ON THE FARM

It was a beautiful day and the first time the calves had been let our of their cribs into the corral. Everyone was busy on the farm. Spring through autumn, there’s plenty of work for everyone.

72-BillyGoatGruff-1I petted the calves who were friendly, if a bit skittish, meeting strangers. I could feel the bumps on their head where their horns were beginning to come in. A warm, bright spring day on the farm. A good day.

AHAB THE WANDERER

Back in another life, I lived in a little house on Long Island, not far from the university where I’d gone to school and at which my husband worked. We always had a dog and several cats. In those days, we let our cats outside. There wasn’t much traffic and everyone’s cats roamed the neighborhood.

One day, while we were out in the yard, we had a visitor, a medium-sized black and white cat. He was extremely friendly. Sidled right up to us, purring, and doing that little head butt that’s so endearing. Maybe he was hungry? Of course we fed him.

My son fell immediately in love and we said he could keep the cat.

ahab

My husband had a passion for the classics. He named the cat Ahab, which he said meant “wanderer.”

Ahab was a sweetheart, the most laid-back cat I ever knew. My 4-year old felt Ahab needed a bubble bath in a bucket. Ahab purred his way through the bubble and the rinse cycle, then continued purring all the way through dinner and a relaxed evening on the sofa with the family.

We couldn’t figure out why anyone would let a sweet fellow like Ahab go. He was young. Healthy. Litter trained, though he preferred going outside to do his business. His coat was shiny and he showed no sign of abuse or neglect. He oozed charm.

Ahab settled in like he’d always lived with us. He got along with the dog and the other cats. Loved children. Loved everyone. We made a date to take him to vet and get his shots.

He never went to the vet, at least not with us. The following day, without so much as a “by your leave,” Ahab moved down the block and took up residence with a different family. We were a little wounded. We’d never been abandoned by a cat before. His new family adored him but Ahab only hung around a few days, then moved on.

We eventually lost track of Ahab. He moved from house to house, charming everyone and purring his way to his next home. He never stayed longer than a few days and was always the perfect house guest.

Was he a stray? If he was, it was because that’s what he wanted to be.  Ahab was indeed the wanderer.

FIVE KITTIES FOR YOU TO VOTE ON

Marilyn Armstrong:

Chewie is my entry on behalf of my bestest friend in the world, Cherrie. Please vote for Chewie. Chewie promises to supply catnip to all felines worldwide … FREE!

Cherrie's Chewbacca

Chewbacca reserves the right to not live up to any campaign promises made on his behalf, but he is, after all, a cat.

Originally posted on Kim Harrison's Drama:

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It was a very tough choice, but I’ve narrowed almost six hundred cat photos down to five for you to vote on to become Peri Reed’s cat and be featured on the phone cling. (This year’s freebie to help promote the new series coming out the first of September.
[Amazon blurb] [B&N blurb]
I have a lot of honorable mentions. You guys have some seriously fun and beautiful cats.

Below are the winners. To vote, pick out your favorite, and then send an email to coldtoastwritingsllc@comcast.net with the name of your pick in the subject line.

1. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE NAME OF YOUR PICK IN THE SUBJECT LINE, YOUR VOTE WILL NOT BE COUNTED.

2. IF YOU SEND MORE THAN ONE EMAIL, ONLY THE FIRST WILL BE COUNTED.

3. If you mess up and forget the name of your pick in the subject…

View original 185 more words

TONGUE ANYONE?

Daily Post: Take That, Rosetta!

by Ben Huberman on February 10, 2014

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us TONGUE.

I want to learn DOG. I want to explain to all my canines in their own unique tongues so they can’t pretend they don’t understand (oh, I know your games … you understand fine when you want to) to stop barking all the time at absolutely nothing. Of, if you are barking at something, please … tell me what you see that I don’t see? And about that early morning chorus. You have such beautiful voices, my furry babies … but why six in the morning? If you are all about praising the Lord (other than Garry, your Dog God) … can we reschedule services for a bit later? How about 11 in the morning? Even noon. I don’t think a deity would be offended by a slightly late start and I would be personally grateful.

And about those tongues.

