Tag Archives: cats

witch wear, or, living the dream

Sophie has been making masks.

I love the individually cut feathers on the owl mask!  The wolf got a snout that I managed to miss in this photo, but its pretty awesome, all shaped and glued into place.  And drat, I couldn’t find the peacock mask, which is truly a shame because it is gorgeous.  I’m not sure where Sophie is getting the idea for these but I do know this: she is on a mission.  New masks have been appearing around the yurt every day for a week.

But perhaps the theme she is playing with is concealment and mystery, because what she really wanted was a cloak to go with the masks.  A big, swishy, black cloak with a pointy hood.  It was very specific.

Heck, said I,  now that we have a sewing machine, let’s make one! How’s that for instant gratification?  Three yards of cheap-o black fabric and we were in business:

We poked around on the internet for a pattern but nothing was quite right.  Finally we did a pattern mash-up, a circle cloak (I had to remember how to use pi to find a circumference from a radius for the neck line, whew, just barely managed it, couldn’t BELIEVE that after a bit of prodding my brain remembered that formula), with a squarish hood (for the pointed top, VERY important) slightly gathered to meet the neck, and she wanted a ragged hem for extra mystique.  I think it came out pretty well. Sophie did the sewing after I figured out the cutting and piecing.  Bottom line, she is pleased as all get out, wears her cloak everywhere now.  It’s like having my very own midget Nazgul.

Although I don’t think a Nazgul would be caught dead wearing these:

Five bucks yesterday for sparkly wizard sneakers, you can’t beat that! Sophie says they are Wizard of Oz shoes because in the book, the magic slippers are silver, not ruby red, and I’m down with that.  Literary references for the win!

But of course, to be really witchy and mysterious, you need a cat.

Mo-mo is only slightly willing to participate, but Sophie respects that.  A good familiar can’t be a push-over.

Although the cat is optional, and the various masks come and go, the cloak and  shoes are now permanently attached to my child.  I did make her take them off for sleep last night.  I don’t know the details of the story Sophie is living out inside herself as she wears her spooky, mysterious outfit day in day out, but I think its all pretty cool and it is my mission to help her do it.

An artist needs to be able to do her thing, I believe, free of bother and trouble of explaining her process to the rest of us.


Fancy, one of our goats, is due to have kids any day now.  She is HUGE.

In case you can’t see it, take a look at her from the front.

Poor baby can barely walk.  Her belly bulges out on either side like a Frank Lloyd Wright house, cantilevered, defying gravity.

I remember that feeling.

A friend of mine just had her second baby (Welcome Eamon! Congratulations Hannah!).  She sent me some pictures of herself, taken a few weeks ago, big as a planet and lovely.  How do we do it?  It’s so ridiculous!

I remember, too, those last days of waiting are full of nothing but thoughts about the coming baby.  If it rains you think, will I have the baby in the rain?  If you eat a sandwich you think, will this be the last thing I eat before I have this baby?  Every twinge, every discomfort—is this the start of labor?

I wonder if Fancy is considering any of these questions?  I doubt it.  This will be her second kidding—that’s what they call it in the goat world.  I like it, as if pregnancy is just a big joke.  (Which it is.)  Just kidding!  Fancy was raised away from her own Momma, which is, perhaps, why she had NO IDEA what was going on with her first kids.  I think she probably thought, Well! That was the biggest, weirdest poop I ever had! Took her awhile to figure out that the babies now on the hay around her, had anything to do with her at all.  Maybe this time she’ll be more clued in.  I hope?

My grandmother told me once that, heading into the hospital, seventeen and in labor with her first—this was the 1940s and she was married but it was a different time—she had no idea how the baby was going to come out.  Seriously!  She said she finally decided, waiting on the gurney for the doctor to arrive, that it must be through her mouth, because that was the only opening she figured big enough for a baby to fit through.  She also said she had spent the last two months locked up in the sweltering house, wishing she could go outside and be in the breeze (no air conditioning back then) but she couldn’t because she was pregnant.  Huh? I said.  Back then, she explained, pregnant ladies didn’t go about, being seen.  It wasn’t proper.  “I was in my confinement,” she said.  “It just wasn’t spoken of.  Things were different then.”

No kidding!

(Ar, ar, ar.)

