28 July, 2010

The kittens react to the Good News.

Last night I told the kittens that every one of them has a home lined up.

Astute was so overcome with excitement, he could barely contain himself:
Astute, a small grey and white tabby kitten, lolls in his bed while eyeing the photographer with a certain amount of kittenly skepticism.  I assure you that he was, however, purring.

Intrepid, true to his thoughtful nature, had to have a ponder:
Intrepid, a long-haired tabby and white kitten with a cute white nose and gorgeous almond-shaped eyes, looks very thinky.

Badger was concerned: Would there be noms at his new home? I assured him that there would be.
Badger, a mostly tabby long-haired kitten with the world's most adorable white toes on his front feet, huddles over the food dish and looks concerned.

With the big news out of the way, I sat down in the floor with the boys. Astute wanted to know how I was taking the news that they’d all soon be departing:
Astute, sitting on the photographer's abdomen, leans up towards her face with an air of deep concern.  It is, in fact, possible that he is concern trolling your humble narrator.  Cats are natural concern trolls.

Badger just hoped I wasn’t going to be wearing plaid pajama pants when meeting other people, and also wondered why Astute was in his spot:
Badger lays across the photographer's shins, which are clad in plaid pajama pants that are predominantly pale blue but include white and black stripes.  He obviously disapproves of the pants.  Astute's butt is visible at the bottom of the frame, and this also apparently concerns Badger no end.

Intrepid wanted to reassure me that even though he plans on adoring his new family, I will always be his first human and he will remember me for at least 24 hours or until the first time they throw a jingle ball for him, whichever comes first:
Intrepid and your humble narrator exchange a tender nose kiss.

26 July, 2010

Weekend round-up, torturing the kittens, great joy!

1) Went down to visit C at Blackthorn Kennel on Sunday, leaving all of my hooligans at home. Sometimes, even in the best relationships, you need a break from each other. I got grievously and relentlessly snuggled, and had a good time in the pool. Also, C mentioned that she would like to get some pics of the 6 week old N litter stacked, which takes two people. Not being a dog show person, I did my best to help. Apparently that isn’t how one does it, so I tried again, with more success.

2) Work has no internet access today, so I’m working from home. Also, I have moved the kittens and their paraphenalia out of the bathroom and into Beowulf’s ginormous crate to traumatizefurther socialize them. I’ll move them back into the bathroom later, meanwhile they’re playing with Q-tips and being DogTV. Zille has already been reprimanded for frustration barking because she can’t lick them, which hurt her tender feelings. Now Tink is trying to lick them through the bars of the crate.

Astute and Badger still need homes! Badger is actively snuggling of his own free will now, and is also the one least traumatized by the dogs, actually. As long as he has a Q-tip to play with, anyway.

3) OMG! Daniel’s visa interview has been scheduled for August 12th! Things are moving, I will probably wind up married mid-Octoberish! ZOMG.

3 July, 2010

I am in England

I am writing this on Wednesday night. By the time you read it, I will be in England with my fiance. So here’s a picture of Roo in his England footsoccerball shirt that says “JUST ROO IT”. If you are confused as to why people are making personalized footsoccerball World Cup shirts for my cat, googling “Wayne Rooney” may prove instructive. I don’t know why a footsoccerball player in England named himself after my cat, but there you go.

Rooney Lee, an orange and white Cornish Rex cat with very short, very soft wavy hair, the picture taken from above and behind him.  He is looking over his shoulder toward the camera, wearing a white t-shirt on which is emblazoned the red Cross of St George that is the flag of England.  In three of the four quadrants thus produced are one word each, which read JUST ROO IT.  The word England is written in white on the red horizontal bar of the cross.  The fourth quadrant has the FIFA logo but no one cares about that.

I have other posts queued up, never fear! But while you’re reading them, I’ll be off having adventures.

