Chateau Xenia Catnip, 2022

Xenia takes her duties as Catnip Queen of New England seriously. In the photo, she exhibits the poise and dedication all professional nippers should show while testing the new year’s crop. It’s fresh from the greenhouse where the new vintage has been resting and curing after the Harvest.

The next step is to mix with some of the prior years’ vintages to moderate the impact, soften the earth tones, and add fruitier after-effects. Chateau Xenia designer nip is known for being superior to typical commercial nips. It is the quality purveyor of fine nips to many of the finest nip dens in the United States.

Despite flabbergasted humans and dogs, Chateau Xenia is exclusively for cats. Only serious inquiries, Please.

Spinning The Dog

A flashback Friday offering

When my dad died in 1974, my mother was at loose ends. We cleared out a spare room so that she could stay with us. She came with Coco, my father’s dog. Our cat Clancy (The Gray Menace) automatically disliked Coco. Their relationship developed a pattern; Gray Menace unsheathes claws, Coco reflexively yipped and bounced out of reach.
One day I came home early. Letting myself into the apartment, I heard regular yips from my mother’s room. Standing by the door, I watched the cat and dog engaged in an activity that appeared to have been practiced. Coco was spinning in place. Once in a great while, the cat gently reached out to swat the dog on the rump. The dog would yip, and the spinning would increase in speed. Every time Coco slowed down, the cat would reach out and swat the dog’s rump again. The spinning went on until they noticed me. When they did, there was a sort of embarrassed reaction, and they walked away. I felt as though I had invaded their privacy.
Coco was not the smartest poodle in the world. The Gray Menace, on the other hand, took great pride in manipulation. He’d been successfully managing my life since he was a scruffy kitten found on the streets of Ottawa. His mastery of Coco should not have been much of a surprise. But when my mother decided to return to Virginia, I’ll swear that the cat was sad.

Over the years, I thought nothing much of this anecdote except as a family story to tell my kids until a few months ago. I knew that our politicians loved to confuse and confound us. But they also like to spin us. Yes, we’ve always gotten spun. But, now there seems to be a sort of manic nature to the spinning. It’s used to distract us from what to needs to get done; like voting or taking reasoned stands on important issues. It encourages divisive behavior, mistrust, and hate. It’s in the disinformation toolkit along with gaslighting, and rumor-mongering.
The memory of the Gray Menace, reaching out and swatting, the dog yipping and spinning comes to mind. Are you dizzy yet?

How Things Work Around Here

OK, listen up! To be clear, it’s not convoluted. It’s been known to Carreras cats and dogs back to prehistoric times. Santa Clause delivers toys to humans. His cat Santa Claws distributes to cats, and Santa Paws ( the dog elf), provides for the dogs. I understand that somewhere way back, an expedition to the North Pole was launched to confirm all this. Trust me; I’m a cat, and we know these things.

It’s different for cats and dogs. Cats are supposed to be bratty, indifferent to their humans, and disdainful of the stuff in their food bowls. People expect snotty behavior from us. Dad would take me to the darned vet if I were all sweetness and light. It would be like Santa’s reindeer not eating lichen and demanding celery. Yuck!

Dogs, on the other paw, are expected to obey. Cats are partners with humans. You guys drank the Cool Aid. You behave or get old dried reindeer poop in your stocking. 

In your defense, I know you’re still a pup. You have to learn now. I get first dibs on bows and wrapping paper under the Tree. 

Cats rule, and dogs drool!


I worked so hard yesterday. Constantly sampling goodies to make sure they were of first quality. I was checking the whipped cream for the pie topping, the cream for the coffee, and of course, the turkey. So few realize the demands the holidays put on cats. Think of all the lost time in naps, the sacrifices made in all that eating.

Today is a day of rest; I’m thankful! Hmmmmmm…turkey scraps with dinner.


My little office also serves as a storage space, room for my small model railroad, and the Imperial Retreat. Her Imperial Majesty’s unique retreat is cleverly hidden behind some curtains for privacy. Enter unannounced, and she will scold you. However, if you begin working on the computer, she’ll offer her considerable editing skills to add extra spaces, punctuation, and carriage returns.

