Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cats in Space

Rudy sat in the living room admiring the photo of the Mommy in her space suit. She was standing in
front of something that didn’t exactly look like a rocket, but since it was at NASA, it obviously was a rocket. Perhaps Mommy’s project didn’t have to do with turnips after all, since the picture showed her wearing her space suit. Rudy wondered how Mommy liked it in space, and what she did there. Maybe she was working on how to grow turnips in a space suit, or maybe on the moon.

The mommy looked good in her space suit, but the helmet didn’t look very comfortable. How would she be able to smoke in space with that helmet on? Mommy wouldn’t like it if she wasn’t able to smoke. And how would you eat with that helmet on? Maybe she only went up between meals. It wouldn’t be a problem that way.

Rudy was tired, and she fell into a doze while looking at the photograph. Her thoughts became a dream, and in it she, Peep and LT were floating in space. Oddly enough they weren’t wearing space suits, yet they could breathe perfectly. It was difficult to move in space. Rudy flailed her legs but didn’t go anywhere. LT was in motion and he bumped into her and each of them shot off in opposite directions. Peep called to them to come back to her, but they couldn’t.

Rudy started to panic. What could she do? How could she get home? She couldn’t even see the earth from where she was. She twisted her head, and caught a glimpse of it over her shoulder. It seemed so far away.

Rudy found herself moving into a cloud of small to medium sized pebbles and rocks. What were they doing up here? One approached her, and Rudy pushed herself off of it and back towards where she could see Peep in the distance. It was hard to see a black cat against the darkness of space, but there was a cat-shaped darker spot in front of the stars that had to be Peep.

She moved slowly towards Peep and called out for LT, telling him to find a rock and push off it towards the Peep. Two large figures were also moving towards Peep, both wearing space suits. One looked like the picture of the Mommy, but with her helmet on, and the other was tall and skinny. Rudy figured it was probably Daddy. They seemed to be attached to some kind of long rope.
Maybe they could get them back home again.

Mommy reached out and grabbed the Peep, and as Rudy came near, the Daddy grabbed her. LT was moving lazily towards them, his legs flailing out in all directions.

“I hate this. I want to go home NOW!” LT wanted dirt under his feet, and for his body to obey him when he asked it to do something. He’d had enough of space. The Daddy grabbed LT, and Mommy pushed something on her suit, and the ropes started pulling them towards a space ship. This was more like what she thought the Mommy would fly in. There was an open hatch, and the ropes were pulling them towards it.

They entered the hatch and Daddy closed and locked it. There was a loud sound, and air came rushing out of vents and filled the tiny room. When a green light flashed, Mommy and Daddy pulled off their space suits.

“Don’t you three ever do that again! Do you know how much money NASA had to spend to send us up here to rescue you three? It was only because I did such good work for them this summer that they did this for me. Some people just wanted to let you three float off forever. They talked about sending you some communications equipment so you could transmit pictures back, but I was lucky someone realized how important you three were to me!” Mommy was mad, but at the same time she was hugging Peep, ruffling Rudy’s fur and gazing lovingly at LT, who was held by the Daddy.

In a few hours they were back on earth. A super-top-secret plane flew them back home, and deposited them right in their back yard. LT kissed the soil and said he was never leaving again. Peep ran inside to check on the house, and Rudy stood in front of the Mommy and said, “Thank you for coming to get us Mommy. I don’t know how we got there, but I’m glad you came and rescued us from space. I’ll never complain about your turnips again, because your turnips showed you how to come rescue us. I love you, Mommy.”

Photo courtesy of About Women, Fire and Dangerous Things -

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic hopefuls dreams dashed

The Olympic coverage this past week or so has been a little less comprehensive than I had expected. The sportscasters have highlighted athletes from just about every country and doing almost every sport, but one segment of the coverage has been shamefully lacking. They have not profiled a single cat athlete. Admittedly, few cats actually make the Olympic teams, but that is not for lack of trying.

Cat athletes have a rigid schedule, just the same as human athletes. They are allowed no more than 12 hours per day of sleep, and close to competitions most cats are allowed a mere 9 hours of sleep per day. They are kept on strict diets consisting of tuna, tuna and more tuna – the thought being that it is both food for the brain and the stomach, and what cat wouldn’t do his or her best for tuna every day? The coaches (god forbid, don’t call them trainers) mercilessly beg their athletes to practice for longer periods each day, aiming for a goal of 30 minutes at one time. It is rarely achieved, as cats are not known for their cooperation. As they say, if they were they would be called “dogs”.

I’ve included a few photos of notable cat athletes, with a brief sketch on each of them. No, none made their national teams, but we honor their efforts the same way we honor our human athletes who try but do not win the gold.

Photo courtesy of 1room1key -

Jared is a long distance runner – his best length being the 50-yard dash. Although that is not considered distance running for humans, Jared considers this to be quite long enough, and feels that marathon runners must have some sort of disease of the brain, as no self-respecting cat would ever purposely get that worn out. Jared’s training routine is comprised of several sessions per day where he runs from his owner’s back door to the end of a nearby field and back. At this point his owner usually catches him and brings him back inside. The owner is under the mistaken impression that Jared is an indoor cat. Jared made it to regional competitions for the 2008 UK team, but was defeated by several local darts players, who had been convinced to try out for a lark.

Photo courtesy of polandeze -

Boris, another UK athlete is a vaulter. His practice routine consists of vaults over a stone wall in the garden. He probably would have made the team, except that his technique consists of hitting the wall low and scrambling up to the top to get over. The judges in the regional competition felt that Boris should have vaulted over with only a touch of the front paws on the top of the wall. Better luck next time, Boris.

Photo courtesy of Chris Breeze -

Giada’s sport is the long jump. She excels at long fluid jumps, as can be seen in this photo. This Kentucky born cat’s motivation for her sport is her favorite mouse toy, and in training her jumps increased from a mere 4’ 2” to a cat record of 8’ 11”. Her owner vigorously supported her in her quest to be the best long jump cat ever, throwing her mouse toy time after time, even after he would have rather been sleeping or watching the tube. Giada made it to the finals of the Olympic trials for the US team, but was unfortunately disqualified when it was found out that she was indeed, a cat. It turns out that cats are not allowed to compete in the long jump, as they are thought to have an unfair advantage in this sport, due to their four legs and muscle structure. Giada is considering changing over to an equestrian sport. Being from Kentucky, she thinks she could find a horse friend or two who could teach her to ride.

Popa is a Japanese cyclist who is seen here on an unmodified bicycle. She began cycling with her owner at a young age, first riding in a basket, and finally pedaling her own modified cycle which allows her to lie on her tummy and pedal with all four paws. The front paws are also used for steering. Her dreams of Olympic glory were dashed when the international Olympic committee ruled that she had to use a standard bicycle, similar to the one seen in this picture. Here she is sitting on the seat trying to figure out if she can somehow work within the Olympic committee’s restraints. She decided, sadly, that she would not be able to master this monster in time for this summer’s games.

Photo courtesy of Ruben Perez -

Mino is seen here by his pool. He was approached by a local coach to compete for Venezuela’s swim team as a relay swimmer. It was thought that his small stature and quick reflexes would give the team an edge, although it was probably more the thought that the other teams would be so distracted by a swimming cat that they would watch rather than concentrate on their own swimming. Unfortunately, Mino was not able to bring himself to actually get into the water to swim, so he did not actually make it into even local competition.

