Welcome to my re-designed website! There’s my free short story “The Divvy” for you to enjoy, set in the world of The Bone Road. The Chronicles of Mingo is my ongoing exasperated commentary on involuntarily raising a Maine Coon kitten and I’ve harvested all the old Facebook posts for anyone who wants to catch up with events. And if you click on each of my book titles below, there’s the first chapter. Try it; you’ll like it.
Did you know that HDMI stands for Highly Delicious Munchable Interconnect? Well, Ming did.
So far, his score is 1 HDMI cable, 2 Apple charging cables, one extension cord, and he’s working on the soon-to-replaced power cord for the kitchen lights. Not mention the random tooth marks on the power cord to Squeaky’s cat bed. He did, as mentioned previously, disconnect the internet router, but he only yanked that one out; he didn’t eat it.
Pepper juice seems to be no deterrent, but catching him in the act and blasting him with the water pistol works. Also, it’s fun.
Mingo and I had just had an interesting interaction where I was determined to comb the mats out of his tail and he was equally determined to not let me. I had to scruff him, which he hates, and instead of a nice soothing brush I had to use the grooming comb and work fast because Bitey Bitey McBiteCat.
So we weren’t speaking.
I retired to my little old lady armchair to check for blood and he crouched in a corner and stared at the floor. Fine, I thought, go sulk. Then I saw he was poking at a twig on the floor with his nose and jumping back.
It was raining and sometimes when it rains or even when it doesn’t, two-inch brown scorpions get into the house. Normally, they are sessile and flat and shaped like a forked twig, easily killed by the cowardly human. (No, I don’t have a picture and no, I’m not going to ‘rescue’ the thing and usher it outside. They’re icky and they sting. Also the hair all over my body stands up in horror when I see one. You wanna save the big bug, you get over here and do it.)
This one, however, was not sessile and not flat. Its sting was curled up over its back and both claws were snapping at Ming, who dodged and kept coming. I suppose, from its point of view, it had discovered a warm, dry, spot and was taking a stroll when it suffered an unprovoked attack by a furry and annoying monster. I can empathize with that viewpoint. So can my other two cats, come to think.
Anyway, I’m yelling, “Ming, get away! Stop that!” as if he’s going to pay attention all of a sudden. I’d never seen a scorpion so active and while I corralled Ming, it might scurry away and hide somewhere. In the house. Where I don’t know where it is. Ick.
I did grab Ming, who was totally pissed off to have his fun interrupted, and tossed him in the back room. Then I slammed a ceramic coaster on the scorpion. End of coaster, end of scorpion. Mingo spent the rest of the evening returning to the spot, hoping his neat toy had come back.
Do I have to say I had a glass of wine? Probably not.
Obviously I selected a granite countertop color-coordinated with Mingo. Sometimes I want to take my subconscious and give it a good slap.
Probably due to all the construction, the one place Mingo hadn’t climbed onto, jumped up on, or generally messed with has been the kitchen countertop, the bar behind it, and the stove. About two days ago, that changed.
No, he hasn’t set himself on fire. It’s still early days yet.
I’m making my usual pro-forma disciplinary noises: I yell, I grab him and drop him on the floor; I squirt him with the water pistol. Nothing, big surprise, has had much effect. Except one thing.
After a tremendous amount of indecision and second-guessing pre-construction, I decided to replace my tiled bar top behind the granite counter with a wood bar. It’s a beautiful piece, so beautiful that I moaned to the contractor: “I’ll probably kill the first person who sets a wet glass down on it.” The contractor said, “Won’t hurt it at all. Multiple coats of sealant. Trust me.”
It also has another property. You know those old westerns where the bartender fills a mug of beer and slides it the length of the bar to the gunslinger? Replace the beer mug with Ming, sliding on his ass with a surprised look on his face. Now, Ming is not a cat who is easily discouraged. He keeps trying. If he jumps from the floor directly onto the bar, he can’t land at all, too slick. If he jumps from the countertop to the bar he can’t stop.
I confess to a surge of joy as I watch him jump, slide, and FOOMP disappear over the edge like a magic trick. So he’s jumping onto the countertop and walking slowly onto the bar: any fast move and he’s gone. Of course, food prep on the countertop is now a battle and I can’t leave anything uncovered for more than 5 seconds but neatness is a virtue. I just wiped down the bar and checked it for scratches or scrapes. Not a mark on it.
Despite the Head Cold from Hell, I feed the cats on schedule. (Because if I’m late I’m surrounded by reproachful felines with huge, accusing eyes, that’s why.)
So I was crawling out of bed this morning on day 6 of this pestilential cold, and I heard Squeaky yowling on the other side of the bedroom door, plus this odd thumping, thudding noise. I open the door, there’s Squeaky and Rainy. No Mingo. I wander from room to room calling him. No Mingo. And trust me, he’s always on time for meals. I go into the bathroom and see photo below.
Anyway, I was simultaneously feeling dreadful and laughing like crazy, which is why only the one crummy shot. In case you can’t figure out WTF you are looking at, Ming had rammed his head into a tissue box and was unable to get it out. I don’t think he was stuck for very long, and he wasn’t hurt, although he seemed reluctant to discuss it.
Really, it’s like trying to raise Rosemary’s Baby. We’ve been asking ourselves the wrong question. It’s not “How did the itty bitty kitten survive until rescued?” It should be “Why, after he manifested — I hesitate to say ‘born’ — isn’t that corner of Boulder Creek a smoking ruin?”
He’s just under six months old and weighs, near as I can tell, about 9 lbs. (No, I’m not going to get on the scale with him and subtract my weight, are you crazy?) One of the kitchen chairs, solid wood, is shoved every day from the center line of the table to the corner: Ming hits it at top speed and moves it closer to the window. I move it, he moves it back.
Last night he gnawed through two layers of plastic and paper to dig into the adult cats’ dry food. (I thought it was suspiciously quiet and peaceful out there. I should have known.) The exact same food was in a bowl four feet away. He won’t eat it. I’ve hidden all the dry cat food and treats in the oven until I can get a lockable plastic container.
Biting: Oy, the biting. It’s not a case of will he, it’s a case of when. Unlike most cats he doesn’t lick people; he gently lips your face until he finds a good spot and then he sinks in the fangs. Normally a thumb applied in the corner of a cat’s mouth will make them release. Do I have to say Mingo bites harder? I didn’t think so.
Did you know that catnip mice do very well in a clothes dryer? They have to, since they spend the rest of their time in the water bowls. Ming has his own bubbler and thank god I put in tile floors and have a good supply of shop towels. True, the kitchen floor has never been cleaner. I had hoped the bubbler would decrease the amount of time he spends in the bathroom sink. A vain hope.
The other cats (see, we told you he was the Anti-Christ) are attempting to live around him, aside from frequent episodes of either combat or play, take your pick. This morning I heard this horrible scrabbling sound, with wailing, from Squeaky. He tried to jump up on the coffee table but Ming had his forelegs wrapped around Squeaky’s hindquarters and was pulling him backwards. The scrabbling was Squeaky’s nails trying for purchase on the top of the coffee table. Which used to be a nice piece of furniture, dammit.
I have three heated cat beds, I’ve had them forever. One is a double and Rainy slept there for years in lonely Siamese splendor. About a month ago she moved to one of the smaller beds, which was sad. Guess whose bed this is now? It’s a cat decision and I won’t intervene unless he tries to claim all three beds. I’m not sure what I would do but I’ll do something. I’m hoping that once Ming claws his way to the top of the pecking order, which is inevitable, a certain peace will descend.
I thought I’d adopted Orphan Annie. What I seem to have is Rasputin. Anyone know a good exorcist?
We have achieved detente! (Please note that the two on the left are fully grown and the one on the right is a five months old “kitten”.) A peaceful half hour where no one is trying to murder anyone else.
In other news, Mingo the Evil Kitten ripped down all the plastic sheeting protecting the house from the kitchen construction. Tomorrow I find out if the contractor has a sense of humor.
Oh, no. Oh, no. What have I ever done to the Universe to deserve this?
Mingo’s vet is convinced he’s a purebred Maine Coon, based on coloring, tufty ears, bone structure, and those feet. He’s barely 5 months old and weighs 7 lbs.
According to Google, Purveyor of Bad News, Maine Coons grow between 18-22 lbs. Some have reached 30 lbs. I do not want a 20 lb. cat.
Maine Coons are supposed to be gentle and sweet. Ah…not so’s you’d notice, she says, as Mingo jumps on top of Squeaky and attempts to beat the crap out of him. Squeaky weighs around 12 lbs. and he’s already on the run from a 7 lb. kitten. At 20 lbs., Ming will probably simply sit on him and squash him to death.
The vet is perplexed as to how he ended up starving in a bush at 2 weeks old, since Maine Coon kittens are valuable. The mother gave birth and kept her kittens outside? Then Ming got separated? The mother and kittens got eaten by a predator, who somehow missed this screaming kitten? It would have had to have been one deaf predator. It’s a mystery and we’ll never know. Anyway, the vet gently suggested I feed him more, since I’m programmed to portion control for older, sedentary cats. Normal-sized cats.
Yet another picture of Mingo. It’s not like I’m fond of this kitten, because I’m not. It’s just to show he has a tongue. Also <sigh> feet.
Mingo had an interesting day at the vet yesterday, getting neutered. He’s fine and celebrated his freedom from reproduction by shredding the hanging plastic sheeting between the kitchen construction and the rest of the house. Not that it matters. Dust is everywhere anyway.
Despite my reputation as a ball-buster, it’s been decades since I’ve castrated anything. (I must be losing my grip, as it were.) Both Rainy and Squeaky arrived weeks post-op, and Bob had had his vasectomy years before we met. Of course, along with every woman with a brain in the country I have a little list, starting with that idiot in the White House, the entire male Republican party both elected and voting, and the dog next door.
My kitchen is under reconstruction: I’m having the old cabinets sanded and re-stained, dust is everywhere, and all the kitchen contents are in the garage. Mingo was spending a suspicious amount of time in the bathroom — and I finally went in to check. Lots of bugs with wings in the tub. When the contractors arrived in the afternoon, the bugs were swarming in an unpleasant buggy manner literally out of the woodwork under the window. Floods of them. Ming loved it. He was bounding around the tub eating them and having a wonderful time.
I corralled Ming. The contractors patted me on the back and suggested I call an exterminator. Between the time the exterminator got there I’d soaked the bathroom with Windex, which was a marvelous suggestion from my friend Polly, endorsed by the exterminator.
Then I went over to Linda and Chan’s house and had a good weep because I foresaw thousands in extermination fees, plus having to tent the house, which also kills every living thing within four feet of the foundation. Plus having to move out (with three cats) for the duration.
However, it turns out these are underground termites and tenting the house would do no good. THANK YOU UNIVERSE. The exterminator crawled under the house and put out bait. He said. For all I know he was under there watching porn on his cell phone, but he crawled out and said the damage wasn’t extensive. Also he said they are unlikely to return soon.
So when work starts on the bathroom (whenever the hell the kitchen gets done) and after we pull the old bathtub out, the contractor can check for, and hopefully fix, any termite damage.
Chan and Linda both beat me up for being a pessimist. This is true.
Yo ho ho and another glass of wine matey!
Having cats is fun and heartwarming; they are so precious I say to myself as I clean up yet another pile of cat barf.
Also, Kitten + ping pong ball + tile floors = I’m living inside a maraca.
An exciting trip to the vet yesterday for his first rabies shot. He didn’t mind the shot but he was violently opposed to having a thermometer rammed up his ass. As are we all.
Mingo now weighs 5.2 lbs. and is four months old, so he’s officially a teenager. In lieu of stealing the car keys, he’s determined to escape into the yard, but I’m holding the line until after some quasi-elective surgery next month. In the words of the immortal Gary Larson, he’ll be going to the vet to be tutored. And the surgery is quasi-elective because I’m sure he’s against it but I’m not and so far I’m still bigger.
Mingo was silent both going and coming, but I brought Squeaky along for his blood test, and Squeaky sang the song of his people in the car, breaking into a full operatic rendition of that famous cat aria OMG I’M GOING TO DIE in the waiting room.
Here’s pictures of the boys. Ming’s the one in the birthday gift bag. Rainy got to stay home and nap in peace.
Kitten gallops across the room, leaps on me, and bites my face.
Kitten: I’M TEETHING!
Me: I don’t care if you’re the fucking Tooth Fairy, you do that again and I’m shot-putting your furry little ass out the window!
In other developments, Squeaky is teaching Mingo how to open cupboard doors. Literally doing demos. Help, I’m outnumbered here.
I want to apologize for a very bad thing I did in the summer of 1970. It’s been preying on my mind, and there is no way to find the person who I injured and apologize directly. Indeed, that person may be dead. I am publishing my apology to the universe or at least to that part of the universe that has Facebook or access to the internet.
In 1970 I was hitchhiking down the coast of California. A bunch of us made a fire on the beach near Fort Orde. Several young soldiers joined us. Somehow we were talking about fortune telling, Tarot, and precognition.
I had been using my Tarot pack for divination for years and I was very proud of the accurate readings I could give strangers. I boasted. One of the soldiers challenged me to predict his future. I turned my head, looked at his face in the firelight, and said, “You are going to die in Vietnam.”
