Category "Cats"

July 29, 2005

Friday cat blogging - meet Pookie

The first time I encountered Friday Cat Blogging was courtesy of Brian Link, intrepid director of the Waltham Abbey Singers. During a "slow" stretch in our season when not too many blog posts or comments were coming in from singers, he posted pictures and comments about his cats. Being a cat person myself, I thought they were pretty great and filed the idea away for the future. Recently, when visiting UThink's "Coffee Grounds" blog, (7/15/2005) I noticed ... Friday Cat Blogging. Well --- that made me wonder whether something greater might not be afoot here. So I went to all-knowing Google, and found 48,300 hits when the full phrase was placed in quotation marks!

Of keen interest was a New York Times article from October 28, 2004: "On Fridays, Bloggers Sometimes Retract their Claws," which is linked here. So it's a venerable tradition all its own in the blogosphere.

Well, I'm as proud of my cats as anyone, so I'd like to introduce them to you one at a time. We begin today with Pookie. As my wife would say, Pookie's got "gravitas." He could be Pope, or at least a great Supreme Court Justice. He's wise, yet inscrutable; laid back, yet focused; the elder statesman of our tribe. If he were a human, he might relish a big ol' cigar along with his brandy from time to time.



Posted by hgroteva at 7:54 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

August 12, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging - Introducing Shadow


After my first Friday Cat Blogging post 2 weeks ago about Pookie, the other members of the tribe have been yowling, "Me next!!" Shadow yowled longest and loudest, so here he is...

Whereas Pookie exudes gravitas and stateliness (see July 29 entry), Shadow communicates, "Here I am, here I am, love me, love me, pet me, feed me, aren't I great?" He's our "in your face" kittie, but oh so loveable and vulnerable. When I work in my study upstairs, he might sit in the hallway and wail -- until I reassure him, "I'm here. It's OK. Come on over." It works every time. He climbs on my shoulder for a long hug, nuzzles against my face and glasses, and purrs contentedly.

When one of his compatriots is getting attention, Shadow will surely be up and claiming HIS attention within 20 seconds. He doesn't settle down too easily, but as he gets older, he is willing to slow down a bit, especially if he's getting his tummy rubbed while watching TV in the den. But he's plenty rambunctious too - loving to chase others in the tribe all over the house. They they lay down together, groom each other, and fall asleep for hours. It's quite a show.


Posted by hgroteva at 1:32 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

August 19, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging - meet Mackenzie


Pookie's our sedate one, Shadow's the noisy one, and Mackenzie (pictured above) is the quiet one. She's petite and very circumspect, never forcing herself into a situation (unlike her BIG brothers). When she settles in for a cuddle, she's more relaxed than any of her tribe-mates. She's the best nurse-cat in the family, for those days when you're feeling yucky.

She easily moves in and out of coalitions with the others, but is not quite as tightly bonded as are Pookie and Sadie. But if she has a preferred pair-mate, it's probably Shadow. Opposites attract, they say. Here she is (on the left) with Shadow (on the right).

Mackenzie and Shadow2.jpg

Mackenzie's strangest characteristic is that she EATS WOOL - and the more expensive, the better. Unfortunately, we discovered this after she had already done a substantial amount of damage to my wife's wardrobe. She doesn't nibble - she eats big holes in the middle of garments. I thought maybe this was indicative of a vitamin deficiency (or some such thing), but apparently some cats like to eat wool. We have had many cats over many years, and Mackenzie is the first wool-eater. I would be interested to hear other cat/wool stories. For some reason, she has stopped doing this - no damage in the past year, although my wife has rearranged her clothes so that they are not so easily accessible.

Mackenzie also carries things along (reminiscent of Carrie's comment about her dog-cat). She is especially fond of a wool sock (of course) and a winter glove that has fur lining. These items keep appearing all over the house. But she is a warm, wonderful cat who, like her tribe-mates, has wormed her way into our lives.

Posted by hgroteva at 10:56 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

October 21, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging - The Tonk Pile

As Minnesota slips into the autumn, our cat-tribe looks for warmth wherever they can find it. One favorite venue is any heating pad that has been vacated. But another is the company of each other. Tonkinese are known for piling up, and our guys do it regularly. Here's the "Tonk Pile."

4cats Oct2005.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 6:03 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

December 8, 2005

Thursday Human Blogging

Greetings from me – Sadie. My human has fallen into that bad trap that many parents have – ignoring their youngest. He has already done great Friday Cat Blogging entries about my siblings (Pookie, Shadow, and MacKenzie), but WHAT ABOUT ME? So instead, I’m going to turn the tables and do my own post.

Mack Sadie on monitor2.jpg

First, here’s my picture (I’m the cute dark brown one on the right). But, just like an inconsiderate human, he got rid of this 90 pound, warm, computer monitor in favor of one of those new-fangled flat panel gizmos. He says it’s better for his eyes (which need all the help they can get), but I can’t sit on top of it and get warm! This is a serious problem in December here in Minnesota.

