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Random Scenes

The caretaker has recently been so involved with non-feline projects that she has had no time to record events at Stratford Palace. Until life gets a little less hectic, our gentle readers must content themselves with a few random scenes from the past couple of weeks. They are presented in no particular order, since the caretaker has also been too scatterbrained to keep up with chronology.

Scene the first: Buddy Meets Ellie

Buddy has hopped onto the table to examine the various items thereon. To his great delight, he finds a small stuffed elephant that the caretaker has purchased for her short grandson (the tall one has outgrown plush toys). Ellie has exceptionally soft fur, so Buddy cannot resist becoming better acquainted with her. The caretaker enters the room in time to see him rubbing his face all over hers. He then flips over on his side and hugs her.

Caretaker: Get a room!

Buddy: *Hug*

Buddy and Ellie

Buddy and Ellie

Scene the second: Buddy Plays Chimera

Buddy has hopped onto the table to examine the various items thereon. Having finished his inspection, he lowers his head and glares ominously into the kitchen where the caretaker is preparing her breakfast. She catches a glimpse of him and draws in her breath sharply.

Caretaker: My goodness, Buddy. Aren’t we looking particularly gargoylish this morning!

Buddy: *Glare*

Scene the third: Buddy Defends the World (again)

Buddy has hopped onto the back of the chair in which the caretaker is resting. He suddenly notices that the caretaker’s head is an evil monster that must be defeated. He therefore flops onto his side and begins wildly kicking her in the back of the head. 

Caretaker: “Hey, that hurts! Can you please stop it?”

Buddy: *Kick. Kick kick. Kick*

Scene the fourth: Buddy Gets Underfoot

Buddy is sitting in the doorway monitoring the front yard for suspicious activity. When he notices that the caretaker, who is standing near the table, has begun folding clothes, he draws near to guard her from the evil laundry monster. She takes one step back and bumps into him, nearly falling. Buddy dramatically scurries out of the room screaming bloody murder.

Caretaker: Buddy, are you okay? I didn’t even see you there.

Buddy: MAROUW! MAROUW! MAROUW! MAROUW!

Caretaker: Oh, knock it off. I didn’t hurt you.

Buddy: MAROUW! MAROUW! MAROUW! MAROUW!

And for the rest of the evening, whenever the caretaker walked from room to room, she moved very slowly.

Caretaker: Okay, Buddy. I’m going to my room now. I’ll just walk past you slowly on this side of the hallway. I can see you’re there, and I won’t step on you this time.

Buddy: *Glares at the caretaker’s feet* Marouw!

The End
For Now

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Presenting a story which has some ups and downs but which ends well.

Chapter 1: Woe is She
Venomous Vet

That fateful Saturday started out perfectly, with a hearty breakfast and a post-meal nap. For a little while the house was delightfully peaceful: Buddy was gone. The caretaker had snatched him off his throne while he was sleeping, deposited him in the Big Gray Box (BGB) before he could finish his vehement protest, and walked out the door trying desperately to maintain a firm hold on BGB. Bear had no idea where they went; she simply knew that Buddy was not eating her food, drinking her water, or taking over her favorite napping spot. Even better, he wasn’t lying in wait to pounce on her. There was no felicity in the world superior to this. These were perfect dozing conditions.

And then it happened. Bear’s nap was cut short by the sound of the front door opening again, and she looked up in time to see the caretaker bringing back a Buddy-filled BGB. When its door opened, Buddy came charging out like a speared rhinoceros. But that was only the beginning of Bear’s calamity. The caretaker’s next move was to shove Bear’s furry frame into the BGB, latch the cage door securely, and walk out the front door. After an interminable 10-minute car ride, Bear was sitting on a cold metal table being prodded, pilfered, plundered, pillaged, and poked while the caretaker watched, offering no help whatsoever. Another visit to the metal table two days later had the caretaker taking part in the poking ceremony, which was to be repeated every morning and every night for several months.

But the quick jab of an insulin needle twice daily was of little consequence when compared to the major dietary changes that would now be imposed:

  • No more gravy (inconceivable!)
  • No more meat-flavored cornmeal-laden bits that crunched like bones (impossible!)
  • No more tasty treats (unconscionable!)
  • No corn flakes or wheat biscuits (actually, not a problem at all)

Life as Bear knew it was over. But she wasn’t going out alone. Since there was little chance of keeping them on a separate diet, she would be taking Buddy down with her. There was, at least, some small comfort in that.

