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Archive for the ‘Nighttime’ Category

Buddy’s imagination has recently been captured by a television show called The West Wing, specifically with the office of President of the United States. As a result, he now wants to assume the title “Mr. President.” Immediately upon making this announcement, his presidential hackles were raised by the caretaker’s tiresome political ramblings. Unwilling to think outside the box, she stated that nations with kings do not generally have presidents and that he would therefore have to choose between the titles.  Buddy has informed her that he shall be king AND emperor AND president AND prime minister AND grand poobah AND whatever else he jolly well declares himself to be. What she does not understand is that true leadership knows no political bounds. He is sensible enough to realize that he cannot be president of the entire world or even of the United States, as he requires entirely too much nap time to attend to every crisis or even to attend every state function. But he can and shall hold the office within his own demesne.

What is interesting is that Stratford Palace does not require retrofitting to transform itself into presidential headquarters. His room is on the west side of the house, so it is already the West Wing of Stratford Palace. Within that wing is the famous throne, which happens to be the correct shape to serve as the Oval Office.  As a bonus, it already has its own Cabinet (pictured below).

President Buddy, just outside the Oval Office

President Buddy, just outside the Oval Office

 

To the east of the West Wing is the Situation Room (or as the caretaker continues to call it, the living room). Recently a crisis situation arose when Buddy thought he saw a squirrel sneaking across the border at 4 am. He called an emergency meeting, and although his Chief of Staff managed to drag herself out of bed and into the Situation Room, she promptly fell back to sleep in her chair. Fortunately, the threat was averted when the squirrel flitted away after retrieving the pecan he had buried in the Rose Garden. President Buddy considered taking Stratford to a new DEFCON level, but he couldn’t remember whether the big numbers are good or bad, and since nothing would be worse in Buddy’s mind than downplaying a crisis, he didn’t want to move it in the wrong direction. And don’t get him started on the color system.

Of course, every president needs a Press Secretary, and the caretaker has been selected for that job as well. However, the infrequency of her posts to this blog (not to mention her failure to promote him on every media site, social or otherwise) indicates that she is woefully inefficient if not criminally negligent. He would replace her, but she still manages to be useful from time to time, and she is the only one at the Palace who knows how to publicize his agenda on WordPress or post his photos on Instagram. He will also concede that she oversees state dinners which include ample portions of tuna and other delights.

There is one important service that the caretaker has respectfully declined. She refuses to stand up and hum “Hail to the Chief” every time President Buddy Butterbean enters the room. The only concession she has been willing to make is to select the theme song to The West Wing as her ringtone. Stratford’s president will have to content himself with that.

And tuna.

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At the end of our previous post, Buddy and Bear were sleeping serenely on the throne of Stratford Palace and life was looking very sweet. For the most part, the cats have adjusted well to their new home and are finding many advantages to the palace, as compared to the Seafoam Cottage. For one thing, they now have their own room and do not have to share quarters with a mere hooman. For another, there are no floor dragons (Bear is particularly happy about this improvement). The palace has many more Cat TVs than the cottage, and they are all very large. One of them is double-wide and reaches almost to the floor. It is the best of all, for it allows them to lurk behind the couch to spy on the neighborhood cats, and then jump out to frighten the caretaker at a moment’s notice.

But the most important feature of a house is missing, for alas, the palace has no screamed-in porch. Buddy is still trying to deal with this tragedy, and he is not bearing up manfully. He spends a substantial chunk of most evenings running from the front door to the back, bellowing out many a mournful “Marrooou”  as if to announce that the screaming WILL occur, with or without a porch. From time to time he scratches on the glass of the storm door in a valiant attempt to dig himself free.

So you may imagine his surprise, gentle reader, when upon the caretaker’s return one fine evening, Buddy bounded to the door to scratch the glass, only to discover that there was no glass! The very tall man who painted the door had removed the glass while the paint dried, and the caretaker did not even notice. But nothing escapes the Houdini of the cat world (except himself, of course).

It was as fine a “Harry Potter moment” as Buddy could have ever imagined. He had always wanted the glass to disappear, and now he had apparently willed it away. Without this barrier he was able to squeeze through the metal bars and escape. He would, he MUST, find the screamed-in porch! By the time the caretaker discovered the prison break, Buddy had found the carport and was sizing up its potential as a porch substitute (It failed, as it has only three walls).  The caretaker shut Bear up in the hallway so that there would not be TWO fugitives, and set out to hunt the wild beast that Buddy had now become. Attempting to lure him with a box of food, she lunged to catch him, only to have him dart away, leaving her to fall forward and scrape both hands on the rough concrete.

