Yule

Wishing everyone a highly corrugated Boxing Day!

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Apple closed down for Thanksgiving week, and I took a few extra days off before that, but it hardly seemed like enough, though it was enjoyable enough time. I particularly enjoyed walking around Byxbee Park and the Palo Alto Baylands, which reminded me of the spare beauty of the northeast corner of Hawaii’s Big Island. (Some wide-angle photos of it here.)

Everything’s been a bit of a slog, though I did manage to finish a pretty chunky project at work, which I’d originally proposed a couple of years ago but only recently became important. Although it ended up being more time-consuming than I’d expected, and was a source of some stress as it wasn’t clear I’d finish it on schedule, I was quite happy that my basic idea and approach worked well. So that made me happy.

Is that sufficiently vague? I never talk about work here.

Well, I can reveal one thing, which is that I worked on the Apple Silicon project, which was pretty darned awesome. This prompted me to go back into the office a couple of weeks ago for the first time since March, to clean out my office space for that project and bring stuff back to my main office. That was… weird, since of course all the buildings I went into were almost completely deserted. I’ve always carefully separated my work and home life, and the fact that I now work at home I think is slowly messing with my mental state. Not that I’m in a rush to go back until it’s safe, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing it were.

Anyway, everything has been a lot, as I’m sure you know. The March of the Trump Moron Brigade trying to overturn the election in a Stupid Coup hasn’t helped the stress level. Nor has the upward spiral of COVID-19 cases in the United States, driven by idiots gathering for Thanksgiving and just generally ignoring the sensible instructions to stay apart and wear masks. In some ways the worst thing about this pandemic is that many of these idiots won’t get a proper comeuppance for their hubris and stupidity, but lots of innocent people will pay the price instead. It’s so frustrating.

Anyway. The news of the vaccines is certainly great. Hopefully by spring we’ll have a good idea how how well they’re working and how long it will take to vaccinate the entire population (and, unfortunately, how many Americans will refuse to be vaccinated, either because they’re idiots or because they’re part of minority groups who have been poorly treated by the medical-industrial complex for the past century). Perhaps optimistically, I’m hoping we might return to relatively normalcy by September or so.

We shall see.

We put up our outdoor Christmas lights – as did a lot of other people in the neighborhood. I guess being stuck has home has prompted more people to decorate. We also put up one Christmas tree, the big one in the living room, and while Debbi’s fears about the kittens taking it down have been unfounded (though I did find them having climbed it once), they instead ended up chewing through some of the light cords, as well as actually chewing off parts of some of the covers of the lights. Fortunately, no harm seems to have been done; even if they ate some, the bits I think are a lot smaller than their digestive tracts at this point.

Debbi took the three days before the Christmas break off (both of our companies shut down between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day), while I took off Wednesday. We had a quiet Christmas. Jackson and Edison joined us to open presents, so Edison became the next kitten to revel in the joy of wrapping paper.

Debbi made homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and I made my traditional meatloaf and potatoes gratin for dinner. In-between we talked to family, went for a walk in Shoreline Park, and watched the football game. And today was even more low-key, except for working out in the morning.

Speaking of the kittens, they’re both doing well and growing up. They turned 8 months old earlier this month, and they’re settling into their own patterns and personalities. Both of them are snuggly in their own ways, Simon more with Debbi at night, while Edison lies on my chest – and occasionally lap – during the day. Simon has been doing his best to befriend both Sadie and Roulette, while Edison doesn’t seem to quite know how to do it: He swats at Roulette like a boy trying to get a girl’s attention in school by pulling on her hair. Roulette hisses at him. Sadie for her part swats at him and he’s intimidated by her. I hope he figures it out.

Roulette has stabilized after her rough time at the end of October. She still has the occasional bad day, but she takes her medication like a champ, seems happy sleeping her days away in three different places, enjoys her every-other-day wet food, and has been using her litter reliably.

So, that’s been the holidays, so far. I hope yours have been as good or better. I’ll leave you with a special treat: A clip of Simon getting down from the top of the cat tree, which he does by swinging himself down with his front legs like a monkey. He’s such a goofball!

The Edison Blues

The weekend after our trip to the coast, we noticed that Edison was feeling kind of down – or a least acting that way. He’s been a high-energy kitten, but now he was spending a lot of time sleeping, not really playing. He was eating and drinking, and would engage with us if we worked at it, but otherwise he was just finding different sleeping spots and hanging out there.

