Friday, December 30, 2011

New Years Eve - Dropping the giant yarnball

New Year's Eve was yet another holiday in December.  But was an 'eve' really a holiday?  It seemed from the radio shows the yarn lady listened to that New Year's Eve was more of a holiday than the Day was, which was in January, and a new year even.  People went and watched someone dropping gigantic yarnballs in New York City, they had huge parties or went out to bars and spent way too much money when they could stay home and be with their cats.  Clem had a gigantic yarnball and if anyone wanted to come over and drop it, they were perfectly welcome to, provided they brought her snacks or cat toys or something.  If people were willing to spend hundreds of dollars just to be with other people on New Year’s Eve, Clem figured she was worth at least a snack or a cat toy.

Another part of this holiday seemed to be about making promises to yourself that were almost impossible to keep.  The yarn lady had been laughing about what a friend of hers had said the other day.  The friend had said that she'd never been able to keep a resolution (which was what the promises were called), even when the resolution was to gain weight.  Clem thought about the resolutions she made on a regular basis and how hard it was to stick to any of them.  After she'd almost had the yarn lady arrested for terroristic threats she promised herself that she'd be the best kitten ever, and that had barely lasted ten minutes before she got herself into trouble.  And every time she knocked something off a table she told herself that she would try harder to be careful.  Ooh, and after she'd broken the handle off one of the yarn lady's special pinky coffee cups she'd promised not to go up on the china cabinet shelves, but just last night she'd knocked a cup down (luckily the same one, so the handle couldn't break again, it was already broken). 

Well, in the New Year (2012 that is) she'd become a grown up cat, so maybe some of the things she did that were a little skonk-bonk would stop, just as a function of growing up.  She'd be mature - an adult cat, not just a silly little kitten.  That would be some time in the spring, from what she recalled.  She wondered if it would be an overnight type of thing.  Would she wake up one day and stop racing around the house madly?  She kind of hoped not.  She didn't want to be an adult if it meant not having fun anymore.  Some of the other cats that she corresponded to seemed like they were pretty fun, even though they were all a lot older.  LT was pretty serious, but he was the senior cat of all of them.  Peep was a playful cat, from what Clem could tell.  She liked toys and being silly.  Kid sounded like she was a lot of fun.  So, maybe it was partly growing up and partly choice.  The yarn lady was a grown-up human with a grown kitten of her own, and she did silly fun things sometimes.

Clem thought a little bit more about New Year’s resolutions and decided that she’d email her friends before deciding whether or not to make one.  She still had a little time. 



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Snugglebunnies

The yarn lady finally went out for long enough this morning that Clem was able to watch some of her favorite trashy morning shows.  You know, the kind where co-hosts chat cozily with each other and their guests as though you were all sitting your living room.  The shows usually amused Clem immensely, but not today.  The guests were all talking about their Christmas gifts, the great things they'd received and a few real clunkers.  Then they started talking about the gifts they had given other people, and how well those gifts had been received.  Some of the stories were pretty funny, particularly one about someone who'd thought a miniature rabbit was a hat and had put it on her head and it pooped in her hair. 

As Clem listened to all these stories it began to dawn on her that she had been so caught up in what she would get for Christmas that she hadn't even given a thought to giving anything to the yarn lady.  Even though she was a silly little kitten she knew that the yarn lady had sewed that little quilt for her. Santa Claws didn't hand-sew quilts, and she'd seen the yarn lady working on it.  She must have stuffed it in the stocking after Santa had brought it. 

All that work, and Clem hadn't given her anything in return.  No matter she was a cat and didn't have any money to buy gifts, or thumbs to sew or knit something.   The yarn lady was the specialest person in her life.  She must think Clem an ungrateful little kitten. 

Clem turned off the television and sat on her new quilt, consumed with guilt.  When you’re a kitten, though, even guilt isn’t enough to stave off nap attacks.  She was asleep before the yarn lady came home.  She awoke to the sound of the garage door opening, and was ready to meet the yarn lady at the door when she came in. 

“There’s my little angel.  It’s so good to see you, Clem.”  The yarn lady picked Clem up and buried her face in Clem’s soft belly fur.  Clem purred.  She loved being picked up and snuggled, or held and snuggled, or snuggling with the yarn lady while she slept. 

“You are my little snugglebunny, although snugglekitty would be more accurate.  But since Berkeley Breathed never drew a cartoon about snugglekitties, snugglebunny it is.  A snuggle from you is as good as the best Christmas present ever.”  She kissed Clem on the nose and carried her into the living room.  She sat down on the sofa and cradled Clem while tickling her tummy. 

Eventually Clem became restless and squirmed a little.  The yarn lady put her on the floor and found a yarnball to throw for her.  As she chased the ball she thought to herself that maybe just by being herself she’d given the yarn lady a Christmas present.  She smiled and chased the yarnball.  She’d make sure that she gave the yarn lady lots of snuggles.  Then it would be like Christmas every day.  




Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas for cats

The yarn lady had gone to bed early on Christmas Eve.  She said she was tired from all the stuff she’d done over the last few days and was asleep before 11:00 pm.  Clem snuggled with her for a few minutes, but didn’t get comfortable because she wanted to see Santa Claws.  She was curious about how he would enter the house, since they didn’t have a chimney.  So Clem prowled around the house as it got later and later and she got more and more tired.  She stopped and looked out the windows every few minutes, figuring that maybe she’d see him show up.  No way a cat would be driving a sleigh with reindeer, Clem thought.  He’d probably be using something like the magic spells in the Harry Potter movies.  What was the one that moved you from one place to another?  Apparation, that was it.  She just hoped that Santa wouldn’t splinch himself and end up half here and half somewhere else.  That would be a problem, but after all this time, he probably knew how to do it right.  Come to think of it, that’s probably how the author got the idea for apparation.  She saw Santa do it, and put it in her books. 

The next thing Clem knew it was morning and the yarn lady was moving around.  Darn it, she’d fallen asleep, and on the floor of all places.  Her neck and back were stiff.  The floor was a nice place to lie in a sunbeam, but not for a whole night’s sleep.  Clem yawned and looked up.  There was a stocking hanging from the top of the tall china cabinet, right below the Christmas tree, and it hadn’t been there when Clem went to sleep.  Yup, she’d missed Santa.  The yarn lady came out, made a fuss over the stocking and gave it a squeeze.  It made all sorts of interesting noises.  Jingles and crinkles.  Ooh – there must be some good things in that stocking. 

The yarn lady went back and got into bed, calling Clem to come in and open her stocking.  Clem didn’t need asking.  She was right behind the yarn lady and was up on the bed before she was under the covers.  Sticking right out of the top was a soft looking thing.  The yarn lady helped Clem get it out and unfolded it.  It was a little patchwork quilt, just the size for a cat to curl up on.  Clem reached out a paw and touched it.  It was very soft, just like the fleecy stuff the yarn lady had used to make the noisy girl’s snuggly, but it was made out of three different designs of fleece, none of them the same as the noisy girl’s.  This was definitely from Santa Claws.  Next the yarn lady pulled out a soft squishy ball that crinkled.  It was the size of a yarn ball, but even better, because yarn balls didn’t make crinkly noises.  Clem put it in her mouth and walked around on the bed and then dropped it in front of the yarn lady for her to throw it.  The rest of the stocking could wait until she tried this one out. 

In between throwing the crinkly ball the yarn lady opened two packages of her own that people had sent her.  One was a box filled with all sorts of little things.  Most of them were for the yarn lady, but there was one that she held out to Clem.  “Look, Clem.  You got a sushi set!”  It was all sorts of cat toys that looked like pieces of sushi.  Some of them crinkled, some jingled and some were squishy.  Oh, this was cat toy heaven!  Then she remembered that she still had stuff in her own stocking from Santa.  The yarn lady helped her to get the rest out.  A plastic ball with a jingle bell inside, a rolly thing with a jingle bell, a fish on an elastic and a mouse almost like her favorite hard mouse, except that this one had crinkly stuff inside the bottom.  So many toys, Clem didn’t know which one to play with first.  She ran between them all, asking the yarn lady to throw them for her until she completely exhausted herself.  She settled down in her favorite warm spot on top of the cable box.  The yarn lady gently picked her up and put the new quilt on top of the box and put her down on top of it.  Now it was warm and soft – life couldn’t get any better than this.  As the yarn lady did this and that, Clem drifted off to sleep.  As she dreamed of sushi mice she vaguely heard the yarn lady saying that she was going over to see Peep, Rudy and LT and would be back later.

Rudy was waiting outside for the yarn lady when she arrived.  Rudy ran flat out to the car calling, “Merry Christmas!  Did you bring our special Christmas food?” 

LT, who was sitting next to his house looked up at her and said, “Rudy – it’s not nice to beg for presents.”  Rudy stuck her tongue out at him and followed the yarn lady into the house. 

The yarn lady seemed to be carrying a number of things.  First she pulled out three small containers.  “Here you are, Miss Rudy.  The special Christmas meal you requested - sea bass with shrimp.  I hope you like it.”  She spooned it out onto a plate and set it in front of Rudy and then she went in search of the Peep.  Peep had been sound asleep on the afghan on the couch.  The yarn lady gently picked her up and placed a quilt where she’d been lying and put her back on top of it.  “Merry Christmas, Peep.  I hope you like your quilt.”  She walked back into the kitchen and got Peep’s portion of the special meal and put it on a special plate.  No sharing food dishes today.  She set it down in front of Peep and went looking for LT. 

LT wasn’t in the laundry basket, nor was he anywhere in the house.  The yarn lady hadn’t noticed him outside when she came in, but when she looked out the living room window she could see him over by his house.  She knocked on the window and called to him.  He looked at her and kept walking.  There was a warm car hood to be sat upon.  That was the place to be right now. 

The yarn lady sat and talked to Peep for a while, just chatting about this and that.  She turned on the morning news on television and did a running commentary on some of the news stories.  There seemed to be a disproportionate amount of good news today.  Maybe because it was Christmas the commentators were sticking to happy stories.  After a bit the yarn lady heard the cat door open and close and looked over to see LT heading for the kitchen.  She followed him at a respectful distance.  LT had begun to eat some of the crunchy food from the big pan when the yarn lady called his attention to the plate of squishy food she’d just put up on the table, where she usually fed him.  The yarn lady was like the Daddy – they didn’t mind sharing a table with a cat, and in fact seemed to enjoy it.  LT jumped up to see what was there.  He hadn’t been party to Rudy’s special food request, so he didn’t realize what was in the dish, but he knew it smelled good.  Oh, it was good.  Nice fish, and even a little shrimp.  He gently bit the shrimp in half, savoring the flavor.  It wasn’t often that he was offered a shrimp, he was going to take time enjoying it.  The yarn lady looked at him and said, “LT, you are truly the gourmand of the household.”  After they had all eaten the yarn lady made sure that Loaf Cat and Fuzzy had enough food and headed back home.

When Clem woke up from her nap, the yarn lady was back, and had yet another present for her.  She explained that this one was from her own sister, all the way up in New Hamster.  Clem remembered that was where the yarn lady had gone last month when she’d been away from home for days and days and days.  Well, maybe her sister was trying to make up for keeping her away for so long.  This present was a little fuzzy cave.  Clem found herself up in the air and then placed inside of it.  She jumped a bit because when she moved it crinkled.  It was fuzzy, it crinkled and it was just cat sized.  Wow, somecat had designed this thing really well.  Clem rolled a little bit inside of it, just to hear the noises and decided that perhaps her last nap hadn’t been quite long enough.  This Christmas stuff was exhausting.  So many toys and nice things.  She could see several of the new toys in the kitchen from where she was lying in the fuzzy cave.  What a perfect day, she thought, as she drifted off to sleep.  


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Claws is coming to town

The yarn lady had the radio on today.  That wasn’t unusual, but what she was listening to was.  Usually it was shows like Leonard Lopate or All Things Considered, but today she was listening to music, Christmas music to be specific.  As she’d turned it on, she’d commented, “Here’s our annual dose of Christmas classics, Clem.  Most of them are pretty awful, but there are a couple I like. 

She bustled around the house, wrapping a gift here, cleaning up something there, occasionally throwing a yarnball for Clem.  She sang along with most of the songs, although she groaned when she heard a couple.  ‘Santa Baby’ was one she groaned at, and didn’t sing along.  Her comment was that the station should play the Eartha Kitt version and forget Madonna.  She turned off the radio, searched on YouTube, finding the original version.  “Clem, this is the real deal.  If you’re going to remember this song, remember this one.” 

A lot of the songs dealt with Santa Claws.  She hadn’t paid an awful lot of attention to the idea of Santa Claws.  She’d seen commercials that included the fat guy in the funny red clothes.  The ones for Best Buy were kind of funny – especially the one where the lady kicked the plastic Santa off the roof.  Now a song was playing that the yarn lady was really singing along with.  It had jingly bells, a saxophone and a guy with a gravelly voice who laughed while he was singing.  The yarn lady said, “This is one where I like the remake better than the old ones.  The Boss’ version of ‘Santa Claws is Coming to Town’ is great.” 

When the radio played a Justin Bieber Christmas song, the yarn lady groaned and turned it off.  “We’ll find our own music, Clem.”  She pulled the Ipad out again and found the Roche’s version of the Hallelujah Chorus.  “More properly this is an Easter song, but I love their harmonies.”  She sang along as she finished knotting the noisy girl’s fuzzy cover-up.  Then she found someone’s Christmas playlist on YouTube and just set it to play.  “These look good Clem.” 

As the music played, Clem wondered about this Santa Claws guy. He was a human.  Why did they call him Claws?  Humans don’t have claws.  A lot of the songs talked about how no one ever sees him.  He comes in the middle of the night, but only when you’re asleep.  She decided that the humans had gotten it wrong.  With a name like Claws, Santa was obviously a cat.  That made an awful lot more sense, because she’d seen chimneys on television, and there was no way a human could fit down them.  A cat, on the other hand, could not only fit down a chimney, but would be able to use his claws to climb back up once he’d left the presents. 

She looked around her home.  They had electric heat and no fireplace.  No chimney.  Would Santa Claws be able to bring presents to them?  Lots of people didn’t have chimneys nowadays.  Chimneys were for fireplaces, right?  People didn’t all have fireplaces, but the songs and television shows talked about how Santa visits everyone.  Clem thought long and hard about this.  She knew that cats were really good at getting into places they weren’t supposed to be.  Just witness how she’d learned how to get on top of the refrigerator and the really high cabinets, or how she could open the bottom cabinets.  Santa Claws must just be a cat who was really good at getting into unusual places.  And what would he bring to her?  It had to be something small, because even a maybe-magical cat wouldn’t be able to bring her something really big, would he?  Well, it was Christmas Eve.  She wouldn’t have that long to wait to find out. 

Clem decided to sit in the window and watch the geese for a while.  She warbled some of the songs she’d heard earlier as she watched the geese, and waited patiently for Christmas.

“Santa kitty, slip a cat bed under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good cat
Santa kitty, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa kitty, an awfully big cat library too, light blue
I'll wait up for you dear
Santa kitty, and hurry down the chimney tonight”

(with apologies to Joan Javits)


Photo of Lucky, December 2010 - Courtesy of Nicole Frazee

Friday, December 23, 2011

You can't gift-wrap a cat

On Thursday evening, the yarn lady started opening boxes and sorting things.  She made piles of stuff, muttered at them, looked for more things and muttered some more.  Clem was resting up from a game of yarnballs so she didn’t get up to investigate.  The yarn lady then undid the piles, lumped them all together on the sofa  (why did she put them there to begin with if she wasn’t going to leave them) and got out the long skinny tubes of paper she’d used for making the blue and silver stars for Hanukkah.  This one was gold, though.  She took one of the things from the pile on the sofa and proceeded to cut some paper off the big tube and wrapped it around the item, taping it in place.  Clem wasn’t sure why she was doing this – perhaps she didn’t want anyone to know what she’d bought?  Was this a way of hiding things from people, or perhaps it was just another type of decoration.  She thought this was the best possibility until the yarn lady took a bunch of them and just stuck them in a bag and put the bag in the closet.  It must be the hiding thing, although why she couldn’t have just put them in the bag in the closet to hide them was beyond Clem’s understanding. 

By now Clem was thoroughly awake and decided to investigate a little more closely.  The yarn lady changed to a roll of paper that was blue with pictures on it and grabbed a few small items from the sofa.  She unrolled the paper – this roll wasn’t so thick, and it crinkled very nicely when unrolled.  Clem wondered how it would feel to play with it, and jumped up on the table.  The yarn lady was cutting a smaller piece from the bigger piece, and once she’d separated the two Clem grabbed the end of the smaller piece closest to her.  “Mine,” she said.  The yarn lady explained that she needed the paper, and gently removed Clem from the table. 

No fair.  The yarn lady got all the cool stuff to play with.  Well, in all honesty, she let Clem play with almost everything.  Not the embroidery stuff, but yarn and her computer – well she didn’t know that Clem played with the computer, but still.  Clem jumped back up on the table and dug her claws into the pretty paper.  Oh, nice.  Her claws went though easily, leaving lovely little holes.  She tried the other corner – maybe it would taste good, so she chewed on it a bit.  It didn’t taste good, but it had an interesting texture.  The yarn lady growled at her and put her back on the floor.  “Clem I need to get this finished and I don’t require your help on this.”  She tossed a yarn ball into the kitchen.  Clem thought for half an instant and decided a thrown yarn ball was more fun than arguing with the yarn lady about pretty paper. 

For the next half hour or so the yarn lady alternated between throwing yarn balls and covering various shaped things with pretty paper.  Some of them were soft things, and Clem really wanted to try digging her claws into the paper on those, but the yarn lady carefully put them in a box after she finished each one.  Any time Clem looked like she was about to jump on the table, the yarn lady would find a yarn ball and throw it.  Clem knew she was being distracted, but hey, it was fun.Finally the yarn lady announced, “Done. Well at least for tonight.  I still need to decide what to do with the stuff from Dotsie.  Leave it in the boxes?  Open, sort and wrap?  I think I’ll leave it and we can sort it on Christmas.”   
She turned to Clem with a devilish smile on her face and announced,

“Now it’s time to wrap the cat.”  She had a medium size piece of the pretty gold paper in her hand and she reached down and attempted to cover Clem with it.   Clem squirmed out from under the paper and tried to grab it.  “No, no, no, Clem.  I need to wrap you – you’re my best Christmas present.”  She fit the paper around Clem’s middle, just below her head.  Clem squirmed and bit off a piece.  No wrapping cats.  She didn’t want to be taped up in a package and put in the closet.  That was not fun, although chewing on the paper wasn’t half bad.  When the yarn lady attempted one more time to secure the paper around Clem’s middle, Clem made a break for it and headed for the closet.  The yarn lady laughed and looked at the crumpled and bit piece of paper.  “Well, I won’t be using this one to wrap any presents – not if my little Clementine doesn’t want to be wrapped up in it and put under my tree.”

Clem watched her ball it up and throw away the paper.  She realized she’d just been given another bit of information about Christmas – the things she’d been wrapping were presents, in other words the gifts she was going to be giving to people.  She thought about the wrapped presents and scenes she’d seen on the television.  Commercials with big Christmas trees usually had lots of pretty boxes underneath – those were the presents.  The reason you wrapped them was because if you just stuck everything under the tree everyone could see them and know what they were.  It was kind of like a mystery.  Peep’s Mommy had brought presents for the yarn lady and Clem last weekend, but those had been in pretty bags with tissue paper.  Clem knew those were presents because the Mommy had announced it when she walked in the door.  So there must be different ways people could conceal the presents.  You could put them in pretty bags, or you could wrap them in pretty paper.  It made sense. 

Clem began to drift off to sleep, tired from all that yarnball chasing.  Her last thought before falling asleep was, “But then why weren’t there any presents that looked like they were for me?”


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Commemorating miracles

On Wednesday the yarn lady and the noisy girl had a marathon cookie baking session.  For three and a half hours they measured, mixed, rolled and baked cookies.  There was so much going on in the kitchen that Clem decided that she’d watch from a safe distance.  Usually she liked to participate in baking by stalking the ingredients, but with two people bustling around the kitchen she figured she might get stepped on.  The finished products were what mattered, though, and she knew the yarn lady would give her bits of cookies when she was done.  Clem loved cookies.  They were so yummy.  The yarn lady didn’t usually make any rolled cookies, as she said that the countertop was just not the right surface for rolling, but the noisy girl wanted Christmas sugar cookies, so they made them.

The noisy girl didn’t have the stamina for baking that the yarn lady had.  She kept coming into the living room to sit down, “just for a minute”, especially towards the end of the session.  That was when they were doing the rolled cookies, so the yarn lady rolled them, called her in and the noisy girl used the cookie cutters.  She heard them discuss how the cookie cutters had belonged to the yarn lady’s grandmother – a Santa, a crinkly star, a bell and a Christmas tree.  It seemed like a lot of work to Clem.  It was a lot easier to make drop cookies, and they tasted just as good, but the holidays were all about traditions from what she could tell. 

Finally the noisy girl went home and the yarn lady collapsed for a while.  Enough, she said. She plopped on the couch and pulled out a little bag.  It held more of the fleece squares like the ones she’d sewn together a couple days ago.  She’d been mistaken about the yarn lady sewing the last one together wrong.  When she’d finished stitching the big squares together, ugly sides out she’d done some magic to  turn it inside out and voila – she had either a giant potholder or a very small quilt.  She folded it up, putting it on top of the toaster oven and announced, “Peep’s present is done.  One down, who knows how many to go.” 

She sewed a bunch more of them together.  Squares into rows, rows sewed together.  Barmy.  She looked at the clock and announced that it was time to light their menorah.  She took it down from its place on top of the tall cabinet, placed three candles in it (right to left) and then lit them, saying the prayers.  Last night when they’d done this there were only two candles – the high one and one on the end.  The yarn lady explained to Clem that since it was the second night of Hanukkah they lit two candles, in addition to the shamash. 

Last night the yarn lady had told Clem the story behind Hanukkah as they watched the candles burn.  Clem liked stories where the undercat prevailed, and the story of the Maccabees was certainly one of those.  There should have been no chance that they would beat the Egyptians, but they did.  And the part about the one little bit of oil that burned for eight days – that was truly a miracle.  As Clem watched the candles burn down she thought about how big a candle would need to be to burn for eight days.  Absolutely huge.  In the half hour or so that the yarn lady left the candles lit they burned down quite a bit. 

Tonight they sat and thought quiet thoughts as they watched the candles burn.  Clem realized that it wasn’t the time to ask the yarn lady to play yarnballs, so she sat near the menorah, transfixed by the flames.  Being a kitten, though, her curiosity got the best of her, and she reached out with one paw to see what it felt like. Oh, hot, hot, hot!  She sat back and licked her paw a bit.  It wasn’t really burned, just a little uncomfortable.  The yarn lady gave Clem the ‘look’ and carefully picked up the menorah and put it on top of the tall cabinet where Clem couldn’t reach it, where it remained until she put out the candles.  As she extinguished them she wondered aloud to Clem why only Jewish people celebrated this holiday.  If it hadn’t been for the Maccabees, Jesus’ ministry might not have been the same – the Egyptians might have stopped the Jews from gathering at all.  God had worked it all out just right, and should be acknowledged for that. 


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Are the holidays sending the yarn lady over the edge?

Clem was convinced that the yarn lady had finally lost her mind.  Two weeks ago she’d come home with a baggie of small squares of fleece.  She’d plopped them on the table, commenting to Clem that she’d just worn out her fingers fringing larger squares for a pillow project for the kids at the craft shop.  These, she said, were the corner pieces she’d cut out.  Well, yesterday she’d opened the bag, sorted the little squares and then started sewing them together.  First strips of them, and then she’d started sewing the strips together until she had a square made of a whole bunch of them.  After she’d finished that, she rummaged around in her crafts closet and came out with a piece of flowery fabric, cut it down and started sewing it to the fleecy thing.  It was bizarre enough that she’d first cut up the big pieces into little pieces and then sewn them up again, but she’d put the pretty side of the fabric against the pretty side of the fleecy thing before she started sewing.  If she was going to waste all that time, at least she could put the pretty sides out.  Oh well.  Maybe all this holiday stuff had made her crack. 

The yarn lady was doing all sorts of crafty things lately, and she wouldn’t let Clem play with any of them.  It just wasn’t fair.  Yesterday, before she’d started sewing the squares, she’d used up almost a whole box of teeny tiny pins to attach a pretty embroidered picture to a piece of foam core.  She muttered the whole time, complaining that the pins were too small or her fingers too big.  Every time she dropped a pin  Clem had run to play with it, but the yarn lady swooped down and grabbed it before Clem could even get near it.  One time she’d commented, “Oh, no, my pretty.  I’m not trusting you with anything little anymore – not since you slurped down that little piece of embroidery thread like it was spaghetti.  I’m still waiting to find it in the litter box.” 

The embroidery thread thing had been an experiment.  Clem usually just played with the thread when the yarn lady was stitching. She’d try to grab it as the needle went in and out of the fabric, or if she left a bunch of it on the table she’d grab it and run off with it.  There had been plenty of little pieces before, and she’d never even considered eating them.  She hadn’t even been hungry.  It had just looked good somehow, so she’d grabbed the end in her mouth and slurped the rest on down.  It didn’t have anything to recommend it in texture or flavor, so she didn’t think she’d repeat the experiment.  Well, at least not with the green thread.  Maybe another color would taste better. 

Boxes were piling up in the sunroom.  It seemed like every day or two another box arrived.  The yarn lady didn’t open any of them, saying they were Christmas presents sent by her sister or things she’d ordered.  Clem had overheard her saying she’d get around to opening them soon, as she couldn’t figure out which ones were for whom.  Clem hoped that at least something in there was for her.  Five more days until Christmas.  That was a long time when you’re just a kitten to wait.  Clem sighed and put her head down on her paws, gazing at the boxes and wishing she had x-ray vision. 


Sunday, December 18, 2011

An early Christmas present

On Saturday evening, Peep’s Mommy had come over with bags of Christmas presents.  One bag was for the yarn lady, one for the noisy girl and one was for Clementine.  The yarn lady opened one of her presents right away, and Clem thought it was something she should have been given instead of the yarn lady.  It was bright, it was dangly and it looked like it would be a lot of fun to play with.  Instead of playing with it though, the yarn lady fastened around her wrist and just let it hang there.  What a waste of silvery playfulness, Clem though wistfully. 

That thought didn’t last long.  Next the yarn lady opened Clem’s bag.  The Mommy insisted that Clem have her present now, instead of waiting for Christmas Day, since the Mommy would be in Mary Land next weekend.  The first thing out of the bag was a piece of cardboard with two toys attached.  Clem waited impatiently while the yarn lady cut one loose.  She tossed it across the room and Clem was off.  It was a wooden spool covered with thick, colorful nylon thread and had feathers sticking out the end.  As it landed it rolled a bit, and Clem pounced on it.  She picked it up in her mouth, shook it and tossed it as far as she could.  She dribbled it, whacked it, chewed on the feathers and had a grand old time, especially when it skidded under a china cabinet and collided with a jingle ball.  Two toys at once.  For a moment she couldn’t decide which one to play with, and gave the ball a tentative nudge.  It rolled and jingled, but she decided the spool was more fun. 

After a few minutes of play she looked over to tell the Mommy “Thank you,” and realized she had a bit of blue feather on the side of her nose.  She licked it off, swallowing the feather, and conveyed her appreciation for the gift. 

There was another gift in the bag – a remote control mousy.  It wasn’t the same one she’d put on her Christmas blog, but it was one of the ones she’d considered.  Unfortunately, it needed to be charged, so it sat on the table while the yarn lady and the Mommy talked about their plans for the holidays.  Clem jumped up on the table in front of the windows overlooking the lake and discovered her octopus.  Why it was up there, she had no clue.  She certainly hadn’t put it up there.  She gave it a whack and it fell to the floor and clucked.  Clem pounced on it, and gave it a kick.

This Christmas thing was pretty good.  Presents now, presents on Christmas day – who knows, maybe there would be presents every few days for the rest of her life…but she doubted it. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Email replies re: how to be a good kitten

_____________________________________________________________________________________
To: clem@catlover.com
From: runa@coldhaus.com
Subject:  Re: How to be a good kitten

Just checking – you do know that I’m a dog, don’t you? 

Runa VonHippleDePip
____________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________
To: clem@catlover.com
From: Tatum@cheerful.com
Subject:  Re: How to be a good kitten

Hi, I talked with Ursula about this, because  I spent most of my kittenhood at the SPCA in a cage.  I had my littermates and sometimes another kitten or two in with me, but I didn’t have much interaction with humans, except when they took care of me or people came to decide not to adopt me (until my beloved Daddy took me home).   The adult cats who lived there said that to get adopted we needed to act as cute and friendly as possible, and never, ever to scratch anyone. 

Ursula was raised by hand by the English Lady, and didn’t know other kittens at all.  Most of her interactions were with Troy (who’s a spaniel) and humans who squeed a lot because she was so tiny and cute.  She says to be a good kitten you should play a lot and not pee on the floors.  
____________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________
To: clem@catlover.com
From: Emmabuddyandkid@kittymail.com
Subject:  Re: How to be a good kitten

Hi Clem!  It’s good to hear from you.  I understand what you’re talking (or writing) about.  I try to be the best cat I can every day to the other animals who live here and to my humans.  Sometimes that means helping someone out, like I did with Kid when Lemuel and his flock were threatened.  I wrote emails and encouraged Kid was she was sad.  Other times it’s stuff like catching mice or bugs that wander into the house.  Humans don’t like those, so as a cat I try to catch them.  Well, except the stink bugs.  They smell really bad, so I don’t catch them because I don’t want to smell like stink bugs for the next several hours.  With Val, when she’s tired or sad I cuddle with her and purr a lot.  It makes her feel good to have a purring cat around.  I think it’s soothing to humans to feel a purr. 

So, I think you should watch out for things to catch and be nice to the yarn lady.  She loves having undercover kitties, so make sure you sleep under the blankets with her sometimes.  I used to do that with her almost every night, and she liked that a lot.  Oh, and if you catch mice, make sure to leave them somewhere really obvious, so they don’t start to decompose.  Although you might like the smell, I guarantee you the yarn lady won’t.

Emma
____________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________
To: clem@catlover.com
From: peepmissrudyandlt@gmail.com
Subject:  Re: How to be a good kitten

Gosh darn, it Clem, you’re a cat.  Just be a cat!  That’s my advice.  People get cats because they want an animal companion that thinks for itself. 

Peep’s advice is very different.  I think it’s silly, but she insists I include it.  When the Mommy left for the first NASA internship, she learned how to help out around the house.  Most of those were horrible failures.  I would NOT recommend that you do the dishes or try to provide meals for the yarn lady.  One thing that Peep does to be a good cat is she dusts corners on the floor.  She slithers under furniture and into corners and comes out covered with dust.  Then she goes outside and shakes it all off.  I don’t think that being an inside cat that would work, though.  There would be nowhere to go to shake the dust off that it wouldn’t still be all over.  You could look for cobwebs, though and clean them off.  Peep also says that keeping your human happy is her main job in the house.  When the Daddy gets blue she meows and purrs and lies on his chest.  It makes him feel a whole lot better.  Oh, and if she ever gets sick, make sure you like next to her a lot.  The extra body heat will help burn out the infection.   It works better when there are lots of cats, but even one cat should help.

LT’s advice is just to do the next right thing, whatever that means.  He says that he doesn’t always know what that is, but he knows what the wrong things are, and he doesn’t do them.  LT’s been alive for a very long time, so he knows what he’s talking about.  He says wrong things are like unrolling the entire roll of toilet paper, shredding the furniture and hurting your human.  Play bites are okay, as long as you don’t break the skin, but no real bites, and no scratching.  Keep your paws velvet.  He says that not doing the wrong things makes it easier for him to realize what the right things are, like head-butting the Daddy when they’re having their breakfast, just to say that he loves him oh so much. 

I’ll ask the other cats at the Cat Club meeting tonight if they have any other ideas and send them to you.  I think you are a good kitten, Clem.  The yarn lady talks about you to the Mommy and Daddy a lot and she loves you very much.  I think you’re her very bestest friend.   If I don’t hear from you again before Christmas, have a Happy and a Merry!

Rudy
____________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thoughts on becoming a better kitten

Clem was very conflicted about her blog/Christmas list.  She’d gotten all excited about making a list and getting all sorts of presents, but then realized most of the stuff she wanted would cost an awful lot of money.  She didn’t feel comfortable pressuring the yarn lady to spend more money than anyone would spend on presents.  That’s why she’d written a post about making a ball out of toilet paper rolls.  And it wasn’t just that she felt she was being a selfish little kitten.  These holidays seemed to be about being nice to others and being a better human, cat or whatever you were. 

All in all, Clem thought she was a pretty good kitten.  She kept the yarn lady company and played with her as much as she wanted.  Every night when the yarn lady went to bed, Clem would climb under the covers and purr on her lap, letting her human know how much she loved her.  She didn’t claw the furniture (well, at least not much), and tried not to knock too many things down.  After breaking the first antique teacup she’d felt so guilty, she’d never climbed to the top of the china cabinet again.

Maybe this was a time she should reach out to the other animals she knew because the yarn lady knew them.  She’d never met them, but had come to know them from emails they sent back and forth.  Some of them seemed to be very kind and good.  Yup, that’s what she should do. 

____________________________________________________________
To: Tatum@cheerful.com; peepmissrudyandlt@gmail.com; Emmabuddyandkid@kittymail.com; runa@coldhaus.com
From: clem@catlover.com
Subject: How to be a good kitten

Merry Christmas everyone!  I’m just a little kitten, and I need some advice about how to be a good cat.  I did some research on Christmas and Hanukkah, and other than presents and decorations these holidays are about being a better being.  You know, being kinder and more loving – giving of yourself more than looking for others to do things for you.  How can I do that when I’m just a housecat in a household of one human?  I know most of you live with more than one other animal and more than one human, but any advice would be appreciated. 

Thank you…

Clementine
____________________________________________________________


Monday, December 12, 2011

Researching Hanukkah

Since it obviously wasn’t the case that Christmas was about presents and Hanukkah about decorations, Peep wanted to find out more about Hanukkah.  She'd learned a bit about Christmas by watching the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon with the yarn lady, so she looked at the television listings to see if there was a Hanukkah cartoon.  If there was, she couldn't find it, so she waited until the yarn lady went over to see the noisy girl and got on the computer.  She put in a search for the words "Hanukkah" and "story".   Those terms led her to a story that was really kind of interesting, but at first it didn't seem to have anything to with the holiday.  Aliens and mean humans, yes, Hanukkah, no.  But then as it got to the end, she finally found the part about the holiday.  It was a really sweet story, and the aliens didn't kill all the humans on earth because of the family celebrating Hanukkah.  Kind of like the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon - warm and caring, but funny and with a bit of a sharp edge to it, showing what the humans shouldn't be doing.

She needed more information, though.  The site the story was on had a promising link, “Visit our Chanukah Mega-Site”, so she clicked that.  The words sounded the same, so she figured they probably were at least related. She found a couple articles that had were really hard for a little kitten to understand, but then saw a kids section, so she looked there.  This was information she could understand.  Hanukkah was a celebration for Jewish people.  That answered one question. 

She knew that humans followed different religions, although the ones she’d heard about all seemed to have the same God, one who had made the world and wanted the humans to be good to one another.   There were details about how they celebrated things that were different as far as she could tell, and some beliefs that were added or missing from certain religions.  That was kind of like the difference between the Great Cat and the Celestial Turkey. 

Now, Hanukkah was about something that happened even longer ago than the first Christmas.  Unlike the Christmas story, this one was a lot sadder.  The Jewish people had been treated badly by the Greeks (whoever they were) and when they tried to fight back the Greeks tried to kill them all.  G-d helped them to defeat the Greeks and then gave them a miracle to keep the light burning in their temple for as long as it took to make the special oil they needed.  The human Jews commemorated this to remind themselves and show others that G-d saved them.  With that information, the story about Morgenstern-the-alien made a lot more sense. 

She liked that the lighting of the menorah was to be done by the family altogether and that after lighting it and saying the prayers that the humans were supposed to sit and talk about the holiday and G-d all together.  Humans needed to spend time with each other from what she’d seen personally, read or watched on television.  It helped them think about stuff other than what was rolling around in their brains, what the yarn lady called the committee in her head. 

She knew the yarn lady wasn’t Jewish, but kind of hoped she’d light a menorah anyway.  It seemed somehow like a right thing to do.  


Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/jentastic/4189270164

The story referenced in this post, "A Long Day for Morgenstern" can be found at http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?aid=2677&jewish=A-Long-Day-For-Morgenstern.htm

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Selling Christmas

Yesterday Clementine had written an email to Rudy asking her to explain, if she could why there was all this advertising for things that people couldn't afford to buy.  She just didn't understand it, and felt that Rudy would, since she was a very smart cat.  Plus, she had Peep and LT to discuss it with, as well as the other Cat Club members who lived nearby.  She figured that between them all, they could give her a reasonable answer.

She checked her email when the yarn lady went out, saying that she'd be gone for several hours.  The yarn lady always told her how long she'd be gone.  Clem knew she was trying to reassure her that she would return as well as giving her a time frame in which to expect her.  She didn't realize that it also let Clem know how long she could use the computer safely before she was likely to come home.  She'd learned early on, though, to wait at least fifteen minutes after the yarn lady left.  She frequently forgot things like her car keys and had do come back to get them.  It wouldn't do for her to walk in and find Clem perched on the computer table maneuvering the mouse and staring intently at the computer monitor. 

There was an email from Rudy, and she read it with dismay.

______________________________________________________________________________
To: clem@catlover.com
From: peepmissrudyandlt@gmail.com
Subject: A primer on business and the commercialization of Christmas

(that was enough in itself to dampen Clem's spirits.  It didn't sound like she would like any part of this answer)

Clem, you are a very young kitten, for all that you are half-grown.  Television stations are businesses, and they exist to make money.  The service they provide is shows and news and such, but they wouldn't do it if it didn't make money, and as much money as they can get out of it.  It costs a lot of money to make television shows.  Actors in the shows have to get paid, as well as all the people who work on them (you know, all those lists of names at the end of the shows).  So, the television stations sell advertising time on their shows.  The stations want to sell the most ads they can in order to make that money.  They really don't care whether the ads are for things that people can't afford, don't need or don't even want.  There are *some* rules they need to follow because of laws. There is a limit to the amount of time (12 minutes/hour on weekdays) for ads in kids’ shows.  It used to be that there were television ads for cigarettes, but because they're not healthy for humans, they aren't allowed to have ads for them on television anymore.  On the other hand, drug companies didn't used to be allowed to advertise prescription medication on television, but now they can.  From all the warnings in the ads, I'm not sure they're any better for you than cigarettes, but the laws say they can accept ads for those drugs, but not cigarettes. 

The people who make the ads are a whole business in themselves.  They come up with ways to make stuff look the best and make people want to buy it.  You mentioned in one of your emails about prices being for $9.99 or something like that.  The advertising people did all sorts of research with humans, and believe it or not, humans' brains are fooled into thinking that $9.99 is really a better price than $10.00 even though it's just a penny less.  And the humans in commercials are always smiling, and better looking than most of the folks you'd see on the street on any given day (especially if you live on my street).  That's so that the humans will think that if they buy the stuff they'll be happy and surrounded by good-looking people. 

And as for why there are so many toy and television ads at this time of year, I don't have a really good answer.  I did some research, and from what I can tell, up until a little over a hundred years ago people didn't make such a big fuss over Christmas presents.  People gave their family members a practical thing or two, or something they gave handmake presents.  Somehow in the last hundred years humans started thinking that Christmas would be better with lots and lots of presents, and that the presents had to cost a lot of money. 

Our Mommy and Daddy are more like the old-fashioned folk.  There's not a lot of presents, and the ones there are really mean something.  They're things that are needed for the most part.  And they never forget me, Peep and LT.  We get treats for Christmas and usually some bacon and other stuff.  I'm kind of sad that Mommy and Daddy will be away for Christmas this year, but I know the yarn lady will come over and give us an extra special Christmas dinner and spend some time with us.  She did that the last time Daddy went to Mary Land for Christmas.  I'm kind of hoping she brings the food you put in your blog - you know the one with the shrimp?  I don't think I've ever had a whole shrimp to myself. 

Well, enough from me.  See you on the interwebs!
______________________________________________________________________________

Clem understood about half of what Rudy had written.  She had heard of business, but really didn't understand it.  She knew that people needed money to pay for things they needed and wanted and that most people got that money from jobs.  She guessed that maybe the jobs were with the businesses.  She figured that the business made money so that it could pay its employees so they could pay their bills.  Did they want to make more money so they could hire more employees?  Maybe pay them more, so they could buy more stuff?  She didn't think so, or the unemployment rate she kept hearing about on the radio wouldn't be so high and the yarn lady's friends wouldn't talk about how their jobs didn't pay them very much money.  Even LuLuBelle, who was a chef, of all things, said her job didn't pay her very much.  Chefs should be at the top of the pay scale from Clem's point of view, especially one who cooked as well as she did. 

This was too complicated, and the yarn lady would be home soon.  It was time to log off, clear out the evidence of her computer time and collect her yarn balls.  She really needed a good game of yarn balls to clear her head.  Hopefully the yarn lady would be home soon and ready to play.

Photo courtesy of http://tinyurl.com/2dbyz3e



Saturday, December 10, 2011

Decorating

This morning the yarn lady was busy folding up long narrow strips of paper into stars.  She had cut the paper from one of the many advertisements she received in the mail, commenting that she’d found a use for all that junk mail finally.  Clem really wanted to play with the stars, but as soon as she reached for one, the yarn lady would whisk it out of the way and put it in a fancy glass bowl on top of the china cabinet in the living room.  The cabinet itself was a new addition, and one that the yarn lady was very proud of.  It was tall, made out of dark wood with two glass doors that met in the middle.  She’d heard the yarn lady explain that it had been made by her great-grandfather from her grandmother’s childhood bed.  Clem had seen it out in the garage before this, but it had needed repair before it could be moved in and used. 

Also on top of the cabinet was a small tree, but it didn’t seem to be real.  At least the yarn lady hadn’t watered it since she’d brought it home a few weeks ago and put it there.  Clem hadn’t been sure of its purpose up until today.  When the yarn lady had finished making a whole bunch of the puffy stars she got out a needle and thread and strung the stars onto the thread.  She had to do it practically in the middle of the room, because once there were a few of them on the thread, Clem really, really wanted to play with it.  She was convinced that it was a new cat toy, and the yarn lady hadn’t let her play with the stars when she made them because she wanted to finish making the toy, but it turned out that the string of stars was something to be attached to the small tree. 

The yarn lady wound the loose end of the string around a branch (she’d used green thread, so it didn’t show) and then carefully arranged the stars so that they could be seen amongst the branches.  It finally occurred to Clem what this was – a Christmas tree, just like in the Charlie Brown show she’d watched earlier this week.  She stood and watched as the yarn lady continued to arrange the stars.   The yarn lady commented to Clem, “Although I suppose I have room for a big tree, I could imagine you climbing it and knocking off all my grandmother’s ornaments.  Unh-uh.  Not gonna happen.  Little tree, paper ornaments.  Even if you figure out how to get up here, there’s nothing to break.”  She bent down, scooped Clem up and showed her the tree. 

Clem tried her best to look as though she were a kitten who would never even consider climbing a tree, but failed miserably when she was tempted by the loose end with stars still on it.  Her paw reached out to grab it with no intention on her part.  The yarn lady stepped back and put Clem on the floor.  “And that is why it’s way up high, with no furniture in range for you to leap up from.  I think it’s  safe there.” 

She sat back and admired it from the floor.  It looked kind of nice up there with all the paper stars on it, but the yarn lady wasn’t done.  She took a tiny piece of silver wrapping paper, folded it up even tinier and attacked it with some scissors.  When she was done, she unfolded it very carefully, looked at it and perched it on the very top of the tree.  “It’s not an angel, and not a star, but I think a snowflake tops it off quite nicely.”  Clem agreed, it looked very nice. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A reality check for Clementine

Clementine checked her email early on Thursday morning, long before she knew the yarn lady would be awake.  She usually didn’t find anything other than ads for Canadian catnip, but today there was one from Rudy.

__________________________________________________________
To: clem@catlover.com
From: peepmissrudyandlt@gmail.com
Subject: Take a reality check

Clem – have you looked at the prices of some of the things you’re posting on your little ‘wishlist’ blog???  By the way, you forgot the link for the princess bed, I had to look that one up to find it.  It costs $349!!!  And that Catpod?  It’s $70.  The 2-level Kitty Cloud?  That’s $65.  Well, I know from my Daddy that money just doesn’t grow on trees, even if those leaves are green most of the time.  And that Cat Library??  Well, if it was even available, it would probably cost close to $1000! 

In case you don’t know about money values, let me clue you in a bit.  Your favorite cat food costs a little more than $1 for just one serving.  You probably don’t get it every day, right?  It’s because the yarn lady would go broke if she gave it to you all the time.  Humans have bills they need to pay.  Mortgages, electric bills, phone bills, cable bills, gas for their cars, insurance for their cars and houses, food, medical bills.  For most people these days their expenses are nearly as much money as they get from their jobs.  And the yarn lady can’t even work!  She lives on her Social Security money – which probably is just enough to cover her expenses.  I’ve heard her talking to my Mommy about how she’d like to do things like replace her counter tops, but she can’t afford to do it.  And you know what?  That counter top is probably about the same amount of money as that princess cat bed. 

Unless you want to give your human mommy a major dose of the guilts, I think you should start posting stuff that doesn’t cost so much money. 

Respectfully,

Miss Rudy
__________________________________________________________

Clem was mortified.  The yarn lady never talked about money to her, but then she was a cat.  She probably wouldn’t expect her to know about income and expenses.  So, if most people didn’t earn a lot of extra money, why were there so many commercials on television about stuff to buy?  A big-screen television probably cost more than a cat bed.  Wait, she could look that up.  She was pretty sure it was Best Buy that had all the ads for tv sets.  The first one listed cost $899.99.  Why didn’t they just say $900?  Silliness. 

But how much were those expenses that Rudy mentioned?  There was a small pile of bills on the computer table, since the yarn lady had paid them but hadn’t filed them yet.  Hmmm.  Her electric bill, which she happened to know was the heat, hot water, lights and appliances was $143 for one month.  So, a television cost six times as much as a month’s worth of electricity, and the cat bed she’d listed cost twice as much and a bit more. 

She thought about the whole advertising thing.  Sometimes when the noisy girl came over she put on cartoons, and those shows had lots of commercials for toys.  So, the kids would see the commercials and want the stuff, and ask their parents for it for Christmas.  The parents would feel guilty if they couldn’t buy them the stuff they wanted, so most of them probably ended up spending more than they should on Christmas gifts.  This didn’t seem right to her.  Why did the television channels let companies put on so many ads?  They should know it wasn’t right.  Hmmm, she’d send Rudy an email on this one.  She was both a lot older and wiser than Clem so maybe she’d know. 



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thoughts on homemade versus store-bought

Last night the yarn lady had some friends over to the house.  She’d expected a few more people, but some were busy and some weren’t feeling well.  From Clem’s point of view it had been plenty of people.  People meant noise, which wasn’t good, but it also meant food, which was good.  There was always the chance that someone would drop some food on the floor and she could eat it if she got to it really quick.  She could also try jumping on the table, but the humans usually just put her on the floor quickly.  Since there weren’t as many people as she’d expected there would be leftovers.  The yarn lady always shared her leftovers with Clem.  She didn’t let her eat off her plate (at least with her knowledge), but she would put some down for Clem in a food bowl.  There was a yummy looking spinach dip that she had been dying to try, and her absolute favorite – carrot bread.  Some cats didn’t like vegetables, but Clem did, as long as they were mixed with something, like sour cream or butter, or apples and cinnamon.  Heavenly.

She had been banished to the garage for a while until she got too cold and asked loudly to be allowed to come back in.  She discovered why – they were all playing with beads.  Trays and bins and containers of beads.  Roly-poly beads that she was aching to dig her paws into.  Some were bright colors like a metallic rainbow; others were just silver or gold.  The ladies arranged them in rows and then stuck them on tiny sticks and twisted the ends.  Clem wondered what this all was for, and then she saw Luann stick one of the things she’d made through a teeny tiny hole in her ear and asked the others if they liked her earrings.  They didn’t look like rings to her, though.  They looked like sticks with beads on them.  Pretty, but not round at all. 

Luann diligently sorted through beads and found ones she liked and strung more of them on the sticks, until she had five identical pairs.  She announced that they were Christmas presents for people she worked with.  Clem thought about this – the television hadn’t said anything about making gifts for people.  It had commercials encouraging people to buy things, like earrings or other jewelry.  She hadn’t realized that you could make it yourself. 

Then again, the yarn lady made all sorts of things that could be bought in stores or on the internet.  She made scarves and afghans and booties (lots of booties) with her knitting.  She made decorations with paper, and now jewelry with beads.  She sewed stuff with fabric and fancy threads.  She baked cookies and bread and gave them away too.  For goodness sake, she made all the yarn balls.   As she thought more about this making things, she wondered why anyone would ever buy anything for a gift, if they could make things. 

But no one human could make everything that other people would want or need.  If the noisy girl wanted a book about anything other than cats for a gift, the yarn lady would need to buy that.  And no one person could make a television or computer or something like that, they had all sorts of parts and were put together by whole buildings full of people.  What about shoes?  Someone had to make them, but she didn’t know how.  She guessed there were times and places for store-bought gifts and homemade ones.  For example, the yarn lady couldn’t do woodworking, so if she were going to get Clem a Cat Library or some sort of climbing tree for Christmas she’d have to buy that. 

She pulled herself out of her reverie just in time to see everyone packing up the last of the beads.  They’d gone back into their containers, which all fit neatly into a big handled bag that the yarn lady said she’d found in someone’s discards.  Bummer.  She’d really looked forward to doing some beadwork herself, even if her version of beadwork involved batting them around the room rather than trying to fit them onto tiny little sticks without the benefit of thumbs.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Watching a Christmas classic

On Monday evening the yarn lady kept looking at the clock.  She did that sometimes when there was something on television she really wanted to watch.  This was one of those times.  At a few minutes before 8 pm she tuned into channel 7 and sat down on the couch with her knitting.  She called Clem to come in because there was a show that she really should watch.  As it started, Clem wondered why in the world the yarn lady would want her to watch a cartoon, but then she realized what it was about.  Christmas!  A Charlie Brown Christmas to be specific.  Clem wasn’t sure if that was different from any other type of Christmas when it started, but she stopped caring as the story unfolded. 

If she hadn’t been a cat, she would have been crying by the time it was half over, but cats can’t cry.  It was so sad how the other kids treated Charlie Brown.  He was just trying to do the right thing, the kind thing, and the other kids either laughed at him or paid him no attention at all.  But then Linus started talking and suddenly things started to make sense.  Christmas was a birthday, but not a birthday where you gave presents to the birthday person – you gave presents because of the birth of a person a long time ago. 

Some of the stuff Clem had read while she was researching Advent made sense now.  Preparation and expectation weren’t about the presents you’d give or get, it was preparing to commemorate that miraculous birth and expecting that somehow, sometime that Saviour would return.  All the information on liturgical colors and seasons, that wasn’t the point. 

Clem wondered how this fit in for cats, though.  She wasn’t a human, and had always believed in the Great Cat, or as some facetiously referred to her, Ceiling Cat.  The Great Cat was just a spirit who looked over all cats, domestic and wild.  Lemuel’s hens believed in a Celestial Turkey who had created the world.  She didn’t understand all this, but she knew that all of them would encourage her to be a good kitten, and to do the next right thing, whatever that was.  


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Working on the Christmas list

Clementine was overwhelmed with the number of things that she could put on her Christmas list/blog.  The more she searched, the more she found, and that's not just talking about cat toys.  There were cat beds, cat clothing (were those humans off their gourds??), special food dishes, outdoor fenced play areas, steps to get to high-to-reach places (cats really didn't need those) cat condos/trees on multiple levels, scratchers, collars along with charms to attach to them, perfume, shampoo, nail enamel (again, were those humans crazy??) and so many different types of gourmet cat treats that she could try one a day for probably a year and still have more she'd never tried.  

Then the toys...squeaking toys, rattling toys, jingling toys, genuine fur toys, fake fur toys, feather toys, balls, laser toys, toys on sticks, toys on strings.  Toys with catnip (hmmm, that sounded good), toys with scents, toys that even moved on their own.  Oh, so much to consider.   

She could eliminate some of the gift suggestions without even thinking.  She did not plan on wearing clothes.  The Great Cat had given her a beautiful fur coat, and she didn't ever plan on covering it, except with the occasional blankie.  Perfumes, shampoos and nail enamel were also among the non-starters.  She didn't like people who smelled like flowers, and cats took care of their own fur, no shampoo needed thank you.  Special food dishes - she had those.  The yarn lady let her use some of her own Momey's special dishes, and there was nothing more special than that.  

The toys were alluring.  She loved to play.  If there was no one or nothing to play with she'd chase her own tail for hours on end (okay, maybe it was only ten minutes, but still it was a long time).  The mousy she'd gotten as a gift was really cool, more like that would be nice, as would some sort of toy that moved on its own and that she could chase.  


