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.

Cat Stairs

Feb. 8th, 2015 04:04 pm
So my beloved Little One is now fifteen years old. He's still incredibly active - more active than the Grey One, who at 13 has decided that the best way to handle life, really, is to sleep through it, preferably underneath something and far away from people since people are just not something she needs to deal with. The Little One is still dashing around the house, watching birds, running to the door, yowling, crawling into people's laps (he's in my lap now as I type.)

But a few years ago I noticed that he had stopped jumping to the top of bookcases, even from the TV stand. (He used to jump to the top of a high bookcase from the floor, and back; it was kind of his thing. Last year he started approaching the couch only from the front, instead of racing up and leaping to the top of the couch from the back. And in December, for the first time, I saw him clawing a bit when he jumped up to my bed.

So in order to save the comforter, I bought him a nice little set of suede covered cat steps, so he can run up to the bed without nearly falling off it.

He's leaping over them to land on the bed.

The Grey One, naturally, is using them as yet another hiding place.

I'm so glad I invested in this.
Understand this, before you read any further: my brother often says very very mean things about the two cats who have been gracious enough to agree to live with us, mere humans. One has even condescended to climb into my lap right now and curl up, watching me type, just to offer his comfort and love. (I myself am certain this has nothing to do with me wearing velvet or the plunging temperatures.) That same cat happily follows my brother around squeaking and squeaking not, as suspicious minds might think, because my brother might be a source of chicken or tuna, but to make sure my brother never has to feel lonely in the kitchen. And yet, my brother has accused them of doing nothing but sleep around and has even - I shudder to tell you this, but it is the absolute truth, and I have witnesses - said they are lazy and useless. Just because the Grey One was demonstrating how efficiently she naps to make sure that she has the energy to position herself into the right napping position later. I call this very clever. And sometimes he has - I shudder to tell you this as well - refused to go over to a cat and scratch the cat or cuddle the cat even when the cat is in CLEAR AND OBVIOUS NEED of such affection. And each Christmas I get a wrapped can of tuna fish that's labelled, in his writing, "from the cats" and various gag gifts for the cats.

So it was with this knowledge that I ripped off the Peanuts Christmas wrapping paper today to see a gift called the PetPetter, a machine that pets your pets so that you, and I quote the box, can "Never touch your pets again!" It is, the box assured me, designed with both pets and human immune systems in mind.


[personal profile] fbhjr had another objection: "Rechargable for hotel use?" (That was also on the box.) "Why exactly would you be taking your pets to a hotel if you don't want to pet them?"

My brother fell over laughing.

It's his sense of humor, and he'd already given me a real gift - a coffee grinder. So, although I couldn't exactly say "Thank you" because it was mean, I did keep reading the box. "DO YOU SEE WHAT THIS GUY SAYS? 'All pets have one thing in common: they are dirty disease-carrying friends.'"

"Absolute truth."


"Yes, cats are filthy," said my father, unhelpfully.

"It'll be useful when you're gone for three weeks," someone said.

"That's true," I said, glaring. "Because SOMEONE DOESN'T HUG THE CATS WHEN I'M GONE. WAIT! WHAT IS THIS? 'SHOW YOUR LOVE FROM A DISTANCE WITH THESE OTHER GREAT PET PRODUCTS?' You don't deserve to live with cats!"

The Christmas peace was almost ruined. To restore the calm, my brother then handed my mother a gift in that Peanuts Christmas wrapping paper - a video game that keeps track of the household chores you do. Similar, I thought, to a game that [personal profile] tithenai and others have been chatting about over on Twitter - some sort of quest game that unlocks things the more you walk or something like that. Because she is nice my mother said "Thank you," and put the box aside saying she would open it later. I followed her example, thinking kindly thoughts of Goodwill figuring someone might want to give someone else a gag gift like this until my brother handed me another box.

This one was worse: a Petsweep, or an "Animal-Powered Debris Removal System": little pads that can be put on the feet of cats so they can sweep the floors as they walk. "THIS IS EVEN WORSE. WHO IS THIS GUY?"

"This will make the cats useful," my brother said cheerfully, handing a very large gift over to my father. Which turned out to contain a box, which turned out to contain another wrapped present, which turned out to contain a box, which turned out boxes later, contain a silver Roman coin featuring the head of Julius Caesar, c. 46 BC, in a very tightly sealed container. The entire thing was so small [personal profile] malterre was terrified of losing it, though we all passed it around carefully enough.

And then a real gift from my brother for the cats: a little cat bed. (The Little One is now 15, and slowing down, and we have wood laminate floors, so this is good. I'm also going to get a step for the bed in a few more months; he can still jump up, but I can see him looking for alternative routes to the couch, and my bed is pretty high.) So all was mostly forgiven.

My original plan was to follow this with Settlers of Catan, but I'd been getting increasingly dizzy, and food right after this made things worse, so I went back to my room and crashed for a few hours while the rest of them hung out and chatted. That is, my parents and [personal profile] fbhjr and [personal profile] malterre chatted; my brother went back to his usual quiet mode. And then I joined them for another hour before the four of them took off, leaving me with my brother.

"You know," he said. "You can't always trust the box."

In our family, unless the gifts come from my father, who has the store wrap them, this is true, since my mother has a notorious habit of reusing all of the boxes used for last year's Christmas gifts whether or not the box has anything to do with what's inside. My brother has occasionally followed her example - using the box that the squirrel baffle came in to wrap my birthday present just yesterday, for example.

The room was still spinning a bit. "What?"

"I think you should probably open the box." He paused. "Mom probably should too."

I'd already put the PetSweep back in my room. I looked at the PetPetter suspiciously. I opened the box.

As most alert readers have undoubtedly already guessed, it contained, not a PetPetter, but a note on the box flap visible only once the box is open: "Don't get too excited, your real gift is inside." True: a solar charger for mobile devices.

(The other box - the PetSweep - contained Darth Vader coffee beans - to go with the coffee grinder.)

My brother was almost doubled over. "Five people! Five people fell for it!"


"The one box had a DOG WEARING SHOVELS. I thought for SURE you'd guess it THEN, but no!"

"Because it was a clearly MEAN GIFT! I can't believe you didn't say anything UNTIL EVERYONE LEFT!"


(Amazon has it here, along with a few others. Also, Mom, if you are reading this, you should probably open your box.)
1. I chat about my least favorite of the Vesper Holly books over at

2. The Grey One is now cancer free. She is not as happy about this as you would expect her to be, but she did have to go into a box (which she doesn't like) and she had to be in a room that had DOGS and a strange person TOUCHED HER and then they TOOK BLOOD OUT OF HER and then she had to go back into the box. Life is not good, which explains why she has stolen my pillow and why I have decided to just let her keep it.
Quite a bit of drama around these parts this morning. A visit to the vet earlier this week resulted in the determination that the Grey One had to go in for kitty surgery early this morning. My initial plan had been to act Totally Normal and with that Fool Her into taking her usual morning nap and quickly grab her, wrap her in a towel and stuff her into her cat carrier, a method that had worked perfectly well earlier this week even if it had left me with slightly shattered eardrums.

Unfortunately I had forgotten that part of the plan today included removing all food by 10 pm (vet's orders). Neither cat approved of this since this also meant removing Midnight Snacks, and decided to express their disapproval by clawing at me. By 1 or 2 am I had more or less had it and kicked the cats out so I could sleep. When I woke up I was very groggy and thought to myself, wait, do I really want to chase a cat out from inside the bed? No, no I do not. So I did something that seemed sensible at the time -- I closed my bedroom door.

This, alas, combined with the removal of the food and the fact that I went to find coffee instead of bringing out food raised suspicions. When moments had passed, and the Grey One found that I was sitting in the living room with coffee, not bringing her food even though she was obviously dying, and that the doors to ALL THREE BEDROOMS were closed, she did the only sensible thing a cat can do under the circumstances:

She howled up a storm and then darted INTO the wall behind the bathtub.

If you have never tried to remove a cat from this sort of situation, my advice is, don't. She was completely out of reach -- and knew it -- making this a two person job that required removing part of another wall and a hose and a lot of stomping in the bathtub. We finally got her to run out only to have her hide behind the DVD player which was more drama, and arrived completely late at the vet's.

Seriously hoping all of this money and effort spent on making the poor cat completely miserable turns out to be worth it.

