Photo of the month

Our new kittens Rio and Katy make themselves comfortable in their bed, July 2. Three months since the loss of Ariel, the empty place in our home and our hearts has been filled by this energetic duo. Meet them in this month's newsletter. Photo by Glenn.

July 2010

On June 29 we visited the Contra Costa County Animal Servcies shelter in Martinez in search of a new kitten. Glenn knew right away that this little girl was "the one." We named her Katy. Photo by Roni.

We weren't as sure about Rio, but they shared a cage and seemed right for one another. Roni liked his cuddly ways. We decided to adopt both. Photo by Glenn.

How eager is Katy to come home with us? Eager enough that she is chewing up her adoption papers. But she and Rio would have to wait a couple of days so they could be neutered. Photo by Roni.

We returned to the shelter July 1, armed with boxes to carry home our two new family members. Photo by Glenn.

Roni buckles our two young passengers into the backseat for the 17-mile drive home. Needless to say, they weren't too keen on this idea. Photo by Glenn.

Home for the first time, Katy and Rio scarf down a bowl of canned food. We confined them to our master bathroom for the first couple of days. Photo by Glenn.

Ben uses a blue feather boa to play with the kittens while also trying to take their picture. Photo by Glenn.

It didn't take long for the kittens to escape the confines of the bathroom. Here, Rio finds a sunny spot by our bedroom window. Photo by Glenn.

The kittens seem to have boundless energy. When they aren't sleeping, eating or exploring, they can usually be found chasing each other around the room or wrestling with each other. Photo by Roni.

We wanted a lap cat, not a laptop cat. As the saying goes, she makes a better door than a window. Photo by Glenn.

Perhaps she wants to Google the origins of her full name, Katy Purry. It's a play on words of pop songstress Katy Perry. Photo by Glenn.

Katy is the bold adventurer of the pair. She is often the leader when it comes to instigating play... or mischief. Photo by Glenn.

Rio is no slouch in the play department. He's a bit more cautious than Katy, but so far he's the only one willing to play in a paper sack half his size. Photo by Roni.

Rio has an innocent cuteness about him. He looks quite comfortable on the dining room table. Photo by Glenn.

And what does Eevee think of his new housemates? This face says it all. Photo by Glenn.

Listen, guys, the toy thing might work for those rugrats, but not for a big, tough old cat like me... Hmmm, this smells good. Photo by Glenn.

We celebrate Glenn's birthday at Mangetsu Japanese Cuisine in Brentwood the evening of July 1. Glenn works his way through fried tofu using chopsticks. Photo by Roni.

Japanese food is usually Ben's thing, so he was quite happy with Dad's choice of dining venue. He's working on a plate of breaded pork cutlets. Photo by Roni.

Glenn poses with his birthday cake. The candles don't lie... Photo by Roni.

...Or do they? Well, that could almost pass for a "2," right?. Photo by Roni.

Fireworks light up the skies above Oakley on Saturday, July 3. Photo by Glenn.

Oakley's was the only local fireworks display on Independence Day weekend. It was well attended. Here's part of the finale. Photo by Glenn.

Antioch showed its patriotic spirit with a short parade July 4 at Somersville Towne Centre. Photo by Glenn.

Our friend Rick Lemyre, in full Fourth regalia, visits with Roni inside the mall. Photo by Glenn.

We always enjoy hearing from our visitors. We welcome your comments.

Furry bundles of joy

July 14, 2010

The pattering of little feet — or rather the thundering of furry paws — has been a daily presence in our home since the first of the month, when we welcomed a rambunctious pair of kittens into our lives.

We had met with so much disappointment on our kitten search during June that we were starting to lose hope of finding one at all. Glenn had his heart set on a calico, and after losing the one that Roni’s sister Jacki had available to illness, and waiting for another one to become available through the local adoption programs that “just wasn’t ready,” we were at the point where we thought it might not happen this summer. Finding the perfect pet is so much more difficult than finding any pet. We didn’t want to settle in filling the very large void left by the loss of Ariel on April 1.

Then Roni heard about the Contra Costa County Animal Services shelter in Martinez and we decided to check it out. We drove there June 29 and were immediately impressed with the size and modern appearance of the facility. The animals were housed in spacious rooms and seemed to be well cared for. One look at the faces of all those homeless cats, kittens, puppies and dogs, and our hearts melted. Any resolve of finding the “perfect” pet was replaced by a desire to find the “right” pet.

