On Friday Basta went in for her annual vet appointment. The vet called her “chunky.” She was not amused.

On Friday Basta went in for her annual vet appointment. Getting her into the cat carrier was a chore, because she’s big and muscular, and really, really did not want to be in the box. It took both Rochelle and I grabbing her and pushing her in to get it done.

When we got to the vet, she got weighed. 13.8 pounds. Or, as the vet put it, “chunky.”

The Body Count Grows

Billie has the soul of a killer. Mouser that is. And proves it again while we’re in bed reading the Sunday paper.

Rochelle and I were enjoying a wonderful lazy Sunday when Billie made Rochelle scream. Rochelle was coming around the corner of the bed to pet Billie, who was innocently grooming herself.

Then Rochelle screamed and ran out of the room.

She scared the daylights out of me when she did it, since I was still in bed reading the paper. From how it happened, I knew something was on the floor, so I rolled over and looked.

Sure enough, Billie has racked up another kill. This time the mouse wasn’t quite dead, or as they say in The Princess Bride, mostly dead. But clearly on its way out, so we’ll give her the points.

The Last of the Independents

A new mattress and box spring from McRoskey, and we’re spending more time than ever in bed.

While in Europe, someone on the trip explained his strategy for coping with jet lag. Get back early, run errands all day, then go to bed at the right local time, exhausted, and be in sync by the next day. He had three events to go to the day of his return.

I had exactly the opposite waiting for me when I got back: a brand new bed.

We’d needed a new mattress for a while, because the ditch in the middle of our existing mattress was driving us nuts (never, ever, ever buy a pillowtop mattress). McRoskey Airflex is a local mattress factory that’s one of the last independents, with a great reputation, and happens to be only a few blocks from our house. We’d been meaning to check them out for nearly two years, and seeing them featured on Martha Stewart was the final straw. We went, we laid down, we bought.

Rochelle took delivery of our brand new mattress and box spring literally the day before I got back. Fortunately we stayed away from the new bed until late in the evening, because sleeping on a McRoskey is like sleeping on a buttered cloud (the only thing better than laying on a cloud is laying on a buttered cloud — everything’s better with butter). We’re having real difficulty doing anything in bed except passing out.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Get your minds out of the gutter!

Where’s Michael?

Why there haven’t been any posts in more than two weeks.

So, I haven’t been posting because I’ve been bouncing around Europe on a business trip, and I never got around to setting up remote posting on this weblog.

A two-week all expenses paid trip to Europe sounds like a lot of fun, but it wasn’t. “Grueling” is a much more appropriate word. I hope I never take another trip that long. I don’t like being away from my wife, cats, and house at all.

Anyway, I’m back, and mostly recovered from the brainburn, so I expect I’ll be posting regularly once again.

Looking Back at 2001

God knows we’re glad 2001 is over but, in retrospect, it wasn’t all bad.

Rochelle and I are both glad that 2001 is over with. It’s not as though a calendar can mark the boundaries of luck or experience, but as much as the date shouldn’t matter, you can’t help summing a year up into a theme. And 2001 sucked for lots of people.

But it wasn’t all bad. Rochelle and I were fortunate to be able to spend almost two months together, 24/7, and come out on the other side having more fun with each other than ever. It’s good to be married to a good partner.

Both Rochelle and I experienced job changes we hadn’t intended, mine because my company died, and Rochelle because her boss wasn’t right for her. Now we’re both in jobs we like better than what we started with last year, and which are overall more financially rewarding to boot.

We replaced the nasty carpets in much of our house with wonderful hardwood floors. The floors bring joy to us every day, and may go down as the best investment we made in 2001 (not that the others were hard to beat).

Inspired by the success of the floors, we got serious about lighting, and replaced five existing lights with 4 “new” (to us) period fixtures (this was the source of my Fun With Electricity postings). The one that gives me the greatest pleasure is in the office, which replaced a ceiling light and a 500-watt halogen lamp, lighting the office about 20% better using half as much electricity.

We also started in on our water closet renovation, but have stalled on that, because we decided that getting all of the excess crap out of our parlor and office was more important. Both of these jobs will be with us through most of 2002, I predict.

We threw or attended some really good parties, the best of which was Rochelle’s birthday, and the most impressive was David’s birthday. (One of these days we’ll get the food photos from that up on our site.)

