Natural Cat Toys or Feline Fun

Are you also owned by a cat? Do you let it outside? We are and we do. They … two of those irresistible feline creatures own us. We’re all in.  And they on occasion, either one or the other or arguably in concert commit heinous acts that are more acceptable if referred to simply as hunting. We are helpless or is that hapless?

If you also allow for their oft somewhat irritating mewling wishes to be let out into the great outdoors your feline overlord probably also exhibits similar borderline criminal habits and/or commits similar violent crimes.

Feline Hunter 1

Feline Hunter 1

Perhaps your pet felines’ victims are more typical, like slow birds, the odd butterfly or deaf&blind mice. Not ours, no. Although from the speed with which they race up into the  tree in the corner of our small back yard, you’d believe that they believe that this time they could really actually fuckin’ do it, catch one of them birds that is. But the birds always have the lats laugh/chirp. And fly away unscathed if a bit ruffled.

And lets not forget the one time not too long ago… I was enjoying my first of two Sunday morning coffees on the patio when I heard what my brain encyclopedia construed to be pathetic bird screeching noises, which in turn led me to turned towards the noise and to look and to believe for a brief moment in the very possible fact that ‘they’ had finally snagged one of their feathered and unsuspecting tormentors.

My brain had been wrong that early morning, very wrong. That while it was true that one of the feline hunters had indeed snagged some prey, it was not a wee bird, nope. It was a mouse. And that mouse was reacting rather violently to being disturbed by a cat. Loudly too may I add. The funny thing was that said cat became a bit clumsy and more to it, even surprised I think judging by her reactions to/by the reactions of said mouse. So surprised in fact that  any skill connected to such a speedy catch simply disappeared and cat appeared to fumble about even more clumsily while the vociferous mouse employed every trick in its power and rapidly extricated itself from clumsy cat and raced for the safety ofsome hole in the ground, leaving a slightly bewildered feline scratching her chin. A good laugh, that. For me and the mouse, not the cat.

No dear reader, our two lethally clawed, sharp fanged murdering pets appear to be specializing in the slithering kind of prey, something one could at a glance think of as a snake. But it is not a real snake.

As the weather is warming up nicely, it seems that these snake like lizards litter the cats’ territory. I say litter because it is becoming a daily event, one or both of show up in the yard or sometimes inside with a long writhing surprise. A prize they play with, puncture, toss about but never devour or visible disfigure. They don’t even appear to nibble on the poor things, not even a bit, but they certainly perforate the smooth skin with their super sharp finger tips.

Copyright © wildlife-media.at/bilddetails/26995/blindschleiche

Copyright © wildlife-media.at/bilddetails/26995/blindschleiche

The given name is Blindschleiche aka Anguis Fragilis, although it is not blind. It is found all over Europe and loves to hang out in damp areas such as gardens, among foliage, compost heaps, soil or among sheltering rocks or stones. They loose their tails just like lizards, don’t have legs nor do they sport the distinctive arrowhead shape snake head. They eat slugs and worms and on average are 35045cm in length with some even stretching to 52cm long.

Ideal cat toys according to the enthusiasm our feline hunters exhibit when showing off their latest catch. And don’t fool yourselves. Cat’s don’t care about fragile when they hunt or play, they simply don’t give a shit.

Feline Hunter #2

Feline Hunter #2

We save as many as we possibly can by distracting the felines and then perform a simple yet magic trick that always leaves the cats guessing…  with a WTF look on their focused fury faces … “hey man, it was right here just a second ago” 😉

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iphoneographythis©2013,myronunrau©2013

Canadiana 116

Courtesy of Jake Blunt via FB

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
1. Vancouver : 1.5 million people and two bridges. You do the math.
2. Your $400,000 Vancouver home is just 5 hours from downtown.
3. You can throw a rock and hit three Starbucks locations.
4. There’s always some sort of deforestation protest going on.
5. Weed.

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN ALBERTA
1. Big rock between you and B.C.
2. Ottawa who?
3. Tax is 5% instead of the approximately 200% it is for the rest of the country.
4. You can exploit almost any natural resource you can think of.
5. You live in the only province that could actually afford to be its own country.
6. The Americans below you are all in anti-government militia groups.

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN SASKATCHEWAN
1. You never run out of wheat.
2. Your province is really easy to draw.
3. You can watch the dog run away from home for hours.
4. People will assume you live on a farm.
5. Daylight savings time? Who the hell needs that!

