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As I Lay Dying: A Photo Journal

The cats have previously lamented about the desperate plight in which they find themselves when the caretaker runs away from home (or as she styles it, “goes on a trip”). The woman may be old and feeble, but she has become deviously evil in her ability to hide her plans until the last minute. Yet there always comes a time when the luggage must be brought out into the open. At that moment, Buddy becomes slightly more agitated (but then, who can really tell?), and Bear, well, Bear plays a death scene rivaling that of Fantine in Les Misérables. Her abject misérable-ness cannot adequately be explained; it requires photos tragiques.

So on the day before the caretaker’s recent trip, as she scurried about the house sorting and folding pelts and putting them in the hated suitcase, she noticed that Bear was languishing on the bathroom rug. In order to capture the depth of Bear’s sorrow, the caretaker decided to pursue her chores with a camera in one hand. Each time she passed by the bathroom door, she snapped one or two photos of Bear. Only a few are needed to tell the sad, sad story. Behold la très grande misère, mélancolie, détresse, tristesse, douleur, etc.

Photo Tragique the First:

As you can see (you can see, can't you?) I have little time left on this earth . . .

As you can see (you are watching, aren’t you?) I have little time left on this cold, cruel earth.

____

Photo Tragique the Second:

drama

I have begun to die.  You do not have to weep an ocean for me. A large lake will suffice.

____

Photo Tragique the Third:

I see the light. If only I had strength to walk toward it . . .

I see the light. If only I had strength to walk toward it . . .

____

Photo Tragique the Fourth:

I suspect you are not taking my plight as seriously as you should  . . .

I suspect you are not taking my plight seriously. Do you not hear the bell tolling for me?

____

Photo Tragique the Fifth:

To assuage your doubts, I have turned to show you y more tragic side.

To assuage your doubts, I have repositioned myself to reveal my more tragic side.

—-

Photo Tragique the Sixth:

Oh, hello, Wall. It appears you are paying more attention than my previously trusted caretaker.

Hello, Wall. It appears you care more about me than my previously trusted caretaker.

—-

Photo Tragique the Seventh:

I die, Horatio. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

I die, Horatio.

—-

Photo Tragique the Eighth:

I am still dead. Really.

I am still dead, Horatio. Really. Pay no attention to my flapping tail.

So as not to leave our gentle readers in the depths of woe and grief regarding the beloved Bear, we are pleased to report that she is very much alive. She was waiting at the door when the caretaker returned today, and her sorrow has been turned into joy by a lovely spa treatment and her favorite dinner, which was devoured with a good will. (It would seem her recent difficulties did not deal her appetite a fatal blow.)

When confronted by teasing about her “death scene,” she turned her head slowly, thus silently reminding the caretaker that cats have nine lives, and the final moment of each of them shall be such an end as to be worthy of remembrance. Of that, the caretaker has no doubt whatsoever.

~ fin ~

With apologies to Victor Hugo, William Faulkner, William Shakespeare, J. R. R. Tolkien, John Donne, the translators of the King James Bible, and pretty much every other respectable author who has ever lived.

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

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

Prime Real Estate: The Caretaker's Lap

Prime Real Estate: The Caretaker’s Lap

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

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

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

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

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