9 June, 2010

What a way to make a living…

So normally, my schedule goes something like this:
0415 Alarm goes off. So does Roo. Get up, turn alarm off. Look in vain for button to mute Roo.
0500 Roo still whining for breakfast. Get tired of it, stop catching up on the internet and feed people.
0510 Shower, get dressed, get ready for work.
0540 Try to leave for work, discover Emmaline and Noodlehead would like breakfast.
0545 Actually leave for work.
0640 Stop at McDonald’s for oatmeal
0645 Arrive at work.
[Insert Work Here]
1500ish Depart work
1600ish Arrive at home, Roo begins whining for dinner.
1700 Tire of listening to Roo whine, feed people. Check porch for outdoor cats wanting dinner.
1715 Dogs announce loudly that outdoor cats are on porch. Interrupt evening activity to feed them.
2000 Go to bed

Except today and tomorrow, I have meetings 0900 to 1700. Ouch. I can’t expect to be home til 1800, which means not feeding people until 0600. I tried setting my alarm for 0515, thinking I could get extra sleep but…not so much. Zille went off at 0330, Roo went off at 0415 as usual, I gave up and got out of bed and got to listen to nearly TWO HOURS of Roo whining for his breakfast because I didn’t want them going more than 12 hours without food (I fed them dinner late last night).

So if I drop off the internet for the next couple of days, well, it’s because work has no problem resetting my schedule, but as far as I can tell no one has invented a reset button for Roo. I don’t know what was up with Zillekins, she swore there was a horrible monster in the back yard that needed barking at, and I can’t sleep through barking so I let them out to go run whatever it was off. I’ve seen a fox (or maybe a coyote) checking out the back of the fence line previously, but knowing dogs it may have been an early-rising butterfly. Needless to say, I am not going to be at my best and brightest today at the office.

29 May, 2010

Video killed the radio star.

For your enjoyment: two videos, one of Breakfast At The Manor, starring Rooney Lee; and one of me attempting to leave the house with Beowulf en route to his vet appointment, starring the vocal stylings of Zille.

Breakfast At The Manor:

Transcript:
Video opens with a shot of a smallish orange and white Cornish Rex cat, the inimitable Rooney Lee, standing in the kitchen floor staring at the camera.
Roo: FEED ME. FEED ME NOW.
Tink, wandering briefly into frame: Is something interesting happening?
Me (off-camera as always): Let’s go get your bowl!
Roo: NO.
Camera turns as I turn to go down the hall to Roo’s room and get his bowl. We get a glimpse of the confused head of Braxton Bragg. Roo continues to issue demands.
Me: C’mon.
Roo: JUST FEED ME.
Me, turning the camera back so we can see Roo as he decides to follow me: C’mon, we gotta get your bowl!
Roo: Oh, fine. Let’s get my bowl.
Zille: I know where his bowl is! It’s right here!
Roo: My bowl’s right here! GET MY BOWL. PICK IT UP! Now go this way!
(Bowl is picked up and I turn to exit Roo’s room, showing girldogs in hallway)
Girldogs: Can we have food, too?
(I walk to kitchen, where Roo is waiting on the counter)
Roo: FEED ME NOW.
(I set the bowl on the counter, Roo checks it out)
Roo: THIS BOWL IS EMPTY GODDAMIT.
Me: It’s your bowl!
Roo: I know! BUT IT IS EMPTY. I love it anyway.
Me: Yeah.
Roo: Mine.
Me: It’s yours.
(Roo paces back and forth on the narrow strip of counter in front of the sink as I get his food from the fridge)
Roo: HURRY UP WITH THAT I AM STARVING. STARVING! MAKE WITH THE FOOD FOR THE LOVE OF CAT!
Me: Gross food. Setting camera down a sec.
Roo: Will this make you go faster with the food?
(The camera is placed on the counter so we get an excellent view of the side of the refrigerator and Roo’s bowl. Also, Roo’s feet as he continues to monitor the feeding process. Off-camera, some rustling of plastic as I open the ziploc bag holding Roo’s food.)
Roo: Hurry! Oh, I love my food. HURRY WITH THE FOOD.
(The camera is picked up again so that it gets a clear view of Roo’s breakfast being dumped into his bowl, and Roo beginning to chow down. Everyone loves a happy ending!)

Zille Has Hysterics:

The video opens with a shot of the stove and a corner of my counters. It is quite dark, because it is 0545 and I have turned the lights out preparatory to leaving the house with Beowulf for his vet appointment.
Me: The Why Don’t I
Zille: I WANNA GO TOOOO
Me: Get to Go
Zille: I WANNA GOOOO
Me: Hysterics
Zille: I WANNA GO WIIIIIITH
Me: By Zille
(The camera turns to glance at dog crates, then proceeds toward the side door)
Zille: NO ONE LOVES ME I WANT TO GO WIIIIITH YOOOOOUUU. I AM UNLOVED AND ABUSED. THIS CAUSES ME GREAT PAIN, BECAUSE I LOVE YOU SO, AND IF ANY DOG DESERVES TO HAVE ADVENTURES IT IS ME, FOR I AM A GOOD DOG.
(Camera turns back to see Tink standing behind me)
Roo, heard in the distant background: LET ME OUT OF MY ROOM I NEED MORE FOOD.
Tink: Don’t leave me alone with these noisy bastards.
Me: She’s very noisy, huh, Tink?
Tink: If she doesn’t shut up, I’ll smother her.
Zille: GET ME OUT OF THIS CRATE AND TAKE ME TOO OH MY GOD MY LIFE IS A HORROR.

I should note for the record that Zille shows no signs of actual separation anxiety. She only throws these loud and dramatic fits if another dog is going somewhere and she is not. Oh and also she occasionally does it when I get home from work, but only before I have opened the door to the house. She does not, however, panic and try to escape her crate, show signs of anxiety when crated, or otherwise show distress. She just REALLY wants to be the dog who goes along, if any dog is going to go anywhere at all.

24 May, 2010

My mother is out to get me.

Seriously, y’all, she is. I don’t know how else you explain what happened this morning. See, Mom visits once a month, and being the Best Mother Ever she usually even vacuums for me, because she knows how much I hate to vacuum. Sweeping I am on board with, not so much the vacuuming. Anyway, Mom has previously raved about how easy the vacuuming is on my laminate floors. Why, she says, you just set the vacuum down and watch the dirt run to it, practically. Easy-peasy. So easy, the dogs could learn to do it (although they never have, the bastards).

Anyhow this morning I went into Aida & Braxton’s room to feed them and noticed a thick layer of cat litter on the floor, doubtless deposited because Braxton is a digger. The electrolux vacuum cleaner was right there, so I thought “I will take my mother’s advice and just suck it up real quick, for she is the Best Mother Ever and would not lead me astray!”

Clearly I was momentarily forgetting her weird obsession with plucking my eyebrows, which indicates that even though she is the Best Mother Ever, she thinks it is hilarious to make me scream. I chalk this up to revenge for all those interrupted nights of sleep when I was an infant, and possibly the time I told my preschool class how babies were made after she expressly told me not to share that information. In my defense, it was exactly the sort of thing I thought my friends would find fascinating.

But I digress. I grabbed the vacuum, plugged it in, turned it on, and drove it expertly into the first pile of cat litter, which is when I discovered that MY MOTHER LIED TO ME. The vacuum cleaner does not magically suck up the cat litter. It grabs it with its brush and flings it behind it in a hail of tiny, excruciatingly painful projectiles that if they do not hit your feet embed themselves in the wall. My anguished screams, unfortunately unwitnessed by my mother (who would probably have enjoyed them), scared all the cats and dogs into hiding despite the excitement of breakfast time.

Next time, I’m walking the extra 30 feet to get the broom.