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN MANITOBA
1. You wake up one morning to find that you suddenly have a beachfront property.
2. Hundreds of huge, horribly frigid lakes.
3. Nothing compares to a wicked Winnipeg winter.
4. You can be an Easterner or a Westerner depending on your mood.
5. You can pass the time watching trucks and barns float by.

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN ONTARIO
1. You live in the centre of the universe.
2. Your $400,000 Toronto home is actually a dump.
3. You and you alone decide who will win the federal election.
4. The only province with hard-core American-style crime.

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN QUEBEC
1. Racism is socially acceptable.
2. You can take bets with your friends on which English neighbour will move out next.
3. Other provinces basically bribe you to stay in Canada .
4. You can blame all your problems on the “Anglo A*#!%!”

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN NEW BRUNSWICK
1. One way or another, the government gets 98% of your income.
2. You’re poor, but not as poor as the Newfies.
3. No one ever blames anything on New Brunswick .
4. Everybody has a grandfather who runs a lighthouse.

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN NOVA SCOTIA
1. Everyone can play the fiddle. The ones who can’t, think they can.
2. You can pretend to have Scottish heritage as an excuse to get drunk and wear a kilt.
3. You are the only reason Anne Murray makes money.

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
1. Even though more people live on Vancouver Island , you still got the big, new bridge.
2. You can walk across the province in half an hour.
3. You can drive across the province in two minutes.
4. Everyone has been an extra on “Road to Avonlea.”
5. This is where all those tiny, red potatoes come from.
6. You can confuse ships by turning your porch lights on and off at night.

TOP REASONS TO LIVE IN NEWFOUNDLAND
1. If Quebec separates, you will float off to sea.
2. If you do something stupid, you have a built-in excuse.
3. The workday is about two hours long.
4. It is socially acceptable to wear your hip waders to your wedding.

Pass this along to Canadians who need a laugh and foreigners who can learn something about Canada and then enjoy a good chuckle.

Let’s face it: Canadians are a rare breed.

The Official Canadian Temperature Conversion Chart

50° Fahrenheit (10° C)
· Californians shiver uncontrollably.
· Canadians plant gardens.

35° Fahrenheit (1.6° C)
· Italian Cars won’t start
· Canadians drive with the windows down

32° Fahrenheit (0° C)
· American water freezes
· Canadian water gets thicker.

0° Fahrenheit (-17.9° C)
· New York City landlords finally turn on the heat.
· Canadians have the last cookout of the season.

-60° Fahrenheit (-51° C)
· Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
· Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door-to-door.

-109.9° Fahrenheit (-78.5° C)
· Carbon dioxide freezes makes dry ice.
· Canadians pull down their earflaps.

-173° Fahrenheit (-114° C)
· Ethyl alcohol freezes.
· Canadians get frustrated when they can’t thaw the keg

-459.67° Fahrenheit (-273.15° C)
· Absolute zero; all atomic motion stops.
· Canadians start saying “cold, eh?”

-500° Fahrenheit (-295° C)
· Hell freezes over.
· The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup

canadiana 110

Hey, that Branta canadensis. The kinda brown goose looking bird.  The one with the long dark neck, black beak, black feet and the white bit under the chin; that one, yeah, that ours. The typical Canada Goose.

Vociferous Canadian Goose, image courtesy Google search

Average weight 1.1kg  – 8 kg (extreme weight for the giant canadian goose)
Average wingspan 127-173cm (2m for the giant version)

This bird breaks it down too. Across the wideness that is Canada, 11 subspecies with wingspans ranging from 90cm all the way to 2m for the giant Canada goose.

The male and females of a subspecies will always look alike.

Pair of Canada geese on the water, image curtesy google search

When flying in formation these geese will fly in a V shape to make it as efficient as possible to communicate and  perform directional changes to the whole group of flyers.

Canada Geese Flying - image ©Auburnxc

These birds can be found as far south as Mexico and the southern US states.

Solo Canada Goose, image google search

They probably use a lot of their 13 different calls on their long migratory flights that draw them closer together once a year; twice if you count the return trip.

Two Canada geese on water - image Huffingtonpost.com

But yeah … those are Canada geese.

Canadiana 106

Canada is home to thousands of bears. From the black bear (Ursus americanus) so named after it’s black fur, the smallest of the bear family, the Grizzly/brown bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) which is frikkin’ huge large by any standard when up close or within sight, the Kermode or ‘White Spirit Bear’ (Ursus americanus kermodei) which makes its home in the temperate rain forest of the pacific coast and the Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) know for it’s white fur and love of cold arctic conditions.

