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Posts Tagged ‘Cat’

The Wages of Immortality

Posted by Dirck on 1 May, 2017

I don’t believe I’m being original when I say that we are effectively immortal in the eyes of our pets, so long as we stick to relatively pedestrian companions.  A household Galapagos tortoise or even an African Grey parrot will have a different perspective.  As immortals, we change only slowly while the pet passes from one end of life to the other.  They experience continuity, barring horrible accidents.  We experience grief.

This is Cleopatra Harris, named because we are silly about connecting ancient Egypt and cats, and because her hair was reminiscent of Ron Glass’s in Firefly but Cleopatra Book didn’t have the right flow.  This morning she ceased to be, having passed from a kittenhood of nicotine addiction (not her choice, and not ours; she joined her litter mates at our house after a brief stay with someone else who had a SERIOUSLY rough patch in their life which eventually developed to “I can’t look after this poor cat, please take her”) to a seniority of incontinence and eventual diabetes.

Actually, the incontinence was a long-term thing.  This is the cat who, if you read back through the years when interesting things happened on this blog, I frequently swore at.  Part of the expense of owning her for the past couple of years has been buying puppy training pads in job lots, because she decided litter boxes should occupy half the floor-space of the house, and we had to very nearly carpet the place and largely upholster all our furniture with disposable absorbents… which she mostly didn’t miss.  She is the cat who, if I may be frank, was making a very good case for “let’s not have any more cats in the house” in the head of a guy who has loved cats since age 5.

Over the weekend, it became clear that her life had at last become even more a burden to her than it was to me.  This estimation was made by my wife, who was not as oppressed by the cat-based squalor as I, finding in her heart an adamantine core of affection which the misbehavior could not damage or even discolour (it’s not like the cat was actively trying to kill our son, after all), and her decision was based on that affection.  We thus prepared son for the impending loss as well as we could, gave Cleo one last taste of the great outdoors during which the above picture was taken, and committed the act of medically-assisted euthanasia this morning.  She may not look ill in the picture, but she was essentially nothing but a lot of hair around a collection of extremely sore joints.

And yes, I wept throughout the time in the vet’s office.  She was a filthy destroyer of the fabric of our house, a vast and constant drain on our scant finances, and occasionally bite-y.  But she was also beautiful, extremely willing to let son practice the humane treatment of animals upon her, and (when not actively ruining a carpet) a cuddly, loving beast who sought the affection her infirmities did so much to alienate.  I will not miss the messes, but I will miss the cat, because we all contain multitudes and there was good in her even I can appreciate, and what was bad was bad without intent.

We are, once a thorough cleaning has been undertaken, likely get yet another young cat that we can outlive and mourn.  If classical mythology teaches us anything, it’s that immortals are gluttons for self-inflicted punishment.  It’s the patches of delight between the bouts of grief that keep us going.

Today’s pen: Waterman Carène
Today’s ink: Quink washable blue (vintage)

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A Disputable Premise

Posted by Dirck on 3 March, 2017

This is a charming little film, and although it rests on a shaky foundation, I thought the tone of it is just what the current age calls for.

I know at least four households that defy the notion of cats and dogs not living together well.  And that’s not counting The Simpsons.

An aside– I published a little something on my fiction front just now, for those who care about such things.

Today’s pen: Parker 51
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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Happy Place Time

Posted by Dirck on 3 February, 2017

OK, I said I’d trail off the political stuff.  I’ll go so far as to offer ten minutes of absolute denial, and use the internet for its original purpose– promulgation of cat videos.

I was considering one with a little more antics, but it had a “wacky” soundtrack.  You know, like you wish they were playing on the news these days to reassure you that none of it was happening.

Today’s pen: Sailor 102
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Nuit

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Ventriloquism!

Posted by Dirck on 29 July, 2016

That’s what it’s called when a dummy speaks, right?

I thought, in lieu of the usual Friday Film Feature, I’d recount a tale by way of making up some of the entertainment-of-visitors deficit I’ve run up on this blog.  A tale of a lost pen.

A humorous tale of a lost pen, I should say; let the smelling salts stand where they are.

I had intended to use today’s pen on Tuesday, but it was not where I expected to find it.  This was slightly distressing, because one of the few habits I have that is reliable is returning a pen to the in-battery facility; a small correspondence box with a drawer for a half-dozen pens in its base, which itself rests in a profoundly rustic Welsh dresser which came to me through my parents’ protracted move.  Since this pen doesn’t sit comfortably in the drawer, it gets to sit on top of the inks which take up the space one is meant to stick letters in the box.

I didn’t even have to open the glass doors on the top of the dresser to establish that the pen wasn’t where it should have been.  But of course, one does, and roots around.  Did it get in behind? No.  Down the side?  Nope.  And that was it for the easy possibilities.  We then start the unhappy game of I put it down somewhere foolish.

