Cat and a Box (A Sort of DIY Column)

I knew I'd seen directions for crafting cardboard creations somewhere, and I finally found the link. This isn't necessarily cat stuff--although I can easily see my cats enjoying it. Go to foldschool.com for a free downloadable pattern and complete directions to make this nifty stool and matching oragami-esque chair.

If you have cardboard left over (hehhehheh), you could make a few of these and tell me how long it takes your cats to completely devour them. Still, I say kudos to Marmalade pet care for the free patterns. They are kinda cute.

If you haven't seen it yet (and I hadn't) here's a free pattern for a fairly straightforward-looking cardboard cat chaise lounger from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. Of course, my cats are just as happy with the plain old box--but then again, this might look a little nicer in my living room. (You might also check out the "Retro-dork-chic-DIY-d12 handbag.")

What I really want to make is one of these. I figure it would take a lot of cardboard cutting and the right adhesive (that's the part I haven't quite figured out yet). Still, I think it'd be worth it, considering how much our cats enjoy their plain one. I love the way these look, but the top one, Marmalade Pet's Cheeky Chaise lounger, retails for $139, and the Chiapod is $189!

I dunno, maybe I'll just give them another empty box. Not only can you climb over a box and sleep on top of a box, as well as survey your surroundings while concealed by a box, but you can go into a box. With any luck, you can even capture one of your siblings inside, behind, or underneath a box. It's a multipurpose cat-lounger, cat-concealer, and cat-exerciser, and it's totally free.


Going for the Green, Part II

Isis has really worked over the cat grass. She is quite the predator.

She grabbed a huge chunk of the poor hapless greenery and dragged the entire pot across the floor.

I don't expect this pot to survive the abuse much longer...

Thanks to StumblingOverChaos, I have a new obsession, moderncat.net -- a website devoted to "modern design for living with cats." It's not a store or sales site -- it's a review of all kinds of cool and fascinating cat stuff. Since some of the products are a bit pricey, I especially like the DIY section. Not that I'm that ambitious, it just makes me feel like there are things within my reach and I like to fantasize about making things like these.

Then again, there are affordable yet lovely items, like the sisal Dream Curl, which is only $30. Very tempting...

I really should stay away from this site; the girls are plenty spoiled already.

Contemplating her next assault?


Underground, Part II

Because this is what Underground always makes me think of--the song of that title by Tom Waits.


(Swordfishtrombones studio version, 1983)

Rattle big black bones in the Danger zone
There's a rumblin' groan down below
There's a big dark town, it's a place I've found
There's a world going on underground

They're alive, they're awake
While the rest of the world is asleep
Below the mine shaft roads, it will all unfold
There's a world going on underground

All the roots hang down, swing from town to town
They are marching around down under your boots
All the trucks unload beyond the gopher holes
There's a world going on underground

Written by: Tom Waits


In Which Isis Studies the OED

For our first Christmas together, Mr. O'Kitten gave me the OED. I swear, it is one of the most romantic and utterly wonderful gifts I have ever received. "The Oxford English Dictionary is the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words, both present and past." Over half a million words, over the last millennuim--come on, how sexy is that?!

This is the compact version, since the full-size has 20 volumes. But what's cool about the compact version is that all 20 volumes are contained within one volume with tiny print, and it comes with a fabulous magnifier that you use to see it. It is, like, the coolest thing ever.

And finally, here in our new apartment, I have a place to leave it out for easy reference. I always wanted a podium or something to leave it on (hehheh) like a library would so that I didn't have to haul it off the shelf every time I want to look something up. Here I finally have the perfect spot. You can see it in its place of honor in the photo above, right under my diploma, which I've hung up for the first time as well.

But the other evening, there was this:

Dozing off right between Lay and Lay-Off, Lay-Out and Lead.

If you can see how small the print is, Isis looks like a cat of absolutely monstrous proportions. I mean, even bigger than she already is.

So now I keep the OED closed, and she happily sleeps next to it. Go figure.

Just a Bit of Knitting

I have done a bit of knitting since we moved. I finished a couple things, like the Sock Monkey Socks, the baby sweater I was working on, and that sea-silk cami. I also made a few things the apartment needed...

...like curtain tie-backs...

...and a kitchen washrag.

Also in the works, a baby hat from this pattern. I made needle-felted eyes, which I haven't attached yet.



So I mentioned awhile back that we had a real NYC adventure for our 6th wedding anniversary and ventured into the world's oldest subway tunnel. We're both NYC history buffs and subway aficianados (not to mention recently watching the late-80s TV series Beauty and the Beast in its entirety), so climbing into a manhole in the middle of downtown Brooklyn seemed very romantic.

The manhole in the middle of downtown Brooklyn (the center of Atlantic Avenue, to be exact).

Down goes Mr. O'Kitten...

...while 75-80 others wait their turn.

Built in 1844 for railway trains, at first it wasn't a "subway" in the sense we think of the subway today as a conveyance for people; it was a sub-way (as in, below-way) for freight trains with lousy braking systems that were literally wreaking havoc among the pedestrians, horses, and carriage traffic on increasingly crowded Brooklyn city streets.

The Atlantic Avenue subway tunnel was only in use until 1861, at which time: "...one Electus Litchfield contrived to obtain a contract to close the now-superseded tunnel and fill it in completely. It seems, though, that he confined himself to walling off the tunnel at both ends and filling in only the outer portions. This maneuver, of course, allowed him to pocket a tidy sum. Thanks to this ancient fraud, there is still a tunnel to explore."

Finally, we make it into the tunnel that -- thanks to an early example of political corruption at its finest -- is still here to explore.

Seated at center is Bob Diamond, inveterate story-teller, tunnel tour guide, and discoverer of the tunnel.

This fantastic story left the tunnel to resurface periodically in New York City myth and legend until its discovery in 1980 by Bob Diamond, the man who still leads tours of the tunnel today. And the tunnel is beautiful indeed.

Despite torrential rains the night before, the tunnel was virtually dry, and not a bug or rodent to be seen anywhere. Only the beautiful 19th-century construction with hardly a brick out of place after all these years.

The vaulted ceiling originally had openings to the street above for ventilation.

When the tunnel was closed the ventilation chimneys were snapped off at street level and tossed into the abandoned tunnel before it was sealed.

Close-up of the tunnel walls. In many places the original whitewash on the upper walls and ceilings is still visible.

The way out.


Back in the Big Apple

Many of you have asked what happened to all the animals since we've moved back to New York. Hm -- I suppose it's obvious that we couldn't bring them along.

As for the chickens, there was a really nice couple who'd bought fertile eggs from me to hatch in their incubator. I called the husband and asked if he'd like to adopt any of my birds to add to his flock. I knew he let his chickens run around free-range like I did, and had several grandchildren who really enjoyed the birds, so it seemed a perfect match. And he took all 30 of the hens that I had left after the long winter plus Odo and Hamburglar, my two roosters.

I do miss these, though.

Tyr, Icelandic sheep

A good friend from the Spinning Loft took Tyr. He'd been without another sheep for company since his buddy Thorn had passed away early last fall, and sheep, being herd animals, need friends. He had done really well with the llamas, but ideally I wanted him to be around other sheep, and he's now in seventh heaven with a small flock of Romney ewes and lambs, of which I'm told he's particularly fond. (The ewes are probably considerably larger than he is, so the lambs would be more his size.)

Whenever I ask after him he's been spending his days lounging with his harem under the apple trees and winning over all comers with his charming personality, asking for pets and strokes and following everyone around on their chores. Since he was bottle-raised, I'm still not even sure whether he knows he's a sheep--but the more time he spends around others of his kind I'm sure the sooner he'll catch on.

Pepper and Lacey

Llamas are also herd animals. I wanted to keep our little five-llama herd together, and was delighted when a neighbor with a llama farm agreed to board them. She's a wonderful woman and fellow animal-lover who's been raising llamas for many years, and our girls and boys fit right in at her place. I spent several hours over there the day of the big move and it was exciting to watch many of her fifty llamas meeting their new friends. Her regular email updates have reassured me that everyone is doing well.

Graty and Llannie

As for life here in the big city, I couldn't be happier being able to walk to the grocery store, the bank, the butcher, the laundrymat, the post office, and the bus stop. Our apartment is spacious and light, and I, like the cats, am settling in quickly. We're on a quiet street lined with linden trees, one of which shades our bedroom windows and through which we enjoy an almost constant breeze. Here's the view from our kitchen at the back of the apartment.

It has the advantage of being green, but with nothing for me to plant, weed, water, mow, shovel, feed, repair, paint, fix, nail, tack, glue, sand, or waterproof. Nothing needs a roof or a fence or winterizing. There's no snow to shovel, no ice to break when someone's water freezes, no hay to throw, no thunderstorms or tornadoes or snowstorms to brave when someone needs fed.

Of course, the view isn't quite as nice as the spacious fields, and I do miss seeing the llamas in the pasture and the chickens scratching and Tyr grazing. But I know they're all in their new pastures back in Michigan and scratching and grazing in their new homes, just as happy as can be.


When Cats Go for the Green

Even city cats get a bit of greenery around here.

For ever-intrepid Isis, it was the top of a pineapple. She happily chewed up several of the leaves before Mr. O'Kitten took it away from her. Kind of reminded me of Chaos' adventure with a zucchini--of which he was highly suspicious, convinced it was some kind of cat-devouring monster. Isis is far more trusting (or just dimmer, hungrier and far less analytical).

Emma quickly discovered the chia planter of cat grass we were growing for cat grazing.



Sniff sniff...



After a nice grassy snack, everyone needed a nap...

...except for Morgan, who had a nice wrestle with a folding chair...

...and me, on this here machine that had caused so much anguish. But isn't it adorable? And in the end, it wasn't even the Mac's fault. So we can rejoice, one and all!

Eureka, and Welcome Home

This is it--second floor, left

Okay, so this morning Mr. O'Kitten left me the number for Mac tech support. This, after he himself (inveterate Mac-hater that he is) followed up every lead he could think of to connect me to the interweb. And finally, after plenty of coffee and foot-dragging and moaning and groaning and muttering to myself, I called.

Not that the guy on the phone wasn't helpful (his kind assistance was going to cost money -- I was only some 1,800+ days out of warranty, he politely informed me), but I wound up going back online anyway and would you believe the answer really was turning the modem off for a few minutes and then turning it back on again? Not for the reason you'd think, but in order to fool it into thinking the router with the two computers hooked into it is only one device. But really. I mean, honestly. Go figger.

Below my niece Mackenzie makes the expression I have in response to all this technological ridiculousness. Emma likes Mackenzie. A lot. Isis--not so much. Morgan simply hid. Eventually I think they will all get used to visits from the small and adorable person who pets very gently and is fascinated by the fact that Meows Poo in a box on the floor.


What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

We're all moved in now and the apartment is lovely. I just got back from the laundromat, which is right around the corner, and it's a cool, drizzly afternoon in our neighborhood.

The only glitch is that so far I haven't been able to get the Mac to communicate with the cable modem. Frankly, I'm being rather lazy about trying to rectify the situation. After a month offline I have missed blogging and regular email contact with the world, but I harbor this secret fantasy that the Mac is going to come to its senses any minute now and decide to reconnect itself to cyberspace.

In the meantime, I'm just stealing a moment to say hello from Mr. O'Kitten's puter (on which he virtually lives every waking moment) so unless I bite the bullet and resolve my own technical difficulties I won't be able to show you how we climbed into a manhole to burrow under Atlantic Avenue on our 6th anniversary to see the world's oldest subway tunnel (it was very romantic), or share our trip out to Coney Island for the (in)famous Mermaid Parade, or show you any of our other various NYC adventures to date.

I have at least a hundred photos -- all, of course, huddled together on the Mac -- and so much to tell.

Such a love/hate relationship with technology...