The Cat and the Commode

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The Cat and the Commode

James R. Aist

(Warning: This story is hilarious, but it contains a potentially offensive word picture. Read at your own risk!)

I love house cats, especially when they are tiny kittens…innocent, curious and eager to explore new things. They just do the darndest things! This story took place when we were living in a small country house near Ithaca, NY. We had gotten a couple of kittens, Missy and Muffet, just a few days earlier. As it turns out, baby animals are fascinated with water, and some seem to be drawn to it, especially the tinkling sound produced by falling water. Missy was no exception, as I was about to find out. Now, keep in mind that what I am about to tell you occurred rapidly in real time, much faster than you can read about it.

We had a lavatory just off of one corner of the kitchen. One afternoon I felt the need to relieve myself and “make my bladder gladder”, if you catch my drift. So, into the lavatory I went and began to take care of business. Almost immediately I noticed, out of the corner of my right eye, a small, fuzzy animal trotting in through the open door to see what was going on. It was my little Missy, come to investigate the tinkling sound. Immediately I got the feeling that this may not end well for her.

She stopped and sat down about a foot away from the commode and peered inquisitively toward the source of the tinkling sound. I thought that was really cute of her. But, then she began to go into that nervous little crouch that cats do when preparing to pounce. I said to myself, “Surely she’s not going to actually try to jump up onto the edge of the toilet bowl to get a better view of the falling “water.” But alack and alas, that’s exactly what she had in mind, so up she goes. Problem was, she didn’t yet know that toilet bowls were not solid on top. Another problem was, she didn’t know to compensate for her forward momentum as she tried to land on the edge of the toilet bowl. Next thing I know, she is hopelessly tipping toward where the stream was entering the toilet water, her frantic struggles to gain her balance notwithstanding. So, in she plopped, legs and tail flailing frantically as she tried to stay afloat. By this time I was already beginning to see the humor in this learning experience for Missy. She quickly made her way across to the other side, managed to scramble up onto the other side of the the toilet bowl, dropped down onto the floor, and tried to shake off as much of the “water” as she could. So, I decided to just keep tinkling, because I reckoned she wasn’t injured and surely had learned not to do that again! She would go around behind me to get away and run out the door, right?

But alack and alas, again, that was not the case. I watched her square around toward the commode and, once again, go into that tell-tale crouch. “Surely”, I thought to myself, “she will not jump up there again, after all that!” But upsy-daisy, here she came, and with the exact same result. Now I was laughing so hard it was a struggle to control my stream, but I managed. Then, I quickly grabbed a towel and dried Missy off as best I could. For her part, she just casually walked away, as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

I’m not convinced that Missy really learned anything from that episode, but I sure did: next time, close that darned door!

(To read more of my short stories, click HERE)

Sounds a Bit Fishy to Me: The “Catch 2”

Sounds a Bit Fishy to Me: The “Catch 2”

 James R. Aist

Just a couple of years before, we had built our pond on Snyder Hill, near Ithaca, New York and stocked it with “baby” largemouth bass. By this time, these bass had finally grown to a length (ten inches) that was legal to catch, and I figured it was time to start fishing. So, one Saturday morning in June, my 10-year-old son, Greg, and I decided to go fishing for the first time in our new pond.

In eager anticipation, we gathered up our fishing gear and headed for the pond, just 100 feet from our house. Now, these young bass had never even seen a fishhook, much less an artificial lure, so we figured it would be easy to fool them using plastic worms that I had rigged with multiple fishhooks (My good friend, John, had long ago taught me to put a tiny hook right at the tail end of the plastic worm, just in case a small fish would decide to bite there). The water was clear enough for us to see the plastic worms – and the fish following them – as we reeled in the line. This was going to be fun!

We took up our positions on either side of the swimming dock I had built on the far side of the pond, where the deep water was. Then we began casting, slowly reeling in our plastic worms so as to make them rotate, giving the impression that they were wriggling their way toward the bank. With my very first cast, several bass began to follow the lure, and one of them bit the worm near the middle and got hooked. So, I quickly jerked the rod to “set the hook” and reeled him in immediately. After catching another bass on my second cast, I noticed that even after a bass was hooked, other bass would continue to follow and nip at the “wriggling” tip of the plastic worm, where I had strategically placed the small fishhook.

After landing a bass with each of my first three casts, I was filled with confidence, pride and mischief. It was then that it occurred to me how I might impress Greg with my advanced fishing skills. So, I told Greg to watch my next cast, because I was going to catch two fish with one cast (shades of Babe Ruth and his famous homer, for you Yankee fans). At first, he thought I was just kidding around, but I confidently, and at the risk of appearing braggadocios, insisted that I was not. What happened next both blew his mind and vindicated me.

I cast my plastic worm out as far as I could toward the middle of the pond. Right away, a bass struck and got himself hooked toward the middle of the plastic worm, and I set the hook. But this time, I didn’t real him in right away. Instead, I “played” him for a while (i.e., I let him swim back-and-forth trying to get away). The idea was that if I played the first bass long enough, then one of the other bass would continue nipping at the free end of the worm and also get hooked, on the tiny hook at the tip. That way I could catch two bass with one cast. So I did, and I did; I caught two bass on the same worm with just one cast! That was thrilling, indeed, the more so because the water was clear enough for me to see the entire episode as it unfolded.

Well, Greg was duly impressed, and I was both impressed (with myself) and relieved that I had made good on my brag. We had really good fishing that day, and for the next few months as well, because the bass had not yet caught on to the ruse that we were perpetrating on them with artificial lures. But, all too soon, the bass began to grow out of their naiveté and catch (pun intended) on to us. That’s when we, too, had to become smarter, in order to catch them with any regularity. But, we never forgot that epic first day, when the bass were young and naïve, and we could have our way with them, even to the extent of this “two for one” fishing tale (which, by the way, is truly a true tale, really).

