Jun. 16th, 2012 11:43 pm
pergamond: ([Shrek] Puss-in-boots // how can you res)

Meet Bonita and Manchas. 'Bonita' means 'pretty' in Spanish and 'manchas' means spots. Manchas is the fish with black… yes, you guessed it. 

How did I end up with two goldfish with Spanish names?

Well, I'd acquired them from a Chinese friend in my Japanese class. Obviously. 

Finding herself leaving Japan in the switch from postdoc to faculty, my friend had been unsure what to do with her fish. Taking a cat and dog on an aeroplane was one thing but…. had people even written import regulations for fish? Live ones?

Despite the obvious problem (pictured in the lower pane above), I had volunteered for adoption services. Regardless of my best efforts, I had failed to lure birds to my ninth floor apartment and thought that the fish might provide something in the way of feline entertainment. How long this would last depended partially on the strength of the tank lid.

My friend came over with the tank and water filter, I watched a youtube video on how to clean a fish tank and rested a book on European history on the lid. The lid promptly buckled. I swapped the book for one on American history. 

This was a few weeks ago and I still have two fish. This means that:

(a) my cat has not eaten them.

(b) I narrowly avoided killing them through the temptation to dump them in a tea pot of tap water while I cleaned the tank. It's a good job I tweet my important intentions. 

Tallis hangs out by the tank from time to time during the day. She's never attempted to remove the lid, either because the watery contents filled her with horror or because I placed a large stuffed cow on top of the history book. She does occasionally bat the tank with one paw when she feels there isn't enough action. The fish are unmoved. Often literally.

The fish themselves are surprisingly interactive. I never actually thought fish acknowledged (in a distinguishable manner) the world outside their tank. Once the glass was clean, I experimentally placed a photograph of the galaxy by one wall. It was an attempt at a Total Perspective Vortex but it apparently just confirmed was great fish they really were.

Each morning when I appear, the fish come to the front of the tank and glare at me. You wouldn't think fish were capable of demanding breakfast, but apparently there is no limit to what can bully in my household.

I am going to take my revenge by eating my seafood dinner on the sofa beside their tank. 

pergamond: ([Random] kitten // rar)

I looked down at my feet in time to see my cat's teeth almost pop out of her jaw through her impassioned screech. I knew the sources of her distress:

We were currently experiencing a magnitude 6.0 earthquake.

And she was being pursued by a robotic vacuum cleaner. 

"Have you seen that thing? Is it a robotic cat? Why does it bump into walls? LOOK! ITS BUMPING HAS MADE THE WHOLE BUILDING ROCK! HOW COULD YOU HAVE LET IT IN HERE?"

Up until that evening, I had been using a cordless stick vacuum cleaner I had bought second hand. That particular device had many good points; it was light and easy to maneuver, it didn't take up much space in my apartment and it had a built-in dust buster than was great for cleaning up cat litter. What is truly failed on was carpet.

The study area of my apartment is almost entirely covered by a thick rug I bought from Ikea in Canada. This is the location where Tallis uses her scratch pad and rolls around in a box filled with cat nip. It is also where I normally eat dinner while watching an episode of 'Naruto'. The stick vacuum can take this area from 'major biohazard' to 'probably won't kill you if you leave quickly'. I can't honestly say I've ever found this totally satisfactory, although there are some weeks where the thought I might not make it through the month acts as a ray of hope. 

Buying a new vacuum cleaner was therefore on my list. However, the choice wasn't obvious since the machine had to be able to clear a carpet but not be so bulky that storing would be a problem. After deep consideration of many models, I went for the most logical compromise:

Screw the practicalities and get something amusing. 

An amazon review then made the choice of a Roomba iRobot cleaner obvious: "Smart technology, no work for me, drives the dog nuts - what's not to like?!

It sounded perfect

I confess, I was skeptical as to its real cleaning powers. What I actually required (apart from a good laugh at my cat's expense) was a machine with better suction than my stick vacuum. It seemed to me that the amount of oomph you could get from a Roomba's spinny centripetal motion was never going to rival a large upright cylinder with room for all kinds of exciting upward air currents. 

Yet, amazingly enough, it does the job. 

OK, its cleaning random walk is sometimes a little too random. Rather like me, it needs to be boxed into an area for maximum efficiency to ensure it doesn't wander off into the kitchen and leave patches unfinished. Sometimes it loses the location of its docking station. Sometimes this is because I accidentally locked it in the bedroom. Once it found its way under a chair but then couldn't escape. It kept devotedly cleaning the same purple square of carpet until I came and rescued it. 

It is a little too loud for comfortable background noise. Ideally, I'd turn it on and then leave the apartment but I'm reluctant to do this until I'm certain it won't have a show down with the cat.  