My typical view of him is his legs and feet. I kind of rub around and hum a bit to get his attention. But my favorite place is his shoulder. I don’t cuddle in the same way that Pookie does (he’s shameless!), but I like to perch on his shoulder and observe my domain. Every once in a while, I’ll spring from the floor to his shoulder to get his attention – it seems to have the desired effect. But that’s more for little kittens – I’m pretty grown up now.

Nonetheless, I still like to play “chase? all over the house. I have to admit it – I happily incite Pookie to a good chase now and then. (It’s a public service – he needs the exercise.) I especially like to knock him off the climber on the porch. Sometimes the two of us get up there at the same time, but then he does his dominance thing and bites my neck. My human always yells at him for doing that, but I don’t mind it all that much. I usually end up on top anyway! So here’s a raspberry to my human for ignoring me. However, in his defense, I know he’s very busy. His consumption of “medium decaf mocha with no whipped cream but with an extra chocolate covered expresso bean? has definitely skyrocketed this fall. Rumor has it that he got one of those Caribou debit cards and it needs refreshing. Anyway, I’m glad I’ve been able to take over the keyboard myself. Fan letters are always welcome! - Sadie

Posted by hgroteva at 5:58 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

January 6, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - shoulder hugging

Members of our Tonk tribe love our shoulders - I'm not quite sure what it is, but they like to snuggle up like no cats we've ever had before. But hey, I'm not complaining. Since Pookie and Sadie (oldest and youngest, male and female, lightest and darkest, biggest and smallest, respectively) like to compete for shoulder time, they've now figured out how they can both get it simultaneously. They even stayed put for 5 minutes while Susan went to get the camera and take 5 shots - this was the last one! I think they're glad we're home from the holidays.

Pookie and Sadie on HG - b.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 6:00 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

February 5, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging (on Sunday) - ray of sun

Sadie Pookie in sun-b 0206.jpg

Even though it's 10 degrees outside, Sadie and Pookie have found the best ray of sun in the universe! Although they look totally contented and serene in this photo, they are each jealous of any "alone" time the other gets with me. Hence, I often have one on each shoulder. I'm getting better at reading in that position, but it's hard to work on the computer or at the piano!

Posted by hgroteva at 2:46 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

March 3, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

Tonkpile on heating pad 030206-b.jpg

I call it "Tonkpile on Heating Pad." When I'm reincarnated, I hope I can return as one of my cats.

Posted by hgroteva at 1:21 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

April 28, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - Heat Seekers

3 cats in carrier-b.jpg

Things were really quiet one day last week, and I went looking for the tribe. Here's where I found Shadow, Pookie, and MacKenzie. They love being in enclosed spaces like their cat carrier and generating heat by creating their Tonkpile.

Posted by hgroteva at 12:46 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

May 5, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - Who's On Top??

Cats on climber-b.jpg

Cats are so fascinating! Here's the scene I encountered last week on the tribe's climber. Look who's on the top level - little Sadie! She is the youngest and smallest and was the last to enter the group, but she is definitely Ms. Alpha ... and she knows it. She has never been afraid to stand her ground with any of the other 3. On the middle level are the 2 brothers (from the same parents, but not littermates) - Pookie and Shadow. Pookie's happy to be his cigar-smoking-and-brandy-quaffing self, never going anywhere too quickly. Shadow is the over-active brother, always wound a bit tightly. And on the bottom rung is MacKenzie - the quiet, sweet, more submissive one. But she's no shrinking violet either. Now that we're empty nesters, they add variety, spice, and love to our daily lives

Posted by hgroteva at 1:51 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

June 9, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - Huddling on a Cool Summer Day

Tonkpile 0606-b.jpg

It's a cool, damp summer day, and the tribe is huddling to protect against the cold. When it was so warm earlier in the week, they were happily baking in the sun on the sauna-like porch. Go figure.

Posted by hgroteva at 6:28 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

December 29, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - welcoming Chloe and Dylan

The New Mexico branch of our family was missing our tribe a lot, so our family has now grown by 2 more Tonkinese: Chloe and Dylan. They made the journey from Las Cruces to Austin for the holidays and joined our festivities. Here's Susan with the 2 additions.

Chloe + Dylan + Susan2-b.jpg

They are not full siblings; they were born on the same day but to different mothers. (They may share a father, however.) But one of the mothers was not able to nurse her kittens, so both of them were nursed by the same mother. These pictures belie how mischevious they can be when they are tearing around the house.

Chloe + Dylan1-b.jpg

They can sense a "cat person" miles away. They also like to drag various items of clothing (especially socks and gloves) around the house, just like a dog would. I can spare a sock, but I can't spare my gloves since I'm going back to the land of the icebox tomorrow! Balls of Christmas wrapping paper also make for endless hours of play.

