Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hello, Kitty

Betty Pausing for BreathI truly did not intend to be silent for a week. Life conspired against intention, as life often does. Only now am I back at the keyboard and up to writing. It wasn't a dreadful week, just an ill mix of urgent deadlines and petty inconveniences with a large dash of under-the-weather.

My companion in misery is pictured at right. Say hello to Betty.

No, I have not gone and bought a cat, so please don't send notes of congratulation or condolence. Betty lives in the rambling Victorian pile where I've been house-sitting for friends while they and their dogs are away. My duties as temporary house elf include bringing in the paper, sorting the mail, picking ripe vegetables in the garden, and entertaining Betty.

Betty was raised by a dog and seems to think she is a dog. She acts more canine than feline: comes when called, greets visitors at the door, doesn't regard all humans with withering contempt, etcetera. She's also a chatterbox. Betty could out-talk an entire aviary of parrots. I've never known so vocal an animal.

I am long accustomed to silence and solitude when I work. The denizens of Chez Panopticon learned during the gestation of the little bookto clear out when I tell them to. Writing, drawing, and knitting with "assistance" all this week has been quite an adventure.

Here, translated from the Calico, is a snippet of Betty that I transcribed yesterday afternoon.
Hi! Whatcha doing? Are you drawing? Is that drawing? Let me see. Cool. Is that a sheep? Are you drawing sheep again? Move over so I can see. I like your pencil. You know what's fun? When we draw something together. Here, I'll help you. Hey! You know what else is fun? Drawing cats. You should draw cats. I'll be your model. Here. Draw this. Look. Look. Look at me. Look at me! Lookatme lookatme lookatme! Hey!
Where are you going? Are you going to the sofa? Cool. I like the sofa. Move over, I'm crowded. Whatcha doing? Is that knitting or crochet? Is that wool? Are you knitting with wool? It tastes like wool.

Here, I'll help you. No, seriously, I want to help you. Let me help you! Hey!
Are you going to write now? Why do you have to write again? You just wrote something this morning. Seriously, why are you writing again? Did you write enough? Or was it lousy? I bet that's it, isn't it? I bet what you wrote was lousy. You know what's fun? Writing together. I'll help. Move over so I can type. I said move. Move! Hey!
Why don't you draw instead? You can draw cats. I'll be your cat model. Move your glass of water so I can model. Here, draw this. Look. Draw it. See? That's my butt. You should draw my cat butt. I'll bring it real close so you can see the fine detail. Look at me! Lookatme lookatme lookatme! Hey!
When I go back home life with Dolores will seem positively placid by comparison. At least, I think it will. She's been on retreat in rural Wisconsin with campaign advisors for a couple weeks. I've had excited telephone calls from Harry that indicate the campaign is getting ready to move into high gear.

I wonder if anybody would notice if I moved out and ran away?

In the Works

I seem to be entering some kind of Hat Phase, and have three on the needles all at once. Pictures forthcoming.

And in spite of Betty's assistance, et al., I corrected the proofs of the little book (the design is sharp and witty–Interweave did very well by me) and also launch an experimental Etsy shop. So far, so good - have a look if you get a minute.

75 comments:

Kristen said...

Oh come on, you know you want to rescue a kitty from life in a shelter cage. They are all different. I'm sure you can find one who won't be so inyourface. My tortoiseshell is vocal, but my torbie is not. A kitty could help Harry protect himself from the divine Ms. D!

KellyD said...

Franklin,
I like your shop. And can't wait to see your book. We'vw missed you this last week.

Joanna said...

Cat butt in the face is so part of cat life! Welcome to feline humor! We've been missing you, so glad you are back!!

Jenny said...

Dear Franklin, thank you for restoring the smile to my face! I can empathize completely because I'm currently baby-sitting a cageful of finches (two zebras, one red-headed star finch, all males). They chat merrily to each other at the tops of their voices from dawn until dusk and give me a running commentary on everything going on outside. Accustomed as I am to peaceful near-monastic silence, it feels as if my brain has been permanently addled.

Well done for persevering and for being such great company for Betty!

CrazyCatMadame said...

Franklin,

Welcome back. I was afraid that Delores had done something terrible to you.

Betty's one-sided conversation is eerily familiar to those I have with my cats. Sometimes its all they can do to get your attention. They're funny little creatures that way.

>^.^<

Gale said...

This sounds like most cats I have known. Charming story.

Sandie Knapp said...

You must admit a chatty cat is seldom boring. Count your blessings. I LIVE with a chatty cat and 2 chattier dogs (miniature poodle, Pomeranian). I can't get a word in edge-wise around here. As a house sitter, you can leave it all behind you soon. Enjoy it while you can. :)

Sarah JS said...

Franklin,
Most importantly, I'm glad the week's silence wasn't due to anything really wretched.
Secondly, would you consider offering some of your children in the city photos in the Etsy shop? Please?

Anonymous said...

I hope you will add the photo you took of the fabulous lamps at the Turkish Bazaar to your Etsy shop. The composition, colours and perspective were perfection. I have never forgotten it since the day you posted it to your blog.

Congratulations on all you've done and all I'm sure there is to come!
Leslie - knitting therapist

Sue said...

This sounds just like most 'conversations' with my cat.

Harriet said...

Welcome to *my* life!! I have two cats that both assist me when I knit, and when I write.

Congratulations. That was the best translation of Calico that I've heard in a while.

anne marie in philly said...

"temporary house elf" - tee hee!

my meredith is the talkative kind, my steven is not. yet they compliment my life and keep me sane.

welcome back, luv! smooches!

Nancy K. said...

ROFLMAO!

I think I have two of Betty's sisters!

Gotta go check out the etsy shop....

Sara in WI said...

Actually, Betty's chatting sounded much like that of both of my boys at various ages.....spooky!
Sara

Nancy said...

Betty appears to be part Siamese, one of the chattier kitties in the feline neighborhood. Happy for the Saturday post and looking forward to more choices in your etsy shop.

June said...

Oh gosh, you had me laughing until I cried!!! I love the kitty, but you are so obviously a doggie lover!! LOL! Thanks so much for that.

Rooie said...

Heh. Betty's chattiness reminds me of our cat, Duncan. He's chatty and he's huge, so when he wants you to do something...you do it.

Will the photos be signed? Actually, I am hoping that there will be some original drawings up sometime before my birthday so I can point my husband in the right direction. I'd love a picture of Harry.

Good to have you back!

Marcy said...

Ha, ha! I loved Betty's conversation. That is so like my two cats. They are dog-like, too. They come when called, they greet visitors at the door, and they are always loving on me and my guests. You have to practically pry them off.

I think there are way more cats who are like that than what people suppose. Cats have been given a bad rap.

Donna in VA said...

Betty talks about as much as my Tigre, who was a very quiet cat until my neighbor/friend's cat, Miss Whiner (yes, that was her name and with good reason) died and Tigre started channeling Miss Whiner from cat heaven. It's been noisy ever since.

Kitty Mommy said...

Uh-oh! Don't know if rural Wisconsin is prepared for Delores! But I'm betting that at least one of the campaign advisors she is our own Dale-Harriet!!!

Alwen said...

Dear Franklin,

Today I went to the Michigan Fiber Festival, and when I went through the sheep barn and saw the rams, I thought of you.

Love,

Alwen

Anonymous said...

It's not often that something I read makes me laugh out loud! Your Betty commentary was one though -- so funny, and made me miss my old kitty who followed a similar conversational line.

Thanks!!

janna said...

Betty is adorable. You know you need a cat! ;-)

Sandra D. said...

Ah, now you know why I have a "cat free zone" in my home. Despite the well known cat commandment "thou shalt not close doors", they've learned to live with the cat free zone. Okey dokey - off to look at the store!

Catie said...

At least she is only one kitty - I have two and they tag team me for attention some days... Will Dolores be joining you on the book tour?

Mel said...

It's been mentioned, but I think it's very, very safe to chalk Betty's gregarious nature up to her Siamese heritage.

Hope you're feeling back over the weather again.

Trish in MD said...

OMG I have two cats and I swear you nailed the translation to a tee! It's 1 a.m. here and I was laughing so loud I almost woke up the whole house.

Can't WAIT to see your etsy shop develop. I love photography and would shop. Srsly.

Sock Knitter said...

It's about time you came back!!

I am devastated that I missed all the drawings in the shop, however :( PLEASE tell me there will be more??

Kathie said...

You just had my sons in stitches as I read Betty (translated from Calico) to them. Too funny. I think you'll be able to relate to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s13dLaTIHSg !

Tini said...

LOL!!!
That was really one of the greatest translations of Calico I've read in a loooong time but you forgot the "geeetttt uuuuuppp I'm hungry" part, that is the best time of the day for every cat owner.

mmhhh I wonder how Dolores would get along with Betty....

paulino brener said...

cute kitty.

