Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sweet hound

Ziggy was suffering from withdrawal.  No one had bought ice cream for days, and the yarn lady wasn't due to bake cookies until tomorrow, if she was even going to do it here.  There were plenty of crunchies, but what he craved was sweets.  Ice cream, cookie dough, the cookies themselves, even some jelly would be good at this point.  He sniffed at the garbage can, but his Mommy had emptied it last night, so there was nothing good there.  Maybe in the sink?  Last night Mommy had eaten the last of the streusel she'd baked, so hopefully the pan was in the sink and he could lick it.  

It was tough for a very small dog to get on the kitchen counter.  First he scrambled onto one of the chairs and then up onto the kitchen table.  From the table he prepared to leap the three feet between the table and counter.  Considering the counter was about six inches higher than the table and he was a very small dog, it was no easy jump.  He waggled his rear end, braced himself and leapt.  He landed on the counter, but he'd leapt so strongly that he skidded across the tile counter into the canisters.  Jeez!  He hoped that Lizzie was sound asleep.  Luckily Mommy had left for work already, otherwise she'd been in here in a twinkling.  

Bella came in to investigate, figuring that Kid was the culprit.  Bella loved Kid, and wanted to make sure she was okay.  When she saw Ziggy on the counter trying to push the canisters back where they belonged she sat down and laughed.  "What the heck are you doing up there?  Have you decided to help Mommy out with housecleaning?"  

Ziggy was more than embarrassed.  It was bad enough to be found by Bella on the counter, but how to explain that he just *needed* something sweet to snack on?  "Well, no, I'm not cleaning.  I'd umm, jumped up on the counter and hit the canisters.  I just wanted to straighten them up.  Didn't want Kid or Lizzie to get in trouble for something I did, you know."

"Okay, but why were you up there?  Kid I can understand on counters, but that's not a usual spot for you."  Bella looked at Ziggy expectantly, particularly since he was looking rather guilty.  

"Just checking on the counters.  Seeing if there was anything interesting up here."  He walked down the counter, skirting the sink.  He looked surreptiously into the sink and noticed the streusel pan, complete with bits of streusel and peach syrup.  He drooled a little and covered it up by coughing.  "Hmmm, not much going on up here.  Dirty dishes.  Well, see you later, Bella."  Ziggy looked at her, wishing that she'd leave so that he could lick out the pan.  

Although suspicious of his motives, Bella decided to play along.  "Sure thing. Time to head back to sleep."  Bella trotted into the living room, her claws clicking on the wood floor.  Once she'd reached her bed underneath the table she turned around and tiptoed back through the dining room.  When you're an overweight chihuahua that's not an easy task, but by moving very slowly and placing her paws down lightly she managed to get to the kitchen entrance without a sound.  

When she peered around the corner into the kitchen she saw Ziggy's rump pointing in the air.  His head was deep in the sink, and she could hear him lapping at something.  "Whatcha doing, Zig?"  Bella laughed as he jumped and then fell into the sink, causing a loud crash of baking dishes and plates.  

"What did you do that for, Bella?  Now I've got streusel crumbs and peach all over my fur!  What a waste of good food."  Ziggy scrambled out of the sink and stood on the counter, shaking himself.  

"Mystery solved.  You're up there because you wanted Mommy's struesel.  Sweet hound, sweet hound, Ziggy's a sweet hound."  Bella sing-songed the last, ending with a wheezy giggle.  

Ziggy struck a pose that he hoped was imposing, but since he had peach juice all over his face and ears he looked ridiculous.  "There's nothing wrong with wanting a sweetie now and again, you know."  

Realizing that she'd hurt his dignity, Bella backed down.  There was nothing worse than a male with injured dignity.  "Indubitably, Ziggy.  I myself appreciate a sweet snack now and again.  I apologize for disturbing you.  Carry on."  

Bella walked back to her bed in the living room, laughing very, very softly.  As she lay down she sang under her breath, "Sweet hound, sweet hound, Ziggy's a sweet hound."

Photo courtesy of Wayne Silver -

Monday, May 23, 2011


Emma was snoozing on the yarn lady's bed on the very comfy down comforter.  It was getting a little warm for the flannel cover on it, but it was still very cozy.  As she'd drifted off to sleep an hour ago she'd thought that come summer it would be better if the yarn lady took off the heavy cover and just left the duvet on the bed.  

She was awakened by the yarn lady saying as she walked into the bedroom, "Emma's going to miss me when I move."  Although this was addressed to Val, it not only woke Emma up but startled her quite a bit.  Move?  What was the yarn lady talking about?  Emma skipped her stretch and followed the yarn lady back into the living room.  What was this all about?  

"I'm not sure if it's me she's going to miss or my comforter.  She sure likes sleeping on it."  The yarn lady plopped down on the loveseat and opened her IPad to look up degrees of consanguinity.  She wanted to figure out once and for all what the difference was between a first cousin, a second cousin and a first cousin once-removed.  

A lively discussion followed between Val and the yarn lady about a diagram that tried to explain this concept.  The yarn lady didn't get it at all, and even Val had a bit of trouble wrapping her brain around how it worked.  Did you follow the diagram up, over and down or was it over, over and down and up only if you needed to go there.  Too complicated.  Emma tried to follow the discussion but decided that it was some silliness of humans.  Cats didn't worry about such things.  Either you were related or not - that was all that mattered, and it didn't even matter much, particularly since Val made sure that all the cats had been to Tibet for certain surgical procedures.  

Emma sat and waited for further discussion on the topic of moving, but after consanguinity the conversation moved on to allergies, particularly those related to mold and roses.  Since Emma was allergic only to large dogs that took exception to her being a cat she wandered off to find Buddy.  Maybe he knew more about the yarn lady moving.

She found him snoring on the bed.  Loudly.  Frankly she was glad that she usually was asleep on the bed before Buddy came in at night.  His snoring could keep someone with narcolepsy awake.  She jumped on the bed and stomped around on the covers until he woke up, as it was not a good idea to wake him directly.  He often responded to this with claws extended, and that could hurt.  

"What do you know about the yarn lady moving?  She said something about it tonight."  Emma tried to look timid as she asked the question.  No use in getting Buddy's fur in an uproar.

"You woke me up for that?  Yeah, she's moving.  Buying a place on Wednesday, and she'll be out by the end of the month.  Next weekend I think.  I'll miss her.  This blanket has been to die for.  Do you think our Mommy would buy us one like this?"  Buddy yawned and stretched out to a length of almost two feet.

"Next weekend?  No way - I just got to be friends with her.  This is not fair.  You've been sleeping in here with her for ages, and I just got in here a couple months ago.  I want her to stay!"  Emma ended with a cat wail.  

