klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
When I first met Mac and Barry, they greeted Chaz and me at his front door, their little noses sniffing at the outdoors. When they moved here with Chaz, we had discussed letting them be outdoor cats, and quickly decided against it. Mac disagreed with this choice. He would try to get outside, and on occasion succeeded, but he usually ran for the closest clump of grass and starting eating. I got him a harness, and about once a week I take him outside for a few minutes and let him explore the back yard. He seemed to enjoy this.

I went to visit my mother at the beginning of October, and when I came back home Mac had managed to lose his collar. It was no big deal, since he's an indoor cat. We finally found where it had ended up (on the floor in Chaz's study, mixed in with some other stuff), and its safety feature had worked but it was no unusable. Oh, well, we though, he's an indoor cat.

A week ago on Thursday, when we had our regular group of friends over for dinner, I didn't see Mac inside right after the gang had moved over to the clubhouse. No problem, I thought. He'd been by himself in the bedroom, so he was probably just in one of his nooks. Nope. When I went back to the house to feed the boys, there was only Barry. I called in the house, but no Mac. Chaz went out the front door and called, but I went out the back door and called. A little gray furry shape raced out of the darkness to me, and I picked him up and brought him inside. Crisis averted, I thought.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and again no Mac once everyone (only about six of us) had gone over to the clubhouse. No one saw him go out, just like last week. Still, it was soon obvious he had gone out, and he wasn't in the back yard (or at least he wasn't coming when called). We had dinner (which was astounding delicious. Chaz really has figured out American Thanksgiving dinner.), and I worried, since we were eating at 6:00 and the boys' dinnertime is 8:50. At about 7:00, though, I went outside to check, and mentioned loudly that it was treat time (Mac's cue that it's time for our outdoor time to end), and once again a gray furry shape raced out of the darkness. I picked him up, and he leaped out of my arms to get inside and have his treat.

I'm pleased that he's coming back, and that he seems to be having fun, but I really don't want him to go outside on his own. He's a smart cat, and still very agile, but he's also ten years old. We'll have a new collar soon, so his tags will jingle, and dinner guests need to wait until I've put Mac in our bedroom before they head across to the clubhouse. I want Mac to enjoy his life, but I really don't want him outside. He's been less purry to me today, and is sleeping very deeply, so I think he had an exciting time yesterday. I hope he treasures the memories, because I really don't want him to do it again. (Mac disagrees.)
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I occasionally take Mac outside on a harness to explore the backyard. Since I've started doing this, he's stopped trying to get out the front door nearly as much, though stalks me whenever I near the back door. One thing he's serious about is that the back yard is HIS. The nextdoor cat, Leo, is an outside cat by day who goes inside at night. Leo wanders the neighborhood as if he owns it, and likes to roll around in the dirt in our garden. (I don't understand why cats like this, but it may be to cool off.) Once Leo was in the backyard when Chaz opened the back door, and Mac went racing out after him. He and Leo rolled around in a fight, then Leo broke away and dashed over the tall fence to the nextdoor yard, Mac hot behind him. Mac stopped on the top of the fence, though, whether because it was the border he was defending or because of the large yellow lab who lived in the yard, we don't know.
This time was different. )
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
A few years ago, around the time we got married, I googled "Mac and Barry". I wasn't surprised to get a page of links to Chaz's LJ, because the boys were a frequent topic. When I tried that search again today the top result was to a photo on Chaz's Flickr page, but nothing else about the boys. I like MAC brand makeup and the ease of posting photos on Facebook have overtaken the boys' notoriety.

On Friday we took them in for their senior cat exam. They are both at least ten years old, though we don't know their ages for sure. We'd noticed some changes in them, mostly that Barry had been losing weight and Mac gaining it, but Barry had some other behavior changes. It turns out that Mac now weights 14(!) pounds, more than Barry's previous weight of 13 (Barry hit 14 when we were trying out feeding them by leaving out crunchies all the time, but he just kept eating). Barry is down to just under 12 pounds, so the boys have hopscotched over each other.

The vet took some of Baz's blood, and it turns out he's hyperthyroid. We'll try him on pills for a few weeks, but it's likely he'll eventually have a radioactive iodine injection, which should take care of the problem. If nothing else turns up, too. Not that I'm worrying. I'm sure Chaz isn't worrying at all.

I haven't had these boys for very long, and I want to keep them forever.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've mentioned before that Mac sings to us in the morning. When he first moved here he would warble happily for a minute or so, then go about his business. It was easy to smile and go back to sleep. Over time, as he has started adopting me -- sitting on my desk while I work, curling up on my lap for scritches -- his warblings changed in tone to more of the kind of song that cats sing when they bring you a treasure. He brings catnip mousies.

About a year or so ago I started putting him on a harness and letting him walk around in the back yard for about fifteen minutes at a time, maybe once a week or so. Mac of course would like to do this much more often for much longer periods, but he takes what he can get since he has no other choice. What I hadn't realized is that for the last few months he's started singing whenever I go out the back door. With accompanying mousie.

I ride my bike every afternoon for about fifteen to twenty minutes, so I'm not gone for long, but he can see me leave and come back. He waits for me at the door. Lately I've taken to heading out to the clubhouse to write, since the tables out there are at a better height for typing on my laptop. Mac sees me head out the door, and can see me go in the clubhouse. Apparently that's also his cue to start a full-on opera. It was so bad yesterday that Chaz gave up trying to work (his study is right next to the back door) and went off to do errands.

I'm very touched.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
It's been a month since Xerox laid me off (Xerox is splitting into two companies, which means layoffs, which means getting rid of the newest hires -- me), and I've been looking for better exercise. I haven't done yoga in many months. Our regular yoga nights have devolved, since the people who actually did yoga with me stopped coming, and now it's a very fun night of friends and food. But, no yoga. Our trip to England, particularly at Mancunicon (British Eastercon) involved lots of walking around between panels and out to dinner, which really stretched and strengthened my legs, but I have all these other muscles that need stretching and strengthening. Who knew?

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lifeofglamour's example, I've started doing yoga workouts on YouTube, in particular Yoga Camp with Adriene. She's very good at explaining the poses, and is slowly bringing me back up to where I was a few months ago, only this time I'm learning better ways of standing and using my hands/wrists in the poses. And today, Barry joined me on the yoga mat.

The cleaners came yesterday, and in the course of cleaning they (or Chaz) took out the empty boxes from the living room. Also, all the nice newspapers and couch pillows are off the floor. Where is a boy expected to curl up for a nap? So when I set out my yoga mat, Barry had found his spot. He was very good. He settled in to a relaxing pose and maintained it. He changed positions when nudged gently (so I could do a new pose). He breathed in and out regularly. What a great yoga partner. I've left him in a gentle relaxing pose on the mat, to complete his practice. He's adorable.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
When Chaz and the boys moved in, almost every morning around five or six Mac would come into the hallway (a space about three feet on a side) right outside our door and sing to us. This was a happy, cheerful warble, it didn't last long, so I didn't fuss at him.

After living here a while, Mac decided that he really liked the way I scritched him. I would let him get up on my computer desk and I would actually rub his chin and forehead, and he loved it. One day in the middle of this I needed him to move, so I picked him up and set him on my lap. I continued to scritch him with one hand while I did something computer-ish with the other. That night after dinner, as Chaz and I sat on the couch watching TV, Mac jumped up and curled up on my lap, so I started scritching him.

This evening (and sometimes morning) practice of Mac getting scritched on my lap has gone on for a while. Then last year, a couple of times close together, I picked Mac up and took him with me across to the clubhouse to talk to Chaz, because (as with toddlers) it was easier to do that than to fight with him to get him to stay inside. Mac loved this. About this time the morning song changed. Instead of a warble it became the song that cats sing when they've caught something, and he'd sing it with a toy mousie in his mouth. When I'd get up, there'd be a mousie in the hallway.

The latest? I've been taking him outside on a harness. He's quite well behaved, and walks around the garden eating Bermuda grass quite politely. When he gets scared (not that he's ever *scared*, mind you) he'll hiss, which means I take him inside. He's been extremely well-behaved lately, and hardly ever even gets near Barry. I also have four toy mousies in the hallway. Last night, though, he left me a chicken leg (which he somehow got out of our trash) and a dead beetle. No song, though. And today he's been lying flat like a tire that's lost it's air. (It's been very hot for three days.) I wonder what kind of melody we'll hear tonight?
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Yesterday [livejournal.com profile] learnteach gave us a many-quart plastic jar of dried kernels of corn, in many lovely colors. I brought it in the house and set it on the edge of the table in our kitchen. I thought about it at the time, and decided it was heavy enough we wouldn't knock it over by mistake. Some time later, we went to bed.

Readers of this journal are aware that we have cats, no? One in particular, in fact, one who likes experimentation. He likes to see what sound objects make when they land. After falling.

Just before 7:00 this morning, when Chaz and I were still asleep, I was awoken by a loud thump from our kitchen, followed immediately by the high-pitched noise of tiny objects clattering on the floor. Guess what Chaz and I were doing just after 7:00 this morning?

(Yes, the cat lived, though he did come to me about fifteen minutes later for scritches and reassurances. I might have called him some unkind names. Quietly. It was still early.)
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've learned to ignore clunks in the night, and it's just as well. I discovered this morning that Mac doesn't like 70% pure dark chocolate bars from Theo Chocolate. How did I discern this, you ask? We left out on our coffee table our paper bag containing the last few bars of our haul from our factory tour of Theo Chocolate in Seattle the previous weekend. The clunk I heard last night appears to have been this bag landing on the floor, by some mysterious means unknown. Mac, being helpful, appears to have examined the 70% pure dark chocolate bar (ignoring the two chili chocolate bars), even going to far as to open the paper wrapper at one end, just to make sure it survived its fall intact. Or mostly intact. The bar appears mostly unhurt, and unlicked, and unbitten, which is just as well since I'm sure Mac knows that chocolate is bad for cats.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Mac is trying very hard to be helpful to Chaz in the kitchen. Why? Because Chaz is spatchcocking a turkey, for John's second Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon. Right now Mac is desperately eyeing the spine of the bird lying glistening on the counter (just the tip is sticking over the edge, though I asked Chaz to move it so Mac isn't quite so tormented). Why is the spine there, you ask? That's what spatchcockers do (what did you think it meant, you perv?) -- remove the spine so you can roast the carcass flat. We'll have an interesting meal this afternoon.

To add to Mac's interesting day, a damp dark cold day following a night with water dripping in our rain gutters, a day with all the windows hard to see out of because of all the raindrops decorating the screens, I got very tired of him acting up (attacking Barry, knocking a glass off the dining room table). So I took him outside to see why the world was odd. Into the rain.

I take him outside occasionally, when I'm in a hurry and don't want to fight with him. I tuck him under my arm to go over to the clubhouse to talk to my husband, and more notably yesterday scooping him up when I went outside in my bathrobe to yell at the gardener who was using a leafblower in our backyard before nine in the morning on Saturday. I usually set him down outside, while holding him securely, so he can sniff the grass. Today, I made sure to set him down, in a puddle on the patio, and in the mulch under the orange tree, and in the damp grass in the yard. There weren't too many raindrops but everything else was wet. I think he got the idea.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Mac and Dymphna both appreciate a warm afternoon. Later this week the temperature is supposed to really climb. Chaz is looking forward to it, but I'm not, and I bet the boys won't be thrilled. The turtles may have a dance party.

The mousie and the tiger tail are Mac's triumphs. He kills them regularly and leaves them for us as gifts. Then he warbles about his victory...just before dawn.

Mac and Dymphna with Mac's triumphs
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I'd hate for you to get the wrong idea of life in our household. Just so you know, here are some cuter pictures.

Mac helps Chaz... )

And Barry, too )
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
When I met my husband ([livejournal.com profile] desperance) he had two cats, Mac and Barry. "Mac is evil," he said, "Mac isn't a lap cat." And when I went to visit, Barry immediately leapt onto my suitcase, where he stayed most of my visit, including sleeping there next to me at night. Mac, on the other hand, seemed to ignore me, except for the one night he jumped up onto the bookcase at the foot of the bed and glared at me.

I didn't think much of this. I liked both cats, and both of them seemed to at least tolerate me. I scritched them when I could, but mostly I was there to see Chaz. The only variation is that one night on my last visit there, I pulled a blanket that Mac liked to sleep on over my legs while we watched TV, and Mac came and slept on my lap on top of his blanket. I've come to learn that he places a lot of significance on places and things he considers his.

Fast forward to the United States. I mentioned before how Mac had decided that I was his minion, and that my study was his room. He would come curl up on the side of my computer desk and I would scritch him. He would purr, and get that silly look of complete relaxation that cats get.

Attend me now, human )

Then, the weather changed, and Barry started coming into my office, probably because it gets the most sun in the afternoon. Mac was outraged, but I wouldn't let him fight with Barry in my office. When Mac would come to my computer desk for scritches, he wouldn't relax and enjoy it. He'd be constantly on the lookout for Barry. So how could he get his scritches?

Mac has started getting on my lap when Chaz and I are sitting on the couch. Barry usually sat on Chaz's leg, but then Barry started sitting on me. Barry is slightly heavy, and likes to sit on the part of my leg that's sensitive, so I'd been moving him over to Chaz whenever he jumped on me. I think Mac took that as another sign of encroachment onto his territory. Anyway, Mac started jumping onto my lap. And curling up and letting me scritch him. And falling asleep. He's very cute.

The first couple of times I thought it was just a rarity, but he's started doing it regularly. Barry will come sit on Chaz. They're both very cute. And I have a lap cat.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've mentioned before how Mac has adopted me as his.

Mac on his throne )

Now that the weather is cooling, Barry has stopped spending as much time in Chaz's office and has started sleeping with us in our bedroom. Almost always he sleeps next to Chaz, often on the side of the bed. Occasionally he'll sleep on my pillow (graciously granting me a corner for my head), I presume since the lamp on the bedside table warms it. Last night Barry started the night on my pillow, but around 4:00 a.m. when I needed to get up, when I came back he'd stretched over the entire pillow. As I gently nudged him to give me room, he got off the pillow and curled up with me right below the pillow. I slept for several hours with Barry in my arms against my chest. How lovely, especially since his fur is very soft because he cleans himself so much. (Only a cad would use the word "compulsively.") Today Barry is napping on our bed where he slept next to me last night.

I feel honored. I'm not sure Mac or Chaz is pleased, though.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
and she might say no.

Barry in the blinds

Collared

Jul. 25th, 2013 12:18 pm
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Our boys, who had never worn a collar in their (living with Chaz) lives, took very politely to wearing collars here in California. (The collars have their official animal registry tags on them, in the shape of silver stars, which bang against whatever they're eating from. Which makes it easy to tell if they're eating something in the kitchen. Where they shouldn't be.) Yesterday while we were up in the city (San Francisco, for those of you who mistakenly think "the city" -- or even "the City" -- means someplace else) the boys both managed to lose their (tear-off) collars. This is nothing new for Barry, who loses his often, but odd for Mac. They may have been fighting.

I found them in Chaz's study and put them back on. Mac didn't mind, but Barry fussed. I thought for a moment (remember, this is Barry the "Big Boned"), then felt under his collar. While it didn't feel like it was choking him, I couldn't fit my finger under it, so Chaz extended the collar and I put it back on. It's not too loose, but now I can fit a finger underneath it. We'll see if it stays on this time.

(In completely non-cat-related news, I actually wrote three sentences yesterday on a new story, but the train car was so hot I couldn't concentrate beyond that.)
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Our boys tend to disagree, about most things in fact, though not about when dinner should be. (The answer? Now.) One idea they're completely at odds about is Outside. Not whether they should be there (The answer? Yes.) but which Outside they want to go to. Mac likes the back yard, and has become quite adept at leaping past us through the back door. When I need to go out, slowly with my walker, I need to put him in the other side of the house with the door closed, because otherwise there's no way I could keep him inside. Barry doesn't have much interest in the back, though once when a guest left the door open he was happy to stroll outside. He made an immediate turn and started up the sidewalk to the front yard, though.

Barry likes the front yard and the front door, though he's nowhere near as aggressive about it as Mac is. In fact, he's quite subtle, until suddenly you see him shoot out the door. He turns sharply to the right, and gets in the bushes at the front of the house. Fortunately, that's as far as he's gone. Mac would be happy to go out the front, too, but he's not as aggressive about it as he is about the back.

This afternoon, the UPS guy knocked at the front door. I was right there, so I opened it a crack, and told him I needed to corral the cats before I could give him the box (which was right inside the door). I called for Chaz, who didn't answer, so I scooped up Mac, and didn't see Barry, so I opened the door. And Barry shot out. Mac began squirming, Chaz didn't answer, the UPS guy stood like a stump on the doorstep, and Barry was gone. Chaz appeared and went out after Baz, Mac kept squirming, and I couldn't pick up the box myself. I finally got the UPS guy to take one step inside and pick up the box (very annoying -- they may have rules about going inside, but I pointed out that I couldn't do it).

The UPS guy left. I put Mac in the bathroom with the door closed. Chaz found Barry, in his bushes. All is well. But I didn't need that.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
At least, summers are cool in my study, which now has an air conditioning unit thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jeanvieve. It's changed the dynamics some in the house, too. My study belongs to Mac, since I belong to Mac, and Mac's Place is on top of my desk. The first time I turned on the AC Mac came running in, and well, got comfy.

Mac in sun with AC

Barry also wears a fur coat, though, and he also likes the cool afternoon air. So today he did the unthinkable, and sat in Mac's Place. Mac very reasonably came up to claim his spot, but I wouldn't let them fight on my desk. In front of my computer. Six inches from my face. So they behaved.

Barry and Mac on desk
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
People have asked me whether the boys pester the turtles. Hardly. Dymphna resembles a tank, in that once she starts moving she tends not to stop, no matter what's in her way. This morning she started walking towards Mac, who was lying down in the hallway. In alarm and confusion, he fled, and took shelter in a box. Where he stayed all morning, keeping an eye out for her. Silly boy.

Mac hiding from Dymphna in a box
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
It's been hot here. You'd think someone who wore a fur coat would look for shade.

Mac and Dymphna in the sun
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
As I've mentioned before, Mac likes to kill his prey then deposit in the hallway outside our bedroom while he warbles about his mad skillz. Usually this prey is one of his mousies, though every now and then it will be the larger mousie, the tiger tail filled with catnip, or one of Chaz's socks. Monday morning I woke up early, at 6:00, which is about the time Mac is likely to start his morning warble. When I stepped out of our room I saw, placed carefully in the exact center of the hallway, a small bottle of allergy pills from Chaz's desk on the other side of the house. I scooped up the bottle and put it safely away, and oddly enough there was no warble that morning.*



*Chaz did report that there was a warbling session in front of his office later that day, with one of my socks. Mac might have been annoyed at me.

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