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Archive for the ‘Nobility’ Category

With apologies to William Faulkner,
but only if he first apologizes to the better William.

It has been several months since the caretaker has cataloged events at Stratford Palace. Had there been a proper excuse for this lapse, it would have been inserted here, but there is none, which I suppose in itself is good news. By God’s grace, neither the caretaker nor the cats have endured any illnesses or injuries or calamities that would have prevented blogging. Instead, the caretaker has found many activities to occupy her time, and they have crowded in upon her duty to report on His Majesty and affairs of state. But tonight the caretaker finds herself with a few extra minutes, so she will summarize the events of the last few weeks to elicit a droll smile from both our gentle readers.

Therefore, we commence, but not like Faulkner. We will allow our story to unfold in chronological order because we are not a famous Southern author who learned the hard way that liquor and horseback riding do not mix. But that’s another story….

Part 1: June 13, 2017

Even before this terrible day arrived, the cats were suspicious of the caretaker’s movements. She had spent hours dragging luggage out of closets, rifling through obscure dresser drawers, and arranging small bottles of various liquids into plastic bags. Having seen this sort of behavior before, the cats were increasingly filled with dread. They realized it was only a matter of time before the caretaker disappeared for several days—and nights. But what made this terrible day even worse was the influx of visitors who arrived just before the caretaker’s disappearing act. For two creatures whose third greatest fear is being trodden upon, the cats found that the presence of ten additional lumbering feet in the house was too much to be borne. Mercifully for them, the flurry of activity was soon over, and they were alone.

Utterly, utterly alone.

After several hours of deep silence (and possibly naps), Buddy yawned, looked at his forlorn companion, and said with sad resignation, “Catty, we’re gonna have to fend for ourselves.” As dark descended, so did their spirits. It mattered little that the tall Dan-man arrived every evening to attend to their needs. He was not the caretaker. The caretaker was gone. Utterly, utterly gone.

Until she wasn’t.

Part 2: June 17, 2017

The sun had already shone for many hours, which could only mean that another dark night was closing in like the unruly flaps of an Amazon.com box. When the key turned in the door, the cats barely looked up. It would be the tall Dan-man again to open another can of the wrong food, fill the bowl with inferior water, and stop for a quick head-scratching, and then he’d be gone.

Utterly, utterly gone.

But this time was different. Buddy scarcely believed his golden-green eyes when the door flew open to reveal the caretaker’s tired face. The floodgates were opened and the miaow-ridden complaining began. But it was soon squelched by the feeding and the watering and the scratching and the soothing words and the scooping and the sitting-down-to-make-a-lap.

As soon as the lap was made available, Buddy draped himself over it and commenced a deep purr that lasted longer than seemed possible. His world had been redeemed.

For a few days, anyway.

Part 3: June 26, 2017

As before, this day of parting was preceded by several days of flurrying and scurrying, rumblings and grumblings, and a great deal of document printing, all of which boded ill for the cats. When the suitcase turned up and filled up, Buddy once again looked at his morose companion, this time saying, “Catty, she’ll be gone again soon.”

And she was. A rolling box drove up and carted the caretaker and her luggage far away for many days. A different tall man this time, who brought a bubbly little boy, came to the house daily to brighten the cats’ world, but they were having none of it. They grudgingly drank enough water and ate enough food to stay alive,  but they were too irritated to enjoy themselves.

Then both the best thing and the worst thing happened all at the same time. It was very confusing.

Part 4: July 1, 2017

Although the caretaker had received a cool reception the prior evening, July 1 was her first full day back, and the cats had grudgingly begun to acknowledge her existence. But when the neighbors began their annual completely unnecessary fireworks practice, the cats clung to the caretaker like a couple of wet leaves.

Think of a cat as a creature who has Attachment Disorder alternating with Borderline Personality, and you’ll understand completely what these last few days at Stratford Palace have looked like. Hours of aloof behavior that conveyed the message “I’ve learned to be independent during your long absences,” have been followed by tense moments of terror, as explosion after explosion filled the air outside the palace. Hearing the awful sound and mistaking it for gunfire, Buddy, remembered the Alamo, the storming of the Bastille, the attack on the Tuileries, the falls of Troy and Jericho and the House of Usher, and he imagined himself the target of a monstrous coup. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Bear, having no such illusions, thought only of the naps that were being interrupted. Uneasy lies the head that has to endure the incessant thunder of fireworks.

On July 2, the caretaker awoke to find both cats pressed up against her back, sound asleep, a phenomenon that had not happened in recent memory. (Normally they take turns being near her because they do not like to share her attention.) A relatively quiet morning gave way to a boisterous afternoon of explosions no different from that of the previous day, and the same thing happened on July 3rd and 4th. In fact, on July 4 for some reason the fireworks intensified in number, lasted entirely too long, and brought a great deal of upset and fervor (or fur-vor, if you prefer).

But today, on the fifth day, there is silence. Glorious, glorious silence. At this very moment, Buddy is draped across the caretaker’s lap watching the words of his story magically appear on the screen. He wishes you to know that he bears no ill will toward those who planned the coup, but he hopes they will move along quietly from this time forth, even unto the ending of the world. He is certain that all of his gentle readers regard him kindly and would never commit such crimes against his person.

He does tend to sound pompous from time to time, but that is only to be expected from royalty (and Navy captains). 

 

 

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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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Downton upon Stratford

Dearest Buddy,

This past night was forecast to be the coldest of the season; therefore, I left the kitchen faucet running to prevent the water pipes from freezing and breaking. I fully appreciate the fact that you have a vivid imagination, but please refrain from jumping onto the counter and playing “delicious stream in the desert.” Your face is getting soaked, and you are making a mess.

Signed,
Your faithful caretaker

_________________________________________________________

Caretaker (or shall I call you housekeeper?):

I am astonished at your words, both in their content and in the manner of your address. Apparently you assume that a mere servant has any right to question the actions of the nobility. In this you are much mistaken. This is my house, and I will choose which activities are appropriate. Your purpose here is to provide me with sustenance and entertainment and then to tidy the house without grumbling. This “forecast” of which you speak has nothing to do with me. Rain, wind, and cold do not touch me, and sunshine only touches me when I allow it. Your petty troubles are no concern of mine. In fact, I am utterly disappointed that your focus is on requesting changes in my behavior rather than upon your finding a way for me to drink from the faucet without wetting my face.

It grieves me to say it, but you are sailing perilously close to the wind. Have no doubt there will be consequences to your insubordination. Do not forget that any upsets to my noble constitution increase the number of hairball incidents. Take care which pillow you choose tonight.

Now on a much more important matter. You must do some research for me on the title of Earl. I do believe it to be several ranks beneath me, yet the Earl of Grantham has a much nicer estate than I, not to mention a bevy of servants. I want this situation sorted quickly. I believe your lack of proper respect stems from not having the upstairs-downstairs distinction that can be maintained in a grand house.

I also have plans for that gloriously massive dining room at Downton. The table would make an excellent setting for my favorite game, “patrolling the plateau.”

That is all. You may go now.

His Royal Highness, King Buddy Blacktail, nobler than any earl or duke, especially the Duke of Earl

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According to that eminently reliable source, Wikipedia, “‘Noblesse oblige’ is generally used to imply that with wealth, power, and prestige come responsibilities.” It has come to the caretaker’s attention that in her absence, household responsibilities were heavy and great upon the noble head of the reigning monarch of Stratford Palace, namely, His Royal Highness Merlin “Buddy” Blacktail, Emperor of the Front Lawn and Protector of the Storm Door.

The substitute caretaker has admitted of her own accord that she required a great deal of supervision in her chores, most notably that difficult but honorable task known as “Scooping.” This kindly young woman’s technique was so obviously inferior in King Buddy’s eyes that he remained near at hand during the entire process, supervising and offering instruction when necessary, which is to say, quite often. As a result, he was so exhausted this morning that he could not make the long journey to the back of the house to ascend his throne after breakfast, so he constructed a lesser throne between the cushion and the back of the sofa. Unfortunately, he encountered a fair amount of difficulty finding a comfortable pose, as will be evident in the following photos:

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In which I first strike my "Walk Like an Egyptian" pose

In which I first strike my “Walk Like an Egyptian” pose

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In which I throw back my head and thus throw caution to the wind

In which I throw back my head and thus throw caution to the wind

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In which I begin to search for a better situation

In which I begin to search for a more suitable situation

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In which I sink more deeply into the abyss

In which I sink more deeply into the abyss. Confound you, Gravity!

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In which I contemplate the meaning of Life

In which I contemplate the meaning of Life, as it relates to ceiling fans

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In which I stop to cleanse my face

In which I stop to cleanse my face in a brilliant act of non sequitur

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In which I resign myself to the inability of the faux leopard skin to uphold my person

In which I resign myself to the inability of the faux leopard skin to uphold my person

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In which I fall asleep pretending the front window is a portal to the lamp post in Narnia

In which I fall asleep pretending the front window is a portal to the lamp post in Narnia

And there in Narnia, with the great Lion Aslan, who is the most noble Cat of all, our pie-bald sovereign passes a serene morning. May we all know such blissful company, sleeping or waking!

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Cats Rule

A few days ago Buddy’s secretary came across a story about a cat who for fifteen years has been honorary mayor of the town of Talkeetna, Alaska. (At this point, any gentle reader who doubts the veracity of this tale is invited to read the story in its entirety at this link. The account must be true; after all, it is on the Internet not only in several obscure locations, but also on CNN.com, that bastion of truth and clever headlines.) But back to the cat who holds a position in municipal government . . .

Mayor Stubbs, as this sleek executive is called, has his own Facebook page, where he is pictured sipping water laced with catnip, eating Alaska Snow Crab, and lounging around the general store. Starting life as a foundling kitten, he was elected mayor as a write-in vote, which says all one needs to know about the caliber of hooman candidates that year. Excited to find another cat in a position of authority, the caretaker invited Buddy to sit in her lap and look through Mayor Stubbs’ online photo albums.

Buddy’s response?

How quaint. Truly. *yawn*

But upon reflection, Buddy has decided that a royal missive is in order. His argument is that such backwater cats may preen and strut and sit upon ping-pong tables all they want, but their rural charm does not hold a candle to the regal air of a true monarch such as himself. It is time to set the matter straight, and he is just the cat to do so.

To the Honorable Mr. Stubbs, Mayor of Talkeetna,

We have read with mild amusement the accounts of your dealings as mayor of an allegedly lovely town in rural Alaska. It seems you have disgraced your high calling as royalty and allow yourself to be used as a means of attracting a questionable brand of hoomans (at least we believe tourists to be hooman). It saddens us that you also allow yourself to be photographed in all manner of undignified situations. If our power stretched that far, we would charge you with conduct unbecoming.

According to the article, dogs fear you. Well, bully for you. How does that set you apart from every other cat in the world? Until hoomans fear you, there is no hope for you to regain even a modicum of your proper station, though we do have some hope for you upon reading that you are known by the town residents to be “high maintenance.”

Inexplicably, the story’s author indicates you have allowed your “power” to go to your “furry head.”  How very risible! To consider being mayor of a town of 800 people as a “powerful” position is equivalent to saying that a Ford Focus is a formidable race car. In your dreams, little cat. In your dreams. Scissors cut paper. Rock breaks scissors. Paper covers rock. And king trumps mayor any day of the week (twice on Sunday).

In closing, we would say only that if and when you take a kingdom, get back to us. Until then, build your army, bide your time, and try to get a handle on your catnip addiction. Once you have regained your royal standing, you can develop any vice you wish.

His Majesty, Merlin “Buddy” Blacktail
Sovereign of Stratford

P.S. from the secretary. Given Buddy’s scathing remarks about Mister Stubbs’ photos, it might be best not to let him see previous posts on his own blog, especially that one of him rifling through grocery sacks. That must remain our secret, gentle readers, for all our sakes.

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The staff of the Caturday Evening Post recently came across a series of letters exchanged between two residents of the Seafoam Cottage. The whimsical charm of these missives captured the attention of the magazine’s Crazy Lifestyle editor (or was it the crazy Lifestyle editor?), and thus the letters are reprinted below in their entirety.

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Dear Buddy,

As you flew by my leg this afternoon on your way through the door, brushing me a little more roughly than necessary, I could have sworn I heard you say something very much like “GET THE FROG OUT OF MY WAY.” I have given you the benefit of the doubt in my interpretation of your utterance, as I really do not want to believe that your language is any worse than that, yet for the life of me, I cannot imagine what frogs have to do with anything. The fact is that your attitude has recently deteriorated, and I am at a loss to know how to manage you. The next time you need to pass someone who is standing in your path, a simple “Excuse me” would be the proper way to indicate your intentions.

Kind regards,
Your attentive caretaker

Deer Hooman,

Well, it is about time you got something right. I said nothing about frogs. And you must agree that my choice of words left no doubt in your mind of my intentions, whereas “Excuse me” is indirect and unclear. Nevertheless, next time I’ll just yell, “MOOOOOVE.” That should do the trick, and a single word should be sufficient to maintain your attention.

Furthermore, I neither need to be “managed” nor told what is “proper.” Obviously, your attitude has deteriorated, not mine.

His Royal Highness, Buddy,
King of the Seafoam Cottage & Emperor of the Screamed-in Porch

Dearest Buddy,

I do see your point in that “MOOOOOVE” is absolutely the most direct way of expressing your desire to have another being remove herself from your path. Yet you really must agree with me that it is not the most mannerly method. And if I may be so bold as to correct your spelling, your salutation should be “Dear,” not “Deer.” I would have thought that a king, even though he may be a cat, would be better educated than to misspell such a simple word. Perhaps you need a bit more managing than you thought.

All the best,
Your ever-attentive caretaker

Insufferable hooman,

I called you “deer” because you were standing in my path like those mindless fawns who wander out into the road and get themselves run over on a regular basis. My spelling is not the problem. Your reading comprehension is the problem. As for manners, I once heard a wise king say that sovereign rulers are the makers of manners. The simple fact is that I am a king. You, however, are not a queen. As inept as you are, you are fortunate to be retained as a serving girl.

Once and for all, you must give up any notion that the king, who is your superior in all ways, must somehow make concessions for lesser beings, especially yourself. When I approach the door, whether for ingress or egress, I am discharging important matters of state, and you should move aside without even being told. If you are hit by an oncoming missile (namely, me) then it is your own fault for assuming that you have any rights other than to continue living so that you may do my bidding.

I trust we are now clear on this matter. I choose not to continue this tiresome exchange which is duller than a great thaw. By all means, woman, go turn on the television set and watch Criminal Mimes or find some other way to amuse yourself and give me some peace!

His Very Royal Highness,
Merlin “Buddy” Blacktail

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And there you have it, gentle readers of the Post. Although it may be a tired old adage, it is nevertheless a poignant truth that it is very good to be the King. And not nearly so good to be the caretaker.

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For-Bear-ance

Anyone who read the previous post about feline learning deficiencies will no doubt have raised an obvious question and observation: “Isn’t it really the caretaker who can’t learn? After the first incident of losing her telephone under a napping cat, she should have started to put things where they belong rather than tossing them onto the couch.” And all things being equal, that would be an astute assessment. Yet all things are most certainly NOT equal; it has already been established that felines are superior. One cannot expect an inferior being to demonstrate such higher order thinking skills, though the cats are frequently annoyed at the need to be on their guard constantly. But they are remarkably patient with the caretaker, despite her many and great faults.

Bear, for example, has shown great restraint—as well as a great capacity for learning, she would add—when it comes to the treatment that she receives during the morning routine and the scoldings that the caretaker really deserves because of it. The woman consistently closes the closet door, thus sealing off the best hiding place ever. She refuses to place her towel on the floor to soften the napping surface. She insists upon standing in (and walking through) the nap zone in front of the bathroom sink. But the day that she indiscriminately squirted chemicals into the air, accidentally assaulting Bear’s fragile eyes, was almost the last straw. If Bear had known how to post a job opening, the caretaker would have been dismissed without notice, possibly even terminated with extreme prejudice.

And so the stage is set for the tale of Bear and the hairspray.

If the caretaker works very hard at it, she can manage to be moderately presentable when she leaves the house, though she has never been the sort of woman who would be considered even remotely beautiful. (Actually, that is not true, for the more remote she is from the viewer, the more beautiful she appears to be.) For this woman who is long past what little prime she had, being even slightly presentable in public takes great effort, lots of paint and spackling paste, and strategically applied goops and sprays. Knowing that a curious cat is underfoot during the process should raise any sentient being’s awareness of surroundings, but on this particular morning, the caretaker was not paying attention and is not particularly sentient on her best days. Having brushed her hair strategically so as to cover most of the thinning spots, she reached for the aerosol can to seal her graying coif in place.

Now, hairspray, though virtually invisible, actually has some substance and is thus subject to the law of gravity. A few of the irritating particles landed in Bear’s eyes, resulting in a frantic attempt to bathe away the sting. (It is remarkable how efficient a cleaning machine can be found in a cat’s paw, liberally covered with spittle.) When Bear could finally see again, she stomped out of the bathroom in a huff, refusing to speak to the caretaker for the remainder of the morning. The caretaker, of course, felt awful about angering the beloved Queen, so she provided special treats as a peace offering. Bear eventually forgave the witless woman, and all was right again by the next morning.

Nevertheless, Spray Day shall never be forgotten. To this day, whenever Bear sees the caretaker wielding a spray can or bottle, she slams her eyes shut and begins to blink slowly and deliberately, assuming a pathetic, wounded look, as one might imagine was worn by Anne Boleyn on the way to Tower Green. After Bear is certain that the caretaker has noticed her pained reaction and felt the proper amount of guilt, she glides regally out of the room to let the poor misguided hag continue indulging in vanity.

Thank goodness there is comfort to be found in second breakfast.

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