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Caturday is always welcome at Stratford Palace, but this week’s respite from the world of work was especially needed. The caretaker has already related Monday evening’s tragic tuna tale. Then on Tuesday, there was a series of laundry accidents, beginning with Bear’s soiling of the caretaker’s bed (don’t ask). We will pick up the story with the necessity of washing sheets on a weeknight, which is not the caretaker’s first choice of evening entertainment. But Tuesday night it was fraught with the additional danger of a stopped-up pipe that began to barf dirty, soapy water all over the kitchen floor just as Buddy had settled down in the caretaker’s lap. One minute he was sleeping serenely; the next he was listening to the caretaker yell, “Oh, no!” and being dumped onto the floor so that she could rush into the kitchen and stop the washer water from doing the same.

Even at the best of times laundry is a stressful activity for Buddy, but after his shake-up, he spent the evening darting from room to room, getting ready for his best performance ever. About nine p.m., the caretaker was spreading the newly laundered sheets on the bed, blissfully unaware of the danger that lay only a few feet away. As she took a small step toward the head of the bed, Buddy took a giant leap from under the bed, crossing her path and tripping her. Now if one is going to topple over ungracefully, it is a good idea to have a bed around to break the fall. The only casualty was the caretaker’s knee, which hit the floor and sustained a small bump. All in all, the caretaker fared much better this time than she has in previous battles with gravity.

But that was not the end of the horror, for we must provide an accounting of Halloween at the Palace.

Given Buddy’s history of darting out open doors, the caretaker didn’t think it wise to invite endless streams of children to beg for an insulin rush, so she kept the front porch light off to discourage trick-or-treaters. It wouldn’t have mattered, however, because no one would have dared to venture up the driveway. Before it got dark, Buddy noticed people walking down the sidewalk and envied them greatly. So he stationed himself in the window and put on his best gargoyle look. Upon seeing that face, it was not likely that the words “Mommy, look at the sweet kitty-kitty! Let’s go visit him!” would fall trippingly from anyone’s lips. The only way the little children could stay carefree was for their parents to say, “Look away children. That cat statue is entirely too grotesque. The woman who lives in that house should be ashamed of herself.”

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Mercifully, the worst of the danger seems to have passed for now. But the threat of horror lingers on. The caretaker just heard the mournful meow of a restless Buddy, and was then startled when he suddenly jumped onto the chair arm. Apparently there is just no end to the madness. Yep, it’s pretty much a normal evening here at the Palace.

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Daily life at the palace is much like a liturgy, for it is both predictable and complex. Since the feeble-minded caretaker is unable to order her own path through its complexities, she is quite blessed to have two resident liturgists.

Buddy begins the order of the day by announcing the arrival of morning. Depending on the requirements of the day (which are known only to Buddy), his announcement consists of a running leap into the caretaker’s stomach or a loud “marrooouuuu!” delivered from the middle of the room. Sometimes he combines the two events, and yells in mid-jump. Regardless, the desired effect is achieved. The caretaker’s rises for the opening act of service required by the cats: breakfast. At this point, Bear takes up her station as the breakfast liturgist. Mewing out versicles that require no responses, she precedes the caretaker into the kitchen and then stops at the foot of the cabinet containing the cat food. When the caretaker arrives, Bear processes and recesses along the back of the caretaker’s ankles, singing the breakfast blessing. When the caretaker places the beloved dish in its place, Buddy hangs back, like a gentleman, allowing Bear to complete her meal before he moves forward to take his portion.

While Buddy eats, Bear leads the caretaker into the bathroom for the ablutions. Continuing as liturgist, Bear chooses her location from which to oversee the proceedings: sometimes from the fluffy toilet lid, sometimes from a pile of clothing on the floor, sometimes from behind a towel. If events do not transpire according to her liking, she gently reminds the caretaker of the proper order and method, and she continues to do so throughout the rest of the morning’s versicles and responses. As the caretaker stumbles through the final moments preceding the morning benediction, Buddy takes his place in the window, where the shafts of sunlight will lull him to sleep. Rising so early has sapped his strength, and he must needs rest so that he will be prepared for the evening liturgy.

Buddy Rests from Morning Duties

Buddy Rests from Morning Duties

Upon arriving home after work, the caretaker is met at the door by both liturgists, who lead her to the kitchen to prepare the evening meal. The order of events must be as follows: open the door, go to the kitchen, prepare the cats’ dinner.  If anything, ANYTHING, is done out of order at this point, the liturgists strongly protest. The next few events during Vespers may transpire as the caretaker wishes, but they must always be followed by her spending some time to adore each cat in turn. On very stressful days, Buddy returns for a second round of adoration, which leads the caretaker to believe he may sometimes confuse his position as liturgist with that of the One who is alone to be worshiped.

Then when Bear decides the day’s liturgy has ended, she leads the way to bed and waits for the caretaker to join after all the chores are finished. And so, gentle reader, Stratford Palace is once again draped in the blessed cloak of sleep (Deo gratias!), at least until Buddy abruptly sounds the call to Matins once again.

'night, Bear

‘night, Bear

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Life Imitates Art

The gentle reader will no doubt be familiar with those commercials in which characters tumble out of a large television screen and into real life, causing massive confusion and disarray of furniture. The caretaker, not owning any of the fancy technological equipment that makes such wonders possible, had never hoped to see any of those shenanigans in her own living room. But leave it to Buddy to find a way. . . .

It all started with a belt that the caretaker removed and draped across the couch arm when she arrived home from work this evening. She had intended to put it in its rightful place, but Bear’s insistence upon an immediate dinner diverted everyone to the kitchen, and after that, the caretaker simply forgot her responsibility to pick up after herself in the cats’ home. What mischief, after all, could an imitation leather belt create? Left to its own devices, it would have slumbered there until the Last Trumpet, or at least until Saturday’s housecleaning frenzy, whichever came first. As it was, the hapless belt lay across the couch arm until the opportune moment. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. A brief flashback is required to set the stage. . . .

After ensuring that the cats had plenty of food, the caretaker had set about preparing her own dinner. She built a fire to chase away the chill and then sat down to enjoy the Christmas present that she received from The Boy and his mum: a DVD of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2. As the caretaker munched on her boring, gravy-less vegetarian dinner and watched events unfold at Hogwarts, the cats napped peacefully. About the time Harry was meeting Dumbledore at King’s Cross, Bear awoke and began to bathe. While Neville Longbottom was delivering his stirring speech about Harry’s not dying in vain, Bear became inspired to hop off the couch and return to the kitchen for second dinner. As soon as Buddy’s ears heard her feet hit the floor, his eyes popped open, and he accompanied her to the plate. After they both devoured a few tasty morsels, Buddy began to follow Bear back into the living room. (The pace at which he was traveling would technically qualify as chasing, but he refuses to allow the caretaker to record his actions as such. Buddy exercises strong censorship when it comes to the telling of his own story, though he doesn’t mind embellishing facts about his opponents until they are unrecognizable. The facts, not the opponents. But we digress.)

About the time Harry and Voldemort were embroiled in their battle of the ancient light sabers, Buddy and Bear were involved in their own battle on the floor near the couch. And then it happened. Their scuffling knocked the belt into the floor, and Buddy turned his energy toward it, allowing Bear to escape and live to fight another day. Although the gentle reader may doubt this next assertion, it is nevertheless true: Buddy’s death match with the faux leather belt coincided exactly with Neville’s heroic move to slice off Nagini’s head. Just as the on-screen snake was exploding into a million cinematic bits, the buckle of the faux Nagini clattered to the floor. Although it did not explode, Buddy can guarantee that the faux Nagini will never torment anyone again, either at Hogwarts or the Seafoam Cottage.

Faux Nagini

Faux Nagini Slain - Film at 11

After the belt’s corpse had been whisked away to hang ignobly in the closet, Buddy found himself with a great deal of nervous energy remaining, so he began tackling one of his toys, a felt block with a bell inside. One day he shall conquer that bell, and it will never toll for anybody again. But tonight it survived, and it served its purpose of helping use up all of Buddy’s energy.