So Saturday we took him to the vet – we seem to spend a lot of time at the vet since getting these kittens, but fortunately all for treatable issues. In this case, Edison was running a fever, so our vet gave him some subcutaneous fluids and a shot of something – I think a broad-spectrum antibiotic – to help him shake it. She also drew some blood to run a deeper test if that didn’t help. And then we took him home.

Happily, that treatment seemed to do the trick, as by Monday he had perked up considerably, and by today he was just about back to his normal self. I think his brother Simon missed having his playmate, although he is pretty self-entertaining. But seeing Edison charge after toys at high speed again was a joyful thing.

I guess this is just part of getting new kittens: They come with some new issues. But hopefully now that we’ve taken care of the chlamydia, the conjunctivitis (twice!), and whatever this was, they won’t come down with anything else for a while. For years, with any luck.

Kitten Update

It’s been over two months since Simon & Edison joined our family, so it’s time for a kitten update!

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first: You may recall that they had upper respiratory infections and kitty conjunctivitis when they arrived, which we treated them for. Well, it turns out it was worse than that: The infection they almost certainly had from the start was kitty chlamydia, which we learned when their big brother Jackson’s right eye started watering and got hecka inflamed. We found out because we took him in to get tested.

So the three boys were on antibiotics for three weeks. We decided not to treat Sadie and Roulette because neither of them had showed any symptoms, and both of them had been avoiding the kittens (and Roulette avoids Jackson anyway). It was a bit of a risk, because if it turns out one of them was infected, then we’ll get to do this again, for all five of them. So of course every time I see Sadie sniffle I think, “uh oh”. But Sadie is a sniffly, slightly-drooly cat anyway, and she hasn’t shown the eye watering that all three of the boys showed. It’s been a week and a half since we finished their meds and none of them seem to be showing any symptoms, so it seems we got away with it.

The other downer is that a couple of weeks ago we were watching The Mandalorian, while the kittens were playing hard, when Edison jumped down off the top of the cat tree and must have twisted his ankle or something because he stopped putting weight on one of his rear legs and went and hid behind the couch. We put a stop to playtime for the night and corralled him and took the kittens up to their room and closed the door and left them alone for half an hour. Then we checked on them and he was limping, but he was using the leg again. So we decided to let it go to the next day, and while he was favoring the leg he was using it, and it wasn’t stopping him from running around. So we’ve kept an eye on him, and will probably ask the vet to take a look when we bring him in for their next shots. He was less adventurous about jumping for a while, but maybe it was psychological. Recently he’s been back to his old self, getting all kind of places, so hopefully it was something small.

We have another appointment for them to get their next round of shots in a week so we’ll have the vet check them out and make sure they’re okay. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, end of bad news.

The good news is that both kittens are growing up and are now in that delightful time where they’re able to do more, and they’re interacting with us more.

And stealing our chairs.

You may have guessed that they’re no longer confined to a bedroom. We staged letting them out, first giving them play time upstairs – usually with Jackson monitoring or even playing with them – and then giving them supervised visits downstairs. Next we let them out all day from morning til night, putting them back for the night. And finally last weekend we left them out overnight, which predictably ended up with us being kitten-piled at 2:30 am, but otherwise they seem to have adjusted well.

Jackson, somewhat to our surprise, is quite fond of the kittens. At first when they’d run up to him he’d tackle them too hard and they became wary of him, but after a week or so he figured it out, and the kittens would look for him whenever we let them out of their room. Simon in particular loves Jackson and would rub up against him whenever he first saw him after being released. We eventually caught Jackson and Simon sleeping together, with Jackson roughly grooming Simon and Simon purring away in happiness. The next development was hearing cats running around the house and spotting Edison chasing Jackson through the dining room. That chase ended with a hiss, I think because Jackson didn’t think a kitten could keep up with him, but they’ve had some chase time since then and it’s gone well. Jackson sometimes gets a little tired of the kittens and finds a place to get away from them, but mostly they get along great.

Simon can be a little winky sometimes.

Sadie and Roulette… it’s a work in progress. Sadie I think has been trying to figure out how to play with them, but has been having a hard time finding a way to do it without wapping them with her paw. It’s funny because she and they all have their spaz-all-over-the-house moments, but they haven’t played chase yet.

