Photos – Got the Jimmy Legs


It's my cat in a box

Tuxedo Lady, originally uploaded by Jimmy Legs.

A total of 6 feral cats and one indoor cat are being fixed over at BARC right now. After Wednesday's bumper crop of 4 (Grumpus, George, Blue and Tuxedo), I set up the 3 remaining traps and by bedtime we had two more (Mugsy and Baxter)! This worked out well, as Jeannie had literally said she wanted to catch these very two cats for her birthday, which is today. It could only have worked out better if they had gift-wrapped their traps.

They were not happy campers; Mugsy, especially, was crazy, rolling around in his trap and generally making an embarrassing spectacle of himself. I put them in the cellar for the night and when I came back in the morning, both had calmed down quite a bit. It's like they accept their fate or something. Or maybe a night sleeping in a warm house far outweighed any resentment they might have felt.

I dropped them off with Tumbleweed at BARC, I'll be picking up the latter after work. The rest will go home on Saturday. I don't think they'll care, but I feel a little bad sticking them right back out in the yard after spending several days in a climate-controlled environment. but hey, maybe they'll actually use the cat condos with some frequency!

Through this all, Freddie the Outdoor Cat oversaw the process. Despite apparent hunger, however, she avoided all the traps, even though it meant waiting on getting fed. I don't know if this proves she's smarter than the other cats or what, but I'm glad we didn't have any false-positives by finding her in the traps.

There will be one more Spay Day on Sunday, so I'm gonna keep trying to trap cats. Off the top of my head I know Chauncey, BabyMomma and Marbles are still out there. Cauncey is owned by somebody, but they let him run around unfixed. Marbles also appears to be owned by some people across the street, she too is unaltered and has been pregnant twice in the past year, though her litters mysteriously disappear long before they should. So in any case, these cats ought to be fixed.

Pictured above is Tuxedo (never thought of a catchier name), the lone female we captured. Females are either smarter or naturally more suspicious, so we don't get many to the yard. But I'm glad we got her, as I'd seen her (from a distance) with child several times over the past year. Getting her spayed will put a real dent in the local cat population. I hope!

More photos of the SoBu TNR

How 'ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm

Tomorrow Rudy goes to his new home. To the left is form the first night we saw him, September 13th. It took another month before we got him and his brothers inside, and another month to groom him into respectability. I am sad to see him go, and I wonder, having never had an orange tabby before, are they known for being especially friendly/playful?

He still has some feral characteristics, like not liking being picked up, and scattering at top speed if he think he's been caught doing something wrong (like sleeping in the bathroom sink). But otherwise he's been a great little cat, though maybe not so little anymore.

He is basically 3x the size he was in the top photo. All the older kittens have grown amazingly, which is fascinating, although I fear it will make the last of the brothers a tougher sell. But you can look at them and tell they've still got plenty of room to grow, they have that puppy look, their paws are too big and they have this general appearance of transition. I suspect he's gonna be enormous by the time he's done.

When he's gone we'll have his brother and three smaller kittens. The remaining brother, Baby Bones (at right, we're considering renaming "Newman" since he's a little like the Seinfeld guy) will be on his own, I'm not sure how he'll cope with it. He's been the hardest case so far, keeping his distance from us and not getting into the whole 'house cat' concept. But he's making progress: he finally learned how to take cat treats from my hand, and he now allows limited petting when he's on the bed. I think when he's without his brothers (Ira went home last weekend), he'll have no choice but to come around. He better!

More Photos of all them kittens

And here's to the silver sea

I don't know that I've ever taken a regular vacation. I've traveled some, taken time off here and there to visit relatives, I've backpacked and canoed and hiked and biked for most of my life. But I can't remember the last time I went somewhere and just rested. I always say I'm gonna take a vacation and just sit around the house, but even that wouldn't work, since I would invariably start working on some house-related project. So when Jeannie told me her family was getting together in the Virgin Islands, at first I didn't think much of it. But then it started to sink in: I could tag along, ostensibly to meet and hang out with her family, while getting a chance to sit in an exotic location and, in the immortal words of Peter Gibbons, "sit on my ass and do … nothing."

