Word and Image

Posts tagged “Cats

Downsizing

When I said to my wife – no names please – “We need another loom, like a hole in the head.” I meant it; and, I am, indeed capable (of drilling holes in your/mine head, as a retired neurosurgeon! Later that day a large heavy box arrived. A cat tower! It’s taller than my (same, present, nut) wife. What?! Wut?!! W#$hat#$!! The cats paid no attention. We had to put them on it. No, nope, never! Yup! Since then, they have been all over it! Darn! Another piece of furniture that I have no space for! (Would this be the proverbial “dangling preposition?”

No more!? Stuff!? No more stuff? No, more stuff! What a difference a comma makes. “,” one little punctuation point. No more cats?! Another loom? They were giving it away at the Thrift Store. Yeah, $550. Ok! Price reduced! We bargained down – way way down (under $100) – the provenance? It was made in Marblehead MA. It was a therapy loom – Devereaux, for insane people in recovery rehab. Oh! How appropriate! Bookstores?! No more! We just went through our bookcases…. A ton of books lie on the floor waiting to go to donation. Go!? No!? I don’t know. Magazines find us. And, books leap into Colleen’s arms. And magazines!! Still!? Yeah, it is a cute antique loom made centuries ago. A real antique. I have no room! It’ sitting in the hall landing. Help!?


Muddled

Pictures help clear the muddled mind. It is 2017, January. Spice and Feather latched onto me at the pet food store and are now part of our family. They were so little. Were they ever so tiny? Two fit in the sink. Can you imagine? I have trouble remembering the year they arrived. Photos help.

Two egg yolks over … what? Snow geese, a first (the very first) glimpse for me. The National Enquirer, ah, shit! We are in a tunnel – driving – don’t try this at home… There is a radar detector, a GPS device, phone holder, a dried rose bud…. So, it is the new Subaru. Technology would change. Nowadays the phone is plugged into the dash and GPS comes via the car screen. I don’t speed any more – ha. No GPS, phone holder, radar detector, rose. There is a lot to be learned from a picture. And there are pictures that make you wonder, “I took that? For what?”


Update

No, no, we did not get another cat! This is a long frustrating tale of woe that has a twist and happy ending. Sort of. Back up your stuff… on your computer. Everything fails, eventually. I have had external hard drives (more than once) go south for no particular reason within the two year warranty – mostly Seagate – and I got replacement drives no questions asked. Go figure. I back up my Macbook Pro with an external drive, one only. I backed up on 4/2 and 4/5.

Apple cheerfully offered to upgrade OS from Big Sur to Monterrey for free. The upgrade downloads from the internet and then Apple installs the new OS. There was a catastrophic glitch that occurred at start-up after the upgrade. No upgrade. Complete crash. Dead! Recovery mode, I followed the steps. I loaded up the backup external drive. Disk Utility repaired the Macbook hard drive and external. The files and backup on the external disappeared. Major catastrophe! At least one year’s data just disappeared from my Macbook. Weeks! Weeks later, I recovered the external backup using Free! Recovery programs. They are free until you try to recover a file, then they cost $$.

Happy ending? After weeks, I got all the recovery backup files from Time Machine onto another external drive. Ready to recover back to 4/5? I plugged in the original external backup where the files were lost. Voila! The files were back!?? Another six hours ensued. The Mackbook was recovered to 4/5. I lost data and changes for about 20 days. Pfewf!

This was a very nasty surprise! And, it is a cautionary tale. “Backup your stuff.” Of course! I was stupid. I did not expect my back up drive to fail. Mistakes were made. I won’t do this again. My photos are backed  up on five redundant external drives of different brands. Nuts! Who knew!?

After that long tale of computer woe, it is only still spring as I write and lament. “Instant garden” in my containers does not happen without work. It costs $$$. But the color and beauty lasts for many months. It is definitely worth the effort. Each year brings new arrangements depending on what the nursery has when we visit. Marigolds are featured this year. Colleen dyes with the flowers. Last year I upgraded my macro lens. Let the photo ops begin again!


When

I compose about one post a day. I admit to being ahead of myself. It’s still April was I write today. Ha ha. Colleen laments that I do not compose long emails to her since I returned from Saudi (years, ago). Oh well. Things change. Or not. I still find that I write for you – Colleen – now. You are the inspiration, the muse, of my posts. I never did expect to intertwine my life so completely. Ginny pointed it out. Letting loose is not so easy. Or, you just let go. Either way, there is that weight that pulls with gravity and that feeling of falling free to wherever life takes you. Heavy? Ponderous thinking? I am just recalling your recent lament once again. No regrets. These days I go with the feelings. No one orders me and I am not at the random utterly chaotic beck and call of the ER. I still (occasionally) sleep restlessly because my id persists in raising unbidden anxiety. It’s hard to relax when I have always been wary and on high alert.

