Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

66(6)

March 27, 2020

“Please, don’t wake me, no, don’t shake me, leave me where I am,
I’m only sleeping. Asshole.”

I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by Miss Mia Sopaipilla singing me “Happy Birthday.”

At least, I think it was “Happy Birthday.” It sounded a lot like “Mrow yowr rowr myowww erroww mrow yowr rowr meeeeeeeeeeeeeowwwwwwwww.” But I’m not much of a crooner myself and so who am I to be critical of another amateur’s warbling?

It goes without saying that when I woke her up a couple hours later, I was the bad guy.

Meanwhile, someone has promised me birthday pancakes. But she’s in her office yelling at NPR so I’m not holding my breath.

Still, I am on top of the earth and I don’t work for the government, as Thomas McGuane has said. So, later, the 66-minute birthday ride. Right after those hotcakes.

What part of ‘meow’ don’t you understand?

March 24, 2020

Miss Mia Sopaipilla, The Last Cat Standing, briefs staff on the emergency measures she has ordered, which for some reason are heavy on
cat-food acquisition and litter-box maintenance.

It’s early days yet, of course, but so far our lives have not been radically altered by the governor’s stay-at-home edict.

Even before The Fourth Horseman rode his sneezy hayburner into town we were mostly homebodies. Herself got up at stupid-thirty four days a week to pull a 10-hour shift at the Death Star, and by the time she came home she was rarely in the mood to go out to do … well, pretty much anything.

So I would cook dinner, we would watch something on TV, and then it was early to bed because see “getting up at stupid-thirty,” etc.

After the guv gave us the word yesterday, I cooked dinner, we watched something on TV, and … well, you get the idea. One of us still gets up at stupid-thirty, too. Guess who.

We maintain our respective hobbies, of course. Herself eBays bits of this and that, for us and for friends. And as you see, I continue to operate my little one-ring nonprofit, the Cirque du Sowhat.

Meanwhile, Miss Mia Sopaipilla remains firmly atop the org chart. Somebody has to be in charge around here, and it’s never gonna be me.

It’s a coverup!

March 23, 2020

The Omega Cat

March 21, 2020

Miss Mia Sopaipilla mans (cats?) the battlements.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla, The Last Cat Standing, checks the southeast perimeter for any sign of Spike the Terrorist Deer.

Things are greening up and budding out, and staff seems preoccupied with other matters, so Mia stands the watch.

In addition to the wine delivery we had a couple of packages to drop off at USPS, so I strapped a Wald basket on the rear rack of the Soma Double Cross.

One never knows. The sneaky sonofabitch might like cat food.

Meanwhile, staff kitted up for another wine run yesterday afternoon. We chatted briefly with Herself the Elder via phone, next to her closed bedroom window, and then scurried back to El Rancho Pendejo as a light sprinkle began.

We saw quite a few cyclists on the Tramway bike path, in some cases moms herding mobs of children.  I think of being on lockdown with a herd of bored and restless rug monkeys, and I wish I’d been kinder to me sainted ma, who was sentenced to life without parole as a housewife and mother.

Elsewhere, I see our “leaders” have been up to the usual, which is to say not much barring high crimes and misdemeanors.

It really is long past time for the press to quit covering what Chazbo Pierce calls “the daily briefings from the Coronavirus Superfriends,” which have devolved into miniature campaign rallies for Il Douche, free telemarketing for his only product, bullshit.

There is no breaking news to be had at this surgical theater of the absurd, and responsible journalists should take the time to suck it up, watch the comedy, pluck the rare diamond from the dung, and pass the stone, with an addendum tallying the ratio of facts to lies. No diamonds? No distribution. See James Fallows at The Atlantic for more. I like James so much that I ponied up for a subscription.

In other news, United Airlines is cordially invited to go fuck itself. Jesus. These people are completely without shame. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I would rather pay to push my Subaru uphill into the wind, wearing roller skates and this goddamn ankle brace, than fly United for free.

The cat’s meow

March 18, 2020

The rest interval.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla is enjoying this whole social-distancing thing.

Suddenly she has two people to feed her; two people to empty the litter box; and two people to play “Chase Me Chase Me.”

This last is a pursuit through the house to the master bath, where the pursuer must sit on the toilet while Miss Mia slaloms between his/her calves and around both sides of the toilet, scent-marking the corners of the surrounding walls and periodically standing on her hind legs to bump her head into an outstretched palm like a particularly gregarious prairie dog.

Afterward there will be a short snort from the water dish followed by a snooze on the back of the couch.

Then, and only then, are we released to set about our own little bits of business. Like waiting for the feddle gummint to send us a G of our own money and then dispatch crews of space-suited carpenters to nail our doors and windows shut so we can’t leave home to spend it.

Happy birthday to Herself

March 12, 2020

Herself gets a happy-birthday snuggle from Miss Mia Sopaipilla, who borrows a lock of her hair as a fright wig for her famous Agent Orange impression.

