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The Beginner's Guide to
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Miss Addie, Celebrity Diner: The Life and Times of a Very Picky Cat

Miss Addie, Celebrity Diner: The Life and Times of a Very Picky Cat

“So, what do you do?” the party-goers ask, ice tinkling in their glasses.

If I’m at a party, I’m there under duress. So I answer coolly: “I stay home and feed cats.”

This kind of response results in plenty of elbow room. I sigh with pleasure as the party-goers inch from my presence.

But it’s actually the truth: I do stay home and feed cats. One of our cats, our big orange Tucker, eats 5 to 7 times per day, part of our plan to manage his kidney condition.

Shnoodle, our tortie, eats twice, with a snack of organic butter in the late morning, and frequent flights across the counters to troll for lost crumbs.

But Addie takes the cake, though she wouldn’t actually eat the cake, as cake would be “beneath her.” Picky does not even begin to describe it.

Today, as I attempted for the third time to feed her breakfast, I got a little snarked up. The essay below is the result.

Believe it or not, it is published with Miss Addie’s blessing. (Though not with her actual words. It’s possible I mis-quoted her. A little.)

 


 

Addie 1

 

 

Miss Addie, Celebrity Diner

 

“Miss Addie,” I gasp. “You’re home.”

She stands before me on the porch, her fur shining in an aureole, her eyes hidden behind designer sunglasses.

When she looks up, her face is set in a lank frown. I see my reflection in her ebony lenses and try to hide the weariness in my own eyes.

Flashes pop from the hedge in the front yard. Damn paparazzi.

Miss Addie twitches her tail demandingly. I open the door further. With that tail at full sail, she drifts in. Safely away from the prying eyes of her public, she flicks off her shades and sighs.

“Muh-ther,” she says in a newly-affected accent (it’s that damned Hollywood pack she runs with now), “fetch me three tiny sardines on a swizzle stick, that’s a dear.”

Then she throws herself on the chaise lounge and grooms a laconic paw, sighing intermittently at the boredom of waiting for her meals.

I cannot tell you the number of times she has sent meals back to the kitchen lately. “This salmon is not pink enough. It certainly was not wild-caught.” Or, “I have told you – I have told you – that I require pan-seared venison on top of every dish. Do you not understand my words?”

“Yes’m,” I say, then quickly correct myself: “Yes, dear.” After all, I am ostensibly this cat’s mother, though not by birth, and I shouldn’t have to ma’am her.

Yet I do.

I whisk the dish from beneath her whiskers – which, I note, appear to be woven with celebrity-style whisker extensions – and hurry back to the kitchen, where I fumble with her needful: freeze-dried chicken, venison, and lobster à la crème, garnishing her dish within an inch of its life.

When I return said dish beneath her upraised nose, the real cat food beneath is nearly suffocated beneath the savory embellishments.

Miss Addie brightens. “Ah. Good girl,” she says, mocking me. Who is the master here? Who is the mom?

Then she flips her whisker extensions behind her shoulders, recomposes her look of vague disgust, and proceeds to nibble. Slowly.

These days, I daren’t step outside – there could be photographers lurking in every shrub, hanging from the limb of every tree. I can’t walk into a newstand lately without seeing my cat emblazoned across the pages of gossip magazines. I can’t even open Google without seeing Doodles in her honor.

My life is reduced to feeding, and feeding, and feeding once more, and, when that is done, collecting my motherly due: a rub of fur against the cheek, a swath of shed cat hair clinging to my moisturizer, before Miss Addie drifts back out for a photo shoot with People Magazine.

The things I do for duty. The things I do for cats.

Miss Addie did not always have celebrity dining preferences. Long ago, when she was young, she would eat anything I’d fling her way. We were a kibble house then, with full use of our front yard, sans paparazzi. The only eyes that gazed toward us were those of nosy neighbors. This is the natural state of our ecosystem.