Peace reigns… after a fashion. There is beauty and serenity in the world. You will read my thoughts in about a month. We will smile. I will hug you. That is the best part, to be able to hug you at will, now.


Context

Lessons! Really! Don’t want ‘em. Don’t need ‘em. I don’t care.

Three views same flower. Two are easy. Point down. Point from the side. But, tilting the camera? It goes against the rules of making your “horizon” wonky! Don’t do it! Oh! Yeah! Sure! The only thing I will add is that it is counter intuitive. Counter intuitive!? That’s for me!

Posing a cat – ?! Huh?! No silly, you don’t pose a cat. They don’t pose, either. You put the camera lens in front of their eyes. Yup! Like salting a bird’s tail. Make sense? When you try it, all sorts of things happen… some good. Or, a goofy pose. Poor Elle! Sorry, kitty. Willow has hooded eyes and requires flash to show his pearly greens. Big, wide open, eyes helps a lot.

Then, there are those cats, who refuse to cooperate. They never look in the camera. They never let me close in front of their face. I am so happy to get the eyes that distractions like the plastic in front is ok! Yes, sometimes, you just gotta settle for what is there.


Here to there

How’d I get here? In the absence of anything else, I shoot cat portraits. Simple. They pose?!? Nope. I put the camera in their face and point the lens straight at their eyes. It works.

Finally, a new oven! The old one – dead. Built-in obsolescence. Better one? It had to fit the hole of the old one. Pain!!! Major pain, supply chain issues, we snagged a clearance model at less than half price from retail. Lucky! You bet!! It clearly said on the box – in big black and white letters – the oven was too large for the hole – ¾ inches too large. Really!! So, it fit right into the hole of the old oven. Go figure.

And, within moments – carrot cake. I add (my mom did it) a cup of grated carrots; the cake rises…. And, a few days later… a sour cream apple walnut pie. We wasted no time in making up for lost time.

Pizza? Well, I gotta say, “Who doesn’t like pizza?” Gluten free crust. ??? Oh! Well, Colleen is also vegetarian (off and on), so, two pies – mine had sausage. It was a good pie! Yeah, it’s good to have an oven again.

One more step – to product. I spin – wool. We process. … ‘cause I don’t wash. The one and only time I washed, I felted. (If you don’t spin, the joke went right over your head.) Straight off the sheep, the fleece is polluted – grass, dirt, poop, etc. The fleece is opened up – picked. Then, it is washed, carded and prepared into bats, ready to spin. Spin, spun, it looks rather fine and refined, ready to go – cloth, shawl, scarf, and so forth. This would be here to there. Yarn!


Doo

Neverending: short or long? Color? I persuaded Colleen that she is too young looking to go grey. But length? Short is so much easier to wash and dry. Her hairdresser does not mind change or experimentation. I get photo ops. I try to shoot every day. Cats only get you so far ….


Feel

I feel better – ala – “I feel pretty,” West Side Story, the tune has been floating in my head for days. It’s cheerful with a painful twist right around the corner. Feather’s my cat, always has been, ever since she reached out and grabbed me with her claws and said, “I’m goin’ home with you!” in the pet food store. And, here I was just buyin’ cat food – (not really). Enough cats already! I don’t want this to become a cat blog…. Readers and followers come and go… I am not sure even my family follows. Friends, a few, but then, this blog was never about pandering to an audience. I photograph. Thoughts link up. Voila! It’s a post. Feather never smiles. She’s all serious. And, I am her “human.” Hers! Colleen’s jealous. But, hey!! It’s a cat?! Nope, female, competition. …  I love my wife.


Heir

I had eight cats, seven now, all lovable, cute, and huggable. Each was and is a unique character. Eight cats, nary a one the same. Seven. Odd number. Ha ha. I’m doing tryouts… Peas is Ray’s designated heir. Peas – so named for “Oliver” – “Please, may I have another?’ She’s a mutt ugly cat. Nay! Colleen objects; Peas is beautiful!! And she has taken over the role of cuteness among our seven. Her antics and curiosity – “I’ve grown accustomed to her face.” I just gotta smile. 🙂


Last

Who knew? Last shot? I was looking back… There was a NYT article – psychiatry now has a dx for prolonged grieving. It’s more than a year… not quite there yet, by a long shot. But then again, it’s morbid, but, the last time I photographed Ray was… He was happy. He was happy right up to the end. He played. He was playing. It’s was humorous and joyful to watch him take pleasure in the simple act of sitting in a box. Boxes amused him. He loved to be in them. Colleen found him in this box. I shot the pic. Who knew?


Restless

I swear coffee doesn’t keep me up at night. I’m sitting here composing this post at 3AM because…  and humming tunes from West Side Story. Oh boy! I have no deep thoughtful insight. Even my most faithful cats are passed out asleep near me. The more you worry, the less sleepy you feel. But, it’s all good. I am retired. A nap is no big deal. Just a few more random pictures … time for bed.


i…

iPhone.