Now that all the excitement has died down, Buddy and Bear are snoozing once again, and the caretaker has turned her attention to a movie called Rango, with a main character who is prone to flights of fancy. It is doubtful that Buddy would enjoy it. After all, it is quite far-fetched to believe that any creature has that much imagination. Movies really ought to be realistic, after all.

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Happy What?

Gentle readers, it should go without saying that the cats have no interest in the boring details of hooman calendars. Cats are attuned to the fact that sunlight comes and goes every day, and there seems to be some pattern in the amount of cold and heat over a period of time, but that is the extent of cats’ concern for time. Cat life consists of naps, food, and perimeter patrol from either the porch or the window, depending upon weather (that is, upon “weather” it is warm enough to sit on the porch). As long as Caturday happens from time to time, who needs calendar pages or names and numbers for days and months? Therefore, the beginning of a new calendar year is of no consequence to Buddy and Bear.

What is of great consequence, however, is that the new year is ushered in by a great deal of noise. The Seafoam Cottage stands in a university neighborhood in which several of the neighbors are students who are inordinately fond of parties and fireworks. Now, a few bottle rockets at midnight might not have been so very bad, but for some reason, the festivities last night began a little after 10:00 pm and continued sporadically until long after midnight. One or two nap interruptions might be forgiven; multiple awakenings are not to be tolerated. By 11:00 pm, Buddy and Bear had heard quite enough, and each disturbance was met by a frownier face than the last. It may be weeks before the furrows in Bear’s brows straighten out.

The only saving grace of the evening of 12/31/11 was the presence of the caretaker. In Buddy’s mind, if the caretaker is at home and awake, it is her responsibiilty to keep the Seafoam Cottage safe. Despite having their naps disturbed multiple times last night, Buddy and Bear were able to drift back into peaceful sleep each time, knowing that nothing would happen to them on the caretaker’s watch. Therefore, the cats are quite content that she is old and tired and seldom invited to parties. The caretaker has found her calling in life. Keeping Buddy and Bear safe from passing trains, storms, and fireworks is a noble purpose.

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Once again the Cottage has fallen into an unusual silence, and the caretaker seems to have run amok. She has blamed her recent erratic behavior on something that she calls “Krismus.” The cats were able to ascertain the correct spelling of this term, and although their research tells them that Christmas is a very special time of year, they are none too certain they approve. The gentle reader will no doubt agree after hearing their account of the past few days.

Thursday evening, the caretaker scurried about the house pulling out bags and colored paper and rolls of sticky stuff and items that she called “gifs,” which was confusing because the cats saw no connection between her pathetic behavior and the majesty of a Graphic Interchange Format file. Needing a closer look at all this paraphernalia, Buddy jumped into the middle of the caretaker’s work area and began his usual scientific inquiries. His investigation was stopped short, however, when the caretaker picked up all the colorful items and put them away in a closet. She obviously has no head for academic pursuits.
Buddy Crashes the Wrapping Party

Buddy Crashes the Wrapping Party

But that was only the beginning of the cats’ frustration. Friday night the caretaker hurried home from work, quickly filled their dinner dish, and then hurried away again with the pretty bags and box that Buddy had tried to inspect for her just the night before. Unfortunately, his inquiries are thwarted forever because she returned without any of those items, but with an entirely different collection of colorful things. Apparently she became confused and picked up the wrong baggage. However, one of the items she brought back seems remarkably at home in the Seafoam Cottage, for it looks all the world like a portrait of Buddy, and he could not resist examining it. He was especially pleased when told that The Boy had painted it. The Boy always did have excellent taste in objets d’art. So even if it was brought home by mistake, Buddy intends to keep it. But don’t tell anyone.

