Something Different

IMG_1017On my way to get coffee this morning, I ran into Leo.

He’s an American short hair cat who owns Hugo’s garage on Linden Street in San Francisco. Hugo, the car mechanic, believes he’s the owner, but he’s mistaken. Leo got there first when he moved in as a kitten. He’s now 7-years old, ancient in cat years, but he knows his rights.

At night Leo slips in through a loose brick in the wall and curls up on the hood of whatever car Hugo is fixing. He’s not picky. He doesn’t care if it’s European or American. Sometimes he gets lucky and the hood is warm from Hugo running the engine during the day. Most times though it’s cold, but at least he has a peaceful place to sleep that’s high off the ground.

As far as he knows Hugo has never connected the paw prints to him, which is a good thing because he certainly leaves  a lot of them, especially if the car is dusty.

One night he woke up with a start. His fur stood straight up, his face blushed red, and his heart thumped inside his bony chest. What was that? He heard a rattling. Then a loud crash. Leo darted from the hood and fled under the car and crashed into a wall of softness.

“Ouch!” a voice said.

Leo growled.

“What happened to your whiskers warning of objects in the way?” said the very erudite English voice.

Leo blinked a few times.

“Forgive me for startling you. I needed a place to land for the night and I missed by a few feet.”

“Who are you?” Leo said when his heart finally settled back down.

“I’m Geraldine. I’m from two stories up,” she said.

Leo noticed an outline of this creature. She didn’t look like a cat or a dog. She didn’t smell like one either.

Geraldine stood up and shook.

Oh my. Geraldine was a parrot. An African Grey with red tail feathers.  African Grey

“From two stories up? What does that mean?” Leo asked.

“I’ve escaped my confinement. It was ruining me,” she said stretching a wing that brushed Leo’s whiskers and tickled his face.

“They’ll look for you in the morning,” he said.

“I’ll be long gone, off to a Pacific island. I’ve been plotting this for years,” she said.

“That’s a long flight. Have you calculated the miles?”

“Of course. Every detail. It’s what’s kept me alive all these years.”

“How did you escape?” Leo was now interested in the story.

Calvin says, “Oh no! Not another attempt at a children’s story. Your inner child left when you got me.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Neighborhood Whizzes By

Dogs are reigning in the neighborhood where I work. The weather has been so lovely this week I decided to take a walk. I met Leo, the magnificent British bulldog, Leslie, a four-month old Sheba Inu born in Japan, and Hildie, the Electus Parrot. She was breathtaking.

“Is she friendly?” I asked.

“Only with men,” her owner said.

So I kept my distance. She posed for me as a consolation prize. She never took her eye off of me. IMG_9842

People were out sunning themselves in the park, walking their dogs, chatting with friends, and of course drinking endless cups of trendy coffee at $3-$5 dollars a cup.

It was even warm enough for a ice cream cone from a pop-up, except they hadn’t opened up yet, but if they had, I would have ordered the brown sugar with cinnamon cookies, or maybe the cookie dough with pretzels and chocolate chips. Who thinks up these flavors?

I marvel at how quickly a neighborhood is gentrified. Ten years ago it was the homeless, the prostitutes, and the few people that lived here that dotted the landscape.

Today it’s brand new modern condos, trendy restaurants and fashion shops. More and more techies in packs roam the streets looking for food and coffee and are willing to pay top dollar for it. My favorite second-hand bookstore was forced out of business because the owner of the space was demanding double the rent. The Italian restaurant next door, a local hang-out with good food at reasonable prices, was kicked out, too.

The change-over has been at lightning speed. And ruthless.

I miss the old places because I knew the owners. Today I see strange faces behind a counter. And you know they’ll be gone tomorrow.

Calvin says, “Leo, huh? I’d have to weigh in on that one.”beagle

Crazy Birds

I love birds. At times they’re even funny.

I drove by a soccer field this week with a match in full play. The geese made me laugh out loud. This was clearly their field and they weren’t too happy with the invasion. So what were they doing? The were standing on the sidelines watching the game.  IMG_1978

We have woodpeckers in the neighborhood. You can hear their drilling on the telephone poles early mornings. They break for a siesta when the temperatures rise, then resume their work in the cool of the evening. One day our telephone connection will go dead. I’ll call the company on my cell phone and I’ll let them know who to arrest.

The other day a sparrow slammed into the window and crashed to the ground. It sat there with its heart beating through its chest, eyes glazed, all puffed out. We waited 30 minutes and then checked to see if it was dead. It was still alive. Another 30 minutes. We checked again. Still there. This time its beak was tucked into its wing and it was sleeping. We walked outside, it looked up at us, but didn’t move. We came back inside the house and got busy with other things. We completely forgot about it until later on in the afternoon. We checked through the window. It had flown away. I was relieved.

“What makes you think a cat didn’t eat it?” Alf said.

“No feathers,” I said.

That settled the matter.

Calvin says, “Birds are only good for one thing – sticking my nose into their chests and breathing in deeply.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Zooey Christmas

My sister and her husband gifted us with a trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo over the holidays.

I’m not much for zoos because I feel sorry for the cooped up critters and spend my time not enjoying them, but plotting their escape.

This zoo, however changed my opinion.

It’s small, well cared for, and the animals seemed if not content, peacefully resigned to their habitats.

The highlight was feeding the giraffes. The docent gave me a handful of lettuce leaves, and told me to offer them to Michael, the alpha giraffe who was at the railing following my every move. Michael was three stories high, wore an apricot-brown colored coat, with liquid brown eyes, and long dark lashes. I offered him a lettuce leaf, and in a blink, Michael rolled out a very long grey tongue, and with the dexterity of fingers, grabbed the leaf, rolled it into his mouth and chewed.  IMG_1952

It was a real tongue and cheek experience.

He consumed the leaves in a nano-second and never said thank you.

The snow leopards were my next favorite, but they had just woken up and were in no mood to be sociable. Or maybe they’re always that way. True introverts who only want the comfort of their cave.

The penguins were the most gregarious, honking their way through their morning bath, as were the two red amazon parrots squawking from their perch as they preened each other.

I did feel sorry for the two elephants. They could have benefited from a good book or a stimulating conversation.

The flamingos ignored us and bent their necks into their wings and went to sleep. But that’s what flamingos do, especially in Vegas, decorating people’s front yards.

There was an enormous grey-headed vulture, the size of a small car, in his cage with a docent who was cleaning his habitat with a broom and dust pan. She moved, he loped, following her like a shadow all around the cage. We named him Hitchcock.

I’ve never understood why zoos don’t have a pet purchase policy. I would have emptied the place out. Except for Hitchcock. I don’t like stalkers.

Calvin says, “Pity. Hitchcock and I would make a great team. I’d find the rabbit, he’d take it from there.” beagle