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December 27, 2009:
This household is now crammed with birthday cards! Bobbi received 28 in the mail, plus 6 e-cards, and there may be more that were delayed in the holiday mail. Here in Canada, we have no mail until Dec. 30, so any cards that arrive then will be a full week late.
She also received a bunch of presents, but so did I! I have TWO new mice, a white one and a brown one, as well as too many sparkle balls to count and some Catnip! We opened our stockings Christmas morning, but the tiny bag of catnip Geneva sent me was missing. I hope Bobbi doesn't figure out how I managed to get that out without making a mess, and hide it where she won't be able to find it.
This will be my last blog posting until The New Year. Then we're going to start a Brand New Blog Page. But we'll put a link on this page to the new one, so nobody will be confused.
Before I close this, however, I have to share a darling photo of Lily, the sweet little apprentice in my MEWSical Society, taken in front of the Christmas tree in California. Note the adorable teddy sitting beside her:
December 19, 2009:
I'm so excited about Christmas, especially since I can smell catnip in the bottom of my stocking. It came in a very tiny bag inside my Christmas card from Geneva and Snuggles. Geneva is a member of my MEWSical Society, and I've been receiving quite a few cards addressed just to me, and others sent to both Bobbi and me with cat pictures on the front.
Bobbi has also received quite a few birthday cards, many of them featuring cats as well.
Did I tell you that Tyler, another member of my MEWSical Society, has been sending me postcards from All of the Place, documenting the travels of a purple cat? There's a series of 10 stops on Benjamin's World Tour, called Cat on Vacation. So far, I've received one from Paris and one from London.
It's Very Exciting to get mail!
I understand other cats are preparing for Christmas as well. Illustrator Cecile Moore says her cats "pool their allowance and replace the things they have destroyed over the previous year." And graphic artist/cartoonist Jane Denny relates the antics of her cats in cartoon form at: www.thepridecartoon.com There you'll meet Crazy Johnny, who is a Very Naughty Kitty.
Of course I wouldn't Dream of doing any of the things Johnny does.
Especially not just a few days before Christmas!
By the way, if your Human is worried about your skipping across her computer keyboard and Getting Into Trouble on the Web while he or she is asleep, check out Kitten on the Keys. Evidently this is a lock which frustrates any wayward kitties, requiring a password to unlock. (But hey, most of us are smart enough to figure out Passwords!) Download at http://www.100dof.com/kidkeylock.html.
December 13, 2009:
Last week it was DOG, and this week it's another CAT! Bobbi was at a friend's on Saturday for a big family Christmas get-together. With 12 adults and six kids (the youngest not yet two) one would think the two resident cats would have disappeared, taking refuge either in the bedrooms upstairs or the finished basement. Duncan did just that, but Sisko, an all-black feral who is close to 12 years old, wandered around among the legs of seated adults and kids sprawled on the floor, and even performed his tricks, which include "high fives" with both paws.
Sisko would be interested in a new book Bobbi just added to this website. The Older Cat: Recognizing Decline and Extending Life, was written by Dan Poynter. The mini-review is on our Cat Resources page.
There was also some excitement here last Wednesday when another friend of Bobbi's, Maryjean Ballner, appeared on the David Letterman show. She specializes in cat and dog massage, and had brought along Henry, whom she called a "rent-a-cat" so she could demonstrate. You can watch the clip HERE.
December 4, 2009:
Bobbi came home last night smelling of DOG! She went to a book launch at Mother Tongue Books and arrived early in order to bring our books to the store. So she went next door to WAG to have a cup of coffee, and discovered that this unique pet store is also a place where dogs and their owners gather to socialize. A Jack Russell terrier named Dixie immediately settled on Bobbi's coat, and her owner related several stories about how smart she is. For example, when there were two dogs in the household and the other dog was on a chair where Dixie wanted to sit, Dixie went to the front window and barked as if there was another dog outside. When her pal joined her to investigate, Dixie raced back to take the coveted spot on the chair!
I was pretty impressed with this story until Bobbi told me that when Dixie's mom bought her a treat, all Dixie had to do was lift one paw, and she got to gobble bite after bite. How Rude! I have to lift one paw and then the other to get just the first Tiny Treat, then leave one paw on her palm, beside the treat, until she gives me permission to have the second one. Next she takes the lid from the treat container and places the third treat there. I have to touch it first with one paw and then the other before I can have it. And my latest Wonderful Trick is to place one paw on my brown mouse and Leave It There before I can claim the last treat.
The book launch Bobbi attended was for Sylvia Adams' new children's book, Dinner at the Dog Pound. This noon she took the book across the street to read to the Quesnel children at Laura's 7th birthday party. When she came home she told me that all four children were very Well Behaved, and there was ice cream with sprinkles for dessert! Too bad I wasn't invited...
November 28, 2009:
We've been hearing about the Cat Writers' Association annual conference, which took place last weekend in White Plains, NY. Bobbi does a lot of volunteering for CWA, so will be receiving a thank you package from them in the next few weeks. I remember when this arrived last year, and it was very exciting, because almost everything was FOR ME! Yes, there was a cat calendar, and a little book, some stunning original greeting cards and postcards, and a key ring, but just about everything else was a toy or treat for Yours Truly.
Bobbi grabbed a few of things before I could get my paws on them, to hide in my Christmas stocking, which I am Not Allowed to Touch until December 24. I don't have to wait until Christmas morning because Bobbi begins to open presents on her birthday, December 23, and since she feels sorry for me, she lets me open one present then, my smaller Christmas stocking on Dec. 24, and the larger one on Christmas morning.
Yes, I have TWO Christmas stockings! Here I am on my First Christmas, when I was just a kitten, and then last year, when I was Much Bigger:
I understand one of the most popular toys this year is robotic hamster, and it's sold out almost everywhere. I do hope Somebody has bought one for me already, as that looks like Lots of Fun.
I've also seen ads for FurReal Friends, which include LuLu My Cuddlin Kitty, LuvCub Panda, and Cuddle Chimp. These guys evidently make "realistic" animal sounds and moves. That might be fun, although I don't think I'd be fooled for long.
November 20, 2009:
Bobbi was shopping yesterday and noticed a woman who had a kitty in a carrier in the front of her shopping cart. Turns out that Pudding accompanies her into stores all the time, and seems to enjoy the outing. Pudding is 13, and got her name because she's a tortoiseshell whose background color is orange, so she resembles butterscotch pudding. Torties are tri-colored, almost all female (it's a sex-linked gene), and those with white as their background color are called calicos. More torties have dark backgrounds, either black or grey (Bailey Russo, who is in my MEWSical Society, is a tortie whose background color is dark grey).
The store where Bobbi met Pudding was the Dollar Store, so as soon as she came home I poked into the bags to see if she brought me a new mouse-on-a-string. No such luck, but she did bring a package of three new jingle balls. I now get my daily exercise by chasing these down the front hall.
Speaking of names, Bobbi just heard from a friend who adopted a six-month-old cat from a local shelter. The couple who welcomed this little lady into their home are still trying to decide what to name her. What a terrible mistake! Every cat deserves a name Right Away, as soon as you bring them home. I know, because I didn't have a name for the first 10 weeks of my life, and it was horrible.
Fortunately, Bobbi had a name picked out before she arrived at the Ottawa Humane Society that day three years ago. As soon as she addressed me as Terzo, I knew I had found a home and Someone To Love.
She told me, right from the beginning that my full name is Simon Teakettle Terzo, which, for those of you who don't know, means Simon Teakettle the Third (because Terzo is Italian for third).
I also answer to Mr. Teakettle, just as Tiki did. And also like Tiki, I continue to learn new tricks. The latest one requires me to place a paw on one of my fur mice, and leave it there, instead of reaching for the treat in her hand. I now get it right almost all the time. I don't look at the mouse, of course. I keep my eyes fixed on the treat!
November 13, 2009:
It's Friday the 13th! I know some people think that's an unlucky day, but the Italians think that thirteen is a lucky number, and the previous Simon Teakettles who lived in this house always celebrated Friday the 13th because they were Black Cats.
One Friday the 13th David Lennick called us on Friday the 13th, from his CBC late night show, NightCamp, and he and Bobbi chatted about Black Cats and Superstitions. Tiki was supposed to handle the interview, but he was Otherwise Preoccupied doing Friday the 13th kind of things. Or so the legend goes. I wouldn't know; that was long before I was born.
David now has a Black Cat of his own, the Naughty Natasha (Nat the Brat), a member of my MEWSical Society. Natasha sent us The Rules for Cats, which I think all Humans should read.
I'm celebrating this Feline Holiday by reminding Bobbi about Everything That's Mine. She seems to think she owns the stool in the bathroom, however. We battle over this nightly, as she tried to get me to move to the top of the hamper (nowhere near as comfy) so she can Sit on the Stool. But everybody knows Stools are for Cats!
We also argue over straws. Since I was a tiny kitten, these have been among my favorite toys, and she bought me a whole package of them which she doles out, a few at a time. I hide them Everywhere, so I can find them when I'm bored (usually while she's Out). I like to flip them with my Huge Paws, send them skittering under doors and then running to the other side to retrieve them, etc.
It so happens, however, that Bobbi took a few of the straws out of the package first, to use herself. For some reason, she sticks one of these in a glass of water or That Funny Brown Stuff and drinks through the straw! This Totally Baffles Me. I don't understand drinking glasses anyway, because Everybody Knows the proper way to drink is to Lap up the Liquid with your tongue.
Humans are Not Too Bright.
November 10, 2009:
A few others in my MEWSical Society have been sending me things for this blog. Nibs sent along a poem Gill wrote for him (it's on the Extras page), and Sylvia has asked for my advice about Tulip's naughty antics. But I'm not the one to give her advice, as I have a few Issues of My Own. However, I don't pull the tablecloth off the table, like Tulip does! Nor do I perform any of the Other Naughty Things some people tell Bobbi about.
Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Tulip's Tablecloth Trick is her way of protesting that Sylvia's latest book is about a Dog! Dinner at the Dog Pound is about Wagstaff O'Gogg, who lived with a woman who ate only diet food. One day, he hopped in the dog catcher's van and ended up at the Pound. But the story has a Very Happy Ending. Wagstaff becomes a chef and finds his True Love.
I really like the fact that this story is told completely In Verse, and has Delightful Illustrations (by Sylvia's grandson, Ben). It also Struck a Chord with me, because I absolutely Hate my diet food! Bobbi cleverly mixed three dry foods together, thinking she can fool me, but I spit out the pieces of the food I don't like, strewing them all around the dish on the mat it sits on.
This makes Bobbi Very Annoyed. But I figure that eventually she'll Get The Idea and fill my dish with only the food I like. And I have to point out that cats aren't always Being Naughty when we misbehave. In some cases, we're trying to Train our Humans (Stop giving me the food I don't like and the mat around my dish will be spotless!). In other cases, we're Just Checking to make sure that sitting on the Frenchie chair (to use an example from my experience) is still Not Allowed. How am I to know unless I hear her Shouting and Clapping her hands when she comes into the living room to find me perched on The Forbidden Chair?
Before I forget, I have to point out that Wrestling the Treat Jar is considered an Official Sport in my MEWSical Society. You can see Lily's attempts to get the sealed jar open on our Extras page. She is Too Cute for Words.
November 6, 2009:
Mrs. Doyle reports that her humans have just returned from Hawaii, leaving her at home to mope and rehearse her drum solo for our MEWSical Society production of Peter & the Wolf. She drums every days, keeping time whenever anyone sings to her, so she may not need the help of NEXUS with our production. But we're enlisting them anyway, Just in Case.
Speaking of music, one of our favorite CBC radio hosts, Jurgen Gothe, has a website you might want to check out. He's a wine expert, and his site is called Grapes of Gothe. Isn't that clever? I wonder if he drinks wine out of Disc Drive mugs like the ones he sent us?
It's getting cold here, and I notice our squirrels are busy hoarding food for the winter. Hope they don't dig up any of our tulip bulbs! Last year tulips popped up in all sorts of strange places. Some birds have already flown south, but others stay here all winter, including my favorites, the cardinals.
