Thursday, April 29, 2010

"It's the Law"

Here's my riff on a Mad-lib dedicated to Arizona's wrong-headed legislature's and governor's new anti-illegal immigrant law. Most of you won't ever be subjected to this, for a variety of reasons ranging from where you live to what your ethnicity is, so I wanted to share the upcoming Arizona experience with you. Of course, those of you who are Anglo, speak with a typical American accent, or aren't too ethnic looking probably won't even get to experience it in Arizona. More's the pity.

"It's the Law"

Set up: A police officer, sheriff, constable, or other law enforcer in Arizona has just stopped you.

"___________ (insert Lady, Sir, Kid, Wetback, N****r or any other appropriate name or title here). Do you know you were ______________ (insert speeding, double parking, spitting, jaywalking, or another minor violation of the law here). I'll need to see proof of your American citizenship.

"What, you don't have proof of citizenship on you? You are not carrying a ____________ (insert only certified copy of your birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, or certificate of citizenship here) with you to the __________ (insert grocery store, gas station, Wal-Mart, church, gym, or whatever is appropriate here)?

"Well, then, you'll just have to come along with me to the police station. You can use your one phone call to get someone to bring it to you.

"What, you don't have a copy of the document at home either? I guess you got a problem.

"I don't give a ___________ (insert red rat's ass, shit, flip, f**k or other favorite expletive here) if you lost all your belongings in a ______________ (insert fire, hurricane, flood, robbery or whatever disaster is appropriate here). You need proof of citizenship. It's the law.

"Save your sob story for the judge. I'm just doing my job."

Did you know that Arizona's state motto is Didat Deus, or "God Enriches"? It seems God is going to get a little boost from fines the new law levies against illegal aliens - or ill-documented Americans. Don't forget to bring your passport, certified birth certificate, or naturalization papers with you when you travel to or through Arizona. (Hmmm, maybe this new law is really a ploy by the birthers to force Obama to bring his birth certificate with him when he goes to Arizona.)


Thursday, April 15, 2010

She’s Baa-aack ...

I guess I've let my cats do the talking around here for long enough. Smudge is starting to get an attitude with me about who is the better writer - so unbecoming in a feline, don't you think? - and fraNkie and Trixie will be copying him soon enough if I don't put a stop to it. So I am asserting myself and reclaiming my blog.

"The Winter of Our Discontent," John Steinbeck's last novel, sums up the last six months of my life in its title. I have not felt comfortable in my skin since my father died last October. Perhaps it is simply grief, or a confrontation with my mortality, or an existential crisis of intergalactic proportion, but I feel disconnected from myself in a profound way.

The age of 35 has always seemed to me to be the perfect age. At 35, I was no longer a wunderkind who might not have what it takes to stay in the game. I had proven myself in my career (telecommunications) and established a solid reputation. I had a home and family, the beginnings of the American dream, and I thought the world was my oyster. I am certain that this is ringing a bell with a number of you.

And that 35-year-old me has just hung in there ever since. When I thought about myself, I felt like I was 35. At 35, I was fairly hot (just ask Michael) - tall and slender and full of enthusiasm and joie de vivre. It was a wonderful self to remain for all these years and I managed to hang onto myself as 35 even through my terrible lupus years of limited mobility and huge weight gain.

Age never bothered me. Hiding my age never occurred to me. And getting older didn't matter because I was only 35 no matter what my birth certificate said. This summer, I will turn 60 and I find I cannot get my head around that. At times over the past few months I have just sat back and contemplated 60, but I never get very far. It is like contemplating the origin of the universe - the more I think about it the more complicated it gets.

60-year-olds used to seem much older than I am now. I know a number of people who are turning 60 this year, too, and some of them look much older than I do. Or, at least, I tell myself that. Then I catch a glance of myself in a mirror in an unguarded moment, or see a recent photo of myself and POW! - I'm looking a little more worn around the edges than I think.

My dad died at 88, just a month short of his 89th birthday. For several years now, he had been failing and I had gotten used to seeing an elderly man when I visited. This last year, the change in him was drastic, perhaps because he no longer had the strength (or inclination?) to exert himself intellectually. Most of the time, he was a bystander with the world spinning around him. Most of the time, he seemed older to me than was possible.

