Category Archives: Animals – especially dogs

Resting with a Cat on My Chest, Hoping for an Angel Sitting on My Shoulder

On Sunday evening, this was the scene at our house.

In fact, I wasn’t resting at all but rather reading and commenting on the many blogs I follow. This is always a delight as I can go around the world yet stay on my couch with my cat—the notorious Sherlock,  who certainly knows how to make himself comfortable—and my mug of tea.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it was a merry blur of food, family, friends, and movies. We are a family keen on movies, and we saw two over the holidays—Coco, which we liked very much, and Murder on the Orient Express, a remake that got a resounding “Meh!” from all three of us.

Now it’s onward to Christmas, my favorite holiday. There will be Christmas movies to watch, cards to send, goodies to cook, presents to wrap, gatherings to attend, and twinkling lights to set out.

In Maine as well as elsewhere, December is the darkest month of the year, a good time to ponder the Christmas sentiment “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.” Unfortunately, we are far from this notion, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reflect on it, now and for the rest of the year, too.

And if we can slide in a little “ho-ho-ho,” so much the better.  This Christmas song—“We Need a Little Christmas”—perfectly captures the way many of us in the United States feel right now.

Here is a version by the folks from Glee.

I’m hoping to find that little “angel sitting on my shoulder” sometime soon.


A Punk Named Sherlock

This is our cat Sherlock. See how sweet he looks sleeping on Clif’s lap?

Nothing could be further from the truth, and this pictures give some idea of Sherlock’s true punk nature. You might call this Sherlock’s resting expression.

Nine years ago, when Sherlock was a kitten, and we first brought him home, he climbed my back ten times as I was trying to work at my computer.

Sherlock is a cat who likes to bite the hand that pats him, and we always have to warn guests not to touch him.

Sherlock is a bird snatcher, and he brings both live and dead birds into the house. We have gotten quite expert at chasing birds through the house and wrapping them in a towel so that they can  be safely released.

Sherlock’s sister is Ms. Watson, and he is such a bully—biting her to the point where sometimes there are little scabs of blood—that she hates to be in the same room with him. Here is Ms. Watson, on the lookout. Because of Sherlock, Ms. Watson is always on the lookout.

Like Launce with his dog Crab in The Two Gentleman of Verona, I could make a long list of Sherlock’s transgressions.

However, I will end with his latest exploit but spare you the gory pictures.  A few nights ago, Sherlock was in a fight with something that fought back hard. There is a huge wound on Sherlock’s neck that makes him look like a zombie cat.

Naturally, we had to bring Sherlock to the vets, and this little trip cost us $130. We were instructed to do unsavory things to the wound and on our own decided to treat it several times a day with peroxide. We have draped towels and blankets where Sherlock sleeps so that no stains are left behind from the wound.

All things considered, Sherlock is doing well, but needless to say, he is grounded. No more going outside for him. Maybe not ever.

I post this piece because I don’t want readers to get the feeling that it’s all skittles and beer at the Little House in the Big Woods. Far from it, as is illustrated by the  story of a punk named Sherlock.

My daughter Shannon, upon learning of Sherlock’s wound, commented, “Isn’t he a little old to be getting in such fights?”

Apparently not.

Addendum: My blogging friend Xenia from Whippet Wisdom advised against using hydrogen peroxide on open wounds. She noted that the peroxide interferes with the healing. A quick spin on the Internet supported her conclusion. Both WebMD and the Mayo Clinic advise against using peroxide on open wounds. So we will stop doing so! Many thanks, Xenia!


Last Sunday in August

Gone are the songs of the tree frogs and the peepers. Instead, we have the buzzing of grasshoppers and the sweet chorus of the crickets. In Maine, summer—lovely summer!—is coming to an end, and what a nice summer it has been. There have only been a few blisteringly hot days when the temperature climbed to the mid-90s. For the most part, it’s been perfect and sunny, between 75° and 80° during the day, and then cooler nights, just right for sleeping.

While autumn in Maine is oh so fine, I will miss summer evenings on the patio, where Clif and I enjoy a drink or two and listen to music. Already, the days are significantly shorter, and by 6:30 it is a little too cool and damp to enjoy sitting on the patio.

Still, we have a couple of months of warm-enough weather so that we can go on bike rides. And with any luck, we’ll be able to ride some of November. After that, well, no matter how much I bundle up, I am too cold to enjoy a bike ride of any length.

One of things I enjoy most about autumn is the nutty smell of the plants as they dry and go to seed. For someone like me, who has a keen sense of smell, every season has its own aroma, each to be enjoyed—even the cold tang of winter.

To celebrate August and late summer, Clif and I invited a few friends over for wine and appetizers. The weather gods were with us, and we had a fine summer’s day to enjoy being outside. As I was bringing appetizers and plates to the table, I noticed a colorful guest on the lawn. While the pictures aren’t very crisp, they are good enough to share.

After a bit of pecking on the lawn, it was back to a tree, where these beauties can usually be found.

Then, I continued setting the table.

Our friends Denny and Cheryl and Judy—neighbors all—came. We sipped wine, drank beer, ate appetizers, which included Clif’s legendary grilled bread, and talked about dogs, books, movies, television shows, movies, and politics.

The hummingbirds whirred to their feeders filled with sugar water. The finches, titmice, chickadees, cardinals, and woodpeckers fluttered, flew, and chirped as they came to the feeders with sunflower seeds.

Dusk came, and the green shadows deepened. By then, the food was mostly gone, and our guests said their farewells. We all agreed this should be a yearly tradition, a salute to the end of summer and a greeting to autumn.

Visiting Kittens

Our friends Judy and Paul recently got new kittens, and they invited Clif and me over to their house to see the babies while they were still in their adorable stage. (They grow so fast!)

And utterly adorable they are. While we had tea, the kittens—Cinder and Poppy—played, chasing their toys, their tails, each other. After a full fifteen minutes of rumbling, they were ready for a nap.  After a refreshing sleep, it was playtime again.

It was so much fun watching them, and it will be fun seeing them grow. Welcome, welcome, Poppy and Cinder.

Poppy is on the left; Cinder on the right




A Fine Little Fellow Comes for a Visit

This darling puppy’s name is Murphy, and Judy, his person and our neighbor, stopped by yesterday for a visit. We went into the backyard, which is fenced in, so Murphy could safely sniff and explore. And chew on a plant pot.

While Murphy and Judy visited, Liam slept in my office, and he didn’t even know there was a dog in the yard. Sad, because in his younger years, Liam would have been romping with Murphy. But as our dog buddy is now old and blind, it is probably just as well he didn’t know there was a puppy in his backyard.

Seeing the adorable Murphy reminded me of the time Clif and I took Liam, when he was a puppy, to visit a woman called Lovedy, the mother of a friend. Lovedy, known as Aunt Love to everyone, was originally from England and still had a delightful accent. Aunt Love was also wild about dogs, which is why we took Liam to see her.

Aunt Love took one look at Liam and said, “Oh, what a fine little fellow.”

Our hearts swelled with pride.

I told Judy this story and said of Murphy, “Oh, what a fine little fellow.”

Judging from the bright smile on her face, I would have to say Judy’s heart swelled with pride, too.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Murphy, you fine little fellow!


To Railroad Square Cinema to See Kedi, a Lovely, Soulful Movie about Cats

Yesterday,  as part of our week-long celebration of our fortieth wedding anniversary, Clif and I went to Railroad Square Cinema to see Kedi, a Turkish documentary about the street cats of Istanbul. As the title of this post indicates, I absolutely loved the movie.

However, before I get into a brief description of Kedi, I do want to establish I am more of a dog person than a cat person. Not that I don’t like cats. I most certainly do. At present there are two resident felines at the little house in the big woods, and I am very fond of both of them. But for me, dogs rank number one. That’s just the way it is.

Nevertheless, Kedi struck me to the core with its soulfulness and beauty. And unlike many documentaries, it didn’t seem a minute too long. (My husband Clif felt otherwise, and I’m wondering if all the cute kitten videos I watch on YouTube has built up my cat-watching stamina.)

Here is a blurb from the movie’s website:  “Cats, all kinds of cats, roam the city, free, without a human master. Some fend for themselves…others are cared for by communities of people, pampered with the best cat food and given shelter for the cold months. Cats have been a part of the city for thousands of years, and so, everyone who grows up in Istanbul or lives in Istanbul has a story about a cat….Street cats are such a big part of the culture that when US president Barack Obama visited Istanbul, part of his tour included a stop at the Hagia Sophia to visit its famous cat. Cats are as integral to the identity of Istanbul as its monuments, the Bosporus, tea, raki and fish restaurants.”

Kedi, which means cat in Turkish, follows seven cats and the people with whom they have bonded, including an artist, a deli owner, and a depressed man who finds meaning by feeding some of the street cats. From these people, there are lovely ruminations about cats and what they bring to the city.  One woman notes that how we treat animals is a reflection of how we treat people in general. So true! The people, while taking care of the cats, admire their Independence and let them come and go as they please.

Another cat lover says, “Dogs think that people are God but cats don’t. Cats know that people act as middlemen to God’s will. They’re not ungrateful. They just know better.” (This, no doubt, will bring howls of objections from dog lovers.)

Then there are the cats themselves—Sari, Duman, Bengü, Aslan, Gamsiz, Psikopat, and Deniz. The cinematography is nothing short of amazing as the cameras catch what cats do: prowl, climb, jump, leap, stalk mice, lovingly tend their kittens, fight, and show deep affection toward the humans who love them.

Kedi is a more a meditation about the street cats of Istanbul than a traditional documentary with an arc. For me, it worked so well that not only would I like to see this movie again, but I would also like to own the movie on DVD.

And there are not many movies I feel this way about.