The curse of the cat people

Hello

On a recent rainy Sunday I had the occasion to drop by the International Cat show appearing at a local motor hotel.

This wasn’t my first time at this particular Holiday Inn.  It’s the place this crazy city chooses to put on some of the cheaper and more tacky events. I had last been here several years ago, for a bad art show and this day, this rainy Sunday reminded me of bad art.

M.M and I with teenage daughter in tow arrived about noon or so.  The parking lot was packed, but by the grace of the good parking lot fairy, a miracle in the form of a departing minivan left a gap and MM masterfully grabbed it.  I took this as a sign of good fortune in this year of the dragon and as soon as we landed I hydroplaned across the slick parking lot and almost ran right into a red VW bus full of hippies and cat people.

This I took as a sign of my utter stupidity and it wasn’t until I heard the frantic mewing that I stopped in my tracks….what was that?  I listened, MM listened and so did our daughter…The parking lot was full of frantic cat cries…”Is that where the losers go?”  Back to a locked car and who knows what?

After passing several nervous smokers we finally hit the front gate and into the show proper.  We received our ballots with instructions on the voting.  The winning cat gets 1000 bucks.. what does a cat do with 1000 dollars? I did not know until I saw it…..

What is it?  Good question.  It is a scene of utter foolishness and fools parting with their money.  Rows upon rows of kitty condo cages crammed together, all customized I guess, according to each cat’s personality. Some of the cages proudly displayed an elaborate ribbon or two declaring their superiority. In each deluxe luxury unit lie a cat, flaked out and asleep surrounded by an array of cat accessories the likes I have never seen.  These cats were tired and worn-out like overdone starlets sleeping it off in the lap of luxury. Who knows how long before they end up frantically mewing in a locked car in the parking lot out there with the others.

 Just keep those ribbons coming Fluffy…… 

The owners of the cats seemed to be living quite a different life. Many of them hovered around their charge, eyeing each other and everyone who came near, seeing them as a potential threat. Don’t even think about trying to pet a cat.  That is a strict no-no to the nth degree.

Never under any circumstances should you ever attempt to make any physical contact with any of the cat contestants.

This is the supreme sin in cat shows and we were reminded of that constantly.

Most of the cat owners were middle-aged women wearing ugly cat shirts and nervous stressed out faces.  Many of them were eating foul-smelling chinese takeout that seemed to mix with the odor of cats to create an atmosphere I will never quite get over or explain.

Every few minutes or so an annoying man with a microphone and a raspy voice would cut through the roar of the crowd and shout out a number, calling up the next contestant.  A harried backstage mother/owner would then jump up, frantically brush the cat and rush up to the stage while warning the onlookers out of the way by repeating over and over:

 “Make room for people holding cats, make room for people holding cats.”

Pity the poor spectator who got in the way; these women meant business. I hate to admit it but some of them made me a wee bit nervous, especially the big ones.

I made my way past the harried and through the endless rows of cages to view and perhaps meet with a few contestants.  Some of the more ambitious ones were out stirring up the crowd and posing for pictures.

We toured the entire circuit and I was afraid that I wouldn’t find a cat worthy of my vote for the 1000 dollar prize.

It was the high-pitched squeals that first alerted me, the kind some little girls and some bigger ones make upon presentation of something so unbelievably cute, and how…I joined the chorus of girly oohs and aahs as soon as I spied the cutest kitten there has ever been in all kittenkind. I realize the seriousness in that statement and I’m telling you cat lovers out there that it’s true and anyone in attendance would definitely agree.  This kitten in all its kitten glory with its soft fuzzy spotted fur let out a silent mew that literally drove one woman to tears.

“I wasn’t ready for such cuteness.” she exclaimed as her wary boyfriend looked on.

This was one of the more surreal moments that will stick in my mind for some time to come. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it strange, I did. It was that I completely understood and was feeling a bit overwhelmed myself. The kitten was that cute. It was so cute that I neglected to take a picture of it. It was at that very moment that confirmed what I have really known all along…

These are my people..I am one of these cat people…..

I broke out of the crowd and made my way to the very back.  Littered along the edges were tables with various vendors selling their various cat trinkets for various sums of money that seemed all too much for me.  I visited each table and exhibit feigning interest and looking like a potential sap.

