Tag Archives: cats

Acute ailurophilia

In 415 blog posts I haven’t yet written about my cats. Sure, I’ve mentioned Ricky and Lucy a time or two, but they’ve never been the subject of the blog. There’s a reason for that.

Six-and-a-half years ago, a wise person cautioned me that people who talk about their pets are boring. I don’t necessarily agree but–except in the most personal company–I’ve  borne that advice in mind.

That wise person was my son. When my husband and I began thinking of getting a pet after not having had one, we consulted our son, primarily because he suffered from allergies. He said he’d support our getting a cat under the firm condition that we not become “pet people.”

To his mind, “not being pet people” came in two parts: not talking about pets to anyone and not putting their pictures on Christmas cards.

I honored this condition for a while but, when our son went off to college, Ricky and Lucy achieved human status and bumped him from his place in the household hierarchy. Yes, I’m a Crazy Cat Lady–what of it?

Last week I noticed a blog featured on Freshly Pressed, WordPress’ selection of best posts. It caught my eye because it didn’t include more than a few words. Simply, there were pictures of cats. Lots of pictures of cats. Cute and funny pictures of cats. Here, have a look.

I thought, if the good people at WordPress deemed this sweet display worthy of featuring, then I might be free to express my ailurophilia for just one day in this space, usually devoted to the written word.

Meet Lucy, who likes helping me in the office:

Now meet Ricky, who works feats of marvel and self incarceration:

Please don’t unsubscribe. I’ll be back with words next time.


Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home


There’s a lot of activity in our house. I’m up early this morning to post a few words and power up for the holiday.

My brother and his family are visiting from Utah and are staying with us. My nephew’s marching band will be in America’s 2011 Independence Day Parade today in Washington, so his parents and brothers are here for the festivities. The family hasn’t been here since the eve of the millennium more than 11 years ago, and our son doesn’t get to see his cousins often; this is a special visit for all of us.

There are seven humans and two cats in a house normally occupied by two, plus various and sundry others dropping in, so we’re operating at a heightened state of energy. The glorious sounds of giggles, piano music, video games, pets being chased and balls being thrown waft through the air. I can never hear “Hey, Aunt Monica, …” enough times.

Because we are one person over bed capacity, our son sleeps on a cot in the living room. This has turned out to be the most coveted space, a place to lie down in the middle of it all. I took a serious nap there yesterday.

Our recycling bin is brimming with empty orange and grape Fanta cans, evidence of the fuel that has thus far powered our holiday weekend.

Well, that pretty much sets the stage. We’ll be leaving for the parade in a few minutes, implementing the complex transportation plan we’ve created for moving about the city today. I haven’t been to the National Mall for the Fourth of July in about 30 years. I’m excited about sharing my native capital city with visiting loved ones on this day set aside for celebrating the birth of our country. If I’m lucky there’ll be stories to tell, though those may need to wait until I have more time to write.

God bless America and pass the Fanta.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Food, Hearth and Home, Holidays

Glaring cast of characters

We’ve talked before about collective nouns. Recently I got thinking about the vast variety of verbiage assigned to collections of animals and insects.

We know that there are herds of cattle, elephants, caribou, antelope (or is it antelopes?) and zebras. We know that are prides of lions.

Did you that a group of rhinos is a crash? How about a troop of baboons, a sleuth of bears or a pod of walruses?

I didn’t know it at the time, but I’ve seen grists of bees and, appropriately, intrusions of cockroaches.

My son sees rafters of turkeys and bales of turtles on the roads where he lives.

I hope that I shall never encounter an ambush of tigers. But while we’re talking felines: What got me thinking about these words was a recent episode of one of my favorite TV shows, The Big Bang Theory. In fact, this whole blog post was a pretext for sharing a clip from this video, the first 50 seconds of which focus on the collective nouns pertaining to large numbers of my favorite domestic creature.

Because I currently have most of my faculties, I have only two, Lucy and Ricky. Who knows, one day I might assemble a full cast: Fred, Ethel, Little Ricky, Carolyn Applebee and Mrs. Trumbull.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Hearth and Home, Movies, Television and Radio

Out to lunch

I’m a woman without a kitchen.

This is Day Twenty-six of the most modest of kitchen renovations, and between now and Day Twenty-nine, we’re losing all access to the kitchen, the largest room in our house and the space through which all people and pets must pass.

As I’ve told you several times already, my husband and I painted this large room ourselves, a significant feat for several reasons. It took almost a week.

Now the contractors are here to refinish the floors, a process I’m told will generate significant amounts of dust. Instead of writing my blog, I spent the morning hours removing the remaining items from the counters and sealing up all of the cabinets because, if gobs of pine dust fill my drawers, I will surely melt. I’m already teetering on the edge of sanity.

My husband is away and the plan was for the pets and me to move out for the week. I’m still not sure how that is going to work out. Ricky and Lucy are already completely confused. Every day is a scavenger hunt for their litter boxes and food dishes. I notice them consulting with each other as they approach the search.

This morning they are locked in a bedroom until I can map the next step. A ride in the car will most certainly do them in. Trust me. When this is over they’re going to need some therapy.

Meanwhile, I have newfound respect for do-it-yourself-ers and even for those who live with large home renovations executed by others. I’ve heard stories of people washing dishes in bathtubs and eating out of their microwaves in the basement for weeks and months on end. We’re not even touching cabinets or counter tops or more than one appliance, and it’s rattling.

You know that feeling when the electricity goes out and you walk in a room and try to switch on the light? And then do it again five minutes later? Any bets on how many times in the next three days I bump into plastic sheeting as I try to enter my kitchen?

I wonder what the special is at Nick’s Diner.


