Just Like Audrey, Almost

Those who’ll play with cats must expect to be scratched.

~ Miguel de Cervantes

Some consequences you can predict. Some you can’t predict. Some you should predict but don’t.

It’s the last of the three that’ll get you.

I had just read a brief bio in my memoir class and turned to leave the lectern, when something in my left hip went pop. Not an audible pop, but a pop nonetheless. I limped back to my chair.

With David (poor thing) half carrying me, I staggered across the parking lot, groaning every time my left foot touched the ground. At home, neighbors had the pleasure of hearing me ascend the steps and walk to the door. Yelp, yelp, yelp.

Getting into and out of the car was worse. I couldn’t climb in as usual.

Get into a car like Audrey Hepburn does, my mother said. Sit sideways, then swing both legs in. The Emily post method.

Phooey on Audrey and Emily.

Until hip day. That’s when I learned Audrey had an advantage. She had leather seats she could slide on. I have fabric that grabs your breeches and holds on. Entering and exiting, I didn’t yelp. I shrieked.

The pain wasn’t exactly excruciating, I guess, but it was close.

At home I fell into a chair, texted my massage therapist, whom I hadn’t seen in over a year, and begged for an appointment. That’s how panicky I was. I hate texting.

Anyway, the next day, David hauled me (shriek) to her office. She mashed my spine back into place, then laid her hands lightly around me just below the waist, and said, “How do you sit when you use your laptop? Is it right in front of you?”

And I said, “Noooooooooooooo.” And thought, Well, d’oh.

This is the way I sit when I use my laptop:

“Uh-huh,” she said, “I can tell you’ve been sitting crooked.”

So what’s  girl to do?

A girl’s going to do whatever it takes to stop the pain.

But the guilt was excruciating. Ernest has only recently learned to liiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee downnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, sometimes without being begged, or even ordered, as if it’s his own idea.

He’s the only cat I’ve ever had who followed instructions. Or, more likely, said to himself, She’s been a good and faithful servant. If this is so important to her, I’ll cooperate. I taught him to sit that way. It prevented him from laying his head on the keyboard and typing. (Once he sent an email.) I didn’t realize my hip would suffer.

And he’s a Velcro cat. He can’t help that I have to move the laptop waaaaay over to the left and stretch sideways to reach the keyboard. He needs almost constant physical contact. Denying him my lap could crush his spirit. He’s sensitive.

But for the most part, he’s done well. I gave the I-wuv-oo-oodles-but-we-can’t-go-on-sitting-like-this speech, and he gave up and moved down to lean on my leg.

Mostly. We’ve had wrestling matches. Occasionally I catch him sitting in a straight-backed chair across the room, his lips set in a grim line, staring at me. But over all, we sit in peaceful companionship.

I saw the massage therapist a second time.

My hip has improved.

And the best news is that, with practice, I’ve learned to get into a car like Audrey Hepburn.

*

Audrey’s legs aren’t visible in this clip, but you can get the drift. She does the swing-around about 1:35. That might not be leather upholstery, but she’s had more practice than I have.

This Emptor Should Have Caveated

 

Nov. 26: Ordered quilt online; multi-cat design; not  quilt in picture, and not cat either

Nov. 27: Received email confirmation; processing time 5-7 days; everything handmade and impeccably “sawn”; hoped quilt would be more impeccable than proofreading

Dec. 1, 4, 7, and 8: Received emails re more quilts available for order

Dec. 10: Received email re quilt finished, ready to ship, tracking number to follow

Dec. 10: Received email re discounts on six other quilts

Dec. 11: Received email re same discount on same six quilts

Dec. 12 – Jan. 17: Received no emails at all

Jan. 17: Emailed company re Where is my quilt/Did I miss an email with tracking number?; very polite

Jan. 18: Received email re Quilt is ready and on the way.