Meanwhile the Little One is freaking out. I told him that the other cat would be back soon, but apparently I am no longer trustworthy. I sense I shall be administering plenty of tuna in the near future.
1. As I mentioned, my mother's birthday was Friday. She likes orchids and, greatly unlike me, can actually keep them alive and make new blooms appear on them (orchids take one look at me, consider the situation, and unanimously agree that death is the better option.) So my brother and I stopped by Lowe's on our way to get her an orchid.

And there, on the shelves, was something I'd never seen before: a brilliant, almost glowing blue orchid. Blue is not my mother's favorite color by a long shot, but the orchid was so gorgeous I decided to risk that bit and grab it anyway. I was in a nice mood of self-congratulation until we reached their condo...

...where, while waiting for my brother to untangle the balloons, I read the tag and saw that the color had been created by what the tag called a "magical process" and what I call "dye." Any new blossoms will be white. So, for all of my attempt to get my mother a nice unusual orchid I got her a fake one. Oh well. Hopefully the dye won't ruin the plant's push for more flowers.

2. Alas, her birthday lunch was distinguished by some of the worst service we'd encountered for awhile -- a full half hour passed before anyone came to ask us for drinks (by which point we said we were just going to order everything at once) and then things went downhill from there.

Lesson learned: even an unexpected extra half hour waiting for food is not enough time to explain to my father everything that's going on in Game of Thrones and why a certain character on that show isn't dead yet. ("What's happening? They kill EVERYONE ELSE! Why aren't the dragons burning him up? THIS IS A VERY CONFUSING SHOW." Take note, HBO, take note.)

3. Speaking of Game of Thrones, I had the chance to finally play the Game of Thrones board game, and I am amused at how, just like the dynamics in the books, the board game is almost joyfully unbalanced. This does allow players greater opportunities to screw with each other later which again, much like the book.

4. The bifocals keep making me dizzy and are giving me flashes of green and blue (it's the combination of bifocals/prisms in the lenses) so I am pretty much using them for computer use and reading only and otherwise using my sunglasses until the new non-bifocal glasses arrive. This in turn has left me rather cranky. And, as the cats firmly and painfully pointed out this morning, with a tendency to forget that the cat food bowl is supposed to be replenished on a regular basis otherwise the CATS WILL WASTE AWAY TO NOTHING and HOW CAN I SLEEP THROUGH THAT POSSIBILITY? Your regular reminder that crankiness can be contagious, though right now, the Grey One is curled up into a small ball, the very picture of contentment. She, of course, doesn't have to wear bifocals.
As I may have mentioned, for Christmas the cats very kindly and thoughtfully gave me a three and half story cat tower, with scratching posts, for me to put together for them. (The "half" is a little half tunnel thing between the top and second stories that in the optimistic view of the designers can be used as a resting place for a small cat and a good place to dangle a tail from.) As I was informed, the cats had decided on this cat tower in the hopes that the top of the tower would tempt a certain small black and white cat away from from the top of the bookshelf in the living room, where he is not wanted on the grounds that when he descends from the top of the bookshelf, he lands either on the aquarium (whose cover was not exactly designed with cats in mind), the TV/TV stand, which now holds a considerably more expensive and lightweight TV that could be knocked over, or on a small grey cat who finds having a black and white cat fall on her a terrifying experience that justifies not using the litter box for a few hours. AUUUGH. Also their old little cat condo was getting quite scratched up and scruffy looking (they've had it for about ten years -- they don't get into it but they like to scratch the outside and the Grey One will sometimes sleep on the top curled up into a small ball. The cat tower would also give the Grey One new places to hide in, which if you are the Grey One is a decided advantage.

So, naturally, this morning I found the Grey One standing on top of the second story not hidden at all, and the Little One sleeping on top of the bookshelf.

I didn't take him down (although I am watching to keep him off the aquarium). I should, but he's 13, and I rather like this reminder that he's incredibly active for a 13 year old cat (far more active than the Grey One, who at 11 has decided that really, this is the time of life when cats should nap a lot, preferably in places where they can't be seen.) He still dashes around the house, still plays with his mice, and still seems to be under the impression that he's a kitten or a dog. I can take a little bookshelf excitement. And maybe he'll find the top part of the cat tower at some point.
For those of you waiting impatiently for Les Miserables next week, the Little One would like to offer up his latest poem, which he feels perfectly captures the spirit and meaning of the original novel:

One scratch more –
Another day, another lap moment
This endless road to nirvana –
This human who scratches my chin –
Surely she'll do it again!

