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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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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 CST
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Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Why is sleeping in late so damned tiring? I don’t know when to get out of bed, and when I finally force myself I can’t make my ass move any faster than a … a really tired, slow thing that can’t stop yawning. Sorry, I’m still half-asleep as I write this drivel.

I can get out of bed a lot quicker when I do it robotically at five o’clock in the morning, then time when the alarm clock usually starts to bleat. On a work day I can move with a purpose; on a day off, I have so much time all to myself that I hardly know whether to shit or get off the pot.

I’d set my alarm for maybe six or seven, just to take the problem of deciding when to get up out of the equation, but then My Darling B would make fun of me. She doesn’t have any problems at all with sleeping in. Never has, that I can remember.

The cats love her for it. They curl up on either side of her to keep warm and do what cats do best and most often, sleep the day away. Of course, that’s after the oldest one wakes up between five and six and wanders from room to room, howling at the dead people for about an hour. You’d think that by now he’d be used to having the spectral denizens of the afterlife wandering through the walls of our house, but no.

Wakey Wakey | 8:12 am CST
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Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I found Boo sitting on the end of the dining room table when I turned on the lights this morning. She’s usually waiting for me there, couldn’t be more obvious about what she wanted if she had a bib and was propping up a knife and fork with each paw. And, usually, I snap my finger and she jumps down off the table without delay, but this morning she just grumbled at me.

“What?” I asked, incredulously, and snapped my finger again. She still wouldn’t budge.

I reached for the squirt gun. That’s usually enough to change her mind, but not this morning. I grabbed the squirt gun. She still didn’t make a move to get down, so I swung around and pointed the squirt gun at her, giving her one last chance. She only blinked her eyes at me, with lots of attitude, as if to say, Yeah? Bring it. So I shot her in the face.

She shook it off, did a one-eighty to turn her butt to me, and sat back down again, very slowly. This is what I think of your squirt gun, bitch.

Hoo boy, did she get drenched for that.

Little Squirt | 6:30 am CST
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Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Trying to think of suitable drivel to release upon the world is never an easy task; trying to do it while Bonkers the cat is squatting beside the grand exalted throne deep in the heart of drivel HQ going “Ehhh! Ehhh!” makes it even harder.

Bonkers doesn’t go “Meow” like other cats. Bonkers goes “Ehhh!” It’s an improvement. He used to bark like a dog. Well, not exactly like a dog, but so close that you had to wonder if he wasn’t raised by a German shepherd. But the “Ehhh!” can still be kind of unnerving, especially when he does it over and over. Sometimes it’s like he’s about to speak.

For many people drivel comes easy, so easy that they rake in stunning piles of money in exchange for their mental drool. I can’t understand it, but they’re all over television and radio every single day. How do they do it? If I could figure out the answer to that riddle, I’d have the tiger by the tail, the jinni in the lamp, a goose that laid the golden egg, and all my readers by the short hairs. But, as you see, I have no discretion when it comes to self-control. I know lots of metaphors and I’m not afraid to use them, even though I should be.

Still, it bugs me. After dinner, My Darling B and I were trying to remember the last good television show we saw and couldn’t come up with anything we thought was worth paying the four to six hundred dollars a year we’d fork over if we succumbed to the herd mentality and subscribed to cable television. I think the last program we all watched together was either Lost or Heroes, two shows that were mildly interesting when they started but lost me so fast I felt like Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner.

And I don’t mean they lost me intellectually; I mean they started to suck. I stayed with Lost for two seasons because nearly every series has quite a few hiccups in the first two seasons while it tries to find its feet. There was plenty of time for Lost to live up to its promise, but it never did. It just kept sinking lower and lower. After the bug-eyed guy showed up I couldn’t even figure out what it was about any more, and walked away.

And Heroes, what a waste. I would’ve given it a chance by sticking with it through the second season if it didn’t make me feel like such an obvious schmuck for doing so. I haven’t watched any television series since.

B stuck with both Lost and Heroes to the bitter end, like a marathon runner obviously in great pain but determined to cross the finish line. And like those psychos she wept in pain and wondered why she was doing it, but she crossed the line, she got the t-shirt, she can say she did it. I still don’t know why, and to this day she’s not sure she can explain it, either. Poor thing.

