Archives

Remembering rain stories…

Muriel Susan

Susan, who still loves all creatures, and me

After the oh-so-hot, humid, smoky summer, the first rainfall

Baby Rafi and sue

Susan playing with Rafi, she also loved him

was a blessing. It watered the parched earth, delighted growing things, cleaned the air, and brought joy to our residents. I purposely walked without a hat to experience those precious drops running down my face. The years fell away. I felt like a naughty child.

While relishing the much-needed rain, I thought of other walks taken years ago in Los Angeles where droughts could last for years. It didn’t make sense to buy boots for the children. They were rarely needed. I’d just wrap plastic bags over their shoes and out we’d go to either walk or splash about in the water, and sometimes sail hand-made paper boats.

On one such walk with 4-year old Susan, who loves every creature that flies, walks, crawls or slithers, she was worried. Dozens of worms were out because of the rain.

Pink worm

Little pink worms

“The sidewalk must hurt their little pink bellies,” she fretted, as she gently picked each worm off the cement and placed it onto the soft grass of the parkway. I like thinking of that rainy day.

Which reminds me of the morning 3-year-old Susan woke up and

green bug

I can’t find my green buggie

was crying. Concerned, I ran to her room. It seems the night before, she’d carefully placed a green bug to sleep in her bedside table drawer. Of course, the bug was nowhere to be found. She was distraught. Tears flowed. Seeing her so upset tugged at my heart. I knew it was useless, but what to do? I found myself crawling on the floor with her ‘looking’ for her ‘green buggy’. Well, what would you have done? Finally, the child had to settle for a hug.

There was also the time her kindergarten teacher had a container full of crickets to feed to a lizard. Susan decided the crickets must be unhappy cooped up in a

Jiminy Cricket

A

little carton. She turned them loose. This resulted in absolute chaos. Children, terrified of the little creatures, screamed, ran around and jumped up and down on chairs and desks — that is — all except Susan, who delighted in having given the crickets freedom and loved seeing them going off in all directions. Then, those crickets had to be gathered when/if possible. Oh, dear. (I learned about this adventure through a complaint from Susan’s suffering teacher.)

Another day Susan came home from school, again in tears, because she

Cockroach

A family of roaches?

had found a ‘cute family’ of cockroaches to bring to her beloved mother. A ‘mean’ boy slapped them out of her hand and stomped on them.

‘It’s okay Susie,’ I said hearing her tale of woe, ‘Perhaps they’re alright and he just took them to HIS mother.’ I doubt I ever told Susan how relieved I was those little critters hadn’t made it to our home.

Talking about bugs, once on the way to school ((Kindergarten again) Susan

Snail

Snails all over her coat

picked up every snail she saw. They, too, come out when it rains. She arrived at school with her pockets full of snails, and snails crawling all over her coat. Her poor teacher gave her an empty shoe box, and all the snails were saved and brought home to lucky me. I wasn’t that thrilled with this gift, we had a garden, but what can you say to a child who treasures every creature.

Enough rain stories. Stay well and enjoy each day.

Advertisements

The Most Beautiful Cat in the World

Naturally I was looking for something else this week and what did I find?  A picture of the real SHATZI, ‘the most beautiful cat in the world’. I could not resist showing him to you here. If you didn’t get to read about him in 2013, I know you will fall in love with Shatzi now, as my friend Hans did some years ago.

It’s holiday time and visitors are coming and I’m busy but still I want to wish everyone a fabulous Christmas and Hanukah — may 2017 be kind to us all.

scan-2

SHATZI, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CAT IN THE WORLD

 

Had lunch with my friend Judy yesterday. She’s a cat person. She offers me snippets about the mischief her growing kittens get into.

Judy's mischief-makers playing innocent.

Judy’s mischief-makers playing innocent.

I get a kick out of it, especially since I have none of the responsibility. When her two felines were very little, Judy says they were called “Blur” and “Smudge” because they moved so quickly, that was all you could see of them. Now, they enjoy getting into the recycling and shopping bags, but as cat lovers will, Judy smiles while relating their latest antics.

ReadTheList

“Are you SURE it says CAT FOOD?”

My friend Hans was a cat person too. According to him, his last cat was no ordinary cat, but “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”. Hans wrote and called me regularly, so I got to follow the adventures and misadventures of Hans and his cat, Schatzi, which means “darling” in Vienna.

The pretty puss, for some reason, was homeless and showed up at Hans’s son’s house. His son already had a cat, “Kiwi”, a wife, and two little children, so Hans, who resisted for a week or so, finally told me he had to give in because “Schatzi the Beautiful” was just too lovely to be turned away. He decided that having a cat again so late in life was not absolutely and totally insane.

Truth be told, Hans never met a cat he didn’t like. On his visits to Vancouver, we would walk most mornings. Each time, every kitten we met received special attention — it was a given. I grew accustomed to standing patiently by as Hans pulled out his pocket-chain to dangle before little whiskered feline faces. They found that chain irresistible, which was probably why Hans carried it.

Hans fell head-over-heels in love with Schatzi, “the most beautiful cat in the world”, and I can attest to Schatzi’s beauty. Hans sent me a photograph to keep on my desk. He had a sleek white body accented by varied shades of brown on his ears and face; a distinctive off-centered white triangle sat on his aristocratic nose; myriad tones of brown covered his tail and legs, while he sported definite white booties of different lengths.

Not Schatzi, but  a Himalayan too

Not Schatzi, but a Himalayan too

So it happened that after some years of being cat-less, Hans became cat-more. His life changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined. His calls and letters were a record of the ups-and-downs of what was obviously a tumultuous love affair. One early morning phone call from a distraught Hans advised me he was sure someone had kidnapped his beautiful cat.

“Why else,” he asked, “Would Schatzi not have come home last night?”

This was followed by a second frantic call the next morning. Hans was convinced someone had taken Schatzi. For the three days the felonious feline was on the loose, Hans was beside himself with concern. Finally, after Schatzi had apparently tired of meandering through the Hollywood Hills, the cat came back.

That was not the end of it. Schatzi was disciplined. He was placed under “house-arrest” for three whole days, which Hans felt was fitting in order to teach him a lesson. Schatzi must have learned which side his tuna was buttered on, because this daring escapade did not reoccur.

Letters reported more royal imprisonments, multiple visits to the hospital emergency ward, plus many pleasant hours with Schatzi happily ensconced on Hans’ lap as they watched soccer games together. The first emergency occurred when Hans, who had suffered several strokes and no longer had the manual dexterity he used to, opened his hand while opening a can of cat food. That bloody episode necessitated the first visit to the hospital. The hand was sewn up. This event was later repeated, but was reported to me somewhat sheepishly with an addendum of “Never-mind, it’s worth it!”

These mishaps didn’t make Hans regret his decision to adopt “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”. On the contrary, he seemed even more smitten than ever. He letters became glowing reports of adjustments made on both sides, of growing affection, intimacy and satisfaction with the relationship.

Now that both Hans and Schatzi are gone, they both remain tucked away in a corner of my heart and I remember them with pleasure — oh, and yes, I agree that Schatzi was indeed “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”.

The Little Cat Who Thought He Was A Dog — A BIG Dog

Muriel from BlogDaughter Susan never met an animal she didn’t love. Her pets have included snakes, lizards, birds, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, horses, a donkey, plus…. I’ve probably missed a few. I learned to live with some of these when she was a child even though her beloved creatures were at times pretty weird.
After Susan grew up and was sharing a house, she had a large Alaskan Malamute named Kodi. Kodi intimidated me. He was BIG! However, he didn’t seem to intimidate the little white kitten Susan brought home from the SPCA one day. Maybe the 10-week old little thing didn’t know he was supposed to be afraid of dogs. But then, he was an innocent. Susan named him Myshkin, after the character in Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot”. She must have immediately recognized that part of his nature.

