Bad Catitude

There it was, the kitten enclosure at the animal shelter, filled with a dozen or two bouncing, squirming bundles of feline adorableness. I was ready.

My beloved elderly three-legged cat, Rugby, had succumbed to heart failure the previous month, right before my trip to England. Now I was back, primed for the only remedy for grieving over a lost cat – a kitten. This time (I’ve been through this many times) I was strongly influenced by my time spent across the pond. This time, like the Royal Family, I would acquire two kittens, an “heir and a spare,” and in honor of my English forbears, I already had the names picked out – Victoria and Albert. So I obviously needed a girl and a boy.

The choice was easy – they chose me. Albert was a pure gray guy with a peculiar spot (harmless, I was assured) on one eye, and Victoria a beautiful calico and white. Did I mind she had a crooked tail? Their little flaws made them all the more appealing.

Skinny V&A
So sweet, so little, so compatible.

Victoria and Albert lived together in perfect harmony for 6 years. After a year or so it became clear that they were even falling into the pattern of their royal namesakes. Albert grew into a lithe and muscular cat, active and curious but at the same time loving and craving human companionship. Victoria grew – well, she just grew.

Like Queen Victoria, her girth increased as did her haughty aloofness and she became a waddling rotund bundle of feline entitlement.

Vicky mouth
Yes, I AM the Queen!

Despite their differences, they got along swimmingly. They napped near each other, shared their food (although guess who tended to get a bit more than her share), chased their cat toys with delirious abandon when in the mood. They would wrestle playfully, such sessions invariably ending up with one grooming the other’s head and ears.

Until one night, in the deep dark hours, a month or so ago. My husband and I were rudely awakened by the sounds of a cat fight – the kind usually attributed to alley cats in mortal combat over a tasty morsel of food or an alluring lady cat. Only this one was right outside our bedroom door.

We opened the door to witness Victoria shrieking down the hall until she cornered Albert, at which point they came together like Godzilla vs Rodan, only with more appalling sounds. Caterwauling is aptly named – growling and screaming only a few of the sound effects.. Ears were back, fangs and very sharp claws were everywhere, fur was flying.

Cats fighting toon
No photo possible – too busy gaping in horror

At the end of the first skirmish, they moved downstairs to continue the war, one chasing the other until cornered, and then the mortal combat continued.

We eventually got them into separate rooms, where the sound effects continued but at least they couldn’t get at each other. We returned to an uneasy sleep.

Next morning the growling and howling recommenced, with a lot of circling like a couple of furry sumo wrestlers. (well, one of them looked like a sumo wrestler)

Vicky obese
Pleasingly plump, I believe is the term.

The active hostilities recommenced. It quickly became clear that Victoria was the aggressor, but Albert, when cornered,

Albert cornered
It may look like she’s winning, but…..

gave as good as he got, and most of the clumps of fur scattered about the house were white.

After trying everything in our rudimentary anti cat fight repertoire – water spray bottle, wrapping in large towels, speaking sternly (yeah, that was really effective) and the ultimate closing of doors to forestall further catastrophe, we actually called the vet. He has known us and all of our cats for years, and he was flummoxed. His only suggestion was tranquilizer collars (for them, not for me, which I thought might have been a better idea)

We got the collars, which emit pheromones and purport to have a calming effect on the wearers. Getting them on was predictably dicey; Albert enjoys human contact but only on his own terms, which emphatically did not include putting something around his neck.

Albert Fangs
You want to put what on me? I think not.

Victoria was slower, and we managed to get the stylish purple collar around her not unsubstantial neck, reasoning that calming one of them, especially the one who was being a b, might do.

The ensuing days saw at first a wary détente,

Devil Cat
Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry….

followed by peaceful coexistence and then, blissfully, back to normal. Victoria somehow managed to rid herself of the collar, yet they continued to get along as if their brief foray into Armageddon had never happened.

What had happened? Some people suggested it might have been the recent full moon, the ‘blood” moon. As a former teacher I know it affects kids (scientifically unproven, as is the sugar effect, but just ask any teacher) but it lasted too long. A cataclysm resulting from global warming? Why not? We blame everything else on it. But after a few more weeks of peace, we settled on the most logical answer.

I had been volunteering at the animal shelter for several weeks. The bad catitude erupted at this time. I stopped volunteering due to a cat bite that had become infected. The bad catitude diminished and finally disappeared. Our vet agreed that the residual smell of dozens of alien pussycats on my clothing had probably been too much for our coddled pair and had driven them over the edge. In the future I plan on finding an alternative way of volunteering, perhaps with small humans.

V&A Love
Ah, tranquility at last….

End of story? I spent an afternoon with a friend who has two St. Bernards and a cat. We hugged goodbye. At home, I sat at the kitchen table trying to do a crossword puzzle with Albert on my lap “helping” me. Around the corner slunk Victoria, ears back, growling, approaching my chair. Albert’s ears went back. He growled as his extended claws bit into my thigh.

“This is not going to end well,” thought I. And it didn’t.

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CrossFit – A Different Kind of Zone

My TV viewing has been has been much enhanced in the past several years by the presence of a DVR. By enhanced, I mean that I never, and I mean never, watch a TV program in real time, and commercials (sorry, advertising industry of America) serve only as a trigger to press that fast forward X3 button and let’s get back to the show, please.

But there are a few commercials that I allow to live, and even go back and rewatch several times whenever they appear. I love that talking Wall Street baby, and of course anything involving Clydesdales, especially with puppies, is an automatic rewind.


These guys always get my attention.

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"Hey!" ... "What?" ... "What Did You Say?"

Q: How is a dyslexic, insomniac CrossFitter like an insomniac NY stock trader?

A: They both lie awake at night worrying about the DOW.


Most people are familiar with the term “dyslexia,” – a term describing a person’s difficulty in learning to read. Those of us in the Ed Biz are also aware of the less common terms ”dyscalculia” and “dysgraphia,” descriptors of conditions making learning math and writing problematic.

I have recently discovered invented a new “dys” term which I shall call “dyscrossfitia.” It describes a condition in which mastering surviving CrossFit, always a challenging and demanding proposition to begin with, leads to a decided uptick in a person’s (i.e. – me) anxiety level prior to and sometimes during a session.

Nervous CFUWhat will the WOD be today? Can I do all of it? Can I do any of it? Can I survive?

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CrossFit for the Elderly: The Open, 14.4 and 14.5

My very favorite CrossFit exercise is rowing. Like many actions in CrossFit, I had had no prior experience with it, and diligently watched the videos my coach son Chris sent me before making my first attempt. I listened to the suggestions of Coach Tom and Coach Sean, stuck my tongue in the corner of my mouth in concentration mode, and commenced.

My new friend, the rower.

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CrossFit for the Elderly: The Open, 14.2 and 14.3

Thursday, March 6, 7:55 PM.  I am hopeful. Last week, contrary to what  I had innocently believed about the Open WODs beginning with something everyone could do before progressing to the hard core stuff, they led off with double unders.  The fact that I had managed to actually do a few did not absolve CrossFit Central from double crossing us non-elite folk with this double underhanded start.

Thursday, March 6, 8:05 PM.  14.2 is announced. Noooo – they have done it again! 10 overhead squats, followed by 10 chest to bar pullups, more to follow if one survived the first 3 minutes.  In CrossFit Central’s defense (grudgingly) this one was probably accessible for the average non-elite CrossFitter, but not for me. Yes, I was taking it very personally. Continue reading

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CrossFit for the Elderly: The Open, 14.1

I’ve been creaking through a year and a half of CrossFit now, sore and happy and hopefully a good deal more fit.  I participated in last year’s CrossFit Games Open and survived (just) so when the time to register for this year’s Open rolled around, I smugly decided it was time for me to proselytize and get some more people at CrossFit Ulster to sign up.

“it’s great!” says I.

“It’s fun,” says I.

“You get to compare yourself to people in your age group from all over the world,” says I, knowing that this probably means a lot more to my “mature” self than to my generally much younger compatriots at CrossFit Ulster. Continue reading

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The Elementary School Teacher’s Guide to Effective Parenting

Now that I have been retired from teaching in elementary school for some time, I believe it is now safe, er, incumbent upon me to share some of the wisdom I have gathered over the years.

Reading TeacherA retired teacher.  Note the smile and serenity.

Even the most experienced parents of elementary school children may find something new and inspiring herein. Read and learn.   Continue reading

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Speling is Gud

Last week, as I was grocery shopping in a large local chain supermarket, I encountered the following sign.

Pretzel Sign

I brought my shopping cart to an abrupt halt. I gaped. No, it wasn’t a sudden craving for pretzEls begging to be satisfied, but a nearly uncontrollable urge to whip out my trusty Sharpie and correct the not one but TWO egregious errors in the notice. Continue reading

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How A Bad Expedition Spawns A Tradition – Conclusion

One of the under-publicized advantages of being old is that people tend to ignore the fact that you repeat yourself when you speak. I’m not sure that forgiveness applies when you write, however, so I am faced with the dilemma of how to set the stage for the third part of a three-part series. My solution: a feeble attempt at teen type text talk: jan 1, 2000! – kayaking on frozen Hudson River!! – BAD MOVE!!! – stuck in stupid slabs!!!! – why me?!? – why friggin’ ice in the winter?? – who knew??? – what to do???? – HELP !!!! (Note: if this made no sense to you, then I’m not destined to text, and you should probably read the first two installments.) Continue reading

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How A Bad Expedition Spawns A Tradition – Part II

The trouble with telling long stories is that I sometimes forget where I was when I paused, and I start re-telling the same things all over again. Fortunately, as this is a multi-part blog post, I was able to read what was last written which should minimize the repetition. In my last post, I had been blithering about how, on Y2K Day (01/01/2000), I had decided to start the year century millennium off in grand style by kayaking on the Hudson River. In retrospect, I must admit that I had neither the experience nor the skills to contemplate such an outing, but perhaps I shouldn’t skip ahead. Instead, let me simply set forth my highly suspect thought processes at that time. Continue reading

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