Happy TGIF! Today’s excerpt from Oscars
Tail Tale is about celebrating change. And while there are no horses in this chapter, I think it is still fitting to also dedicate this chapter in celebration of the Chinese New Year–2014 The Year of the Horse. Enjoy!
Chapter 5—Life Five: Country Cat
At first I wasn’t too sure about Brown Grandma and Grandpa. They seemed to yell a lot. There were at least two or three TV’s on at any time which were also really loud! They lived in this gigantic house where just about everything was brown. I soon realized that Brown Grandma and Grandpa were just loud people—Mommy called them “deaf”. I am not sure what that means but I think it might have something to do with yelling and being nice at the same time. Brown Grandma was a lot like Mommy (except she really liked the colour brown). She fed me and she was really good at opening and closing doors for me. Her kitchen always smelled so yummy. I liked hanging out in the kitchen—it smelled so good!
To my relief, Grandpa wasn’t at all like the Bald Man. He seemed to talk more and his belly didn’t jiggle when he laughed. When he wasn’t watching one of his loud TVs, he was fixing his car, or his yellow tractor. He was very kind to me. Almost instantly he started saying things like “you are a good pal”. This made me feel very welcome and at home. He kind of reminded me of my boys. Of course he was much older and he didn’t have red hair any more, but he laughed at me, and talked to me the same way my boys did. I grew to love Grandpa very very much. I sat on his lap, his shiny new car, his favourite chair–you name it I was there. Grandpa and I were inseparable!
My life at Brown Grandma and Grandpa’s was almost perfect. I had everything a cat could ask for plus a couple of things a cat would never ask for! I had to share Grandpa with two other cats and one very silly puppy with pointy ears! Grandpa really loved that silly puppy. He called her Mitzie. Mitzie was so silly that she actually believed she was a cat. It took me many months to convince her otherwise. Once she accepted she wasn’t a cat but just a slobbery dog with pointy ears we started to get along better. After all, who could blame her for wanting to be a cat?
But like I was saying, Mitzie was the least of my worries. My biggest problem was living with Monty and Cleo–those two other cats. They were both older than me and they thought they knew everything! Monty was Brown Grandma’s cat and she had him ever since he was a kitten. He was the boss and he insisted everybody listen to him. No one really argued with him, not even Mitzie. Monty looked and acted just like a lion and I guess he had this “king of the jungle” complex. He was the oldest pet of the household and he took his job as Head-Pet very seriously. Every morning he would “inspect the troops” which meant, in human terms he would make sure our bums were clean, and he would salute his troops with a whisker-pass. Mitzie and Cleo really enjoyed this ritual, and normally passed with flying colours. Unfortunately a feline of impressive girth such as myself, did have a slight difficulty keeping my bum according to Monty’s military standards. One particularly embarrassing time, Monty ‘punished’ my failed inspection. I don’t want to get into the details, suffice to say Mitzie was involved in the ‘clean up efforts’.
From that time on, keeping clean was my top priority. Sometimes I worked so hard at cleaning myself, I would fall asleep mid-cleaning. After awhile, keeping up to Monty’s standard became second nature to me. It was then I realized that aside from the morning inspections, Monty was a pretty good guy as far as Head-Pets go. He wasn’t mean, and he never hurt anyone with his sharp claws. For the most part, he could care less what I did so long as I stayed out of his way, and I liked that.
Cleo, on the other hand, did not like me at all! Cleo was a pretty, and fuzzy little cat who looked like she was still a kitten. Anyone who saw her thought she was the cutest cat they ever saw. Let me tell you this went straight to her head! She was no cute little kitten. She was just as mean as some of those cats in the shelter! She called me names like Felix did. She never ever shared her kitty treats and she always hissed at me when I walked by. Sometimes when Grandpa was busy taking Mitzie for a walk, I would chase Cleo around the house. She was a little pudgy and I figured the work out would do her some good. Besides, without Grandpa around I was just a little bored, and chasing Cleo helped to pass the time.
I found out from Monty that Cleo belonged to Mommy’s sister. The Little Boys With Red Hair called her Auntie. Auntie spent most of her time at school, so I hardly ever saw her. When she was home she was busy doing something called homework. Sometimes Monty or Cleo would sneak into her room and help her with her homework. Monty would help by sitting on her books, or by walking all over her papers. Cleo would not help so much as just keep Auntie company while she did this homework. Cleo would curl up into a fuzzy little ball on Auntie’s lap and fall asleep. One day that mean Cleo tattled on me. She told Auntie all about how I chased her, and how I scratched her. This made Auntie mad. She said I was being a “bully” and that I must have learned how to be a bully from the Bald Man. Her words stopped me cold. I did not want to be similar to the Bald Man in any way! I didn’t know Auntie too well but I respected what she said. She was kind and gentle like Mommy, and she talked to cats just like Grandpa did. I didn’t like getting Auntie mad because disappointing her made me feel really rotten about myself! From then on, I did my best to give Cleo space, and Cleo graciously returned the favour.
The country was different than the city where Mommy and my boys lived. It must have been kind of far away because I only saw my boys once or twice a month. We missed each other a lot at first, but I soon found so many new and wonderful things to do and that kept me busy between our visits! I loved playing outside in the country even better than in the city! There were so many places to explore! That was the one thing that Mitzie, Monty, Cleo and I all had in common—we loved to play outside in the summer. Mitzie—that stupid dog—would follow Grandpa around ALL day. She usually carried a big long stick or tree branch with her. She figured Grandpa had nothing better to do than throw the stick for her. She would bark and bark at him until he threw the stick. He never complained—he would just scratch her on the head and carry on with his chores.
Brown Grandma had this huge garden where she would go and play everyday. Brown Grandma loved her garden for two reasons, there were all kinds of different vegetables and flowers to tend to, and there were lots of crows to play with. Brown Grandma just loved teaching crows how to fetch rocks. She even bought a slingshot so she could fire those rocks closer to the crows high up in the trees. Eventually, the crows got so good at fetching rocks that they got bored and needed a new challenge. So Brown Grandma bought a pellet gun with a telescopic sight, and she proceeded to teach those crows how to fetch pellets.
As for Monty, Cleo and I, we loved to be outside. Monty would often sit on the roof of the house and stand watch over his kingdom. Sometimes he would join Brown Grandma and Auntie in the garden. He really loved Auntie, and would help her by chasing the mean toad out of the strawberry patch long enough for Auntie to pick berries. Sometimes Cleo would help Auntie and Brown Grandma, but other times Cleo would go and visit the Magpie nest at the very top of the poplar tree. I don’t think the magpies were too impressed by her climbing abilities, but I sure was! I could never climb that high without getting stuck, but Cleo always managed to climb down just as nimbly as she climbed up. Sometimes when she was way up high she would call me names, and dare me to climb up the tree. Then, she would laugh at me as I tried to climb the tree—stupid breaking branches!
As you might imagine, I preferred ground pursuits. I especially loved hiding out underneath the bracken of the grapes. Sometimes I would fall asleep there and Brown Grandma would wake me up when she watered her grapes.