Little Myshkin with a toy

Little Myshkin with a toy

Kodi, big as he was, spent his nights sleeping on the sofa. Myshkin, perhaps missing his family, climbed up onto Kodi’s back and slept there too. Was it the warmth of Kodi’s big body? Was it the sound of Kodi’s heartbeat? I have no idea, but it was amusing to see that little bundle of white fur climb up onto the large dog, dig around to make his bed more comfortable, and then curl up, purring contentedly, for the night.

Myshkin and Kodi, pals

Myshkin and Kodi, pals

Myshkin was pretty and a charmer. He was as white as can be, with one blue and one green eye, a beautiful little pink nose, pink ears and small pink paws — and a penchant for getting into mischief. Each time this happened, perhaps by knocking over a flower pot on a window sill or exploring a space too narrow for any creature to fit into, Kodi would announce it loudly.

Myshkin in warpaint. He always managed to get into mischief

Myshkin in warpaint. He always managed to get into mischief

“It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me!” he seemed to be telling us. Kodi also tried to teach Myshkin manners by gently taking the kitten’s head into his mouth when the little one misbehaved, which was often enough. However, Kodi was unusually patient with his little friend….
Where you found one, you would find the other. If at first it looked strange to the neighbours to see little Myshkin trotting behind Susan and Kodi on their regular neighbourhood jaunts, folks soon became accustomed to seeing the trio walking by. On the way, Kodi had some stops to make at favorite shops where he received treats. Myshkin would just sit quietly beside him until Kodi got his due. Don’t we do that for friends?

In return, Kodi was protective of little Myshkin. Any dog that threatened his small companion was in for a surprise standoff.

“No one messes with my pal,” his growl seemed to say in no uncertain terms. The bond grew stronger.

Myshkin's first snow experience

Myshkin’s first snow experience

As parents age, relationships with offspring often reverse. So it happened with Kodi and Myshkin. When Kodi was stricken with cancer at the end of his life, Myshkin seemed to instinctively know.
Since Kodi was too weak to walk, Susan, with help from her roommate, would carry him out to the lawn, where he could sit on a pad. At least he could be outdoors and Myshkin was never far from Kodi’s side. That seemed natural enough, after all they were pals.
But one day Susan witnessed something extraordinary. A large black dog approached to sniff at Kodi — no owner in sight. In the past, Myshkin would count on Kodi to protect him from strange dogs. This time, however, the little cat gathered his courage, hair raised, growling as ferociously as he could. He stood up to block the strange dog with his own little body every which way that dog tried to bypass him.

He risked his own life to protect his helpless friend! The interloper gave up and left. Is there anything else to say?

Coming Home to Roost

Muriel from BlogIt may not have been legal. But I couldn’t resist, my children loved animals and still do.

Here's young Susan with our dog, Buttons, who moved in to live with us, and one of her doves.

Here’s young Susan with our dog, Buttons, who moved in to live with us, and one of her doves.

I met someone who had chickens and arranged to get some. Did I tell my neighbours? Well, no….

Dorothy could not see the chicken coop from her yard

Dorothy could not see the chicken coop from her yard

Dorothy and Orrin lived next door. They could not see the area where we put the chicken coop. Dorothy heard chickens and told Orrin. He suggested she was losing it. The next morning, she heard them again. Quietly she crept out of bed, walked around the corner in nightgown, robe and slippers, stole into our yard and confirmed it.

"The Kauffmanns DO have chickens!

“The Kauffmanns DO have chickens!

“I’m not crazy Orrin! The Kauffmanns DO have chickens,” she was delighted to  have to wake him up to tell him. Nor did they bother her, she loved the sound — Dorothy had been raised on a farm.