Jan. 24: Received quilt

Jan. 25: Put queen quilt on queen bed; quilt barely covered top of queen mattress; I kid you not

Jan 25: Measured queen quilt

Jan. 25: Pulled up company website to check dimensions of ordered queen quilt; website down until all quilts ordered before Christmas have been shipped

Jan. 26 – present: Considering options:

  • Email company re Did I receive double or twin quilt in error? and if so, I’ll send quilt back in exchange for queen quilt
  • Email company re I will send quilt back and await refund (and hope refund arrives before end of 2019)
  • Email company re I will send quilt back in exchange for king quilt (since queen might not be large enough either) and will send more  money as soon as I receive king quilt
  • Email company after website is back up and I know exact dimensions of queen quilt I ordered and have better idea of what more action to take
  • Email now re usual 30-day limit on returns
  • Email company re what I’m really thinking
  • Email re I’ll volunteer to help package and ship quilts ordered before Christmas (possibly necessitating a trip to China, where I suspect they’re made)
  • Rive my hair and wail like a banshee
  • Put quilt on dowel and hang on wall

It’s a silly quilt, cute in a kind of ugly way, but I finally decided I might as well adopt the title of Cat Lady and stick images of cats all over the house. And I thought Cat Gentleman would like cat quilt, since he adopted his title years ago. Quilt was supposed to be a Christmas present.

I ordered late and thus knew Santa Claus might not bring quilt on the First Day of Christmas, but I assumed the Magi would deliver it by Epiphany at the latest. Now I hope to get this thing straightened out before Pentecost.

Worst case scenario, the correct quilt will arrive in time for Advent. And I’ll give it to Cat Gentleman for Christmas.

 

Mark Twain’s Mother: What We Have in Common–They Followed Us Home

 

Some people scorn a cat and think it not an essential;
but the Clemens tribe are not of these.

~ quoted in “UC’s Bancroft Library celebrating Mark Twain,” San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 2, 2008

*

That sort of interference in behalf of abused animals was a common thing with her [Twain’s mother] all her life; and her manner must have been without offense and her good intent transparent, for she always carried her point and also won the courtesy and often the friendly applause of the adversary. All the race of dumb animals had a friend in her. By some subtle sign the homeless, hunted, bedraggled and disreputable cat recognized her at a glance as the born refuge and champion of his sort–and followed her home. His instinct was right, he was as welcome as the prodigal son. We had nineteen cats at one time, in 1845. And there wasn’t one in the lot that had any character, not one that had any merit, except the cheap and tawdry merit of being unfortunate. They were a vast burden to us all–including my mother–but they were out of luck and that was enough; they had to stay. However, better these than no pets at all; children must have pets and we were not allowed to have caged ones. An imprisoned creature was out of the question–my mother would not have a rat to be restrained of its liberty.

~ Mark Twain, The Autobiography of Mark Twain

***

I’ve posted some of these quotations before. For the record, I like dogs, too. But at the moment, I’m sitting under a sleeping cat–and holding the laptop at a most uncomfortable angle–so cats are on my mind. So is Mark Twain. And I might as well get them out of my system.

*

A home without a cat — and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat –may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?

 ~ Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson

*

He would call (the cats) to “come up” on the chair, and they would all jump up on the seat. He would tell them to “go to sleep,” and instantly the group were all fast asleep, remaining so until he called “Wide awake!” when in a twinkling up would go their ears and wide open their eyes.

~ Anonymous article titled “The Funniest Writer on Earth. Some Anecdotes about Mark Twain,” The Rambler, Dec. 24, 1898.

*

A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime.

~ Notebook, 1895

*

Sour Mash never cared for these things. She had many noble and engaging qualities, but at bottom she was not refined, and cared little or nothing for theology and the arts.

~ from the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2

*

“Other Christians is always worrying about other people’s opinions, but Sour Mash don’t give a damn.”

~ Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2 (2013), p. 216. Dictated 3 September 1906.

*

That cat will write her autograph all over your leg if you let her.”

from memoirs of Clemens’ secretary Mary Howden which were published in New York Herald, December 13, 1925

*

I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.