"Hey, you coulda been in here a lot sooner.  I waited a week or two just to make sure she wasn't some sort of sicko who would skin me in my sleep.  You never know with boarders.  And never mind.  The Mommy's mother is probably coming to stay here this summer.  We can sleep with her."  Buddy didn't seem too concerned.  

Emma slunk off and headed outside to think.  This was not good news.  Of course she could have made friends sooner, but she was a cautious little cat.  She had watched the yarn lady for months, just to make sure she was good people.  She'd turned out to be a person who could scratch Emma for longer that even she wanted, and that was saying something, since Emma would happily have her head and back scratched for a very long time.  Perhaps she should stow away in the yarn lady's belongings and go with her.  It bore thinking about.

Photo courtesy of Dan Winckler -

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tatum's Tasty Organic Cat Treats

Tatum was very disappointed.  A little over a month ago Peep and Rudy's Mommy had written a business plan for a business called "Tatum's Tasty Organic Cat Treats".  It was about a business his momey, the yarn lady was starting.  There were going to be all sorts of cat treats that she'd make and sell.  His personal favorite had been Tatum's Tasty Tilapia Treats.  Well, it had been probably two months since he'd first heard of about it, and still nothing had happened.  He'd written to Peep's Mommy a few weeks ago and asked when he was going to be famous (since that's what she'd told him when she asked if they could use his name in the business) and she'd said that he'd always be famous in her heart.  Well, that was nice, in a smarmy sort of way, but what about real fame - and better yet, real profits.  Or at least some of those tilapia treats.  He'd asked his beloved Daddy and the noisy girl for them, but they didn't seem to have a clue what he was talking about. 

So this morning Tatum got on the internet to try to find the business, but couldn't find the website.  He found Tatum's Family Reviews for some organic snacks for people (not cats), recipes for organic cat treats (none of which were made with tilapia) and something about a dog named Tatum who ate Dakota Bison dog food, which happens to contain a lot of salmon (but not tilapia).  He tried Yahoo, Google, Bing, AltaVista and Lycos.  No luck.  Then he tried some of the business search engines -, LexisNexis and ThomasNet.  None of them listed it.  Finally he went to the NJ State Business Gateway Service search, figuring that he could at least get information on the business itself, but it wasn't listed.  The closest he found was Tatum Enterprises in Eugene, Oregon and they installed computer equipment. 

Tatum shook his head.  There must be a mistake.  He had the picture of the cat treats named after him, and it was in a fancy package and everything.  Maybe Rudy would know more about this - he'd send her an email and ask her.  He composed and sent the email and settled down for a nap - it might be a while before she got back to him.

He was awakened by Ursula batting at him through the curtain.  He'd dozed off in the front window where he'd made a protected nest in the curtain on top of the oversized chair.  "Tatum - you've got an email from Rudy.  How come she never writes to me?" 

"Because you don't have an email account, silly.  Remember, you decided that you'd let me do the brain work since you're such a brainless little cat?"  Tatum was not at his best when he'd been rudely woken.  He stretched and ventured out to read the email. 

From: (address withheld)
Re: You've been had!

Dear Dunderhead - I can't believe you fell for that story!  There was never a cat treat company.  There's never going to be a cat treat company, especially one named after you.  It was all for a paper that Mommy had to write for school.  She had to do some sort of project plan about how she'd help a company expand their business and the yarn lady and Mommy came up with an idea for a cat treat company.  Those pictures?  I watched the yarn lady photoshop them.  They're not real.  You are such a sucker. 



Tatum was crushed.  How could his momey have lied to him?  He flopped down on the floor in abject misery.  No cat treats.  No profits.  No international fame.  Ursula came over and sat next to him.  Tentatively she started to groom his ears and when he didn't swat at her she worked her way down his back.  "You know, our momey never said anything about this company at all.  It was all Peep and Rudy's Mommy.  Ours didn't lie to us.  She'd never do that.  She loves us.  And who knows, maybe she does want to start a cat treat business.  When she moves to her new home I bet she starts trying out cat treat recipes instead of just baking those darn cookies every week. 

Tatum considered this.  Maybe Ursula was right.  Maybe Momey would make them some cat treats when she moved into her new home next week.  That might make up at least a little for this terrible disappointment.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rescuing the yarn lady from herself

Emma was concerned about the yarn lady.  She was a bit of a basket case lately.  Last week she'd been worried about something she'd written, and then was sad for days and days about mistakes she'd made and felt she could never fix.  She spent a lot of time thinking and writing when she was home and Emma had done what she could to make her feel better, mostly by just sitting next to her and purring a lot.

You see, cats who live with people are trained at a young age on how to figure out when their humans needed something extra from them and how to provide it.  Sometimes they just needed to be distracted, and that was the first thing Emma's cat mother had taught her.  Kittens are built for distraction, and Emma learned quickly how to use her kitten tricks to distract humans when life got a little overwhelming.  Then she was taught how to be comforting by snuggling and purring.  Her cat mother had explained that to Emma in great detail, particularly how to determine when comfort was needed.  She said that sometimes humans get sad, and the best thing to do was to sit on, preferably, or at least next to her human and purr a lot.  The hardest to learn was how to identify when humans themselves can't figure out what was wrong and to help them realize that first there was a problem, and then to help them identify and deal with it.  Emma had learned that when her humans couldn't settle to one task but wandered between several that there might be a problem.  When that happened, she'd watch and listen, and if the human made worried or funny faces or talked to itself then she needed to take action.  Experience had shown that the best thing to do was to get the human to stop jumping from one thing to another and instead pet her.  This might seem self-serving, but research has proven that petting a cat lowers a human's blood pressure and makes them think calmly about things. 

This afternoon had not been a day for distraction or comfort, but a day to use her best cat skills to get the yarn lady to settle down and think rationally.  It had been hard to do, as first the yarn lady had been inside, then outside, then inside again at the computer, then outside and finally she announced she was dizzy and needed to lie down.  Perfect, Emma had thought.  Now I've got her.  The yarn lady had picked up her IPad to read, but Emma wasn't going to let her do that.  She walked in between the IPad and the yarn lady's face and sat down.  The yarn lady kindly moved her on, so Emma walked around the back of the IPad, over the extra pillow and in front of the yarn lady's face again and sat, this time face to face.  She smiled her best cat smile and butted her head up against the yarn lady's forehead. 

"Well, I guess you're telling me that what I should be doing is paying attention to you and not this darned computer."  The yarn lady proceeded to scratch Emma's head, as Emma squirmed and demanded more attention.  Although to the untrained eye, it might have looked like Emma was just being a cute little kitty demanding attention, that was the farthest from the truth.  She was combining full body contact, purrs and judicious conversation (even if the yarn lady didn't really understand it).  The full-body contact provided much-needed physical contact with another that everyone needs, human or animal.  By making the yarn lady pet her and rubbing her head and sides against her she transmitted some of her own calm to the yarn lady.  The purrs slowed down the yarn lady's thoughts, and Emma constantly verbalized how much she loved the yarn lady and that she needed to slow down and just be for a while, rather than thinking so much. 

