Aby-a-Day – May 31: “Grape” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Grape.”

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Wine is made from grapes.

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And old plastic wine corks make fun cat toys!

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They roll…and they bounce!

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Good times!

Aby-a-Day – May 30: The cats who came before – Part 2 (Friday Flashback)

Originally, there were only going to be two parts to this series…but it turned out, I had so many photos of Harri, I need to break it out into two parts. So now, instead of being part two of two, this is part two of three.

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Harri (Harakka Talonväkiliäinen) was my first cat as an adult. I was 26, and finished with university and in an apartment that could support a cat. He was actually my birthday present, but I didn’t get him until 20 June. I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism at that time, and I actually picked Harri up on the way to June Crown. He spent the weekend camping and it wasn’t until four days later that he finally got to his new home. I was actually his second person. We got him from a man who’d had him two weeks. He’d gotten Harri from the son of the breeder, who lived “in Redding…or Red Bluff. One of those” and hadn’t paid extra to get his papers. I asked why he was getting rid of him and the man told me, “Well, he cries all the time. And I have white carpets, so I can’t leave him alone in the house while I’m at work. I have to keep him in the garage. Well…duh, he’s a Siamese kitten, that’s what they do! I paid the man $100 and took “Siamy” off to the event.

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To say he loved the SCA would be an understatement.

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He embraced it.

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He was squired to a knight, Count Sir Brion Thornbird at his second event. Sir Brion later said that Harri was his most active squire.

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Harri fit right in, drinking from tankards (in fact, throughout Harri’s life, he wouldn’t drink water from bowls; he had to have his water in a cup. People don’t drink from bowls, so neither would he)…

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…hanging out in the Royal Pavillion impressing the ladies…

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…and just generally being the mascot of the West Kingdom for a couple of years. I never left him home alone, so he went to every event that I did.

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He even had his own little pavilion.

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After a while, though, he outgrew it, and that style of pavilion didn’t really fit his Viking persona, so…

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…he upgraded to a genuine Viking A-Frame. He also had a miniature rope bed with a futon mattress, a steel raised firepit, and, of course, his own heraldic banner.

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Of course, no matter what tent he himself had, he still crashed in my tent, too.

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Harri was my best buddy, very much the same way Jacoby is now.

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He was even “Best Cat” at my first wedding!

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Harri was one of the bravest cats I have ever known. For some reason I never figured out, he hated dogs. He considered them the ultimate evil. He would insert himself physically between me and any dog, and he would attack if the dog came too close. We used to go for walks in Golden Gate Park, and when we’d encounter a dog, I’d tighten Harri’s leash. “Oh, don’t worry,” the dog owner would invariably say. “He likes cats!” “That’s great,” I’d respond. “HE hates dogs.”

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Harri was a great cat. He and Sgt. Pepper actually met once (the crossover between my childhood cats and my adult cats) and I know I have those photos, but I haven’t been able to locate them yet. He did have a lot of energy and, as an only cat, he used to stage running attacks on my ankles. This started to get a bit painful, so when he was three, I adopted a friend for him.

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At the time, I was working for a weekly newspaper taking classified ads over the phone. I happened to take a call from a man who needed to rehome a redpoint Siamese cat because his son was suddenly allergic. We got to talking and…well, let’s just say that ad never made it into the newspaper. Sigrid was six years old, a retired CFA Grand Champion. I can’t remember the cattery name but her call name was Sugar…which I promptly changed to Sigrid.

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Harri loved her right from the start. She was such a wonderful, beautiful cat…and I have so few photos of her.

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The SFSPCA would have photos with Santa every Christmas. These are some of the only photos I have left of her now.

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I had Harri and Sigrid together for three years, during which time I moved from Chico to Sacramento to San Francisco. But then Harri was still an active 6 year old who weighed 12 lbs, and Sigrid was an elderly 9 year old who weighed 8 lbs. It was clear that Harri needed a more energetic pal to roughhouse with. And that’s when I adopted Patrick.

More about Harri and Patrick next week.

Aby-a-Day – May 29: On the Dais

I just got the photos that were taken of us during the AARP Life @ 50+ event at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center that we participated in earlier this month. All of these photos were taken by Scott Amundson Photography for United Healthcare especially for the event and are used with permission.

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Before the presentation, we just mingled with visitors and other United Healthcare participants.

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Including this box character, who was wearing those flashing tentacle head boppers.

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Turns out, Mr. Box is a cat person! Who knew? I asked him if he was related to the Progressive Insurance box, but he declined to answer.

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The presentation explained the benefits of animal-assisted therapy, not just for the elderly in nursing homes but also for people affected by disaster (the Boston Marathon bombing, the Newtown shootings) and children learning to read.

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While the presentation was going on, the animal therapy teams sat at a table.

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Jake, of course, was completely fine with this. This is basically what he does at cat shows, too.

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Sit on a table, look out at the audience, and generally be awesome.

