Ernest arrived at the veterinarian’sunder the influence–that calming spray is magic–and was immediately ushered into the cat lounge, a small room with four comfortable chairs for humans and just enough space in the middle for a carrier.
Wall pheremones were plugged into an electrical socket, and music filled the air: the albumMusic for Cats.David Teies, a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, worked with animal scientists to develop music designed to help cats de-stress.
Eleanor Stanford, reviewing Teies’ CD for the New York Times, describes it as, “a series of whirring, lilting and at times squeaky musical tracks designed for cats’ brains and ears.”
In some tracks, sounds similar to the chirps of birds are overlaid with hurried streams of staccato for an energizing effect; in others, crescendos of purring and suckling sounds are designed to relax.
“To a human ear,” she says, “the sounds are otherworldly and at times soporific.”
Regarding cats,Charles Snowden, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who worked on the project, reports,
My cat, Pocket, could do with some music-induced relaxation. She was found wandering the streets of the Bronx, and when we took her from the New York City Animal Care and Control shelter to her new home in Brooklyn, she developed a nervous habit of running full speed down the hallway, smacking her head against doors along the way.
Listening to the track “Cozmo’s Air,” built upon soothing vibrato sounds, she sat still. By the end of the four and a half minutes, she had curled herself around the speakers, purring.
A link to one of the tracks, “Katey Moss Catwalk,” appears on Youtube. A link is below.
Ernest huddled in his carrier the entire time we were in the lounge, and I didn’t have a good view of him, so I couldn’t gauge his response, but he remained calm, even, the technician reported, during some unpleasant tests. So who knows?
Anyway, if he didn’t care for “Music for Cats,” I did. It is truly soporific.
Having recently been plagued by insomnia, I may buy a copy for myself.
For anyone who hasn’t run across the word before–and I mean no disrespect, since the first time I heard it, I had to look it up, and I was working on a master’s degree in English at the time–soporificmeans, “causing or tending to cause sleep; tending to dull awareness or alertness.”
It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is “soporific.”
I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.
They certainly had a very soporific effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies!
From this we may infer than young children can learn big words and will learn them if they’re used and explained in the proper context. It is wrong to underestimate the abilities of children. They don’t have to be graduate students to add grown-up words to their personal lexicons.
On impulse, I include Rossini’s “Cat Duet,” sung by Felicity Lott and Ann Murray, also on Youtube.
One comment: “The perfect response to everyone who thinks classical music is dead serious, dull and boring.”
Another: “My cat just left the room.”
And a third: “Dear God I cannot believe two grown women actually did this.”
Ernest listened and appreciated it.
(Note: The comments above refer to a performance by Kiri Te Kanawa and Norma Burrows. But this one is funnier.)
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. — Herman Melville
When it’s November, I give thanks summer is over and 100-degree weather temporarily behind us.
This November I gave thanks for the veterinarian.
While was in Dallas at a writing conference, David noticed symptoms of diabetes and took Ernest in for confirmation and treatment. I asked how he got the cat into the carrier. “With great difficulty,” he said.
After I returned home, we took him back to the doctor for gastric problems related to his new dietary regimen. The next day, he seemed to be in worse shape, so we took him back. Because he doesn’t like injections any more than he likes the carrier, we hadn’t been able to give him insulin, so that afternoon, before releasing him, the vet gave him a shot.
That night about midnight, in the dark, I stepped on a furry mass beside the bed and turned on the light. Guess who. Ernest. That was a surprise, since he usually sleeps under the bed. When I picked him up, another miracle occurred—he tolerated it. He doesn’t like to be picked up and held either. He felt like a rag doll. David rubbed honey on his gums, and we headed for the animal ER/hospital (where he went several years ago after eating thread).
By the time we arrived, his blood sugar was 25, so he stayed for an IV and monitoring. At dawn–6:00 a.m., but it felt like dawn—we took him back to our vet for further monitoring. At 5:00 p.m, on the vet’s advice, we delivered him to the hospital for 24 to 36 hours of monitoring. The vet who had given him the insulin was amazed his glucose plummeted like that. The next afternoon, we picked him up.
Over the next two days, I functioned as a lap.
He’s doing well now. We hoped his diabetes could be controlled by diet, but he’s taking injections from David as if they’re no big deal. We watch him for hypoglycemia.
I don’t know whether I could inject him. He and David have always been buds. David is calm, so in David’s sphere, Ernest is calm. I energize him, so he marches around on me and sits on the arm of the chair and pulls on my sleeve. To give him his due, he’s learned to “liiiiiieeeeeeee dowwwwwwwwwwwn” after hearing me plead not too many times. But he has no intention of learning, “Stop pulling on my sleeve.”
On the topic of energy, since retiring, I’ve realized I energized my students, too, more’s the pity. They didn’t need energizing.
Anyway, November, to me, will always be The Month of the Hypoglycemic Cat.
And on a less alarming note, the The Month It Is Cooler, and in 2019, Damp and Drizzly, and Sometimes Even Rainy, Which is Nice.
I shouldn’t say this, lest it embarrass him, but in the hospital, Ernest’s legs were shaved so veins could be accessed, and now he looks like a 1950s lady wearing a fur coat with three-quarter sleeves and gauntlet gloves.
My husband just made arrangements for the Salvation Army to pick up the piano because we’re moving in two weeks and won’t have room for it in our new place.
It’s not in the best of shape. It doesn’t tune as high as it should because I let it get too hot and too cold for a year before moving it to Austin.
But it still tunes and would be fine for playing, or for singing to if you’re not particular about the vocal range. Still, I haven’t played it in months, have played only infrequently for years. The cats sleep under it.
William used to sleep on it.
So I shouldn’t care.
But any minute now, I’m going to start crying, and I’m going to cry till the Sally truck comes on Tuesday, and I’m going to cry while they load it onto the truck, and while they drive off, and every time I look at the space where it used to live, because all my life I’ve had a piano, and now I won’t.
And then I’ll dry up and feel a lot better because the Salvation Army was good to soldiers during World War II, and they’ll find it a home where somebody will play it and not let it just sit there with cats leaning against the pedals.
And because I’ll have stopped trying to drag one more part of my past into the present.
The answer to that question requires only one word, and most writers know what it is, but Gold also answers the moreimportant question, “How should we approach writing advice if even the most frequently shared advice is often wrong?”
I use LibreOffice Writer and love it. I made a donation when I downloaded the program (app?) and do so again with each upgrade. But that’s voluntary. As Haines says, it’s totally free. Check out LO and nine others.
When we tried to medicate William last night, a pill fell into the pit between the seat of my recliner and the arm, and we weren’t able to locate it. It’s in there somewhere, or it fell through onto the floor under the chair. After a cursory look, we gave up. We feel safe leaving it there because it’s a sure thing neither cat will gobble it up. If it were one of my pills, they would vacuum it up in a nanosecond.
The pill fell because I was careless and William got his tongue in gear and spat it out. We got another pill. Which means he’ll get only twenty-nine pills instead of thirty. William thinks that’s okay.
William is being dosed for pancreatitis. David is the cat holder. Due to my vast experience, I am the pill poker. It took a week for me to remember that coating the pill with butter makes the job easier. William doesn’t resist as enthusiastically and once in his mouth, the pill slides down more easily. He also doesn’t run upstairs after the ordeal, just jumps down and licks the inside of his mouth with vigor but no expression of distaste. Hurrah for butter. We have about two more weeks to go.
Ernest is probably unpillable. We haven’t tried, and I don’t want to.
I use a piller now. I had a piller in years past, but Chloe didn’t take to it, and I didn’t take to Chloe’s offer to use her fangs on my fingers while they were nearby. Every time she had to be pilled, I left her with the vet and let the experts handle her. Same with Christabel. Chloe was wiry and muscular and if she didn’t bite me, she wriggled out of my grasp. Christabel was big and built like Jello and rolled out of every half Nelson I applied.
