Archive for the ‘Caturdays’ Category

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but this morning at around 10:03, Stratford Palace entered an alternate universe. Until this very day, our Saturdays have included grooming rituals that go something like this:

  1. The caretaker locates the basket of cat grooming equipment and extracts the super duper fur comb-ma-bob-thingy.
  2. The caretaker locates Bear and shows her the fur comb.
  3. Bear, who loves grooming time, proceeds immediately to the ottoman and jumps up on it.
  4. The caretaker sits down by the ottoman and begins combing through Bear’s lovely coat.
  5. Buddy wanders in and finds a strategic spot from which to watch Bear being groomed.
  6. If the caretaker gets anywhere near Buddy with the fur comb, his fight or flight instincts take over and he either bats wildly at the comb or runs away.

But on this memorable morning, exactly nothing past Step 2 happened in the usual fashion. We pick up with the alternate Step 3.

3. Bear, who usually loves grooming time, ignores the caretaker.

4. The caretaker sits down by the ottoman and beckons again, to no avail.

5. Buddy wanders in and hops on the ottoman.

6. The caretaker combs through Buddy’s fur without incident.

We offer this explanation as a sort of public service announcement to our gentle readers who may have felt a slight tremor, or some other disturbance in the force, at the time of our entry into the alternate universe. It is our goal to return to you as soon as possible, but one does not always have control over such things. Our only hope is that this does not signal the end of the world as we know it. Heaven knows, Buddy heralds that event often enough.



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Just when Buddy and Bear thought conditions at the palace could not get any worse, they were subjected to a Saturday filled with what the caretaker calls “cleening” but the cats call “hooman-generated mayhem.” The cats have no idea what the goal of this activity might be; they only know it is sheer terror for them, as large sticks with brushes are wielded, toxic chemicals are sprayed, and furniture is moved around. But this weekend, an unforgiveable act occurred, and Buddy has decided it is high time he lodged a formal complaint against the caretaker (hereinafter called “the party of the worst part”). Unfortunately, he has watched enough snippets of courtroom dramas to gain a smattering of mind-numbing legalese. But his text shall be reproduced verbatim below, to prevent yet another complaint from being lodged:

A Formal (and Buddy-Eloquent) Complaint
against The Odious Woman Who Cleens

Whereas the mighty Sovereign of Stratford Palace has repeatedly been frightened by the rapid motions of brooms, mops, and dusters (hereinafter called “brushes-on-a-death-stick”); and

Whereas the serving dishes of said Sovereign have been removed from their appointed positions to accommodate the frantic gesticulations of the Odious Woman and her brushes-on-a-death-stick; and

Whereas the sleep of said Sovereign has been interrupted on multiple occasions by the inordinate fluffing of pillows and flipping of bed linens; and

Whereas the flagrant processing of pelts has been pursued so rampantly in the palace that said Sovereign has been sent fleeing for his very life (and pelt); and

Whereas, the peace and tranquility of a previously leisurely Caturday have been shattered forever by the hissing of spray bottles and groanings of the Laundry Beast; and primarily

Whereas the personal bathroom facilities of said Sovereign were just this weekend removed to the palace front lawn in a wanton disregard of decorum and propriety, causing the same said Sovereign to spend half an hour staring out the front door in disbelief and another half hour cowering under his own personal cot;

Whereas all these indignities and more have heretofore been borne with quiet patience and grace, therefore, to wit, the previously mentioned Sovereign has taken pen in hand to bring suit against the Odious Woman and all of her cleaning paraphernalia. Since there is not enough money in the world to pay restitution for the damage she has caused, the Sovereign of Stratford Palace wishes to inflict the following tortures on her, as payment in kind for the pain and suffering she has inflicted upon his person:

  • May all of her hair fall out except in the places where she does not want it to grow (to wit, her chin)
  • May her ice cream melt and her chocolate sauce run out.
  • May she be eternally stuck in traffic thirty yards from a Starbucks so that she may smell the coffee but be unable to purchase a cup.
  • May her shoes all have tiny little sharp stones lodged in places from whence they cannot be removed.
  • May her radio get stuck on the country music station.
  • May she be awakened at 3 every morning instead of 4.
  • And finally, may she spend the rest of her natural life ensuring that the Sovereign and his cranky sidekick are lavishly provided with the finest treats.

The final item may, we repeat *may*, already be occurring., but Buddy refuses to believe that the caretaker is doing her level best to serve him. We shall see.

