Apologies for things going a bit quiet, and for once, impending shows only take half of the blame. The other half is due to our adopting a new chew toy for our cat Alexandria: with Leiber gone, she was threatening to resemble a Thylacosmilus if her teeth didn’t get worn down regularly. Say hello to “Simon.”
Simon continues a 30-year run of adopting homeless cats: he apparently was found as a kitten abandoned at the University of Texas at Dallas campus. Although he appears to have some Abyssinian or Siamese heritage, he doesn’t express it: aside from the occasional chirp, he’s as silent as Alexandria. He also has the thinnest drybrush of white fur at his chest, which is about the only way to tell the two apart without picking them up. He also loathes being picked up: the biggest difference is that he’s as muscular as the typical brisket, and just as easy to put down without dropping when he’s determined to move.
As can be expected at this stage, we’re still assessing each others’ idiosyncrasies, but he’s already earned a nickname because of his habit of looking up soulfully and stage-falling to the ground. Those familiar with the Clifford Simak short story “Drop Dead” can appreciate why his now-permanent nickname is “Critter”.
Anyway, the real fun will be watching him react to the constant packing and unpacking of show season: if he decides he likes riding in the car, we may be in trouble.
It’s no stretch to say that Cadigan is one of the stranger cats I’ve ever known. It’s even less of a stretch to say that while Cadigan tolerates me as a source for food and clean catboxes, she’s the Czarina’s cat. She comes running to the garage door when the Czarina comes home, she begs for the Czarina to play with her, and she sleeps in the Czarina’s armpit whenever possible. At least she’s not as big as some other cats to share our lives: if she were a fifteen-kilo monster like a few from my recent past, she’d cut off blood circulation to an extremity.
My real regret in all of this is that Cadigan is incredibly camera-shy in situations where I need proof of odd behavior. She has a tendency to grab a rear paw with her two front paws and rub her face with her rear foot. She’s absolutely obsessed with being able to get into one closet and being locked in, and as we’re heading off for shows, we have to check that closet to make sure we don’t leave her sans food and water for the day. Best of all, she uses her purr as a weapon. When I roll over in my sleep and get too close, she starts a very loud and buzzing purr, not out of glee in realizing that a readily available source of heat moved closer, but as a warning much like that used by rattlesnakes to warn clumsy cattle of what awaits them if they keep moving closer. This rattle-purr isn’t endearing. It’s actually a little scary, especially when something that loud comes from a cat this small.
I’ve said before that Halloween at the Triffid Ranch is much like what New Year’s Eve was around Hunter S. Thompson’s house: it’s the day where we back off and let the amateurs get their time in. Many people look at Halloween as just the beginning of the American holiday season, and can’t wait for it to hit full swing. These people go to shopping malls without being held at gunpoint, and who don’t hum “The Gonk the whole time inside. They like all-Christmas terrestrial radio stations, and think that anyone who doesn’t sing along with the eightieth playing of “Santa Baby” is a Scrooge or Grinch. These are people who look forward to company Christmas parties so they can wear their best holiday sweaters, and not because they’re looking for an opportunity to get away with disemboweling everyone in the hotel or restaurant with a peppermint Hershey’s Kiss.
These people are sick.
For the rest of us, the ones who may actually be the sane ones, the week before Halloween is the time to stock up. Much like pikas storing huge caches of grasses in order to survive the Canadian winter, we stock up on rubber lizards, foam spiders, Jell-O molds in the shape of brains, and anything dark and spooky in anticipation of the next four to six months. Some of us, whose businesses celebrate the autumnal equinox the way others celebrate the first day of summer, stock up not for ourselves, but to spread the joy to others when the yellow hurty thing in the sky takes over more and more of the earth’s rotational cycle, and we start thinking “Nine months underground and emerging only to suck eggs and eat baby bunnies…you know, maybe Gila monsters have the right idea.”
And thus, that’s how I ended up in a Michael’s crafts store. In North Texas, Michael’s isn’t just a dark, quiet place to escape the worst of the summer. It’s our annual reminder that the Heat Will End. By the end of August, right when the heat and glare are at their most oppressive, Michael’s can always be depended upon to start stocking the latest in animatronic bats, poison bottles, and skeleton hands. For a little while, one can walk inside and look forward to pulling jackets out of storage, opening the windows to let the cool breezes inside, and grabbing a cup of something hot without shuddering. For many of us, it’s also the season for the year’s new Lemax Spooky Town collection. For years, Spooky Town resin mausoleum and tombstone figures have been an absolute in Triffid Ranch plant arrangements, and when the big draw this year, the Hemlock’s Nursery carnivorous plant nursery display, was for sale at half off, it had to come home.
Well, one of us was more thrilled than the others at the newest display in the office. Demonstrating her namesake‘s attraction to “If I fits, I sits” cat photos, our Cadigan decided to demonstrate that the only thing better for an orange kitty than a box from which to hold court is a Halloween box. Oh, she’s going to be disappointed when we finally have to take down the decorations and acknowledge that All Hallow’s Eve is over and done…by mid-May or so.
It should be mentioned that not all Guest Cats are those belonging to friends and cohorts. For instance, a couple of guys at the office building where the Day Job is located found a really pretty kitty out along the side. They even named this little guy, but what exactly does “Lepew” mean?
Incidentally, no run of Guest Cat appearances would be complete without the notorious Alfred hogging the camera. Incidentally, this was right after he engaged in one of his favorite hobbies: looking straight at me, walking to a bookshelf, and flipping a few books onto the floor. While I was trying to pick them up, he jumped onto his cat perch, nearly dislodging it and killing me in the process. As with Chloe, don’t trust the expression: he’s apparently decided that his perfect breakfast meal is human flesh, and he’s also decided that the state of affairs between leopards and hominins two million years ago is a tradition that needs to be reinstated.
And another Guest Cat appearance, this time from the famed Chloe In The Wall. Don’t let the thoughtful expression fool you. She’s already figured out 28 ways to kill you, and that’s before you can wake up in the morning.
And with the ending of summer comes time for Guest Cat Monday, featuring the photogenic beasts of my friend Madelyn’s acquaintance. She and the Czarina take off to Houston for a show and Galveston for a good soak in the ocean, and catsitting becomes an adventure in posing.
Those who care for ginger cats already know that most gingers have no fear of man, beast, or god, and when they appear to flee a bad situation, they’re generally only plotting a strategic retreat. Well, that applies to most ginger cats. The neighborhood has a new top feline, nicknamed by the Czarina “F*ckYouCat”. Not that she’d dare say it to his face, but that’s his default expression. Find him basking in the alley when you’re driving in? His expression practically screams “Don’t make me break my foot off in your ass”. Catch him digging in the garden? Watch out, because he’s probably armed. Don’t get me going about his habit of camping on the car hood while I’m using the garage for various projects, because he just dares you to say something about it. He has all of the neighborhood dogs and cats terrorized and pacified, and I fully expect he’ll have the neighborhood armadillos beaten soft by the end of next weekend.
Surprisingly, F*ckYouCat is amenable to photography, so long as you don’t expect him to do much of anything but glare. However, when he’s done, he’s really good about showing what he considers to be his best side.