Saturday, October 7th, 2017

We used to let our cats sleep with us, but after we brought Scooter home from the Dane County Humane Society two Christmases ago, we had to lock them out because Scooter wanted to sleep on our heads.

I don’t like a cat sleeping on my pillow. Anywhere else but my pillow is okay, but for whatever neurotic reason is buried deep in my hind brain, I get squicked out by cats on my pillow. It might have something to do with waking up with a cat butt parked next to my face. Ew.

My Darling B doesn’t mind having a cat on her pillow, but Scooter isn’t satisfied by just curling up on top of her head and going to sleep. He also wants to shove his nose in her ear and purr loudly while kneading the back of her neck with his razor-sharp talons. This, for obvious reasons, does not fly with B.

So we locked him out, which meant that we also had to lock Boo out. I felt bad about that, because she never bothered us. Well, she never bothered me. She usually sleeps curled up next to B’s butt, and I’m okay with that, but B says she’s like a hot-water bottle, and B doesn’t need a hot-water bottle. I’d like that, but I like sleeping under five or six layers of quilts.

The downside of locking Scooter out is that he usually scratches at the door in the middle of the night, whining to be let in. B can sleep through that. I can’t, so I have to lie there, wide awake, until he gives up and goes away, and then I have to lie there a while longer until I fall asleep again, or until the alarm clock starts to bleep, whichever comes first.

So it was either let him in and get squicked out when I woke up and found his butt parked on my pillow, or lock him out and lose an hour or more of sleep a night. Waking up with a cat butt in my face was worse, I figured, so we kept locking him out.

My job required me to hit the road almost every week starting in July. I drive to the farthest reaches of Wisconsin, so far away that I sometimes have to stay there overnight before driving back. When I’m gone overnight, B lets the cats into the bedroom at night, to keep her company. Scooter still climbs up on her pillow at night to knead her neck and give her a wet willie with his cold nose, and Boo still curls up right next to her and turns up her thermostat until she’s red-hot, but B seems to think the comfort of having the cats in bed with her is worth it. Oddly, Sparky does not feel the need to crawl into bed to join the party.

Just to see what this was like myself, I left the bedroom door open last weekend. I figured I wouldn’t lose any more sleep than I would when Scooter came scratching at the door, and if he planted his butt in my face, I’d just scoop him up and chuck him out. He’s got white fur; he’s not hard to find in the dark. To my amazement, I slept through the night. Best night of sleep I can remember having in a long time. When I mentioned this to My Darling B, she said something like, “Sure, ’cause Scooter and Boo were all over me all night.” I said we could go back to closing the door if she wanted. She said it was up to me, so I left the door open again, and again I slept through the night. *bliss!*

And they’ve been sleeping with us ever since. Sparky still doesn’t climb into bed with us. I’m still not sure why. He’s probably just used to sleeping on the sofa, but I get the feeling that if he ever does decide to join us and discovers just how warm it is, especially in winter, that’ll be the last time he sleeps alone.

sleepy time | 9:57 am CDT
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Saturday, February 11th, 2017

I have a deep laceration down the inside of my left index finger and it’s still pretty fresh, so typing this is a dicey proposition. I’m going to give it my best shot, but if one of the upcoming sentences trails off with an “aarrrrgghhhhh…” you’ll know why.

I’ve actually got three lacerations on my left index finger, now that I’m looking at it. Just the one is deep and painful enough that can feel it every time my finger lands on a key, though. The other two are days old and barely broke the surface.

Taking stock even further, there’s another cut on the knuckle of my left middle finger, a stab wound on my right index finger, and two lacerations on the outside of my right pinky. These were all a gift from the otherwise enjoyable company of the kitten we invited into our home a month and a half ago. He’s a lot of fun to play with, because when we’re playing I can avoid his claws. It’s when he comes out of nowhere that I end up bleeding and howling in pain.

Tying my shoes in the morning was his favorite time to ambush me. I would usually sit on the sofa to put my shoes on and he would be waiting under the coffee table. The first time he did that, I thought it was funny, but only because he didn’t draw blood. The second time was pretty painful. Those claws are sharp as ginsu knives. There hasn’t been a third time because I don’t put my shoes on while sitting anywhere near the coffee table or any other hiding places now.

He launches his second most effective ambush from under the kitchen drawer where I stack up the Pyrex bowls, bolting out from under cover of the table or from behind the fridge just as I’m opening it up. Our last encounter was so devastating that I leave him locked up in another room while I’m unloading the dishwasher.

He’s going to grow out of this behavior some day. I’m not going to miss it for a second.

lacerated | 6:22 am CDT
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Sunday, January 1st, 2017

I left a bag of poop on somebody’s desk. That’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that.

My Darling B even helped me. I asked her to get a ziplock bag for me and hold it open while I dumped poop into it. She did. So if I get thrown under the bus for this, I’m taking her down with me.

It was my cat’s poop. And we bagged it because the vet asked for it. So in the end it wasn’t like I was doing something weird, although the part about leaving it on the desk was my idea. There wasn’t anybody at the reception desk when I opened the door to the vet’s office and stepped into the lobby. The lobby was empty, too, and the desk remained unattended even after I shuffled around and cleared my throat several times.

The door to the offices in the rear of the shop was open. I stepped into the short hallway beyond it, stopped and listened. It was completely still.

“Hello?” I called out. No answer. “Hello?” Still no answer. I stepped back out into the lobby.

A postman came in, said hello to me, dropped a handful of envelopes in a basket on the desk, and left. He was a big guy. He made a lot of noise. Surely, I thought, somebody in the back heard him come and go. But if they did, they made no response at all.

I returned to the open door to the back offices and knocked. “Hello?” Nothing.

So I went back to the desk, grabbed a post-it note and a pen, wrote my name and phone number on the note and stuck it to the bag of poop. I left the poop on the desk, and I went home. About halfway home I wondered if it was somehow a violation of municipal code to leave a bag of poop on somebody’s desk, but I decided that if it was, I was going to fall back on the “they asked for it” defense.

Not five minutes after I got home, I got a call from a technician at the vet’s office who let me know, laughing a little bit as she did, that she found the poop on her desk and put in in a fridge for testing later. So no jail time in the future for me, at least not for this.

i gave them poop | 12:01 am CDT
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Monday, December 26th, 2016

Oh my god this new cat sinks. Walking into his room is like being hit in the face with a fresh cow pat. The alchemy in his guts that turns water and kibble into mustard gas is something the military should probably check out.

For many years, we have relied on our cats to tell us what their names are, rather than just giving them whatever cool-sounding name popped into our heads. Bonkers got his name because he liked to butt his head against us when saying hello, and also because he was a little howling-at-the-moon crazy. (Literally.) Boo poked her face out from beyond the stuff she was hiding behind. She didn’t say “boo,” but she implied it. Scooter is a bit of a doofus, the kind of personality you’re talking to when you begin your retort, “Listen, Scooter …”

This new guy seems to be telling us he will be called Stinky. From day one, he has been sending up smoke signals, so to speak. My Darling B is not in agreement with me on this. Neither does she agree that his name might be Fart, Poop, Stench, Miasma, Musty, Toxic, or Peppy le Pew. And she herself suggested Peppy le Pew, but then immediately vetoed it.

She is also against Fragrant, Flower, or any sarcastic variation thereof.

So I don’t know what his “official” name eventually will end up being, but I’m very confident that, whatever name he eventually gets, his nickname will probably always be Stinky. At least, that’s what I’m going to call him.

stinky | 7:00 am CDT
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Monday, August 29th, 2016

I crept slowly through the living room this morning with my phone held low in one hand, scanning the floor with the light from its screen, looking for the carcass of the mouse that I heard Scooter murdering in the early hours before my alarm went off. Didn’t see it, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t somewhere outside the little glowy patch of light from my phone, and on top of that my eyes are pretty bleary at five in the morning. I made a mental note to look again when all the lights were on, and get My Darling B to help.

As I got ready for my shower, I noticed mouse poop all over the bottom of the tub. Made sense. For whatever reason, Scooter likes to crawl into the tub to play with his toys, so if he caught a mouse it wouldn’t be unexpected at all for him to take it to his playground to bat it around a while. I rinsed the poop out of the tub, then climbed in and turned to close the shower curtain. I was more than a little surprised to discover I was being watched.

Two beady little black eyes were peering out at me from the upper folds of the curtain. I only had to shift a little to the left or right to catch sight of the little brown blob of fur behind the eyes. Little bugger must’ve run up the curtain to escape from Scooter. If Scooter didn’t run up after it, that only meant Scooter didn’t twig to the idea that the mouse went up. If he had, that shower curtain would’ve been hanging there in shreds, or he would’ve pulled it down to the floor.

The mouse made no move to get away, thank goodness. I wasn’t moving very fast yet, and neither was my brain. I thought at first that I might catch it in a plastic bag, but five seconds later I thought that was as stupid an idea as any I’ve ever come up with and forgot about it. Then I thought maybe I could hit it with a blunt object, figuring I had a reasonably good chance of hitting it, and if I didn’t kill it outright, I would probably stun it and get at least one more shot at it. Trouble with this idea was, I couldn’t find a blunt object in the bathroom suitable for clubbing a mouse to death.

While I was searching the hall closet, my eyes feel on the vacuum cleaner. I’ve sucked up some pretty big objects with that vacuum cleaner. In point of fact, I’ve accidently sucked up lots of the stuffed toy mice that B buys from the pet store. There must be a half-dozen of those under the cedar chest. If the vacuum can suck one of those up, surely it can suck up a real mouse, which is probably a lot more flexible than a stuffed mouse made of felt.

Only one way to find out.

The mouse still made no move to get away as I plugged the vacuum cleaner in, rolled it over to the end of the bathroom where the shower curtain was, and posed with the hose in my hand, like a sprinter in the blocks getting ready to jump. Totally wasted effort. When I switched on the vacuum and jabbed at the mouse with the end of the hose I aimed a little low and ended up sucking a whole bunch of shower curtain into the hose instead of the mouse, which just sat there, patiently waiting for me to go away, as I pulled the curtain out of the hose. When I switched the vacuum back on, I brought the hose down from above this time and found the bullseye on the first pass. *schlup!* went the mouse, disappearing from view so suddenly it was like watching a visual effect from a 1970 TV show.

I hesitated a moment before plucking the bag out of the vacuum, because the last thing I wanted was to be chasing a dusty mouse all over the house at five o’clock in the morning. The experience of being suddenly ingested by a household appliance must’ve stunned it into a coma, though, because it didn’t move at all as I yanked out the bag and sealed up the hole with packing tape. Then all I had to do was make a quick trip out to the garbage can in my underwear, and I was done cleaning up that mess.

from on high | 6:01 pm CDT
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Saturday, June 4th, 2016

And now it’s time for a quick roundup of how the cat’s training is coming along: It’s not. He let me sleep in on Wednesday morning, and by “sleep in” I mean that he didn’t wake me up several times in the wee hours of the morning, but instead let me sleep until my alarm started to bleep. Every other day this week, he pawed and scratched at the door, whining to be fed, or to be let in, or whatever the hell he’s whining about. Ignoring him has not made a bit of difference one way or another, in spite of the advice I’ve read on web sites devoted to training your cat, because cats cannot be trained. I was a fool to think they could be.

“Are you gonna kill him?” B asked me this morning.

“Can I?” I responded, testing the seriousness of that question.

“Of course not,” she answered, popping that bubble with finality.

“Then why did you offer it up as an option?”

“Because I thought you’d see how ridiculous it is.”

“Although I acknowledge that it’s wrong, I wouldn’t say it’s ridiculous.”

“Okay, wrong, then.”

I was never going to kill him, although I frankly admit I have fantasized about the kind of Rube Goldberg devices I could rig up outside our bedroom door to stop him from scratching it, and one of them has a grand piano suspended from a string.

a grand piano | 8:37 am CDT
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Sunday, January 24th, 2016

I see I haven’t told the story of the exploding cat yet. I think I’ll tell it now. Don’t worry, he didn’t literally explode. He only made a noise like an explosion, and then only with the help of a big plastic bottle. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We have a problem with mice. I set out traps for them wherever I find their dirty little calling cards, and I try different kinds of traps to see if any of them work better than the others. A month or two ago, I was trying out a kind of trap that’s just a shallow plastic tray filled with peanut-scented sticky goo. It’s like a fly strip, but for mice. And it works pretty well. I laid out a bunch of them in the basement and caught three or four mice that way, but to use them I had to keep the cats locked out of the basement, because obviously I didn’t want to be faced with the difficult situation of trying to peel one of those sticky things off a cat.

That’s a pretty significant down side, so I stopped using that particular kind of trap, except for in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. We were having a lot of trouble with mice there last month, so I set up a whole bunch of traps down there, and one of the traps I used was a sticky gooey trap because it was handy and I knew it worked. We kept the cabinet shut all the time, so I didn’t think it would be a problem, and for a couple weeks, it wasn’t.

But there’s always that one time that you forget to shut the door, isn’t there? And the weekend before last was one of those times. My Darling B and I were at the kitchen table, where we just happened to be making vacation plans, so we were in a very good mood, very relaxed, when all of a sudden B jumped out of her seat, shouting, “DAVE! DAVE! DAVE!” as she took a few steps toward the kitchen.

At the same time that she jumped, I heard a godawful racket explode from the kitchen that sounded like a kid beating a big, thick stick against a plastic garbage can. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! I didn’t twig right away to what was making the noise, but I could see a black and white blur spinning around on the floor in the kitchen, and I had to watch that for only a second or two before my brain figured out that part of that blur was a cat, and the other half was … a bottle of bleach? How did the cat get tangled up with a bottle of bleach?

It might seem like an odd question to ask yourself at the moment when your cat is throwing himself around the room so violently that it seems entirely possible that he’ll break bones and furniture, but here’s why it actually makes sense: If the cat’s freaking out because he’s tangled up with a big plastic bottle of bleach, then before I risk almost certain laceration by grabbing him, I should have at least an idea how to disentangle him. See? Perfectly logical.

Being logical didn’t help, though. Even after I realized that one of his feet was stuck to the sticky gooey mouse trap, which was stuck to the bleach bottle, I came up with exactly zero options for dealing with the situation. I had realized from the start that using those things around the cats was risky, but I never came up with a plan for peeling one off a cat.

And the thought never crossed my mind that the cat would freak out like a great big freakout thing if they got stuck to one of those gooey traps. I think he was mostly scared that he was being followed around by a big plastic bottle that he couldn’t get away from no matter how fast he ran. And he ran very fast, making a couple quick circles in the kitchen before he dashed out into the dining room, weaving between the chairs where we finally stopped him, pinned him down and hauled him out by the scruff of the neck.

Then what? As I said, I had no ideas for getting the sticky thing off him. B tried to pull it off, but the sticky stuff wouldn’t let go. She pulled hard enough to stretch a long, snotty-looking string from the cat’s foot to the tray, but that only freaked the cat out even more. We almost lost our grip on him as he kicked his foot and fought us both to get away. B shouted for me to get a scissors. I think she wanted to cut the gooey stuff off, but I was afraid the cat would be gone in a flash when I let go.

While I waffled, B tried one more time to pull the cat off the sticky trap with brute force. She must have weakened it the first couple of times she pulled, or her superhuman strength finally kicked in. Whichever it was, she freed the cat. He wasn’t entirely happy about it, but the plastic bottle wasn’t part of his foot any more, so he at least calmed down a bit. What he really wanted to do at that point was retreat to a corner and lick his foot, and we would have been happy to let him if there hadn’t been a gob of sticky stuff gunking up the pads of his feet.

From somewhere in the kitchen, B fetched a bottle of Goo Gone, because she’s the one with the brain that doesn’t seize up when things go all pear-shaped. She unscrewed the cap and dumped about half the bottle on the cat’s foot, which dissolved the sticky stuff like magic. We spent the next ten minutes or so swabbing Goo Gone out of the cat’s fur with a damp cloth, and with nothing stuck to his foot, he stayed calm enough to let us do it.