When I get out of the shower, you do not have to lick every exposed inch of my body. Really, I just did that with soap and hot water and although I’m sure you mean the very best, I always feel sort of slimy when you’ve finished redoing the process in your own special ways. And hey, I’ve seen the stuff you eat out in the yard. Don’t lie to me. I know where that tongue has been. Eww and double yuck!

I know you talk to each other. I’ve seen you each approach one another … then get up, and go and a pair to the next canine, then all three of you embark on some kind of group activity … usually barking in chorus or a good howl. Or a trip to the kitchen where you stand around giving us the dead-eye until we produce treats. So you communicate. I just would appreciate you letting me in on the secret.

I could make a pretty penny doing dog food commercials and movies if I could simply explain in native DOG … tell you guys what I want you to do. Training would be unnecessary. Just a simple chat, and voilà! Tricks? No problem. Then, instead of being fuzzy, over-indulged lounge lizards, you could become productive members of society. Maybe with dental and health benefits. And think about how great it would be if you could really tell me what was bothering you? I could stop guessing … a boon for both of us!

Thanks for listening. And please, whatever you are barking at? Give it a rest!

REMEMBERING MAO – A CAT

Jeff and I got Mao as an 8-week-old kitten in the fall of 1965. We had just gotten married the month before, and of course we had to have a cat right away. Why a Siamese? I don’t know. Maybe it was just Karma.

Mao traditional-siamese sealpoint

From the very first day, Mao was Master of All He Surveyed. Although I have had many cats through the years, Mao was the first and by far the most utterly unique.

He was very smart for a cat. For instance, when we were out-of-town, we would have someone “house-sit” for us. No matter who that person was, and no matter how much Mao ordinarily liked them, while we were away, Mao would attack him or her (or them) virtually continuously during our absence. He would hide behind the bushes and attack legs as they tried to open the front door. He would wait around the corner, and then pounce. He would launch himself from atop the bookcase, landing on a victim’s head, sometimes causing serious damage.

The moment we returned, Mao ceased his attacks and commenced purring. He figured, I believe, that he needed to drive out the interlopers so that we could return. Since we always DID return, his belief was consistently reinforced!

Mao protected us from bed goblins. If you were on Mao’s “family member” list, he would stop by your bedroom every night. You had to lift the covers so he could walk to the foot of the bed and back up. No goblins tonight? Good, I will go now, and he did.

Mao was the only cat I’ve ever known that perpetrated acts of vengeance hours or days after your perceived offense. If, for example, you shooed him off the table during dinner time, he would wait until you were sitting on the potty with your pants around your ankles and could not chase him. Then he would casually bite your shins. Tail held high, he would stroll away.

Mao patrolled the perimeter of the grounds like any good watch cat should. Every day of his life, he performed it, almost as if it were a ceremony. During his closing weeks with us, he began to patrol in the company of a younger feline, Mr. Manx. As if passing the torch to the next generation, he taught Mr. Manx to walk the perimeter, and inspect the beds, which Mr. Manx then did for the rest of his life.

In October 1978, Mao, who had been diagnosed with cancer some months before, disappeared. We never found his body, though we were sure he had gone off to die. For the last couple of weeks before his departure, we had noticed that he felt different. Where his muscles had been hard, they were now soft. He slept most of the day and moved slowly.

It is many years and lifetimes later. Jeff has passed. I live far from that place where Jeff and I and Mao and all the other fur-people lived. But I remember him. We all remember Mao, the most special cat.

Mao, I am sure you were there for Jeff when he came to the Bridge. I’m sure you will be there for me, too. You and all my other furry friends who I loved will be there together.

But you were and will always be, utterly unique and entirely unforgettable.

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

DEAD CENTER

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There are plenty of reasons to shoot subjects centered in the frame. Many of them have fur or feathers.

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When you subject is going to fly or run away, you take your shot, however you can grab it.

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Press the shutter the instant your subject’s in focus, sometimes before you are sure you’re in focus … and hope for the best.

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Wildlife — in the wild as opposed to at a zoo or otherwise enclosed — doesn’t wait while you line up your shot. I know from painful experience — speed counts. Until I got over my need for perfection, I missed pretty much everything.

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Seize the moment! He who hesitates gets a great picture of an empty branch.