Our house is… cluttered.  My son builds railways on all horizontal surfaces.  We haven’t yet finished the integration of crap from the parents’ house with our pre-existing crap.  We have to use plastic containers full of Lego, roughly shoe-box size, to keep the insane diabetic cat off items of furniture we don’t want her to mistake for a litter box (if we’re not sitting on it, then it’s a litter box).  Setting down a pen without attending to where one sets it, even a relatively large pen, makes for problems.

So, when not attending The Regular Job and not otherwise engaged in cooking, washing, or cleaning up after the flippin’ cat, I was peering under things and into corners, all to no avail.  I was becoming resigned to the idea that the pen would not be found until the slow campaign of making the house a place for living in (insane diabetic cats already with 14 birthdays on the clock can’t last forever…) removed whatever it was hidden by.  This wasn’t a devastating blow by any means, as (i) I’ve got plenty of other pens to fall back on and (ii) this one cost less than burger at McKing&W.  I wasn’t happy, as I’d hardly had any use out of the thing since its recent arrival, but I could cope.

Coping only had to struggle on until this morning, as it turned out.  It turns out that it was in the pocket of a shirt worn on Sunday.  Not much worn* either, which is why it got hung up rather that chucked in the laundry… unlike the shirt from Saturday, which I had roused out of the hamper and given a pat down, because my search was wide-ranging if unscientific.  Hooray!

Some minutes of pointless self-castigation then followed.

There was something to learn from this incident.  Not that I have all too human failings in the areas of retention and looking after my stuff– that has, alas, been well-known for a long time.  It is the simple and happy discovery that the cap seap on this pen is very good indeed; almost a week standing point-up, but not a moment of hesitation when I opened it up to start writing this morning.  Not bad for a pen that costs the same as a ride on a city bus.

Today’s inexpensive, elusive pen: Jinhao 159
Today’s ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir

*”Not much worn” meaning duration of contact with me since last washing.  It is, in all honesty, profoundly worn and is a “Weekend when I don’t expect to interact with others” item of clothing.

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Apprehended Mourning

Posted by Dirck on 5 January, 2016

I had meant, contemplating the week ahead from the mellow perch of New Year’s Day, to stop in yesterday with a little bit of whimsy, but two things prevented me:

  1. The usual heap of metaphoric wet laundry The Regular Job offers at the start of a month;
  2. Lack of whimsicality in my mood, brought on by events arising on 2 January.

We have, as I think I have mentioned, a number of cats milling about the place.  One of them…

...yclept Augusta, for we don't go for cutesy in our cat names...

…yclept Augusta, as we don’t go for cutesy in our cat names…

…had a cough for a while, and some Christmassy largesse from my father (who is quite inconsistent in his pronouncements) meant that we could take her into the vet without forgoing meals.  It was, we suspected, asthma, which would mean an ongoing expense and likely reduction in meal sizes, but as my wife has asthma and knows the apprehension it induces in the sufferer we were willing to have that diagnosis delivered to us.

The seeker of silver linings would say at this point that we are saved from that ongoing expense.  The diagnosis was not asthma, but of a multitude of tumours which were pressing against the lungs.  Rather than go home with a prescription, we went home without a cat, because treatment was essentially impossible and far beyond our means.

This stung just that little extra bit, because of the four cats we ended last year with, Augusta was without doubt the best-natured and -behaved of the bunch.  No illicit shredding of things, no wrathful gnawing on the hands that feed, and the expression of unwelcome fluids was purely hairball-related, extremely infrequent, and usually on the impermeable kitchen floor.   She enjoyed cuddles more than the others, and was arguably the most decorative.  If you were to pull a Sophie’s choice on me as of this time last week, demand that I select one cat to remain in the house while the others were taken, I (almost certainly) would have singled her out.  The unfairness of life is once more underscored and rubricated.

Long-time readers of this screed will no doubt be experiencing a little déjà vu now, and with good cause.  In the course of documenting these slices of my life, I’ve mentioned the passing of three other cats, all from similar maladies (the completist ghoul may look here, here, and somewhat inconclusively here).  The last of those was almost certainly harbouring the disease by the time he came into the house, but even leaving Sam the Foundling out of the mix, that’s troublesome.  I should look into how much it costs to have one’s house checked for radon, the radioactive substance no house is entirely certain to be without.  Failing that– does anyone know if cats are uncommonly tumour-prone, an inversion of the legend regarding sharks?

On the matter of legends concerning animals, I’d like to explode the myth of cats are solitary, aloof and unconcerned.  The three remaining beasts spent much of yesterday lamenting Augusta’s absence.  I’m sure some would accuse me of anthropomorphization, but watching them seeking about the house and pausing occasionally to make noises far more chilling than the “Get off my tail, you lump!” occasionally heard in past is hard to otherwise attribute.  They certainly don’t understand the explanations.

Having got all that off my chest, I will appear tomorrow with the mostly-complete item I’d intended to run out into the light– it’s mostly complete because I’ve been working on it for the better part of a year.  How’s that for a teaser?

Today’s pen: Parker 75
Today’s ink: Quink Black

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Gospel

Posted by Dirck on 16 January, 2015

I had something else lined up of Friday Film, but the FPGeeks threw this at me and, since this is one of the people I describe as “That’s what I want to be when I grow up,” I thought this it the thing to share now.  Plus, National Geographic!

…and he’s got a cat!

Today’s pen (to which some of my own humble skills have been applied): Pelikan M20
Today’s ink: Chelpark Black

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Separation Anxiety

Posted by Dirck on 22 August, 2013

I’m a little distracted today, and I think I’ll fill in the time by explaining the distraction.  Warning: A rather dirty trick follows immediately.

My wife and I are separated, and she’s take the son with her.  None of us are pleased with this state of affairs.

Aren’t you glad I warned you?  That sounds like terrible news, and even with the warning I wager many people are right now thinking, “Oh, no!  How could this terrible thing happen?”

I blame the city’s works department for it.  They are the ones who paved the street in front of our house.

I… probably should have added a warning about that non sequitur as well, eh?  Enough shenanigans, then– I’ll explain properly.  That paving was done Tuesday morning.  Tuesday evening, two-thirds of the human compliment of our domestic arrangement were wheezing in various degrees from the wafting volatile organic compounds of the new tarmacadam, with a progression on the complaint which suggested that my wife would wheeze her last if she tried to sleep on the problem.  Providentially, my parents have just left on a vacation and their house is a mere two minutes away by auto, so the wheezers were transferred to the relative comfort of fully breathable air.  I remained at home to feed the cats and to prevent them getting at the matches.

My parents’ house also has an air conditioner, which would frequently be an added comfort at this time of year.  This past weekend was, generally speaking, sweltery.  Tuesday saw an odd dip in temperature, though, which persisted through yesterday, and so the air conditioner was moot.  Cool air resulted in a paradoxical extension of discomfort, as the fresh pavement did not cook off as it might usually when exposed to summer’s mighty effects.  Bringing everyone home in the evening turned into a mere flying visit to grab fresh clothes and a few toys; while I only detected the smell of a neighbour’s barbecue, my wife said even before stepping out of the car, “I taste road.”

We’ll try again tonight, as the heat came back on today.  As I said, none of us are quite enjoying this; even the cats are showing signs of worry (possibly because they know that I have access to the matches).  The to-and-fro, the difficulty of preparing meals in an unfamiliar kitchen (a large part of my current state orbits the question of tonight’s supper), the terrible sensation of discovering that thing you didn’t think you’d need is actually constantly required, the alteration in what was an excellent cuddle schedule (my son appears intent on taking up cuddling as a profession), all of it adds its individual grains to the pan of do-not-like.  Since there’s no telling just how long it will take for the source of the trouble to exhaust itself, not only is this an open-ended misery, it raises the ugly spectre of eventually rooting for the arrival of winter and its power to prevent hydrocarbons from getting airborne through reduced Brownian motion and layers of ice.

There are a couple of small advantages to this otherwise uncongenial separation.  The primary is, of course, the ongoing existence of my wife and son; they may be way over there, but “over there” isn’t a euphemism like “gone west” and it’s something I think we all view as a positive.  More selfishly… I’ve had the best night’s sleep since late June of 2008 out of it.

Today’s pen: Mabie, Todd & Co. Blackbird
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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Oooooh, I Love a Parade!

Posted by Dirck on 30 June, 2013

In honour of my son’s and my nation’s birthdays (today and tomorrow, respectively), a grand parade!

US viewers can also believe it applies to their upcoming day of national fireworkery.  Fun is best when shared.

Today’s pen: Parker Frontier Flighter
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Nuit

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Joining a Collective

Posted by Dirck on 21 February, 2013

Why not?  I signed up with a co-operative from which I buy fuel and groceries, and thus share in the profits of having done so, so why not a collective?

…apart from wanting to be able to, in Daddy Duck style, gather my pens to my bosom and shout, “MINE MINE MINE!”  No, it’s not hippy living I’m considering today, but rather collective nouns.  One of the really fun things about English, and one of the things that makes me occasionally weep for the paucity of modern expression through their lack of use, is these nearly pointless terms for groups of things.  Bunch, herd, and heap all get plenty of press, but one seldom hears these days from the others.  One may suffer from an unkindness of ravens (for which I take no personal responsibility) groaning outside one’s window, keeping up the din which the hooting parliament of owls began the night before.  One may be distressed to find a nest of vipers in the closet… or worse, a sleuth of bears.  I should speak of the glaring of cats we have at home, since only one of them really has the fuzziness to be a contributor to a clowder.

