Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mouse 1, Cats 0

This little guy is actually quite big for a mouse. He survived being carried about by Smokey, and being pinned into a corner by Bandit. Found refuge where the cats couldn't reach, before I lured them in for breakfast, and chased the mouse outside. It ran off at speed, apparently uninjured.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Alan's brick oven, part 3

These pictures are actually about a month old, but here you go. This is us pouring the top slab of concrete onto the bottom half of the oven.

Alan lowered the height of the edge since you last saw this, so the slab will be a little thinner than we thought at first.

Half way done

Most of the way in

All done! And made nice and smooth, too.

A week later it was strong enough to stand on.

We have a large pile of boxes in our living room right now, which have arrived this week, containing all the metalwork items for the chimney and heat resistant blankets and materials for the dome. We have our eyes on a brick supplier and need to check them out. Next task; building the dome!

Water cats again

They love the bird bath. They especially love it when I am pouring water in there.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Crimbo lights are up.

This flying Santa was my birthday present from Tamzin. Rope light runway was my idea...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Smokey and Bandit are one year old today. We got them at six weeks old, in January.

They seem to be dropping a hint that they want us to put the heating on. It's been a long time since they both curled up in here...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sink Cat

Smokey has taken to water in a big way, and takes every opportunity to investigate taps and faucets.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The road loves you

This heart is embedded in the Tarmac in our subdivision.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Roof Cat #2

I can report that the balcony retrieval method works excellently. In fact, Bandit got there before I did!

Garden Cats

Gratuitous pictures of S&B in the garden...

The grill

The brick oven

Of course the brick oven has a wonderful big drinking bowl on top at the moment. Nice clean tap water is so boring in comparison, don't you think?

Desperate Cats

Here is a typical morning in our house, bearing in mind I won't let the cats out when it is still dark. Current sunrise is about 07:10.

05:29 - Smokey wants to go outside.
05:30 - Alan and I feed the cats and sit down to breakfast.
05:45 - Alan departs for work. I hold Smokey otherwise he will escape into the garage.
05:46 - Smokey really wants to go outside. Meowing commences.
05:58 - Meowing is louder.
05:59 - Meowing is very insistent.
06:10 - Bandit decides she won't be a part of this and goes back to sleep. If she can, with all this racket going on.
06:15 - Intermittent, yet persistent meowing is spelled by prowling back and forth around the dining room, scratching the carpet to get my attention.
06:30 - Other ways of getting my attention are explored, such as attaching claws into my feet. Meowing continues. I explain to Smokey that I can't make the sun rise any quicker, but he doesn't seem to care.
06:45 - Meowing subdues slightly while Smokey and Bandit engage in some fighting.
06:50 - Bandit takes over mewing for a while to give Smokey a rest.
06:53 - Smokey is back on the case.
07:00 - A path is being worn between my chair and the door.
07:09 - Bandit walks over and mews politely to tell me the sun has risen.
07:10 - I let them out. PEACE reigns again.


Roof Cat

There I am, sitting at my computer, idly gazing out of the window, when I spy Bandit ambling along the roof. Wha..?

Outside I go, and there she is, looking all smug, saying 'Look where I am!'.

A bit of mewing, but all is basically well. However I figured I should probably entice her down. My first ploy was to go to the guest room window, which opens out onto the first floor roof. I should point out our house is in two levels, but the ground floor is wider than the second floor, so the first floor roof encircles the house. Upon reaching the guest room, I can't move the insect screens. Although Bandit comes up to say hello and sniff my hand through the mesh, I can't let her in that way.

Plan B - go round the back to the balcony and see if she will come round and jump up to it. This might have worked, but as soon as I reached the balcony, the heavens opened with a torrential sudden heavy rainstorm. This is Bad, because the water cascades down the roof like nothing else.

I dashed downstairs again, to find Bandit in the only place she could go - under the slight overhang between the two roof parts shown in these pictures. She was tucked up underneath the joist, as far as she could get in there, to stay dry. Lots of mewing ensued!

So, to the garage, to find some stepladders. I assembled our big ladders into as tall a stepladder as I could build, and put it as close to Bandit as I could get it. Climbed up, but Bandit was too far above me to be able to pluck her off, so I presented her my shoulders, and gave her lots of encouragement. This was punctuated on Bandit's part with more mewing. She got the hint though, and after some deliberation jumped down onto my back. She clung on while I descended the ladder, at least for a few steps; she jumped off as quick as she could. I guess a human back isn't as steady a platform as a cat would like.

Meanwhile, enter Smokey. A very wet, drenched Smokey! I have no idea where he'd come from, but he'd obviously been as surprised by the rain as we were. Here they are, sorting themselves out:

I dare say this won't be the last cat adventure...

Monday, September 27, 2010


Here's a picture I have been wanting to take for ages. Check out all these guys! Not sure what they are eating - dead deer and rabbits are the usual fare. Vultures are great, they perform a very useful service!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alan's Brick Oven, Part 2

Here is some more progress on the brick oven!

Since you last saw it, Alan has put cap stones onto the wall of breeze blocks. We filled the corners with concrete before glueing the stones into place. We used a concrete bonding glue which is very strong.

Yesterday we went to the store and bought copious amounts of wood, which Alan used to make the frame for the top slab.

Here's the inside frame, before Alan put the second half of the board in:

And then he built the outside of the frame. So this entire thing will be filled with more concrete.

We then have to buy some heat resistant slab bricks to lay on top of the plain concrete, which will become the cooking surface.

More to follow, in time...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Alan's Brick Oven, Part 1

Some of you will have heard Alan and I talking about the brick oven Alan is building in our back garden. This is going to be an Italian-style bread and pizza oven.

Here's a few pictures of the construction process...

The hole we dug for the concrete slab. It is 8" deep in the middle. We actually raised the mesh height slightly after this pic was taken.

Here's the truck we rented from Home Depot.

We needed its 3000lb load capacity, and it still took us two trips to bring home sixty 80lb bags of concrete.

We didn't have time to take pictures during the concrete pouring process. We got into a system of working. Alan would heft a bag of concrete into the mixer, I'd pass him a measured bucket of water, he poured that in. Mix for two minutes while I get another bag. Pour out the concrete into the hole; I get busy with the spade and spread out the concrete while Alan hefts another bag... This was bloody hard work and we demolished some beer afterwards, I can tell you.

Here's the slab five days later, after it had dried out.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we got some bricks. Here's the first layer.

Of course, no building work can be done without feline supervision ;-)

Three rows...

Fourth and last row, with angle iron to make the support for the opening. Note the difference in shadow angle; we can put only one row of bricks in our car at a time, so between the third and fourth row was lunch and the journey to the shop and back.

The bricks will get concrete poured down their holes tomorrow for strength, and then we start framing up for the slab to be poured on top.

Watch this space...

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Look at those colourful eyes...

But that's my bed!

Smokey stole Bandit's usual sleeping spot, so she just sat on top of him. Hey, we can both squeeze on here...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bandit vs. The Frog

So Bandit wanders in to the house with this little guy in her teeth. And then starts foaming at the mouth, big style.

One quick phone call to the vet later, we are in the car, away to get her checked out... They examined her at the surgery. She is fine. If it happens again, they say to simply rinse out the cat's mouth with water.

Bandit is back home, stalking the next victim even as I type...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

California Creatures

It was my good fortune this week to have a trip out to California, visiting Beale Air Force Base, where I was to photograph a buddy of mine doing wonderful things in a T-38 aeroplane. Meanwhile, we were stationed in the Visiting Officers' Quarters (VOQ) on base.

The air base is huge, and being in California in the summer, it is covered in very dry, crispy looking grass; all golden in colour. Now you know why they have so many wildfires over there.

Behind the VOQ was a road, which led to a trail going down into the valley. Early morning walks down here were very pleasant. The grass consistently rustled with the sound of ten million lizards. At the bottom was a small dammed lake, with a salmon ladder allowing the fish to swim up from the river below.

The first morning was a voyage of discovery. I didn't really expect this kind of pleasant space on an air force base. The second morning, I took my long lens with me, to capture some of the wildlife. Click each picture to enlarge it.


I think this is a wild turkey. She has five chicks, some of whom are visible here. Each chick is the size of a small chicken; these are big birds!

Finally, a deer.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rescued Mockingbird

Bandit was looking really smug this morning after catching this mockingbird. I grabbed it off her and put it in the hanging basket where she can't reach. Although she had a damn good try! It is looking dazed but is moving around.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New config for Kitty City

They are, of course, ignoring it. Outside is more fun.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


They did come out of the tunnel. Eventually.