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Kitten update: Badger!

At the bottom of the frame, a long-haired tabby cat with white socks is curled up against a bag. At the top of the frame, a short-haired grey tabby cat is sprawled, his head touching the other cat's butt.

Behold the Badgerman, next to his big brother Qiao! Badger’s person reports that he loves his big brother and follows him around imitating him just like a pesty younger brother should. Badger also likes to sleep on his person’s face, or if he can’t, as close to his person’s face as he can possibly get. He used to do that with me, too, so I have nothing but sympathy for waking up with a mouth full of Badger. Badger’s other older brother, Puff, who is apparently deeply odd, doesn’t mind having him around, either. And dang, Badger is big.

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Life: Still Crazy Busy

I feel bad for neglecting you, gentle readers, so I’m about to queue up a selection of cat pictures for your delectation. Daniel gets here Friday (OMG!) so this should take us through to Monday.

We shall start off with Braxton Bragg being an elegant and inky black pile of plushy darkness…against the grubbiest wall in the house, next to a pile of dog hair. What can I say, detail-oriented cleaning is not really part of my repertoire, that’s why I always call Atlanta carpet cleaning. Yet there was something so irresistible about his relaxed sprawled pose, with his head angled gorgeously upward and his eyes catching the light, that I felt I had to reveal my horrible housekeeping, just so I could share his gorgeousness.

Braxton Reclines.

Also, a very happy birthday today to the Best Mother Ever, parental unit extraordinaire!

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Lazy posting. Have a kitten!

Life: still insane. So I’m totally cheating and bracketing this week with Zeke, courtesy of his new people, to whom I owe not only a debt of gratitude for taking a kitten, but a debt of gratitude for providing me with pics for two posts this week! Y’all are the bestest.

With that out of the way, here is young Zeke in a sunbeam in his new home.
A longhaired tabby kitten with adorable white tummy, toes, and nose, lies on is back in a sunbeam atop a crocheted comforter in bright colors framed by white.

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Monday Morning Cute

Feast your eyes, gentle reader, on this pic of Zeke (the artist formerly known as Intrepid) that his new Dad sent me. He’s living the good life down by the coast with J and T, and in this picture he has cuddled up to T’s shin for a nap. She has significant mobility impairments, and I understand from J that young Master Zeke has figured out that while he may attack the male-person, with the female-person he must be loving and gentle, and has mostly mastered the art. He also takes great delight in touching noses with T to check in and make sure she has noticed him lately.

Just look at that happy little kitten face, y’all. The magic of the interwebs really came through for this little guy.A long-haired tabby kitten with adorable white nose, toes, and tummy, snuggles up to the sheet-covered leg of his person.

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Never brag on your dogs. Also, epic battle with horse fly.

So the very night after I pen a post saying the Usual Suspects haven’t really done anything all that interesting and have been, and I quote, “shockingly well-behaved”, I go to bed in my bedroom with La Diva Tinkerbella and the Best Mother Ever retires out here on the futon. Sometime around 0200, I am awakened by a Smell. Evidently Tink did not get the time outside she needed to poop, or maybe the rain was just too upsetting for her (she doesn’t like to get wet while she poops) but anyway, the practical upshot of everything is that I owe the Best Mother Ever a new pair of tennis shoes. Tink’s aim is pretty impressive.

This morning, I staggered out of bed, let the dogs out, headed back to the bathroom, went to let the girldogs in, and got buzzed by something that sounded like a very small WW2 fighter aircraft. Being the kind of person who handles these things with grace and aplomb, naturally I shrieked and ducked and flailed my arms, startling the girldogs into skittering into the living room to hunker down, and then slammed the door much too late to keep the invader out. Damn.