Double Trouble

Double Trouble

Then Saturday, just as it was time to get serious about settling in for the night, the caretaker wandered off into the cold again. The cats were baffled that she seemed excited about her impending journey. She was babbling something about going to “cherch” to “sing phrases” with her friends and family. Bear wondered why no one would be allowed to sing entire sentences, but she dared not ask, for she did not want to hear the singing of words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs while she was settling down for a long winter’s nap. Speaking of which, the caretaker returned very late and disturbed the cats’ rest. At this point, they were certain all her wandering would cease, but even after they were kind enough to let her sleep until 6 a.m. today, she had the audacity to wander off AGAIN to sing some more. The only comfort that Bear could take from such inconvenience was that the singing was to be done off premises.

But apparently all the singing is over for a while. The caretaker finally returned this afternoon, and conditions improved dramatically. First, the weather was mild enough for Buddy to spend some coveted time on the porch. Second, the caretaker sat still long enough for Bear to spent some snuggle time in her lap. And third, O glorious third, was the special treat that the caretaker dished out: tuna in a special sauce (For the uninitiated, “sauce” is a refined word for “gravy.”) When the caretaker explained that she saved such delicacies for special occasions, the cats made their peace with Christmas. Perhaps it was not so bad after all.

And so they would wish you one and all a Meowy Christmas! But no singing, please.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

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The gentle reader will forgive these past few days of silence from the Seafoam Cottage, but the caretaker’s duties of posting for the cats is impossible when the connection to Internet service has been severed by a naughty fallen limb. This tragedy occurred sometime during the night last Thursday, and this very morning from 8 to 11 was the earliest customer service appointment time to be had. Spending four long days with a caretaker who has no access to Google, Facebook, cable television, or blogging capabilities has left the cats out of sorts, but not for the reasons you might imagine. Having no Facebook page of their own to update or any desire to watch Criminal Mimes, they have not directly missed these amenities. They have indirectly missed them, however, because of what the caretaker employed to replace them. Sunday night and Monday evening she watched Jane Austen movies on something called dee-vee-dee, which is apparently a shortened way to say “dreadfully vexing diversion.” Buddy was surprisingly sanguine through the whole ordeal, amusing himself with bag ties and stray papers, but Bear’s naps were interrupted multiple times, and for such an offence there is no forgiveness.

Beware the Bear Stare

Beware the Bear Stare

For the most part, Bear was able to ignore the inane babblings of characters with names like Lizzy (or was it Lizard?), Jane, and Mr. Darcy, but one character’s annoying voice was simply not to be borne. Whenever Mrs. Bennet spoke, and especially when she was excited or upset (which was, unfortunately, 89% of the time), Bear stared at the television with a huge, fine, murderous, and all-consuming hatred. In all the history of hateful looks, none can equal the Bear Stare. By comparison, the looks that passed between the Hatfields and McCoys were mere flirtations. Capulets and Montagues? Even their daggers were not this sharp. Bear’s icy stare froze all the air around it and seemed so deadly that the caretaker was half afraid that the poor woman who played the part of Mrs. Bennet would be suddenly taken ill, a full sixteen years after delivering her hysterical (and not in the funny way) performance.

However, upon the return of Internet service, the caretaker was able to ascertain that all is (God be praised) apparently well with the actress. Nonetheless, the caretaker does not intend to replay the miniseries anytime soon, for though she is not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, she knows not to underestimate the cats.  No doubt Bear will soon understand that her anger should be turned not toward the screaming woman on the screen but instead to the simple-minded woman who holds the remote control. And then, pray tell, who would feed the cats?

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By way of introduction, this post is the second in a new series on the great detectives as portrayed by Buddy and Bear. After reading the post identifying Buddy with Sherlock Holmes, Bear became quite agitated (well, she lifted her head, which in her case is the equivalent) and then insisted that she be given her own detective story. She even found some crimes to solve. But let’s not give away the end before the beginning. Gentle readers, Seafoam Cottage Productions brings you “The Crumpled Rug Caper,” featuring that famous detective Sam(antha) Spayed. We also offer our sincerest apologies to Dashiell Hammett, Humphrey Bogart, and Maltese Falcons everywhere.

