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The caretaker will be the first to admit that it has been entirely too long since the cats have been featured on the Internet. Since our last post, they have been courageous in the face of storms and delivery men, sleepy after a hard day of guarding the palace, hungry from hours of full contact napping, disdainful of nutritious food, judgmental of the caretaker’s choice of clothing, and just plain bored with life, the universe, and everything. There is really no excuse why our gentle readers should not have been treated to every single moment of feline awesomeness that has occurred since our last post in May. So without further ado, here is a recap of the major events in the lives of the cats and a few of their friends:

June

A suspicious drowning took place in the Stratford Palace water bowl. Gray Mousie, who was last seen dangling by the tail from the lips of a white and black cat tentatively identified by Bear as “That Goober Head,” was discovered submerged and lifeless around 5 pm on 2 June 2014. Buddy was not available for comment.

Suspicious Drowing

Catnip Mouse Bites Dust in Water Bowl

July

The departure of the Second Can Opener during the first weekend of July plunged the palace into a period of gloom from which it has not quite yet recovered. For several days this indispensable member of the household carried clothing, boxes, and furniture out of the house, and then one night, he simply did not come home. The caretaker was uncharacteristically lax in her response, making no attempt to bar the door against his departure as she always does when Buddy tries to leave. The good news is that Unca Dan has returned for visits and has even provided meals when the caretaker ran away for a few days, but Buddy has not been quite himself without him. For several weeks, he kept watch at the door until it was closed for the night, hoping to catch a glimpse of his beloved sidekick, but no joy.

Searching the Horizon

Searching the Horizon from the Comfort of an Egg Crate Mattress Cover (long story)

August

Lest our gentle readers believe Buddy is the only interesting denizen of the palace, we invite you to observe Bear in her natural habitat, namely, the caretaker’s bed. The caretaker recently purchased a new pillow, and it required a proper breaking-in, the kind that only Bear can provide. Notice how the pink sheets accentuate the color of the inside of Bear’s ear. This is interior design at its finest, if we do say so ourselves.

Not Goldilocks

This Pillow is Just Right, Said Tabby-Locks

September

Speaking of interior design, Buddy quite approves of the new Downton Abbey look for the guest room, so he very often pretends he is a guest in his own palace. Here he can be seen snuggled up in his favorite chair with his new friend, another sort of bear. Gray Mousie II, another new friend, awaits at the foot of the chair for post-nap mayhem to ensue.

My Favorite Chair, My Favorite Bear

My Favorite Chair, My Favorite Bear

October

Finally, we reach our current destination, the month of October, whose cool mornings call for warm blankets. Sometimes lying on a warm blanket is not quite enough to chase away the chill, so Buddy burrows under the blanket and settles down for a warm nap. Lest our gentle readers complain that the photo looks fuzzy, we hasten to remind you that everything in the photo is fuzzy, including the colorful paws.

Cool Morning, Warm Blankie

Cool Morning, Warm Blankie

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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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Cabin Fever

Over the past few weeks of winter, most days at the Seafoam Cottage have passed with little more than sleeping, eating, and an occasional viewing of Cat TV, which has much less to offer since Tabby Lee and Mr. Shorty have sought shelter from the cold. But today the cats woke up in Crazyville, where the trains run only one way.

First, the stage must be set for Bear’s foray into madness. Despite the caretaker’s providence of a Drinkwell fountain AND a gravity-operated water dispenser, the cats greatly prefer to drink from the bathtub faucet. Rather than waste water by leaving the faucet dripping, the caretaker provides a small stainless steel bowl filled with fresh water, and oddly enough the cats have accepted this compromise. They seem to enjoy jumping into the bathtub, stealing a drink of water, and then jumping back out. Apparently water tastes better if one has to obtain it surreptitiously.

This fine morning, however, the clandestine mission went terribly awry. As the caretaker scurried about getting dressed to attend the early service at church, she was startled by a huge clatter that arose from the bathroom. Running to see what great tragedy had befallen, she was met by the sight of a soggy Bear, who had somehow misjudged the location of the water dish and jumped directly into it. Confused and frightened, she then apparently jumped straight back out again, so that by the time the caretaker found her, she was sitting perfectly still, dripping on the bathroom rug and failing miserably at pretending nothing was wrong. Anyone who knows cats will understand what a great strain it was for Bear to maintain her composure, but she managed to strike a regal pose that belied her circumstances. The situation was so pathetic that the caretaker couldn’t laugh at her, but instead spoke soothing words and carefully wiped the water from her back. Mercifully, the house was at peace again before the caretaker left.

