What the Critics are saying about Connecting Dots

“A Staggering Wok of Heartbroken Genies” — Egg Davers

“I hear a lot of people are saying he is the new John Joyce… ..” — The Real Donald Trump

“Couldn’t get it to compile.” — PC World

“A writer for our time, [inserted by Connecting Dots]—and more’s the pity—” — The Lady’s Magazine, or Mirror of the Belle-Lettres, Fine Arts, Music, Drama, Fashions, &c., Improved Series, September 30, 1830, short story “The Breakfast.” by Mrs. Hofland. from Ackerman’s Juvenile Forget Me Not. Music 176, Page 126‡

“The worst case of self-referential stream of consciousness journaling since ‘The Story of Mary MacLane’ by Mary MacLane.” — “Graphomania.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders IV, §8, ¶3, line 44, characters 1–105.†

‡ Quotation in full, “Oh! yes, Sir; and if Sir Richard had not been poorly and gone to foreign parts A writer for our time, [inserted by Connecting Dots]—and more’s the pity—‘ “What would have happened? Perhaps I can be your friend as well as he.”

† DSM-IV go on to state that, “Sometimes individuals afflicted with Graphomania are charged with harassment of individuals and less frequently of court personnel including judges and prelate [s.i.c] [[sic]] officers.”

Is smaller nuclear greener nuclear?

Europe Revisits Nuclear Power as Climate Deadlines Loom

In theory, electricity is the greenest way to apply energy to our daily tasks of moving stuff around, powering devices, etc. And in theory nuclear power is a green way to grab that energy. But the waste storage problem hasn’t been solved, and the accidents are dramatically horrendous. Having moved to a country where 75% of the electicity is already nuclear, and where the President is bullish on the future of nuclear, including the next generation of mini-plants (mini in the sense of being about 1/6th the size of current plants, but they still can service a million people), I have to give the matter some thought.

I want to believe that there’s more to the question than simply whether one would prefer to die by radiation poisoning over being baked to death by global warming. I do know from a personal anecdote that, considered as an engineering problem, creating a small and relatively safe nuclear reactor is a solved question.

I had a best friend in college who went from being a fellow hippie to being the nuclear powerplant officer on a US Navy submarine. He told me that the American approach was to make the shielding and safety measures on the submarine so strict that a seaman would have less exposure to radiation on a two-year tour of duty than he or she would have living in a brick basement in the Midwest. The Soviet approach at the time was to limit a sailor to one tour of duty, because at the end of that time they would have received a lifetime maximum dosage.

Six Years On

Every year my one year long-term visitor visa to France expires in December. After five repetitions of this procedure I pretty much know what to expect. This year, however, when I visited the website to get the latest list of required documents, they had a page for a ten-year residence visa and I don’t see any reason why I cannot get that (the Préfecture may of course produce such reasons). So this year I’m trying for that, have all the documents except I want to include my transcript of the French courses I took at IEFE to support my “intégration républicaine” — there’s no language requirement for people 65 and over, but I figure it can’t hurt. I’ll go pick the transcript up tomorrow.

I only had four semesters of Intensive French for Foreigners, but it looms larger in my mind. I had been in Pau for a year, just starting to get my bearings, and wanted to kick up my French a notch. I’ve studied French off and on since high school, but living it and daily conversation are something you only get when you move to a Francophone country. I loved being at Uni, from the first day’s interview with the woman who would be my first semester’s Group teacher. Beyond brushing up on grammar and spending the bulk of four days a week in an environment of all-French conversation, the experience brought me into contact with students from all over the world including the US of A. What I ended up valuing the most was exposure to the French system of higher education, which suited my style to a T. I learned (at an advanced age) that, sometimes, I could be the best student in a class and no one would think less of me for that.

It did put music on hold for a couple of years, there was no way I could keep up with class while trying to make any progress on musical projects. But it was certainly worth that price.

I dropped out during my fourth semester, the Fall of 2017. Not because I had lost interest, but because my mind had caught fire from the #MeToo movement, which is when I got a WordPress account and started a blog. I had a very over-determined reaction to the movement which led to re-examination of my childhood experiences. As is my tendency, I quickly developed an obsession over it, and decided I would take down the Patriarchy on my own, by righteous blogging. 🙂

When I found myself in class furiously writing notes with both hands, one for the course and the other for the blog, I knew something had to give. I had already made sufficient progress in French to get by adequately and had no interest in finishing a degree, so my choice was easy.

I got started with the project, the first four entries in this blog date from that stage. Then the steam ran out. Turned out that my personal concerns related to relationships and all that stuff were, once closely examined, beside the point. All I really wanted to do was play music, which is what I’ve been doing ever since. With one exception.

COVID and the First Confinement knocked me for a loop, like it did everyone, for sure. Stranded alone in my apartment, I decided to take up the blog again and see what I could do with it. It seemed obvious — turn it into a meta-humorous-philosophical art project with the theme of inside typographical jokes, the dilemmas of learning French, and side discussions of programming, writing, editing, proofreading, and, of course, the Kate Bush fan site section. Blogs 5 through 9 are all that I have left posted from this phase, though I have tons of stuff moved to the not-published drafts area.

It started out well I thought, then became distinctly self-referential, which was in keeping with the spirit of the thing. One topic of interest was the different AZERTY keyboard I was using sometimes. I thought it would be amusing to try to type on it and then the QWERTY US one while thinking in terms of the other one. While making jokes about typographical errors, and errors in general. And making jokes about the editor I was typing in. And the programming behind that editor — I am or was a programmer, right? At one point I was trying to take screen shots on my smartphone of previous screen shots and began thinking seriously about infinite loops and whether or not I could create one in my mind, which seemed to be the direction I was headed in any case.

I do not recommend attempting to create an infinite loop in your mind. 🙂 I am certain that if I had presented myself to a psychiatric institution during the three subsequent days they would have admitted me without hesitation. I completely lost language, which is a big deal. I tried to invent a system of symbols I could count on to try to get language back. I have a lot of cryptic journal entries from those days. Eventually I recovered the mental level of my cats (they were rather concerned about me) and realized that the apartment wasn’t really cat-proof, so we did that.

Then I had a phase where the only reason I didn’t believe V. Putin was out to get me personally was that I wasn’t worth the effort. I read all sorts of subliminal messages into what I saw online, and came to the conclusion that I would have to eliminate all connections with technology. I threw away a writable notepaper tablet I had just bought, disconnected the cable, demolished my smartphone (they’re hard to break, you have to hammer the screen with genuine malice, and when you remove the battery you have to unwind it, and it heats up when you do that, which, if you’re being paranoid, is unsettling), even (for reasons still unknown) decided I should remove all the batteries from everything that had them, and throw away the battery covers, and then (for reasons even less known) cut the straps off my musical instrument gig bags (this project was left incomplete, which is considered good 🙂 )

It took a while, but eventually I mustered the courage to start going outside again (one thing I never lost was the awareness that I had become a subject of concern to family and friends, with good reason, and I didn’t want that) and gradually reconnect with reality/society. Bought my tablet and reconnected the cable. Re-learned language skills. Resumed music. Made new friends. Eventually rediscovered this blog. Which is fun, I love everything related to words and this is a much better place to play with them than Facebook was.

WordPress has a handy “time to blog” alert which I have set to Sundays, a good day to take off from practicing Bach (my shoulders, right elbow, and fingers are all at their practical limits and need a rest now and then) and reflect. And play with words, which I love.

Random Walks

One fallout from my recent decision to ditch the at-home internet (since rescinded, see this Facebook Post I never promised the Internet that I’d stay connected 24/7) was that I re-committed myself to getting outside every day. Yesterday, after taking the recycling to the collection point, I wandered around town and had the following experiences:

1. Passed by Eglise St Martin, went in and lit a candle, meditated a few minutes and thought good thoughts about my son and everyone else I know in the US. Gave alms to a mendicant at the door on my way out.

2. Chatted with Patricia at Pau’s Café about when they expect to re-open (mid-December). They do have internet.

3. Passed by L’Escampette the independent bookstore. Bought a little book of Emily Dickinson and a tiny pamphlet about early cinema (I think) which I found attractive because it was small and you have to cut the tops of the pages, like in olden times, you know, with a penknife.

4. Said Hi to the friendly man at the Catholic Bookstore.

5. Returned via rue Serviez, where there was a Nouveaux Beaujolais Festival in swing in front of the Nikolas Liquor Store. A mixed Béarnais beret-wearing choir singing lusty regional folk songs with accordion accompaniment.

6. Then I noticed the seven geese in the street. Three ganders and four geese. Being herded by five border collies and two shepards in fleece vests. Four donkeys up the street a ways. Must be Christmas in Pau time!

Clearly, getting out every day, even without any reason, is a profitable activity.

Today I went out again, a bit rainy, Sunday, not much open, I would have settled for any warm place to sit down and have a beer. But I did see some brass fish wall hanging art that a friend brought back to his gallery from a recent trip to Italy. About twenty of them in his shop window. One of them may migrate to my apartment next week, so long as I don’t have to take out a loan to buy it.

Walked up to The Red Lion pub (large, British-themed, friendly) to see if they were open. No, and they’re closed for renovations it seems but had a sign with their Facebook Page on it so I’ll keep an eye out.

Heard a commotion from the direction of the Verdun Parking Lot and saw that the County Fair was back for another weekend. I love strolling through that sort of thing, the expressions on people’s faces as they pay to be terrorized, the wide-eyed children, the bored Carnies running the sucker games, the blinking noisy Las Vegas ambiance.

The not very subtle undercurrent of sex and rebellion. Reminds me of the Knox County Fairs I went to as a boy. Once, when I was nine or ten, a carnie cruised me, giving me free rides then chatting about how he wanted to go get a six-pack and retire to his room, said that he imagined that that “sounds pretty good to you, right?” Well, not really. From the shallow depths of my knowledge about people and sex I replied as if I had gathered that he was looking for children and that I would find them for him. Which kind of freaked him out I guess because that conversation ended and there were no more free rides.

Mid-Sixties it was another County Fair where I first did, in fact, have the sex. My fellow hippie and friend who owned The Calico Cat head shop in Galesburg Illinois had a tent at the Fair where I hung out. Got to know some of the Fair People, including the guy who was The Bearded Lady. Interesting how they do that, with mirrors and stuff. It was funny that the barker would invite only women from the audience to touch his leg to prove he was real, and, as a bearded lady, it would not have been proper for a man to do so. He was funny too, introduced me to his ragtag friends, bought me vodka from the package liquor store just outside the town limits.

The sex part I found underwhelming, but that’s just me. We wrote letters for a while, one of my connections to the World outside the Midwest. And this random walk has ended up loosely connecting to the earliest posts of this blog (my over-determined response to the #MeToo movement then in progress).

The Peril of Miniaturization

Well, I am exhausted and it’s only 9am. First something woke me up at 3am, can’t remember what (oh, right, it was the sound of a cat vomiting, Henri, dry food, edge of rug, not too bad), and then I couldn’t get back to sleep so I had a cup of coffee and practiced Bach for a couple of hours, then went to sleep on the couch.

Re-awoke at 8am, decided to make my Capital One card payment, they have an option for Biometric Security, and ever since my Bitcoin Wallet ZenGo insisted I turn that on, no options, I’ve been liking the fingerprint thingie a lot (the facial recognition creeps me out) so I said, sure, why not. But then they had to send me a double-protection code on my US phone and my T-Mobile SIM is temporarily in storage awaiting the switchover of my French number from Orange to Free tomorrow.

OK, no problem, I’ll just pop the T-Mobile SIM back in, which I did, got the code, made the payment. Of course, at this point the Orange SIM is in the slot labeled “T-Mobile” because that’s what will be there and now the T-Mobile SIM is in the one labeled “Free.” Still, not confusing. Then I decide to just leave the phone alone until tomorrow, I might need T-Mobile again, who knows. So I want to store the Free nano-SIM safely. And while trying to insert it, in its nano-to-micro adaper in its own micro-to-standard adapter, into my adapter storage thingie, unbelievable as it may seem, the nano-SIM jumped out and scurried under the couch.

So now we are faced with the recurring problem of “Find the ridiculously tiny yet infinitely valuable speck of plastic under the couch among a year’s worth of cat hair balls, pulled-out couch stuffing, and, as it turns out, a dark dead dessicated spider, her legs neatly folded as if in prayer.” (Are those spider adjectives in the right order?) OK, not yet panic time, I can do this, I search with the flashlight, nope. I use the hand broom to make a preliminary sweep. Nope. Meanwhile Luna has spilled my glass of water on the floor so I might as well bite the bullet and pull the couch out and do it right.

Removed the quilt and Knoxville Illinois commemorative comforter, the pillows, the cushions and back-supporting “husband,” slid the coffee table out and the two little tables, pushed back the wires and lamp, got the Dyson down, and commenced. Still nope. Now I’m a little concerned. Could I have swept it up in the first go? It’s certainly small enough to hide in a furball. I am just at the point of going to get my kitchen gloves so I can dig through the trash, sitting on the couch to re-combobulate, when I glance down and the little white SIM is at my feet. I swear it wasn’t there when I sat down.

It’s all for the best I suppose, gives me a start on picking the place up for the The Best Book Club meeting in December chez moi. I’ve only ever had two parties since I moved here, one a little apartment warming and the other the time I had the British Ladies’ Tea. So it’s time. I may even make the bed.

Safe at last. Miniaturization can be carried too far. No wonder people believe Bill Gates is putting microchips into vaccines.

Calcutta Lessons

The no longer young (nearing thirty in 1979) man had come to Calcutta to study music, not to find a girlfriend. He was taking advantage of his company’s generous vacation and air travel benefits to devote a month to the study of an old style of singing, no longer in vogue, but still revered. His wife had returned to California after two months and two weeks in Saudi Arabia, leaving him on his own for the rest of his two-year assignment. This suited him fine, they got along far better when separated by an ocean. He had had a few crushes on other ex-pats in Saudi, but nothing more.

His lessons, with a gentle doyen of the school, proceeded at their traditional, unhurried pace. He stayed in a foreigner-friendly hotel, where he met a young woman behind the desk, a tall and beautiful Sikh girl named S. She spoke perfect English and was refreshingly forward, proud to inform him that she had recently been chosen “Miss Bengal” in a competition. This may have even been true, given the way her tightly wrapped sheer sari accentuated her alluring twenty-something curves. When he decided to save money by moving to a cheaper hotel she asked him where he would be and if she could come by to hear him sing.

He met her in the lobby of his new hotel, beneath the disapproving eyes of the check-in clerk, and led her up the stairs to the small flat. They talked of this and that, her dissatisfaction with Bengali men—“They make such a show of being so soft, so artistic!”, her family, her marriage prospects, sex. She had had a European boyfriend, a professor on vacation, they had made out in the taxi as he departed, promising to stay in touch. Touch—while talking, they had gradually edged closer on the narrow bed, the only place to sit in the little room. Their legs pressed together like magnets, hands and fingertips fluttering like mating butterflies, while their smoky glances lingered longer each time. Suddenly, as if by agreement, they kissed, and hugged, and kissed again.

Their trysts continued, two or three times a week, always at his hotel. The daily music lessons progressed at a glacial rate—two weeks devoted to the first note alone—and their intimacy progressed at the same slow tempo. One hot afternoon, S surprised the man. Lying beneath him in her underwear, her sari neatly folded on the table, she lifted her bra, offering her pale, firm breasts to his eyes, his hands, his lips.

The next time they graduated to touching each others’ centers of pleasure, moving panties and shorts aside when they got in the way. Her sweet and juicy papaya yielded to his eager, muscular fingers as they probed and kneaded, as his aubergine member pressed against her thigh, the tip of it peeking out from the top of his shorts.

It was during his last week in Calcutta when her curiosity led her to, just once, try kissing his now naked body, tracing the outline of his aching arrow of lust. He returned the gesture as she fully opened herself to his caressing hands and lips and tongue. “OH!” S cried out, “that feels … SUPER!!”

THE END / 2021

Mark Roberts T-14 “Anna M” Review

I was looking for the next step in my lifelong quest to learn the Bach Cello Suites, which began in High School when I still studied the cello. After about fifty years of detours through the bass and rock and jazz an extended illness gave me the time to return to the project, which I started on a small-scale Fender bass guitar restrung with cello strings. Next it occured to me that a Concert-size ukulele was about the scale of a viola and that a viola being an octave above a cello would let me just read the music as written (and thus stay in my comfort zone with the bass clef, written music not being my wheelhouse as it were), with the bonus of being transportable on an airplane, which I had to use to visit my son. When I moved to Egypt to be near him during his last year in High School that was the only instrument I took. I had had a couple of extra frets added to extend the range to be able to play the 6th Suite, written for a five-stringed instrument, but was clearly at a point where the instrument’s limitations were limiting my progress and I was really asking too much from a stock uke.

So I did some online research and began a series of discussions with Mark about the possibilities. He among the luthiers I consulted seemed most intrigued by my plans and made a number of excellent suggestions, mostly in the service of improved sustain (when you’re trying to emulate a bowed instrument you cannot have too much of that). So he added a cantilevered fretboard and selected wood. Another of my concerns was to avoid any radical difference between open and fingered notes so the zero-fret option was a welcome one. At every stage of the design I felt included and learned a lot about fretted instruments in general (most of my bass playing has been on fretless). And found a kindred spirit who didn’t find endless discussions about strings, equal temperment, and the sacredness of good wood to be boring. I am always impressed when a craftsman pays as much attention to tools and process as to product. Almost as an afterthought, it was decided to add a fifth string. Why not?

By the time the instrument was ready I had moved to France so the shipping aspect was a bit nerve-wracking but all ended well. And the instrument (named for Bach’s 2nd wife) has become the heart of my project. A joy to listen to, sustain and resonance beautiful on slow passages, clarity and ease on fast ones. And that fifth string! I had no idea just how difficult the Sixth Suite is when you are forced to spend a lot of your time in upper positions while trying to make up for the lack of an open high string—I have great admiration for the cellists who manage to make it look natural. If nothing else this will be a demonstration of how the piece might have been played on the instrument it was written for, and it is the first Suite I am attempting to record.

In short, I feel very fortunate to have run into the best luthier for my project and can unreservedly recommend Mark’s ukuleles for whatever your own plans may include.

Audio Samples

Suite VI Prélude
http://hearthis.at/dorianriyaz/ste-6-prelude/

Suite VI Allemande [A]
http://hearthis.at/dorianriyaz/ste-VI-allemande-part-a

Shape of My Heart by Dominic Miller and Sting
hearthis.at/dorianriyaz/shape-of-my-heart

As You Said by Jack Bruce
http://hearthis.at/dorianriyaz/as-you-said

How to get a spider out of your bathtub

  • notice spider in bathtub
  • try to pick up spider using washcloth, fails bc spider wary
  • try to pick up spider, or rather, induce spider to crawl onto wooden backscratcher purchased in Boston, fails bc spider wary
  • think about it
  • put larger washcloth in tub, leave for a while, hope spider maybe will crawl up washcloth on his or her own, succeeds
  • now spider is on the seat part of the deep old tub, so far so good, move washcloth so that spider can now climb that from the seat to the top of the tub, leave for a while, this seems to be the way to go
  • return and voila! spider nowhere to be seen, this is considered good

(if at any time a cat had eaten the spider then that would have been in the hands of a higher power)

What Connecting Dots has to say about “What the Critics are saying about Connecting Dots”

“A Staggering Wok of Heartbroken Genies” — Egg Davers

I am pretty sure I have read “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by David Eggers, but for my purpose all I needed was a well-known book with a provocative title that someone on the first page of results calls ‘post-modern.’ If it works at all it’s because it scans right.

Also, a subliminal association forms between the book mentioned and this blog, good, bad, doesn’t matter and completely involuntary. I think this ought to come out at least morally neutral: either the reader thinks more highly of the blog by association with the book they like or think they like (plus for blog and no harm to book’s reputation) OR some sort of neutral association either or both ways (no harm) OR many other cases not considered (?) OR in the worst case, the blog harms the book’s value in the reader’s mind, which is a loss for a different person’s book’s reputation, which constitutes harm by words and is not allowed. And for which I apologize. But I don’t think it will happen often enough to matter.

“I hear a lot of people are saying he is the new John Joyce… ..” — The Real Donald Trump

The top search result is a John Joyce who is a Republican US Representative from, I think, Philadelphia. Follows the punning of Block 1. The ellipse and two dots are as close as I want to get to Stephen Colbert (that didn’t come out right).

“Couldn’t get it to compile.” — PC World

I have the feeling that I saw this or something similar on the back of a humorous book. Probably PC World doesn’t compile anything and it could be Programmer’s Journal of X or something but PC World is well-known by the general public.

“A writer for our time, [inserted by Connecting Dots]—and more’s the pity—” — The Lady’s Magazine, or Mirror of the Belle-Lettres, Fine Arts, Music, Drama, Fashions, &c., Improved Series, September 30, 1830, short story “The Breakfast.” by Mrs. Hofland. from Ackerman’s Juvenile Forget Me Not. Music 176, Page 126‡

Wanted a quote for the entire phrase but couldn’t easily find one so tried just the ‘and more’s the pity.’ It found two quotes from The Lady’s Magazine and this one had the em dashes. I might have come up with something as good as Mrs. Hofland on my own but I doubt it. “Ackerman’s Juvenile Forget Me Not” is way above my Pay Grade, Chris Ware¹ territory. Not sure if ‘Music 176’ means anything but it was displayed. (Update 29/5/2020 now I see it, “Forget Me Not. Music” it was right there under my eyes all the time.) Obsolete footnote out of order. I believe the monetization value of  typographical and proofreading in-jokes is zero. Now I see why John Joyce had such difficulties with his publishers, how the F is a proofreader supposed to know what is or is not an intentional error. On the other hand, doing things like this² gives me the option of saying, “Yeah? Well I meant it that way” which is considered good.

“The worst case of self-referential stream of consciousness journaling since ‘The Story of Mary MacLane’ by Mary MacLane.” — “Graphomania.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders IV, §8, ¶3, line 44, characters 1–105.†

Out of date DSM. Spelling out DSM suggested by a friend. It’s much better, thanks. Debated whether or not to change the inappropriately detailed character numbers to a more plausible sequence not starting at 1, decided it didn’t matter. Adding the name of the author to the book was the last edit. This article has more or less settled down, the rubble-bouncing nearly over. “The Story of Mary MacLane” is a real book I’m reading, it was mentioned in a history of Surrealism, link available on request. Mary MacLane was a 19 year old genius living lonely in the West, Montana I think, and is one of the fiercest writers I have read.

‡ Quotation in full, “Oh! yes, Sir; and if Sir Richard had not been poorly and gone to foreign parts A writer for our time, [inserted by Connecting Dots]—and more’s the pity—‘ “What would have happened? Perhaps I can be your friend as well as he.”

Text from The Lady’s Magazine. Delightful. Good me associations: I been poorly and gone to foreign parts, Sir Richard ties to dad. Love the em dashes.

† DSM-IV go on to state that, “Sometimes individuals afflicted with Graphomania are charged with harassment of individuals and less frequently of court personnel including judges and prelate [s.i.c] [[sic]] officers.”

Final out of sequence footnote. DSM-IV treated as British English convention for plurals for organizations &c. This is a real quote from some version of the DSM. At the time of that version Graphomania was mentioned only in passing, not defined as an enumerable mental disease, it may be there now as I have been told they’re up to DSM-7. So I replaced whatever it was about with Graphomania. It ties in with the harm words do. I changed probate to prelate because I’m pretty sure it refers to something Catholic thus to John Joyce. Then added the sic, and looking up sic in Wikipedia learned that there are two (at least) errors you can make with sic itself: adding superfluous dots thinking it’s something it’s not and italicizing it as a foreign language which is an error for some reason I can’t remember. Added two more errors by accident, the mis-matched case of the brackets which I noticed right away and the omitted dot after the c which I noticed later. Then the proper sic inside the double brackets at the end and we’re done here. Almost. If you read it out loud you get “sick sick officers” which is surely worth something.

¹ This reminded me that I purchased a French version of “Jimmy Corrigan” from the local independent bookstore a while back before The Apocalypse. Now I suppose I’ll have to read that. While trying to make sure I wasn’t misspelling Ware or something equally stupid (not saying Ware himself is stupid, I meant I could make some different equally stupid error), I found it very difficult to find the Author’s name on the book. Spoiler: it’s there, but in very small type, and you have to root around for a while. Seems like an excellent way to do business.

² Missing reference.

Grooming Time

Since The Confinement★ the cats and I have been getting better acquainted. They connect me to Nature, sentient beings to love and to study, to observe. They tell me when to take a nap, when to eat (I rarely know that, so win-win).

I am an apprentice in the craft of trimming their claws. The essential factor in not hurting them is to have the strongest possible light so you can see where the quick ends.† Since I’m here every day and have no scheduled “temporal obligations”‡ other than Yoga Wednesdays it’s easy to check paws daily, trimming claws when necessary, combining that with grooming (tight flea comb followed by nubbly brush). One paw per cat per day in clockwise rotation. They don’t have to endure too much at once. A groomer or vet would have tighter time constraints. This is a luxury.

The strongest possible light available to me, here, is late afternoon sun from the West window. When that floods the salon it’s Grooming Time. Always followed by Food Puzzle Time. They know what’s coming next, I think they do know that. They act like they do, so Behavioral Modification and all that stuff. It’s what I want anyway.

Luna is the most averse, I try to do her first. Now she only half-heartedly hides. If I return to the couch and wait, doing something else, she eventually returns from under the bed to be captured. She benefits from bundling, a technique recommended by a local friend. You calm a cat by wrapping it in something you’re wearing that opens in front. They all benefit from that.★★ Luna’s claws are the thickest.

Next up is Lilou, quite compliant now (she is the smart one, knows the score). Her claws require only minimal clipping, she’s a more diligent scratcher. Finally Henri Cat wobbles into my arms, purring. He purrs during the clipping and then during the grooming. He purrs a lot. Now that it’s warmer we comb and brush daily, and as the sole longhair he’s the most sheddy. It feels good to lose excess hair, and grooming is what their mother did, which they now do with each other (and, rarely, with me).

CAST OF CHARACTERS: Les Trois Mousquetaires (NTS insert picture of the trio)

Luna, The Mystic

Plain Jane tabby, forlorn nondescript member of the Three Mouseketeers I encountered in a parking lot near Condom. I wanted two cats, because one cat is just sad, and besides I am an old cat myself now, not interested in active play (my previous pair, as kittens, used to wake me up from my cancer recovery drug-induced slumbers by running across my head at 2am, but that’s another blog).