And that's how I feel about myself right now. I am older than I thought possible. I am 59 years and 9 months old. Friends not much older than me are dying. People my age die regularly. It is morbid, no doubt, to be so caught up in this age-anxiety. And it is so unlike me. It bothers me that getting older would bother me.

I don't dye my hair and I don't plan to start. I don't wear clothes that are "too young" for me or for my figure. I have no interest in Botox or a face-lift - although I do appreciate good foundation garments. I am not seeking my long lost youth.

The plain facts are that I am seeing the end of my life on the horizon. I can't keep putting off all those "I'll get to it" items any longer. If I don't sort out the photographs soon, they may never get sorted out at all!

All winter, while I haven't been blogging, I have been quilting in one form or another. Quilting offers permanence. Nothing I did in this world heretofore was so great that it would outlive me except my children. My quilts may not be great, but most of them will outlive me. At the quilt guild meeting this month, someone showed off her great-grandmother's quilts, made almost a hundred years ago.

I find comfort in thinking that in 2110 my great-grandchild - or great-great grandchild - might be cozied up under a quilt I made and happen to read the label: "Hand quilted by Lane Gustafson Devereux for (whoever) in 2010" and ask her mother who I was. With any luck, there will still be stories of my more outrageous and wonderful adventures around.

I guess I'd better try to lighten up a little for myself and for my audience. If I stay this morbid, you're going to want the cats back!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who's da' cat?? I'm da' cat!!

Oh, yeah. I'm da' cat all right. Where did I say fraNkie probably was? In the messy garage or Tori's messy bedroom. Well, guess what? M found fraNkie in the garage tonight. How about that?

     Do you remember me mentioning a while back that fraNkie was not the brightest kit in the litter?? Mom gave me a hard time for picking on him when I said it, but honestly, I was just telling the truth. Okay, now I have proof. That cat has been in the garage since Saturday night with no food or water. Mom and M looked for him out there more than once. They called him from the door more than once. They left the door ajar more than once while they did people errands in and out. And did fraNkie come out? No. Not even to eat!! I'm sorry, but that is a d**b cat.

     Not only that, he won't come in tonight! He's hiding from Mom of all the d**b ideas. She brought him food and water and left it for him and he did eat a little. I went out to talk to him and "bring him in" as they say in the spy movies. (Oh, yeah, I love spy movies ... I watch them with M quite often.) Well, he wouldn't come in even for his brother. And after I told everyone that I missed him ... Sheesh, talk about embarrassing a fellow in front of his friends.

     Well, Mom is coming to shut down the computer so I have to run. I heard her tell M that they should leave the garage door open all night, even after they turn off the lights, so M went out and locked the big door in the front. We'll see if I can coax him into the house after my people are in bed. Wish me luck.

     And thanks for your kind thoughts. They probably are what made fraNkie show his tail to M tonight. (Literally: He thought he was hiding, but his big ole' butt was hanging out. LOL I told you fraNkie was d**b, but he's my brother and I love him.)

Very Bad News about fraNkie

My brother is missing. He slipped out of the house last Saturday when M was going in and out to do yard work. Mom looked for fraNkie when dinner time came and he didn't show up, but could not find him anywhere in the house or the garage. Personally, I think he could actually be in the garage or in their big girl's room because those are such a mess a cat could get lost. But I would never say that to Mom and M because it is a sore subject for them.  

I know Mom thought fraNkie would be home on Sunday, beside himself because he missed dinner, but it did not happen. And it has not happened since then either. Mom keeps checking the backyard and she's been putting out extra food for the wild cats, too, in case he is sneaking in to eat when she's not around. Mom is very sad. 

She told me that, while I'm her best cat ever, she really loved how soft and cuddly fraNkie could be when he decided to let her pet him. She misses him coming on their bed at night for pets and she misses his wonderful purring. Now, if I were not so certain of my place in Mom's heart, this might worry me, but I am not that kind of cat. I spend my special time with Mom every single day and even when I am not resting on her chest, she tells me how much she loves me. 

I have gotten the feeling lately that I might have to cut back on my kibbles and treats. Mom rearranges me when I snuggle down on her and says, "Smudge, I can't breathe!" There's no way I intend to give up my snuggles, so I guess I have to face my weight issues head on. I am not giving up snuggling with Mom. The snuggling I like more than anything else is crawling into the sleeve of her big sweatshirt when she's wearing it. Then she wraps it around me and it feels just like heaven, so safe and cozy. 

Well, enough about me. Worrying about fraNkie is getting Mom down and I wish I could figure out what to do. One night when M went out to feed the wild cats, I slipped out myself. I figured I could find fraNkie faster than anyone else since I know the cat territory. But I chickened out. That big dark yard reminded me of when I was scared and cold and sick, before Mom whispered me inside, and I couldn't take it. I ran back in the house as quick as I could. 

Sorry fraNkie, I didn't mean to let you down. I wish you would come home because Mom and M miss you and I do, too. (The mean cat doesn't care about that, though; she's hoping I'll go away now too so she can have Mom and M all to herself.) I did hear M say that if fraNkie didn't come back, they would get me another pet. That would be nice, but my brother would be nicer. 

If everyone thinks good thoughts about fraNkie coming home, maybe he will show up soon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Smudge at Your Service

Smudge at Your Service

Mom finally stepped away from the computer without turning it off, so I can finally use it. She has been on this energy saving kick ever since the home show and she keeps turning things off and pulling plugs. I don't really mind the pulling plugs though because sometimes fraNkie and I like to nibble on the cords and when they are plugged in you can get an unpleasant jolt. Mom doesn't feel too well right now. I can tell because she isn't as playful as usual and she is really moving slowly, too.

I thought maybe her cuts were still hurting - she made a terrible noise when I ran across her stomach a few days after she got those cuts - but I heard her tell her friend they all healed fine. But now it is something else. What is it with people anyway? Cats are much more resilient and complain a whole lot less, too!

Back to Mom. She went to another doctor and when she came home, I thought she needed some catnip!! She told M that the doctor said she had chronic kidney disease stage III (moderate) and that she had to have more tests and - worst of all - she had to stop taking the pills that make her joints and muscles not hurt. Ever since, she has been making bad noises, and walking slow, and she needs to take pain medicine all day instead of just at night.

The doctor told her that if she doesn't take the joint medicine - something called NSAID - maybe her kidneys will get better. M asked her what that stage III part meant and she said it meant her kidneys, working together, only worked 30% of what they should. That kind of worries me because I think Jack went away because his kidneys didn't work right. I couldn't stand it if Mom went away. I may be the alpha cat around here nowadays, but I still need my cuddles on a regular basis. M tries, but he just can't cuddle like Mom can.

I especially like it when Mom is wearing a big sweater because I crawl into the sleeve as far as I can go and Mom puts the sweater over me, and then I just go into cat heaven. It is better than catnip! She seems to like it just as much I me. Well, there's a line here of cats with something to say, so I guess my turn is over.

its fraNkies turn now

Smudge is so bossy. I had to wait a long time for my turn. I like this new typing thing mom has cuz sometimes it fixes stuff and I don't even have to know how to do it. So if I seem smarter, im really not.

Ihave been having a lot of trouble with the mean cat. She gets really mad at me whn I snuggle with mom on the bed. She bats me with her claws out!! Mom cant seme to do anything with her and I am getting tired of it.

But I never bat her back. I jst lay on the bed real quiet and try to ve invisible. If the mean cat would jist let me, I would be her friend. I like to cuddle and I would cudd;e with her on the bed. Sometimes she lets me get a little close to her but not much.

Mom always wants to cuddle with me but I am not ready for interspecies cuddling. She can feed me treats from her hand and that's okay. She can brush me too as long as she keeps it in the bedroom wher it belongs. Boundaries, mom, boundaries. When I tiptoe out into the big part of the house it is pretty scary and I don't want anyone picking me up. That is the scariest. And I know mom wants to pick me up, I can see it in her eyes.

