Friday, 24 March 2017

There Is Now A Cat In My Family

I always thought of myself strictly as a dog person. I never thought that my family would own a cat. This was mostly due to the fact that we thought that my Dad was allergic to cats since he used to be allergic to several animals. He was allergic to the guinea pig that we had years ago and we didn't figure it out until the guinea pig died and my Dad's allergy symptoms and asthma symptoms decreased (we later tested him out with a skinny pig/hairless guinea pig in a pet shop but he even reacted to that!). He has always been okay with all of the other pets that we've had like dogs, rabbits, birds, and hamsters. He got allergy shots (never finished them but got enough of them to manage most of the allergies) when he was younger. I guess that's why he's okay with a lot of pets. That and the exposure that he's had since we have always lived with several pets at once. But we have still never owned a cat because we thought that he was still allergic to them. He always seemed fine, however, with the cats at my aunt and great-aunt's house. I always liked the cats at their house but I kept my strict dog person label because I had accepted that my family would never have one. I never even thought that I'd have a cat when I was older. I just really love dogs since I have had them for all of my life.

This year, my Mom suddenly seemed interested in visiting cats in adoption centres and I soon found out why. Not only was she thinking about volunteering at one, but she was also thinking about actually fostering a cat. We visited three different adoption centres, visiting two of them several times. I opened myself up to the idea of having a cat. It would be fun! Cats are different from dogs. They don't require as much attention and they just do their own thing. They aren't as rough as dogs and they can be very cuddly. I became quite excited but I couldn't get my hopes up because we still didn't know if my Dad's allergies would act up and there was also the fact that my Mom was thinking of fostering a cat which meant that it would go to another home if someone wanted to adopt it. I'll tell you the truth, I didn't think that I could deal with fostering a cat. I think anyone that fosters pets is absolutely amazing because a lot of people will actually foster several pets (whether they be dogs or cats) at a time, giving them a loving and caring home until they can be adopted. But I get really attached to my pets. Fostering a cat would mean that there was a possibility that the cat would be given away and then I would be sad. I know that people are probably thinking "Well, you just have to get used to that if you choose to foster a pet." I understand this. But when I get a pet, it becomes family. And having to give it away would be really hard. We once had a horse that we had to sell to someone else because he was not trained enough for us to handle him but that wasn't hard because I never got attached to him enough. Of course I loved him, but we didn't spend a ton of extra time with him because he wasn't safe enough to ride and I was kind of scared because I didn't have a lot of experience with horses (my Mom was the one who had experience with horses).

We didn't end up fostering a cat, though, because we adopted one! My Mom met a really nice tuxedo cat named Pingu one time when she was visiting an adoption centre and, after looking up more information about him through the online posting that the adoption centre put on the internet for each of their cats, she wanted to go back to see him with all of us. He was found in one of the neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Sudbury and ended up in the animal shelter for a few weeks before ending up at the adoption centre. My Mom told me that they keep the animals at the shelter for a few weeks just in case the animal escaped from a home and has owners who come looking for them. It gives the possible owners a chance to claim back their pet. If nobody claims the pet, then they end up in an adoption shelter. Pingu was neutered and had his shots updated before going to the adoption centre. When we met him, we all loved him. He was such a sweetheart. We could tell that he was nervous but he let us pick him up and hold him without any kind of struggle. We got my Dad to hold him to test him out and my Dad was fine! If my Dad would have reacted, it would have been instant. We decided to adopt him. It was March 13th. We bought a starter kit but we couldn't bring Pingu home until the next day, March 14th, since the day that we adopted him was just too busy for us. We took advantage of this time by buying cat supplies, preparing the downstairs bathroom for him, and I read a booklet about caring for cats. We decided that we would keep the name given to him at the adoption centre because Pingu was the name of a claymotion TV show about a penguin that my brother and I used to watch as kids and we thought it was such a cute name.

When we brought him home the next day, we put him in the downstairs bathroom and kept him there for the next few days. He had everything he needed: food, water, litter box, blankets, scratching post/tree, and toys. There is even a window in that bathroom that has a ledge so he can sit and look outside. We wanted him to adjust to his litter box and food and water dishes in his new home. We didn't want to stress him out with a house that has a main floor and a basement plus several other pets. We would visit him in the bathroom which is now his bathroom. He was so sweet when we'd visit him. If we were sitting, he would often walk over to us and climb up into our laps to cuddle. After a few days, we started letting him out for short amounts of time to let him start to explore a bit. He started with the basement and my Mom started bringing him upstairs, with him eventually going upstairs on his own. He got to meet our other pets: our dog, our rabbit, our birds, and our fish. Our dog was very interested in Pingu but Pingu would hiss at him or swat at him if he got too close. Our rabbit was scared of Pingu. The first time he saw him, our rabbit was in his own cage but he was still scared and he stomped. One time, our rabbit was out hopping around the living room and when he saw the cat he became frightened and raced back to his cage. Our pets still all have to get adjusted to Pingu and Pingu still needs to get used to our other pets but we see little signs of all of them starting to adjust to each other.