14 May, 2010

12 May, 2010

I told you that story to tell you this one, or: my Dad was Indiana Jones.

Back in the 1960s, when the country was busy undergoing rapid social change, my Dad was busy in the summers helping to pay for his undergraduate education by wandering the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico, collecting bats. Not the wooden kind made for striking balls of various varieties, but the mammalian kind, destined for some biology collection at Texas A&M. The stories of his adventures made fantastical bedtime distraction for me when I was a small girl. Parents are often sort of boring to their children, who picture them as never having had any life but the one the children see before them. These stories opened up a whole strange new world, in which my dependable and predictable father had exciting adventures, a world in which I was not even a vague consideration. They were suggestive of the fact that my Dad had a whole life going on before he married my Mom and became my Dad, and that it was a fascinating one.

In these stories, he roamed the jungles with his trusty guide Antonio, collecting bats, getting into scrapes, escaping by cunning and cleverness. He was not my English Professor father, wearing his navy blazer and khaki pants and conservative ties[1], he was Indiana Jones, out for bats instead of artifacts. He collected the bats mostly by shooting them, and he shot bats in culverts under roads, he shot bats in a church, he descended into the mysterious depths of Cueva Leon and didn’t shoot any bats there but nearly suffocated. Cueva Leon, with its hilarious prologue in which he hires two more guides to get there and then the suspenseful midsection, featuring near-suffocation, and finally the climactic ending in which he discovers the secret of Cueva Leon and also escapes alive, was one of my favorites. I asked him to tell it so many times that he finally typed it up for me and told me to read it myself, which I did. In fact, I got my Mom to have it laminated so I could have it forever and ever and read it over and over and over again.[2]

I told you that story so I could tell you this one:

Recently, my Dad sent me a file, written by a gentleman who had been on the bat-collecting expeditions. First this was startling because there was never a mention of anyone but Antonio in Dad’s stories, it was always the two of them adventuring through the steamy jungles, shooting at bats. It had not previously occurred to me that this was a whole party of adventurers shooting at bats; in fact when my Dad referred to the author as his colleague, I thought he was speaking figuratively. And then I got into the part about shooting bats in a church, and thought “Hey, this sounds familiar!” and then there was a whole new story, about being mistaken for missionaries, and finally the gentleman named the members of the party and there was my Dad’s name.

After a second read-through and a little correspondence with Dad, it got even more hilarious. His colleague describes the bat-collecting expedition in the church thusly:
“…three obviously demented giant gringos, one a Viking Amazon with a dirty handkerchief balanced on her head, bare arms, pants, and military-looking boots–garb unlike anything ever seen before on a woman in this untouristed remote region; one a tall skinny guy even taller than the woman and wearing a counterfeit pith helmet and the darkest of dark glasses in this very dark church; a young matinee-idol-like man/boy dressed like Beetle Bailey; and a crazed Mexican, as Maya-faced as the shawled women, but shouting in an alien tongue and wearing shells in bandoliers crossed on his chest like Pancho Villa.”

As it turns out, my Dad was the “young matinee-idol-like man/boy dressed like Beetle Bailey.” Antonio, of course, was the crazed Mexican, and the other two were the author and his wife.

My Dad, the matinee idol. Dad was skeptical of the accuracy of the description, so I asked for photographic corroboration. A couple days ago an envelope arrived, with an old picture scanned and printed onto the page, labeled “Working on a bat. Taken by Antonio. At a small village in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, summer 1962.” Dad’s head is bent over a bat on his leg, a bat which cannot in fact be seen. All you can see is a thick head of short hair (which was long gone by the time he became my Dad), a bit of face viewed from above, and the cigarette that dangles from his lips. On the other hand, you get a sterling look at his clothing, and he is most definitely dressed like Beetle Bailey, only I don’t think Beetle wears a watch.