One scratch more!

I was not scratched enough today –
will I be scratched enough tomorrow?

One scratch more!

Tomorrow she'll be typing away again –
And yet that does not scratch my chin!

One scratch more!

One more nap here on my own –
One more look of her not caring –
What a life I might have known,
I'll just walk into her lap!
She'll be sure to scratch me there!

One scratch more!

One scratch more – wait, where is my tuna?
I must nip this in the bud,
I must sink my little teeth in,
I must mark my point with blood!

Watch her run amuck,
watch her squawk and curse,
note how this results in hands in my fur!

One scratch more to my nirvana!
Tomorrow I'm certain has lots of scratches for me in store!
One scratch more!
One more scratch!
One scratch more!
First, from alert reader [profile] gargoylerose we see that the squirrels are, gasp, ARMORING UP. People! Do not increase their access to weapons technology!

Second, from alert reader [personal profile] wyldemusick, this explains the superiority of cats:

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.
Some furry creatures decided to take advantage of a certain unmade bed this morning:

Cut for large image. )
After carefully researching an infallible bastion of current knowledge, the humans of this household have determined that the following actions are not considered torture of cats under the Geneva Conventions:

1. Shutting the door to the laundry room.

2. Shutting the door to the laundry room after failing to notice that a cat was trapped inside.

3. Opening the door to the laundry room thus inadvertently allowing a cat to enter.

4. Failing to leave laundry in the laundry room for the cat to sleep on.

5. Removing a cat from a dryer.

6. Removing a cat from inside a dryer.

7. Not allowing the cat into the laundry room following the above incidents.

8. Making coffee instead of scratching the cat. (In fact, the failure to make coffee may possibly result in some actions that could be considered torture of cats.)

9. Turning on the Roomba.

10. Allowing the Roomba to venture near a couch, bed, or chair.

11. Allowing several dogs unrelated to the humans owned by the cat to be walked, on a leash, on a sidewalk several feet away from a window containing a cat. (While we're on the subject, your humans would like to note that they have no, but no, control over pedestrians on the sidewalk, a group that includes all pedestrians who happen to be accompanied by Interesting Animals.)

12. Venturing outside without the cat.

13. Typing.

14. Consuming ice cream without the assistance of a cat.

15. Consuming peanut butter, which cats do not like, without the assistance of a cat.

16. Removing cat paws from a keyboard.

17. Removing cat paws from a keyboard two seconds later.

18. Removing cat paws from a keyboard for the third time three seconds later.

19. Placing the cat on the floor because the cat continues to put cat paws on the keyboard.

20. Sole or joint use of a pillow by either human.

21. Requesting the cat to not stand right in front of the screen during a Leverage rewatch.

22. Using a can opener to open a can of black beans instead of tuna, especially since the cat would not be getting any tuna anyway even if that were the can getting opened, not because the humans of this household are cruel individuals or unaware of the pleasures of tuna, but because the cat keeps putting paws on the keyboard.

23. Rain, particularly because you are indoor cats.

Your request for tuna as some small compensation for these matters is therefore denied.
S, C and I are off for Gen Con tomorrow, which means my access to and time on the internet will be greatly limited for a week or so. So, some small things before I go, in case I don't get around to it tomorrow:

1. The usual post should be up on Thursday, as I continue to read my way through the works of Edith Nesbit.

2. This got kinda lost in all of the LJ troubles of last week, but, Bull Spec #6, which features a little poem of mine, "Petals," is available for sale in print or pdf format. It's got lots of good stuff in it.

3. Bull Spec also has some good buzz about
the upcoming issue of Fantastique Unfettered #3. (Link is to the Bull Spec review; for some reason Blogger is telling me that I am not allowed to access Fantastique Unfettered at the moment. The internet. It is such fun.) This issue features poems by lots of people, as well as short fiction from me and [personal profile] skogkatt AND an interview with Mike Allen ([profile] time_shark. I believe it's coming out at the end of the month, and I'll have more information about it then.

