Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cats and Boxes

“A cat determined not to be found can fold itself up like a pocket handkerchief if it wants to.”
- Louis J. Camuti -

So, I didn’t finish the review of Yann Martel’s book ‘Life of Pi’, after all. I hope to have that post done next week.

Until then, here are some funny images to make you laugh. And in between, I’ve added reasons why cats are so obsessed with boxes. Not that I knew offhand. I didn’t. I had to look it up. And not that you really care. You probably don’t. But on the off chance that some of you do, well, here it is...

Enjoy!


Cats like the security of enclosed spaces, and because boxes resemble a cave, it provides them with that feeling, as well as with the comfort that they cannot be attacked from behind. (I’m not sure how this works with boxes that they just sit in.)


They are cozy, especially with a soft blanket on the bottom. And the sides of the box help retain the heat making it that much more appealing a space to sleep in.


They are fun! When you were a kid, didn’t you and your friends jump up and down with joy when you ran across a large box? Fortresses! Castles! Well, to a cat, it’s just as enjoyable. Aside from how much fun they have jumping in and out of them, boxes are also great places to hunt from because they can hide in them, crouch and then pounce when a person or other animal walks by. Or simply leap out and ambush the unsuspecting prey on the kitchen floor (a.k.a. catnip toy).


So those are a few reasons cats like boxes. But not all cats. Certainly not mine. Whenever I put out boxes, they shun them. Then they look at me with disdain and disgust, as if I’m a moron, incapable of comprehending that these offerings are beneath them. My cats sleep out in the open, sprawled out on the furniture or on the floor. Maybe they feel very trusting, and safe and secure, and not in need of a place to hide. I guess it’s a good thing. That they don’t need for a cave to sleep in. Not the way they look at me.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Books...Oh, How I Love Them

How many times have I mentioned that I love to read on this blog? Quite a few, I’m sure. But I can’t help it. I’m such an insatiable ‘bookaholic’ or ‘biblioholic’ - or whatever term is used to define an obsessive reader like me – that I can’t resist bringing it up. Again and again and again. Particularly after I’ve just finished reading a book that I really, really, really enjoyed. Which is what I did this weekend - finished a book that I really, really – and did I mention - really enjoyed.


This book not only reminded me once again why I love reading so much, but also stayed with me long after I was done with it. In fact, it’s not quite out of my system yet. I’m still thinking about it. And its message. And how I felt about the story as I went from chapter to chapter. And how I felt as I read its ending. And how I felt about the story – chapter to chapter - after I read that ending. Did I still see it the same way, or did I change my mind now that I’d gotten to the ending? It was quite a philosophical and introspective weekend this weekend of mine. All that because of a book. But not just any book. A book that I really, really – and dare I mention once more - really enjoyed.


And which book was it that got me into this meditative mood, you ask? One that many of you have heard of, and possibly read: Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Some of you may have even seen the movie that was based on this incredible novel. I have not. But I’d like to. Especially now that I’m done reading the book that I really, really, really enjoyed, and would love to see the characters in this story come to life. Although, I’m thinking I should maybe wait for the rest of the family to catch up before we watch the film since I am recommending that they read it. My daughter shrugged. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m thinking she won’t get to it any time soon. So I’m not going to wait for her to read it. Hubby, on the other hand, said to put in on his night table, which is his way of saying that he will absolutely read it. I’ll wait for him. Then we’ll watch the movie.


I will write more about this story fairly soon, and share my thoughts and feelings about it. I’m hoping to have that post up tomorrow, but if it’s not ready, it will have to wait. Until next week. Or the week after. Or whenever I’m able to finish it. No rush on book reviews anymore. As some of my regular visitors know, throughout 2012 I ran a weekly theme post called ‘Book It’ in which I featured a review of a book I’ve read. But like many other themes that seemed like a good idea when I started them, it’s proving difficult to keep up with. So, instead of reviewing a book weekly and getting stressed over trying to meet the deadline, I will do it whenever I get a chance. And particularly when I recall a  great book I’ve read, or when I’ve just finished reading one I really enjoyed. Like Life of Pi.

