Kage Baker often claimed she hated cats.
It made some people look at her askance. (Cats are religion with some folks.) I would hastily explain she was allergic, and had actually known some cats she liked, and yadda yadda yadda …
And Kage was say, gleefully, with eyes alight and a mad grin, “Nope. I hate ’em. Hate, hate, hate.” Looking down at a friend’s or sister’s cat: “Especially you. Aroint ye, or I’ll spurn you with my mailed foot.” *
This made for some awkward conversational silences, sometimes, until people got to know Kage well enough to realize that – for all her comments – she talked to animals as if they were humans and would never have injured one. And, since she really did not like most of them, that was very odd … but then, she didn’t really like most humans much, either.
Anyway, about the hating cats part – I like cats. I really do. Until I moved in with Kimberly, though, I had lived for 25+ years without one, so I guess I’d forgotten some of their habits. Also, touch technology has come to many of my electronics in that quarter century – and you know what? While a parrot’s beak is too hard, cool and inert to activate most touch screens, any portion at all of a cat works just dandy.
The little black cat occasionally butt-dials email, and has been known to hold down keys to watch the cursor go nuts on the computer screen. And she really wants to lick my Kindle’s leather cover. Otherwise, though, she co-exists peacefully with my electronic pets. But the elder cat …
CatMadam is a gorgeous silver tabby. She is at least 12, and time has worn her down to exquisite bone structure under fur like watered silk. She has enormous, beryl-green eyes and a sweet mew. She also has the hauteur of an Oriental Queen, and simply ignores anything she doesn’t like: she is 6 pounds of indifferent, self-centered beauty.
She is, however, rather fond of me. Not like my velvet buddy, the little black cat – CatMadam regards me as some sort of ear-stroking utility; I, and all my possessions, exist to amuse, comfort and accommodate her. Carefully lifted down from where she is sitting in the exact middle of my desk, obscuring the computer and staring at me, she will leap back up – over and over and over. Gently gathered up from my chair and deposited in a basket of laundry, she’ll be back in my chair before I quite turn around. She neither bites nor scratches (too regal) but simply persists in whatever she wants with absolutely no regard for anything or anyone else.
Yestreday, she decided to sleep on my keyboard. This is no little kitten demurely sitting down, 4 ounces of fluff pleading for skritches – no, CatMadam just stalks up and casts herself down across the keys like a landslide. Her goal is to press as many keys as possible. Whatever cunning evil she performed yestreday shut down my computer, in such a way that it froze halfway through shutdown, had to endure a hard shutdown instead, insisted on re-activating in traumatized safe mode, and required half an hour of re-setting and repairing before it would run again.
During this, CatMadam somehow caused my blog to disappear.
Also during this – while I was consoling myself during a Registry clean-up by reading a new R. Scott Bakker novel – CatMadam strolled over from the Government in Exile on my printer, and cast herself full-length across the Kindle screen. The icons went sliding under her paws, the active book blinked shut, and the screen froze in a hazy freeze-frame of the home page. It took me another 20 minutes to restore the Kindle – I finally had to download the activation software again.
When I got my beloved Kindle back to normal and checked on my desktop, WordPress was refusing my passwords. Which it continued to do until a night-long cleanup and compression was completed. Consequently, I never posted anything yestreday.
Also, I have now been turned into one of those ladies who talks about her cats …
So, this is an explanation of why my Lord Howes Island post has been delayed, why there was no word from me for most of last evening, and why I am remembering with genuine nostalgia the fearless way Kage would stare back at some feline interloper and say, “Hello, cat. I hate you. Don’t even think about jumping on this desk.”
And they obeyed her. Sigh …
*This is an Edward Eager joke. I think, by now, no one alive still understands it except Kimberly.
Although I am not conversant with your particular “aroint” reference, “aroint thee, runion,” is my standard epithet of choice for the cats whenever they get all territorial on my stuff or me. They don’t listen, either. It leads me to believe that “aroint” fell out of favor because it actually isn’t very effective.
Athene – well, it obviously has no effect cats. Which is apparently what it is used for in these modern times. How fascinating!
Edward Eager was one of our favourite writers when we were children – that line is a reference to one of his books where a nasty Knight does that.
I remember that qulte! I don’t remember which of the EE books it’s from because I read as many as I could find, but yes, it was a very nasty Knight (at least for a child’s book of the what, 1930s, 1940s?). How funny we were reading anhd loving the same books in both halves of California.
And I as well! I read all of Edward Eager several times over. They were pretty silly, ad unlike some of the kids books of my youth, I find I can’t finish one any more, but I think of them fondly!
It’s from “Knight’s Castle” – one of the kids gets spurned by a mailed foot (yes, attached to a very nasty Knight – Brian de Bois-Guilbert, I think) , and lies there thinking in amazement, “I’ve been spurned by a mailed foot!” Which always cracked us up and we never forgot it. There are lines from Eager books that have been part of our family routines for 40 years – Kage and I traded them back and forth, and Kim and I still do! How wonderful to find out some of you were reading them too!
This feline interference in textual activities has been a pandemic, it seems. Thusfar my documents have survived.
BTW, Kage once pronounced our late pal Buster ” . . . a handsome marmelade gentleman,” if I recall correctly. Perhaps cats on-screen were preferable to cats-in-the-flesh-and-fur.
I think distance was preferable, yes. But Kage also liked marmalade toms very much – they tend to be handsome and calm.