Puerto Vallarta

the-prow

Los Muertos Pier

Our Hacienda was located in the Zona Romantica and this beautiful pier was just a short walk down the hill to the beach.  The sands are almost white despite how they look in this shot.  I liked this area because you could see locals along with tourists enjoying the beaches which are all public.  Shouldn’t all beaches be public???  As you approach Puerto Vallarta by air you can see dense jungle and hillsides and suddenly the most beautiful coastline much of which is taken up by resorts.

The view right outside the Hacienda

The view right outside the Hacienda

I love this shot – it takes me straight back to Cairo.  Cobbled streets, flags across the street.  It was a curious mixture of a wool shop here, a gay nightclub there, beautiful small hotels, street food and exquisite small restaurants.  The mixture was tantalizing.  When I chose the Hacienda, I noticed it was aimed at the gay community but welcomed straight folks.  Even more intriguing… When I researched the area, the guides said it was particularly safe, with a strong police presence.  Teddy and I went out to a lovely little restaurant called Casa Naranjo.  I think we were the only straight couple there but we were all the same age.  My appetite had disappeared and the host went out of his way to cook some mashed potatoes and also some buttered home-made pasta just for me.

yellow-dog

Isn’t there always a little yellow dog wherever you visit?  There were many in Cairo and Istanbul.  This one resided at a restaurant and was well cared for.

Teddy and the cat

Teddy and the cat

…and then there are the cats.  This one was not a stray as you can see from her lovely red collar.  She looked just like Katniss.

Teddy and Bunny with funny hats

Teddy and Bunny with funny hats

 

All Hallow’s Eve!

Mouse eatin!g grin

Mouse eating grin

When I first moved back to the States, I couldn’t figure out what Renaissance Festivals were all about. Twelve years later, I got it – you wear something as funny, provocative or revealing as you can in the general theme of the weekend. This weekend at our local Renfest, it was All Hallow’s Eve so I decided to go as a black cat(ish). Teddy said that I was getting plenty of attention from children and young men. I guess they both wanted a cuddle, of sorts…

pensive-ted
Teddy made a minimum effort with his outfit, as usual. He looks pensive but he is really just overwhelmed by the amount of cleavage and ass on view. This is one of his shots.

Barbarian Wench

Barbarian Wench

It is a disability friendly venue and I just loved Death – both the concept and the effort

death

These ladies made it feel medieval…

choir

I really liked the big black bunny rabbit…

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny

I loved this giant fairy (on stilts)

giant-fairy

I thought I misheard when someone called out, ‘watch out for the llama!” but no…

llama

It was as hot as hell, so I have no idea how this knight in shining armor coped.

knight-shining

There was an arial Hawk show and I love this shot of a King Vulture getting ready to fly. All the birds were disabled or unable to be released into the wild.

King Vulture

King Vulture

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Zhenny – our crazy cat, RIP.

ZnK_Sept1
I had such a sad day yesterday. Our beautiful Zhenny’s heart stopped during a routine dental procedure and she is now buried in the garden with Mrs. Stripe who died earlier in the year. She was geriatric and had some cognitive difficulties but it was an unexpected death. Teddy and I are distraught despite knowing that she didn’t have much longer. She was so funny, loving and crazy, RIP our special girl. This is my original post about her.

I know – she is utterly beautiful. Her eyes are exquisite and she looks like a cat on a pyramid. That’s the problem… I first encountered her at the cat shelter where my husband and I volunteered in Cairo, Egypt. Her owner was moving from an American military base in Cairo to another in Korea and couldn’t take her fur baby. I can only imagine how her owner felt but Zhenny was distraught. She wouldn’t eat anything, despite our endless treats and pleading. The veterinarian put an IV drip in but she thought she was being tortured. We already had Mrs. Stripe and her daughter, Toffee, our garden cats, so we certainly didn’t want another one. We thought that Stripe would attack her anyway as she is so territorial. Then one day it was obvious that Zhenny was dying and I just put her in a crate, took her home so that she could die somewhere nice.

