Every year I write a Holiday Newsletter and send it with my holiday cards. As newsletters go, mine isn’t very useful; it doesn’t, for example, describe the highlights of the year. Actually, I usually focus on a single low point of my year, just to counter-balance all the highlights you’ll read about in other people’s newsletters. Or it’s simply random—the “secret Santa” of holiday newsletters, you might say.
This year I was stumped for awhile finding a topic. Amazing as this may seem, I didn’t do anything particularly humiliating in 2012. So I asked my kids for some ideas, and my daughter Lindsay gave me the idea for this newsletter. Normally this thing goes to a very small, understanding audience, but as a special treat I’ve decided to extend my Holiday Newsletter to my extended albertnet “family.” Please just don’t quit after the first paragraph … either read two or more paragraphs or skip the whole thing.
Holiday Newsletter - 2012
I’ll start by saying I’m very happy for this newsletter—it’s nice to be given my say. So ... what can I report? Things are pretty good. Sure, they could be better. Running and jumping aren’t nearly as easy as they used to be. I’m getting old. At least I’ve still got my looks. And I’ve got shelter and warmth, a fine family, and the food is good. It’s exactly the same food I’ve been getting my entire life, but I still just love it! I only wish there were more of it, and I didn’t have to wait so long. I keep telling them, “Now! Now! Now! Now!” but they never seem to listen. They often talk back but never actually hurry.
For awhile there things were better than ever. I’m thinking back to the long-ago cold stretch, around the time we got the previous ornament tree, when the man was in bed all the time. We lounged around together constantly. I had to watch out for one of his legs—he’d yowl like crazy whenever I stepped on it. I could never keep straight which leg it was. The other thing is, several times a day the man would suddenly start growling and sometimes yowling, and then he’d go for this odd food he kept right next to the bed. It rattled like my crunchies, but didn’t smell like anything I’d want to eat. But he’d only eat one, and he never chewed. Then he’d quiet down again. But right about the time they got rid of the tree, he stopped eating the crunchies, telling the woman, “If I don’t knock this off I’ll end up an obese misogynist with my own hit radio show!” (I don’t know what this meant but it made the woman laugh.)
Anyway, it was a grand time being in bed with him all day, but I got worried after awhile. He often didn’t even get up to use his litter box (or litter bowl, whatever they call it). The woman brought him all his food … were his active days over? I missed hunting with him: he likes to pick me up and bring me near moths. I’m still pretty fast with my paws so that’s good fun. Better yet, he likes to catch a fly by the wing and throw it forcefully to the floor. For a few seconds the fly is stunned and, unable to fly, tries to run for it. Easy prey. Not as much sport, but sooooo tasty: perfectly crisp—you can’t beat a living, wriggling creature for good mouth-feel. Anyway, I needn’t have worried about the man. Eventually he was able to make it downstairs to the office, where I’d get to sit on his lap for most of the day. Often he’d even put his feet up and make a bridge for me. By the time the days got warm again, we were hunting partners once more!
Even without a constant bed companion, I’m managing to stay warm. The bigger of the two small humans—and she’s way bigger than she used to be—is more predictable now. She pets me a bit too much and too hard and takes inappropriate liberties with the extra-soft fur on my belly, and she talks too much at me, going on and on about my “thick, lush, soft fur,” my “beautiful stripes,” my “enchanting glacier-green eyes,” my “proud Mackerel Tabby lineage,” etc. But she does provide a good lap. It’s hard to believe she used to pull my tail. Oh, and she contrived this amazing thing in the backyard. It’s full of bird bait, and the birds really flock to it. But the human never attacks! She just watches the birds and flips through a book and makes nonsense noises like “chickadee” and “titmouse.” It’s hard to watch. If she would just lower that thing a bit, I could kill the birds myself, but I’m too old to leap that high. So I just watch. The worst part is when this one squirrel raids the thing. I hate that squirrel. He’s so vain, grooming his tail to make it super-fluffy, to take everyone’s attention off his big gut. He’s surprisingly spry, though, and climbs right down the string, head first, and steals the bird bait. It pains me that I lack the courage to fight him. I mean, here I am, a born predator, and I’m afraid of a vegan half my size! I guess I could chase him, just to save face, and hope he runs up the tree, but what if he stood his ground?
