Still Life, With Cats

This content shows Simple View



A while back, we decided that, being nerds and all, that we would get ourselves a wireless bathroom scale – the sort which syncs itself to our Fitbit accounts, and lets us track things online. Each of us set up our profile, so that when we step onto the scale, it knows who we are, and then stores that weight into the appropriate account. However, if someone it doesn’t recognize steps onto the scale, then it records the weight under the name ‘Guest’.

The other day, I was going through the list of weights to make sure it had assigned everything appropriately (sometimes it doesn’t) and I noticed a series of Guest weigh-ins. What was odd about these, however, is that they were all pretty consistently for someone about 11 and a half pounds.

So…in other words, apparently at least one of the cats has been hanging out on the scale, and it’s been dutifully capturing the weight each time. Based on who insists on being in the bathroom with us any time one of us is using the facilities, I’m going to guess it’s one of the grey boys (Sherman and Rupert both weigh roughly the same).

* * * * *

In other news, hey, look, I made another pair of socks. The pattern is Lorentz, which I picked firstly because of the interesting texture pattern, and secondly because it’s yet another version of a toe-up sock that, unlike the others I’ve tried, actually seems to account for the fact that one’s foot tends to widen around the ankle, and one’s sock should reflect that.

Despite my best efforts I couldn’t get a picture that shows the texture clearly, so click the pattern link above to see what they really look like.

(Oh, and by the way, I can now share two more pairs of socks I’ve made – as test knits – since the patterns have been released. Both of these were done in November of last year.

Transversal socks – I really like the texture patterning on these.

Swirl Sampler Socks – these incorporate lace and texture, and are mirror images of each other.

A brief tutorial

How to photograph a finished knitted item, without cats:

  1. Lay out your knitted item on a flat surface, preferably with a solid color sheet of cloth or paper underneath.
  2. Stand on stool, or chair, so as to be able to best photograph the item from above.
  3. Take the picture.

How to photograph a finished knitted item, with cats:

  1. Lay out the background sheet, carefully smoothing out the surface so as to minimize any wrinkles or lumps.
  2. Remove the cat who has come out of nowhere to tunnel underneath the sheet.
  3. Re-smooth the sheet with one hand, while flinging a toy with the other so as to distract the cat.
  4. Lay out your knitted item, smoothing it out carefully.
  5. Remove the cat who has flopped on top of the knitted item because if it’s there, it *must* be a thing for cats.
  6. Re-smooth the knitted item.
  7. Climb up on top of a stool or chair to take the picture.
  8. Climb back down to rescue the item from cat who reached up with one paw and stealthily snagged a corner of the knitted item, which is now rapidly disappearing underneath the table.
  9. Try to distract cats with toys, empty boxes, packing paper.
  10. Repeat steps 1 through 9 several times more.
  11. Give up and take a picture that includes the cats and call it artsy.
  12. Eventually manage to snap hasty shot of item once cats get bored and wander off to wreak havoc somewhere else. 



Here is the thing pet owners know: pets make noises.

Some are normal noises – in our house, Rupert is a narrator and Azzie and Ingrid are whiners and Ruby beeps, and Nutmeg only squeaks imperiously when I’m not going fast enough to lift her from the floor to the counter so she can drink out of the sink, and all of them chitter at birds.

But there are other cries that a pet makes that are *not* normal. So when I heard one of those sounds this afternoon, I flew downstairs to find Sherman hunched over, and backing into a corner.

At first, after he proceeded to hork all over the floor, I figured it was just a hairball. But then he went into a litter box and started straining and cried again, that horrible sad sound, and he tried another litter box, and when I went to pick him up, the second I touched his side he yelled and hissed and that is so very *not* normal for Sherman.

Richard called our regular vet but they didn’t have any slots available, plus they close early on Saturdays, so I called the local emergency vet, and once I described the situation they said bring him in.

Sherman hollered non-stop the entire drive. In the waiting room he calmed down enough to charm a nearby couple who were there waiting for news on their dog (and were, like me, anxious for anything to take their minds off the reason they were there – this isn’t a clinic you go to for regular care, so if you’re there, it’s for very bad reasons). But eventually that passed and by the time they’d stuck us in an exam room, Sherman was back to yelling that horrible, wrong cry that made it clear he didn’t feel well at *all*.

There is no clear diagnosis as of yet. It could be any one of a whole host of things. Because he was perfectly fine last night it’s not likely to be something chronic, and if he ate something he shouldn’t have (I remind you all that he’s the culprit in this story) there’s no guarantee it’d show up on x-rays.

They gave him some fluids and an antibiotic shot in case it’s an infection, and sent me home with pain killers that are apparently a controlled substance because I had to sign a form and provide my date of birth. He’s now locked up in the library, a little bit stoned from the pain meds, and at some point later today I’ll head off to the grocery store to buy up their available stock of baby food meat since he’s only allowed a bland diet.

And now we just cross our fingers, and wait.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

It’s the most wonderful time of year

Happy Holidailies! Yes, indeedy, it’s that time of year again, where a bunch of us diehard bloggers do our best to blog on a daily basis throughout the month of December. My success on this has been…um…mediocre at best the last few years (which is sad considering that Richard and I *run* the thing) but hope springs ever eternal, so away we go!

To kick off the month of December (and let’s be honest, to provide fodder for a blog entry) we waited until today to pull out the tree. It’s always an ordeal, moving all the stuff in the storage closet out until the tree can be extracted, removing the cats, pulling out the tree box, removing the cats, remembering where we stashed the ornaments, removing the cats, attempting to stuff everything non-holiday related back into the storage closet, removing the cats, shutting the door, hearing a suspicious noise and reopening it to, you guessed it, remove the cats. Fun times.

Nutmeg’s excitement about the whole process was, as usual, palpable.

In years past this has been more exciting, because ever since we got Rupert and Ingrid in 2009, we’ve had cats climbing the tree. However, except for a brief dash by Sherman….

…..while we were assembling the pieces, none of the cats really seemed to care much at all. In fact the box the tree came in was far more interesting.

I suppose we ought to be happy about this, since it means we might finally be able to drag out all the nice, breakable ornaments that have been lurking in boxes in the attic for the past eight years, but in a way, it’s a little bit sad. It feels like the end of an era. We got so used to the amusement of having cats in the Christmas tree – in fact we actually looked *forward* to it each year – that it feels strange to think that we’re going to be back to having a plain, ordinary tree.

Well. Maybe not *completely* ordinary (yes, that is Cthulhu wearing a Santa hat at the top).

Ah well. To everything there is a season and all that. The tree is up and so now it’s starting to feel a little more festive around here. These days (especially with Rupert and Sherman) that’s just about the extent of the decorating we do.

Okay, except for one other thing. But for some reason these don’t stay put very long.

Happy Holidailies!

Two little wins

Two recent ways in which I am winning at this whole ‘adulting thing’:

1) Yesterday I *really* wanted some sort of baked good, except I didn’t want to actually have to *bake* it (because sometimes I am just not in the mood, yes, I know, I too am shocked by this, and also sometimes all I want is just one little piece of a thing, and not an entire giant batch of thing – see above regarding the ‘adult’ part of this equation). I suppose one of us could have gone out to purchase a thing, but we were both tired and needed showers in order to go out in public, so that was my excuse to lounge, slug-like, on the couch and simply whine about the lack of baked goods without actually doing anything constructive about it.

Today I was feeling the same need for baked goods, and then it came to me – mug cakes! Single serving size, doesn’t require heating up the oven (it’s been roughly 5-bazillion degrees outside for the past several weeks, after all), and once it’s done, there aren’t any other servings lurking in the kitchen to tempt me.

So I made myself a nutmeg spiced mug cake…uh…I mean…’mug breakfast muffin’, thereby satisfying the craving for baked goods while not actually having to go anywhere *or* dirty more than a couple mixing utensils and a bowl, and thus it was a win.

2) This one may only be relevant to some of you – the sort who either currently live with, or have lived with, small creatures prone to making messes. In this scenario, the mess-making creature is, of course, a cat.

I was sitting on the couch, knitting, and I heard the tell-tale sounds of a cat about to hurl. I looked up, to see Sherman perched atop the tiny little end table by the window, head angled so as to achieve maximum mess-making potential once he let loose.

I only had seconds to respond. Leaping to my feet, I grabbed a small box that had been left on the coffee table, and charged over toward the cat. At the last possible moment, I reached out, box in hand, and CAUGHT EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT. Said box was then closed up and stuffed into the trash, mess free. Definitely a win!

The fact that a different cat managed to hork in exactly the same place several hours later without me being able to make a similar save, thus requiring the exact amount of clean-up I was trying to avoid in the first place, is not relevant here. Shh. Leave me my joy.

