Saturday, June 28, 2008

Understanding the Cats

It makes sense to me that the kitties might be behaving a little strangely today, after having a puppy visit last evening, even if only for an hour and a half or so...But, it is also interesting to see what is going on.

Really, not much different, until I sat on the sofa, late morning. Sake wanted to join me, but her sniffings of the area where the Puppy sat told me she was not too pleased, and a little curious. Late morning, she asked to go out, and I put her in her pen. It was hot, but not oppressively so. After I finished the project I was doing, I decided to sit outside with her, delaying my next inside projects until the baseball game came on. She wanted inside after about 45 minutes. Later, when I was at the table, she sat there with me. She was in my way, so I moved to the sofa, and she came there to sit by my side, and out of my way. She has increasingly wanted to lay on the arm of the sofa, and have me touching her, if not petting her. She did the same today, reaching out with her paw to get my attention, when I was not touching her.

Haiku was asleep in the office when I walked in to tend to something. She woke up, calling to me, and we had a good brief visit that included some tummy rubs. Then, after she woke up, she came into the living room, and climbed on the sofa back. She started licking my hair and ear.. I don't know why, but she has done this before... Something she likes, I guess.

Sake and Haiku have been very particular about when they will and will not be together in the same area. Being on the bed together briefly, in an effort to waken me in the morning, had been the only "together" activity I saw for the longest time. They rarely eat together, although one will sit near the food, watching the other eat, and not approach till the other is done. Typically, Haiku is the watcher.

When I started opening windows, both girls found perches on the all too narrow window sills. And, they discovered that they can both sit on the sofa back: Haiku in the area behind where I typically sit, Sake on the other end of the sofa... Well, good for the windows...


The Dog Next Door

When the young couple with some small dogs moved in next door, it soon became apparent the dogs were very accomplished escape artists. He soon fixed the fencing, totally replacing the part that faces the alley.

The dogs are outside a lot, and yap a lot. Originally, I was concerned the yapping was due to some need not being met, but as time went on I realized it was just their nature.

Even with the fence repairs, every once in a while, someone escapes. Last night, it was the little female chihuahua like dog. She is white with black and brown spots. She is stout, but not obese...I went out to feed the outside kitties, or take out the trash, or something, and there she was, panting at my back gate. I grabbed her before she could get away, and check, but her family was not home.

As I went about my outside chores, I allowed her to run in the back yard: there was some stray cat food and plenty of water, none of which particularly interested her. She just seemed to want companionship, was happy to be carried, occasionally reached up to kiss me, panting happily.

I finished outside, and brought her into the house. As luck would happen my sparse social life included an activity that evening that involved meeting other folks, so it was one I did not feel I could postpone, nor did I want to. I put a note on the neighbor's door. I did not have their number, although they had had mine previously, and I put it on the note, again. I explained I would be gone but to call me, and that the dog would be locked in the back yard.

Well, as you may recall if you read my blogs, I have two cats, one of whom actually thinks she is bigger and tougher than dogs. Well, my little neighbor came inside, and started running around the house, sniffing. I was watching for marking, but best I could tell, nothing happened. Both cats were astonished by the visitor...

Haiku, the younger, more laid back cat, crouched with hackles up at first. Puppy sniffed. Sake arched her back, fluffed herself out big, and almost hissed. Whatever she said, Puppy bowed, dropped her head, and put her ears down... After that, there was lots of watching and staring. Eventually, Sake disappeared. But NOT before she was incensed to see Puppy climb off and on the sofa, crawl in my lap, and lick my face. And, when Puppy explored the sleeping baskets on the floor, Sake made it clear those were not for puppies. Puppy and Haiku chased a little, but not aggressively. Puppy discovered the waterbed, where Haiku likes to lay, and Haiku did not appreciate her bouncing. So, Haiku settled in on her chair in the office.

Puppy seemed to want to play, so I found a soft ball for fetch. When she started tearing up the soft ball, I found a plastic golf ball which she quite disdainfully eschewed. She checked out cat food but did not eat. She sniffed at water, took a couple of licks "just to see" but obviously was not thirsty, and did not appear distressed or neglected.

