Still Brothers

This is Tiger and today is human Father’s Day.  Even though I don’t know where my father is, and I am not a father, still I am a big brother to Benji.  I think it is important to remember what we have instead of being sad about what we don’t have. Sometimes I complain about Benji but he is playful and full of vigor and reminds me how wonderful youth is. I am doing my best to mentor the little boy and I think he is coming along. I am pleased.

This is Benji and someday I want to be just like Tiger.  He is very smart and patient with me and even though he is bigger he doesn’t beat me up when I sometimes jump on him.  Also he has two good ears.

We are brothers.

~Tiger and Benji

Today’s Reflections from Benji

Good Morning to humans everywhere and especially to Sue, my paws down favorite. Today I am in a reflective mood, pondering the mysterious intersection of the feline life and the human life.  It is a wonderful intersection indeed, though not always easy.

We get along well most of the time yet we are different in many ways.  This requires that we cats make continual adjustments to satisfy peculiar human inconsistencies and foibles.  (It is obvious that we are the ones to make the adjustments, at least if we aspire to indoor living.)

For instance, I have yet to understand the human aversion to the natural feline  sharpening of the claws.  It seems to me their own claws would become much more useful if they practiced this habit as well, rather than remaining purely decorative.  Many surfaces exist throughout the house for this purpose. If only they could see this!  Alas they are unwilling to learn in the smallest matter!  And so I am forced to use the inferior small posts inside, saving the most rigorous scratching for the trees outside.  Speaking of outside, it is certainly a puzzle that so many food sources go unclaimed by them.  We felines learned long ago that anything living and smaller than ourselves is good for food.  (The hunting itself provides invigorating exercise.)  They also seem to be untrainable in this.

Fortunately I have big brother Tiger to help me understand these matters.  He reminds me that felines and humans are not the same species and this alone explains much of the challenges we face.

(Read Tiger’s story for yourself in the link below.)

Not the Same Species

He has also taught me that when the going gets tough inside, I must demand to go outside.  There I can spend time in the wild alone, or with my own kind.  A few hours thus spent solves most of the problems.

And so I sign off,

~  Benji

Hopeful: Reflections from Tiger on my lives so far…

This is Tiger and I have something to say as 2016 is coming to a close and I am in a reflective mood.  One human year is quite long for cats and this one was not easy for me.  When it started out I was still missing my big brother Shadow and at the end of the year I’m still adjusting to my new ‘shadow’,  Benji. (Believe me, that boy is hard to shake!)

Still I am hopeful. The cat life consists of many closings and new beginnings and I am ready to bid farewell to life number three and embrace number four.  We cats are lucky that way.

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Now I don’t want to bore you too much but before moving on I’d like to take a look back at lives one, two and three.  See the handsome boy below?  Yep, that’s me near the beginning!   (You see Benji?  I was young once too!  Whatever you are doing I have already done!  Whatever you think you know, I have known already!!)

And here’s me and Shadow  (still life number one), our “indoor” period, long before Bob and Sue brought us home.  It wasn’t perfect but we didn’t know it and we had each other and that was enough.

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That life was longer than most and consisted mainly of playing in our small apartment, chittering out the window at the birds and squirrels that taunted us (all the time wishing we could join them) and sleeping a lot.

Until it came to a screeching halt when for reasons known only to her, our mistress evicted us from the premises and sent us off to jail!  For what offense we did not know. (Really, who can understand humans?)  They called the place a cat hotel (yes, really), with no in and out privileges you might say.  We lived there with Keeper longer than the other cats who came and went.  No, it wasn’t the greatest but it was certainly better than living under a bridge or something.   In retrospect (and ONLY in retrospect) I see it was a blessing in disguise (very heavily disguised, granted.)  For after all, if we hadn’t gone there, we never would have found Bob and Sue, who brought us to our best home ever and into life number three!  (Oh, how ready we were to bid number two goodbye!)

It was here that Shadow and I learned the thrill of the hunt and the great outdoors.  How to hide in the bush and listen for the small ones.  How to spring into action at the best time.  How to drink from the bird baths and flowing fountains.  How to taunt the squirrels as they once taunted us.  And how to sprint through the woods and then rest  contented among the dampness of the leaves and ferns. Paradise, really.

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And when it was clear that Shadow’s time was up, it was in those woods that he made his final resting place.  Goodbye my brother.

And now there is Benji.  The boy who will drive me to new heights of ingenuity for I will certainly need all my strength and wisdom to deal with him, to train him to become a proper adult feline and not a shame to our species.  I must lead by example and at the time of my choosing initiate him into all the secrets of the outdoor kingdom. There is time for he is still young.

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So now it is time to move on and into the new year and life number four.

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I am ready.  And hopeful.

 ~ From the Tiger

via Daily Prompt: Hopeful

A beautiful November week …. at least for the weather

Whether November turned out to be beautiful for you or not..  well, we won’t go there.  Instead, let us look to the skies at the beautiful weather we are having here in the Pacific Northwest. After a record breaking rainy October, we reached 70 degrees earlier this week, the highest temperature ever recorded this late in the year. And we have had several days in the sixties since.  I suppose that compensates for other disappointments. Or maybe not.

Yesterday we took a drive and visited Olympia, Washington’s state capital. I wandered down to the Capitol Lake and was cheered to see the Capitol Building still standing strong. Okay, perhaps I exaggerate.  But it is lovely.

dsc02047-2And the bay nearby was serene and peaceful, just what I needed.

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What to say? Perhaps we have to give one another the benefit of the doubt. Good people voted for the candidate of their choice for reasons known only to themselves. Obvious deal breakers for some were not for others. Let each be persuaded in their own mind.

We shall see.  Change is hard. But today, the sun is still shining.

Observations from Benji the teenage cat

Hi.  This is Benji and here are my observations on life so far. I am not yet one year old in human years but in cat years I am a teenager and thus, very smart.

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Do you think my chopped ear looks good?  It makes me feel different and self-conscious. This came from my 1st life when I was trapped from the crazy house where I was born.  I like my 2nd life and new home much better.  And I love Sue and Bob and Grandma. I also like my big brother Tiger and hope someday he likes me too.

I want to play all the time.  Sometimes this gets me in trouble with Sue.  Why, I do not know.  She used to play mouse on a string with me though she could never keep up with my speed.  I am very, very fast.  (Much faster than Tiger if I do say so myself.)  It turns out many, many things have strings attached to them, both thick and thin.  They are everywhere. Computers and cameras.  Shoes and purses. Window blinds and necklaces. When I play with these Sue yells NO! and sometimes squirts me with water from the bottle.  I don’t understand this at all.  She’s the one that taught me to play with things on strings. It seems not even the best humans can always be trusted or completely understood. Maybe Tiger will teach me about these things when he starts talking to me.

Anyway, now that I am a teenager I get to go outside and chase things that move on their own without strings.  Sometimes I catch them.  I am very, very fast.

dsc01901-3I learned I can go in and out whenever I want just by standing at the door.  Tiger taught me this.

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I always come in at night before it is dark because I am only a teenager. Tiger has outside dark privileges.  It’s okay because I don’t like the outside dark.

I also don’t like rain.  It reminds me of the squirt bottle.  In my life so far there was not much rain.  Now there is more and more and more.  I don’t know why.  I will ask Tiger if he ever decides to listen to me and answer my questions.  He still hisses at me when I try to talk to him.  If I jump on him to get his attention, he takes a swat at me but he is not a good aim and always misses.  Maybe because he is old.  Either way, I am always the one who gets in trouble not the Tiger.  I think they favor him though they may not admit it.

I still like Tiger even if he is old and doesn’t want to play with me.  I hope he will someday.  I can’t wait for us to become good friends.

from the Benji

Tiger and Benji ~ the unexpected and the waiting

Sue here.  Time for the Tiger and Benji update and it’s all slow.  That’s okay.  We’re in it for the duration.  Our new Benji has been on the premises for a week now and he’s the sweetest, softest, tiniest kitty boy imaginable.  But the little fellow has been sneezing almost since we got him. And so we visited the vet today and confirmed he has the dreaded “URI”, or upper respiratory infection.  Poor sweet boy.  We have been given an antibiotic in liquid form and fortunately it is easy to administer.  Tasty too, from what they say.  Here he is, wide-eyed and ready to roll, sick or not!

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This will bring to a halt the planned meeting with the resident big boy tabby, Tiger. They’ve seen each other up close once or twice but we’ll have to keep Benji more secluded now that we have had the URI diagnosis confirmed. Thankfully our home makes keeping the boys separate fairly easy.  And Tiger loves spending most of his day outside, just coming in for a snack, and to visit.

Here he is at my feet this morning in his best doggie pose.  Still a big sweet boy himself.

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Kind of a rough start for little Benji, but I’m glad we are able to nurse him along. Still expecting that he and the handsome Tiger will become good buddies.  Just not as soon as I’d hoped.  Life is like that sometimes.

~  Susanne

Testing 1,2,3…..

If you read the ‘About’ section on this blog you will already know that I spent some time working in technology. I liked it.  Maybe a lot.  I was not a heavy-duty computer programmer.  I didn’t do Cobol. (Do they still use that?)  Or Unix, much. (Is that still around?)   That was for the big guns not for me, a cross over from the accounting world. But I was a developer and a tester using fairly straightforward software to modify and build new applications and programs in business technology. And so I got used to doing things in a ‘test environment’ which was a copy of “production” or the real world.

Design, build, test, modify,  retest,  deploy to production for the users to see, enjoy and experience.  Hopefully the testing was robust enough to catch any bugs or problems the new software might introduce.  Fortunately, that was usually the case. (Not always. Then the newly deployed program got yanked out of production in a hurry.  Or worse yet, those problems remained undetected for a period of time and had to be fixed later. Ah, those were the days.)

This left me spoiled in some ways.  Take this blog for instance.  I have recently begun to use software that allows me to write and publish posts for free (thank you wordpress). For the most part it is straightforward and user friendly and I am very pleased with it.  However, I miss having a  true test environment.  Oh I know there is the ‘Preview’ function which is very, very nice.  But it does not allow me to do the kind of robust testing I am used to. And when you are not a risk taker, that is a bit uncomfortable.  I have found for example,  in ‘Preview’ mode everything might look exactly as I want but once I  hit ‘Publish’ I realize I have overlooked something or my post doesn’t look as expected in every place. Still, these are minor things and  I am learning the nuances of this software and am very happy with it.

But deeper than that.  I have often thought how nice it would be to have a ‘test environment’ for Life.  To be able to try out careers for a few weeks.  Or find out how retirement might work out on a daily basis from all angles.  Or how about being able to test those words and actions and how they might be received by a friend or stranger or loved one.  (Oh!  I will not deploy THAT to production!)

But we must live our lives speaking words and making choices in the real world without a test environment or even a preview mode, by faith if you will.  I suppose that makes it all the more interesting. But it might also cause us to sometimes pause and weigh what we are about to do or say and the effect it may have on our future selves and others.

Maybe the real world is a test environment?