Really, though her favorite thing to chase was the yarn balls that the yarn lady made for her.  They were exactly the right size for her mouth (well, except for the two that were bigger than she was), and the yarn lady would throw them for her again and again and again.  The yarn lady laughed and smiled more when they were playing yarn balls than almost any other time, and Clem liked those times best of all.  Perhaps the toy itself wasn't the main thing, it was what happened between her and her human that was important, and that they were yarn balls made just for her made it the best.  


Still, she would like a robotic mouse....



Saturday, December 3, 2011

So what is Advent anyway?

Clementine was torn between feeling miffed that she was being left home alone and glad that she had undisturbed computer time to work on her new blog.  The yarn lady had gone out early this morning to go to a movie and then come home only long enough to pack up her knitting before leaving again.  She did, to her credit, make sure that the crunchy food bowl was full before she left. Clem was sad though that she’d been gone for hours and hours again.  

The first thing Clem had done when the yarn lady left for the movies was to check today’s door on her online Advent calendar.  She’d heard about Advent calendars from the yarn lady, when she’d told Clem that she’d tried to find one just for her, but that the Toadstool didn’t have any cat ones.  She had her own online calendar from a thread company where every day gave her a new pattern or part of a pattern, so Clem decided she’d look for her own.  

It had taken a lot of searching, but she finally found an online Advent Calendar that featured pictures of Bengal cats.  Today’s cat was named Sandy Spots and had lovely coloring.  Most of the other online calendars she’d found were for children and featured things like colorful drawings of elves and balls with hooks coming out of the top and dolls.  As she sat looking at Sandy Spots she tried to figure out what the connection was between drawings, cats and sewing patterns.  She wasn’t even sure what Advent was, other than it had calendars.  Time for some research.  

Wikipedia’s article was confusing, with all sorts of information about liturgical seasons and colors, but at least she figured out it had something to do with Christmas.  It didn’t say anything about presents though, and Clem was sure that was what Christmas was about.  So, she tried another website that also talked about Christmas, but it said that Advent was a time of expectation and preparation.  That made a little more sense to her, as you are preparing to give presents to other people, and expecting presents yourself.  

Noticing that it was starting to get dark, she figured she’d better do her blog entry for the day, in case the yarn lady came home early.  She’d decided she would give a wide selection of items for the yarn lady to choose from.  There was no way Clem would get them all, but hopefully she’d at least get some of them.  Today she’d chosen a really cool combination scratcher/tunnel/nap place.  It would be a heck of a lot more fun than the one she had now.  What fun was a bunch of glued together cardboard that just lay there on the ground?  The only reason she used it at all was that the yarn lady gave her treats when she used it.  She never got treats from her at any other time, which she considered quite unfair, but she’d scratch there if it would get her cat treats.  

She posted the blog entry and realized that it had probably been at least two hours since she’d had a nap.  That was way too long, so she closed all the windows she’d been looking at, cleared her browsing history and headed over to the red blankie for a nap.  



Thursday, December 1, 2011

A blog and holiday confusion

On Thursday morning when the yarn lady opened her email she found that somehow she’d been put on a mailing list for a new blog – one about stuff for cats.  It seemed to be the blog’s first entry, and she smiled when she saw what it was – Corentin Dombrecht’s Cat Library.  She’d found information about it last spring, and drooled over it.  It basically was a bookshelf with built-in steps for cats along with an indentation on the top with a cushion that made it a cat bed.  Fortunately for her bank account the item wasn’t in production.  It also wasn’t something that would go with her d├ęcor, being very boxy and blond (the wood that is).  According the blog, the item still wasn’t in production, but might be available sometime soon, and the writer even encouraged folks to contact Corentin to ask for information about it.  The yarn lady shook her head, wondering how she’d been put on its mailing list, but whatever, it was about cats, so that was okay.

Clementine sat nonchalantly on her red blankie pretending to be asleep while the yarn lady checked her email.  She was happy to see that the blog entry had been sent to her and that she read it instead of deleting it, as she often did with stuff she considered to be electronic junk mail.  She didn’t immediately click on the link to contact the designer, which disappointed Clem, but she figured that she had plenty of time before Christmas, whenever that was.  The blog itself looked kind of blah.  She hadn’t thought about what it would look like when she set it up, other than choosing a color scheme that matched her fur.  She figured that she’d wait until the yarn lady went out again, or at latest when she went to sleep tonight and try to spruce it up a bit.  She’d love to use a photo of herself in it, but then the yarn lady might figure out it was her writing it.  She’d come up with something. 

Last night while watching television the yarn lady had sat and folded up what seemed like gazillions of little strips of paper into tiny little puffy stars in blue and silver.  Clem of course had thought she was making her new cat toys, but the yarn lady wouldn’t let her play with them.  She’d explained very patiently (after pulling her out of the bin she was putting them in for the fourth time) that they were decorations for Hanukkah, which was another December holiday. 

This left Clem quite confused.  Did Hanukkah involve presents too?  Should she be making a Hanukkah list instead of a Christmas list?  No, that wasn’t right.  She’d told the noisy girl to make a Christmas list.  Well, maybe one involved presents and the other decorations.  She sighed, very glad to be a cat.  It was much too complicated to be a human. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thinking about a Christmas list

Clem wasn’t exactly sure what Christmas was, but there seemed to be a lot of talk about it.  She saw commercials on television that encouraged humans to buy lots of things for their loved ones, so she knew it had something to do with presents.  Clem knew about presents.  She’d come to live with the yarn lady the day before her birthday and had greatly enjoyed the boxes the yarn lady’s presents had come in.  She especially liked the ones that had tissue paper in them, as it made the most delightful noises when she crinkled it. 

The boxes had contained pretty or useful things that people had given to the yarn lady.  She figured the stuff inside was the presents, and not the boxes, even though she personally had preferred the boxes.  She had just been a very little kitten then.  Now she was mostly grown up, and wanted presents as well as boxes.  Every once in a while Clem herself had received presents.  Someone the yarn lady corresponded with had sent her two marvelous mousies, and Peep’s mommy had brought her presents also.  One was a pink stuffed squid that clucked like a chicken when it was kicked or thrown.  Confusing but fun.

The yarn lady had told her daughter to make sure she made a Christmas list.  Clem figured out that this was where you wrote down all the things you might like to get as presents.  She thought it was a good idea, since if you were going to get presents they should be things you liked.  On the other hand, some of the gifts the yarn lady liked best from her birthday had just been things that her friends and family thought she would like.  The daughter (whom Tatum and Ursula called the noisy girl, even though she wasn’t all that noisy) had given her a cool little wooden bowl that the yarn lady used every day and smiled every time she looked at it.  So, maybe unexpected presents might be really good too. 

Anyhow, from what Clem could tell, whatever Christmas was, its main purpose was presents.  So, she’d been working on her own list for a while now.  She knew a bunch of things she’d like to have, but was trying to figure out how to communicate that to the yarn lady.  First she’d thought of writing as if she were one of the yarn lady’s friends in an email, but then figured out she wouldn’t be able to get into their email accounts to send the message, so that wouldn’t work.  And of course she couldn’t send it from her own email account, as the last thing Clem wanted was for the yarn lady to know that she could read, write and operate a computer.  That was against the Universal Cat Code of Secrecy, or UCCS for short. 

She was considering a number of other options, including a new email account that would be from, say, a cat toy reviewing group.  She thought that was probably the best idea.  Another one was a blog about cat toys, but she didn’t know how she’d get the yarn lady to look at that blog.  A third idea was a Facebook account from someone who could ask to be the yarn lady’s friend and then talk about cat toys all the time.  The problem with that one was that maybe the yarn lady wouldn’t want to be that person’s friend.  Who knows, maybe she’d do all three.