25 posts categorized "Oliver"

Unlock the Car Door With Your Mind

It's amazing what you can find on the internet. Sometimes I need to closely monitor myself so not to fall down a rabbit hole only to awaken as from a dream two hours later, my mind full of way too much useless information.

Here's one I found on Monday that fits with this week's holiday theme of publishing short amusements in place of any substance.

If University of Nottingham physicist Roger Bowley is not pulling our collective leg (I don't believe he is), car doors can be unlocked with our minds. Certain ones, anyway. Here he is with a show and tell:

If my car were not too old to have this kind of lock, I would have made a video to show you of myself doing it.

I have no idea whether this phenomenon is just amusing or if it has potential real-life uses. You can read about it here but actually, all you need to know is in the video.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: The Snake


Happy Ten Years, Oliver Bennett

It was a long time ago, 1987, when the veterinarian referred to my then-cat as “elderly.” I was shocked.

“He's only ten.” I said. “I've known lots of cats who live to be 19 or 20 and I've read of cats who live even longer.”

“That doesn't mean they aren't elderly,” said my vet.

I mention this today because my current cat and best friend Oliver, better known as Ollie, is celebrating his tenth birthday. Here is what he looked like at about 11 weeks soon after I brought him to his new home in Greenwich Village from Philadelphia where he was born.

Ollie 11 weeks2

He is a well-traveled cat who has also lived in Portland, Maine, before moving to Lake Oswego, Oregon, with me four years ago.

Ollie is a Savannah cat, a hybrid. He is about 15 percent serval - a medium-sized wild cat native to central Africa; the rest of him is Serengetti and Bengal, two other hybrids. (I don't believe that hybrid domestics are a particularly good idea but that's a story for another day.)

So, to celebrate this decade with my furry friend, here is a post about him from seven years ago when he was three. It was fun to write and produce and maybe even readers who have been here for that long will enjoy seeing it again.

It is titled How Ollie the Cat Lost His Outdoor Privileges.

This tale of Ollie the cat begins in mid-2006, when he and his housemate, Ronni, moved from Greenwich Village to a new home in Portland, Maine.

The Maine apartment is much bigger than their New York City home – specifically, much longer with lots of room for a young cat to gallop from one end to the other (when he is not snoozing).

Snoozingollie

For an entire year, Ollie the cat lived inside this house and took pleasure, when windows were open, in ka-ka-ka-ing at the birds and squirrels who hang out on the electric lines in front of the house.

Electricsquirrel

During that first year, Ronni did not allow Ollie on the deck because cats are known to get distracted while stalking birds and bees and butterflies. Who knows, he might forget himself and take a flying leap off the second-floor deck.

Deck1

It was a distraction when Ronni, on a beautiful day, took lunch or dinner among her flowers and plants or read a book lying on the chaise longue, purchased just for that purpose, while Ollie screamed through the screen door demanding to join her. But Ronni has lived with cats all her life and knows their wandering ways. So Ollie was deprived of the one thing he wanted most – to be outdoors.

Deckivy

It wasn’t easy keeping Ollie in the house. Cats are born experts at whisking between human feet when they want to get somewhere they are not allowed. Especially when Ronni was carrying dirty clothes through the kitchen door and back hall to the laundry room or was hauling the big watering can to the deck, Ollie sometimes escaped, but not for long. Ronni is practiced at catching errant cats.

Backhall

Still, it was tiring for Ronni to keep constant watch on Ollie when doors were opened and closed and she did feel sorry for the little fellow who desperately wanted to frolic in the fresh air and take in the heady aromas that only cats and dogs can smell. And so, when the snows had melted and spring arrived, Ronni relented.

Olliewithflowers

At first, she stayed with Ollie when he played on the deck so she would be there to grab him if his interest in a bug took him too close to the edge. But humans – or, at least, Ronni – are more easily bored with bug stalking than cats and in time, Ollie was allowed on the deck alone.

In fact, when Ollie altered their morning routine by yelling to have the kitchen door opened before breakfast and even, sometimes, before sunrise, Ronni left all the doors open on good weather days so Ollie could come and go at his whim. And all was well - or close enough, if you don’t count regurgitated dead bugs on the rug.

Deadbug

When it wasn’t raining, Ollie spent most of his summer days on the deck chasing bugs or snoozing on his favorite outdoor chair. It was his habit to check in with Ronni at her desk a couple of times in the afternoon or, on hot, humid days, to loll around indoors stretched out on the cool porcelain of the bathtub. And on a few occasions, he spent the night sleeping on the chaise. Ronni tried that one time herself and understood the attraction on a cool summer night.

Deckchaise

Ollie likes to eat at about 5:30PM and if Ronni hasn’t filled his bowl by then, he tracks her down and taps her on the arm in a certain way that means, “Hey, it’s dinner time. You don’t expect me to eat those leftover crumbs from breakfast, do you?”

Several days ago, Ronni looked up from her laptop and realized it was an hour past Ollie’s dinner time. He had not reminded her and she had not seen him since early afternoon. Where could he be? She checked the deck. No Ollie.

Deck2

Ronni called his name from the kitchen - he usually comes – but no Ollie. She checked behind the sofa…

Behindsofa

No Ollie. She checked his cupboard hidey-hole…

Cupboard

No Ollie. She checked the guest room closet…

Closet

Still no Ollie. She looked under the bed. There were some lost cat toys, but…

Underbed

…no cat. She hadn’t done laundry that day, but just in case, she checked the washer and dryer…

Washerdryerpsd

They were empty - of a cat, anyway. She checked behind Ollie’s favorite deck chair where garden equipment is kept.

Behindchair

No Ollie. The cat was gone, gone, gone. How could that be? wondered Ronni. Then it struck her in all its horror - perhaps Ollie had fallen off the deck. You see, there is a six-inch lip of flooring beyond the fence of the deck. Ronni could never watch when Ollie patrolled out there.

Deckedge

Heart pounding, Ronni grabbed a flashlight – dusk was settling in – and ran downstairs to the small back yard. She looked behind every bush and flower and weed. With great relief, Ronni found no dead or injured cat. She looked up at her deck – it was a long way down.

Exteriordeck

Back upstairs and again on the deck, Ronni pondered this mystery of the disappearing cat and softly called his name. Was that a meow she heard? She called again. Yes, yes, it WAS a meow. But where was it coming from? The adjoining laundry room? No cat there.

Ronni called to Ollie again from the deck. There was no doubt this time; it was Ollie’s voice – coming from the yard.

Ronni raced downstairs to find Ollie peering out from under some plants behind the birdbath.

Birdbathplants

Even after several hours on the loose, Ollie wasn’t ready to come home and he nearly evaded Ronni's grasp. But cats sometimes forget humans are bigger and stronger than they are.

He yowled as Ronni caught him by the tail, but what’s a little pain, thought Ronni, compared to being squashed beneath a car’s tire or torn apart by the rumscullion cats who prowl the yard at night. Nevertheless, he fought her all the way upstairs.

How did Ollie get to the yard? Did he fall by accident and just happen not to hurt himself? Did he forget where he was and leap after a bug? Or did he carefully calculate the distance and deliberately jump to the ground from the second floor?

We will never know. But two mornings after Ollie’s escape, Ronni woke to a dream image of him sailing off the deck with all the magnificent grace of feline gazelle.

And that is the tale of how Ollie the cat lost his outdoor deck privileges. Ronni is certain she lost a few weeks off the end of her life due to stress and fear.

When she recovered, she was angry with Ollie. So angry, in fact, she is publishing this formerly secret, inelegant photo of him in the chair where he will undoubtedly spend more time now.

Ollieinlibrary

After all that and because the web is such a cat-crazy environment, let's just wallow in it today and tell each all our best cat stories. (If you happen to be a dog person, there's nothing wrong with a good dog story too.)


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Maureen Browing: Beware of Loose Gravel


How Did You Spend Your Working Life?

Back in June at The Elder Storytelling Place, Lyn Burnstine wrote about the progression of her career from writer to musician and back again to writer in her old age.

One reader, Karen Swift, left in part this comment:

”I wonder how many of us have had more than one career? I myself have had at least four different ones. Like you, each one pulled me to the next.”

Since then, I've been meaning to put together a post about how we who are retired or near the end of our working lives spent all those decades earning our living.

  • What kind of work did we do?
  • Did we choose it or fall into it somehow?
  • Did we stick with one career or switch to something different along the way?
  • Did we like the work we did?
  • Do those jobs relate to how we are spending our late years and if so, how?

Somewhat regularly here, I write about about how blogging (as writers and/or readers) opens us to a world of people we wouldn't have otherwise met and often leads to new friendships even if they are at a distance.

So such an exercise as this can help us get to know one another a bit better – particularly among those whose names we recognize from the comments and, perhaps, wonder about.

I'll start us off:

My first full-time job was as a typist at a mortgage loan company in San Francisco. I had no idea what I might want to study at Berkeley and it seemed easier to just get a job. In those days, if a “girl” could type, jobs were plentiful.

Also, then (the late 1950s and early 1960s), I had no more direction or ambition than supporting myself and indeed, we – women – were not encouraged to do much more. Marriage was the ultimate goal.

And so I did that in 1965. My husband was, at first, a disc jockey and then moved on to host a radio talk show in Houston in the earliest days of talk radio. It was otherwise a rock-and-roll station and management didn't understand that he needed a producer.

So I stepped in and we continued doing his show together – as producer and program host – in Minneapolis, Chicago and evenually New York where it became the number one talk show in town.

When we separated in 1971, it wasn't feasible to continue working together so a friend who was a producer at ABC-TV on The Dick Cavett Show got me a job there. After a couple of years, I moved on to producing local morning programs on several local channels and in the late 1970s, joined The Barbara Walters Specials while also producing stories for 20/20.

In the late 1980s, I moved on again to other television programs and then, in 1995, another friend asked me to take a job as managing editor at cbsnews.com – the network's first website that was just getting started, not even online yet.

That – and other web production positions later – was fantastic. Working in television, I had always been enthralled with the stories of the old-timers who had been in the business from the earliest days in the 1940s.

Like those guys then, I found myself in the 1990s in on the beginning a brand new medium with no rules yet. We were inventing it on the spot day to day, trying out new things, seeing what succeeded and what didn't.

And I did that – websites – until I was forced into retirement nine years ago.

As Karen said in her comment, each job pulled (or pushed) me on to the next. From radio to television to the internet and, for the past decade, to blogging about getting old.

Most of the time, I loved what I did through those transitions. I used the access that working at television networks gave me to talk to the people who made the news or were experts in dozens of fields.

None of those people would have spoken with Ronni Bennett but they are always eager to talk with anyone who has network letters behind their name, and I took full advantage to learn from them.

In that way, although it took my entire life and continues still, it was my college education. There was something new to learn just about every week if not every day and I took complete advantage of my access.

Of course, it wasn't as smooth sailing as that sounds. In between the good jobs, I once ran a high-end dating service ($1500 to join) for an acquaintance who owned it, edited chapters for a textbook publisher, wrote stories for the in-flight magazine of an all-first class airline that is now defunct and for two years tried to run my own film and TV research company just as the internet was becoming ubiquitous and no one needed that kind of service anymore.

The biggest difference today with this blog is that I can voice my opinion which is a 180-degree departure from everything else I did that can, at times, still feel like I'm crossing a line I shouldn't – but I'm mostly comfortable with that now.

An ancillary thought to all this is that as I look back, it all seems inevitable which is, sometimes, how I feel about all of life itself – as though I had nothing to say about each step of the way through these 72 years, that it is written in some book somewhere and I'm just following the arrows pointing the way.

On other days I feel differently – that I've made every choice myself. But that's getting way too existential for this post.

Now it's your turn. How have you spent your working life? And remember, on the internet you are not confined by space – use as much as you want. Just please, use paragraphs so it's readable.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Apprehension


Moving is a Lot More Than Packing

category_bug_journal2.gif The moving van is due here on 12 May and packing is coming along fine, a few boxes each day. I'm being ruthless about what to keep. No one needs 38 coffee mugs many of which were Secret Santa gifts at work over many years (nothing ever breaks in my kitchen), so I whittled them down to eight. I'm also getting rid of half my clothes and a whole lot of shoes along with the general detritus that accumulates in four years.

But downsizing and packing are the easiest part of preparing to move – nothing to it but time and energy. The harder part is untangling life in one city and re-establishing it in another. Look at the list:

Banking
Safe Deposit Box
Insurance
Electric company
Internet ISP
Cable TV
Email
Water/Sewer/Trash
Heating fuel
Social Security Direct Deposit
Medicare
Medicare Supplemental
Medicare Part D
Doctor
Dentist
Prescription
Veterinarian
Travel arrangements
Postal change of address
Snailmail subscriptions changes
Telephone

It's not that it is particularly difficult, but it is a horrendous time sink with the large number of phone calls to make and return, many of them in two cities with a lot of wait time on hold or tracking down the right person to speak with.

But some of it almost took care of itself. I had opened a checking account in Lake Oswego when I was there a few weeks ago. It's a small, local bank where I can call the vice president I met when I have questions or needs.

Water/sewer/trash is covered in the homeowners association dues at my new home. The electric companies in Maine and Oregon handled the change with a minimum of conversation. Telephone is not an issue; I dumped the VoIP a couple of years ago for cell only.

I become more impressed with government bureaucracy every time I deal with Social Security. It took less than five minutes on the telephone to find out what to do about SSA direct deposit.

The day of the last deposit I want to go into my Maine account, I just phone and give them the information about my bank account in Oregon and they assure me the change will be made in time for the next month's deposit. And, they take care of notifying Medicare of the change of address. I haven't checked yet, but I think this can be accomplished online if I choose to do it that way. I need to contact my Medicare Parts B and D providers separately.

Cable TV and internet here in Maine are more complicated. The two people I've spoken with so far at the provider had difficulty understanding the concept of “cancel” and gave me conflicting instructions on returning their equipment. I'm still working on that. I'll be in a hotel here in Maine for five days after the moving van leaves until the closing. The hotel has free WiFi, but I need to work out how to reconfigure my email for that period of time.

My Maine insurance agent easily handled ending my homeowner's policy here (auto insurance remains in effect until I purchase new coverage in Oregon - within 30 days), so there is the necessity of finding an agent there. I've got a line on that.

I had notified my doctor, dentist and the veterinarian that I am leaving and they prepared copies of medical records which I picked up last week. None have recommendations for me in Oregon, but I'm making inquiries and it should not be difficult.

The prescription switch is much easier than I thought it would be. I picked up a 90-day supply last week and the pharmacist tells me that all I need do in Oregon is have the new pharmacist call him and the remaining refills will be honored.

Travel to Oregon took some time to work out because Ollie the cat is going with me on the plane. It costs an extra $100 for him and the airline is picky about the size of his carrier. Fortunately, Ollie's meets the requirements.

I can't take a carry-on bag for me because – well, Ollie is the carry-on bag. And I don't check bags when there is a plane change because they never arrive with you. Instead, the day before we leave, I'll pack up all my things in a box and ship it by overnight delivery service to my brother. That way, my toothbrush and clothes, etc. will already be there when our plane lands in the evening.

Meanwhile, the veterinarian has given me a sedative for Ollie so he'll doze during the long flight – almost 12 hours with the need to be at the airport two hours before departure and the plane change. The doctor suggested I do a trial run to see how he reacts to the drug and determine if he needs a larger or smaller dosage. Haven't done that yet.

So although the list is long, most of it is relatively easy. The important part, I realized, is having the list with columns for each city to check off as the tasks are accomplished. Thank god I don't have young kids; imagine what the list would look like then.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Tibetan Quake Victims


Holiday Repeat: Memorial Day 2008

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The revolution of Earth notwithstanding, Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of the summer season in the U.S. which for me means a lot of time on my deck, often working there all day. So I must now confront the conundrum of Ollie the cat's understandable desire, as a feline, to be out there among the birds and bees and flowers. Here is the difficulty, as published last fall under the title, How Ollie the Cat Lost His Outdoor Privileges.]

category_bug_oliver This tale of Ollie the cat begins in mid-2006, when he and his housemate, Ronni, moved from Greenwich Village to a new home in Portland, Maine.

The Maine apartment is much bigger than their New York City home – specifically, much longer with lots of room for a young cat to gallop from one end to the other (when he is not snoozing).

Snoozingollie


For an entire year, Ollie the cat lived inside this house and took pleasure, when windows were open, in ka-ka-ka-ing at the birds and squirrels who hang out on the electric lines in front of the house.

Electricsquirrel


During that first year, Ronni did not allow Ollie on the deck because cats are known to get distracted while stalking birds and bees and butterflies. Who knows, he might forget himself and take a flying leap off the second-floor deck.

