Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Who's up for a staring contest?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rex: 2001-2012

By William the Henry

Rex when we were both healthy. He always had more hair.

Rex, belonging to that big and gentle Chow Chow breed, was capable of harming a fly, though not intentionally, and he was probably not aware of the nature of his deed. One afternoon years ago I looked out the door at the open garage, and just in time I saw Rex chomp down on a pesky fly that had been buzzing around his head for hours; the remains of the fly, cut in half, made crazy spirals down to the cement floor. That's one of the main memories that comes to mind when I think of Rex, who this morning passed away at the vererable age of 11.

We don't know if it's the debilitatingly hot weather or if it's Rex's deteriorating health that caused him to succumb to a heat stroke Thursday night. When Leena arrived home at about 9 p.m. Thursday, she found Rex lying on his side on the cement floor of the garage. Several ice packs were hurriedly placed all over his body to lower his temperature and to steady his labored breathing. When it seemed Rex was out of immediate danger, Leena placed an emergency call to Russell, who has been a reliable and capable vet to our five Chows and 20-plus cats.

After assessing Rex's condition, Russell gave him an injection to lower his body temperature to less than 39.4, which he said was dangerously critical. Earlier, I went cold when I noticed that Rex had involuntarily emptied the content of his stomach by vomiting and voiding: signs that the defensive system of his body had gone on full alert, abandoning the digestive system to sustain Rex's faltering cardiovascular system. When Rex's breathing returned to normal level, we kept a watchful eye on him while Leena discussed with Russell the medicines required. It was almost midnight when Russsell left, dropping off Melay and Marilyn to the Mercury branch near Munoz Market to buy the medicines.

Leena hardly slept that night, going to the garage to keep watch over Rex. Early Friday morning Leena decided to take Rex to Animal House, the pet hospital in Cubao. Blood tests, ECG, X-rays, and other tests were performed on Rex. Old age caught up with our old pet, who through the years had unobtrusively led a quiet existence at the garage, enjoying a treat of chicken once in a while, greeting Leena when she arrived home from office. That Thursday night he was not able to approach her.

So life went on at home on Friday, although we were aware that one mainstay of our lives was missing, fighting for a life made feeble by age and illness. But we dared not dwell on the fact that hope was not an option in this case. If it was just a matter of time, then time could flow on along its stoical way as we gather fortitude for when reality descends. It descended this morning. And it's Leena's birthday today. If it should be considered a gift that Rex's suffering was mercifully ended, so be it.

It's a terrible thing to learn late in life that death, like life, can be a gift.

 Leena with Rex through puppyhood and cuddlyhood.

The following is Leena's message to wellwishers on her birthday:

To my friends, fellow cat and animal lovers who remembered me today, A VERY BIG THANK YOU! I am sorry that it took time before I could respond. I had to bring our beloved Rex home from the hospital and arrange a small, solemn funeral. Perhaps Rex wanted me to remember him whenever I celebrate my birthday, that's why he chose this day to say goodbye. I was hoping that he could still spend some moreyears with us, but as the vet said, he is already a super senior Chow. He is only 11 years old, and now that he's gone I ask myself where did the years go? It seems only yesterday when he was an adorable, huggable puppy. Time does fly. To the most handsome chow in the world, until we play again. We will miss you Rex.

Cordell's music

By William the Henry

First editions lahat: Books, Cordell, ako. Yung mga Lyrica, hindi pala: revised nightly siya.

3:33 a.m.
Ano ito, half Omen? And the name of the baby beastie boy is 333, yea! Naalala ko yung full Omen: Asar na asar ako sa ending, yung sasaksakin na lang ni Gregory Peck ang sugo ng dilim nang barilin siya ng pulis. Ayun, nagkaroon tuloy ng dalawa pang sequel! For life na ba itong memory ko: Slow-motion na balang palaki nang palaki sa screen hanggang tumama sa likod ni Peck? Saka anong ginagawa ni Peck sa isang horror film? Kumita nga sa takilya, pero si Peck ng Roman Holiday --romantic film niya with Audrey Hepburn -- nasa Omen? Namannnnnnn...

Natatandaan ko ang role ni Peck bilang abogadong si Atticus Finch sa To kill a Mockingbird, adapted mula sa libro ni Harper Lee, na kaibigan pala at kababata sa Alabama ni Truman Capote. One and only book ni Lee ang Mockingbird, pero kasya na ang kita niya mula sa book at film rights para magbakasyon habambuhay. Nakita ko pa lang sa TV lately itong si Lee, parang binabati siya ni Obama sa White House sa 50th anniversary ng Mockingbird. Matanda na si Lee, uugod-ugod na at bukot ang likod. May umaalalay sa kanyang tumayo habang kinakamayan siya ng ni Barack. Ang pumasok agad sa isip ko nang makita ang napaka-touching na eksena eh, Buhay pa pala siya. Ayan, sabi ko sa sarili, ganyan talaga ang andar ng utak mo -- sacrilegious, blasphemous, ominous...

Nalaman ko ang link nina Harper Lee at Capote nang mapanood ko sa pirated DVD angIn Cold Blood, bagong adaptation mula sa breakthrough novel nitong si Truman. Ang nobelang ito ata ang nagpasimula ng New Journalism, yun bang true story na inihayag sa pormang nobela. Diyan sumunod ng style sina Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, P. J. O'Rourke, Gay Talese, Hunter S. Thompson at sangkatutak pang gaya-gaya. Common na ngayon itong genre, pero nung unang pumutok ito noong early 1960s, Wow!

Pinag-aralan ko ang writing style ni Truman noong nagsimula akong magsulat sa 1980s. Nakalap ko ang lahat ng libro niya, early and late -- Other Voices, Other Rooms, The Grass Harp, Breakfast at Tiffany'sAnswered Prayers, Children on Their Birthdays, A Christmas Memory -- pero nawala ang buong library ko pagkatapos ng pagsabog ng Pinatubo nung 1991. Sa ngayon nabawi ko na ang ilang piyesa niya, puwera yung Music For Chameleons, na hanggang ngayon eh di ko makita sa National, Book Sale, Fully Booked, Powerbook. Ganyan kabusabos itong Pilipinas: sangkatutak ang Jollibee kahit saan, McDo, Chow King, KFC, etc., para bundatin ang tiyan mo, pero kung hahanapan mo ng pagkain ang utak mo, suwerte mo na lang kung di ka maging malnourished dito sa Pinas. Di ako nagtataka at naging Presidente yang si Noynoy. Susmarya, kahit ata komiks di nagbabasa yan.

It's annoying, this Noynoying. Makatulog na nga. Good dawn, Lyrica my lovely, gudam...


Note: Bakit Cordel's music ang title nitong Insomnia series no. 05072012? Mga 3:30 kaninang umaga, biglang bumukas yung radio sa ibaba, full volume, at binulabog ng Rock music ang buong bahay. Agad bumaba si Leena at Melay para silipin kung bagong episode ito ng Poltergeist. Si Cordell big cat pala, lumundag sa mesa at natabig yung "On" button ng radio at nag-Rock 'n' Roll ang tulog naming lahat. Relax lang si Cordell sa mesa, parang gusto pang sumayaw. Nang tingnan ko ang oras, tiyempo pala sa insomnia appointment ko. Ayan, nakabuo na naman ako ng blog.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Books & Cats

The picture shows cats playing atop some books -- cats on books, literally speaking.But that's not what I mean. This is about cats and the books they like. It's common knowledge among observant pet breeders that cats adore books and start to read as early as two weeks old, as soon as their eyes open. In their kittengarten stage they start with kiddie fare like Dr. Seuss's A Cat in the Hat, then move on to Saki's Tobermory, though not one of them likes what happened to the only member of their species that had gained the ability to talk.

It is not unusual to find some of the more sedate kitties preferring T.S. Eliot's juvenile Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, from which the smash Broadway play, Cats, was adapted. I have even seen kittens, in private moments, humming the theme song, Memory. One of them even extended his reading to Eliot'sThe Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. This poem has nothing to do with anything feline, but cats do like the somber sway and tenor of the poem.

What student of Literature doesn't know Gray's Elegy? But cats sneer at the student's ignorance of Gray's lament over his beloved Selina, Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes. Anyway, that's ok, since kittens realize early in life that the luminosity of the human mind is uncannily equivalent to that of a dim bulb.

Kittens have a deep fondness for specialized magazines about them: Cat's World, Kittens, Cat Fancy, and occasional articles in National Geographic about their favorite country in this planet, Egypt. They venerate their ancient ancestors who lived in luxurious palaces with pharaohs. The top honchos really knew how to give cats their rightful place -- way up in the pantheon of nobility. Talk about catbird seats.

Mau's baby Persians may root for Batman, but they purr at the Dark Knight's romantic link with their green-eyed heroine, Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman. They also lapped up Vonnegut's Cat Cradle, but were miffed after they found out the novel is not even remotely about cats at all. Rightly, they settled for Golden Age copies of Felix the Cat.

One of Hemingway's early short story, Cat in the Rain, is a kitty favorite. Another oldie-but-goldie is Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, where, in the film version, an orange tabby plays a crucial role (also in the rain) to bring the angst-ridden Audrey Hepburn to the arms of budding-writer-cat-sympathizer George Peppard. Yes, cats swing to the slow tune of Moonriver.

Would you believe songs by Cat Stevens 
are still extremely disliked by erudite and musical cats? They hiss at Morning Has Broken, yowls greet Wild World, tuffs of fur are tossed against the composer of Father and Son. Kittens and old cats have on record the sin of the erstwhile-adored Cat Stevens, talented singer turned idiotic Islamic convert, who with great cacophony supported the crazy Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against prolific writer Salman Rushdie. For writing The Satanic Verses, Rushdie had been sentenced to death by whatever means in the hands of any Muslim who succeeds in making Rushdie shake hands with his creator, asap.

Of course, they dote on the late James Herriot series of books about his growth and fame as a veterinarian who loved, saved and took care of big farm animals and the smaller pets like dogs and -- ahem! -- cute kittens. The title of four of Herriot's books were the first stanza of Hymns For Little Children, an 1848 poem by Cecil F. Alexander: All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All.

Cats read for leisure, not for career: they'd rather take catnaps, sniff catnips, and stay cute all their life. After all, that's what pets are for.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Tabby

Tabby accommodates Julius while one of her kittens look on.

Ragdolls are invariably white furred, blue-eyed amiable cats -- like Tabby in the photo above. An orange stray is suckling hungrily, minutes after the kitten was picked up in a street corner. Tabby is the only mother cat of any breed in our home who is willing to succor any kitten in distress. And this is not the first time she has saved a kitten thrown to die, either by hunger, exposure to the elements, or to be squashed under the wheel of a passing car. People can be cruel if they are ignorant. I like animals more than people.

Back to Tabby and the new foundling, which, due to his orange color, has been named Julius. Tabby -- named after Stephen King's wife, Tabitha -- has given birth to five kittens almost two months ago, but that doesn't matter -- any kitten of any breed, color or origin is welcome to join her brood anytime. In the photo, one of her kids is looking on as Julius clings to his adoptive mother.

Julius' hunger is not limited to milk; he also needs the comfort and warmth of a mother's presence. A squeaky meow indicates that Tabby is away from his side. So, sometimes Julius, eyes still unopened, will crawl until he finds a warm body to cling on. Tabby's kids, who turn two-month-old today (2011 March 20), have acquired the amiability and gentleness inherent to Ragdolls; they let Julius cuddle them.

Julius climbs on his new "brother" for warmth.

This is not the first time Tabby has succored and saved other cat's child. I remember April 2009, when Eric, a friend, brought a baby Ragdoll to us because the kit's mother could not produce milk. Eric came to us, hoping to find a way to save the feeble one, which was already weak from starvation.

Here is an excerpt from my blog about that incident:

"I hoped that our Tabby, who recently gave birth to three healthy kittens, will succor a fourth. If not, it’s just a matter of a few hours before the weak Ragdoll dies. Hoping fervently, I placed the scrawny kitten’s fate before Tabby.

Without hesitation, Tabby nipped the kitty’s nape and added it among her brood. The small one, eyes still closed, instinctively found a teat and sucked weakly as we watched. A few minutes later we relaxed a bit when the baby continued feeding. At least a spark was kindled.

A few days later, our tiny refugee was crawling about the room. We gained something precious – this world, so sordid, could not be so intolerable if from time to time it allows a spluttering life to go on.

Then the allotted weeks passed, and the kitten opened an eye. We waited for the other eye to open, but it remained shut. When Eric visited his kitten, he was elated to see the improvement. When he saw the closed/open eyes, he said the lovely rascal looked like a bandit." (So the survivor's name became Bandit -- a cute bandit who stole our heart.)

[ ]

Then in October 2009, Ondoy devastated Metro Manila, including our neighborhood. Two days after the super-typhoon, Leena found three newborn kittens thrown in front of a pastor's house. Naturally the three became a part of our household. And Tabby, who had just given birth to six kittens a few days earlier, tried to bring one of them to add to her brood. But that is another story.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cordell the Entertainer

Princess and Cordell

Cordell, our very affectionate Maine Coon, never fails to entertain the family, friends and visitors. Strangers are instantly turned into fans by his winning ways. This big cat is not shy, no siree. He meets visitors, even those coming to the house for the first time. Once he plumps down in his Cordellious way (tummy side up) guests would start ooohing. You know they've fallen when they ask if they can hold him, which was what Cordell wanted in the first place.

But wait, there is a problem. This heavyweight (literally) tips the scale at 20 pounds. So carrying him can be tiring. But what the heck, carry Cordell they do, excess weight and all. Here, Princess refused to go home without holding the Big One on her lap.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Benevolence of Nature

Only those who have not experienced hostility can expect and grant kindness in this world.
-- William the Henry

Nature and its creatures are inherently benevolent. Cruelty is taught.

-- William the Henry