At the end of this post, there’s a link to a video tutorial on pilling cats. I include it so you can see the piller. The starring vet says the process is easy peasy. Take that with a grain of salt. He’s a vet. He’s had practice. The cat knows resistance if futile. I suspect he’s a clinic cat. Those animals tolerate many outrages with aplomb. I suspect they have no reflexes at all.
My old neighbor, Steve Dauchy, a big orange tom, was a retired clinic cat. One cold winter day, his family smelled something burning and found Steve sleeping on a propane space heater in the kitchen with his tail hanging down beside the vent. His hair was singeing. He woke up when they pulled him off.
One winter night, I woke, reached out my hand, and touched fur I recognized as not my cat. Scared me half to death. I turned the light on, and there was Steve, snoozing away, the third cat on the bed. He’d sneaked into the house when I opened the door, hidden somewhere, and emerged at lights out, I guess. He was very astute. On cold nights, he slept on the seat of the riding lawnmower in his humans’ garden shed, a nice, tight bedroom, but when he saw a chance of a mattress, he jumped at it. The next morning, while Steve breakfasted in my kitchen, I called next door and told the worried humans about the slumber party he’d engineered, and later, when it warmed up, put him outside.
Tonight’s dose went down in record time. David wanted to medicate him before he went to the grocery store, but we waited for him to come downstairs under his own steam. Between four and five-thirty every day, awakened by his circadian rhythms, he waltzes downstairs for insulin and dinner. Mainly dinner. He hardly notices the insulin.
When I was a teen, I read a book about caring for cats. There was a chapter about medicating them. The authors, a married couple, used the terms cat holder and pill poker.
When I pilled my Siamese, Ms., I was both cat holder and pill poker, but after the first few confrontations, she cooperated. I didn’t have a piller, but she didn’t Didn’t open her mouth on command, but I didn’t have to use much force, and she sat still. She was highly intelligent and behaved more like a dog than a cat, except for pilling. Dogs never cooperated.
The Siamese’s first name was Mademoiselle–for some ridiculous reason–until I realized she was liberated, the Gloria Steinem of cats, good looks and all–and I changed it to Ms. That was ridiculous, too, because I called her Kitty. And Puddy. And Puddy-Wuddy. And Feetie-Pie. All the usual cat names.
She produced kittens when she was eleven months old. Her idea, not mine. Wonder of wonders, they were Siamese kittens. Praise goodness for the gentleman Siamese down the street. The kittens would probably have been just as easy to give away as if they’d been generic, but people seemed extra pleased to have purebreds. No official papers, of course. Ms. was not an aristocrat, and considering the kittens were conceived under dubious circumstances, they would never have been accepted into High Society.
My one disastrous encounter with a sick cat occurred at the veterinarian’s. The tech was attending to one end of William and I was holding the other end, the one with teeth. He’d buried his head as far back between my body and my forearm as he could go, considering I had my arm clamped to my side. After suffering indignity for longer than I thought he would, he rebelled. I think he tried to bite me, but he managed only to rub his fang against my arm, hard enough to scrape the skin slightly. Within minutes, I had a budding case of cellulitis–I recognized it as such because I’d had it before from an encounter with cat teeth–and I had to go to the urgent care clinic for pills of my own plus shot of antibiotic. It turned out that William wasn’t sick. That night I wrote a verse about the experience and posted it on my blog, here:
William bit me at the vet,
Didn’t like the aide’s assistance,
Used his claws and fangs to set
On the path of most resistance.
Say I’m teary, say I’m mad,
Say that pills and needles hit me,
Say my arm’s inflamed, and add,
William bit me.
It’s patterned after one of my favorite poems, Leigh Hunt’s “Jenny Kissed Me”:
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.