Black bears are known to eat flora like  wild berries, grasses and herbs,  wild and orchard fruits, honey, nuts and various seeds. They also have a thing for other animals flavors, like fish both fresh and dead, stinky carrion, insects, small mammals and they find human garbage irresistible. Sometimes the best place to see black bears are the garbage dumps in most northern towns. They are very difficult to spot in low light conditions. If you should come across a cute little black bear cub, don’t try to rub its belly because its mom is probably close by and can’t stand it when that happens. As cute as the situation might seem, you are in danger of serious injury.

Black Bear Ursus Americanus

Black Bear Ursus Americanus - image from http://www.foxsdenlodge.com

The Kermode or Spirit bear is not often seen by people other than wild life photographers who live to bring back lovely images, loggers and fishing types and other locals where that bear is known to hang out.

Grizzlies or brown bears are bad ass. Their enormous size alone grants them special status and no one messes with them, except for humans with high powered guns. Hair color ranges from light browns to darker shades of brown to near black with silvery hair tips on some specimens. It is difficult to look away when you spot/see one of these beasts. Seeing them from a safe distance/area is much more fun than suddenly running into one of these giants on a quiet, suddenly much too remote trail or in a patch of densely wooded area.

Grizzly Bear Open Mouth

Pissed off Grizzly Bear - photo curtesy of animalscamp

The Polar bear inhabits frozen north. An excellent Canadian example is the area around the town of Churchill, Manitoba, acknowledged Polar Bear Capital of the World where they brazenly check out tourists and townspeople alike. That town even has a jail for these large white hairy ghosts and round the clock lookout for any sign of bears entering or in town. This bear will actually hunt humans if super hungry and/or seals prove to be scarce.

Sleeping Polar Bear

Sleepy Polar Bear - image curtesy http://www.free-predator-pics.com

Note:
Bears are not like cute cuddly stuffed Teddy Bears or the kind you see in Saturday morning cartoons or depicted in other popular children’s entertainment scenarios. But I bet you they would eat your porridge, hot, warm or cold.
Don’t jump up into a tree for safety if a black bear is after you. They are excellent tree climbers.
Know that a Grizzly has knives on his paws, long ones 10-13cm long. Those and a huge mouth can mess you up right quickly and you’ll likely suffer broken bones too.
Polar bears … try to avoid being stalked by them but be ready for trouble when in their backyard.
All bears are much faster than you imagined. Really.

The experts advise that you should play dead when confronted with an angry, pissed off and aggressive grizzly bear. Do you know why? My guess is that you might well soon be dead and perhaps this kind of prepares you for that. Kissing your ass good bye is also a good idea unless you are aggressive yourself and don’t want to go down without a good fight. Fighting a black bear might get you out of that particular tight spot, you might get lucky, you might not be so lucky. Pick your battle carefully. Sure, read up on what to do when in bear country, make noise, lots of noise, make yourself appear taller than you actually are, don’t turn and run and pack your trail bell or legal side arm/shotgun and/or bear spray, if it makes you feel better. Rumor has it that bears love spicy food.

Not proven if you can slowly move away from a Kermode bear by telling it just how cute it looks.

If you don’t want to play dead, have any means of defending yourself, have a dog along you might offer up as substitute sacrifice or forgot your can of bear spray and are hiking with friends, and still think you can get home in time to watch the hockey game, you can try running, you just have to be faster than the slowest member of your group. (Disclaimer – the last sentence is not to be taken as any kind of rational advice, or life saving suggestion, implied or otherwise)

Be safe, have fun out there and please don’t temp the bears with bacon smells, or maple frosted donoughts.

Quote for this Day

“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, lyricist (1844 – 1900)

Thoughts about Pizza

piz·za [peet-suh]

2010©myronunrau

Pizza Piece

noun
a flat, open-faced baked pie of Italian origin,consisting of a thin layer of bread dough topped with spiced tomato sauce and cheese, often garnished with anchovies, sausage slices,mushrooms, etc.
That is the definition in dictionary/reference.com

I like pizza.