November 1, 2009:
Hallowe'en was fun! I sat beside the door to wait for the children, and enjoyed all the costumes. I'm not sure I understand what this is all about, but decided they must have come just to see me. Here I am, sitting on the couch, inspecting the pumpkin which was full of lollypops, and also the three Quesnels who came across the street with their dad. I didn't have any trouble recognizing Laura as Wonder Woman, James as a dog, or Simon as a knight, but since Paul wasn't wearing a costume, Bobbi decided to cut off the top of his head in the photo so he could be dressed as Headless Dad. Notice how my eyes are glowing green in this photo!
October 28, 2009:
Happy Hallowe'en! We're all set: candy out, just waiting for the little goblins to arrive later this week. Here I am in last year's costume, and sitting with Spooky cat:
October 24, 2009:
Hallowe'en is almost here, and I've been so busy preparing for the third anniversary of my adoption (Oct. 26, 2006), that I almost forgot until Bobbi got out the pumpkins. I immediately took charge, as you can see below.
Last year I posed in a pumpkin bib, but I think I should take out my lilac feather boa this year. This boa was a gift from Steve Dale whose cat, Roxy, is a member of my MEWSical Society. Since our group is called Plenty of Paws and a Flurry of Feathers, I could represent our members by donning feathers. I haven't heard if any of them are going to dress up for Hallowe'en.
We don't have many visitors (Bobbi tells me there used to be more than twice as many kids coming to Trick or Treat, but many schools have parties now). But I do enjoy seeing the costumes, and especially like to be patted by our neighbors from across the street. This will be the first year RoseMarie will join Simon, Laura and James.
Simon (no, he wasn't named after me!) now comes every week to help Bobbi do a few things in the house, and he always finds me wherever I'm napping to pet me. If I happen to be awake, I wait for him at the door.
One of Simon's duties is to empty my electric fountain and bring it to the sink so Bobbi can wash it. I need to discuss this situation, because for some reason, Bobbi expects me to drink out of this contraption! I know all about fountains, as we have several in the house, and I'm not allowed to touch those. I wouldn't want to in any case, because the big one in the living room smells of bleach and the smaller one in the den smells of vinegar. Ugh!
So when she set up this fountain on the floor next to my food tray, I thought it was for my amusement. I do sit and watch it sometimes, and have even been known to touch the cascading stream with my paw when nobody's looking. But I'd rather drink out of my stainless steel bowl in the bathroom.
Like Tiki, I am puzzled by all the things humans do with water. Every weekend I watch her fill a plastic jug with water and add some to each of the plants. Why doesn't she just put them outside in the rain? And why does she have so many plants anyway. I'm not allowed to eat any of them (except my tiny dish of cat grass) and they aren't fun to play with.
Then there are all the things Bobbi does with water in the bathroom. Tiki wrote an article about this, called Grow Your Own Fur Coat, which is one of the most popular pieces in Mewsings/Musings. Like me, he found it odd to watch Bobbi do things in the bathroom sink, the shower, and even the kitchen sink, although I do understand that she cleans my water and food dishes there. The real puzzle is the toilet. I'd be glad to share my litterbox with her, but she always politely refuses. Go figure.
October 17, 2009:
I've been profiled in the October issue of 55 Plus,
a regional magazine. The feature is called The Cat Who Owns
the Company. Because this is a magazine for those over 55, Bobbi
is actually the focus of the profile. I don't mind, as I have to
admit I couldn't run the company without her! The wonderful
photo of the two of us (which we use on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other
sites) was taken by our pal, Shannon Mannion. See:
http://www.fifty-five-plus.com/ and click on the Ottawa/Kingston edition. . There's also a direct link to the PDF version at: http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/megram/55OctoberOttawa/2009092801/
October 13, 2009:
I thought I should tell you about all the Words I Know, since you can't hear what Bobbi is saying on the video. Here's a partial list of my vocabulary: Come Here, Sit, Paw, Other Paw, Sit up Nicely (that means without grabbing!), Leave it There (I sometimes drool as I watch the treat sitting in her palm as I "Leave it There"), Kiss, Wash, Get It, Catch It (with my Huge Paws, that's not hard to do!), Mouse, Lap, Shoulder (she often asks me to cuddle up beside her shoulder when we go to bed), and Touch it With Your Paw.
Of course there are some negative commands as well: No, Get Down, No Scratching, and Get Out of There! This last admonition happens when I'm either hiding or retrieving a mouse from the closet. I only open the sliding closet doors, however, not the sliding door between the two sides of the bathroom. She closes that in the winter to keep the heat inside the part where the shower is, and I sit outside the door and cry until she opens it enough to let me in.
Bobbi doesn't understand why I don't use a paw to open the door, since I do that with the closets. But I think it's different if there's someone behind the closed door. It's somehow impolite to stick your whiskers where they aren't welcome.
October 10, 2009:
Finally, Bobbi figured out how to include the VIDEO from my Birthday Party into this blog. I couldn't help, because I'm not Web-Savvy. In fact, the only thing I know how to do is use the keyboard. Thanks to my Giant Paws, I can use the Shift key, which I Really Like, as you can see. But I don't have to worry about spelling and All That Other Stuff because Bobbi has things set up to correct as we write. So all I have to do is decide What To Say.
Anyway, check out the neat yellow Plug-In above. The sound on Bobbi's little flip camera wasn't turned up enough, so you can't hear everything she's saying, so let me take you through Our Routine.
First, I give one paw, then the other. Bobbi always says Thank You each time. Then she puts a treat on her hand, and tells me to Leave it there. I'm usually pretty good about that, but I was Quite Excited at the party, so didn't wait as long as I normally do.
I also Sit up Nicely, then touch the treat with one paw and then the other when it's on a dish. Bobbi was really smiling when I touched the little purple mouse instead of the treat, because that's a fairly New Trick I had just learned. We're now working on other objects. Last night I touched the Red Pen instead of the treat. How smart is that?
Because we had just received the lovely Disc Drive mugs from our pal, Jurgen Gothe, Bobbi took one out for me to touch. As you can see, I didn't just touch it, I put my paw Right Inside!
October 8, 2009:
Although I hate riding in the car, I didn't put up too much of a fuss earlier this week when Bobbi took me to the vet for my annual check-up. We saw a different vet this time, and she was very sweet, even sending us home with a new toy for me to play with! She thinks it might encourage me to exercise more and keep my weight down. It's called a Cat Dancer, and I just adore it!
What an interesting fall this has been. Bobbi is still picking raspberries from our bushes, and the petunias along the front walk remain in full bloom, looking a bit odd against the red leaves of the burning bush! West Quebec (just across the Ottawa River from Canada's capital) usually has a hard frost before Canadian Thanksgiving, but this year we've continued to have fairly mild days and nippy evenings, but no damaging frost.
My MEWSical Society has just lost its first member. But we decided that Shooter should remain on the Society page, as our Director Emeritus. She has her own gallery of memories, photos and cartoons on our friend Garry's website: http://thestephs.ca/current.html#Cat
Last week, Bobbi attended the first production of the current season at Great Canadian Theatre Company. This is GCTC's 35th anniversary, and they gave subscribers a neat tote bag and a pen to mark this milestone. I promptly took possession of the bag, as you can see in the photo below left. The photo on the right shows me holding onto Tazi while I nap, making sure he doesn't get into trouble while I'm not watching him:
September 30, 2009:
Did you know that October 4 is World Animal Day? That date was selected because it's the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Haven't figured out yet how we'll celebrate. I spend every day sitting in the dining room window watching the squirrels devour the sunflower seeds in their feeder, then scour the ground underneath the maple tree for the ones that dropped.
A pair of cardinals also enjoy that feeder all year round, and it's interesting to watch the male sit on the top of the feeder or a low branch, waiting for the squirrels to finish, while the female waits nearby, either on the edge of our little stone fountain or on the branches above it. These are recycled twigs that have fallen from the maple, that have been stuck into the ground behind the fountain, braced with a metal rod, and hung with LED Christmas lights. It's very pretty!
We also had goldfinches at that feeder this year, and noticed the cardinals were generous and patient, waiting for the tiny ones to eat before them.
Not the birds at the feeders in the office window! They squabble over places at the feeder there, although if they lined up in a row, there would be plenty of room.
At night, when there's not much to see out of the windows, I play with my own menagerie. It includes several sizes, colors and varieties of mice, as those of you who have been reading this blog already know about. But I've also taken to playing with some rubber snakes.
They were Tiki's favorites, but I'm puzzled why Bobbi wants me to touch the snake for a treat. Is she crazy? Every cat knows the last thing you'd ever do is touch a snake with your paw. Instead, when you see a snake you grab it, just behind the head, in your mouth, shake it and shake it and shake it, and bite HARD. Tiki left behind an entire colony of headless rubber snakes.
More about other animals in the next few days, as World Animal Day approaches.
September 26, 2009:
I think we need to point out that, in keeping with Margaret Atwood's fictional warning about the future of the planet if humans don't mend their ways, the Virtual Tour of Peter & the Wolf leaves no carbon footprint! You can connect directly to Year of the Flood by clicking on the link.
Steve Dale, whose Roxy is the Hospitality
Director for the U.S. leg of the tour, has a new blog. Go to:
http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/steve-dale-pet-world/ to get the latest news and information about cats and dogs.
Another Society member, Tyler Coxon, is taking his role as one of the Hunters seriously. He hunted down a photo of his pal, Gerry, whom he misses very much. Gerry used to sleep on his back with one foot on the drawer which contained favorite playthings. Gerry learned to open the drawer, and also take other treasures he was able to snatch to a little hiding place he had in the basement. He was also able to walk on his hind legs. He'd stand up to look out the picture window, then forget he wasn't on all fours and take as many as five steps before he realized what he was doing.
Did I mention that Bobbi was one of the judges for the Cat Writers' Association annual contest? She does this ever year, but I can't reveal what categories she judged, because that's a Big Secret until the winners are announced at the Conference in November.
September 20, 2009:
We just read an article in TIME about a dog who has learned how to recognize the names of 200 objects, and can find a toy hidden under one of a line of cups by watching his owner point to the right cup. We were shocked by this revelation. First of all, how did that dog manage to accumulate 200 toys? But even more important, what makes the researchers think that a cat couldn't do this?
In fact, Tiki was able to touch with his paw the object Bobbi named (from a group of three), and even understood the concept of ball, as she used several different balls of varying size and colors. I've just turned three, so I'm just starting to learn Tiki's repertoire, but we've been rehearsing for the past week my touching a toy instead of the treat, when Bobbi holds them in different hands.
We keep promising to post the video of me doing my tricks, but haven't managed to film one in good enough light to be clearly visible. This week we'll try again (using someone else to hold the camera, as Bobbi only has two hands!).
This isn't a video, but a clever slideshow of my pal Geneva hunting for a place to nap: Click HERE.
Geneva, of course, is a member of our MEWSical Society, and we just heard that Todd Duckworth, the local actor who has offered to help the duck in our Virtual Production of Peter & the Wolf, is one of the actors performing at the staged launch of Margaret Atwood's new book, Year of the Flood. Ms. Atwood and Bobbi have met several times, and we have postcards in our collection that various Atwood cats sent to Simon I. Bobbi also used a quote from Atwood in Five Fast Steps to Better Writing.
Now that the summer is over (I'm hoping it remains warm enough during the day to have the front door open a little while longer!) we'll be rehearsing for Peter & the Wolf. There is no set schedule, of course, because we're cats! But at least the final cast is not set. You can see it HERE.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to teach Tazi (see my last blog entry) to play the tambourines:
September 12, 2009:
Local members of the MEWSical Society sent their humans to a dinner meeting last Friday. Gill, Sylvia, Theresa, Deb, Eileen, June, and Bobbi gathered at Biagio's Italian Kitchen to swap cat stories and report catty comments they overheard about the casting of Peter & the Wolf.
Evidently, I'm not the only one who dislikes closed doors. Many of us slip our paws under bi-fold or sliding doors to open them, and some are even able to grab a door or cupboard handle! Another idiosyncracy we share is interest in our human's bathroom behavior. Bertha always watches Eileen take her morning shower and brush her teeth before bed, and Bobbi told them how she and I dispute who owns the stool in our bathroom. I always try to nab it before she has a chance, and only reluctantly move to the top of the hamper when she insists she needs to sit on the stool.