Meanwhile, I think Edison is looking for his special big cat to love, the way Simon has Jackson, and he’s chosen… Roulette, our grumpy 17-year-old cat who has spent most of the time since the kittens arrived under our bed. Fortunately we quickly identified that she came down to eat and use the litter, and finally she started coming down to hang out with us in the evening. But Rou would really like to be an only cat. Which is why Edison giving her the hard sell has been so funny: Sitting near her, watching her, trying to sneak up on her and lie next to her or lick her head. She is getting less belligerent, but I don’t know whether he’ll win her over. But he’s trying so hard. It would serve her right if he does, though, since that’s basically the hard sell that she gave my cat Jefferson when she was a kitten.

We’ve been trying to promote acceptance by giving everyone wet cat food together. Roulette and Simon are both very food-oriented, and Jackson and Edison will also join in. Sadie is not really food-oriented and often sits and watches.

As you probably know California has been wracked with wildfires for the last couple of weeks, and the air quality combined with unusually warm weather this month has led us to keep the house closed up and the A/C on for most of the time since we released the kittens for good. So they haven’t really gotten the full experience of sitting in windows and watching things outdoors. They’ve gotten a little of that in the last couple of days, and it seems Simon is a sunbeam cat, while Edison is going to be the one who tracks every little thing that goes by outside. Hopefully we can make sure that doesn’t include him.

The best part is that both of them like to snuggle with us, and each one will spend time sleeping on our chest or sometimes our lap. Edison in particular will sometimes get up and visit each one of us, sitting on our chest for a couple of minutes purring away before he goes back to whatever he was doing. And sometimes we wake up in the middle of the night with one of the cats snoozing next to us.

Despite the hiccups, these are still great kittens, and I’m really glad we got them.

Welcome Simon & Edison

Did you ever find yourself mostly stuck at home for months on end and think to yourself, “This would be an excellent time to adopt some kittens”?

Well, we are, and so we did. Meet Simon and Edison!

Simon is the brown tabby, while Edison is the black fellow.

We met them because one of my cow-orkers was fostering them, and we went over to visit a few weeks ago (pretty much the only people we’ve visited indoors since shelter-in-place started in March), and we thought they were pretty adorable. But, color-wise, they fit in with our three current cats, Roulette (calico), Jackson (gray tabby with white), and Sadie (white with orange tabby markings). And they had fun, playful personalities. So we decided to adopt them!

They are not brothers – Edison is about a week older than Simon according to their records, and they’re about two and a half months old. Simon has had a rough first couple of months, with some sort of bug that suppressed his appetite, and a foxtail or something in his right eye which left an ulcer. But he seems to have recovered from both, and is a little behind Edison in size and weight.

We brought them home two Mondays ago, and they’ve been mostly confined to a bedroom since then. And holy cow they are just about the most high-energy kittens we’ve ever had, other than maybe Blackjack. They zoom around their room and play and play and play. They’re changing practically every day, learning to jump higher, complaining that I’m not scooping their litter enough (we put a larger tray in the room after a couple of accidents), finding their meows, learning to snuggle, learning to clean themselves. Some switch flipped in Simon a couple of days ago and he’s become a lot more assertive, which has been adorable.

We’ve given them some supervised access to the rest of the upstairs, which they find delightful. They’re also very interested in the big cats, though only Jackson is interested in them so far, and somewhat cautiously, although we’ve played with all of them at the same time. Sadie will get a glimpse of them and then run away, while Roulette doesn’t like the cats we already had and I think is in denial that we have more.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t all been fun and games.

We took them in for their first appointment with our vet, for which they did very well. Both have put on a bunch of weight since they arrived (Simon is going to be a roly-poly guy, while Edison is going to be long and lean). That’s good, but less good is that they both have upper respiratory infections, and also conjunctivitis (or something like it). So we get to give them both meds for the next week and a half, and have to keep them separated from the other cats – and likely also change our clothes when we visit them – to keep the others from getting infected (especially Roulette, who will be 17 later this month; Jackson and Sadie are 7 and can probably deal with an infection if they contract it). Aside from the hassle for us and the disappointment for the kittens, it also means it will be a couple of weeks at least before we can start integrating the household.

Hopefully we’ll all come out the other side okay, but it wasn’t a great start to the long weekend.

As for the names? I’ve had “Edison” in my back pocket for decades waiting for the right cat, and I think this is the right one. We talked through a bunch of other names and both liked Simon. Of course, these are my fourth and fifth cats whose names end in “-on” (Jefferson, Newton, Jackson), so next time we’ll have to add a little more variety. But I think these names suit these kitties.

So despite the speed bumps, we’re very excited about these new additions. I’ve felt since they arrived like these are exactly the kittens we were meant to have.