Caturday Thoughts – Shots, Diets and Other Feline Concerns

Thursday Hansel had his booster shot and is all done. Dr Reeder likes to stagger shots to help ward off possible side effects. His neuter has had little effect on his behavior but if he gets a regular session with the laser dot he is much less likely to jump the other cats.

I will be keeping him. I assured my friend I can still foster. While for now there is a lot of storage in the front room and the future playroom in the finished part of the attic, once the kitchen is restored there will be tons of room. And I plan to finish the other half of the attic as well. Naturally, when most people adopt their fosters, they run out of room for more. I have no husband, children or dogs. Visitors are rare. I still have fewer cats than when I first moved here. Simba’s passing left a space for Charli and no one has taken the spaces left by Mini, Mosby and Tony. Little Hansel is so much like a Bengal it is like having Shinki back again. While he went back to my friend YJ once he returned from Korea, he was with me for a long time and Bengals are unlike any other cat. He plays with the water in the fountains and likes to come under the covers and sleep next to me like Shinki did. And he climbs everywhere! It makes me keep up with the housework.

Cloud, Cozy in a Cup Bed

There was blood in Cloud’s urine but no bacteria, indicating no infection but an inflammatory response. This will require dietary change. I picked up some cans of special food at the vet. This did not work for Simba’s diet, she hated the canned kidney food and refused to eat it. She would only eat the dry, which is actually not what you want.

So I am looking at alternative therapies. I would like all the cats off dry kibble and eating more natural and healthy food. This requires patience and a slow transition. Mi Sun and Dolly are still having problems with dermatitis. I am sure it’s an allergen in the house. Allergies are an inflammation response too. I need to find contractors that aren’t complete incompetents and get this placed fixed up. In the meantime I am going to try treating it more aggressively starting with applications of coconut oil.

Hansel’s vet is at a different practice. The man who rescued him and his late siblings brought them to Dr Reeder. When we went for his booster, a man brought in a beautiful German Shephard. It turned out he belonged to the receptionist I was talking to and he was there to get a cold laser treatment for his arthritis. Mi Sun’s vet does not offer this but the receptionist swore it really helped her dog, so I am seriously thinking of taking her there to try it.

Between the dermatitis and the arthritis, Mi Sun is not as happy as she might be. The supplements really help and when she is bad she gets gabapentin.  However, no medication is without it’s downside and I would rather avoid it. I think a more natural diet would help but she is a kibble addict; although she will readily eat canned food, unlike the other cats she turns her nose up at chicken, pork, and even sushi. I did finally get Dolly to eat some of the nice organic chicken we had for Thanksgiving, so I am more optimistic than I was.

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Friday Files: 437 Things To Do by Next Week

The truck went into the shop at 8:00 AM Monday and did not come out until Wednesday after lunch. They called around 11:30 and said it was done. It had been snowing steadily but was supposed to clear later, so I told them they could wait until later and not interrupt the work flow before coming to pick me up. I went to the new garage in town after Nita from the rescue recommended them. Right after the ice storm I started leaking power steering fluid badly so I drove it there for them to check. They checked it while I waited and found the leak was in a line. Unfortunately, they became backed up and could not schedule me for over a week. So I restricted my driving to taking Hansel for his neuter surgery and picking him up again and going to city hall to pay the sewer assessment and property taxes, while adding fluid between trips. Then when I did get it in, they had to special order the part so I had to wait two more days.

The truck cap got a hole punched in it by the tree branch that fell onto it and the house in the ice storm. That still needs repair. There are several cords of wood that need to be moved from the front yard to the wood pile and the gutters are still full of debris. The trim torn off the front porch still need nailing back up, too.

Blogging has taken a back seat to recovering the things taken out for the move to the west coast that didn’t happen and getting them home again. Then we did a massive sorting of donations we got at the thrift and I was supposed to take what wouldn’t work for us them to other charities I knew could use them, mostly clothes. But they’re still sitting in the middle of the living room because of the ice storm, the holiday and not having the truck. Finally today I’ll be taking the metal to the paid recycling, the donations to the shops and some books to the book trader. Hopefully this Sunday I won’t oversleep the way I did last week and I can get to the laundry first thing and grab the big machine so I can wash the sheets, blankets, towels and cat beds as well as the regular laundry, which is really piling up. This needs to be done by next week, it can’t be postponed any longer.