When she arrived home, the cats were asleep on the couch, snuggled in each other’s arms. But shortly after the cats were awakened by the caretaker’s presence and the eternal hope of impending snacks, the idyllic scene was ended by Buddy’s impromptu production of “Lion and Gazelle,” and as always Bear was cast as the reluctant gazelle. With the caretaker ready to defend Bear from certain destruction, Buddy had to divert his aggression, and he soon spied the perfect victim. While playing on top of a box that the caretaker had brought into the living room, Buddy turned around suddenly and caught sight of a long, black, furry snake-like object trying to sneak up on him. In an instant he formed his battle plan:

* Whirl, pounce! Whirl, pounce! Whirl, pounce! Whirl, pounce! *

Though he spoke not a word, his face developed an expression of sheer frustration, and it was obvious that he was thinking, “What in the wide, wide world of fish is going on here?”

This foe was crafty indeed, for every time Buddy whirled, it darted out of striking distance, moving at exactly the same speed as he did. Unable to best the beast, he jumped down and loped into the bedroom, hoping to escape its hideous clutches. All this time, Bear had calmly observed him from her perch on the sofa table, her smug expression conveying one message: “Who’s the gazelle NOW, Buddy Boy?”

Eventually Buddy lost sight of the monster, so he settled down in the window sill behind the caretaker as she typed away at another dull blog post. He felt this was the one place of safety in the house, and he was corrrect. For if the caretaker is so willing to defend Bear from Buddy, she would certainly be willing to defend Buddy from a sneak attack by his own tail.

At the moment, therefore, peace reigns in the Seafoam Cottage; both Buddy and Bear have settled down to watch Cat TV. They will soon drift off into a cat’s version of religious dreams befitting a Sunday afternoon: Bear will dream of accidental baptisms and Buddy’s nightmares will include snake handling. Meanwhile, the caretaker would appreciate any and all ideas for curing cabin fever, but keep in mind that we’re all out of cowbell here.

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For some reason, this winter has been much more difficult for the cats than last. What makes this situation a curiosity is that the weather this year is milder than last year’s. The cats’ attitudes, however, are not. If it were not for blankets, box dragon, floor dragon, and the fireplace, the Seafoam Cottage would be a tense place indeed. (For readers who need an introduction to the dragons, this post will provide the background.)

Buddy’s main pursuit these days is searching for a new warm spot. This morning, he was spied lying on the floor dragon, at least until the heat cranked up and threatened to bake him. At present, he is crouched on the shelf beside the door, drawing a tiny bit of warmth from the caretaker’s gloves. Mind you, there is one consistently warm place in the house, but he is determined not to become a couch potato. Of course, the fact that he now watches television for long stretches of time probably means that his battle against essential potato-ness is already lost.

Buddy’s previously catalogued mood swings have escalated to the point that the caretaker takes her life into her own hands simply by walking through the house. The only safety to be found is when Buddy is watching the weather forecast or when he has drifted off to sleep. At other times, the Seafoam Cottage is a jungle. Sometimes he’s up on tiptoes, back arched and tail puffed, daring the caretaker to make a move toward him. Sometimes he’s flying through the air, having bounded from the floor to the couch and then on to who-knows-where. Sometimes he’s just loping through the house like a lion in pursuit of a gazelle. Sometimes the gazelle is invisible. And sometimes the role of the gazelle is played by poor Bear, who is always a reluctant actress in these improvisations.

When she is not being chased, Bear is eating or sleeping. A creature of habit, she does not share Buddy’s ambitious search for warmth. There are currently four corners to her napping world: the couch, the Purr Pad nest on the sofa table, the caretaker’s lap, and the bathroom rug in front of the box dragon, which provides Bear’s brightest spot for the entire day. Sometimes she doesn’t nap but merely sits with her eyes closed in front of the box dragon, allowing it to blow its lovely hot breath into her face.

But even though Bear’s usual routine has not been substantially altered by the cold, she is crankier than usual. Her normal irritation at hearing music has heightened to the point that she is as much to be feared as the resident lion. A few days ago, the caretaker broke out into “song” while Bear was enjoying the warm box-dragon breeze. With more energy than she has shown in many months, Bear whipped her head around, opened her mouth as wide as possible, and emitted a fearful cat roar. In the history of horror films, there has never been anything so much to be dreaded.

