Oct 31, 2022

Kittens Is Krazy

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
— Terry Pratchett

As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the humankind.
— Cleveland Amory

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
— Albert Schweitzer

How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven.
— Robert A. Heinlein

Yes, another kitten post. What can I say? They’re pretty much the most exciting thing going on around here.

They had their first check up with the vet which included a set of shots. Dinsdale was definitely the larger of the two when we first got them, but his sister has caught up in size and weighs a whole ounce more than him.

But he was off his feed for a little while. First, he has the kitty version of a cold – slightly runny nose and eyes and the occasional sneeze, which we need to keep an eye on – and then he seemed to have a sensitive spot in his mouth. I noticed that night he seemed to have a little trouble eating, so I switched them from the chunky canned food to a pate and he seemed to do better.

We think he probably hurt his mouth chewing on the wicker baskets they took over. So I reclaimed the smaller one that is actually the one I use for bread and rolls. Then we went to a big pet supply and got them a proper cat bed (which I forgot to take a picture of) and made the big, white basket disappear. And finally, when they were napping this afternoon – Dinsdale in the cat bed and Khaos in the scratch pad – I took away the medium sized basket.

While Khaos has surpassed her brother in weight, Dinsdale has definitely surpassed her in getting into mischief. He’s learned how to turn on the touch lamp in their room:

He’s taken up a musical instrument, the windchimes:

And as soon as he figures out how to open Daddy’s laptop he’ll be ready for some online shopping:

He has learned to stay off the dining room table, but now he tries to get up on the kitchen counter when it’s time for canned food (which they only get twice a day). He figured out if he jumps up on the garbage can he can reach the counter from there, but the “no” he learned from the dining room table has come in handy because now he doesn’t go any further than the top of the garbage can.

However, he’s latest trick is jumping up on the recycling bins. He’s pretty proud of himself, and this being the end of the week they’re full so he doesn’t sink down very far. But he’s in for a shock the next time he tries because tomorrow is garbage day, so the recycle bins will be empty.

Although he’s able to balance on the narrow edge, so maybe he won’t fall in. And what does he do when he balances on the edge? He goes after my plants.

Notice the lack of plants in my plant stand now. I’m either going to have to find a sturdier plant stand, or find a new home for my plants.

One thing for sure, life is no longer boring!

Oct 26, 2022

Sextilla Poetry Form

I’m back to both a syllable count and a rhyme scheme, but at least the stanza itself is short. There wasn’t as much information about this form as I would have liked, but there was more than the one line I had in my forms list. And in searching for more information, I stumbled across several more obscure forms to add to my list.

The Sextilla first appeared around the 14th century in Spain and Portugal. It’s a six-line stanza, with eight syllables per line. You can have as many or as few stanzas as you wish, but they should be in one of the two following rhyme schemes: aabccb or ababcc.




I gotta admit, I really like working in eight syllable lines. They just seem to have a nice flow to them. I used the first rhyme scheme for the first verse, and the second for the remaining two.

The Battle

My heart beats with a quiet drum,
the dark night of the soul has come.
An eon since, the curse was cast –
another age, another life,
another hand to wield the knife
to fight the evil spirits massed.

The battle is as old as time.
The gods decreed that it be so
when wickedness was on the climb;
benevolence no longer flowed.
The balance must be kept you see,
The task has fallen, now, to me.

I stand between the life and death
of mankind in his many realms,
and battle with my very breath
evil seeking to overwhelm.
The battle, it is glorious
and I remain victorious.

Oct 24, 2022

Bitter Harvest

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
— Robert Louis Stevenson

Our deep respect for the land and its harvest is the legacy of generations of farmers who put food on our tables, preserved our landscape, and inspired us with a powerful work ethic.
— James H. Douglas, Jr.

It feels good at the end of the day to know you made a product that other people are going to enjoy.
— Jericho Sanchez

Well, the verdict is in. My vegetable garden was pretty much a bust this year. I’d like to blame the asparagus – I know some plants do well away from others – but asparagus gets along well with pretty much everyone.