Deck1


It was a distraction when Ronni, on a beautiful day, took lunch or dinner among her flowers and plants or read a book lying on the chaise longue, purchased just for that purpose, while Ollie screamed through the screen door demanding to join her. But Ronni has lived with cats all her life and knows their wandering ways. So Ollie was deprived of the one thing he wanted most – to be outdoors.

Deckivy


It wasn’t easy keeping Ollie in the house. Cats are born experts at whisking between human feet when they want to get somewhere they are not allowed. Especially when Ronni was carrying dirty clothes through the kitchen door and back hall to the laundry room or was hauling the big watering can to the deck, Ollie sometimes escaped, but not for long. Ronni is practiced at catching errant cats.

Backhall


Still, it was tiring for Ronni to keep constant watch on Ollie when doors were opened and closed and she did feel sorry for the little fellow who desperately wanted to frolic in the fresh air and take in the heady aromas that only cats and dogs can smell. And so, when the snows had melted and spring arrived, Ronni relented.

Olliewithflowers


At first, she stayed with Ollie when he played on the deck so she would be there to grab him if his interest in a bug took him too close to the edge. But humans – or, at least, Ronni – are more easily bored with bug stalking than cats and in time, Ollie was allowed on the deck alone.

In fact, when Ollie altered their morning routine by yelling to have the kitchen door opened before breakfast and even, sometimes, before sunrise, Ronni left all the doors open on good weather days so Ollie could come and go at his whim. And all was well - or close enough, if you don’t count regurgitated dead bugs on the rug.

Deadbug


When it wasn’t raining, Ollie spent most of his summer days on the deck chasing bugs or snoozing on his favorite outdoor chair. It was his habit to check in with Ronni at her desk a couple of times in the afternoon or, on hot, humid days, to loll around indoors stretched out on the cool porcelain of the bathtub. And on a few occasions, he spent the night sleeping on the chaise. Ronni tried that one time herself and understood the attraction on a summer night.

Deckchaise


Ollie likes to eat at about 5:30PM and if Ronni hasn’t filled his bowl by then, he tracks her down and taps her on the arm in a certain way that means, “Hey, it’s dinner time. You don’t expect me to eat those leftover crumbs from breakfast, do you?”

Several days ago, Ronni looked up from her laptop and realized it was an hour past Ollie’s dinner time. He had not reminded her and she had not seen him since early afternoon. Where could he be? She checked the deck. No Ollie.

Deck2


Ronni called his name from the kitchen - he usually comes – but no Ollie. She checked behind the sofa…

Behindsofa


No Ollie. She checked his cupboard hidey-hole…

Cupboard


No Ollie. She checked the guest room closet…

Closet


Still no Ollie. She looked under the bed. There were some lost cat toys, but…

Underbed


…no cat. She hadn’t done laundry that day, but just in case, she checked the washer and dryer…

Washerdryerpsd


They were empty - of a cat, anyway. She checked behind Ollie’s favorite deck chair where garden equipment is kept.

Behindchair


No Ollie. The cat was gone, gone, gone. How could that be? wondered Ronni. Then it struck her in all its horror - perhaps Ollie had fallen off the deck. You see, there is a six-inch lip of flooring beyond the fence of the deck. Ronni could never watch when Ollie patrolled out there.

Deckedge


Heart pounding, Ronni grabbed a flashlight – dusk was settling in – and ran downstairs to the small back yard. She looked behind every bush and flower and weed. With great relief, Ronni found no dead or injured cat. She looked up at her deck – it was a long way down.

Exteriordeck


Back upstairs and again on the deck, Ronni pondered this mystery of the disappearing cat and softly called his name. Was that a meow she heard? She called again. Yes, yes, it WAS a meow. But where was it coming from? The adjoining laundry room? No cat there.

Ronni called to Ollie again from the deck. There was no doubt this time; it was Ollie’s voice – coming from the yard.

Ronni raced downstairs to find Ollie peering out from under some plants behind the birdbath.

Birdbathplants


Even after several hours on the loose, Ollie wasn’t ready to come home and he nearly evaded Ronni's grasp. But cats sometimes forget humans are bigger and stronger than they are.

He yowled as Ronni caught him by the tail, but what’s a little pain, thought Ronni, compared to being squashed beneath a car’s tire or torn apart by the rumscullion cats who prowl the yard at night. Nevertheless, he fought her all the way upstairs.

How did Ollie get to the yard? Did he fall by accident and just happen not to hurt himself? Did he forget where he was and leap after a bug? Or did he carefully calculate the distance and deliberately jump to the ground from the second floor?

We will never know. But two mornings after Ollie’s escape, Ronni woke to a dream image of him sailing off the deck with all the magnificent grace of feline gazelle.

And that is the tale of how Ollie the cat lost his outdoor deck privileges. Ronni is certain she lost a few weeks off the end of her life due to stress and fear.

When she recovered, she was angry with Ollie. So angry, in fact, she is publishing this formerly secret, inelegant photo of him in the chair where he will undoubtedly spend more time now that he has lost his deck privileges.

Ollieinlibrary

[New postings begin again tomorrow at The Elder Storytelling Place.]


Weather Update and Ollie the Cat

category_bug_oliver Let me know when you’re tired of snow pictures. I have a houseguest this week and it’s been otherwise busy around here too. This is the best I can do for today.

Last week, Portland, Maine had an astonishing winter respite with the temperature in the 50s and 60s for three days. Of course, with the amount of snow piled up from recent storms, that just left us with ankle-deep slush but it was a pleasure to go outdoors without bundling up enough to look like the Michelin man.

The latest storm, on Monday, was big-time. It began around 6AM and was raging four hours later. You can see how heavily it was coming down by how high it is on the car’s tires.

Snowstorm1


The snow had not let up at all by early afternoon. The sky was low, the winds were high and it felt to me like a holiday – an excuse to set aside even indoor chores, stare out the window and daydream.

Snowstorm2


Although the weatherman said the storm would not run its course until 10PM, that didn’t stop an intrepid neighbor from getting a head start on cleanup in the late afternoon. Me? I waited for the handyman to dig out my car and sidewalk the next morning. I think I’m becoming accustomed – or inured – to weekly winter snowstorms.

Snowstorm3


On to cats. They are ever inventive and just when you think you know their repertoire, they surprise you with something new that leaves you puzzling about what goes on in their walnut-sized brains.

Recently, when it is meal time, Ollie the cat has taken to jumping on the counter under the cupboard where his food is stored. He eats there now until he’s had his fill, after which I put his bowl on the floor by his water for later snacking. It has become, at his instigation, our twice-daily routine.

Step back in time a few weeks to when Ollie appropriated a small piece of bubble wrap that came with a gift. Of two or three dozen toys, it became his favorite and I wrapped a rubber band around the middle to give it some heft for me to throw when we play run and fetch.

Now cut to four days ago when, at breakfast, Ollie brought his bubble wrap onto the meal counter. He spent a great deal of time and effort – sometimes sitting back to gauge his progress – positioning it on his bowl to suit whatever mysterious purpose he had in mind…

Oliverfood1


…making it as difficult as possible to get his head in the bowl to eat. When he accidentally knocked the bubble wrap off the bowl, he took time and care in replacing it just so before finishing his meal.

Oliverfood2


When I later moved his bowl to the floor, he retrieved the bubble wrap from the counter, placed it next to his bowl and then, satisfied, wandered off to find somewhere to nap. For a long time it was toy mice he drowned each day in his water. This is a much trickier maneuver.

And so it goes twice a day with me and Ollie the cat.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Rabon Saip recalls three precious Moments from his life that made an impact.]


Ollie the Cat Wakeup Video

category_bug_oliver I really, really wanted to sleep in this morning. I was up late reading last night, I have a lot I want to get done today so I intended to be completely refreshed from a full night's sleep.

Ollie the cat had a different idea at 5:15AM and there is no ignoring him when he's on a wakeup mission. Browsing email with coffee 15 minutes later, I discovered this video sent by Melinda Applegate. I've seen it before and lost track of where it was. I've now discovered that it's been viewed on YouTube nearly three million times, so you've probably seen it.

But it makes me laugh every time and it duplicates Ollie the cat's wakeup procedure to a tee. (Do they all learn this in the womb?) So I thought you might enjoy it again too, and now it's where I can always find it. Enjoy.


How Ollie the Cat Lost His Outdoor Privileges

category_bug_oliver This tale of Ollie the cat begins in mid-2006, when he and his housemate, Ronni, moved from Greenwich Village to a new home in Portland, Maine.

The Maine apartment is much bigger than their New York City home – specifically, much longer with lots of room for a young cat to gallop from one end to the other (when he is not snoozing).