Its instruction manual is in English which I feel disproportionately grateful for after the difficulty with buying a microwave. I have made full use of this good fortune by storing the manuals safely on my bookcase and then just hitting the vacuum's large central button labelled 'start'. Ideally, I'd move onto the more advanced options, but it's hard to summon up the necessary effort when you can get so much for so little.

Now my carpet is clean and the cat is exhausted. It's really one big win all round. 


In other news, please excuse my lack of updates… teaching is eating me in one mega goat gulp. 


Bath time

Apr. 11th, 2012 08:35 am
pergamond: ([Random] Kitten rar!)


Baths used to be more relaxing.

I lay in the bubble laden water and watched the source of my stress step carefully along the damp edge of the tub. This had been the first time since I had brought Tallis to Japan that I had taken a bath[*], a fact I hadn't appreciated until the panic stricken cat call reached my ears.


I had ignored the cry which had resulted in a furry form leaping precariously onto the bath's ledge. Being a cat, Tallis' balance is naturally excellent. Excellent… but not perfect. Her paws slipped dangerously as she made her way towards the taps. I sighed and reviewed my options. An additional complication in this situation was that I was holding a large book out of the water.

(Yes… the ideal relaxing evening… a soak in hot water while reading my novel. Currently, it was more stressful than the battle I was reading about.)

If Tallis would fall in the tub, I would doubtless have to sacrifice my tome to a watery grave and fish her out. While I doubt she would drown, I strongly suspected the water would run red. From my blood. This was not part of the evening I had planned. I therefore settled for holding the book (a meaty hardback) in one hand and encouraging Tallis to jump down (in the right direction) with the other. This success lasted all of two minutes before she was back up.

You're still alive! Maybe it's not so bad and …. SO MUCH WATER! WHHHYYYY??"

She was no more impressed the second time. Or the third. In the end, she jumped onto the floor and I covered her with a gobbet of bubbles. The indignity sent her fleeing from the room. However, the peace was shattered, not least because I couldn't rule out the possibility of a flying feline leap into the tub from a spot outside my sight. NOT RELAXING.

Since attempting to do the washing up while the bath was running had resulted in somewhat luke warm water, I abandoned the venture. Next time when I want to chill out, I'll just go and stand outside in a gale. MUCH more relaxing.


[*] I hasten to add my apartment has a shower

pergamond: ([PoT] Fuji // pretty & wiped)


Trouble with getting out of bed in the mornings is hardly an unusual complaint. The difference is that while most people don't want to leave the warmth of their covers, I physically couldn't. Carefully, I attempted to extract the leg that was bunched up by my chest. The knee emerged, but the shin was still trapped under my second leg. This limb was stretched out, but prevented from moving away from the wall by the stone-like object positioned perfectly centrally on the blankets.

My cat had found her revenge.

In the end, I tipped forward and fell ungraciously onto the floor. Tallis deigned to open one large yellow-green eye and yawned.

"Do you know how uncomfortable I am?" I demanded. "All my muscles are scrunched up!"

This didn't receive any form of verbal reply but somehow the image of the cat carrier was projected into my brain.

You would think one half-decent kick would shift Tallis along to a more acceptable position but somehow her body mass seems to increase by a factor of 100 when she goes into ball-mode. Remember the Pixar movie, 'The Incredibles' where their youngest son, Jack-Jack turns himself into a canon ball so the villain can't fly away with him? Yeah. Tallis recalls that too.

Perhaps to fully appreciate this problem, I should explain about my bed. When we lived in Canada, I had a Queen sized frame and mattress. To be honest, this was too large (or so I thought at the time) for what was normally just me and a cat. I had opted for that size to match the bedding I had bought while living in a furnished rental in New York. That apartment had a Queen bed, so when I came to buy my own furnishings, I matched the dimensions and reused the sheets. Despite the fact I loved the mattress, I knew a Queen bed was never going to fit in a Japanese apartment. I'm pretty sure that if you put such a mattress in my bedroom, you wouldn't be able to open the door. Actually, you would not be able to have a door at all, since my bedroom door opens inwards. It would have to be unhinged and propped up against the bathroom preventing me from ever using the toilet.

So, it was sell the bed or lose the kidneys. I went with the former.

Since my furniture took three months to ship from Canada, buying a new bed was actually a pretty good move. After some research, I discovered I had three main choices for bed design:

(1) The normal western-style bed with a frame and mattress. This is very common in Japan and almost all of my friends sleep on such a bed.

(2) The traditional Japanese-style futon, which consists of a thick foam pad on a tatami mat floor.

(3) A hybrid option, whereby you have a bed frame with a solid tatami mat top surface on which you then lay down a futon.

My apartment does not have any tatami mats, being pseudo-wood flooring throughout. However, I was reluctant to buy a normal western bed. For a start, I might not find a mattress I liked as much as my old one, which would cause me to SULK each time I went to bed. Secondly, I was IN JAPAN! It was exciting, new and I wanted to integrate by sleeping on a futon!