Herself just swung through the start-finish for another lap around the sun.

We’re celebrating by hosing each other down with bleach, hoarding canned goods, and watching our portfolio turn into more of a postcard.

We’re in the soup

March 11, 2020

This soup didn’t come out of a packet.

We were not Jewish. But whenever one of us was sick, Mom would break out the chicken soup.

Well, kinda, sorta.

It was the sort of soup a harried Midwestern Presbyterian considered suitable for ailing children, a saucepan of rehydrated Lipton chicken noodle, with a side of Premium saltines. And if I played my cards right, I could work Mom for the fake soup and a couple of comic books. Winning!

Well, here we are again. The Plague is upon us, we’re shivering under the comforter, and someone is bringing us a plastic bowl of industrial soup with some dried-up old white crackers.

Say, who is that wearing Mom’s apron? It’s … it’s … oh, my God, it’s. …

Yes, it’s another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: It’s another low-and-slow-fi episode this week. I used an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic, and skipped the Zoom H5 Handy Recorder in favor of recording directly to the MacBook Pro using Rogue Amoeba’s nifty little app Piezo. Editing was as usual, in GarageBand. You’ll recognize Babe and the gang from The Firesign Theatre (“How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All”) and the doctor from “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.” The background music is by Your Humble Narrator, assembled from bits and pieces in the iOS version of GarageBand on a 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Rebooted

March 11, 2020

If spring hasn’t quite sprung, well, it’s thinking about it.

It was a pretty pleasant morning yesterday in the Duke City, so I bit the bullet and ventured out for a short walk around the flattest parts of our neighborhood, which made it a very short walk indeed.

I did a bit with both crutches, and a bit with one, and a bit with none; chatted up a few neighbors who wished to plumb the depths of my stupidity; and finally headed back to the rancheroo for a spot of lunch.

Then I pulled off the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, leaned back in my chair, and put both dogs up on a footstool to rest awhile.

Just out of reach. Like a cat.

Not until I settled in and got comfortable did the smoke alarm go off.

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

Etc.

So I put on the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, levered myself out of the chair, crutched into the entryway … and it stopped.

“Turkish, are you fucking with me? I asked. The question seemed relevant, if a tad mystical.

For starters, as all cat people know, your cat will never assign you some vital task until you are settled in and comfortable.

Second, the night Turkish died, as Herself and I were settling into bed, and I rested my right hand on the spot where our big, big boy would usually lounge for a bit, the bathroom light suddenly turned itself on, and then off.

Now there was this. And it wasn’t lost on me that I had instructed that my old comrade’s remains be cremated.

I crutched into the kitchen for a fresh battery, because why the hell not, and the smoke detector started up again. So I returned with the battery and a small stepladder, and — praying there wasn’t a giant, pissed-off, blue-eyed spectral cat in a cloud of smoke up there somewhere  — made the swap without incident.

Turkish always liked the high spots.

 

Requiem

March 7, 2020

His Excellency permits a brief photo op
while inspecting the perimeter in March 2019.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who expressed condolences upon the passing of our beloved cat, Turkish.

May you all be in heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.

While we’re on the subject of Irish blessings, may I recommend Frank O’Connor’s “Requiem” to anyone grieving a fallen comrade? Father Fogarty, who did not yet know for whom he would be asked to say “only one small Mass,” speaks thusly:

“All I know from my own experience is is that the more loss we feel the more grateful we should be for whatever it was we had to lose. It means we had something worth grieving for. The ones I’m sorry for are the ones that go through life not even knowing what grief is. And you’d be surprised the number of them you’d meet.”

R.I.P., Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein

March 6, 2020

His Excellency has gone west.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), stood his final watch yesterday.

The old soldier was stricken suddenly and definitively, but the medics did their best to keep him here with us. In the end, we chose to let him go, and a fine strong wind arose in the evening to bear his spirit west.

The young Turk, playing with his absurdly huge, pink, bunny feet.

The Turk came to us in the traditional manner (“Hey, want a kitten?”), but with a twist. We’d only ever had girl cats, and back in April 2007, we simply assumed he was a she. Nope. The difference manifested itself in late May.

And he proved a wild boy. Rubber bands, paper bags, cardboard boxes, computer keyboards and the legs leading upward to them … nothing and no one was safe from Mighty Whitey, the Blue-Eyed Bully of Bibleburg.

This included our other cat, Ike, a.k.a. Chairman Meow, who was not exactly overjoyed to find The Great Leap Forward shaking the foundations of her People’s Republic of Oz.

Ike had come up the hard way, from the mean streets of Wetmore, Colorado, to the wilds of Weirdcliffe, where she survived a coyote attack that left her looking like she’d been shot at and hit, and then shit at and hit again. Life in Bibleburg was easy-breezy. All the predators worked for the government. Surely she could survive this latest assault on her person and dignity.

But in addition to her battle scars, Ike also had an enlarged heart we didn’t know about, and it abruptly did for her in October 2007, when the Turk was just eight months old.

