Nov. 1st, 2012 10:58 am
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
When I was starting the sixth grade, my mom and I went to the animal shelter and got two Siamese-looking kittens. They were both pretty amazing and wonderful cats, and one of them, Kitsune, died a little less than a year ago. Well, my mom let me know that the second cat, Kaji, has now passed away too. He had some health issues in his later years, but my mom took really wonderful care of him. I'm really sad he is gone, but happy that he had such a long and nice life (he was 18). Here is a picture from a visit home a few years back, and if you have cats please hug them.

clevermynnie: (smile)
Remember how we couldn't bring our cats to Ireland until a couple months after moving here, so a friend in Philly took care of them while their quarantine period finished up? It was a big load off our minds to get pictures of our cats and stories about their behavior and well-being, while we were finding an apartment here and getting everything set up.

Well, something that has made me really happy: our friend just adopted a cat of her own! She and her boyfriend, who've now moved in together but were both instrumental in the care of our cats, listed us as references for the cat adoption and so we were able to tell the adoption people about how wonderful these friends are. And now they have their own cat at home!

I think this makes me so happy for several reasons: remembering how great it was to have them care for our cats, knowing that they will be great cat owners, and knowing that even if Ben and I can't adopt any more animals at the moment, other people can.


Dec. 31st, 2011 09:16 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
This was going to be my year in books post, but I got the news that one of the cats I grew up with is gone, so instead I dug up this picture of me and her from a couple years back to share.


We got Kitsune when I was in the sixth grade, 17 years ago. She was always unbelievably sweet and cuddly, and I will miss her.


Dec. 12th, 2011 04:12 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
There are so many things I love about weekends here.

I love eating the food that Ben cooks for me, pot roast and pan-fried fish and stuffing and roasted potatoes and the like, and figuring out good beer pairings like oysters with Kelpie.

I love walking around or heading out to a market or hike if it's clear, and when it's rainy I love relaxing with some tea on our extremely comfortable couch, reading and sharing fun tidbits.

I love going to the greengrocer or the off-license with the great beer or the butcher or the health food store, because there are so many great little shops in our neighborhood. We can buy fresh scones around the corner every morning!

I love playing D&D remotely with our Philadelphia group. We started a new campaign where I play a bard, which means I can cut people with my words!

I love going for a low-key run and finding that I can go faster and faster without trying very hard, and coming home to hot soup and a shower.

And I love having our cats here!



Nov. 24th, 2011 11:24 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
It's a little odd to have, instead of a big family-oriented holiday, just another Thursday. But I love eating Thanksgiving food, so I've already got cranberries and Ben and I will likely make the full spread this weekend.

I have been reading a lot about gratitude recently, prompted by a podcast about happiness that I started listening to. I think I do a reasonable job of staying conscious of all the things I am lucky to have, and of communicating gratitude to people who deserve it (which is quite a lot of people). But it's interesting how essential gratitude is to a happy disposition (oh, I guess the New York Times just wrote about this as well).

One of the most exciting things to be happy for recently is the arrival of our cats! Our friend took care of them in Philadelphia through the end of their quarantine period, and they arrived here in Ireland last week, care of the pet transit company that Ben found. It was a long trip for them, so upon arriving here they were apparently more glad to be out of their carriers than nervous about the apartment. And they seem to be doing great! They are both very affectionate with us, they seem to be eating, drinking, and sleeping normally, and they are also playful as usual. I think it may have been harder to move them to our friend's house than moving them here, but then I didn't get to see their behavior when they were on the plane or getting driven around (which they usually do not like). And there is plenty of stuff here that they recognize, our belongings and us of course. It is very, very nice to have our cats back.

house cats

May. 14th, 2011 11:24 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
I took our cats to the vet this week to get their rabies blood tests, which is what starts the six month timer before we would be able to take them to Ireland (without them being quarantined there). It was not a lot of fun but they seemed to recover quickly.