… Even if no one else was.

I therefore went for option (3) and, after some careful measuring, purchased a 'semi-double' tatami mat bed. A semi-double is in-between a single and double bed in size, with a width of 124 cm (49 inches). It is often the size newly wed Japanese couples buy, before they can afford a double bed. This brings me to one obvious conclusion:

Cats take up more space than husbands.

Or maybe they are just harder to kick.

A Japanese futon is somewhat different from the Western product of the same name. For a start, the term 'futon' refers to both to the foam pad underneath you (the 'shiki futon') and the blanket on top (the 'kakebuton'). The Brits would call a kakebuton a 'duvet' and the Americans… well, I'm going to go with 'comforter' and you'll have to live with the fact it just isn't the same kakebuton fluffy cloud of awesome. The shiki futon is thinner than a Western futon and can be easily folded into three sections for storage. Futons are often sold as a set containing both parts.

An advantage of opting for the tatami mat bed over a straight futon, was that I could have drawers underneath the bed for extra storage. When my bed was delivered, the men assembled the frame but not the drawer set. When I asked why, I received a monologue in Japanese until I decided I would just go and buy a screwdriver. As any Ikea fan will not be surprised to learn, I had to assemble the drawers twice; the first attempt having a key early panel placed backwards.

As a final touch, I purchased a Japanese style pillow which is filled with beans rather than feathers. It's a slightly odd sensation to lie on but it's not uncomfortable. I quite like rolling around on it as a DIY scalp massage. I confess though, that when my feathery pillows arrived from Canada, I did switch them over and leave beany pillow as the optional extra.

So there we had it; one perfectly Japanese bed. Tallis tells me it is exceedingly comfortable. Perhaps I should take the hint and move to the couch.

pergamond: ([Random] Look kawaii)

Oddly enough, the most popular blog post I have ever written is this one; a list of 10 points on micro-braiding your hair. I'm therefore going to draw the bold conclusion (not remotely assisted by the news at present) that there are people out there in search of FACTS. Allow me to present the post I would like to have read before starting this process: 10 tips for moving abroad with your pet. For understandable reasons, this will be highly biased towards a move to Japan!

Pack in a carrier and off we go...! )

My final advice (which I refuse to put as point (11) for aesthetic reasons) is don't panic. If you start with plenty of time, this isn't a hard process and it's not that tough on your pet. Tallis had no trouble with the long plane journey to Tokyo and was her usual self within minutes of us arriving at home in Sapporo. My fears that this was all a ghastly and cruel act were unfounded... but I was assured this shouldn't stop me producing copious amounts of Tallis' favourite cat food.
pergamond: (Default)

The woman behind the desk at the 'Air Canada' check-in counter took my passport, glanced at the photo page and then down at my carry-on bag from which a pair of gleaming yellow-green eyes could be seen.

"Do you have any documentation for your cat?" she inquired.

I lifted a thick black folder and dropped it with a bang on the counter, where it dwarfed the small red booklet in her hands.

"... right." The woman hesitated before saying cautiously, "Is there a form that shows they're expecting you?"

I gathered from the singular choice of the word 'form' she wasn't after one of my three complete document copies. Pity. As it stood, I wasn't going to be able to fit a drink bottle into my bag.

Snapping open the elastic, I withdrew the sheet I had been sent from Tokyo Narita Quarantine Services, stating that my application to import a cat had been received. The Chinese lady working at the counter next to ours leaned over to take a peak.

"I can read some of the characters," she said with interest as she examined the Japanese-half of the bilingual script.

This apparently was enough proof that the document hadn't been forged, or maybe simply sufficient for the airline to declare it not-their-problem.

I understood their concern; like the UK, Japan is a rabies-free country. This means that their regulations concerning the import of animals are extremely strict. Once, this would have meant a non-negotiable six months quarantine (the time required for a rabies infection to show symptoms) but with the use of microchips to guarantee animal identification, this could all be waved with enough preparation... providing you had to right paperwork.

Tallis and I had been on one flight before, when I moved from Florida to Canada. While only a measly three hours compared to the 13 we were about to attempt, it had left me with some assurance that Tallis was likely to deal with it all relatively well. Unlike everyone else I talked to, I was not concerned about her causing a yowling scene on the plane. This was primarily for three reasons:

(1) I have a certain disregard for humanity.
(2) Planes are pretty noisy and Tallis doesn't have a very loud voice.
(3) ONE CRYING BABY and I was home and dry. No one talks about throwing an infant out the plane, though quite why is something of a mystery. See point (1).

Once in Tokyo, we had an overnight stop before going onto Sapporo for which I had booked Tallis into the airport pet kennels. Originally, I had done this because quarantine services threatened to take up to 12 hours even with the finest of leather-bond paperwork. On reflection, however, I realised a stop to stretch gave us both a much needed rest.

By far the most unforgivable event occurred a mere 10 minutes later as we approached security. Seeing what I was carrying, the airport staff waved me into a different line.

"Please take your doggy over there."

.... doggy?! DOGGY? I walked over to the designated line and pulled out a very ruffled and indignant cat.

"Is she vicious?" One of the security staff asked as they saw her struggle.

Well she didn't used to be until you CALLED HER A BITCH.

I plopped the cat over my shoulder and went through the scanner with a curt shake of my head. Humph. We went and sat in the airport lounge where Tallis chose to sit enthroned on my knee and be petted by the surrounding masses.

And after that ... everything went entirely smoothly. The flight was packed but my neighbours were nice, cat-loving types who didn't mind me sitting with the carrier on my lap after take-off. While she didn't use them, I had lined the carrier with a puppy pad against accidents, and changing this a few times during the flight freshened up the container. It also made me appreciate exactly how small a aeroplane toilet is. There truly is not enough room to swing a cat. Trust me.

When we arrived in Tokyo, I headed off to use the bathroom before approaching the quarantine desk, thinking I would be a while. While not a wasted gesture, this proved completely unnecessary since we were cleared for entry in a staggeringly short five minutes. I owe my vet's clinic a suitcase full of lucky waving cats. Or maybe not, since that might send them insane.

Indeed, the worst part of the whole journey (apart from the bit where Tallis was called a dog) came the following day on our short hop up to Sapporo. For this trip, Tallis was not allowed to travel in the cabin but had to go in the hold. When she was returned to me, she was wet all through and smelled terrible, which suggested she had been far more frightened on that short leg than at any point on our round the world jaunt. That notwithstanding, she recovered fast and vocally protested the remainder of our journey to my apartment.

"Meow meow meow!!"

"Look, we're nearly there!"

You've been saying that for DAYS.

Well... yes, but this time it was true. Adorably, there was no doubt Tallis knew she was home. Perhaps she recognised the furniture, maybe the smell of me was enough or she might have reached the stage where she was prepared to adopted any non-crate room as her home. Whatever the reason, she ran around the apartment then fell on her water as if she hadn't drank in days.

This was perfectly true but it was NOT BECAUSE SHE HADN'T HAD THE OPPORTUNITY. She'd just shunned any cup I'd placed in her carrier. My sympathy was limited.

I collapsed on the sofa. In all honesty, before this trip I'd been anxious about the wisdom of my decision to bring Tallis to Japan. Was it truly fair to take a pet on such a long journey? Should I have tried to find Tallis a new home in Canada? Now though, I can honestly say I'd do it again. The secret is an early start, since the paperwork takes the best part of a year to complete (minimum 8 months) but with the right assistance, it was actually a painless process.


"... You've gone in the bathtub haven't you?"
pergamond: ([Random] kitten // rar)







So went our conversation as we headed back to the apartment after our final vet's visit before the flight at the weekend.

Tallis was in her spanking new red pet carrier. Since her old one was disintegrating and smelling strongly of cat pee, I had decided to upgrade her before we attempted the 13 hour flight to Tokyo. Extensive googling had revealed two highly recommended possibilities: a bag made by the manufacturer 'Sherpa' and one by 'Sleepypod'. The second of these two was about twice the price of the first but a few inches longer, with fold-up ends that enabled it to slide properly under the plane seat during take-off and landing. Both had good reviews, so it really came down to exactly how guilty I was feeling about taking my cat on this trip.

I'd put in an order for the 'Sleepypod' the week before.

However, it transpired that the whole of Canada was having some giant guilt complex concerning their feline friends and every shop and their supplier was on backorder. Deciding this was secretly a message from my bank manager, I asked a friend to drive me to the out-of-town Petsmart and purchased the Sherpa carrier.

This was the second journey we had tried with the carrier. On the plus side, the bag was sturdy, well ventilated and and a cheerful colour. On the downside, my considerable care and attention to this matter was being utterly unappreciated.

The sparkly clean interior of the carrier was already coated in cat pee. So was I since, as I mentioned above, the carrier was beautifully ventilated.

On our first visit to the vet's that week, I had purchased a pheromone spray designed to calm cats down by reminding them of their mother. Judging by its success this trip, I wondered whether we might be reaching the heart of Tallis' problem with other cats.

I let her out once we reached the apartment and set about scrubbing the carrier down. I was about to apply the same treatment to myself when my phone rang to let me know that my friend and that day's department speaker had arrived. I sniffed at my shirt. Well, I've never been one for suffering alone. I headed out down the stairs.
pergamond: ([Toy Story] Buzz // wibble)

The tags for cows are changing. No more will our Canadian bovine friends accessorize with a triangular green ear ornament detailing their identification number, but instead will model a yellow round disc. However, cows already adorned with last year's fashion piece must not have it removed --since that is illegal-- but rather must have the latest earring added to their attire.

