Visiting Taif. You drive up mountain roads. And it seems the bus was slow. And there is a zoo which was on the list of activities and places to visit. I had a camel encounter. Friendly, I’ve heard they can be temperamental. But the zoo camel was friendly. The elephants sprayed water at you. Fortunately, I watched as a couple nurses were set up and drenched. Those elephants are smart.
The group but their banner across the front of the bus. Nice touch. About 30 minutes later the bus overheated. The driver stopped, pulled his cellphone, and called the hospital for help. No A/C, it was getting hot on the bus! Light bulb! Yeah, you guessed. That darn banner cut off air flow to the engine. We removed it and were on our way in 10 minutes. Saved! Yes, I did save the day on that one. Did I tell you I know a little bit about lots of things…
I was fortunate to be a favorite with the nurses. I’m nice to them. They are nice back. It makes life so much easier. I learned to be nice and polite as an intern. Nurses, otherwise, could make life hell. When I rotated onto my pediatric neurosurgery rotation the night nurses were nice enough to have a going away party for me. They didn’t wake me for the party. They wanted to let me sleep. Imagine that!
In Jeddah the nurses invited me on a field trip. A few husbands… and me – they insisted I ride in the front of the bus. So far this is my only field trip though they threaten to organize another. For sure they have a sense of humor. And they like to live large.
One nurse was ecstatic to ride a camel. “It was something I promised myself before the age of thirty.” My kids rode a camel in the Bronx Zoo when they were small. So far I’m waiting for my first ride…not.
One thing I wanted to see upon arrival was camels. It’s the desert! But it’s the city where I am. Three million people – more – it’s a freakin’ city! Camels are not wandering the streets. When I first visited there was a road outside of town where Bedouins camped and offered up fresh camel milk for sale. Passing drivers would get the product off the hoof and drink it straight away. Healthy? Some cautioned me against it. And, I’m not a fan of warm milk… After that, the powers that be shooed them away and I never came across the sellers again. Out in the country, faraway from the city, out in the desert, my kids and I came upon camels on the hoof.
Yes that spot beneath is not welcoming us. And the camels were hobbled. Though they could not wander far, they were free to graze. Mostly camels are a novel sight enough that local city people crowd around to photograph them when someone brought them around the old city. Think, cows wandering down Fifth Avenue in New York City. Nope. There would be a lot of curiosity. No cows. The law says milk comes in a plastic container pasteurized and homogenized. And cold with a sell by date!
The more the merrier…?
I should listen to advice and leave well enough alone. I’ve been doing quite alright. I have a pretty staid life… if you can call being a fireman waiting for a fire, staid. I’m on call to the ER and anything can happen. It often does. And occasionally, I am reminded not to wish for what I am careful about…. Right! Lulu the cat wandered in one day. I felt a little guilty. She seemed so tame and I suspected that she had escaped someone’s house. So far no one has come looking. Lulu came fixed. I immediately noticed the stitch from the operation. We had our trial and error; the introductory period was rocky. I’m not a cat person except by default. Lulu was the on who had adopted me. Several days ago another cat came around. She arrived with the usual crew to eat. They have names – the ones who are regular. Bidi – dumb as a stone – always waits outside my door. She meows and lets me know she’s hungry. Lily – lurks – and has terrorized Lulu in the past. They are not friends from the last rodeo. Two or three males show up infrequently. They do not have names. They give the picture of old and grizzled. Then a new cat showed. There are three groups as near as I can tell. Black and white; orange and white; and grey and white – the groups are distinctly colored and do not seem to mix. The new one was female young and quite eager to get into my business. I saw her once and then not again for a few days. But she came around again and this time I brought her inside my villa. Mistake! Lulu was immediately hissing and yowling. Her hair stood on end. She was pissed! Scary really.
I did it for her to have company when I was working for long hours. I imagined she’d be bored alone. I have already been advised that this is a bad idea. Cats are territorial. But? They are out in the compound and wild and get along, don’t they? I guess not. So feed six have two. I got two in now. So far it’s a standoff. I’ve lost blood. They have sharp claws. The new cat is timid to a degree. She’s indicated that she’s staying. And?! She’s also been fixed. What is it with females and me? All fixed. Good. Easy. No new cats later to worry over. Was she also a house cat – escaped? Name? Ah! Lulu got her name from my ‘net search for Arabic names. It means pearl. Lil had her name for a day. I wanted another “L” name. The single syllable name did not cut it. Besides, it was the name of someone’s awful cousin. Okay! Creamsicle?! She’s orange and white; uh uh, nope, nada, thumbs down on that suggestion. It’s a name not a product I sought. Voila! Casi – it has the letters of creamsicle and has two syllables. It works. She’s a very sweet docile cat. I wish could recall the same memory for some of my old girl friends.
Meanwhile the fur flies. Lulu has barely made friends. Territorial, oh my, if they don’t make peace soon, someone’s gotta go. I’ve been scratched and bled – all in the name of perceived loneliness and friendship. I hope it’s all worth it. For now, separate places, separate food dishes, separate water and I try not to favor one or the other.
Casi hides out where she has some tactical advantage. She’s younger. But I think in time she will be bigger than Lulu. Hopefully she doesn’t get the same habits. There are good and bad. What have I done? “Poked the bear.” When everything else had settled down to just about alright, I went ahead and poked the bear! Two female cats – I’ll be sure to let you know if they get along.
I am stuck. The blog has begun to dictate to me. I take photos underwater and compose snappy posts. Lately I am taking photos or not based on whether they are blog worthy. So, here is my confesstion and a start of a new day.
I’m not a comic. And it started as a blog to tell the story behind the photos I take and have taken. And to all who read and follow thank you. I have appreciated all of you who follow. I have been lacking in expressing my thanks and only a few of you today will know that. All the followers do not read on any given day. But to you all, thank you for reading and following. I do not believe that this includes my kids or wife at the moment.
Funny. Lots of stories about them and … Suffice to say I was warned about embarrassing my daughter. I will recall to you that she sent a plaintive email telling me her students had stalked her online by searching her first and last name. The great “Google” put her name and mine together and voila! She was there for all her students to see. So now she is referred by a nickname only.
Gmail reads my stuff too. I was asked about forgetting to add an attachment. I had referred to something using the word. And before I sent, they asked! Is the government breathing on the other end of my ‘net connection?
An electric car now drives by computer and sensors without a driver. It’s safe. It had one fatality and everyone has called for the death of the driverless car. Let’s say that human error has resulted in way more death. Shall we remove humans and be safer? Ah! The rub!?
So never in my life, and it has been a long and opinionated one, did I ever imagine being a cat person. Nope, never, don’t like ‘em, don’t want ‘em. They are not affectionate and don’t come when you call. No tricks. No particular entertainment value. And no one says, “What a pretty cat!” when you walk it. I guess it’s ‘cause you don’t have to walk it. Ah! Litterboxes are so much fun!
So to post now and again about Lulu has to the delight a number of people who have known my dog – Reggie – and then – Nellie, two Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Royalty. Dogs of kings and queens. Lulu – pearl in Arabic – a mutt of no known family – feral living in my compound behind closed walls, adopted me. Yes, she came inside one day, escaped once or twice, was set free a couple more times, but has now settled in as the ruler of my villa. She has been in all the bedrooms and has dusted. That is to say she has raised all the dust and moved it into the room. I might have to dust the rooms after studiously ignoring the fine layer of evenly distributed dust since I moved in.
She squeaks, so her middle name is “Squeaky.” Otherwise she never speaks. She alternates swatting and swiping, with purring and sleeping. She has explored up and down. I am not cat proofed – until now! She loves wire and string. She is not allowed to eat my phone charger. She especially loves the end of my iPhone charger wire. You know, the lightning connector. Yeah, now my wires are all tucked away.
Lately she has taken to sleeping in my desk chair. She climbs on my desk (very messy and you don’t get to see…). There is barely an open square inch. She does not step on my keyboard. And she plops down and gazes out the window at the compound below. My window is the only open one in the whole compound. At night all the curtains are drawn shut and not bit of light escapes. Come to think of it, they stay closed during the day too. I am now owned by my cat. She adopted me, she came in, and now she runs the place. Yeah, “What me?” owner and cat.