I stopped and watched a woman spinning yarn out of cat fur.  She seemed nice and quite normal except for the fact that she was making cat yarn.  She told me about the ups and downs of the day and how no one seemed to be buying her sweaters…

 yes… cat fur sweaters….

I politely excused myself by mumbling something about the world’s tallest cat and how I must find it. After all it was the headliner….

The world’s tallest cat! Wow!

I wandered around until I found the biggest crowd. It took some doing to get inside the circle and see what all the fuss was about. I ended up crawling under everyone but it was worth it because there it was!  The world’s tallest cat!  It resembled a smallish cheetah and it looked bored.  I couldn’t fully appreciate its incredible tallness because it was sitting down.  I crawled along the very ugly carpet and snapped a few pics… I’m glad I did because then suddenly my camera went buggy and refused to take anymore pictures.  This was terrible…At a cat show?!

I must admit now that I came here not exclusively because of my love for cats.  I came here to find weird-looking cats and take pictures of them so I could write about the weirdness. Now fate forced me to slow down and realize that I had yet to find a really strange-looking cat, most appeared pretty normal and even the one’s with the squished faces were sort of appealing.

We had about exhausted the place anyway and we all admitted that we were eager to leave to get home to our own cats…Mario, the black and white  and Sunny, the Calico.  They are the winners in my book and I give my vote to the both of them.  Too bad that doesn’t win the $1000………

Mario catnapping

Have a purrfect day full of catnip and naps.

Strawberryindigo.

A Fool in the Rain

Night rain 2

Let’s set the scene:  Here I am tapping away on my laptop, tip tap hunt peck yak yak and then…..Blackout.  Everything goes dark and I am left sitting by laptop light.  I light a few scented candles and continue my tapping..just in mid tap I hear a muffled guffaw followed by a high-pitched squeal…

I run to the open window and peer out, and what do my wondering eyes find?

Two lone figures in dark hoodies setting the bus stop on fire….well not the bus stop, exactly, but a pile of trash next to the bus stop.  They whooped and hollered and pranced around the tiny fire, feeding it bits of trash to keep it going in the dark breeze.  I had to laugh as one of them started to do a little dance.

This is the kind of incident typical of my crazy neighborhood, during a blackout, really anytime.  I enjoy these times as best I can and  I try to see the lighter side of whatever life throws my way.  This time it is two ghouls with a fire.

Soon I grow restless and decide to drum up some of my own fun in the dark…I retreat to the backyard and into the garden. I find comfort here in the dark, in the garden at night.

 The moon is full and bright tonight.  It hangs high above me. Ripples and streams of of indigo clouds drift past.  I take a deep breath and drink it all in….

The screams of the ghouls have died away and are replaced with nothing. A silence that is totally remarkable in its unremarkableness. I savor this silence.  My mind starts to wander as I drift through the tall cool grass. 

And it makes me wonder…As a Led Zep tune fills the night air. How fleeting silence can be..it was then the rain came on and picked up like a riot. I stood under it and just soaked it up..A fool in the rain. I stood there a few minutes more, at first feeling quite proud of my new-found “eccentricity” and then as the soaking continued I really started feeling the fool. I sloshed inside before anyone could notice…

My thoughts returned to my two “friends” the hooded ghouls and their what became of their little fire. I smiled as I thought of the cloudburst raining on their parade. I looked out the window once more and found that the ghouls were long gone, just a pile of wet debris left behind told the tale.

Just as well..One fool in the rain is enough, add to ghouls and now there’s three fools in the rain….and how was your night?

Strawberryindigo.

Goodbye Summer

Goodbye summer. It was nice to get to know you during the time we had together.  I always look forward to your visits and I’m reluctant to let you go.  It has always been that way with us.  You blowing into town and me eagerly anticipating your arrival.  We have such a short time together and then you are gone just like that. I am left alone by the telephone and I know you won’t call me, or even send me an e-mail.

I know  by now I should expect this but every time you leave it seems a bit abrupt and I’m left with the feeling that I’m being used.  You breeze in and you stick around never paying a dime in rent.  Then you leave again.  You say; “It’s business baby.”

But why all the way across the world?  Are you spreading your sunshine all over someplace else? Is some other hemisphere going to get your love?  Say it isn’t so, summer.  I thought we meant something to each other.   Those long walks we’d have along the beach, the plans and dreams we had for the future.

This time I thought it would be different, but there you go again….

GOODBYE SUMMER.

Strawberryindigo.

And here’s to you, Mr. Starbucks

I must confess; at one time I was a latte whore.  I didn’t care where I got it or how I got It, as long as I got my Chai latte.  It is a weakness of mine that I enjoy, this love for Chai latte; it was love at first sip and its been going strong for a few years.

At first it was a no-brainer; there was no question as to where to get this coveted drink of mine..Starbucks.  This is the place for me, I decided.  It’s a bit corporate, but so what? I know what I’m getting there.

At Starbucks everyone seems so upwardly mobile, so cute in their colorful new clothes..people with jobs and busy lives.  Even the slackers types were busy clicking away with the free Wi Fi.  Everyone was happy and smiled and were friendly.  I guess that is easy to do when you have a job and extra money for fancy coffees.

I like the music in Starbucks, they play all types.  It is the only place where I will hear old jazz tunes from the 40’s my eclectic taste perks to attention on that….Billie Holiday and caffeine?  What more do you want?

We started to frequent a particular one, M.M. and I.  It seemed the lattes were extra good over there.   Frothy and creamy with a swirl of spicy…I am in Latte heaven!

One bright late summer morning last year something happened that at first didn’t seem so bad but then as time went on it got worse.  What I am talking about here doesn’t  sound so bad until you’ve lived it…I really don’t want to offend anyone by what I say.  Especially this group of people but in order I tell my story I must…

I can’t put it any other way than this; It was the cops.  We would walk in and there they were, a pack of them. At first I thought; cool, I have always thought of the police as people too, and I have always appreciated the risks they take everyday for us.  I am not a criminal, I have no record and I should have nothing to fear from the police. They are brave men and women who serve and protect……….but quite the suspicious bunch.

 I felt it right away.  I looked at them as people, they looked at me like a criminal.  I am really very harmless looking, I bet most of them could take me in a fight.  It’s obvious.  So I am surprised when one looks at me like a potential threat.  I suppose they are trained to  be like that, and it’s probably necessary in their book.  But I can’t help but be uncomfortable. 

It is this reason why they are a “they” and everyone else, including the criminals and me are: “We.”  It is also the reason we tried a new place down the street; A laid-back appearing hippie type establishment by the name of Tom and Mary’s.  A picture of Tom and Mary graced the sign out front, they looked so nice.. I liked them instantly, even before we met.  There was tie-dye everywhere and plastic chairs to sit on.  The inside looked like the outside but I thought; so what. 

No more cops and no more corporate guilt.  I am on the edge now, part of the anti establishment crowd …. A latte revolutionist!  Aha!

It was a bit downhill after that though; Tom appeared at least twenty years older in person than he did on the sign.  He didn’t smile or even look at us at all.  He muttered at us while Mary made the lattes.  She wasn’t much friendlier.  M.M.’s attempts at some sort of witty banter with her fell flat.  We could tell she didn’t take fools gladly. Mary was not the laid back hippie princess on the sign, she was a mean old witch.  Yikes!  The lines on her face told the story.

The place was empty and silent as a tomb.   A pimply toucan faced man with a tiny little dog walked in and chatted it up with Tom and Mary who, apparently liked him better than us.  I got the impression that this place didn’t cotton to outsiders who looked like Starbucks people.  I think it was my purple lipstick and Prada bag but I didn’t feel a part of the whole groove anymore.. My dreams of being a revolutionist dashed, I sighed and tried the drink.  It was good, I wanted it to be damn awful, I wanted to spit it out and run back to Starbucks. right then and there. 

We went back a couple of times but could no longer stand it. I am glad to say we returned to  the corporate giant and then I understood the reason for some of their success.  A Smile. The people at Starbucks seemed friendlier and happier. We told those kind people of our ordeal and they welcomed us back with open arms.

And the cops?  They seemed friendlier and happier too.  And different.  Two lady cops at the back booth last time.  I secretly drank a toast to justice and lattes and the two ladies in blue totally ignored us.

Have an excellent day!

Strawberryindigo.

 

Blue eyed handsome cat

Have you ever met someone who just appeared in your life, as if out of thin air and acted like they knew you forever.  It’s like they we’re just sort of deposited on your front porch and poof…They’d always been there?  Well, with Jacky it’s like that.  I guess I should let you know that Jacky is a cat.  A remarkable cat, that’s for sure.

We first met him on the third of July.  He impressed me by his friendliness, he seemed to really like us.  He made M.M. his first acquaintance, which is not surprising. what was so surprising was his intensity.  At that time, we of course did not have a name for him, or even knew he was an him.  Let’s call him “that cat” for now.

I will give him this; he is an attractive animal, that cat.  He is white with  honey cream-colored markings on this head and tail.  His bright azure eyes truly are striking.  He makes quite the picture.

We had just returned from a much-needed vacation.  We were away for five days. He must have appeared on the scene during that time.  It was late afternoon and my nerves were on edge.  Sudden booms, it’s like World War Three around there on the third of July. I needed a distraction…and there he was, a shock of white, running across the street away from the crazy neighbors screeching kid.  He looked scared out of his wits.  I knew I must help him.

I enlisted the help of M.M..  We braved the artillery together (How sweet)  M.M. sang out “Here, Kitty, Kitty…”  The cat looked at him and ran to him for dear life, not even slowing a bit to look behind him.  M.M. scooped him up like it was nothing and the cat instantly relaxed.  We took him inside.

Luckily, It being the day it was.  Our two cats who off hiding in the bushes nowhere to be found.  And except for the old pug, there was no other animal around to make the cat feel unwelcome.

It's nap time

The humans adored him instantly.  My daughter, who is thirteen and a devout cat lover, squealed in delight.  My son, who’s a bit older, was a little cooler about the cats appearance, but  I could tell he was intrigued. I being who I am, knew that the cat was new in the neighborhood.  We asked around and one of our saner neighbors told us the cat had been hanging around for days,  everyone had a name for her, (He thought the cat was a her)  but no one wanted her.  His own kids wanted the cat but he was allergic, he suggested I keep her.  Knowing what a sucker I am for cats.

We fed him friskies and he was ours.

He slept for days, waking only to eat and drink water out of the bathroom tap.  I guess he’s one of those, I’d seen cats like that before.  I had one once that was fascinated by water, couldn’t get enough of it…it was the first of his many quirks that time would reveal.  The days passed without a lot going on.  My crazy neighbors were out-of-town and a calm descended over the ‘hood.

The four of us deliberated during that time and my son came up with Jack Daniels, yes he did…  To me, he looked like a Jacky.  We settled on Jacky, Daniels being his official last name, told to those on a need to know basis.(aka his friends at school.)

Our two cats were suspicious to say the least.  Mario didn’t know what was going on.  I know he felt bad.  He just sulked for days, sleeping under the desk in the office.  Poor Mario.  Sunny, or as she is known; Santino, kept her cool and out-of-the-way.

Everything started to return to normal. Mario perked up and Santino stayed herself. The crazy neighbors had returned, I could hear them screaming, as I said, everything was returning to normal.  Except for one thing.  I could hear a voice… it was….”Here Kitty Kitty, Here Lucky”  Who’s Lucky?  I thought and dismissed it from my mind.

Jacky stayed out all night, we didn’t see him all morning and then…the screetching, the kids.. it’s all happening again… And there’s Jacky, a shock of white running away from the crazy neighbor’s kid and right toward me.  I scooped him up and stroked his fur.  He was freaked out, poor thing and he was hungry, he ate, drank the water from the leaky tap and settled in to sleep.

This might become a problem, I thought… I was right.

The next morning while I was watering my roses, the crazy neighbor’s much older kid, let’s call her Sally, comes up to me and asks me if I’ve been feeding that white cat.  I reply without beating an eyelash, “You mean the cat we adopted?”  She looked as stern as you can be and I must admit, I was a bit scared.  She’s a bigger girl than I am.  Plus I’m a big chicken.  This did not show though, I’m good at that.  I didn’t know what happened to her. (her again)  She breaks out in a fragment of a sentence.  I return a fragment myself..

It was one word.  Turmoil.  “What”?  She asks, confused.  I yell, “Turmoil!!  And walk away.. this could get ugly.  I start to regret taking the cat in and then I think…He is counting on me to save him from them.   I must help him.  The cute little guy with his charming debonair smile.  I can’t let him down….

Stay tuned for the conclusion….

next time

next cat channel.

Strawberryindigo.