Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good Things, Small Packages

Got a package in the mail the other day.

We get packages all the time, so I didn't notice right away.

Usually it's clothes my wife orders through the mail (not a lot of petite woman's clothing stores in Alaska and my wife is like a real wife, only smaller, so she normally orders business clothes through the mail from the lower 48). If it's something for me, she'll toss it on the table next to my recliner and eventually I'll get around to it.

I didn't recognize the return address and I didn't remember ordering anything recently. Hmmm, suspicious. Something from Walter Wagner maybe? My own micro-black hole? Cool, maybe it would suck up all the damned cat hair.

Nope. It was a shirt. Yeah, yeah, stop that giggling.

My very own Nathan Gendzier designer T-shirt.

Cat 1

Apologies for the crappy picture. The Sony's batteries are running low and I didn't want to run into the house and get another one. Yeah, I am just that lazy, thanks for asking.

The back says "Gawd, I'm an idiot!" which is the publicly sanitized version of Nathan's personal motto, and even more funny if you ask me.

You'll notice I'm not alone in the picture. And the creature on my shoulder doesn't resemble either The Fat One (which would probably kill me to have on my shoulder) or Stupid.

No, Nathan didn't send me either of his brood, accidentally or otherwise. This one arrived all by itself. Night before last both of our cats were pressed against the glass door leading out onto a small porch off the sunroom. They were twitching their tails and staring out into the dark. I didn't pay them any attention, there's a small squirrel that likes to sit on the firewood pile and do the cat taunting dance and I figured that was what was holding their attention (seriously, that squirrel is a jerk when it comes to mocking the cats, which I find hysterical). Anyway, my wife detected a mewing sound, which frankly I never noticed (twenty years of having shit blow up next to my head, sue me if I can't hear high freqs any more), and went to investigate and discovered a small black and white cat outside the door crying to get in.

Hmmmm. Didn't look feral from what I could tell. And I'd seen it around the yard earlier. Nothing unusual, the neighborhood cats make the rounds every day through our backyard, looking for carcasses of birds that occasionally slam into the sunroom windows and break their stupid necks. Hey, it's thirty feet of big assed glass windows, I've got 'predator silhouettes' on each window which are supposed to keep the little birds away. Yeah. Sure. Every other day BANG! and another one bashes its brains out. Not much I can do about it. Sorry. And the cats come by and clean up the wreckage, leaving little piles of feathers in the snow.

Anyway I figure the cat would eventually lose interest and wander off home.


It was still out there the next morning, rolled up into a tight little ball on the porch.

Damn. So I went to check on it, figuring it would run away as soon as I got close. Instead it came straight at me, mewling piteously, and shaking like a leaf in the subzero cold. And that's about the time I realized that it was not very old and that it was scared, hungry, and damned near frozen to death. The thing clung to me like a drowning man grabbing onto a life-preserver and tried to burrow into my jacket.

It turns out that I'm not the kind of guy who can leave a kitten to freeze to death. Yeah, imagine how disappointed I am with myself.

I couldn't bring it into the house, Stupid and Tubby would have torn it to shreds, cats don't like new cats in their territory, so I took it out to the shop. After the kitten had warmed up and stopped shaking, I got some food and water which it devoured like it was starving - though that was probably just the normal cat hunger, the kitten looks well cared for, not starved or ragged, so it couldn't have been outside on its own for long. No collar. No fleas. No worms. No injuries. Seems very healthy. It's a little female and just incredibly affectionate. She's also utterly fearless. She followed me all over the shop and then went off to explore. Eventually she curled up on my shop stool and watched me. None of the power tools scared her, not even the thickness planer which howls like a banshee in operation.

She obviously belongs to somebody and I suspect that somewhere there's a kid in tears wondering what happened to her. I figured she couldn't have made it very far and so I checked with the neighbors, both beside me and down the hill behind my house. Nobody's missing a cat. No missing cat posters on the community mailboxes or power poles.

She spent last night in the shop. I gave her more food, my wife found an old towel for her to sleep on and I put out a pan of litter. She was curled up asleep on my stool this morning when I turned on the lights. She shows no interest whatsoever of going back out into the cold and seems to be perfectly happy in the shop.