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Interestingly, during the presentation, people would come up and talk to us. I hadn’t seen that happen at presentations before, but it was cool. Jake was happy to have some more attention.

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Unless, of course, there was something interesting on the screen!

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After the presentation, there was a short Q&A session, moderated by Christine.

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And then more people came up to talk to us.

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I loved talking to this woman! I’m so happy they got a photo of her. She was from California and we had a lot in common. I didn’t get her name, though, but I did give her a blog card.

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Jake wasn’t the only star of the show, of course. Here’s Sophie and her human LeeAnn – you can see Jake’s stroller in the background.

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Ralphie (the “other Abyssinian”) and his human Nikki made a lot of friends. A lot of people have owned Guinea Pigs in their lives!

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Since Boo is so short, she and her human Deb sat on the floor. Deb is the program coordinator of Paws for People, the local chapter of Pet Partners.

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After the presentation, we wandered around the United Healthcare booth (as I posted on 15 May) and then we had our portraits done. I LOVE this one of Jake and I. I want to use it as our new ID badge photo when we renew our Pet Partners certification in July. Of course, I’ll need to Photoshop the lettering behind my head out of the picture before I do!

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There was a group portrait, too. Here we all are!

Aby-a-Day – May 28: Wordless Wednesday (I’ve got my eye on you)

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Aby-a-Day – May 27: Hot doggin’ it (Cartoon Tuesday)

This is another true story, shared by Abyfriend Wendy on the Abyssinian Cat Club Facebook group.

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“Well – thought I had seen everything… I was outside grilling hot dogs. On my way back in, Wren brought me the remaining four. These are the kind in natural casing, so they are all connected… It’s funny that she brought them to me, rather than running off with them. Wren is such a funny girl.”

Abyfriend Kim said Wren was bringing the hot dogs back to Wendy so she could cook them for her. Wendy added that “[Wren] had one in her mouth and the rest were dragging behind her on the floor,” and then lamented the fact that she hadn’t had a camera handy. The mental image was just too much to resist.

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – May 26: Red and Ruddy at the Show again (Hipstamatic Monday)

Sunday at the show in Concord, Jacoby got to compete with Meg’s boy Chai Latte (aka Petit Garçon). It’s fun to watch the differences between a younger, not-yet-Granded Aby and a seasoned veteran.

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You can see Garçon in the background as Jake is examined by judge Kathy Calhoun.

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I love how Jake stands tall on the table and surveys the audience and the show hall while he’s being judged.

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He doesn’t play with the toys or climb the pole, but he’s perfectly happy to just stand there. The judges barely need to hold onto him.

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“Hey! I wasn’t finished being admired!”

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Garçon, on the other hand, was very active on the table. Kathy had to keep a good hold on him, you can tell.

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It looks like Jake’s looking on in the background thinking, “What a showoff!”

Aby-a-Day – May 25: Home sweet new house

Jacoby’s black SturdiShelter, usually referred to as his “house,” was originally purchased used for Gun-Hee back in 2007. It was originally meant to be used only for cat shows, but it quickly became a combination clubhouse/time out tent for Gun-Hee and we kept it set up all the time.

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Gun-Hee considered the tent his personal lair. He would steal things – like packages of hot dogs – and carry them back to his den for safekeeping.

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Shortly after Jake’s escalator accident, the tent was reinstated and quickly became Jake’s dining room. Given that Jake’s been using that tent every night for three years, it’s been getting a bit worn. And his ability to push the zippers open with his head hasn’t helped the tent’s longevity.

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We started latching the zippers closed so he couldn’t get out, but that didn’t stop him from trying. And in trying, he’s started to wear through the mesh next to the zipper.

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I patched the worst hole, but there are at least two more holes starting. Unless I can come up with a way to really fix the mesh and not just patch it, his tent needs to be replaced.

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Of course, Jake does have the leopard-print tent that he got for his birthday last year, but I kind of want to keep that one in good shape for cat shows, and the leopard print is a little busy for our living room. It was starting to look like I’d need to buy him a new tent, but they’re a little expensive. I’d gotten very lucky – and found some awesome deals – finding the two tents we have on eBay six years apart. I wasn’t sure I could get that lucky a third time.

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But I did. At the Seacoast cat show in Concord earlier this month, a navy Sturdi single show shelter was one of the items in the silent auction. I saw a chance to get a new tent for a lot less than full price.

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And I actually managed to win it!

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I also saw an advantage to setting up a single rather than a double. When Jake eats in his house, he really only uses one side. He eats on the floor and then hangs out on the hammock until we let him out.

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So the new tent takes up less floor space and serves the same purpose, but Jake doesn’t feel any less comfortable in there.

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There’s another advantage to the single: it has a side door, and the side door is set in only canvas, not mesh. I set the new tent up with the main mesh door facing the wall and only let Jake in and out though that side door. So far, it’s been working really well. He hasn’t tried to push the zipper open yet.

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But does Jake like his new fort?

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Oh, yeah. I’d say he’s definitely already quite fond of it.