Tallys died today after a short fight with an unknown disease. We got him and his two brothers from a shelter foster litter and as soon as we met him as a tiny kitten, we knew he was one of the kittens we wanted to adopt. He was the smallest kitten in the litter, was extremely friendly and very snuggly, and he remained that way for his short life. He would spend all night curled up at my feet, or under the covers with Andrea, and in the morning he’d come downstairs and ask to be picked up while I made breakfast. He loved to be up on my shoulders, purring and kneading, and occasionally scolding me if I wasn’t petting him enough. He played with my feet under the covers, and would bring cat toys downstairs during the day while we were at work and the dogs were outside. He also made friends with all the dogs, and especially Monte, who would come in the house and bark until his friend Tallys came down to nuzzle him and play.
He also loved heat, so he was always the cat baking himself in the direct sun in the window, and especially liked winter because of the heat the wood stove put out. He’d lay in front of it (or sometimes directly under it) and his fur would get hot enough it seemed like he should be melting. And when the wood stove wasn’t cranking he’d flop down in front of our Toyo and soak up as much heat as he could.
He is survived by his brothers, Jenson and Caslon, and his two sisters living in another home in Fairbanks. Tallys, Jenson, and Caslon all got along at our house, sleeping in a ball on the bed, or chasing each other around. Tallys and Caslon would often sit opposite each other and lazily swat at each other until someone got in a good punch and they’d go bolting after each other.
He was a super sweet little cat, and our time with him was too short, but in those years he was a constant bright spot in our lives. We will miss him.
If it isn't obvious by now, I'm currently working on reading the rest of Haruki Murakami’s novels. I started with Wind Up Bird Chronicle in April 2008, and have only two left at this point. After finishing A Wild Sheep Chase it appears that there is some benefit in reading them in order, as this book and Dance Dance Dance share a few characters and locations. But the plots aren’t connected, so it probably doesn’t matter.
A Wild Sheep Chase is Murakami’s third novel, but is the first that is easily available in an English translation. Like the others, it slowly works it’s magic so that by the time strange things start happening, it seems normal. And the usual Murakami themes (solitude, cats, isolation in nature, etc.) are in evidence. But the whole thing doesn’t quite come together as well as in later novels.
Still, it is a very enjoyable book, and it’s fun to spend time in the strange worlds of Murakami’s characters. South of the Border, West of the Sun is next, and then After Dark. I should have no trouble finishing them in time for the English release of 1Q84.
Thus far in 2011 I’ve read three books. I finished Paul Auster’s Invisible, and read Girl Factory by Jim Krusoe on New Year’s Day. I read a few raves of the Auster book, and I’d put it in a very long list of his better books. Maybe not in the top five, but one not to miss if you like his writing. Girl Factory was excellent. After I finished it, I wrote to myself: “Highly entertaining, and the main character had a great voice. New favorite book of 2011, one day into it.” Two weeks later and I’ll stick to that opinion.
The book I just finished, while watching the Bears thrash the Seahawks, was Tana French’s Faithful Place. I can’t remember why I picked it up, but I probably should have known by the style of the dust jacket that it wouldn’t be quite my taste. It’s in the crime genre, and was a little too filled with the stock and trade of that category for me. Even so, the characters are spectacularly well fleshed out, and the sense of place was great. I don’t know anything about the lower class rowhouses of Dublin where the action takes place, but I had no trouble filling the blanks from her detailed descriptions.
Anyway, it wasn’t really my thing, but if you enjoy literate crime fiction, this is a book I can recommend.
I took Friday off from work and brewed my first batch of beer in quite a long time. It’s a brown porter named Crazy Kittens Porter. As should be obvious, it’s named after our three crazy kittens Caslon, Tallys and Jenson, pictured on the right. This time around I developed the recipe using the BrewPal iPhone app, trusting all the measurements and temperatures to the app. We’ll see how well it does. My favorite part of the app is the “style” tab, which shows you what styles your recipe conforms to and to what degree.
Normally I do everything out in the red cabin, but I had the wood stove cranking so I heated the strike and spare water on the wood stove and drained the mash in the kitchen (shown below). It was nice to be able to do that stuff in the house and to avoid burning fossil fuels for the wort production. As usual, I boiled and chilled the wort outside and set the fermenter in the old fridge out in the red cabin. It’s bubbling away now.
I plan to brew another batch of Devil Dog on top of the yeast cake from this batch. This is an excellent way to save some money on yeast, and the second batch normally gets a very explosive start from the massive population of healthy yeast.
We’ve been wanting to let the kittens into the rest of the house for several weeks now, but when we got close to letting them downstairs we realized they could get into all sorts of trouble in the utility area in the bathroom where the water heater, pump, and washing machine are. Worse, if they got in there, they could climb around behind the shower and tub surround and we’d have no way of getting them out.
So I built the doors you can see in the photo. They’re made from clear pine. I’d originally planned on using “pocket-screw technology,” on the doors, but when driving the pocket screws from the back of the rails into the styles, they cracked the styles. I wound up using glue and dowels instead, and they seem solid. I was a little worried because the doors were so large, but they’re flat and slide easily in the tracks I made.
The image looks a little warped because it's a series of photos that are joined together using the AutoStitch iPhone app. It's a pretty good alternative when you don't have a wide angle lens.
Today was the first day the kittens came downstairs (except once when Jenson escaped), and things seemed to go well. Nika and Piper have been spending nights with all of us, so they’re used to the kittens. Buddy and Deuce mostly seemed afraid. Koidern and Kiva were both very interested, and spent the whole time cautiously following the kittens around. After an hour or so we put the kittens back upstairs to let everyone relax. I opened up the gates again this afternoon and captured this video of Kiva’s interaction with Tallys (and a little of Jenson). Tallys is the one rolling around on the floor in front of the heater, seemingly trying to play with Kiva’s feet.
The music (which was playing on the stereo as I recorded the video on my iPhone) is from Four Tet's latest record.