Cast of Characters:

Sam Spayed, played by Bear
Wilmer Cook, played by Buddy
The caretaker, played by the caretaker (because she has no imagination)


Night fell early on the Seafoam Cottage, and nobody was prepared for the consequences. Not the caretaker, who had hurried home from work in hopes of getting Wilmer out of the house for a while. Not Wilmer, who was as restless as a squirrel in a walnut tree and was ready to spend some time on the porch spying on the neighbor cats. Not even Sam Spayed, whose dinner bowl was easier to locate in the daylight hours. When the caretaker finally unlocked the front door, Wilmer rushed outside and was met by a disappointing blast of cool air. Even worse, he saw that the porch was lit dimly by the fading shafts of sunlight.

It was not going to be a good evening.

Braving the darkening chill, Wilmer made a few half-hearted turns around the porch and then dashed back inside to see what the caretaker was serving for dinner. Just before bounding into the kitchen, he remembered that it was a crime scene and he was the perpetrator. By this time Sam was drawing a chalk line around a pile of partly chewed food that had been swallowed briefly and then brought back up. Sam was explaining to the caretaker that the hideous remains were the result of one of Wilmer’s infamous “scarf and barf” capers. Seeing his crime had been discovered, Wilmer stopped short and slinked back out onto the porch, hoping to remain unnoticed. Maybe he could deny the accusation and pin this misdeed on Sam. After all, the caretaker had not witnessed the crime. With two creatures in the house, there would always be reasonable doubt as to which of them was the criminal, and the caretaker would have to honor the letter of the law. One thing Sam has noticed is that bad guys generally expect everyone else to behave better than they do.

But Wilmer shouldn’t have worried about shifting blame to Sam. The caretaker’s only goal was to clean up the mess; she wasn’t angry at all. As she went to the cabinet to get the wipes, she had to listen to Sam recount every detail of the crime. (To spare our gentle readers, the particulars will be omitted here.) Soon they both began to hear an awful commotion in the other room. In fact, it was so clamorous that it seemed to be coming from all the other rooms and possibly a closet or two. The insistent cry that emanated from Wilmer’s throat was somewhere between a howl, a moan, and the cry of a demented banshee. He wanted the sun to come back to make the porch bright and warm. And he wanted the caretaker to make this happen immediately. But all she wanted to do was clean up messes. It was infuriating. This denial of his desire was too much for the nervous culprit, so he responded in the only way he could: he committed another crime.

Once the kitchen floor was clean again, the caretaker headed for the bathroom to wash her hands. Even before she entered the door, she saw the evidence of the crime, along with Detective Spayed, who was already on the scene. Sam was standing in the middle of the bathroom rug, which was in a terrible state of disarray. And she was telling the story of how Wilmer’s angry yowling had concluded with a violent attack on the rug, with Wilmer lying on his side pulling the edge of the rug with his front paws and kicking it with his back paws.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

The caretaker had no reason to doubt Sam’s story; she had seen this behavior in Wilmer before. Sam was beside herself with glee. Surely the caretaker would banish this fiend once and for all. Wilmer tried to shut Sam up: “Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking rug out of your liver.” But Wilmer’s amended movie quotes don’t always have the planned effect. Sam just blinked her eyes and kept singing like a canary. That rug had provided a warm place for her to nap during the morning routine; in a way it was her partner, and when a cat’s partner is killed, she’s supposed to do something about it. (Come to think of it, Sam’s movie quotes are not much better than Wilmer’s.)

I rest my case

I rest my case

Seeming to ignore Sam’s advice, the caretaker headed back to the kitchen and prepared a plate of chicken swimming in gravy. Sam’s next thought was, “The condemed man ate a hearty meal,” so her glee factor increased exponentially. In fact, to hasten Wilmer’s punishment, Sam joined him at the plate; the sooner the food was gone, the sooner the criminal could be brought to justice.

But justice is a fickle princess (whatever that means), and instead of punishment, Wilmer was allowed to sit beside the caretaker and have his ears scratched. Disgusted, but ready for a nap, Sam joined them on the couch. As Wilmer fell asleep, Sam realized that it might be best to keep him around after all, now that winter was closing in. Having plenty of warm fuzzies to snuggle with on cold January nights is the stuff that dreams are made of. Literally.

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