Tag Archives: cat

Time stands still

It has been a very different time these past months, and unlike the rest, I’m going to try to focus on the good in writing this post.

Taking an evening walk with my cat down the long straight road a ways (I usually carry him one-way, he drags me back on his leash the other way), we encounter some bicycles (he ducks down when they pass by), people walking their dogs (resulting in a bushy tail with the larger breeds – and then I pick him up until the disturbance passes), a lone jogger, the occasional horse, or perhaps a stroller.

It is so quiet. It seems almost like a different century, perhaps the 18th or 19th. The frenetic pace of modern society seems to have come to a complete standstill. The pink super moon just a short while ago was incredibly bright in the sky. Stars twinkle and can easily be seen. The usual smog and bad air are gone. My youngest brother told me he even saw a string of satellites above.

The quails I often see and that sometimes go almost unnoticed, now stand out with their pronounced calling, as sadly do the wild turkeys (they are lucky they don’t taste like butterballs), with hardly any other sounds or cars around. The sparrows that I feed every morning are getting accustomed to me, and when Calvin is sitting outside on his leash they ignore him as they hop about, sometimes they are almost within his reach as they peck at their food. As I told some friends, I know our heavenly father feeds them, but I’m supplementing their breakfast. The live and let live attitude among sparrow and cat is makes me happy.

It was a blessing to be able to watch some Easter services online and to listen to music this weekend. That’s using technology for good!

I try to  joke with the grocery store clerks when I go shopping (wiping my hand basket with a clean wipe before entering the store of course) or at least smile. They clerks and nurses bearing the brunt of this, and welcome any friendliness or cheerfulness – I can tell. Where is all the TP and PT? Really folks? It may however be an unexpected economic boon for the producers who may be wiping their hands with those extra towels.

Instructions have been given out and people seem to be heeding them. As opposed to similar things that happened a century ago, we now have the luxury of instant communication, and there do seem to be a few sensible leaders left who are looking out for the common good. I find it is best though just to turn off the news and focus on the beauty of time standing still.

What was that recent expression or fad? “Slow food”? When I grew up that was how you ate – enjoying your food and giving thanks to God and the hands that tended to and prepared the food.

I found some trout for $4.99 a pound today. It is seasoned now, residing in the fridge, but will be cooked tomorrow. Tonight I think I will have some leftover lemon-rosemary Risotto (you can find this tasty recipe in Saveur Magazine), and a little Wayne Shorter to go with it.

Have a blessed evening.

Cat on a Leash

Putting a cat on a leash is not logical, as Mr. Spock would probably say. Nonetheless, when I saw warning signs about coyotes and mountain lions at the entrance station to the regional park and was subsequently informed by the ranger on duty of feral cats and poison oak in said locale as well, I deemed it as a good decision that I purchased a leash some weeks ago. The first harness and leash fitting attempt were at a park in Napa, where my son Patrick and I had stayed together for a night. Patrick made a suggestion at the time that I should practice with the harness on my stuffed manatee which I use for a pillow, as I was having trouble following and visualizing the printed instructions of putting the harness on a feline. This turned out to be a great idea. Now to try it on the cat: harness attached to cat, to leash, to picnic table leg. Calvin then managed to get tangled up a few times, but did untangle himself before settling down on top of the picnic table – a good vantage point at least – although without roaming possibilities. Disdain and annoyance were clearly visible on his face. An “encouragement” treat was reluctantly accepted after several prior bribery attempts were declined.

Several days past when it rained and then briefly stopped, I attempted to go for “a walk” on the aforementioned leash with Calvin. After first talking to him, then gently nudging him, and finally slowly having to drag him for a few feet (he was flat on the ground and lying sideways for this) I gave up. The look I got while dragging him was indescribable. Perhaps something along the lines of “a walk? On this thing? I don’t think so”. I did dry his wet stomach and feet afterwards, and he smelled wonderfully of eucalyptus bark. It was just pitiful how he became a bag of cement on the ground attached to a leash. He made his point unequivocally. Walks may have to be shelved, at least for now.

Erntedanktag 2017

My miniature potted agapanthus dropped its last cerulean blue blossoms just a few weeks ago. I cut the stalks, which are now hanging on my apartment door, bound together by a red rubber band procured from a bunch of broccoli after cooking it. A simple decoration, and a reminder of summer gone by.

The silk tree in the half wine barrel bloomed very late this summer, beautiful to behold, the delicate pink blossoms are a bit reminiscent of the flowers of a bottle brush tree.

When I water all my potted plants in the evening, bees migrate towards the drops of water, happy to drink I’m sure after a day’s work of gathering honey. We get along just fine. I hear meowing upstairs in a very distinctive tone as I water: I have learned to recognize this sound – if means that my cat Calvin is transporting his stuffed mice and/or hedgehogs around and distributing them in the apartment. I am amused. He just doesn’t seem to understand that I cannot see that from downstairs. He is praised later on though  for his thoughtfully distributed presents.

On a culinary note: having picked up some grapes from the farmer’s market, I discovered a recipe for fish with grapes, which turned out quite well. Some of the wineries up in the wine country had their workers pick grapes at night during the hot spell we got here in California several weeks ago, a humanitarian gesture on the part of the growers. During the extreme heat some of those grapes turned to raisins on the vine, a fact not gone unnoticed by the birds I’m sure.

Have a blessed Sunday

November Day

I slept long this morning, but the sun awoke me blinking through the window shades with persistence from the east. It’s funny: When I yawn and stretch, my cat Calvin does exactly the same. Not that I make it a requirement for him to do so — he must assume that we should arise at the same time. Either that or he knows that feeding time is not too far off now. He did miss this little “stereo” routine once, but that was when he was hiding from the “blue monster” (the garbage truck). Who can blame him?

In just a matter of two weeks and with the cold nights that now about, the leaves of the two maples sitting in their pots on the stairway have turned from green to golden-yellow and carmine just like that. They have decided that it is indeed fall, a concept that many California trees fail to grasp.

A two-for-one coupon encourages me to make a trip to Jamba Juice. And no: my cat does not drink Jamba Juice. As I enter the store, I see Christmas decorations. Sigh — tis the season of merchandising again. As I point this out to the manager, he shrugs his shoulders: “corporate”, “but I wont’ put on the Christmas music until after Thanksgiving”, he adds. I give him a high-five as I leave with my juice.

On my computer calendar I notice that it is only 10 days until the 1. Advent. The year seems to have gone by fast, at least part of it for me. I almost miss the beautiful sunset as I’m typing, as God tells me to pay attention and I look toward the west out of my office window to catch the last dance of color in the sky. 

Laziness

I started to read a small book that has been sitting on a shelf for an inordinate amount of time. Transported here from Germany some years ago, it is the top book of a diminutive stack of books and thus the main candidate for collecting dust, much to its annoyance I’m sure. Even more inexcusable than not reading it, is the fact that there are only a few books around the apartment (most of my books are in boxes in storage) and the television has no reception here — probably a good thing. Thus — dust brushed off — the initiative to finally read it is taken.

The book states that it is a collection of light humor by a broad variety of authors. I started reading, but found the dust jacket statement to be an exaggeration and I almost put the book away, only to find a gem of a story just before doing so: an amusing anecdote about laziness. Not exactly a virtue by any means, but the author has taken great care to expand on the subject, of course at a very leisurely pace.

Having enjoyed the short story immensely, (sitting in a lawn chair outside while reading it — appropriate to the subject matter) I walked back upstairs to the apartment and what did I see? My lazy cat, who had managed to get his lazy cat butt off the kitchen chair where he had been sleeping when I went downstairs, only to move the short distance to my office in my absence to sleep under the table, exactly to where the last ray of sunshine was falling, caressing his tummy — his eyes closed in great pleasure. Words failed me at the sight, but a chuckle did escape me.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you this week and give you rest, and perhaps a ray of sunshine on your tummy.

