Monthly Archives: January 2011

Rizzie and Polly Paddlefoot — the Polydactyl Cats

 

Rizzie is a polydactyl cat, available for adoption at Wayside Waifs, a Kansas City no-kill animal shelter. She has an extra toe on each of her front paws, giving them a mitten appearance. Her extra toes are not very noticeable unless you look closely. Sailors favored cats with extra toes because they were thought to be more nimble, better able to climb and excellent hunters of rats on the ship.

The first time I ever saw six-toed cats was on a visit to the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, Florida. More than fifty cats roam the Hemingway estate, about half of them with six toes on each front paw, all descendants from Hemingway’s first six-toed cat. Cats normally have five toes on each front paw and four on each back paw. There are many variations of polydactylism in cats, which you can read about in the link below. The record is 28 total toes! Normal is eighteen.

Rizzie's front paw shows the mitten shape of a polydactyl cat -- a cat with an extra toe.

A ship’s captain gave a six-toed cat to Hemingway, who became one of the more famous lovers of polydactyl cats. After Hemingway died in 1961, his former home in Key West became a museum and a home for his cats. Because of his love for these animals, “Hemingway cat”, or simply “Hemingway”, is a slang term used to describe polydactyls. There are also official breeds of polydactyl cats, including the American Polydactyl Cat and the Maine Coon Polydactyl.  Polydactyl cats are very common in the Cardigan area of Wales, where they are known as “Cardi-Cats.”

According to Wikipedia, polydactylism  seems to be most commonly found in cats along the East Coast of the United States and in South West England.  The most common variety of the trait spread widely as a result of cats carried on ships originating in Boston.  (The polydactyl cats must have gotten a weekend pass and fraternized with the local cats…)  Sailors valued polydactyl cats for their superior climbing skills and for their extraordinary abilities to hunt shipboard rats.  Some sailors also considered them to be extremely good luck when at sea.

Anne Boleyn was reputed to have a sixth finger, but detractors may have created that rumor, because polydactylism was supposed to be a trait of witches. But the only thing witch-like about polydactyl cats is that they will bewitch you!

About Polydactyl Cats.

Hemingway House cats.

Wayside Waifs.

Click here to go to Live Cam of Hemingway cats.

Polly Paddlefoot has an extra toe on each of her front paws, which are not very noticeable unless she stands. A lucky family took Polly Paddlefoot to a new home. Polydactyl cats bring good luck!

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Filed under Cats, History, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Pets, Photography, Science

It’s a Chelsea Morning

Hotel Chelsea, New York City, Print print 

I was in third grade when I decided to be a novelist.  It sounded so glamorous and important.  You and your books are studied in school.  People discuss what you were thinking, what you meant when you wrote “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”  They pay money for your thoughts!  There’s a catch, though.  To be a novelist you have to finish and preferably publish a novel.

I did pursue a writing career as a journalist, but nearly all of those hundreds of thousands of words have crumbled into dust, barely remembered the day after they were read. I never achieved that third-grade hope of writing some soul-stirring, enduring piece of work, like that of Ernest Hemingway or Jane Austen.

My novels still reside in my head and on scraps of paper and in numerous files on my computer.  I’m sure there are millions just like me. My son recently forwarded me a link on how to publish a book on Kindle.  Now, I have no excuse for not finishing the work that everyone has been breathlessly waiting for! No publisher or agent stands in my way.  I am my only obstacle. (Which so far has been a HUGE obstacle.)

One good thing is that I no longer have delusions of grandeur.  The New York Times Bestseller List?  Who needs it!  The Nobel Prize for Literature? A farce!  A Pulitzer Prize?  Don’t make me laugh! I just want to finish something readable and absorbing. My goal is to have a novel finished and on Kindle by the end of 2011. You heard it here first. Hold me to it! If you want to write a novel, join me in this goal. We can download one another’s books. We can have our own book club. (Kindle link at the bottom.)

I was looking through my zillions of photographs and came upon the above photograph, which I took from the balcony of the Chelsea Hotel, a mecca for creative people. I’m going to tack up the photo as an inspiration to write.

I took the photo in 1989, when I visited my friends Jan and Richard in their apartment at the Chelsea Hotel.  Jan and Richard are both extremely talented and creative people, so it was fitting that they should live in a building that had been a home to so many writers, artists and musicians. Among the writers who have lived there are Mark Twain, O. Henry, Dylan Thomas (who died there of alcohol poisoning), Arthur C. Clarke (who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there), William S. Burroughs (who later moved to my college town of Lawrence, Kansas), Leonard Cohen, Arthur Miller, Quentin Crisp, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (who wrote On the Road there), Robert Hunter, Brendan Behan, Simone De Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Wolfe, Charles Bukowski.  Among musicians who lived there were Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Patti Smith. The Grateful Dead stayed there.