Turning, I saw this HUGE INSECT bonking its head repeatedly on a light in the kitchen, watched with deep fascination by the cats. Clearly I had to Take Steps; my compassion for living things ends when GINORMOUS BUGS OF DOOM invade my home, so I groped about for a tool with which to do battle and settled on my heaviest and most compact textbook of the semester, The Woman’s Bible by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. That rumbling sound you hear is generations of dead feminists rolling in their graves at the sacrilege. Luckily horse flies aren’t as flighty as their smaller counterparts, and it only took one mighty blow to knock it dead to the floor, whereupon I had to run interference to stop Roo from trying to eat it. It’s in the trash can now, and I am listening carefully in case it was only stunned and not dead. But I think I slew the mighty beast.

And then I let Beowulf back in, who was sad he had missed all the fun.

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I am home! There are pictures and videos and things!

I saw lots of touristy things, and if you click on a pic you can hit up my Flickr stream and see them. This is the critters edition over here! If you’re planning to have your baby’s picture hanging on the wall be sure to let him wear newborn baby hats for a trendy-look.

My friend Liz’s spotty pointer, Squish, who wanted the ball:
Squish wants the ball.  He is a black and white spotted German Shorthair Pointer.  His mouth is open and his tongue flying, his ears doing same.  Happy dog!

Liz’s hairy pointy-eared fetchydog, Spike. Spike is a Border Collie who just survived a bout with nose cancer but is now back to catching tennis balls on the fly and he tried to maul me for a plastic soda bottle when I walked in. You can’t keep a good collie down!
Spike!  A black and white border collie runs straight toward the camera, carrying a tennis ball in his mouth.  His upper jaw is foreshortened but this doesn't stop him carrying that ball.  His ears are back for aerodynamic purposes.

Spike would like his fetchy ball thrown.  In the upper right corner, Spike looks attentively at the camera with tongue lolling, dancing from paw to paw in anticipation.  In the lower left corner, a grubby tennis ball, the object of his desire.

We stopped for lunch at a pub in West Lavington one day, and ate in the garden. While we were waiting for the food, I saw something moving on the roof:
A tile roof with a medium-steep pitch.  Up near the ridge, a German Shepherd, tan with a black saddle, trots along with very little concern.  How surreal.

The German Shedder from the last picture, only his face, neck, and front paws visible, is lying down on a flat bit of roof with his big ol front paws hanging over the edge.  Next to him is a security camera.

There were two, as it turns out!
Another section of flat roof, with TWO Shedders lying down, their paws hanging over the edge.  The dogs are nearly identical.

Swans at Malmesbury Abbey:
Four swans in a line.  The first and last are gleaming white adults.  Between them are two adorable fuzzy grey babies.

I came home last night to traditional Virginia summer heat and humidity since it’d rained in the morning, which meant the bugs and frogs were going crazy. I managed to record it; there is nothing to see here, just the sound of bugs droning and Grey Tree Frogs going Rrrrrt! Rrrrrrt!

And then last night before bed we had to pull a zillion bones and toys off the futon. I caught the end of the game on video:

Video opens with Zille, a sable German Shedder, and Tink, a fawn female Doberman, in front of the Best Mother Ever, who is wearing jeans and a pink t-shirt. The Best Mother Ever speaks in DogVoice (high-pitched and chirpy) throughout. I never record myself doing that voice.
Best Mother Ever (BME): Is this your bone?
Zille: It is my bone!
BME: Okay, you better put it over there. *points to Zille’s bed*
Zille: I’ll just put this over here in my bed. *puts bone in bed, which we can see is already inhabited by several toys and bones*
BME: Hey, Miss Zille?
Zille: Yes, Grammie?
BME: Look at this big bone! Whose bone is that?
Zille: MINE! It is my bone.
(We can see Roo at the side of the frame, leaping into my computer chair and vigorously not-clawing the back of it)
BME: Oh, that’s yours, too?
Zille: It is. I’ll just put it here in my bed.
BME: Okay, you put it over there. Is that all your bones tonight? *goes to toy box*
Tink: What are we doing here? Why are we handing the Shedder all the bones?
Roo: All your computer chair are belong to me.
BME: Do you have any more bones, Miss Zille? *gets MORE BONES*
BME: Miss Zille, is this your bone? Is that your bone, too?
Zille: Yep. My bone. Mine!
BME: OK, put it in your bed.
Me (out of frame): *jet-lagged giggling*
Zille: I’ll just put this here in my bed with the other ones for safe keeping.
BME: OK, one more. Oh! Look what I got!
Zille: Wait, what do you got? Is that a bone?
BME: Is that your bone?
BME: Ah! Oh gosh, it is. Put it in your bed.
Zille: I will just put this bone here in my bed, where it will be safe.
BME: What a good girl you are!

