Cat-less in Virginia

sorelaxed     2012catmay     2012catapril

happykatkindle2     janashes3

Although my parents always had a dog, I chose to celebrate my independence many years ago by getting my first cat. Taphne. I’d always liked the name Daphne, and this little lady, who liked to wake me up by standing on my chest and licking me on the nose, was a tabby. So “tabby” plus “Daphne” equals “Taphne.” Hmm. No wonder the spell checker is going crazy!

I don’t recall what happened to Taphne other than an unwanted pregnancy when someone kept her for me once, but my first wife and I had a number of cats (only one or two at a time, though, and frequently with one of a long line of dogs). I made sure to end up with Erica, a tuxedo cat, when my wife and I parted ways.

When Kathleen and I got married, she brought Dirk with her. He and Erica got along reasonably well, although she wasn’t thrilled at having to share the house with a stupid boy cat after being top dog–uh, top cat–for a year. She was a bit of a snob, anyhow, and Dirk was friendlier than he was intelligent.

After Erica died, we got Ashes from one of the local humane societies. We didn’t name him–his “foster mother” had done that–but the name fit. When he was young, he had some tiny splotches of gray on the top of his head, but they disappeared as he got older.

He fit into the household reasonably well with Dirk, but Dirk died eventually, too.

The years passed. We still had Ashes, but Kathleen and I both wanted a dog. My ex- and I had had a miniature dachshund years earlier, and that’s what I expressed a strong preference for while we were researching possibilities. Remembering what Cindy (she was actually AKC-registered as Cinnamon Lady XIX) had been like, I also requested that we name the new puppy Happy even before we met her. I knew the name would fit, and I was right.

I am occasionally.

We weren’t concerned about how Happy and Ashes would get along, but we weren’t prepared for their strange relationship. Happy is typically very friendly, and she couldn’t understand Ashes’ standoffishness. Periodically, however, Happy would lie down on her back and allow Ashes to bite her. Usually on a pinch of lose skin.

We shrugged. Ashes wasn’t actually hurting Happy in spite of an occasional yelp.

But what became a frustrating problem was the fact that–whenever we would attempt to give Ashes some loving attention–Happy would come along at top speed to join in the fun. And inadvertently chase Ashes off. More than once we would pet Ashes when he was lying on top of the rocking chair when Happy came charging along, wiggling with excitement. Even two relatively small animals could knock that rocking chair over with that much momentum.

There were other issues. Like Ashes wanting to eat breakfast at least thirty or forty minutes before we got up. And that was on week days! Use a self feeder? Ha! Not with Ashes already being overweight. So overweight that when he used my stomach as a springboard–with claws he wouldn’t allow us to cut–he left scratches on me and puncture marks in my clothes. Not good.

I’d been wanting to find him another home  for quite a while, but only within the past week has Kathleen agreed. Practically as soon as we posted Ashes’ availability on Facebook, we heard back from a friend who was vacationing in Canada at that time, but who’d planned to get a cat when she got home. And it didn’t matter that ours was eight years old.

Ashes is in a good home now, and Happy is happy being top dog. Much to our amazement, she doesn’t show any signs of realizing that her old playmate is no longer around. And we can sleep until the alarm goes off!

We feel good about our decision.

What about you? Have you ever needed to get rid of a pet? How about sharing a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.


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Best regards,

The Loudest Cat in Town


If you’re a cat lover, you probably looked at that picture and thought, “How sweet.” If you’re not one, you probably won’t read the rest of this post. And that’s okay. Ever since getting a dog to replace one of our two cats, I’ve come to appreciate the fact that cats are not as ideal as I’d previously thought.

Ashes, shown above in a recent pose, came from a feral background. Rescued and put up for adoption, this white oriental cat–he looked a bit like a Siamese cat then–had gray specks on his neck when he was young. Hence “Ashes.” As he’s grown older, those specks have disappeared.

But who’s going to rename a cat just because the name doesn’t fit anymore? At least the dog’s name–Happy–still fits. But we’re forever trying to refer to her (Happy) as him and to him (Ashes) as her.

But that has nothing to do with the “Loudest Cat in Town.”

I’m not sure when it started–probably soon after getting Happy, though–but Ashes started begging to be fed. I say “begging,” but “yowling” is a more accurate description. And he started yowling for breakfast anywhere from 4:00  a.m. on.

To appreciate our problem, you need to understand several things. We get up at 6:30 on weekdays, 7:30 on Sundays, and whenever on Saturdays. I have my wife’s permission to wake her by 9:00 since I’m always starving by then and she’s the breakfast cook on weekends.

The other thing you need to understand is the fact that Ashes is quite a hunk. Literally. Yes, his fur is thick, but he’s pretty weighty, and we’re determined not to let him get any bigger. Especially since he likes to use our stomachs as springboards getting from one place to another.

So here we were facing (or trying unsuccessfully to ignore) the yowling of a cat before we were ready to get up and to give him less food than he had been accustomed to. Not a great combination.

We finally changed his suppertime from 4:15 p.m. to 8:00. That helped some, since that meant he ought not to be nearly as hungry in the early morning. But it didn’t help enough. So we started giving him his breakfast food along with his supper meal. Two scoops of food rather than just one. That worked wonders.


But he still expected food at 6:30 when we gave Happy her breakfast, and he also wanted food at 4:15 when we fed Happy her evening meal. This fellow wanted it all!

When I say, “He wanted,” I mean he started meowing more loudly than any other cat I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure he doesn’t do it louder than Happy barks, and that’s really saying something.

We finally started giving him a small handful–I’m guilty of giving him more than Kathleen does–each time we feed Happy, and he seems to be satisfied with having two itsy-bitsy meals a day plus the one that’s double-sized.

And that’s the way things are now. Ashes jumps up on the bed and starts meowing closer to 6:30, but still earlier than anyone wants to get up and deal with it.

On weekends, whoever gets tiredest of listening to him gets up, feeds both animals, and then puts Happy out. Even with waiting for Happy to come back in, that doesn’t normally take more than ten minutes or so, and sometimes the person who gets up to feed the animals is able to get back to sleep.

In the evenings when Kathleen is crocheting and I’m reading or writing and soft music is playing in the background, we can count on Ashes to start his evening yowl anywhere from 6:55 on. Fortunately he does stop for a while, but not until he’s worn out our ears and our patience.

Why can’t this beautiful animal have a soft meow like a normal cat?

Oh, well. Things are as they are, and Kathleen assures me that having Ashes’ vocal cords removed would constitute animal cruelty. I’m not so sure.

What about you? Do you have any animal tales (tails?) you’d like to share in a comment?


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.

Best regards,


When an Introverted Writer Needs Company

HappyGirl 005     HappyGirl 003     SleepingAuthor

I’m an introvert.

No, I’m not overly shy, especially when you put a guitar in my hands and put me in front of an audience.

I’m the kind of introvert who draws his energy from being alone or with a VERY small group of friends and gets extremely worn out just from being around more people than that. Especially for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

Computer programming was my perfect job for a number of years, because I worked in the solitude of my cubicle, coming out only for meetings and food.

That was then, but this is now.

I’m a published novelist. Once again I have the perfect job. Not only do I get to exercise my creativity and language skills, I get to stay home to do it. If I decide not to shave or shower one day, so what? My wife doesn’t object, and I have almost complete control over the number of people I’ll run into that day.

Most days start out at the Sonic fast food place that’s about a quarter mile from home. Brittney, Keyes, and Cassie (names misspelled to protect the innocent) know me so well I just say, “I’ll take my regular, please,” and one of them has my large diet cherry limeade ready by the time I get to the window.

I feel like I have a real relationship with those folks, even though I don’t actually know them. They seem to like me, though. If my wife finds three cherries at the bottom of my cup rather than the single cherry regular customers get, she knows Cassie waited on me. If there are five or six, it was Brittney.

All too often, my visit to Sonic is the extent of my week-day human contact except with my wife, who—unfortunately—still has to spend seven-and-a-half hours a day at work; at least she comes home for lunch. Wednesdays offer a break because I play guitar at my church’s nursing home ministry—that takes most of the morning—and participate in a Wednesday night Bible study. Occasionally, I run errands that take me elsewhere.

An extrovert—that’s someone who’s energized by being around people—would go crazy trying to live my life. Just as I would go crazy trying to live his.

But do I feel the need for company sometimes? Absolutely.

So what do I do? Call people or talk to them via Skpe?

Nope. My best company during the day is a white cat named Ashes (he had grey specks on his head as a kitten) and a miniature dachshund named Happy.

Although they entertain me at times, the best thing they do is to settle down near me while I’m writing. Ashes occasionally lies on the top of the section of sofa I’m sitting on—something that gives Happy fits because she wants to play with him.

But Happy provides the best non-human company of all. More often than not, she lies down beside me and rests her head on my Toshiba netbook.

Regardless of the keystrokes I have to undo because her chin touched a key, I’d be hard pressed to ask for a more dedicated companion. Man’s best friend during the day is definitely four-legged.


Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Because I’ve used up all of my songs, I revise and repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.

Best regards,