Snoozingollie


For an entire year, Ollie the cat lived inside this house and took pleasure, when windows were open, in ka-ka-ka-ing at the birds and squirrels who hang out on the electric lines in front of the house.

Electricsquirrel


During that first year, Ronni did not allow Ollie on the deck because cats are known to get distracted while stalking birds and bees and butterflies. Who knows, he might forget himself and take a flying leap off the second-floor deck.

Deck1


It was a distraction when Ronni, on a beautiful day, took lunch or dinner among her flowers and plants or read a book lying on the chaise longue, purchased just for that purpose, while Ollie screamed through the screen door demanding to join her. But Ronni has lived with cats all her life and knows their wandering ways. So Ollie was deprived of the one thing he wanted most – to be outdoors.

Deckivy


It wasn’t easy keeping Ollie in the house. Cats are born experts at whisking between human feet when they want to get somewhere they are not allowed. Especially when Ronni was carrying dirty clothes through the kitchen door and back hall to the laundry room or was hauling the big watering can to the deck, Ollie sometimes escaped, but not for long. Ronni is practiced at catching errant cats.

Backhall


Still, it was tiring for Ronni to keep constant watch on Ollie when doors were opened and closed and she did feel sorry for the little fellow who desperately wanted to frolic in the fresh air and take in the heady aromas that only cats and dogs can smell. And so, when the snows had melted and spring arrived, Ronni relented.

Olliewithflowers


At first, she stayed with Ollie when he played on the deck so she would be there to grab him if his interest in a bug took him too close to the edge. But humans – or, at least, Ronni – are more easily bored with bug stalking than cats and in time, Ollie was allowed on the deck alone.

In fact, when Ollie altered their morning routine by yelling to have the kitchen door opened before breakfast and even, sometimes, before sunrise, Ronni left all the doors open on good weather days so Ollie could come and go at his whim. And all was well - or close enough, if you don’t count regurgitated dead bugs on the rug.

Deadbug


When it wasn’t raining, Ollie spent most of his summer days on the deck chasing bugs or snoozing on his favorite outdoor chair. It was his habit to check in with Ronni at her desk a couple of times in the afternoon or, on hot, humid days, to loll around indoors stretched out on the cool porcelain of the bathtub. And on a few occasions, he spent the night sleeping on the chaise. Ronni tried that one time herself and understood the attraction on a cool summer night.

Deckchaise


Ollie likes to eat at about 5:30PM and if Ronni hasn’t filled his bowl by then, he tracks her down and taps her on the arm in a certain way that means, “Hey, it’s dinner time. You don’t expect me to eat those leftover crumbs from breakfast, do you?”

Several days ago, Ronni looked up from her laptop and realized it was an hour past Ollie’s dinner time. He had not reminded her and she had not seen him since early afternoon. Where could he be? She checked the deck. No Ollie.

Deck2


Ronni called his name from the kitchen - he usually comes – but no Ollie. She checked behind the sofa…

Behindsofa


No Ollie. She checked his cupboard hidey-hole…

Cupboard


No Ollie. She checked the guest room closet…

Closet


Still no Ollie. She looked under the bed. There were some lost cat toys, but…

Underbed


…no cat. She hadn’t done laundry that day, but just in case, she checked the washer and dryer…

Washerdryerpsd


They were empty - of a cat, anyway. She checked behind Ollie’s favorite deck chair where garden equipment is kept.

Behindchair


No Ollie. The cat was gone, gone, gone. How could that be? wondered Ronni. Then it struck her in all its horror - perhaps Ollie had fallen off the deck. You see, there is a six-inch lip of flooring beyond the fence of the deck. Ronni could never watch when Ollie patrolled out there.

Deckedge


Heart pounding, Ronni grabbed a flashlight – dusk was settling in – and ran downstairs to the small back yard. She looked behind every bush and flower and weed. With great relief, Ronni found no dead or injured cat. She looked up at her deck – it was a long way down.

Exteriordeck


Back upstairs and again on the deck, Ronni pondered this mystery of the disappearing cat and softly called his name. Was that a meow she heard? She called again. Yes, yes, it WAS a meow. But where was it coming from? The adjoining laundry room? No cat there.

Ronni called to Ollie again from the deck. There was no doubt this time; it was Ollie’s voice – coming from the yard.

Ronni raced downstairs to find Ollie peering out from under some plants behind the birdbath.

Birdbathplants


Even after several hours on the loose, Ollie wasn’t ready to come home and he nearly evaded Ronni's grasp. But cats sometimes forget humans are bigger and stronger than they are.

He yowled as Ronni caught him by the tail, but what’s a little pain, thought Ronni, compared to being squashed beneath a car’s tire or torn apart by the rumscullion cats who prowl the yard at night. Nevertheless, he fought her all the way upstairs.

How did Ollie get to the yard? Did he fall by accident and just happen not to hurt himself? Did he forget where he was and leap after a bug? Or did he carefully calculate the distance and deliberately jump to the ground from the second floor?

We will never know. But two mornings after Ollie’s escape, Ronni woke to a dream image of him sailing off the deck with all the magnificent grace of feline gazelle.

And that is the tale of how Ollie the cat lost his outdoor deck privileges. Ronni is certain she lost a few weeks off the end of her life due to stress and fear.

When she recovered, she was angry with Ollie. So angry, in fact, she is publishing this formerly secret, inelegant photo of him in the chair where he will undoubtedly spend more time now.

Ollieinlibrary

[Doesn't everyone have a favorite eccentric relative or two? Read about Celia Jones's today at The Elder Storytelling Place in a story titled My Aunt Sadie, The Cat Lady.]


Oliver and the Tiny Intruder

category_bug_oliver It’s been a long time since there has been an Oliver the cat story here – more than nine months in fact. Time to catch up.

While I was on the west coast earlier this month, Ollie celebrated his third birthday. A few months ago, thinking he might need a companion of his own ilk, I brought home a year-old shelter cat. Disaster ensued.

The new cat tore up a rug, terrorized Ollie and passed on an unpleasant respiratory disease – all within the space of 24 hours. The cat was returned to the shelter.

It has come to pass in recent weeks, that my downstairs neighbor, singer/songwriter Graham Isaacson, has acquired a black kitten named Salem, after her home town in Massachusetts.

A few days ago, there was a yowling outside my apartment door. Investigation resulted in the discovery of said small, black kitten who did not wait for an invitation to come in.

01saleminkitchen


To Ollie’s dismay, as he followed her at a few cat paces, she immediately made herself at home checking out each room, then ducking under the bed ready for a game of hide-and-seek.

02salemstail


Ollie was not going to be trapped under a bed with this snoopy, little stranger, but he wasn’t going to let her escape without his notice either.

03oliverpeekingunderbed


Salem, not yet old enough to have discovered her dignity, gave in and when she emerged, the first scuffle erupted – bopping each others’ heads - followed by galloping from one end of the house to other - first Salem chasing Ollie and then back again with Ollie in pursuit. Up and over furniture, around and under tables, crashing into a wall or two until Salem raced toward the bathroom.

04salemcrawlingoutfromunderbed


Apparently, cat culture dictates that no attack can take place during a pee break for which the little hussy hopped into Ollie’s litter box as though she’d been using it all her short life. Having relieved herself, she immediately jumped into the bathtub where Ollie likes to keep his best toys. He didn’t pursue her; he waited patiently for her next move.


05oliverinbathroom


Salem leapt from the tub, ran several laps around the house until Ollie trapped her in the library. For a moment, they rested – warily…

06oliverandsalemresting


…until they both attacked at once, tussled one on top of the other with a few yelps and howls, but no blood was let.

07oliverandsalemattack


Salem extricated herself from Ollie’s half-Nelson and calmly sauntered out of the room to Ollie’s utter amazement and disappointment - he was just starting to have fun - Salem was finished with their romp.

08salemwalksaway

In time, I think, Salem and Ollie would be friends. But I can’t talk Graham out his new kitten.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today Eva Craw, as told to her daughter Candace Craw-Goldman, recalls the harrowing tale - The First Time I Ever Rode a Horse.]


Oliver’s Toy Story

category_bug_oliver No jokes now, please, but old ladies and cats seem to go together. If you have lived with cats most of your life, you probably, like me, flatter yourself that you understand the obstinate little creatures. You would be mistaken.

Just when you think you’ve got their number, they come up with something so unfathomable to tease or irritate you, that you are humbled by their ingenuity.

