I Am NOT Ready For My Close Up.


English is a very efficient language.

Wednesday: Today I had to go to Costco to return a bird feeder, then as I drove homeward I stopped at a hair salon to make an appointment for a hair cut, and then when I did make it home I called my plastic surgeon to verify my scheduled procedure for Thursday (more work to make my nose look normal).

And I was DONE for the day. That’s it. That is all the busy-ness that I care to be involved with in one day. I do not like taking care of business, I dislike being in charge of doing what it takes to keep on keeping on, I do not like running errands. I think it is so unfair that these things don’t do themselves.

I think I would be the perfect person to have servants, because I so deeply deserve to have servants running my errands and answering my email and stuff.

Knowing this about myself, I think I  should probably not get a DoG. I’ve been thinking of getting another DoG for months because:

However, from what I remember about having my first DoG [read blog post Happiness is a Warm Puppy] , dogs demand an ungodly amount of showing-up, and that’s not really my strong point these days. But when I think about living the rest of my life without having another DoG, I could cry.

Usually I am quite good at making decisions, but his is the hardest time I’ve ever had. Yes, I want a DoG; No, I don’t want a Dog; Yes I do; No I don’t…and what would the cats think??

Speaking of cats, today’s story is about this cat:

Meet Bibs. Bibs was one of three grey tabby cats who wandered into our home for wayward strays one Summer. They all got trapped and neutered, but to keep them straight, I called the first one “Stripey”, and when the second showed up, I called him “New Stripey”, and when the third one showed up (he had white patches that the others did not have), I called him “Bib Stripey”.

Bib Stripey got into a vicious fight one day and showed up for breakfast with his ear almost torn off so we immediately  whisked him off to the vet for his rendezvous with destiny and had his head stitched up at the same time. Since I had to make sure his head healed correctly, Bib Stripey then came into our house for convalescence, which usually does not happen when we TNR. He was untouchable, so we had to confine him in a very large DoG crate in the kitchen.

Bib Stripey was a challenge, in that he never got the hang of using a litter box. He preferred to crap in his bed every night, which did not endear him to me. When the vet gave him the all-clear about his head wound, we happily released him into the wilds of our back yard and expected that he would disappear like the other Stripeys. That was eight years ago. Bib Stripey stayed, and stayed, and stayed, and his name was shortened to “Bibs”, and he learned that getting scratched behind the ears was awesome, and he learned to come indoors for all his meals and most of his naps.

Taffy is his mortal enemy, which is why Bibs must always keep tabs on him every moment of the day.

Bibs is now an almost fully integrated into the herd but he does not use a litter box — he’s still a crap-in-the-woods kind of guy.

One other thing that you need to know about Bibs is that he does not share. So, when our Dear Reader Jeanie sent the herd some hand-made catnip toys for ChirsHanuKwanSolstice all the way from the wilds of Michigan, Bibs took one of the toys for his own self. He carried it down to the basement and put it some place that only he knows. So, when Taffy, and Lickety, and Cindy, and Candy are batting around the catnip toys to one another, Bibs does not join in.

The other day I was in the kitchen when Bibs came up from the basement with his toy in his mouth. He padded into the dining room, and dropped his toy next to one that had lately been the object of a spirited game of Keep Away amongst the rest of the herd.

I swear that he was just sitting there, making comparisons between the two. I swear he looked extremely pleased with himself. I crept away to get the camera, but Bibs does not do poses. So all I have to show you is Bib’s prized possession alongside the worse-for-wear comparable. (This cat story was brought to you by Dear Reader Jeanie — thank you!)

OK, considering that I went to all this trouble to tell you Dear Readers a story about two cat toys, maybe I am not a DoG person after all. And see if the following cat-person story doesn’t confirm this:

A few months ago I was invited to join a group of people who share an interest I have … I can’t mention the interest because it’s a give away as to what this organization is and I don’t want to embarrass any one who might be from that org and reading this (It’s possible! It’s not likely, but it’s possible!). So let’s say this interest is decoding Elizabethan handwriting.

Before I commit to going to this meeting, I check out the group’s website. The group meets in a wine bar on Long Island, so the group invites new members to join: If you like decoding Elizabethan handwriting, if you like wine, and if you like meeting new people!”

Well, I, for one, certainly and positively do not like meeting new people, but I like wine and I like decoding Elizabethan handwriting, so against my better judgment I go to the monthly meeting.

I’m the new person there the regulars are chit chatting with me and I’m being an abnormally smiley, friendly version of myself. I say no, I don’t have kids in Long Island schools but I have cats. “How many?”, someone asks.

“8”, I say. I’m just giving information, I’m not bragging.

One woman looks particularly aghast and says, “8 cats! What does your house smell like??

