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Jedi Iris

Jedi Iris

See tomorrow’s post for a story about this captivating cutie!

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The Walking Stomach

January 2013 292This week, I introduce our third cat, Gideon. He is extremely intelligent and creative when he wants to be. He can get almost anywhere he wants too, including on top of my kitchen cabinets. But the reason for all of his prowling and jumping is usually food. I call him “The Walking Stomach.”
We had no idea what we were in for. We walked to our local video rental store one day in late August as the sun was beginning to descend. When we got there, we saw a cat in the parking lot that fit the description of the cat I had mentioned wanting next after the passing of my darling Cedric earlier in the year. I had imagined a dark, smoky gray male, and there he was sniffing around the lot. Allen inquired about him inside, and the staff person told him this cat was a frequent visitor and was being fed by the staff. I was hesitant, not sure I was really ready for another cat, but we decided our Gigi needed a companion and he looked exactly like the cat I had imagined. We went home and got our pet taxi, the minivan, and some food for good measure before driving the few blocks to the store. Allen got out of the van, put some food in the back of the taxi, and waited. Surprisingly, the wait wasn’t very long. The cat sniffed briefly and walked right in. Allen secured the door and the cat munched happily the few blocks home.
We released him into the basement where he hid for a couple of days. I would fill the food dish, and it was always empty when I went to check on him. I thought he was hungry after being homeless, but I quickly learned this cat would do absolutely anything for food or treats. We’ve had to get creative over the years. He prowls in desperation every time feeding time gets close. He will climb any mountain if it means being united with his food dish. A while back, we got automatic feeders so he could stay on schedule even if we weren’t home. He learned that by sticking his paw up the food chute he could coax extra kibbles out, so we can’t keep the feeder on the floor all the time because he will dig all day for that extra food. I could have given him a name like Gobbler or Hungry Cat, but I have always preferred using obscure human names for my cats and this one was given the name Gideon.
We later learned that he can’t say no to food, even when he is full. This is when I started saying, “You can take the cat out of the alley, but you can’t take the alley out of the cat.” My parents came up for a visit one weekend in March when we still lived in Iowa. My well-meaning father always insisted on giving the cats treats to get them to like him. I made the mistake of giving him a full bag of fresh treats that weekend. Per the usual, both cats flocked to him every time they heard the crinkle of the treat bag. Gideon would even sit in his lap and eat out of his hand, which Dad loved. By the time Sunday rolled around, we could tell even Gideon was full. Gigi had stopped responding to the treats by the end of Saturday, but not Gideon. Dad shook the bag and Gideon got up, swaggered towards Dad’s outstretched hand, and stared at the treat as if getting the courage to eat it before he gulped it down without even chewing. If a cat could break a sweat, I believe he would have been moist all over. I could see each time that the decision to eat that treat was getting more difficult, but Gideon was determined. He always ate as if he would never see food again. We tried to get Dad to stop, but he insisted that Gideon was starving and needed treats.
Mom and Dad left after lunch and I put the treat bag back into its drawer. I had no intention of giving either cat treats for the rest of the day. Even Gideon didn’t look disappointed. Then, about 25 minutes after they left, Gideon started coughing. Before we could move him, he threw up all over the bed and there wasn’t a hairball in it. It was all the treats he had eaten. I called Mom and Dad on their cell phone. They were looking at Amish furniture in the next town south of us. I told them they needed to turn around so Dad could clean up his mess. They didn’t, of course, but they probably laughed all the way home. To this day, Dad is rationed when he comes over. He gets a small baggie of treats for all 3 cats. He always says they are still hungry after the treats are gone, but I never budge. He will even go as far as to tell me they are too skinny when I know full well they aren’t. I learned my lesson. Not only will “The Walking Stomach” do anything for food, he will also eat until he bursts.
Have you ever taken in a stray, starving animal? Did they ever become secure about meals and realize they would get food daily? Gideon never has! Tell me a story about your stray experience in the comments below. Write on!