~ quoted in Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field, Fisher

*

Twain owned up to 19 cats at one time, writes Livius Drusus for Mental Floss, “all of whom he loved and respected far beyond whatever he may have felt about people. His cats all bore fantastical titles, among them: Apollinaris, Beelzebub, Blatherskite, Buffalo Bill, Satan, Sin, Sour Mash, Tammany, Zoroaster, Soapy Sal and Pestilence, writes Drusus.

Throughout his life, when Twain travelled he would rent cats to take the place of his left-behind companions. “The most famous cat-renting episode occurred in Dublin, New Hampshire, in 1906,” writes Mack Hitch for New England Today. “Twain biographer Albert Bigelow Paine was there when the author rented three kittens for the summer. One he named Sackcloth. The other two were identical and went under the joint name of Ashes.” Why rent, you ask? He couldn’t travel with the cats, so he’d rent them and then leave behind money to help cover their care during all nine of their lives.

~ “Mark Twain Liked Cats Better Than People: Who Wouldn’t?” Kat Escher, Smithsonian.com

*

When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.

~ “An Incident,” Who Is Mark Twain?”

*

The Great Cat: Cats in History, Art and Literature

https://www.thegreatcat.org/cats-19th-century-part-13-mark-twains-cats/

 

Mark Twain and His Cats–10 Pictures

https://twentytwowords.com/mark-twain-and-his-cats-10-pictures/

A Tale of Two Christmases

Christmas Compromise, 2009

 

Posted on Whiskertips, December 24, 2009, when William and Ernest were still young adults.

 

If you read my earlier post, our Christmas tree
has been the subject of intense, but not unexpected, conflict.

As soon as the tree lit up, so did William and Ernest.
William had to be physically restrained from chewing on the lights.

The next morning Kathy found the tree lying on its side and the cats out of sight.
The tree spent the day en deshabille, as it were.

After lengthy trilateral negotiations, a compromise was reached.

Ornaments and tree skirt are, of course, out of the question.

Gifts will appear Christmas morning immediately before they’re to be opened.

 

 

***

Christmas Compromise, 2013

After Ernest began eating everything he found interesting–
thread, twine, string, ribbon, “elongated things,” the veterinarian said–
and his health care became repeatedly expensive,
David and Kathy decided Christmas tree needles shouldn’t be allowed in the house.

David bought a small artificial tree complete with lights and set it on a chair.

William supervised setup and checked for stability.

 

A certain instability was discovered, but William said Ernest was at fault.

Ernest said, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

 

Since then, however, nothing untoward has occurred.

William continues to keep watch.

In 2018, gifts still appear Christmas morning immediately before they’re to be opened.

 

***

Note: The black thing William is lying on started as my bearfoot slipper
but soon became a soft, squishy thing for William to make biscuits on. 

 

Another note: I don’t think my cats are cuter
than other people’s children and grandchildren,
but I don’t have children or grandchildren,
so William and Ernest get their pictures broadcast worldwide.

 

William and Ernest Make America Great. For the Second Year in a Row. In Dallas.

David and I are in Dallas for What the Fest 2 at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, and we are officially chuffed. David’s “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” which was named Judges’ Pick in the 2017 WTF, was screened last night, first on the program–and will be shown again tonight.

What the Fest highlights films that don’t fit into any particular genre. (An understatement if there ever was one.)

Last night’s fan favorite was “Deletion,” the story of a psychiatrist who specializes in erasing patients’ memories. My favorite was “Toasted,” a look at what appliances, including a Scotch tape dispenser that handles tape about as well as I do, get up to when the master isn’t home.

Everyone in the audience received a raffle ticket for door prizes. If you let them stamp your forehead, you got an extra raffle ticket. Well, why not? David won a tote bag. Or maybe I did. I gave him my tickets to care for, and we don’t know whose number was called.

At the second intermission, girls* came around with a black light thingy and took pictures of our foreheads. Results are under Well, why not, above.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre is little and cute and specializes in melodrama, as you can tell from the carpet of popcorn on the floor.

What the Fest is my favorite of all the festivals we’ve been to, in part because little and cute also means informal–the principals say they’re a family, and they act like it. They have fun. So does the audience.