Weirdly, he went right back into the cabinet under the sink the next time he found the door open, so he either has some sort of traumatic brain injury that wiped the event from his memory, or he doesn’t care that he might get a bleach bottle stuck to his foot because he figures we’ll take care of it.

exploding cat | 7:37 am CDT
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Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

So on my way to bed last night I stopped by the bathroom to have a bedtime piddle, and on the way out I noticed the puddle under the door to the closet where we hide the litter pan. If I hadn’t noticed it, I would have gone to bed blissfully unaware of yet another of Bonkers’ increasingly frequent transgressions. But I noticed it, so I went to bed with the lingering memory of cat pee dripping from my fingers. Yuck.

Then, at three o’clock this morning, I woke up to the hork-hork-hork of Boo yakking up a hairball somewhere on B’s side of the bed. Grabbing my phone off the bedside bookcase, I levered myself out of bed with a sigh and gingerly crept around from my side of the bed, carefully scanning the floor with the light from my phone’s screen, hoping against hope that I found it with my eyes first and not my toes. Which I did, thank goodness. After cleaning up that mess, I went back to bed with yet another lingering memory I could have done without.

But it wasn’t over. Apparently awakened by all the activity, Bonkers dropped off the bed, positioned himself by the door and began to whine for his breakfast. For real.

lingering | 6:26 am CDT
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Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

*doint!*

AUTOPILOT ON

if {system-time = x:00 and bladder = full}
wake; do {void-bladder}
while cats=[tripping-hazard]
get [the-food]; feed [the-cats]
return [the-food]
return {sleep}
else {sleep}

ERROR AT LINE 5

Wait, what? No, that can’t happen. I was on autopilot. I must’ve put the cat food back.

Yeah. It’s got to be in the fridge, I just don’t remember it. Yeah. I don’t remember putting it back at all. Dammit. Dammit dammit dammit! Well, I’m not getting up again. I’m staying right here in my nice, warm bed. The cats got what they wanted and, if they’re as smart as they act sometimes, they’ll figure out there’s an open can of cat food on the counter top and take care of the problem for me. I’m not getting out of bed. [Monologue edited for brevity; it goes on for almost an hour. -ed.]

LATER, WHILE I’M MAKING COFFEE: What’s that can of cat food doing there?

error | 9:48 am CDT
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Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Let’s see, how does this work? Oh, yeah: Wake up too early, make coffee, cat on my lap, type up some drivel.

Mmmm, coffee. Gone back to making it drip. Still like my coffee gadgets, but drip is the way to go. That’s my official word on that. Take it to the bank. Tell ’em I said so.

Man, this granola is the best thing ever. I buy it in the bulk food section of the co-op. Supposed to be good for you. They sell lots of locally-produced, organically-grown food, but this looks like the kind of stuff that comes from a 55-gallon barrel shipped from China by container ship. Don’t care. Has a nutty, vanilla flavor that is now permanently associated in my brain with granola. All other granola tastes like gravel.

Cat is purring like a diesel engine. He can keep it going for hours, but if he starts to fade all I have to do is stroke his chin and he cranks the volume up to eleven again. He won’t purr for nothing. Got to give him a chin-rub, or at the very least let him climb in my lap. Did you know cats are the reason laps were invented? It’s true. If you have a lap, you need a cat.

wakey-wakey part mcmlxiv | 5:02 am CDT
Category: Bonkers, coffee, daily drivel, food & drink, sleeplessness | Tags: ,
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Thursday, March 21st, 2013

And now, because I like it, and because Bonkers just now struck a similarly evocative pose:

chat noir | 8:42 pm CDT
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Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

In spite of daylight savings time I was in bed by nine last night and couldn’t keep my eyes open past nine-thirty, so why am I awake at four o’clock this morning? Well, part of it is because we have cats, of course, but it’s also because I woke up gasping for air after my sinuses blocked up. I can’t blame the cats for that.

Wait, why can’t I? I can blame the cats for virtually anything. They’re defenseless! They can’t speak for themselves and there’s no one to speak for them! I can lay blame with impunity! They are guilty! Guilty, guilty, GUILTY! Bwah-hah-hah-hah!

Okay, the cat-blaming’s out of the way.

I made a pot of coffee, fired up the internet and started surfing. Ironically, caffeine turned out to be an unclogger of sinuses. After just a few sips I was able to take deep breaths again without being forced to gasp … and then I had to grab most of the kleenex out of a nearby box to wipe up the torrent of snot that was clogging me up until the caffeine, or something, set it loose. Rarely have I ever been so relieved and so disgusted at the same time.

Although I could finally breathe easy, going back to bed after I’ve had a cup of coffee would be pointless. It was an immutable fact of the universe that I was up for the day. There was no more shuteye in my future, only a shower and some breakfast instead. In the words of Peter Green, Oh Well.

ramblin | 5:03 am CDT
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Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Among the things I will not be doing this morning is shoveling the driveway, even though I set my alarm clock to go bleepity-bleep-bleep a half-hour earlier than usual because the all-knowing National Weather Service said there was supposed to be somewhere between five and twelve inches of snow on the ground this morning. The driveway’s on the ground. So is our car. And when our car is separated from the driveway by twelve inches of snow, it doesn’t take us to work in the morning.

That’s why I gave myself an extra half-hour to shovel it all off this morning. It was a brilliant plan, except that, when I peered blearily out the window at the driveway this morning, there was no more snow on it or the rest of the ground than there was when I went to bed last night. Relieved, I went back to bed, reset my clock and burrowed into the bedcovers, where I laid for five blissful minutes until the cats began to dance on my head.

forecast | 5:30 am CDT
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, O'Folks, sleeplessness, work | Tags: , , ,
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Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Bonk found the sunny spot in the kitchen.
BonkNap

nap | 9:51 am CDT
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Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Okay, seriously, I’m begging you for suggestions here: How do I stop a cat from waking me up in the morning? I’ll try just about any non-lethal method you suggest that doesn’t involve broken bones or blood.

I thought I’d come up with a pretty good method myself: Feed them both just before bed and leave a bowl of kibble out for them. It’s worked so far, but they must’ve gotten awfully peckish last night because the bowl was empty when Boo-Boo got me out of bed this morning at four-thirty.

And before you ask: A twelve-pound cat can absolutely make a grown man get out of bed. If you don’t believe this, you’ve never tried to sleep in the same room with a cat who is determined to get you out of bed.

There’s no way to herd them out of the room when they wake me up; they just hide in a dark corner and wait for me to go put food in their bowls, so this morning I resorted to the old trick of getting out of bed and walking toward the kitchen. They go running past me when I’m about halfway across the living room, at which point I turn around and go back to bed, shutting the door behind me. That buys me about ten more minutes of sleep, maybe fifteen, until they start scratching on the door.

B wants me to throw them in the basement when they do that. It’d probably work, but it sounds about as easy as, well, herding cats. I want a method that doesn’t require much conscious thought or effort, because, remember, it’ll be about four o’clock in the morning and I’ll be hitting on three cylinders. Ideally, I’d like somebody or something to chase the cats out of the room for me, but I don’t see that happening unless I get a puppy.

scratch | 6:28 am CDT
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Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Poor B had a stuffy nose that woke her up this morning. I had a cat that woke me up. If I had to pick one, I guess I’d take the cat. If the cat wakes me up, at least I don’t feel like I’ve been smothered with a pillow, unless the cat wakes me up by parking on my face. None of our cats do that, thank goodness. None of our surviving cats. Kidding. I have never snuffed a cat. Wanted to, many times, dreamed of it, particularly when they won’t let me sleep at night, but never done it.

Last night, just after lights out, one of them, probably the fat one, came creeping into the room, probably stalking the skinny one, because they launched into a flurry of chasing each other across the house, but just before they did, the stalker stepped on the loose floor board in front of the bedroom closet and the creaking noise it made sounded exactly like the tippy-toe approach of the axe murder. I jerked my head up off the pillow to look but of course nobody was there. Seeing that nobody is there is almost worse than seeing the axe murderer. If it’s not the axe murderer, it could be the monster under the bed! Or a ghost! Or a swarm of killer cockroaches!

Then the cats went on their crazy tear and I started counting the minutes until they settled down.

Story time: My dad lived on a farm when he was a boy. This was during the depression of the 1930s. His dad was out of a job and his mom’s family had a big farm where they went to live for a while. Like any farm, they had lots of feral cats roaming the place. There were so many cats that they became a nuisance and had to be culled from time to time. One day, my dad was handed a burlap sack stuffed full of kittens and a big rock and told to take it down to the bridge and drop it in the river. I guess he walked all the way down to the bridge with the sack but couldn’t bring himself to do the deed, having to listen to those kittens mew and cry the whole time from being stuck in that bag. As Grandma told the story, she found him standing on the porch in tears, sobbing sorry, sorry, sorry, as he handed the sack back to her.

cat story | 8:42 am CDT
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Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Bonkers, cat, cat bath, bathA Bonkers Update:

B gave Bonkers a bath today, his first in seven or eight years. The boys gave him a bath shortly after we brought him home from the pet shelter in Misawa. I can’t remember why he needed a bath then. B gave him a bath today because he’s gone a little off. The old boy has some trouble swallowing these days so he gets to eat soft canned food all the time now, which not incidentally makes it easier for me to give him his medicine. All I have to do is crush the tablets with a spoon and mix them up with the brown goo he loves to eat so much.

He may have trouble eating and seeing, but he hasn’t given up grooming himself. Trouble is, he likes to groom himself immediately after eating, and because he has trouble swallowing he usually has quite a bit of food in his mouth still, so he ends up smelling a lot like cat food and, after a couple days, like cat food gone bad. Hence, the bath.

B was prepared for him to put up a struggle but he gave up without a fight, let her put him in a big plastic bucket and soap him up, then rinse him off. He seemed resigned to getting it over with, but he seemed to know when it was done and didn’t want put up with a lot of fussing as we tried to towel him all over. He just wanted to go hide in a corner and lick himself some. B still made him sit in her lap anyway while she brushed him and patted him dry.

He’s all nice and fluffy and clean now and smells not at all like a dish of tuna that’s been sitting out for too long.

Bonkers update | 3:38 pm CDT
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Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Bonkers the pirate catThe end of my thumb is bloody gash after Bonkers slashed it open the other night, so I have to type very gingerly right now. Just FYI, in case I suddenly run out of the room to apply a bandage or something.

The old boy is crazy about a cat treat called Pounce. He’s already learned where we keep it, so whenever we go anywhere near that cabinet he trots over right quick and sits looking up at us with great big eyes. Well, one eye is always big, but we can still tell when he gets great big eyes by the way he uses the other one.

So I was making him dance for his treats by dangling them over his head. When his targeting computer came on, which I could tell from the way the pupil dilated all the way open in his good eye, I’d drop the treat and he’d bat it out of the air as it fell, then chase it across the room. Fun!

The last one I gave him, though, I waited a little too long before deciding to drop it. He didn’t want to wait, so he jumped up and tried to bat it out of my hand. He usually pulls his punches, but he also gets a little crazy where food’s involved so he didn’t bother to retract his claws. One of them was sharp as a flensing knife, and he was about as careful with it as any other teenager would have been.

I spent the next ten minutes trying to get the bleeding to stop, and the ten minutes after that trying to find a Band-Aid but, as usual, the only ones we had were big enough to cover a cannonball wound. Cutting one of those in half worked.

gashed | 5:32 am CDT
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Monday, November 19th, 2012

Bonkers is still plugging along in spite of whatever’s wrong inside his head, but the going’s starting to get a little rough. The poor guy has been having trouble swallowing for a while, occasionally leaving little puddles of drool around the water bowl and food dishes, but the problem, whatever it is, has been getting worse in the past week or so. He seems to be losing muscle control and can choke down solid food only with a lot of effort.

I’ve stopped leaving kibble for him because he makes such a mess of it. He has to scoop up the kibble with his jaw, then lift his head and snap at it, getting most of the kibble down his throat but throwing quite a lot of it around the room. Most of it stays in the corner of the dining room where the cat dishes are, but I’ve found bits of spittle-soaked kibble as far away as the bedroom floor beside Bonk’s cat bed.

He has a much easier time with soft canned food, so we’ve made the switch. That’s all he gets now, unless he decides to raid Boo’s dish after he’s done with his own food and still feels a bit peckish, which is just about all the time.

This morning, for instance, Boo followed me to the kitchen and tangled herself up in my feet while I was trying to wash out the coffee carafe and grind the beans, so I measured out a little kibble for her to get her out of my hair. After ten minutes or so, Bonkers came out to be fed, too. He doesn’t do the feet-tangly-up thing, he just sits in his corner and glowers at me. Food. Now.

I spooned out some soft food for him after putting the kettle on to boil, set it down in his spot, then switched on the radio and stood by the sink to listen to the morning news. Gradually, I became aware that Boo was staring at me. It’s a little unnerving to have a cat stare at me, so I stared back at her to make her look away. It turned out she wasn’t staring, really. She was giving me the most quizzical look. Then, when the question had clearly been posed, she glanced down at her dry kibble, then back at me. What the hell? So I gave her a little dab of wet food, too, just so she wouldn’t feel cheated. She was happy with that.

After she was done, Bonkers came over to see if she left any in her dish but, finding none, he gamely tried to snatch up what little kibble was left. Most of it ended up on the floor.

spittle | 6:39 am CDT
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel | Tags: , ,
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Monday, November 5th, 2012

The other night, B opened a kitchen drawer and discovered that the mousies in Our Humble O’Bode have been going to the trouble of climbing all the way up to the top drawers to run around on the utensils and chew on the corks. She didn’t find an actual mouse, but she did find a whole bunch of their little calling cards in the corners of the drawer.

Up to this point she’s been absolutely humane when it came to the treatment we gave the mice we trapped under the sink. They all had to be caught live in traps that wouldn’t hurt them, and we had to let them go in the park, but since she found out the dirty little buggers have been dancing on her kitchen utensils, she’s done a complete one-eighty.

“I’ll kill the next mouse I see!” she promised as she emptied the drawer of every knife and tong to clean it out.

I looked up from the paper I was reading and asked, “Does that mean I can just kill them from now on? Do I still have to bother with live traps, or walking down to the park to let them go?”

She didn’t want to agree to that, but she wouldn’t say I couldn’t do the little buggers in. “Don’t tell me what you do with them,” was all she would say.

So I guess I’ll feed them to the cats from now on. I know a certain tabby who loves an occasional fat, tasty mouse.

rodentia | 9:33 pm CDT
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Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Bonkers sucked all the heat out of his cat bed heater. I’m not sure how he did that. From what little I know about electricity and stuff, the juice is supposed to keep coming out of the wall socket for as long as I have the thing plugged in, but Bonkers seems to have violated the laws of physics, or overdrawn his electron account. The thing was nice and warm for a month or two, then it went stone cold.

Twice. He sucked the life out of the first one we got him and I wasn’t happy that he went back to sleeping on my head, so we got him another one and in just a couple months he killed that, too. Two heating pads were enough to get him almost all the way through the winter, though, with just a few weeks of chilly evenings when he would sneak into the bedroom early and curl up on Boo’s bed, which went on being warm. Sometimes she’d let him sleep on it all night but sometimes she wouldn’t. She probably knew he’d steal all heat from hers, too, if she didn’t chase him out of it.

When winter weather returned and Our Humble O’Bode began to get a little frosty around the edges at night, Bonk climbed right back into bed with us, having no warm bed of his own, and could not be persuaded to sleep anywhere else, not with a polite nudging, not by not-so-politely shoving him, not by picking him up and dropping him at the foot of the bed. He’d wait until we were settled and starting to drift off to sleep again, then tiptoe his way back up to his favorite spot between our shoulders and wedge himself there, stealing all the goddamn covers.

Until Tuesday when the new cat bed heater that I ordered after spending too many sleepless nights was waiting under the mailbox when we pulled into the driveway after work. I got a tingly feeling all over from opening that box. It was just like early Christmas. Couldn’t even wait until after dinner to unpack it and stuff it into Bonk’s cat bed. I wanted that thing toasty warm before the house started to cool off.

Worked like a charm. He was a little upset at first when I picked him up and plopped him in his cat bed. I suppose he assumed that, because it was not Boo’s bed, it was not going to be as warm as he expected it to be, but he caught on almost right away that things were different and was curled up like a big rollie-pollie soon enough. I made sure I got the king-sized bed warmer this time, big enough for a dog, really, so it should take him at least six months of round-the-clock cat naps to suck the life out of this one.

OMFG more drivel about cats? | 1:04 pm CDT
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Friday, October 26th, 2012

I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to keep living with cats. Sure, they’re cute enough when they’re kittens. After they grow up they can still be cute, but — and here’s the important thing — only when they want to be. And when they don’t want to be, they can make life a hell on earth.

How can a teensy-tiny widdow-bitty moggie do something like that, you ask? First of all, stop talking like that. I’m not going to discuss this if you’re going to talk like that.

Let me give you an example: One of our cats dances on my face when she gets hungry in the wee small hours. Okay, not on my face, to be technically accurate about it. She’s not even really dancing, if you want to go on splitting hairs. What she does in the very early hours is jump up on one side of the bed, bounce across it to the other side of the bed, then jump off. And she’s not at all careful about not landing on me when she bounces. Once she’s off the bed, she hides out in a dark corner of the room, waiting for me to get up and feed her. Which I do. I know you think you would stubbornly refuse to get up, on principle, but I’m sorry, I just don’t believe you would be able to go back to sleep any more than I would when you know there’s a cat waiting to jump on your nuts.

She was doing this all last week at about four o’clock in the morning. Her robotic feed dish was programmed to give her a fresh serving at four-thirty, but a little while back she apparently decided that wasn’t early enough for her. Took me a whole week to get sick of waking up with a cat jumping on me, but I finally reprogrammed the robot to dump some food for her at four o’clock instead of four-thirty.

Well, guess what happened this morning at five till four?

Cats. Why do we have them?

why do we have them? | 6:15 am CDT
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Saturday, October 20th, 2012

image of kitty crock smashed all to bitsThe Kitty Kibble Crock has dished up its last serving of cat chow. It has given us many years of long, illustrious service, but its time to retire has finally come.

I stumbled into the dining room early this morning to scoop out a couple helpings of kibble so the cats would let me go back to bed in peace, but I fumbled the lid as I was putting it back and dropped it into the crock, smashing it to little bits.

I’ve dropped it before, cracking it in half, or breaking off an ear, but up until now I’ve been able to glue it back together so it could return, scarred but whole, to its rightful place and continue to keep the cats from eating themselves sick right out of the crock. There’s no gluing it back together this time, though. That sucker’s a goner.

cracked | 9:02 am CDT
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Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Okay, I’m up too early on a Saturday, but how else am I going to experience the maximum wonderfulness that is the weekend? A guy’s got to start early or he’s going to miss something.

And I owe my early rising once again to the cats, of course. The oldest one parked his fat blob of a butt right between my shoulder blades. Took him about ten minutes to do it, not because he’s a fat blob but because he’s always taken that long to find just the right position that will satisfy his feline needs, one of which must be to make sure I’m awake by the time he finally settles in and goes to sleep. Maybe there’s some kind of somnambulistic transfer going on there. I should contact the AMA and ask them to do a study.

He starts by slowly making his way to the upper end of the cleft in the bed covers between My Darling B’s shoulders and mine. I emphasize slowly. He moves like he’s stalking something. It’s very unnerving. Sometimes he’ll wait until I’m fast asleep and don’t even realize he’s there, but sometimes he can’t wait and begins his creepy crawl as I’m just beginning to doze. When I’m in between the land of the living and the near-death of sleep, nothing’s more unnerving than the realization that something is softly creeping toward my head. No matter how many times he’s done it already, I’ll still jerk awake the next time. He seems to take no small amount of pride in that. The little bastard’s probably keeping track on a scoreboard in his secret lair. “Scared the Human Awake for 1,736 days straight!”

When he finally arrives at the end of his slow-motion journey he picks his spot with great care, turning round and round, trying it with his nose in B’s face, then in mine. Or maybe he wants to park himself butt-first in my face tonight. It’s all relative, and every angle has to be evaluated. Sometimes he gets distracted by the need to noisily wash his face for way too long. That goes especially well for him when he can slop some drool on my forehead. I’ll bet the squishy old fur ball’s got a scoreboard for that, too. This stage of the process is done when he dumps all fourteen pounds of himself very suddenly on me. Ever been on a plane when the overhead compartment popped open and a carry-on bag fell into your lap? Me neither, but I imagine it’s kind of like that.

His collapse against my shoulders accomplishes two things: Wakes me up one more time with a firm punch, and steals even more of the bed covers than he already has up to then, exposing me to the chill of the night. This part’s actually not so bad, because it gives me a chance to give back a little of what I’ve been getting by grabbing the edge of the quilt and, with a quick jerk, launching him in B’s general direction. If he’s good with that, I can get back to sleep right away. If he’s not, he starts circling again, kneading his spot back into compliance, slobbering on his paws some more and, with a final flourish, punching me between the shoulders.

Sometimes this goes on all night, and then sometimes, like this morning, I just chuck it, get out of bed and spend way too much time wondering why we even have cats.

cat bed | 7:45 am CDT
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Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Slept in until seven this morning, in spite of the best efforts of a woodpecker, two cats and a passing thunderstorm to keep us awake all night long.

The woodpecker keeps pecking on the bird house I put up for him even though he seems to be able to get in and out just fine. I suppose the hole might be a tight fit and he’s just fine-tuning it, or maybe he just needs to peck. Or he likes waking me up.

Beginning in the wee small hours of the morning the cats started jumping in and out of bed, never satisfied with where they were or happy with knowing what the other one was doing. I know they got down several times to eat because Bonkers came back with water dripping from his muzzle and shook, sending me scurrying to the bathroom to wash his splatter off my face.

The storm squall was a riot in the sky, with lightning flashing almost as much as the flash bulbs on the cameras of a squadron of paparazzi when they catch sight of Kate Middleton. The thunder never quit, and the raindrops were so big they sounded like bricks hitting the roof of the house.

But I stuck it out. I promised myself I wouldn’t get out of bed until seven on Saturday and I meant it.

promise | 7:25 am CDT
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Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Apparently I missed all the fun last night. I hit the hay at about half past nine, but B stayed up late and not only got to see everything, she was right in the middle of it! That’ll teach me to go to bed just because I’m exhausted.

While B was sitting up late, working on a project, she slowly became aware that Bonkers the Cat was making mouse-hunting noises. When she finally went to investigate, sure enough, she found him playing cat-and-mouse with a real live mouse. She went away for a couple minutes to find a jar or plastic take-out box to catch the mouse in so she could release it later, but when she came back she found only Bonkers sitting in the middle of the living room floor with the tail of a mouse hanging from his muzzle.

“Did you eat it?” she squeaked at him. “Aghhh! Spit it out! Spit it out! Yuck!” And so on.

Bonkers was not only completely oblivious to her squeamish reaction, he also appeared to be trying to swallow the mouse, and eventually succeeded, prompting a lot more yelling and squealing from the aforementioned squeamish B, who not only continued to make a lot of noise about it, she said she even jumped around in circles a little bit. I, somehow, managed to sleep through the whole thing.

la-la-lah | 9:28 pm CDT
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Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Woke up at about four o’clock this morning to a massive downpour, lots of thunder and lighting and cats walking across my face, not technically part of what one would normally consider a downpour but it was happening, so I note it. Okay, just one cat. The other cat was taking up all the space at the foot of the bed where my legs would normally go, so that I had to dangle my legs over the edge of the bed. I still don’t know why I unconsciously make room for the cat like that. It’s my damned bed.

Anyway, water was falling out of the sky by the truckload this morning. Why doesn’t anybody say that ever? Why buckets? Truckloads are way more impressive. They’re bigger, for a start, and they’re mechanized. Buckets are smaller and they’re a lot of work to carry around. Who likes buckets more than trucks? And I see trucks carrying water all the time. It’s not like they’re rare. From now on, I’m not saying rain came down in buckets. It comes down by the truckload. Who’s with me?

truckloads | 5:58 am CDT
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Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Boo decided to hork up a hairball at four-thirty this morning, so guess when I got out of bed today? When you have kids, you get up when they get up. When you have cats, same thing.

After each of us slurped up a cup of life-restoring coffee, we threw on some clothes and headed for the farmer’s market. Drinking coffee is mandatory for a trip to the market. Everyone you see there is drinking it. There are little huts all around the square where you can buy coffee if you don’t know where the dozen or so coffee shops in the cap square neighborhood are. Throwing on real clothes seems to be optional, however. You wouldn’t believe how many people are walking around in jammie pants and whatever you want to call those skin-tight leotard-looking workout pants.

The farmer’s market at six-thirty in the morning is a completely different place compared to the farmer’s market at eight-thirty in the morning. Later in the day I have to creep along the fence line with the cart so I’m not in the way or running over other people’s toes while My Darling B ferries her pies and veggies from the vendors out to me before plowing back through the crowd trying to get to the vendors again. Getting there earlier means we can walk around freely, going as fast or as slow as we want. I can follow B up to the vendor’s counter with the cart and not worry about blocking people or running over their toes, although there was still one guy who blindly walked into it as if he couldn’t see it.

We had all our veggies and were out of there by quarter to eight, too early to hit Saint Vinnie’s on the way home. I’ll have to take a ride on my bike later to scope out the books.

wakey-wakey | 9:10 am CDT
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Monday, May 7th, 2012

image of Bonkers the catBonkers got his purr back this morning. Actually, he did more than just purr, he went full-goose bozo on me, rubbing his ears against the edge of the table and sticking his hinder up in the air, begging me to pat it, so I did. Even so, I had to pick him up and put him in my lap after he tried to jump up but lost his nerve and just sat there beside me, crying pathetically. Still, it was good to see him more like his old self again.

Bonk’s got something wrong in his head, but we don’t know what. The veterinarians we took him to didn’t know, either. “This is probably something neurological,“ more than one of them said, looking at his blown eye and the way he walked in circles and wobbled when he stood still. Thank you, Captain Obvious. We kept taking him back until finally they did what we in layman’s terms would describe as “tests” where, instead of merely frowning at him and throwing out several opinions, they took his blood and examined it for signs of infection, such as the very scarily-named feline leukemia, or dysfunction, such as diabetes.

Finding none of that, the last vet we took him to said we could shlep him down to the UW vet clinic, where a couple dozen student vets would take turns scanning his brain with the million-dollar equipment they have, then poking and prodding him for a while before showing us the pretty color print-outs that might or might not give some clue as to what’s going on in there. The pretty color print-outs would tell us that a) we would have to fork over several thousand dollars to a cat surgeon, who might or might not be able to cut his head open and fix what had gone wrong, or that b) the problem in Bonker’s head was not fixable. There was also the not at all slim possibility that c) they would find nothing wrong in his head and suggest another round of tests to look for something else.

We were not at all receptive to the idea of turning Bonk into a lab experiment for the benefit of student vets, and paying them for the privilege to boot. He’s sixteen or seventeen years old, which has got to be something like ninety-nine in cat years, a time in his life when our prime concern ought to be maintaining a modicum of dignity for the venerable old guy. I know it’s what I’d want, and I figure he’s earned it. So we said no thank you to a), the brain scan and the cutting his head open.

When we told the vet that there would be no brain scanning, she prescribed some steroids we could shove down his throat to reduce the swelling that was presumably taking place in his head, making him act like he feels loggy all the time. He slept all the time, even more than usual for a cat, and when he got up he could hardly cross the room without stopping to rest for a while. He didn’t meet us at the door when we came home, and he stopped purring. He still wanted to sit in a lap, he just didn’t have the will or the strength to do it.

We were really afraid the steroid they’d prescribed, Prednisolone, had triggered the symptoms in the first place. A little googling turns up all kinds of scary side effects, and a cat we had before had died when the vet prescribed a related steroid, Prednisone, at a stupidly high concentration for way too long. But at this point, Bonk needs relief and the steroid seems to be helping. He’s curled up in my lap as I type these words, happily chasing mice in his dreams, something he was too zonked out to do a week ago.

wonky-bonky | 8:30 am CDT
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Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Boo woke me this morning by sticking her muzzle in my ear and uttering a single, piercing “Miaow!” It was like sitting right next to a stereo speaker while Louis Armstrong opened a song by blasting a high-C quarter note.

More accurately, it was like having a five-year-old standing next to my bed on Saturday morning all over again. “Dad? Dad? Dad? Dad? Dad? Dad? Dad? Dad?”

“Uh. What?”

“Are you awake?”

trumpet | 7:13 am CDT
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Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Boo has apparently come to the conclusion that we should not sleep in on Saturdays.

Every weekday morning, I get out of bed at five o’clock, start the coffee pot, take a shower, eat breakfast. She doesn’t pay any attention at all to me then, but on Saturday mornings, starting as early as six o’clock, she gets out of her cozy little cat’s nest and paces around our bed, mewing plaintively.

When that doesn’t get us out of bed, she claws at the sides of the box spring a couple times, a noise that sounds like the snare drum section of a marching band.

That doesn’t work, either. It’s annoying as hell, but at six o’clock on Saturday morning it would take a lot more noise than a dozen snare drums could generate to get us out of bed. When Boo realizes this, she jumps up on the bed and begins pacing back and forth, resuming her plaintive mew.

For her troubles, we usually roll over and go back to sleep, which she interprets as fifty percent success, so she redoubles her efforts by leaping from one side of the mattress to the other, landing on top of us if she can manage it. When she escalates to tactics like this, we become moving targets and I sleep with one hand shielding the family jewels, so she has to pick her targets carefully, typically aiming for the head.

This morning, she discarded with the leaping back and forth and went straight to planting her butt right beside my face and crying. Wailing, really. I tried to calm her with a little ear-rubbing, but she wasn’t having any of that. She just kept wailing. Strangling her might have made her stop, but nothing’s 100%, and besides I was wide awake by then, so I gave up and rolled out of bed.

Boo followed me across the living room, rubbing up against my legs, deliriously happy with herself and, after she’d escorted me to the kitchen and everybody was where they were supposed to be at that hour of the morning, she went back to bed. What a little shit.

wakey-wakey | 7:53 am CDT
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Sunday, March 18th, 2012

I changed out the storm windows for screens in the front door and windows this morning. The cats can’t decide whether to shit or go blind.

sprung | 5:55 am CDT
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Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

image of the BonkNobody’s really sure what’s wrong with the Bonk. His right eyeball has a pupil blow open so wide you could literally drive a Mack truck through it, if it were a smallish Mack truck and you used “literally” to mean “figuratively.”

Nobody knows why his pupil’s blown like that. The vet through it was neurological and recommended that we take him to an ophthalmologist for a thorough examination. Not an ophthalmologist that works on people, one that works on cats. A cat ophthalmologist. These really exist. My Darling B spoke to her and everything. Not that she could say what was wrong, but now we can say Bonk’s had his head examined by two specialists.

The ophthalmologist suggested Bonk could have anything from old age to a sinus infection to cancer. They always throw cancer in there, just so you don’t get your hopes up, I guess. The don’t want to say, “I couldn’t find anything wrong with him, so don’t worry,” and then get sued when your pet dies of cancer three weeks later. So he’s either just getting old, or has an ordinary infection that could be cured by a round of antibiotics, or he has a brain tumor that’s crushing his optic nerve and will soon grow so large as to turn him into a dribbling vegetable. Thanks, medical science.

But, and I cannot too hastily add this, he seems to be just fine, other than that freakily wide-open eye. He has a hearty appetite, he keeps himself groomed, he’s as lappy as ever, and he jumps up into the window to watch the dog walkers pass by the house. Still the Bonk, but with one weird old shitty eye that nobody can explain. Yeah.

blown | 9:45 pm CDT
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Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

About two weeks ago, I was chatting with a coworker about going to the doctor when she told me about the pain she had in her upper arm. It sounded just like the pain I had in my upper arm, I said. It’s probably a rotator cuff injury like mine, she said.

A couple days later I visited a physical therapist who made me stretch and bend and reach, and after poking and prodding me for a while and asking lots of questions he announced that I had a rotator cuff injury.

Well, thanks a lot, I told Judy the next time I saw her.