*wow! congratulations on the book!

comment for your 1000 knitters project:

*wow! you are almost there

*wow! you came to MN in april and i missed it... how did that happen! darn busy life! i'll pay more attention next time. when are you coming back to MN? :-)

take and give care,

paulino

Harpa J said...

Your Etsy shop is looking good so far. Your first product is very good (as expected) and I look forward to seeing the rest.

inkberryblue said...

Gosh, I think I live with Betty's cousin. Your post made me laugh out loud...and I think Betty's portrait is absolutely beautiful.
Have a wonderful week, Franklin.

Helen said...

G*d, that was funny. Please write about her again. The only thing wrong with it so far as I can see, is that it didn't contain any demands for food, or any fibs along the lines of 'I haven't had any breakfast today.'

turtlegirl76 said...

Betty is a beautiful Lynx point Siamese. Siamese are incredibly vocal. My Calvin is the same way.

Leigh Witchel said...

Cats are actually relatively straightforward. They're striped furry toddlers.

Pay attention to me.

Pay attention to ME.

PAY ATTENTION TO ME.

Don't make me knock things over.

PAY ATTENTION TO ME!

Roxie said...

Gorgeous photo of Betty! Matt that up and you have the christmas present for her humans.

Glad to hear from you again. You were missed. Hooray for the book!!

Kim U said...

My cat Necco is practically Betty's twin (at least in the face): http://flickr.com/photos/kimtimnashville/2461338405/

Necco also thinks she's a dog and likes to talk A LOT. And interfere when I'm working and sit on the keyboard while I'm trying to type.

dale-harriet said...

Now see, this is what we call "the joys of pet ownership"! For someone who doesn't have a cat, you (with help, apparently) got PRECISELY the dialogue, I'm THAT impressed! My Evangeline is more subtle but similar; my Lilliane's dialogue is more along the lines of "do me do me do me do me do me" by which she means either "put down food" or "rubmytumNOW rubmytumNOW". (She never was "done" so she doesn't mean THAT.) I've been in touch with the campaign committe up nor' and can report that our candidate is behaving very well. (I think they've got her on something........alcoholic.)

Yarnhog said...

Betty sounds a lot like my kids. Silence and solitude, huh? I think I remember that. Maybe. Makes you appreciate Dolores, I'll bet.

FiberQat said...

Thanks for the chortles. I live with a Betty who is constantly inspecting my knitting and telling me to put it down and love her instead. At least she doesn't do what one of her housemates does. Buster just walks up my lap and shoves his head under my knitting hands with a purposeful look of "Worship me!" in his face.

If you do adopt, I'm sure you'll find one that will observe the rules. Make sure you have a cat-free room for your drawings or you'll have prints on your prints.

Teyani said...

I think that Betty's cousins live with me - must be a chatty family of kitties who insist on being included.
thanks for the great chuckle and peek at your week.
btw - the new etsy shop looks like a wonderful beginning. love that photo of the old lady.

pawdua said...

Love the picture of the wonderful lady. Wonder where I could put it?

dogquilter said...

Oh what a hoot!! Love the story and you will miss Miss Betty when you are gone. Bet you will go visit just for inspiration. You will. Just wait and see. :)

Beth said...

Am I the only one who read that translation like a ferret on a double expresso?

Lista said...

No less than ten cats live at my house. They are all similar in personality to Miss Betty. Why, no, I don't get much done, why do you ask?

Linda F. said...

So glad you're back. And glad Betty gave you a taste of the cat-life! Just wondering if every time she said "hey" was when you either pushed her away or lifted her down to the floor. My cat curses...

LA said...

Oh yes. I don't know if they are stretching or mooning me.

Teri said...

Franklin thanks so much for making me laugh! I can totally picture Betty saying all those things to you. I just wonder what she was thinking while you captured her in this picture. She seems so peaceful.

KnitNana said...

MY GOODNESS that's one needy cat!
Glad you survived her. She might have a touch of Siamese - but The Meezer isn't quite so "in-your-face" as that (whew!)
(((hugs)))

Barb B. said...

I went over to see your Etsy shop, but not fast enough, sigh.

Obviously you are not taking Betty's subtle hints.

A coffee cup ... cartoon of a cat's butt .... knitting in progress beside it .... "KNITTING KICKS ARSE"

( I don't usually mention verification words, but this one is "flhucko". Good thing there is an "l" in there, or I'd feel sooo unwanted!)

Miss Sandra said...