June related how Tyler enjoys visits from his feline neighbor when June is not there to keep him company, and Sylvia claims Tulip is so heavy because she prefers to watch Sylvia play with the toys, instead of chasing them herself. I must admit I do the same. But I have an Ulterior Motive. I think Bobbi needs the exercise of bending down to retrieve balls more than I do!
Another thing many of us have in common is sleeping on our backs with all four paws in the air! Hope we get some photos of those poses.
Deb reported that Jazz had welcomed Lily as his apprentice in the MEWSical Society, and Theresa said Geneva is eager to collaborate with Bertha on choreography for Peter & the Wolf.
Meanwhile, our fight director, John Koensgen, is currently acting in Noises Off at The Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa, will direct the next play there (The Final Twist), then moves to the National Arts Centre to join the newly-formed theatre company there in a productions of A Christmas Carol. In the new year he returns to GCTC to co-star in a world premiere of Arthur Milner's play, Facts.
Speaking of theatre, Willow Bird sent me two badges from the Edmonton Fringe Festival. The smaller one bears the Fringe logo (a jester's hat) and the line PAID IN FULL. I had Bobbi pin this on a neck scarf, and the photo is below.
I'm jealous that Jazz and Aimee now have Lily as an apprentice, so I'm training one of my own. Bobbi bought him to use as a stand-in, in case we were bombarded with so many media requests I needed some help. I was delighted that Tazi has turned out to be a little girl, and am including a series of photos as I began to train her, as well as one when I fell asleep during the training session.
September 7, 2009:
Evidently today is Labor Day (spelled Labour in Canada, for reasons that elude me). I don't understand any part of this concept (both the spelling conundrum and the idea of WORK). It's not that cats are lazy (even though we do spend 60% of our day napping). It's that the kind of useful activities we undertake are directly related to the basics of life: food, comfort, and play.
If one is lucky enough to live with a loving human, you don't have to worry too much about food and comfort. Since I'm currently celebrating my third birthday and subsequent adoption by Bobbi, I never have to worry about having enough to eat. As long as I sit beside my tray, Bobbi is willing to fill my dish. Granted, I'm not crazy about her menu choices, which include two different Weight-Reduction dry selections (which taste a bit like sawdust!) and a tiny bit of The Food I Prefer.
But I do get treats (although I have to perform to earn those), and I have many comfy places to curl up in various rooms in the house we share. Every so often I change where I take my naps. For most of the summer I stretched out on the backs of one of the couches in the living room for some of the time, and curled up on the bed the rest of the time.
This past week I suddenly decided to climb on the back of the "other" chair in the den, the one she Never Sits In. Don't ask me why. Cats Don't Explain.
Geneva, who sent me a little bag of catnip for my birthday, has a slide show of her search for the best place to take a nap HERE. In this household, catnip is stored in the hall closet. Here I am, searching the closet to find it, and then triumphantly playing with the bag. As you can see, I'm even willing to share it with my lizard.
August 31, 2009:
Would you believe we're still struggling with our computer? After many trips back to the company where we had it built (to Bobbi's specifications), it still isn't working properly. Bobbi is so frustrated she's considering learning from the llamas how to spit! (If you don't get that reference, scroll down to read our August 13 entry.)
She's already contacted the Better Business Bureau, and just had them re-open the claim because the promised repairs have made a bunch of things worse. Would you believe that the Technical Manager spelled her name wrong when he reinstalled Windows?
So I'm trying to provide some distraction to get calm her down.
First of all, my name, Simon Teakettle (with a description of how the name came about, and why my nickname is Terzo) is in a new book, The Cat-Lovers Book of Days, by Peg Silloway. Each of the book's 366 days is all about cats including famous people they've lived with, their place in history, myth, and magic. It will be published in October, but you can check it out now at: http://sillowaypress.com/pages/bookstore.html
We also came across some interesting information about how cats are being used in therapy. Pat Gonser, founder of Pets and People reports that Companions in Therapy & Service started doing therapy work with one of her cats in the 1990s. She says that many people do not like dogs, but they need a service animal. These people can use a service cat instead. These service felines are able to alert when there is imminent danger. To alert you, the cat may paw at you or sit on your chest.
Since there is no organization that trains service cats, Pets and People provides help for people that want to train their own cats. Gonser says that starting with a kitten is best. Using clicker training, a cat can be taught to alert the arrival of a seizure. Cats, just like dogs, have an innate sense of when seizures are coming. Kittens can also be taught to use a telephone when the owner is unable to call for help.
Click HERE for an article from Newsday explaining this further. Of course, I am living proof that cats can be trained. Bobbi's award-winning article outlining her method (without using a clicker) is HERE. That article won the Sticky Paws award for best article on training at the 2002 Cat Writers' Association conference.
August 25, 2009:
My namesake third birthday party was a huge success! Sunday afternoon began with a pre-party visit from the three little ones across the street, delivering their hand-made cards. You'll see Laura, Simon and James below left, the balloons Simon helped Bobbi blow up in the middle (with the two Disc Drive mugs that arrived just in time for my Big Celebration), and on the right, here I am preparing for my visitors by resting up.
August 20, 2009:
I guess everybody knows that kittens are so appealing that videos of kitten antics dominate YouTube and spread virally through the Internet.
So I guess we shouldn't be surprised that a darling little feral has charmed her way into my Virtual MEWSical Society. You may have read about Lily, the baby sister of Max Fry, when I reported on her accident on August 8. As she was recovering, she decided this life-changing experience meant she was destined for a Great Career.
Lily decided she should apprentice with a few of The Best, in order to make the most Informed Decision. What a determined little cat!
When she sent me the following photos, I had to
give in an add her as my MEWSical
Society's very first Apprentice. She is not a Full Member, so as not
to disturb our magical number of 33 cats and a parrot,
but she will be allowed to attend rehearsals of Peter
& the Wolf so
she can learn how to play the piano from Jazz, and how to
handle publicity from Aimee.
So here's Lily, auditioning on the piano, and showing her Maine Coon tail
as she relaxes after checking publicity opportunities in the local paper.
August 13, 2009:
It's just 10 days until my Big Birthday Party! Bobbi is busy preparing for that, but I've been spending my time on my MEWSical Society. I'm delighted to announce that we've added our 33rd and last member, a Devon Rex from Chicago. Rox lives with award-winning broadcaster and syndicated columnist Steve Dale, and you may recall that Bobbi was the featured guest on Steve's show when she was in Chicago in October, 2007. Steve is a strong advocate for all animals (he and his wife also have a dog), and he's the driving force behind a special fund at the Winn Foundation, in memory of Roxy's predecessor, Ricki, a Rex who played the piano!
Meanwhile, a pushy alpaca is trying to muscle into the Society! Here is Brinks, one of five alpacas who live with a llama in the red barn near Fort Smith, NWT, with Tango, a member of my MEWSical Society, her dog pal, Sanchez, and Bobbi's friend Helena. Tango reports that the llama, who is quite a bit taller than the alpacas, is the leader, and the one who insists that my MEWSical Society needs a Humming Chorus. Evidently that's what these animals do when they congregate. By the way, did you know this species are called camellids, and are two-hoofed mammals related to the camel and the dromedary. The names of the troupe are Brinks, Blue, BeeJay, Hudson, and Morgan, along with Pumpkin the llama. This photo of Brinks made it into the calendar of the Fort Smith Animal Shelter.
We're not sure if we want to include a Camelid
Chorus into the Society. If you have an opinion about this,
do e-mail to let us know.
August 8, 2009:
More news from the MEWSical Society! We just added another member, a black and white semi-feral called Romeo, who lives along the coast between Haifa and Tel Aviv. That makes seven countries where Society members are based: Canada, the U.S., the U.K, New Zealand, Greece, Egypt and Israel.
Max Fry tells us his little sister, Lily, is doing fine after a terrible accident that could have been a tragedy. She was playing near a very stable, carpeted cat tree when one of the older cats jumped off the top and the structure fell on top of Lily! Fortunately, she recovered completely, and, at four months, shows no after-effects, although she gets startled at loud noises. No wonder! Read the whole story (with photos of darling Lily) at: www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.
We subscribe to a wonderful newsletter from the Commings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. It's called Catnip, and is full of fascinating information. We often copy portions of articles for our Cat Facts page. A recent article explained our napping habits, and I was relieved to find out that when cats appear to be sleeping (approximately 60% of the time!) we're actually in "stand-by" mode. As Judith A. Stock explains in her article, During a nap, a cat acts much like an idling car engine which can be put into the drive gear at a moment's notice, especially if a feline senses a prey like a mouse near by. So don't accuse me of sleeping on the job when you see the following photos:
August 4, 2009:
We continue to "tweak" the MEWSical Society, whose members keep us informed about their news. Omaste, for example, has another grand-daughter. There are three generations of LaPerm's in the Nichols' household: Omaste, her daughter Siouxsie, Siouxsies daughter Mouse and the new kitten, Zazie. They all live in London, England.
Two of our kittens have escaped from The Kitten Chorus and currently on tour somewhere in Ontario. They'll be sorry they left, because nothing is more fun that rehearsing for Peter & the Wolf!
Natasha Lennick isnt called Nat the Brat for nothing. She forwarded these Rules to us a few weeks ago, and although I have no idea where she found them (under the rug in the guest bedroom? from an Internet site that regularly publishes plagiarized stuff?) I felt they were worth passing on.
Tulip reports that she's put on weight recently, and wants to know the name of the two high-protein foods I've been eating to keep my weight down. I hesitate to tell her, because one of them is so unpalatable that I spit out those pieces and leave them on the tray beside my dish. This doesn't fool Bobbi, who just picks them up and puts them back in the dish.
She's been mixing three dry foods together, and also encouraging me to get more exercise. But like Tulip, I'd rather watch her play with my toys than chase after them myself!
Miss Noha sent us a photo. She's getting ready to
travel to the Mediterranean Sea to take a break from Cairo's summer heat.
In the middle Rufus and Sammy are watching Lorna pack for her trip to NYC, and at the right, Tyler helping June with her packing.
July 26, 2009:
I know it looks as if we took most of July off, too, but once again it's the computer that took a vacation!
It spent EIGHT weeks in the shop, and is still not working properly. That has me HISSING and I've never seen Bobbi so angry.
But life goes on, and I'm happy to say that photos of the three new members of my MEWSical Society are now on that page. You'll notice that Tigger is the sociable one, who posed for Bobbi's camera when she went to visit them a few weeks ago. Tippy insisted on turning her backside to the lens every time Bobbi tried to snap a photo, and Niblet kept looking to see what the others were doing.
We'll soon have a photo of Ginger, as well. Meanwhile, she remains busy planning the Virtual Tour of Peter & the Wolf. But that is going to have to wait until we finish casting. Cats, like people, take a lot of time off over the summer, bird-watching, squirel-chasing, and napping in the sun.
But I have come across some interesting tidbit to share with you. The first one is a fascinating website by an artist who incorporates many tiny animals in his remarkable drawings. Each pen and ink drawing by Chaz Letzkus contains dozens of smaller animals or people hidden inside. See for yourself at: www.chazmania.com.
So you see that Bobbi's charge that I'm lazy is NOT TRUE! She thinks I spend too much time napping and washing. I think she's a workaholic.
I have been helping her prepare for my NAMESAKE BIRTHDAY. Yes, this summer marks my third year, and we're having a big party here on August 23.
More about that later.
Meanwhile, here's my new Favorite Quotation: If you are too busy to purr, you are too busy. That's from Meow Tzu's Meow Te Ching.
July 7, 2009:
Okay, we have some explaining to do!
No, we didn't take the month of June off to travel to some exotic location where I could nap in a window with an ocean view while Bobbi played tourist.
No, I didn't do something terribly naughty to cause the computer to crash. Nor was I so lazy I abandoned all of my faithful followers and neglected to post on this blog. In fact, Bobbi thinks I'm lazy, because I spend so much time napping and washing. But although I think she's a workaholic, I try to be a Good Kitty and add to my blog almost every week.
No, it was all the computer's fault! Our main computer was back in the shop (for the third time in six months), and when the second motherboard came back from the manufacturer (where is was sent for repairs) and still didn't work, a new one was ordered. All that has taken six weeks, during which we had to use the old computer, which didn't have the most current version of the website.
Actually, the computer is back just for today, so we can update the website and transfer some crucial files to the external hard drive, so the Big Black Machine can go back for what we hope will be the Final Time, to have its new motherboard and a fresh copy of Windows installed.
Whew! Who knew these things could get so complicated? It doesn't help that the place that built this computer a year ago (to Bobbi's specs) sent the motherboards back and forth via snail mail. Sheesh!
While I wasn't paying attention (there's a rumor I was busy playing with my latest fur mouse) a trio of brothers sneaked into the MEWSical Society. Tippy, Tigger and Nibs Foss make beautiful music together, blending their baritone, tenor and alto voices. Tippy is a mostly white polydactyl with tan splotches, and a white-tipped tail. Tigger is ginger, and Nibs is half fudge and half white.
And our 33rd and final cat is Matisse, a seal-point Burmese who lives in Aukland, New Zealand. He helps the Lady he lives with practice her reflexology technique, the subject of her book, Reflexology for Cats. Shell be teaching some workshops in the U.S. in August.
Here are a few other things that came to my attention recently:
In Japan, they have cat cafes, where humans pay to go and play with cats! They can also get drinks and snacks, and the rules are very strict so that no one is allowed to do anything a cat dislikes. These establishments are popular with Japanese workers whose hours are often so long they dont have enough time at home to devote to a pet of their own.
And New York Citys historic Algonquin Hotel has had a resident cat since the 1930s. The first stray who wandered in and was adopted by hotel owner Frank Case, was named Hamlet by actor John Barrymore, who was starring in that role on Broadway at the time. Over the decades, all males have been named Hamlet and all females Matilda. The current Matilda spends her days in the lobby, often on the reception counter or the luggage cart. The Algonquin offers a special rate for guests who bring their pets along, who will find treats and local pet information in their rooms when they check in. Read about Matilda at: http://www.algonquinhotel.com/algonquin-cat. The Algonquin also offers a Writers Block Rate. Receive 25% off of the best possible rate, simply by showing a work in progress or a published work. Available throughout 2009.
May 26, 2009:
I was going to tell you more about my TV viewing habits, but there have several New Developments I just have to report. One is that Max Fry, a member of my MEWSical Society, has announced a new kitten. Her name is Lily, and you can see her at: http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades/. You can also meet Crystal a Therapy Cat. See her in her uniform and read tales of her visits at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, California.
We also just heard that Bobbi has had a goat in Kenya named after her! We'll have a page on this website by next week describing the program, with a photo of the goat and his proud new owner, an 11-year-old boy named Keli. The goat will provide milk for this impoverished family, baby goats for the family to sell, and help build an orphanage in this tiny town where there are many children in need. Here's a photo of Bobbi the Goat with the woman who delivered him to Keli (in the red shirt). This gift came via our good friend, Steve Pitt.
May 19, 2009:
I won the coin toss over the weekend, so we watching Animal Planet instead of PBS. The only thing I like on PBS is the occasional episode of Nature or Nova with animals. But Animal Planet is about animals all the time! The program we watched was called Cats 101, and I really enjoyed all the explanations (complete with real cats!) of different breeds. Even better was that one of the experts quoted was the current President of the Cat Writers' Association. Amy Shojai co-founded CWA in 1992, and we still have the letter she wrote to Tiki when he applied for membership. She told him he was certainly qualified as a writer, but explained, very politely, that membership was restricted to humans. She then invited Bobbi to become a Charter Member.
After 17 years, Amy is once again serving as CWA President. She told Bobbi that she taped a whole series of these programs, not just Cats 101 but also Dogs 101. I'm going to try to watch all of them, because I need to find out more about both species. I remember seeing dogs at the Ottawa Humane Society when I was there. They barked a lot, which didn't scare me, because I knew they were just feeling sad and wanting somebody to adopt them. Amy has written a bunch of books about cats and dogs, and is a Certified Animal Behaviorist. Isn't that impressive?
Old joke making the rounds again:
The dog says:
My people keep me warm and dry, feed me, pet me, brush me, and play with me. They must be gods.
The cat says:
My people keep me warm and dry, feed me, pet me, brush me, and play with me. I must be a god.
May 11, 2009:
One of the kittens in my Virtual MEWSical Society (Plenty of Paws and a Flurry of Feathers) appears on the Best Friends website in story by Roberta Beach Jacobson. Jorgito, rescued from a garbage bin on Rhodes, was then brought to Karpathos by ferry, where he joined the large colony of rescued cats managed by Roberta and her husband, Alf B. Meir. Roberta and Alf are co-founders of Animal Welfare Karpathos, a Greek island with no resident vet or animal shelter. German veterinarian Martina Greve goes to Karpathos twice a year to neuter and spay dogs and cats, and in between Alf administers shots and flea treatments. See Jorgito's photo and the story of one the latest additions to the colony (an adorable dog who has become Best Buddies with the cats) in Roberta's article at http://network.bestfriends.org/greece/news/34012.html. By the way did you realize that Karpathos is mentioned by Homer in the Iliad, and was one of the islands who sent ships to swell the numbers of the Greek fleet in the Trojan War?
Of course I added a comment on the site, to let all the visitors know about Jorgito's participation in Plenty of Paws and a Flurry of Feathers.
May 6, 2009:
Mother's Day is next Sunday, and I'm not sure what to do. I don't remember my real mommy, as I was taken away from her when I was just 10 weeks old, and I love Bobbi to pieces because she rescued me from that awful steel cage at the Ottawa Humane Society shortly afterwards. I know she'll be going across the street to wish the new mother there a Happy Mother's Day, and to deliver gifts to the other children. James turns 5 on Sunday, and Bobbi always gives little gifts to the other children when one of them has a birthday.
Somebody told me I ought to be giving a gift to Bobbi. Do you think she'd like one of my little rubber lizards? Or a few of the plastic straws I love to grab? I'll tell you right now, there's no way I'm sharing one of my fur mice with her! I love her a Whole Bunch, but not That Much!
Speaking of gifts, the Province of Ontario just gave the Ottawa Humane Society $500,000 towards the building of a new shelter. The current one is terribly crowded, which is why my cage was in the lobby instead of the Cat Room when Bobbi came looking for a new Simon Teakettle. I caught her eye right away, my huge paws reaching through the bars and my yellow-green eyes staring right into hers. I still love to do that, and sometimes, when I'm sitting on her lap, I don't curl up or stretch out for a nap, but lay with my paws on her chest and just look at her face.
Maybe that's what I'll do for Mother's Day.
May 1, 2009:
Bobbi has been busy writing book reviews. I don't understand this concept. Unless a book has pictures (especially pictures of cats, dogs, and other animals) I'm not interested, but she claims these three books are Important. If you want to read the reviews, go to the Books Recommended pages and click on Non-fiction (www.SimonTeakettle.com/nonfiction.htm). She'll be showing one of these, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, when she appears on a panel at the May 21st Ottawa Independent Writers meeting.
Much More Important, however, is that she'll be on The Animal Magnet - Pet Radio, hosted by Deb Wolfe, on Thursday, May 14, at 1:00pm. This program is broadcast in all 50 U.S. states and internationally to 158 countries, and has more than one million visitors a month. Find the Progressive Radio Network at www.prncomm.net, and Deb's show at: http://wolfe.progressiveradionetwork.org/.
Of course she'll be talking about Yours Truly.
Then, on June 4th, she's returning to the Laughing Matters division of Toastmasters in Ottawa to talk about Creating Simon Teakettle. She's bringing framed photos of all three of us, the original Simon (whose photo is the centrefold in Mewsings/Musings), Tiki, and Yours Truly.
April 22, 2009:
We were delighted to see an article in the June issue of Cat Fancy (I have no idea why their issues are always a month ahead) which mentions Simon Teakettle II (Tiki). Can Cats Predict Earthquakes, by Andrea Dorn. She describes how Tiki reacted the day before the tsunami that devasted the far east in December, 2004.
The April issue of Cat Fancy contained a feature article about the Chartreux, the fascinating breed of our MEWSical Society Publicity Director, Aimee Arden. The Cartreux is a "silent" cat, so she can't sing along with the others. But she's a great public relations' PURRson!
We're a day late in wishing Noel Russo a very Happy 10th Birthday. Noel's cats, Bailey and Cuddles, are member of my Virtual MEWSical Society, and have already snared featured roles in our Virtual production of Peter & the Wolf.
Tyler is jealous, and has sent along several additional photos to persuade us to cast him as The Cat. Here are two of them. I have no idea why he thought that curling up in the sink might influence us, but his "looking ferocious" pose is certainly convincing:
And Willow has sent three photos, to prove she's capable of playing The Bird. These are called "Contemplating Being a Bird."
April 17, 2009:
I've worked all week on trying to sort out the casting of Peter & the Wolf, the first Virtual production of Plenty of Paws and a Flurry of Feathers, my Virtual MEWSical Society. This has turned out be Harder than I expected! The cats, of course, are fighting. Here I am, trying to decide who should play The Bird, and then grinning when only Cuddles volunteers to play The Grandfather.
Do check the Peter & the Wolf page regularly, as more photos and casting choices are being added all the time.
April 13, 2009:
There's Good News in Washington, DC, as the Obama's add a pet to the White House.
The Bad News is that it's a dog, not a cat.
But it's Good that they named it after their cousin's cat.
Too Bad they weren't able to adopt a rescue.
However, Bo was "previously owned" and the Obamas have made a contribution to the Humane Society.
The first photo was pretty Bad, with that silly, multi-colored scarf around his neck.
At least it's Good that Bo is black and white (like Yours Truly!).
We have our own Good News this week: new photos of many of the members of our new Virtual MEWSical Society, Plenty of Paws and a Flurry of Feathers. Take a look!
April 10, 2009:
Happy Easter! Spring has finally arrived here, although we had snow last week, which took a few days to melt. Fortunately, the crocuses survived, and the purple ones are in full bloom. We also have orioles at the bird feeder this week. I love watching these tiny birds, as they remind me of Easter chicks. I have my own baby chick to cuddle. It was in my Easter basket last year, and Bobbi brought it out again this week.
Did I mention that my new Gatineau license arrived a few weeks ago? You can tell when photos of me were taken by the color of the license. 2008 was gold, and 2009 is a lovely electric blue. Both complimented my green/gold eyes.
If you're visiting my MEWSical Society page regularly, you'll see we've added our 29th cat, and are busy casting our first production, Peter & the Wolf. It will soon have its own page, with cast members and MEWSical numbers.
We've enlisted two human actors/directors to help out with this. Ottawa actor and director, John Koensgen, who teaches stage fighting, will mediate any Cat Fights. John is currently appearing in a production of The Net at GCTC, and will be in two Shakespeare plays this summer, Measure for Measure and Taming of the Shrew. Preparation for both of those should help him settle any fights among Society members. See Bobbi's connection to Shakespeare HERE.
We've also enlisted another GCTC regular, actor and director Todd Duckworth, to help The Duck perform his Disappearing Act. Todd will be able to show The Duck how to slip into The Wolf's mouth and slide, whole and still quacking, into his stomach, to await release by The Hunters. Todd is qualified not only by his Name, but also because he did a remarkable job of slithering from below the banquet table (when he played Banquo's ghost in the NAC production of Macbeth) into the empty chair, then sliding like a snake back down.
Todd is currently appearing in the NAC production of Ecstasy of Rita Joe, where he doesn't have to Disappear.
April 2, 2009:
I'm a Very Polite Kitty. I learned manners very early in my life, as Bobbi believes that if a human doesn't train a cat right away, the cat will train her! In fact, she wrote a prize-winning article, called Training Your Cat Like a Dog, which was published in Dogs in Canada and then in WalMart Pets, and is now on the websites of many rescue organizations. Read it here.
I learned to come when I was called within a day or two of arriving in this household. I must tell you this was because I just Love my Name! I never had a name before, and as soon as she said "Terzo" I thought: That's Me!
I also discovered immediately that if I wanted to eat, I had to come when she called me, and sit beside my tray. She wouldn't put my food down until I was sitting. Beside this tray in the kitchen is another tray with my fancy electric fountain. I don't actually use this much, and have even been known to dip my paws into it to play. I prefer my water in the bathroom, where I have a stainless steel bowl beside my Scratching Ramp.
