My family found my first cat through a want ad, when we were looking for a cat who could help with the mouse problem. That cat was more than successful, and always superior to the family she graciously agreed to share living space with. My second cat was a rescue from the streets of Miami; I'd hit the point where I wanted the cat, and I'd asked friends to keep an ear out for any cats in need of a home, and there was Tasha in all of her not-exactly-friendly neuroticism, convinced, post joining me, that I was the only worthwhile human being on earth. The Grey One was another kitten found by friends, that I got after Tasha died, leaving the Little One distraught.

The Little One was different.

He found me.

He was a tiny ball of mud that barely looked like a kitten when he found me. I washed him and considered what to do with him - I already had Tasha who did not regard other living creatures with favor and certainly was not interested in sharing her human with another cat. And yet. He was so incredibly adorable and loud and adorable - and he'd followed ME. He'd picked me. I decided that I couldn't give him up.

Even if it meant no peace in the household for a couple of years.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

I gave him a nicely evil name, Asmodean, since he'd wormed his way into the household, and an internet pseudonym, the Little One, since he was a very small kitten. Right from the beginning, he was more of a dog than a cat - he followed me around like a puppy, played fetch, and was incredibly friendly - some critics said overly friendly - to anyone who entered. He had an underappreciated habit of just sitting on people when not headbutting them.

He also loved to play, and jump, and leap - I've never seen another cat make some of the jumps that he did, which had the tendency to startle visitors and board games. And one - only one - bad habit; he was convinced, despite all protests to the contrary, that computer and laptop keyboards were designed to be cat beds. As I explained once, years back, one of my pet peeves as a writer was how much time I had to spend removing him from the keyboard. He added a good ten pages of random letters and symbols to my post on Toy Story just last week.

His first bad moment came when Tasha died. She may have hated him, but he loved her, and also, I realized, he'd never been alone. He did not like being alone at all. So I acquired the Grey One and told him that she was his kitten. They took me literally; I've sometimes been allowed to pet the Grey One, but she was always his cat, not mine.

When I got sick, he was the best thing ever.

He knew something was wrong when I first moved up here, and got quiet and even friendlier, if possible - I think he was afraid that I would leave him behind. Despite his usual vocal objections to car rides, he was completely silent on the way up. The moment we let him out of his carrier, he went for me, and stayed beside me. He didn't quite have the Grey One's unusual gift for knowing exactly when my blood pressure dropped, but he did know that he could get on top of me, and I could scratch his chin, and that was important knowledge. He rarely left me alone for an instant, and I needed that.

I was up in Columbus when we moved to this house According to my brother, he freaked out and headed straight for a cabinet as everything was moved out of the apartment. He was the last thing to leave, primarily because he didn't want to leave the cabinet - I think because he was afraid he would never see me again. When I came to the house a few days later, he went NUTS and clung to me for the next several days.

And that was our interaction for the next several years. He slept with me, watched TV with me, leaned against me or slept on me or slept near me when I wrote or read, listened to every telephone conversation. He sat at the window, watching me leave on the trike or in someone else's car, waiting for me to return.

He did start to slow down, just a little. He stopped leaping to the top of the bookshelves - something he used to be able to do from the floor, and could still do from the TV stand, and did a few times after we arrived here. As he started having a few problems jumping to the my bed, which is a bit high - he could make it, but he kinda had to claw the arrival - I got him a set of little kitty stairs, which he liked. He could still jump on the couch, and did that without a problem. In the past year or so, he tended to stay on my bed a little bit more. But every time I thought, ok, he's slowing down, he'd surprise me by jumping to the window, or dashing through the hallway, or indulging in his loud, raspy, purrs. When he made it to the age of 17 this fall, I thought that I was going to be lucky enough to have him for a few more years.

Yesterday morning, he was at the windowsill, watching the cardinals. Late yesterday afternoon, his back legs visibly gave out. He struggled for a bit. An hour or so later, he was back to walking, and paced the hallway, but he seemed a bit confused and disoriented. He stared at the litter box for a bit, and then - very unusually - refused it (though he used the easily cleaned tile floor.) Then he seemed better and came back to the bedroom. I brought him some tuna fish, and it took him a moment to realize what it was, and eat it. He wandered a bit more, but kept stopping and staring at corners, or looking confused.