After a good half-hour of stroking and head-scratching the yarn lady felt better - calmer and able to get on with her day.  There were still things to do, and now she could do them.  She gave Emma one last head-scratch and thanked her.  "You were right, Emma.  Sometimes I just need to let myself feel and be, rather than trying to figure everything out." 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Too rainy for cats

It was a rainy morning, and Kid didn't like rainy mornings.  Kid liked sunny mornings, preferably warm ones.  As the free-spirited cat of the household, Kid spent much of her time outdoors, at least when the weather cooperated.  Her favorite thing was to hang out on the back deck, but that wasn't usually an option.  Buddy didn't much like her, at least when they were both outdoors.  He'd chase her any time he found her in the yard, so Kid only hung out on the deck when Buddy was asleep in the house.  Even then she kept one eye on the door to check if he was coming out, so that she could scoot out of the yard before he got to her. 

Kid wasn't sure why Buddy disliked her so, but it had been that way ever since he grew to be larger than she was.  When he was a tiny kitten she had taught him everything he knew - how to catch mice, how to do a careful grooming and how to get Val to give him lovies.  He'd looked up to her and absorbed everything she'd taught him.  He hadn't been an awfully quick learner, probably due to malnutrition when he was kitten.  He'd been so skinny and helpless when Val had found him living in the compost pile.  Well, he certainly wasn't skinny now.  In fact he'd porked out a bit over the past winter.  Now when he sat on the porch railing he slopped over the sides a little bit, not that Kid would be so unkind as to point that out. 

She shook her head.  There was nothing she could do about Buddy.  He was just who he was, and she needed to accept that.  Kid sighed as she looked out the sliding door at the rain on the deck.  It wouldn't be fun out there today.  Cold and wet yes, fun no.  She padded to the front door and checked out the weather there.  Maybe it would be clear in the front yard and she could go out there.  Nope, raining there too and just about as hard as it was out the back.  She noticed the yarn lady walking through the living room and she was holding her computer bag.  Good, she looked to be leaving.  Kid could get her to open the garage doors, and hopefully it wouldn't be raining in the driveway.  She really did want to go outside, but wanted to find the where it actually wasn't raining.  There had to be a dry place in the yard, right? 

The yarn lady was fiddling around with stuff on the dining room table, and so Kid waited patiently for her to get ready to leave.  When she opened the door into the garage, Kid scooted out and looked at her expectantly.  The yarn lady opened the garage door and Kid looked out with dismay.  Rain there too.  Not good.  She sighed and made a run for it.  Out the door, over the fence into the next yard and across to the open door of their shed.  It would be safe here from Buddy and dry.  Kid sat down and tucked her paws under her and settled in to watch the rain. 

Photo courtesy of Aapo Haapanen

Monday, May 16, 2011

Emma, the lion

This morning Emma was a lion, stalking zebras.  Some days she was a three-toed sloth, lazing on the yarn lady's bed, some days she was a snugglebunny, demanding attention from everyone, but right now she was a lion. She was on a long narrow rock outcropping, eying a herd of zebras (or was the plural zebra?)  She didn't know and decided she didn't care, as long as she could take one down to feed her pride.  

The rock outcropping had precarious footing, and she dug her claws into the spots where dirt had collected and small savannah plants had taken hold.  Her concentration was perfect as she eyed the herd.  Was there one zebra who was a little slower than the rest?  Perhaps a youngster who wasn't keeping an eye out for predators?  Maybe an elderly zebra who wouldn't be able to run as fast as the rest of the herd once they noticed her final charge?  

Ah, there was the one.  An old zebra whose stripes were beginning to fade.  He was a little slower than the rest, a little stiff in the hips.  She'd take him.  She carefully stalked along the outcropping, low to the ground.  She needed to get closer to the herd before she made her charge.  Big cats were faster on sprints, but she couldn't let the herd get too much of a head start, as they could outrun her on a long run.  As she pursued him, her tail began to whip from side to side.  The quarry was in sight, almost in range.  She hugged the outcropping as she flowed over the rocks with the grace that only cats command.  Almost close enough...almost...she vaulted down and began to cover ground, but something had alerted the zebras.  They were pulling away - too much of a head start.  She couldn't catch up to even the oldster.  She returned to the rocks, and lay with hooded eyes, awaiting her next quarry.

The yarn lady and Val had been sitting on the deck watching Emma for the past ten minutes or so.  They watched her concentration, focused on something not visible to them.  They saw her perched, monorail cat style, on the deck railing with one leg hanging down, claws dug into the wood of the rails.  As she began her stalk of whatever she could see that they couldn't, the yarn lady wondered aloud what Emma could see or was thinking.  When she sprang down, Val replied matter-of-factly, "She's a lion - probably stalking zebras."  

The yarn lady continued to watch Emma, and decided that Val was probably right. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Loaf cat

The Cat Club meeting was called to order promptly at 8:00 pm on Friday night.  Although Greymalkin had calmed down about running the Cat Club like it was a board of directors meetings, she still liked to maintain a certain standard.  There was lots of old business to attend to this week.  LT asked for a report on bear sightings, since all the cats were a bit alarmed by the idea of bears in the area.  Fuzzy said that he'd seen several bears and chased them all away, but no one really believed him, particularly since none of the other cats had seen any bears at all.  In fact, none had even seen any trace of bears.  No bear scat, tracks or even garbage pails knocked over.  Snoogums said that maybe the police had caught the bears and put them in jail.  Everyone laughed at the idea of bears in a jail cell. 

LT reviewed the procedures for bee patrol with the cats.  Last year after the Mommy was stung and got so sick bee patrols had been organized with the idea that the cats could alert the Daddy if there were any bee or wasp nests around.  They'd all found lots of stray bees and wasps, but no nests, at least none anywhere near the house.  Bunny had found a yellow jacket nest near her house and the four cats who lived there had alerted their Mommy, who'd had someone spray the nest.  They didn't want their Mommy to get stung either, even if she wasn't allergic to bees and wasps. 

Fox sightings were also discussed.  It was clear that Inariko was not a threat to anyone, but they still liked to keep track of her, since she was such a tricksy fox.  Fuzzy again reported that he'd chased her off a couple times, but again everyone ignored him, since Inariko had shown that she could run circles around Fuzzy, both literally and intellectually.  Mr. Snuggles said that he'd seen Inariko on the roof tree of their garage, and wondered how she'd gotten up there.  Since the cats were convinced that Inariko was a kitsune, or fox spirit, they concluded that she'd probably materialized up there just to give Mr. Snuggles a scare. 

For new business, Peep brought up her concerns about the loaf cat.  Although he'd been around for months now, no one had been able to get a word out of him, and he was looking kind of shopworn recently.  He was very skittish and wouldn't let anyone near him to help with grooming, and everyone knows that there are certain spots that you need another cat to help you reach.  She asked if there wasn't something they all could to to help him.

Rudy proposed that she could sing to him.  She said that her beautiful voice would relax him and then they could make friends.  The other cats had all heard Rudy sing, and knew that she was completely tone deaf.  What was beautiful to her was caterwauling even to other cats and not just to the humans.  LT thanked her, but said that her singing might relax him too much and make him vulnerable to predators.  LT knew how to handle Rudy's ego - if he'd said that she sang like the rejects from American Idol she'd make his life miserable.  By appealing to her kindness, she could appear magnanimous in caring that the loaf cat not get hurt.

Ladybug asked why they called him "Loaf Cat" anyways.  Yeah, he seemed to loaf around a lot, but not any more than the rest of them.  LT explained that the yarn lady had named him that because in the winter when he was crouching in the cold with his paws tucked under his body he looked like a loaf of bread.  Ladybug snickered, because she knew exactly what the yarn lady meant.  He did look like a loaf of bread, although a grey one with a head. 

After much discussion, it was agreed that they would all try to be quiet and welcoming to him and to offer to help groom his ears and neck - two notoriously hard to reach spots.  Peep thanked everyone for their agreeing to do this, as she'd come to feel very sorry for the loaf cat.  He just looked so lost and sad, and Peep had a soft heart and didn't like anyone to be sad if she could do anything about it.

The Cat Club meeting adjourned soon after, with the cats heading quickly home.  Bears may not have been seen in the last week or so, but that didn't mean there wasn't one around.

Photo courtesy of Mollye Knox -

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kitten naming poll, a la Rudy

 Rudy wrote this yesterday and tried to post it, but Blogger was down until just a little while ago.  She gave up after a couple hours and asked me to post this when the site came back up, so here it is. 
Rudy here.  The yarn lady sent me an email this morning asking me to cover for her today, as she needs to spend the day at the new craft shop.  She's really excited about it.  It seems that she's been going somewhere that she throws pots for years and years, and the place was closing, since Fort Monmouth is shutting down this summer.  They've found a new home for the shop in Deal.  I'm glad that she throws her pots there and not at my house, as someone could really get hurt if she throws something like a stewpot or a cast-iron skillet.  I wonder if she throws them at anyone in particular, or if it's kind of like a golf driving range, and you just throw the pots and then pick them up and throw them again.  Daft, but she seems to like it a lot.  

Well, there's not much going on here.  The Daddy is having allergies, and so he's been a bit punky.  His head is stuffy, and he sneezes sometimes, which is fine as long as he doesn't do it near me.  Sneezes startle me so and disturb my beauty rest, not that I really need it.  LT is really enjoying the fine spring weather.  He likes to spend time outside, and it's a lot easier on his old bones when it's warm out.  He's taken to sleeping on a very large pile of pine needles in the back yard.  They smell nice, but I'd think they'd be a bit pokey on the skin.  He's hollowed out a spot in the very top of the pile where he can watch the Daddy and see if anyone is coming into the back yard.  He says it would be nicer if the pile were in the front yard so he could see who is coming in the driveway, but since the Daddy raked up all those needles, LT  doesn't want to seem ungrateful.  Personally I think the Daddy wouldn't want the pile in the front yard, because he raked the needles so that the yard would look nice.  He probably would have done away with the pile altogether if LT hadn't decided it was a good place to sleep.  Daddy is absolutely daft when it comes to LT.  You'd think he was his real father the way he pampers that cat.  

Peep is just Peep.  She's been keeping an eye out for the frog in the lily pond, as she says she'd like to have a game of frog hockey.  He hasn't surfaced yet this year, as far as I can tell.  Maybe he died this winter, buried in the mud.  I'd like that, as his incessant croaking keeps me awake during crucial nap times.  

Fuzzy is looking particularly disreputable these days.  If he were a dog, I'd say he had mange, but I don't think cats get mange.  He'd be a lot healthier and better looking if he'd only let the Mommy or Daddy groom him and take him to the vet.  It would also help if he'd stay out of fights, but he's just a belligerent cat who revels in disagreement.  The loaf cat is still keeping to himself.  I don't know if anyone had heard a word out of him since he arrived here this winter.  The Daddy is an old softie and makes sure he had water and food.  The yarn lady was considering adopting him when he first arrived, but since no one can get near him, she's given up on that idea.  She says she's going to get two kittens soon.  If she can get a boy and a girl she's going to name them Mack and Hannah, after her great-aunt's dogs.  I liked it better when she was going to call the girl Clem, which is short for Clementine.  I've always thought that was a particularly beautiful name.  Maybe she'll reconsider.  The boy cat was going to be named Ezekiel, but she thought it would be too long a name, especially for a tiny little kitten.  

Well, that's all for today.  Personally I hope the yarn lady asks me to fill in for her more often.  It gives me something to do that's a bit out of the ordinary.  And if you want to weigh in what you think the yarn lady should name her kitties, put a comment on the blog.  If you get this by email just click the link at the bottom of the message and it'll take you to today's blog and you can leave a comment.  

ttfn, Rudy-Toot-the-beautiful

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wishing on a star, continued....

It was the middle of the night, and Miss Rudy wasn't sure what had woken her from a delightful dream about a large piece of fresh halibut.  The filet (a full four inches thick) had just dropped out of the sky and landed in front of her, and Rudy was not happy to be missing out on it, even if it was a dream.

"Ahem".  Rudy jumped at least six inches and whirled in mid-air to confront whomever had disturbed her.  Every inch of her long fur was standing on end and she hissed and spit at the intruder...for about half a second.

A six-inch fairy stood in front of her, or at least what she assumed to be a fairy.  It had those gossamery type wings that fairies in pictures have, but it also had a two day growth of beard and a cigar hanging from its mouth.  And instead of a gauzy gown (which wouldn't have been at all appropriate) it was wearing a trench coat, baggy grey pants and pointy-toed boots, kind of a cross between a Humphrey Bogart and Columbo fairy. 

Rudy landed with a thump and started laughing.  "Oh boy.  Those last two cat treats must be giving me indigestion nightmares.  This cannot be happening."

"What's wrong? You never seen a fairy before?"  The voice matched the fairy's appearance, gravelly and with a distinct Brooklyn accent.  When Rudy just continued to laugh, the fairy reached over and plucked out one of her whiskers.