We took some nice trips, including Mexico, Texas, and LA. We ate a whole lot of good food on those trips, most of which we photographed, and most of which we’re behind on publishing. A resolution for 2002, surely.

I bought a new Mac and transitioned entirely to Mac OS X. This is something which gives me pleasure daily, for a whole lot of reasons, one of which is that it enabled me to start this weblog.

I said goodbye to Tex, whom I miss dearly, but who is certainly living a better, happier life in her new household, where she’s the top kitten, with cat companions she likes, neither of which was true in our house.

Rochelle and I both made tremendous progress on our crap reduction and abatement programs, though we clearly have more to accomplish in 2002 (another resolution).

I’m sure we accomplished many other things we’re happy with in 2001, and my feeble mind can’t remember them. That’s why one of my resolutions for this year is to regularly update this weblog. I’m a little behind at this point…

Waking Up to Danger

Two cats that hate each other, in one bed, on top of me. That spells d-a-n-g-e-r, with a capital “D”.

This morning I had a near-death experience. Somehow, after Rochelle had left for work, both Billie and Basta ended up on the bed with me, with nothing more than a blanket between them.

It started out safe enough, with Billie under the covers, stretched across my chest. Then Basta jumped onto the bed, in her best ready-for-combat fashion, and I had to wake up fully to avoid being shredded to ribbons (we don’t clip any of the cats’ claws).

Basta, after sniffing around, settled in the crook of my arm, right next to Billie. Literally only the thickness of two blankets separated them. They both knew the other was there, as Billie heard Basta’s chittering and purring, and Basta had obviously smelled Billie.

The usual course is for Billie to slink out of bed and flee. For some reason that didn’t happen today. I was sure it could only end badly if both stayed, but after 20 minutes of both cats purring loudly and contentedly, it was me who finally needed to get out of bed to go to work. Somehow I managed that without starting a cat fight over my body. Or I would be going to the emergency room instead of the office.

NYE 2001: The End

The last story of our trip to LA for NYE2001.

So I’ve already told the beginning of our trip, here’s the ending (don’t worry, the middle parts are coming too, in later posts). Although we were really only gone for two days, and only completely gone for one full day, our cats punished us.

Viciously. If you have cats, you know what I mean here.

Because we were too tired to deal with changing the bed linens, Rochelle and I had to sleep on the opposite side of the bed (our heads at the foot of the bed), cast aside multiple pillows, and even then Rochelle was woken up repeatedly because of the strong odor.

The next day, when I returned from work, I gagged as I came in the door. Besides the bed, Cecil had nailed our central heating vent, which meant the whole house smelled like cat piss. Very Bad News.

New sheets and blankets, some incense, a lot of open windows, and about 40 gallons of Nature’s Miracle later, we were able to breath, and go to bed.

Needless to say, we’re never again leaving Cecil in the house when we go on vacation, even when someone is taking care of the house (as was the case this trip).

Horrible End, Part Two

The story continues, literally while I typed the first…

OK, it’s worse. Rochelle and I were in fact recounting last night’s incident, laughing hysterically, when he committed his second felony in two days. Literally while I was working on the first cat shit story, Cecil went to the front of the house and took another enormous dump.

Once again, Rochelle dropped a paper towel in place and ran, and once again I got to “be the man” and handle the really foul stuff.

I think this means that Rochelle is on catbox duty for a few weeks.

“A Horrible End to a Beautiful Meal”

That was Rochelle’s way of describing what happened when she cleaned up a recent cat…mess.

OK, this one is gross. Don’t read if you don’t want to read something gross.

You’ve been warned.

Last night Rochelle and I went to EOS, a local restaurant and wine bar, for one of their weekly wine flights (in December all of the flights are Champagne). Along with our wine we had some wonderful food. EOS is truly one of the outstanding restaurants in SF.

We got home about 8:00pm, and after puttering around the house and the computer for a while, we were both in bed by 9:15pm. After I dropped my book to nodding off for the third time, we decided it was an early night, around 9:45pm, and switched off our lights.

About a half-hour later, Rochelle decided she needed some water and an Advil, and got up. “Oh no.” was quickly followed by “Oh my god!!” and then “You won’t believe what Cecil did.”

Knowing better than to get up, I stayed in bed. The scent found me anyway.