I probably should have taken him to the vet right then, but....I don't drive, and we don't have a 24 hour vet that I can reach via mobility scooter or trike. He seemed to recover a bit in the evening; I had him on my lap as we watched Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. But he was also incredibly quiet. Much later, I found him in between the TV stand and the wall, head on the speaker, the other cat watching him. I picked him up and he flopped against my chest immediately.

I don't think either one of us slept well - I know I didn't. At about 4 am, he started seizing. He got better after I held him again. I managed a bit more sleep. By the time I woke, he was seizing again.

He was in bad shape when we reached the vet.

We didn't even have time to put him to sleep. He died while I was slowly rocking him, wrapped in a towel, back and forth, wrapped in a towel. I'm not sure he even knew I was there, but I hope he did.

He was the hands down best cat I've ever had, more than a cat, a friend.

The Grey One is sleeping curled up in the sun, nearby. She's been watching me off and on since I got back. I think she thinks I can still bring him home.

I want to fill this with funny memories, but my heart is too full right now.

Bye, little cat. You will be so, so missed.
As some of you know, [personal profile] fbhjr and [personal profile] malterre are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary this weekend.

What I did not know, until this weekend, that a number of my writing friends and acquaintances were off to celebrate another wedding this weekend – held in the very same spot that [personal profile] fbhjr and [personal profile] malterre used twenty years ago. After I blinked a lot and realized that no, people weren't just having me on, I thought, now that is a good sign.

Meanwhile, I headed out to the Winter Garden Music Fest last night – the town's little three day "let's get some bands and other groups in here and hope that this encourages everyone to try out the local bars (yes, we are up to TWO of them now, although technically, one of them wants to tell you that it isn't a bar) and the local restaurants." Alas, all the interesting (from my point of view) music was on during the day, when it was really too hot; by the evening, the remaining bands were doing standard rock and roll stuff, with a couple of original songs thrown in here and there and a group sing of "Folsom Prison Blues." (Complete with toddlers happily dancing and wiggling to "I SHOT A MAN IN RENO - JUST TO SEE HIM DIE!) The evening was also when the crowds started to gather. But not oppressively, and a breeze blew through, and it didn't rain, all distinct positives. Also, pumpkin chai, which is a reason for living.

That did lead to one unexpectedly sad consequence, however: since the other human in the house - I hesitate to type this, but you, oh readers, deserve the truth -- actually went into his room and closed the door even though he was watching football an activity that by definition leaves a human with hands ready and able to pet a cat, and -- gasp -- left the Little One out in the living room all alone. (The Grey One, apparently unable to handle to angst, took off to the closet.) It was, I am assured, one of those tragedies that can only be handled through the judicious application of more lap time and, of course, tuna.
Still pretty dizzy, but sorta able to sit up and think between bouts of moving floor, so thought I'd try to sneak a con report in here mostly copied/pasted from my iPad notes before the election coverage gets going.

Summary: Con, yay. Hotel and Toronto airport, not yay. A surprisingly emotional con for me, very up and down, where I felt caught between tears and laughter, severe disappointment and massive excitement, fury and glee, and talked entirely too much. I did cry far too much on the first couple of con days, and got pretty dizzy pretty much every afternoon and most evenings, but things improved later.

From my notes on the cheerful and good things:

1. As always, the very very best part of the con was all of the wonderful conversations with the amazing people, and no, I'm not just talking about the conversations about photocopying sharks. (Which were less conversations and more me explaining why I once photocopied dead sharks. Look. This is just one of those things that can happen, ok?) I also finally got to meet in real life various people I've only "met" through Twitter or

2. Alas, the sad part of the con is that I didn't get to talk to ANYBODY enough. Even though, oddly, I also talked FAR too much.

In her con wrap-up, [profile] wirewalking said something that really spoke to me, about types of friends at cons, including:

"The ones you pass and exchange hellos and waves with in the halls and wish you could hang out with more, but scheduling always gets in the way."

