Archive for Gang of Two

Return to Me

I acknowledge that I’m a crazy cat lady. It’s not unusual for a Witch. I keep it toned down and have never had more than two cats at once, but I have unreasonably passionate relationships with them. I choose to confine my cats to the indoors. There are pro and con arguments, but indoor cats live longer, aren’t prone to fleas, and don’t catch Feline Leukemia.

I had Watusi for exactly four years. She was an extraordinary creature. She kissed on the lips. She called the Quarters in ritual. The down side of indoor cats is if they get out, they aren’t good at coming back home. Arthur inadvertently left the door open and we never saw her again. It broke my heart.

The very weekend we lost Watusi, my friend Mary showed me the kittens she was giving away. I ultimately took two: Mingo and Fanty. Fanty is not a favorite: She’s skittish, nervous, demanding, and a crier. But Mingo was extraordinary. He didn’t like calling the Quarters, and had no interest in the ritual setup, but the minute you announced that a spell or trance was about to happen, all of a sudden, from nowhere, he was underfoot or in your lap. He was a wonderful lap cap and a good cuddler, and he comforted Arthur through a prolonged illness.

Mingo, too, lasted exactly four years, escaping through a screen door we didn’t know was broken.

I lived two months with Fanty, a needy animal I don’t much love, before bringing home Callisto.

Who is extraordinary. She has no interest in magic or ritual, but she gives love like a Priestess of Ishtar. She is soothing and kind, loving and sweet. She holds hands. She tucks herself under my arm to sleep. She follows me like a German Shepherd. She is my one-eyed angel.

I’ve had her for just over a year. I dread the notion of four years. I dread the thought of losing her. I’ve done binding magic; sprinkled my life force into her food, woven spells about her. Still I fear.

This week was her annual checkup, and I had her microchipped. I’d never discussed it with a vet before–the vet never brought it up, probably because I have indoor cats. I had imagined it was very expensive, but it isn’t at all. It was painless and took no time at all.

Doing it, I choked up. I don’t have to lose her. I don’t have to lose her. I don’t have to lose her.

The nature of love

Having pets is a gateway to contemplating the nature of love, self, and connectedness.

I love Callisto. I adore her. And I believe she loves me. She sleeps wrapped around my neck or tucked between my arms, often with her face up next to mine. She seeks my lap all the time (and seeks Arthur’s lap less often).

But does she love me? Some people cannot be convinced that an animal can love. All of her behavior can be explained by instinct, by marking her territory, by leaving her scent on me and seeking warmth and so on. I could argue that making sure she can kiss my face through the night (moving around with me as I toss and turn) has no real feral or instinctual value, but some people would be convinced and some wouldn’t.

So, does she love me?

Why would we say that animals can’t love? Is love a part of intellect? Clearly a cat is sentient; it experiences sensation, it is curious, it focuses. Clearly, too, a cat is not highly cognitive; cats lack language, tool-making, mathematics, and comedy. If we say that a cat doesn’t love, does that mean that love is a part of cognition? That doesn’t make sense, does it?

So we can say that humans have “higher consciousness,” and love is a part of that. But that’s another poorly defined term. What’s “higher”? I can say my love is “higher” than Callisto’s because mine has selflessness in it; I do for her. Her love for me, arguably, is expressed selfishly; she loves by cuddling in exactly the way that she likes to cuddle. Yet a cat will tolerate a significant amount of manhandling from its favorite people. Tolerance isn’t selflessness, but it’s not selfish either.

If we say that only humans (or humans, whales, and dolphins) have “higher consciousness,” are we saying that only we have souls? I’m not comfortable with that. I am not 100% sure I know what a soul is, or where it can be found. I think, in fact, that it’s pure hubris to say I know such a thing. I mean, who the fuck am I? What then, is this higher consciousness that corresponds loosely to, but is not, intelligence?

Truth: We don’t know. We act like we know, we feel like we know, but we don’t. Because we sense it isn’t intellect, we associate it with the deepest and most spiritual of feelings, including love. And then we say that creatures who aren’t “high” on such a scale therefore don’t love. But we don’t know that.

All of this (more or less) ran through my head this morning while being rather aggressively cuddled by Callisto.


I got a kitten.

Okay, so the Gang of Two is now a Gang of One. Mingo has run off. I still hope he returns, but it’s been three bleak months of Mingolessness. Fanty is lonely. I’m lonely. Arthur has moved in with his dad, and a single woman with just one cat, who happens to be an annoying and no-fun cat, is just not working for me.