It’s good to be home.

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I am in England

I am writing this on Wednesday night. By the time you read it, I will be in England with my fiance. So here’s a picture of Roo in his England footsoccerball shirt that says “JUST ROO IT”. If you are confused as to why people are making personalized footsoccerball World Cup shirts for my cat, googling “Wayne Rooney” may prove instructive. I don’t know why a footsoccerball player in England named himself after my cat, but there you go.

Rooney Lee, an orange and white Cornish Rex cat with very short, very soft wavy hair, the picture taken from above and behind him.  He is looking over his shoulder toward the camera, wearing a white t-shirt on which is emblazoned the red Cross of St George that is the flag of England.  In three of the four quadrants thus produced are one word each, which read JUST ROO IT.  The word England is written in white on the red horizontal bar of the cross.  The fourth quadrant has the FIFA logo but no one cares about that.

I have other posts queued up, never fear! But while you’re reading them, I’ll be off having adventures.

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This is the kind of thing that only happens to me, canine edition

This morning I was rolling happily along to work on a four-lane divided highway where the speed limit is 55mph and most people do 65, when the car a ways ahead of me slammed on its brakes, turned on its hazard lights, and then swerved. Around a dog. A freakin ginormous yellow dog who was standing smack in the middle of the right-hand northbound lane, watching the car swerving around him and the more cars approaching with a “My, how interesting this is” look on his face.

There is a saying I have at times like this, brief and to the point, which encapsulates a whole complex range of feelings and covers the concept that my day is about to get more complicated because whatever else happens, I am going to have to get an animal out of the situation it is in and into a better one. That saying is “Well, shit.”

So I stopped my car and noticed with deep gratitude that a good ol’ boy in a big battered pickup truck had pulled into the left-hand lane and stopped, blocking traffic there. I made a silent apology to the commuter traffic backing up behind me, and I briefly considered the three ways this situation could go:
1) the dog could be fearful, in which case I needed to step out in front of that pickup truck and try to approach him from as far to the left as I could get, so that if he ran it would be towards the woods beside the road and not towards the southbound lanes of traffic;
2) the dog could be aggressive, in which case I needed to step out in front of that pickup truck and stay as far away as I could while attempting to head him toward the woods, with the distinct possibility that I might wind up scrambling into the bed of the truck to get away from the dog;
3) the dog could be friendly, in which case I could get him in the car, enlisting the help of other motorists as necessary since they probably wanted me and the good ol’ boy to stop blocking the road.

Having briefly run these scenarios, with the dog still standing there watching my car with a relaxed and alert expression, I got out and stepped out in front of the pickup truck, trying to watch the dog without looking tense, and said “Hey, buddy! You wanna go for a ride?”

Oh boy did he want to go for a ride. He came right to me, which is when I noticed that while his back and sides were clean, his underside, legs, and face looked like he’d been playing in mud puddles and also that while he was wearing a collar for an underground fence, it didn’t have any damn tags on it, and when I opened the back of my car he jumped right in. I made apologetic and grateful faces at the traffic behind me, slammed the back of the car, jumped in myself, and started down the road with this ENORMOUS yellow Lab, a hundred pounds easy, trying to stick his tongue in my ear. I effectively discouraged that behavior, and he rested his huge head on my shoulder. His huge, muddy head. On my shoulder, which was wearing a white shirt. Jesus wept.