We did have a decent crop of green beans. It wasn’t spectacular, but we had enough for our own use, and they were really good, even the oversized ones which are usually a little on the woody or stringy side.

And I certainly have no complaints about the lettuce. This was the first time I’ve grown it and I cheated and used the seeds on the tape. We enjoyed that lettuce all summer long.

The peppers were kind of mediocre, we got a few but they were on the small side. The tomatoes were pretty much a wash, and the spinach went to seed before I could even pick some.

As for the beets . . . *sigh*. The beets got off to a bad start in the first place. I caught a squirrel who appeared to have a taste for beet seeds. He ate about half of them before I was able to chase him out of my garden and have him stay out.

Then there was the attack of the bunnies. I can’t say for certain, because I never caught him in action, but I know there was a bunny in the back yard. And something ate the tops of all my beets. But I think they were already a lost cause.

Yes, that's my entire beet harvest. And in case you’re fooled by the close-up, they ranged in size from pea-sized to cherry tomato sized.

Now if I were to blame the asparagus, it would be because they grew so out of control and blocked the sun from the rest of the garden. So next year, I’ve request that the hubby build my third garden plot. The location doesn’t get as much sun as the others do, but I’m sure it’ll be fine for things like asparagus and rhubarb. I’ll save the other two garden plots for my green beans, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and spinach.

So. . .did you have a vegetable garden? How did your garden grow?

Oct 19, 2022

Kouta Poetry Form

I have a list I made a few years ago of several poetry forms I was saving for a later date. It wasn’t that they were extra hard or complicated, it’s just I didn’t have a whole lot of information about them, just the name and a single line of description at best.

Much to my surprise, and pleasure, when I researched some of these forms on the weekend, there was all kinds of information about many of them. In some cases, a little too much information. ;-)

The Kouta is one of those wonderfully short Japanese verses. It was popular in the 14th to 16th centuries, and was originally meant to be sung. Though it was also tied to geishas and love songs, it does not need to be romantic in nature.

A very humble form, the Kouta is traditionally about relatable, everyday topics. It usually celebrates the everyday life of the average person and is meant to appeal to a wide audience.

Like most Japanese poetry, this four-line verse is made of lines with either 5 or 7 syllables. There are two main variants – 7/5/7/5 or 7/7/7/5. Rarely you’ll find one with an extra line, with a syllable count of 5/5/7/7/5.

You can have multiple verses, but each Kouta should also be able to stand on its own. However, it’s permissible to use a common theme throughout. My example uses a common theme, but each Kouta is a different format.

The image in the mirror
comes as a surprise.
A stranger is reflected,
surely it’s not me.

Another birthday over,
the candle's puddles of wax
cooling on leftover cake –
the party’s over.

Age – just a number,
the years accruing
like coins in a piggy bank.
It’s too bad they can’t be saved
for a rainy day.

Oct 17, 2022

Be Careful What You Wish For

Cats do not have to be shown how to have a good time, for they are unfailingly ingenious in that respect.
— James Mason, Actor

I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.
— Bill Dana

Cats never listen. They’re dependable that way; when Rome burned, the emperor’s cats still expected to be fed on time.
— Seanan McGuire, Writer

For about the last five years I have been wishing for a cat that would like the occasional cuddle. Well, my wish has come true, in spades!

Like I said last week, it’s been a long time since we’ve had a kitten in the house. I’d like to say there was an adjustment period while they got used to us and their new living situation, but I’d be lying. They pretty much made themselves at home and took over from the moment we opened the door to their crate.

It’s one thing to have a cuddle, it’s another altogether to be pinned down in place for hours on end by these furry little dictators. Even the hubby, who pretends to be indifferent to them, stayed in his chair for a good three hours Saturday night because Dinsdale decided to curl up on his shoulder.

What’s that you say? Just move them? How can you resist those furry little faces!

Actually, I’m getting better at doing just that. If I wait until they fall asleep, I can move them into my chair and they’ll just go back to sleep. Yes, I lose my chair, but it’s a small price to pay for being able to get stuff done.

They sleep more than I expected. I know cats normally sleep a lot, but these guys will play full tilt for an hour, two tops, and then crash for about four. Of course it’s not as much of a problem now as it was in the beginning when they wouldn’t sleep unless cuddled up to me.

When they’re awake they’re looking for trouble. I think I mentioned how they have no respect for my laptop, and they like to chew on cords.

We’ve learned to have our meals at the dining room table (which is still problematic unless we feed them at the same time) and I have to keep an eye on any beverage I might want to have while sitting in my recliner.

Yes, that’s my water bottle about to take a header.

Despite her name, Khaos is actually the more well behaved of the two. She’s still more adventuresome, she was the first to venture upstairs when we removed the gate, and she’ll often play by herself up there.

Dinsdale, on the other hand, is a stubborn little guy. He discovered he can jump from our dropleaf table we use as a room divider over to the pub height dining room table. Seeing as the dining room table is about our only refuge from them, we’ve been trying to discourage this behavior. But no matter how often he’s told “no” or “bad kitty” as we pick him up and put him back on the floor, he keeps going back. Khaos appears to have learned the lesson just by watching her brother get scolded so often and doesn’t even try for the table.

So far Dinsdale has managed to tangle himself up in a leather bag in the front hall, squeezed between the rails on the upstairs landing to jump down onto the stairs, got his paw caught under a door, and figured out that if he jumps down onto a chair from the table, he can jump from chair seat to chair seat to the back where we can’t get him. He also likes to chew on my hair.

Life sure got interesting in a hurry!

Oct 12, 2022

The Cow is Mad! Part Two

As I said last week, I’m not talking about mad cow disease, I’m talking about the Mad Cow and Mad Calf poetry forms, invented by Sebastian “Duke” Delorange. I tried to look him up online, but all I could find out about him is that he’s American.

Last week I shared the Mad Calf, which is clearly the easier of the two. So this week I had no choice but to make good on my promise to Share the Mad Cow form. Clearly, I need to watch what I promise. There was a reason I’ve put this form off so long.

This poem is a whopping 35 lines long, written as a series of 7 cinquains (five-line verses). These lines are 12 syllables long, which make it a hefty poem indeed. The rhyme scheme is: ababc cdede fgfgh hijij klklm mnono eieio. And just to make it more fun, it should have a pastoral setting.

The EIEIO is what gives the Mad Cow its name. It’s referring back to the children’s song, “Old MacDonald’s Farm” where the farmer had a cow (among other farm animals).

I’m going to be up front here, I hate 12 syllable lines. They make my teeth itch. And you will notice I did not use a pastoral setting for my example.

Living Forever

If you were given the chance to live forever
Would you take the offer given or turn away?
Think upon on this peculiar endeavor
This is not an offer that is made every day.
It would be unwise to dismiss it out of hand

Because this is an offer straight out of dreamland.
Before accepting I would consider the source,
Is it beatific, malefic, or between?
Is this really something you can fully endorse –
Will it stain your soul black or can you keep it clean?

But think what it would be like to live forever
To never have the fear of death, or of dying
To live the history that makes you so clever
Living such a life could be so gratifying
It has a certain appeal, wouldn’t you agree?

I wonder if such a life would make one carefree.
Would the passing of time have any meaning still;
Would the minutes and hours seem to go slow or fast?
Or would one day bleed into another until
All of the days are gone and eternity’s passed?

Imagine, if you will, the things that you would see
If forever you lived, until the end of days –
The magic and wonder of all the things to be,
Or maybe you’d be witness to the world ablaze
And observe mankind’s inevitable downfall.

In the weighing of the good and bad, overall,
All the pros and cons don’t really matter as much
As what is in your heart and how you really feel.
To watch your loved ones die, never feeling their touch
Would, to me, be somewhat of an achilles’ heel.

