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Abandoned

I didn’t turn the light on in the entryway. Soft light escaping from the kitchen and office let me to see enough. Louie, the cat with can-opener-claws wanted in. In the shadows, I could see Jonah, my grumpy tabby cat’s white bib as she crept along the wall.

Thinking I wasn’t coming, Louie impatiently fastened his claws into the office window screen and pulled, further damaging the wires. I threw open the door and yelled, “Louie, you jerk, stop it!”

Snow was falling and cold wind whistled into the house as Louie dashed in. I jeered, “You big baby! I knew you wouldn’t want to be out long on a night light this!” Glancing back at fat Jonah’s dark shadow, I asked, “Well, I know you like being outside more than Louie. Here’s your chance.”

Jonah crouched down and fearfully ran towards the door as if expecting me to kick her. She skidded to a stop at the threshold. Seeing the snow and feeling the cold wind, she backed away. Keeping as far away from me as possible, she returned to the shadows. Continue reading

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Stupid but Loveable

Leaning back in my desk chair, I took a sip of hot tea and sighed with pleasure. Winter sunshine slanting through the window made my office glow. I faintly heard the peaceful Christmas music of Kenny G and Mannheim Steamroller coming from the dining room stereo. Smiling, I took another sip. I love listening to these instrumentals through mid-January and have joked that they are subliminally Christmas.

Winter-clad goldfinches were busily working over the seeds in the bird feeder outside the office window. Hungry chick-a-dees and nuthatches greedily gobbled from a bag of suet hung nearby. I occasionally heard their squabbling twitters through the window.

An angry meow followed by a low growl made me turn to look at the futon across the room. Shadow, my brainless black and white kitten was trying to capture and bite my older white and black cat Louie’s tail. Addressing the older cat, I sympathized, “That stupid baby just won’t leave you alone, will he?”

Louie gave me a long-suffering stare. He is a mighty adult feline, equipped with can-opener claws, yet all he does when Shadow irritates him is meow angrily and growl. He could easily turn the little jerk of a kitten into strips of rawhide and dried meat snacks, but he doesn’t. The only conclusion is that Louie finds Shadow to be stupid, but loveable. Continue reading

Having a Kitten

I handed a glass of apple ale to Niki. My daughter took a sip and said, “I’ve been meaning to ask…would you like to have a kitten? My neighbors across the road have a mama cat with a litter. They’re giving away the babies.”

Sitting down at the dining room table, I shook my head. “Kittens are fun, but I own a fat, crabby old cat that doesn’t even like the other cat who lives here. That mean old biddy would have a hissy-fit, or as some people would put it, she’d have a kitten, if I brought home another cat!”

Niki persuaded, “Jonah will be fine. She keeps to herself. You said Louie loved Basil, your last kitten.”

“You’ve just mentioned the main reason I don’t want another kitten.” I sadly pointed out, “Basil slipped out of the house one night and I couldn’t get him to come back in. Because that had happened once before and everything worked out, I didn’t worry. Do you remember what happened that night? Basil was hit by a car and died. I’m afraid of having that happen again.”

“You’ve had cats ever since you moved to this house thirty-nine years ago.” Niki protested, “Basil was the only one that has ever got on the road and hit by a car!” Continue reading

Half-Cats

I turned off the highway and onto the road where my house is located. Not a trace of the setting sun remained in the sky. Stars twinkled from a dark-blue, velvety ceiling. A bright sliver of the moon smiled crookedly down upon us. Slowing down to drive the final mile to the house, I told my daughter Tammie, “It’s such a nice summer night. Let’s open the windows and enjoy the night-time smells and sounds.”

We immediately caught the faint scent of a skunk and heard tree frogs croaking friendly greetings to one another. Then the beam of my headlights picked up the reflective eyes of a small creature in the grass alongside the road. I said, “I see a half-cat.”

After taking a sniff of the air my daughter answered with a chuckle, “Half cat, as in half cat and half skunk?”

Glancing over at Tammie with a grin on my face, I said, “No, this creature looks like it is all cat. The skunk we smell is hiding somewhere. I’m calling it a half-cat because it isn’t home and there isn’t a house nearby.”

Sounding perplexed, Tammie questioned, “How does that make it a half-cat?” Continue reading

Vacation Fun

A streak of lightning zig-zagged from one end of the sky to the other end. I counted, “One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.” A loud boom of thunder rattled our cottage.

My daughter Tammie said, “The storm is three miles from here.” Another streak of lighting was followed by thunder two seconds later.

“I said, “The thunder sounds like it bounces back and forth between all the bluffs around us like a ball in a pin-ball machine.”

While a thunderstorm would ruin some people’s vacation, I went to the cottage hoping that we would have a storm during our stay. It was beautiful and my daughter and I enjoyed it very much!

My daughter and I had decided to spend our vacation in a cottage surrounded by a vineyard on the side of a bluff in the driftless area of Wisconsin when we missed the enrollment date for a pilgrimage to Ireland. Untouched by the last glacier that had scoured most of Wisconsin flat, tall bluffs and deep coulees makes the driftless area seem like a beautiful foreign country. Continue reading

Vegetable Shaming

Waves of moist heat enveloped me the minute I opened the back door of my house and stepped out onto the deck. Purring loudly, my two cats Louie and Jonah wove back and forth, rubbing themselves against my legs. Despite their heavy coats of fur, they appeared to love the sticky July weather.

A pair of barn swallows spotted the felines and began a series of low, kamikaze swoops over the carnivores. They had instinctively recognized the cats as evil, baby-eating predators. Despite the risk to themselves they repeated the attack over and over. The swift birds with gorgeous tail feathers that made me think of an arrow’s fletching, chattered and scolded as they dove. All Louie and Jonah would have had to do was raise a paw to catch one. Instead, they stretched out full length on the sun-heated deck planks. I said, “You two are sadists! You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Louie lifted his head and gave me a happy, slow blink. Continue reading

Lucky

Anne leaned forward over the minute kitten in her lap. She was trying to get it to open its mouth to suckle on the nipple of a doll-sized bottle. A silky curtain of her blond hair slid forward, obscuring my view. After a moment, my sixteen-year-old granddaughter leaned back and I saw the small calico kitten that she cradled avidly sucking on the nipple.

I asked, “Have you given the kitten a name yet?”

My granddaughter’s blue eyes glanced up at me as she answered, “Ah…no, not yet. We just call it, Baby Kitty.”

I thought, “It’s just as well that they not name it right away. The chance of this small feline surviving is very slim.” Nodding approval, I said to her, “When you do name it, think about ‘Lucky’.” Continue reading