What gets all this going is a stray filament on a discussion thread regarding the impending new TWSBI 580.  Like any other pen company, TWSBI has its fans (of which I’m one, although in this regard I’m quite promiscuous), and so there are several participants in the discussion who have multiple pens; not just examples of each available model, as I would if I had cash and any interest in the Micarta, but several of the same model.  This led to the question: what is the collective terms for a quantity of TWSBIs?

Candidates include troop, tribe, throng, and tingle, although I have to admit as a contributor to that list that none of them seems quite right.  I’d like “troop” disqualified, as it’s used for lots of things (cavalrymen, baboons, dogfish…) and “tribe” would just get arguments on the line of “Is it PC?” started.  The field is open, though, and I wonder that the inclination to date is so bent upon alliteration.  One could have a clarity of TWSBIs, given the company preference for transparent barrels.  A slosh of TWSBIs, since most have rather high ink capacities?  So many possibilities.

Of course, one would have to then develop collective terms for other makers.  A dabble of Pelikans.  A striation, or maybe a circularity of Sheaffers.  An nosey of Parkers.  A ripple of Watermans.  An extravagance… no, a hoard, I think, of Mont Blancs.  And what of pens themselves?  Do I have a vast scribble of pens in the my bunker?  A huge scratching?  A thriving delineation?

It’s an interesting pastime, and one that could give employment to a whole worship of writers….

Today’s pen: Italix Parson’s Essential
Today’s ink: Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue

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A Warning to Handlers of the Curious

Posted by Dirck on 20 August, 2012

I’ve been on a bit of an M.R. James kick lately, and this combined with the slow descent of the sun from it’s summery heights reminds me that a seasonal event is creeping up upon us.  No, not Hallowe’en, however much I revel in that festival, but the start of the school year.  This has meaning to me for the first time in a long while, as my son is looking down the barrel of Pre-Kindergarten (a thing invented since I was in the system).  This reminds me of a little contemplation that came upon me while doing some dishes, which I mean to pass on to the academic world at large.

A brief pause, though, while I point out that this is not aimed at any specific academics that I know look in here.  It’s a general note.

The thing about joining the ranks of instructors in post-secondary education that is a bit of trap is that the person who does do manages it through having a deep and abiding passion for the subject.  This can be a good thing, as the passionate can inspire others.  However, there is a dark side, in that the consumed student of any given topic can grow amazingly tedious on that topic.  They forget, you see, that others are not quite along side them, and might not be sufficiently up to speed to appreciate the finer points of what’s under discussion.

From my own past, I recall with certain nausea the four weeks spent in English 100 on the word-by-word deconstruction of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock“.  In my imagination, it swells to a vast epic, A Riming Ode to an Ancient Grecian Beowulf of Omar Khayyam, yet is hardly covers two pages, a mere 131 lines.  I bear a grudge towards peaches to this day.  My wife has a similar issue with Citizen Kane, as her Film 100 professor devoted the back half of a semester to it.  A fine poem, a decent film… but unless there’s an internal drive to delve, such picking at the minutiae is akin to sitting in a dentist’s chair in an industrial setting, while an elderly German fellow demands to know if it’s safe.

The regular reader here may at this point snort and ponder just how deep my hypocrisy runs.  I freely admit that I’m probably not the best person to address a small class on the topic of “writing instruments in the 20th century”… except I’m aware of this dangerous aspect of over-enthusiasm.  It’s easily reigned in if a tiny bit of cognitive cycling is applied during preparation of the class.  Also, those looking in here regularly are both entirely voluntary and not paying a huge sum each semester for the privilege of being bored while hoping for the odd moment of entertainment.  See how I grip reality with both hands?

So, there’s my public service announcement.  If the kids start to glaze over in class, it may not just be an effect of the modern age’s tendency to over-stimulation.  It may be that they’re not, strangely, so interested in the number of holes found in 18th century Prussian military horse-shoes, or the oils applied to the telescopes used by Clyde Tombaugh.  Save it for the 200 level courses.  It may be, in fact, better to teach what one is indifferent to; I’ll teach some Political Economy courses, and see about getting a political economist in to discuss non-sac-based pen fillers.

Today’s overexplained example: Sheaffer Admiral Balance (the very same Green Admiral mentioned last week)
Today’s ink, not being splashed about for a week and a half on Jules et Jim: Diamine Evergreen

Having dealt with the business at hand, a coda because I know several people here care about such things; Sam the foundling cat had his quietus on Friday, apparently almost as I was writing my little bit of trivia here.  My wife decided that time had come and got along to the vet without me; I feel like a bit of a brute for not having been there to support her, but she says he went easily.

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