Yeah, that.


3. On the other hand, I did get to sing with Charles de Lint. Admittedly the more neutral observers of this event would call this less "singing with Charles de Lint" and more "sitting in the audience and joining in the chorus," but instead of quibbling or providing an accurate report, let's call this "singing with Charles de Lint."

I did, however, really and truly have drinks with him before the con actually started, although this was entirely by mistake since for the first half hour I had absolutely no idea who he was. Sometimes it takes a little while for obvious things (mentions of his book titles, for instance) to enter my little brain.

4. It will surprise exactly no one that my last dinner at World Fantasy Con (which technically happened after the con, but whatever) involved Jonathon Coulton songs. What can I say?

5. Speaking of music, I am absolutely shocked, shocked by my completely reliable statistical sampling of random World Fantasy attendees: Bedlam Boys, which I sang 1 1/2 times, was recognized by 15 people. The Wombling Song, which I sang 10 times (sorta), was recognized by 0 people. AT A FANTASY CONVENTION, NO LESS. My little heart, it breaks.

6. Darlings, I must tell you, [personal profile] csecooney made me all wet. Deliciously wet. And then she recited poetry, and soon, I was even wetter. This was at – and I kid you not, darlings, I have witnesses – at an erotica party. A literary science fiction erotica party. Some words about wine and knees might even have been spoken. I cannot be sure. It was all quite dazzling.

7. And yet, all of the witnesses remained fully clothed. (If you wanted proof that we were not at Dragoncon.)

8. On a related note, I did finally make a graceful appearance INSIDE the Tor party. (Usually I make my graceful appearance OUTSIDE the Tor party, because, wow, is that one popular party.) I also have witnesses for this unusual achievement. It lasted about 15 minutes but I feel this should count, especially since people had offered to pull things out of the Jacuzzi for me by that point, which, you know, means it's now a PARTY.

9. I failed, alas, to make a similar appearance at the Vandermeer party, and thus missed the bunny.

(I have no more context for this. I was simply told, "you missed the bunny," so I thought I'd share so we could all miss the bunny together. Except of course for those reading this who didn't miss the bunny.)

10. On the other hand, I also missed the funeral and open casket viewing that took place in the room right next to various panels, including the ghost story panel, and all the assorted creepiness. I did, however, get to experience the Sheraton's Haunted Elevators. I suspect editors are going to get slammed with Haunted Elevator stories in just a few months.

11. I kept expecting the con to end, for people to drift out and away, because that was what has happened in previous cons – on Sunday, I am often back alone in a hotel room, crouched against the noise of a convention, returning to myself bit by bit.

This time, though, the convention lingered – Sunday dinner, late Monday coffee and semi-lunch, cab ride to the airport, the ticket counter – and then, the real shock, shortly after I'd said goodbye to everyone I'd shared the cab with, feeling that it was time to return to myself again.....

....there was [personal profile] neile at an airport store! It was the con that never ended. Well, until I got on the plane (upgrade to business class, which was nice if mostly pointless since I was sick the entire flight, after my not exactly happy fight with Air Canada and the Toronto airport) switching back to a world of delighted small children who were going to see BUZZ LIGHTYEAR and TINKERBELL and needed TO YELL ABOUT THIS.

12. Finally, MUCH THANKS to everyone who helped me, either with pushing me around or through the bathroom issues, especially the stalwarts who pushed me back up that ramp to my hotel room. I know that I was frequently too tired to thank all of you in person and I feel terrible about that. I really am grateful.

13. This isn't, strictly speaking, part of the con, but the Little One greeted me hysterically when I came back in through the door ("Shut UP, cat!" was my father's not exactly enthusiastic response to this) and has not been off me since. The Grey One almost seemed dismayed to have me back, and later clawed me, just to remind me where I stand in the world, still living in hope that I might one day earn her permanent affection. It's like publishing, in a way.

