Still Life, With Cats

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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.


So for the past who-the-heck-knows how many years Richard and I have been hosting Holidailies, which is a daily blogging thing that runs during the month of December. It was started by another couple entirely, but then we took over when they decided they didn’t want to run it anymore, and this past year they decided to sign the domain over to us and hand it off completely.

Richard’s been talking for years about how he wanted to someday give the code an overhaul (this is in no way a reflection of the quality of what the original folks created; it’s just that any system starts to get a bit clunky after more than 10 years, especially as the rest of the internets kept on updating around it). This year he finally decided to give it a go.

We tossed around a couple of ideas for things we’d like to incorporate, and one of the ideas was to open the portal up for more than just the month of December. I came up with the idea of Horrordailies for October. Admittedly I was a bit vague on how that might actually work, but Richard’s preferred style of fiction writing tends to be horror or comic horror so I figured it might give him something to play with.

Anyway. All of this is to say that the site has been revamped, basic functionality is working (fingers crossed) and we’ve opened it up to beta users with the hopes that they’ll poke at it and play with it and let us know what isn’t working. If all goes as planned, Richard will have time to get all the (major) bugs smoothed out prior to the official launch in December, but in the meantime some of us really ought to be posting stuff to it. I suppose some of us also includes me.

Technically I ought to do a recap of everything I’ve been up to in the past several months, but I don’t really feel like it quite yet, so instead I shall share a short little story about Azzie.

Azzie is sixteen years old, with long black hair that tends to mat if you look at him cross-eyed (naturally, since he HATES being brushed with the fury of a thousand angry suns) and big round eyes and the brain power of your average overripe avocado. He is cute, but oh, he is dim. Here is an example.

Our house is 100 or so years old, and as is the way of old houses, some of the doors don’t quite hang true anymore. The closet in the office is one such door and we gave up long ago on trying to keep it shut. The latch doesn’t actually latch; the door itself just swings slowly open. The only thing that keeps it (mostly) closed is the fact that the door to the office itself opens into the door to the closet, so since we keep *that* door open all the time, that at least keeps the closet door mostly shut. There is still, however, always a bit of a gap. It is important that you keep this in mind, that there is a gap. Plus neither door is heavy and the cats all figured out that they could go in and out at will, just by pawing at the closet door.

All the cats, that is, but Azzie.

I was downstairs dealing with laundry and heard him start to holler. He’s gotten noisier as he gets older, so at first I thought it was just his usual ‘where are you?’ yelling, but then I realized it was getting more insistent so I came upstairs and went looking for him.

And by now possibly you have figured out where I found him. Somehow he got himself into the closet. But then, unlike every single other cat who has ever lived in this house, he couldn’t figure out how to get back out. So I saw him, through the gap, yelling at me, because he was stuck.

I reached out and poked at the door. It swung open with the power of one finger. Clearly he could have managed it himself if he’d tried.

Poor little Azzie. Sometimes the world is awfully hard for those who have very little brain.

Posting for Horrordailies. Boo.

W is for Waylaid

I often make a lot of plans for what I am going to accomplish in an evening after work, or on a weekend.

And then I come home and I sit down at the computer to do a quick catch-up on my email, or on the couch to do a few rows of knitting and…I am waylaid.

Sometimes it is only one cat.Waylaid5

Usually it is two.
2015-04-25 Waylaid1
2015-04-25 Waylaid2

And every so often, it is three.


The letter W is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

K is for Kittens

It has been a really long week, and I am dealing with some frustrating things at work.

So it is really nice to be able to come home, go into the spare room, sit down on the floor, and play with these.


They all have their eyes open now. When they’re awake, they are constantly active – squirming around in a pile, or in the case of a few of the orange ones, shakily exploring further and further away from the safety of their mom.


This little one in particular has been extremely exploratory. He is usually the one furthest from the nest, and of all the others, he’s the one who seems the happiest with being picked up and snuggled. Which is good. Especially this week.

The letter K is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

R is for Rough

Some house guests came to stay with us today.

We weren’t actually expecting them until next weekend (and it was only this morning that we decided we were okay with taking them in in the first place), but circumstances changed, and suddenly now we’ve got visitors – a very nervous young lady and her six infant children.

They say house guests and fish start to stink after 3 days. However, this little family will be staying with us for a couple months.

Normally I might be really anxious about opening up my home to visitors, especially such a large number all at once. But, well, I think you might be able to tell why we’re both really excited to be providing a temporary home for these seven homeless souls.

Without further ado, let me introduce our temporary houseguests. Meet the Supernatural Kittens. Mom’s age is uncertain (although she seems pretty young and she’s quite small), while the babies were born somewhere around last weekend. As usual, click the pictures to embiggen.

2015-04-18 houseguests

Mom, Ruby, is extremely nervous. She’s not feral, but it’s clear she’s fearful and uncertain about humans. We can reach in and pet her, and she’ll purr and knead on her blanket, but that’s about as much as she’s willing to tolerate right now. We’re pretty sure, though, that it won’t be long before she relaxes and figures out that humans can be pretty awesome.

As for the babies, here’s a better shot. As far as we’re able to tell right now, they’re all boys.

Supernatural Kittens

You might notice that the five orange ones all look exactly alike. I’m hoping as they get a bit older they might develop some distinguishing characteristics; otherwise we’re going to have to dab some food coloring on their tummies to tell them apart until they’re old enough for collars. The orange ones are, in no particular order, Sam,Dean, Rufus, Bobby, and Castial. The little black lump to the right of the pile of orange fuzz is actually a tiny little tuxedo, who has been dubbed Crowley.

I have to tell you, this is going to be a really hard couple of months. Having to socialize half a dozen itty bitty teeny weeny kittens.

I mean, look at this. Who’d ever want to spend time with this?

2015-04-18 TinyKitten1

Yeah. Hosting these house guests is going to be rough.

The letter R is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.