Memories of the conversations with my cat – 51

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester. Our standoff continues.

I can tell he’s not happy because when he’s going down the passage and I’m going in the opposite direction, he changes sides.

Instead of coming over to see what food he’s getting, he waits in another room. That is fine by me because it takes a little longer to find out he’s not in an eating mood.

And come to think of it, he no longer climbs up on the table when we’re having fish. I’ve told him more than once that eating off someone else’s plate is just not good manners.

Perhaps I should not be so concerned he’s not talking to me, because he’s almost become the cat I’ve always wanted.

What’s that expression, cut your nose off to spite your face.

But, it isn’t going to last. This morning when I go down to the library, which is just a fancy name for my writing room, he’s sitting on top of my closed laptop.

I never used to close it but the last time I cleaned it I found cat hair, an allegation he vehemently denied and tried to tell me it the dog we used to have.

I didn’t bother telling him the laptop is new, and the dog’s been gone for 12 years.

I ask him to move.

He yawns and makes himself more comfortable.

He still hasn’t realized that all I have to do is pick him up, and move him, which I do.

I sit down to start work, he jumps up on the table and gives me that ‘I dare you to do that again’ look, and I stare back with the ‘do you really want to do this’ look.

Fifteen minutes later…

In a word: Second

It would be very interesting if duelling was still allowed.  There are a few people I’d like to stand toe to toe with, take ten paces, then test my ability to shoot with an old style flint duelling pistol.

What’s this got to do with anything?

It’s where our word of the day comes in.  If I lose my nerve, or I know my opposite number is a better shot, my second would have to stand in my place.

It’s,  if anything, an older use of the word.

Of course, it mainly means, on one hand, coming second in a race or a competition, not exactly the place you really want to be, simply because no one really remembers who came second.

It plays host to a plethora of statements using second as part of the saying, such as,

Second rate, second hand, even if it had more than one owner, second best.

But then there’s a few more that mean something else like a second look, mainly because you didn’t trust your eyes, second nature, it’s been drilled into you (a rather painful idiom if it truly was) and second sight, though this might not necessarily be a verifiable attribute.

And, of lesser note, I’m not necessarily sure I’m second to none.

On the other hand, and pardon the pun using this definition, it also describes a length of time, very short in fact, and it takes 60 of them to make a minute.

Hang on, it’ll only take a second.  Yes, we often use the word in vain.  I doubt there is any one of us who could do anything useful in a second.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 50

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester.  He knows it’s time to visit the vet.

And we have the same problem every month.  Any other time he would be in one of three places, at the back door, watching the birds on the fence, in his basket contemplating whether to check out the mice situation or sitting at the front door hoping some kind person will take him away and give him a better life.

But, come vet day, he’s nowhere to be seen.  Or heard.  I suspect he hears the sound of the pet carrier.  Certainly, the moment he sees it, if he is anywhere near, he runs.

Odd that, because he has one of those bell neckbands that alerts us, and the birds, if we ever let him out.  Today, in fact now that I think about it, it is not to be heard.

Has he managed to figure out a way to walk without it making a sound?

So, it’s time to mount a search.  WE have to be going if we’re going to make the appointment on time.

He has six favourite hiding spots, one in a cupboard in the spare bedroom.  It took a while to discover this one, and the discovery he could open the sliding door with his paw.  What was hard to understand; he could close it too.

Today, he’s not there.

Under and one of three beds, all very low, and very hard for us to get down to see.  And dark, needing a torch.  Woe betide us if it is in the middle, just beyond our reach.

No, not hiding under the beds, but we do find one of his toy mice, destroyed.

Nor is he hiding under the lounge room table, a new spot since we put an overflowing table cloth on it, making it look like a tent.

Almost at the end of my tether, I hear a bell.

There he is, sitting on the end of the bed, a grin if it could be called that on his face.

Where have you been, we have to get going or we’ll be late, he says.

Yes, and all I have to do is get you in the carrier.

Oh.

He realizes his fatal mistake and tries to run.

One day he’s going to make this easier for me.

In a word: Right

Am I right?  Or is that correct?

In the moral sense, or in answering a question?

Do I have a right to …

As an entitlement?

Maybe

But right means generally to be correct, but the word itself can be used, like many others in a variety of ways

Such as, do we have any rights any more, since the government is slowly shutting down our freedoms, and, you guessed it, rights.

What about a right angle, we know this as being an angle of 90 degrees

How about I right a wrong, returning a bad situation to a good one?

Are you left-handed or right-handed?

Are you one of those people who can’t tell their left from their right?

And who was it that decided what was your left or your right, ever thought about that?  I didn’t until just now.  Good luck finding an answer on Google.

And how many times have you wished you were in the right place at the right time???

Then, of course, if English is a second language, how about confusing right with write.

Means something quite different, doesn’t it?

