April 13, 2018:
It's Friday the 13th, so I hope you're not
superstitious. We're expected a big snowstorm this weekend, which one doesn't
We mentioned the ruffled grouse on Steve Pitt's property last week, and he sent us yet another photo of this magnificent bird in full strut.
April 6, 2018:
Just read that the first Friday of each month is Blame Someone Else Day. So I'm taking advantage of that to remove all blame from Yours Truly for a cascade of problems over the past week that caused a glitch with email, then with the power supply to the desktop computer and printer, and even with a toy that doesn't belong in the office being found under the desk.
All is well now, so I'm claiming Immunity to Prosecution.
Meanwhile, Steve Pitt sent us some great pics of the ruffled grouse on his property as well as of a chickdee flying off after snatching a peanut from Steve's palm.
I may have forgotten to tell you that we added several new species to the Fan Club, as well as another country, after Juliana Najak brought us photos from their trip to India. Check out our first bat, chital (a form of spotted deer only found in India and southeast Asia), and some exotic fish, including a stingray. There are also the usual elephants, cows, a giraffe, a lion and a tiger.
We don't make political comments in this blog, but I recently noted that Donald Trump is the first president in roughly 150 years not to have a pet while in office.
March 31, 2018:
Tomorrow is not only Easter Sunday, but also April Fool's Day. Wonder if anyone will make a mess when they try to remove the shell from what they think is a hard-boiled egg to find out it's still raw? Or will jelly beans spill out of chocolate bunnies?
I've always thought that bunnies were tricksters, which is why I didn't want to wear the bunny ears Bobbi tried to get me to pose with.
This is a good time to promote a new humor book by a friend of ours. Allia Zobel Nolan. We have many of her books in our living room for guests to pick up when they visit. And she has a cat, Fiona Colleen Nolan, who could be my twin!
March 23, 2018:
Today is World Water Day. It seems that many people around the world don't have access to clean drinking water, which is really terrible. Like humans, cats can survive several days without food (not happily!) but all mammals require water every day.
My water bowl is on the tray next to my bowl of dry food, and I also have a bubbling fountain beside my dish in the kitchen, where Bobbi gives me a small portion of Friskies canned food (seafood flavor!) every day. She has never seen me drink out of the fountain, so I'm not going to reveal here whether or not I have actually done that!
Because I lived outside when I was very young, I learned to "test" water before I drink it. I still do that sometimes, putting my paw into my water dish to make sure it's safe to drink.
March 17, 2018:
We don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day in this household, thank goodness. Unlike Terzo, I don't like to dress up, and wouldn't want to have to put on a silly green hat to pose for pictures.
I'd much rather talk about the current play at GCTC, which Bobbi saw Saturday and told me was wonderful. While she was there, she delivered a note from me to my boyfriend, Mr. Carl Perkins, who lives with GCTC's Artistic Director, Eric Coates. Carl is younger than I am, and hasn't yet come to appreciate some of the toys I send him. I enclosed two new, fat straws with this message, but Eric tells us Carl hasn't figured out what to do with them.
March 10, 2018:
I just found out that this is the weekend we "spring forward" and change to Daylight Savings Time. I don't understand why we have to do this, and find it very disrupting. Last fall, when we "fell back" an hour, it took me a long time to adjust. Like most pets, I'm used to being fed at the same time every day, and to adapt to Bobbi's schedule. So everything is disrupted when the clocks change.
Meanwhile, she's trying to get me to wear those
silly bunny ears again. I'd much rather play with my toys.
March 3, 2018:
This is If Cats Had Opposable Thumbs Day. Huh? I don't need opposable thumbs; I have claws, and even though I let Bobbi clip off the sharp points every week, I can still use them to pick up things more effectively than she can! I especially like the little white practice golf balls she buys for me at the dollar store, because I can use my claws to grab them by the little holes.
Many animals use their paws very effectively. It's not just monkeys who can use tools or pick up things with their paws. On our Animal Facts page, there are wonderful examples members of the crow family, who use tools to accomplish amazing tasks.
We're adding an item there this week about a female lion who grew a mane, as well as trio of cats our friend, Barbar Bunce-Demeules saw on the street near Madrid. Barbara, one of the contributors to Prose to Go: Tales from a Private List, also sent us great photos of Barbary Apes, the only species of macaque living outside of Asia.
Here's a sneak peek:
February 24: 2018:
Bobbi just came across this poster, and I think it's a good time to remind everyone about this. The black cat is Bastet, who was revered in Egypt. We have several little statues of him around the house, one of which is a replica of the one in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. It's the one on the right in the photo below.
The logo for Simon Teakettle Ink has always been a black cat, in honor of Cat Superiority we claim from our Egyptian ancestors.
February 16, 2018:
What a busy week! Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, and the Chinese New Year all in the same week. This is the year of the Wood Dog, and since Bobbi was born in a Wood Dog year, she will be reminding me about that for the next 12 months!
We have a dog in our living room. He looks a lot like Chummy, the Norweigian Elkhound Bobbi had as a teenager, and every so often I knock him over to remind him who's boss. Here we are, looking out the front door last summer. Then there's a photo of me celebrating Valentine's Day, and one of me wearing my Mardi Gras beads.
February 10, 2018:
This is Cat Health Month. Don't know how we're supposed to celebrate that, as those of us who live in the north don't venture out for our annual vet visit until the weather is MUCH warmer!
Bobbi was wondering why I look out the front windows so intently late in the evening, just before we go to bed. She just discovered why. We have at least one snowshoe hare who crosses our front yard en route to the woods and creek behind out cul de sac.
Our pal Don took this photo. It's hard to see, but you ought to be able to notice the unusual paw pattern in the snow. No tracks in the back yard, so I guess this visitor doesn't want to jump fences! We're debating whether animal tracks qualify for inclusion in the Fan Club.