These cows are clearly going to be punk cows.

How did I know this detail about livestock imports? Because I was in the office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency ...

... waiting for them to approve the export papers for my cat.

May I just say that going to this particular organization for my little furry non-consumable pet kitty was highly disturbing? I distracted myself by reading a leaflet on compensation for Government destroyed animals. Wonderful.

Mercifully, the not-for-consumption cat was not present; all that was required was me and the paperwork for her import into Japan. This was particularly good since I wasn't sure I could carry both. The folder containing the relevant documents was bulging at the seams. I glanced down at the top-most sheet of paper. In English and Japanese, the heading read:

"Application for import: dogs, cat, foxes, raccoons and skunks."

Now, it might be just me, but it seems a little surprising that the import of foxes, raccoons and skunks is sufficiently common to warrant inclusion on a standard form. I made a mental note to keep this sheet handy when I was on the plane. If my neighbor objected to being seated beside a cat, I could point out that should he complain and move, he might be located by a skunk.

At length, I was called through to the main office to meet with the Government vet. He stamped my paperwork and told me that he had wanted to be an astronomer when he was small. I told him I had wanted to be a vet for years of my childhood. We both eyed each other, trying to access who had made the right choice.

Then the stamping was done, the papers returned to me with three additional copies. I tied an elastic band around my folder and stuffed it in my backpack. One shiny bright kitty, ready for consumption. I mean, export. 

Moving day

Aug. 30th, 2011 11:51 pm
pergamond: ([Random] kitten // rar)
There was a skidding sound of paws on a polished wood floor followed by a thump. Then a brown and gold shape streaked from the main room to the bedroom. Rinse, repeat.

I leaned back against the kitchen wall and lifted the remains of the 2 litre soda bottle to my lips, waiting.

After a few more minutes the cycle seemed to break and my cat appeared beside me.

** There is nothing here! NOTHING! **

Then she was off for another lap around the apartment that had just been emptied by the movers in the first stage of shipping my belongings to Japan.

This had been my first experience with a moving company that packed as well as shipped. Normally, not boxing up everything yourself adds a ridiculous amount to the moving cost but it seemed for a journey over these distances, the company wanted to do it themselves and basically threw it in for free.

I had stood watching while one of the movers painstakingly wrapped my plastic water bottle in three layers of paper before gently placing it in a box before deciding I wasn't going to understand this process and retreating to the basement. Down here, I had put all the items the movers weren't to touch: my suitcase for the next 2-3 months, a few items I was donating to a charity thrift shop and my cat. Said feline had decided to take no chances and had curled up actually in the suitcase as a rather pointed hint.

Despite the simplicity of my instructions to the movers ("please take everything"), I was still asked a few of bizarre questions:

"Is this bookcase coming? And all the things on it?"

No dude, that's just my hand luggage. The mind boggles.

Now, however, they were gone and all I had left was a suitcase. Tallis came back from her mad sprint and sat at my feet.

** Our life used to be so much cooler than this. **

I picked her up and submitted to having my face washed. Possibly she was remembering the last time our house was emptied; an event that preceded a bunch of car rides and a three hour flight up from Florida to Canada. 

"Basically," I told her. "However bad you think this is going to be...? You're out. Waaaaay out."

Cat tales

Aug. 12th, 2011 10:23 pm
pergamond: ([Random] kitten // rar)
"Look, it's your mommy!"

My cat was milling around the door to the apartment when I arrived to pick her up after my month in Japan. I held a hand down to her as I slid out of my shoes. She sniffed it, let me rub her ears and tickle her chin.

Then, she fled.

It took me fifteen minutes to locate her under one of the beds. I had to move several boxes and other items out of the way before I spotted the pair of yellow-green eyes staring back at me. Evidently, her time at the home of her feline foster family had been a success.

Saddened by the loss of a cat of their own, this family had decided not have another pet. Instead, they enthusiastically cared for other people's animals while their owners were away. I had been put in contact with the family's daughter through a friend and had explained that I was moving to Japan, but would ideally leave my cat in Canada for the first six months while I found an apartment, my possessions were shipped and things generally became sorted enough that we would have a place to recover from what would undoubtedly be a traumatic journey for the pair of us. It seemed like a rather high demand, but the response I received was extremely enthusiastic. So, we set up July as a trial run for both the family and Tallis.

Apparently, it had worked out well.

I sincerely hoped (as I pounced on my cat and carried her back downstairs) that Tallis' reluctance to stick around was due to her knowing that the next step involved the hated cat carrier and a car ride, rather than a declaration of her home of preference from this day forth. Since, upon arriving at home, she reverted to a furry ball of purriness, I've convinced myself this is true.

If it's not, well tough. I missed her even if the feeling of loss wasn't reciprocated.

This week I sold my bed. This move was apparently also not appreciated since Tallis refused to sleep on the sofa bed with me at all and spent all night on her seat by the window. There are times when I feel my home lacks support.
pergamond: (Default)

Spring has finally arrived in Ontario and the squirrel mating season has begun. But how does a young gray-tailed lady know that the black tree rodent posing for her attention on the front porch is worthy of being her mate? The answer apparently comes down to one rather unfortunate challenge:

Who can terrorize my cat the most?

This particular black squirrel has long been a major source of entertainment / annoying itch / enemy who will one day be vanquished (delete as appropriate) for Tallis. It was clear from an early stage that he didn't give a jot about the fact a carnivorous feline was pressed up against the window a mere foot from where he was hanging from my deck rail. Still, until this morning, the squirrel's main objective had been to raid the seeds in my bird feeder and the frenzy my cat blew into was no more than a passingly interesting side-effect.

Today was different. The bird feeder was completely ignored and instead the squirrel danced in front of the window while the newly arrived gray squirrel looked on from on top of the dustbin. Tallis watched, nonplussed, from where she was sitting on my desk. The gray squirrel looked equally unimpressed. Evidently, this was not demonstrating the required quantity of bravado.

Our black friend then leapt onto the wall and ran around the outside of the window frame. Tallis had now moved to her window seat, but couldn't see the squirrel when he was above her. Feeling that his presence needed to be fully marked, the squirrel scuttled down the side of the house and leapt across onto the bug screen attached to the outside of the window pane.

Yoo hoo!

A dance was then performed across the window, complete with a nut clamped in the squirrel's mouth. The addition of the food was quite blatantly to emphasize that while the squirrel had breakfast, my poor cat would be forever without the snack she desired. That didn't stop her trying to chew the squirrel straight through the glass.

In the end, however, the torment was too much. Tallis retreated to sulk in the middle of the room and the squirrel was left still clinging to the window. At length it dropped down and I've not seen it or Miss Gray since. Assuming this bold act of daring was accepted as a feat worthy of a father, this summer could be a tough one for Tallis. We may just have to draw the curtains.
pergamond: ([Random] kitten // rar)
Upon walking up my driveway towards the door of my apartment:

Neighbour's dog: Ruff! Ruff ruff ruff! Ruff ruff!

Me: Ruff ruff ruff ruff. Ruff!

Upon pushing open the door and entering the kitchen:

Cat: Meow! Meow meow meow meeeeooooow!

Me: Meow meow! Meow!

I'd feel better about all this if I felt anything I said during the preceding day had made more sense.

pergamond: ([PoT] Karupin // Christmas)
Christmas presents packed. Suitcase closed. Extremely large book in hand luggage in anticipation of 10 days at the airport while London tries to work out where the runway is under the snow. Cat.... zooming in concentric circles around the apartment. Apparently, someone suspects the way this morning is going to go down.


It took me two attempts to get Tallis into her carrier. The first time she escaped to hide under the bed in the basement bedroom. As I lifted the futon to shift it across the room, I had to give her credit for continuing to remain out-of-reach under the middle of the slats in a brilliant thwarting of my scheme. Three more laps around the apartment later and my clean white sweater was covered with dusty black paw prints but we were finally in the car. I hit the highway.

"Tallis?" I glanced briefly down at the suspiciously silent carrier on the floor by the passenger front seat.

No response.

"Hey kitkat! How are you doing?"


"Tal Tal...?" I stopped at a set of lights and took the opportunity to give the carrier a nudge. No response.

Had something awful happened? Did Tallis hurt herself as she was stuffed into the carrier? Was the black canvas holder in fact imbued with a rare poison that kills felines on contact as Tallis had always claimed? Had my crazy, selfish and (let's face it) highly unrealistic dream of going home for Christmas caused my poor sweet pussy cat to perish?! WAS I THE WORST CAT OWNER IN THE WORLD?

Concerned, I nearly missed the entrance to the 'Cat Castle' cattery, swerving into the driveway at a sharp angle and causing the cat carrier to roll onto its side.


Apparently, the silent treatment can be over-ridden by an even bigger reason for indignation.


Parking, I scooped up the carrier and we went inside the house to be met by several of the assistants who were coming out to top up the bird feeders (cat TV).

"Oh, it's Tallis! We love Tallis! She is such an angel! Hello, Tallis!"

This declaration of love and friendship was met with a hissing, spitting ball of fury as the smell of the other cats reached my same-species-phobic companion.

"..... She's thrilled to see you too!" I tried to cover up the noise as the carrier wobbled in my grip under its inhabitant inflating her fur to ten times its normal volume.

