The Most Interesting Cats in the World

This is Tiger, the mature one in the house.  I don’t always pose like this; but when I do it will be on the most luxurious cover I can find.

This is Benji and I agree you’re lookin’ good for your age Tiger.  But you can’t overcome youth.

~ Tiger and Benji, the most interesting cats in the world

Still the Handsome Tiger

This is Tiger and I gotta tell you it’s not easy being the oldest cat in the family.  They let that boy run wild and do things I would never have gotten away with.  Times change I guess.

Flying around the house.  Howling at the top of the stairs. Climbing on the roof for Pete’s sake!

‘O isn’t he cute?’  Sue gushes to Bob as she runs to fetch her camera.

Benji on the printer.  Benji watching TV.  Benji  this and Benji that.

Benji. Benji. Benji.

Spoiled.  Completely spoiled.

Now do not think I am jealous.  No, no, I would never go back if I could.  I continue to maintain my dignity. So what if I put on a few pounds. They will sustain me in the lean years to come.  Maybe I can’t move as fast as I used to, but what’s the big hurry after all?  Speed must be tempered by wisdom.  It is wisdom to contemplate, to reflect.  To stop and smell the roses, if you will. (And the lavender. And the catmint.  But I digress.)

These eyes have seen many things that Benji cannot even imagine for he is still young.  And they are still the only green eyes in this house (and most handsome I am told.)

I know Sue still loves me and she is doing the best she can with the boy. He was a rescue cat after all and has a chopped ear.  It will take him time to overcome.

Still handsome after all these years and with both ears intact,

~ Tiger

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Gee, I didn’t know he was so sensitive.

~  Benji

The Deal

The Deal – a true tale from long, long ago …….

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By Susanne

When I was five I lost a tooth and my mom told me to put it under my pillow so the tooth fairy would leave me money. But the next day the tooth was still there.

“Oh!” she said. “He must have been too busy to get to you. Put it under your pillow tonight and he’ll come.”

But the next day it was still there. “That darn tooth fairy forgot me again!” I told her.

“Just forget him!” she said. “From now on you bring your teeth to me and I’ll take care of it.”

And so she did.

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Tiger the (teenage) Senior Cat

This is Tiger and as you know I am the senior cat in residence.

I shall turn 9 this spring in human years (not to be confused with the 9 lives of which I am on # 3) which makes me eligible for cat discounts. The point is, I’m starting to realize I am no longer young and this is increasingly apparent as I watch the junior cat on the premises, aka, Benji.  I can’t fail to notice how fast he is, how instantly he appears by my side when nanoseconds before he was across the yard in the bush.

I have observed his frantic chasing of the squirrels, yea, his tumbling round and round with them, until they escape and scramble up the tree.  (I have never attempted such a feat, though I have been known to give chase.)

The boy is limber to be sure.  I fear my back would break if I attempted to sleep in this pose.

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On one hand I’m supposed to be training him to adulthood, to get him to mind the feline norms of the domesticated cat. To settle down upon command.  To respond quickly to the human ‘No!’  On the other hand I rather envy the boy. He gets away with crazy and blames it on youth.

And the thing is, (though I can’t let on), I feel the same as he inside. I want to fly.

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Which makes me wonder:  when do your insides catch up with your outsides? Or do they ever?

It remains to be seen. For now, I think I shall shed the senior label, as that’s all it really is.

In my dreams I am still just the teenage Tiger.

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~ the Tiger

A memory in snow….

Our first snow arrived earlier this week but was short-lived. The ground is all clear, the air icy cold, while we wait for the next round of snow to appear. Clouds are moving in but glorious patches of blue remain like parfait.

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Is this the sky speaking before the storm arrives?  We shall see. The forecast keeps changing and I fear I shall yet be disappointed.

I love the snow.  That, in spite of the fact I once spent 10 hours snow bound on Interstate 5 between Seattle and Renton. That’s love, yes?  Of course it does make for a good story (another time perhaps) but my favorite snow memories are more wonderful.  Such as that day many years ago when  ….

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I walked across the campus in the falling snow.  It was my first day of college and I was giddy with joy.  After working almost five years after high school, I had saved up some money, quit my job, and moved to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University.   I made my way past Old Main dressed in blue jeans and  jacket, the fresh snow crunching under my boots. Oh the adventure!

The university catalog would be my tour guide and I reveled in choosing the places I would go, the people I would meet, the things I would see! The Byzantine Empire.  Dostoyevsky and The Underground Man. Astronomy, complete with roof top views of Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings. I still couldn’t believe I could arrange my schedule as I liked, take whatever I wanted, and still have time to read for hours in the library or break with friends over coffee.  So this was school.  Where had I been?  The snow only completed the picture, adding to the magic. 

Snow!  Perhaps it triggers some memories in you too?

~  Susanne

It Happened at Seafair

*This post is dedicated to my husband Bob *

It was a different time and a different town. There was a big airplane company but no technology.  The Smith Tower but no Space Needle. There were wrestling matches and roller derby and stock car racing.  But no major league sports.  It was the nineteen fifties in Seattle and the biggest show in town was Seafair.

Seafair started in 1950 and quickly became the premier Seattle event. There were neighborhood carnivals where you could ride upside down on the hammer and get dizzy on the scrambler. There were parades with drill teams and marching bands, where Seafair Pirates roamed and floats carried princesses who perfected the wave to the crowds lining the streets. Honorary parade marshalls included celebrities like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.  And there was always the high point when the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet arrived at Elliott Bay.

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Seafair Pirates

But these were only the warm up to the Grand Finale. The Races.  Hydroplane, that is.

Every year on a weekend in August, Seafair climaxed with the Gold Cup races on Lake Washington.   Where racers were sports heroes like Bill Muncey and Myro Slovak and drove boats named Slo-Mo IV,  Gale V and Miss Bardahl.

The year was 1959. A young teenager named Bobby was with his friends Delbert and Norman.

Not at Lake Washington but a good picture nonetheless

Norman, (left), Bobby (center) Delbert (right)

Every year their folks would get together to watch the races at a friend’s house near Lake Washington. This year, August 9, 1959, the race was over but there was confusion as to who the winner was, Maverick or Miss Thriftway. Deliberations were taking a long time so the boys left the house and headed to the pits where the action was.

“Come on!  Let’s go  watch ’em throw the winner into the lake!” Bobby said.

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They made their way to Sayres Pits a few blocks away, where the drivers started and ended their course around the lake.  The area was swarming with the big boats and their drivers, mechanics, and radio and TV personalities.  It was also surrounded by a chain link fence that ran about 50 yards long.  The fence was being patrolled by a policeman. They hadn’t planned on that.  But it really wasn’t that high.  And they sure wanted to be on the other side.

Bobby and Delbert looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking. It would be easy.

“One at a time,”  Delbert said.  “Wait till he’s at the other end.  I’ll go first.”

While the officer made his way to the far end of the fence, Delbert climbed up and jumped over.  No one paid attention.  So far so good. A few minutes later, the officer returned and then walked  away again. Norman was next and made it over too, disappearing into the crowds. The policeman continued his patrol while Bobby waited. When the coast was clear he climbed up but as he came down the other side, the cuff of his jeans snagged on the chain link fence.  He tried to pull free but landed hard and heard a loud pop.  He got up to run but his leg buckled beneath him.

A woman screamed.  “Look at that boy’s leg!!”

Bobby looked down and saw that his leg was bent back between his ankle and knee. A wave of nausea and fear coursed through him and a crowd gathered around. The officer came running and saw him lying there with the twisted leg.

“It’s okay son,” he said. “We’ll get a medic.”

While they were waiting, Bill Stead, winning driver of the hydroplane Maverick, came over to see him, dripping wet.

“I broke my leg when I was your age too,” he said.

Bobby may have missed the dunking.  But he personally met the driver!

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Maverick

A few days later he was lying on the sofa at his grandma’s house. Both his grandma and mother had on their best dresses and their hair was all done up nicely in curls.  They wore bright red lipstick for the occasion. The county sheriff was coming over with a TV crew to interview Bobby.

“How does it feel to be the only casualty of the races this year?”  they asked him as he lay there wondering at it all.

Later on that night, there he was, on the flickering screen of the black and white TV. Wow.  He could be famous. But he was stuck with that cast the rest of the summer. He would have to give up jumping over fences. At least for now.

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A shrimp story

Just off of Highway 101 where it runs along Hood Canal there was a small restaurant with a dwelling in back and attached store in front.   The restaurant and store was owned and operated by Floyd and Elsie Chapman and the sign in front read “ELSIE’S PLEASANT HARBOR.”  The canal itself is a narrow shimmering fjord about 50 miles long and averaging 177 feet deep.  The clear blue water is filled with abundant life and on its shores are plentiful clams and oysters.  Pleasant Harbor is a quiet natural cove on the canal and that is where Floyd moored his shrimp boat.

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On a sleepy day in 1963 Floyd was outside in his blue overhauls and captain’s hat, working the fire under a large kettle where the day’s catch of shrimp was to be cooked.  He’d been up since early that morning when he had gone to drop the traps in the canal.

He dumped the buckets full of shrimp into the boiling water and when they turned white in their orange shells he put them into prepared cardboard boxes where they’d be stored on ice and ready for sale in the store.

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The Seattle Times had taken an interest in the man and his shrimp boat and a reporter and photographer were on the scene observing.  I was also there watching.  Every summer the grand kids got to stay a week with grandma and grandpa at Pleasant Harbor.  Those sunny days were filled with dusty hikes through woods to the canal below where we played on the beach and swam in the icy cold water.  We dropped homemade lines off the state dock down the barnacle covered pilings where the perch were feeding and when they took the bait we yanked hard and pulled them up.  If we got up in time we went out with  grandpa on the boat early in the morning to set the traps or later that day to collect them filled with shrimp and the occasional hitchhiking  crab or squid.

After they had taken several pictures of grandpa the reporter covering the story asked me if I liked shrimp.

“No,” I replied definitely.

“Would you eat one for a dime?”  he asked.

A dime!

“Yes!”  I nodded eagerly.

So he set me up just so and after he took the picture I downed that shrimp he had put in my outstretched hand.  A deal was a deal.

I ran to buy candy with my dime.

Later that summer when the article appeared in the paper, there I was in my striped shirt and  pearl necklace, holding that shrimp as if ready to drop it into my mouth. (I think my eyes are saying, ‘oh no…. here it comes…’)

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And the caption read,  “Granddaughter, Susan, age 8, gobbles down a shrimp with obvious delight.”

Um. Okay.  A real shrimp story, that one.