In this household, one black and white furry creature is alternating between being pressing against me and being adorable and supportive, and wailing because I will not allow him to go play with the squirrels who have temporarily taken residence on the front porch (zipping between the porch and the red maple as we await the next series of storms), and one small grey furry creature has spent an anxious morning trying to decide: sleep in safety, but without a pillow, behind the TV stand/TV where no one can see her, or beneath the great bed where no one can see her or -- or -- does she dare continue recent activities, and sleep in the light of the guest bed, after turning on the water in the bathroom sink and failing to turn it off?

Decisions. Decisions.
Contrary to the howls of protest currently emanating from the hallway, I am not a cruel person. (Well. Only occasionally.) I simply hold fast to the notions that:

1. Cats do not belong in kitchen cabinets. I understand that they (the cabinets) are small and dark and comfortable, and provide an excellent jumping stop to land on the stove, which in turn allows a four legged creature to make an elegant and graceful jump to the window sill. This, however, ignores the small fact that a) the humans of the household DO NOT WANT CATS ON THE STOVE, which we have explained at some length before this, and b) that cabinet is for the storage of household items, not cats.

2. Contrary to popular opinion, I have not actually caused the rain, although it is true that unlike you, I welcome it. (I'm hoping it revives the rose bush that burst out in glory in January then died in February just as the other rose bush that died in January decided that maybe life was worth living if in an unenthusiastic, scraggling sort of way.) I will also note that although it is true that the two squirrels who usually play on the front lawn and in the maple tree cannot currently be seen, a) this might not have anything to do with the rain, and might more come from b) knowing that you sit at the window and stare at them.

3. How do we know I'm not cruel? Because I very very badly need to go to the bathroom at the moment, and yet I'm not stirring, because your partner in furry crimes has flopped himself across my lap and chest in ecstasy, and I'm just not cruel enough to spoil this moment.
Two unrelated notes:

First, a friend I had not seen in some time stopped by unexpectedly yesterday, brought my way by funeral ashes, iPhone issues and a failed GPS. I leave you all to figure out what that says about my life, but it turned into a delightfully unexpected late afternoon/early evening.

Second, I am sorry to report to you that this house is currently filled with Unrequited Love.

Said Unrequited Love comes from the Little One, who adores, but adores, [profile] tgregory3 and wants to sit on his lap and be held in his arms. After all, my brother does wonderful things like walking around and cooking fish and sometimes even – try to restrain your admiration – putting a cat up on a window so that the cat can look at squirrels and birds. Alas, although my brother is willing to occasionally scratch the Little One's head and back, this is not a mutual love. He actually – I hesitate to reveal this to you – prefers the other cat, on the false basis that the Grey One is prettier and more importantly quiet and does not yowl all the time and does not try to climb on him.

To repeat, this, alas, is false. Well, only partly false. It is true that the Grey One does not try to climb into his lap, since the Grey One rarely tries to climb into anyone's lap. (She has started to climb into mine, always, without fail, when I'm on a typing roll and have finally realized how a particular scene, poem or essay should go, standing right in front of the screen and daring me to pay attention to words instead of her beauty, grace, elegance and sudden need for adoration and belly and chin scratching.) Her general response to the presence of strangers – demonstrated last night – is to find a small dark corner someplace so that no one will be blinded by her beauty and so that she does not have to suffer looking at other people. (I am gathering.) Also, convince them never to return again by deliberately missing the litter box. (It's deliberate. She knows where the litter is, she does not have an infection, but she does know that this is an effective way to punish me since it so obviously ticks me off.) And she is certainly a remarkably beautiful and elegant cat of high breeding. (You can take her word for it.) And considerably smarter than the Little One – probably the most intelligent cat that has ever owned me. (Having figured out the bathroom faucets, she has begun watching me and my brother in the kitchen. This is not going to end well.)


Trust me on this.

As soon as the house has been safely cleared of other humans, it begins. Quiet chatter at first, leading into full fledged rants. This cat may genetically be only half- Siamese, and show very little of this in her face, but her vocal cords are entirely Siamese. (I sense the biologists amongst you questioning this statement but it's entirely true.) She has been known to howl for hours on end. Hours. Over what, I can't tell you. Presumably the sad state of the universe.

