Wednesday, January 15, 2014

one wedding photo

Some of you wanted to see a pic of us, so this is on our wedding day…Excy's hair is tied behind his back -- I rather miss it long...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

cricket's story

Hi all. I am going to tell my last story (Love Off the Record), on the NPR radio show 'Tales from the South.'  It will be recorded in Jan., but aired as a Valentines Day show. If you don't get it on your local NPR I can give you a link so you can watch it online sometime. The story below is one I helped my dad write about their beloved cat Cricket. I

I have been pretty busy between life and also taking care of my parents. Mom's first chemo was last week and it seems I am being more and more of the care-giver….take care……hope you enjoy the story…...

She sat regally in the middle of the Oriental rug, acting for all the world as fancy as an Egyptian ‘tomb cat,’ despite outward appearances to the contrary: rather ordinary looking, gray fur, no distinctive markings or features (unless you counted a slight overbite and alarmingly large, unblinking green eyes). “But Amy,” I moaned, “You told us she was beautiful!” 
“Oh dad, she’ll grow on you,” my daughter replied. “Besides she needs a good home. She’s just a kitten and was living in the woods. My friend wanted to keep her but his wife’s allergic to cats. But he’s taken her to the vet and she’s in great shape.”
Just as I was marshaling my most cogent arguments against the situation, the cat (as if she had heard quite enough), gravely rose to all four paws, languidly stretched her full but tiny length, and walked over to me. As if to say ‘put ‘er there, pal, we’ve got a deal,’ she then reached out one of her tiny front legs and spread her toes towards me as if to seal the contract. It was the feline version of the ‘high five.’ I was rendered speechless. I was also hooked. 
And so she moved in, taking immediate control of the household - my wife Ruth Ann, our elderly cat, Winston, and of course, myself. I named her ‘Cricket,’ for her high chirpy voice, which she demonstrated constantly. As several weeks went by, Cricket never settled down or stopped talking. She was telling us the saga of her life story and it was apparently a saga of infinite importance. After listening to Cricket morning, noon, and night - into the wee hours of the night, and beginning at dawn - my patience was wearing thin. The next time Amy came over I told her the cat had to go. “I just cannot stand the constant chattering. “She has got to go, as much as I hate to say it,” I said. 
“Well,” Amy mused, “I can’t bring her to into my house, but she could be a studio cat.” I was aghast. Their studio was 200 yards from the house! “Oh no,”  I shook my head. “Cricket’s a house cat. She’d never be happy relegated to the studio!” Amy tilted her head back and smiled faintly. Needless to say, Cricket stayed where she was. 
A week later we discovered Cricket was ‘in the family way.’ Despite our numerous feline companions over the years, we had never been midwives. Out came the cat books, and we started reading up on what to expect. According the ‘authorities,’ 1) We needn’t worry. Cats do this all the time and know what to do. (Except a young cat may need help with the birth. Oops). And 2) Cat mothers just want privacy. A cardboard box off by itself in an out-of-the-way closet is the perfect maternity suite.
We began feeling more secure. As weeks went by and the blessed event drew near, we prepared further. A box was made ready with several changes of towels nearby. Scissors, potions, lotions, cotton swabs, and any number of items we imagined might be needed were ready. We continued to read until we were reasonably sure our crash course in Obstetrics had made us fairly confident, but we wrote down the emergency vet number just in case. At last Cricket began acting nervous one day, pacing the house, poking into closets, going up and down stairs, and in general acting like something was about to happen, and soon. I told my Ruth Ann we would be proud grandparents by morning and should retire for the night.
Wrong! The prospective mother was having none of it! She wanted her midwife in constant attendance, and her birthing box in the middle of the living room. Ruth Ann managed to take the box downstairs to a somewhat quieter location, with Cricket following closely at her heels. Not long after, she hopped into the box and began the birthing process. After an hour, Cricket had delivered three fine kittens, and had done all the things she was not supposed to know how to do, so the midwife finally retired for the night. Imagine our surprise when the next morning we peeked into the box and discovered five healthy looking kittens. They were all cleaned up, nursing well, and seemed to have the requisite number of appendages. Cricket looked tired but seemed very pleased with herself.
For three weeks we didn’t see much of the little mother. We checked the box and kittens frequently, but Cricket seemed to have everything under control. Once or twice a day, a very tired Cricket drug her way upstairs to the kitchen and her food bowl, after which she came in the living room and flopped down with us for some much-deserved rest. It wouldn’t be long, however, before she’d hear cries from downstairs and off she’d go for another feeding. After three more weeks of this, the kittens were almost ready to be weaned.
Since the 1970’s, we have fed raccoons nightly on the upper deck. When they appear in the evening we bring out the day-old bread and rolls we buy for them. Generations of mama ‘coons have indoctrinated their kittens to this ritual. Apparently, Cricket had been registering all this with interest. One morning we went down to inspect the kittens, and found that sometime in the night Cricket had come up to the kitchen and jumped on the counter, grabbed a large plastic bag of rolls, and dragged them down the stairs and into the box as if to say “Okay kids it’s time! You’re on your own!” We then decided it was time to introduce the tribe to ‘real’ kitten food.

A year later, Cricket was sole cat (Winston had died after a long full life). We went on our annual trip to Florida for a month. We felt bad about leaving Cricket alone in the house so long, but had daily caretakers checking on her. When we got home, though, Cricket was fit to be tied with us. We were used to cats expressing their displeasure at our absence when we returned from trips, but  Cricket was determined to bring our ‘penance’ to a new level! She watched us dump our suitcase on the bed and go outside for another load. Once back inside the house, she commanded our attention with her meows, and then as we watched, she stalked down the hall, jumped on the bed, and looking directly into our shocked faces, proceeded to pee on our luggage. All we could do was laugh. We can also state that without a doubt, we have never been owned by a nicer cat.