May: Feral Wonders

Last month, the big news was the kittens being born. Ms. Squeaks never trotted them out for me to see, so I had to steal glances when I could. I knew where they were, but I wasn’t going to let on, because I didn’t want her to move them again. At least, not because of me. At one point, I had to cut the grass, but I made sure I left a large enough space of tall grass (and weeds) so they’d still have a hiding spot.

About six weeks went by. I saw the kittens fairly regularly by that time. They would be running around and playing in the tall grass. The “helper” cat was usually around them. Ms. Squeaks would be doing her thing, lounging on the patio.

Before I go on, I should say a few things about Ms. Squeaks. When she first came around the property, she was a horribly skinny thing. She always glared at me from a distance. She also seemed to have a hard time eating the dry cat food: taking a few bites, looking like it was difficult to chew, and then leaving it alone.

So, I, being the soft hearted guy I am, started feeding her one can of wet food a day. This bridged the gap between us. She started to enjoy getting her head scratched. And, unfortunately, she would start scratching at her in a big way. The kind of way where she would growl as she really dug in there.

This worried me, and I always wished I could get a vet to do a house call. I would have tried to get her in a carrier, but I didn’t want to stress her out, as feral cats tend to be when confined. So I let it go, and felt bad.

During this time, she developed a kind of relationship with Nazboo, the indoor cat. I would open the front door and she would stare inside, until she saw him. Then she’d get close to the door and the two would boop noses together. And then they would both turn around and that would be that. Later, the nose booping would turn to her giving him affectionate looking head butts. She went from never entering the house (except once, when she took a tour of the entire place), to coming inside long enough to rub against Nazboo. Who would then look at me, like had no idea of what was going on.

So, these cats aren’t strays, as they tend to stay on my property or my noisy next door neighbor’s property. But they aren’t house cats so, to my mind, that makes them feral. Especially since it takes a lot of time and effort to work up a trust. As an example, the helper cat still does not like to get close to me, even though he now shares wet food with Ms. Squeaks. But, I also think it’s not its job to be friendly. It’s there to make sure the kittens are safe when Squeaks is otherwise engaged.

Helper Cat, not looking friendly

One morning, then, when I was leaving to go grocery shopping, I was surprised to see Squeaks, the helper cat, and a tiny kitten on the porch. I looked at the kitten, and it looked like it’s eyes were stuck shut. I didn’t think that was normal, since the others had big, wide eyes, that stared at me from beyond the grass line.

Afflicted Kitten

So, again, me being me, I start calling veterinarians. I started with the closest ones and was told there was no availability, but I could make an appointment for one to two weeks out. I didn’t think that would cut it. One suggested I bring it to an animal shelter. I didn’t that would be good, either. Finally, I found a place about an hour away. I explained the situation to them and they said, “Hey, bring it in. I’ll give the doctors a heads up.”

Relieved, I went and got the carrier and brought it outside. I opened the front door and went to grab the kitten. She was a feisty one, but not being able to see gave me a slight advantage. She would still wriggle a lot and get loose. Being afraid of hurting her, I held her low to the ground and didn’t grip to hard, so that wasn’t getting me anywhere. I opened the top of the carrier, reasoning that I could let her drop into it and she’d be okay, since, well, she was a cat, but I also had padding in there. So I scooped her up, let her wriggle her way out of my hands and right into the carrier. I closed the top and started to close the front, when Ms. Squeaks walked right on in to the carrier. She nudged the kitten a bit, then laid down next to her.

I was surprised, but not surprised enough to look a gift horse in the mouth. I closed the front of the carrier and carried it to the car. Surprisingly, Ms. Squeaks didn’t panic. She seemed interested in the ride, and would nuzzle the kitten when she started getting squirmy.

Even at the vet’s, she didn’t seem at all disturbed. She just laid there, taking it all in. I was told it would be about two hours and they brought the carrier into the back. I didn’t see the sense in leaving, since it would be an hour going home, anyway. So I hung around.

