Saturday, February 29th, 2020

So long, Boo. I miss your crooked little tail already.

So long Boo | 2:45 pm CST
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Friday, December 13th, 2019

Boo-BooBoo had a follow-up visit with the vet on Wednesday to see how she was recovering from last week’s surgery and to give her an injection of antibiotics. We stopped by after work to pick her up and as soon as the vet tech said the doctor wanted to talk with us I had the feeling it wouldn’t be entirely good news.

When the vet sewed up her mouth after pulling her teeth she noticed the bone was spongy, so she sent a sample of it to the lab. Tests showed that Boo has a kind of bone cancer that’s especially aggressive; without treatment, the prognosis is that she has weeks, maybe months to live, but options for treatment don’t give her much more time and won’t do much to improve her quality of life, so we’ve decided to do what we can to keep her as comfortable as we can until it’s no longer possible.

Right now, she appears to be fine. She has recovered well after surgery and she has a ravenous appetite, a very good sign. Her main interest is getting as much lap time as possible and when a lap isn’t available, she curls up under a blanket and naps, not at all unusual for a 16-year-old cat. We started feeding shredded tuna to her after they yanked most of her teeth out and now she gets it every day, making her one very happy cat.

to the bone | 7:29 am CST
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Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Boo’s face puffed out on her left so much that her eye was shut most of the time, so we took her to the vet who said she had an abscess caused by some rotten teeth. Poor Boo! The vet ended up keeping her overnight so they could yank five of her teeth the next morning.

We took her home in the evening after her surgery and put her in a room by herself because she was still a little loopy from the anesthetic. I went in to see her after dinner and she wouldn’t come to me, which I expected because she holds a grudge for a while after we take her to the vet. She usually finds a spot close enough to us that we can’t ignore her but she sits facing away from us. This time, though, she kept pacing back and forth, crying and rubbing against my knee each time she went past. I couldn’t get her to stop.

B came in a little later and Boo wouldn’t sit sit still for her, either. By then it was about half-past seven, late enough that we could give her something to eat, so I went to the kitchen and fixed up a bowl of food for her. Turned out, that’s what she was crying about. She gobbled it up in the blink of an eye and cried for more. I waited about fifteen minutes before fixing up another bowl of food for her, just to make sure she wasn’t going to barf up the first bowlful, but I didn’t have to worry about that. She wolfed her second helping and was crying for more about a half-hour later. I haven’t seen her eat like that in years.

Boo bump | 6:42 pm CST
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Saturday, December 7th, 2019

Boo let me know it was time to get up and feed her by jumping on my bladder, walking across my stomach and clawing at the box spring after jumping to the floor as noisily as a five-pound cat can. It was quarter to four in the morning. So I got up and fed her, as you do. Six hours of sleep it enough, right?

She was sleeping with us because she’s in recovery after we had to take her to the vet who drained an abscess in her face. Boo’s face, not the vet’s. The vet had to yank five of Boo’s teeth out, too, probably making the whole deal a fairly traumatic experience, so we let her into the bedroom to cuddle up with us while she’s recovering.

We stopped letting the cats sleep with us when they learned that I really hate it when they walk on my face. After they acquired that knowledge, they did it all the time. If you’ve never wanted to strangle a cat with your bare hands, you’ve never had one walk on your face while you’re sound asleep.

They walk on my face because I’m the one who feeds them (somehow that ended up as part of my job description; I need a better union rep) and they know that I’ll get up and feed them if only to stop them from walking on my face. Locking them out of the bedroom restored regular feeding hours. I also got more sleep, which didn’t suck.

After losing most of her molars and one of her fangs, Boo has officially crossed the line into the soft-food phase of her life, and she’s enjoying it. Tiki Cat three times a day! Scooter and Sparky are insane with jealousy.

solid six | 5:46 am CST
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Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

I can’t walk into the kitchen without two cats following me. Three when Boo is hungry (not so much these days). The other two are always hungry, or at least they’re always interested. If I stop in front of the kitchen cupboard where we keep the kitty kibble (now that’s a lot of alliteration!), they swarm around my feet and I have to be careful not to trip over them or, if it’s early and I’m still having trouble focusing, just stepping on them. Which I’ve done. It pisses them off, but it hasn’t stopped them from swarming my feet.