Olliewindow1 Oliver has taken to his new home in Maine with enthusiasm. He has a lot more room to run and as the number of squirrels, cats and birds in our neighborhood appear to outnumber people by magnitudes, he spends most early mornings, ca-ca-ca-ing at them out the window while I post the day’s blog, answer email and read the news.

When he is not napping during other parts of day, he has a large collection of toys. Some are store-bought, others are small household items he has adopted as his own. There was a time he favored my fleece-lined, wooden clogs which he grabbed and threw into the air. I forestalled the possibility of broken windows by finding him his own scrap of fleece and fortunately, he seems now to prefer that over the clogs.

Leopardtoy I bought this toy for Ollie because the leopard design matches his coat and he had previously shown great interest in feathers. This one has magnificent feathers and if I were a cat, it would be a favorite. But nooooo. I throw it and he looks at me like I’m nuts. I play with it more than he does.

Martymouse Although I detest the icky green color of this toy, Ollie’s esthetic tastes differ from mine and he has many a good romp with “Marty Mouse.” He seeks it out most often in the evening than daytime. Maybe the color is less blinding then.

Feathermouse But Ollie’s all-time favorite is this little mouse covered in what appears to be and I hope is rabbit fur (otherwise, I’d rather not know) with three feathers attached to its ass and a rattle inside.

Fur, feathers, noise – what more could cat ask for in a toy – and I’ve been supplying Ollie with these for two years. I haven’t been able to find them in Portland pet shops, so I called Louis, the proprietor of my previous pet store in New York, and he sent about 25 or 30 of them which I thought would be a year’s supply.

I suspect now I’m wrong and we’ll need to call Louis again much sooner due to Ollie’s newest obsession.

DrownedmouseFor the past two months, I wake most mornings to at least one bedraggled mouse in his water bowl. What’s up with that? I guarantee you that fishing a drowned mouse out of the water bowl is not the most fun you ever had before breakfast.

Countermice On any given day, there are two and sometimes three mice drying out on the counter and Ollie doesn’t appear to care, later, whether a mouse has been drowned and dried or is new. They’re all the same to him.

Until a couple of days ago, Ollie had drowned the mice at night. Then, just this week, he switched from stealth mode.

I watched as he retrieved one from under the sofa. He walked purposefully to the water bowl, carefully set the mouse on the floor and sat down. After a minute or two intently pondering the mouse, he picked it up, dropped in the bowl, peered at it, poked it once or twice and settled down to eat some crunchies – apparently having completed his task - whatever the purpose could possiby be.

Now what do you suppose is going on in that walnut-sized brain of Ollie’s? Most of time, if you put yourself in a cat’s place, you can see the entertainment value in what they’re doing. On this one, I’m befuddled.

Olliewindow2


Silly Saturday Blog Post

category_bug_oliver You’ve packed up your entire household of belongings and shipped it to another state. The new home is twice as large as the old one, so you spend a lot of time searching for new furniture and waiting for delivery.

It’s been only three weeks since you moved in, but it feels like ten and you’d like to settle into a routine before winter. Because it will be at least a couple of months until the bookshelves are built, the 50-plus cartons of books are stacked in the guest room along with assorted detritus that tends to accumulate on top of the boxes.

It is disorderly in there. A catchall room for now. Chaotic and offensive to the eye.

So when the new box springs and mattress arrived – even sans headboard and nightstands - you found some sheets, scrounged around for a summer quilt and even managed to locate the matching shams. At least one end of the room can be tidy and there is satisfaction in the semi-orderliness.

On hearing unfamiliar sounds from the room, you check them out. In place of the nice set of pillows you fluffed and plumped an hour ago is a messy nest only a cat could love. Caught red-pawed in the process of further pillow rearrangement, said cat looks skyward: “Who? Me?”

Olliewhome


Old Cats Do Learn New Tricks

category_bug_oliver Well, Ollie isn’t really old yet; his second birthday is not until August. But he has his little habits and now they are changing in our new home.

All cats dislike closed doors, but there weren’t many in our New York apartment for Ollie to complain about. Now he’s got plenty of them. A couple of days ago, I investigated a new sound – thump, thump, thump. It was Ollie trying to open the coat closet door.

The same thing happened at different times with the closet doors in the two bedrooms. But then I heard a different kind of thump, more of a deep rattle, rattle, rattle in the study. A fact-finding mission disclosed a cat with his tail wrapped neatly around his front toes looking as big-eyed innocent as a newborn babe. No source of the sound was evident.

A day or two later, I was already in the study when the same, deep rattle, rattle, rattle occurred. Turning around from the desk to check it out, I spied Ollie trying to open a door on the sideboard and these, unlike closet doors, don’t latch so he was having better luck.

So far, he’s got the knack of pulling the sideboard door toward him, but his little, walnut-sized brain hasn’t figured the next step of sticking his head in to wedge it open and get the rest of his body into the cupboard. He's been practicing, for the past couple of nights, at 3AM which makes the deep rattle sound more like booming thunder. Fortunately Ollie's attention, like that of most cats, can be easily redirected.

Sometimes there is no explaining the wonder of cats. In the past, I’ve used paper toweling under Ollie’s food and water bowls to make cleanup of stray food easier. But the towel looks particularly messy in the new kitchen, so I had a little chat with Ollie who gazed into my eyes with what appeared to be real understanding as I spoke:

“I’d rather skip the paper towels,” I said, “so perhaps you could make an effort to be tidier at mealtime than you have before. I don’t think it would be hard to do. Why don’t you give it a try…”

In the four or five days since our talk, I’ve picked up one crunchie from the floor. Go figure…

[EDITORIAL NOTE: I know, I know. As several of you have pointed out, photos are in order. It wasn't just the cable I didn't have during the move; it was also the camera software which I hadn't loaded onto this new computer before I packed the disc with the rest of the computer peripherals. It's now unpacked and soon photographs will be flowing forth.]


Ollie the Cat in Maine

category_bug_oliver As a species, cats prefer to stay in one place. Hard as it is for humans to accept, most cats are happier with a change of people than a change of home. Routine is a cat’s friend; disruption his foe.

And so for Ollie the cat, the past year has been a kitty nightmare. Being dragged out of the New York house every other day or so during individual showings and open houses displeased him for more than six months. Imagine if someone put you in a box several times a week and carried you off to another place for an unknown period of time. Not a day at the beach, ya know.

After the moving company drove off with all our belongings, we lived with my former husband for three weeks. Ollie has been a shy cat from day one, but he’s met “uncle Alex” many times and is only a little skitterish with him. At home or elsewhere, however, unexpected noises of any volume – soft or loud – send Ollie looking for cover, and every home has noises you’ve never heard before. Ollie did a lot of hiding at uncle Alex’s.

When he had just about settled in, comfortable enough to play with his toys and demand some attention, one day a little orange pill sent him into a woozy, snoozy headspin all day. He wasn’t even interested in looking out the window for the six hours of the car trip.

But he recovered quickly in the hotel in Portland and in less than 24 hours behaved as though that one room was home - chasing toys and, from the window sill, supervising a roof replacement across the street. By all appearances, Ollie was as comfortable as he’d ever been on Bedford Street in New York City.

Then, three days later, he was dragged off again to another address, an apartment much larger than the hotel room and twice as big as where he lived in New York. It freaked him. Or maybe the noise of the movers in and out of the apartment all morning were that one, last straw. Ollie went on strike for the next two days.

He wouldn’t eat; he wouldn’t let me pet him; he wouldn’t play. Mostly, he hid behind stacked cartons. Lured out with treats, he immediately threw up in the library. And kept throwing up. Until yesterday – Sunday.

Now he’s almost comfortable – snoozing as I write – on the sofa near the desk after a long morning romp around the maze of boxes and “stuff”.

Best of all, (if you’re a cat) are the number of windows here (14) to watch people and birds and shadows and rain and trees blowing in the breeze. Once we’re settled and the cartons are gone Ollie, I suspect, will be happy here and I’ve promised him that I won’t stuff him in the dreaded cat carrier for an entire year.


Crabby Old Cat

category_bug_oliver [EDITORIAL NOTE: Today, in honor of his mother and mothers everywhere, Limerick Savant has published the Limerick of All Mothers Marathon with some excellent contributions from other grown blogging children and of course, his own limerick ode to mom. Do stop by.]

Hi, there, blog readers. Oliver here. Claude of Blogging in Paris and Chancy of driftwoodinpsiration asked what I think about the upcoming move from the only home I’ve ever known. You might guess that it's not the best fun I've ever had.