In the end, it took four hours. I don’t blame the clinic, though. I saw it go from nothing going on, to all kind of emergencies happening at once. I know they were busy at times. The end result was, everyone was impressed with Ms. Squeaks behavior. And she got a clean bill of health, aside from some ear mites. There’s nothing wrong with her teeth or jaws, so it just might be that she doesn’t like dry food.

The kitten was a bit more dire. A bad eye infection. They sent me home with eye drops and antibiotics. I hope to God I did the eye drops correctly.

Anyway, I got them home and Squeaks took off to tend to her other kids, while I took the kitten inside. I didn’t really know what to do with her. I couldn’t let her run loose because her eye infection could have been transferred. I couldn’t keep her in the carrier all night. In the end, I took a spare room and put some cat toys in there and cleaned it up of the more dangerous things. I went to the store and got a small litter box and some kitten sized bowls and set them all up for her.

Her medicine required me seeing her at least every eight hours, but I tried to drop in more than that. Not that it mattered. The girl would wedge herself behind a box and not come out. To give her the meds, I had to move a giant box and pick her up. Then I put it back so she’d have a place to feel safe.

A Safe Space

I also felt that it would be nice if Ms. Squeaks would visit. That way, they would both know that the other was still around. Getting Ms. Squeaks inside wasn’t that difficult. I opened the door, she strolled in and started calling for her kitten. I led her to the door of the room and opened it and the two met, somewhat happily, I think. Maybe too happily, because momma tried to walk out with her kitten.

Mom and Daughter breakfast

Eventually we all got the hang of it, until I made the mistake of feeding Ms. Squeaks her canned food in the kitten room. I thought it was also a good idea, because it would show the kitten what could be eaten, which included the canned food and the kitten dry food I had gotten, because Ms. Squeaks is a voracious eater. What started with having the two cats have their head in the same bowl, eating the same food, turned into momma cat eating the food and the kitten trying to nurse on Squeaks.

Besides, that, though, the kitten opened up. She would start coming out of hiding when I opened the door. She’d play with me as I tossed various toys around. By the end of the week, I had become a human playground for her to crawl all over and bite.

At one point, I bought a new bed for her and Nazboo. Same bed, slightly different colors. I’m happy to say that they both use their new beds. It’s always satisfying when that happens.

Nazboo and Angel (the kitten) don’t interact. Most of it is because I keep them apart, on account of the eye infection. There was one time, though, early in the week, Angel ended up underneath the futon in the living room. I was trying to get her out, when Nazboo showed up behind me. Angel, I guess on seeing another cat, ran out from under the futon and right at Nazboo, who was surprised by this little missile. He jumped and hissed. And this started the falling apart of Ms. Squeaks and Nazboo’s relationship. They no longer have a friendly thing going.

In other news, as of yesterday, the kitten has been bolting out of her room when I open the door. She gets out of the room, and walks around for a little bit. This morning, she saw Nazboo and walked towards him. Nazboo… ran away. Angel took a few hesitant steps toward him again, but he hissed at her and tried to run into his ‘jungle gym’. This frightened Angel enough to send her running to her room. Poor thing. She hasn’t tried to leave it, except for maybe a foot outside the door, since then.

In a few days, Angel goes back to the clinic. Hopefully, we’ll find out if she’s still contagious or not. I’m also hoping that something can still be done about her right eye, which hasn’t healed as well as the left. Then, I have to decide what to do with her.

February 2022 – Chilly Today, No Tamales

Entropy Acres

The shortest month, and, generally the coldest. This year we didn’t get a big snow storm or anything. Just a lot of cold days. And some warm days followed by cold nights. Miss Squeaks is more than happy to spend time in her little house. The other house is vacant, and I can’t convince anyone to take it. The kittens have moved from staying wherever they did stay during the nights, to sleeping on top of one of the padded bistro chairs. It kills me, seeing them huddled together there during the sub-freezing nights, but if I even try to open the door, they both run off to the edge of the patio to see if I’m going to go out.

The grey/white cat has been around more often, lately. As has the black and white cat, who brought a kitten of her own, once. The black cat, too, has been around the last couple of days, which is causing the black and white cat to stay at a distance. Oddly, Miss Squeaks has sometimes gone after the black cat. Sometimes she doesn’t. I’d pay good money to have Dr. Doolittle’s skills.

