121. Henry the Model Cat

Henry was whining to me the other day — You haven’t written about me for a long time, he said. You have thousands of pictures of me on your phone; don’t you think it’s about time I get another post of my own?

The last time, he just commandeered the laptop and wrote his own post,Henry watching videos so I thought I’d better do as he says. No surprise there — the world is full of pet owners doing what their animals demand.
Henry bugging Mr.H.C.

It took us two years to find another cat after our perfect Mr. Kitty died suddenly at early middle age — in his mid-forties, we would say. There’s not much like the sorrow of losing a pet; an animal, you tell yourself, it’s not like a person. Yet they’ve shared your house and your life for however many years and there’s surely a gaping hole where their funny little selves used to be.

Mr. Kitty had been such a good cat! And cats are such capricious beings — not all of them are people I can live with. I’ve known some awful cats in my time — they shall remain nameless. No, one has to be very careful when choosing a cat. No cat rescuer, moi. If I’m going to share my house, the animal best be well behaved.
Henry the model cat

Just as Mr. Kitty had done, Henry chose us. (I’ve written about him here and here and here.)
henryA wild cat who had three families feeding him, we are fairly sure that he had been chasing a woman and just got too far away from home to find his way back. Litter-trained from the beginning (he went in Mr. H.C.’s open suitcase on the floor!) he has now made the complete transition from wild tomcat to domesticated lap cat. He looks off the porch at the birds and the chipmunks and then comfortably comes back inside to eat from his food bowl; only in his distant animal memory does he remember being a hunter, cold and miserable in the snow, desperately searching for a warm place to sleep.
Kitty looking over back porch

Now he curls up stretches out on the bed and snores loudly — louder than Mr. H.C. even.

Henry lounging

Henry doesn’t know a stranger. If you sit down in a chair, he’ll be on your lap within five minutes, not even bothering with proper introductions.
Still life with husband and cat

When we leave him for three days, he is always delighted to see us when we return — no sulking or pouting for Henry. He jumps into your arms for some immediate loving. “Oh I’ve missed you,” he purrs.


He’s also likely to steal the iPhone and take a selfie.

Our son-in-law stayed here for a few days a couple of weeks ago, and his main charge was caring for the Henry while we were gone. When we returned, his comment was, “Henry is a model cat.”

Yes. We knew that. But Henry overheard, and since then has been overdoing his bad habit… He only has one.

He is an early riser. And he hasn’t figured out yet that we are no longer on Daylight Savings Time. This morning at 4:22 the scratching on the sliding glass door began. He wanted to go out.

It’s hard to ignore cat claws on glass.


He also hasn’t yet figured out that it is getting to be very cold — 28 degrees cold. At 4:25 the scratching began again. He wanted to come in.

It’s hard to ignore cat claws on glass.

Cat in window

He doesn’t leave dead things on the floor; he doesn’t walk on the kitchen counters (though I did catch him once on the dining room table); he won’t drink milk or eat fish from your plate; he doesn’t even say much.

Henry in sepia

He’s simply a model cat.

74. Starring Henry the Cat

Henry has been bored this past week, so he stole the camera, took over the laptop, and put some pictures of his cute little self on my blog. Bad cat, Henry!

Henry the cat in the truck

cat and computer

cat reading directions

Cat sleeping

Cat on bed

comatose cat

Cat and bell

cat waiting for food

cat looking in mirror

Cat sleeping on the porch swing

Catnapping under the sheets

cat and shadows

Henry would like to assure you that none of these photos were staged…
cat in black and white

26. Tying Up Loose Ends

There are a lot of loose ends lying around this blog and this post aims to tie some of them up into bows.
Back in July I posted eight kitschy items of Clara’s for readers to pick their favorites. The results are in, and except for the orange telephone, which was the clear favorite with eight votes, the rest of the results are inconclusive.  (There were  two suggestions to put it in the bathroom by the toilet!)

I don’t know…the bathroom was going to be the most elegant room in the cottage…

Does anyone know of a way to retrofit an old phone to be a cell phone? Wouldn’t it be cool if we could actually get it to work?
Five items tied with six votes each: The wooden butterflies, the owl switch plate, the orange metal shelf, the pantry sign, and the old California license plate.  I don’t see any recourse but to keep them all (which is what sister Diane told me to do anyway.)

The only item that no one liked — correction: it did get one vote — was the plaque with the dorky poem.
I hate to admit this because I know it is stupidly banal, but I like it. I didn’t at first. When I was taking down all the junk by the front door, it was supposed to be the first thing to go. But I couldn’t take it down; I like its sentiment and its sentimentality. Maybe it could go by the toilet too.

For six weeks now the cat, Henry, has been traveling back and forth with us. He has adapted to life in the city as a house cat fairly well. He has discovered the joys of playing with the bedspread fringe; tearing through the hall and sliding on the wood floor; canned cat food (he only gets this as a treat in Pittsburgh); and sitting on the stool looking out the window.
He has not adapted to the drive back and forth. He has now ridden up and back with us six times, which actually totals twelve different rides. Each time we think, ‘This is the time he’s going to remember’ and each time we are wrong.
He does seem to do better on the rides back to Pittsburgh, and tonight’s ride was the best yet. He actually curled up in my lap for ten minutes. Maybe he’s figured it out!
Yes, Charlotte was gone when we came back the next weekend. We both miss watching her and then feel a bit silly —
How can you miss a spider?
We are actually hoping we get to see all Charlotte’s children fly off in their parachutes this spring.
The Smell is Gone
Every time we opened the doors to the kitchen for the first time after the house had been closed up for a few days there was an unpleasant smell. Mustiness? Mildew? Cat pee? (Not Henry!) Mouse droppings? We couldn’t be sure. Oh, people were nice about it. Sisters said, “I don’t smell anything.” But we could smell something rotten in that kitchen… There were varying theories. Michael said it was the carpet. Carol said it was the cabinets. Michael said it was the floor. Carol said it was the walls. Etc.
Remember a few posts ago when I told you about taking down the wall cabinet and how delighted we were because it lightened up the kitchen so much?  Well we are doubly delighted because it has eliminated the smell!  No one is sure how or why, but we aren’t going to analyze it too much. We are just happy to stop using the Febreze!
Of course, part of the reason the smell may be disappearing is:
In addition to adding several new finish coats of paint, Michael also put up two lights. So, of course, there have to be some new pictures.

New painted ceiling and two of the four schoolhouse light fixtures. Notice the one by the door has a pull chain! Cool, huh? And very 40s!

Another reason the smell might be lessening is because I have been scrubbing the kitchen walls. They were covered with dried wallpaper paste (and who knows what else?) so in preparation for repairing them, I’ve been doing serious scrubbing. It is very much like work. But the color of the walls is kind of a nice mint green… I haven’t ruled out that color yet; I think it is very 40s too. Any thoughts?

I titled this photo “Lovely kitchen to be…”

If one squints the eyes, one can almost imagine that this corner of the kitchen is finished. Yes, this is the “after photo burnt into my brain.” The paint sample on the door is the current favorite — Benjamin Moore Lime Twist. And you can also see in this photo how nicely the old wooden top fits on the built-in cupboard. It looks like it was always there.

Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

The cabinet hardware was expensive and not easily put on. The holes didn’t match, so I had to drill new holes. Then once the new holes were drilled, the nuts weren’t long enough to go through the thick doors. It’s always something… I don’t have them all on yet, because, as Michael pointed out, we will have to take the doors back off to install the cabinets anyway, so…here’s the picture of a cabinet with finishings.

This is the cabinet that will go above the stove and have a fan installed underneath.

It is officially fall; the light is fading and there is less and less time to work. We’ve got some outside painting that has to get done to protect the wood, so kitchen work will stop for a couple of weeks, while we tend to the outside. Even though the light is fading, it is beautiful light. I read once that photographers like the light in spring and autumn the best, because the sun hits the earth at an angle and makes shadows. Here is proof: this picture was taken on the first official day of fall. These shadows lasted for about a minute and a half and I just happened to be on the porch.

Happy fall!