Chapter 2: Woe is He
Grains Have Left the Building

Buddy’s visit to the vet had been fairly normal, which is to say he flipped out during the car ride and banged his nose against the cage door, tried to escape when being weighed, fidgeted during the physical exam, barely noticed the rabies shot because he was so distracted by the contents of the vet’s pocket, and violently objected to being returned to the confines of BGB. So when he returned home and switched places with Bear, he relished the hour of solitude in his own personal man-cave. Having shaken off the dust from his recent outing, he convinced himself that all his troubles were over.

Whereas, forthwith, to wit, his troubles were only beginning for his well-known hatred of all healthy food would now be strained to its very limits.

When the caretaker returned with Bear, she brought a cardboard box filled with canned food. That could have been such a monumental event, but this was Special Food for cats who are either afflicted with “the diabetus” already or who just need to lose a bit of weight—say, for example, if a certain white and black cat weighed 14 pounds and should really weigh 12 pounds, according to the vet.

At the next meal time the caretaker opened one of the cans to reveal a substance that was both meaty and smelly, two of the cats’ favorite food descriptions. She then scooped out a little of brown mush onto two plates, set the plates on the floor, and both cats cautiously licked the surface of it a couple of times, as though sampling the most expensive beluga in the world.

Then they each chowed down.

Then Buddy threw up.

Thankfully, the caretaker had already formulated Plan B.

Chapter 3: Woe is We
Gravy, We Hardly Knew Ye

So we come to the concluding chapter in our saga of revenge, illness, diet, suffering, and barf. The loss of gravy was eventually borne with amazing alacrity, but not until the caretaker located a type of healthy food that Buddy could tolerate and that would also alleviate Bear’s condition. The caretaker has learned to administer insulin shots so well that Bear rarely squirms or flinches now. And in the past few months, Bear has gone for regular check-ups that usually end with the caretaker being told to reduce the insulin dosage.

Best of all, the caretaker located a grain-free dry food that crunches well enough to satisfy even the bone-hungriest cat. Bear has regained her shiny coat, her bright eyes, and a guarded sense of playfulness. In fact, only tonight when the caretaker was walking down the hallway holding a sweater fresh out of the washing machine, Bear began to pretend that it was the Great Cardigan of Doom. She jumped from her spot in the hallway and ran aimlessly into the bedroom before darting out again to face the dreaded beast head on. Happily, both of them survived the encounter, as did the caretaker.

And so, gentle readers, even if we have come to the ending of all things, we are still pleased to report that the denizens of Stratford Palace are doing fine.

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With apologies to Rudyard Kipling. Come to think of it, to everyone else, really.

You may talk of fish and fowl;
You may even serve up owl
When breakfast is prepared within your house.
But when the evening falls
Bringing darkness to your halls,
That’s when nothing will suffice but Blue Felt Mouse.

Then it’s mouse, mouse, mouse—
You’d better say your prayers now Mousie Blue
‘Cause when Buddy gets the scent
You will wonder where he went,
And you’ll turn to find he’s chasing after you.

Now in morning’s coldest hours
When the bravest of us cowers
Buddy roams restlessly about.
He bounds from room to room
Wreaking havoc, fear, and doom
On creatures that he spies inside and out.

At each window he stands guard
Searching long and searching hard
For perils that would come invade his house.
But when boredom settles in
He turns all his thoughts within
And seeks to pick a fight with Blue Felt Mouse.

When it’s spied behind the door,
Buddy gives his fiercest roar
And reaches to retrieve the miscreant.
Then he tosses it around
With a leap and with a bound.
Soon it throws him to the floor and makes him pant.

It’s a din, din, din—
The caretaker is wakened by the din.
She runs to the bedroom door,
Turns her eyes down to the floor,
In time to witness Buddy get the win.

With no choice but to succumb
To Buddy’s bellicose aplomb
The Blue Felt Mouse lies lifeless from the fray.
Now sleep is murdered too,
But that is nothing new,
For Buddy wakes the whole house every day.

But when order’s been restored
By the strength of Buddy’s sword,
The champion collects his precious spoils.
Then he lays his burden down
In a box that he has found
And rests himself from all his grueling toils.

Now our king, king, king—
Buddy the king has conquered all.
So until the next alert
Or a crisis to avert,
He’ll stand guard until it’s time to start a brawl.

To the Victor Go the Spoils

To the Victor Go the Spoils

 

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It is time we lifted the veil on a closely held secret that is eerily similar to the fictional secret “revealed” in Men in Black. In that classic film, Lt. Gerard told the Fresh Prince of Bel Air that although Earth lives under constant threat from alien invaders (one of whom is Monk), nothing bad ever happens, thanks to an elite band of heroes wearing boring suits, white shirts, and Ray-Bans. They then went to work saving the world from a metamorphosed Bobby Goren, whom the cats had always thought was one of the good guys. Come to think of it, the movie was very confusing.