I burp this up after succumbing to curiosity and searching out several episodes of the old Star Trek series. I’d turned up several blogs that celebrated the can-do spirit of the original show and, in a fit of nostalgia, caved in and let myself waste an hour or two with whatever was available on YouTube, and you know what? That show sucked. Like a victim of an emotionally traumatic experience, I had no clear memory of how bad it was: The hammy acting, the clunky dialog, the piss-poor production values. It was such a bad show in almost every way, and I spent just about every afternoon of my teenaged life watching every episode, most of them three or four times.

Drivel. It’s what’s for dinner.

Ehhh! Ehhh! | 9:38 pm CST
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Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

image of sleeping sick guy

I’m still trying to sleep off the effects of this head cold I caught, so this will necessarily be brief before I have to go medicate myself with my hourly fistful of over-the-counter drugs, drink a pint of water and stretch out on the recliner for my early-mid-late-afternoon nap.

My symptoms today are a lot worse than they were the day before, and they were plenty bad yesterday. “You look like shit,” My Darling B observed, gazing across the dinner table at me. “I hope you don’t take that the wrong way.” I was too burned out to take it any way at all.

This morning I had a clear head for about an hour, long enough to make the ceremonial pot of coffee and eat a bowl of granola before I wrapped myself up in quilts and retreated to the recliner with a hot cuppa joe and the Sunday paper. I barely touched either of them before I was drifting in and out of consciousness.

I’d forgotten how much I hate being this sick. For an hour or more I struggled to keep my eyes open as waves of congestion swelled my face up and filled my eyes with tears. I could read three or four paragraphs before I had to put the newspaper down, reel off a yard and a half of toilet paper from the roll I kept at my side, and explosively blow a quart or two of snot from my sinuses. Finally I just gave up, popped a couple decongestants, stretched out with my eyes closed and prayed for death.

When I finally came to again, round about two in the afternoon, I was feeling well enough to make myself a cup of tea, and passed a few hours by reading a few chapters of the book I’m chipping away at, The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. It even made some sense, unlike the news stories I was trying to figure out this morning. But I can tell a relapse is coming on quickly and I’ll have to go pop a couple more decongestant capsules before becoming an inert lump on the recliner once again.

The photo’s from yesterday; B snapped it while I was out like a light. She’s been babying me as much as she dares, but mostly she’s trying to keep her distance, and I don’t blame her one bit. The cats, on the other hand, aren’t squeamish at all about my condition. The great thing about cats is they’ll curl up with you whether you’re healthy or sick. All they’re looking for is a warm lap, and once they’ve claimed it they’ll stubbornly stay there no matter how wetly you sneeze on them. They can’t catch your bug, so they don’t care.

Out Go The Lights! | 3:25 pm CST
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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, September 14th, 2010

image of Boo the cat

Bonkers is feeling much better today, thanks for asking. The vet gave him some meds for arthritis and some painkillers because the meds don’t kick in for two to three days. He’s up and around this morning, almost as active as his old self. Hesitates a bit before jumping up in my lap, as if he’s thinking about the twinge he’s going to feel as he pushes off, but he jumps up nonetheless, happy to be home.

Boo is not happy at all about Bonkers coming back from the vet. She skulks along the far side of the room when she wants to get past him, growling at him the whole time. She’s like that every time he goes to the vet without her, I guess because he smells funny when he gets back. She usually gets over it fairly quickly, but she was still hissing and spitting at him this morning while I was trying to get some meds into him.

The odor of the wet food I was sprinkling the medicine on pulled her in like a crappie on the end of a well-baited line so we gave her some, too, but she was very upset she had to be in the same room with Bonkers and wouldn’t stop spitting at him until My Darling B turned on her and cut loose with a barrage of hissing and spitting that sent Boo reeling back on her haunches. If communication is the proof of intelligence, then Boo confirmed hers, because her face said, “What the hell, woman?”

Even though I put her in a bedroom and closed the door for a well-deserved time out that lasted several hours, she managed to keep her sour mood going through the rest of the day. The first thing she did when I finally opened the door to let her out was hiss at Bonkers, who was standing in the hallway to see if she wanted to be friends again. The poor guy couldn’t figure out what her problem was and followed her from room to room as if to ask, “What’s wrong?”