I would live forever, but only in dreamland.
But a dream is not something that someone can force.
It does not conform, bow to the dreamer’s command,
But in your dreams you can live forever, of course,
And perhaps that’s all anyone needs to be real.

Oct 10, 2022

Introducing . . .

As most of you know, our senior cat Dante, the last of the Terrible Trio, crossed the Rainbow Bridge in August. Though he wasn’t sociable, and at 20 years old had a few health and behavioral issues, he still left a void in our lives.

Still, we weren’t ready to just turn around and adopt a new feline friend right away. For one thing, the room he liked to hang out in needed to be thoroughly cleaned out. And for another, I had my Writersfest in Kingston coming up and was going to be away from home for several days.

We worked in the room both before and after my trip, and once it was clean we started thinking of a new addition to the family. I have to confess, after having to care for senior cats the last several years, I was ready for kittens.

Who knew adopting a kitten would involve so much paperwork? The application for adoption from the rescue place we decided on had a multi-page form that had to be filled out online, and you had to make sure to answer every question and provide no less than three references. Even the Humane Society had a multi-page form you to fill out, and this one included signing a release to allow them to access your veterinary records. And by the way, I'm not really complaining about it, I actually applaud them for not letting just anyone adopt one of their animals.

Fortunately, our application was approved by the rescue and Friday we went to meet some kittens. Welcome home, Khaos and Dinsdale:

They’re 11 week old brother and sister, already spayed and neutered and microchipped. We had their room all ready for them, with food and water, a kitty litter pan, and toys. We gave them a little time to get used to their room and then we gated off the stairs to the upper floor and basement to reduce the amount of new space they had to get used to and let them out to roam.

We didn’t need to worry. They adjusted really quickly. I was surprised at how affectionate they are, especially Dinsdale.

Did you notice the size of his feet? He’s going to be a big boy. He’s the more affectionate of the two, and his favorite place to cat nap is on a human. Usually me. :-)

His sister has been living up to her name so far. The first evening, when we let them out of their room for a while, she made it her mission to collect all the dust bunnies I missed in the living room. Dinsdale went behind/under furniture as well, but Khaos was always first.

They both like to chew on cords – computer, electrical, you name it, and this is something we’ll have to discourage. And Khaos has complete disrespect for the lap top. I was trying to work on a blog post Saturday night and she turned up the volume and put my lap top into airplane mode. I don’t even know how to do that and it took me a while to get it out again. She’s also done some weird things with the TV remote, like pausing the show we were watching and calling up menus we didn’t know we had.

Though they get shut in their room for the night – they’re so little they really shouldn’t be left out on their own – and we still restrict them to the main floor, they’ve definitely taken over. I had some baskets stacked in the dining room and they unstacked them to take them over:

And of course they play musical baskets – there’s actually three baskets and they hop from one to another, sometimes wrestling for possession. I finally broke down and put blankets in the two bigger ones and they like to nap in them (when I’m not available).

They’ve already learned to jump up on the couches, and from there Khaos discovered one of my plants was now within reach. Of course not to be outdone by his sister, Dinsdale had to chew on it too.

But who can resist those sweet little faces, even if they do steal my chair?

One thing for certain, it’s definitely not going to be boring around here any more.

Oct 5, 2022

The Cow is Mad!

No, I’m not talking about mad cow disease, I’m talking about the Mad Cow and Mad Calf poetry forms, invented by Sebastian “Duke” Delorange. I tried to look him up online, but all I could find out about him is that he’s American.

Because I spent so much time on the research, I ran short of time so I’m going to start with the Mad Calf because it’s the shorter and simpler of the two forms. :-)

The Mad Calf is a 20 line poem made up of 4 cinquains (5 line verses). Each line has 6 syllables. The Mad Calf has fewer lines and fewer syllables than the Mad Cow, and it doesn’t really rhyme until the last stanza. The rhyme scheme is: abcde fghij klmno eieio.