My house, my Andrew:
"You went shopping? Whadya get?Sock yarn? Is it? Smells like it. Let me just look. No really, I'll just look. Can I touch it? Can I? Don't you have this color? Let me rub my nose in it. Whadya mean I got kitty boogers on it? It, I, Hey!

Nita said...

Betty sounds plenty like a cat to me... They live to get in your face when you ain't paying attention to them. Re: Etsy shop...you're going to sell out so fast the second you post something. Get on it!! :)

red said...

That is a very, very accurate translation of Calico (or Tabby, or any other kind of Cat).

debsnm said...

I have a cat very similar to Betty. No person can accomplish any task without her help. It's a calico thing, I think.

Diane T said...

Damn you take good snapshots! How'd you manage to get Betty without her mouth open?

Seanna Lea said...

My cat says things like that all the time only with less "I want to help" and more "I think you deserve my butt in your face." I think you captured the species perfectly.

Anonymous said...

You're lucky you had a cat demanding attention. We have a GSD that thinks he's a cat. Including the getting up into your lap bit.

So glad you're back. I missed you.

Er, the Etsy shop is empty. When are you going to fill it up?

Patti said...

betty is lovely... and she knows it. Any plans for a book tour? I so much love buying books when the author is there to sign it for me.

StarSpry said...

Betty looks cute :) I love your translation of her vocalizing :D

I can't wait for you book to come out. Your Etsy shop looks great!

slr said...

Betty looks (and sounds) just like my Cocoa kitty that I rescued as a 2 year old and had to have put to sleep last year at 18. That picture is priceless! I could never get a good picture of her because she was always trying to "help" me work the camera.....

Jus Shar Designs said...

I absolutely LOVE your blog. Enough so that I'm coming out of lurkdom for this post.

Betty brought me out. She "sounds" eerily similiar to my 12 yr DD.

I adore you and I don't even know you. :-)

coolknitchick said...

Just peeked at your Etsy shop ... a print from you is now at the very top of my Christmas list. Please let me know if/when you have more up for sale. You're amazing!

Anonymous said...

Well, finally. I don't know how you made it so far without the sine qua non of knitting blogdom, a cat.

Welcome back. I've missed your writings.

lizbon said...

Betty is clearly related to my own feline. You've pretty much just described every day chez girlwich.

Steph said...

It appears that Betty is quite the friendly feline!

Anonymous said...

BETTY,

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I live with a writing, knitting, cooking, freaky one. She doesn’t understand me either and is completely ungrateful. U-n-g-r-a-t-e-f-u-l! Brilliant, social, b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l, generous and unappreciated felines like us, well, it is our plight in this world to give give give the humans what they need until they realize for themselves that they need it. (See, brilliant. I am b-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t.)

At least your writing, knitting, freaky one is leaving your house. Maybe I can housesit for an easy human someday. You know, a g-r-a-t-e-f-u-l one.

Hang in there, meow ami.
Wilsey
(I am a long haired calico. I am photogenic too v-e-r-y photogenic.)

Mama Lu said...

Have you read Half Magic by Edward Eager? (Lovely book written by an American admirer of E. Nesbit.) Some children find a magic coin that grants wishes—but it's a little the worse for wear, and they are only half wishes. One of them wishes he was on a desert island and ends up in the desert. Then, the youngest girl wishes that the cat could talk ...

Mary in VA said...

Between the dog-like behavior and the running commentary, I vote that Betty has at least some Bengal in her and that I share living quarters with one of her relatives. Perfect translation near as I can tell!

JenniferElaine said...

OMG Betty looks *exactly* like my Giacomo http://www.ravelry.com/projects/JenniferElaine/giacomo

Anonymous said...

sounds like Betty gave you a crash course in living with a feline. She may just have been so chatty because the dogs were away. It can be so liberating to not have to compete for attention. :P

Jennie said...

Three hats??? What the--oh, wait, I have one on the needles and am about to cast on a second, and it's not as though that's *all* I have on the needles... as you were.

that girl n said...

Betty must be the balance to my bestmate's dog Pointless, who was raised by cats, and, despite being well over 10 years old, appears to think he's a kitten.

Also, Betty must meet Bubbo's dog Chester...

Anonymous said...

i love you kitty cat betty. i have a cat she has feelings she has infectious peritonis . i hope she lives. invariably fatal.except for my time varibles and no none of our family is gay. we have an afinity of cats male and felmae well felin and felix.a clone kitty cat family for god brought back!

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