She was so skinny that we bought her a little cat nest with a hood so that she could feel safe and comfortable in her final days. To my surprise, when I introduced Stripe and Toffee to her, I could see them saying, ‘Poor little soul’ and thus she was accepted. The fight for her life went on for about a week with me forcing baby food into her mouth. In desperation I bought some minced beef and cooked it for her. For the first time, she seemed to have an appetite and started eating properly. By that time we were all bonded or used to each other’s scents and it was too late… That was 12 years ago and she was 18 months old. She is still alive but I have saved her life on another occasion when the veterinarian hospital could not look after her. We believe she may have sent someone to ER…

Stripe and Toffee are likely half Mau but completely feral. Zhenny looks like a tabby oriental but may as well be from Planet Zed. Even the vet said that she is just loco. I have looked after many cats but this one is an enigma. Only I can lift her, and only in special circumstances. Her Dad may only kiss her but not stroke her. He is also the only one who is allowed to play with her in a precise OCD way. Mum is just for cuddles and care-giving. The other two cats were utterly silent for years, as feral cats can be, but Zhenny is astonishingly vocal. I will be on the phone with my aunt in Ireland, Zhenny will be three rooms away and she can hear her screaming. After all these years we can tell the difference between her distress and laughter. The vet suggested that we give her Xanax – I looked at him and said, “How precisely should I do that, with a blow-dart, perhaps?”

She can be hysterically funny or drive us to tears. If she is upset she creeps along the floor, sobbing. Have you ever heard a cat sob? All treats have to be thrown like live prey and yet she is not a hunter. We discovered much later that she had kittens before we took her in but still hadn’t been neutered. Shortly after I saved her life in Cairo, she went into heat. Our villa was three houses from the baker’s shop at the end of the street and I could hear her howling inside our house. No wonder our neighbors had some issues with us… One time she was halfway up the stairs, with her head peeping through the balustrade and started ‘in heat howling’. Even she looked astonished at the guttural sound that came out of her mouth and we burst out laughing.

She should not have lived this long but Mummy is just so good at saving her life. Sigh. Our vet looks at me in horror when I say very firmly DO NOT RESUSCITATE! She is so difficult to handle that we know that she would not be able to cope with a chronic illness or disability so it would be a kindness. She has the early stages of kidney dysfunction but I suspect she has at least another year in her. Oh we will miss these beautiful green blue eyes and her funny vocalizations.

Zhenny at 2 years old in Cairo

Zhenny at 2 years old in Cairo

My heart is broken

stripe rip

Mrs. Stripe playing with mum in the dappled autumn sunlight.

Life has been very challenging recently and I hoped that three bad things were enough but not so. Last week we had to have our beloved Mrs. Stripe put to sleep at the veterinarians. I had mentioned previously in a post Mrs.Stripe and the pharmacy that she had severe muscle deterioration in her hind quarters which along with arthritis was causing her pain. On the last visit we shot her up with everything available and it was lovely to see her vibrant spirit emerge when she was pain free. The medication stopped working despite doubling the dosage and she was struggling to breathe through snuffling from an unrelated allergy problem that we could also not treat. Teddy and I talked about what we best, especially given that she was at least 15 years old and a feral street cat. We both agreed that we couldn’t bear to see her in pain and she finally made the decision for us.

I was sitting on the sofa, the night before we took her to the vet, and for the first time in her life she sat on a human’s knee. I looked at her in astonishment but she just settled down like she had always done it. The heat emanating from my knee must have soothed her poor little joints but I had no doubt that she was saying, “Please make the pain stop”. It was a sad day at the vets and almost all staff was in tears both at our sorrow and losing such a special patient. Even in her last days she played with her knitted catnip Spiderman, mewed plaintively for treats and even seemed to smile. She often made us smile see the post Resolution No 1 – wash more.