February 3, 2018:
I hope you aren't distracted this week by the Super Blue Blood Moon, and tomorrow's Super Bowl. But today is My Fourth Birthday!
Here is the tuna & lobster feast in my special Simon Teakettle bowl (handmade by a local potter for the first Simon Teakettle), which was one of my gifts from June Coxon. And then Bobbi used the bowl as a background for my Favorite Toys.
January 27, 2018:
Another really cold week in the Ottawa area. As I approach my 4th birthday, I wonder how my mom, siblings and I survived our first winter. Were we born in a home or a barn? If so, how did I end up a stray, 8 months later, asking for shelter in an Alymer home, and ending up at the shelter where Bobbi found me three years ago?
I hope visitors to this page will check the charities we support here and on the Fan Club page, as many of them rescue and re-home feral and stray cats.
January 20, 2018:
Yesterday was National Popcorn Day. I love when Bobbi eats popcorn. I always ask for a piece to grab in my paws and then chase around the room.
This coming week we celebrate Answer Your Cat's Question Day. Some people think cats don't have questions, but we certainly do! Among the ones I ask Bobbi frequently are "Why are you taking so long to put more food in my dish?" and "Why can't I sit on the desk when you're working at the computer?"
Maybe seeing these in the blog will prompt her to offer some answers. Or maybe not...
We just added two more states to the Fan Club. Fran Shaw, a past president of the Cat Writers' Association, saw a monk seal sleeping on the beach outside her hotel room in Kauai, which allowed us to add Hawaii to the list, and Bobbi's old friend in D.C. added that location when he sent us a photo of a white-tail deer in his backyard.
January 13, 2018:
We're having strange weather, sometimes so cold the windows get frosted over and I can't see outside! Then we have a thaw, followed by freezing rain, then more snow. It makes me happy I'm an inside cat, although it's very boring when I can't watch birds, squirrels and the kids across the street getting off the school bus.
Here's a sample of our kitchen window, frosted over. You can see a bit of the rainbow decoration that hangs outside, as well as the outdoor thermometer. Then I thought I'd show you some of the delightful gifts June Coxon gave us for Bobbi's birthday and for both of us for Christmas. It's hard to see the pretty cat notes because the plastic packaging reflects the light.
January 6, 2018:
In the past we've started a new blog at the beginning of each new year, but as long as this page continues to load quickly, we're not going to bother doing that this year.
This is Walk Your Pet Month, which must have been invented by someone who lived far south of here! Nobody is going out in the record-breaking cold temperatures that have swept North America in the past week, and I assume dogs are donning warm coats (and perhaps booties) to do a quick run close to the back door and then rushing back inside.
December 30, 2017:
What a Christmas we had! Here's a photo of all the gifts I received, and one of me playing with my new Big Toy. You can see how the ball is lit up.
I also decided to commandeer a gift our former neighbor, Line, made for Bobbi. It's a square blue mat with a cat knitted into the centre. Very classy! And I decided it was perfect for cuddling.
December 23, 2017:
This is Bobbi's birthday, but she decided to put my special Christmas present together a few days early, and I'm thrilled to have yet another ball to chase! The green ball lights up when you touch either the ball or the track that curves around. I can reach in from the top or the side, and Bobbi will take photos of me playing with it next week.
Meanwhile, I wanted to show everyone all the cat-themed birthday cards Bobbi has received.
Next week, pics of all my gifts (and perhaps a few of hers, too).
December 16, 2017:
I often receive compliments on my eyes, which are green. But our friend, Harvey, has eyes that are two different colors! Shannon Lee Mannion, who is the photographer who took professional photos of Terzo, sent us this photo she took last week of Harvey.
December 9, 2017:
This is Bobbi's birthday month, and she began to celebrate this week at a dinner with two close friends who brought a cake to the restaurant where they meet for these occasions. I thought I'd share a photo of the cake, along with one of Carl Perkins in a less agitated mood than pictured a two weeks ago.
When Bobbi went to see Blind Date at GCTC, she delivered a present for Carl from me, and Eric tells us he was impressed. He certainly looks content on his perch after playing with the little green sock toy.
December 2, 2017:
This has been quite a week for the Fan Club. Our friend in Egypt just added two new cats to the Cats & Dogs page, and Bobbi's grand-niece added a cat and a magpie from South Korea and a dog from Vietnam, bringing the number of countries to 52!
The Acrocats have a new little tuxedo named Dixie. The troupe will be spending Christmas in New Orleans, where Dixie was adopted as a kitten a year ago.
November 25, 2017:
The Great Canadian Theatre Company is busy
rehearsing their next show. It's called Blind Date,
Carl sat in on a rehearsal, and was alarmed to report that it involves a member of the audience enlisted to go onstage - with no advance warning and no rehearsal!
November 18, 2017:
It's American Thanksgiving next week, so how appropriate that we have photos of wild turkeys on the Fan Club page, just in time to celebrate that holiday! Don Duquette spotted these as he was driving in Gatineau, and stopped the car to snap a few photos.
We're getting ready for winter, with the first snow expected this weekend. I've been thinking about what I ought to do to pass the long, dark afternoons, when there are few birds and squirrels to watch from my window perches, and decided I should learn a few yoga poses, using the calendar John Friedman (who just celebrated his 50th reunion at the Latin School of Chicago) sent us a few years ago.
November 11, 2017:
This past week was Animal Shelter Appreciation Week. I've mentioned before about how grateful I was to be adopted from a local no-kill shelter, where Bobbi found me after visiting a shelter closer to her several times without finding a suitable kitty to bring home.
She didn't know at the time that I was a Blue Smoke Tuxedo. All she saw was a cat that appeared to be white with very uneven grey patches. But what I saw was someone I could charm into giving me a home of My Very Own.
The shelter had already named me Penny, but I wouldn't have minded if she changed that. I answer to Miss Penny, Miss Penny Teakettle, Q.T. (which sounds like Cutie), Sweetheart, and Bobbi's Girl.