I let the question hang in the air for a few moments because that, right there, is why I do not like meeting new people. Eventually I say, and I say it slowly, “It smells fine.”

I want to tell you that after that, I did not go back, but hey, it’s not every day that you find people who like to decode Elizabethan handwriting so yes, I did go back the next month.

And at that meeting I was small-talking with a different regular who asked me what I “did”, and I said “I write books about travel.”

She asked me, “Are you famous?

And no, I did not go back the next month.

I have to admit that I don’t get this but I want that DoG.

OK, so by now you know that I am typing this up on Friday morning because I missed out usually get-together time due to February lethargy but ALSO, on Thursday I had another round of surgery on my nose so I was out of commission for a day and I am sitting here, right now, with a big hospital-grade bandage on my face that does not make me feel exactly spiffy.

I thank you all for stopping by, and for your great feed back last week that verified that it wasn’t me that got small, it was the art.

Wait. I’m a miniaturist. I like being small!

Here’s my Art Rescue of the week:



I have to fix that green gate. This rescue is not over.

And remember, if you aren’t applauding, you’re being treasonous.

Have a small-talk free weekend, everyone!


35 Comments, RSS

  1. Thea

    Are you telling us you can rescue green doors and not DoGs?
    DoGs are wonderful creatures and great givers of comfort. They are also skilled at listening to philosophy, judging by my two terriers, one Maltese and one Rapscallion. If you take in one particular one, yes, you will have to show up. BUT you have to show up and be servant and errands person NOW, don’t you? Undoubtedly, you need scads of comfort after these occasions. A DoG will noogle up demanding hugs; thus offering solace.
    Usually your rescues are so subtle as to elude me. This week’s Art Rescue is apparent and a successful improvement. I await rescue of the green doors.

    • Vivian

      I was under the impression that terriers are more likely to be life-of-the-party types rather than philosophers. And oh yes, DoGs are wonderful creatures, who think better of humans than I ever could. It’s almost intimidating, the amount of love they bring (I’m a cat person, and not at all used to unconditional love).

  2. Casey

    Awwwwww. Bibs has a prized possession. I have to check and see if my cats are holding thier treasures, too. Wouldn’t that make a great cat book? You could tell stories of cats and their treasures.

    Someone asked you if your house stank? What is wrong with people?!

    Sorry about your nose. I’m sure those kitties are snuggling up to you to make sure your healing is happy.

    You’re famous to me.

  3. Megan

    Oh people you’ve just got to laugh haven’t you. Think before you speak people. I don’t know, I think sometimes you need to hear yourself and then the penny drops. Well Bibs is a character isn’t he? Clive can never find his mice, they do hide very well. I am impressed Bibs can find his. I think it is so touching that he took this mouse and hid it so it would be his, this might have been his first ever gift. Our Mr Jolly was so happy when my sister Michele bought him a furry mat to lie on. He was new and our other cat Chester was hell bent on murdering him. So while he was confined to a bedroom he had his little mat. He jumped right on it when it was put down and he loved it, he seemed really grateful. Cats are funny creatures. We had a dog called Jesse, she loved cats, LOVED THEM. Finally she got a cat of her own, Chester. He loved her too, was not bothered by dogs at all. Our current Clive was terrified of the big soppy Molly, for two days. Now he launches Ninja attacks when she isn’t prepared. he is a devil, she still loves him. There is an adjustment and I am confident that the cats will cope with a dog. If you want one you should get one… yes they do require walking but that is pretty much the only difference I’ve noticed. Plus when you walk the dog people stop to say nice things and have a pat. Our Molly who we inherited when my sister passed away suddenly, is just so sweet she spreads joy everywhere she goes and mostly the nice people enjoy having a pat and scratching her tummy. She’s happy and I think they are too. Think a bit more about opening your home to a dog.

    • Vivian

      Oh, Megan! Your comment that this might have been the first gift that Bibs ever got just melted my heart! I didn’t think of that! My poor sweet Bibs, he’s my little Eeyore and the thought that his mouse is his best-ever and only gift totally explains why he cherishes it. I thought he just didn’t want to share…but now I see that it’s his only treasure.

      I remember Mr. Jolly — I love that name. He was a big ginger cat, wasn’t he?

      I know that I am destined to have another DoG. It’s just a matter of when — not IF. I’m waiting for a Sign…

  4. Kirra

    I hope your nose is going well Vivian, though it really must suck. At least it’s winter and staying inside fits in well. I totally understand about the commitment to a dog. I would love to have a dog and a cat but don’t have any. No pets at all. I will one day I hope, but you really do have to think about it.

    I like Bibs and his care for his toy, I hope he’s managed to hide it away somewhere safe again! Seriously people can be annoying. They’re obviously not out to met interesting people if they think a person can’t look after cats properly or be an author and not be famous. Pity as they were interested in the same thing as you, maybe there’s another group out there.

    Your rescues are always impressive! All the best for the door rescue. Australia is still melting……

    • Vivian

      The thing about answering the question, Are you famous? is that if I said Yes, I’d have to defend myself (since she’d come back with, “then why don’t I know you?”), and if I said, No, then I’d start to think about how infamous I am after all the trouble I go to and then i’d want to kill myself. It’s a total no-win situation.

      I sympathize with you for your long, hot Summer, but I forget what warmth feels like. I always forget whether it’s better to be too hot or too cold.

  5. I totally understand about the dog/cat thing. Bib is one smart cat when it comes to taking care of his toy. Isn’t Jeanie the best? She once sent my cat toys too.
    I was clapping for your picture, no treason here! That comment did make me laugh. Please would someone solve this problem so we can get back to being a bit complacent and trusting again.

    • Vivian

      I think we might have to have a revolution to get our country back, if we could get enough Americans to get off their asses and take to the streets. Like you said, we are a complacent people…

      And yes, beanie is the best!

  6. People are weird. Probably why I like being home with the cats!

    I want a dog, too. But … I have 4 cats. One of my kitties (14 yo) has heart problems. Adding a dog to the house is probably not a good idea. I did baby-sit for my next door neighbors dog. The dog is adorable and likes me, so he stayed here with me. It was a good experiment. I want a dog … BUT … they are a lot of trouble! I’m not into trouble — too old … but I did enjoy having a partner to go walking. But … I can walk the cats by getting a pet stroller. …. Decisions…

    I need to get my nose fixed.


    • Vivian

      Are you dealing with basal or squamous cell skin cancer too? It’s been exactly two months today since I got the Mohs surgery and yes, I think the lordy that we have remedies but it’s a drag to have this work done right in the middle of your face! I wish I knew someone who ended a DoG-sitter now and then — it would be like renting a Dog (which I would be happy to do, say, once or twice a week).

  7. Somehow in my French classes I neglected to learn that a bird feeder, in French, is a “mangeoire à oiseaux.” I love that!

    A DoG is definitely a big time suck. I literally spend practically all my time with Olga, and when I’m not with her I’m either working or feeling guilty. She’s lying next to me as I type this, actually. But they DO give a lot back!

    As for your compatriots in Elizabethan handwriting, let me just say, some people have no tact!

    • Vivian

      Thank you for reminding me about the guilt: now I remember how awful they can make you feel when you leave the house without them. Every DoG knows how to play those sad puppy eyes, and give you a look that sears your soul.

  8. I was raised by dachshunds and have always had their love in my life and yes, there is some effort involved but oh, is it worth it! And hey, a few years back I switched from smooth-haired dachshunds to long-haired dachshunds, and discovered the long-haired ones are total couch potatoes! They love their couch and their yard but don’t care one whit if they ever go on walks or car rides–I have to *make* them go. They are the cats of the dog world!

    I am in total agreement re: meeting new people. How rude! They have no idea what a fun, fascinating person they’re never going to get to know. Their loss, your gain.

    • Vivian

      The long-haired dachshund is like a pocket Afghan, and they are the most beautiful DoGs. I think it’s hilarious that your pups like to laze — that’s def my speed.

    • Vivian

      I have made one visit to North Shore and all the DoGs were lovable. I even set see time with a small one, who was rescued from a puppy mill, but the poor thing was not house broken and I can’t do that again (Boogie Girl came from a similar disadvantaged background). I haven’t been brave enough to go back, but when the day comes I will def rescue my DoG rather than get a pure bred.

  9. Does your house smell? Oh boy, I would have walked then and there! Honestly, what IS it with people? Do they think they can lose their filter just because someone in the White House doesn’t have one? Well, Bibs (obviously) doesn’t care about smell, noses or whether or not you’re famous. He loves you because you saved him. (And thank goodness, he now poops in the woods!) I’m glad he loves the toy! (If the catnip goes limp after awhile, microwave for 15-20 seconds, so says the woman who made those. I haven’t done it yet because the thought of putting hairy mice in the microwave doesn’t thrill me — but maybe in a paper bag or something.)

    I would love a DoG but I don’t have that kind of lifestyle. I need to not have to worry about walking or letting out. Or going away, for that matter. Lizzie’s sitter is enough — add another animal and yikes. But boy, they sure are sweet. It’ll happen if it’s going to happen and you’ll know if you see the one you want to take the leap with. Meanwhile, you’ve got your clan to love and they do a mighty fine job!

    • Vivian

      I think that people here in America think it is OK, admirable, even, to say the first thing that comes to mind, as if it makes us free and easy, and stopping to THINK before one speaks would make conversation stuffy and formal. This is why Americans sound so loud and juvenile when you run into them overseas…or at a wine bar.