Then my passenger decided he didn’t want to ride in back, he wanted to ride in the passenger seat, so there I was driving down the road trying to hold a hundred pound dog in the back of my car with one arm while he leaned progressively more and more weight on it. I finally barked “BACK!” and he jumped back in the back of the car and looked so despondent that I told him it was OK, I wasn’t really mad, at which point he came back up and stuck his tongue in my ear. Again. And so it went for the last few miles to my office, where I left him in the car (thankfully it was heavily overcast and 70 degrees, so he was safe enough for a few minutes) and ran upstairs to look up Animal Control’s information, which is where I found out that 1) they didn’t open until 1000 and 2) they don’t take animals from out-of-county people anyway.

Well, shit.

Meanwhile, I looked out my window at my car to see that my huge, wet, muddy, and hairy[1] passenger had moved to the driver’s seat. Argh. I looked up veterinarians in the area and tried them, thinking they could hold onto him (and might even recognize him) but none of them were open. Sigh. So I made one last desperate gamble and called my co-worker Matt. Matt likes dogs. Matt also lives in the county we work in. I didn’t get him on his cell phone but five minutes later he pulled into the parking lot and I said “OMG HELP.” and pointed at the dog.

Long, dramatic story made short, Matt took the dog, called the sheriff’s office, got someone to meet him at Animal Control, and dropped the big goofball off with them, where hopefully he will be reunited with his family, who will get a better fence. Later that morning I called both vet clinics and asked them to put notices up about him, then posted a Found Dog notice with the local rescue group. I’ve given him the best shot I could manage, with an assist from Matt (I bought him lunch to say thank you). Fingers crossed.

A picture taken with a cell phone, but reasonably good quality anyway.  A white-clad arm is extended so that the hand at the end of it can scritch the cheek of a yellow lab, who is in the back of a Honda CRV.  All that is visible of the dog is his head, which rests on the top of the tailgate, and its head is HUGE.

ETA: I am so upset about this. I was sure he was someone’s dog and they’d be looking for him, but here he is on PetFinder. He needs a person or people who will take him in, get him neutered, keep him off the road, and oh yeah get him chipped and put some tags on him. Fingers crossed that someone can help!


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Summer time and the livin’s easy

Well, for dogs anyway. Yesterday I grabbed the girldogs and went down to visit C at Blackthorn Kennel again, to help set up new digs for her chickens and coincidentally attempt to tire out my Shedder by treating her to a family reunion. I wasn’t going to take Tink originally because she occasionally finds outings like this stressful, but as she watched me leash up Zille her head and ears and tail drooped, and drooped, and drooped, yet there was a hopeful little light in her eyes and the barest pleading wag to her tail. There are many things I can withstand, but not Tink using her best and most heart-wrenching tactics to ask “But don’t I get to go, too?” Beowulf briefly considered asking to come along, but I offered him a frozen turkey neck and a frozen chunk of rabbit, and he was all “Screw you guys, I has food that is also a chewie toy!” and didn’t even walk us to the door. He is sometimes problematic with other dogs, whereas Zille is the most submissive dog EVER and Tink just declines to get into anything that even looks like a conflict.

So Tink went. She got to stay in the house while C and I rearranged fence panels and installed chicken wire and other barriers and Zille played crazed Shedder games with the dogs she grew up with. I got to visit with the N litter again, and got barked at by the little red-collar dude, who is clearly going to be a vocal Puppy With Attitude. Their eyes are just starting to slit open, and their legs are supporting them for brief moments in time, but they can definitely creep more swiftly than you’d think.

