Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two Maine Coon Cats--Mr. Dominant

Sky and Summer came to me as a “bonded pair” and like the typical bonded pair of cats, they have had their moments of beating up on each other, chasing each other around, hissing and growling. However, it was always obvious that Summer was the dominant one.
This is a photo of Mr. Dominant being dominant. Sky will get cozy on the chair and be settled in for the day. Mr. Dominant will come along and look for awhile and then decide he wants that chair. That there is another chair on the other side of the table, a chair that is exactly like this one, means nothing to him. He wants *this* chair. So he will jump up on the chair, stomp around in the tiny space not occupied by Sky and then carefully lie down in the tiny space and on top of Sky. He then just stays there until Sky gives up and moves. He then gets himself cozy and stays for the day. It works every time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Maine Coon Cats

These two guys have lived with me for nearly 2 ½ years now. I could not have cats while I was married as my husband was allergic to them and outside cats up here become coyote food very quickly. Then, by June 2006, the husband was successfully re-homed and I could have a cat.
My sister was staying with me at the time and it was she who reminded me I could have a cat now. That was on a Sunday and I wanted to do it right away so I called the local animal shelter and verified that they were open on Sundays. We had lunch, went to Petco to get cat stuff and then off to the shelter. I had decided that I wanted a Maine Coon, not because I knew a lot about them but because I had read a mystery book years before in which the main character had a Maine Coon and it seemed a really cool cat. My sister, the family cat expert, felt that a Maine Coon would be a good choice for me as they are laid-back, easy going cats.
At the shelter, we went into the very full cat room and started to look. There were so many good cats there and lots of them were labeled as Maine Coons although certainly some were large domestic long-hairs. In the back of the room, where the light was not so good, there were two Maine Coons together in a cage. There were my cats, waiting for me. We just looked at each other and knew. I pulled their paperwork from the cage and we went back out front to wait in line for processing. While waiting, I read that these two were males, brothers, turned in because the owner was moving, had come in badly matted and overweight, and were 3 years old. The one with white was named Socks and the other was Tank. Tank was the smaller one and, for sure, those names were going to be changed. They had been in the shelter for two months, waiting for me to show up.
It turned out that the shelter was having a cat special month, in which adoptions were half price, so I got two for the cost of one. Finally, we were processed and headed home. At home, we opened the boxes and waited on them to emerge. And that is when we discovered that “Socks” was horribly matted, his rear covered with dingleberries, and that he was obese. “Tank” had some mats, but far less, and he also was way overweight.
They disappeared under the bed, standard procedure for cats in new places, but came out for dinner. The next morning, we called and found a groomer who got us in that day. She had to shave Socks, giving him a lion cut, but was able to groom out Tank. Both also had baths which did not go over well. Socks enjoyed his shave, purring loudly and looking happy.
The next morning I got up, discovered that one window had the screen knocked off and that I was missing a cat. I grabbed a can of tuna and headed out to find Tank heading up the hill back towards the house. Who knows how long he had been out and where he went. Later that night, I was in bed, when my sister came flying out of her room & tore outside to grab Tank, who had knocked a screen off another window and was heading out .She had heard the screen hitting the ground. The next morning, we pulled screens and took them to a window/screen place to get pet screens, which are heavier, and then called my handyman to come put them in place. Joe got our new screens put up with extra hardware to hold them in place better and there have been no further cat escapes.
So within the first week, the bargain cats had cost grooming fees, complete new screens for all the windows and Joe’s pay to put them up more securely. Sounds normal! Later, I had Joe and my other handyman, Mike, build a fully enclosed cat patio with a cat door in the window. That entailed pouring concrete, building a fence from ground to patio roof, and fixing up a cat door in the window. The cats and I all love the cat patio.
We had a visit to the vet for a general health check and to talk about a diet for Socks who was obese enough to go Insulin Resistant any day. He weighed in at 23 pounds and really needed to get down to around 16-18 lbs. Tank was about 18 lbs and needed to go down to 14 or so. Socks got Purina Diabetics Management canned food for about 9 months to get his weight down. The weight came off slowly, which was the preferred method, but surely. Tank’s weight also came down with careful feeding.
And within the first week, Socks became Summer Clouds and Tank became Sky Dancer. Summer and Sky have been wonderful companions for me and we have a great thing going which will be future stories.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Car

The bumper sticker says it all.
This car undergoing a scientific dirt test"

The joys of dirt roads...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who Says There is No Fall Color in Southern California

These are the two liquidambar trees at one of my neighbor’s (neighbor, as in “they are on the same road but about 1.5 mile down that road from me.”). They really stand out against the backdrop of the native oak trees along the ravine on the edge of their place. The liquidambar is one of our truly reliable fall color trees, even in lower elevations. They come in many colors, from yellow to golden to shades of red and a few that are maroon. Almost all the other trees that turn color here do so in shades of yellows and golds. Right now the native sycamores are turning their particular shade of brownish—golden—yellow. The Texas Umbrella trees which are very popular in the Hemet area are doing a glorious bright yellow now. The cottonwoods are just starting to show some turning. In town, the Modesto Ash are going deep yellow. My own Gingko tree is a lovely golden yellow now. Our falls may not be as spectacular as some places, but we do very well indeed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cool Beans