So far, Pingu has really been adjusting to our house. We are now seeing his curious, playful side. He loves exploring. He doesn't really like playing with little balls or little plush toys but he loves chasing the light from a laser pointer and he also enjoys stealing larger stuffed animals or pieces of clothing to play with. He is also quite vocal. He often meows while he's walking around. He also meows every time we pick him up as if he is protesting but he never bites us or scratches us. When he's exploring, he prefers to cuddle by his own choice. If we ignore him and let him do his own thing while he's touring the house, he'll sometimes jump up onto our laps to crawl up and rest. Sometimes he'll just jump up onto an empty chair or the couch to curl up for a nap. He has his playful times and his nap times, just like our dog and rabbit. He has his own little personality and it's ending up to be very cute. I have fallen in love with this cat, just like I have with all of my pets, and he has become a part of our family. I can now say that I am both a dog and a cat person (as well as a rabbit person). Having a cat, if only for a few weeks so far, has shown me how amazing these animals are. Now, hopefully his presence will keep the mice out of the house too.


Friday, 10 March 2017

My Indoor Plants

I love plants. They are peaceful. They are relaxing. They are alive. I have several plants that I have had for a few years now. Not all of the plants that I have owned have survived. Some died horrible deaths like my red moon cactus that didn't get enough sunlight and ended up rotting and simply falling down. I still feel bad about that one. Other plants just weren't doing that well inside and had to be planted outside. But I am proud of my plants that have survived indoors. They are mostly plants that are easy to take care of but I am still happy that I have been able to keep them alive and in good health. Some of these plants even have little stories attached to them. Let me tell you a bit about them.


I bought my twisted bamboo at IKEA for $5 several years ago. The next time we went to IKEA, I bought the straight bamboo for $1 because I loved my first bamboo so much. The straight bamboo used to be taller but I once had it in an area where it didn't get enough sunlight and some of the top dried up and had to be cut off. Both of them look much cleaner and more bare now because I recently did some major trimming, especially on the twisted one. Bamboo is really easy to take care of since all they need is a little bit of sunlight (just make sure that it is definitely getting some sunlight) and water in the vase. I usually put enough water to last it a while and I just refill it when needed. It is such a relaxing plant to look at and it is quite beautiful too. Shoots have grown from these plants and I have trimmed them off to try and grow more bamboo but they never thicken.

Golden Ball Cactus & Blue Candle Cactus:

I bought these two little guys on sale for $2 each at Canadian Tire a few years ago and they are doing pretty good. I especially love the breed names. It makes them seem less scary (because any cactus with thorns is obviously scary, right?). I will admit that I actually did get pricked by one of these little things. Can you guess which one? You'd think that it would the Blue Candle cactus, the one with the longer thorns, the one that you wouldn't want to mess with... but it was actually the Golden Ball cactus. Yes, the one covered in tiny little thorns. Those thorns may look tiny, but they really hurt if they get stuck in your wrist when you are trying to pull down the handle to lock up your window and your wrist comes down on the cactus that is sitting on the window sill. I tried to take the thorns out with tweezers but that hurt so I ended up just brushing them off and that got all of them out painlessly. Lesson learned. They are pretty easy to take care of. You just have to make sure that they get enough sunlight otherwise they will rot like my poor red moon cactus. They don't need a whole lot of watering (they originally come from hot locations, after all) so I just water them once in a while, usually when I water my other plants since I don't water them a whole lot either.

Aloe Vera:

I also bought this beauty on sale (can't remember the price) at Canadian Tire at the same time that I bought the cacti. It actually used to be much smaller but it has grown quite a bit since I got it. As it grew, I kept transferring it to a larger pot (I think it's on its 3rd pot now) and it kept growing. Right now, it's leaning to one side because I assume it was reaching for the sunlight so I am currently trying to get it to lean to the other side to straighten it out a bit by leaning it against a cup to hold it up and also by leaving it leaning away from the sun so that it will hopefully try to grow in the other direction to face the sun. It really likes water and yet I still don't water it as much as I should. I want it to grow really big so that I will have a lot of aloe vera gel since the gel is really handy. Also, aloe vera plants are just beautiful and interesting to look at.

