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. Diving. And a parrot encounter. One of the guys brought his pet along. It raised quite a stir. This picture is absent the woman holding the bird. She turned her head and folded her hat over her face. Well, WTF. You know, she wore sunglasses and I really didn’t give much care for how she looked. Besides she’s not in the photo. Sorry. But some customs baffle me. Anyway everyone went away happy. The blur is because I have my underwater housing and the lens is wet. No, I’m not opening the housing for a potential water leak. So I take what I get. Sometimes its good and others its for documentation. I wonder why the bird did not fly away. It was docile and let me pet its beak. It’s surely intelligent. I wonder whether it’s right to capture such a fine creature as a pet. But then again we domesticate, we tame, and we eat. No matter. The parrot was docile and did not mind going from shoulder to arm to head. It got a lot of attention and tolerated the strangers very well.
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!
Well, as I have commented before, it ain’t Lawrence of Arabia blinding. But at least it’s enough to comment upon. The light is funny. It’s decidedly yellow. The sun is up there. Wind is what blows the sand about. Duh! And it is like fog. The visibility is diminished. You don’t feel the sand upon you. It is too fine. It’s not like the grains of sand at the beach. That’s way to bulky for the wind to pick up. So, for the desert, this is the stuff of movies legend. I asked. It’s not the worst. It’s noticeable. It’s hard to photograph because it doesn’t look like anything too radical. There’s a layer of dust on everything. Tomorrow we’ll see cars completely covered. It will be like snow in winter covering all the exposed surfaces. Only then the cars that haven’t moved will still be covered a week from now. Its one way to collect abandoned cars.
Meanwhile, the best you can see is the visibility is diminished to the horizon. The problem is that not seeing a building is not a picture. So a single image hardly does justice to a sandstorm. Video might work. Palm leaves and trees don’t sway much in the wind. I’m still seeking a quintessential image. So far this is the worst I have seen. So there’s my image. Someday I might be able to top this.
Cats. I wrote about the bunch I have befriended. They are an independent lot. They come around when I whistle. I feed them. Lulu has adopted me. She moved in a couple days ago. And though I open the door, she stays. About the last thing I expected was to be chosen by a cat. Trust me. It’s a surprise to me too. To be sure, they choose you. Badi is friendly and loves to be petted. He comes to the door but won’t come in. Lily and Butch still swipe at me when I feed them. Lulu walked through the door and then proceeded to explore. Her tail was high in the air and trembling. Apparently she approved of my incredibly messy villa. She made no move to leave. She and I learned about kitty litter together. I will say that cats are smart. She got the concept immediately. Dogs do not. We are going slow.
Lulu had her first overnight. She’s been here a day. Eat, sleep, explore, and play. So far so good. I was never too good with diapers. So me and kitty litter are having issues. First of all they don’t sell much cat food. The grocery in Delaware had a whole aisle devoted to pet food. In Jeddah there is a small section and few choices. And there is no litter box. And, whoever heard of clumping! I’m not sure what I got into here. But I belong to Lulu now. Let’s see where it goes. Fetch, roll over?
Ok. Why not? The kids visited in a whirlwind in 2013 December. It was a visit filled with tension. Too little time and all at the seemingly last minute. The visa to visit was not confirmed until almost the day they traveled. The Saudi government does not grant visitor visas. And the kids were over 18 years old. So it was not so easy to apply and required a visit to the Saudi government office. Then the process started again in the US where additional paperwork required more difficulty.
Old city, al Balud, the area is now designated a heritage area. They are actually preserving history…just in time. (To digress: they still toss glass bottles out their car windows on the highway.) The kids are here just before renovation has begun. We goofed around. I inserted myself in the pic. You can see that I was learning about bending your knees. Remember it. It’s a good tip.
Ok, I suppose I secretly have a favorite. It would have been a tie with Badi. But Lulu turned out to be the one. Lulu, the name means pearl in Arabic; I took the time to look at some popular Arabic names. She more or less adopted me. One day I opened the door and in she walked. She had been in a spat with Lily and did not want to be near her. Did I mention that they usually all got separate piles of food? Yeah, five separate piles, like setting a table, each time they fed everyone had their own place and space. Badi and she will share. They actually nuzzle one another. Otherwise each keeps to his own space.
So, in she strolls. Her tail was straight up and shaking. Cat lovers will know what all of this means. I kind of get it. I fed her right at my stairs. Lulu ate and looked much more at ease that Lily was not a potential threat. Then Lulu took a stroll around my place. It’s not a neatly kept villa. My bad. She haunched back down to eat and had dust in her whiskers and on her toes. Yeah, my housekeeping skills need an upgrade. Then she got really brave and walked upstairs and downstairs and explored, all the while not panicking that she had no door out. No, I don’t leave the door open. We have mosquitoes. And I get bitten frequently. And I don’t want an obscure tropical disease. Yes, cats carry disease but Lulu looks clean enough and so far I am still healthy. After she explored, I felt distinctly as though I had been on tryouts.
The next morning as I came do to get my stuff ready, there was the sound of meowing I could not place. It turns out Lulu was outside the door waiting to hear me move about. She walked right in again and sat and ate. One evening she tried to persuade Badi to come in again. He wasn’t having any. So they both stayed away. Needless to say Lulu is friendly. She and Badi will rub all around me and hide under my legs for protection. Neither of these two nip or scratch. I can even jostle and lightly annoy them with hugs. They are easygoing. The big test is whether they are still hanging about while I am gone a couple weeks. I think so, they are getting fed from somewhere else, and they were getting along somehow before I started to feed them. Who knows? You know? Even as I write up this post I’m still having trouble telling Lulu from Lily. Imagine forgetting your kids’ names or their birthdays. Geee!
Bidi is female and pregnant I suspect. She’s got a big belly. She is semi friendly to the others but also came later. She looks a bit like Badi, hence, the rhyming name. Not too imaginative, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She has been regularly feeding till a few days ago.
I haven’t seen her in a week and suspect that she might have a new litter of kittens. I don’t know whether she’ll come around soon. Meanwhile she was medium friendly. I could pet her once in a while and otherwise she maintained her own space with the group, which meant approach at your own peril. No fights but it was clear that there was a zone of personal space around her.
Lily showed up late but is a fairly regular cat now. She looked enough like Lulu that I called her Lily just to have a similar sounding name. Hey, it’s cats we are naming here. And besides, they don’t respond much to their name. What the heck, they may have entirely different names amongst themselves. Am I talking to much to myself here? Maybe I’ve been alone too long? Note to self: check sanity.
Lily looks enough like Lulu that I have trouble telling them apart in the dark. The noses are colored differently. And Lily appears to have been pregnant in the past. The fact the Lulu looks alike does not reflect that the two are hissing enemies. Lulu, mainly, is very unhappy to be near Lily. See the difference? That’s Lulu below.
Lily for the large part is aloof to the others and often eats apart. She will sit upright prim and proper and then depart before the others. Lulu remains on guard till she goes. Badi tries to siddle up for a mating try. For the most part Lily is solitary.
Do you see where this is going? Five cats – five days – five characters – who’d have thunk me a cat person. Nope. Not me, I’m a dog guy. Ha!
He’s a little guy, the smallest male that comes around. So he is definitely not an alpha male. He’s timid and suspicious. He would run when I looked at him. And if I made a hand movement in his direction he would back off. He likes to eat but he does not come around every feeding.
However, I do tend to see him with Badi and Lulu. He did not show up right away when I was naming cats. So with his size, timidity, and occasional feisty behavior, I thought that Butch fits. Sorry it’s not Arabic.
It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t respond to the name. He and I have a shotgun relationship. He wants to eat but does not tolerate and physical contact. He swipes at me with claws fully extended in defensive position.
And he will bite at me. Rude but understandable, he and I have reached an agreement. I make a move toward him. He backs off. And then I lay down some food to eat.
That way I don’t get damaged and he gets fed. I make sure he gets a share of tuna. Otherwise, he’d be shut out by the rest of the group. You might say he’s the smallest because of his size. Circular reasoning?