Archive for ‘Spots and stripes’

February 21, 2014

Otis…en repose

Despite what this post might suggest, I am actually tremendously busy right now.  Or at least, I should be.  If I don’t, I’ll make life exceedingly unpleasant for myself in a few months.  So naturally I spend my time doing absurd, time-wasting, random things.  And here’s another…

Otis napping on a lazy weekend afternoon + Superzoom camera + Procrastinating amateur photographer = Sunbathed adorableness

IMG_0702 IMG_0706 IMG_0707IMG_0701Ok, for real now, off to work…

August 13, 2013

The Misadventures of Spots and Stripes, Part Five: My tedious pastime finally has purpose!

Finally, the moment has come: my needlework hobby has merged with my other great obsession, my boys.  As sometimes happens, particularly if, like me, you are still a beginner knitter, you miscalculate how much yarn you’ll need for a project and end up with a lot of scrap yarn.  For this, you need to have a fair collection of projects that allow you to use up those spare skeins.  In my case, that most definitely now includes “Crocheted balls” by Purl Bee (see also “The beekeeper’s quilt”).  Because despite making many, many gifts for loved ones that were warmly received and appreciated, my craft has just now only truly felt useful and utilitarian as I watched my little guys try to tear my crocheted creations apart.  I have an illness.

The pattern is originally intended to make stuffed balls for human children, so some adjustments had to be made to accommodate my feline children.  First, really only the extra small ball is the appropriate size.  Second, I don’t do the embroidery: for starters, that seems like an awful lot of effort for something that will swiftly be torn apart and drooled all over, and also, and this is my imploration to you if you decide to give these a try, the thread could be ripped out and eaten which would be dangerous to diminutive digestive systems.  Thirdly, I used yarn to make fringe for a few of the toys so they can be tossed excitedly and chased, which they were…repeatedly.  Finally, I folded some loose catnip into the filling…because duh!


Some interesting observations:

  • What is normally a pretty tame avocation becomes kind of a high-stress occupation when you put catnip inside of your crocheted project and then try to finish it with two glassy-eyed feline junkies (whose pupils are so dilated they just look like black discs) staring apprehensively at you inches from your work.
  • When photographing the boys for this post, it was remarkably hard to keep them in frame when their blood-lust was surging and they were high out of their minds on kitty weed.  With that in mind, I did manage to snap a few hilarious action shots, which I will share with you now:

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Otis just wanted to rub against it…and salivate all over it.  So, so, so much drool!  But little Jack went freakin’ ballistic…

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Next for the boys: little sweaters!  Where the joy of the completed project completely shifts in the other direction…I am so going to enjoy that day!

July 25, 2013

The Misadventures of Spots and Stripes, Part Four: Holding down the fort

It’s fairly well-known amongst those who know me that you shouldn’t ask me or the Greek how our kitties are doing unless you’re free for the next, say, forty minutes.  We tend to forget that perhaps not everyone is as invested in our boys as we are and that perhaps protracted tales of feline forays and catty anecdotes was not what they signed on for when they asked that simple question.  I’m sure somewhere in the back of my mind I am aware that “How are your cats?” is sometimes simply a standard nicety someone might make on the way to the restroom, with the expectation of a one word answer.  BUT theeeeennnnn I think, surely, once they hear the uproarious account of cuteness run amok, they will be glad they held it in.  So, ask at your own risk and clear your schedule!

There are, in fact, many instances where this occurs in my life: the moment when I realize that what I thought was garden-variety doting is actually viewed by some as fervent attachment verging on obsession.  Aw well.  Recently, I was showing pictures of the kits on my phone and remarked casually, “This was when we built them a fort…” to which my uncle responded, “Wait.  Pause for a moment.  You built them a fort?!  You built them…a fort?!?  They’re cats!!!”.  Evidently, this is yet another thing we are blissfully unaware that other people simply do not do.  Alright, fine, we might be a little indulgent and I don’t know about everyone else’s little ones (four- or two-legged), but our cats just love a fort.  Any enclosed space where they can hide and feel safe or nap or pounce.  They’ve been known to dig furiously at my stomach when I’m wearing a particularly baggy sweatshirt in a desperate attempt to burrow inside me like I’m their own personal ton-ton.  With that in mind, who can deny them, really?  So, I thought, for Part 4 of what is otherwise known as my creepy cat lady chronicles, I’d devote a post to my felines and their forts:

Some are sensible, intentional forts.  Usually a gift from their magnanimous Nana Barbara:

Condo buddies

And a peek inside…


Some are somewhat improvised:

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Occasionally an errant limb will fall from the aforementioned flimsy fortification; I fear my boys are not as stealthy and astucious as they’d like to think

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Sometimes our intrepid duo are clearly just fooling themselves…for instance, these actually happened:

otis in track

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And lest we forget our dear friend sweatshirt: Blanket, playmate, companion, friend…and best fort EVER!

