Delta Surges, Masks Disappear. WTF?

August 13, 2021

By Karen

During the one brief, shining moment COVID was on the decline, I still never went out frivolously or stopped wearing a mask — not even after July 1, when it once again became a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conceal your face in public. (Luckily, I haven’t heard of anybody going down on a mask rap.)

Virginia’s mask prohibition went back into effect when Governor Ralph Northam allowed the pandemic state of emergency to expire on June 30. Now, the Delta variant is rampaging through our red regions. But instead of again requiring masks in indoor settings, Northam’s wussing out and says just to follow CDC guidelines, which seem to change every five fucking minutes.

(I don’t blame the CDC, but keeping up with this shit is exhausting.)

Northam, a pediatric neurosurgeon in real life, just mandated masks for everyone in K-12 when schools open in the fall. Some parents are outraged, because they must want their kids sick or dead.

But many adults are NOT following CDC guidelines. As of this moment, the CDC says EVERYONE, vaccinated or not, should mask up indoors in “high” or “substantial” transmission areas. According to this map, that’s most of Virginia.

Many vaccinated people are apparently unaware they can inhale snootfuls of Delta from unvaxxed maskholes who walk among us. Even if the vaxxed themselves don’t get sick, they become walking COVID carriers.

This past week at Food Lion and Sam’s Club, I was gobsmacked to see predominantly barefaced customers, and some employees. The ones in masks mostly seemed to be older ladies like me who don’t want even a dab of COVID.

I blame this on the myriad stupid sources people consider “news.” I’m not just talking about Trumpy media outlets and Facebook.

With the proliferation of cable channels, streaming, social media, and even CNN’s sketchy coverage of most things, there’s no longer any main trusted source where everyone gets the same story. We used to get our news from competently staffed newspapers and career journalists like Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Huntley and Brinkley, and other professionals committed to reporting the facts without putting their own editorial spin on them.

Speaking of news, spare me any more tales of how COVID is ravaging states in the South and Midwest — a.k.a. Trump Country.

Last year, they were all oblivious while hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans suffered and died. Today, they still refuse the vaccinations that could save their lives because their ignorance has become impenetrable after soaking in so many lies and conspiracy theories from God-knows-where.

So, now it’s their turn to get deathly ill and die, and in the immortal words of Melania’s jacket, “I really don’t care, do you?”

My sympathy goes to the selfless medical providers tasked with trying to save these morons from horrible, 100% preventable, self-inflicted deaths after they thoughtlessly sucked in a deadly virus through their maskless pieholes, mistaking it for “freedom.”

Now that it’s no longer blue states bearing the brunt of fatalities, some Republican leaders are admitting masks and vaccines aren’t so bad after all. It’s finally dawning on them that they’re screwed when they succeed in killing off much of their base in those sparsely populated, vast swaths of nowhere. They forgot to ram through any laws in those states giving livestock the right to vote.

Cats Working May be Haunted

July 30, 2021

By Karen

Yesterday was a big day here, but as in any suspense tale, I’m going to work backward to describe it.

Last night, after an afternoon under the bed (why in a minute), Tony must have been feeling his 31 days of fame waning as Mr. July on the Richmond Animal League’s calendar.

After dinner, he threw himself down on the living room floor to contemplate his next career move and wonder if he had peaked too soon…

“Could I really be a has-been at 2 years old?”

But with Tony’s looks, brains and charisma, he has nothing to worry about. I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

In the afternoon, a crew I’ve been waiting nearly two months for finally showed up to take down the dead tree in the front yard.

In the spring, I worried when that tree was a few weeks late putting out leaves, and its trunk looked paler than the others. Then when all the new leaves immediately began to die, I had to pull the plug on it or risk it taking out my office and the kitchen in a storm.

I never watch when I lose a tree, but I think it came down in sections because there was never a big crash. A lot of moss in the yard was torn up where I guess the pieces fell.

Nevertheless, it was a noisy business. Roc sat calmly in the living room with me through it all. Max stayed in the Man Cave and Tony went under the bed.

Grinding the stump turned out to be the worst of it. This is now our view from the big kitchen window. The red circle is where the tree was…

Now all is sawdust where once there was moss.

My yard guy isn’t returning my calls about cleaning up. Here’s the mess from the walk, facing the house. This isn’t a situation that’s just going to heal itself over time…

The rocks strewn about were the border of a patch of daffodils and azaleas, now a wasteland.

But the day began in my bedroom with something I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it myself. This bookcase is one of six around the house and stands opposite my bed. It holds mostly New Age books from my 30s, as well as other prized volumes, like the copy of Little Women I got at Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord, Massachusetts, where she wrote it…

The corner shelf holds some of my vast cats collection.

Notice the arrow pointing to a book I pulled out on the bottom shelf, just to show you where it came from. It was actually on the shelf in line with the rest. Since Roc refused to participate in a reenactment, the black stuffy cat on the floor is his stand-in, and a waterbowl is to its left.

Anyway, I was making the bed and Roc was getting a drink. He turned to walk past the bookcase when that book suddenly flew out and fell on the floor in front of him. Roc jumped back, but then calmly went around it and hunkered down in the opposite corner to watch ME.

Did he know or see who did that?

It was just like the poltergeist activity you see on Paranormal: Caught on Camera.

The cats never bother that bookcase, and I haven’t touched it myself in months. This is the book that flew out…

Why this book? Does the title have any significance?

It happens to be the last book I shelved there, unfinished because I didn’t like it. I felt a little tingly as I put it back.

There’s no way that book moved on its own. No book has EVER fallen off that shelf before. So, what was it? It couldn’t have been the spirit of the tree, because this happened hours before either of us knew it was going down that day.

BONUS: Cats Working reader Glamour Milk uncovered this (possibly) maiden interview with Anthony Bourdain in 1995. He was just 39, pre-thumb ring, pre-Les Halles, beginning his writing career as a novelist with Bone in the Throat)…

On “Connie Martinson Talks Books,” August 1995

He wrote a second novel, Gone Bamboo, before he hit it big with Kitchen Confidential. You have to download the interview here…

But it’s well worth it, especially in hindsight, for what he says about loyalty and betrayal.

Many thanks to Glamour Milk for her online sleuthing. Morgan Neville might have been interested in this for Roadrunner, had he uncovered it.

The same link includes another 2002 interview about A Cook’s Tour. Notice Tony’s marked increase in confidence, sophistication and gray hair. Also, the thumb ring.

Since When Did Colonoscopies Take a Week?

April 19, 2021

By Karen

After skipping it last year, receiving the doctor’s reminder recently guilted me into scheduling a colonoscopy for April 27.

Ever since, when I wake up mornings and colonoscopy pops into my head, my stomach lurches and I dash to the toilet to dry-heave until I calm down.

This is my fourth time at this rodeo. I go every five years because I have a polyp-y family. The doctor even found two on me last time. So, I’m familiar with the nasty, nasty prep.

But this time they blindsided me with some new wrinkles:

  • 7 days of no vitamins (buh-bye, calcium)
  • 5 days fiber-free, with minimal basic nutrition

Asking around, nobody I know has ever had to do this diet, nor even heard of doing it.

They mailed me these half-ass dietary instructions that raised many more questions than they answered. Checking their website for “more information,” all they had was THIS SAME F**KING PAGE. They must think it’s a masterpiece.

So, I kept looking. Yup, this is definitely a thing.

But the Mayo Clinic recommends only two days of low fiber in a pretty casual manner.

Kaiser Permanente recommends three days, and their comprehensive list calmed me down considerably. OK are butter, cooking oil, cheese, white grape juice (instead of YUCK apple) turkey, cantaloupe, peeled potatoes and even creamy peanut butter.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance prep diet (four days) even had baked potato chips and bananas!

For the record, I try to be good about eating fiber, fruit and veggies, so I’m woefully ill-stocked for this. I’ll go shopping and start this new regimen on Thursday because I count Butt-Probe Eve with no solid food as a fiber-free day.

For nasty prep, it’s two seemingly gratuitous Dulcolax tablets followed by 14 doses of Miralax, the last supposedly at about 11 p.m.


I’m backing up that timetable two hours because I’d like to sleep before the big day.

For the first time, I’m having the procedure at a hospital instead of the doctor’s office. They said it’s because I’ve hit 65.

Sounds like they want us Medicare folks — after the malnutrition and probable constipation, then starvation, epic diarrhea and sleep deprivation — in a facility with convenient morgue access.

And did I mention I’m supposed to get a COVID-19 test? I was told nothing about where or when, and I’m not asking. I’ve been vaccinated, and I’m more worried about the hospital crawling with COVID than I am.

So, it’s finally the week this nightmare begins to end. Wish me luck. (If you’ve done all this and have any reassurances for me, comments are open.)

Gotta Love Those Sussex-Markles — or Not?

March 11, 2021

By Karen

J&J VACCINATION UPDATE: After I got the shot Monday, I felt fine. Tuesday, I woke up with a headache, and was exhausted by afternoon. That evening, I had a fever that peaked at 99.8° but was normal by bedtime. Now on Thursday, my arm feels like someone punched me. But that means it’s working.

Now, to Harry and Meghan…

I must comment on their tête-à-tête with Oprah on March 7. My sympathies lie with Harry. Poor guy lost his mother at 12. Now he’s estranged from his brother, his whole family, friends and country. And all because he’s been thinking with his “other brain” since he met Meghan Markle.

Photo: CBS

Their interview was so distasteful, my DVR revolted, taping only the first 90 minutes and cutting off Oprah in mid-sentence.

Coincidentally, Oprah and the Sussex-Markles are neighbors in Montecito, California. Do you think it was Harry who popped over to Oprah’s to borrow a cup of publicity? Or, more likely, did the girls casually plot what fun it would be dish some royal dirt?

When it started, Oprah announced the couple didn’t know what they’d be asked, but she and Meghan exchanged a look. Oprah also said they weren’t paid.

But Oprah’s Harpo Productions was — $7 million. And CBS doubled ad prices and tacked on an extra 30 minutes to max out their cut.

For Harry — and mostly Meghan — compensation must have been the satisfaction of burying hatchets in all of the royal family’s heads.

Her “delicate condition” with child notwithstanding, Harry remained off-camera while Meghan did the heaviest shit-shoveling. Her tale didn’t hang together too well. And actress or not, she couldn’t sell herself to me as innately regal, yet pathetic and vulnerable because her fin kept breaking the surface.

For example, she initially told Oprah she doesn’t read what’s written about her, but then said it had driven her to “not want to live anymore.” She topped that by claiming the royals denied her any medical or psychological treatment because it would “look bad.” Who was going to tell anybody?

She also claimed they’d “taken” her passport, as if they considered her a flight risk, even though they all hated her so much.

She professed near-total ignorance of the royal family from the outset, and no curiosity to learn. Harry had to teach her to curtsy, a thing she never thought the woman who’s been Queen of England decades longer than Meghan’s been alive would EVER expect her to.

If the royals weren’t utterly charmed by Meghan’s persistent American oafishness and refusal to adapt to centuries of tradition upon joining the family, I can’t blame them.

Leaving no shovel unturned, Meghan also accused them of spreading lies about her. We should disregard whatever’s been written about Meghan’s churlishness toward anyone in the palace and believe exactly the opposite, including that Kate made Meghan cry before her wedding.

Meghan essentially played a whole deck of victim cards, pulling a bunch of extra racism aces out of her sleeve for good measure because she knew those would go atomic. And they have.

Aside: I just happened across this little Meghan vs. Kate story about Archie’s christening. Yeah, that Kate’s one real bitch.

Speaking of Archie, Meghan’s story now is that she WANTED Archie to be a prince, but the mean Queen wouldn’t let him because he’s — biracial.

Fact: Great-grandchildren don’t have titles because it’s not done. William’s kids do because they’re in the direct line of succession.

Do you remember when Meghan refused to give birth in the usual royal hospital and insisted that her baby have a “normal” life? Or was that really “the Firm” denying her medical care again?

And was giving her baby the most common name she could muster, after Archie Bunker, the biggest racist in American sitcom history, intended as an ironic slap at “the Firm”? Or is Meghan planning to call her daughter-to-be Gertrude because she’s got a thing for ugly names?

Speaking of “the Firm,” that’s what Meghan consistently called her in-laws. To acknowledge them as human beings might have made viewers picture them being slashed and burned before our eyes. Particularly 99-year-old Prince Philip, who may be on his deathbed right now.

Harry was a bit more circumspect, gallantly refusing to name the royal who allegedly asked about Archie’s skin tone. That tidbit was dropped on us as if it was a matter of deep concern expressed by a card-carrying racist relative. Or was it rather a very tasteless, cringe-worthy joke, instantly regretted and never meant to be repeated? We’ll probably never know.

In the end, what possible purpose did those two have, except a play for attention and perhaps to drum up more lucrative deals?

Since they’ve now cemented a reputation as people who will pull out if the going gets tough, and then stab you in the back just for revenge and to make Oprah even wealthier, I’m wondering how receptive they’ll find Corporate America.

Since she didn’t take to royalty, Meghan has achieved another dream of sorts: A $14.65 million, 18,000-square-foot, nine-bedroom, 16-bath mansion on 7.4 acres of land where she keeps rescue chickens like a Beverly Hillbilly when she’s not swapping casserole recipes with real celebrity neighbors, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ellen DeGeneres.

Harry’s saddled with a $9.5 million mortgage and whatever skills he gained in the military to parlay into some sort of career to support his family. And, I’m afraid, future misery if he fails to deliver to Meghan’s satisfaction.

A Peek Inside My Notebook

February 8, 2021

By Karen

No theme is gelling for me today on Trump 2nd Impeachment Eve, but I’ve got bits and pieces I’ve been meaning to share, so let’s hit those…

First, the Super Bowl. As always, it was so far off my radar, I didn’t know who was in it until Saturday. That’s also when I learned Tom Brady isn’t a Patriot anymore — not that any Trump-loving, alleged ball-deflating cheater ever could be, except in football.

Needless to say, I didn’t watch one second of it. After seeing the 31–9 final score this morning, Kitten Bowl VII on Hallmark we did watch must have had more action and less ego.

Am I mistaken, or haven’t all Super Bowls in recent memory been low-score, over-hyped nothingburgers? Why waste hours watching commercials interspersed with guys inflicting brain damage on each other during those rare moments they’re actually doing anything.

If you asked me tomorrow who played in this game, I can promise you I will have already forgotten.


I checked out the new SyFy series Resident Alien, described in the TV promo as “the small-town murder mystery doctor dramedy Earth needs right now.” Here’s the network’s blurb…

“An alien crash lands on Earth [in Patience, Colorado] and must pass himself off as small-town human doctor Harry Vanderspeigle. Arriving with a secret mission to kill all humans, Harry starts off living a simple life…but things get a bit rocky when he’s roped into solving a murder and needs to assimilate into his new world.”

It’s a comedy, but much darker than My Favorite Martian, who never wanted to kill us all. The ‘60s were so innocent…

Also, in Patience, the mayor’s son, a 10-year-old named Max, is the only one who sees Harry as he really is, which sets up the central conflict and the funniest scenes.


Another show I stumbled across is Dishing with Julia, a delightful six-part series on PBS featuring vintage episodes of Julia Child’s The French Chef being watched and critiqued by today’s chefs, including wonderful José Andrés and Eric Ripert…


If you’re wondering how the cats are doing, Tony has gone totally high-tech. I’m trying to get video of him during our new after-dinner ritual involving a laser pointer. After I eat, I like to sit for a few minutes to let things settle before I complete my 7,500 steps for the day. But now, Tony plants himself on the sardine scratcher and gives me laser eyes until I give him his red dot…

“You’ve got laser duty — NOW — since you’re the only one with thumbs. “

I also showed him Adele’s favorite cat software, “Paint for Cats,” on my old iPad…

“Do not mistake this for a self-portrait. No brown cats here. Yes, we can see color.”

Now, whenever he sees me using that iPad, I get his, “Are you going to bogart that thing ALL night?” look. Roc also likes to play. Stay tuned for video.


Last night after we finished Chase the Laser and I settled down for TV, Roc and Tony adjourned upstairs to conduct aerial surveillance from the second and third beams…

“She sure looks a lot smaller from up here.”


As I’m writing this post, Tony is lounging in his new favorite sunny spot on the balcony, on the blue perch…


In what may become a continuing series, I would like to note that frozen dinners NEVER come out of the microwave looking like the delicious meal on the box…

At least there are a decent number of meatballs.


BONUS: Randy Rainbow wrote a song for Marjorie Taylor Greene…

Taking Down the Christmas Tree

January 25, 2021

By Karen

Yes, it’s true. The Christmas tree was so much work to put up — and it was Tony’s first one — that it stayed up until this past weekend. But I learned that one downside to keeping a tree up nearly two months is that the cats accept it as a permanent fixture in their world…

Deconstruction was a two-stage process. Saturday afternoon, I did the ornaments. The cats barely noticed, even though they’ve been batting around the ones at the bottom.

EVERY year, there’s this one ornament I can never find. This time I even poked through the branches with a flashlight and couldn’t see it…

Looks just like Roc, which explains why it’s a troublemaker.

I’ve finally learned not to put the ornaments back in the closet until this perennial stray turns up.

My cat ornaments don’t just get thrown in boxes, because many are fragile and have moving parts. Each one has its own box or bag for cushioning. So if I have any bags left over when I think I’m finished, I know I’ve missed something…

“Hmm… Everything seems to be in order here.”

Saturday night, we lit the unadorned tree one last time and all the kitties took turns hanging out under it, even Max.

Sunday morning, I started on the white iridescent garland. That’s when everybody realized I was attacking “their” tree and things got ugly. While I was circling the tree undoing the garland, Tony from his nearby perch hooked my hand good, sending me screaming to the bathroom for Neosporin and a Band-Aid.

But he only delayed me until I could stop the bleeding. Next, he threw himself full-length on the garland…

“You’re gonna have to take this out of my cold, dead paws.”

This strategy proved more effective. Now all I could do was pull the garland down and let it drop in a heap on the floor around the tree because I couldn’t remove it one strand at a time. This is where Roc joined in…

“Let’s see if I can tangle it up even more!”

Now all that was left were the lights. Max disapprovingly supervised that step from the mantel…

“You know I take a dim view of everything you’re doing, right?”

Martha Stewart probably has some incredible way to store Christmas lights, but I can only wrap a strand thumb to elbow and then secure each end of the coil with twist ties. Even that doesn’t stop them from being a tangled mess next time.

Tony got more frantic when the tree itself started shrinking. He planted himself underneath so I could see his distress…

“Please, please, PLEASE don’t take away my tree!”

He literally got in my face as I removed the last layer of branches…

“Either the tree stays, or I GO! No, wait…or YOU go! No, wait, you open the cans. How about, we ALL stay!”

Finally, it was down, the branches sorted into bags and stuffed back in their box. All that remained was vacuuming. Tony seemed to be wondering if it had all been a dream…

“I sure hope there are some Christmas treats left so I can eat my feelings.”

With the furniture back in place, it already feels like Christmas never happened. I’m sure if I decide to put the tree up again in December, the cats’ delight will be as fresh as ever. That’s the genius of being a cat — none of the work, all of the fun.

Merry Christmas From the Cats

December 24, 2020

By Tony, Roc and Max

Tony here…

Max tells me Karen’s Christmas wish is always to get a picture of all us kitties dancing around merrily in Santa hats like Rockettes. It’s nuts but, as Max wisely observes, Karen’s hope springs eternal.

Me? I don’t really get the concept of “hat.” I’ve already got ears up there, so what else do I need? This morning when Karen came at me with this furry red thing and tried stuff my head in it, I fought back like any potential kidnapping victim. This is as close as I let that thing get…

“This perch is NOT big enough for the both of us!”

I’ll let Roc take it from here…

I was lounging in the bedroom when I heard commotion in the living room. Karen was pleading with Tony, “Wear it for just one second.” I suspected what was going on, because whenever she puts a big tree in the house she gets a little crazy. But I know how Karen’s “seconds” can drag into whole photo shoots. And I’m not a big fan of hats, either.

Then I heard her footsteps in the hall. Yup, she was coming for me with that damn hat. Tony dashed ahead of her and tried to warn me to hide under the bed, but he barely got the words out before she’d thrown that Santa hat on MY head!…

“Roc, don’t do it!” For all you know, it’s full of FLEAS!”

Since I’ve been to this rodeo a few times before, and Karen WAS nice to me when I was feeling poorly last weekend, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to cooperate a little

“You’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf? This is Cat Under the Hat.”

But Karen can be greedy. She wasn’t satisfied with my picture alone and headed upstairs after Max. As usual, he was hanging out in the Man Cave and clueless that he was about to become her next victim.

Tony always races Karen up the stairs (and wins). When she encountered him on the perch at the top, she foolishly tried getting him to wear the hat again….

“I think this creepy fuzzball is stalking me.”

As you can see, Tony was still not in the mood. Max wants to tell you what happened next…

Being the most experienced kitty here, Karen has tried to rope me into this Santa hat gig more than Tony and Roc combined. But it’s Christmas and Santa Kitty keeps track of who’s naughty or nice, so I decided to score some nice points and humor Karen for once. First, she tried a jaunty side look, but that didn’t quite cut it…

“I think this would be more flattering in a French beret.”

Now, if I must say so myself (and I must, because Roc and Tony NEVER cut me any slack), Karen’s next attempt — paired with my soulful pose —captured Christmas spirit perfectly while showcasing my Cary Grant-like profile, don’t you think?…

“Who needs Omar Sharif? I could totally star in ‘Dr. Zhivago.'”

Now cocky from her spectacular success with me, when Karen found Roc staked out on top of her printer, she decided to give him one last shot at doing better…

“Maybe I’d let Roc be one of the peasant extras in ‘Dr. Zhivago.'”

Meanwhile, Tony was bopping around the office. Karen knew by now that the hat was no-go, but we didn’t realize Tony’s antsy about Santa Kitty coming down the chimney tonight. I guess Roc and I shouldn’t have been filling his ears with so many stories of Santa Kitty scooping up bad kitties in his litter box sleigh to take to the North Pole to be the reindeers’ love muffins. Tony looked so nervous, even the flamingos were laughing at him behind his back…

“I wonder if Santa Kitty could find me under Karen’s desk?

Rest assured, we’ll set the little guy straight before bedtime so he gets a good night’s sleep and can enjoy toys, treats and our annual viewing of Video Catnip in the morning.

Cats Working wishes all our readers who have stuck with us through this horrible year a Safe and Merry Christmas, and we hope Santa Kitty is good to you and yours.

Chapter 140: COVID Chronicles

December 17, 2020

By Karen

Day 278

I’m Dreaming of a Trump-Free New Year

I’m finding it easier to tune out Trump and talking heads who speculate on his nonexistent future in politics, media, or even real estate. He’s barely functional now and it won’t get better once he’s a nobody. I’m relishing the prospect of Trump becoming a nomad. He’s burned his bridges to cinders in New York. Now Palm Beach doesn’t want him, either — according to a contract HE signed in 1993 when he converted Mar-a-Lago from a private home to a members-only club to make a buck.

The whole trampy family deserves not a square inch in this country to live, unless it’s a plot among the graves of the 300,000+ Trump has murdered so far with his COVID sabotage.

Perhaps Trump could buy a moldering plantation in the Deep South where he’s still beloved. He could hold rallies for his new neighbors, the poor folks he duped and screwed over, passing a hat to take their last dime for his bogus 2024 campaign.

Now that the Electoral College has made it final and Putin is warming up to Biden, we can stick a fork in the pompous, demented orange clown. He’s done.

Now I’m furious about the 126 traitors in Congress who signed on to that wacko failed lawsuit from Texas trying to negate four other states’ elections. Many of them STILL refuse to admit Trump lost. They’ve taken sedition to a whole new level and it shouldn’t go unpunished.

At a minimum, they have disqualified themselves from sitting in Congress, representing a government they seek to overthrow. Giving them jail terms for sedition would be gravy.

My Christmas wish is for Santa to bring our Democratic leaders spines so they will refuse to seat this bunch in January.

But we know Schumer and Pelosi will give us their default cop-out: “It’s time to move on.” Every time they let Republicans get away with breaking the law, a Trump cult member gets his wings.

The reason for their reluctance is obvious. If members of Congress start holding each other accountable, where does it end? Those who have served long enough to accumulate skeletons don’t want anyone pulling them out of the closet. Corruption didn’t start with Trump, and it didn’t end with Trump. He’s just leaving a fresh mountain of unindicted crime we’ll never move because the most senior members of Congress would get buried in the landslide.

It’s depressing. But at least we’ll be rid of Trump. And a rumor is circulating that Twitter may kick him off.

On the festivities front, it’s been quiet around here as I pull together our very little Christmas. My sister’s ginger cat Alfi and Roc were BFFs when they were kittens and had playdates at my parents’ house. Now, Alfi’s clearly dreaming about what Santa Kitty may leave him under the tree (and if any mice might live in those tiny houses)…

Tony loves the hell out of the old blue perch being on the balcony by the window. He spends most of his days there outside my office (which is preferable to him walking across my keyboard)…

In the evenings, Tony likes hanging out under the tree. Because I haven’t wrapped any presents to put under there yet, his new trick is going UNDER the tree skirt so he can make the bells jingle…

I also caught him carefully pulling one of the tree lights out of its socket, so there’s no telling how many of those he may eat before the new year.

The cats haven’t knocked the tree over yet, but last night I did catch Roc demonstrating for Tony how easy it is to climb it from the inside. It’s a miracle the branches held Roc’s 15 lbs. without detaching.

BONUS: Randy Rainbow gives us a new Christmas carol with “Rudolph the Leaky Lawyer”…

Chapter 139: COVID Chronicles

December 14, 2020

By Karen

Day 275

South Dakota Can Suck It & So Can Salt Lake City

South Dakota has been running absurd tourism promos featuring Mount Rushmore (surprisingly, WITHOUT Trump’s face superimposed on it), with carefree vacationers exploring the state’s vast wilderness with nary a mask in sight. The taglines are: When you’re ready to travel. Great places are waiting. Explore them responsibly.

First of all, with 41% testing positive and roughly 11% of the state’s population infected with COVID (as of today), it’s a stretch to call South Dakota a “great place.” Unless your perfect vacation involves sickness and death.

And with Governor Kristi Noem one of Trump’s biggest fangirls who mocks Biden’s efforts to control the spread and does NOTHING to protect her constituents, you have to laugh off their advice to “explore responsibly.”

Here’s the South Dakota Coronavirus Map and Case Count from The New York Times.

While I’m in that part of the country, Bravo recently expanded the Real Housewives franchise into Salt Lake City, so I had to check it out…

It confirmed my suspicion that the concept is decaying. Aspiring housewives have been watching the show and get cast thinking they have certain expectations to fulfill. Apparently influenced by the Mormon belief that perfection is attainable, this Salt Lake City bunch succeeded in jumping the shark right out of the gate. (Mixed metaphor?)

First, there’s the inescapable Mormon thing. Some of them embrace it, some reject it, some feel conflicted. If you like your housewives ruminating on a cultish religion that’s heavy on secret rites and has a sketchy backstory, this is your franchise.

For example, Mary is married to her step-grandfather. Yes, you read that right. Jen converted to Islam, and she blows great gobs of money, spitefully, just because she can, so ostentatiously, she makes the New Jersey housewives’ Italian gaudiness seem the epitome of understated elegance.

At the other end of the spectrum, two of the SLC housewives (Lisa and Meredith) are virtually personality-free and indistinguishable from each other.

These women behave badly at parties, wear dresses without underwear, swear like longshoremen, and get crazy-drunk (I think I may be remembering only Jen scenes here — she reminds me of early Danielle Staub, but less classy). It’s as if they’re on a mission to disgrace and offend every Mormon in Utah.

