Friday Cat Blogging: Still My Light’s On Edition

Topaz, lovely Topaz, my dear little bear, has a pet peeve: things should not be on top of other things. Still, madame is not unreasonable and has come around to the possible necessity of the cookbooks remaining atop the buffet. The objet to which she objects is a screw from I know not where, which makes me nervous. I keep finding them but that’s not really true, is it? Topaz plainly finds them first. So I am the Christopher Columbus of pre-found screws, and do turkeys get seasick?

In recent weeks, the kittens have become more definitely teenage. The evidence for this is that they seem to be flying past my head quite often and since kittens as a group seldom develop wings I accept that they are leaping prodigiously. While Drusy is no slouch, Topaz’s favorite living room perch is atop my bicycle seat, staring at me – unless Pete’s taller bike is parked next to mine. In that case, my seat is no longer gloriously elevated above all perch-worthy surfaces and will not do! Last night, Pete and I were talking and there was a sudden WHOOSH! Out of the corners of our eyes, we saw the tiny kitten leap panther-like. In a blink, the sweet little nutcase magically transformed into the giant jungle cat. The bicycle wiggled for a moment, then became still. The expression on Topaz’s delicate furry face reminded us we were made of meat.

Topaz: Mrrrrow.
Us: Yes, ma’am!

For her part, Drusy is an enthusiastic cheerleader. The kittens follow me everywhere, as kittens will. When I stand in the kitchen, I hear a small whoosh! as Drusy leaps to the windowsill, crosses the radiator and bounds to the top of the washing machine in an instant. I turn around and we are face to face. Miss likes to kiss, so we do. When I turn back to the sink, ingenious Topaz will be standing on the counter, hoping for yummy fish, on her way to sitting on top of the coffee machine, the highest point in the kitchen on which a cat might perch and issue demands, so she does. Drusy, on the other hand, is very easy to love.

Check out the Friday Ark at The Modulator.

In other news: Bob the actual Corgi nibbles no more. Please show Suzette some love.

My Back Against the Record Machine

I haven’t checked my phone messages in over a week but I can feel my popularity pulsing at the internet phone message center like concentrated evil. Well, maybe not so concentrated. I doubt my popularity has much of an attention span, since Dom’s birthday present languishes in Siobhan’s living room and I haven’t seen Sharkey in over a month. Fortunately, Trout and I are spending some quality time together on Wednesday afternoons. We’re taking a three-week course of private yoga classes with a teacher who almost certainly served in the Israeli Army. I enjoy meditating while trying not to imagine all the ways she could kill me armed only with her bare hands and a stick of gum.

In his own way, Pete is just as much an obsessive fussbudget as I am. He is always mulling things over and thinking up another way or another project, which drives me mad. The words, “You know what we could do?” are my cue to plug my ears and yodel, “I’m not liiiiiistening!” Of course, I am listening. I’m also keenly aware that we both work two jobs and our time together is very limited. One foot in front of the other is the only way we’re embarking on our Iron March to Global Domination, so tap dancing is right out!

It’s Thursday, the day every week when I consider giving up the struggle but don’t. Which struggle? Pick one, I think of it. First thing this morning, I had a talk with me about the litter boxes and admitted I’d been doing a – forgive me! – crappy job of keeping them tidy. Madame Topaz and Mam’selle Drusy have been exceedingly patient with my lapses. Days ago, I walked into the bathroom and realized I was standing in goo and darkness, which I partially fixed by flipping the light switch. Aha! One of the pussycats had barfed up breakfast just inside the threshold. I stuck my foot under the tub faucet and turned on the water full blast. I did not at all hop up and down muttering, “Ew ew ew ew ew” because that would be childish. Then I cleaned it up. Now that I have kittens who knock glass objects off elevated surfaces and yak on my bathroom floor, Swiffer Wet is my best friend.

Sorry, Siobhan!

To Me In Darkness Not In Light

Image: Suspect Device

Scout Prime at First Draft:

The last count of those missing in Louisiana is 135. The number who lost their lives due to the immediate direct result of Katrina is 1723. However a new study looked at the number of people who have died over the course of time yet related to “Katrina” and this would place the toll at 4081 people as of March 2007. More info on this and above figures is available at Robert Lindsay ‘s blog.

