Word and Image


Cat Play


I’m on a roll. Ok, I give up. American slang can be pretty confusing. A “roll?” – like a biscuit? – something you eat? And why would I be on it? Yeah, it’s confusing. But just “roll” with it. Eh? It’s why I illustrate my point.


Another non sequitur, poor Casi has a scratch across her nose courtesy of Lulu. I just noticed it. She’s the beta to Lulu’s alpha. But she’s tough. Someone is gonna complain about my use of unlinked pronouns. Which “she?” You just gotta “roll” with it. Ha!

Slow news day, so go for the easy subject. Shoot your cat. Well, my cat, and, no! I did not shoot my cats. And you should not shoot your cats either. I got some grab shots. Yeah, grab! I guess it’s ‘cause I grabbed my camera and shot them. …with the camera! – not a gun! Oh please, maybe I’m a bit punchy? Or would that be punchie? Yes, my daughter will complain again. No cats were harmed making…. They play. They tease. They destroy.

My lovable cat likes to get on my desk and stretch out fully, legs extended, and pushes off all the desktop contents. That would be my external hard drives! Yikes! Fortunately, no hard drives were injured either. Casi is smart. She can smell the black string after she bit on it. She traced it to two different drawers. And she did not understand the concept but did manage to pry the drawers open. She opened my corner kitchen lazy Susan cabinet. She got inside. The trick is getting back out. That is not so easy. She got stuck in there! Meanwhile, she likes string. And I like to get pics. So we had a session. Everyone got something. Humor? If you are here for the jokes, it’s not me. I’m a very serious kind of guy… Shoot! If Casi had destroyed my external hard drive I would not be in good humor at all. Gee, English can be so ambiguous.


What I Shot


There are questions that have no safe answer. Try, “Do I look fat in this dress, honey?” Try to answer, ‘Yes (you are),” or “No (you were, but not now).” Get my drift? I realize that there are a lot of people in my audience who are not attuned to American humor. In fact maybe I don’t have humor at all. Do you see the glass “half empty?” or “half full?”

I shot a moose once. (Yes, it’s obvious. I photographed it.) And someone in the audience asked me if I had really “shot” it. Seriously, he was very impressed (that I shot it)! No, dopey! I don’t shoot animals. I photograph, but I do not shoot. Actually, I shoot whatever is there. Get it? Well, try to understand that I am not working with a full deck and American slang humor can sail right over your head. Sorry.

As long as we are on the subject (vaguely) I was called out by my daughter. “Did you play with the puffer?” Caught! She immediately knew that the puffer was only puffed because I had provoked it. Smart cookie, that kid of mine. I deny that any fish were injured in the making of this photo. However, she contends that I have shortened its life by scaring it. Go figure!


With the very long preamble, I ask, “Do you like your photo portrait with direct or indirect gaze?” Subtle, but definitely different, it’s a matter of choice or taste. For me, I like a direct view straight on. But it’s definitely disconcerting to look straight away into someone’s eyes. It’s much more intimate. Hey! It’s a cat. Lulu’s my cat at the moment I don’t exactly ask her to look at me. I try to get her to look in my general direction and then get my camera into her face. She’s tolerant. She doesn’t get it. But she is occasionally in one place long enough for me to get a couple shots. The portrait is a success based on dead on focus on the eyes. After that composition and the rest are up to you. There are so many bad pics out there. Try harder. And it is affirmative, “a good fish photo has the eye looking toward you!” Mooses too!



The experiment lasted until evening. Then I tested the waters and Bidi left. She’s much happier. So much for my theory about being out in 100 degree weather with a fur coat – it hot! Right? I think that she might have come around. But hey!

Meanwhile, I’m back to Lulu and Casi. Suddenly they get along better. Imagine that. Neither cat disliked Bidi. But seemingly the inside cats are closer since Bidi left. Bidi is back outside and lurks by my door to await food. We’re all good around here. You can’t win ’em all. Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.

No Fish…picture… again


It often find myself looking at the background of the photo.In that case you will see my computer screen. I go to Amazon and read the NY Times. And the article is about mean things said by supporters at Trump’s rallies. Cats are curious and like to get in my business. And I tolerate a lot. How else could you get such a photo op?

No diving again. I was almost there and got the word that the waves were too high. Darn! I headed home. What to do? Ah! Cats. I have lots, too many, pictures. Only a few select can be posted. Picture fatigue. Funny, some folks don’t mind my prose. And then David complained the other day about my not giving him sentences. It was messaging. You don’t use sentences? I’m old. The protocol and communication via email and social media are lost to me. Fine! He was asking if Freeport was worth a visit. He never said that. It’s an outlet center. Shopping. LL Bean. That store is open 24/7. Really! Oops, no sentence again. Drat. Darn. He’s on his bike trip to Nova Scotia. There is no margin to carry extra weight. “Don’t go,” I advised. He messaged back later, “It’s a nice town.” Following advice seems to run in my family.


Anyway, I got a lot of cat pics after I brought Bidi in. It’s suddenly quiet. And then only Lulu and Casi appeared when I made noises to draw out any cat’s curiosity. Bidi was hiding. Ah! She’s got Casi’s old spot. And suddenly Casi and Lulu get along. Imagine that! No, no, no, fish not cats, I’m a fish person. I shoot fish. Repeat and repeat again, I shoot fish. Oh my! Those are pinned back ears. Lulu has been admonished enough that she checks with me before she is about to eat Casi. … no cats were harmed in the making of this photo.

Why Can’t I Learn?


Why can’t I learn? Enough is enough. Back to my regularly scheduled posting. The answer to the answer of the first question is that I like to poke the bear. “Don’t poke the bear.” I have my indoor cats. And then there are outdoor cats. For a while now Bidi has hung around my door. She has been right there when I opened the door. She is under the hedge and waits for me to come home. She’s a regular and eats just like Lulu and Casi. Those two are in A/C comfort.

You can see where this is headed. Yup, I scooped up Bidi and put her down inside the door. Lulu to her credit was not fur flying hissing up a fit. I think she may remember Bidi from when they were outside together. Sniff…Casi was timid but curious.

Both watched Bidi explore and mewl. She was a while getting used to being inside. About an hour, no noise, no yowling, no blood, no fur, gee! Am I glutton? Well, this way it’s easier. And Bidi will eat as she pleases instead of waiting in the heat for me to show up. I’m really doing everyone a favor, right?


You have three kids. Which one is your favorite? Trick question! But there is always a soft spot for your first. And then there is the consideration of who photographs the best. Sometimes graphics triumph. But, I’m not taking sides here….

Cat Proud – Cat Tails?

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Thank you to all the kind readers of my blog. Many friends comment from time to time. They read my posts. They don’t comment in the comment area. So it is pleasant to find that at least there is some audience for my meandering adventures and poor prose. Miss Digman my 7th grade sentence diagramming teacher would be horrified at my sentence structure…. Thank you cousin Vicki. You are the latest to boost my ego with your kind email.

Ain’t it always the case? You hear pet owners just gush on and on. I have two cats now. They adopted me. Let me tell you, there is a God. I did not know I needed them. But they came in the door, one a few months back, and, the other in recent weeks. I’m old so my time sense is foggy as to exact dates. Does it matter to my story? Hey, it’s my story, right? Lulu the grey with green eyes and Casi the orange eyed cat are like your kids. Different personalities with different temperament forced to coexist with a nutty human who likes the entertainment they give. In return I feed them and clean up after them.


Recently, yes, that’s blood in the window. A couple drops here and more scattered around my desk. Who’s bleeding? Damn! I think it was me! I have scratch marks all over now. I draw the line at unmentionable parts of my anatomy but there have been some close calls. No I do not consider myself deviant or perverted. But the cats have free reign. And sometimes teeth and claw meet, well…parts. Everything is sharp and I get skin break and blood loss. In this case more blood was lost than I realized. The fact that the cats have an armed truce does not help. But from my examination, neither have any wounds, just me. So it’s my blood. No, I’m not running any DNA testing. And I’m not gonna be tasting it. My blood, my story, and I’m sticking to it.

After a few weeks Lulu has at least tolerated Casi being in the house. Casi creeps about near the walls very slowly so she makes herself a nonthreatening target for Lulu. Life goes on. Mostly they tolerate one another. When I return from work they are both near the door and appear uninjured. Every once in a while one or the other will go full tooth and claw and that’s when I get damaged. My fault. (And please ignore the mess. This is not about housekeeping. That couch is my dive gear deposit center.)

Stalking is allowed. Lulu hunts. Casi watches. She often turns her back to taunt Lulu. Lulu knows enough to not attempt to eat Casi in my presence. And Casi is more affectionate because she often nestles in my lap for protection. Hey, it works. Sleeping arrangements have been made. I get the middle of the king bed. Lulu sleeps over the down comforter on top of my legs. I always wake with the dream of being trapped in quicksand and can’t get out. Casi is afraid but recently has taken to sleeping under the covers right up against me. She is not there at the start of the night. Lulu is guarding me. Casi sneaks in later and I find her next to my head or hip in the morning. It seems to be a habit now. During the day, it’s fine to be apart. But at night everyone has staked out their spot on the bed.

Playtime is more interesting. Everyone likes string. They chase and claw and bite at bits of string I have around. I have taken to hiding a piece. Otherwise it will be hidden someplace and be lost as a source of fun. Out of sight, out of mind? No! Casi can smell it. She pried it out from under a brochure. It was easy to shove all the papers on the floor. And that string was missing for a day or two. Then I stuck it under a book. Heavy and not so easy to move, Casi sniffed it and started to push that book. Ok! A drawer, out of sight and really, out of mind! No! She sniffed it out. She went to the very drawer and puzzled at it. Up, upright, upside down…and she even opened the drawer. She does not get the meaning of drawer handles but managed to open the drawer a couple times. It surprised her. And her paws promptly shut the drawer. Before she could get the string I tied it up on the window handle. So far she hasn’t noticed it.

Child proofing means outlet covers. Cat proofing means all things that break off the flat surfaces. My computer hard drives are all fair game. So far they step around all my cameras. No accidents yet, but my place is a disaster waiting to happen. Remember, I mentioned that my cleaning skills were minimal. If the dust lay in an even pattern, leave it. Now there are paw prints all over and the dirty paw prints in my tub are a sure sign that I need to do something. A vacuum cleaner! Yup. It’s a major purchase. Did it. I recommend it to anyone who wants to clean up after a cat.

Did anyone happen to notice that all the plugs do not fit the wall receptacles? Really, I don’t exaggerate. The large three prong plugs were mandated by the king. No shit! And then no one told anyone that all the wall outlets have a different plug receptacle. No shit! Everything you own has to have its own adapter. It’s good to be king. And I have 100v and 220v outlets that look the same. It must have driven the previous occupant mad. He wrote the voltage in magic marker on each outlet. Thanks.

Hiding is a cat thing too. Lulu hides in the downstairs maid’s room under one of the beds. She doesn’t think I know the spot. And I don’t let on I know. We are both happy that way. At least I know her spot. Casi uses the upstairs dresser. There is no back. She can get behind and into the cabinet and hide to her heart’s content. Lulu would too. But I found her spot early on and she never goes there anymore. Privacy! Everyone, even pets, needs it. But the refrigerator? Yup. Casi jumped behind the refrigerator. There’s no space! Well, she managed. Now what, stupid? How are you getting out of this? The cabinet next to the fridge has no kick board. So she got into that space along with all the mouse droppings and the dead insects. The kick board in front opens (fortunately) and I was able to free her without wrestling the fridge. I don’t think I would have found her except I heard cat mewling and looked around the fridge.

Lulu couldn’t resist. She had to try. She jumped behind and I heard the same mewling later. But that darn cat jumped out from behind as I began to look. Damn! She scared me. But then one day, she decided to hide there. For an entire afternoon I searched. And I even looked under her bed. She hid out of sight and did not appear until late afternoon. That was no fair. She had me worried. Not a peep, not a sound, just sat under the dirty dusty cabinet all afternoon right around the corner and just out of sight of my flashlight. Now? I stacked some boxes of chips high against the fridge. So far no one has gone back there again. (Shhhh… don’t tell the kids where the junk food is.)

So that’s cat tails. They are definitely a great distraction. My nurses are horrified. Dust, dirt, feeding, cleaning, bathing….how do you bathe them? I don’t. They wash themselves by licking themselves. Ewwww! Even worse. Cats never come when you call but are always lurking close by. They know where I am. That works for them. And every once in a while they ask for and give affection. Everyone wins. Go ahead. Ask me which is my favorite? Ha!

I Save The Day


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…

Field Trip


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.


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