Excuses, excuses…

When I started this blog, I intended to post an entry at least every other week. Unfortunately, since my last entry on July 12th I haven’t written anything other than a grant proposal and, despite rumors to the contrary, even I can’t make that sort of thing amusing. At least not without jeopardizing the reputation or financial stability of the organization on whose behalf I am writing it.

This is new territory for me since never before have I used writing as an excuse for not writing. Ordinarily I cite yard work or household chores as the reasons for my lack of productivity in that realm. Now and again I’ll point to errands or family obligations to explain my absence from my desk, but for the last few weeks that situation has been reversed, with writing—and not the fun kind—being the reason there are no groceries in the house and the oil change for the Jarhead’s car is being put off for another week. Thank goodness the family reunion isn’t until mid-August or several people with whom I share DNA would no longer be speaking to me.

While you debate the pros and cons of that last sentence from your own perspective, I’ll add that although the type of writing I’m up to these days is a departure from the norm, it is not unusual for writing to get in the way of my other responsibilities. In fact, chores and errands have taken a back seat to writing so often that when we run out of food no one ever asks me why; they just suffer in silence. Mostly.

Let it not be said that I don’t WANT to keep the pantry stocked and the floors clean. It’s just that I’m a planner and sometimes I get so bogged down drafting my list of chores, errands, and the groceries we need that I never make it out the door. Or I race out of the house without my lists and waste so much time zig-zagging from department to department—or store to store—that I have to throw in the towel and go without something another day.

Clearly I’m not the only one who wrestles with priorities and comes out less than victorious. Compared to congress, for example, I’m doing A-OK. And don’t get me started on the people at the DOT.

On that note, it’s time to get back to my proposal. Because, although I may have bought myself some time with this post, I’d like to have something better to talk about in two weeks than why I haven’t been to the gym in a month.


Cat Fancy

Readers who have scanned my bio have already heard of my love for cats, while those who know me personally would describe it more like idol worship. At this point I’ll spare everyone the debate and just admit that my fondness for felines verges on addiction or obsession, while shrugging off suggestions that I should make some attempt at reform or recovery.

Like others with my affliction, I’ve had a lot of cats over the years. Some of them were not literally MY cats since I would hold, pet, and play with them without the benefit of a license, ownership papers, or even a common-law understanding that I was responsible for their support, but as they say: Why buy the cat when you can get the meow for free? Besides, more than one of my cats—and by that I do mean my very own cats—were borrowed or stolen from me over the years—one of them by the wife of my high school principal who cunningly lured Gato to her lair with heavy cream and then convinced him he’d be happier living in their two-story ranch home on the hill than he would be under the steps of our mobile home.

Since losing Gato to Mrs. H. in 1983, I’ve had roughly twenty other cats as pets. Mostly they were garden variety felines—gray tabbies, orange tabbies, gray torties, brown torties, gray tuxedoes, black tuxedoes, solid black, solid gray or solid white—with standard equipment (four legs, two eyes, ears, nose, and tail) although now and again I’d acquire one with missing, extra, or defective parts.

For example, there was Festus, a gray tabby who was bow-legged, blind in one eye, and—like the Gunsmoke character by the same name—spoke in meandering sentences with a heavy southwestern accent and would generously douse with his signature fragrance the shoes and clothing of any human in possession of a Y chromosome. (Okay, only part of that was true, but you’ll have to figure out for yourself which elements are bogus.)

It was always interesting taking Festus to the vet. I say this not because I suffer from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy or have no other useful purpose for the Jarhead’s hard earned salary, but because invariably the person who would call us into the exam room would misread the name on his chart as Fetus, which would cause everyone else in the waiting room look each other with disdain or concern. This would become only that much funnier when the dumbass saying it would shake her head or make a face as if WE were the weirdoes.

Not long after adopting Festus we acquired Electra. She was a fluffy brown tortie who had normal legs, eyes, and toilet habits, but lacked a tail and had an affinity for sleeping in trash bins. Fortunately she would tip them over before climbing inside, or who knows how long it would have been before she found her way home from the landfill to voice her displeasure at our lack of attention to detail.

And then there was Louis XVI, who had long beautiful blonde fur with fine white tips, and a tail so voluminous we suspected he was born to a lion who had shagged a snow fox. Within days of adopting him it became apparent why Nature made him so gorgeous: She needed to ensure that someone would want to provide for him because if he’d had to survive by his wits alone, he would have died moments after weaning.

Of all the cats we’ve had over the years, our all-time favorite is an old female I’ll call the Duchess. I would never admit aloud she’s our favorite for fear of causing her housemates irreparable emotional harm. But since none of them know how to access the Internet, or can read well enough to learn of my bias, I think I’m safe in writing about it.

Despite her nickname, the Duchess actually comes from humble beginnings. Born in a box behind a discarded mattress in a garage in Licola, Italy in 1996, hers is the classic immigrant success story. A black domestic short hair, she was to be named Uhura after the beautiful and elegant communications officer of the Starship Enterprise. But only moments after bringing her home it became obvious that she would never be as graceful as her namesake, so we chose something more befitting her self-assured personality and enormous head and ears.

Since joining our family, the Duchess has put us through a lot—starting with the 12 hour trip from Europe to the US when the Jarhead and I finished our assignment in Naples in 1999, during which she yowled nonstop about, presumably, the food, the water, and substandard accommodations. To be fair, I don’t really know what she was yowling about, but to this day if you put her in a carrier, she will yowl herself hoarse unless you place it directly in front of an air vent and set the fan to hyper drive.

I could go on for hours talking about my cats—or your cats, your neighbors’ cats, or lolcats—but, alas, the Duchess is calling for her dinner, and it’s not polite to keep a lady waiting.