You’ll find remembrances all over the blogosphere today, but nobody ties it together like Jill. President Bush visits New Orleans today. I don’t want to sully my karma with futile wishes for poetic justice, but let’s say I wouldn’t be unhappy to see news footage tonight involving a voodoo doll and a backed-up Superdome toilet.

Is There A House Of Hope For Me And You?

The current soap opera on Italian TV – Un medico in famiglia – opened recently with a picture of our sometimes comical patriarch holding a sign: Nonno Libero. Of course, my Italian is for crap so I was left with a problem of interpretation. Did that mean “Free Grandpa!” like, “Attica! Attica!” or, “Grandpa, free to a good home”? In this dark and economically uncertain time, when we’re inexplicably using parent as a verb, we may soon face packs of oldsters on streetcorners bearing signs: Will Grandparent For Food. It’s funny. But it’s not.

A few weeks ago, Daria, shouting at the tops of her lungs so Grandpa could hear her, asked about his new arrangement with Meals On Wheels. This was news to me.

Grandpa: Fine, fine.
Grandpa: A hot meal, three times a week. Those aren’t my favorite nights.

I stiffened. I’ve never heard Grandpa say a bad word about anything, let alone people who take care of him so I was confused. This morning, Daria had answers.

Tata: Promise me no one’s bringing Grandpa baloney sandwiches on white bread.
Daria: No, it’s nothing like that!
Tata: No baloney? No matter how it’s spelled?
Daria: They bring him a hot meal three nights a week. It’s good food. It’s just not his favorite.
Tata: What?
Daria: He says the meatloaf is good, but it’s not his friend Hoagy’s meatloaf.
Tata: You’re saying they don’t specialize in Thai, Italian and Moroccan dishes?
Daria: Yeah. It’s different when we’re there but we can’t always be there.
Tata: This is a veritable bouquet of good news/bad news pairings. It’s good news that someone feeds Grandpa but bad news that he’s not wild about the food. It’s good news that he goes out to the Vets every day but bad news that he goes home alone. It’s good news that he takes care of himself but bad news that we can’t anyway from hundreds of miles away. Christ, I’m depressing myself with this happy news.
Daria: That’s your special charm.

I’m grateful. Somehow gratitude is not enough.

At Midnight, It’s Never Too Soon

He’s patient, but yesterday, he smoked what he says was his last cigarette. He smoked this last cigarette after he bought a pack of gum he planned to chew with extreme prejudice. I tell him, “Dahhhhhhlink, it will be your last cigarette if it is, but if it isn’t you’ll quit when you’re ready.” He’s sure. He’s ready. He won’t hear of it any other way!

Well, okay. While I enjoy the company of a minty-fresh man as much as the next perfumed dame, I’m not applying pressure. He’ll quit when cigarettes taste nasty, feel like an obligation and become a stupid expense – or he’ll buy another pack. In my opinion, he’s not addicted to cigarettes in the first place. Nope. He might smoke three or four a day, and not on any schedule. It’s not a habit. This event’s more like the day an office-holding moron breaks out the dictionary and discovers the pronunciation key. “You mean it’s noo klee r? I hope nobody heard me,” sez our prize-winning twit. For a little while after this satori, the speaker will stumble over the practiced noo ku ler until noo klee r feels natural. And so it can be with quitting for people who are not really addicted. One day, as I did, the not-actually-addicted smoker might simply not light another one. Siobhan, for instance, only smokes when she’s wearing her blue suede shoes to taunt Elvis impersonators. A girl’s got to have her standards.

For actual nicotine addicts, I have no advice. Even I know that a two-pack-a-day habit represents a personal boogie man, boogie man, and I should zip it.

He’s patient with my tantrums, exhaustion, my dumb soap operas and echolalia. He’s pleasant first thing in the morning and pleasant last thing at night. In between, this week, I might try this Be Nice thing people talk so much about.

It’s Too Hot, Too Hot, Babe

Wednesday evening, RAI International News showed images of wildfires in Sicily, where the situation looked bad to me. I don’t understand Italian, but when hillside villages are going up in vivid flames, I can follow the story. So when the report went to the national map and a generous handful of flashing symbols lent the impression that half of Italy and Sicily were en flambe, I was horrified. Still, I am wary of getting emotionally involved in situations where my hovercraft may be full of eels, so I hoped everything would be okay and forgot about it.