Christmas Cactus:

This Christmas cactus is very special. The branches actually fell off of the larger Christmas cactus that belonged to my great-grandmother. This main Christmas cactus is somewhere around 30 years old now and resides in my family's house since my great-grandmother passed away in the late 90's. I put the branches in water until they grew their own roots and then planted them in this pot of soil. The branches continue to grow and they flower a few times a year. The Christmas cactus is actually supposed to flower around Christmas and Easter but that doesn't always happen. It depends on how you care for it. You actually have to "neglect" it for a while by keeping it in a shady spot and letting the soil dry out and then water it to get it to flower. So, you could do that a while before Christmas and then again a while before Easter to get it to flower around those times. You just have to time it right, I guess. You can see a photo of it with flowers at the top of this post. These plants are pretty tough. Our main cactus has been knocked over so many times (since the pot is in a tall metal rod stand) and has lost a lot of branches but it is still living.


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror (Chris Priestley)

I was intrigued by Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror (part of the Tales of Terror series) by Chris Priestley when I saw it at a library book sale and decided to buy it. The first thing that caught my eye was the cover of the book. I love the illustrations! Such creepiness but at the same time, there is some innocence to it. Once I read the description on the back, I knew that this was a story that I wanted to read. A young boy named Edgar visits his Uncle Montague to listen to his stories. His Uncle tells him several scary stories and Edgar realizes that objects from these stories are in his Uncle's house. Weird things also happen while Edgar is at his Uncle's house and eventually he learns that his Uncle has a part in a scary story that brings all of the scary stories together.

This is a children's novel and you can tell that it is geared towards children but it is still very good. I think that some of the stories might even be a bit too scary for some children, but children are exposed to a lot nowadays so who knows if they would actually be scared. I found that the first two stories had very predictable endings and weren't very scary or disturbing but the third story and the rest after that were actually kind of scary. They made you ask yourself what you would do in that situation or at least made you imagine yourself in that situation and I found myself feeling uncomfortable. Most of the stories expressed the same message: If you are bad, bad things will happen to you. It's something that we as know as karma.

I loved how Edgar and his Uncle Montague are sitting in front of a fireplace and drinking tea during the storytelling. It made me think of the act of telling ghost stories around a campfire. It was interesting to also see a sort of "break" after each story where Edgar and Uncle Montague chat a bit about the story or strange things happen in and around the house. Instead of simply having your own reactions to the stories, you are able to see how a fictional character would react to them. You also get glimpses into all of the stories eventually coming together in the end.

For a lot of the stories, it felt like the ending was too abrupt. It felt like the story wasn't completely over even though it was for the purpose of telling that major scary part of the character's life. In the case of some stories, the character didn't die like they did in the other stories so it actually wasn't over for them. The characters would have continued on in the state that the scary situation put them in. I just found that the stories could have each continued a little bit past their endings if the character was technically still alive. I even found the final ending to be a bit disappointing. Uncle Montague walks away with the children, who are the children that died in the stories and who were the ones that actually told him all of the stories that he told to Edgar. He must look after these children forever as his punishment for being a bad person in the past. Edgar walks back home, realizing that the boring life that he is going back to is actually the kind of life that he yearns for right now after finding out about Uncle Montague's secret. It seems as though Edgar is never going to visit Uncle Montague again. I guess I would be scared if I was in Edgar's shoes but I myself would be intrigued and want to spend more time with Uncle Montague because his life is quite interesting and he seems to have changed from the bad person that he used to be. Why would I want to go back to a boring life if I could have some part in a more interesting one? I think Edgar should have been more open-minded.

Illustration by David Roberts on page 19 of Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

I can definitely imagine this book being animated into some kind of film using the same style as the illustrations. I could imagine Tim Burton directing it and Vincent Price giving his voice to Uncle Montague, even though Mr. Price unfortunately passed away in 1993. His voice would have been perfect! The illustrations are so well done that you can imagine them moving as you look at them. I think it's due to all of the amazing etching work. The above photo is my favourite illustration in the book, mostly because I love tea and fireplaces but also because it's a good one for imagining it animated. I can see the movement of Edgar bringing the tea cup to his lips and the movement of the flames with the sound of the fire crackling. I can also imagine the branches on the walls moving while Edgar listens to his Uncle, too absorbed in his stories to notice. There is no mention in the book of the branches on the walls moving (there's not even any mention of branches being on the walls) but I feel that it would add even more spookiness if the book was ever animated.


Monday, 6 March 2017

People Help The People

I was listening to Birdy's cover of Cherry Ghost's song "People Help The People", a cover which I absolutely adore because of the beautiful piano in it, and it got me thinking about the world. My favourite lyrics are in the chorus: "People help the people/ And if you're homesick/ Give me your hand and I'll hold it." It's all about being kind to one another. Now, it sounds like the song is talking about specific people like those less fortunate but the messages in the song can be applied to the world as a whole. Some other lyrics are "God knows what is hiding in this world of little consequence/ Behind the tears, inside the lies/ A thousand slowly dying sunsets." I think that these specific lyrics really speak because so much is happening in the world these days and it seems like people aren't thinking about how it affects everyone. People seem to just want to do whatever they want. They think of themselves. They have certain opinions, and we're all allowed to have our own opinions about things, but do we really want to hurt people because of the way that we think about things?