Cats on Kevin-b.jpg

The big question on everyone's mind: How in the world will 6 of them fare in the same household?

Posted by hgroteva at 5:23 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

February 21, 2007

Musical Cats

I was sent this link to an amazing You Tube clip about Nora, the musical cat - it's worth a watch. If it's possible, I'll post the actual clip here so you can just click and go. It's a fun one, I promise.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:44 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

February 23, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Tonkpile

Tonkpile 021807-b.jpg

Personal space doesn't seem to be a problem with these guys. (Photo taken 021807)

Posted by hgroteva at 1:48 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

July 6, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Dylan & Chloe update

Dylan + Chloe at computer.jpg

The New Mexico branch of our Tonkinese family is doing very well - they gravitate toward computers as much as their humans do. Here are Chloe and Dylan, enjoying their place of honor where their human works.


Chloe is a bit like our other females, MacKenzie and Sadie. She's on the smaller side and is a bit more stand-offish. She doesn't particularly like to be held or petted for very long.


Brother Dylan, on the other hand, is a bit like older brother Pookie - He's very into creature comforts and would probably share that brandy with Pookie, if he had a chance to. On the other hand, he's the one who bolts for the door when it opens and has led his human on many a chase around the parking lot. Fortunately, so far he has been willing to be caught.

Posted by hgroteva at 12:07 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

Category "Dogs"

Category "New Mexico"

August 14, 2007

Sierra's Home


This holiday has turned out much differently than I expected, but for some reason, I was never quite sure how it would turn out. Each time we had a "plan," it morphed under our feet. Much of our time has focused around Sierra and getting the NM house puppy-proofed. The back yard is now secure so that she can't slip through the wrought-iron gates on the sides. Despite the intense heat, the patio is in the shade much of the day - she's comfortable there, and she has her wading pool to splash around in.

Sierra + her pool.jpg

And there are 3 pressure gates that can corral her in the kitchen (on the tile floor) until she is fully potty-trained. We haven't used potty-words so much since we had toddlers (of the human kind!) An unexpected preoccupation!

Sierra is a very sweet dog - a nice disposition, eager to play and to please. She has definitely bonded with her master, in part because of the long walks they take each morning. She has also had some inter-species encounters with Dylan and Chloe -- she wants them to help her play with her squeaky bone.

Interspecies play.jpg

To be honest, I really enjoy her ... but I am not ready to take on that level of responsibility on a daily basis. Independent cats are more my speed at this time. I asked S how long she's wanted a dog. The answer was "Years." So I'm sincerely happy for her.

In case you're wondering how Dylan and Chloe are doing, here they are - stationed next to the computer.

Dylan + Chloe.jpg

On the other hand, I can tell I'm already feeling very parental and protective. Today we stopped by to tour a local doggy day care center. S has to drive me to Albuquerque on Friday for my flight, and it's almost 250 miles each way, so we thought we'd give day care a try. Well....... the poor dogs are lined up in narrow runs. "Day care" means that they are let out into a large field, as a group, to fend for themselves. I had flashbacks of some poor day care centers we saw when we had little kids. We're thinking Sierra might make the trip to ABQ with us..... The amazing thing is that the dude ranch is already booked solid for Thanksgiving and Christmas into 2009. I think there's a market niche to be filled here...

Posted by hgroteva at 2:41 PM | Cats | Dogs | New Mexico

Category "Cats"

Category "Dogs"

Category "New Mexico"

August 17, 2007

Friday Cat/Dog Blogging

Alas, my holiday ends today so I wanted to share a few last pix of the NM menagerie and their keeper. They're quite photogenic, don't you think?

Cats together3.jpg

Cats together5.jpg

Susan Sierra outside.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 5:05 AM | Cats | Dogs | New Mexico

Category "Cats"

December 14, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: The Huddle

Tonkpile 121407.jpg

Winter has truly arrived, with nighttime temperatures (air, not wind chill) below 0 F. The tribe really has a hard time in the cold weather -- they are truly heat-seeking devices. We play a little game with the heating pad that Susan left behind. It's about 24 x 8 " and they can all fit on it (barely) if they line up like sausages. When only one is on it, he/she stretches to take up the whole thing. The idea is to expose as much surface area as possible to the heat. Same goes for the radiator. MacKenzie especially loves to stretch out on top of the warm radiator, exposing every square inch possible to the heat.

Anyway, the game ... The heating pad has an automatic timer that turns it off after 30 or 60 minutes (you can set it.) Often, when I'm working in my study, I'll turn the heating pad on for them in the bedroom. About 10 minutes after it turns off and cools down, MacKenzie will come padding down to my study and jump in my lap, then want to be held like a baby on my shoulder. Within 30 seconds, Shadow will be bopping in, wanting the same. And of course, they both want to occupy the same space (on me) at the same time. It's hard to do much else with 2 cats on my shoulder, so usually I carry them back to the bedroom and turn the heating pad on again.