3. Advent

As I think about the day today, evening has slowly come. The full moon is rising in the east, peeking through some branches in the distance. The sun which has now set, was low on the horizon today as I took an afternoon walk, half closing my eyes while walking, marveling at it’s warmth in late December — a real treat after the cold spell last week. Church was sparsely attended this morning — I guess a sign of the times, as people forget, or don’t know the real reason for the season, the birth of God’s son. I am grateful I could attend. As Jesus said, “where two or three are gathered in my name”. After a busy week, with the joy of seeing both my sons briefly and enjoying their culinary skills, it was a quiet Sunday today in comparison. I had to chuckle as I sat in my chair for a cup of tea, having lit the third Advent candle, as my cat Calvin, the little doofus, decided to chase a pistachio across the floor at full speed oblivious to the peace of the candles.

Have a blessed week

Snooze

Naptime

Nap-time

It’s been a restful Lord’s Day today, with beautiful warm weather. My dad would have been 89 today. There were many hummingbirds in the yard — his, and many in our family’s favorite bird — he would have been delighted.

On Friday however, it was a different matter, when I drove down to Hollister, attending to an errand for my youngest son. It was a whopping 95° F. when I got there with traffic aplenty. I was expecting my navigation system to complain about this excessive heat. I know, I would, if I was sitting under a hot windshield — and I would have asked for a glass of ice tea, or lemonade perhaps.

Several tractors plowing fields on the left of Highway 156, just past Gilroy, were stirring up clouds of dust driving on the rich dark soil. To my right several large broccoli fields. I love looking at the vast expanse of the different kinds of fields in the valley, the golden hills with their stately old gnarled oaks on them, spaced apart just right, surrounding the valley.

Having completed my errand, I enquired directions (inside the office building, so as not to hurt Ms. Navigation’s feelings) on how to get to Mission San Juan Bautista, one of California’s Missions, that sits on El Camino Real, and also the San Andreas Fault. For decades I had passed signs on Highway 101 attesting to its presence, but I never got off the highway before, always eager to arrive at my final destination, be it north, or south. After receiving instructions, I left.

I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived. San Juan Bautista has the typical feel of a small California Central Valley town — a place that time forgot. One can picture it in a John Steinbeck novel. I parked at the Mission, and then stepped inside. The temperature drop inside must have been at least 30 degrees. The old — four to five foot thick adobe walls — have a natural air conditioning effect. After visiting the museum, I spent a few quiet moments in the Mission church, and then stepped out into the huge courtyard, greeted once again by the heat and olive trees, passion flowers, oleanders, and palms — a Mediterranean garden — peaceful and well maintained.

After exploring the garden I went back into the Mission and chatted briefly with the entrance fee collector. To my surprise, as I was leaving — I saw a cat sleeping on a chair — content of course inside the cool adobe building. I had passed the cat coming in, but hadn’t noticed it. I petted it, and it didn’t even bother to open it’s eyes. Siesta time, Mr. tourist — you may depart now.

Have a blessed week (and some naps).

At the pet store

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

Doing my feeding duty to stock up on cat food for my “Haustier” (translated from German that means house, or domestic animal), and replenishing a bag of bird seed as well, I wandered into an unknown aisle on my way to the pet supply store cashier, and came upon “Lizard Litter” — prompting a loud laugh at the sight. What will they think of next? I have been the reluctant recipient of various sections of lizard in the summertime before, proudly brought home by my cat Calvin — for which I praised him of course, as it was a present — but then disposed of right away, sometimes helping a tailless, but happy and relieved lizard regain his outdoor status. To keep them as “pets” seems against nature to me, but to actually sell lizard litter — absurd. What’s next, toilet paper and air freshener? I can’t make heads or tails of this matter.