There were close to a dozen rooms for cats and kittens, and we looked through all of them. But we eventually drifted back to one of the kitten rooms, where earlier we had identified several prospects and played with them through the bars of their cages. One in particular, an energetic little female tabby, caught our eye. She was housed with a male American shorthair that seemed more attentive than most when we greeted him at the cage. We got an introduction from one of the volunteers, and instantly the female was cuddling into our shoulders and hair, purring loudly. We knew she was “the one.”

But what about her cellmate? We’d thought about adopting two when we were looking at Jacki’s kittens, but had mostly abandoned the idea. We already had Eevee at home, and two cats had proven to be an adequate number. Could we comfortably manage three? We’ll get to find out now, because once Glenn got to hold the male in his arms and saw how close the two kittens were, he couldn’t bear the thought of separating them. Within minutes we were signing adoption papers and paying our $172 fee — that was $5 for each kitten and $162 in shots, surgeries, licenses and miscellaneous fees. We couldn’t take them home that day because they had yet to be spayed and neutered and microchipped.

That wasn’t such a bad thing, because we needed an extra day to purchase supplies and get the house ready to receive them. The first thing we needed was a couple of cat carriers, as the shelter didn’t have any on account of the recent pet adoptathon. They’d adopted out record numbers of free dogs and cats, and as aresult there were no cardboard carriers to be found at any of the local pet stores we visited. We didn’t want to invest big bucks in a fancy kennel, so we rummaged through the garage until we came up with reasonable substitutes.

Then we trooped over to PetSmart and WinCo to stock up on plastic food bowls, clay litter, a scratching post, a round kitty bed, a couple dozen cans of wet food, and a fuzzy blue feather boa attached to a plastic rod to keep the newcomers entertained. We also bought a child security gate on the misguided notion that it might actually keep the kittens confined to the master bathroom, where we had planned to start them out for a few days until they seemed settled in enough to expand their horizons through the rest of the house. It felt in every way as if we were preparing to have another human baby. Well, maybe except for the fact that we didn’t have to sit in the maternity ward for hours.

Armed with a couple of old cardboard boxes, we returned to the shelter the morning of July 1, Glenn’s birthday, to bring home our kittens. A clerk printed out an updated health history for both of them, then we were directed back to the holding room where a dozen or more kittens recently back from surgery waited in their cages to go home. We'd read in the shelter's paperwork that kittens can be groggy for a few days following their operations, that they might spend a lot of time sleeping or want to be by themselves in a dark, quiet corner to recover.

But not these two.

They were active as ever when the attendant helped us take them from their cage and place them in the boxes. And they were none too impressed with us when we strapped them into the backseat of the car for the 17-mile drive from Martinez back to Oakley. They mewed all the way, and at least once we saw a paw or an entire head protruding through the box lids. We opened the boxes on our bed, and the little tabby promptly launched herself to the floor and hid in a corner behind some large plastic storage containers. It took a couple of minutes to coax her out with play toys. Her partner obediently let himself be placed into the caged-in bathroom.

We were under no illusions that they wouldn't figure out how to vault themselves over the security gate, although they did stay in the bathroom without argument the first day, acquainting themselves with their new home and the other two kittens that paced about in the mirrored door of the walk-in closet. The tabby was the first to successfully escape the pen the following morning. Her adoptive brother, being less agile, needed a bit longer to figure out how to scale the fence. Once they both had, there was no sense in keeping the gate up any longer. We gave them free rein of the bedroom so they could feel free to explore and chase each other about without terrorizing the rest of the house.

It wasn't long, however, until the bedroom door was at last opened and we allowed them to venture into the living room, kitchen and hallway. The one thing we hadn't let them do yet was meet our other cat, Eevee. We tried to introduce them slowly at first, letting him come into the bedroom while we kept them penned behind the baby gate. He greeted them with a predictable hissy fit before slinking off into a corner to sulk. Subsequent meetings have gone better, and nearly two weeks after their arrival it appears that Eevee is at least tolerating their presence, if not openly embracing them as surrogate brother and sister.