Most cats and dogs don't care what you call them, as long as you give them lots of love, good food, a safe and comfy place to sleep, and a few toys. They also need to be brushed, have their nails clipped, ears cleaned, and teeth brushed, and to see a veterinarian once a year.
November 4, 2017:
The first Simon Teakettle earned his reputation by writing columns for our local paper containing his wry observations on human behavior. These came to the attention of the CBC Ottawa radio station, after which he became a regular contributor to several CBC radio national programs.
Some of those columns were adapted into articles for CATS Magazine, and were later included in the award-winning Mewsings/Musings.
I was reviewing some of those old columns recently, to try to understand this thing humans do that puzzles me. Twice a year, they change their clocks, which throws everybody off schedule. This means I get my main meal of the day (canned Friskies Seafood Supreme pate) either an hour earlier or an hour later than usual, my nap time and our bedtime are off, as is everything else.
It also means Bobbi has to change all the clocks and timers, so the coffee brews at the right time and the lights turn on and off when they're supposed to.
If anyone can explain this to me, I'd love to hear some justification for this crazy idea.
October 28, 2017:
Bobbi's cousins in Kentucky have a lovely new cat, a Siamese/tabby cross called Misty. She has a ringed tail, which you can see clearly in this photo. We've added her to the Fan Club, but have begun to move most of the cats and dogs from the Fan Club page to a page of their own, because the main page was too slow to load. It must be the elephants and the grizzly bears!
October 21, 2017:
I'm trying to decide what to do about Hallowe'en. I
really like the pretty ribbons Bobbi suggested, and although I'm not
fond of wearing hats, this is certainly a classy sombrero. Meanwhile,
I have this giant purple spider to add to the decorations. And then,
there's always the feather boa:
October 13, 2017:
We don't often experience a Friday the 13th in October, just two weeks before Hallowe'en. That brings up all the myths about black cats being bad luck. How this silly idea originated is explained on our Cat Facts page.
In addition to adding facts to the various facts pages, we keep adding species to the Fan Club. In the past few weeks we've added butterflies, moose, and ibex, and a snow goose. Those who visit the page can learn about species they've never seen, as well as many they've never heard about. Do you know what a capybara looks like? How about a bat-eared fox or a cotton-topped tamarin?
October 7, 2017:
We're celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving here, enjoying such a long Indian summer that most of the leaves haven't turned yet.
Since it's a time for gratitude, I want to mention how happy I am to have a loving home, after having lived for a time outdoors as a stray. One of the charities we support is Alley Cat Rescue, who just posted this on their site: Cats are the number one companion animal. Unfortunately, nearly 2 million cats enter shelters every year and only 30% will make it out alive. This is why it is crucial for veterinarians to become involved in lowering the number of free-roaming cats. Our May Spay Challenge resulted in 30,000 cats getting fixed by over 1,200 veterinarians in 45 US states, Croatia, Canada and South Africa. ACR would love for even more veterinarians to become involved. Contact your veterinarian and ask them to offer free or low-cost surgeries for free-roaming cats.
September 30, 2017:
We're ending Happy Cat Month on a high. We've added the state of Utah to the Fan Club (only 8 states to go before we have all 50), as well as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Italy!
Several of our most faithful contributors, Steve Pitt, Barbara Demoules, and Neven Humphrey, have helped us achieve this, along with Jennifer Pulling from the U.K. who helps to rescue strays in Sicily. To cap Happy Cat Month, we're featuring a very relaxed Carl Perkins as he welcomes Eric Coates home from GCTC, along with a content ginger cat in Amsterdam, waiting for his ride!
September 23, 2017:
Our fans suggest we give equal billing to dogs! So here's Rocky Russo, who cuddles with his new pal, Toby. They live in Panama City, Florida, and Helen Maris Russo often sends us photos for the Fan Club when she and her family vacation in Montana.
And since this is reunion weekens at the Latin
School of Chicago, it's appropriate to include Scruffy,
who lives with Susan Page Harrington Grove. She's part of the class
of 1967, who are celebrating their 50th this year. I stay in touch
with many from this class, and attended their 40th.
September 16, 2017:
Continuing the theme of Happy Cat Month, we want to welcome an adorable tiny tuxedo to the Fan Club. Mr. Carl Perkins was adopted by Eric Coates, Artistic Director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company, who named the kitten after the late, great rockabilly songwriter. Simon Teakettle has supported GCTC for more than 40 years. Simon III (Terzo) was a classic tuxedo, and I'm what's known as a Blue Smoke Tuxedo.
Below, you'll see Carl on the left, who has the typical tuxedo white paws and belly, but no white on his face or back. Terzo, on the right, has much more white, on his forepaws and his face.
September 8, 2017:
This is Happy Cat Month, so we're sharing a couple
of new photos we received from our cat pals.
September 2, 2017:
I keep hearing that it's Labor Day, but like most holidays, I have no idea what that means. The only holidays I understand are Hallowe'en, because the kids from across the street come over, all dressed up, and Bobbi gives them candy.
And of course I love Christmas, because I get new toys in my stocking, and sometimes in packages friends deliver. My favorite toys are still the two green round things with balls inside. I got the big one for Christmas last year, and the smaller one for my birthday in February. But I love them both!
August 26, 2017:
Did you react to the eclipse last Monday? It was clear in the Ottawa area, but I wasn't aware of any shadow of even partial darkness, so slept right through the event, although Bobbi watched it on TV.
This is Homeless Animal Week, and since I fell into that unfortunate category just a few years ago, before I was taken in by a family and turned over to a local shelter, I have a soft spot for all those cats and kittens who don't have loving homes.
One of the members of our MEWSical Society, the famous Acro-Cats, takes in orphaned kittens and trains them to join the troupe of performers! Buffy and Sookie were found abandoned under different porches in Samantha's hometown of Princeton, Illinois. They were both just three weeks old, so had to be bottle-fed.
