Thursday, November 24, 2011

Will the Cat Stories Ever End? Whadda U think?

Here are the two little angels we've been fostering in their super kitty bed, Guera (above) and Mimi (below). In one my last cat blogs, we had the surprise kitten thrown in the carport.  That little darling was taken to Planned Pethood and adopted.  So what's new enough in OUR cat commando to have to report again so soon? 

The following week someone threw ANOTHER young kitten into the carport.  This one was younger, a calico with a lot of black and brown and very little white, had a sinus infection, and didn't come from a family who was tired of her. She was more feral but not afraid of me; she seemed to think I was her mom. It was a wild couple of days with that one around, she did have to stay in the outside bathroom, but I fixed her up with food,water, catbox, blankets, attention and set the Vicks Vaporub jar near her to help her congestion.  She was a sweet little kitty, AREN'T THEY ALL? Dammit! Someone decided to make it my problem.  Maybe the neighbors don't realize our cats are fixed and that these cannot be our kittens that they find in the neighborhood! How's that for optimism?

I had to turn to Mimi the cat rescuer. She came to bail me out again, and because the kitty was gentle and catbox trained, she took it to Planned Pethood where she received treatment and was expected to be a good candidate for adoption.  Again, thanks to Mimi for taking that adorable but impossible little problem out of my life.

Meanwhile, the little sisters have grown considerably these past two months. They learned how to open their bedroom door when they were ready to expand their territory.  They are smart and paid attention. They learned a lot from the bigger cats. We had a person arrive to stay in the kittens' 'old room', and we moved them out into a larger running space.  They now occupy the dining room, living room, and kitchen. Basically all the common areas in the house.  Our commando is allowed out into the living space, but we have to keep all screen doors well shut because the little buggers are now ready to explore the outside. That is not part of the owner's plan.  I am an open door person and I have to think twice about closing doors behind me.  Same with Pablo. But so far so good.  Our cats enjoy watching the kittens play, and so far they are all able to get along.  Moka and Buster are the most jealous, since they take my attention from them.  Not to mention we had a group meeting, humans and cats and decided the commando was already too large and no one else can be admitted.  The cats are doing a great job on outsider cat security.  But I have not done my part on interior security.  I still cater to two adorable little darlings whose photos I now like to take. Here are some pics.  In just another couple of weeks these kittens will be moving to a new home.  Their experiences here have taught them quite a bit about other cats, kittens, humans, the way they are not so afraid of humans anymore!  Talk about a full house!

the favorite toy

 this is how the other cats drink water, cool!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bits and Pieces: Message in a Bottle

10th Day at sea, located approximately 1000 miles south of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.

June 16, 1990

Our 38ft. trimaran planed, skimming the water’s surface; rare brisk winds moved us along at a fast pace.  The guys said we made 200 miles that day.  It was one of our best days yet.  We were in the ‘doldrums’, the area from 5°N across the equator to 5°S.   An area known for its prevailing stillness. 

On that day I decided to cook spaghetti and sauce for dinner.  To cook below decks in a galley where the gimbaled stove swings back and forth, the cook has to stand on bended knees to move with the rhythm of the ocean while keeping his or her balance.  If he fights the movement, he accomplishes no crew dinner and ends up seasick.  It’s important to roll with the flow, to stay loose and think about dancing.  The ingredients slide back and forth on the counter spaces.  It is a patience-requiring, time-consuming task. It’s not so much a multi-task as it is an octopus task, wishing one had more arms to catch the items rolling out of reach.  

I wanted to spiff up the Ragu with not only fresh onions and garlic, but with some of the dried green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, oregano, etc., that I’d dehydrated for the trip.  Preparing dinner that day was my main project, and merits its own paragraph because it’s a complicated process to complete this important task, one which has to be done two or three times a day.  People often ask, “What do you do all day at sea on a long voyage?”  This is one function landlubbers don’t consider.  We work for our supper at sea.  Cooking meals is just one example of essential tasks that consume time during an ocean crossing.

We decided to drink one of our family-sized bottles of wine with our dinner, but we got carried away celebrating our crossing the equator and zipping through the doldrums.  We ended up drinking both Costco sized wine bottles. That’s when we had the bright idea to send out messages in the bottles.  We were completely toasted so it was a crude operation.  I wrote down who and where we were, the date, including our names and our PO Box in Kona, Hawaii.  In hindsight it would have been smart to empty the bottles, dry them, and then insert notes.  But in our state of inebriation we scrolled our notes and dropped them into the dregs of the red wine.    We corked them, tossed them, and forgot about them; other than the notes I’d documented in my journal. 

We threw our messages in the bottles into the South Pacific ocean approximately 1200 miles south of Hawaii.  Many a sailor before us had followed this age old tradition.  For the most part, once the fun of throwing the bottle into the ocean has passed, it is quickly forgotten, and no results are usually expected.  But many a bottle has been found. 

November 21, 1991
Kona, Hawaii

Sorry for the time jump, but the unexpected happened.  Seventeen months and five days after tossing the bottles in the ocean, over a year and a half later, a letter arrived in the mail from the South Pacific Country of Vanuatu.  Two cousins had found our message in a bottle.

Maybe you have seen Survivor: Vanuatu and have seen how outback it is.  It is located in a cluster of island groups northeast of Australia and New Zealand.  The official language is Bislama, although most people speak some French and/or English.  Rather than do a cultural write-up of the country I'll let the photos below show you what life looks like where one of the bottles washed up.

The letter was from one of two cousins, Patrick and Setla Simon, who found our bottle with the message.  They live in the southernmost part of the country on a small island Named Maskelynes, off the island of Malekula.  Their first letter to us was as follows:

Dear Sir (Hello)

My name is Setla. I live in a very small island. Yes friend I’ve already found the bottle. Inside the bottle there is a piece of paper or a small note.  Inside it you’ve wrote all your names, phone number and box number. I can’t read the whole thing because half of the note has been torn up, but anyway I try my best to read and understand it. There are some names but I cant see clearly so I want you to write back and re-write the whole passage again. I found the bottle with the note on this date. (Tuesday the 5th November 1991)

Write back to me with this address. Never change any spelling.

Mr. Setla Simon
Pelongk Village
Maskelynes Island
South Malekula

Thank you very much for your great attention! Bye, Setla

 We sent them an underwater disposable camera and asked them to take photos of themselves, where they found the bottle, and their family, which happens to also be their village.  They took the pictures and sent back the camera.  We continued to write back and forth until their requests got to be more than we could manage.  When the entire soccer team needed uniforms and shoes, they sort of stopped writing when we sent them a care package but not full of sporting equipment.  It would be incredible to visit them one day.  By now they are grown men with kids of their own, I would imagine.  Fishing and combing the lagoons.  I should write them a letter and see what’s new in Vanuatu.  At last report many yachts were visiting their area, thus they have become more anglicized, but I imagine it is still quite the peaceful little fishing village it always has been.
This is the mangrove where these guys found the bottle. The bottle traveled about 1,000 miles farther than we did on our sail trip.  We only sailed as far as Fiji.

Patrick and Setla, cousins, our new friends in Vanuatu. Yes, they loved the sunglasses and new flip flops.

A photo of their village from out on the boat, taken while fishing. They sent us pics of the fish they caught, the cleaning area, the drying palapa.

The family standing in their village posing for their first ever family photo.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Buds and Butterflies, Bits and Pieces

Buds and butterflies:  The mamey branches are flowering up again.  This morning I photographed a few beautifully bright orange butterflies (not monarchs) feasting on the seasonal blooms.

Bits and Pieces:  One of my main objectives living here is to finish writing....well, to finish writing SOMETHING, but primarily a travel adventure tale about the sail trip I was part of in 1990.  My husband Jim and I were invited to sail from Hawaii to Fiji with a sailor friend from San Diego and his brother on their boat.  We traveled on a 38 ft. trimaran, or triple hulled sailboat, for three months.  There is so much to this story that I have decided to try an experiment.  I want to post some of my writing. I have taken a new approach to just write about any day or experience and not try to write chronologically.  I am hoping that threatening to post these stories gives me the initiative to pick up that pen and paper every day, if just for a little while, and blog more often, even if I'm just telling sea stories.

It's more interesting than gossip, religion or politics! And so much less stressful!

Tomorrow I plan to post the first installment of BITS AND PIECES. Hope it works out! For all of us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One Happy Ending, One Sad Ending

Gemelo, lived many years as a feral cat, and I imagine he lived his entire life in the abandoned property next door and in this house before I bought it.  This was the first photo he ever let me take of him in May, 2011. Gemelo - after several months of studying the life of the domestic cats in this commando - decided that he too would like to be able to count on meals, fresh water, some human love, and a warm place to sleep.  This photo was taken shortly after he had begun to let me pet him, flea drop him, brush and groom him in general, and he was accepted into the commado.  He is the father of who knows how many neighborhood cats, and of course some of my cats! Busmo for sure! I think the way cat heirarchy goes, he was still the king of the neighborhood because he wasn't neutered. He was so feral when I first moved here I couldn't capture him and he remained the only cat with balls in the commando.  And so he reigned as the macho of machos and the other cats let him get away with eating half their food.

Once he let me pet and groom him, and he started talking to me, I realized he was a very old cat. Cats age faster in the feral world, so I have no idea how many years old he was.  But I could feel his ribs, his fur was often dissheveled, and the coloring of his fur was another indicator.  I had the gut feeling that he knew his days were numbered and he wanted to live out his fantasy, to have all the cat comforts he'd never had.  I have seen this behavior before with a cat I had in Kona. 

Yesterday we found Gemelo hiding in the trough in the back of the patio. He looked terrible, was completely dissheveled, didn't smell great, and was not comfortable. I cleaned him up and gave him a nice comfy pillow and blanket in a corner of the closet, where it was quiet. I rocked him and gave him water in a syringe.  However, while thinking over the life of Gemelo, I remembered two nights ago he slept on the bed. He has never done that and I think he always wanted to.  The next night he slept on Buster's bed. That was ballsy.  Yesterday when I saw how shallow Gemelo's breathing was, and how cool his skin felt, I knew what was happening.  His time had come to go. We made him as comfortable as possible and he died during the night.  In many ways it was a happy ending for Gemelo who had lived a rough life out there fighting for himself.  But here, even though he was a pain in the ass at feeding time, we are saddened.  Gemelo died during the night of November 8, 2011.  I hope he rests in peace.  Losing a pet is difficult, and when your pets are such an integral part of our daily lives around here, it makes for one sad ending. 

Gemelo's favorite thing was to go outside after a rain and lick all the water off the leaves.  He did it as if it were his job to clean up all that sitting water.  He was a very sweet cat, once he felt at home here.

Onward to happier endings.  Remember this little angel?

The one someone threw into my carport?  She brought so much life to the two other kittens we are fostering. They'd been alone since birth, Mimi and Guera, and were quite afraid of the world in general.  This little darling obviously had a familiy for her first few weeks, because she was completely adjusted when I found her in the carport and thought it was Guera.  It was just raining cats that week. This kitten taught them to play, she trusted us immediately and that intrigued Mimi and Guera.  They came out to play. The three of them had a blast. But we could not keep the little kitten.  Our commando is closed, full to over the limit already. 

Mimi the animal rescuer (to differentiate from Mimi the kitten) took the little one to Planned Pethood and she was adopted within a couple days to a family excited about how fun and frisky she was.  We missed her a lot, and so did Mimi and Guera miss their playmate, but then they started playing together and things have just gotten better with them.  They both strut around with their tails riding high, meaning they are happy.  Guera has taken to the human lovin' thing and comes to ask for petting and 'acarísias' in Spanish.  This little kittie was the best thing that could have happened to the other two, other than of course their being rescued and cared for so well from the beginning of their little lives.  They learned how to play.  Thanks to our temporary visitor who we never even named, because she has already positively affected the lives of others at the age of just 5 weeks!  I hope her new family is good to her.  This unexpected surprise at the house turned out to be a happy ending for all involved.

The house has been quite cat active lately. Maybe it's in the air. Maybe it's the asteroide. Who knows?  I won't bore you with details of Lorenza's little seizure, or Weasel's two day jaundice.  I just wish I hada more knowledge and possibly a veterinary doctor's certificate.