Melissa and I are back from a week’s vacationâ€”up to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, then back along the coast with a two-night stop-over in Fort Bragg. One of the high point was this biker, who we saw both in Fort Bragg and again along the 101 on our drive home.
His bike was custom painted with tiger stripes and his leathers were orange and black. I am not sure how he added that tail to his bike, but it was quite something.
We also saw some beautiful coastâ€”
And the “Time and the Maiden” sculpture atop the old Masonic lodge in Mendocino.
Today’s the All-Star game, and even the cats are getting into the spirit.
That’s Miss Timmy, aka Little Timmy Fast Paw, the closer on the baseball team Melissa and I are forming, the Whatif Puddin’s. We’re still short a few players, so we figured we’d give you an update and see if your have any prospects to help round out our roster. To sweeten the deal, we’ll send one of Miss Timmy’s cards to anyone who proposes an addition to our team. Cats only! No dogs, gerbils, ferrets, budgies, or rabbits. (Although Archy says he wouldn’t mind a gerbil or a budgieâ€”wink, wink!)
First off, pitching:
We’re a bit short-handed here. We’ve got Little Timmy Fast Paw, who’ll keep the team ahead in the ninth. Archy “Mad Eye” Katz will lead off our rotation, but after that we’re coming up empty. We could use another four pitchers for our rotation–and a few more good paws for the bullpen.
We’re hoping to draft Penny from Seattle for the season. Nothing got by her back when she lived at my house (particularly not other ctas), so we think she’ll do a fine job covering the plate. We need an additional cat (large paws preferred) to act as back-up catcher.
Sparky will be playing first. We’re putting Oliver from next door at shortâ€”first because she is short, but also because with her crush on Sparky she’ll jump at every chance to “make a play” with him. We’re also sounding out my friend Ellen to see if her cat, Toonces, wants to be our utility infielder. He’s the kind of cat who’s at home all over the place (the entire neighborhood is his fan base), so we think he’ll be able to work comfortably at a variety of positions. That leaves us still looking for second and third base.
Bea “The Black Hole” Schwartz-Noir will be playing right field. That way she can keep an eye on her nemesis Sparky. We expect she’ll suck in balls with the efficiency of a singularity. Damian “Mr. Whippy” will be playing center. (We confess that we told him he’s at center because he’s the center of the gameâ€”but it’s really because we think he’ll do the least damage out there.) That leaves us in need of a left fielder and a utility outfielder as well, just in case Damian strains his tail or knocks out one of his teammate’s teeth in a wild gallupmh toward the ball.
Neither Melissa nor I believe in the DH, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. We’re thinking the neighborhood scrounge, Mooch, will be just the fellow to “clean up” at the plate.
Maggie “Ma” Moo-Woozle will be our equipment manager. She can use her excellent wood-furniture-destroying skills to customize the players’ bats. We’re making Mortimer, who lives in terror of pretty much everything (I thinks he’s afraid of nothing, too, so far as that goes), third-base coach. That way he can focus on just yelling “Run! Run! Run!” Positions still open: coach, first-base coach, pitching coach, and trainer.
Soâ€”if you have cats who are ready to play ball, send us their stats. We promise them a full-season contract with a no-trade clause.
P. S. In case you hadn’t guessed, the artwork comes courtesy of Melissa. You can see her art here and read her blog here.
“Six cats is enough!” we cry. “No, six cats is too many!”
And yet, we keep on finding more. Or rather, I should say, they keep finding us.
The latest to enter the Peyton Place that is the story of our cats is little Timmy. I first noticed him crossing the yard not long after I had moved to Santa Cruz, and I remarked that he was a fine young cat, handsome, sleek, with a grand fluffy tail, and quite full of himself.
This was not good news for Mortimer, who lives next door and is terrorized by his evil sister. Mortimer, also sometimes known as Scaredy Cat or Puff, is very shy, and easily frightened. It had taken Chris weeks to entice him over to eat cat treats, and even longer to eat them with her in the vicinity. (I should point out here that I rent the cottage behind Chris and Peter’s house.) Now along comes Timmy, and Mortimer is back to hiding.
Except now Timmy is hiding too. He seems to have taken up residence under the back porch, where he peers up through the slats, waiting for Chris to put out Mortimer’s treats. As soon as she does, out leaps Timmy, and away runs Mortimer. And Timmy doesn’t seem so sleek any more; he looks thin, and a bit bedraggled, and much more nervous.
“I think Timmy is a stray,” I said.
“Don’t say that!” exclaimed Chris, knowing that as certified crazy cat ladies, she, Sarah-Hope and I would have to do something about it.
So now we are. I’ve been putting out a bowl of food way in the back yard, hoping to lure Timmy away from the porch, Mortimer, and the treats, and am trying to spend time sitting outside so he gets used to me. The plan is to earn his trust, and then catch him in a cage (oops, so much for trust) and take him to our vet. If he is disease-free, they will find a good home for him.
But Timmy is awfully cute.
Seven cats? No, that’s way too many.
You may have noticed that this is a busy time of year for Sarah-Hope and Melissa, between teaching and art shows and whatnot. As a result, the cats have taken to entertaining themselves, and have subscribed to Netflix. Their favorite movie so far is “Sunset Boulevard,” and they’ve been practicing their Gloria Swanson/Norma Desmond “ready for my closeup” attitudes.
We’ve often written about how helpful our cats are. They take their household duties seriously, and none more so than Damian. Living in an artist’s live/work loft has given him many opportunities to offer his input and assistance.
When he was a wee lad, his main duty was to do a close-up inspection of paintings in progress. He did this by running full speed across the floor, leaping onto the easel, and scaling the painting until he ended up perched on top of the canvas. He was always quick to point out the newly-formed scratches and claw-holes that he found. Now that he has grown into his full 20-pound glory I try to discourage this type of inspection, but with his rigorous work ethic he is not easily dissuaded.
Enter the new scratching post! I found this pristine deluxe perch at a yard sale –a steal at $5!– and happened to put it near my painting area. Damian loves it, and it lets him examine my canvases at close range, and, best yet, even while lying down.
He still gets excited about his work:
And often offers unique perspectives in his critiques:
Maggie helps too. Her forte is wood-carving. She’s working on reshaping this stepstool:
I adopted Sparky as part of a pairâ€”two brothers I named Spartacus and Woodrow. Without meaning to slight Woody, I have to admit that early on Sparky was by far the more handsome of the two (though Woody did begin to blossom into a fine specimen of Tom-dom as the months passed). To balance things out, I decided I’d better give Sparky a “homely” middle name, and I chose Eugene (pronounced in the Russian way, you-GAIN-ee).
Now that Sparky’s older and broader in the beam and Woody has left us for fields of celestial catnip, a “homely” name doesn’t seem necessaryâ€”or even appropriate. My first thought was Gaylord, which was almost right. Almost, but not quite. Then it dawned on me: Gladstone.
Behold: Spartacus Gladstone Keeper. It suits him don’t you think?
On Saturday, as I was up in the loft marking papers, Melissa worked downstairs on the computer. I could hear the buzz of a droning narration going on below, punctuated by sudden snorts of laughter from Melissa. I set the paper I was working on aside, went to check out the fun, and arrived just in time for the yodeling bit. Enjoy!