Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ghost of Resolutions Past

I shouldn’t be dwelling on the resolutions that came and went in 2013, but, as I prepare my to-do list for 2014, I want to ensure that my goals are achievable. I’m not talking about those lofty career goals that always sound doable, in theory. I want to make time to pursue the simple pleasures that often elude our busy schedules. So I see no reason why I can’t travel to New York next December during the holiday season and watch George Balanchine’s legendary production of The Nutcracker at The New York City Ballet. I was reminded recently that Mr. Balanchine was a passionate cat lover, and that stage designer Rouben Ter-Arutunian playfully acknowledged this love in his scenery for the Nutcracker ballet. He strategically placed an image of a cat sitting by a window, visible to the audience's left. This tip of the hat paid tribute to Mourka, Balanchine's cat, and here they are.

I am spending a quiet New Year’s Eve at home with our cats and, of course, Cat Man, tonight. No "paw de deux" (you knew that one was coming...) or special activities are in store, although we have an excellent view from our second-floor windows of the spectacular fireworks display that lights up downtown Houston close to midnight.

I wonder if the kitties have their own resolutions. Stop waking up Cat Lady at 5:15 a.m. Nah. Stop begging for Fancy Feast’s appetizers at 12 noon when Cat Lady works from home. Nope. Stop scratching at the bedroom door where Pye is still “self-sequestered.” Not in a million years, or at least in the opening weeks of 2014.

I hope that your next twelve months are filled with laughter and with a continued love for all things feline. The new year will bring a new book on cats, and their ladies, that I developed toward the tail end of 2013—details to come!–, and I am honored to have another opportunity to spread the word about why cats rule the world.

Most important, it is time for me to banish the ghost of resolutions past. Forward we march, Cat Ladies! Cheers to you!

The champagne is on ice at Catland!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Happy holidays, Cat Ladies!

My Christmas morning began bright and early when I greeted Panther and gave him a special breakfast, which consisted of Fancy Feast's tuna appetizer and a can of grilled chicken. I wonder if Panther suspected that this morning might offer a departure from the norm. Or does a stray cat always feel the same-old, same-old, even if the outdoor lights shine more colorfully for several weeks each year?

After feeding Panther, I decided to treat myself to a leisurely morning and afternoon, combining cooking and baking with reading. My friend, colleague, and fellow Cat Lady Heather surprised me with the holiday gift of The Big New Yorker Book of Cats. Big it is, and required reading from cover to cover. I love it!

Another fellow Cat Lady sent word of a UK bookstore's most-popular books about cats. Heading the holiday list at Stanfords is, not surprisingly, the New Yorker's book, and look who is keeping Grumpy Cat company: http://travel.stanfords.co.uk/maps/cat. I feel fortunate to be part of an international community of cat lovers.

I am about to serve dinner, which means it's time to rally the fur kids and to count our enormous blessings.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all good catnip!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Decorating for Cat Ladies, Second Verse

I can hear you clearly now: “You did what?!”

Yes, Cat Man and I have officially adopted an eight-month-old kitty who unexpectedly arrived in our backyard four months ago. We were not planning to begin anew after Lucius passed away, but life intervened. Enter the darling and persuasive Pye, and who could say no to six cats in our house again?

We haven’t been around kittens for so long that we forgot how truly tiny they are. Pye is about as petite as they come, and dainty, too. But I think she’s got a 'tude, which makes her a worthy successor to Lucius.

Pye’s holiday stocking is tangible proof that she is living among us at Catland, because we can’t take a photo of her hiding in between Catman’s dress shirts, which are hanging from the bottom rack of a dark closet in the guest bedroom. That image would not be terribly merry or bright.

Leo, Linus, L.B., and Alvar are almost panting like rubes in anticipation of meeting Pye. Lydia is fuming and plotting when to let the fur fly. I am betting on the first day that the guest-bedroom door opens.

Not a creature is stirring—not the case at Catland!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Decorating for Cat Ladies

Even though the weather outside is hardly frightful, just humid and yucky, the calendar indicates that it is time once again to decorate Catland for the holidays. Cat Man and I are listening to our favorite tunes, and I'm pretending that I live in New England, which means I get to drink a mug of peppermint hot chocolate.

This holiday season marks our first, in thirteen years, without Lucius. To honor the memory of our precious first cat, I commissioned a "mixed-media" wreath from Houston-based artist Marisa Avelar, who is also my colleague at the Museum of Fine Arts. Don't you think Marisa did an outstanding job?