June 1st 2011 4:52 am
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[SAMHAIN AND SLEEPER LIE BASKING ON THEIR SUNNING PLATFORMS IN THE CATTERY – FINALLY THERE’S SUN TO BASK IN!]
SAMHAIN: “That was some party last night at Gump’s.”
SLEEPER: “OMC! I saw this morning there were 464 posts!!!
SAMHAIN: “Too bad about those who were having all the bad weather, and couldn’t stay. I think it just missed us here – we only had the high winds. Mama hasn’t walked around yet to see if there are any more downed trees like last time.”
SLEEPER: “Yeah, I hope everyfur was OK. I would have liked to talk some more with…well, with some of the cats.”
SAMHAIN: “MOL – you mean Hunter!”
SLEEPER: “I barely KNOW him!” (blushing slightly)
SAMHAIN: “My point exactly!”
[SLEEPER HUFFS AND TURNS OVER. BOTH ARE SILENT FOR A WHILE.]
SAMHAIN: “I’m bored.”
SLEEPER: [rolling over, sighing] “Me, too. It’s so…sunny!”
SAMHAIN: [sitting up, licking her paw]“Let’s do something.”
SLEEPER: [standing up, stretching] “We could run up the tree to the catwalk and yell names at the squirrels.”
SAMHAIN: [yawning] “Been there, done that, bought the cat toy.”
SLEEPER: [hesitant] “We could write a story, you know, like…Zachery’s.” [her face taking on a smiling, dreamy expression]
SAMHAIN: [rolling her eyes] “Oh, PUH-LEAS-S-S-E-E-E! You’ve been mooning over that tomcat ever since he called you ‘cute’!”
SLEEPER: [blushing, with an obstinate look on her face] “Have not!”
SAMHAIN: “Have too!”
SLEEPER: “Have not!”
SAMHAIN: “Have too!”
SLEEPER: “Have n…”
SAMHAIN: [quickly, rolling her eyes again] “OK! You win! Besides, I like the idea…” [licks her shoulder slowly, thoughtfully, staring off across the lawn]
SLEEPER: [with a little frown of concentration] “What should we write about? We don’t know anything about the wild west.”
SAMHAIN: [leaping up and pacing back and forth] “Let’s write about escaping from the cattery.”
SLEEPER: [looking alarmed] “Oh, no! That would be too scary! I don’t want to leave the cattery; it’s safe here!”
SAMHAIN: [disdainfully] “Not for reals, silly! Just pretends. We’re writing a story, remember? We can write about anything we want to.”
SLEEPER: [eagerly] “OK! Once upon a time there were two kitties…”
SAMHAIN: “No, no, NO! That’s a baby story! We’re almost fullgrown kitties now. It’s got to be more…adult-sounding. Like… ‘it was a day like any other summer day in Michigan, hot and languid…”
SLEEPER: [stamping her paw] “I like my beginning better! Languid, what’s languid?! Why can’t we write it my way?!”
SAMHAIN: [ staring her sister down] “Because I’M the Alpha kitty, THAT’S why!”
SLEEPER: [disgruntled] “Oh, ALRIGHT!”
SAMHAIN: [ softening, putting her paw around Sleeper’s shoulder] “ We’ll leave out the ‘languid’ part.”
It was a day like any other summer day in Michigan, hot and humid. Sleeper and Samhain lay on their sunning boards, lazily slapping mosquitoes off their flanks.
“I’m bored”, Samhain grumbled.
Sleeper rolled over and sighed “Me, too. It’s so…sunny!”
Little did they know that their day was about to become very exciting.
Just that morning the Mama and Papa had left for their first ever overnight stay away from the girls. The Mama had fussed a lot over them, telling them again and again that there was extra food and water set down for them, and their litter box clean and fresh. That they’d only be gone for a night and back again the next day in the afternoon. Sleeper and Samhain could come and go from the cattery as much as they wanted, and they knew, didn’t they, that if anything threatened them out there, that all they had to do was run back into the house. Nothing could get into the cattery, Mama was confident, but for sure nothing was going to get to them in the house. The Papa said, “They’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
The girls had watched from the cattery gate as their pawrents put their bags in the trunk and then drove out of sight. The first hour or so was fun as they pretended they were two feral kitties loose in the woods. They ran up the tree; fought on the catwalk; yelled at those silly squirrels who have no business being in THEIR tree in the first place! Then they felt hot and sleepy and came back down and napped. Now that they’d woken up, they didn’t feel much like doing anything; even eating seemed like too much effort. So they lay in the sun languidly.