If Hunt and Jane (Jenny) Carlyle were around to read the parody, they might not approve, but if I didn’t like the original, I wouldn’t have used it. I don’t consider my version an homage, exactly, but I’m fond of it. I’m a rotten poet, but I do pretty well at parody, if I do say so myself. I wish I could write them for a living.
I’m can’t write anything for a living. I don’t write fast enough, and as yet I haven’t hit upon the Great American Novel. I haven’t hit upon any novels at all, just short stories. A couple have brought in a few dollars from contests, and those that have been anthologized bring in a few cents in royalties (which are divided with the other authors), but the cents are donated to charity every year (supplemented, of course). The truth is–like many lightly published authors, I would be tempted to pay to get my stories in print or online. But I wouldn’t do that. My efforts are worth at least $0.00.
I didn’t plan to say anything about my literary efforts, but in a stream-of-consciousness post, things just happen, so I’ll happen to add that my stories appear in the three anthologies pictured in the sidebar–MURDER ON WHEELS, LONE STAR LAWLESS, and DAY OF THE DARK. My best stories, two of them, are in Murder on Wheels, which has an unimpressive cover but good stuff inside, so if you buy one, please buy that one. They’re all available in paperback and ebook formats. They might be available from your local public library–if they’re not, I’d appreciate your requesting the library acquire copies.
Royalties from Murder on Wheels go to Meals on Wheels in Austin, Texas. Royalties from Lone Star Lawless go to the Port Aransas Public Library, which lost its collection and everything else to Hurricane Harvey in 2018. Royalties from Day of the Dark go to Earth & Sky, which through its website presents information about science and nature. The radio program Earth & Sky (EarthSky) used to air on commercial, NPR, and other public radio stations, but since June 2013 has concentrated on its website and social media.
So there it is, a disjointed post. I went to bed too late last night and woke up too early this morning, so I can’t work on my novella-in-progress, because the characters are too tired to do or say anything interesting. They’ve already said and done one hundred + pages, but they need to do and say it better. Anyway, since they’re not cooperating, and since I’m tired, too, I abandoned them for this post.
The novella will be out this fall. I won’t mention the title or anything else, because it’s a secret, but you can be sure more Blatant Self Promotion will appear in a future post. Not a disjointed one, I hope.
Now I’ll go back to those characters and try to rev them up. They produced pretty well yesterday, when they were rested, so I know they can do it. With the deadline they’re working under, they need to get on a stick.
This turned out less disjointed than I expected it to. Half about cats, my default topic, and the rest about books and writing. All about me, my perpetual topic. The experts say not to write about yourself, but except for Helen Hunt Jackson’s nineteenth-century novel RAMONA, I’m about all I know.
I’m putting what I know about Ramona on a separate blog, but doing so requires typing a lot of footnotes, and that’s a slow and sleep-inducing procedure. The text is interesting, though, if I do say so myself.
We’re pleased to announce that “Invisible Men Invade Earth” was named audience favorite at the Central Arts Short Film Battle in Hurst last night. It competed with “Don’t Die” by Cody Lovorn from San Antonio.
As winner, “Invisible Men” will compete with other 2019 audience favorites later in the year.
After the Battle, a 90-minute feature film, The Monster of Phantom Lake, produced by Film Battle organizer Christopher Mihm, was shown. The Creative Spotlight terms Mihm a “retro-styled director.” Of the film, it says,
“Made on a nearly non-existent budget, this B-movie went on to garner much critical acclaim, appear in many genre-based film festivals, win multiple awards, and continues to screen across the world.”
Without further ado, here are pictures of writer-director-producer-camera man-sound engineer-casting director-key grip-best boy-etc. David Davis, stars William the Cat and Ernest the Cat, and one wall of the theatre.
Photos of David Davis by Kathy Waller
Photo of wall by David Davis
Photos of William and Ernest by Charla, our vet tech cat minder, for whom William and Ernest always pose nicely, because they like her more than they like David and me
I thought I would write all twenty-six posts without them–I refrained from using them for Day C–but today I lack the vitality necessary to think of anything new. So on Day V I fall back on Cats.