But then my husband and I suffered a fit of nutrition, and henceforth switched her to extraordinarily expensive raw food — the kind that requires notarized proof of income before purchase — whereupon Miss Addie joined feline high society, and began carousing in yellow convertibles with the elite clique of gingers up the hill.

It was not long before she was on the local news, where she was spotted by Oprah’s joint chiefs of staff, who saw the dollar signs of authenticity in her deep, green eyes. It all spiraled down from there.

Years, and many hands-shoved-into-camera-muzzles later, I still firmly believe in the nutritional value of feeding cats raw meat, and not just because I’ve heard that a cat mom must be unbending in her decisions. (“It’s all about boundaries,” the cat parenting books read. When Miss Addie is not looking, I rub my face against these books to mark them as my own.)

But I sigh as I defrost yet more delectables, picking out shrimp after tiny shrimp because, as Miss Addie says, “I do not eat cashew-shaped crustaceans.”

I sit quietly in attendance at her meals, fulfilling her requirement of a server at the ready at all times. When she’s looking elsewhere, I reach slowly, so slowly, for my knitting, to while away the mealtimes with at least one motherly art.

Before my hand can touch the yarn, she shoots me a glare. “Your wool disturbs my concentration. Now please, Muh-ther, pay attention to me. After all, I am the kitty.”

And so I let the yarn go and focus on her, awaiting my reward: that dry cat-kiss on my cheek.

Hours later, I might still be picking fur off my well-moisturized face. But I will always bask in the knowledge that my cat is well fed, which is the only thing that counts at your best, and most exclusive, pearly gates.

 

Miss Addie is Perfect you know

 

 

I’m Stacked: 82 Library Books and Counting (a.k.a., Blame It on the Paint)

I’m Stacked: 82 Library Books and Counting (a.k.a., Blame It on the Paint)

The librarian handed me back my card, cocking an eyebrow all the while.

“You,” she said, slightly breathless, “have eighty-two books checked out.”

My eyes bulged out of my skull, or nearly. At the very least, I felt a boggle and a breeze in the eye socket area.

“Our limit is eighty,” she went on, “but I extended it for you.”

This is one of the many benefits of my library’s Obsessive Reader Program. That and a fire protection plan for my library card, which has been known to burn upon re-entering the atmosphere.

I began my cantata of thank yous, hoisting up my new stack of library books — the latest acquisitions in my over-eighty-item collection. Making firm promises to return at least two books as soon as possible (none were near their due dates, but as with all things, the reckoning would cometh), I teetered from the building under the weight of my books and hefted the volumes into my car.

I achieved rather low gas mileage on the drive home.

It’s not that I checked all eighty-two out at once. That would have required biceps of staggering proportions, and my biceps currently operate at the sub-microscopic level.

But, as with all addictions, the problem began gradually, one book, two books, eighteen books at a time. Soon, I stood lost in the maze of their shadows, calling out a desperate “Marco?” in hopes that someone would Polo me back.

 



 

stacks o books 2

Here is the complete collection. If you examine the titles closely, you can probably learn just about everything there is to know about me. Throw in a book on animal communication and any title by P.G. Wodehouse, and you’d have the full meal deal.

By the way, there may be more than eighty-two books pictured here. Turns out that a few of them were checked out on my husband’s card. And just a few more were maybe on my sister-in-law’s. This is not unlike an alcoholic disposing of bottles in other people’s bins.

stacks o books 1

 



 

You and your fellow rational people may wonder: Why this literary insanity?

I’ll tell you why in a single word: Watercolor.

I have been caught in the riptide of this watery medium, and it will not let go. I think about it all day. I even have dreams about it: Like the other night, when I dreamed that I was eating watercolor paint by the spoonful, straight from the tube. (Note: Not recommended. One should always dilute one’s paints.)

As a beginner, I am prepared to paint terrible watercolors, just as I’m prepared to write terrible words. Creating terrible things has been part of my life for decades. I wake up in the morning, yawn, and prep a cup of tea, all the while greeting the terrible things I’ve created over the years. We co-exist. So, the terror of terribleness doesn’t frighten me.

