Wheel alignment

Sunday 12 December 2010

The non-human members of the family...

Following  Nicos' recent post about his soccer-averse moggie and Trobairitz'  photo of the majestic Squire Basil, plus seeing that it's close to Christmas, warm fuzzies and all; I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce our non-motorcycling feline layabouts, Henry and Thomas.  For tenuous reasons, we have cats named after people from the literary world.  Pushkin was our 18 year old black Persian who passed away 11 years ago.  Henry (James) has just turned 11 and Thomas (Hardy) has just turned 9. Like cats everywhere, they're an integral part of the family and have very definite and diverse (psychotic?) personalities.

After Pushkin passed away, Jennie wanted another cat and spied a kitten at the local vets.  The vet nurse told her that blue-eyed white cats were invariably deaf but she was hooked anyway.  I was less happy because of the worry about it getting run over but was naturally over-ruled.  This is Henry a few days after collection from the vet:

Henry, the chocolate box cat in 1999

Henry promptly repaid Jennie's affection by completely ignoring her and attaching himself to me - he's been that way ever since!  For a deaf cat, he's remarkably talkative - how does that work????

After being ignored for a couple of years, Jennie lost patience and visited the local cat rescue, finding an abandoned Russian Blue cross kitten.  He had one bent ear and slightly runny eyes which triggered a typically  "aww...." response from my Chief Executive.  Now there were 2.....  Thomas immediately bonded utterly and completely with Jennie and it's been that way ever since, although he does acknowledge my presence when he's hungry.  This is Thomas on the day we picked him up:

A little waif with runny eyes and a bent ear tip - awwww....

Like most cats, they have their moments of insanity.  Here's Thomas, killing the cat flap:

Pure insanity!

Before we retired and moved permanently to our beach place, they used to come with us at the weekends and holidays, loving it there.  So much so that they developed a 6th sense for when it was time to go home and would promptly disappear into the undergrowth just before we were due to leave.  Thomas did a runner for 5 hours on one occasion and nearly had to fend for himself or scrounge off neighbours until the following weekend.

A few weeks after that incident, Henry got wind of imminent home-time and sprinted up a tree on a steep slope in the neighbour's garden.  I managed to coax him onto a lower branch then lunged.  At the same time as I grabbed his fur, my feet lost grip on the slope and we both rolled down the bank, flattening small shrubs and accumulating a lot of mud and debris in the process.  I couldn't let go of  Henry as we were ready to leave and he'd just bolt for hours.  Jennie witnessed the whole sorry affair and was in hysterics.  Mustering as much dignity as was possible covered in mud and leaves,  Henry got thrown in the car; followed by me. The cats and I had to endure muffled sniggers for the whole 2 1/2 hour drive home.  After that debacle, we resorted to shoving them in a bedroom before packing the car for the trip home and an uneasy truce existed until we moved full time.

Thomas also enjoys a walk on the beach just behind our place and spends ages investigating the rock pools.  He's an 8kg solid muscle Alpha Male and initiated an unprovoked attack on a neighbour's Weimaraner dog once - highly embarrassing having to apologise for that episode!!  A couple of years ago, he dragged a highly ticked-off live pheasant through the cat flap which then proceeded to poop and flap all over the house.  Nice of him to bring home fresh food though although it's pleasing that headless rabbits have now stopped appearing on the lounge carpet first thing in the morning.  His alias is "Zarg the Destroyer" as we're certain that's how he thinks of himself.

Zarg the Destroyer patrolling the beach

Henry's much more of a pretty boy with fewer bad habits, although he does enjoy regularly ambushing me out in the shrubbery and drawing blood, the bastard. Maybe as retribution for the tree incident.  He loves travelling in the car, grinning out at surprised pedestrians and following motorists.
Butter wouldn't melt.......

Whether it's us or any of the neighbours, the cats always know that boats being towed back up any of the driveways equates to a completed fishing trip and they're there as soon as filleting starts.  They don't scrounge, just sit there with big, soulful eyes - they really know how work a crowd!