For several years, I have used their heating pad behavior in my human development class as an example of classical conditioning. The heating pad makes a little "ding" sound when I turn it on. The cats have learned, through association, that "ding" means "the heating pad is warming up - time to jump on." And they do. But it just hit me that they have conditioned me (instrumental conditioning) to carry them back to the heating pad -- since every time both of them pile on while I'm trying to work, I carry them back and turn the heating pad on again, thus rewarding their "jumping on" behavior. They didn't want me - they just wanted me to turn the heating pad on again! (Although who knows the inscrutable ways of cats...) Another example for the next time I teach learning theory!

Tonks have no respect for personal space. Shadow is A+ in that domain. This morning, while trying to sleep at least a few minutes past 6:00 a.m., he decided to lay on my face -- I guess my face is warm and he figured it might be as good as a heating pad or a radiator. But the fascinating thing was that he positioned his purr-er right over my ear. He makes quite a racket! So I consulted Wikipedia to find out how cats purr. Here's what it said:

"A purr is a sound made by some species of felines and is a part of cat communication. It varies in detail from cat to cat (e.g., loudness, tone, etc.), and from species to species, but can be characterized as a sort of tonal buzzing. All domestic cats purr in a frequency range of 22.4 to 30.2 hertz. Some cats purr so strongly that their entire bodies vibrate; conversely, other cats may purr so quietly that the only indication is a vibration felt when touching the cat's throat. ... [Shadow's is definitely a full-body purr.]

"Despite being a universally recognized phenomenon, the exact mechanism by which the cat purrs has been frustratingly elusive for scientists. This is partly because the cat has no obvious anatomical feature unique to it that would be responsible and may also be partly because a cat placed in a laboratory for examination is unlikely to make the noise.

"One hypothesis, backed up by electromyographic studies, is that cats produce the purring noise by fast twitching of the muscles in their larynx, which rapidly dilate and constrict the glottis, thus causing vibrations in the air both during inhalation and exhalation[1]. There is also some contribution from the diaphragm. A timing mechanism in the brain sends neural messages to the muscles in the larynx, rhythmically opening and closing the air passage approximately 25 times per second.[2] Combined with the steady inhalation and exhalation of air as the cat breathes, a purring noise is produced with strong harmonics.[3]"

Fascinating! The author is certainly right that cats don't purr on demand. So maybe I can contribute my good fortune (of being a target of purring) to purring research -- I'll have to think about that. Woops - MacKenzie just walked in the door and jumped on my shoulder. Must be time to turn the heating pad on again.

Posted by hgroteva at 11:03 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

February 15, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: Cat Lovers

Shadow + MadKenzie Feb08.jpg

In celebration of Valentine's Day, it seems only appropriate to check in on one of our pairs. Shadow (left) and MacKenzie are definitely a two-some. Although they look a lot like each other, they are physically very different. Shadow is lean, muscular, angular, and a bit skittish (at first). (When he settles in with that loud purr, it always feels like a real victory.) MacKenzie has extremely soft fur and is very delicate. After the lights go out, she's always the first to sidle up for a pet, but Shadow is usually no more than 10 seconds behind her. He frequently climbs all over her in order to get his own "spot" - sometimes she stands her ground, and sometimes she goes on to other things. But the two of them are inseparable, consistently. They had a good Valentine's Day together.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:41 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

Category "Moving"

March 20, 2008

T minus 12

Well, the guy came from 2nd wind, and the elliptical is now broken down for packing. The cats were delivered to their new quarters last night. We've framed it as "summer camp" for them. It's so fascinating how their personalities came through with the move. Once in the new home, Sadie jumped immediately out of her carrying case and started exploring -- running around, jumping on and in things, poking her nose everywhere quite autonomously. Shadow explored too, but was pretty skittish about it. Poor MacKenzie found a bed and hid under it. But when the others found her under the bed, they joined her and then they all came out together -- good siblings! And Pookie went back into his carrying case and cried a bit. But by the time I left, they were all happily being petted and seemed remarkably at home. They've got lots of familiar things - their climbing tree, heating pad, beds, etc. -- and they will be heartily loved. Thanks SO much to B, L, & KM for welcoming them into their home.

Today, Merry Maids came and bid on my deep cleaning job -- they will be coming a week from Saturday, once everything is in the POD. They will do everything except the outside of the windows, which I will have to contract separately. Tonight I took 7 bags of books to re-sell. B&N took the cream, and then Half Price Books took the rest.

Tomorrow, it's back to packing and sorting.... and getting ready for the week ahead. It's also Good Friday, and we are due for several inches of snow. It will be a good day to stay in, but I plan to go to hear the Durufle Requiem at the House of Hope in the evening. It is one of my most favorite choral pieces - I've sung it several times and loved it. Watch for another report at T minus 10. Still no decision on the hot tub.....

Posted by hgroteva at 8:16 PM | Cats | Moving

Category "Cats"

May 9, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: Visiting the Tribe

cats 050508.jpg

You can tell that the tribe has made a comfortable transition to their temporary home while the house is being shown for sale. They're in the same positions - just in someone else's bed! A tough life...

They clearly love their new family, especially Kai Miok, who drew this wonderful picture for me. I love the phonetic spelling (Poce = Pookie; Sate = Sadie; Mcens = Mackenzie; Shadou = Shadow). I especially love the big heart next to Sadie. As I've said many times before, when I die, I want to be reincarnated as one of my cats.

Kai Miok cats-2 copy.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 5:38 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

Category "Life"

Category "Travel"

July 30, 2008

Traveling with the Tribe

Tuesday we began the journey with the Tribe back to Amherst. They have had the incredible good fortune to stay with a very loving and attentive foster family since early April, when the house when on the market. Bibiana, Kai Miok, and Lee have our unending thanks and appreciation!

The trip actually went better than I had feared. I read a lot on the internet and talked to many people about strategies for traveling with multiple cats. My sister lent me a large dog crate that fit 3 of the cats and their oval bed.

cats in crate.jpg

Shadow went in a separate carrying bag - he would have popped out of the crate like a jack-in-the-box and incited a riot, if he could! I got kittie tranquilizers from the vet and gave a 1/4 tablet to Shadow. By 20 minutes, he was staggering like a drunken sailor. It seemed to take the edge off for him, but by the end of the day he was his usual active self.

When we got to the hotel (thanks to LaQuinta for their pet-friendly policy!) in Merrillville (or something like that) Indiana, the Tribe were all thrilled to get out and explore a bit. They were especially fascinated by the mirrors in the bathroom.

in hotel mirror.jpg

They did a lot of sniffing etc. Sadie jumped in a dresser drawer and then promptly got behind the drawer and at the bottom of the dresser. Fortunately, she popped back up, because the bottom drawer was a false one and did not open.

Once they explored to their hearts' content, they settled in. All four found a space on what was to be my pillow. Hmmm - where will I sleep??

on the pillow.jpg

They pretty much slept together through the night. Pookie found a warm corner on the floor and they all piled on, as they are wont to do. So Day One - so far, so good. We made it past Chicago. YUCK- I hate the traffic there, no matter which route. Several of the major freeways are undergoing major construction, so the remaining lanes are very narrow and the trucks are MANY.

Anyway, off to hit the road again. Round em up, move em out.

Made it to Erie PA by 6 pm. The driving was MUCH easier east of Chicago. The tribe seemed to be less anxious today - now they know the drill. Shadow didn't need medication. They love exploring the hotel room. Tomorrow night we will be home. They'll have lots new to explore there.

We made it home! The cats spent a lot of time sniffing out the new house. Unlike a one-room hotel room, here they have 2 floors and a whole bunch of rooms. But they are settling in and seem pretty happy. Phew! But the very best news of the day is that we have an offer on the house. Fingers crossed, but the buyer has verbally accepted our counter-offer. It's good we're all comfortable with technology. I was communicating with the realtor from somewhere on the New York State Thruway, and Susan was calling in from West Texas on her way east. We will be signing contracts pdf'd to us and faxing or pdf'ing them back to MN. But her favorite story is the closing she conducted when the seller was on a boat in the Suez Canal.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:10 AM | Cats | Life | Travel

Category "Cats"

August 2, 2008

Gifts for a Major Transition

Gifts from Kai Miok 0708.JPG

Dear Kai Miok,

Thank you so much for the wonderful gifts you chose for us, as we transitioned from your home to Massachusetts. We could tell that each present was lovingly wrapped and labeled by you. We were pretty distracted by the road trip and hotels, so our Herder decided that we would unwrap and enjoy the gifts after we made it to our new home. We had a very nice party - the mouse was fun to play with (although Pookie was above it all) -- we'll have to slip him some of that catnip! Anyway, thank you for being so sweet and for caring for us for the past 5 months. You have an open invitation to visit at any time.

Love, Pookie (candidate for President; D-Mass.); Shadow; MacKenzie; and Sadie (First Lady, hopefully).

P.S. On Tuesday night, we get to meet our 2 new tribe members (Dylan and Chloe) and Sierra, the barking one, for the first time. We will post pictures. It should be "interesting" for all concerned! We're glad that we have had almost a week to claim our territory in the new house and figure out where all the good hiding places are.