It’s the terror of not knowing what the hell I’m doing with really expensive things that sets my brush quivering in my grip.

Having been a writer for most of my life now, I have been in the unique position of acquiring my art supplies — words, vocabulary, loquacity — for free. Now that I am approaching the ivory tower of watercolor, complete with its decorative cascade in a well-lit and delicately-shaded garden, I am forced to pay for my supplies, a consummation devoutly to be avoided.

As for acrylic paints, my former glory? Those cost mere pennies to the Rolls Royce that is the watercolor medium.

To stem any potential financial hemorrhaging, I decided, rationally and sanely, with elements of logic worthy of a Vulcan, to do a little browsing at my local library, just to see what I could learn for (ahem) free, before I bought paint tubes by the wheelbarrow-load.

And so it begins.

 

stack o watercolor books 1

 

True, just under half of my eighty-two library books are on the topic of watercolor. I’ve also checked out volume after volume of essays, brick-heavy novels I’ll likely never read, dog and cat memoirs (not written directly by the dogs and cats themselves) and books with endless portraits of dogs and cats for my viewing pleasure. This is my normal operating condition for library use. It’s the watercolor books that put me over the top by approximately forty titles.

Unfortunately, most of the watercolor tomes are well beyond me. I paw through them, panting at the sight of magenta mingled with yellow in a symphony of sunrise hues. The pre-painting drawings, on their own, are stunning, causing the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain student inside me to crawl back into her shell and watch endless reruns of Newhart.

But, like the good addict I am, I keep returning to the library for another fix:

I spill my stack of watercolor books on the counter, slapping my card down on its peak.

“Hit me again,” I say, voice gruff with need.

The librarians take my card, pour me another pint of pages, then wipe down the counter with a white towel, whistling tunelessly between their teeth.

And so it goes on.

 


 

 

stack o watercolor books 2

 

 

P.S. I also have fifty-five tabs open in my Internet browser at this time. Could there be a correlation?

 

 

We Interrupt Our Regular Dogcasting to Bring You… Chow?

We Interrupt Our Regular Dogcasting to Bring You… Chow?

 

 

chow 1

World, meet Chow?

 

 

Each month, I fizz with delight when I get to join a group of local artists (or people who absolutely are artists but claim not to be) who get together with art teacher Dorothea Tortilla to make weird stuff.

Last week, as we bubbled our way into her studio for a class, we were met with paper, and lots of it — scraps and bits, paint-spangled sheets, and rolls of corrugated goodness.

Our assignment: Use the paper to make a big 3-D face. My variation, because I am allergic to art without animals in it: Use the paper to make a dog face with an enormous blue tongue.

This is naturally what any sane person would have thought of.

The result is called Chow? 

  • The “chow” bit for chow chow dogs, whose tongues match this guy’s.
  • The “?” bit because I prefer dinner requests, like Jeopardy replies, to be in the form of a question.

 

 

daisy ignoring chow

Daisy ignoring Chow?
After an initial sniff-a-thon, she wanted nothing to do with my papery friend.
Poor Chow?

 

 

 

gloria sniffing chow

Gloria shiffing Chow? under duress.
Apparently, Chow? does not smell right. Who knew?
Poor Chow? indeed.

 

 

Making Chow? was a bit intimidating. I didn’t know if I could push myself out into that third dimension, after messing around in the world of 2-D cartoons for so long. I fiddled ineffectually for awhile, trying to jut a nose out into the air. Not an easy task.

But suddenly, the third dimension clicked into place. Out popped that muzzle, and the rest was all glueguns and glitter. (Minus the glitter, of course.)

My favorite part of Chow? The eyeballs. The fur. The big blue tongue.

The eyeballs, incidentally, are origami boxes. I do not possess the Origami Superpower gene, but thankfully, these boxes were pre-folded for my convenience, and lay among the flotsam of Dorothea’s studio (a magical place).