4. If you have any pity to spare, and I realize this week you might not, send it to a very sad little black and white cat, who saw me packing up the suitcase today. He put two of his toy mice in it, in a hopeful sort of way, and I had to break the bad news to him that the Indianapolis Convention Center is most unreasonable on the subject of cats, even over friendly ones. I'm just grateful that I found the mice before I left (although I'm sure he'll try to sneak one in again) and that I've mostly kept him out of the suitcase, but this is a very sad little cat right now, hiding under the bed, with even his companion in naps ignoring him. On a related note the Grey One is highly irritated that I dared – dared – enter the closet when she was using it for napping periods, which is just Not Ok, even though I have informed her that everyone in this house is out of the closet, including her, and in any case this house is filled with several excellent napping areas. This argument went nowhere.

The Little One is rarely this upset when I pack (then again, I rarely pack in advance, so I suspect he thought I was leaving today), but the last time I packed up this suitcase was World Fantasy Con, which was also the same time we moved, and he came into a new house without me.
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.
So for the next few days I'll be flitting in and out of this, and spending time at my parents' condo when not there. (Spare a few thoughts for the cats who will be spending AN ETERNITY without anyone rubbing their bellies or scratching their chins. It's a tragedy. Well. In cat terms.) I'm guessing my internet access at the conference will be limited, and in any case, for this conference I'll just be taking along my iTouch, not my notebook computer. I'll try to keep up with things at night, but, no guarantees.

Not that I'll be quite deserting you. In theory last week's post will be going up tomorrow (see! time travel!), and I have a follow up post that I'll be trying to put up after that goes up, either late Thursday or Friday. And I may well be blogging bits about the conference here and there.

Also, housekeeping note: Apparently in response to the amount of spam slamming my LJ, Lj is now randomly screening some of your comments -- all comments with links, and some additional comments without links for seemingly random reasons. (In a fun touch, much of the spam - some with links - is still popping up unscreened.) If you actually WANT your comment left screened, that's fine - just tell me in the comments, and I'll leave it screened. Otherwise, I will unscreen comments when I get a chance.

I'm still trying to keep anonymous commenting on, largely because I get some interesting non-spam stuff that way, but I have to admit that the ongoing Russian porn is kinda making me rethink that. And of course, now that I've written that phrase, I'm sure I'll get slammed with still more of that.
Three entirely unrelated bits of news:

1) I take on the most controversial of the Narnia books, The Last Battle, over at

2) Just in case you didn't hear yet (although I'm pretty sure most of you have) George RR Martin has announced a publication date for Dance of Dragons.

I'm with you all in saying I'll believe it when I see it, and probably on my own of feeling a little sad that now that both Patrick Rothfuss and George RR Martin are delivering/have delivered their long awaited novels, I can't exactly point to them as excuses for not getting my own fiction work done, gulp, gulp.

3) I have a washer/dryer again.

Unfortunately, the first thing that entered the dryer was a black and white cat. I took his squeaks during the removal process as a sign of approval. For the curious, he was less helpful than he thought he was during the installation process, failing to understand that the Lowe's delivery guys were there to plug in the washer and hook up the dryer vents, not scratch a cat. I suppose from the cat point of view that's an understandable mistake.
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.
1) Happy Festivus to all! Here, I am pleased to tell you that the holiday has gone quite well and according to custom with the Grey One knocking down a pole. (Well, ok, technically the Swifter, but, a pole is a pole and she liked watching it fall since her grievances, apparently, are poles that stand up and faucets that could be running water, but aren't, so, it counts as a Festivus sort of thing.)

2) For those of you not quite sick of Santa Claus yet, I chatter about L. Frank Baum's biography of the tireless toymaker over at

3) And, this is my favorite site of the day: Law and the Multiverse, in which two attorneys carefully explain how the law applies to superheroes and supervillains. Particularly useful for any of you who may be expecting Doomsday to throw Superman through your house this holiday season, or, in the case of at least one of my readers, expecting a certain comics writer to throw Spider-Man through your house in hopes that this may end various internet flame wars. (Memo: no internet flame war that I have been aware of has ever been improved by the throwing of a superhero through the average suburban home, but it is true that I am not aware of everything.)

Apparently, this cat has still more grievances to share, and it is Festivus, after all, so later.

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