I let Tallis out in her roomy cage, sprinkling cat nip over the three levels of bedding. "Look at it this way," I told the cat eying me as if I were spreading dog urine on her food bowl. "At worst, it's less than two weeks, but if the news is anything to go by, Heathrow will be closed and I'll be back tomorrow."

Yellow-green eyes narrowed. The message was clear: Let it snow.

"We need to work on selflessness for the sake of others."


The translation of that I leave to the reader.

Hot feet

Dec. 20th, 2010 12:53 pm
pergamond: (Default)

"What's up?" I looked over at the cat sitting beside me on the desk.


"Is it the heated pad? Is it too hot?" I'd put down a small electric blanket on a cushion next to where I was working for Tallis to sit on. Technically, the box it came in said that it shouldn't be used on pets, but my friend had one that her cat used to love. I put my hand on the felty blue surface. Perhaps it was uncomfortable on the pads of her paws. "I can turn it down." I did so, clicking the control to 'medium'.


"You know .... you could always just get off it."


I picked her up and promptly received a vigorous face wash. I squinted out of one eye. "Do you just want me to hold you until the blanket cools?"


Apparently, yes. Cat is now curled in a ball on heated pad. Stroking has produced no interest.

Advent jabs

Dec. 1st, 2010 01:15 pm
pergamond: ([xkcd] You're a kitty!)
Tallis: "Meow!"

Me: "Meow."

Tallis: "Meeeeooooooowwwww!"

Me: "Meeeeeooooowwww."

Tallis: "Mowowowowwww!"

Me: "......"

Tallis: "........ meow?"

While the beginning of December marks the start of the Christmas celebrations for many, for Tallis and I it means that her annual vaccinations are due. It is not our favourite time of the year. She was already in her carrier, having entered back first; a feat only to be surpassed one hour later when she entered head first for the return journey. Needless to say, her displeasure at the situation was being vocalised.

I pushed open the door and placed the cat carrier on the front step while I locked the house up. To my surprise, there was silence behind me. I turned to see a giant pompom of fur with two shocked looking eyes in its centre. I suppose it was rather cold.

OK, it was snowing.

But the veterinary practice was only around the corner and at least we didn't have to drive anywhere. I headed off down the street, carrying my silent companion. The vet was a cheerful woman who clearly loved animals. It could have been a meeting full of seasonal cheer, but unfortunately Tallis' vocal chords had de-thawed in record time and she didn't hesitate to inform the poor vet exactly what she thought of her.

Oh, it was terrible (she protested to me, to the vet, to the veterinary nurse who dropped in later, to the receptionist at the front desk and to the cat that was coming in after us. Well, actually, that last one might have been random abuse.) This vile, cat-hating minion of Satan looked in my EARS and then she poked my TUMMY and then she listened to my CHEST and oh! It was bad.

The vet also gave her the vaccination shot, but oddly that didn't seem to register as problematic. The tummy inspection though? Hell. On. Earth. Right there.

The final verdict was health 90% (possibility of asthma to keep an eye on) and charm 2%. We left to make the blustery journey back home.

Me: "There. Was that really so bad?"

Tallis: ..... Didn't you see she touched my TUMMY?!?!

We are now watching the snow from the living room. I have a mug of tea which I narrowly resisted added whisky too (largely because I had only pure malt and it would be a waste to mix it) and Tallis is trying to sleep beside me. I say 'trying' because I'm on the watch for any side-effects from the vaccinations which I've translated as the need to poke her every few minutes.

Me: "Aren't you glad I'm at home to look after you?"

Tallis: .........

pergamond: ([Random] Quantum box)

My last apartment in Florida was on the first floor (that's second floor to all you people who start at 1). The biggest benefit to this was that passers-by could not gaze through my window and view the consequences of me forgetting I'd left my bath towel drying in the front room. The biggest disadvantage was that no cats could peer in either.

Don't get me wrong; Tallis hates other cats. Actually, she loathes them with a vengeance never before seen on earth. With people, she is the furry purry bundle of love, yet one sign of a whisker and satan himself has nothing on her. In the ground floor apartment previous to the last one, a neighbourhood kitty dropped by to look in the glass front door. It appeared a friendly type, but the greeting it received ultimately forced a verbal reply in kind and a swipe with the paw. This shadow boxing act sent Tallis flying backwards, matrix style, to slide against the opposite wall. I should emphasize that at no point had the door been opened.  Frankly, it was hilarious.

The lack of other felines is therefore a disappointment only to me but has now been rectified in my Canadian apartment. Meet "Arch enemy #1" (known as AE1 from this day forth). AE1 is looking through the basement window where I'm currently sleeping to avoid the heat. The window is open but there is a mosquito mesh separating Tallis from her new BFF. The look of mild disgust is entirely appropriate to the language, I admit.