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Though the cats have lived at Stratford Palace for almost nine months, they are still discovering just how many rivals they have in this strange new land that has many boxy houses and very few trees. An early encounter with Tortie Muldoon was chronicled in verse a few months ago, but since that time, the tortoiseshell scoundrel has made herself scarce. She was, however, spotted (pun intended) glaring into the dining room window during one of the Christmas feasts. Fortunately, Buddy and Bear were so occupied trying to avoid being seen by the hoomans that they didn’t notice the uppity minx walking the deck rail like a circus acrobat. The caretaker and Other Momma watched Tortie for a while, but soon she tired of ogling food she couldn’t reach and so moved on.

During the past few months, two other cats have been seen exactly once each in the outlying areas: a black cat looked on from the porch next door as the caretaker brought in groceries one Caturday, and one Sunday night a white cat wandered amid the garbage bins across the street. Not much to write home about, all in all.

That is until recently, when all fury broke loose in the form of an orange-and-white demon referred to in the palace as Ginger Peach, or sometimes GP for short. Like Tortie, GP has no regard for property rights or for royalty and will saunter onto the palace grounds and taunt Buddy whenever the mood strikes him. The most recent encounter with GP was the source of much upheaval in the palace, and it nearly caused Buddy to go completely mad. The caretaker was getting ready to run errands one Caturday during the holidays when she noticed that Buddy was bounding from room to room in an apparent attempt to get a better look at something outside. Curious, she followed him, but she finally gave up on trying to figure out what had Buddy’s heart racing and his feet along with it.

But as the caretaker backed down the driveway, she saw the offender emerging from the bushes in the flower bed, which was well in view of the largest Cat TV in the house. His game of hide-and-seek with Buddy was very much like the shenanigans that Tabby Lee and Mr. Shorty used to perpetrate at the Seafoam Cottage. Given that this desolate land where the palace is located provides no squirrels, few birds, and almost no cats to hate, all of Buddy’s energies were poured into that one encounter with Ginger Peach. And he was not amused.

Whatever transpired while the caretaker was away, GP was gone by the time she returned. As she brought in sacks filled with groceries, Buddy emerged from his throne room to conduct the obligatory inspection of the larder goods. Thank goodness for the small favor that he can be so easily distracted by food. Otherwise, his head may have exploded.

But no doubt his hatred for GP has not been quenched, so be it known that His Majesty Merlin “Buddy” Blacktail is preparing for the Great GP War, and this time he will show his mettle. He is Gandalf the White and Black, and you, Ginger Peach are a Balrog who shall not pass into his fair and happy palace. Mainly because there’s a window between you and him, but nevertheless, YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

So watch yourself, Flame of Udûn. King Buddy knows how to put you out.

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Lest the previous post leave our gentle readers with the impression that Stratford Palace is a pigsty, Buddy and Bear would like to stress that the caretaker has a cleaning regimen which takes up a substantial portion of every Caturday and is extremely distressing to the cats on many levels.

One of the main problems is the matter of the caretaker’s missing lap. When she is sweeping floors and emptying garbage cans, her lap might as well have an “out of service” sign on it. This situation is much more of a grief to Bear than to Buddy because when the caretaker is home, Bear’s goal is to stay as close to her as possible, but both cats are distressed by the extra noise and commotion they must endure until cleaning is complete.

Buddy’s main concern when he finds the caretaker standing and working instead of sitting quietly is that he assumes that her motives are the same as his: scoping out mayhem to pursue. For example, when she wields a broom to rearrange the various bits and pieces of dirt on the floor, Buddy expects his life to end at any moment by “blunt force trauma.” (He really must stop watching so many crime mysteries.). The missing lap/walking caretaker is also a problem during laundry time, and unfortunately that process has not changed much since the days in the Seafoam Cottage (See “An Open Letter to Hunter Van Pelt.”)

However, there is one particular laundry day that must be chronicled here, as it created the greatest distress Buddy has yet seen at Stratford Palace. Our gentle readers may not be aware that the cats have their own room, complete with a supply cabinet, litter boxes, and a small, quilt-covered cot, pictured below.

Fort Cat

Fort Cat/Cot

Hoomans would, of course, be tiresome and say that a cot’s only appropriate purpose is to be slept upon, but the underside of the cot provides the perfect place for Buddy to play his favorite game, “Hide-and-Go-Sleep.” The caretaker has learned to look here first whenever she is getting ready to leave the house and needs to make sure he is not locked away in a closet.