Confusion aside, movie-goers left the theater knowing that Earth is under no threat from aliens.

But our secret, gentle readers, is all too real. We all face an eminent danger of immense proportions. But worry not. Buddy is on the job fighting evil. What is that evil, you ask?

Packaging. Any form of packaging. You thought it was there to protect your purchases. It has actually swallowed up your merchandise while waiting to attack you in the middle of the night. Are you scared yet?

Sometimes it’s the tape on boxes. Sometimes it’s those small plastic grocery bags with handles. Today it was the seemingly harmless white tissue from a gift bag. The caretaker brought in a bag and set it on the table, then went to change clothes. While thus occupied, she heard a kerfuffle in the dining room. Apparently the tissue had attacked our hero and had been wrestled to the floor.

Fighting the Fell Beast

Fighting the Fell Beast

This tooth and nail and tissue battle raged violently for a few minutes, and then upon suspecting that the remaining tissue in the bag was getting ready to attack, Buddy whipped around and unleashed his super power, commonly known as blue laser vision.

Blue Laser Eye: Superpower Superb

Blue Laser Vision: Super Power Superb

At this display of force, order was quickly restored. Due to Buddy’s quick thinking and mad skills, the world is once more safe. The threat averted, he showed his mastery of the defeated tissue by treating it as a pelt and covering his paws with it.

Tissue Master

Tissue Master

Now all he needs is a pair of Ray-Bans and one of those flashy things, and he can consider himself an official employee of MIB. He would love the opportunity to make the caretaker forget some of those things she always nags him about. But he would have to be careful; he certainly wouldn’t want her to forget to buy cat food!

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A few months ago, an announcement was made regarding the addition of palace staff. This arrangement has worked out extremely well for all concerned. Buddy is especially glad to have another source of adoration, and Bear is pleased that an additional can opener is now available. This week, however, the new staff member has added skills to his resume. Upon emptying a rather large box that had contained a shipment of kitchen supplies, he turned the box on its side and set it on the floor so that Buddy could play Cat Fort whenever he wants. With his recovery complete and the return of warmer weather, Buddy has spent many happy hours holding down the fort. And as a side benefit, naps are even better in the safety of a cardboard haven.

Last night when thunderstorms started to rumble, the caretaker lined the box with a comfy blanket so that the fort would be a comfortable refuge for anyone who might be frightened. Buddy insisted that he was not afraid, but he also felt it would be a shame to waste such an inviting bed, so he spent several secluded hours while the storm raged. Then tonight, when storms threatened again, the caretaker decided it was time to produce the fabric mice she had been hiding and use them to distract the jittery king, who jumped a bit higher into the air each time the thunder roared.

The first fabric mouse was received in the hallway and promptly found its way under a closed bedroom door. Buddy immediately flopped onto his side and repeatedly shoved his paws into the crack under the door, but was never able to retrieve the mouse. The second mouse did not get away so quickly. Rather than play with it in the hallway and risk a repeat of his previous tragedy, Buddy brought the mouse out into the living room and set it behind one of the box top flaps. He then proceeded to stalk it with all the gusto of an NRA member hunting a deer. Biding his time and pouncing quickly enabled him to sneak up on it, subdue it, and gather it gently into his mouth. He then approached the box and dropped the mouse on the lid that was serving as the fort’s front door.

Now if anyone in the world has his priorities straight, it is a cat. Naps are all well and good, but when a dainty blanket gets in the way of stalking wild game, something has to give. The blanket was unceremoniously shoved out of the very same box where it had served as a mattress only fifteen minutes earlier.

Fort Cat

Fort raided, mouse held for questioning

The temporary calm captured in the illustration above was shattered soon after the photo was snapped. The box began to shake, rattle, and roll while Buddy and the fabric mouse fought a duel to the imaginary death. To borrow an overused and virtually meaningless media phrase, “details are sketchy” regarding the exact nature of the battle, but thankfully Buddy won the day. He emerged from the box bearing his prize between his teeth, sauntered to the food bowl, and plopped the vanquished foe into the bowl.

Buddy’s motto is “Eat or be eaten.” Bear’s motto is quite similar, but more succinct: “Eat.”

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This past week as the final vestiges of Buddy’s illness have subsided, the caretaker has been on a quest to rid the house of germs. Not the regular, garden variety of germ, of course. That sort is a harmless fact of life. No, her goal has been to vanquish the venomous variety that laid low a mighty king. It is rare for His Majesty to need a champion, but this has been such an occasion.