Foiled Again

20121212_085937This is a story I wrote this week about my cat, Link, who is the most bashful of cats and rarely seeks attention from either my husband or me. The prompt I was using asked me to get inside the head of an animal, and I thought, “Whose head would I rather be in than Link’s? It’s so mysterious!” Those of you who have met Link know exactly what I mean.
Mom says I have an incredible pink nose. Actually, I have the only pink nose in the house, so I’m not sure why she considers it to be special in any way. On a quest to find out exactly what incredible means, and to surprise Mom, I decided to saunter into the bedroom one morning while she was still asleep. I sat right next to the bed, waiting to see if she would awaken. After a couple of long minutes, I decided that she might need some help waking up. After all, she was still breathing rather deeply. Slowly I reached up to the edge of the bed with my front paws, sniffing the air beside her. She still didn’t stir. This is going to be epic I thought as I pondered pouncing her feet. With my paws still grasping the edge of the bed, I craned my neck a little further, still working my pink nose to sniff the air. Just as my nose made it over the edge of the bed, I saw one eye open briefly. I ducked my head back down quickly. She must not see me plotting. I raised my head once again. Phew! Her eyes were both closed. I waited for a bit longer, hoping she would go back to sleep before using my front paws to hoist myself up all the way onto the bed, landing with no audible sound. I love being a cat for that reason. Cats are like ninjas and one never knows when we might strike. Just then her left arm moved, fingers reaching right for me. No! This could not be! I was invisible and inaudible, just like a ninja! But her fingers grazed down my body, grasping the crook at the tip of my tail as I tried to leap away. Only the best of my ninja moves could save me now. I hopped back down to the floor, jogging down the hall. I just knew she was smiling at my retreating form. Ugh! She’d succeeded—I’d been petted! I knew I had to lick it off immediately. I can’t be petted; it hurts my machismo too much. I am no longer a kitten that needs constant cuddling. I’m my own cat now, and big boys don’t need cuddles! I slunk underneath the futon in the living room, bathing my battle wounds. I really thought I had her that time. I should’ve left when her eye opened. Ugh! Petting is awful! What I really hate is that involuntary vibration my vocal cords make that she calls a purr. She thinks it means I love her and love the petting, but I have no control over it. Purring just sort of happens sometimes when she pets me. I can’t explain it. Suddenly, I heard her footsteps plodding down the carpeted hallway. Silly humans! They should learn it is impossible to sneak up on a cat. Our senses are too keen to miss their stumbling shenanigans. I maintained my position under the furniture. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. Two pettings in one morning? My skin shuddered like that of a flea-infected animal at the mere thought of it. Why does she always pet and hug me anyway? She has to know I don’t like it. I don’t need my mommy anymore. I can stand on my own four feet! Just as I straightened my spine a bit at the thought of how independent I could be, I saw her shadow next to the futon. Her knees creaked as she squatted down onto the floor, reaching for me again. Her hand flailed around helplessly, trying to feel for my orange swirled fur, which I had just licked clean. She ducked her head down underneath the frame and eyed my shadowed form against the wall. How much love did she think I needed? I gathered my senses, waited for the right moment and darted out from underneath the futon. I ran down the hall and regrouped under the bed. It was much harder for her to reach me under there. I was safe for the time being at least.
Link learned not to disturb my sleep eventually. Does your pet have a routine for waking you up in the morning? Feel free to tell your story in the comments section!

One Proud Auntie

Happy New Year all! My humblest apologies for not posting last week, but between the holidays and the stomach flu, the odds were against me. Here is my first post of the New Year. Enjoy!