Until someone else arrives, at which point she goes utterly silent. And the Little One, who is mostly quiet when no one else is around unless he sees an outside dog or cat to sit on, starts his howling.

Which means that no one, but no one, believes me when I try to say that actually, SHE'S the loud one. Oh, sure, people have heard her howling in the background when I'm on the phone (she disapproves of phones, although sometimes she will hide under the bed in her disapproval) but they assume that she's the Little One because he's the one that will be vocal when they stop by. Sigh.

In the meantime, my morning has been filled with howls from a frustrated Little One, since my brother – prepare yourselves for a terrible shock – has insisted on doing yard work and house repairs and even reading a book all without the help and company of a cat. (The book reading was particularly egregious since, as we all know, a cat can always enhance the pleasure of reading a book by putting a helpful paw right on a page, or, as I have discovered to my distress, a Nook. Slight digression: yes, a cat paw on a Nook will flip the Nook forward several pages, and it is my current belief that the next generation of the Nook needs to learn how to distinguish between a human finger and a cat paw, and I don't want to hear that this is physically impossible.) Horribly distressed, he came over to curl up beside me, and seemed comforted for a bit. And then my brother – prepare for an act of infeline cruelty – STOOD JUST OUTSIDE THE WINDOW and didn't EVEN reach through the glass to pet the cat. I know. I was shocked too.

This is why my weekends so often seem long. On the bright side, the Little One has made friends with the puppy next door (although, in sadder news, the puppy has not yet been successfully turned into a pirate. I understand children are continuing to work on this.) So some love continues to grow.

Excuse me. I see the cat needs more comforting.
The Grey One entered my life as a tiny kitten several years back. Her mother had been badly abused and was rescued by a couple of friends. Most of the litter ended up normal enough, but the Grey One was always shy and skittish, even in her box; I picked her because she was pretty and cute and looked as if she needed to be held.

So sometimes my judgement is a little off. Not about the pretty and cute part.

I had gotten her because the Little One needed a kitten (my older cat had died and he does not handle being alone well), and when I brought her home in her box, I told the Little One that this was his kitten.

I didn't expect them to take me so literally. The Little One LOVED the kitten and began carrying her around in his mouth, cuddling her, and refusing to let me (or others) handle her. It became very clear that this was his kitten, and later cat, not mine. Sometimes I was allowed to pet her (these were exciting times) and I was distinctly allowed to turn the water on for her so she could watch it run until she learned how to turn it on herself. (Which did not take long. This is a very intelligent little cat.)

And so she remained for awhile: highly intelligent, exquisitely beautiful, and a cat that is to be seen and heard (she can be very vocal when she wants to be), not touched, when she could be seen at all (a startlingly high number of people remain convinced that this is a one cat household.)

When I moved here, I determined that since I now had the time, I was going to transform her into a friendly cat. At least a friendly to me cat. I coaxed. I scratched. I used judicious supplies of tuna. I discovered a weakness – her belly has, as it turned out, a terrible need to be scratched and rubbed on an irregular basis.

And now I can't get her off me and it's interfering with my typing.
So in an unexpected twist of events, the internet works. The bathroom – not so much; the toilet in the main bathroom is not at all present, forcing me to trek to the half bath, and while water runs into the bathtub just fine actually getting into the tub is an exciting, exciting thought. Also, kitchen sink for toothbrushing for the moment.

Also, I found the cats. To be strictly truthful, they found me: the Little One started howling before I even reached the door, divebombed my legs as I made it inside, and proceeded to refuse to leave my skin – not just my side, but insisting on being physically on me – for the next several hours, waking up every few minutes to happily headbutt and lick me again and then push against me. He's still here. I move, he follows.

I did not see the Grey One for awhile, although after one of the headbutting instances I raised my head and thought I saw something that looked like a grey ghost streaking by. At about 4 am, however, I felt very firm paws on my face and arms, and this morning I was gifted with a long, hard infuriated stare. I understand that this move does not—

Ouch. She's back and pawing at my chest. With claws. I could be wrong, but I think she's kinda pissed.