Of course as soft and round as I am that makes sense. She can hardly keep her hands off me. Training mom has been harder than I thought it would be. Oh here comes the mean cat. I have to hide.

You Can Call Me Ms. Trixie

Well, I chased off those two ruffians. They know that my human's desk chair belongs to me, so I can't think why they would even get near it. I am getting quite sick and tired of those boys. They take attention that should be mine. I have had to resort to sitting on my human's lap, something I thought I would never stoop to. Fawning and playing up to people has always been beneath me, but hard times force hard choices.

The big dumb kit, fraNkie, is almost all right. Sometimes I am tempted to try getting close to him like I did with Jack, but then I stop myself. NO ONE can replace Jack and I feel so sad remembering that he left and never came home again. And so what if I take it out on the juvenile delinquents? The dirty cat (his name is Smudge) really gets me going. He stalks me and chases me every day. When I call him on it, he claims that it's all in fun and he just wants to play. Right.

My position requires that I rise above it as much as possible without condoning bad behavior. That goes for cats and humans. Just to remind my human that she should treat me with respect, I think I'll leave a fresh hairball on her chair before I go in for evening treats. It will be quite amusing to watch her reaction when she finds it tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I am surrounded by hooligans. They say I am old and mean. Harrumph, they haven't seen mean yet.

This used to be a very nice home. Jack could be troublesome, but after 15 years together, we had worked out most of the kinks in our relationship. Usually, I could count on him to groom my head and face at least once a day. His antics entertained our people enough that they left me in peace. I had long ago trained then to keep their distance and only touch me when I gave them permission. You don't hear about people going around picking up Queen Elizabeth and living to tell about it, do you? Same principle applies with me.

Then something happened to Jack. He started to shrink, literally. He lost interest in his normal activities. He let that little whippersnapper, Dirty Nose, bully him sometimes. That was not the Gentleman Jack I knew. The people kept taking him away and bringing him back smelling like the poke-at-you place. Then he stayed there long enough that his smell scared me. Then he went away and didn't come back.

I suppose our people think we don't understand because we are cats. Harrumph. I know perfectly well that Jack got so sick and tired of those hooligans that he left the country and didn't look back. I'd do the same thing if I felt more comfortable going outdoors without my entourage.

So now, instead of a suitably adoring, if occasionally curmudgeonly, companion, I have to contend with two hooligans. Smudge - he of the spot as permanent as Lady MacB's - and Frankie - the blind boy - are nothing but trouble. I do feel a little sorry for Frankie because he does not, in fact, see well and it makes him very skittish. (FYI - Skittish comes from the feline word "to skit" meaning "to act like a kitten.") But D.N. has nothing to recommend him. He crawls right up on my person and LAYS ON HER, sometimes even when I am draped regally at her feet on the reclining throne.

I give them a hiss and the back of my paw whenever I can just to keep them on their toes. I am the queen of this kingdom and if they don't show me the respect I deserve, they will be sorry. Let's not forget that the front of my paws have well-sharpened claws and I know how to use them. I've even taken a swing at my M. P. recently when she got between me and the hooligans. She will learn not to overstep.

The Queen of Hearts had it right: Off with their heads!

Queen Beatrix Autumn
(Trixie to her close companions)

P.S. My main person got out her traveling bag tonight and started putting clothes in it. I have been around long enough to know what that means. She will not be around for a while. It could be one treat cycle or it could be several treat cycles. Either way, I will be suitably crabby when she comes back no matter how many treat cycles it is. I hate going without my bedtime treats. The back-up person would give me my regular bedtime treats, but I prefer to keep him in his place by letting him pet me, but refusing to take treats from him. You can't let the people get too familiar, you know.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Who Doesn't Love a Snuggle?

Mom has been moving too fast for me today. She never even sat in her big chair this evening. I like to climb up on her chest, right under her neck, and snuggle in the evening when she's sitting there. But not today. Why don't people learn to relax, like cats do? Napping is a very productive occupation. It is good for your digestion and it makes you a more pleasant creature. Even mean ol' Trixie doesn't growl at us so much when she sleeps on top of Mom and M's bed with Frankie and me.