Really? This is one crazy cat. He waits by the sink. Turn on the water. He can’t speak but he has trained me. He can leap from the floor to counter height in a single leap. Hey, if you can do that, the least I can do is turn on the water. Of course, the price is that I take a picture of the cat looking silly. Kids. If mine saw me taking embarrassing pics of them… poof, I’m out of the family. White cat, white sink, cool.
I thought cats hated water. I thought they hated to be wet. I thought they hated baths. And mostly I think they do – not like water. And there’s always the exception. His name is Willow. He’s fat. You would need side by side comparison. But trust me, he’s fat. Well, relative to Lulu, he is. Funny! I was never ever a cat person. The felines are not friendly and don’t do as you please. They don’t roll over and they never fetch. Cats train humans to do their bidding. How? It’s like being subservient to your spouse. You live longer. So. Willow stands by the sink. He jumps to the counter from a standing position. That would be like me leaping a nine foot wall in a single bound. Nope, not me, not on a good day and never ever on a bad day. Then he waits. Lurks. Just sits patiently until I notice him. Then he gets all excited. I let the water trickle and he might jump into the sink or not. He will let the water run over his cheeks. And he will lap at it. This goes on for several minutes. Then he’s done. Meanwhile I watch. He gets soaked. He soaks the counter and the floor. He splashes and frolics. I get to clean up. It’s kind of like cleaning up after my kids. Oh joy!
There’s been a clamor in the family for a picture of Lulu. It’s a silly but has Arabic roots because it means pearl. Had I known she would adopt me I would have picked another name. But now I call her Squeaky. It doesn’t matter. She doesn’t respond to either name. Maybe it’s my poor Arabic. Or, she doesn’t speak human. For sure she doesn’t follow commands – simple or complex. But she squeaks. No meow. No howl or whine, it’s squeak. And she does it and it works because I come when she squeaks. Yes, I’m getting my star as a trained human.
When she adopted me I was ok. And I waited to see if she really wanted to stay. This morning she tested me. She went on out the door and sat under the hedge and munched grass. She did not respond to my call or my offer to let her back into the house. Later when I got home from work, no Lulu. I whistle and the other cats in the compound come around to eat for free. No Lulu. Went to lunch… and upon return I found a cat meowing – not Lulu. But after a minute of whistling, along she came. And she squeaked. She’s got a streak of dirt along her nose. I was good. I was going away for a couple weeks. Now I have to engage the care giver to look in on my new found cat. It’s never boring in my house. Did I mention that she chases her tail?
Yes, in the middle of a sandstorm, I’m out feeding the cats. Bidi and Lily are outdoor cats. They hang around the compound but are not adopted. The guys at the gate feed them. And countless other tenants do the same too? Lily was showing up regularly. But on this day, Bidi is the one who appeared. Ok, you show up, you get fed. It would not be a notable event. But in the sandstorm and with a silly expression, well, that merits a pause. With point and shoot cameras, and with animal shots, like fish, you can be surprised by what shows up. Auto focus changed the game long ago. Now, just point and shoot. Yeah, I’m finally in the new century. Amazing, when you suddenly have insight into what everyone has known for years. But I grew up before cellphones. Imagine that! Beam me up Scottie!
It’s a memory test. Back on March 21, I wrote the first post and forgot two images. Aha! Too late. So, new post. The first is my sea lion. The poor guy was lethargic and in retrospect, I agree, he was probably ill. At the time I was more thankful that he posed and did not shuffle away. In fact, he stayed in place for several hours at least. He made no move when I approached. I apologize that I never considered calling for help.
As I related to you, Stewart arrived twenty minutes later. He’d rushed to get his camera. I already was on the scene and had my camera and my shots. So I took advantage to work the scene. It was at Stewart’s expense. His daughter and mine are best friends from kindergarten. So Stewart and I have spent many a time photographing subjects. One rule: get low, it gives you a more natural image from that angle. Adapting that, he knelt on the pavement. A purist would have gone for the rocks. I laughed. The daughters will too. Me? I just sat down. No need to scrape my knees and elbows. I took advantage of civilization.