More later, including con reports, when I'm less exhausted.
So I finally got around to watching Double Indemnity last night. I know, I know. I'm not sure how I missed seeing this film, but somehow I did.

Other than the hideousness of Barbara Stanwyck's wig, what struck me was how much things have changed since 1944:

1. Everyone, but everyone, is smoking non-stop. Part of this is the film-noir tradition, of course, but it's not just villains or shady types. The camera lingers on the cigarettes, the matches, the very act of smoking, lovingly, reverently; smoking even becomes a minor part of the plot, a motif for character interaction.

It's simply not possible to have that many characters smoking that continuously, exchanging matches and cigarettes and cigars like that, in films these days. Even in films portraying the late 30s, these days.

2. Fred MacMurray drives up to a drive-thru – and gets a beer.

3. $30,000 for a house is a horrifying price – for slightly different reasons.

4. The film's insurance company is saturated with casual sexual harassment – not just from Fred MacMurray, but from everyone. It's not just that the women workers at the company are all in at best secretarial roles, but the men continually call them sweetheart, honey, and treat them with mild contempt.

5. The entire plot would have gone far differently had everyone had the use of pre-paid cell phones.

And how much things have not changed since 1944:

1. Insurance companies? Still evil.


Sometime after the ending of the film the Grey One appeared from nowhere and leapt upon me in an ecstasy of affection.

Now, some of you are doubtless thinking, "How sweet!" I, a more cynical sort, immediately thought, "How suspicious!" It's not that the Grey One never indulges in affectionate gestures – she does, usually when she's decided that she needs to be scratched, right now. Said gestures usually consist of coming up to me, squawking, running off, returning, squawking, leaping on my stomach and/or legs and walking on them in a very determined manner, and rarely managing to quite settle down. Upon occasion, she does allow me to come up to her while she's resting and scratch her little head, and she's also been known to stalk up and down the bed or near the couch until I reach over and scratch her chin, at which point, she will stand firmly at attention until the chin has been scratched to an acceptable level, at which point she promptly disappears again.

This time, she flopped on my chest and began frantically rubbing herself all over me, flipping over on her back and exposing her belly and purring.

"What exactly did you do?"

The Grey One attempted to appear the picture of cuteness and affection and innocence. This is not necessarily something she is good at.

Nonetheless, I spent some time scratching her belly and her chin – really, I wasn't given much choice in the matter – before heading out to investigate.

Sure enough, she had thrown up right on the bed.

Just to clarify, she had a perfectly useable and more to the point, EASILY CLEANED bathroom floor just a few feet away, and no, she did not, as a point of fact, actually need to use the bed.

I glared at her. She rolled over on her back and worked on the adorable look.
1. Marginally alive after a good if exhausting weekend up in Gainesville with the twice-yearly gathering of varied friends and some fish. (The fish, I must say, were not overly sociable.) Astoundingly, during this weekend, I managed to:

-- drive by a place called the Caffeine Bar at Ben and Jerry's not once, not twice, but four times and not once go in. (I also failed to follow through with my plan to indulge in a chocolate milkshake from nearby Steak and Shake. I am not sure Who I Am anymore.)

-- spend a few quality hours with very lonely cookies and not release them from their misery.

-- make up for this by later quite happily releasing some lemon things that assured me, quite personally, that they would just die if they were left out on the table and it was mean to leave them there.

-- hang out with people and yet feel as if I barely saw anybody all weekend. (Admittedly, in one case this was because I really did barely see said person, who had to be towed up from south of Ocala and quite selfishly spent the next day attempting to fix his car instead of hanging out. The nerve of some people.) It was weird.

-- visit or drive through the UF campus at least three times. (For someone who has never been to UF, I do seem to spend a surprising amount of time on its campus.)

-- try out Farah's, if not the hookah bar part; excellent Middle-Eastern food.

-- find out about all kinds of things that should not be done while flying over the Gulf of Mexico.

Alas, I missed much of the main party, since I stayed out by the pool avoiding the noise and also keeping a very careful eye on the root beer. (Rumors that I was guarding it only to steal it later are Not At All True. After all, it was almost all safe later, right? Right? What do you mean, wrong?)

2. Apparently, the Little One responded to my absence by hiding all weekend – until, that is, I returned home, when he began HOWLING, and I mean HOWLING, from the window. I initially assumed the apartment had been invaded by aliens, and then realized that the aliens would have been considerably quieter. (The Grey One responded to my absence by napping on the couch, and then, after further thought, napping on the chair. So am I loved.) The howling did not cease until I managed to open the door, at which point, I faced the full strength of a 15 pound cat turning himself into a little cannonball and launching himself directly for my knees. It will surprise no one that neither my knees nor I completely survived this. He has been tangled up on either a leg or arm nearly every minute since, apparently in the hopes that I will not notice this and will carry him away quite by accident if I ever leave again.

3. Since the news is out on the web (on SFSignal, no less), yes, yes, [profile] tgregoryt and I are househunting, which here can be a Serious Adventure, even leaving aside the inappropriate elephants. And yes, we did find some inappropriate elephants. Just one of those things.

4. Speaking of SFSignal, they've been asking various people for a list of ten books that should be in every SF fan's library. Part one is here; part two, which includes my contribution, is here. More about that in my next post.


Apr. 28th, 2010 06:30 pm
I know. I know. I've been neglecting this blog recently. It's not LJ (or Dreamwidth) or a sign that I'm going to leave LJ (or Dreamwidth) although, while I'm on this subject, LJ's recent tendency to suddenly log me out when I'm trying to view your locked posts and trying to force me to watch a pop-up add before allowing me to attempt to log back in is not making me much fonder of LJ. I have a paid account, LJ; stop logging me out of it, and stop trying to sneak in paid ads. Where was I? Oh, right, about to explain that I'm not feeling much like writing anything at the moment, fiction or not. Last week was at least a better week on the fiction/poetry front, but this week…not so much. I'm blaming a combination of fatigue and Mercury, which is apparently in retrograde at the moment, not because this is a particularly good or believable explanation, but it is at least a convenient one.

So, some random thoughts to fill the gap:

1. I realize that we're all supposed to be kinda shocked that Gordon Brown called one of his constituents a bigot, but, I gotta say, I was kinda relieved to hear a politician actually expressing his unadulterated, honest opinion about something. Yay for forgotten mikes.

2. On a related note, I must say that the Brits, as always, hold more meaningful sounding elections than we do. I have decided that it's the accents.

3. I am sorry to say that the ponies that I told some of you about are not ponies at all, but miniature horses, which just goes to show that I should never make any statements about any equine species whatsoever. In my defense I thought they looked like ponies. The peacocks that share their field are, however, actual peacocks.

4. On a related note, I am placing a $3 million dollar imaginary bet on Devil May Care on this weekend's Kentucky Derby. (I believe that if you are making imaginary bets on horseracing, you should bet big. I also believe that since I have lost about 99% of my imaginary horseracing bets, I should never be allowed to make real ones.) No, not because she's a girl horse, but because Devil May Care is one of my favorite Elizabeth Peters' books. Also she looks pretty. I am placing a $2 million dollar imaginary bet on Dean's Kitten because I like kittens. Also he looks pretty. (You may be beginning to see why I am not suited for a career in racetrack gambling.)

5. The Grey One, previously the sort of cat who preferred to hide under things and could easily vanish for days upon end (I'm still convinced she's mastered some sort of inter-dimensional/parallel universe travel, and don't tell me that's against the laws of physics, because I don't think she's interested in obeying those) has suddenly become friendly to the point of becoming a major nuisance, by which I mean, just when I finally come up with a sentence that might work in the novel, she raises her little grey head or her little grey paws in an unnecessarily sharp reminder that my hands are on the keyboard and not on her chin. Hmm. Maybe Mercury in retrograde isn't my only writing problem.

6. Oh, and delayed thanks to everyone who recommended the Whirly-pop popper; I'll just add that yes, you can use it while you're sitting down, which is awesome, and it makes seriously good popcorn. This is also the only popper I've used that almost never leaves behind any unpopped kernels. I'm in awe.
So we did not actually get any of the fabled snow here, instead getting rather less pretty sleet and freezing rain. (Which, for the record, not exactly usual for this area either.) Apparently, our neighbors over in Clermont, and just south of State Road 50, and north of the lake, did get snow, but the lake kept us warmer, and yuckier. And still cold. Lots of cold. We have the heat on, but with the vents on the ceiling, this is not as effective as it could be. How do I know?

Because a cat stole my coat.

I - foolishly, doubtless - had committed the great error of hanging it up on a chair after returning from looking at the sleet. (Which is not quite as entertaining as it sounds.) I got coffee. I went to answer email. I heard a slight shuffling sound. I looked up, and saw nothing. I went back to answering emails and surfing the net. More sound. I looked up again, to see my coat merrily bobbing along the floor.

Now, some of you might immediately think, "Ghosts!" but, since this complex is, as far as I know, ghost free, I could think no such happy thought. I watched the coat bob a bit more, then settle down, before moving towards it and peeking under its folds. You would think, that since this is MY COAT, this action would have passed without comment, but you are not reckoning with the moral strength of the Grey One, who strongly prefers Not To Be Seen, especially when caught in the act of theft. I tried to take a picture, but, since the Grey One considers cameras to be the equivalent of machine guns, such was not to be.

The coat has been rescued and is now safely back in its closet; the Grey One is now hiding, not entirely successfully, beneath the fuzzy throws on the couch (the tip of a grey tail is an unfortunate giveaway) and this is an unquestioned signal for hot chocolate.
Every year, it happens.

The wind howls. A chill enters the air, the room, the walls. Night falls. Heat streams from the room.

And we have a struggle over the blankets.

Now any reasonable observer would agree that since the cats have fur, and I don't, and since I actually buy cat food and litter, and they don't, and since one of the two is friendly only on her own deranged schedule (and when friendly, somewhat insistently and painfully so – although, to be fair, from her perspective I probably do not have anything on earth more pleasurable or important to do than to scratch her chin, aside from pouring out cat food), I should, by any standards, get the blankets.

Cats, of course, are not reasonable observers. Which means that the following happens on every cold night:

The Little One crawls under the blankets to be next to me.

The Little One decides that he needs more space under the blankets, and starts shoving me.

The Little One decides that really, the problem is that is he on the wrong side of me, and scrambles over me to reach the other side – and then starts shoving me.

Just before the Little One is tossed unceremoniously off the bed or into a wall, he wraps himself around one of my arms, hugging it tightly, his entire focus bent on Being Cute.

Meanwhile, the Grey One – who, as I may have noted, is the considerably more intelligent of the two – has dug her little claws into either my lovely soft microfiber throw or my equally lovely soft plush/fake fur blanket, and dragged them either to one corner of the bed to make a little kitty nest or even more frequently, dragged one or both to the floor, hiding beneath it, a strategy that would doubtless work better if she would remember to hide her tail as well, which she never does. Removal of said blanket inevitably results in what might seem like a a magical or ghostly turning on of the bathroom faucets, if not for the slight fact that yes, we CAN SEE YOUR GREY FUR running from the bathroom, and we can also see you watching the running water in intense concentration.

(Most of the time, when she does this, it's apparently just so she can watch the water run. I think she's trying to figure out where it comes from. She never drinks it or plays with it, but I figure that since she's figured out how to turn the faucets on by watching us, she figures she can figure out where the water comes from by watching it. I used the word "figure" far too often in that sentence.)

On occasion – just on occasion – we vary this by having both cats nestling smugly – no, not snugly, smugly - on top of both blankets, wrapped in each other's paws, smack dab in the center of the bed, refusing to move even when I attempt to move my legs directly under them since that is the most comfortable place for ME. Or we have both cats crawling underneath the covers to sleep with me, a procedure that is far more complicated than that sentence would suggest.

I love winter – or at least the hint of it that we have here. (Hey, we did get actual frost and icicles last year. Who knows what this winter might bring?) I love the cats. But you'll excuse me while I go and try to save my own blankets for the night.
The Little One has a message for you this morning:

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July 2017

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