A recent wave of warm weather, has caused the elms in my neighbors’ yard to sprout fresh green leaves, while at the same time dropping their blossoms. When a sudden wind gust comes up, it looks like it is snowing, as the little petals dance and drift through the air.

Many red flowers are blooming now, and this has attracted quite a few hummingbirds — my favorite birds. Sometimes they fight and chase each other at breathtaking speeds, all the while chirping at the top of their voice. God’s most delicate bird. One erred into my loft just last week, but got out by himself. I have had to help a few baby hummingbirds over the years, who would fly against the window, unable to find their way out. It is a miracle to hold something so soft and delicate in your hands. The hummingbird you see here, I carved and painted on a ceramic tile.

May red flowers and hummingbirds brighten your week, and don’t step in any lizard litter.

Ladybugs and elephants

I saw my first ladybug of Spring. She flew into the windshield (Thank God the car was parked), crawled up and down the glass investigating matters, decided the windshield wasn’t that interesting, and departed. I hope onto greener pastures, abundant with aphids. Such delightful bugs they are. Her visit reminded me of an amusing book I used to read to my sons when they were young — “The Grouchy Ladybug“.

The other night there were some fireworks after the baseball game (heard but not seen), which sent my cat Calvin racing under my photo supply table behind a basket into the furthest corner he could possibly squeeze into. As you may be able to deduct from this retreat, he is not fond of fireworks at all. However, this behavior is in stark contrast to when he sleeps on my legs while I’m watching a movie — when sometimes the sound can get loud. Go figure. I wonder what goes on in that little cat brain of his.

Having come from the Farmer’s Market with some home-made asparagus soup, and a batch of green onions, I went into my local supermarket to complete my grocery shopping. Putting the gathered items on the conveyor belt, I was questioned as to whether I had brought my own bag, or if I would like to purchase a paper one. I responded, that unlike an elephants’, my memory is rather faulty, and that I would like a paper one. The cashier then suggested that it might be of benefit to consume some peanuts. Triumphantly, I held up a can of peanuts at the end of the conveyor belt. “Well there you go”, she said surprised, and amused.

May a ladybug fly across your path this week, and some peanuts bring back good memories.

Hearts and blossoms

Magnolia

Magnolia

I woke up last Thursday morning to the sound of raindrops, our first rain of the year. It was a really dry January for California. Thank God we had so much rain in December, that the Sierras are storing up in the form of snow. My cat Calvin was lying on “his” bed observing the rain, with no intention of getting up to go outside, which is normally his custom at this hour. After I opened the back door and the fresh moist air came streaming in, he changed his mind, and after stretching as only cats can do, decided to go out to investigate the goings on — perhaps there was a squirrel to be put in its place, or other business to attend to. On days like this I keep a paper towel next to my computer, for wiping his feet when he returns, as I get tired of wiping off his footprints from the top of my desk, something he seems oblivious to, despite the fact that he is the perpetrator, and that they are clearly visible. On a side note: I finally saw the extraordinary movie “Life of Pi”. A gem among the maze of junk out there. I will have to rent it, so Calvin can see his big brother, hopefully without emulating some of the poorer behavior.

It is February, the acacia trees are starting to bloom all around my loft, exuding their sweet spring smell.

Thursday afternoon — I take a stroll, stopping in at the French bakery for a rustic baguette. The bread slicer I have been told about still has not come in to do its slicing duty, so manual bread knife mode will be the home remedy to this situation. The cold air is definitely an unwanted guest from Alaska once again this year, but the sun is out, patches of blue sky can be seen through the puffy marshmallow clouds, A house I walk by still has an eucalyptus wreath on it — in February! The different species of magnolia trees are in various stages of bloom now, their leaves however still playing peek-a-boo. A red camellia I pass has shed itself of numerous blossoms, the petals bringing color and life to the drab concrete sidewalk.

I see some paper Valentines in a window — a little girl has been very busy. Hearts for the world to see.

Have a blessed week and a happy Valentines Day,

Matthias Leue