Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Noise….A Birthday Mystery

Banana finished her 2
nd lunch of the day, and went padding down the hallway, to see what Cheese was doing. She found him hiding under the bed, waiting…for what?

“Hey!” yelled Banana. Cheese jumped. “What are you doing in here? It’s a nice day to bird-watch!”

Cheese was shaking so hard she could hear his teeth chatter. “Don’t….don’t… hear…that…that noise?”

Banana sat, cleaned her ears one at a time, and….listened. There was a tiny, faint “Whrrr” noise, far off—she couldn’t really tell what it was or where it was coming from. This noise did not scare Banana—it just made her curious. She could have laughed at Cheese, but he looked so sad and afraid that she felt sorry for him.

“C’mon,” she said in a loud, brave voice, “let’s go find out what’s making that sound!”

Cheese shook his head, and moved further under the bed. “I can’t,” he cried.

Yes you can!” shouted Banana, and she bit his tail.

“YOW!!!” Cheese darted out from under the bed and skidded to a stop in the hallway.

“Now that you’re out here, we might as well….investigate,” Banana calmly purred. She pushed open the hall closet, and Cheese peeked under her legs into the dark space. “Well, it’s not the vacuum cleaner; it’s right here.” Banana pointed at the silent monster.

Banana listened again. “It’s not the ‘ARRRRRR’ growl of the outdoor vacuum [humans call this a lawnmower] either. The noise is softer than that. Hmmm….let’s go, Cheese,” and she pushed him down the hall.

Cheese slowly and quietly poked his head around the doorway, and looked into the bathroom. “It’s not the hair dryer either,“ he sighed, with some relief.

“I know what it is!” Banana yelled over her shoulder, as she ran to the door. “It’s a BZZZZZ bug!”

Their ears pricked, both cats looked into the tree and studied the branches. But they couldn’t hear that special late-summertime song. It wasn’t a BZZZZZ bug—a cicada—either. Now that the cats were outside, they could tell the “Whrr” noise was coming from inside the house. The cats were so curious by now that Cheese even forgot to be scared. What was that “Whrrr” noise, and where was it coming from?

They hurried inside, rounded the corner into the kitchen, and ran right into Karen’s legs.

“Whoa! You two scared me!” Karen reached over, unplugged something, and the “Whrr”ing noise stopped. “I’m just mixing the batter for Gale’s birthday cake. Want to see?” She pushed the bowl to the edge of the counter, and the cats looked up. They saw a bowl with some white, creamy liquid inside. “Now I’ll pour this into 2 pans, and after it bakes, I’ll frost it. Later, we’ll put candles in it, and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Gale. She will be so happy to eat this yummy 2-layer cake.”

As the cats thought about the fact that a liquid, poured into a pan and baked in an oven, could make a tasty treat, Karen licked the beaters of the mixer.

“I would share, but I don’t think you would like this batter, Cheese. And Banana—you just ate, didn’t you? I’m sure you’re too full, so won’t want to try it either.”

As the cats looked back at Karen, she wondered what they could be thinking…

Karen would never guess that Banana was thinking a 43 layer cake would be a much more sensible birthday cake. And Cheese? Well, Cheese was trying to figure out whether 2 or 3 BZZZZZ bugs should be added to that batter, to make that birthday cake just right!

If you want to learn more about cicadas:

If you want to see (and maybe bake) some great cakes:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gale Goes on A Trip (Part 2)

Banana was pleased to have Twitch’s full attention again. ‘’Gale said she left the house named England and flew into Greece with Erika.”

“Wow,” Twitch interrupted, “that sounds really messy. I got into grease once, and it took me all day to lick it off my fur. That stuff tastes nasty!”

“Hmph,” growled Banana, who did not like to be interrupted when telling a story. “I’m sure Gale and Erika wore protective gear when flying. She’s usually a careful, if somewhat untidy, person.”

“Yeah! And anyway, Gale said there was a lot of water around the Greece, so she must have stayed clean!” Cheese looked a little worried at the thought of his people being as messy as Twitch. “It sounded heavenly,” Cheese purred, “clean, blue water as far as they could see. Gale said they went swimming a lot, and they put special masks on their faces so they could see…FISH!!!!”

All the cats shuddered at the thought of having something on their face, but could see the logic in doing it just to be closer to those fast and clever creatures called fish. Cheese started to drool at the thought of all those fish, so close that he could reach…out…and…snag…them...

“Hey!” Cheese yelped. “Why did you bite my tail, Banana? That hurt!”

“You were starting to fall asleep, and you weren’t paying attention to me—that’s why,” explained Banana, who followed the tail bite with a swipe to Cheeses’ ear.

“Ow! I was too paying attention! I was listening with my eyes closed!” Cheese pushed Banana on to her side, and the wrestling match was on.

"YO! HEY! STOP!” Twitch shook the screen door. “I want to hear more about your person’s trip to the House of Grease!”

“Oh…why yes,” panted Banana, happy to stop wrestling so she could tell more stories (she wasn’t as young as she used to be, and those wrestling matches could get tiring if they went on longer than 11.6 seconds). “Gale also said they saw some old things in Greece. She said some of them were so old they were…ancient and ruined.” Banana was pleased she remembered the new words that Gale had used when describing the sights of Greece.

“HA! That’s a good one,” laughed Twitch. “They went to see old stuff that was in grease? You’re pulling my hind leg, aren’t you? I know people are strange, but…”

Twitch’s voice trailed off, as she got lost in the thought of what could be so great about old rags, covered in grease. Banana must have heard what Twitch was thinking, because she wondered if ruined chew toys, with the stuffing popping out of them, would really be very interesting. Cheese used the moment of silence to resume his dream of fish in the clean, blue water.

At that moment, Gale walked into the room. She looked at the three cats, each of whom were looking back at her with what really looked like what she would call “puzzled expressions.” “Wow,” Gale murmured, “Sometimes I’d like to know what you cats are thinking!“

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gale Goes on a Trip (Part One)

Banana and Cheese were lazing in front of the open screen door one summer afternoon when Twitch wandered up .

“Hey!” Twitch poked her nose against the screen. “I saw one of your people leaving with one of those scary bags on wheels a while ago…I think it was about the same time my kittens caught their first mouse. Why was she pulling one of those things behind her? Haven’t you warned her how dangerous those bags can be to cats and their tails?”

Cheese raised his head, yawned, thought about going back to sleep, but remembered how persistent Twitch could be when she wanted to hear a people story.

“Gale said, as she scratched my head that morning, she was going to an air something, so she could fly to see Erika. Erika lives somewhere-not-here in a house called England.” Cheese flexed his paws.

“Wow,” exclaimed Twitch, “That must have been a really big bird, to carry Gale and her wheely bag all the way to that other house.”

“Yeah,” piped in Banana, who was eager to tell Twitch things that Twitch didn’t already know, “Gale told me it was across the water!”

The three cats sat and thought about this for a while, because, after all, it was a hot day and it was the cat-napping time of day.

Banana, who couldn’t stand the silence, continued the story, “Gale said she saw lots of kinds of

people, wearing different types of clothes from many countries. She said Erika took her all over the city in double-decker bus, but they also walked a lot; in fact, she says everyone walks because it is such a big city—she told us about these horrible things they put babies in—called “buggies”. I mean, with all those wheels, can you imagine how nervous those cats in that England must be?”

When Banana paused to take a breath, Cheese jumped up, eager to tell Twitch more about his person’s trip. “Gale and Erika went on a train—it’s something like a big, noisy car that runs on tack….no, that’s not right…a track—to visit some friends. That trip sounded boring, because their friends don’t have cats. But they do have big back gardens, and there was a park with a pond and ducks and squirrels and whales….no, that’s not right—a PLACE called Wales.” Cheese, embarrassed to realize that in his excitement, he was stretching all the way up the screen, pretended he meant to do that, then stretched back the other way, with his tail-covered behind sticking straight up.

Banana was shaking from side to side, eager to continue the tale. “Erika also took her to a very green place—they had to walk across a bridge (Cheese sighed at the thought of more water)—and…and…they saw SHEEP!!!”

At this, the three tumbled over, exhausted by all the new thoughts they were having. Traveling did make one tired!

Just before he drifted off to sleep, Cheese thought of one more thing.

“Twitch, Gale brought chocolate back to share with her friends!”

The three cats made gagging noises.

“Ewwwww….that stuff makes me sick!” Twitch shuddered. “ Maybe those other people really aren’t her friends…”

Twitch spotted a butterfly, and leapt off the step.

“Wait,” meowed Banana, “…there’s more.”

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Tabbouleh

It was a typical Saturday morning—wake time was 6. Banana had taught Tabbouleh the secrets of Banana Standard Time, and he had taken over the job of waking the family. He was a little quiet with his “meows”, but Banana was confident Tabbouleh’s voice would get louder in the next few weeks. She could tell Tabbouleh was going to be a big cat—he had gained 2 lbs. (according to Gale) since he arrived, and he was quite a bit more annoying when they played—he attacked her tail with gusto, and it was no longer an easy task to push him off when he pounced on her back.

As Gale sleepily prepared Tabbouleh’s wet food and refilled his water dish, he explored the legs of the dining room table. Cheese watched from his perch on “his” chair at the table with wariness; the little guy could really jump these days, and it wouldn’t be long before Tabbouleh could make it up on Cheese’s chair. Now THAT would be annoying!

As Tabbouleh gobbled down his breakfast (not leaving even a tiny bit for her, Banana noted with annoyance), Cheese watched Karen do something odd—Karen was putting Tabbouleh’s bed, extra food, and toys into a box.

Tabbouleh spent the rest of the morning doing what he did best: scaling the sofa, sliding down on to a nearby table, jumping to the big black chair, tumbling to the ground, and then doing it all over again. Later in the morning,

Banana watched Karen put Tabbouleh into a cat carrier (Cheese would have seen this too, but he “disappeared” to the basement as soon as he heard the rattle of the handle of the carrier). Banana had watched Gale do the same thing earlier in the week (when Tabbouleh went to the vet for his first shots), but this time it was different—Banana could feel some sadness in the air as Karen gently closed the carrier door. Banana saw the box on the floor next to the carrier, and she rushed to find Cheese.

A little while later, Banana and Cheese watched as Karen picked up the carrier, and Gale lifted the box from the table. The cats heard the front door shut, and then all was quiet; quieter than it had been since Tabbouleh fell into their lives five short weeks before.

When the door opened again, Karen and Gale came in empty-handed. Again, that sense of sadness came in with the women, and the cats realized they had some rubbing and purring to do with their people. As Karen snuggled Banana, Gale stroked Cheese, and the women wiped tears from their eyes. “Today, we took Tabbouleh to his new home,” Gale explained. “He seemed a little scared at first, but the little girl and little boy were so gentle, I’m sure he’ll feel at home in no time. I think he’ll like it there; he’ll have lots of new places to explore, and a new family to love him.”

If cats could cry, you would have seen Banana and Cheese wiping tears from their cheeks too—they understood Tabbouleh had left to become part of a new family, but they were really going to miss the little guy. Karen suddenly looked worried; “Do you think Tabbouleh has enough to eat at his new house? Do you think he’ll have enough toys to play with?” Banana and Cheese looked at each other, pleased that Banana had thought to convince Cheese to come up from the basement long enough to put some of his favorite treats into the box that Karen had loaded for Tabbouleh.

The treats landed right on top of one of Banana’s favorite red shoestrings. The cats knew they had done their best to make sure their little friend had some things from their home to take to his new home.

As the sun went down that night, each creature in the house had the exact same thoughts: “Wow, it’s quiet here without Tabbouleh! He really did become a part of our family! I’m going to miss him.”

And indeed, they did. They missed Tabbouleh every day.