I spent around twenty minutes one night just watching the opossum. It wombles up, eats from the bowl (with difficulty, thanks to that long nose), drinks from the water bowl, then spends time washing its face. It, too, doesn’t trust me. If I go outside, it disappears. But I like the critter and have no quarrel with anything that eats ticks.

Spiders I don’t mind, so long as I never see them. It was a surprise one day, then, when a medium-sized black one climbed up my monitor while I was working. I don’t necessarily like to kill ’em when I seem them, but it takes a lot of nerves for me to capture them. In this case, I went off to look for something to trap it in. When I got back, it was gone. I looked everywhere, shining a flashlight behind things. Looking at walls. Looking at ceilings. I couldn’t find it, so I sort of let it go. And then I saw it, on the ceiling on the other side of the room. I kept a close on it, because I couldn’t reach it, but it stayed put all day and through the night.

The next day, it started moving, slowly. I checked it, periodically, keeping track of it’s slow trek across the ceiling. It was headed towards one of the vents, or, maybe, the door leading outside. So I watched, and watched, and watched, and then it was gone. Just gone. I looked at all the ceilings, all the walls, and couldn’t find it. I figured maybe it crawled up the vent and that was pretty much it.

Until a few days later when it showed up on my monitor, again. This time, though, I was ready. I grabbed the container and pinned it to the monitor. Well, trapped it on the monitor. Then I spent a long time trying to convince it to get off the monitor and into the container. I tried it with a piece of paper that I would slip between the glass and the container lip, trying to knock it down. Eventually, I succeeded. I righted the container and slapped the lid on it. Then I spent a good chunk of time looking at it to make sure I did, in face, have it trapped. Then I took it outside, released it to the wild, then spent several minutes making sure it was not still in the container. Because I’m paranoid that way.

So far, I have not see another, but I make sure to check my headphones before I put them on.

Kitchen of Entropy

What happened food-wise this month? I tried making a Tex-Mex casserole. It turned out to be, basically, a dry chili. It wasn’t all that exciting. I also made a meat loaf, which was pretty good, but wasn’t anything exciting.

No, the exciting things were the “Chicken Lettuce Wraps“, which turned out pretty nice. It reminded me, though, that what I really wanted was Moo Shu Pork. I researched what it would take to make the pancakes and decided it was too much work. Even using the ‘simple’ way of using pre-made won ton wrappers seemed too involved. So, I didn’t go there.

Eons ago, I watched a Red Dwarf episode where the Cat slaps around a cooked chicken and catches it, saying, “Too slow Chicken Marengo! Too slow for this cat!” Recently, I re-watched the entire series and finally got around to being curious about what a ‘Chicken Marengo’ was. The short version is Napoleon needed some dinner and the cook took whatever he could find and put it together: chicken, tomatoes, crawfish tails, mushrooms etc. So I found a recipe for it. The recipe calls for cremini mushrooms. I checked my store’s website and saw no such thing. All I could find was “baby bella” mushrooms. So I did some research and found out that button mushrooms and Portabella mushrooms were the same thing, just at didn’t parts of the life cycle. Baby Bellas, then were right in the middle of that life cycle. So, there ya go.

In addition to that, I made something called “Slippery Shrimp” that looked interesting. I’m going to be upfront here and say that I fried the shrimp, perfectly. Then I burnt the shit out of the sauce. It was still good, though. I know I keep swearing that, for Asian-inspired recipes, I’m going to double the ingredients for the sauce. I also know that I keep not doing this, and regretting it. Perhaps if I had more sauce, I would not have burned it. That being said, I have no idea why it’s called “Slippery Shrimp.” They weren’t particularly slippery. Considering the sauce contains sugar, I wasn’t really expecting them to leap from my chopstick’s grasp and go flying out the window. So, take that as you will.

It’s still cold, right now, and I’m looking at a lot of soups. March will probably start warming things up, then, if I devote a lot of time towards soups.