"Hey, what was that for?  That hurt!"  Rudy scrubbed her face with a paw, trying to ease the pain. 

"I'm on a tight schedule, cat." As he said this, a chime sounded from his pocket.  He reached in and pulled out the smallest smartphone that Rudy had ever seen.  He consulted it and said, "Oh boy, I think there's not a cloud anywhere in the northern hemisphere tonight.  I HATE wishing star duty.  Okay - now what's your wish?  I don't promise anything, but we can at least negotiate."

Rudy eyed the grungy fairy and considered what she should say.  If this was a dream, she could wish for anything, get it, enjoy the dream.  What would be fun.... "Okay.  I want to be Queen of the World." 

"Try again, sweets.  You can't change the past, you can't do anything that would upset the world economy and I can't break the law of conservation of matter.  That last means, no matter how much you want to lose weight, I can't do it."  The fairy positively leered at her as he said the last. 

"Excuse me, but the last thing I want to do is lose weight.  I am a perfectly proportioned cat.  I'm not fat.  I'm fluffy."  Rudy struck a regal pose - one worthy of a cat that could be Queen of the World. 

"Fine, have it your way, toots.  That's what all the dames want.  Make me skinny.  Give me a little nose.  Give me big, well, you get the idea. So whatdja want?"  The fairy made a point of consulting his phone to check the time. 

What to wish for?  Rudy quickly considered and rejected half a dozen ideas.  Then she came upon one that might just work.  The only problem was that she wouldn't know right away if her wish had been granted.  Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  She leaned through the cloud of smoke and spoke softly into the fairy's ear.

"Okay, I think I can do that.  VoilĂ !"  With that the fairy waved his hands in an intricate pattern, said something in...fairy...and promptly disappeared. 

Rudy looked at the foul smelling cloud and decided that she really had eaten too many cat treats and that this was the strangest dream she'd ever had.  She curled up and covered her eyes with her tail, blocking out any further visions of ugly fairies.  Boy, she'd have a story to tell Peep in the morning, provided she remembered the dream when she woke up for real.

Drawing courtesy of Mike Ceres - all rights reserved. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wishing on a star

Miss Rudy was outside looking wistfully at the sky, wishing that her life could be different.  Here she was, living in a beautiful home with two congenial cat companions and a loving Daddy who gave her cat treats and brushed her glorious fur every day.  There was a cat door she could use to get in or out if no one was around, and she'd trained her humans well about opening the back door for her.  Nice cat beds, plenty of food - what more could she possibly want?

Rudy thought about her dreams for her life.  When she was a tiny kitten she thought she'd grow up to be the world's best mouser.  No other cat would catch more mice.  Then when she was adopted by the Mommy and went to live at the barn with Grey, she had dreams of being a companion to a champion rodeo horse.  Well, Grey was retired, and although he liked to talk about his glory days, they were long past.  And even that came to an end when he stepped on her.  She thought she was a goner, but it had turned out to be a blessing, because she then came to live with Peep and LT and didn't have to live outside anymore.

She'd never had the opportunity to be a mother.  A visit to Tibet had taken care of that.  She didn't think she would have really wanted to be bothered with litter after litter of kittens, but it might have been nice to have one or two offspring, particularly if they had her beautiful coat.  They would also be company for her in her old age. 

She'd never had a great love.  Oh, there had been cats who had admired her sumptuous coat and striking coloration, but there was no real chemistry between her and any of them.  For a long time she thought that was because of that little procedure done in Tibet, but she had seen how much LT had loved Ginger, and he'd been to Tibet for a similar procedure, so it couldn't be that. 

Rudy thought of her other dreams.  She'd have liked to compete on a best pets competition like the ones they had for chefs and clothing designers.  She could stay at the studio or assigned apartment and be taken care of in the manner she deserved.  She would show the world how beautiful she was, and how she could pose for a photographer for cat food ads, or as a lovely accent in a photo of really classy furniture. But there was no "Top Cat" competition, just a stupid old cartoon about some cats with no fashion sense.

She wasn't a homebody like Peep, who had happily tried to take over the housekeeping the first summer that the Mommy had gone to NASA.  She was a pampered kitty rather than one who did the pampering.  She also wasn't a snuggly kitty like Val's cat Emma.  Emma was an undercover cat who wanted nothing more than to have a body next to or under her.  Rudy preferred her freedom - she liked to lie on the little table in the kitchen where she could see anyone moving around anywhere in the house.  People were welcome to pet her as they walked by, but that was enough for her.

It finally was dark enough for the first stars to appear.  But what to wish for?  Something more, something different, but what? 

"Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight...."

Photo courtesy of Sean McGee Hicks -

Monday, May 9, 2011

The yarn lady's music

Emma liked it when the yarn lady played her CDs.  She had all sorts of interesting songs that she liked to listen to.  It wasn't much fun when Val was asleep and the yarn lady used the headphones, though.  Her voice was okay, but she sure wasn't going to get a recording contract.

Much of the time she drowsed while listening but some songs woke her up and almost made her want to dance.  She liked those songs the best, ones like "If I Had $1000000".  When the yarn lady listened to that one she she'd bop around in her chair and do funny things with her hands, like flicking all her fingers out to the sides.  As far as Emma could tell that meant she was happy.  She didn't understand though why the guys who sang the song would want a monkey, llama or emu when you could have cats. 

Songs like "Hobo's Lullaby" made her sad.  That guy's voice was kind of quavery, which was sad in itself and it was about some poor guy who didn't have to anywhere to live and people picked on him.  The guitar music was really pretty though.  The song made her wonder what it would be like if she was a stray cat, without somone to feed her and a warm bed to sleep on.  She was really glad she had Val to take care of her (and the yarn lady for providing such a very comfy feather blanket). 

Her favorite song (and probably the yarn lady's too, since she played it so much) was "Swimming to the Other Side".  She didn't like the idea of swimming, but after she'd heard the song a couple times she realized it had nothing to do with water, so that was okay.  It was all about people helping and caring about each other.  That's what life is all about, as far as Emma could figure, especially for people.  Val and the yarn lady helped each other all the time and were really good friends.  She really liked the line, "Loving spirits will live forever, we're all swimming to the other side."  She knew that the spirit of her cat mommy was still with her, even though she hadn't seen her for years.  Sometimes she missed her a lot, but Emma knew that her mommy loved her wherever she was, even if she'd gone to sleep with the Great Cat. 

As the music played, Emma's eyes became heavy, and she finally drifted off to sleep listening to Holly Near sing "Quite Early Morning". 

Photo courtesy of Ewen Roberts -

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day, from the Peep

Today was Mother's Day and Peep had no idea what to do about it.  Well, obviously she couldn't do anything for her cat mommy, because she hadn't seen her since she was a tiny kitten, but what about the Mommy?  Shouldn't she do something for her?  She loved Peep and when she came home on weekends she made sure there were cat treats and sometimes fed Peep yummy things when she cooked.  Especially bacon.  Peep loved bacon. 

