R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: Cats (page 2 of 4)

Caturday: 11/26/16

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You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
— Octavia E. Butler

“Why Aren’t You Writing?” (#1 in a series)
Model: Clark
LaGrange, Georgia – 15 October 2016

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 11/19/16

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I suppose half of writing is overcoming the revulsion you feel when you sit down to it.

— Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being

“Cat, Chair, Linoleum” (#Caturday model: Hook, aka Davy)

LaGrange, Georgia – 9 May 2014

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 11/12/16

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My major problem is finding the next word.
— Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being

“My Writing Companion”
#Caturday model: Clark
LaGrange, Georgia – 24 October 2016

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 11/5/16

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If you have Voices you’d better listen to them and let the form take care of itself.
— Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being

“The Face of Mayhem”
Model: Nooz (aka Tennessee)
LaGrange, Georgia – 26 September 2014

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 10/31/16

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“Miller, My Good-Luck Charm”
LaGrange, Georgia – 7 September 2016

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

A Tail for a Halloween Caturday

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NOTE: This is an updated re-post of the piece I published on 31 October 2015.

My house was built in 1915 as one of many in the Hillside “mill village.” While I’ve called this house home since 1999, many other people have lived here over the last century. Some have never left.

In 2013, my family and I began remodeling what is now my den/home office. We removed the faux Queen Anne-style “wood beams” from the ceiling, gave the smoke-stained paneling half a dozen coats of fresh paint, and pulled up the mildewed 1970s carpet and the 1950s particleboard beneath it. We were sad to discover that, probably in the 1930s, the original red oak floor had been covered with 9” linoleum squares (a common size for that time).

But at least we were making that room more pleasant to be in. I’d wanted to return the Happy Kitten Cottage to as close to its original layout and function as possible. At last, the house was getting there a little at a time.

That’s when the smell showed up.

A week or so after we’d finished, I noticed the strong smell of butter in the den—and only in there. It smelled as if someone were melting three or four sticks of butter for a day of baking, or even for a huge batch of popcorn. A very comforting scent, for sure. It would linger for several hours, then go away, and then return a day or two later. The problem: I was not cooking anything.

It occurred to me that my neighbor makes her legendary cornbread with a whole stick of butter, rather than oil or shortening. But the delicious smell happened while Ernestine (not her real name) was at work, or at church, or out fishing on Saturday morning. Add to this the fact that her kitchen, on the north side of her house, is at least 80 feet from my den, which is on the south side of my house, and—well. That’s just creepy.

I mentioned the butter smell to Mom. She and my stepfather had spent several days tearing out the den floor while I was out of town. “Haven’t smelled any butter,” she said, “but the whole time we were working in the den, I felt like somebody was watching us. Someone was there with us. Not the cats—that’s different. A person.”

She added that the presence didn’t feel hostile. “It felt happy, like it was excited to see us taking out the nasty carpet and particleboard and cleaning up the linoleum floor.” Mom also reminded me that, in the house’s original four-room layout, the room next to the den was the kitchen. “Maybe it’s happy that the house is back like it remembers. Maybe it’s glad to see us—you know, welcoming us with something good to eat. Old-school Southern hospitality.”

Since then, I’ve smelled the strong butter smell every few months for a few days in a row. It doesn’t bother me. I look forward to it, and smile when I catch a whiff of it now and then. But there are other strange happenings. Tools too heavy and bulky for the cats to pick up somehow migrate from the toolbox in the old kitchen to other parts of the house. A box of drywall screws on an end table in the living room. A 22-ounce framing hammer set next to the bathroom sink. A 100-foot metal tape measure by the front door. A plastic case full of drill bits in the middle of the cooktop.

One day last October, I had a doctor’s appointment and several errands to run. While I was away, I left Hank, then my sweet, sickly new kitten, out to roam the house. At that point, he had been here only three days. But the bigger cats already enjoyed playing with him, and were amazingly gentle with this little fellow who’s not even one-eighth their size.

When I left home, Hank was in the den, purring and snuggled up in a sunbeam by the hearth. When I returned a couple hours later, he was sitting in almost the same place—but inside this wire basket. Funny, because when I departed, that wire basket sat eight feet away. On the other side of the room.

So the ghosts in my house are happy to see these familiar, sensible changes in my (our?) home. They encourage remodeling. And they love little Hank. You can’t get much more Halloween Caturday than that.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 10/22/16

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“Caturday Gray”
LaGrange, Georgia – 15 August 2016
Model: Zora

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

A Year of Hank

One year ago today, in the small hours of the morning, I stepped onto my front porch to call my cat Clark indoors. He didn’t come right to me, so I called for him again: “Kitty-kitty-kitty! Come on, it’s time to go to bed. Kitty-kitty!”

