Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Feline Heat Index

The English language has long been known to contain many phrases that liken outdoor temperatures to to our canine companions, i.e. "three dog night," "dog days of summer," and so on.  Since I currently have only feline companions (yes, I'm a cat person), I thought it high time to bring some balance to the situation, bases upon the highly complex scientific research known as GWISMD*
(*Guess What I Saw My Cats Do)

For instance, in the earlier warm days of Spring, I would use the air conditioning based on our cats activity level. This was developed after talking to my husband one morning when he called from work; I was wondering if I should turn the A/C on, or try to 'tough it out' the entire day and leave it off.  His response was simple and to the point -  "What do the cats look like?"  It's been my indicator ever since.

Although I've been able to turn off the AC twice in July and open the windows for a few days each time this year (gasp! that's nearly unheard of!), this week it's been in the mid 90's, here in the central plains of the U.S.  A couple of years ago, I realized that my feline friends provided me with an alternative method of forecasting.  

Phineas at 30"
Here's how it works:  First you need to make a note of the surface they are laying on - is it the carpet?  a throw rug or blanket?  If so, you probably don't need to measure anything - it's not too hot (This is also a good time to get a baseline measurement - using a soft measuring tape, make a note of how many inches they measure stretched out, and jot this down).  

But if you spy them laying on any of the following - a cardboard box, newspaper, paper you are working on, pillows with cool material, wood floor, wood furniture, tile floor, the bath tub or sink (empty, of course - although there are exceptions, and exceptional cats!) dinner table, Formica or granite counter-top...go get your measuring tape!

Loki at 34" (cat pattern not included)




Measure once again, write down that result and compare with your baseline.  I believe it's a scientific fact that every inch they stretch out (further than their baseline) is equal to "X" degrees of increased heat.  And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen - The Feline Heat Index. (would someone else please crunch these numbers? I'm too hot. thanks.)







Phineas at 32"



Furthermore, this finding could greatly benefit both the feline AND the Mass Media Communities.  Just think of all the TV stations out there that could 'employ' several cats (at least two, but the more the better!) for their Meteorological Desks - thus reducing the population of thousands of cats in rescue shelters across the country!   And everyone knows that petting or just being around an animal reduces your blood pressure and relaxes you - and when you're not stressing out, how can you deliver bad news?  Presto - Instant World Peace, don't you agree?



Phineas and Loki - on carpet
Phineas in/on porcelain



Phineas and Loki - World Peace.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wren-fest!

This morning, as I sat at my kitchen table finishing breakfast, I looked out the back door to our deck and saw not one, but two wrens on my rosemary plant.  An entire family has been close by all summer long - they built a nest in some clematis vine that grows on the back fence of my next-door neighbor.  I've been a bird watcher my whole life, but have only in the past few years started seeing wrens with any regularity.

In my area there are two species of this bird - the House Wren and the Carolina Wren.  I have seen mostly the Carolina Wren in the past year around my house, including the "family" I am referring to.  I thought the birds on the plant would make such a great photo, so I ran to the other room to get my camera, fiddled with the settings and slipped back into my chair to see if I could get a shot of the birds on the deck, but alas they were gone.  Out of sight, but not out of hearing range.  These amazing creatures have a disproportionate voice to size ratio - loud doesn't even begin to describe it! I could hear them still hanging out around my deck and back yard, so I picked up my phone and started up the iBird Pro app. This program has over 900 birds listed, complete with recordings of their songs .  It is really amazing to select a bird, play their song and watch them get really curious, really fast - this is the best $5 I've ever spent on an app for my phone!

Out on the deck I went, with my camera and my phone blaring the Wren's song.  I decided to park myself at the bottom of the steps, and wait to see if one of them would perch long enough for me to snap some pictures.  I had barely sat down, when I was startled by something almost hitting my head - it was one of the Wrens, they had dive bombed me!  It was all I could do to contain my laughter - the iBird app was working perfectly.  I was a big puzzle...I looked like me, but sounded like them!

Listening for the recording
Roof Inspector!

Answering back!


















After several overhead attempts to give me a new hairstyle, and only a few chances for photographs, I decided to move to another spot in the hope of some better angles.  I have a chair under a Bradford Pear tree that sits in the corner of my yard - I've had all sorts of wonderful peaceful nature experiences there - one time I even saw a hummingbird chase off a chickadee right above me (I only looked up because I thought I heard the sound of a helicopter in the distance!).

My spot came through for me again today.  As my chair faces the back of our house, I was able to get some great shots of the Wrens on my deck rail. Meanwhile, I was serenaded (or was that scolded?) by what I think was the entire family above me in the tree, hopping around the whole time.  What a perfectly lovely way to start my day - and how fitting is it,that as I finish typing this and am getting ready to post, they are singing their hearts out just outside my window! ♥♥♥