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March 31, 2013

The Misadventures of Spots and Stripes, Part Three: Fun with Sweatshirt

As I’m sure any parent (of both two- and four-legged children) can attest, without fail, at least once, you will buy the latest and greatest, most enriching and expensive toy ever envisioned in human history, and your brood will play with the box it came in.  A fortune spent on toys only to have the most simple, random trinket become the most beloved treasure.  My boys take it a step further, as they do, and have found my belongings to be, by far, their most entertaining play things.  I have wooden knitting needles dotted with tooth marks, flash drives containing all my digital life found stuffed under couches after an afternoon of panicked searching, lipsticks I still haven’t found.  They have made a habit of re-purposing my things…things, sadly, that I was still very much purposing…

shredded tp

Very economic of them, I must say.  Their most, most favorite (aside from my tooth guard that goes IN MY MOUTH that one of them carried off once: beyond disgusting- no wonder I grind my teeth in my sleep) is my old grey sweatshirt.  They love to burrow into it and harass each other.  I enjoy wearing it; but, like any weak, overindulgent parent, I cannot deny them.  So, one recent afternoon, the boys and I played around with their favorite toy, Sweatshirt:



Camera straps and toes are fun toys too!





And what about this levitating sweatshirt sleeve could possibly be so intriguing?


That’s all for this thread.  Stay tuned for, undoubtedly, more of my hijacked possessions…

May 1, 2012

The Misadventures of Spots and Stripes, Part Two: Testing the new camera on uncooperative subjects

In June, I will have been maintaining this blog for one year.  As a treat to myself (or I just wanted it and the dates happened to coincide…tomato, tomato), I got a new (i.e. good) camera.  One too many blog posts with dim, fuzzy photos finally pushed me to it.  Honestly, it’s hard to believe that phone cameras, in 2012, can still be so crappy.  It’s physically impossible to hold the phone still enough; the Earth’s rotation alone creates too much movement for what I can only imagine is a Civil War-era shutter to take a clear picture.  Ideally, I might get something like, say, the Nikon D800.  But, at $2300, it’s a little out of my price range.  Or, more modestly, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3, which comes in at a more conservative $700.  But with an SLR, you then have to buy the various interchangeable lenses, and those will run you $250-300 apiece.  Not to mention the fact that I am by no means a professional photographer, and the fancy camera might be overdoing it a little.  In the end, I got the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS.  It’s moderately priced, requires a medium level of skill to operate, and is a Consumer Reports Best Buy (Consumer Reports is my Bible).  And, I decided to try it out last weekend, and what better way than with my little bundles of joy, who would not sit still for a picture if their lives depended on it.

First, Little Jack (a.k.a. “Spots”) helped me test the Sport mode.  The increased shutter speed allows me to capture fast-moving subjects with high resolution.  I simply hold the button down, and the camera takes continuous shots.  For those times when that braided bit of yarn on a stick…just…has to…die!


Then, Otis (a.k.a. “Stripes”) helped me test the Vari-Angle LCD.  The 2.7-inch screen can be swiveled almost a full 180 degrees, which allows me to perfectly frame self-portraits…or, far more easily capture the antics of cats who like to lurk under benches and behind charcoal grills to pounce on the next unwitting bird who lands at our feeder.  One picture I won’t be able to get, however, is Otis actually catching a bird, but I assure you that will not be the camera’s fault.  Moths, on the other hand, have been put on notice.


Finally, I was able to try out the 35x (yes, that’s right, 35x!) optical zoom on the local wildlife in the woods behind the house.  These pictures were all taken whilst sunning myself on the deck.  Ah, I love letting the technology do all the hard work. 


Damn squirrels! Spots and Stripes, in their characteristically dog-like way, find squirrels both maddening and mesmerizing (Side note: So do Australians. I have now independently heard this from enough Australians to make it official. Despite the evolutionary aberration that is their entire country, Australians are, as far as I can see, uniquely and uniformly fascinated by our squirrels. They also remain unable to explain why in a way that makes sense to me). The squirrels remain uninterested and unintimidated, as my picture of a squirrel having its way with my birdfeeder illustrates.

But alas, some subjects are just too quick to catch!