When Bear was certain that the singing was silenced, she slowly turned her head back to the box dragon. Though her composure was recovered, it took some time for the caretaker’s heart to return to normal rhythm. Whatever it takes, she will try to avoid making Bear angry again. Take her word, gentle reader, that you do not want to encounter Bear’s “Night of the Living Dead” attitude first thing in the morning.

Don't judge me. It's cold.

Don't judge me. It's cold.

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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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I Shall Not Be Moved

Since last we wrote, the Seafoam Cottage has been blissfully quiet and serene, with no visitors and very few events out of the ordinary. The caretaker went away more times on Caturday than usual, but each time she came back with bags of goodies, so her absence was promptly forgiven. The weather has also improved: the sun has been shining for several days and the wind has lost its teeth.

But the cold air lingers, as though someone had left a cosmic freezer door open, and even the cheerful fire that the caretaker builds each evening cannot bring the house up to the cats’ preferred ambient temperature, which is well over 100 degrees Farenheit (the cats have refused to learn the Celsius scale, claiming that it is an evil plot of the Europeans to keep Americans confused).

The cool air, the warm fire, and the presence of the caretaker provide the perfect context for Bear’s favorite pastime: hibernating. If there were an Olymplic event for sleeping, Bear would need a whole wall on which to hang all her gold medals (that is, if she could be awakened long enough to travel to the competition). Indeed, her ability to dig in and nap reflects the habits of her namesake. As Bear the Hibernator, she is difficult to awaken, difficult to move, and very VERY grouchy when both waking and moving are necessary. Only food can appease an awakened Bear who has been displaced from the bed of her dreams.

Take this morning for example. About 4:47, the caretaker’s sound sleep was broken by the intrusion of of Buddy’s face into her own personal face space. When she tried to move, she found that her lower extremities were weighed down by a sleeping Bear. All subtle attempts to rouse the hibernator were futile; somehow Bear managed to spread herself out and press her weight down, resisting the caretaker at every turn. If she could sing (and mind you, she wouldn’t, because she despises singing), her anthem would be “I shall not be, I shall not be moved!”

Don't Wake the Bear

Don’t Wake the Bear

Eventually, however, the caretaker extracted herself (but not before considering whether a rescue team with the famous “jaws of life” would be required) and arose to start the day. Bear remained in her place until she realized that food service was imminent. With a loud thump, she hit the floor and padded into the kitchen. “I shall not be moved” has its limits. Sometimes one cannot avoid travel, even if it’s only to the breakfast bowl.

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There is only time for a short post this evening, as the caretaker is embroiled with other projects at the moment, but Bear insisted that the world needed to know the results of Buddy’s curtailed porch time. When the weather is warm and sunny, Buddy is able to expend all his extra energy in positive pursuits. But when he has to roam the house looking for ways to use up energy, nothing in the Seafoam Cottage is safe. Although there have been many incidents over the past few days, two were caught on film and must be shared.

Exhibit A: The toilet paper roll, unrolled

What is truly amazing is that Buddy has not attempted this pastime long before now. Perhaps the caretaker should thank him for being proactive. The paper will eventually need to be unrolled. No sense in waiting around about it.

Thanks, Buddy

Thanks, Buddy

Exhibit B: The kitchen is no place to play hockey.

What you see below is the result of Buddy’s use of a milk carton ring for a hockey puck. As he batted it around, he caused a chain reaction: He ran into the broom, which fell over, and in trying to dodge it, he ran into the garbage can. As it was falling, it knocked over an empty drink box that was waiting patiently to be broken down and put into the recycle bin. And though it’s difficult to tell, the garbage can lid fell onto the cats’ dinner plate.

Cleanup on aisle 3!

Mess? What mess?

Mess? What mess?

So if any of our gentle readers in temperate climates should happen to be lonely, the caretaker is quite sure you need to have a charming black and white cat spend some time at your house this winter. Just let the caretaker know how you would like to take possession of your whirlwind, er, houseguest.

Meanwhile, the residents of the Seafoam Cottage are all tired of rain and cold and wind, and rainy cold, and cold wind, and rainy wind, and rainy cold wind. If conditions do not improve soon, the caretaker will begin pulling the down the yellow wallpaper. She is beginning to think there are cats creeping behind it. She may be right. Buddy was seen scratching at it just yesterday.

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