How about rite?  Yes, I guess if we were in the habit of chopping chicken heads off and dancing around a fire, that might be its meaning,

But…

It too has a lot of different meanings

Are you confused yet?

Searching for locations: Vancouver, Canada – again

It’s always a given that whatever city you stay in unless it’s overnight, you go on a tour and see the sights.

Even when you’re staying a short distance from the city, you may go to the effort of catching a train or bus, then get on the hop on hop off tour.  There’s always one in just about every city you visit.

Vancouver was no exception.

Except…

We arrived in the rain, went to sleep while the rain came down, woke up to the rain, and a heavy dose of jet lag, or perhaps it was more than we had spent 24 and a half hours traveling from Brisbane to Vancouver vis Shanghai.

We had an excellent view out the window of our room looking towards the shopping mall, and the steady fall of rain.

 I felt sorry watching the construction workers on the building site that was the main vista we had to look at.

It could have been worst.  Endless mountains with snow on them.

What to do.  Venture out in the rain and go on the tour, on pop over to the shopping mall and pick up a few boxing day bargains, no, sorry, boxing week bargains.

We have had some experience going on ha op on hop off tours in open-top buses in the rain.  And the last time was not a pleasant experience, even though we learned a valuable lesson, not to stand in front of c as mons and yell ‘fire’.  Apparently, that’s how Admiral Nelson lost his arm.

But…

The shopping mall won.

We’d wait and see if the weather improved.  Hang on, isn’t Vancouver near Seattle, and doesn’t it rain the 300 days of the year?

Not holding my breath.

I feel sorry for the construction workers again.  Still raining, still cold, and still no reason to get out of bed.

Day 2 in Vancouver turned out to be the same as day 1.

Hang on, there’s a development.

We’re on the 16th floor and up at those lofty heights, we can see not only the rain but intermingled with it a few flakes of snow.

Whilst we procrastinate about what we’re going to do, the snowflakes increase into small flurries.

Yep, we’re off to the mall again and go for a walk in the snow.

On the way back we drop into the Boston Pizza, which has a sports bar and there you can sit, drink, eat, and watch the ice hockey, or whatever sort is going at the time.

Today it’s a junior ice hockey tournament, but Canada was not playing.  Just the same, a long cold beer and ice hockey?

I can now cross that off the bucket list.

Day 3, we’re going on a great rail journey, well, we are going to get the train to the city and collect the rental car, on the booking form, supposedly a Jeep Grand Cherokee or similar.

Of course, ‘or similar’ are the words to be feared here because in truth the rental company can throw anything at you, so long as it matches the brief, three people and three large suitcases.

And, you guessed it…

The ‘or similar’ got us a Fort Flex

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 49

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester. We are at the delicate stage of peace negotiations.

The ceasefire has been rocky, to say the least.

Blame is being thrown about like confetti at a wedding.

And to top it off, it’s Friday the thirteenth.

Im fuĺly expecting Chester to change his coat to black, and walk in front of my path with an evil grin on his face.

There’s already been signs of his mischievousness.  A long time ago we bought him some fake mice to play with since he didn’t have the inclination to chase the real rodents. Little did we know he had hidden these away, to bring them out on black Friday.

And, sitting on the floor, giving me the death stare, I wonder what his intentions are.

Not good.

So, I ignore him. I go back to the computer and get on with the day’s work. I have episodes to write, some research for a project one of my granddaughters is working on, and a novel in the throes of a third edit.

Still, I can feel those beady eyes drilling into my back.

Enough.

Do what you like, I say, turning suddenly on him, causing him to jump. Just go away and let me get on with my work. Instantly, I realise I’ve lost the battle, as he stands, gives me a final smug look, and leaves the room.

Was that a swagger?

Searching for locations: Queenstown Gardens, New Zealand

Queenstown Gardens are not far from the center of Queenstown.  They are just down the hill from where we usually stay at Queenstown Mews.

More often than not we approach the Gardens from the lakeside during our morning walk from the apartment to the coffee shop.  You can walk alongside the lake, or walk through the Gardens, which, whether in summer or winter, is a very picturesque walk.

There’s a bowling club, and I’m afraid I will never be that sort of person to take it up (not enough patience) and an Ice Arena, where, in winter I have heard players practicing ice hockey.

I’m sure, at times, ice skating can also be done.

There is a stone bridge to walk across, and in Autumn/Winter the trees can add a splash of color.

There is a large water feature with fountain, and plenty of seating around the edge of the lake, to sit and absorb the tranquility, or to have a picnic.

There are ducks in the pond

and out of the pond

and plenty of grassed areas with flower beds which are more colorful in summer.  I have also seen the lawns covered in snow, and the fir trees that line the lake side of the gardens hang heavy with icicles.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 47

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester.  He’s unimpressed with the fact it’s father’s day.

Why?

Because, it seems, we have never given him the opportunity to become a father.