But what can a kitty do for a human?  They were still closed out of the Daddy's PayPal account, so she couldn't order flowers.  Mommy wouldn't appreciate a mouse, and in fact *hated* mice, dead or alive.  Peep's housekeeping skills were laughable, as she'd proved the first summer that the Mommy was away.  The only thing she could do well was to use her body as a duster, and Daddy had already swept the floors.

Peep decided to consult Rudy and LT.  Maybe they'd have some ideas.  Rudy was sunning herself in the yard, artfully arranged so that anyone coming in the driveway would see her.  "What's up Peep?  You look worried." 

"Well, Rudy, it's Mother's Day and I think we really should do something for the Mommy.  You know, show her how much we care about her."  Peep sat down in front of Rudy, figuring to share the sun with her. 

"Peep, you've been watching too many television commercials.  We're cats, not people.  Holidays were established to get people to buy things that neither the giver nor recipient need, like stupid greeting cards.  No one needs greeting cards.  If you want to tell someone something, you just do it in your own words, not with a stupid piece of paper that never says exactly what you are feeling anyway."  Having said that, Rudy gave a giant "Hummph" and turned around so that her back was to Peep.

Feeling chastised, Peep slunk off.  It wasn't true - holidays were times for people to spend time together, time they took away from work and chores and solitary activities.  Just because they cared.  Well, yeah, there were lots of companies that decided that they'd play on the humans' guilt about not being good enough to each other, or not showing they cared enough and sold stuff like cards and flowers and candy, but that wasn't why holidays existed, and there should be lots of things she could do to show the Mommy how much she loved her. 

Lets see, thought Peep.  I could...snuggle down next to her when she's sleeping and purr nicely to help her sleep better.  I could also not wake her up early tomorrow morning, no matter how hungry I am.  I could just be around her whenever she's sitting around today, jump in her lap and give her kisses and purr a lot.  Well, those were nice, but they just didn't say, "I love you the best, Mommy."  Maybe that was why humans bought presents for each other.  They didn't think that just being nice was enough. 

Peep wandered around the house and yard, thinking hard to herself.  LT was nowhere in sight, so she couldn't ask him.  As she walked by a dandelion going to seed, Peep sneezed.  Darn flowers, she thought.  Pretty, but the seeds give me allergies.  She sat down and rubbed her nose with a front paw and looked at the dandelion seeds she'd disturbed with her sneezes.  Maybe dandelions are weeds, Peep thought, but they're still pretty, and there are lots of other wildflowers growing around the yard. 

Over the next half hour or so, Peep criss-crossed the yard examining and eventually picking flowers.  She knew they'd wilt fairly quickly unless they were put in water, so she planned her strategy carefully.  The Mommy was home, and had just woken up, so if she gathered the flowers now and brought them inside, the Mommy would see them and know that Peep loved her.  Especially since Peep intended to sit by the flowers and sing once she'd gathered them.  Singing always got the attention of the humans, even if they didn't understand the words as she sung them.

Dandelion, check.  Violets, check.  Stitchwort, check.  Cinquefoil, check.  Wild strawberry flower, check.  Gill-over-the-ground, check.  Okay, thought Peep, that's a good collection.  Now to move them into the house.  She picked up the first in her mouth and approached the cat door.  How to get it in without smooshing the flower...ah, got it.  She put the flower down right outside the flap, pushed it partway open with her head, grabbed the flower and slowly opened the flap with the top of her head, keeping the flower low.  This is going to take forever, thought Peep.

Well, maybe not forever, but it did take her about five minutes to bring each flower inside and arrange them artistically on the coffee table.  Daddy was sitting at the kitchen table and watched her go back and forth with the flowers.  He poked his head around the door as she sat arranging them, quickly pulling back as Peep turned towards him. 

Jay tiptoed into the bedroom, where Mary Rose was getting dressed.  "Don't look yet, but I think the Peep is preparing a Mothers Day surprise for you." 

Mary Rose poked her head out of the neckhole of her shirt.  "What?  Please, tell me it's not another mouse!" 

From the living room Peep began to sing -

"M - is for the many things she gave me,
 O - means only that she's growing old.
 T - is for the tears she shed to save me,
 H - is for her heart of purest gold.
 E - is for her eyes with love light shining,
 R - means right and right she'll always be."

Of course, Mary Rose and Jay only heard what Rudy characterized as Peep's caterwauling.  Jay said, "I think she wants you to come see her surprise, and no, it's not a mouse." 

Mary Rose walked into the living room and saw Peep next to a small pile of flowering weeds.  Some had broken stems, where Peep had held them in her mouth.  A few were starting to close already, even though they were picked only a few minutes ago.  But all Mary Rose saw was the Peep and the lovely flowers that she'd picked, and she knew that she was loved.  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dealing with the black bear threat

LT called the meeting to order and skipped the whole format of role call, approval of business, review of old business and whatever else and launched straight into the topic of the bear.  After doing some additional reading on bears, he and Rudy had decided that the bear was potentially dangerous to them and their humans and LT was worried.  The Daddy sometimes had to go out to work late at night, and that was when the bear sightings were most common. 

"The first order of business tonight is the bear sighting next door at Fuzzy's house."  No sooner had he said this when a panic broke out among the cats who hadn't already known about the bear.  Bunny screamed, Greymalkin cowered, Mr. Snuggles began bragging about how he'd taken down a black bear when he was but a wee kitten and Snoogums and Ladybug just sat there with a stunned look on their faces.  "Quiet, people, quiet," said LT in his most commanding voice.

"No need to insult us, old man," Snoogums replied.  "We're much more civilized than people."

"Well, then act like it,"  said LT.  "We need to decide on a course of action.  Rudy checked the news services, and there have been nine black bear sightings in Jackson in the past few weeks, and they're pretty sure it was more than one bear, so even if the one we saw was just passing through, it's quite likely we'll see more of them.  They're usually seen at night, and like to eat garbage.  Now, I'll open the floor to suggestions on how to protect ourselves and our humans."  LT sat down and prepared to listen to a lot of twaddle. 

"That's an easy one.  Avoid being outside at night and if you must, don't go outside by yourself if you can help it.  Keep an eye on the yard if your humans are outside and if you see the bear start meowing as loud as you can."  Greymalkin was a voice of reason, much to LT's surprise.  He'd expected most of the other cats to propose harebrained schemes. 

"Naah - we need to make a bear trap."  This was from Mr. Snuggles.  "Dig a pit, cover it with pine branches, put some rancid meat in the bottom.  Trap the bear.  Call 911 and have them come pick it up.  That's the ticket folks!  We can catch this bear." 