That’s when I heard a loud, scratchy, frantic meow from the dark front yard. Again and again, MEEEEOOOOOWWWWW! My first thought was that it was Clark. Maybe he was hurt, stuck under the car, and yowling to get my attention. But just then, Clark came running up the steps. He gave me his usual tiny meow, sat down, and turned his head toward the yard.

I got a flashlight just in time to see a bony gray kitten struggling up my front steps with what was probably the last of his strength. MEEOOOOWWW! MEEOOOWWW! MEEOOOOWWW! He stumbled across the porch, turning one way and then another. The poor thing was so weak that he could hardly walk or tell where he was going.

So I picked him up with one hand, put him inside my housecoat, and brought him indoors. You know, the usual operating procedure when I find a stray kitten on my porch.

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That night was pretty miserable for both of us. Oh, the big cats hissed a little, but that was all. Once I got a pet carrier set up for him—with some dry food, a dish of water, and an old towel to sleep on—the other cats mostly just sniffed at this unexpected guest, then walked away. Whew. I closed the carrier door, climbed into my own bed, and turned out the light.

Then the raspy meowing started again.  MEEOOOOWWW! MEEOOOWWW! MEEOOOOWWW!

“What’s the matter, kitty?” I climbed back out of bed to check on him. As soon as I opened his cage, I saw he was shaking so hard that he was nearly vibrating. He hadn’t eaten much, but he’d already drank almost three-quarters of a cup of water. The poor little thing was incredibly dehydrated, and had no body fat to speak of to keep him warm.

“Little cat,” I said, “we have both got to get some sleep. I’ll call the vet in the morning.”

I put him inside my robe. Between my flannel pajama top and the polyester fleece robe, he was finally warm. How he managed such a loud diesel purr while being so small, I never will know. For the rest of the night, every 90 minutes or so, I awoke to the sound of lonely, frantic meows. After a bite or two of food and another long drink of water, the kitten calmed down, and snuggled up next to me once again.

The next afternoon, my veterinarian examined the kitten. “Good thing he found your house when he did,” Doc told me. “Without your help, he might’ve had a couple, three days left to live.”

“Do you think someone just tossed him out at my house?” I asked Doc.

My vet shook his head. “To get in this bad a shape, he’s been on his own a while.”

Doc gave him one pill for the worms in his gut, and another to take care of the ear mites and fleas trying to eat him alive. I’d have to wait to find out whether he had FIV, FeLP, or any other deadly feline virus—at eight weeks old and just 1.1 pounds, the kitten was so skinny that the vet techs couldn’t draw a blood sample.

“Got a name for him?” Doc asked.

“Hank,” I said. “For Hank Williams, Sr.”

Doc laughed. “The name fits. Just keep this little guy away from your liquor cabinet.”

The next few months saw Hank endure one medical crisis after another. Gastrointestinal issues, upper respiratory infections, abscesses, salivary gland problems—he’s been through a lot in his first year. Add not feeling good most of the time to his feral, no-humans early months, and you see why he’s extremely shy, even with me. Oh, he’ll come out for Grandmommy and Paw-Paw if they bring Waffle House bacon. The rest of the time, though, he runs from people.

Well, no. He does have one friendliness window. Every day, somewhere between 2:00pm and 6:30pm, I hear MEEEEERT!—raspy and worn out and impatient—from the floor under my chair. I stop writing and look down. There’s Hank, making figure-eights around the chair legs and my ankles, purring and arching his back in “Time to pet me” mode. I put him in my lap, and for about 15 minutes, he purrs at top volume, drooling happily all over my shirt sleeve as I scratch his ears and chin. Then he jumps down and is touch-me-not for the next 24 hours. Every day, without fail.

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He’s grown into a beautiful cat. (Yes, he really does have eyes; he just squints a lot.) His frame is on the small side; he should weigh about eight pounds, but currently weighs 12 pounds. I guess he still hasn’t quite absorbed the words I sang when he was small, when I sat him on top of my guitar and made up my own version of his namesake’s “Move It On Over'”:

I heard him meow at my front door
This little kitty won’t starve no more
Move it on over
Move it on over
Move over, big kitties, the little cat’s movin’ in

So what if Hank still “doesn’t know how to cat?” He’s not starving any more. He’s off the street, never again to face the dangers of being a feral cat. He’s got a warm place to sleep, and treatment for his various ailments. And, despite his rough kittenhood, he’s doing pretty well. As I type this, he’s passed out asleep next to the food bowl, belly in the air and one paw covering his eyes. Hey, progress is progress. At least he’s not hiding in the wall of the spare bedroom, like he used to.

He’s my goofy, sweet rescue boy. I’m forever grateful that Hank found his way to my house one year ago today, before it was too late. And I’m forever grateful to be his forever person.

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 10/15/16

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“The Eastern Gray-Striped Possum-Tailed Butterball, in Its Natural Laundry Basket Habitat”
Model: Buddy
LaGrange, Georgia – June 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Caturday: 10/8/16

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“Orange You Glad It’s Caturday?”
Model: Fly (full name Anthony Francis Xavier Superfly Knoppe)
Denver, Colorado – 3 August 2014

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Three Ears in the Window

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LaGrange, Georgia – 17 May 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

From Nooz, Our HR Director

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Happy Caturday, Remote Staff:

Tennessee “Nooz” Williams, here.

If you follow R.S. Williams’ social media feed, you’ve seen my photo in many Caturday features. Why, yes: I am part-Siamese, thank you. And yes, I am beautiful.

What you may not know, however, is that I’m also Human Resources Director here at the Happy Kitten Cottage. As HR Director, my duties include informing employees when they’re not meeting expectations, and working with them to improve their performance through a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). And boy, have I got a doozie of an employee for you today.

This employee is so awful that I’m breaking confidentiality rules and making this HR complaint public. Pep talks, sabbaticals, extra time on projects, second and third and 47th chances, dire PIPs—nothing I’ve done has helped. I’m hoping that my broadcasting this complaint to the world will at least shame her into improving. Bastet knows nothing else has.

My hope is that she’s not irredeemable. When she’s on point, her contributions to the team are invaluable. When she’s skewing off course, well, that’s when things get complicated.

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Date of filing the HR complaint form: 20 September 2016
HR Complaint Form Number: 2016-073-10-00
Full name of the person filing the complaint: Tennessee “Nooz” Williams
Signature of the person filing the complaint: see scanned form
Proof of Identification: on file
Date of birth: on file

Employee status of the person in the organization/institute: Human Resources Director
Nature of the complaint made: Professional
Name of the person against whom the complaint is made: R.S. Williams, VP Creative Operations

The main points of the allegation:

  1. Lack of work production noticed over the past three months. Employee’s time appears to be spent mostly with dogs (!), surfing Pinterest, or playing guitar. When questioned about these actions, employee states that this is the only way she can “get to the Ryman.”
  2. Employee behavior has become more eccentric. Empty bottles of Belle Meade bourbon have been found scattered around employee’s work space, and employee appears to be impaired during work hours. When questioned about wearing a tank top with a chintz robe and diamonds, employee replied, “I woke up like this.”

The effect on the person filing the complaint:

  • Staff is awakened at all hours of the day and night with employee’s behavior. Lack of creative work produced directly decreases revenue and increases catnip use among staff.

Any other relevant information:

  • Employee has received paints and canvases from sister company in Colorado and has not yet experimented with them.

Signature of the authority with official seal: see scanned form

At this point, I can’t say whether I’m going to fire R.S. Williams. Yeah, she’s doing a crappy job of writing and taking photos these days, but she’s also my, uh, Mama. She took me in four years ago, when some neighborhood kids brought me to her door. I was just eight weeks old, bony, and surviving on squished birds I found in the middle of Clark Street.

And even if she’s not making as much art as I think she should be—and she should be—she’s still the one who scoops my litter box and puts food in my bowl. I tell ya, it’s hell being the head of HR in this place. You get to know your employees, and you grow to love them, and then you feel awful for thinking about firing them when they might really, really need it.

Anyhow, if you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to contribute to Happy Kitten Cottage upkeep, please visit R.S.’s PayPal link. Be sure to include a note telling her to sober up, put down that guitar, coordinate her damn outfit for once, and get to churning out the good stuff.

Thanks for reading, everybody. Hope your Caturday is a great one.

Cordially,
Tennessee “Nooz” Williams

P.S. If you go to the PayPal link and include a note with your contribution, DO NOT tell her I sent you. She’ll know something’s up, for sure, and then I’ll have to put her on another PIP.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

NOTE: HR report template from Sample Forms

 

This May Not End Well

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Featured: Smokey (in chair) and Martha Ann
LaGrange, Georgia – 2 June 2009

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Joy, to the World

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NOTE: This is a slightly edited re-post from 12 May 2015.