      I will def put the catnip mice in a paper bag before I microwave them, that is if I ever get the chance to find them again. They seem to have disappeared, and won’t be found until the day we move the refrigerator.

  10. Oh those pictures of Golden Retrievers! I lost my Golden in October. He was a lap sitter and hugger much like the dogs in the pictures in your post. Now, I am growing fatter due to no more walks with the dog – the weather just adds to the problem.

    To help fill that huge gapping sorrowful hole, we adopted two kittens from a shelter – one for each girl. The part Manx bordering on pudgy female, while adorable, is aloof. Humans are of little interest to her. We are convinced the sleek male is a reincarnated puppy. He follows me up and down the stairs – every trip. Even when he appears to be napping, he will rouse himself and make a sleepy trip downstairs to see if I might be persuaded to play a game of fetch. Any rolled up ball of paper will do. He chases, pounces, carries it around like a panther with prey…and then drops it at my feet with an expectant look directed at my face / eyes. We play this game every time he shows up, usually for 3-4 repetitions, until I toss the wad of paper up the stairs a few times just to end the game on a high note.

    I will definitely get another dog–most likely another Golden. But I am waiting until I move to a place with a yard as a townhouse is not very satisfactory for a big field-type dog.

    I love your latest rescued painting. It has been so fun to see how it has evolved.

    I agree with Casey. I think your next damn book should be about your cats.

    So whatever the draw was for the social group meetings, I hope it was worth putting up with exposure to foot-in-mouth disease. People can be so mindless. One good thing – writers need to be comfortable with long stretches of solitude to accomplish that their butt-in-the-writing-chair time. But wouldn’t it be nice if social excursions that include meeting new people didn’t send a writer back home for a drink?

    At least your readers – dear readers and occasional readers, alike – love you just the way you are!

    • Vivian

      My heart breaks a little for you, and your loss. Golden retrievers are such angels, pure DoG, I know it must have been shattering to have to say good-bye. But I envy you your Manx: my Steve is a Manx and I love his little bunny-butt, but it’s been three years and he still has ever let me touch him. Thank you for opening your home to your kittens; and maybe your puppy-cat is channeling the spirit of your sweet DoG.

  11. There was a point in time when I had 18 cats. I hasten to add that only three of them lived in the house—the rest were the product of a particularly prolific (another word for slutty) feral cat who lived in my yard. I named her Hazel, after my aunt, because she was the meanest woman in Texas, and this cat took me two years to trap and fix because she was likewise mean as well as smart. So she kept supplying kittens, and I kept trying to find homes for them all, and the leftovers lived in my yard, and eventually I caught Mamacita and had her tubes tied, and the cat population gradually waned over the next two decades. I don’t think I ever told anyone, however, that I had 18 cats. Because ^^^.

    • Vivian

      I would like to have met Hazel, both the wiley mama-cat and the meanest woman in Texas. In fact, I’d like to have gotten some pointers from your aunt because you know how everything is bigger and badder i Texas. I bet she was a hoot (if she was on your side).

  12. Jean

    I usually lurk here, but now I have to chime in because your commentors are the best. I love reading your blog but I really am amazed by the depth and intelligence and humor of the dear readers who reflect and commiserate with you.

    I agree with you that english is a very efficient language but I had to wonder what the German would look like: vier Rohr Vogelhäuschen. I used a google translate … it might not be right. I thought it would be all one word.

    Bibs and his prized possession… what a dear thing he is. I always like it when you rescue a painting. Dogs are always worth it. Sorry about your nose. Long haired dachshunds are beautiful. I’ve put my foot in my mouth many a time but I’ve never asked someone if their house stunk. Yeah for me.

    And yes, you are famous to me too.

  13. Could you not try a dog on for size? Maybe do some temporary rescue–like foster a dog between destinations to remind yourself of all that is wonderful (and a pain in the backside) about dog tending and THEN make the decision? I’m opposed to you determining you are not a dog person as a permananet quality of your personality. (Plus, I’m just not sure I believe it.) P.S. Loved Bibs’ toy comparison!

  14. You don’t want a DoG. You want a puppy. You’re forgetting that puppies grow up to be DoGs.

    When we had our bookstore we had a “cat lady” who when I would ask how many cats she had would always answer the same way: “several”.

    I love your painting.

    • Vivian

      Thank you for stopping by! Puppies are way, way too much for me to handle. When I volunteered at an animal shelter, I saw how much harder the DoG rescue people had to work when there were puppies to foster so yeah, I’m going for an adult DoG. i wouldn’t mind getting a senior DoG again, give a good retirement to an OAP.

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