Was I going to separate three kittens who knew only themselves and their missing mother and their missing brother and now these strange large creatures offering food?

She was first out of the cat carrier when I opened it in the bedroom. I tried to feed her cat baby formula from an eyedropper. She had one taste then jumped out of my hand to go exploring. Later that evening she fell asleep in that hand. Glad I didn’t reject her for being less photogenic than the other two. I call her The Mystic because she stares for hours at something I cannot, try as I might, see. A good match for Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter. She studied a light switch for days and I could see that. Clumsy. Rotund. Emits little “mew!”s. Hides under the couch. Used to do that thing where a cat pretends your shirt is a nipple. She’s outgrown that now. My favorite.

(NTS picture of Luna)

Henri Cat, The Lover

Like his namesake Henri IV he relishes his quotidian pleasures. (His name was a no-brainer given my address.) If he had balls, and if he were allowed outside, he would have as many Official Mistresses as the original. First of the trio to venture forth from the safety of the under-bed to cuddle up to the new Mommy-Daddy. There is only one orange and white male cat, and I love them all (Henri, my sister’s Finbot, my childhood companion Eric the Red). Large but not overweight. Explores more than the girls. More social than the girls. Less cautious than the girls. Stare-downer of a small foofy dog. Frequent lap-user. Doesn’t hide at all. Makes odd loud vocalizations that alarm me, but doesn’t seem to be in any pain so who knows? My favorite cat.

Lilou, the Huntress-Thinker

Named by the mother of the woman who posted the availability of motherless barn cats. I didn’t have a name for her and am aware of the French aversion to giving human names to pets so was glad for advice about what a normal cat name in France might be. It reminded me of LeeLoo from The Fifth Element and Futurama (NTS are these right?). Has mad skills and is scary smart. Has a Lilou-only hiding place on the top shelf of the bedroom closet among the rags. She gets there by leaping from the water table at the end of the bed to the cat-width cat-walk that defines the old kitchen area, then creeping around to the closet. Drew my attention to the fact that the cat-screen in the window had weathered, allowing a resourceful cat to get out and perilously perch on the slippery old slate tiles. She gazed at me from the wrong side of the screen and calmly waited to be returned to the family. I replaced the plastic screen with metal mesh. Lithe body, high metabolism (a tri-color characteristic, they have abnormal chromosomes and are said to be feisty). Talks a lot, usually says, “Now is the time we eat crunchy food.” Lilou is my favorite cat of all time.

CAST OF CHARACTERS: The Dynamic Duo (to be continued)

★ Not satisfied with that term but cannot think of a better one. I admire the collector of oddities (misprinted dice and such like) who, when interviewed on Atlas (NTS link) Obscura manned up, faced the facts, and blandly said, “Well, since The Apocalypse…” 🙂 but that doesn’t work for me, yet.

† Earlier we had two incidents where there was blood (Lilou). Odd that she didn’t even flinch. Blood vessels must extend farther than nerves. I discarded some fancy clippers with depth-setting shields. None of the cats tolerated them. Must have pulled at the claws. Now I use a pair of the heaviest simple ones I could find at Jardiland, the most expensive pair they sell. Sharpness is all.

‡ NTS song title, Dead Can Dance, then link

★★ Previous cats D.J. and Little J. did well with a swaddling type of cat harness. Cats prefer them to the strap type. The first time they wore them they dropped into the “I am hugging the Earth, I am safe here” cat position.

ps This is a direct-to-blog article (no Journal entry), in a calmer state of mind than the last one. The calm is from the grooming.

pps This article may an antidote to the previous one (link), which I think of as being in the stream-of-consciousness/chaos genre. This one was edited on screen and on paper until it was deemed sufficiently carved up to be servable. I think it a passable piece of writing that I would hand in as ready to be graded. It still has too many words.