Today I'll take her down to Animal Control and see if she's chipped, and if not I'll put up some posters of my own and see if I can find her owner.

If not, well, I don't know what to do. I'd hate to give her to Animal Control or a shelter, but I seriously doubt the other cats would accept her into the household. Maybe I'll end up with a shop mouser. We'll see.

Right now, she's asleep on my workbench and acting like she owns the place.

Cat 2

Frankly, I'm surprised the eagles didn't get her.



    Like I said, sometimes you get exactly what you've asked for...just not quite the way you thought you would. (And jeez, the type came out huge!)

    Also, cute kitty!

  2. It's hysterical, thanks Nathan. I'm going to wear it to the animal shelter, just to see what kind of looks I get :)

  3. You know, you're going to lose your Heartless Son of a Bitch certification you keep this kind of thing up.

  4. HA! Great shirt.

    Also, I vote shop cat. It's not like my vote matters, but I like the thought of you creating a radically designed cat entrance/exit system that somehow detects for the proper animal, and shoots plastic BB's at any feral creature trying to get in the kitty door...

  5. Alternately, Shawn, there's this. Not quite as fun, I know...

    Aaawww! Cute kitty!

  6. I think, Jim, you have a new cat.

    You may be able to get the other cats acclimated to her if you introduce them slowly, let them get to know her scent, etc. But from the sound of things, your new family member may be happy to live in the woodshop.

    She's a cutie, in any case.

  7. Any cat that doesn't seem to mind shop noises would make a pretty good shop cat.

    Just remember: Name her and she's yours.


  8. She doesn't get a name until I figure out the Athabascan word for "saw dust," the other cats are named Sitka and Kenai, and if I'm to keep this one she'll get something similarly Alaskan.

    She's not chipped. I'm putting together posters now and I'll go put them up around the neighborhood. I'll do everything I can to find her people, even if it takes a really long while :)

  9. Aw! Look at adorable Shop Kitty! So Cute!

    And Nathan's t-shirt is hilarious, particularly as it has been cleaned up foe general audiences.

  10. You sure that isn't Scalzi's Temp-Cat Zeus's sister?

    (Try saying that 3 times fast. Try typing it.)

    You know what happens to Temp-Cats.


  11. Yes, Cassie, that thought crossed my mind, there's the problem of her getting from Ohio to Alaska however...

    hmmm, unless she's Pixel, from Heinlein's The Cat Who Walked Through Walls (still one of my favorites and I don't care what anybody says).

    And she's already only semi-temp cat :)

  12. Jim, you have way too many smilies in your comments about Shop Cat. Looks like she's working her wiles on you. The fact that she's affectionate and fearless are big pluses in that department, I think. A kitty that is unfazed by extremely loud machines is a rare find. As long as she knows to keep out of the way, I'd say she sounds perfect for the shop. :)

    Awesome t-shirt, Nathan!

  13. Yay new kitty!

    If she's walking around in there like she owns the place, I think that means she's staying. ;)

  14. Well, I put up posters all over the neighborhood, if somebody is missing her I'd like to get her back to her people. We'll see.

    She not chipped, stupid owners. And the animal shelter (which is a block from my house) doesn't have a record of anybody looking for her. I filled out a found data sheet, in case anybody goes there looking for her.

    Keeping her would be difficult, but, well, she's sort of growing on me.

    Re: chipping. Having a small RFID chip inserted under the neck skin. Good idea. Really. If you've got pets and you don't have them chipped, get them chipped. It's fairly cheap, $25 here. All of our animals are chipped, and registered in the national database. Hell, if the dog was lost in Florida on a trip, any shelter could determine who she belonged to and get my cell number in a couple of seconds. This works in Canada as well, since we registered the chip numbers when we crossed the boarder with our animals. It's easy, quick, and painless for the animal.

  15. I also think you have a new cat.

    Want me to call the ANLC and ask what the word for sawdust would be?

  16. Let's see now...points in favor of the adorable kitty staying...

    1- She managed to avoid the local eagle contingent foraging for food
    2- She managed to find a cat friendly family who's resident cats wisely alert their servants to her plight so she got rescued
    3- She's not afraid of large, loud machines, heights or commanding her new subjects to provide food, water and the occasional belly rub.