Although Ben disagreed with our methods, we have long believed that you can’t name a cat until you’ve had a chance to see its personality, or at least have an idea of the personality you’d like a name to convey. Because these two are considered Glenn’s cats, since it takes two to replace Ariel, we let him come up with the names, although he received plenty of input from family, friends and coworkers. The female tabby was dubbed Katy Purry, a play on the name of pop musician Katy Perry, of whom Roni had never heard. The male became El Camino Del Rio, which is Spanish for The River Road, after his unusual markings that resemble on his sides the swirls of a turbulent river and on his back the double line of a divided highway. Because that name is rather cumbersome, we call him Rio for short.

Katy, born April 14, is the smaller of the two and probably won’t be a very large cat. But she makes up in spunk what she lacks in size. She is proving to be an adventurer, the first to leap over the baby gate, the first brave enough to meet Eevee face-to-face, and the first to claw her way up the patio screen door in pursuit of flies. She likes to sleep on the bed, and true to her name has a purr that can be heard from the next room.

Rio, whose birthday is April 8, has enormous paws and big legs. We thought he might be the more cuddly one, but so far he shies away from being held long, especially when the two kittens are playing. He isn’t much of an instigator, preferring to wait for Katy to make the first move. But once he gets wound up, he’s hard to calm down. He’ll continue racing around the room long after she has tuckered out. Occasionally we have to separate them so he’ll leave her alone.

They are a lot of work, but so far a lot of fun, too.

* * * * *

The arrival of the kittens was timely. Their presence filled a lot of idle hours of vacation time as we watched after them and were entertained by their many antics. And coming home as they did on Glenn’s birthday, they made a perfect gift. Which was a good thing, because Glenn didn’t have much on his birthday wish list. Still, Ben and Roni made sure that he had something to unwrap after the candles were blown out, gifting him with a copy of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” for the Xbox 360.

For dinner, Glenn surprised us and requested Japanese cuisine. He’d had a hankering for udon noodles, and fortunately there is a place called Mangetsu Japanese Cuisine nearby in Brentwood that offers such fare. Usually it is Ben who seeks out the Asian restaurants, so he was more than happy to help us celebrate Glenn’s special day. The food all looked so good that we went a little overboard in ordering off the menu, and at one point were concerned we might be taking a lot of it home, especially because we were close to stuffed and our main courses hadn’t even arrived. But thanks to some miscommunication in the kitchen, Glenn’s udon dish never arrived and we were able to get our fill on Roni’s bowl. The highlight of the evening was when Ben proudly told the restaurant’s owner that he’d been studying Japanese, and then managed to converse with him briefly in foreign tongue. Who says anime isn’t educational?

The first week of July is usually vacation time for us, as we celebrate Glenn’s birthday and the occasion of Independence Day three days later. This year was no exception, except that for Oakley the Fourth fell on the Third. The city chose to combine its annual cityhood celebration with a fireworks display on Saturday night, rather than shoot off the rockets on Sunday, the proper holiday. Glenn staked out a spot about a quarter mile from Freedom High School, from where the display was launched, and enjoyed an impressive show — impressive for the fact that it was the only one in our area this year, as Antioch and Pittsburg both canned their municipal displays because of budget woes.

But if a lack of fireworks on the Fourth threatened to dampen the spirit of Independence Day, there were still other activities to enjoy that Sunday. Antioch held its annual parade at the Somersville Towne Centre mall, and although it was greatly scaled back from previous years, there was still plenty of patriotic spirit to be found. A small but hardy group of perhaps a dozen entries paraded through the parking lot in blistering heat, then we all went inside to head a choir form the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perform patriotic tunes. Not such a bad show overall, and it did get us to part with some bucks for refreshments and purchases at the mall stores. Contributing to the local economy is one of the most patriotic acts these days, or so it seems.

Ben, meanwhile, has been enjoying his summer break by trying to make time to get together with friends. He recently went on a group date at the local roller skating rink in Antioch with his new girlfriend and a couple of friends. He quickly discovered that it isn’t easy to skate and take pictures at the same time, but he claims it was a fun date nonetheless.

Well, we seem to have reached an end for this month. Looks like we’ll get this up online a couple weeks early for a change. But don’t count on it becoming a habit; we’ve still got a lot of summer left to squeeze into next month’s missive. Until then…

Glenn, Roni and Ben

This page was last updated on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 12:14 hrs.

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