Musket (brother to Macha, who has been mentioned here before) was Helpful!Puppy–he wanted to carry the wrench, he wanted to help hold up the piece of plywood, he wanted to know what you were doing so he could be involved, too. He is a hilarious, charming, and VERY ACTIVE puppy, who is in fact a perfect puppy as far as I am concerned: charming, winsome, and belonging to someone else. He will make someone one hell of a working dog some day, if you’re in the market for a thinky drivey sable boy then let me commend him to your attention. Definitely not a couch potato housepet dog, and you’d best be prepared to give him lots of constructive ways to channel his energy, but a real charmer and definitely wants to be involved in whatever you’re doing.

Nike was helpful, too. Well, sort of. Nike is QUEEN of sad pleading looks of “I am old dog. All I want in the world is for you to throw this ball in such a way that I may dramatically go and fetch it, without having to worry about these nasty young dogs taking it from me.” and also “I am old dog, and won’t you please gently stroke my head?” This meant the chicken coop construction was not without brief interruptions to gently toss Nike’s ball and gently stroke Nike’s head because, seriously. She’s had twelve years to practice puppy-dog eyes and she is GOOD at it.

You can see Nike and Musket both in the Illustrated Version of Will It Float?. Nike is the star, whereas Musket comes in at the third picture down, he’s the good lookin little sable boy nearest the camera.

The chickens had previously been living in a concrete dog run, and when they were finally installed in their new digs, which feature a tree for shade and a deep composty floor and bugs it took them maybe ten seconds to be all “OH HEY WE CAN BE REAL CHICKENS HERE” and start pecking and scratching and digging through the dirt and just, y’know, charmingly being chickens. I really want chickens. Ahem.

After chickens it was time to get in the pool, and we brought Tink out on a long line that let her come socialize with us and also wander off to the shade if she wanted. Zille got in the pool once, not very voluntarily. Tink went so far as to stand on the top step and get her front paws wet, she thought about stepping down to the second step but couldn’t find it (it’s hard for even seeing dogs to find that second step, let alone my little mostly-blind girl) and declined to go deeper but she did have herself a good time hanging out in the shade and occasionally coming over to check on us in the pool. She even got to be off-leash on the way back to the house and for once did not pull her “WHEEEEE NO LEASHES NO FENCES I AM FREEEEE” business but instead upon figuring out she was leashless trotted ahead of us back to the house and then stared back impatiently. “Why are you people being so slow?? Don’t you know the air conditioning is INSIDE??”

Zille spent most of pool time looking for a ball she could have, and a lot of pool time hanging out with Tink in the shade. Zille takes her duties as Seeing Eye Shedder very seriously. This left us with Flint the Loch Blackthorn Monster in the pool, with occasional huge cannonball dives by Nike, who WANTS THE BALL, while C and I just enjoyed the coolish water after our satisfying chicken-related labors.

After swimming, dogs got locked up in the house so we could go to dinner, and then finally I loaded tired girldogs back in the car and we rolled down the road back to the Manor of Mixed Blessings. The girls were so tired that they passed out in the car, got up long enough to come in the house, and then they kicked Beowulf off the futon and stretched out, butt to butt, and snored. At one point Beowulf approached to see if maybe there was room for a boydog there, and they warned him off in synch without ever actually opening their eyes. They did consent to get up for dinner but then it was right back to bed. I followed them after a shower, and then, MIRACLE OF MIRACLES, I got to sleep straight through until 0615. Even Roo did not wake me. What good critters I have.

There are no pictures, C and I were too busy cooling down in the pool. Ah, well. It was still a fantastic day, and the girls are STILL sleeping it off this morning.

In non-dog-related news, my fiance Daniel’s visa paperwork has made it to the London Embassy, which sent him another big pile of paperwork to fill out. We’re currently assembling the required supporting documents so he can send the stuff back and it’s not inconceivable he will have his visa sometime in August! Very exciting, because it means we will probably be able to get married early this fall! At which point, not only will I be able to treat you to the finest in the hilarity of living with a pack of quadrupeds who outnumber me seven to one, but also the finest in the hilarity of a nice British man moving to backwoods Virginia. Woot!