That’s really all there is to our relationship: I’m the guy who feeds them. Or in Scooter’s case, I’m also the guy who pats his butt. He’s one of those cats.  Their only other interest in me is incidental, like if I happen to be around when they want to get into a room behind a closed door; then they think I’m there to open it for them.  They’re usually disappointed when they believe that.

feeder of cats | 6:30 am CST
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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 CST
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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

We’ve had a mouse problem for a long time. When Bonkers The Cat was around and was still full of piss and vinegar, he did his part to keep the mouse population under control. Boo would play with the mice that Bonkers chased out of the corners, but I don’t think she ever went looking for mice and hasn’t lifted a finger (or toe, whatever) to catch any since the Bonkers left the scene more than a year ago.

So the mice have had free run of the place for months, and have staked their claim to every part of the house that they can colonize. Most recently, their efforts to take over the house have reached as far as the kitchen, where they are now into the many drawers under the kitchen counter, for reasons that are a little hard to explain. They were in the space under the sink before, because that’s where the kitchen trash can is and they could filch all sorts of goodies from it, but now they’re not satisfied with just grabbing the food and going.

It seems that now they’re wandering around in the drawers where My Darling B keeps the various implements of kitchen magic, and it causes her no small amount of distress when she reaches for a knife or a skewer and finds those disgusting little calling cards that mice leave behind wherever they go. She’s had to clean out two of the drawers at least twice in the past six months, and last night we took everything out of all the drawers so I could set out traps and start the chore of running every single one of the magical kitchen implements through the dishwasher to give them a two-hour-long power wash followed by twenty minutes of intense sterilizing heat.

Now I have to figure out how to mouse-proof as much of the kitchen as possible, as well as how to delete the mice. I’ve already got traps under the sink and I set out traps in the drawers overnight, but no luck so far. I think I can block off easy access to the space under the sink, but mice can be determined little buggers so I’ll have to keep setting traps for the foreseeable future.

As for long-term measures to rid our little red house of the infestation, I’ve proposed getting a more dedicated mouser to patrol the darkest corners. I swear I heard B say no to that proposal before, but when I brought it up last night she said that she thought I was opposed to getting another cat. I suppose I might have and don’t remember it, but if so, I don’t know why. If we’re going to have furry animals padding around the house, a kitten or two sounds better than allowing the mice to take over.

How Boo will react to the introduction of a kitten or two is more or less a foregone conclusion. She’s not whatever the cat equivalent of a people-person is. I think she tolerated Bonkers only because he was already established as the house cat when we adopted her as a kitten. When he eventuallyl grew so old and feeble that he couldn’t hold her back if she wanted to swat him off the top of the hill, she didn’t even bother pretending to tolerate him after that. Any other cat who wanders near our door gets hissed at, and she prowls back and forth growling with her puffed-up tail in the air for a half-hour afterwards. She’s not going to take it lightly if we introduce some young whipper-snapper to the house.

Luckily, I don’t care all that much about hurting Boo’s feelings because the way I see it, she’s falling down on the job. There are mice to be caught and the only cat on the premesis is totally unmotivated about catching them. More than a dereliction of duty, that seems like a betrayal of her species. And if Boo’s feelings get hurt, well, I’m not even her person. She comes to me when she wants to show somebody how she can claw the rug by the front door into a big jumbled ball, but when she wants to sit in a lap for hours, she goes to My Darling B, the woman who picked her out at the shelter and brought her to our home.

overrun | 7:00 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, Our Humble O'Bode | Tags: ,
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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Boo the Cat gets called anything but her name. After we adopted her from the pet rescue center on Misawa Air Base, we named her Chessie and called her that for, oh, maybe a couple of weeks. Seemed like a good name at the time. But as she became more comfortable with us, she started playing games, and her favorite for a while was hide-and-seek. Poking her head out from around a corner or behind a door, she would make the strangled, gurgling sound she makes instead of meowing, and we would answer, “Boo!” because what else are you going to say when someone does that? And gradually, or not really so gradually I suppose, everyone came to call her Boo. It became so solidly established as her real name that, years ago, we stopped telling people her name is Chessie; now we just say she’s Boo.

But that’s not her only name. Depending on the situation, she’s also called: Boo-ness, because she’s kind of a princess; Boo-pants, because I have no freaking idea; and peanut-peanut, because My Darling B likes the sound of it, I guess. And those are just the ones I can think of right off the top of my head. Boo is apparently the cat of a thousand names.

boo-pants | 5:55 am CST
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Sunday, September 14th, 2014

The moment we heard it, we recognized the sound Boo was making as the “I’ve got a mouse for you” announcement. She’s getting better at catching mice; we’re getting better at understanding her communicating with her.

