Perry wanted to send a message today.
Thinking of reading this book as the title attracts me. What do you think?
Following a writing prompt requiring the poet to pull words from a published book, I ended up with this poem. I wish I could remember which prompt I used–and how much I varied or not from it, but it was a couple of months ago. And these months have been full of work stress, so my memory looks moth-eaten.
The book I used was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a popular “writing text.” The subtitle is “Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” and I would say that the instructions are more on point for life–and maybe that’s why it is so popular!
WHAT TO NAME A CAT
(in the voice of Anne Lamott)
One Door Shut
Way to the Truth
Each one of these names resonates for me with what cats mean to me. Gosh, that sounds like an essay assignment for fifth grade. A fun assignment!
Maybe you can find a name for your next cat from my list haha.
For two years, Tanman and Louise have lived at the shelter. They were born, along with their sister Thelma, in a laundry room, and received very little human attention in the first months of their lives. This means that they came to the shelter in the no-cats-land of not being feral because they had never been outside for a second in their lives and not being socialized either. At the shelter, we discovered that they are great with other cats and love to play. But they are afraid of humans getting too close.
In this photo you can see it says they were at the shelter 600 days, but that was printed in December. Thelma is the tabby and Tanman is, that’s right, the tan and white.
This story takes a good turn, I promise.
A couple of weeks ago, they were adopted together by “Catification Couple,” a couple who have a lot of cats and devote their lives to taking care of them. Their house is designed for cats, in fact.
If you want the fun of seeing Tanman and Louise warm up to humans you can follow their stories on Instagram or Facebook. They do post, as well, but to really see what goes on with these two kitties you have to watch the stories.
So I have been spending a lot of time (that I don’t have) going through files and files of old paperwork–writing drafts, academic papers, business “dead files,” and personal business out-of-date stuff. So far I have 8 banker boxes of shredding :/.
What motivated me is that I am missing a list of items that I know are just misplaced. When you have too much stuff, you can’t find what you really want to find.
But I am reading a few things before I toss them.
Audre Lorde is one of my favorite poets. My dissertation (gosh, that feels like such ancient history now–and it really is) is structured on one type of identity for each chapter. Then I focused on one poet for each identity. A chapter I was excited about, but never got to was “the performance of economics,” using Lorde’s poetry. She so often uses images and metaphors of money and math. I suspect it meant that she dealt with feelings about worth. Reading this poem made me remember how disappointed I was to exclude the proposed chapter from my dissertation, but I already had enough word count and just wanted to graduate.
Going through all this stuff is making me wonder what other writers do to organize all their work. It seems an ongoing time-consuming project to organize well. Right now I have a binder of published poems and a binder of published prose with lists for each. But the binders are full and they seem a bit disorganized. Then I have a binder for all the paperwork related to Doll God and one for Kin Types. Maybe it’s my habit of losing things that make me want to use binders instead of just file folders.
There is still much to be gone through, but I am losing my passion for it. My allergies are in an uproar over the dust I’ve stirred up, and I’m tired of the same project. And have started to feel overwhelmed by how many incomplete poem drafts I’ve found!
Do you do intense organizing like this? If so, how often do you engage in it? I sort of think this is my first time . . . .
What lovely news I had yesterday! Longridge Review nominated “The Secret Kotex Club” for a Pushcart Prize! Thank you so much to the magazine and editor Elizabeth Gaucher for their support of my work. I am gobsmacked and verklempt and shocked.
The gardener and I had a lovely Thanksgiving day with daughter and her boyfriend. The cats were happy to see us all happy together. We started the day with a hearty breakfast and mimosas spiced up with Grand Marnier.
The gardener made rotisserie turkey on the grill outside (Arizona weather, you know), plus I bought a small spiral-cut ham. Then there were the sides. Both kids made dishes, and I made more. By the way, I don’t need to be afraid of gluten free stuffing (dressing for you southerners) because it turned out great. You would never have known it was free of gluten.
Now this coming weekend we are having a holiday party with all four kids and my DIL’s parents (as well as some other festivities).
To give you a smile for this week, here are my boys decked out in gift bowties a lady made them.
Felix has a halo because he is always a good boy.
Perry is not as good, but he sure is cute.
The scratches on his nose are caused by one of the girls. He annoys them, and they tell him to get lost (with their claws).
If you think Perry is cute, I will tell you that my friend is fostering another gray and white boy cat in Phoenix that is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE and a cuddle bunny and of a perfect disposition! She can’t keep him much longer with her other cats (she has as many as I do). His name is Asher (I helped name him), and we desperately want him to go to the best possible home.
Here is his bio:
Asher was found abandoned on the streets. He is a real sweetheart, a darling cat who does not have a single mean cell in his body, he is truly a gentle giant. He will follow his person around the house like a puppy, wanting attention and company. He’s good with other nice cats, dogs, and people. He is 13 lbs of love, loud purrs, and he is a big kneader and talker too. His estimated age is between 2 and 3 years old. He is desperately looking for someone who will give him a warm, loving forever home and family and will never abandon him as his previous humans did. Even though he tested FIV +, his lifespan is no different than those cats who are FIV-, as long as he is fed good quality diet and kept healthy. Asher appears to be in excellent health now. His adoption fee is $50 and it includes neuter, microchip, FeLV (-)/FIV(+) test. It also includes a free wellness exam in a cat-friendly hospital with a veterinarian who is up-to-date on FIV and can offer professional advice and guidance regarding proper care for Asher. For most up-to-date information and to learn more about FIV visit this website: https://www.fivcatrescue.org With all inquiries about Asher please contact his foster at email@example.com or text at (480) 652-4852.
Make it a good week. My solution to minimize holiday stress is to plan like crazy with itineraries and lists and then relax and be flexible, using the written notes as guidelines to be used when necessary and ignored when possible.
The big news around our house is that we finally adopted Perry. He’s no longer our foster cat, but our permanent family member.
Perry is full of cuteness. He still fetches and cuddles and licks. He also sits up on his butt like a little meerkat. He looks like he’s praying.
Perry seems to be feeling ok. He’s been out more with the other cats, annoying Felix and Kana in particular. He wants to spoon with Felix, and Felix won’t stand for it, but then Felix wanders the kitchen looking for a safe place and not finding one. He wears a forlorn expression now, except early morning and evening when Perry is in his room. Kana can’t even eat in peace. Perry lies in wait to grab her food as soon as she is done.
Yup, Kana is eating in the pic. And that is Perry on our left, smelling that special hypoallergenic kibble.
I had a nightmare last week about Kana. It went on and on and on. I kept waking up, only to fall back asleep into the same dream. My cats were at the neighbor’s house (but it wasn’t my neighborhood or my neighbor’s house and there were no people in the dream) and when I went to get them, the front door was open about 5″. I grabbed a couple of cats and ran them home, slamming that door shut behind me. Then I went back for more cats. When I looked around my house, I realized Kana was gone. I couldn’t find her anywhere. She must have gotten out before I got to my neighbors. This dream was on repeat for SO long.
The day after the dream I realized it was Black Cat Appreciation Day. So I dunno. But one of the triggers for the dream was probably what happened a while back. SLOOPY ANNE GOT OUT OF MY HOUSE IN THE DARK OF NIGHT! If you have indoor/outdoor cats and have had no problems, bully for you. But in my neighborhood, there is a pack of gynormous coyotes and the humongousest bobcat of all. There are no living cats in my neighborhood which was why we had to trap Perry and get him indoors right away.
What must have happened was that the gardener was grilling a burger for himself and, since he’s Sloopy Anne’s favorite person, she must have followed him outside. He spotted her sitting under a patio chair, although it was so dark even with the patio light that at first he thought it was a generic cat, not one of OUR cats. Then he realized it was our sweet pea. We both started trying to get her. Understand that she’s the cat that is the most difficult to catch of all six. I couldn’t even bring her to the vet for a recheck after her teeth cleaning because she was too wily.
If it hadn’t been so serious and scary, our attempts to grab her would have been quite the slapstick. We, and especially me, ran through all the flower beds and bushes as Sloopy Anne climbed the palo verde trees, the outside wall, and even the oleanders (which are toxic to animals). She sat up on a tree branch taunting me. I began to think about the long night ahead. I realized I would have to sit outside, ready to scare off coyotes, if we couldn’t get her to come in. At one point my bad foot came down on a rock half embedded in the dirt, I twisted my ankle, and fell–smack into freshly cut tree branches and bushes with thistles. YAY! The more we ran after her, the more the old Sloopster refined her movements, thereby reducing her exertion, but keeping us moving.
When there is an urgent situation (or an emergency), the gardener is more of the panic-driven-take-charge type. I am more of the calm-and-hyper-focused-fall-apart-later type. And he’s never tried to grab Sloopy Anne in his life, leaving that sport to me. So he was trying to call the shots. Giving me a sheet to throw over her, telling me go run that way and I’ll go this way, that sort of thing. For a half hour. Finally, I yelled at him to go to the other side of the patio and stay away. He was so worn out at that point, he
slunk off. walked over to where I told him to wait. Then I ran and opened all three doors to the outside: front, side, garage. Within five minutes Sloopy Anne went near the gardener, he chased her inside, and I scurried on my don’t-ever-run-again foot and the other foot to slam the doors shut. Sweet pea captured. Whew.
I started shaking at that point. Later, when I was able to think clearly, I noticed and thought about a few things.
While I’m on the subject of cats, I wanted to mention elephants (because you know I love elephants, too). If you have been out and about–at least on the internet–in the last week, you know that the United States is set to betray elephants BIG TIME. The Department of the Interior plans to allow imports of elephant and lion trophies from Africa! This gives a big green light to all the creeps in this country who want to kill elephants and cart home their serial killer trophies to remind them of their own evil.
You can watch Ellen DeGeneres talk about elephants in this video. For everyone who reposts or retweets the elephant photo she shows in the video and the hashtag #BeKindtoElephants on social media, Ellen will make a donation to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) November 17, 2017
On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he was going to take another look at this matter. Don’t let up the pressure.
GO. NOW. #BEKINDTOELEPHANTS and sign some of those many petitions circulating Facebook and Twitter!
So what’s a feral cat? According to Alley Cat Allies, the wonderful charitable organization that helps feral cats, “Millions of cats share our homes, but not all cats are suited to living inside. For many community cats (also known as feral cats), indoor homes are not an option because they have not been socialized to live with humans. They would be scared and unhappy indoors. Their home is the outdoors—just like squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. They are well suited to their outdoor home.”
Sounds simple, right?
But it isn’t. I suspect that a lot of cats that are assumed to be feral are merely strays. Feral cats are terrified of humans and view them as a real threat. But many cats when they are frightened may act the same way: cowering or running away, speechless (no mewing), or thrashing wildly if confined.
The gardener and I have been supporting the efforts of Alley Cat Allies for years as they try to promote TNR: trap-neuter-return. That keeps a feral colony from having more kittens, but doesn’t confine cats that can’t live inside.
But how many cats end up in feral colonies or merely dead because they are assumed to be feral, but are actually not feral at all?
Why am I bringing this up? Because of Prince Perry Winkle. Remember when we first trapped him? We got him neutered at a clinic and brought him to the shelter where he proceeded to act like a feral cat.
I told them that the clinic vet had said he wasn’t feral, but nobody believed me. They thought the vet lied, that I lied, or that the vet made a mistake. A big one.
For about a month I went to the shelter almost every day and read to Perry. It was the only time he got any positive attention because he hid in a cave and had staff persuaded he was a difficult and possibly dangerous (to them) feral cat.
The only hint anybody had that he wasn’t feral was that when I read to Perry he would blink at me. If you have a cat you know that blinking means I love you or I trust you. It’s a way of talking, communicating with a human. I would blink back at him so he knew I understood and trusted him, too.
If you read any of my bazillion posts here about Perry you know that he gradually warmed up to me, but it was really slow at first. When he learned the trick of “give me your paw,” it seemed huge. I didn’t know if we would get any further than that.
Well, now Perry is the biggest cuddle bug ever. I have never seen a cat as adorably cuddly. He curls up in my arms. rubs against me, kisses me, licks me, and demands I pet him by pushing his head up inside the palm of my hand. If I say, “Give me a kiss,” he kisses me immediately. This cat is not only not feral, he’s TRAINABLE. Like a dog.
And the other day I started letting him out to explore the house and meet the other cats, for less than an hour each day. Kana is shut up in a bedroom that Perry doesn’t know about. She will be the last hurdle. The other cats are fine, and so is Perry. Felix, friendly when approached. Pear, ignores him. Tiger, gives warning hisses to stay away, and so far so good. Sloopy Anne hides under the drape and peeks out through a gap she creates at the floor haha.
Watching TV with Mom
I found a mobile vet here in town who charges very reasonably and she came here (so as not to stress out Mr. Scaredy Cat) and clipped his nails (whew!!!!) and examined him. He’s healthy and about the age I thought (1.5 years) and definitely not feral at all. The vet told me that people dump domesticated cats at feral cat colonies all the time. IMAGINE A BIG SAD FACE HERE.
What if we had left Perry to fend for himself, assuming he was a feral cat and should just stay outside? He would have died for sure.
The only negative thing about his checkup is that this guy who was 9 pounds the day we trapped him is now 12.25 pounds, and he’s too fat. I take all the blame! I kept feeding him the same amount after the worms were gone that I did before. So now he has to lose a little weight. Like his mama.
He loves his hairbrush
To calm Perry for the exam, the vet put a little mask on him. I’ve seen those things before, and they work quite well. They are along the same lines as putting blinders on a horse or a cover over a bird cage. Or a blindfold on me for an MRI (no, I am not kidding). But the vet had to use a different mask than usual for cats because Perry has this cute little pointed rat face. (I love pet rats, so watch it). Very pointy all the way to his little pink nose. It’s hard to take a pic of so you can’t usually notice it in his photos.
I laughed about it and mentioned my comparison to a little rat face, and the vet told me it’s very likely that Perry is part Siamese. And as soon as she said it, I thought, YES, THAT EXPLAINS IT. It explains his chattiness. He’s always trilling and chirping to me. It explains his big smarts and trainability. And it explains his puppy-like behavior–the excitement and licking and all that.
It makes me sad when I think of how Perry was almost overlooked because it’s so darn hard to tell the difference between a feral cat and a scared cat. In a shelter or veterinary clinic, many cats are scared cats. If I hadn’t paid attention to his blinking and felt that it meant something, I might never have brought him home and learned the truth about him.
Lesson learned: I’ve learned quite a few from him, but the biggie is to watch for small, subtle signs of communication. That takes patience and time–something in short supply in busy shelters and clinics with overworked staff and volunteers.
For a little visit with Theo, here is a video of him learning his new activity. His mom found a free treadmill on the Next Door app (love that app!):
Hugs and prayers for all those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The devastation and flooding is horrific. My heart goes out to all those people and the animals, as well.