Posted by hgroteva at 7:22 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

Category "Massachusetts"

August 24, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: No Peaceable Kingdom Yet


This picture, taken last week, belies the level of serenity in the feline kingdom here. The MN tribe (pictured above; L to R: MacKenzie, Pookie, Shadow, Sadie) is as mellow as ever within its own boundaries. But the NM tribe is a bit more rambunctious, and there have been numerous border skirmishes among various, mostly female, parties. Sadie, the littlest, refuses to relinquish her status as alpha. Chloe deals with threat by appearing to be aggressive. Shadow's size can be intimidating, but he can also be scared into a corner by Chloe. And King Pookie is royally above it all -- he just lounges around and lets it all happen around him. It's pretty funny.

This is a pretty big house, so there's really room for everyone to have his/her own corner. The MN tribe have continued to hang out in the guest bedroom (see photo). Often, they are in their Tonkpile ... but once I saw them each posted at a different corner of the bed, as if to be protecting against incursions. I think they will all gradually settle down eventually.

New students start arriving this week. After 5 or 6 trips this summer (I lost count), I am glad to have my feet on the ground for a while. With a bit of luck, the sale of our MN house will close this week. I will post fireworks about that when it happens.

PS: I had intended to post this Friday...

Posted by hgroteva at 6:18 PM | Cats | Massachusetts

Category "Cats"

Category "Massachusetts"

September 18, 2008


This kind of mouse??

computer mouse 2.jpg

No, this kind of mouse....


I have never lived in a house with mice, but there's a first time for everything. Technically, the mice are in the garage, not in the house, but one got into the kitchen last night. Would you believe these sweet things are good mousers?

Cats together5.jpg

Last night, Chloe saw a mouse run under the refrigerator. She worked really hard to get it with her paw or her mouth ... no luck. When I went to bed, she stayed on the watch. This morning when I went down for breakfast, she was STILL THERE waiting for that mouse!

She apparently waited until mid-day, when the mouse finally appeared ... and she GOT IT! Three cheers for Chloe.

She and Dylan are enjoying time outside, individually and together. Tonight they were rolling around on the driveway under the car. That's one way the tribes are keeping the peace a bit -- the NM cats spend some time outside, and the MN cats are indoor beasts. I thought things were calming down a bit until last night. Chloe was curled up on my desk. When Sadie spotted her, her tail exploded to 5 times its normal size and the hissing began. She chased Chloe all over my study until I finally separated them. She kept trying to egg Chloe on, but she wouldn't take the bait.

The other day, Dylan lost a fight with Sadie. And then he went and beat up on Pookie! Kind of like the boss yells at you at work, and then you come home and kick the dog. So it goes in the animal kingdom.

Posted by hgroteva at 7:28 PM | Cats | Massachusetts

Category "Cats"

Category "Minnesota"

October 17, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging (+ a little political commentary): Missing Shadow




Shadow has been missing for a little over 48 hours. He's 9 years old and has never shown any interest in going outdoors. But he got curious Wednesday afternoon and was lured outside, and hasn't been heard from since. We have been walking the neighborhood calling his name & talking to neighbors. We keep the house lit up like a stadium at night so he can find the way. This is a very quiet street, so we don't think he has had a mishap with a car. But there are some brushy areas and a creek nearby. Anyway, send good vibes to Shadow (and me).

Tonight, I sat in disbelief (not really) to hear Michele Bachman (R-MN) tell Chris Matthews that many (most?) liberals and leftists were un-American. Later in the program, he had on the editor of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel. who commented that she thought Bachman was "channeling Joe McCarthy." I agree. It all came about because of a robocall that is being pushed out by the McCain campaign in the states that are still in play, emphasizing the association between Obama and Bill Ayers, and using scary language to imply that Obama is dangerous and un-American. How far into the gutter must we go? It's pretty disgusting. I thought Obama was extremely presidential in all 3 debates, and I would be proud to call him my President. If the other side wins, there will be bleak times ahead.

Posted by hgroteva at 7:45 PM | Cats | Minnesota

Category "Cats"

October 20, 2008


I just went down to close up for the night, and Shadow was sitting in the front porch window! I cannot believe it - I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.

He was a bit skittish and seems a bit thinner, but he's eating (with gusto) and is loving to rub against everything. I am so, so happy!!!

He has been gone for 5 days, and at least 2 of the nights got down into the mid 20s. He doesn't seem scratched up or anything -- just seems to be a little thin and weak. I will be happy to nurse him back to health!

Posted by hgroteva at 10:21 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

October 21, 2008

The Shadow Report (+ a little more political commentary)

Thanks to all of Shadow's fans for your supportive thoughts while he was missing and your joy upon his return. He's doing extremely well. After being a bit wobbly and thin, he has eaten his fill and is now seeming pretty much back to normal. An incredibly resilient fellow - fortunately!

On the political front, I continue to be amazed at the naivete of Rep. Bachman from MN and Gov Palin. Tonight, Chris Matthews (Hardball) interviewed Bill Maher and they discussed one clip from Bachman (need to investigate how many of those people in Congress are pro-American) and Palin (the VP can "get in there [the Senate] and make a lot of good policy changes.") Maher's comment on the duo was - "That's a real Beavis and Butthead we've got there."
Judge for yourself. (This election can't come soon enough!)