I noticed that Trixie growls at us more ...

I'm Back! It took me a whole week to get my chance. I got rudely bumped off the computer by Mom (sorry to be harsh, Mom, but you were rude) and then she hardly got on her computer all week. Usually I can count on time during the weekend, but she went all weekend long without even turning on her computer. It drives me crazy, but we've already had the opposable thumb conversation, so I'll try to regain my train of thought.

I noticed that Trixie growls at us more when Mom and M are around, especially if they are talking to us, or petting us, or brushing us. Usually they brush "fraNkie" because he has long hair. My hair does not need brushing because it is just the right length, which is good, because I don't like brushing that much. I like snuggling, which is where I started with this post.

When Mom first whispered me inside, I felt scared and I was sick. Mom wanted to make me feel safe and keep me warm, so she carried me inside her big sweater thing. It has very, very big sleeves - like a shawl with cuffs, I heard Mom tell someone - and I would crawl into the sleeve part and curl up for long naps. When I came out, if I didn't feel like eating or playing, I would sit on Mom's chest, way up high so I could snuggle under her chin.

Now days, it is harder to get into the sleeves of her sweaters, even that big one, but I still squeeze in as much as I can. And I still snuggle on her chest. My head fits under her chin just right and she holds me and snuggles me when I'm there. She rubs me with her chin. (Not very many people know that chin rubs on a cat's cheek and face are very, very special to us because of how we are made, but Mom has always done it and I love her for it.)

I have heard her tell M that I am a lot heavier now than when I was a kitten. And sometimes I jump onto her from the other furniture or off her to the other furniture and then she gets a very wide-eyed look and says "Ooof." She doe not seem to like that. Once, I accidentally got my claws into one of those bumps she has on her chest as I launched myself and then she kind of yowled and said bad words. But most of the time, she is calm and behaves in a very cat-like way.

Decorum is very important to cats, you know. Well, most of the time. We do allow for playtime. "All sleep and no play makes Puss a dull cat," as the old saying goes. "What about the catnip?" you ask. Okay, I'll admit it. When there's catnip around, we can't be responsible for our conduct; however, that is not a fit topic for a public forum and I'm not saying another thing about it.

Mom was taking a shower, but now she is moving around in her den, so I better wrap it up.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

my name is fraNkie

my name is frankie my brother has been saying mean things abou5t me on the com0puter i think he shouldbt do that becasdiue i am just a littkle cat i amn not even 1 year old yet i cant dfo as many thingfs as smudge can but he is not as soft and berautiful as i am trixie is the meanest cat alive she scatres me a lto lots of things scare mne becdause i am not used toi inside noises ort people

i lived outside all my life until mom tricked me into coming inside at first i didnt mind because myu sisters were wityh me then they webnt away most of the time smudgte is a good brother he plauys with me every day and we sleep nest to each other too smudge is not afread of trixie sometomes he even chases her until she takes a swipe at him then even smudge will back away i usually just flp on my back when she gets close to me she wont hirt me whemn i show her my tummy

mom likews to brish me and pet me i like it too but sometimes she moves too fast and i get scared and run away smudge saod i was too dumb to eat my food without mom showing it to me but that is not true i jist dont like to get too vlose until i knoe that it is safe for me

so plrease dont believe thngs sthat smudge says agbout me i am a nice cat and he knows it if you see my cat mom tell her i said hi and i havent forgotten about her i wish she was not outside in this cold weather but mom and m are puttig out extra foods for the outsoide cats this weel to help them stay warm

it is nice to meet you

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I Need an Opposable Thumb!

Cats are nearly perfect creatures in every regard; however, it is a shame that we don't have opposable thumbs. Mom has been distracted and busy, gone for a long time some days, and this is the first chance I've had to get at the computer to update her blog. She doesn't realize how frustrating it is for me when she hibernates her computer during the day or turns it off altogether at night.