It’s an interesting point, but one that requires an explanation.  In fact, the serious expression, bordering on smoke coming out of his ears, demands one.

Firstly, if I let you out the chances are you will become roadkill.  We’ve had this argument before, a number of times, and that it is not safe outside the confines of this house.

And if I promise not to stray…

I laugh.  A cat cannot promise anything, because, well, you’re a cat.  That’s what cats do, stray, wander, play chicken with cars, fight with other male cats for practically no reason at all, and worse, chase after any female cat that’s on heat.

I’m not like those other cats, he says.  Also, he seems amused by that expression, on heat.

It’s hard to explain, but you’ll hear it before you see it, I say.

And then there’s that look of recognition.  We’ve had a few female cats wandering the streets lately that have caused him to become very restless, and make strange guttural sounds.

So, he says, I’m not likely to become a father?

Maybe, I say, if he behaves himself, eats what is put in front of him, and use the litter properly instead of a general target, and stop using plastic bags as an alternate litter.

Yes, finally, a guilty look crosses his face.

I think I just found some leverage.

 

 

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 46

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester. I just told him it’s Dog Appreciation Day.

And it got the expected response, you don’t have a dog.

Agh.

Then I tell him that a neighbour had a dog just like the one we’re thinking of getting, and they’re going to lend him to us for a few hours.

You can’t do that. This is not a dog-friendly environment. Remember the last time you had a dog. Fleas in the carpet, stains on the wall, and as for toilet training…

Yes, he has a point. The last dog we had was almost a disaster, besides the fact it was ten times larger than Chester. Friendly though, when Chester didn’t hiss at him.

This dog, I say, is smaller, not much bigger than you. A jovial chap who doesn’t bark much, just when recalcitrant cats annoy him, so I’m told.

Who are you calling recalcitrant?

No mistaking that distinct look of displeasure, almost recalcitrant I thought.

It’s going to happen, get over it.

Was that a cat shrug I saw? Another icy stare just to chill the atmosphere in the room, and he leaves.

Yes, I do like stirring the pot. You think he’d know by now.

Searching for locations: Vancouver, Canada

Staying at Hampton Inn and Suites downtown, whatever that means because it looks like we are in the middle of nowhere.

But, judging by the crowd in the breakfast room, it’s a popular hotel.  Of course, it is Sunday morning so this could be the weekend escape people.
Two things I remember about staying in Hampton Inns is firstly the waffles and whipped butter.  It’s been five years but nothing has changed, they are as delicious as ever.  The other, its where I discovered vanilla flavored milk for coffee, and it, too, is addictive.

They also used to have flat burgers that were made out of sausage meat which was delicious, but on the first day, they were not on the menu.
Nevertheless, it was still a very yummy breakfast.

After some research into where we might find this pixmi unicorn, it appears that it is available at a ‘toys are us’ store in one of the suburbs of Vancouver.  So, resuming the quest, we took a taxi to West Broadway, the street the store is located.

A quick search of the store finds where the toys we’re looking for are, after asking one of the sales staff, and we find there are at least a dozen of them.  Apparently, they are not as popular in Canada as the might be in America.  Cheaper too, because the exchange rate for Canadian dollars is much better than for American dollars.  Still, 70 dollars for a stuffed toy is a lot of money.
We also get some slime, stuff that our middle granddaughter seems to like playing with.

After shopping we set off down WestBroadway, the way we had come, looking for a taxi to return us to the hotel.  There’s no question of walking back to the hotel.

A few hours later we walk to the observation tower, which was not very far from the hotel,

a place where we could get a 360-degree view of the city of Vancouver although it was very difficult to see any of the old buildings because they were hidden by the newer buildings, nor could we see the distant mountains because of the haze.

After leaving the tower we walked down Water Street to see the steam clock and the old world charm of a cobbled street and old buildings

We stopped at the Spaghetti Factory Italian restaurant for dinner and is so popular that we have to wait, 10 minutes to start with.  It doesn’t take all that long to order and have the food delivered to the table.  Inside the restaurant, there is an actual cable car but we didn’t get to sit in it.

I have steak, rare, mushrooms, and spaghetti with marinara sauce.  No, marinara doesn’t mean seafood sauce but a very tasty tomato-based sauce.  The steak was absolutely delicious and extremely tender which made it more difficult to cut with a steak knife.

The write up for the marinara sauce is, ‘it tastes so fresh because it is made directly from vine-ripened tomatoes, not from concentrate, packed within 6 hours of harvest.  We combine them with fresh, high-quality ingredients such as caramelised onions, roasted garlic and extra virgin olive oil’.

Oh, and did I mention they have a streetcar right there in the middle of the restaurant

I’m definitely going to try and make this when we get home.

After dinner, we return to the observation tower,  the ticket allowing us to go back more than once, and see the sights at night time.  I can’t say it was all that spectacular.

Another day has gone, we are heading home tomorrow.