That deserves some mention, because it's a wonderful invention. It's a large triangle of cardboard, with holes in the sides where I like to hide my plastic straws. The sloped part has that great Waffle Cardboard Stuff on it that I love to use to stretch and extend my claws. I also have a flat board I use sometimes, and a round one inside a plastic frame where I can bat the Yellow Ball and send it skittering around the track. That one is in the bedroom, and I often use it when I get up, or just before we go to bed.
Something else kitties have to learn very early is not to scratch furniture. I'm very good about this, except for the back of her desk chair. This really annoys her, which is why I continue to do it. It's my way of letting her know that my food dish is empty or I want to play, when she's ignored my subtle meows.
After I learned to sit beside my food tray, I learned how to give her my paw for a treat, and this has now progessed to giving the other paw, sitting up, and leaving the treat on her hand until she tells me I can have it. That's called Stay, and Leave it there. Just this past week we practised a new variation on this. She puts the treat on a flat surface and I have to touch it with my paw. It's always tempting to touch it with my nose, but that doesn't count!
In this household, cats are not allowed on kitchen or bathroom counters or on tables. I found this very confusing, because the stools in the living room are the same height as the coffee table, so it took me a long time to figure out why I was allowed on the stools (which provide a great vantage point for looking out the bay window) but not on the coffee table.
One thing I still don't understand is why I'm allowed to sit on all the chairs and the living room couches, but not on one special chair. This has always been called by Bobbi's family, because a French man Bobbi's father befriended made it for Bobbi's mother. Frenchie (whose name nobody can remember) was a fine woodworker who escaped just before the Nazi's invaded France, and Bobbi's parents invited him to many Sunday dinners. The chair is beautiful, solid walnut with exposed wood arms and legs, and a back and seat upholstered in a pale mauve abstract print.
Tiki was never allowed on this chair, nor am I. He was also Not Allowed on the living room couches, but I've never had that restriction, and one of my favorite spots to nap is on the back of one of these, on a soft grey throw that's very cosy. Here you can see my pal Princess lounging on the Frenchie chair, and Yours Truly on the back of the couch (with both buddies and our pillow). On the right you'll see me giving Bobbi my paw.
March 29, 2009:
Our primary computer was in the shop again, which leads me to wonder why Things Made By Humans often Don't Work the way they should! I'm glad that Bobbi has a manual can opener (to open cans of Fancy Feast), and doesn't need anything electronic to open bags of my dry food. I've lost track of the names of these, because Bobbi keeps trying new "weight-management" varieties, most of which I don't like, and now mixes at least four different brands in the big plastic tub she pours into my dish. I then, Very Carefully remove the pieces I don't like, drop them on the tray around the dish, and eat the ones I prefer.
We have other things that Don't Work. Most of those, fortunately, don't involve my daily life.
But just because the computer was in the shop (and she had to work on the old one), doesn't mean I didn't continue to work on my MEWSical Society. In fact, I've been busy casting Peter & the Wolf, and have added two more members to our Esteemed Group.
If you go to the Society page (recently updated and re-arranged), you'll see the Stowe brothers. There are a couple of reasons why we accepted them. One is that they live in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Who could resist that name? Also, both boys were strays, found in the middle of snowstorms. Bigfoot is part Maine Coon, which garnered approval from Jazz, and Pigeon is a black and white, like Yours Truly. He was given his name because his purrs sound like a pigeon cooing. We don't have "cooing" chorus in the Society, so we're naming him as our PURRsonal Assistant.
You may wonder why we decided that Peter & the Wolf should be our first production. A production of this classic happened to be the first program I ever watched all the way through on TV. It featured puppets playing the characters, making me realize that it would be just as easy for those parts to be played by cats. Peter & the Wolf was also a favorite request on CBC programs (especially David Lennick's RSVP) of both Simon I (the Elder) and Simon the Younger (Tiki).
Now there are obvious problems with putting on this production. Society members are clamoring to play either Peter or The Cat, while nobody wants to be the Duck, as that unfortunate cast member is swallowed by The Wolf. For this reason, we're going to enlist Pidgeon, who has proven to be a Survivor, to take on this role, and we're going to enlist the help of an actor/director from Great Canadian Theatre Company.
First of all, Todd Duckworth's name makes him an obvious choice. In addition, Bobbi saw Todd in a wonderful production of Macbeth at the National Arts Centre a couple of years ago, where he played Banquo, the ghost, appearing magically from underneath the banquet table, then sliding back down to disappear as the audience watched in amazement, only to reappear again!
Certainly Todd will be able to have whoever plays our Duck safely slide into the mouth of The Wolf, intact and alive, so he can continue to quack and then be safely removed at the end of the production.
Another GCTC stalwart we might have to enlist is John Koensgen, who is not only an actor and director but a teacher of Stage Fighting. How else will we ensure the safety of our cast, as The Wolf stalks them, and is later pursued by The Hunters?
This production is turning out to be more Challenging and Time-Consuming than I expected.
It's a good thing it's all Virtual.
March 14, 2009:
Our MEWSical Society is expanding, with our latest member joining us from Cairo, Egypt. Miss Noha Hagenguth is a seal-point Siamese who was left at a pet shop to be given away! Can you imagine such an indignity? Fortunately, she found a loving home which she shares with a Tibetan Spaniel, Sir Tommy, who likes to cuddle with her and lick her ears. These super-clean ears give her Perfect Pitch.
We've also added a Tour Manager, Ginger Collinson, a calico who lives in Ottawa, and an Assistant Choreographer, Geneva Jobateh, who sent us such an engaging audition tape that we were compelled to include her. She also lives in Ottawa, which fills our roster from that city. We felt that was appropriate because Bobbi adopted me from the Ottawa Humane Society, which was also where Ginger, Geneva, Tulip, and Big Bertha were found.
If you've followed Simon Teakettle Ink from the beginning, you'll know that Bobbi found Simon I in a free to good home ad in the Ottawa Citizen. He was a year and a half old, but lived to 17, establishing a career for the rest of us to follow. He was pure black, with not even a touch of white, which led to the black cat logo for the company named after him.
Simon II (Tiki), was adopted from the Gatineau SPCA, where he had been brought at just five weeks old with his mom and siblings, who had been found in a barn. A black feral, he immediately responded to Bobbi as soon as she picked him up, and after two more weeks at the SPCA to make sure his mom had taught him all the essential early lessons (eating, washing, using the litter box), he came to live here.
Tiki was also all black, with just a tiny white locket, and clearly had Siamese in his background. He lived just a month beyond his 19th birthday, and after looking for an all-black Simon III, Bobbi decided that a tuxedo didn't have to be all black, but could have white spats, white gloves, a white shirt, and even a white scarf. Clearly, I filled the bill!
So you can see why we're biased in favor of "rescue" cats. We support all humane societies and SPCAs, as well as Alley Cat Allies and several feral rescue groups. We're proud that two of the kittens in our MEWSical Society, Jorgita and Yoda, come from a feral colony on Karpathos, Greece.
March 7, 2009:
I haven't included any photos in this blog for a while, as we couldn't download any to the new computer until after we got it fixed. It's now working Beautifully (Thank Goodness!) and I can now show you what I've been doing this winter while the windows were too Frosted to Watch the Bird and Squirels.
First of all, you should know that I Hide My Toys in this nifty Tent, then poke my head inside to find what I'm looking for:
My other Current Activity is trying to learn how to Hold a Pencil. You would think that, with Double Paws, this would be Easy for me, but it's taking lots of Practice. The reason why this is Important is because I want to add to Bobbi's shopping list, so she'll remember to buy me another one of those Furry Mice attached to an orange plastic string. I have separated several of these from their strings, but only after spending Many Hours flipping them off the doorknobs where Bobbi hangs them.
Then I play with The Mouse, carrying him from room to room, sometimes depositing him on The Bed, or suprising her in the bathroom by carrying him in there, onto the Laundry Hamper, and then batting him onto the floor at her bare feet.
Eventually, I begin to pull the Fur Coat off the mouse, but I won't offend any of your Sensibilities by describing this in detail. Instead, you can read the complete description at: How to Kill a (Toy) Mouse.
Meanwhile, here I am trying to add Fur Mouse on Orange String to the shopping list:
March 2, 2009:
I've been Terribly Busy getting my MEWSical Society ready for its official Launch. I have PURRsonally selected all the members, making sure there are several from the Ottawa Humane Society, because that's where Bobbi adopted me, as well as from Far Away, including such locations as Greece, California, and the Northwest Territories. I made sure several of the cats were black, to honor our Company Logo. Simon I was completely black, while Simon II (Tiki) had a tiny white locket on his chest. But the only Black & White cat is Yours Truly!
I also wanted to balance our few purebreds with some ferals, other strays, and those who came from Loving Homes. Bobbi says we need to prepare a page of FAQs (I had to ask what that meant) to describe where all the Members come from, so that's One More Chore to add to my list! When do I have Time to Nap?
Meanwhile, as I told you Last Time, some of the cats are Acting Up. (I don't know about Mrs. Doyle, as she is Reluctant to Report any of her shenanigans.) Charlie wants to play the Big Bass Drum (I told him the Percussion Section is Full), and Tulip has learned a New Trick to get the attention of the poet she lives with. Evidently, when Sylvia is reading, Tulips presses down hard on one "arm" of her glasses and flips them off her head. I ought to try that!
But in addition to working on the Society, my Latest Effort has been figuring out how to open the sliding doors. We have lots of them, with closets in the dining room (nothing interested behind those) and in the bedroom (great places to Hide and some sweaters in boxes on the floor that are Warm and Cozy). But the door I'm really interested in opening is the one between the two parts of the bathroom.
The part where the shower and sinks are was added to the house later, so it has its own Baseboard Heater. When it's cold, Bobbi turns that heater on and Closes the Door to keep the heat in. That's fine with me, but I don't like it when she goes in there after a few minutes and Closes the Door! I give her a few minutes to Lick Herself All Over (I don't understand why humans use water and soap), and then I bang on the door to tell her to open it and Let Me In.
Of course the water is still running and if she hears me, she Doesn't Respond. When she finally opens the door, I march in to take My Place on the hamper, watch her dry off (Humans are So Inefficient!) and wait for her to minister to My Needs. This is the time when, if I'm Lucky, she'll brush me, or if I'm Not So Lucky, she'll brush my teeth.
One evening I managed to Get the Door Open by Myself! But I don't remember exactly how I did that, so I have to keep trying. Stretching up to reach the handle doesn't seem to Accomplish Anything, and although she keeps telling me to Use my Paw, I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to do.
This is Very Embarrassing, because she keeps reminding me that Tiki was able to open All the Sliding Doors before the age of two.
February 22, 2009:
Good grief! Send the computer in for some routine maintenance (removing a Trojan, whatever that is) and the cats go wild! Did they think we weren't going to use the old computer to keep track of things?
First, Bailey and Cuddles tried to sneak into the kitten chorus. While Noel Russo was at school (she's in grade four), Bailey climbed into one of her doll dresses, found another one for Cuddles, and sent off the photos. I suspect she had some human help with that part, but Noel's mom is mum.
We had to enlist Big Bertha to scold them, but in the meantime, Tyler was petitioning Tango to join the Purring Chorus in addition singing tenor.
Then there's Nat the Brat. She finally sent photos, but insists we use the one of her investigating one of David Lennick's old turntables. She wants to be our disc jockey in addition to singing obbligato. No, no, no! We will not allow any discs to be spun (or scratched) in our MEWSical Society! Spinning is for balls and yarn, and scratching only for scratching posts. And That's Final!
This blog has been mentioned on many other blogs, including the one linked to the website of NEXUS, Canada's famous percussion group. They've toured Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Brazil, Scandinavia, Europe, and was the first Western percussion group to perform in China. A recipient of the Banff Centre for the Arts National Award & the Toronto Arts Award, NEXUS was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999, just before celebrating their 30th anniversary season. They regularly tour Canada and the U.S., and Bobbi was in the audience the last time they were in Ottawa, a few years ago.
Our connection with them goes back to the first Simon Teakettle. He used to request their music on the old RSVP program on the CBC, hosted by David Lennick. In 1984, Bobbi was asked to assemble a group of square dancers for the finale of a Gala at the National Arts Centre for the Premier of China. The roster of stars was impressive, and included the Canadian Brass and NEXUS. Both groups were invited after the show to meet Prime Minister Trudeau and the Chinese Premier, along with the directors of the larger groups.
Square dancers wear badges, but because Bobbi wasn't representing a specific club, but rather the entire dance community, she wore her company badge, with her name and Simon Teakettle Ink. Both members of NEXUS and Canadian Brass recognized the name and mentioned how much they appreciated Simon's requests.
Of course Tiki (Simon II) and I have continued the
tradition, on various CBC music request programs over the past 28
years. When we discovered one of my kitten photos was on the
NEXUS blog, we e-mailed them, and have now sent them the article
Bobbi wrote about the Ziyang Gala. Check out their blog at:
We have lots of CDs by both Canadian Brass and NEXUS, and I learned to play percussion by listening to NEXUS. Even though Bobbi has refused my Request for a Xylophone!
February 13, 2009:
Our latest member of the Society has suggested a
modification to our name: Terzo's
I think that's brilliant, and want to thank Sammy Teakettle Olson (who was named after Tiki) for that wonderful idea. Sammy is joining us from Thunder Bay, Ontario, with his brother, Rufus. Sammy will be in the alto section, while Rufus will sing soprano.
Aimee has reminded us that her full name is GP Sinaye's Plaisir d'Amour of Ajolie. She explains that she wouldn't have brought that up if Natasha hadn't insisted that we use her full name: Natasha II The Black Russian.
Natasha is addressed as Tashy at home in Pickering, but referred to as Nat the Brat when she misbehaves, which, we are led to believe, is quite often. She lives with David & Donna Lennick in Pickering, Ontario. David is the former host of the CBC radio network program, RSVP, in the early 80s. It originated from Edmonton, and Simon I was mentioned so frequently that listeners accused David of creating a mythical cat. But Simon was actually writing letters from Gatineau, and as David moved on to host the program from Toronto, they kept in touch. David then moved to a new program, Night Camp, which was on from midnight to 1am weeknights, and Simon was his annual Hallowe'en night guest. If it weren't for this close connection with the Lennicks, Nat the Brat might not have been invited to join the choir.
Meanwhile we've had an Important Message from Big Bertha, the Leader of the Kitten Chorus. She writes:
I can see from the photos that the Kitten Chorus
has the potential to run amok if not handled firmly. Fortunately, I'm
purrfect for the part, having gained a wealth of experience with a
somewhat high-handed sister whose ego frequently leads her astray.
With regard to uniforms, Terzo, I implore you to reconsider your decision to dispense with them altogether by making an exception for the kittens who might not find singing in and of itself enough to grip their interest. I find that a chance to dress up is a sine qua non of kittenhood and should not be stifled. I offer this suggestion in all humility and will, of course, accept your final word without further demur. Sincerely, Big B.
Since I loved to dress up when I was a kitten, I decided Big Bertha was right. So Kittens will be allowed to Dress Up if they wish.
Which reminds me. Any members of the MEWSical Society who want to send new photos may do so at any time. I'll be happy to replace your current photo with a new one if you send us an Attachment.
We've already been mentioned in several blogs, and Aimee has put us on Facebook. We just added my photo in my Band Uniform as well. We're going to add a list of Favorite Cat Blogs on the Cat Resources page, so if you have one you want us to consider, do send it
February 11, 2009:
The Simon Teakettle Virtual Musical Society is now a reality, and we are close enough to capacity that auditions will close soon. We still need sopranos, and will continue to accept members of the Kitten Chorus, because we believe all kittens need training!
Do check the page, as new photos are being added regularly.
Our descriptive title is Plenty of Paws and a Flurry of Feathers, and The Top Brass include:
Yours Truly, Simon Teakettle III (Terzo) as the Big Boss, i.e. the Band Leader. In addition to running the Society, I play percussion in the band.
Jazz Hulley, as General Manager. A Maine Coon, Jazz lives with the Production Manager for Mewsings/Musings so she really knows how to Manage Things! Like me, she also has Giant Paws, which make her a superb piano player.
Featured drummer is Mrs. Doyle Pridgeon, a grey parrot who lives in Sooke, B.C. Check the link on the Society page for a video of his drumming talent.
Director of the Chorus is Shooter Stephenson, who has Abyssinian heritage, so she can deal with many different breeds and even other species.
Under Shooter's direction are two Chorus Leaders. Tango Katz Couvrette leads the Senior Purring Chorus from Yellowknife, NWT, and Big Bertha Reardon commands the Kitten Chorus from Ottawa.
Our Publicity Director is Aimee Arden, a Chartreux from Massachusettes. Chartreux are silent, but Aimee has a a Profile on Facebook and a group which numbers more than 500, so she is adept at Getting Attention.
Chorus members include baritones, Bailey & Cuddles Russo, who live in Big Canoe, Georgia, tenors Tyler Coxon and Charlie Heenan, both from Ottawa, and alto Tulip Adams, also from Ottawa. We have no sopranos, but Natasha Lennick (Nat the Brat) will be joining us shortly, to sing obbligato (I know, I had to look it up, too) from Pickering, Ontario. She's a bit of a diva, so it may take her a while to decide which photo is most flattering.
The Senior Purring Chorus has three members who claim not to be seniors at all, but Like to Purr. Stanley Haskins lives in New York City, and Tuftus and Pookie Hamilton in Montreal. Aimee Arden is also a member of the purring chorus, because she's a Chartreux, and they're a silent breed (can't imagine what that's like!).
Members of the Kitten Chorus come from all the way from Karpathos, Greece, where Jorgito and Yoda Jacobson live with many other cats on this island where their humans run an animal welfare organization. There are 32 cats and three dogs who actually live in the house. Karpathos (where animals outnumber people) is located in the sparkling Aegean, midpoint between Crete and Rhodes.
Others in the Kitten Chorus include Darwin and Joey Scott who are new arrivals in Ottawa.
February 6, 2009:
I didn't go with Bobbi to the Toastmasters' humor club last evening, although I was one of the stars of the event. Laughing Matters is the humor branch of the Ottawa Toastmasters, and one of its members had taken Bobbi's humor workshop last spring, and invited her to speak to the group. That workshop was called "Cat Got Your Tongue?" and was all about how Bobbi helped to make the original Simon Teakettle famous.
Last night she spoke to the Toastmasters about different types of humor writing, and the various techniques they could use to make their jokes and stories more effective.
But many of the questions after her presentation were about Yours Truly! So she promised to return to tell them all about The Incredible Celebrity of Simon Teakettle.
Which brings me to a topic I've been meaning to write about. I've been asked about my writing style, including why I like to Capitalize Important Words, and often refer to myself the same way Tiki did, as "Yours Truly.
You have to understand that I live with a former English teacher, who sat me down every day when I first arrived from the Ottawa Humane Society with a copy of her book, Five Fast Steps to Better Writing. This would not have been my choice of a book to read! She first taught me to recognize letters and their combinations just as you do with babies, by giving me alphabet books featuring my favorite things. So A was for Ant, B for Bobbi, C for Cat, E for Eat, and F for Fur.
But I soon graduated to reading whatever was on her lap or the computer screen, and she insisted that I had to digest Five Fast Steps to Better Writing before she would allow me to write any e-mails or letters of my own.
Do you know how complicated English grammar, spelling and punctuation are? And how boring for a kitten who would much rather spend his time watching birds at the feeders, seeing if my food dish is full, or napping in the sun?
But I dutifully digested its contents, although I decided I should take some liberties with the rules.
Especially when it comes to Capitalization. It's how I exercise my Creativity.
January 29, 2009:
I can't believe a whole month has passed since I last wrote. Blame it on another ice storm (just a few weeks after the 21st anniversary of the ice storm that hit this area in 1998), ongoing computer problems (which I don't pretend to understand), and my hard work forming a new musical group.
We'll be launching the Simon Teakettle Virtual MEWSical Society, informally known as Plenty of Paws and a Flurry of Feathers, in the next few weeks, recruiting participants not only from Canada and the U.S., but some other countries as well. It will be led by Yours Truly, of course, with Jazz Hulley as our General Manager and Mrs. Doyle Pridgeon as our featured drummer. Her position in our old band had to be changed because she doesn't sing very well but loves to drum on her cage and dishes. She sent a neat video, which we'll be posting soon. Note her red tail feathers, whose pigments are unique to parrots and are called psittacofulvins (more information that you probably needed to know).
The Musical Society will include a feline chorus, a Kitten Chorus, and a Senior Emeritus Purring Group, which will be led by Tango Katz, a grey tabby who lives in Fort Smith, the North West Territories.
Stay tuned; a full roster of members (with links to their photos) is coming soon.
Meanwhile, I don't want to ignore the fact that January is Cat Dental Care Month. I've come to accept having my teeth brushed, which is Very Important because indoor cats can't clean their teeth by chewing bones, as cats do in the wild. Tiki wrote an article on the subject of grooming (both cat and human habits) which is one of the most popular pieces in Mewsings/Musings. It's called Grow Your Own Fur Coat, and although I've read it several times, I still don't understand how humans behave when it comes to keeping themselves clean.
But I'm gradually catching up to Tiki in my trick repertoire. I have finally learned Leave it there, which is a Very Difficult command to master. It means I have to leave my paw on the palm of her hand, right beside the treat, and not touch the treat until she says, Good boy. I also respond to Sit up nicely, which means I have to sit back with both paws raised. I wonder what else she has planned?
But before I learn any more tricks, I have to get my new MEWSical Society up and running.
Watch This Space!
January 8, 2009:
We had another blizzard this week. I love to watch the snow fall, and noticed today that there were quite a few small birds braving the wet flakes and cold temperature to snitch sunflower seeds from the squirrel feeder on our maple tree, even picking up some of the fallen seeds underneath. I guess the squirrels don't mind, because I didn't see any out there objecting.
The sunflower house on the maple tree in the back yard is for the family of black squirrels who nest high in the branches. But every Tuesday morning, a pair of cardinals come to feed there. The male seems to know that the feeder is filled on Monday evenings, and he arrives, samples the fare, and then calls his Lady, who then joins him.
We have smaller birds at the front feeders, which are just outside the office window where I have wonderful carpeted shelf. In the winter black-capped chickadees arrive. I read that they're very friendly, and can be called by whispering Pish, pish, pish, pish.
I'm practising that, but I don't think cats can make a p sound. If there's a speech therapist reading this, please contact me, and tell me how.
Something else I'm practising is how to use my paws more efficiently. I like to play with plastic straws, and find it lots of fun to push them under a closed door and then try to fish them out again. Sometimes, if I'm unsuccessful, I run around to the other side to get it, but that's Cheating!
I'm also trying to figure out how to open sliding doors. I can easily get one of my Big Paws in the crack, but am not sure how to push it open enough to get my whiskers through. You do know, don't you, that a cat uses his whiskers to determine if a space is large enough for his head to pass through safely?
You don't read about cats who get their heads caught in the rungs of a chair, like little kids sometimes do!
January 1, 2009:
Happy New Year!
We spent some of the holidays watching TV. I usually nap on Bobbi's lap when she watches the programs she likes, as I have little interest in people talking. But I paid close attention for a couple of things we watched together.
One was the documentary, March of the Penguins. Those guys wear black and white tuxedos, just like I do, and I liked to see them flap their wings!
Then we watched the Animal Planet cat-sitter video that came from the Cat Writers Association in the goodie bag they sent Bobbi. This DVD started with chickens, which didn't interest me much, but I really likes the part with the squirrel and the long sement showing all kinds of birds. There were also sections showing a bunny (boring!), lizards, fish, and kittens playing with some of the same toys I have.
Here's a photo of me, watching the birds:
December 28, 2008:
What a Christmas we had! It actually started on December 23rd, when our friend, the Najaks, arrived to wish Bobbi Happy Birthday. They brought presents for her and Three Big Jingle Balls for me! I've had small jingle balls, but these three are Huge, and I started to play with them immediately.