The eldest of my niece and nephews, Garrett, is six years old and enrolled in a parochial kindergarten. As part of their Christmas program, the kids did the Christmas song from Alvin and the Chipmunks. You know the one—Christmas, Christmas time is here; Time for joy and time for cheer–in those cute little high pitched voices. My nephew got to be Alvin, the lead chipmunk, and what a darling little chipmunk he is! He had 2 speaking lines and 2 solo singing lines. Living 1 ½ hours away, I was unable to attend, but shortly after the program, I got word from my brother that it was a success. A few days later, I was finally able to see the video of his performance at our family Christmas. The house was noisy and I was watching this on a phone, so I missed quite a bit of it, but I have heard him sing the Johnny Appleseed prayer for God and family when we have family gatherings. I was curious as to how he did in front of a crowd since he’s always a willing little singer for just us. It was rather difficult to hear since the recording was made with the phone I was using to view it. It was also a distance from the performers, not to mention there were 20 or so of us gathered for Christmas and the kids were running around. Still through all that, loud, proud, and very much on pitch, I heard a voice sing, “And I still want a hula hoop!” He wasn’t quiet or bashful in the least. In fact, he was all smiles each time it was his turn to speak or sing. All I could think was, Someone inherited my genes! There may be another little performer in our midst! Excitedly, I said to my brother, “He gets it from his Auntie Marsha.” My brother lightly scoffed and then replied, “I don’t know where else it would have come from.” Greg and Amanda are not performers and I still love to do solos and duets with my husband in church. I love the accolades from an audience as much now as I did when I was young. Sometimes I feel guilty for loving it the way I do when the praise is supposed to be for God, not me. I developed a love of performing at a fairly young age and once I had more opportunities to try out for choirs and plays, I did so and often obtained a role of some sort. I thought the love of singing and performing would die with me since I don’t have children of my own. I got my interest in the arts from my Grannie. I have never particularly nudged Garrett or encouraged him to sing, but I am proud nonetheless. I was so filled with joy and told him what a great job he did. Not many kids his age are brave enough to do that, much less able to do it well and on pitch. They picked the right kid for the job and I was told that several of the parents there said Garrett stole the show. I think so, too, not that I am biased or anything.

Have any of the kids in your life done something that just made you burst with pride? Please share in the comments section. It can be anything, even their first word or first step. Just share what the kids you love do to make you proud and happy to be a part of their lives.

It Works!

Grant2 This past Sunday, my family had their Christmas party, a time of food, gifts, and fun watching the kids, commenting on how much they’ve grown just since Thanksgiving. We met at my aunt and uncle’s and they have a large, open floor plan and a huge yard for the kids to run around in. I got some great footage of the kids racing from one end of the lawn to the other. After they had worn themselves out a bit, we opened presents. Adelyn and Garrett vied for packages to hand out to family members so, of course, the opening of gifts was mass chaos as the kids ran back and forth. Grant sat in his Daddy’s lap and my brother helped him open his gifts. He is 2 ½, just one month younger than Adelyn. At first, the gift he was most excited about was a set of board books in a collector’s box that was similar to a lunchbox. He said, “I’m going to take this to my work.” “You’re work?” “Yes!” We didn’t even know he held down a job, but we are assuming he meant daycare. He carried them around proudly for quite some time with the latch loosening occasionally and spilling the books onto the floor. He would carefully pick them all up and put them in backwards as kids do.
My brother decided to open the remote control police car I had gotten Grant for Christmas, just to see what he would do with it. He wanted to teach him how to use a remote control. I got out the batteries, handing them to my brother. Once he flipped the switch on the car, lights and sirens sounded. Grant was intrigued, but it wasn’t until the car began to move that hilarity ensued. My brother had the controller and raced the car down the hall. Grant shrieked, “It works!” and took off after it. He caught it, carried it back to the leather couch and with total delight on his face, watched as it moved back and forth. Then he put it down on the carpet where movement speed is impeded, but once it got off the carpet and onto the tile floor, it sped down the hall again. Sometimes he would crawl, and sometimes he would run, but every time Grant would shriek, “It works!” with total delight in that gravelly voice of his. The process of bringing it to the couch, putting it on the carpet, and then chasing it down the hall was repeated several times. Then my brother said, “Come here, Grant-Grant. I’ll show you how it works. Bring your car over.” Grant dutifully carried his car over, but as soon as Greg would hit the button to make it go, off Grant would run, chasing it. Greg even tried to steer it back between Grant’s legs, but Grant was pretty quick and would catch it, holding it up proudly.
Grant didn’t want to know how it worked. As far as he was concerned, that car was magical and would race away from him for no apparent reason other than for him to catch it. Every time my brother tried to show him how it worked, he refused to listen. He just wanted to chase it. We all laughed and laughed repeatedly as he would tear off after it. What did I learn? Christmas is a magical time of year. For some it is more difficult than others. I do acknowledge that. But there are magical things happening all around us whether you see it with charities raising unexpected funds, people recovering from tragedy, or the Christ child in Bethlehem. It is the time of year to believe in magic and allow ourselves to be mystified by the glory of it. What is your magical Christmas experience, whether from this year or years past? Please share in the comments section. Refuse to see the remote control this year and just believe in magic!