Coming soon...


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Today's Trivia - Becoming One With A Comic Book

Mark Guenwald was an American comic book writer, editor, and occasional penciler known for his long association with Marvel Comics. His life was cut short at the young age of 43 when he suffered a fatal heart attack.

In his will he specified that he wished to be cremated and that his ashes be mixed into the ink used in one of Marvel’s titles. It took his wife, Catherine, some time to convince the comic book publisher to do it, but the company finally obliged. His ashes were mixed with the ink used to print the first-run trade paperback compilation of ‘Squadron Supreme’.

Gruenwald’s widow wrote in the forward to the comic book:

“He remained true to his passion for comics, as he has truly become one with the story and blended himself in the very fiber of the book.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Love Of Walking

I read a really great post about ‘house walking’ by Fundy Blue over at another favourite blog: Standing Into Danger. In it she mentioned walking around your home when the weather doesn’t permit you to do it outside; something that is typical during a Canadian winter. After all, it takes only a few minutes for exposed skin to become frostbitten if the temperature is below -7°C (20°F), which is a temperature that most of us up here in the Great White North don’t even consider that cold. Crazy Hardy bunch that we are.
 
 
In any case, let’s just say that there are days where taking a lovely stroll outside isn’t really an option. And for someone like me who loves to walk, this can be quite frustrating. So alternatives are a must. Like walking around the house. Or finding a suitable location indoors. A mall. A department store. Whatever. And walking around. Back and forth. Up and down the stairs. From room to room, or store to store. Anything that will have me moving. Exercising my legs. Body. Even mind.
 

My passion for walking has been a part of me my whole life. It’s something that I shared, possibly inherited, from my father. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who enjoyed walking as much as he did. And he did it daily. Miles and miles worth. In his entire lifetime, it’s possible that he circled the earth a few times. In fact, it’s probably likely. And it showed. He was physically strong. His legs were muscular; more so than mine have ever been. Or ever will be. Even at 77, the age he passed away, he had rock hard calves. Whenever we walked together, despite the fact that he was 36 years older than me, there were times that I struggled to keep up with his swift pace. And he’d lovingly tease me about it, of course.


My father was the one that introduced the love of walking to me. When I was two. My mother thought I might be too young for extensive walks. But not my father. According to him, as long as I was able to keep my balance and move forward, I was ready to tag along with him on some of his beloved strolls. Turned out he was right. He took me along, now and then, and we walked for blocks, side by side. I never tired during any of these gratifying journeys we shared, and not once did I ask to be picked up and carried along. I was determined. And his heart swelled with pride.


We shared many moments like that during my childhood, my father and I. Moments that I cherish. Moments that come to mind when I’m out strolling along. Walking is something that I associate with my father and my childhood; simple, beautiful times we spent together. Whenever I think about those precious periods we shared, which occurred many times throughout my early years, it always puts a smile on my face.

What I wouldn’t give for just one more stroll with him...


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Single Photograph

“How can we hold onto those fleeting moments in our lives? Hold onto the moments that otherwise evaporate into the forgotten past? Or moments that become faded and morphed into our own version of reality as they sit in the corners of our memories, losing their truth and shifting focus? The only way to hold onto these moments and share them for years to come, in all their beauty and truth and glorious imperfections, without losing accuracy is through a photograph.” - Rosanne Moreland –
 
Thank you for posing for my camera, little friend.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Silliness

Time to laugh!


Why Did You Have To Die?

A man placed some flowers on the grave of his dearly departed mother and started back toward his car when his attention was diverted to another man kneeling at a grave. The man seemed to be praying with profound intensity and kept repeating, “Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die?” The first man approached him and said, “Sir, I don’t wish to interfere with your private grief, but this demonstration of pain is more than I’ve ever seen before. For whom do you mourn so deeply? A child? A parent?” The mourner took a moment to collect himself, then replied, “My wife’s first husband.”







Saturday Silliness

Time to laugh!


Why Did You Have To Die?

A man placed some flowers on the grave of his dearly departed mother and started back toward his car when his attention was diverted to another man kneeling at a grave. The man seemed to be praying with profound intensity and kept repeating, “Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die?” The first man approached him and said, “Sir, I don’t wish to interfere with your private grief, but this demonstration of pain is more than I’ve ever seen before. For whom do you mourn so deeply? A child? A parent?” The mourner took a moment to collect himself, then replied, “My wife’s first husband.”







Friday, January 25, 2013

Sunny Side Up

“I put down my book, The Meaning of Zen, and see the cat smiling into her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. ‘Cat, I would lend you this book to study but it appears you have already read it.’ She looks up and gives me her full gaze. ‘Don't be ridiculous,’ she purrs, ‘I wrote it.’"
- Dilys Laing "Miao" -

This week’s end of the week smile is the hilarious image below. I think Debra of ‘She Who Seeks’ will really appreciate it since she seems to share my love for Grumpy Cat.



Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cats On The Internet

I ran across an article the other day about a man who was paying a Chinese firm about $50,000 a year to do his work so he could spend the day surfing the web, updating his Facebook page and watching videos of cats. I wondered how in the world he was able to pay so much money to hire people to do his job until I read that he had an annual salary of  over $250,000. Oh. That would certainly do it.

Yes, I was tempted to correct the spelling!
And then I thought about all the cat entertainment in cyberspace. I mean, these furballs are really in the spotlight these days. Their time has certainly come. There are videos of hilariously entertaining cat antics all over the place, and people are flocking to them. Laughing over them. Sharing them. Including me.

From left to right: Henri, Le Chat Noir, Grumpy Cat, Lil Bub

There are cats with character. Cats that are highly entertaining. Or talented. Cats with a unique look or quirky disposition. And some of these engaging cats are so popular that their owners are profiting from that celebrity status.

And then there are my cats...


These images were taken about 2 years ago, but they may as well have been taken today since things haven't changed much since then. If anything, these lazy cats are sleeping more.


Yup, that’s pretty much all they do for most of the day.


So.

I don’t think they’ll be in the spotlight any time soon.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Matter Of Trust

“It is an equal failing to trust everybody, and to trust nobody.”
- English Proverb -

Ever had someone you hardly know ask you “Don’t you trust me?” And expect you to answer “Of course I do...” Well, in my younger years, it wasn’t unheard of for me to respond that way. Why did I do it? Because I was overly polite, extremely na├»ve, very inexperienced and often intimidated.


As I got older, more experienced and, from time to time, disillusioned by betrayal and disappointment, I grew wiser, stronger, more confident and certainly more careful. And learned to effortlessly and very directly answer “Well...no. No, I don’t trust you. Why would I when I barely know you?”


I mean, seriously, isn’t that the most ridiculous thing? That someone would expect you to trust them just like that? Simply because they demand it?


Trust is not a right. It is a privilege. A gift. Something that is earned over time. Sometimes over a long period of time. And maybe earned isn’t even the right way to define it. Perhaps we should think of it as something that we grant to others, individuals that we feel safe and secure with.


I don’t believe we should live our lives being suspicious of everyone around us, but I do think that letting down our guard completely, handing out our trust readily to just anyone and making ourselves vulnerable to everybody is reckless. And can, in a worst case scenario, prove dangerous.


So I do not hand out trust like candy, particularly to individuals that insist on it. Over time, and as I get to know someone more personally, I decide whether to ‘grant’ them my trust. Or not. And whether to keep on trusting them. Or not. Ultimately, the decision is mine. To grant. Or to retract.


What about you? Do you trust people easily?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today's Trivia - Curses On The Set: The Twilight Zone

Movies aren’t easy to make, but some films have had more than their fair share of problems. Take, for example, ‘The Twilight Zone’. The film became somewhat of a twilight zone after all the misfortune on the set. During the filming of a segment of this 1983 movie, actor Vic Morrow (53) and child actors Myca Dinh Le (7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (6) died while the movie was being filmed. The helicopter being used on the set was flying too low to avoid the explosions of the pyrotechnics used on set.
The blasts severed the tail rotor, the aircraft spun out of control, decapitating Morrow and Le with its blades, and crushing Chen to death when it crashed. People inside the helicopter also sustained minor injuries.

The accident led to legal action against the filmmakers which lasted nearly a decade, and changed the regulations involving children working on movie sets at night and during special effects-heavy scenes. The incident also ended the friendship between director Landis and producer Spielberg, who was already angered before the accident that Landis had violated many codes, including using live ammunition on the set. (source)

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Visit To Boldt Castle

At the end of September 2012, hubby and I decided to cross the border into New York to finally see what all the hoopla was about in regards to Boldt Castle, a major landmark and tourist attraction in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River.


First, let me give you a quick rundown:

The construction of Boldt Castle began in 1900 at the bidding of George Boldt, a self-made millionaire and hotel magnate. This enormous, six-story, 60,000 square foot, 120-room castle was intended as a gift to Boldt’s wife, Louise, but when she died suddenly in 1904, all construction was immediately stopped. The abandoned property was vacant for over seventy years, exposed to the harsh winter weather and to occasional vandalism. The Thousand Island Bridge Authority acquired the island the castles sits on and has been diligently restoring the property ever since. It is now a major summer tourist attraction.

That’s the story in a nutshell. Let’s move on to the images...

Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island, which is situated along the northern border of New York State. It is only accessible by water from both Canada and the U.S, and because it’s only a few minutes ride over from there, no more than ten minutes, we decided to head over to the U.S side and board the shuttle from Alexandria Bay.

I can't wait to start snapping photos!

As soon as the shuttle started to move...well...you know it...I whipped out my handy dandy camera, turned it on and started snapping away joyfully. I have to say that the castle is imposing enough from a distance, but as you get closer, the magnitude of it really hits you.

OHMYGOD...

One of the first things you’ll notice on this property is the superbly-maintained grounds. According to the castle’s website, there are over 10,000 annual flowers planted each year. We visited late in the season, but despite that, the gardening was still breathtaking.




Even the bees think so...



There is a beautiful gazebo located on the grounds, which is a popular wedding site. There was actually a wedding ceremony getting started when we arrived.



Once you’re on the grounds, you can’t quite grasp that there are people that actually live in houses like this. Boldt Castle is so large that my camera couldn’t take in the whole thing in one image no matter how far back I stood.




This is the “Hennery,” or Dove-Cote. It was the first structure built on the island, and the first of many towers that were to rise on this island and others nearby.




You will notice that towers on this magnificent place are a common theme.




Modeled after Roman monuments, the ‘Entry Arch’ was originally intended to be the formal entryway to Heart Island from the St. Lawrence River.


The top is adorned with three large bronze stags.



The Alster Tower, often referred to as the ‘playhouse’, was intended for the entertainment of guests and for the Boldt children. Unlike the main residence, which was never completed, this was completed and occupied by the Boldt family during the four years when the Castle was being erected.




The Powerhouse below was intended to house coal fired steam generators to provide electricity to the island. Inside you'll find displays and photographs, and its steam engine generator, typical of the type that would have been used to provide power and illumination for the island estate. While walking around in there, I said to my husband “People actually live this extravagantly while others die of starvation. The contrast is astonishing.” To which he added jokingly “...and that’s how Marie Antoinette lost her head...” (My husband and his black humour)




There is a basement/cellear in the castle, but because there isn’t much to see, I only photographed the route to it. While we were down there, though, there were two women standing close to us. One said “What do you suppose they kept down here?” and the other answered “Slaves.” [snort]

On our way to the dungeon...

Finally, this is the Boldt Yacht House, located on nearby Wellesley Island. It was built to house the family's three yachts and houseboat. It now serves as a museum, and is open to the public for an additional fee. We didn’t visit it this time, but perhaps we will in the future.



I did take images of the interior of Boldt Castle, but not that many. We’re planning to visit again in the future, and I hope to snap more photographs that I can share with all of you.  The castle is continuously being renovated, so there’s always something new to see.

This was a very interesting trip, and I must say that I have never seen anything quite like this. The question that kept popping inside my head was “Does anyone really need this much?” This type of extravagance is simply mind-blowing. And somewhat disturbing.