True story: Chow?’s left eye comes off. Or at least the lid does — the lid of the box, that is. Then the eyelid pops right back on. Talk about your parlor tricks. Needless to say, this should not be tried at home.

Unfortunately, Chow? is a little too shy to be photographed with only a single eyelid, so we’ll give him his dignity. We won’t, however, say much about my own.

 

 

portrait of the artist hiding behind a dog

Portrait of the artist hiding behind Chow?

 

 

 

Gusty Beaches and Things that Look Like Things, a.k.a., Drawing on the Windy Side of the Brain

Gusty Beaches and Things that Look Like Things, a.k.a., Drawing on the Windy Side of the Brain

    It was windy at the beach for awhile. Like, really.       Even the dogs’ ears were a-blowin’.           You can’t see it in these photos, but sometimes the wind was so strong it lifted waves of sand from the beach and blasted it against our skin. It wasContinue Reading

So What IS the Blue Dog’s Name? Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

So What IS the Blue Dog’s Name? Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

  Ever have one of those weeks where all of your well-intentioned to-do lists melt into a molten puddle, not unlike the faces of the Nazis on beholding the ark? Yeah, me too. That was last week. I do not know what happened to last week. I may have misplaced it. If so, I’ll findContinue Reading

This Big Blue Boy Needs a Name: Will You Help?

This Big Blue Boy Needs a Name: Will You Help?

  Have you ever been in a state of flow? No? But of course you have. Of course. Forgive me for thinking otherwise. I’ve been in a crazy kind of flow state for a couple of weeks, off and on (with an itsy-bitsy three-day anxiety attack and a tiny thyroid brouhaha — exhaustion and brain fog and all sortsContinue Reading

Noodles and Orange Cats and Sharing, Oh My: A Short Swim through Vulnerability Land (and an invite for you to swim, too)

Noodles and Orange Cats and Sharing, Oh My: A Short Swim through Vulnerability Land (and an invite for you to swim, too)

  I’ve been noodling on a blog post for a few days now. But this morning at breakfast, as I gazed at the world over peanut-butter-and-banana toast, my noodle starting noodling in a whole new way. Quite frankly, the old brain bowled me over. I had been planning a post — a nice, safe post, in which I makeContinue Reading

Dreaming Big in Harmonyland: A State of the Human Address

Dreaming Big in Harmonyland: A State of the Human Address

      Picture it: A human being, waking up to her own life. There would be much rubbing-of-sleep from eyes, and many moments of caffeinated affection (chocolate, anyone?). Perhaps there would be stretching, and the kind of indelicate yawns done when one is assured that there are no cameras or phones in the vicinity.Continue Reading

It’s 2015, and (After a Brief Hiatus) the Stars are Back in My Eyes (Ooh, Project Light Year!)

It’s 2015, and (After a Brief Hiatus) the Stars are Back in My Eyes (Ooh, Project Light Year!)

  Here we are again, at a new year, with all new groups to join. There are the groups of power treadmillers, which bring to mind bevies of bewheeled hamsters, not your best dress-for-success imagery, but it’ll do. Then there are the groups of health hackers, analyzing and tracking every aspect of the body thatContinue Reading

Merry Merry All Around: A Peek Beneath our Cats’ and Dogs’ Christmas Tree

Merry Merry All Around: A Peek Beneath our Cats’ and Dogs’ Christmas Tree

    In mere days, the gift-giving occasion will be upon us. Luckily for me, I’ve mostly recovered from my six weeks of dread disease and am able to enjoy the festivities. We don’t exchange many gifts. For us, the greatest gift a person can give is an opt-out of the crazy, plus a good hugContinue Reading

 
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The Beginner's Guide to
Animal Wisdom

is a little ebook that will help you listen to your animal pals.
Want the book & occasional newsletter? Sign up below.

(Or visit this cute little page to hear me fizz about why this book is fabulous!)

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