Friday, November 9, 2012

Honor and Mom Tribute to Bob Ross

Honor and I painted this on Corel Paint Shop Pro, using my Wacom tablet.

We were inspired by watching this happy little video of Bob Ross

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Teaching Cats New Scams.. I mean… Tricks

Dogs do a lot of wonderful things, and they are easier to train no doubt, but cats are very clever. Very clever really. Ours fetch, and will stand up on their hind legs for pets and praise. Pixie opens drawers to look for paintbrushes. I’m hoping to eventually train them to use the toilet (seriously, I have ordered a litter kwitter) we’ll see how that goes. So, what other tricks might a cat learn? Leave it to Honor to come up with something creative, so, I’m not too shocked that she decided to teach her cats to be con artists.

First she gave a lecture on the basic concept of the classic shell game.


Then she played a few practice rounds with them, with a bit of the toy poking out from under, just a little, to get the cats interested in playing along. They toy is a pipe cleaner, btw, an absolute favorite plaything.

She was still practicing with her students, with the toy completely hidden, until I sent the kids on up to bed. If the cats improve their skills, I’ll get another video. In the meantime, if any cute cats catch your eye, draw you over to their card table, and bring out the shells, or cups or whatever… Hold on to your wallet.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Falkie – R.I.P

Last Thursday, I just happened to look out on my patio and see a little dark shape on my wall. At first, I thought it was just a dove or a pigeon…


But no… that’s the wrong shape.

I went closer, and realized that we had a small raptor sitting out there. I quietly got the camera and snapped a few photos from inside, but I couldn’t get the lighting right, so I eased open the door and tried again. That’s when I realized that something wasn’t quite right.

Birds can be skittish, even tame birds, and this one looked at me alertly, but barely moved. I walked closer and got a few more photos, and could see that its leg was hurt. It wasn’t breathing hard, acting frightened, or trembling, so I don’t think it was afraid of me. It must have belonged to somebody and become lost. ?Maybe?

When the kids got home from school, both went out to visit, then, animal lover Honor helped me keep an eye on him (her?). We have feral cats and I didn’t want it attacked. I was very concerned about that! We contacted a local shelter, K’s Path, that rescues animals here, and they told me that they might be able to help the bird if we could bring him in the next day. They have vets and the ability to rehabilitate and release, if possible.


For most of the afternoon, Falkie was very alert and would watch us intently. Tilting his head if talked to. Unfortunately, by evening, he wasn’t moving much and was obviously not well. Birds are so very fragile, and he was hurt. I waited until the sun started to go down because birds quiet down in the dark, then I gently slipped a towel over him and put him in a ventilated box. He barely moved. By nightfall, he had quietly passed away.

Poor Honor had really been hoping that we might be able to have another success story with Falkie, like she did with the baby sparrow that she rescued awhile back, but it was not to be.

Honor helped me wrap him up.


Our friend told us that falcons (and this was a kestrel) represent immortality. “A light in the Darkness”. This one definitely picked the right patio on which to spend its last afternoon. Peaceful, shady, and in the presence of a little girl who loves animals and will never forget him.

K’s Path, as well as the wildlife rehabilitation center, Critter Creek, that we visited in California, both take donations for the work that they do.

Because we NEVER feed her…

Actually, we do feed her, but Ninja LOVES LOVES LOVES tomato sauce. A lot. This can was basically empty when I gave it to her, but she worked hard to get to every single drop.


I tried to get her attention… to get her to look at the camera or ‘talk’ to me, but she was very focused on the extraordinary goodness of her treat. And yes, you do hear the kids in the background carrying on a whole conversation in “Blah blah blah” language. I do not know why…

As for whether or not tomatoes are toxic to cats – I’ve heard rumors, so I’ve checked – it seems that they would have to eat green tomatoes in massive quantities to have any ill effect. Ninja only gets little ‘tastes’… although she would, obviously, like more. For example (although this is not where I read it first) I found this on a vet/answer site and have ‘borrowed’ it, with link:

“Tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family, and IF the dog or cat ate enough of the foliage, stems, etc toxicity is definitely possible, although mild GI upset is the most likely scenario.

Tomatoes contain alpha-tomatine. The concentration from highest to lowest is flowers> small stems > leaves > calyces > small immature fruits. Very little tomatine is in ripe fruit (which is a really good thing considering how much I love tomatoes).

The estimated toxic dose, assuming 5% tomatine in the leaves, is 1 kg leaves/ 100 kg bw. So pretty much true toxicity is a large animal thing.

Charlotte Means, DVM, MLIS
Veterinary Poison Information Specialist
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Read more: My vet said it was OK for cats to ingest tomatoes/sauce. - JustAnswer