“I hope we never die.”

In our grief, we immediately acquired another cat. Miss Mia Sopaipilla came complete with her own medical history (feline upper-respiratory disorder), but once she’d beaten that back we were all one big, happy family.

People without children probably attach outsized importance to their pets. As a teenager I used to enjoy a good heehaw at a neighbor couple who referred to their portly dachshund as their “child.” But I came to appreciate their perspective over the years spent with my own animals. Jojo, Fuerte, Bandit, Ike, Tina, Turk, Mia, and Mister Boo weren’t blood kin, but they damn sure were family.

It was funny. I chose Mia from the congregation of cats at the shelter, but Mia selected Herself as her personal servant. Herself brought Turkish home, but he attached himself to me, probably because I was the dude with the lap who was home all the time, knew where the cat food was, and could operate doorknobs.

Before Turkish came along, I’d never seen a cat like him, and suddenly I was seeing two of him.

Because the Turk’s outsized personality could not be contained by four walls and a roof. And so he was an inside-outside cat for a while. He climbed apple, apricot and maple trees, earning a new moniker (“The Rare and Wonderful Albino Tree Weasel”); scaled the garage to strike a Peter O’Tooleish “Lion in Winter” pose; and even brought home a dopplegänger once. Swear to God, the two cats were identical save for the eyes. Turk’s were a striking blue that made Paul Newman’s peepers look like pissholes in a snowbank.

His vertical leap was marvelous, so much so that a neighbor had to relocate her bird feeder because despite the tall fence separating our yards, it had suddenly become a cat feeder. Whoever said “white guys can’t jump” never saw the Turk grabbing some sky.

But after the big fella came home with an expensive war wound, that was the end of that. He and Mia still went out, but only on harnesses, and under strict supervision.

All I ask is a tall sink and a window to steer her by.

That was OK, kinda, sorta. The house in Bibleburg had a ton of windows, and Turk came to appreciate a relaxing sprawl on the back of the couch, or atop my drawing board, where he could keep an eye on the street.

The long kitchen window was another favorite spot; from there, he could spy on the neighbors, Marv and Judy, and enjoy an occasional drink from the faucet, his favorite source of refreshment. Now and then he’d simply curl up in the sink. Turkish Vans are famous leapers and swimmers, and ours certainly had the family affinity for both.

Turkish working on his tan

Once the Turk was no longer at liberty to roam as he pleased, he settled for watching what we called DoorVision®.

The downside of becoming an indoor cat? Weight gain. His Anatolian ancestors may have been champion open-water swimmers and high jumpers, but our big, big boy developed into an all-American couch potato. It was a struggle to keep him under 15 pounds (Mia, a smaller, more active cat, weighs 11).

When we moved to the Duke City in 2014, the big galoot started giving hints that he would not be what Herself calls “a 20-year-cat.”

He developed arthritis and some muscle loss in his once-powerful hindquarters, which made it tough for him to get to his beloved sinks and windows. Happily, his new digs had two sets of sliding glass doors, so he could still inspect the perimeter from ground level.

Chronic constipation reared its ugly head, but was brought under control with a light dose of stool softener. Then, like Mister Boo before him, Turkish developed bladder stones, which happily required only a change in diet rather than surgery.

Also like The Boo, The Turk had a profound lack of faith in the medical-industrial complex. And he was not shy about airing his opinions on the topic. One was inclined to pay close attention to these diatribes, because a pissed-off 15-pound cat with teeth like a young Dracula and paws like tennis balls studded with X-acto knives is not something you want to turn your back on.

Waiting for a snuggle.

If the Turk occasionally got a cursory once-over during a regular checkup, it was because the vet didn’t want to have him sedated by a robot orderly just to be able to sneak into the exam room. Also, it’s hard to practice medicine in body armor.

It’s a pity that his doctors never got to see his softer side. True, the voices in his head were not all friendlies; more than a few of them came from outside the wire. And he had been known to actually bite the hand that fed him.

But he relished a short snuggle in the bed nearly every morning and evening. And he loved performing his dance cycle, The Roll of the Happy Cat, on some sunny spot on the brick pavers.

So why should yesterday have been any different? But it was.

The day began with rolls and happy cat and breakfast and ended with an injection in emergency care, after an operation to remove an unidentified mass from the Turk’s spleen. It had ruptured. There was internal bleeding. Kidney failure. Part of his pancreas had to go, too. He crashed three times, the last time as we discussed heroic measures and likely outcomes. Brain damage. Cancer. Diabetes. Dialysis. Pancreatitis.

We said, “Enough.” We said our goodbyes. And we went home without my friend, my comrade, my big, big boy.

In the night, I went to a place where the Turk lounges in a backyard tree, drinks from a faucet, and performs the Roll of the Happy Cat in a perpetually sunny spot. The breakfasts are large and endless and nobody gets fat. Snuggles come with.

But they wouldn’t let me stay. And I woke up crying.