On the way to my errands I past a metal shop where I am going to stop and see if I can get some sheet aluminum to fix the truck cap. I also have several pairs of pants to drop off with the alterations woman at the dry cleaner.

There is still a lot of drywall to be pulled down and insulation to be ordered. I have to find a trustworthy electrician.  While the walls are open, before I insulate or put up new drywall, I need one outlet replace, another properly grounded and several moved to accommodate the new kitchen layout.

This list goes on and on, it is like the Hydra. I chop off one to do and seven appear in it’s place. I can only hope that once the house is organized and recovered from all of the moving things around, we’ll get back to just the ordinary daily routine of preparing meals and cleaning up afterward, keeping the litter boxes fresh, getting the small firewood stacked and the big firewood split, finally finishing the thesis and getting back to my normal blogging and blog reading.

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St Nicholas

Close up of gilded face of St Nicholas St Nicholas was the Greek bishop of Myra (Demre, in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey) in the early 4th Century AD. Many miracles are attributed to his intercession and, over the centuries, he became a hugely popular saint. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose English name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas (St Nick). In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nikolaos of Bari. His feast day is December 6th.

A painting by Gentile da Fabriano showing St Nicholas providing dowries to the three daughtersThe most famous story about him involves helping out a poor man with three daughters. The father was so poor that he couldn’t afford a dowry for his three girls—in those days it would have meant they remained unmarried and possibly be forced into prostitution. St Nick interceded by secretly donating 3 purses of gold coins over 3 nights, one for each of the 3 daughters. In some stories he threw the purses in through a window to avoid being identified as the donor, in others he dropped the money down the chimney, where it landed, plop, into the stocking of one of the girls. Hence the pawnbroker’s balls, Christmas stockings and gift-giving associated with the saint.

Legends continued to accrue long after after Nicholas’s passing. One tells how, in his home village, during a celebration on the anniversary of Nicholas’s death, a young boy was kidnapped to become a slave to a neighboring region’s emir. The family grieved for a year, and on the anniversary of the boy’s disappearance, they refused to leave their home. Good thing: As the story goes, Nicholas appeared, spirited the boy away from his captors, and deposited him in his house—with the gold cup from which he was serving the emir still in his hand. This once again established Nicholas as a patron and protector of children.

St Nicholas resurrected the dead childred from a medieval book of hoursAnother legend tells how a terrible famine struck the land and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he slaughtered and butchered them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher’s horrific crime but also resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers. Hence St Nick’s association with children.

However, it is likely that the legend grew up from a misinterpretation of ancient icons and images of the saint where he is shown baptizing heathens in a font. To show reverence for the Saint, the men being christened were shown small, and over time, misread as being children in brine. (Misinterpretation of icons happened a lot in the past it seems—Google St Agatha, Patron Saint of Bell-ringers to see another example!)

Nicholas was celebrated as a saint within a century of his death and today is venerated as the patron saint not only of children but also of sailors, merchants and pawnbrokers, captives, archers, travelers, marriageable maidens, laborers—even thieves and murderers. He is the patron of many cities and regions, and thousands of churches are named for him around the world.

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day can add a bit of welcome festivity in the early days of Advent and help get you in the Christmas mood. The story of St. Nicholas, a man of faith whose example of giving in secret to those in need helps offset some of the commercialism that has taken over the season. It enriches our understanding of Santa Claus by showing the real historical person who inspired the familiar legend and traditions.  You can encourage children to identify a kindly “Nicholas deed” to do for someone else. Follow the modest Dutch custom of a simple party  and fill some shoes. Children can  fill theirs with pieces of carrot or bits of hay for his white horse or donkey. Place more shoes outside bedroom doors or on the hearth. A a candy cane representing Bishop Nicholas’ crozier and a simple gift appears by morning on December 6th. The Dutch accompany the simple gifts with elaborate rhyming texts that may be riddles or satirical poems commenting on the recipient’s behavior and/or wrapped in fantastically deceiving ways, such as a pen inside a hollowed out carrot or something small nested inside multiple boxes and wrappings.

Russian icon of St Nicholas

Nikolay Omonov [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

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Major Snow dà xuě 大雪 Dec 07

Heavy snow on pine branchesOn December 7th we move into the 21st solar term of 大雪 Dàxuě , or Taisetsu in Japanese, 대설 Daeseol in  Korean and Đại tuyết in Vietnamese. It is literally translated as major or great snow. It snows heavily for the first time in the year, in northern China, at least and is the start of the really snowy season. It will end on 21 December. We actually did get snow today on the 5th, although it could hardly be called major. It’s hard to believe it was 60F/16C on Sunday. The weather has been very erratic but winter is here, nonetheless.

The first of the three pentads for major snow ls 鶡旦不鳴, ‘The long tailed pheasant does not cry at dawn.” As winter progresses, even this active bird slows and ceases to crow. The second is 虎始交, ‘Tigers begin to mate” The third 荔挺生 I have found no translation I am happy with. The first character is sometimes translated as lichee.  Sheng, the third character can mean to grow and ting, the second character can mean straight, erect or to stick out. I think this probably refers to the blooming of the lichees. They reproduce from new growth at the ends of branches and do bloom in winter. This happens mostly in southern China as lichees are considered a tropical fruit and grown in Guangdong and Fujian in southern China.

Snow drift textures on a hill during a stormDuring Major Snow, the snow becomes heavy and begins to accumulate on the ground. The temperature drops significantly. In North China it may snow for days, breaking tree branches and blocking the roads. The natural scenery is “ice blockading for hundreds miles and snow flying through thousands miles”. In the South, the snowflakes fly and the world turns white. There is a proverb about the snowfall. “A timely snow promises a good harvest”. As the snow covers the ground, insect pests in the ground winter will be killed by the low temperature.

Wintersweet usually blossoms in mid-to-late December in some southern cities of China. Sometimes it even blooms earlier. Wintersweet originated in China and is highly appreciated in Chinese culture for its endurance in severe winters. With pine and bamboo, it is referred to as one of the Three Friends of Winter. Chimonanthus preacox, to give it’s botanical name, was domesticated during the Song Dynasty and inspired courtly poems from the eleventh century; it flowers through to the Chinese New Year, when flowering sprigs are used as hair ornaments. In China, prunings are dried and kept to perfume linen cupboards.

Lamb and mutton are very popular with Chinese people during Major Snow, especially in the north. It is excellent for nourishing the body, promoting blood circulation and providing protection against the cold. People in Chongqing like to have potted lamb soup or stewed lamb soup with their families and friends. Nanjing residents like to stew the lamb with yams or wolfberries to make it more nutritious.

During Major Snow, Chinese people in South China make sausages, an important part of preparation for the Spring Festival. The best meat for sausage is that of the pig’s buttock. The sausage should be dried in a well-ventilated place in the shade. After a week, they are edible. The sections of sausage are usually boiled or fried.

Bowl of rice congee with garnishes

By Daiju Azuma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Another food which grows in popularity at this time, warm porridge or congee is considered to help increase one’s personal heat and nourish the body in cold weather, much as oatmeal is considered in the west. In China, there is custom to eat red bean porridge on the first day of Winter Solstice and eight-treasure porridge on the eighth day of the last month of the lunar year. In addition, there are other porridges such as wheat porridge, sesame porridge, radish porridge, and walnut porridge. Whether you make a Chinese style porridge or a bowl of oatmeal, it’s a good way to start the day in this season. I like to doctor up my porridge with herbs and my oatmeal with dried fruits and nuts, making them even healthier.

The Chinese people during this period are on guard against the outbreak of respiratory illness, which they believe can be prevented by wearing a warm scarf to protect the neck and throat. Because we got that early ice storm I noticed many people are having colds and bronchitis already. Having no heat for several days was partly to blame. Also, during Major Snow, it is drier and colder, so people should drink more water. But there is a right way one should go about it, not drinking too much water at once or drinking very cold water, especially after exercise. For those with efficient home heating, the dryness can get excessive, so this ancient Chinese advice is still very relevant.

Tall pines in deep snow

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Unity is a philosophical concept and a mystic experience expressible mathematically.