So on Saturday Fanty had her annual checkup, and there was a big crate o’ kittens. Six in total, four of whom were solid black. Solid black=very appealing to Witches, but I finally got smart and chose based on personality rather than looks. My little one-eye is funny looking but the only calm, sweet, social one in the bunch, the only one who wanted to cuddle. As Roberta said, “In a crate of kittens, the one-eyed kitten is king.”

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Why, even though I am utterly single, my bedroom is complicated

The short answer: Cats.

The long answer:

The first time Fanty peed on my bed, she was angry because I’d tried to give her a pill. But then there was a second incident, that seemed to be no more than her thinking it was a good idea. And you know what? Getting into bed late at night, after a bad day, and discovering the bed is wet makes me cry like a baby. So Fanty was banned from the bedroom.

This is complicated, because I didn’t particularly want to ban Mingo from the bedroom. He is a cuddly cat, I love sleeping with him, and he goes through phases where he Must! be in the Lap! But he also can’t stand a closed door. So he cries to come in, I let him in, close the door behind him, he cries to get out. Hours of my life were spent opening and closing that motherfucking door.

Now remember, he just does this crying at the door thing, all the damn time. So sometimes I don’t get up. Especially if I’m asleep. If I’m asleep, I yell at him. Which isn’t restful but hey.

So early one morning, he was in the bedroom, and he was trying to get me up, as usual, and crying, as usual, and I ignore him, as usual, and he has a little accident in the corner.

Mingo is not Fanty. He has the decency to be ashamed about his misbehavior. Nonetheless, tinkle in the corner and Deborah ain’t happy. Also, these creatures from hell, they habituate to a spot, so now I’m worried that he’ll pee in that corner even when it’s not an emergency. So now both cats are banned from the bedroom and the door is always shut.

Which was fine for a few weeks. Despite the interruptions, I really missed sleeping with Mingo; he snuggles right underneath my arm, headbutting/nuzzling until he finds a cozy spot. It’s lovely. Hey, I’m a single girl, I need someone to hug.

Anyway, a couple of nights ago, Mingo suddenly started begging to be let in again, so, soft of heart, I let him in. And it is, truly, lovely to sleep with a furry cat purring next to you. But this morning OH. MY. GODS. Headbutting me at 6:30 am, I cannot, truly, risk another piddle incident, so I get out of bed and throw him out the door. Back in bed, I suddenly hear, not crying to get in, not scratching to get in, but apparently a construction crew. Seriously. It sounded like there was a bear about to eat him on the other side of the door. “Help me Obi Wan Deborah, you’re my only hope!”

I did not succumb.

Tuesday Trivia

1. Misfit and bird man underwater.
Solved by George (comment #5).

2. Pregnant woman goes to the movies, meets dummy.
Solved by George (comment #1).

3. Little big reporter and clown editor.
TIE: Solved by Melville (comment #6) and Ken (comment #7).

4. Southern gentleman robbed by expatriate saloon keeper.
Solved by Ken (comment #8).

5. Dog trainer and nun go on road trip.
Solved by George (comment #2).

6. Boxing great kidnaps professor.
Solved by George (comment #4).

7. Silent film star puts on a show in the barn of a Kansas farm girl.
Solved by Melville (comment #9).

Monday Movie Review: Out of the Past

Out of the Past (1947) 10/10
Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) owns a small-town gas station and woos a small-town girl, until a man from his past pulls him back into a life of deception and danger. Directed by Jacques Tourneur.

Five years ago, I broke my knee and spent four or five days in the hospital, during which, not surprisingly, I watched quite a lot of television, including a showing of Out of the Past. i didn’t much care for the movie, I found it disjointed and corny. Turns out I took an awful lot of Demerol and Percoset during those four or five days, and that may have affected my perception.

Out of the Past is a perfect film noir, hitting all the classic themes in exactly the right way. The femme fatale (Jane Greer) is beautiful and dangerous, the hero is witty and insouciant, yet cannot escape the hand of fate, and the shadows of night and the city are sharply contrasted with the sunshine of small town decency.

The first thing I noticed was the construction and pacing. Every beat hits at exactly the right moment. A dark stranger arrives in a small town. We hear about the hero before we see him, and then move away from darkness into light; Jeff and Ann (Virginia Huston) fishing at a secluded lake, and then embracing, and then discussing marriage, and only then does Jeff’s deaf employee (Dickie Moore) intrude with news of the stranger’s arrival.

Kathie Moffat, the femme fatale, is also introduced in conversation. Before we ever meet her, we know she’s shot Whit (Kirk Douglas), her powerful lover. Whatever we know of her afterwards, we are not to forget that she is capable of attempted murder, perhaps to steal forty thousand dollars, perhaps just to get away.

Whit wants Kathie back, and hires Jeff, at that time a private detective, to find her. Jeff follows her trail to Acapulco, his fascination growing, and we still have not yet seen Kathie onscreen. Before she appears, we know what will happen when she does. It’s inevitable: Jeff falls for Kathy and deceives Whit into believing he has not found her.

The introduction of the two principles are a perfect parallel. Jeff in an innocent, natural and loving setting, but haunted; Kathie in the midst of a deception, seductive and manipulative. Kathie is a trap, and Jeff is caught in it.

The film catches us up with Jeff’s past by means of his confession to Ann, then we are in the present with Jeff seeing Whit for the first time since betraying him. Late in the movie, we return to Ann’s small town to check in with events there, and it is startling how bright the sun shines there. Yes, we’ve been to Acapulco and Lake Tahoe, but the sun is only beautiful in Bridgeport; Jeff’s past-become-present is one long shadow.

Out of the Past is very interested in showing us goodness and evil, and contrasting them, but carefully notes that they don’t produce different results. At one point Kathie tells Jeff that she’s no good, and so is he, and that’s why they belong together. It struck me pretty powerfully in that moment, that Jeff had shown no real sign of being no good, except for falling for Kathie. Even when he betrayed Whit, he refused to take Whit’s payment. His only crime (as in, felony) was in covering up a worse crime of Kathie’s. We see from the start that he is honest with Ann, and even Whit says that he’s hired Jeff because he has a reputation for being both smart and honest. Maybe it’s “smart” that dooms him.

Every performance here is perfection. Mitchum is powerful, watching the world from under his dreamy eyelids, yet still entrapped by it. Kirk Douglas is excellent as a wealthy man who pulls every string, and Jane Greer is captivating. The plot and characterization strongly resemble The Maltese Falcon, but that doesn’t detract from the film.

The whole thing works together: Acting, directing, cinematography, wit, sensuality, morality, and the dark shadow of film noir falling over it all.

I hate Fanty

So the Gang of Two consists of Mingo and Fanty. Mingo has some annoying eccentricities, but is basically the ideal pet. Independent yet affectionate, he’s even a good mouser.

His sister, on the other hand, is here on earth to drive me mad. And she’s succeeding. She’s so nervous that if you walk near her she runs and hides, and yet so demanding that she will cry near your hand until you pet her, and cry whenever you stop, for hours. (But only your hand. She’s terrified of being picked up.)

Fanty has occasional seizures (I know, I know). Previously, they’d been every couple of months, but then she had three in four weeks, so we decided to medicate her. Problem is, she’s nervous, so I was very concerned about giving her pills. My vet gave me Pill Pockets. You put the pill inside the treat and squish it closed. The first one, she refused to eat, and I had to force it down her throat. The second one, she ran from me when she saw it, and forcing it down her throat was harder. Somehow, though, she realized they tasted good, and the next dose she ate readily when I left it on the floor by the spot where she comes to cry at my hand, and soon she was begging for them.

The problem is that I have to get Mingo out of the way because he doesn’t have seizures and shouldn’t have phenobarbital.

This morning it was complicated. Mingo was in the bedroom and Fanty was not. I couldn’t get Mingo out, and then Fanty went into the bathroom, and I thought ‘Fine, I’ll give it to her there’ and shut myself and a pill in with her, but she became upset and cried. So I opened the door, got Mingo out, and shut us into the bedroom.

But now she was already upset and just cried and cried and cried. I put the pill/treat on the floor on her spot and dangled my hand, but she was having none of it, and just kept crying. So I thought I’d ignore her so she could relax, and started fiddling with my cellphone.

At which point, she got up on my bed and let loose a long, angry stream of urine.


On my bed.

Sort of “Welcome to Monday” writ large.

The Return of Friday Catblogging!

<small><strong>Luggage? What luggage? You mean my cat bed?</strong></small>

Luggage? What luggage? You mean my cat bed?

After getting back from Florida, I hurt my back, and so I haven’t finished unpacking. Mingo loves this suitcase. Loves it. Snuffs it. Sticks his head in. Sticks his body in. Lays on it. Sharpens his claws on it.

So at 5am when nature called, I nearly tripped over this little scene, and somehow thought to grab the camera. Took the picture in the dark and only saw afterwards that it came out cute as pie.

Friday Catblogging: Strange Things Mingo Does

Mingo loves plastic bags.

Cat on Bag on Chair

Cat on Bag on Chair

This may look like a cat on a chair. It is not. It is a cat having a love affair with a plastic bag that happens to be on a chair. Soon he will begin to suck and chew it.

Frickin ew.

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Friday Catblogging: reeeeeeee-lax

What? I’m just hanging out!

Relaxed and stretchy