Stay tuned for more adventures, now with clear, high quality photos…

December 1, 2011

The Misadventures of Spots and Stripes, Part One

This chronicle is inspired by the delightful blog “Reggie Darling”, which can be found in my blogroll.  Up until now, I have been restraining myself from putting too much in the blog about my little boys, my darling cats Otis and Jack.  This is because while I am unreasonably obssessed with them, one doesn’t want to presume that everyone else will be similarly seduced by their charms.  As anyone who has found themselves unknowingly ensnared by a shabbily dressed, wiry-haired woman (who one will likely next see on “Hoarders” and who prattles on ceaselessly about her pride of obese, foul-tempered cats as if they are the most precious things on Earth) can tell you, it is a slippery slope.  One minute you have a healthy love of animals, the next you’ve trapped  some poor soul in a Petsmart talking about your brood of 80 as he/she desperately tries to escape while wondering why it smells of cat urine.  It needn’t even be that extreme.  It is much easier to one day find oneself has become merely a conventional, run-of-the-mill bore, blissfully unaware that, well, no one cares anymore.  Your [pets, kids, cars, team] are lovely.  Now, enough already about them!  I intend this blog to be a creative outlet for myself but also endeavor that it may be, dare I say it, interesting to others.  That being said…whatever, they’re adorable, and you will hear me talk about them and you will enjoy it!

As I was saying, “Reggie Darling” follows the lives of an eloquent and energetic Manhattanite, his partner, and their awfully spherical Pug.  And Reggie, at his readers’ requests no less, devotes many a post to his interpid pup.  So, I decided to hell with it, I shall shamelessly do as I please.  Reggie has the advantage of being able to take his pooch on his various journies while my feline adventurers are homebound, but we will endure.  For the first edition, I suppose we will begin with the introduction to our crafty duo.  Stripes is our lanky 2-year old Otis who is mostly composed of stripes, and Spots is our 10-month old new addition Little Jack who is mostly spots

“The Rules (for Being the Awesomest Cats in the World)” or, as I like to call it, Scientific Proof of the Theory of Evolution: Why the most infuriatingly irritating creatures on the planet are also always the most adorable:

1.)   Sharing is for losers.

2.)   Everything even remotely enclosed is a bed…everything.

3.)   Be as annoying as possible with as little effort as possible.

For though I am small, I will stretch out as much as possible in the place where you like to sit…

4.)   Go freaking nuts!  Preferably after a large meal.  Sometimes you will throw up; sometimes it will be in the bed.

5.)   When humans inadvertently sit in your spot, they must be punished.

This is actually our dear Miss Boo who is no longer with us, but she was a strong proponent of the rules

6.)  Everything that is not a bed is a fort

7.)   Sunbathing is good for the complexion

And a peek around the curtain…

8.)   Never miss an opportunity to destroy something

9.)   Wallowing at my mistress’ feet in a show of feigned regret and playful precociousness will get me instantly forgiven for almost any crime.  Here, you can see Otis is so positively overcome with remorse and incorrigibility that he has collapsed spine first onto a plastic track!


10.)   Love thyself

Coming soon: A day in the life of an Awesome Cat; If our parents think we’re spoiled brats, they have no one to blame but themselves!

July 18, 2011

More pictures of the kiddo!

Truthfully, there are about a thousand new pictures but just two here.  Stay tuned for an album on Facebook.  With the first picture, I now have physical evidence that the kitten does, in fact, sleep.  We were worried for a while.  In the second, he is standing guard against evil squirrel invaders (what is it about squirrels that rubs cats the wrong way?) and sitting butt-to-butt with new best buddy/adoptive big brother, Otis.  Oh, and I did have video of them play-fighting and being adorable, but as it turns out, my Flip camcorder was totally defective and had to be returned.   So, all that cuteness is lost forever (sigh).

June 22, 2011

New arrival

We have added a feline family member.  Presenting…little Jack!  Giving sad eyes, romping, and generally being irritated by the perpetual camera in his face.  He’s about six months old, a brown and white tabby with an excessive amount of spots instead of stripes (perhaps another wild mix!).  His big brother, Otis, is being somewhat less welcoming than what’s expected of him.  He prowls and stalks him relentlessly through the house and takes every unsupervised moment to whack him in the head.  It doesn’t help that his Dad (the human one) won’t stop siding with him.  Ah, sometimes I worry that our future children will never live up to that cat in his eyes.  Anyways, there won’t be too many more pictures for a while as Jack is no longer presentable; his back leg swelled up till it looked like a little sausage, and the vet shaved practically the whole thing looking for an injury.  It’s back down to normal size, by the way.  Well, perhaps one picture of him trotting along on his bony chicken leg might be in order…  Enjoy the cuteness!


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