William and Ernest.
As I recently posted, Ernest and I are having a disagreement over seating positions. My body and my massage therapist tell me I have to sit up straight and hold the laptop right in front of me. Ernest says he’s supposed to be right in front and the laptop can snuggle up to someone else.
I haven’t won, but, on the positive side, I’ve had to see the massage therapist only four times, and I now stand almost upright when I walk. In addition, I no longer get into the car like Audrey Hepburn. (That’s really more of a negative.)
Ernest spends more time than he used to sitting on David’s lap, he stares at me with an expression that implies he’s planning some outrage.
This evening we compromised. He curled up with his front on my leg, his head on the arm of the chair, and a narrow gap between. Because I feel guilty, I let him put his head on the keypad and, to keep him from sending emails, played Candy Crush. Then I moved my leg–it was numb–and he slid down, stretched out, and ended up squashed between me and the arm of the chair.
I took photos. They didn’t turn out–angle and proximity made it hard to get a good shot–but you might be able to get hint of our predicament. My predicament, really. As long as I rubbed his tummy, he didn’t care where he was. I don’t think he even noticed.
Ernest. Ruffled fur is from tummy rub.
William occupied himself this afternoon with walking back and forth across the keyboard and me in pursuit of a bowl of granola bar crumbs that I kept moving back and forth so he couldn’t get to it. He’s so big and heavy (and determined) that when he decides to walk on the keyboard, he walks on it.
Nineteen pounds at his last checkup, down from twenty-three. I calculated the other day–I used to bowl with a ten-pound ball, and it wasn’t easy to lift. William is worth two bowling balls.
When he was a kitten, he would race me to my chair. Seeing me approach it, he would run across the room to get there first. It was both cute and annoying. I thought he wanted the chair. After a while, he stopped.
Lately he’s been doing it again, and I’ve realized he just wants to be petted. But he doesn’t want to give up the chair. I feel guilty for not snuggling with him nine years ago, so I push and pull him to one side of the chair and squeeze into the other–it’s a big chair, and we almost fit. Sometimes he stays wedged between me and the arm. Sometimes he struggles to crawl around to my lap.
If he jumps up when the computer is already in my lap, there’s no question of working. It’s all about him.
Well, that’s the update on William and Ernest. If I weren’t so sleepy, I would write something else–something brilliant, something scholarly and profound, cogent even, displaying my remarkable erudition–but on this Day V, the tale of two tabbies is all the farther I can go.
I learned all the farther from a co-worker who hailed from Minnesota. I love it. It’s in my personal lexicon to use on occasions such as this.
WordPress suggests I use yabbies instead of tabbies. Nah. Good word, but it doesn’t fit.
The following article, first published here on November 26, 2017, focuses on one of the most Shocking Crimes in the annals of our nation, and on the three Heroic Felines who helped Investigators Crack the Case.
Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff Cleared of All Wrongdoing, FBI Reports
FBI crime lab investigators had found a cat hair under the address labelon the package containing the explosives and traced it to the Poff cats. It is alleged that Ms. Poff sent the potentially deadly devices to former President Obama and Governor Greg Abbott because she was mad at them.
Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff were taken from the Poff home in Brookshire, Texas, 34 miles west of Houston, Thursday around 9:00 a.m.
FBI Agent Arnold Specie, chief of the Houston Bureau, announced in a press conference late Thursday that after intense grilling, officials were satisfied the cats had no connection to any nefarious activities.
“The only thing they’re guilty of is shedding on paper their owner later used to wrap the explosive devices. You can’t fault cats for shedding.”
He said there’s no doubt these are the right cats. “The fur of all three exhibits white hair. That’s true even of Puffy Poff, who is mostly orange but has a couple of white spots on her underside.” He assured the press that DNA testing will confirm the hair belongs to one of the Poff cats.