looking out the window

cat and medals
clevermynnie: (smile)
Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and Ben and I are heading up to Lancaster by train to celebrate it with his family that just moved out here. I am excited about it, and excited about the race this weekend, but I thought I would take this opportunity to post pictures I took awhile back of a few (just a few!) of the things I am always thankful for. Which is to say my cats, my sweets, my guild, my marathons, my home.

ben and blinn


blinn forums


Aug. 30th, 2009 10:01 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
After my oral exam, Ben and I had planned to go to Rehoboth Beach Saturday, to see the ocean, relax a little, and also hit up the Dogfish Head brewpub which is there. But alas, Tropical Storm Danny was off the coast so the forecast there as well as here was for thunderstorms and rain. We decided not to waste the trip, and Saturday did end up being rainy; I was caught in a huge cloudburst on my way back from the store to pick up extra tomatoes for zaalouk. I think as a result I felt a bit cooped up all weekend, at least other than this morning when I went for my 18-mile run. I feel slow because of the heat but at least I'm getting the mileage in. I actually had my highest mileage week ever the week before last, which was cool; last week was supposed to be a cut-back week which is lucky given how little time I had because of my oral.

On a completely unrelated note, one of our cats (Blinn we think) has started peeing in the bathtub. It's a little gross but honestly fairly convenient; it uses up litter less quickly and is easy to clean up. If only he could learn to use the toilet... he has flushed it a few times while playing with the handle, but he also drinks out of it.

Remember how I lost my wedding ring? I finally got a new one. I had been using a replacement for several months, on the slim hope that once the snow melted in the mountains where it fell off that someone could find it, but it was gone. So we finally went and got me a new one. What's kind of funny is that shortly before we did that, Ben lost his. He was trying to take a nap in our bed and apparently his ring felt itchy, so he took it off, but he couldn't remember where he'd put it because he was sort of asleep at the time. He told me, we turned our bedroom upside down and moved everything around looking for it, but didn't find anything. I was pretty sad just because it was important to me to still have one ring from our wedding, but we didn't seem able to find it. Then, that night, we had turned out the lights and were snuggling and talking a little before going to sleep. I rolled over to get more comfortable and felt something metallic against my foot: it was his ring! It got in the bedclothes somehow way down by our feet, and we hadn't turned out the bedclothes (partly because he thought he had put it on a table). It was really nice, after trying to accept that both our wedding rings were gone and while I was actively thinking about how great Ben was, to suddenly find it. It made me feel a bit better about never finding mine.

We watched the movie Rio Bravo this weekend, and I was extremely surprised to hear several of the main characters singing a song together which is a song we used to sing in my Girl Scout troop. You can see the clip of it here. It's called "My Rifle, My Pony and Me"; when I told Ben that we used to sing it in Girl Scouts, he asked, "did you change that line?" I guess most people don't think of Girl Scouts as promoting gun use, but you know, we were all about self-reliance and the wilderness. Also, the song can be sung as a call and response which is easy to teach.

Purple light in the canyon,
that's where I long to be
With my three good companions
Just my rifle, my pony, and me
clevermynnie: (Default)
I didn't mention it but we've now had our cats for over a year. We got them from the PSPCA shelter in late January 2008. They are by far the most personable cats I've ever had, and they're a constant lift to my spirits. Blinn initially had some health problems but they stopped around 6 months ago, and both seem happy and healthy now. This is, of course, a pretext so that I can post cat photos. :)

emmy cleaning, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

2 more )
clevermynnie: (Default)
After posting that article about running in cold weather, I was ready to get out and run yesterday morning. I put on my running stuff, fed the cats, grabbed a bit of cereal, and then... fell down almost the entire flight of stairs in my house. OW.

See, our stairs are several things: narrow, steep, and very slippery (especially during winter when I am unlikely to be around the house without socks or slippers or both). I am pretty careful going down because the idea of falling down such awful stairs into a wall at the bottom freaks me out, but I guess I wasn't that careful going up the stairs yesterday. One of my feet slipped out from under me, I pitched forward and then slid down all the stairs on my right leg. Of course, sliding down stairs is a relatively good way to fall down a lot of them, so nothing was broken though the leg I fell onto is really bruised, on my shin and my hip; yesterday morning it was hurting really actively if I sat in a chair or tried to walk around, which felt awful, but I took some ibuprofen and didn't go to work until the afternoon, and by then I was feeling better if not particularly good. Probably the least fun thing about it was that Ben is away on the conference, so it felt scary to be alone and in a lot of pain. Plus, if he had been here, he probably would have cleaned all the cereal off the stairs for me.

As I fell down the stairs I yelled something like, "Aaaaa, nooooo!", and shortly after I hit the bottom I heard a huge crash from the kitchen, where the cats had been eating; then Emmy tore out of there and ran past me into the living room. I figured I had probably startled them with my yelling and they knocked something down. While I was slowly sitting up and prodding myself to make sure nothing was broken, Blinn peeked out of the kitchen at me, looking really freaked out, and I called to him a couple times but he wouldn't come over. Well, once I managed to get up and go into the kitchen, I found that he was drenched in water and looked totally bedraggled, except for his tail which was giant and puffy because he was frightened. I was initially perplexed--how did he get that wet? the Brita pitcher is undisturbed and he can't turn on the faucet--and then I spotted a steamer, which had been on the stove with some water in it from the previous night, which was now upended with water all over the floor. I'm still not sure how he turned it over onto himself, but luckily he seemed to be mostly wet and uninjured. Honestly, that took my mind off the pain in my leg while I dried him off, and then I had to coax Emmy out from under the couch where she was also completely freaked out.

So yeah, after the ibuprofen I started feeling better, well enough to go in to campus for the first lecture of a class I am taking on modern optics. I did that, then spent some time working on our first homework assignment (it was not very hard, just a lot of math, but it's due at our second lecture! that's a bit mean). Then I came home at dinner to find that now my computer isn't booting properly... argh. I spent a lot of time working on that last night, with Ben's help over the phone; it seems likely that it's either my power supply or my OS hard disk, which to be fair is 8 years old and tiny. My computer hangs at "Verifying DMI pool data..." and when you go into the BIOS menu it actually doesn't see the OS HDD at all, just my files HDD. Argh. I have an account on Ben's computer, which I'm using because he's not here anyways, but his monitor takes 20 minutes to turn on (long story) and I'm also kind of sad because it doesn't have WoW on it. This may be the impetus I need to reinstall my OS on the bigger, newer drive I have and finally ditch the old one I've been using. And I should really get a power supply that's properly rated; I had a nice one but it died and we fished this one out of the basement.

Ok, I need to drag myself into the cold walk to work. There is some soldering and a vacuum system with my name on it.


Dec. 24th, 2008 05:23 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
Yesterday, we drove south as planned, through Hatch to Deming, and then went west for a long time until finally getting to San Diego at about 1 in the morning. Upon our arrival, we found the room we are staying in with Godiva chocolates on the bed, and a bottle of wine with two glasses on the nightstand. Ben's mom is so incredibly sweet! This will be my first Christmas not in New Mexico since I was four, but it'll be with very kind people.

Today marked the first Christmas Eve ever where I went running on the beach. It was cloudy and cool, but very lovely. One nice thing about running is that if you incorporate it into your travelling, you see more of the places you visit, and it's rather nice running in snowy mountains and then on the beach in the span of a few days. And of course, this trip continues to be characterized by consumption of large amounts of Mexican food (which is more ok, thanks to the running, then it has been in past years).

And finally, hope everyone is having a nice day tomorrow with people you love. My gift to you is... )

fat cats

Nov. 12th, 2008 11:10 am
clevermynnie: (Default)
Does anyone have suggestions on how to get one cat to lose weight in a multi-cat household? What it comes down to is that some cats (for example, most of the cats I grew up with and also Blinn) do fine with unregulated food, and when there is food down all the time they eat enough to maintain a healthy weight. Other cats (for example, one cat I grew up with and Emmy) are unrestrained about their eating when food is available all the time, and gain weight. I can find resources about keeping your cat at a healthy weight, but not about when one feeding strategy works for one cat but not the other. We are trying to figure out a food-restricted diet that coddles Blinn's feeding schedule so he continues to get enough food, but it's really tricky and sort of annoying because it is consisting right now of more and more feedings. We can ask the vet the next time we go in, but that won't be for a few months.

Any suggestions?
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
We have had our cats for about 9 months now! And they are wonderful. Sometimes they sleep with us, and Emmy likes to sleep on my stomach or if I'm on my side, on my waist. Blinn will sleep next to Ben, but at points during the night he will sometimes pick a bit of blanket to knead and bite that's right next to you, so his purring wakes you up. While Ben was gone last week I woke up to tickly whiskers because Blinn was sniffing my face. The problem with cats sleeping with you is that our cats seem to always wake up about an hour before our alarm is set for, and start tearing around and making a lot of noise.

Anyways, the real reason you are all here: cat pictures! )

emmy in a basket, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

By the way, that is an afghan that my mom crocheted for me. It's a sampler so all the colors on each patch are different. We put it into a basket we got recently and the cats seem to like it; plus it's really cute to come home at the end of a long day and find a cat sleeping in a basket.
clevermynnie: (Default)

emmy, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

Recently, it was a weekday morning and I had just gotten back from running. Ben came downstairs to talk to me while I was stretching and the first thing he said was, "Did you see what our cats did?" I shook my head, and he went on, "What they brought us? Outside our bedroom door?" While I was out on my run, they had thoughtfully deposited a dead mouse there. For us, their big friends who pet and feed them! This is gross but kind of nice, since before we had cats we had an on and off mouse problem, finding mouse droppings around and occasionally a mouse dead from natural causes. We never left anything edible out on the kitchen counters, even in a box or under plastic wrap, because we would find gnaw-marks on it later. So now our mouse problem is more or less solved. Yesterday I came home and walked into the bathroom to find the front two-thirds of a dead mouse, partially cached under the bathmat. I would prefer that they just ate it and I never had to see it, but still, that is a mouse that will not be licking our silverware or pooping on our counters.

I like the aesthetics of cats; they are fast, sleek, playful, and very cute. I grew up with them, so their actions and movements are also reassuring in a way. But what is a little weird to think about is that cats are deadly predators, and most of their 'cute' actions are deadly and brutal, but look cute to us because a housecat is much too small to take down a person, or even a child. They bat at things to see if they are alive, make sounds at birds while imagining crushing the birds' throats in their jaws, savage toy mice. The only exception, for our cats at least, is that they are very cuddly with us, and will snuggle up with us or on our laps and lick us to clean us if we let them, and this is a pack behavior rather than a killing behavior. I'm not saying this is a bad thing either, just one that you can forget the basic meaning of after having cats for a long time.

We got a bird feeder to put outside our kitchen window for the purpose of entertaining our cats. They love watching birds, but there is also a lactating squirrel that keeps coming to steal the seeds. This would be bad if we cared about feeding the birds over the squirrel, but the cats also like watching the squirrel hang down from the roof and pick at the seeds, so I suppose our goal of cat entertainment is being met.