[SLEEPER: rolling her eyes].
As chance would have it, that week a new boy had moved into the neighborhood, and he didn’t like cats.
[SLEEPER: “Oh, NO!!! Is this true?!]
[SAMHAIN (exasperated) “Sleeper, it’s just a story!”]
This naughty little neighbor boy had seen the girls outside in the cattery and he decided he was going to go pull their tails. So he waited till his own parents had left to go shopping, and he snuck across the road to their pen. Sleeper and Samhain saw him coming, but didn’t feel alarmed right away. He was just a little boy after all, and they’d never had any humans hurt them, so for the moment they were more curious than afraid.
He came over to the cattery and opened the gate, calling to them, “Here, kitty-kitties!” As the girls got closer, he sidled his way around behind them and made a grab, first at Sleeper’s tail.
[SLEEPER: “Not MY tail! You’re the Alpha kitty – let him grab YOUR tail!!!]
[SAMHAIN: “Chill out!”]
He sidled his way around behind them and made a grab, first at Samhain’s tail.
[SAMHAIN: “There – you happy?!”]
Samhain bolted the only direction that was open to her – out the cattery gate! Sleeper, finding herself alone with this mean little bully, ran after her sister, right into the tall grass that bordered the paths her Papa had mowed through the field. Meanwhile, the neighbor boy, suddenly feeling scared he might get caught letting the cats out, ran home. The kitties didn’t stick around long enough to see this, though; they were already far from the house when he was hurrying down the driveway.
Samhain was reliving a nightmare from her kittenhood. Something was chasing her, and had caught her at one point, swiping at her head and eye. She’d gotten away, but the pain in her head was terrible, and there was something wrong with her eye so that she was having trouble seeing through it. But that was then, before the Mama came and rescued her. Her eye was fine now, and as she slowed down, she realized that it was Sleeper running behind her, not some monster from her past. She stopped, panting a little as her fear lessened; Sleeper came up beside her, shaking. Samhain bumped her shoulder, and began to groom Sleeper’s face and ears.
Sleeper was looking back over her shoulder, “Is he still chasing us?” she asked fearfully.
“No”, Samhain said, glancing back, too, the way they’d come. She could no longer see the house from where they crouched. “I can’t hear him anymore.”
“What do we do now?” Sleeper asked. She was afraid to go back to the house, even a little uncertain which way to go, not having paid too much attention to direction in her flight from danger.
“Well… I don’t think we should go back yet,” Samhain answered slowly. Sleeper heaved a secret sigh of relief.
“We could wait until the Mama and Papa come home, then it would be safe,” Samhain reasoned.
“But that’s a long time from now!” Sleeper was unsure how long a day was, and the pawrents had said they would be gone longer than that.
“What if we get hungry?” she asked nervously, nibbling her paw. The thought of food suddenly made her feel ravenous!
“We could catch our dinner!” Samhain exclaimed brightly.
“I caught a mouse once, remember? And a snake, too! And you have caught scads of junebugs. How hard can it be? – there’s got to be loads of stuff to eat out here! Come on, Sleep!” And the two of them scampered off through the grass in search of prey.
For awhile they played “cat and mouse”, switching roles as the mood struck them. It was hilarious fun, and they had the whole world to play in, with the warm benevolent sun shining down on them, and the cool grass under their feet, and no worrisome children or other creatures bothering them or telling them to “get down!” or asking sharply “what have you got in your mouth NOW?!” And there were things to catch! Butterflies and crickets! Beetles and worms! Not the bee! – Mama says watch out for those! – Samhain reminded her sister. But no mice. And now they were getting a little tired and drowsy, so they lay down under a shady tree and fell fast asleep.
to be continued...
