I’ve stopped asking why…
This photo was taken in March 2016. It was the first time I’d seen The Dude since the previous winter started and my heart leapt when I found him basking in a sunbeam on a warm spring morning.
Most of you know by now that The Dude has “retired”. He was taken in by a lovely and caring neighbour at the beginning of this past winter and, given his present frail state, would not have survived otherwise. I’m going to visit him and Beatriz again tomorrow.
Hey Sevilla! This little tuxedo cat is presently being fostered by a friend and is looking for his forever home. Honestly, if Casa Azahar wasn’t already at peak cat capacity (I always say that I am one cat away from becoming a Mad Cat Woman) I’d be seriously tempted. The laundry hamper pic says it all. Anyhow, if you are interested, or know someone who might be, just get in touch.
#TBT… When Luna first came to live with us she was all eyes and ears – remember that poster? She was so tiny that I thought she was only a few weeks old, but it turned out she was more like 3-4 months old. The closest the vet could determine was that she was born sometime in June so (just like with Loki) I chose the 7th for her birthday. That way all us cats have the 7th for our birthdays (Morcilla in April, me in January).
Luna is the least demanding of the cats, so I have to make a special point of remembering to pick her up and cuddle her. She’s also the one that is most like, well, a cat. Loki is a dog, and Morcilla is in a class of her own. But Luna is all cat.
Happy Birthday my pretty girl!
The Dude in his prime, reining over the Plaza Santa Cruz
It’s not unusual that The Dude goes into hiding during the winter. Sometimes I barely see him at all between December and February (except on occasional warm sunny afternoons) and then I breathe a huge sigh of relief when I find him basking in a sunbeam at the end of winter. Until recently he had a special hidey-hole in an abandoned building, but then a few months ago construction work began and his safe spot was closed up. And so, this past winter I worried about him much more than usual. I’ve seen the toll the years have taken. He walks with clearly arthritic hips, and has got much thinner. I think I last saw him sometime before Christmas, but not since. I feared the worst, especially as this past winter has been very wet and cold.
The Dude basking on a warm spring morning
Then while out on a tour the other day I saw a woman who works at a Flamenco venue in the square taking some food out to the Dude’s girlfriend (who is happily still around) and I asked if she had seen the Dude, telling her I was worried about him. She smiled and – such happy words! – said to me “Yep, I took him home”. I almost cried. This woman, Beatriz, has been feeding Dude and his chica for a long time. Last year I remember seeing that she had set up a warm blanky for him outside the flamenco venue, and that he very happily let her scoop him up in her arms. But even back then she confided in me that she was concerned that the renovation work was taking away his bolt hole, and she couldn’t leave anything out for him outside the venue during the night.
the Dude and his chica
And well, then she took him home!!! Like me she had been worried about him, especially about the arthritis, saying he could no longer scoot up a tree like he used to in order to get away from dangerous dogs (and people). And she could see he was, well, just getting old. By all accounts he is at least 15 years old, and probably older. Apparently both the Dude and his girl were neutered by another neighbour who sees this as public service (give that woman a medal!). And Beatriz said that when she got Dude home she took him directly to the vet’s for a check-up.She said he was okay, but now on medication and not eating well. So then I asked Beatriz if she would mind me visiting the Dude at her home…
enjoying fresh air out on the enclosed terraza
When I walked into Beatriz’s apartment the Dude was out on the enclosed terraza, enjoying a fresh morning breeze. And as soon as I said his name he recognized my voice and looked up. Guys, I almost died of happiness. But he looked so small, almost half his usual weight, really just skin and bones. Apparently after Beatriz brought him home mid-December he suddenly took a turn for the worse… if she hadn’t taken him in, and taken him to the vet, and given him proper treatment, he’d have died cold, wet and alone in the street. But here is, hanging in there. Abiding.
I guess it’s a bit like him finally going into the cat equivalent of an old folk’s home. Because it is clear that the Dude has now retired. He has had a long life out there in the streets and has now been taken into a loving home – shared with an equally ancient dog – and looks quite content.
I spent about an hour with him today. As soon as I sat down on the sofa he came right up and made himself at home on my lap, at which point I totally melted. Beatriz tried feeding him, and at first he turned up his nose, but then I took a few biccys and held them out… and he started eating! Beatriz said I should come over more often as I seemed to have a positive effect on him. And I honestly hope to. Beatriz has done so much for him (she calls him Cani, short for Canela, cinnamon in Spanish), including the stress and expense of several vet visits, the medication, the special food, and the daily injections and pilling. I’d really like to help them and am planning to do so. But for now, for today, my heart is so happy that I got to see my Dude again and spend time with him.
They’re heeeeere…. lovely locally grown asparagus. Probably my favourite vegetable (if I had to choose). I’ve been reading about asparagus steamers lately, long tall pots especially made to perfectly cook your long tall asparagus. Seriously? Imagine having enough cupboard space for this sort of thing. I have always lightly steamed my asparagus lying down in a frying pan, with just a bit of water and a perforated lid. And of course char-grilled asparagus is also fab.
Then recently I saw a couple of recipes mentioned about braising asparagus, which seemed to me like the best of both worlds. You get the freshness of steaming with the extra added flavour of the braising liquids. So I decided to give it a try. Here you see asparagus tossed with a 50-50 blend of butter and olive oil and cooked with garlic, salt and a bit of crushed chilis. Heaven. I ended up with a bit too much butter/oil but will know better next time.
The only drawback with this delicious dish is that it’s too rich for the cats, who also happen to ADORE fresh asparagus (the same as Azar did). When they smell it cooking they start going into a very vocal frenzy, so while I was braising my asparagus in garlic and whatnot, I had to steam a few stalks in water just for the cats.
What’s your favourite vegetable?
By now we have all seen how Morcilla is obsessed with her own image in mirrors, and she often frantically paws at the glass, as if trying to get to the super cute cat on the other side. But now she has learned a new trick… that she can also see ME when she looks in the mirror. I didn’t notice this at first, and thought she was just admiring her own reflection as always. But then I saw that her eyes were looking right at me! Is this normal?
Out of all the cats I’ve had in Spain, only Morcilla has seemed to recognize that the image in the mirror is another cat (still not sure if she knows it’s actually her). But to also recognize The Human sitting across the room? Does she know it’s me? Sometimes I’ll wave at her, at which point she abruptly stops looking in the mirror and turns to look at me, as if to see if I’m also waving. Interesting…