Since she dines in front of the windows, you will have to accommodate her needs to refresh the delicate consumables flowing from the kitchen. Between meals, the snack box will be raided for the best products provided by the chefs at Purina and other providers of quality goods for the discerning feline.

On occasion, there will be an incursion by a loutish canine. For example, this morning, H.I.M. trapped the foolish pup attempting to raid the snack box. Father had to come to rescue him when he heard the pitiful cries for mercy. She commanded that he be locked in one of the cells below until the miscreant learned that Lèse-majesté would not be tolerated! 

After he ran crying from the room, Xenia, the conquerer, decided to take a few moments of repose in front of the computer, watching Cat TV.

Birds are endlessly entertaining.

Toot of the Ages

Catnip. The toot of the ages. Drug of choice for all cats, little and great. Putting a few spoonfuls in a box transforms it into a playground that can occupy a cat for hours. Just no compromising photos, Please.

Want to see a cat croon, the kitty equivalent of a Gregorian chant on uppers? Nip in a box will do it.

Curious about where the swash came from in Swashbuckle? Leave a large paper bag with a bit of nip for an hour. You’ll see.

Are you interested in hearing the plaintive yowls of a cat having withdrawal symptoms? Take the nip away in mid-toot.

Cat nip, if it got humans high, it’d displace alcohol and most other recreational drugs. Think about a tooted teenager, high on nip, crashing the family car.

Imagine the three spoonful luncheon for the executive, who goes back to the office purring but incapable of work.

Worst of all, imagine the drunken nip parties of the celebrities, unable to stop at just one toke, falling asleep with their feet curled in the air. Snoring.

Be grateful that human science has not been able to transfer the “nip effect” to humans.

Cats have evolved an ability to tolerate large doses of the stuff. But, unfortunately, humans have not developed enough yet, perhaps in another hundred thousand years.


Xenia: I used to get accused of being brash. Well, I’ve malingered in that territory, but the terms that get used are more likely perverse instead of being called cheeky. The nerve!

Dad: Come on! As you got older, you found new outlets for some of your, shall we say, less kindly, takes on things. The way you discuss specific topics became trenchant; when asked if you prefer meringue topping or whipped cream, you look astonished and quoth ‘ Ice Cream please” in such a way that leaves no room for further opportunity to discuss it.

Xenia: My tastes have matured, and my perceptions tuned to a fine point. It’s apparent that I have the superior intellect!

Dad: Come on, Xenia! Let us know how you really feel about things!

Dream time

Since my hip operation, my sleep routine has been shattered and episodic. But it has also been filled with dreams. Last night I had an iteration of a familiar dream. I had time traveled in the dream and found myself back in grad school, shudder. I had to come up with a topic for my dissertation quickly. In the dream, I explore and profile alternate topics based on ideas I have already rejected. As the dream proceeds, I somehow transit from grad school to my workshop, and I am at my bench with carving tools, ready to start carving. The difference is that I am now trying to choose the next ship I will carve.

This one woke me up. Grad school dreams usually do. But, this dream ended with a furry presence, Xenia, my cat, attempting to wake me up. She was standing on my chest insisting that my choices were strictly circumscribed. Either get up and feed her, or there’d be a wet cat tongue in my ear.

Being that the much-feared and detested wet willy was worse than a graduate school dissertation committee or standing in the shop wondering what to do, I got up to the sound of satisfied purring.

Like, Wow!

He thought he was done collecting herbs for the day. I said, “where in the hell in my nip!” He said, tomorrow. I suggested a wet willy in the ear at 3 AM might be just the ticket. He went right back to the garden.

Like, Wow! This is good stuff. Lots of sun, dry. It’s vintage year…let’s see Chateau Xenia 2022. I like the sound of that.

Damn, I’m so hungry. After food I’ll nap. Wow!


It’s intolerable. I attempt to edit his work, and he undoes my added spaces, asterisks, periods, and commas. I am almost bleary-eyed looking at the monitor. I could be passive, like other cats, but I have a reputation to maintain. I want to win the prize as best feline editor.

But of course, being that he frustrates my best efforts, he’ll never become an award-winning author who gets up to accept a significant prize and thanks his cat for all the support. I suppose I’ll just go back to sleeping on the keyboard.


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