From the first episode, most of them already hated each other and jumped straight from introductions to catfights.

I tried to give any of them a fair chance grow on me by watching three episodes, but it never got better and I dropped it. It won’t surprise me if there’s so much righteous indignation in Salt Lake City that this dog of a show gets put down after one season.

So, I bid a not-so-fond farewell to Utah, another place you’ll never catch me visiting. I’ll just stick with my battle-tested, well-seasoned housewives from New York and New Jersey, thank you.

Now that I’m back on the East Coast, I’ve been binging Maine Cabin Masters.

Who knew the Maine woods are oozing “camps,” as their owners call them, usually beside gorgeous lakes? The Cabin Masters are Chase (foreman/architect, center), his sister Ashley (interior/exterior designer), her husband Ryan (muscle/brain, 2nd from right) and the crew.

I love them because they remind me of the relatives I had growing up in Massachusetts. If living in Ohio hadn’t taught me to pronounce “R’s,” I’d probably talk like them to this day. (I’ve been resisting a Southern drawl for 47 years now and counting.)

Anyway, the gang renovates these extremely rickety, nasty camps into lovely, functioning homes, some with even two bathrooms. The décor is heavy on paneled walls and ceilings to retain that camp feel, but always cozy and charming.

In my evenings, rather than upset myself watching MSNBC blather nonsense about Trump’s increasingly nonexistent future in politics, I’d rather watch brawny, laid-back construction workers in blue jeans and flannel shirts build beautiful escapes in the Maine woods. Wouldn’t you?

Cat Memories from the Christmas Tree

December 3, 2020

By Karen

Yesterday I finally finished decorating the tree with my cat ornaments (and a few rodents and birds). I counted 153 altogether. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that Roc and Tony have been mostly paws off…

Last night, Max even spent a few hours hanging out under the tree…

I started this ornament collection after the “1983 Christmas of Broken Glass and Tinsel Terror.” I was in an apartment and my tuxedo cat Rex was a kitten. Rex loved Christmas.

My tree, which stood near the front door, was decorated in typical glass balls and tinsel, which Rex’s more mature sisters Coco and Cleo had never bothered.

But Rex liked to stroll under the tree holding his tail straight up to catch tinsel, which he’d drag all over. I have no idea if or how much of it he ate, but he lived to be 18 1/2 so it didn’t hurt him.

While I was at work, Rex would amuse himself by smashing ornaments against the door. After he took out a whole box, I decided we had to become unbreakable — and no more tinsel.

These are some of the first cat-proof ornaments I found, and they always hang at the bottom in case anyone gets playful…

This is another very old one and it’s just one of my favorites…

Today I’ll show you the personalized collection, which started after I moved into the house and got a bigger tree. Fred, who I adopted as a stray in 1993, got the first one…

Yul came along in 1996 just a few days before Christmas, so I had to work fast to include him. I didn’t have many photos of him yet and tried to fix his glowing kitten eyes with a pen. As you can see, that didn’t work out too well, but he eventually did have that crazy persona…

Fancy Feast began selling an annual ornament in 1984. Their 2001 edition was a picture frame, and I gave it to Rex because by then he was the senior cat…

Adele joined us in 2000, but I don’t remember why I didn’t get around to giving her an ornament until 2002…

In 2009, we lost Fred, and that’s when Cole came to celebrate his first Christmas in a real home after spending three years at the Richmond Animal League waiting to be adopted…

Max joined the family in 2011 after we lost Yul…

Then, in 2015, we sadly lost Cole many years before his time, and Roc came and took the place by storm. Roc has fulfilled his destiny of being named after the human Yul Brynner’s son Rock, because my Roc shows the same maniacal daredevil streak that Yul the cat had…

And, of course, in 2019, after Adele finished her very long life, we found Tony, who brings me lots of laughs and joy every day…

PS: Roc and Max insist I show you this ornament of them. It’s from when Roc first arrived. They were pals and Max mistakenly thought he could be a good influence. It features a special Cats Working message…

Putting up the tree was a grueling chore, but now that it’s done, it is nice having it around again. I guess it’s like having babies; you forget the pain.

%d bloggers like this: