Thursday, September 30, 2010

All turkeys are not named Tom

Kid sighed.  Another stormy day and here he was – out in the rain.  He knew he could probably get into Val’s house and find a cozy spot, but it was such a hassle to get past Buddy.  He’d need to find a time when Buddy was sleeping, or at least somewhere out of sight of the deck, and then scoot inside quickly.  No matter how much Ziggy and Bella loved him, they were not going to be interested in doing escort duty with all this wind and rain.  So, he decided to check out his alternate shelters for inclement weather. 

Bart’s farm had the best variety, but it kind of depended on which animals were in which fields.  He didn’t like the goats much.  They smelled and had one-track minds.  Food.  Food.  Food.  When was the farmer going to feed them?  What would they get?  No matter that he always brought the same thing – they were always hopeful that he’d bring something new and interesting.  The chickens were just plain insane.  They thought he’d try to catch them and eat them, despite that most of them were as big as he was.  Admittedly he did have claws and teeth that were much more effective than their dinky little beaks, but he didn’t want to kill chickens.  All Kid had to do was set foot inside their enclosure and they’d all start screaming, “Fox, fox!”  He’d tried to explain that he was not a fox, wasn’t even closely related to the species and didn’t look anything like a fox, but they didn’t listen. 

The cows were half-way decent conversationalists, but their field was just too messy in the rain.  Their huge hooves churned up the mud and puddles formed in the depressions.  They also were not clean-minded about where they dropped their, um, droppings, and when it rained the field became a land-mine of well, it’s better not to say.  So, the cow shelter was out. 

Kid picked his way down the hedgerow between Val and Bart’s property carefully, keeping an eye out for Charlie-the-dog.  He doubted Charlie would be out today, and they actually got along pretty well, but only after Charlie had his initial canine reaction of ‘cats are to be chased’.  Charlie chased, Kid ran, Kid jumped up on fence and scolded Charlie, Charlie calmed down.  Same routine every time.  Dogs just don’t learn from experience. 

Today, however Kid noticed a new creature – one he’d never seen before.  He thought it was a bird, because it kind of looked like the vultures that he’d seen from time to time.  He approached its enclosure carefully, as he didn’t know if it would try to escape or attack him. 

He called out a hello to it, and it jumped in the air about six inches.  Okay, so whatever it was, it was nervous.  “Hi, I’m Kid and I live on the other side of the hedgerow.  Howdy, neighbor.”

The creature looked at him out of one eye, head turned and cocked and gave a somewhat garbled greeting.  Kid thought that perhaps the creature was Italian, like Bart and as a new arrival didn’t speak English well.  “I was looking for a shelter from the rain, although it seems to have stopped for the moment, and I saw you here.  I thought I would be neighborly and welcome you to the area.”
The creature bobbed its head on its long neck a couple times and said in a much clearer voice, “My name is Lemuel.  I’m sorry, you startled me.  I thought I’d seen most of the animals who lived here and I hadn’t seen a cat.”

“Pleased to meet you, Lemuel.  That’s quite an unusual name.  As I said, I live across the hedgerow.  What kind of creature are you, exactly?”

Lemuel raised his head and assumed a regal pose.  “I am a turkey.  I am one of a species that is actually native to this land, as opposed to most of these other animals who were brought from other countries.  I can trace my pedigree back 200 generations.  As to my name, it was my sixth cousin’s, twice removed.  Unfortunately, the farmer here calls me Tom.  I don’t know why, but humans like to call all turkeys Tom, even if they are female.”

Kid, who couldn’t trace his pedigree back to who exactly was his father, wasn’t awfully impressed with lineage.  “Well, I’m glad to welcome you to the farm, and to assure you that I will not chase you, harass you or try to eat you.  In any case, you’re bigger than I am, so I don’t know if I could.” 

The settled down for a chat, since it looked like the rain would hold off for a bit.  Lemuel had come from a farm about a half-hour away, and had come only recently to Bart’s place.  He was a bit lonely, as Bart had bought only one turkey.  Lemuel thought that was rather short-sighted, as one male turkey does not make a dynasty on his own.  He’d come to the conclusion though that Bart was just checking out the set-up for turkeys and would bring females in a week or so once he saw how Lemuel settled in.

As they chatted, the clouds darkened again, and Kid looked anxiously at the sky.  “Lemuel, I think it’s going to rain soon.  If you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a nice dry place to wait out the next downpour.”

“It was nice to meet you, Kid.  I look forward to talking with you again and introducing you to the rest of my flock when they arrive.  It will be soon, I am sure.”  With that Kid ran off and took shelter in a neighbor’s shed, conveniently left open.  A pile of soft cushions from a lawn chair was the perfect place to nap away a rainy afternoon.  

Photo courtesy of Martin Pettitt -

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rain is tough on old bones

LT truly hated rain.   Most cats don’t like water in general and rain in particular because it got in their coats and made them heavy and uncomfortable, but LT just hated it.  Maybe it was because he was primarily an outdoor cat who went inside for food and a bit of love and companionship from the Daddy.  Maybe it was because he was getting older.  Whatever the reason – he hated rain.  If he went inside he’d have to put up with Rudy’s nattering on about something he didn’t care about (like her soap opera), or Great Cat forbid, people other than Daddy. 

His bones hurt, and even when he wasn’t downright wet he was damp.  He couldn’t groom the dampness out, or even roll on something to get it absorbed.  The air was so full of moisture that it beaded on his fur.  He finally decided he was a feline substitute for the yard, and instead of the dew forming on the roses, it formed on him. 

He sat in the garage, but it smelled like oil and truck parts, so he’d left.  He sat in his little house, but the wood was damp and smelled like, well, wet wood.  He sat under Daddy’s truck, and the water seeped in after him, wetting his paws.  He sat under the deck up close against the house, and it dripped through the cracks onto his fur.  Finally he gave up and went in the house.  Even Rudy was better than this constant wet. 

The cat door closed with a thump that mirrored LT’s mood.  If anyone crossed him, he’d take a swipe at them, claws out, and the hell with the consequences.  Peep saw him come in, judged his mood to be bad and ignored him, covertly watching him with slitted eyes.  When he’d stomped into the office, she quietly got up and went looking for Rudy who happened to be asleep on the china cabinet and hadn’t noticed LT go by. 

“Rudy,” Peep whispered, so that hopefully LT wouldn’t hear her. “LT just came in and I think he’s having a bad day with all this rain.  His tail was lashing like crazy and he was walking really stiff.”  She giggled a bit. “I know it’s not funny, but there was so much water beaded on his fur he would have thrown rainbows if the sun was out.  Don’t bug him or talk to him about stuff, okay?”

“I’m not as insensitive as you think, Peep.  My back legs are hurting me today, so I know how LT feels, at least a little.  I’ll leave him be, unless you think maybe he might like some company.”  Rudy was offended, but not seriously so.

Peep let LT sit in the office for a bit, and went quietly in, trying to judge his mood.  LT was grooming the moisture off his paws, and Peep could see from how stiff he was that he’d have trouble getting to his back.  She settled down next to him and silently began to groom his hindquarters.  Eventually they met in the middle of his belly and LT quietly said, “Thanks, Peep.  This gets harder every year.  Most of the time I don’t mind getting old, but the stiffness in the rain is a bit tough.  Now if I could only get warm….” 

Peep looked at him and gently asked if he would mind some quiet company.  LT replied, “So long as that Rudy keeps her mouth shut about that soap opera of hers, I would really appreciate it.” 

LT padded into the bedroom and jumped up on the bed.  Peep got Rudy, telling her that she needed to keep her lips zipped and the two of them settled on the bed, one on each side of LT.  Their combined body heat warmed LT, all of them for that matter, and within half an hour they were asleep.  When the Daddy came home that was how he found them.  Three cats, who were now all curled into each other on the bed.  Daddy backed out silently and decided that he’d sit in the living room and read quietly, as he didn’t want to disturb such a peaceful pile of cats.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Buddy, remaking his image

Buddy had been working hard the last few days to repair his image with the yarn lady.  The first time she’d written about all of them in the blog she had portrayed him as an evil cat, who terrorized poor, poor Kid.  When the others had told him about that, he hadn’t believed it.  She’d seen him for just moments, sitting below the deck, watching as Ziggy and Bella ran into the house with Kid.  He wasn’t evil – he was just protecting his territory.  Cats are supposed to do that. 

It wasn’t even right that Val considered Kid to be part of their family.  He spent most of his time either in the next door neighbor’s yard or at Bart’s farm at the back of the property.  He only came in at mealtime, and then claimed more than his fair share of the squishy food.  But Val was convinced that she was the only one who fed him, so she made sure that twice a day he got his double ration of squishy food.  Buddy only chased him to make his point that it was really his place, and Kid was just a visitor with kitchen privileges. 

When Buddy realized that the yarn lady was going to stay with them, he was delighted.  Now that Val was working almost every day, there was no one around to open the door for him when he wanted to come in for a smackeral of crunchies or for a nap on a soft place.  If he was lucky, she’d be around during the day and could act as doorman and even provide on-demand rubs. 

He’d watched her for a day or two to make sure she really was a human who truly appreciated cats.  He noticed that she’d stop and rub Emma’s head and tell her how much she looked like Puddin’ Cat.  Buddy didn’t know who that was, but was happy to see that she had proper head scratching and belly rubbing skills.  When Kid came in she made a fuss over him, telling him what a beautiful calico he was, and carefully scratching the places he couldn’t reach at the back of his ears. 

The yarn lady had also approached him, but up until today he’d allowed only the briefest contact before retreating to observe.  She didn’t seem offended, and when he moved away she talked to him about how she’d like to scratch behind his ears and rub his belly if he’d let her.  He really liked that she didn’t talk baby talk – the voice she used for the cats was the same as the voice she used to talk to Val.  Smart human.  She recognized how intelligent they were.  He also noticed she did use a ‘pet’ voice to the dogs sometimes, and figured that she realized that their intelligence wasn’t up to the level of the cats, and adjusted how she spoke accordingly.

So this morning when Buddy saw her on the deck he jumped up on the rail and walked straight over to the yarn lady.  He butted her hand with his head, and allowed her to provide a lengthy scratch to his ears and the sides of his jaw.  He then carefully flopped onto his side, presenting his belly for her attention.  She not only gave a belly rub, but used her other hand to make sure he didn’t fall off the rail onto the deck.  He appreciated her care, especially since he was enjoying it so much that he wasn’t exactly paying attention to his balance.  Eventually he sat up and she gently scratched the area at the back of his neck and told him how happy she was that he’d accepted her.  Buddy thought to himself that her opinion of him had probably changed considerably, and he liked that and sat there and let her scratch him some more. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Witness tampering

I just finished a consultation with Cooper McKenna, my lawyer for the class action lawsuit and he is not happy with me.  It appears that I may have compromised my position as I could now be considered as using undue influence over some of the plaintiffs in the case.  I’m staying with Val right now, and she is the Ziggy and Bella’s owner.  I didn’t consider this when I needed a place to stay.  I knew she was looking for a housemate and we got along well, so I asked and she said, fine, bring your stuff over. 

Well, I now see Ziggy and Bella every day and pet them and talk to them, and Cooper thinks that could be interpreted as trying to influence either their participation in the suit, or the content of any testimony they might give.  He also asked me if I had done anything that could be considered abusive to either of them.  Of course I haven’t abused them!  They are lovely little dogs, and I told him that, describing them to him – Ziggy, the enthusiastic although probably not too bright Maltese and Bella, the sausage shaped Chihuahua.  Cooper informed me that just how I’d described the dogs could be considered as verbal abuse, as I could be trying to demean or shame the dogs since I’ve said that in front of them.  I think those two things are mutually exclusive!  Either I’m being nice to them, or I’m verbally abusing them, right?  Perhaps a sharp lawyer might make the case that I could be systematically trying to break them down, and so am doing both. 

There’s no additional news on the lawsuit, other than some other dogs who have signed on as plaintiffs.  Cooper hasn’t said anything more about how he will handle the case, and we haven’t even been assigned a judge, much less a court date.  I’m not in a hurry to take this to court, as I’m not sure how I’m going to handle all the lawyer and court fees.  It’s not as though I can file a counter-suit against dogs for my court costs.  I’d probably just get paid in Milk Bones, and although Cooper might enjoy them, the bills I’ve received are for U.S. currency, and not dog goodies. 

I’m not going to change my behavior with Ziggy and Bella just because of this suit.  I won’t ignore them because I’d consider that emotional neglect, and I’m not leaving here on the say-so of a poodle, even if he is my lawyer. 
Bella and Ziggy begging for pizza

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Helping the kitsune

The Cat Club had a surprising visitor this week.  LT had opened the meeting as usual, welcoming everyone and asking if they had any news for the group.  Peep and Rudy both reported seeing the fox around the property over the last couple days.  She seemed to be watching them carefully or checking out the house and cars.  Rudy was concerned.  “Do you think she’s actually some sort of sneak thief who’s canvassing our property so she can rob it?” 

LT replied, “I doubt it.  What do our humans have that a fox would want?  Furniture, clothes, old radios?  I don’t think those are items that would interest a fox.”

“Food!  Food!  She probably wants the treats Daddy gives us, or the food that he and Mommy eat.”  Food was Rudy’s main love in life (other than One Life to Live), and if her food supply was threatened she would fight. 

The other cats looked unconvinced.  Foxes were pretty good at securing their own food supplies, and this one hadn’t even scavenged the garbage cans.  As LT was about to say that he didn’t think that would be a concern, the fox appeared at the edge of the trees. 

“I’m not going to take your food, or the humans’ clothes or furniture, although I wouldn’t turn up my nose at a cozy blanket to sleep on.  May I join you all?”  Inariko was a polite fox and had a healthy respect for the damage that eight cats could do to her if they wanted.  Yes, she could disappear on them, but they might actually damage her before she could react if they were very, very quick. 

LT looked at the other cats to see what they thought of this request.  “Does anyone object if Inariko approaches?”  When no one objected, he then asked, “Will everyone agree to keep their claws in and not harass her while she is here at the meeting?  I would like to offer her the same consideration we show each other at these meetings.”  When the other cats agreed, Inariko approached. 

“As I’ve told you, my name is Inariko.  I’m not exactly a fox, or more accurately, I am not just a fox….”  Inariko went on to explain that she was a kitsune and what exactly a kitsune was and did.  When they were reluctant to accept her explanation, she first disappeared right from where she was sitting, and then reappeared as an exact duplicate of Peep.  That demonstration scared the daylights out of all of the cats, and Bunny got hysterical at the sight of two Peeps.  Inariko vanished again and reappeared in her fox form and the others calmed Bunny. 

“Okay, okay, we accept that you’re some sort of a spirit that’s called a kitsune!  So why are you here?”  Rudy asked this question, because she was suddenly afraid that the kitsune had come to take her friend Harry, who was also kind of a spirit cat, being that he was the ghost of a cat who had lived on the property many years ago. 

Inariko posed prettily and told them.  She thought if she made a good visual impression it might help her message.  “That’s what I want to talk to you about.  I am a kitsune that is sometimes sent somewhere to do a good turn for humans or various animals.  When I arrived here I didn’t know why I was here, but last night I realized it was because something is going to happen on this land to the humans and cats who live here.  I’ve been hanging around here for a while now, and I really like all of you, and I don’t want you or your humans to get hurt.  Unfortunately, I probably won’t know exactly what the threat is until it happens, so all of you could really help me by keeping an eye out for anything unusual and sounding some sort of alarm when it does, so I can respond.” 

All of the cats instantly agreed to help Inariko keep a watch on the property and its inhabitants.  Of course LT, Peep and Rudy were worried about the Mommy and Daddy, but the other cats were just concerned about their friends.  They broke the day up into watches, and the cats agreed to patrol the property during their chosen time.  Luckily, the human lady with whom Bunny, Mr. Snuggles, Snoogums and Ladybug lived had relaxed her policy of not letting the cats out much and they were able to promise their help. 

As to the alarm, after scavenging the property for likely items, the cats constructed a makeshift tower out of bits of metal left over from what the Daddy used for his business.  They figured if they knocked it over, it would make a lot of noise.  Since neither human was home, they tried it out, and it was quite successful.  It was so loud that it woke a groundhog, who came out and scolded them thoroughly for disturbing his sleep, until he realized he’d overslept, after which he thanked them profusely. 

With their watch schedule and alarm tower in place, they ended the meeting, promising Inariko that they would give her any help they could.  Later that evening, when the Mommy and Daddy arrived home, they were greeted by all three cats who had been worried that something might happen to them before they could get home.  Peep wove in and out between the humans’ legs, Rudy escorted them into the house, and LT gravely watched from the walkway and then came in and butted his head against the Daddy’s hand, as he sat on the couch.  Each cat knew he or she would do everything possible to protect the Mommy and Daddy, even more than themselves or each other.  Life wouldn’t be worth living otherwise. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hungry cats

Emma, Buddy and Kid were hungry.  It was morning and therefore a human should supply food.  There was a human wandering around the house, therefore she should provide food.  It wasn’t Val, who was still asleep, but rather some other nice lady they had met before and who was happy to rub their heads and scratch behind their ears.  Unfortunately, nice as she was, she didn’t know where the cat food was, or so she explained at length.  

Kid sat in his special spot, right next to his food bowl on a low cabinet, and every time the human walked by he stood up and arched his back and tried to look adorable, hungry and friendly at the same time to encourage her to provide noms.  Emma sat under the table, perched on one of the legs and Buddy threaded his way between the human’s legs to let her know he was hungry.  

The human, to her credit did try to figure out where the food was.  She found a container of dry food and put a scoop in Kid’s bowl.  To be polite, Kid ate a few mouthfuls, but he wanted squishy food.  “It’s in the cabinet to the right of the stove.  If it’s not in front, just push everything around – you’ll find it.”  

Unfortunately, the human didn’t speak cat.  Kid knew that, but was hungry enough that he repeated it for emphasis.  The human thought he wanted love, so she stopped and scratched his ears, rubbed his head and apologized again for her lack of knowledge, and promised she’d get it right tomorrow.  

Ziggy and Bella wandered into the kitchen when they heard food going into a bowl.  Who knows, maybe she’d feed them too.  Ziggy bounced up to her and said, “Good morning, yarn lady.  I hope you slept well.  Wouldn’t you like to feed us all now?  Everyone gets a bit of squishy food from one of the cans in the cabinet.  I know it’s cat food, but Bella and I get to eat it because we help Kid get in the house.  I like cat food, I really do.  It’s squishy and tasty and I wish Val would give us our own can for our help.  You know that we risk our delicate skin twice a day to help Kid get in here.”  

The yarn lady bent down to pet Ziggy and try to convince him to be a bit quieter since Val was still sleeping.  Bella looked at him and snorted.  “Your mouth has the runs, Zig.  And no way we’re going to get our own can of food, and even if we did, I wouldn’t eat it all.  I’m watching my figure, you know.”  

Buddy offered a sotto voce comment from the dining room.  “It’s an easy figure to watch, since there’s so much of it.” With his full voice he said, “Ziggy – if I wanted to nail that furball, Kid, I would.  You’re no match for me.  I just let you two do it because you look so darned silly escorting that cat.  Think about it.  Do you see me attacking Kid in the house?  No.  We’ve all been sitting here for the last half hour, oh-so-patiently waiting for food and I haven’t laid a claw on him.”

Just then they heard Val come out of her bedroom.  Food time!  She showed the yarn lady where she kept the squishy food and how much to give everyone, although she did explain that Kid could have more if he wanted it, since the only time he came in to eat was morning and evening.  Buddy and Emma could graze on crunchies at other times.  

Kid finished eating and returned to his outdoor domain.  Buddy and Emma finished their portions and went out to sit on the deck, since it was such a lovely morning.  Bella and Ziggy settled down on their blankie under the coffee table.  Just before he dozed off for his morning nap it occurred to Ziggy that the yarn lady hadn’t asked about feeding him and Bella.  Uh-oh.  He’d have to rectify that situation later.  She sure needed to know where the dog food was kept and how much to give them.  



Friday, September 24, 2010

Action and more action

Inariko was a fox with a mission, but up until today she hadn’t known what that mission was.  She’d found herself at the house with the radio tower and the three cats one day, not quite sure how she’d gotten there, or for that matter where she’d come from.  She did recall that things like this had happened before, and usually when there was something she was supposed to do. 

You see, Inariko wasn’t an ordinary fox, although she looked like one.  She was a kitsune, or fox spirit.  As far as she knew she was the only kitsune in the United States, or at least in New Jersey.  Her kind were from the far east and most lived in Japan.  As a spirit, she could do things of which real foxes could only dream.  Her favorite was disappearing.  She could make herself vanish at will.  After many long years of using this skill, she realized it was most effective if she did it just out of sight of the beings she was trying to fool.  That way they weren’t sure what happened.  If she just up and vanished in front of someone, there was a good chance it would be passed off as some sort of hallucination or dream.  Just because she was a fox spirit, that didn’t mean she didn’t have the same tricksy nature real foxes had. 

All in all, Inariko was a kind kitsune.  Most were, but some used their abilities to lead others to harm, probably just because they were totally unpleasant spirits.  Another ability kitsune had was to be able to appear as another type of being.  Most commonly kitsune would appear as beautiful human women, but they could appear to be human children or even men if they preferred.  They could also appear as other animals, and Inariko had experimented with many of these, sometimes just for fun. 

Soon after she’d arrived at Peep, LT and Rudy’s house, Inariko had realized that they were very special cats.  Not special like her, they were just mortal housecats, but the way they cared about each other and their humans was quite extraordinary.  Witness the way LT and the others had been patrolling the property for bees and other stingy things.  Other cats might chase flying bugs, but not monitor the property to keep them away. Another example was how they care about each other’s feelings.  They were so good about how they’d told Greymalkin they didn’t want to be bossed around, and then made sure she knew they liked her for herself.  They also had an incredible sense of humor.  Inariko was still laughing about the ‘delicacies’ Rudy and Peep had made the other day. 

But now Inariko’s mission was clear, well kind of clear.  She was there to protect this household against some sort of threat.  She’d awakened in the night to a sure knowledge that something bad was going to happen to this household, human and cat alike, and it was up to Inariko to make sure it didn’t harm them.  Unfortunately she didn’t know if it was some sort of disaster, like a fire, or perhaps an attack by a wild animal.  She just knew she needed to act when it happened, and in order to do that she had to be on the lookout for whatever it was.  So, it was time for action and more action.  First to watch for whatever it was, and then to do everything in her power to counter it.  She’d come to love the beings in this household, and she didn’t want anything to happen to them.  

Image courtesy of Ron Dunnington -

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's not paranoia if they are out to get you

Rudy knew she wasn’t paranoid.  The humans were out to get her.  First on Saturday, Mommy had taken her to Tibet, and she’d received more shots than the other two cats combined.  And then on Tuesday, the Daddy had scooped her up, shoved her into the cat carrier and driven her off to Tibet, only to abandon her there.  It was bad enough going to Tibet, but at least Mommy or Daddy would be there with her, but Daddy just put down the carrier by the desk, had a brief conversation with someone and then just – left.  Well, admittedly he did tell Rudy that he’d be back for her later, and that she’d be fine, but he left her there.  In Tibet.  With the man who liked to torture cats.  What worse fate was there? 

Rudy had cowered in her carrier for what seemed like hours, but probably wasn’t.  Then she was hauled out of the carrier by That Man and plonked on the table.  He held her down and stuck yet another needle in her nether quarters.  After that, her memory got very fuzzy.  She remembered yowling at him, “Let go of me.  I’m going to shred your hands for giving me another shot,” but then things got confused and she didn’t remember anything clearly.  The next thing she knew, she heard the Daddy’s voice again, and she was back in her carrier.  Her brain didn’t feel like it was quite connected to her skull, and her mouth hurt like anything.  This wasn’t how she felt when she came here, and it wasn’t like she’d felt any time before when she’d been to Tibet. 

Daddy picked up the carrier and brought her out to the truck.  The drive home was torture.  She was dizzy and couldn’t control her legs, so every time Daddy turned a corner she just slid around in the carrier.  Finally they arrived home and Daddy brought her into the kitchen.  When he opened the carrier she tried to bolt, but couldn’t.  She wobbled her way out, slowly.  “What did he do to me?  I’m crippled for life and my mouth hurts so bad I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat again.”

When Daddy tried to soothe her, she tried to scratch him, but kind of fell over when she couldn’t balance on three paws.  Luckily she was already on the floor, so it was more like she just fell on her side a bit.  He backed away, telling her that she’d feel better within a couple hours.  She had sincerely doubted it at the time, but by dark she was feeling much better.  The mouth was still a little sore, but nothing seemed to be missing.  The gums around the tops of her teeth were just ouchy.  She tried eating squishy food very carefully and found her mouth to be working fine.  She could walk pretty well, also, but her balance was a bit off.  She decided not to run or jump, as she wouldn’t know if she’d get to her desired destination. 

When Peep came in to eat, Rudy described her ordeal.  Peep replied, “Well, that’s better than what I’d heard on Saturday.  They were talking about pulling two of your teeth, and it sounds like you still have them all.  That’s something to be glad about, isn’t it?”  Rudy growled at her, and would have swatted her if she thought she could do it without falling over.  She decided this dizziness was the pits, and suddenly had some sympathy for the yarn lady, who was dizzy all the time. 

By the next morning Rudy was totally back to normal, at least physically.  Emotionally she was a bit of a wreck.  Every time she heard a noise she was convinced that it was the Daddy and he was going to grab her and take her to Tibet.  He’d tried to pet her, and she growled at him, “Move it or lose it,” and when he didn’t back off fast enough, she nailed his hand.  It wasn’t even enough to break the skin, but she didn’t want to let him close enough to grab her.  She spent the rest of the day outdoors, and not in her usual spot on the walkway.  She hid beyond the edge of the trees, figuring she’d see the Daddy before he could catch her.  She only went in to eat when he was away from the house.  She was taking no chances. 

This morning LT had told her to get over herself when she asked him to check and make sure Daddy wasn’t hiding somewhere in the house.  She hadn’t seen him leave and didn’t want to take any chances, even though the big truck was gone. 

Rudy told LT and then Peep that she was sure he’d just grab her and take her to Tibet again. If not today, then tomorrow, or sometime soon.  Both Peep and LT shook their heads, but didn’t try to argue with Rudy.  Rudy thought that meant they agreed with her, but actually they’d just decided they shouldn’t try to argue with a delusional cat. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Winter preparations

Tatum and Ursula, as indoor cats were experiencing the oncoming fall in rather second-hand manner.  The windows upstairs in Ande’s room were open all the time and the air conditioner was off, and that was about as close as they came to the great outdoors.  Tatum loved to sit on the window sill and smell all the delicious smells that came in: grass, leaf mold, pine trees and occasionally the scent of cooking meat from the next door neighbor’s barbecue.  

Both cats liked to sit in windows and watch the activities of the birds, animals and insects that lived in or visited the back yard.  The front windows weren’t as interesting, as mostly it was just cars rushing by at very fast speeds.  Recently they both had observed squirrels rushing around the yard carrying nuts.  Neither cat had any idea where they were getting the nuts, as they hadn’t seen any nut trees in the yard.  They knew from conversations that there used to be a walnut tree over the back patio that dropped nuts on people’s heads and a black walnut tree over near the Jones’ house, but both of them had been cut down years ago, as they had been sickly.  

This morning Tatum got up the courage to ask a squirrel why he was running around with all these nuts.  “Winter, got to prepare for winter,” the squirrel replied.  “If I don’t have a supply of nuts and seeds cached away I might not make it through the winter.  And if my mate has pups I’ll need even more, as I’ll need to feed her and the babies when they are old enough.  Oh, I need a lot more nuts!”  The squirrel ran off, nut in mouth, and Tatum sat back to think.

Last fall and winter he’d been at the SPCA.  He hadn’t come to live here until winter was nearly over.  Were there things he as an indoor cat needed to do to prepare?  Tatum decided to ask Ursula.  

“Hmmm, I don’t know, Tatum.  Last fall I was a very little kitten.  I was only born in summer, you know.  At this time of year I was just getting used to eating squishy food and drank out of my bottle.  But, if the squirrels are preparing for winter, we’d probably better do the same.”  Ursula ran off with her usual enthusiasm to start her preparations, without knowing exactly what they should be.  

Tatum was more of a thoughtful cat.  He liked to have a plan, rather than just running off at the first enthusiasm.  His first thought was to do some internet research, but Ande was playing a Van Morrison marathon on the computer.  He loved the music, but wished she’d get off so he do some research.  He couldn’t even use his beloved Daddy’s computer, as the noisy girl was using that one to play games.  Bowing to the inevitable, Tatum sat and swayed gently to the music, laughing occasionally when Ande started bopping around in her seat.  

Ursula walked past him into the kitchen and returned in a minute with her cheeks puffed out.  She gestured with her head for Tatum to follow her.  She led him into the living room and under the couch.  Ursula carefully spit out the crunchy food she’d been holding in her mouth and proceeded to cover it with a sock that had been lost under the couch.  “This is it, Tatum.  We’ve got to make caches of food all around the house, so that in winter we’ll have enough food!”  Ursula was proud of her idea.  “There’s room under this sock for more, and we can put it behind the dressers and in the back of the closets.  I think we could even fill up the humans’ shoes with crunchy food.”  

Tatum wasn’t so sure of this idea.  “Ursula, the reason the squirrel needs to hide his nuts is because it might snow and he can’t get to the food on the ground.  I don’t think it’s going to snow in our house, do you?  Did it snow in here last winter?  When it rains it stays outside unless Ande’s left her window open, and even then just a little gets in.  Besides, don’t you think that the noisy girl will feed us, even if it does snow?”

Ursula had to think about this for a minute.  She’d started on a course of action, and didn’t want to back down, but had trouble coming up with reasons for a minute.  “Oh, what if it snows so bad that they can’t get out to buy us more crunchy food?  Then we’d be could starve!  We have to put caches aside for times like that.   And I’d appreciate you not calling my dear, sweet Pikachu ‘the noisy girl’.  She’s the best person in the world!  She feeds me and lets me sleep in her room and snuggles with me as much as I want.”

Tatum had his own opinion on that, although she was the only person he’d let pick him up, but that was just because it was the only time she wasn’t being noisy and bouncy.  And she knew how to carry him nicely and put him down as soon as she got him wherever he was supposed to be going.  For a snuggle, he preferred Ande, but still she didn’t compare with his beloved Daddy who loved him more than anything in the whole wide world.  

“I don’t know about you, Ursula, but even crunchy food gets stale when it’s left out too long.  I think if you want to hide food, we should hide a whole bag.  That way if they run out of food, we can just eat from the bag, like we do sometimes when a whole bag is left on the floor instead of being put in that darn plastic container.”  Tatum nodded to himself and decided to carry out the plan immediately.  He’d noticed last night when Ande had filled the crunchy food bowl that there were two bags in the container, and one hadn’t been opened.  This would be the time to take it and hide it.  

It took Tatum a while to pry off the lid of the container.  He had to wedge both the container and himself so that when he pushed on it neither slid away, but finally the lid popped off.  Tatum jumped up on a chair next to the container and with supercat strength lifted the bag out and dropped it on the floor.  He then dragged it into the living room and under the couch to the corner with the little table.  No one bothered to go back here.  The table was wedged between the television and the couch, and it probably could stay under there for years without being found.  

Meanwhile Ursula continued to make caches, as she still thought they’d need more food, and she claimed she didn’t mind stale food, although Tatum thought she did.  Personally he just thought she was stubborn.  

Eventually Ursula tired of the exertion and flopped down for a nap.  Tatum also decided sleep was a good idea, and went upstairs to sleep on the very soft bed.  He was sound asleep when he was awakened by a yell from downstairs.  “Who the heck filled up my shoes with cat food?  Pamela!!!!!”  Tatum sniggered and decided to go back to sleep.  Let the noisy girl, or Pikachu, or Pamela, whatever her name was, take the blame for this one.  He did hope, though that no one would notice the missing bag.   

Photo courtesy of Rob Baldwin -

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Food fit for a king

LT was very glad that fall was coming.  It was beautifully cool at night, and the days were pleasant, warm in the middle of the day without being hot and nice enough to sunbathe for prolonged periods of time in the morning and late afternoon.  Daddy had even raked together some nice piles of pine needles for him to lie in.  They smelled heavenly and were cozy to sleep in at night.  That was a big advantage to fur.  You could sleep on pine needles and enjoy their smell without being poked by them all the time.  Humans had to sleep on gigantic soft pillowy things that they then covered with soft cloth.  Their skin was so sensitive, and any little bit of fur they had did nothing to keep them warm or protect them.  Not for the first time he thanked the Great Cat that he had been made a cat.

Earlier today Fuzzy had been begging at the back door for the treats that the Daddy gave out.  Amazing.  This was the cat that didn’t want to have anything to do with them after that one Cat Club meeting, but when exposed to fancy treats he forgot all resentments and greeted them all happily.  He’d even been nice to Peep without being told, which was a first.  LT wasn’t sure that he should be jealous that Daddy gave treats to Fuzzy, worried that the treats would run out faster or happy that Fuzzy wasn’t picking on any of them.  He rolled around on his back in the pine needles, crushing a few to get extra pine scent and in the contentment brought about by the smell he decided to be happy about Fuzzy’s new behavior.  

He eased himself out of the needles and carefully stretched out all four legs.  His old bones really appreciated it when he babied them a little.  Long slow stretches – first the hind legs, one at a time, and then the front legs, also individually.  Then he arched his back and wiggled a bit to work the kinks out of his spine.  He also waggled his head a bit to loosen his neck and then bent his chin to his chest to finish the stretch.  Now he felt ready to do anything.  

LT considered for a minute and then took off like a shot across the yard, heading towards Carl’s truck, where Peep was sunning.  He hoped she was asleep, as this would be much more fun if she didn’t see him coming.  LT approached the truck from the back, jumped up on the sloped rear panel, which incidentally was covered in that nice rubbery covering that claws could get some purchase in.  He vaulted over Peep, who woke up with a start, and bounced off of several pieces of the tow truck’s machinery and ended up on top of the cab.  “King of the truck!” LT warbled.  “I am the King of the Truck and no one can challenge me!”  He then sat down, lifted a rear leg and proceeded to groom himself nonchalantly.  It didn’t look like it, but he was keeping a sharp eye on Peep, in case she decided to challenge his supremacy.  He almost hoped that she did, as he had some ideas on dodging to cause her either to fly over the top of the truck or skid across the cab roof and fall off the other side.  

Peep looked up sleepily at LT.  “Whaz going on, LT?  You can be King of the Truck if you like, as long as I can sleep here.  I prefer it down here where it’s not so slippery.”  

“Minion, yes, you may sleep in the lower parts of my domain, as long as you pay me tribute.”  LT had read an old book with Daddy recently, and some of the characters had talked like this.  He hadn’t realized he’d get to use this flowery language quite so soon.  What fun!

“Pay you tribute?  What’s tribute?  Mommy and Daddy pay the vet with pieces of paper and pay their bills with other kinds of paper.  Do you want me to bring you some paper?  I think I could find some old envelopes in the office trash basket.  Is that good enough?”  Peep was still mostly asleep, and didn’t realize that paper out of the trash might not be what he was looking for.

“Hush, varlet!  You offend our royal ears.  How dare you offer to honor me with garbage.  For that offense to our royal person your tribute is now doubled!  No, tripled.  You must bring me three delicacies to tempt my royal palate ‘ere you sleep on this royal truck again.  Now, off you go, knave.  Fulfill this quest and you will be honored above all cats!”  LT was really getting carried away, and almost asked Peep to bring him one of the couch pillows for his royal throne.  He would have done it, but was afraid that he might slide off the cab roof, and that would offend the royal dignity.  

Peep slunk off the truck and walked around to the back door where Rudy was sleeping.  “Rudy, did you just hear what LT said?  What in the world is he talking about?  What is a delicacy?  I know that a deli is a place that humans buy cut up meat to put on sandwiches.  Does he want me to find him some cut up meat?  I really don’t want to go all the way to Glory’s and try to steal some meat just to sleep on the truck.”

“Nah, a delicacy is just something that’s good to eat.  Maybe something a little bit fancier than usual.  It could just be the regular food with a garnish on it to make it look pretty.  That’s what they do on the cooking shows.  They make something that you or I would consider a raw hamburger, put a couple endive leaves next to it and call it ‘steak tartare’.  It’s still just a raw hamburger.  Hey, I have an idea.  Let’s root around in the kitchen and see if we can come up with some true ‘delicacies’ for old LT.

The two cats went inside and took stock of the food that was sitting around easily available.  There were some bananas well past their prime, a lovely bunch of grapes that the Daddy hadn’t quite managed to finish yet, some stale cake in covered pan and half a pot of coffee that had been left on too long.  Within minutes they had transformed the bananas into ‘banana blancmange with fine herbs’, the grapes into ‘grape kebabs’ and the some of the cake and coffee into ‘espresso gateau’.  They’d used plates from the counter, hastily licked clean to hold their delicacies.  Oh, this was going to be so much fun!

Peep went back out to where LT was sitting regally on the truck cab and said in a low hesitant voice, “King LT, I have prepared three delicacies in the kitchen for your delectatation.  No, sorry, delectation.  Sorry, that’s a difficult word.  But it means that they’re delicious and you should come and eat them.”  She bowed her head and waited for LT to jump down and join her.  

LT, feeling that he was at last being shown the deference he deserved as senior cat of the house, vaulted gracefully to the ground and led the way into the kitchen.   When he saw Rudy, his ego was so inflated that he didn’t even consider that they might be making a bit of fun at his expense.  “So, my minions, what have you prepared for me?  If your tidbits are to my liking I might consider allowing the two of you to join my royal court.”

Rudy had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.  “Oh, King of the Truck, we have created three brand new delicacies to tempt your tender palate.  First we have a banana blancmange with fine herbs.”  She pointed to the plate with a smooshy mass on it with sprinkles of something greenish on top.  LT didn’t know what a blancmange was, but knew from bananas and herbs.  So, it couldn’t be too bad.  He took a little taste and decided it tasted like almost rotten bananas and moss.  Not very good.  “Ah, quite an interesting dish, my subjects.  I mustn’t overeat on the first dish, so let us taste the others.”  Personally, he hoped the other two were better than the first.

Rudy presented the grape kebabs – grapes speared onto incense sticks that smelled really strong.  “Ah, what a novel presentation for grapes.  And what is the significance of the sticks?”  

“Oh, the sticks are frankincense, as that is a scent worthy of a true king.  We felt it would enhance your highness’ experience of the grapes and make grapes, a fruit for the masses suitable for royalty.”  Peep managed to say all this without busting out laughing.  LT sniffed them, and replied slowly, “Ah, yes, frankincense is suitable for a king, but I, uh, believe that it should be a finisher to any meal, so I will leave it for last.”  He was beginning to think that perhaps the two cats were having fun with him.  

Peep presented the last dish – espresso gateau.  “This is a carefully aged cake, with strong espresso as a glaze.  As in the carefully guarded recipe, the espresso is poured over the cake only moments before serving, so as to not compromise the crunchiness of the aged cake.  I hope that it is worthy of your royal highness.”  Both Rudy and Peep now bowed their heads low over their outstretched front paws.  In concert they said, “Is your highness satisfied?”  

LT looked at the three dishes, probably none of which were edible, and began to laugh.  “You two took my joke and turned it around on me, and did a better job than I did.  I was just going to make Peep catch me a mouse or two, but the two of you have made me these absolutely inedible things and dressed them up with names that make them sound like they should be served in the finest restaurants in Paris.  I have an idea.  Let’s leave these for Daddy.  Maybe he’ll think they’re from the Yarn Lady and try them.  That’ll be a joke on him.”

All three of them wandered back outside and climbed on the truck together.  LT and Rudy sunned on the cab roof and Peep returned to her favorite spot.  When Daddy came home and went in the house all three cats looked at each other and laughed, but decided they’d let him figure out the ‘delicacies’ on his own.   

Image courtesy of James LeVeque -

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The man who liked to torture cats

It was a black day for the Peep, Miss Rudy and LT. First thing this morning the Mommy trapped Peep in the office and Rudy in the bedroom and then brought out the cat carriers. First she rudely shoved Miss Rudy into a carrier (from Rudy's point of view at least). Rudy hollered to Peep, "Save yourself, Peep, she's going to take us to Tibet!"

When the Mommy came into the office Peep was cowering under the desk. She did not want to go to Tibet. She'd heard on television that Tibet was a marvelous country, but Peep's experiences were that it was just a place that had way too many cats and dogs and smelled terrible. Plus, every time she went there she ended up in terrible pain. The nasty man who lived there seemed to enjoy torturing animals, and even worse than that, Mommy let him do it.

Mommy walked into the office saying, "Come on out, Mommy's little girl. You know I love you but we need to go to Tibet.". Peep's answer was not something that can be printed in a family-friendly blog. Suffice it to say that she invited the Mommy to ingest something that wasn't normally considered food. After a brief tussle, Peep ended up in the carrier and Mommy had a few new scratches.

Meanwhile Daddy was trying to convince LT to come to him. Since they were outside it was a totally different proposition. LT had heard Rudy yelling inside and knew exactly what was going on. He considered just blowing town and leaving Peep and Rudy to their fates, but he knew he'd have to go another day, so after a token protest, LT let the Daddy catch him and put him in the carrier.

The drive to Tibet was uneventful, other than Rudy's constant complaints. Mommy carried them into the building and Peep was happy at least that there were no other animals there. The man who liked to torture cats was there unfortunately, and Mommy greeted him like an old friend. They chatted about Mary Land and the Daddy and then Mommy brought all the carriers into a little room. She took the cats out one at a time and the cat torturer pried open their mouths, felt their tummies and pushed something cold into their poo holes. LT thought that was the worst indignity he had to suffer each year on their trip to Tibet. It didn't hurt, but it was rude! Finally the man stuck a very sharp thing into each cat's flank. Poor Rudy got stuck more than the other two, and he also spent a lot of time looking in her mouth.

Mommy carried Rudy and LT's carriers to the car and came back inside for Peep. As they were about to leave, the man told Mommy that Rudy would need to have two teeth pulled. Peep shuddered at that. It sounded quite painful. She'd accidentally pulled out claws from time to time, and it hurt like the dickens. Having teeth pulled would be even worse. Well, she certainly wasn't going to tell Rudy about this.

They returned home, sore and in bad moods. As soon as Mommy opened each carrier, the cat made a beeline for the cat door and then congregated outside.  "I can't believe this," said Rudy.  "I do not understand why I have to get more pokey things than you two.  He stuck me three times with that thing.  My butt hurts, I have a headache, and I'm so mad I could chew nails."  

Peep, with an eye towards conciliation said sadly, "Rudy, I was about to say that I wished the Mommy loved us as much as she loves you.  She protects you from more diseases, and you even got that special potato chip stuck in you so that if you ever get lost someone can send you home to us.  Neither of us are that special, you know."  

Rudy puffed up a little with pride, although it was marred by her wincing from the pain of her headache.  "Yeah, I guess Mommy does love me best.  And it's a computer chip, not a potato chip.  It's so they can scan me, like at the grocery store, but instead of a price, it will say, 'Miss Rudy, Most Beloved Cat'.  

LT made a retching noise.  "Gag me with a spoon, guys.  I'm outa here.  It's time for my post-shot nap out in the woods.  It's not like I think she's going to haul me back to the vet, but I'm not giving them any chance.  ttfn."

All three cats made their ways to their special spots for such dreadful occasions, Rudy and LT to the woods, and Peep to a perch on Carl's truck where she could spot anyone heading for her and take evasive action as needed.  Later that afternoon, Peep was visited by the Yarn Lady, who gave the Peep scratches and rubs for a nice long time and sympathized with her on the her terrible ordeal.  Peep thought to herself, well, at least I'm done for another year.

Image courtesy of

Friday, September 17, 2010


Tatum was not a brave cat in the best of circumstances, and tonight had not been the best of circumstances.  Earlier in the evening, before it had even started getting dark he heard heavy rain hitting the side of the house, and the noisy girl running around closing windows.  That didn’t bother him much.  He’d been lying on the bed and watched warily as she’d closed the window in case she decided to flop on the bed or something.  When she left, he dozed off again for a few minutes only to be awakened by an odd rattling sound – almost like someone dropping lots of marbles.  He knew what that sounded like from the time Ande had dropped her container of marbles on the kitchen floor.  This noise was coming from outside, though, and it was getting louder.  He jumped off the bed and headed downstairs just in case whatever it was came through the roof. 

Ande was downstairs looking out the back door and he heard her say something about not seeing hail in a long time and how glad she was that they’d just cut down a bunch of iffy trees.  Tatum decided the best place for right now was under one of the old choir chairs.  They were very sturdy, and if a tree was going to fall on the house, iffy or not, he wanted to be as safe as he could.  After a few minutes the rattling noise stopped, and the wind noise dropped considerably.  Tatum eased himself out from under the chair and went to look for Ursula.  She was under the couch, and when she saw Tatum she asked, “Is the house going to fall down?  This is terrible, just terrible!” 

“I don’t know,” replied Tatum.  “I think it’s getting a little better.  I heard Ande say that it was hailing, but I think it’s stopped now.  The wind is dying down too, so I think it’s safe to come out.”  Both cats ventured out and headed for the crunchy food bowl.  They both found food to be a great stress reliever. 

Along with the usual traffic noise going by the front of the house, they could hear the sirens of fire trucks as they went by.  After one really loud truck went by with sirens and repeated horn blasts, Tatum decided that maybe he should be back under his chair.  He was slinking towards it when the dining room light went out.  Ande had put it on when the storm started so that she could see her way around, and she wasn’t near either of the switches to have turned it off.  He heard her say, “Oh bother.  I hate it when the power goes out.” 

She moved around the rooms on the first floor, tying back curtains and opening shutters.  The noisy girl came down and complained that her internet connection was down, and could she use the laptop for the wireless.  Ande explained patiently that the wireless signal came from the cable connection, so there was no internet until the power returned.  The noisy girl complained a bit, but stopped when a tremendous clap of thunder sounded.  There had been lightning and thunder throughout the storm, but not awfully close.  This one sounded like it was right outside the house.  A moment later the kitchen lit up as though the lights were on and immediately there was another crash of thunder.  Tatum ran from under his chair to the sofa where Ursula was hiding again.  There was safety in numbers. 

Ande found some candles and lit them, placing them in locations where the cats would not venture, like on top of the stove and on the mantle over the fireplace.  The light from the candles flickered, making odd shadows.  Tatum definitely did not like that.  Even if nothing was moving, shadows moved with the candle flickers.  How was he supposed to know what was safe and what wasn’t? 

A little while later, after his beloved Daddy came home from work, they all went out, first extinguishing all the candles.  The house was totally dark and quiet, and Tatum realized that he’d never seen the house like this before.  When his beloved Daddy or the noisy girl were home, the TV was on or there was music, and of course lights were on unless it was the middle of the day.  Even if everyone was asleep, the light over the kitchen sink was left on so that the cats could find their food and not step in the water bowl. 

With no distractions, the silence overcame Tatum’s worries about the dark and storm and he fell asleep.  He woke in total darkness at the sound of the back door closing and the voices of the Daddy and noisy girl.  They tried turning on lights, but there was still no electricity, so they light candles and used flashlights to move around the house.  The flashlights were worse than the candles for shadows and odd light patterns, because they were brighter and moved.  Tatum found himself running from one place to another, just to avoid the strange shadows. 

When Ande came home she told them that the problem seemed to be around the corner and up the street, as the road was blocked and there were a bunch of power trucks around there.  Tatum hoped fervently that whatever it was it would be resolved soon.  She went upstairs carrying a candle and carefully latched the door to the bedroom behind her.  She never did that!  This was their time together, she couldn’t shut him out.  He’d usually go up, get a nice long head scratch and then snuggle up behind her shoulders for a while.  When the noisy girl opened the door, he scooted in, but Ande told her to take him out, since it wasn’t safe to have a cat and a candle in the same place.  So, he was shut out again. 

About a half hour later, the lights flicked on.  No noise, no fanfare, but there was suddenly light.  Candles were blown out, flashlights put away, and the usual evening noises of Daddy’s television shows and the noisy girl’s music came back.  Ande opened the door, and Tatum went gratefully in, complaining all the while of the disruption to his evening.  Ande scratched his head, ruffled his fur and apologized for all the disruption caused by the storm and power outage.  “This doesn’t happen often, you know, Tatum.  I’m sorry I didn’t let you in before, but you’re such a bouncy cat, I couldn’t risk you bouncing into my candle and starting a fire.  In any case, everything is back to normal now.” 

Tatum knew it was.  He gotten his head scratched and now was going to settle in for his nightly snuggle.  This was life as he liked it. 

Photo courtesy of Eric Schmuttenmaer -

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pension cuts

LT was catching up on the news.  He’d decided many years ago that what happened to the humans effected him, so he tried to keep up with happenings in at least this country, even though he didn’t understand half of it.  This morning there was a story about state pensions – how employees would have to work more years before they could stop working, pensions would no longer get a cost-of-living adjustment and that humans would have to contribute more money to their pensions while they were still working.  

After listening to the story, LT thought he understood what a pension was, but he wasn’t entirely sure.  Cats, of course, didn’t have anything like pensions.  They didn’t have anything like jobs, other than the few odd cats like Greymalkin.  If they lived wild they just caught or scavenged their food, and it wasn’t like they could do anything with it so that it would still be there when they were old and didn’t want to hunt or scavenge anymore.  LT thought it would be a nice system, at least for cats who lived wild.  After they’d lived wild and got old, the state would come out and feed them.  Yeah, right.  That would never happen.  And anyway, what self-respecting cat would put up with the kind of rules set by humans?  Show up at a certain time?  Not.  Follow some human’s rules?  Not again.

LT was glad that Daddy didn’t have to worry about things like this.  He worked for himself, so it was kind of like he was a cat living wild.  If he wanted to eat, he worked.  If he had enough to eat and wanted to relax for a few hours, he could.  LT wasn’t sure, though, about what would happen when Daddy got older and didn’t want to work anymore.  Retirement, that’s what the humans called it.  Time when you pretty much did what you wanted to, and got paid for it, although it seemed from the news stories that a lot of humans weren’t getting paid enough to stay retired.  

Whatever.  Too much for a cat to figure out, even if LT did believe that the government would be better if it were run by animals than humans.  He had a recurring daydream about how different parts of human government would be run by various species.  Vultures, of course, would be in charge of trash collection.  The legislature would be staffed by rabbits, since by nature they sat around a lot and didn’t do much and no one listened to them anyway.  The police force would be a combination of birds and various dog species.  Birds to figure out what was a problem, aggressive dogs to take care of bad problems, and nice dogs to help people with things like stuff dropped down holes that needed to be dug out.  Cats would be at the top levels of government, of course, being the most intelligent of all species.  They would consult with the other species for their ideas and then tell them what to do.  

LT thumbed off the remote and considered what to do.  He decided to get a mid-morning snack of crunchy food and then lie in the sun.  Perhaps after a nap he’d have another snack and then go visit the cats down the street.  He wanted to be home before sunset, though, so he could see Daddy for a bit, in case he went out again this evening.  Then LT thought he’d probably lie in the pine needles and snooze again.  As he walked into the kitchen for his snack, LT wondered if he should retire, since he was getting on in years, but decided that he wouldn’t notice any difference in his life if he did.  

Photo adapted from photos courtesy of Andrew Fung - and Sharon Mollerus -

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Class action lawsuit update

Hello, the yarn lady here.  I received word this morning that one of the dogs that I had mentioned in my blog has signed on to the class action lawsuit.  Bucky, who lives in the house in Mary Land that Peep’s Mommy stays at during the week, has signed on.  The lawyer says he has also received inquiries from about 250 other dogs who are considering signing on.  The odd thing is that according to Google metrics, the site visits for my blog don’t match up with the number of dogs who may join the lawsuit.  Since the suit doesn’t seek any financial settlement, this doesn’t make any sense to either me or my lawyer.  He’s going to send me the information on these dogs so I can try to find out how they even became aware of the suit.  Cooper understands I’m trying to control my legal fees, so I get to do the legwork on this.  

The lawyer also made an informal inquiry to the court about the format of the lawsuit, as it has some major irregularities.  For one, I am cited in the suit only as “The Yarn Lady”.  How in the world can the US District Court accept that?  They throw out suits for failure to document proper delivery of documents, so how can they hear a suit where my name isn’t even right?  The reply Cooper got was interesting.  He was told the title, “Yarn Lady” could be considered as a “also known as” (AKA) since I refer to myself by that name in the blog.  The suit might need to be amended prior to trial to include my full name, as well as more identification for the dogs who have signed on to the suit.  Dog licenses, veterinary records or AKC registered names would be considered sufficient for the purposes of the court.  Oh well, it was worth a try.  

The most glaring issue of all is the individuals who are the plaintiffs.  They are dogs, and as such do not currently have the legal standing needed to bring a case to trial.  Lawsuits about animals are brought by humans on behalf of the animals, and the humans need to prove that they have been injured in some way by the actions of the defendant.  Those injuries don’t have to be physical, but still I don’t see how my blog has injured anyone!  I’m guessing the dogs filed the suit this way because they realized they couldn’t prove injury to humans, but I still don’t get how they intend to get the case into court.  Even if legislation, such as that which might be introduced or supported by Sax Chambliss, a well-known animal rights advocate currently serving in the US Senate, were to be made into law, the suit would predate any such law.  

Cooper says I just need to take a chill pill and wait it out.  He’s confident that even if the list of plaintiffs gets longer than my arm the suit won’t make it into court.  I need to trust my lawyer, so I’m going to go play with my kitties now.  Have a nice day.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Ever since Peep had come to live with the Daddy she had been confused about something.  He talked a lot about the ham equipment that he kept in the special room in the garage, but no matter how many times Peep went in there, she could never find the ham.  He kept the door closed and it wasn’t the type of door she could open, so she had to wait until he was going in, so she hadn’t been able to get in there all by herself to really investigate.  Sometimes she’d hang around the door after he’d said to the Mommy that he was going to go talk on his ham radio and then she’d sneak in when he opened the door.  She’d prowl around and carefully sniff the air, but there was no sign of ham, either fresh or canned.  

Peep loved ham.  It was her second favorite food, bacon being the first.  Canned ham, fresh ham, ham cold cuts, ham steaks, it didn’t matter.  They were all delicious.  When Mommy or Daddy put ham in front of her, she just couldn’t resist eating it as quickly as she could.  She didn’t talk to it or on it, and didn’t understand how the Daddy did it.  Last weekend they’d had ham for dinner, and Peep had watched them carefully, and not just because she thought she might get a smackeral for herself.  She wanted to see how Daddy talked on the ham.  He didn’t.  He ate it, although he did talk to the Mommy while he was eating.  But he talked to the Mommy lots of times when he wasn’t eating ham, so that didn’t make any sense either.

This weekend Daddy was talking about going to a hamfest.  Now that was something Peep could get into.  She bet there’d be canned hams, fresh hams, barbequed hams, baked ham with pineapple, ham sandwiches – a cat’s delight.  She wished Daddy would take her, so that she could eat all the hams too.  It was selfish for him to go by himself!

So, Peep decided on a plan.  Daddy said he’d be leaving early in the morning.  Peep waited until he’d gone to bed and checked out his truck to see if he’d left a window open.  He did that so that LT could sleep on the seat where it was comfy.  She was in luck – the driver’s side window was open all the way.  She leapt through it and started looking for somewhere to hide that Daddy wouldn’t find her.  There was a narrow spot behind the seat she could sneak into where he wouldn’t be able to see her, and it looked comfortable enough for sleeping.  She settled in and quickly fell asleep.

Early in the morning, Peep was awakened by the slam of the truck door.  She had a minute of panic, wondering why in the world she wanted to go anywhere, but steeled her resolve with the thought of the hundreds of hams Daddy had said would be at the hamfest.  They drove for a little over half an hour, and then she felt the truck turn off the road onto a dirt surface.  They bumped along for a minute or two and then she heard Daddy turn off the truck.  

She’d wondered all the way over whether she should try to jump out of the truck as soon as Daddy stopped it, or if she should wait until he left and hope there was a window open.  Daddy liked to have fresh air in his truck, so she figured one might be left open enough for her to squeeze out.  She decided at the last minute to wait, fearing that Daddy might just turn around and take her home and then be angry with her.  

A few minutes after he’d left the truck Peep eased out of her hiding place and climbed on the seat, putting her front paws on the door so she could see out the window.  Luckily the Daddy had parked right on the edge of a row of booths where humans milled around talking to each other.  There were lots of those machines that Daddy had out in the radio room, but she couldn’t see any hams.  She couldn’t smell any either, even though the window was open a full three inches.  

Peep sat and watched the people for a good fifteen minutes before frustration got the best of her.  By golly, if there were hams to be had, she was going to find them!  She balanced her rear paws on the steering wheel and squirmed through the open window.  She fell to the ground, landing awkwardly on all four paws.  Looking around to see if anyone had noticed, she quickly ran to the tables.  She made her way down the row, walking under the tables.  The humans were discussing things like transceivers, impedance and RFI, but not ham.  She just couldn’t understand it.  

As Peep came to the end of the row of tables she caught of whiff of something tasty.  It didn’t smell quite like ham, but it certainly was food.  She peered out from between two boxes and saw a booth with an awning proclaiming gyros, kielbasa and cheesesteaks.  Not ham.  She wasn’t sure that kielbasa didn’t have some ham-like stuff in it, but she’d eaten kielbasa and she’d eaten ham, and they were quite different.  Still, food was food, and she’d missed breakfast this morning.  She eased out from under the table and headed for the gyro stand.  She thought that if she sat just behind the cooks and looked cute they’d probably feed her something.  Her stomach grumbled and Peep hoped they’d notice her quickly.  

As she was about to make her way around the back of the stand, she was snatched off the ground.  She fought until she heard the Daddy’s voice say, “Peep, is that you?  What the heck are you doing here?”  She stopped fighting immediately as she didn’t want to hurt him.  “Well, I was pretty much done here anyway – I don’t need anything they’re selling and it looks like it’s going to rain any second.  Let’s go home.”   He took her to the truck and deposited her on the passenger seat.  He looked at her for a long moment, musing to himself that he hoped this really was the Peep, as he wouldn’t want to kidnap someone else’s cat.  

When they arrived home, Peep streaked out of the car and headed straight for the kitchen.  The Daddy laughed, deciding that it was definitely Peep, since she knew where the food was.  When he entered the kitchen, Peep’s face was deep in the squishy food dish.  He told the Mommy of Peep’s hamfest adventure, and Mommy said, “Well, you know how much Peep likes ham.  She probably thought you were talking about the kind of ham you eat and not a type of amateur radio.  She went to get some ham for herself!”  Mommy and Daddy both laughed, and Daddy said that he figured Peep had just fallen asleep in the truck, and that he doubted that she was smart enough to have stowed away in hopes of a ham lunch.  

Peep thought to herself that yes, she’d been smart enough to stow away in hopes of that ham lunch, but not smart enough to know that there weren’t any edible hams involved.  She slunk into the bedroom and climbed onto the new pillow Mommy had bought her yesterday.  As she started to drift off to sleep she heard Daddy talking about a sweepstakes.  Good, thought Peep.  I do like a good cut of beef….

Photo courtesy of Kevin Saky -