Filed under Hearth and Home

All shook up

I blog today with a broken heart. In fact, my hands are shaky and my knees are weak, I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet.

Some time ago, I introduced you to Elvis. As cheesy as this might sound, my family and I fell hopelessly in love with Elvis, a 19-year-old deaf, arthritic cat when, about two months ago when, for whatever reason, he left his family and came to live on our side of the street. We suspected that he suspected that his long life was coming to an end.

I pretended that Elvis came to me, the hospice lady, for comfort and end-of-life care. The reality is, I fed him, as did our next door neighbors, who also provided him with a warm bed on their front porch. We all know what animals do when you feed them. But I took Elvis on as my latest hospice patient, giving him as much food as he wanted and wrapping him in a towel when he was too confused to take cover from the rain.

Yesterday, while away on a business trip, I received a message from our neighbor that Elvis had returned home to his family, where he died. According to the note, Elvis “spent the last several nights curled up inside, comfortably on a pillow.” As with most hospice situations, and as it should be, the patient died surrounded by family.

When I get home, I will kneel at the spot under our bushes where Elvis made his temporary home and remember how he brightened my life with his sweet purr and the meow that sounded like a duck quacking.

I can only hope that, wherever animals go when they die, Elvis lives on in his own Graceland.

Godspeed, Elvis. Love ya, buddy.


Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home, In Memoriam

Beg your pardon?

If you are looking for cheap amusement, plant yourself in the waiting room of any veterinary office and eavesdrop.

Of course, one person’s amusement is another one’s pet crisis, so it isn’t my intention to be insensitive.

Last Saturday afternoon, as my husband and I were waiting for our twin tuxedo cats to be seen for their annual physicals, we couldn’t help but overhear the receptionist’s conversations.

“So you say Lila needs more Prozac?”

“What kind of breathing problems is Little Bit having?” Let’s just leave it that Little Bit was neither a cat nor a dog.

I suppose I giggled too soon. The next thing I know we were being told, “Lucy is obese. She needs to go on a low carbohydrate diet so she doesn’t develop diabetes.” I guess that’s better than last year’s words from the vet,” Lucy needs dental surgery.” Perhaps if we hadn’t fixed her teeth she wouldn’t have tipped the scale at almost 17 pounds, blessherheart.

After we got instructions for getting Lucy off the Fancy Feast, the veterinary tech consoled us with heaping helpings of Halloween candy and sent us on our way. That is, after we forked over more money than at my last doctor visit. Of course, conversations at the human doctor aren’t as fun to overhear.


Filed under Health, Holidays

Can’t help falling in love

I have a new love in my life. He is black, has advanced arthritis, is mostly deaf and is 96. I am head over heels crazy about him. And I know he loves me. His name is Elvis.

Elvis is a 19-year-old cat who ran away from home, from across the street, about three weeks ago. He divides his time between our yard and that of our next door neighbors, with whom we share a driveway. In fact, the driveway is his favorite place to sleep. He doesn’t respond to the sound of a car engine or horn, which means I have to physically move him when I want to get in or out of the driveway.

The poor little guy is fur and bones, with a raspy Clint Eastwood-esque meow, with which he greets me every morning, before and after I go to the gym. He follows me to my front door, hoping to get a look at my house cats, Ricky and Lucy. It’s our little ritual. He still has quite a purr going, and he is wildly affectionate. He doesn’t seem to have any interest in going home; perhaps he knows something about his future that he wants to keep on the DL.

I love Ricky and Lucy dearly, but I have a special fondness for Elvis. Ricky and Lucy are my babies, but Elvis is my man, my scrawny little hunka burning love.


Filed under Family and Friends, Music

Clean by the numbers

Today’s might seem like a mundane topic. I chose it for several reasons. For one, this blog is about language and life and sometimes life is, well, mundane. Thank goodness. The second reason is that it gives me a chance to mix a few numbers in with the words for a change.

We have been in our house 20 years this month. Our house was built in 1912. Much like a 98-year-old person, a 98-year-old house needs a lot of care and attention, even if the results aren’t readily visible.

The big news for us is that, after two homes and almost 25 years of marriage—including 25 sweltering summers in the swampy Washington, D.C. area—we are soon going to get central air conditioning. We will also be waterproofing our damp basement. Big dollars, little aesthetic value, but a welcome change.

Those of you who know me personally know I am a clean freak. My fastidiousness is outdone only by my germophobia. Even so, there are areas within this 98-year-old house that get neglected.

Saturday I spent six hours cleaning the basement, five of which were spent scrubbing the cement floor.

As I view all unpleasant tasks as learning experiences, I thought I would share with you what I learned on Saturday.

  1. Five hours of basement mopping burn as many calories, and yield as many sore muscles, as three months of Jazzercise.
  2. A new sponge mop is good for two to three basement cleanings. When you haven’t cleaned the basement in three years, the equation is: 1 mop = 3/4 of a  cleaning.
  3. Eradicating visible mold from concrete walls takes one-half of a large bottle of Tilex and two gallons of elbow grease.
  4. The drip pan of a dehumidifier should be cleaned more often than once every 20 years.
  5. When a husband comes downstairs to “help,” his patience with your goals and methods lasts approximately 15 minutes, fewer if you have been off coffee for 15 days. Never mind how I know this.
  6. Even though we had only one child, we will have enough toys, books, games, puzzles, art supplies and Pez dispensers for 12 grandchildren.
  7. The moment you empty two litter boxes is the same moment in which two cats hear a call of nature.
  8. Finally, if you “accidentally” suck crickets into a vacuum cleaner, they will continue to chirp for up to 45 minutes.


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas