cats

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, Boy, that Vivian sure can wrap a hutch.

There was rain in the forecast for Sunday ,  a chilly early Fall rain. Panic!  I had to rush out and get the  hutch rain-proofed for my backyard cats!  First, I insulated the walls and floor with down-filled sleeping blankets that I got from the thrift sotre ($5 each! What a bargain! )

The I wrapped three big-ass tarps wrapped around it, giving it eight layers of tarp.

The rain started right on schedule, around 4 o’clock Sunday afternoon. At first, Taffy and Lickety thought that their hutch was just a fancy stationery umbrella.

But then Taffy figured it out (that’s the tip of his tail you see, there, disappearing through the hutch doorway).

And then Lickety got a clue.

After a while, the mama cat Candy wandered by, took a look at her boys up in the hutch, and decided to find her own perch out of the rain.

Yeah. She sat out the rain in the rhododendron tree. Sigh. When I checked up on her later, she’d left the tree and had gone to her cubbie in the garage, so I could stop worrying about her spending the afternoon in the rhododendron tree.

It rained heavily ALL AFTERNOON, and into the night. It was still raining when I woke  up in the middle of the night and heard rain  and began to worry. I hoped that all my little feral cats were all tucked up in a dry, warm, cozy place. So that’s why I was out in the backyard at 3:22 this AM to check up on my herd:

That’s Taffy, Lickety, and Oscar from next door, high and dry.

I really should have made that hutch big enough so I could crawl in and curl up in the middle of all that purring.

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August is my favorite month of the year: lush, steamy, poignant. It’s also my favorite chapter — because it’s the chapter where I let my Cat Lady self  have free range. In Pawsylvania, as it turns out.

(For those of you reading along , turn to page 124 in When Wanderers Cease to Roam; but if you’re like me and can’t be bothered to put down your cup of tea to go dig up some book you forgot about a long time ago, don’t worry. There won’t be a quiz at the end of this post.)

When people say that my book has a lot of cats in it I have to laugh. Believe me, I held back on the cats big time; in my opinion, I show great restraint in the cat department: I went through every chapter and edited out pages of cat stuff. What’s left is the bare bones of my cat-centric pea brain…except for the August chapter. In August, I decided to fess up about the micro-nation that I inhabited, in the alley behind my apartment house, with my cats Woody and Louie.

Louie:

Woody:

Micro-nations  are actual political units, inventions (usually crack pot in nature) of sovereignty defined by the United Nations as:

small, self-declared state-like entities existing in real or imagined space which do not meet any international criteria for statehood.

I fell in love with the idea of micro-nations because I believe that we all, each of us, live in micro-nations of our own creating, whether it’s made from a family, a church group, a cause, a secret longing, an especially intense inner life, a sport, a hobby, a crush, a  joyous desire to carve a personal niche in the vast indifference of time. My particular micro-nation happens to have existed one memorable Summer, and then it was gone.

It was August 1995, and me and my 15-year old cat Woody had been joined the previous Fall and Winter by a stray cat I called Louie. Of course I’d had him neutered and vaccinated, but I could not turn Louie into a house cat: I had to let him out every night and dayor else he’d tear up my apartment and howl as if I were skinning him alive. That’s how I got into the habit of taking my first cup of tea of the day outside into the back alley — I was out there to check up on Louie. And then Woody started coming along to keep me company.

So we’d by out there, in the alley, every morning at dawn (my favorite time of the August day), in the dim light and shadows and bright freshness, before the village woke up and before the heat of the day. It was tranquil, noiseless, cool, private, and safe. I was reading MFK Fisher for the first  time, so as I’d sit in the alley sipping my tea (sweet, black, with a drop of vanilla extract) I’d also be lost in Ms. Fisher’s world (France, between the wars; tangerines and doomed love). No wonder I can never re-read her books with anything close to the same sensory thrill; I miss the scent of asphalt and dew, the landscape of silence and mystery from being in the alley at sunrise with my cats.

That was my Pawsylvania, that back alley. Or, more exactly, Pawsylvania was a time  (not a place) when there was no one else in my world except me and two doofus cats (each nosing around on their own adventures  — usually in the inexplicable patch of corn that someone grew at the end of the alley that one Summer — but never straying too far from my company) and my own thoughts (some borrowed from MFK Fisher, some made up of my own dread and hopes. Nothing I dreaded was as bad as I thought it would be, and everything I hoped for turned out much better than I’d imagined. The usual story, in other words.).

For fun, and page count, I elaborated (in my book) on my idea of Pawslyvania; made a passport, issued stamps and visas like any other self-respecting micro-nation. But I hope that didn’t obscure my point. That there’s a Pawsylvania in everyone’s back alley, a realm of time to which only you hold the citizenship, passport, and reality.

For comparison, here’s Pawsylvania in Winter (that’s Woody in the lower left corner):

August: it’s its own micro-nation. Catch it while you can.

(This post is dedicated to August. You know who you are.)

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P1010422

“See? See? Those damn Twilight vampires aren’t the only ones who sparkle in the daylight.”

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“It’s not so bad being between a rock and a hard place as long as you have a nice big butt for a cushion.”

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In the future, every cat will be famous for fifteen minutes on YouTube.”

P1010488

“I’m only coming to your Thanksgiving dinner if you promise there won’t be any drama that I can’t get in on.”

P1010489

“Dear Diary: Fell asleep in my tuxedo again, woke up with a raging hangover. In other words, still lovin’ the bachelor pad lifestyle!!!”

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aSummer cats

Robert Frost, of course,  wrote that it was the fog that “comes on little cat feet”.  But at my house,  one day last Summer, JOY came in on little cat  feet.

Scrum:aSummer cats 001

Nose count: Taffy, Lickety, and Butterboy with Mom Cat.aSummer cats 002

Nap time:aSummer cats 003

Family Dinner (that’s Dad Cat — Blackie —  in back):aSummer cats 004

Catching grasshoppers:aSummer cats 005

Taffy with a toy mousie:aSummer cats 006

This is my favorite picture: — Lickety eating a late afternoon snack, Butter taking a snooze, and Taffy in mid-air, flipping a toy mousie:aSummer cats 007

Cat v. Cardinal.  Tha cardinal won.

aSummer cats 008

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It’s 40 degrees and rainy today on the Long Island Sound. All the Hobos were accounted for, tucked into their little cubbies, keeping warm and dry…but I could use a little reminder of Summer.  You too?

Enjoy.

aSummer cats 001

aSummer cats 002

aSummer cats 003

aSummer cats 004

aSummer cats 005

aSummer cats 006

 

aSummer cats 007

See these little faces? They look at me with such trust; “Does Summer ever end?” they want to know.

“Yeah,” I tell them. “Too soon.”

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