EIEIO, like in the kid’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” get it? Okay, okay, on to my example. But first, I have a confession to make.

When I write poems that are strict in their syllable count, I often use an online syllable counter. There is one line in the following poem that two different syllable counters insisted was seven syllables long, but it’s not. Which only goes to show you that syllable counters, like grammar checkers, are not infallible. Also, one of the lines is only five syllables, but it just didn’t sound right with six so I’m leaving it.

Fae Bells

A full moon rides the sky
above the fairy glen,
limns the trees with silver
and lights the unseen path
for the Fae caravan.

Magic in the nightfall
and in the music too,
magic in the dancing,
celebrating summer
as only the Fae can.

Crystal flutes play sweetly,
bodhrans keep the beat;
silks and satins swirling
as dancers turn and spin.
Joyous voices singing.

Beyond the fields of man,
you can hear the drummer –
that’s how the dance began.
You know it’s midsummer
when Fae bells are ringing.

Oct 3, 2022

Authors and Readings and Ghosts, Oh My!

No quotes today because I’m too tired to look them up. And I don’t exactly know what quotes would be appropriate for this post anyway.

Starting last Thursday, I was in Kingston for their annual Writersfest. When I was there in 2019 I only went for two days, but this year I sprung for the four day festival pass. Unfortunately I didn’t call about my hotel reservation in time so not only did I not get the discounted rate, I had to stay in a different hotel. But this was the view from my window:

That big building directly across the docks is the hotel I stayed in last time. :-D

Kingston is a beautiful city, and one of Canada’s oldest. And it’s full of history . . . and ghosts. So when I saw an advertisement for a ghost trolley ride, I couldn’t resist. I ducked out early from one of my masterclasses to take the tour.

The driver was incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Kingston. He also knew the stories behind a lot of the ghosts and, of course, where the bodies were buried. We were well entertained for two hour trip.

It got dark pretty quickly so I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures. I think the highlight was the “big three” – the Kingston Penitentiary, the Women’s Penitentiary, and the Rockwood Asylum For the Criminally Insane, all abandoned now. The stories he told about these places were horrific, none more so than the ones that took place in Rockwood.

We spent considerable time parked there while Jack, our driver, regaled us with gruesome facts and haunting stories. And I swear to God, as he was talking, I could feel my throat constricting. There was a pressure building up in my chest. I was actually on the verge of asking if we could move along when he started up the engine and started off to the next landmark. The pressure in my chest eased up immediately.

The next morning, I was awakened by the sound of a fog horn. And honestly, I didn’t think anything about it until I was sitting down for breakfast in the hotel dining room and saw this:

Talk about a missed photo opportunity! If had had known the fog was out there, I’d have been down on the dock instead of in the dining room. And it was so bright and sunny out, the pictures would have been amazing. I bet the sunrise was too.

So the next morning I went down to the dock before breakfast and waited for the sun to rise. Unfortunately, this time it was somewhat overcast and the sun stayed behind the clouds. This was the result:

The following morning I decided not to waste my time, and of course it was a brighter sunrise than the day before. Clearly I was not meant to get that picture.

One of the things I really like about Kingston is the path along the waterfront. This is an 8 km public trail, perfect for walking or biking. Or running, as evidenced by the number of runners that passed me whenever I was on the trail.

The hotel I was staying at overhangs this trail on three sides, and what I really enjoyed were the murals along it.

To be honest, I didn’t really get to see much of the city, other than the waterfront early in the morning. As I said, I was there for the Writersfest, so I was in masterclasses from 9 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening with only an hour or so in between each class. And one evening it was actually 8 before I was done because I went to one of the author readings and interviews:

That’s Guy Gavriel Kay, who was kind enough to let me take his picture while he was signing books. For those who are unfamiliar with him, he’s a famous Canadian fantasy author. Look him up. :-D

I had a great time at the festival, and I’m already looking forward to next year. But it’s also nice to be home again.