People fight each other. They hurt each other. And it's all because they think a certain way or they are a certain way and they don't like things that are different from them. It seems like if someone doesn't like someone else for whatever reason, they think that they don't have to show that person respect. The thing is, if the world was that way, then no one would be shown any respect because everyone is different in some way and there are some differences that we have that other people don't like. Differences are what make this world amazing. If everyone was the same, life wouldn't be as interesting. We need to be more accepting of differences and we need to be more kind to each other. A lot of problems could be solved or wouldn't even exist if we were just more kind to each other and showed each other more respect.

Lately, it feels like we're just going backwards into the past. We are seeing problems similar to those faced by the people who came before us. We are still seeing discrimination against all sorts of different types of people because of their race, religion, gender, sexuality, etc. It's 2017... shouldn't we be getting along with each other by now? Shouldn't we be accepting each other's differences, whatever they might be? People are being disrespectful towards people that they don't even know, just because that person is different from them in some way and they think that it's bad. Hate is not the answer to the world's problems and it certainly will not help us get anywhere closer to having a more peaceful world.

I'm proud to be Canadian and to live in Canada because my country is becoming more and more accepting of all sorts of different types of people, and we also tend to be friendly, but even my country still has some improvements to make. Every country has some people who are not as nice as the others and the whole world still needs to become more accepting of everyone and make some changes so that everyone can live peacefully.

I understand that animals fight and are territorial but we, as humans, have evolved and developed so much! Shouldn't we be past that? I always think: We all walk this Earth. Why don't we walk together? In other words, we share this Earth so why don't we live together in harmony? It doesn't take much. Just smiling more or thinking more before you speak can make a big difference. Accept others who are different from you and hopefully they will accept your differences in return. Be respectful. Treat others how you want to be treated. We are all human. We all share this Earth. Hopefully one day, we can all live together peacefully and celebrate our differences instead of hating them. Imagine how much better the world would be then!


Monday, 27 February 2017

Ramblings About Taking Breaks, Pursuing Your Passions, And Being Unique

I didn't publish any blog posts last week, even though I have been trying, and succeeding, to publish three posts every week. I was working on a post for Monday but it wasn't quite finished so I planned to finish it and publish it some time on Monday rather than rushing to finish it and schedule it to be published Monday morning. That didn't happen. A certain event happened and created a rough start to the week. I didn't worry about my blog. I decided to take a break and not post anything that week. Some other things happened in the same week and it was, overall, not the greatest week that I've had. I was glad that I took a break from my blog. It gave me some time to think about things. It gave me some time to write other blog posts. It gave me some time to just get things together and plan ahead a bit. I love blogging and I felt bad about missing a week of blogging and temporarily breaking my habit of blogging three times a week, but sometimes you just need to take a break.

We need to listen to our mind and body. I could have pushed myself to finish up some blog posts for the week but I did not feel up to it. I felt that I would become exhausted. I also felt that I might publish a blog post without the feeling of it being complete and just right. I decided, however, that I would only stop blogging for one week. In the past, I would stop blogging and think that I would just start the next week but it always kept becoming the next week and the next until I hadn't blogged for several months. I didn't want that to happen again. I love blogging because it gets me writing and as I continue blogging, my writing improves. I try to write longer blog posts. I try to let the words pour out. As I continue blogging, I get better and better at expanding on my ideas. I think that I need this right now. At a time when I'm still figuring things out, I need something to keep me moving forward.

Taking a break is a good idea when pushing yourself is a bad thing but continuing whatever it is that you're doing is a great thing too, as long as it is something that you love and want to pursue. You want to do things that are good for you as a person. You need to "follow your heart," so to speak. Don't push yourself to do something just because it's popular or because it's just "what you do" in life. Be your own person. Being different from other people makes life more interesting. Being different can make you stand out, and isn't that what we should be doing? I've seen so many blogs, websites, Youtube channels, social media accounts, etc. that are all so similar to each other that they don't stand out as much from each other. Be unique. Sure, you sometimes have to do the same thing as someone else in order to learn how to do it, but once you have the hang of it, be creative and let yourself shine.

Technology is a platform for us to be creative. We should use it in interesting ways that are different from how other people use it. We need to continue changing and shaping the way we use technology. We shouldn't just copy other people all of the time. We need to move forward. We need to advance. We need to create something that really stands out and makes people think differently about being creative. We need to be inspired by what has been created before and then create our own unique creations that inspire other people.

I thought that I was just going to make this post about the benefits of taking breaks but it has really moved further than that, and that's perfectly fine. It became something more than I expected. It became something better. And that actually connects with what I said about following your heart. I could have forced myself to stick to just the one topic, but I decided to let myself ramble on and let my heart speak about what I've been thinking about lately. Now I love this post more than before.