Posts Tagged With: Cat



Life hasn’t been that joyful in our house lately.  I have become the queen of making ragged ends meet, and am trying to buck myself up in the wake of a job search that just seems to stretch forever with no relief.  I fight with myself daily to get myself to write anything.  I’m telling you this because I’d like to talk about the kitten, and I think that’s key to understanding my obsession for this little bit of black and orange fluff.  And it’s definitely an obsession.

Her name is JennyAnydots, (I say like the song), but I have a penchant for yelling “FLOOF!” at her that Brian has started to imitate.   If I catch Dots unexpectedly, she’ll actually respond to that.  And then immediately pretend that she didn’t, of course.  She is The Night, and she responds to nothing.

She follows me around the house so much that I’ve taken to calling her my familiar.

Dots is not only extraordinarily destructive, she’s the joy of my life.  Brian and I were pondering this last night.  I mean, she really is a terror, to the point that you would think she would be unlovable.  She’s mean to the other cats.  She sharpens her claws on the rugs, the new dining room chairs, even the mattress sometimes.  She has been known to climb curtains.  She broke the ancestral depression glass, and the glass pot lid to my only stew-pot. She eats the sponges and gets into the trash. I was woken up at 3 am the other day by a bite to the big toe (which is why she’s not allowed into the bedroom at night anymore).  I was attacked repeatedly this morning from under the new dust ruffle.  She is nearly always in motion.

“What happened to all our glass measuring cups?” Brian asked me the other day.

“What do you mean?” I said, pointing to the two in the cabinet.  “They’re right there.”

“Yes, but didn’t we have, like, a ton of them?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said.  “But we don’t anymore because Dots.”

I’ve lost a few glass bread pans, too.  She’s her own force of nature, and SO BAD.

The truth is that none of the above bothers me a whit.  The more she gets into and breaks, the more I laugh and the more I love that kitten.  She’s so darn happy in her destruction.  She purrs when ripping things to shreds.  She snuffles around in the kitchen, and if I jump at her she will disappear, fluffy black tail trailing behind, into one of the cabinets, peeking her nose out at intervals.  She runs at break-neck speed toward loud noises so as not to miss anything. You can tell when she climbs the curtains that she’s awfully proud of how high she managed to get.  She cuddles so sweetly, if you can manage to convince her to settle down.  The hours she spends scrabbling in the bathtub after the chain on the rubber plug are the joy of my morning.  Who needs pot lids and measuring cups, anyway?  All I need is that deep-throated purr when I rub her chin, or for her to bury her way under the covers so she can sleep next to me.

Sometimes I worry about what this will mean for my future parenting skills.  Sometimes, I worry what this means now for my sanity.  Until I met Dots, I was not the indulgent type.  But even if I didn’t witness the purfull strewing about of trash, or the munching of the sponge, or the shredding of the stash of paper towels, I don’t mind picking up after it.  I’ll even encourage it.

Here is the conclusion I came to the other night: Someone in this house should practice unbridled joy.  Neither Brian nor I are managing it lately, but that kitten sure does.  On my crankiest days, she reminds me that there is a state of mind where silliness is all that matters.  That is well worth worrying about the state of the rug, cleaning up her trash stash, and stretching the budget to afford the small fortune in sponges she eats.  It’s worth sweeping up another pile of glass from the kitchen floor.  Heck, it’s even worth bites to the toes at 3 am.

The other two cats will live on in our hearts as the cuddly lumps they are, but Dots will go down, well loved, in infamy.

FLOOF! (I think it’s a new rallying cry).

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

A Weekly Round Up


This week there is a tropical storm somewhere, so we have been getting spurts of torrential downpour and some epic thunder all weekend.  The wind blew down the grape vine trellis, and the cats went a little crazy.  Brian and I sat in front of the window and watched the water stream from the pergola in the back yard, puddling in the dirt and weeds.

The cherry tomatoes have gone a bit wild.  I was able to actually use some of them to cook with. (!!!)  I had heard that the Juliet variety of grape tomatoes was not considered one of the better tasting types, so I was a bit apprehensive.  But these are excellent, tangy bites of sunshine.  I would plant them again in a heartbeat.  I’m going to claim it’s the compost. The Marriage Perfect Flames are turning orange-ish too now.