December Fur

I went outside early this morning. A black cat (but not the black cat)went running off. It’s been around the past couple of days, but doesn’t stick around very long once the door is open. I’ve never been able to get a good look. The grey cat was around, though, and waiting for food. Surprisingly, there was also a white dot that was moving around, quick as can be.

Once the food started being poured, the grey cat went to find his position. The white dot bounced around, much like the grey cat does when he wants food but doesn’t want to get close. I thought, at first, that it was Miss Squeaks, but she’s never that active. Especially not on cold mornings.

Once I finished with the food, the white dot took off towards the fence. I went back inside and that was that.

Later, after the landscape had lightened up a bit, I looked out the window in the door and got a better look at the white dot. It was bouncing around the grey cat, taking nibbles from the bowl then bouncing around Grey cat, then nibbling, then bouncing.

I figured it wasn’t going to take long for the bowls to be emptied, so I went and re-filled the container. When I looked out the window again, they were sitting on the stoop.

Low light + Dirty window gets you this

Unfortunately, it took off once I got the door open. As I watched it bound off towards the fence, I saw another grey-like kitten take off after it. The other Grey cat watched, and looked like it might go after them, but then decided not too.

I peeked in the house and say Miss Squeaks firmly tucked away in the back corner and it didn’t look like she was ready to come out anytime soon.

Still November

For the past few mornings, I’ve had the pleasure of having all three cats waiting for some food. The white one stays up on one of the bistro chairs, the black one hangs out right in front of the door and then meows incessantly until I give him a scratch on the head and move towards the food bowls. Then there’s the grey one. He’s smaller than the white one, and I’m pretty convinced she’s his mother. I’m assuming it’s a he, it may not be.

The grey cat seems young and isn’t quite up to speed on who the giant is that dumps food for them all every morning. So, he wants to stay close in order to get to the food, but he doesn’t want to be too close, because I am a human. So he ends up zipping to and fro, trying to stay close and far away at the same time. It’s a neat trick that doesn’t actually work. I only see the little guy when it’s dark; when it’s light I turn into a whole different monster (one that doesn’t drop food) so he tends to stay away if I know he’s there.

The chickens have been coming over quite a lot, lately. Usually they stay close to the fence, doing whatever it is chickens do. I don’t mind, as I’ve said.

Buck Buck Buckuk!

The other day, I looked out the window and saw the grey cat wandering around the patio. I took this to mean that the bowls were empty, since he doesn’t like to hang around during the day. I grabbed the food container and opened the front door. I was greeted by an enormous amount of noise as I disturbed a group of chickens hanging out right outside my door. It scared the shit out them and they took off towards the fence in a flurry of feathers and wings. That set off the grey cat, who jumped up on one fence and zipped through the gap in the fence to the neighbor’s yard. It didn’t do me any favors, either, but I went ahead and topped off the bowls.

Getting Comfy

I’ve always wondered where the chickens crossover from next door into my yard. I was pretty happy with the explanation that they got through the fence, walked down the street, and then up my driveway. But lately I’ve been keeping the gate closed on account of stray dogs coming around.

It turns out, they come and go the same way the gray and white cat do (or used to, in white cat’s case). They jump up on the one fence and then either fly over the other fence or squeeze through the gap. Well, that explains how they leave, because I saw them do it, but I’m still not sure how they get here. I assume it’s the same path, but I could be very wrong.

Modern Day Parroting

I haven’t talked about Zoey very much, lately.  There isn’t any particular reason for that other than I’ve been quite busy lately.

For anyone who’s tuning in late, Zoey is an African Grey parrot that we have.  She’s about three years old now. 

She’s a fascinating animal.  Being a parrot she does talk quite a bit.  And that’s one of the things that I find amazing.  Not just that she talks, I expected that.  But rather that she puts together her own sentences.  That she recognizes items.

For instance, Zoey was taught to say, “Doggie is a rat.”  Why she was taught this is immaterial but she picked up on it pretty quickly.  It’s not uncommon to hear, “Odie! [whistling] Doggie is a rat!”

So one weekend when I was busy around the house, more or less ignoring poor Zoey, I was surprised to hear, “Mr. Austin is a rat.”  Mr. Austin is me.  And, unless someone is fibbing, she put that sentence together by herself.

And that’s also why I’m surprised that she does not come up with random word sentences.  I’ll never hear something like: “Apple cat water apple.”  She never comes up with a nonsense statement. 

But I will hear, “Can I have some water?”  Something else nobody taught her. 

And she knows what water is.  If I’m by the sink and her bowl is full of a soupy bird food mixture she’ll start asking for water.  The funny part is, she doesn’t get her water from the sink.  She gets it from a jug or other purified source.  But she sure knows water comes from a faucet.  Any faucet.

Her grasp of an apple can be a bit shaky.  As far as she’s concerned, apples are round and red.  She can identify one on television.  She did get into an argument with me one day about a tomato, though.  She kept calling it an apple and I corrected her.  We went back and forth over that for a while.

And Zoey is quite familiar with the word “no.”  She’ll use it against you.  “Zoey, get down from there!” You might say.  And she’ll say, “No!”

One day she was playing around on me and started to bite my hand.  I told her, “Zoey, you’re hurting me now.  Do you want me to put you up?”

And she said, “No,” quietly.  And she settled down and went back to just grabbing, not biting.

It’s her comprehension that gets me.  And I wonder if she understands more than she shows. 


Parrots in Houston

     So, here we are in Houston.  Sorta-kinda.  We decided to bring the birds along because they don’t like to be cooped up in the cages all day and we’ll be here overnight.

     Both birds have a travel cage, so we thought that would make it easier.  Tooka is ok in his cage, but Zoey’s in new and I don’t think she likes it very much.  She spent quite a bit of the ride over here on my shoulder.  But she was good.

     Now that we’re at Daniel’s place, though, I can’t get her off of me.  If I put her on her cage so I can go outside then as soon as I come through the door she’s off that cage and trying to climb up my leg.

     She’s so spoiled.

Thoughts for a Hump Day

First, a bird in motion.

Tooka The Cockatoo

I’m glad to see that I’m learning how to do rudimentary things, like create videos and upload them and then link them to my blogs.  You know, stuff that I would have done a long time ago if I had the incentive to do it. 

Father’s Day is coming up.  This Sunday, in fact.  I take it for granted that I have a great dad.  There’s nothing worse than talking  to someone and reminding them that Father’s Day is coming up and then listening to what a horrible son of a bitch this person’s father is or was.  It ranks up there with complimenting someone on their weight loss and being told they have cancer.

As far as television goes, I’m still enjoying Hell’s Kitchen.  I wonder, sometimes, how I would do on a show like that.  Not cooking-wise.  I don’t think I’d last very long there.  I mean personality-wise. 

Then I wonder if there will every be another Kid Nation.  That show was just bizarre.  I doubt there will be, though, considering the ruckus they raised with the last one.  It’s kind of a shame, though.  I guess it’ll be a few years before anyone finds out if the kids are scarred for life, or if they benefited from the experience.

Various Updates

I don’t think I should have written so much yesterday. I didn’t leave much for today. But I’m American and we Americans are always up for some instant gratification and excess.

Everyone tells me that Zoey, the African Gray Parrot, talks up a storm when I’m not there. That she says, “Hello” and “Daddy” and lots of other things. When I see her, all I get are whistles, “clucks”, and a puppy barking. Oh, and the kissy noises. Sometimes she’ll do the barking sound if I say “puppy” and kissing noises if I say “kissy.” Otherwise, it’s beeps and clucks and stuff. Sort of like hanging around R2-D2.

She looks like she’s growing a little and gaining a bit of weight, so I guess her diet is OK. I’d like to get a few more different types of nuts. I wish she could eat onions. I probably shouldn’t get her so used to “human” food, though. She likes spicy food, so we get along all right, there.

I’d been trying to get to Half-Price Books and see if I can start re-building my James P. Blaylock collection. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Hi-Tech Nostalgia — Part // is still in the works. It’s kind of stalled a little bit. But it’s still a work in progress.

Avoiding Bad Habits

So, the kids have been out of school this week for Spring Break.  That leaves Michelle and the kids and a highly impressionable young talking bird in the house.  All at once.  I see this as a coming disaster.