May 26th 2011 6:20 am
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Here's a question for all you cats out there. My mama will be taking a short trip in a month or two - no more than a week or so. But here's the problem. Since she rescued me almost 7 months ago, she hasn't been out of my sight for more than half a day. And I am SO attached to her. I've gotten used to her going to work - sort of. At least, she THINKS I have! I've got my sister here, after all, and now we've got the cattery we can go out into - at least we can when it's not 40 degrees and RAINING - GRRRRRRRRR!!! And, even more importantly, the Papa will still be here to give us lovings and food and head scritches. (He likes to hug, too, but Sleeper likes that better than me. I don't tell him that, though, 'cause I don't want to hurt his feelings - MOL!!!
But he's NOT THE MAMA. Sleeper is his baby; the Mama is MINE! And she's feeling a little uncomfortable about me being too dependent. As an example: their past days off, the Mama and Papa were both here puttering around the house. Sleeper and I were both in the cattery and she came out to play with us for a bit. Then she walked around the side of the house - I thought she was going inside, so I bolted through the catdoor to meet her inside, but she wasn't there! She'd walked out to the garden while I was headed inside. The Papa went out to tell her where she was digging vegie beds, that I was pacing up and down in front of the door, meowing my head off, looking for her!!!
The Mama decided I needed to actually see her walk towards the garden, then I would know - like when Sleeper and I watch them walk to the car to leave in the morning, and they tell us "Going to work now. See you in the evening!" Then we don't worry. So, she did that, and I settled down.
But what will it be like when she walks to the car, and then DOESN'T COME BACK?! I don't have any concept of what a week is. If she tells me she'll be back, and she doesn't come back, what then? Any one have any suggestions on how to handle separation anxiety?
May 17th 2011 6:27 pm
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The folks say there could be more to come later, but yesterday and today they worked on installing some catwalks for us, so we can walk up high around the pen. On one side, you have to climb the tree to get to them, but today the Papa put in on the other side of the catdoor, a smaller perch that we can easily jump to, and from there jump to the catwalk. Mama also dug up and planted some grass plugs and CATNIP - woo hoo!!! She will sow wheat in there, too, but thought she'd better put in the grass transplants in case the wheat has a hard time getting established. I don't care about the wheat anyway when I've got the grass to eat, but she's determined! MOL
Plus she says she's going to plant non-toxic, cat-safe flowers in there! What's THAT about?!
May 11th 2011 12:06 pm
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It’s finished!!! Well, almost. There’s still some fine-tuning that the Mama and Papa want to do, but they couldn’t wait a moment longer for us to experience our new cattery, so as soon as the Mama had put the final piece of hardware cloth on the gate, the Papa propped the window open so we could come out. Mama came and sat in the pen with us, so we’d feel secure coming out into the yard. Meanwhile the Papa worked on installing our catdoor into a piece of plywood, which he then installed in the old window frame. The window really needs to be replaced completely, but that’s another chore that gets shuffled down to the bottom of the list of THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE.
I was first down the temporary ramp – Samhain, the intrepid explorer. But to give her credit, Sleeper was the first one up to the top of our “tree” in the corner. Mama’s sorry she didn’t get a picture of that, but there will be other times in the future, and by then, there will be platforms up against the wall at various heights, plus some aerial planking for us to travel on like the wild jungle cats we are – yeah!!!
To backtrack a bit, the folks have really been hustling this past couple of weeks to get this pen ready. They kept having to dodge weather, which alternated between fits of sunshine, rain, pea-sized hail!!!, 40 mph winds, and drops in temperature, which made work conditions unpleasant. Mama really loves standing on a 10 foot rickety ladder, trying to nail hardware cloth in a 40 mph wind in 40 degree weather – NOT!!!
The Papa took advantage of the existing balcony to make the skeleton of the main end of the pen. He nailed 2x4’s into the house to establish the back of the cage, to give him the back end of the frame work to attach the bottom boards. The Mama did the gopher work during this phase, digging the trench into which the 2x10’s were sunk, plus running and fetching for “the master carpenter” – MOL! (They’re neither of them what you would call “handymen”, but even so, I think they did a great job!) About the 2x10’s – the Papa reasoned that even if the cats didn’t try digging out, something else might try digging in. Well, they’ll really have to WORK at it to get below those 2x10’s!
At the front of the pen, it was decided that there should be an area that would be open to the sunshine, so there’s an extension past the balcony which has a hardware cloth roof. The Mama had said when they discussed what would be the best roof, that maybe it would be less work to go with a translucent plexiglass roofing, but the Papa said “Well, maybe they’d like to be able to see the stars!” Cool. Thanks, Papa! In all, the cattery is about 8 x 13 square feet, or 104 square feet at the base. The area under the balcony is 11 feet in height, and the extension is about 6 feet, tall enough for the Papa to stand up in.
The tree in the corner is a story in itself. The Mama had been eyeing some box elders that had split and fallen down at the edge of the property. They are notorious for doing this. They get too top heavy and just fall over, but don’t die completely, enough of a portion still being attached to the mother tree that the limb still lives. One was laying along the ground, looking like the perfect cat tree! So the Papa took his chain saw and lopped it off, trimming most of the top part as well, but leaving a couple of side branches at the top. This was just great, except according to the Mama, the whole thing weighed a ton!!! Between the two of them, they managed to haul the limb up to the cage (before it was enclosed with hardware cloth), and with difficulty, propped it up against the side of the house at the back of the pen. Originally, the Mama had this bright idea that she was going to put it in the center of the pen, cemented in so it would be stable, and look oh-so-aesthetically-pleasing. Uh-uh. No way was that gonna work! For one thing, to have something that heavy be REALLY secure, the hole would have to be several feet deep, and the Mama wanted a TALL tree. So, even if they could have maneuvered a limb the size it would have to be, they wouldn’t have been able to get it in under the balcony. The Papa was nervous, too, that the thing was going to come crashing down through the window – a not unreasonable fear. So, instead, they left the tree leaning against the back wall, and the Mama dug a trench in front of its base to ease it down into the ground for security. As she was carefully digging closer to the limb, it decided on its own to take action – that sucker was so heavy, that as soon as she’d gotten close to it, it slid down into the trench. Slowly, thank the gods! She would have preferred to have the top side limb parallel with the front of the pen, too, but NOTHING is moving that tree now, short of a builder’s crane or a tornado (and we don’t want to say that second one too loudly…)
To finish up the story of the construction, after he had the framework built, the Papa made the gate. Meanwhile the Mama cut and nailed on the hardware cloth, which she is SO glad they chose over chicken wire, which would have been cheaper, but not as strong. Remember those 40 mph winds? Oh, and standing on a ladder 10 feet up in the air during that is definitely not her idea of fun. MOL! And word to the wise: don't EVER leave your hammer sitting on top of the ladder. Mama was very tired, and forgot, and then decided to take the ladder down. She had a small but bloody gash on the top of her head as a result, and still has a nice little sore bump. She's not making THAT mistake again!
They finished day before yesterday, and as soon as we were down that ramp, we did NOT WANT TO GO BACK IN!!!!!!! The wind had picked up and it was spitting a few raindrops, but we just couldn’t get enough of running around that pen!!! At first we slunk around the perimeter on our bellies, but pretty soon I was throwing dirt clods in the air and racing around chasing my sister up the tree. Later, she ran all the way to the top and stood on the little side branch just like Mama had imagined she would! She’s such a climber, that Sleeper! Of course, Mama was a worrywort. Sleeper did just what she’d expected and hoped, but she couldn’t help but worry about her falling. It’s not THAT high, Mama. Relax. And then when we didn’t want to come inside, she worried about us being too cold. And she worried because we were having so much fun, we didn’t want to come in and eat dinner!!! I ran in long enough to have a few bites, then was back out. Sleeper did the same. Don’t worry, we’re not going to starve!
Today we are both inside sleeping – it’s been a busy day. We even had our first visitor – another black cat. He or she sat outside the cattery and looked in, but no words were exchanged. It might have been my father, but who can say?
Mama and Papa promise when they catch their breaths, they will install some more perches and aerial catwalks; plus the whole thing needs to be tilled up again and planted with grass. The Mama will include a few cat-friendly plants and flowers, too, just for pretty. Anyway, we are two happy kitties.