At first it was the usual cat poop smell, which you get used to after you’ve cleaned a litterbox a few times. Then it got a bit worse, and I decided to hold the blanket in front of my face until Rochelle cleaned it up (it was, after all, her cat that committed the crime). Then it was so bad I needed to seek fresh air.

I got out of bed to find Rochelle headed for the front door, gagging, in the hopes of getting fresh air. The odor in the hallway was overpowering, and when I snapped on the light in the dressing room and stepped in to see the magnitude of the incident, I started gagging too.

Let’s just say the Cecil is an old cat, and his digestive system is doing unnatural things to his food. The amount of cat shit, in two distinct, solid piles, was more than a human puts out in a normal day. Unbelievable.

Rochelle had managed to throw a paper towel on top of each pile before being completely overcome. I handled the rest of the clean-up, and barely managed to not throw up.

Rochelle was not so lucky. She threw up three times, at either end of the house, when the fresh air wasn’t enough to overcome the smell. The first time she had to run the length of the house, hand over her mouth, to get to the toilet. The others went into the kitchen sink.

Hence the title of our little story today. Aren’t you glad you read it?

Fun With Electricity, Part Two

Wherein I continue to do stupid things with live wires.

So, yes, there’s a part two, and yes, it involves more stupid behavior with electricity.

Three days ago I came home to find Rochelle and Dante drinking, and drunk, and cold, because our house heater was broken. Being sober, and a problem-solver, I went to collect our little space heater from the front room.

When I got there I tried to unplug it from the extension cord it was attached to, and discovered that Cecil had peed on it, and the two had apparently fused together. The plug would come a little ways out, but then wedged.

It seemed less stupid than it actually was to try to pry the two apart with a screwdriver — without unplugging the extension cord. I guess I got lucky, but the short circuit definitely knocked out power to that room, and melted two notches into the screwdriver.

Rochelle made me buy a book about ’lectricity. Think I’ll read it.

The Mouser

Billie knows how to make Rochelle scream in the middle of the night: bring her a mouse!

Last night, after we had switched off the lights to go to sleep, our bed started growling. Not creaking, not groaning, and not from us moving. From the fierce little monster underneath it.

Usually when Billie growls it’s because she’s fending off Basta, or just complaining that Basta is looking in her direction. But since we had just locked Basta away for the night, we knew that wasn’t it. And when she didn’t stop after a couple of growls, or even 10 minutes, we knew we had to do something about it.

Peering under the bed, I could see Billie, and I could see Five, the neighborhood cat who visits our house for food and occasional head scratching (she comes in an open window that’s a good 12 feet off the ground). But Billie never growls at Five!

Then Rochelle screamed.

She had noticed what I had somehow not: that Billie had a mouse hanging half way out of her mouth. That’s what Five wanted, and that’s what Billie was growling to defend.

It turns out Billie had been chasing the thing around our bedroom, including under our bed, all evening, and had finally worn it down enough that it was no longer fun to play with. Plus now Five wanted in on the action.

It took a couple of tries (she kept slashing at me), but eventually I got the mouse from Billie, and disposed of the remains.

Although Cecil is the all-time champion mouser in the household, it’s because he’s had 15 years to accumulate his kills. Billie is clearly out for the record, though, with two catches in as many weeks. Last time Billie caught a mouse she ate it and then…well, never mind. We just don’t need that to happen again.

The Jumper

Our littlest one, Billie, is constantly chased by one of our other cats, and hides out under our bed during the day. When we get home, she’s so starved for attention that she’s developed a cute trick: jumping. Onto us.

Our littlest one, Billie, is the most sweet tempered cat in the house. She is constantly chased and harassed by Basta, and hides out under our bed during the day. When we get home, she’s so starved for attention that she’s developed a cute / annoying trick: jumping.

It started off innocently, getting onto the refrigerator, or a shelf, or the TV, or some other high place, and then stepping onto our shoulders when we came to pet her. Then she started jumping from lower down, still up to our shoulders. The she started jumping from the floor.

As you might guess, jumping onto someone’s shoulders, for a cat, involves good leaping ability, but also good landing ability. In a word, claws.

This is usually OK when you’re wearing a sweatshirt. Less so when you’re wearing a regular shirt, and still less when you have no shirt on at all. Ouch!

Recently things have taken a turn for the weird. Instead of leaping straight up onto us, she’s taken to running up our bodies, climbing us like a tree.

But she still purrs when she gets to the top.