You will note that AE1 has gotten him/herself comfortable. It was the start of a long day.
pergamond: (zombie (oh my))
MEOWOWOWOWOW It's so hot! I'm burning! BURNING! My fur is going to fry! MRRRRRRROOOOOWWWWW

Well, it wasn't as if I didn't agree with the sentiment. The temperature was in the 30s (centigrade, I've reverted back to metric and y'all are going to have to roll with that) and the car had become a bug-shaped greenhouse. Nevertheless, my flight was in four hours and the furry Houdini who had already escaped her carrier once to be chased around the basement was going to the cattery.

Five minutes later we were on the road and the carrier on the floor beside me had gone completely silent. This probably had a lot to do with the apartment only being marginally cooler than the car. Ahhhh air conditioning! By the time we reached our destination, however, the memory of the too hot apartment had entirely vanished and we were back onto the topic of the torture I was putting her through by this sadistic car journey from hell. 

Did I mention the cattery I put my cat in is called "Cat Castle"? And that I find this slightly embarrassing? Unfortunately, I am incapable of relaxing on my time away unless I know my cat is in the lap of luxury. Next time, I tell the still protesting kitty, you go to the conference. I'll stay here.

From the cattery, I was taking a cab to the airport. At least that was the master plan, somewhat scuppered by the fact the taxi company had forgotten my reservation. Half an hour later, a freshly dispatched cab appeared.

"What time is your flight?"

"7:30 pm. I was looking to get there around 5:30."

"Oh, that's not going to happen! Ha ha ha."

I didn't know whether to feel peeved or amused that he didn't even pretend to be apologetic. I regretted not accepting a juice box from the cattery. It would be good to chew on a straw round about now.

"... so we were up north, cleaning out a shed and making a huge bonfire of all the trash when this huge bear lumbered out of the woods...."

Well, the cab ride might have been longer than I was planning, but it had high entertainment value .

".... and he was like RAWWWRRRRR."

My phone slid to the floor and I had to dive for it. Regardless of the situation, it is a trace surprising when your cabbie emits a gut wrenching growl. Evidently though, this enthusiasm was exactly what was needed and we arrived at the airport around 5:40. It transpired the flat-rate on the website was out of date and I had to pay an extra $7 from what I was expecting. I didn't quibble; that story was totally worth it.

"See you kiddo!"

You know what? I'm not even going to go there.

Inside the terminal, I arrived at the desk to check in:

"The flight is delayed, it will now leave at 9:15 pm."

So much for running late. This now meant it was likely I was going to miss my train I'd booked a ticket on the other side of the pond. Ho hum. I sauntered through security.

"You're flying to Manchester? You've been selected for a secondary security inspection."

.... were those two things linked? Well, it wasn't like I didn't have time. I put my hands into my pockets and then allowed a swab to be run over the top of them. Inspecting the result, I could only hope that cat hair wouldn't clog up their machines. Allowed to continue on my way, I mooched through the airport shops and bought a juice box; the desire to bite a straw was still strong. Said straw turned out to be shorter than its juice box and disappeared into its interior never to be seen again.

I frowned and looked around; one of these shops sells aspirin, right?
pergamond: (on_the_list)
[ profile] monarchist discovered the test that has unmasked my cat's evil plan regarding her night time activities.

Is your cat plotting to kill you?
pergamond: (Hello Kitty)

"Tallis! It's 2 am! I need to sleep!"

"... Meow."


Fine. I flick the light on and look around for the wicked feline. Her voice comes from underneath me so, with a groan, I tilt myself off my mattress to look under the bed. No cat. Has she got caught up in the suitcases? I push them around a bit. Still no cat. Huh.



The noise comes from directly underneath me and ... in fact ... I can feel her.

She's in the box spring.


"Oh you are totally on your own."

The light goes out.


If you could see that I'm the one who understands you ....

"Ummmhuu," I glance bleary eyed at the radio only to be headbutted by a furry mallet.


"Oh you escaped, I see?"


"... that was a 'fuck you', wasn't it?"


pergamond: (ni)
Silently the many legged stalker advances on the inert human form, buried deep beneath the bedclothes. The initial attack strategy of head-butts and a vibrating voice produce no motion. Phase two is engaged whereby a limb is inserted between neck and pillow to bop sleeping human on the nose. In horror, she discovers the invasive front foot is trapped! Caught in a devious counter attack that proves sleep was merely an optimistic faint. The only solution is to try and follow after the restrained appendage, burrowing face and shoulders into the widening gap between bed and body. In a sudden movement, the stalker is scooped into the air, only to be placed down on the bed and used as a furry purry pillow. What could have caused such extreme repercussions? Could it be her assault or the timing of 5 am in the morning? Ahh, it's good to be back.

I have returned to Canada, dug out car, collected cat and -- in some crazy sense of competition -- the UK has now filled up with more snow than we have here. What's with that?


pergamond: (Default)

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