Then, on Christmas Eve Bobbi let me open my present from her. One thing in the bag was a new container of cat grass, but much more interesting is a new toy I haven't fully investigated yet. It seems to have flying feathers on the ends of plastic arms that spin around and also wobble back and forth. Fascinating!
I must admit that last year I didn't understand about Christmas stockings. But I certainly figured that out this year! My stocking was full of wonderful surprises, and I couldn't believe that each time she helped me take something out, another would magically appear!
There were two sponge toys, one cat and one dog, both black and white so the cat really looks like Yours Truly! And a funny little guinea pig. But best of all, there were TWO new furry mice! One is on an orange plastic string, like the one I used to have which has been sadly reduced to a skeleton (okay, I admit that was My Doing).
Bobbi hung this one on a door knob, and when she woke up Christmas morning she found it on the bed, where I'd brought it during the night to play with.
In the very toe of my stocking was a can of Fancy Feast! So I had a delicious Christmas dinner, just like Everybody Else.
December 19, 2008:
Packages have been arriving, one delivered last Sunday by A Man in a Truck! It was a pretty big box, and before Bobbi even opened it, I could smell the catnip! It contained a black tote bag with the Cat Writers' Association logo on one side and the Cat Fancy log on the other, and I thought it had been sent to me because my photo was in the November issue of Cat Fancy (in the article about women and their cats). So I dove in, pulling out a cloth catnip toy which I immediately took into another room before Bobbi could retrieve it.
But Bobbi told me the bag was a gift from the CWA to volunteers who worked for the organization all year but weren't able to get to the conference. I think that's a great idea. I can get all the "goodies" given out by conference sponsors without having to spend a lonely weekend without her. I don't like it when she's out all day and evening, which she does occasionally, and last year when she went to Chicago for a Whole Week, I was terribly lonesome. I didn't have anyone to cuddle up with at night. Stuffed animals are no substitute!
I noticed Bobbi took other things out of the bag to put into my Christmas stocking, and some into hers as well. There were a few things that didn't fit, including a big wall calendar called Urban Tails, which features photos of homeless cats. The May cat looks a lot like me, and reminds me how lucky I was to be adopted.
There were also beautiful cat cards, postcards, and big stickers to put on your wall. I'll have to describe everything to you in greater detail next week.
But meanwhile, there are presents piled under our stockings! Bobbi won't let me touch them, but I've been rubbing my fact against them to leave my scent, so that nobody else can claim them. I hope there are new toys for me, because I'm getting bored with the old ones.
Bobbi's birthday is December 23rd, so we will have three solid days of celebration (and three days of birthday cake!). Tiki managed to persuade her to let him open some of his presents on her birthday, because he didn't understand why she got to open gifts then but he had to wait two more days. I have a little stocking as well as a big one, so Bobbi promised I can open the small one on her birthday.
I know Christmas is often a Big Feast for some cats, but I don't eat people food (I make an exception for ice cream!) so the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce won't tempt me. However, I did see a can of Fancy Feast on the counter, so expect that will be my special treat next week. I haven't had any since the Bad Vet put me on a diet.
December 7, 2008:
The snow has been falling all day, and I'm beginning to realize that Christmas is coming. I'm not sure I understand what all this is about, but when Bobbi brought out our Christmas stockings, I remembered that last year some neat toys and things came out of mine. I also understand that some choice additions will be arriving soon from the Cat Writers' Association.
They send members who have volunteered in key positions over the past year but are unable to attend the annual conference, a package of "goodies." Last year, we received a handsome tote bag with the CWA log on one side and Cat Fancy's logo on the other. Since Bobbi and I just appeared in the November issue of Cat Fancy, this is most appropriate.
In addition to my previous plea for a real mouse for Christmas, I've added another gift to my Letter to Santa. Evidently Hasbro makes a group of stuffed toys called Furreal Friends, and Biscuit, My Lovin' Pup, described in the ad as "a realistic, life-size golden retriever," sits up, lies down, and begs.
I used my claws to cut the ad out of the paper, and it now sits on the kitchen table, a reminder to Bobbi to take it to WalMart and add $179.93 to her MasterCard bill.
What am I giving her for Christmas? First I have to figure out what to do for her birthday, which is December 23rd. I'm sending a request into the CBC, as usual, and am trying to learn a new trick, although this isn't easy to do without her participation. Any suggestions?
November 29, 2008:
You may notice we haven't posted many photos on the blog lately. That's because we're having trouble inserting photos on this new computer. But Bobbi is still taking pictures, and expect some to appear here soon!
There are a couple of exciting things to report this week. On Thursday, Bobbi was at a local mall where the Ottawa Humane Society had a table of crafts for sale. She stopped to chat (bought a cute little purse made from a man's tie, with a cat button closing) and gave the women taking the money a Mewsings bookmark. One of the women gasped in delight. She remembered hearing Simon Teakettle on the CBC many years ago. Bobbi assured her that Simon Teakettle is still very much alive, although in his third incarnation (as Yours Truly), and was adopted from the Ottawa Humane Society!
Another thing that harkens back many years is Bobbi's association with the singer/actress Holly Larocque. Bobbi directed Holly's one-woman show at the National Arts Centre in 1981, and kept in touch with Holly over the years as she appeared on the CBC's Under the Umbrella Tree (later syndicated on Nickelodeon), and then Homes by Design.
For the past few years, she's developed a wonderful stage show called The Big Band Broadcast. This was presented in Ottawa, filmed for the CBC, and has been touring for several months each year. Holly and her husband Paul, who acts as The Announcer on the simulated broadcast of a World War II-era show, have been in California, Washington and Oregon with the Mark Ferguson Big Band.
We just received our copy of Holly's first CD (it's about time she produced one!), and Bobbi will be seeing her at a special ACTRA 50th celebration next week, where Holly will be awarded a Lifetime Membership.
November 21, 2008:
Bobbi suggests it's time for me to talk about VOCABULARY. Now that I'm fully-grown (the equivalent of 21 human years), one would assume that I've reached the limit of words I can understand. But that's not true. Cats, dogs, and other animals can keep learning new commands and tricks all the time. Tiki (the Magnificent) learned a new trick every year, so that when he died, at age 19, he had a huge repertoire of behaviors he performed on command.
Don't expect me to match that! Frankly, I don't know how he did it. Evidently, he was hyper-active and slept very little. Not me! I sleep most of the night on the bed with Bobbi (getting up occasionally to play with one of my favorite mice, which I sometimes bring onto the bed for her to discover in the morning) but I take a morning nap, an afternoon one, and stretch out on her lap in the evening if she's home.
But that doesn't mean I'm lazy. Bobbi made a list
of all the words and phrases I understand. They range from single words:
food treats drink brush paw sit toy television mouse
to combinations: nice birdie squirrel friend scratchy board Bobbi's kitty
to phrases that require some action on my part:
give me your paw the other paw good boy get it
Excuse me means I have to get off her lap so she can get up,
leave it there is what she says means when she puts a treat in her palm and I have to put my paw there and leave it
sit up nicely doesn't count unless I refrain from grabbing for the treat
I respond to several different come commands: come here, come to bed, and come on my shoulder (her favorite spot for me to curl up at night).
There are words Tiki knew that I don't understand yet. He knew the difference between ball, snake (his favorite toy), and straw, but these aren't important to me, because I'm not very interested in balls (too much energy to chase them!). They're all just toys to me.
He also responded to a few words Bobbi uses a lot, which I pretend not to understand, such as No! and Get Down! I do know what naughty means. That elicits a particular look from me (a bit puzzled, only slightly chastised), and I always respond to good boy or good kitty.
I know what stay means, but haven't figured out why just a few seconds doesn't count as compliance!
I learned my name very quickly, within a few hours of arriving in this household. I recognized immediately that Terzo meant something special, and I just love when she uses my full name: Simon Teakettle Terzo.
One of the key differences between cats and dogs is that dogs obey blindly. I think they actually feel guilt. Cats, on the other hand, don't follow a direction unless it makes sense to them, and they feel like doing that particular thing at that time. Every cat has the ability to ignore anything they don't want to pay attention to. Just watch a cat turn away from a child trying to tease him, or walk away in disdain from something unsuitable (like those cardboard pellets that pass for diet food!) in the bowl.
I also communicate with her, of course, not just by meows when I want my food dish filled and purrs when I'm happy, but also scoldings when I need to draw her attention to something wrong. When she prepared for the piano tuner to come, she moved all the books off the top of the piano to one of the couches in the living room. I objected loudly, even though I don't usually nap on that couch. I just didn't like the idea that *my* couch was not available! Tiki used to remind Bobbi to turn on the Christmas lights when he saw the other homes lit up, but we now have those on timers, so that's something else I don't need to learn.
I've been experimenting with a new ploy. If she gives me treats early enough in the evening, I sometimes return later and pretend I don't remember. This hasn't worked so far, but I intend to keep trying!
Meanwhile, I continue to ignore No! when I want to investigate what's behind the computer, and Get Down! when I jump on the coffee table. I hear you, Bobbi dear, but those words just aren't in my vocabulary!
November 17, 2008:
Fame, the Musical, opened this week at Centrepointe Theatre in Ottawa. A delightful production of the 102-year-old Orpheus Musical Theatre Society, it features an energetic cast of talented youngsters, many of which will likely go on to stellar professional careers.
Although my company, Simon Teakettle Ink, has been a patron of Orpheus for more than 30 years, none of the Simons has ever been allowed into the theatre.
That may be changing.
Yesterday, before the show, Bobbi chatted with Orpheus President, Marlene Hudson. She plays trombone in the pit orchestra, with her husband, Drum, conducting (they often switch roles, with Marlene conducting and Drum playing trombone). You should know that Drum is unflappable. This is the 20th Orpheus show where's he's served as Musical Director, and nothing rattles him, not even an ice storm which once had several of his musicians arriving just minutes before the show started.
But opening night of Fame presented a special challenge. Evidently there was a MOUSE in the house! As Marlene described it to me, the little grey mouse ran along the orchestra railing, stopped directly in front of Drum, and stood still for a moment, watching him wave his baton (everybody's a critic!). Then the mouse continued to the end of the railing, and disappeared.
They came very close to calling on my services.
I wonder if that's why MY Stuart Little hasn't shown up here since I saw him last? Maybe he's become an Orpheus fan...
November 7, 2008:
The past couple of weeks have been very busy in this household! Bobbi kept fiddling with the new computer, and said I couldn't write anything until she fixed whatever was wrong. I have no idea how these things work, so was unable to help. I did, however, provide moral support by coming into the office every few hours to remind her that there are some things that are more important than computers. Food, for example. Not only does she give me a very small amount every time I beg her to fill my bowl, but she insists on including those tiny, tasteless pellets from the bag that says "weight management" on the label.
We've also been preoccupied with the U.S. election, as we watched all the debates and comments over the past month. Bobbi sometimes makes popcorn to eat while she watches television, and it's the only "people food" that interests me at all. She lets me have a few pieces, which I play with first, and then finally nibble.
Speaking of TV, we watched a fascinating program on PBS about Australian parrots. That gave me a new appreciation of my pal, Mrs. Doyle.
And we had our first snowfall of the season, unusually early, which kept me watching closely from the bay window that overlooks the front yard and the driveway. I'd forgotten about snow! It didn't last long, however, and we've just had a lovely week of Indian summer. I don't go outside, but enjoy having the front door open, so I can sit in the full storm panel and look out on the porch.
I promise to be more faithful about adding to this blog. I'm assembling a list of my complete vocabulary, which is pretty extensive for a two-year-old cat. Stay tuned!
October 15, 2008:
Somebody wrote to me about my Oct. 7 message, to ask how I plan to dispose of the mouse poop if I'm allowed to adopt my new friend. Excuse me! Of course I'll teach him to use the litter box!
I also mentioned this is the second anniversary of my adoption, and want to tell you more about that. I had been wrenched from my mom and siblings, brought to the Ottawa Humane Society (leading to a continuing fear of traveling in a car), and put into a cage alone.
I spent ten frightening days with noise, confusion, nothing to play with and nobody to cuddle me. At one point, they gave me shots and an operation, then returned me to that lonely wire cage.
Fortunately, somebody decided my cage should be in the lobby instead of in "the cat room." I watched everyone who came into the lobby very carefully, but it took several days before I saw anyone I liked.