Chickens aren’t that noisy without a rooster, but if Dorothy heard them, others would too. What to do? The neighbours received occasional visits from me with an offering of a fresh, warm egg enclosed in my hands. A shameless bribe? Perhaps, but — no one reported us.

Fresh warm egg in hand, I'd shamelessly bribe the neighbours

Fresh warm egg in hand, I’d shamelessly bribe the neighbours

We had a six-foot high chain-link fence installed to enclose the chickens, which you would think sufficient.

One athletic chicken had wanderlust

One athletic chicken had wanderlust

Still, one of them was super athletic and had wanderlust. It would climb onto the roof of the coop, jump over the fence and out into the street to freedom.

Any animal turning up in our neighbourhood ended up at the Kauffmann’s. Either it was ours to begin with, or we would take it in — our neighbours knew that. Thus, when our errant chicken ended up having lunch across the street in a neighbour’s back garden, they dialed our number. The children were at school, we adults at work, except for my French husband’s elderly aunt, Germaine, who was visiting from Paris. Germaine spoke no English. How they managed to convey to her that one of our chickens was destroying their flowers remains a mystery.

Courageously, Germaine trapsed over there and attempted to catch the chicken, which was having too much fun to want to be caught. It ran away again and again until it  ended up on the side of the neighbours’ house facing our street. Notre tante was exhausted. What to do? Perhaps if she went back with a large tablecloth, she might throw it over the creature and catch it that way.

Another neighbour, seeing Germaine through her window, decided the elderly woman had gone bonkers. Picture it. This neighbour, too far away to spot the chicken, could only see poor Germaine running around on someone else’s property waving a tablecloth in the air. She thought that rather strange. Still, it worked. Our aunt caught the chicken! She definitely needed and deserved a nap after her exertions that day. She slept like a baby.

Afterwards, Aunt Germaine slept like a baby

Afterwards, Aunt Germaine slept like a baby

Nonetheless, that was nothing compared to what happened when my dad visited from Montreal.dark and stormy night

“It was a dark and stormy night,” the heavens opened and it poured – hard. Through the noisy rainstorm I heard terrified screeching and scuffling and so braved the elements to investigate. My dad, always a man of action, followed right behind me.

I had never seen a live raccoon before. Certainly not in Los Angeles. It was beautiful. The animal stood its ground, one of my chickens firmly clenched between its teeth. I was mesmerized, unable to move. But not my dad. He grabbed a broom, pushed me aside and shouted: “Outta da vay. Outta da vay!”

I had never seen a live raccoon before

I had never seen a live raccoon before

Then, running toward the startled creature: “Let go my chicken, you bloody bestid!!!” (All in his Lithuanian accent.) He continued to hurl the broom and invectives at the poor raccoon. (Dad knew more curse words than I ever imagined!) No match for dad’s onslaught, the animal dropped the chicken, rapidly scaled the six-foot fence and fled off into the night.

The frightened chickens scattered. Rain running down my face, clothes drenched, I worked at getting my meandering darlings to locked-up safety. One was missing. “Here chick, chick,” I called, tossing food about trying to tempt her back. Hair matted, summer dress clinging, I finally gave up and retreated into the house.

Soaked, I finally retreated into the house

Soaked, I finally retreated into the house

Later loud chicken noises convinced me the missing bird had been the raccoon’s dinner after all. Oh, well….

As can happen in L.A., the next morning the sun shone brilliantly as we breakfasted. “Hey, isn’t that our

The next morning, the sun shone brilliantly

The next morning, the sun shone brilliantly

chicken coming down the hill?” Rafi asked, staring out the window, cereal spoon half-way to his mouth.

Indeed. Exhausted by its adventure, feathers and skin torn from its back, there was the weary chicken, painfully, slowly walking down the middle of the road. The children ran out to scoop it up gently in their arms. Our garage was quickly converted into a chicken hospital where the creature received special attention and care. The feathers never grew back, but that chicken (like my scarf, see Dec/13) was not yet ready to leave us and came home to roost!