To that end, surfaces have been slathered with disinfectant, windows have been washed, and the washing machine has worked overtime cleaning blankets, sheets, pillows, throws, bedspreads, curtains, rugs—in sum, anything and everything upon which Buddy might have sneezed. Even the throne has not been exempt from this massive pre-spring cleaning project. Fortunately, the caretaker had purchased a backup throne to use anytime the real one was being spruced up. So by Saturday morning almost everything in the house had been disinfected in one way or another.

The last stronghold was the beloved sock monkey bed, the cleansing of which was a most precarious task, given that its species is extinct, as discovered by the caretaker when she searched the electronic Mirkwood known as the Internet to search for another one. Therefore, much sadness would ensue if anything at all went wrong with the treasured friend.

Anything. At. All.

But why should it? As evidenced by the care tag (which has not been removed, on threat of imprisonment), Sock Monkey is machine washable. And this was certainly not his first dance in sudsy water. The only difference was that this time it would be necessary to ensure that whatever germs might survive the bathwater would die a hideous death in the dryer’s heat. And so the sequence went something like this, with Steps 3 and 4 being essentially simultaneous:

1. Wash.

2. Rinse.

3. Dry.

4. Shrink.

5. Remove from dryer and return to Buddy’s cot.

Mind you, Sock Monkey has many wonderful qualities. He is as whimsical as he ever was. He is cleaner than he has ever been. He is fluffy beyond belief.

But sadly, his inner circumference is no longer large enough to enclose Buddy’s frame comfortably. And gentle readers, do not deceive yourselves into thinking Buddy has no idea who is responsible for his predicament. As soon as his extra-large girth tried to squeeze into the now medium-at-best Sock Monkey, his face fell like a faulty soufflé and he glared at the guilty caretaker. If you doubt his ability to, um, size up the situation, just study his accusatory look:

A Tight Fit

A Tight Fit

Alas, the pristinity of the bed can never make up for its lack of comfort. One wonders if Buddy might have wished for Sock Monkey to have gone the way of the Velveteen Rabbit. Poor Sock. He is the innocent party in all of this. He had no way of knowing that snug isn’t how you are made, that it’s a thing that happens to you in the heat of the clothes dryer.

Let’s hope the nursery magic Fairy shows up soon. Otherwise, the situation will be a bit awkward for a while.

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As a follow-up to the harrowing story of Buddy’s recovery from the clutches of the Dread Disease, it is now necessary to provide a true and faithful account of Bear’s attempt at a coup. Although Buddy had been her boon companion throughout her illness, Bear took his decline as an opportunity to form her own Mean Girl(s) Club and take over the kingdom. She cared not that she was the only member of the club; that made it all the more exclusive. She would be a sorority of one, the lone member of the soprano section, the single Lunch Bunch participant, the sole sister of the Confederacy.

The first thing she did was to commandeer his favorite spot on the back of the couch.

This is MY spot now

This is MY spot now

The caretaker had purchased a delightfully fluffy new afghan and set it out for the feverish king, but Bear decided that it belonged to her, along with the real estate that she normally avoided, due to its inability to sustain her mass. Even though she didn’t fit, she took Buddy’s spot and Buddy’s blanket, while he huddled in the covered cat bed.

Mean Girl Move #1: Complete.

Next, she decided that his labored breathing was a punishable offense, so every time she heard him sneeze or wheeze, she would turn and hiss at him like a demented velociraptor. One time she even looked up from her food bowl long enough to react unfavorably to a sneeze. (Being a Mean Girl takes a great deal of dedication!)

Mean Girl Move #2: Complete.

Perhaps her most subtle Mean Girl move was her reaction to the caretaker’s bringing Buddy back in his carrier after the visit to the vet. From Bear’s satisfied perch on the back of the chair, she awoke as the door opened, looked up at the caretaker with a modicum of interest, and then looked down at the Buddy box. The moment she realized it was not empty, her face dissolved in glowering disgust. She could not have looked more displeased if the caretaker had tried to feed her a bowl of calorie-reduced food.

Mean Girl Move #3: Complete.

But as Buddy’s strength has returned and he has resumed some of his duties, he is impervious to hisses and harsh looks. So the only weapon left in Bear’s arsenal is her roar. As Buddy tries to return his world to its normal chaos, he will occasionally sneak up to Bear and put his nose in her face as if to say, “Are we friends again?” So far, the answer has been a very firm negative (expletives deleted). She always stands her ground, and with ears back, nose crinkled, and teeth bared, she lets loose the scariest noise she can muster, something of a stifled roar-hiss-scream. Looking a little hurt, Buddy backs away and leaves her to drown in grumpiness. He has learned through sad experience not to poke the Bear.

Mean Girl Move #4: Complete.

If any other mean girls decide to join her, she just might let them. But for now, she is doing pretty well on her own.

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