Ah, thought LT.  Harebrained schemes like that.  He shook his head kept listening. 

Bunny and Ladybug said that after they went home tonight, they wouldn't leave the house after dark without an escort of at least three strong male cats. 

Snoogums said, "I like Greymalkin's idea."  Peep and Rudy agreed with Greymalkin, and Fuzzy said that he'd sit out this discussion, as his family was of the opinion that the bear or bears had moved on. 

LT pointed out to Mr. Snuggles that 1) there was no way they could dig a hole large enough that a 7-foot bear could fit into and 2) the bear would just climb out again anyway.  Bears, he said, are very good at climbing.  He recommended that they follow Greymalkin's advice.  Everyone agreed, although Mr. Snuggles did so reluctantly. 

No one was comfortable with the idea of a long meeting, since it was starting to get dark, and LT adjourned the meeting quickly.  Arrangements were made for Fuzzy and LT to escort Greymalkin home, and Bunny and Ladybug were convinced that their two male companions would be sufficient escort, particularly since it was barely dark yet. 

As they all prepared to leave, Rudy jumped up, having had a good idea.  "If anyone sees the bear, please send me an email.  I'll check my account every morning, and forward any messages on to the rest of you.  That way we can track any sightings, and decide if it would be safer not to meet next week."

After LT returned from escorting Greymalkin home, Peep asked him, "LT - I thought the bear was kind of well, friendly.  Why are you so worried?"

LT's reply was, "Peep, this bear said he was just passing through, but there have been sightings day after day, and it really looks like there is more than one bear, anyway.  Just because that bear was friendly, it doesn't mean they all will be."  With that, LT resumed his lookout post, watching for the Daddy to come home.  He didn't want anything bad to happen to the Daddy. 

Image courtesy of Dan Dzurisin -

Friday, May 6, 2011

Undercover kitty

Emma was on a mission.  She was an undercover kitty working for an unnamed governmental entity (well, although she wasn't allowed to say it, it really did have a name).  Her mission - investigate the yarn lady.  It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it. 

She had been approached in early April by a spook (aka black cat) who she'd never seen before.  It was a nice day, and she'd been sitting by the back door when she saw the cat on the deck beckoning to her.  Being a basically timid and somewhat small cat, she didn't immediately ask to go outside.  She just watched the cat for a while through half-closed eyes, as though she was mostly asleep and didn't realize that the other cat was trying to get her attention.  Then Buddy came inside and told her in no uncertain terms that she needed to go outside and talk to the cat - he was an official of the US government, and if she didn't want to get them all in trouble she needed to talk to him.  She waffled a bit more and then asked Val to let her out. 

Once outside, the spook cat gestured for her to come over to the far end of the deck against the house where they couldn't be observed unless someone actually came onto the deck.  He introduced himself as Ludlum, and explained that the government had some concerns about someone who was living in the house, a woman known only as the "Yarn Lady".  He said that she was a friend of someone very high up in the government, and there had been chatter about her, indicating that she was living far beyond her means.  She had been overheard talking about her houses in Beachwood, Freehold Boro and Howell, in addition to the house she was currently living in.  The government was concerned that perhaps this "Yarn Lady" was on the take, and might compromise the US government through her contact with her friend. 

Ludlum went on to explain that she, Emma, had been tapped to surveil this woman, as she was an intelligent cat who appeared to be somewhat helpless and eminently pettable.  Emma just looked at him - what was this guy about?  She was helpless!  She was a smallish cat living with two larger cats and two maniac dogs who would chase her every time they saw her.  If this "Yarn Lady" was some sort of foreign operative, she could be cat meat if she was caught spying on her!

There must have been some clue to what she was thinking on Emma's face, because Ludlum went on to explain that the woman was completely harmless, at least as far as they could tell.  The concern was that if she was in the pay of some foreign power that she might be trying to get information from her friend to pass on to some hostile country. 

"How do I know you work for the government?  I'm not straight off a turnip boat, you know."  Emma was getting suspicious - maybe Buddy was playing some elaborate hoax on her.  Just because she looked innocent didn't mean she was.

The black cat raised his right front paw, and Emma saw something she'd only seen on television.  It was a very carefully rendered tattoo of the a secret government organization, right on the center pad of his paw.  Well, cats didn't get something like that for a joke - he must be for real.  "Okay, so what do you want me to do?"

"Just get close to her - spend time with her.  Be around when she makes phone calls.  Listen to when she talks to the lady who owns the house and find out where she's going.  That's all."

Emma considered this request.  "Well, you know she's not here much these days.  She's staying at that house down in Beachwood, and only comes here sometimes."

"We know that, but we've also heard that it's only for a few weeks, and that she'll be back.  Just see what you can do, Emma.  I'll be around.  I've concealed a small marked branch in the leaf pile by the back door.  If you have any information for me, just pull the branch out and put it on top."  He showed her the branch, and obtained her agreement. 

Emma hadn't spent much time with the yarn lady since she'd moved in last fall.  She was a naturally reserved cat, and since Buddy liked to sleep on her feet at night, Emma was reluctant to go into the room, fearing that Buddy would chase her out.  Hmmm - maybe this was a way to get Buddy off her back.  If the US government wanted her to do this, he'd have to leave her alone - and the yarn lady did have a very cozy feather duvet. 

So, when the yarn lady moved back from Beachwood, there was Emma on her bed, right next to Buddy.  As the yarn lady unpacked her clothes, Emma meowed at her, and wandered over, asking for a head-scratch.  The yarn lady was delighted.  "Emma, Emma, Emma.  You've finally decided that I'm good people!  It took you long enough."

This was the start of  a very pleasant relationship for Emma.  It turned out that the yarn lady had never had an undercover kitty before (in more ways than one).  Emma loved to sleep under the duvet, snuggled up to the yarn lady, and the yarn lady loved it too.  Emma spent much of her waking hours (and most of her sleeping ones) on the yarn lady's bed, apparently just hanging out and asking for loves.  But really she was listening. 

And what did she hear?  The yarn lady talking on the phone to her daughter, her friends, and occasionally some sort of business calls, but they were about things like why hadn't the beaded curtain she ordered arrived yet.  Boring.  But very, very comfortable.  And when she talked to Val, they just talked about what was going on in their lives.  They laughed a lot and just had fun. 

Emma never felt the need to put out the stick for Ludlum.  She had nothing to tell him.  So, one day earlier this week she saw him at the sliding door - beckoning for her to come outside.  Since it was warm, the door was open and Emma just walked outside. 

"Nothing to report, Ludlum.  She doesn't seem to talk to anyone but people who live around here.  Oh, and I found out that the house in Beachwood is owned by friends of hers who were away in Florida.  She was just house-sitting for them.  The Adelphia house is where she used to live and the  Freehold one is her friend's house.  They all joke about how they have several homes because they spend so much time at each others' houses.  That's it.  I really don't think she's any sort of spy."  Emma had become quite fond of the yarn lady, and wanted to make sure she didn't get in trouble. 

"Hmmm - well that's good.  We wouldn't want our person to be compromised by some domestic spy.  I still want you to keep an eye on her though.  Her friend is in a very sensitive position, and we need to protect our own."  Ludlum reached behind himself and pulled over a small paper bag.  "Even though you haven't provided any crucial intelligence, we like to pay our undercover operatives.  I hope you like this."  Ludlum turned and slinked off of the deck, hugging the house until he came to the gate, which he scaled in a single jump to the top and then disappeared onto the driveway on the other side. 

Emma pawed at the bag.  Hmmm, what was in here?  She opened it and found a cat-sized portion of very fresh tuna.  Not the kind that comes in cans, but rather the kind that comes straight off the fish.  She carefully removed the wrapper and quickly ate it, before Buddy or Kid noticed.  They'd probably fight her for it, and it was hers. 

Maybe being an undercover kitty wasn't a bad thing after all.  A comfy feather duvet to sleep on, a nice lady to scratch her head and make her caves under the covers, and best of all - being rewarded with fresh tuna for doing basically nothing.  She'd keep this up as long as they wanted her to.


Thursday, May 5, 2011


LT came streaking through the cat door like a bat out of hell.  He was out of breath and his eyes were wide and scared.  "Bear!  I saw a bear!  It's in the yard next door.  A bear, not a teddy bear, not a koala bear.  A real live big-assed bear!"

Peep looked up from where she was sleeping on the Daddy's chest.  "Hunh?  What's this about a bear?"  She stretched, causing her tail to tickle the Daddy's nose.  

"There's a bear in Fuzzy's yard.  I just saw it over there when I was checking out a rabbit nest.  He's going through the garbage cans.  You've got to come see this.  Where's Rudy?"  LT was still out of breath.  He wasn't as young as he used to be, and was not used to such a long run.  

"She's sound asleep, and when I woke her before by accident she swatted at me.  Let's just leave her here."  Peep jumped down and finished her stretch.  "Just give me a minute to finish waking up."

Waiting wasn't one of the things that LT was good at.  He paced and circled, and finally nudged at Peep when it appeared she might fall asleep again in the middle of a slow stretch. "Okay, okay, I'm coming."  She stood up and the two went out through the cat door. 

"So, bears.  I know absolutely nothing about bears.  Are they bigger than dogs?  Are they friendly?  Will he share his food with me if he finds anything good?"  Since Peep was a lot younger than LT, she could run and talk at the same time.  

LT stopped short and put one paw to his lips, indicating that Peep should be quiet.  He said to her in a low voice, "Bears are dangerous, Peep.  They have paws that are bigger than your whole body, and claws that could split you in two halves."

That caused Peep to sit down right where she was with a thud.  Wide eyed she asked, "Then why the heck are we going over to see it?  I don't want to be a kitty filet.  I have dreams left to dream and worlds left to conquer!"  

"We're not going to go up and introduce ourselves.  I just want you to see him.  We'll sneak up on the edge of Fuzzy's yard to where we can see him.  Come on, let's go."  With that, LT slunk off through the underbrush, belly low to the ground.  Peep followed reluctantly.  

They heard the bear before they saw him, and smelled him almost as soon, and boy did he smell bad.  They heard metal garbage cans banging against each other as the bear pawed through one he'd knocked over, sending it rolling into the next one.  LT was right.  The bear did have a big...posterior.  At the moment, that was all they could see of him.  

"The only good thing about him stinking so bad is that I'm sure he won't be able to smell us."  LT said this in a low voice.  

The bear's head came up out of the garbage can.  "I'll have you know that I have an excellent sense of smell, and even better hearing.  And I don't appreciate you're insulting me.  It's not me that smells, it's this garbage.  I don't know what he's got in here, but it's been dead for a looong time."  The bear turned in their direction.  "I don't think we've been introduced.  My name is Timothy. Who might you two be?"

Peep stood there frozen.  This bear weighed about 100 times more than she did, and could probably either squish her or close his jaws around her body, either of which would have spelled the end of Peep.  LT saw that it was up to him to try to mollify the bear.  "Ah, hello.  I am LT, short for Lucky Tiger, and this is the Peep.  We live next door, and having never seen a bear in person we wanted to, um, make your acquaintance.  Welcome to the neighborhood." 

"How nice, a polite cat.  Well, LT, it's nice to meet you.  Few folks actually want to meet me, much less welcome me to their neighborhood."  The bear grabbed something from the can and began to eat it noisily.  "I bet if you were honest, you'd say that given the choice you'd have spied on me and left quietly without ever saying anything.  Don't worry, I don't take offense over things like that.  It's part and parcel of being a large and dangerous animal."  

Her voice squeaking, Peep replied, "Well, Timothy, sir, we are a bit scared of you, but that's just because you're so big and well, scary.  Will you please promise not to eat us?"

"Oh, sorry.  Of course.  Not eating you.  I have no intention of hurting you, much less eating you.  I don't much like the taste of cat.  I'm more of a scavenger, really.  And I'm just passing through.  My territory is south of here - I was just visiting some friends over yonder, and detoured when I smelled these yummy trash cans."  The bear put his head in the can and emerged with some wrapped food.  "Ah, I love it when they gift wrap my dinner.  NOT!"  He tore the paper off with his teeth and ate the contents.  "Ahhh - overripe chicken, my favorite."

They chatted for a few more minutes and finally Timothy the bear said his good-byes and ambled off though the yard.  When Peep finally stopped shaking enough to walk, she and LT headed home.  

When they came through the cat door, the Daddy was still lying on the couch.  Peep jumped up on his chest and began to tell him of their adventure.  LT added comments, although he was pretty sure the Daddy wouldn't understand.  Humans rarely understood cat.  Jay looked down at the Peep, who was talking a mile a minute.  "And Daddy, he was so big and smelly - it wasn't the garbage it was him, I know it.  I wasn't even scared.  I walked up to that bear and told him that we didn't need any bears in our neighborhood, and to stay away from our trash cans.  You better stay clear of him, Daddy - he's BIG!"  

Jay (aka the Daddy) scratched Peep's head and listened attentively.  Peep thought - maybe, just maybe this once we'll get through to him.  He sat up, putting Peep on the coffee table and said, "Okay guys,  I hear you, I hear you.  I'll get the treats.  You don't have to ask so many times."

Peep sighed.  Well, hopefully the bear would head on home, and she wouldn't have to worry about the Daddy encountering him.