Category Archives: Animals

Whale Shark!

I had this weird feeling this morning. All I could hear was deep bass. Duh-da. Duh-da. The hair on the back of my knees stood up like the needles of the startled porcupine. And then I saw it, the most vicious creature in the workplace: Whale Shark.
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Powdered Cat

Powdered Cat

Sometimes, instead of drinking my protein drink I make with recycled coffee, I opt to eat a scoop (or two) raw with a teaspoon as I start my morning. I love the texture and flavor.

This morning I woke up early and sat at my computer. My cat Güino loves to jump up and interfere and sit in my lap, his little nose popping up constantly to block my wrists as I type. In front of me were a cup of bitter coffee and a little black bowl of protein powder.

The first couple of bites of powder caused no problems other than caking my teeth temporarily with a pasty mixture. After each bite, I took a sip of coffee and petted the cat as he popped his head up for attention.

The next bite? It was like the cinnamon-challenge-gone-wrong. Somehow, I breathed in sharply as I took a spoonful of powder. It started to invade my lungs as I breathed in. This produced an involuntary cough response.

The powder spewed out of my mouth in a small cloud. Güino’s head caught the brunt of it, covering him in a fine brown powder. He looked at me in surprise, his little whiskers covered in chocolate protein powder.

And then the barrage of little sneezes started, his head bobbing strongly with each sneeze.

I laughed, ignoring the mess of powder on my lap, keyboard, and desktop.

I took the picture when Güino jumped back on my lap a couple of minutes later. I was still amused.

You can tell by the cat’s expression that he wasn’t amused.

Powdered donuts? No. Powdered cat for breakfast.

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Notes From X

My cat Güino loves pieces of Burger King’s Impossible burger as much as I do. I don’t have the heart to tell him it’s vegetarian. Yes, he speaks English, but only when I talk with a formal tone of English. (He’s a tuxedo cat, after all.)

Untrue fact: nipples are exclamation points in Braille.

I finally made it to 151 lbs, after weeks of trying to incrementally gain weight. My self-determined setpoint is 155.

True (But hard to believe) fact: you can lose up to 30% of your taste bud’s ability while flying. I won’t explain the three main reasons but it is fascinating. Flying while on mushrooms doesn’t count.

I’ve been subscribing to Everlywell’s at-home medical diagnostic tools. It’s allowed me to do an amazing array of testing that doesn’t cost me a fortune and gives me peace of mind. I did accidentally spray blood around the kitchen during one of my earlier tests. Evidently, you’re supposed to nick a finger rather than one’s jugular. My last test was for metabolism and its relevant testable components.

True fact: mace is made from the lining around nutmeg seeds. It is possible to get high from ingesting a lot of nutmeg. I tried to eat 74 slices of nutmeg-dusted custard pie (which I LOVE) and instead ended up with temporary diabetes and the ability to run to the bathroom faster than Flash.

True fact: the last letter added to our alphabet was “J” in 1524. Before that, the ” i ” was used for both sounds. This leads me to want to add other letters to the language, as English dropped a few along the way, which surprises people. Having said that, most Arkansans routinely drop several as they talk – and never bother to bend over and pick them back up.

My cape and mask gift provided a LOT of anecdotes. I’m not sure how to share them all. It was a total hoot. There were a couple of party-poopers about it, of course. Some people loathe others’ happiness, which is an unfortunate fact. But for some, I turned their disapproval in my favor by doing pirouette cape flourishes and magic tricks. My best trick was making the naysayers fall off my radar. One of my favorite moments was when two Latino construction workers were talking about me at the convenience store. I approached and told them in Spanish, “This cape allows me to understand and speak any language.” The looks on their faces were priceless. “Au Revoir and Auf Wiedersehen,” I told them as I spun, flourishing my cape and laughing.

The cape didn’t allow me to fly unless I’m experiencing a “Greatest American Hero” scenario. (That’s an old TV show for the whippersnappers reading this.) It did, however, give me a lot of joy and happiness – leaving me feeling like I was on Cloud 10, which is one cloud higher than the proverbial Cloud 9.

One more true fact: young children ask up to 300 questions a day.

A lesser-known fact is that a jealous wife or girlfriend asks 1000 questions an hour.

True fact: a woodpecker’s tongue wraps all the way around its brain. It’s a shame they can’t hold an ice cream cone, isn’t it?

Allegedly True fact: most of us spend a year of our lives on the toilet. I’m sure this is a low measure now, given how many go numb in the legs from scrolling social media and TikTok.

Untrue facts: Viking warriors wore helmets with horns. Completely untrue, although film and tv have cemented this false narrative into everyone’s brains.

I had more to say but I got sidetracked reading about all the things that people know to be true but are completely wrong.

“It was only when I bought a motorcycle that I found out that adrenaline is brown.” – Not my quote. 🙂

Love, X
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Güino Objections

Guino sang the song of his people ~ the crystal I placed in the window violated some unspoken compact regarding things in the window. He jumped from the window to my lap as I perched on the end of the bed. And when I tried to take a picture, that too ran afoul of his interminable cacophony of objections.

Max & Max Sr. Or Vice Versa

Another interesting person who I don’t know by name laughs because I call him Max Sr. I did ask him his name but due to the nickname I gave him, I can’t recall what it is now. And that’s okay, as you’ll understand after reading this.

I started seeing him at random times on the trails near work, especially at odd, early hours of the morning. The first few times, we exchanged casual greetings. Each time, I noticed his voice was louder and a bit more friendly. It’s obvious that Max Sr. is a kind, gentle soul who probably doesn’t get to talk to as many people as he once did.

The truth is I wanted to pet his cute 3-year-old dog the first time I saw it. It politely barked at me the first time I passed him and Max Sr. around 3 a.m. one morning. I laughed. I didn’t take it personally.

When I finally got the opportunity to pet the dog, Max Sr. told me that the adorable dog’s name is Max; thus, I brilliantly forgot the owner’s name on purpose and started referring to him as Max Sr. He loves the nickname. Max Sr. thinks of Max as his guard dog and guardian instead of him being Max’s owner. It’s only appropriate, then, that the owner adopt the dog’s name.

I sometimes take short walks, aka Sanity Walks, to get out of the building and see the creek, trees, and people exhausting themselves on the trail. I never step out there without hoping I’ll get to say hello to Max Sr. and to rub Max’s little ears and feel him shiver a little as I pet his back and sides.

I’d be a lot happier if Max and other animals were nearby to pet. A lot of people would. Animals show affection without regard to circumstance. It’s a good lesson we could learn to apply to our lives. The social shield does in some ways protect us. In others, it limits us.

When I see Max Sr. I smile. When I see Max, I smile and get to see immediately that he’s happy with just my presence. What a gift that is!

Maybe you’ll get to pet Max one day, too. He’ll show you the same love after he barks a few times to remind you that he loves his human.

Love, X

Saturday Morning

It’s such a beautiful October morning. It’s 73 now, which is hard to complain about. It’s overcast and the wind is blowing, eddying the leaves across the unkempt parking lot. It’s difficult to not be introspective standing on the landing observing it.

I’m working hard to remember all the things I have to be grateful for. I’ll return to work soon, which is both a blessing and a concern. My current tally for medical bills is 65-70K. It’s better to have the bills than to not have woken up after emergency surgery – there’s no doubt about that! It will wipe me out, of course. This not only reminds me that I wish we all had universal health care, but that any of us, at any time, can be subject to the caprice and whims of our bodies and the universe. I’m foolish because I’ve preached this lesson for years, to people who privately didn’t believe it. Everything is eventual.

My cat Güino is taking his job as a litter-scatterer very seriously, using his large paws to trap a surprising amount of litter. Previously, he stalked around on carpet. Wood vinyl floors start to look like a sandy beach with a nervous cat prowling around exploring. He’s getting old, but I’m considering teaching him to walk on a leash. I know, good luck, right? I have a neighbor who walks his cat on a leash like a dog. Either that or I’m high from all the cannabis wafting around here.

