Sigh….if there was one picture that summed up my love for all things “kitty”, it would be this one.
My wonderful wife discovered an app on her android phone that “cartoonizes” photos. So she began texting me cartoons of our favorite pics.
This is “Bear” (aka: Tasty Kitten | aka: Tasty Face | aka: kitty-who-is-my-purpose-for-living).
Long drawn out story concerning her birth/early years/current life, starts here:
(and I’m reaaaaaaaaally in the mood for “parenthetical writing” wherein (you know) multiple ideas and/or sentences (like this half-sentence here) show up in parentheses and it’s YOUR job (as the reader…see!…I did it again!) to try to untangle the incredible mess that is (or was, or might be) my writing. Whewwww…let’s begin…shall we?).
So…sometime around…I don’t know…a few years ago (remember people…men’s minds discern time muuuuuch differently than women…”a few weeks ago” is probably actually 3.5 months ago and “a few months ago” is probably literally 4.32 years ago…therefore “a few years ago” might be 10 years ago, OR (and this is where we surprise you!) “a few years ago” might actually be 9 months ago)…anyway…a few years ago we had this gorgeous female semi-wild cat we named “Gracie Grey” (or “Gray” if you’re British…or is that the other way around?) show up on our back porch (you know…the “open for business 24-hour kitty bar where cats from anywhere in the world show up for food and/or some sex (depending on who is currently in heat, who has been fixed, who hasn’t, who is a slut-kitty and who isn’t)”). Ahem…anyway…Gracie, being semi-wild, was definitely NOT fixed, and she was (in my human estimation), somewhat in heat/horny all or most of the time. Now…the interesting other factoid here is that, at the time, we had another semi-stray cat who was a beautiful male orange full grown beast named “Peach” (and man…he really was a peach…gentle, loving, funny, goofy, and a typical clueless male), ANYWAY…this dude was ALSO not fixed (nicely proportioned set of man-orbs hanging ever so delicately off the rear of the poop-deck if you catch my drift)…but here’s what was funny about Peach: the dude appeared to NOT KNOW WHAT KITTY SEX WAS??? WTH(eck)????
I’m going to start a new paragraph I’m so incredulous about the clueless-ness of Peach. Here he had the human equivalent of Farrah Fawcett (boys…you know what I’m talkin’ about…orange swimsuit poster when we were in 4th grade and all that) on the deck begging him for love. Actually…if you’ve ever forced yourself to watch cats mate…um…not really sure there’s too much “love” left over after the male-dominated neck biting, the general cacophony, claws (someone’s got to keep her in place ya know?), actual-painful-prongs-on-the-male-you-know-what (look it up if you don’t believe me) and other unpleasant-ness of the whole cat “romantic interlude” thing. So poor Peach has all that sitting/laying in front of him and he would typically wander off and go look for something more interesting…like grasshoppers…or dirt. Now this would lead you to believe maybe he WAS truly fixed, but again…(remember…the man-orbs?)…I really doubt it. Perhaps Peach had just come off of a string of bad relationships and had given up on female felines. Regardless, we began to refer to all the females in the group as “Peach’s harem” (or other less-than-nice names that 20-year old boys come up with…rhymed with “itches”). The other interesting thing (since I’m now an arm-chair cat-sociologist) was that while Peach was certainly a strong male, he didn’t seem to want to do the whole “better protect Gracie cuz she’s my babe” kind of thing. He looked on calmly as Gracie was approached by scads of male suitors. I’m convinced the military should look into the absolute power (and possibly military application?) that a female cat scent has on male cats. Maybe instead of nuking other countries, we could simply drop a huge female-in-heat-scent bomb on a city and watch as every male cat on the globe descends with fiendish glee on the scene…ugh…too horrible to contemplate.
So…as nature typically plays out…Ms. Gray wound up “with-kitten(s)” and Kath and myself were faced with the rather deja-vu-like sense of “here we go again” (coupled with “why-don’t-we-ever-learn” with a dash of “what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-us”).
As Gracie waddled around for the next several weeks, we wondered how the blessed event was going to happen and would we somehow have to be “involved”. Luckily for us, (again, nature pretty much handles all the details for you), Gracie chose to have her kittens at the back of the neighbor’s yard (she made a little nest between the shed and the fence…it was quite cute and homey) and three little essences-of-cuteness came into the world.
Our neighbor alerted us to the new arrivals with a shake of his head and the exasperated exclamation of: “YOUR cat had kittens in MY back yard”. Rather than argue with him that, technically, she wasn’t “our” cat (and would anyone in our neighborhood really believe that line?) we gathered our girls and quickly hurried over to see the precious newbies. Anyone that can look at kittens (especially in the wild!) and not believe in love at first sight must have a black black heart. They were adorable. Gracie shyly allowed us to handle them and make sure they were okay.
Gracie had managed to pop out three balls of fluff: two males and a female (you wondered when I was going to finally get back to Bear?). The tiniest, runtiest, scared-of-her-shadow-est kitten was the black and toffee-brown female. Because of her markings, at first we thought she had a slight eye infection, but I seem to recall that later we determined it was just the way her fur was colored over one eye. Either way, it made her actually look more pitiful (if that is even possible?). The two males were orange and white/black/gray respectively. We scooped up all three and, with Gracie following us (meowing her disapproval at us stealing her kittens) we carefully installed the new family in our downstairs bathroom. It was a perfect romper room of joy for felines because it kept them away from the other myriad denizens of the house, and gave them a quiet, reasonably spacious (for a cat!) area to wean kittens and get them ready for the serious job of being someone’s pride and joy (more on that later).
Needless to say, the following days, weeks, and months were full of amusing and heartwarming displays of typical kitten-hood. In the early days, Gracie managed to stay in the bathroom (without launching herself through the tiny window that led to the outside) and she truly did care for her brood. But…most likely due to the “wildness” in her, it wasn’t long before she made it obvious and clear to everyone that she had had enough of this “kitten business” and was ready to go live her life sans kittens. We let her back outside and, except for two particular times where I remember her wanting to come in and hang with her children, she pretty much “moved on” from that part of her life.
I remember one time when I came home from work and got ready for the big part of my day (seeing these bundles of pure energy simply being themselves). I carefully opened the basement bathroom door and saw: nothing. Hmmmm…were they around the corner (where the toilet used to be before I ripped it out in disgust and shoved a towel down the hole because teenage boys cannot aim to save their ever-loving lives)…or were they under the sink counter where there was some empty space (someone forgot to put more drawers there?)…bah…I couldn’t find them. That was when I discovered that if you were small enough, you could juuuust squeeze under the bottom lip of the sink cabinetry (where it meets the floor) whereupon you then entered “sink-cabinet-drawer-world”. As a kitten, you could climb up and down through the drawers and end up on whatever “floor” you wanted. “Floor 3 – washrags and toothpaste” said the elevator-man (that wasn’t).
As I opened each drawer carefully, Berkley (white/black/grey) and Nemo (orange) were on different floors and trying to bat at each other and avoid me at the same time. Meanwhile, on the very first floor, tucked away and sleeping quietly, was Bear. For some reason, perhaps because I was bugging them, they all tumbled out of the drawers and scurried around to the area under the counter and peered out suspiciously at me. What floored me was that Berkley, spitting and hissing (soooo cute), rose up on all 6 inches of his little height and put himself SQUARELY between me and his little sister. Hysterical. His eyes had only opened a week or so ago and here he was fiercely protecting his litter-mate. I assured Berkley that my intentions were honorable and scooped up the three of them to take them upstairs to the “Dad-Chair”. So…have you ever noticed that in most folks homes, there will usually be a “Dad-chair” and a “Mom-chair”? Sometimes (like my parents), the chairs will be next to each other (possibly facing the TV?) in sort of a “King/Queen” style with a little table and lamp betwixt them. In our house, we sort of have multiple comfy chairs surrounding a center table (think: Lord of the Rings meets Game of Thrones) and this is where we do most of our talking, arguing, eating, drinking, and general plotting and plodding through life. While we all pretty much share the chairs, there is one (northwest corner) that I use the most…it was to this chair that I brought my captives. They lasted on my lap about 2.72 seconds before launching themselves onto the carpeted floor to race around the “track” (in this case, the track was a large oval of maybe 20 feet total circumference with multiple leaping/hiding/lurking obstacles in the way) chasing each other. And now, we at last get to the origin of the name “Bear” for the tiniest member of the family. For whatever reason, nature gave this little minion THE longest, sharpest, and most “hanger-on”-ness claws in animal history. I swear there were times I saw her hanging from a curtain with ONE claw. Her brothers were wisely wary of her weapons and usually complained loudly if she used them unnecessarily (which was…all the time). As we watched with amusement over the weeks and months, the name “Bear” seemed to stick to the bundle of fury. Not wanting her to suffer a name-calling childhood (other kittens can be SO MEAN with their taunts), we alternated “Bear” with the more adorable “Tasty-Kitten” and later, “Tasty-Face”.
As the three of them grew and weaned, we realized that we would have to find homes for the three of them (sniff). Our girls knew some people who knew some people who wanted a kitten and we managed to find homes for Berkley and Nemo. Who would want the final little runt of the litter with the scimitar diamond-edged claws? WE WOULD! I floated the idea to the fam (remember…at this point I think we had at least 5 other cats and you can’t leave out Gracie and her clueless “protector” Peach…so we were pretty much “full up” at the Selby ranch…) and after all the eye-rolling and protests, we all sort of got used to the idea that Bear would stay.
So…THAT is the story of Bear and how she came to be. May she live long and prosper. We shall probably speak more of her another day.
Until next time,
Kevin B. Selby
p.s., to anyone reading this…um…I’m kind of in this no-man’s land of deciding whether to spend the time (months and years) to write at length about all the kat-kritters I’ve loved in my life. I’m thinking of trying to juxtapose the cats (and their antics) with whatever was going on in the world (and my life) at the time and so the writing would not only be a celebration of sorts (of all things kitty) but it would also act as a vehicle to describe life in my neck of the woods (Tri-Cities, WA – USA) from the late 60s up to today.
If you happen to know me (and can contact me…heh heh…good luck with that), let me know if the above writing has any merit and whether some type of full length “book” (whatever THAT means in today’s internet world) would work? I think it would…but boy would it be a labor of love. Sooooo much timeframe to cover. So many kritters. So many things going on in the world. So much editing. So many incomplete sentences to fix. So many times getting slapped by an editor for starting a sentence with “So”. Sigh.
Finally (and I hope to never mention this again), those of you who know me will no doubt remember how much I love and revere the writings of James Herriot (the famous veterinarian who lived in the Yorkshire Dales and wrote about his amazing life there, starting with the book “All Creatures Great and Small”). In no way am I attempting to be a copy-cat of this legendary writer. While I certainly wouldn’t mind if some of his storytelling ability were to rub off on me, I do not want in any manner to try to write something “derivative” of his most excellent prose. Hopefully, simply by “being me”, I can tell the story of all of my cats *and* try to weave it in and through the story of my growing up in “Anytown, USA” during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I would love to know whether this little tiny story above would be “good enough” (especially with a ton more editing!) as an indicator that this little “dream” of mine would even be possible. I’m getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it. On the one hand, I would be thrilled to share my adventures (and mis-adventures) with the world. On the other hand, too many times, writers start out with grand plans and either grossly swerve out of the path they originally intended or maybe they never finish what they started, or maybe they end up being TOO intimate with their readers (and thus turn them off) or maybe they just use the word “maybe” too much. Regardless, I would hate to start a journey such as this and just end up as another derailed deranged “author” who blew too much hooey into the world for their own good. Okay…whewww…glad I got that off my chest.
Interesting bit of trivia: I tore through the BBC’s “All Creatures Great and Small” series a few years ago and was struck with how well they captured the beauty that is/was the world of James Herriot. The actor who played “Siegfred” (the owner of the veterinary practice that “James” ended up at) shows up ON A HARRY POTTER MOVIE! Yeah! Go look it up (I’m not gonna do YOUR homework for you, ya lazy Mary). I honestly thought he was basically done as an actor. Put him out to pasture. Let him hang out at one of the many pubs in Yorkshire that dear “James” speaks of so often (“the Drover’s Arms” anyone??) and reminisce about his amazing life. BUT NO: he decides to get a role in HARRY POTTER. Too cool.
Also…the actor that played “Tristan” (“Siegfred”‘s adventurous and mischievous brother in the series) was (wait for it) one of the many actors that got to play the legendary Dr. Who (again…look it up…do *I* look like Wikipedia (or IMDB) to *you*?).
I’m finally done.
(no I’m not):
I just went and re-read this entire sack O’ words. It’s settled. I have to write this. I don’t know HOW or WHEN (or WHAT it will look like)…but this is going to happen. Now let’s hope I can deliver. Sigh.