Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Monday, 10 April 2006

Intruder Alarm

So, here I was minding my own business at the keyboard, dog at my feet this morning, when suddenly, a singular caterwaul broke the morning's silence. Holly's sense of direction, it has to be said, is somewhat better than mine. As I began to check various directions, she bolted straight out towards the back utility room.

Nanoseconds later, Khan came rushing through the house at the speed of a bullet and fired himself out of the front door between the gaps in the trellised "kiddy gate". He was closely followed by a ginger cat of unknown origins, who was catching up on him rapidly as he passed through the house.

Kitty was right behind the stranger. Considering that all three cats only had to traverse one 12 foot room and the 6 foot wide hallway to reach the door, either the dog wasn't trying or she's supremely daft. She failed to catch any of them!

Betty was observing all this, calmly and serenely, from the safety of a windowsill and Mico was in the garden, not far from the front of the house. It all happened far to quick for him too. When I took the dog out to investigate what she'd missed (she wouldn't settle until she'd made sure the intruder was gone), Mico was just sitting there, transfixed, with a shell-shocked "WTF was that?" look on his face.

And, as we strolled down the garden, Balu ambled lazily up from the vines opposite to see what was going on. "You've missed all the fun, lad.", I thought.

In truth, there did not seem to be a great deal of animosity towards this stranger and the disturbance was minimal: everyone returned to whatever they were doing quickly once he'd left and it is the second time I have seen him loitering around recently, which probably means he's been around much more that I haven't been aware of. Presumably now, he's "cased the joint" and got up the confidence to come in the back window in search of the food that is served out in that back room. No doubt, this will open a new chapter in the tales of the feline frolics.

Sunday, 2 April 2006

Rabbit Rescue Employs New Security Chief

Pocket-sized baby bunny

Yes, boys and girls, rabbits are in season again! Well, maybe the rabbits were in season how ever long ago it takes to make more little baby ones, but rabbit hunting season (for cats) has begun again this year.

We have too many rabbits here and they do cause considerable damage to crops, especially the vines and, for that maybe the "responsible" thing to do would be to ignore it and let the cats get on with what is natural to them to control the population. Unfortunately, when they bring them, alive, into my house and the poor little things are screaming in fear of their captors, I find that I simply I do not have what it takes to be an accessory to murder.

So, one dear little thing spent the hot afternoon in a cool cat basket to rest and recuperate from the ordeal, after being inspected, given a little milk and some TLC in lieu of psychological counselling. When they are this small, I'm not sure that their chances of survival are good alone, but I've taken him (or her) to a spot where, hopefully, it will find some friends or, better yet, a new mummy.

Let the dog see the rabbit ...

I generally thought this meant so that they can eat them. Here was the curious thing and, I suspect it was because Holly picked up from my caring for the little bunny, that this was the right thing to do. So that is what she did. Just like she has done in the past with kittens. Strange and wonderful dog. All afternoon, each time a cat went to go near the rabbit, she would stick her nose between cat and basket and give them a short, gruff bark and a nudge out of the way. These cats, her "older children", knew she meant it too, because I watched as they rolled over quickly into defensive postures, then slunk away.

A German Shep/Presa Canario mix is probably not what you'd normally consider as suitable as a babysitter for small rabbits (nor for small kittens, for that matter). 

Friday, 24 March 2006

How small is a small kitten?

Khan, Kitty and Balu at a couple of months old

One of the things I have always regretted when I took in these three munchkins, is that in my haste (no, sorry our constant busyness, because I had a lot of help from Holly the hound) to maintain the continuous factory production line of feeding, face washing, bum licking (Holly's job) and so forth, in triplicate, is that I did not get to take any photos of them while they were still very small. When I first got them, you could have lost all three in a shoe box, they were so tiny. 

And the three of them are all, still, at five years old, perfectly synchronized. Back then, as soon as I'd fed, washed, shown them the bathroom and got them all snuggled back down again with a refilled hot water bottle, it was almost time to start preparing the next feed, ready for when they'd wake again.

It was an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world.

Balu, who was the largest of the three when I found them, was the same length (from nose to bum) as the distance from the base of my palm to the first joint in my middle finger - some 12 cms or approximately 4 1/2 inches.