Getting into the spirit

We put up the tree today.

Long-term readers will note that in years past (seven, to be exact – which coincidentally matches up with the number of years Rupert has been a member of our household – go figure!) this has been a very cat-involved process. After all, when one has cats that regularly treat the Christmas tree as just another jungle gym, one accumulates a selection of inexpensive, non-breakable ornaments and keeps all the nice, breakable ones packed securely away for the distant future when this is no longer a problem. And after the first year or so we just sort of shrugged and pretty much embraced the cat-infested tree, and I admit I actually sort of look forward to seeing who scales it first.

We pulled the tree box out. Sherman practiced looking innocent.

We opened up the box. Rupert and Sherman immediately had to investigate.

First section set up. Rupert came over and sniffed but then basically did the cat equivalent of shrugging and ignored it.

Nutmeg’s enthusiasm for the whole process, meanwhile, was palpable.

Sherman – who’s been our primary ‘supervisor’ in years past, climbed up briefly, but once a branch accidentally smacked him in the face, he wandered off. He bounced around the room a bit, but climbing the tree just wasn’t on his mind.

We put up all the ornaments – a couple cats came over to investigate those and Sherman did the customary taste-test on the tree lights (for some reason he really likes to gnaw on them. Luckily they’re made of super-thick plastic so he can’t hurt them).

The fully decorated tree, with a festive top.

A close-up of the tree topper. The Santa hat is what makes him festive. Ho, ho, he’ll drive you all insane, ho.

Later we decided to decorate Nutmeg, who is clearly thrilled by the experience.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.


A year or so ago, I got a bag. It is one of those canvas bags, of the type you get as swag at a convention. The thing that made this bag stand out, however, is the fact that it had a zipper. And in a house full of yarn-eating cats, the ability to keep yarn in a cat-safe zone is important. So I turned it into a knitting bag, and kept it in a cubby in the coffee table, so I could keep my project-in-progress protected.


The problem, however, is that I am not the only one who loved this bag. I noticed it had a distressing tendency to ‘fall’ off the table, and get dragged around on the floor.


It also, somehow, acquired a disturbingly large amount of cat hair.

So eventually, I gave up. Clearly this was not meant to be my bag. I took all my knitting stuff out, and replaced it with some old paper and a wadded up towel.


It is a very popular bag. It’s just not mine any more.


Blogging from A to Z in whatever order I feel like.

The hook

So as I am sure I’ve mentioned here before, Sherman is a bit of an escape artist. After all, my little sister didn’t get us this doormat for nothing.


Anyway. Tonight, we were leaving the house to go hole up at Panera for some dinner and some Nanowriting (because it is, after all, November, and that is what we do in November), and as the front door swung open, Sherman came tearing out from under the couch, where he likes to lurk for EXACTLY this reason, and the person who came in the house last didn’t get the screen door shut (names withheld to protect the guilty except it wasn’t me, and okay, to be fair, his hands were full of groceries, but I digress), and despite some lunging forward on my part and some shouting on both our parts, the wily little fuzzbutt made a break for freedom.

So we both flung all our Nanowrimoing stuff onto the front porch and dashed down the stairs, trying to catch a small grey fluffbrat who does not want to be caught because this is the Best Game Ever and possibly there was some swearing and also some laughing, and then, then, the most wonderful, miraculous thing happened.

A woman came by, jogging along the sidewalk. A woman Sherman had never met before in his life. A stranger.

Here is the thing about Sherman. Unlike most cats, Sherman loves people. I mean, he really, really LOVES people. He has never met anyone who is not his very best friend. Regardless of whether they might actually want to meet him, he will be right there, in their face, saying hi, demanding attention. We like to joke that he is shy. Hah. Anything but.

Thankfully she quickly figured out we could use her help and she stopped and held out a hand. Sherman, needing no more invitation than that, stopped his gleeful dashing around the front yard and immediately trotted over to say hello. One head scritch, and ten seconds later, and she’d picked him up and he was purring his little head off, even after she passed him off to me, with a laughing comment of “it’s okay, I’ve got an escape artist too.”

So now we know. The next time Sherman manages to slip out the door, there is no point in wasting any time trying to chase him down. Nope, clearly all we have to do is find a stranger.

Because the one thing in the world Sherman absolutely, positively cannot resist, is a stranger.

Weird little cat.