I’m waiting to come home and be greeted by Zoey with such phrases as, “Mom! What?!”  or “Where’s the phone?!”  or “Brennnonnnn!”  You know, the usual stuff that gets thrown around when there’s four bored kids making trouble.

I’m pretty sure parrots are a lot like children.  You can sit there for days and try and get them to say something like, “Hello!” and “Night-night!” and stuff, and they’ll never pick it up.  But call someone a bastard and you’ll never hear the end of it.  Ten years after the event they’ll still be saying it when you invite the local preacher over for dinner.  And parrots can live for about thirty years, if properly cared for.  Which can be very difficult when they’re trying to eat your glasses.


Yep, I’ve been slacking again. The only thing happening of interest involves Zoey, the African Gray Parrot. And I know people get bored of reading about that so I try and keep it to a minimum.

She is starting to talk, kind of. Most of what I hear her say sounds more like a whistle than a word, but you can make it out. “Hello,” “Peak-a-boo,” and, I think, “Step-up.” I think she’s coming along pretty well, and she’s so sweet

you could use her in your coffee.

If only I could break her of her desire to eat my glasses. If she’s not going after my glasses, then it’s my ear. Not that she bites my ear, she just kind of nibbles at it. Although, the other day I tried to get my glasses away from her and she had one foot on my shoulder and one in my ear, fighting me for them. It was funny, but a bit uncomfortable.

On the weekends I make breakfast for both of us. I don’t usually eat breakfast, so it’s a change for me. Saturday I made a cheese-free veggie omelette. She wouldn’t touch it until I started eating. Once she saw that I would eat it, she tore into it with gusto. Of course she picked out the veggies (green bell pepper and broccoli) and tossed them onto the floor, but she sure liked the egg part.

The kids are not impressed with the amount of attention Zoey gets. In fact, on Saturday, I mentioned that she had eaten a pretty good portion of omelette. Savannah gave me a look and said, “You made the bird an omelette?” Sure. But we shared it.

I made oatmeal on Sunday. She didn’t feel like oatmeal and didn’t eat much. Then I tried to slice up a guava for her, but she didn’t care for that either. We cut down on the amount of seeds she gets, and I think she’s a bit peeved about it. She loves kidney beans, though. She had some red beans and snarfed it up. She didn’t take any rice, though.

So, as I said, there’s not much going on besides bird-related information. The only game I’ve been getting through is Oblivion. I finished the main quest and started working on Shivering Isles, which is awesome. I understand the need to keep up to date with the game engine and everything, but it would be cool to see more “modules” released. I wonder why they haven’t gone a bit more down the “pen and paper” route and created different modules for different player levels or types.

I think if I were in charge, I would have the main game engine made, a main story line, and a over-arcing background story and then release “modules” for it, adding new monsters and items as needed. And an expandable map, so everything could fit in as needed. I think that would be neat.

I’m eagerly awaiting Fallout 3, but that’s probably quite a ways off still.


I’m pretty far behind with my KDE4 install. I think I’m still at 4.0.1 while everyone else is moving along to 4.0.2. I had a problem with QT4 and Gentoo, so I never got a chance to update it. I’m still thinking of erasing the whole thing and starting over, just to see if it gets rid of the graphic artifacts that I see. But the weekend is over so I won’t have any time to do that.

Just for the hell of it, I installed Oblivion using Cedega. It runs fairly well. I’m a couple of versions behind, there, too. I haven’t gotten around to renewing my subscription. I think I’ll try the latest version of Wine and see how that works with it. It’s been a while since I’ve tried it.

I haven’t tried Cedega or Wine under KDE4, either. Perhaps it’s a project I’ll try and get to next weekend.


I am pleased to report that I looked at my Dr Pepper cap and saw the bottom four letters were “UWIN.” I won! I was hoping for a free year of Dr Pepper, but it looks like I only won one. So, in 2-3 weeks I should get a coupon for a free Dr Pepper! Gosh!

I only need to drink 23 more for my 1-in-6 chance of being a winner.

Well, that’s all from me on this Monday morning.