We could not bear to eat our hens

We could not bear to eat our hens

P.S: And what happened to the chickens in the end. I think Susan, who was in charge of cleaning the chicken coop, woke up in tears one night. Chickens have lice. Who knew? Lice were crawling down her arms. We could not bear to eat our hens, so we gave them  away to someone who didn’t mind doing so.

The Most Beautiful Cat in the World

Had lunch with my friend Judy yesterday. She’s a cat person. She offers me snippets about the mischief her growing kittens get into.

Judy's mischief-makers playing innocent.

Judy’s mischief-makers playing innocent.

I get a kick out of it, especially since I have none of the responsibility. When her two felines were very little, Judy says they were called “Blur” and “Smudge” because they moved so quickly, that was all you could see of them. Now, they enjoy getting into the recycling and shopping bags, but as cat lovers will, Judy smiles while relating their latest antics.

ReadTheList

“Are you SURE it says CAT FOOD?”

My friend Hans was a cat person too. According to him, his last cat was no ordinary cat, but “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”. Hans wrote and called me regularly, so I got to follow the adventures and misadventures of Hans and his cat, Schatzi, which means “darling” in Vienna.

The pretty puss, for some reason, was homeless and showed up at Hans’s son’s house. His son already had a cat, “Kiwi”, a wife, and two little children, so Hans, who resisted for a week or so, finally told me he had to give in because “Schatzi the Beautiful” was just too lovely to be turned away. He decided that having a cat again so late in life was not absolutely and totally insane.

Truth be told, Hans never met a cat he didn’t like. On his visits to Vancouver, we would walk most mornings. Each time, every kitten we met received special attention — it was a given. I grew accustomed to standing patiently by as Hans pulled out his pocket-chain to dangle before little whiskered feline faces. They found that chain irresistible, which was probably why Hans carried it.

Hans fell head-over-heels in love with Schatzi, “the most beautiful cat in the world”, and I can attest to Schatzi’s beauty. Hans sent me a photograph to keep on my desk. He had a sleek white body accented by varied shades of brown on his ears and face; a distinctive off-centered white triangle sat on his aristocratic nose; myriad tones of brown covered his tail and legs, while he sported definite white booties of different lengths.

Not Schatzi, but  a Himalayan too

Not Schatzi, but a Himalayan too

So it happened that after some years of being cat-less, Hans became cat-more. His life changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined. His calls and letters were a record of the ups-and-downs of what was obviously a tumultuous love affair. One early morning phone call from a distraught Hans advised me he was sure someone had kidnapped his beautiful cat.

“Why else,” he asked, “Would Schatzi not have come home last night?”

This was followed by a second frantic call the next morning. Hans was convinced someone had taken Schatzi. For the three days the felonious feline was on the loose, Hans was beside himself with concern. Finally, after Schatzi had apparently tired of meandering through the Hollywood Hills, the cat came back.
That was not the end of it. Schatzi was disciplined. He was placed under “house-arrest” for three whole days, which Hans felt was fitting in order to teach him a lesson. Schatzi must have learned which side his tuna was buttered on, because this daring escapade did not reoccur.

Letters reported more royal imprisonments, multiple visits to the hospital emergency ward, plus many pleasant hours with Schatzi happily ensconced on Hans’ lap as they watched soccer games together. The first emergency occurred when Hans, who had suffered several strokes and no longer had the manual dexterity he used to, opened his hand while opening a can of cat food. That bloody episode necessitated the first visit to the hospital. The hand was sewn up. This event was later repeated, but was reported to me somewhat sheepishly with an addendum of “Never-mind, it’s worth it!”

These mishaps didn’t make Hans regret his decision to adopt “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”. On the contrary, he seemed even more smitten than ever. He letters became glowing reports of adjustments made on both sides, of growing affection, intimacy and satisfaction with the relationship.