Photo courtesy of Rooey -

Mitty is seen in her last practice in the sport of weight lifting. She was promising, even as a kitten, and was encouraged by her owners and their friends to pursue her beloved sport. Time after time she beat her own personal best, and the press was calling Mitty a shoe-in for the US Olympic team. Unfortunately she began to believe everything the press was saying about her, and she called a press conference to witness her lift the weights shown in this picture. Needless to say, she was not successful in lifting this immense burden, and but recovered in time to watch the Olympics on television, muttering the whole time, “I could have been a contender.”

Photo courtesy of k a t m -

Flash is shown here in training for the only event in which cats are not put on rigid sleeping schedules, or if they are, the intent is to sleep longer and harder. Flash has been training for the marathon nap competition for the past four years. She has perfected her technique for falling asleep instantly, and can sleep for up to eight hours at a stretch. Her owners have been fairly supportive of her aspirations, although when the local mouse population got out of hand, they put their feet down and told Flash that she needed to catch those mousies. It had been expected that the marathon nap would be approved for exhibition sport status for this year’s Olympics, but unfortunately it was denied that status. Detractors on the international committee were overheard saying things such as “How hard is it to sleep? Anyone can sleep. We don’t need a competition for couch potatoes!” Flash was deeply hurt by the decision of the committee and has retreated to her bed, and anywhere else that she can sleep undisturbed to dream of Olympic Glory.

So, my kudos to those brave cat athletes that tried and to those who thought about trying, and even to those who decided trying would just be too slavish. Tuna for all!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The sky is falling

It was unusual for Peep to be outside at night, but here she was, outside in the pitch dark. The skies were clear, and if she sat in a particular part of the front yard, she could see the stars well. They were beautiful, and she enjoyed looking at them. She’d heard on the television that some people put names to different groups of stars that reminded them of things. There was something called the big dipper, which seemed to have an offspring named the little dipper. Some stars even had their own names. There was the North Star, Polaris, that people used to find their way at night, and there was the funny named star – Beetle Juice. She ate beetles from time to time, and some of them were a bit juicy, but she didn’t know why people would have named a star after the goo inside of beetles. As far as Peep knew, people didn’t eat beetles.

Tonight she just wanted to admire the stars, and greet her own constellations. There was the Cat, of course. It was a long group of stars that looked to her like a cat all stretched out in the midst of a leap. There was the Mice, which was a tight little group of stars that looked like a little family of mice all huddled together as though they had been cornered and were about to be caught. Her favorite though was Mommy’s Chair, which was a group of stars that looked like a chair. She imagined that a star mommy would sit in the chair to allow the star cat to come and sit in her lap.

As she watched the stars tonight, something happened that she’d never seen before. As she looked at Mommy’s Chair, a star near it suddenly moved very quickly, streaking across a section of sky and appearing to fall down towards the ground. It didn’t seem to be falling towards her, so Peep wasn’t worried that a giant star was about to fall on her, but if one star could fall, couldn’t all the rest? As Peep worried about this and continued to watch the sky, another star plummeted towards earth.

One is just one, but two means it happened more than once and could happen many, many times, thought Peep. She lay there, trying to decide what she should do. Tell LT? Well, what could he do? Nothing – he was a cat like her. Tell Daddy? He was big and strong and could fix almost anything, but she didn’t think he could get up into the sky and fix stars. Tell Mommy? Oh, yes! Mommy worked at NASA this summer. NASA was the place where they sent people up to the stars, so they would certainly know what to do about stars that wouldn’t stay up in the sky. Peep just wished that Mommy has spent her summer there working on stars instead of turnips, but at least she knew people at NASA now.

Peep ran inside to get the Mommy. It would be difficult, because she was sure that Mommy was asleep, and she’d heard her say that she was still trying to catch up on her sleep. This was important, though, and Peep decided that she’d wake Mommy, whatever it took and get her outside.

Jumping on the bed, Peep proceeded to sing to the Mommy. “Are the stars out tonight, who cares if it’s cloudy or bright, I only have eyes for you!” No, that wouldn’t do. “Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are.” That song was too babyish. As she tried to decide on another one, Daddy picked up Mommy’s hand that was on top of the blanket and pushed Peep off the bed. She hated when he did that. Like she didn’t know who was pushing her off the bed. She wasn’t stupid, you know.

So Peep sat on the little table and sang, talked and was generally annoying until Mommy sat up and looked at her. “Peep, is there a reason behind all of this noise? I’m trying to catch up on my sleep after all the hours I put in on that darn internship paper.” Peep just meowed louder, and jumped to the floor, running to the door and meowing again. Mommy shook her head and decided she better figure out what Peep wanted. Maybe one of the other cats was sick or hurt.

At the back door Peep stopped and meowed very loudly. She pawed at the door with velveted paws until the Mommy opened it. “Is the cat door stuck, Peep? Was that the problem?” When Peep refused to move off the top step and meowed if possible even louder, Mary Rose decided that Peep must really want her to come outside.

Without even turning on the light, Mary Rose stepped outside. It had cooled off considerably, and the night sky was bright with stars. The moon was not out, so the stars were brighter than usual. As soon as she looked up, Peep stopped meowing. Well, thought Peep, that was easier than I thought it would be. She’ll see one in a minute and settled down to look for the falling stars herself.

Within a minute or two Peep saw one streak across the sky. Obviously the Mommy saw it too, because she said to Peep, “Did you see that shooting star? Oh, that was beautiful. I forgot that it’s August, and the meteor showers are in August. Don’t worry Peep, those aren’t real stars. They’re just little bits of junk that hit the atmosphere and burn up. Almost all the time nothing even reaches the ground, except maybe for some dust.”

All the tension went out of Peep at once. Nothing to worry about – little bits of junk. Great news! Her favorite constellations wouldn’t fall down, and they wouldn’t get smooshed by giant stars hitting them. She could just lie here and enjoy the show, which she did with the Mommy, who decided to stay and watch also.

Photo courtesy of Rongem Boyo -

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Mommy comes home for good

By early Saturday evening, the cats had decided that the Mommy’s turnip painting had taken so long to finish that she wouldn’t be home until tomorrow. They’d gone their separate ways. LT went to visit the kittens for a little bit, Rudy took her usual spot on the walk and Peep settled down in an open window in the office. She liked that spot when it was hot because it had a nice breeze and she could see what was going on in the back yard.

Just when it was fully dark a car pulled up in the front of the house. Rudy went out to meet it, expecting it to be the Daddy, returning from feeding Grey. As she walked out front, she saw that it was the Mommy’s car, not the Daddy’s. She was home! Rudy sped up a little – she didn’t want to run, though. That wouldn’t be appropriate for a cat, no matter how happy she was to see the person. She greeted the Mommy as she got out of the car, wreathing around her legs, and graciously accepting caresses of her long silky fur.

The Mommy grabbed a few things out of the car and headed towards the house. She saw LT sitting just inside the woods. He’d just returned from his visit to Ginger’s house, and had settled into a cool comfortable spot. He didn’t get up, but looked eagerly as she put her things down and walked over to him. She leaned down and stroked his head and he said, “I’m glad you’re home, Mommy. Daddy and Peep missed you so much. Will you cook bacon for us tomorrow?”

The Mommy sighed, probably not in response to the request for bacon, since she didn’t speak cat, but just because she was bone tired. She walked into the silent house. There was no sign of the Peep. She moved from room to room and found Peep sitting in the window of the computer room. She went over and stroked the Peep’s fur and picked her up and gave her a big hug and kiss. “I’ve missed you so much, Peep. I wish you could have been there, because you would have made it so much more bearable. I’m home to stay now.”

Peep squirmed, and the Mommy put her down. As the Mommy moved around the house, Peep followed her from room to room, just to reassure herself that she was really there, and that she wasn’t dreaming. It would be too cruel for Peep to wake up tomorrow morning and find out that the Mommy wasn’t home yet. Daddy came home a few minutes later, and after one of those face-smushing people greetings, he helped her unload her belongings from the car.

Unbelievably, the next item on Mommy’s agenda was to cook dinner. She had brought home some leftover pork chops that she hadn’t eaten in Virginia, so she made them up for dinner, along other eatables she found in the refrigerator. The Mommy and Daddy sat down to eat, and Peep thought this was just perfect – the way things were supposed to be.

Peep went into her secret place where she’d kept track of the days that Mommy had been gone all summer. With great glee, she savagely swiped her claws across all of the markings. She didn’t need these now – Mommy was home and she was going to stay. Over and over Peep scratched them out, scratching in some places so hard that the wood seemed to shift in place.

Satisfied, Peep returned to the kitchen and found Mommy cleaning up from dinner. After putting on her comfortable jammies, the Mommy grabbed Peep and lay on the couch. Although this was Peep's next to least favorite thing to do, she put up with it for the Mommy's sake until Daddy came in to sit with her
on the couch to talk and watch a little television.

Mommy explained to the Daddy that she’d stayed up almost all night long at work to finish her paper, and didn’t even leave her office until 4:00 AM. Peep wasn’t sure, but she was pretty sure that was very late, from the way Mommy said it. Then she went home and slept a little bit, and got up and left to come home. She said she just wanted to get out of that place and back to where she belonged.

Peep drowsed on the trunk as they continued to talk. It wasn’t that she wasn’t interested in what Mommy had to say, but she was just so relieved for her to be home that her exhaustion had caught up with her. When they got up to go to bed, Peep had fallen so soundly asleep she didn’t even hear them turn the television off or leave the room.

She did hear a loud crash and screech a few moments later, though. It woke her up and she levitated a foot in the air, coming down on the tile floor, scrabbling for her footing. She ran towards the voices, and found the Daddy lying on the soft part of the bed, except that it seemed to be mostly on the floor instead of up high where it usually was. He was saying some words that didn’t sound very nice, and Mommy was laughing hysterically. Daddy untangled himself from the covers and the Mommy helped him take them off the bed and then stand the mattress and box spring up against the walls so that they could figure out what was wrong with the bed.

“It’s been fine, Mary Rose. I’ve been sleeping in it every night, and although I don’t usually leap into it like I did tonight, it hasn’t seemed at all like it was going to collapse.”

Still laughing, Mary Rose said, “Jay, you just looked so funny when it crashed down. I’m sorry I laughed, but with everything that’s happened in the last week, it just seemed like the perfect finish to a series of one catastrophe after another.”

They examined the bed frame and it appeared to be in good condition. The slats on the were solid also, but had deep scratches in them. Jay looked at them and then at Mary Rose. “Do you think the cats have been using these as a scratching post? I remember that for a while they were crawling into the hollow box spring before we removed the bottom fabric, and I don’t recall seeing those scratches then.”

“I guess we’ll never know why they’re there – but look at all of them. Every slat has scratches on them. Some are long, some are short, and some are in different directions, almost as though they were symbols. I wonder if the cats have taken up math or physics. They look like some of my equations, sometimes.” They reassembled the bed and put the blankets back on top and Mary Rose gratefully sank onto the bed. “This bed has never felt better. I am so glad to be home.”

Peep crept out of the room. The Mommy had said that her counting looked like math or physics equations. She’d realized they weren’t just random scratches. Rudy came in and asked what all the fuss was. Peep explained about the scratches and what the Mommy had said, but Rudy asked, “What does that have to do with the yelling and laughing? I don’t think it was that funny, was it?”

Then Peep had to sheepishly explain that she’d been making her counting marks on the slats under the bed, and when she’d scratched them out tonight, she’d used such strength that she must have moved the slats so that the bed wasn’t supported right any more, and so when the Daddy flopped on it hard it fell down. Rudy laughed and said, “Well that’s a welcome home. I’m glad it wasn’t the Mommy. She might have thought we’d booby trapped her.” Rudy went back outside, still laughing.
Peep settled back down on the trunk, still thinking about how the Mommy had recognized her scratches as math, and not just a cat exercising her claws.

Welcome home, Mary Rose!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mommy's finishing her turnip

Peep was happy, but reservedly so. She’d heard the Daddy talking to the Mommy last night and this morning, and it wasn’t entirely certain that Mommy would be home today. It had something to do with the turnip and the paper. Mommy had stayed up almost all night finishing her turnip paper. Was she painting a picture of a turnip? That could explain it, because the Mommy always complained that she wasn’t a very good artist. Then again, the Mommy didn’t think she was good at a lot of things that she could do really well. Personally, Peep thought that the Mommy had a poor self-image. She’d seen that on a talk show once, and it described her perfectly. She knew the Mommy was awesome, and it wasn’t just because she was little Peep. She’d heard other people say it too – the Daddy, the Yarn Lady, Veronica, the Mommy’s daddy, and others whose names she didn’t know.

In any case, Mommy would be home soon. The house was clean, the cats were brushed, and they all were just waiting. If only Mommy would finish her painting of the turnip….

Watercolor courtesy of Carina Envoldsen -

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tomato guts

It was a beautiful day. The sun was out, the temperature wasn’t too hot, and the Mommy comes home tomorrow! Peep was so excited she couldn’t contain herself. She bounced around the house, jumping on furniture, batting her toys and chasing them around and generally being skonk-bonk. She wasn’t quite sure where she’d gotten that word from, but that was how she described the way she was acting. Peep hadn’t had a nap in over four hours, which was probably a record for her. She hoped she’d quiet down soon, or she’d be so tired tomorrow when the Mommy got home, she’d probably sleep through it. Then again, she might not. The house had been so quiet while the Mommy was gone, and as soon as she came back it would be full of conversation and laughter. Oh, she missed the laughter.

Peep bounced out the cat door to go look at her turnip seedlings. She leapt over Rudy, who was as usual sunning herself, and invited her along to check the turnips. Rudy got up sedately and followed along at a more reasonable pace. “Peep, you’re going to wear yourself out. If I hadn’t known you were an adult cat, I’d look at you and say that you were a manic kitten.”

“I don’t care! Mommy’s coming home tomorrow! She skidded into the garden, slamming into a tomato plant, causing one very ripe tomato to fall to the ground, where Peep promptly stepped on it. It turned out to be an overripe tomato, and Peep didn’t so much as step on it as in it. “Eeewww! Tomato guts! I have tomato guts all over my leg. It’s slimy and my foot is stuck. Help, help, help!”

The Daddy heard her frantic meowing as he walked out of the garage and came over to investigate. He found Peep with her leg deep into the overripe tomato. “Oops. I guess I missed that one. You’ve found a bad tomato, Peep. Here, let me help you.” He carefully lifted her up. The tomato was too heavy and plopped back down to the ground after sliding down her leg and briefly getting stuck on her foot.

“Ick, ick, ick. Get it off me Daddy – it feels so slimy and disgusting!” Peep was staring at the offended leg with disgust. For that matter, so was the Daddy.

“Man, that’s a mess. Tomato guts almost up to your tummy, Peep. Let’s go inside and I’ll clean you off. I doubt you’d like to lick rotten tomato off yourself.” He walked into the kitchen holding Peep and put her down on the counter. Grabbing a paper towel and a cloth towel out of the drawer he first cleaned off as much tomato as he could with the paper towel, and then scrubbed the leg with the moistened cloth towel.

“I’ve heard of using tomato juice to cut skunk smell, but I don’t know what you’d use to cut rotten tomato smell. You still don’t smell too good.” Daddy stood back and looked at the woeful Peep.

“It’s not a pleasant smell, Daddy, especially for a meat eater. Can’t you please do something?” She shook the damp leg as though it might help, which of course it didn’t.

“How about we use some soap on it, and then I’ll rinse that off. I don’t think I can spray you with Fabreeze, even if I had any. You wouldn’t like that any more than smelling of tomato. How do you get yourself into these messes, Peep?” Daddy proceeded to wet a washcloth and put lots of soap on it. He scrubbed her leg until it had a white lather sock and stopped to look at it. “Hmm, if I gave you two of these, you’d look like you were wearing long white gloves. My mother used to say that to me in the tub when she gave me a bath. I think she always wished that one of us was a girl. Guys aren’t interested in long white gloves.” He rinsed the cloth and sponged the soap off time after time, until the leg didn’t get sudsy when he rubbed it. It also smelled much better by that time. “Just a hint of lemon, Peep. I think we can live with that, don’t you?” He dried her off with another towel and put her on the floor. “There you go, Peep. Good as new.”

The whole embarrassing incident had calmed Peep down from her manic state. She thanked the Daddy and went back outside at a normal walking pace. Rudy was lying on the walk and when she saw Peep she burst out laughing. “You looked so funny with your leg covered in tomato! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cat step in a rotten vegetable before. Well, at least we know that we need to be careful in the garden now.” Rudy kept chuckling as she got up and they went back to the garden.

The turnip seedlings were doing just fine. They had grown to almost two inches, and almost all the pebbles had seedlings next to them. Rudy found by shifting one pebble without a seedling that they’d put the pebble on the exact spot where the seed was, and a tiny seedling was stuck under the pebble. She moved it to the side and hoped for the best. “We’ll be okay as long as the Daddy doesn’t pull them out as weeds, Peep. They’re looking pretty good, don’t you think?”

Peep thought they looked great, and that the Mommy would never need to go away again, because they had enough seeds left over to plant turnips for years. Life was going to be very good from now on.

Photo courtesy of dougalug -

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Poor LT

This morning, Peep was the one who bounced out of bed happy to be alive and LT was the one who didn’t think it was worth it to wake up. When he didn’t appear for breakfast, Jay went outside looking for LT. He found him just inside the trees near his winter house, just lying there. He didn’t look up when Jay said his name, and barely moved an ear. If Jay hadn’t seen him breathing, he would have wondered if LT had died.

Jay knelt down next to LT and stroked his side and head. “Cheer up old man. You can go see Ginger any time you want, and it shouldn’t be long for the kittens to be old enough to come outside. I’ll bet that Ginger will be asking Lettie to let them come outside to see you. In the meanwhile, come in and have some breakfast with me. You need to keep up your strength to protect us all.”

LT levered himself up and plodded toward the house. He followed Jay through the door that was held open for him and then was lifted onto the table. Jay sat down with a second cup of coffee to keep LT company. Lt surely looked like he needed friends today. “I think you should go see Ginger today, LT. I’m sure she’ll be outside looking for you at some point, and she can tell you how the kittens are doing.” Jay hated to see his cat so sad, although it was a relief to have a kitten-free house.

LT slowly finished his food. He was barely hungry enough to eat it all, but knew that the Daddy would worry if he left some on the dish. He nuzzled the Daddy’s hand to show how much he loved him and appreciated his care. “Thank you Daddy. I’m just not myself today. I miss them so much – now I know how you feel when the Mommy left.”

Jay leaned down and kissed the top of LT’s head. “You’ll be okay, LT. Don’t forget that we all love you too.” Jay cleaned up his dishes and headed off for the day.

LT sighed and jumped down onto the floor. He made it as far as the living room, where he flopped on the throw rug and lay there staring at nothing. Peep and Rudy both came in, but faced with such sadness, neither knew what to say, and both left without saying anything. Eventually LT fell asleep, and woke at mid-afternoon.

“Time to go see Ginger, I suppose. It’s great to see her, but it’s really the kittens I miss. And look at me, talking to myself. Next they’ll be showing up with nets to take me to the cat version of the rooms with rubber walls.” LT left the house and headed across the yard.

When he got to Ginger’s house he checked all the windows to see if Ginger was sitting in any of them, keeping an eye out for him. It was doubtful, since she’d told him last night that she’d try to get out around supper time and it was long before that. As he neared the back door, the screen door opened and Lettie stood in the doorway. “Come on in, LT! Don’t you want to see the kittens?”

See the kittens? Of course he wanted to see the kittens, but had never imagined that he’d be invited into Ginger’s house. He scampered up the steps and in the door, suddenly able to move quickly again.

“After all the hospitality you and your family showed Ginger, how could I do any less, LT? I have a handyman coming tomorrow to install a cat door, and you are welcome to use it any time.” She showed him the door, leaning up against the wall where it would be installed. LT smiled at her and meowed his thanks.

The sound of excited kitten voices, all shouting “Monster daddy!” came from the next room, and LT bounded into it. He was ambushed by three of the kittens who had been waiting just inside the doorway to catch him. LT collapsed to the floor, allowing them to pile on top of him. He looked for the other two, and saw one of the black and whites apparently trying to groom himself. He started out well, but then appeared to by trying to eat his paw instead of licking it. “Ginger – you might want to check on that one.” LT offered to Ginger, who sat in splendor on a fluffy cat bed. She walked over and started cleaning him herself, telling him how it should be done, and that cats never eat their own paws.

The cat pile on him was becoming rowdy, as they began to play King of the Hill, knocking each other off in their quest to be the sole cat on Daddy’s back. LT shrugged all three of them off and carried one back to Ginger, the other two following. LT settled down with Ginger, next to her soft bed, and the kittens climbed the bed to get at their mother. After an early dinner, the kittens settled down for a snooze and LT and Ginger decided that it was a good idea to join them, as there would be few quiet moments like this when all were asleep.

First photo courtesy of Maccio Capatonda -
Second photo courtesy of mismisimos -

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Three more days!

Peep was unbelievably happy. The Mommy would be home in three days. She’d even talked to the Mommy on the phone last night, and she’d said it herself! She said she couldn’t wait to see her Peep and hug her and kiss her and drag her under the covers. Peep was happy about all of it except the dragging her under the covers part. She still didn’t understand why the Mommy liked doing that.

She wandered around the house looking for things to do to help clean up. Daddy had done a lot yesterday, and the house looked a lot better. With the cats help, there was no dust to be found anywhere on the floors. It looked so good. Not finding anything to do, she decided to check on Ginger and the kittens. She’d been so busy yesterday that she’d only spent a few minutes with them.

The scene in the spare room was bedlam. Ginger was hauling one after the other kitten back into the box. “They just don’t want to stay in here anymore, and they’ve discovered they can use their tiny claws to grip the box to get out. Help!”

“I’ll herd them back towards you, Ginger, and you can grab them when they get close.” Peep approached one of the black and white kittens who looked at her and yelled, “Monster!”

“Just ignore him. LT taught them that word, and they use it for anything except me, and even then sometimes I’m Mommy monster.” Ginger was amused, but just barely. She looked so tired.

“This looks so difficult, Ginger. Has LT been helping you?”

“Thank the Higher Cat, yes. Yesterday he spent some time helping you clean, but other than that and his own sanity breaks, he’s been in here helping. I do think it’s time to take them home, though. When my owner comes today, I’m going to tell her that.” Ginger sighed, hoping that she’d come soon.

“How will she understand you, Ginger? Daddy doesn’t seem to understand us much of the time, especially if it’s not something obvious.” Peep looked very doubtful.

“Oh, she’ll understand it when I grab a kitten and put it down at her feet!” Ginger sounded very sure of herself, and having heard that plan, Peep agreed.

“Now you just need to get through the time until she comes. Would you rather me help, or get LT in here?” Peep was willing to stay, but figured that Ginger might prefer LT, particularly if they’d be leaving, and LT wouldn’t get to see the kittens until they became outside cats.

“I think he’s had enough of a sanity break. Please do get him for me. I do want him to have as much time with the kittens as possible before I leave. I doubt my owner will allow him in the house to see them. That’s the only thing I don’t like about going home.” Ginger grabbed the brown tiger and plunked him back in the box.

It was a moment’s work to find LT. He was lying just inside the trees, his head on his paws. He looked rather sad. “Oh, Peep, did Ginger send you to get me? I think it’s time to get back inside. She’s talking about taking them home, and I’m going to miss those little guys.” He got up and made his way into the house.

Peep decided that while she was out here she’d check on the turnips. The soaker hose was still on in the garden, and the soil around the plants was delightfully moist. It smelled heavenly, and the tomatoes were so large and ready to eat. They even smelled good to Peep, and she was a carnivore. She carefully looked near each of the pebbles they’d placed in the garden, and was happy to see tiny green shoots just poking through the soil near three of them. Good – they were on their way! By the time the Mommy would even think about leaving again, they’d have full-size turnips here to keep her busy.

Peep sat and watched the turnips grow until she heard the Daddy’s truck come in, followed by another car. Uh oh, she thought. It was probably Ginger’s mommy, come to take her home. I’d better get inside for moral support.

Indeed it was Lettie, and Peep was in time to see Ginger deposit a kitten at Lettie’s feet. “Oh, Ginger, does this mean it’s time to take the kittens home with us? I’d so love that if it’s okay with you, dear. In response, Ginger went and got another kitten while LT kept an eye on the first one. “Jay, do you mind if I take the box that they’ve been sleeping in? I’ll wash the blanket and bring it back tomorrow.”

“Not a problem at all, Lettie. And you might want to let them keep that blanket for a while, as it might be a link between the place they have been since they were born and your house. It might make them feel more comfortable.” Jay was personally a little relieved to have the kittens go home. It wasn’t that they were that much more work, he’d just worried that something would happen to one of them and he’d feel as though he was responsible.

Accompanied by Ginger and LT, Jay carried the box out to Lettie’s car and placed it in the back seat. Ginger promptly jumped into the car and then the box. She settled down and told the kittens that they were going to go for their very first car ride and to be ready for adventure. LT jumped in for a minute and gave Ginger a cat kiss. “I’ll come and see you later today, Ginger – around sundown. Try to get out then. I’ll be looking for you.” He jumped out of the car and ran to the trees before anyone could see his shining eyes. He didn’t think cats were supposed to be able to cry, but he felt like he would cry any minute now.

Lettie closed the back door of the car, and Jay handed her Ginger’s dish and the remaining cat food. “Oh, no, dear. You keep the cat food. It’s just my thank you to your kitties for letting my Ginger and her kittens stay.”

Jay decided not to argue. He had a lump in his throat, and just said that he hoped they’d all do well.

As the car drove out of the driveway, they all heard a muffled howl from the direction that LT had gone. Jay walked out that direction, and found LT crouched in the dead leaves. He stroked LT, and then picked him up and carried him into the house. Jay put the cat on the table, and stroked him while talking to him gently. He told LT that he’d probably miss Ginger as much as he, Jay, missed Mary Rose when she left. The difference was that he’d be able to see Ginger soon, and hopefully the kittens would be allowed out of the house soon. Jay didn’t voice his fears that they’d be given away before they were deemed old enough to go outside. LT was miserable enough as it was and there was no need to add to it.

After a while, Jay picked LT up again and walked into the bedroom. He put LT down on the bed and lay with him, stroking him gently. “I used to do this with you, LT when you were just a kitten, and now look at you. You’re a grown cat with kittens of your own, and you did a marvelous job helping Ginger with them. Now let me take care of you for a little while.” LT settled down against the Daddy’s stomach and both drifted off to sleep.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Slater -

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

House cleaning

Daddy was house cleaning this morning. “Mary Rose will be home in four days, Peep. We’ve got to get this place looking good – lots of cleaning to do.” Peep jumped up and ran to tell Rudy and LT. She knew it would be soon, but to know – four days! That was one paw – just one paw’s worth of days and she would be home. As she ran, she thought about the summer. When the Mommy had left, she didn’t know what four meant. After she’d figured out her own cat-counting system, she’d listened carefully whenever the Daddy talked about numbers, and she’d figured out all the numbers up to ten. She didn’t know how they were written, but she knew their equivalent in her counting system. Ten was paw, paw, scratch, scratch. She really was getting smarter!

Peep found Rudy sunning outside. Peep thought that Rudy must think she could get a tan, like people could for all the time she sat in the sun. With all that black fur, it was too hot to sit in the sun, by Peep’s reckoning, but to each her own. “Rudy! Mommy will be home in four days! I just heard Daddy talking about it. We need to help clean the house. Daddy said so.”

“What the heck can we do to clean? I can’t sweep, or mop and I’m sure not going near bacoom. That thing scares the daylights out of me!” Rudy didn’t even bother to get up. “I’m glad she’s going to be home soon, though. It’s been way too long.”

Peep left her lying there and went to find LT. He could be somewhere near, or just about anywhere. After checking for Fuzzy, Peep went to the edge of the trees and called for LT. She wasn’t about to wander the neighborhood looking for him, but she’d at least try to call him. After a minute or two of calling, she heard a distant reply and sat down to wait for him.

“LT – Mommy is coming home in four days. That’s not very long and Daddy says we need to clean the house. Rudy won’t help; will you help me and the Daddy?” Peep’s excitement made her words all fall over each other. Once he’d figured out what she’d said, LT sat down to think for a minute.

“I don’t know how much cleaning I can do, Peep. Cats don’t have hands, so we can’t clean too well. What do you have in mind?”

“Well, I thought that if we went into all of the little out of the way places, lay down and rolled around, we could collect the dust mice and then go outside and run to get them off our fur.” Peep realized this wasn’t the greatest idea, but it was the best one she had. She’d tried dish washing, and that had been a disaster. She agreed with Rudy about bacoom. That monster was to be avoided at all costs!

LT decided that although Peep’s idea was a little ridiculous, he could at least help her for a while to show that he cared. He did care – he loved the Mommy very much and was so happy that she was coming home. If this was how he could help, silly as it was, he’d do it.
The two cats went inside and found Jay dusting the ceiling and windows in the living room. They shook their heads. How could surfaces like that get dusty? LT stayed in the living room, and Peep headed for the office.

Jay saw LT emerge from under the sofa coated in dust. “LT – what in the world are you doing? You are a dust monster!” He watched as LT dashed out the cat door and shook his head. A moment later, and equally dusty Peep came running into the living room and also ran outside.

Moments later, both cats returned, free fro
m dust. Jay thought to himself that he had a lot more cleaning than he’d thought if the cats got that dusty just from hanging around the house. He watched LT squirm into the corner below the television and squish himself into the very corner, drag himself around the floor and then roll a bit. Had LT gotten into some wild catnip? Once LT was covered in dust again, he watched LT run outside. He went to the window to see what LT was doing, and saw him run around, leap wildly and then even shake like he was a dog. LT then sat down, groomed for a minute and then came back inside. He headed under a table, and squirmed so that he was almost under the baseboard radiator. LT repeated the dragging and rolling and then ran outside again.

As LT ran out, Peep came running in and headed to the office again. Jay followed her, and saw her squeeze under a bookcase, only to emerge minutes later covered in dust. She then ran outside. Jay shook his head. It was almost as though they were helping him clean. Heck, they were helping him, whether or not it was their intention. He hadn’t thought of cleaning under those bookcases, and if that wasn’t help, he didn’t know what was.

Jay went back to his dusting, deciding to put off vacuuming until the cats had finished whatever they were doing. They really hated the vacuum, and he didn’t want to disturb them if they wanted to help. He finished de-cobwebbing the house, and started to clean the stove-top. He heard sneezes from the bedroom and laughed. One of them must have hit the mother lode of dust bunnies. Peep emerged from the bedroom dusty and sneezing and Jay said to her, “Peep, you need to take a break. Once you start sneezing from dust, you’ll just keep sneezing when you go back in the dust.”

Peep headed outside and rid herself of the dust. She agreed with Daddy. She’d had enough of dust for now. She’d finished the office and bedroom, and LT had done the living room and spare room. That just left the kitchen and bathroom, and there weren’t as many dusty spots in those rooms. Enough for now. Peep rolled in the grass, getting every last speck of dust off her fur before starting to groom. It felt good to help get ready for the Mommy. Four more days….

Photo courtesy of Kevin O'Mara -

Monday, August 4, 2008

You're cut off!

On Monday morning Peep went looking for Rudy. They might be in trouble, and she wanted Rudy to know about it, not that it would help. Rudy, as usual, was sunning in the yard. “Rudy, I heard the Daddy talking last night about a charge he didn’t know about on his PayPal. He asked the Mommy if she’d bought anything from Main Street Seed and Supply Company. Then he said that he was going to have to call them and get the charge taken off of his card. He didn’t seem angry about the amount. He even said that it was barely worth it for four dollars, but he wanted to make sure that it wasn’t identity theft. Do you know what identity theft is, Rudy?”

Rudy put her head down on her paws. They were goners, criminals. They’d be locked up in jail for years. “Yeah, Peep. I know what identity theft is, and we kind of did it, although it was closer to credit card fraud.”
“Fraud! Do you mean we’re criminals? You didn’t say anything about this when we made the purchase. We just said the Daddy might be mad we used his cards. Will we have to go to jail? Do they have jail for cats? Would they send us to the pound? I don’t want to live in a little cage just because we wanted the Mommy to stay home!” Peep started pacing nervously.

“Relax, Peep. There’s no way they could figure out we did it. The police would never believe that cats could make internet purchases. We’re in the clear, but I bet the Daddy is going to get very aggravated before this is done.”

Rudy was right. At that moment, Jay was on the phone with Main Street Seed and Supply, who confirmed that an order had been placed on Tuesday, July 29th for one package of turnip seeds, using his PayPal account. The package had been shipped that same day and the US Postal Service had noted that the package had been delivered on Friday. He verified that it had been sent to his address and not somewhere else. He thanked them and hung up. Jay sat there and tried to make sense of it. Would someone have played a practical joke on him and ordered the seeds in his name? But they would have needed his PayPal information.

Jay checked the computer and found that it had been saved to the hard drive, so that anyone using the computer could automatically use his account. He shook his head and found the option to delete all password information on the computer, and made sure that all passwords were gone. He just hoped he knew them all, or he’d been in the soup next time he needed to use some website. It was better than unknown purchases, though.

While he was in the internet tools menu, he remembered he could review the history of websites visited, and decided that since it was less than a week ago, he could probably still find out if his machine had been used to order the seeds. Jay was so engrossed in this he didn’t notice he had an audience of two rather guilty looking cats.

Peep and Rudy had come in at the end of the phone conversation with the seed company. He knew that the seeds had been sent here. So what? He couldn’t pin it on them. They had an airtight alibi – they were cats for goodness sake! Cats can’t use the internet, and what would they want with turnip seeds anyway. Rudy did think that it might become a little clearer when full grown turnips were discovered in the garden, but that wasn’t for almost two months, and Daddy would probably have forgotten by then.

As he perused the browser history, he did indeed find a visit to the Main Street Seed and Supply Company on the 29th. He checked the time to make sure that he hadn’t somehow forgotten that he’d purchased seeds, but it was definitely while he was working. He’d had a repair that had taken all afternoon, and the history said the only to the site had been early in the afternoon.

The phone rang and Jay answered. “Oh, thank you for calling back. Really? Ah, yes, that is one of my email addresses. Yeah, it’s funny, but those are the names of my cats. Thank you, I can take it from here.” Jay hung up the phone and sat staring at the screen. Did his cats have email? Was he going crazy? Jay shook his head and got up. He needed to do something physical and then maybe it would all make sense.

As soon as the cats had heard the Daddy say their email address they ran out of the room as fast as their paws would take them. They burst through the cat door and headed for the trees, Peep close behind Miss Rudy. “We just need to act innocent, that’s it, Peep. Innocent. What could Daddy do to us anyway? Cut up our charge cards?” Rudy giggled nervously.

So they spent some time outside, worrying and wondering. Cat fugitives, that’s what they were. As the morning wore on, Peep fell asleep, but Rudy kept an eye out for the Daddy. He’d probably go to work soon, and then they could take it easy for a while.

Finally the Daddy came out the back door and began looking around the yard – probably for them. After a few minutes, he began to call their names. Rudy nudged Peep saying, “We might as well face the music, Peep.”

“Music, huh? I don’t feel like dancing, Rudy.”

Peep was still mostly asleep.
Rudy gave her a shove and Peep finally woke up. She heard Daddy calling, so the two of them walked over to him. They didn’t exactly crawl over, but they sure didn’t hurry.

“Okay, I know this is a bit crazy, but if you two or LT used my PayPal account to buy turnip seeds, I need to tell you that you can’t do that. It’s my account, not yours, and besides, you have to be human to shop online.” He looked at the two cats, not really expecting an answer.

Neither of them would look the Daddy in the eye. Finally Peep said, “We’re sorry Daddy. We’ll never do it again. Please don’t send us to jail!”

Jay didn’t know what to make of this. His cats usually were glad to see him. They acted as if they knew they’d done something wrong. He reached down and ruffled their fur, first Peep and then Rudy. “I love you guys, but you’re driving me nuts!” He threw up his hands, got in his truck and drove off.

“I think we’re off the hook, Peep. At least until those turnips are ready to harvest.” Rudy headed back to the woods, and Peep went back inside to finish her interrupted nap. Too much excitement. Cats aren’t made for a life of crime.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kittens AND turnips

Jay had hoped for a lazy Sunday, but it didn’t seem like that was going to happen. He’d been awoken just as the sun was coming up by an emergency call that, although it had been fairly close, had taken two hours to resolve. So, when he got back home at about 10:00 AM he was almost ready to head back to bed. Unfortunately, he’d forgotten to feed the cats their special little containers of squishy food before he left, so he was met at the door by hungry cats.

“Daddy, you never forget us! There’s only stale crunchy food in our bowls.” That was Rudy, outside the back door.

“Daddy, I’m hungry! Please feed me.” That was Peep, sitting in the kitchen by the food bowl.

“Daddy, if you don’t put out food soon, I think Ginger’s going to bite my head off.” That was LT, from the doorway of the spare room. Ginger had been complaining for the last hour that her owner never made them wait this long for breakfast.

“Okay, I’m coming. Just let me put my keys down.” Jay hurried to put out food for all four adult cats. They might like the little cans better, but it was this involved a lot more dirty dishes and effort to carefully put out four plates of cat food in the small kitchen. He was always afraid that he’d step on a plate that a cat had pushed into the walkway between the table and the cabinets.

As soon as the first plate hit the floor Ginger was out of her box like a shot and into the kitchen. Having delivered five kittens a week ago hadn’t slowed her down any. LT settled in with the kittens, sighing. He was hungry too, but the priority was to get food into Ginger, so that she wouldn’t do him bodily harm.

One of the black and white kittens looked at him and yelled, “Monster!” Well, LT thought. I guess more of them are learning to talk. I just wish that I’d never called the tiger a little monster. I don’t know that Ginger is going to forget this whole thing too quickly. The little one, despite having called him a monster, climbed onto his back and nuzzled his ear.

“I’m not a monster, I’m your Daddy. Can you say Daddy?” LT thought he’d at least give it a try. He repeated “Daddy” and touched his paw to his chest several more times so that the kitten would know that he was talking about himself.

“Monster Daddy,” the kitten announced and rolled off LT’s back onto one of the ginger kittens who squeaked loudly.
LT sighed. Well, that was at least a little better. He groomed the black and white vigorously until Ginger returned.

“This little one learned a new word, Ginger. Tell your mommy who I am, little one.”

“Daddy Monster!” The kitten was delighted with the attention. Ginger smiled.

“Well, that’s better than just monster, I guess. I’d ask you to teach him Mommy, but I’d probably be a Mommy Monster.” She giggled at the thought. They were so much larger than the kittens that maybe they did seem like monsters, but then she was sure that the kittens had no idea of what a monster was. In their mind monster and cat were the same thing. This could cause some problems if they didn’t figure this out before they met strange cats, but she’d deal with that later. She settled down and sent LT to his breakfast.

After finishing her own breakfast, Peep set out to see if the turnips had sprouted. She found Rudy by the back door and they went off together to check them. “I’m a bit worried that they might need to be watered, and how in the world could we do that?” Peep seriously wanted these turnips to grow.

As they entered the garden they saw that the soil was damp, and that the soaker hose had been set winding through the garden. It had been dry for the last few days, and the cats figured that the Daddy had put it there so his tomato plants would have enough water to grow good tomatoes. They checked the spots where they’d planted the turnip seeds. Nothing yet.

“Did the package say how long it would be until they started growing?” Peep, not being much of a reader, hoped that Rudy had checked the package for this information.

“I don’t remember. Let’s check the package and find out.” They ran to where they’d hidden the package and pulled it out. Rudy read, “Germination in seven to fourteen days. Ugh. It’s only been two days! That’s a long time to wait, and to remember exactly where we planted the darn things.”

“Let’s put a special pebble next to each one we planted. That way we’ll remember. It should be smallish though, in case we put it right above where we put the seed.” Peep’s idea was a good one, so they found pebbles and placed them in the garden by the planting locations.
“Now all we need to do is wait.”

The two cats settled down by the garden. Just in case the seeds sprouted sooner, they wanted to see it happen.

Photo courtesy of
mismisimos -

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Just a Saturday morning

On Saturday morning when Peep went in to see Ginger and the kittens she noticed that they were now in a large cardboard box. That is, from the doorway she could see the box and hear the kittens meowing, with Ginger telling them to please be quiet, as Jay was probably still asleep.

Peep called out to Ginger, “Good morning. How are you all today?”

Ginger’s head appeared above the edge of the box, and she said, “Oh thank the Higher Cat. Someone to talk to! Come on over, Peep.”

Peep approached, and decided to sit on the armchair, as she would then be able to see in the box. Daddy had obviously swiveled it around so that he could sit in it and admire the kittens. “Wow, five kittens make a lot of noise, don’t they?”

“Oh, do you think they’ll wake up Jay?” Ginger was quiet worried about this. She knew she was an uninvited guest, and wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible.

“Oh, he can sleep through thunderstorms. This won’t wake him up.” Peep examined the kittens, and saw that their eyes were open, and that they looked much more like cats now. When they had been born their ears were all smushed down to their heads, but they were almost standing up now.

Peep had always wondered if cats were born with the ability to talk, or if they learned how. Well, now she knew. These kittens were mainly making nonsense sounds or saying “Ma”. She could see why Ginger would be happy to have someone to talk to.

“When did you get the box, Ginger?”

“Oh, Jay put us in it yesterday when he found the brown tiger in the kitchen. I don’t know how he managed to get that far, but his eyes were open and he’s moving around much better than the others. He’s the explorer of the group. I’ve learned to keep a much closer eye on him!” Ginger shook her head.

“Wow, this motherhood thing is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Can I help you with anything? Do you want me to get LT?” Peep personally thought Ginger looked completely exhausted, and needed a break. It obviously wouldn’t be possible to sleep with even one of those little voices screeching near her.

“No, stay and talk for a few minutes, and if he doesn’t come in, you can go find him. He spent a good part of the night with them, the dear. For a fill-in daddy he’s doing a marvelous job. I bet he always wanted kittens of his own because he seems to be loving this opportunity. My owner wants to take us home, and I think I’ll let her in a couple of days. She’s been coming every day and bringing me special treats and taking pictures, but it’s not the same as being able to sneak in at any hour of the day or night to look at her grand-kittens. I also want to be gone by the time your other owner gets home. I know she’s a lovely woman, but she’s going to want to have her home the way she left it, and not with an additional six cats!”

“That’s very considerate, Ginger. You’re a very polite cat, you know that?”

“Well, I was raised with good southern manners, you know. I was frankly appalled when I moved up here and saw how some cats treated each other, but I figured out that I’d had quite a sheltered upbringing, and that probably there were cats just as rude down where I’d come from.” Ginger shook her head. She thought that if everycat would be considerate, that life would be much more, well, civilized.

Just then the brown tabby’s head appeared at the top of the box. “Eek, monster,” the kitten shrilled and dropped back into the box.

“Now, that’s no monster, little one. That is Peep, and she is a friend of ours. Go back up there and say hello.” Ginger’s voice was soft, but firm. Peep was personally glad that she was not one of the kittens.

“Hello,” said the tabby. He looked at her with great curiosity. His little eyes were so wide and he didn’t look convinced that she wasn’t a monster.

“Hi, I’m Peep. I’m a cat just like you and your mommy.” Peep waited for an answer, but didn’t get one. The kitten just dropped back into the box.

“He’s the only one who really talks at all right now, and his vocabulary seems to consist of ‘monster’, ‘hello’ and ‘more’. I’m afraid LT taught him monster. He took a look at him yesterday when his eyes had opened and told him he was a little monster. He was being affectionate, but somehow when he explained to the kitten what a monster was, the kitten decided that all cats were monsters, and that the word monster meant cat. We’ve tried to explain, but I think it’s above his head right now, so don’t take it personally.”

At this point, LT entered the room, yawning. “Good morning, little family. How are you all today?” He looked very happy, but a bit tired.

Hearing his voice, the kittens all started to meow loudly, and Peep decided that it was time for her to let the family have a little time together. Anyway, she needed to go see how the turnips were doing.

Photo courtesy of mismisimos-

Friday, August 1, 2008

Planting turnips

Peep awoke early on Friday and went in search of Rudy. When she found her Peep said, “Rudy, when should we start watching the mailbox?”

Stretching, Rudy replied casually, “Well, certainly not until after the Daddy leaves. How funny that he caught you in the mailbox yesterday!” Rudy giggled and finally broke into a full cat laugh at the sight of the Daddy peering at Peep in the mailbox. She hadn’t had such a good laugh in months.

“Funny for you, maybe, but embarrassing for me. Imagine him pulling me out of the mailbox like I was a package. Hummph.” Peep didn’t see the humor in it yet. She probably would in a few days, but she was still smarting from the shame of the Daddy finding her in the box. “Do you know when the postman comes? Sometimes Daddy comes home for lunch, and I wouldn’t want him to get the package before we did.”

“Well, it happens that I do know when he comes. He usually comes after lunch, and Daddy never checks the mail until he gets home for the whole day. That means we can just do whatever we want for a few hours, and then take turns guarding the box from under a tree. There’s no reason we need to be uncomfortable. It’s not like we’re going to wait in the box and pounce out at the mailman.” That sent Rudy into giggles again.

Peep rolled her eyes and walked away. It wasn’t like it was Rudy who was going to have to jump up there and climb in the box again. It was her, the Peep, who would have to do it. She decided that a leisurely grooming session and a nap were the thing to do.

The Daddy came home for lunch, and as soon as he’d left, the two cats set out for the mailbox. They hadn’t included LT in any of their plans, because they weren’t sure that LT would approve of their use of Daddy’s PayPal account. They thought that $1.98 wasn’t a lot of money, but it could be more than he’d have wanted to spend.

“Rudy, I didn’t tell you. I talked to the Mommy last night. She was asking the Daddy if he’d come down to Virginia because she’s doing a presentation about the turnips next Thursday. She said she wasn’t sure it was going to be finished, but they were presenting it anyway. I guess that means that the turnips have been grown and dug up and she’s cooking them for people. She probably wants the Daddy to taste her turnips when she gives it to everyone else. She said they get to go to Washington to do this presentation. I wonder if she’ll cook the turnips before she leaves or if she’ll cook them in Washington….”

Rudy was having trouble following Peep’s line of reasoning. “What makes you think she’s cooking the turnips? Maybe it’s just that she’s going to show them off. Sometimes people have contests for the biggest vegetable. Maybe she’s going to harvest it on Wednesday and then take it to Washington on Thursday to have it weighed. I don’t understand why you think she’s cooking it.”

Shaking her head, Peep said matter-of-factly, “It’s because the Mommy is such a good cook. She’d cook the turnips better than anyone else. The Daddy always talks about what a good cook she is.”

“Maybe you’re right, but there’s an equal chance that it’s just how big or how heavy the turnip is, or maybe it’s something else altogether. Maybe the turnip project had to do with using math to grow turnips that have special qualities. I bet they're superhero turnips!” Rudy collapsed giggling again. Everything seemed to be tickling her funny bone today. She didn’t know why she felt so good, but she did.

Peep and Rudy took turns making up wilder and wilder stories about what the Mommy could be doing with turnips while they waiting for the mailman. They’d just come up with an idea that they were growing giant turnips to be used as satellites when the mailman arrived. His van pulled up to the mailbox and they saw him put a bundle of regular envelopes and one very thick orangey one in the box.

After he’d driven away, the cats cautiously approached the box. Rudy checked for cars, and the Peep prepared to make her leap. When Rudy called the all clear, Peep launched herself and landed safely on the top of the mailbox. She carefully opened the box and considered whether she could get in from the top or if she needed to jump down and vault straight into the box. She finally decided that the metal was so smooth that she’d have nothing to hold on to, and so she jumped down and then immediately leaped into the open box.

“Bill, bill, advertisement, bill, bill, ooh, a check, advertisement,” Peep rattled on as she pushed the envelopes aside.

“Whatever are you saying, Peep?”

“Well, that’s what Daddy says when he goes through the mail. If he has more checks than bills he’s happy and if has more bills than checks he complains. I have no idea what bills and checks are, but bills are bad envelopes and checks are good envelopes. Advertisements are garbage.” Peep said the last authoritatively. At least she knew about them.

“Here it is, I think. It’s got a picture of a barn on the front of the envelope. Peep grabbed the thick envelope in her teeth and started to back out. She couldn’t turn around with all the mail in there. She tried to be careful and not fall, but misjudged her last step and flew backwards out of the box with the envelope clutched in her mouth. Peep executed a beautiful mid-air twist and landed squarely on all four paws.

Rudy meowed a cheer, and said, “I’ll give you a 10 on that landing Peep. You nailed it.”

Dropping the envelope, Peep replied, “Thank you, thank you. You’ve been a marvelous audience.” She giggled and picked up the envelope and the two trotted into the back yard. There they opened the envelope and found a smaller one inside. It had a picture of a turnip on one side and lots of writing on the other.

Rudy, being the literate one of the pair, read the instructions for the planting and care of turnips. It seemed simple enough, and they scouted the garden for a likely spot. They figured that if they planted a couple between some other plants, they wouldn’t get mowed by the lawn mower. The planting took a few minutes, and then Rudy went and hid the seed package in a safe place where mice or other animals couldn’t get to it. Seeds were seeds, and any of them would have happily made a meal of the turnip seeds and Peep and Rudy did not want that to happen.

Their jobs done, the cats went for a well-deserved rest. Peep didn’t wake up until the Daddy came home. He came in and sat next to where she was sleeping on the couch and said to her, “Peep, do you know why the mail has paw prints on it?”

Peep just looked innocent and yawned at him. There were some things he was better off not knowing.

Photo courtesy of Travis S. -