On a hard-freezing December night nearly seventeen years ago, Paw-Paw, Grandmommy, and I rescued you from a drug dealer’s porch. Barely eight weeks old, flea-bitten, and bony, you still had a meow we could hear a hundred yards away. That’s how we figured out where you were, and how badly those people had been treating you. I stuffed you into my winter coat as we ran to the car—whew. A clean getaway. The entire drive home, we enjoyed the 20-pound purr coming from your two-pound body.

You never did get much bigger than that. At your tubbiest, you weighed eight pounds. What you lacked in size, though, you made up for in attitude. For years, I thought the older cats were beating you up. Then, one summer afternoon, I walked into the den just in time to see you wa-babababababababa-BOWWWW!!! light up poor elderly Graya’s head, then fall over with a finesse that not even the 1989 Detroit Pistons—those masters of floppy Game 7 double-overtime fouls—could ever have imagined.

I know, I know: she was bogarting your ‘nip. Whatever, cat. I couldn’t help laughing as Graya finished what you had started. After that, though, you settled down and became everyone’s sweetheart.

When people came to visit us, you ended up their favorite cat. If someone made a lap, you were in it, purring and head-butting their hands, your huge green eyes convincing them to pet you non-stop for the next three hours. As Aunt Val says, “Joy sets the bar pretty high for lap kitties.” She’s right.

For most of your life, you slept right next to my head. The only time you’d leave your spot was around 3:42 a.m. That’s when you paced from kitchen to bedroom and back, again and again, all meow-meow-meow-Mama-look-what-I-hunted-and-killed-for-you. In your mouth, you’d have a toy mouse. Or a jingle ball. Or a Beanie Baby. Or a dirty sock. I was so sleepy, but you were so proud.

Today, I lay your rumpled, frail body on the exam table and thought of all this. Somehow, even as sick as you were, you turned your wobbly head in the direction of my sobs—though your eyes no longer worked, you could hear my sorrow. I wept anew thinking of all the times when, crying and out of options, I looked over and saw you next to me, one paw tapping my arm as if to ask, “What’s wrong? Can I help?” And, climbing into my lap and purring yourself into a tight gray-striped ball, you did help. Always, and without fail.

Thank you, sweet Joy, for being my companion for the last 15½ years. I miss you already. But, Bastet willing, one day I will see you again—on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

Love,
Mama

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Lusee, Our Fluffy Girl

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Lusee had the sweetest little face to match her fluffy five-pound body. Her personality, however, was not so sweet. Mom was the only person she liked. Everyone else could take a flying leap.

“Lusee’s a one-person kitty, that’s all,” Mom would say. “And she’s my kitty.”
No disagreement there.

This shot turned out unexpectedly well. Lusee had been snoozing away Easter Sunday afternoon in the top compartment of the outdoor kitty condo when the click of the shutter awakened her. She stared at me for a little while, acted as if she wanted me to pet her, and then lay back down in her cabana after calling for the pool boy to fetch her another daiquiri.

Lusee showed up at Mom’s house around Thanksgiving  12 years ago, half-starved and dirty. Mom brought her indoors and cleaned her up. Steve, my stepdad, fell in love with the sassy, tiny, full-grown cat. Strangely, none of the other cats took exception to the interloper. Lusee blended perfectly into the family. Well, just as long as nobody gave her any trouble. She was small, yet also the enforcer among all my mother’s pets.

We think coyotes killed her late one night in 2013. All my stepfather found was a pile of white and calico fur in the middle of the front yard. He still can’t talk about it.

We miss Lusee every day.

Photo: “Lusee, Our Fluffy Girl” (Heard County, Georgia – 8 April 2012)

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Little Lola Comes Home

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Heard County, Georgia – 26 September 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 6/6/16

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“Emmylou, on Sentry Duty”
LaGrange, Georgia – June 2009

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 4/4/16

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“On the Porch with Cats”
LaGrange, Georgia – 11 June 2011

Cats pictured: Clark (foreground) and Smokey.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 3/21/16

Look, Mama! 6 April 2012

“Look, Mama!”
LaGrange, Georgia – 6 April 2012

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Fly, with Cat Tree and Painting

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My sister’s huge orange cat is named Superfly. We call him Fly. Behind him stands part of Fire & Rain II, Val’s 2001 painting.

Denver, Colorado – 10 November 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

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