Ollierestingw2006_05_13 In case you’ve wondered why I haven’t blogged for so long – well, you try living with this much work and this mess and still keep your head about you well enough to write. I’m so exhausted at the end of each day, I can’t even do my middle-of-the-night wandering and web surfing.

See, it’s Ronni’s job to tape up the boxes, then I have to inspect every one of them. Every single one. It's a big job, checking each corner and seam to make sure she’s done it right so our stuff won’t fall out on its way to Maine. If she had her way, she’d just slap on the tape and fill up a box. I keep telling her, you need be careful about these things.

Ollieonbox2006_05_13

It’s hard now too to get in a good run anywhere. There’s always a box blocking the course. They’re everywhere. And my toys keep getting lost behind stacks of boxes. I have my own way of organizing my things, but Ronni doesn’t give that much respect now. And the other day, she moved my litter box to another room. Now I ask you – how would she feel if I moved her toilet…

Even with all this disruption, I’m getting excited now. Ronni says our new home has a much longer stretch for me to run and there are more rooms than we have now. Yeah! More places for me to hide - heh, heh, heh - when she wants to stuff me in that carrier bag to go somewhere.

In case you were wondering, here’s the moving schedule I worked out for Ronni:

24 May: I go to stay with Uncle Alex. It won’t be as bad as it was when I’ve stayed with him in the past because Ronni will be there too. (Here’s a little secret; Uncle Alex is Ronni’s former husband, but they stopped being married in 1971, and they get along pretty well now.)

25 May: The moving van picks up all our stuff. They better not lose it. Some of my best toys will be on that truck.

31 May: The closing on the New York apartment. I think that means someone gives us a lot of money but it also means I’ll never see my first home again and that makes me sad.

2 June: Ronni goes to pick up our new car in Pennsylvania and drives it to New York on 4 June. That's two nights she'll be away and she said I can't go with her. But at least it's not nine whole days like last November.

6 June: We drive (together this time!) in the new car to Maine. Ronni says she’s going to “trank” me so I’ll be snoozy during the whole trip. She promised this won’t be a bad thing.

8 June: Ronni goes to another closing to buy our new house. I think that means she spends a lot of the money that other guy gave us.

9 June: We move into our new house.

Whew! All this busy-ness won’t be done too soon for me. Claude, Ronni told me that you’re planning a trip all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to visit the United States. My ancestors crossed that ocean too, although they’re from Africa, not Europe.

Ronni also said you’ll be coming to Maine to visit us there. It will be nice to meet you, and thank you - and Chancy too - very much for asking how I’m doing through all this mess. It's been so long since I wrote anything here I thought everyone might have forgotten me.

And now, I'm outta here. I need another nap - although it's hard to find a comfy spot with all the boxes taking up so much space.

Ollieleaving2006_05_13


Ollie's Personality Problem

category_bug_oliver In the past month, Ronni convinced me that dry food is better for me than wet, especially for my teeth, and I now get a bowl of (fairly) delicious crunchy kitten food twice a day. I get thirstier than when I ate canned food, but she puts out a bigger bowl of fresh water for me every morning and evening than before, and drinking from the faucet when the water is running is a cool trick. It’s also fun to splash around in it.

Oliver on sofa When I first came to live here, I liked to nap in the back of Ronni’s computer keyboard drawer. I felt safe there, when I was still young and scared, and nobody could see me. I’d forgotten about that cozy place until yesterday and I tried to crawl back there again. It didn’t work.

I thought Ronni must have gotten a smaller drawer when I wasn’t looking, but she says I can’t fit because I’m as big as a full-grown house cat now. I’m only seven months old and they say cats grow at least until they’re a year old. I wonder how big I’m going to be.

Oliver on the bed2005_03_14b My new favorite toy is one of Ronni’s sheepskin-lined clogs. They’re made of heavy wood on the bottom - at least an inch thick - but even so, I can throw it around in the air. That fleece – I don’t know – there is something about the smell that thrills me. I like to have one of the shoes in easy reach so I can sniff whenever I want, and Ronni is forever asking me where I put it.

One morning, after I’d left one of the clogs in the middle of the kitchen floor the night before, she tripped over it on her way to feed me. You should have heard the words she said. Oh my, cover your ears with your paws. It's probably because she hadn't had her coffee yet.

But we’re having a more serious problem, Ronni and me. Once or twice a day, a weird feeling comes over me and I attack her and bite really hard. She tells me, “no bite” real loud and pushes me away, but then the feeling gets even weirder and I attack again and bite her even harder. Sometimes she bleeds.

Oliver between the pillows2005_03_14c I don’t want to hurt Ronni; I think this is best place to live and the best person a cat could have. But it’s like I turn into a different cat; I can’t control myself. I heard Ronni tell somebody on the telephone that my eyes get strange-looking with my pupils real big when I do this, and that I’m like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think that’s a book; maybe I should read it.

When I’m feeling fine, I tell myself I’ll never do it again. But then I wake like from a dream with my mind all fuzzy, and Ronni’s angry with me. That’s how I realize I’ve done it again. I don’t know what to do about this problem.

Do any of you have suggestions?

Your blogging friend,
Oliver


For Tamar, From Oliver

category_bug_oliver Yesterday, Tamar of In and Out of Confidence asked how I feel about all this: the moving, the not moving yet, moving again. No, not now. Maybe soon…

Are you surprised I know about that, Tamar? I know you guys think a cat snoozes all day in between trips to the food bowl and a few gallops around the house, but I keep up with you all. I do it at night. Don’t forget, I’m only three generations removed from nocturnal hunting in the tall grasses of the African plains.

So how do I feel about all this? IT SUCKS, Tamar. Take the past two weeks, for instance. Two days before Thanksgiving, Ronni hauled me over to Uncle Alex’s place. Don’t get me wrong, Uncle Alex is a nice guy and I can tell he appreciates a cat like me, but it’s not my house and he’s not Ronni - although he does have a big TV I like to watch lying on this sofa…

Ollietv2005_12_01

Even though Uncle Alex has thousands of DVDs and we watched one excellent documentary together about cats in Africa, Ronni left me there for NINE WHOLE DAYS, Tamar. Something about Ronni taking a trip to Pennsylvania and then another following right away to Maine. NINE WHOLE DAYS.

I finally get back to hearth and home where I prefer to stay, and one day later, she takes me off to see Doctor Mary Xanthos.

Ollie_drmary2005_12_02

Now I like Doctor Mary as much as Uncle Alex. She's a nice lady and she’s very good at her job. I was there for my annual check up and shots and she’s so gentle that the only way I knew she was sticking a needle in me is that she said so – I didn’t feel a thing.

But let’s get back to this selling the house stuff. Put yourself in my place, being my size. How would you like it if you were having a nice nap in a cozy corner of the sofa or teasing your favorite toy out from under the refrigerator (great practice in case any real mice ever show up) and suddenly someone grabs you, stuffs you in a bag and zippers it up? Then – out of the house for an hour or two trapped in a travel bag.

Every other day or so this happens. I never know, when I get up in the morning, if I can have the whole, uninterrupted day to myself. And then, when I do get back home, there’s not a toy to be found anywhere. Ronni says potential buyers don’t want to see my stuff - my best smelly old sock, that fantastic-smelling leather glove and my favorite hunk of sheepskin, the one I like to throw in the air and leap for (I can jump as high as Ronni is tall) lying around where I keep them. And sometimes she forgets to give them back to me for awhile when we get home.

How would you like to live like that, Tamar? It’s not fair, not fair at all…

At least when I stayed with Uncle Alex, I knew I wouldn’t be interrupted in the middle of having a good bath.

Olliebath2005_12_01

That buyer Ronni told you about yesterday? The one who reneged on the deal? I’d like to scratch out his eyes – that’s how I feel, Tamar.


Ollie Then and Now

Category_bug_timeline

Ollie2004_2005

[2004 and 2005] One year ago today Oliver, who was then not quite three months old, came to live with me. He was tiny then and scared. Today, he is almost grown up, more than 20 pounds of lively, demanding cat. He won't have anything to do with store-bought toys. His favorites are an old sock tied in a knot and a six-inch-square hunk of sheepskin I got him so he would stop stealing and hiding my sheepskin-lined clogs.

The game he likes best is hunting for toys I've hidden beneath a corner of a rug or under a blanket and I've learned the special meow that means "let's play hide-and-seek."