Orderly queueing for scraps

Inspecting a neighbour's Snapper catch!

Now, I've already mentioned that Thomas is the alpha male of the district but there's one cat who has totally got his measure.  This is Minka, our neighbour's Tonkinese.  She's 13 or 14 years old and diminutive but has such authority and class that she can stroll in and eat Thomas' food when she feels like it with absolutely no repercussions.  She has that famous stare which all females instinctively posses (hereafter known as THE LOOK)  which of course is guaranteed to make any guy's eyes water!

Here is Minka:

Minka - Supreme Ruler of the Cat Universe

So there we are, indolent members of the household who don't do any housework, are suspect in terms of guarding the property, and don't do anything else particularly productive.  Hmmmm... sounds like our kids before they left home!

Currently, it's around 30 degrees C (90F) and Jennie and I have just been digging up and stacking about 30 sq meters of small block pavers in the garden ready for someone to come in and properly level the area.  Both overheated, dehydrated and stuffed.  A cold beer followed by a nana nap methinks!

It's my last post for the year so......

Wishing you all a wonderful Xmas with all that you would wish for yourselves.  May you also have a magnificent 2011!

Pohutukawa - the NZ Christmas tree


  1. Cute pussys, I am a great fan of cats, mine is called Moses. Very much the boss of the house. Nice write up Geoff, enjoy your xmas hope Santa (ie:Jennie) brings you another bike to add to the collection.

  2. Ahwwww comes to mind. Am a cat person myself, mine was a rescue kitten named Kelly. He was white with black tail and three black spots on the head. If I could I would get myself another fluffy white one.
    Wishing you and Jennie a great holiday season.

    The last picture is exceptionally beautiful. If this isn't going to get you in the spirit... nothing will.

  3. Roger:
    Cheers mate - Moses is a class name. Wise, dignified and probably a complete head case!! I don't think Santa is into second bikes, haha. Actually, we've bought a state of the art GPS as a joint present so we'll have to act surprised on Xmas Day! You have a great break too.

    Hi Sonja!
    Yep, they're great company eh? Hope that you both have a wonderful break with lots of nice goodies.

  4. Very nice cats, Geoff! I'm not especially a cat fancier but after 14 years our cats have soften me. Humble cats are good and seeing yours patiently wait for fish scraps to fall is a great quality.

    I wish you and Jennie a wonderful Christmas & New Year!

  5. Hi Geoff,

    Your cats are so cute! The last cat I had was the meanest animal on the planet and always out to get me when I least expected it!

    Hope you and Jennie have a fantastic Christmas, and wishing you both all the best for 2011.


  6. Hi Mike:
    I've had cats since 5 years of age so they're a natural part of the household. Yep, ours have good table manners!

    And the same to you and the family!

    Gidday Anthony,
    Sorry to hear that, hehe. For their size, they sure pack a wallop when they're mad. Hope you had plenty of bandages :-).

    All the best mate - don't kill too many brain cells!

  7. I'm not an animal person and find cats to be too dumb (hold the fire) ;-) my cat will sit with her back to us and stare at the wall but I love the way you describe your cats. I'm sending a link of your blog to my wife, she's the "Mother Teresa" of the animal kingdom ;-) Our cat is also the queen of the house, loves to beat the dog and hates to be touched.
    A Merry Christmas to you too, may the new year bring good riding....

  8. George:
    Hahaha - vive la difference! I'd prefer a pair of cheetahs as they're a more manly proposition but I think that relationships with our wonderful neighbours might take a backward step.

    Same to you and your family - watch out for the idiot cagers who park their brains (even more than usual) over the festive season!

  9. Great post and I love the narrative about the cats' personalities. We love our little Basil Kitteh but he can be a pain sometimes. You are lucky yours are smart enough for a cat door. Basil will go out one (only when you want him to stay in) but can't figure out to come in that way. Our older cat Baxter (RIP) also preferred the 'catch and release in the house' form of hunting.

    FYI - kitchen salad tongs make great 'snake tongs' and those suckers can really fly far over a fence. Screaming and dancing around the kitchen yelling 'not under the stove, not under the stove" is optional.

    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Hi Trobairitz!
    Ah, what I didn't say was that in daylight hours, the cat flap is apparently undignified and they both scratch at the ranchslider on our front deck to be let in and out. No wonder they say dogs have masters and cats have servants!

    Hahaha - thank heavens that NZ is only one of two countries in the world without snakes or Jennie would be reduced to a quivering wreck. She's bad enough when the cats bring a Weta in. (Google a picture - ugly as sin, but harmless)

    Hope you guys have a fabulous Xmas!

  11. Geoff:

    I think after I have had a taste of beachside living I would balk at having to go home too. As soon as you start loading the car I would be looking for a good tree to climb and I'm not even a cat

    I smile as I noticed your lucky fishing shorts.

    Have a good holiday season too, forget it . . . what was I thinking - you are already on permanent vacation

    Wet Coast Scootin

  12. Howdy Bob!
    But you live in a coastal location now, more or less :-). My lucky shorts were worn last Friday and I landed 6 good keepers and Jennie's were all under regulation size and she had to put them back. I was very gracious as I know what's good for me ;-).

    Yes indeed!! I recently mentioned to a mate that we were planning a break in Vietnam and his immediate response was: "Break? As opposed to.....?"

    Best wishes to your family and have a great time.

  13. Geoff

    Hope you amd Mrs Geoff have a purrfect Christmas!


  14. Geoff:

    take a look at this and some photos from NZ


    Wet Coast Scootin

    ps: I hope you post something before Jan 1st

  15. Bob:
    Impressive! I have an old Pentacon Practica Nova SLR lurking in a dark recess somewhere without TTL. Hasn't been used for maybe 30 years and won't be used again. The NZ photos are lovely - probably Lake Wanaka in the South Island.

  16. Always a pleasure to check in with you. Have a great holiday season.

    Chris in Calgary Canada.

  17. Many thanks Chris. Hope that you have a wonderful Festive Season with all that you ever wished for!

  18. Get a real pet Geoff! http://banditrider.blogspot.com/2010/12/pets-bikes.html

  19. I shared 15 years of my life with a Russian Blue/Siamese mix. He loved to play fetch. He would chase a crumpled up cigarette wrapper then bring it back to me so that I could throw it again. When I quit smoking, he quit fetching.

    I've had dogs but I've never figured out why. I much prefer the company of cats over the responsibility of having a dog.

    My present companion cat is named Leo and he likes to think he wears the pants in the household.


    Nice post.


  20. Hi Keith,
    Everything I've ever read about Russian Blues says that they're the comedians of the cat world and immensely loyal. If Leo is anything like our two, he DOES wear the pants in the household.

    Andrew in the post above yours infers that his pooch is super-fierce, hehe. Two of my riding partners have Maine Coon cats which grow up to 15kg! Anything short of an elephant is in trouble if they turn nasty!! If you've never seen one: http://www.mainecoon.co.nz/.

    All the best for the festive season!

  21. I'm a sucker for kittehs.... yours are gorgeous! My Oscar Bin Laden (Persian-Himalayan) died in October, and geriatric, piddly fleabag Miffy may not be long for this world - and part of me wonders whether I can go through the whole cat thing again. Have had cats all my life, and they certainly complete a 'home' - but it's so so hard saying goodbye!

    Love your blog :-) PS - no snakes in NZ? Serious? I guess that makes up for the earthquakes... (my dad lives in Chch, which seems to have a permanent wobble on at the moment.)

  22. Cheers Sue! Yep, they're full members of the family all right, with all the highs and lows that go with membership.

    No snakes, only a couple of mildly venomous spiders but we're not called the Shaky Isles for nothing!

    Safe riding - will be watching your excellent blog :-)


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