His face froze, his friend yelled at me, and they left. The people I was with weren’t too happy with me either. I tried to defend myself by saying I’d seen it and he had asked, but it wasn’t defensible and I knew it. There was no way to find him and apologize then, assuming I’d been able to bring myself to admit error at the time, so I made a private promise: I would never tell anyone’s fortune again. Ever. And I never have. I read the cards for my own fortune only, and I keep my mouth shut about it.
It was a horrible thing to have done. It was evil. I am so sorry. I have hoped, over the years, that he didn’t have the prediction in the back of his head, that it didn’t cause him to die over there, that he survived and came back whole and uninjured. I will never know, and that’s the correct burden for me to carry.
Also, Mingo’s feet and tail, which will soon need a room of their own.
Apparently, “contractor” is a magic word. Okay, here’s the long and tedious version of what’s going on.
The carpet in this house is over 20 years old. Counting Mingo, that’s three generations of cats, one husband, and me. It’s tired, it’s worn, stained, and it smells of cat pee no matter how much Nature’s Miracle I pour on it. I really wanted hardwood flooring but since Squeaky has emotional issues and poor aim, that’s out. And I’m always going to have cats no matter what. But they make tile that looks like hardwood…
BK (Before Kitten) I found a friend of a friend who’s a general contractor and had him replace the rotten french doors in my spare bedroom/office with a window. That went well (he showed up when he said he would, and did a nice job, he’s a fucking miracle without a webpage, sorry) so we walked through the house and lined up a list of large projects. Some of the best advice I’ve every received courtesy of my friend Chan Moore: Do the work that gives you the most emotional satisfaction first. That will carry you through the mess and inconvenience and catastrophes.
So we started with the carpet. In the gap between window project and flooring project, Mingo arrived. Mercifully, I’d stopped bottle-feeding him before all hell broke loose. I’m living in the house while all this goes on, so the contractor is working room by room. The two bedrooms are done and they start on the living room tomorrow. Today I shift boxes from the front of the house to the back and clear the living room.
As an aside, I packed fifteen boxes of books from ONE ROOM, and stacked them in the garage. This doesn’t count the books in the bedroom or the living room.
The flooring project started on Nov. 6, and since none of the floors are actually level, may not finish until the end of the month. After it’s done, assuming I have any money left, the next project is the kitchen. The current chaos is such the kitchen looks simple to me, that should give you an idea of my life right now.
Of the three cats, Rainy the Siamese thinks the contractors are minions to serve her, no change there, Mingo thinks everything is normal because he doesn’t know any better, and Squeaky…has been forced to accept a lot of noise, strangers, and constantly shifting furniture. He’s doing much better than I thought; he’s actually sleeping through the banging. Anyway, here’s some pictures from the bedrooms, taken in great haste on my way to the vet:
Mingo is now on enforced crate rest and yummy pain meds, having injured his left shoulder/leg in either a fall (his leap alway exceeds his grasp) or armed combat with Squeaky.
Two days ago the contractor (that’s another looong post) said, “That kitten is limping.” Not only was he limping, he wasn’t putting any weight on his left front leg at all, but scampering around at top speed on three legs. This was late Tuesday and the vet’s office was closed, so I reacted in a mature and considered manner. I took half a Xanax and a glass of wine.
After two hours and multiple x-rays at the vet’s the next day, (have I mentioned that Boulder Creek Veterinary Clinic is wonderful? They are.) the best guess is an injury to the elbow or the shoulder soft tissue and a probable infection. Especially since he was running a fever.
So he’s spending Thanksgiving resting in a crate and hating it and letting the world know all about it. You would think, since Squeaky weighs around 13 lbs. and Mingo weighs not quite 4, that Squeaky would be the aggressor in their little encounters. Nope. Squeaky plays defense. Mingo loves nothing better than to fling himself on Squeaky’s neck or back or butt and bite. Squeaky backs up and starts swinging; Mingo swings back. And when, inevitably, he ends up smacked down, he gets up and attacks again. And again. I have noticed that cats have rules: Squeaky only uses his front paws and never throws his full weight on the kitten, but still…he’s a big cat.
I suppose this problem was inevitable, and part of them working out who’s on first, but it’s a bit hard on the human. And the human’s checking account. I actually have pet insurance on Mingo, which is turning out to be a good thing. Mingo does not mess with Rainy the Siamese. He walks cautiously around her. Probably due to the Laser Glare of Death she shoots at him when he appears in front of her. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Help! They’re ganging up on me!