Friday, March 30, 2012

Lucky Cats, Unlucky Cats. Too Many Cats?

Yesterday, Uncle Jim took me aside and sat me down saying he needed to discuss something with me. 

This sounded ominous.  Was he sick?  Did he lose the family fortune at the Casino in Monaco?  Did someone die?  Well, it was a lot more serious than that.

Uncle Jim thought that I've been spending too much time thinking, talking, and writing about cats.

How is that possible?  How can one think, talk, and write too much about cats? 

Apparently it is possible, at least according to Uncle Jim.

"But my last post on The Auntie Times was about an alligator," I mewed plaintively.  He wasn't buying it.

Uncle Jim doesn't  realize that there's so much news to share about cats.  Take for instance my recent discovery of a brand new French Lotto scratch card called Poils à Gratter or Fur Scratching, featuring cats.  If you uncover a mouse when you scratch, you win.  And guess what?  I won!  I knew that black and white cat looked lucky.

And then there's the unfortunate news that something sinister may be happening in our neighbourhood in France.  Two cats, Flamby and Ramses have gone missing in the same week.  

I met Flamby myself last month when he wandered into our yard and we had a  nice scratch.  She was quite friendly as I recall.  Poor Ramses and Flamby.

Big News!  A new cat in the 'hood!  Hmm...He looks a lot like Cat!

And what about this fabulous new tabby cat I've discovered, just down the street who is friendly, likes to play, and enjoys a good scratch whenever I encounter him?

What sort of Auntie would I be if I didn't show you my  fabulous new "cat with yarn" toothbrush holder that I bought at a garage sale in the little village of La Turbie?  It makes me smile every time I brush my teeth.
What about my friend from French class, Britt, and her fabulous kitten themed pencil case?  How can I not tell you about that?

Classmate Britt's pencil case

Oh well, I guess I'll follow Uncle Jim's advice and that will be it for cats for awhile.

That is of course, unless Cat shows up somewhere interesting, or one of the missing cats is found, or I get a cat, or I see a new cat, or someone says the word, "cat" or ...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More Fun at the Billa. Explore the World with Alliga Joe!

Hey Kids!  Grab your passports and cameras!

Remember Supermercato Billa's i Puffi promotion back in the fall?  Well, they're at it again! 

This time, you can tag along with explorer extraordinaire, Alliga Joe and his two human companions, Lara and Bil, on a grand, world-wide adventure with "Alliga Joe Visits the 6+1 Continents with Bil and Lara."

Together, they explore land and sea, from north to south, east to west, and learn all about the plants, animals, people, and the facts and figures of the planet we live on. 

For every €10 you spend at the Billa Supermarket in Italy, you get a packet of stickers to paste into a collector's book that you buy at Billa for €3.90 (€2.90 if you have a Billa card).   Each sticker represents  something that the three explorers discovered during their trip.  

From Bengali tigers to the Korowai of New Guinea who live in tree houses, to the lost City of Atlantis, each sticker has an  interesting description so you can learn while you stick.  I've started my album already.

Everything is written in Italian but since you are young and have a mailable young brain, you'll be learning a new language and all about the planet too!

You have until April 29 to collect the stickers but then you have until May 6 to write about your most memorable adventure and send it to Billa with 10 empty packets.  If your story is the best, it will be published in Billa's Focus Junior Kids' Magazine.

Join Bil and Lara.  It'll be more fun to see the world with Alliga Joe instead of reading about it in books, cooped up in a classroom!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Auntie Puddy and I were in Ventimiglia on Wednesday morning, looking for some new shoes and purses to match our old purses and shoes when we spotted a cute little puppy being walked down the street.

We ooh'd and aahh'd when the owner and the little puppy walked by. 

Later that morning when we saw the little puppy and the owner in a shop, we dove in to have a closer look.

Now, you know that Auntie is a big cat fan so it takes a lot to get me excited about a dog but there we were, Auntie Puddy and I, petting its soft, furry little head while it wagged its tail and soaked up all the affection like a sponge.

You must admit, that little puppy sure is cute!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cat Spotted at a Cat Café in Tokyo!

The air was crackling with excitement at Auntie's house this morning as she heard news about Cat!

In case you don't know about Cat, he was the furry feline drifter who arrived at our house in France one day, cost us hundreds of euro for surgery to remove a tumour, ate like a pig, became quite fat, and then ran off when we put him on a diet.  Since then, he's popped up here and there, from time to time, and we always look forward to news of his feline exploits.

Well, my Japanese friend just returned from a trip to Tokyo and along with some lovely gifts, she brought news of Cat whom she recognized from reading The Auntie Times.  

