Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tail, Toes and Tongue Tuesday

 Tail
 Toes (you may need to biggify to see those coffee bean toes sticking out from his balding leg)
 Tongue...that grass is tasty!
The End

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mancats Recycle - a video

video
Devon and his brothers were able to go out and enjoy the beautiful weather we were having this weekend.  Devon has discovered a new love...recycling, or at least the recycling can!  Enjoy...we've always said, Devon is the craziest of them all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two on Tuesday

Devon and Smokey have taken over the chair!  Do you see another pair of black cats in the background?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mancats wear collars

Some of the mancats in the house are now wearing collars.  Smokey started wearing his special collar in October...
 It took him a while to get the hang of it...his collar has a magnet on the front, and it opens the door into the cage where his special food is kept. 
 Smokey needs to gain weight, but a certain orange boy in the house does not!  This was the only way we could guarantee that Tanner could not get inside to eat the higher calorie food. 
 It took Smokey about a month to really get the hang of the door...now he goes in and out like a champ!  We still need to help him remember to eat several times a day...but if you take him to the room, he goes right on in.  Smokey now weighs 9 pounds.  He had lost down to 8.4 in December, so we are pleased with his progress.  We did have to start him back on his anti-anxiety meds too...Smokey is a worrier, and stresses over things internally.  This has helped him to not worry, and just enjoy life.  He is very laid back now, and we can see the true Smokey personality!

Some of you with older cats may be experiencing this same problem...weight loss, forgetting to eat, not wanting dry food, etc...With Smokey, we simply take him to the cage several times a day to help him remember to eat.  We serve high calorie canned food (AD, Authority, ProPlan, etc...).  Dry food is more calorie dense, but he isn't loving on that right now, so we grind it to a powder and add it to the canned food, with some extra water.  There is also a bowl a dry in the cage, so if he wants it, it is there.

In early December we used a couple of appetite stimulants on him, and they helped him to remember that he was hungry and should eat.  Since going back on the anti-anxiety meds, we haven't had to use the appetite stimulants...so we are thankful.
 Tanner is wearing a special collar of a different kind...his is a Calming Collar.  It contains pheromones and I hope it will help him not be so nervous.  I put it on last night, and he is doing well.  It was a big heavy at first, but once he got used to it, he was a snuggle bug.  This morning, he went over to Pirate and bopped him, and simply walked away...while I don't condone bullying, this is an improvement.  Normally, Tanner would bop Pirate, and then get all nervous and squeal like Pirate was attacking him!  So if this collar helps him to feel brave then that is great!  I want my boys to feel comfortable at home, and I hope this will help Tanner.

Has anyone else tried the Calming Collar?  Have you seen a difference, or felt like it was helping?
Devon is just laughing at everyone else because he doesn't have to wear a collar!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday in the Garden

Today, Tanner will show us around the garden...we have had a few nice days and the boys have been able to get outside for short bits...highly supervised of course.
 Tanner beside the pole for some of the bird feeders...poor sad hydrangea is looking rough this winter...it will perk up when then weather turns warm.  Even the grass has turned brown...
Tanner beside another bird feeder pole, and another dried up, dead looking plant...hoping this one will come back in the spring too.
video

At least one plant is still living...Tanner was very excited about this...fresh Nip! It is important to keep it well pruned...Tanner demonstrates his technique for you all...Watch and learn!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tummy Tuesday

Devon and his brothers enjoyed having a long weekend with mom home.  We had scrapbookers over on Friday night and all day Saturday, but the boys still got lots of attention!  Sunday and Monday were snuggle days.  The boys even braved the cold on Monday for a bit of outdoor time...it was a great weekend!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tokyo

We arrived back in Tokyo on Christmas day.  We were staying in the Asakusa area.  There is a famous temple here called Sensoji.  Once Christmas was over, the city quickly started transforming decorations for the New Year...
 Marketplace at Asakusa, decorated for the New Year.  A lot of shops started having shorter hours, or not being open at all.  In a way that was nice, because it reduced the number of people walking around...
 We met this friendly fella at Sensoji...he was enjoying the pets!  I was surprised by the lack of cat sitings this trip.  I suppose they were hiding out due to the cold weather. 
 The three of us (I am in the black coat/brown pants) at Sensoji...one of the many New Year decorations...notice all the Sake barrels in the background.  They will open these and serve people at midnight!
 Yuzu was in season while we were there, and we loved all the yuzu products, such as cakes, drinks, bath salts, etc...It is a citrus, and can be rather strong in flavor.  A cross between a lemon and an orange.
 Vending machines are everywhere in Japan...you are never at a loss for something to drink or eat.  The nice thing about them is they serve hot and cold bottled drinks.  A hot tea while walking around on a cold day hits the spot!
 The main gate heading towards Sensoji...This temple will be packed on New Years Eve...since our hotel was close by, we opted to move to another part of town on the 30th to avoid the crowds and noise.  We moved to an area of town called Shinjuku. 
 The new sky tree in Asakusa...it will be taller than the Tokyo Tower when finished.  I believe it will open in either March or April of this year.
 Hachiko the dog that waited for his master at the train station...The statue is in Shibuya.  Shibuya is the home of the busiest Starbucks in the world!!
 This is another area of Tokyo called Ikebukuro...it is a lively area and we spent our last day here.  The New Year decorations were still up, and most folks were off work, so it was rather busy. 
At the Tokyo Hands store, there is a pet store on the top floor.  In this particular one, you can also pay to go in and play with the kitties.  We did not do that, as we would be home the next day to see our own kitties.  This mascot came out though and we played a game with him for a prize.  I bought several toys for the boys in this store...some have been a big hit, others a flop, but that's ok :)

Well, we hope you have enjoyed this quick tour of Japan...the boys will be posting next week :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sapporo

