Thursday, September 29, 2011

A salute to this 2-faced cat...

 All cat lovers should appreciate this story about a world-record-setting cat -- or is it cats?
It is written by Rodrique Ngowi of The Associated Press. I did not want to take anything away from his story-telling, so since The Reporter is a member of the AP, I am simply sharing it with you, with all credit going to Ngowi.
Here are some photos of the cat with two faces; the story follows. Enjoy.
 AP Photos by Steven Senne

Associated Press

WORCESTER, Mass. — Frank and Louie the cat  was born with two faces, two mouths, two noses, three eyes — and lots of doubts about his future.
Now, 12 years after Marty Stevens rescued him from being put to sleep because of his condition, the exotic blue-eyed rag doll cat is not only thriving but has made it into the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records as the longest surviving member of a group known as Janus cats,  named for a Roman god with two faces.
"Every day is kind of a blessing, being 12 and normal life expectancy when they have this condition is one to four days," Stevens said, stroking Frank and Louie's soft fur as he sat on her lap purring. "So, he's ahead of the game — every day I just thank God I still have him."
Frank and Louie's breeder had taken him to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, where Stevens was working at the time, to be euthanized when he was just a day old. Stevens offered to take him home, but experts told her not to get her hopes up.

Janus cats almost never survive, and most have numerous congenital defects, including a cleft palate that makes it difficult for them to nurse and often causes them to slowly starve to death or aspirate milk into their lungs and die of pneumonia. The condition is the result of a genetic defect that triggers excessive production of a certain kind of protein.
But Frank and Louie did not suffer from most of the common Janus problems. Stevens used feeding tubes to nourish him for three months, hoping that would also save him from the danger of choking on food going down the esophagus from two mouths.
It turned out she didn't have to worry about him choking, because Frank and Louie just used one of his mouths to eat.
"The condition itself is very rare and I think that the fact that this cat became an adult, a healthy adult, is remarkable," said Dr. Armelle deLaforcade, an associate professor at Cummings and head of the emergency services section.
Colleagues at the veterinary hospital told Stevens that trying to raise Frank and Louie might not be good for him — or her.
Still, she "stood firm and stood by the cat, and I'm really glad she did because this cat really has fewer problems than many cats that have very normal anatomies," deLaforcade said.
Frank and Louie does not seem to be bothered by his condition and has developed a very friendly personality. The breed is known for its soft and silky fur, docile temperament and penchant for relaxing in a person's arms like a rag doll.
He is "very, very laid back, not afraid of people, very friendly and he's actually more of a dog than a cat," Stevens said. "He walks on a leash, he goes right in the car, he loves car rides."
People often want to touch Frank and Louie's long, luxurious fur while Stevens is out walking him.
"It's funny because people walk up to him thinking it's a nice, fluffy white cat and they're walking up with a big smile on their face to pat him, like, 'Oh, what a beautiful cat' and I see a look of horror come over their faces when they actually see his face," Stevens said, laughing.
Thirty years ago, a cat like Frank and Louie might not have been given a chance to live.
Said deLaforcade: "You can look at a cat like this as either a very strange and bad omen, or you can look at this cat as a miracle."
Rodrique Ngowi can be reached at

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's autumn at last

It's finally the first day of autumn, although you wouldn't guess it by the humidity, fairly warm temperatures and ... for a change ... rain.
But at least this brings hope for chilly weather, the chance to wear sweaters and flannels, perhaps even the opportunity to sit out by a fire and look up at the stars on a few evenings.
Please... even just one evening!
I'm determined to remain optimistic. I may not be able to head to Vermont this fall, but I'm looking for those changing autumn leaves.
Now, about that humidity....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cows call you to Harrisburg

 You don't have to be a farm kid to enjoy the Pennsylvania All-American Dairy Show.
It's featured this week in Harrisburg... and here are some snippets from my visit on Sunday:

Sorry if the video was a bit long -- trust me, I had even more footage! But as someone who not only has a soft spot for cats, but also cows, it was hard to know where to cut... I favor Jerseys and Milking Shorthorns, but really, all cows are cool.
The show also features neat dairy antiques, so if you have time, check it out, today through Wednesday at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Love that chill in the air

The chill that greeted us today was most welcome ... I only wish it were here to stay.
I am sick to death of air conditioners, of humidity, of shorts...
I want to wear flannel shirts and long jeans.
I want to have the windows open and feel a cool breeze.
I want to hold my cats on my lap without sweating to death.
And here's a gratuitous cat photo,  snapped at the Edward Gorey House on Cape Cod this summer.

Hey, I like cats; sue me...
I wish I could spend autumn in Vermont 
But that's not going to happen ... sigh.
Anyway, back to the beginning... I hope the chill sticks around a bit.
Autumn doesn't officially start until Sept. 23, I know...
I'm ready for it now.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Great balls of ... Schweddy!

Pat Frederick said "nope. stopped eating Ben and Jerry's when they issued Hubby Hubby." (note-- it's Chubby Hubby).
Melanie Altemus: It's officially on the to-do list!
MaryAnn West Hoermann: absolutely not, sounds disgusting.

Hey, I side with Melanie... can't wait.

Of course,  Schweddy Balls is an homage to a "Saturday Night Live" skit featuring Alec Baldwin as bakery owner Pete Schweddy, whose unique holiday offerings included a delicacy called Schweddy balls.
The Associated Press story on this  noted:
The company's not worried about offending people with the name, said spokesman Sean Greenwood.
"We're the caring company," Greenwood said. "We never want to do anything that is upsetting for people. We think it's congruent with our values, in terms of having fun. One of our principles is 'If it's not fun, why do it?'"
Other flavors with edgy names — like Karamel Sutra and Half Baked — were irreverent double-entendres, too, he told the AP.
The new flavor  consists of vanilla ice cream, a hint of rum, fudge-covered rum balls and milk chocolate malt balls.
What's not to like?
And I love that Baldwin is enjoying this...

"For a long time, I thought that 'Here Lies Pete Schweddy' would end up on my tombstone," Baldwin said in a statement released by Ben and  Jerry's. "Now, thanks to Ben and  Jerry's, the goodness of the Schweddy family recipe won't go with me to the great beyond."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Did you have a metal lunchbox?

This morning I asked a quick question on The Reporter's  Facebook page about people's favorite metal lunchboxes, related to a video featured on our website,

A few of you answered, including Jennifer Alderfer who said "Donnie and Marie"; Monica Maury, who said, "Mork and Mindy, until someone stomped it!"; and Cheryl Brownlee, who favored "Charlie's Angels."
Here's a look at that video:

For me, it had to be "Brave Eagle," fashioned after an old TV show by the same name. I don't have the lunchbox itself anymore, but somehow I do have the thermos -- sitting proudly on my bedroom bureau.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Saying goodbye to summer...

It's Labor Day, rain is predicted and it may be your last day on the beach or at the mountains.
You may already be thinking of the work piled on your desk or the school days stretching out ahead.
Stop worrying, start enjoying.
Summer isn't over yet. And yes, you can still wear white after Labor Day.

Photos courtesy of Danielle Breaux, taken this August in Cape Cod.