(For more of my True Tales, click HERE)

The Garage Sale: A Tale of Procrastination

Garage saleThe Garage Sale: A Tale of Procrastination

by Angie Brown, Guest Author

My house on “The Haskell” in Portville had sold, and I was preparing to move out and begin a new phase of life… at 92 years of age! The contrast between the cluttered garage next to the neat kitchen was very noticeable, so, labeling it an emergency, I started to sort the contents of the garage. This puttery work is time-consuming and boring, but by the afternoon, one corner of the garage had been transformed into something more presentable. I was contemplating having a garage sale in a few weeks when I happened to remember a commitment I had made. So, I stopped my work on the garage to fulfill my promise. This seemingly innocent detour turned into a parade of more fun and interesting interruptions that occupied my time and energy for more than a week; would I ever get back to preparing for the garage sale?

First, I received an invitation to go on a short trip, which I happily accepted. Returning full of energy and high spirits from the trip, I realized it was blueberry season. The blueberry farm was in the neighborhood, so I trotted over there and picked a good-sized basketful. On the way home, I decided to make some blueberry jam, something I hadn’t done in several years. So of course, I proceeded to make the preserves and stood admiring the full glasses on the counter.  “Home-made bread would be good with that,” I said to myself.

So, the next day I mixed up some dough and baked two loaves of bread. By that time, the jam was cool and set. I cut a thick slice from the heel of warm bread and smeared it generously with the freshly made jam. While standing at the kitchen window, I wolfed down the bread and jam and relished every delicious crumb. From the window I could see that the lawn needed raking. The grass had gotten rather long, and, when cut, had left clumps of dried grass, which were unsightly. Postponing the garage work again, I took a rake, and, expending some of the energy from the bread and jam, I raked up six bushels of grass clippings and piled them up on the compost pile.

The following day, I had a call from my sister in Rochester telling me she would visit soon. So after she arrived, we had a week on the town, shopping, eating out, and visiting relatives. The garage would have to wait!

Finally returning to the clutter in the garage, I began, reluctantly, moving and organizing things at a slow pace when I saw the mailman stop out front. I hurried out to the mailbox and picked out a letter from my daughter, who lived 160 miles away in Ithaca. Tearing it open and reading the contents, I found that they were short and to the point. “Mother,” it read, “I am coming Saturday to help you with the garage sale.” Uh-oh, I’d better get busy, now!

So, with a new-found sense of urgency, I sprang into action and sensed a powerful surge of energy. By the end of that day, I had everything under control. Only the signs had to be made and posted. I must say that I had a splendid feeling of accomplishment. Reflecting on the events of that day, I reckoned that the crime of procrastination can be solved by a little motivation!

(For more articles by Angie Brown, click HERE)

The Cat in the Bag

English: Young Maine Coon cat in paper bagThe Cat in the Bag

James R. Aist

Cats can be not only good little buddies, but also good entertainment. That is, if you pay attention and take time to interact with them. This funny story took place because I paid attention and took a moment to interact with our cat, Clyde, at just the right time.

We were living in a small, two-story frame house on Snyder Hill, just outside of Ithaca, in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY. One lazy Saturday afternoon, shortly after we had returned from shopping and were unloading our shopping bags in the appropriate rooms, I lingered for a moment, in the small upstairs bedroom at the end of the hallway, to put away some of the spoils of our shopping spree. Then I heard behind me the familiar sound of “someone” rattling a paper shopping bag that, innocently, I had left on the floor. So, I turned to see exactly what I expected to see: Clyde was in the bag poking and scratching mischievously at the sides, just to hear the mysterious noise it made when he struck it.

Now, this happened not to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill paper grocery bag; this one had those paper loops at the top which served as handles for ease of toting. Ignoring the handles for the moment, I began to playfully poke and scratch at the bag from the outside, also mischievously, to see if I could spook the cat and get in on the fun. Well, it wasn’t long before Clyde became so spooked by (what must have seemed to him as) the bag poking and scratching back, that he panicked and burst suddenly out of the bag at breakneck speed in order to escape the “bag monster” within. Problem was, he was ignoring the handles on the bag as much as I was. Until, that is, it became evident that in exiting the bag in a panic, he had accidentally put his head through one of the handles and was dragging the bag ever so close behind him. When he heard the noise of the bag behind him, he looked back in full stride to see what was making the noise and saw that the bag was actually chasing him! This discovery put a sudden look of terror on his face, and he kicked it into high gear. I had no idea he could even run that fast.

By this time I was beginning to laugh uncontrollably, as compassion for my little buddy had not yet kicked in. Out the doorway and down the hallway he bolted, with the ensnared bag keeping pace with every leap and bound he made. Just then (after I had had my jollies, that is) my heart became flooded with compassion, and I ran after him to free him of the “bag monster.” Of course, this just added to his panic attack, because now he had both a “bag monster” and a “giant monster” chasing him! So, he went into overdrive. Turning the corner, he raced down the stairs at lightning speed, banged into the closet door at the bottom, turned left and began making circles through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the living room again, etc. I was hopelessly chasing behind him, desperately trying to grasp the bag from behind and set him free (By the way, have you ever chased behind a paper bag moving at ~ 10 MPH, stooping forward every second or two to grasp the bottom of the bag with one hand, while laughing uncontrollably? I think not. Well, I can assure you, it’s no easy task!).

Fortunately, Clyde began to tire out, and I was finally able to get control of the bag, and, with expert precision, extract his head from the handle. Now, I’m sure he was thankful later that I had rescued him from the “bag monster”, but his immediate reaction was to run from both the bag and me as fast as he could go, the little ingrate!

(For more articles on TRUE TALES, click HERE)