At that time, Balu had not yet developed any distinct markings. He was white underneath, but just a a soft donkey brown otherwise, which made him resemble a little teddy bear, hence the bearlike name. It was apparent, unusually, at that early age, was that Balu was going to become one big mass of fur.

Sunday, 12 March 2006

Clever Doggie

Holly on sentry duty in the hallway

The owner is undoubtedly stupid (yesterday, I managed to completely misplace a cat, because I'd shut it between the layers of one of our psuedo double-glazed windows), but my dog certainly isn't daft! Bless her, she's a real help. 

One day, when it clouded over (yet again), four out of five cats came indoors swiftly and voluntarily. That left just one outside, who was sure to follow soon and, for reasons of her own, Holly decided to sit by the front door and wait.

Since she sat there and I certainly didn't want to hover round the door calling for ages, I casually remarked to Holly, as I went back to my desk, "Let me know when the last one arrives." Don't you hold conversations with your animals then? :)

It didn't really cross my mind that she would listen, understand or answer.

However, about ten minutes later, she let out two short barks, so I went to the door to look. Yup, there he was, fifth and final cat waiting by the door to be let in. This I did, after which the "watch dog" abandoned her post. Job done.

Just a coincidental fluke? Nope, I tried it again next time we were waiting for a different last cat to come home at dinner time and I got the same result.

It works for keeping an eye on her "kids". She also "tells them off" when they fight, run around indoors or scratch the furniture. I've had no success yet with requests for help with the housework, but we're working on it!

Thursday, 2 March 2006

We don’t have winter here!

Fast moving and dangerous flooding pours down the lane and barranco

As I sit, wrapped in four layers of clothing in my unheated (and leaking everywhere) house that was built only for hot weather (only three months of the year here in north Tenerife), this had such a ring of familiarity:
"Either every year for the past few generations has been miraculously colder than the last, or the locals are suffering from some serious short-term memory loss which has resulted in complete ignorance when it comes to indoor heating."
Personally, I go for total denial. But I can't even pretend to understand why.

There is no doubt that the climate has changed here in recent years, but if it gets cold in Tenerife - and surprisingly it does and always has - then it must have always done so in Cádiz. There are some old houses in high areas in Tenerife that have fireplaces. This one does, actually, but it was blocked up long ago and the cooker has been placed in the alcove. New houses don't have chimneys, other than the ones rising up from outdoor barbeques, but it definitely gets cold.

My mother comes here every Christmas with heavyweight, warm clothes she would never need in her centrally heated house in England. In fact, she leaves them here. I think I have more of her clothes in my cupboards than my own now. The thick fleecy track pants I am wearing are hers!

When she was wearing these trousers with my chunky boots, an oversized T-Shirt and in a moment of warmth, slipped her fleece jacket off the shoulders, she only lacked a baseball cap to be a perfect picture of the only 81 year old "rapper" in the known world. The spoil-sport wouldn't let me take a photo!

Because of the cold, tiled floors, we bought her a poof to take her feet off the floor and, when she sits to watch TV or knit in the evenings, she wraps up in a microfiber blanket. I've got it round me now while I sit at the computer. Now I'm the one doing a perfect impression of a "little old lady".

Today has been awful, again, weather wise in Tenerife.

Earlier in the afternoon, just as I was taking madam dog out for her ablutions, wrapped in my newly acquired waterproof with the hood that a lifeboat man would be proud of, hiking boots, et al, I met one of my neighbours coming up the hill. The roar of the waterfall coming down our apology for a road and the normally dry barranco under the bridge at the end of my drive was so loud, I could hear it from the house. The road was running a great torrent of muddy water.

The neighbour had to get past it somehow, because it is the only way to her house across the valley. So we wrapped her suede shoes in carrier bags and I went with her up the road to ensure she didn't slip. My boots may be non-slip, but at ankle high, they were useless when wading knee deep in fast running water. Picture it, with my track pants rolled up like a holiday-maker on a British beach!

So, I now have a perfectly useless, totally soaked pair of boots, sitting on top of the dehumidifier (that I keep going 24/7/365) anyway. I'm absolutely freezing, but with scant hot water, can't even get a bath to warm me up and wouldn't like to get out of it into the cold air anyway. Welcome to sub-tropical paradise!