Monthly Archives: January 2018

Beocat Ate Beowulf for Breakfast: Part 3

This is the 3rd and final installment of the legendary quest undertaken by Sir Mark Beocat, a fearless and valiant man on a dangerous mission to “fix” a problem of a full load of fertile feral cats. Last week, after a heady first success of reaching the daily maximum katz capacity of 6, we learned that the social club in an adjacent property dumped trays of fettuccine Alfredo out their back door offering the Katz a potential food source. Would Sir Mark get derailed by some unimaginative person’s party food waste? Would his efforts come to naught? Would the Katz learn that the fabulous smelling sardines and chicken in that cage thingy leads to a really, really bad trip, a blackout, and a hangover? And then avoid it altogether?

And now, the conclusion to Sir Mark Beocat’s Epic Quest.

Sir Mark’s log, Tuesday, December 19: “We trapped a bonus cat last night, so I had 4 cats to take to Springfield, the cat feeding villager [our dad] took 3 to the CT vet. We’re now waiting on some more.”

Sir Mark had made a rookie mistake and closed the traps the night before. Now he was worried. They had no cats for Wednesday. Still, he soldiered on and kept despair at bay. “The Katz were mucking about the deck last night, so maybe we’ll have some luck tonight.”

Wednesday, December 20: “We have 3 more going to surgery this morning! That makes 10 caught, leaving 4 more to go in the next 2 days.”

The original count had been 13 katz, but another had been identified by the villager. Keeping count was how Sir Mark knew he was making headway. His days fell into a blurring intense rhythm of trap checking, and then covering each trapped kat with a sheet or towel. Because the traps are just wire the katz don’t recognize they are in a cage and will continue to bash themselves against the wire. Once covered, they quiet down. Then there’s packing trapped katz in the truck, driving to the 8 am vet in CT. Drop off new katz, pick up post-surgery katz. Head to MA for the 9:15 time to drop off/pick up katz. He learned the hard way not to show up early at either place — they’d make you wait. The he released post-surgery katz, cleaned up the traps and resetg them, switching them to different places and putting them all over the yard.

Thursday, December 21: “It was a busy morning and a busy night last night. By morning there were 5 katz waiting for surgery. [Agent My Sharona had visited on Wednesday night, and Sir Mark declared her a katz magnet.] There were 2 bonus, heavy, tom cats in the bunch that were not planned on. They could be someone’s pet, but in the training Commander Caroline had said, if the owners didn’t want their cats nuts cut, they should have kept them indoors!” So be it.

This was the hard reality of Operation Krazy Katz. Just due to their size, you could safely assume the two toms were pets. It turned out that one of them was already neutered, so the vet just notched his ear. That’s how they mark a spayed/neutered feral cat — with a surgical notch. The other kat got free (for its owner) surgery. Commander Caroline said that if the owners were not happy about the situation, the law was on Sir Mark’s side. Of course, his quest was Just and True.

His entry continued: “The tally as of today is 15, 2 of which were kept for adoption in Springfield. We are still missing 1, possibly 2, of the little fur balls. I saw one late last night, and the villager said he saw the same one with another escapee this morning while I did the katz shuffle loop between the vets. We got the most productive mother, and what looks like the 2 of the fathers, so that’s good. Looks like male/female ratio was fairly even.”

Such an incredible success, and yet, there was no rest for our brave, diligent Sir Mark. “Today and tonight are the last shot at getting the last 2 footloose and fancy free varmints! Right now all is quiet. I’ve got 6 traps out with different menus. All we can do now is wait.”

Indeed. To be so close to the goal. But out there were 2 wiley creatures, just scared enough or smart enough to look beyond the tasty food down that long tunnel and sense all may not be as it seems…

Sir Mark’s log, Friday, December 22, 6:20 am: “Unbelievable! Caught 1 of the 2 stragglers last night, and found the last 1 in a trap this morning. Mission accomplished!”

We all rejoiced, and yet, just 1 hour later this: “Ah buggah, just saw a gray striped one that doesn’t have a notched ear. Apparently there were more katz than the villager thought. Hopefully, it’s a male. As the Grateful Dead said, ‘What a long strange trip it’s been…’ ”

Sir Mark finished the day by picking up 2 katz in MA. He hosed down and disinfected most of the traps to bring back to the rescue organization, and then picked up 2 other cats in CT.

Yes, my friends, there are still heroes in this world. 17 katz fixed, dewormed, and defleaed in 5 days. It was the work of a fearless and valiant man, Sir Mark Beocat. Long may he live, and may the epic that is written about his deeds and courage be sung throughout the ages.


Beocat Ate Beowulf for Breakfast: Part 2

Last week, we learned of a legendary quest undertaken by Sir Mark Beocat, a fearless and valiant man who spent several months (that’s several years in Olde English, armor-laden, horse-riding time) meticulously planning and executing a dangerous mission, battling nature herself and saving a village and one particular villager who had been feeding said cats. Despite the great odds against him, Sir Mark Beocat had set his sights on, er, “fixing” the problem of a full load of fertile feral cats and would not be deterred. He lives in Maine, 300 miles from the village in Connecticut, and so planned to spend the week. His months of relentless, heroic preparations came down to this: 1 week, 13 cats, 16 humane traps, 1 cat trapping boot camp, 1 helpful pet rescue organization, 2 willing veterinary clinics in 2 states, and pounds of the stinkiest bait food you can imagine.

His first stop was Our Companions Animal Rescue, which had agreed to lend Sir Mark 16 humane traps, train him how to use them, and connected him to 2 vets who were willing to spay and neuter the cats on a walk-in basis. Here’s what happened next; quotes are from his log book.

Sir Mark’s log, December 17, Sunday: “Looks like we’re clear for liftoff on Operation Krazy Katz. Cover me troops! I’m going in! I’m heading down at O dark hundred to ground zero Sunday and will be at Our Companions Headquarters for a 10:30 am briefing on the details of the operation. Agents ‘My Sharona’ and ‘Mighty Martman’ [our sister and brother-in-law] may accompany me if they so chose for the briefing, and we have been instructed to stay focused as Commander Caroline will cram a 1-hour briefing into 20 minutes, distribute a truck load of secret conTRAPtions, and send us on our way by 11 am.”

After the briefing, Sir Mark sent an update:

“The blitzkrieg training at Our Companions went well, with all three of us graduating Katz Cum Loudly! We threw our mittens into the air and did what graduates do, go to the liquor store and head to the beach. We didn’t get far before realizing: (a) It was too dang cold for the beach; (b) The liquor store was closed; (c) We’re not that wild and crazy enough any more for that sort of thing! Instead we somewhat reluctantly did the mature, responsible thing and got ready for the Mission Inkatzable. We picked up extra supplies [sardines and other stinky foods Katz can’t resist!].”

Later Sunday: “I will stake out the territory, do some reconnaissance, ready the traps, and start Operation Krazy Ol’ Koot on Monday. Then I’ll collect fur ball specimens to be spayed or neutered Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.”

The two vets that agreed to take on whatever cats he could trap had very strict rules around when and how to bring in the cats. They were also about 50 miles apart, one in Connecticut and one in Massachusetts.

Sir Mark reported: “Chippens Hill Animal Vet Hospital has agreed to take at 8 am, 2-3 Kats on Monday, 3 on Wednesday, 3 on Thursday, and possibly 2 on Friday.  Should I trap more than that on any given day, I can run 3 more a day up to the Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, MA. They accept cats at 9:15 am. Hopefully I will get some leads on finding places to unload a few of the Katz, and we can work on thinning the herd down to a more manageable number. Probably wishful thinking! I’ll be sure to give daily updates and call for backup if I get in over my neck in flea bags!”

Sunday night, Sir Mark recorded this entry: “The Katz were getting familiar with the open unsprung traps in the afternoon. Commander Caroline suggested we put them out without food to get the Katz used to them. I was surprised at how some had enough curiosity to check them out and even go into them! This is very encouraging! The traps were set to stay open so that the they wouldn’t close on the curious felines while they explored. Today we will set them up and see how many we can get.”

The traps were in place. Everything was set. Would the Katz be too skittish? Would they find a way to steal the food and get out? All we could do was wait it out for Sir Mark’s next update.

Monday, December 18: “We had a successful first day, trapping 5 Katz in the first hour, and 1 more in the afternoon.” Success! They had reached their daily limit of 6. On Tuesday morning, the katz-feeding villager took 3 cats to the CT vet and Sir Mark drove up to Springfield. “We will try more enticing bait tomorrow, sardines and chicken.”