I am ¾ packed for Maine.  Terribly early, I know, but I won’t have another weekend to do all the laundry.  I will only have Friday night.  It seems strange to go back again so soon after my last trip.  Strange but wonderful.  I haven’t had the chance to long for gray beaches and blue skies; for lighthouses and that sweet, wild smell of reedy grass that meets me as I walk the dirt roads, the salty wind that whips my cheeks red.  I’m not feeling empty without it all, I’m just feeling VERY glad to see everyone.  And excited for lobster and Queen Anne’s Lace, of course.

We took the cone off the kitten yesterday.  Her first act was to try and eat it in retaliation.  Then she spent the next four hours cleaning herself.

The last thing that happened was Brian and I celebrating our 12 year anniversary.  We got rained out of the plans I made (outdoor amphitheater?  Not so much), but Plan B was to go see Guys and Dolls at the Fox theater in Riverside.  They played slap-stick Buster Keaton movies before the show instead of ads, had a fancy picture booth with Sinatra, and made the experience altogether perfect.  Bonus points for the contingent of the audience dressed in ‘50s garb.  I think Plan B might have turned out better than Plan A would have, even if it hadn’t rained.

I am also attempting to pick vacation reads and maybe a new crochet project.  Any recommendations?

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The Spaying of Jennyanydots


We got the kitten spayed this weekend.  The Humane Society could not pronounce “Jennyanydots,” so all her paperwork just said “Jenny” on it and it made me a bit sad.  She’s Miss Dots to us when I’m not calling her “floof!”  Although I don’t care a whole lot.  It just made me feel like it was less homey than I would have liked.  We dropped her off in the morning and then picked her up in the evening. Her recovery has been simultaneously hilarious and tragic all at the same time.

“She’s still under the influence,” said the gal who handed us her cat carrier. “So don’t let her drive home.  Put the lampshade on right away, and you can remove the black bandage from her leg in an hour.”

“I wish someone had told us that she wasn’t allowed to drive before she got her last DUI,” I said to Brian later in the car. He laughed.

Boy, was the gal at the vet’s office right.  Dots could not walk in a straight line to save her life. She kept flicking her foot backwards to get the bandage off, and she HATED the cone.  It turns out that a high kitten attempting to get out of a cone is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen.  She decided that if she walked backwards, she could probably walk out of it.  So she was staggering around the room backwards, bumping into all sorts of things, rolling her head around and generally being floppy.  But she was doing the whole thing with this nonchalant look of boredom on her face, her pupils wide.

She finally gave up and slept on the stairs, only waking up intermittently to kick at the cone with her back feet.  The next morning, she kept misjudging distances and space, and ended up falling off the window ledge, the couch, the counter, and the dining room chairs.  She has now mostly adjusted, but she is constantly itching her ear and hitting plastic instead, or trying to clean herself by laying the cone against her leg and licking it.  She keeps this resigned look on her face as if it was a horrible trial she was just going to have to submit to.  It breaks my heart.

I had heard that spaying cats made them much more friendly, but I wasn’t prepared for quite this friendly from Dots.  She wants to constantly be on my lap these days, and she’ll even cuddle up to Brian.  One of my favorite things about my floof is that she was sometimes such a feisty little shit; just like all women should be.  She’s been so docile the last couple of days.  I’m hoping it’s just because the cone has quenched her spirit, and when it’s gone in a week she’ll be back to normal again.

“I hope she’s not,” Brian said when I told him.  “I like this Dots much better.”

We’ll see…  I mean, I could do with a little less mayhem.  But I’m loathe to dispense with the mayhem altogether.  It keeps life interesting.

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I found a kitten last weekend.  It was the night of Kristen’s wedding (who is a good friend from college), and no one had been designated to bring the presents home.  Half of us were bushed, having stayed up until 3am decorating the hall the night before.  I was the half that did not decorate, and was (mostly) awake.  So Aseneth and I drove the presents to Kristen’s and had the neighbor let us in to put them carefully on her living room carpet in all their silvery glory.  Then we all three stood in the driveway and talked.  Then I took Aseneth home.  Then I drove home myself.  By the time I stood on my front porch with the key in my hand, trying to get the thing into the lock, I was pretty bushed myself.  It was after midnight.

And then there was this noise.  High pitched, and repeating.  It took me a second to realize that the noise was coming from a cat, and that the sound was shrill and frightened.  I wondered how Amy or Annie had gotten out – we’re usually so careful – and stepped up to the bushes to grab the problem child.  No cream and brown cats presented themselves.  Instead, there was a little black lump of fur tucked behind the umbrella plant.  I bent down and she came to me.  Her face was spotted cream and orange.  Not a calico, but as if a black tabby had been rubbed off in spots to reveal the marmalade underneath.  Her eyes were orange.

There wasn’t anything else to do.  I picked her up and brought her inside.  She weighed almost nothing, and she snuggled to my chest and began to purr.  She wasn’t crying anymore.

I closed the door with a clatter behind me, one arm still cradling the kitten.

“Is that you?” Brian called from upstairs, his voice thick with sleep.

“Yes, there’s a kitten on our doorstep,” I said.

“A kitten?”


But he didn’t get up.  He probably fell back to sleep, and I wondered if he would even remember that I had found a kitten the next morning.  So there I was, alone with a furball and no idea what to do with it.  Brian is the cat person.  Heck, Brian is the reasonable person.

She had stopped meowing by now.  What does one do with a kitten found at midnight on the porch?  Amy and Annie were already tucked in their room upstairs for the night so we didn’t have to worry about them.  I sat on the kitchen floor and let the bit of fluff prance around with her tail in the air while eyeing the top of the cabinets.  I took my shoes off.  I petted her.  I asked her what she would like me to do with her.  She didn’t answer, but instead tried to jump onto the top of the cabinets and failed.

Eventually I decided on the downstairs bathroom.  I could put some towels in there and if she peed all over the place we could clean it up pretty easily.  The only litterbox was in the room the other cats were inhabiting.

I left her in the kitchen when I went upstairs to grab some towels.  I could hear her crying again, so I hurried back.  She had wedged herself, cowering, into the crook underneath the cabinets.  I was gone about 10 seconds.

“What are you doing?” I asked her.  “You’re fine, silly.”

She stopped crying pranced right out to me again, tail waving.

I put the towels, some water, and the cat into the bathroom.  She curled right up on the blue towel in a tiny black and orange lump.  She purred, and her head began to nod.  I closed the door when she fell asleep and then went to bed myself.  I worried about her all night long, in a strange house after a traumatic night in the bushes.

Brian and I went to the store Saturday morning and bought a second litterbox and some kitten food.  We fed her, watched her play with the Christmas bows I dug out of the wrapping paper box, and laughed at her gumby, falling over ways.  I have known many kittens and there is always something a little sadistic about them, but there is nothing like that about this gal.  She mostly just wants cuddles.  She bit my shirt yesterday, contemplatively, and then looked up at me with those big orange eyes.

We named her Jennyanydots, for her spotted coat and her gumbyness.  But also because she stretches her little legs out behind her like a dancer sometimes for no rhyme or reason.  Whether we claim T.S. Elliot or Cats the musical, it all works.  I did not have a hard time imagining her tap dancing with the cockroaches once we all go to bed.  I’m head over heels for her.

The only catch is the other cats.  They were here first.  If they don’t get along, then Miss Anydots will be seeking a home.  We plan to introduce them all tonight and I am crossing my fingers that it goes well.  I think giving her up might break my heart.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

The Mechanicals

Neil had just dumped the garbage into the dumpster behind Budgen’s Grocery when he noticed the sign, flapping white in the darkness.  It was out of place, and it almost seemed to glow as its corners fluttered.  The acrid stench of rotting garbage rose as he flipped the black plastic sack into the pile of other sacks.  He brushed his hands off on his pants and raked his fingers through his wild hair.

It had not been a good day.  Neil spent most of it trying to clean up a pile of peaches that someone had knocked from their bin and then trod over, making the linoleum floor juicy and sticky.  He wiped up juice with a dingy rag that had once been white and meditated on sticky.  His whole life was sticky.  He thought when his mother passed that he might be able to leave Cromer.  The final, thin rejection letter from University of West London this afternoon confirmed that he wouldn’t. Eight colleges and no one wanted him.

The white sign stood out brightly.  It was taped to the roof and it was made of butcher paper. Someone had written on it in black ink: Cornelius Cumberpatch, This Is Your Destiny.  A bolt of icy anger shot through his body, and years of taunting echoed through his head: “The Patch,” “Cornypatch,” “Horny Corny.”  He clenched his fists, digging his fingernails into his palms.  The asshole that thought this was funny would pay.

Neil charged into the brick grocery and up the stairs.  He climbed out the window of the break room and pulled himself onto the sloped tiles of the roof.   A moist ocean breeze blew the strings of his green apron behind him.  The sign flapped up over the edge of the ridge, curling.  Neil crawled over to it and ripped it towards him.  Triangles of white paper still clung to the tape on the shingled roof.

He laid the sign out on the gravely tiles.  It now read: Penny For Your Thoughts?  Place Penny Here, Place Hand Here.  There were arrows, and two circles.  One was the size of a penny, and the other was just big enough for Neil’s hand.  Neil blinked.  He could have sworn the sign had his name on it only a moment ago.

The break room window was still open, blinds tapping against the frame.  He expected to see his coworkers clustered, laughing at the look on his face as he took in their elaborate practical joke.  There was no one there.  There wasn’t even a plausible place for a hidden camera.

His eyes narrowed, and he looked at the paper again.  The letters shimmered.  Neil thought, why not play along?  He reached into the pocket of his blue jeans and pulled out a small, copper penny.  He looked at the letters again, considering.  He placed the penny in the small circle.  Nothing seemed to change.  He shrugged to himself, raked his hands through his hair, and placed his hand in the large circle.  The letters glimmered a coppery orange.

Around him, the world shifted to swirling gray fog, moving across his bare arms and drenching his clothes.  He was cold, and he could see nothing in front of him but the swirling mist and the droplets collecting on his body as he stood on – something.

The gray began to clear, and Neil realized that what he stood on was silver.  He was in the middle of a vast city of gleaming, copper towers.  Domed spires reached through the gray.  He was on top of a silver fire escape, looking down into a lustrous alley.  A copper cat with riveted joints cleaned its paws with its shiny tongue below him.  It ticked.

Neil looked around.  The paper had disappeared.

There was a silver ladder to his left.  Neil climbed down the slick, cold rungs.  As soon as he took a step onto the street the cat jumped.  It ran off down the alley, its paws pinging on the metal surface.  Neil followed it.

The cramped alley spilled onto a broad avenue.  Hundreds of copper people strode along the street.  Their joints were also riveted, with shiny silver balls in their shoulders and knees.  They wore elaborate dresses, or suits with top hats, all made of metal mesh.  It was like the pictures of Victorian Cromer had come to life and then warped to become all wrong.  The sound of a thousand watches ticking filled the air.

The middle of the street was crowded with moving vehicles.  They were all a combination of gears, rivets, wood, and pipes spewing gray mist into the sky.  They rushed back and forth.  Some sprouted wire wings that unfolded like accordions and rose up between the spires.  Neil felt something hard rub against his leg.  It was the cat.

“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” he told it. It opened its mouth and let out a mechanical whirr.

Categories: Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter to a Cat

Dear Puss,

No.  You may not sit on my lap.  Do you not see that my lap is already occupied by my large, silver laptop?  Do you not realize, as your padded feet slip and slide over the glossy pages of the books piled on the couch, that I do not have time for you right now?  You strain against my hand as I push you away, but you can’t win.  I am bigger than you are.  I am stronger than you are. I have homework.  Mountains of it.  I don’t have time for your tan speckled rump.

Do you remember? We had a moment last night where we both put everything aside and loved each other.  I stroked between your dark ears and felt your throaty purr reverberate through my chest.  You closed your eyes and your tale twitched with contentment.  You disliked it when I fell to temptation and stroked your one black foot, but you forgave me.  You fell asleep in my arms.

You will have to content yourself with that moment of yesterday.  All the moments I have today are spoken for.  They will be filled with footnotes and words.  I’ll write until my brain is empty, typing on the cold keys. I’ll flip through pages looking for a juicy quote to fill my paper.  I’ll agonize over the fact that I’m not following the established guidelines of three quotes per page.  I have two quotes on one page and four on the other.  Is that enough to satisfy?  Should I add another quote to the offending page? I won’t be waylaid by your smooth fur or your brilliant blue eyes.  I won’t let the fact that you are purring as I push you away soften my heart.  You should know this already.  It’s not like you don’t have experience with this sort of thing.

If you could only be more like your twin sister.  She’s content to sit near my head on the back of the couch.  The lighter lumps of her elbows poke upward.  She sits, and she is content.  She doesn’t need incessant petting.  She doesn’t demand attention.  Being near is enough for her.  You would do well to study and imitate that air of careless company, the way she is present but ignorable.  This is what I need from you right now.

Instead, we fight this battle.  Your padded paws slip and slide over the pages of my books.  I push you away and you look up at me with those sad sapphire eyes, straining to continue, to get to my lap and fall across the keys of my computer.  I place both hands around your middle and plop you to the floor.  You try again, hoping that this time I won’t notice the way you interrupt everything and make it impossible for me to work.

I notice.

No.  You may not sit on my lap.  Today is not your day.  I might have time for you tomorrow.



Categories: Fiction, Life | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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