The Chelsea is at 222 West 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.  The 250-unit hotel was designated a New York City landmark in 1966, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

About the Hotel Chelsea.

How to publish your book on Kindle.

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Filed under Journalism, Life, Literature, Photography, Writing

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker Postcard postcard 

A red-bellied woodpecker in our background.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker Postcard postcard

A red-bellied woodpecker in our backyard.

Red-bellied Woodpecker at Bird Feeder Postcard postcard

A red-bellied woodpecker at our feeder.

In my post on January 8, I spoke too soon about enjoying a snow-free winter.  A few days later, more than seven inches fell, and it’s not likely to melt any time soon in the below-freezing temperatures forecast to last for a week.

The birds are very active at our bird feeder now that their food sources are covered with snow, so I get lots of great photo opportunities.  The red-bellied woodpecker is among many species of birds taking a turn getting seeds from our feeder. The red-bellied woodpecker eats insects, fruits, nuts and seeds. We’re lucky that we live in a forested area, so that we can catch a glimpse of these colorful woodpeckers, which depend on large trees for nesting.

About Red-Bellied Woodpeckers.

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Filed under Bird-watching, Birds, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Photography

Nuthatch in the Snow

Nuthatch in the Snow Postcard postcard

“Hey, look at these huge sunflakes coming down in the sunshine,” my husband called to me as I was hunched over my keyboard (Where else?) “It might make a good picture.”

I grabbed my camera.  I soon spotted this nuthatch waiting on a tree branch for his turn at the bird feeder. After a few minutes, the snowflakes stopped falling. We’ve been lucky so far not to get any accumulated snowfall. Last year, we suffered here in Kansas City from lots and lots of snow! In fact, we had the third snowiest winter and tied for the 11th coldest winter in the 122 years of record-keeping in Kansas City.  On Dec. 24, 2009, a blizzard hit us, extending even into Texas, where my sister said they got more snow on one day than they’d had altogether in the nine years they’d lived in Texas.

I should knock on wood at our good fortune so far this season. The winter is still young.

The National Weather Service Summary from NOAA of the winter of 2009-2010 in Kansas City is below.

Winter 2009-2010 temperatures were below average in Kansas City, with slightly below average precipitation and much above average snowfall

The average temperature at the Kansas City International Airport for the winter 2009-2010 season (December-February) was 26.5 degrees, which is 3.9 degrees below the 30-year average. Based on the longer term historical 122 year record from various Kansas City observation points, winter 2009-2010 has tied for the 11th coldest on record. The average high temperature for the season was 33.8 degrees, which is 5.7 degrees below normal, while the average low temperature was 19.3 degrees, which is 1.9 degrees below normal. The highest temperature of season was 59 degrees recorded on December 1st, and the lowest temperature of 5 degrees below zero occurred on January 2nd.

The total precipitation at the Kansas City International Airport for the winter 2009-2010 season (December-February) was 3.45 inches, which is 0.65 inches below the 30-year average. This would rank winter 2009-2010 as the 49th driest winter season in the longer term 122 year record in Kansas City. Snowfall was measured at 34.3 inches, which is 19.2 inches above the 30-year average of 15.1 inches for the winter season. This places the winter of 2009-2010 as the 3rd snowiest winter in the 122 year history of Kansas City observations.

National Weather Service Summary for Kansas City Winter 2009-2010.

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Filed under Bird-watching, Birds, Kansas City, Life, Photography

2010 in Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 88,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 4 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 42 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 200 posts. There were 132 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 128mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 1st with 2,049 views. The most popular post that day was Wayside Waifs.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were wordpress.com, search.aol.com, facebook.com, WordPress Dashboard, and shoutsfromtheabyss.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for hummingbirds, skin cancer, hunter s thompson, robert plant, and robert plant children.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Wayside Waifs July 2010
95 comments and 27 Likes on WordPress.com

2

Generation Tattoo September 2008
12 comments

3

Skin Cancer February 2010
8 comments

4

Robert Plant receives Commander of the British Empire Honor July 2009
6 comments

5

A Flock of Hummingbirds August 2008
9 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

3 Comments

Filed under Internet, Life, Writing