May 4th 2011 8:02 pm
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No time to talk now, but Mama is posting a couple of pics of the cattery which is in its beginning stages. That's me in the pic watching the Papa cut and nail boards.
The next stage will be the hardware cloth over the framework. More later!
April 30th 2011 9:30 am
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Last night the Mama and Papa were really tired, because they’d been up since even before US, getting ready to leave town to buy books. When they got back several hours later, they just had energy to fix some food (Sleeper and I helped by standing under the Mama’s feet crying for our own suppers), and relaxing with an episode of an old L&O on DVD. Oh, and I forgot to mention the usual drill of building a fire in the woodstove, changing the water dishes, cleaning the litter box, picking up things we’d knocked over, stapling cardboard over an area around some pipes in our funky old farmhouse bathroom so we couldn’t get back in there (oops – forgot! That was LAST night! They’ll have to get back to that later and figure out what to do about it.) Oh, and checking on the baby vegie plants in the computer room where we aren’t allowed to go, and then checking (by flashlight) on the other baby cabbages and broccolis that had already been moved into the unheated greenhouse to make sure they didn’t freeze last night when temps fell down to low 30’s. (They didn’t.) THEN it was time for bed. But, it wasn’t even 10 PM yet; the night wasn’t over! Unbeknownst to all of us, a floor show was planned.
The first we knew of it was only a short time after the lights went out. The Mama was alerted by what she thought was growling. The Papa was already asleep, so she shone the flashlight around to see what was up, but only saw Sleeper, squinting into the glare like “What? I’m not doing anything!” She didn’t see me, but she decided she hadn’t really heard it after all. So she lay back down. Some minutes later, she’s back up, convinced she’s hearing growling! Then she sees me, crouched down with something in my mouth, rumbling menacingly at the Sleeper. What is wrong with this picture?!
Just then I opened my mouth and what should go leaping, but a live mouse! “Oh, my – she’s caught one!” said the Mama, and the Papa turned the light on.
I had indeed caught a mouse; a young field mouse, to be exact, with a little white belly and white socks on his tiny feet. And now that I’d caught him, I wasn’t sure what to do with him! I kept letting him run, but would catch him again. The Mama and Papa are generally soft-hearted about all little living creatures, though practical. They have been known to kill garden pests, and the occasional mouse, though they usually prefer to trap them with live mouse cubes, which allow them to transport the mice unharmed to the woods. Since we have gotten bigger, however, it has been unnecessary to set up the traps, as the mice stopped coming into our living area, only into the attic and, less happily, into the walls. Normally, this stops anyway once the bad weather passes; the field mice prefer the fields where all their natural foods are.
But here was a situation that they felt should be considered carefully. I had done “my job” as a housecat. Not that my primary “job” isn’t to be the loving companion that I am! – but, after all - I am a cat, with normal feline instincts. Sleeper and I have been playing “catch the mousie” since our early kittenhood, and here suddenly was the real thing! I did what I’d been “trained” to do.
After reflection, seeing that the mouse appeared injured, energy flagging, but that I was not showing any inclination to kill it, the decision was made to end its life quickly. The Mama offered, but the Papa said no, he would do it; and it was over. I took it back and they praised me for my skill. I let the Mama take the body from me; I knew it was dead, and was no longer interested in it. They continued to give me pets and praise; I visited some of the spots where I had carried the little beastie, looking to make sure it wasn’t there instead, since it was no longer in that poor little body, or perhaps to make sure there weren’t any more like him.
Then I chased Sleeper around the house for another half hour, both of us full of nervous energy. The Mama got up and read for a bit till we seemed to settle, then it was lights out again till 5:30 AM, when we started up again. This time she grabbed us both and shut us in our room. We were tired, I guess, because we went to sleep and didn’t make a peep until she let us out again around 7:30.
Now my new name is Great Hunter!
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention - when Mama got up this morning, she found stretched out in front of the door, where the wee mouse had met his end, my own pretend "mousie". She wasn't sure if this was an offering to say "Thank you, O Great ONE, for the sacrifice made for me", or "Please, could I have another?" !
