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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Of Formerly Stray Cats, Target Balls and Arkansas Pecans

This is the story that my friend Margaret asked for early on in this blog. For her, I'll retell it. Rest assured that no cats were injured and no target balls broken...

In the fall of 1999, the RB talked me into building a house. I thought it was a bad idea for a lot of reasons, the least of which being that the little voice in my head was screaming, "Don't do it!" And that's a story for another day, because if I get off on that trail, you will never know what happened with the move things along, I'll just say that the house was built and we moved in over Labor Day weekend of the year 2000 with our 3 older Brittany Spaniels. And God started to send stray cats to the door. In short order, I'd taken in a beautiful Siamese cross female I called Clara, and her half-brother, a sleek black shorthair I called Gus.

Never, never start to name stray animals after characters in a large book. Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" has a cast of...well, lots of interesting characters. Before I was done, I'd fed half of them in feline form.

Time passed, and the cats had their surgeries and grew to young adulthood. The dogs adjusted, and my sister's family came up from Arkansas to visit. Susan brought me a Wal-Mart bag full of big Arkansas pecans in the shell, which she gave me as an afterthought as they were packing the car to go home. I sat the bag on the table and said goodby to my sister and her family. I should have taken care of the pecans, but the mail had come and I had a big envelope from a guy named Ralph Finch.

To explain that, I have to tell you that I like to think of myself as a target ball collector. I have 2. What's a target ball? Think Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and Capt. Bogardus (and if you know who the Captain was, we really should talk). In their time, they were the champion target shooters. And what they most often shot were blown glass target balls. Not a whole lot of them survive, and all but the plainest bring good prices on e-bay. I got my first, a 3-piece unmarked amber one, at a local auction. One of the guys bidding against me gave me Ralph's name, as he's the editor of "On Target", and a respected authority on all things relating to target balls. I'd sent Ralph a check and a request for back issues of the magazine, and that's what was in the envelope. I wanted to sit down and read at least one issue before cleaning up.

As cats are apt to do, Gus decided to get on the table and investigate the white bag...and he managed to loop the handle over his head, which scared him. I heard him hit the floor with a yowl, immediatly followed by the thump of the heavy pecan bag. Before I could drop the magazine, Gus had made 2 circuits around the dining room/kitchen/living room, and had bounced off the big picture window before heading down the hall to hide under the bed. The bag flew after him like Superman's cape, slinging pecans every which way.

Gus eventually came out from under the bed and allowed me to remove the tattered remains of the bag from his neck. He stayed off the table after that. Every time I vaccumed, I found pecans. When I moved out a couple of years later, there were still a few under the couch.

Clara's sitting by the door looking out the glass as I write, but Gus disappeared into the forest not long after I got to Washington. She hasn't said what happened to him. Always the adventurer, I expect he tried to make friends with a coyote or a bobcat... I searched for him for many weeks but never found any sign.

1 comment:

  1. I always hope Gus found a new home after he took off. I still smile hugely at the picture of him flying down the hall with the "killer white thing" still attached to him. ;-) margaret


My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"