It is not so much the cot itself that Buddy loves but the quilt that turns it into a cat fort par excellence. It did, that is, until that fateful day of 14 July 2012, which shall forever more be called “Laundry Day” instead of “Bastille Day.” (Except, of course, in France, because the French are selfish and have absolutely no perspective on what constitutes a real problem.)

And what, the gentle reader might ask, made this laundry day so fateful? It was nothing less than the washing of the quilt, preceded by the removal of the quilt, which left the soft underbelly of the cot exposed. There are no words to describe the look of betrayal and alarm that emanated from Buddy’s face when he walked into his room and found his cat fort dismantled. Doctors may get along just fine without borders, but there is no way a cat fort can be useful without walls. He walked under the bed and looked out at the caretaker accusingly, daring her to point out that she could now see him.

Trying to process the loss of both a porch AND a fort, Buddy wandered nervously around the house during the wash cycle, and finally found a place to nap fitfully while the quilt was drying. Then he followed the caretaker to the clothes dryer, watched carefully as she hoisted up the laundered quilt, and then escorted her to his room, hoping against hope that his beloved fort could soon resume its proper form. Like any good manager, he stood to the side and watched her imperiously as she centered the quilt on the cot, smoothed it out, and checked to make sure it hung straight on the side. And like a good manager, he ran forward to point out all the mistakes she had made. As soon as she left the room, he ducked under the bed to make up for lost time and was not seen again for several hours.

Of course, the observant reader will have already noticed the miracle that is described in the previous paragraph. Under normal circumstances Buddy runs frantically away from anything to do with laundry. But on this day, his fear of pelt sorting was eclipsed by his great need to restore order in his fragile universe.

But rest easy, gentle readers, for order HAS been restored. The picture of the cot above was taken after the quilt was washed. God’s in His heaven. Buddy’s under his cot. Bear has been fed. All’s right with the world.

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Just in the nick of time, a proper Caturday was restored to Stratford Palace last weekend. During the first three weeks of June the caretaker was gone for 13 days. Now that her travels are over for a while, she has made herself available for all of her usual tasks: feeding cats, filling water bowls, purchasing cat food, distributing cat snacks, grooming cats, and sweeping up cat hair. As necessary as those chores may be, they must never displace the most important activity of all: sitting on the big new chair so the cats can gather around to be adored.

During those times, Bear can normally be found draped across the chair back, occasionally reaching her paw out to poke the caretaker on the shoulder to reassure herself that the caretaker is still in her proper place. And Buddy is generally draped over the caretaker’s arm, fully expecting to have his ears scratched and to have the caretaker speak in calm and soothing tones, perhaps breaking out into a silly song or a round of baby talk. At those times, the caretaker is allowed to type, but only with her right hand, and she dare not sneeze or she runs the risk of having her left arm and leg shredded. (Buddy is inexplicably spooked by the sound of sneezing.)

Prime Real Estate: The Caretaker's Lap

Prime Real Estate: The Caretaker’s Lap

But lest our story degenerate into sappy sentimentalism, let us now introduce our gentle readers to the conflict that seethes just below the surface of this happy scene.

From time to time, Buddy’s affection level reaches maximum saturation, and he is compelled to hop down and stalk rogue pieces of paper, grab a snack, survey the neighborhood from the picture window, or raid the garbage can to eat the fur that was carefully swept up just an hour before. And while Buddy gallavants through the palace, Bear makes her move to inhabit the empty lap. She slowly climbs down from the back of the chair and creeps toward the caretaker, using as much “stealth mode” as an aging overweight feline can muster. Upon reaching her desired spot, she flops onto the caretaker and takes over Buddy’s place, which still has a bit of warmth left over from the previous occupant.

If she’s lucky, Buddy’s antics keep him occupied long enough for her to finish a lovely nap. But woe be it to her if he returns and wants to resume his rightful place of adoration. Buddy has never been particularly delicate, so his usual tactic is just to flop down on top of Bear and make her angry enough to leave. Sometimes, however, the scene played out on the prime real estate of the caretaker’s lap appears to belong in British Parliament, complete with incomprehensible squabbles and a level of rudeness that can only be achieved by otherwise civilized folk. At the end of the hissing and other forms of lively debate, both cats are usually banished and the caretaker vacates the chair in order to take care of her own chores.

As the curtain closes on this silly melodrama, the caretaker has returned to the chair, with Bear draped across her neck and Buddy draped over her arm. Any reader desiring a sequel should return to the beginning of this post. And please do try to stay out of the garbage can.

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