It is not my primary camera. The current photo catalog (incomplete) has 400k images. There are about 3k iPhone shots – less than 1%. Dave uses it as his primary camera. I shot a few pics for rapid (instant) upload to family. I get an occasional selfie. Some pics are taken of me… occasionally. I put pictures on my phone to share. My point?! My last iPhone upgrade was the iPhone 7. We are up to the iPhone 13. I got the new SE to take advantage of the 5G network. The new SE looks exactly the same as the (good old/ancient) 7; the protective cases are exactly interchangeable. (The new box is smaller – ha ha.) Change comes slowly. If you want a better camera, get a better camera. My phone is not a camera. Oh! The cats (pics) are from my camera.

Ha ha! I am a confirmed “hoarder.” !!! Nuthin’ gets thrown away. ?? Will I ever need the box again? The last one (iPhone box) came out the closet from six years ago…. Nut! And, I shoot redundantly – to be sure I have at least one serviceable shot. Digital is free?! I’m tossin’ the boxes. (Cringe!!)


Fun and games

Renovation is hell! Why? Why are we doing it? It was due. To whit – the oven died. It just up and stopped working. It was old; it came original with the “born on” date of the house. Sale!! Half off (for the new oven)! How good is that!! So, the counters are clear; the measure lady was coming. You won’t see it like this again. Note: new garbage disposal under the counter; the installers will not put the old on back in – go figure. The oven dies and you do a whole kitchen makeover? Yeah, change is good.

New floor. ?? Nuts! I tackled this job. I’m cheap. I’m dumb. And, there are online instructions. You learn the mistakes as you go. So far there are two rooms done, two down, two to go. Nuts! And yes, I broke a rule somewhere. I did not, could not, move all the furniture out of the room. I worked around it. Did I say “nuts!!!” Flowers and gate? Yes, the cats are separated; and in the last iteration I did up things with fake flowers – lots of flowers!

Feather would “eat” Peas, if only I would let them. So, they remain safely separated, in different rooms now. And, they play footsie beneath the door. It would be nice if they all got along. Yes, it would. Nope! No peas for dinner, please.


Insanity

… doing the same thing over and over … hoping for a different result. We got another fleece to wash … spin. Yes, nuts! It’s spring, time to plant. Eating out is good. Colleen took flight on St Pat’s day. We had a reservation. 30 minutes later we were seated. It was a local place, definitely not worth the effort. Dinner with the cousins, priceless. And, the cats keep getting images into my camera.


Inspiration

Pictures? I don’t try to overthink. Good pics seem to stand out. A story? Feather’s mouse. The cats all seem to have habits. Some of my cats have favorite toys. Other cats are oblivious. Feather has battered the stuffing out of her favorite mouse toy. She brings it to us as well. It’s all part of her game. There’s no telling what the cats are thinking. I hope they appreciate that we love and care for them. Feather and Spice are identical except for their paw markings. Behaviors and favorite spots can sometimes help distinguish one from the other. I have no complaint. I get hugs from both.


Habit

Practice and habit: we called it (in medicine) – the usual order, the way of doing things, how things went in our household. And, of course there were always exceptions in the way our cats went about things. Ray liked to sleep in containers and on the rug in front of the TV. He did not sleep on the loom, until, he did. I find that a lot of the pictures I have of the twins were taken sequentially within moments with one twin here and the other in a different location. Telling which was which was still a trick, sometimes. Nutley? He loved to burrow under the rugs. Yeah, he would nestle right under them, sometimes a mere lump, bump, in the rug. These pics are in my catalog and will always make me smile.


Ritual

So much to say, I could write an essay or an editorial. No! It’s not my mission…

We buried Ray (next to Patch) in a box shipped with sheep fleece. Smell? The cats loved boxes – to climb/play in them. And, Ray had a favorite gerbil/toy and I had recently found it behind a cabinet. He would hide his toys and not tell us so I could retrieve it for him. Ray was so happy to have played with it again. Mike brought over a rose. We (God) had a special sunset that day. The ceremony in the backyard was simple – Ray in a packing box with his gerbil. Grief, grieving, it’s a funny thing. We miss that little cat so much. Cats grieve too. Yes, that’s Nutley with the sad sad eyes. He misses his brother. We are hugging Nutley extra close.


Snap(shot)s

Random today… selection of pics. I have evolved from a single pic and story. Too many images, too little time. Good? Cats are our – Colleen’s and mine – life these days. We share much love with them. Yes… she loves to eat out, water view preferable. A frog, a duck, the sky, the moon, a grasshopper, all are fair game. Imerfect, (sic) true. Ha ha. I’m glad to have had the opportunities. A single shot/picture? Maybe once again, someday, but, not today.