She didn’t hesitate to jump up on the bed and deposit the mouse, dead this time, at B’s feet. I scooped it up and took it out to the trash can while B heaped praise on Boo’s newfound skill as a mouse catcher. I don’t know why Boo is suddenly so determined to catch every mouse in the house, but I’m really very happy that she is. Now if only we could train her to drop them in the toilet and flush.

mouser | 9:01 am CST
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Saturday, September 13th, 2014

We were sitting up in bed reading last night when Boo came to the door howling in the weirdest way. I thought she might have been sick until My Darling B said, “Yah! She’s got a mouse!”

She did have a mouse. She was carrying it in her mouth and didn’t want to let it go, but wanted to let us know she had something for us. Hence, the weird noise. I climbed out of bed and started to try to figure out how to take the mouse away from her, but she was way ahead of me. She jumped up on B’s side of the bed and dropped the mouse at B’s feet.

B has an irrational fear of mice that makes her jump and squeal just like women and elephants do in old cartoons. I’m sure than if she wore petticoats, she would gather them up around her knees and jump on the nearest chair. When Boo dropped the mouse on the bedcovers, B yelped and jerked her feet back because her little gift from Boo definitely wasn’t going to use the “play dead” strategy. It started scampering all over the quilts right away, looking for a likely escape route. I grabbed a sock I’d discarded beside the bed when I climbed in, put it over my hand and started chasing the little booger around. It didn’t take long to catch, and while B heaped praise on Boo for being such a good mouser, I chucked it into the neighbor’s yard across the street. I sure hope he’s not reading this.

jumpy | 4:35 am CST
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Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

As I was saying, the biggest thrill of the weekend was the mouse that came up the stairs into the kitchen on Sunday night. I’m not kidding. Don’t judge us. We don’t get out much.

The little booger literally came up the stairs. I’m almost one-hundred percent certain of this because when I turned on the lights to go downstairs Friday night, there on the second-to-the-top step was a mouse, frozen in mid-step. Hm? Where was I going? Me? I was, ah, just going to the bathroom! Yeah! That’s the ticket! The toilet downstairs is backed up, so I was going to use the one upstairs, if you don’t mind! Yeah! What? You do mind? Well, then, heh-heh-heh, I guess I’ll just go back downstairs and piss in the corner again. See yah!

When I spot a mouse in the house, my reaction is just a little manic. I hope nobody ever records it, because I don’t want it to be immortalized on YouTube for the rest of recorded human history. But here’s what it sounds like in print: “I SEE YOU! I SEE YOU, YOU LITTLE BASTARD! I’M GONNA STOMP YOU! YOU CAN RUN, BUT I’M GONNA GET YOU!” It goes on like that for pages as I scramble around, huffing and puffing until I have to stop to catch my breath. I’ve never caught a mouse this way. Really, there’s probably nobody who spends more energy on not catching mice than I do.

But if I have a cat as my wing man, then I can get things done. Boo spotted the little invader Sunday night after it tried to sneak under the stairway door into the dining room. She happened to be ambling by, headed for a bite of kibble from her bowl, which was probably what the mouse was thinking of doing, too. Boo let us know what she’d found by leaping into the air, scrambling back and forth across the floor, and finally sticking her face in the crack between the base of the oven and the linoleum, snorfling up more air than a Hoover vacuum cleaner. Subtlety is not Boo’s way.

When we went looking for the mouse to see if it was, indeed, trapped, My Darling B spotted it between the oven and the fridge before it scurried to relative safety behind the oven. So we worked out a way to catch the little vermin: I would sweep under the oven with a stick while B made sure that Boo wouldn’t wander away. Her attention span can be a little short sometimes.

But it didn’t take long to flush out the mouse. One or two quick sweeps with the stick and the mouse popped out from under the oven like it was shot, straight past Boo and through B’s feet. That’s when she squealed like a girl and jumped back three feet. I thought that was something that happened only in cartoons. Her reaction wouldn’t have surprised me more if she’d lifted the hem of her petticoat, jumped up on a chair and squeaked, Eeeek! A mouse!

The mouse made a hairpin turn to the right and I thought at first that it headed for the stairway door and the safety of the basement, but for some reason it went instead into the living room where Boo chased it back and forth across the floor like two of the Three Stooges. Whoo-woo-woo-woo! and Why I Oughta! would’ve been the perfect caption to the photo I didn’t get a chance to take, because I chased after them, making sure that the mouse couldn’t find another hiding spot. I had to move one piece of furniture away from the wall so Boo could get behind it, and twice I had to play goalie, slapping the mouse back into play with my foot when it tried to run for the hallway, but Boo did most of the work, finally pinning it down by the front door, the perfect place for me to slap a plastic tub over it. It was late and I didn’t want to keep it overnight, so I suspended our usual no-kill policy and that particular mouse went on permanent sabbatical.

