Friday, June 21, 2013

Kitty treats

(Warning: All about my cat, zero poker content.)

When Lucy first came home with me, I was having some trouble getting her to use her litter box consistently. I finally figured out the problem, thanks to diagnostic help I found in the excellent book The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know, by Tracie Hotchner. All I needed to do was get her a larger box where she had enough room to turn around and find a spot that she liked. (Nearly all commercial litter boxes are quite a bit smaller than most cats like, so go to any discount store and buy a large (mine is 35 inches long), flat plastic storage box from Sterilite or Rubbermaid.)

I was so grateful that this book helped me find a cheap, easy, and 100% successful solution to a frustrating problem that I sent a letter of thanks to Ms. Hotchner. She emailed me back a nice note saying that she was glad she had been able to help, that she was going to read my letter on her next radio show, and that she was going to send me a coupon for some free premium kitty litter from one of her sponsors, Precious Cat--which she did.

This apparently got me onto her list of people to send stuff to. A few weeks ago, she picked up a new sponsor--Whole Life pet treats--and I got in the mail several packets of sample flavors. I arbitrarily opened one of the turkey packets and gave one of them to Lucy. She went nuts over it. She started playing with it and stalking it as if it were a mouse or something. I had never seen her act so bonkers, so I picked up my cell phone and recorded her for about ten minutes:

(The big boxes you see in one corner of the room are not just me being a bad housekeeper. They're Lucy's playground. She loves jumping in and out of boxes, and napping in them.)

I sent the YouTube link to Ms. Hotchner. She posted it on her Facebook page and forwarded it to the Whole Life people, who posted it on their Facebook page. They must have liked seeing it, because today in the mail I got an even bigger box of samples of their products:

This is going to keep Lucy well-stocked with all the treats she can handle for a long time. This post is intended to thank the good folks at Whole Life for such generous sharing, and tell any fellow pet owners (the products are the same for both cats and dogs) that these things are really great. They are pure freeze-dried meat with nothing else added. My kitty lurves them.

How much does she lurve them? Well, when I got the first batch of samples from Whole Life, and saw how Lucy was pawing and sniffing at the box, trying to get at them, I knew I would have to put them somewhere secure, lest she snarf them all down as soon as I went off to bed. So I stashed them in what I assumed was a place she could not get at: the cupboards above the sink in the kitchen:

But the next morning I discovered that Lucy was both more agile and more determined than I had judged. She had been in the cupboard and had ripped open four of the treat packets!  The only way I can figure she got in would be to jump from the counter up to the top of the cupboards, then open one of the doors with a paw, and sort of snake herself in from above. It seemed so nearly impossible that I briefly entertained the thought that it was a mouse that had gotten in, not the cat. But I found a tuft of Lucy fur there, and there were some heavy items pushed around that a mouse could not have done. I wish I had a hidden-camera video of her cat burglary (sorry), because it would have been a pretty amazing feat of feline acrobatics.

Anyway, that's how much she lurves these things. And now she has several months' worth of them. Thank you, Whole Life!

On an unrelated note, I recently discovered Lucy's first act of kitty vandalism. Look what she did to the cables at the back of my television:

I'll have to get some protective casing for the replacement wires. Fortunately, this is an isolated case, and she has shown no interest in attacking all the other wires and cables I have around here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Things I've been doing

Work, mostly. There has been a steady stream of it, for which I'm grateful.

But I moved here primarily so that I could spend more time with Cardgrrl, and I'm very happy that that has been happening. She comes to my place every Tuesday for dinner (yes, I cook!) and to do laundry (her rental place has no laundry facilities; this will no longer be an issue by July 1, when she moves into her brand-new house, which is almost finished). Then every weekend we get together either once or twice for something fun--like the Chimney Rock hike of the previous post.

Some other recent examples:

A stroll through the gardens at Biltmore Estate (we both have annual passes).

Seeing Shakespeare's final play, "The Tempest," at an outdoor amphitheater, performed by the Montford Park Players.

An evening of barbershop-style singing by the Land of the Sky Chorus.

Reading. (This part doesn't involve Cardgrrl.) I've been plowing through books much faster than I used to in Vegas. I've been here four months now, and I've read:

Denial: My 25 Years Without a Soul, by Jonathan Rauch.

Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity, by David Foster Wallace.

Control: Exposing the Truth about Guns, by Glenn Beck.

Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr's Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation, by Jonathan Rieder.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, by John Scalzi.

Bacon and Egg Man, by Ken Wheaton.

Elders: A Novel, by Ryan McIlvain.

The World Made Straight: A Novel, by Ron Rash (soon to be a major motion picture, having recently filmed right here in Asheville).

A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing, by Lawrence Krauss.

God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, by Penn Jillette.

The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins.

And I'm currently in the process of reading three more:

Maud Martha, by Gwendolyn Brooks.

The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage, by Greg Gutfeld.

Nothing Gold Can Stay: Stories, by Ron Rash.

How's that for an eclectic list?

And finally, a cat. If you follow my non-poker Twitter feed you are probably sick of hearing about the cat. But I can't help it. I'm in love. Cardgrrl recognized this when I had had the kitty home for only about 24 hours, and the adoption was still on a trial basis (to see if she triggered my allergies in some uncontrollable way), and she didn't even have a name settled on yet:

I have only become more smitten since then. Lucy is the best thing to happen to my life since Cardgrrl came along four years ago. She brings me delight and laughter every day. She sits on my lap for a couple of hours a day, sleeping and purring while I work. When not there, she is usually on her window perch about three feet away, often making the most squee-worthy series of cute, snorgling vocalizations.

I am mightily tempted to here produce a photo dump of every exposure that has her beautiful little face in it. But I shall restrain myself and post only a few of the best ones. The first two were taken by Cardgrrl, the rest by me.

Isn't she just the most gorgeous, adorable thing you've ever seen? ("Yes." The correct answer is "Yes.")

So that's what I've been doing since settling in here. To my shame, I still have not reassembled my bicycle and started tackling the hilly streets of Asheville. But that will come when I get the time and sufficient mental motivation.

I do miss all my Vegas friends*, and I miss poker. But in case you couldn't tell, I am very, very happy here.

*Not nearly as many people come visiting in Asheville as in Vegas. So far only one friend of mine has come to town: Shamus came through on his way home from a tournament reporting gig at Harrah's Cherokee in April. He, Cardgrrl, and I had lunch at Juicy Lucy's, which is very near where Cardgrrl's house is going up. This gives me an excuse to re-post my favorite photo of Shamus, International Man of Mystery: