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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mimosa and the Christmas Tree

“Okay Mimosa, what did you do?” Stanley was standing at the garage door in the pantry, talking through the door to Mimosa. “I got up this morning and I heard the Big Guy yelling at you. When I went to see what was going on, I hear you’re in the garage!”
                “I knocked down the Christmas tree,” Mimosa answered.  “Apparently, that is a crime punishable by lock out!”  He was sitting on a blanket on the floor of the garage.
                “That’s not good!” Stanley whistled. “The Big Guy does like Christmas! You must have damaged it a lot.”
                “No, not really!” Mimosa defended himself. “I just thought the ornaments were bright and shiny!  I just had to get up the tree for a closer look!”
                 “Hey! Why are the ornaments all over the floor?” Pepper asked from the living room. “And the big green thing is on its side!” She trotted from the living room, into the kitchen and to the pantry. “Stanley, did a hurricane come through here?”
                “Yes, a really ugly and terrifying storm called Hurricane Mimosa!” Stanley cried out. 
                “I heard that!” Mimosa called through the door.
                “Stanley, where’s Mimosa?” Pepper whispered. “Did he turn into vapor in the hurricane and that’s why we can only hear his voice? Mimosa, can you hear me?” Pepper called, looking up to the ceiling.
                “No, Pepper! Mimosa is in solitary confinement in the garage!” Stanley answered, motioning his head towards the door.
                “The garage?” Pepper furrowed her brow. “Doesn’t he serve his time in the extra bedroom when he’s naughty?”
                “True, when Mimosa chases and corners me, that’s when he gets put on a time out in the bedroom.” Stanley agreed.
                “Hey, I am trying to get you to exercise!” Mimosa countered. “You would get no cardio work out without me! And the name’s Big M!!”
                “Quit being so concerned about my health!” Stanley hollered.
                Pepper trotted away from the arguing cats back towards the fallen Christmas tree in the living room. Golden ornaments were scattered on the carpet, the tinsel appeared as a sparkling snake along the floor and the artificial tree had limbs torn from the base.  Pepper noticed the bedroom door was closed. She crept over and placed her head gently on the door, listening to the voices on the other sides. She didn’t like what she heard and softly whimpered, hoping that the humans would open the door. When they ignored her, she scampered back to the pantry.
                 Meanwhile, Mimosa called to Stanley, “Psst! Stan! Do you know why you need a cardio work out?”
“I’m not answering that!” Stanley refused, turning away from the door.
“I’ll tell you why. Because you’re fat!”
She found Stanley smacking the garage door with his front paws and calling to Mimosa on the other side of the door, “Stop calling me that! I am big boned!”
“Earthquake!” Mimosa chuckled through the door.
                “Hey, you guys,” Pepper interrupted. “I heard the Boss and Mom talking and it’s not good.”
                Stanley stopped hitting the door and looked at Pepper’s worried face.
“What did you hear?”  Mimosa called in a muffled voice, pressing his ear to the door.
“Well, the Boss said he was going to return Mimosa to the shelter!” Pepper revealed. “At least that’s what I thought I heard over Mom’s crying!”
“You’re right, that doesn’t sound good at all,” Stanley mused, hopping onto the dryer.
“Oh, man! Not the shelter!” Mimosa whined. “I can’t go back to that cage! I didn’t think it was such a big deal! The Boy and the Lady Boss laughed when I did it before!”
“I don’t want you to go!” Pepper cried, crouching down so her chin touched the floor. “Stanley, what are we going to do? He’s part of the pack!”
“Well, I wasn’t going to say this, but since it sounds like my days are numbered, I did enjoy being a part of this family.” Mimosa confessed. “I never really had a home, I lived on the streets until I was picked up and taken to the shelter. You’ve all been terrific. I may not have said it before, but I’m glad I got to know you and for a little while call you my family.”
“Mimosa! We love you, even though you’re destructive and kill Christmas trees!” Pepper sobbed, pacing frantically up and down.  
“Wait a minute,” Stanley’s head perked up. “Mimosa, did you say you’ve knocked down the tree before?”
“Yes, while the Big Guy was out of town, the Lady Boss and the Boy would yell out Timber and everything!”
“So they must have put the tree back together, that’s why we didn’t know about it!” Stanley hopped off of the dryer. “And you’re certain they laughed about it?”
“Yeah, it was a joke to them,” Mimosa answered. “That’s why I was shocked the Big Guy put me in here!”
“And he’s going back to the shelter!” Pepper sniffed.
“Oh, no he’s not!” Stanley said triumphantly. “Mark my words, the Lady Boss won’t let that happen!”
“What do you mean?” Pepper asked. “I heard the Boss say he’s taking Mimosa back to the shelter!”
“But did you hear what the Lady Boss said?” Stanley challenged.
“No, she was crying!” Pepper answered.
“Even better! Mimosa, you’ll be set free in no time!” Stanley confidently stated.
“You know, you have a point!” Mimosa agreed. “My outlook isn’t so bleak!”
“I still don’t understand!” Pepper barked. “The Boss said—“
“Ah, yes, but what you’re not considering is which Boss will get her way!” Stanley smiled.
Just then, the bedroom door opened. Out came the male human, with a grim look on his face. He walked past Pepper as she jumped up to greet him. Stanley leapt back onto the dryer with a view of the garage door. Pepper exchanged a worried glace at Stanley as the Man opened the garage door. He scooped up Mimosa, who was sitting at the entrance waiting his fate.
“It’s a good thing your Mother loves you, cat!” the Man spoke to Mimosa as he held him in his arm. “Otherwise, you would be out of here!” Mimosa squinted at the Man as he was gently let down to the floor. The Man walked back to the bedroom and shut the door.
“I think you’ve been pardoned!” Stanley whispered.
“It’s a Christmas miracle!” Pepper hopped around Mimosa, licking the top of his head.  “You get to stay!” Then Pepper stopped as she heard another bedroom door open. “My Boy is awake! My Boy is awake!” She then galloped towards the other end of the house.
Mimosa shook himself to try to get dry. Stanley jumped off of the dryer and walked to his side.
“Well, you called that one right, old man!” Mimosa said.
“I just got lucky!” Stanley smirked.
“Hey, listen, about all the sappy stuff I said about being part of a family,” Mimosa began, looking at Stanley sideways.
“We could barely hear you behind the door,” Stanley finished, turning away to go to the water dish.
“Great! Well, I’d better go thank the Lady Boss. She likes it when I jump on her lap and purr!” Mimosa said as he headed out of the kitchen.
“She’ll appreciate that!” Stanley nodded, cleaning the back of his ears.
Mimosa stopped and turned back to Stanley. “Hey, Stan, how about I not chase you today?”
“Okay, sounds good, thanks!” Stanley agreed.
“Do you know why I won’t chase you today?” Mimosa crept towards Stanley.
“I’m sure you’ll tell me if I don’t answer that!” Stanley sighed.
“Because you’re old!” Mimosa snapped, then scurried to the master bedroom.
“I knew there would be a catch!” Stanley smiled to himself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

They Called the Cat Athena

“Did you have to bark so loudly at the kids down the block?” Mimosa asked Pepper. The dog was starting her patrol from the front door to the living room. Mimosa was stretched out on the loveseat watching the dog pace back and forth.
                “They were in my range of vision and my Boy was getting on the school bus.” Pepper answered, stopping in front of the orange cat.  “I needed to let them know not to go near him!”
                “These kids were miles away from him!” Mimosa insisted. “You are way over-protective of him!”
                The animals were settling in to their routines after their human family had left for either school or work.  After Pepper paced from the front door, she hopped into the easy chair.  Mimosa was about to begin his grooming regiment when he caught Pepper’s gaze at him.
                “I am not over-protective! I am doing my job!” Pepper stated with a nod, then the nod turned into a head shake, flapping her ears. Then as quickly as she started, she abruptly stopped and let out a sneeze.
                “Fine, fine, I just saying it’s not the Wild West!  I don’t think he’ll be attacked by bandits when he’s going to the school bus!” Mimosa concluded, wiggling his back paws.
                “He’s my Boy and I let it be known!” Pepper sniffed, sneezing again.  
                “No kidding! I’m sure everyone on the block knows he’s your Boy!” Stanley yawned, as he lounged in front of the sliding glass door going out to the backyard.  “Even the bird on the lawn knows he’s your Boy!”
                “Bird on our lawn?!” Pepper yelped, trotting over to where Stanley was laying. Stanley got up on his paws as quickly as he could at the sight of Pepper lumbering over. Pepper stuck her head through the slats of the blinds and saw the offensive bird.
                “Hey, bird! Get out of our yard!”  Pepper yelled. The bird with a long tail feather looked behind him. His marble-like eyes saw Pepper on her hind legs, front paws on the sliding door. Since the glass was protecting him, he shrugged his bluish-black wings and returned to chewing the blade of grass.
                “Why won’t it listen to me?” Pepper lamented. “I need to go out there! I miss my Pack! One of them would let me out there!”
                “Here we go again!” Mimosa sighed. “No sooner do they leave us alone, and Calamity Pepper starts whining she misses them!”
                “Don’t you miss them, especially the Boy?” Pepper asked, landing with a thud on all four of her paws. “He’s always carrying you around! You’re so lucky! I wish he could carry me around!”
                “Listen, sometimes it is nice not to have to walk,” Mimosa agreed, “but there are times I’m on my way to the water dish, and WOOSH! He picks me up and takes me in the opposite direction!”
                “That’s why I’m glad I have these few pounds on me!” Stanley chuckled, as he rolled on his back on the floor in between Pepper and Mimosa.  “It’s harder for the Boy to pick me up! But I must admit, the Boy is so much better than he was when he was a toddler!”
                “What do you mean?” Pepper asked, leaving her post of the back door to go to Stanley’s side.
                “Hey, that’s right! You’ve been here the longest!” Mimosa said, rising to his paws.
                “Yes, and before me was Athena,” Stanley said, walking towards the end table. When he arrived at the corner of the table, he leapt up on its counter. There was a photograph of the departed cat and the Boy 5 years ago. Stanley tilted his head to the side as he looked at the picture.
                Mimosa joined him on the counter and Pepper laid her head on the space in between them.
                “Hubba Hubba! She was good looking!” Mimosa admired, and Stanley glared at him before swatting the orange cat’s head with his grey paw.
                “Look at my Boy! He’s so tiny!” Pepper’s voice cracked with emotion. “And look how he’s holding onto Athena! Such a sweetheart!”
                “Is it me, or does she look terrified?” Mimosa remarked.  He looked closer at the picture. The Boy was holding her very close to him, their faces side by side. Athena’s eyes were wide and the camera captured her trying to release herself from his tight grip.
                “Oh, you’re so right, she was terrified of the Boy,” Stanley answered.
                “But why? He’s terrific!” Pepper countered. “He plays ball with me, he feeds me!”
                “Well according to Athena our Boy was quite the little terror!”  Stanley began.  “Let me set the stage—Athena was never a lap cat. She had a certain dignified air about her.”
                “She was stuck up!” Pepper offered, sticking her tongue out at the photo of the departed cat.
                “No, she was very…aloof,” Stanley disagreed. “She wouldn’t dream of demeaning herself by playing with a fake mouse or balls of yarn. “
                “Okay, she was a snob!” Pepper challenged.
                “The dog’s got her number,” Mimosa agreed. “But hey, if that kind of chick was your thing, who am I to judge?”
                “Anyway,” Stanley cleared his throat and continued, “When the family brought in the Boy, Athena never once did any of the horrible antics, like jumping into the crib with him. Instead, she became a distant observer to this new small bundle of a human.    She pretty much kept her distance until he started to walk.”
                “How could she keep her distance for so long?” Pepper wondered, tilting her head to one side.
                “Well you’ve said yourself she lived on the refrigerator when you were a pup!” Mimosa answered. “And she wasn’t very friendly, the hot ones usually aren’t!
“Anyway,” Stanley tapped his paw impatiently on the table. “One day Athena decided to go check out the Boy. He was probably around 3 years old, Him and Mom were sitting on the couch.   Athena carefully hopped up next to him.  She told me she remembered her whiskers gently touch his tiny hands as she sniffed him and he petted her head. Mom praised Athena for being so good with the Boy.
“ All was going well until, for some reason, the Boy’s tiny hand got a hold of a bunch of her hair on her back.  Athena actually braced herself by holding onto the couch cushion with her front paws.  Suddenly, the Boy yanked a handful of hair off of her!”
“Ouch!” Mimosa cringed, feeling his own hair rise on the back of his neck.
“I don’t believe it!” Pepper fumed. “My Boy is kind and would never do anything like that!” Then she turned to face the photo. “Stop lying to us, Athena! Bad kitty!”
“She looked at Mom with an expression that said That really hurt!” Stanley sighed, shaking his head. “She quietly slinked away as Mom scolded the Boy.  She never laid a claw on him. She was such a lady!”
“She knew if she hurt the Boy, the Big Guy would probably throw her out on the street!”  Mimosa muttered, twitching his tail.
“That was a horrible story!” Pepper yelped. “Stanley, I won’t be able to get the image out of my mind for…”Her voice trailed off as she heard a slight tapping noise. She raised an ear and located the noise was coming from the sliding glass door. Pepper ran over to the back door and parting the blinds with her nose, she spied the bird tapping the glass with his beak.
“Oh no you didn’t!” Pepper snarled. “Leave our door alone! All right, buddy, it’s on!”
The two cats looked with tired eyes at Pepper as she began her tirade of barks. “Like I said before,” Mimosa said to Stanley, “Calamity Pepper rides again!”

Monday, November 1, 2010

What the Pets are Saying

“My pack is gone!” Pepper, the black Labrador Sharpe mixed dog lamented. She was intently staring out of the kitchen window, looking for any sign of the humans that were part of her pack. “Why do they leave?”
                “To get us some food, I would assume!” answered Mimosa, an orange and white  American short haired cat. He stretched lazily from his perch on the pony wall next to the window where Pepper was standing. “Every time they come home, they feed us. “
                “I don’t get why they leave either, Pepper,” Stanley agreed, a grey long haired cat of Maine Coone and Russian Blue mix. He was laying across the kitchen table, the only time he could while the family was out. “Being outside it’s all that great! When I lived outside, it was cold, I was hungry all the time and I was miserable! Then I was brought in by this family, I was warm, happy and never hungry again!”
                “Yes, we can see you haven’t missed a meal!” Mimosa grinned, hopping off of the pony wall and next to Stanley on the glass table.  Stanley hissed at him in reply.
                “Stop arguing, Stanley and Mimosa!” Pepper refereed, turning away from the window and barking at them.  “I hate to see you two fighting! That’s another reason why it’s bad when the pack leaves. The Mom isn’t here to separate you two!”
                “Hey, you know I hate that name!” Mimosa howled, putting his paw on top of her head for effect. “Call me Big M!”
                “But why? Your name is Mimosa. The Boss, the Mom and the Boy call you that.” Pepper insisted.
                “Don’t remind me!” Mimosa took his paw off of her head and tucked it glumly under him. “I was really glad to leave that cage. The building was full of cats, meowing at all hours. And the people coming by, staring at you through the bars and poking at you.  When this family took me from the cage, the lady asked them what my name was going to be. The Boss looked me over and she said ‘I love his orange color! It reminds me of a mimosa!’ Then the Big Guy agreed and told the lady that’s what my name was! She filled out the paperwork and made me a tag with that name!” He shook his head as the tag jangled beneath his chin. “I tried to tell her that’s a girl’s name and I’m a boy! Once the paperwork is filed, there’s nothing I could do about it!”
                “Well, you do know that the humans can’t understand us.” Stanley pointed his paw at Mimosa. “All they can hear is meow, meow, meow!”
                “Why do you call the Boss the Big Guy and the Mom the Boss?” Pepper asked, completely ignoring Mimosa’s point of his story about his name, which caused Mimosa to glare at her. “I don’t think the Boss would like you to refer to him as fat!”
                “Because she is the boss,” Stanley offered, wiping the back of his ear with his paw. “And he is a big guy, not necessarily fat.”
                “How can she be the Boss?” Pepper cocked her head to one side, thoroughly confused. “She is shorter than the Boy!”
                “Trust me, I’ve been here the longest, I know she’s the Boss!” Stanley assured.
                “Oh, yeah, you have been here the longest!” Pepper mused, her tail starting to wag as she glanced out the window again. It flickered over Mimosa’s nose, which was annoying to him. He started to swat at it, but that action didn’t result in Pepper stopping. She figured it was a game and kept right on swishing it. “When I joined the Pack, there was another cat besides you, it was a black and white cat, right?”
                “Yes, that would have been Athena,” Stanley recalled. “Her fur had the markings of a tuxedo. Man, she was something!”
                “Was she even a real cat?” Pepper chimed in, turning away from the window again, showing her teeth as if she was grinning. “She hardly ever moved off of that refrigerator!”
                “Yes, she was a real cat!” Stanley reassured. Then, turning to Mimosa, he continued, “She was a lady through and through.”
                “She would have nothing to do with you,” Mimosa concluded.
                “No, I tried every trick I knew, but she wouldn’t have it!” Stanley sighed. “Pepper, you don’t remember her like I do. She was very old when you came to live here. I knew something was wrong, these last few days she was here. She didn’t have the right smell.”
                “It’s very important to check to make sure everyone has the right smell,” Pepper agreed.  “That’s why I sniff everyone that’s in the pack. I sniff because I care!”
                “Well, stop caring so much!” Mimosa yelled, swatting at Pepper’s wagging tail. “You make me very uncomfortable when you’re sniffing me!”
                “That’s another reason why I don’t like the outside,” Stanley intoned. “The family took Athena out with them one day and she never came back!”
                “I came in from the outside,” Mimosa offered. “From a shelter that’s outside of this house.”
                “Hey, me too!” Pepper added. “I came from a shelter where I was left in a box with my brothers and sisters. So I’m an outsider like you, Mimosa!”
                “There you go, two other reasons why I don’t like the outside!” Stanley huffed. “The evidence is piling up!”
                “Quit calling me Mimosa!” Mimosa fumed. “Do I look like the breakfast beverage?”  Then he compared his 9 pound body to the dog’s 75 pound girth. “Wait, don’t answer that!”
                “You know, you’re looking at your name all wrong. Pepper suggested, trotting happily around the round kitchen table.    “What is a mimosa anyway?”
“It’s a drink made from orange juice and champagne.” Mimosa answered, sticking out his tongue. Then he set about grooming himself, starting with his hind legs.
“See? Champagne is really expensive and classy.” Pepper continued. “That’s kind of nice to be associated with that, now isn’t it?”
“You know, I never thought of it like that,” Mimosa looked up from his grooming ritual. “I am a classy guy!” Stanley rolled his eyes behind Mimosa’s back.
“And maybe my name is short for a food also,” Pepper went into the downward dog position. “Maybe my name is short for Pepper Jack Cheese!!”
“Pepper Jack Cheese?” Mimosa and Stanley repeated simultaneously in the same incredulous tone.
“Yes! I’m spicy and the perfect compliment for any sandwich!” Pepper announced, jumping up from the downward dog position.
“And don’t forget cheese is melty, like your brain!” Mimosa muttered, as Stanley smirked.
                Suddenly, Pepper pricked up her ears and darted for the window again. “They’re coming home! I see their car!” she yelped. Then she started pacing back and forth, from the kitchen entrance to the front door.  “The Pack is home! But I need to pee! But my Pack is home, I’m so happy! And I need to pee!”
                “Unbelievable!” Mimosa announced, shaking his head. “You would think by now she would get used to them coming home!”
                “By the way, what if she was right and we were named after food?” Stanley asked. “That makes sense for your names, but what about mine? There’s nothing named after Stanley.”
                “Actually, there is something named Stanley that suits you perfectly,” Mimosa said, stretching out his paws in front of him. “I saw a whole bunch of them on a commercial for a hardware store.”
                “Really? On the TV?” Stanley sat up a bit taller, nodding to himself. “Not bad! Hey! Wait a minute! What do they sell again at hardware stores?”