It's amazing how our furry little creatures worm their way into our hearts and minds, and the efforts we make to accomodate and understand them. When Ollie has left a dozen toys precisely placed where I cannot avoid tripping over them, I think of Frank Paynter's delicious explanation of his dog's arrangement of shoes:

“It seems to me like the chaotic distribution of my footwear across the house when I return after a day's absence may have certain algorithmic properties that only an Australian Shepherd is capable of getting its teeth into…

“Oddly, I am sure the dog doesn't think the distribution of shoes is messy, but rather that it has order and beauty best appreciated by creatures closer to the floor than the housemonkeys that provide the food and water.”

- Sandhill Trek

Next...


Oliver Update

category_bug_oliver

Ollieatalex4

Oliver has been remiss in his blog posting, or perhaps he’s waiting for me to take more photos of him, which I haven’t done since his birthday in mid-August. These were taken by my former husband, Alex Bennett [scroll down], when Ollie stayed with him while I went to the Blogher conference in California in August. Ollie was much more cooperative for Alex’s camera than he is with mine.

Ollieatalex9

Decades ago, I owned Siamese cats who lived up to their reputation for being talkative. Yak, yak, yak. They never shut up among themselves, but they had little or nothing to say to me. Ollie, on the other hand, doesn’t chatter, but he does speak directly to me with intent. It is the oddest thing. He plants himself quite definitely at my feet or jumps on the desk when I’m there or tracks me down wherever I am, looks me the eye and makes a statement, clearly waiting for a reply.

There is no mistaking that he wants a response. When I answer, he follows up and there we go, back and forth, though it appears he has more understanding of what I’m saying than I do of him.

Ollieatalex1

I have more success understanding Ollie’s body language. When he’s lying around like this, he usually wants to be left alone and has no trouble forcefully expressing his point of view without saying a word.


Happy Birthday, Oliver

category_bug_oliver

Olieonback How’s the weather where you live? It’s so awful here there’s nothing worth doing but to stretch out on the sofa and pant. The weather guy said that in the past 30 days, 23 of them had temperatures higher than 90F and really high humidity too. It’s days like these when I wish I had a zipper on my fur coat.

Ollieincarrier Moving from my snoozing place is my last thought in this weather. I don’t even want to chase tinfoil balls or play strings-on-a-stick. But Ronni has been dragging me out of the house for a couple of hours just about every other day. I ask you, is that fair to a cat in this heat? She puts me this stupid carrier and drags me off to someone else’s house, and I don’t like it there. All this back and forth is something about showing our place to prospective buyers and the real estate lady doesn’t want Ronni or me around when they do it. Hiss on that!

But hey, guess what? Yesterday was my first birthday. Now birthdays are supposed to be big-deal special events, but there it was again in the middle of the day - she stuck me in that damned carrier, then we took a taxi ride and I had to hang out at her friend’s house again for three whole hours. He seems like a nice enough guy, but it’s not home – ya know what I mean?

Ronni made up for later though. When we got back home, she sang me a song and we had real chicken for dinner. And then later, she brought out my favorite treat – ice cream. So it wasn’t such a bad day after all.

About a month ago, I found a new, secret sleeping place. It’s a shelf in the back closet where it’s quiet and cool and dark. And best of all, Ronni didn’t know anything about it. Sometimes she’d call my name and call my name, but I just smiled to myself and curled up for another dream.

Ollieincloset And now look at this: she walked in without so much as a by your leave, snapped on the light and then – and then, she started clicking off pictures with her camera. I hate that camera. She’s always sticking it in my face and wants me to hold still. She caught me by surprise and I wasn’t awake enough yet to run off, but I sure wasn’t going to smile for her.

Ollieyawn But my most favorite snoozing place – except for my own fluffy pillows on our bed – is Ronni’s desk. I swear she spends more time at her computer than she does sleeping, so this is good way to be with her and every once in awhile she scratches the top of my head or mootchies my ears and that makes me feel good. I’m glad Ronni has a huge, wide desk. I’ve grown a lot since I came to live here last October. You can tell when you compare my size to these first pictures.

Ronni says we’ll be moving soon – to Maine. I looked it up on the computer and it’s a long way away – at least for a cat. I suppose she’ll put me in carrier when we go there, but she promised me I won’t have to leave the new house as often after we get settled there. That will be a great relief to me.

Your blogging friend,
Oliver


Disturbances

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Ollie2005_06_29

I don’t care what you might say about my ancestors coming from the seering savannahs of Africa, it’s been too damned hot for too long around here. Ronni doesn’t like air conditioning and she hardly ever turns it on. I know it’s my job to keep the birds from breaking through the screen door to attack Ronni, but too bad, she's on her own. The best I can do in this heat is lie here and hope.

It was hot last week, too, when Ronni unceremoniously dropped me off at David Baird’s place and then left for six whole days. I was so mad, I sat on David’s cowboy boots in the back of his closet for the first two days and wouldn’t come out.

After the second night, David grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and dragged me out. I was really hungry by then, so I had some crunchies in the kitchen and then I found some of my favorite toys from home scattered around the living room and it felt good to stretch my muscles in a good romp chasing a few mousies and some cellophane.

Olliedavid2005_07_22b

Then the heat got to me, so I settled down on David’s excellent, black sofa that nicely shows off my spots. If I’d realized how good I look there the first day, I wouldn’t have hidden in the closet for so long.

Something big is going on around here and I don’t like it. For two weeks before my trip to David’s house, there was this guy, Jimmy Flynn, who scattered all kinds of tools and equipment around the house. I had to guess where my litter box might be every day because Ronni kept moving it to different places while Jimmy pounded and banged and painted and stuff. Geez – it was so noisy around here, I couldn’t have a decent afternoon nap.

And now that she’s home, Ronni has stuffed me in my carrier (Note to Ronni: I need a new carrier – I’ve almost outgrown this one) three times and taken me out for a couple of hours to someone else’s house. She says it’s because people are looking at our home to see if they want to buy it, but don’t you think the house would be a lot more attractive if there were a cat as beautiful as I am showing them all the good places there are to stash their toys?

Olliedavid2005_07_22a

I'm not very clear yet what all this "selling the house" means for me, but the way life is going around here lately, it probably won't be to my liking. The only positive thing I can say about it all is that both Jimmy and David are good guys. They know how to appreciate a cat like me and snoozing on David’s sofa is almost as comfy as the pillows on Ronni’s bed.

But basically, I’m one pissed off cat. Strangers poking their noses in all my nooks and crannies, too much noise, too much heat. And worse, Ronni says she’s going away again at the end of July.

When will it all end…


Backyard Excitement

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Watchingtree Big doings at my house last week. Some men arrived with a chain saw and spent the morning taking down a big tree in the back yard. I liked watching them climb way up to the top (I could do that easy if Ronni would let me go outside) and cut off one branch at a time until it was all gone, down to the ground.

Ronni says this is the first time she’s had light in the apartment without the lamps on, even when the sun is shining, in more than ten years. She’s very happy about that.

Standingkitchen I seem to be looking up a lot in these photos. There’s some interesting stuff on top of the cabinets in the kitchen that I’d like to investigate, but every time I try, Ronni says no. Sometimes she’s not any fun at all. She could at least let me check it out once, don’t you think?

Cisco_winie I want to show you a picture of two friends. Well, I’ve never met them in person, but I feel like I know them because Ronni’s friend, Heather, talks about them when she visits us. The big one is Cisco – she’s a Bengal cat. And the little one, Winie - you can tell she's a Siamese - is from the same cat breeder in Philadelphia where I came from. She was born just about the time I left there to come to Big Apple.

Ronni reads a lot and I’m getting a good education watching over her shoulder. President Bush just won’t quit gnawing on that Social Security bone, will he? Even when the meat's all gone. You’d think he’d get the picture by now – no one wants his private accounts.

Which reminds me, how is it that you humans elected that guy? Cats would never make a mistake like that. As soon as there’s online voting, I’m going to register. I’ve got a perfectly good, human name – Oliver Bennett. And it’s like that old New Yorker cartoon, “Nobody knows you’re a dog on the internet,” so who would know I’m a cat when you can vote by pushing a mouse (oh yeah! – mouse) button.

Kitchencellophane But it’s not all politics with me. There are a lot of other things to keep me busy and cellophane is still my favorite toy. It's that crinkly noise I can't get enough of.

Oh, I almost forgot. Thank you for all your suggestions about my biting problem. Ronni and I both read them carefully and we've worked it out now. Or maybe I just outgrew it.

Your blogging cat friend,
Ollie


Body and Mind

category_bug_oliver Next Sunday, I’ll be six months old and I still have a lot of growing to do, but you can see here how tall I am already.