I have heard her saying something to him about saving energy. I can't imagine how they could save anymore energy than they already do. Don't tell Mom I said this, but they sit around an awfully lot. Frankie and I play chase with each other, we jump up on high windows and bookcases and, of course, our cat condo. We harass Trixie a little bit if we are feeling very, very rambunctious. (Have I mentioned that she's mean? If we get too wild, or sometimes if we even try to politely walk past her to use the facilities, she growls and she doesn't stop until we are out of sight.)

We also play with Mom and sometimes him, which is about the only exercise I ever see them getting. They have been a challenge to train, him especially, but since Frankie and I both still have all nine of our lives, we can invest the necessary time. Mom has learned to curl up in bed so that Frankie can sleep by her feet and I can sleep by her neck. She hardly ever kicks or rolls on us anymore and, if she does, she stops as soon as she wakes up enough to know what she's doing. When she gets out of bed at night to use their facilities - a lot nicer than ours, btw - she scoots out from under the covers without pushing us off the bed.

That is very thoughtful of her, but I usually get up anyway to escort her. I'd hate to think she ran into any trouble and I was not there to help. Frankie might come along if he's already awake, but if he is sleeping at the bottom of the bed, he just keeps his lazy hindquarters stuck to the bed and pretends he is asleep.

I'm sure you can figure out that someone is not doing quite as well with his training. He kicks a lot and pushes his feet against the railing at the end of the bed, so it is pretty miserable trying to sleep with him. Sometimes he scrunches into the middle of the bed and I can find a little room along the edge of the mattress. Not too often, though, because Mom says, "If you're going to sleep in the middle of the bed, then why did we have to buy a queen-sized?" I am not sure what a queen-sized is, but I guess Mom was not to impressed with it.

You might be wondering why I keep writing him and he, etc. instead of Dad. Well, believe it or not, he objected to a cat calling him Dad!! That just chaps my fluffy butt. How did he get such a big head? Well, I have thought and thought about it, and I decided to call him M. If he doesn't like that, too bad; I'm not going to change one more time for anybody. Even if Mom asks me to really nicely. She spoils M anyway.

Whew, Mom was coming to turn off the computer but she got sidetracked by Frankie. He can be good for something every once in a while. She just started brushing him and that can keep her entertained for quite a while.

Mom's big girl, Alix, came over yesterday and she got a good look at Frankie for the first time in a while. (Frankie's a hider.) She got very excited and said she thought he was some kind of fancy cat. Alix and Mom got on the computer for a long time, looking at cat pictures and reading stuff, and they said Frankie looks just like a Birman cat and acts like one, too. I jumped up on Mom's lap and took a look myself. I must admit there is a strong resemblance.

Birman cats have the darker colors on their legs and face and creamy colors on their body like Frankie. And they have very distinctive mittens and stockings on their feet that do look like Frankie's. They have tiny voices, which is true of my brother, and long silken hair with no undercoat so it doesn't tangle. Frankie's coat is like that, too. (That's why Mom is always brushing him and petting him and making goo-goo sounds about his fur. Yuck.)

I guess I can see why they think he's one of those Birman cats, but I have to tell you, it is sheer dumb luck that he turned out as well as he did. We do not come from fancy cats. We are salt-of-the-earth, backyard cats, and I haven't seen any hoity-toity Birman cats hanging around my birth mother.

Mother is quite stunning and unique in her own way. She is a gray tabby with very, very long hair. There's a big ruff around her neck like a lion's mane. Her coat gets even bigger in cold weather and right now she looks very scary when I see her in the backyard eating. Alix thinks she is a Maine Coon cat, but again, that seems a little far fetched. She might look like the pictures on the computer, but how would a Maine Coon cat end up as a feral living on her wits and the kindness of strangers in this neighborhood?

I am a tuxedo cat, the smartest and handsomest kind of cat anyone could want, and it is hard to fathom why they even care about Frankie's genealogy, but, if it makes them happy, they can believe any fantastic thing that they want.

If Mom would cut me some slack and leave her computer on a bit more, I could visit with y'all more. Why don't you mention it to her if you get the chance? But nicely. She's my Mom and I don't want her feelings to be hurt.