Mind Games

I know I’ve talked about cats a lot lately, but I just want to say one more thing on the subject. My cat is a jerk. And I’m not taking about the ne’er-do-well either. No. It’s Shaylee, Fairy Princess of the Field. Oh, she’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. She holds herself with a regal air and on top of that, she’s an extremely talented problem-solver. There is no drawer she can’t open. No door that can keep her trapped. No treat she cannot sniff out. I love her to death. But she’s still a jerk. I’m sure that the cat lovers out there will understand exactly what I mean by that.

What has me in this love/hate mood, you ask? Well, it’s an existential problem you might say. I feel as though I’m here on Earth, in this house in particular, solely as entertainment for my cats. Especially Shaylee.

The ne’er-do-well, aka Holly… Well, her joys are unpretentious and simple. “Oh look, there’s a half-full water bottle left on the counter. Let’s knock it down onto the wood floor in the middle of the night when everything is dead silent throughout the house.” “What, you’re trying to watch t.v.? Here, let me sit right in front of it during the climactic final scene of that movie you just spent two hours watching.” Yeah. That’s Holly. Annoying, but simplistic.

Shaylee on the other hand. She has upped her game to “master.” And her game?  “Made you look.” She has such a habit of staring at walls and ceiling corners so earnestly that I had become convinced she wasn’t just staring at “nothing,” but rather, was actually being entertained by a ghost or some invisible demon or entity that I just couldn’t see.

I know better now. Now I know it’s her way of amusing herself at my expense. And…AND…she no longer tries to hide it. In the past, she would continue her fixated staring for some time even after I tried my best to detect the focal point of her concern…always failing, of course. I mean, she at least gave me that. She may have been calling out “idiot!” in her head but at least she was placating me in action. Well. Not anymore.

Nowadays, Shaylee will saunter into the room, jump on the couch or bed or wherever I happen to be (you’ll notice she never does this without an audience), perch herself ohhh so gracefully and after a moment of casual rest…to fool me, you see…she’ll suddenly perk up her ears, her eyes will get big, and then she focuses intently at some far off point behind my head. It’s freakin’ creepy, I tell you.

And I fight the urge. I always, always fight the urge. But eventually, I can stand it no longer. I just can’t help it. I have to look! It drives me absolutely bonkers until I look! And it never fails. As soon as I look, Shaylee will turn to gaze straight at me with an amazingly condescending smirk…as if to say “Made you look. Again. Idiot.” Then she turns away and lays down in her usual spot for a snooze.

Yeah. Like I said. Jerk.

troublemaker sleeping. don't be fooled by her "cuteness."

troublemaker sleeping. don’t be fooled by her “cuteness.”

Rufus the Invincible!

I wrote this back when I had a mail carrier that came to my house. I no longer have that luxury. But the concept below still applies.

We all know that cats chase mice. Raccoons steal garbage. Monkeys eat bananas. Birds poop on heads. There are plenty of comical and stereotypical clichés that exist to crystallize the genetic nature of many animals. Take the classic: Dogs hate cats. How many old Looney Tunes cartoons featured this premise? As a kid I thought this was undoubtedly true. The first time I saw a platonic dog-cat interaction I was flabbergasted. Surely, this is an anomaly and scientists should be called in to investigate. Then I saw it again. And again. Now I know that rivalry isn’t as concrete as I used to believe. Their hatred for each other — originally conveyed as some sort of Hatfields vs. McCoys rivalry — is just a bad rap.

There is another battle of a similar nature that I think may also be more psychological than biological. The age-old Dog vs. Mailman.

My dog Rufus is the protector of the house regardless of how truly un-intimidating he is. He’s only 10 pounds and thinks he’s much more imposing of a presence than reality dictates. Please don’t tell him. We just let him go with it. While he might not be a brutish hulk of canine fury he compensates for it with his wits. For instance, he knows I don’t like blackbirds in the yard so he’s quick to chase them off — yet he leaves the other birds in peace since I like them and feed them. Smart, right?

So consider the mailman from Rufus’ eyes. Every single day this strange person comes right up to the door of my house. Thinking in dog terms, the door is a place that turns into a hole that lets people come in where they usually scratch behind his ears and give out snacks. Indeed, people Rufus likes come through at that very spot.

But then there’s this person with the big bag…he/she is never allowed entrance. Every day they try and every day they fail. There must be a reason. Simple dog logic points to the fact that they must not be invited. And if they’re not invited, then they’re not supposed to be around. And after quickly going through those steps in his mind, it just makes sense to Rufus that this person is villainous. Thus, they are an enemy. And enemies get barked at. They get driven away. It’s Rufus’ job to do this.

I wonder if this is how all dogs view mailmen; a mysterious figure always getting right up to the door but never once being allowed access. If so, our wonderful guardians of the gate are getting a bad reputation when we should be praising them for clearly understanding the dynamics of people who are “welcome” and those who are “not.” To be clear I’m sure my mailman is a wonderful person and we would have a great conversation over tea, but Rufus doesn’t know what Earl Grey is. He just knows what to do when it seems like something or someone is not invited and for that I say good boy.


Rufus the Invincible

Rufus the Invincible


Rufus on Guard

Rufus on Guard

Future Plans

So.  I was having a conversation with my daughter as we drove around doing errands, mainly about her dislike for unruly children and especially the bad parents that seem to run rampant not just in our town, but in the world. Don’t ask me why we were having this conversation…I can’t remember why it came up but I’m sure it had to do with some far-flung memory or observation of an ill-behaved child in action. But at any rate, we were talking about the world in general as it pertains to unruly children and the parents who allow them to continue their disruptive and troublesome behavior and that all told, life would be better if there were changes made in some respects. Yes, these are the sorts of in-depth, mind-boggling discussions that tend to take place on our road trips.

At any rate, my lovely, intelligent, and oh-so-tolerant daughter said: “I have some ideas, but that’s how dystopias start.”

I didn’t ask her any questions about her ideas on how to mold the future. Quite frankly, I just didn’t have the nerve.

Be afraid people. Be very afraid.

don't be fooled people. she's not all innocence and feather boas.

don’t be fooled people. she’s not all innocence and feather boas.

What did she say!?

The weather here the past few days has been really nice – breezy and downright cool.  So I’ve had all of the windows open in my house to enjoy 1) a lower electric bill, 2) airing out the house with the pleasant aroma of summer, and 3) the sounds of birds (even though the lovely birdsong is accompanied occasionally by the yodeling dogs next door…which by the way, I can’t even walk past my bedroom window because they see me and start barking – it’s really annoying.  But I digress.)

It has recently occurred to me that with the windows open, my hapless neighbors are summarily thrust into the freak show that is our everyday life and all I can think as I walk through various parts of the house, randomly yelling “stop licking my legs!” is that I hope they imagine me simply demented.  I mean, it could be worse.

leg-licker extraordinaire

leg-licker extraordinaire

Dinner and a Show

What’s really exciting is when you have TWO two-second dogs, only neither one has decent aim so the delectable morsel they’re after must be chased violently across the floor while they’re both frantically snapping at it — although snapping isn’t exactly an apt description because neither dog has their front teeth — so instead they’re sort of just gumming it wildly across the room in a chaotic circle of scrabbling claws and legs that can’t stay upright while also gnashing at each other in an attempt to gain leverage over the stray pea or carrot or whatever it is that, once caught, the winner will quickly realize: ewww…this isn’t something I like, what the hell is wrong with this human, and spit it right back out…only for the other one to seize upon it in victory and come to the same conclusion. It’s quite the commotion, I must say. Dinner AND a show.  You’re welcome to come and see it any time.


2 second dog