April 25th 2011 8:28 am
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We were in the doghouse (or cathouse, as the case may be!) again this morning for running like wildkitties through the house at 6 AM. I think what tipped it was when we ran over the Mama’s sleeping face for the 3rd time. She’s had a bit of a cold, and I think it must be making her irritable, or otherwise why would she be mad at us for doing our usual morning calisthenics? She told me herself it was up to me to keep Sleeper in shape – geezzzz!!!
Anyway, she jumped out of bed and grabbed the both of us and threw us in our room and slammed the door! Rude!!! She didn’t even make sure we had some dry food in our bowl, only water. That’s just wrong.
Later when the Papa let us out (our hero!), I went to check on the Mama to make sure she was still alive and that all was forgiven. She touched noses and gave me a pet, so I licked her arm, and said I hope she feels better soon. Meanwhile, business as usual! Get those legs MOVING, Sleeper! We’ll trim that mouse pouch down in NO TIME!
Oh, and Sleeper says to thank you both again, Simba and Blizzard, for explaining about the mouse pouch. She was worried maybe there were little lizard things in there like in the movie ALIEN, and they were gonna come popping out. Or worse – greeblingz…
April 18th 2011 8:20 pm
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Just thought I'd report that the Mama and Papa left early this morning to go to the dentist and to buy books on the way. We were left unsupervised for over 10 hours - a record! (Mama's a little over-protective - MOL!) And we were VERY GOOD. We did not knock over the trashcan (alright - they moved it out into the entryway); we did not drag the toilet paper roll down the hall; we did not knock things off any shelves; or eat the one remaining joya plant on the kitchen counter, though we possibly, probably - OK, we DID get on the counter! But other than that, we were model kitties! The Mama was pleased.
Also, I weigh 9 whole pounds now! Woo hoo!!! I've almost caught up to Sleeper who has only gained another 1/4 lb, making her 9-1/4 lbs. AND - our fur has almost completely grown back since our surgeries in February. You can't even tell on me, but you can see the faintness to some of Sleeper's striping where her bald patch was. I bet in another week the fur will be back to normal. Pretty cool, huh?
April 17th 2011 2:17 am
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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” Oh – hang, Sleeper! Is this the best literary intro you could come up with? The silly human couldn’t make up his mind!
Well, I know what it was – it was the WORST of times, and we had NOTHING before us, ‘cause the Mama was seriously PO’d at us for waking her at 4AM, playing with a bunch of stuff on a bathroom shelf that we had previously never paid any attention to. The Papa was amused, standing back before her wrath, only offering to get her one of the white book boxes, into which she swept the entire contents of the shelf and threw the whole thing into the computer/book room.
At present we are banned from the computer/book room because it is, for now, also the plant nursery (pic posted). The Mama says we can’t go in there for at least 3 more weeks, because it will be that long before the veggie plants are big enough, and the unheated greenhouse is assured to be warm enough for them to be able to handle the move. Most things won’t actually get planted outside for another month or more.
In the meantime, we have NOTHING to play with. Well, OK, we’ve got our mousies, and our other little catnip stuffed toys, and our balls, and our little tower, and our box fort, and one of the Mama’s foam curlers, and, of course, we’ve got each other, but we’ve played with all those things lots of times! And besides, I can’t stand the Mama to be unhappy, so that’s why I’m curled up and purring in her lap while she’s types this for me.
“It was the best of times…”
April 14th 2011 8:35 am
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This is really getting interesting! A couple of days ago, the Mama and Papa came back in the beat-up rusted-out mouse-mobile (Chevy S10 pickup truck) that they hardly ever drive (used to be the Mama’s baby till she rolled it in a ditch dodging a spooky-looking black Rotweiller on a rain-slick road. She missed the dog, but all but totaled the truck, having to crawl out of the driver’s side window of an upside down vehicle, walking away without a scratch on her – thanks to her seatbelt. Oh, she’s never seen the dog before or since.)
The truck was piled with some lumber, hardware cloth, and other stuff. Plus the Mama was carrying a bag full of wheat seed that she selfishly wouldn’t let me open. If it’s for us like she says, why can’t I open it NOW?
Anyway, they unloaded it next to the other lumber the delivery truck had left that morning. The Papa looked at the Mama and said: “I guess this officially makes us cat people." Well, duh?!!!
Stay tuned for further developments…
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