Tickets were cheap because it was off-season. My dad gravely informed me that mid-September is the height of hurricane activity. But they hadn't had one in over 10 years, and anyway, according to all the insurance companies, New York is where all the cool hurricanes wanna go these days. We had a direct flight there, which was great. 3.5 hours and we're there. Downside was the flight was at 7:30 in the morning. Consequently we slept through a good deal of the flight.

Jeannie's sister and her husband run a construction company on St. Thomas. This means they were able to build their house themselves, which resulted in one of the most awesome houses of all time. Y0u can see in the photos, it's deceptively large, has pretty much every amenity you can think of (plus something like 5 bathrooms), and is smack dab in the middle of a rain forest. The plot of land that house sits on contains a huge boulder that would have been very, very expensive to disintegrate. Normally, home builders would just have to bite the bullet and pay for the rock's removal, but they had a better idea: just build the house around it! So in several rooms of the house you see this big rock protruding from the wall. the best example is in the master bathroom, which gives the room a grotto-like atmosphere. The other big protrusion is being turned into the centerpiece of an indoor koi pond (!) That is what we call "pragmatism."

The house has a hot tub and an in-ground pool, plus satellite TV that receives just about every channel every invented (though "Top Chef" and "Judge Judy" seemed to be on a lot). the forest surrounding the house was full of plants that I normally only see as indoor houseplants, and there were lizards all over the place. Between the lizards and the tiny (but really loud) tree frogs, the bugs were kept mostly in check (I didn't really get any mosquito bites until I got back). The days were warm, but comfortable. It only rained once I think, and even that was fairly picturesque. Everything about the house said 'relax, have a drink or three …' Just what the doctored ordered. Frankly, I would have been happy to lie around for a week, catching up on Good Eats (ah, cable!)

But of course, there was a whole exotic world out there to see. St. Thomas has those beaches you see in the movies, with the white powdery sand and the weird, turquoise-colored ocean. There were palm trees and iguanas (!) all over the place, some of which we fed lettuce and bell peppers (iguanas are vegetarians more or less). The water is very calm, warm, and the salt content makes you float like a bar of Ivory. We hit three main beaches, two on St. Thomas and one on St. Johns, where we went for a day trip. At the latter we snorkeled around a coral reef, which was pretty sweet. I gotta look up all the weird fish we saw. I know I saw a sting ray, some parrot fish, Blue Tang, and something called a "Sergeant Major" which looked like Charlie Brown in his yellow and black jersey.

Despite my best efforts, I got sunburned pretty much by the second outing. I don't understand how sunblock is supposed to work, I got SPF 50 and the first day I was fine. But after snorkeling (picture my hairy back directly skyward for a couple of hours) I looked like a lobster and felt like a stupid tourist. My only solace came from the fact that everybody else got burned as well. Misery loves company!

Somehow I ended up doing a lot of driving. Jeannie's sister lent me her car (some kind of 4×4) to tool around the island. Let me say this about the roads of the Virgin Islands: they will scare the hell out of you. Even the well-maintained roads are incredibly twisty, turning back and forth at a moment's notice, going up and downhill and severe inclines, with hidden drives around every corner. I don't think one intersection on that entire island describes a 90-degree angle; every street crossing was at odd angles, making it hard to tell which way was 'straight.' And god forbid they should put street names at the intersections! Is this 33? 301? 35? 42? Augh!

That said, I did all right. No accidents, just a lot of sharp inhales from the back seat, and a fair amount of turning around to find a turn I had missed. Of course, the real upside is the autonomy having a car provides. We were able to go wherever we wanted (though with the threat of getting lost), we could happily turn down the near-constant barrage of taxi come-ons when we were down in the shopping district in Charlotte Amalie. When we took the ferry to St. Johns we rented a big car to comfortable seat all 5 of us, which again added to my whole "relax in comfort" thing.