Since they were raised and trained together, it's natural that they became best buddies.
Buffy's greatest talent lies in ball balancing.
Sookie is known for playing chimes. Both cats are recognized for
their focus on the task at hand and professionalism on stage,
although Sookie has been spotted taking an impromptu audience look-see
during a purr-formance every once in a while.
August 19, 2017:
Next Tuesday is Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, so I'm repeating some of the post I wrote after my annual wellness check-up last month.
I don't usually go outside, so was a bit apprehensive when she put me into my stroller. But I soon settled down and when we arrived, I remembered the location and settled into my favorite spot on the examining table: the scale! The vet was pleased with how healthy I am, how I let Bobbi clean my ears, clip my claws, and brush my teeth, but said I gained weight since last year, so should eat a bit less.
It's really important to take a cat to the vet once a year for a check-up. Too many humans seem to think that if a cat stays indoors, and doesn't need flea treatment or vaccines, they also don't need to see a vet regularly. But it's good to know that everything checks out okay!
Here I am letting Bobbi brush my teeth, and sharing both of my toothbrushes with Little Purple Mouse and Baby Hamster:
August 12, 2017:
The Simon Teakettle logo is an all-black cat, because the first Simon Teakettle was totally black, without even a tiny spot of white on his fur. The second Simon, called Simon the Younger and nicknamed Tiki, had a tiny white locket. And the third Simon, Terzo, was a tuxedo.
So I'm the first spokescat for the company who isn't black! I may look grey and white, but experts in cat coloring tell us that I'm "blue and cream." One of the charts Bobbi consulted said that I could be a Blue Smoke Tuxedo, which looks like a tuxedo but with grey rather that black fur, and a lot of white on the belly, paws and face. That certainly describes me, don't you think?
My eyes are green, one of the most common cat eye colors. Check our Cat Facts page for detailed info about cat breeds and colors.
We're thinking about this because next week is Black Cat Week. We'll be thinking about my wonderful predessors. I think they would be proud of how I've carried on representing the company, and have grown the Fan Club!
August 5, 2017:
August 8 is World Cat Day. My friend, Sunny, one of two kittens adopted a year ago by poet Sylvia Adams, will celebrate, as she does every day, by stretching out, full length, across Sylvia's bed. Her littermate, Sylphie, prefers the top of the bookcase.
I prefer the living room couch, where I was demonstrating tooth-brushing techniques to my purple mouse and the baby hamster who usually share that napping spot with me.
I love both of them dearly, frequently playing with them during the night, and often cuddling or washing the hamster.
July 29, 2017:
Cats observe everything, and get to know the daily routines of everyone around them.
I know, for example, that when Bobbi goes into the bathroom and puts stuff on her face, it means she's going out. If she tunes the radio to the station where a lot of people talk all the time, I know she'll only be gone a short time.
But if she puts on the station with lots of music, it means she won't be home for supper.
CBC radio is where the first Simon Teakettle began his career. You can read all about that on his page. Then, when Simon Teakettle II (Tiki) arrived, he moved on to co-authoring MEWSings/Musings, promoting that by appearing on Animal Planet as well as in many magazines.
We're still in touch with David Lennick, the host of the CBC program who first put Simon on the air. He and Bobbi only met once, when the program ended, but they had a delightful reunion in 2011, when Bobbi was attending a wedding close to where David and his wife live.
July 22, 2017:
We love parrots at Simon Teakettle Ink. It was a parrot, Mrs. Doyle, who inspired the forming of the Fan Club. She was born the same week as Terzo, and when Terzo and his pal, Jazz, decided to form a virtual musical combo, Jazz offered to play the piano, Terzo already loved Bobbi's collection of percussion instruments, and they invited Mrs. Doyle to be "the girl singer."
But Mrs. Doyle refused to sing! She does talk - a lot - and likes to drum on her water dish, but there was nobody to carry the melody! A bunch of feline friends soon offered to help, and the MEWSical Society was formed.
After Bobbi decided it should be limited at 33 cats (and a parrot), from nine countries, other cats clamored to join. Then dogs and other parrots wanted in, and so the Fan Club was born.
Our latest parrot is Crackers, who adds Jamaica to our list of Fan Club countries.
July 15, 2017:
Bobbi has an old friend, Mark Kearney, who lives in London, Ontario, but whose writing partner, Randy Ray, lives in Ottawa. Mark is a contributor to Prose to Go, and Randy and Bobbi have presented workshops together.
They're The Trivia Guys, who have just produced their 10th book, containing conversations with Canada's folk, pop and rock pioneers.
Mark and his wife have just returned from Poland where they were touring with their concert band. Mark is a prof at Western University as well as a writer, but playing music is his hobby.
He managed to add both another country to the Fan Club, as well as two more species, a jackdaw and pigeons.
July 8, 2017:
Bobbi took me for my annual "wellness check" at the vet this week. I don't usually go outside, so was a bit apprehensive when she put me into my stroller. But I soon settled down and when we arrived, I remembered the location and settled into my favorite spot on the examining table: the scale! The vet was pleased with how healthy I am, how I let Bobbi clean my ears, clip my claws, and brush my teeth, but said I gained weight since last year, so should eat a bit less.
It's really important to take a cat to the vet once a year for a check-up. Too many humans seem to think that if a cat stays indoors, and doesn't need flea treatment or vaccines, they also don't need to see a vet regularly. But it's good to know that everything checks out okay!
As a reward for being such a Good Kitty, Bobbi gave me a little cat purse, which I really like. I wanted to put some treats inside, but she wouldn't allow that.
July 1, 2017:
Happy Canada Day! We celebrate both the Canadian and American holidays this long weekend, because I was born in Canada (and Bobbi has lived here for 50 years) but she's an American citizen and I have lots of American cousins.