But later that day, there was a worrisome development. Commander Caroline had told Sir Mark to limit the Katz access to other food so they would be more likely to go into the traps to eat. The neighbor agreed not to feed them, but a social club in an adjacent property dumped a load of fettuccine Alfredo out their back door. Would Sir Mark get derailed by some person’s party food waste? Would his efforts come to naught? Would the Katz learn that the fabulous smelling sardines and chicken in that cage thingy leads to a really, really bad trip and a hangover and stay away?

Find out in the thrilling conclusion next week!



Beocat Could Eat Beowulf for Breakfast: Part 1

In days of old, my brother’s successful quest a few weeks ago would have been immortalized in song. The court poet laureate would have been summoned to hear the heroic tale of the fearless and valiant man who spent several months (that’s several  years in Olde English, armor-laden, horse-riding time) meticulously planning and executing a dangerous mission, battling nature herself and saving a village.

The poet would be sent off to pen the enduring lines that would be recited for centuries in the royal court, then sung enthusiastically by drunks in taverns, and finally forced to be painfully memorized by bored high school kids in freshman English.

It started with a few of those wily creatures found around witches and James Bond villains: cats. The local villager (aka our dad) started feeding strays. And, for a few years, like a cute dragon that has hatched from an egg and isn’t very big and hasn’t yet learned to breathe fire, it was all fun and games. But then a funny thing happened on the way to mother nature. This year several batches of kittens were born, and said villager started feeding them all. Suddenly, a few cats became 13. In addition to the possible risky things that can happen when there are 13 feral cats about, even a word girl like me understands enough about math and exponents to know that next year, we’d have 50 cats and a lot of ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.

The siblings batted it around for most of the year. It was part of a bigger discussion around caring for my aging parents. And since my dad reads this blog, I will also say they are doing amazingly well, but they are pushing 90, so no shame in getting some help. And it really was my siblings — they were great about letting me launch the kid this year, so for the cat thing, I looked up a few feral cats websites, got nowhere, and declared the problem intractable.

And this is why a legendary epic will never be written about me.

My 2 sisters also looked into the issue, but over months of research, they came to that often inevitable red tape dead-end: the feral cat organizations or city wouldn’t touch them because they had been steadily fed, and the legit pet people would charge as if it were one beloved house pet with a big pet health insurance policy. Also, my sisters were distracted by those other pesky things like our parents’ medical procedures and doctors appointments.

But Sir Mark Beocat, as he will henceforth be known, had set his sights on, er, “fixing” the problem of the fertile feral cats, and would not be deterred. His months of relentless, heroic preparations came down to this: 1 week, 13 cats, 16 humane traps, cat trapping boot camp, 1 helpful pet organization, 2 willing veterinary clinics, and pounds of the stinkiest bait food you can imagine.

What happened next? Tune in next week!






A Snow Adventure

You may have heard we got hit with 12+ inches in Boston last week. Ah….there’s nothing like that first big snow fall, the dazzling snowflakes…blowing horizontally in the shrieking wind of the “bomb cyclone.” Someone needs to give the weather people more to do — they have way too much time and fun at work making up scary adjectives for storms, which we in these parts are happy to just call a naw’eastah, thank you very much. The rest of us don’t get to make up words at work, so why should they have all the fun?

Despite the storm’s doomsday descriptions, I survived with heat and electricity intact. However, it wasn’t until the next day that I understood the real terror of the storm… The Space Saver.

Now that I am in a new neighborhood in Boston proper, suddenly all those stories about saving shoveled out spaces with broken toilet bowls and vacuum cleaners stop being “cute” and “funny,” and take on a menacing tone. In most areas, moving the saver is a really bad idea. Silly me, the real test of storm endurance was just beginning. Not for nothing, in my previous neighborhoods, even though I had a driveway, my visitors had to park on the street and I’ve had non-snow parking situations where people left a nasty note, flattened tires, and once keyed a car. You break the unspoken rules of your neighborhood, and you take what’s coming to you.

Oh, sure when I moved in this fall, these were the nicest people. Saying hello, organizing neighborhood leaf raking, even checking on my sister and elderly mother when they were out for a walk and taking rest.

