This blog began in 2006, after the adoption of
The Fan Club
Copyright 2019, Simon Teakettle Ink
August 24, 2019:
It's hard to believe summer is almost over, as we've had such terrible weather. We had the hottest July on record, which is hard for anyone who has to work outdoors or doesn't have air-conditioning. We also had a lot of rain and many thunderstorms.
And now the kids are heading back to school. Bobbi
just received her invitation to attend annual reunion at The
Latin School of Chicago
All the TV ads about going back to school remind me of our popular Facts pages. If you go to the main Facts page, you'll see not just many fascinating pieces of general information, but links to a bunch of other pages about film & theatre, music & art, history, food, inventions, animals, and, of course, cats!
We just added a bunch of new things today, about the invention of Kevlar, a female film pioneer, the largest denomination of U.S. currency, and how caviar was once served free to bar patrons because its saltiness caused them to drink more!
Cats are creatures of habit. I'm used to our regular routine, so this past week has been a bit strange. First of all, Don has gone fishing (I'm eager to hear all about that when he returns, and hope he brings me some samples!) so he didn't come yesterday as usual. Instead, our dear friend Juliana (who sent us animals for the Fan Club from her trip to India last year) came over to help Bobbi. I don't see her very oftne, so that was a bit strange.
She also took Bobbi out for a long lunch. That means Bobbi was out three times this week, to dinner on Tuesday with Theresa, and then again for dinner with Deb.
I always know when she's going out because she does that "stuff" in the bathroom, which involves sitting in front ot the magnifying mirror (I tried using it to inspect my whiskers once!). She puts things on her face and sprays smelly stuff on her body. It reminds me of the most popular story in Mewsings, called "Grow Your Own Fur Coat." That was the first of several pieces Simon Teakettle wrote for CATS Magazine, and in it he described being puzzled by how humans wash themselves, put on and take of clothing, and spend so much time that cats don't have to waste because we're able to wash with our tongues!
August 10, 2019:
The month of August is full of special days devoted to cats. As we mentioned last week, August 8 was World Cat Day. Next Saturday is National Black Cat Appreciation Day, which we'll be celebrating because the first Simon Teakettle was completely black, without even a tiny white spot, and inspired the logo for the company and the cover of Mewsings/Musings. More about that holiday next week.
Later in the month we have International Homeless Animal Day on August 20. I used to be homeless, so that day is special for me! Bobbi told someone just this week that the reason why I'm so well-behaved is that I appreciate having a home!
August 22 is Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, and August 28 reminds us of all those who have gone over the Rainbow Bridge.
August 3, 2019:
August 8 is World Cat Day.
As many anticipate the long-awaited movie based on the musical, CATS, others are enjoying the new version of The Lion King. Although both are delightful to watch, it's interesting to note that the musical based on T.S. Eliot's poems actually captures the actions of real cats better than the movie remake of the Disney classic.
Bobbi has seen CATS three times. The first time, she was invited by a friend who worked for Playbill Magazine to join him in the couple of dozen seats on the stage of the theatre, as the musical was performed "in the round." That meant Bobbi was not only very close to the performers, but could also glimpse backstage as some of the felines were preparing to enter.
She also saw productions in Ottawa and in London. So we're clearly fans, eager to see the movie!
She saw The Lion King when a touring production played Ottawa, and enjoyed it throughly, especially the clever fantasy jungle animals. Julie Taymor won Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Musical and for Best Costumes.
But Craig Saffoe, curator of great cats at Smithsonians National Zoo in Washington, says this depiction of a lion family is inaccurate. Read more about this on our Cat Facts page.
July 27, 2019:
According to alleycat.org/ there are roughly 82 million pet cats living in peoples homes just in the U.S., which doesn't count those in Canada. There aren't clear statistics about how many of these cats have been de-clawed by their owners. But after it was revealed how cruel this operation is, many provinces have banned the procedure, and New York State just passed a law making de-clawing illegal.
Rescue groups are alarmed. They feel the more people will abandon cats or fail to adopt from shelters because they don't want cats to scratch them or their furniture.
This reinforces the assumption that cats can't be trained.
I'm living proof that this isn't true. Bobbi wrote her award-winning article, How to Train Your Cat Like a Dog, based on her experience training Tiki, whom she adopted as a kitten. But I didn't come to live here until I was a year old, having been an outdoor stray for most of my early life.