It’s funny how our parents unfold like origami and become real people as we get older. Children cherish predictability in their parents, but as an adult I find that I cherish the vision of my matinee-idol-like man/boy father, dressed like a dork and wearing combat boots one size too big. Next time I see him, I think I’ll even ask for some more bat stories.

[1] AS HE GOT OLDER, THE TIES GOT LESS CONSERVATIVE. THERE IS PROBABLY SOME KIND OF LESSON IN THIS.

[2] THE OTHER THING HE WROTE FOR ME WHICH I ASKED MOM TO LAMINATE WAS AN EPIC POEM ENTITLED “HOW I GOT RAGS” WHICH DETAILED THE ADVENT OF HIS CAT. IT WAS WRITTEN IN IAMBIC PENTAMETER AND RHYMING COUPLETS, ALL HOMERIC AND STUFF. I WAS NOT BEING FACETIOUS WHEN I CALLED IT “AN EPIC POEM.”

6 March, 2010

This is how my mornings go…

The scene: Manor house, 0245 on 3 March. All is calm, all is dark. I am asleep in the bedroom with Tink and the Feline Horde, who are also asleep.

Me: Zzzzzz.
Braxton: Zzzzzz.
Roo: *snrk* Zzzzzz *snrk* Zzzzzz (he was laying on his head funny)
Aida: I am too evil to snore. In fact, I am too evil to sleep.
Tink: ZZZZZZZzzZZZZzZZZzZZZ (she even sleeps dramatically)
Beowulf: DEFCON ONE DEFCON ONE ALIENS ARE AT THE DOOR ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT DEFCON ONE NOW SET GENERAL QUARTERS ALL HANDS MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS TRAVEL FORWARD AND UP TO STARBOARD DOWN AND AFT TO PORT GENERAL QUARTERS!!!!!!
Zille: MY GOD BEOWULF SAYS THIS IS REALLY SERIOUS AND THERE’S ALIENS OUT THERE HOLY SHIT EVERYBODY GET UP I DON’T KNOW WHERE MY GENERAL QUARTERS STATION IS ALIENS DID I MENTION ALIENS?
Tink: SOLIDARITE! UP, UP! ARISE MY MINIONS SOMETHING HORRIBLE IS HAPPENING OH GOD THE OTHER DOGS ARE BARKING AND I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT WE’RE BARKING AT!
Braxton: OMG NOISE AIE! *launches off my stomach*
Me: Zzz–OW HEY WTF NOISE?
Aida: I’m going to kill you all if you don’t shut up. I can kill you with my brain.
Roo: *snrk* Zzzzzzz *snrk* Zzzzzzz *snrk* Zzzzzzzz
Chorus of Dogs (with full orchestration): WILL YOU JOIN IN OUR CRUSADE WHO WILL BE STRONG AND STAND WITH US? BEYOND THE MANOR’S WALLS THERE IS A TRUCK AND WE’RE NON-PLUSSED!
Me: *staggers to living room window*
Me: Guys. That is a TOW TRUCK. No, I don’t know what it’s doing there but odds are quite good that you do not need to be barking at it like fools.
Chorus of Dogs (where did they find an orchestra at this hour?): DO YOU HEAR THE DOGGIES BARK? SOUNDING A VERY LOUD ALARM! WE ARE BRAVE AND LOYAL DOGGIES WHO SHALL SAVE YOU FROM ALL HARM!
Me: No, seriously, you don’t need to save me from the tow truck. It’s not even pointed at our *house*.
Tow Truck: *drives away*
Chorus of Dogs: SECURE FROM GENERAL QUARTERS. SEND THE ORCHESTRA HOME.
Chorus of Dogs: *collapses in various places as if unplugged and is asleep in mere moments*
Me: *staggers back to bed*
Roo: *snrk* zzzzz *snrk* zzzzzz *snrk* zzzzz–hey wha?
Me: How did you sleep through everything except me coming back to bed?
Roo: Shhh. Sneepin. *snrk* zzzzzz *snrk* zzzzzz

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