I love that phrase—Cool Beans—and I get the giggles every time I hear that. It’s not that it is such a funny phrase on its own; nope, it is that I have a horse named Beans, and he is cool.
Beans does have an actual registered name, but he has been Beans (yes, I used those two words in a row on purpose) nearly since birth. He was scarcely 12 hours old when that name became his. But he was lucky to have any name at all as he nearly died at birth.
It was 1988 and we were waiting for the foals to arrive. The mare who was second due had foaled. The mare who was first to foal was showing no signs of impending birth. This dark brown mare was out of Dave’s favorite mare. She was bred to our handsome bay stallion. Dave was expecting a bay filly. Finally, nearly 6 weeks overdue, she laid down and gave birth to a chestnut colt. Dave had only a short time to be disappointed as it was quickly apparent that this little guy was in trouble. He was breathing but that was all he was doing. Well, that and a heart rate so elevated that I could not count the beats. I rushed up to the house to call our vet while Dave remained in the stall. When I got back about 15 minutes later to report the vet was on his way, I was surprised to see Dave up on his feet, holding the colt & walking/dragging him around the stall. Dave said that the colt had given up so Dave started moving him and the colt started to try to live again.
By the time the vet arrived, the colt was at least into sternal recumbrancy instead of flat on his side. He did have a nursing reflex, so we picked him up and held him in position at the mare’s udder so he could nurse. We also milked her out into a bottle to supplement him. The vet did his thing and left. Dave went off to bed and I spent the night picking up the colt every hour to nurse and then laying him back down.
In the morning the colt could stand on his own and nurse with only some light support holding him in place. I was still laying him down as nature told him to stay on his feet since he could not get up. I fed the other horses and had my own breakfast. Dave, upon awakening, asked “How is Beanyard this morning?” Later, I get back to the barn to find Dave sitting in the stall, holding Beanyard in his lap; guess he got over his disappointment at a chestnut colt. So Beans he became.
By evening, he was getting up and nursing on his own and lying back down on his own also. He was still obviously dysmature (carried to term, but essentially premature) with his general weakness and lack of normal foal behaviors. This was the one the vet said that his being so late was “nature’s effort to get him fully baked.” Hmmm—baked beans.
For the first five days of life, he had no face expression or personality. He just ate and slept. But on day 6, wowsa!—a fully baked colt had finally arrived. I knew this when he reared on me when I went into the pen. And he had evil on his face too. While I did have to explain to him that rearing on humans was unacceptable, I was laughing with joy to see him acting like a normal colt. As he grew he certainly developed lots of personality, but those are future stories.
I get the giggles when ever any sort of beans are mentioned—green beans, string beans, kidney beans, white beans, soy beans, chili beans, Mr. Beans, The Bean. I am, no doubt, quite hopeless.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday morning, shortly after 4:30 am and I am not quite asleep but not quite awake when there is ^noise^. The ^noise^ increases and I am more awake and aware that it is an earthquake. Things start shaking some, then some more, then a good sharp jolt followed by lessening shaking. I make a mental note to check the USGS website later and see if this was what I think it was—a small quake close by.
Later, shortly after 9:30 am, I am about to close down the computer as I have an appointment and need to go do the daily first aid on one horse. Then, ^noise^, followed by some minor shaking and one short sharp jolt and that quake is done. Oh yeah, go to the USGS site, I am now reminded.
The first quake was 3.8 and about 6 miles away to the south. The second quake was also located there. Later, talking with a friend who is in Hemet, she said that the second quake felt stronger to her then the first. She was at home for the first one, on higher ground to the east of Hemet, and in Hemet proper for the second one, so the perception of the second one being stronger may have been from the different types of ground she was on.
Back last spring, there was a fair size quake based in San Diego County someplace. I was at my bookstore talking on the phone with my dad who lives in Borrego Springs, in the desert. First I heard ^noise^ then the shaking and I said there was an earthquake happening. About 10 seconds later, my dad felt it too.
We can enjoy the small ones while waiting for the big one to finally happen.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Welcome to Sage; you won’t find it on most maps, but we are perched up here on the flank of Red Mountain at 3000’ elevation, SE of Hemet & NE of Temecula (two towns you can find on the maps). It is 14 miles to the south edge of Hemet and the business I own, Curt’s Books. Temecula is further in another direction but has such attractions as Trader Joe’s and Costco.
I’ve been up here since May 1983, which makes me one of the old-timers here. My handyman, Joe, has been here since the late 1970’s. There will be more about him in future posts, and also the story of how I came to be here
I have lots of stories about my life here and the beasties who have shared with me. Future posts will be telling those stories as well as musings and whatever comes to my keyboard. There are horse stories, dog stories, cat stories and much more. I hope you will join the journey; comments are always welcome. I wish I could promise an entry a day, but if I have writer’s block, I have it and will have to wait until unblocked. Time is also a definite factor also and some days I just don’t have time to even log onto the computer.
Well, nice introduction, now I have to go write some stories.