Ollie Standing at the Computer

A cat's body, you know, is a finely tuned machine and I've been putting in a lot of time developing mine. My eye-paw coordination is excellent; I’m as good as any hockey player at getting a “puck” from one end of the house to the other without ever missing a slap. And I hardly ever misjudge a jump anymore when I want to explore top shelves or speak eye-to-eye with Ronni.

I’ve learned that the computer is a cat’s good friend. Besides writing these online notes about my life, I read email with Ronni and I read all your blogs. Jeanne at Cook Sister: thanks for asking about me in your Comment a few days ago. Kimberly at Music and Cats, I really like checking out the pictures of Lyra, Sasha and Sergei every Friday. Give them a lick behind the ear for me. And a special hello to Mike, Andy and Dorey at Ranablog.

Ollie Playing Computer Game There's a lot of other good reading around the World Wide Web too: information on anything a cat could want to know and newspapers from every country – even in Africa where some of my ancestors come from. When my brain gets tired from all that input, I’ve got a special website I go to where I can play Catch the Balloon. It clears the mind of all the bad news.

But as I try to tell Ronni, no matter how much interesting stuff there is to do online, it’s not good to spend too much time on the computer. You gotta stretch those muscles. See, there’s this twine that’s wrapped around bundles of wood Ronni gets for the fire. It’s full of earthy, nature smells which makes it a better toy than those plastic things from the store.

Ollie Jumping So I got Ronni to tie a few knots in them to give the twine some heft and then she throws them way up high so I can practice my jumps. You never know, even in an apartment in the big city, when you’ll need to get away from an enemy - fast.

And that’s it for this time. I think I’ll have a bath and take a nap.

Your blogging friend,
Oliver



Ollie the Sheet Surfer

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Oliver and the Globe

Wow. Look at me! Don't you think I'm handsome?

That cellophane I'm carrying is the good stuff I was telling you about last time. The crinkly sound makes it more fun that some silly, soft store-bought toy. Like I said before, if you've never chased cellophane around your house, you should try it some time - you'll like it.

I can jump really high now. Two days ago, I knocked everything off the top of the refrigerator. I didn't actually mean to do that - it just turned out that way when I landed up there. Ronni wasn't happy about it, but I sure was. It made a great crashing noise and I got watch all the stuff roll around on the floor from the top of the refrigerator. Then I jumped down to chase it around the house. I stashed a vitamin bottle under the bed that Ronni didn't find until two days later. Heh, heh, heh. It's fun to tease her.

Oliver2005_01_10_05bedxtrasm That reminds me - yesterday Ronni and I changed the bed. There's nothing like sheet surfing, skidding along under the sheet and popping up for a peekaboo and back down under, then up and out again. Whoo-ee. The sheet gets all wound up and snarled and that gets me all giddy and silly and feeling so good. Why don't humans like to do that, I wonder.

Hey, did you notice I can use the Shift Key now? I watched Ronni very carefully and it's not hard at all. I hope that makes it easier for you read my imortant updates.

On Thursday, I'll be a whole five months old and that's the day Ronni says I get to go see Dr. Mary for my surgery. I like Dr. Mary a lot. She's a nice lady and she takes good care of me, but I don't know what this word "surgery" means...

Olliebath2005_01_04sm Here's a picture of me taking a bath on the sofa. It's a cozy spot because even though you can't see it in this photo, I'm right next to the warm fire - perfect place for bath. Don't you think my belly spots are beautiful?

Your blogging friend,
Oliver


Update By Oliver

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Oliverdesk2004_12_06

that’s me up there on the desk – oliver the savannah cat trying to catch a nap a couple of days ago. ronni woke me up to take this picture and i don’t like to be disturbed when i’m sleeping. you can probably tell that from the look on my face.

if i leave these updates to ronni, she’ll mess them up...what does she know about what i think...so i’m taking over. here goes.

Archiebook
first, apologies to archie the cockroach who used don marquis’s typewriter back in the 1930s to write prose poems about his life with mehitabel the cat. he got published in a real newspaper and books, and i’m stuck with this blogosphere stuff. but as archie used to say, wotthehell, wotthehell.

like that little bugger... he wouldn’t last long around me; bugs are yummy...i have trouble with the shift key so i’ll do this in lower case and leave it on the computer for ronni to mark up the html. she seems to like doing that. she spends way too much time at the computer, but she is such a sucker. all i have to do to get her to stop is hop up on the desk and pat her cheek softly with my paw.

1000022_img i’ve been living here now for seven weeks and let me tell you, it’s taking forever to train ronni. she went out and bought a whole lot of stupid cat toys – little foam balls, catnip mice, some silly balls with glitter stuff on them that tastes awful. dumb. dumb. dumb. anyone who likes a good chase around the house knows paper and cellophane and tinfoil are a lot more fun. plus, the rattling noise they make on the floor is really exciting. you should try it yourself.

i have my own doctor named mary xanthos and i’ve been to see her three times already. she gave me a shot and i didn’t even flinch. i’m tough. she also cleaned out some yukky earmites that made me itch, gave me medicine for a little cold i caught and some more medicine when one of my eyes got runny. i’m all better now and last time i was there, she said i weighed more than three pounds. heh, heh, heh. wait till dr. mary and ronni see how big i’m gonna get. savannah cats like me weigh 20 pounds or more when they grow up.

Ollieeating2004_12_06 i heard ronni tell someone on the telephone that when i’m bigger, she’s going to switch me to all dry food so she can leave me alone for up to two nights when she wants to go away. hah. that’s not ever gonna happen. i’ll go on a hunger strike when she tries and make her think i’m gonna die. i mean, would you wanna live only on crackers.

but even with all her mistakes, ronni is really cool. she plays with me every morning, every afternoon and every evening until i’m completely worn out and ready to snuggle up with her for a snooze. i love her very much and we’re gonna have a wonderful life together - once i finish training her.

your new blogging friend,
oliver

ps: there are some neat pictures of me here taken on the day after i moved in with ronni when i was really little. i think you can see i was kinda scared then, but i’m over that now.


Proof of My Old Womanhood

category_bug_journal2.gif Please welcome, friends and fellow bloggers, the latest addition to my household:

Oliver 2004_10_31

He arrived on Saturday, is 11 weeks old and his "sensible, everyday name" is Oliver - maybe called Ollie; we don't know yet. And, as he should, he is keeping secret unto himself his

"His ineffable effable
Eeffanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name."

- T.S. Eliot

For such a little guy, he knows a lot. He figured out the litter box right away without a single mistake. He knows where his food and water are and he made it clear the first night that a bed with a human in it is a lot more comfy than a box with a towel, so we've ditched the box already. He also has a strong voice. He complains loudly if I go into another room and he behaves, in general (as kittens are required to do by law), like the Energizer Bunny - with pretty much the same attitude.

Oliver is a Savannah, a hybrid, about 15 percent serval - a medium-sized wild cat native to central Africa - and the rest, Serengetti and Bengal, two relatively new domestic breeds. I don’t believe in keeping wild animals, nor in breeding them with domestics. But these grow up to be so damned beautiful and this little male became available when I was looking for a new feline friend. It is not the only contradiction in my life.

2004_10_31oplayingsmall Savannahs grow to be huge – twice the size of average housecats. They are friendly, active, talkative, but docile – that is, they complain loudly when irritated, but they don’t scratch or bite. Sort of like Crabby Old Lady. They love to play in water and they like to be walked outdoors on a leash. I haven’t decided yet if I will do that; there are a lot of big dogs in the neighborhood who don't even like each other.

Cats and old ladies seem to go together. There was, 20 years ago, an old woman who crept into the neighborhood at night to feed the strays in the empty lot across the street. She disappeared with the cats when an apartment house was built there and I choose to believe she moved on then to care for stray cats elsewhere. And we all know stories of old ladies who live with 27 cats.

It is my fear of becoming that crazy old cat woman everyone points at that has held my personal cat population to one-at-a-time over the years. The beauty of cats takes my breath away. The pleasure I gain from their appearance, grace and attitude - and watching their own pleasure at those same attributes - never wanes; it has never been easy to resist adding more.

Oliver 2004_10_31sittingupsmall_1 Some people say two cats are better than one, that they keep one another company when you are away, and I have in the distant past kept more than one. But none of my only-cats ever complained nor appeared to be lonely – after all, cats sleep 17 hours a day - and one died in my arms eight years ago at age 20, having hated every other cat he had occasion to encounter during his long life. So the Bennett household will remain at one cat, two humans – if you count Crabby Old Lady.

And now that I have, with the acquisition of Oliver, officially entered into the company of old womanhood, let us rejoice.