The other picture is a screenshot of some of the wi-fi networks. I have a “Stepbrothers” fan, as well as a fan of… hazy oblivion. “Porn Freak” comes up regularly, too. Noticeably absent is the drug dealer who always finds a place in most apartments. “Find Jesus” popped up twice, perhaps in response to, and as a reminder of, the others. I’m going to have to change mine again. I’ll pick something boring. 🙂

The third picture is of one of the two windowsills I completely redid to not only fix the horrid condition of the previous sills but also to expand and support a wider sill for plants. And now, fortuitously, a prowling cat. The backside of the apartment complex is indeed a wilderness. I’m glad I live on the second floor. You’d have to be crazy to live on the bottom level. I’ll have to be creative in the big front window. Previously, I built a privacy blocker for the bottom of the large front window, which is just a foot off the floor. I flipped it so that Güino can perch there if he wishes. I’ll have to get creative to recruit more birds to the feeder. My neighbor has a monopoly on all of them with the draw of a vast variety of plants and feeders. Güino is accustomed to up-close and personal views of plants, squirrels, and birds. I’m sure my ex-wife is going to get up and miss seeing him at the various vantage points of the old house. The squirrels, however, will probably enjoy the privacy.

The last picture is of Güino perching behind the desk and on the flipped window guard. It’s a contrast having a black and white tuxedo cat in comparison to all the colors here.

Love, X

Güino Returns To Me

Reluctantly, my ex-wife Dawn decided it would be better for Güino the tuxedo cat to come to stay with me in the apartment. We adopted him from the Springdale Shelter when he was very young. When I first moved here, even though he’d never been here, I walked in the door expecting him to run to me. When I lived in Springdale, it was a ritual. He’d run up and I’d scoop him up and hold him like a baby. He’s 13.5 years old now and weighs 9.9 lbs. I already ate tuna for supper so that he could have the juice. It’s a gentlemen’s agreement we’ve shared for his entire life. Dawn gave me about 12 packets of treats, too. Güino trained us to dispense treats constantly.

The picture of me is on the way over to my old house. I hadn’t been there since I left. I put on my cat and fishbowl brooch for good luck. When I went inside, Güino looked at me strangely. It’s true I probably look a lot different. It’s likely he thought I was gone forever. I picked him up and held him like a baby. I didn’t take a picture when I left because I was in tears.

Dawn gave up a lot letting me have the cat. She was concerned people would think poorly of her for letting me take Güino. No one should think that, and not just because I’m the selfish and lucky recipient. If something happens to me, he should go back to her. I’m not being maudlin; surgery refreshed my memory of how easily any of us could go without any warning.

Güino crescendoed his caterwauling as I drove.

It was surreal releasing him into the apartment.

He’s still anxious. If I sit still, he stretches out near me, waiting for another rub. I rolled him with high-quality lint rollers and a fur brush.

If I keep petting him, he might go bald.

We’d be twins.

Thanks, Dawn. I’ll try to keep him safe and loved.

Love, X

Do Birds Have Surnames?

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I recently put up 2 initial birdhouses. Soon, there will be several more.

For the first, I watched as a small bird began tentatively investigating the house I attached to a peculiar neon jungle green ‘tree’ I created.

I named this tiny bird “Shouty,” given its long birdsong, followed by an odd series of clicks. It would be easy to identify by picture – but I don’t want to.

In its first few attempts, Shouty struggled to get the pieces of stems and twigs through the tiny opening of the birdhouse. It reminded me of those videos where the dogs confusedly attempt to get fetched sticks through the opening laterally. Like those labs, the bird eventually learned to turn its head. Since then, I’ve watched it push through stems and twigs that were 8 inches long.

While it is interesting to know the bird’s name, it’s not necessary. The birds don’t know their human-conferred names. “Pecker,” or “Swoopy,” and “DragonBrid” are more entertaining forms of naming, anyway.

Merlin, Audobon, and others provide incredibly accurate apps to help those interested to identify the birds they see. Song Sleith (and others) allow you to identify the birds around you using their songs.

My point is that while I am fascinated by the names of birds, they don’t add to my enjoyment of watching them. At times, trivia related to specific birds entertains me but is secondary to watching them jump, swoop, and navigate their environments.

In short, I’m a bird moron and I like it that way.

P.S. My backyard project will never be finished. It already looks different. The tree-patterned hanging light I bought from Amazon turned out to be one of the prettiest things I’ve accidentally come across.

Like Butter, Squirrel Edition

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As ordained in the rituals of life, I passed part of the early spring doing futile battle with the encroaching squirrels. Most of them trespass into this area and my yard without even obtaining tourist visas, as all the trees here are quite young. The bird feeders are stationed up front, where we can stare out the windows, amused by our offended cat firing himself at the glass like an artillery shell as he notes invaders there. I’m waiting to see what our cat Güino will do if and when he breaks through the glass and finds himself face to face with a tree rodent. My guess is that he’ll shriek and hurl himself back inside the safety of the house.

As the hummingbirds and wild birds diminished, I removed the feeders. Given the jungle-like state of the properties behind me, I can feed and enjoy the wild birds as they amass along the dense brush there. One day it occurred to me that I might tempt the squirrels on their own turf. I started by dumping cereal, popcorn, bread, and any other food item I thought the squirrels might enjoy.

When I bought this house, the builders foolishly tried to avoid clearing the trees along the property line. I insisted and they begrudgingly removed them, leaving one wide stump jutting from the fence line. That stump serves as an accessible table for the wildlife. The cardinals and finches sometimes swarm from the brush by the dozens. It always delights me. Instead of using a feeder, I sometimes scatter an entire bag of bird seed in the area.

In the 3 years, I’ve lived here, I’ve used the narrow sliver of the backyard by the fenceline to throw any food that could potentially be eaten. Whether for the birds, squirrels, or Sasquatch, the consumer wasn’t my concern. We have a couple of cats of undetermined ownership who visit us and say “Hello,” too.

One larger squirrel, one mistrustful of even his own bushy tail, began jumping down in huge leaps to observe me as I hurled food at the fence. I put out a mess of popcorn and an entire stick of butter as an offering of peace. After a few minutes, I peered through the slats in the kitchen door and noted that the reluctant squirrel had propped the entire stick of butter at an angle – and was busy chewing it with gusto. I could almost hear him smack his lips. The squirrel’s name is now Splat Albert due to the fact of his size and in the event of a fall, it’s going to be a quick demonstration in mass and gravity as he plummets to the ground. While I can’t testify that Splat Albert single-handedly consumed the entire stick of butter, I believe he did.

Over the next few weeks, I began to leave more sticks of butter, followed by entire jars of nuts. The place on the stump seemed to be our DMZ. I learned that Splat loves grapes, watermelon pieces, broccoli and a huge variety of other foods. I think I found an equal opportunity eater.

It seems that Splat Albert has forgotten our previous Feeder Wars. One possibility is that the butter has clogged his tiny arteries already. Another is that he is enjoying his adventure as he does the “Before vs. After” conversion in reverse; instead of becoming sleeker and healthy, he has surrendered himself to the diet I’ve prescribed. If he continues to eat entire jars of nuts and butter at this rate, I may need to climb up the tree and place him on the upper perches where his nest resides.

For now, Splat Albert is once again happy, as I poured another jar of nuts for him today, followed by a stick of butter. If I open the door, he’ll excitedly chirp at me to come no closer.

There are those who will say, “You can’t feed squirrels THAT!” To be clear, I’m not feeding them anything, nor setting the table for them as they choose their own menu. I’ll admit I’ve had many laughs, watching the squirrels (and Splat in particular) slowly grow in girth. I’ve put away my pink Daisy BB gun, the one previously used to frighten the squirrels as they slithered up and down my bird feeders. Splat fails to see the butter as a weapon. Perhaps he knows that a domestic food supply and absence of a road will lengthen his lifespan considerably, even if he becomes too fat to enjoy it. Regardless, I’m letting Splat choose his own diet, one free of BBs.

The picture is of one of Splat’s neighborhood encroachers, a squirrel which squeals in terror if Splat jumps from the trees above. It’s a “Before” picture.

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This is one of our feline visitors. You’ll note that Splat made a hasty exit from the stump. He’s hiding in the top of the bush, although it’s impossible to see him perched there, watching the cat.