One afternoon, Bobbi arrived, and the minute I saw her, I decided she was The One.
I went into my Adorable Act, meowing very softly, reaching through the bars of my cage with my clean white six-toed paws, and tilting my head to one side.
She thinks she chose me, but she was actually looking for an all black cat, like Simon I and II, to fit the company logo. So I had to turn on the charm to convince her that a black fur tuxedo could be adorned with white vest, gloves, spats, and even a white scarf draped carelessly at an angle across my back.
I made sure she never had any reason to doubt her decision. From the very first day, I was very careful about using the litter box, didn't meow too much, and bathed very carefully, several times a day, to keep my fur coat spotless.
If you've read the Cat Facts page, you know that we have much keener senses than humans. I used all of mine (as well as some intuition) to determine that Bobbi has a chronically sore right shoulder, so the very first night, when she went to bed, I took up my position with my head resting on that shoulder. It's still my favorite spot to curl up, and she continues to be impressed with my devoted attention.
October 7, 2008:
I need to enlist your help to persuade Bobbi to allow me to adopt a pet. This month marks the 2nd anniversary of my adoption from the Ottawa Humane Society, but the truth is that she didn't choose ME, I chose HER. And in a similar situation, the pet I want to adopt has selected me to be his protector and friend.
Let me explain. Last year we discovered that a family of mice had taken up residence in the space between the main floor and the ceiling of the basement below it. I never saw the mice, as they were swiftly exterminated.
When Bobbi discovered another family had taken up residence, our handyman put more poison into the space and announced that the problem was solved.
But just last week, one Brave Little Mouse came up the stairs, clearly deciding that he wanted to share his life with us. Of course I was the one who discovered him. I raced around the living room, poked my paws under the couches, peered under the piano, and monitored baseboards in every other room.
Bobbi was amused (she isn't afraid of mice) but refused to listen to my suggestion that I adopt him.
So I am presenting half a dozen reasons, which I hope you'll agree to support:
1. I'll name the mouse Stuart, hoping that Bobbi will feel guilty because Tiki had asked, TWICE, for Stuart Little for Christmas, and one year he received the video of the movie, and the second year a stuffed mouse toy. It's time I fulfilled Tiki's original request, for a REAL Stuart Little.
2. I would be happy to share my dry food with him, especially the smallest ones (ideal for his tiny mouth) which come from the bag marked "weight-reduction formula." She mixes this with Whiskas and Meow Mix, thinking I don't notice. I DO! The more I share these with Stuart, the better the ratio of Whiskas and Meow Mix for me.
3. He can use my water fountain not only to drink from, but also as a swimming pool. The chute where the filtered water comes into the bowl would make a dandy mouse slide.
4. If he needs additional cleaning, I can certainly provide that. I'm very gentle, as anyone can verify if you take a close look at some of my toys. I have several with large feathers at the end (are they supposed to be birds?) which I wash faithfully, and very carefully. Mrs. Doyle doesn't believe me when I tell her this, but I swear it's TRUE!
5. He could join my BAND! I'm not sure what instrument a tiny mouse could play, but I'm sure I could find something with tiny strings he could run across. Stuart the Strumming Mouse?
6. I turned two last summer. Two in cat years is equivalent to 21 in human years, which means I'm old enough to own a pet. The papers the Ottawa Humane Society asked Bobbi to fill out asked her age, gender, address, etc. but there was no place an adoptive parent had to list SPECIES.
If you think I've made a sound case, please e-mail your support. Send messages to Yours Truly at: Terzo at SimonTeakettle.com.
September 18, 2008:
You've read about my pal, Mrs. Doyle, the grey parrot who was born the same week I was, and lives in Vancouver. She and I communicate regularly via e-mail, but her Man (Steve) and my Lady (Bobbi) also chat online. Actually, Steve is the Wonderful Person who helped us get the new computer networked with the old one, along with some hands-on help from our neighbor, Paul, whose youngest son, James, was pictured with me in a previous blog post.
Steve now reports that Mrs. Doyle has a new phrase she repeats whenever the family returns home. If anyone comments on bird seed having been flung from the cage onto the floor, or anything else amiss, Mrs. Doyle says, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry! I'm just a parrot."
I immediately reminded her that being a cat means never having to say you're sorry!
September 6, 2008:
The vet has put me on a DIET! I wasn't sure what that meant until Bobbi changed my food, cut me off my favorite Fancy Feast canned food completely (yikes!) and let my bowl get almost empty before pouring a very small amount from a measuring cup to replenish it.
I don't think I'm fat at all, and present this current photo as proof:
As you can see, I'm willing to sit on the scale, but I'm certainly not happy about it!
Bobbi keeps trying to get me to play with more of my toys, in an effort to get me to exercise more. I really like the feather toys, which I don't bite, but carefully wash instead (no Simon Teakettle has ever harmed a bird!), but I do think it would be much better if Mrs. Doyle flew here from Vancouver to play with me.
By the way, did you know that grey parrots are as smart as a five-year-old child? If you missed the photo of Mrs. Doyle taking a shower, go to last year's blog (see link above) and scroll down to Feb. 25, 2008. Or just click here.
I still think I get plenty of exercise chasing my collection of mice around the house. I make sure my favorite, which has been reduced to a hollow shell of its former self (literally!) is never out of my reach. I often carry it into the bedroom to play with during the night, and Bobbi finds tiny bits I've chewed off in various other parts of the house. I'll soon have to "dismantle" one of the others. If you aren't disgusted by my technique, check out How to Kill a (Toy) Mouse.
We're having to make a huge adjustment this month, both to the new computer (which has finally been networked, but isn't always behaving the way it should!) and to the loss of our favorite CBC program, Disc Drive. Host Jurgen Gothe has promised to send a mug for our collection (the first one given specifically to me), but that doesn't compensate for the wonderful selection of music and clever commentary by Jurgen's soothing voice. That's been the background for my afternoon nap since I first arrived, almost two years ago, and Bobbi always left it on for me when she went out and even when she went away for a week.
Don't you think it's too much to ask of a kitty to have to adjust to a diet, a new computer, and different music all afternoon - all at the same time?
August 4, 2008:
NEWS FLASH: I'm the August cat at FelineCATCHall again! I think this is "a closed Yahoo group" (whatever that means!) but you can try going to: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/FelineCATchALL/ to see if you can catch me napping on the special pillow a neighbor of Arthur Black embroidered for us after she heard Simon Teakettle on Basic Black, which used to air Saturday mornings on the CBC network.
The past few weeks have been very busy. First of all I have New Job. I am babysitting a goldfish belonging to James, the four-year-old who lives across the street from us. Here's a photo of James when he came to visit me. He needed to check out the premises where his precious Orange would live for three weeks.
When the James came over to deliver the fish tank, he brought his older brother and sister and his mom. That's quite an escort for a Very Tiny Fish. Orange (James is really into food) is no bigger than a bug, and I must admit I was a bit disappointed because he's not that much fun to watch. I was also surprised that he only gets a pinch fish flakes every three days. How will he ever grow bigger on that diet? I wanted to share a few of my munchie-crunchies with him, but Bobbi said that wasn't allowed. Sigh...
Before the children left on vacation, we gave them three little tigers that used to sit on the guest room windowsill. I kept knocking them down in my effort to interact with the squirrels, so Bobbi decided they needed a new home. We gave one each to Simon (evidently he was NOT named after my predecessor), Laura, and James, and asked them to take them to the ocean because they wanted to put their paws in salt water. In return, they will bring us back some seashells for our collection.
I also had a sad task to accomplish this summer. Our favorite CBC radio program, Disc Drive, is going off the air in a few weeks, and they're giving away mugs in return for requests. We've kept in touch with the host, Jurgen Gothe, for many years, and we're really going to miss his show, which plays terrific music of all genres, interspersed with witty comments. Bobbi sent a request, of course, but so did I. Here's my letter to Jurgen:
July 11, 2008:
I was so busy celebrating both July 1st and the Fourth of July, I'm just getting around to adding to this blog. I'm still finding it weird to add to the top instead of the bottom, but I've given into Conventional Wisdom (whatever that is!). Here's my photo showing my dual nationality:
This is the photo we used on our summer MEWSletter, which is sent to clients, book suppliers, and other business contacts. If you'd like a copy, just e-mail me (Terzo at SimonTeakettle.com) and we'll send it to you.
I had an exciting afternoon last week. One of the little children who live across the street came over to visit. These three come to our back door frequently, receiving lollypops for bringing in our recycle bin or picking up pine cones from the front lawn, or sometimes just to say Hi. But they usually don't come beyond the back hall.
But last December, when Laura turned five, Bobbi invited her for a "girls only" tea party. I was fascinated, and sat and watched them as they changed the clothes on the teddy bears, drank "tea" out of tiny cups, and ate little cookies and home-made chocolates (the mom who lives across the street often shares the treats she makes).
When James turned four in May, he was ready for his Special Visit. He's such an animal lover that he was content to spend the entire time with me. He petted me, brushed me, gave me treats, and I even sat on his lap.
You can see that we got along wonderfully.
Next it's Simon's turn. I love that he and I have the same name, except that they pronounce his the French way. He was 7 this weekend, and has had not one, but two birthday parties. (That's a hint, Bobbi!) He'll come over for his visit some afternoon next week.
Meanwhile, I've been writing some new pieces. Here's my latest: How to Play with a Straw. There are only six ideas, as I didn't have time to write more before I had to take another naps. You can't hold me to the same standards as the Professional Journalist in the household!
Oops! I forgot to date my first message on this new blog. So we're calling it:
One day in June, 2008:
Okay, I give in. After writing this blog (with
a tiny bit of human help) for the past two years, I'm finally going
to accept what all the website designers have told me, and add my
latest comments at the top, instead of the bottom. So you don't have
to scroll through all the previous postings any more!
There, are you happy now? (You know Who You Are!)
I've been asked how I learned to read and write. Good grief (as Charlie Brown might say), how can you spend 24 hours a day with a compulsive person who is either reading or writing much of the time and not figure out how to do it yourself?
The story of how the Very First Simon learned to write is told in Catastrophe!, the multi-award-winning piece that Bobbi included in the Appendix of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing and again in her side of MEWSINGS/MUSINGS.
My other job is Product Testing. Right now, I'm in the process of determining The Best Spots to Take a Nap. You would have thought I'd have tried all these possibilities in the 15 months I've lived in this household, but when I first arrived, I settled on just a few choice places, and have just begun to explore others.
I used to take my morning nap either on the back of the couch nearest the living room entrance, or the guest room bed, both of which let me keep an eye on Bobbi's activities. In the afternoon, I would either return to the guest room bed or to "our" big bed. My preferred spot for an evening nap, of course, is on Bobbi's lap. If she goes out, I curl up on her chair in the den.
One day last winter, I was looking for a mouse I had lost, and discovered a neat spot behind the extra chair in the den. There's a corner of the room that's ideal for hiding (the mice discovered this before I did!) and then I thought I ought to venture into some other places.
I drove Bobbi crazy with my meowing for more than a week until she realized that the reason why I was on the back of the other couch in the living room was because I was "asking permission" to nap there. She thought I was trying to play with things on the shelf behind the couch. Why didn't she realize that I know better than to do that? There are lots of tiny things on shelves all over this house, some of them fragile and others quite tempting, but I would never touch any of them. I have my own toys to play with!
It also took me a while to realize that the other chair in the den has a comfortable seat I could curl up on, which gives me an alternative if she's not-quite-sitting-down. That's what I call it when she's in the chair, out of the chair to do "just one more thing," then back in the chair again, until it drives me crazy.
Tiki used to go downstairs when he wanted to nap where he wouldn't be disturbed, but I don't like it down there. I go down to use my litter boxes, and will stay and play with the toys down there if Bobbi is doing laundry, or ironing, or working in the sewing room. But I prefer to be where I can hear her and see her. She thought, at first, that I might be afraid of the dark, because I insisted on having a third litter box upstairs. I'm not willing to admit to that!
What do I do Between Naps? I write this blog, of course!
Now I'm finished with this segment, I don't know what to do. I can't use my previous sign-off, "Till the next time I feel like writing," because it will be at the very bottom of the page!
This blog business is Very Odd.
Love & purrs, Terzo