Well, it’s going to be above zero today – at least the still temperature. Wind chills remain in the -30s, so if you go out, you might want to slip a coat on, and maybe even zip it up…
We are at the time in our lives right now when there are no babies in the house. As much as Cheri would love to see the boys all settled with brides of their own, and to have little feet and little hands all over everything, and little voice yelling “Grandma!” it just is not that time. Also, I think the whole CoVid garbage has really added to it. So, if you have any young ladies in your life who might be interested in meeting two of the simply nicest, and wittiest, and talented and intelligent guys around, who have been well trained to treat the woman in their live with respect and cherishing (just look how they treat their mother…), give me a call, and maybe we can work up a play date or something.
So, with no babies, no toddlers, no children of any kind, I can admit, however, that we do have a replacement for them. Cats. Strange, weird, goofy, crazy cats. We got this set in the spring of 2006, so all three of them are coming up on 15 years old. You might think that their four-legged lives would be lived with maturity, elegance and class as this point. I mean, in human years, they are 76 years old. Most 76 year olds I know are at least fairly settled, although I must admit there are some that would never fit that description – and you know who you are, don’t you?
And it is true that, since these three are not in the wild, and don’t have to spend 80% of their time hunting for a meal – they can just toddle over to the all-day, all-night food station – they probably do spend about 80% of their time sleeping, everywhere from cat beds to the top of sofas to chairs to sunny carpets, to even a cardboard box that Hermes likes to sleep in, but makes him look like a poor hobo homeless cat..
When they are sleeping, they are adorable, sweet cats – the kind they make statues and little oil paintings about. When they are awake, however, it’s a different story. Still sweet, but screwy as the day is long!
Phoenix, our female, was once described by the veterinarian as the B.O.C. – Big Orange Cat. A realtor once came in the house, looked at her and asked, “Pregnant? Or Fat?” The truth is, she is a physically huge cat, before you add in the penchant for cat food. Her brother Hermes is also pretty large, but is an elf compared to Pheeny. Her size, however, does not belie an equally large brain. I think when they went shopping for this model, they splurged on the paws and the tail, and scrimped on the gray matter. Just saying that she may have spent a little too long in the birth canal. As witty and smart as her brother is, she is… a very pretty cat, but sometimes…
She has learned some tricks over the years, of course. When she heads for the food dish, the other two cats have learned to simply back away, and let Her Majesty eat all she wants first. The sheer bulk creates a formidable form that will not get messed with. She also will stand either at the top of the stairs, if she wants to go downstairs, or at the bottom, when she wants to be upstairs, and simply howl and moan and cry until one of the boys races to her rescue and gives her an “elevator,” as we like to call it. Heaven forbid that she get some exercise…
Thor is our “brother from another mother.” We know he is not a purebred, since he was a shelter cat before that phrase was popular, but from his looks and mannerisms, he is 99.99% Siamese. We ended up with him, in part, because he simply refused to go back in the cage at the vets. Today, he probably weighs about 1/3 Pheeny’s weight, which is ok for a cat of his nature. Thor will always find the highest point possible in any room to sleep on. In fact, it’s been interesting over the years, as we have moved from house to house, that he would find a sleeping place above the kitchen cabinets. This has been fine, except for the homes we have lived in, in which the space above the cabinets have been closed off with sheetrock. It takes a few times, where we watch pretty much in horror, as Thor will leap with all his might up sometimes 10 feet in the air, only to come in contact with a wall, instead of an opening. Then, like Icarus falling to the earth after his wings melted, Thor drops like a rock. He eventually catches on.
I must say that Thor owns Cheri. This is mostly the case because she always provide a warm lap, even while she is in front of her computer, trying to work. We will often see a little gray head poking up over the table. At about 9pm every night, Thor will come downstairs, and start fussing and talking to Cheri. Only her – you see, it’s time for bed, and his little cat alarm says it’s time at that moment. There are legs to sleep on with lots of soft and warm covers.
That takes us to Hermes. As orange as his sister is, he is a more “tawny” color, with white paws and chest. He’s actually a very pretty cat, and he likes to be involved in most everything we do. He always sleeps in the spot in the living room where he can see both the upstairs bedrooms, the front door and the stairs leading from the basement. Especially whenever the boy raise themselves up from downstairs, he is awake and crying to be patted and talked with, and perhaps given some cheese.
The cat loves cheese. And tuna. And anything with a malty flavor, like chocolate chip cookies or even pancakes. Have you ever had to go out into the garage to open a new packet of cheese, or a can of tuna? The cat can be sound asleep – no movement – and 1.2 seconds into opening a package, the cat is under your feet, meowing and begging. I’m not a fan, but it’s amazing how often it works. He also has his own set of toys, including plastic easter eggs, and large rubber bands, that he will find, and bring over to your feet, drop them down, and expect you to throw them in a game of catch. This he developed all by himself. It really is hilarious to be watching tv downstairs, and hear awful cries and howling that’s kind of muted, and then watch as Hermes comes down the stairs with a rubber band in his mouth, tripping on it as he makes his way to drop at your feet.
Hermes is also, unfortunately, our night owl. Now, I know cats are nocturnal, but Hermes wants everyone up if he is up. Last night, around 1am, something clicked in him, and he started running. You would think a little cat would just glide across the carpet, unseen and unheard. Not so much – at that time of the night, it sounds like Hannibal taking his elephants out for a run. From one end of the house to the other, he pounded and raced, getting to the door of different rooms, and deciding he didn’t want to go in there, and so stopping, leaping high in the air, turning around and running back to where he was. It would be irritating if it weren’t so stinking funny! Of course, at 8:30am, when the world is up, Hermes is comfortable settled in his cat bed, warm and saving up for the next hullabaloo to start.
If you have an animal in your home, that you care about at all, I’m sure you have your own descriptions and stories of craziness. Instead of a column, it could be a book. Whatever kind of pet, they become an opportunity to love and dote and cherish, and care for, which is a wonderful part of our human nature. Now, I know there are folks who simply don’t want pets, or can’t care for them, and I would not criticize. I just know that throughout my life, from the time we got our dachshund Fritz at my age of one month, until today, four-leggers have been part, not of our home, but of our family itself. That’s my intention, at least, and I hope it lasts for many more years to come. Have a great day, and if you have a pet – love them much.
Word for the Day: badinage. Pronounced BAD-in-aj. It’s a great word that is rarely used. It rolls down through the French to the Latin. The root Latin word is badare, which means “to gape or yawn.” However, the word is far more interesting that that one. The verb next higher is badinir which means “to jest or joke,” with the adjective badin, which is “silly, or foolish.” To badinage is to engage in a joking conversation, or playful banter. It’s usually mutual, or else it’s just making fun of another person. It takes a quick wit, and the ability to receive as well you give, to be in badinage with someone else. We also all know when sometimes, as we are bantering and joking, that someone will say something that crosses the line from mild teasing, to meanness. Then the badinage is over, at least for a while. You must have a good heart and a sense of honest restraint to just go far enough to make the other person laugh, and not cry. Otherwise, you are just a bully.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.