Hong Kong Calico

Written by Michael LaRocca

Continued from page 1

When I edited her web page, she tried very hard to help. She hit all kinds of buttons, opening and closing windows and creating desktop shortcuts. Finally, she realized that it happened because she was pushingrepparttar buttons. She cocked her head to one side, fascinated. She looked at me, then back atrepparttar 147563 screen. She understood what was happening, but she's still working on why. I have faith in her.

Once she saw a photo of some other cat onrepparttar 147564 screen. She batted at it for two or three minutes, claws out. It was worse thanrepparttar 147565 funnel web spider. I must turn offrepparttar 147566 computer when I'm not using it because Picasso likes to log ontorepparttar 147567 Internet. Seriously.

Sometimes I wake up inrepparttar 147568 middle ofrepparttar 147569 night with a stomach pain, but that's just her pouncing on it again. Inrepparttar 147570 next second, she kisses my forehead or sniffs my eyelashes again. She doesn't pounce on my wife's stomach. No, she prefers my wife's chest. Her claws have gotten quite sharp recently.

We no longer need an alarm clock. Picasso sneaks intorepparttar 147571 bedroom, withrepparttar 147572 stealth of a born hunter, sticks her mouth directly inrepparttar 147573 closest ear, and lets loose with a blood-curdling MEEEEEOOOWWRRRRRRRR!!! Convinced that we're awake, she returns torepparttar 147574 couch and sleeps contentedly.

One thing aboutrepparttar 147575 tri-colored Picasso alarm clock, however, is that she doesn't know when we want to get up. She visits at midnight, 1, 2, 3, etc. She also doesn't bother to checkrepparttar 147576 calendar.

As of late, she's become a more discriminating alarm clock. She realizes that nothing wakes me up, so she concentrates her efforts on my wife. Atrepparttar 147577 moment, my wife is responding by imitating me and lying unmoving. It's working, but one never knows for how long.

Apparently, Picasso feels that we don't need sleep anyway. Either that, or we're simply deaf. We never know when we'll hear things crashing inrepparttar 147578 living room inrepparttar 147579 middle ofrepparttar 147580 night, or perhaps some strange howling.

By now you may be wondering why I'd keep such an insane cat. It's because we love each other.

Does your cat wait for you to wake up inrepparttar 147581 morning so she can say hello? Does she run torepparttar 147582 door and talk to you when you return from work or an errand? Does she know your schedule intimately, adjusting her sleeping habits to wake up and stare atrepparttar 147583 door at lunchtime, waiting for you to pop in for a quick visit? Picasso does.

She often visits me when I'm reading in bed, rubbing and purring and saying, "I love you, Daddy." When I'm working atrepparttar 147584 keyboard, she watches contentedly from a nearby perch. She always follows me or my wife aroundrepparttar 147585 apartment when we cook or clean or whatever because she loves to watch us do stuff.

Every cat I've owned has run as far away from me as possible when I cleanrepparttar 147586 litter box. Picasso supervises. As soon as I'm done she gives it an inspection and a test drive, but that's not unusual for a cat.

"Being a cat means never saying you're sorry." I never met a cat who'd disagree with this statement, until Picasso. If I scold her for something, most ofrepparttar 147587 time she genuinely apologizes. She might do it again a week or an hour later, but she just can't help herself.

Naturally she has mellowed with adulthood, and she was never very bad to begin with. She's an angel at least 90% ofrepparttar 147588 time. As forrepparttar 147589 rest, we all have to blow off some steam sometimes. Life with Picasso is never boring.

Shortly after her arrival, I bought her a scratching post. She absolutely loved it. But as she grew older, and longer, it became too small. It's seventeen inches tall, perhaps acceptable for a kitten, but not an adult. A cat really needs to stretch her body to its full length when she's sharpening her claws.

Back inrepparttar 147590 United States, this would have been simple enough. Go torepparttar 147591 pet store and buy a bigger one, right? Not in Hong Kong. I had to find myself a pet store with an employee fluent in English, explain what I wanted, and order it from a catalog. It wasn't as difficult as it sounds, actually. I'm gettingrepparttar 147592 hang of Hong Kong now.

Picasso watched in fascination as I assembledrepparttar 147593 fifty-two-inch monstrosity, with four perches of varying heights and sizes. The longest ofrepparttar 147594 three posts, one that rises fromrepparttar 147595 floor, is a whopping thirty-two inches fromrepparttar 147596 ground.

As I completedrepparttar 147597 construction, I discovered that one ofrepparttar 147598 perches had a hole missing. I didn't have a drill. I couldn't simply take it torepparttar 147599 store for a spare part because it was imported fromrepparttar 147600 UK. Plus, repackaging it at this stage and returning torepparttar 147601 store would have been cruel to Picasso.

