The wooing of Spook


As if we don’t already have enough dependents on this property, another freeloader surfaced about 6 weeks ago.

Martin spied him in mid-December, this blur of fur that popped out of the cat food container like a jack-in-the-box and shot out of the barn. What the hell was that? A cat, a fox? A raccoon?

We didn’t give it another thought until the morning after a trip to LA. Jet lagged and bleary eyed, I dumped cat food into the trays and noticed that our orange cat had morphed into two. I blinked a couple times. No, there were still two orange cats. Weird.

Enter Spook, the feral cat residing in our barn. I think he’s an adolescent, neither kitten or cat, who set down his little rucksack and threw out the welcome mat in the hayloft. It’s warm, there’s a nearby food source, why not?

I have to interrupt to say: I don’t even LIKE cats. I am a dog person for Christ sake.

As a kid I knew that felines were inferior when my granny’s cat Grover was begging at the table, and my father thumped Grover on the head with his butter knife. (Granny took note, another strike against Dad. But he had never been a contender for son-in-law of-the-year anyway.)

I grew up knowing that dog owners were active, social, outgoing people who belonged to tennis & swim clubs, and went to dinner parties where they kicked a few bottles of wine, bitched about their bosses, debated Reaganomics and argued about who really killed JR.

Cat people were eccentric weirdos who wore house dresses to the grocery store, used coupons, and drove rusted caddies that they parked in carports and then draped in car covers. They never mowed their lawns and they popped up at yard sales where they bought bad paperback romances that never should have been published. Cat people were crazy.

But here’s the thing: if you have horses and you have a barn, it’s your civic duty to own cats. Aside from their mousing services, there are far too many cats in shelters. You got a barn, toss ’em a bit of food and they’re good to go.

So, back to Spook. Call it my pet project but I’m determined to de-feralize our wild cat. Plus, I’m out of work anyway. I’ve got nothing better to do than work on my resume. Uff.

That’s why I’m clutching a store-bought rotisserie chicken under my arm like a football and perched alone on the hay loft stairs singing out “Spo–ook. Come here spooker…come on…comere kitten…”

Holy crap.

I’m becoming a crazy cat person.

I only want to win him over. Earn his trust, pet him and love him and wrap my arms around him….and then shove in a cat box, drive him to the vet and have his balls cut off.

I don’t know why he won’t come to me. Maybe it’s time to try pot roast.

Tempting Spook with freshly cooked Harris Teeter chicken (nothing but the finest)

Unfortunately, he’s not so sure

Spook status reports to come….

Farewell old friend

Little Zippy 1995 – 2009

Martin and I frequently refer to our offspring as “the kid” or “the boy and the girl” but we always call our vehicles by name. There’s “Chitty,” the banged-up ’87 Ford pickup that was free with our tractor. There’s “Big Rig,” the big-ass white pickup with the grumbling diesel that could probably flatten a tank. And there’s “Little Zippy,” my fire engine red Civic which is just that…. little and zippy.

(Ok, so there’s also a Toyota SUV but it’s utterly personality-less and not yet earned the right to be named.)

So, I’m sad to say that one our fleet sailed away this weekend. Or rather was jumped, sputtered to life, and limped down the driveway.

It’s heartbreaking, sort of like losing a toe. But lately, Little Zippy has not been a valued team member. I’ve had some good times in Zippy (get your mind out of the gutter, not those kinds of good times…he’s a small car), but he’s been lawn art for the past year.

But I will miss Lil Zip, a car bought off a former college roommate in ’95. I had just secured an entry-level editorial position with a horse magazine, and with a little help from Dad, ponied up the cash to buy my own first car. I would later learn that whilst I was retrieving said vehicle from Pennsylvania, the entire editorial staff had been laid off in a battle between publisher and owner. I arrived to work the next day to find a padlocked front door.

How ironic that I’m now unloading Zippy 14 yrs later and just weeks after being laid off from ANOTHER horse magazine. Guess it was meant to be.

Little Zippy will always be car #2. My first ride (shared with the parents) was a blue Volvo station wagon…God, that was sexy machine. All joking aside, it was stick shift, thank you very much, with overdrive.

My best memory of Zippy: cruising down I-81 in Virginia on the way to a horse show, moon roof open, music blasting, dog sitting shot-gun, while I read and re-read the lyrics from a CD jacket, to memorize all the words. Those were the days when the highways were empty and you could actually drive AND read at the same time. Ah, the memories.

Little Zippy was fast, reliable, got kick-ass mileage, and cost about 10 cents to fill up. He survived a near flattening by a tree during a summer thunderstorm. And he experienced not one, but two deer attacks, both on the front bumper.

So Zip, I’m sorry to sell you down the river. I hope you bring joy to future passengers, but judging what I got for you, you may be chopped up and used as an organ donor for younger hot rods.

The meat of our fleet: the tractor that beget Chitty, and the soon departed little zippy.

Execution day commeth


Alright you little F-ers. How do I say this delicately? Pack your sh*t and go because we’re exterminating your asses. And when I say “we” I’m talking about a hired gun, the queen bee of rodent control — these guys have like a 90% approval rating in the Washington checkbook. They are NOT to be trifled with. They are killing machines and they will be here tomorrow afternoon. So, final warning: get out!

I’ve had it about up to here (hand above head) — Drippy has defiled our mudroom and the stink is seeping into the kitchen. (I hope it doesn’t scare away pest control), the kids are running amok in the house, then at night when it’s finally quiet, all I hear is skittering and chewing in the walls.

At this moment, I don’t have a solution for the first two problems but you guys, eradication city.

Now, if you were cute like Remy, and you could whip up an omelet, maybe we could have worked something out.