Posts Tagged ‘Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein’

One week

October 27, 2020

In the pines, in the pines, where the sun don’t ever shine; I would shiver the whole night through.

Seven inches of snow at 7 a.m. with seven days until the election.

I call that an omen. Of what sort, I’m not certain. But it has to be better than 6, 6, and 6, don’t you think?

Sweet dreams, old pal.

As the snow piled up last night I dreamed of Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment).

He was all sprawled out, occupying a considerable portion of territory, as was his practice, and seemed very much at peace. So I woke with a smile. It was good to see my old comrade again.

I did not dream of Covid the Barbarian, because it was not yet Halloween, which this year comes with a rare full moon, the first to brighten All Hallow’s Eve in (wait for it) many moons. There won’t be another until 2039.

And it’s a blue moon. Another omen?

Here’s hoping it lights our way toward kicking the Not-So-Great Pumpkin off the White House porch a few days later.

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.

I got some wild, wild life

February 21, 2020

“Take a picture, here in the daylight, oh oh.
They got some wild, wild life.”

Herself had buggered off to Florida for a bit of R&R, and Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Force) was in his quarters, decoding vital transmissions from HQ (which appear on the underside of his eyelids), when his adjutant, Miss Mia Sopaipilla, bypassed the chain of command to inform me that we had a muj’ inside the wire.

Little fella — I know, I know, how binary of me — hung out for the better part of quite some time, touring the patio, napping under our bedroom window, and finally scooting up a backyard tree and into the arroyo.

Maybe his old lady was out of town too? Checkin’ in; checkin’ out, uh huh. I got a wild, wild life.

 

Sunshine patriots

February 15, 2020

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), demonstrates his readiness posture for the press.

Herself has three days “off” each week, but the “off” part is short for “off her rocker.”

Yesterday she pulled a full shift with Herself the Elder (eye appointment, lunch, New Mexico ID, etc.). And today she attended the local Donks’ 2020 ward meeting (she is a precinct chairperson and narrowly escaped sentencing to the pre-primary convention).

Tomorrow she has to give me a haircut. Yeah, yeah, I hear you laughing out there, but it’s harder than it sounds, chasing down and eliminating rogue hairs on my vast expanse of scalp. Like mowing the lawn for someone who doesn’t give a shit about lawns. Why can’t a fella go bald all over at once, is what I’d like to know.

In solidarity I went for a couple nice bike rides in the sunshine while the cats napped in sunny spots. Tough work, but someone had to do it.

MRE-ow

January 12, 2020

“My compliments to the chef. His cooking tastes
much better than his hand.”

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), is a stout fellow and a resolute trencherman.

So when a crook gut puts His Excellency off his feed, as it did Friday evening, it’s a matter of utmost concern for the general staff.

He retired to his quarters, leaving orders not to be disturbed, and stayed abed throughout Saturday, refusing both food and drink.

An expedition to the emergency room was considered, and rejected. He prefers his personal physician, who is unavailable on weekends, and the ER is not a secure facility, especially when His Excellency is being treated. Anything might happen to anyone at anytime. When under stress the grizzled old soldier takes his tactical cues from the late Richard Pryor’s character Mudbone: “If somebody get hurt in here, I ain’t gonna be the last one.”

So we waited.

Finally, come evening, he agreed to take a soupçon of nourishment. An inspection tour of the litter box followed. And after a good night’s sleep, His Excellency greeted the morning with a substantial breakfast and the traditional nip at the hand that feeds him.

Crashed in the feed zone

November 2, 2019

Exhausted by a long morning spent waiting for breakfast, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) commandeers a sunny spot for purposes of R&R.

The cats are getting the old one-two this weekend.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla recovers from a nasty bout of Delayed Meal Syndrome atop the bedroom dresser.

First, Herself has flown off to Florida to visit her mom and eldest sis, which means that reveille and mess call have been bumped from 4 a.m. to a more reasonable hour dictated by the whims of the interim quartermaster, a renowned wastrel, sluggard, and layabout.

Second, Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. tomorrow, which means an additional hour of kip time for staff and more grumbling in the chow line for the cats.

“Unconstitutional! Due process! Coup!” they yowl, baring their fangs, spreading their claws, and hissing like the Devil’s teakettle on full boil.

No, wait, that’s the House Republicans. Another bunch of neutered housecats entirely.

 

Blind

October 15, 2019

Where’s the Turk? He was here just a minute ago, I’d swear it.

After a brief encounter with actual fall weather we’re back to what passes for normal here in the Duke City — heat and homicide.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) returned to his favored observation post upon the battlements, to wit, the ledge of our bedroom window.

His adjutant, Miss Mia Sopaipilla, has been shifting among various cozy spots — atop one of the Twin Towers, across a sun-splashed stretch of carpet next to the living-room coffee table, near the foot of the bed  — and sometimes burrows under the covers, where she adopts her alter ego of Lumpy the Bedbug.

There are worse places to be than astride the saddle of a Vespa on a sunny day.

A fella has to be careful where he sits on the bed when Lumpy’s in residence.

I was able to run in shorts and a T-shirt by 9:30 or thereabouts, chatted productively with a local bicycle retailer (road bikes are out, mountain bikes are in), and late in the day decided to take the Vespa for a spin to charge the battery and keep its vital fluids circulating.

The highlight of the day may have been this little news nugget, from my old hometown of Greality, Colorado. As I sez to one of my old UNC bros, I sez, ’tis often that we were crazed on the auld L-S-Dizzy Back in the Day®, but ne’er e’er did we try to bite a constable in the cojones. We were hopin’ for a nip at the coeds so.

Photobombed

August 31, 2019

“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeO’Grady.”

Jesus. Everybody wants to be in pictures. Even Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), who really is old enough to know better.

I mean, look at him. He thinks he’s still a leading man at an age when he ought to be settling in as a character actor.

And at any rate, these Adventure Cyclist videos are light on parts for blue-eyed white guys who ain’t me. This cat can’t even ride a bike, much less review one.

Of course, they say the same thing about me. But I’m the cat with the camera.