I "drilled"repparttar 147602 hole with a hammer, some nails and a screwdriver. When I finishedrepparttar 147603 job, exhausted and sweaty, Picasso ignoredrepparttar 147604 post in favor ofrepparttar 147605 empty box. She spent days sleeping in that box. Now it's lined with towels, plus allrepparttar 147606 stray paper balls and rubber bands she's found to stash in it, and it serves as her bed. It's beneathrepparttar 147607 dining room table, giving her a four-poster bed.

Finally she discoveredrepparttar 147608 scratching post. She leaped atop it, putting her at eye level with me, and gave me a grateful meow and a kiss. She loves it. She can sit on a perch and look over my shoulder as I type this.

Do you remember what I said before about her claws getting quite sharp recently? This is why. But aside from an occasional attack onrepparttar 147609 feet beneathrepparttar 147610 blankets, Picasso usually keeps them to herself.

There are two problems with writing about Picasso. The first problem is, it becomes obsolete so quickly. The second problem is, I don't know when to shut up. I think I'll just do that now.

You may rest assured that Picasso will be living with us for a long time to come. We're all much happier this way.

Picasso's been with us through five years, two provinces, three cities, and seven Chinese flats. We currently reside in Hangzhou, where I bicycle around on quests for tuna and cat litter while Picasso stays home being beautiful. She's the star of my free weekly newswletter, WHO MOVED MY RICE?, http://www.chinarice.org Also, she has a much bigger scratching post now.

Secret Agent Man

Written by Michael LaRocca

Continued from page 1

We skip ahead to when I'm waiting forrepparttar taxi. I called him maybe one minute before I was ready to go. I said, "I'm ready to leaverepparttar 147528 SPCA." After a pause, I addedrepparttar 147529 code phrase "Cat daughter." Guess what he did? You guessed it... he laughed. "Ten minutes," he told me.

I went outside to wait. Taxis passed by me frequently, trying to give me a ride. With each taxi, I looked in atrepparttar 147530 driver, unsure if I'd recognize my new best friend, then waved him by. As he passed, I could finally see byrepparttar 147531 license number onrepparttar 147532 back that I was correct. I supposed -- I hoped -- if I did try to wave my guy by, he'd just ignore me and stop anyway.

Twelve minutes later, a taxi slowed to a stop beside me, but I knew it wasn't my guy. Then another taxi came barreling up behind this one, Out of Service sign onrepparttar 147533 windshield, honking his horn and flashing his flashers. Immediately I knew. My buddy. He was laughing and smiling as he stopped.

He pointed atrepparttar 147534 cat carrier. "Is she okay?"


He nodded vigorously. "Good, good. How much?"

"Sixty dollars." (That was about eight US dollars.)

"Sixty," he repeated.

"Yes. She only needed a shot."

"Ah, good. She is good cat."

We drove aroundrepparttar 147535 looping roads that lead out of Wan Chai. Then he spoke again.

"I used to live here. Now I live in Sha Tin." Sha Tin is where he'd picked me up. "I get up early every morning. Very early. I live in Sha Tin six years. Your home?"


"How long?"

"A year."

"Oh." He nodded approval. "Very good, Sha Tin. Very nice." By now we were moving rapidly downrepparttar 147536 freeway, away from Wan Chai and toward Sha Tin. He pointed torepparttar 147537 traffic going into Wan Chai. It was bumper to bumper. "Too much traffic."

"Yes." It seems he was using a lot more words than I was, doesn't it?

I finally noticedrepparttar 147538 color of his hair. In my early-morning fog, I had it in my mind that it was gray. It would be consistent withrepparttar 147539 lines of age in his face. But looking atrepparttar 147540 back of his head onrepparttar 147541 way home, I saw that it was a brown-orange color. Dyed. In fact, it even matched one of Picasso's colors. Her other two colors are black and white.

Finally, Sha Tin. He pointed at some buildings, aroundrepparttar 147542 corner from my own apartment complex. "My home. Six years, my home. Is very nice. Wan Chai, no good. Hong Kong, no good. Sha Tin, very good."

We didn't need more English for me to know why he felt that way, which is good because he probably didn't know it. Hong Kong's reputation is one of crowds and traffic andrepparttar 147543 hustle and bustle. Butrepparttar 147544 fact is, that's only inrepparttar 147545 central areas. Out in Sha Tin, we still haverepparttar 147546 high-rise buildings, but it's not nearly so crowded. It's much more relaxed. We even have a park or two, and some very friendly cab drivers.

So what's my point?

Is it that an American, living in Hong Kong and speaking only English, is so desperate for human contact that even a conversation with a cab driver warrants publication?

No, not at all.

It's that people are people everywhere, and that you never know when a total stranger will become a friend, even if it's only for one morning.

Plus, many of us love cats.

Picasso's been with us through five years, two provinces, three cities, and seven Chinese flats. We currently reside in Hangzhou, where I bicycle around on quests for tuna and cat litter while Picasso stays home being beautiful. She's the star of my free weekly newswletter, WHO MOVED MY RICE?, http://www.chinarice.org Also, she has a much bigger scratching post now.

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