There are many dogs: Rocky & Balboa Russo in Florida, Raina & Symphony Russo in South Carolina, Beau Buchanan in Alabama, Pippa Luby in Connecticut, and Nell Florio in Montana. Griffin Jones lives in Hong Kong, but will be moving to New York soon.
Then there are my special cat cousins: Pumpkin Grava in Chicago, as well as Milo Russo (and his outdoor pals) in Panama City, Florida.
Here I am in my red beads, preparing to watch Canadian festivities on Saturday, and A Capital Fourth on PBS Tuesday evening.
June 24, 2017:
This is the start of two weeks of celebration here. It begins with St. John Baptiste Day, celebrating the patron saint of Quebec, and then the entire country will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of confederation. Ottawa is already in full prep mode, with barricades ready to close off the downtown area to vehicles, and massive crowds expected on Parliament Hill and all the other venues where concerts and fireworks will take place.
We'll be watching on TV, and will hear the fireworks (although tall trees keep us from seeing any from the house). Meanwhile, we have a new routine with my two favorite toys. Bobbi keeps my red mouse were I can't reach it (unless I choose to be Very Naughty!) so we don't lose it under the couch. But she takes it out for me to hold and play with:
My other favorite toy is a soft hamster, the size of a newborn kitten. I've "adopted" this baby, and cuddle with it sometimes on the couch, but recently have been bringing it into the hall or the den during the night. Bobbi says Tiki used to do this with Bear.
June 17, 2017:
The third week of June is Take Your Pet to Work Week. Of course I spend some time every week in the office I share with Bobbi, supervising articles she writes, as well as writing this blog and keeping the website up to date. Today, for example, we just added an adorable family of Canada geese, which Steve Pitt was able to capture with his camera near his home in Rutherglen, Ontario. Steve's house is close to Lake Talon, and this family group seemed very much at home there.
Bobbi spent several days writing two full-page articles (1000 words each) for Freelance Writer's Report. The first one will appear in the July issue of this monthly newsletter that goes only to members of the Writers-Editors Network. Bobbi has been contributed to this newletter since the mid-1980s.
I've also begun to supervise another type of work Bobbi does. Every Wednesday evening, Paul Quesnel comes across the street for a piano lesson. I know all Paul's children, but this is my first chance to get to know Paul a bit better. Before, when he's been here, he worked on our computers. He played the piano as a child, but never learned theory or to read music, so he's starting with the basics.
Because of this, I may just learn to play the piano, too! Haven't tried that yet, but I may just jump on the piano bench when Bobbi is gone to see if I've learned anything as I observe the lessons.
June 10, 2017:
I couldn't resist sharing this wonderful story from the New York Times about how many of its foreign correspondents have adopted local street cats.
Michael Slackman, The Timess international editor, took on two Egyptian strays during a five-year stint as bureau chief in Cairo: Yodarella and Spunky.
"Jack Healy, a correspondent in Baghdad from 2010 to 2012, repatriated to a post in Denver with an Iraqi feral, Malicki, in tow. And Walt Baranger, who circled the globe many times over as a news technology editor for The Times, returned from helping establish a bureau in Kabul in 2001 with a stray named Purdah.
"To date, Dionne Searcey, the West Africa bureau chief, has adopted two cats: Muus (which means cat in Wolof, the lingua franca in Senegal) and Spotty/Dotty. Muus spends his days roaming the top of the walls that enclose the bureau, gingerly navigating the broken glass, set into mortar, thats meant to deter would-be intruders. Mostly theyre here to help our three kids feel comfortable, said Ms. Searcey, who described the streets in Dakar as littered with strays. But adopting the cats has also, in part, been a response to a nagging sense of powerlessness, she said. At least I can make one little difference for a street cat.
June 3, 2017:
We just added three more bird species to the Fan Club, thanks to Steve Pitt. He snapped a bald eagle in flight, a flock of chimney sweeps, and a sharpskinned hawk sitting calmly near the bird feeder, waiting for Steve to fill it with seed.
We also added a tiny baby groundhog named Griffin, after the town in Georgia where the Acro-Cats are relocating. He will start training and join the troupe soon.
Prolific award-winning author Clea Simon has just released her latest mystery featuring cats who assist female private investigators. As Dark As My Fur pairs Blackie, who is pictured on the cover, with novice sleuth Care. We have the full description on our Favorite Cat Books page.
Did you know that this is Pet Appreciation Week?
May 27, 2017:
In Dublin, Ireland, the Just Cats Veterinary Clinic & Cattery has posted a job for a Cat Cuddler. This paying position calls for the employee to help calm felines and their owners to make the visit to the vet more pleasant for everyone.
The word for kitten in many different languages was recently posted on FlipBoard. Among these are Hirra (Arabic), Yavru kedi (Turkish), and Kassipoeg (Estonian).
Iceland, where they call kittens Kettlingur, has a live web show called Keeping Up With The Kattarshians which follows the day-to-day lives of four rescue kittens, Guoni, Stubbur, Briet and Ronja. The show was made to promote cat adoption and is funded by the Icelandic Cat Protection Society. The kittens live in a large dollhouse with lots of cameras so viewers can watch 24 hours a day.
May 20, 2017:
Bobbi has been trying to teach me how to play Scrabble. She set up the board with our company name, the title of our book, and my name, but my little red mouse interfered!
May 13, 2017:
It's Mother's Day on Sunday, and Monday, May 15, is Hug Your Cat Day. Actually, many cats and dogs don't like to be hugged, and often don't enjoy being picked up. What we want is to come to you on our own terms, sit on your lap or cuddle up beside you, and accept your patting and scratching.
But Bobbi has taught me a different form of affection. This is a head-butt I give her when she asks for a "kiss." Then I give her my left paw, followed by my right paw, after which I usually get a treat. Although sometimes, I have to touch a toy or a pen with each paw first!
Humans vary in the kind of affection they prefer, too. All six members of the family who live across the street from us greet Bobbi with a hug, as do several other close friends. I also expect to be acknowledged and petting when someone comes into the house.
Don, our terrific handyman, always comes to find me (if I'm not already waiting for him by the door) to give me a long tummy-rub. I sometimes follow him around as he's working, but retreat to my bed in the corner of the office when he gets out the vacuum!
Here I am, curled up in my bed, and, on the right, playing with my favorite new toy.
May 6, 2017:
We'll be watching the Kentucky Derby this afternoon, although we won't be placing any bets. I just love all animals, which is why I enjoy adding new species to my Fan Club.
In addition to all types of cats, Bobbi particularly loves giraffes and elephants. They were one of the main reasons why she always enjoyed going to the circus. So it's sad to mark the passing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
A few interesting tidbits. Stephen Colbert just revealed that in the basement of the Ed Sullivan Theatre, where his Late Show originates, has huge pillars under the stage called "the elephant columns." They were added to support the stage when Ed Sullivan had circus elephants perform for his show!
The Circus Kings is an autobiography of Henry Ringling North with the assistance of popular biographer Alden Hatch, whom Bobbi knew when she lived in New York. The book offers a fascinating behind the scenes look at The Greatest Show on Earth.
April 29, 2017:
We don't always mention special days, although we certainly support Earth Day and others that grab news attention. But there are a few that are Really Important. One is Shakespeare's birthday (April 23) because Bobbi has strong connections to the Bard. Check out the Florio page, and also Bobbi's mentoring client whose book, To Pluck a Crow, is about Shakespeare.
Of course we have to celebrate Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, which occurs this weekend. I still remember my time in a cage at the animal shelter before Bobbi found me, but even more, the months I spent outdoors, as a stray. I love looking out the window, but have no desire to venture outside. Been there; done that!
April 22, 2017:
Bobbi loves to collect interesting facts of all kinds, but especially about cats. For example, she recently found out that in 2013 Monopoly fans from more than 120 countries voted to add a cat token to the game. It replaced the iron. It was the first time that fans have had a say on which of the eight tokens to add and which one to eliminate.
It seems that cats prefer one paw over the other, with most male cats favoring their left paw, and most female cats, the right. But I always use extend my left paw first when touching something, and that's the one I life first when asked to give my paw.
And the mayor of the capital of Latvia shares his office with three cats, named Dumka, Kuzju, and Muri.
Then there's this clever ad claiming a conspiracy among cat owners who sell their cat's poop for profit: http://tinyurl.com/m855e2n.
April 15, 2017:
It's Easter weekend, but many of our friends are also celebrating Passover, and April is also National Poetry Month. Simon Teakettle II (Tiki) was the poet in the family, and several of his poem are in Mewsings/Musings, including the popular Bye, Bye Office, which chronicles his bad habit of jumping on the desk and sitting on top of the printer.
Last week, our pal June Coxon gave Bobbi a charming little book she brought back from B.C. I Could Pee On This, Too, is the second volume in a series of poems by Very Naughty Cats, who sleep in laundry baskets, knock things off counters, and plan to take over the world! There's an entire section called Our Rules, which begins with the statement: The first eight years are for practice; the ninth is for revenge.
We're going to write to the author, Francesco Marciuliano, who writes the syndicated comic strip, Sally Forth, and has written for many magazines and other media. He may live with a cat who will join our Fan Club.
April 8, 2017:
Last year Bobbi got me to pose with bunny ears for
Easter (see my page for those embarrassing
photos) but this year I convinced her to feature these cute magnets
showing cats wearing Easter hats. And since it's spring, here's my balloon!
April 1, 2017:
We don't celebrate April Fool's Day in this household, because I think it's a Really Stupid Idea, and so does Bobbi. Instead, we're spending our time waiting for spring, hoping to see more birds at the feeder in the front, and more squirrels scampering up and down the maple tree in the back.
Our pal, Steve Pitt, who contributes to many wonderful photos to our Fan Club, lures chickadees with peanuts, which they eat of his hand. He thinks they ought to have been named Canada's official bird. He writes: "They land, pause, look you in the eye and cock their heads as if they feel at least obliged to make small talk in return for a free lunch. Then, when the conversation is clearly stalling, they politely pick up their peanut and gently fly off with no sense of worry or haste."
There are also many red squirrels on Steve's
property facing Lake Talon in Rutherglen, Ontario. The Latin name for
squirrel is sciurus, borrowed from the Greek word skiouros,
meaning "critter living in the shadow of its tail."
March 25, 2017:
Animal Planet recently ran the segment of Cats 101 which included our pal, Steve Dale, talking about how to select, handle and socialize kittens. I watched from Bobbi's lap, fascinated to see all these squirming fur balls, noticing that they had some of the same toys that are my favorites.
Bobbi and Tiki were on a segment of the Canadian
version of Animal Planet in 2002.
In 2007, when Bobbi was in Chicago to attend a Latin School reunion, she appeared on Steve's Sunday night radio show, talking about the challenge of raising a feral cat.
March 17, 2017:
People keep wishing us Happy St. Patrick's Day, although I have no idea why. There seems to be a Day for just about everything, and I only pay attention to the ones that celebrate cats.
However, Easter is coming, and I decided to inspect this little pink bird to see if it belongs with our Easter decorations. I've also asked Bobbi to put a series of photos of me grabbing and catching my favorite red mouse on my page.
March 11, 2017:
March is a strange month. Spring is supposed to be on its way, but we're still having nights that are way below zero, some freezing rain and the promise of more snow.
Yet there is this odd tradition of changing the clocks! I don't understand what this means, because as a cat I have my own innate sense of time, but I do know Bobbi is very annoyed that she has to change clocks and timers all over the house.
We're jealous of friends who escaped some of this year's awful winter in the south. Bobbi's friend, Lorri, sent us photos of cats from Cuba, where she, her husband, and her son, Zach (who is my special pal) had a great vacation. The resort where they stayed had a colony of cats who hung around the dining room at mealtimes to beg for handouts.
I wonder if they have to sit, as I do, before someone feeds them? Not only do I have to perform tricks for treats, but I have to sit beside my tray before Bobbi will put my wet food dish down, or fill the dry food.
March 4, 2017:
It's been reported that once a cat reaches maturity, they sleep most of the time. But that's not my routine. I wake up with Bobbi in the morning, race around to check the view from all the windows while she has breakfast, then jump on her lap for my first treat of the day. I have to give her a "kiss" and then each paw in turn in order to earn that.
I then alternate playing with my toys with looking out different windows. Between 11 and 12 I remind Bobbi that it's time for my main meal of the day, a quarter of a can of Friskies pate. The rest of the day I munch on dry food (Performatrin Ultra and Iams Oral Care).
Of course I have a Big Bath after eating, then settle in for my first nap, often on the living room couch, where I sometimes cuddle up to my pal Princess. After a few hours, I play some more, go into the office to help Bobbi work on the website or articles she's writing.
Late in the afternoon, I sometimes curl up in my bed in the office, then have some playtime in the kitchen while Bobbi prepares her supper. After she has her coffee, we have some cuddle time in the den, I play a bit more, and beg for a few more treats.
I know when it's bedtime, and encourage her to shut off the TV, put the iPad away, and get ready for bed. I climb in beside her, and stay for most of the night, although I usually get up several times to nibble on dry food, have a drink, and play with a few toys.
Check out my page to see more photos of me at work and at play.
February 25, 2017:
Our Fan Club continues to grow. We just added The Maldives to bring the total of countries to 39. Bobbi's grand-niece lives in Hong Kong, and she and her husband took photos of a skatefish close to shore, and some sharks at a safe distance!
Meanwhile, Bobbi's cousin, Tony Florio, sent us a beautiful grackle he photographed in Vermont. Tony retired as a Delaware Wildlife Section administrator with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, where he also contributed his art to calendars and the agency's magazine, and the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area was renamed in his honor last year.
February 18, 2017:
February 20th is National Cat Day, and there's been a lot of news recently about the proliferation of feline hotels and other special places dedicated to cats that are opening all over the world.
The second cat cafe has just opened in Ottawa. It will offer sandwiches, salads, soups and sweet treats, along with coffee and other beverages. Feline Cafe will have a separate room where cats up for adoption are free to roam. Owner Josee Cyr sees this as an ideal spot for anyone who can't own a cat, for some reason, as well as for those looking to add a feline to their household.
February 10, 2017:
I received my Very First Birthday Card sent Just to Me by a Elizabeth Atherton, a member of our MEWSical Society. She mailed it all the way from Edmonton, and Bobbi took a photo of me inspecting it.
Since we're also celebrating Valentine's Day next Tuesday, we're recycling a Valentine photo from last year.
February 3, 2017:
Happy Birthday to Me!
We're celebrating with my Brand New Instagram account. See many recent photos of Yours Truly, along with the cover of Mewsings.
Tomorrow we continue the celebrations because it's the second anniversary of my adoption from the Aylmer SPCA, where Bobbi found me after searching for several months for a new companion after losing Terzo.
I was just a year old, but learned very quickly that I was inheriting a Great Responsiblity. I had to take over this blog as well as the Fan Club.
I also took control of the Facebook Simon Teakettle page.
Bobbi says I already have Too Many Toys, so instead of presents she's giving me Lot of Petting and extra playtime this weekend.
January 27, 2017:
Today is Family Literacy Day in Canada. Last night Bobbi attended the Ottawa Independent Writers' meeting, where her close friend, Benoit Chartier, showed her a book he just purchased. It's a reprint of a 17th century encyclopedia of mythical Japanese spirits called Yokai. They manisfested themselves as supernatural monsters, demons and imps in Japanese folklore, some quite benign and mischievous. One described in the book is a cat, which supposedly, if it gets old enough, develops a forked tail, walks on its hind legs, and speaks.
While she was gone, I read an article in Lonely Planet about a wonderful cat village in Antalya, Turkey. Built by the founder of the Street Animals Protection Association, the village has 15 small cat houses and a number of bigger ones. Fifteen small cat houses and a number of bigger ones have different designs and varied colors, and there are benches, hammocks and playgrounds designed exclusively for approximately 100 street cats. The houses are heated, a natural spring provides fresh water, and the local village offers veterinary care.
January 21, 2017:
Now that the holidays are over, the next Big Thing in this household will be my 3rd birthday. Bobbi is having a hard time deciding what kind of present to give me, because it will be impossible to top the green tower with three balls inside, which I play with at least twice a day.
I had just turned one year old when Bobbi found me at the Aylmer SPCA, so I've only had one "real" birthday, and I don't even remember how we celebrated last year.
Since Bobbi's birthday is December 23rd, her birthday cards are still decorating the kitchen door. I'm hoping I'll receive enough cards to replace most of those.
Hint, hint! If you don't know our mailing address,
email Bobbi and she'll send it to you.
January 14, 2017:
Yesterday was Friday the 13th, but since Simon Teakettle's logo has always been a black cat, we aren't superstitious! Still, I thought we should acknowledge that there are only two times this year that that the 13th falls on a Friday. The next one isn't until October, just in time for the superstitious to prepare for Hallowe'en.
Don't know what the weather has been like in your part of the world, but we've had lots of snow, and severe enough cold to frost over the windows. That means Bobbi has been staying indoors, monopolizing the office computer, and I've had to use the iPad Mini.
When there are no birds and squirrels to watch outside, I play with my toys, including a neat game on the iPad that lets me chase a mouse across the screen. Here I am, playing that game, and also playing with the new red mouse I can actually catch!