A reliable source, speaking on condition of anonymity, however, said he’s not so sure. “They know more than they’re telling,” he said. “It’s impossible to get anything out of suspects that keep falling asleep in the middle of questioning. And every time Muffy rolled over, Specie gave her a belly rub. Specie’s always been soft on cats.”
The early morning raid, which involved a number of federal agents as well as a Houston PD Swat team on stand-by, rocked this usually quiet community to its very core.
“I could tell something was going down,” said neighbor Esther Bolliver. “I was outside watering my rose bushes when I saw these men wearing dark suits and ties crouching behind Julia’s privet hedge. One of them was holding out what looked to be a can of sardines, and saying, ‘Kitty kitty kitty,’ in a high-pitched voice, you know, like you use whenever you call cats. I thought it was Animal Control.”
Mrs. Bolliver ran inside and told her husband. “I said, ‘Bert, come outside and look,'” she said.
“I knew they was G-Men first thing,” said Bert Bolliver. “It was the fedoras give ’em away. Animal Control don’t wear fedoras.”
Ten-year-old Jason Bolliver, who had been kept home from school with a sore throat, added that the raid was exciting. “It’s the best thing that’s happened here since my teacher had her appendix out.”
Agent Garrison Fowle (pronounced Fole), who led the raid, said capturing the cats proved remarkably easy. “The sardines did the trick. Those cats ran right over and we grabbed them and wrapped them in bigterry clothbath sheets and stuffed them into carriers. It was a snap.”
Neighbors, however, contradict Agent Fowle’s account, pointing out that the Brookshire Fire Department had to be summoned to get Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” out of a live oak near the corner of the Poff property. It is believed she bolted when she realized the sardines were bait instead of snacks.
While at the Poff residence, BFD EMTs bandaged second-degree scratches on Agent Fowle’s face. They also administered Benadrylto Agent Morley Banks, who had broken out in hives.
Agent Delbert Smits was airlifted to Ben Taub Hospitalin Houston. Information about his condition has not been released, but Mrs. Bolliver observed Ben Taub has a first-class psychiatric emergency room, and she thinks that’s why Smits was taken all the way into Houston.
“By the time they got Pud-Pud down from that tree, the poor man was staggering around like he had a serious case of the fantods.”
After their release, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” were relocated to an unspecified location.
Special Agent Fowle said the initial plan was to fly them to Washington, D. C., in the care of Agent Banks, for further debriefing, but Agent Banks put the kibosh on that, saying there was no way in hell he was going to spend one more minute in the company of “those [expletive deleted] cats.” Fowle said Agent Banks has been granted sick leave until he stops itching.
When the commotion has died down a bit, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will be honored for their part in the capture of their owner at a joint session of the Texas Legislature at the State Capitolin Austin and a reception hosted by Governor Greg Abbott at the Governor’s Mansion.
Former President Barak Obama announced that on their next swing through Texas, he and Michelle want to take the cats out for a catfishdinner.
“Let me be clear,” President Obama said. “Although totally and completely innocent of any crime, these cats surely had a positive influence on the perp. The activity Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” witnessed was fair and balanced, targeting both a Democrat and a Republican, and as such is the first bipartisan effort I’ve come across since my first inauguration.”
After law enforcement officers left, neighbors expressed concern about the cats’ future welfare. The Bolliver family, noting the three felines spent most of the day sleeping on the hood of their Buick anyway, wanted to take them, but their offer was rejected.
Instead, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will make their home in Houston with Special Agent Specie.
Festivities at the Texas Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion were axed after Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” sent word they’d heard about Austin traffic and didn’t care to see it for themselves.
Special Counsel Robert Muellersent the Poff kitties a note of congratulations for a job well done.
The White House reluctantly announced that President Donald Trumpwould invite the Poff cats to a gala celebration at the White House, a huge one, huger than Obama’s fish dinner or Trump’s inauguration even. Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud,” however, said thanks but no thanks on the grounds they would be busy that night grooming one another’s hair.