaiserslautern on a visit. They’d been great hosts when I visited Paris, so I wanted them to have an equally memorable visit to Germany. One day trip we made was to Heidelberg, where we climbed the hill to Schloss Heidelberg.

ralph tim deborah doug Schloss Heidelberg 1971

The foot scene above is from the climb to Schloss Heidelberg with Ralph, Deborah, and army friend and Beethovenstrasse roommate Tim. We were strong. We were fun. We were playful. We wanted to have a different way to remember our day trip to that city. I believe Deborah proposed the idea above. My big foot is in the foreground. Counter clockwise, the feet belong to Ralph, Deborah, and Tim.

Then, on a trip to Paris — the one Tim was able to take with me — Tim, Ralph, and I stopped by an Alsatian bar (best beer!) Ralph liked for ambience and product. Low light, slow ASA 100 black and white film — this was 1971, I think — and this surreal scene revealed itself to us all.

alsatian brasserie tim and ralph paris 1971

I also took a photo of the proprietor, a happy Alsatian who insisted I take his photo, too. He was an institution there and a camera ham, so the proprietor’s photo turned out heroic: “Noble barman at the helm of his bar, awaiting the next onslaught of thirsty patrons demanding perfectly pulled draughts of tasty Alsatian beer…!”

I suppose I could post the proprietor’s photo with no issues, but I am hesitant to post anything with recognizable people without their permission.

Anyway, the point and purpose of this entry today is to honor the birthday of a well-tested friend, someone responsible for many of the happiest times in my life, if not a few of the more horrific…. Given my age, he must be a real antique by now!

Ha! Just kidding, Ralph! I love you and cherish our friendship so much I hope I die before you so I don’t have to know a world where you aren’t there, waiting to ask that famous (infamous) question that always lead to adventures of a life time, “Are you up!?”