Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cousin Catnip from the Cornfields

We now return to KITT-FM, where it's all kittens, all the time. And now, broadcasting live from our studios in Purrbank, Cat-ifornia - heeeeere's your hostess, Mother Catresa!

Hi folks!

I've had a rough week: Rum Tum Tugger, my senior cat, is very sick with some kind of respiratory infection. I had to take him to the ER on Friday, and to the vet again today. He is staying overnight for treatment, because he is so weak and dehydrated, and hasn't eaten for a few days. Please keep sweet little Rum Tum, and his mom, in your prayers.

The vet is confident that the orange tabby trooper will pull through, and that he will recover fully after home care. And he'd better, because on Friday, his aunt Jaime - otherwise known as Cousin Catnip from the Cornfields - is paying Mother Catresa a visit from Illinois! Catnip and Rum Tum, a longtime buddy of hers, will be roommates in my guest room. They should keep each other company.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Cousin Catnip from the Cornfields, and how she got that way.

It all started back in 1999 - wow, it's the 10-year anniversary of that dramatic life change and grand adventure! I was working in my first post-college job as a staff writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram back in Texas. Yet as good as that looked on my resume, I was like a brand-new Porsche with four flat tires: I looked great, but I wasn't going anywhere. It was a great job in some ways, but clearly, advancement and greater challenges were not possible.

I could write an entire anthology on this chapter of my life, but I'll put it in a nutshell: after numerous job doors slammed in my face, I opted for something else - graduate school. I applied and was accepted into the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, one of the most pretigious master's programs in the country for journalism.

I am so proud to be an alumna of that program, and also to say that I worked a reporting/writing internship for Copley News Service at the Illinois Statehouse in 2000, when Barack Obama was a state senator! The next President of the United States, in my midst? Wow, what a trip. And both Catnip and I lived in a 1920s-style apartment complex just down the road from the Downtown Springfield governor's mansion, where lived the corrupt George Ryan, who since has joined the Illinois governors' wing of prison. (Hey, George? Kellie from Texas here. Remember me? That bratty student from down South who grilled you at a news conference, and whom you chewed out? Say hi to Blagojevich for me, will you?)

Anyway, I left my home, friends and job in Texas - very difficult and scary emotionally - and embarked on my journey up to the cornfields of Central Illinois for a one-year program. It turned out to be a wonderful new beginning for my career and life in general, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. Even the student loan bills.

So, it's there that I met Catnip, who simply was known as Jaime at the time. Well, actually, I sometimes called her Scarecrow, and she called me Dorothy, and we once sang, "Ding-Dong, the Witch is Dead!" We even bought red shoes and clicked our heels. But that "Wizard of Oz" thing is another story.

She, too, was an animal lover, and instantly bonded with my two cats - Rum Tum and Buster, who, God rest his soul, went up to kitty heaven on Oct. 31, 2007. I remember a big laugh when, just a few weeks into the year, our classmate Holly said, at a party, "So, how are your cats? Boom-Boom and Bruce, right?"

It was a hilarious misunderstanding of my cats' names, and the wrong names still stuck as the occasional nickname (Buster "Bruce" Gormly, for instance).

Well, Catnip really did enjoy my cats. I'll never forget the time when, on a glorious Sunday morning, we were getting ready to walk to a nearby church for a worship service. I started panicking, because I couldn't find Rum Tum - one of the feline world's sneakiest hiders - anywhere. After combing the place and looking for Rum Tum everywhere but inside the bathtub drain, we finally found him - smooshed between the wall and the back of the old-fashioned gas stove. We had to chase him out with a broom!

So then, years later, Jaime became Triple-C when Kellie became Mother Catresa, and Catnip instantly became one of my biggest fans. In fact, Catnip promises that when she buys her own house, she will start a St. Louis-area campus for the Mother Catresa operation. In fact, I am seeking associates all over the country who want to resuce kittens - any volunteers?

Hey, Catnip? I'm holding you to that. But in the meantime, you just get yourself down here, and I'll show you a good time in Pittsburgh. Rum Tum, the girls (my new cats, whom you haven't met) and the two foster kittens - Brita and Babe - are waiting. Oh yeah, I am too.

Until next time, I remain,

Mother Catresa
Patron Saint of Homeless Felines
(and the "smitten kitten")

1 comment:

sapoigirl said...

Cousin Catnip here! Can't wait to see my three kitty god daughters and sauve Mr. Rum Tum tomorrow. And of course Mama C too!