I delayed my departure as long as I could, and put Puppy in the back yard. She tried to pry the back gate open (and could have) so I used the geode door stop that kept my cats inside for years, when the screen door did not latch...As luck would have it, as I was in the front drive, preparing to leave, her owner, Heather, arrived.

Heather said Puppy was out earlier in the day, too, sitting at the front door. Waiting to get in... It is good to know she will not run away, but she is so cute, and so friendly, she would be subject to dog-napping quite easily... This time, I did get Heather's number, in case it happened again.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

I Love Nights Like This In Texas

It was very hot today. So, why am I surprised? It is June in West Texas, and it is supposed to be hot today. And everyday for a while...

After the tasks of the day, I settled in my back yard, to relax... It was hot.. but even before the sun set, the breeze was strong enough to cool the air. I could open the windows, and air out the house. I changed from T-shirt and shorts to sweat pants and long-sleeved turtle neck...The thermometer says 75 degrees, but it is amazing how much the breeze impacts that. We do not talk about "wind chill" in the middle of the summer, but there, you have it...

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Writer's Block

I understand about writer's block in a way that has nothing to do with not having ideas about which to write... It has to do with not having the brain space with which to cope with writing... I understand that if our brain is dealing with many different stimuli, it can not focus on and calm down enough to really put thoughts to "paper."

I have been there for more than a year.. Sometimes, my blog has gemmets of what I want to say.. But it is like pulling teeth...


Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Value of a Movie

I work at a psychiatric prison... I interview psychiatrically ill male patients daily, and standard questions include "do you know what the date or day is?" Friday, June 6, 2008, as I interviewed patients who were familiar with me, I asked them another, non-standard question, that while it goes to "fund of knowledge" is a little unorthodox (fund of knowledge usually is: who is the President, what season is it, what sport is played in this season, who makes cars, what oceans touch the United States, what countries touch the United States, count, say the alphabet,etc., depending on level of answerers.)

So, I asked the patients what they knew about World War II.. Most, from the ages of early 20s to late 40s, said they knew little. A couple clicked on "D-Day." Most did not know what D-Day was, until I said, "Did you see Saving Private Ryan?" I told them that the scene on the beach was D-Day, when the Allies landed in France.... Instant recognition... I do not know what they recognized, but hopefully, they were able to put a piece of history in place.

Some time ago, a friend, who grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and had parents who were raised in the area, and I went to the "Silent Wings Museum" which is about the World War II Glider pilots, about 85% of whom trained in Lubbock during WWII. Eventually, Lubbock was the only training place for Glider pilots in WWII... There was the Army Air Field at Reese, which eventually became an Air Force Base, where the Prince of Iran trained in the late 70s... The South Plains Army Air Field, where the glider pilots trained, was at the sight of the current Preston Smith Lubbock International Airport... So, when my friend and I toured the museum, one of her comments was an "aha moment:" her mother used to talk about the glider pilots. But my friend equated those men as the men stationed at Reese Army Air Field, some 10 miles west of town, instead of at the South Plains Army Air Field about 4 miles north of town.. All of a sudden, it made more sense to her...

We all have "aha moments." I had one, after going to the museum the first time, and then re-watching the D-Day movie The Longest Day. A favorite movie for many reasons... I just love the song of the movie. I love that so many stars had credited and uncredited appearances in this picture: it was as if "everybody" wanted to be in this picture, I hope as a tribute to the men and women of WWII who served, suffered, endured or died that day and that war... But, in that movie, it has a very short segment about the (British) Glider division landing in France...Looking through the glider windshield, having seen the glider windshield at the museum, was very authentic: the panel and windshield looked authentic.. it put a piece of history in place. And, by the way, the "Rubber Ruperts" really were used during D-Day!

So, for my patients, their awareness of D-Day is based on Saving Private Ryan. For me, my awareness of the "Rubber Ruperts" was based on a The Longest Day.

Since I visited the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial, and I am not sure which year that was, I have become very much more aware and sensitive to the lessons of history, especially the lessons of war... Some of the best movies that teach these lessons to me include: Mel Gibson's The Patriot, Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima.

Other movies have given me glimpses of life that I have not been otherwise aware of... Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish fact from fiction... but research and discretion helps.. And, the lesson of the movies is the lesson the Agatha Christie gives us in the "Miss Marple" stories: the human nature of St Mary Mead's is the same human nature all over the world....

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