Boo can move pretty fast for such a tubby cat. She’s usually the epitome of a princess-like cat, mincing across the floor in carefully measured steps, but when she saw that mouse, she went batshit crazy, and she scrambled across the living room like a maniac. It was hard not to be impressed.

yelp 2 | 6:07 am CST
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Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Bonk and BooWe adopted Bonkers and Boo from a shelter on Misawa Air Base in 2003, not at the same time but within a month or two of each other. Boo was just a kitten when we adopted her and we called her Chessie back then; she started playing hide and seek games with us almost right away and that’s how she became known as Boo.

Bonkers was about six years old and the oddest cat we’d ever met, really more of a dog than a cat. He was dog-friendly; everyone he met was instantly his friend. If you weren’t petting him, he would insist that you correct this oversight immediately by bonking his head against whatever part of you he could bonk into soonest. This was not the face-rubbing hello that almost all cats do – he head-butted you. Repeatedly, if you didn’t start petting him right away. And that’s how he became known as Bonkers.

That, and the fact that he was genuinely bonkers, as in crazy nutso weird. He used to bark like a dog, usually while standing at the back door looking at something in the yard. Not quite like a dog, but just enough that one of us would cock our heads and say, “What the hell was that?” when he started barking. He was a stray before the shelter brought him in; they found him wandering the streets, which made me think he might have been pining for the outdoors. If so, it didn’t take long before he got used to being indoors. He stopped barking within a year of his adoption and became a very contented house cat.

bonkyboyHe never stopped howling, though, another of his odd quirks. He would almost always howl after his belly was good and full, and he stood at the top of the basement stairs to do it. I assumed that was where he thought the acoustics were best. If he got up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water or use the litter box, usually both, he would announce to the whole house that he was up and about by howling, howling, howling on his way from the bedroom to the kitchen. I tried but never found a way to break him of that.

At the time we adopted him, he had deep black stripes and a bright golden undercoat that faded by the end of the first year he was with us. His belly remained orangish but he never regained the tiger-like appearance he had the first time we met him at the pound.

He and Boo made the trip from Japan in a mesh carry-on bag under the seat on the airplane, instead of stuffed into the cargo hold with the baggage. The last time we tried that, our cat got lost with our bags! The carry-on option sounded like a better idea, and it was, sorta. We didn’t lose the cats, but cat bladders aren’t made to hold it for twelve hours. Poor Bonky needed a sponge bath by the time we got to Los Angeles.

I had no idea what a fierce mouser he would be until we moved to our little red house, which has a ready supply of them. Boo will chase mice and on occasion trap and kill them, but Bonkers pounced like a predator, batted them around until they were deader than a doornail, then ate them whole and finished by parading up and down the floor, howling Who’s the baddest mouser? That’s right! I’m the baddest! Bring it! I had no idea that cats really ate mice. I thought maybe they just gnawed on them a bit, so the first time he trapped a mouse I took it away from him. After that he wouldn’t let me, gobbling them up almost as soon as he saw me coming. So there!

As he aged, he became one of the lappiest cats I’ve ever met. He might be curled up on the sofa, sound asleep when I tiptoed into the living room with a book and sat down in a chair to do a little reading, but as soon as I settled in, his lapdar would alert him to the nearby appearance of a lap, jolting him awake. He would jump down from the sofa, have a good, long stretch, then trot across the room to claim his rightful spot on my lap – after he gave it a good kneading and turned around a couple times to make sure the feng shui was right, and probably bonk my hand once or twice to make sure I knew it was time to pet him.

Bonkers the Pirate CatHe was part of our household almost exactly eleven years, and we’ve never had a pet that so easily and completely made himself at home in our hearts. He was, no question, the greatest cat ever.

bonky boy | 9:04 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, O'Folks
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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 CST
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Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

4:30 am:

Huk. Huh-YUCK! Hork. Hack. HACK! HAAACK! HAAACK! HAAACK! YAK! huh-YAK! urp. yuck.

Tell me again: Why do we have cats?

yak | 6:12 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo
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Friday, February 14th, 2014

Boo the cat was sitting in the spot where I usually leave my slippers this morning. In the semidark of the five o’clock hour, she even looked a bit like a pair of slippers, so I tried to stick my right foot in her. She did not appreciate that.

stuck | 5:35 am CST
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Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Recipe for cats: When folding clothes fresh from the dryer, stack them on the table. Within the hour, cats will begin to appear.

spontaneously generated boo | 9:30 pm CST
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Monday, June 24th, 2013

bonkbumpBonkers is curled up for a nap on the sofa. Boo is, too, but she’s not as easy to see. Not at first, anyway.

boobump | 6:34 pm CST
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Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Not sure what this proves: Our cats figured out somehow that I’m the one who feeds them. They jump on my head to wake me up in the morning. They follow me around the kitchen when they’re hungry. Yet, even though they’re smart enough to figure that out, they haven’t twigged to the fact that I hold a grudge and I’m not above a little vengeance now and then. I’m no Einstein, but even I know better than to piss off the person who feeds me. I think I learned that before I could speak.

proof | 4:28 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, O'Folks
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Monday, June 17th, 2013

The cats came so close to realizing their nefarious plan.

For weeks, they’ve been waking me up a little earlier each day by standing at the foot of our bed mewling, or jumping on my head, and I’ve been obliging them by getting up and feeding them, thinking that with a little food in their bellies they’d leave me alone and I could go get a little more sleep.

Only I don’t get more sleep. If I wake up after four or five o’clock in the morning, I’m up for the rest of the day. Well, until, say, eight o’clock that night, anyway. So this has been a game of diminishing returns, and this morning it diminished even further: Damn cats woke me up at four o’clock.

I didn’t get up because I knew it was pointless. I could have fed them, but I wouldn’t have been able to get back to sleep, so I laid there for maybe twenty minutes before I got out of bed to make some coffee and gobble down a bowl of oatmeal. And ignore the cats. They tried everything they could think of to get my attention, even that thing where they wind around my legs and sit down right in front of me while I’m walking across the dining room, but I managed not only to ignore them but also to avoid concussion after tripping over one of them and falling on my face.

They’re more than a little puzzled by this, wandering around in a bit of a daze. He didn’t feed us. That never happened before. And occasionally they get tangled up with each other, resulting in a swatting match that’s oddly satisfying to watch. But they still haven’t been fed, and won’t be until I’m ready to leave for work. And that’s the way it’s going to be from now on.

cat plan | 5:33 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, O'Folks, random idiocy
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Saturday, March 23rd, 2013



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}


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 CST
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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 CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, O'Folks, sleeplessness, work | Tags: , , ,
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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 CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel | Tags: , ,
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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 CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel | Tags:
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Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

I think My Darling B and I may have crossed the line and become Old People. Not just older people, but certifiably Old People, as in crotchety old, cane-waving, get-off-my-lawn Old People. The evidence is mounting, and seemingly irrefutable. See if you don’t agree:

We both wear glasses now. I’ve been wearing glasses for dozens of years, and My Darling B has had a pair ever since about 2005, but she only recently starting wearing hers while driving and discovered, to her surprise, all the things she could’ve been seeing! The other night during dinner at a local restaurant, she amazed herself once again by putting them on and found she was able to read the labels of all the liquor bottles over the bar, about twenty feet away.

We talk to our cats as if they are children. They come to the door to meet us after work and we call their names and coo over them and make woojy-woojy noises. We never ever talk to them, we sing to them, usually repeating their names or the same phrase several times as if that’ll make them smile or laugh. This probably seems normal to some pet owners and by itself isn’t necessarily a warning of impending fossilization, but in combination with other signs it’s very definitely one of the warning signs that we are Old People.

We groan when getting up out of our chairs, or out of bed, and especially when we have been sitting on the floor and lever ourselves, slowly, to a standing position. The groans are louder the longer we have been sitting. We do not groan occasionally but EVERY TIME, like it’s hard work. And it is.

This evening, My Darling B referred to cancer as “The Cancer,” as in, My best friend, Myrtle, she has The Cancer, poor dear. If that’s not a dead giveaway, I don’t know what is.

aging | 6:58 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, damn kids!, My Darling B, O'Folks | Tags:
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Monday, April 25th, 2011

Thoughts that went through my head at 4:30 a.m. after the cat woke me up from a sound sleep by dancing across the bed several times:

Obviously, the first thought was, Aww, dammit! What time is it? Feeling around the top of my bedside bookstand, my fingers found the flap that covers the bright green clock face, lifted it up and read the time, which led to the next thought:

Angel of God, prithee smite mine cat with thy rod and thy staff, repeatedly, until she pesters me no more, amen. In the absence of any smiting I got out of bed to confirm that the robot feeding dishes were full, because nothing’s going to stop Boo from keeping me awake if she doesn’t have her morning kibble. And a good thing I got up, because the tiny little mind of the robot feeding dish thought it was supposed to feed the cat at five o’clock instead of four, the time I originally programmed it to burp up more food. I gave it a manual burp and made a mental note to figure that one out later.