Poor Fancy is in her confinement, too.  Confined to the ground and a small circle around the hay bin.  She can’t get up on the milking stand to eat her grains anymore so we feed her by hand.  I keep going out to check on her—mostly she lies in the dirt, her little legs sticking out from her belly like she’s a bug on it’s back—but no signs yet.  If you put your hand on her sides, you can feel small hooves and heads moving around in there, fighting for space.  How many has she got in there? We’ll find out soon.

But for now, the waiting.

Emmie, one of the last babies to be born to another of our goats, has no idea that anything is up.  She spends her days springing off the sides of the goat barn (she’s going to tear it down one of these days, I just know it) and playing with her friend Mochi.  Mochi tries to attack and scratch, that’s playing to a cat, and Emmie tries to butt.  Somehow, they get along great.

I wonder what Emmie’ll think of the kids?

See, now I’m doing it and they aren’t even my babies coming.  Stay tuned for a birth report.  Wish Fancy luck and an easy labor….

love kitty

Our sweet little kitten is not so little any more. Boy cats started showing up at night. Paul even caught one guy peeing on our front door. Eww. The time had come. It was time to get Mochi fixed.

But when I called my old vet, I about fell off my chair when they quoted a price of $400 bucks to do it! $400 dollars! Holy cow! Oh no, I though. We’ll have to give her away. But then the very nice nurse lowered her voice and gave me the phone number of a ‘mobile unit’ and, still shell shocked, I wrote the number down and called. Yep, turns out an enterprising vet has set up a surgical unit in an RV and drives around to various towns doing low cost spay and neuter services, cash only, no kidding. $70. Wow. I signed our girl up on the spot.

Now, if it were me being fixed, I sure would hope that my owner would spring for the deluxe spa vet and not the chop shop, assembly line, RV surgery. But, no. Sorry Mochie. It’s the RV for you.

But really, the people I spoke with were extremely professional, streamlined, and competent (they seemed very competent, anyway—how would I really know?). The vet herself did have a lip piercing, which isn’t what one expects, but then, the whole operation seemed innovative and out there, so why not? Bye, Mochi, see you in a few hours….

She’s fine, by the way, has been home for several days.

They fixed (as if they were broken) 34 critters that day in the RV, including a half-dozen feral cats that had been caught in traps, poor babies, they were so freaked out. 34! I wonder which number Mochi was? I hope not one of the 30+.

But here’s the thing I noticed. Around 6pm, we, the owners, were all pulling up outside the RV to pick up our pets, parking our cars in the mud and standing around in the cold. There’s a big sign on the RV that says “DO NOT DISTURB!!” and so, of course, no one is going to touch that door because maybe some kitty gets jabbed the wrong way with a scalpel or something, but it’s so cold and we’re all sinking into the mud, and they were running behind because of the whole 34 thing, and still, everyone was smiling.

I mean, this was an occasion of extreme waiting where one would expect to see many grumpy people. Increasingly grumpy people. But nope. There were well dressed people on their cell phones, country people in their overalls, suburban people with their kids, older people hobbling in with canes, all sorts, and we were all smiling at each other, genuinely relaxed, and it would seem, open hearted.

I think it was because of the pets. We were there to get our babies. As each carrier was brought out and discharged, the person would accept the groggy cat with sweet little mutterings and cooing and putting fingers through the carrier grill, all smiling and apologetic about the whole drugging-you-and-taking-your-organs thing. It was so sweet to see each person open up to their critter! Parents in doctor’s offices waiting on kids are rarely as sweet as we all were with our pets. It was like the scene at the end of “Love, Actually” where people are getting greeted by their families at the airport, faces open and happy (which is rarely what I have experienced in real life airports, even in the receiving areas, but that scene is awesome, and just how it should be). I guess our animals have the power to cut right through the crap in our personalities and get a pass directly into our hearts. I think that is so cool. That there would be one area in life, one’s pet, where one’s heart stays open, no matter what. What a gift!

They handed me the carrier and I was so happy to see her. And what a sweetie, she start purring as soon as she sees me and licks my finger, even though she’s just been through, basically, an alien abduction scenario of the worst kind. What a love muffin.

(Here she is sleeping off her pain meds in one of her favorite spots, Chez Cardboard Box.)

I never would have thought waiting an hour in the muddy, cold, dark would have been pleasant, even enjoyable, but it was, like we were all getting presents we really wanted.

Which I guess we were.

mochi swims!

It’s a walk of a couple minutes to our pond. Lately, Mochi the Barn Cat has been coming with us.

The first time she came, we were worried that she would wander off and get lost, but she stayed right with us, and now she comes along almost every day.

It’s a lovely little walk, from bright sun, to deep shade, then through the woods and up the hill….

To the dock!

This actually isn’t our dock—it’s our wonderful neighbor’s dock. They graciously encourage us to use it, which is fantastic, not just because it’s an awesome dock, but because our section of the pond has nada but a bit of knee deep sludge to wade through in order to get to the sweet, clear pond water at the center.

Mochi likes the dock, too.

She also likes to freak me out by stretching out on the top step of the ladder, the better to watch us swim.

Yesterday, however, she realized my fears.

She fell in.

No pictures for that one, as I was in the water. From a distance I saw her stretch, slip, and splash. I dove for the dock, swimming as fast I could, not knowing if she would sink, prepared to brave scratches from a frantic thrashing kitten in order to save her tiny furry butt—but she kitty paddled for a second and then scrambled back up onto the dock, saving herself before I could reach her. Poor baby, she was this dripping, shaking, rat-thing. I got there just as she slunk off under the bench to lick the pond water out of her fur.

I was so impressed with her, though! Was it all instinct? As far as I know she’s never had swimming lessor or anything. I suppose staying alive is a powerful motivator.

By the time we were heading home, Mochi was dry and fluffy from her pond bath, apparently unscarred by her experience. I’m guessing she won’t hang out on the ladder anymore, but who knows? We’ll find out later today.

A girl, a boy, and their kitten. A kitten, her boy, and her girl….


We got the kitten, which has been tentatively named Turtle, to the barn! She seems to be going through a total personality transformation, from semi-feral fear ball, to bouncy happy runs-up-to-meet-us fluffy cakes. She’s downright…kittenish! And she’s out of the junk heap and into the goat barn, where, as I predicted, she seems much happier.


The goats are TERRIFIED of her! Fancy in particular. You haven’t lived until you have watched a fifty pound goat go totally apeshit trying to get away from five ounces of kitten. Fancy peeks her goaty head out of the stall, wide eyed, turning this way and that, her nostrils going crazy as she tries to track the little fluffy ball bouncing all around the place. Did I mention we made a kitten toy out of a clown nose, some string, and a stick? She loves it. But anyway, Fancy simply will not step one foot out of her side of the barn, even with me pulling on her collar as hard as I can, not for anything. Not even sunflower seeds, her favorite. NO WA-A-A-A, she insists. There is a mad BE-E-E-AST in there who wants to E-E-EAT me! And then the kitten bounces over and Fancy rears up, frantically trying to get her hooves away, flailing around like the insane-o goat she is. It would be hilarious if it didn’t mean I can’t get her on the milkstand without Paul picking her up and putting her there, which she hates.

It’s a work in progress.

And it isn’t like I don’t understand. I feel exactly the same way about cockroaches. But still.

I totally did not see this coming.

here we go again

About a week ago, Paul heard a squeaky sound coming from somewhere outside and traced it in the dark to a tiny black kitten, hiding in our storage heap shed.

“No, no, no!” I said, when he reported back. “Absolutely not!”

It wasn’t that long ago that I was hanging out with poor old Chopper while he died. He was the last of the five cats, a (very) young momma cat and her four kittens, that I took in when I was in my early twenties. After Chopper went, along with his fleas, I swore I was not doing that again, at least not for a while. A long while. It’s all great and fun when they are tiny cute things, but it is freaking HARD when they get old, and are dying, and are breaking my heart. “Besides,” I said to Paul, voice tinged with hysteria, “I’ve got enough to deal with, enough people I’m taking care of, and you know the care and feeding of this cat will fall to me, you know it will! I’m not doing it!”

Remember the first time they showed Bob from Twin Peaks? If you watched that show, you know the moment, I think it was in the first ep, the moment when the crazy mother of Laura Palmer remembers her dead daughter’s room, and then suddenly remembers the face, Bob’s face, the man Laura thought was sneaking into her room and raping her for years—a strange man’s face in her dead daughter’s room, where no face should be! They show the room in the mother’s mind, and there is nothing strange, it’s empty, no one is there, what’s the big deal? And then you see it again, panning through her memory of the clutter of a teenaged girl’s room, panning, panning—

—and then Whammo! A barely visible face pops out of the gloom—it was there, but you didn’t see it before—and it’s staring right at you, out from under a freaking desk, oh my god, where did that face come from??? The mother’s mental breakdown when she realizes it is so creepy. I couldn’t think about that scene for YEARS after I saw it, and never never at night, never think of that moment at night, never because there could be a face in my very own room, no no no, don’t think of it—

[Crap, I just spent way too much time trying to find a screencap of that moment, but no go. I may try some more later, now it’s like a vendetta, or maybe some post-traumatic-stress-disorder healing opportunity for me.]

Anyway, here is the Bob shot of the new kitten…

kitten 1.jpg

Can you see her face in the gloom under the pallet? Only instead of terrifying, she is terrified. Her little tail is just quivering and she keeps darting back under the pallet and generally looking as Pitiful as is Kittenly Possible.

[What the heck, you may be asking yourself, was all that Bob stuff? Maybe it is my fear of kittens, and their Alarming Cuteness, looming large and making connections where no connections ought to exist. But if you saw that moment, you’ll know that the bob-kitten shot is just exactly like the bob-twin-peaks moment. I swear it.]

[And how, you may also be asking, do we know it’s a girl, if she won’t let us near? Apparently, according to Paul, there are no boy cats with black, orange, and white fur. It’s like, a rule. Who knew?]

Here the kitten is again, sneaking out to get some food, which she finally started eating, her terror and brain numbing panic subsiding just enough to let her emerge from the labyrinth of junk to get a bite or two before dashing back for cover.


So, yes. I fed her. Bob-Demon-Kitten that I know she is. Drat her nefarious plan to soften my heart! Yes, she is this tiny, cute, terrified ball of fluff. Yes, I carried her food and talked to her panicked meows for three days before she would come out far enough to eat. These photos come after days of coaxing and tempting…. Yes, she now comes out when she hears me coming. Yes, she is taming me as much as I am reluctantly taming her. Yes, yes, yes.


And now that the kitten will come out, ever so hesitantly, to eat, Sophie will sit perfectly still on a bucket for thirty minutes, talking to the kitten, telling her what a wonderful life she will have living in our goat barn (if we can ever coax her there—it really would be much nicer for her than the junk shed), and how she will have lovely goatie friends, and fresh goat milk, and lots and lots of mice to catch, if only she will trust us, because we are really very nice and don’t want to hurt her….

I guess we have a cat.


How could this have happened? I was so sure I would be strong and say no! I was going to Put My Foot Down.

I’m such a wimp.


When I turned twenty I got a cat, Annabelle, and her daughter Henrietta. Annabelle promptly got preggo and had kittens, all but two of which I kept. For a while there, I had a lot of cats.

For the past several years, though, I just had one, Choplicker, the oldest and strongest of Annabelle’s second (and last) litter. He died last night. He was fifteen.

Here he is a week old:


I named him Choplicker because when he was this size, he used to wake me up by climbing up onto my chest and licking my face. It got shortened to Chopper, and Choppo, and Chops. The kitty in the picture behind Chopper is Goober. The two of them used to romp the house, chasing each other up and down the stairs like squirrels.

Chopper was a Mighty Hunter, bringing us rats, mice, moles, and frogs (his special favorite). He was a loner after Goober died, and hated to be picked up, but if I was sitting, reading, he would come curl up in my lap and purr. He loved to eat–swelled up like a basketball stealing his Mama’s food for a while (luckily he trimmed back down to his hunter physique after Annabelle and her fancy food were gone). He would sleep on the bed at night, a heavy log taking up all the space and making it impossible for the lowly humans to roll over. When he drank water, he would spread his legs far apart and splash his paw in. He often splashed water right out of the toilet into puddles on the floor, like he was trying to catch a fish. Maybe this is how he caught the frogs.

He was very sick all this past week, and didn’t eat or drink the last few days. I’m glad he went on–he was feeling pretty bad the last day, and I hated for him to suffer.  I miss him terribly, especially as he was the last of the cats.

Here is how I will remember him:


Bye, Choppo. We love you.