Entimologists and others who like to research word origins will like this (directly from this Wikipedia page):

The first recorded use of the word “pizza” dates from 997 AD and comes from a Latin text from the town of Gaeta in southern Italy. The origins of the word are uncertain and disputed. The following are seven theories of its derivation:

  • The Ancient Greek word πικτή (pikte), “fermented pastry”, which in Latin became “picta”, and Late Latin pitta > pizza. See Greek pitta bread and Apulia and Calabria cuisine “Pitta”
  • The Ancient Greek word πίσσα (pissaAtticπίτταpitta), “pitch”,or ptea, “bran”, (pétítés, “bran bread”).
  • The Latin word “pinsa”, the past participle of the verb “pinsere” which means to pound or to crush and may refer to the flattening out of the dough.
  • The Latin word “picea” which describes the blackening of bread in the oven or the black ash that gathers at the bottom of the oven.
  • The Italian word “pizzicare” meaning “to pluck” and refers to pizza being “plucked” quickly from the oven (“Pizzicare” was derived from an older Italian word “pizzo” meaning “point”).
  • The Aramaic word “pita” (as פיתא) which exists in the Babylonian Talmud, referring to bread in general, tracing the word to a cognate for pine pitch, which forms flat layers that may resemble pita bread.[citation needed]
  • The Old High German word “bizzo” or “pizzo” meaning “mouthful” (related to the English words “bit” and “bite”) and was brought to Italy in the middle of the 6th century AD by the invading Lombards. This is the origin favoured by the Oxford English Dictionary though they state that it remains unattested.
Now you know, if you didn’t already. And no, your nearby cheesy pizza joint doesn’t do this dish justice.

And it is so varied as to make your head spin. If you can think of putting something on a pizza crust, it probably works, depending how you combine your chosen ingredients. Not everything can nor should be added and not everything can or will work together however in my experience, many things can, do and result in incredible taste sensation and dinner table experiences.

I should admit from the outset that I do not at all enjoy the ‘regular’ offered pizza fare peddled by the usual pizza chain suspects. You probably know the type, it comes in the square box, is round, looks like a pizza, has a hand full of toppings on it, but is a tasteless mass of gui, gummy bleh … the cheese has no flavor, the crust like a wet noodle and the cardboard box gives of more smell than the object of your hungry eye.

Case in point: I’m walking home one day. I am feeling hungry. It has been a long afternoon. As I approach the busy intersection near where I live, I notice that new pizza joint has opened up shop. But my eye is drawn to a guy standing on the corner. The shop is not as noticable as this guy. One of those track suited males with greasy hair and a generally cheese aura, punctuated by the occasional crotch grab. His mouth is moving too and his lips are flapping but I don’t know what he is communicating other than visually poor taste until I cross the street. Suddenly flyers fan out in his hands like some street magician ready to boggle the passerby. This guy certainly boggles, but not in a pleasant way. He accosts the passerby not only with his schtick but also accosts every sense that passerby has. Smell is another sense to be accosted by his overpowering scent of cheep cologne.

My eye skims the flyers in his pudgy fingers, his eye landing on my face, his mouth opening again and in a thick Russian accent (appologies to my Russian readership) he begins to sell the virtues of the new pizza joint 30 feet away; as well as reeking with reason not to use cologne as he does. I forget the name of the new nondescript pizza joint as it squats in a shabby space that has been cursed to change shops with a frequency akin to how some people change their minds. But like I said before, I am feeing hunger pangs and a growing sense that I don’t feel like revving up my inner cook to prepare something when I get home.

I slide/tug a flyer/menu out of the proffered fan of thick fingers and paper, knowing this merchant of madness would never guess the first pie recipe listed on the menu. I continue homeward. There I do pick up the phone, a land line and dial the magic number, after having selected a suitable combination of toppings that appeal to my hunger. The voice on the pizza end of the line sounds equally a greasy as the track suited hawker on the sidewalk, ESL (English as a Second Language) can be a bitch, but I give full marks for trying.

I give my telephone number for varification and the address. Lucky for me and the delivery person (I’m thinking at this point) is that I live a mere four blocks from the scene of the coming crime. Now the 20-30 minute wait and I won’t be hungry any more. So I wait. The 30 minute mark comes and goes and I wait some more. I am standing by the dinning room window the better to see the delivery guy whom I am waiting for. Did they have to make flour first, I wonder. Did they have to go get fresh ingredients at the local produce store? I wonder some more. Perhaps they had to go fishing for anchovies … it is then that I realize that I’ve been seeing the same large exhaust belching vehicle crawling along my block. I notice it on the third pass. I look closer and recognize the track suit dude. He is piloting this heap of a delivery vehicle. The 45 minute mark has approached. I give him more benefit where I should have felt doubt.

The doubt settles uneasily when I see him make two more slow passes past my large and unmistakable house number. Mayhaps he is dyslexic. I step outside and wave him down and return to my doorway after his face lights up upon recognizing my face and then I watch the  belching and back firing rig careen forward towards a tight parking spot. Trank Suit man ends up double parking his heap and lurches out of the car pulling an uninsulated pizza box off the bench seat behind him. I can see the lid is not closed completely as he approached the door. He wipes his mouth with the left sleeve of his shiny track suit jacket. He hands me the box and the bill. I can’t believe what I see. I flip the box lid all the way open to discover that this trickster has been picking toppings off the pie as he searched for my address idling through the neighborhood! What a guy. I fix him with a steely smile and wish him bon appetite, telling him that he’d best enjoy the rest of the pie he has already begun to eat. No, I say. I am not paying for this very personalized service an send him off.

Box Pizza

That my dear reader has been my worst delivery tale, matched only the inability of delivery types to locate my address on other occasions which resulted in free pizzas that were also less than tasty even if freely delivered in the end. I know it’s not all bad for all people but that has been my experience and reason to move in another direction entirely.

But that took a bit of indirect encouragement. And things get better. Much better. And they begin to taste better too.

When someone invited me over for dinner and suggested a pizza pie making event that was to be dinner, I was curious. And game. I’d never name a pie before. Cool. I accepted and found the experience to be a lot of fun and to see how others put pies together was as much fun as I could imagine on one rolled out pizza dough crust. Everything could be imagined onto a pizza and that epiphany opened a gate to more excitement and experimentation for me. I’ve never forgotten that first attempt although I can’t tell you nor recount what I put on that first pizza. My first home made pizza.

Then I learned how to make my own dough and that was it, no more ordering in square boxes to the front door. Basta! I’d do it myself. And I did. I’d make two pizzas every Friday or Saturday evening for dinner. My family loved it and was curious to see what I’d come up with next.

pizza guy page graphic ©myronunrau

Of course it helped to have a well stocked Italian deli with a wide assortment of interesting cheeses and sauces and other ingredients just up the street alongside a wonderful produce store where nearly any kind of vegetable was available for inclusion should a particular whim strike me. I was in a good place there. My taste buds were happy, my family and friends were happy. Ma belah looked pregnant (not too cool and I’m happy to announce I not longer am that pregnant looking).

I took the pizza making seriously and experimented with different ingredients every week. It got to the point where I was posting my recipes online weekly for a local website that a family friend was running. It felt as though I was contributing to something and I hoped that my enjoyment/enthusiasm was appreciated by others. I have not idea if it was or not, lol. This was back in the nineties an I no longer maintain that page but I recently found it again … here (when I look at it now I feel a little embarrassment cause some of those recipes read utterly silly. The one with the eight eggs … forget it. Too many eggs, hahaha.

In the last few years I’ve begun to use fresh yeast for my dough and won’t go back to dry yeast unless I have to. In Germany you can buy individual 42gram cubes of yeast; here where I am now I have to buy a one pound chunk of the stuff. Sure I can freeze portions but it is not as convenient and at times quite a bit of yeast goes bad because I can’t eat that much pizza or make it regularly.

Photo credit: Val Harrison

Another thing I discovered in southern Germany is what is called Flammenkuchen (flame cake), a thin crust free form pizza, covered in a thin layer of sour cream, topped with chopped onions and thinly sliced smoked/cured ham … simple and delicious. When a big pie is too much, this can be enjoyed as light snack, in sense 😉

Of course variations exist for this as well. I enjoyed a wonderful apple/cinnamon version for a mid morning break a while back.

Flammenkuchen, German

Well, I hope that this rant about one of my favorite pies has caused you hunger pangs and that you go and try your own hand at making that which you want to eat, if you are able and willing to put in the good and honest efforts.

Just last week I met up with dear friends and suggested a do it yourself pizza evening. Just bring ingredients I said on the phone. They did … bring the kitchen sink as it were and while buddy is an excellent home cook, he had never before put a pizza together; instead just going for pizza at one of his local Italian pizzerias (can’t fault him for that). I do give him full points for being game and building his first pie. I’ve named it after him; based on his ingredients and will rebuild it for myself sometime in the near future, but without the excess liquids.

Bon appetite.

Quote for This Day

“The weirder you’re going to behave, the more normal you should look.  It works in reverse, too.  When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person.”
P.J. O’Rourke (1947 – ) American political satirist