Did I mention my humans don’t feed me enough? Or often enough? Maybe you could put in a word for me in your next newsletter.
I do have my pleasures, though. Sometimes I wander by my bowl, just to check, and discover it’s actually got some milk or something in it! The small humans are a lot tidier than they used to be, which is too bad, but there are still plenty of scraps on the floor after they feed. I wish they wouldn’t all put their plates on the counter right after they eat—it’s a lot harder to get up there these days. The man often puts pans on the floor for me to lick, which is great, but the small humans—forbidden, for some reason, to lick their plates—have started going over them with a rubber spatula if it’s a really tasty sauce. Thanks a lot, guys. On a positive note, the humans have started keeping their compost in an open bowl on the counter. Tasty stuff, but again, it’s getting so hard to jump up there. One time the bigger small human picked me up and actually set me on the counter, and I was so stoked—until the man started yowling at her and made her put me back down. What is it with that guy?
So … what else? Well, they brought in this amazing chair they call “La-Z-Boy.” Once somebody settles into that, I’m in for some great lap time. If the woman pulls up a blanket, I have time to wash and nap. Even the smaller humans will reliably give me a good long lap on that chair, especially if they have a book. If I hear the words “Percy Jackson” or “Mysterious Benedict Society” I know they’ll be there awhile—unless (as often happens) one of the large humans yells, “Get up and practice your music!” (Both small humans make nice music on the piano. The bigger one is doing well with the violin, too: it no longer sounds like an old animal shelter comrade shrieking.) The new chair does have a downside: I’m constantly wanting to sharpen my claws on it, but whenever I do this somebody rushes at me, screeching. I mean, what am I supposed to do, when the woman keeps moving my scratching post into the garage? It’s just as well—I can no longer easily reach the scratchy rope wound around the top. What did they call that rope? Oh yeah: “Hemp—a gateway to catnip,” whatever that means.
The man is getting really good at tricking me. He sits at the computer, all peaceful-like, and lets me get on his lap. After just a few minutes—about the time my motor starts to wind down—he starts messing with my paws. At first I’m like, “Aaaah, a little paw massage,” but then I realize he’s cutting the tips off my claws! I can’t believe I fall for it every time.
Gosh, I’m hungry. Say, that reminds me. Every once in awhile the whole family starts bringing all this luggage over to the front door, and things get really exciting. For some reason, after they’ve done this awhile, they give me a giant bowl, sometimes two bowls, of crunchies! It’s like the mother lode! Best of all, right after putting the food down they all leave, so I can eat in peace without worrying about somebody having second thoughts and taking it all away. I just eat and eat until I can barely move, and then I have a good wash and a good nap, and there’s still food left over! It’s a paradise of eat/wash/nap the whole day, with nobody around to stop me, and then the whole night, and part of the next day until the food is all gone. By then I’m too bloated even to wash and I just collapse next to the bowl. But then there’s no food, and no humans, for the whole day! I hate it!
I guess the only other thing to report is how puzzled I get with the humans’ behavior at night. They’re always closing doors and I keep getting trapped downstairs. I don’t really mind until I’ve slept most of the night and gotten bored, and want to do something fun like walking on a human’s face. But I can’t get up to the bedroom! I stand at the downstairs door yelling “Now! Now! Now! Now!” but they never come down. Not the smartest creatures, but they do know how to scruffle me under the chin and around the ears, just how I like it. So I guess I’ll let them live. (Kidding!)
I guess that’s about it. I hope you’re all getting plenty of food, plenty of warmth, and plenty of sleep!
|Drawing by Alexa, March 3, 2008