Speaking of shopping, because the Virgin Islands are not states, they skirt many of the regulations that burden us landlubbers, including sales tax. Consequently, anything that's pricey due to tariffs was generally pretty cheap there. I bought a liter of Bombay Sapphire for $13 (I paid nearly $50 for one bought at the liquor store down the street). Cigarettes ranged $11-23 per carton, compared to around $70 here. I guess perfume was also cheaper, but I don't really have a frame of reference. For some reason, gas was really expensive, as was a lot of fresh produce. There was a gourmet grocery there, so we had all our usual lazy vegetarian stuff, plus supplies to make guacamole, hummus and mango salsas. I would also like to point out that while my local grocery store does not carry tahini, this store carried 5 varieties (two of which are manufactured in New York. Go figure.)

At some point, the cat chased an iguana into the house. This was awesome, a huge-ass lizard scurrying around the house like a trapped pigeon. Eventually he was shooed out the door, no harm done. I wish we had big lizards roaming around. I was happy to see there was a stray cat being fed, who strongly resembled one of our strays, Flossie. They also had a hamster, who didn't really do much except sit around and stuff peanuts into his mouth pouch. At night, the tiny tree frogs came out and made an enormous racket. It sounded like something off a sound effects record. I wish I had brought my dB meter, they may have been louder than the J train when it passes by my house.

We hit a few bars, the best one, Sibs, was the quintessential locals bar. Damn those drinks were cheap. And with all the money we saved, it was time for some video gambling! These multi-game machines are all over the place on the Islands and not less popular than M88 casino (St. Croix is the only one with a real casino). Jeannie and I lost modest amounts on blots and blackjack, while our host won $200 playing Keno. I have no idea what Keno is or how it is played. But apparently it pays to learn.

Anyway, we went on like this all week, at times it was a little more exhausting than I would have liked. But no matter how tiring a given activity was, everything was mitigated by the fact that I had no hard decisions to make. I was up for anything, but was happy doing absolutely nothing as well. It was nice to have the physical separation from home so it was easy to forget about an unstable job situation, a messy house, stray cats, gunplay on my street, irritating commutes. I think I understand why people get hooked on heroin now!

The journey back was hard. I felt ill most of the morning, which was either due to nerves or the gallon of whiskey I drank the night before. We may never know. We had to make a connection in Miami so our trip was nearly twice as long. We were seated next to a baby who, while very cute, also made a lot of noise, not to mention the fact that it basically meant there were 4 humans in our row (Why do they let people 'carry on' a baby without buying it a seat? they spend all that time telling you to strap yourself in, but a tender-headed infant? Just plop it on your lap!) After an interminable wait at baggage claim and a traffic-ridden ride home, I was relived to be back. Even if our house isn't as fancy or full of cool stuff, it's still our house, full of our cats. Plus we feel inspired by example to do stuff to our house. Now we just need our own construction company.

One of Jeannie's other sisters lives in Hawaii. I'm feeling uncharacteristically familial all of a sudden.

In the hall of the mountain king

Here's the pictures of our trip. I'll write something more about it in a bit, still got a lotta work to deal with and everybody at the office has been taking Stupid Pills since the merger announcement. For the time being, I think the above photo captures the essence of the entire week.

I have science here

Elevated train platform, originally uploaded by Jimmy Legs.

We met with the tax guy finally this weekend, he should be processing everything now. We have always done our taxes ourselves but we were too spooked by the variables involved with being a homeowner. Since we didn't move in until the end of October, though, it means we won't realize much benefit this time around. But at least we'll be better-prepared next time around.

Meanwhile, Lucy's been to the vet, now she's on antibiotic pills, which are proving to be a challenge to get her to consume. She's not falling for the hide-pill-in-cat-treat method anymore, and I haven't perfected the shove-pill-into-mouth-and-hold method. I tried that this morning and she tried to "drool" the pill out by slobbering it onto the floor. Lovely.