If the funky smell of been-to-the-vet Bonkers drove Boo to hissy fits, being stalked by him made her even crazier. She skulked across the far side of the room, as far away from him as possible, growling as she made her way behind sofas and under chairs, to get a bite to eat and a drink of water. When she found Bonkers standing in the doorway of the dining room on her way back, she not only had another hissy fit, she gave him a couple swats on the nose, too, earning a good drenching from the squirt bottle.

Backing off with a genuinely hurt expression on his face, Bonkers tried once again to figure out what was wrong by following her across the living room, but Boo very pointedly answered that she did not want to talk about it, and eventually he gave up and curled up on the pile of dirty clothes I had sorted to wash and took a day-long nap.

You Know What They’re Thinking | 9:20 am CST
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Sunday, September 12th, 2010

image of cat

How the hell do you keep cats off your head when you sleep at night? I’m desperately serious. Some people have bedbugs, we have cats. Now that I think of it, we got them almost the same way you get bedbugs: We brought them home with us in a valise. The difference was that we meant to, although I sometimes wonder why.

The fall season is one of those times. The weather’s cooling off at night and the cats have determined that the warmest place in the house is curled up on the bed with us. At first they were content to curl up at the foot of the bed, like good little kitties. Made a nice little Norman Rockwellish picture.

But it’s been getting cooler each successive night, and while the temps have gone down, the cats have moved up from the foot of the bed to our legs, then our hips, then snuggling in between our bodies, and last night Bonkers spent the night as close to my head as he could get. I found out when he announced himself by vigorously scratching his ears, then shaking his head, his flapping ears making a noise like a machine-gun. Coming awake from deep sleep, I just about jumped out of my skin when he did that.

Since he was awake anyway, he felt the need at that moment to noisily clean his feet. I scooped him up and dumped him at the foot of the bed, hoping he would finish his bath there. I think he did, but I found out later he had stealthily crept back to settle in at my shoulder. I woke up less than an hour later to the sound of Bonkers yawning in my ear. He can noiselessly stalk a mouse but when he yawns, he sounds like ten pounds of wet spaghetti dropped on the kitchen floor.

This can’t go on. I need to sleep. I don’t need more than just a few hours of undisturbed slumber, but I can’t get it when cats are camping out on my head, making scary noises. Locking them out of the room is not the solution; they sit outside, scratching at the door and crying like the worst kind of spoiled brats, which I guess they are. I’ve tried breaking them of that but haven’t been able to. That’s just not an option. Neither is throwing them out for the night. I can see why some people take the easy way out and do that, but it’s not fair to the cat or my neighbors. There’s got to be a way to teach them to stay at the foot of the bed without hog-tying them and dumping them there, although I admit that sounds like a very good idea right now.

A guy walks into a bar with a cat on his head … | 9:49 am CST
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Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

While putting away the various flotsam and jetsam scattered across the living room floor of Our Humble O’Bode the day after our return from a weekend at the Chain O’ Lakes, I moved an empty bag aside to find … cat puke. One of our little rascals felt the need to unload his or her morning meal, found a corner to barf in last weekend and left a prezzie for us. How lovely.

Remind me again why we keep pets? I’ve heard that they’re supposed to keep your blood pressure low and restore calm to your life, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with our cats. Some day I’ll find out, and I promise I’ll share it with you. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though, if I were you. It’ll probably be something really boring, like “They’re good for catching mice,” or some such. Just don’t expect too much, is all I’m saying.

cat prezzie | 6:52 am CST
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Friday, August 27th, 2010

image of mouse

Boo brought me breakfast in bed! What a good Boo!

It’s not at all unusual for Boo to jump up into our bed when the alarm goes bleep in the morning so she can lay claim to the warm spot I leave behind when I get up to make coffee for My Darling B. Sometimes she even cuddles up next to me as if maybe she likes me, but I think she might actually be trying to push me aside so she can curl up before the warmth fades away, even though she weighs less than a tenth of what I weigh.

So I didn’t think anything of it when she jumped up next to me as I sat on the edge of the bed this morning, rubbing my eyes to get the sleepers out. I even put a hand on her head to rub her ears a bit, and that’s about when she ducked and Puh! spat out a mouse, her special gift for me.

Oh, Boo! I never knew you loved me that much!

