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spring 2009

Howdy Folks,

I think that I last mentioned our new kittens in the Fall 2007 newsletter. (On the bottom of this page you can click on “Previous Newletters” to bring it up if you’re a feline fancier.)

Alas, the kittens are no longer kittens. Yesterday was their second birthday. I regret to report they are still as destructive and troublesome as they were when I dubbed them Genghis and Attila. The cuddly little fur balls have reached their full growth—at least physically. The black devil, Inky, is a long, thin, sinuous creature built low to the ground. He looks like a black snake with legs. The silver blue wretch, Pewter, is gigantic. I’ve never seen such a muscular cat, with long upper canine teeth that stick out. He looks like a miniature saber-toothed tiger—on steroids. He’s so burly that we have nicknamed him the Blue Bear. However, he is the most abysmally timid creature I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of the Cowardly Lion from Oz. While Inky begs to go outside to stalk through the woods in back of the house, Pewter is agoraphobic. Absolutely terrified of the outdoors. The only way he’ll go outside, even just on the deck, is if I go with him or leave the door open and sit by it to ward off any enraged titmouse, killer finch, or rampaging sparrow that might attack him. Oh yes, and if you slide the screen shut, the “Hulk” thinks you are trying to lock him out and charges right through the mesh. So now the door stays open or I go out with him. Saves on screen replacements.

You can imagine my surprise one day when I looked out on the deck and there were both cats in a tug of war over a garter snake. Apparently, Inky caught it and was bringing it back to his “lair” when Pewter got into the game by grabbing the tail. The two of them looked like they were pulling taffy. I wrested it away from them and disposed of it, much to Inky’s disgust. The next day I left the deck door open and Pewter was out nosing around Shirl’s plant stands. I went in the kitchen for coffee and when I got back to the living room, Pewter had brought in a two-and-half-foot garter snake, which probably had been sunning itself on the deck. But now that he had his own snake, he didn’t know what to do with it. It was coiled up, striking at his face when he tried to sniff it. Shirl heard the commotion and dashed down the hall shouting, “Jim, get rid of that thing before it hurts Pewtie!” Hurt Pewter? Listen, even Blue Bear’s face has muscles. I doubt a snake’s fangs could penetrate them, but I live only to serve. So there I was, down on my hands and knees, trying to grab the snake right behind the head as it was alternately lunging at the sniffing cat and at my clumsy hand. I finally got the snake, without getting bit, and tossed it off the deck into the woods. Ever the mother, Shirl admonished me in a stern voice—as if the whole episode had been my fault, “Now, you be sure to get in that kitchen and wash your hands!” What did she think? I was going to lick my fingers?

Were it only snakes, I could handle matters, but between Pewter’s panic attacks and Inky’s devilish playfulness, the have just about destroyed the large laundry room where we used to lock them away at night. (Have you ever been sound asleep when a twenty-pound cat leaps on your face?) After the last of our old boys, Panther, died at twenty-four, we scrubbed out the room, painted it, and with the help of our son Matt (the human one) put in a new drop ceiling. Then, we bought a very large, fancy new cat condo. Ah, we had a shiny new feline nursery. But then Pewter decided he was terrified of everything. By leaping onto the furnace and then into the drop ceiling, he could escape the bogyman or bogymouse or whatever. When he was a kitten, that aberration caused no harm. But now he weighs enough that the earth’s crust can hardly support him. For certain, the ceiling cannot. So far, he has busted out four new tiles. And Inky has begun to lend a paw. One night, I was awakened by this horrendous scrabbling noise coming from under the floor of Shirl’s office, which is directly over the cat room. Either two Jurassic mice were in the drop ceiling or Inky had followed Pewter up and they were wrestling. I soon got my answer. There was a loud crash and even louder feline squawks. They had crashed through the ceiling and landed on Shirl’s workout bench below. Chunks of ceiling tile and thick dust covered the floor.

Now, we close our bedroom door and allow them free run of the house at night—until we can chicken wire off the opening to the ceiling and replace the broken out tiles. Ah, the pitter-patter of tiny feet lulls us to sleep each night. They chase one another up and down, up and down the long hallway that extends from our bedroom to the living room. It sounds like a herd of stampeding buffalo. I yearn for the days when stores sold Pet Rocks

I suppose I could spank the bejesus out of both beasts, but Inky would just sneer and Pewter would be even more terrified. Besides, whenever I stretch out on our bed on my back just to rest for a few minutes, Pewter jumps up and nestles between my arm and my chest, laying his head on my shoulder. Then, he very gently puts that big paw on my chin and turns my face to his. He smiles, he really does smile! Aw hell. How could a guy spank any creature like that?

Take Care,

Jim

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Jim in front of a classroom, teaching during his tenure on our local school board.


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Jim posed for the River Nymph book cover, chose the lady with the cards model and created the basic design from which Kim Killion worked.


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