When we consider the point, it is important to realize that we are not talking about a point in space, because a point does not define anything about the space around it. So from a sacred geometric point of view, the point is existing simply by itself. This is true also for the perfect circle and the perfect sphere, as these both are simply extensions of the point – the circle being a two dimensional extension, and the sphere being an extension into three dimensions. If we have any of these three objects, we cannot necessarily say anything about the space we assume surrounds them, and thus the space does not exist as such. These three objects are whole and complete unto themselves.

These three shapes encompass everything which can be known, and it is because of these characteristics that they are perfect for conveying the pure, abstracted idea of one, or unity.

The perfect square and the perfect cube also serve to represent unity, although they are one step lower on the scale of abstraction than the first three shapes. This is because the square and the cube are “poised for manifestation,” whereas the point, circle, and sphere are total and complete unto themselves. We will find out why the square is poised for manifestation in the next chapter, but for now let us look at why these two shapes can encompass the idea of one-ness.

To start with, all four sides of the square and all twelve edges of the cube are equal. Because of this, we can say that their lengths are all equal to one. It is possible to say that the sides and edges would be equal to any number, but in sacred geometry it is always of prime importance to establish which length in a given figure is equal to one, as this most easily establishes which proportions are present in the figure.

So we may say that in this case, because the sides and edges are the most readily measurably aspect of the figures, they are equal to one.

Once the side/edge length is determined we can determine the area of the square and the volume of the cube. The area of the square can be found by using the equation length times width equals area. In this case 1 x 1 = 1. For the cube’s volume, we can use the equation length times width times height equals volume, or 1 x 1 x 1 = 1.

In both cases, the answers to the equations equal one. We cannot directly determine anything else about these figures, and thus we find that in all ways, both of these figures represent one, or unity, nicely.

Once again, because of our human consciousness and it’s firm foundation in two-ness, it is very difficult for us to conceive of the idea of a point, circle, or sphere without subsequently considering the space that surrounds them. But if we ever hope to begin to understand one-ness at it’s essence, we must try to come to terms with this idea.

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I’ll bet you thought you would see pictures of pumpkin pie and a turkey here. Sorry. This is about a different thanksgiving. The dubious narrative that forms the backdrop to the traditional version of our upcoming holiday aside, formalizing a day of thankfulness and gratitude is a good idea. I keep a gratitude journal and although I have often gotten very busy and neglected to do the journaling part from time to time, the habit, once established, of looking for things to be grateful for each day has not been dropped. Indeed, it has become quite effortless. Initially I struggled to find one thing each day. Some days I could only write that I was grateful for not being in such and such war-torn place.  I still am, although I know full well violence has a long reach. The true power of the practice came in the realization I was overlooking the many smaller gifts the universe had provided. The cat’s being silly, the opportunity to compliment a stranger and better their day, making a new friend on line through a common interest were all things to be grateful for. If it was sunny, I was grateful for the nice day and if it rained I was grateful to not have to manually water the garden.


The simple truth is, it is more enjoyable to go through life looking at a glass as half full rather than half empty. Start using the gratitude exercise and a day will come along when you look at the glass and suddenly realize that it is in actuality completely full. You just did not have the clarity of vision to see it. The glass is half full of water but also half full of air. Don’t you need both? Aren’t you grateful for the atmosphere? Aren’t you glad you can breath?  Ask someone with lung disease and they’ll tell you how important that “empty” half is.

Why has your vision, your perception, changed?. One simple reason. Gratitude is insidious. It infiltrates your brain and actually changes your biochemistry. Look out, it might actually make you happy! You don’t need a PhD in biochemistry to explore this phenomenon, it has been reported and commented on in mainstream media. Best of all you can test it for yourself in complete safety, unless of course, you are wedded to negative feelings. Give it a fair trial, it takes thirty days to build a habit. To lazy to journal? Just spend five or ten minutes each of those days thinking of what your are grateful for. Surely you can spare five minutes a day to feel better. Your brain will reward you, I promise.



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Minor Snow xiǎo xuě 小雪 Nov 22

MinorFrost spikes on plant stems







Light snow on scene of trees, creek and rail fence

Snow flurries in front of old fashioned lamp in the dark

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