cat tv, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

On Saturday a stray cat came to our backyard and sat below the window meowing to our cats, who meowed back. She was very small, probably not older than 6 months, white with a gray tail and face. I assume she was a stray, at least, since she was really hungry and didn't have a collar. I felt really sorry for her and put out some food, with the result that she came back Sunday, and yesterday night, and I saw her this morning on our street. I didn't feed her again but now we are seeing her a lot, and it tears at me to imagine something happening to this poor cat. Ben is opposed to getting another cat, and I suppose I am too. He thinks we should call PACCA, the group that takes in strays and sends them to PAWS, their adoption branch. I am sort of worried because PACCA was outed for having something like an 80% kill rate three years ago, though they replaced their management and two years ago I think it was more like 40%. The PSPCA, where we got our cats, doesn't pick up strays or take them. I am really worried that if we turned in this cat she would be euthanized, but on the other hand she is still very young and very cute so I think in a shelter her chances of being adopted would be great, assuming she doesn't have feline immunodeficiency virus or feline leukemia (both of which are apparently somewhat common in strays around here). Plus I suppose if we turned her in she would be fixed and not be a source of more strays in the future. But I feel some hesitation about this; have any of you ever turned in a stray? Or worked in an animal shelter and can give advice on the best thing to do?


Apr. 15th, 2008 03:16 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)

cleaning, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

Recently Ben and I came home from the grocery store to find that the cats had caught a mouse! A live mouse, that is. They have ample training to recognize and pursue mice from their days as strays and all the tiny mouse toys we get them, but unfortunately they fell into that age-old housecat trap... they would put the mouse in their mouths, then when he stopped moving they put him on the floor to see if he's alive. When he runs away, one of them picks him up again. They did this several times, the final time by the refrigerator where the mouse vanished. Whoops.

Sometimes when Ben is petting Blinn, Blinn bites him on the chin while looking really happy. Ben always looks a little put out but also a little amused, and I really ought to be keeping the camera on my desk ready to go for just such a moment.


Mar. 3rd, 2008 05:01 pm
clevermynnie: (wealthy young woman-about-town)
Yes, I have turned in to someone who posts about their cats, but I think you should know that ours are getting along really well now. I was worried about this, but we emptied out a spray bottle and started leaving them together but spraying them with water when things got too rough. They spent a day very wet and now play a lot but get hissy and growly a lot less. And we'll find them curled up together asleep on the couch, or on the cat bed Ben put under his monitor to steal them from me. At some point he apparently found them sitting together, licking each other's faces, which is very cute.

The first paragraph was a ruse; this entry isn't entirely about cats. I finally finished the last fellowship application I was working on, in a flurry of signatures, paperwork, and express mail. Which means I applied for three, all national and all really competitive. I have to admit that I don't expect to get any; it's just too reminiscent of the first time I applied to graduate school. Some of them, this is the last year I am eligible, and there are some especially for women that I will still be eligible for next year. But applying to them is so very unpleasant, and sort of expensive with all the transcripts and things that you need. It seems like a waste of time that you could be spending on research, but then I wouldn't sneeze at the extra money. There is a Penn fellowship I would be eligible for except that only one person in each research group can have one, and someone else in my lab already has one. But maybe in a few years I can steal it from her.

I like reading pop neurology books, like Phantoms in the Brain, and I just finished Oliver Sacks' classic The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. It is a series of case studies, and one of his comments really took me aback. He mentioned that Shostakovich was examined by a Chinese neurologist who found a metal splinter in his brain, embedded there no doubt sometime during his military career (from which a lot of his best work comes). He apparently refused to have it removed, and claimed that when he tilted his head to the side, he heard melodies which he made prolific use of in his composing. I was unable to find much confirmation of this on the internet, though, which seems weird for such a cool factoid. The same fact is referred to in a 1998 New Scientist article, though. Apparently Sacks has a new book about the neurology of music, which I should really get from the library.

And also, we received our wedding invitations in the mail and they are beautiful; I'm very happy with them. We also got some quasi-engagement photos in the mail, which were a present from my dad, and I want to see if I can scan them in before giving them to people. I wish I could still ninja Chih's scanner.
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
I have had cats for a week now!

blinn ears, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

emmy, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

I love how they are both perfectly happy to fall asleep in your lap while you watch a movie or play WoW. They are getting along ok now, but still play-fighting a lot and both trying to establish some kind of dominance. They seem very comfortable with both Ben and me, and pretty happy.

What didn't quite occur to me about pound cats, though, is that they are not necessarily in good health initially. The pound screens them for illness and such, and treats what it finds, but not that effectively. So Emmy came home with a cat cold, which then passed to Blinn. We took them to the vet near here on Friday, who gave us some antibiotics to prevent any secondary infections. But since then, Blinn is a lot worse. His nose is really stuffy and you can hear him having a hard time breathing out of it, and he makes these little loogie-hawking noises a lot. And he hasn't eaten or drank very much for the last 36 hours or so, which is more worrying. I am trying to get in to talk to the vet right now, but they didn't answer for the hour or so before they opened, and now the line is busy.

On top of that, the vet confirmed last week that they both have some fleas (even though the pound told me they gave them both flea baths!). Before this we had been letting them sleep in bed with us, but I really don't want our nice new mattress to get infested with fleas. We ordered some Frontline stuff that the vet said worked really well, and it sounds like once the cats are uninhabitable to fleas, any that have come to reside elsewhere in the house will die off, because they need to feed off the cat to survive.

Hopefully these are both short initial bumps, and since our cats will be indoor cats, long-term they shouldn't have this sort of problem much.
clevermynnie: (I see beauty)
We brought our kitties home on Monday and Tuesday. Their names are Emmy and Blinn. There are pictures!

Read more... )
clevermynnie: (wealthy young woman-about-town)
I spent the last three hours at the PSPCA shelter in north Philly, not including the half-hour drive each way, getting cats.

This doesn't mean that I actually have cats. The two cats Ben and I picked out hadn't been neutered/spayed yet, so we have to wait a few days before we can pick them up. They are both totally sweet and adorable, though, and very playful. We got everything we will need for them, at least to start out with, and we are both super excited.

What was frustrating was how disorganized and understaffed the PSPCA was... it was hard to figure out what you were supposed to do--when to fill out forms, which forms, that you had to sign in at the desk, where to put the tags they gave you--and on top of that, it was pretty inefficient, so you would wait for 20 minutes and they would call you up, have you fill out a single piece of paper, and then have you wait for another 20 minutes. Ben had to drive back to our house to get a copy of our lease, so we could prove that we're allowed to have cats. And while we were doing the final paperwork at the end, everyone behind the counter rushed away when someone started yelling "this dog is biting!" from another room (the dog bit an employee, but not badly). A few people were really snippy about the slowness and the staff tried to do their paperwork really quickly so that they didn't just leave without adopting anything, but since I felt bad for them and didn't complain, it was very slow.

The cats we picked out are young, 7 months and a year old. I feel awful for animals in shelters, caged up and just waiting, and I feel especially awful for older cats. On the other hand, my experience has been that it can be really tough to train bad habits out of older cats, and they can have personality problems that are understandable but hard to deal with if they've been seriously abused. So we got young cats, but I feel bad about it. And I spent a lot of the day fighting back tears, because of the sizes of the enclosures they're kept in and their sweet eyes. It was nice, though, while I was waiting in the entrance, I watched a family with a little kid take away this young German shepherd who was just jumping all over the place and so happy to be out, with people. The dog was great with the kid, too, and it was wonderful to see how happy the dog was (and how delighted the little kid was!). I hope our cats are as happy when we bring them home.
clevermynnie: (Default)
I have a couple photos of the fused glass plate my mom helped me make. Here it is, still in the kiln fusing. The colors are a little off because of the heat. We opened the kiln to flash vent it, which cools it without giving it time to vitrify, i.e. form a crystal lattice.

plate in kiln, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

After that we slumped it, which is to say reheated it in a curved mold so that it's a sort of dish. You can see the shape here:

dish, originally uploaded by clevermynnie.

And if you want to see pictures of my cats, you can click here )


clevermynnie: (Default)

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