Who do you love

It’s always rhetorical. Which of your kids is your favorite? Favorite cat? Answer: You love them all. Equally? Answer: You smile. Favorite time? Favorite place? Favorite picture? In the moment, I like/love everything. Wrong! You love your wife, elsewise, you will not live to take another picture. Ha ha.

I’m just randomly flipping thru the catalog today. Monhegan Island. Just like that, I could recognize and recall the meal, restaurant, and setting. How? Memory is a funny thing. Pictures are my trigger to open up the past for me. Otherwise I have monarch butterflies scattered liberally in my catalog. Good luck finding a pic easily amongst the lot. Ditto, sunset. Sheep? Yup, I do not recall any particular sheep. This is all a random draw.

Cats? It’s still raw to recall Ray, whom we recently lost. Colleen will say we have favorites. Less favorite? … to which I say, I love them all. Need I say, she is my favorite wife?


Three Five Seven Six Eight Seven

Colleen came with three cats from West Virginia – Patch, Elle, Willow. We got Spice and Feather a year or so later. And then came Ray and Nutley in 2018. Patch left us in 2021. Peas and Tillie came last year – because I had an empty food bowl.  That would be eight happy cats…. And just a year later Ray is gone. It took a while but the tears finally came. I don’t cry. I never did – too much. I was between the medical side and the emotional side of my personalities.

For fun, we did group shots of our family about once a year. It is poignant to look back now. Adding and subtracting, we have cats. Colleen laughs at how Spice, or was it Feather, one of them grabbed me in the pet store and said they were coming home with us. Tryouts! Each time we went to get pet food, it was tryouts amongst the rescue kitties. You win some. You lose some. Ray and Nutley proved adorable. Tillie and Peas are crazy. All are loved, the ones we have, and, the ones we’ve lost. No platitudes, please. I am no stranger to love and loss. It is never easier from one to the next. I cried today as I remember those we have lost. Seven cats again. Colleen said it best, “It feels very empty in the house with Ray suddenly gone.”


Reliable

The only reliable way to tell Ray from Nutley is the colored dark fur on the back of Nutley’s neck. After that it was their tendencies and habits. Ray liked to “chew” on his brother. Everyone likes being in a basket or a box. Cute is cute. When you are being cute it is hard to tell one twin from another.


Twins

Twins are hard to tell apart. It is a small difference in fur coloring or pattern that distinguishes Ray and Nutley. Face on, they are pretty much alike, though they are hardly interchangeable. Nutley was so-named because of his insane antics. Ray, was the solid crazy cat who never hesitated to explore the world around him. His escape attempts into the outside world are legend. We had many a merry chase. Somehow he knew his way home and we always hugged him upon his return from his brief adventures. Cute? Yes!! Photogenic! His big liquid eyes gazed straight into my lens as though he knew it was his cue. Twin? Twins? Gee! Sometimes, there’s just no getting it straight, just like telling this story.


Never

Nat King Cole sang: There Will Never Be Another You

Ray and Nutley joined our family on July 3, 2018. Kittens. A nest of baby swallows were just learning to fly. Ray was named after Colleen’s cousin Mike. They were our sixth and seventh cats. We calculated that Mike (Ray is his real name) would not mind so much feeding a namesake when we were away. Ray came with the worst URI (upper respiratory infection – cold) ever! Soon seven – count ‘em! – seven cats were sneezing. Imagine a cat sneezing without covering their mouth. Appetizing!?!? Everyone recovered from their cold. We have not recovered from Ray’s loss. He was such a part of all of our lives. Even my other cats are empathic. They cannot communicate verbally. But, their actions – reaction to Colleen’s sad crying – reflect an understanding and empathy of profound loss. Me? I simply did not realize how much Ray was integrated into our daily life and routines. He was involved, tangled, in every activity. He had an outsize personality – a strong silent leading cat. Colleen recalled a long list of antics that humored us endlessly. He was a true loyal cat whom we loved and who loved us. I know I am inadequate to impress you with words how much we are missing him. Too soon, too soon, you left us.


A while ago

I have recounted our courtship and marriage before. Claddagh ring and Celtic knot – Colleen’s ring was made in Ireland, mine is of titanium. Symbolic? Colleen’s symbolizes friendship, loyalty, and love. Mine is a knot without beginning nor end – unity and eternal life. Titanium (was) – the material of spinal fusion screws that dominated my later neurosurgery career.

Dog year – it varies but, is considered equivalent to 7 human years. Our relationship is barely a year old. Baskets, beer steins, antiques, and cats are sprinkled liberally about our lives. We make elaborate baskets but nothing so woven as these from the museum. We have a real toaster oven. We did discover civilization as we got older. We have a fun and loving marriage. No, I do not know how a squirrel got inside a squirrel-proof bird feeder. Once in a while, I look back. Did I shoot that picture?