And then last week Bonkers, one of our cats, started squinting because the pupil of his eye was blown open. He also couldn’t stop drooling and he drank a lot, so we made an appointment with the vet who suggested that he might have diabetes. She suggested a few other things that might be wrong with him, like radiation poisoning and cancer of the toenails, because she was getting paid a lot of money to point out all the possibilities, but diabetes seemed like the most likely diagnosis, considering the symptoms.

That’s when I remembered that a week or two ago Judy told me she’d be in to work an hour late because she had to drop her cat off at the vet’s. The cat had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and was going back for follow-up testing.

After I got the news about Bonkers, I cornered Judy in her cubicle. “Don’t tell me anything that’s wrong with you any more,” I ordered. “From now on, everything’s fine. Everyone in your family is healthy. You couldn’t possibly feel better. Got that?”

correlation | 9:39 pm CDT
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Monday, March 5th, 2012

The old Bonkity-bonk-bonk ain’t doing so well these days. A couple weeks ago he came down with what seemed to be an ordinary head cold, but when he couldn’t shake it, we took him to the vet. She gave him some low-grade antibiotics that seemed to help him shake the cold at first, but then it returned with a vengeance, so back to the vet he went. She doubled down on the antibiotics the second time and threw in some steroids for good measure, and, once again, the old Bonk rallied and seemed to be his old self again, until his eye blew open. Specifically, his right eye. The pupil won’t open and close the way it’s supposed to. A lot of the time it just won’t close at all. He washes off the right side of his face a lot, as if he’s trying to clear his vision, and every so often he’ll be walking across the floor as normal as can be until he stops suddenly and shies away from nothing at all, ducks his head, turns, and then keeps going as if he hadn’t done anything disturbingly weird. And just lately he’s been drooling a lot. A whole lot. “I think he had a stroke,” My Darling B said, and watching him slobber all over himself tonight I couldn’t find any reason to disagree with her. She’s taking him to a specialist in the morning who’s suppose to have the kind o’ learnin’ that enables vets like him to gaze into a Bonk’s very soul through his eyeball and tell us what’s wrong with him. My guess is, he’ll look deep down in there and see that he’ll want to run a lot of tests that will not incidentally cost a butt-ton of moola. That’s what the last specialist did, anyway. I’m thinking we could buy a couple dozen cans of Tiki Cat and make him a lot happier.

bonk | 10:52 pm CDT
Category: Bonkers, daily drivel | Tags: ,
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Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I was reading a chapter of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 last night and ran across the name “Adrien van der Donck.” Isn’t that fantastic? He was in New York back when the place was lousy with Dutch people and was known as the New Netherlands and, later or earlier (I’m not sure yet), New Amsterdam.

I mentioned this very cool name to My Darling B. Whenever I run across a very cool name, I have to point it out to somebody, or I’ll burst, which is pretty messy, so I try to avoid that. B opined that just about any name would be made way cooler by putting “van der” in the middle and, just then, Bonkers jumped up to sit with me.

So I tried it out. “Hey, it’s Jasper van der Bonkers,” I said.

And there was much tittering from B.

Hm. Every name is way better with a “van der” in the middle.

bonk | 5:42 am CDT
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Saturday, January 7th, 2012

This is someone’s pet.

People have not only let him into their house, they feed him and maybe even let him sit on their laps while they pet him and coo adorable baby sounds into his ears.

This may be the final, clinching proof of the old adage that, no matter what you look like on the outside, there really is somebody out there who will love you for what you are on the inside.


Strangely, the cat’s name is not “Sourpuss.”

sourpuss | 8:12 am CDT
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Sunday, December 11th, 2011

In case you were wondering, we didn’t have to send the cats away to uncle Joe’s farm so we could get a good night’s sleep. It turned out to be stupidly easy to get them to stop climbing all over us all through the night. They only do that in the winter, so it followed that they were doing it to keep warm. The thermostat’s got a timer on it so the furnace won’t run as much at night, and as a result the temp in the house drops to the low 60’s. I figured the thing to do was stop at Walgreen’s first thing after work, pick up a couple of heating pads, tuck them into a couple of fluffy towels to make some cat beds – problem solved!

Then it occurred to me, surely somebody’s thought of this already. I googled “heated cat bed” and, what do you know, it turned out there were dozens to choose from. So this is what we’ve come to: We’re now the kind of people who buy heated cat beds for our pets. It’s not that I don’t think a good night’s sleep is worth the expense, because it is, it really is. But still, heated cat beds. Talk about an over-engineers solution to a first-world problem.

sleepy | 1:41 pm CDT
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Thursday, December 8th, 2011

The cats will have to go. I need a full night’s sleep, but ever since night time temperatures plunged below freezing, I’ve had to wake up several times through the night to kick my way out from underneath a pile of cats. This does not make for a restful night.

You might think that two cats cannot constitute a pile, but I can tell you authoritatively that you would be wrong to think that, and to prove it, I’ll come over to your house any night you like and pile two thirteen-pound cats on top of you while you sleep. Then we’ll see where you come down on the whole “how many cats in a pile” debate.

If I have to convert the cats into Who-hash to get some rest I will, but there must be a better way. Maybe chaining them to the sofa each night before bed would do the trick, or tying them up in a sleeping bag and hanging them from the ceiling in the basement. And I’m pretty sure I’d get no complaints from My Darling B, who can’t wait to get a good night’s sleep, too.

Maybe we could replace the water in their bowls with gin…

catty | 5:57 am CDT
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Thursday, December 1st, 2011

A cat sneezed in my face yesterday morning. I washed my face like I have never washed it before. I lathered up every last square inch of skin surface. I scrubbed my face from top to bottom and side to side. Every little nook and cranny got special attention. I washed my lips, and rinsed with scalding water. And when I was sure that I had lathered and scrubbed and rinsed everything I could, I lathered and scrubbed and rinsed again. Man, that was disgusting! Why do we even have cats?

gesundtheit | 5:59 am CDT
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Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Here’s a first-world problem if ever there was one: I come home to Our Humble O’Bode and before I get to do what I really want, namely recline in a comfy chair with a glass of cold beer in one hand and a laptop connected to the internet in the other, ready to spend countless hours viewing the wonders of whatever mindless drivel is on reddit today, I have to scrape cat hurk off the floor. Almost anywhere else in the world, if a cat hurks on your floor and you can manage to get your hands on it, what you would do is stuff it in a burlap sack with a couple heavy stones, tie a knot in the top and toss it in the river, because in most places a small furry animal in your house is vermin, and one that evacuates its gut in your house is just plain disgusting. Or a snack, if you live in a part of the world where it’s hard to get your hands on protein.

But around here, what you do to a cat that hurks on your floor is act all concerned that it’s not feeling well, and the cat, which has been treated like a human baby for virtually all its life, responds by rolling over on its back and allowing you to rub its stomach while purring enthusiastically. Makes no sense at all.

contrasts | 6:08 pm CDT
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Saturday, July 30th, 2011

There seems to be a greatly increased chance of hairballs this season. Perhaps global climate change is to blame.

Since we’ve come back from a week-long vacation I’ve found three different places where the cats yakked up hairballs. They’ve left us their little surprises before, but I can’t remember a time when they did it three times in a single week! I wonder if the National Weather Service will include that in the long list of new record highs this season.

Most weeks we seem to find at least one hairball somewhere in the house, usually on the floor but sometimes they take the trouble to yak one up on the furniture, which is why every stick of furniture has been covered with old comforters and the bedroom doors are closed all day long. Can’t have nice things anymore.

hairball | 10:46 pm CDT
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Monday, July 18th, 2011

I didn’t object when My Darling B decided to turn off the air conditioning last night. What a huge mistake that was. I should have squawked like a cat had just stepped on my tail, but the house was nice and cool and I figured, How hot can it get at night? Well, by four o’clock this morning I had my answer: Plenty frigging hot. And even though eighty doesn’t sound hot, when it’s eighty degrees and eighty percent humidity, that’s a hundred and sixty and that’s enough to make anybody wake up drenched in sweat.

But I didn’t wake up at four o’clock in the morning because I was hot, I woke up because Bonkers was yakking in the hallway. I think he’s going to have to sleep in the bathtub from now on.

We cranked up the airco early yesterday, much earlier than usual. On a typical day it doesn’t get hot until after the lunch hour, but yesterday it was warm and muggy before the sun even came up, and after the sun peeked over the horizon, going outside was not fun at all. B went out to her garden first thing, to do as much as she could before the scorching rays chased her indoors. I was out there helping her for a little while, but I lasted barely thirty minutes.

Once it got started, the airco stayed on all day long, and kept on cranking away after the sun went down. That’s when B started to feel guilty about using so much power. “Maybe we should turn this off for now,” she suggested. “We could always turn it back on.” That’s when I should have sprung out of bed and shoved her away from the thermostat, but I was reading a really good book, and I was sleepy. She caught me when I was slightly distracted and not quite all there.

A thunderstorm passed overhead sometime in the very early, dark hours of the morning, lighting up the house in flashes and making sure the air was extra damp, almost sticky, by the time Bonkers rousted me out of bed by tossing his kibble on the hallway floor. Really, why do we have cats?

sweat | 6:04 am CDT
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

At least one of the cats has been peeing in the sawdust that piles up under the miter saw in the work shop, and I don’t know how to make them stop, not in a way that doesn’t involve putting them in a sack with a brick.

When they’ve done this before, I just cleaned it up and they stopped. No special technique involved. I’m not even sure that cleaning it up sent them a message. But, on the off-chance that I’d stumbled upon the solution, I swept up the sawdust. Unfortunately, I cut up some wood later that night and forgot to sweep up the sawdust. I guess they thought that was an invitation, so they peed in it again. This did not make me happy.

But I did not go looking for a brick, not this time. I just cleaned it up again, then moved one of their litter boxes across the room to the patch of floor right under the miter saw. If they want to pee in that spot again, they’ll have to use the box. After a day or two of that I’ll move the box back and, I hope, they’ll move with it.

If that doesn’t get the message through to them, I might have to start looking for a burlap sack. I already know where I can get a brick.

Sawdust | 2:32 pm CDT
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Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I opened the door for one of the women who works in the office down the hall, not to be chivalrous, but because she’d forgotten her card key. For reasons that have yet to become clear to me, all the doors in our office building are locked, and the locks can be opened only by waving a card past the glaring red eye that stares out from the brown plastic pad beside the knob of each door.

It wasn’t the first time I’d opened the door for her. Just last week I found her waiting outside the same door for someone to come along and let her in. She got locked out both times when she got up from her desk to visit the bathroom, forgetting her card at her desk. I know this because as I leaned over to unlock the door I said something witty like, “Lock yourself out again?”

She was nice enough to chuckle at my inane comment, even nicer for telling me how she got locked out, then added: “I just want it implanted in my butt, like my cat.”

The image of everyone at the office waving their butts at the doors to open them stayed with me the rest of the day.

Locked Out | 8:05 pm CDT
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Saturday, April 9th, 2011

I woke up this morning pinned down by a cat on either side of me, as I so often do. If you don’t have cats, imagine a pair of those worm-like sandbags you buy to put in the trunk of your car for winter traction. Now imagine them atop your bed covers, one on either side of you, snuggled up close. It’s like being shrink-wrapped.

To get out of bed for the quick trip to the bathroom, I had to either slither straight up like getting out of a sleeping bag without unzipping it, or curl an arm around the outboard cat and scoop him up and over myself as I slid underneath. I was in a bit of a rush so I opted for the second method this morning.

When I returned to bed the cats were both curled up at the foot, apparently because my early-morning clumping around disturbed their sweet slumber. Without any cats to circumnavigate I could slide right in and cuddle up next to My Darling B for another hour of light napping.

When I woke up at about the time I usually get out of bed to make breakfast (coffee), they were both back on station. Bonkers was the outboard cat again, and Boo had managed to worm her way in between us, the warmest spot. I don’t know what kind of a paper-rock-scissors game they play to determine who gets what, but Boo seems to wind up with the privileged spot most often.

Sandbagged | 9:09 am CDT
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Sunday, March 6th, 2011

image of Bonkers the cat

My Darling B has been in the kitchen all morning stewing a batch of chicken thighs in saffron and a bunch of other yummy-smelling stuff, in preparation for turning them into meat pies.

After stewing them, she piled them on a platter, placed the platter on the dining room table, then went to work on the broth. I happened to pass through the dining room while she was working and the first thing I saw was Bonkers the cat sitting on the windowsill not two feet from the pile of chicken. He has no scruples at all about pouncing on food left unattended so I can only guess that the spices B used when stewing the chicken must have masked the smell, else he would have been all over it as soon as she turned her back.

So Close | 11:54 am CDT
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Thursday, February 24th, 2011

image of Bonkers the cat

And again: Kitty!

Because I wanted to make it up to you for all the political crap coming out of Wisconsin lately. We can do the interwebs the way it’s supposed to be done.

Bonk! | 6:28 am CDT
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Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

After a scalding hot shower and a hot cuppa java, I think I may once again return to the class of warm-blooded creatures. Last night was about five million years long and it was all because the cat in the middle of the bed kept hogging the covers, keeping me awake most of the night. It’s very difficult to sleep when half of you is toasty warm but the other half of you has become a meat popsicle. This has got to stop.

I didn’t used to mind. I’ve tolerated a cat in the middle of the bed for as long as I’ve been married. My first cat also used to sleep between us, and that was back in the days when we slept with our arms around each other and our legs all tangled up. We’re not any less in love now, it’s just that our bones are not that flexible any more. Catface was usually somewhere else when the lights went out, but in the morning she would be well and truly wedged deeply between us. We never did figure out how or when she did that.

Our current cats also creep into bed sometime after we curl up and start sawing logs. This feline stealth mechanism has got to be come kind of evolved self-preservation technique. They’ve learned that people can’t stay awake all night to keep them out, so they wait until the snoring starts, then crawl in. Or they think we’re purring, and it’s irresistible as a siren’s call.

But I’m pretty sure it has everything to do with staying warm on these long winter nights, and now that we have two of them, we have twice the problem of cat-wedged-ness. If I don’t come up with a self-defense mechanism of my own, I’m going to end up frostbitten and bloodshot-eyed.

Bloodshot | 6:18 am CDT
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Monday, December 6th, 2010

Bluh! Bluh! Bluh! Blearrrrgh!

That’s how our oldest cat said “Good morning!” to me at four o’clock in the morning today. I’m in bed at four o’clock in the morning. I had been sleeping, up until the cat began singing his gastric antilullabye. That kind of thing tends to wake me right up, though, and then I start thinking that I’ll have to go clean that up because, if I don’t, I won’t be able to find it and wonder where it is until I’m doing some light house cleaning and find myself suddenly staring at it when I least expect it, or I’ll find it almost immediately after getting out of bed by stepping in it with my bare feet.

I don’t want to do either, so I get out of bed. At four o’clock in the morning. Did I mention how early that is? There are many things I don’t like to do, and very, very low on that list is getting out of bed at four o’clock in the morning, particularly in winter. I get chilled. It sucks.

Also, I have to turn on the lights to find the puke, which hurts my eyes. The lights, not the puke. I didn’t get any puke in my eyes. That sounded needlessly icky, didn’t it? Sorry. But you weren’t the one cleaning up cat puke this morning. I already mentioned how early, didn’t I?

I found it almost immediately because Bonkers was sitting right next to it. He looked as tired as I felt, and hadn’t moved an inch since horking it up. Cats aren’t as thoughtful as dogs are and won’t lift a finger to clean up after themselves. Next time, we’re getting a dog so I won’t have to do this at oh-dark-thirty, all I’ll have to do is stick my fingers in my ears to block the sound of the dog lapping up his mess.

So I got the paper towels and the spray bottle and cleaned it up, washed my hands in lye and then crawled back under the covers, which had cooled off so I had to curl up tightly in a ball and try to generate some warmth on my side of the bed again while B and Boo snored gently over on the other side. The only time B wakes up for these things is when Boo, sleeping in the crook of her knees, wakes up and tries to hork on the bed. That makes for some exciting midnight theater, I can tell you.

Blearrrgh! | 6:19 am CDT
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