We arrived in Sapporo on December 22nd and were immediately hit with a snow storm.  It wasn't a big one for the people of Sapporo, but for those of us from North Carolina, it was a big deal!  We had fun and were thankful the city didn't shut down like our town would have!
 We have now met up with another lady and her son as well...here are my two original travel mates, and the son of our other friend enjoying the snow.  We walked over to the convenience store to grab some snacks after lunch.
 A common site at intersections was these containers with packets of a salt mixture.  If you felt the sidewalk was slick, you could use some to help keep it safe for everyone.  What a neat idea!
 The next day, we went to the site of the Winter Olympics in 1972...the ski jump!  It was very cool to see, and I was shocked at how tall the jump was!  I don't know why one day you'd wake up and decide to jump!
 Another view...there is a chair lift going up the left hand side...the wind was blowing pretty strong, so it was not working...
 We waited in the museum/cafe/gift shop for a while to see if the wind would die down enough for it to run, but it did not.  We enjoyed yummy soft cream though.  Hokkaido is known for dairy, and their soft cream is delicious!
 We took the bus back down the mountain and found a shrine.  This is a Shinto shrine, and the others we've seen thus far have been Buddhist.  I am not sure the true differences, and other than not seeing a statue of a Buddha, I could not tell a difference.
 Of course they have the cute lanterns that I love so much...it was neat to see them in the snow.  You may need to biggify, but the trees in the background are braced up...many in the town were like this, so we figured it was to protect against the weight of the snow over the winter.  Some of you in the northern climates may see similar things in your area, but this was new to us.
 The actual shrine...there was a wedding party about to come out, hence the photographer.
 Lunch the next day, and we tried the melon soda...it is quite green and quite delicious!
 Venturing around Sapporo more...the clocktower is a recommended site...it was smaller than I was expecting.
 For Christmas, the tradition is to eat KFC, sushi, and strawberry shortcake...here are some Christmas cakes for sale...
The last day in Sapporo, Christmas Day, we went to Odori park, and went up in the tv tower.  This picture shows the park from the tower.  At night it is all lit up with pretty lights!  Right now, due to the earthquake and tsunami, the country is conserving energy where they can, so the illumination area is only about half the size and density from previous years, according to the taxi driver.  This is talso the area where the snow festival will take place in February. 

We flew back to Tokyo this day, so that's where we'll be tomorrow...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kyoto

After spending the morning in Kobe, we grabbed a Bento box, ate lunch on the train and headed to Kyoto...the ride was about 1 hour.
 Once in Kyoto, we headed off to one of our favorite temples, Kiyomizu-deru.  You need to take the city bus to the area, and then walk a ways to get to the temple.  Thankfully, there are plenty of things to see along the way...like this old gate.  I love the mix of old and new that you find in Japan.
 Before you get to the temple, there is a huge hill to climb...the Japanese were smart, and put shops and restaurants all along this hill...we stopped often for a rest and snack!  This gate is the first thing you see when you make it up the hill...it is a welcomed site!
 Smaller buildings around the main temple...I love the roof lines and the small lanterns...
 There are quite a few buildings and structures that make up this temple...this building holds a bell...
 In the background you can see that part of the temple is under construction.  They cover things completely to do renovations...The color of the buildings is called Vermillion.  It is supposed to ward off evil spirits in the night.

                                
 Handwashing is an important step at temples...neat ornate fountains are stationed at the entrance to the more important buildings.  Be warned though...the water is VERY COLD!!
 Another lantern...and you can see the construction in the background...
 Beautiful blooming trees...
 This temple is built on the side of a hill...the structure is amazing...the color is a bit weird because the sun was setting...
 You walk down the other side of the hill and find these fountains...they are for drinking and luck.  Each stream is for something different, like good grades, health, wealth, etc...We bought a cup to use to drink from, and decided to try them all :)  Extra luck can't be bad, now can it?
Continuing our journey to the front of the temple, and trying to find those shops we passed on the way up...I turned around and saw part of the pagoda extending above the trees...so pretty.

This temple, and some shopping are all we did in Kyoto this time...we were only there a few hours.  After dinner, we boarded the train and headed back to our hotel in Osaka.  The next day, we had an early flight to Sapporo, so that's where we'll be tomorrow...stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Osaka, Nara and Kobe

The next day, we took the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Osaka.  We had a pass and could use the trains as much as we wanted for 7 days.  On the way to Osaka, we passed Mount Fuji. 
 Mount Fuji from the train windows...the weather cooperated with us!  We arrived in Osaka, and checked into the hotel.  Then it was off to the town of Nara...
 In Nara, we fed the deer...they are friendly and sacred animals here.  We all enjoyed feeding them...except when they would bite you because you weren't fast enough handing out the crackers!!
 Todaiji Temple is one of the largest wooden structures in the world.  It was neat to see, and we enjoyed touring around inside.  We were fortunate that very few people were there, so we could take our time.
 Inside the temple is a large Buddha statue...
 They were starting a renovation project and needed funding...you could purchase a roof tile for 1000yen (about $10) and paint a message on it...this is my tile.
 After Nara, we went back to Osaka and found dinner.  This noodle shop is just awesome!!  It is in an area of town called Namba, and we loved it! 
 The next morning we went to Kobe to visit a cat store we had found on the previous trip to Japan in 2008.  We were excited it was still there...once again, we stimulated the economy :)
Waiting outside until the cat store opened, we enjoyed these pretty gardens...I was surprised at some of the flowers that were still blooming.  Many that would have long stopped for the winter back home, were still going strong.  The weather seemed just as cold as back home, so I don't know what the difference would be.

Tomorrow we'll visit Kyoto...we hope you are enjoying these photos.