Now that both Hans and Schatzi are gone, they both remain tucked away in a corner of my heart and I remember them with pleasure — oh, and yes, I agree that Schatzi was indeed “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”.

Beware of Dog Owners

mom-scolding-1What is it about so many dog owners that makes them so dense? Is there a condition they are vulnerable to that I am not aware of? Do they not realize that by being inconsiderate and behaving badly they are making things difficult for others —  thoughtful dog owners as well? If you have some answers, please enlighten me.

We allow pets in our condominium. I voted for it myself when the issue was raised. I’ve owned dogs. I understand how important animals can be in people’s lives. The Strata established a few very simple rules that make sense. Pets are to be leashed in common areas. Owners are also expected to clean up after their pets. Is that unreasonable? Is it so difficult?

I have a vestibular disorder. It affects my balance, which is damaged, and I deal with dizziness more often than I like. I do what I can to fight it, but there are times I am insecure and unstable. At those times especially, dogs jumping around my ankles are scary. It’s not because I am afraid of dogs, but because I don’t trust my own ability to stay upright.

Why is it dog owners always say “Oh, he’s alright.” referring to their unleashed dog when their yapping little darling is jumping around my feet. They seem to believe “their” pet should be exempt, that these rules are only there for dogs which are not “alright”. I’m the one who is not alright!!

Some inconsiderate dog owners have also allowed their dogs to relieve themselves on our back lawn, which has no access from the street, so the culprits must live in the building. This has led to complaints from our caretaker and other neighbors. I don’t blame them.

I was on strata council. Residents in the back said there were so many flies around the dog poop, they could not use their outdoor patios. We knew who was responsible, she lived on the first floor and had a dog, but we didn’t feel we could fine her without someone actually “seeing” her in action.

We put several notices in our minutes pleading with dog owners to please pick up after their animals. We hoped she would see them. If she did, she ignored them. I was the one responsible for her finally being fined $25 when, from my balcony, I saw her let her dog go out and make no move to clean up after him. I called down to her that I would report her infraction. Have you ever noticed that when people behave improperly, they are the ones who get angry? She has not talked to me since.

I have a dear friend who is terrified of dogs. She was raised in China during the Cultural Revolution and had been taught dogs are dangerous, they bite and give people diseases. Although she now understands it is not necessarily true, having had no previous contact with animals, the fear remains. I’ve seen her cross the street to avoid contact with an unleashed dog. It does no good when someone, whose dog is not on a leash, approaches her on the street and invariably says “Oh, he’s okay”.

My friend is not comfortable with your dog no matter how good your dog is. She is tired of hearing the same thing again and again. Dogs are supposed to be leashed on the streets in our city. Is yours? Why don’t people who walk their dogs without leashes get fined? If that law were enforced, perhaps our property taxes could be lowered.

Another friend who was bitten by a dog when she was a child is still terrified when she sees an unleashed dog. Is that so hard to comprehend? Please, when you walk your dog, be considerate. You don’t know what other peoples’ feelings or problems are. If you do the right thing, there should be no problem. How about it?

Perhaps I’m particularly cranky this morning, I’m fighting my way out of a lousy dizziness siege and just pushing myself to be brave and take short walks on my own outdoors. My balance is more precarious right now. The other day a huge dog was allowed out on its own just around the corner from where I live as I was walking by. I stopped dead in my tracks as the friendly, large animal approached, nuzzled and licked me, tail wagging. I was afraid to move and told the owner, standing at her door barefoot, that I was feeling vulnerable because I was dealing with a balance issue and would she please call her dog back. Should it have been necessary?

Dog owners, your pet is adorable, it’s cute, it does tricks and is brilliant and you love it. But, here’s a shocker. Not everyone else loves your dog. So, for the safety of your pet and others, do have it on leash everywhere you are required to. Also, pick up after your pet, no one else should ever have to. Be considerate and I, for one, will be grateful.