January 7, 2017:
We always begin the new blog with a recap of the last two months of the year, in case you want to catch up.
The Big News this year is that we've finally
reached what we thought was
This fall he added many birds, including hummingbirds, a goshawk, and a Palm warbler, as well as an otter, loons, wood ducks, deer, and a wolf.
Helen Maris Russo lives in Panama City Beach, Florida, but they also have a home in Montana, close to Yellowstone, where Helen has photographed bighorn sheep, bison, elk, and a coyote, as well as goats, a very pregnant cow and geese on neighboring farms.
Fan Club members come from 37 countries on six continents, but we hope some of our friends who travel abroad will add more countries this year.
December 31, 2016:
My second Christmas in this house was absolutely wonderful! Bobbi gave me this neat new toy, which has three tiers with balls inside each one. Every time I play with it, I get so tired chasing the balls and running around the circle to see where they've gone, that I then have to take a nap.
December 24, 2016:
I was supposed to be a "domestic
shorthair," but my grey and white fur is actually
That requires some help from various brushes, which Bobbi faithfully employs every weekend. It's become a Sunday night ritual, which I love so much I've been known to find the long thin brush I like best and knock it on thte floor to remind her!
Last year, a close friend gave Bobbi a wonderful book for her birthday. Sylvia Adams, whose cat, Tulip, is a member of our MEWSical Society (and whose two kittens have joined the Fan Club), presented Bobbi with Crafting with Cat Hair.
So I've watched closely how she combs the hair out of the brushes and collects it in a plastic bag. There's quite a lot, and it's primarily grey, so I expect her to figure out how to make something lovely this winter. The book shows how to make a hat for your cat, but I don't like to wear hats, so I hope she makes a pin to wear when she goes out, she can take me with her!
December 17, 2016:
When the first Simon Teakettle became famous from
his comments sent to CBC
Bobbi stayed in touch with Art, although they never met, and you can see a few of his books promoted on this website, at http://SimonTeakettle.com/humor.htm.
December 10, 2016:
I'm getting excited about Christmas. There's a silver basket in the living room under the coffee table, where Bobbi puts Christmas cards as they arrive, and a big red stocking with lots of ribbons is on top. I think it's for me, but know I'm not supposed to explore it yet. I have touched the ribbons (very carefully!) but not when Bobbi's watching!
Bobbi is very strict about my not touching things
until she gives me permission. I finally figured out that it's okay
to take toys out of the baskets in the den, after she pointed out
that they belong to me. I love to be petted and called "Good
Girl," so I don't want to get
I did watch her put a tiny present into the
stocking when she came home Tuesday night,
Meanwhile, I'm helping her with Christmas cards. A few get delivered in person, but most of our friends receive a special holiday poster sent via email. This year, because Hannukah begins on Christmas Eve, and the The Prophet Muhammed's birthday is also this month, we're wishing everyone Season's Greetings.
December 3, 2016:
We just renewed my license with the City of Gatineau, which means I'll be receiving a new tag in a new color. The 2016 tag was light purple, which matches my special dressy collar Bobbi bought for me for Hallowe'en. It has tiny spiders, which are barely noticeable, so I think I can wear it at any time of year. Do you agree?
November 26, 2016:
We're approaching my second Christmas living in this wonderful house with Bobbi. It's so much fun to sit in the front windows and see the lights not just on our house and porch, but the colored lights along the roof of the house across the street. They added an extra circle of lights around the tree on their front lawn this year as well.
We had our first snow last week, and I had to check the windows in the back as well as in the front, to make sure it was falling in both places. It's one of those things I don't understand, although I'm doing my best to learn as much as I can by listening to the TV, and to conversations Bobbi has with people who visit us.
I'm more sociable than any of the cats who lived in this house before me. When we have visitors, I not only come out to greet them, but usually sit on the rug in the living room as they chat. One recent visitor was surprised that I don't fall asleep while people are here, but Bobbi pointed out that I enjoy listening to human voices.
Recent research reveals that dogs, cats, and many other animals understand more language that humans realize. So be careful what you say about us!
November 19, 2016:
Canada has just named the gray jay, or whiskey jack, as its National Bird. It was a surprise to many, who felt the loon or the Canada goose were more likely choices. But the experts who made the final decision pointed out that the gray jay is found all across Canada, doesn't go south in the winter, is friendly to humans, and is very smart. It's a distinct species (as is the bluejay), but both are members of the crow family, the most clever of all birds.
November 12, 2016:
Our Fan Club continues to
grow, and we just added a Japanese raccoon dog, a
Our aim is to reach 100 species from 40 countries in 2017.
November 3, 2016:
November is Pet Awareness Month, Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and National Senior Pet Month. In addition, Nov. 6-12 is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week. The reason for all these special occasions is to remind the public about the plight of animals who are either living outdoors as winter approaches, or waiting in shelter for adoption.
Many people go to shelters looking for kittens or puppies, but older animals need homes, too, and can be excellent choices for busy families or older singles who don't want the hassle of training a puppy or kitten.
At just a year old, I was not only litter-box trained and socialized, but had just been spayed and had all my shots. Still technically a kitten, I didn't pose any of the problems often seen in younger kittens: climbing drapes, jumping onto counters or tables, scratching furniture, or racing out of open doors.
My exceptional manners (which everybody notices!) are a result of Bobbi's careful training (see the top right of this page for a link to her article) as well as my realization that following her instructions would make me very happy. Shelter cats are wise. We know we were in peril and are grateful to have been rescued. We repay our humans by coming when we're called, obeying their rules, and lavishing them with affection.
2017, Simon Teakettle Ink
WE SUPPORT SELECTED CHARITIES
& RESCUE GROUPS, including: intsikelelo.org
Click on the The Animal Rescue Site to give food to an animal in a shelter.
Aragon, model and TV star
Lily Fry, reading the paper