She told us that she saw Cat at a Cat Café!  Well, Hello Kitty!

What's a Cat Café you may ask?

Well, let's say you live in Tokyo and you like cats and you can't own one since it's customary in Tokyo to pay a lot of extra cash to your landlord so you can, the Cat Café is the place for you!  For about 1,000 yen, you can sit in a lovely café, sip tea, eat snacks, and pet and play with cats.  I know!  How fabulous is that? 

Some Tokyo Cat Cafés have up to 20 cats to play with but to keep the kitties safe and healthy, you have to follow some strict rules.  For example, you  aren't allowed to pick them up, dress them in cute outfits or take them home with you.  You're only allowed to gently pet and scratch them and then only after you've taken off your shoes and washed your hands when you arrived.
A poster from Cat's stage performance

So, let's say you're at a Cat Café and you want to know more about the lovelies purring at your feet.  Most Cat Cafés keep a Cat Album with photos and detailed biographies and personality profiles for each of the cats.  Some of the cats even have Twitter accounts so you can follow your favourite cats' tweets! 

It makes sense that Cat would turn up at a Tokyo Cat Café.  When Uncle Jim and I visited Tokyo last year, Cat was starring as "Pete the Cat" in a play based on the 1957 novel, The Door into Summer by science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein.

The play closed many months ago so I guess Cat is taking a bit of a sabbatical at the Cat Café between gigs.

Cat seems to have many talents.  

Who knows where he'll turn up next?


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eats Barks and Stays. Oranges Too!

"Enough was enough," was the general sentiment around our household last week when Celine finally cracked and had had it with sweeping all the stuff that kept falling out of our biggest, most majestic pencil cyprus tree on the terrace.

For the past month, a big pile of detritus made up of cyprus needles, chewed cyprus cones, tree bark, and poop has been greeting her when she arrives in the morning. She was getting blisters from all that sweeping.

What the heck was living up there?

Hey!  Stop that!
Well, Auntie decided to do a little investigating of her own so she and Celine got the longest broom we had in the house and together we poked at a big clump of a nest made of cyprus needles, cones and chewed bark to see if something would fall out.  We were hoping that the something was an animal, without a temper, but all that fell out was cyprus needles, cones, chewed bark and poop.  Most of it fell into our hair.  So much for investigative research. 

Did you see anything?
We've had our share of beasts roaming here and there and from time to time in the garden.

Years ago it was a  pretty pheasant whose life was cut short by a neighbour with a hunting  rifle  and  dinner guests who liked stuffed pheasant.

After the pheasant fiasco, a badger moved in, dug holes under some of the olive trees and then vanished.  Then of course there was Cat  who came and went and popped up in Tokyo last year as a stage star.

The suspect
The general consensus was that we had another tree rat like the one in September's post, "Wanted:  Cats who eat Rats."  But when Celine, with her keen, young, eyes and a magnifying glass pointed out that the poop falling out of the tree was too big for a tree rat, the plot thickened.

When I discovered chewed up oranges in the garden, this meant war!
This means war!

Plan "A", mothballs around the tree.  It didn't work



Later that night, after Uncle Jim and I had finished watching a movie, I grabbed a flash light and snuck out onto the terrace.  All was quiet and the moon was full.  Slowly I made my way in the moonlight to the bottom of the Cyprus tree.  I paused for a moment to let my eyes adjust to the darkness.  I snapped on the flash light and aimed it high into the tree and... yipes!  There it was staring down at Auntie from its perch!  It was a big furry animal that looked like a giant mouse!  I yelled for Uncle Jim but by the time he arrived, the giant mouse-monster had hidden itself.

Eric the gardener joins in the mystery
Early the next day, I told Celine about the giant mouse and she did some research.  She was sure that the varmint  living in the cyprus tree wasn't a rat at all.  Based on my description  it was probably a dormouse!  

If you're ever read Alice in Wonderland, one of the characters was a dormouse who was always falling asleep.  This makes sense since dormice are nocturnal so daytime was sleep time for the little critters.  This also explained why we never saw our dormouse during the day.  It was probably snoozing away.

Now that we knew what we were dealing with, it was time to pull out the big guns, aka, the gardener, Eric.

On Thursday, he bravely climbed into the cyprus tree  using a really long ladder and dismantled the nest.  He didn't see any critters.  I guess they were in the garden eating my oranges.

Eric recommends a trap. 

Stay tuned as the plot thickens... 

`You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, 
who seemed to be talking in his sleep,
 `that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing 
 as "I sleep when I breathe"!'  Alice in Wonderland