This is another story. From the New York Times, in English:

Greece declared a national state of emergency on Saturday as scores of forest fires that have killed at least 46 people continued to burn out of control, leaving some villages trapped within walls of flames, cut off from firefighters and, in some cases, from firefighting aircraft grounded because of high winds.

Desperate people called television and radio stations pleading for help that they feared would not arrive in time.

“I can hear the flames outside my door,” one caller from the village of Andritsena told a Greek television station, according to Reuters news service. “There is no water anywhere. There is no help. We are alone.”

Hear the flames? Oh. My. God.

Firefighters expect the death toll to rise, because they have not yet been able to search some areas that had been overrun by flames. Hardest hit by the fires were a dozen hamlets tucked into the rural highlands around the town of Zaharo in the western peninsula, where at least 12 people, including some who may have been trying to flee by car, were killed. Charred bodies were found in cars, houses and fields in areas around Zaharo, firefighters said.

At least some of the people there were believed to have been killed or trapped after a collision between a fire truck and a convoy of cars apparently trying to flee the flames. Scores of other residents, including elderly and disabled people, remained trapped in their homes, phoning in to local television and radio stations, crying for help.

“Help! Help! Help!” wailed one resident as he spoke with Mega television from the town of Artemida. “Get some one here fast. We’re losing everything.” Minutes later, another caller pleaded for authorities to help save her two children, one of whom she feared was in shock after having seen their home go up in flames.

South of Zaharo, rescue teams confirmed at least six deaths in the seaside town of Areopolis, in the Mani region, a popular tourist destination known for its rugged cliffs and ravines. Among the victims in the area were a pair of French hikers who were trapped in a flaming ravine. Their charred bodies were found locked in an embrace, the authorities said.

I’m fucking speechless. Not this guy.

Late Saturday, Mr. Karamanlis appeared on national television and declared that he was mobilizing all of the country’s resources to tackle the blazes to “prevail in a battle that must be won.” Mr. Karamanlis also suggested that the recent fires might have been purposely set. “So many fires sparked simultaneously in so many regions is no coincidence,” he said, wearing a black tie and suit in a show of mourning. “We will get to the bottom of this and punish those responsible.”

But political opponents accused the prime minister of shunning responsibility for what the authorities have called a “national tragedy.”

“Rather than deflect attention and lay blame on some anonymous arsonist, the prime minister should take blame for the government’s failure to effectively handle this crisis,” said Nikos Bistis, a opposition socialist lawmaker, on local television.

I don’t give a good goddamn about the politics, but I care a whole lot about the suffering that is and will be for a long time to come, and there’s almost nothing I can do about it. Well, I guess there’s this.

You More Than Anyone, Darling

Here at Casa Con Queso, this is a common sight: a pussycat body partially concealed by fabric, often accompanied the telepathic message, “You can’t see me! I am invisibuls!

While I fear the organza curtains may not be long for this world, they were cheaper than half a prom dress so I’m lucky they don’t tear along the bias in one grand demonstration of kitteny joie de vivre. They’re not my grandmother’s drapes, after all. No, we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Everyone’s got a role to play and a job to do. Topaz, seen here takin’ it to Drusy, not at all invisibuls except to the camera. At this point, I’d like to take a moment to excoriate Rodgers and Hart for placing unphotographable in my head while I was a young and impressionable word nerd. They were obviously retcherous human beings, what with their corrupting the language like that.

I took out the camera when Topaz began chirping. This was so unusual a sound I figured whatever came next was bound to be exciting, and it was. The eagle eyes of the six-pound pussycat had spotted a spider, the size of the O on your keyboard, crawling along the crown molding. What followed was a festival of uproarious feline frustration, complete with leaping, flying, chirping and the spider looking unimpressed from her strategic position far from razor-sharp teeth. Audrey will recognize the framed photograph next to said feline. Please know, lovey, I grabbed it before it hit the floor.

Drusy, resting her head on Pete’s feet. They’re nice feet. Drusy taste tests them all the time. I hope it’s a phase. I was on the phone earlier with Mr. Blogenfreude and dancing like Michael Flatley because my toes are evidently delicious and Drusy must eat them! Pictured here, Drusy is not eating toes but guarding them, possibly from the other Kitteny Menace. Either that or she’s sighing and declaring Pete dreeeeeeeeeeamy. She does, you know.

I shamelessly swiped this infodata from Barry at Enrevanche. He is well-informed, you know. This Sunday, the Carnival of the Cats will be hosted by The Scratching Post, and don’t overlook The Modulator’s Friday Ark. Thank you, Barry. Hello, Mr. Gato!

From A Tuesday Point Of View

On Thursdays, I’m full of the festive exhaustion. It’s nothing and I’m not complaining; certainly, I may be the luckiest girl in Puppetland to be able to eke out a decent living while avoiding a colorful stint in the Booby Hatch. Yes, I am among the most fortunate human beings on the planet: almost nobody is attacking me with fresh fruit. Few people bother arguing with me anymore and those that do bring me plastic dinosaurs of apology. Yesterday’s yoga class turned into a two-hour extravaganza, which means tomorrow I’ll hop around, yelping. These apparent contradictions amuse me. Please accept this token of my esteem while I attempt the fandango of the financially solvent, merry in the sunny meadow of overemployment: the Rakes’ catchy little tune about attractive disaster called The World Was a Mess But His Hair Was Perfect.

Someday soon I’m gonna need new shoes, and at least two of them will be red.

A Most Peculiar Way And the Stars

It’s late August, when my job gets more serious and making a living requires focus, which would be great if I were serious or focused. Yesterday, my department head introduced me to the new Library Poobah as “our comic relief.” The new Poobah was young and smiling. I offered to tell her knock-knock jokes. Later, though, I’ll want tribute from her. I’m having a problem with a co-worker who – mysteriously – refuses to consider my happiness. I’ll break out the elephant jokes and ask the new Poobah to deliver a righteous smackdown. I’m focused on that, I guess.

Q: What’s the difference between elephants and plums?
A: Plums are purple.

You and I, we don’t ask much of one another. You want nothing less than the hot, syrupy distillate of my hilarious life in and out of yoga pants, served up in a gleaming vessel you can’t wait to hurl at something. I want you to get to the hurling, because of course it’s all about me. For instance, my co-worker asked me why she eats yogurt, and she is not the first one to ask. Let’s pause a moment while that sinks in.

Q: What does Tarzan say when elephants run through the jungle?
A: “Here come the plums.”
(Tarzan is colorblind.)

I just read a yogurt label to one of my co-workers to explain what she should look for on the next one. We were talking about the sugar content of yogurt, which is just silliness. Yogurt doesn’t need sugar and you’re sweet enough as you are, Sweetie. So there I was, pointing out the little logo that means her yogurt has active cultures and, yes, would help with that women’s problem, and how on earth did I become the person who answers questions when I ask questions all day every day? We can’t know for sure, but it might have something to do with that big box on my desk, and sculpted eyebrows that make me look curious.

Q: What does Jane say when elephants run through the jungle?
A: “Here come the elephants.”

In all humility, I’m only thinking of others when I say my happiness is all that matters. It’s in everyone’s best interest that I get what I want, whatever that is, don’t you agree? Of course you do. I’ll entertain the new Poobah. I’m a giver – practically selfless, even. Now, isn’t there a comment you’d like to fling? In other news: this shining vision may not be safe for work, but it’s some view.

You’re Every Move You Make

As I approached the Flemington roundabouts Friday afternoon, most of the sky turned an ominous charcoal gray – except for one patch blue as teacups. Rain drenched my path but it didn’t matter. The passenger side window was open and the air fresh; it was a pleasure to drive the last few miles to Daria’s and Tyler’s house. Just before I parked in the driveway, the sky opened. Tyler, the house’s sole occupant after everyone else left for Cape Cod days before, loaded dishes into the dishwasher as I stood in the kitchen and shook myself like a sheepdog. About a minute later, a sound like dozens of carpenters attacking the roof with icepicks drove us to the windows, where we saw hailstones the size of marbles knocking over lawn furniture up and down the block. We elected to stay indoors and avoid brain damage. After ten minutes, the hail passed but rain fell in sheets. Getting our two persons and Tyler’s two bags into my Grand Am ended with both of us completely soaked. I could only laugh until we drove through the neighborhoods between us and the highway and surveyed the storm damage.

It’s worth noting that no two people in my family may be as different as Tyler and I are. He was a Marine. I am a tree-hugging pinko. He believes in traditional family roles. I avoid traditional families until after happy hour. He works in insurance. I work for insurance. He is an Ann Coulter fan. My politics are to the left of Gandhi’s. By the time we crossed the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod, he was lecturing about how the unions destroyed American car manufacturing and I was saying the words bullshit and overcompensated management fuckpigs with fervor and frequency. For now, that’s hours into the future and hundreds of miles away. As we drove up Routes 206, then 287, then 87, then 287 again, the rain and trucks blinded us, and somewhere along the way, we missed seeing the entire Tappan Zee Bridge.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the Tappan Zee Bridge but it’s on the biggish side. If someone had misplaced it or left it in his other pants, we were pretty sure we would have heard but neither of us had. Thus, as we were lost in New York State past the section of highway pictured in the MapQuest directions to someplace I’ve been going my entire life, we both thought back to that place near Mahwah, New Jersey where suddenly the road divided and because the weather reduced visibility to a few dozen feet, we’d had no idea why. By then it was too late, and New York State, with its exits more than ten miles apart, was holding us hostage.

The rain cleared slowly as we continued northward and we took the next exit, where we found ourselves in Outlet Mall Hell. Tyler followed signs for an information booth we never saw. We both looked at the printed directions and came to the same conclusion: we had no idea where we were.

Tata: Scout’s honor: I will never again leave for a long trip again with the blessing of Rand McNally. You know, when Paulie Gonzalez was a repo man they had laptops that had detailed satellite maps.
Tyler: I have that and left it on my desk.
Tata: I guess your car has GPS, yes?
Tyler: No. I didn’t think I’d need it.
Tata: Look, you couldn’t have known we’d see hailstones the size of marbles and houses dropping on my sisters. This isn’t your fault.
Tyler: We’re stopping at the New York State Welcome Center and reading their maps.
Tata: Well, okay, but then we have to stop somewhere for coffee. This might take awhile.

Proof that my manicure survived this terrible ordeal.

Staring at the wall map, we chose a route. Actually, I chose a route back to 95 and Tyler said, “Okay, but I still think we should take 84 to Boston and head south.” I don’t know why he let me have my way. We turned right at Danbury and headed southeast for the coastal cities. I was never so pleased to see New Haven in my life. Actually, I’d never been pleased to see New Haven. An hour and a half later than we should have seen it there it was, and it was pleasing indeed. In the meantime, we learned something about New York State: signs on highways that tell you Dunkin’ Donuts are in every inbred, backwoods town are lying.

We stopped where the town consisted of a strip – maybe ten crumbling businesses and some equally ramshackle houses, then – nothing. We looked at each other and tried not to hear the mental banjo music. Tyler turned the car around and we got back on the highway, a little nervous. After that, every exit had a Dunkin’ Donuts sign. It was like each town thereafter was poking us in the eye with a caffeinated stick. Once we crossed the border into Connecticut, we were driving out in the middle of nowhere and nothing and there it was: a gleaming Dunkin’ Donuts along the roadside.

Tata: Jesus Christ, it’s Dunkin’ Donuts!
Tyler: Are we stopping?
Tata: Damn right, we’re stopping.

Tyler beached the car. We unbuckled our seat belts wearily. “Let us console ourselves with melted cheese,” I said. Until this point, our road provisions consisted of Vitamin Water and snap peas. Next thing you know we’re scarfing down Denver omelet croissants with sausage and bacon, and if we could have wedged another artery-clogging dietary disaster onto the bread we would have.

These are steamers we did not dig ourselves. Usually, someone in the family goes clamming and everyone eats. There wasn’t time Saturday morning. Mom picked these up at a local guy’s shop. Grandpa wanted to know who did the clamming and where but Mom didn’t know.

Mom steams the clams with broth, pours broth into individual cups and melts butter in custard cups. You eat the steamers by prying open the shells, peeling off the sock as you peel the clam from the shell, dunk the clam into broth to swish free the sand, then dip it in butter. You’re supposed to drink the broth, too. Then you are very happy and it is worth a seven-hour car ride during which you say to your sometimes unforgiving brother-in-law, “If I told you this story you wouldn’t believe it, would you?” and he says, “No.”