That done, I went back to bed. Three to five minutes later, Boo came back to bed, too, and sat down heavily right between my shoulder blades. Angel of God …

That was at about four-forty. My clock starts bleeping at five. I don’t know what you’re like, but I can’t get much sleeping done in twenty minutes, so I start thinking about stuff, like:

I wonder if it’s raining this morning? I was thinking of biking to work if it wasn’t raining. There was rain in the forecast, but only in the afternoon or evening. I’m only worried about the morning. If it rains on the way home, no big deal, but if it rains on the way to work, I have to sit in soggy clothes all day. Bleh.

I don’t hear water running through the downspout. It could be frozen. It’s not likely, but this is Wisconsin, after all. The guy who announces the weather on the radio in the mornings is still using the word “snow” in his forecast. I think he’s even enjoying it now. He pauses, just for half a beat, to get the right dramatic effect before he says “snow” and there’s a little frisson of glee in his voice as he says it, usually with an exclamation point, like a little kid looking out the window at Christmas. Most other announcers would say it with dread, but not him.

I could stop at the coffee shop if I rode in. Of all the things on your desk first thing in the morning, Is there anything better than a great big thermos full of steaming coffee? Of course there isn’t, don’t even bother to answer that. How do coffee shops make coffee so chocolaty good? I’ve tried all the recommended ways to make good coffee, grinding whole beans, brewing it with a drip cone, and I still can’t make coffee as deliciously yummy as they can at a coffee shop. I suppose that’s why there are coffee shops.

Random | 6:11 am CST
Category: Boo, coffee, commuting, daily drivel, food & drink, O'Folks, play, sleeplessness, work
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Friday, December 31st, 2010

Today’s New Year’s Eve so we get the day off because we’re state workers. It’s one of the benefits that are showered on us like confetti at a hero’s ticker-tape parade. I can’t wait to see how that’s going to change. Watch this space.

But for now, we’re enjoying the day off: Sleeping in a bit, then sitting on the sofa for as long as we damn well want to while we drink our coffee and try to wake up. When we felt we could finally communicate in something more complex than grunts, we threw on some clothes, piled into the car and went into town for breakfast at Lazy Jane’s. My Darling B ordered something called a Chipotle Chili Omelet, which she mistakenly thought was a regular omelet with chipotle chiles, but no. It’s an egg folded over a mountainous helping of chili, more than she could eat in a day under any circumstances. She hardly made a dent in it.

I had a waffle garnished with bananas and walnuts and smothered in syrup. If there’s a better way to start the day, I can’t think of it right now.

We made a quick detour to Mad Cat before swinging back. Boo’s favorite cat toy, a wand with a little poof of feathers on the end, was pretty much worn out. All that was left of the feathers was a little furry stump and one very thin, tired-looking pin feather, so I got her a new one. There are so many feathers I thought it might scare her, but she was very excited to chase the new one even though I woke her out of a sound sleep with it, which is not something I would normally ever do if I could help it. Think of someone you know who’s “not a morning person” and then imagine waking that person up suddenly and rudely, say by throwing the contents of a well-chilled chamber pot in her face, and you’re getting an idea of the kind of “morning person” the Boo can be.

While My Darling B was gathering up the fixings for a shellfish chowder dinner and our New Year’s Eve noshies, I strolled up the street to Star Liquor to ask Adam to recommend a bottle of bubbly that would go with the chowder. He fixed me up right quick and I grabbed a six-pack of Moon Man from New Glarus to go with the popcorn and movies we were planning on watching as we passed the hours until midnight, should we somehow be able to stay up that late.

Then it was on to Batch Bakehouse. They’re closing up for almost two weeks to go on vacation, so we wanted to see what we could pick up from their showcase. Not much, as it turned out. They were being mobbed by a steady stream of people who had the same idea we had, and the showcase was almost cleaned out by the time we made our way to the front of the line. We scored some cookies, a wedge of apple cake and a small loaf of wheat bread, then tried to make our way through the crowd out the door before the ones in the back realized they weren’t going to get any goodies.

Just two more stops after that, at Bongo Video! and the Monona Public Library to pick up a selection DVDs, so many that we’ll almost certainly never get to watch them all, but at least enough that we’ll all be able to agree on something. Movies, noshies, booze and food – I think we’re ready to make it to the New Year!

New Year’s Eve | 2:14 pm CST
Category: beer, Boo, booze, daily drivel, entertainment, food & drink, movies, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants, television, vacation, work | Tags: ,
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Friday, November 5th, 2010

Finally, a chance to sit and dork around with a keyboard for a while and bang out something that isn’t an e-mail about education requirements for physical therapists. Let’s just see what comes out, shall we?

I would have been at this a half-hour sooner if I hadn’t run to the corner mega-grocery to buy a tin of cat food, something I wouldn’t ordinarily done after I’d already put the car away, hung up my jacket and warmed up a pair of slippers. It was either that or shove a pill down Bonkers’ throat, though, and I hate doing that almost as much as he hates getting it done to him. That he’s gotten way too old for that kind of shit just makes it an order of magnitude worse, so rather than put him through that I shod myself once again, cranked up the O-Mobile and motored down the road to Copp’s to see what they had in the way of wet cat food.

And the answer is: Not much. To be more emphatic about it, what they have to offer is pathetic. Their selection of corn chips will make me dizzy enough to fall over and gasp for air, but as far as cat food goes they had Little Friskies, 9 Lives and I forget what the third one was. I started to read the labels so I wouldn’t buy anything with a lot of crap in it, but it was all crap, ingredients with Klingon names so long they had to print them in 0.0075-point font to get it all to fit on the back of the can, so I gave up and bought just one of the smallest tins on the shelf and promised myself I wouldn’t feed them the whole thing.

We spoil them with a dab of wet food just once a day because I can break open a capsule of Bonkers’ arthritis medicine and sprinkle the little grainy bits on the food, then mash it all together with a spoon so he doesn’t know it’s there, not that he would care. I could blow my nose on it and he’d still gobble it down. Boo gets a dab of wet food, too, because it just wouldn’t be fair to lavish such extravagance on Bonkers without treating Boo to a little of it, too.

Before I went to the store, My Darling B thought that maybe she could get Bonkers to take his medicine mixed with a teaspoon or two of fish broth. It should have worked. When she made chicken broth a week or two ago she gave him just a dollop of that and he lapped it up like a wino sucking the last drops of Thunderbird from a bottle, but as it turned out fish broth just isn’t his thing. He acted as though he couldn’t even smell it, screwing up his face at B as if to ask, “What the hell’s with this empty bowl here, you obnoxious tease?”

They were both just fine with the crap food I brought home from Copp’s, though. Both cats wolfed it down. That’s not a mixed metaphor, it just looks like one. After he was properly fed, Bonkers curled up in my lap after dinner, happy as a pig in mud, and was soon snoring loudly.

On a not unrelated note, we finally had dinner at Graze, the new brewpub on cap square. One of Madison’s best-known chefs, Tori Miller, moved his flagship restaurant, L’Etoile, two blocks south on Pinckney Street and paired it with a brewpub he named Graze. L’Etoile is an upscale restaurant; hayseeds like us can afford to eat there about once a year, twice if we come into a windfall. Graze is an upscale pub; the fare is high-priced, but not out of our range. I had a burger, B had the fish fry, both were wonderful. Hope we can go back soon.

Fine Dining | 8:37 pm CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, food & drink, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants | Tags:
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Friday, September 24th, 2010

image of sleeping cat owner

Our cats sleep with us. We don’t have a lot of choice in the matter, as anyone who has cats will tell you. I suppose we could put them out at night, but what’s the point of having cats if you’re going to kick them out of the house after lights out, effectively telling them they’re welcome to stay when you’re not around, but not when you want to get some sleep, the one thing cats love to do more than practically anything else?

Cats sleep a lot, and they find their own places to sleep. You can buy very cozy cat beds from your favorite pet store, and you can use all the coercion that cat experts give you to get your cats to sleep where you want them to, but in the end your cats will be the ones who decide where they will sleep. You can’t watch them all the time.

During the day, when you’re not around, they’ll sleep on the clothes you laid out for dinner in the evening, or on your good jacket, the one you left out to sew up a tear. And no cats on earth can resist curling up in laundry baskets heaped with freshly-washed clothes and left sitting in the middle of the living room floor to be folded later. Cat lovers learn early on to put away all their clothes if they don’t want to come back to find them covered in cat hair.

At night, cats will sleep where they feel most comfortable. During the summer in our house, they will find the coolest spot, usually on a floor or by an open window, because we don’t run the air conditioning all night. In the winter they will curl up in bed with us because the thermostat is set to lower the temps while we’re curled up under a big, thick down comforter.

Until a few nights ago we didn’t have a huge problem with any of this. A few minor quibbles, yes. Most notably, when I get a couple of full-grown cats curled up on either side of me, they hold down the quilt like a couple of sand bags, effectively pinning me to the mattress so completely that I wake up several times in the night with pressure sores. Worming out from under the covers to re-pile them at the foot of the bed so I can turn over is a bit of a pain, but not a huge problem.

