The first, the calico girl admiring the fishies, was taken almost twenty-five years ago. It's Stanzi Marie Pussycat, who was a retiring lady, as torties often are. When I got her from the Humane Society, the gal at the desk replied wearily --I'd asked if Stanzi was pregnant--"They're all pregnant." Fortunately for us, she wasn't. I gave her Mozart's Wife's sweet nickname, the same bestowed by her "Little Husband." She spent a lot of time rolling around on the floor next to me while I wrote, chirruping: "Please get down and pet me, Mom!" while I was concentrating--or attempting to.
"Mrs. Washington has a mottled orange tomcat, who she calls, in a complimentary way, Hamilton..." (Such an elegant diss for the rebel general's favorite aide de camp from the Tory newspapers!) This Hammie usually slept on my head, but like the original Hamilton, he was a charming, gay (tho secretly tender-hearted) fellow. He arrived via a free paper ad, where a young woman simply posted: "Help me. I have thirty-eight cats."
Hammie was the one who climbed into my lap when I sat on the ground to admire the furry gang gathering around. I patted him, and he purred. Then he bit me, really hard, in the arm, and ran away--just a few feet--to anxiously study me. The rescuer observed, "He doesn't mean it." I knew he didn't, so I took him home. He performed his keyboard blocking, head butting, standing on the keyboard, drinking out of my water glass cat duties for Mozart's Wife, A Master Passion, Angel's Flight and Genesee.
Here is another Revolutionary War period cat, Major General Schuyler, or "Sky-Sky." A scrawny fellow, he reached out to my husband and me through the bars, meowing "take me home!" His tail had been broken in multiple places, so that it felt, when you ran your fingers over it, "like fifteen miles o' bad road" as a friend's truck driver husband so aptly put it. He had a fondness for doughnuts, which, as you can see, eventually caught up with him. It was a taste he'd probably picked up on the streets of a nearby dead steel town, his place of origin. Some kind person, knowing he was a good boy, had brought him into the shelter, hoping he'd find a home. You can tell from his name that my string of American Revolutionary War novels was still in progress. He was a good "Dutchman," fastidious about his appearance; his white fur always shone.
Next up, Elizabeth (Miss Betsy Schuyler--naturally!). She was dropped off in a pet shop, whose owner was a friend. Deb called me to say--through tears--that the women who'd left her behind had said, magisterially, "Here! You take her! Cats smother babies!" Then she'd walked out the door, leaving Lizzie behind, bewildered atop the counter. As you can see, Elizabeth was always super helpful when I was creating. I soon learned to type while balancing her 8 lbs. atop my forearms...
Here's the Sainted Tycho, who came from our local PAWS. I had been cleaning cages at the Petsmart every Friday night for a year when I met him, one among an entire litter of black kittens who'd been rescued at a gun club. When I opened the cage door and allowed the babies to come tumbling out to romp in the narrow space we were allotted, this little boy, instead of chasing his playful siblings, climbed onto my shoulder, leaned against my head and began a heartfelt purr--it was love at first sight. He didn't live long, but for a few precious years, he was a fragment of the Divine, briefly embodied in a black cat. His companionship helped me to survive a crash and burn health crisis.
This is cat is not one of mine. I met him at the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, where he was greeting visitors to Major General Schuyler's stylish Georgian Home, making fellow 18th Century/Rev War author Kathy Fischer-Brown and I feel welcome as we approached the lovely old place. He's another dapper iteration of the Hamiltonian orange tom cat gene. Delightful serendipity!
"TES" or "Translucent Ear Syndrome" (Bon mot courtesy of author K.A .Corlett.)
Soft kitties, warm kitties...
Same couch, different year, Caturday. (I was skinnier, too!)
And last, here's Willeford, the Waldrons' most recent rescue. He's a semi-disabled elder, and our latest fur friend, named by the shelter. The name's now morphing into "Sweet William,"or "Will-Yum. He just finished biting me up and down one arm and swatting me for good measure a bunch of times because he was cross that I would not let him lie on the keyboard while I was typing this. Clearly, Will-Yum will be another capable writing "assistant." Maybe he'll help me finish Green Magic, or Moonshine's Bride...
(Believe it or not--that's not all the cats we've loved.)