The story of a pair of shoes

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I’ve owned these monk-strap shoes for over 10 years. I photographed them this morning for the purposes of this post. These are one of the pairs of shoes I use around the house for all kinds of work: home office, going to the cellar to fetch firewood, going into the dusty attic to put or get various things, renovation work, etc.

I used them last night as we mounted this restored door frame back in place, as I used a miter saw in the cellar, carried the various parts up to the house, used a nail gun to secure them in place and assemble the frame.

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You can see these same shoes in this video.

I also used them when I built our garden shed in Florida.

In spite of all the wear and tear I’ve put them through over the years, a little elbow grease always gets them looking great, and that’s a testament to the craftmanship of the shoemaker. The brand (Mario Calugi) isn’t as important here as the lesson to be learned from the experience.

Lots of people make a big stink about how wearing leather contributes to animal cruelty but the truth of the matter is, using every little bit of an animal that’s going to get sacrificed for its meat anyway, is the right thing to do.

Furthermore, taking proper care of your belongings, especially the ones made from other beings (because animals are beings, not things) is crucial and it is part of showing respect for the sacrifice of that animal, for the protection its skin profers you and for the hard work that went into making the finished good you now have in your possession.

Good leather lasts a lifetime if you take care of it. Great shoes also last a lifetime if you take care of them. Yes, it means changing the soles when they wear out, it means treating the leather and polishing it, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s part of being a good, responsible human being to take care of your stuff. Please do it.

Sasha sleeps under my desk

When she was a kitten, Sasha would come in after a full day of playing outside and fall asleep at my feet, right on (or curled around) the power bricks for my computer equipment. She was and still is so adorable. Enjoy this short video clip of her during one of her frequent visits to Dreamland.

Bonus: a video clip featuring an Indian male peafowl (a peacock) strutting his amazing tail feathers for us.

Enjoy!

Zumi suckles from Tessa

We were overjoyed to see this going on in the yard today.

That little furball suckling from our dog is Zumi Zoom-Zoom, our newly adopted kitten. The dog is of course Tessa, our ciobanesc mioritic breed, sporting her summer look. She normally looks like this.

With summer temperatures rising into the mid and upper 30s (Celsius), we didn’t want to cook her under that thick winter fur, so we gave her a haircut.

Of course, Zumi’s suckling empty teats. Tessa isn’t pregnant, nor do we have any plans to let her get pregnant until she’s over 2 years old. (She’s just about nine months now.) But the two of them have been getting along pretty nicely so far, in the short time that Zumi’s been with us. It took a week or so for Zumi to get used to the big, white, drooling monster who ran to greet her whenever she ventured into the yard, but they’ve warmed up nicely to each other. And I’m glad to see Tessa provide Zumi with a bit of comfort, while getting in a bit of practice for motherhood.

Playing with Felix when he was just a little kitten

Here’s a video clip of Felix playing with (and scratching) my hand while on my office chair. He was just a little kitten then and he didn’t know how to guard his claws yet. My hands were perennially scratched as he grew up but we adored him just the same.

By the way, if you love my kitty posts, I’ve started a new blog called Medieval Cats, to which you’re invited to subscribe. It’s 100% about cats, featuring our cats alongside other medieval cats (or cats from medieval cities, if you prefer). We currently have four cats: Sasha, Bubu, Tira and Zuzu (three females, one male). They’re all adorable, all photogenic and they love to go on their little adventures.

Why call it Medieval Cats? Because we live in the medieval city of Medias, in Romania. What’s more, we live in a house that’s (on paper) over 200 years old, although parts of it are even older. Let’s just say we “qualify” to use the term. 🙂

The inquisitive lizard

Having lived in South Florida for a long time, I’m used to seeing lizards of all sorts, but when I saw this large green fellow on the sidewalk, his iridescent hues mesmerized me and I quickly ran to get my camera. When I got back, he was still there, waiting for me. Not liking his vantage point though, he climbed up on a royal palm tree and got to eye level with me.

Then, as I shoved my camera in his face to get these closeups, he didn’t budge at all. He even offered different angles, as you’ll see below. Enjoy the photos!

A stag in a manger

A self-explanatory video. If you’ve never seen a stag sitting quietly and resting, this would be a good time to check that off your list. 🙂

This animal was filmed at a place called Hanul Dracula, a place in the hills near Danes, a village west of Sighisoara.

The cat house – part 9

More than two years after publishing parts 1-8, here’s the final installment in this series, which recaps the features of the cat house I’ve designed and built and describes some improvements that I’ve made to my original design, after testing it through two winters.

We now have four cats (Sasha, Zuzu, Tira and Bubu), as opposed to the original two kittens (Mitzi and Trixie) which you saw in the other videos. Mitzi and Trixie now live with my grandmother in Maramures.

So, what improvements have I made?

  • Installed shingles on the roof
  • Built an upper level so the cats can really stretch out while they’re inside
  • Re-did the wall through which the cats enter the house
  • Drilled some aeration holes in the walls
  • Removed a pet door which I’d installed at the entrance, for the same reason I drilled the aeration holes, which is to introduce enough air flow in the house and eliminate the moisture that used to gather on the inside walls
  • Built an add-on lobby which creates an ante-room on the porch and becomes useful during cold weather

Hope you enjoy this final video and it inspires you to build a nice cat house or dog house for your pets!

Here are the other eight videos in the series:

Sick Chickens

I made a short video last year, which I wasn’t sure I should post publicly, because it contains disturbing imagery. However, I finally convinced myself I should, simply because I want you, dear reader, to be able to make informed decisions when you go shopping for food.

The video you’re about to see shows the guts of farm-grown chickens. These are from an independent farm where they grow in crates, as they do in most farms these days. They’re not free range, and they’re certainly not organic. The name of the farm doesn’t matter. What matters is that these chickens weren’t treated as badly as those in true factory farms, and yet their insides tell a dark story about the way we, as humans, treat our food.

Their internal organs are pretty much destroyed, at around 6-7 months of age. They’re large, heavy, hard, tumor-laden, distended, they’re retaining huge amounts of water — they look as if they’ve been eating the most unhealthy crap there is — and they have. All of that chicken feed they get as food makes them look like this, coupled with the lack of movement, the drugs, the stress of living in crates, in the stench of thousands of others like them, unable to roam, forage for food, smell the clean, fresh air of unpolluted nature.

These chickens (and others in much worse condition) are what you find when you go to the supermarket. Sure, you don’t find their guts for sale. You find their meat, which looks decent enough, especially after it’s been pumped full of water, nitrates, MSG and colorants. But their guts find their way into pet food. They’re what you feed your pets.

Please, think about all this the next time you’re buying chicken (or other meat) at the supermarket. I’m not trying to convince you to stop eating meat — that’s your decision to make — I’m just trying to help you make better decisions when it comes to food.

Look for free-range chickens, for organic chickens, buy from local farms where you can see them roaming the land, scratching the earth for worms, not from factory farms.

Or you could try not eating meat. We don’t. We’re raw foodists. But as I said before, I’m not trying to force our lifestyle on you. You are free to choose what you do. Just be aware of the consequences.

A Squirrel on Our Balcony

Back when we lived in DC, squirrels used to come onto our balcony all the time. Our building was in a park and it was full of them. When you think squirrels you normally think “Oh, how cute!” but I’d beg to differ. They were cute from a distance. When they dug in your flowerpots and sometimes overturned them, or they investigated anything and everything on your balcony, spilling the contents of whatever they found, they were no longer cute. And they were vicious little critters, too. When cornered they made these really, really nasty sounds and were ready to claw and bite you. So yeah, not so cute.

Now that I’ve ruined squirrels for you, enjoy this video I shot of one of them being cute on our balcony (after it knocked over some flower seeds and started eating them).

Adorable, aren’t they? 😉

Bubu and Tira Playfight

Each day, as we work, one of our cats decides it’s time for a little playfight with one of the others (or with my pants or shoelaces). This video presents Bubu and Tira, our lovely adopted siblings, playfighting. This time Tira initiated the activities — it’s usually Bubu who does it. Tira is the grey kitten and Bubu is the large brown one.

Enjoy, and I hope it relaxes you as much as it relaxes us!

Meet Tira

Merry Christmas! We’re spending a quiet Christmas day at home, relaxing with old movies and old cartoons…

Here’s a quiet little video of our grey kitten, Tira.

We adopted her along with her brother, Bubu. Tira’s a lovely cat. She loves being around us. Wherever we go or sit in the house, we have to be careful, because Tira will inevitably fall asleep somewhere near our feet. She loves attention and once you begin to pet her, she’ll cling to you like sticky tape, asking for more. You can’t see it in this video, but she’s a fairly small kitten. Her brother’s huge, but she’s short and soft and very, very cuddly.

You can also see Tira and Bubu playing with Fritz, our grey bunny, who has since gone to a better place

Sasha’s gorgeous, dramatic eyes

Sasha is one of our adopted cats (she’s still a kitten, not yet mature). And she’s got these gorgeous yellow eyes. She’s incredibly expressive, all the time, and unlike our other cats, she loves to look into our eyes, for long periods of time. We adopted her when she was just a tiny bundle of fur (here’s what she looked like back then).

I recorded this video as she rested one day, while Ligia played with another of our cats (I think it was Zuzu). I loved how her eyes dilated and contracted based on what she was thinking as she watched the game. I hope you’ll enjoy it as well! I edited it so it’s dramatic — after all, Sasha is always dramatic. When she’s thirsty, it’s as if there’s been a year-long drought and she’s about to die. When she’s hungry, it’s as if she hasn’t eaten in a week. She loves to play it up. That’s our Sasha.