They also like David’s film. When they introduced it, they said they’d watched nine hours of submissions, and to keep themselves going throughout the arduous task, they periodically played “Invisible Men,” because it made them giggle. When we were leaving, a couple of the guys said they watch it a lot and also quote some of the lines (“Well, that sucks,” and “It is not a coincidence.”) One of the girls said she watches it with her mother.

In Austin, “Invisible Men, the story of two cats who save Earth by facing down a horde of space aliens,” and David’s other films are called weird.”** The folks in Dallas speak of “purity” and “a place of love.” In other words, it’s the kind of film you can take home to your mother, and that says a lot.

Once again, stars William and Ernest chose to stay home under the twice-a-day supervision of Charla, who feeds them, pets them, and gives William his insulin injection. They don’t like the carriers or the car, but they like Charla a lot. Charla emailed us that they’re playful.

We’re now using the wi-fi at the Denny’s next door to our hotel. The hotel’s wi-fi keeps slipping off the Internet and refuses to let me upload photos, but Denny’s is excellent.

In about four hours, we’ll head back to Pocket Sandwich Theatre to see “Invisible Men Invade Earth” and several new films. Last night, the audience started laughing before the first scene ended. I’m sure tonight’s viewers will be just as discerning.

***

*A purist would call them women, but where I come from, women that age are girls unless you’re trying to make a point.

**In Austin, weird is a compliment. I don’t know who decided Austin is weird, but “Keep Austin Weird” is right up there, or maybe above, “The Live Music Capitol of the World.” Weird may have started when Jim Franklin drew that armadillo. Oh. I just looked it up. Here’s who decided Austin is weird.

Further note: Lone Star used to be the National Beer of Texas, and I guess it still is. I haven’t seen the commercial in a long time, but there’s a video on youtube extolling its virtues.  (See link above.) According to the expert, It’s got a perfect taste that’s hard to describe.

***

 

Cat Talking, Part 2

In Part 1 of Cat Talking, I conceded that, although it’s been scientifically demonstrated that people who talk to their pets–anthropomorphize–are more intelligent than those who don’t, I might not be quite so smart as other pet talkers. In fact, I admitted my IQ might be three points below that of the sea sponge.

For the moment, however, let’s forget all that and assume I’m as smart as all the rest.

Yesterday’s subject was William, who doesn’t take direction.

IMG_1187
Ernest incorrectly positioned

Today I write about Ernest, who, wonder of wonders, does.

We’ve had our battles. He clings. He stomps on me. He stomps on the keyboard. He stomps on me . . .

So I set out to teach him to lie down.

Lie down. Lie down. Lieeeeeee dowwwwwwwwwn.  Lieeeeeee dowwwwwwwwwn.  Lieeeeeee dowwwwwwwwwn.  Lieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee dowwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. 

Somewhere in the 1.5 million repetitions, he not only figured out what I wanted him to do, but he started doing it.

For a while, we fought over positioning–he wanted to lie facing away from me, with his rear straddling my forearm, for maximum tummy exposure. See photo above.

IMG_2926
Ernest correctly positioned

Now he lies down facing me, his head on the laptop. He does it voluntarily. Just jumps onto the chair beside me and plops himself down.

Our system isn’t perfect. He lies down only on his right side, never his left. And he seems to think a laptop must be present.

But I am impressed. In fact, I am gobsmacked.

I’ve had many intelligent cats. But Ernest is the first cat I’ve ever trained to do something he didn’t want to do. I’m impressed with him, and I’m impressed with me.

And I think we’re both way ahead of the sea sponge.

 

 

Cat Talking

An article posted on Facebook–my chief source of information these days–states that people who talk to their pets are smarter than those who don’t.

This is not news. We pet owners have always known we’re more intelligent than the rest of the population. If the rest of the population didn’t know this, that wasn’t our fault. But now everyone knows it, because everyone belongs to Facebook.

DSCN1633 (3)It seems that talking to pets is an example of anthropomorphizing, the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. I was familiar with the word but had been told it meant my IQ was three points below that of the sea sponge. Obviously, that was wrong.

I have one question: Does talk mean traditional adult speech or does it also include baby talk?

For example, I say, Go stairsies? to my cats; would a scientist say that’s evidence of my mental superiority? The phrase means Do you want to go downstairs? or upstairs, depending on where we are. Ernest usually wants to go stairsies as soon as he’s asked; William mulls over the possibilities and decides later. He wants to make sure it’s his idea.

I tell William and Ernest they’re sweet puddy tats (readers my age will know where that comes from). Sometimes they’re feet puddy tats. Or they’re feet puddy wuddies. I tell them I wuv them (I wuv ooo). When I step on a tail, I say, I sowwy. 

I ask them if they’re hungwy and  want some breakbus, which is silly, because they’re always interested in food.*

Featured Image -- 28170
Ernest being unconcerned

This afternoon, William was hungwy.  He jumped onto the arm of my chair–something he rarely does, because he doesn’t want his humans to think he likes them–and headed for the plate of bread crumbs on the table beside me. I moved the plate to the other side. William stayed where he was. I went back to work and forgot about him.

Suddenly he was in front of me, standing on the keyboard, again focused on the plate. I pushed him backward, then forward, but he weighs more than twenty pounds and is passive aggressive. He stayed where he was.

I finally gave up and let him cross in his own time, but not before he’d typed gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg and sent an email comprising one sentence, one fragment, and the line of g‘s. It was a business email. By the time I realized it had been sent, it was too late to Undo.

At that point, I wanted to say something that wasn’t baby talk but I kept my peace. William ignores criticism. Orders. Suggestions. Requests. Invitations. Pretty much everything. It all has to be his idea.

I’ve just realized this post has taken an unfortunate turn. I began by praising myself for being an intelligent cat talker, and am ending with a story about allowing my cat to send an email. Which suggests the cat is pretty high in the IQ department. And maybe I really am three points below the sea sponge.

###

*A relative I won’t identify used to ask her little boys what they wanted for lunch–eggy-do or soupy-doup. I have not yet fallen so low.

It Ain’t the Trevi, but It’s Ours

We have a fountain. It gurgles. The gurgling is supposed to remind the cats to drink.

We installed it in the living room. The Quality always have a fountain in the living room.

It works but doesn’t fulfill its original purpose.

Ernest was skeptical. When he stuck his paw into the water, we knew he’d figured out what it’s for. He can’t drink without first dipping his paw into the water and licking it. Two or three times.

I’m not surprised it didn’t catch on. It’s poorly designed–as you can see from one of the pictures above, the squared-off front makes the bowl too small to drink from comfortably. There’s no room for whiskers.

I learned about whiskers from Mrs. Fricke in the fourth grade, but, because some of what I remember from fourth grade is no longer operative, I looked it up. Mrs. Fricke was correct. According to the VCA website, whiskers “prevent cats from getting into jams“:

“As a kitty approaches a narrow spot in the fence,  a slender space between rocks, or a small area between the living room chairs, whiskers help him determine if he can fit through the passage without getting stuck or turning over the furniture. This keeps the cat out of trouble in more ways than one!”

We tried raising the water level, but that didn’t help. Ernest sipped once from the stream. Since then, he’s ignored it.

With too much water, there’s no gurgling. David and I enjoy the gurgling, so we poured out the extra water.

The fountain still sits in the living room, gurgling away.

And after a day of suffering slings and arrows, and grunting and sweating and bearing whips and scorns and contumelies, not to mention fardels, David and I sit in our easy chairs, put our feet up, and chill out.

There’s nothing that gets rid of contumelies faster than a good gurgle.

###

 

William

You probably noticed I included no pictures of William. There aren’t any. He cast a baleful eye on the fountain, gave us a “you-gotta-be-kidding” look, and sashayed off. William is a bit of a Luddite. He says technology is okay, but some things can’t be improved on, and his plastic water bowl is one of them. And he already knows when to drink, thank you very much. As for fardels, he wouldn’t know one if it jumped up and bit him.