The house is in mourning and her daughter, Toffee, who is 13 years old, is wandering around the house crying. Zhenny, our other cat, has retreated into closets; occasionally giving us the odd cuddle but mostly biting us. We have euthanized many older pets but Mrs. Stripe was possibly my favorite. I became very mentally unwell when we moved to Egypt and when I caught glimpses of her in the garden it lighten my burden. She is probably half Egyptian Mau but has a bit of European Ginger which gave her fur the most gorgeous Titian highlights. She was exquisite and I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. I had no intention of looking after her until she had an injury. See my original post about our first meeting – Mrs. Stripe. Right to the very end of our posting in Cairo I wasn’t sure if she wanted to come with us – she was essentially a wild animal. One day she just made up her mind to stay in the house and we had to rush to get her neutered and vaccinated for the trip to America.

The veterinarian placed her in a beautiful blue shroud and we have buried in her beloved garden. Like most immigrants from third world countries, she loved her adopted new land and the odd new creatures she observed such as skunks and raccoons. She loved us and we will always love her. RIP Mrs. Stripe.

Mrs. Stripe's shroud on her favorite ottoman

Mrs. Stripe’s shroud on her favorite ottoman

Pippy was a Welsh cat, Pippy was a thief.

Pippy was a thief

There is a terribly politically incorrect rhyme from my childhood that goes, “Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief”. As you can imagine, it casts disparagement onto people of Welsh origin (from the country of Wales in the UK, for those of you who suffered American geography classes. 🙂 ) Teddy and I got married in Chester, England and moved to a small town in Wales where we bought our first house. To start with, we had a lovely little hamster. I love all animals and desperately wanted a cat but Teddy was allergic (and still is, 6 cats later). Despite that, Teddy also wanted a cat. I saw an advert for a tabby kitten in our little town in Wales and we went to view. The tiger kitten had gone and all that was left was this filthy, skinny black and white kitten. My nose probably wrinkled but I saw Teddy in a haze of love. In his head, this scraggy kitten was the most beautiful black and white princess covered in fairy dust (it was just dirt). Unbelievably, he was right – she turned into the most exquisite black and white princess as you can see above.

We moved with her, back to the north of Scotland, and she was a holy terror. Trouble from the minute we owned her but we loved her anyway. She was authentically Welsh and she was most definitely a thief so that’s were the rhyme comes in. One of the many houses we lived in was a former bank in a tiny village in Scotland. The kitchen was originally the vault and the window sill was about 3 foot in depth. We had only been married a few years and had very little money (we are doing that in reverse now). The fish van had come around and I bought one fillet of haddock for Teddy. I had frozen it and decided to place it on the kitchen window sill to defrost.

Towards dinner time I went to bread and prepare the haddock fillet only to discover that Pippy had managed to eat the top half. It still looked like a fillet but a bit thinner than normal. I looked at it aghast and wondered what to do. There was nothing else for Teddy’s dinner. Eventually, I decided to wash it, cover it in breadcrumbs and hope that he didn’t notice. He ate it with great enjoyment and then I burst out laughing. “Didn’t you notice that it was a very slim fish?”. He looked appalled at first and then laughed too. I had already shouted at Pippy, who gave not a whit, and it was neither the first or last theft that the felon committed.

Topless Teaser…

A topless slutty Mrs. Stripe - you can even see her nipples!

A topless slutty Mrs. Stripe – you can even see her nipples!

This post is a little lead in or teaser into my theme next week – sexuality. Can you tell that I can’t get frisky until after my cataract operation? Teddy has been chasing me all around the house but he missed his opportunity…

Many years ago we both worked for a small oil service company in the north of Scotland. Sometimes small companies are so much fun to work for and give you endless humorous stories. When we moved to this city, I had to change jobs/careers again and finally got the opportunity to work as a fossil picker. Basically, you look at core samples (from oil wells) under a microscope and pull out micro-fossils for the real genius’s to look at. It’s a perfect job for someone with OCD to do. I was being trained at the same time as a very eager young man. He was bragging about how much he had impressed them at interview and just at that moment my husband walk past the window and waved. In response I said, “I slept with that guy to get the job”. The rest of the laboratory collapsed laughing and the young man was shocked. Well, it was the truth. Nepotism!

That’s not my funny story, though. After we had both moved on to other jobs we kept in touch with the base manager who passed on this tale. They had employed a very pretty young girl, about 18, with ample assets, shall we say? She looked good but wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box so was employed as a cleaner. The majority of staff in the various units was male and their jaws dropped open when they saw their new cleaner. She was already notorious in this provincial city because her mother had signed a waiver when she was 16 to allow her to model topless in one of our seedier newspapers. You think the ones in the US are bad but the Super, Soaraway, Sun was the worst daily tabloid. Men would just drool over someone’s breasts on the bus or train while giving you the eye.

So, to supplement her job as a cleaner she did evening jobs on the side. On one unforgettable occasion she had put up a handwritten poster on the company noticeboard to advertise her services. There were plenty of potential lads who were organizing grooms nights or stag nights as we call them in the UK.

EXOTIC DANCING – £10 a night
TOPPLES – £20 extra

I told you that she wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box but I bet she got plenty of work!

Toffee – our baby cat

Toffee on the mantel

Aaawww – that cute little face. She doesn’t look like she has the capacity to reduce you to a whimpering wreck, does she? Not a day goes by when she doesn’t whine, beg, look at you as though you torture her and then cuddle me obsessively. It must be my fault but I don’t know how it happened.

Toffee, aka Toffee Tiddles or Baby girl, is our baby. She is going to be 13 this spring but is still our baby and behaves like it. We were introduced to Toffee when she was about 6 weeks old, so she has known us forever. At some point, before she was a year old, something traumatic happened to her. We have no idea what it was but it changed her personality. She was injured but was too upset for us to take her to the vet in Egypt. Our gardener found her and kept her in his room. We would like to think that she fell off the balcony but we think that a human did something bad to her, perhaps unintentionally. Most Egyptians love cats so it is hard to imagine that anyone deliberately did anything bad but they may have shooed her into the path of a car, perhaps.

I watched her mother, Mrs. Stripe, play with Toffee and her sibling Treacle (coal black), for hours in the garden. The play was really a lesson in how to hunt and it was usually mom’s tail. As they grew older, the siblings would play fight with each other but as feral kittens didn’t utter a sound. It was the weirdest experience to watch them hurt each other and squeak silently! Toffee was the dominant kitten and came into the house soonest. She loved to chase balls around the house and kick-started by putting her back legs up the wall. Those little paw marks on white-washed walls were so difficult to remove. Although her mum was not a hunter, more a scavenger, Toffee has a natural hunting ability and is literally addicted to lizards. They have some LSD type substance on their skin. Over the years I have rescued hundreds of lizards including a big black one that bit me!!

Her first proper toy was a handmade tartan teddy knitted by an American expat. It was a few inches long and she carried it everywhere. It was hard to get either toys or cat food in Egypt but we managed with ping-pong balls. Her absolute favorite was a toy that I bought for myself. This was another hand-knitted doll who was a genial witch, dressed in a purple outfit and a knitted broomstick. It was Halloween and I was just so delighted to find something so cute. Toffee took one look at it and ran off with Nanny Ogg in her mouth – it was as big as she was!

When we finally managed to get her to the vet for vaccinations and neutering, she was the worst patient ever – even worse than Zhenny… Our veterinarian had an assistant that looked like an Egyptian Lurch. His size and temperament calmed/scared most animals but not Toffee. She totally trashed Dr. Farouk’s office – she escaped from Lurch/Mohammed’s grasp, ran around like a mini tornado, breaking everything as she went. We finally found her inside one of his desk drawers. It was the only time I saw Dr. Farouk close to losing his cool. He wanted to know why we were looking after a wild animal but by that time, she was injured and we had no choice. She has rarely visited any vet in her 12⅔rd years and we hope she just drops dead someday. Apart from us adoring our little baby, she is has been a fabulous intermediary between Zhenny and Mrs. Stripe who both consider themselves alpha females. Toffee will play with them both, particularly Zhenny who she treats as a sibling.

She didn’t find her voice for years but now has a really loud, annoying squeak. I will put up with it for ages and then speak to her in Arabic. She puts her tail between her legs and then runs under the bed. Sigh. Then I have to go persuade her than Mummy is not an ogre (she should have met her Grandma) and please come out for some organic chicken. By now you should realize who the problem is…

Toffee with Mummy in Egypt

Toffee with Mummy in Egypt