But the first spacing saving chair had sprouted; Boston winter’s equivalent of a warning volley shot across the bow. And with another 3 days of ridiculous temps from 7 to 14, there was no luxury of having the bright, day-after 35 degrees and sunshine helping me shovel out with a little snow melt. My monkey mind went into overtime. I didn’t want to get involved with saving a space. If I left and couldn’t find a space when I came back, what were my options? Where could I park my car? I was starting to miss the “snowmageddon” of 2015 (another made up weather word!). At least then I was master of my own domain and could shovel out on my own schedule, or at least when work demanded I show up in the office.

I had managed to get as far as thinking I could take time off from work to dig out my car during the day, which was allegedly supposed to be warmer at 35 degrees. And if I couldn’t find parking when I got back, I could park in a pay garage in the next town and take the bus back to my house. But then I realized something. Something profound.

I didn’t need my car. I take the train to work, I get my groceries delivered, and anything else can be walked or cabbed to. So I let it go, and then in the way the universe likes to mess with you, I went to check on my car on the weekend, still cold as you-know-what, and saw that the spot behind me was open. This gave me some space to start phase 1 of the digging out, and I cleared in front of, behind, and next to the driver’s door of the car. Then, when the kid come home later, he suggested that we clear off the snow on the car. Of his own volition. So we did. Now all that left is the snow pack three feet wide and 1 foot high between the car and the road. But I’m looking at above 35 degree highs for the next week, so ha on you, Winter!

In the meantime, I learned that the worst that happens is people just move your space saver and take your shoveled out place. The city may also come by in the night and take the space savers because they technically aren’t allowed. That’s unconfirmed, but yeah, and naming snow storms isn’t supposed to be allowed either. People do it anyway. What? No nasty notes? No flat tires. How the heck am I supposed to blog with all this civility?

Oh, I guess I just did. Just 53 more days until spring!

Top 6 Posts of 2017

Well, kids, looks like we made it through year 1 of the Cheeto flea, and that alone is worth celebrating. But even better would be to forget about him altogether. As you run the highlight reel of the past year in your mind, acknowledge the not-so-great stuff, but give priority to the good things — the people, places, and events that gave you a lift. I’m reminding myself as much as you on this one. I think of myself as a positive person, but I’ve been noticing that I can get focused on the one bad thing sitting amongst all the good stuff. So I’m going to try to keep an eye on that in 2018. I’m also feeling like my tank is empty, and, yes, I had a big year (as the posts below will attest), but most of the big things are past, so I also wonder if it’s real or a habit? I will keep an eye on that, too.

But for now, it’s time to look back a bit, take a deep breath, and head out to 2018.

6. The big news of the year was getting the kid launched, and it was official with this post. In the process, there were highs, lows, lots of wine, and a few moments of full-blown panic. But the deed got done with Mission Accomplished.

5. I reread this one, and thought, damn, that’s good! I’ve been feeling less than inspired lately to write. In keeping with my positive theme, I’m going to recall the words of a painter friend many years ago, when I was hit with my first case of writer’s block. I had just finished a bunch of essays and thought, now I’m ready for the next thing. But I wasn’t. The faucet had nary a trickle. He told me not to worry — I was merely filling up again. So, I’m going with that. Don’t know how long the filling will take, so be prepared for reruns if you’re a long time reader and for cool old stuff if you’re new. In any event, this piece reminded me that, yeah, I still have some writing mojo. Happy Anniversary.

4. That this one is in the top 6 makes me laugh. I thought it was just me, but apparently this was something a lot of people could relate to. For the love, Leave the Curtain Rods.

3. Because I have memory issues, er, I mean, I live in the moment like Eckhart Tolle. I’m a super advanced human, I swear. Anywho, I thought this one was about Cheeto flea, but it was more subtle than that. Either way, it never hurts to remember It’s a Marathon not a Sprint.

2. I just reread this one, and it reminded me I have a blog to finish about bystander intervention. Also, it reminded me that Life moved with me to my new apartment and is still sitting in my chair, giving me the look, and motioning me to get her another drink. Happy new year, bee-atch! Dammit!

1. Oh, Celine. I hope where ever you are, you have all the happiness you deserved when you walked among us. Goodbye My Friend.

So there it is, friends. I wish you all you healthy, hopeful new year. We can totally do this. We always do.