So the fact that she has successfully taught me to come, sit, sit up, give one paw and then the other, roll over, give head butt "kisses" and understand many other words is proof that training works, not just intensive sessions with kittens who learn to perform elaborate tricks (like the AcroCats) but also with an older cat.
One of the first things I learned when I arrived in this household is the word "No!" It didn't take long for me to realize that I would be scolded if I attempted to scratch anything, to jump on tables or counters, or to touch certain things (like houseplants in windows where I like to sit).
From the beginning, Bobbi started to clip the sharp edges of my claws. At first, I only allowed her to do one claw at a time, but eventually I discovered that this procedure involved a lot of petting and was always followed by a treat. Now I "ask" her to do this, because sharp claws can be a nuisance, catching on the fabric of my scratching tunnel or the rope of scratching boards that hang on various doors.
Here I am, with my scratching tunnel, and giving my paw.
July 20, 2019:
This week Bobbi has been remembering Apollo 11 landing on the moon. She'll be writing about that on Facebook tomorrow, as that was the summer Violet Meekis came from Sandy Lake to spend several weeks here, celebrating her 16th birthday on August 3rd.
That started Bobbi's connection to Sandy Lake, where she visited in 1975. She's kept in touch with the extended Meekis family for 50 years, and we have many lovely beaded decorations and several stunning paintings that remind her of their talents.
I sometimes see the moon when I look out the
window. But most of my window time is spent looking at birds and
squirrels. I have a canine pal who shares my name and does the same
from her apartment in Ottawa. Her name is Miss Penny Jennings, and
she lives with the writer, Susan Jennings.
Here she is, looking out her window, and a photo of her when she was
first adopted last year.
July 13, 2019:
We continue to have a lot of rain, with many
thunderstorms. I'm not afraid of many things, but thunder and
July 6, 2019:
Bobbi's friend, Sandy Murphy, sent us an adorable
photo of her dog, Ozzie, in cat ears. Sandy edits one of the
newsletters Bobbi contributes to, from SPAWN
(the Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network). Although
Bobbi now writes just about everything
June 28, 2019:
I was a bit confused this week, as we had two fierce thunderstorms, with thunder and lightning, and at first I thought someone was celebrating Canada Day early! I actually enjoy fireworks, but only on TV. We'll be watching the show on Parliament Hill Monday evening, as well as two celebrations on the Fourth of July. One comes from New York and is sponsored by Macy's. Those fireworks are set off on the Hudson River and are spectacular. At the same time Bobbi will record A Capital Fourth on PBS, and we'll watch that after the NBC program.
All the rain that keeps drenching us has helped the
flowers flourish. Here's a photo of the petunias along our driveway.
You can see what's left of the Siberian Iris, but they didn't last
long in the heat and rain!
June 22, 2019:
Bobbi continues to take pictures of interesting things that belong to me. Here are the coasters that sit on the coffee table in the living room, which were created from photos of the first Simon, Tiki (Simon Teakettle II), Terzo (Simon III), and me. These were a gift from Sylvia Adams, a prize-winning poet Bobbi met for dinner just last week.
June 15, 2019:
After Canada phased out the penny, Bobbi kept a
bunch of shiny new ones in honor of my
June 8, 2019:
I spend a lot of time watching birds at the front feeder, which is right outside the office window where I have a comfortable carpeted shelf. But most of the birds who visit us are common species, such as the tiny sparrow there right now.
We do get a few cardinal pairs in the back yard, and every so often blackbirds or blue jays.
But Steve Pitt buys specialized seed for his feeders, and since he's on the shore of Lake Talon, close to dense woods, he gets a wider variety of birds than we do.
He recently had a new visitor to his hummingbird feeder, a Baltimore Oriole. We've added her to the Fan Club this week, as well as an Indigo Bunting.
Meanwhile, since it's still cooler than normal for
June, I'm spending more time curled up in my fur bed. Note the
special pillows behind me, that fans sent to Simon Teakettle when he
was on CBC radio quite often. And you'll see that I have one eye
open, just to watch Bobbi as she approaches.
June 1, 2019:
I mentioned adding to the Fan Club last week, and now can share some wonderful photos our pal, Steve Pitt, took on a recent trip to the Azores. He photographed Old World Sparrows, who were brought to North America where they became one of the most widespread and abundant songbirds in the world today. The most common is the House Sparrow.
One of the things we learn whenever Steve sends us photos is how varied wildlife is. There are 17 species of penguins (we have three in the Fan Club), and 18 species of seals (again, we have three). But there are 70 species of toothed whales (which include the dolphin, killer whales, the porpoise, beluga whale, narwhal, sperm whale, and beaked whale). Then there are 15 species of baleen whales, including the Sei whale Steve captured in the Azores. Other in this species include right whale, bowhead whale, rorqual, pygmy right whale, and gray whale.
On the Fan Club page you'll see the whale, a sparrow, and three photos of playful dolphins.
May 25, 2019:
In addition to adding to this blog every week, I also help Bobbi keep all the other pages on this website up to date. That means adding animals to the Fan Club, new photos to my page, and new information to the various cat resources.
This week we found out that Sting (one of Bobbi's favorite musicians) has a home near Florence, Italy. In the segment on CBS This Morning, a black and white cat was sitting in the driveway. So we were able to add Sting to the long list of Celebrities Who Live With Cats.
May 18, 2019:
It's still really cold here, but I decided I need to start exercising to prepare for the warm weather which is certainly coming. I don't go outside - ever - at all - but it takes energy to jump on my window perches, and run back and forth between front and back windows to see if the same squirrel is moving from the front to the back yard.
May 11, 2019:
There are so many Special Days in May, we can't possibly name them all. For example, May 8 was No Socks Day. That seems to me to be a direct insult to tuxedo cats!
Having socks is one of our defining
characteristics, as you can see in the photos of Terzo, below, and
also of me, as I'm a Blue Smoke Tuxedo.
May 4, 2019:
May is Better Sleep Month. I don't understand that, because cats sleep all the time. Some cats, however, do sleep more than I do. I spend a lot of my time eating, washing, playing, looking out the window, or cuddling with Bobbi.
April 29, 2019:
Sorry to be late posting this week. Bobbi had dental surgery last week, and I was busy taking care of her. We've also been watching rising flood waters in Gatineau. Our home is not in danger, but we're expecting more rain this week!
I do have some exciting news to share. Bobbi won First Prize in the Ottawa Independent Writers' short story contest. I want everyone to know I helped her write this story. You'll see her certificate, congratulations card and cheque below, along with a photo of me supervising the writing of the story she's submitted for the 2019 anthology.
April 19, 2019
Here's my Easter basket, filled with balls, a few springs, and a couple of "crinklies," carefully watched over by two of my teddies. In the other photo, you'll see me with my old collar. You can see how worn out it is, probably from my vigorous washing!
April 13, 2019
In honor of National Wildlife Week, Steve
Pitt sent us some fabulous photos of a fox on his property on
Lake Talon in Rutherglen, Ontario. Steve wrote: "Foxes are
usually attracted to bird feeders to catch mice, voles and other
small rodents that are attracted to bird seed. This fox just decided
to skip the middle beast and go straight for the seed." Note the
second photo, where the fox seems to be staring down the camera.
April 6, 2019
Lots of special days to celebrate this month. April 3rd was Find a Rainbow Day. That wasn't easy here, because we had more snow! Not much, but a bit discouraging because we're hoping this month will melt the huge piles of snow left by plows and snowblowers at the end of all of our driveways.
April 4th was National Pillow Fight Day. Bobbi and I celebrated by her hiding one of my favorite toys, small plastic springs, under my favorite small pillows. I love that game!
National Wildlife Week starts April 10th, National Pet Day is April 11th, and Pet Owners' Day is April 19.
March 30, 2019
March came in "like a lamb" and it seems it will also go out that way. Thank goodness! I'm tired of looking out every window and seeing nothing but snow. I'm eager for Don to be able to get to the bird feeders in order to fill them, as I miss seeing my little friends fluttering their feathers as they vie for the best position to gobble seeds.
March 23, 2019:
I think I need to talk about Important Words. Bobbi gets a lot of questions from friends who have cats, and it seems to us that these cats don't understand the Important Words they should learn at an early age. But it's not too late, so let me share the ones I've learned in my four years in this household.
The first Important Words Bobbi taught me were "Come here," "Sit," "No!" (said VERY LOUD with much clapping of hands so I immediately understood I'd done something really wrong), "Get Down!" (same tone of voice and often accompanied by a shove), and "Good Girl." I was a year old when she adopted me, so cats can learn at any age.
She soon added "Sit by your tray," which I have to do before she puts my food down, and "Stay," which she used whenever I tried to go near the door that leads from the kitchen to Somewhere Mysterious. I soon learned that beyond this door was the back hall and the door into the carport, as visitors often came in that way, and that's where Bobbi went when she left me alone, sometimes for hours at a time.
But there's also another mysterious place beyond that door. I leads to something underneath us, and I always worry when Bobbi goes there and doesn't come back for an hour or so.
There are also a bunch of other Important Words I've learned. They include "Give me a kiss," which means I have to put my face near hers, which is always followed by "Give me your paw," and then "The other one," which means to get a treat I have to do all three of these things! We usual do this routine while I'm on her lap.
I soon learned that lifting one paw almost always produces a positive response, so I do that a lot when I want something.
Another thing I do for a treat or a toy is "Touch it with your paw." And since I love to play with balls, I've learned how to "Catch the ball." I even catch other toys in my paws if she says, "Catch it!" Another command I understand is "Jump" which she uses when she throws a toy above my head. We do that a lot with soft mice and crinkly balls.
Bobbi always says, "Excuse me," when she wants me to move out of her way. That's keeps her from accidentally stepping on my tail!
Don, our handyman who comes three days a week, has taught me to "Roll Over," so he can pet my tummy and brush both sides of my back. I love to be brushed, so I learned that command very quickly!
March 15, 2019:
Today is the Ides of March, marking the assassination of Julius Caesar and a turning point in Roman history. When Bobbi taught Shakespeare's play to her students at The Latin School of Chicago, one student dubbed March 15 Ubble Day. The name stuck, and every year Bobbi celebrates the day with Susan Haskins, creator and host of the Emmy-Award-Winning PBS NY TV show, Theatre Talk.
This is also National Wildlife Week. I wonder if the snowshoe hares living on our property, along with the squirrels and birds who visit daily, are having a party. The weather has warmed up, snow and ice are melting, and I expect we'll see a pair of cardinals in the back yard very soon.
Meanwhile I want to share these two pictures Bobbi took when I was on the desk (where I'm usually not allowed). They'll move to the sidebar on the right in a few weeks.
March 9, 2019:
I don't know if I've written about this before, but it bears repeating in any case. I HATE the spring and fall time change! No one seems to be able to explain why it makes sense to change our clocks twice a year, and it's been proven that accidents increase when the time changes.
As a sensitive animal who spent the first eight or so months of my life outdoors, I'm very tuned into the seasons, the weather, when birds migrate and return, how squirrels bury food for the winter, and everything else having to do with nature in a semi-rural area.
I thrive on sunshine, which automatically increases as the days get longer, so we dont' need to change the clocks to make that happen. In fact, just today I took my morning bath in the puddle of sunshine at the foot of the bed.
Changing the clocks disrupts our routine. Bobbi has to adjust the timing of her medications, I get fed later (much to my annoyance), and everything is out of sorts.
As I monitor Bobbi's activities this weekend, following her around as she changes all the clocks and timers, the coffee-maker and the microwave, I'll be trying to figure out how to STOP THIS NONSENSE!
March 2, 2019:
As we wait for spring to arrive, I thought I'd share more about the Fan Club. There are now more than 150 species from 56 countries, including two kinds of woodpeckers, three kinds of seals, three kinds of penguins, several kinds of monkeys, different kind of iguanas, three types of hares, several kinds of geese, three kinds of frogs, several species of foxes, several species of fish, five kinds of ducks, and many species of deer.
Collecting these over the years has allowed Bobbi to learn a lot about different species (who knew there were 17 species of penguins?) and also helped me learn a lot about the animals I sometimes see on TV.
We often have help from Steve Pitt, who is great at identifying all kinds of birds, and who sends us lots of wonderful photos from his property on Lake Talon in Rutherglen, Ontario. When I see birds eating peanuts out of Steve's hand, I wonder what the birds at our feeder think when they see me sitting on the other side of the office window. I know the squirrels consider me a playmate, as we often play staring games when they sit on the windowsill.
February 23, 2019:
Exciting additions to the Fan Club this week. Our friend, Fran Shaw, sent us a giant tortoise, iguanas from Ecuador, a capuchin monkey from Costa Rico, and several fur seals which prefer land to water, and share space with the tourists in the Galapagos Islands!
Meanwhile, Steve Pitt continues to document the clever ways the squirrels on his property raid the bird feeders. Here's a squirrel flying through the air from one feeder to another, and an outraged woodpecker objecting to a squirrel stealing his food.
February 16, 2019:
I spent Valentine's Day curled up on the bed, with my paws crossed. It was too cold to sleep in my round fur bed in the guest room (which I claim is MY room), because it's on the north side of the house. You can see how much snow fell during the week from this photo Bobbi took of the front porch. Bobbi loves it when I cross my paws, but in this case, it was to wish that the snow would stop!
February 9, 2019:
I had a terrific birthday, and here are some photos of me with the contents of my gift bag and two cards I received in the mail. Notice that Hammy and Red Mouse are inspecting my presents:
This week we also celebrated the Chinese New Year. It's the year of the pig, but my lunar sign is the Wood Horse. That means I'm full of imagination, look at everything from a unique perspective, and always want to express my ideas. I'm also "emotionally sensitive" and pair well with the Wood Dog, which is Bobbi's sign.
February 2, 2019:
My birthday is tomorrow, but Bobbi wouldn't let me open my gift early, so you'll have to wait until next week to see what's in the bag. I'm sure there are balls and springs. I have lots of those, but they are easily lost as I play with them, and end up under pieces of furniture, behind things, and even in the closets that have sliding doors.
Like Terzo, I learned how to open these doors and often hide toys inside. Terzo liked to keep his collection of toy mice in one closet. Every so often Bobbi would find a mouse she hadn't seen for a while in the middle of the den floor, after he took it out of the closet during the night.
He had a favorite bear he always made sure was in the den or bedroom at night for safe-keeping. He would carry it around in his mouth, like a newborn kitten.
I do the same thing with my hamster. I'm not happy if Hammy ends up in the living room or kitchen at bedtime. I make sure to find him during the night and Bobbi often finds him in the hall or den in the morning.
You can see how much I love Hammy if you scroll down through the photos on the right side of this blog.
January 26, 2019:
I'm very excited about my Big Birthday next weekend. I'll turn FIVE on Feb. 3, and celebrate four years since my adoption on Feb. 4. I had been spayed on Jan. 19, so had just been put into a cage in the adoption room, after my stiches were removed. Then Bobbi arrived!
There's a gift bag sitting on the couch in the living room, with a big birthday balloon tied to the handle, and my huggable teddy guarding it. I'll make sure Bobbi takes photos of what's inside the bag, along with any cards I received, and post them next week.
Meanwhile, here's the present, along with a photo
that made me laugh this week. It's of one of the deer on Steve
Pitt's property, getting his tongue stuck on the bird feeder as
he tries to snitch some of the seed Steve put out for the birds.
That'll teach him to settle for the seed Steve scatters on the ground
for the visiting deer.
January 19, 2019:
2019 is featuring five eclipses, a rare planet transit, one of the best meteor showers and a super blood wolf moon, three supermoons, a blue moon, multiple meteor showers, and a close approach by the moon and Jupiter.
I'll be sitting in the bedroom window tomorrow at midnight, to watch the first total eclipse and the Super Blood Wolf Moon.
Meanwhile, we have snowshoe hares in our back yard again. I sometimes get a glimpse of them, but they're pretty elusive and the only way Bobbi knows about them is that Don (my pal and our handyman) has seen their tracks.
January 12, 2019:
Over the holidays we heard from Fran Shaw, a past-president of the Cat Writers' Association and a close friend of Bobbi's. She and her husband are planning another winter adventure, and may be sending us Fan Club members from Belize and Ecuador!
Things are quiet here, and Bobbi has put all the Christmas decorations away. But I noticed that she has a bag of large and small plastic balls, straws and springs that she's keeping out of my reach. Do you think that bag may be my Birthday Present?
I noticed that the book Bobbi is currently reading is called Ghosts and Legends of Prince Edward Island. If was written by an old friend, Julie Watson, who asked Bobbi to review the book contract for her. See the book on our Recommended Books page, and also check out the neat website of the photographer, John Watson (Julie's son).
January 5, 2019:
It's a New Year, and time for a new blog. I decided to redesign this page for a couple of reasons. First, I'm turning FIVE in less than a month, and took over the previous blog shortly after I was adopted four years ago.
We've moved the long list of charities and rescue groups we support from this page, as it's easier to find those links on the Fan Club page.
We added many new species to the Fan Club in 2018. In the process we discovered that there are 40 species of cats, 17 species of penguins, 18 species of seals, and an astounding 300 species of squirrels. Who knew?
We're fortunate to have several friends who travel widely, as well as a great photographer who lives on Lake Talon, near North Bay, Ontario, and send us photos regularly. There are many birds who visit Steve Pitt's feeders, lots of squirrels and deer, as well as a family of otters who lounge on the shore! He's also spotted ruffed grouse, geese, a snapping turtle, and many others.
We usually post to this blog every weekend, so stay tuned!