Posted by hgroteva at 6:48 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

October 24, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging - Palling around in the Tonkpile

Tonkpile 102208.jpg

Still liking to be close, after all these years. Shadow is on the left.

Posted by hgroteva at 2:34 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

January 17, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging - Upstairs, Downstairs

Tonkpile 011709.JPG

It's been a while since I've posted about the tribe(s). There are still 2 distinct tribes -- the Upstairs and the Downstairs. The Downstairs also occasionally go outside, but not during this bitter cold and snow. The females still get into it. Mackenzie and Sadie wander downstairs and make forays into the Downstairs territory now and then, and then a great chase / howl scene ensues. When I go down for breakfast in the morning the Upstairs cats follow me down, waiting for their food, which I put in a different place (hallway) than I do for the Downstairs tribe (kitchen counter.)

As you can see from this photo (taken today), the Upstairs group is as tight as ever. It never ceases to amaze me how perfectly close and snug they can get to each other. When it's below zero outside, it's pretty adaptive. I've been home sick for the past 2 days and Pookie has been an excellent nurse cat.

Posted by hgroteva at 10:12 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

January 30, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging - Chloe and Dylan

Chloe and Dylan together.JPG

They're not always this lovey-dovey, but the NM cats Chloe and Dylan do have an amazingly photogenic way of curling up together. When one is already in the bed, the other has to be very discreet about requesting entry. Usually this involves literally tip-toeing in, and giving the other a good lick as a bonding gesture. Occasionally they get into a good tussle in the bed, and then they jump on the table, chase around, and make nasty sounds. Like most siblings.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:31 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

March 20, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging: Sadie the Shady Lady

Sadie a 031509.JPG

Doesn't she look innocent?
This little fuzz ball has terrorized the two NM cats to the point that that they slink around the house fearing that she will pounce on them. We have entertained the idea of finding another home for her, where she can be the ONLY queen bee. But first, we are trying kittie prozac. It hasn't kicked in yet, but it's only been a few days. She is very affectionate with the MN cats (especially Pookie), so I think it's really a dominance thang. Stay tuned.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:14 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

Category "Massachusetts"

April 22, 2009

Feline Advice Sought

My blogging frequency has slipped lately, as we prepare to move to our new house next week. Those of you who have followed this blog know the trials and tribulations we have had integrating our two tribes of Tonkinese (let's call them the NM and the MN tribes.) Sadie continues to be aggressive, but we are hoping that the move to a new house will break up current behavior patterns and press the proverbial reset button.

We will be moving the cats on the same day as we move our furniture. The moving company estimates that the process will take all day, so we will probably take the cats to the new house early in the morning. One of us will stay at the new house, and the other will supervise the move at the old house. Do any of you faithful readers have suggestions about how to introduce them to the new house? Turn them all loose at once, close the door, and let them sort it out??! Sequester the two tribes in separate rooms? The two NM cats have already visited the new house. Interestingly, Chloe was like Dora the Explorer - she quickly scooted throughout the house and claimed it as her own. Dylan huddled in a corner. The MN group won't visit until the day of the move. Suggestions?? Maybe we should tranquilize them? Or perhaps tranquilize ourselves? Stay tuned... Please leave comments!

Posted by hgroteva at 8:43 PM | Cats | Massachusetts

Category "Cats"

Category "Massachusetts"

Category "Moving"

May 7, 2009

Quite the Week

We moved into our new house last Friday - a week ago. Although it went as smoothly as it could have gone, it has been exhausting. The movers came at 7:30 Friday morning and had everything out of the house by about 1:00; then they took a brief lunch break and started unloading at the new place. The unloading was finished around 7:30 pm. The following day we brought the cleaning crew into the old place, and it is now clean and empty with the exception of about 200 boxes, which I have advertised for free on Craigslist (come get 'em on Saturday). At the new house, we've dealt with the garbage service, propane delivery, recycling barrel delivery people, lawn folks, mail folks, builder, cable people, and others I'm forgetting at the moment.

One of the more painful glitches was that the washer and dryer didn't fit through the door to the laundry room, even with the door taken off. So the builder had to come and remove the trim, install the machines, and then put the trim back on. But it's in place now.

The cats (individually) have adapted well to the new house, but the MN and NM tribes are still not integrating. Sadly, we have decided to find a new home for Sadie. As much as I love Sadie, she has poor Dylan cowed into slinking around and hiding above cupboards that are 10 feet tall where she can't be seen from below. We need more peace in the kingdom. The cats have enjoyed venturing outside a bit (yes, even Pookie) - but our neighbor warned us not to let them out after dark. She mentioned sightings of deer, moose, coyotes, and bear. So we round 'em up at night.

Despite all this grousing, once the dust settles, I know I'm going to love it here. The view westward is magical and changes by the minute all day. I've been taking a series of pictures from the same vantage point and will post them as soon as I can get to it (after all those papers are graded).

Thanks to all who have sent good wishes for the move. They have been much appreciated! I told my colleagues that I hope they like me, because I'm not moving again!

Posted by hgroteva at 9:26 PM | Cats | Massachusetts | Moving

Category "Cats"

May 10, 2009

Sadie's New Family

Sadie moved to a new family today. If you've been following this blog, you know that her adjustment to the other cats has been, well, not what you would call "adjustment." One of our new neighbors fell in love with Sadie and mentioned that her sister was looking for a new cat. We met her sister and husband today, and they really liked Sadie too. So she went home with them to Newport, RI. We agreed to keep in touch, and if things don't work out there, they can bring her back. Chloe must sense her absence already, because just in the space of 2 hours she is more relaxed, climbing into our laps, and purring away. I will miss Sadie - she loved to perch on my shoulder and purr - but her being in a different environment will be good all the way around. She will have a good home, I am sure.

Posted by hgroteva at 7:15 PM | Cats

Category "Cats"

May 15, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging: Four Minus One

In Sadie's absence, Pookie had a quiet afternoon.

Pookie 051409.jpg

The MN tribe always seemed to sleep in pairs or as a foursome. Pookie always paired with Sadie, but you can see that the dynamic is now a threesome - they seem to be pretty happy, although I'm sure they miss Sadie. On the other hand, peace now reigns in the house and Chloe and Dylan can move around without slinking and fearing attack. By all reports, Sadie is doing well in her new home.

Pookie Shadow Mac 051409 - a.JPG

Pookie Shadow Mac 051409 - b.JPG

Posted by hgroteva at 1:31 AM | Cats

Category "Cats"

Category "Massachusetts"

July 1, 2009

Wednesday Cat Blogging: Missing Dylan

I'm very sad to report that Dylan has been gone for almost 10 days. Even in New Mexico, his nickname was "The Escape Artist." He was never content to be an indoor cat, like some other Tonks we know. He would escape at every opportunity.

Out here, he loved being able to run out in the yard and in the wild area around the house. He had been going in and out for the better part of a month, but left one day and never returned.

Although I may be over-anthropomorphizing, I think it's really changed the dynamics within the tribe(s). First of all, Chloe misses her sleeping buddy. They have been bosom buddies since birth. (That's Dylan on the left.)

Chloe and Dylan together.JPG

Chloe's seemed lonely, and since she lost some air cover, she is being increasing ganged up on by Shadow and MacKenzie. And Pookie has been missing Sadie. Tonight, for the first time, Chloe and Pookie came within 3 inches of each other and sniffed - no growls, no chasing. Maybe they will be the next soulmates ... one can hope.

Every day I go outside, I hope that Dylan will come trotting down the hill, but I'm losing hope. Then I remember that I gave up on Shadow and he showed up 9 days later. Shadow has used at least 5 of his 9 lives. I think Dylan still has at least 8 left.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:55 PM | Cats | Massachusetts

Category "About Inner Geek"

Category "Cats"

Category "Technology"

October 1, 2009

Sidetracked by FB, but Friday Cat Blogging Anyway

Like several of my blogging buds, I've been sidetracked by FaceBook. I started in late June and now have 139 friends. I've found it to be a fascinating experience - I've connected with some folks from high school (and I hadn't really kept up any of those relationships) and I've reconnected with colleagues all over the country, some of whom I'd lost track of. I also have frequent conversations with relatives and with my MN colleagues.

I've found it to be more engaging than blogging, because there is an immediate audience, one known to me, and I can share feedback with others when I wish. With blogging, I've never fully known the extent of my readership. I have had over 11,000 hits, but that's not terribly many for 4 years. I've enjoyed posting and doing my own version of citizen journalism. My blog has also been a spot to reflect in a more extended way than is possible on FB. The two media serve different functions, but they both take precious time. I haven't decided to stop blogging, but we'll see.

In the meantime, fall has arrived in Massachusetts, and the tonks are huddling in their fleece bed. Of course, these are just the MN tonks. Shadow and MacKenzie mercilessly hassle New Mexico Chloe - we have to intervene in major screeching chases around the house several times a week. They are each sweet and wonderful in their own way, but the 2 female chemistry is not working. We thought that when we found a new home for Sadie, this would stop. But in her absence, the other two have taken up the cause. Pookie continues to be above it all. Once in a while, he and Chloe sniff and touch noses, but they're certainly not sleeping together!

Just so she doesn't feel left out, here's a recent snap of Chloe - she loves warm places too!

Chloe in drier 1.JPG

Posted by hgroteva at 10:47 PM | About Inner Geek | Cats | Technology