    I'm believing you've been possessed and in the process aquired yourself a new shop kitty!!

    give her a rub behind the ears for me, I can't quite reach from Atlanta!

  17. Tania, sure, why not?

    If she does end up staying, she needs a good shop cat name. Wood Chip, Saw Dust, Flotsam, Jetsam, something like that. But I'd prefer it to be in Athabascan.

    I though about the Inupiat word "Aren" which is a exclamation of surprise, or an epitaph when things go horribly wrong (And is also the name of the world in Iyes of the Dead).

    I've been calling her "blurt!" which was the noise Pixel made in the cat who walked through walls. I don't think she cares, she's just happy to be not freezing to death.

  18. I had to go look. If fewer people were around I'd just call them. I was outside the ANLC's offices about four hours ago, dang it.

    From Qenaga.org's Dena'ina language/phrase site

    Chik'a - wood

    Ch'bala - spruce

    Shida - my friend

  19. Yes! The office got noisy again.
    No! Voicemail at the ANLC. Oh well, I can try again tomorrow.

  20. Chik'a. Yeah. But I think that's actually athabascan for 70's porn theme music:

    Chika bow bow, bow chicka chicka bow bow.


  21. Chik'a is an awesome name for Shop Kitty!

  22. OK, now I need vocabulary help.

    Wendy says: 1- She managed to avoid the local eagle contingent foraging for food

    I just used contingency with the same meaning and when I read the her comment, I wasn't sure if she was right...or me...or both? So I did some searching. Guess what. I couldn't find an example of either of us being right, even though I'm sure I've heard the word(s) used in that context.

    Anybody know the answer?

  23. Contingency: a fallback option.
    Contingent: depending on, or a group.

    "Gawd, I'm an idiot!"

  24. Main Entry:

    1 : something contingent : contingency 2 : a representative group : delegation , detachment a diplomatic contingent

  25. Ooh, the delegation is the definition I needed.

    Do I need to go back and replace contingency?

  26. I LOVE it when I can start a grammatical discussion!!

    That extra advance grammar course in college is finally paying off!!

    Glad I could tickle a few brains out there.

  27. Christ, I leave the Intertoobs for an afternoon, and Jim gets a new cat and names it without me!

    How dare life proceeds when I'm unavailable.

    And Nathan? You're my new hero.

  28. "Every other day BANG! and another one bashes its brains out. Not much I can do about it."

    Heh, we get that once in a while, too. The funniest one wasn't fatal. My wife was in the bathroom and heard a WHAM on the window behind her. She jumped about 6 feet in the air thinking either something fell off of the house or someone is breaking in. There was a beak mark high up on the window and feathers all over it.

    She looks out to the bush that's located right below the window, and there's a hawk spread-eagled (har har) on the bush, looking dazed. It literally shakes its head a few times, slowly extricates itself from the bush and flies away.

  29. Make me cry, Jim Wright. Gosh darn...

  30. Jim, I have this post bookmarked so I can smile about the day ShopKat arrived. I'm so glad she came into your life. :)

  31. I had never read the "origin of ShopKat" story before, so glad it was brought to my attention.

  32. Me, I'm trying not to cry again.

  33. Thanks for the memories ShopKat. Rest in peace.

  34. I'm teary again over the passing of a cat I never met, and very glad to have been brought to this story. Requiescat in Pace, dear little ShopKat. We will all miss you. Peace and comfort to you and your family, Jim.

  35. I was reading this and smiling, recalling the first time I learned of Jim Wright and ShopKat; I love this story. Rest peacefully, dear, sweet ShopKat.

  36. I never read this blog before today. It is so very bittersweet to read it now. I am so glad and grateful that ShopKat found your door that night almost 8 years ago. She enriched your life so much, and in turn, enriched ours.

  37. Fair winds and following seas, ShopKat.
    You were a hell of a Number Two.

  38. As with others, I must have discovered you after this, as ShopKat was always here.

    She is missed.

  39. I'm crying like a baby over Shop Cat. I loved her, and never even met her. Shop Cat was always part of the story as I was a late comer. RIP brave cat. We miss you.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.