Recovering as quickly as possible, she resumed the hunt and briefly spied Buddy under the azalea bush, looking very confused at not being able to find the edge of this porch. Even if she had not seen him, she would soon have heard his multiple mournful cries that were even worse than “Marrooou.” There was no point in rushing him now, as he had taken cover in the thick shrubbery and was no longer visible. The only glimmer of hope was that freedom did not seem to be making him as happy as he had thought it would. And so begins a period of great lunacy, as the caretaker walked up and down the sidewalk, scouring the landscape for signs of a four-legged black-and-white monarch. And as she walked, she called his names.

“Buddy”
“Merlin”
“Butters”
“Murray Pipkin”
“Butter Bean”
“Merles”

There were probably more, but the gentle reader must be spared any further mental abuse. (With apologies to T.S. Eliot, the naming of cats is a very silly activity when left in the hands of the caretaker.)

After ten minutes of this fruitless exercise, the caretaker went back inside. What to do?!? She could not imagine spending the night in comfort with Buddy left outside to face the elements, but there did not seem to be much choice. And then the miracle occurred. Apparently Buddy was ready to end his greatest adventure, but he needed this event to resemble his previous concept of normal. So he treated the event like any other evening on the porch. When the caretaker came back to the door to look for him one more time, he emerged from the shrubbery and began walking toward the door. Holding her breath, the caretaker slowly went to the cabinet, pulled out the bag of treats, and returned to the door. By that time, Buddy was on the landing, so she did what she had always done when it was time for him to come in from the screamed-in porch: she shook the bag of treats and tenderly said, “It’s time to come in now, Buddy. We have to lock out all the bad things except for one.” Though he could have squeezed back in through the bars, the caretaker swung the door open wide, poured out the treats, and quickly shut the solid wooden door.

With the perimeter secured, the caretaker ended Bear’s confinement. The inconvenienced cat hissed her disapproval at Buddy and then shoved him away from the bowl of treats. The new normal is beginning to look strangely like the old one.

It just needs a porch.

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Intruder Alert!

In the cats’ entire history at the Seafoam Cottage there has never been a darker day than this one. It seemed so normal at first. Buddy woke up the can opener who calls herself a caretaker and nagged her until she served breakfast. Then he ate breakfast and managed to walk across the caretaker’s path multiple times as she scurried about the house getting ready for work. The “to-do” checklist was complete.

But then a large white van drove up and stopped in front of the Cottage. The cats were not alarmed when the caretaker wandered outside to speak to the Strange Loud Man as he got out of the truck. The cats were only slightly alarmed when the Strange Loud Man approached the porch with the caretaker.

But then they came inside. Buddy took one look at the Man and ran into the bathroom. And then when the Strange Loud Man began walking around, Buddy had a full-on meltdown and disappeared under the bed. He began searching his memory banks for anything the caretaker might have said over the past few days that would indicate his world was ending today. She talks so much that he doesn’t really process most of the information, but he did seem to remember her saying something about a “Knee-lecktrishon.” He had, of course, ignored her as he thought it was one of her many arthritic complaints. Now he knows it means “a Strange Man who walks in and out of your house making loud noises, tearing up walls, and upsetting the cat.”

The astute reader will have noticed that the word “cat” is singular in Buddy’s inner musings. There are two reasons for that. First, Buddy really does not care how any phenomenon might affect Bear. Second, Bear is rarely afraid of visitors, so she ignored the Strange Loud Man. Unless he was there to steal the food bowl, she had no reason to impede him in pursuit of his purpose. When the caretaker left for work, Buddy was shuddering under the bed and Bear was napping on the couch in plain view. However, the day brought a few changes. To be precise, here is what the caretaker found upon entering the Seafoam Cottage at the end of her workday:

  1. The electrician, who was finishing up his work but took time to explain what he had done (he even cleaned up after himself!)
  2. Buddy, who was still shuddering under the bed (one can only hope he ventured out for necessities during the day)
  3. Bear, who was lounging on a blanket at the foot of the bed (lording it over Buddy and looking thoroughly annoyed at being awakened AGAIN)

So if the day had to be summed up in two catch phrases, one for each cat, they would be as follows:

Buddy: “Danger, Will Robinson!”

Bear: “Silence, peasant!”

But hope is resilient, and the dreadfulness of the day has been eclipsed by a happy ending. The electrical problem is now repaired, so the caretaker can finally use the outlets in the living room again. The evening has closed with Bear snoring in the caretaker’s lap, Buddy sleeping serenely on a pillow nearby, and a cheerful fire blazing in the fireplace.

A grand goodnight to all!

'nite, Bear

'nite, Bear

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Early Morning Blues

As some of you may know, the caretaker sometimes fancies herself a poet, simply because she knows a few words that rhyme and can write lines short enough to resemble actual poetry. She also enjoys singing, so given the second law of thermodynamics it was only a matter of time before she began to delve into the realm of song writing. Entropy is a terrible thing.

This morning, for reasons that will become obvious upon further reading, she began composing a blues song (her first). She has insisted upon including it here, but the cats request that you please do not applaud or sing along, for that will only encourage her, and as our gentle readers know by now, Bear despises singing.

So without further ado (in other words, let’s get this over with), here is the caretaker’s contribution to the blues genre. You may imagine it sung to a tune something like “Bad to the Bone,” again, for obvious reasons.

Early Morning Blues

Woke up this mornin’
At about half past three.
Tried to figure out what
Was happening to me.

One minute I lay sleepin’
And the next I’m wide awake.
Don’t know just how much more
Excitement I can take

‘Cause there’s a cat nose in my eye,
A cat paw on my chin.
Buddy’s hungry; he’s sayin’ “Feed me!”
I feel four cat toes on my arm,
And cat claws diggin’ in.
This is quite painful; I think I’m bleedin’.
He gives me the terribly frustratin’,
Much too early in the mornin’ blues.

I tried to just turn over
And ignore this crazy cat.
That’s when he started howlin’
So I figured that was that.

I stumbled to the kitchen.
Found a can of smelly fish.
Buddy took one little nibble;
Then he turned and left his dish.

I guess he really wanted chicken,
But how was I to know?
When Buddy’s hungry, I just hear, “FEED ME!”
When there are cat toes on my arm
And cat claws diggin’ in,
It is quite painful; I don’t like bleedin’.
So I’ve got the terribly frustratin’,
Much too early in the mornin’ blues.

I said, the terribly frustratin’,
Waked up by a hungry kitty blues!

Oh, yeah!!!!!

*insert dramatic guitar riff*

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Lest our gentle readers jump to conclusions and begin to grieve prematurely, we will hasten to say that all of the residents and friends of the Seafoam Cottage are alive and well, and despite the bad economic conditions that exist throughout the world there is an ample supply of gravied food, crunchy snacks, and fresh water. The screamed-in porch, however, has been rendered useless by the onset of fall weather. Yesterday a cold rain blew in, dampening both the outdoor furniture and Buddy’s spirits. He has plummeted into a deep depression, as he is now forced to rule the world from the windows. And occasionally when he finds a bit of resistance in his heart, he tries to escape through them.

It is Buddy’s theory that even though the porch may now be uninhabitable, if he exits the house in some way other than the front door, he will find a world in which the weather is warm, the squirrels and birds are plenteous, and Mr. Shorty is confined to a cage while he and Bear roam the idyllic countryside. (The caretaker sincerely regrets allowing him to watch The Chronicles of Narnia.) As a result of this conviction, he spent a fair percentage of last night trying to scale the height of the window just above where the caretaker was attempting to sleep. Not coincidentally, the oddly dull clinking of a cat’s claws against glass has become the caretaker’s least favorite sound. Though she knew her efforts would be futile, she sternly said “NO” more than once as he tried various means of escape. During those few minutes when the top of her sleepy head lay in the direct path of Buddy’s swishing tail, there were a few utterances of “Buddy, really!?!?!?!” But most of her pleas were ignored, except for that one particularly stern “NO” that was answered with a very short, sharp shout of “MRU” that sounded very much like a cross between a sneeze and a yell, with exactly the same tone that emanates from a teenager who has been told he is grounded.

So the next four months at the Seafoam Cottage may prove to be difficult for all concerned unless Buddy learns to be content with the state in which he finds himself. Thankfully, Bear can be counted upon for constancy. Cold or heat, rain or shine, wind or calm, Bear’s response to every situation is to eat heartily and then sleep snoringly. At present, she is curled up on a blissfully fuzzy blanket, her neck leaning against the caretaker’s arm. By some miracle her good example has drawn Buddy into a peaceful rest. He is lying perpendicular to her, and her right cheek is pressed against his right cheek. A photo would have been provided, but that would have required turning on the light, which would end the moment of peace. And after the night the caretaker has had, she is willing to maintain peace at any price.

Too bad Buddy couldn’t manage to get a wee bit of rest before the caretaker had to start getting ready for work. This definitely feels like an extra coffee day, and not just because it’s cold outside.

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The relationship between Buddy and Bear is what some might call “stormy” or “tempestuous.” The caretaker prefers to call it “blasted annoying.” The gentle reader should not be fooled by the charming snuggle-moment captured in the header photo. While such Hallmark scenes occasionally do grace the Seafoam Cottage, there are just as many wars and rumors of wars, all of which tear at the fabric of the family’s happiness and sometimes even rip the upholstery.

For obvious reasons, the most exasperating time for such wars is the middle of the night, when the caretaker’s only desire is to be slumbering soundly. If Buddy has had plenty of porch time during the evening hours, he is usually tired enough to sleep until morning. But if he has been denied the opportunity to expend his energy hating all that he sees outside his domain, he has no choice but to use up his excess animosity on Bear, who receives very little warning to flee the wrath to come. Last night was one of those times when Buddy suddenly decided that Bear is evil and must be destroyed. Never mind the fact that Bear was doing nothing but enjoying a good nap; Buddy was quite sure she needed a good trouncing.

At bedtime there had been a vague hint that all was not well between the cats, but when a truce was reached, the caretaker drifted off into dreamless sleep, blissfully ignorant of the plans that were forming in the twisted mind of Buddy, Master Thespian. But forsooth, at roughly 2:17 a.m. (very roughly) Buddy decided it was time for him to don the costume of Henry V and for Bear to be the unvictorious Dauphin. With all the best roles in the battle scene taken, the caretaker was relegated to serving as scenery. Without her consent (for it would not have been given), she was suddenly transformed into the Field of Agincourt. Until that very moment, the caretaker had spent no time considering the feelings and emotions of stage settings, but as the battle raged across her midsection and then thundered down her left leg, she began to think herself accurs’d that she WAS there and to sympathize with the Globe and all its counterparts.

As much as the caretaker enjoys all things having to do with Shakespeare, it was never her desire to speak the line “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day” and to mean it almost literally. Who knew that poetry could be so dangerous? So forget the Ides of March. It’s October 25 that should be avoided, as well as any day when Buddy has not had enough exercise. And possibly Wednesdays.

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Physics 101.5

In the caretaker’s musings about the many differences between the two felines who inhabit her house, she has noticed one major difference between Buddy and Bear: Buddy is Mr. Independence, usually preferring solitude in the spare room, the kitchen, or on the screamed-in porch, and sometimes resenting the presence of others in his personal space. (Of course, he presents himself to the caretaker at least once a day to be scratched, sung to, and adored, but for the most part, he is a separate being.)

Blogger's Helper

Blogger's Helper

Bear, on the other hand, is as insecure as Blanche DuBois, and generally remains so close that she would qualify as the caretaker’s fifth limb. She is glued to the caretaker’s side on the couch during the writing of blog entries and other less important work, and she follows the caretaker wherever she roams in the house. It is not certain whether Bear believes herself to be incomplete without the presence of another or merely considers the caretaker incapable of functioning on her own; either way, she is as relentless as a paparazza, just without a camera (which technically makes her a stalker).
Lately, Bear has not considered it sufficient just to be near the caretaker and has resorted to impersonating a fashion accessory. Several mornings recently the caretaker has been awakened by an oppressive feeling in the throat, only to find herself wearing a fur boa that is perfectly Bear-shaped, quietly breathing, and excessively warm (roughly 101.5 °F, if the Internet is accurate). Although such a lovely accessory would be more than welcome during the freezing blasts of February, it is not as much appreciated in the triple-digit heat of a Memphis summer. This morning the caretaker awoke with a heavy feeling in/on her left arm, courtesy of the Bear-shaped fur sleeve that had descended upon it during the wee hours of the morning. These events have escalated since the infamous Vetz-offis excursions, so perhaps Bear will soon become secure enough not to require such pathological closeness.

It is a great mercy that Buddy does not need the caretaker’s attention most nights and that when he does, Bear is annoyed by his presence and finds somewhere else to sleep. With two cats, each at 101.5°F, a caretaker at 98.6°F, and an ambient temperature of 78°F, the caretaker theorizes that the space might reach 379.6°F. Toss in a turkey for three hours, and the Seafoam Cottage could celebrate Thanksgiving dinner in August.

Of course, the caretaker acknowledges that her maths may be a bit wonky in this matter, as she is only a female (and an English and theology major to boot), but she still insists that waking up with a 13.6 pound cat curled around her neck is akin to sleeping in an oven. Try it, gentle reader, and you will not be so quick to discount her hypothesis. The wonkiness of the maths will be outweighed by the oppressiveness of the cats. Every. Single. Time.

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