Prezzie from Boo | 9:21 pm CST
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Monday, June 21st, 2010

In Mouse-Catching News: Boo was acting all funny Saturday night, jumping around and chasing shadows across the floor. That’s usually the kind of thing Bonkers does, else My Darling B wouldn’t have taken much notice of her. “Whatcha doin’, Boo?” she asked, and when Boo turned to look at her, B noticed a mouse’s tail hanging from Boo’s mouth, just like in the cartoons.

I was in the bedroom so I didn’t see any of this, but I did hear B holler, “Oh, gross!” Then she called for help when Boo spat the mouse on the floor. I arrived on the scene just in time to chase the mouse across the living room floor and stick it in a jar. It was playing dead until I reached for it, then took off like a shot, heading for the hallway with me in hot pursuit while B struggled to hold the cats in check.

B doesn’t like mice in the house but would rather not kill them if she can help it, so when we catch one, or the cats do, we take it to a nearby park and release it. B took this one to a park just up the block in an empty applesauce jar to let it go, then came back and, just as she was beginning to relax again, Bonkers brought a mouse up from the basement and started chasing it around the living room!

Unfortunately for Miss Mouse, B couldn’t get to that one in time for a live release. Bonkers beats them up pretty bad chasing them around, although they’re such small, bouncy things you’d think they’d be able to handle that a little better than being inside a cat’s freaking mouth! When B finally got Bonkers to let his prize go it was limp as a noodle, not playing dead at all. The applesauce jar was only a temporary holding spot on the way to the trash can for that little furball.

bleh | 9:15 am CST
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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

The cats let me sleep until around three in the morning, when Bonk let out a tentative wail, then ran into the bathroom to hide. He hasn’t done that in months, not since we bought robot cat feeders. After he woke me up, Boo walked across my face, the same thing she used to do when she was hungry and wanted me to get up and feed her. What the hell?

Sometimes it takes me a while to figure these things out. When enough of my nerve endings were fired up, it came back to me that one of the things I tried to remember to do before bed, and utterly failed at, was reload the robot cat feeders. They hadn’t even seen kitty kibble since the dish spun it all away at nine-thirty the night before. Since they weren’t about to let me go back to sleep, I got out of bed, trudged through the murk to the kitchen and reset the feeders so they could have a little after-dark snack.

After that, a passing storm kept me from getting back to sleep right away, and when it finally let up I think the change in pressure made B roll over and start sawing lumber. I spent the rest of the early-morning hours alternating between dozing off and whispering, “Turn over, dear.”

kibble? | 7:47 pm CST
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Monday, April 12th, 2010

mouse, miceWe have mice.

I figured the cats were keeping them down. Well, one of the cats, anyway. Bonkers is a pretty enthusiastic mouser, when one happens to cross his path, but, as it turns out, he doesn’t go out on the hunt to track them down. Boo is really very ambivalent about mice. They can come, they can go, maybe she’ll check them out when they get here, whatever.

Two or three times this winter, Bonkers brought us a mouse he caught in the basement. One morning I got up to find him batting one around on the kitchen floor. And lately I’ve been seeing little mousie calling cards all along the walls in the basement. I should have set traps before this, but, as I said, I thought the cats would be going after them so I wouldn’t have to.

Then the other day, as I was raking the cat pans, I found a trail of little black mouse turds along the wall leading behind the chimney into the next room. That solved the mystery of what they were eating. The kitty litter is wheat-based; it’d be a mouse smorgasbord, wouldn’t it? “We must have made the front page of the Monona Mouse Bulletin when we brought that stuff home,” My Darling B said. “Party at the O-Home! Don’t worry about the dumb cats!”

So how to get rid of them? On our weekend trip to the hardware store I grabbed a packet of old-fashioned mouse traps off the pegboard wall. My only worry was that the cats would be tripping them all the time and probably even get caught in them. My Darling B’s worry was that it would kill the mice.

“But they’re mice,” I pointed out.

“You want to kill them?”

“Well, no, I don’t want to kill them. Do you want them in your house?”

In the end, we agreed to try a live-catch trap, a tiny plastic box with a trap door on one end that drops and latches shut when a mouse walks into the box. I have to reset them several times a day because the cats trip them shut every time they stepped in and out of their litter pans, but this morning when I picked one of them up it was a little bit heavier than it should have been, so I upended it over this apple sauce jar and out came a mouse.

Huh. Bigger than I thought it would be.

hickory dickory dock | 3:47 pm CST
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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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