But each of us has our own fussy peculiarities about what can take place in our bed. Breakfast in bed, for instance, is not something either one of us goes in for. I used to prepare a breakfast in bed for My Darling B on Mother’s Day and she ooo’d and aah’d appreciatively the first few times I did it but eventually came clean and confessed to me what I already knew, that there wasn’t any easy way to eat breakfast in bed without spilling the orange juice all over the eggs and getting crumbs on the sheets, and that she would rather just eat it at the table. No breakfast in bed has since become one of our rules.

A rule that we didn’t realize we would ever have to communicate to our cats, until very early in the morning a couple nights ago. One of the cats not only brought B a gift of a mouse as breakfast in bed, she plopped it right on the pillow next to B’s head where it scurried across her face and dove three feet from the edge to the safety of the floor. I don’t know what woke me up more abruptly, the way she honked like an air horn on a semi tractor or the jolt I got when she sprang out of bed.

We suspect Boo would’ve given her gift to B, while I would have been the lucky recipient of a gift from Bonkers. B’s normally a heavy sleeper but now she wakes and scans her horizon whenever she feels the bump of a cat jumping onto the bed, and as extra insurance she clicks on her bedside lamp to scan the floor before swinging her feet down if she has to make a trip to the WC.

Breakfast In Bed with Boo and B | 11:32 am CST
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Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

I woke at about four o’clock this morning and was at a complete loss to explain the reason for it. I hadn’t had a dream about a bear chasing and eating me, I didn’t have a cramp in my calf strong enough to bend steel, I hadn’t tried to swallow my tongue while snoring. With an hour to go until the alarm clock started having a bleeping fit, I had no idea what had brought me wide-awake … until I heard the sound of a cat moistly cleaning itself. It sounded as if it were inches from my ear.

I sat up in bed. It was inches from my ear! At some time during the night, one of our cats had wormed its way between us and all the way up to a point between our shoulder blades.

Both the cats like to sleep on our bed during the winter months, then go find cooler places to sleep during the warmer seasons. We don’t mind except in a few cases, like when they try to sleep on top of us. That earns either one of them a quick ejection from their comfy spot to the end of the bed or onto the floor. Nobody and nothing gets to sleep on top of me.

And both the cats have tried to mosey on up to the pillow more than once. B thinks that’s kind of cute, but I’m a little funny about having a cat on my pillow. It’s not that I’m worried about them sucking my soul out through my nose. It’s that I don’t want cat hair on my pillow, and keeping cats off it seems to be the easiest and most sure way to guarantee that. Plus, whenever they’re walking on my pillow I’m reminded that, no matter how much time they spend licking their own toes clean, they use the same dainty toes to walk on kitty litter, and that’s something I don’t want to put my head on. Ever.

And I don’t want to wake up at four o’clock in the morning to the sound of a cat licking itself. It’s a great time-saver they’re self-cleaning, and I say this as a guy with enough experience washing dogs that I will pay someone else to do it if I ever have one again. That doesn’t mean I like being in the same room with a cat that’s cleaning itself. It’s such a noisy process. And I don’t want to think about what they’re licking.

So the cat that woke me up this morning – judging from his size and weight, I think it was Bonkers – was rudely grappled and shoved more than halfway down the length of the bed to a less warm spot just behind my knees. And then I rolled myself up in the quilts and tried to go back to sleep, unsuccessfully. Why do we keep cats again?

sleeping arrangements | 7:20 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, O'Folks, sleeplessness
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Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

lappy catsOur cats are both “lappy,” Bonkers more so than Boo.
Bonkers almost always sits in my lap, Boo in B’s lap.

When I was too busy to share a lap the other night, though, Bonkers jumped up in B’s lap after he thought he’d waited long enough.

Then Boo, green-eyed monster that she can be, jumped up on top of Bonkers to claim what lap she could.
Didn’t seem to bother Bonkers much.

lappy | 9:58 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, My Darling B, O'Folks | Tags:
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Thursday, January 28th, 2010

cats waitingI keep finding these guys here in the morning, just sitting, like this, as if they’re waiting for something.

They can’t be waiting in line for the bathroom. We have two cat pans and two cats. There is no line, ever.

All I can think is, they’re doing that spooky cat thing where they sit and stare into space, as if they can see dead people.

waiting room | 8:56 am CST
Category: Bonkers, Boo, daily drivel, O'Folks
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